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Editorial: John F. Kennedy and All Those "isms"
|Lt. Gov Paul Johnson (center, with hat) blocks Marshal James McShane
and James Meredith (right) from attempting to enter University of Mississippi
on the day of Kennedy's inauguration, January 20, 1961
Today, I want to come back to my JFK project. Twelve days from now is the 43rd anniversary of the assassination - a virtual coup d'etat effected by Corporate America and its various connections. As I mentioned when I began this little series in commemoration of John F. Kennedy, a close and careful study of American history reveals that the American system was set up to promote the rule of the rich. It was Calvinism with a kick, and that kick was that it appealed to deviant persons without conscience for whom it seems the Capitalistic system was invented.
Just to make the point, allow me to present some web definitions of Capitalism for your consideration:
Although nowadays there are ideological capitalists - people who support a set of ideas about the economic benefits and importance of "free markets" - the term capitalism was first used to describe a system of private investment and industry with little governmental control which emerged, without an ideological basis, in the Netherlands and Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. A "capitalist" was an individual who invested money (or capital) in a given business venture. academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/history/virtual/glossary.htm
An economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and controlled and which is characterized by competition and the profit motive.countrystudies.us/united-states/economy-12.htm
Capitalism is an economic theory which stresses that control of the means of producing economic goods in a society should reside in the hands of those who invest the capital for production. Private ownership and free enterprise is supposed to lead to more efficiency, lower prices, better products. Adam Smith popularized this theory in his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations.www.ilstu.edu/class/hist127/terms.html
An economic system in which capital is mostly owned by private individuals and corporations. Contrasts with communism.www-personal.umich.edu/~alandear/glossary/c.html
An economic system built upon the profit motive. Capitalism depends upon private individuals or companies investing money in order to make profits. In Marxist analysis, these profits are secured by exploiting workers who provide their labour.www.adamranson.freeserve.co.uk/critical%20concepts.htm
Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private ownership of property and well-developed financial institutions. Capitalism allows individual initiation, business competition, inheritance, and profit earning.
Now, in order to be fair, let's look at the definitions for Communism, the dreaded Capitalist Threat:
An economic theory which stresses that the control of the means of producing economic goods in a society should reside in the hands of those who invest their labor for production. In its ideal form, social classes cease to exist, there is no coercive governmental structures, and everyone lives in abundance without supervision from a ruling class. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels popularized this theory in their 1848 Communist Manifesto.
An economic or political system based on the sharing of all work and property by the whole community.
An economic system in which capital is owned by private government. Contrasts with capitalism.
a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production with the professed aim of establishing a stateless societywww.imuna.org/c2c/app_a.html
a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people."www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/teach/red/back2.html
A system based on public ownership of the means of production and distribution of wealth.
An "economic, social and political doctrine which expresses the struggle for the equal distribution of wealth by eliminating private property and the exploitative ruling class. In practice, such a distribution of wealth is achieved by social ownership of the means of production, exchange and diffusion." (7)
The view that the government should own and control major industries
is any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy."
the theory or system of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society rather than by private individuals, with all members of the community coerced to share in the work and the products. In Marxism, the transition phase between capitalism and communism, defined as "abolition of private property."
Can't leave out Fascism:
The name comes from the Latin fasces - a bundle of rods with a projecting axe, which was the symbol of authority in ancient Rome. The term was applied by Mussolini to his movement after his rise to power in 1922. The Fascists were viciously anti-Communist and anti- liberal and, once in power, relied on an authoritarian state apparatus. They also used emotive slogans and old prejudices (for example, against the Jews) to bolster the leader's strongman appeal. ...www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/history/browse/glossary.html
A social and political ideology with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms.
a totalitarian political system led by a single dictator who allows no opposition, promoting an aggressive nationalism and often racism.www.summit.org/resource/dictionary/
Political philosophy that became predominant in Italy and then Germany during the 1920s and 1930s; attacked weakness of democracy, corruption of capitalism; promised vigorous foreign and military programs; undertook state control of economy to reduce social friction. (p. 870)
a term used particularly to describe the nationalistic and totalitarian regimes of Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-45), Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-45) and Francisco Franco (Spain, 1939-75).
An extreme form of nationalism that played on fears of communism and rejected individual freedom, liberal individualism, democracy, and limitations on the state.
The above definitions are by no means exhaustive. I think it is obvious to any thinking person that each of these ideologies are more or less extreme in one direction or the other and any one of them, practiced across the board in any society, is going to create problems.
Capitalism as practiced in America has proven to be a colossal failure. Communism as practiced in Russia and elsewhere has proven to be a disaster. Fascism as practiced in German and Italy was a catastrophe for the whole world. Socialism in the strictest sense isn't any better than the rest.
The problem is, it seems, that the people making up these social theories are deviants, plain and simple. Andzrej Lobaczewski writes about this problem as follows:
Schizoidia, or schizoidal psychopathy, was isolated by [Emil Kraepelin, one of the] creators of modern psychiatry. From the beginning, it was treated as a lighter form of the same hereditary taint which is the cause of susceptibility to schizophrenia. However, this latter connection could neither be confirmed nor denied with the help of statistical analysis, and no biological test was then found which would have been able to solve this dilemma. For practical reasons, we shall discuss schizoidia with no further reference to this traditional relationship.
Literature provides us with descriptions of several varieties of this anomaly, whose existence can be attributed either to changes in the genetic factor or to differences in other individual characteristics of a non-pathological nature. Let us thus sketch these sub-species' common features.
Carriers of this anomaly are hypersensitive and distrustful, while, at the same time, pay little attention to the feelings of others. They tend to assume extreme positions, and are eager to retaliate for minor offenses. Sometimes they are eccentric and odd. Their poor sense of psychological situation and reality leads them to superimpose erroneous, pejorative interpretations upon other people's intentions. They easily become involved in activities which are ostensibly moral, but which actually inflict damage upon themselves and others. Their impoverished psychological worldview makes them typically pessimistic regarding human nature. We frequently find expressions of their characteristic attitudes in their statements and writings: "Human nature is so bad that order in human society can only be maintained by a strong power created by highly qualified individuals in the name of some higher idea." Let us call this typical expression the "schizoid declaration".
Human nature does in fact tend to be naughty, especially when the schizoids embitter other people's lives. When they become wrapped up in situations of serious stress, however, the schizoid's failings cause them to collapse easily. The capacity for thought is thereupon characteristically stifled, and frequently the schizoids fall into reactive psychotic states so similar in appearance to schizophrenia that they lead to misdiagnoses.
The common factor in the varieties of this anomaly is a dull pallor of emotion and lack of feeling for the psychological realities, an essential factor in basic intelligence. This can be attributed to some incomplete quality of the instinctive substratum, which works as though founded on shifting sand. Low emotional pressure enables them to develop proper speculative reasoning, which is useful in non-humanistic spheres of activity, but because of their one-sidedness, they tend to consider themselves intellectually superior to "ordinary" people.
The quantitative frequency of this anomaly varies among races and nations: low among Blacks, the highest among Jews. Estimates of this frequency range from negligible up to 3%. In Poland it may be estimated as 0.7% of population. My observations suggest this anomaly is autosomally hereditary.
A schizoid's ponerological activity should be evaluated in two aspects. On the small scale, such people cause their families trouble, easily turn into tools of intrigue in the hands of clever and unscrupulous individuals, and generally do a poor job of raising children. Their tendency to see human reality in the doctrinaire and simplistic manner they consider "proper" - i.e. "black or white" - transforms their frequently good intentions into bad results. However, their ponerogenic role can have macrosocial implications if their attitude toward human reality and their tendency to invent great doctrines are put to paper and duplicated in large editions.
In spite of their typical deficits, or even an openly schizoidal declaration, their readers do not realize what the authors' characters are really like. Ignorant of the true condition of the author, such uninformed readers tend to interpret such works in a manner corresponding to their own nature. The minds of normal people tend toward corrective interpretation due to the participation of their own richer, psychological world view.
At the same time, many other readers critically reject such works with moral disgust but without being aware of the specific cause.
An analysis of the role played by Karl Marx's works easily reveals all the above-mentioned types of apperception and the social reactions which engendered animosity between large groups of people.
When reading any of those disturbingly divisive works, we should examine them carefully for any of these characteristic deficits, or even an openly formulated schizoid declaration. Such a process will enable us to gain a proper critical distance from the contents and make it easier to dig the potentially valuable elements out of the doctrinaire material. If this is done by two or more people who represent greatly divergent interpretations, their methods of perception will come closer together, and the causes of dissent will dissipate. Such a project might be attempted as a psychological experiment and for purposes of proper mental hygiene. [Political Ponerology]
Notice the several references to a lack of psychological insight and apperception of reality; this is the chief factor behind failed social systems: they do not take reality and real human beings into account.
The ownership of property is important to human beings. Everyone wants - and needs - an inviolate space to call their own. The old saying "a man's home is his castle" speaks to this reality. Human beings also want to be able to give gifts to those they love, including things they have accumulated in their lives; it is a form of immortality that a person can pass on a legacy to their children in the form of the things they have loved and cherished. Such a psychological need in the human being must be considered in forumlating a social system. So, obviously, socialism and communism, if interpreted as something that negates private property, is never going to work with real, living human beings.
At the same time, any system, such as Captialism, which is designed to concentrate money in the hands of the most ruthless, also does not take human psychology into account. Oh, indeed, it favors psychopathy, but it tends, over time, to exclude the achievements of human beings who have conscience and feel responsibility to their fellow man. Lobaczewski expands on this problem and the following should be read with the Capitalistic Great Society in mind:
Ever since human societies and civilizations have been created on our globe, people have longed for happy times full of tranquility and justice, which would have allowed everyone to herd his sheep in peace, search for fertile valleys, plow the earth, dig for treasures, or build houses and palaces. Man desires peace so as to enjoy the benefits accumulated by earlier generations and to proudly observe the growth of future ones he has begotten. Sipping wine or mead in the meantime would be nice. He would like to wander about, becoming familiar with other lands and people, or enjoy the star-studded sky of the south, the colors of nature, and the faces and costumes of women. He would also like to give free rein to his imagination and immortalize his name in works of art, whether sculptured in marble or eternalized in myth and poetry.
From time immemorial, then, man has dreamed of a life in which the measured effort of mind and muscle would be punctuated by well-deserved rest. He would like to learn nature's laws so as to dominate her and take advantage of her gifts.
Man enlisted the natural power of animals in order to make his dreams come true, and when this did not meet his needs, he turned to his own kind for this purpose, in part depriving other humans of their humanity simply because he was more powerful.
Dreams of a happy and peaceful life thus gave rise to force over others, a force which depraves the mind of its user. That is why man's dreams of happiness have not come true throughout history. This hedonistic view of "happiness" contains the seeds of misery and feed the eternal cycle whereby good times give birth to bad times, which in turn cause the suffering and mental effort which produce experience, good sense, moderation, and a certain amount of psychological knowledge, all virtues which serve to rebuild more felicitous conditions of existence.
During good times, people progressively lose sight of the need for
profound reflection, introspection, knowledge of others, and an understanding
of life's complicated laws. Is it worth pondering the properties of human
nature and man's flawed personality, whether one's own or someone else's?
Can we understand the creative meaning of suffering we have not undergone
ourselves, instead of taking the easy way out and blaming the victim? Any
excess mental effort seems like pointless labor if life's joys appear to
be available for the taking. A clever, liberal, and merry individual is
a good sport; a more farsighted person predicting dire results becomes
a wet-blanket killjoy.
Perception of the truth about the real environment, especially an understanding of the human personality and its values, ceases to be a virtue during the so-called "happy" times; thoughtful doubters are decried as meddlers who cannot leave well enough alone. This, in turn, leads to an impoverishment of psychological knowledge, the capacity of differentiating the properties of human nature and personality, and the ability to mold minds creatively. The cult of power thus supplants those mental values so essential for maintaining law and order by peaceful means. A nation's enrichment or involution regarding its psychological world view could be considered an indicator of whether its future will be good or bad.
During "good" times, the search for truth becomes uncomfortable because it reveals inconvenient facts. It is better to think about easier and more pleasant things. Unconscious elimination of data which are, or appear to be, inexpedient gradually turns into habit, and then becomes a custom accepted by society at large. The problem is that any thought process based on such truncated information cannot possibly give rise to correct conclusions; it further leads to subconscious substitution of inconvenient premises by more convenient ones, thereby approaching the boundaries of psychopathology.
Such contented periods for one group of people - often rooted in some injustice to other people or nations - start to strangle the capacity for individual and societal consciousness; subconscious factors take over a decisive role in life. Such a society, already infected by the hysteroidal state, considers any perception of uncomfortable truth to be a sign of "ill-breeding". J. G. Herder's iceberg is drowned in a sea of falsified unconsciousness; only the tip of the iceberg is visible above the waves of life. Catastrophe waits in the wings. In such times, the capacity for logical and disciplined thought, born of necessity during difficult times, begins to fade. When communities lose the capacity for psychological reason and moral criticism, the processes of the generation of evil are intensified at every social scale, whether individual or macrosocial, until everything reverts to "bad" times. [Political Ponerology]
John Kennedy seems to have been aware of these problems. He was a thinker, a philosopher, and a man who had emerged from the common people, just one generation away. Yes, indeed, it was the Captitalist system that had given his father the means of putting the family into the class of the elite, but John Kennedy wasn't Joe Kennedy; he saw that changes needed to be made, and the only way to make them was to bootstrap himself into position to do so by the very system he sought to change. That was why he had to die. I don't think that Kennedy was desirous of creating a completely socialist system, but he clearly saw that Capitalism wasn't doing what it was supposed to do: to create a prosperous society across the board.
Today, let's look at John Kennedy's social views as described in Farewell America; how he perceived the need to change the world for the most helpless and oppressed in American society. This gives us the measure of the man: that he endeavored to find a way to bring up the downtrodden and disadvantaged. Keep in mind also the fact that the United States of America was the last "modern" country in the world to give up slavery as part of its economic system - Capitalism.
To me, the President's legislative proposals (on civil rights) are clearly destructive of the American system and the constitutional rights of American citizens. I shall oppose them with every means and resource at my command. Senator Richard B. Russell
The racial problem, America's canker, burst under Kennedy.
In 1960 Dr. Martin Luther King had called on his fellow Negroes to vote for the Senator from Massachusetts, and 78% had responded to his appeal. A 1962 poll revealed that the Negroes chose Dr. King as their favorite hero, followed closely by John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Kennedy inspired respect and enthusiasm among many of them. But most saw him, if not as their redeemer, at least as the best card in their very weak hand.
A few days after President Kennedy's inauguration, on February 1, 1961, James Farmer, President of CORE,(1) inaugurated the Freedom Riders' movement. Hundreds of militant integrationists, trained in passive resistance and prepared to confront the brutality of the local police, were sent to test segregation facilities in the South. In the month of May alone, there were 24 marches and demonstrations. Kennedy, who at the time was engrossed in international problems, chose not to attack the Negro problem head on during his first two years in office, but to act through the intermediary of the federal agencies, and in particular through his brother, the Attorney General.
In November, 1961, the Supreme Court ruled against segregation in hotels and restaurants. There was some local resistance, but the real problem lay elsewhere, in the fields of employment, education and housing. In 1961, unemployment was twice as high among Negroes as among whites. It was particularly difficult to enforce equal employment in industry. The problem was far more complex than it appeared. It involved vocational training and re-training, and depended on population migration and the attitude of the trade unions.
The Kennedy Administration stepped up the recruitment of Negro employees by the federal government.(2) Federal agencies such as the Veterans and Housing Administrations were required to show why they employed such a low percentage of Negroes. The Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity was empowered to cancel government contracts where it was established that the contracting firms practiced racial discrimination in their employment. This measure affected 38,000 companies. The Committee's authority extended even to the building firms employed on federally-financed construction projects. It was not long before the federal government was accused of employment discrimination in favor of Negroes. When a federal official hired a white person, he was asked to show why he had not chosen a Negro instead. Federal agencies were required to show why they employed white people in certain positions for which there were qualified Negroes available.
Three Negroes were promoted to supervisory positions at the Dallas Post Office in June, 1963. The first of the Negroes ranked 54th on the official promotion list. The United Federation of Postal Clerks and the National Association of Letter Carriers lodged a formal protest. "Why take the exam at all?" asked Owen Murphy, head of the Letter Carriers' local. "They'll just pass you by. "Post Office officials insisted that the three Negroes were highly qualified, and that it was wrong to assume that the 53 whites ahead of them were any more so. The Assistant Postmaster General, Richard J. Murphy, suggested that their previous low rank might have been the result of racial discrimination.
Critics claimed that there were two categories of typists employed by the Labor Department: white girls, who were required to type at least 40 words a minute, and Negroes, for whom 20 was considered sufficient. Similar discrepancies with regard to professional qualification appeared to exist in the Social Security and the Veterans Administrations.
Nevertheless, officials of the Kennedy Administration denied the existence of a quota for Negro employment. On July 9, 1963, in New York, a member of the Human Rights Commission demanded that sanctions be taken against Anne M. Kelly, a New York City Board of Trade official who had expressed her preference for a white secretary.
This kind of pressure brought results. Although Negroes represented only 10.5% of the population during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1962, they accounted for 17% of the 62,633 civil service jobs during the same period.(3) Between June 1961 and June 1963, the percentage of Negroes employed in the middle grades of the civil service increased by 35.5%, and in the upper grades by 88.2%. Attorney General Robert Kennedy appointed 40 Negro United States attorneys.
Reactions were vehement. Senator John Stennis of Mississippi declared in the Senate, "If federal employees are to be appointed solely because they are members of the Negro race, not only will the civil service laws be violated, but it will discourage and prevent qualified white people from taking the trouble to apply."
Negro publisher S. B. Fuller stated that Negroes should seek positions only as fast as they were qualified to hold them, and Representative Huddleston of Alabama declared, "Favoritism is the rule and complete disregard of the merit system is the attitude now prevailing."
The President of the US Civil Service Commission, John W. Macy, Jr., rejected these attacks, saying: "What we are trying to do is to give all citizens an equal opportunity to compete for federal positions. What we are saying is that the Negro has had a long time to wait, and he is welcome in the federal service if he meets the proper qualifications and standards." And he added, "The Government can't very well sell private employers on the idea of hiring more Negroes if the Government itself doesn't set a good example."
The federal government had no legal authority to oblige employers to hire Negroes. The administration, therefore, attempted to act by other means, for example through the vocational training centers that were partially subsidized by the federal government. The AFL-CIO counted 1.5 million Negroes among its 13.5 million members, but many trade unions refused to admit Negroes, and the union rules constituted a major obstacle to the government's efforts. Many of the unions were concerned about the preferential treatment given to Negroes. They considered that any favors accorded the Negroes could only be to the detriment of the whites.(4)
Simultaneously, Washington intervened directly in the integration of schools and colleges. On the very day of Kennedy's inauguration, January 20, 1961, James Meredith, a Negro, requested admission to the University of Mississippi. In September 1962, Mississippi went to battle behind its Governor, Ross Barnett, against the admission of Meredith. Many people were wounded, and two were killed. An anonymous member of the Harvard Law School faculty declared in the report of the Civil Rights Commission (1962) that in Mississippi, "Citizens of the United States have been shot, set upon by vicious dogs, and otherwise terrorized because they sought to vote . . . Students have been fired upon, ministers have been assaulted . . . children, at the brink of starvation, have been deprived of assistance by the callous and discriminatory acts of Mississippi officials administering Federal funds."
Meredith entered the University of Mississippi under the protection of 16,000 federal troops. The people of the South, but also many other Americans, felt that this was not integration, but the pressure of a minority. In Mississippi and throughout the South as far as the Mexican border, people were suddenly conscious that their way of life was ending. William Faulkner had written, "If I have to choose between the United States government and Mississippi, then I'll choose Mississippi, even if it means going out into the street and shooting Negroes . . ."
With Kennedy's support, the tide of the Negro Revolution swept through Nashville, Raleigh and Greensboro, Cambridge, Albany, Selma . . . Waves of Negroes marched, prayed, staged sit-ins and voting registration drives, knowing that they had the backing of the federal government. During the school year 1962-63, only Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina, of all the southern states, continued to maintain totally segregated schools.(5) Private schools and colleges presented another and altogether different problem.(6)
But the Negro problem had passed beyond the local or regional level. Not only had it become a nationwide concern, but it had shifted geographically. The North, in the broadest sense of the term -- all of the states except the eleven of the South -- now contained the majority of the Negro population,(7) and the Negro migration towards the big cities of the North increased from year to year.(8) In New York City alone, the Negro population (more than a million) was greater than that of the seven largest cities in the South. The city with the highest percentage of Negroes in 1950 had been Jackson, Mississippi. In 1960, it was Washington, DC.(9) In the decade between 1950 and 1960, 1.5 million Negroes migrated to the North. The Negro always dreams of another town than his birthplace. Today, the experts estimate that before the end of this century , with the exception perhaps of New York City, most of the 50 largest cities in the United States will be more than 50% Negro.(10) This is one of the most important racial migrations in the history of mankind, and it is certain that if civil war ever breaks out again in the United States, this time it will be in the North.
As fast as the Negroes moved into the cities, the whites fled to the suburbs. In the South, integration was resisted in nearly every domain: schools, stores, theaters, hotels, restaurants. In the North, Negroes had always, in theory at least, been admitted to these facilities on the same basis as whites, but the important increase in the Negro population created a pressing problem in the schools. Educational facilities in the North were theoretically integrated, but the white children left the schools as fast as the Negro children entered.(11)
Negro leaders demanded that pupils be transported by bus to other neighborhoods to maintain a racial balance in the schools, and the Kennedy administration at first supported their demands. The Negroes wanted proportional representation everywhere. But the bussing of pupils was practical only over short distances, and it drew strong protests from the white suburbs. Civil rights leaders protested that this amounted to de facto segregation.(12)
Deserted by their white inhabitants, certain city neighborhoods became 100% Negro. Negroes who wanted to get away from these ghettos tried to buy homes in white neighborhoods, but often the white owners or real-estate agents refused to sell to them, or they were unable to obtain the necessary mortgage. The restrictive covenants by which the homeowners in one neighborhood pledged not to sell to Negroes were declared illegal in certain states.
The federal government fought discrimination on every front. Its principal weapon was the 70 to 80 billion dollars in federal aid funds. On June 11, 1963, Kennedy addressed the nation on the subject of civil rights. The following week, he sent his civil rights bill to Congress.
This civil rights legislation was not simply, as many foreigners assumed, a new Declaration of Human Rights. To many Americans, it appeared more as a threat to their traditional system of free enterprise and to the balance of society itself. In July 1963, US News and World Report headed one of its articles, "The Civil Rights Plan and Your Business." The southerners were not the only ones to protest.(13) Reactions were swift throughout the country, even in regions where the Negro population was virtually nonexistent. Not only the President, but Governors, Senators, and Representatives became targets for criticism. Several members of Congress were caught in the cross-fire from their white constituents, the various ethnic minorities -- Poles, Italians, Jews -- and the trade unions. America asked itself, "Where is this going to stop?"
Some hoped that the Kennedy Bill would be completely rewritten by Congress, and many felt that civil rights would be for Kennedy in 1964 what his Catholicism had been in 1960. Political analysts calculated that he would automatically lose not only all of the South, but also Illinois, New Jersey, Missouri, and Michigan.(14) It was sometimes felt that "civil rights" constituted an infringement of the rights of white people, particularly of those who, unlike the Kennedys, did not have the money to send their children to private schools,(15) to stay at the Carlyle,(16) to live in a wealthy neighborhood, or to own a second home.(17)
For the average citizen, open housing laws constituted a violation of his personal liberty. He demanded the freedom to choose his own tenants and neighbors. Under the new laws, a federal court could issue an injunction forcing the owner of a hotel or motel to admit Negroes to his establishment, and he was liable to arrest if he refused. The country clubs which made their facilities available to the guests of a neighboring hotel would be obliged to admit all guests, regardless of color. Hotel beauty parlors, swimming pools, dress shops, bars, dentists and doctors no longer had the right to refuse Negro clients. Anyone who felt he was the victim of discrimination in any place whatsoever could henceforth lodge a complaint with the federal courts. If found guilty, the offender would be required to pay court costs, and might even be sent to prison.
The implications of this legislation were many. If a bank refused to grant a mortgage to a Negro who wished to buy a house in a white neighborhood, for example because it feared that the value of the house would drop if the neighborhood became Negro, it could be prosecuted for racial discrimination, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation could withdraw its insurance guarantee. The federal government could cut off all federal aid, for the construction of a state highway, for example, if anyone of the contractors on the project was found guilty of racial discrimination. If, in any firm employing more than 15 persons, an employee complained that he was fired because of his race, the case could be taken up by the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity which, if it found the company guilty, could force it to re-hire the employee. In certain cases, the legislation could even be used to enforce "fair" promotion practices within a company. Federal aid to housing construction carried the same restrictions.(18)
This apparently fair legislation, with the reservation that it hurt the middle and lower-class whites most of all, in fact left the way open for all sort of abuses. Many Americans felt that it went too far -- even Jews, who themselves were often the victims of discrimination in country clubs, hotels and private schools. It called into question the sacrosanct principle of the respect of the individual and free enterprise by the federal government.
Kennedy's choice was clear, although he must have known that legislation alone could not solve the Negro problem. To restore the Negroes' identity, it was necessary to reform the very structures of American society.
Economics was an important part of the problem, but it was not the only part, nor was it the most essential. Those who opposed the Kennedy Bill produced statistics to show that, from the international standpoint, the economic position of the American Negro was actually very satisfactory, and that the Negroes were progressing with a speed unequaled in other parts of the world.(19) There is reason to question whether civil rights did not conceal, or at least delay, the recognition of the real problem, the problem on which the success of such legislation depended.
But the Negro problem is not, primarily, a problem of economics. As long as they remained in the South, the Negroes, penned up though they were, constituted an ethnic family which lived its own life and had its own culture. It was a subordinate society, but it was homogeneous. This Negro society even practiced internal segregation. At Atlanta there was a Negro church where very dark-skinned Negroes were not welcome, and similar forms of discrimination were not uncommon elsewhere.
In the North, there was no large ethnic family -- only a series of Negro ghettos or Negro residential neighborhoods. The Negro in the North in 1963 was far more disheartened than his brother in the South, for, if he was not confronted with legal segregation, he nevertheless encountered discrimination everywhere he turned. Little by little, his soul was destroyed. The American Negro became a psychological cripple. What could civil rights mean to the unemployed misfits wandering aimlessly through the streets of Harlem or Watts, or to the neglected adolescents who had strayed into the world of drugs and prostitution?(20)
Many Negroes sensed that John Kennedy, like his brother Robert, was neither for them nor against them -- that their actions were based solely on a respect for the Constitution and a belief in justice. They were reminded of that phrase of Mark Twain's, "Negroes are not only Negroes, they are also men." What they sought was not simply a recognition of their right to exist. Nor did they want civil rights to appear as a gift. Already, they regretted that the emancipation of the slaves had not come about as a result of their own insurrection. They tried to convince themselves that the first slaves had reached America with the pilgrims on the Mayflower, and that the father of emancipation was not Abraham Lincoln, but Frederick Douglass, a Negro from Maryland. But wherever they turned, they came up against the Wall.
The Wall, for a Negro, is the need to be loved. Negroes want love, particularly from those who scorn them -- and not a condescending love because they are black. But even love is denied them. James Baldwin is right when he says, "Power, that's all the Negro asks today from a white man." Negroes don't want a white Lincoln, but a black Lincoln. Unintentionally, Kennedy reminded them that they are, for the moment, incapable of producing a black Kennedy. Stokely Carmichael was later to say, "I don't trust whites who are interested in Negroes."
Kennedy's legislation was aimed at the whites, but it could not give the Negroes power, nor did it. They would have to win that themselves. That is the way revolutions start.
Was Kennedy right to open the gates of a revolution that could, in the long run, destroy America? Is it possible to maintain a minority in oppression? Could it have been done any differently?
That is not the question. At least, it is not our purpose to answer it. The Kennedys did not invent, or even inflame, the Negro problem. But they were the first to fully recognize it, and to appeal to the wisdom not only of the whites, but also of the Negroes.
During the riots in Detroit, the National Guard had the impression that it was "at war with another country," and Governor Hughes of New Jersey was probably closer to the truth than many suspected when he declared, "These people claim that they hate the whites, but actually, it is America that they hate."
A century of misery, of disappointments, of humiliations, of brutality and hate have turned black America into a foreign body in the flesh of the nation. The Negroes' hate is so strong that they have ceased to hate themselves. Negro girls have learned to wear their hair kinky, and Negroes have taken a new interest in their culture. Even the African dialects are coming back. After dreaming of integration in the great American melting pot and realizing that they are only a gray scum on its surface, locked in its borderless ghettos, the Negroes inevitably chose independence. And when they set out to win it in earnest, even Rap Brown, who summoned them to "Kill!" will have been superseded.
Martin Luther King declared that "Kennedy is doing his best, but the best is not enough." For the majority of Americans, the best was too much.
Kennedy envisaged his civil rights reform as part of a vast moral, social, intellectual and economic transformation of the United States. He knew that "All this will not be finished in the first hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first thousand days, nor in the life of Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet." But he added that that was no reason not to begin. On October 9, 1962, over the Voice of America, Robert Kennedy had proclaimed the belief and the hope that he shared with his brother: "What the world has seen in Mississippi is a democratic nation putting its house in order. It is the proof of our intention to live not under the rule of men, but under the rule of law."
Kennedy's reforms were, and could only be, half-measures. They turned people against him without bringing him support.(21)
The Negro revolution was, and is probably, inevitable. It would have occurred even without civil rights, and without Kennedy. It is written in the statistics of the migration, in the rumbles of other, more distant, revolutions, in the complexes that come from oppression, and especially in the indelible skin color of 20 million Americans. The law cannot turn black into white. The Negroes are still American Negroes, and not Negro Americans.
The civil rights reform was probably no more than a medicine that served to delay the operation, and no one can tell whether surgery will save the patient, whether the "white problem" can be solved. At the time, however, Kennedy's legislation disturbed America and increased her anxieties.
In a statement issued after a conference of eighteen southern Senators on June 12, 1963, Senator Richard B. Russell, key spokesman for the South, declared:
"The President's speech (on June 11th) appealed eloquently to the emotions but completely disregarded reason, human experience and true equality under the Constitution. The fact that every citizen has the same right to own and operate a swimming pool or dining hall constitutes equality. The use of federal power to force the owner of a dining hall or swimming pool to unwillingly accept those of a different race as guests creates a new and special right for Negroes in derogation of the property rights of all of our people to own and control the fruits of their labor and ingenuity.
"The outstanding distinction between a government of free men and a socialistic or communistic state is the fact that free men can own and control property, whereas statism denies property rights. 'From each according to his ability and to each according to his need' may have greater emotional appeal than 'work hard to acquire property and the law will protect you in its enjoyment.' However, Marxism has not worked and can never work because it does not take human nature into account. To rebut the emotional appeal, we have the hard, undeniable fact that in our free-enterprise system we have plenty, whereas the Marxists -- though they have never been able to apply literally their avowed creed -- all suffer from scarcity and privation.
"Our American system has always rejected the idea that one group of citizens may deprive another of legal rights in property by process of agitation, demonstration, intimidation, law defiance and civil disobedience.
"I do not believe that the American people will be easily frightened into discarding our system for adventures into socialism that have been discarded wherever tried.
"The highest office of the land should symbolize respect for law, whether it be legally enacted ordinances of the meanest hamlet in the land or the written word of our national charter -- the Constitution.
"I was, therefore, shocked to hear the President justify, if not encourage, the present wave of mass demonstrations, accompanied by the practices of sitting or lying in public streets and blocking traffic: forming human walls before the doors of legal businesses and assaulting with deadly weapons officers of the law whose only offense was undertaking to maintain order and protect private property.
"The South has its shortcomings as well as other areas. But a calculated campaign waged by the metropolitan press, television and radio has magnified the unfortunate occurrences in the South while crimes of violence in other areas have been minimized. This has generated bitterness and hatred against the white people of the Southern states almost amounting to a national disease. It is also encouraging a condition bordering on anarchy in many communities. These terrible conditions are sure to further deteriorate with increasing disorder unless the President of the United States desists from using threats of mass violence to rush his social-equality legislation through the Congress.
"No American citizen has the right to select the laws he will obey and those he will disobey. The President of the United States has a higher call to leadership than to use threats of mass violence and disregard of reasonable local laws as a means of securing action in the courts and Congress, however desirable he may regard it to be . . .
"I believe in equality before the law for every American. In equal measure, I reject the idea that federal power may be invoked to compel the mingling of the races in social activities to achieve the nebulous aim of social equality. Every Negro citizen possesses every legal right that is possessed by any white citizen, but there is nothing in either the Constitution or Judeo-Christian principles or common sense and reason which would compel one citizen to share his rights with one of another race at the same place and at the same time. Such compulsion would amount to a complete denial of the inalienable rights of the individual to choose or select his associates.
"I hope that the American people will not be swept further down the road to socialism by the present unprecedented wave of propaganda. To me, the President's legislative proposals are clearly destructive of the American system and the constitutional rights of American citizens. I shall oppose them with every means and resource at my command. I do not believe a majority of the Congress will be frightened by thinly veiled threats of violence."
1. The Congress of Racial Equality, founded in 1942, has a membership of 80,000. After supporting a policy of non-violence throughout the Fifties, it rallied to the Black Power movement in 1966.
2. The desegregation of federal employment began under Roosevelt. Between 1932 and 1937, he appointed Negroes to his "Black Cabinet," doubled the number of Negroes employed by the federal government, and, on June 25, 1941, outlawed racial discrimination in defense industries, Segregation disappeared from the Army in 1950, during the Korean War. In 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in the schools, and in 1956 in public transportation facilities. In 1957, the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed voting discrimination, was passed by Congress. But while the problem of segregated transportation was solved, the problem of school segregation remained: there were serious riots in Tusca1oosa in 1956, and in Little Rock in 1957. Trouble broke out in Nashville in 1960 over restaurant desegregation, and Negro voting rights were often obstructed by local authorities.
3. This percentage was as high as 25% in the Veterans Administration, and 20% in the Post Office Department.
4. In 1963, while white unemployment continued to rise (from 5.6% to 5.7%), Negro unemployment dropped from 11% to 10.9%.
5. The percentage of integration in the 8 other southern states was very slight:
North Carolina: 0.27%
6. In 1962-1963, there were 270,000 Negroes among the 4.2 million students in colleges and preparatory schools. Some examples:
Columbia: 20 Negroes out of 700 undergraduates.
Princeton: 15 out of 3,045.
Yale: 75 to 90 out of 8,350.
University of Illinois: 1,200 to 1,500 Negroes out of 23,490.
University of Pennsylvania: 800 to 1,000 out of 10,350.
Michigan State University: 300 to 500 out of 24,000.
Private Preparatory Schools:
Georgetown (Maryland): l out of 276.
Groton (Massachusetts): 3 out of 200.
Lawrenceville (New Jersey): 0 out of 630.
Horace Mann (New York) : 16 out of 600.
7. In 1950, 60% of the Negro population (9,053,000) lived in the eleven states of the South, the remaining 40% (4,989,000) in the North. In 1963, only 10,100,000 Negroes (49%) remained in the South. 51% of the Negro population (10,400,000) lived in the North.
8. This migration was encouraged by the southern segregationists, who financed the departure by bus of tens of thousands of Negroes towards the North. The New Orleans Citizens Council inaugurated these "shipments" on April 21, 1962.
9. For other northern cities, the population figures are as follows:
10. Between 1950 and 1960
|994,000 whites left
||New York City and
||172,000 Negroes entered
During the same period:
(Statistics from the U.S. Publishing Corp., 1962).
||and California gained
||Dist. of Col.
11. Englewood, New Jersey, a suburb of New York City, is a typical example. Its schools had always been integrated. But when the Negro population increased to 27% (in a town of 26,000 inhabitants), one elementary school became 98% Negro, another 65% , while the others remained 90% white.
12. In Washington, three-quarters of the public schools are not really integrated: 27 are completely Negro, and 88 others are 90 to 99% Negro. Seventeen are 90 to 99% white, and three are all white.
13. An Atlanta, Georgia newspaper editor had written in 1962: "Now it's relatively fashionable to be for integration!"
14. Nevertheless, the Civil Rights Act was voted in 1964, the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and in 1966 a law was passed making the obstruction of civil rights a federal crime punishable by life imprisonment.
15. Choate, Kennedy's prep school, had one Negro student out of 550 in 1963.
16. A luxurious Manhattan hotel where the Kennedys often stayed.
17. The Kennedys had a winter home at Palm Beach, a segregated winter resort.
18. Of the 5,905 building and construction firms questioned about the repercussions of this legislation, 41.2% declared that they would lose 50 to 75% of their business, 1.3% that their business would increase, 34.9% that it would not bring about any change, and 22.6% that they had no opinion. (Statistics from US News and World Report.)
19. In 1930, 3 out of 4 Negroes were employed on cotton plantations or as unskilled laborers. In 1963, this number had dropped to 1 in 3, and 20% held skilled jobs.
The average income of a white American had increased by 475% since 1940, from $1,112 to $5,287. The Negro average for the same period had risen by 555%, from $460 to $3,015, and the discrepancy between white and Negro incomes was growing smaller every day.
The average per capita income of an America Negro was 40% higher than that of a Soviet citizen, and three times as great as that of the average Japanese.
This average ($1,100 per year) fell halfway between the average per capita income in Australia ($1,200) and West Germany ($1,040), and was equal to the average per capita income in Great Britain.
The per capita average of some of the other dark-skinned peoples of the world was (in comparison with the $1,100 of the American Negro):
20. Three out of 4 needy Americans are Negroes. In 1963, the percentage of the population earning less than $300 a year (considered the threshold of poverty in the US) was 15.9% among whites and 43.1% among Negroes.
21. On June 10, only a day after the President's civil rights address, the Alabama National Guard was called out to halt racial disturbances, and on June 19 in Savannah, 3,000 Negroes rioted against the whites. Panic spread throughout the South at the perspective of a Negro invasion of white schools and white residential districts. In the southern states, hate for President Kennedy was at its apogee.
At the same time, Negro militants and extremist leaders, who had already attacked Robert Kennedy on May 28 for being "too soft," multiplied their threatening declarations. In August, 1963, James Meredith took his final examinations. On August 28 the Civil Rights march took place in the capitol to the strains of "We Shall Overcome." The Washington march marked a change in the strategy of the civil rights leaders. John Lewis, chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, prepared a speech that contained such statements as: "We will not wait for the President, the Justice Department nor the Congress, but we will take matters into our own hands and create a source of power outside of any national structure . . . We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did." (Mr. Lewis deleted these passages after the Catholic Archbishop of Washington objected.)
On November 9, 1963, Richard Nixon declared that President Kennedy's "extravagant campaign promises" were largely responsible for the racial crisis facing the United States.
Comment on this Editorial
Editorial: In Broad Daylight
Signs of the Times
Ken McElroy - the common or garden variety 'failed' psychopath
Karl Rove - The smart professional psychopath who never gets caught
I just finished reading the book In
Broad Daylight, by Harry MacLean. It is an account of a murder in Skidmore, Missouri. To sum it up in a sentence, Ken McElroy, who could be described as a child
molester, rapist, wife-abuser, thief (he had no other source of income),
stalker - in
short, a violent psychopath - was eventually murdered by citizens of
the town he terrorized, after it became clear he would never be arrested or
charged for any of his crimes - his lawyer was too good, and he always
managed to threaten witnesses not to testify. His case offers a good frame
of reference for understanding how a psychopath gets away with his crimes,
and the effect he has on normal people.
"With Ken, everything was
always your fault. If he shot you, and you prosecuted him for it, you were
the bad guy. He would beat up Alice [his wife], beat her silly, she would complain,
and then she was the bad person because she was complaining. He shifted the
fault onto the victim, and then the victim became responsible for his pain." (MacLean,
This is typical psychopathic behaviour - blaming
the victim for the actions of the abuser. In biblical terms, it is called scapegoating.
The victim, or scapegoat, suffers for the sins of the psychopath. When stripped
of its slick veneer of propaganda,
's repeated offenses against the Palestinians (and Lebanese, and Egyptians,
and Syrians, etc.) amount to nothing more. They mercilessly torture and slaughter
the Arab population, and subsequently blame their victims for these very crimes.
When an Israeli
sniper shoots a Palestinian girl in the head, it is her own fault. Not
only that, it is the fault of every Palestinian. Collective punishment becomes 'self-defense' in
the mind of the psychopath.
Not only is the blame for their crimes shifted to an innocent
party, the crimes themselves often defy normal common sense and reason. When
Short Linville was asked by Romaine Henry, (whom McElroy had shot) to testify
at his trial as a witness (Linville had seen McElroy driving in the direction
of the victim, while McElroy later claimed to be at home), Linville said he
didn't even know if the man had been shot. After being shown the wounds,
Short said, "OK, now I know you been shot, but why were you shot? Nobody
shoots somebody without a reason."
The man replied, "Well there wasn't any reason, he (McElroy) just
came up and shot me."
Short thought, To hell with him. Why get into all that trouble if the man
going to tell the truth? Even when berated by his friends, Short
refused to testify. "If Romaine wouldn't tell him what had really
happened, he wouldn't testify on his behalf." (MacLean, 113, 116)
The Zionist criminals would have use believe Osama murdered
2752 innocent Americans for a reason - they were complicit in the crimes
and had to be killed as an example. They possessed 'freedoms' which
were hedonistic and contrary to Muslim values. But what was the real reason
these innocents were killed? The answer is: the same reason Ken McElroy shot
Romaine Henry in the stomach and head. While it may appear that there was no
logical reason (Romaine had done nothing to McElroy to deserve being shot,
and perhaps none of the people killed on 9/11 had done anything personally
to the real conspirators), each event served a definite purpose. For McElroy,
shooting Romaine put everyone in Skidmore in such a state of fear that they
were helpless to stand up for their rights. They knew McElroy could shoot a
man for no reason and get away with it. For the Zionist Neocons, the purpose
was the same: to scare the shit out of their own citizens and use that fear
to fulfill their genocidal agenda in the
. In short, it was to completely terrorize a gullible population. This is the
true meaning of the "War on Terror".
Not only is there often no reasonable justification for their
crimes, psychopaths are aware that normal people cannot conceive of committing
so heinous a deed for 'no reason', and take full advantage of that
fact. When in positions of extreme power (McElroy was a 'low-life' psychopath
compared to those who run governments and intelligence agencies) pyschopaths
organise the assassination of presidents; they carry out false-flag operations;
they murder their own citizens. When confronted with this notion, ordinary
people think, "There is no way my own government would do this. It is
too brazen. Surely someone would talk, and they would be found out." But
this type of thinking does not apply to psychopaths. While you or I cannot
conceive of telling such a big lie, psychopaths have no regard for the long-term
consequences of their actions. They do not think, But what if I get caught? They simply tell
another lie, and another, and another. They do not even have to be convincing
lies, to fool the ordinary citizen, it is enough that they are big and brazen.
Consider the pitiful explanations given for the 'crash' scene in
'crash' scene at the Pentagon, the spontaneous 'collapse' of
the World Trade Centers, the WMD claims against Iraq and now Iran (while Israel
is the only country in the Middle East to possess an entire arsenal of nuclear
warheads (up to 1,500) - a fact they still refuse to admit publicly).
When the Israeli/Neoconservative factions of the Israeli
and American governments planned and executed the false-flag operations of
September 11, 2001, they were counting on the fact that, no matter how obvious
was the evidence pointing to their guilt, normal
people would not be able to fathom such murderous mendacity. Ordinary citizens
would come up with excuses for the criminals without any necessary guidance.
Scientists would line up to force-fit the facts to match up with the official
narrative. Even though it sure looks like a 757 did not hit the Pentagon and
it sure looks like WTC towers 1, 2, and 7 were professionally demolished, there must be another explanation, in their
minds. So they come up with a suitably plausible lie to protect themselves
from the disintegrative state of accepting an uncomfortable truth.
It is not that the idea that the true culprits were not 19
card-carrying members of Al-Qaeda, or that the towers were demolished, or that
the phone-calls were faked that is unbelievable; a criminal is a criminal,
no matter what country he is from. The reason the idea is so difficult to accept
is one of responsibility. If Osama
really did it, all the average American would have to do is support and have
faith in her government to take care of business; support the troops and pray
the devil is brought to justice. But who becomes responsible for 'taking
of a government that is packed with corrupt, lying, murderous psychopaths?
Who investigates the criminals when they are the very men and women who would
be chosen to lead the investigation?
To the average American, denial of uncomfortable truths thus
takes priority over actually having to overcome apathy and laziness. This denial
is accompanied by a comfortable belief that no normal person would
have the audacity to commit such a crime in broad daylight. The fact is, they
did do it - in broad
daylight - with shocked looks on their faces, all-the-while knowing
that few would even question the fairy-tale they fobbed off on us as the 'truth'.
This is because psychopaths have a great understanding of
the way normal people think, and they know what they can get away with. The
owners of a local store in Skidmore [Bo & Lois Bowenkamp] were harassed
by McElroy after McElroy's daughter accused the store owner's employee of
calling one of McElroy's daughter a thief. McElroy's daughter had fabricated
the story, but this did not matter. After refusing McElroy's offer to
fight his wife for cash, and being stalked by him at her home, Lois "was
beginning to understand that, as far as the law was concerned, she and Bo [her
husband] would be left to deal with Ken McElroy by themselves. She was also
developing a bitter appreciation of McElroy's cunning. He
is smart, she thought. He knows just what he can get away with"
(MacLean, 146). With anyone else, the police would have given Mc Elroy a warning
to stay away from Lois and Bo. There were numerous laws that McElroy had broken,
but McElroy was left free to continue harassing, threatening, and stalking
In the same way, Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Zakheim, Rice and the whole sick
gang know what they can get away with. They know that with minimal effort they
can silence witnesses, have whistle-blowers murdered, buy judges and various 'experts',
investigate their own crimes (e.g. the whitewash 9/11 Commission), and get
people to believe their ridiculous stories.
"Stratton [the only cop McElroy feared] couldn't
account for his immunity from the law [McElroy won several dozen court cases
for felonies for which he was undoubtedly guilty]; he came to believe that
McElroy either got to the prosecutors, the judges, or the witnesses." (McLean,
shooting Bo Bowenkamp in the neck (a crime for which he was
eventually found guilty, although he served no time), McElroy was pulled over
by Stratton. When told about the shooting, McElroy said, "I ain't
shot nobody." Trena, his wife,
"He was home with me. All night. He didn't go anywhere." (MacLean,
Not only can psychopaths lie with a completely straight face,
the have a group of spellbound followers who are fully willing to lie for them.
McElroy's wives would do anything to cover up for their husband. Likewise,
the criminals responsible for 9/11 have a network of complicit liars, dupes,
and half-wits who will energetically proclaim their innocence. Academia, the
mass-media, the intelligence agencies, the military are all full of such types.
Michelle Malkin, Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly,
Rush Limbaugh, Hannity and Colmes,
Alan Dershowitz, various terrorism 'experts' and career military
men. The list is endless.
"[If] McElroy's actions
were methodical, his crime was crazy. Bo was not some lowlife who had provoked
McElroy by slurring a member of his family in the tavern. Bo was a nice old
man who had never met Ken McElroy until the confrontation in the grocery store
and, even then, he had had nothing to do with the little girl and the candy.
The arbitrariness of the attack was frightening. If it could happen to Bo,
it could happen to you, or your brother, or your daughter." (MacLean,
It was only after one man took a stand against McElroy's
bullying, and refused to accept his terror tactics, that the town realized
something could be done. The agreed to stand together, keep a close eye on
McElroy, and notify each other on his whereabouts. They refused to be terrorized
any longer. Perhaps it was too late for this reasonable approach. The day after
this decision, three young men decided it was not enough, and shot McElroy
in the head.
There is a war on terror being fought as we speak. The normal
people of the world are fighting the terror of their respective psychopathic
leaders. Which side are you on?
Israeli involvement on 911:
The Ken McElroy Story:
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Editorial: Field of Screams - The Real 2006 Election Winners and Losers
Joel S. Hirschhorn
Forget political correctness. The revolution has NOT arrived! Bush is still president. The corporate state is safe. The Upper Class has little to fear. Lobbyists will be writing different names on checks. Winning Democrats will entertain more than they will produce historic restorative reforms. Did Republicans deserve to lose? Of course!
However, Americans who thought their votes would bring much needed change to our political system also lost. They just don't know or admit it yet. As usual, the third-party movement lost, because the two-party duopoly maintained its stranglehold on our political system. Populists and true progressives lost. Who or what was the biggest winner? The short-term and delusional tactic of lesser-evil voting won big.
On the liberal left, millions of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war voters held their noses, repressed the truth about cowardly and compromised Democrats. They rationalized why beating Republicans was the most important goal. Fake, neo-progressives, little more than embarrassed Democrats, finally showed their true blue commitment. On the right, millions of fiscal conservative, pro-life, and evangelical voters blocked out many facts, disappointments and scandals, and rationalized why keeping Republicans in power was the most important goal. They wanted to stay the course. Many spiritual libertarians given no Libertarian Party candidates went red. Spiritual greens went blue. Many independents, centrists and moderates unable to vote for None of the Above, went lesser-evil. Self-delusion ran rampant as placebo voting ruled the day.
Mainstream media and Internet sites whipped up sports-like-beat-the-other-team enthusiasm masquerading as civic responsibility and patriotism. Political pundits, negative ads, and bloggers kept us entertained. The recipients of some $2 billion spent on campaigning made out like bandits. The postal system benefited. Landfills filled up faster from all the political junk mail. Despite all the hoopla, however, the majority of eligible voters were not motivated to vote. Do not ignore this sobering fact: It is estimated that national voter turnout was slightly over 40 percent, compared to 39.7 percent in the 2002 midterm. Two-party dominance does not bring out voters, and many Americans reject lesser-evil voting. Low voter turnout defines the opportunity for renewed new third-party efforts.
This much is clear: Voting has become more of a distraction from dealing with real problems confronting ordinary Americans, than a means to solving them. Voting should mean more than helping your side win. When it only comes down to defeating one party so that the other one wins, lesser-evil voting produces a different color of evil.
Two-party partisan change is not about attacking the status quo; it is about preserving the worst status quo of all: two-party control. Transferring power between the two major parties creates the dangerous illusion that our democracy works. The winner gets more money from corporate interests and their turn at pork spending, easier corrupt behavior and self-serving legislation.
Visualize this: Over decades our democracy has been sliding down a cheese grater. Stopping the slide and putting the pieces back together will require a mighty effort. Our wicked, unjust economy now uses consumer spending to destroy working- and middle-class Americans, increase economic inequality, and turn us into a two-class society with Upper and Lower Classes. Our government is an embarrassment, justifying global hatred of the USA. With so many voters unsure that their votes on electronic devices would be accurately counted, our electoral process is a joke. Hypocrisy trumps democracy.
This year, lesser-evil voting vented considerable anger, frustration and despair over the worst presidency in our history. In their hearts, however, the majority of Americans, no matter who they voted for, know that our nation will most likely remain on the wrong track. If political dissent becomes muted, then this election has cost us dearly. If anything, we still have dissent deficit.
In a Jeffersonian sense, we the people lost this election. Our delusional democracy with its delusional prosperity has survived. Our culture of lying and corruption has prevailed. Campaign promises will now be either forgotten or converted into deception and lies. We just heard a disgraced evangelical leader admit he was a "deceiver and a liar." Our winning and losing politicians, especially President Bush, will not make that same confession, though they should.
We should not be surprised that we have a delusional president; he suits a delusional democracy. Some do get the government they deserve, but most of us do not.
Power to the people remains a distant political goal. We now move on to the next cycle of lies and lesser-evil voting - the 2008 presidential campaign, that the Republicans are now more motivated than ever to win. Worse than not admitting the emperor has no clothes is not seeing a whole democracy without trustworthiness, accountability and credibility.
You are thinking "What a cynic he is." But I see it as reality based, anti-delusional thinking. I take small comfort in knowing that I am not alone. Despite being anti-Bush, I could not become an enthusiastic supporter of Democrats. After decades of lesser-evil voting I found my inner conscience and commitment to political dissent, to what I call progressive civil disobedience.
Decades of empirical evidence had shown me that neither Democrats nor Republicans would ever deliver quality to our democracy and justice to our economy. Yes, I went and voted, for third-party candidates that were uniformly more qualified than the major party candidates, and on ballot measures. I asked for a paper ballot, but was told it was not an option.
Long live delusion. May it protect the millions of Americans without good paying jobs or job security, without health insurance, without confidence that they will be able to keep paying their mortgages and credit card debt, without hope that global warming will be effectively addressed, without confidence that social security will be there when they need it; and without hope that their children will have a better, higher quality of life than theirs. And surely few believe that political corruption and scandals are now gone. If all politics are local, so is all corruption.
Lesser-evil voting has brought us here, to a lesser-quality democracy with a lesser-quality government, lesser-quality economy, lesser-quality health care system, and lesser-quality education system.
Under two-party rule, we have arrived at the sorry state where nearly 75 percent of Americans believe the nation faces a leadership crisis, according to a new survey. It also found evidence of an epidemic of self-delusion. People think that among the top 32 industrialized nations the U.S. ranks 10th for citizens' life expectancy, when it really ranks 24th; that is ranks 15th for economic equality and mathematics literacy, when it actually ranks 30th and 25th, respectively. Being the only superpower is one thing. Being the best democracy is something else entirely.
Despite widespread delusion pain seeps through. So the pharmaceutical industry will make bigger profits from even greater demand for anti-depressants, sleeping pills, and new anti-obesity drugs. Shopping, eating, Internet surfing, pornography and gambling will keep feeding distraction. The rich and super-rich will keep finding ways to spend their super-sized wealth, and avoid taxes. American soldiers will keep dying in senseless wars. Globalization, pushed by sycophants like Tom Friedman (who lives in a $9 million house), will keep sucking the lifeblood out of our nation, as will hoards of illegal immigrants. Americans have no nearby richer country to flee to, so we must numb our pain.
Long live delusion. Our new congress will surely keep us entertained. Behind the scenes lobbyists will create new, less visible ways to corrupt our elected MISrepresentatives. There will be much talk about our lame duck president, but not about our lame duck democracy.
Tell me, to begin a Second American Revolution, when will millions of clear-minded dissenters unite behind a new centrist or populist party and take back our nation?
You will decide, through attention or distraction, through truth or delusion, through action or passivity.
Let us not forget that a MAJORITY of Americans did NOT speak with their votes. They rejected both Democrats and Republicans. That only 40 percent bothered to vote, especially this year, shames our nation and confirms that we have a delusional democracy.
And remember this wisdom: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Our behind-the-scenes Ruling Class remains; they will now speed dial more Democrats.
Comment on this Editorial
Editorial: Our Long National Nightmare Has Just Begun
Wed Nov 8, 2006
NEW YORK--"My fellow Americans," assured incoming president Gerald Ford hours after the Watergate scandals forced
Richard Nixon to resign, "our long national nightmare is over."
I'm tempted, in the aftermath of the widest and most stunning electoral repudiation of Republicanism since Watergate, to mark the Democratic recapture of governorships, the House of Representatives (and probably the Senate) as the beginning of the end of Bush's fascism lite, and thus a long overdue vindication of what I've been saying about him since his December 2000 coup d'état.
Back in 2001 and 2002, state-controlled media called me radical. Now, with most Americans seeing things my way, I'm mainstream. Yet I'm more scared now.
"Iraq," I wrote a week before the 2003 invasion, "will probably be Bush's Waterloo." And so it has been: Exit polls found voters more motivated by opposition to the war than any other issue. "There was general revulsion in the country, particularly among Democrats and independents, against the conduct of the war in Iraq," said pollster John Zogby. "This was, at the grass roots, a referendum against the war and the president. For Republicans, there was significant disappointment about opportunities lost through enormous budget deficits, threats to civil liberties, a failed social agenda, and the war." Although Democrats failed to nationalize the election, Iraq succeeded: a pitiful seven percent of respondents to the latest Gallup survey still want to "stay the course."
A White House controlled by an unpopular, highly partisan lame duck, a rival party majority without enough votes in Congress to override his veto, and the early start of a highly anticipated 2008 presidential campaign add up to one likely result: gridlock. Bush's legislative and military agendas are dead. But our long national nightmare has just begun.
A Frightening New Security State
We'll be cleaning up Bush's mess long after his scheduled abdication on January 20, 2009. But the trillions of dollars in national debt he has run up and his two losing wars will drain our economy for decades to come. We've provoked a new generation of terrorists. Yet even more damaging and nearly impossible to unravel will be the threats to Americans posed by the neofascist national security apparatus the Bushists will leave behind--unless they use it to remain in power.
Shortly after 9/11 Bush began the first of a long series of power grabs that have transformed him from the leader of a country beholden to its people to an authoritarian despot. He signed a secret executive order granting himself the right to declare anyone in the world, including a U.S. citizen, an "enemy combatant"--without proof--and order him assassinated. Violating federal law and privacy rights, Bush authorized the NSA to listen to our phone calls and read our e-mail.
FBI, CIA and HomeSec goons "disappeared" thousands of people into a horrible new matrix of concentration camps and secret prisons.
On October 17, 2006 Bush signed the Military Commissions Act. The new law, scarcely mentioned in the media, is breathtaking for the breadth of its attack on basic rights. Under the MCA either the president or the secretary of defense may declare you an "enemy combatant"--as usual, without proof. Under that designation you may be jailed, without the right to an attorney, for the rest of your life. You can even be tortured. Your U.S. citizenship can't protect you. And it's all "legal."
In January 2006 HomeSec awarded a $385 million contract to Kellogg, Brown and Root, the subsidiary of Halliburton Co., to build "temporary detention and processing capabilities" -- internment camps -- "in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."
The question, asks Progressive magazine editor Ruth Conniff, "is what is the government planning to do with mass roundups of people?" After all, Bush and other Republican leaders have spent five years calling Democrats and others who disagree with them traitors and terrorists. Following so much hateful rhetoric, you can't blame liberals for wondering whether they too are about to be declared "enemy combatants." They're not paranoid; they're just paying attention.
And Now, Martial Law
About a week ago some left-wing bloggers began circulating rumors that Bush had secretly signed something called the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" that "allows the president to declare a 'public emergency' and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to 'suppress public disorder.'" I couldn't find the text of the law at the time, formerly H.R. 5122, or a reliable media account, so I decided not to report on it.
I can now confirm the bloggers' account. Bush signed the JWDAA hours after the MCA, in a furtive closed-door White House ceremony. There is, buried deep down in Title V, Subtitle B, Part II, Section 525(a) of the JWDAA, a coup. The Bush Administration has quietly stolen the National Guard away from the states.
Here's the relevant section of Public Law 109-364:
"The [military] Secretary [of the Army, Navy or Air Force] concerned may order a member of a reserve component under the Secretary's jurisdiction to active duty...The training or duty ordered to be performed...may include...support of operations or missions undertaken by the member's unit at the request of the President or Secretary of Defense."
The National Guard, used to maintain order during natural disasters and civil disturbances and the sole vehicle available under U.S. law to enforce a declaration of martial law, has previously been controlled by state governors. They have now been stripped of that control. Thanks to the JWDAA, Bush or Rumsfeld can now deploy National Guardsmen in American cities without obtaining permission from state governors.
Section 526 of the Warner Act goes further still. It states that the "Governor of a State...with the consent of the [military] Secretary concerned, may order a member of the National Guard to perform Active Guard and Reserve duty..." The key word is "may." A governor can no longer deploy the Guard in his or her state without first getting Rumsfeld's permission.
Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sounded the alarm during senatorial debate, but U.S. state-controlled media ignored him. The Warner Act, he said, "includes language that subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military's involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law...We fail our Constitution, neglecting the rights of the states, when we make it easier for the president to declare martial law and trample on local and state sovereignty."
Only one governor, Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana, made a fuss over the Warner Act. A spokesman for the National Governors Association requested a wimpy "clarification" concerning what circumstances might prompt Bush to impose martial law. As far as I can determine this column marks the first time the JWDAA has been mentioned in the mainstream media.
Now the dark men who engineered America's post-9/11 police state have watched the public reject their policies. The incoming Democratic majority Congress will be able to hold hearings and launch investigations that could lead to their indictments and removal from office. John Dingell, the liberal incoming chairman of the Commerce Committee did nothing to dissuade GOP fears of "a blizzard of subpoenas": "As the Lord High Executioner said in 'The Mikado,'" Dingell recently joked, "I have a little list."
A year of crisis commences.
As ugly secrets surface, Bushists will turn desperate. Democracy has failed their grand schemes; token resignations like Rumsfeld's come too little, too late. Only tyranny can save their skins. Will the beleaguered neocons led by Cheney and Bush, cornered like rats, unleash their brand-new police state on their political opponents? Or will they tough it out and suck up the fines and prison sentences to come? The next year or two could go either way.
The nightmare is not over.
(Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?," an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge.)
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America, Nowhere To Go But Down
60% Didn't Vote In US Elections
November 9, 2006
WASHINGTON - Almost 79 million people voted in Tuesday's election, with Democrats drawing more support than Republicans for the first time in a midterm election since 1990, according to a private analysis.
The overall turnout rate, reflecting a percentage of voting age population, was 40.4 percent, compared with 39.7 percent in 2002, the director of American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
A preliminary analysis showed that turnout was down in some states and higher in others - notably up in Virginia, where it appeared more people voted than in any midterm in the state before, researcher Curtis Gans said.
The highest recent midterm turnout was 42.1 percent in 1982.
The total popular vote nationwide was 78,707,495.
In Virginia, where Democratic challenger James Webb's lead over Republican incumbent George Allen was razor thin, an estimated 43.7 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, compared with 29.2 percent in 2002, the last nonpresidential election year.
Ohioans also came out in substantially greater numbers. Unofficial figures showed 44.6 percent of eligible voters cast ballots compared with 38.4 percent in 2002.
Turnout was substantially higher in Michigan, Missouri, Connecticut and Montana; it was somewhat higher in Delaware and Kentucky.
Comment: Let's get this straight: 60% of Americans who were eligible to vote in the recent elections did not even bother. Is that not the most important comment of all from this round of phony Democracy? I mean, who does the idiots in Congress and the Senate think they are governing?! Do they expect people to actually vote for or against their corrupt little games? No one cares! Clearly, the American people have no faith in their government or any so-called Democratic process, yet these pathocrats continue on as if they really are oh, so important!
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Howard Dean to Jon Stewart: We Won't Impeach Bush
By E&P Staff
November 08, 2006
Summary: Appearing on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" tonight, Democratic Party chief Howard Dean told host Jon Stewart, "I know half your audience wants us to impeach the president"-- this drew wide cheers -- "but it's not going to happen."
Stewart also said that President Bush seemed a bit humbled during his press conference today and perhaps was ready to compromise and work with the Democrats. Dean reminded him that this was the same person who brought us "Rumsfeld and Cheney."
NEW YORK - Appearing on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" tonight, Democratic Party chief Howard Dean told host Jon Stewart, "I know half your audience wants us to impeach the president"-- this drew wide cheers -- "but it's not going to happen."
Stewart apologized to Dean for telling him on a previous appearance that the Democrats could not possibly win unless they staked out a clear policy on Iraq and other issues. In Stewart's view, they didn't, and won anyway.
He also noted the two key breakups announced Wednesday: Britney and KFed and Bush and "DFeld," as Stewart called Donald Rumsfeld.
Stewart also said that President Bush seemed a bit humbled during his press conference today and perhaps was ready to compromise and work with the Democrats. Dean reminded him that this was the same person who brought us "Rumsfeld and Cheney."
Later, on the Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert noted the election success enjoyed by nearly everyone who had appeared on his show this year, such as Rep. Eliot Engel of New York -- who had let him comb his moustache.
John Hall, who won a stunning upset fofr Congress, also in upstate New York -- after getting what Colbert called "The Colbert Bump"-- returned to the show and the two sang a rousing version of "The Star Spangled Banner." They had done the same in Hall's first visit, but it was cut from the show-- but ended up on YouTube. So this one was for everyone. Hall is the former leader of the rock group Orleans, best known for '70s hits such as "She's the One."
Rep. John Conyers, a leading House proponent of impeaching the president -- and soon to head a key committee -- said Thursday that this notion was now off the table.
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Bush, Pelosi extend hand of partnership
Buenos Aires Herald
WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush took a conciliatory step yesterday toward Nancy Pelosi, leader-to-be of the House of Representatives, after her Democratic Party gave his Republicans a trouncing in this week's elections - but not before telling Congress to complete a hefty list of assignments while his party is still in charge.
After a bitter campaign that sometimes got personal between the president and the woman to be House speaker, the two had a makeup luncheon at the White House. Appearing before reporters in the Oval Office after an hour of private discussions, the emphasis was on finding common ground and ignoring talk of bedeviling specifics, such as their division over the Iraq war. They took no questions.
Neither Bush nor Pelosi, however, completely ignored that they often disagree.
"When you win, you have a responsibility to do the best you can for the country," Bush said, with Vice-President Dick Cheney sitting glumly on a couch to his left. "We won't agree on every issue, but we do agree that we love America."
"We both extended the hand of friendship and partnership to solve the problems facing our country," added Pelosi, like the president eagerly leaning forward in her chair. "We have our differences and we will debate them ... but we will do so in a way that gets results." She pledged to represent everyone in the House. "I understand my responsibility: of speaker of the House, of all of the House, not just the Democrats.
"I look forward to working in a confidence-building way with the president recognizing that we have our differences and we will debate them, and that is what our founders intended, but we will do so in a way that gets results for the American people," she said.
Bush extended the lunch invitation after this week's election that will put Democrats in charge of the House and the Senate for the final two years of his presidency.
Earlier, after meeting with his Cabinet and Republican leaders from the House and Senate, the president ticked off a to-do list for the current Congress before January's changeover in power.
It included: spending bills funding government's continued operation "with strong fiscal discipline and without diminishing our capacity to fight the war on terror;" legislation retroactively authorizing his warrantless domestic surveillance of suspected terrorists; energy legislation; and congressional approval for a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with India and for normalizing trade relations with Vietnam. "The next few weeks are going to be busy ones," the president said.
Comment: As we said, no change in US politics.
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Bush, Democrats spar anew over Bolton
Thu Nov 9, 2006
WASHINGTON - US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton looked at risk of becoming the second senior Bush administration figure to become a casualty after the Democratic Party's election triumph.
President George W. Bush threw down a new challenge to Congress by resubmitting Bolton's nomination, but Democrats and a rebel Republican signalled they would again oppose the hawkish ambassador's nomination.
Bush's move, a day after he parted company with outspoken Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, sparked immediate claims by Democrats that his promises of bipartisanship following Tuesday's elections were hollow.
Bush originally named Bolton last year, but was forced to use a device known as a recess appointment to bypass Senate objections.
But the position expires when the new Congress convenes in January, and Bolton would need to be confirmed to carry on in a post granted added importance by intense diplomacy over
North Korea's and Iran's nuclear programs.
The latest nomination was announced in a statement by the White House, and appeared to have been timed to coincide with a "lame duck" session of Congress controlled by Republicans next week before Democrats take control in January.
Democrats have been united in opposing Bolton, who is close to Vice President Dick Cheney, and there is no chance he could be approved when they take control of the upper chamber.
Bolton's chances of being confirmed in the "lame-duck" session of Congress -- which opens next week still under control of the Republicans -- also appear slim.
A spokesman for Senator Lincoln Chafee, a Republican of Rhode Island who blocked approval of Bolton, and who lost his seat on Tuesday, said his boss would again vote 'No' in the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Asked whether the nomination was therefore dead, he answered "it's done."
The Bush administration, however, said Bolton deserved a vote.
"We believe that he deserves an up-or-down vote; that if he gets such a vote that he would win it in the Senate. He has been extraordinarily effective up there at the UN," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
But Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, a fierce Bolton opponent, hit out at Bush for lodging the new nomination, on a day he promised to work with Democrats, following the rejection of congressional Republicans at the ballot box.
"Trying to jam this nomination through during a lame duck session may indicate that the President didn't fully hear the voice of the American public and that is troubling," Dodd said.
"The President should immediately rethink this nomination."
Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, in line to take over the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the new Congress, quickly signalled Thursday that Democrats would not allow Bush to get Bolton's nomination through.
"I see no point in considering Mr. Bolton's nomination again in the Foreign Relations Committee, because regardless of what happens there, he is unlikely to be considered by the full Senate," Biden said in a statement.
"Mr. Bolton did not get a vote in the full Senate last year because the administration refused, with no justification, to allow the Senate to review documents highly relevant to his nomination.
"Unless the administration provides the Senate with the documents it is entitled to see, Mr. Bolton should not get a vote."
A spokesman for Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it was not clear if Bolton would get a vote on the panel next week.
Given the fierce opposition to Bolton, the White House's decision to renew it on a day when it was stressing the need for all sides to work together in the aftermath of Tuesday's huge political shift puzzled some observers.
One insider closely familiar with the issue suggested Bush may have been sending a signal to Congress, that despite the Republican defeat, he still intended to set the agenda in foreign affairs.
Another rejection of Bolton might allow the White House to blame the Democrats for souring the new mood of bipartisanship in Washington.
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UN May Be Rescued from Bolton
Washington, Nov 10 (Prensa Latina)
The possibilities that John Bolton continue holding his post as US Ambassador to the United Nations diminished on Friday when a Republican senator backed democratic rejection to confirm his post.
The possible removal of Bolton would represent the second important loss of a top official member of President George W. Bush s team, after the US mid-term elections turned into a devastating defeat for the governing party.
US Minister of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned on Wednesday amid a wave of strong criticism for the catastrophic course of the war against Iraq, where over 2,840 American soldiers have died so far.
The Bush government wants to keep its representative to the UN at least until 2007, but that needs to be confirmed by the Senate, with democrat majority from January on.
USA Today daily reported that Republican senator Lincoln Chafee, who determines the balance vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee, said he will not support the White House nomination.
Analysts agree that the doors have been closed for Bolton since Bush s opponents are ready to take the control of the Congress in January.
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A Correction in the New York Times
9 November 2006
The last erratum from the New York Times. It's authentic:
An article yesterday about a meeting at the French Mission of the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germay on a resolution to curb Iran's nuclear program misstated how the American representative, Ambassador John R. Bolton, rushed off to his next destination after the meeting. Mr. Bolton's spokesman, Richard A. Grenell, said Mr. Bolton walked. He did not get into a limousine.
Comment: It's good to see they are on top of things. Maybe now they'll investigate the WMDs in Iraq?
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Friday November 10, 2006
To the delight of many around the globe, Donald Rumsfeld, architect of the Iraq invasion, has finally lost his place at the heart of the Bush administration. During his years in power, he was variously described as 'a hottie', 'inspirational' and 'the most ruthless man I've ever met' ... by Henry Kissinger (allegedly). He was also arrogant and chillingly indifferent to the human cost of war.
In December 2001, at the dawn of an era that may already have begun to slip into memory, the pages of the conservative American magazine National Review all but crackled with excitement about the unfolding conflict in Afghanistan, and, specifically, the man who was in charge of it. "Who's the 'star' of this war so far?" the columnist Jay Nordlinger asked in a breathless cover story. "That's a vulgar consideration, given the awful work that has to be done. But there is, undeniably, an answer: Don Rumsfeld. Yes, Rumsfeld: defence secretary, TV personality, sex symbol ... role model, inspiration. As one Washington arbiter puts it, 'Rummy' is the man now. The man to whom the nation turns, the man to whom it listens. Nearly everyone - Republican or Democrat - sees him as the right guy at the right time in the right job." Rumsfeld, Nordlinger wrote, was "this war's pin-up, its Betty Grable". Three months later, a slim hardback book bearing Rumsfeld's craggy portrait started to appear in the "business motivation" sections of US bookstores. Its title was The Rumsfeld Way: The Leadership Wisdom of a Battle-Hardened Maverick.
Opponents of the Bush administration are fully entitled to their yelps of triumph and warm feelings of schadenfreude in the aftermath of Rumsfeld's resignation this week, a development that will be interpreted as the ultimate presidential admission of failure in Iraq. The evidence testifying to the defence secretary's cosmic levels of incompetence had grown too great even for his former supporters to deny. Nobody was venturing the opinion that he was "the man" any more - certainly not Republican candidates for Congress, many of whom used their campaigns to call for his departure.
But the rapidity with which things have changed shouldn't blind us to the fact that Nordlinger, for all his unseemly delight in the context of 9/11 and war, had a point. Rumsfeld did have admirers across the spectrum. Even his enemies acknowledged a kind of magnetic oddness, a bluntness of manner combined with a wolfishness evocative of Jack Nicholson that made it hard not to stop what you were doing when his face appeared on the television screen. Then there was the wit. George Bush just mangled his words. But the defence secretary's famous "Rumsfeldisms" proved so hypnotic precisely because they hinted at oceans of meaning, even if the meaning was usually elusive, like a Zen koan. "Things will not be necessarily continuous," he told reporters in October 2001. "The fact that they are something other than perfectly continuous ought not to be characterised as a pause. There will be some things that people will see. There will be some things that people won't see. And life goes on."
Whatever else it may herald, this week's news marks the end of the public career of one of the most profoundly strange political personalities in US history. Or at least one assumes that it does, since Rumsfeld is 74 now. In fact, though, his career in government has proved so repeatedly impossible to kill off - stretching back as it does to the Eisenhower administration - that political obituaries may even now be premature.
The notion of Rumsfeld's sexual allure was a popular one in 2001 and 2002: Dick Cheney even gruffly conceded in a television interview that the secretary of defence was a "babe magnet", albeit only "for the 70-year-old crowd". ("Babe magnet for the over-70s? C'mon, Mr Vice President!" one poster wrote on the National Review's website. "I'm a finely aged 32-year-old Texas broad, and I proclaim Don Rumsfeld my Hottie of the Month.") It was hardly the stuff of serious geopolitical debate. But the Rumsfeld-as-sex-god thesis - much more often referenced, interestingly, by male conservatives than by anyone else - was part of a broader cult of personality that saw him as the man of the hour, and a man for the future. Since serving as an aide to Richard Nixon and defence secretary under Gerald Ford, Rumsfeld had spent a decade as chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant GD Searle, where he had garnered a reputation for being a hard-nosed boss, slashing the workforce and turning the troubled business around.
The plan for his return to the Pentagon was to bring tough lessons from corporate America to the US military, transforming it from a lumbering cold-war behemoth to a nimble strategic force capable of fighting new kinds of wars. It did seem as if he might be the man for that job. "He's a ruthless little bastard, you can be sure of that," President Nixon had said of Rumsfeld, a remark captured in 1971 on the White House's hidden taping system. According to legend, Henry Kissinger even described him as the most ruthless man he had ever met; higher praise, given its source, is difficult to imagine.
It may only have been because of 9/11 that things didn't go wrong immediately for Rumsfeld. "You've got to remember that during the first eight months of his time in office, the Pentagon was in chaos," says Harlan Ullman, a senior adviser at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and the man principally credited with inventing the doctrine of "shock and awe", the approach the administration planned to use to ensure swift and decisive victory in Iraq. "Nobody had the slightest idea what 'transformation' was, and Rumsfeld was on the endangered species list. Time magazine ran a cover, asking where Colin Powell had gone. And from those ashes Rumsfeld became a phoenix. The war in Afghanistan dazzled people - people thought we'd repeat the British experience there, the Soviet experience - and we didn't. Rumsfeld was determined to do Iraq with an equally brilliant plan, a plan that would be the proof of transformation, taking the military out of the industrial age and putting it into the information age. There was euphoria."
But behind the scenes, Rumsfeld's abrasive manner and idiosyncratic style of management caused immediate strains with the Pentagon's most senior generals, as Bob Woodward's most recent book on the Iraq war, State of Denial, makes clear. At press conferences, he treated General Richard B Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff , as a trusted colleague and friend: "Calibrate me, Dick," was the curious turn of phrase he used when he wanted Myers to verify the accuracy of a statement he was making to journalists. In private, by contrast, he was obsessed with the idea that Myers and the other generals were hoarding too much information, disrupting the chain of command that placed Rumsfeld, as a civilian, at the pinnacle of military decision-making. "Where's the loyalty here?" he screamed at one point, according to Woodward, who adds: "[Rumsfeld] proceeded to give Myers a royal ass-chewing."
Working standing up in his office at a lectern, Rumsfeld fired off thousands of unsigned, oneline memos, known as "Rummy's snowflakes". In a self-congratulatory article published in the Wall Street Journal shortly after he took office, the defence secretary published "Rumsfeld's Rules", a list of proverbs accumulated during a life in business and politics. It is striking how many of them he seems to have completely ignored. "Don't 'overcontrol' like a novice pilot," ran one such rule. "Stay loose enough from the flow that you can observe, calibrate and refine." (Others include "Don't think of yourself as indispensable or infallible" and "Don't allow people to be excluded from a meeting, or denied an opportunity to express their views, because their views differ from the president's views.") In fact, if Woodward is to be believed, overcontrol was the order of the day. "Rumsfeld was into everyone's business," he writes. "No one was immune. Many in the Pentagon looked on the snowflakes as an annoyance. Others found them intrusive, and at times petty. For some, there was no way to keep up."
At first, the public saw little of this. In TV appearances Rumsfeld was immediately engaging, verbally jousting with journalists and implying, in his responses, that he was simultaneously more folksy, more plainspoken, and yet more intelligent than they were. The Rumsfeldisms continued to flow. Eventually, as the Iraq war got under way, a journalist for the Syracuse Post-Standard, Hart Seely, had the kind of flash of inspiration that makes other reporters deeply jealous. He collected some of the defence secretary's most mysterious sayings into a book, inserting line-breaks and calling the collection, which became a bestseller, The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld. An example:
You know, it's the old glass box at the -
At the gas station,
Where you're using those little things
Trying to pick up the prize, And you can't find it.
And it's all these arms are going down in there.
And so you keep dropping it
And picking it up again and moving it
Some of you are probably too young to remember those -
Those glass boxes,
But they used to have them
At all the gas stations
When I was a kid.
The irony is that the most famous of the Rumsfeldisms - about known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns - is not the baffling outburst of meaninglessness his critics have often made it out to be. It was good advice, about managing uncertainty and not proceeding on the basis of a presumed reality that might not match the objective one. The problem was that Rumsfeld didn't heed it.
It's impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when Rumsfeld's apparent straightforwardness in press conferences decisively crossed the line into arrogance, into seeming glibly untroubled by tragedy. But by the time he declared that looting in Iraq proved simply that "freedom is untidy", and that "stuff happens", the moment had passed. The catalogue of his failures is well established now. He waved aside any consideration of a postwar plan, and, as the journalist Seymour Hersh has shown, spent the run-up to the invasion personally tweaking plans to shave off "unnecessary" troops up to the last minute. He approved the disbanding of the Iraqi army, dismissed concerns about torture and insisted that minors held in Guantánamo Bay were "not children".
Objecting to a Pentagon lawyer's advice on how the military could ensure compliance with international conventions on torture, he scrawled in handwriting on an internal document: "I stand for eight to 10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?" And in Woodward's book, he uses an extraordinary analogy when discussing attacks by insurgents in Iraq. "A random round can be an attack, and all the way up to killing 50 people someplace. So you've got a whole fruit bowl of different things - a banana and an apple and an orange." ("I was speechless," Woodward recalls.)
In 2004, an unnamed White House official told the journalist Ron Suskind, disparagingly, that critics like Suskind inhabited the "reality-based community ... We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality". Rumsfeld had become one of the chief engines of the notion that insisting on a particular version of the reality in Iraq would somehow cause that version to be manifested. It was the power of positive thinking, as applied to geopolitics, and by 2005 it had gone too far for a slew of retired generals, who joined the calls for Rumsfeld to resign.
Harlan Ullman defends Rumsfeld, stressing that Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice also bear responsibility for the disaster in Iraq - along, of course, with the man ultimately responsible, George Bush. But he agrees that the defence secretary was not a personality easily able to accept that he was wrong. ("First law of holes: if you're in one, stop digging," reads one of Rumsfeld's Rules.) "He is extraordinarily bright and he's tough and you've got to stand up to him," Ullman says. "He doesn't tolerate fools at all. But he was abrasive and arrogant, and he did have a disdain for Congress, and ultimately all this harmed him."
There is one passage in Jay Nordlinger's excitable 2001 National Review article that rings especially hollow five years later. Nordlinger refers to the anecdote as "semi-legend", and presents it as evidence of Rumsfeld's obsession with precision: "precise words, precise thoughts, precise actions". It supposedly took place in 1996, when Rumsfeld was acting as chairman of Bob Dole's fruitless campaign for the presidency. "Rumsfeld has a recent lawschool grad working as his secretary," Nordlinger relates. "The guy - green, un-Rumsfeldised - screws up somehow, and Rumsfeld gives him what for. He lectures him as follows. 'You must learn to be precise. In the drug business, if I'm imprecise, people will die. In the Pentagon, if I'm imprecise, people will die'".
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FBI probes use of force in L.A. arrest
By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ
November 10, 2006
LOS ANGELES - Video footage posted on YouTube.com showing a police officer repeatedly striking a suspect in the face during an arrest three months ago has triggered an FBI investigation.
The video shows two officers holding down William Cardenas, 24, on a Hollywood street as one punches him several times in the face before they are able to handcuff him. The struggling suspect yells repeatedly "I can't breathe!"
The footage, shot by an area resident, came to the FBI's attention Thursday, prompting investigators to open a civil rights inquiry into the Aug. 11 incident, agency spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The police department has begun its own criminal and administrative investigations into the officers' use of force, said police spokesman Lt. Paul Vernon.
The officers were identified as Alexander Schlegel and Patrick Farrell. Both have been reassigned to administrative work.
"There's no denying that the video is disturbing," Chief William Bratton said at a news conference. "But as to whether the actions of the officers were appropriate in light of what they were experiencing and the totality of the circumstances is what the investigation will determine."
Vernon said Cardenas is a known gang member who had been wanted on a felony warrant for receiving stolen property.
In an arrest report obtained by The Associated Press, the officers said they tried to arrest Cardenas as he and two others were drinking beer on a sidewalk.
Cardenas ran and the officers caught up to him, tripped him and swarmed over him to apply handcuffs, the report said.
The officers described repeated blows to the suspect's face in the report, as well as his efforts to resist, and their concern that he might grab one of their guns during the brawl.
"The suspect's hand covered my partner's gun holster so I yelled at my partner to watch his gun. My partner responded by capping his gun and delivering a left elbow to the suspect's face causing the suspect to let go of him," the report said.
With Cardenas still resisting, one officer used pepper spray on him, but that had "little effect," the report said. The officers were only able to handcuff him after two of his friends arrived and told him to stop fighting, according to the report.
Cardenas suffered cuts and bruises on his arms, leg and face, and received stitches on an eyelid. His attorney, B. Kwaku Duren, accused the officers of violating his client's civil rights and claimed department investigators were stalling.
"I think the LAPD is being caught covering up an obvious excessive use of force," he said.
Cardenas, who was held without bail, faces charges of resisting arrest.
Authorities learned of the video footage when the defense made it public Sept. 14 during Cardenas' preliminary hearing, police said. The district attorney's office will decide whether to continue with the case, which is scheduled for trial Nov. 20, said spokeswoman Jane Robison.
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Pro-gun, anti-abortion and fiscally conservative: meet the neo-Dems
Ed Pilkington in New York
Friday November 10, 2006
The forging of a cohesive domestic reform agenda will be complicated by the fact that several of the new intake of Democrats in the Congress are socially conservative and in favour of policies traditionally associated with the Republicans they ousted. Some of them are pro-guns while others are anti-abortion. Some oppose stem cell research using human embryos, and many are on the wing of the Democratic party that believes in fiscal rectitude and tight control on public spending.
The conservative Democrats, or new Democrats as they are sometimes called, were disproportionately represented in the most highly contested races against Republicans, and are likely to form a substantial bloc within the new members.
Heath Shuler, a former American football celebrity who now holds a House of Representatives' seat for North Carolina, is representative of the group. He has an evangelical Christian background and is on the right of the argument on many social issues such as abortion.
Democratic party leaders deny that they had an official strategy to plant right-wing candidates in vulnerable Republican seats as a way of winning over voters. But Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the campaign to win back the House of Representatives, has said that when they searched for candidates with the best hopes of winning, they ended up with several with a moderate approach. "As a group, they are moderate in temperament and reformers in spirit," he said.
That is not the experience of Mr Shuler, who told local newspapers that he had been reluctant to stand for election but was strong-armed into it by Mr Emanuel. "Rahm was tougher than any of the college coaches who were calling me when I was in high school. None of [the coaches] could hold a candle to Rahm Emanuel as a recruiter," he said.
The number of conservative Democrats among the 28 who wrestled house seats from Republican incumbents has yet to emerge, but with 27 of the 40 candidates in the most contested seats falling into this category, the figure could be substantial. They will join an already sizeable caucus within the Democrats in Congress who are on the right of the party and will be encouraged to line up formally with the two existing sub-groups: the New Democrats and the Blue Dog Coalition.
The Blue Dog Coalition was formed in 1995, largely among southern Democrats, and advocates a balanced budget and moderate-to-conservative social policies. It has actively put forward candidates in elections since 1998, known as Blue Pups.
The presence of the new Democrat intake is likely to impinge on the search for a clear consensus within the party on domestic issues. Stem cell research is an example of the policy areas that could cause internal dissension.
The new Democratic senator for Pennsylvania, Bob Casey, is against stem cell research involving embryos and made it clear during the campaign that he would oppose any attempt to extend federal funds to support it. On the other hand, Claire McCaskill, the new Democratic senator for Missouri, was elected partly with the help of actor Michael J Fox, who funded TV adverts backing her because of her advocacy for embryonic stem cell research. Other areas of potential disagreement include abortion and the gun laws, with Jim Webb, the winner of the Senate seat for Virginia, being pro-gun.
Mr Shuler and Brad Ellsworth of Indiana are among the new anti-abortion Democrats, which could become an issue if the question of whether to reduce the time limit for terminations comes before Congress.
Harry Reid, the majority leader-elect in the Senate, was asked about abortion at a press conference the day after the election. "If it's an issue, we deal with it," he said. "The first thing we've got to do is stop unintended pregnancies. That solves a lot of the abortion problem right there."
Economic policy could also cause ructions, with many newcomers being fiscally conservative, while those on the liberal wing of the party, including many of its leaders such as Nancy Pelosi, the house Speaker-elect, favour investment in public services.
Senator Reid said: "I think we've shown, these past two years, that we're a team. We have wide and varying political philosophies within this team. And what we've done is we've used these team members, with their strengths. And we're going to continue to do that."
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Earth Struggles To Cope With Humans
Expert says oceans are rapidly turning acidic
By ANTHONY MITCHELL
Thu Nov 9, 2006
NAIROBI, Kenya - The world's oceans are becoming more acidic, which poses a threat to sea life and Earth's fragile food chain, a climate expert said Thursday.
Oceans have already absorbed a third of the world's emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming, leading to acidification that prevents vital sea life from forming properly.
"The oceans are rapidly changing," said professor Stefan Rahmstorf on the sidelines of a U.N. conference on climate change that has drawn delegates from more than 100 countries to Kenya. "Ocean acidification is a major threat to marine organisms."
Fish stocks and the world's coral reefs could also be hit while acidification risks "fundamentally altering" the food chain, he said.
In a study titled "The Future Oceans - Warming Up, Rising High, Turning Sour," Rahmstorf and eight other scientists warned that the world is witnessing, on a global scale, problems similar to the acid rain phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s.
Rahmstorf, the head of Germany's Potsdam Institute for Research into Climatic Effects, says more research is urgently needed to assess the impact of ocean acidification.
David Santillo, a senior scientist at Greenpeace's Research Laboratories in Exeter, Britain, said it had come as a shock to scientists that the oceans are turning acidic because of carbon dioxide emissions.
"The knock on effect for humans is that some of these marine resources that we rely on may not be available in the future," the marine biologist, who was not involved in Rahmstorf's study, told The Associated Press by telephone.
Rahmstorf also reiterated warnings of rising sea levels caused by global warming, saying that in 70 years, temperature increases will lead more frequent storms with 200 million people threatened by floods.
Scientists blame the past century's one-degree rise in average global temperatures at least in part for the accumulation of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - byproducts of power plants, automobiles and other fossil fuel burners.
The 1997 Kyoto accord requires 35 industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Kyoto countries meeting in Nairobi are continuing talks on what kind of emissions targets and timetables should follow 2012.
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Deadly storm wipes out road at Mt. Hood
Thu Nov 9, 2006
PORTLAND, Ore. - Heavy rain and flooding, already blamed for three deaths in the Pacific Northwest, washed out a major highway near Mount Hood and forced the shutdown of 67 miles of the North Cascades Highway in Washington state Thursday.
The White River flowed over Oregon 35 on Mount Hood's eastern flank on Monday and Tuesday, cutting 20-foot-deep ruts through the road and sending boulders and trees rolling down the mountainside, said Bill Barnhart, an Oregon Department of Transportation manager.
Two creeks also wiped out a section of the same highway to the north, Barnhart said. Reopening the highway near Mount Hood is estimated to take $20 million.
The storms damaged hundreds of homes and broke rainfall records. At least three deaths were blamed on the flooding: two men swept into a Washington river and a 78-year-old woman found along the Oregon coast, where another woman was missing.
Rescue teams also continued to search for hunters who might be trapped in the southwest Washington hillsides between Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, officials said Thursday.
Floodwater from swollen creeks and rivers damaged roads and destroyed campgrounds at Mount Rainier National Park, closing it for the first time since 1980 when Mount St. Helens erupted. Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said it would be at least several weeks before the park reopens to visitors.
Washington authorities decided to shut down the stretch of North Cascades Highway on Thursday because of concerns about the stability of the ground under the roadbed.
On Mount Hood, as much as a million cubic yards of rock, mud and sand covered a quarter-mile stretch of road, the main highway connecting U.S. 26 from Government Camp to Hood River, Barnhart said.
"None of us at ODOT or the U.S. Forest Service have ever seen it this bad," Barnhart said. "Our biggest concern right now is the safety of our workers."
There were no estimates when the highway would reopen. The same highway washed out in the summer of 2005.
More rain was expected Friday and over the weekend, but "just a rainstorm, not a flooding rain," said forecaster Chris Burke at the National Weather Service. While river levels were dropping, some were still at flood stage, with recovery and damage assessment still days away.
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Why water is gravest challenge facing humanity
The children of the Grace Revival School do not have far to go when they need the lavatory. They get up from their ramshackle desks and move just outside their corrugated iron classroom to the vast dungheap that stands beside the building.
There are no latrines for the 74,000 people who live in their section of Kibera, the biggest slum in Africa, which lies either side of the main railway line between Nairobi and Mombasa in the Kenyan highlands.
People there use what, with dark humour, are called "flying toilets". They defecate in a plastic bag and then throw it into the street or on to one of the vast dung heaps. Some just visit the heaps and relieve themselves directly. The heap next to Grace school is about 20 feet high and the size of a quarter of a football pitch.
The stench is unimaginable. When it rains, a noxious black liquid runs off the heap, and through the school, over the dirt floor of the classrooms. It seeps into the drinking water supply pipes, which run beneath the dump.
There is more to this story than a piece of prurient poverty pornography. It has a point, which is the one made more genteelly by the UN's annual Human Development Report, published tomorrow. For Kibera is but one stark example of what is perhaps the greatest developmental challenge facing humanity.
More than one billion people live without clean water. Some 2.6 billion - half of the developing world's population - lack access to sanitation. The two issues are inextricably linked, for without proper sanitation pollution of drinking water is almost inevitable.
At the start of the 21st century, 5,000 children die every day for want of clean water. That is why, in the sprawling slum of Kibera, where typhoid and dysentery are rampant, Kevin Watkins, the chief researcher of the UN report, found that child death rates run eight times higher even than in the rest of Nairobi.
We know from our own history that providing sanitation and clean water is the biggest single thing that can be done for the poor. Dysentery, typhoid and cholera killed as many children in Manchester and London in early Victorian times as they do in Africa today. The increasing wealth from industrialisation boosted income, but child mortality barely changed - until the introduction of sewers. It was the same in New York, Birmingham and Paris.
Water and sanitation are among the most powerful preventive medicines available to reduce infectious disease. The presence of a flush lavatory in a house, the UN report says, reduces the risk of infant death by more than 30 per cent. Sewers save more lives than antibiotics. Astonishingly, then - despite one of the Millennium Development Goals being to halve the number of people without water and sanitation - the amount of aid to this sector has, according to the Commission for Africa, fallen by 25 per cent over the past decade.
The problem is twofold. The first is that such basics are unfashionable among Western donor governments. The second is that many African and Asian governments do not prioritise the area; in Ethiopia the military budget is 10 times the water and sanitation budget; Pakistan spends 47 times more on guns than on sewers and clean water.
Why? Because water and sanitation are problems which disproportionately affect the poorest, women and children in particular, - a class which has no political leverage with urban Third World elites.
Water is about power. The most striking political example of which, the report shows, is that Israeli settlers take six times the water from the West Bank as local Palestinians. But there are countless economic examples. In Ghana the poorest, who use standpipes provided by private companies, pay treble what the better-off pay for water piped to their homes. In Kibera they pay five times more. People living in many of the world's most squalid slums pay more per litre for water than people in New York and London. The perverse rule operating in water markets is that the poorer you are, the less you get and the more you pay.
To set aside the financial resources to fulfil the Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe water would cost about $10bn (£5.3bn) annually over the next decade.
It requires sustained efforts and specific strategies. General economic development is not enough. It can be seen by contrasting India - which has a booming economy but no proper targeting on clean water and sewers - with Bangladesh - which has less growth but effective water strategies. India's people are becoming wealthier but not healthier. Some 700 million people there lack adequate sanitation - and in cities such as Delhi and Mumbai the water systems are collapsing, with rivers being transformed into fetid sewers. As a result infant mortality is down by just 22 per cent since 1990, compared with a drop of 40 per cent in much poorer Bangladesh.
The UN report is full of examples of strategies that have worked, and those that have not. It cites success stories in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam and comparative good news in South Africa, where water was once a symbol of apartheid division, but a system of entitlement has been introduced. It should be extended across the world, the report says, with all governments legislating for water as a human right, with a basic minimum of 20 litres per person per day - less than half of what we in Britain each flush daily down the lavatory.
To do that, the report says, would increase aid spending by about $4bn a year. That is less than Europe spends on bottled mineral water.
* The average Briton flushes 50 litres of water down the lavatory each day - ten times what many Africans have for drinking and washing.
* One in six of the world's population lacks clean water and one in three lacks proper sanitation - that's pit latrines, not sewage systems.
* The average European uses 200 litres of water a day compared with less than 20 per person per day in Africa. (Americans use 400 litres.)
* 1.8 million children under five die each year from diarrhoea caused by contaminated water.
* Every $1 spent on sewage saves $8 in lost productivity.
* The $10bn the Millennium Development Goal needs to halve the number of people without clean water equals five days of global military spending.
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Wash. flooding closes Mount Rainier park
By SHANNON DININNY
November 11, 2006
YAKIMA, Wash. - Nearly 18 inches of rain in 36 hours.
That's how much fell at Mount Rainier National Park, one of the crown jewels of the Pacific Northwest, and more rain and snow is forecast through the weekend.
The deluge on Monday and Tuesday swamped roads and bridges, cut power and sewer lines, and forced park officials to close the gates for the first time in 26 years.
The basic cleanup will take weeks, and in some places, park officials say they won't know the extent of the damage until after the snow melts in the spring.
"Some places get that much rain in a year, and we had it in 36 hours," said park spokeswoman Lee Taylor. "When we were finally able to get out and start assessing the damage, it was a very sobering day."
The Pineapple Express storm, named for its origin in warm Pacific waters, wreaked havoc across the region. It damaged hundreds of homes, washed out a major highway near Oregon's Mount Hood, closed part of the North Cascades Highway in Washington, and was blamed for at least three deaths in the two states.
Most river levels were down on Friday, and the National Weather Service said the precipitation through the weekend wasn't expected to cause more flooding, in part, because most falling in the mountains was expected to be snow. Still, recovery and damage assessments, particularly in hard-hit parts of Western Washington, are likely to take weeks.
At Mount Rainier, the Nisqually River engulfed the main scenic highway through the park and left a quarter-mile gash in Nisqually Road. The river now flows where a campground once stood.
All other roads in the park were already closed for the winter, but they also suffered extensive damage. Search-and-rescue teams were tracking down elk hunters between Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens who could find themselves trapped by washed out roads or mudslides.
The Nisqually River also took out the main power line, cutting electricity for the western half of the park, as well as the main sewer line at Longmire, where a historic inn sits.
"An optimistic estimate for repairs is two weeks for some road access. Utility repair work could still take longer, which would mean there are still no services at Longmire," Taylor said. "We're hoping we can have normal operations for the Christmas holiday."
Christmas is typically a busy time at Mount Rainier, with rangers offering guided snowshoe walks, cross-country skiers hitting the trails and sledders taking to the base of the mountain. The now closed Nisqually Road is key to those activities, as well as to construction work on the Paradise Inn, an aging lodge built in 1917.
Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga flew over the area Thursday to assess the damage and was working to determine a cost estimate for repairs. In the meantime, crews were furiously working to fix the main road.
"Our focus is on the winter access route, so we can get that open again," Taylor said. "But if we aren't able to do repair work now, then it will have to wait until the spring melt-out, and that could delay some of the spring openings here."
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Record November Temperatures In LA
Temperatures in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday reached 97 degrees about noon, making it the warmest Nov. 7 since such record-keeping began in 1877. The old record, 91, was set 50 years ago. Tuesday's temperature exceeded Monday's peak of 95, which also was an all-time high for the date.
A heat wave brought to the Southland by continuing Santa Ana winds made Tuesday a sticky election day for voters and produced a new batch of record high temperatures.
Just as the campaign rhetoric is due to cool, so is the weather, with temperatures forecast to fall over the next few days.
At the same time, the National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for tonight through Friday for mountainous forest areas in Los Angeles and other Southern California counties. Wind gusts in some of those areas are expected to reach up to 50 mph with humidity possibly dropping to less than 10%.
Temperatures in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday reached 97 degrees about noon, making it the warmest Nov. 7 since such record-keeping began in 1877. The old record, 91, was set 50 years ago. Tuesday's temperature exceeded Monday's peak of 95, which also was an all-time high for the date.
The county's hottest spot, according to the National Weather Service, was Woodland Hills, where the mercury rose to 101. The old record in that west San Fernando Valley community, also set in 1956, was 94.
Records were also established in Lancaster, with a high of 85, over a previous high of 84 in 1950; Long Beach, at 92, up from 87 in 1961; Los Angeles International Airport, at 93, up from 92 in 1956; and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, at 94, up from 92, also in 1956.
A low-pressure system is due back today, bringing ocean breezes and leading forecasters to predict a much more seasonable high of 76 for downtown Los Angeles.
The weather should cool a tad more Thursday before stabilizing Friday and Saturday, with downtown highs in the low 70s.
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Dirty water kills 5,000 children a day
Friday November 10, 2006
Nearly two million children a year die for want of clean water and proper sanitation while the world's poor often pay more for their water than people in Britain or the US, according to a major new report.
The United Nations Development Programme, in its annual Human Development report, argues that 1.1 billion people do not have safe water and 2.6 billion suffer from inadequate sewerage. This is not because of water scarcity but poverty, inequality and government failure.
The report urges governments to guarantee that each person has at least 20 litres of clean water a day, regardless of wealth, location, gender or ethnicity. If water was free to the poor, it adds, it could trigger the next leap forward in human development.
Many sub-Saharan Africans get less than 20 litres of water a day and two-thirds have no proper toilets. By contrast, the average Briton uses 150 litres a day while Americans are the world's most profligate, using 600 litres a day. Phoenix, Arizona, uses 1,000 litres per person on average - 100 times as much as Mozambique.
"Water, the stuff of life and a basic human right, is at the heart of a daily crisis faced by countless millions of the world's most vulnerable people," says the report's lead author, Kevin Watkins.
Hilary Benn, international development secretary, said: "In many developing countries, water companies supply the rich with subsidised water but often don't reach poor people at all. With around 5,000 children dying every day because they drink dirty water, we must do more."
Many countries spend less than 1% of national income on water. This needs to rise sharply, as does the share of foreign aid spent on water projects, the UNDP says. It shows how spending on clean water and sanitation led to dramatic advances in health and infant mortality in Britain and the United States in the 1800s.
In the world's worst slums, people often pay five to 10 times more than wealthy people in the same cities or in London. This is because they often have to buy water from standpipes and pay a middle man by the bucket. "The poorer you are, the more you pay," says Mr Watkins.
Poor people also waste much time walking miles to collect small amounts of water. The report estimates that 40bn hours are spent collecting water each year in sub-Saharan Africa - an entire working year for all the people in France.
And the water the poor do get is often contaminated, spreading diseases that kill people or leave them unable to work. The UNDP estimates that nearly half of all people in developing countries at any one time are suffering from an illness caused by bad water or sanitation and that 443m school days are missed each year.
There is plenty of water globally but it is not evenly distributed and is difficult to transport. Some countries use more than they have due to irrigation, population growth and so on. But many simply do not handle their water properly.
The Middle East is the world's most "water-stressed" region, with Palestinians, especially in Gaza, suffering the most.
Climate change is likely to hit the developing world hardest, reducing the availability of water, lowering agricultural productivity and leaving millions hungry. Changing weather patterns are already causing drought in countries such as Kenya, Mali and Zimbabwe, but wet areas are likely to become wetter still, causing devastating floods and loss of life.
It says governments need to get more water to people, either through the public sector or a regulated private sector. The end, the UNDP concludes, is more important than the means.
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Pacific Ocean Gives Birth To New Volcanic Island
Nov 9, 2006
Sydney - The Pacific Ocean has given birth to a new volcanic island near Tonga, according to ocean-going eyewitnesses. Crew on board a yacht called the "Maiken" believed they were the first to see a volcanic island forming a day out from Neiafu, Tonga, while sailing towards Fiji in August, the Matangi Tonga news website reported Wednesday.
"One mile in diameter and with four peaks and a central crater smoking with steam and once in a while an outburst high in the sky with lava and ashes. I think we're the first ones out here," a crew member who identified himself as Haken wrote on the yacht's web log.
After ealier leaving the northern Tongan islands group of Vava'u, crew on board the "Maiken" glimpsed "pumice rafts" floating on the water before they "sailed into a vast, many-miles-wide belt of densely packed pumice".
The crew had earlier encountered huge streaks of pumice after passing Tonga's Late island, according to their web log.
"You might have heard about the sailor's superstition that you should 'never leave on a Friday'. Well, we did and the sea turned to stone, it is hard to get a stronger sign than that," skipper Frederik Fransson said.
Neither Tonga's Ministry of Lands nor the Tonga Defense Service would confirm the creation of a new island.
Separately, fishing boat captain Siaosi Fenukitau reported seeing the volcanic island, the Matangi Tonga website reported.
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'Air Shower' Set To Cut Water Use By 30 Per Cent
Nov 10, 2006
Melbourne, Australia - As Australians become increasingly alert to the importance of using water wisely in the home, CSIRO researchers have found a way to use a third less water when you shower - by adding air. The scientists have developed a simple 'air shower' device which, when fitted into existing showerheads, fills the water droplets with a tiny bubble of air.
The result is the shower feels just as wet and just as strong as before, but now uses much less water.
The researchers, from CSIRO Manufacturing Materials Technology in Melbourne, say the device increases the volume of the shower stream while reducing the amount of water used by about 30 per cent.
Given the average Australian household uses about 200,000 litres of water a year, and showers account for nearly a third of this, the 'air shower' could help the average household save about 15,000-20,000 litres a year. If you extend this across the population, that is an annual saving of more than 45,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The Aerated Showerhead creates the sensation of having a full and steady stream of water even though the water is now more like a wet shell around a bubble of air.
While the general concept of using an aerated showerhead to save water is not new, the technology behind the CSIRO's device is novel.
Developed by a team led by Dr Jie Wu, the aeration device is a small nozzle that fits inside a standard showerhead. The nozzle uses a small Venturi tube - a tube for which the diameter varies, creating a difference in pressure and fluid speed. Air is sucked into the Venturi tube as a result of the partial vacuum created, causing air and water to mix, forming tiny bubbles within the water stream.
"The nozzle creates a vacuum that sucks in air and forces it into the water stream," Dr Wu says.
"We make the water droplets in the stream hollow and the bubbles expand the volume of the shower stream."
Small-scale experiments using the aeration device found that people detected no difference in water pressure, sensation, or overall perception of showering.
After almost two years of research and development, CSIRO is ready to take the aerated shower head technology to the commercialisation stage.
"We have very promising results on the aerated showerhead's water-saving potential. Now we are looking for commercialisation partners who will be involved in the development needed to turn the technology into a marketable device," Dr Wu says.
He expects the nozzle would cost less than $20 and could be installed by householders.
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40 whales in New Zealand saved, 37 die
Thu Nov 9, 2006
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Oil refinery workers helped rescue 40 beached pilot whales in northern New Zealand Friday - but another 37 of the whale pod died on the sandy beach, a Department of Conservation spokeswoman said.
By early afternoon the rescued whales were less than a mile off the shore and "starting to swim strongly" out to sea, spokeswoman Sue Campbell told The Associated Press from the North Island city of Whangarei, near the stranding site.
Boats were patrolling near the whales to encourage them to continue heading out to sea rather than return to Ruakaka beach.
About 70 volunteers and 15 department staff were standing by in case the whales turn back toward shore or begin to swim into nearby Whangarei Harbor, she said.
Workers from the nearby Marsden Point oil refinery, together with local volunteers, were already helping to refloat the whales when the department was advised of the stranding, she said.
The beached pod marked the first mass stranding of the season. New Zealand has several mass whale strandings each summer.
The biggest recorded mass stranding on the New Zealand coast involved 1,000 pilot whales on the Chatham Islands in 1918, and the largest in recent years saw 450 of the same species beached on Great Barrier Island in 1985. Rescuers successfully refloated 324 of those mammals.
Whale experts have been unable to explain why the mammals apparently swim into dangerously shallow waters.
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Rumours Of War
Iraqi official: 150,000 civilians dead
By STEVEN R. HURST
Fri Nov 10, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A stunning new death count emerged Thursday, as Iraq's health minister estimated 150,000 civilians have been killed in the war - about three times previously accepted estimates.
On Friday, the U.S. military announced the deaths of two soldiers and one Marine, bringing the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month to 23.
The two soldiers assigned to the 89th Military Police Brigade died when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb on Thursday in western Baghdad, the military said. It said another soldier was wounded in the incident, but gave no details.
The Marine, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, died Thursday from wounds suffered in fighting in Anbar province, a hotbed of the Sunni Arab-led insurgency against U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies.
The names of those killed were being withheld until their families could be notified.
A least 2,843 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Meanwhile, moderate Sunni Muslims threatened to walk away from politics and pick up guns, while the Shiite-dominated government renewed pressure on the United States to unleash the Iraqi army and claimed it could crush violence in six months.
After Democrats swept to majorities in both houses of the U.S. Congress and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld resigned, Iraqis appeared unsettled and seemed to sense the potential for an even bloodier conflict because future American policy is uncertain. As a result, positions hardened on both sides of the country's deepening sectarian divide.
Previous estimates of Iraq deaths held that 45,000-50,000 have been killed in the nearly 44-month-old conflict, according to partial figures from Iraqi institutions and media reports. No official count has ever been available.
Health Minister Ali al-Shemari gave his new estimate of 150,000 to reporters during a visit to Vienna, Austria. He later told The Associated Press that he based the figure on an estimate of 100 bodies per day brought to morgues and hospitals - though such a calculation would come out closer to 130,000 in total.
"It is an estimate," al-Shemari said. He blamed Sunni insurgents, Wahhabis - Sunni religious extremists - and criminal gangs for the deaths.
Hassan Salem, of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, said the 150,000 figure included civilians, police and the bodies of people who were abducted, later found dead and collected at morgues run by the Health Ministry. SCIRI is Iraq's largest Shiite political organization and holds the largest number of seats in parliament.
In October, the British medical journal The Lancet published a controversial study contending nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died because of the war - a far higher death toll than other estimates. The study, which was dismissed by President Bush and other U.S. officials as not credible, was based on interviews of households and not a body count.
Al-Shemari disputed that figure Thursday.
"Since three and a half years, since the change of the Saddam regime, some people say we have 600,000 are killed. This is an exaggerated number. I think 150 is OK," he said.
Accurate figures on the number of people who have died in the Iraq conflict have long been the subject of debate. Police and hospitals often give widely conflicting figures of those killed in major bombings. In addition, death figures are reported through multiple channels by government agencies that function with varying efficiency.
As al-Shemari issued the startling new estimate, the head of the Baghdad central morgue said Thursday he was receiving as many as 60 violent death victims each day at his facility alone. Dr. Abdul-Razzaq al-Obaidi said those deaths did not include victims of violence whose bodies were taken to the city's many hospital morgues or those who were removed from attack scenes by relatives and quickly buried according to Muslim custom.
Al-Obaidi said the morgue had received 1,600 violent death victims in October, one of the bloodiest months of the conflict. U.S. forces suffered 105 deaths last month, the fourth highest monthly toll.
At least 45 Iraqis were killed or found dead in continuing sectarian violence Thursday, with 16 of the victims killed in bombings at Baghdad markets. For the fifth straight day, insurgent and militia mortar teams traded fire in the capital's northern neighborhoods.
Al-Shemari, while not explaining the death toll estimate, was more precise about the government's increasingly public and insistent demands for a speedier U.S. transfer of authority to Iraqi forces and the withdrawal of American troops to their bases and from Iraq's cities and towns.
"The army of America didn't do its job. ... They tie the hands of my government," said al-Shemari, a Shiite.
"They should hand us the power. We are a sovereign country," he said, adding that the first step would be for American forces to leave population centers.
Al-Shemari is a controversial figure and a member of the movement of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Some U.S. officials have complained that the ministry has diverted supplies to al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.
In August, U.S. troops arrested seven of al-Shemari's personal guards in a raid on his office. The U.S. never explained the raid, but Iraqi officials said Americans suspected the guards were part of a militia.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who also has close ties to al-Sadr, told Bush in a video conference last month that he would make renewal of the U.N. mandate under which the U.S. keeps forces in Iraq conditional on a rapid handover of power.
Al-Maliki also said at the time that U.S. forces should clear out of Iraq's cities, according to top aide Hassan al-Suneid. He said the White House agreed, although that was never confirmed in Washington.
Last week, al-Maliki rejected a demand by a visiting top administration official that he move to disband Shiite militias by year's end. A senior al-Maliki adviser, who refused to be identified by name because of the sensitive nature of the talks, said the prime minister told U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte it would be suicidal for the Iraqi leader to move against the heavily armed militias.
The militias are a key player in the sectarian conflict in Iraq, having taken to the streets with extreme vengeance against Sunni insurgents and civilians after the February bombing of a Shiite shrine north of Baghdad.
The militias and their death squads are the armed wings of rival Shiite political parties. One of the militias, known as the Mahdi Army, is loyal to al-Sadr; the second, larger group is known as the Badr Brigade and answers to the SCIRI.
Al-Maliki's hold on power depends on the support of both political organizations and their fighters, hence his reluctance to move against the armed groups.
He also has balked at U.S. demands for passage of a series of laws that would favor minority Sunnis, a group that makes up the bulk of the insurgency that has been fighting U.S. forces and has killed tens of thousands of Shiites.
Sunni members of parliament over the past two days have threatened to walk out of the legislature and take up arms. They charge the Shiite-dominated government with refusing to meet their demands for a fair division of power and natural resources.
The dean of the Sunni politicians in parliament said Thursday there were attempts by Iran to run Sunnis out of the country. Adnan al-Dulaimi then called Arab countries to support Iraq's Sunni minority.
"There is a Safawi (Iranian) plan to root the Sunnis out of this country, and we are confronting it," al-Dulaimi said. "We call on our Arab brethren to support us and confront this Safawi plan."
His political group has five ministers in al-Maliki's Cabinet and al-Dulaimi again threatened to pull them out of the government.
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Chávez attacks Bush as a 'genocidal' leader
Venezuela's president continued his criticism of President Bush after the pro-Chávez legislature declared that the 9/11 attacks were 'self-inflicted.'
CARACAS - When Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chávez called President Bush ''the devil'' in a U.N. speech in September, many thought his ''anti-imperialist'' rhetoric had reached rock bottom.
But fresh depths have since been plumbed. The Venezuelan government, to judge from recent events, officially regards Bush as a genocidal Nazi who arranged the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to justify aggression against other nations.
In a speech Tuesday, Chávez criticized the decision of an Iraqi court to sentence former dictator Saddam Hussein to the death penalty. ''If sentencing is to be done,'' Chávez said, "the first one to be given the most severe sentence this planet has to offer should be the president of the United States, if we're talking about genocidal presidents.''
RESOLUTION ON 9/11
His comments, which were fairly typical of his recent attacks on Bush, came shortly after the publication of a resolution by Venezuela's legislative National Assembly describing the 9/11 attacks as ''self-inflicted'' and after an exhibition at the Foreign Ministry building in Caracas in which Bush was portrayed as a Nazi storm trooper.
The resolution, which appeared in the official government gazette in mid-October, primarily criticized Washington's decision to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep illegal immigrants out.
But in its fourth paragraph, it calls on the U.S. Congress to "demand that the government of President Bush explain the self-inflicted attack on the World Trade Center and its victims, the supposed aircraft that crashed into the Pentagon and the links between the bin Laden family and the Bush family.''
The resolution, drafted by the deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission, Carlos Escarrá, was passed unanimously by the 167-member assembly, all of them Chávez supporters after an opposition boycott of elections last December.
Both Chávez and Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro have referred several times in the past to suspicions that the 9/11 attacks were planned by the Bush administration, and have called for an inquiry.
But this appears to be the first time that the term ''self-inflicted attack'' has been used without qualification.
Asked how the legislature had reached that conclusion, Escarrá said that ''evidence and testimonies'' had emerged in the United States and that ''for the rest of the world, there is no longer any question'' that 9/11 was not an al Qaeda attack.
About the time the lawmakers were approving the resolution, an exhibition called ''Truths About the Empire'' was on display in the foyer of the Foreign Ministry. It included a photo montage showing Bush dressed in the uniform of the German SS.
The exhibition was removed after a reporter for a U.S. newspaper asked to photograph it. A U.S. diplomat, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the issue, said the display was "an insult to the 400,000 Americans who died in World War II fighting the Nazis.''
Escarrá said the comparison might indeed be considered unfair -- but to Hitler, not to Bush. ''Hitler was a babe in arms compared to Bush,'' he asserted. He added that just like Hitler, Bush had "an extermination plan.''
U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield told a Venezuelan radio station last week that differences between the two governments were ''large, broad and deep'' and were unlikely to disappear.
It is a view shared by Escarrá, who told The Miami Herald that Bush ''defends the most outdated, the most radical form of capitalism'' and added that it was evident to the whole world that the U.S. "empire is in decline.''
Chávez insists that it is Bush, rather than the main opposition contender, Manuel Rosales, who is his true adversary in the Dec. 3 presidential election. The opposition, he argues, is merely puppets of the United States.
He has also often claimed that Washington has plans to invade Venezuela, assassinate him and install a government more in accordance with U.S. interests. Washington has dismissed his allegations as fabrications.
Comment: Go Hugo! Tell it like it is!
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MI5 head's warning on "terrorism"
The "serious, growing threat" of terrorism will be "with us for a generation", MI5's head has warned.
The "campaign" was "sustained... not a series of isolated incidents", Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said in a speech to an audience of academics.
MI5 knew of up to 30 alleged terror plots to kill and was watching about 200 networks or groups, she said.
Her warning comes days after a UK man was sentenced to at least 40 years in jail for planning a series of attacks.
Attacks planned by Dhiren Barot, 34, from London, included using a so-called "dirty bomb" using radioactive material.
Dame Eliza, who rarely speaks in public, gave a speech to a small audience on Thursday morning, detailing what she believes her organisation and the UK is facing.
She said that, since the 7 July bombings, five further major conspiracies in the UK had been thwarted.
"Today, my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or networks, totalling over 1,600 identified individuals - and there will be many we don't know - who are actively engaged in plotting, or facilitating, terrorist acts here and overseas," she said.
"What we see at the extreme end of the spectrum are resilient networks, some directed from al-Qaeda in Pakistan, some more loosely inspired by it, planning attacks including mass casualty suicide attacks in the UK.
"Today we see the use of home-made improvised explosive devices.
"Tomorrow's threat may - I suggest will - include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology."
Out of the 200 or so groups being watched by MI5, a smaller subset are of the highest priority because its feared that they are plotting actual attacks.
"We are aware of numerous plots to kill people and to damage our economy. What do I mean by numerous? Five? Ten?
"No, nearer 30 that we currently know of.
"These plots often have linked back to al-Qaeda in Pakistan and through those links al-Qaeda gives guidance and training to its largely British foot soldiers here on an extensive and growing scale."
Of the 30 plots some may turn out to be less credible or advanced but it's hard to be sure until they are fully investigated. And that takes resources.
MI5 has increased in size by nearly 50% since 9/11 and now stands at roughly 2,800 staff.
But, according to Dame Eliza, the concern is that even with this rapid growth it won't be able to investigate nearly enough of the activity that is currently underway in the UK. This means that hard choices have to be made about where to put resources.
"I wish life were like Spooks [the TV series] where everything is, a, knowable, and, b, soluble by six people," she explained.
"We cannot focus on everything so we have to decide on a daily basis with the police and others where to focus our energies, whom to follow, whose telephone lines need listening to, which seized media needs to go to the top of the analytic pile.
"Because of the sheer scale of what we face - my service has seen an 80% increase in casework since January - the task is daunting.
"We shan't always make the right choices. And we recognise we shall have scarce sympathy if we are unable to prevent one of our targets committing an atrocity."
Dame Eliza has been Director General of MI5 since 2002 and, prior to that, deputy director general for five years and has spent 32 years in the UK intelligence community.
She acknowledged the fact that some people accuse her organisation and others of hyping up the threat and that people are reluctant to accept assertions that do no always appear to be substantiated.
But she argued that while it was right to be sceptical about intelligence, the threat was real.
A particular concern expressed by the security service chief was the need to deal with radicalisation - especially amongst the young.
"It is the youth who are being actively targeted, groomed, radicalised and set on a path that frighteningly quickly could end in their involvement in mass murder of their fellow UK citizens," she warned.
"Young teenagers are being groomed to be suicide bombers."
Trying to identify people of school age who might be undergoing radicalisation presents particular problems for the security service.
And while MI5 has to deal with the consequences of radicalisation, its role is not to deal with the causes.
"My service is dedicated to tackling the deadly manifestations of terrorism.
"Tackling its roots is the work of us all."
Comment: An interesting diatribe of nonsensical propaganda no doubt. Yet Manningham-Butler has never explained the many inconsistencies about the official version of the London Bombings, inconsistencies that are so glaring that they make a mockery of the official story and render it little more than an fairy tale. Rather than spreading dangerous hate-speech and propaganda about Muslims, Manningham Butler would do better to explain to us why she (as head of MI5) lied about the fact that MI5 agents had been watching the alleged London bombers for many months prior to 7/7.
She might also explain the finer details of how MI5 recruits and uses agents within Britain's Islamic community, purportedly to gather intelligence about potential "terrorist attacks", and explain how these agents often end up being accused of "terrorist" crimes. Some would say they had been set up by MI5 for the very purpose of creating the "reality" of Islamic terrorism that Manningham Butler claims is so real a threat. But we would like to hear a rebuttal of this charge from Manningham Butler herself.
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New al-Qaida tape says 12,000 activated
By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD
November 11, 2006
CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed in a new audio tape Friday to be winning the war faster than expected in Iraq, saying it had mobilized 12,000 fighters.
The group also said it welcomed the Republican electoral defeat that led to the departure of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and it added that its fighters would not rest until they had blown up the White House.
Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also urged the U.S. to stay in Iraq so his group would have more opportunities to kill American troops.
"The al-Qaida army has 12,000 fighters in Iraq, and they have vowed to die for God's sake," a man introduced as al-Muhajir said in an audio tape made available on militant Web sites.
"We will not rest from our Jihad until we are under the olive trees of Rumieh and we have blown up the filthiest house - which is called the White House," al-Muhajir said.
Al-Muhajir became the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in June.
The tape could not be independently verified.
The speaker praised the outcome of Tuesday's elections in which Democrats swept to power in the House and the Senate, in large part due to U.S. voter dissatisfaction over the handling of the war in Iraq.
"The American people have put their feet on the right path by ... realizing their president's betrayal in supporting
Israel," the terror leader said. "So they voted for something reasonable in the last elections."
Describing President Bush as "the most stupid president" in U.S. history, al-Masri reached out to the Muslim world and said his group was winning the war in Iraq faster than expected due to U.S. policies.
He urged Bush not to withdraw U.S. forces so al-Qaida could have more opportunities to fight U.S. soldiers. "We haven't had enough of your blood yet," he told the U.S.
The speaker also referred to Rumsfeld's resignation and called on "the lame duck (Bush) not to hurry up in escaping the same way the defense minister did."
"They are getting ready to leave, because they are no longer capable of staying," the al-Qaida leader said, referring to U.S. forces.
"Remain steadfast in the battlefield, you coward," he said, addressing Bush.
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Iran to review ties with IAEA if UN draft resolution adopted
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-10 17:30:05
MOSCOW, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- If the United Nations Security Council passed the European-drawn resolution on Iran's nuclear issue without including Russia's amendments, Iran's relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would be affected, Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani warned here on Friday.
"We will review our relations with the IAEA if the UN adopts the European resolution without the amendments proposed by Russia," Larijani, secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency shortly after his arrival in Moscow to start talks with Russian security and foreign ministry officials.
And even if the Russian amendments were included, the adoption of a UN resolution "will not make Iran change its mind" about itsnuclear program, he said.
However, he also said that Iran was carefully studying a package of proposals made by the six world powers to dissuade Iran from further developing nuclear technologies on its own, and hoped that the dispute could be solved within the framework of the proposals.
Larijani announced he would be meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and with the head of the Russian national security council, Igor Ivanov, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Last week, Russia asked for a major revision of the UN Security Council draft resolution which proposes sanctions against Iran forits nuclear ambitions.
The draft resolution, drawn by Britain, France and Germany, demanded mandated nuclear and ballistic-missile-related trade sanctions against Iran. It also called for a freeze on assets related to Iran's nuclear and missile programs, and travel bans on scientists involved in those programs.
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Agent Orange exposure tied to ills in Vietnam vets
Thu Nov 9, 2006
NEW YORK - Vietnam veterans who sprayed the herbicides like Agent Orange decades ago in Vietnam are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic breathing problems, a new study shows.
Agent Orange, a weed killer containing dioxin, was widely used during the Vietnam War, Dr. Han K. Kang of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, DC and colleagues note in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Overall, two thirds of the herbicides used during the conflict contained dioxin.
To understand the long-term effects of exposure to the chemicals, Kang and his team compared 1,499 members of the US Army Chemical Corps to 1,428 vets who had worked in chemical operations jobs but did not serve in Vietnam. The Chemical Corps members had been responsible for spraying herbicide around base camp perimeters, as well as aerial spraying of the chemicals from helicopters.
Study participants were surveyed by telephone in 1999 and 2000.
Tests of a subset of the study participants, including 795 Vietnam vets and 102 non-Vietnam vets, showed the Vietnam vets had higher levels of dioxin in their blood.
The researchers analyzed the effects of Vietnam service and herbicide exposure separately, and found that hepatitis was the only health problem linked to serving in Vietnam per se.
However, exposure to herbicides among Vietnam veterans conferred a 50 percent increased risk of diabetes, a 52 percent greater heart disease risk, a 32 percent increased risk of hypertension and a 60 percent greater likelihood of having a chronic respiratory problem such as emphysema or asthma.
An increased cancer risk also was seen among the Chemical Corps members, but this was not significant from a statistical standpoint.
"Almost three decades after Vietnam service," the researchers conclude, "US Army veterans who were occupationally exposed to phenoxyherbicide in Vietnam experienced significantly higher risks of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and non-malignant lung diseases than other veterans who were not exposed to herbicides."
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France tests missile
France successfully shot its new M51 submarine-launched ballistic missile
over the Atlantic Ocean yesterday in its first experimental test flight, the
Defence Ministry said.
The missile carried no nuclear weapon for the test flight, which was closely
monitored by specialists at a test centre in Biscarosse, in southwest France,
as well as by the Monge missile-tracking ship, ministry spokesman Jean-Francois
The M51 is designed to replace the M45 submarine-launched ballistic missile,
The M51 can carry six TN-75 thermonuclear warheads and has a range of up to
Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie "expressed her great satisfaction" at
the success of the test, her ministry said
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Russia Sends Missiles to Belarus in Response to U.S. Warplanes Delivery to Poland
Created: 10.11.2006 16:05 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 16:06 MSK
Russia has sent anti-aircraft systems to Belarus in retaliation against the delivery to Poland of US-made F-16 warplanes, a source in the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) said on Friday, the AFP news agency reported.
"Anticipating the arrival of the F-16s in Poland, Russia has sent to Belarus four S-300 anti-aircraft systems which have already been put into service," according to a source at the headquarters of the anti-aircraft defence alliance of the CIS, quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency.
The CIS is made up of the former members of the Soviet Union less the three Baltic states.
The alliance was set up in 1995 by 10 CIS members (all bar Azerbaijan and Moldova) to protect the air borders of the former Soviet republics.
On Thursday Poland took delivery of the first four of the 48 F-16 fighters it has ordered from US plane-maker Lockheed Martin.
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Bad Times In The "Holy Land"
Olmert, Peretz and Lieberman seen as most corrupt ministers
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Minister for Strategic Threats Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Amir Peretz are considered by the Israeli public to be the most corrupt ministers in the government. The ministers considered least corrupt are Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz.
The ranking is based on a poll conducted as part of the preparation for the Sderot Conference for Society and was released Tuesday night at the opening event of the conference at Sapir College.
According to the survey conducted by Maagar Mochot Interdisciplinary Consulting Research Institute, 42 percent of the 1,111 respondents said Olmert's public behavior was corrupt to very corrupt, compared to 26 percent and 24 percent for Lieberman and Peretz, respectively.
They were followed by Ministry of Trade and Industry Eli Yishai (Shas), who was perceived as being corrupt to very corrupt by 24 percent of respondents, and by Interior Minister Roni Bar-on (22 percent). Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson and National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer shared sixth place.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, 38 percent believe that Livni's public behavior is honest to very honest, compared to 35 percent for Peres, 28 percent for Mofaz and 22 percent for Acting Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit.
In 2005, Olmert was in fourth place. Lieberman was unchanged in second. Livni and Peres were in second and third place, respectively, on the honesty scale last year.
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Number of Jewish lawmakers worldwide reaches record high
Tuesday's U.S. elections brought the number of Jewish parliamentarians worldwide to an all-time high, according to the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians.
Following yesterday's results, the number of Jews in the Senate rose from 11 to 13 and in the House of Representatives from 26 to 30. However, the United States is still only in third place worldwide for the number of Jewish legislators, after Israel and Britain.
Britain, despite having a Jewish community 20 times smaller than that of the United States, has 59 Jewish members of parliament, including 18 in the House of Commons and 41 in the House of Lords. The latter number includes seven barons whose seats in the house were hereditary until recently. However, the umbrella organization of British Jewry said that in fact, the number of Jews in the House of Lords is even higher, totaling at least 46.
After Britain and the United States come France and Ukraine, with 18 Jewish legislators each, followed by Russia (13), Brazil (11), and Canada and Hungary (10 each). The only Arab country with a Jewish member of parliament is Tunisia.
According to the ICJP, there are 246 Jewish legislators worldwide (excluding Israel), up from 208 in 2005 - an increase of about 18 percent. This is the highest number recorded since the organization was established in 1988.
The organization noted that it does not use the halakhic definition of a Jew in determining whether a legislator is Jewish.
The director of the World Jewish Congress's Israel office, Bobby Brown, said the data reflects Jews' growing success in integrating into the countries where they live. Brown, who coordinates the ICJP's work in Israel, also noted that in recent years, cooperation among Jewish legislators worldwide has increased.
Comment: Nothing to worry about there then, since the Jewish-only state of Israel has the highest number of Jewish legislators (how strange!), behind the other two most powerful nations on earth, the US and Britain. In the US, the Jewish representatives form 7% of the total number of members, yet Jews in America total just 2% of the population. In the UK, approximately 6% of the House of Lords are Jewish and 3% of the House of Commons are Jewish, yet in the UK overall, less than one half of one percent of the population is Jewish. This is called over-representation, and there appears to be no logical explanation for it, yet its effect can be seen in the massive bias towards Israel in the governments of both these countries.
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Funeral held for Beit Hanoun tragedy victims
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-10 09:38:00
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Amid shouts of pain and anger and calls of revenge, thousands of Palestinians on Thursday buried the bodies of 18 civilians who were killed Wednesday by Israeli artillery shelling in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.
The angry Palestinians, from all over the Gaza Strip, traveled to Beit Hanoun to take part in the funeral of the victims, most of whom were members of the al-Athamna family.
On Wednesday morning, the Israeli army fired several artillery rounds at the town, which hit several buildings and killed 18 civilians, including women and children, and wounded 30 others.
During the artillery firing, seven children, seven women and two men from the al-Athamna family died when four Israeli artillery shells landed on their four-story house in a period of ten minutes. Two neighbors, from another family, were also killed when they rushed to offer help.
The dead civilians and the wounded were taken to two hospitals in northern Gaza Strip. Many of the injured are still suffering severe wounds and receiving intensive treatment.
Before the funeral, thousands of Palestinians gathered at the hospitals and carried the bodies of the killed and put them into ambulances, which drove towards the Hamad Street, which was hit on Wednesday by the Israeli artillery shells.
Relatives of the al-Athamna family received the dead Palestinians to have a farewell glance at them, then the ambulances moved slowly together with thousands of mourners, including militants who kept firing into the air.
"The Israelis are becoming Palestinian blood addicts," said Abu Ahmed, one of the militants attending the funeral, adding that " this awful and criminal massacre would never be forgotten without revenge and the Israelis would pay a very heavy price for this crime."
Dozens of Palestinian officials, including members of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas)-dominant parliament, leaders of factions and armed wings participated in the funeral.
Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip Thursday went on the second day of a general strike called by the Palestinian leadership following the deadliest Israeli raid against civilians in decades.
Palestinian officials said no such number of civilians have been killed in one attack as those who died in Beit Hanoun, a small agricultural town in northern Gaza Strip that has been the scene of six-day long military operation by Israeli troops.
Flags also flew at half-mast and streets filled up with hundreds of mourners in Gaza City as more funeral ceremonies were held for three more militants killed Wednesday night in Israel's air strikes.
Along with the funerals, rocket attacks against Israel continued by Palestinian militants.
Islamic Jihad's armed wing Saraya al-Quds and other Palestinian militant groups claimed responsibility for launching homemade rockets at southern Israel.
Israeli Radio confirmed that several homemade rockets landed into the Jewish state, but no casualties were reported.
The Israeli army had recently launched a air and ground offensive against the Gaza Strip, known as Operation Autumn Clouds, with an aim of stemming the homemade rocket attacks from the Palestinian side on Israel.
Though it announced an end to the operation on Monday, Israeli air raids still continued afterwards, causing big casualties including the Beit Hanoun tragedy.
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Israel official: Strike on Iran possible
By AMY TEIBEL
Fri Nov 10, 2006
JERUSALEM - The deputy defense minister suggested Friday that
Israel might be forced to launch a military strike against
Iran's disputed nuclear program - the clearest statement yet of such a possibility from a high-ranking official.
"I am not advocating an Israeli pre-emptive military action against Iran and I am aware of its possible repercussions," Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, a former general, said in comments published Friday in The Jerusalem Post. "I consider it a last resort. But even the last resort is sometimes the only resort."
Sneh's comments did not necessarily reflect the view of Israel's government or of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said government spokeswoman Miri Eisin.
Olmert, who was arriving in Washington on Sunday, said he was confident in the U.S. handling of the international standoff over Iran's nuclear program. The Bush administration and other nations say is a cover for developing atomic weapons, but Tehran says the program is peaceful.
"I have enormous respect for President Bush. He is absolutely committed," Olmert said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. "I know that America will not allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons because this is a danger to the whole Western world."
The United States and its European allies have proposed a raft of sanctions to try to curb the country's nuclear development.
Israel sees Iran as the greatest threat to its survival. Hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel's destruction, and Israelis do not believe his claims that Iran's nuclear program is meant to develop energy, not arms.
Israel crippled Iraq's atomic program 25 years ago with an airstrike on its unfinished nuclear reactor. Experts say Iran has learned from Iraq's mistakes, scattering its nuclear facilities and building some underground.
Sneh's tough talk is the boldest to date by a high-ranking Israeli official. Olmert and other Israeli leaders frequently discuss the Iranian threat in grave terms, but stop short of threatening military action.
Years of diplomacy have failed to persuade Iran to modify its nuclear program so it can't develop weapons.
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A profound pessimism has taken hold of Israel
Friday November 10, 2006
The war in Lebanon and rockets from Gaza have reinforced a great mood swing. People no longer seem to want a peace deal
The Israeli artillery fire that claimed 18 civilian lives in Beit Hanoun this week is the worst single attack in Gaza for six years. Whether it will prompt an end to Hamas's moratorium on suicide bombings hangs in the balance, but the attack - said by Israeli officials to be an error - has clearly put Israel on the moral defensive.
Even if the shells had been properly aimed, they would still reflect the same shockingly disproportionate response that Israel inflicted on Lebanon this summer after two soldiers were captured in a cross-border operation by Hizbullah guerrillas. Three months after the 34-day war against their northern neighbour, Israelis are still debating what, if anything, it achieved.
Israel failed utterly to achieve the stated goal of its prime minister, Ehud Olmert: getting the soldiers back. Nor, in spite of relentless bombing and repeated incursions by Israeli troops, did Israel succeed in eliminating the threat from Hizbullah's short-range rockets, hundreds of which remain in south Lebanon.
The UN resolution that ended the war calls for Lebanon's government to take control of the border regions, but - as most observers predicted - neither the Lebanese army nor the enlarged international force is willing to disarm Hizbullah. Indeed Hizbullah has emerged from the war not only with greater support among Arabs around the Middle East but also with new clout in Lebanon, where it is pressing the government for more cabinet seats.
It is a spectacular litany of failure for a confrontation about which the analyst Ze'ev Schiff said: "Israeli civilians have not suffered such frontal attacks since Israel's war of independence in 1948."
Naturally, Israeli officials dispute this. While admitting to surprise at the sophistication of the rocket-launching platforms and communications technology in the underground bunkers that Hizbullah has built since Israel withdrew from its previous occupation, they say Israel has destroyed most of them in the border areas. Though not disarmed, Hizbullah will not be able to rebuild its infrastructure so near Israel again. Israel also says it has the names of at least 500 Hizbullah fighters who were killed, making a large dent in the militia's strength.
Shlomo Brom, who headed the Israeli armed forces' strategic-planning department in the 1990s, argues that the main failure was political. "Olmert's stated goals in the first days of the war had nothing to do with the real goals," he says. "I was astonished by him and the defence minister. I couldn't imagine that these goals were what the military proposed. It's obvious that you cannot rescue soldiers with a war. The most you can do is to capture people from the other side and do an exchange."
Brom believes the air force achieved considerable success in the first 10 days of the war by hitting most of Hizbullah's long-range rockets, doing enough damage to force Lebanon's government to confront Hizbullah politically, and showing that Israel's threats to strike hard were credible. The error was to launch a ground invasion with troops who were unprepared for determined guerrilla fighters. The techniques used in the West Bank, where the army largely operates as a gendarmerie rather than a fighting force, were insufficient. "We went into a bad ground war because of a failure to stop in time," he says.
While the experts argue over how much was achieved, the public is in a state of shock and frustration. Anything less than victory is seen as a serious setback, and people blame the military as much as the politicians. Schiff says the war "gave Israelis a sense of impotence".
The war's biggest winners were the West Bank settlers. Olmert's plans for a partial pull-out have been shelved, and the political consensus for withdrawal has gone. Israel left Lebanon in 2000 and Hizbullah built up an arsenal of rockets, Israelis say; it pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and Hamas and Islamic Jihad are importing explosives and rockets through tunnels from Egypt in an effort to copy Hizbullah.
"There's a big 'I told you so' which the settlers are exploiting and it's very hard to argue against," says Tom Segev, a historian who opposed the Lebanese war from the first day. He deplores the fact that so few people criticised the war's rationale rather than just complaining about its outcome. Peace Now, the mainstream anti-occupation movement, broadly supported the war. Even Meretz, the small leftwing party in the Knesset, was split, with some members in support of the war, others silent, and only a few willing to denounce the war as soon as it began.
If the settlers were the main winners, Gazans were the main losers. While the Lebanese war was under way, the world ignored Gaza. Israeli troops killed 300 people with scarcely a line in the media. This week's world outcry has at least put Gaza back in the headlines.
But for Palestinians to launch homemade rockets into southern Israel is pointless and counterproductive, serving only to strengthen Israelis' hardline views. Meanwhile, the US is arming Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah organisation for a confrontation with Hamas that risks plunging Gaza into all-out civil war. It wants thousands of rifles to be sent to Fatah from Egypt and Jordan, and is seeking to persuade Israel to permit the Badr brigade, a pro-Fatah militia stationed in Jordan, to cross into Gaza.
Five years ago most Israelis seemed to want a deal with the Palestinians. The war with Lebanon and the rockets from Gaza have reinforced the mood swing that Sharon launched with his mantra: "Israel has no partner for peace." Segev is deeply pessimistic: "It's no longer politically correct to say one believes in peace. Young people don't. It's legitimate to hate Arabs and want them to disappear somehow." Looking back on the decades since Israel occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem, Segev adds: "In 1967 there was a choice: give the territories back and make peace, or settle them and make Israel strong. It hasn't worked. What a terrible waste of time the last 40 years have been."
Gideon Levy is one of the few Israeli journalists who still goes to Gaza - a venture that increasingly requires physical as well as moral courage. "A generation on both sides is growing up which never meets each other. In the past there was a relationship. Palestinians were working here. The relationship was unequal, but it wasn't just a matter of hate. Everyone believes we are facing monsters, not human beings." Desperate words, but they have the ring of truth.
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Haniyeh offers to quit as Palestinian PM
Friday November 10, 2006
Ismail Haniyeh today said he would step down as the Palestinian Hamas prime minister if it persuaded the international community to lift crippling economic sanctions.
An international aid boycott intended to force the ruling Hamas organisation to recognise Israel has devastated the Palestinian economy.
Mr Haniyeh's remarks appeared to be another indication that Hamas and the rival Fatah party of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, were moving closer to a national unity government made up of independent experts.
It has been assumed that such a government would present a more moderate face to the world.
"When the issue of the siege is on one side, and my being prime minister is on the other, let the siege be lifted to end the suffering of the Palestinian people," Mr Haniyeh said.
The long-time Hamas leader told worshippers at a Gaza mosque that western countries wanted him out of government.
Yesterday, Mr Abbas spoke by telephone to his main political rival, the Hamas supreme leader, Khaled Mashaal - their first conversation for months.
The Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said their discussion was proof the two were in agreement on the shape of the new government.
However, there have been weeks of turbulent negotiations that have failed to bring results, and a further breakdown in talks still appeared to be possible.
Western governments and Israel have withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and tax revenues since Hamas took power in March.
The sanctions have prevented Hamas from paying a large portion of the salaries owed to 165,000 government employees, causing widespread hardship in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Countries including the US have said they would not lift sanctions unless Hamas recognised Israel, renounced violence and accepted past peace deals.
The programme of the proposed new unity government is vague on the key issue of recognising Israel and calling for a Palestinian state on only lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, yesterday expressed regret over an Israeli artillery barrage - which he described as a mistake - that killed 19 Palestinian civilians.
Mr Olmert called for an immediate renewal of contact between himself and Mr Abbas but said the Israeli army would continue targeting Palestinian rocket squads in Gaza despite the risk of hitting civilians.
The death toll from Wednesday's barrage, in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, rose to 19 after Israeli hospital officials confirmed that Bassem Kafarna, an injury victim transferred for treatment in Israel, had died in a Tel Aviv hospital.
The Israeli defence minister, Amir Peretz, ordered the military to "re-evaluate its policy of artillery fire in Gaza", his ministry said in a statement.
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International Political Ineptitude
Bush to Meet Putin in Moscow in Bid to Improve Ties Between Russia, U.S.
Created: 10.11.2006 12:39 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 12:39 MSK, 7 hours 37 minutes ago
U.S. President George W. Bush plans to visit Moscow on his way to the the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit, the Reuters news agency reported Thursday.
Bush is attending the November 18-19 APEC summit in Hanoi. At first Moscow stop was planned for refuelling but Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Bush and his wife for a social visit during the stop.
The meeting would be a chance for both countries to improve their frayed ties. Bush and Putin were once close but their relationship has become strained over U.S. criticisms of Russia's crackdown on democratic freedoms and Russian opposition to the Iraq war and what it sees as an overly aggressive U.S. foreign policy.
Washington is seeking Russia's backing for a tougher line against both Iran and North Korea on their nuclear weapons programs. Meanwhile, Russia wants U.S. support for its bid to join the World Trade Organization.
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Russia Anticipates No Change in Ties After Rumsfeld's Exit - Ivanov
Created: 10.11.2006 12:54 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 12:55 MSK, 7 hours 23 minutes ago
Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Thursday he expected cooperation with the U.S. military in tackling common threats to continue despite the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Reuters reports.
"I hope that the relations between our defense ministries will develop as constructively as they did so far," he said in televised comments. "What I mean is that both ministries will defend their national interests, but also take into account threats and challenges faced by both the United States and Russia."
Ivanov did not expand. He had earlier listed international terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among such common threats.
Russia's defense chief, tipped to be one possible successor to President Vladimir Putin when Putin steps down in 2008, said he had enjoyed his dealings with Rumsfeld.
"We had good personal relations," Ivanov said. "Although each of us defended the interests of his own ministry and state, this never stopped us from expressing our views frankly and openly."
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Bush Leaving Next Week for Trip to Asia
By DEB RIECHMANN
Nov 9, 2006
WASHINGTON - On his upcoming trip to Asia, President Bush will chat with Japan's new prime minister and stoke his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He'll discuss terrorism, bird flu, trade and other issues with leaders of Vietnam and Indonesia.
Bush leaves on the eight-day trip on Tuesday. As a gesture of friendship to Russia, Air Force One will make a refueling stop in Moscow on its way to southeast Asia, where Bush is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Hanoi.
"Southeast Asia is a region with an active al-Qaida-linked terrorist presence that we are working with partners to defeat," Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said Thursday. "It is a region where serious transnational health challenges exist, including avian flu, and the U.S. is cooperating with regional nations to control these threats."
It will be the president's second trip to Singapore and Indonesia and his first trip to Vietnam.
"It is a region of dynamic and transforming economies, ranging from the financial and high-tech hub of Singapore to the reforming and literally booming Vietnam," Hadley said during a White House briefing on the trip. "But it is also a region that is experiencing change and uncertainty in some sense as a result of the changing power dynamics within Asia."
Bush will meet with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and President Nguyen Minh Triet, an economic reformer who has pushed for his country's membership in the World Trade Organization.
The communist nation had hoped to join the trade body before the APEC forum, but it is unlikely that it will be able to join before December. The House could take up the Vietnam bill as early as Monday, before Bush leaves on the trip. The measure probably will pass, although some senators have held it up because of concerns about human rights violations.
Relations between Vietnam and the United States have steadily improved since the normalization of ties in 1995, with two-way trade reaching nearly $8 billion last year. Former Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai visited the White House in June 2005. He is the highest-ranking official from Vietnam to visit the United States since the end of the Vietnam War.
Hadley acknowledged that the trip to Hanoi would prompt comparisons between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. On Nov. 18, the president will visit the joint POW-MIA Accounting Command, where he will be briefed on efforts to ensure the accounting of all missing service members from the Vietnam war.
The conflicts differ, he said, because U.S. troops and public support for the war in Iraq is much higher than it was during the Vietnam War. And while there are fears of terrorism today, back then, talk about withdrawing troops from Vietnam prompted concern that nations would fall one after the other.
"There were discussions about dominoes, some which fell, some which didn't fall," Hadley said. "But nobody, I think, felt that it would result in a clear and present danger to the territory of the United States."
After his brief stopover in Moscow, where he will be greeted at the airport by Putin and his wife, Bush is traveling to Singapore to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President S.R. Nathan. Bush will give a speech to National University of Singapore to highlight U.S.-Asia relations and discuss ways to work together to battle poverty, disease, terrorism and energy security.
During his trip, Bush also will meet with: Australian Prime Minister John Howard, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.
On his way back to Washington, Bush is stopping in Honolulu to have breakfast with U.S. troops and attend a briefing by the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.
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Ahmadinejad: Elections result in US show public dismay
Tehran, Nov 10, IRNA
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Friday that outcome of this week's midterm legislative elections in the US signify the citizens' opposition to government policies.
Addressing a group of elites, Ahmadinejad said only 40 percent of the eligible voters took part in the elections, which cost the government more than dlrs 40 billion.
Ahmadinejad said the vote results show that majority of Americans are fed up with their government's policies.
Referring to Iran's peaceful nuclear activities, Ahmadinejad said that with regards to the nuclear issue, the enemies are falesly expressing worries over likely diversion of Iran's nuclear program from its peaceful course. "The killers whose hands are stained with blood of the oppressed are falsely pretending that are worried about lives of human beings," said the president.
He stressed that the enemy could not do a damn thing and thanks God almighty the nation would proceed its way.
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Royal slowed, but still ahead in Socialist presidential race
PARIS, Nov 10, 2006 (AFP)
The favourite within France's Socialist Party to contest 2007 presidential elections, Ségolène Royal, emerged Friday weakened but still with a commanding lead over rivals after a series of debates.
The last of the speaking contests took place late Thursday, with Royal, 53, facing off with former prime minister Laurent Fabius, 60, and former economy minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 57.
That debate in Toulouse, closed to cameras, was the final chance for the three to convince the 217,000 card-carrying party members to vote for them in a 'primary' to be held next Thursday.
If none of the hopefuls gets an absolute majority in that vote, a second, knock-out round will be held a week later between the two top contenders.
Polls suggest Royal, who aims to succeed Jacques Chirac to become France's first woman president, will likely win most votes.
But Fabius and Strauss-Kahn hope to force the second round of party voting, in the hope that one or the other will just pip Royal to the nomination.
The debates - unprecedented in France, which up to now has resisted such US-style tactics - "allowed the party members to take stock of the points in common and the different approaches" of the three, he said.
While there are no reliable indications of how the Socialist Party members will vote, general voter surveys show Royal would have the best chance of beating the probable conservative presidential candidate, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.
Observers said that all three Socialist presidential hopefuls acquitted themselves well during the series of six debates, half of which were televised. Their format was deliberately non-confrontational, with the speakers addressing the audience, not each other.
While Fabius and Strauss-Kahn put their years of government experience on show, radiating practised authority, Royal had the advantage of putting a new face on politics, often smiling and contrasting with the other two with her tailored, light-coloured suits.
An unexpected outburst of boos and jeers during the fourth debate caught Royal off-guard, however, and fuelled speculation that her hold on party members was weaker than thought.
She has been accused of keeping her rhetoric vague, often ducking direct questions to make broad policy statements.
Late Thursday, she urged France's left "to keep the heart of the revolution intact" and said she was "calmly awaiting" next week's party vote.
The debate concluded with a speech from Socialist Party leader François Hollande - who is Royal's domestic partner and father of her four children - in which he urged for a big turnout in the upcoming polls.
A poll by France's CSA institute published before Thursday's final debate showed left-wing voters preferred to see Royal named the Socialist presidential candidate, with 58 percent in favour.
Strauss-Kahn had narrowed the gap with her over the course of the debates and now had 31 percent support, the poll showed. Fabius had nine percent.
Asked about the debates, Royal had admitted Thursday that she felt they had gone on too long and were "exhausting".
But, she said, she had "emerged strengthened by the test."
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African Apathy, American Asininity
The tiny African state, the president's playboy son and the $35m Malibu mansion
November 10, 2006
- Vast property has tennis courts and golf course
- Population in poverty despite $3bn oil revenue
For a man paid less than £3,000 a month, the 16 acres of mansion, designer golf course and sprawling gardens speckled with fountains in Malibu was quite a buy. The views of the ocean alone - never mind the 15,000 sq ft mansion with eight bathrooms, a pool and tennis courts - probably accounted for a good chunk of the $35m (£18m) asking price.
But then Teodoro Nguema Obiang's modest salary as a minister in his father's government in Equatorial Guinea is largely symbolic, just like the elections in which his father is returned to power with 97% of the vote and the distribution of oil revenues in a country with one of the highest per capita incomes on Earth but some of the poorest people.
Little Teodoro, as President Teodoro Obiang Nguema's son is known at home, appears to spend as little time as possible fulfilling his duties as the minister of agriculture and forestry in the west African state. Instead he flits between South Africa, France and the US, pursuing business ventures such as a failed rap label while acquiring property and a fleet of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bentleys - all made possible by the discovery of oil in Equatorial Guinea's waters a decade ago.
At the time, there was a promise that the country would become the "Kuwait of Africa", but it has increasingly come to look like Nigeria as a few kleptocrats get rich while the masses eke out a living.
Mr Obiang probably thought his acquisition of the Malibu house through a front company of which he is the owner would slip by largely unnoticed, particularly after there was so little comment about earlier purchases of two houses in Cape Town and a $2m penthouse flat in California. But the British anti-corruption group Global Witness spotted the sale and is publicising it as evidence that the Obiang family has followed in a long tradition of African rulers who plunder their country's wealth while their people live in poverty.
Seen from the Pacific Coast Highway, Mr Obiang's house doesn't look like much, at least not in the context of the exclusive millionaires' mansions looking out from the cliffs over the Pacific Ocean. "Oh, that's a lovely house," explained Malibu Carl yesterday, watching the surfers next to Malibu pier. "That's a hell of a piece of property right there. It's huge."
The house is hidden from prying eyes by a sheer bluff and guardhouse. But while $35m may buy a lot of house, it cannot guarantee you privacy. A stroll along Malibu pier reveals arched windows, plain, cream plaster walls and a tiled roof. Royal palm trees line the drive, and the bright red of bougainvillea stands out against the sandy hillside.
Described as a "playboy", Mr Obiang may be quite interested in meeting his neighbours. Whether they would return the interest seems unlikely. Mel Gibson lives on Serra Road, as does Britney Spears. Olivia Newton John is up there too, and so are Larry Hagman and Titanic director James Cameron. Across the road is the equally exclusive Malibu Colony, the gated community that housed most of Hollywood during the 1970s and 1980s.
"That's one of the premier estates in Malibu," says a local estate agent. He notes that Cher's house in Malibu recently went on the market at $29m.
The property belonged to a Canadian developer named Bill Connor. Rumour has it that he sold two years ago for $28m to a Disney executive (some say it was someone from Fox) before its current owner paid $35m at the beginning of this year. "Most of these sales happen very quietly," says the estate agent. "The properties don't usually hit the market."
President Obiang, who has ruled since seizing power in 1979, has decreed that the management of his country's $3bn a year in oil revenues is a state secret. That is why it is difficult to say for sure exactly how he comes to have about $700m in US bank accounts. But the president's son gave an insight into his salary in an affidavit filed with the Cape high court in South Africa in August, as part of a lawsuit against him over a commercial debt.
"Cabinet ministers and public servants in Equatorial Guinea are by law allowed to own companies that, in consortium with a foreign company, can bid for government contracts ... A cabinet minister ends up with a sizeable part of the contract price in his bank account," he testified.
Global Witness wants the US government to invoke a proclamation by President Bush nearly three years ago that bars corrupt foreign officials from entering the US and allows their assets to be seized.
But Washington is unlikely to move against Mr Obiang when it was so welcoming of his father only last April. The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, called President Obiang a "good friend" even though her own department's annual human rights report said officials in Equatorial Guinea use torture.
Among those on the receiving end have been a group of mercenaries arrested two years ago for attempting to overthrow the regime with the backing of Mark Thatcher.
Before the oil, relations were not always so friendly. In the mid-1990s the US ambassador to Malabo was withdrawn after the state radio station said he had been spotted conjuring up his ancestors' spirits in a graveyard to put spells on President Obiang. In fact, the ambassador was the son of a Canadian airman and was tending the graves of an RAF bomber crew killed during the second world war.
But once the oil started flowing, American drillers such as ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco began pouring billions of dollars into the country. The US diplomats were soon back in a very different frame of mind. Today, the $3bn annual oil revenues gives Equatorial Guinea's 520,000 citizens the second highest income in the world at about £26,000 per head.
But ordinary people see little of it. Most of the population live on less than a pound a day. Equatorial Guinea comes bottom in the United Nations' Human Development Index, which measures quality of life.
Three years ago, state radio declared that the president is a god who is "in permanent contact with the Almighty" and can "kill anyone without being called to account". But President Obiang is mortal after all: he is suffering from terminal prostate cancer. He has made it known he favours Little Teodoro as his successor.
Comment: Notice that the corrupt regime in Equatorial Guinea and the poverty of its people despite the oil riches, would not be possible with the corrupt US oil companies and the corrupt US governments with which they are closely allied. Ever wondered why America has always been "great", the "richest nation on earth", here's your answer - through the exploitation of much of the rest of the world.
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The international court on trial
Friday November 10, 2006
Saddam Hussein has never met a Congolese militia chief named Thomas Lubanga, who is currently being detained in The Hague. Nor has the deposed Iraqi president been to the Netherlands or to the blood-stained Congolese region of Ituri, any more than Mr Lubanga has spent time in Baghdad or Kurdistan. But there is a link between these two men and the places where they are notorious that highlights the complex and sensitive issue of punishing the perpetrators of the world's worst crimes.
Mr Lubanga, a former leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, is in the dock at the international criminal court, where a pre-trial hearing is now under way to test the evidence against him of recruiting child soldiers, some as young as 10, and forcing them to kill and mutilate his enemies. If charges are pressed, the ICC's first prosecution will begin within weeks. Conviction could mean a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Saddam Hussein, of course, has just been sentenced to death by an Iraqi special tribunal for crimes against humanity: the torture and execution of 148 Shia farmers in Dujail. This collective punishment for a failed assassination attempt took place in 1982 when he was the unchallenged ruler of his country. Saddam's second trial, for the "Anfal" campaign of extermination against the Kurds, continues. He is expected to be hanged sometime in the next few months.
It is unlikely that the low-key hearings in the ICC's modernist building in a nondescript part of The Hague will ever attract the attention given to Saddam's melodramatic trial in the green zone in Baghdad. But what happens in the Netherlands may ultimately have more far-reaching implications for international law - even though there are no gallows at the end of its judicial process.
Established in July 2002, the ICC's purpose is to provide justice for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes so that future victims have somewhere to turn to when national legal systems fail - and to ensure that the next Pol Pot, Augusto Pinochet, or Saddam Hussein - cannot act with impunity,
Attempts to set up such a court were inspired by the example of the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals that tried German and Japan war criminals after 1945. No agreement was possible during the cold war, so after it ended ad hoc tribunals had to be set up to deal with the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The ICC by contrast, was intended to be a permanent institution under UN auspices.
The ICC's goal, in the words of its French registrar, Bruno Cathala, is no less than "globalised justice". Its reach though, is far from universal: so far its statute has been ratified by 104 countries - out of some 190 members of the UN. Holdouts include the US, Russia, China and India. Even for signatories, it is a court of last resort that can act only when countries are "unwilling or unable" to dispense justice themselves.
Thus the link between the Lubanga and Saddam cases. Iraq, unlike the Democratic Republic of Congo, has not signed the ICC statute, which in any case does not cover crimes committed before the court came into existence. So any sort of international trial for the Ba'athist dictator and his henchmen, as many would have liked to see, would have had to involve setting up yet another ad hoc body.
But there was powerful political pressure to hold a trial in Iraq, and in an Iraqi court. One result was that the Baghdad government interfered. There were also the more visible problems of lawyers murdered and witnesses intimidated against a background of deadly sectarian violence. Saddam also learned from Slobodan Milosevic (at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal) how to grandstand in the dock, to challenge the authority of the court, and to get his defiant message across. The evidence though, was detailed and compelling. "It was rough justice," says the US lawyer David Crane, "but justice nevertheless."
Even America's worst enemies have to admit that without the 2003 invasion, Saddam would never have stood trial. But US support for international justice has been badly weakened by its opposition to the ICC, which it has always claimed to fear will be used to mount politically motivated and "unaccountable" prosecutions of US personnel. Bill Clinton accepted the court in principle but policy changed sharply under George Bush. When the hawkish US diplomat John Bolton reneged on Clinton's pledge he described it as "the happiest moment in my government service."
Yet not only the US objects. Russia likewise opposes any suggestion that its actions in Chechnya, for example, might attract legal sanction. China has parallel concerns. Israel, another significant non-signatory, fears prosecutions over its behaviour in occupied Palestinian territories - like the incident in which 18 Gazan civilians were killed by shelling this week.
Still, the court's reach is fairly limited. Though the UN security council can ask the ICC to launch investigations, it has no police force or coercive powers of its own. Big decisions depend, as always, on the world's big powers; experience suggests they are always likely to be pre-disposed to conservative judgements and to put peace and reconciliation ahead of justice in resolving situations of conflict.
Experts fear too sharp a focus on Africa; all five referrals to the ICC are from that continent, suggesting to some a selective approach to justice that deals with easy cases from weak countries while leaving the strong alone. ICC prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for five commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, are investigating the conflict in Darfur - with the blessing of the US - and have been asked by the Central African Republic to open an investigation into war crimes there.
There's no shortage of work for this fledgling institution to do in the global jungle, but there are plenty of hurdles to negotiate too. The Lubanga case may point to the way ahead for the ICC. It merits close attention.
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Wrongfully convicted man awarded $450K
Fri Nov 10, 2006
HOUSTON - Texas has awarded more than $450,000 to a man who was exonerated by DNA evidence after spending 18 years in prison for a sexual assault conviction.
Arthur Mumphrey was released from prison in January after his lawyer found DNA evidence clearing him in the rape of a 13-year-old girl. Mumphrey had been sentenced in 1986 to 35 years in prison.
Gov. Rick Perry pardoned Mumphrey in March, clearing his record and making him eligible for compensation. Under state law, a person pardoned based on innocence is eligible for up to $25,000 for each year in prison with a cap at $500,000.
Mumphrey recently got his first payment of $226,041, according to the Texas Comptroller's Office. An official there said Mumphrey will have to report the compensation to the Internal Revenue Service. It will be up to tax officials to decide if and how much he will be taxed.
Mumphrey, who was 42 when he was released, declined to talk about his plans for the money.
His brother, Charles, confessed to the rape while serving time in jail for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, shortly after his brother's release. No criminal charges will be filed against Charles Mumphrey because the statute of limitations has expired, prosecutors said.
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Merkel Demands US Share The Burden On Climate Protection
by Deborah Cole
Nov 8, 2006
Berlin - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that Berlin would make the fight against global warming a centerpiece of its European Union presidency and press the United States to join the effort. In a speech at the German Council on Foreign Relations ahead of Berlin assuming the six-month presidency of the bloc in January, Merkel said the EU must lead the charge on climate protection even against US resistance.
"There should be no false modesty," Merkel said.
"We must make it clear to our American partners that the approach to energy must be sustainable."
Merkel, who has fought hard to improve German-US relations since taking office one year ago, set her sights on US President George W. Bush and others in his administration who have questioned a link between carbon emissions and global warming.
"The scientific evidence is growing ever stronger" that the planet will face catastrophic consequences due to global warming, she said. "The EU cannot solve the world's environmental problems on its own but it should be a leader," Merkel said.
She said energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy were also crucial elements of security policy considering the concentration of oil and gas supplies in volatile regions of the world.
Merkel said she would work under the German EU presidency to improve ties with producer, transit and consumer countries on energy issues, and to create better conditions for the expansion and maintenance of energy infrastructure.
With an eye to Russia, she said it must be a goal of the bloc to fight the use of energy supplies as a means to exercise political pressure on other countries.
"This is another area in which Europe must speak with one voice and thus strengthen its voice," she said.
After the European Commission's report on Turkey Wednesday, Merkel warned that Ankara must meet its obligations, particularly its promise to lift trade restrictions against EU member Cyprus.
"I strongly support the efforts by the Finnish EU presidency to mediate to solve this problem in the final weeks of its presidency," she said.
"But I say just as clearly -- the (Commission) progress report is clear. Turkey must meet its obligations by the end of the year. Otherwise the EU will draw appropriate conclusions. There cannot and will not be a simple 'steady on'."
Returning to transatlantic ties, Merkel said she would work toward improving sometimes fraught trade relations with Washington.
"This is less about removing tariffs and more about moving closer together on various regulations, for example on product standards and regulation of capital markets," she said, adding that the two sides could do more together to enforce copyright protection on international markets.
Merkel also called for a stronger EU security and defense policy, but insisted that it should never be seen "in opposition to the transatlantic alliance", NATO.
She said the situation in Kosovo would impose new demands on the EU, adding that because NATO troops were still needed in the region, both sides must coordinate their efforts smoothly.
Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since mid-1999, after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign drove out Serbian forces over a brutal crackdown against ethnic Albanian civilians.
The province remains tense more than seven years later, with ethnic Albanian frustrations over the long process occasionally flaring into violence.
NATO, which still has about 17,000 troops in Kosovo, was sharply criticized for failing to stop anti-Serb riots there in March 2004.
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Waiting For The Crash
Gold up on firm oil prices firm, economic concerns
By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch
Nov 9, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO -- Gold futures rallied to a two-month high Thursday as energy prices firmed and concerns over the economy and expectations for a weaker U.S. dollar helped the precious metal break a three-session losing streak.
"The political punditry is all but over -- the Democrats are now firmly in control and the first indication of a fresh course in the making is seen in Rumsfeld's lightning-quick departure," said Jon Nadler, analyst at bullion dealers Kitco.com.
At the same time, there's "concern that change in house of Congress might spur some inflationary policies, but that remains to be seen," said Phil Flynn, a senior analyst at Alaron trading. "Some policies of the Democrats may be dollar negative, and bullish for the precious metal."
Gold for December delivery closed up $18.50 at $636.80 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange after peaking at $637 to mark its highest closing and intraday levels since early September. The contract closed over $9 lower Wednesday as traders reacted to the Democratic Party sweep of Congress by consolidating recent gains. Prices tallied a loss of $10.90 over the past three days.
December silver closed at a two-month high of $13.05 an ounce, up 50 cents, or 4%, for the session.
U.S. voters wanted a resolution of Iraq, "but what they got is a new Speaker of the House," said Ned Schmidt, editor of the Value View Gold Report. "Apparently, the gold market now realizes the potential damage to the U.S. of the new Congress."
"Gold and silver are the only insurance policies available against the threat of the new Congress," he said.
There was further support for gold Thursday in comments from Peoples Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan who said at a Frankfurt conference that China has very clear plans to diversify its currency reserves, which now stand at more than $1 trillion. A wide range of instruments are under consideration, including gold and oil.
"The news is bullish for gold, but not really new," said Tony Crescenzi, chief bond market strategist at Miller Tabak & Co, who pointed out that central banks worldwide have been diversifying reserves since 2001.
Julian Phillips, an analyst at GoldForecaster.com, said funds are dominating the trend in the very short term, "but longer term, the fundamentals dominate the trend, which is up," he said.
Eyeing oil, dollar moves
Oil rose in a continued response to supply data that showed a smaller-than-expected rise in crude inventories in the latest week and a fifth week of declines in distillate supplies. See Futures Movers.
There was also speculation that the Democratic victory may lead to an earlier U.S. exit from Iraq than had been planned -- a move that may intensify violence in the country, spark a civil war and disrupt oil production.
Overall, it "seems like there's a movement back to the hard commodities," Flynn said, and it "looks like commodity funds are coming back in."
Meanwhile, the dollar gave back most of its early gains against the yen and extended losses vs. the euro as traders reacted to China's reserve diversification plans. Earlier, the greenback found some support when the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit narrowed by 6.8% in September to $64.3 billion. Economists had expected a deficit of $66.3 billion. The U.S. trade deficit with China widened to a record $23.0 billion. See Currencies.
Separately, the Labor Department said prices of imported goods dropped 2% in October. Economists had expected prices to drop 1%. See Economic Report.
Against this backdrop, January platinum rose $33.70 to end at $1,201 an ounce and December palladium closed up $10.50 at $338.90 an ounce. December copper added 6.45 cents to finish the day at $3.309 a pound.
On the supply side, gold inventories were down 64 troy ounces at 7.53 million troy ounces as of late Wednesday, according to Nymex data. Silver supplies rose by 570,336 troy ounces to 107.4 million and copper supplies rose by 159 short tons to 25,664 short tons.
Metals shares finished higher, following strength in metals prices after closing lower in the previous session.
Tracking the sector as a whole, the Philadelphia Gold and Silver Index (XAU) closed at 142.37, up 4.4%, and the CBOE Gold Index (GOX) rose by 5% to end at 149.74. The Amex Gold Bugs (HUI) Index added 4.1% to close at 341.05.
The DJ Wilshire Nonferrous Metals Index rose by 2.6% to end at 5,233.43. The DJ Wilshire Industrial Metals Index closed at 3,086.47, up 1.8%, and the DJ Wilshire General Mining Index rose 2.4% to close at 1,367.43.
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Paulson re-activates secretive support team to prevent markets meltdown
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Monday view: Paulson re-activates secretive support team to prevent markets meltdown Judging by their body language, the US authorities believe the roaring bull market this autumn is just a suckers' rally before the inevitable storm hits.
Hank Paulson, the market-wise Treasury Secretary who built a $700m fortune at Goldman Sachs, is re-activating the 'plunge protection team' (PPT), a shadowy body with powers to support stock index, currency, and credit futures in a crash.
Otherwise known as the working group on financial markets, it was created by Ronald Reagan to prevent a repeat of the Wall Street meltdown in October 1987.
Mr Paulson says the group had been allowed to languish over the boom years. Henceforth, it will have a command centre at the US Treasury that will track global markets and serve as an operations base in the next crisis.
The top brass will meet every six weeks, combining the heads of Treasury, Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and key exchanges.
Mr Paulson has asked the team to examine "systemic risk posed by hedge funds and derivatives, and the government's ability to respond to a financial crisis".
"We need to be vigilant and make sure we are thinking through all of the various risks and that we are being very careful here. Do we have enough liquidity in the system?" he said, fretting about the secrecy of the world's 8,000 unregulated hedge funds with $1.3trillion at their disposal.
The PPT was once the stuff of dark legends, its existence long denied. But ex-White House strategist George Stephanopoulos admits openly that it was used to support the markets in the Russia/LTCM crisis under Bill Clinton, and almost certainly again after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"They have an informal agreement among major banks to come in and start to buy stock if there appears to be a problem," he said.
"In 1998, there was the Long Term Capital crisis, a global currency crisis. At the guidance of the Fed, all of the banks got together and propped up the currency markets. And they have plans in place to consider that if the stock markets start to fall," he said.
The only question is whether it uses taxpayer money to bail out investors directly, or merely co-ordinates action by Wall Street banks as in 1929. The level of moral hazard is subtly different.
Mr Paulson is not the only one preparing for trouble. Days earlier, the SEC said it aims to slash margin requirements for institutions and hedge funds on stocks, options, and futures to as low as 15pc, down from a range of 25pc to 50pc.
The ostensible reason is to lure back hedge funds from London, but it is odd policy to license extra leverage just as the Dow hits an all-time high and the VIX 'fear' index nears an all-time low - signalling a worrying level of risk appetite. The normal practice across the world is to tighten margins to cool over-heated asset markets.
The move is so odd that conspiracy buffs are already accusing SEC chief Chris Cox of juicing the markets to help stop the implosion of the Bush presidency.
As it happens, I used to eat Mexican enchiladas with Mr Cox 20 years ago at a dining club in Washington, where California Reaganauts gathered to plot the defeat of Communism. Die-hard Republican he may be, but I can think of nobody less likely to betray the public trust in such a way.
So one is tempted to ask if Mr Paulson and Mr Cox know something that we do not: whether other hedge funds are in the same sinking boat as Amaranth Advisers and Vega Asset Management, keel-hauled by bets on natural gas and bonds.
Or whether currency traders with record short positions on the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc are about to learn the perils of the Carry Trade, a high-stakes game of chicken where you bet against fundamentals with high leverage to make a quick profit. Everybody knows it will blow up if the dollar goes into free fall.
They had a fright last week when US growth for the third quarter came in at just 1.6pc, and new house prices plummeted 9.7pc year-on-year in the sharpest drop since the property crash of 1981.
The dollar dived from 119.65 to 117.57 yen in a heartbeat. With $2.9trillion of derivatives now trading daily on the currency markets alone - according to the Bank for International Settlements - is this the start of the most vicious short squeeze ever seen?
The futures markets have priced in a 77pc chance of a flawless soft-landing for America's obese economy, now living 7pc of GDP beyond its means off foreign creditors. They are counting on moderating oil prices, and - a contradiction? - another year of torrid world growth. Nice if you can get it.
They have not begun to price in the risk of recession, typically entailing a drop in the S&P 500 stock index of 28pc from peak to trough. Evidently, the equity markets assume the Fed can and will rescue them by slashing rates in time, if necessary.
They should examine a recent report by the New York Fed warning that whenever the yield on 10-year Treasuries has fallen below 3-month yields for a stretch lasting over three months, it has led to each of the six recessions since 1968.
The full crunch hits 12 months later as the delayed effects of monetary tightening feed through, even if the Fed starts easing frantically in the meantime. By then it is too late. "There have been no false signals," it said.
As of last week, the yield curve was inverted by 29 basis points, was continuing to invert further, and had been negative for over three and a half months. If the Fed is right this time, the recession of 2007 is already baked into the pie. Those speculative positions may have to be unwound very fast.
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Russia, U.S. said to reach WTO deal
Staff and agencies
10 November, 2006
MOSCOW - Russia said Friday it had reached agreement with the United States on its entry into the World Trade Organization , but final details needed to be ironed out before a formal deal is signed next week.
The ministry said both sides would continue talks in order to ensure that the bilateral agreement was signed at a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Vietnam next week by the countries' top trade negotiators.
Russia has resisted sanctions against its commercial partner Iran proposed by the U.S. and its European allies, but analysts have said that a deal over the WTO could persuade Moscow to soften its opposition to punishing Tehran for its refusal to halt sensitive uranium enrichment.
Russia had refused a U.S. demand for an immediate increase in imports of American beef and pork before Russia completed a review of America's food inspection system.
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Handling The Little People
Canadian Gov. Planned (Plans) on Detaining Citizens in Concentration Camps
Winnipeg Free Press
Mon Nov 6 2006
THE federal government had detailed lists of political activists and subversives it planned to arrest in the aftermath of a nuclear war or other national emergency, keeping such plans on the books until at least the early 1980s, according to new records obtained by an Ottawa historian.
Anywhere from 700 to 2,500 people, including babies, would have been held in internment camps before being shipped off to more permanent detention facilities.
Under the 1969 version of the plan, the majority of people were to be picked up in Ontario with the second-largest group coming from British Columbia. Manitoba had the third-largest number of subversives to be arrested. In the Maritimes, only two people were targeted.
Cold War historian John Clearwater obtained the records through the Access to Information Act while researching his new book, Just Dummies: Cruise Missile Testing in Canada, which is being released Monday.
Clearwater said when it came to cruise missile testing in the 1980s, the Liberal government spent much of its time trying to mislead the public over the true extent of the country's involvement. But there was no way that Canada could have refused to test the weapon, he added.
"The U.S. saw this as a test of our resolve to be its defence partner," Clearwater noted. "We simply couldn't refuse."
His book details Canada's decision to allow the Pentagon to test cruise missiles over the country in the 1980s and the widespread protests against that. The book also reveals how an undercover RCMP officer infiltrated a peace camp set up on Parliament Hill and that the Canadian government allowed the U.S. to test its controversial neutron bomb in Quebec. No actual bomb was detonated during those tests which were designed to see how the weapon's components functioned in cold weather.
In addition, the book details how the Liberal government feared the U.S. would hit Canada with crippling trade sanctions in the 1990s if B.C. followed through with its threat to shut down the Nanoose training range on Vancouver Island. The range was seen as a key facility for the Pentagon's testing of various underwater weapons.
Clearwater, the author of two other books on nuclear weapons in Canada, said the federal government was shaken by the widespread opposition to cruise missile testing.
Although he knew the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service kept close tabs on peace groups during that period, Clearwater said he was surprised by the extent of the government's plans during the Cold War to round up Canadian citizens it saw as subversive.
"It's really about the fear," he said in an interview. "The government feared people who disagreed with it during a time of a national emergency."
Government plans to detain individuals were developed in the late 1940s and updated annually until the early 1980s, Clearwater noted. The first discussion of such a plan appears in 1948 when, on Dec. 15 of that year, the cabinet's defence committee discussed the detainment of 2,500 people.
Comment: We love the use of the past tense in this article! Nothing like a little self-calming!
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BNP leader cleared of race hate charges
Staff and agencies
Friday November 10, 2006
Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National party, was today found not guilty of race hate charges relating to a speech he made two years ago.
Jurors at Leeds crown court cleared Mr Griffin of using words or behaviour intended to stir up racial hatred.
He was charged after making a speech to BNP supporters at a pub in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in January 2004. In it, he described Islam as a "wicked, vicious faith" and said Muslims were turning Britain into a "multiracial hellhole".
The BNP's head of publicity, Mark Collett, was cleared of similar charges. He had referred to asylum seekers as "cockroaches", telling the Keighley gathering: "Let's show these ethnics the door in 2004".
Mr Griffin smiled and nodded as the verdict was announced. In the public gallery, his wife burst into tears.
As he left the courtroom, dozens of his supporters outside waved union jack and St George flags, chanting "freedom" and "free speech".
Dozens more gathered to demonstrate against the far-right party, waving banners reading: "Stop fascist BNP".
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Griffin called them "silly, leftwing students".
The BNP leader told his supporters the verdict showed the "huge gulf between ordinary, real people and the multicultural fantasy world of our masters". He praised the "ordinary, decent, common sense" jury for their verdict.
Mr Collett said it was "BNP two, BBC nil". He added: "The BBC ... are a politically correct, politically-biased organisation who has wasted licence-payers' money in a legal action against [us] for speaking nothing more than the truth."
Anti-racist campaigners called the verdict a "travesty of justice", and said it revealed the level of Islamophobia in British society.
The jury returned their verdict after five hours of deliberation, with the charges relating to speeches made at Keighley's Reservoir Tavern in January 2004, which were filmed by an undercover BBC reporter.
Mr Griffin was accused of using words or behaviour intended to stir up racial hatred, and faced two alternative counts of using words or behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred. He denied the charges.
He told the jury his speech was not an attack on Asians in general, but on Muslims.
Mr Collett said the speeches had only been intended to motivate BNP members to take part in "legal and democratic" campaigning.
Detectives from West Yorkshire police launched an investigation into the two men after excerpts from their speeches were screened in the BBC documentary The Secret Policeman.
Speaking after the verdict, a spokesman for the Islamic Human Rights Commission told Sky News: "I am very disappointed. I think this judgement is going to have very grave consequences indeed.
"It gives a very wrong message to the whole of society, both to the victims of his words and to those who are supporters of his racist and Islamophobic views and the promotion of them."
Sabby Dhalu, of Unite Against Fascism, described the verdict as "a travesty of justice".
"We believe that the BNP does incite racial hatred," she said. "In areas where the BNP targets around the country, racist attacks increase. For example, in Barking and Dagenham, where the BNP has 12 councillors, racist attacks have increased by 30% since 2004."
She said Unite Against Fascism would continue to campaign against the far-right party "and alert the decent majority of people in Britain of the dangers of the fascist and racist BNP".
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Italy to be Europe's oldest population country
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-10 07:13:48
ROME, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- Italy has the oldest population in the European Union and despite an influx of young immigrants it is getting older every year, national statistics bureau Istat said on Thursday.
One in five Italians is now 65 or over and this section of the population outnumbers the under-14s by three to two.
Istat, which published its annual snapshot of the country Thursday, said Italy is one of the eight countries in the 25-member EU in which the population graph bulges at the top.
The others are Germany, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Latvia, Slovenia and Estonia, Istat said.
But Italy, with its low birth rate and relatively long life-expectancy, leaves the rest far behind.
Meanwhile, the overall population is rising. The number of people resident in Italy at the start of 2006 was up by about half a percent to 58.75 million.
Istat noted that this increase was due to immigration and that the number of births was considerably less than the number of deaths. In 2005 the difference was 13,282.
The average Italian woman now has 1.32 children, a lower birth rate than in any of the 15 old EU members except Spain and Greece.
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The Aliens Are Coming? Call Denzel!
'Aliens could attack at any time' warns former MoD chief
By CHARLOTTE GILL
The Daily Mail
10th November 2006
UFO sightings and alien visitors tend to be solely the reserve of sci-fi movies.
So when a former MoD chief warns that the country could be attacked by extraterrestrials at any time, you may be forgiven for feeling a little alarmed.
During his time as head of the Ministry of Defence UFO project, Nick Pope was persuaded into believing that other lifeforms may visit Earth and, more specifically, Britain.
His concern is that "highly credible" sightings are simply dismissed.
And he complains that the project he once ran is now "virtually closed" down, leaving the country "wide open" to aliens.
Mr Pope decided to speak out about his worries after resigning from his post at the Directorate of Defence Security at the MoD this week.
"The consequences of getting this one wrong could be huge," he said.
"If you reported a UFO sighting now, I am absolutely sure that you would just get back a standard letter telling you not to worry. ''Frankly we are wide open - if something does not behave like a conventional aircraft now, it will be ignored.
"The X-Files have been closed down." If these words had come from a sci-fi fanatic, they could be easily dismissed by cynics.
But Mr Pope's CV - he was head of the UFO project between 1991 and 1994 - cannot be ignored.
When he began his job, he too was sceptical about UFOs but access to classified files on the subject and investigation of a series of spectacular UFO sightings gradually changed his mind.
And while Mr Pope says that there is no evidence of hostile intent, he insists it cannot be ruled out.
"There has got to be the potential for that and one is left with the uneasy feeling that if it turned out to be so, there is very little we could do about it," he said.
"If you believe these things are extra terrestrial craft then you cannot rule out that what is happening is some kind of covert reconnaissance."
One incident which persuaded him of the existence of alien lifeforms was in 1993. There were reports of a "vast, triangular-shaped craft" spotted flying over RAF bases in the West Midlands.
"Most of the witnesses were police and military personnel," he said.
"Hundreds of members of the public also had sightings over a period of several hours."
In another incident in 1980 at RAF bases in Suffolk, staff investigated a suspected plane crash after bright lights were reported coming from nearby woods.
They found a kind of lunar landing module standing on three legs which then flew off. The indents it left in the ground were found to emit ten times the normal levels of radiation. Mr Pope said: "These sort of incidents are why I got so frustrated.
"In my time I would brief the more interesting sightings up the chain of command to people like the Chief of the Air Staff and would get the answer back that it was very interesting and I had clearly done a good job investigating it and that was it.
"Every one is a piece of a puzzle but no one takes it seriously. There needs to be more resources and people who are prepared to look past the philosophical issues, look at the reports and investigate them properly.
"Whether you believe these things are foreign air forces testing prototype aircraft or whether you believe they are something more exotic, with the speeds and movements they are capable of, it's technology we would very much like to get hold of."
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence insisted that all UFO sightings were investigated for "evidence to suggest that UK airspace has been compromised by hostile or unauthorised air activity."
She said: "Unless there is such evidence, the MoD doesn't attempt to positively identify what was seen."
Mr Pope is continuing his UFO research in a private capacity since leaving the MoD and is recognised as a leading authority on UFOs and the unexpected.
He has written four science fiction books drawing on his experience at the MoD, and lectures around the world on the subject.
He has appeared on BBC Newsnight and Radio 4's Today programme and has acted as consultant on numerous television documentaries.
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Colombian rebels ask Denzel Washington to help broker hostage exchange
Last Updated: Friday, November 10, 2006 | 12:05 PM ET
Colombia's largest rebel group is seeking support from an unusual source in its effort to negotiate an exchange of imprisoned guerrillas for hostages: Hollywood actor Denzel Washington and directors Oliver Stone and Michael Moore.
The three celebrities were addressed in a letter from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - also known as FARC - asking for help in pressuring their government to release 600 imprisoned rebels in exchange for 62 hostages, including three U.S. defence contractors captured in 2003.
Also asked to advocate for the swap were leftist academics Noam Chomsky, James Petras and Angela Davis and activist Jesse Jackson.
"To the people of the United States, we ask for your always generous solidarity to pressure President Bush and his government to support a prisoner exchange in Colombia," said Raul Reyes, the chief spokesman for the FARC.
Both directors have made political films in the past which might explain their inclusion on the list: Stone with Salvador and Moore with Fahrenheit 9/11. Likewise Chomsky was recently promoted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at a recent meeting of the United Nations.
The inclusion of Washington, one of Hollywood's most prominent actors, is puzzling, though in his last movie role he played a police detective attempting to negotiate with a bank robber in director Spike Lee's The Inside Man and has played activists such as South Africa's Steve Biko and U.S. leader Malcolm X in films.
FARC is holding three U.S. defence contractors - Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves - whose small aircraft went down in 2003 while intelligence gathering. Also among the hostages is former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
"Howes, Stansell and Gonsalves are alive in our custody, treated with respect and dignity in the jungle," said Reyes, who promised to send evidence the three were alive.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe broke off negotiations with the group after claiming the group was responsible for a car-bomb that injured 20 people. The government said they intended to use military operations to free the hostages but later relented after pressure from family members of the hostages.
Among the rebels the group wants released is Ricardo Palmera, also known as Simon Trinidad, who was captured in 2004 and stands trial in Washington, D.C., for the kidnapping of the three Americans.
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