- Signs of the Times for Fri, 03 Nov 2006 -

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Editorial: The Bushes and The Lost King

Laura Knight-Jadczyk

The assassination of John F. Kennedy is a lot like the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Since that terrible day, almost 43 years ago, there have been over 2,000 books written about the JFK assassination. There have also been numerous television programs and several movies. There is endless theorizing and speculation as to why John F. Kennedy was executed by what amounts to a firing squad, in broad daylight, in the middle of Dallas Texas, on a sunny day in November. Additionally, there have been a lot of myths created and propagated seemingly to muddy the waters. The only thing that most of the proponents of various theories can agree on is that the FBI and the CIA did little to help the Warren Commission solve the crime. Well, that also sounds a lot like the official 9/11 Report. Both events were dealt with in the same way, by a "select group of bureaucrats with an agenda of lies".

Just as with the events on 9/11, there is the "official story"; in the case of Kennedy, it was the "lone gunman"; in the case of 9/11, it was 19 improbable terrorists directed by a cave-dwelling mastermind. In fact, Osama bin Laden and Lee Harvey Oswald have a lot in common: both worked for the CIA.

In the end, what has ruled America for the past 43 years is a corrupt government that took power on November 22nd, 1963, in a coup d'etat that worked from that day forward towards the goal of turning the United States of America into a Fascist machine for World Conquest: the New World Order.

And it makes no difference who is in office: Democrats or Republicans. For example, Bill Clinton appointed five scholars to the "Assassination Records Review Board", whose mission was, quoting Chairman John Tunheim, to "convince the American people that the government is not withholding any documents from the public."

Again, we are reminded of 9/11. The chief argument against a government conspiracy of any kind is "how could they keep something like that secret?"

"To the stock objection that it would be virtually impossible to assemble a murder conspiracy without leakage, the response is that an existing conspiratorial network or system of networks, already in place and capable of murder, would have much less difficulty in maintaining the discipline of secrecy." - Author Peter Dale Scott in "Deep Politics and The Death of JFK"

This speaks directly to the problem addressed by Andrzej Lobaczewski in his book, Political Ponerology: The Science of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes. In this seminal work on how evil rises to the top in any society and culture, and how it develops ramified networks of manipulation and control, the problem is addressed in terms of pathological deviance. In any society, there is a small percentage of deviant individuals who seek power over others. In a society, set up as the American society is, based on the previously described capitalistic ideology of John Calvin, what quickly develops is a "dog eat dog" world, and the fact is that deviant dogs always do better than normal ones. Lobaczewski writes:

The actions of this phenomenon affect an entire society, starting with the leaders and infiltrating every village, small town, factory, business, or farm. The pathological social structure gradually covers the entire country, creating a "new class" within that nation. This privileged class of deviants feels permanently threatened by the "others", i.e. by the majority of normal people. Neither do the pathocrats entertain any illusions about their personal fate should there be a return to the system of normal man.

A normal person deprived of privilege or high position will go about finding and performing some work which will earn him a living; but pathocrats never possessed any solid practical talent, and the time frame of their rule eliminates any residual possibilities of adapting to the demands of normal work. If the laws of normal man were to be reinstated, they and theirs could be subjected to judgment, including a moralizing interpretation of their psychological deviations; they would be threatened by a loss of freedom and life, not merely a loss of position and privilege. Since they are incapable of this kind of sacrifice, the survival of a system which is the best for them becomes a moral imperative. Such a threat must be battled by means of any and all psychological and political cunning implemented with a lack of scruples with regard to those other "inferior-quality" people that can be shocking in its depravity.

In general, this new class is in the position to purge its leaders should their behavior jeopardize the existence of such a system. This could occur particularly if the leadership wished to go too far in compromising with the society of normal people, since their qualifications make them essential for production. The latter is more a direct threat to the lower echelons of the pathocratic elite than to the leaders.

Pathocracy survives thanks to the feeling of being threatened by the society of normal people, as well as by other countries wherein various forms of the system of normal man persist. For the rulers, staying on the top is therefore the classic problem of "to be or not to be".

We can thus formulate a more cautious question: can such a system ever waive territorial and political expansion abroad and settle for its present possessions? What would happen if such a state of affairs ensured internal peace, corresponding order, and relative prosperity within the nation? The overwhelming majority of the country's population would then make skillful use of all the emerging possibilities, taking advantage of their superior qualifications in order to fight for an ever-increasing scope of activities; thanks to their higher birth rate, their power will increase. This majority will be joined by some sons from the privileged class who did not inherit the pathological genes. The pathocracy's dominance will weaken imperceptibly but steadily, finally leading to a situation wherein the society of normal people reaches for power. This is a nightmare vision to the psychopaths.

Thus, the biological, psychological, moral, and economic destruction of the majority of normal people becomes, for the pathocrats, a "biological" necessity. Many means serve this end, starting with concentration camps and including warfare with an obstinate, well-armed foe who will devastate and debilitate the human power thrown at him, namely the very power jeopardizing pathocrats rule: the sons of normal man sent out to fight for an illusionary "noble cause." Once safely dead, the soldiers will then be decreed heroes to be revered in paeans, useful for raising a new generation faithful to the pathocracy and ever willing to go to their deaths to protect it. [...]

The ideology must, of course, furnish a corresponding justification for this alleged right to conquer the world and must therefore be properly elaborated. Expansionism is derived from the very nature of pathocracy, not from ideology, but this fact must be masked by ideology. Whenever this phenomenon has been witnessed in history, imperialism was always its most demonstrative quality. [Political Ponerology]

Martha Rose Crow, in her article The Nine Stages of American Autogenocide, describes how things work in such networks. Just substitute "Pathocrat" [pathological individual who has risen to the top due to his deviant nature, which is usually genetic and passed on to the children] for "Patriarch" as you read the following excerpt:

The decision [to kill] 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) become or evolve 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... 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. [Martha Rose Crow]

Certainly, it was exactly this type of society that enabled the Kennedy clan to come into being as a "power" on the political scene. It was John Kennedy's father who bulldozed his way into the ranks of the international high finance circles. It is also true that John Kennedy obtained public office the only way it is obtainable in such a system: by means of financial power and with the help of the Mafia. It is a certainty that without the support of "the elite" - and here we mean even Zionist elites - he would never have become President.

However, what is interesting is the fact that it seems that John Kennedy knew what he was doing - at least up to a point. He utilized the system and then, apparently, intended to change it! Immediately after his election, John Kennedy, with the help of his brother, Robert, attacked organized crime. It is said that John Kennedy and Chicago mobster Sam Giancana had the same mistress, Judith Campbell Exner. It is also reported that John Kennedy had an affair with the wife of Cord Meyer, a high ranking CIA official.

What is interesting about this is the fact that Professor Alfred McCoy tells us, in his book "The Politics of Heroin," that since 1942, the CIA and the Mafia have worked together in numerous clandestine operations. One even wonders if the stories of JFK's supposedly legendary "way with women" might not be a bit exaggerated?

In any event, John Kennedy shrewdly used the system to get inside, and then it is clear from his actions that he intended to change it, that he did not like or approve of it, and that is, I believe, why those who had lived by this system, with its ideological cover of "Calvinism," decided that he had to go.

When John Kennedy refused to allow the CIA and American troops to attack Cuba, resulting in the Bay of Pigs debacle in 1961, General Charles P. Cabell, Deputy Director of the CIA, went around Washington calling President Kennedy a traitor!

Now, try to understand this: John Kennedy was being called a traitor because he did not believe in the CIA conducting covert operations in other countries, subverting other governments, and generally behaving illegally from any normal person's point of view. Also keep in mind that all of this was directed at creating a "New World Order" with the oligarchy of the U.S. in control. Kennedy had to die for their plans to come to fruition. Nine years after Kennedy's death, things were well on their way when Roy Ash, Director of the Office of Management and Budget stated, "Within two decades, the institutional framework for a world economic community will be in place. Aspects of individual sovereignty will be given over to a supernational authority."

Of course, there is more to this than immediately meets the eye. International bankers have controlled America for over 100 years. On November 21, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt stated,

"The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the United States since the days of Andrew Jackson."

President Woodrow Wilson wrote,

"There is a power so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive that prudent men better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it."

Later, Congressman Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, stated,

"The Federal Reserve is one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever seen. There is not a man within the sound of my voice who does not know that this nation is run by international bankers."

This international banking cartel is largely Jewish, but not solely. However, it is where the interests of Israel intertwine with the interests of banking that problems arise. Michael Collins Piper presents evidence to show that there was a large Zionist influence on the Kennedy assassination, just as there is much evidence of a large Zionist influence on the events of 9/11.

As an aside, this leads us to consideration of the role of George H. W. Bush in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the role of his son in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Let us consider these points:

Although he does not recall when asked, George (Herbert Walker) Bush was in Dallas the day JFK was assassinated.

Bush lies about the fact that he was a high-ranking CIA official at the time of JFK's death.

Bush allowed the escape of a convicted terrorist from prison to go to work for him as an undercover CIA asset in Iran-Contra.

Bush released another convicted terrorist.

Both these terrorists were present on Dealey Plaza on 11/22/1963.

Both these terrorists were convicted for killing 73 people by blowing up an airliner.

Bush is personal friends with a close associate of these convicted terrorists, who was also a participant in Iran Contra.

Bush took a leading role as CIA official in structuring/organizing these terrorists in effective organizations.

[See: Did the Bushes help to kill JFK? for all the details and to view the documents that strongly implicate George H. W. Bush in the conspiracy]

Now, with just those items, would we be at all surprised to discover the connections between Bush Junior and the CIA asset/patsy Osama bin Laden? But there is so much more!

Consider this item:

Edward R. Stetteninus was Secretary of State under both Roosevelt and Truman. He was President of U.S. Steel before World War II. His father was the head of the Federal Lend-Lease program during World War I. The elder Stetteninus also worked for J.P. Morgan. Edward R. Stetteninus created the International Bank of Washington, the world's largest merchant bank. He was also the first American to serve in the United Nations after lobbying heavily for its formation. He was also a "mover and shaker" (and outspoken supporter) of the bill to create the CIA in 1947 under the administration of President Harry Truman. (He was killed mysteriously in 1949).

Edward R. Stetteninus also bought all of the rights to Liberia including the flag plus the mining and rubber industries (i.e. "the country") from the dictator who controlled the small sovereignty. Liberian Services, Inc. ("LSI") of Reston, Virginia and New York City controls the entire shipping industry in Liberia.

LSI is a CIA "front."

In 1963, John F. Kennedy was preparing to amend the National Labor Relations Board statutes and various Internal Revenue Service statues that would prevent foreign flag shipping from being exempt from American income taxes. These amendments would have seriously affected Liberian shipping magnates and the assets of men such as Aristotle Onassis. Billions of dollars were at stake. President Kennedy was killed three days before he was to make these amendments public.

For now, however, let us return again to the past, to Farewell America, to gain a broader understanding of the man America Lost on that sunny day in November, 43 years ago.


"The only glory in public life is that which portends the future and blazes a path through the haze of the present." [Disraeli]

Senator Kennedy won the 1960 Presidential elections by an "exquisitely narrow" margin. (1) White, Protestant Americans can legitimately claim that he was not their President. Kennedy was elected with the votes of 70% of the Negroes, 78% of the Catholics, and 80% of the Jews, not to speak of the women. For what American woman wouldn't have wanted to be the mother, the wife, the elector of this gracious young man who, while campaigning in Boston, invited the ladies to step up to the platform one by one so that he, his mother and his sister might have the pleasure of making their acquaintance and of taking tea with them afterwards?(2)

For his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, one of the twenty richest men in the United States, wealthier than Rockefeller or Henry Ford, richer than the Jews, the Harrimans or the Whitneys, there were no accidents in politics -- only money and organization. John Fitzgerald Kennedy wanted to become President almost as much as his father wanted him to, no matter what road he had to follow.

And he followed it. During the Kennedy campaign, you couldn't take three steps without running into a Kennedy banner, a Kennedy poster, a Kennedy brother or an employee of the Kennedys. Kennedy was seen, Kennedy was heard, and in some cases it was even possible to sleep with Kennedy. Kennedy spoke several times a day, and everyone talked about Kennedy for the rest of the day. The Kennedys were a new breed of politician. They had as much money, or more, than the best of the professionals, and they developed an electoral machine more powerful and efficient than any before. If we are to believe Victor Lasky, old Joe Kennedy once declared, "Three things are needed to win an election. The first is money, the second is money, and the third is more money." Lasky claims that with the millions he spent for his son John, Joe Kennedy could have had his chauffeur elected to Congress. Senator Humphrey's bus was no match for his opponent's Convair.

There is some truth in these sarcasms, but John Kennedy was the only Democratic candidate who could have beaten Richard Nixon in 1960, no matter what the sums involved. At that time, John Kennedy already had a remarkable knowledge of politics, the daily diet of his family. To his technique, perfected by fourteen years in Congress, he added a total faith in his destiny. During the 1960 Democratic Convention, three candidates arrived almost simultaneously at Los Angeles airport. Stevenson's first words were, "I do not want to be chosen, and I have come here almost incognito." Johnson said, "I'm sorry to be late, but I've just been traveling all over the country." Kennedy declared, "I am here to receive the nomination."

In Congress, no one could decide whether he was a liberal or a conservative. A member of the Democratic Party, he often voted with Harry F. Byrd, the leader of the economy bloc. His vote in June, 1960 with Senator Williams of Delaware on a matter as controversial as the oil depletion allowance was surprising, but Senator Williams' bill was rejected by a wide margin, and it was thought that Kennedy had only been employing clever tactics.(3) He had voted against a similar bill in the past, and everyone remembered that he had supported the Republicans in the House of Representatives by voting against statehood for Hawaii, and against the censorship of Senator McCarthy. In short, it was said that he was independent because he could afford to be. This reasonable explanation satisfied even his toughest critics. He was on friendly terms with everyone, and in particular with the committee chairmen, who appreciated his courtesy and his attention. He was not as experienced as Senator Anderson, or as good a speaker as Governor Clement, or as popular with the farmers as Hubert Humphrey, but he was John Kennedy, the handsomest man in the Senate, a veteran of the war in the Pacific, the winner of a Pulitzer prize. Another millionaire, Henry Cabot Lodge, had money, but not as much as Kennedy. The power of the Kennedys could work magic, as Edward Kennedy's election to the Senate in 1962 was to prove.

President Kennedy would probably have preferred that his younger brother wait two more years, but he yielded to family pressure and, in the best Kennedy tradition, the organization was set in motion. There was more to this organization than just dinner parties and beautiful women. With rigorous pragmatism, the Kennedy Brain Trust analyzed the problems at hand and determined the most effective action. The power of the Kennedys had become a political reality capable of upsetting the traditional electoral scales.

Certainly, America had known other dynasties in the course of its history. There had been the Adams, the Harrisons, the Roosevelts and the Tafts, but the potency of these families manifested itself only once in a generation. John Adams was elected President at the age of 61, and his son John Quincy Adams did not enter the White House until he was 57, and without having played a real role during his father's term in office. William Henry Harrison entered the White House at 68, and was followed only by his grandson at the age of 55. The Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin, were only distantly related. As for the Tafts, they exercised their power in different spheres: William Howard was President, Robert a Senator, and in 1962 Robert A., Jr. was only running for the House of Representatives.(4) That same year Edward Kennedy, aged 30, took his seat in the Senate. Robert Kennedy, 36, occupied the post of Attorney General under his brother John, making the Kennedys the most powerful family in the history of the United States, and probably in the history of the world.

Chief of the most powerful nation in the world, Commander-in-Chief of her armed forces, alone responsible for the use of nuclear weapons, directing relations with more than one hundred foreign governments, distributing more than ninety billion dollars a year through 2.5 million federal employees, living in a 132-room mansion, traveling in two jet planes or in one of the ten helicopters in his personal fleet, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the most powerful man in the world.

The voters liked the idea that John Kennedy was the great grandson of the owner of a barroom and accepted the fact that his father had made his fortune as a bootlegger and had played the stock market when he was Ambassador to London. The average American, raised in the belief that the way money is earned has nothing to do with morality, saw nothing frightening about this. The rise of the Kennedys was in the best American tradition. Joseph had been the first Kennedy to graduate from Harvard. His sons attended Choate before entering Harvard in their turn.(5) His daughters and daughters-in-law attended Radcliffe or Vassar and were polished in the finishing schools of Switzerland and France. The Kennedys, now better-dressed than the most respected brahmins of Beacon Street,(6) were no longer obliged to hide behind tinted window panes. They were in a position to set the styles themselves.

The working American doesn't really like the kind of people who have never had to earn a living. The self-made man rejects the notion that man is, to a great extent, the result of his social position, and the fact that the wealth of a family like the Kennedys permits its sons to set forth in the pursuit of power with no financial worries, and with a treasury large enough to finance a war. Obviously, this represents a threat to a democracy, which wants nothing of the virtues of political Sybarites, and many Americans feared the power of the Kennedys.

The public was not fully aware of what had happened when, on January 20, 1961, a new administration that was really a new regime took over in Washington. Largely inspired by George Pope Morris, the Civil War poet, and by Abraham Lincoln, the new President's Inaugural Address was one of the finest pieces in the history of American literature. This long sermon in blank verse with key words that rhymed was the thunderclap announcing the birth of a new state. It was the advent, not of a dynasty, but of the intellect.

"We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom -- symbolizing an end as well as a beginning. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

"The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

"We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of the first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage -- and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

"This much we pledge, and more.

"To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do -- for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

"To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom -- and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

"To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required -- not because the communists may be doing it, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

"To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge -- to convert our good words into good deeds -- in a new alliance for progress -- to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

"To that world assembly of sovereign states, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far out-paced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support -- to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective -- to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak -- and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

"Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

"We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

"But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course -- both sides over-burdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

"So let us begin anew - remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

"Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

"Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms -- and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

"Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.

"Let both sides unite to heed in all comers of the earth the command of Isaiah -- to 'undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.

"And if a beach-head of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

"All this will not be finished in the first hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in the lifetime of our planet. But let us begin.

"In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

"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 we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, 'rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation' -- a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

"Can we forge against the enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country.

"My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

"Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth, God's work must truly be our own."

In the enemy camp people listened, people read, people were moved and sometimes shaken, but they preferred to voice their amazement that President Kennedy had invited mostly writers, artists and scientists to the inauguration -- Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Pearl Buck, William Inge, Arthur Miller, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, John Hersey, Robert Frost, Saint John Perse, Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, Ludwigmies Van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein, Fritz Reiner, Eugene Ormandy, and one lone journalist, Walter Lippman. "There's nobody left at Harvard" became a popular wisecrack when the composition of the Presidential team was announced. But some only half-laughed. In the months that followed, America, anaesthetized by eight years under Eisenhower, awakened to discover that she had a President with both a brain and a heart.

Kennedy sought in the history of the world the perspectives of the art of politics and the role that he might play in it. He introduced his favorite heroes -- Greek, Roman, English, French, German, and even American -- to the American people. He declared, "I have read a great deal about the Presidency. The President must be at the center of the action. He alone must make the decisions."

"We must, I want, we will . . ."

"I know no one who can do this job better than I."

"To remain free, the free world must display more intelligence than the unfree world."

Like Thomas H. Benton, he could suddenly recite from the Georgics of Virgil, the Thousand and One Nights, Herodotus or Sancho Panza, the New Testament, the German Reformers or Adam Smith, Fenelon or Hudibras, the financial reports of Necca or the acts of the Council of the Thirty, the debates that preceded the adoption of the Constitution, or some half-forgotten speech by a deceased member of Congress. In Chicago he quoted from the Greek poet Alcaeus. When the students of a girls' school translated his Inaugural Address into Latin because the style reminded them of Cicero, he answered them in Latin (with the help of one of his assistants). The letter began as follows:

Johannes Filiusgeraldi Kennediensis, Respublicae Presidens, puellis Scholae Daltoni salutem plurinam dicit.

He quoted the Founding Fathers, Woodrow Wilson and Justice Holmes, but he also cited Shakespeare, Goethe and Sophocles, and it was said that at candlelight dinners at the White House he would read from Keats and Marlowe, whom no one in Kansas City had ever heard of.

The abstract verbal intercourse at his press conferences was often over the heads of his public. He juggled easily with the salaries of the laundry workers, the average Social Security payment, the proportion of high school graduates unable to go to college, the number of university graduates in India, or the average per capita income in Libya or the Congo. He also declared that "there is no point in sending astronauts into space if our minds remain earthbound."

He reminded the country that in the period following the Declaration of Independence and again during the Civil War, the most capable men in America, the most outstanding citizens, had chosen a career in politics. From the Civil War until the Depression, and again after the death of Roosevelt, they preferred to go into business. Kennedy wanted to make politics once again the foremost career in America.

He put up signs in the State Department reading, "Junk the Jargon. Improve your writing." Which meant: write English. Kennedy himself set the example, but many Americans thought his speeches strange. They heard it said that the President's style was inspired by Gladstone, but who was Gladstone? To them, English was another language, and this intellectual Kennedy thought too much and too fast. He cut the fine sentiments and noble aspirations into a series of cabalistic fulgurations that flared up and died out with the speed of light. People began to feel that this man who never stopped thinking thought too much. In the frontier days of the West, a man who stopped to think was a dead man. Not only did Kennedy think, but his dialectic was straightforward and direct:

First, it is more and more obvious.

Secondly, it is more and more obvious.

Third . . .

Dwight McDonald, who never met Kennedy, wrote:

"Americans often imagine that facts are solid, concrete and distinct objects like marbles, but they are far from this. Rather, they are subtle essences full of mystery and metaphysics, which change form, color and sense according to the context in which they are presented. They must always be treated with skepticism, and the judgment must be based not on the number of facts that can be mobilized in support of an opinion, but on a skillful discrimination between them and the objectivity with which they are treated to arrive at the truth, which is something altogether different from the facts, although there is some connection between them."

When someone asked Kennedy, "What kind of a President will you be? Liberal or conservative?", he replied, "I hope to be responsible." It was an extremely intelligent answer, but one hardly suited to a bipartisan nation. When De Gaulle wrote to him on the subject of Berlin, "Sur quel terrain nous rencontrerons-nous?(7) Kennedy exclaimed, "Isn't that superb!" He well knew that in De Gaulle's mind there was no suitable terrain, but his first reaction concerned only the General's style.

The history of the Kennedy administration will be difficult to write because nearly all the President's discussions with his advisors or his visitors took place man-to-man, mind-to-mind. He was an intellectual.

He was not friendly to the extent that people felt close to him. His personality was witty and penetrating, and his language was as direct as the finger he so often pointed during his press conferences. Romain Gary said that never, in seven years in the United States, had he encountered a cerebral mechanism that functioned so perfectly. "He does not answer your argument, but immediately asks another question. Little by little, I felt as if I were no longer there; he reduced me to an intellectual function. I felt 'both honored by this excessive attention paid to me by the President of the United States and a little dazed to be subjected to this sort of analysis. I would have liked at least to know what he thought about me. There was something curiously voracious about his need for information . . . After three hours of conversation, I had no idea which argument I had gotten across, which idea had impressed or convinced him. He listened to everything with equal attention, but when I had finished he did not tell me his conclusion and went on to something else. He did not for one minute forget that he was President of the United States, and although he encouraged me to speak as his equal, the equality stopped there."

Kennedy told Romain Gary,

"Your children live on streets like the Rue Anatole France, Boulevard Victor Hugo, Avenue Valery. When they are still very young they begin to sense the importance of history and culture. Our streets all have numbers. We have enough great names to replace them: Hemingway Square, Melville Boulevard . . . I would like to see a twelve-year-old boy come home and tell his mother, when she scolded him for being late, 'I was playing baseball on William Faulkner Avenue.'"

Such an extraordinary man, interested in everything! He would sometimes rise at daybreak to gaze pensively out of a White House window at the streetcleaners on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Washington! A sleepy little town under Truman, headquarters of a provincial garrison in Eisenhower's time, it became under Kennedy the true capital of the nation. America likes her President to come from a small town. "Our Town" is the seat of moral rectitude, and its inhabitants are known to lead exemplary family lives. Past Presidents of the United States had always felt obliged to live simply and virtuously. The Roosevelts were well off, but Eleanor reigned with austerity. The Trumans had only the President's salary to live on, and their receptions offered nothing but cookies, lemonade, and good cheer. The Eisenhowers lived modestly in the company of a few tired old friends. The White House was not the hub of Washington society, which gathered weekly at a few lusterless diplomatic receptions and dull private parties, the most fashionable of which were given by a couple of old ladies who had become the moral arbiters of the town, and once a year at the Dancing Class.

That was Washington.

Then suddenly everything changed. Suddenly, Carolyn Hagner Shaw (Callie to her friends), whose Green Book with its roster of VIPs could make or break a reputation, found herself dethroned. Dethroned also was Perle Mesta, former United States Ambassador to Luxembourg, a hostess who liked to dabble in politics. The generals' and senators' wives on Kalorama Road became suddenly conscious of their age. When they heard what was going on at the White House, they were reminded of Margaret Mitchell's Atlanta, that wide-open city that made no effort to hide its sins. They read in the papers that Shakespeare and ballets were performed at the White House, where the finest dishes and the most exquisite wines were served while an orchestra played at dinner.

American society confuses elegance with extravagance. For the jealous matrons of Washington, the elegance that reigned at the White House naturally meant a waste of money. They gossiped that the Kennedys easily spent $ 2,000 on the food for one of their parties, neglecting to add (or perhaps they did not know) that the President donated his entire salary to charity.(8) The Washington upper-crust was dying for an invitation to the White House, but it either wasn't invited, or wasn't automatically invited. The White House receptions -- the only ones that really counted -- were open only to the personal guests of the Kennedys. Even the "cliff dwellers" and Mesdames George Garrett, Sidney Kent Legare, John Newbold and Benjamin Thoron ("we're not snobs in the usual sense") were ignored.

The big, fashionable embassies -- the British, the French, the Chilean, the Mexican, the Peruvian -- followed suit. By giving preference on their invitation lists to those already honored by the Kennedys, they practiced a sort of social segregation patterned largely on that of the White House. It was a little like a royal court. Only the oil magnates, celebrating noisily at the Carroll Arms Hotel, did not feel left out.

Washington was a new city. Certain Senators changed their ties, and under the scrutiny of the cold rationalists of the New Frontier, visitors to the White House learned not to spit. The spittoons, for that matter, had been removed. The lobbyists moved their parties to Miami or Las Vegas. If, when they stopped by the Jockey Club, they noticed someone who looked like Salvador Dali or Pablo Casals, it really was that "degenerate" Dali or that "Communist" Casals. The clothes of the Kennedy clique came from Dior, Balenciaga or Chanel, and in their dresses from Saks Fifth Avenue or Garfinkels, the best-dressed women in the city suddenly felt very provincial.

"King Jack" and his court and the dolce vita at the White House were on the tip of every tongue, and many people felt that Sodom and Gomorrah had been destroyed for less. America became suddenly conscious of the fact that there were 72 servants in the White House, although the Eisenhowers had had as many. Had the Kennedys, these fabulously rich Kennedys, with their limousines, their jewels, their long gowns and their impassive air of the well-to-do, forgotten that the President and the First Lady are supposed to set an example of piety, sobriety and moral respectability?

This book is not intended as a censure of Jacqueline Kennedy, but everything associated with the image of a President contributes to his strengths and his weaknesses. His wife is destined to play a part in history. John Kennedy was a man with a strong personality. He had no need of a strong wife. A President's wife assumes new responsibilities and the obligation to renounce certain of her former prerogatives. The American people, with their common sense and their strong moral principles, want a First Family that is simple and respectable. Since the President is essentially a political figure, it falls to the First Lady to symbolize the American family.

Jacqueline Kennedy was bored by the White House. To her, the traditional social obligations of the First Lady were only a nuisance. She disliked the atmosphere of Washington politics -- the party rallies, the womens' clubs, and the company of the Congressional wives. Her disdain for the "hurly-burly and the vulgarity of politics" won her some powerful enemies. Washington -- and even New York -- were too small for her. Nor was she made for "the citadel, the impregnable refuge of the family."(9) The Republican press referred to her as a "desert princess," a "dark-haired beauty," a "Parisian nymph."(10)

Spite and jealousy had their part in the gossip and scandals that circulated, and continue to circulate, about President Kennedy's wife, but there is generally an element of truth in the ugliest of rumors. "The people are sometimes mistaken in their cheers, but never in their jeers."(11) Jacqueline Kennedy had chosen "to live in the cream of the cream and to swim in it,"(12) and that is a dubious position for the wife of a President.

Doubt leads to suspicion. In little time, Jackie's slips over-shadowed her virtues. Her popularity faded as her egoism and her indiscretions became public knowledge.(13) Americans condemned Jackie for "putting on airs." European aristocrats, who disdain "cafe society," scoffed at her "mauvais genre." Both were mistaken.

Jacqueline Kennedy had, perhaps, an "unfortunate passion for the nobility,"(14) but above all she wanted to LIVE -- as much and as well as possible. Such is the desire of most modem young women, but the American public expects something more from its First Lady. The voters had dreamed of a young queen with democratic ideals. Instead, they got a star.

Her biggest mistake was probably in considering John Kennedy first as a husband, secondly as a Kennedy, and never as President of the United States. She was wrong.(15) The American Constitution and the tradition of the Presidency assign no special role to the President's wife. She must rely on her good sense, her discretion, and her heart. Remarkable First Ladies like Abigail and Louisa Catherine Adams attracted little notice. Dolly Madison was a ravishing beauty, and Frances Folsom was only 21 when she married President Cleveland, but all remained in the shadow of their husbands and on the inside pages of the newspapers. The reputation of President Lincoln was hurt by the superficial frivolities of his wife, but when Mary Todd Lincoln died insane, public opinion remained indifferent.

The civilization of modem communications, with its idols and its popular myths, has turned the spotlight on the President's wife. A wife who can make or break the career of a private citizen has her part in the destiny of a President. The energy, the tact, and the intelligence of Lady Bird have done much for Lyndon Johnson. Governor Rockefeller's divorce and remarriage have hurt his political career. "Jackie" tarnished the image of the Kennedys. They accepted her only because she was the wife of one of them. She had stolen John's heart, and she had married him. That was the limit of their affinity. With her French and (although she denies it) Jewish blood, her high society upbringing and her finishing school education, she was about as far removed from the tradition of American womanhood as Pat Nixon or Ethel Kennedy are close.

Spite and envy had their part in the attacks on the President and his wife. "Calumny is a necessary ingredient of every authentic glory,"(16) and no one, not even the President of the United States, is immune. It was said that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had syphilis, and that Eisenhower was a German Jew. Women had always been the weak spot of the Kennedys. "It runs in the family," people said. President Kennedy liked to relax, and he needed to. A Secret Service agent whose code name was "Dentist" was in charge of the President's pleasures.

Puritanism is so widespread in this world, and hypocrisy so strong, that some readers will be shocked by these passages. But why should we feign to ignore such matters, when they have already passed into history? Why should a nation tolerate a politically corrupt but not a physiologically normal President?

The pastimes of great men are of very little importance. Too intelligent, in too much of a hurry, too hard-working, too enthusiastic, too generous, John Kennedy also had too much vitality and too much heart. The national interest requires that the state be a cold monster. The weakness and the hypocrisy of its citizens demand the same attitude of a Chief of State. Kennedy was treated with cortisone, but he hid this from the public, and he was wrong. Eisenhower had suffered a heart attack and a serious operation, and the details were known to every American. Ordinary men take comfort in the illnesses of the great. Kennedy took several [therapeutic] baths a day and slept on a horsehair mattress with a bed board, but he would have walked if he were half dead, People distrust those who are not like themselves.

It is difficult to abolish prejudice in those bereft of ideas. The more hatred is superficial, the more it runs deep.


1. Daily Telegraph.

2. New York Times.

3. See Chapter Eleven, "Oilmen."

4. Seth Taft, William Howard's grandson, was defeated in November 1967 in the Cleveland municipal elections.

5. John graduated in 1940, Robert in 1948, and Edward (with help) in 1954.

6. The most elegant street in Boston.

7. "On what ground shall we meet?"

8. Since his election to the House of Representatives in 1947, Kennedy had always donated his salary and the royalties from his books to charity. As the President's salary is $100,000 and his personal income amounted to $400,000, his critics pointed out that, after taxes, his generosity cost him only $9,524.

9. John Steinbeck.

10. Time magazine, September 25, 1963.

11. Richard Cromwel1.

12. Porfirio Rubirosa, an international playboy and personal friend of Jackie's.

13. In September, 1962, George Gallup published the results of a poll on Jacqueline Kennedy's public image. Heard by the Gallup poll reporters were the following criticisms:

1. Travels too much away from family
2. In the limelight too much
3. Her hair-do
4. Her taste in clothes
5. Undignified
6. Her voice, the way she talks
7. Spends too much money, wastes money
8. Pictures in the paper in a bathing suit
9. Doesn't wear right attire to church
10. Too much social life, parties.

Also heard were: show-off, snobbish, too fun-loving, unaware of common people, etc.

14. On several occasions she expressed her dislike for Princess Grace of Monaco, who is, on the contrary, a noteworthy example of nobility, dignity and simplicity.

The night of President Kennedy's funeral, his widow curtsied to Prince Philip of Edinburgh, who had come to present his condolences on behalf of Queen Elizabeth. The curtsy was quite out of place, but Jackie probably thought it would look chic. Prince Philip was so embarrassed that, back in London, he remarked that for a minute he thought he was at the Royal Variety Performance.

15. Jacqueline Kennedy's style of living shocked not so much because of her "immorality" or her "European elegance" as because of her disregard for the traditions and regulations of the American government and the political policies of her husband the President.

She hired Stephane Boudin, Director of Jansen's in Paris, to redecorate the White House. The new curtains, rugs, upholstery, the wood paneling and even the woodwork and some of the furniture were ordered from France, from the workshops of Saint Sabin and the Gobelins in particular, but Jacqueline Kennedy arranged to have the bills sent from Jansen's New York branch. The White House is prohibited by law from purchasing furnishings abroad when the equivalent can be purchased in the United States.

When she declared to the press in 1962, on her return from a trip to India and Pakistan (a trip that was filmed in color by the US Information Agency at a cost of $78,104) that she had "left $600 in a bazaar where she hadn't intended to spend more than $50," did she forget that the American balance of payments was $2,203 in deficit, and that President Kennedy had just signed a bill limiting the free entry privileges of Americans returning from abroad to $100?

When she accepted the gifts of jewelry presented her by President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and King Hassan of Morocco, did she realize that Pakistan received $323 million in American aid (in 1962), and Morocco $56 million (in 1963)? To our knowledge, these diamonds and emeralds were not among the objects she left behind, as tradition dictates, when she left the White House.

16. Edmund Burke.

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Editorial: Israeli troops open fire on Palestinian women outside mosque

Signs of the Times

The scene near a mosque in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun after Israeli troops opened fire on a group of Palestinian women, killing one of them (see here) and injuring 10 others. The mosque had been the scene of an Israeli siege after a group of men, presumed to be armed, took refuge there. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

This story should come as no surprise to anyone. Successive Israeli governments have given ample evidence over the past 60 years that, in their opinion, Palestinian life is worth little more than that of the animals that extreme orthodox Jews sacrifice to their destroyer god "Yahweh". Indeed, at least on a symbolic level, the murder of Palestinian men, women and children by Israeli soldiers is seen by Zionists as a similar type of blood offering to the all-too-human "god" that "promised them Palestine" 2,500 years ago.

With such callous disregard for the life of other human beings, what does anyone expect the end result of the manufactured "Middle East crisis" to be, other than the murder of probably millions of innocent people, Arabs and Jews alike, with only the Zionist leaders escaping unscathed, as always.

A Palestinian woman was killed and another 10 were reported wounded when Israeli forces today opened fire on a group preparing to act as a human shield for "militants" in a Gaza mosque.

Dozens of women were gathering outside the mosque in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip after an appeal on a local radio station. At least a dozen gunmen had taken refuge in the building after the Israeli army launched its largest Gaza offensive in months in an attempt to stop militants launching rocket attacks on nearby Jewish settlements over the border.

Television pictures showed at least 50 women making their way along a pavement when shots could be heard ringing out. They started to flee in terror and at least two women were left lying on the ground.

Witnesses said one woman, aged about 40, was killed, and 10 others were wounded. The Israeli army said troops spotted two militants hiding in the crowd of women and opened fire.

Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers surrounded the building when militants took refuge there after two days of fighting, the Israeli military and Palestinian security officials said. A large group of women protesters went on to gather outside the mosque. An unidentified number of militants escaped while the demonstration was going on, but some remained inside, the Israeli army and Hamas said.

A 22-year-old Palestinian man was also killed in the northern town, which troops seized on Wednesday.

Overnight, the two sides exchanged fire. Troops also threw stun and smoke grenades into the mosque to pressure the gunmen to surrender. Witnesses said an Israeli army bulldozer knocked down an outer wall of the mosque. It was not clear if there were any casualties inside.

Residents said Beit Hanoun, a town of 30,000 people, was effectively under full Israeli control, with a curfew imposed.

The army said it targeted Beit Hanoun because it was a major staging ground for rocket attacks. But Israeli officials have said the takeover of Beit Hanoun was expected to last only a few days and did not signal the start of a wider-scale military offensive in Gaza.

Militants, however, continued to fire rockets at Israeli border communities, including two that landed on Friday. Two Israelis were slightly wounded and a house was damaged in the latest attacks.

In a separate operation last night, an Israeli air strike on a car in Gaza City killed three Hamas fighters, including a local militant commander, witnesses said. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the strike.

In the various news reports on this story, the men that the women were attempting to protect are described as "militants" or "gunmen", yet the Israeli soldiers are only ever referred to as "soldiers". The term "militants" has a clear negative connotation, which has been deliberately fomented by the Israeli propaganda machine over the past few years to the point that it is not synonymous with "terrorist". Palestinians, you see, are not allowed to carry or use guns in defence of their lives. If they do, they are "terrorists". Israeli soldiers, on the other hand, are free to murder and maim at will, safe in the knowledge that they will be lauded as heroes. Why? Because the Israeli government and the controlled Western media says so, and you believe it.

If, however, you retain an essence of your own decency and humanity, you cannot but understand that these Palestinian men are, first and foremost, the fathers, husbands, sons and brothers of the women who attempted to protect them, men who were taking a stand and attempting to halt the ongoing murder of innocent Palestinian civilians that is the hallmark of every Israeli incursion into beleaguered and terrorized Gaza.

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Editorial: I Want To Hurt Somebody

Greg Palast
The Guardian
Thursday, November 2, 2006

It was pure war-nography. The front page of the New York Times today splashed a four-column-wide close-up of a blood-covered bullet in the blood-soaked hands of an army medic who'd retrieved it from the brain of Lance Cpl. Colin Smith.

There was a 40 column-inch profile of the medic. There were photos of the platoon, guns over shoulders, praying for the fallen buddy. The Times is careful not to ruin the heroic mood, so there is no photograph of pieces of corporal Smith's shattered head. Instead, there's an old, smiling photo of the wounded soldier.

The reporter, undoubtedly wearing the Kevlar armor of the troop in which he's "embedded," quotes at length the thoughts of the military medic: "I would like to say that I am a good man. But seeing this now, what happened to Smith, I want to hurt people. You know what I mean?"

The reporter does not bother -- or dare -- to record a single word from any Iraqi in the town of Karma where Smith's platoon was, "performing a hard hit on a house."

I don't know what a "hard hit" is. But I don't think I'd want one "performed" on my home. Maybe Iraqis feel the way I do.

We won't know. The only Iraqi noted by the reporter was, "a woman [who] walked calmly between the sniper and the marines."

The Times reporter informs us that Lance Cpl. Smith, "said a prayer today," before he charged into the village. We're told that Smith had, "the cutest little blond girlfriend" and "his dad was his hero." Did the calm woman also say her prayers today? Is her dad her hero, too? We don't know. No one asks.

The reporter and his photographer did visit a home in the neighborhood -- but only after the "hit" force kicked in the door. I suppose that's an improvement over the typical level of reporting we get. In dispatches home by the few US journalists who brave beyond the Green Zone, Iraqis are little more than dark shapes glimpsed through the slots of a speeding Humvee.

Last month there was a big hoo-ha over the statistical accuracy of a Johns Hopkins University study estimating that 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of this war.

I doubt the Iraqi who fired that bullet into Lance Cpl. Smith read the Hopkins study. Iraqis don't need a professor of statistics to tell them what happens in a "hard hit" on a house. Of civilians killed by the US forces the Hopkins team found 46% are younger than fifteen years old.

I grieve for Lance Cpl. Smith and I can't know for certain what moved the sniper to pick up a gun and shoot him. However, I've no doubt that, like the Marines who said prayers before they invaded the homes of the terrified residents of Karma, the sniper also said a prayer before he loaded the 7.62mm shell into his carbine.

And if we asked, I'm sure the sniper would tell us, "I am a good man, but seeing what happened, I want to hurt people."

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Editorial: Egypt 1956, Lebanon 2006

Hassan Nafaa

At sunset on Monday, 29 October 1956, Israel launched a massive offensive across the Sinai Desert as the French and British moved to occupy the Suez Canal Zone. The three forces worked in close coordination in accordance with a plan agreed at a secret meeting held a few days earlier in the Paris suburb of Sèvres. Commentators agree that this invasion, inclusive of the motives for waging it, the international events that accompanied it, and its immediate aftermath, marked a major turning point in the history of the region. Its 50th anniversary falls only a couple of months after another major regional turning point, last July's Israeli attacks on Lebanon.
"Before the final signing [of the Sèvres Protocol], I asked Ben-Gurion for a brief adjournment, during which I met Mollet and Bourgés-Maunoury alone. It was here that I finalized with these two leaders an agreement for the building of a nuclear reactor at Dimona, in southern Israel... and the supply of natural uranium to fuel it. I put forward a series of detailed proposals and, after discussion, they accepted them."
-- Shimon Peres

"I told him [French prime minister Guy Mollet] about the discovery of oil in southern and western Sinai, and that it would be good to tear this peninsula from Egypt because it did not belong to her, rather it was the English who stole it from the Turks when they believed that Egypt was in their pocket. I suggested laying down a pipeline from Sinai to Haifa to refine the oil and Mollet showed interest in this suggestion."
-- Ben-Gurion

In the interval between these two events the Arab world has undergone a sea change, but Israel has remained a prime determinant of the direction and nature of the deeper currents of this change. It has long been established that Israel, barely eight years after its foundation, was the force behind the 1956 Suez invasion, which culminated in an astonishing political victory for Egypt and for those that supported it. Half a century later, Israel initiated an aggression that ended in both a political and a military victory for the Lebanese Hizbullah party and for its supporters.

Because Israel managed to reverse its political defeat in 1956 with the sweeping victory it attained in 1967, it is confident that it will be able to reverse the consequences of its 2006 military debacle by maneuvering Lebanon into signing a peace agreement and thereby eliminating its northern neighbour from the Arab-Israeli struggle. However, if the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, and Hizbullah's success in thwarting them, tell us anything it is that the era of easy victories is now over and that conflict in the region has entered a qualitatively new phase. In order to grasp the magnitude of this change better, it is useful to re- examine events in Suez in 1956 in the light of events in Lebanon in 2006.

The context of the 1956 invasion should first be examined, taking note of three essential factors. Firstly, in the period before the war conflict with Israel had receded in Arab priorities. Egypt, for example, had two major preoccupations -- ending the British occupation and hastening economic and social development -- and during its early years in power (1953-1955), the revolutionary government engaged in secret contacts in order to discover Israel's intentions and encouraged third parties, notably Washington, to investigate a possible settlement to the Arab-Israeli struggle. Unfortunately, Israel remained intransigent on the questions of borders and on Palestinian refugees, and further moves in this direction were not possible. Had it shown a modicum of flexibility, the Middle East would probably not be in the state it is in today.

Secondly, Israeli interests in 1956 converged with those of the traditional colonial powers, Britain and France. Evidence of this is to be found in Israel's determined attempts to obstruct Egypt's efforts to reach an agreement with Britain over the evacuation of British forces from the Suez Canal Zone and in the Israeli drive to establish closer relations with France. In the course of this, Israel lent what support it could to France's colonial policies in the Middle East, especially in Algeria, and it did what it could to frustrate the ambitions of the Algerian national-liberation movement.

Thirdly, Israeli interests in 1956 diverged from those of the US. Washington at that time was working to secure the region against a perceived Soviet threat, towards which end it was courting a number of Arab governments, among them Egypt. So set was Israel upon preventing the US from drawing closer to Egypt that it masterminded terrorist bombings against American targets in Egypt (the Lavon Affair in 1954).

These three factors combined to induce Israel to intensify pressures on Egypt in order to compel it to agree to a treaty on Israeli terms before British forces withdrew from Suez. These pressures, which reached their height in a deadly Israeli raid on Gaza that claimed the lives of dozens of Egyptian soldiers, ultimately backfired, and they drove Egypt to turn to the Soviet Union as an additional source of arms.

In 1956, as the storm clouds gathered over Egypt as a result of Washington's withdrawal of its offer to finance the construction of the Aswan High Dam, in response to which Abdel-Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal, Israel based its calculations on the belief that Abdel-Nasser's unprecedented act of defiance would augment his influence in the Arab world and unleash Egypt's energies in a direction that Israel feared would threaten its own national security. Yet, Israel was not about to confront a newly restructured Egyptian army that was being re-equipped with the latest weaponry on its own, and so it began to cast around for partners. The nationalisation of the Suez Canal served this end, even though this act was not directed against Israel, and nor did it constitute a threat to Israeli interests.

The primary aim of the Tripartite Aggression was to overthrow the four-year-old Nasserist regime, which the conspiring powers believed was still fragile and had many enemies within the country. The war itself not only put paid to these misconceptions, it also worked to strengthen the regime and to elevate Abdel-Nasser to the status of an unrivaled leader of the Arab people.

However, if the courage and efficacy with which Abdel-Nasser managed this confrontation enabled him to emerge politically victorious in spite of a military defeat, of greater importance is the fact that the crisis made the Pan-Arab trend a dominant political force that now directed the course of regional interactions and drove the national-liberation movements that would sweep away the influence of France and Britain. Abdel-Nasser had participated in the founding of the Afro-Asian Solidarity Movement in Bandung, and his Suez victory turned him into one of the foremost leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Third World and into one of the most influential leaders in the world. For British Prime Minister Anthony Eden and French Prime Minister Guy Mollet, Suez became a fiasco that cast them into political oblivion.

As for Israel, once it had attached itself to two major powers -- Britain and France -- it played little more than a supportive role. Israel had sought guarantees from Paris and London that it would not be left alone to contend with the Egyptian forces for more than 24 hours. This has but one meaning: Israel did not have confidence in its own military capacities and knew that it had to rely on British and French forces, which flies in the face of Israel's subsequent boasts of the feats its army performed during the war.

However, these facts aside, after Suez Israel believed that it had been robbed politically of its military victory. It registered these lessons, and has subsequently applied them to the letter, and it has not undertaken any military adventures since unless two conditions were met. The first is that it must enjoy overwhelming superiority, in order to be able to resolve a military engagement independently. The second is that it must have a solid alliance with the US, in order that it will be able to capitalise politically on any military victory and will be compensated for its losses. Acting on these principles is what enabled the country to achieve its resounding victory in 1967 and then to retain the territories it occupied in the war.

Yet, as stinging as it was, Egypt's defeat in 1967 did not succeed in toppling Abdel-Nasser, even if it weakened him both at home and abroad. The fact that Abdel-Nasser succeeded in remaining in power after this debacle has surprised many. However, he had by then built up a record of popularity sufficient to keep the Egyptian people behind him and to inspire them to reconcile themselves with defeat and to the sacrifices that would be demanded of them. He proceeded to rebuild and rearm the Egyptian army in preparation for what he believed would be the next inevitable confrontation, with the war of attrition serving as a training ground on which Egyptian forces and their commanders could test their progress. It is difficult to determine how Abdel-Nasser would have conducted the 1973 war had he been alive to do so. As it was, fate handed Sadat the command, together with the task of single-handedly managing the political battle after the guns fell silent.

History has yet to disclose the full circumstances surrounding the October 1973 war and its immediate aftermath. Many hold that the military victory won by the Egyptian army during that war was turned into a political defeat. The strong cards that had made the October victory possible, being the military and political support of the Soviet Union and the Arab world and the political support of many European powers and Third World nations, tumbled out of Egypt's hands like so many dead leaves.

Soviet support fell by the wayside when Sadat announced that the October War would be "the last war" and that "the US held 99 per cent of the cards." Sadat forfeited Arab support when he agreed to lift the boycott of Arab oil and support Kissinger's step-by-step strategy, which led to the exclusion from the negotiating process of Egypt's wartime ally, Syria, and then eventually of all other Arab partners. As we know, this policy also brought Sadat to Jerusalem, thereby transforming the Arab-Israeli struggle into an Arab-Arab conflict and transforming Egypt, especially after it signed a separate peace with Israel in 1979, into a near outcast, not just in its natural Arab environment, but in the Islamic and Third World environments as well.

It should be stressed that the direction Egypt took did not so much represent the policy of the Egyptian government as it did the personal thinking of the Egyptian president at the time. Sadat did not consult anyone in advance over his decision to visit Jerusalem, a decision which led to the resignations of some of his closest aides. The People's Assembly was not given sufficient time to consider the peace agreement, and deliberations lasted no more than a few hours. Not long afterwards, Sadat dissolved the parliament that had approved the treaty in order to get rid of the 15 MPs who had voted against it.

Egypt's subsequent withdrawal from the Middle East struggle without exacting guarantees from Israel that it would not unleash its war machine upon other Arab parties threw the Arab world into turmoil. Unbound by either legal restrictions or moral compunctions, Israel turned its fury against the PLO, whose members it hunted down from Lebanon to Tunisia, and against Iraq when it struck the Iraqi nuclear reactor. Simultaneously, Lebanon became the theatre in which Arab-Arab and Arab-Israeli tensions played themselves out, and between 1978 and 1996 Israel made several military incursions into Lebanon, the most extensive being in 1982.

Developments in the Arab world during the period between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s were the product of the fragmentation of the region and of the gradual collapse of the dream of Arab unity, the force of which the Suez victory had embodied. As Arab unity disintegrated, Israel emerged as a dominant power, but it still could not impose peace on its own terms. Although it succeeded in adding other treaties to the separate peace with Egypt, such as the 1993 Oslo Accords with the PLO and the 1994 Treaty with Jordan, these fell well short of realising an end to the state of war, let alone a comprehensive peace.

During this period, too, the Islamist trend emerged from the rubble of the collapse of pan- Arabism. This time the struggle was spearheaded not by the Arab regimes but by armed popular resistance movements, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon. Although these movements managed to make life hell for the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon and Palestine, their achievements on the ground have varied. Hizbullah has been in the vanguard of the Islamist movements, especially after it compelled Israeli forces to withdraw from southern Lebanon in 2000, the first time in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict that Israel has been forced to withdraw from an occupied territory both unconditionally and without being able to furnish protection for its local agents.

The year 2000 was also the year in which the peace process reached a dead end with the collapse of Camp David II, which had brought together US President Clinton, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The failure of these talks drove home to the Palestinians as never before that Israel was not ready for a settlement that would lead to the fulfillment of the Arabs' minimum demands and that the only alternative open to them was armed struggle in the manner of Hizbullah. Thus, at the turn of the millennium, the Arab-Israeli conflict found itself at a new crossroads, with Hizbullah-style resistance pointing in the direction of victory and liberation and the Oslo process towards defeat. While the response of the Israeli people to Camp David II was to elect Sharon, that of the Palestinian people was to stage the Al-Aqsa Intifada, heralding the upheaval in Palestinian politics that would eventually bring Hamas into government.

Sharon imagined that he could crush the Palestinian resistance by isolating and laying siege to Arafat, who had turned down Israeli offers at Camp David. The Israeli prime minister also felt that the events of 11 September 2001 had supplied him with the legal and political pretexts for dealing with the Palestinian militant factions as though they were terrorist organisations. He was encouraged in this direction by the newly installed neo-conservative administration in Washington, which had embarked on its own global "war on terror." This has turned out to be merely a byword for a new strategy instituting a division of labour between the US, seeking unrivaled global hegemony, and Israel, seeking unrivaled hegemony over the Middle East. While Washington would take care of the "rogue states", the latter would tend to "terrorist movements" such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah.

The wars against Afghanistan and against Iraq were, I believe, intended to lay the groundwork for a war against Iran, which the US regards as the heart of Islamic fundamentalism, the pulpit of terrorism and the model of the rogue state. Washington, however, did not anticipate getting mired in Iraq or Iran's ability to capitalise on the mistakes the American administration has made in the region. Unable to set the stage for toppling the Iranian regime by force, Washington has fallen back upon the alternative of trying to isolate Tehran from its allies, especially Syria and Hizbullah. As a result, well before 12 July 2006, when Hizbullah staged its cross-border raid in which it killed eight Israeli soldiers, wounded 18 others and captured two, Washington and Israel had begun to plan a massive military offensive against Lebanon.

According to press reports, a meeting was held on the fringes of a meeting at the American Enterprise Institute on 17 and 18 June between US Vice-President Dick Cheney, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, three former Israeli ministers and Nathan Sharansky at which the final touches were put on a plan to destroy Hizbullah militarily. Only one construction can be put on this joint American-Israeli decision to go to war against Lebanon, which is that this operation was intended to be part of a larger design to create an entirely new set of rules for the region and not just for Lebanon. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice revealed this quite succinctly in her declaration that "a new Middle East would be born from Lebanon's birth pangs."

Although what transpired at this meeting remains undisclosed, it is obvious that the participants agreed upon a division of labour whereby Israel would undertake the brunt of the military effort, while Washington would steer the diplomatic offensive in a manner that would ensure that Israel had the time to accomplish the military objectives. These were to destroy Hizbullah's military infrastructure, to disarm its fighters and drive them north of the Litani River, to secure the unconditional release of the Israeli captives, and then to capitalise on the military victory to achieve a political situation on the ground that would serve US-Israeli objectives against Syria and Iran at a later date.

However, just as the Tripartite Aggression of 1956 backfired against Israel's European co- conspirators, so too did the war against Lebanon in 2006 rebound against Israel and the US. Because of Hizbullah's heroic resistance, Israel failed to resolve the battle militarily, and Hassan Nasrallah became as celebrated a leader in the Arab world as Abdel-Nasser had before him. Nor did the US manage to resolve the situation politically as it had hoped, even if it succeeded in securing the passage of the blatantly pro-Israeli UN Security Council Resolution 1701. In spite of the enormous destruction caused by the war, it may have opened an opportunity to resolve the issues of the Middle East once and for all. Yet, future developments in the region will depend largely on how the US decides to handle Iran and the Iranian nuclear programme.

The US and Israel believe they can circumvent the Islamist trend, which today is spearheading the resistance to Zionist expansionism, just as they thought they could get around the Arab nationalist movement that withstood the assault of 1956. If they are entertaining this hope, then it is as unattainable as a mirage, what with the US bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel caught up in Lebanon and Palestine.

That said, there is one significant difference between 1956 and 2006 that is worth mentioning in conclusion. While 1956 was a political victory clutched from a military defeat, 2006 is a military victory thus has not yet turned into a political defeat, and this despite America's hegemonic global power.

* The writer is professor of political science at Cairo University.

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Monetary Mayhem

US retailers gloomy after weak housing market dents sales

Friday November 3, 2006
The Guardian

- Talk of rate cut as growth slows to lowest since 2003
- Wal-Mart to lower price of toys before Christmas

Fears are mounting of a dismal Christmas for America's shopping malls after a slew of poor trading updates from leading retailers including Wal-Mart, the clothes chain Gap and the discount store Target.

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, told Wall Street yesterday that its like-for-like sales rose by a modest 0.3% last month and that it expected its November figures to be "approximately flat". It intends to cut the price of toys and electronics to stimulate festive sales.
Its downbeat tone was replicated by many of its rivals, fuelling concerns that consumers are feeling the pinch from a rapidly weakening housing market.

Richard Iley, senior US economist at BNP Paribas in New York, said: "This is an economy slowing down rapidly as the housing market loses pace." He said there could be some "short-term tailwinds" from falling petrol prices but further ahead, the outlook was dark: "The tectonic plates of the economy are shifting and that spells very gloomy news for the American consumer."

The data firm Thomson Financial said that of 50 American retailers reporting October data, 28 have missed expectations and only 22 have beaten forecasts.

The struggling clothes chain Gap was among the poorest performers with a 7% fall in like-for-like takings despite efforts to revive its fortunes with a back-to-basics autumn collection. Target had a 3.9% rise but missed estimates of a 4.2% increase. Chico's, a specialist in clothes for older women, reported a 4.1% fall in same-store sales, prompting a 10% drop in its shares.

There was better news at the top end of the market with solid sales rises for the department store firm Nordstrom, the designer boutique owner Saks and the trendy teenage specialist Aéropostale.

Adrianne Shapira, a retail analyst at Goldman Sachs, said there were signs of a "considerable disparity between high-end and low-end consumers" but added: "People will be pushing some panic buttons if this softness continues."

Growth in the US economy has plummeted in the third quarter to its slowest for more than three years, sparking speculation among analysts that the Federal Reserve may cut interest rates before too long. The economy grew at an annualised rate of only 1.6% in the third quarter, down from 2.6% in the previous three months. This was the weakest rate since the first quarter of 2003, when growth was 1.2%. Recent data showed that new housebuilding fell 17.4% over the same period - the biggest drop for 15 years.

Julian Jessop, of Capital Economics, said he saw a 30% chance of a recession. "While too much should not be read into individual reports, the retail news today fits in with other elements of the economy, such as consumer confidence, which has been disappointing," he said. "Considering oil prices have fallen and the strength of the stock market, confidence should be very strong but the fact it is not suggests there's something else going on."

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Caterpillar: "pockets of acute weakness" in U.S. in '07

Fri Nov 3, 2006

LAFAYETTE, Indiana - A top executive at Caterpillar Inc., the U.S. heavy equipment maker, said late Thursday he believes 2007 will be a year of "significant slowdown" in the U.S. housing market.

But Jim Froeschle, the general manager of Caterpillar's strategic support group and the company's in-house economist, said he was optimistic any effect the real-estate slowdown had on the wider economy would constitute a momentary pause in U.S. growth rather than the beginning of a prolonged slump.
The housing slowdown is one of two "pockets of acute weakness" Froeschle said Caterpillar is girding for in the coming year, one in which it has already warned it expects to see revenue rise no more than 5 percent -- and perhaps flatline entirely -- after years of double-digit gains. Caterpillar makes a variety of earth-moving equipment used by builders.

Speaking late Thursday at a presentation for analysts at the company's large engine factory here, Froeschle said the United States would experience a "significant slowdown" in the housing market in the coming year.

He also warned that new clean-air rules governing on-highway diesel engines that take effect in 2007 would make that business -- an important niche for Caterpillar -- "a clear area of weakness."

The reason is that many trucking companies are refreshing their fleets this year, ahead of the new rules, which will require expensive new engines. That's pulling sales forward -- but it is also widely expected to result in a sharp drop in sales next year.

Even so, Froeschle said Caterpillar was optimistic that the worldwide economic recovery had "lots of legs left" and that the current environment -- low inflation, low interest rates and strong corporate profits, among other things -- represented a "near ideal climate" for companies like Caterpillar.

He predicted that most of the world was poised for faster growth over the next few years than it experienced either in the 1990s or the first half of the current decade.

But he cautioned that Caterpillar's rosy view was predicated on the assumption that the U.S. Federal Reserve would begin to cut interest rates in 2007.

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Air Force said to seek $50 bln emergency funds

By Andrea Shalal-Esa
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Air Force is asking the Pentagon's leadership for a staggering $50 billion in emergency funding for fiscal 2007 -- an amount equal to nearly half its annual budget, defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute said on Tuesday.

The request is expected to draw criticism on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are increasingly worried about the huge sums being sought "off budget" to fund wars, escaping the more rigorous congressional oversight of regular budgets.
Another source familiar with the Air Force plans said the extra funds would help pay to transport growing numbers of U.S. soldiers being killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thompson, who has close ties to U.S. military officials, said the big funding request was fueled by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England. England told the services in a October 25 memo to include the "longer war on terror," not just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in their emergency requests.

"This amount of money is so much bigger than the Air Force would normally request ... it hints at a basic breakdown in the process for planning and funding war costs," said Thompson.

He said the Air Force had identified $30 billion just in past war-related costs that were not approved by the Pentagon.

The Air Force's proposed emergency budget is nearly half the $105.9 billion it requested as its total base budget for fiscal year 2007, which began on October 1.

The Air Force said it asked Pentagon officials for $17.4 billion in emergency war funds in August, but was now submitting "additional requirements to cover costs for the longer war against terror," based on England's memo.

Spokeswoman Maj. Morshe Araujo gave no details on the new request, saying it would be completed only next week.

She said the service had already mapped out an expected supplemental funding request of $50 billion for fiscal 2008.

The Army, which got the lion's share of an initial $70 billion supplemental budget passed by Congress last month, is asking for more than $80 billion in additional funds for the second half of fiscal 2007, according to published reports. The Navy is also expected to seek funds for the Marine Corps.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will decide on the supplemental funding requests on November 15, according to the England memo, reported by Inside Defense last week.

In the memo, England said the emergency funding requests should include reset costs for combat losses, accelerated wear and necessary repairs for equipment, or upgrades to newer models when repairs were not economically feasible.

But Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and some other lawmakers are alarmed about continued use of "emergency" funding requests when the war in Iraq has been under way for over three years. Such requests should be reserved for true emergency situations, they argue.

With the latest bill passed last month, Congress has approved about $507 billion in spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, under some 13 "emergency" spending requests, according to the Congressional Research Service.

That compares to two supplemental requests made during 11 years of fighting in Vietnam several decades ago, and just one request for the Korean War, according to a congressional aide.

Thompson said Rumsfeld was clearly challenging Congress.

"Rumsfeld is playing budgetary chicken with Capitol Hill. Congress is saying it's time to stop doing budgeting outside the regular process, and the secretary is saying, 'Well, give us the money we need to defend the nation'," Thompson said.

In recent months, top military brass have called for more defense dollars, arguing that current spending as a percentage of gross domestic product is lower than during other wars.

Army officials say they can accurately calculate war costs this far into the conflict, but the White House does not want those costs included in the base budget.

Defense consultant Jim McAleese said the White House took exception to a clause in the 2007 defense spending law, which required the Pentagon to include all foreseeable Iraq and Afghanistan war costs within its 2008 budget.

Given that, he predicted the Bush administration could try to ram through a 2007 emergency budget during the congressional "lame duck" session in November and December.

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Record number of insolvencies in UK

Press Association
Friday November 3, 2006 12:38 PM

A record number of people went insolvent during the summer in an indication that the UK debt crisis is worsening, new figures showed.

Statistics from the Government's Insolvency Service revealed that a total of 27,644 people went bankrupt or took out an individual voluntary arrangement between July and September.

Broken down, the figures show 15,416 people went bankrupt while 12,228 people opted for an IVA.
The combined figure was an increase on the 26,021 people who went insolvent in the previous quarter.

Experts believe the figures could have already reached a parity, with IVAs boosted by aggressing advertising by debt management firms and increased pressure on household budgets.

The hike in IVAs increases concern held by many that they are being "over sold" to people who would be better off looking at other ways of dealing with debt.

Malcolm Hurlston, chairman of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, said: "We are concerned by the narrowing gap between the number of bankruptcies and IVAs.

"If the current trend continues the number of IVAs will overtake the number of bankruptcy next year and that is an indication that the IVA solution is becoming more popular than is good for people."

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The Mystery of the Disappearing Bills: Assault on the Euro?

November 2, 2006

The euro is supposed to be one of the world's most reliable currencies. So why are euro bills literally disintegrating in people's hands?

Since its introduction, the euro has served as a remarkably solid common currency for much of Western Europe. But lately, euro notes have proven to be less reliable -- indeed, they are disintegrating right in the hands of their holders. Introducing the case of the vanishing euros.

Since the first decomposed €20 bill was reported by a state bank in Berlin on June 21, a total of 17 cities have sounded the alarm about disintegrating euros. Authorities in a number of German states as well as the European and German central banks are now investigating.
According to the mass-circulation Bild newspaper, chemical experts believe "the destroyed bank notes came in contact with sulfuric acid, which led to the observed disintegration." They believe the bills were somehow coated -- either deliberately or through a manufacturing error -- with sulfur salt. Contact with perspiration (like sweaty hands) can trigger a chemical reaction that turns sulfur salt into corrosive sulfuric acid over time.

Though the authenticity of the bills has been proven based on their serial numbers, officials have ruled out the possibility of a production error at Germany's federal printing plant.

That's what has people scratching their heads. "Maybe a racketeer is behind all of this, someone who wants to prove to us that he can destroy the euro," an unnamed European Central Bank source told Bild. "But so far, no one has announced anything in this regard."

It could have been anything -- even an accident. "We still haven't been able to determine whether this was an unintentional chemical spill or whether it was a conscious manipulation," a spokesman from the Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, said.

In the meantime, the euro bills continue to disintegrate and officials are baffled.

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SNCF train strike set to start next Tuesday

PARIS, Nov 2, 2006 (AFP)

French train workers are to hold a strike early next week that looks likely to disrupt national rail services, according to plans given Thursday by the six unions organising the stoppage.
The strike will run from late Tuesday to early Thursday next week, the unions said.

The workers are pushing for better job security and pay.

France's state rail company SNCF said it would advise passengers about the extent of the disruption on Monday.

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Spanish court rules free music downloads are legal for own use

Friday November 3, 2006
The Guardian

A Spanish judge has dealt a blow to the global music industry after ruling that there is nothing illegal about downloading music for free from the internet as long as it is for personal use.

The decision, the first of its kind in Europe, opens the way for Spain's estimated 16 million internet users to swap music through online sites. "This is extremely unusual," said a spokesman for the international recording industry body IFPI, as the judgment was announced yesterday.

Judge Paz Aldecoa threw out a case against an unnamed 48-year-old man who offered and downloaded digital versions of music on the internet, according to Spanish press reports. He also sent selections of music recorded on CDs out to people in the post, prosecutors claimed.
The judge ruled that, under Spanish law, a person who downloaded music for personal use could not be punished or branded a criminal. "That would imply criminalising socially admitted and widely practised behaviour where the aim is not to gain wealth illegally but to obtain private copies," she said in her judgment.

"If the purpose of the copy is not to gain wealth there is no way that it can be considered illegal," Victor Domíngo, head of Spanish internet user's association Internautas, told the Abc newspaper yesterday. "It would be a lot different if someone downloaded in order to sell on."

But Antonio Guisasola, from Spain's Promusicae recording industry federation, said the judge had got it wrong. "We have already appealed against the decision," he said. "Peer-to-peer [P2P] sharing is not legal in Spain."

Mr Guisasola, whose federation had backed a prosecution case that demanded a two-year prison sentence and €25,000 (£16,700) in fines and compensation, explained it had tried to prove the man was selling the music he sent out on CDs, rather than just distributing it for free.

Even though it had failed to prove that he was selling, Mr Guisasola said his federation was still convinced "private use" was not a legal excuse for downloading music for free. "I have been with both the justice minister and the culture minister today and they are both quite clear that peer to peer is illegal," he said.

This was even more clearly so in a case where music was being shared by more than one person, he said. "People should understand that we all have to respect people who create," justice minister Juan Fernando Lopéz Aguilar said yesterday. "These are people who have the right to control the use of their literary or artistic creations in all media."

But the judge insisted Spain's intellectual property law protected people against being prosecuted if they could prove private use. Spain is drawing up a new law that is likely to strike out the existing right to "private copies" of material.

The licensing of digital content has become a major issue for the entertainment industry. The Financial Times today reported that Google has been offering up to $100m to media companies including CBS, Viacom, Time Warner and News Corp to license their content to the video website YouTube, which it bought last month for $1.65bn. Analysts have warned that YouTube could be targeted by lawsuits for carrying copyrighted material.

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Russia hits back at pipeline diplomacy

By Tom Miles
Thu Nov 2, 2006

MOSCOW - Russia's Foreign Ministry hit back at the State Department on Thursday after a U.S. official warned Germany against tying itself too closely to Russian gas pipelines.

"We will not talk about how correct it is for a representative of the USA to take it upon himself to give Germany instructions on how to manage its partnership with Russia in an area as important as gas," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In an interview published in the Financial Times Deutschland on Monday, Matthew Bryza, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for the Caucasus and southern Europe, said Germany could be making a mistake by relying too much on Russia for its gas.

Germany's BASF and E.ON are minority shareholders in the new Nord Stream pipeline that will run from gas fields in Russia, under the Baltic Sea, to Germany's north.

"That project simply raises the question what diversification means when it comes to gas supply," Bryza said.

Germany is already the top European customer of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom. It supplies a quarter of Europe's gas and its share of the market is expected to rise in coming decades as North Sea supplies begin to peter out.

But the huge firm, the world's largest gas company, tarnished its reputation at the start of this year by cutting gas supplies to Ukraine, the key transit route to Europe, because of a price dispute.

"If you live in Germany you do not want to go through what happened last winter with Ukraine," Bryza said in the interview. "I wonder as a U.S. official how much diversification anybody can develop by having more pipelines into the same supplier."

President Vladimir Putin has said Germany could become a gas distribution hub for Europe, a vision that worries some of the European Union's newest members, who rely on the bloc's collective bargaining power to get a fair deal from Gazprom.

The Russian Foreign Ministry statement said U.S. officials had previously criticized the Blue Stream pipeline supplying Russian gas to Europe via Turkey, as if the link meant Turkey and Europe were falling into dependence on Russia.

It said reality had been quite different, and the success of the pipeline meant there were now discussions about expanding it.

"Unfortunately, the impression is being created that U.S. opposition first to Blue Stream and now to the Nord Stream is not based on worries about Europe's energy security, but on the principle professed by some American officials -- that a good gas pipeline is one that skirts around Russia."

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Wife Orders Hit on Russian Lottery Winner


The angry Russian woman from the small town in the Caucasus hired a criminal to kill her ex-husband who had won a million in a lottery, the News.ru website reported Friday.
48-year-old retired military officer Alexei Rykov had bought just one lottery ticket as a present for his own birthday and the ticket proved to be lucky - the man won one million rubles (about $37,000). He used the money to buy an apartment (until then the family was renting) and a car.

After a while his wife Irina Rykova started to suspect the winner of hiding some of the money from her. The woman and her mother made Alexei's life so miserable that he decided to divorce. The divorce didn't stop the woman, however, and she kept claiming the money.

The ex-wife even hired a man to extort money from Alexei, instructing the thug to kill him in case of refusal. Alexei turned to the police and the racketeer was detained while receiving marked money.

At the trial, the detained man denied any connections with former Mrs. Rykov and she acted at the trial only as a witness. Alexei Rykov said he did not want his ex-wife to be jailed. "Whatever she has done, she remains the mother of my children," he said.

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Iraq: A Work of Art

Iraq a 'work of art in progress' says US general after 49 die

Friday November 3, 2006
The Guardian

An American general in Baghdad called Iraq a "work of art" in progress yesterday in one of the most extraordinary attempts by the US military leadership to put a positive spin on the worsening violence.

On a day in which 49 people were killed or found dead around the country, Major General William Caldwell, the chief military spokesman, argued that Iraq was in transition, a process that was "not always a pleasant thing to watch.
"Every great work of art goes through messy phases while it is in transition. A lump of clay can become a sculpture. Blobs of paint become paintings which inspire," Maj Gen Caldwell told journalists in Baghdad's fortified green zone.

"The final test of our efforts will not be the isolated incidents that you report daily, but the country that the Iraqis build." Perceptions of how the war is going have become a central factor in next Tuesday's congressional elections, which could determine President George Bush's freedom of manoeuvre in his last two years in office.

Maj Gen Caldwell was speaking after a series of public disagreements between Washington and the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, over proposed benchmarks for his government's performance, and over a recent US raid on a Shia district of Baghdad.

Mr Maliki had also ordered the removal of some US military checkpoints in the capital set up in the hunt for a missing US soldier, who was identified yesterday as Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie, an Iraqi-American working as an interpreter who was seized by gunmen last month while visiting his Iraqi wife in Baghdad.

Maj Gen Caldwell described friction between the Baghdad government and Washington as "misunderstandings". He said that the death toll in the conflict had dropped by nearly a quarter in the past week, but conceded that October as a whole had been worse than earlier months. The Associated Press counted 1,272 reported Iraqi deaths in that month alone.

Comment: Hey! They're only Iraqis! And didn't Picasso produce a wonderful work of art about something similar?

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Cuba Denounces US Hypocrisy

Moscow, Nov 2 (Prensa Latina)

Speaking before hundreds of students and professors in the Russian capital Thursday, Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban Legislature, denounced the US double-standard in its so-called crusade against terrorism.

In his conference to academicians of the University of Economy and Commerce, Alarcon recalled that Washington, ostensibly to fight terrorism, has left thousands of dead in Afghanistan and Iraq.
However, the case of the Cuban Five, antiterrorist fighters serving unjust sentences in the US, really reveals the manipulation of this issue, he asserted.

The Cuban official pointed out that the Cuban Five were simply trying to prevent possible terrorist attacks, and thus human losses, in their nation organized in Miami.

They did not use weapons, they did not damage any property or break any law, except that they did not advise the US government in advance of their mission, he said.

But that would have been ridiculous, as the US authorities support and promote terrorism, as was proven in this case, emphasized the president of the Cuban National Assembly.

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An Abu Ghraib Offender Heads Back to Iraq

Thursday, Nov. 02, 2006

As if the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal weren't bad enough for America's image in the Middle East, now it may appear to much of the world that one of the men implicated in the scandal is returning to the scene of the crime.

The U.S. military tells TIME that one of the soldiers convicted for his role in Abu Ghraib, having served his sentence, has just been sent back to serve in Iraq.
Sgt. Santos Cardona, 32, a military policeman from Fullerton, Calif., served in 2003 and 2004 at Abu Ghraib as a military dog handler. After pictures of Cardona using the animal to threaten Iraqis were made public, he was convicted in May of dereliction of duty and aggravated assault, the equivalent of a felony in the U.S. civilian justice system. The prosecution demanded prison time, but a military judge instead imposed a fine and reduction in rank. Though Cardona was not put behind bars, he was also required to serve 90 days of hard labor at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

Before Cardona boarded a plane at Pope Air Force Base this week for the long flight to his unit's Kuwait staging area, he told close friends and family that he dreaded returning to Iraq.

One family member described him as "depressed," though stoic about his fate. According to a close friend with whom Cardona spoke just before his departure, the soldier is fearful that he remains a marked man, forever linked to the horrors of Abu Ghraib - he appears in at least one al-Qaeda propaganda video depicting the abuse - and that he and comrades serving with him in Iraq could become targets for terrorists. To make matters worse, his 23rd MP Company has been selected to train Iraqi police, which have been the target of frequent assassination attempts and, according to US intelligence are heavily infiltrated by insurgents. Attempts to reach Cardona directly were unsuccessful.

But Cardona's physical well-being is not the only issue of concern connected to his transfer. According to former senior U.S. military officers and others interviewed by TIME, sending a convicted abuser back to Iraq to train local police sends the wrong signal at a time when the U.S. is trying to bolster the beleagured government in Baghdad, where the horrors of Abu Ghraib are far from forgotten. "If news of this deployment is accurate, it represents appallingly bad judgment," says retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who commanded a division in the first Gulf War. "The symbolic message perceived in Iraq will likely be that the U.S. is simply insensitive to the abuse of their prisoners."

Retired Major General John Batiste was likewise surprised at the decision to send a soldier convicted of abuse at Abu Ghraib back to Iraq. His only comment: "You just have to wonder how far up the chain of command this decision was made."

Army public affairs specialist Major James Crabtree, who is assigned to the 18th Airborne Corps at Ft. Bragg, which has responsibility for Cardona's unit, said that Cardona, is a military policeman whose " unit happens to be deployed to Iraq, so he went with them." Crabtree said the Army commander overseeing the transfer of Cardona and other members of his unit said "there were no issues associated with [Cardona's new] deployment." He added that although a military judge ordered a reduction in rank for Cardona following his court martial, Cardona has since regained his previous rank of Sergeant.

The military jury acquitted Cardona of seven charges, including alleged attempts to harass a second prisoner with his dog. Cardona's lawyers argued that their client's actions at Abu Ghraib were condoned, if not approved in each case, by officers in charge of the prison, as well as senior officials in the Army command.

Shortly before he left for Iraq, Cardona told a close friend and family members that he was returning against his will. "He loves the Army and has deep respect for the chain of command," said a family member, who asked not to be identified by name, but who described Cardona as feeling duty-bound to accept his Iraqi deployment. The friend said that Cardona had described trying to attach another soldier's name tags to his uniform in hopes of concealing his identity from Iraqis, but was told by an officer to desist. According to this friend, Cardona said he had told at least one of his superiors that he feared for his safety in Iraq, especially because of his presence in the al-Qaeda video, but was told by an officer, "We need bodies [in Iraq]" and that he shouldn't worry about it.

Cardona's fears may be well founded. The Abu Ghraib scandal is still a fresh subject in Iraq and elsewhere in the Muslim world. The episode is still used in Jihadi propaganda, and is featured on Islamist websites. As for Cardona, his name can be referenced almost instantly on the Internet, along with news of his conviction and photos of him holding his large tan Belgian Malinois dog, as an Iraqi prisoner cowers against a concrete wall at Abu Ghraib prison. Dogs, which are considered unclean by many Muslims, have been used in U.S. detention facilities in both Iraq and Guantanamo to intimidate prisoners.

When the recently slain terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi executed American Nicholas Berg, he went out of his way to specify that the gruesome murder was an act of revenge for crimes committed by the U.S. military against Muslims at the prison. Both Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, use events at the prison to explain their calls for Holy War against the U.S. "Al-Qaeda and other Jihadis still cite Abu Ghraib to demonstrate what they call U.S. crimes against Muslims," notes Rita Katz, director and co-founder of the SITE Institute, who has made a study of terrorist videos and other propaganda. "Some of the videos actually feature the dogs used at Abu Ghraib."

After his conviction, Cardona's dog was removed from his care and control. But if the Army has its way, the former Abu Ghraib MP may soon be training Iraqi police in how to maintain security and proper conduct amid the country's chaos.

Comment: It doesn't "appear" that he is returning to the scene of the crime; he IS returning to the scene of the crime after being convicted of "dereliction of duty and aggravated assault, the equivalent of a felony in the U.S. civilian justice system".

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Ex-soldier charged with Iraqi girl's rape death


A former US soldier has been charged over the rape and death of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murders of three of her relatives.

Former army private Steven Green, 21, was charged in Kentucky with murder, aggravated sexual assault and conspiracy, among other offences, in the federal indictment. If convicted, he could face life in prison or the death penalty.
Green's defence lawyer, Patrick Bouldin, said that he had not seen the indictment but that his client intended to plead not guilty and "firmly stands behind that plea".

The incident occurred on March 12 in Mahmoudiya, Iraq, a village about 20 miles south of Baghdad, where Green was stationed with the 101st Airborne Division's 502nd Infantry Regiment.

The indictment says Green and others raped the girl and burned her body to conceal their crimes. It also alleges that Green and four others stationed at a checkpoint nearby killed her father, mother and six-year-old sister.

Green was discharged from the US Army in May 2006 for a "personality disorder", according to military investigators, and will be tried in US District Court. Green's lawyer said he was in custody but would not reveal where.

Nine soldiers from the 101st Airborne are accused of wartime atrocities stemming from the division's year-long deployment, which ended in September.

Comment: See here for the details of this despicable and psychopathic crime.

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Revealed: U.S. Soldier Killed Herself After Objecting to Interrogation Techniques

By Greg Mitchell
Editor and Publisher
(November 01, 2006)

The true stories of how American troops, killed in Iraq, actually died keep spilling out this week. Now we learn, thanks to a reporter's FOIA request, that one of the first women to die in Iraq shot and killed herself after objecting to harsh "interrogation techniques."

The true stories of how American troops, killed in Iraq, actually died keep spilling out this week. On Tuesday, we explored the case of Kenny Stanton Jr., murdered last month by our allies, the Iraqi police, though the military didn't make that known at the time. Now we learn that one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq died by her own hand after objecting to interrogation techniques used on prisoners.

She was Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native serving with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal-Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a "non-hostile weapons discharge."
She was only the third American woman killed in Iraq, so her death drew wide press attention. A "non-hostile weapons discharge" leading to death is not unusual in Iraq, often quite accidental, so this one apparently raised few eyebrows. The Arizona Republic, three days after her death, reported that Army officials "said that a number of possible scenarios are being considered, including Peterson's own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging, or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian."

But in this case, a longtime radio and newspaper reporter named Kevin Elston, unsatisfied with the public story, decided to probe deeper in 2005, "just on a hunch," he told E&P today. He made "hundreds of phone calls" to the military and couldn't get anywhere, so he filed a Freedom of Information Act request. When the documents of the official investigation of her death arrived, they contained bombshell revelations. Here's what the Flagstaff public radio station, KNAU, where Elston now works, reported yesterday:

"Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed. ...".

She was was then assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards, and sent to suicide prevention training. "But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle," the documents disclose.

The Army talked to some of Peterson's colleagues. Asked to summarize their comments, Elston told E&P: "The reactions to the suicide were that she was having a difficult time separating her personal feelings from her professional duties. That was the consistent point in the testimonies, that she objected to the interrogation techniques, without describing what those techniques were."

Elston said that the documents also refer to a suicide note found on her body, which suggested that she found it ironic that suicide prevention training had taught her how to commit suicide. He has now filed another FOIA request for a copy of the actual note.

Peterson's father, Rich Peterson, has said: "Alyssa volunteered to change assignments with someone who did not want to go to Iraq."

Peterson, a devout Mormon, had graduated from Flagstaff High School and earned a psychology degree from Northern Arizona University on a military scholarship. She was trained in interrogation techniques at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and was sent to the Middle East in 2003.

The Arizona Republic article had opened: "Friends say Army Spc. Alyssa R. Peterson of Flagstaff always had an amazing ability to learn foreign languages.

"Peterson became fluent in Dutch even before she went on an 18-month Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission to the Netherlands in the late 1990s. Then, she cruised through her Arabic courses at the military's Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., shortly after enlisting in July 2001.

"With that under her belt, she was off to Iraq to conduct interrogations and translate enemy documents."

On a "fallen heroes" message board on the Web, Mary W. Black of Flagstaff wrote, "The very day Alyssa died, her Father was talking to me at the Post Office where we both work, in Flagstaff, Ariz., telling me he had a premonition and was very worried about his daughter who was in the military on the other side of the world. The next day he was notified while on the job by two army officers. Never has a daughter been so missed or so loved than she was and has been by her Father since that fateful September day in 2003. He has been the most broken man I have ever seen."

An A.W. from Los Angeles wrote: "I met Alyssa only once during a weekend surfing trip while she was at DLI. Although our encounter was brief, she made a lasting impression. We did not know each other well, but I was blown away by her genuine, sincere, sweet nature. I don't know how else to put it-- she was just nice. ... I was devastated to here of her death. I couldn't understand why it had to happen to such a wonderful person."

Finally, Daryl K. Tabor of Ashland City, Tenn., who had met her as a journalist in Iraq for the Kentucky New Era paper in Hopkinsville: "Since learning of her death, I cannot get the image of the last time I saw her out of my mind. We were walking out of the tent in Kuwait to be briefed on our flights into Iraq as I stepped aside to let her out first. Her smile was brighter than the hot desert sun. Peterson was the only soldier I interacted with that I know died in Iraq. I am truly sorry I had to know any."

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Five more US soldiers dead in Iraq

by Dave Clark
Fri Nov 3, 2006

BAGHDAD - Five more American soldiers have died in
Iraq, the US military announced, four days before voting in congressional elections that have been dominated by controversy over the war.

The American military also killed around 13 "terrorists" south of Baghdad, while three Iraqis, including a tribal sheikh and a mosque imam were murdered by gunmen in separate incidents.
Three US soldiers were killed in a single attack on Thursday afternoon when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Baghdad, the war-torn capital where 15,000 US personnel are battling to contain a vicious sectarian conflict.

On the same day, a marine was killed in Anbar province in the west of the country, the heartland of the Al-Qaeda militant group in Iraq, a US statement said, while confirming another death "due to non-combat causes" on Wednesday.

The deaths brought to 2,822 the number of US troops to have died in Iraq since the March 2003 US invasion, and the mounting toll gives more ammunition to critics of
President George W. Bush's strategy.

Daily Iraqi civilian casualties from the war have fallen by about a fifth since the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, but they still far outstrip US dead and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government remains fragile.

Baghdad seemed quiet on Friday morning as the bitterly divided Sunni and Shiite communities prepared to head to their separate mosques to mark the weekly Muslim day of prayers under a total vehicle curfew.

But reports of unrest filtered in from other parts of the country.

US forces backed by air support approached two buildings near Mahmudiyah, a short distance south of Baghdad, where the suspected Al-Qaeda militants were hiding. They called on those inside to surrender, the military said.

When the suspects refused to do so, the US troops entered the building and found five armed suspects, one of them in a explosive vest. "Coalition forces engaged and killed these five terrorists," a military statement said Friday.

Then, approximately eight more suspects attempted to flee the scene and were shot dead by air and ground forces, it said, adding the assault was aimed at capturing an Al-Qaeda operative.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Nahab Omran from the Shiite Bani Hassan tribe in the Kafal district near the southern town of Hilla was killed by gunmen, police said.

Jassim Mohammed Ahmed, imam of the northern city of Kirkuk's biggest Sunni mosque was killed by gunmen in the city's Gharnata neighbourhood.

A fuel station employee was also killed west of Kirkuk by gunmen.

Civilian deaths run at around 100 per day, according to the latest UN figures, although the Iraqi government now refuses to release up-to-date tolls.

Against such a backdrop, and with unexplained gunfire heard late into the night in central Baghdad on Thursday, Bush's Republican party is facing a tough poll challenge from its Democratic opposition in Tuesday's vote.

The Democrats need to win 15 seats to capture the 435-seat House of Representatives and six seats to take the 100-seat Senate.

If they do so, Bush faces the prospect of finishing the last two years of his mandate as a lame duck president, hobbled by congressional inquiries into the conduct of the war and legislative obstruction.

A New York Times/CBS poll released Thursday showed only 29 percent of US voters approve of the way Bush is managing the war, equalling his lowest ratings from six months ago.

Bush has tried to counter Democratic charges that he has lost control of the conflict with an eleventh-hour campaign tour to bolster core Republican support and reverse opinion polls that show his party losing.

"The Democrats have no plan for victory, they have no idea how to win," Bush told supporters in Montana. "Harsh criticism is not a plan for victory. You can't win the war unless you're willing to fight the war."

The current US plan for Iraq is to support Maliki's coalition and build up Iraq's beleaguered security forces so that, within 12 to 18 months, they are ready to fight the insurgency without US military support.

This strategy has been knocked sideways, however, by the eruption of a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites in parallel to the rebellion, and by shortcomings in the US-led reconstruction effort.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Thursday he did not envisage US-led forces withdrawing from his country before two to three years, despite Maliki's call for them to be ready to hand over to Iraqi forces within six months.

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Al-Qaida leader killed in western Iraq

www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-02 21:02:22

BAGHDAD, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- An American aircraft raided the car of a mid-ranking leader of al-Qaida organization in Iraq, killing him and his driver late on Wednesday in eastern Ramadi, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

Rafa Abdul Salam Hamud al-Ithawi, also named as Abu Taha, is known as "the Emir of Shamiyya" area in al-Anbar province, the military said in a statement.
Ithawi frequently "harbored foreign fighters who entered Iraq." The statement said the U.S. aircraft used "precision laser guided munitions," when targeted the vehicle carrying Abu Taha and his driver.

Al-Ithawi's death has caused great damage to Al-Qaida organization in Iraq, it added.

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Iraqi president: foreign forces should remain for 2-3 years

www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-03 09:04:45

PARIS, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Iraqi President Jala Talabani said here on Thursday that he could not envisage the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq for at least two or three years.

Iraq needed time, "some years, not 30 years," for Iraqi forces to be capable of ensuring the security in Iraq, Talabani told a conference in the French Institute of International Relations in Paris on Thursday.
"I personally think that two or three years would be enough to rebuild our forces and to say 'bye bye and thank you' to our friends," said the president, who arrived in Paris late Wednesday for a three-day official visit.

Talabani's comments came after the remarks by the U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, that the Iraqi armed forces would be able to safeguard the country within 12 to 18 months.

Talabani also expressed his wish to turn over a page of France's disagreement with the U.S.-led war which broke out in 2003 and toppled Saddam Hussein's regime.

"The goal of this visit is to endow a new momentum in the bilateral relations," Talabani said, appealing to French people to look at his country with "a new eye."

Talabani was set to meet with French President Jacques Chirac later in the day.

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Zany Zionists

19-hour standoff in Gaza ends as Palestinian militants escape mosque

Last Updated: Friday, November 3, 2006 | 5:24 AM ET
The Associated Press

A 19-hour standoff between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen holed up inside a mosque in northern Gaza ended Friday morning after all the gunmen fled, the army and Palestinians said.
The militants inside the Beit Hanoun mosque escaped under cover of a protest by Palestinian women outside, the army said.

One of the protesters was killed by army fire earlier Friday, Palestinian witnesses and hospital officials said.

Troops and militants traded fire overnight at the mosque, with soldiers throwing stun grenades and bulldozers destroying one of the building's outer walls to pressure militants inside to surrender.

Beit Hanoun has been the scene of fierce fighting since Wednesday, when the army began an offensive against Palestinian rocket teams. More than 20 Palestinians have been killed in and around the town, most of them militants.

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2-yr old Palestinian released from Israeli prison!

2 November 2006
Sabbah's Blog

The attached are from our local Al-Quds newspaper on Nov 1, 2006. They are from a story about a 2-yr old girl who was released from an Israeli prison near Ramallah. Her name is Aiysha, which in Arabic means "life."

Aiysha's mother gave birth to her while detained in an Israeli prison. Aiysha was released two days ago, her mother is still being detained under "Administrative Detention," in other words, no charge, no trial, nothing...just a unilateral Israeli decision to detain her for 6 months at a time, already renewed 4 times!

Two year Palestinian girl just released from Israeli prison

This poor baby. She knows nothing in life but the walls of her mother's prison cell. She only knows her father from visits, when they were possible. She has never seen a road, a city, grass, trees, a real bed, her own bedroom, a park, a real meal, friends, real toys, etc, etc.

I weep for this girl and pity the father as he is bound to be faced with her first question, "Where's mom?," and her mom, who sleeps tonight, alone.

May all the strength of those in solidarity with us around the world allow Aiysha to grow up without hate in her heart, and may all the Israeli soldiers that stood guard over Aiysha for the past 2-years and remained silent wake up. [Hat tip: Sam]

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Ex-Israeli PM Sharon rushed to intensive care

November 3, 2006

JERUSALEM - Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in comatose for 10 months, has been rushed to intensive care due to a fresh deterioration in his fragile health.

"Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was transferred this morning from the Sheba Medical Center department of respiratory rehabilitation to its intensive care unit, due to a weakening of his condition," the hospital announced Friday.
"Sharon contracted an infection that is affecting his heart and will receive intensive treatment to combat the infection. At this point, his condition is stable," added the hospital, providing no further comment.

The former statesman, who oversaw Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 following a 38-year occupation of the Palestinian territory, dramatically disappeared from public life after suffering a massive stroke in January.

Friday's statement was the first public update on the 78-year-old Sharon's health since August, when he was removed after yet another spell in intensive care having come down with pneumonia and kidney problems.

Sharon, who was elected premier in early 2001, suffered a massive brain haemorrhage on January 4 and was moved from a Jerusalem hospital in May to Tel Hashomer, a facility on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, for long-term treatment.

His stroke signalled a dramatic end to the career of the former general who had been on course at the time for re-election as head of the brand-new Kadima party he created just two months before collapsing.

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Fresh airstrikes on northern Gaza kill four militants

www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-03 05:39:51

GAZA, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- Four Palestinian militants were killed and five others wounded on Thursday night in two separate airstrikes carried out by Israeli army aircraft in northern Gaza Strip, medics and eyewitnesses reported.

Eyewitnesses said that an Israeli reconnaissance drone fired one missile at a group of Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas)militants east of Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, killing one militant and wounded three others.
Half an hour later, another drone missile was fired at another group of militants in the same area, killing three Palestinian militants and wounded two others, they added.

The latest deaths brought the total number of the Palestinians killed on Thursday to at least nine.

Earlier on Thursday evening, a senior female security officer was killed in the town of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers' gunfire, said Palestinian security sources.

Mes'eda Hweihi, 40, an officer in the secret intelligence and also a Fatah movement activist, was shot dead as she was trying to help militants who were surrounded by Israeli soldiers into one of the mosques in the town.

On Thursday morning, four Palestinians were killed, three were shot dead by Israeli army snipers, and one 75-year-old man died of fear due to a severe heart attack, said Palestinian medics.

The Israeli army forces stormed early on Wednesday morning the town of Beit Hanoun in a large-scale military operation, the Israeli army had called "the clouds of autumn".

Palestinian security sources said that the Israeli army forces backed by dozens of tanks, bulldozers and armored vehicles covered by helicopters and fighting drones had occupied the whole town.

Palestinian medics said that seven Palestinians were killed on Wednesday, most of them were militants, adding that the death toll since the beginning of the operation hit to 15 killed and more than 100 wounded.

Resident said the Israeli army imposed a curfew on the whole town and ordered every male aged between 16 and 45 to gather into one of the schools in the town.

They added that many of them were interrogated and beaten by the soldiers, while at least 100 people were arrested. "The school turned into a detention camp," said the residents.

The Israeli army said the aim of the operation into northern Gaza Strip is aiming at reining on Palestinian militant groups who are firing homemade rockets round the clock on Israeli communities in southern Israel.

Different militant groups claimed responsibility on Thursday afternoon for launching several homemade rockets at Israel. Three Israelis were injured earlier Thursday by the shrapnel of a homemade rocket fired from Gaza.

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Airport workers stripped of security passes

Friday November 3, 2006
The Guardian

Baggage handlers at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport have been stripped of security passes because of suspected terror links.

Jacques Lebrot, who oversees the airport, told Agence France Presse that 72 workers had been denied access to sensitive areas because of ties to "potentially terrorist spheres of influence". He said most were linked to radical circles and one had been in contact with someone who had been in contact with the shoe-bomber Richard Reid.

Earlier Mr Lebrot said handlers had lost their clearance because they had travelled to Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Comment: Hmmm.. Richard Reid, the patsy "shoe bomber" (doesn't get any more ridiculous than that folks), who was on a flight from Paris to Boston when he was spotted. Who handled the security at Paris where Reid boarded the plane?
"A security firm at the Paris airport told French authorities on two different days that the shoe bomb suspect should be screened further, the president of the firm told CNN Tuesday. Lior Zucker, president and CEO of the security firm ICTS, said his security officers recommended Friday and Saturday that French authorities take a closer look at the suspect now identified as Richard C. Reid, 28. ICTS does security screening for American Airlines in France and in other European countries..."
What is ICTS? Why it's the very same Israeli owned airport security company that handled the security for Boston and Newark airports on the morning of 9/11, from whence three of the four 9/11 planes departed, allegedly with "Arab terrorists" on board. Now baggage handlers at CDG are being denied security passes because they might be involved in "Arab terrorism". Sounds like a very good idea. It's pretty hard to keep tabs on the Mossad after all.

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Dan Rather Joins AJC Tour of Jewish New York for Foreign Diplomats

October 30, 2006
American Jewish Committee

New York - Diplomats from more than 50 countries will join leaders of the American Jewish Committee on Thursday, November 2, for the New York Chapter's 17th annual tour of Jewish New York, and will be treated to special presentation by Dan Rather on AJC's groundbreaking use of media to fight prejudice.
U.N. ambassadors and other senior diplomats from China, Greece, India, Jordan, Mexico, and Turkey, as well as consuls general from Austria, Germany and the Philippines, are among the diplomats attending the event.

This year's tour showcases the historic Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, home to Conservative Judaism's rabbinical seminary.

"The point is to introduce these world leaders to key institutions that reflect different aspects of Jewish life in New York City and across the country," said Diane Steinman, executive director of AJC's New York chapter.

Dan Rather, former anchor of the CBS Evening News, will present a multimedia retrospective on AJC's use of radio, TV, and film to educate, fight anti-Semitism, further civil rights, and contribute to deepening America's democratic values.

In addition, throughout the day, the group will hear from several speakers, including David Harris, AJC's executive director; Ruth Beesch, deputy director for Program at the Jewish Museum; and several faculty members at JTS.

The program is one of many AJC initiatives focused on international relations. AJC just completed its 17th "diplomatic marathon" in which the group met with leaders of more than 60 countries who were in New York for the start of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Bellicose government

Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
1 - 7 November 2006
Issue No. 818

Having just augmented his government with Avigdor Lieberman, the former Moldavian immigrant warmonger who once urged the Israeli air force to bomb Tehran, the Aswan Dam and then blanket-bomb Palestinian population centres, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is already threatening to kill and maim further thousands of Palestinians.

Indeed, as Lieberman was being sworn-in as deputy prime minister and, more importantly, as "minister for strategic threats," Olmert boasted before the Knesset Foreign and Security Committee that his army killed three hundred "Hamas militants" in the past three months.
Of course the mendacious Olmert was being selective with the truth. According to Dr Muawiya Abu Hassanin, director of ambulances and emergencies in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the Israeli army has been targeting innocent civilians deliberately while Israeli leaders and spokesmen continue to mislead the world by claiming that militants are being killed.

Hassanin said that as many 137 Palestinian children and teenagers under the age of 16 have been killed since June, in addition to 29 women and 12 men above the age of 60. Forty-two of the victims died while inside their homes, destroyed by aerial bombing or artillery bombardment.

Olmert vowed that the occupation army will step up incursions and forays into Gaza Strip's population centres in order to stop the firing across the border of the homemade Qassam projectiles by Palestinian resistance militants. These ineffective "rockets" are seen by many observers as the Palestinians' desperate response to Israel's unceasing and unrelenting campaign of murder and terror against the encircled and starved Gaza Strip.

The real reason for the Israeli incursion, which Israeli leaders, including Olmert himself, make no efforts to conceal, is to topple the Hamas government, and the way to go about doing this from the Israeli perspective is by killing and maiming hundreds and thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians.

Meanwhile, increasing efforts to effect a prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinians are underway. This week, a delegation representing Hamas arrived in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials aiming at reaching a deal with Israel. The delegation included Imad Al-Alami, Hamas's representative in Syria and Gaza lawmaker Mushir Al-Masri.

During the past few days, several Palestinian officials, including Prime Minister Ismael Haniya, suggested that a prisoner swap deal with Israel was at hand. However, such optimism may well be unwarranted at this time since two important hurdles are still impeding the conclusion of a deal.

The first hurdle is that Israel is insisting that only "prisoners of their choice" be released. Previously, this meant that Israel would release "apolitical" or "non-political" prisoners and detainees such as workers in Israel without entry permits and petty criminals. This would be viewed as particularly deceitful by all Palestinians. Indeed, it is almost certain that the Hamas delegation will seek to forcefully press the Egyptians on this particular issue. "The Egyptian brothers might be tempted to think that 'a prisoner is a prisoner and it doesn't matter if he is a political leader or a day labourer,' but that is a very crucial issue. What is the point of having a prisoner swap and sacrificing hundreds of Palestinians ... if Israel is not going to free our political and resistance leaders," retorted a high- ranking Hamas official in Hebron.

Another hurdle is that Israel is insisting that the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, be released before any Palestinian prisoners are freed. In response, Hamas has proposed a simultaneous exchange whereby Shalit and the Palestinian prisoners would be released at the same time under Egyptian auspices. It is almost certain that the Olmert government will reject this proposal which would illustrate reciprocity and give Hamas a moral and psychological victory. According to Hamas sources, Egypt has come up with a bridging proposal in which as many as 1400 Palestinian prisoners would be released in three stages in return for Shalit's freedom.

The settlement of the Shalit affair is important, not only with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation, but also with regard to the unresolved crisis between Fatah and Hamas concerning the creation of a new government that would presumably lead to the lifting of draconian western sanctions against the Palestinians. These sanctions, coupled with the callous Israeli policy of barring Palestinians from accessing food and work, and of turning Gaza into a huge detention camp by re-taking control of the Rafah border crossing, have created an unprecedented economic, social and political crisis in the occupied territories, pushing millions of Palestinians to the brink of starvation.

The sanctions have also created an implosive situation exacerbated further by the government's inability to pay salaries to civil servants, which ultimately led to bloody clashes between Fatah and Hamas, resulting in the death of more than 20 people.

During the past few days, Hamas have been appealing to PA President Mahmoud Abbas to stop being at America's beck and call and immediately join talks aimed at forming a government of national unity. Hamas has even signalled a willingness to accept a government of technocrats or experts, provided Abbas and his Fatah organisation display goodwill and national responsibility.

A few days prior to Eid Al-Fitr, which marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan, rumours circulated in the West Bank and Gaza that Fatah was planning a coup to topple Hamas immediately following the Eid holiday. Reports to that effect, which first appeared in the Israeli press and were attributed to "unnamed PA officials", were denied by Abbas and his lieutenants. As nothing of this sort materialised, Fatah and Hamas leaders in Gaza agreed to remove all armed men, save the police, from the streets of Gaza.

Nonetheless, there is still a strong feeling on Hamas's part that Abbas is not really interested in any genuine power-sharing arrangement with the movement and that he wishes to topple Hamas by any means possible, as Haniya has suggested.

Last week, Abbas reportedly requested that Israel and the US allow a few thousand members of the Jordan-based "Palestine Liberation Army" to enter Gaza to bolster Fatah's forces against Hamas, which has created its own 6000-strong armed militia, known as the executive force. Israeli leaders are likely to consent to Abbas's request if they consider that the likelihood of the Jordan-based troops battling Hamas is greater than them playing a role detrimental to Israeli interests.

The US, too, seems disinterested in a government of national unity between Fatah and Hamas. In fact, the US has paid more money to train Abbas's Presidential Guard in order to prepare it for a possible violent confrontation with Hamas. Most of the training, which involves some 400 Force-17 cadres, is taking place in the small town of Jericho and overseen by the American Security Coordinator in the occupied territories, General Keith Dayton.

But popular support may stay with Hamas. This week, as many as 60,000 Palestinians turned out in Hebron to pledge their allegiance to Hamas. The vast multitude showed that Hamas is still a strong movement among Palestinians despite the sanctions and despite all the talk about its dwindling popularity. Such a show of force by Hamas may have contributed to Abbas's reluctance to destroy all the bridges with Hamas, at least for the time being.

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World Watching Nicaragua Vote

Managua, Nov 3 (Prensa Latina)

The possibility that Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega recover a 16 year loss of power puts Nicaragua in the center of world news, facing Sunday elections.

There are already 442 foreign journalists that, according to Electoral Supreme Council (CSE) spokesman Felix Navarrete, accredited in Managua.
The New York Times, Le Monde and El Pais have sent their reporters to have first hand news, and nationally speaking, said Navarrete to Prensa Latina, 625 Radio, TV and written media journalists are registered.

The official opinion is that media interest is comparable to 1990, when Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) lost elections to a right wing party coalition.

In order to get power back Ortega must beat the two right wing candidates, Eduardo Montealegre and Jose Rizo, also the left wing economist Edmundo Jarquin and ex guerrilla Eden Pastora, postulated by an evangelical party.

There are 3.6 million people registered to elect the President and Vice-President, the 90 deputies to the National Assembly and the 20 representatives to Centro American Parliament. The CSE calculates of that total, 2.85 million will go actually to the polls.

Electors will have the possibility of voting in the 11,000,274 vote reception boards, which will be opened all over the country the day elections begin and observed by more than a thousand international experts and 16,000 locals.

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Moscow Condemns U.S. Interference in Nicaragua Presidential Election

Created: 03.11.2006 11:27 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 11:27 MSK, 5 hours 32 minutes ago

Moscow is 'surprised and concerned' over the 'undisguised interference' of the United States in the run-up to Nicaragua's presidential election, the Foreign Ministry is quoted by RIA Novosti news agency Thursday.

After the last day of campaigning, polls show Daniel Ortega to have a strong lead, but the former pro-Kremlin president, branded a 'Marxist-Leninist dictator' by Ronald Reagan 20 years ago, says the United States is now trying to keep him from the presidency.
Mikhail Kamynin, the main spokesman for Russia's Foreign Ministry, said: "According to information coming from Managua [Nicaragua's capital], both U.S. officials and numerous funds and NGOs that have settled in the territory of that country are threatening, in case of victory by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, to halt their aid."

If Sandinista leader Ortega's party wins, the U.S. and its organizations are also threatening to "review current agreements and contracts... toughen the migration regime, and deport from U.S. territory Nicaraguans temporarily working there," the Russian diplomat said.

Since his term in office, Daniel Ortega, 60, has made two failed bids for the leadership.

Ortega's main rival at the upcoming elections, U.S.-educated banker Eduardo Montealegre, claims the former socialist leader, who supported anti-U.S. rebels in the 1980s and nationalized land in the country, has not changed his colors since he was president.

However, the Sandinista leader, who is believed to have strong support from Socialist Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, another scourge of the United States, has stressed his pro-business credentials and his commitment to turning the impoverished nation in to a healthy economy.

Kamynin said Russia is convinced that open, universal elections are the key element of any democratic process, and that no obstacles should be put in the way of the Nicaraguan people freely declaring its will.

The elections will be held on November 5, RIA Novosti reports.

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Venezuelan Presidential Elections - A Crucial Turning Point for the Revolution

Thursday, Nov 02, 2006By: Jorge Martin - In Defense of Marxism

The campaign for Venezuela's presidential election on December 3rd is already well under way. But this is far from a normal election. On December 3rd what is really at stake is the future of the Bolivarian Revolution.

The election of Hugo Chávez as president in December 1998 marked the beginning of the Venezuelan revolution. That was not a normal election campaign either. Conducted under conditions of extreme polarisation and with the full power of the mass media unleashed against Chávez, he nevertheless managed to win a clear victory. This was a sign that what we were witnessing was not just the election of a progressive government, but the opening shots of a revolutionary movement in which millions of ordinary working people wanted to take their future into their own hands.

At the beginning, the Venezuelan ruling class was ambivalent in their attitude towards Chavez. He was clearly not their candidate, but since he had been elected into office, some thought that he could be pressurised, arm twisted, into moderating his programme, and basically that he could be used to give the discredited Venezuelan bourgeois democracy a new clean face, but without endangering their power, wealth and privileges.

But these hopes vanished when in December 2001 president Chavez passed 49 enabling laws which would implement the most important parts of his programme: to maintain the nationalised character of the oil industry and to implement land reform. On the face of it, these were quite moderate progressive reforms. The oil industry had already been nationalised in 1976 and the land reform which was being proposed dealt mainly with distributing state-owned land and expropriating with compensation idle estates. But the rotten parasitic Venezuelan oligarchy, the 100 families which had controlled the country's wealth for two hundred years and run the state and the nationalised oil company as a private fiefdom, could not tolerate any of this. It was not just a simple matter of opposition to the 49 Enabling Laws, it was their fear of the revolutionary movement that was being unleashed from below, of the process of the raising of the consciousness of the masses that Chavez had started, of the organisation of millions of workers, peasants and urban poor into rank and file revolutionary organisations of all sorts.

Those who had always been excluded from political decisions now thought that they could rule the country, and this was something that could not be allowed. This explains the fundamental and irreconcilable opposition of the oligarchy (the small clique of capitalist owners of the banks, the land and industry, in alliance with multinational capital) to the Bolivarian Revolution. It does not matter how many times Chavez has tried to appeal to them, has opened negotiations and tried to conciliate. As long as Chavez is a factor in encouraging the revolutionary movement of the masses, they will not cease in their efforts to overthrow him and put an end to the Bolivarian revolution, by any means necessary.

This was clearly shown in the military coup in April 2002, the lock out and sabotage of the economy in December 2002-February 2003 (which was accompanied by a new attempted military coup) and the "guarimba" riots of February 2004 (in which the opposition brought 130 Colombian paramilitaries into the country). But all these attempts at a violent overthrow of the government failed because they were met by a mass movement of the people which defeated them. In the case of the oil sabotage in 2002, this included the oil workers (with the support of the local communities and sections of the armed forces) taking over the installations and running them under workers' control, in what is the most advanced example of workers' control anywhere in the world in recent times.

The oligarchy and the elections

Counter-revolution is governed by some of the same rules that govern revolution. Having been soundly defeated on a number of occasions, the opposition (i.e. the oligarchy) became demoralised, divided, and lost the capacity it had had to mobilise hundreds of thousands amongst the middle classes of the East of Caracas. The defeats of the attempted coups also meant that the most reactionary sections of the Armed Forces purged themselves out of the Army. At the same time these events strengthened the confidence of the masses in their own forces and their resolve to defend the revolution. This left the oligarchy, in the short term, unable to carry out a new coup attempt.

But it would be a dangerous mistake to think that they have reconciled themselves to the idea of acting only within the limits of parliamentary democracy. Their aim is to get rid of Chavez and to smash the revolutionary movement and spirit of the masses. And they know very well that, for now, they cannot achieve this in a clean election contest. In this field they have been also soundly beaten, in the recall referendum in August 2004, in the state governor elections in October 2004 (where they only won in 2 of the country's 23 states) and then in the council elections in 2005 (where they only won about 25% of local councils).

Even thought they might be forced to participate in electoral contests, for lack of a better plan, this is just a tactical move. At the time of the recall referendum in August 2004, they knew they could not win and their plan was to announce their victory, with the backing of the media and international observers and create a situation of chaos which would "justify" international intervention (maybe under the fig leaf of the OAS). At the last minute, faced with the enormity of Chavez's victory and fearing the revolutionary implications of a mass movement against any attempts to rig the referendum result, the most intelligent sections of imperialism pulled out from this plan, leaving the Venezuelan opposition screaming "fraud" for a few months.

In the National Assembly elections of 2005, the tactic used was different. The opposition participated in the election while organising a systematic campaign to undermine its credibility (attacking the voting system, the electoral register, the National Electoral Council, etc), in order to justify pulling out at the last minute (even though most of their demands regarding the voting methods, counting and so on, had been met). The idea was to de-legitimise the national assembly. This was a clear signal that the Venezuelan capitalist class is not interested in parliamentary democracy, since it does not produce the results they want.

This time round, the opposition seems to be using a combination of both tactics. First of all they managed to rally behind a united candidate (quite an achievement), Manuel Rosales, the current opposition governor of the oil rich state of Zulia on the border with Colombia. Rosales represents a more shrewd type of opposition politician. Rather than opposing frontally the extremely popular social programmes of the Chavez government (the Misiones), he has introduced copycat versions of those in Zulia under a different name (and without the revolutionary element of self-organisation of the masses that many of the misiones contain). In his election campaign he has declared that he will keep the misiones if he is elected. In fact, he has made some many promises of social assistance that he is the genuine populist candidate in this election!

The opposition is still making a lot of noise about irregularities in the electoral register, about the unsafe nature of electronic voting machines, etc. But Rosales has promised to stay in the race until the end and not to withdraw.Their strategy this time seems to be more similar to the one they used during the presidential recallreferendum. Through their control of private mass media they are moulding public opinion to the idea that Chavez's lead is being reduced and that the gap between him and Rosales is closing. As we get close to election day, they can very easily produce opinions polls "showing" that this is a very close race, that both candidates have more or less the same voting intentions, ... and then when the results show Chavez winning by a comfortable margin to organise a campaign saying there has been fraud, appealing to the armed forces and the "international community" to intervene, etc.

While the opposition is relatively weak, one of the main dangers for the Bolivarian revolution comes from within. There is a whole layer of officials in the state apparatus and in the structures of the Bolivarian movement who are preventing the revolution from going forward and being completed. Chavez himself is very much aware of this, and in a recent interview he warned that this is now the main threat facing the revolution: 

The Threat from Within

"The main threat is within. There is a constant bureaucratic counter-revolution. I am an enemy on a daily basis. I have to walk around with a whip, because I am being attacked from all sides by this enemy, the old bureaucracy and a new one which resists change. So much so that I have to be constantly on guard when I give an instruction, and follow it up so that it is not stopped, or diverted, or minimised by this bureaucratic counter-revolution which exists within the state. This would be one of the elements of the new phase that we are entering: the transformation of the State."

"The State was transformed at the macro level, but the micro levels remain intact. We need to think from now about a new package of laws, to transform the macro political and juridical level down to the lowest levels of the state in order to defeat this resistance.

"A sister threat to that of bureaucratic counter-revolution is the counter-revolution of bureaucracy. This is another terrible threat, beacause it strikes where you least expect it" (Panorama Digital, reproduced in http://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/n83403.html)

This raises two different problems which are linked. On the one hand the Venezuelan state apparatus is still the same capitalist state apparatus of the IV Republic. A whole number of activists who come from the revolutionary movement now occupy positions in Ministries and institutions, but the basic structures and most of the personnel are still the same. This means that there is constant sabotage of decisions taken by the government or the different ministers. When rank and file organisations have to deal with state institutions they find themselves blocked at all levels by functionaries who have been in those positions for 10, 15, 20 years, who are there clearly to serve the interests of the ruling class.

One of the main lessons Marx and Engels drew from the experience of the Paris Commune, is that "the working class cannot simply lay hold of ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes." (The Civil War in France). The experience of the Bolivarian revolution over the last few years is a damning confirmation of this idea, and there is a growing discontent within the revolutionary movement with this state of affairs.

The way Chavez has dealt with this so far has been by trying to by-pass to a certain extent existing institutions while creating others. For instance the social plans in the fields of education, health and others (misiones) were actually not implemented through the Ministries of Health and Education, but rather directly into the communities. The problem is that, lacking a proper structure of control and accountability on the part of the workers and the communities themselves, bureaucracy has also reproduced in many of these new institutions. The problem is therefore not only the old bureaucracy of the IV Republic, but also this new bureaucracy of which Chavez talks, which disguises itself as "Bolivarian" but in reality is playing a counter-revolutionary role.

The latest attempt to deal with this problem is the creation of Communal Councils. These bodies are based on mass assemblies of 200 to 400 families in urban areas and they have the power to elect and recall community spokespersons. Communal Councils (of which there are now thousands across the country) are also supposed to get direct funding from the state in order to deal with issues in the areas where they operate. This, potentially, could be the basis for a new form of state, one which is firmly under the control of working people. The problem arises when these councils co-exist with the present state apparatus, are not part of a nation-wide centralised structure (and therefore their real power is limited) and with the fact that Venezuela still has a capitalist economy (so these councils cannot really plan or manage the economy in their areas). Unless the current state apparatus is destroyed and replaced by a new form of state, one based on elected and recallable delegates from factories, workplaces, communities, etc. the problem of bureaucracy will reproduce itself once and again.

Reformists and bureaucrats

The other side of the problem is that of the reformist and bureaucratic sections of the Bolivarian movement. Those who reluctantly accept Chavez's attacks on capitalism and his appeals for socialism, but who in reality are basically social democrats, who think that the revolution has already gone far enough, and above all, that one must respect private property of the means of production.

The division between left and right at all levels of the Bolivarian movement is sharpening. A whole number of recent incidents are an indication of this. At the end of August we saw the polemic between Caracas Mayor Juan Barreto and Vice-president Jose V Rangel over the expropriation of two golf courses in the East of Caracas (http://www.marxist.com/venezuela-expropriations-reformism-elections.htm). This was significant because it was the first time that there was an open split in the Bolivarian leadership on political issues. And the demarcation lines were clear: Rangel argued that "in no way do we accept violating the right of property, as it is described in the constitution", while Barreto answered that if "we keep silent", in order not to "scare off a part of the middle class" this will "demoralise our people".

The Bolivarian masses are clearly becoming impatient when they see that after more than 7 years of the revolutionary process, still the majority of the people live in poverty and the progress of the revolution is being constantly stalled by bureaucrats, reformists and the fifth column. One of the places where the anger of the rank and file of the revolution has acquired an organised expression is the Andean state of Mérida, with the formation of the Front of Socialist Forces. On October 8, this coalition of rank and file revolutionary organisations, participants of the education misiones, left wing political organisations, trade unions, land reform committees, etc, called a demonstration under the banners of "Chavismo with Chavez", "With Chavez towards socialism" and "With Chavez without bureaucrats". Without the support of any of the official chavista parties or state institutions, the march gathered a red tide of more than 12,000 people, (http://venezuela.elmilitante.org/index.asp?id=muestra&id_art=2734). The "Bolivarian" bureaucracy responded as usual with accusations that the organisers were opposition supporters, that they were against Chavez, etc. But representatives of the Front of Socialist Forces clearly pointed out that this was a pack of lies and that in fact, Arnaldo Marquez, the representative of the Comando Miranda making these allegations was himself a former member of opposition party Acción Democrática.

Briceño, a spokesperson for the Front, explained "our unwavering support for our president Hugo Chávez," but added that "we are sick and tired of false leaders who take their positions and forget about their responsibility towards the people, while they have lucrative appointments which allow them to buy expensive cars".

Mérida is one of the very few places where the rank and file revolutionary opposition to the bureaucracy in the Bolivarian movement has reached such an organised expression, but the attitude of the masses is similar everywhere.

The problem of bureaucracy and lack of democracy does not only exist within the state apparatus but also, and probably more dangerously, within the structures of the revolutionary movement itself. The main government parties (MVR, PPT, PODEMOS) are thoroughly discredited as instruments through which the rank and file can express themselves. This is made worse by the way in which candidates from the Bolivarian movement have been selected for the different elections in the last few years. Basically they have been appointed from above without any consultation to the rank and file and its organisations. The Bolivarian masses have still voted for them, but only because they were "Chavez's candidates".

In order to address this problem Chavez has now started to talk about the need for a united party of the revolution. This idea has met with a lot of support by the rank and file, which see it as a way of getting rid of the bureaucratic structures of the parties that do exist now. But the main problem remains, what will be the structure of such a party? If it is a repetition of the different organisational forms that have been used up until now (mostly top down, without any accountability), this will be a new failure. Only an organisation based on genuine democratic principles (election and right of recall of all representatives by the rank and file) can serve the needs of the Venezuelan revolutionary movement.

The struggle for workers' control and a socialist economy

The bureaucracy has also been busy trying to water down and sabotage the experiences of workers' control that have developed in Venezuela since the expropriation of Venepal in January 2005.

A whole range of forces have gathered to prevent these experiences from going any further. On the one hand there are those who have argued, publicly and in private, that there should be no workers control or participation of the workers in the management of state owned companies in strategic sectors (particularly oil and energy). Workers in both industries have responded by saying that they are very aware that these are strategic interests involved but that this is a precisely one of the main reasons why they should be under the direct control of the workers and the communities (that is, under the direct control of the Venezuelan people), and that the sabotage of PDVSA in December 2002 shows that un-elected, unaccountable managers and directors cannot be trusted to defend the interests of the country, never mind the interests of the revolution. This deliberate blocking of workers control (or as it is known in Venezuela cogestión) has already killed the experience of workers participation in the electrical company Cadafe, leaving behind a legacy of demoralisation and cynicism amongst trade union leaders there.

There are those who argue, incredibly, that the workers of Venezuela have neither the political level of consciousness, nor the cultural level, to implement workers control, and therefore that this is a discussion for the long distant future. This idea was put forward for instance by Jacobo Torres, from the Bolivarian Workers' Front (one of the tendencies within the UNT), at a meeting organised by the British TUC in Brighton. He added that "regardless of what some have been saying" there is "no workers control in Venezuela" and "least of all in the basic industries in (http://www.handsoffvenezuela.org/british_tuc_solidarity_latin_america_2.htm) Guayana". This flies in the face of reality. In the state owned steel mill Alcasa, in Guayana, the workers elect the different managers of the company, these are subject to the right of recall by the workers and do not receive a higher wage than what they had before (see for instance this report: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1407). If this is not workers' control, whatever the name it takes in Venezuela, what is it? Not only this, but both in the case of Alcasa, and in the case of the oil workers during the lock out, Venezuelan workers have given enough proof that they have the necessary political and cultural level to exercise workers control.

The political position put forward by Torres and others in the Bolivarian and trade union movement, is just a rehash of the old Stalinist two-stage theory, which argued that revolution should be clearly divided into two stages: first the struggle for national liberation and democracy, and second, in the long and distant future, the struggle for socialism. The problem proponents of this theory have is that Chavez has clearly stated that the aim is socialism and the debate is open in the revolutionary movement. The capitalist class of Venezuela, as we explained at the beginning, when faced with the first measures of a genuine national and democratic revolution (not a socialist one), decided to organise an armed uprising! What clearer example do you want of the fact that one cannot separate one from the other. As soon as you start carrying out, in a serious fashion, the tasks of the national democratic revolution, you are faced with the simple fact that the enemy you are facing is not only imperialism, but also the local owners of banks, land and industry, that is, the capitalist class.

But the development of workers' control has not only been stopped by the sabotage of the bureaucracy and the reformists. Unfortunately, the main factor has been the inaction of the trade union leaders. On a number of occasions Chavez has made an open appeal for workers to take over factories where the employers have sabotaged production. He event went as far as drawing up a list of 700 companies that were paralysed and another 500 that were semi-paralysed and made an appeal for workers to occupy them.

What did the UNT leadership do? Instead of taking up the call and organising the workers in different regions to actually occupy these factories and demand the state to expropriate them under workers control, they basically did not do anything. Even former Minister of Labour, M. Cristina Iglesias, publicly criticised UNT leaders for their inaction on this front! Some will argue that, after all, Chavez was only calling on workers to occupy factories that had already been abandoned by their owners, and that this is not a socialist measure at all. Strictly speaking this is true. But just imagine the impact of workers occupying 700, or even 100 factories and demanding expropriation under workers control, and then these factories being expropriated by the government. This would have seriously put the debate about workers control in private and state owned industry, and the need for democratic planning of the economy, at the top of the agenda for the workers' movement. In fact, already now, many conflicts over wages and conditions, end up with the workers discussing the issue of occupation and of expropriation (as in the case of Sanitarios Maracay). In a revolutionary situation like in Venezuela there would be no Chinese wall separating bankrupt companies from active ones which are attacking workers rights and conditions, nor any division between private and state owned enterprises.

The Trade Unions

Some in the UNT leadership (as we have seen in the case of Jacobo Torres) are actually opposed to workers' control (or at least they are opposed to workers' control being posed now, as opposed to in the long and distant future). But what is more worrying is the attitude of some of those in the left wing of the UNT leadership who have not taken this issue seriously. For instance, leading members of the CCURA left wing of the UNT, who are promoting the new Party of Revolution and Socialism, argued against participation in the Latin American Gathering of Worker RecoveredFactories (http://www.marxist.com/gathering-worker-factories021105.htm ), because, they said, this was a "gobiernero" meeting (a pro-government meeting). Surely, it is a good thing if the Ministry of Labour promotes such a meeting (as long as it does not try to interfere with the conclusions that the workers should draw). But even if one was in political opposition to the organisers of the meeting, the worst thing one can do is ... abstain from it! To his credit Orlando Chirino did participate in the meeting, but most others in CCURA followed the sectarian advice of PRS leaders.

The PRS leaders have also abstained in general from participating in the movement of occupied factories, Freteco, which was only set up on February this year, and which now organises the overwhelming majority of factories under cogestión in Venezuela. The only tendency in the labour movement which proposed the setting up of such a front and has worked consistently to develop it, has been the Revolutionary Marxist Current (CMR http://venezuela.elmilitante.org/).

The recent National Gathering of Freteco (http://www.marxist.com/occupied-factories-venezuela171006-2.htm) was in this respect an indication of what is possible. The worker activists behind Freteco, starting with those leading the experience of workers' control at Inveval in Los Teques, have had to resist enormous pressure on the part of the state bureaucracy to water down the content of their struggle, and more recently to put an end to workers' control altogether.

This is still a young movement, learning from its own mistakes. This was the case for instance at Invepal, the paper mill in Morón. Here the workers decided to disband the union after the expropriation. They felt that since they were in control now and elected the directors, they did not need one. This was a serious mistake, and the newly elected directors moved away from the original aims of the struggle. But the most important point is that finally, in October 2005, a mass workers' meeting decided to remove them and elect a new team. This was not negative, but on the contrary, as the workers explain, it shows how workers' democracy, accountability and the right of recall are the only genuine weapons against bureaucracy.

Because of the existence of a body like Freteco, the workers involved in this struggle, apart from giving each other elementary solidarity, have also been able to discuss their experiences and to generalise their conclusions. If an organisation like this (based on elected delegates at each factory) existed for the whole of the revolutionary movement, that would be a major step forward.

The workers at Inveval and Invepal, and other occupied factories, despite all difficulties, show that workers are perfectly capable of running industry in a democratic way. But they are also very conscious that they cannot remain small islands of socialism within a sea of capitalism, and that their struggle is only a part of the general struggle for the expropriation of the capitalist class as a whole and the running of the Venezuelan economy under a democratic plan of production.

The Venezuelan economy remains a capitalist economy. Key sectors remain in private hands and some of them in the hands of multinational companies. This is the case with the banking sector for instance (in the hands of two Spanish based multinationals), telecommunications, the distribution of food, the mass media, etc. These capitalists have shown once again their irreconcilable opposition to the Bolivarian revolution, even though this has not so far threatened the private ownership of the means of production directly.

The issue of who controls the economy must be resolved in the next stage of the revolution. These levers of economic power cannot be left in the hands of the counter-revolution, which will not hesitate in using them to smash the revolution, when it feels the time is right.

Turning Point for Revolution

Thus, summarising, we can say that the December 3rd elections are a crucial turning point for the Venezuelan revolution. The masses will mobilise to achieve a resounding victory on December 3rd, but after that they will expect, and demand, solutions to these crucial problems: the state and the bureaucracy, the democratic organisation of the revolutionary movement and above all the question of the economy.

In these conditions, the ideas of Marxism which are already being widely discussed in the movement, will find an even keener audience.

The Venezuelan revolution can only solve these contradictions by decisively moving in the direction of socialism, that is, a nationalised and democratically planned economy and a genuine workers' state based on elected recallable delegates at all levels.

This would have a massive impact in the already fertile ground of revolutionary Latin America and open the doors for continent-wide revolution.

Original source / relevant link:
In Defense of Marxism

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Fiji PM, army dampen coup fears amid tight security

By Paul Tait
Fri Nov 3, 2006

SUVA - Fiji's embattled prime minister and its influential military played down fears of a fourth coup in 20 years but tensions remained high on Friday as the armed forces paraded their strength in the capital.

Police set up roadblocks around parliament, scene of a May 2000 coup by armed indigenous nationalists, for the South Pacific country's budget address while on the other side of Suva hundreds of soldiers gathered for week-long drills.

Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has defied a threat by outspoken military chief Commander Frank Bainimarama to force him from office. The military in turn has rebuffed an attempt by Qarase to replace Bainimarama.
Qarase, installed as interim leader during the 2000 coup, said he had met Bainimarama's deputy, Captain Esala Teleni, before the budget speech.

He described the impasse as "a crisis" but sought to allay fears by saying he had received an assurance that the military would not act illegally.

"The message to our people is that things are normal," Qarase told reporters. "Unfortunately we have this hiccup but we will deal with our problem in our own way."

Teleni, deputizing while Bainimarama visits Fijian troops in the Middle East, also played down tensions which began when Bainimarama last month told Qarase he had three weeks to drop two contentious pieces of legislation or be forced out.

"Let me reassure you and everyone ... we're not here to conduct a coup," Teleni told reporters inside Suva's Queen Elizabeth Barracks after addressing troops.


Uncertainty remains over when Bainimarama will return to Fiji and what the military's next move will be.

Teleni said Bainimarama would be back next Tuesday, but an army spokesman later said it could be as long as two weeks.

Qarase joked with government ministers but appeared tense as he drank three bowls of kava, Fiji's mildly intoxicating ceremonial drink, while waiting for Finance Minister Ratu Jone Kubuabola's budget speech after meeting Teleni.

Bainimarama believes Qarase has been too lenient on the perpetrators of the May 2000 coup and a failed but bloody mutiny which almost cost him his life six months later.

He has demanded Qarase drop the proposed legislation that would grant amnesty to those involved in that coup, but Qarase has refused to buckle and has warned of dire economic consequences if the former British colony suffers another coup.

Australia fears there is a real threat of a coup and has sent two navy ships toward Fiji in case it needs to evacuate some of the 7,000 Australians holidaying there.

Tourism Minister Tom Vuetilovoni has said visitors are safe.

Qarase wants the Great Council of Chiefs, Fiji's ultimate powerbrokers, to help find a solution. The council, comprising the heads of 14 provinces, will meet next Thursday.

Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes also said he did not believe the military would stage a coup but has taken precautions by stepping up security in Suva.

The crisis is causing economic ripples, with ratings agency Standard & Poor's warning it may downgrade the former British colony's already below-par rating.

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Police arrest 10,733 fugitives in U.S.-led sweep

Thu Nov 2, 2006

WASHINGTON - More than 10,000 fugitives, including 1,659 alleged sex offenders, were arrested in a week-long sweep by law enforcement officials in 24 eastern states, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Thursday.

The arrests were conducted October 22-28 in the third installment of Operation Falcon, which Gonzales told reporters was designed to make "sure that there aren't second or third victims, especially children ... by a dangerous fugitive."

Results of the crackdown came five days before U.S. congressional elections as well as voting on state and local issues in the 50 states.
John Clark, director of the U.S. Marshals Service, said the roundup of the 10,733 fugitives was planned "without regard to any political elections coming up." He said agents wanted to have the advantage of the warm fall weather, when fugitives are still circulating outside.

Under the Falcon program, U.S. marshals teamed with local law enforcement to capture fugitives accused of a range of serious crimes, from murder to sexual abuse of children, assault, rape, armed robbery and theft.

The previous two fugitive roundups under Operation Falcon -- an acronym for Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally -- were in April of this year and April 2005. The three operations resulted in the arrest of more than 30,000 fugitives.

Neither Gonzales nor other Justice Department officials had details on how many convictions stemmed from the earlier fugitive arrests or prison terms issued. About 90 percent of those arrested in the latest roundup were related to state and local law enforcement warrants, a Justice Department spokesman said.

The federally organized effort, which involved about 3,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers, has put only a dent in bringing to justice those who have eluded police. Clark said that there are at least 1 million fugitives in the United States.

He said during an average week, police arrest about 1,000 fugitives nationally.

But Gonzales said the project targeted the "worst-of-the-worst fugitive felons in the country." Those included more than 100 who were wanted for murder and 364 gang members.

While no law enforcement officers were injured during last week's operation, officials said a murder suspect near Atlanta was killed when he apparently showed a weapon. In northern Florida, the mother of a suspect fired shots at police.

More than half of the fugitives initially arrested on sex charges were unregistered sex offenders. A new federal law was enacted last summer to focus U.S. funds on rounding up sexual predators.

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Military Might

Civilians main cluster bomb victims

Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday November 3, 2006
The Guardian

- Toll could be 100,000, after study of 24 countries
- Controversial weapon still lethal after 30 years

The overwhelming majority of people killed or maimed by cluster bombs are civilians and a significant number of those are children, an unprecedented study into the lasting impact of the controversial weapons system published today shows.

Research in 24 countries revealed more than 11,000 confirmed casualties of cluster munitions. Extrapolated, the total figure could be as high as 100,000, says Handicap International, the charity which carried out the survey.
The full extent of the damage caused by unexploded "bomblets" scattered by the weapons will probably never be known, it says. Ninety-eight per cent of the casualties it found were civilian. Of the 11,044 cases it discovered, 3,830 people were killed and the remainder injured.

Cluster bombs have been used in most major conflicts since the Vietnam war. Nato aircraft dropped them over civilian areas during the Kosovo conflict, British forces fired Israeli-made cluster weapons around Basra during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the Israelis fired them at Lebanon this summer when Hizbullah guerrillas launched Chinese-made cluster weapons against six Israeli locations, according to Human Rights Watch.

"Cluster submunitions incidents involve more people at a time, are more fatal, and result in more multiple injuries, than mines," today's study says. It points out that military personnel in forces which fire cluster weapons themselves regard areas the submunitions land as dangerous minefields.

"Cluster munitions are wide-surface weapons contaminating more than the military target; they were used in indiscriminately high quantities, as in Laos; they were often used near civilian areas, as in Afghanistan; and they sometimes explicitly targeted civilian targets as in Chechnya," says the report.

In parts of south-east Asia unexploded cluster munitions continue to cause significant casualties more than 30 years after they were used by attackers, says the report entitled Fatal Footprint: The Global Human Impact of Cluster Munitions.

In some areas of Iraq, it says, casualties from unexploded cluster submunitions, account for between 75% and 80% of all casualties.

It was known from the outset, the study notes, that the most widely used submunition in the conflict in south-east Asia, the BLU-26, had a failure rate of 26% under optimal test conditions. One of the cluster submunitions in the Israeli stockpile used in Lebanon this summer was of the same type and age as those used more than 30 years ago in south-east Asia, according to Handicap International. The charity operates in 60 countries in the fields of rehabilitation, inclusion of disabled people, and disability prevention.

It says the failure rate of cluster submunitions has been far above the manufacturer specifications - as high as 80% by some estimates. The vast majority of casualties occurred when people were carrying out their normal daily activities such as farming or tending animals. In Lebanon most casualties happened near the home when people were inspecting bomb damage, trying to salvage crops or just walking around.

Over 80% of the casualties from cluster weapons were men. In Kosovo and Cambodia boys under 18 were the largest single casualty group, and in Afghanistan boys represented more than half of the victims of unexploded submunitions.

More than 2,000 people in Iraq were confirmed casualties of cluster submunitions between 1991 and this year, according to the report, which says the figures are far from complete.

Cluster bombs affect "young people going about their normal daily affairs and trying to make a living, families returning to their homes after a conflict, children just playing, as well as peacekeepers and those clearing failed submunitions to make communities safe," said Samantha Rennie, director of Handicap International UK.

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Group: Lab breach bigger than thought

Associated Press
Thu Nov 2, 2006

SANTA FE, N.M. - A former nuclear weapons lab contract worker took home not only classified information on a portable computer storage drive, but also about 200 pages of printed documents, her lawyer said Thursday.

The confirmation of the papers follows a watchdog group's report that an internal memo from the Los Alamos National Laboratory indicates the amount of classified information found at the woman's home is substantially larger than first thought.
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, an activist organization, reported that the memo appeared to be a summary of a briefing on the security breach, though the group said it could not verify the memo's authenticity.

Two officials with the federal agency that oversees the nation's nuclear weapons program said there were "significant errors" in the memo but did not reject it outright. The officials, who work for the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration, spoke anonymously because of the ongoing investigation into the breach.

They said they could not confirm the briefing referred to by the author of the memo, which Nuclear Watch said it obtained through an intermediary.

"If true, this summary indicates that a very serious and compromising breach has occurred; perhaps the most serious" in the troubled lab's history, Nuclear Watch said in a news release.

Police seized three portable computer storage drives - called flash drives, among other names - and the papers Oct. 17 during a drug raid at the home of Jessica Quintana, the contract worker.

Quintana has not been charged. A man who was renting a room at her home was jailed on drug and probation charges.

Her lawyer, Stephen Aarons, told The Associated Press that the material included copies of front pages of various documents from the lab. Quintana, an archivist, had planned to use them to create an index of items she had converted to an electronic format, he said.

Aarons also said that one of the three portable computer storage drives contained lab-related material, but that the information wasn't transferred to another computer.

"It was downloaded, but it was never uploaded," Aarons said, adding that Quintana did not show the material to anyone.

The 22-year-old archivist took the material home in August because she faced a work deadline to create the index, then forgot about the documents, he said.

"Her intent was to destroy the hard copies, and she never did it," Aarons said.

Nuclear Watch said the memo on the security briefing at the lab said Quintana had a level of security clearance that would have given her access to documents that could have contained information on how to bypass the authorization process for using nuclear weapons.

"She doesn't know anything about nuclear weapons," Aarons responded. "She knows how to scan documents."

The Energy Department and the Nuclear Security Administration declined Thursday to discuss the scope of the security breach, citing the investigation.

But an official with knowledge of the government probe acknowledged there were "several hundred" pages of classified documents discovered during the drug raid in addition to the classified material found in three computer "thumb" storage devices.

"It is a sizable amount," said the individual, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is under way. He declined to characterize the documents and said the exact number had not been determined.

Said Energy Department spokesman Craig Stevens: "We're taking it (the security breach) very seriously." He added that Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman "was personally disturbed" that classified documents turned up during a drug raid.

"We want to know how this could happen," Stevens said.

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US closes 'weapons of mass destruction cookbook' website

By Tim Hall and agencies
Last Updated: 11:20am GMT 03/11/2006

The American government has closed one of its websites after a newspaper reported the site contained instructions on how to build a nuclear bomb.

Intelligence officials set up the website last year to provide public access to documents seized from Saddam Hussein's regime following the American invasion.

Over-stretched translators hoped the public would help sift through the huge archive for useful information.
However, the New York Times yesterday reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency had complained to Washington, saying the website contained diagrams, equations and other details for making a nuclear bomb.

The paper cited experts who said that around twelve documents relating to Iraq's pre-1991 covert nuclear research constituted "a basic guide to building an atom bomb."

Another diplomat called the information "a cookbook" for weapons of mass destruction which could provide countries like Iran with vital clues.

The New York Times said the documents provided information on building nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives as the radioactive cores of atom bombs, all of which goes beyond what is available elsewhere on the internet and other public forums.

The United States' top intelligence official today said that the website, called "Operation Iraqi Freedom Document Portal," had been shut down while an investigation is carried out.

A spokesman for National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said his office has suspended access to the site "pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing."

The spokesman said: "While strict criteria had already been established to govern posted documents, the material currently on the website, as well as the procedures used to post new documents, will be carefully reviewed before the site becomes available again."

Mr Negroponte's office set up the website following pressure by Republican members of Congress.

Conservative politicians hoped the documents would provide evidence of the danger Saddam Hussein had posed to America and so justify George Bush's 2003 invasion.

The archive, collected over more than a decade, ran to more than 48,000 boxes and millions of pages, most of them written in Arabic.

The pages were posted gradually, with a disclaimer from the US government saying it could not vouch for their accuracy.

The disputed pages were posted in recent weeks.

The New York Times report said the website had been questioned once before.

Earlier this year UN arms control officials complained that the documents included information on producing deadly nerve agents sarin and tabun.

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US Air Force Creates Cyberspace Command

Brandon Hill (Blog)
November 2, 2006

The United States Air Force is adding a new division to its formidable ranks. The Air Force, which already maintains such units as the Space Command and Air Combat Command, is going to institute the new Cyberspace Command.

"The capital cost of entry to the cyberspace domain is low. The threat is, that a foe can mass forces to weaken the network that supports our operations," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne. According to Wynn, terrorist organizations are using increasingly more sophisticated technology and weaponry to advance their causes and the United States must be better prepared to counter these advances.
As a result, the Cyberspace Command will be in charge of protecting the United States against vulnerabilities that include satellite communications, radar and navigational jamming, and Internet-based financial transactions. "This new way of war is data-dependent. We need to protect our data while detecting adversary data and then deny, disrupt, dissuade or destroy the source of that data or transmission as appropriate," said Wynn.

The Cyberspace Command will be based at the 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The 8th Air Force first gained wide acclaim for its daylight bombing campaigns of Europe during World War II. Currently, the 8th Air Force employs a workforce of 41,000 and operates such aircraft as the B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress (aka B.U.F.F) and the E-3C Sentry.

The Cyberspace Command will be run by Lt. Gen. Robert Elder who will ensure that all of the proper resources are acquired to make the new unit a success. "There will be careers and a strong future for the airmen whose work is in the cyberspace domain. Air Force military and civilian experts are working now forming the career and school paths that will ensure a full career with full opportunities for advancement to the highest ranks of the Air Force," said Wynn.

The Air Force is on tap to first seek funding for the new Cyberspace Command during fiscal year 2009.

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Iran test-fires three new missiles in the Gulf

Last Updated: Friday, November 3, 2006 | 5:32 AM ET
The Associated Press

Iran has successfully test-fired three new models of missiles in the Persian Gulf, state television reported in Tehran on Friday.

Television showed footage of the elite Revolutionary Guards firing the missiles from mobile launching pads on the shore, and from warships.
The three new types of missiles, named Noor, Kowsar, and Nasr, have a range of about 170 kilometres and were built for naval warfare, TV reported.

The weapons are "suitable for covering all the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf and the sea of Oman" said Admiral Sardar Fadavi, the deputy navy chief of the Revolutionary Guard.

About 20 per cent of the world's oil supply passes every day through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The Revolutionary Guards began manoeuvres Thursday, shortly after a U.S.-led military exercise in the Gulf.

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Key US Evangelical Quits Amid Gay Sex Claim

Friday November 3, 2006
Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The leader of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, resigned Thursday after being accused of paying for sex with a man in monthly trysts over the past three years.

The Rev. Ted Haggard, a married father of five who has been called one of the most influential evangelical Christians in the nation, denied the allegations. His accuser refused to share voice mails that he said backed up his claim.
Haggard also stepped aside as head of his 14,000-member New Life Church while a church panel investigates, saying he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations.''

"I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity,'' Haggard said in a written statement. "I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date.''

He also told KUSA-TV late Wednesday: "Never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I'm steady with my wife, I'm faithful to my wife.''

The allegations come as voters in Colorado and seven other states get ready to decide Tuesday on amendments banning gay marriage. Besides the proposed ban on the Colorado ballot, a separate measure would establish the legality of domestic partnerships providing same-sex couples with many of the rights of married couples.

Mike Jones, 49, of Denver told The Associated Press he decided to go public with his allegations because of the political fight. Jones, who said he is gay, said he was upset when he discovered Haggard and the New Life Church had publicly opposed same-sex marriage.

"It made me angry that here's someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex,'' said Jones, who added that he isn't working for any political group.

Jones, whose allegations were first aired on KHOW-AM radio in Denver, claimed Haggard paid him to have sex nearly every month over three years. Jones also said Haggard snorted methamphetamine before their sexual encounters to heighten his experience.

Haggard and his attorney, Martin Nussbaum, did not return calls Thursday night from the AP.

Jones said that he had advertised himself as an escort on the Internet and that a man who called himself Art contacted him. Jones said he later saw the man on television identified as Haggard.

He said that he last had sex with Haggard in August and that he did not warn him before making his allegations this week.

Jones said he has voice mail messages from Haggard, as well as an envelope he said Haggard used to mail him cash, though he declined to make any of it available to the AP.

"There's some stuff on there (the voice mails) that's pretty damning,'' he said.

Haggard, who is about 50, was appointed president of the evangelicals association in March 2003. He has participated in conservative Christian leaders' conference calls with White House staffers and lobbied members of Congress last year on U.S. Supreme Court appointees after Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement.

After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004, Haggard and others began organizing state-by-state opposition. Last year, Haggard and officials from the nearby Christian ministry Focus on the Family announced plans to push Colorado's gay marriage ban for the 2006 ballot.

At the time, Haggard said that he believed marriage is a union between a man and woman rooted in centuries of tradition, and that research shows it's the best family unit for children.

"Homosexual activity, like adulterous relationships, is clearly condemned in the Scriptures,'' the evangelicals association says on its Web site. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin that "brings grave consequences in this life and excludes one from the Kingdom of God.''

Haggard's resignation from the NAE seems unlikely to do lasting damage to the organization, an umbrella group for a diverse and independent-minded membership. At his own church, Haggard's decision to step aside - if it became permanent - would have a more profound effect.

"One would hope and pray that this matter would be resolved expeditiously and quickly and he can be restored back to being the pastor of the church and the leader of the NAE,'' said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative Washington think tank.

New Life Church member Brooks DeMio, 44, said he thinks Jones is a liar and can't believe Haggard would engage in sex with a man.

"He loves the Lord, homosexuality is a sin and that's not Ted,'' DeMio said. "His desire is to serve other people and uphold the word of God. ... I don't know him well enough to give a complete character description, but I know him enough to know it's not true.''

Carolyn Haggard, spokeswoman for the New Life Church and the pastor's niece, said a four-member church panel will investigate the allegations. The board has the authority to discipline Haggard, including removing him from ministry work.

"This is really routine when any sort of situation like this arises, so we're prepared,'' Carolyn Haggard said. "The church is going to continue to serve and be welcoming to our community. That's a priority.''

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Families push for expanded WTC search

Last Updated: Friday, November 3, 2006 | 7:04 AM ET
CBC News

At an emotional rally Thursday evening at Ground Zero, relatives of 9/11 victims pushed for a more comprehensive search for human remains.

More than 150 people, including some relatives of the 2,749 people killed in the attacks gathered at the New York rally. Some called for federal intervention in the form of the Joint PoW/MIA Accounting Command, a military unit that specializes in finding remains.
"We shouldn't have to rally. We shouldn't have to beg," said Robin Audiffred, who has no remains for her husband, James. "You need to make it right. You need to do whatever it takes at this point."

Their cause has been spurred in the last two weeks by the discovery of over 200 pieces of bone and other remains in an abandoned manhole along the west side of the World Trade Center site. The manhole had been paved over and forgotten after a service road had been built.

"Enough of this haphazard discovery of human remains,'' Diane Horning, president of WTC Families for Proper Burial, told Reuters.

"How many more times should we wake up in the morning, open our newspaper and read that recognizable body parts and personal items have been literally right under our feet every September 11 since our loved ones have been massacred?''

Horning lost her 26-year-old son Matthew in the attack.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has promised a more extensive search around the site, but has maintained that it is the city's responsibility and that construction at the site won't stop.

Three confirmed

Meanwhile, New York's medical examiner's office Thursday officially confirmed remains of three more victims. While their remains were discovered years ago, DNA testing was needed for a positive identification.

They included Karen Martin, a 40-year-old flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the north tower. A fellow flight attendant reported during a call to the airline's flight services office on Sept. 11 that Martin had been stabbed by one of the hijackers.

Martin's cousin, Michelle Pare, said news of the recovery was "bittersweet."

"We thought she just disintegrated - her body did - not her memory," said Pare. "Now it's a bigger relief. We really have her."

The second identified person was Douglas Joel Stone, a 54-year-old passenger from Dover, N.H. The third person was a male victim whose family asked that his identity not be disclosed.

The medical examiner has identified over half of the nearly 21,000 remains that have been recovered.

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Battle over 'net neutrality' arrives in Canada

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2006 | 5:13 PM ET
The Canadian Press

The fight in the United States by major telecom companies to control web content has arrived in Canada with little fanfare - and could dramatically change the nature of the internet.

It's being waged over something called net neutrality, dubbed the First Amendment of the internet in the United States. Net neutrality aims to ensure the public can view the smallest blogs just as easily as the largest corporate websites.
"Right now, the internet is almost a perfect, universal democracy," says Pippa Lawson, the executive director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Law Clinic.

"The smallest bloggers can be accessed as easily and as quickly as the websites of major corporations."

Leave it to market forces, Canadian companies urge

But Lawson said that could change drastically if Canadian telecommunications companies like Bell, Telus and Rogers follow the lead of their American counterparts, including Verizon and AT&T.

The U.S. telecom companies were successful in the summer in persuading Congress to gut the net neutrality law, which specified that no provider of physical infrastructure - from roads to railways to electrical or telephone companies - could have any say over the content and services flowing over their networks. U.S. legislators are currently reviewing their decision to scrap the law.

Meanwhile, Canadian companies have already argued in various forums that net neutrality legislation isn't necessary.

"Our position on network diversity/neutrality is that it should be determined by market forces, not regulation," Jacqueline Michelis, a spokeswoman for Bell Canada, said in a recent e-mail to the Canadian Press.

Must have law to avoid corporate biases: expert

That viewpoint is making those who advocate for a free and open internet nervous.

"Let's say you're Rogers and you're trying to sell Major League Baseball stuff so the Toronto Blue Jays content loads faster than anyone else's, or you're Bell Globemedia, so you ensure that CTV content loads far faster than the CBC's does," said Michael Geist, a professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in internet law.

Rogers own the Jays and Bell Globemedia owns CTV.

"There's clear incentive there for those who have the economic interests to discriminate. That's why it's necessary to ensure that there's a level playing field and you have to do that legislatively."

Lawson said Canadian companies want exactly what American companies want - to control the web and make a lot of money doing so.

"There's a big push in Canada right now to allow those sorts of discriminatory practices," Lawson said.

"The companies that own the pipes of the internet - the telecom companies - haven't liked sitting back and watching big content providers like Google and Yahoo make billions of dollars. They want a piece of the pie, and they want to be able to favour their own content or the content of the corporations that would pay them big money."

Canadian legislation under review

Industry Minister Maxime Bernier is currently poring over a report by the federally appointed Telecommunications Policy Review Panel that recommends changes to the Telecommunications Act, including replacing a clause on "unjust discrimination" that does little to either uphold the principles of net neutrality or prevent it from being violated.

What telecom companies most want is to promote their own content, said Ben Scott of the U.S. media watchdog Free Press and SavetheInternet.com.

"If I'm Telus and I've just created my own Telus iTunes and I decide I want my Telus iTunes to work better than Apple's, well, too bad for Apple," Scott said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

"Essentially they set themselves up as gatekeepers and they say: 'Well, we own the wires and instead of treating all bits alike in a non-discriminatory fashion, we're going to set up special deals and if you have the money, you can pay us to make your websites go much faster. And you can pay us to set up an exclusive deal where your website goes very fast and your competitor's doesn't.'"

Google, Yahoo, Microsoft want law

That's something big content providers like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are dead set against, arguing it will destroy the free and open nature of the internet and also create a tiered, dollar-driven net that favours the wealthiest corporations over everyone else.

"Telephone companies cannot tell consumers who they can call; network operators should not dictate what people can do online," Google vice-president Vint Cerf said in 2005.

Scott gave another example, pointing out that electrical companies can not differentiate between different brands of CD players: they all have equal access to the electricity when plugged in.

"The internet has always worked that way. In the U.S., it always worked that way because we had a law that said it had to work that way, and they took away that law."

Scott said the big U.S. telecom companies are on their best behaviour as they await a final green light from the U.S. legislators reviewing the decision to scrap the net neutrality law.

Web freedom 'seriously in jeopardy'

Some might wonder why consumers unhappy with the behaviour of their ISPs couldn't simply switch companies. But as Scott pointed out, it's a lot more difficult to switch over to Rogers, say, from Bell Sympatico than it is to switch search engines - particularly in regions where only one or two ISPs are in play. That's a situation that exists in many parts of North America.

"If Google were to attempt to give preferential treatment to corporate clients, you could just switch to a different search engine in two seconds," he said. "Google and Yahoo wouldn't dare start doing that, because they know you'd drop them like a hot rock. It's a real hassle and a lot tougher to switch service providers than it is to switch search engines."

For Scott, the end of net neutrality could very well sound the death knell for the heady days of the internet as a wide-open information frontier - and what happens in the United States, he said, will most certainly happen in Canada.

"The beauty of the internet is that you have a completely unfettered communications and commerce system," he said. "There are no barriers to entry and nobody to ask permission - you just put up a website and if you've got a good idea, people will come and read your stuff and buy your stuff and you will be successful.

"That is seriously in jeopardy if these companies succeed."

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Indigenous Opposition to the Border Wall

November 1, 2006

Indigenous peoples at the Border Summit of the Americas on Tohono O'odham tribal land opposed the construction of a border wall, which will dissect indigenous communities on ancestral lands split by the U.S.-Mexico border. They also issued a strong statement against the ongoing militarization of their homelands.

During the Border Summit, held Sept. 29-Oct. 1, organized by Tohono O'odham Mike Flores and facilitated by the International Indian Treaty Council and the American Indian Movement, indigenous peoples unanimously opposed the Secure Fence Act, passed by the Senate. The wall will divide the ancestral lands of many Indian Nations, including the Kumeyaay in California, Cocopah and Tohono O'odham in Arizona, and the Kickapoo in Texas. The wall is expected to be completed by May 2008.
Describing it as "psychological oppression and terrorism," the participants representing many tribes from the United States and Mexico also called for a halt to the militarization of their ancestral homelands and sacred places along the border.

Tohono O'odham offered testimony on how their human rights are violated by the Border Patrol, immigration agents, and more recently the National Guard. The Tohono O'odham's tribal land of 2.8 million acres is located on the Arizona border and traditional lands span the border into the northern Mexico state of Sonora.

Members of the Tohono O'odham Nation said the proposed border wall would be a barrier to traditional routes of passage for ceremonies and traditional practices. The wall would interfere with O'odham ways for O'odham members living on both sides of the border who cross routinely for ceremonial, cultural, family, and health reasons. One Tohono O'odham father said increased border security has already made it impossible for his children to ride the bus to school because of harassment by border agents.

Bill Means of the International Indian Treaty Council noted that the U.S. government plans to build the southern border wall in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, environmental laws, and other federal laws.

"This is a violation of indigenous peoples' human rights and a violation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples now being considered by the United Nations General Assembly," Means asserted, noting that in 2005, Homeland Security waived all federal laws, including environmental laws, to complete the border fence in Southern California.

During the testimony, several indigenous representatives said the militarization and occupation of indigenous lands are in direct violation of indigenous peoples' rights to economic, political, social, and cultural control of their lands.

One participant, Tohono O'odham Mike Wilson, also stated that his Nation has had no say in the state and federal programs implemented on its lands. He said he asked former Tohono O'odham Chairman Edward Manuel whether the Tohono O'Odham Legislative Council was consulted before the United States' Operation Gatekeeper or Operation Hold the Line were launched. Those two operations funneled migrants onto tribal land, where they often died in the desert.

According to Wilson, Chairman Manuel confirmed that the Tohono O'odham were never consulted.

Cross-border Indigenous Activism

Indian Nations are now uniting to take action in defense of ancestral lands, burial sites, and the environment. Earlier, the Kumeyaay opposed the border wall and said it would allow the U.S. government to "plow through" the burial places of their ancestors in Southern California. Members of the Kumeyaay Nation supported the Tohono O'odham in resisting the latest phase of wall-building.

Among those attending with a new vision of indigenous border solidarity was Mark Maracle, Mohawk, representing the Women Title Holders. Maracle presented Flores with two flags of solidarity and spoke of the need for unified action at the northern and southern borders.

He presented a statement of the Women Title Holders that said that native people can freely exercise their right to free transit at the northern border as established under traditional and federal law by the Jay Treaty at the northern border.

It states, " the Red Card indicates that a person is a Haudenosaunee/Six Nations Iroquois of Turtle Island. According to the Two Row Wampum Agreement, at all times we are free to pass and repass by land or inland navigation [or by air] onto our territories, that we are free to carry on trade and commerce with each other, that we shall not pay any duty or import whatever, that we are free to hunt and fish anywhere on our vast territory, and that we shall have free passage over all toll roads and bridges."

Wall Violates Indigenous Rights

During the summit, Tohono O'odham described how Border Patrol intrude into the homes of elderly O'odham without permission, hold people at gunpoint and ask for papers, and throw garbage in sacred sites on their patrols. Tohono O'odham described harassment by Border Patrol, including being tailgated in the vehicles, spotlighted in their homes, and held at gunpoint while being asked for papers on tribal land.

"As far as I am concerned the United States Border Patrol is an occupying army. If we were truly a sovereign nation, we would not have an occupying army on sovereign land," Wilson stated. He pointed out that the Border Patrol's "occupying army" has a military camp two miles north of the international border on Tohono O'odham tribal land in Arizona.

Wilson said O'odham, too, are migrants and most have moved about looking for work during their lives. Many of those dying in the desert are indigenous peoples, from Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras, and other countries in Central and South America. "Where is our moral outrage?" Wilson asked the gathering. "We collectively in the social justice community turn away and let our brothers and sisters die."

Summit participants pointed out that the Tohono O'odham Nation law criminalizes transporting migrants, including a fine for the first offense and jail time for second offense. Means pointed out that in the event that a migrant was dying in the desert, an O'odham on tribal land would be charged with a crime for transporting the migrant to a hospital.

During the Border Summit, Angelita Ramon, Tohono O'odham, described how her son, 18-year-old Bennett Patricio, Jr., was run over and killed by the Border Patrol on April 9, 2001 in a deserted area of tribal land. Ramon, and Patricio's stepfather Irvin Ramon, said they believe Patricio witnessed a possibly illicit transfer of items by Border Patrol agents and was intentionally run over. The family's case against the Border Patrol is proceeding on federal appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

"I'm here to let everyone know about the Border Patrol and how they killed my son," Angelita told the summit. She said the truth of what happened that night has still not been revealed.

Jimbo Simmons, member of the International Indian Treaty Council, said, "The Border Patrol is a death squad. They are operating like they do in Central and South America, because no one can hold them accountable."

Manny Pino of Acoma Pueblo said indigenous people all along the border are affected by the militarization. "As indigenous people, we didn't draw lines on the land," Pino told the summit. "It was all our Earth Mother."

Pino said the militarization of the border and the manipulation of truth follows in the pattern of the Indian Reorganization Act, which established systems of government that were "shoved down the throats" of Indian people in the United States in the 19th century.

Now, Pino said, the U.S. government is telling the Tohono O'odham Nation that if the tribe does not allow the military on their lands, their federal funding will be cut off.

Pino added that nationwide, some American Indian people are being caught up in attitudes of racism toward migrants. This reflects a tactic that the U.S. government has long used to divide the people, he noted, citing the example of the so-called Navajo and Hopi land dispute.

He pointed out that it is important for Indian people to recognize the real enemy. "It is George Bush, Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, and the people who want to tap our phone lines," Pino concluded.

Reflecting the comments of many in the border area, Pino said a border wall would not stop the people from coming across. "The 'Tortilla Curtain' will be torn. The real challenge for indigenous peoples is to 'decolonize' the mind."

One Man Makes a Difference

The Baboquivari District on Tohono O'odham lands has one of the highest rates of migrant deaths on the border. Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, has challenged the Tohono O'odham Nation to become "morally responsible," and take actions to prevent deaths on tribal lands.

Wilson began to put out water for migrants when they started to die in disproportionate numbers in 2001. Since then, between 240 and 250 migrants have lost their lives each year in the Sonoran Desert. Of those, 70 to 90 have died on O'Odham lands. He states simply, "Let me be very, very clear, hopefully, in what I'm trying to do. No one deserves to die in the Arizona Sonora Desert for want of a cup of water."

Wilson does volunteer work with Humane Borders away from tribal land, but his actions on tribal land are as an individual. The Tohono O'odham tribal government has halted humanitarian groups from coming onto tribal land to render aid, he said. He urged that the tribal government be held accountable for its callous inaction. "We who were once oppressed, are ever increasingly becoming the oppressor."

The Tohono O'odham tribal Attorney General's Office and Superintendent of Public Safety earlier told Wilson to stop maintaining the water stations for migrants. Both offices threatened him with banishment as a tribal member and said, "Under penalty of banishment you must cease putting out water." However, when asked about the banishment, Chairman Manuel responded, "You are O'odham, no one can banish you."

Wilson appears in the film, "Crossing Arizona," shown at the Border Summit, which includes his efforts of putting out water in gallon jugs and barrels, and testing for impurities, on a weekly basis at stations. During the summit, he shared more of one migrant man's story documented in the film. Wilson said he told the man in the desert that if he goes north, he would be dead within a few hours. The man said he would rather die in the desert than return to Mexico and watch his wife, who needs surgery, and his children, starve to death.

The reasons for Wilson's actions go beyond altruism and touch on his fundamental beliefs and the experiences that led him to his activism. Over the past five years, he has witnessed migrants dying of thirst on tribal land, including a seven-year-old girl with blood in her urine who barely survived.

"All human life is sacred When it comes to people dying in the desert, we are all equal." When one undercover detective asked him whose authority he was acting on, Wilson replied, "The man upstairs."

Threats to a Traditional Way of Life

The impact of the border wall and militarization on communities were not the only threats to Native American way of life that were denounced at the Summit. Pointing out that the fragile desert ecosystem and all of its creatures will be affected, Maracle said, "The environmentalists should be up in arms."

Representatives of the Tarahumara in Northern Mexico also spoke out against the devastating effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Urging a halt to trade policies that are leading to unemployment in the Americas, the summit called for nullification of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade agreements.

Other indigenous peoples from the Americas said that genetically modified seeds are destroying the peoples' crops and their health. They also opposed corporate profiteering by Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown, and Root. This company, accused of profiting off corporate contracts in Iraq, is now under contract to build migrant prisons.

The Border Summit also opposed anti-Indian legislation in Arizona, including Proposition 103 English-only, Prop. 200 voter identification, and Prop. 300 proof of citizenship for services.

Local, state, and federal governments were told to recognize the international rights of indigenous peoples as upheld by the United Nations, treaty rights, and the sovereignty of American Indians. They were also mandated to obtain prior permission before entering onto or engaging in construction or development on indigenous lands.

During the Border Summit, indigenous peoples called for removal of the existing Border Patrol detention center for migrants on Tohono O'odham tribal land near San Miguel, AZ.

Tohono O'odham described how Border Patrol agents occupied sacred sites, including Baboquivari Peaks, the sacred place of the Creator I'itoi. Dennis Manuel, Tohono O'odham spiritual keeper of the traditions, said the Border Patrol-now under Homeland Security-occupied the sacred area of I'itoi and refused to leave the area. Manuel took his plea for help to the United Nations. When the Border Patrol did later leave, he said, they left their garbage strewn in the sacred area.

On the third day of the summit, the indigenous participants drafted a proclamation with recommendations for direct action:

Proposals and Demands

* The United Nations is asked to intervene and prevent the United States from violating federal laws to build the border wall. These laws protect American Indian burial sites and traditional routes of passage necessary for ceremonies, which are vital for the continuance of traditional lifeways.

* American Indian tribes are urged to use federal laws, including the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and other laws protecting Indian cultural and burial sites and environmental laws, to halt construction of the border wall.

* The government of Mexico is asked to demand an environmental impact statement by the United States before construction of the border wall begins in the fragile desert ecosystem.

* The Border Summit calls for the nullification of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and other trade agreements, which are resulting in widespread hunger and desperation for indigenous peoples in the Americas.

* The Border Summit demands a halt to the dissemination, export, and distribution of genetically modified seeds, particularly corn and other grains.

* The summit calls for the creation of a new human rights office in conjunction with the Tohono O'odham Nation.

* The Bennett Patricio, Jr., Memorial Human Rights Fund was established to assist the families of indigenous border victims, including attorneys and court costs.

* The Tohono O'odham Nation is urged to establish water stations and develop the goal of zero migrant deaths on tribal lands from dehydration and heat exhaustion.

* Educational campaigns are encouraged to inform migrants that Indian people in the United States are not their enemy, and their lands and people should be respected.

* Camera and camcorder patrols are to be created, with Indian youths encouraged to carry cameras and video cameras to document the treatment of people at the border, carrying out regular patrols to the homes of elderly and people with special needs.

* Stockholder direct action campaigns will be organized, including a campaign to inform Boeing stockholders of the sovereignty of Indian lands and federal laws protecting burial places, traditional routes of passage, and the fragile ecosystem of the desert.

* The Tohono O'odham Nation is urged to set a date for the time when the Border Patrol will leave sovereign tribal land. Tohono O'odham should be trained to provide their own border security.

* Indigenous classes in language, accurate history, and cultural continuity and the right of O'odham children to school transportation are to be increased.

* Indigenous peoples are urged to create their own newspapers and radio stations so their own voices can be heard.

* The Border Summit encouraged efforts to address racism and xenophobia within tribes and establish protocol for conflict resolution within and between tribes to achieve unity.

* Mexico is urged to establish a living wage and take earnest steps to eradicate poverty.

* The Border Patrol is obliged to observe mandatory speed laws and other tribal, state, and federal laws.

* The United States is urged to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and abide by Article 35, which recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples whose lands are separated by international borders and their right to continue their spiritual and cultural practices.

* States within the United States are advised that free, prior, and informed consent of Indian people is required before states or corporations begin any development on sovereign Indian lands.

Michelle Cook, Navajo law student, noted that the protection of burial places is vital. "If there are ancestral remains, they have to stop development. They have to repatriate those remains. However, it is the native peoples' responsibility to make them accountable. We have to go out there and watch them to make the accountable."

During the Border Summit, American Indian actor and activist Floyd Westerman Red Crow showed a work in progress, the first in a series of films revealing the genocide of American Indians. The first segment tells how Indian people in California were targeted for systematic genocide by the delivery of blankets infected with small pox. The state and federal government also paid bounties for Indian heads and scalps as the gold rush progressed.

Westerman performed in concert with American Indian singer Keith Secola. Before the Border Summit began, a traditional sweat was held for purification purposes and tobacco offered in the traditional way.

At the conclusion of the Border Summit, Jose Garcia, lieutenant governor of the O'odham in Mexico, said the most important aspect of the summit was bringing O'odham people together with other indigenous peoples to work to resolve issues. "It brought us together in unity."

The testimony was aired live on radio in the Tucson area and on the Internet, with listeners responding around the world, including e-mails of appreciation from listeners in Alaska, the Dominican Republic, and Europe. The audio file archives will be available online at Earth Cycles (see Resource List below).

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 23 years, working as a staff reporter for Navajo Times and Indian Country Today and as an AP correspondent during the 18 years she lived on the Navajo Nation. She is currently a freelance writer based in Tucson and a contributor to CounterPunch and the IRC America's Program.

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3 Bodies Found in SC Drainage Pipe

Friday November 3, 2006
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Police investigating the slayings of three people whose bodies were found inside a drainage pipe early Thursday said they were questioning a man they described as a "person of interest.''

A woman was stabbed to death and two men were fatally shot, Coroner Gary Watts said. They were found near a public housing complex where the woman lived; the woman's apartment, where Chief Dean Crisp said at least one victim was killed, was cordoned off.

Police said a resident of the apartment complex reported seeing the bodies in the pipe, which is wider than 3 feet. Police also received a call about gunshots in the area, but Crisp said he was unsure whether it was related.

Soon after police announced they were looking for Charles Gamble, investigators found the 24-year-old Columbia man and began questioning him. Police described him only as a "person of interest,'' not a suspect, and they said he was not arrested.

Crisp said authorities think the man "has some contacts with this residence, where the murder occurred,'' but did not say what relationships, if any, he had to the victims. They were identified as Charlene Octavia Yarbrough, 19, Marcus Antonio Wilson, 26, and Marquis Mitchell, 25.

Rodrena Patrick, who lives in the apartment complex and said she was a close friend of Yarbrough, said Gamble was Yarbrough's ex-boyfriend and the father of the woman's baby boy. The child was taken into protective custody.

Patrick, 20, said Gamble had been living at the apartment complex until the couple got into a fight about a month ago.

Investigators were looking at several possible motives, including a possible domestic dispute, Columbia police spokeswoman Sgt. Florence McCants said.

Gamble, who has a criminal record dating back to a 2000 grand larceny charge, was on probation for a stalking conviction, Crisp said.

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Nature and The Unnatural

Asteroid Can Collide With Earth in 2029 - Russian Scientist

Created: 02.11.2006 15:43 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 15:43 MSK

An asteroid could collide with the Earth in 2029, a Sergey Smirnov, a senior researcher at the Pulkovo Space Observatory, told a press conference in Moscow on Thursday, Interfax news agency reports.
On April 13, 2029 the asteroid Apofiz-99942 will be at its closest distance to the Earth for 200 years, Smirnov said.

The asteroid will pass the Earth at a distance of 30,000 to 40,000 km. "This crosses the geo-stationary orbit, where all the telecommunications and a lot of military satellites are," he said.

Whatever happens, the Earth will feel the effect of the asteroid, and in the worst case, it will collide with the Earth, and at best it will damage equipment in space in the geo-stationary orbit.

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World Fisheries Risk Collapse by 2048, Scientists Say

By Alex Morales
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg)

The world's ocean fishing grounds may be almost exhausted by 2048 if catches and pollution aren't limited, according to scientists who conducted a four-year study.

The rate at which stocks in the fishing areas have collapsed is accelerating, the scientists led by Boris Worm of Canada's Dalhousie University said today in the journal Science. A seafood species is said to have collapsed when the catch falls below 10 percent of the maximum annual haul. By 2003, 29 percent of seafood species were in that category, the scientists said.
"If the long-term trend continues, all fish and seafood species are projected to collapse within my lifetime -- by 2048,'' Worm said. "It is a very clear trend.''

The scientists found that the risk of a species dying out increases when it shares an ecosystem with fewer other creatures. The loss of wildlife also affects the quality of the water, which becomes more polluted, they said.

"The elimination of locally adapted populations and species not only impairs the ability of marine ecosystems to feed a growing human population but also sabotages their stability and recovery potential,'' the scientists said. "Business as usual would foreshadow serious threats to global food security, coastal water quality, and ecosystem stability.''

Maintaining a variety of fish in an area means the fishing industry can choose from several targets, giving an over-fished species a chance to recover, the scientists said.

Regional Extinctions

Over-fishing has already led to the extinction of species in some regions. These include the bluefin tuna in the Baltic Sea, the Atlantic sturgeon in the U.S. East Coast's Chesapeake Bay, and the gray whale, Atlantic salmon and European oyster in the Wadden Sea off the Netherlands.

The decline in the stocks of fishing grounds can be stopped by the establishment of protected marine reserves, the scientists found after studying 44 such areas. Closing the fisheries and creating reserves led to a 23 percent average increase in species diversity, they said. At the same time, fishing around the reserves became four times more productive.

"We can turn this around,'' Worm said. "We won't see complete recovery in one year, but in many cases species come back more quickly than people anticipated -- in three to five to 10 years. And where this has been done we see immediate economic benefits.''

Aside from seafood, the "services'' provided by marine creatures include the filtration and detoxification of water, and the processing of carbon dioxide into food and oxygen. Coastal habitats such as mangroves and marshland also provide a defense against flooding.

The scientists conducted experiments, examined coastal areas and analyzed data from the world's main ocean fishing sites to gauge the effect of species diversity on survival.

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Supercow and pigs that glow at night - an average day on the GM farm

Daily Mail
3rd November 2006


Channel 4 is to unveil a shocking menagerie of genetically modified animals in a new show revealing the frightening leaps technology has taken.

Among the bizarre engineered creatures from around the world is a giant cow, three times the size of ordinary cattle, reared without fat to produce gallons of milk.

But the so-called Belgian Blue - pictured here - is perhaps the least disturbing of the creatures to be shown in the three-part series Channel 4 Farm this winter. There are also glow-in-the-dark pigs and goats which produce spider's silk.
TV scientist Olivia Judson and journalist Giles Coren travel the world to visit the places where these animals are now being reared. There is even a genuine "allotment" of growing human noses.

Channel 4 director of television Kevin Lygo said: "This is an exciting science series about genetic modification. Everything on the Channel 4 Farm is real. You may think these creatures are the future but they are the reality, living right now.

"We've discussed how to do science endlessly and how to make it accessible and I think this does just that. It's looking at what is going on, what it means and asking what the implications are for our world. It's high time someone did this on telly."

The channel also unveiled a new TV reality series starring show business mogul Harvey Goldsmith, to be screened in February, in which he takes six failing entertainment businesses and aims to place them back on the road to success.

Channel 4 is keeping the identities of the six under wraps, but said they include a well known British pop star who disappeared to Hollywood and has not been seen since, a British heavy metal band with a European following but ignored in the UK and a local radio station with big-name DJs but small audiences.

Goldsmith is renowned for his blunt talking attitude and colourful language. A sneak preview of the pilot of Harvey Goldsmith Presents shows him branding a struggling circus a "complete shit heap" and DJ Mike Reid as having "lost the plot".

Also unveiled today as part of Channel 4's winter season is a new Apprentice-style TV show in which Jamie Oliver offers one disadvantaged youth the chance to run a restaurant.

The documentary series, Cutting The Apron Strings, will pick up where Jamie's Kitchen left off four years ago, gathering the unemployed trainees he recruited to man Fifteen and offering one the chance to manage his or her own venture. Oliver's charitable Fifteen Foundation-has bought a pub in Essex from which to run the project.

Oliver said today: "Never underestimate what young people can do once they've got their heart in the right place."

Other highlights include Mark Of Cain, an incendiary new drama about young British soldiers in Iraq by acclaimed writer Tony Marchant.

An eight-part drama starring David Morrissey, Kate Wrath, tells of a family moved to a Utopian town under a witness protection scheme - but enters spooky David Lynch territory as they discover everyone else there is also under witness protection.

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U.S. pesticide stockpile under scrutiny

Associated Press
Fri Nov 3, 2006

The Bush administration is seeking world permission to produce thousand of tons of a pesticide that an international treaty banned nearly two years ago, even though U.S. companies already have assembled huge stockpiles of the chemical.

Methyl bromide has been used for decades by farmers to help grow plump, sweet strawberries, robust peppers and other crops, but it also depletes the Earth's protective ozone. The United States and other countries signed a 1987 treaty promising to end its use by 2005.
Americans failed to meet the Montreal Protocol deadline and since have been getting annual exemptions allowing methyl bromide's continued use on certain crops in specific states. Other nations have sought far smaller exemptions.

The latest exemption requests are being considered this week at an international meeting in New Delhi, India.

Though smaller than prior years, the amount of methyl bromide the United States wants approved for 2008 concerns some allies, especially given the stockpiles.

The U.S. request "is certainly undermining the spirit of the Montreal Protocol and setting a bad example for other countries, especially developing countries, and their aspirations to comply with the ban," Swedish delegate Husamuddin Ahmadzai said. "Everybody is concerned with the issue."

This year marks the first time other nations, trying to curtail new methyl bromide production, have seen the size of the U.S. stockpile.

The administration says the inventory is needed to ease growers' adjustment to the methyl bromide phase-out that was ordered 14 years ago. Importantly, they say, both stockpiles and production are steadily declining.

Each year, countries seek treaty exemptions for so-called critical needs. U.S. officials want allocations for growers of tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and other crops who mostly use the potent chemical to destroy pests before planting. The restrictions have pushed many farmers to switch to other pesticides, but the United States says the substitutes don't work in all cases.

Negotiators met behind closed doors Thursday to tackle exemptions for 2008. Dissension emerged in a technical committee report that recommended substantially paring the U.S. request for nearly 7,100 tons, an amount greater than the other nations' combined.

The Bush administration says the stockpiles existed before the 2005 ban and thus are not subject to the same restrictions as newly produced methyl bromide.

"The U.S. position is that we are appropriately managing the strategic reserve," said Drusilla Hufford, director of the
Environmental Protection Agency's stratospheric protection division. "We've drawn it down every year."

She said the United States has spent $150 million on alternative pesticides and has achieved a 75 percent reduction from 1991 methyl bromide levels.

"There's a lot going on but in order to continue the progress so you don't have supply shocks or sudden unanticipated changes in the market, we found in the past that it is useful and helpful to the cause of ozone protection to have that reserve," she said.

Environmental advocates say the stockpiles far surpass what is needed for a market cushion. They say the U.S. approach undercuts the goal of limiting methyl bromide because stockpiles can be used to meet demands that the treaty has rejected.

"Imagine if a country used this approach for narcotics. It would be as though we strictly controlled doctors' and patients' access to morphine for essential medical needs, like pain relief, but let anyone else take as much as they want from the storeroom," said David Doniger, climate policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. In New Delhi, he urged treaty countries to block further U.S. production.

Former EPA Administrator William Reilly said the current U.S. stance, 14 years after methyl bromide was added to the treaty's target list, undercuts world efforts to protect the Earth's ozone.

"The point of the Montreal Protocol was to get us out of ozone depleters and provide a certain transition, with some small exemptions," he said. "We provided for that, but a 14-year transition is a little hard to justify for mainline uses."

The EPA in September disclosed that the methyl bromide inventory, owned by 35 companies, reached almost 11,000 tons at the beginning of this year, down from more than 18,000 tons two years earlier.

U.S. farmers are allowed nearly 8,900 tons this year under treaty exemptions, of which about 7,600 tons could be newly manufactured or imported. The rest would be drawn from stockpiles.

"The administration says the inventory is needed to ease growers' adjustment to the methyl bromide phase-out that was ordered 14 years ago."
Sure... Because, you know, 14 years isn't anywhere near long enough to switch over to different pesticides...

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Who's the Real Threat?

British believe Bush is more dangerous than Kim Jong-il


- US allies think Washington threat to world peace
- Only Bin Laden feared more in United Kingdom

America is now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbours and allies
, according to an international survey of public opinion published today that reveals just how far the country's reputation has fallen among former supporters since the invasion of Iraq.
Carried out as US voters prepare to go to the polls next week in an election dominated by the war, the research also shows that British voters see George Bush as a greater danger to world peace than either the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, or the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both countries were once cited by the US president as part of an "axis of evil", but it is Mr Bush who now alarms voters in countries with traditionally strong links to the US.

The survey has been carried out by the Guardian in Britain and leading newspapers in Israel (Haaretz), Canada (La Presse and Toronto Star) and Mexico (Reforma), using professional local opinion polling in each country.

It exposes high levels of distrust. In Britain, 69% of those questioned say they believe US policy has made the world less safe since 2001, with only 7% thinking action in Iraq and Afghanistan has increased global security.

The finding is mirrored in America's immediate northern and southern neighbours, Canada and Mexico, with 62% of Canadians and 57% of Mexicans saying the world has become more dangerous because of US policy.

Even in Israel, which has long looked to America to guarantee national security, support for the US has slipped.

Only one in four Israeli voters say that Mr Bush has made the world safer, outweighed by the number who think he has added to the risk of international conflict, 36% to 25%. A further 30% say that at best he has made no difference.

Voters in three of the four countries surveyed also overwhelmingly reject the decision to invade Iraq, with only Israeli voters in favour, 59% to 34% against. Opinion against the war has hardened strongly since a similar survey before the US presidential election in 2004.

In Britain 71% of voters now say the invasion was unjustified, a view shared by 89% of Mexicans and 73% of Canadians. Canada is a Nato member whose troops are in action in Afghanistan. Neither do voters think America has helped advance democracy in developing countries, one of the justifications for deposing Saddam Hussein. Only 11% of Britons and 28% of Israelis think that has happened.

As a result, Mr Bush is ranked with some of his bitterest enemies as a cause of global anxiety. He is outranked by Osama bin Laden in all four countries, but runs the al-Qaida leader close in the eyes of UK voters: 87% think the al-Qaida leader is a great or moderate danger to peace, compared with 75% who think this of Mr Bush.

The US leader and close ally of Tony Blair is seen in Britain as a more dangerous man than the president of Iran (62% think he is a danger), the North Korean leader (69%) and the leader of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah (65%).

Only 10% of British voters think that Mr Bush poses no danger at all. Israeli voters remain much more trusting of him, with 23% thinking he represents a serious danger and 61% thinking he does not.

Contrary to the usual expectation, older voters in Britain are slightly more hostile to the Iraq war than younger ones. Voters under 35 are also more trusting of Mr Bush, with hostility strongest among people aged 35-65.

- ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,010 adults by telephone from October 27-30. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Polling was by phone in Canada (sample 1,007), Israel (1,078) and Mexico (1,010)

Comment: "America" is seen as the biggest threat? Shouldn't that be "Bush and the Neocons"?. "By it's closest allies"? Are the British people "allies" of the American demagogues?

Note in the picture above that Osama (long since deceased) is now a "world leader". Is this some sort of sick joke? Don't answer that.

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Moscow will not back back European UN resolution draft on Iran


A senior Russian diplomat said today Moscow will not back the European draft resolution on Iran at the UN Security Council, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia "won't support it in the shape it is now," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said, according to Interfax.

The five veto-wielding permanent council members - the US, Russia, China, Britain and France - were expected to discuss the resolution this week at the United Nations.

Both Moscow and Beijing have signalled their opposition to the draft.

The resolution, drafted by Britain, France and Germany, orders all countries to prevent the sale and supply of material and technology that could contribute to Tehran's nuclear and missile programs.

It imposes a travel ban and freezes the assets of people involved in these programs - and also orders countries to freeze the assets of companies and organisations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programmes.

While the US indicated it considers the draft too weak, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested it was too strong.

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Iran's N-case clear example of US' impotency: daily

Algiers, Nov 2, IRNA

The Libyan daily 'Al-Arab' said on Wednesday that Iran's nuclear case and developments in Iraq and North Korea are clear examples of US impotency and weakness.

In an article titled 'The International Challenge Posed by Iran's Nuclear Case', the newspaper said it held interviews with experts and discussed the latest situation in the Iran nuclear issue and other crucial international developments highlighting difficulties faced by the Bush admininstration.
According to the article, the US is sending contradictory messages on the way it deals with the new round of international challenge posed by Iran's nuclear case, noting that the deadline for Iran to halt its uranium enrichment as demanded by the West had expired.

It quoted an Algerian nuclear expert as saying Iran's nuclear case had reached a difficult phase. It said the West has now two options, that is, impose sanctions on Iran or agree to continue negotiations and recognize the country's right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

The expert believes imposition of sanctions would not achieve the desired result as Iran has proven capabilities and power to dictate global political equations.

He notes that while the US has been working hard to rally its allies to support stronger measures against Iran, including imposition of sanctions, certain member states of the UN Security Council, particularly China and Russia, and even some European countries are opposed to punitive measures and insist on continuing the peaceful negotiations to resolve the issue.

The article pointed out that Iran's nuclear case is just one of the many examples of US impotency in the face of challenges and Washington's dwindling ability to resolve global crises.

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Last But Not Least

Russia Halts Activities of Leading International NGOs


Russia has suspended the activities of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Republican Institute and more than 90 other foreign nongovernmental organizations, saying they failed to meet the registration requirements of a controversial new law designed to bring activists under much closer government scrutiny, Washington Post reports.
Across the country, foreign grass-roots organizations that investigate human rights abuses, promote democracy and work with refugees folded their tents until further notice, informing staff that all operations must cease immediately. The only work officially authorized was the paying of staff and bills.

The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin at the start of the year, drew broad criticism as part of a general rollback of democratic freedoms in Russia. Activists said it was intended to rein in one of the last areas of independent civic life here; Putin called it necessary to prevent foreigners from interfering in the country's political process.

On Thursday, officials said the suspensions resulted simply from the failure of private groups to meet the law's requirements, not from a political decision on the part of the state. The groups would be allowed to resume work once their registrations are completed, they said. "No political order has been given . . . to tighten the screws," said Vladimir Lukin, Russia's federal ombudsman, speaking at a Moscow forum hosted by the Council of Europe, a 46-country human rights organization based in Strasbourg, France. "Colleagues from international NGOs are not in the habit of keeping their affairs and documents in order."

Many nongovernmental organizations fear that the current bureaucratic tangle might be the beginning of a larger crackdown on activism that is not controlled by the Kremlin. They note too that successful registration would not end their dealings with the Justice Ministry. After that, they would have to report on planned activities for the year, and they worry that officials could reject their plans or penalize the groups if they deviate from the plans because of unexpected events.

Many of the suspended organizations are American, including adoption agencies, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute. The latter two are funded by the U.S. Congress but act independently to promote democracy.

Other suspended groups include two branches of Doctors Without Borders, the Danish Refugee Council and the Netherlands-based Russian Justice Initiative, which helps Russians bring cases to the European Court of Human Rights.

Under the law, Russian nongovernmental organizations are also subject to new regulation. But a Wednesday deadline to meet the paperwork requirements or stop operation applied only to foreign groups.

Russian officials stressed that the suspensions, which went into effect at midnight Wednesday, are temporary. "We are not speaking about closing organizations; that is out of the question," said a senior Justice Ministry official, Natalia Vishnyakova, in a telephone interview. Concerning the registration process, she said: "We are working properly, and put all our efforts into making it even faster. It is not at all complicated, believe me, absolutely not. It's really their own headache. On our part, we provided all necessary conditions."

Activists complained, however, that the requirements of the law are so vague and cumbersome that meeting the deadline was extremely difficult. Russian officials, they said, nitpicked their way through the submitted documents.

The local Human Rights Watch operation, for instance, called itself the "Representative Office of the Non-Governmental Organization Human Rights Watch in the Russian Federation." Officials at the registration office rejected that description and said the group should call itself the "Representative Office of the Corporation Human Rights Watch Inc. (USA) in the Russian Federation."

That change, among others, required Human Rights Watch to send its submission back to its headquarters in New York to have the document revised and re-notarized, then retranslated into Russian and re-notarized in Russia.

Officials at the Human Rights Watch office in Moscow said they could not speak on the record to a reporter because they interpreted the strictures of the suspension to extend to news media interviews. The law says that suspended groups can do nothing that would advance the aims and goals of their offices in Russia.

"We are registering, and we are complying with the law," said Carroll Bogert, associate director of Human Rights Watch, in a telephone interview from New York. "But we have been really distracted from our work by the onerous burdens that this law imposes. But this is not particular to us. It's a hassle for everyone."

Other groups, however, said they found the registration office helpful. The American Chamber of Commerce, for instance, said Russian officials there pointed out errors before the organization formally submitted its documents, allowing it to correct them and expedite the registration. In all, the office accepted the registrations of 99 foreign organizations, freeing them to continue their work, officials at the Justice Ministry said. The American groups included the chamber, the Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Amnesty International said it was exploring whether it could continue field research in Russia by flying in researchers from its London headquarters. "We are seeking clarification," said Lydia Aroyo, a spokeswoman based in London. "But we are very unhappy. There were no clear guidelines as to what documents were required or how to fill them out. The process was very cumbersome and very time-consuming."

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U.N. corruption probe 'at full throttle'

Associated Press
Fri Nov 3, 2006

UNITED NATIONS - A day after a senior U.N. official was indicted on bribery charges, the United Nations management chief said Thursday an investigation into corruption was "at full throttle" and he urged anyone with relevant information to cooperate.

"The dominoes are beginning to fall," undersecretary-general for management Christopher Burnham told the Associated Press. "Anyone with information about corruption anywhere in the U.N. needs to come forward now before the dominoes reach them," he added.
Burnham, who has been instrumental in pressing investigations into corruption especially in U.N. procurement activities, said the corruption probe goes beyond the procurement department.

"This investigation is as serious as a heart attack and is at full throttle," he said.

The warning from Burnham followed Wednesday's indictment and arrest of former U.N. procurement official Sanjaya Bahel.

In an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court, Bahel of Manhattan was accused of using his influence to steer contracts worth more than $50 million to a man who rewarded him with valuable real estate. The man, Nishan Kohli, was arrested Wednesday in Miami.

Bahel, 55, pleaded not guilty Thursday and was freed on $900,000 bail. Defense lawyer Raymond A. Levites said Bahel, an Indian diplomat and the former head of the U.N. commodity procurement section, "looks forward to the trial and being acquitted and then getting some apologies."

Bahel was one of eight staff members put on paid leave by the U.N. in January while a new Procurement Task Force pursued allegations of fraud and mismanagement in purchasing for U.N. peacekeeping operations.

In 2005, the U.N. Procurement Department handled almost $2 billion in purchasing for the Department of Peacekeeping, almost double the amount in 2003, U.N. officials said.

On Aug. 31, the U.N. charged Bahel with misconduct and suspended him without pay after an investigation concluded that Bahel used his relationship with a wealthy Indian businessman and his son to steer deals to the company they represented.

The U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services, the U.N.'s internal watchdog, provided its final report to U.S. and Indian authorities and the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District launched its own investigation, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Dujarric was grilled by reporters Thursday on why Bahel was initially cleared by the U.N. watchdog, and why anyone should have faith in the supposedly independent body to rout out criminal activity.

"There may have been issues with previous audits that were not followed through on, that were not acted upon," Dujarric said.

But he pointed to the reforms instituted after a sweeping year-long probe led by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker concluded last year that the United Nations allowed "illicit, unethical, and corrupt behavior" to overwhelm the $64 billion oil-for-food program in Iraq.

"One of the great lessons learned from the Volcker report is the fact that we do need to tighten up our procedures, in terms of audits that have taken place, audits that have to be followed up on," Dujarric said.

After the Volcker report and the guilty plea in August 2005 by U.N. procurement officer Alexander Yakovlev to wire fraud and money laundering, Secretary-General Kofi Annan transferred authority for procurement from Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Toh to the U.N. controller.

Dujarric said two of the eight people suspended in January are still under investigation.

U.N. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe, said one of them is Toh.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton on Thursday praised Burnham, an American, for being the driving force in the creation of the Procurement Task Force which assisted in the case against Bahel and is playing an important role in uncovering U.N. fraud.

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Burmese anger over grandiose junta wedding posted on YouTube

Friday November 3, 2006
The Guardian

- £26m of gifts for general's daughter and bridegroom
- Ceremony 'cost three times state health budget'

A still from the video of the wedding laid on by the head of the Burmese junta, General Than Shwe, for his daughter

Strings of diamonds, cascades of champagne and tens of millions of dollars worth of gifts would be considered ostentatious at any wedding.

But in Burma, one of the poorest countries in Asia, the luxury on display in a video of the wedding laid on by the head of the junta, General Than Shwe, for his daughter, has left people up in arms. Recently posted on the internet, the leaked 10-minute clip has provided ammunition for opponents of the military regime, who say that spending on the couple's marriage in July was more than three times the state health budget.
In the most opulent sequence the camera zooms in on glittering jewelled clusters in the hair of the bride, Thandar Shwe, then pans down from her diamond ear-studs to at least six thick strings of what appear to be diamonds.

At a lavish reception the groom, Major Zw Phyo Win, an army officer and deputy director at the ministry of commerce, pours champagne over a cascade of glasses and helps his bride slice into a five-tiered cake.

What is not seen are the gifts, which reportedly include luxury cars and houses worth a total of $50m (£26m). According to south-east Asian newspapers the rush to buy jewels as presents and decorations pushed up the price of precious stones in the run-up to the wedding. The video appears to have been filmed with the approval of the married couple and guests. It is unclear how it was leaked or how widely it can be seen in Burma.

"Such mindless indulgence - smiling, well-fed guests wrapped in their finest clothing and most expensive jewels - is an affront to the millions of Burmese suffering under the incompetence and brutality of the country's military leadership, and the millions of Burmese migrants trying to scratch out a living on foreign soil because no proper employment is available at home," wrote editor Aung Zaw in Irrawaddy, a Thailand-based magazine popular among Burmese exiles.

"Than Shwe was the one who accused other top leaders of corruption whenever he wanted to remove them. It's the pot calling the kettle black."

The minutiae of the wedding arrangements provided material for observers of the secretive regime who believe Than Shwe may be preparing to step back from the day-to-day running of the country. "In the seating arrangement Than Shwe and his deputy were on one table and all the other junta members were on a very distant table. That tells you a lot about the hierarchy," Soe Aung of the Bangkok-based National Council for the Union of Burma was quoted as saying by Reuters.

In footage of the ceremony at a state hall, Than Shwe walks beside his daughter in white shirt and a traditional orange wrap called a longgyi, a rare sight of a general almost always seen in military uniform. Many other guests were in uniform.

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Study: Office Bullies Create Workplace 'Warzone'

Oct 31, 2006

The office might be far from the playground, but it's not off limits to bullies. From a screaming boss to snubbing colleagues, bullies can create a "war zone" in the workplace.

In a recent study, bullied employees likened their experiences to a battle, water torture, a nightmare or a noxious substance. Understanding the seriousness of workplace bullying and what it feels like to get bullied could help managers put the brakes on the behavior, shown to afflict 25 to 30 percent of employees sometime during their careers.

[...] The bullies were described as two-faced actors, narcissistic dictators and devils, leading workers to feel like vulnerable children, slaves and prisoners in these situations. As one employee explained, "I feel like I have 'kick me' tattooed on my forehead."
The office might be far from the playground, but it's not off limits to bullies. From a screaming boss to snubbing colleagues, bullies can create a "war zone" in the workplace.

In a recent study, bullied employees likened their experiences to a battle, water torture, a nightmare or a noxious substance. Understanding the seriousness of workplace bullying and what it feels like to get bullied could help managers put the brakes on the behavior, shown to afflict 25 to 30 percent of employees sometime during their careers.

"Many Americans are familiar with sexual and racial harassment, but not generalized workplace bullying," said study team member Sarah Tracy of Arizona State University. Bullying can lead to higher company costs including increased employee illness, use of sick days, and medical costs, ultimately affecting productivity, she added.

Workplace bullying can include "screaming, cursing, spreading vicious rumors, destroying the target's property or work product, excessive criticism, and sometimes hitting, slapping, and shoving." Subtle behaviors, such as silent treatment, disregard of requests and exclusion from meetings, count as bullying.

Bully icons

The scientists interviewed 17 women and 10 men ranging from 26 to 72 years old, who had experienced bullying. Often, people have trouble putting into words their emotions surrounding bully behavior. So the researchers analyzed the metaphors found throughout the participants' descriptions of bullying.

More than any other metaphor, participants characterized bullying as a contest or battle, with a female religious educator saying, "I have been maimed. ... I've been character assassinated." Others expressed feeling "beaten, abused, ripped, broken, scared and eviscerated," the researchers stated in the upcoming issue of the journal Management Communication Quarterly.

The bullies were described as two-faced actors, narcissistic dictators and devils, leading workers to feel like vulnerable children, slaves and prisoners in these situations. As one employee explained, "I feel like I have 'kick me' tattooed on my forehead."

Bully-proof office

How can you take the bite out of a bully-fied office? "An important first step of changing workplace bullying, is helping people to understand that it's more than just kid stuff," Tracy told LiveScience.

Early intervention can nip bullying in the bud before it escalates into an established pattern, one resulting in high company costs. The problem is that most bully victims keep their mouths shut, whispering their horrid experiences to close friends rather than higher-ups. The use of metaphors, the researchers suggested, is more subtle and more likely to seep into conversations both public and private.

The scientists will continue examining the prevalence and impact of workplace bullying. In another research project, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Office Management, they found that out of more than 400 U.S. workers surveyed, 25 percent were bullied at work.

Comment: Now extrapolate to government and media and what do you get? Endless war and endless lies. Sound familiar. Psychopathy is the problem. Exposure of that fact is the solution.

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Letters to God end up in ocean, unread

Associated Press
Thu Nov 2, 2006

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Some of the letters are comical (a man asking God to let him win the lottery, twice), others are heartbreaking (a distraught teen asking forgiveness for an abortion, an unwed mother pleading with God to make the baby's father marry her). The letters - about 300 in all, sent to a New Jersey minister - ended up dumped in the ocean, most of them unopened.

The minister died two years ago at 79. How the letters, some dating to 1973, wound up bobbing in the surf is a mystery.
"There are hundreds of lives here, a lot of struggle, washed up on the beach," said Bill Lacovara, a Ventnor insurance adjuster who was fishing last month with his son when he spotted a flowered plastic shopping bag and waded out to retrieve it. "This is just a hint of what really happens. How many letters like this all over the world aren't being opened or answered?"

Many of the letters were addressed to the Rev. Grady Cooper, though many more simply said "Altar." According to the text of several of them, they were intended to be placed on a church's altar and prayed over by the minister, the congregation or both.

Some were neatly written in script on white-lined paper, others in a feverish scrawl on tattered scraps of parchment or note cards. Many were crinkled from being in the water and then dried out after Lacovara fished them out of the sea.

A dog-eared business card inside one of the letters identified Cooper as associate pastor of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Jersey City. A woman who answered the phone at the church office confirmed Cooper once was a minister there, and had died nearly two years ago. The current pastor did not return several calls from The Associated Press over the past few days.

Other documents in the bag, including bank statements and canceled checks, also listed Cooper's name and an address for him in Jersey City. A death certificate issued in 2004 for a Grady Cooper lists the same address as those on the bank documents and some of the letters.

His wife, Frances, whose name also showed up on some of the letters at the same address, died in 2000, according to Hudson County records.

No one answered the door last week at the address where Cooper once lived, and a neighbor said he did not recall anyone by that name. Attempts to locate Cooper's relatives were unsuccessful.

Lacovara speculated that someone cleaning out Cooper's home found the letters and threw them on the beach in Atlantic City, about 100 miles from Jersey City.

"I guess rather than just throw them in the garbage, maybe they thought they'd set them out to sea to bless these people," he said. "So they made a trip to Atlantic City, maybe went to a casino, and put the letters in the water."

The letters, wrapped in several smaller brown paper bags inside the larger plastic bag, did not appear to have been in the water too long, Lacovara said, though about half were too badly damaged to be legible.

He opened a few with his son, Rocky, on the beach. The first few were humorous.

"I'm still praying to hit the lottery twice: first the $50,000," one man wrote. "Than after some changes have taken place let me hit the millionaire."

Another asked God to make a certain someone "leave me alone and stay off my back," while still another asks God to calm a woman who "call the Internal Revenue on me."

One woman complained that her husband always talks about sex, and another writer anonymously dropped a dime to God on someone cheating on his wife, complete with dates, times and locations.

But those, Lacovara soon found, were the exception.

Many more were written by anguished spouses, children or widows, pouring out their hearts to God, asking for help with relatives who were using drugs, gambling or cheating on them. One man wrote from prison, saying he was innocent and wanted to be back home with his family. A woman wrote that her boyfriend was now closing the door to her daughter's bedroom each night when it used to stay open, and wondered why.

A teenager poured out her heart on yellow-lined paper in the curlicue pencil handwriting of a schoolgirl, begging God to forgive her and asking for a second chance.

"Lord, I know that I have had an abortion and I killed one of your angels," she wrote. "There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about the mistake I made."

One unwed mother wrote that her baby was due in four weeks, and asked God to make the father fall in love with her and marry her so the child would have a father.

Lacovara said he is sad that most of the writers never had their letters read. But he hopes to change that soon: He is putting the collection up for sale on eBay.

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