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Editorial: The Debris of History
Farewell America - Available Online here
Over the past few days I've been thinking a lot about John Kennedy and what our world might have been like if he had lived. These thoughts didn't just come out of the blue, they are the result of the fact that I have just finished reading one of the saddest books ever written: Farewell America by the pseudonymous author, James Hepburn.
Farewell America is pretty well accepted to have been authored by the French equivalent of our CIA, and based on hard intelligence gathered from French, Russian, and even American sources. It was originally published in French in 1968, but it was unavailable in the United States for many years. With the coming of the worldwide web, it became available and I truly wish that every American citizen would read it.
With remarkable skill and insight, the book outlines the overall situation in America at the time, and describes the players and most probable conspirators involved in the horrific and brutal public execution of probably the best president America ever had. There are many reasons to think that George H.W. Bush was involved in the plot, and today, having placed his idiot son on the throne, the world is as far away from that world we could be living in had Kennedy lived, that it is like we all died back then, and now we have awakened in Hell.
They weren't satisfied to just kill Jack Kennedy; they went for his brother as well. And when John-John grew up and began to display the same characteristics of his father: decency, intellect, and a sense of obligation to help others, he had to die also. The situation actually has all the makings of an immortal myth: the good and noble Prince snatched from his cradle and replaced with the psychopathic offspring of an ogre.
I don't know if it is only me noticing these things, but it seems all the GOOD heroes are dead; and we notice that they all had three things in common: an ability to move the masses by their simple presence, a feeling of unity with all people regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or social status; and the most important of all, the thing that meant they had to die: they were totally opposed to War. Is it too "conspiracy minded" to point this out? To wonder how the human race has had such inexplicable bad luck to have lost all it's decent, anti-War heroes?
Well, anyway, we are left now to our own devices; or rather, at the mercy of the ravening, bloodthirsty wolves that took away from all of us the best hope we ever had: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, tearing him to bloody pieces right before our eyes.
And what did America do?
Nothing. And on the day that the American people allowed their president to die on the street, a victim of the filthiest examples of deviant humanity ever to take human form, and NOT rise up en masse to demand that the killers be brought to justice, that is the day America died.
This coming November 22nd is the 43rd anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy. I will be thinking about him every day and I will be sharing with all of you my journey back in time to that awful day when I was in my classroom and the regular programming was interrupted to tell me that my beloved president had died. So, let us begin.
The soft, the complacent
the self-satisfied societies
will be swept away
with the debris of history -
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Extracted from: Farewell America
Americans are the sons of Calvin. John Calvin preached that the pursuit of wealth and the preservation of property is a Christian duty. He taught that the temptations of the flesh demand a discipline as strict as that of the military profession. "He created an ideal type of man theretofore unknown to both religion and society, who was neither a humanist nor an ascetic, but a businessman living in the fear of God." (1)
Two centuries later, this new type of man came under the influence of John Wesley. (2) "We exhort all Christians to amass as much wealth as they can, and to preserve as much as they can; in other words, to enrich themselves." For President Madison, "The American political system was founded on the natural inequality of men." Correlatively, the moral philosophy of the United States is based on success.
At the end of the Eighteenth Century a Frenchman, the Chevalier de Beaujour, wrote on his return from North America,
"The American loses no opportunity to acquire wealth. Gain is the subject of all his conversations, and the motive for all his actions. Thus, there is perhaps no civilized nation in the world where there is less generosity in the sentiments, less elevation of soul and of mind, less of those pleasant and glittering illusions that constitute the charm or the consolation of life. Here, everything is weighed, calculated and sacrificed to self-interest."
Another Frenchman, the Baron de Montlezun, added,
"In this country, more than any other, esteem is based on wealth. Talent is trampled underfoot. How much is this man worth? they ask. Not much? He is despised. One hundred thousand crowns? The knees flex, the incense burns, and the once-bankrupt merchant is revered like a god."
The British went even farther than the French.
"They are escaped convicts. His Majesty is fortunate to be rid of such rabble. Their true God is power." (3)
In an introduction to a series of articles by historian Andrew Sinclair, the Sunday Times wrote in 1967,
"In the five centuries since Columbus discovered the New World, savagery has been part of American life. There has been the violence of conquest and resistance, the violence of racial difference, the violence of civil war, the violence of bandits and gangsters, the violence of lynch law, all set against the violence of the wilderness and the city."
The opinion of these Europeans is subject to question, but George Washington, speaking of the future of American civilization, commented that he would not be surprised by any disaster that might occur.
The disasters began as triumphs. The conquest of the West, the rise of the merchants, the industrial revolutions were America's great crusades, and from them were issued her Titans and her gods. Every civilization has its ideal man. an archetype that stands as a model for the average citizen. Athens chose the philosopher and the artist; for the Jews, it was the law-giving prophet; for Rome, the soldier-administrator; for China, the learned Mandarin; for England, the empire builder; for Japan and German, and professional soldier; for India, the ascetic. For the United States, it was the businessman!
While other nations might have chosen wisdom, beauty, saintliness, military glory, bravery or asceticism as their popular divinities, the United States chose the civilization of gain. The true gods and the only Titans of America were Jay Gould, Daniel Drew, Jay Cooke, Andrew Carnegie, Charles T. Yerkes, Solomon Guggenheim and Irenee Du Pont.
Some of these men, like J. Pierpont Morgan, became gay, high-living nabobs. But most, like Henry Ford, were frugal and dreary puritans. All of them, even the most devout, even the most devoted, even the most sincere, had one thing in common: where business was concerned, they were tough. The churches approved of this attitude. In his book Heroes of Progress, the Reverend McClinock wrote:
"May he long enjoy the fruits of his work and promote the reign of Christ on this earth, not only through the Christian use of the vast fortune with which God has favored him, but through the living example of his active and peaceful piety."
He was referring to Daniel Drew, who cheated his associates, bribed municipal governments, and took advantage of the credulity of the people.
The first American giants -- Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, McKay, McCoy -- whether they were oilmen, shipowners, prospectors or livestock dealers, made or consolidated their fortunes by smuggling arms and supplies during the Civil War. Today's Titans are often college graduates. Some are affable and well-bred. They constitute an oligarchy of directorial bureaucrats who, while lacking the personal fortunes of the old Titans, have preserved their power and conserved their practices. For them, and it is true, profit is "the remuneration of a decision made in conditions of uncertainty." (4) But this equation has become the basis for a moral philosophy that takes neither the nation nor the individual into account.
"Men who spend every weekday making money, and every Sunday at the Temple, are not made to inspire the muse of Comedy," wrote Alexandre de Tocqueville, and he was correct. The standards of American society have been raised to untouchability. The dollar remains the criterion of worth and success. Money is the only real measure of human beings and things, and American society, while classless, is nothing more than a graph of economic levels. (5) "That which a people honors most becomes the object of its cult," wrote Plato. This is a democratic notion in so far as it offers everyone a chance, or at least appears to, but its rigidity leaves room for all kinds of excesses.
In other times and on other continents, these Titans would have been, if not scorned, at least gauged by their relative worth. But the Titans have become the pride of every American citizen. In no other society is the cult of the successful man so strong, and it is unwise to disregard it. "America has been built by individual effort and a recognition of individual responsibility . . . Government may guide and help its citizens, but it cannot supply talent to those who do not have it, or bestow ambition or creative ability on those who are not born with these qualities." (6)
This morality demands the tolerance or the complicity of those who hold political power: Congress and the President.
Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt were accidents along the way, deviates from the American mythology. An American who enters politics for unselfish reasons is regarded with suspicion. His attitude can only conceal a lust for power or a senseless and dangerous devotion to the "public welfare." Politics and the public welfare have little in common, and the activities of a politician are not considered normal or comprehensible unless they are pursued for selfish and material gain. President Jackson was condemned in 1831 by Vincenne's Gazette in these terms: "Ambition is his crime, and it will be his undoing."
Harold Laski has written that "a strong President is a moral threat" to all those who have toiled to build an American society whose prosperity is based on initiative, energy and efficiency, but also on what Europeans call corruption, an additional arm made available to those whose sole motivation is profit. America, wrote George Washington, is a country where political offices bear no proportion to those who seek them.
America accepted Franklin D. Roosevelt only because she had no other alternative. She found herself again in Harry Truman, a solid citizen with no perverse ambitions who declared that "the combined thought and action of a people always lead in the right direction." (7) Eisenhower was the ideal President. A victorious commander, he dazzled the crowds. Inconsistent, he had no dangerous political philosophy. A petty bourgeois, he dared not oppose the Titans.
And suddenly Kennedy appeared, the first President born in this century, a millionaire, a liberal, and an intellectual. The Democratic candidate nevertheless made no attempt to conceal his aims.
"In the decade that lies ahead -- in the challenging revolutionary sixties -- the American Presidency will demand more than ringing manifestoes issued from the rear of the battle. It will demand that the President place himself in the very thick of the fight, that he care passionately about the fate of the people he leads, that he be willing to serve them at the risk of incurring their momentary displeasure."
"We stand today at the edge of a New Frontier -- the frontier of the 1960's -- a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils -a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats." (8)
"Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom promised our nation a new political and economic framework. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal promised security and succor to those in need. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises -- it is a set of challenges. It sums up, not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their price, not their pocketbook -- it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security . . ." (9)
"The Scriptures tell of a time when there were giants on the earth, and that is what our country needs today. This is not the time for futilities. This is not the time for petty complaints and half-measures. This is the time for men of action, not men of words -- this is the time for giant hearts, not faint hearts . . ." (10)
"We have no time for complacency, timidity, or doubt. This is a time for courage and action." (11)
"The old era has ended. The old ways will not do." (12)
It was all so beautiful, so unreal, that no one believed it. They even admired his inscrutability, his ingenuity in using a metaphor borrowed from American folklore, from the myth of the West, to mask a demagogy that was all the more inoffensive because it seemed credible. Others, more cunning, grew concerned when, in West Virginia, under the low roofs of a forgotten America, the Senator from Massachusetts spoke to the abandoned miners, to the unemployed, to the families vegetating in the hills. America began to ask herself if Kennedy was speaking seriously when he bent towards the little people and the forgotten.
Kennedy's socialism aimed at enriching the poor rather than impoverishing the rich, but it was dangerous nevertheless. For one hundred million Americans, the gravest danger, after bankruptcy, is that those just behind may catch up with them. The nouveaux rich are only rich so long as no one grows richer. The have-nots live in constant fear of the down-and-outs, and the hate and fear of the little Puerto Rican for New York are really no more than the hate and fear of half of New York for the little Puerto Rican.
Millions of Americans have risen from the proletariat to the middle class with insufficient intellectual means. They or their sons want to continue to climb the ladder of society. This new American bourgeoisie, which has risen by its own toil, works less today and lives better, and pays less taxes. It claims to be descended from the Pilgrim Fathers, but its origins go back to the washing machine. The Great Society is essentially sectarian and violent. Its mottoes are "each man for himself," "it's none of their business" and "woe to the vanquished."
Today's American is at the mercy of his anxieties. The United States has grown so wealthy that she has lost touch with the rest of the world. America is neither here nor there, be it a question of power or of weakness. She no longer knows what is happening on this earth. Her universe exists in the third person.
The difference continues to widen between the American radicalism of the Thirties and the radicalism of today, whose ethical basis is possession. True, this basis can be traced far back into the American past, and finds its theme song in the ballads of the Far West, where men killed for a horse or a bottle of beer. But Jeffersonian tradition placed, or restored, human values above real estate values.
Hemingway's Americans saw the Spanish Civil War as a struggle for the preservation of spiritual as opposed to material values: the power of the Church, the domination of the Army, and the wealth of the big landowners. They were in sympathy with the other Spain, although to all appearances it was Red. But today, when a majority of Americans are landowners, what other insurgents scattered throughout the earth still have the sympathy, or at least the comprehension, of a sufficient number of Americans, of the men who nevertheless trace their origins back to the revolutionaries of the Thirteen States of the Union? And let no man be mistaken about the struggle for civil rights. The Negroes too want to become landowners.
America is no longer a young nation. There is New York, of course, superlatively demanding, offering, in the absurd and the sordid, the crude atmosphere of youth and folly of a town in search of its identity. Its culture is centered on the Jew and the Negro. It is a young city, but it is not an American city. It rejects the provincialism, the racism, the folklore, the religion, and the superpatriotism of the ordinary small town, whose preoccupations are diametrically opposed to the policies of any progressive and imaginative government.
Imagination itself has become "un-American." It is accepted, but with fear and distrust, when it embellishes a concrete experience, the story of how a fortune was made or a victory won. But where it exists solely for itself, when it becomes a culture or a dialectic, it is no longer tolerated." Americans are insensitive to philosophical ideas. They need something tangible, something concrete, something that has been acted on the stage. Acted, that is, seen and felt. What is said is not important. We are not impressed by explanations, and verbal play leaves us indifferent. What we want is action." (13)
It was to men without imagination that Kennedy addressed these words:
"Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need -- not as a call to battle, though embattled are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle . . ."
The message got through, but there was something suspicious about the style. Culture is a major threat to modern American society. A society fears its deserters more than its enemies, and in its mind intelligence is too often equated with leftism. Kennedy said, "Our nation cannot allow itself to be economically rich and intellectually poor." And Steinbeck added, "What a joy that literacy is no longer prima facie evidence of treason."
But a portion of American society instinctively understood that Kennedy was declaring war on its own. "High society," like the middle classes, felt only suspicion or dislike for his university professors. The American upper crust tries in so far as possible to preserve itself in a superb state of ignorance. For these people, brilliant men like Theodore C. Sorensen or Adlai E. Stevenson, the kind of men who are too poor to leave big tips and too proud to accept them, are intruders in a society that places no value on pure intellect, or accepts it only when it occurs in one of its sons.
These well-to-do, these profiteers, these weaklings, and these simple people had one thing in common: their fear of everything that Kennedy represented. His principal fault was that he was not like them. He did not share their desires and their complacency, their weaknesses and their intolerance. These citizens of the Twentieth Century had no conception of the responsibilities of a President whose role, in reality, is that of viceroy of the universe.
The United States has never faced the irreparable. She has never even experienced a catastrophe. She has known no Roman domination, no barbarian invasion, no feudal wars, no massive bloodbaths. In consequence, she finds it difficult to accept a dominant leader. On the contrary, she wants a President who is subject to the will of his constituents, and even of his adversaries.
The chances of becoming President of the United States are extremely slight, even for a man in the forefront of public life, and such opportunism is needed that the way is left open for a mediocre but crafty politician who knows how to please. With Eisenhower, the United States was content to spend eight years in an armchair. The intellectual emancipation and the agitation of the new generation succeeded at the beginning of the Sixties in defeating, by a narrow margin, the advocates of a placid administrator of a complacent nation devoted to the welfare of the majority -- in other words, corrupt. It was the strength of his electoral organization that carried Kennedy to victory, with the help, perhaps, of the seasonal favor of an actual minority that suddenly tired of mediocrity or, like a woman, was momentarily seduced.
But, once he was President, Kennedy set out immediately to give the nation a sense of responsibility and of pathos. This was all the more disturbing in that it was abstract, and therefore unfamiliar. How many of the 185 million Americans in 1960 sensed that this man would betray their heritage, the American way of life, the established order?
Often primitive, readily stubborn, and capable of sudden violence, the American character contains dangerous elements with which men like Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt have had to contend. If, as Machiavelli wrote, men find it easier to forget the loss of their father than that of their patrimony, then "there is nothing more difficult, more dangerous, than to try to change the order of things."
1. Herbert J. Muller.
2. Founder of the Methodists.
3. Oliver Sharpin, The American Rebels, 1804.
4. Professor B. S. Keirstead.
5. "An American citizen is now worth $200,000" (Dallas Morning News).
6. David Lawrence, US News and World Report, January 18, 1965.
7. Harry Truman, Mister President.
8. In Washington, January 14, 1960.
9. At Los Angeles, July 15, 1960.
10. At Anchorage, September 3, 1960.
11. At Detroit, September 5, 1960.
12. At Seattle, September 6, 1960.
13. Arthur Miller.
Comment on this Editorial
Editorial: Texas Versus Tel Aviv: US Policy in the Middle East
By James Petras
10/30/06 "Information Clearing House"
The struggle within the US power structure between the economic empire builders (EEB) and the civilian militarists/Zioncons over US Middle East and global policy is now out in the open and intensifying. The EEB now have a politically powerful organizational expression, the Baker Commission (known officially as the Iraq Study Group) led by the formidable former Secretary of State, James Baker. The EEB are backed by a group of bipartisan congressional leaders, sectors of the traditional military elite, a powerful coalition of Texas-based oil and gas groups and sectors of Wall Street financial houses and potentially a large majority of public opinion. Against them are the civilian militarists in the Pentagon, State Department and White House (Rumsfelt, Chaney, Rice, Bolton and Bush), a declining majority of Congressional Democrats and Republicans, the Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations headed by the America-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and their influential apparatchiks in the mass media and their numerous 'grass roots' political fronts (political action committees).
What is at stake is of fundamental importance to the future of US politics; not only in the Middle East, which is the immediate catalyst for the drawing up of sides, but the entire way in which US policy is formulated and equally important how the US will engage in defending and expanding its global empire.
Crises and Opportunities: The Basis of Confrontation
Several factors have converged to precipitate this intra-elite confrontation. First and foremost is the prolonged, costly and un-winnable war in Iraq. The Zioncon-civilian-militarist (ZCCM) policy of colonial invasions and military occupation in pursuit of destroying Israel's adversaries and enhancing its dominance of the Middle East has weakened the US efforts to sustain its global dominance. The vast absorption of military resources, troops, reserves and logistical support systems in pursuit of a prolonged guerrilla war without end, has severely weakened Washington's capacity to apply military force to intimidate and enforce or intervene in other strategic regions or countries of conflict. The military losses in Iraq have undermined domestic public support for present and future overseas military interventions in support of empire building. The sustained military and political resistance to the vast US military occupation army has lowered the intimidation factor so necessary in sustaining imperial diplomacy. In a word, the Iraq war has become a major impediment to empire building, its defense and its domestic economic and political support, a principal motivating factor in the crystallization of the Baker Commission.
Secondly the ZCCM policy of promoting Israel's Middle East supremacy is enormously damaging to some of the biggest petroleum and financial institutions in the US. At a time when the headlines of the major financial press read "seas of cash flooding into the Gulf brings an explosion of investment companies", "Dubai plans fund to tap Gulf liquidity" and "Global insurers see rich seam to be mined in Saudi Arabia",(Financial Times Oct 19, 2006 p.4), the White House and Pentagon plot new highly destabilizing military confrontations with Syria and Iran, potentially wrecking hundreds of billions of dollars in lucrative investments, contracts and returns. The entire Zioncon political apparatus is the only major force in the US consistently pushing for Congressional and Executive military action jeopardizing the potential profits of major US petroleum, investment banking, insurance and other key sectors of the US global economic elite. The paradox is that many of the same wealthy investment bankers eager to tap into the Middle East bonanza are the same groups, which finance the AIPAC-Zioncon warmongers. This raises concerns of cross pressures, double allegiances, tribal loyalties and dollar signs!
From the perspective of defending US global interests, being tied down militarily in Iraq in a long-term, large-scale engagement is not only counterproductive but has created a political crisis. The domestic consensus among the political elite concerning the compatibility of imperialism and democracy is threatened with being torn asunder to sustain the war. The ZCCM power bloc increasingly resorts to authoritarian war powers totally at variance with the existing constitutional order peeling layers of legitimacy from the existing political system.
The Baker Commission is attempting to reassert the supremacy of the market over the military in defining the driving forces of empire building, that is, the economic interests of US petrol and finance capital over Israeli military dominance in shaping US Middle East interests.
For economic determinists, for whom foreign policy is simply the unmediated result of powerful economic interests, the failure of the US government to scuttle a mendicant, miniscule militarist state forever milking the US Treasury in favor of the most powerful US energy companies pursuing multi-billion dollar deals with resource-rich free-market Arab-Muslim countries is an inexplicable mystery. Inexplicable because these 'economic determinists' are either willfully blind or they deliberately choose to ignore the political power of the ZCCM power configuration in overriding US global economic interests. To continue with the current state of affairs is to deepen the political crisis of empire - both domestically and internationally - and to lose out on the greatest economic opportunities in the global economy.
The Empire Strikes Back
The relative passivity and/or impotence of the US 'empire firsters', in relation to the ZCCM, in the run up to the Iraq invasion can be attributed to several factors. In the first place there is the extraordinary systematic and well-organized penetration of the Bush Administration by the ZCCM. Armed with a 'mission', an intense and highly motivated belief in military action as the supreme arbiter of imperial expansion, the civilian militarists joined forces with the Zioncons who embraced with equal zeal their mission of using US military power to enhance Israeli dominance in the Middle East as the over-riding priority in US foreign policy.
During a long march through the institutions over the previous 25 years, the ZCCM was able to penetrate and take over all the key policy positions in the Pentagon, State Department and White House. While there were scattered objections by marginal voices - namely retired military officials, traditional conservatives, pacifists and leftists, few were able or willing to point their finger at the Zioncon power configuration especially after 9/11. More important, the economic empire builders lacked an alternative political leadership and bought into the civilian militarists 'War on Terror' as a necessary security strategy and the Pentagon-Zioncon claim that the Iraq invasion would result in a quick and complete victory (with plenty of benefits for all). The economic empire builders, accustomed to dealing with well-informed bright and capable pro-Israel colleagues in the financial world, assumed that their counterpart political-military strategists were equally competent in 'advising and directing' imperial politics. What the economic elite did not foresee was the fact that the Zioncon policy-makers did not share their political priorities: Zioncon policy was not directed toward creating a stable regime friendly to US political-economic interests but toward physically destroying any Arab or Muslim country capable of challenging Israeli domination of the region. Destroying Iraq for Greater Israeli-US dominance meant the dismembering of the Iraqi Republic, the imposition of a brutal US colonial regime and the gradual introduction of ethnically-cleansed tribal client regimes which would be subject to Israel interests and open to foreign oil companies. The promise of the latter was a 'sweetener' thrown in to secure big oil support or neutrality for the pro-Israeli (Israel-centered) policy.
While the ZCCM succeeded in destroying Iraq as a viable state and economy, thus accomplishing the Israeli goals of the war, the economic empire-builders witnessed the complete and total unraveling of all the political-economic payoffs promised by the Zioncons. The invasion led to prolonged peoples guerrilla war. The Zionist-designed destruction of the Iraqi state institutions (with Paul Bremer's dismissing all Iraqi state employees, officials and military personnel) led to hundreds of thousands of former trained and armed ex-soldiers, officers and police joining the armed resistance. Regional instability and hostility to US economic interests multiplied. As it became transparent throughout the Middle East and elsewhere that the ZCCM were masters of US Middle East policy and that Washington's priority was fighting Israel's wars, the US became a pariah in the Middle East, like its Israeli partner.
The misplaced confidence of a convergence of interests between the economic empire builders and the ZCCM soon gave way as the political and economic costs began to weigh on the minds of the ideologues and subsequently the political leaders of the economic elite. Numerous scatter-shot responses weakened the most vulnerable and obvious targets among the Zioncons. Initially it was the traditional conservatives who sounded the nationalist alarm, pointing to the Israel-Firsters' takeover of US policy in the interest of Israel. A much weaker, but pointed, criticism of the Israeli lobby appeared in the web pages of individual leftist writers. Former intelligence, FBI officials and retired colonels and generals with continued ties to their agencies attacked the Zioncons, referred to as 'neo-cons', for misleading and falsifying data in the run-up to the war. Key Israeli operatives in top echelons of the Pentagon (Wolfowitz and Feith) withdrew from office. The FBI arrested two leading members of AIPAC for spying for Israel. US public opinion, thanks to the internet and alternative sources of information and despite the massive pro-Israel bias in the corporate media, registered a near majority view that the Iraq invasion was in Israel's, not US, interests. Leading civilian militarists, Rumsfeld and Chaney, became the most disliked politicians in the Administrations.
Despite these setbacks in personnel, the ZCCM apparatus remained intact. AIPAC still drew raves from all the leading Congress members, Party and Executive officials at their yearly conference. Congress still provided near unanimous support for the Israel invasion of Lebanon, approval for over $3 billion dollars (the annual dole) to Israel, and enthusiastically backed Israel's starvation blockade of the democratically elected Palestinian government in Gaza. Rumsfeld, Chaney, Bush, Rice and the entire leadership of the Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations of America continued to pursue the 'war to victory' in Iraq and new wars strategies against Iran, Syria and elsewhere, even as Bush's popularity plummeted, the death toll among US soldiers surpassed 3000 and US economic weaknesses became more apparent.
The widespread, dispersed and muted criticism of the economic elite finally crystallized, particularly among the economic empire-builders, embodied in James Baker, lifetime confidant of the Bush family and 'man of confidence' in US-Middle East financial and petroleum circles.
The Baker Panel
The strength of the Zioncon power configuration is evident even in the manner and composition as well as the deliberations of the panel, which James Baker III has formed to present alternatives to current US policy in the Middle East. Baker's panel is bipartisan, including former Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders, CIA directors, a retired Supreme Court Justice, an ex-Secretary of Defense and other establishment notables. Secondly the panel does not include a single Zioncon ideologue, retired Bush Jr. administration official or allied Congressperson, though some are sprinkled among the scores of 'experts' involved in the four working groups. Baker's tactic is to be inclusive enough to represent various strands of elite opinion to buttress its authority when its report is presented to the President, Congress and the public, and selective to minimize the influence of the 'Israel Firsters' and the 'war to military victory' crowd. Thirdly the Baker Commission has as its strategic goal the subordination of military policy to economic empire building, rather than the current approach of harnessing economic policy to military conquests and Zioncon ideological missions. What this means in practical terms is giving greater room for diplomacy, heterodox political alliances based on common economic interests and pursuit of lucrative economic contracts and agreements with Arab and Muslim nations. Fourthly, the Baker Commission has not and will not directly attack the Zioncon power structure or even question the civilian militarists who run the Bush War Machine. Instead the panel will de facto set in notion a series of alternative policies which implicitly point to a new political administration - one which is free of the Israeli stranglehold on Washington's Middle East policy and beholden first and foremost to US empire building without the encumbrances of Israel's regional power grabs.
The tactic of ignoring the Zioncon power bloc while building an alternative is a delicate operation given the power of the Jewish lobbies to manipulate the 'anti-Israel', 'anti-Semite' labeling technique amplified by its Congressional and media acolytes. Hence the Baker Commission will reiterate the ritual affirmation of support for Israel's security and massive foreign aid package, while emphasizing greater pressure on Israel to resolve the Palestinian issue. How far Baker will move on the Palestinian issue depends on how much legitimacy he feels the Commission has to withstand a Zioncon-orchestrated calumny campaign. Will the Abe Foxmans of the ADL have the gall to accuse a bipartisan, gold ribbon establishment elite of being anti-Semite for not fighting Israel's wars and not backing Israel's policy of ethnic cleansing?
If Baker has moved methodically and prudently toward a re-orientation of US policy from the line pushed by the ZCCM, he has done so by carefully organizing an army of researchers, experts and notables whose reports will be distilled into a series of policy proposals which will argue for a 'winning empire-building strategy' as opposed to the current impasse and decline of empire. Baker knows first hand the power of the Zioncon configuration and therefore it is highly unlikely that he will openly attribute the current disastrous course of policy to the subordination of US policy to the interests of the State of Israel. Instead he has established an organizational apparatus whose composition in fact excludes the Zioncons, and therefore re-establishes US imperial interests as the centerpiece of policy-making. Likewise Baker will not directly confront Rumsfeld, Chaney, Rice, Elliot Abrams and the other civilian-militarists in power; instead he will present a series of findings and proposals, which will be incompatible with their tenure in office. Baker is counting on the growing majority of Republican and Democratic Congress-members questioning current policy, a shift in the mass media, growing dissent among active Generals, career State Department and Pentagon officials, sectors of the economic elite and massive repudiation by public opinion to force the Rumsfeld-Hadley-Abrams power center out of office and their replacement by officials and advisers more open to a new approach to the Middle East.
If it is true that the primary purpose of the Baker Commission is to take back US Middle East policy-making from the 'Israel Firsters' and secondly to subordinate military approaches to empire building to market interests, the question arises as to what strategic policies, tactical alliances, regional realignments and specific proposals dealing with the US military presence in Iraq Baker will propose? The Baker Plan
First and foremost it should be understood that Baker's perspective is how to protect US empire building on a global scale, and in particular defend and expand US imperial interests in the Middle East. Secondly he is concerned with a restoration of US military interventionist capability in the face of the precipitous losses in personnel and morale resulting from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Thirdly Baker is concerned with limiting the political-economic fallout of any reduction in US military presence in Iraq on strategic client states in the region. Fourthly he seeks to build new tactical relations with current adversaries without alienating Israel and subsequently its vociferous and aggressive agents in the US.
Within these parameters Baker has several lines of policy which are open and being explored. The Baker Options
In all likelihood, Baker's Panel will not recommend a phased withdrawal of US troops unless there is a collapse of the Iraqi army and police. Instead he will press for a policy of including the main combatants or insurgents (including the Baathists and pro-Iranians) in a 'power-sharing' scheme in the hope that the resistance can be fragmented, isolated and eventually weakened. This will be packaged as a 'new direction'. To that end Baker will propose negotiations with Iran and Syria in order to secure their influence in pressuring their allies in Iraq to join in the power-sharing scheme. In order to enter into discussion with Iran and Syria and to persuade them to cut off military support for the Iraqi resistance, he will have to offer some sort of peaceful coexistence, in effect dropping the threats of military intervention, economic sanctions and the funding of CIA-sponsored terrorist groups. Clearly Iran and Syria will not co-operate if Washington pursues the Zioncon militarist agenda of confrontation. Baker knows that within the Iranian power structure, there are liberal technocrats, wealthy business leaders, opportunistic clerics, corrupt state officials in the oil and gas sector and leading politicians who are open to negotiating with the US and eager to cut a deal with Washington, even at the expense of their Iraqi Shia colleagues - if Washington makes an offer of power-sharing in Iraq, drops its belligerent posturing and frees itself of the Zioncon policy of Israeli regional supremacy. Syria and Iran have a track record of collaborating with Washington in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq and even afterward, sharing intelligence and subsequently supporting the US-orchestrated electoral process. That important sectors of the Iraqi Shia resistance look to Iran for material and moral support is unquestionable; that they would abide by a US-Iranian agreement which in effect retains US military presence and its current puppets is doubtful. Baker may underestimate the degree of autonomy, which the local Shia resistance has secured. A US-Iranian-Syrian deal would also exclude the important role that the non-Shia (Sunnis, Baathists and others) resistance plays in the war.
The 'Yugoslav Solution', namely the breakup of the Iraqi Republic into client mini-states (what the Zioncons like Leslie Gelb, former President of the Council on Foreign Relations have advocated as a 'Tri-State Solution') is an option, which the Baker Commission is surely considering. This is the favored plan of the Democratic Party Hawks, like Hilary Clinton, Charles Schumer and Joseph Biden. This would involve the division of Iraq into a series of mini-fiefdoms run by US-Israeli clients: Kurds in the North, Sunni tribal leaders in the Center-West and a Shia South with Baghdad starved into submission. This would be a complicated, violent and difficult scheme to execute because it depends on massive ethnic cleansing, uprooting millions. Moreover the highly unequal geographical distribution of natural resources would exclude the most combative group - the Sunnis from the most lucrative sources of income.
The Tri-State Solution would require the break up of the current army and its reorganization along ethnic-religious lines at a time of highly volatile military conflict and with virtually no leadership with any standing in the resistance willing to settle for an impoverished fragment of a hitherto unified secular state. Apart from Iraqi tribal leaders, expatriate clients and the Kurds, the process of national-deconstruction would increase conflict, not ameliorate it. The positive side would be the strong support, which this proposal would receive from Israel and thus the entire Jewish Lobby and its clients -The US Congress and White House.
Almost without exception, Israel's ideological soldiers have taken to the opinion columns of all the major newspapers, television and radio shows (as self-reputed Middle East experts) to promote the breaking up of Iraq into mini-states and to pursue the killing fields beyond the over 650,000 slaughtered Iraqi civilians and 3,000 dead US soldiers. One only has to read the obscene op-ed articles which dominate the October 26, 2006 issue of the Financial Times to capture this unrelenting campaign to totally obliterate Iraq from the map and from Israel's cross hairs (see Michael Rubin's "Why Withdrawal from Iraq is the Worst Option", Lawrence Freedman's "America Must Learn to have Patience", Richard Betts' "Look to Bosnia, not Vietnam, for a Realistic Solution" Financial Times, October 26, 2006 page 13). Needless to say, with Jews representing less than 0.5% of US armed forces personnel and an even far smaller proportion being active soldiers on the front lines and with virtually none of the prominent Zioncon ideologues having children or grandchildren among the US occupation troops facing hostile Iraqi resistance, it is easy for the Rubins and Freedmans of the US and UK to preach 'patience' for an endless war.
Baker has to face up to a full-scale ideological offensive by Israel's US-based ideological soldiers, precisely as almost everyone else is turning against the war, and ever more Americans find the courage to point a finger of responsibility at the Jewish Lobby. Oblivious to their isolation among Americans concerned with the useless loss of American lives and limbs, the Israel-Firsters are focusing all their attention on influencing or neutralizing the recommendations, which come out of the Baker Commission. The Zioncons follow the British imperial dictum: Rule via unending war or ruin through tribal/ethnic mini-states.
Since serious diplomatic openings to Syria and Iran, which Baker has already suggested ("politics is about talking to your enemies"), are highly unlikely given the current direction of White House policy and given the lack of an Iraqi leader with any following willing to carve up the country, the Baker Panel may be inclined to pay lip-service to a proposal for a gradual 'redeployment', the gradual reduction of US combat troops from frontline positions. This may be making a virtue of necessity, as the US Generals in Iraq have stated, the US cannot long sustain 140,000 occupation troops. The 'redeployment strategy' however is not a strategy for withdrawal but a method of co-opting Democratic support for the continuation of the war into 2008, the Presidential election year- especially in light of Republican losses in Congress and the Senate. (Leading members of the Democratic Party, like Clinton, Biden and Schumer want to send even more troops to Iraq!) The lowering of US troop strength in the absence of a political power-sharing deal with the local insurgents and Iran however is likely to increase the likelihood of regime fragility and greater defections/infiltration of the US-directed 'Iraqi' Army. A US countdown will increase the likelihood of 'coalition' partners following suit even earlier and withdrawing their troops even before the Americans. Already the top British Army General Richard Dannatt took the unprecedented stand of publicly voicing his dissent from Prime Minister Blair's support for the war, stating that the presence of coalition troops only 'exacerbates the security problem in Iraq (Daily Mail (London), Oct 12, 2006).
The Baker Commission's task of finding 'new policies' to contain the effects of the Iraq invasion are incompatible with the increasingly belligerent Middle East policy pursued by the Bush White House and their Zioncon supporters. Baker cannot avoid challenging the Zioncon Middle East policy if he is to stabilize Iraq: he needs Iranian and Syrian co-operation to co-opt insurgents and/or subdivide Iraq. No amount of clever maneuvering, at which Baker excels (as witnessed by his 'smart moves' in the stolen election in Florida 2000), can avoid the hard realities of a losing regional war, in which the US is playing with an ever-weaker hand of cards. At some point, as the US debacle deepens and US public disapproval of Bush's handling of the invasion exceeds its current 62% and as the resistance to occupation itself grows and turns even bloodier, as the casualties and deaths of Americans climb by the hundreds each month, as the 'civil war' in Iraq totally undermines all government authority, as one US client replaces another and most of all as popular rebellion threatens the rule of the US strategic assets in the regions (like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt), then and only then in the name of the empire, of the free market and of oil will Baker be forced to turn against the Zioncon-militarists architects of Middle East policy and call for an accelerated withdrawal.
Needless to say US public opinion is running far ahead of any elite-designed 'new course'. Fifty percent of Americans between 18-29 believe that 'the work of the Israel Lobby in Congress and the Bush Administration has been a key factor for going to war with Iraq and now confronting Iran'. Over 52% of US liberals hold similar beliefs.
The elite divisions in an around the Administration are coming to the fore: Alberto Fernandez, Director of Public Diplomacy at the State Department Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs publicly denounced US 'arrogance and stupidity in Iraq' right after Bush came out for 'staying the course'. Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State from 2001-2005, came out for a 'phased withdrawal of US forces in Iraq'.
As the Zioncon-civilian-militarists hunker down in their White House situation rooms and among their moneyed backers, as Baker's Iraq Study Group grope for 'proposals' without interlocutors in the President's office and without followers in the America public, it is clear that in the absence of any consequential withdrawal of US troops, the wounds of war will fester and spread from the battle fronts of Baghdad to the streets of America. Only a catastrophic defeat in the Middle East will move us to a new course, out of Iraq, at peace with Iran and most of all out of the stranglehold of the Israel Lobby albatross.
Comment on this Editorial
Editorial: America's Darkest Secret
Martha Rose Crow M.S.
The Nine Stages of American Autogenocide
What Autogenocide Means
Auto comes from the Greek reflexive pronoun while genocide comes from the Latin words gens meaning "race, tribe" and -cidere meaning "kill." (source: http://wikipedia.org)
American Autogenocide is the deliberate, systematic and legal murder of American citizens by socially-engineering the die-off of populations that are "problematic" for the interests of wealth and power. Most victims prematurely die from social forces targeted at them to cause them to wear out by stress. This process is called "Weathering Away" or "Attrition By Stress."
Although it has to be "legal," autogenocide is always committed under the radar so the media won't be compelled to report it and so the people won't see it or understand it. More, the genocide is blamed on the victims and their deaths are hidden-attributed-to other causes rather than the primary one of autogenocide.
What is different between this genocide and other genocides is that this unique genocide doesn't produce mass graves. Instead, the victims are spread over a large geographic area and buried singly, thereby hiding the body count. This keeps the deaths sanitized and homogenized. It also keeps the autogenocide surreal; thus enabling the village to deny It's existence when clues to It's existence are ambundant and abundantly transparent.
Six Primary Factors to Genocide
There are six primary factors underlying genocide. First, there is an overpopulation of people from groups that are not economically or socially important and/or viable to the political and economic elite.
Second, genocides usually happen in times of shortages. The shortage behind the current American autogenocide is work. America is losing jobs while the population continues to grow. The wealthy and industry are loathe to pay taxes to support negative or low producers (useless eaters) because the costs of maintaining these people (via increased taxes and social costs) affects their profits and earnings.
More, when there are too many people in times of great shortages, they become restless and can group together to force democratic and social changes the economic/political/military elite don't want and work tirelessly and relentlessly against.
The third factor is that genocides are common to patriarchal societies. The stronger the institutional and cultural patriarchy, the stronger the chances for acts of genocide to exist, whether external or internal.
Threat to power (now or in the future) is the fourth underlying factor of genocide. For example, approximately one-third of all Americans are minorities and that number is expected to rise unless that population begins to die off. If minorities become the majority, the old, established rule of the country by white male elite will not hold for long unless the country becomes a dictatorship.
The fifth primary factor to genocide is that women and children are the primary targets. Women are exterminated because of their fertility. Eliminate them and the next generation of unwanted people will automatically be eliminated or at least be considerably downsized. This applies to the elimination of children as well.
Six, modern autogenocides don't happen without the help of the media. They constantly distribute the propaganda preparing the village psyche for acceptance of the deaths. They officially ignore the suffering and premature death, thus lending approval to its justification and execution.
As good servants to the status quo, the media "hides" the parts of America the ruling and economic elite don't want the majority of the village to see. Only when a fluke thing happens, like an Act of God like Hurricane Katrina, will America see its other, darker side. Now even that has faded and become buried as the national media has mostly forgotten it at the request of their elite masters. Autogenocide has to be hidden until all the people that are considered liabilities (debit people) in the books of the Patriarchal Capitalist Country are disappeared.
Five Types of Genocide
Roger Smith (1999) identified five genocide typologies. They are as follows: retributive genocide; institutional genocide; utilitarian genocide; monopolistic genocide; and, ideological genocide.
Retributive genocide may play a role in all genocide. It is usually rare as a principle motive and used mainly as a rationalization. It usually flows from the dehumanization attached to victims.
Institutional genocide was politically sanctioned mass murder in ancient and medieval times. It is a universal result of conquest and is an inherent form of warfare. It is motivated by the desire to terrorize and exert dominative power and eliminate any possible retaliation.
Utilitarian genocide was very prominent from the 16th to 19th centuries. It is used for the colonial domination and exploitation of indigenous peoples, although many would argue that the free market system dominates and exploits all groups of people who have no economic or political power. The basic proposition of utilitarian genocide is that some people must die so others can live well and the major force driving it is ethnocentrism and greed.
The most frequent cause of genocide in the 20th century and early 21st century has been the struggle to monopolize power. Monopolistic genocide is a tool for the elite to monopolize and centralize power in the hands of a few.
Most genocide prior to the 20th century was external with the goal of conquest and colonial expansion. Today, most genocide is internal or domestic (groups within the same territorial boundaries are destroyed). Issues not at stake in external genocide are the center of internal genocide: who belongs; who is to have voice in politics; what is the shape of the community; what should the purposes of community be.
The fifth type of genocide is ideological genocide. Religion usually provides a rationale. In many cases, the genocides are carried out to protect and defend a particular religious faith, including certain forms of nationalism.
Camus explained ideological genocide as a metaphysical revolt against humanity in which an attempt is made to create/reestablish a system providing for order and justice that humanity thought to be lacking. At the same time, ideological genocide strives for a type of salvation that strives to eliminate all that is perceived to be impure.
A Modern Genocide Usually Consists of More Than One Kind of Genocide
Most types of modern genocide are a hybrid of two or more kinds. For example, the Nazis committed retributive genocide as well as institutional, utilitarian, monopolistic and ideological genocide.
Retributive: The Jews had to be punished for killing Christ and for controlling finance. They and other "enemies of the state" had to be punished for running down decent society in general.
Institutional: Nazis mass-murdered large groups of people, usually with the help of locals. All was politically-sanctioned.
Utilitarian: Some people had to die so others could live well.
Monopolistic: Nazi Germany committed both external and internal genocide. A premiere reason behind this was to monopolize power.
Ideological: Untermenchen (sub-humans) and other defective people were dragging German society down. Religion provided the perfect rationale as the early Christian fathers and Martin Luther wrote/instructed that the Jews killed Jesus, thus were a cursed and hated people. This was taught for millennia in churches and theological schools.
The modern American autogenocide is also a hybrid. Like the Nazis, it is a hybrid of all five types of genocide.
Retributive: Since Barry Goldwater in the 1960's, the conservatives have done nothing but attack and demonize/dehumanize the poor, until they lost all their perceived humanity. The lazy, tax-sucking, tax-dependent poor had to be morally "saved" by eliminating social safety nets so they would be "motivated to work" when in reality, there was little if any work for them and certainly no work that paid a living wage.
Institutional: The old, established order of elite males rule by terror or what is known as the "patriarchal authority of violence." Institutional genocide reinforces this kind of violence. The autogenocide going on in America right now is politically-sanctioned mass murder. It is politically sanctioned through legislation and through non-legislation (e.g., the continued dismantling of social programs when they are needed more than ever and lack of energy, motivation to reinstate them) and through patriarchal institutions. More, it is politically sanctioned by bureaucracies, male institutions and the corporate-owned media.
Utilitarian: Some people have to die so others can live well, including receiving more share of the community distribution of wealth and more chances for work.
Monopolistic: Autogenocide is internal genocide. The autogenocide being committed against Americans is done to keep the wealth and power in the hands of the established white male order for now and for the future. Think of it as negative, "preemptive" population control to keep the System as it has existed for over two hundred years for the next two hundred years.
Ideological: The conservative right claimed that the poor were dragging the country down morally and economically because they were costing society (living on welfare or getting some other public benefit) when in the "Land of Opportunity "anyone" who "really wanted" a job could get one. The right's "think-tanks" and other institutions launched and paid for "studies" to "prove" their ideologies in their favor. Afterwards, they flooded the social tapestry with "evidence" to sway public opinion in the corner of the right.
In the late 1990's, the American village was constantly covered in propaganda from the government and media proclaiming a "perfect economy" and bemoaning that there were not enough workers to fill all the jobs available. Years later, all of this has been disproved, but it still worked: Part of the American autogenocide became more ideological because of the enormous propaganda released in American communities to stir up civil wars and xenophobia.
THE NINE STAGES OF AMERICAN AUTOGENOCIDE
Gregory H. Stanton presented his model of Eight Stages of Genocide to the Yale University Center for International and Area Studies in 1998. It is a fine model, but he missed the biggest and most important stage: The Decision to Kill. Whether singular or collective, the decision starts the genocide.
1. Decision. Like other forms of genocide, autogenocide is a process started from the top down. The planning begins at the top of the elite patriarchal hierarchy and works its way down the social pyramid to all levels through male channels.
The decision is made in a way so it is never traced all the way to the top. To this day, no paper has ever surfaced to tie Hitler directly to ordering the holocaust.
At least 95% of all communication is non-verbal, thus the language transforms into something else, something usually less concrete and more surreal. Non-verbal communication can (and usually does) becomes or evolves into one or more of the following forms: symbolic, semantic, rhetorical, allegorical, cryptographic, metamorphic, philosophical, psychological, hypnotic, controlling, patriarchal, oppressive, numerological, occult, erotic, homoerotic, theological, prophetic, epiphanic, spiritual, so forth. Many messages with double/triple meanings are woven/hidden within these forms on non-verbal communications.
Most of the messages for autogenocide are conveyed non-verbally, indirectly or through a third-person.
The order is usually "innocent" and done in an indirect way. The elite are always surrounded with males from upper social levels and these males lean on every one of their masters' words.
The order is usually given in an informal atmosphere where the ultra rich go. The order can be given at a club, a country club, smoking room, a fancy restaurant, a sauna, a dining or meeting room of an estate, an executive bathroom, on the golf course (where much of the world's fate has been decided for decades), at "charity" functions, posh parties of the rich, so forth.
There are always lower tiers of the elite at these places, including politicians, plus business and society journalists. The males of these upper groups, plus the media (that are basically owned by the elite) and other conveyers of culture are conditioned and socialized to hear and obey the males above them in the hierarchy. That is how patriarchies work and that is how the ruling patriarchs spread their messages.
The top elite male will start a conversation about one thing and segue it into something else that leads into the "problem." Afterwards, he will make his complaint in an indirect way. He hesitates for a few moments while changing his posture, then tone of voice into a more authoritarian one. After silently and discreetly checking for responses of the male faces in the room and to make sure the right ears are listening, he adds more power to his non-verbal language: he segues from a man to a divine person as he begins to talk like the biblical-type wise man/savior of the village. Although charismatic, his language-verbal and nonverbal- gain in authority, thus high patriarchy. He is at the top of the patriarchal chain, so he must exhibit a great amount of power in a subdued, but apparent way.
After he is sure the right male ears are listening, he begins his list of complaints to strengthen and justify his original complaint. The male ears at the table, urinal, golf club, country club, boardroom, fundraiser, so forth, listen and wait for the "solution" that is really a secret command in the world of males.
Then it comes. The Man of Power will make short, casual, "benign" remarks like, "Something has to be done about this," "The numbers (statistics of growing populations that threaten power) have to change,"or "Back in other times, they knew how to fix this" (it may sound nostalgic, but this is an indirect order to solve the "problem" by using classic patriarchal methods of rule, including the patriarchal authority of violence and genocide. Never once does the patriarch offer any concrete suggestions as to how the numbers of unwanted people are to be changed. This is a phenomenon of Denial, the Ninth Stage listed below.
It is up to the elite males below the aristocratic elite to carry out the order by creating and unleashing legal, social forces at the individual/s, groups, population, so forth, designated for removal.
Right from the beginning, the media is always there, helping in every way. They disseminate the propaganda, weaken opposition by various methods including direct and indirect demonizing of the victims and those individuals/groups who support them, as explained throughout this essay, so forth.
As the order for autogenocide goes through the male channels, it will be picked up and sculpted for palatable delivery in earnest politicians' speeches of the extreme right or in the speeches of those politicians who seek the support/help of the political right, including the Christian right.
The males from the other parts of the social pyramid hear it and if they agree (particularly if they benefit from white privilege), they will repeat the mantra until it is spread throughout the entire community. This starts the denial process of the community. When everyone is in denial, almost all will ignore the truth in front of them.
2. Classification. All cultures have categories to distinguish people into "us and them" by ethnicity, race, religion and most recently, nationality (e.g., muslims, middle-easterners that aren't Jews from Israel, illegal Hispanic workers, so forth).
In patriarchal hierarchies, every one has a class worth with another value that appraises women according to the set patriarchal beauty standards in the culture. In plutocracies, human value is awarded or subtracted by the wealth you own with race, gender and other categories factored in such as "good breeding."
Then there is monetary worth. Everything, from air to people, is for sale in the free market, thus everyone and everything in the capitalist marketplace has a monetary value. Insurance actuary tables prove this, but so does the recent settlement payments to the survivors of the 9/11 victims of the World Trade Center. Survivors of dishwashers (who worked in the fancy restaurants in the towers) received about $200,000 while survivors of bankers and stock brokers got at least ten times that.
In America, not only are Americans classified along race, gender, religion, age, so forth, they are also classified by their worth (or negative worth) to plutocracy and industry.
Having wealth can give you a better classification, but it didn't help the wealthy Jews in Nazi Berlin and it didn't help O.J. Simpson or Michael Jackson and a host of other wealthy people. That's because wealth doesn't always guarantee power. Power is held in select, white paternal hands. Oprah can buy some power with her wealth (opulent lifestyle and choices) but if she doesn't stay to the script (she's an entertainer, not a journalist), the males at the top of the media chain will pull the plug on her entertainment products.
Because its their System, aristocrats, whether titled, merchant or military, do not die of autogenocide unless a new type of government is installed.
3. Symbolization. Names or other symbols are given to the classifications (above) so they can be easily identified. Symbols can be concrete (e.g., a swastika, a "think tank" study that frames one of their issues against certain groups, so forth) or the symbolization can be opaque or invisible (e.g., a zip code).
Innuendoes, gossip, jokes, myths, half-truths, lies, propaganda, attacks and stories are spread throughout the community about selected individuals/groups/races/communities that are targeted for permanent removal.
4. Dehumanization. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion against murder. One group denies the humanity of the other group. People to be destroyed are justified/equated as lesser forms of life. They are scapegoated as factors for lower quality of village life caused by political and economic corruption.
All the genocide propaganda comes from the conservative right in America, although it is silently supported by some members of the left. The representatives of the old order never stop demonizing people/victims that don't fit perfectly into the white patriarchal power model, the needs of industry and/or are a real/potential threat to established white patriarchal power.
The right-wing politicians, with right-wing "think-tanks" institutions and the media demonize the poor/minorities/independent women and spread patriarchal justification that these groups deserve "what" they get because they are dragging the rest of the villagers down.
Institutions that exist solely to promote the status quo (GOP, conservative "think-tanks," conservative media institutions, federalist societies, so forth) start executing skewed studies and statistical surveys whose conclusions always point in the favor of dehumanizing the groups that are to be permanently eliminated.
The media starts releasing and recycling the "conclusions" of the studies and surveys, while all the time, never questions their authenticity and procedure, nor probes to find out who funded it and why. More, the media is always blissfully ignorant of all the negative, hurricane-strength social forces it unleashes and creates when it broadcasts the dehumanizing information.
The media constantly reports the rise of bastard babies, violence, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, criminal activities, sexually transmitted diseases and other diseases: diseases associated with sloth, sexual promiscuous, filthy living conditions, thus connecting the targeted people as unhuman. The media either portrays these people as dangerous and as "carriers of disease," that threaten the larger society, or the media helps the village forget these people by ignoring them in their newscasts. This has been what's happening lately. By ignoring the other humans of the group, the media has dehumanized them because if these people were important to society, the media would be reporting on them and favorably about them like they do the middle and upper classes.
Conservative politicians jump on the bandwagon and denounce the traitorous citizens who "refuse" to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and join the homogenized, "melting pot," American family of workers. "Self-reliance" and "self-initiative" is stressed and the causes of un- or under-employment or the real amount of jobs available (or not available) is ever addressed.
The stronger group denies the humanity of the other group. The stronger group's rhetoric segues into arguing/selling the idea that the people to be eliminated from are less human and more like animals or insects, particularly (economic) leeches and (cockroach) people.
Welfare recipients are demonized by being called "welfare queens" by politicians and the media. Black males are demonized by being portrayed by the media as drug dealers, pimps and other kinds of criminals. White trash is made fun of. Jerry Springer and South Park are good examples of this, and any kind of fringe group are always the target of white comedians.
In Mel Brook's movie, The History of the World, Part I, there is a scene of Roman senators discussing the probability of funding housing for the poor when they all reach a conclusion: F**k the Poor! The Symbolization for genocide is everywhere in the American tapestry and it has been for a long time. Demonization and Symbolism for genocide were masked in Mel Brook's remarks in a 1983 movie that has been seen billions of times. Any time a powerless and/or helpless member of the human community is demonized by forces greater than them, it is a part of the symbolization process.
Laziness is considered worse than a disease in a society that continuously promotes a work ethic that primarily benefits well-connected white males. Laziness is connected to moral diseases (sloth, shamefulness, immorality, drug taking, drinking, bad health, so forth). Through twisted metamorphoses of the symbolic/symbiotic connection of those who don't work (for any reason) or are poor for any reason (because the world's richest nation is sold as the "land of opportunity" where "everyone" can get rich if they work hard enough), autogenocide is righteously sold and justified by Symbolism.
5. Organization. Because autogenocide has to be perceived as non-existent, it has to remain invisible. Thus, it has to be organized and spread by surreal methods such as symbols, innuendoes, urban myths, propaganda, other forms of non-direct, non-verbal communication and/or by "cocktails" (mixtures) of some or all methods. Messages for organization, propaganda, improved propaganda, so forth, for the autogenocide are presented and distributed regularly or daily on the internet. Gop.com and the conservative "think-tanks" are prime conveyers.
Right-wing radio, "think-tanks" and other conservative/patriarchal organizations begin to verbally attack and demonize the targeted people, but they never infer to their permanent removal. This would make the autogenocide transparent. Still, these organizations and institutions, plus the corporate-owned media, purposely spread xenophobia throughout the land.
Local, state, and national politicians begin demonizing the citizens to be culled. They write and pass legislation to start the Siege. They try to become blissfully ignorant of the suffering and death and even when they know the truth, they respond by doing nothing (premeditated non legislation). Politicians do this because this is not what the hidden elite want (their reasons will be discussed later).
The media, owned, dominated and run by members of the elite continue to hide the truth from the village or minimize it when the truth comes to fore.
Support systems are taken away while others are bribed. Government help is cut off as much as possible. "Crises" are created (like a war, threats of terrorism, a virtual war, energy shortages) so public money must first be spent on those things. This purposely drains the public treasury of money and resources to try to save the unwanted.
Religion is bribed from speaking up by offering them juicy government contracts to privatize "charity." This swells their coffers and at the same time, hires members who will faithfully tithe part of their salaries back into the churches' coffers. The Christian "standard" for tithing is ten percent. More, evangelists get the bonuses of having captive audiences of desperate people to sell their religion and will to. Many of the extreme poor end up trading their souls for a bowl of soup and a sandwich at government-funded Christian soup kitchens and/or homeless shelters.
The internal police is built-up ("Homeland Security") and files are maintained on every citizen they can build a file on (so far its about 256 million Americans). The ruling patriarchs keep information on everyone just in case someone might decide to say something public about the autogenocide. The information kept by the government is used to Bully, Blackmail or Buy people (including politicians and victims) to keep their heads down, their eyes closed and their mouths shut.
A note about "Super Censuses": It helps those behind autogenocide determine who is to be "cleansed"/culled. Intrinsic things are factored in: gender, race, age, ethnicity, disabilities/physical handicaps, family lineage, socio-economic standing, perceived physical beauty/desireability (particularly for females), membership in "approved" religions, perceived power and/or potential, amount of loyalty/subjugation to authority established in patriarchal structures and systems, so forth.
6. Polarization. Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda. Extreme right groups and representatives target moderates to intimidate and silence the center.
Privileged, educated males from the extreme right start writing books like the "Bell Curve" (Charles Murray, Jr. and Richard Herrnstein) to "prove" that certain groups are subhuman or as the Nazis called them, "Untermenshen."
This separates the favored groups over the ones selected for permanent removal. The polarization forces the people who are safe from genocide to side with the government if they want to remain comfortable and/or live. Remember, anyone who doesn't agree with the American federal government is considered a "traitor" and traitors are scorned, ridiculed, hated, publicly denounced, humiliated and called "Benedict Arnold."
The middle-class try to stay "neutral," but by their silence and acceptance, they are on the side of autogenocide. The middle-class has to stay silent. Their privileged way of life for them and their children depends on this silence. In America, anyone can "fall from grace" and the best way to do this is to be a person of conscience and do or say something against the status quo.
7. Preparation. The village, victims, survivors and those in power are prepared for the genocide.
The autogenocide has to be conceived in invisibility and executed in invisibility. Suffering and resulting premature deaths have to blamed on something else: diseases, violence, hunger, homelessness, hopelessness, accidents, suicides, murders, so forth.
No one is going to visibly agree or assist in the holocaust. This means that its all done in the abstract. Welfare "reform" laws and other laws are hyped as "tough love" that means, in Orwellian or Alice-in-Wonderland language, that powerless people are being left to their own devices to survive without resources or enough resources to survive or have any kind of a quality of life.
Social forces from Mandora's Box are released from legal, third-parties. This includes legislation, non-legislation, bureaucracies and male institutions.
The groups to be removed are isolated. If they were isolated before, they are made more isolated
The young men are taken out of of the Targeted Neighborhoods/Groups. Before any kind of genocide can be carried out, the men of "battle age" (15-45) are always removed. Since the beginning of history, this has been the standard practice.
It also explains why laws and incarceration in America are aimed at imprisoning and/or disenfranchising men from groups scheduled to be removed. The major population of prisons in America are packed with poor and/or minority males of "prime" age. More and more of these males are being imprisoned all the time, thus emptying the ghettos, reservations, barrios and poor rural areas of men.
With males not around to physically, financially and emotionally protect their women, children, relatives and neighbors, these people are easy targets to disappear.
Social safety nets and jobs programs are removed or altered. This forces poverty, reinforces poverty and depresses the quality of life to the point people start dying in record numbers.
Racism and disenfranchises women/minorities/disabled from decent work so they're ushered into work that doesn't pay a living wage, plus workers without social power are many times forced to work dangerous jobs.
Public transportation in "red zones" does not help the people get to other areas of the cities so they can get better work. Medical insurance is impossible to afford or get from the low-wage jobs the disenfranchised work.
People are pushed deeper into debt and other crises like homelessness, hunger, disease, despair.
Civil wars between sub-groups are started by the elite and media to keep them not only isolated, divided and conquered, but to keep them in so much chaos that these groups have no chance to confederate and become a big enough political power to stop the suffering and deaths.
Schools in "useless eater" areas are purposely underfunded, thus bringing down the quality of life for individuals and communities. Quality of Life is very important: read on.
Quality of Life affects Life Outcome. If Quality of Life is high, people are usually healthier and live long. If Quality of Life is low or non-existent, many people will get sick and usually die from premature death. Bring down the overall quality of life in individuals/communities/groups and make sure that Quality of Life does not go up even an increment, and people will start dying in droves. Every professional politician knows this.
8. Extermination. The New Romans use the modern tactic of Silent Siege (Silent Slaughter) , which indirectly kills people. Isolate and starve people economically, physically, mentally, psychologically, materially, artistically, financially, spiritually, socially, and culturally (except for the nationalism and christian cultures that are toxic in themselves), and predictably, people will die of premature deaths from the stress caused by the isolation and starvation. Its not immediate death like the Nazi Holocaust, but it achieves the same result.
The media continues to keep the autogenocide hidden.
High stress factors lead to high mortality rates. Unleash ruthless, deadly social forces against certain individuals, groups, neighborhoods and/or communities and they will begin to implode. Every social worker, sociologist, psychologist, doctor, nurse, police, urban planner, politician, historian, military strategist, so forth knows this.
Add in all the factors of Stages of 7 and 8, and the body bags really begin to add up.
There is a scientific name for the "weathering away" of poor people by stress: AXIOM OF BIOLOGICAL STRESS FROM POVERTY. I believe that this name limits the scope of death by stress in the American landscape. The proper name to describe suffering and mortality should be: AXIOM OF BIOLOGICAL STRESS FROM OPPRESSION.
The victims are always blamed ("poor life choices" when they had no choices or only a choice of bad choices). They are blamed for their stress when the stressors are external and almost all are socially engineered, and socially engineered to kill.
When safety nets are gutted and politicians/economists/business leaders/sociologists/urban planners/scientists know it will result in the deaths of countless citizens, that is called socially engineering and "framing" social forces to target and kill the Untermenschen.
When politicians won't or refuse enact national healthcare insurance, knowing full well that it will result in premature death for a large number of people with no or low socio-economic value, that is called socially engineering autogenocide. It doesn't matter that the politicians are owned by pharmaceutical companies and private health care groups through campaign donations. When you enact legislation knowing full well that it will lead to enormous amounts of preventable death and you vote for it, you are committing autogenocide.
9. Denial. Because American Autogenocide is carried out in the abstract, thus the surreal, it is hard to prove. That's the evil beauty of it. The deed doesn't lead directly back to the leaders, but to the village itself. The blood is shared collectively and equally in the village because it is collective murder: it happened in a "democracy" (even if its mostly rich people directing it) and thus, the crime is owned by the whole village.
This phenomenon of community evil spreads the blood around so thinly that the remaining people don't see it on their hands. People who did not stand up against the autogenocide are as equally guilty as the leaders who caused it. This makes a village of denial and this enables the autogenocide to continue.
More, the corporate owned media ignores or downplays the suffering and death. These are forms of denial because hiding is a form of denial. If the media is someday confronted about the autogenocide and feels it has to "cover" itself, then it will work to deny the holocaust that happened under its watch.
Graduate students, organizations and others are having difficulty performing mortality studies (especially those related to the poor and/or minorities and singe women) on the local and state level. More, they are having a hard time getting any completed studies results reported by the media, including the internet. This makes connecting other studies and statistics difficult, if not impossible to prove the massive autogenocide. Hiding and distorting mortality rates plus preventing scholars, statisticians and other professional people from adding up the mortality numbers of other American communities and cities keeps the autogenocide invisible, thus denied.
Genocide is never directly traceable to the leaders who wanted it. This makes it easy for the elite, politicians, captains of industry and other instigators to deny it. Again, to this day, there is no physical proof (papers, orders) to link Hitler to the Nazi holocaust. Underlings gave the orders and executed the genocide, but everyone knows that orders for the holocaust came from the top.
It should be noted that the Nazis "cleansed" other people from their communities besides the Jews. They targeted the hopelessly unemployed, "immoral women" including prostitutes (prostitution is rife in hard patriarchal economic times), problematic women, the mentally ill, the non-heterosexuals, political enemies, minorities, so forth.
The New Holocaust in America is also cleansing US communities of the poor, "immoral" women (poor single mothers), problematic women (women who want to live independently of a male sponsor, feminists, so forth), the mentally ill, gays and, political enemies (Senator Paul Wellstone's death still remains a mystery), minorities and other unwanted people.
In a 1978 letter of resignation from his position of president of the UAW, Douglas Fraser wrote, "I believe leaders of the business community, with few exceptions, have chosen to wage a one-sided class war today in our country --a war against working people, the unemployed, the poor, the minorities, the very young and the very old, and even many in the middle class of our society..."
1. Autogenocide has been solving the population problems of the American elite since the beginning of the country. Its been applied in many different forms over the centuries: small pox blankets and starvation for Indians; cannons fired at protesters in the mid-1800's, the disappearances of little towns who resisted selling out to the Railroad Barons; the CIA introduction of crack to ghetto neighborhoods; criminalizing anything to keep the prisons full of members of certain groups; letting Dickensian poverty in its modern form make people suffer and die prematurely. Thus, American Autogenocide is "business as usual, " making American Autogenocide inherently institutional.
2. American autogenocide hides the deficiencies of American-Anglo Saxon (AASAX) capitalism until it controls all the markets of the world. Capitalism, by its nature alone, simply cannot provide enough paying work for all the workers who need work in America. More, the number of jobs are declining while the number of workers is rising. Quite simply: industry has no use for many people.
3. Killing off the excess population is cheaper, easier and faster than having to deal with them. In capitalistic thought and lexicon, this is called "efficiency."
Low, non or negative producers are costly for a pay-as-you-go, you're-on-your-own (YOYO), pull-yourself-up-with-your-bootsraps merchant society. People without work or with little work and/or without money, still need food, shelter, emergency help, medical care, so forth.
Since the famous "restructuring" of the economy (which is also a restructuring of society back to a close resemblance of the old white patriarchal power hierarchy), more and more people-usually those from the lower tiers of society--can not earn enough money to properly live. This leads to tax money spent on social and emergency services. The rich complain that the tax money could have been better used-used for the priorities of the elite: tax reduction; reduction of capital gains taxes to zero; greater dividends to rich investor; huge salaries and pay packages to CEOs; so forth.
4. As mentioned above, the political and economic elite are restructuring society back to its original institutional, constitutional model of plutocracy and its support model, the elite patriarchal hierarchy of subordination.
5. Autogenocide is utilitarian but the sacrifice of the victims is not for the benefit of the village, but for the benefit of the economic and political elite.
6. Now that the country's infrastructure is in place and hardwired into the federal government, surplus people aren't needed and won't be needed in the future.
7. The wealthy elite and many big businesses are against paying taxes (cuts into their net profits) and governments (local, state and federal) have to raise taxes to support the poor and disenfranchised. Eliminate as much poor as you can so the demand for helping them (and for taxes to do it) drops.
8. Too many unwanted people might figure it out and organize themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
9. Too many people with no hope, no hope for the future and nothing to lose can result in organizing, protests, strikes and rage-fueled riots.
10. Too many poor, disenfranchised and/or minorities with votes threaten the established power and wealth structures. Within 50 years, it is projected that there will be more minorities than whites. This new majority could take out the elite, white patriarchal system. This makes the current autogenocide a "preemptive" genocide. It guarantees continued power and wealth of the elite by keeping the majority of votes in the hands of whites.
11. It is negative population control. America is running out of room for its current population which is continually expanding. Over population can result in greater pollution, social suffering and epidemics. In the mind of patriarchal leaders, somebody has to be removed, so the powerless-the people few will speak up for-are quietly and invisibly removed.
12. Autogenocide can remove enough people to let the earth heal so the rich and powerful can continue plundering it and enslaving the world's populations.
13. Symbolically and literally scapegoats and punishes the powerless for the deeds of the real culprits, the ruling and financial elite. Vents the anger and frustration of the remaining villagers at someone "safe" to blame.
14. It is a result of the natural institutional racism of the System.
15. It is a predictable result of corrupt patriarchal power.
16. It is modern witch-burning. Male economics has historically struggled with the problem of unemployed women and women without male sponsors. Patriarchal societies have historically responded by killing/burning them as witches. It is estimated that ten million people, mostly women, were killed as witches from 1400-1750 and most of these killings were related to economics, patriarchal control of females and the use of scapegoats to soothe the village's anger/tension over corruption, plagues, wars, so forth.
17. Arrogance and racism.
18. Pleasure and the thrill of being able to kill and get away with it.
19. Greed and selfishness.
20. Entrenches more power and wealth in the hands of elite.
21. Shapes reality and the country to the elite's patriarchal, market ideology, will and dreams.
21. Reduces the numbers in slums. Slums are incubators for plagues and civil wars or civil rights movements.
22. Thins out the middle-class. As with all patriarchal hierarchies, there are sub-hierarchies within them. Examples are the hierarchy of white women, the hierarchy of minorities (by skin color, gender, age, so forth). For example, the federal government has several categories for Hispanics, including "White Hispanic." There is also a sub-hierarchy for the middle-class.
In the early days of the country, a small middle-class existed. Many modern politicians embellish the truth about the colonial middle-class to connect some kind of mystical American middle-class of yesteryear to the American middle-class of now. Its all propaganda. The colonial middle-class was small and more prominent along the sea coast.
The Founding Fathers, most wealthy, untitled aristocrats, never intended for a large middle-class to exist in America. Only the descendants of the existing colonial middle-class were to be allowed to be middle-class. Constitutional scholars know this.
Controlling the number of the middle-class worked for almost two hundred years until unionization, the GI Bill and other government programs helped villagers from the lower working class tiers strive to achieve the American Dream. The new middle-class became a problem for the traditional, inherited, historically- and politically- guaranteed white middle-class.
Now that we are facing a work-less world, the elite has no use for such a large layer of middle-class. The primary reason is because they are expensive in a colonial capitalist system whose wealth was designed to accumulate in the hands of the few elite. The nouveau middle-class have come to expect work with decent wages and fringe benefits when the world is flooded with the unemployed, thus the privileges of the last half of the 20th century have become antiquated. This is one of the realities of the "invisible" hand of the market.
Too many middle-class pose other problems for the elite: if there are too many of them, some will vote left or away from patriarchy. It may be legal, but it is a social faux pas against the masters of society.
Autogenocide is the perfect way for the elite to thin out the classes so they are disappeared or more manageable. Not only that, everyone gets the invisible messages of terror, so they are more likely to do as they are told.
Autogenocide tells everyone in the village what their place is and what happens to those who "fail" or "fall." It doesn't matter if the loser were destined to fail. In a highly materialistic, pay-as-you-go-society there are no margins for compassion and empathy. Those things don't make money but cost it.
In the end, American autogenocide has always been about maintaining the current power structure and System, that acts like a modern (evolved) version of the the colonial period power structure and System. The only difference is that modern politicians don't wear broad-coats and powdered wigs.
Faye Weldon, British writer and feminist said, "Everything has changed but nothing is different" about feminism. The same thing can be said about American government since its beginning to now.
23. New American Eugenics in a New American Gilded Age. Despite the weak laws and strong propaganda, America remains classiest and racist. Racism is unavoidable because it is institutional and because in patriarchal economies, where the elite receive the lion's share of the village's wealth, racism works as a selection tool to determine who gets the remaining crumbs and how much.
The first Gilded Age was the era from post-Civil War/ post-Reconstruction Era from 1865 to 1930. This time in American history saw unprecedented economic, territorial, industrial, and population expansion. There was a great increase in ethnic and racial diversity. Social tensions grew as a result of a decreasing Anglo-Saxon majority. The economic gap between rich and poor was great. At the end of this Gilded Age, the elite of America and their institutions began supporting a pseudo-science called eugenics that promised to help solve the social problems of that age.
From its beginning, eugenics has been supported by prominent thinkers, including Plato, Sir Francis Galton, Charles Darwin, Alexander Graham Bell, George Bernard Shaw, and Winston Churchill, and was an academic discipline at many colleges and universities.
American Eugenics was conceived at the onset of the twentieth century and was implemented by America's wealthiest, most powerful, most learned and most influential individuals and institutions, including the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Harriman railroad fortune (the Bush family fortune comes from deep, intimate business relationships with the Harriman family), Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Stanford University, the American Medical Association, Margaret Sanger, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Robert Yerkes, Woodrow Wilson, the American Museum of Natural History, the American Genetic Association and a sweeping array of government agencies from the obscure Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics to the U.S. State Department.
American eugenicists sought to methodically terminate all the racial groups, ethnic groups and social classes they disliked, feared or deemed a threat to established power, then or later on.
Their goal was to sterilize fourteen million people in the United States and millions more worldwide-the "lower tenth." Afterwards, they planned to eradicate the remaining lowest tenth until only a pure Nordic super race remained on the face of the earth.
American eugenicists exported their philosophy to nations throughout the world including Nazi Germany. More, American elite, through foundations, gave grants to Germany for its eugenics program.
The American Eugenics Society was organized in 1921, following the Second International Conference on Eugenics held in New York City in that year. In 1972, the American Eugenics Society was reorganized and renamed The Society for the Study of Social Biology.
These modern economic times have been called the New Gilded Age because it compares with the first Gilded Age. Today's economic and social conditions, including the enormous inequality that is becoming greater (the gap between the elite and the poor), mirror those of yesteryear. White Supremacist books like The Bell Curve have once been legitimized and praised by the status quo. Eugenic ideas are circulating again, but this time with fury, thus greater power.
Eugenics and genocide is synonymous. This is because eugenics provides a big justification for genocide.
A 1911 study, financed by the Carnegie Institution, identified eighteen possible methods of implementing eugenics in American and around the world. Gas chambers were deemed to be the most effective method, but it was felt that American society was not yet prepared to accept them (and this is where the Germans got first got their idea for gas chambers). Thus,a number of other eugenic methods were adopted, most notably mass sterilization. By marshaling government forces to continually identify and sterilize those citizens deemed unfit for reproduction, it was estimated that the ultimate goal of the master race could be achieved over a period of generations.
The world is running out of any kind of paying work and because work in America is rewarded and rewarded along patriarchal-defined class lines, the bottom twenty percent-mostly minorities, single adult women, disabled, gays/lesbians (despite the media hype, many are poor), the poor, so forth-will be hopelessly unemployed in the future. What is to be done with these people that industry and power elite have no use for and are loathe to support? These people are negative numbers on the balance sheets of a corporate country.
As before-mentioned (#3), it is easier, cheaper and faster to kill undesired groups of people than to help them live decently.
Cause & Effect-The Principle of Causality/Determinism
A. Spirkin writes, "All certainty in our relationships with the world rests on acknowledgement of causality. Causality is a genetic connection of phenomena through which one thing (the cause) under certain conditions gives rise to, causes something else (the effect). The essence of causality is the generation and determination of one phenomenon by another. In this respect causality differs from various other kinds of connection, for example, the simple temporal sequence of phenomena, of the regularities of accompanying processes. For example, a pinprick causes pain. Brain damage causes mental illness. Causality is an active relationship, a relationship which brings to life some thing new, which turns possibility into actuality. A cause is an active and primary thing in relation to the effect. But "after this" does not always mean "because of this". It would be a parody of justice if we were to say that where there is punishment there must have been a crime.
Causality is universal. Nowhere in the world can there be any phenomena that do not give rise to certain consequences and have not been caused by other phenomena. Ours is a world of cause and effect or, figuratively speaking, of progenitors and their progeny. Whenever we seek to retrace the steps of cause and effect and find the first cause, it disappears into the infinite distances of universal interaction. But the concept of cause is not confined to interaction. Causality is only a part of universal connection. The universality of causality is often denied on the grounds of the limited nature of human experience, which prevents us from judging the character of connections beyond what is known to science and practice. And yet we know that no scientist restricts his reasoning to what he can immediately perceive. The whole history of humanity, of all scientific experiment knows no exception to the principle of determinism.
The connection between cause and effect takes place in time. This temporary relation may be defined in various ways. Some people believe that cause always precedes effect, that there is a certain interval between the time when the cause begins to act (for example, the interaction of two systems) and the time the effect appears. For a certain time cause and effect coexist, then the cause dies out and the consequence ultimately becomes the cause of something else. And so on to infinity." (http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/spirkin/works/dialectical-materialism/ch02-s06.html)
Autogenocide and the Principle of Causality/Determinism
Autogenocide is socially-engineering predetermined outcomes by cause and effect. Because it is done through legal means and arenas, American autogenocide is a procedure that is little more than a carefully-orchestrated effort to cast an aura of legitimacy over an entirely illegitimate set of predetermined outcomes.
A Favorite Tool of Autogenocide
If poverty is essentially murder, then the issue of income inequality needs to be looked upon differently. A society that allows high levels of inequality is in essence killing its own citizens." Rochie Saks, Income Inequality and its Repercussions for Us, page 131 (http://www.touro.edu/tabs/journal02/tabs15c.pdf)
David Williams and his colleagues at the University of Michigan (http://www.parkridgecenter.org/Page78.html) found that people with annual incomes of under $10,000 had more than three times the risk of dying in a given year as those who made more than $30,000. Scores of other studies have produced similar findings.
Socioeconomic status is one of the strongest predictors of health and longevity. Researchers have found that at each step down the socioeconomic ladder, health is poorer on average and people die younger.
The U.S. income distribution is currently among the most unequal in the industrialized world, and life expectancy in the U.S. lags behind that of any developed countries. Recent research suggests that these two occurrences may be linked--that the unequal distribution of income in the U.S. affects the health of the populace.
Growing income inequality is a direct result from the cause of the elite restructuring society and economics. Growing income inequality-a sharp trend in the United States since the early 1980s-results in a breakdown of social cohesion, increased competition for scarce resources and greater levels of stress, frustration, despair, hopelessness and depression: all that usually lead to poorer health.
When a scientist studies American autogenocide, the best forensic tools are charting cause and effect from government action that predetermined the outcomes. For example, the government has constantly protected the health industry over the needs of citizens, particularly those citizens who can not afford medical insurance. It is a statistical fact that people-usually the most helpless of all in society-who don't have health insurance have a 25% higher chance of dying.
"... I am a social worker at a local mental health center in Southern Ohio... Our funding has been cut and we now cannot enroll people without insurance. Our local health clinic that served people without insurance is also getting their funding cut and will probably close. The evidence of a class war is so evident in this area. If you don't have insurance you don't deserve to live. It is getting harder and harder to get Medicaid in Ohio even if you are disabled, so go off and kill yourself or die of an easily treated disease..." Steve from Ohio
Economists can predict economic trends and forecasts. Their reports always end up on the desks of the elite, politicians and planners. Politicians shredded the social safety nets when they knew that there was not enough jobs for all the bodies that would need them. Politicians knew that this would cause great suffering and death and it has. Ten years later, the numbers are starting to trickle in. The poor, single females and/or minorities are starting to die in large numbers.
The modern American autogenocide is primarily carried out by legislature. Politicians and other representatives from the status quo, including Big Business, cleverly draft laws that cause negative social forces to target and stress out the populations selected for elimination.
Taught in graduate psychology classes, B-O-B is a simple scientific tool and barometer to explain the outcomes of cause and effect (Causality/Determinism). B-O-B means Behavior (How does it behave?), Outcome (What Are the Outcomes?) and Benefit (Who Benefits?)
Complex things, including systems and how they work, can be more easily understood and subsequently diagramed by breaking down the components with B-O-B. A social or cultural scientist always knows that major social change/restructuring usually occurs to Benefit someone or something. Thus, the decoding with the B-O-B model can start with looking for who benefits.
The patriarchal elite obviously benefit from American autogenocide, but others do as well. They are the rest of the villagers who are allowed to live, although the New America is going to look and act more like it did a hundred years ago, only with modern buildings and technology.
In a raptor-vicious market, competition for resources, including jobs, is more fierce and ruthless than ever. Permanently disappeared villagers and their generations means less competition for the economic and social scraps that are left over after the few elite have received their enormous share. More, the property of the deceased is distributed to the remaining villagers in many ways, including public auctions where property is sold cheaper than if it had been sold on the market.
What's American Autogenocide Really About?
Power. The greatest motive for American autogenocide is Power. Power means imposing your patriarchal/materialistic/greedy/capitalistic/selfish will on someone else: it is the control of human lives to the point of being able to manipulate them, influence them, destroy them and/or take them at whim or with righteous, legal or biblical justification.
Human evil is that which destroys human lives. Autogenocide is the pinnacle of human evil.
M. Scott Peck, M.D., author of People of the Lie, profiles evil people: they have no regard for the truth; they lie and live in a world of lies. They are masters of disguise and cloak themselves with masks of respectability, goodness and often piety. Religiosity is a common and effective disguise. More, it is the appearance of propriety and respectability that is the important factor to cloaking the evil of the person.
Peck defines evil as: "The exercise of political power-that is, the imposition of one's will upon others by overt or covert coercion..." Or in other words, it is the use "of political power to destroy others," for the purpose of defending or preserving the integrity of one's sick self (or group).
American Autogenocide Told From An Eye Witness
It was a Minnesota State Representative who told me about autogenocide. This happened in August of 1998. I called him at his home. Many times, I'd call him about news reports I had seen on television announcing that the "government" reported a surplus of jobs and a shortage of workers. This was almost the daily news in the late 1990's. Chronically under-employed, I wanted to know where these jobs were. Nobody ever seemed to know. When I'd call the television station or Job Service and actually talked with a live being on the other end of the phone (most of the time I would be forwarded to an answering machine), someone would promise to call back and never did.
Almost ten years later, most people know that it was all propaganda. The abundance of jobs that the government and media constantly told the village about didn't exist.
When I called the politician this time, I was worried about the upcoming vote to continuance of the end of welfare. The state government was forcing the most poorest and helpless women in the village to work, when work was almost impossible to find and when it was found, it paid minimum-wage, was part-time and offered no fringe benefits. Armed with research I had been doing, I told him there was not enough work for all the workers in the village.
"How are these women and their children supposed to survive on part-time work and no welfare?" I asked. "Don't you know that many women and children are going to die if you do this?"
I could hear his frustration with me as the tone of his voice changed on the other end of the phone line. Exasperated, he told me, "Okay, Martha, I am going to tell you something off the record. If you ever tell anyone, I will deny it." I listened carefully as he proceeded to tell me something that shocked me all the way to the core of my being.
First, he asked me, "What do you know about farming?"
I replied, "What does farming have to do with women not getting work?"
He replied, "A lot and I'll get to that in a moment." Then he told me that economists, industry and politicians knew that the 'flush' economy was going to last until around the year 2000 (he was right), and then 'welfare reform' would have to be shelved because the more privileged people in society would demand all the remaining jobs of a slagging economy. This didn't happen because the Will of the Elite became too powerful and entrenched, plus the virtual war on "terror" that sucks all the money out of the treasury and spent on the new police state instead of citizens who are going to die from governmental neglect.
The local politician told me that in the interim, someone, namely women and children, had to be sacrificed. Yes, he said, politicians knew that some innocent people were going to die, but 'welfare reform' was a 'red button' political issue that 'had to be addressed' because the middle-class and the upper-classes did not want to pay taxes to support disadvantaged people. Therefore, some of the most powerless people had been targeted for elimination from society.
"It is no big deal," he told me, "Every society does it. Think of it in these terms: Farmers don't keep animals that cost more than they produce. People in power have to make those same decisions regarding people just like farmers have to make the same decisions regarding livestock. Someone has to control the size of the herd. Unlike animals, it is the powerless, not the sick or lame, that are selected to be removed.
Politicians have to make difficult, executive decisions for their constituents, even if it seems unfair. That's what they are elected for and they are giving the voters what they really want. If politicians refuse to make these decisions, they won't get reelected. There are lots of people willing to run for office and make those executive decisions if the current politicians won't do it. These choices are natural and a fact of life, Martha. I told you, every society does it."
Surprised and confused, I replied, "Wait a minute, are you telling me that our society intentionally kills our own people, even women and children, only because the wealthy don't want to share? That these deaths are intentionally planned? Don't the wealthy know that poverty is one of the 'natural' byproducts of capitalism, that capitalism depends on an official 'average' five percent unemployed to hold it up? Are you telling me that all politicians, local ones to national ones, not only know about this murder but willingly participate in it?"
"All of them know about it, Martha," he told me. "Now you do, too. Don't ever call me again and don't ever quote me. I'll deny I ever told you this."
"Wait!" I said, "How you can be a part of this and live with your conscience?"
He hung up on me. I tried to call him several times after that and he would never talk to me.
Putting Flesh and Blood On the Surreal
Any kind of a murder is surreal. It is a symbol of power: Someone has taken someone else's life. It is a symbol of evil, of the dark side of the human existence/experience. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, gives murder (particularly murder of your brother) not only the symbol of ultimate evil, but its parable is a warning to all humans.
Murder always creates a surreal atmosphere. Its name and dynamics are psychological "red buttons" that the psyche (subconscious) recognizes before the conscious. Murder is always dark and it hides in the darkest places that people don't want to peer into because of many reasons including the fact that it might affect their conscience and make them depressed.
Only the perpetrators, researchers and real thirsters of justice will look inside these dark places. You have to have courage to do this because these dark places are rabidly shielded and watched by guards of the elite. Like any murderer, the persons who caused the murder will do everything to keep the evidence hidden. In the case of Silent Autogenocides like the one that is happening in America, the truth of it will remain hidden until all the players have long since left life's arena. More, few ever mourn for the loss of weakest members of society.
When the spotlight is on the murderer, motivation, premeditation, biographies, facts and more are explored to depth. When the spotlight never reaches the murders or the murderers, its accepted by most people that the perpetrators will probably get away with it.
This is not always the truth, particularly in the case of autogenocide.
Forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow, speaking before the May, 1984 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, correctly said,"Of all the forms of murder, none is more monstrous than that committed by a state against its own citizens... The homicidal state shares one trait with the solitary killer--like all murderers, it trips on its own egoism and drops a trail of clues which, when properly collected, preserved and analyzed are as damning as a signed confession left in the grave."
In the two months it has taken to write this article, the author estimates that at least 20,000 Americans have died from autogenocide. These deaths include any kind of premature death by any of the legion of ills that poverty creates or exacerbates. Deaths can include exposure, accidents, gunshots, hunger, drug overdose, lack of medicine or medical care, suicides, homicides, asthma deaths from breathing cockroach feces, cancer, tuberculosis, AIDS, so forth.
Americans, even the ones on the left, are trained (brainwashed) from the cradle to only accept the truth in spoonfuls. This essay is more than a spoonful of truth. Only the most courageous readers have read this far.
Its time to wake the Sleeping Village up! Its time to throw the wild cards on the table and start the dialogue that needs to be started.
The economic and political elite of America have cognitively rigged the Lottery of Life to force premature deaths of those not valuable to white male society and/or industry. The full consequences of mean-hearted, reckless, racist, patriarchal, right-wing Christian, laissez faire capitalism legislation won't be seen for years. By then, tens of millions of unwanted citizens will be dead before their time. That's how American autogenocide works.
Socialists, feminists, activists, minority groups, women's groups, social service groups, ghetto committees, Indian reservation councils, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, ACORN, the Black Panthers, the Gray Panthers, prisoner groups, so forth, need to start counting the deaths around them, including statistics like race, age, income and cause of death. No longer can the usual "causes of death" be attributed to victims of autogenocide. New categories, like "poverty" and "the violence of poverty" need to be considered as primary causes of death with the physical diseases listed as secondary causes.
A central organization or website needs to be established to begin the grim task of counting the bodies of victims and disseminating the information. Once the counting begins, the picture is going to be bigger than anyone ever imagined. It has to be done or the American autogenocide will continue.
The villagers from the lower tiers of society have to collect the death information and find someone neutral to interpret this data.
From the cradle to the grave, propaganda sewn everywhere in the social tapestry tells us that the government and its agents are infallible. As in "the good old days," almost every politician prostitutes themselves to the elite and big business today. Look at who's in the White House right now and how the country's run. The government or corporate-owned media can not be trusted to perform this counting. The people-people in every corner of the US-have to count, literally.
For further reading, I suggest Michael Parenti's article Hidden Holocaust, USA
I recommend that everyone in the world read THE RELIGION OF POWER by Cheryl Forbes. Although I am a pagan and this is a "Christian" book, it is the best book I have found so far that describes power and how it works in this world.
Martha Rose Crow is a feminist, socialist, poet and writer living in the Netherlands. A social economist and cultural scientist, she holds four university degrees in Marketing, Management, Communication and Information Media (master's degree). She can be contacted at email@example.com
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Editorial: Hell Awaits, America
Mass Manipulation, Blissful Psychosis, and 7 Easy Ways to Achieve Damnation
("Dante and Virgil in Hell" was painted by Adolphe-William Bouguereau)
"'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat. 'We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'
'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
'You must be," said the Cat. 'or you wouldn't have come here.'" - Lewis Carroll
Awakening to a masochistic impulse last Sunday, I opened the Op-Ed section of my local paper, The Kansas City Star. Throwing caution to the wind, I plunged headlong into the mind-engulfing thicket of sophistry. Running for my intellectual life, I felt the collective breath of the ravening wolves thirsting to rip the jugular vein coursing with the life-blood of my capacity for independent thought. Driven by an insatiable hunger to devour the cognitions of those who strayed from the herd, the voracious pack pursued me with a vengeance. Yet today I was moving with the agility of Brer Rabbit navigating the Briar Patch. Powered by critical thinking and a fierce determination to maintain my noetic integrity, I evaded the ferocious canines' furious bid to sink their razor-like fangs into the succulent gray matter they craved. Emerging from the tortuous copse, my psyche was bloodied but intact. And more importantly, it remained free.
Consider that The Kansas City Star, a paper that "serves" a metropolitan population of 1.9 million, is but one of 29 publications owned by The McClatchy Company, a corporate entity that raked in a net of $160.5 million in 2005(1). With McClatchy backing them and a daily subscription of 270,000 people, the Star can afford to publish the scribblings of the best propagandists money can buy. And they desperately need them.
Burdened with a task as daunting as the Twelve Labors of Heracles, the mainstream media strive with a fury to satisfy their demanding corporate paymasters. Yet unlike Heracles, they can't luxuriate in the knowledge that quiescence awaits. For theirs is a Sisyphean challenge. Truth, the eternal and immutable one, anxiously anticipates the moment his would-be assassins crest the summit where he is poised to hurl them violently back to the base of the hill. Powerless to prevent their relentless prevarication, Old Man Verity delights at the opportunity to condemn them to perpetual toil.
Ostensibly fragmented and autonomous, the MSM duplicitously peddle their perversions of reality in a seemingly cacophonous din of independent truth-seekers. Yet how could such an incestuously entangled group of entities owned by a handful of leviathan corporations possibly adhere to a spirit of integrity? Acting in unison to protect the interests of opulent shareholders and maleficent politicians, print, radio, and television media embody the Ministry of Truth Orwell envisioned.
Thomas Carlyle once commented:
"Burke said that there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate, more important far than they all."
Wallowing in a fetid sewer of avarice, speciousness, sensationalism, and pornography, Carlyle's Reporters' Gallery has all but abandoned its crucial role. The Fourth Estate has evolved from a fierce watchdog of the public interest into a massive swarm of winged vectors infecting the body politic with the parasitic disease of fascism.
While Rush Limbaugh and his ilk ply their craft with obvious glee, others providing grist for the propaganda mill apologize and plead the "mortgage and family" defense. Those who defy the corporatocracy by employing journalistic integrity often find themselves relegated to obscure roles or wrangling with government bureaucracy over meager unemployment benefits. Bearing the "fools license" of medieval court jesters, a precious few mainstream journalists reach the pinnacles of their profession despite their honesty. Their satirical styles of presentation save them from the axes of the censors and "down-sizers".
Like eager equestrians breaking green horses, the mass media endeavor to provide the pecunious stratum of society with obedient beasts of burden. Conditioning begins at our earliest moments of cognition. With the ubiquity of TV, radio, newspapers, and billboards, steady barrages of thought manipulation continue throughout our lives.
Mere extensions of the exploitative perversion of Capitalism which has emerged as a means of imposing economic tyranny in our constitutional republic, the glorified spin doctors of the MSM act as priests shepherding their flock. Espousing a doctrine promoting the Seven Deadly Sins, the prelates of the mainstream media have replaced the spiritual progress of their steadfast adherents with a moral regression that leaves Satan green with envy.
Banishing human reason and compassion to distant exile, the media barons and their minions perpetuate a chronic state of group psychosis. Reality and morality? Who can be bothered with such trivial matters when Playboy Spice Platinum is on the 60 inch flat-screen, frosty bottles of Coors are in the fridge, the NFL has its own network, and we have enough military fire-power to obliterate the Milky Way Galaxy. And the likes of Fox, CBS, and Time Magazine are there to quash those nasty occasional doubts and quickly restore our shining vision of America the Beautiful.
While the corporate media entities manipulate consumers, exercise a virtual monopoly on the flow of information, rewrite history to suit political agendas, unduly influence the outcome of elections, and perform a myriad of other tasks to advance the interests of those in power, the holographic image of the United States as a benevolent beacon of democracy they work so tirelessly to etch into people's minds is beginning to fade.
However, that represents no crisis to them. They simply flood our minds with more of the narcotic-like ideas and images they dispense to mask the pain from the festering wounds on our agonized souls. Undaunted, they continue to merrily guide us down the well-trodden path to the Inferno.
Nimbly disabling the mind and conscience, corporate-supported propaganda shock troops have enticed and manipulated untold millions of people to embrace severely distorted realities and spiritually vacuous lives.
Consider our nation's repeated and egregious perpetrations of the Seven Deadly Sins and our information tsars' complicity as instigators, enablers, and participants:
LUST (LUXURIA): Pornification is rampant in our culture. Television, movies, catalogues, and nearly every form of media imaginable are teeming with salacious photos of women wearing little or no clothing. Waves of new pornographic print publications and Websites leave Larry Flynt's Hustler Magazine looking almost puritanical. Sexual taboos are on a path to extinction. Inducing ravenous appetites for carnal pleasure, the mass media have tapped into major veins of pathological obsession and the exploitation of women and children. Yet they don't care. Because sex does indeed sell. It sells so well that Dante's vision of spiritual cleansing by the flesh-searing flames of a raging conflagration doesn't even give them pause.
GLUTTONY (GULA): Imagine that the United States is a hog amongst a herd of swine that represents the world population. And that the world's resources are their slop. America would be one of twenty pigs. Yet come feeding time, the US porker would leave only three fourths of the pig swill for the remaining 19 squealers to share. More than 850 million people around the globe face starvation (2). 33% of US Americans are obese or overweight (3). Like Tantalus, the gluttons in Dante's Purgatorio spend eternity yearning for food that is in sight but just out of their reach.
AVARICE (AVARITIA): Avarice is the black heart of rapacious capitalism and corporatism in the United States. Enron, Halliburton, Lee Raymond, Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Tyco, Bernard Ebbers, 33% of the wealth concentrated into the hands of 1% of the population (4)...examples of obscenely acquisitive entities and individuals are nearly infinite.
SLOTH (ACEDIA): Sloth is perhaps best exemplified by the shocking indifference many US Americans show toward the innocent victims of their pitiless war machine. The United States' economic and military juggernaut has been waging genocide against Iraqis since the Gulf War. So naturally, instead of focusing on culpability, remorse, or demands to end the state-inflicted murder of millions, our high priests of the temple of information fuel a debate over how much (or how little) "collateral damage" has been caused by US military aggression. Sloth also entails avoiding spiritual work. In a society of people indoctrinated to worship wealth, physical beauty, quick fixes, themselves, and immediate gratification, there is not much danger of over-exertion to reach self-actualization.
WRATH (IRA): Throughout much of its relatively brief existence the United States has inflicted misery upon billions around the globe through intervening militarily and wielding its economic power like a mighty cudgel. When the oppressed finally realized they could resist by employing asymmetric warfare, those crafting Goodthink whipped the multitude into a fury. Directing US Americans' wrath against Islam enabled the Bush Regime to invade and occupy two geopolitically strategic nations. And the millions of dead or suffering human beings in Afghanistan and Iraq were and are the illegitimate targets of the vengeance and unwarranted rage of wrath.
ENVY (INVIDIA): The moneyed elite in the United States have long coveted their neighbors' land, resources, and cheap labor forces. Eager to invade, annex, and exploit, the plutocracy began to disseminate the warped notion of Manifest Destiny in the Nineteenth Century. Purporting to have the unwavering support of the Almighty, the "superior" Anglo-Saxons rationalized slavery, the Native American Genocide, the conquest of half of Mexico, the annexation of Hawaii, and their eradication of over 300,000 "savages" in conquering the Philippines. With its vast and sophisticated media network at its beck and call, those monopolizing power in the United States continue to cull popular support for obtaining the objects of their envy. Complex obfuscations and demagoguery may sell their agenda to today's more sophisticated audiences, but the underlying goals and results have changed little. The power elite want what others have and employ whatever means are necessary to get what they want.
PRIDE (SUPERBIA): Considered by many to be the most grievous of the Seven Deadly Sins, pride was the impetus for Lucifer's fall. Before their umbilical cord is even severed those born as citizens of the American Empire begin receiving a barrage of assurances from the media matrix that theirs is an exceptionally superior nation. Brimming with hubris and a pathological nationalism, those who have internalized the Big Lie wave their blood-drenched flags in open support of fire bombings, nuclear assaults, the installation and support of ruthless dictators, neocolonialism, and brutal invasions of tiny and vulnerable nations. Enmeshed in the protective cocoon of the Empire, we are imbued with the warped psychological capacity to pursue our narcissistic fantasies while callously disregarding the misery we are inflicting upon other human beings. Many US Americans regard hubris and narcissism as their natural rights. And they exercise these "rights" with the zeal of a jonesing crack addict hustling for their next fix.
To paraphrase Bon Scott, Angus Young, and Malcolm Young: We're going down. All the way down. We're on the Highway to Hell.
So revel in the mass delusions, suck the marrow that the wretched may gnaw upon the bones, and excise your conscience.
And for God's sake, savor each second of the ride....Because Hell awaits, America....
(1) The McClatchy Company
(2) Inter Press Service
(3) Guidelines on Overweight and Obesity
(4) State of Working America
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically, his essays have appeared widely on the Internet, and he volunteers at a homeless shelter. He welcomes constructive correspondence at firstname.lastname@example.org or via his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/
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Feel the love, redux
Monday, October 30, 2006
Right on cue, the right wing's eliminationfest ratchets along, this time with a decrepit old hater from Ohio named "Sock" Sokolowski, who wrote the following letter to radio talk-show host Stephanie Miller (unredacted version at BradBlog):
- As with Cindy Sheehan the best thing that could happen to you would be seeing some WONDERFUL activist sticking an AK-47 up your Glory Holes and sending you into eternity. But this is not a threat as I am a paci-fist preferring to confront dumb fucks like you two with words rather than violence. But I would gather my 1st amendment rights permit me to HOPE (!) and PRAY (!) that someone decides you're better off as statistics. Honestly, should I hear of either you leaving this earth prematurely I would initiate a personal celebration that would make Animal House appear to be just another quiet Sunday in church.
... Therefore, I trust the both of you mother fuckers will continue to show yourselves on TV shows, exposure to more and more people, as GUARANTEED your words will someday possibly accelerate your demise again not on my hand but by someone who believes in such finalizing action. ... Would love to celebrate and would for days one end as I always would and will when still another America HATER meets his/her maker.
Larry Johnson has some thoughts. And while the evidence piles up, I'll just try not to sound like a broken record.
Be sure to catch Miller's dialogue with Sokolowski when she calls him up at home. You've got to love his denials that the letter constitutes a threat; it's probably true in the actionable sense, but certainly not in any ethical or moral sense on this planet. Perhaps on Bizarro World.
[Hat tip to Sharoney in comments.]
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Pentagon mounts media campaign to defend Rumsfeld
www.chinaview.cn 2006-10-31 14:42:06
BEIJING, Oct. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- The Pentagon is taking aim at the Internet and Web logs, the so-called "new media," in a campaign to deflect mounting criticism of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld by a U.S. public that is becoming increasingly disenchanged with the conflict in Iraq.
Rumsfeld has often criticized media for concentrating too much on bad news coming out of Iraq, and not enough on progress being made there. Earlier this year during a trip to Nevada he said he was deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence Westerners.
"That's the thing that keeps me up at night," he said during a question-and-answer session at a naval base.
"If I were grading I would say we probably deserve a 'D' or a 'D-plus' as a country as to how well we're doing in the battle of ideas that's taking place in the world today," Rumsfeld said during a visit to the Army War College in March. "I'm not going to suggest that it's easy, but we have not found the formula as a country for countering the extremists' message."
The Associated Press obtained a memo by Dorrance Smith, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, that said new teams of people will "develop messages" for the 24-hour news cycle and "correct the record."
The memo describes an operation modeled after a political campaign -- such as that made famous by Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential race war room -- calling for a "Rapid Response" section that quickly answers opponents' assertions.
Another branch would coordinate "surrogates."
In a political campaign, surrogates are often high-level politicians or key interest groups who speak or travel on behalf of a candidate or an issue. It also would include new workers to book civilian and military guests on television and radio shows.
Despite repeated requests for details on the cost and scope of the program, which has been in the works for months, Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff would not provide the exact number of people to be hired, how many would be transferred from other Pentagon jobs, or how many would be political appointees or contractors.
It also was unclear where the funding would come from, considering the Defense Department is struggling to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as repeated requests from Army and Marine Corps leaders to repair and replace equipment lost and damaged in battle.
Ruff said the effort was not initiated in response to eroding public support for the war. He said it was not aimed at helping in next week's elections. He also said he would not call it an "information operations" program, which generally refers to a propaganda-type campaign.
Ruff said the effort grew out of Rumsfeld's criticism of the department's communications capabilities, which the secretary compared unfavorably to how quickly and effectively terrorists can get their message out.
The Pentagon changes come as Americans prepare to go to the polls next week with the war in Iraq as a key issue. Polls suggest the Republicans could lose their majority in the House, and perhaps the Senate, too.
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Snake Oil And The Midterm Elections
By Joshua Frank
31 October, 2006
So we are in the trenches of another election season, and if you peer closely you can see the explosions on the horizon. I'm yet to be convinced the Democrats have the capacity to take back Congress, and to tell you the truth I don't really care if they do. Not only do they not have the ability to lead, they also do not possess the moral impetus to change the direction of this country if they are lucky enough to regain control. Indeed they are just as responsible for the ruin in Iraq and back home as the Bushites.
The Democrats have assisted the Republicans at virtually every turn over the past six years. From the bloody invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, to the passing of CAFTA, to the confirmations of Samuel Alito and John Roberts, to the support of the PATRIOT Act, to the dismantling of Habeas Corpus, to the championing of Bush's ravaging forest plan, to backing Israel's brutal assault on Lebanon -- the Democratic Party has long played the role of enabler. And now they want your vote.
Author Jeff Cohen in Commondreams.org recently pled with progressives to elect Democrats to office this year. "A Democratic win in 2006 would be similar to 1998: a rejection of rightwing extremism and hypocrisy."
I fail to see the rationale. If we usher the Democrats into office on November 7 we'll just be electing rightwing extremism under a substitute banner -- it won't be called Republican but it'll still be wicked as all hell. Even Cohen admits that the Democratic leadership doesn't have a progressive agenda, but still feels that a lefty push inside the party could change that around. What Cohen and others have embraced is a blatant call for lesser-evilism: ignore alternatives and vote for what you don't believe in, because it's strategic.
The whole plan: "take back Congress and then pull the Democrats left down the road". When has that ever worked? And why would the corporate Democrats give its progressive wing any credence? If the Democratic Party continues to receive progressive votes regardless of their rightwing positions, there is absolutely no reason for them to change.
Sadly Cohen's position, like the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) of which he serves on the Board, is analogous to The Nation magazine's foul electoral philosophy. Neither will "endorse" pro-war Democratic candidates, nor will they "oppose" them.
Silence is complicity.
I hold out no hope that the Democratic Party can ever be reformed, but let's say by some divine intervention they can. If so, the only way it will ever happen will be when its progressive constituents leave the party and challenge them from the outside. In fact, that is what The Nation seems to fear most.
In the upcoming November 13 issue, on shelves this week, The Nation editors warn, "If Democrats fail to recapture at least a working share of Congressional power, they and their party will rightly be cast into disrepute, too, and distressed citizens may reasonably begin looking for other options."
What would be so wrong with that? Progressives should have been looking for other options long ago. However, The Nation, like Cohen and the PDA, does not support independent politics or the emergence of a legitimate progressive third party. And that's why they have not lived up to their promise of truly opposing pro-war Democrats by endorsing any of their antiwar challengers.
Of the 23 new Democratic candidates for the House, 22 are ardently pro-war. The other is suspect. But The Nation and the PDA don't want you to know any of that. Instead they'd rather see left-leaning voters cramped inside the cage of the Democratic establishment. Nothing could be more damaging to social movements or our hope for real progressive change.
Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush and edits http://www.BrickBurner.org
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Iraq insurgents trying to sway US voters, says Cheney
Mark Tran and agencies
Tuesday October 31, 2006
The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, yesterday said insurgents in Iraq were stepping up attacks in an attempt to influence voters in next week's US midterm elections.
Mr Cheney - one of the main architects of the war in Iraq - said fighters had increased the level of violence and were monitoring US public opinion on the internet.
"It's my belief that they're very sensitive of the fact that we've got an election scheduled and they can get on the websites like anybody else," Mr Cheney told Fox News.
With Iraq turning into a yoke for the Republicans in the midterms, Mr Cheney and the president, George Bush, are turning up the rhetoric in an attempt to energise Republican supporters in tight races.
"However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: the terrorists win and America loses," Mr Bush told a raucous crowd in the southern state of Georgia.
"That's what's at stake in this election. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq."
However, the Los Angeles Times today reported that growing numbers of US military officers were privately questioning the White House assertion that setting a deadline for troop reductions would strengthen the insurgency and undermine efforts to create stability.
The paper cited Kurt Campbell, a former Pentagon official, as saying that more officers were calling for deadlines after concluding that the indefinite presence of US forces was enabling the Shia-run Iraqi government to avoid making compromises.
The US has recently suffered one of its highest military death tolls since the war began in 2003, with more than 100 troops killed in October. The rising level of casualties and the spiralling sectarian violence have turned the war into a liability for the Republicans.
The party fears that an increasingly unpopular conflict and a sex scandal over a congressman who sent lewd emails to congressional pages could lead to the loss of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate as well.
As Mr Cheney raised the possibility that insurgents were trying to sway US voters, it emerged that the Pentagon was planning to set up an information unit to accentuate positive news from Iraq.
In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, Dorrance Smith, an assistant secretary of defence for public affairs, said new teams of people would "develop messages" for the 24-hour news cycle and "correct the record". The plan would focus more resources on the internet, including blogs.
The Pentagon proposal takes a leaf out of Bill Clinton's book. In his successful 1992 presidential race, Mr Clinton set up a highly effective rapid response team to quickly challenge assertions from opponents or the media.
The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has complained that the press focuses too much on bad news from Iraq, claiming that not enough is said about progress being made.
During a trip to Nevada this year, Mr Rumsfeld said he was deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in "manipulating the media" to influence westerners. "That's the thing that keeps me up at night," he added.
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Bush Says 'America Loses' Under Democrats
By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 31, 2006; Page A01
UGAR LAND, Tex., Oct. 30 -- President Bush said terrorists will win if Democrats win and impose their policies on Iraq, as he and Vice President Cheney escalated their rhetoric Monday in an effort to turn out Republican voters in next week's midterm elections.
Democratic operatives continued to broaden the field of races they believe are competitive enough to merit last-minute investments, as the party's House election committee launched ads in typically conservative districts of Kentucky, Nebraska and Nevada. In the Senate battle, new public and private polls yesterday indicated very tight races in Tennessee, Virginia and Missouri, the last of which is shaping up as possibly the country's tightest contest.
Faced with potential GOP defeat in both chambers, Bush and Cheney aimed to avert that by convincing voters that they cannot risk giving the opposition party any power in Washington.
"However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," Bush told a raucous crowd of about 5,000 GOP partisans packed in an arena at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, one of his stops Monday. "That's what's at stake in this election. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq."
Democrats reacted sharply to the latest White House attacks. Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said Bush "resorted to the same tired old partisan attacks in a desperate attempt to hold on to power." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Bush is looking to retain a "rubber-stamp Republican Congress that has done nothing to change our failed Iraq policy."
Cheney, meanwhile, said in an interview with Fox News that he thinks insurgents in Iraq are timing their attacks to influence the U.S. elections.
"It's my belief that they're very sensitive of the fact that we've got an election scheduled," he said. Cheney said the insurgents believe "they can break the will of the American people," and "that's what they're trying to do."
The increasingly combative tone from the White House signaled a coordinated GOP effort to use every channel to remind conservatives why they should turn out to vote, despite what many say is their disenchantment with the Mark Foley page scandal, anger over escalating federal spending and anxiety over the course of the Iraq war. Bush held a telephone conference call with about 3,000 Republican local officials on Saturday to fire them up for a final get-out-the-vote push. On Monday, Bush invited Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity for a ride on Air Force One and an interview later; the presence of the conservative celebrity stirred its own buzz among the standing-room-only crowd at Georgia Southern. Bush is barnstorming this week before friendly Republicans after months of just raising money for GOP candidates.
But the president's travel schedule in the final week of the campaign is also a stark reminder of his political weakness in many parts of the country -- and in many swing districts -- where it is too dangerous for GOP candidates to be seen with Bush. After his rally in Georgia on Monday, Bush flew here to stump for the GOP candidate trying to succeed former House majority leader Tom DeLay (Tex.), who won his seat by 14 points two years ago before resigning amid the Jack Abramoff scandal. There was no sign of the man who once relished his Capitol Hill reputation as "The Hammer" on Monday's visit, which drew several thousand to an aircraft hangar festooned with a giant Texas flag.
The White House has been leaving it to surrogates to appear in swing areas, with first lady Laura Bush campaigning Saturday for Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (R-Conn.) and press secretary Tony Snow appearing on behalf of Sen. James M. Talent (R-Mo.) among others on Monday.
"The fact that Republicans are working hard to hold on to one of the most Republican districts in the country -- that tells you the depth of the Republican struggles around the country," said Amy Walter, who tracks House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
White House aides disputed this characterization, saying the Sugar Land race is a special case since DeLay resigned too late for the courts to allow the GOP to replace him on the ballot. Instead, Republicans are promoting Shelley Sekula Gibbs, a Houston City Council member and dermatologist, as a write-in candidate.
Sekula Gibbs is badly trailing former Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson in fundraising, though Cheney recently came here to raise money, and the National Republican Congressional Committee is spending more than $1 million on her behalf. But a poll published Monday by the Houston Chronicle showed the race statistically tied, even though Republicans acknowledge the difficulty of getting voters to write Sekula Gibbs's name on their ballots.
Sara Taylor, the White House political director, said the purpose of Bush's trip Monday was "to shine a spotlight" on the steps Republicans must take to give their candidate a chance to win. "We're going to focus the president's time on places where he can maximize Republican turnout," she added.
Democrats, meanwhile, believe they have the luxury of competing outside their usual strongholds. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is now funding ads in Kentucky's 3rd District, where challenger John Yarmuth is running against Rep. Anne M. Northup (R); in Nevada's 3rd District, where Tessa Hafen is running against Rep. Jon Porter (R); and in Nebraska's 3rd District, featuring rancher Scott Kleeb (D) against state legislator Adrian Smith (R) for an open seat.
In Georgia, Bush is trying to play a little bit of offense this week, appearing on behalf of GOP candidates in two of the few Democratic districts where Republicans have an opportunity to pick up a seat. The vast majority of competitive races around the country are in districts now held by Republicans, which is one reason Democrats are optimistic they can win the 15 seats necessary to gain a majority in the House.
Bush's rally Monday was on behalf of former Republican congressman Max Burns, who is in a close race to regain his seat from freshman Rep. John Barrow (D). On Tuesday, the president is slated to come back to the state for former representative Mac Collins, who is trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall. Both districts were redrawn by the Georgia legislature in 2005 and are now seen as more favorable to Republicans.
Unlike other Democrats, Barrow and Marshall have not sought to distance themselves far from the president. "I agree with George Bush on this one," Barrow said in a recent ad about tax reform.
Ferrel Guillory, who directs the program on southern politics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said Bush's popularity has not "tanked" as badly in the South as in the rest of the country. "Having the president in your district in the South is still probably a risk worth taking," he said.
The crowd at Georgia Southern seemed to respond most enthusiastically to Bush's most conservative lines, roaring for about 10 seconds after he criticized last week's ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court that gay couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples. Bush said the ruling "raises doubt about the institution of marriage."
"We believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and should be defended," Bush shouted.
Bush also drew a good response from an applause line he used in both Georgia and Texas: "We will not run from thugs and assassins."
In the interview with Hannity on the Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes," Bush said he believes the United States will one day be hit by another terrorist attack. Asked whether the country would be attacked again, Bush said, "I think so, and we've got to do everything we can to stop them."
Staff writer Michael Fletcher and washingtonpost.com staff writer Chris Cillizza contributed to this report from Washington.
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US National ID Cards by May 2008
October 29, 2006
At large, the American people are still unaware of the issuance of the Real ID card forthcoming in May of 2008. This new national/international ID card, and its interactivity with national/international databases, can access our medical, financial, driving, Social Security, license(s), firearms registrations, and political status inside its high tech/little nano brain. In essence, it holds our private lives on a swipe-able card that is then privy to any organization, retailer, or person requesting our identification or our money. In other words, our life histories accessible upon command from one 2X3 inch card.
Having no choice but to comply, most American people will accept their new national/international ID card. It is my understanding that without the card, we will be denied bank accounts in the United States of America, a driver's license, and the right to fly on airplanes unless we have been issued a Real ID card. One might imagine that global retailers might require the Real ID to purchase food and gasoline. Take a look at your current driver's license. Check the expiration date. 2008 would be a good global guess.
For those of us who have seen United Nations military vehicles in the United States, and who have also noticed convoys of military tanks being transported through the wilderness areas of our nation - the same areas that have been locked down and away from the American people via Biosphere Reserves and conservation corridors - we have realized for a great many years that, as one patriot stated, the "stage was being set" for difficult times on American soil - the key issue that mass media ignores at its professional finest. So, with stages being set, one must also look to the timing of the Real ID card, and to 2008 in general. Let us not forget all the other paramilitary systems in our nation, like the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, Citizens Corp groups, Neighborhood Watch groups, C.O.P.S. (Community Oriented Policing Services), the militarizing of law enforcement departments, and the many new for-hire corporations that offer private armies with weapons for a price. And then, of course, there are the U.N. peacekeeping forces, which the American military has been actively involved with for many, many decades while, simultaneously and incrementally, our "leaders" have been closing our homeland military bases during these same decades.
The professional timing of the Real ID card in 2008, and its mandatory issuance, brings to mind several forthcoming coincidences and issues. The collecting and databasing of all personal information of every American adult - coinciding with the CFR's North American Community - and all global government infrastructures in place and play, one must consider the following:
- How are "domestic terrorists" determined and identified?
- Who will be held in the Civilian Labor Camps on American soil?
- What is the real issue behind the "identity theft" propaganda?
- Why are the off-limits American wilderness areas crawling with secret military operations?
- And why the mandatory issuance of an ID card that sums up every American citizen with one swipe?
One cannot help but to almost laugh when it comes to considering how directly global intentions rest beneath our noses. So easy to see, yet so blindly the public goes about its merry and dull way. On that note, the Real ID card will ultimately seal your fate. You will be a compliant and completely identifiable slave to the New World Order, or you will be its enemy - and your Real ID will determine which global creature you shall be.
Therefore, America, let us not in-fight. The fact of our demise as free people exists no matter whose research is right or wrong. The stage is, in fact, being set for our nation's conquering. The Democrats and Republicans have seen to this fact and have worked steadfastly to raise their one-world government. They knew from the beginning that people with property, firearms, and rights were their primary problems, or in other words, the people of the United States of America and other westernized nations. Our "leadership" is not what they seem.
The public acceptance of the Real ID in May of 2008 seals the deal. It will be more than interesting to see which of our friends, neighbors, and family members will willingly sign onto their fate as new "citizens" of the global police state. Just keep telling yourselves that you voted them into office. So did I. As such, we have a lot of soul searching to do and very, very little time - about 21 months. Are we going to continue to allow our "representatives" to march off with this nation and our Constitutional freedom, or are we going to unite and reclaim OUR nation? Ignorance is never bliss. It is abject slavery, and this time, the enslavement is backed by a system far greater than concepts or perceived notions of freedom. It's past time to do more than wave flags, wear patriotic tee shirts, hats, and pins. It's time to serve through action and duty to this nation. Start an A.C.E. (Americans for Constitutional Enforcement) chapter in your neighborhood NOW. Request an information packet (email@example.com) and create your local chapter. It's YOUR job and Constitutional duty to save our nation and to preserve freedom. We have been betrayed. For the sake of your children, open your eyes and act. The only potential answer is to UNITE for freedom and to command that freedom with one voice. Then, as a nation UNITED in knowledge, we can rid ourselves of our "representative" globalists. Now, please stop the bickering and bitching, especially of the partisanship flavor, and get to WORK. Global government is non-partisan minus the master-slave divide.
You may also request a mailed copy of the A.C.E. Information Packet by sending $10.00 to A.C.E., P.O. Box 293, Iron Mountain, MI 49801.
For more information: http://www.papersplease.org
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Teen shot by police stun gun dies
October 31, 2006
JERSEYVILLE, Ill. - A teenager carrying a Bible and shouting "I want Jesus" was shot twice with a police stun gun and later died at a St. Louis hospital, authorities said.
In a statement obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, police in Jerseyville, about 40 miles north of St. Louis, said 17-year-old Roger Holyfield would not acknowledge officers who approached him and he continued yelling, "I want Jesus."
Police tried to calm the teen, but Holyfield became combative, according to the statement. Officers fired the stun gun at him after he ignored their warnings, then fired again when he continued struggling, police said.
Holyfield was flown to St. Louis' Cardinal Glennon Hospital after the confrontation Saturday; he died there Sunday, police said.
An autopsy was planned for Tuesday.
The statement expressed sympathy to Holyfield's family but said city and police officials would not discuss the matter further.
Calls Tuesday to Jerseyville Police Chief Brad Blackorby were not immediately returned. The department has been using stun guns for about five months, according to the statement.
In a report released in March, international human rights group Amnesty International said it had logged at least 156 deaths across the country in the previous five years related to police stun guns.
The rise in deaths accompanies a marked increase in the number of U.S. law enforcement agencies employing devices made by Taser International Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz. About 1,000 of the nation's 18,000 police agencies used Tasers in 2001; more than 7,000 departments had them last year, according to a government study.
Police had used Tasers more than 70,000 times as of last year, Congress' Government Accountability Office said.
Amnesty International has urged police departments to suspend the use of Tasers pending more study. Taser International said the group's count was flawed and falsely linked deaths to Taser use when there has been no such official conclusion.
The city of St. Louis also drew unwanted attention for crime this week when it was named the most dangerous U.S. city by Morgan Quitno Press. The ranking looked only at crime within St. Louis city limits, not its metro area.
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Family of 4 found shot to death in Ky.
Mon Oct 30, 2006
FRENCHBURGH, Ky. - A father shot and killed his wife and two children in their eastern Kentucky home, then committed suicide, state police said Monday. A neighbor peering through the window discovered the bodies.
Bryan Purvis, 34; Jeanie Christina Purvis, 29; their 11-year-old son, Bryan; and 8-year-old daughter, Jennifer, were found Sunday evening, police said. All died of gunshot wounds, Capt. Keith Craycraft said.
The family had lived elsewhere in Menifee County but just recently moved into the house where the shootings occurred, state police Sgt. Robert Conn said. He said police had not determined a motive.
"We never responded there for any domestic violence or anything," Conn said.
The father worked for a landscaping business, and his wife worked with the elderly, Conn said.
Autopsies were to be performed Monday, but police didn't immediately release the results.
Frenchburg is in Menifee County, about 47 miles east of Lexington.
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5 hurt in latest French Quarter shooting
October 31, 2006
NEW ORLEANS - Five people were wounded by gunfire early Tuesday in a French Quarter bar, the latest violence in a city that has been struggling to rein in crime as it tries to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Police said a gunman walked into the bar about 12:30 a.m. and opened fire. Three men were hospitalized, one in critical condition, and two women were reported to have suffered graze wounds, said police Sgt. Jeffrey Johnson.
The motive for the shooting wasn't known, and police were searching for a suspect.
New Orleans has seen a sharp uptick in violent crime as evacuees have returned to the city devastate by Hurricane Katrina. In June, after five teenagers were shot to death in one night, National Guard troops and state police were sent to the city to help police, a mission they will continue through December.
Last month, the French Quarter was a scene of a macabre murder-suicide in which a man chopped up his girlfriend and cooked her head and legs in an apartment above a voodoo temple before leaping to his death.
The city's homicide count for the year had reached 117 by the weekend. With the population around 230,000, that translates into a homicide rate roughly 10 times the national average.
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2 dead in explosion at Arkansas plant
October 31, 2006
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - An explosion at an aluminum recycling plant early Tuesday killed two people and injured a third, a company spokesman said.
The explosion occurred shortly after 3 a.m. in a production area where scrap aluminum is melted down for recycling, said Mike Shaw, human resources and safety director for Arkansas Aluminum Alloys.
There was no fire and no chemical release, but the company shut off power to the plant as a safety precaution, he said.
"We don't know what caused it at this point," Shaw said. He said emergency crews were investigating.
Garland County Sheriff's Lt. Rodney Neighbors said he saw damage to the building's sheet metal roof and to conveyor belts and electrical wiring.
He said the employees were working with containers of aluminum on conveyor belts when the accident occurred, but he said it wasn't obvious what exploded or what killed them.
"Due to the damage in the area, we can't tell what was supposed to be doing what," Neighbors said.
Residents of the area were not in any danger, Neighbors said. He said local authorities would ask the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate.
The names of the workers were not immediately released. Shaw said the survivor suffered minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital.
According to the company's Web site, Arkansas Aluminum Alloys Inc. uses furnaces and casting equipment to recycle scrap aluminum. The plant, which operates around the clock with about 30 employees, is 55 miles southwest of Little Rock.
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Why A Book About Hugo Chavez Touched A Nerve at The New York Times
Monday, Oct 30, 2006
A couple of weeks ago, many Americans might have woken up to the fact that in Venezuela, people are not too pleased with the Bush White House. For days, TV pundits barraged viewers with hyperbolic condemnations of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The firebrand leader, in a brash address to the United Nations, had insulted George Bush at the United Nations by calling him "the devil."
What was missing in the coverage, however, was any sense of why Chavez would want to malign the White House in the first place.
That's a question that I set out to address in my recently released book, Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and The Challenge To The U.S. (St. Martin's Press). The book explains how Chavez is a manifestation of growing social and political discontent against Washington's policies.
The Times Launches Its anti-Chavez Broadside
As a result of Chavez's bombastic performance in New York, I received plenty of interview requests from the mainstream media. Though I certainly wasn't surprised by the irate right wing callers and talk show hosts on AM radio, I was slightly taken aback by a column by Roger Lowenstein in the New York Times Business Section ("An Uncertain Threat in Venezuela," September 17, 2006), in essence a political attack on my book and not a book review per se. The Times printed my short response ("The Chavez Factor") in a letter on October 1.
The New York Times sets the tone of public debate about foreign policy questions, and I believe we shall see articles that mimic Lowenstein's talking points in the months and years ahead.
Strategy #1: Shift The Focus Onto Domestic Venezuelan Politics and Away From the U.S.
One of the classic strategies employed by mainstream media is to try to shift attention away from U.S. destabilization of Venezuela, and to move the conversation towards Chavez and his domestic record. When I was recently interviewed on the Jim Bohannon show, which broadcasts to more than 300 AM stations through the Westwood One network, Bohannon kept on trying to discredit Chavez by bringing up the question of the Venezuelan media.
At least, Bohannon made no secret of his true agenda: at one point during our exhaustive one hour interview he remarked that the U.S. should be funding the Venezuelan opposition as Chavez was a dictator.
Historically, the New York Times has been similarly bellicose on Venezuela. In April 2002, the paper supported a brief coup d'état against Chavez, only recanting its position later. Today, the paper is a bit more subtle than right wing AM radio and since the coup has provided some thoughtful coverage of Venezuela.
But, in his piece about my book, Lowenstein employs a strategy that is similar to Jim Bohannon's. At one point he implies that I am not a "friend" of Venezuela. A "true" friend of Venezuela, Lowenstein argues, would concentrate not on U.S.-Venezuelan relations but on Chavez's domestic policies.
Strategy #2: Over Generalize About the Military
What about Lowenstein's claim that Chavez poses a threat to his own people? Here, the Times oversimplifies a complex political milieu in an effort to demonize the Venezuelan president.
Lowenstein first claims that Chavez has militarized the government. That's a serious overstatement. While it is true that the Venezuelan president has tapped military officers for key positions, the country remains a civilian democracy. What's more, while I personally have reservations about Chavez's military regalia and his arming of new civilian militias, the fact is that the military has done some positive social good in the country through Plan Bolivar 2000, a civic works program.
In my book, I talk about my own doubts about Chavez in 2000-2001 when I was in Venezuela, which had to do precisely with the president's own military background. But Lowenstein ignores many of the subtleties in the book, choosing instead to paint me as some kind of raging apologist for the Chavez regime and everything that it does.
Even beyond these mischaracterizations, one wonders whether Lowenstein's critique of militarism is consistent throughout Latin America. Colombia, which borders Venezuela to the west, has armed itself to the teeth with U.S. taxpayer money. Compared to the Venezuelan military, the Colombian armed forces have been involved in vastly more human rights abuses. The Times, much to its discredit, has been largely silent on the issue.
Strategy #3: Over Generalize About the Threat to Democratic Liberties
In a further effort to shift attention away from the U.S. role in Venezuela, Lowenstein claims that Chavez has anti-democratic tendencies and has intimidated the media. Lowenstein says he lived in Venezuela in the 1970s, but he seems out of touch with reality on the ground in the country. The Times is taking on a very complicated and thorny issue here and oversimplifies.
Time and again during my recent six week trip to Venezuela, I turned into Globovision, a leading opposition TV station based in Caracas. Watching Globovision, I heard commentators make incredibly scurrilous and vitriolic attacks against the president. Indeed, Venezuelan media is much more combative than mainstream TV news in this country.
To his credit, Chavez has not shut down Globovision or opposition newspapers. That is remarkable when you consider that the opposition media exhorted people to come out onto the streets and actually overthrow the government in April, 2002.
One may easily imagine that the Bush White House would not be so tolerant were Lowenstein and his colleagues to preach rebellion on the front pages of the Times.
I had the chance to learn more about the Venezuelan media during my recent trip to the country. According to Carlos Correa, the former director of Provea, a leading human rights organization in Caracas, there was incredible freedom for the media to express its views. "In fact," he said, "there's been some abuse in that both state and private media have gone too far and said too much."
To be fair however, the media picture was not entirely rosy.
The problem, as Correa explained it, was that after journalists had reported, some had been physically attacked. Correa told me that the government had not been zealous enough in investigating the crimes. Additionally, opposition journalists did not always have access to information or to leading politicians (though that's a situation which is certainly not unique to Venezuela).
Despite these problems, Correa said, only four Venezuelan journalists had been killed since the April 2002 coup. One was killed in the violence during the coup itself. Another was killed by hit men while pursuing a story on drug trafficking. Two others were killed during political protests, and both were from pro-Chavez newspapers.
That's a far cry from a place like Colombia, where the human rights situation is appalling and journalists get attacked and killed routinely. Given the kind of gross human rights violations in Colombia and the terrible climate faced by many journalists, one would think that the newspaper of record would run frequent stores on the issue, but the Times ignores the story.
Strategy #4: Misrepresent the State of The Economy
In yet another attempt to focus attention away from U.S. foreign policy, Lowenstein says that Chavez has eroded confidence in the economy. But contrary to the Times' claims, the economic outlook in Venezuela looks very promising.
It should be said that Chavez inherited a very unenviable economic situation when he was elected in 1998; the country in fact was on the road towards increasing poverty, misery and inequality. Additionally, Chavez had to contend with disruptive economic sabotage through the oil lock out in 2002-3 which resulted in almost $8 billion in losses.
Despite this incredible hardship, investment has actually increased in recent years. In 2002, in the midst of political and financial instability, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) plunged to $800 million, a drastic decrease from 2001 when FDI was $3.7 billion.
Since then FDI has been up and down, but recent figures indicate that Venezuela is on the rebound with an FDI of $1.2 billion in 2005, a 4.5% increase from the previous year. What's more, the investment bank Bear Stearns is forecasting that Venezuela will increase FDI in 2006 by a further 25%. Despite FDI volatility and investor concern over growing government control over the economy, all but three oil companies have agreed to sign joint oil ventures with the state.
Not only is FDI looking up, but the macroeconomic indicators look positive. In 2005-6, Venezuela had the fastest economic growth in Latin America; inflation has been halved; unemployment has been steadily dropping; incomes of the poor doubled in the past two years, and the poverty rate has been dropping.
In its effort to discredit Chavez, the Times has vastly oversimplified the economic picture.
Strategy #5: When All Else Fails, Resort to Cold War Rhetoric
In his column, Lowenstein attempts to tar both the Venezuelan government and myself through retrograde rhetoric. For example, he argues that Chavez is pushing forward a failed socialist agenda and is unhappy with my supposedly Marxist "new-lefty rhetoric [which] I had thought went out in the '70s."
If Lowenstein had actually gone to Venezuela and spoken with the beneficiaries of Chavez's social programs, he'd be able to recognize the fallacy of his argument.
During a recent trip to the country I was able to observe some of the successes of the Chavez regime. In Catia, a poor district of Caracas, I toured a so-called "Endogenous Center of Development," where women had set up a flourishing textile cooperative. The women were proud of their new red T-shirts, which displayed a profile of the revolutionary hero Che Guevara.
Contrary to Lowenstein's claims however, the economy does not follow a strictly socialist model. Venezuela is open to thriving foreign investment and its people are voracious consumers of imported Scotch Whiskey as reported by the Times itself on August 20.
It would be fairer to say that Venezuela is pursuing a nationalist course based on poverty relief for the neediest. In this sense Chavez's economic approach is more akin to FDR's New Deal, a not so subtle difference lost on the likes of Lowenstein.
Summing Up: The Times' Belief System
Lowenstein's discrediting of Chavez is not surprising in light of the overall economic philosophy at the Times. For years, the paper has been touting the so-called virtues of free trade and hemispheric integration, tendencies which Chavez has successfully challenged through anti-poverty programs and promotion of a regional initiative called Bolivarian Alternative of The Americas (known by its Spanish acronym ALBA). Chavez's own trade initiative is a challenge to Washington, which has long pushed its own corporately friendly FTAA or Free Trade Area of the Americas.
The issue of the Times' historic support for free trade was analyzed in a thorough 2001 report by the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). Though the Times reported on the contentious FTAA summit at Quebec in 2001 which drew thousands of anti-globalization protesters, the paper "tended to focus more on the politicking and 'challenges' that Bush must navigate to seal the deal than on the particulars of what might happen if he succeeds."
As I point out in my book, Chavez was critical of the FTAA in Quebec, and his antipathy towards the agreement only increased with time. In this sense Chavez shared some common ground with anti-globalization protesters, who were also vilified by the Times. According to FAIR, Times columnists Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman led the charge in seeking to discredit FTAA critics and the anti-globalization movement. Friedman in fact went as far to say that protesters were "choking the only route out of poverty for the world's poor."
Krugman agreed with Friedman, remarking that "many of the people inside that chain-link fence [hemispheric politicians supporting the FTAA] are sincerely trying to help the world's poor. And the people outside the fence, whatever their intentions, are doing their best to make the poor even poorer."
In a telling aside, FAIR remarked: "Perhaps the most startling thing about these editorials was their failure to acknowledge that the 'world's poor' have in fact themselves been taking to the streets to protest globalization."
Fast forward now from 2001 to 2006, and it's not surprising that the Times would carry on the torch and seek to criticize Chavez. The fact that the Venezuelan leader has been able to successfully resist some of the tenets of "neo-liberal" economics, in line with the thrust of the earlier anti-globalization movement, is disagreeable to the paper of record.
Chavez will most certainly win the December 2006 presidential election. The question is now just a matter of how wide the margin shall be. George Bush and whomever his successor may be will almost certainly try to further destabilize Venezuela in future.
In light of Lowenstein's piece, it seems likely that the mainstream media will take its cue from the Times, over generalizing and misrepresenting the truth on Venezuela until the public starts to become obsessed with Hugo Chavez.
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Curse of the Zionists
PM Olmert: Israel to expand military operations in Gaza Strip
Last update - 01:46 31/10/2006
By Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondent
Israel is considering the appropriate method with which to counter the arms smuggling and Qassam rocket attacks in the Gaza Strip, and a decision will be made in the coming days on the nature of the action that
will be undertaken, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
Olmert said that the IDF would expand its operation against smugglers, but that troops would not remain inside Gaza for an extended period of time.
"Israel is operating against Hamas centers in Gaza. We will expand the operations, but we will not remain for an extended period in Gaza," Olmert said in response to criticism by a number of MKs against Israel's current operation.
MKs Effie Eitam and Zvi Hendel (NRP-National Union), as well as Limor Livnat and Dan Naveh (Likud) said the IDF is not operating aggressively enough against Gaza militants.
Olmert told the committee that 300 militants have been killed in the course of the IDF's Gaza operations over the past three months.
The prime minister described the efforts as aiming to "end the launching of Qassam rockets and strike at the stores of weapons and ammunition that have been accumulating in the Gaza Strip," adding that there is significant smuggling going on through the Philadelphi Route, on the border separating the Gaza Strip from Sinai.
"Individuals who we have marked as having links to terrorism or belonging to various terrorist organizations are passing through the Rafah crossing, and according to the agreements [on the regime governing the
crossing], they should not be passing there," Olmert said.
The prime minister also warned that, "We must be very sober regarding what is going on in Gaza. The calls for putting an end to the terrorism from Gaza are easy to make and difficult to carry out, but at the same
time it is clear to me that we must act." Olmert added that Israel's action will not include an operation in which Israeli forces are permanently positioned in the Gaza Strip.
Olmert told the Knesset committee that in recent months, the IDF killed 300 militants in the Gaza Strip.
However, Olmert was also quick to warn of a pending humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and said that unless it is contained, it can deteriorate into a humanitarian disaster.
He said Israel was not to blame for the situation, and blamed militant groups and domestic infighting among the Palestinian factions for transforming the Gaza Strip into an area of human suffering.
The prime minister did acknowledge that it is in Israel's interest to limit any humanitarian crisis to a minimum.
"Toward this effort [minimizing civilian suffering], we shall open the crossings in order to allow fresh supplies to reach the citizens, we will be prepared to bolster the forces supporting Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas], we will assist humanitarian organizations directly, and we will cooperate with all international parties," Olmert said.
The prime minister noted that there is no basis to the reports that Egypt bolstered its forces along the border with the Gaza Strip.
Olmert also responded to MK Yossi Beilin's question regarding his refusal to respond favorably to peace calls by Syria's Basher Assad, saying that he will not talk with Assad so long as he supports terrorist organizations and grants them asylum in Damascus.
Haniyeh: Additional IDF operation in Gaza 'dangerous escalation'
Officials said the goal of an expanded IDF offensive would be to prevent arms smuggling along the porous Egypt-Gaza frontier.
"What has happened is that the border between the Palestinian border and Egypt has deteriorated and that may entail additional activities that we haven't done until now," Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Olmert, said. "But that doesn't mean we're going to go back... and reoccupy any part of Gaza."
Israel has been fighting in Gaza since June, when Hamas militants there
carried out a cross-border raid, killing two soldiers and seizing a third.
However, the army has largely avoided acting in the border area with Egypt - going in only once since its withdrawal last September.
Recently, Israel said that arms smuggling across the border had increased significantly, and newspaper reports that Israel planned to bomb the area led Egypt to reinforce its side of the frontier over the weekend.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said any additional military
operations in Gaza, specifically along the border with Egypt, would be a
On Saturday, Egyptian officials said 5,000 police officers had been sent to reinforce the border with Gaza. Olmert, however, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that there is no basis to reports that Egypt intends to deploy an additional 5,000 border policemen.
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Despite probe, war commanders won't face dismissal from IDF
Last update - 21:58 30/10/2006
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
The four Israel Defense Forces commanders who headed the divisions that fought in the recent war in Lebanon will not be dismissed, despite ongoing investigations of the divisions' conduct during the war, it was decided Monday at a meeting headed by IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz.
Instead, two of the commanders will receive new postings, and two others will serve in their current positions for a third year.
Brigadier General Gal Hirsch, the commander of Division 91, will be appointed to head the strategic brigade of the chief of staff planning department, a position also responsible for the IDF's foreign communication. The command of Division 91 will be taken over by Brigadier General Imad Fars.
Brigadier General Guy Tsur, who served as commander of Division 162, will be appointment as head commander of the military base at Tze'ilim. He will switch positions with Brigadier General Uzi Moskowitz, who will take over command of Division 162.
Brigadier Generals Erez Zuckerman and Eyal Eisenberg, who served as commanders of reserve divisions during the war, will remain in their positions for a third year.
Halutz had hinted in recent weeks of his intention, announcing that the investigation of the war would not end with "decapitation in the city square." The four commanders have been under investigation for their divisions' conduct in the war.
Senior military sources said the decision to reassign the commanders was not surprising. "From the minute the chief of staff himself decided not to take responsibility for the problems of the war and resign, it was very difficult for him to demand it of someone else," the said.
The sources added that the new assignations were not promotions, but would not necessarily prevent them from receiving future promotions.
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Israeli president defies top court
Oct. 31, 2006. 05:52 AM
MIDDLE EAST BUREAU
JERUSALEM-For many Israelis, the ever-blackening cloud of sexual misconduct hanging over the head of President Moshe Katsav should have long since blown him off his perch as Israel's face to the world.
Innocent until proven guilty remains their watchword. But when the accused carries the de facto title of Citizen Number One, a status replete not only with moral responsibility but complete legal immunity, the right thing to do is stand down, temporarily at least, until the storm can be measured in a court of law.
Katsav refused to suspend himself an entire war ago, when the saga first broke after the president and a senior female aide traded simultaneous allegations in early July, she of rape, he of extortion and character assassination.
He refused again while the war with Hezbollah came and went, each missile matched like a bad tabloid dream with salacious media accounts of the mushrooming criminal probe into Katsav's behaviour around women.
The president refused to suspend himself once again two weeks ago, after Israeli police presented a dossier of evidence based on interviews with 10 female complainants with a bombshell bottom-line: recommendations that Katsav be charged with rape, forceful indecent assault, indecent assault without consent and sexual harassment offences.
And to the utter incredulity of his critics, Katsav refused yet again yesterday, delivering a legal submission that argued the Israeli Supreme Court has no authority to compel him to resign.
He has immunity, after all. Constitutional experts in Israel say the case has now entered uncharted territory, as no precedent exists for a president facing such serious allegations. But if Katsav chooses to cling to his largely ceremonial office, another four or five months could pass before the next tumbler falls - a decision by Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on whether to proceed with an indictment.
Katsav, who has maintained all along he is the victim of conspiracy, issued another statement of innocence yesterday, insisting, "I am totally convinced that I am innocent and all have to respect the law and processes."
Whatever the truth, the pressure to stand aside pending a legal outcome is now approaching a crescendo, as Israelis ponder the impact of the scandal on the office of the presidency itself.
"It is baffling, stunning, depressing and distressing. Even for a public that doesn't expect much from its present leaders, this is an all-time low," said Frances Raday, a professor of law at Hebrew University and a leading Israeli advocate of women's rights.
"At a time when all (Katsav) can do is drag the insignia of the presidency through the mud by generating headlines all over the world, he has the responsibility to suspend himself.
"Even if in the end it is decided he is snow white and never dreamt of such a thing, it doesn't matter. The continuing damage to Israel's image is just untold."
Katsav's ability to fulfill the duties of the presidency is now in question as complaints over his presence multiply. In September he absented himself from the swearing in of Israel's new Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch after one retired high court justice recommended Katsav "be sick that day."
And the day after tomorrow, Katsav is not expected to attend a memorial service in the Knesset when parliament gathers to mark the Hebrew calendar's 11th year since the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Beinisch hinted last night that the president's dogged insistence on "business as usual" may soon incur the wrath of the very Supreme Court whose authority he challenges, telling the Israeli daily Haaretz: "The court cannot stand silent in the face of disrespect for the law."
Israel is hardly unaccustomed to sexual imbroglio involving senior public figures. But for those who toil hardest in the struggle against sexual violence, the allegations not only travel far beyond mere imbroglio - they harken to an era of unbridled Israeli machismo many had thought was behind them.
"We are still a very old-fashioned, conservative society in many ways. I think most people understand that it comes in part from life in the military, which sets Israel apart from most countries," said Tal Kramer, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel, an umbrella group representing the country's nine sexual assault facilities.
"So many young women go into the army and find themselves taking orders in a hierarchical structure that is ripe for sexual misconduct. We've worked very hard for social change but, as in many countries, sexual violence remains the only crime where society blames the victims and sometimes even the victim blames herself."
The Israeli Knesset transformed that landscape in 1998, approving one of the most sweeping sexual harassment laws anywhere.
Israel's then-defence minister Yitzhak Mordechai was the first high profile figure to run afoul of the new legislation, forced to resign after he was convicted of sexual assault and harassment sparked by the complaints of several women who worked with him in government and during his long army career.
"Regardless of whether he is innocent or guilty, the very sad message Katsav is sending to Israelis is that a man can walk around with his head held high even when the police say there is reason to indict him," said Hebrew University's Raday.
"It is a horrendous message because it gives enormous support to the view that you don't need to believe these women even if the police believe them."
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Venezuela detains 2 in bomb plot on US Embassy
Venezuelan police detained a university student outside the US Embassy on Monday, saying he left two low-intensity explosives on the street outside the diplomatic mission. No one was hurt, and the student's motives remained unclear.
Police set off the homemade devices - essentially large fireworks - while they closed the street to traffic outside the embassy. Children were evacuated from an adjacent school.
Wilfredo Borraz, police chief for the Baruta section of Caracas, told reporters that one of the explosives was found outside the school and one inside a planter about 50 meters (yards) from the embassy entrance.
He said both were in black plastic bags and contained "small fliers with publicity alluding to Hizbullah" - the Lebanese guerrilla group.
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Planes known to carry CIA terror suspects landed in Tel Aviv
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent
The Israel Airports Authority has confirmed that planes known to have been used by the CIA to transport suspects to detention and interrogation facilities stopped at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.
According to the British civil liberties organization Statewatch, at least four flights through Tel Aviv occurred between 2003 and 2004.
The data compiled by the organization draws on, among other sources, information from a European parliament committee as well as various European states.
On May 7, 2003, an American GulfStream jet took off from Beirut in Lebanon to Larnaka in Cyprus. From there, it flew to "Tel Aviv" (meaning Ben-Gurion Airport on the outskirts of the city). Two days later, the plane returned to Larnaka, from where it departed for Morocco.
A week later, on May 13, records show a Hercules jet with registration number N8213G and owned by a company called Prescott Support flew from Athens to Tel Aviv. According to the American media, Prescott Support is a straw company for the CIA.
On the same day, the same plane departed Tel Aviv for Yerevan, the Armenian capital (a spokeswoman for the Israel Airports Authority confirmed the four flights as reported by Statewatch, but stressed that this flight went to Avignon in France, and not to Yerevan).
A year later, on May 8, 2004, a GulfStream plane took off from Larnaka and flew to Tel Aviv, before returning to Larnaka a short time afterward. Two days later, the plane returned to Tel Aviv from Larnaka, and then flew back to Cyprus before heading to Amman.
The Airports Authority spokeswoman said that she could confirm just two of the four flights.
Records also show dozens of flights flew to and from the airport in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
The international media and European aviation authorities have uncovered details about these flights, including the identity numbers of the planes, their make and model, the companies from which they were leased and their destinations.
The planes are chartered by the CIA from American concerns, mostly front companies.
There is no known American-Israeli interrogation facility on Israeli soil, although it is known that the Israeli and American intelligence organizations share information about the arrests and interrogation of Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror suspects.
But a coincidental meeting at the Kishon prison, near Haifa, between a Jordanian-Pakistani detainee and an Israeli lawyer has shed new light on the intelligence cooperation between Israel and Jordan and these countries' special relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency and America's war on global terrorism.
The Shin Bet security service has confirmed it is holding Marwan Ibrahim Ali Jabur at the Shin Bet security service wing of the Kishon jail, on suspicion of terror activity and has stated his custody is subject to court approval.
This could also turn out to be the first case of the United States handing Israel a world jihad suspect who is not linked to Palestinian terror or Hezbollah. Hundreds of similar cases - of suspects being transferred between countries - have been publicized over the last few years. However, this is the first time such a case has come to light in Israel.
All information comes from the statement Jabur signed and the conversations he conducted with attorney Nizar Mahajna and another lawyer, Maher Talhami, who is also dealing with the case.
Mahajna, from Umm al-Fahm, says that he first became aware of Jabur's presence at Kishon when he met with detainees at the jail last year.
"A few detainees were brought into the hall," said Mahajna. "And one of them told me, 'I'm not of them'" - meaning he was not a Palestinian from the West Bank or Gaza - "and asked, 'Do you have time for me?' I told him yes. He seemed very frightened."
That day, September 22, Mahajna spent several minutes listening to Jabur's surprising story, and then had him sign a statement whose details are being publicized here for the first time.
Jabur was born on October 15, 1976, in Amman, Jordan, to Palestinian refugees from the Gaza town of Khan Yunis. When he was 2 years old, his family moved to Saudi Arabia. When Jabur was 19, he went to Pakistan to study mechanical engineering. There he met and married a Pakistani woman and they had three children.
He became a Pakistani citizen - he holds both a Pakistani passport and a Palestinian ID. He completed his engineering internship in France, after which he returned to Pakistan and visited Afghanistan several times. This travel pattern, which characterizes quite a few Al-Qaida and international terror operatives who have been arrested since the September 11, 2001 attacks, aroused the suspicion of the Pakistani security services.
Jabur provided several versions of the circumstances of his arrest. The first appears in the statement he signed, in which he states he was arrested on May 9, 2004: "I was arrested by Pakistani forces because I was a foreigner and an Arab in Pakistan, under the excuse that I belonged to terrorist Islamist groups, which is not true."
The close cooperation between Israel and Jordan regarding the war on terror is also nothing new. The two countries cooperated even before signing a peace treaty in 1994, and Jordan's King Hussein and his top officials, including the secret service heads, would secretly meet with Israeli leaders and intelligence officials. Once the peace treaty was signed, the cooperation increased.
A shot, a pill, a flight
Jabur's statement sheds more light on the matter. This is what he had to say about Jordan and Israel: "I was taken to Jordan by the American forces, on a plane, not before we got an injection and a pill. The Jordanian forces received us and began an interrogation, which lasted a month and a half. Afterward they took me to the border and handed me over to Israeli intelligence."
Jabur said he was taken by car from the detention facility in Jordan and that the Jordanians then told him to get on a bus to Israel. He said he refused and told them: "If you want to hand me over to the Jews, you'll have to do it yourself."
The Jordanians put him in a car carrying Israeli security officials. "I saw sunlight for the first time when they brought me to Israel," said Jabur. "It was also the first time I saw the Red Cross in two and a half years."
In his statement, Jabur makes no complaints of torture against the Shin Bet, in contrast to what he said he underwent at the hands of Pakistani and American interrogators.
Mahajna and Talhami became familiar with the incident because the former represents the Palestinian Authority "prisoners club," and the two lawyers took down Jabur's statement on behalf of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.
According to the Shin Bet, Jabur was first detained in Israel on September 18, and his remand has been extended several times since then. The last extension was granted on October 23 for eight days.
The military tribunal at Kishon prison is due Tuesday to discuss whether to extend Jabur's remand again, indict him or return him to Jordan. Jabur is concerned about something else: that he will be transferred, like merchandise, to the Palestinian Authority security services.
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Hizbollah rebuilds its military force under nose of UN
By Michael Hirst
Last Updated: 2:42am GMT 31/10/2006
Hizbollah has stepped up the rebuilding of its military infrastructure in southern Lebanon despite the deployment in recent weeks of thousands of Lebanese troops and international peacekeepers to limit the Islamic militant group's activities.
Standing firm against international pressure to disarm, the Shia group is rearming and rebuilding tunnels and trenches destroyed by the Israeli army during this summer's 34-day war.
Locals in Bint Jbeil, a town which saw fierce fighting, told yesterday how Hizbollah was using the major reconstruction efforts to rebuild their security infrastructure.
"They are working extremely fast," said one, who did not want to be named. "Militants in Shia strongholds have interconnected tunnels and bunkers under their houses. These are being rebuilt under cover of the reconstruction work."
He said cables and telecommunications equipment had been installed and the number of trucks delivering aid and supplies made it easy to disguise weapons smuggling.
"They have a security network of hundreds of motorcycles, linked up by walkie-talkies. Wherever outsiders move in the south they are followed. You don't see guns, but Hizbollah knows exactly where you are." On the crater-lined streets of Bint Jbeil, there was evidence of substantial reconstruction and young men on motorcycles, but it was impossible to discern whether any were Hizbollah fighters.
Another resident said: "Hizbollah is everywhere. But after the war the fighters put away their guns and uniforms and went back to being school teachers, engineers, farmers and business people."
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) argues that the presence of 8,800 "blue helmets" and 12,000 Lebanese soldiers between southern Lebanon's Litani river and the Israeli border since the Aug 14 ceasefire has severely restricted Hizbollah activity.
UN vehicles were in plentiful evidence yesterday, and at numerous points Lebanese soldiers scrutinised traffic.
"We have fixed outposts between which we patrol night and day," said Lt Laurent Trochet, the deputy commander of the French Unifil contingent based north of Bint Jbeil. "This makes the smuggling of arms very difficult."
But Lt Trochet admitted that the UN forces had very little intelligence about Hizbollah activity. "I imagine that the people here are Hizbollah, but they don't show themselves," he said. "We're trying to make contact with the militants, but it's difficult because they're so disciplined." UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought an end to the conflict, calls for Hizbollah to disarm and stop smuggling arms from Syria. The UN argues that its patrols have no mandate to disarm militants, merely to prevent the smuggling of arms, track suspicious trucks and boats, and report their findings to the Lebanese army.
But locals argue that Hizbollah's popularity among the south's predominantly Shia population has provided it with an extensive spying network, which makes such work increasingly difficult.
Despite increasing pressure from the international community for Hizbollah to put aside its weapons, analysts see it as highly unlikely that the group will disarm voluntarily.
Timur Goskel, a former Unifil spokesman with close connections to the group, said: "If Hizbollah is in parliament, having only been born in 1982, it's there because of the guns. They're never going to give those guns up."
In Bint Jbeil, the overwhelming feeling among the locals was that Hizbollah should keep its weapons.
"Still the Israelis come over the border, with their drones and jets" said one woman. "Only Hizbollah keeps us safe. If they leave the area, we will leave too."
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U.S. preparing Abbas guard to take on Hamas
Last update - 10:55 31/10/2006
By Aluf Benn and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
The Bush administration has undertaken efforts to arm and train the Presidential Guard of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in order to prepare it for a potential violent confrontation with Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip.
According to information received in Jerusalem, the American security coordinator in the territories, General Keith Dayton, appeared before representatives of the Quartet in London last week and presented them with a program for bolstering the Palestinian presidential guard. The program calls for Egyptian, British and perhaps even Jordanian instructors to train the force loyal to Abbas.
However, Palestinian sources say that the training of a "Special Presidential Guard" started already a month ago, under the guidance of an American military instructor.
The training is taking place in Jericho, at a compound near the InterContinental Hotel, and involves men from Force 17, an elite Fatah force traditionally assigned the protection of the Palestinian Authority Chairman.
According to reports, 400 Force 17 troops have been involved in the training since August.
The Palestinian Authority Chairman's office has recently barred the access of reporters to the compound.
Palestinian sources say that the training program is part of Dayton's recommended initiative for the reinforcement of Abbas' forces, and which involves the transfer of $2 million to set up the necessary training
According to foreign press reports, the United States would like to see the number of men in Force 17 grow from approximately 3,500 to 6,000. Conscripts in the force range from 18 to 22, and undergo basic training for three months. Some are then selected for the Presidential Guard.
In the past, Dayton had proposed that the Presidential Guard, bolstered by international inspectors, be deployed at the Karni crossing in the northern Gaza Strip in order to expand the transit of goods between Gaza and Israel.
Israeli sources say that the United States is interested in the fall of the Hamas government currently in power in the Palestinian Authority.
During the Quartet meeting in London, the Americans expressed their satisfaction with the results of the boycott of Hamas' government, which has undermined its standing among the Palestinians.
However, the U.S. administration is also certain that the sanctions against Hamas will inevitably result in a violent confrontation between Hamas and Fatah, and in such a scenario, they would prefer to strengthen the "good guys" headed by Abbas.
It is unclear whether the European and Russian representatives of the Quartet support this position.
Senior administration officials David Welch and Elliott Abrams, who participated in the Quartet meeting, will arrive here Monday as part of preparations for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's visit to Washington in two weeks.
Olmert is scheduled to depart for the U.S. on November 12, and will meet that same evening with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, in anticipation of a meeting with President George W. Bush the following day.
Olmert will also meet with Vice President Dick Cheney. He will then depart for Los Angeles, where he will address the annual General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities of North America.
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Israeli planes stage mock raid over Hezbollah stronghold
Israeli warplanes staged mock raids over Hezbollah strongholds in south Beirut today in the heaviest show of aerial power since the August 14 ceasefire.
Israeli fighter jets dived down at least six times to zoom low over the southern suburbs before roaring up to the sky.
No bombs were reported, but the roar of the jets caused concern among residents, some of whom took to the rooftops and balconies to watch.
Comment: Bring on the day when there exists a Middle Eastern nation that can swoop low over the Zionists' HQ in Israel.
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Unmasking the Second Palestinian Intifada
By Remi Kanazi
10/30/06 "Information Clearing House"
Over the last five years, the Palestinian people have faced a host of obstacles in their fight for sovereignty, preventing them the opportunity to create a life those in the Western world brag about. A principal impediment facing the Palestinian struggle today is the constant reaffirmation that the Palestinian people-deemed by Israel and the US-are "terrorists," "militants," or animalistic beings lesser than those of the "civilized world." In Ramzy Baroud's new book, The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of People's Struggle, this myth is shattered. The propaganda that has infiltrated Western discourse has proven counterfeit; misinformation that has framed US policy regarding Israel, leading to a multitude of double standards imposed upon Palestinians. These inconsistencies have exponentially magnified the suffering of the Palestinian people and hindered their efforts to gain control of the land in which they live.
Baroud poignantly describes the dilemma Palestinians face. The generalization that all Palestinians are "terrorists" or "militants," allows the Israeli government to act with virtual impunity and equips Israeli forces with a moral endowment; they are acting in the name of "good" and challenging this policy is tantamount to collusion with the "forces of evil." Baroud offers the reader this grim truth, "Being a Palestinian activist means you could be targeted in a taxicab, in your office, sipping coffee with your neighbors, or sitting in your home. When you live, you live in poverty, deprived of all freedoms and joys of life. And when you die, it's a horrible death by a surface-to-surface missile, a car bomb, or a sniper's bullet."
The sincerity and passion in Baroud's approach is remarkable and commendable. The reader is given the opportunity to feel the angst and heartfelt anger sparked inside Baroud, a Palestinian born in a Gazan refugee camp and a writer who searched Jenin in hopes of finding the truth and preserving the stories of those that had suffered. Baroud has worked tirelessly to shine light on the mischaracterized Palestinian; civilians and activists who have been and continue to be sacrificed as inconsequential variables in Israel's fight for "the greater good."
For more than five years, successive Israeli governments implemented policies that undermined the possibilities of freedom and democracy in Occupied Territories, the very principals the United States proclaimed it tried to spread throughout the region. Palestinians further saw their human rights and chances for sustenance and sustainability calculatedly stripped away by Israel's supposed "moral" military. Time and again, Baroud debunks the falsehoods put forth by Israel and America, falsehoods consequently disseminated by Western media outlets. Israel's objective is to reinforce the notion that it is the Palestinian people who are the aggressors, while Israel is the patient victim-acting in self defense under only the most extreme cases. Baroud notes, "It's the same dreadful scenario repeated incessantly. Israel murders many innocent civilians; the international community hears nothing, sees nothing, and does nothing...in anger and desperation, a Palestinian blows himself up in a crowd of Israeli...the Western world is utterly overcome with a wave of condemnations of "Palestinian terrorism," "the enemies of peace."
Baroud comes back to the issue of suicide bombings several times in his book. An erroneous claim presented in Western circles is that the Palestinian people are brought up to hate, kill, foment intolerance and engage in regressive thought and actions. This supposedly triggers the reason for a Palestinian to become a suicide bomber. Baroud aptly asserts, however, that Palestinians are not driven to end their lives because they are products of intolerance or consumed with hatred. Rather he gives a more practical motivation for one to commit such an act. Baroud states, "When a policy of starvation, assassination, and systematic killing is imposed, when people are brutalized in the streets, when schools are raided by Apache helicopters...when a whole nation is collectively abused and violated with almost no protection...for those victims...blowing oneself up might actually seem like a rational way out of a despairing situation."
Baroud makes it clear that the way forward is to take the moral high ground, no matter how hard the struggle, and no matter what dividends one may think it yields, politically or personally. This is what has fundamentally separated the occupier and occupied for so long in this conflict; a clear cut victim existed, it was the Palestinians, suffering 39 years of occupation, with many still affected by the hardships of dispossession 58 years later. Baroud writes, "To maintain its moral edge, the Palestinian revolution should not depart from its all-encompassing, tolerant, and inclusive path, it should not be tainted by the fallacies of the occupier...These values must remain untainted, wholesome even, so that the will of the people might some day prevail over tyranny and oppression. And it will, of this I am certain."
The spirit of non-violent resistance has been alive since the birth of the Palestinian struggle. Most notably, the non-violent protests of the first Intifada, which were met by the iron fist of the Israeli state. This iron fist policy was a specialty of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during the second Intifada. Baroud writes, "They go to the streets to protest the killing of a child, and they return home carrying another shot while protesting." Non-violent protests have been plentiful in the second Intifada, but through growing desperation, measures that were traditionally absent from the Palestinian struggle were taken up by individuals consumed with feelings of helplessness and anger, triggered by the wrongs inflicted upon their people by the Israeli state.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the "Butcher of Beirut," the rogue military man who wasn't afraid of controversy and saw diplomacy as a nuisance, wasn't scared to put down resistance of any kind, whether the resistance came in the form of children throwing rocks or a group non-violently protesting against the Apartheid Wall. His bulldog tactics and ruthless policies were not only his modus operandi but his raison d'être. It was in this context that his policies were carried out, without regard to "collateral damage."
Baroud aptly asserts that the Palestinian response to Israeli aggression "should have been a wake-up call for the Israeli government, making it clear that violence begets nothing but violence and...that a solution to the conflict would only come through the implementation of international law, not Apache helicopters and missiles." If the Israeli government wouldn't pull back the reigns of Ariel Sharon, then surely the US, the UN, the EU or any country with the slightest backbone could have uttered words of condemnation against Israel. The status quo, however, continued: America rallied around Israel, the rest of the international community remained silent and the Palestinians suffered the consequences.
In deep rooted conflicts, it is important to note that intention matters much more than action. Take for example, the unilateral disengagement of the Gaza Strip; Sharon had no intention of giving the Palestinian people autonomy, nor did he have the intention of giving Gazans control of their resources, airspace, territorial water, or borders. Sharon saw the pullout as a necessary militaristic and political move, a shift in policy that benefited Israel, without any consideration for the lives of the 1.4 million Palestinians that would be left living in an open air prison, under de facto Israeli occupation. Without missing a beat, the international community and media applauded Sharon's "gesture of peace." This was the fundamental flaw of the unilateral disengagement of the Gaza Strip, it was predicated on the assertion that disengagement equated to peace, and it's what makes the notion that Sharon had gone through a transformation such an egregious fallacy.
Throughout the conflict, the primary US excuses to support Israel has been that "Israel is our friend," it is the "only democracy in the Middle East," and "given the times we live in" (i.e. the post 9/11 world), it is more crucial than ever to support Israel's struggle against "tyranny and Islamic fanaticism." After that tragic morning, when nearly 2800 American citizens lost their lives, the people of the US have been constantly ingested with propaganda promoting policies suitable for the US government and its "friends", but directly contradict the principals of humanity and any sensible definition of justice. Policy makers and government officials in the West have used this heartbreaking event to create an "us versus them" type of world, without educating us on who "them" is.
Baroud explains the new model, "Fighting terror is the new trend; whereby aggressive, powerful countries crush their weaker foes, deprive them of freedom, while continuing to blame them for all the woes of the world. And we, the people of this world who mean well but fail to act, are expected to believe everything we are told. Israel is defending itself as though it were the Palestinian who occupy Israeli territories, besiege the Israel people, blow up their homes, steal their land, and gun down their children." At some point the light switch has to turn on in our heads that killing and creating "evil empires" when it serves interests, rather than when it serves logic, is a flaw that tears at the very fabric of truly democratic societies. Baroud writes, "When will we treasure the lives of people of all nations on an equal level, whether they be American, Afghani, Iraqi, Israeli, Palestinian, Turkish, Kurdish, Russian, Chechen, or any other? How long will we remain blinded by empty slogans, unexplained hatred, and pretentious condemnations?"
Baroud leaves no one untouched in The Second Palestinian Intifada. He does much to underscore the shortcomings of the late Yasser Arafat, the weakness and lack of credibility of Mahmood Abbas, and the many failures of US intervention (passed off as honest brokering). Baroud doesn't pull punches when critiquing the Palestinian Authority (PA), particularly its corruptness and incompetence.
Baroud specifically uncovers the disingenuousness of "negotiations" led by Abbas and highlights the acquiescence and political posturing of Palestinian figures in times when strength and political purity was needed. Under the rule of the "old guard," the PA lost sight of the Palestinian struggle. The PA's duties were supposed to include preserving and fighting for the rights of its people, defending its citizens against the sordid policies of Israel, and demanding that the international community intervene. Yet, the leaders within the PA were so intent on keeping power and following defunct policies rooted in corruption and nepotism, that they failed to remember that they weren't representing themselves, but a population of 3.8 million people, a people who were suffering the daily realities of occupation.
Palestinian ineptitude only strengthened Israel's position and policy, which Israel had no intention of changing. Israel never had any desire, or pressure, to implement international law, nor did it intend to pursue a course of action that respected Palestinian human rights. Whether Labor, Likud, or Kadima, each Israeli administration knew that a change in policy would fly in the face of what it was trying to accomplish: the territorial control and expropriation of fertile Palestinian land in the West Bank, the annexation of East Jerusalem, the control of the Palestinian people's water supply, and the suppression of the Palestinians inalienable right to autonomy and freedom from occupation in any form. This is why resolution 194 (calling for the right of return), and resolution 242 and 338 (calling on Israel to pull back to the June 1967 borders) have never been seriously discussed-not after the signing of the Oslo Accords, not at Camp David in 2000 and surely not since.
It is not just the ruling Palestinian Authority that faced problems, but rather all factions, particularly in the lead up to the unilateral "disengagement" of the Gaza Strip. Baroud suggests, "By failing to take care of their own destiny in a unified fashion, Palestinians...were taking the risk of being marginalized and victimized by mandates and caretakers...A[n] internal dispute coupled with muscle-flexing would deeply harm all that the Palestinians had fought long and hard to achieve. The media was, as ever, willing to condemn and lambaste Palestinians, their incompetence and failures, retrospectively validating Israel's policy"
Baroud's glimpses of frustration, anger, and jarring sarcasm gives his story a distinct humanness, a tone that is refreshing, and one that the reader can identify with. After being inundated with death tallies and daily reports of carnage, readers many times become desensitized to the news, making one forget how horrible, tragic, and grueling occupied Palestinian life truly is.
At one point, Baroud seems fed up with the almost comical confines the Palestinian people are put in. Baroud asserts, "It [Israel] killed and wounded hundreds of civilians in its 'targeted killing' sprees. Yet, Palestinians were condemned if they showed the mere desire to respond. Even the targeting of occupation soldiers was taboo. So what were the Palestinians permitted to do in self-defense, in accordance with the twisted pro-Israeli Bush doctrine? How about marching in a peaceful demonstration? In, Rafah, that too was anathema and could not be tolerated. It was handled with resolute vigor, the same way a 'terrorist' threat deserved to be handled: A missile fired from a U.S.-supplied Apache helicopter was all that it took to eliminate that option of resistance."
The Second Palestinian Intifada is not merely a tirade on the Palestinian people being subjected to Israeli policy and US support of that policy. The way forward is clear: the acceptance and instituting of international law, the end to the 39 year occupation, and the emergence of fair brokers, mainly the US, the UN, and the European Union.
The relevancy and necessity for Baroud's analysis and critique in these pressing times cannot be overstated. The genuineness of Baroud's approach is one to be admired and applauded. His insistence to uncover injustices carried out by Israel (with full support of the US administration) is unwavering, yet doesn't cloud his judgment.
At his core, Baroud stays hopeful, "It has always been an old habit of mine to sign off messages in the days preceding the New year by expressing: 'I pray that the coming year will bring peace and justice to our troubled world.' Despite disappointing experiences, I persist in this, because hope is essential."
The fight for Palestine, a vision to end the injustice imposed upon them, illustrates the common threat of injustice that plagues all oppressed people. This struggle is something to be cherished, to work for and to improve. Baroud explains, "In spite of dashed hopes and failed summits, peace and justice movements around the word, representing an array of struggles, continue to look to the Palestinian people as an icon of resistance."
What is happening today in the Occupied Territories isn't politics. It is an overwhelming nightmare that plagues 3.8 million people every day. Each person in the Occupied Territories has a story, a story that is equally significant and heartbreaking, whether revealing that a relative has been killed, land has been taken from them, their home has been bulldozed to the ground or the humiliating act of being stopped, restricted, or harassed by Israel forces, this is the reality with which they live. The human story Baroud puts forth is meant not only to educate and inform, but to encourage and inspire. The peoples of struggle mustn't be forgotten, nor should they be silenced. Baroud does service to this cause and because of it, has left the flame of struggle burning brighter.
The Second Palestinian Intifada : A Chronicle of a People's Struggle, published by Pluto Press, can be found on Amazon.com.
Remi Kanazi is the primary writer for the political website www.PoeticInjustice.net He is the editor of the forthcoming book of poetry, Poets for Palestine, for more information go to Poetic Injustice. He lives can reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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UN Investigates Israel's 'Uranium Weapons'
By Eric Silver
31 October, 2006
The United Nations Environment Programme is investigating allegations, first published in The Independent, that Israel may have used uranium-based weapons during this summer's war in Lebanon. Twenty UN experts, working with Lebanese environmentalists, have spent two weeks assessing various samples. They are planning to report their findings in December.
Butros al-Harb, Unep's Middle East director, told a Lebanese radio interviewer at the weekend: "If uranium was used, we will find out and we will announce it. We cannot confirm anything now, but we will wait for results."
Yesterday Israel issued its most explicit denial yet. Major Avital Leibovitz, a spokeswoman for the Israel Defence Forces, said: "We deny using any weapons containing uranium." One official suggested that if the environmentalists had indeed found traces of uranium, they would have to look for a different explanation.
Chris Busby, the scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, based in Brussels, reported last week that two soil samples thrown up by Israeli bombs in the south Lebanese villages of Khiam and At Tiri, centres of fierce fighting between Israel and Hizbollah, showed "elevated radiation signatures". Dr Busby warned that particles from the explosions were long-lived in the environment and could be inhaled into the lungs, causing "significant" health effects on civilians.
The Harwell laboratory for mass spectrometry in Oxfordshire confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples, but the European experts were puzzled about what weapons Israel might have been using and why. Chris Bellamy, a professor of military science and doctrine at Cranfield University, said the initial tests "present an enigma". But he dismissed speculation that Israel was using a "dirty bomb" or micro-yield nuclear weapon.
Government officials said Israel had received no approaches from either the Unep or the European committee. Mark Regev, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "If someone comes with a complaint, comes with a charge, we will review it." But he protested that Israel was being singled out when nobody had accused it of deploying weapons banned under international law or practice. "The sort of munitions we used in the Lebanon campaign," he said, "were almost identical to the sort of weaponry used in conflicts over the past decade by Nato countries, by Western countries. Sometimes there's a feeling that the Jewish state is being singled out for special treatment. One really has to ask why it is that the finger is being pointed at Israel."
Palestinian officials have frequently accused the IDF of firing shells tipped with depleted uranium, a hard metal byproduct of uranium enrichment, in the Gaza Strip. But Israel has denied it and no conclusive evidence has been produced.
* Israel's Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz, called for President Moshe Katzav to stand down for the duration of any judicial proceedings after police recommended indicting him for alleged sexual offences against women employees.
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Fears over huge growth in Iraq's unregulated private armies
Tuesday October 31, 2006
A huge increase in the number of unregulated private military and security companies operating in Iraq and Afghanistan is driving concern about the lack of regulation and constraints on their activities.
There are three British private security guards to every British soldier in Iraq, the charity War on Want said yesterday. At least 181 private military and security companies are operating in the country, employing almost 21,000 British private security guards, nearly half of the total number - an estimated 48,000.
Foreign contracts by British private security firms are now worth about £1bn a year, according to the companies.
The extent of their activities, and the way governments are either indulging or ignoring them, were highlighted at a conference in London in which the companies admitted that what has become known as the largest private army in the world had a serious image problem.
However, there is a lack of reliable information about the companies' activities. Speakers at the conference of the British Association of Private Security Companies claimed that what they described as the "Iraqi bubble" had burst and there may now be only 10,000 private guards in Iraq.
Andrew Bearpark, the association's director general, said the number of private security company employees killed in Iraq was a "quite staggering" 827, and added that the figure could be an underestimate.
Aegis and Control Risks are among British companies whose employees have been killed in Iraq. The British military reported yesterday that a roadside bomb killed three people travelling in a private security company convoy near Basra.
Mr Bearpark, a former chief of staff to Lady Thatcher, said the activities of private security companies had increased tenfold since the 1991 Gulf war. He insisted that the companies believed in regulation but the UK government had not come up with any proposal since a green paper on the issue four years ago. In the meantime, he said, the companies would appoint an independent ombudsman to investigate claims of abuse by employees.
The government admits that private security companies are here to stay, and that their operations are likely to increase further as pressures on the armed forces increase. Yet it is keeping the companies at arm's length, apparently concerned about dealing with "mercenaries". The companies, meanwhile, are desperate to shake off what they insist is an outdated and misleading moniker. Their tasks, they say, range from protecting individuals and convoys to "post-conflict reconstruction".
Critics say the main problem is that they are unaccountable. Non-Iraqi employees of private security companies in Iraq were protected from prosecution under Order 17 of the Coalition Provisional Authority, issued shortly before it handed over power in 2004.
War on Want said yesterday that civilian contractors - including men named in US military reports as having carried out abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison - have repeatedly escaped prosecution. The charity pointed to a report by US army general Antonio Taguba which stated that two workers employed by private defence companies CACI International Inc and Titan Corp were "either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib".
The charity also cited a video distributed on the internet which purported to show Aegis contractors firing at Iraqi civilian vehicles, to a soundtrack of Elvis Presley's song Mystery Train. A US military investigation cleared Aegis of any offence.
Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive of the humanitarian agency Care International UK, expressed concerns that in Afghanistan and Iraq the lines between security and aid were being blurred.
"When the military and private security companies get involved in so-called 'quick-impact projects', they are frequently ineffective, inappropriate, and short-termist," he said. "This is because they are based on a different agenda - either political or military - rather than on the need for sustainable reconstruction."
British private security companies have contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan worth £1bn. There are 48,000 employees of private security firms in Iraq - 21,000 of them British - according to War on Want. The total has now dropped to 10,000, British companies say. Aegis, which won a multimillion pound contract from the Pentagon to provide security in Iraq, saw its turnover increase from £500,000 in 2003 to £62m last year. ArmorGroup, a British company, trebled its turnover from £37m in 2001 to £122m. In Afghanistan, 150 employees of the US company DynCorp are protecting president Hamid Karzai. Blackwater has won contracts in Iraq and to combat opium cultivation in Afghanistan. Control Risks has contracts with UK and US agencies, including the Foreign Office, to provide security in Iraq.
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Many weapons in Iraq are missing, report says
From the Associated Press
October 31, 2006
Thousands of weapons the United States has provided to Iraqi security forces cannot be accounted for, and spare parts and repair manuals are unavailable for many others, a new report to Congress says.
The report was prepared at the request of Sen. John W. Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
A spokesman for Warner said the Virginia Republican read the report over the weekend in preparation for a meeting today with Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
The Pentagon cannot account for 14,030 weapons - almost 4% of the semiautomatic pistols, assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled-grenade launchers and other weapons it has been supplying to Iraq since the end of 2003.
The missing weapons cannot be tracked easily: The Defense Department registered the serial numbers of only about 10,000 of the 370,251 weapons it provided - less than 3%.
Missing from the department's inventory were 13,180 semiautomatic pistols, 751 assault rifles and 99 machine guns.
Many weapons that are not missing cannot be repaired because parts or technical manuals are unavailable.
The inspector general's office released its report Sunday in a series of three audits.
A second audit says that "significant challenges remain that put at risk" the U.S. military's goal of strengthening Iraqi security forces by transferring all logistics operations to the Defense Ministry by the end of 2007.
The audit says there is a "significant risk" that the Iraqi Interior Ministry "will not be capable of assuming and sustaining logistics support for the Iraqi local and national police forces in the near term."
That support includes equipment maintenance, transportation and health resources for soldiers and police.
A third audit says, "The unstable security environment in Iraq touches every aspect" of the Provincial Reconstruction Team program.
The audit says that, because of security issues, the teams "have varying degrees of ability to carry out their missions." Auditors reviewed nine teams and four satellite offices and found that "four were generally able, four were somewhat able, three were less able and two were generally unable" to accomplish their goals.
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Rights group says Iraqi gov't protecting death squad members
29 Oct 2006
BAGHDAD - The Iraqi government must move quickly to prosecute all Ministry of Interior personnel responsible for "death squad" killings in Baghdad and elsewhere, the New-York based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Saturday.
"Evidence suggests that Iraqi security forces are involved in these horrific crimes, and thus far the government has not held them accountable," said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW's Middle East division. "The Iraqi government must stop giving protection to security forces responsible for abduction, torture and murder."
Sectarian violence between the majority Shi'ite Muslims and Sunni Muslims in Iraq has been steadily escalating since a revered Shi'ite shrine was bombed in the northern city of Samarra in February.
On 15 October, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite Muslim, pledged in a nationally televised address to crack down on militias. "The state and the militias cannot coexist. Arms can only be in the hands of the government and no one has the right to be above the law," al-Maliki said.
However, analysts say that government rhetoric is not being matched by action. "He [al-Maliki] has issued repeated statements against illegal armed groups, but he is not able to take any concerted action against these militias because of their political weight in his government," said Emad al-Janabi, a Baghdad-based political sciences professor at the University of Mosul.
Comment: Now think about this. The US government clearly controls the Iraqi government, which leads us to conclude that if death squads are getting support from within the Iraqi government, then the US government, or some section thereof, is also aware of it. In any case, the verdict on the real cause and source of the "sectarian violence" in Iraq is already more or less in. See here for more.
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Resistance To Deadlines For Iraq Is Weakening
October 31 2006
WASHINGTON -- Growing numbers of American military officers have begun to privately question a key tenet of U.S. strategy in Iraq - that setting a hard deadline for troop reductions would strengthen the insurgency and undermine efforts to create a stable state.
The Iraqi government's refusal to take certain measures to reduce sectarian tensions between Sunni Arabs and the nation's Shiite Muslim majority has led these officers to conclude that Iraqis will not make difficult decisions unless they are pushed.
Therefore, they say, the advantages of deadlines may outweigh the drawbacks.
"Deadlines could help ensure that the Iraqi leaders recognize the imperative of coming to grips with the tough decisions they've got to make for there to be progress in the political arena," said a senior Army officer who has served in Iraq. He asked that his name not be used because he did not want to publicly disagree with the stated policy of the president.
Former Pentagon official Kurt Campbell said more officers are calling for deadlines after concluding that the indefinite presence of U.S. forces enables the Shiite-run Iraqi government to avoid making compromises.
"There is a new belief that the biggest problem that we face is that our forces are the sand in the gears creating problems," said Campbell, coauthor of a book on national security policy. "We are making things worse by giving the Iraqis a false sense of security at the governing level."
For months, the Bush administration has been politely prodding the Iraqis on political and security reforms including the sharing of oil revenue, a crackdown on Shiite militias and constitutional changes. The discussions so far have yielded little, prompting experts to question whether the Iraqi government will ever compromise if there is no penalty for failing to make hard choices.
Over the last week, Bush administration officials have spoken about possible timetables for progress in Iraq, but softened their suggestions after talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
Although top administration officials are still steering clear of discussing the timing of American troop withdrawals, the officers' comments come alongside public statements by prominent Republicans who have begun talking about the need to establish a date that the U.S. will begin to draw down, whether or not the Iraqi government takes steps toward political compromise.
President Bush and other administration opponents of hard deadlines have argued that telegraphing troop departures would help the insurgents.
Once the U.S. sets a withdrawal date, the Sunni-led guerrillas know how long they must hang on before American troops are gone, the administration has argued.
Opponents of timetables also fear that small drawdowns will unleash public demand for more dramatic withdrawals, allowing violence fomented by Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to erode whatever political advances have been made.
Military officials generally have agreed with the civilian leadership that a deadline would strengthen insurgent and militia groups. But the failure of the Iraqi government to move forward on key political and security measures has left senior military leaders frustrated.
Although U.S. military leaders remain wary of the consequences of imposing deadlines, increasingly officers say they are starting to look more attractive. The shift in opinion is a sign that gridlock in the Iraqi government is seen as a greater threat to achieving stability in Iraq than the insurgency itself.
John Batiste, a retired major general who commanded a division in Iraq and has been critical of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, said that setting a date for a drawdown of combat brigades must be considered. Before the deadline, Batiste said, the U.S. also needs to step up its effort to advise and train the Iraqi military and police.
"Holding the Iraqi government accountable is important, and that has everything to do with setting expectations and timelines," Batiste said. "It also has everything to do with doing all we can to ensure they are capable completing the task they are trying to do."
Some officers who have served in Iraq believe that much of the Iraqi government is not functioning effectively. Finding ways to force the sectarian factions to put aside their differences and focus on improving security and basic services must be the top priority in Iraq, these officers say. Without government reform, the Iraqi security forces are unlikely to ever be strong enough to take on the insurgency or the sectarian militias.
"It's basic counterinsurgency," said a military officer who has served in Baghdad and did not want to publicly disagree with the president's stated policy. "You have to have a trusted, capable government."
Some in the military argue that publicizing a timetable for reducing forces is far less damaging to a counterinsurgency campaign than the administration has suggested.
Many officers, particularly those who adhere to the military philosophy of former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a retired Army general who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believe that deadlines are necessary to avoid getting mired in an endless war fueled by enmity between Iraq's long-subjugated Shiite population and the Sunni Arabs who ran the government under Saddam Hussein.
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It is illegal for one country to invade another
by Linda McQuaig
October 30, 2006
Much has changed in the way the mainstream media deal with the war in Iraq. Most commentators now acknowledge the war is a disaster and will hurt the Republicans badly in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections.
But one thing hasn't changed - the willingness to believe that the motives for war, however misguided, were basically honourable.
So the criticism centres instead on the Bush administration's inept handling of the war. Canada's own Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal leadership front-runner, tries to slough off his former enthusiastic support for the war by now saying he hadn't "anticipated how incompetent the Americans would be."
But incompetence is a side issue. The real problem is, and always has been, that it is illegal - not to mention immoral - for a country to invade another country, in other words, to wage a war of aggression.
The fact that Iraq is the last unharvested oil bonanza on earth, in an era of increasingly fierce global competition for dwindling oil reserves, only makes U.S. motives all the more suspect.
As the Nuremberg Tribunal concluded after World War II: "War is essentially an evil thing ... To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
If the U.S. had a genuinely open media, there would be a ferocious debate raging about how to deal with the fact that Washington initiated a war of aggression that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands - possibly hundreds of thousands - of Iraqis, and almost 3,000 Americans.
U.S. troops should be removed now.
As former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern argued in Harper's, the withdrawal should be accompanied by a payment of about $17 billion to compensate the Iraqi people for the immense suffering caused by the invasion. McGovern sets out in detail how the money should be allocated. He calculates that a U.S. pullout, even with a $17 billion payment, would save the U.S. $200 billion over the next two years, and help restore America's reputation.
This should please everyone except those - like Dick Cheney's old firm Halliburton - who have profited handsomely from war and "reconstruction." Halliburton's energy services revenues were up 31 per cent in the most recent quarter. "Iraq was better than expected," Jeff Tillery, an energy analyst, was quoted in an Associated Press story last week.
The Bush administration won't pull out of Iraq because it doesn't want to abandon the 14 permanent U.S. military bases it's building there - or the oil.
The Iraqi government is under pressure to pass a new law to open up Iraq's vast oil reserves to foreign investment and ownership.
None of this is mentioned in the media's endless commentary on the war. What would wildly lucrative profits for Big Oil have to do with the U.S. involvement in Iraq?
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Blair faces Commons defeat on Iraq inquiry
Deborah Summers and agencies
Tuesday October 31, 2006
Tony Blair faces a possible defeat today as he tries to face down calls for an inquiry into the handling of the Iraq war.
MPs are to debate a motion tabled by Scottish and Welsh nationalists that demands an immediate investigation of the war by a committee of senior MPs.
The Tories want any inquiry to take place once control of the country is handed back to Iraqi authorities. But the shadow foreign secretary indicated today that if their preferred option is not accepted, they will join the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and Labour rebels in backing the calls for an immediate inquiry.
With the SNP predicting a rebellion of around 30 anti-war Labour MPs, Tory support could be enough to overturn Mr Blair's majority of 62.
Downing Street remains steadfast in its refusal to hold an inquiry while British soldiers are still on the ground. The prime minister's official spokesman said that it would undermine British troops and send a signal of weakness to militants.
Today's motion will provide the opportunity for the first full debate on Iraq on the floor of the Commons since the invasion in 2003, when the Conservatives voted with the government in support of war.
The Conservative amendment calls for an inquiry along the lines of the Franks report into the Falklands war, once control in Iraq is handed back to Iraqis.
Such an inquiry would be the responsibility of an inquiry committee of independent privy counsellors, mostly drawn from outside the Commons. The nationalists' proposal, on the other hand, would see the issue considered by a select committee of seven senior MPs who are members of the Privy Council.
The Privy Council is principally made up of all present and former cabinet ministers, some present and former junior ministers, and the present and former leaders of the opposition parties.
The shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, said: "After the Falklands war we had the Franks inquiry and it will be a great pity if the government are dogmatically setting their face against a proper inquiry into what has gone right or wrong in Iraq.
"We are not asking for such an inquiry to be established immediately, only a commitment that one will be established eventually, before this time next year.
"A responsible government should want all possible lessons to be learned from the efforts to bring order and reconstruction to Iraq and should not be afraid of giving these issues the most searching examination."
Mr Blair's spokesman yesterday declined to answer questions on whether the prime minister would be prepared to countenance an inquiry once troops had quit the country.
"We have troops who are operating in the field of combat," said the spokesman. "We have an enemy who is looking for any sign of weakness at all, any sign of a loss of resolution or determination to see this job through.
"The important thing is that we do not give any signal that we are anything less than fully determined to see the job through."
Mr Hague dismissed those concerns today.
"It shows that we are a society that is able to learn and that's the great strength of our democracy," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"Debates took place in the House of Commons about military events at the height of the first and second world wars. People didn't say: 'We mustn't ever debate these things because it might encourage the Germans.'"
Mr Hague said: "We are prepared, within the limitations of House of Commons procedures, to vote for something that would put pressure on the government.
"The practical effect, if the motion were to be carried later today, is that the government would have to come back to the House of Commons with their own proposals for an inquiry at the appropriate time, and we would back them in doing so.
"So we would vote that way to exert the necessary degree of pressure on the government."
But Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, suggested this morning that ministers would not vote for any inquiry, insisting that there had been enough already.
"I don't accept the conclusion of the motion that there should be a further inquiry," Ms Jowell told BBC Breakfast.
"There have been at least three rigorous and independent inquiries into the circumstances that led to the invasion of Iraq and I think that job was properly done at the time.
"What we have to focus on now is making the fledgling democracy in Iraq work and that's the purpose of our troops continuing to be there."
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DPRK: U.S. commits 200 cases of aerial espionage in Oct
www.chinaview.cn 2006-10-31 18:40:19
PYONGYANG, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- The United States committed more than 200 cases of aerial espionage against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in October, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday.
"Much scared by the successful nuclear test for self-defense conducted by the DPRK," the U.S. mobilized 15 strategic and tactical reconnaissance planes, including WC-135W, a plane for detecting nuclear tests, to commit aerial espionage against all areas of the DPRK, the report quoted a military source as saying.
The U.S. U-2s conducted shuttle flights over Tokjok Islet, Phochon and Sokcho almost every day in the month to commit espionage against important military targets in the DPRK, it said.
The DPRK said the U.S. flew more than 170 spy missions against it in September.
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Navies of 6 states to exercise in Persian Gulf against nuclear shipments
Last update - 04:58 28/10/2006
By The Associated Press
Ships from the United States and five other countries will interdict a British vessel in the Persian Gulf on Monday in a mock interception of dangerous weapons technology, an exercise the U.S. expects nearby Iran to notice.
For the first time, an Arab nation, Bahrain, will participate in an exercise under the three-year-old proliferation security initiative. That U.S. program is aimed at getting countries to cooperate in halting shipments of materials that can be used for advanced weapons.
France, Italy, Britain and Australia also will participate in Monday's exercise, the 25th held under the initiative and the first held in the Persian Gulf.
The practice interception comes as the United States is seeking support for UN sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. On Friday, Iran stepped up its uranium enrichment program, according to a semiofficial news agency.
"From Iranian news reports we know the exercise got the attention of Iran," Robert Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said Friday.
The exercise also comes as the United States is urging northeast Asian countries for strict enforcement of UN sanctions against North Korea, which detonated a nuclear explosion October 9. Those sanctions ban Pyongyang's weapons trade and suggest that North Korean ships be searched for suspected illegal materials.
The Bush administration and the several dozen countries who support the proliferation initiative say stopping ships in international waters on suspicion they are carrying illicit traffic is legal, but there is some uncertainty about whether the suspect cargo can be seized.
In any event, conducting an exercise within range of Iran could be taken by Tehran as a demonstration of international resolve to curb its nuclear programs.
Bahrain will provide a frigate for the exercise, while Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, three other Arab countries, also will offer a measure of support as observers. Other observers include Russia, Japan and South Korea. Saudi Arabia, the largest of the Gulf countries, has not joined them.
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Iran urges foreign troops not to damage Gulf peace
www.chinaview.cn 2006-10-31 04:45:32
TEHRAN, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- Iran on Monday urged foreign military forces not to damage Gulf peace as U.S.-led naval maneuvers were being held in the region, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham made the remarks when asked at a weekly press briefing to comment upon the military maneuvers by the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Australia and Bahrain in the Gulf, said IRNA.
"I would like to advise foreign military forces who are to stage a war game in the Persian Gulf waters to avoid damaging regional peace and friendship among countries of the region," Elham told the reporters.
On Sunday, the U.S. navy said that vessels from the six countries began a naval training exercise off the Iranian coast in the Gulf aimed at blocking smuggling of nuclear weapons and arms proliferation.
The maneuvers are being held under the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush in May, 2003. Bahrain's participation marks the first time a Gulf nation joins a PSI exercise.
Elham stressed that Iran and other Gulf littoral states are fully aware of the fact that durable peace and security would be restored through collective cooperation of all countries of the region.
Iran was not bothered about the military maneuvers because the country "is powerful in all fields", he said.
The spokesman stressed that "the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept threats. Iran is a strong and powerful state and will not take maneuvers as a threat."
Also on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted by the local Fars News Agency as saying that Tehran has informed the Gulf littoral states that staging military maneuvers under the present sensitive conditions is "provocative".
"We have informed the regional countries that carrying out military maneuvers based on special arrangements and in pursuit of certain political objectives could be very provocative," Mottaki said.
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Mexican police defend city centre against protesters
Jo Tuckman in Oaxaca
Tuesday October 31, 2006
Federal riot police occupying the grand colonial plaza at the centre of the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca defended their position yesterday against angry leftwing protesters they had pushed out fewer than 24 hours earlier.
Thousands of protesters converged on the narrow stone-paved streets leading into the square which were blocked off by walls of police behind their shields, as well as water cannon and bulldozers. Heavily armed officers lurked behind the front lines and helicopters roared overhead.
Some in the crowds urged the officers to break ranks and join them, while others hurled insults which on occasion riled some within the ranks standing for hours in riot gear under a burning sun. Sporadic assaults with petrol bombs were replied to with tear gas and water cannon. Plumes of smoke rose from barricades of burning debris.
Most protesters admitted that they could not win a physical battle, but hoped their resistance to the police occupation would pressure the federal government into forcing the governor of Oaxaca state out of officea their main demand.
A loose alliance called the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (Appo) seeking to oust the governor, Ulises Ruiz, had controlled the square and much of the city for months. The movement has its roots in a teachers' pay dispute which began in May, but was radicalised in June after a botched attempt by Mr Ruiz to evict protesters, who regard him as the epitome of political corruption and authoritarianism.
Despite losing control of the city centre, Appo supporters insisted they would not give up. "We lost a battle yesterday, but we didn't lose the war," said Berta Ramirez as she set off on one of three marches from different points of the city towards the square.
The protesters' numbers swelled as they approached, and the tension grew, with helicopters flying low overhead.
The marchers said the strategy was to lay siege to the police in the square. They hoped to be supported by villagers coming down from the surrounding mountains to back their cause. "They [the police] are an invasion. We're going to recover our territory," said Luis González, a teacher. "We have the support of the people."
Not everybody agreed. As yesterday morning broke, some residents emerged to celebrate the removal of the Appo. "Oaxaca is free and we are very happy," said Felipa Ruiz, a housewife, as she stood in a small group holding up handwritten banners thanking the police.
Sunday's eviction operation involved thousands of riot police who moved into the centre with the help of their heavy equipment and helicopters circling above - spraying tear gas to repel resistance.
Some protesters responded by burning buses and throwing stones and petrol bombs. But most limited their resistance to chanting and singing the Mexican national anthem as they were pushed back by the military-style advance.
Once at the entrance to the square, a tense standoff ensued as night fell. The Appo leaders then suddenly decided to pull out and retreat to the grounds of the university, where police have been prohibited from going.
Laying their shields and helmets to one side, the police spent the night sleeping on the pavement under the colonial arcades which ring the square, wrapped in revolutionary banners they torn down to stay warm.
President Vicente Fox ordered the assault after violent protests worsened last Friday, with the deaths of two protesters and a US activist journalist.
The protesters say 16 people have died on their side in total, killed by paramilitary groups ordered in by Governor Ruiz. They say two people died in Sunday's operation. This has not been confirmed.
President Fox said the operation had restored "social peace" in Oaxaca.
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Pinochet 'arrested' in Chile
Tuesday 31 October 2006
Augusto Pinochet, former Chilean dictator, has been put under house arrest for crimes including torture, murder and kidnapping in the years that followed his 1973 coup, a judge has said.
The charges against Pinochet involve rights abuses at Villa Grimaldi, an infamous detention centre run by the regime's secret police where thousands of people were tortured between 1974 and 1977, including Michelle Bachelet, Chile's current president.
"Augusto Pinochet ... has been arrested as a danger to society given the grave charges against him. But due to his age, he is 90, he has been granted house arrest," said judge Alejandro Solis, who ordered the detention on Monday.
Bachelet, Chile's first woman president, is not involved in this rights case.
Some 3,000 people were killed and another 28,000 were tortured during Chile's 1973-1990 dictatorship.
Pinochet has been arrested five times on rights abuses since 1998 and has also faced tax fraud charges, but was released in all cases on grounds of poor health or because bail was granted.
Monday was the first time Pinochet was arrested for charges related to torture, so that actual victims of Villa Grimaldi, at the eastern edge of the capital, could testify against him.
The case shows prosecutors are strengthening the cases against the former dictator.
"So in a sense this arrest is a milestone," said Sebastian Brett, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Santiago.
Villa Grimaldi was one of the main holding places for political prisoners in the early years of Pinochet's 17-year rule.
Courts have convicted 109 people for crimes including "disappearances", extrajudicial executions, and torture during the dictatorship.
Thirty-five former generals in the army, police, and air force have been convicted or are facing trial, according to Human Rights Watch.
Pinochet turns 91 on November 25. He spent his last birthday under arrest for other human rights charges against him.
Comment: Pinochet is clearly no longer a danger to society, yet he certainly was for the 17 years of his reign, with up to 30,000 people paying the ultimate price for his psychopathic nature. Of course, Pinochet would never have had the opportunity to terrorise Chilean society for so long if the US government of the day, under the orders of Henry Kissinger, had not financed the coup that placed him in power. See here for more.
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Swelling the ranks Canadian style
Tuesday October 31, 2006
Forget the push-ups. Potential recruits no longer need to pass a fitness test to get into the Canadian military.
The news, posted on the Canadian forces' website, means that men under 35 won't have to do 19 push-ups and 19 sit-ups before they are accepted into the military and women under 35 won't have to do nine push-ups and 15 sit-ups.
The fitness test, never exactly Olympian, also included running 1.5 miles and squeezing hand grips. Dropping it may make it easier for the military to recruit the people it desperately needs now that it is stretched so thin with the deployment of more than 2,200 troops in Afghanistan.
The US has also relaxed its standards, increasing its enlistment age limit from 35 to 42.
In Canada, older recruits have long been welcome, but for those over 35 the test was even less stringent than for the under-35s: 14 push-ups and 17 sit-ups for men, seven push-ups and 12 sit-ups for women. It too has been dropped.Would-be military men and women still have to pass a medical exam, and those deemed not to be in "acceptable" physical shape will be turned over to trainers.
"If you're 450lbs, they will recruit you and then put you in a fat camp until you are ready," Scott Taylor, the editor of Esprit de Corps, a magazine covering Canadian military affairs, told the Globe and Mail.
The newspaper ran a satirical poem at the weekend entitled the Battle of the Bulge.
"Who cares how many pounds you jerk? Our smart bombs do the heavy work. So sign up fast, you blobs and runts. And we'll soon turn you into grunts."
Other options are also being considered to find the people needed for the mission in Afghanistan.
General Rick Hillier, the chief of the defence staff, said this week that navy personnel may be called in. The sailors could drive supply trucks. Radio operators or intelligence officers from the navy or air force also might find themselves in Afghanistan, he said.
The military may also oblige new recruits to serve two years as infantry before they can move into more specialised roles, he said.
"We're looking at how we can share the burden completely across the Canadian forces so that no one man or woman has to carry an inordinate amount on their shoulders," he told a House of Commons committee.
An aggressive recruiting campaign has attracted about 20,000 recruits over the past four years. But the military is barely keeping up with attrition, the auditor general noted earlier this year, and the new Conservative government has promised to boost the number in the regular forces by 13,000.
Gen Hillier said last week that the recruiting drive couldn't be going better, despite 40 combat deaths in Afghanistan.
"Kids are flocking to our recruiting centres across our country," he said. "Twice the number so far this year as during the same time last year."
And now they won't have to do push-ups to get in.
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Witch must refund fee for failed spell
Oct. 31, 2006. 08:49 AM
MUNICH, Germany (AP) - A German court has ordered a self-proclaimed witch to refund a disappointed client her hefty fee for a spell that failed to win back the woman's partner.
The Munich administrative court said Monday it ruled that the witch must pay back the equivalent of $1,400 (Canadian) on the grounds she offered a service that was "objectively completely impossible."
After the client's boyfriend left her in 2003, she consulted the witch on a spell that would bring him back.
"The defendant carried out the corresponding ritual over several months, each time under a full moon, but without success," a court statement said.
It said the witch denied the client's claim that she had guaranteed success. However, the court ruled that was irrelevant because "a love ritual is not suited to influencing a person from a distance."
Neither woman's identity was released.
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The Dollar's Full-System Meltdown
By Mike Whitney
10/30/06 "Information Clearing House"
The U.S. Dollar is kaput. Confidence in the currency is eroding by the day.
A report in The Sydney Morning Herald stated, "Australia's Treasurer Peter Costello has called on East Asia's central bankers to 'telegraph' their intentions to diversify out of American investments and ensure an 'orderly adjustment'....Central banks in China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong have channeled immense foreign reserves into American government bonds, helping to prop up the US dollar and hold down interest rates,' said Costello, but 'the strategy has changed.'"
Indeed, the strategy has changed. The world has come to its senses and is moving away from the green slip of paper that is currently mired in $8.3 trillion of debt.
The central banks now want to reduce their USD reserves while trying to do as little damage to their own economies as possible. That'll be difficult. If a sell-off ensues, it will start a stampede for the exits.
There's little hope of an "orderly adjustment" as Costello opines; that's just false optimism. When the greenback begins listing; things will turn helter-skelter quickly.
In September, we saw early signs that the dollar was in trouble. The trade deficit registered at $70 billion but the Net Foreign Security Purchases (NFSP) came in at a paltry $33 billion. That means that our main trading partners are no longer buying back our debt which puts downward pressure on the greenback. The Fed had two choices; either raise interest rates substantially or let the currency fall. Given the tenuous condition of the housing bubble and the proximity of the midterm elections, the Fed did neither.
A month later, in October, the trade deficit hit $69.9 billion but, then, without warning, a miracle occurred. The Net Foreign Security Purchases skyrocketed to a "historic high" of $116.8 billion; covering both months' shortfalls almost to the penny.
Not likely. Either the skittish central banks decided to "stock up" on their dollar-denominated investments or the Federal Reserve (and their banking-buddies) is buying back its own debt to float us through the elections.
This is exactly the kind of hanky-panky that people expected when Greenspan stopped publishing the M-3 last March keeping the rest of us in the dark about what was really going on with the money supply.
Are we supposed to believe that the skeptical central banks suddenly doubled up on their T-Bills while they're (publicly) moaning about the dollar's weakness and threatening to diversify?
That's a stretch.
According to the Wall Street Journal the Chinese Central-bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan stated unequivocally that "We think we've got enough." The Chinese presently have nearly $1 trillion in USD and US Treasuries.
The United States runs a $200 billion per year trade deficit with China. If they've "got enough" we're dead-ducks. After all, it doesn't take a sell-off to kill the dollar, just unwillingness on the part of the main players to stop purchasing at the same rate.
Of course, everyone in Washington already knew that doomsday was approaching. That's the way the system was designed from the very beginning. It's all part of the madcap scheme to "starve the beast" and transfer the nation's wealth to a handful of western plutocrats. That's explains why the Fed and the White House whirred along like two spokes on the same wheel; every policy calculated to thrust the country headlong toward disaster.
The administration never created a funding mechanism for the $400 million tax cuts or for the 35% expansion of the Federal government. Defense spending increased by leaps and bounds as did the "no-bid" contracts for friends of the Bush clan. At the same time, interest rates were lowered to rock-bottom to put as much money as possible into the hands of people who couldn't meet the traditional criteria for a mortgage. And, if gluttonous waste, reckless overspending and "Mickey Mouse" loans were not enough; the Fed capped it off by doubling the money supply in 7 years; a surefire prescription for hyper-inflation.
So, which one of these policies was not deliberate?
The financial crisis that we now face was created by design. It is intended to destroy the labor movement, crush the middle class, quash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, reduce our foreign debt by 50 or 60%, force a restructuring of America's debt, privatize all public assets and resources, and create a new regime of austerity measures which will divert more wealth to the banking and corporate establishments.
The avatars of neoliberalism invariably use crooked politicians to spawn enormous "unsustainable" debt so that the nations' riches can be transferred to ruling elites. It works the same everywhere. It's a form of corporate colonization, only this time the victim is the good old USA.
"The Phase of Impact"
According to Richard Daughty in his prescient article "The Phase of Impact" the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Dept have already manned the battle-stations. Here's an excerpt:
"Mr. Paulson, the Secretary of the Treasury, is, by virtue of his ascension to the throne, now the head of the shadowy President's Working Group of Financial Markets (which was created by Presidential Order 12631) and he is insisting that they meet more often, namely every 6 weeks!
This whole Working Group thing was originally set up as a fallback, ad-hoc, if-then defense to deal with possible economic emergencies, but now they are routinely meeting every 6 weeks. He has even ordered Jim Wilkinson, his chief of staff, to 'oversee the creation of a Treasury Command Center to track markets world-wide and serve as an operations base in a crisis"! (Wall Street Journal) World-wide!! The American government is moving to take control of the world-wide economy as the result of an anticipated crisis? Yikes!"
Daughty goes on to say: "So a lot of the hubbub is obviously being caused by some approaching upheaval, perhaps reflected in something sent to me by Phil S., which is the Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin No8 which reminded us that last May they predicted that the economy would have a 'phase of acceleration' that would begin in June, and it "would be spread out over a period of a maximum of 6 months', which it subsequently did. They said then, and are saying again now, that a 'phase of impact will begin in November 2006', and that this impact phase would be the 'explosive phase of the crisis'.
This 'phase of impact' that is due to begin momentarily is, they explain, 'a period when a series of brutal crises starts affecting by contamination the total system. This explosive phase of the crisis, which will last 6 months to one year, will affect directly and very strongly financial players and markets, the owners of investment schemes with fixed incomes in dollars, pension funds and the strategic relations between the United States on the one side, and Europe and Asia on the other." (Richard Daughty; "The Phase of Impact" Kitco.com)
Predictions, of course, are rarely reliable and Daughty's scenario may be a bit too apocalyptic for many. But if we accept the premise that the tax cuts, the expansion of the federal government, the doubling of the money supply, and the $10 trillion that was sluiced into the housing bubble were not merely "honest mistakes" made by "supply side" enthusiasts; then we must assume that this is all part of a loony plan to demolish the economic foundation-blocks of the current system and remake society from the ground up.
Domestically, that plan appears to involve the activation of the police state.
In the last few weeks the Bush administration has passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which allows the president to arrest and torture whomever he chooses without charging him with a crime. Also, unbeknownst to most Americans, Bush signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy, will allow the president to unilaterally declare martial law. By changing The Insurrection Act, Bush has essentially overturned the Posse Comitatus Act which bars the president from deploying troops with the United States. The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (as it is called) also allows Bush to take control of the National Guard which has always been under the purview of the state governors. Bush now has absolute power over all armed troops within the country, a state of affairs which the constitution purposely tried to prevent. The administration's dream of militarizing the country under the sole authority of the executive has now been achieved although the public still has no idea that a coup that has taken place.
Internationally, the falling dollar means that America's debt will be reduced proportionate to the percentage-loss of the dollar in relation to other currencies. This is a great deal for the U.S. First the Fed prints fiat money to buy valuable resources and manufactured goods and then it nabs a discount by depreciating its currency. It's a "win-win" situation for Washington, although it will undoubtedly cheat unwitting foreign-creditors out of their hard-earned profits. It's doubtful that their interests will weigh very heavily on the money-lenders at the US Treasury or the Federal Reserve.
The dollar faces a second crisis at home which is bound to play out throughout 2007. The $10 trillion dollar housing bubble is quickly losing air causing a precipitous drop in GDP. The housing industry is seeing its steepest decline in 30 years and home equity is beginning to shrivel. Housing has been the one bright spot in an otherwise bleak economic landscape. With the housing market slowing down and prices decreasing, the $600 billion of consumer spending which was extracted in 2005 from home equity will quickly evaporate triggering an overall slowdown in the economy. (Consumer spending is 70% of GDP)
By the Fed's own calculations; "The total amount of residential housing wealth in the US just about doubled between 1999 and 2006 up from $10.4 trillion to $20.4 trillion. ("Times Online") If these figures are accurate than we can assume that much of America's "perceived" growth has been nothing more than the expansion of debt. In fact, that seems to be the case. Wages have been stagnant since the 1970s, 3 million manufacturing jobs have been outsourced, savings have shrunk to below 0%, and personal debt is soaring. We have become an "asset-based" society and when the principle asset begins to loose its value, we are in deep trouble. As housing prices continue to decline through 2007 we can expect a full-blown recession. If energy prices rear their ugly head again, (were they lowered for the elections?) it will just be that much worse.
So, how will recession affect the dollar?
Capital has no loyalties. It follows the markets. When America's bustling consumer market stalls, we'll undergo capital flight just like everywhere else. The 3 million lost manufacturing jobs, the 200,000 lost high-paying high-tech jobs, the tax incentives for major corporations doing business outside the country; all signal that corporate America has already loaded the boats and is headed for more promising markets in Asia and Europe. A sluggish consumer market could further weaken the dollar and force Americans to begin saving again but, (and here's the surprising part) the decision-makers at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Dept don't really care if the face-value of the greenback goes down anyway.
What really matters is that the dollar retains its position as the world's reserve currency. That allows the Federal Reserve to continue to print the money, set the interest rates, and control the global economic system. The dollar presently accounts for 66% of foreign currency reserves in central banks across the globe, an increase of nearly 10% in one decade alone. The dollar has become the international currency, a de-facto monopoly. This is the goal of the globalists and the American ruling elite who dream of one system, the dollar-system; with us running it.
So, how will this cadre of plutocrats coerce the other nations to continue to use the dollar while it plummets from its perch?
As long as oil is denominated in dollars, the central banks will be forced to stockpile American scrip regardless of its value. It's no different than holding a gun to someone's head. They will use our debt-plagued greenbacks or their cars and trucks will sputter, their tractors and factories will wheeze, and their economies will grind to a halt. It's just that simple.
America cannot maintain its superpower status unless it continues to control the global economic system. That means the linkage between the dollar and oil must be preserved. The Bush troupe sees this as an existential issue upon which the future of America's ruling class depends. By 2020, 60% of the world's oil will come from the Middle East. Bush will do everything in his power to control the resources of the Caspian Basin, thereby expanding US dollar-hegemony and paving the way for a new American century
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Yuan hits new high against weak U.S. dollar
www.chinaview.cn 2006-10-30 07:43:32
BEIJING, Oct. 30 -- The yuan hit a new post-revaluation high against the US dollar last week in the global markets.
The Chinese currency closed at 7.8896 against the US dollar on Friday, breaking the psychologically important level of 7.8900 for the first time since China appreciated the yuan 2.1 percent and depegged it from the greenback in July 2005.
Traders said the yuan's strength was in line with a weaker U.S. dollar against other major currencies in the global markets.
The U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates stable and made no changes to its outlook for a more moderate growth and inflation in a policy meeting last week. It triggered expectations the Fed will put US rates on hold in the near future, dampening the currency's luster.
China will gradually allow the market to play a greater role in setting exchange rates, Wu Xiaoling, vice governor of the People's Bank of China said on Tuesday.
China now allows a daily 0.3 percent trading fluctuation on its yuan.
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U.N. proposes changes to Net's operation
By Declan McCullagh
October 30, 2006
ATHENS, Greece -- A top United Nations official on Monday called for changes in the way the Internet is operated, taking aim at "self-serving justifications" for permitting the United States to preserve its unique influence and authority online.
Speaking during opening ceremonies at a four-day U.N. summit here, Yoshio Utsumi criticized the current rules for overseeing domain names and Internet addresses, stressing that poorer nations are dissatisfied and are hoping that this week's meeting will erode U.S. influence.
"Many of them are tired of hearing 'You just don't understand,'" said Utsumi, a lawyer and former government official who is the secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, a U.N. agency. "Many do understand."
He added: "No matter what technical experts argue is the best system, no matter what self-serving justifications are made that this is the only possible way to do things, there are no systems or technologies that can eternally claim they are the best."
Human rights groups, however, have warned that many of the nations most critical of the current arrangement--Tunisia, Cuba, Iran, China--rank among the world's most repressive. The worry: If those governments have their way, the current, virtually limitless amount of free expression on the Internet may come to an end.
The Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders last week called those reform proposals alarming and asked: "Do we really want the countries that censor the Internet and jail cyberdissidents to be in charge of the online flow of information?" (The group also noted that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights counted, as members, nations such as Libya and Sudan, no champions of human rights themselves.)
Similarly, Amnesty International has sent a delegation here to the Internet Governance Forum to emphasize the need for protecting free speech. "The Internet Governance Forum needs to know that the online community is bothered about free expression online and willing to stand up for it," said Steve Ballinger, part of Amnesty's delegation.
Since 1998, domain names and Internet addresses have been overseen by the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce. The U.S. government has occasionally used that unique relationship to its advantage, for instance when the Bush administration objected to a .xxx adult domain--an objection that ended with ICANN abruptly reversing itself and rejecting the domain suffix.
Recent changes (click here for PDF) to the Commerce Department-ICANN relationship haven't been enough to quiet anti-U.S. rumblings at the Athens summit.
The prime minister of Greece, Konstantínos Karamanlís, took a swipe at the U.S. during his opening speech, saying attendees should work to "enhance democracy in the Internet itself." Nitin Desai, an adviser for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, called this week's event a "harbinger of a new type of multilateralism."
The only speaker on Monday who dwelled on free expression for more than a moment was Viviane Reding, the European Commission's Commissioner for Information Society and Media.
"Freedom, ladies and gentlemen, is sometimes seen as a threat to those who do not value human rights or want to impose their vision of the world or their religious belief" on others, Reding said. She urged the attendees to preserve the Internet as an "open and censorship-free zone."
The official purpose of the Internet Governance Forum, which was created at a similar U.N. event last year in Tunisia and is scheduled to convene annually for five years, is to discuss everything from domain names to spam and security. But many critics of the United States hope that the forum will contain the seeds to an organization to supplant ICANN, perhaps organized under the auspices of the United Nations.
Even though the U.S. has the most sophisticated Internet infrastructure, last year's meeting was held in Tunisia and this year's in Greece. Not one meeting is scheduled to be held in North America, though Brazil, India, and Egypt have announced their plans to host future ones. In addition, no U.S. government representative spoke during opening ceremonies.
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FAO:"virtually no progress" in halving number of hungry
www.chinaview.cn 2006-10-30 00:11:04
ROME, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- "Virtually no progress" has been made in alleviating hunger since world leaders pledged to halve the number of underfed people 10 years ago, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report issued on Monday.
The World Food Summit (WFS), held in Rome in 1996, set the target of halving world hunger by 2015 relative to 1990-1992. But the FAO's latest figures in 2001-2003 showed that there were still 854 million underfed people.
"Ten years later, we are confronted with the sad reality that virtually no progress has been made towards that objective," FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in the UN agency's annual report on "food insecurity."
The drop from 823 million to 820 million undernourished people in developing countries is so tiny that it is "within the bounds of statistical error," he said in the report.
According to the report's latest figures, the 1990s was a bleak period for reducing hunger despite greater wealth in the world.
"The most recent trends are a cause for concern," the report said, noting that 26 million more people were malnourished between 1995-97 and 2001-03, whereas the 1980s had seen a decrease of 100 million," said Diouf.
"The world is richer today than it was 10 years ago. There is more food available. ... What is lacking is sufficient political will to mobilize ... resources to the benefit of the hungry," he added.
Nevertheless, Diouf said, despite the lack of progress toward the food summit goal halfway to the 2015 deadline, the target could still be met with efforts to improve agriculture in the developing world.
"Is the 2015 WFS target still attainable? The answer should be a resounding 'yes'," he said.
The report listed a number of steps needed to eradicate hunger in the coming years:
-- Focusing programs and investments on "hotspots" of poverty and undernourishment;
-- Enhancing the productivity of smallholder agriculture;
-- Creating suitable conditions for private investment, including transparency and good governance;
-- Making world trade work for the poor, with safety nets put in place for vulnerable groups; and
-- Rapidly increasing the level of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7 percent of GDP, as promised.
"We must dramatically step up our efforts to reach the WFS hunger reduction target. If the political will is there we can reach it," the report concluded.
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'Meteor' caused mystery explosion
A chief scientist claims a loud bang on the north Cornwall and Devon border was caused by a large meteor exploding.
David Carcary from the West Cornwall Astronomical Society said a meteor had created the sonic boom before burning up after it entered the atmosphere.
He said the lack of any seismological signals indicates it burned up before it hit the ground.
Residents in the Bude and Holsworthy areas had reported hearing a loud bang around midday on Thursday.
One resident in Bude said a crack in her kitchen had widened as a result, while others reported experiencing their properties "shaking".
I'm fairly convinced it was a meteor but the only way to prove it would be to have an audio recording
A BBC Radio Cornwall listener said: "The stables physically shook. It sounded like Concorde used to sound when it broke the sonic barrier. But much louder. It went 'boom, boom'."
Checks carried out by Western Power and the British Geological Survey in the area were inconclusive and the Ministry of Defence, the RAF and the Civil Aviation Authority said there were no records of their aircraft flying over the area.
Mr Carcary believes a similar explosion which shook the south of New Zealand in September was caused by a meteor.
"As soon as I heard the news of the bang, that was the most obvious explanation to me.
"There wasn't any seismic evidence so it burnt out before it hit the ground - luckily for the people of Bude - and if it was an aircraft, I would have expected someone to have seen it.
"I'm fairly convinced it was a meteor but the only way to prove it would be to have an audio recording of the boom."
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Melting Of Greenland's Ice Sheet 'Is The Turning Point'
By Michael McCarthy
31 October 2006
The world's target for stopping global warming should be based on the point at which the melting of the great Greenland ice sheet becomes irreversible, says the Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King.
The loss of Greenland's ice would be a global catastrophe, raising sea levels by more than 20ft, swamping vast regions of low-lying land from East Anglia to Bangladesh.
The international community must limit the atmospheric level of the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (C02), to below the point where the Greenland ice begins to melt in a runaway manner, Sir David said. This figure is not yet precisely known - but much scientific effort is being expended on finding it out.
Sir David is one of the world's most influential voices on climate change and his suggestion may provide a basis for eventual agreement on one of climate change's thorniest questions: exactly where must the rise in atmospheric C02 - which has gone from 315 parts per million in 1958 to 382ppm today - be halted?
The world community now agrees that the waste gas from motor vehicles and power stations is causing the atmosphere to warm rapidly. But it cannot agree on a precise figure which should be the absolute limit allowable to prevent global disaster.
Some commentators have suggested the C02 level must be halted at 400ppm - but that is now likely to be reached within 10 years and seems impossible to achieve in practice. Sir David has previously suggested 550ppm as "realistic" - but drew criticism for not being more ambitious.
His new suggestion, however, takes a different approach, pinpointing an undeniable disaster level and making that the target - whatever it turns out to be.
Greenland's "tipping point" is not yet known in terms of atmospheric C02 levels, although in terms of temperature it is assumed to be somewhere beyond a global rise of 3C above the level pertaining before the industrial revolution. (Global temperatures currently stand at about 0.7C above pre-industrial, and are steadily climbing). Scientists are seeking it with supercomputer mathematical models of the climate and of the ice mass.
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Hurricane Created Rare 'Trapped Wave'
By Andrea Thompson
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 30 October 2006
07:28 am ET
A rare phenomenon that ramped up storm surge in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Dennis last year has been identified, and researchers say the same enhancement could bring large surges during future hurricanes following similar paths.
Storm surges are caused by wind pushing water toward the shore and piling it up.
When Dennis made landfall on July 10 as a Category 3 hurricane along the western end of the Florida panhandle, 10-foot storm surges battered the coastline. That was about 3 to 4 feet more than had been predicted or could be explained by the local winds normally behind the surge.
Researchers at Florida State University and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have found that the answer to the mystery lay in a number of factors, including the hurricane's speed and path, influencing a phenomenon called a "trapped wave."
In the Northern Hemisphere, hurricane winds always rotate counterclockwise as seen from above. Earth's rotation pushes ocean water to the right, in the direction of the storm's winds, creating a slight build-up on that side. If the hurricane travels parallel to a coastline on its right side, its winds will force the ocean water against the coast, "creating a bulge of high sea level," explained Steven Morey, a Florida State University oceanographer. This bulge will travel along the coast, forming what is known as a constantly trapped wave.
This was what happened during Dennis: The storm ran alongside the western coast of Florida, allowing the trapped wave to form [ graphic ].
And "because Dennis traveled nearly parallel to the Florida Peninsula coast at the same speed as the wave, winds from Dennis amplified the wave" as it traveled northward, Morey said.
Though trapped waves are common and have been understood for years, "this is the first time it's made a difference in the hurricane storm surge," Morey said.
Storm surge forms in just a few hours as a hurricane approaches land, when its winds directly drive the water onshore. A trapped wave takes at least a day or longer to form.
Dennis was a special case that combined these two phenomena because the hurricane was barreling towards the northern Gulf Coast, with the Florida coast on its right. Timing, however, was the crucial element, because the hurricane brushed the shore just as the trapped wave arrived, amplifying the normal storm surge.
"They just added together," Morey said.
This type of trapped wave could play a part in future storms that travel a path similar to Dennis's or along the Louisiana coastline heading towards Texas. National Hurricane Center forecasters plan to factor this phenomenon into their forecasting models so they can better predict storm surge levels.
The research was reported earlier this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters .
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France prepares new anti-riot law
French PM Dominique de Villepin has pledged to toughen anti-vandalism laws after a woman was severely burnt in an arson attack on a bus in Marseille.
Existing laws would be broadened to punish all those who are "involved in and encourage" such attacks, not just the perpetrators, Mr de Villepin said.
The Marseille attack left a 26-year-old woman with burns to most of her body.
France has seen a recent rise in such attacks, a year after a wave of rioting rocked its impoverished suburbs.
Gangs of youths, many of them of immigrant descent, torched cars and clashed with police during three weeks of unrest last year.
Earlier on Monday, the French government held an emergency meeting on transport security.
Mr de Villepin appealed for witnesses to the Marseille attack and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said the perpetrators would be tracked down and punished. About 200 extra police were deployed in the city.
A group of teenagers reportedly forced open the doors of the bus vehicle and threw a flammable liquid inside before fleeing.
A 26-year-old French woman of Senegalese origin was unable to escape and suffered burns to 70% of her body.
About 200 vehicles were set alight in incidents around the country on Saturday, and nearly 50 people were arrested.
French news agency AFP said youths in Grenoble threw a stone from a bridge onto a tram, smashing the window and injuring the driver.
Last year's riots were sparked by the deaths of two teenagers in a suburb of Paris. There is dispute over whether they were chased by police before they were electrocuted while hiding in an electricity sub-station.
During the violence last year, more than 10,000 cars were set ablaze and 300 buildings firebombed.
Community leaders in run-down French suburbs have warned that the factors which played a key part in the riots - high unemployment, racial discrimination and alienation from mainstream society - remain unchanged.
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Film fans faint at Saw III show
The Halloween horror hit Saw III was released on Friday in the UK
Staff at a UK cinema have had to call emergency services three times in one night because of a spate of people passing out during horror film Saw III.
One woman was taken to hospital and two other adults had to be treated by medics after they fainted in Stevenage.
And in a separate case, a man collapsed at a cinema in Peterborough "due to the film's content".
"If you know you're squeamish, don't go," warned a spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service.
"This is obviously a blood-thirsty film. Some of the scenes are fairly horrific," Matthew Ware told the BBC News website.
All the incidents took place on Friday evening, one of the busiest nights of the week for emergency crews, he added.
"Taking three ambulances out of the system on a Friday could potentially be a problem", said Mr Ware.
A woman in her twenties was discharged from the Lister Hospital in Stevenage after being treated.
And the two other cinemagoers - who had been at the town's Cineworld complex - were left "in the care of friends and relatives" without needing to be taken to hospital.
A man aged 34 fainted at the Showcase in Peterborough, Mr Ware said.
There was also a case of a 22-year-old woman passing out at Cineworld in Cambridge on Friday, but it had not been confirmed that she was watching Saw III, he added.
The slasher movie - currently number one at the North American box office - was released last week in the UK.
A spokeswoman for the Cineworld chain said they did not wish to comment.
Comment: Two people at "Saw III". At a particularly gruesome part, one faints, the other sits quietly, apparently unperturbed. A case of the squeamish and the difficult to unnerve? Or something more profound?
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