NEW! Podcast: The Assassination of JFK
For we are opposed, around the world, by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy...
Well, of course, George W. Bush says the same thing, doesn't he? The difference is, Kennedy died for saying it, Bush didn't. That suggests that Kennedy had in mind the real conspiracy, and Bush either doesn't have a clue, or is busy directing attention away from it.
John Kennedy went to Texas to lay the groundwork for the next election. Even though he had not formally announced that he would run again, it was clear that he intended to and that he knew he would have to rely on the support of the people. Earlier, in September, he had spoken in nine states in a single week, focusing on natural resources and conservation efforts, improving education, maintaining national security, and promoting peaceful relations between countries. He talked about the achievement of a limited nuclear test ban, which the Senate had just approved, and the public made it clear that they were enthusiastically behind him. The masses knew that he cared about them, their sons and daughters, and most of all, peace.
Then, in early November, Kennedy had held a political planning session for the upcoming election. At that meeting, he noted the importance of winning Florida and Texas and that's where he announced his plans to visit both states in the next two weeks. JFK was aware that a relatively small but vocal group of extremists was contributing to the political tensions in Texas and would likely make its presence felt-particularly in Dallas, where UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson had been physically attacked a month earlier after a making a speech there. As an aside, one wonders if it is just coincidence that George Bush was governor of Texas and Jeb Bush was governor of Florida during the 2000 election which it is now agreed by almost everyone who can read and think, was fraudulently stolen? The trip to Florida and Texas was Jackie Kennedy's first extended public appearance since the loss of their baby, Patrick in August which had been a cruel ordeal for her and the whole Kennedy family. Nonetheless, JFK was said to have appeared to relish the prospect of getting out among the people.
So it was that, on November 21, the John and Jackie Kennedy departed on Air Force One for a two-day, five-city tour of Texas.
On November 22nd, 1963, the 1,036th day of his presidency, a light rain was falling, but a crowd of several thousand had gathered in the parking lot outside the Texas Hotel where the Kennedys had spent the night. A platform had been set up and the President came out to make some brief remarks without a raincoat or umbrella.
|Notice the smirky look on Lyndon Johnson's face. This will be important further on.|
"There are no faint hearts in Fort Worth," he began, "and I appreciate your being here this morning. Mrs. Kennedy is organizing herself. It takes longer, but, of course, she looks better than we do when she does it." He talked about the nation's need for being "second to none" in defense and in space, for continued growth in the economy and "the willingness of citizens of the United States to assume the burdens of leadership." The audience loved him and that love was palpable as John Kennedy reached out to shake hands amidst a sea of smiling faces.
Back inside the Hotel, he addressed a breakfast meeting of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce for about 12 minutes. His talk began, as usual, with humor and the audience loved him! He proceeded to talk about defense projects, emphasizing the role of the military in maintaining peace: ". . . to that great cause, Texas and the United States are committed."
"Committed" was his last publicly spoken word.
The 1,037th day never came.
Listen to: Remarks at the Breakfast of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, November 22, 1963
Now, let us turn to the Official History which tells us:
"The presidential party left the hotel and went by motorcade to Carswell Air Force Base for the thirteen-minute flight to Dallas. Arriving at Love Field, President and Mrs. Kennedy disembarked and immediately walked toward a fence where a crowd of well-wishers had gathered, and they spent several minutes shaking hands. The First Lady was presented with a bouquet of red roses, which she brought with her to the waiting limousine.
Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie were already seated in the open convertible as the Kennedys entered and sat behind them. Since it was no longer raining the plastic bubble top had been left off. Vice President and Mrs. Johnson occupied another car in the motorcade.
"The procession left the airport and traveled along a ten-mile route that wound through downtown Dallas on the way to the Trade Mart where the President was scheduled to speak at a luncheon. Crowds of excited people lined the streets waving to the Kennedys as they waved back.
The car turned off Main Street at Dealey Plaza around 12:30 p.m. As it was passing the Texas School Book Depository gunfire suddenly reverberated in the plaza. Bullets struck the President's neck and head and he slumped over toward Mrs. Kennedy. The Governor was also hit, in the chest." (emphasis, mine)
As it happened, there was a spectator in the crowd at Dealey Plaza that day with a home movie camera. Abraham Zapruder, standing in the area that has come to be known as the "grassy knoll," had filmed the assassination. Let's watch it and then continue with the story.
Life magazine bought the Zapruder film and locked it up. Not even the Warren Commission viewed it as a motion picture. The magazine published staggered still frames in a cover story endorsing the Warren Report when it was issued in 1964 with captions under each frame. The caption under frame 313, where Kennedy's head explodes, said it was from a shot from the front. But that meant that Oswald could not have fired the "head shot." When Life realized its "error," it stopped the presses and rewrote the caption as a shot from the rear. The film also graphically demonstrated that the president and Texas Governor John Connally, sitting in the jump seat in front of him, were struck by bullets within three-quarters of a second of each other, which meant that there had to be more than one weapon.
The Warren Commission disposed of this problem with what has come to be known as the "Magic Bullet Theory."
According to the Warren Commission, the bullet fired by Lee Harvey Oswald hit John Kennedy in the back, then went up and exited via his throat, passed through John Connally's upper right arm, went inside his body, shattered a rib, exited his body under his right nipple, entered his upraised lower right arm and shattered his wrist, crossed his body to the left and entered his left thigh.
And then, magically, the bullet itself just fell out of John Connally's body onto the stretcher at the hospital, completely intact.
That's a pretty amazing bullet, wouldn't you say? It's like the Boeing 757 that allegedly hit the Pentagon and liquified and just flowed into the building and melted away. But that Magic Bullet is even more amazing when you actually see it. And here it is:
Yes, folks, this is the alleged actual bullet that slaughtered John F. Kennedy, and put Governor John Connally in a world of hurt.
Look at it carefully.
It's pretty shiny and sleek looking, isn't it? Looks pretty deadly.
This bullet left fragments in Governor Connally's body, too, by the way. Doesn't look like it's missing any fragments to me. How about you?
Now, let's look at some other bullets. The following selection are the exact same type of bullet, same manufacture, same caliber. They have all been fired into different objects to see how those impacts would affect the appearance of the bullet itself.
|Above, a bullet that has been fired through cotton wadding.|
I think we can determine that the bullet that fell out of John Connally's thigh must have been planted there. And that means that there was someone in the hospital who knew what kind of weapon was supposed to be the murder weapon and came prepared.
Now, we notice in the official history above that it says: "Bullets struck the President's neck and head and he slumped over toward Mrs. Kennedy." They are saying that he was struck in the neck, first.
Ford jottings offer something new for JFK conspiracy theorists
By Mike Feinsilber
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Thirty-three years ago, Gerald R. Ford took pen in hand and changed - ever so slightly - the Warren Commission's key sentence on the place where a bullet entered John F. Kennedy's body when he was killed in Dallas.
The effect of Ford's change was to strengthen the commission's conclusion that a single bullet passed through Kennedy and severely wounded Texas Gov. John Connally - a crucial element in its finding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole gunman.
A small change, said Ford on Wednesday when it came to light, one intended to clarify meaning, not alter history.
''My changes had nothing to do with a conspiracy theory,'' he said in a telephone interview from Beaver Creek, Colo. ''My changes were only an attempt to be more precise.''
Can we say "an attempt to cook the data to fit the fantasy"?
But still, his editing was seized upon by members of the conspiracy community, which rejects the commission's conclusion that Oswald acted alone.
''This is the most significant lie in the whole Warren Commission report,'' said Robert D. Morningstar, a computer systems specialist in New York City who said he has studied the assassination since it occurred and written an Internet book about it.The effect of Ford's editing, Morningstar said, was to suggest that a bullet struck Kennedy in the neck, ''raising the wound two or three inches. Without that alteration, they could never have hoodwinked the public as to the true number of assassins.''
If the bullet had hit Kennedy in the back, it could not have struck Connolly in the way the commission said it did, he said.
Click to enlarge and see the bullet hole in Kennedy's shirt.
The Warren Commission concluded in 1964 that a single bullet - fired by a ''discontented'' Oswald - passed through Kennedy's body and wounded his fellow motorcade passenger, Connally, and that a second, fatal bullet, fired from the same place, tore through Kennedy's head.
The assassination of the president occurred Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas; Oswald was arrested that day but was shot and killed two days later as he was being transferred from the city jail to the county jail.
Conspiracy theorists reject the idea that a single bullet could have hit both Kennedy and Connally and done such damage. Thus they argue that a second gunman must have been involved.
Ford's changes tend to support the single-bullet theory by making a specific point that the bullet entered Kennedy's body ''at the back of his neck'' rather than in his uppermost back, as the commission staff originally wrote.
Ford's handwritten notes were contained in 40,000 pages of records kept by J. Lee Rankin, chief counsel of the Warren Commission.
They were made public Wednesday by the Assassination Record Review Board, an agency created by Congress to amass all relevant evidence in the case. The documents will be available to the public in the National Archives.
The staff of the commission had written: ''A bullet had entered his back at a point slightly above the shoulder and to the right of the spine.''
Ford suggested changing that to read: ''A bullet had entered the back of his neck at a point slightly to the right of the spine.''
The final report said: ''A bullet had entered the base of the back of his neck slightly to the right of the spine.''
Ford, then House Republican leader and later elevated to the presidency with the 1974 resignation of Richard Nixon, is the sole surviving member of the seven-member commission chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren.
In spite of the fact that Ford admitted falsifying evidence in the Warren Commission report, and that the evidence shows that his changes had nothing to do with any attempts to be "precise," but rather to support the "Lone Assassin" theory , the "official sources continue to use various media outlets to propagandize their fantasy.
No JFK conspiracy, new analysis shows
October 28, 2003
The United States' ABC television network said today it conducted an exhaustive investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, complete with a computer-generated reconstruction, which irrefutably confirms that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
A two-hour special on the event is scheduled to air on ABC News in the United States on November 20, two days before the 40th anniversary Kennedy's killing.
"It leaves no room for doubt," said Tom Yellin, executive producer of the special, narrated by Peter Jennings.
He called the results of ABC's study "enormously powerful. It's irrefutable". The conclusion that Oswald alone shot Kennedy during a motorcade in Dallas mirrors that of the Warren Commission, the official government inquiry into the assassination.
Even today, public opinion surveys find that less than half of Americans don't agree with that conclusion, said Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
I believe that the last polls I read indicated that only about 10% of Americans believe that there was "no conspiracy."
But that reservoir of doubt, largely fed by government secrecy and Oliver Stone's movie on the assassination, is important to address, Yellin said.
You got it, buddy. And there's no way you can refute that bullet above. It is, no pun intended, the "smoking gun" evidence that the government's single assassin, single bullet theory is a total crock of horse-hockey.
ABC News worked with an expert who created a computer-generated reconstruction of the shooting based on maps, blueprints, physical measurements, more than 500 photographs, films and autopsy reports, ABC said.
It enables a person to view the scene from any number of perspectives, including what Oswald saw from the sixth floor of the former Texas school book depository, Yellin said.
"When you do that, it's chillingly clear what happened," Yellin said.
He dismisses theories that there was another gunman.
Through interviews and other documentation, ABC News also concludes that Jack Ruby, who later killed Oswald, acted simply out of his love for Kennedy.
The computer-generated technology, only available for the past few years, is now frequently used in criminal investigations, Yellin said.
While Stone's movie raised doubt in many people's minds about the Warren Commission, it also led to the release of many government documents that had previously been kept hidden and fueled conspiracy theorists, Yellin said.
Yes, those documents certainly did "fuel conspiracy theorists". It's important to remember what a "theory" is: it is a reasonable conjecture based on an assembly of facts and observations. On the other hand, the Warren Commission Report is a total fantasy.
None of the documents offer significant evidence refuting the conclusion that Oswald acted alone, Yellin said.
Still, much of Americans' cynicism about their government can be traced to November 22, 1963, making further investigation important even 40 years later, he said.
"I think it's very hard for people to accept the fact that the most powerful man in the world can be murdered by a disaffected person whose life had been a series of failures up to that point," Yellin said.
Both Yellin and Mack admit that no matter what evidence ABC News lays out, it's not likely to quiet people who believe otherwise.
"The history of this subject is pretty clear," Mack said.
"No matter what information comes out, people are going to believe what they want."
So, based upon maps, blueprints, physical measurements, more than 500 photographs, films and autopsy reports, the good folks at ABC have made a computer-generated reconstruction of the shooting that leaves no doubt that Oswald acted alone.
Glory Hallelujah! We have been saved from those evil, lying, conspiracy theorists by Lee Harvey Oswald and ABC!
Now, in addition to the Magic Bullet - you know the one that entered Kennedy's back and then jumped up and exited through his throat and went on to bounce around in Connally like a lethal pinball - there was another bullet. Let's look at what that bullet, allegedly fired by marksman Oswald, from the rear, did to John Kennedy's head:
Next is the photo doctored by the Warren Commission for public consumption. The problem is, if the bullet that entered JFK's back, and exited through his throat, then hit John Connally, and the second bullet hit JFK in the head, where is the exit wound of the second bullet?
Notice how he is all cleaned up. There's another shot available on the net that purports to be the back of John Kennedy's head, minus the blown-out brains that is clearly fraudulent because here are the embalmer's notes:
The issue of the head-shot that killed Kennedy is as contentious as the current day issue of the Pentagon Strike on 9/11. The government and its apologists have produced endless "experts" to prove that a gunshot to the head from the rear can cause the head to fly violently backward - in the direction the shot came from - and, at the same time, that the shot to the rear of the skull will cause a large piece of the skull to fly off to the rear as can be seen to happen in the Zapruder film above. That is, in fact, what Jackie Kennedy is seen to be trying to retrieve. To see that poor woman watch as her husband's head literally explodes in front of her eyes, and to see her try to get the pieces to put him back together, is unbearably painful to watch.
One of the key elements of the "official explanation" for the headshot is that John Kennedy's head can be seen to first move forward, and then jerk violently backward. Somehow this is twisted into some kind of off-planet physics to be hard evidence for the shot from the rear, i.e. the Texas School Book Depository, i.e. Oswald. Never mind that there are thousands, if not millions, of cases where the point of entry is small, and the bullet tears a gigantic hole when making its exit; a hole exactly like the one on the back of John Kennedy's head.
As it happens, shortly after the assassination, Dallas resident Billy Harper was walking down the median in Dealey Plaza and found a piece of the President's skull laying in the grass. Taken together with the violent motion of the President's head, the blood spray dousing the motorcyle cops who were behind Kennedy to his left rear and then the skull pieces found in the grass opposite the grassy knoll, the debris pattern clearly indicates that the head shot came from the front. Thousands of murder cases have been prosecuted on this type of evidence. If, suddenly rules of criminal evidence were to be reversed by all the so-called experts trying to support the Warren Fantasy, then how many criminal cases might be overturned based on this newly discovered law of physics?
There is a reason that JFK's head moves forward just a fraction of a second before it moves violently back and to the left.
From the confession of James Files:
"When I got to the point where I thought it would be the last field of fire, I had zeroed in to the left side of the head there that I had, because if I wait any longer then Jacqueline Kennedy would have been in the line of fire and I had been instructed for nothing to happen to her and at that moment I figured this is my last chance for a shot and he had still not been hit in the head. So, as I fired that round, Mr. Nicoletti and I fired approximately at the same time as the head started forward then it went backward. I would have to say that his shell struck approximately 1000th of a second ahead of mine maybe but that what's started pushing the head forward which caused me to miss the left eye and I came in on the left side of the temple."
Houston Chronicle Published Nov. 22, 1963:
Dr. Kemp Clark, neurosurgeon, said: "I was called because the President had sustained a brain injury." "It was apparent the President had sustained a lethal wound," Dr. Clark said.
"A missile had gone in and out of the back of his head, causing extensive lacerations and loss of brain tissue. Shortly after I arrived, the President's heart stopped. We attempted resuscitation, initiating closed chest heart massage, but to no avail.
"We were able to obtain a palpable pulse by this method but again to no avail.
President Kennedy died on the emergency table after 20 minutes.
See: I Shot JFK. Results of a 10 year private, unbiased investigation provide the first hard evidence of conspiracy in 40 years!
Let us now return to our official history of that day:
"The car sped off to Parkland Memorial Hospital, just a few minutes away. But there was little that could be done for the President. A Catholic priest was summoned to administer the last rites and at 1:00 p.m. John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead. Governor Connolly, though seriously wounded, would recover.
"The President's body was brought to Love Field and placed on Air Force One. Before the plane took off, a grim-faced Lyndon B. Johnson stood in the tight, crowded compartment and took the oath of office, administered by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Hughes. The brief ceremony took place at 2:38 p.m."
As I have already mentioned in a previous chapter, Lyndon Johnson had already drafted National Security Memorandum 273, dated November 21st, 1963 - the day before John Kennedy met his fate in Dallas - which suggests that LBJ knew something. So, let's have a look at the "grim-faced" Lyndon Baines Johnson taking the oath of office as described above:
|The "grim-faced" Lyndon Johnson being sworn in as President.|
Barr McClellan, father of former White House press secretary Scott McClellan and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Mark McClellan, wrote a book entitled: "Blood, Money & Power: How L.B.J. Killed J.F.K". His thesis was that former President Lyndon B. Johnson was behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His book apparently includes photographs, copies of letters, insider interviews and details of fingerprints as proof that Edward A. Clark, the powerful head of Johnson's private and business legal team and a former ambassador to Australia, led the plan and cover-up for the 1963 assassination in Dallas.
Well, I don't think that LBJ was behind it, but we already suspect that he was involved - as were 90% of the pathological deviants in the United States at the time - most of whom were successful businessmen, mobsters and politicians.
The fact is, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was a form of control of the government of the United States. It is the ultimate form of control of the election process. Understanding this can lead us to understand what has happened to our country since that terrible day in November, 43 years ago. Studied carefully, the assassination of John F. Kennedy can reveal who really controls the United States and its polices, particularly foreign policy. As John Kennedy himself said:
"For we are opposed, around the world, by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence; in infiltration instead of invasion; on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice; on guerillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific, and political operations. Its preparations are concealed not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined, its dissenters are silenced, not praised; no expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the cold war, in short, with a wartime discipline no democracy would ever hope to wish to match. ..."
He was right; but I think he didn't realize how far they were willing - and able - to go.
Nowadays, we know how far they are able and willing to go: just look at the events of September 11, 2001, which bear the same unmistakable stamp of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In fact, as I have mentioned before, the same gang is involved.
Today, we live in a country where the poor and old cannot afford health care, something that John Kennedy was trying to correct. We live in a country where the economy is falling apart; a country where 44 million people live on less than $12,000 dollars a year; a nation where over 2 million people are homeless; a country where the entire media system is owned by only six media mega conglomerates; the country with the highest crime rate in the world (not being at war); a country with the world's largest prison population; a society where 25% of children under 12 live in poverty; a country that gives Israel billions of dollars a year to kill and maim Palestinians while there are over 2 million homeless on our own streets; a country where the gulf between the rich and poor is wider than it is in almost all other civilized countries; a nation that supports dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and many other countries around the world; a country that spies on its own citizens, has trashed the Constitution; a country that has undertaken to torture people when it is known that no intelligence that comes from a tortured person is likely to be accurate; a country where the government is full of corruption worse than any Banana Republic; a country where 40 percent of the homeless are military veterans, in a country with the world's highest teen suicide rates; and all of these were issues that concerned John F. Kennedy, issues that he was working very hard - against a stubborn, oligarchic system - to correct.
As people throughout the nation and the world struggled to make sense of the senseless act of the slaughter of a man who had the brains and guts to solve America's problems, and to articulate their feelings about President Kennedy's life and legacy, many recalled these words from his inaugural address which had now acquired new meaning:
"All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days, nor in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this administration. Nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."
John Kennedy was on his way to give a speech on that Sunny afternoon in Dallas, Texas, 43 years ago. I think it is only fitting that we close this chapter with the words he planned to say, but never got the chance:
President John F. Kennedy November 22, 1963
"I am honored to have this invitation to address the annual meeting of the Dallas Citizens Council, joined by the members of the Dallas Assembly--and pleased to have this opportunity to salute the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest.
It is fitting that these two symbols of Dallas progress are united in the sponsorship of this meeting. For they represent the best qualities, I am told, of leadership and learning in this city--and leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. The advancement of learning depends on community leadership for financial and political support and the products of that learning, in turn, are essential to the leadership's hopes for continued progress and prosperity. It is not a coincidence that those communities possessing the best in research and graduate facilities--from MIT to Cal Tech--tend to attract the new and growing industries. I congratulate those of you here in Dallas who have recognized these basic facts through the creation of the unique and forward-looking Graduate Research Center.
This link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level. It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country's security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.
There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.
But today other voices are heard in the land--voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the greatest single threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.
We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will "talk sense to the American people." But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.
I want to discuss with you today the status of our strength and our security because this question clearly calls for the most responsible qualities of leadership and the most enlightened products of scholarship. For this Nation's strength and security are not easily or cheaply obtained, nor are they quickly and simply explained. There are many kinds of strength and no one kind will suffice. Overwhelming nuclear strength cannot stop a guerrilla war. Formal pacts of alliance cannot stop internal subversion. Displays of material wealth cannot stop the disillusionment of diplomats subjected to discrimination.
Above all, words alone are not enough. The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.
I realize that this Nation often tends to identify turning-points in world affairs with the major addresses which preceded them. But it was not the Monroe Doctrine that kept all Europe away from this hemisphere--it was the strength of the British fleet and the width of the Atlantic Ocean. It was not General Marshall's speech at Harvard which kept communism out of Western Europe--it was the strength and stability made possible by our military and economic assistance.
In this administration also it has been necessary at times to issue specific warnings--warnings that we could not stand by and watch the Communists conquer Laos by force, or intervene in the Congo, or swallow West Berlin, or maintain offensive missiles on Cuba. But while our goals were at least temporarily obtained in these and other instances, our successful defense of freedom was due not to the words we used, but to the strength we stood ready to use on behalf of the principles we stand ready to defend.
This strength is composed of many different elements, ranging from the most massive deterrents to the most subtle influences. And all types of strength are needed--no one kind could do the job alone. Let us take a moment, therefore, to review this Nation's progress in each major area of strength.
First, as Secretary McNamara made clear in his address last Monday, the strategic nuclear power of the United States has been so greatly modernized and expanded in the last 1,000 days, by the rapid production and deployment of the most modern missile systems, that any and all potential aggressors are clearly confronted now with the impossibility of strategic victory--and the certainty of total destruction--if by reckless attack they should ever force upon us the necessity of a strategic reply.
In less than 3 years, we have increased by 50 percent the number of Polaris submarines scheduled to be in force by the next fiscal year, increased by more than 70 percent our total Polaris purchase program, increased by more than 75 percent our Minuteman purchase program, increased by 50 percent the portion of our strategic bombers on 15-minute alert, and increased by too percent the total number of nuclear weapons available in our strategic alert forces. Our security is further enhanced by the steps we have taken regarding these weapons to improve the speed and certainty of their response, their readiness at all times to respond, their ability to survive an attack, and their ability to be carefully controlled and directed through secure command operations.
But the lessons of the last decade have taught us that freedom cannot be defended by strategic nuclear power alone. We have, therefore, in the last 3 years accelerated the development and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, and increased by 60 percent the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe.
Nor can Europe or any other continent rely on nuclear forces alone, whether they are strategic or tactical. We have radically improved the readiness of our conventional forces--increased by 45 percent the number of combat ready Army divisions, increased by 100 percent the procurement of modern Army weapons and equipment, increased by 100 percent our ship construction, conversion, and modernization program, increased by too percent our procurement of tactical aircraft, increased by 30 percent the number of tactical air squadrons, and increased the strength of the Marines. As last month's "Operation Big Lift"--which originated here in Texas--showed so clearly, this Nation is prepared as never before to move substantial numbers of men in surprisingly little time to advanced positions anywhere in the world. We have increased by 175 percent the procurement of airlift aircraft, and we have already achieved a 75 percent increase in our existing strategic airlift capability. Finally, moving beyond the traditional roles of our military forces, we have achieved an increase of nearly 600 percent in our special forces--those forces that are prepared to work with our allies and friends against the guerrillas, saboteurs, insurgents and assassins who threaten freedom in a less direct but equally dangerous manner.
But American military might should not and need not stand alone against the ambitions of international communism. Our security and strength, in the last analysis, directly depend on the security and strength of others, and that is why our military and economic assistance plays such a key role in enabling those who live on the periphery of the Communist world to maintain their independence of choice. Our assistance to these nations can be painful, risky and costly, as is true in Southeast Asia today. But we dare not weary of the task. For our assistance makes possible the stationing of 3-5 million allied troops along the Communist frontier at one-tenth the cost of maintaining a comparable number of American soldiers. A successful Communist breakthrough in these areas, necessitating direct United States intervention, would cost us several times as much as our entire foreign aid program, and might cost us heavily in American lives as well.
About 70 percent of our military assistance goes to nine key countries located on or near the borders of the Communist bloc--nine countries confronted directly or indirectly with the threat of Communist aggression - VietNam, Free China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, and Iran. No one of these countries possesses on its own the resources to maintain the forces which our own Chiefs of Staff think needed in the common interest. Reducing our efforts to train, equip, and assist their armies can only encourage Communist penetration and require in time the increased overseas deployment of American combat forces. And reducing the economic help needed to bolster these nations that undertake to help defend freedom can have the same disastrous result. In short, the $50 billion we spend each year on our own defense could well be ineffective without the $4 billion required for military and economic assistance.
Our foreign aid program is not growing in size, it is, on the contrary, smaller now than in previous years. It has had its weaknesses, but we have undertaken to correct them. And the proper way of treating weaknesses is to replace them with strength, not to increase those weaknesses by emasculating essential programs. Dollar for dollar, in or out of government, there is no better form of investment in our national security than our much-abused foreign aid program. We cannot afford to lose it. We can afford to maintain it. We can surely afford, for example, to do as much for our 19 needy neighbors of Latin America as the Communist bloc is sending to the island of Cuba alone.
I have spoken of strength largely in terms of the deterrence and resistance of aggression and attack. But, in today's world, freedom can be lost without a shot being fired, by ballots as well as bullets. The success of our leadership is dependent upon respect for our mission in the world as well as our missiles--on a clearer recognition of the virtues of freedom as well as the evils of tyranny.
That is why our Information Agency has doubled the shortwave broadcasting power of the Voice of America and increased the number of broadcasting hours by 30 percent, increased Spanish language broadcasting to Cuba and Latin America from I to 9 hours a day, increased seven-fold to more than 3-5 million copies the number of American books being translated and published for Latin American readers, and taken a host of other steps to carry our message of truth and freedom to all the far corners of the earth.
And that is also why we have regained the initiative in the exploration of outer space, making an annual effort greater than the combined total of all space activities undertaken during the fifties, launching more than 130 vehicles into earth orbit, putting into actual operation valuable weather and communications satellites, and making it clear to all that the United States of America has no intention of finishing second in space.
This effort is expensive--but it pays its own way, for freedom and for America. For there is no longer any fear in the free world that a Communist lead in space will become a permanent assertion of supremacy and the basis of military superiority. There is no longer any doubt about the strength and skill of American science, American industry, American education, and the American free enterprise system. In short, our national space effort represents a great gain in, and a great resource of, our national strength--and both Texas and Texans are contributing greatly to this strength.
Finally, it should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live. And only an America which is growing and prospering economically can sustain the worldwide defenses of freedom, while demonstrating to all concerned the opportunities of our system and society.
It is clear, therefore, that we are strengthening our security as well as our economy by our recent record increases in national income and output--by surging ahead of most of Western Europe in the rate of business expansion and the margin of corporate profits, by maintaining a more stable level of prices than almost any of our overseas competitors, and by cutting personal and corporate income taxes by some $ I I billion, as I have proposed, to assure this Nation of the longest and strongest expansion in our peacetime economic history.
This Nation's total output--which 3 years ago was at the $500 billion mark--will soon pass $600 billion, for a record rise of over $too billion in 3 years. For the first time in history we have 70 million men and women at work. For the first time in history average factory earnings have exceeded $100 a week. For the first time in history corporation profits after taxes--which have risen 43 percent in less than 3 years--have an annual level of $27.4 billion.
My friends and fellow citizens: I cite these facts and figures to make it clear that America today is stronger than ever before. Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.
That strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions--it will always be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations--it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.
We in this country, in this generation, are--by destiny rather than choice--the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."
Remarks Prepared for Delivery at the Trade Mart in Dallas , November 22, 1963
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Editorial: JFK Shows The Way
Signs of the Times
To be honest, we tire of stating endlessly that which is patently, almost absurdly obvious to anyone with two firing neurons. While we understand that it is very tempting for many people to just accept the official story that Oswald murdered Kennedy, or any of the other blatant government lies we have been asked to swallow as fact, that understanding in no way lessens our disgust at the fact that those guilty of the very worst crimes are never called to account because they are usually found in positions of almost absolute political or corporate power.
This fact alone effectively prevents us (and any rationale person) from ever being able to "take the blue pill", because given the nature and intentions of these power brokers, rather than take the blue pill, we might as well swap it for a cyanide capsule and get it over with now.
But just as the last vestige of hope may seem to have been squashed, we find ourselves gripped by a strangely invigorating idea: While it may be true that the vast majority of ordinary people simply do not, or are unable to care anymore, there IS one group of people that is still very much concerned about making sure their voice is heard and their message received: the very same group that was responsible for the assassination of JFK, and a host of other heinous crimes leading right up to the present day and the criminal "war on terror".
From this we come to understand that there is still a battle to be joined, and success or failure can not be measured by the extent of the apathy or disinterest of the people, but rather by the evidence for the continued manipulation of the people by the "powers that be". The simple logic is that, if such "power brokers" are still exerting significant efforts to brainwash the masses and obscure the truth, then the Truth, and the exposure of it, must still pose a very real threat to the nefarious plans of these "power brokers", and hope therefore remains.
Our job then, and that of any genuine "truth seeker", is not to fight to free the individual or collective mass of ordinary people per se - for each must choose for themselves what part they will play - but rather to fight for the concept, the very idea of Truth, and its existence in this world. In this way, we shine a light on the door to a different future, and each much choose whether or not they will step across the threshold.
There is never a point then when we can 'throw in the towel' or decide that all is lost, for while we still have breath, we still have work to do. It has been suggested that 'the universe' (or whatever name you wish to give to the force of creation) keeps its 'options' open right up until the last moment, and while the odds may not look good at present, we are not about to shrink from our responsibility to do all we can to keep the fire of Truth alive, right up until that 'last moment'.
Each tactical move that the 'control system' makes in an attempt to bury the Truth and further stack the deck in their favor, will be responded to with the Truth itself. At present there are still a handful of dedicated 'seekers after truth', but if they should fall by the wayside, then we shall carry on the task, alone if need be. Like we said, while we have breath in our bodies.
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Editorial: U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 And JFK
Signs of the Times
Today is the 39th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 242. This resolution was passed following the war in June 1967 in which Israel invaded its Arab neighbors after claiming it had been attacked. This excuse never seems to fail. It was also the war in which the Israelis, fearing that the US government would become aware that Israeli had in fact provoked the war, attacked and destroyed the US communications ship the Liberty, killing 34 US Navy personnel.
During the war, the Israelis captured the Sinai peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. The Sinai was returned to Egypt after the peace accords of the late seventies. The West Bank and Gaza Strip remain under Israeli domination and occupation. Israel "annexed" the Golan Heights in 1981 and has steadily increased settlements there.
November 22, 1967
The Security Council,
Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,
Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,
Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,
Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
Affirms further the necessity
Requests the Secretary General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;
Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.
Adopted unanimously at the 1382nd meeting.
A pdf file of the original document from the UN. Israel has always refused to implement this resolution, although it is the first to scream when one of its Arab neighbors doesn't abide by the UN. It can do this because it is so consistently supported by the US.
Things have only gotten worse in the intervening years. Israel has not only refused to give up the West Bank, it has adopted policies to drive the Palestinians out for good: the apartheid wall, mass murder and brutal harassment are the daily lot of those Palestinian civilians who dare to remain in their own land.
Perhaps we should not be surprised, but it is curious that two of the seminal events of this era happened on November 22, that is, on 11/22.
The House Select Committee on Assassinations found in 1979 that JFK's death was likely due to a conspiracy. A far cry from the Warren Commission whitewash. Now the debunkers are coming out to put that finding into question. We shouldn't be surprised. Kennedy's assassination is a key moment in the unfolding of US history. This was the moment when the military-industrial complex made certain that they would retain control. And they needed the complicity of the US population to do it.
By having them buy the lie. Eighty percent of the US do not believe Oswald acted alone, but what have they done about it?
Of course, with all the theories, counter theories, facts and counter facts surrounding this event, many of which were put into place for the purpose of confusing the population and covering the tracks of those responsible, this event is, indeed, a "lesson in ambiguity." But our conclusions about this do not necessarily agree with those of the professor in the following article:
Comment: "Knowing more and understanding less" is certainly a stage one goes through. It is important to learn to set aside preconceptions, to look only at the data at hand. But this raises the question of how far you need to go to find new data. Ambiguity is necessary for one's own progress as an obstacle to work against, that is, learning to change one's perspective, moving in and out of a situation or event, to see longer term patterns.
The Kennedy assassination, when viewed from "up close", is ambiguous. As Prof. Stone says above, "For every fact there is a counter fact." But when viewed within the context of the development of the US in the 20th century, the ambiguity dissolves like the stripping away of a thousand veils. This is why one needs to suspend judgment. One cannot make a decision about the Kennedy assassination alone, isolated from the rest.
But when multiple events are viewed, such as the assassinations of JFK, his brother Robert, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, the interest of the National Security State in the phenomenon of UFOs, mind control programs, Operation Paperclip which brought over former Nazis to work in the US, the establishment of the network of former Nazis and collaborators in the "Stay-behind" network to carry out covert activities for the dark forces within the US, and the events of 9/11 and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq among others, the consistent sense of "something is very wrong with this picture" is best explained by the hypothesis of a long-term conspiracy on the part of very powerful people in positions of power. When this history is viewed in the context of the last four thousand years of human history, the hypothesis of a long-term conspiracy against the best interests of the whole of humanity becomes the best explanation.
But there will remain those who argue over the "facts":
Comment: We are fond of the expression "the devil is in the details." But what are the details? That this recording of a shot has been "proven" to be something else? Or the likelihood that this type of technology is being used by the alphabet soup agencies to create phoney evidence? Or that the people who are behind this conspiracy will stop at nothing to promote the "lone nut" theory?
The person who does not wish to question his firm belief that the US government is the leader of the "free world", is the "bastion of democracy," etc, will decide the "detail" is that Berkovitz "proved" the "gunshot" was something else. Those who remain unsettled by the discrepancies in this, and who take a look at the larger picture, will come away with a different conclusion.
The role of television in forming false memories, in brainwashing the US population and in creating a populace where critical thinking is replaced by the need for the next, rapid-fire fix of a news "experience" (waiting for Michael Jackson's plane to arrive, anyone?), cannot be overemphasized. And once more we are taken back to the day of Kennedy's assassination...
Comment: When you consider the importance of TV in dumbing down the population, this article is saying more than the author realizes...
However, consider for a moment that 80% of the US population believes there was a conspiracy. That is 4 out of every 5 people! And yet, what has changed? what have any of these individuals DONE about it? Did it cause them to look clearly at the events of 9/11 and question the Bush Reich's official story? Or does it help them to understand the recent bombings in Turkey?
Comment: See here for more.
Comment: LibertyThink was kind enough to include the full text of the article here. Sherman Skolnick makes some interesting assertions in his article Rockefeller in the White House? regarding the assassination of JFK, Jr.:
A Friday after July 9, 1999, was when the Bush Crime Family benefitted from the airplane sabotage killing John F. Kennedy, Jr.(July 16, 1999). Kennedy was supposed to have kept it secret, that he was planning to announce August 1, 1999, that approaching the age similar to his late father, he was going to run for President. JFK Jr. made a mistake to inform some in the Gore campaign camp. [Using later a false item, Newsweek Magazine blunted this by stating that JFK Jr. was planning to run for U.S. Senator from New York.]
Some perceived Kennedy Jr. as scandal-free, charming, and likely to pull a big successful Presidential vote in 2000 [if he survived]. [More details in our four-part series on the web, "What Happened to America's Golden Boy?"]
DALLAS, TEXAS-What if?
Forty years to the day of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the event still compels one question more forcefully than any other.
Let's suppose, for example, Abraham Zapruder hadn't been convinced by a persistent coworker to leave work, go home and get his movie camera that day.
[...] The notoriously contentious conclusion of the Warren Commission, that the president was killed by a solitary gunman, acting alone, named Lee Harvey Oswald, would never have been cast into such enduring doubt without the questions still raised by the Zapruder film: If Oswald fired the shot that caused the fatal head wound from the rear, why does the president jerk backwards?
[...] While some images provided what seemed to be the most compelling contradiction of the Warren Commission's findings, other images made iconic by the event pressed the opposite speculation. Was the shot of Oswald in his backyard - with a rifle, pistol and subversive political tract - a fake? And if it was manipulated, couldn't all images be acts of trickery? Simultaneously in the assassination's aftermath, seeing undermined believing and believing contradicted seeing.
If the bullet entered from behind, why does the impact seem to explode like an exit wound?
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Editorial: Pierre Gemayel Assassinated. Cui Bono?
In record time, the corporate media placed the blame for the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, Lebanese Industry Minister, and grand son of Sheikh Pierre Gemayel, the founder of the Kataeb Party, also known as the Phalange (read: fascist), on Syria.
"The death of Gemayel, a Maronite Christian and son of a former president, coincides with a government power struggle. Among the stakes are Lebanon's participation in a United Nations tribunal to prosecute suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Syrian security officials are among the suspects," reports Bloomberg.
Saad al-Hariri, the son of another famous assassination victim, is quoted as saying "the hand of Syria" is behind the death, according to EuroNews.
"As Gemayel was an outspoken critic of Hezbollah and a member of Lebanon's anti-Syrian movement, Syrian intelligence likely staged the shooting as part of an intimidation strategy to keep the lid on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Hezbollah will use the momentum generated by the Gemayel assassination to further its plans to plunge Lebanon into a constitutional crisis," Stratfor tells us.
However, in order to understand Gemayel's assassination, we need look no further than the murder of Rafik al-Hariri. "Al Hariri's assassination provides the raison d'être for severing ties with Syria and for transforming Lebanon into a US vassal," explains Mike Whitney. "This conforms nicely with Israel's ambition to surround itself with non-threatening states as well as affording access to the vital water resources of Lebanon's Wazzani River. In other words, the murder of al Hariri has created some extremely fortunate opportunities for both Israel and the US; merging seamlessly with their overall objectives in the region."
Call it cui bono on steroids. Whitney continues:
"The likelihood that Syria was involved in the assassination is zilch. One can hardly imagine a greater disaster for poor Syria who has been scrambling to avoid the American bludgeon for the last four years. Few people realize that Syria provided more assistance in the first year of the war on terror after 9-11 than any other nation. That's of little consequence now, as the US is on a mission to quickly integrate the entire region beneath the American standard and prove that it can be trusted with its continued stewardship of the world economy."
"According to several political analysts, Al Hariri's assassination is aimed at drowning Lebanon in another civil war. Arab commentators called on Lebanon on Tuesday to unite against such threat, with some suggesting that Israel has greatly benefited from the death of Al Hariri," explained Aljazeera on February 15, 2005.
"We must do as they do in other criminal cases, look at who had the most to gain from the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri," writes Sam Hamod. "The Lebanese had a lot to lose, as did the Syrians (he was close to Bashar Al Assad, the leader of Syria), as did the other Arab countries in the region who saw him as a strong leader and a stabilizing force in Lebanese politics. On the other hand, Israel has wanted chaos in Lebanon, as has America."
For more detail on who benefits from the al-Hariri assassination, see the in-depth article by Bill Van Auken.
Wayne Madsen wrote a few days ago that "Hariri's assassination was ordered by neo-cons in Israel and the United States who wanted to implement their 'Clean Break' policy in order to drive Syrian occupation troops out of Lebanon and then engineer wars with the Lebanese Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. With the Iraq Study Group led by Bush 41 Secretary of State James Baker and including Defense Secretary-designate Robert Gates engaged in negotiations with Syria to work out an American military withdrawal from Iraq, the neo-con charges against Syria for the Hariri assassination are being cast aside, according to U.S. intelligence sources."
Naturally, this effort by the Baker Boys runs counter to the Zionist plan to sow chaos and destruction in the neighborhood. According the Madsen, the "realpolitik" Baker Boys are a direct threat to the neocons, as they are apparently "taking steps to lay blame for the assassination on operatives linked to notorious Russian-Israeli Mafia weapons smuggler and Defense Department air transport contractor Viktor Bout. Such an assignment of blame is designed to send a friendly signal to Damascus while signaling to Jerusalem that the blame for the Hariri assassination is being laid very close but not actually on the doorstep of Israel's Mossad and their neo-con allies in the Bush administration."
Predictably, the "detente with Syria and its Lebanese allies is sure to irritate the neo-cons," and thus it makes perfect sense for them, through the Mossad and its documented network in Lebanon, to muddy the waters by taking out Pierre Gemayel, as all Arabs are, of course, expendable pawns.
Editorial: Eva Golinger's New Book - Bush vs. Chavez
by Stephen Lendman
22 November 2006
Eva Golinger's eagerly awaited new book is now out - but only for those able to read and understand Spanish as it's not yet available in English. It's appropriately called Bush vs. Chavez - Washington's War Against against Venezuela published by Monte Avila Editores in Caracas. Hopefully it will soon be available in English as well.
Golinger is a Venezuelan-American attorney specializing in international human rights and immigration law. She wrote her first blockbuster book published in 2005 called The Chavez Code - Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela that documented the events surrounding the 2002 US-directed failed coup against Hugo Chavez that ousted him for two days and that the people of Venezuela through their mass outrage reversed. In her first book, Golinger obtained top-secret documents from the CIA and State Department through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests showing the Bush administration had prior knowledge of and was complicit in the 2002 coup against President Chavez and had provided over $30 million in funding aid to opposition groups to help pull it off. It failed because they hadn't expected the kind of people-power that's likely to arise again in the face of trouble and support the president they love and won't give up without a fight.
Golinger also showed how the US government funded the so-called National Endowment for Democracy (NED) that functions to subvert the democratic process to help oust leaders more concerned with serving their own people than the interests of wealth and power. Also involved in the coup plot was the international arm of the Republican party, the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the AFL-CIO that has a long and disturbing record of acting as an instrument of US foreign policy instead of sticking to what it's mandated to do - representing the interests of American working people it falls far short of much too often in its policy of selling out to the interests of capital for the personal gain of the union's leadership.
In the Chavez Code, Golinger showed how these agencies funded and worked with the Chavez opposition beginning in 2001 cooking up schemes that led to mass-staged street protests leading up to the day of the coup. It was done with the full knowledge and approval of the Bush White House that mounted a full-scale effort post-9/11 to oust Hugo Chavez and has now tried and failed three times to do it.
In her new book, Golinger picks up from her first one chronicling the Bush adminstration's focused efforts at illegal intervention in Venezuelan affairs attempting to destabilize the Chavez government leading up to another scheme to overthrow it that may be only days away following the December 3 presidential election Chavez is virtually certain to win impressively. The book documents the usual kinds of mischief directed out of Washington:
-- a demonization campaign conducted through the complicit US corporate-controlled media that's likely to reach a crescendo in early December.
-- financing 132 anti-Chavez groups. Golinger explains ...."the US is funding these organizations in civil society....to obtain control in all different parts of the country." She goes on to say "The US government has censored the names of organizations, but they've left the descriptions of what the funding is for....what they are proposing to do with the money; we just don't know if they're actually doing it."
-- The Bush administration is making a determined effort at subversion in the run-up to the December 3 election "bringing down their best experts....political strategists, communications experts, to help them craft the entire (opposition) campaign" - of Zulia state governor Manuel Rosales who was the only governor in the country to sign the infamous Carmona Decree after the 2002 coup that dissolved the elected National Assembly and Supreme Court and effectively ended the Bolivarian Revolution and all the benefits it gave the Venezuelan people (for two days.)
-- The Bush administration is conducting "diplomatic terrorism" against the Chavez government. Golinger explains "This includes sanctions against Venezuela for made-up things....claiming Venezuela is not collaborating on (curbing) drug trafficking, which is not true (as a US State Department report shows by having documented that from 1998 - 2004 Venezuela's drug seizures rose from 8.6 to 19.1 tons and Caracas claims the tonnage rose dramatically in 2005)." It also includes a "second sanction....for trafficking in persons. But there is not a shred of evidence that Venezuela is not doing everything in its power to prevent trafficking in persons."
-- Most important of all, the US created a new classification in May, 2006 "and Venezuela is the only country (under it) - which is for not cooperating with the war on terrorism." Venezuela is now sanctioned and "prohibited from buying arms that have been manufactured in the US or use US parts." The Bush administration is hard-pressed explaining what this new classification means, why Venezuela in the only country accused under it, and what the Chavez government is doing. It can only say (fraudulently) "All the countries on the list are state sponsors of terrorism" even though the US has never classified Venezuela as a terrorist nation as the world community would never go along with that kind of outrage.
-- a campaign of hostile rhetoric coming out of Washington has been ongoing for some time and is part of the Chavez-demonization project attempting to justify whatever schemes the Bush administration has cooked up trying for the fourth time to oust him. It comes in the harshest language and from the highest levels in the administration like Secretary of State Rice referring to Chavez as "a negative force in the region" and now fired and discredited former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld calling Chavez another Hitler and one of the most dangerous and destabilizing forces in the region.
-- Golinger also explains the US Congress issued a report on border issues mentioning Venezuela and incredibly saying: "President Chavez is engaged in smuggling Islamic radicals from out of the Middle East to Margarita Island (off the Venezuelan coast) where they are training them in Spanish and giving them ID documents and sending them to Mexico, where they are crossing the border to the US."
-- Golinger also covers Washington's "military front" attack directed against Venezuela including "an increased presence in the region." She explains she investigated the Pentagon's presence on the tourist island of Curacao in the Caribbean, close enough to Venezuela to see the coastline, where a US base is located. She calls this an "alarming" development, and it's being supported by the government of The Netherlands.
-- Golinger also cites the Pentagon's use of anti-Chavez directed psychological warfare including the use of ugly agitprop directed against the Chavez government.
-- She also explains "The use of Colombian paramilitaries by the US (as part of the "military front")....And the intervention of US Special Forces....as well." US Special Forces handle the command-and-control function directing the intruding paramilitaries who are "actors....sent over to try to assassinate Chavez."
-- Further, the book covers the US "building up a secret base near the border with Venezuela, next to Apure state....a small base, but the US is building airplane hangars for spy planes (to be used as a) launching point for espionage operations and monitoring of Venezuela. They also have large amounts of high-ranking US Special Forces there" along with high and low-ranking Colombian forces all controlled by US Special Forces.
Golinger shows how once again the Bush administration is funding and directing the above-mentioned agencies like NED to subvert and overthrow democracy in Venezuela as well as one other one - Sumate - a nominally non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 2002 by a group of Venezuelans led by Maria Corina Machado functioning as an anti-governmental organization dedicated to the overthrow of Hugo Chavez and the return of the country to its ugly past ruled by the former oligarchy and the interests of capital.
The book also covers possible Bush administration plans to invade the country outlined in Plan Balboa. It "was created as a military exercise jointly simulated with NATO (an arm of US interventionism) forces, supposedly realized during the month of May, 2001....but contains real satellite images, of the US institutions and precise coordinates of Venezuelan airstrips and strategic points within the territory of the country." The idea is to "come in from Colombia, Panama and from bases in Curacao....take over (oil-rich) Zulia (state) and the border area and declare it an international zone" - in other words, divide the country and steal the oil-rich part of it by force, then deal with the rest of the country.
She also discusses the possibility of Colombian right wing paramilitary intervention, and she believes their mission is to assassinate Hugo Chavez. She interviewed a paramilitary leader who told her there are already more than 3000 paramilitaries in the region around Caracas alone.
If paramilitaries intervene, it won't be the first time as this tactic has been used before and was foiled by Venezuelan police when a paramilitary plot was uncovered and arrests were made. Chavez has also had to combat years of paramilitary infiltration across the border conducting a wave of kidnappings and assassinations, especially in areas bordering the two countries like in Tachina state where the number of killings rose from 81 in 1999 to 566 in 2005.
There's also considerable evidence Colombian right wing president and close Bush ally Alvaro Uribe had a hand in these activities as well as the present destabilization efforts to oust Hugo Chavez and possibly try to assassinate him. He has a long and ugly record supporting the interests of wealth and power in his own country and has used his paramilitary assassins to leave a long trail of blood in displacing three million peasants from their land as well as having one of the worst records of state-sponsored terrorism in the world and a well-known contempt for democracy and human rights.
Golinger believes there are plans in place to overthrow the Chavez government and recently said Washington is "trying to implement regime change (in Venezuela). There's no doubt about it (even though it) tries to mask it saying it's a noble mission."
Many longtime Venezuelan observers and this writer believe the next attempt at regime change will unfold around the time of the December 3 election and likely begin the day after its conclusion when Hugo Chavez is virtually certain to be declared the winner with an impressive margin of victory. Expect it to include mass-opposition street protests claiming fraud and demanding Chavez not be allowed to claim victory and another term in office. Whatever happens next, only the coup-plotters know for sure, but it's almost certain to be ugly and may include US-behind-the-scenes-directed violence, possibly extreme in a determined effort to succeed this time unlike previous attempts to oust Chavez that failed.
We'll soon learn whether the coup-plotters will be any more successful this time than before. Chavez knows something is up and is prepared to act against it when it comes. It won't be long before the fireworks begin, and it now remains to be seen how the latest chapter in the saga of the Bush administration vs. Hugo Chavez will play out. Stay closely tuned.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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Wildly Exaggerating The Threat Of Terrorism
Blair is wildly exaggerating the threat posed by terrorism
Wednesday November 22, 2006
What is it about a desert that drives men mad? On Monday morning the prime minister stood on the Afghan sand and said: "Here in this extraordinary piece of desert is where the fate of world security in the early 21st century is going to be decided."
Tony Blair was talking to soldiers he had sent to fight the toughest guerrillas on earth for control of southern Afghanistan. He told them: "Your defeat [of the Taliban] is not just on behalf of the people of Afghanistan but the people of Britain ... We have got to stay for as long as it takes."
The prime minister's brain has clearly lost touch with reality.
Even under the Raj there was no conceivable way Britain could conquer and hold the arc of territory to which Blair was referring. It stretches from the Persian Gulf through Iranian Baluchistan and Afghanistan to Pakistan. No central government has come near to controlling this region, and its aversion to outside intervention is ageless and ruthless, currently fuelled by the world's voracious appetite for oil and opium. But it poses no threat to world security.
The sole basis for Blair's statement is Mullah Omar's hospitality to the fanatic, Osama bin Laden, at the end of the 1990s. As we now know, this was never popular (an Arab among Pashtuns); after 9/11, when the Taliban had collaborated with the west over opium, either Bin Laden would eventually have had to leave or the Tajiks would have taken revenge for his killing of their leader, Sheikh Massoud. Even the Pakistanis were on his tail. Either way, Talib Afghanistan was no more a "threat" after 9/11 than were the American flying schools at which the 9/11 perpetrators trained.
So what is Blair getting at? He once confessed to his hero, Roy Jenkins, that he regretted not having studied history at Oxford. He never spoke a truer word. The concept of world security as holistic and vulnerable to incidents such as 9/11 is nonsensical. Politics is not a variant of the Gaia thesis, in which each component of an ecosystem depends on and responds to every other. There is no butterfly effect in international relations. For want of a victory in Helmand, the Middle East is not lost, nor for want of victory in the Middle East is western civilisation lost.
This is as well, since Blair's resumed war in Afghanistan is clearly not being won. We know from the former army chief Lord Guthrie that Blair, despite promising to "give the army anything it takes", has refused the extra troops and armour needed by the pathetically small expeditionary force of 7,000 in Helmand. He has already had to switch tactics from winning hearts and minds to American-style "search and destroy", blowing up villages with 1,000lb bombs (as we saw on TV last week). British commanders are describing "successes" in terms of enemy kills. They should recall that Victorian officers in the Punjab were told that such boasts would be treated as a sign of failure, not success. Such killings infuriated the population and presaged revenge attacks. Has the British army learned nothing?
Blair has not been able to persuade his Nato allies in Europe of his apocalyptic world-view. The use of the word terrorism to imply some grand military offensive against the west may sound good in White House national security documents and Downing Street speeches. But terrorism is not an enemy or an ideology, let alone a country or an army. It is a weapon, like a gun or a bomb. It is not something that can be defeated, only guarded against.
Nor can terrorism ever win. Blair's flattering reference to it was in reality to al-Qaida and to the Islamist jihadism whose cause he has so incessantly advertised. As the American strategist Louise Richardson points out in What Terrorists Want, al-Qaida has not the remotest chance of defeating the west or undermining its civilisation. Only a deranged paranoid could think that. Some group or other will always look for ways to commit random killings, against which national security services need to be vigilant. But this is not war. Richardson points out that these groups are being grotesquely overrated. They cannot plausibly deploy weapons of true mass destruction, and remain stuck with the oldest terrorist tool of all, the man with a bomb (and if we are really negligent, with a plane).
While terrorism can take on different guises, it is not new and is not a threat to human society to rank with a world war or a nuclear holocaust - as the home secretary, John Reid, has absurdly claimed. Terrorist incidents are the outcome of someone's mental pathology and are of no political significance - unless cynical leaders in a targeted community choose otherwise.
What is sad about Blair's statement is not its strategic naivety but the psychology behind it. Why have the leaders of Britain and America felt driven to adopt so wildly distorted a concept of menace? In an analysis of terrorism in the latest New York Review of Books, Max Rodenbeck offers plausible but depressing answers. They include the short-term popularity that war offers democratic leaders, the yearning of defence chiefs and industries to prove the worth of expensive kit and, in Iraq's case, "the influence of neoconservatives and of the pro-Israeli lobby, seeing a chance to set a superpower on Israel's enemies".
All this is true, but I sense a deeper disconnect. The west is ruled by a generation of leaders with no experience of war or its threat. Blair and his team cannot recall the aftermath of the second world war, and in the cold war they rushed to join CND. They were distant from those real global horrors. Yet now in power they seem to crave an enemy of equivalent monstrosity. Modern government has a big hole in its ego, yearning to be filled by something called a "threat to security".
After 1990 many hoped that an age of stable peace might dawn. Rich nations might disarm and combine to help the poor, advancing the cause of global responsibility. Instead two of history's most internationalist states, America and Britain, have returned to the trough of conflict, chasing a chimera of "world terrorism", and at ludicrous expense. They have brought death and destruction to a part of the globe that posed no strategic threat. Now one of them, Tony Blair, stands in a patch of desert to claim that "world security in the 21st century" depends on which warlord controls it. Was anything so demented?
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UK daily slammed for using baseless allegations to demonize Iran
London, Nov 22, IRNA
The Iranian embassy in London has asked a British daily to refute malicious claims it used in an anonymously- sourced story last week to smear the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Daily Telegraph on November 15 quoted unknown "recent reports received by Western intelligence agencies" alleging Iran was training senior Al-Qaeda operatives to take over the terror network.
"This article contains baseless allegations intended to demonize the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran," the embassy said in registering its protest against the malicious claims.
"Iran has condemned the Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorism as well as all other terrorist acts and has fulfilled its responsibility of respecting UN resolutions against the evil of terrorism by arresting scores of Al-Qaeda terrorists venturing into Iran, presenting lists of their names to the United Nations and turning them over to their respective governments," the letter said.
It also pointed out to the newspaper that in December 2004 the chairman of the UN Security Council Committee on Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Associated Individuals and Entities in a report praised the "sincere commitment of the Islamic Republic of Iran to work with the committee."
"The writer of the article continues to ignore Iran's important role as a pillar of peace and stability in the region by
misrepresenting Iran's steadfast fight against terrorism," the embassy said.
This, it said, was "notwithstanding the fact that Iran has been a victim of terror and has lost a president, a prime minister and more than 70 lawmakers at the hands of terrorists since the revolution, not to mention the Taliban's massacre of scores of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan."
The daily was asked to publicize the refutation with "as much coverage and prominence as was accorded to the original" false article that coincided with Prime Minister Tony Blair supporting calls to open talks with Iran to help bring peace in Iraq.
In August, the paper's sister weekly edition, the Sunday Telegraph, was castigated for reporting unsubstantiated allegations orchestrated by the terrorist organization MKO to distract attention from the catastrophic situation in Iraq.
The report, again smearing Iran, was condemned by the embassy for using baseless allegations that have "no other aims than deviating public opinion from Iran's positive approach to the nuclear issue." The Telegraph group of newspapers has been commonly described as the voice of Zionism in Britain.
Last year, the daily edition went as far as calling in its editorial for support for MKO elements based in Iraq to overthrow Iran's elected government.
Comment: The Telegraph is a well known zionist rag.
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Elder Bush takes on son's Arab critics
By JIM KRANE, Associated Press Writer Tue Nov 21, 2:23 PM ET
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Former President George H.W. Bush took on Arab critics of his son Tuesday during a testy exchange at a leadership conference in the capital of this U.S. ally.
"My son is an honest man," Bush told members of the audience harshly criticized the current U.S. leader's foreign policy.
The oil-rich Persian Gulf used to be safe territory for former President Bush, who brought Arab leaders together in a coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's troops from Kuwait in 1991. But gratitude for the elder Bush, who served as president from 1989-93, was overshadowed at the conference by hostility toward his son, whose invasion of Iraq and support for Israel are deeply unpopular in the region.
"We do not respect your son. We do not respect what he's doing all over the world," a woman in the audience bluntly told Bush after his speech.
Bush, 82, appeared stunned as others in the audience whooped and whistled in approval.
A college student told Bush his belief that U.S. wars were aimed at opening markets for American companies and said globalization was contrived for America's benefit at the expense of the rest of the world. Bush was having none of it.
"I think that's weird and it's nuts," Bush said. "To suggest that everything we do is because we're hungry for money, I think that's crazy. I think you need to go back to school."
The hostile comments came during a quesion-and-answer session after Bush finished a folksy address on leadership by telling the audience how deeply hurt he feels when his presidential son is criticized.
"This son is not going to back away," Bush said, his voice quivering. "He's not going to change his view because some poll says this or some poll says that, or some heartfelt comments from the lady who feels deeply in her heart about something. You can't be president of the United States and conduct yourself if you're going to cut and run. This is going to work out in Iraq. I understand the anxiety. It's not easy."
Bush also told the audience its derisive hoots were mild compared to the reaction he got in Germany in the 1980s, after persuading the country to deploy U.S. nuclear missiles.
He told the audience - including dozens of women in black robes and head scarves - he was extremely proud of his sons, President George W. Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
He said the happiest day of his life was election day in 1998 when George and Jeb were elected to the governorships of Texas and Florida, but he also described the pain he feels when his sons are attacked.
"I can't begin to tell you the pride I feel in my two sons," Bush said. "When your son's under attack, it hurts. You're determined to be at his side and help him any way you possibly can."
One audience member asked the former president what advice he gives his son on Iraq.
Bush said the presence of reporters in the audience prevented him from revealing his advice. He also declined to comment on his expectations for the findings of the Iraq Study Group, an advisory commission led by Bush family friend and his former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee Hamilton. The group is expected to issue its report soon.
"I have strong opinions on a lot of these things. But the reason I can't voice them is, if I did what you ask me to do - tell you what advice I give my son - that would then be flashed all over the world," Bush said.
"If it happened to deviate one iota, one little inch, from what the president's doing or thinks he ought to be doing, it would be terrible. It'd bring great anxiety not only to him but to his supporters," he added.
Bush said he'd spoken with Baker recently - the two are neighbors in Houston - but preferred to reminisce about old times than discuss what America ought to do in Iraq.
"In the early 1960s, Jim Baker and I were the men's doubles champions in tennis in the city of Houston," Bush said with a grin. "If I were to suggest what they ought to do, it just would not be constructive and certainly would not be helpful to the president. It would cause grief to him."
Bush said he was surprised by the audience's criticism of his son.
"He is working hard for peace. It takes a lot of guts to get up and tell a father about his son in those terms when I just told you the thing that matters in my heart is my family," he said. "How come everybody wants to come to the United States if the United States is so bad?"
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Iranian president describes Bush as evil
The Iranian president today described US President George Bush as "evil", adding that justice requires that Iran face down US arrogance, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a group of clerics, "the evil president of the US visited Indonesia and you saw how people of Indonesia opposed the thoughts of this person."
"We will first have to break the horn of the big head so that justice can be done," said Ahmadinejad, referring to US-led Western pressure over his country's disputed nuclear programme. To "break the horn of the big head" is a Fares expression for blunting arrogant behaviour.
"Some bullying countries impose their illegal demands on independent and free countries while enjoying the support of some international organisations, which they founded for defending their own interests," said Ahmadinejad, lashing out at the US and the United Nations, where Security Council members have deliberated imposing punitive measures on Iran for its nuclear programme.
The Iranian president's launched his latest tirade against the United States as Iran's request for assistance to build a heavy water reactor appeared that it would be rejected.
Diplomats at a 35-nation meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog agency on Tuesday said that many of Tehran's allies favoured denying the request.
Ahmadinejad predicted that opponents of the program would fail to force Iran to abandon it. "Enemies express scattered words, they pose and humiliate but surely they will not go far."
He also claimed that Iran was close to reaching the "peak of peaceful nuclear technology."
In October, Iran announced it had expanded its capacity to enrich uranium, which can be used to produce electricity for a nuclear reactor or to make an atomic bomb. It began injecting gas into a second cascade of 164 centrifuges.
Iran says it plans to install 3,000 centrifuges by year's end, but it would take 54,000 centrifuges to fuel a reactor.
Iran claims its nuclear activities have peaceful goals, but the US and several of its Western allies believe otherwise because of the lack of transparency surrounding the program.
Comment: "Break the horn of the big head"!! Sounds good to us.
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US could bomb Iran nuclear sites in 2007 (with no justification)
President George W. Bush could choose military action over diplomacy and bomb
Iran's nuclear facilities next year, political analysts in Washington agree.
"I think he is going to do it," John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, a military issues think tank, told AFP.
"They are going to bomb WMD facilities next summer," he added, referring to nuclear facilities Iran says are for peaceful uses and Washington insists are really intended to make nuclear bombs, or weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
"It would be a limited military action to destroy their WMD capabilities" added the analyst, believing a US military invasion of Iran is not on the table.
US journalist Seymour Hersh also said at the weekend that White House hawks led by Vice President
Dick Cheney were intent on attacking Iran with or without the approval of the US Congress, both houses of which switch from Republican to Democratic control in January after the November 7 legislative elections.
The New Yorker weekly published an article by Hersh saying that one month before the elections, Cheney held a meeting on Iran in which he said the military option would never be discarded.
The White House promptly issued a statement saying the article was "riddled with inaccuracies."
Joseph Cirincione, Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress, a Democrat-friendly think tank, also believes the US government could decide to attack Iran.
"It is not realistic but it does not mean we won't do it," he told AFP in an interview. "It is less likely after the elections but it is still very possible."
"If you look at what the administration is doing, it seems that it is going to inevitably lead us to a military conflict," he said, adding that no alternative solution was being sought, including discussions with Iran on
Iraq, which could lead to talks on Iran's nuclear program and role in the region.
"Senior members of the (Bush) administration remain seized with the idea that the regime in Iran must be removed," Cirincione said.
"The nuclear program is one reason, but their deeper agenda is this belief that American military power can be used to fundamentally transform the regimes in the Middle East," he added.
With the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, hardliners in the government have lost one of their leading advocates, and his replacement, former former
Central Intelligence Agency chief Robert Gates, has in the past favored direct talks with Iran, said the expert.
"But they remain within the administration at the highest level, the office of the vice president, the national security council staff, perhaps the president himself," Cirincione added.
He also accused neoconservative circles of promoting the military option against Tehran.
In a Sunday op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, Joshua Muarvchik, resident scholar at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, called for getting tough with Iran.
"We must bomb Iran," he said. "The path of diplomacy and sanctions has led nowhere ... Our options therefore are narrowed to two: we can prepare to live with a nuclear-armed Iran, or we can use force to prevent it."
Israel has also been pushing Washington to get tough on Iran.
Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh did not rule out preventive military action to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, in a recent interview with the English-language Jerusalem Post.
However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems unperturbed. On Monday he said Israel was incapable of launching a military attack on Iran's nuclear sites and called Israeli threats "propaganda."
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Indonesian protesters tell Bush: You are the terrorist
US President George Bush shrugged off massive protests against his visit to the world's most populous Muslim nation yesterday as a sign of a healthy democracy, as thousands braved heavy rains to call him a war criminal and a terrorist.
Bush also pledged to work with Indonesia's government to fight Islamic extremists.
The archipelago is considered an important ally in Washington's war on terror, but public anger is high over US foreign policy in the Middle East and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, seen by many here as attacks on their faith.
Bush and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held "frank" and "sometimes critical" discussions on those issues, the Indonesian leader said, and also talked about ways the US could help fight a spiraling bird flu outbreak, set up a tsunami early warning system and improve education.
Security was tight amid reports that al-Qaida-linked militants could try to disrupt Bush's six-hour visit to the sleepy city of Bogor, just south of the capital, Jakarta, with thousands of rifle-toting soldiers patrolling the streets, mobile phone signals jammed, and water cannons deployed.
Demonstrations by Islamic hard-liners, students, housewives and taxi drivers have been staged every day this month and nearly 10,000 turned out to meet the US president on Monday, some holding banners that said "Bush is a terrorist!" and "Go to Hell."
Others called him a war criminal and chanted "Allah Akbar" or "God is great." Students in at least two cities tried to seal off American-owned restaurants, sometimes clashing with police.
But Bush, wrapping up an eight-day Asia tour that also took him to Vietnam and Singapore, was unruffled.
"I applaud a society where people are free to express their opinion," he said at a joint news conference at the Bogor Palace, a graceful presidential retreat surrounded by vast gardens. "People protest. That is a good sign of a healthy society."
Indonesia is a secular nation with 190 million mostly moderate Muslims, but Islamic fundamentalists are quickly gaining a foothold.
The Jemmah Islamiyah militant group has carried out a series of suicide bombings targeting Western interests since 2002, including two on the resort island of Bali and two others in Jakarta.
The attacks have killed more than 240 people, many of them foreign tourists.
"American people and Indonesian people have both suffered from acts of violence from extremists," Bush said, holding Indonesia up as an example of how democracy and modernization can provide an alternative to extremism.
"Our nations are determined to take effective action against terror network that plot new attacks against innocent people."
Bush also said he was happy receive advice from Yudhoyono on global issues, including the North Korean and Iranian nuclear disputes.
The Indonesian leader called on other nations to do more to help find ways to end the conflict in Iraq, saying it was not just up to Washington to come up with a solution. He also urged Bush to speed up a timeline for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
"The people of Indonesia should know that when their elected leader speaks, other leaders listen, as do I," the US president said.
The White House said it was comfortable with security arrangements despite warnings by Bogor's police chief on Monday that authorities were investigating unconfirmed reports that a man wearing a suicide vest would try to infiltrate protests on Monday.
The terror threat never materialized.
When Bush last visited in 2003, talks with were focused primarily on Islamic extremists.
Happy with Indonesia's response - hundreds of terror suspects have been arrested and put on trial - Washington ended an arms embargo last year that was imposed in 1999 over human rights concerns.
Bush this time was seeking to broaden relations with Indonesia, offering help in everything from finding ways to alleviate poverty and develop alternative sources of energy, to battling illegal logging and corruption.
"It's important to our nation that we have good, strong relations with Indonesia," said Bush, who left Indonesia Monday night for Hawaii, his last stop before heading home. "It's a relationship that should last for decades to come."
Yudhoyono, meanwhile, conducted an elaborate balancing act by welcoming Bush in such grand style.
He needs US help combatting a bird flu outbreak that has killed 56 people - a third of the world's total - and in improving economic growth in his country which remains desperately poor eight years after former dictator Suharto's was ousted amid street riots.
But Indonesia's first directly elected leader risked further angering Muslim parties and his political rivals who already accuse him of being subservient to the West.
Comment: At this stage, millions of people around the world have at some stage taken to the streets with signs declaring Bush and the Neocons and Blair and the Zionists to be the REAL terrorists. When is public opinion on this matter going to be taken seriously? Even with the massive black out on real news and the constant diet of spin and lies that is fed to the people, such is the extent of the deception that their leaders are attempting to foist upon them, they can STILL see the underlying reality. Bush, Blair, the Zionists, all these and more are the real terrorists. Could it be ANY more clear??
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Russian Foreign Minister Voices Concern Over Iran's Nuclear Plans
Created: 21.11.2006 23:29 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 15:18 MSK, 5 hours 33 minutes ago
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Moscow was concerned over Iran's plans to expand its nuclear activities, and called on the country to fully cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog, The Associated Press news agency reported.
Lavrov said that if the Iranian leadership did not clear up outstanding questions regarding its nuclear program - which Western countries fear is aimed at developing weapons - then Moscow would be within its rights to work further within the UN Security Council.
"We would like every blank spot uncovered by the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) in the Iranian nuclear program to be clarified," Lavrov was quoted by the ITAR-Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies as telling Russian reporters on a flight back from Vietnam.
The foreign minister said that Russia remained opposed to tough sanctions against Iran, but his comments appeared to indicate impatience with Iran's refusal of an international package of incentives to give up sensitive uranium enrichment.
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Hamas says ready for immediate halt to Qassam attacks
Hamas told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas yesterday it was prepared to immediately halt Qassam attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. The announcement came at a meeting yesterday of Palestinian factions, in which Abbas presented Defense Minister Amir Peretz's proposal for a mutual cease-fire.
The meeting, which took place yesterday afternoon in Gaza, was attended by representatives of the five largest Palestinian factions: Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Khalil Hiya and Jamal Abu Hashem represented Hamas.
Abbas opened the discussion by reporting he had received a proposal from Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz for a mutual cease-fire. He said that as opposed to previous cease-fire initiatives, in which Israel made unilateral demands of the Palestinians, Israel would agree this time to stop the fighting from its side, as well. "I told Peretz that Israel must also stop firing," Abbas said of his response to Peretz's request that the Palestinians halt their Qassam attacks.
Abbas conceded, however, to those present that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's position on the cease-fire was still unclear, in light of media reports yesterday that the prime minister had prohibited Peretz from meeting with Abbas.
Palestinian sources said Hamas representatives Hiya and Abu Hashem expressed willingness to stop firing Qassams at Israel. However Abbas also demanded a commitment from Hamas to stop attacks in the West Bank. In response to this, the two men said they would need additional time to consult with senior members of the organization before coming to a final decision on the matter.
The head of the Hamas parliamentary faction, Salah Bardawil, told Haaretz yesterday that his organization was prepared to engage in an immediate cease-fire with Israel, on the condition that it be mutual. Bardawil said Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had proposed returning to an agreement on a tahadiyeh - a temporary cease-fire, before, "but now the problem is on the Israeli side."
He added, "Peretz and Olmert are divided in their opinions and it is not clear to us what Israel's position is on stopping the fighting. Peretz asked Abu Mazen [Abbas] for a cease-fire, the chairman asked for an Israeli commitment to stop the firing on its side, but Peretz cannot give an Israeli answer on this subject."
Meanwhile, individuals involved in negotiations to free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit yesterday denied reports by a number of representatives of Palestinian organizations that talks on Shalit's release had come to a standstill. According to the sources, talks are still ongoing and significant progress has been made. They added they believed that by Id al-Adha (the feast of the sacrifice) in late December, a deal would be complete.
Palestinian sources revealed that Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is expected to arrive in Israel tomorrow for talks on Shalit's release. The sources declined to go into detail on the points so far agreed upon in the negotiations on a comprehensive prisoner exchange.
Meanwhile, an Israeli aircraft hit a car yesterday in which two Hamas activists were traveling in the Sajaiyeh section of Gaza City. The two, senior activists in the Hamas military wing, Abdel Khader Habib and Basel Obeid, were killed. Six passersby were also killed in the attack.
Comment: Palestinians may halt the defense of their lives and homes, but Israel is more than capable of carrying out attacks that make it look like Palestinians have broken the ceasefire.
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U.S. war on terror increasingly expensive
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-22 08:29:39
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Whether troop levels increase, decrease, or stay the same in the coming months, U.S. war efforts in Iraq will become more and more expensive, The Christian Science Monitor reported on Tuesday.
The cost of the war in Iraq has now surpassed 300 billion U.S. dollars, according to government estimates, said the report.
Add in activities in Afghanistan, and the total price of the global war on terror is 507 billion dollars, making it one of the most monetarily costly conflicts in which the country has ever engaged.
Now the Pentagon is in the process of drawing up its follow-on request for the remainder of fiscal year 2007.
Reports indicate that the Pentagon could ask for 120 billion to 160 billion dollars, which would be its largest funding request yet for the global war on terror.
The drain of continued fighting in Iraq has meant that the global war on terror has steadily moved up the list of the most costly conflicts in the U.S. history.
In 2005, it passed the Korean War's inflation-adjusted cost of 361 billion dollars.
Next year it will almost certainly pass the Vietnam War's 531 billion dollars, making it the second most expensive U.S. war ever, behind World War II.
Using a scenario in which levels of deployed U.S. troops fall to 73,000 by 2010, and then stay at that figure, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cumulative cost of the global waron terror could reach 808 billion dollars by 2016.
However, after winning the midterm elections, Democrats will certainly look for ways to increase pressure on the White House to control war costs.
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Iraqi death toll hits record high
The Iraqi death toll hit a record high in October, with more than 3,700 people losing their lives in the ongoing violence, according to a UN report.
The majority of the 3,709 people who died were killed in sectarian attacks [Ed: carried out by US-sanctioned death squads] - nearly 200 more than in the previous record month of July.
The brunt of the violence was borne in Baghdad, while the report also noted that women were increasingly victims.
The UN bases its figures on data collected by the Iraqi Health Ministry.
"The civilian population of Iraq continues to be victims of terrorist acts, roadside bombs, drive-by shootings, cross fire between rival gangs, or between police and insurgents, kidnappings, military operations, crime and police abuse," the report said.
It also made reference to the growing numbers of unidentified bodies which turn up in various areas around the capital.
During September and October, some 3,253 such corpses were found, many thought to be the victims of death squads operating with the collusion of the police.
And it noted the deteriorating plight of women, whom it said were increasingly targets of religious extremists and so-called honour killings.
"Kidnappings associated with rape and sex slavery have also occurred."
Last month, one US survey estimated that some 655,000 Iraqis might still be alive but for the US-led invasion of 2003.
The figures were vigorously disputed by supporters of the war in Iraq, including US President George W Bush, but there is backing for the methodology used among some statisticians.
The collation of data is an immense challenge in a country where anti-US insurgents and sectarian death squads pose a grave danger to researchers.
Comment: Congratulations Bush and the Neocons! Congratulations Zionist Israel! Congratulations Tony Blair and your Zionist controllers! A new record for death and destruction in Iraq! Y'all must be so proud in your own psychopathic way.
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Creeping Fascism? Or Has It Always Been So?
U.S. will demand Passports of all travellers
WASHINGTON - The Homeland Security Department will require virtually all air travelers entering the United States after Jan. 23 to show passports - even U.S. citizens.
Until now, U.S. citizens, travelers from Canada and Bermuda, and some travelers from Mexico who have special border-crossing cards for frequent visitors were allowed to show other proofs of identification, such as drivers' licenses or birth certificates.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff disclosed the effective date of the initiative in an interview with The Associated Press. The Homeland Security Department was planning to announce the change on Wednesday.
Chertoff said the change was a crucial next step to helping ensure the nation's security.
"Each of these steps raises the bar to an attack. None of this is perfect. None of them is foolproof. But we're always better off when we build higher levels of security," he said.
"Right now, there are 8,000 different state and local entities in the U.S. issuing birth certificates and driver's licenses," Chertoff said. Having to distinguish phony from real in so many different documents "puts an enormous burden on our Customs and Border inspectors," he said.
In a few cases, other documents still may be used for air entry into the U.S. by some frequent travelers between the U.S. and Canada, members of the American military on official business and some U.S. merchant mariners.
Under a separate program, Homeland Security plans to require all travelers entering the U.S. by land or sea, including Americans, to show passports or an alternative security identification card when entering the U.S. starting as early as January 2008.
The Homeland Security Department estimates that about one in four Americans has a passport. Some people have balked at the $97 price tag.
The Sept. 11 Commission said in its report, "For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons."
The commission recommended strengthening security of travel documents. A 2004 law passed by Congress mandated the change to require passports as the only acceptable travel document, with few exceptions, but the exact date had been in question.
Canadian officials and some members of Congress from border states have expressed concern that the changes could interfere with travel and commerce.
Chertoff said his agency's data revealed that in September 2006, 90 percent of passengers leaving from Canadian airports had passports. The department estimated that 69 percent of U.S. air travelers to Canada, 58 percent of U.S. travelers to Mexico, and 75 percent of U.S. travelers to the Caribbean hold passports.
"Could James Bond and Q come up with a fake passport?" Chertoff asked, referring to the fictional British spy and his espionage agency's technical genius. Of course, he replied, because "nothing is completely perfect."
Still, he said, with new technology, it is increasingly difficult to forge passports, and having just one document to scrutinize should make inspection easier for both inspectors and travelers.
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Nationalists rail against new MI5 role in Ulster
Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
Wednesday November 22, 2006
The enhanced role of MI5 in Northern Ireland and the size of its regional headquarters are emerging as increasingly contentious issues in the run-up to the restoration of devolution.
Nationalist politicians - who fear that an "institutional bias" against tackling loyalist paramilitaries in the security service could undermine confidence in the political process - are pressing the government to make the agency accountable to public scrutiny.
The Social Democratic and Labour party attempted to table an amendment to the legislation setting up the Stormont assembly at Westminster this week.
The party wants the police ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, to have the authority to investigate complaints against MI5.
The amendment was disallowed on a technicality but is likely to be reintroduced in the coming weeks.
MI5 is due to assume responsibility for national security in Northern Ireland next year, bringing it into line with the division of powers elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
But the handover is provoking political tensions in a divided society more concerned about the agency's use of informers during the Troubles than the threat of al-Qaida suicide bombers.
The implication that MI5 will focus chiefly on dissident republican paramilitaries and leave the monitoring of loyalist groups to the Police Service of Northern Ireland - because they are not deemed to constitute a threat to the state - has further angered nationalists.
The secret funding of MI5's Northern Ireland office has been condemned by the SDLP's leader, Mark Durkan, as "perverse and damaging".
In addition, the scale of the agency's new building - nearing completion inside palace army barracks in Holywood, east of Belfast - has heightened suspicions about the extent of its role.
In one heavily-edited section of the Intelligence and Security Committee's annual report earlier this summer, a paragraph noted: "The new [MI5] headquarters in Belfast, to which the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has contributed £***, will be constructed at a total cost of about £***.
"The NIO has also met programme running costs for the next two years of £*** and £*** respectively."
Ms O'Loan has also expressed "significant concerns" about the handover and is urging that MI5 should be legally required to provide access to intelligence records for misconduct investigations.
In her annual report to parliament, she warned: "Where there is a complaint of collusion by the police... access to intelligence is essential.
"It is vitally important that my office retains an ability to access relevant information and intelligence matters."
This week Eddie McGrady, the SDLP MP, described the expansion of MI5's remit as a "retrograde step" since "the government's own Organised Crime Taskforce has conceded [that] organised criminality and paramilitarism are two sides of the one coin".
Only one force was required in the province, he maintained.
An SDLP spokesman added: "It's been confirmed to us that MI5 are not interested in taking on loyalism. That's institutional bias. How are they meant to create confidence in a new [political] beginning? "Even under the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, in London, complaints can only be brought by those who have been put under surveillance, not by anybody let down by MI5," the spokesman continued.
"That means Osama bin Laden can complain but not the relatives of the victims of the Omagh bomb who have been told by the police that MI5 did not pass on the warnings of bomb threats."
The Northern Ireland Office defended the costs. "From 2007, national security arrangements in Northern Ireland will be brought into line with those for the rest of the UK," a spokesman said.
"Some of the cost for the transfer of intelligence lead is being provided by the NIO."
MI5's overt involvement has become such a sensitive issue that a four-page annexe of the recent St Andrew's agreement - which set out a "road map" towards the restoration of devolution - related to the agency.
The document declared that the "great majority of national security agents will be run by the PSNI".
It also set out five key principles, including that "the PSNI will be informed of all security service counter-terrorist investigations" and that "all security service intelligence relating to terrorism [in NI] will be visible to the PSNI".
The percentage of MI5's budget spent on combating Irish terrorism has dropped in recent years and now stands at around 17%.
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UK Motorists to be fingerprinted
Drivers who get stopped by the police could have their fingerprints taken at the roadside, under a new plan to help officers check people's identities.
A hand-held device being tested by 10 forces in England and Wales is linked to a database of 6.5m prints.
Police say they will save time because people will no longer have to go to the station to prove their identity.
Officers promise prints will not be kept on file but concerns have been raised about civil liberties.
Bedfordshire are the first force to use the equipment, which is being distributed among the forces in Essex, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, North Wales, Northamptonshire, West Midlands and West Yorkshire, as well as to British Transport Police and the Metropolitan Police, over the next two months.
Officers will scan a vehicle's number plates using a special camera that checks if the car is subject to an offence, like being uninsured.
If the driver does not convince police he is giving them a correct name, they will fingerprint him and verify his identity on the spot, instead of taking him to the police station.
Police Minister Tony McNulty said: "The new technology will speed up the time it takes for police to identify individuals at the roadside, enabling them to spend more time on the frontline and reducing any inconvenience for innocent members of the public."
Under the pilot, codenamed Lantern, police officers will be able to check the fingerprints from both index fingers of the suspect - with their permission - against a central computer database, with a response within a few minutes.
"The handheld, capture device is little bigger than a PDA," said Chris Wheeler, head of fingerprint identification at the Police Information Technology Organisation PITO.
"Screening on the street means they [police] can check an identity and verify it."
Currently an officer has to arrest a person and take them to a custody suite to fingerprint them.
The device will be used with the Automatic Number Plate Recognition team, who identify vehicles of interest.
If a vehicle is stopped, police will be able to identify the driver and passengers. At present about 60% of drivers stopped do not give their true identity.
Bedfordshire Police said officers using the device in Luton on Wednesday had arrested a man suspected of being an illegal immigrant and a woman for driving a stolen car.
Inspector Steve Rawlings said it takes two sets of fingerprints and the fingerprints are not retained.
"The encounter can be 15 minutes on the roadside rather than three hours in the police station," he said.
The device has an accuracy of 94-95% and will be used for identification purposes only, say police, and there are electronic safeguards to prevent misuse.
It sends encrypted data to the national ID system using GPRS - a wireless system used by many mobile phones.
More than 6.5 million fingerprints are cross-referenced and sent back to the officer.
Mark Wallace, who represents the civil liberties group the Freedom Association, told BBC Radio Five Live that he had "concerns" about the scheme.
"I don't think we should be reassured by the fact that at the moment it's voluntary and at the moment they won't be recorded," he said.
"Both of those things are actually only happening in the trial because the laws haven't been passed to do this on a national basis compulsorily and with recording."
Comment: Raising the temperature, one degree at a time and under the guise of "security" so no one sees what is happening. The very same process was used by the Nazis.
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Danger: assassins at work
November 21, 2006
Imagine you were a foreign power that wanted to get rid of a dissident who had set up home in London. Would you a) push the trouble maker under a bus, b) have him mown down by a hit-and-run driver or c) arrange for him to be poisoned while eating in a crowded restaurant?
If you wanted to make the death look natural, or just to keep things simple, you would presumably avoid the restaurant scenario. And yet, if many Russia-watchers are to be believed, the country's Federal Security Service (FSB) recently attempted just such an assassination.
On November 1, Alexander Litvinenko, a 43-year-old Russian who used to work for the FSB, (the post-Soviet version of the KGB), had lunch at Itsu, a cheap-and-cheerful Japanese eatery, with an Italian spycatcher. By that evening, he was feeling so ill he was admitted to hospital. Doctors wasted 10 days trying to treat him for food poisoning. His condition deteriorated - hair falling out, difficulty speaking, white blood cells disappearing, unable to eat, even nourishment from a drip causing him to vomit. It was only when they listened to his pleas to investigate whether he had been poisoned that doctors realised Litvinenko's body contained three times the fatal dose of thallium, a tasteless, odourless killer used in rat poison until, in the 1970s, it was banned as too dangerous. They are now trying to neutralise the slow-acting poison; but it may be four weeks before it is clear whether the ex-secret service man will live.
Litvinenko's friends in London have been quick to accuse the Kremlin of being behind this poisoning. They say Russia wanted to stop Litvinenko investigating the assassination last month of another high-profile critic of the Russian government - his friend, the campaigning journalist Anna Politkovskaya. They believe the Kremlin was also to blame for Politkovskaya being shot outside her Moscow apartment door.
The first British instinct is to laugh off these accusations. For Litvinenko's friends in London are a coalition of avowed enemies of the Kremlin. They range from a London-based human-rights activist called Alex Goldfarb to a London-based envoy for separatists fighting Russian rule in Chechnya, Akhmed Zakayev (Litvinenko's neighbour in north London), to the exiled and London-based oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, the highest-profile opponent of President Vladimir Putin, in whose Mayfair offices the rest of the group can often be seen. Berezovsky and Zakayev won political asylum in Britain after the Russian government failed to prove its claims that there was a case for both men to face criminal charges (in Berezovsky's case, for fraud; in Zakayev's, for war crimes) at home.
But there is a precedent for Litvinenko's poisoning. In 1978, operatives from one of the Soviet Union's satellite states, Bulgaria, decided to bump off Georgy Markov, a diplomat who had defected to Britain. In true James Bond fashion, his assassin prodded a ricin pellet under the defector's skin from the point of a doctored umbrella while he stood in a bus queue. Markov, who felt a sharp pain as the pellet entered his body, died after three days. When Bulgaria's Communist regime collapsed a decade later, a stock of special assassination umbrellas was discovered at the interior ministry in Sofia.
A cultural preference for the more absurd kind of murder has run through stories of KGB activity over the years, in keeping with the agency's fondness for smear and destabilisation campaigns in the countries in which it operated while the Soviet Union was a worldwide superpower. Even today, foreigners who deal regularly with Russia quickly learn to give at least some credence to the regular dark stories of dirty tricks by murky and usually unnamed "forces".
Many of the latest FSB stories have a London component because, since the 1990s, Britain's oligarch-friendly tax laws have made London the home-in-exile of choice for any Russian with money to burn. It is not just Berezovsky, with his homes in central London and a manicured high-security estate in Surrey. London has become home to so many Russians that it is known jocularly as Moskva na Temze - Moscow-on-Thames - and the streets of Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Belgravia ring with the voices of wealthy Russian ladies who lunch. British public schools and universities are full of posh Sashas and Pashas. With more Russians than ever before packing into our country, espionage levels are said to be at their highest, too, to monitor the newcomers.
In 2006, any story accusing the Russian secret services of dark deeds leads in one direction - to President Putin, an ex-KGB man whose job before he started running Russia in 2000 was running the FSB. All such allegations are intended to prove that Putin has given the FSB back almost all the powers of the Soviet KGB.
Litvinenko's and Berezovksy's friends, together with the actress and activist Vanessa Redgrave, have spent the past few years campaigning to prove that Putin came to power as a result of a deeply cynical FSB plot in the autumn of 1999. This, they say, involved blowing up apartment blocks all around Russia, wrongly blaming the attacks on Chechen separatists, and playing on Russian fears of the fierce Muslim Chechens both to start a new war in Chechnya and to win Putin the presidential elections. Litvinenko's book, Blowing Up Russia, details this claim. The ex-operative, who Russia says was removed from the FSB for corruption, claims he left because he did not want to carry out an FSB order to assassinate the man who was then Putin's political Enemy Number One - Berezovsky.
Moscow, in turn, hints that some of the more exotic crimes sometimes laid at its door are the work of "foreign connections". These hints seem to suggest that Berezovsky might be mischievously talking up a series of unconnected events into a froth of imaginary conspiracy.
Until now, this web of allegation and counter-allegation has been thought simply too strange to win many headlines in the British media. Yet now the British public is becoming uneasily aware of just how many other lurid stories there are about poisonings, shootings and helicopter accidents afflicting enemies of the Kremlin worldwide.
In the winter of 2004, the pro-western candidate for Ukraine's presidency, Victor Yushchenko, was poisoned with dioxin, a drug that thickened his film-star features into an elephant-man mask and nearly killed him. The poisoning has often been blamed on pro-Moscow secret service operatives. In the autumn of 2004, Politkovskaya, the journalist, said she had been poisoned aboard the plane she was taking south to the Chechen frontier, hoping to help negotiate a peaceful end to the hostage drama at Beslan school. In the summer of 2004, a Chechen separatist leader called Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was assassinated in Qatar; two Russians were arrested for the killing, though Moscow denied any connection. Earlier that summer, as Putin jailed Russia's richest oligarch, his political opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky, on fraud charges that the billionaire says were politically motivated, a helicopter carrying Khodorkovsky's British lawyer, Stephen Curtis, crashed on the English south coast. Curtis had said shortly before the crash that if he died mysteriously, "it would not be an accident".
I was at the London party where Politkovskaya shocked the British human-rights great and good by describing how she was slipped a knock-out drug on the plane south. She woke up in hospital several days later - too late for the Beslan children, who had by then been killed in their hundreds in a botched rescue attempt. What she remembered of the experience was the three men she had noticed in the plane, staring at her with the "eyes of enemies". She blamed the Russian secret services for poisoning her. It was impossible not to believe what this fearless truth-teller said.
It was in the 1990s that Russia's super-rich began to take an interest in Britain, as they fell out with the powers that be in Moscow and found London a friendly home. Since Putin came to power in 2000 and began crossing swords with more and more of the irrepressible oligarchs who had got too rich and powerful under his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, all wealthy people who fear they too might fall foul of the Kremlin - even those who, like Roman Abramovich of Chelsea football club fame, are currently on friendly terms with Moscow - make a point of having a bolt-hole over here.
What is most instantly noticeable about this immigration is the way it is pushing up London house prices way beyond the apparent logic of what the market can sustain. To the great joy of estate agents, rich Russians like to knock several lofts together to make enough lateral space for themselves and their staff and the expensive simplicity of their high-end interior decor; they are happy to drop millions for the right living space.
Russians are taking over the gossip columns, too, as they become a flamboyant and accepted part of London life. Photographers love Natalia Vodianova, Russian model wife of socialite Justin Portman. The married Abramovich's "friendship" with the pretty student daughter of another Russian billionaire with a London home has hogged plenty of inches in recent weeks, as have his occasional London football parties at Chelsea for his Moscow entourage and their visiting wives, all in fur coats and glittering with diamonds. Even the older, less photogenic Berezovsky, who makes his money these days by trading in London property, has a glamorous young wife and the pair are snapped at society events such as days out at Goodwood, in hats and tail-coats, escorted by the PR guru Tim Bell.
But the reporting of the Litvinenko case has brought the darker side of the Russian picture into focus. It brings the British, for the first time, within elbow-rubbing distance of the political struggles of Russians. This week's glimpse at the ugly underside of Moscow politics has been enough to jolt a lot of people here out of their innocent British belief that conspiracy theories are only for crackpots. Is it now time to start being frightened that the deadly and secretive skirmishes that have come to characterise life in Russia are spilling over into the UK?
Comment: This report is laughable for its naivety and for the suggestion that state-sanctioned assassinations in the West are a rarity and only happen in Russia. Britain and the US has an ignoble history of "bumping off" anyone who threatened to reveal the true nature of "Democratic" government, and Israel, that great "democracy" of the Middle East has been assassinating innocent civilians and political opponents alike on a daily basis for the past 60 years.
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Police shoot 92-year-old dead during drugs bust
A police official today said narcotics officers in the US were justified in returning fire on a 92-year-old woman they shot dead after she shot at them as they tried to serve a warrant at her house.
Neighbours and relatives said it was a case of mistaken identity, but police in Atlanta, Georgia said the woman, identified as Kathryn Johnston, was the only resident in the house at the time and had lived there for about 17 years.
Assistant Chief Alan Dreher said the officers had a legal warrant and "knocked and announced" before they forced open the door.
He said they were justified in shooting once they were fired upon.
As the plainclothes Atlanta police officers approached the house about 7pm yesterday local time, a woman inside started shooting, striking each of them, said Officer Joe Cobb, a police spokesman.
One was hit in the arm, another in a thigh and the third in a shoulder. The officers were taken to a hospital for treatment, and all three were conscious and alert, police said.
Sarah Dozier, identified as a niece of the woman, told WAGA-TV that there were never any drugs at the house.
"My aunt was in good health. I'm sure she panicked when they kicked that door down," Dozier said.
"There was no reason they had to go in there and shoot her down like a dog."
Rev Markel Hutchins, a civil rights leader, said Johnston's family deserves an apology.
"Of the police brutality cases we've had, this is the most egregious because of the woman's age," Hutchins said.
Hutchins said he would try to meet with Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington and would also meet with lawyers.
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Gas giant buys Russia's leading paper
Wednesday November 22, 2006
Russia's top newspaper is to be bought by the country's state-run gas firm in a move analysts say is part of a government push to increase media control.
Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP), the country's most widely read newspaper, is to be bought by Gazprom-Media in a deal worth an estimated $70m (£36.5m).
Gazprom-Media already owns Russia's biggest private television station, NTV, as well as a daily paper, Izvestia, and will complete the KP deal by early next year, according to company head Nikolai Senkevich.
The Kremlin owns a major stake in Gazprom and its subsidiaries and many believe the gas giant's recent media buying spree is part of an ongoing attempt by president Vladimir Putin to reduce press freedom in the country before the 2008 presidential elections.
This week Moscow journalist Boris Stomakhin was sentenced to five years in prison for his coverage of the Russian army's behaviour during the conflict in Chechnya. Human rights groups called the sentence "unfathomable".
Nina Ognianova, from the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, condemned the sentence and said: "We are seeing fewer and fewer journalists who can provide reliable and truthful reporting on Chechnya."
Last month, Reporters Without Borders ranked Russia 148th out of 168 countries in its World Press Freedom index.
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The Inhumanity Of Zionism
Gaza Suffering 'Massive' Rights Violations - U.N.
Beit Hanoiun, Gaza - A senior United Nations official described Gaza as suffering "massive" human rights violations during a visit to the territory on Monday and urged all sides to be bold in trying to end the violence.
"The violation of human rights I think in this territory is massive," Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, told reporters during a visit to Beit Hanoun, a town the Israeli army shelled earlier this month, killing 19 civilians.
"The call for protection has to be answered. We cannot continue to see civilians, who are not the authors of their own misfortune, suffer to the extent of what I see."
Arbour, on a five-day trip to the region, spent time at the house of a family who had lost more than a dozen members in a shelling on Nov. 8, when Israel says a mistake led to the barrage of artillery shells hitting the neighbourhood.
Her visit, the first she has made to the region since becoming commissioner, comes days after the U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution that "deplored" Israel's shelling of Gaza and called for an immediate cessation of violence.
Asked what she planned to do about the rights violations, Arbour said: "I will help to keep the conscience of the many who care about what happens in this part of the world alive.
"I will speak to the Palestinian Authority about their responsibility to enforce the law, to create an environment in which people can seek protection of the law and, of course, I will also speak to the Israeli authority.
"We need to collectively call on leaders, political, military and militia leaders, to have the courage to break the cycle of violence to ensure the well-being of civilians."
More than 350 Palestinians, almost half of them civilians according to Palestinian doctors and human rights workers, have been killed since Israel launched an offensive in Gaza in late June, following the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier.
The offensive was designed not only to try to trace the captured soldier, who was seized by militants including members of the governing Palestinian faction Hamas, but also to stop militants firing rockets into Israeli territory from Gaza.
Israeli authorities say militants have fired more than 300 of the homemade rockets into southern Israel this year, targeting towns like Sderot, just across the frontier from Gaza.
Last week, a woman resident of Sderot was killed, the first death from a rocket attack since July 2005. Others have been wounded and scores are treated each week for shock.
Residents of Beit Hanoun turned out to see Arbour as she toured the town, where many buildings are scarred by shrapnel, but were not hopeful her visit would achieve any results.
"It will not do anything," said Majdi al-Athamna, 37, who lost his son and three brothers in the shelling.
"This visit will not achieve anything unless the world pressures Israel to engage in a real peace process because as Palestinians we are paying the price of the false peace."
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Israeli Army Arrests 4 Children in Jerusalem
Palestinian News Service
Israeli troops thrust into Abu Dies village, east of Jerusalem, and arrested Islam Ali 14, Motasim Dandan 14, Mohammed Mohsen 16, and Hani Jifal 16. Witnesses added that Israeli soldiers, policemen and intelligence agents stormed several houses and assaulted residents and arrested the children while others took pictures for themselves while "smiling" during the arrest.
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15 Palestinians injured in Israeli air strike in Gaza Strip
Palestinian sources reported that 15 residents were injured in the northern part of the Gaza Strip after the Israeli air force fired two missiles at residents in Jabal Al Kashef area. Some of the injured residents are in serious conditions. Several children are among the casualties.
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Palestinian civilian attacked and badly injured by Israeli soldiers in Nablus
Palestinian source reported on Tuesday that one Palestinian resident was badly injured in Nablus city, in the northern part of the West Bank, after he was violently attacked and beaten by Israeli troops.
The resident, Suleiman Salahat, 28, was transferred to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus.
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Israel decides to continue Gaza operations
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-22 19:53:11
JERUSALEM, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Israel's security cabinet, fearing a further escalation of rocket attack by Palestinian militants, on Wednesday decided to continue its military
operations in Gaza but ruled out large-scale offensive, local media reported.
The decision was made after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held a security cabinet meeting on ways to quell the ongoing Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza.
According to the reports, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would be ordered to continue operations in a bid to prevent rocket attacks and increasing weapons smuggling from Egypt, but the cabinet ruled out any major offensive inside the Gaza Strip.
However, no immediate official comment is available after the cabinet meeting.
Local Ha'aretz daily quoted Defense Minister Amir Peretz as saying Tuesday night that the military would be asked to weigh options for reoccupying areas of the Gaza Strip in order to halt the rocket barrage.
In a security briefing , Peretz said that the IDF should come up with "creative solutions" in an effort to avoid a long-term presence in Gaza.
The military plans that have been drawn up for the major operation in Gaza include calling up reserve divisions as well as the possibility of implementing military rule of law in the Palestinian territories, Jerusalem Post said.
However, Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres told Israel Radio Wednesday that retaking parts of Gaza will escalate Qassam problem.
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Preparing The Ground For War
Mossad hit meant to spark civil war in Lebanon
The assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, who was a member of the March 14 movement, will lead the country into a new crisis, with serious repercussions for all Lebanese political groups.
The assassination took place while Lebanon is undergoing a unique political process since the victory of Hezbollah over the Israeli army.
In the aftermath of Israel's 33-day war, the government and people of Lebanon should begin a new era of political stability.
However, in response to Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's efforts to form a national unity government able to safeguard the achievements of the Lebanese victory, the United States and the Zionist regime began trying to destabilize Lebanon.
Along these lines, some Lebanese groups and political factions began objecting to the idea of establishing a national unity government and are trying to poison the atmosphere for the Islamic resistance movement.
The aim is to isolate Hezbollah and ruin the achievements of the Lebanese victory.
Naturally, after the 33-day war, the popularity of Hezbollah drastically increased in Lebanese society and the region, which is not acceptable for the United States and Israel.
U.S. and Israeli officials believe their only option is to undermine Lebanon's national unity through acts such as assassinations of prominent Lebanese figures in order to spark a civil war.
It seems that the Mossad ordered its agents in Lebanon to assassinate Gemayel in order to exacerbate the already tense situation.
The death of Pierre Gemayel, who belonged to an influential Maronite family, could spark a conflict between the country's Christians and certain Lebanese groups. If Lebanese leaders do not quickly resolve the crisis, another bloody civil war may break out.
Party leaders must avoid unjustifiably accusing other parties and certain countries of being behind the assassination of the Lebanese industry minister in order to bring the situation under control.
Clearly, the assassination of Pierre Gemayel will not help solve any of Lebanon's problems. All parties and groups in the country believe that assassinations will only pave the way for the return of the Zionist regime to Lebanon's political and military arena.
Lebanon is under attack by certain regional and extra-regional powers more than ever before. Therefore, the Lebanese people, and especially their political leaders, should reflect upon the regional situation and prevent Israel from taking revenge for its military defeat.
After their military debacle, the Israelis are determined to create a crisis in Lebanon that will spill over the country's borders in order to take away the Lebanese leaders' political momentum.
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Assassination triggers fresh crisis in Lebanon
November 22, 2006
Lebanon lurched closer to a fresh round of sectarian bloodletting yesterday with the assassination of its industry minister, Pierre Gemayel, a member of the country's most powerful Christian family and a leading opponent of Syrian influence.
The killing shook Lebanon's beleaguered government and sent tremors across the Middle East, further complicating attempts to find a regional solution to the Iraq war. The Bush administration, under pressure to negotiate with Syria and Iran, yesterday hinted at the responsibility of both countries' governments, accusing them of trying destabilise Lebanon.
Speaking at an air force base in Hawaii, the US president, George Bush, called for a full investigation and pledged US support for Lebanon's government leaders and their efforts "to defend their democracy against attempts by Syria, Iran and allies, to foment instability and violence in that important country".
In Beirut, Maronite Christian crowds tried to march on the residence of the president, Emile Lahoud, who they revile for his ties to Damascus.
Clashes also broke out between Christians and the police near the hospital where Mr Gemayel's body was taken after being shot in his car on a busy street. Outside the hospital, the dead man's father, the former president Amin Gemayel, appeared to stagger under the shock of the death of an heir who had widely expected to take over the mantle of the Phalange movement that his family helped found.
"My son died for a cause," he said. "I want all those who loved my son to keep that cause alive."
Yesterday's killing was the latest in a string of assassinations of anti-Syrian politicians and journalists, which many fear may be the opening salvos in a new cycle of political violence.
Mr Gemayel's car was rammed by another vehicle before a gunman walked up to him and opened fire at close range, hitting him in the head and torso and wounding his bodyguards.
The assassination came at a time of high political tension. Mr Gemayel and other ministers had just approved an international tribunal to judge those responsible for an earlier assassination, the February 2005 murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri - a killing in which Syrian officials have been implicated by a UN investigation.
Last night, the UN security council approved plans for a special court to try suspects in the Hariri assassination.
In the days preceding this latest death, pro-Syrian politicians had walked out of the government led by Fouad Siniora, while Hizbullah, a Shia movement backed by Syria and Iran, was threatening street protests to bring down the government.
News of the killing spread across Beirut as Saad Hariri, the son of the murdered prime minister and the leader of the anti-Syrian coalition, was giving a press conference to reject Hizbullah's demands and restate his support for the formation of an international tribunal into his father's killing.
Mr Hariri said "the hands of Syria are all over the place" in Mr Gemayel's assassination, and argued that Damascus was prepared to do anything to stop a tribunal. Syrian troops left Lebanon under a UN-negotiated deal after Hariri's assassination, but Damascus is still thought to wield considerable influence through its allies and secret service.
In Washington, the killing appeared likely to strengthen the hands of those in the administration, led by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, who oppose negotiations with Syria or Iran over Iraq. The US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, went further than Mr Bush in linking Syria and Iran to the killing.
"The White House warned about two weeks ago that Syria and Iran, acting through Hizbullah, might be on the verge of an attempted coup d'etat in Lebanon. One has to wonder whether this despicable assassination is not the first shot," Mr Bolton said.
Syria's ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, rejected the allegations. "We are part of the solution, not part of the problem," he said. Mr Gemayel's killing came as Syria and Iraq restored diplomatic ties for the first time since 1982, and before a summit involving Iranian, Syrian and Iraqi leaders, to discuss Iraq.
Comment: OK, let's get REAL here for a moment.
Who invaded Lebanon recently and murdered 1400 of its citizens?
Who murdered Rafik Hariri last year?
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Robert Fisk: Civil war in Lebanon
Civil war - the words on all our lips yesterday. Pierre Gemayel's murder - in broad daylight, in a Christian suburb of Beirut, his car blocked mafia-style by another vehicle while his killer fired through the driver's window into the head of Lebanon's minister of industry - was a message for all of us who live in this tragic land.
For days, we had been debating whether it was time for another political murder to ratchet up the sectarian tensions now that the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was about to fall. For days now, the political language of Lebanon had been incendiary, the threats and bullying of the political leaders ever more fearsome. Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Shia Hizbollah leader, had been calling Siniora's cabinet illegitimate. "The government of Feltman," he was calling it - Jeffrey Feltman is the US ambassador to Lebanon - while the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt was claiming Iran was trying to take over.
Yesterday's assassination of Pierre Gemayel was a warning. It might have been Jumblatt, who has told me many times that he constantly awaits his own death, or it might have been Siniora himself, the little economist and friend of the also murdered former prime minister Rafik Hariri.
But no. Gemayel, son of ex-president Amin Gemayel and nephew of the murdered president-elect, Bashir Gemayel - murder tends to run in the family in Lebanon - was no charismatic figure, just a hard-working unmarried Christian Maronite minister whose unrewarding task had been to call émigré Lebanese home to rebuild their country after Israel's bloody bombardment.
The fires burnt in the streets of Christian east Beirut last night and there were hundreds of young and occasionally armed young men in the neighbourhood of Jdeideh, where Gemayel was killed. "I want no revenge," his father Amin pleaded in front of the hospital where his body lay. But violence crackles through the air in a city where four anti-Syrian politicians and journalists have been assassinated in 21 months.
Gemayel, too, was a harsh critic of Syria, which was one reason why Hariri's son Saad - leader of the March 14th movement which controls parliament - blamed Damascus for his death.
Yet nothing happens by accident in Lebanon and political detectives - as opposed to the police kind who most assuredly will not find Gemayel's killers - have to look beyond this country's frontiers to understand why ghosts may soon climb out of the mass graves of the civil war.
Why did Gemayel die just hours after Syria announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Iraq after a quarter of a century? Why has Nasrallah threatened street demonstrations in Beirut to bring down the government when Siniora's cabinet had just accepted the UN's tribunal to try Hariri's assassins?
And why did America's UN ambassador, John Bolton, weep crocodile tears for Lebanon's democracy - which he cared so little about when Israel smashed into Lebanon this summer - without mentioning Syria?
All this, of course, takes place as thousands of Western troops pour into Lebanon to shore up the UN force in the south of the country: UN troops who are supposed to protect Israel (which they cannot do) and disarm Hizbollah (which they will not do) and who are already being threatened by al-Qa'ida.
No wonder the Europeans, whose armoured Nato forces now lie trapped in the south of the country, are so fearful. No wonder the Foreign Office has been telling Britons to stay away. No wonder Tony Blair - as discredited in the Middle East as he is in Britain - has been demanding an inquiry into Gemayel's assassination, something he will not get.
Hypocrisy isn't the word for it, though recent history provides all the clues. When Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and killed three on 12 July, Israel bombed Lebanon for 34 days, slaughtered more than a thousand civilians and caused billions of dollars of damage. It blamed Siniora's government and Mr Bolton and his fellow American diplomats did nothing to help the hapless prime minister. President George Bush wanted Israel to destroy Hizbollah - which they totally failed to do - as a warning to his latest Middle East target, which just happens to be Hizbollah's principal supporter, Iran. So much for Lebanese democracy. Even Mr Blair, so anxious about Lebanon yesterday, saw no reason for an immediate ceasefire.
In the aftermath of the war and the failure of all Israel's war aims, Sayed Nasrallah began to boast that he had won a "divine victory" and that Siniora's government had failed. Hizbollah, of course, is also Syria's friend and no one was surprised that the anti-Syrian government came under the lash of the Shia prelate whose giant billboard posters across Lebanon suggest he is suffering the cult of personality.
Twelve days ago, all six Shia ministers left the cabinet, leaving the largest religious sect in Lebanon unrepresented in government. Last Monday, Siniora's government - Gemayel included - approved the UN's plans for a tribunal to try Hariri's killers, whom most Lebanese suspect were working for the Syrians. But without the presence of the Shia, their decision may have no legal status. Nasrallah began to call for street demonstrations.
If he is the creature of Syria and Iran - and the Lebanese are still debating this while Nasrallah denies it - there could have been no better way of striking at Lebanon's anti-Syrian government. "We can have no confidence in this government because it obeys the orders of the US administration," Nasrallah announced. "... the cabinet has received an order from the US embassy assuring them that American policy in the region has not changed. The Americans told them: 'We are with you - don't give up!'"
Nasrallah chided those who claimed he was trying to create a crisis between Shia and Sunni Muslims, although many fear that their own religious divisions reflect, in faint and phantom form, the blood-drenched sectarianism of Iraq.
And does America really support Siniora, whose cabinet may now be in its death throes? At the UN, Mr Bolton loudly supported it yesterday while desperately avoiding the use of the word Syria. That almost certainly means Washington does at last realise that it will need the help of Damascus - as well as Tehran - to pull its tanks and troops out of the slough of Iraq.
Beside America's catastrophe in Mesopotamia, the democracy of Lebanon and Siniora's government doesn't amount to the proverbial hill of beans - as Syria and Iran are well aware. And Syria, yesterday, resumed diplomatic relations with the American-supported government of Iraq.
Today, Lebanon celebrates - it would be difficult to find a more lugubrious word on such an occasion - its 63rd year of independence from France, whose troops again patrol southern Lebanon. And Siniora's government still - just - exists. With Gemayel gone, however, it would only need the loss of two more cabinet ministers to destroy the legitimacy of his Shia-less cabinet and close down Lebanese democracy.
The Lebanese may be too mature for another civil war. But ministers might be well advised to avoid driving their ministerial cars along the highways of Beirut for the next few days lest someone blocks their way and fires through the driver's window.
Assassination that sent ripples around the world
2.13pm Lebanese Christian leader Pierre Gemayel, the Industry Minister, shot dead in his car.
2.50pm Saad Hariri, son of murdered former Lebanese prime minister Rafik, accuses Syria of the assassination. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni condemn killing. Ms Livni says: "The negative role of Syria in Lebanon is not something new or unexpected."
3.07 pm US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns says US considers assassination "an act of terrorism" against government of Fouad Siniora.
3.20pm Syria issues a condemnation, calling assassination "a despicable crime".
4.10pm Tony Blair says everything must be done to "protect democracy in Lebanon and the premiership of Prime Minister Siniora".
5.23pm Mr Siniora vows that his government will not be deflected from setting up a tribunal to try Hariri's murderers.
5.45pm President George Bush calls for full investigation to find killers and accuses Syria, Iran and their allies of fomenting "instability and violence" in Lebanon.
Comment: This assassination was carried out at the behest of the Mossad and the US Neocons. Mossad murdered Rafik Hariri last year for the very same reason that they murdered again yesterday - the destablisation of Lebanon to prepare the groud for another round of Israeli butchery against the Lebanese civilian population.
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French statement on Lebanon inconsistent with realities, Hosseini
Tehran, Nov 22, IRNA
Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said on Wednesday said that French officials' remarks on Iran's interference in Lebanon are baseless and contrary with realities.
Hosseini termed the French statement 'the outcome of biased and interfering spirit of France' in national affairs of other countries.
"They always escalate tension in Lebanon and do not consider the wish of the Lebanese people and Lebanese political parties," he said.
Touching on the destructive effects of interference of foreign powers in Lebanon in the past several decades, he noted that the Islamic Republic of Iran believes in Lebanese political parties and national aspirations of Lebanese nation to make decision on their fate without foreigners' interference.
"The Lebanese nation are mature enough to distinguish true way for national sovereignty without any trans-regional interference, and do not accept to endanger their political fate, independence, sovereignty and national unity in favor of the Zionist regime's interests," he noted.
Pointing to Iran's principles towards Lebanon, he said that the country has made glorious achievements in resisting Israeli aggression (in August-July), adding, such rumors can not tarnish the great people's friendly attitude toward Iran.
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UNSC approves letter endorsing creation of Hariri court
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-22 06:50:48
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council approved on Tuesday a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which authorizes the creation of an international tribunal to try the suspects in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the French envoy to the UN said.
Jean-Marc de la Sabliere told reporters as he emerged from a council meeting at which council members also adopted a presidential statement "unequivocally" condemning the assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.
The letter, prepared by Peru's Ambassador Jorge Voto-Bernales of Peru, the council's president for November, invites the UN chief to "proceed, together with the Government of Lebanon, in conformity with the Constitution of Lebanon, with the final steps for" the creation of the special tribunal.
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Earthquake shakes southwest Colorado
Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2006 6:01 PM CST
By Reilly Capps
An earthquake shook southwest Colorado yesterday afternoon, sending some shockwaves through local residents but causing no damage.
It occurred at 12:38 p.m. and registered 3.3 on the Richter scale.
The United States Geological Service said it was centered about 20 miles north-northwest of Telluride at about 3.1 miles below ground.
The USGS placed the epicenter in the Log Hill Village area.
Ron Semrod lives between Placerville and the Blue Jay restaurant in the Applebaugh Subdivision. Yesterday afternoon he heard a sound rippling up the valley and then back down, "like thunder when it rips across the sky."
He felt his house shake. At first he thought something big had fallen against the house. But, he said, "If something fell, it was the size of a truck."
What he felt, it turned out, was the biggest earthquake to hit Colorado in some time.
"I could see the house shake. It looked like it moved," Semrod said. "It's the strongest I've ever felt."
The USGS said the quake could be felt in Ridgway, Montrose, Placerville, Telluride and other areas.
What exactly you felt yesterday afternoon seemed to depend both on where you were and also how in-tune you are to tremors.
Inside the Telluride Daily Planet's offices, production manager Nancy Matthews, who lived in Southern California for 20 years, distinctly noticed a "serious bump." But a native Coloradan at a desk near her, unaccustomed to swaying floors, didn't register a thing.
The center was 25 miles southwest of Montrose, but the staff at the Montrose Daily Press said the earth stood still.
In Ridgway, even closer to the center, Donnis Parrie and the crew at the True Grit Caf/ never felt the ground move.
"Nothing shaking here," Parrie said.
Colorado is generally a geologically calm area, free of raucous seismic activity.
The largest earthquake in Colorado's history was a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that hit in 1882, said John Bellini, geophysicist at the United States Geological Survey in Golden.
"They're not common in Colorado," Bellini said. "But we do get them from time to time."
The Rocky Mountains are laced with small seismic faults, many of which haven't even been mapped, Bellini said. There's no telling which fault caused yesterday's quake.
"There is a fault there, but as far as knowing which fault it is, there's no way," he said.
Earthquakes of this magnitude happen three or four times a year in Colorado, Bellini said.
On Sept. 9, a 3.6 magnitude earthquake hit the south-central part of the state.
A 3.3 magnitude earthquake isn't big enough to cause any real damage, Bellini said.
"Really you need about a 4.5 to do any damage," said Bellini. "Then you start to see things get knocked off shelves and things."
But it was plenty to put a scare into Ron Semrod.
"It was spooky," he said. "I wondered if I was gonna fall into a hole."
And it was enough tectonic shifting for Semrod for a while.
"I think a 3 is about as much as I wanna feel," Semrod said. "I can't imagine a 7."
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Strong earthquake hits northern Japan
Tokyo, November 22, 2006
A strong quake, with a magnitude of 5.5 on the Richter scale, jolted northern Japan on Wednesday, near an area that was recently hit by tsunamis, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The quake happened at 8:15 pm off the eastern shore of Nemuro city of Hokkaido prefecture, 1,000 kilometres north of Tokyo, the agency said.
The quake, which happened around islands claimed by both Japan and Russia, was 100 kilometres deep, the agency said.
There were no immediate reports of damage and no concerns about a tsunami, the agency said.
The Nemuro area experienced minor tsunamis last week after one of the biggest earthquakes in recent times hit near the northeastern Russian-ruled Kuril islands.
Japan lies at the junction of four tectonic plates and endures about 20 per cent of the world's most powerful earthquakes, which frequently jolt Tokyo and other major cities.
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Breaking the rainfall record with a bang!
Story Updated: Nov 21, 2006 at 6:28 PM PSTBy Scott Sistek
Wow, Mother Nature likes to set records with a bang!
This is now the wettest month in Sea-Tac Airport's history, and Mother Nature celebrated with a brilliant light show.
A very strong thunderstorm rolled through the Puget Sound area Tuesday afternoon, bringing heavy rain, hail, and vivid lightning that fried trees and power poles, and struck a Mill Creek man just as he was getting out of his truck.
Our tower camera atop Columbia Center captured this brilliant multi-faceted lightning flash that appears to strike the Space Needle, the Washington Mutual tower, as well as several other buildings in the Downtown Seattle area. (View a larger version of the image)
One Mill Creek man is lucky to be alive after a surviving a brush with lightning. It happened just as he was arriving home. Al Fitz had just driven through the thunderstorm and was getting home after picking up his daughter. He never made it inside.
Lightning hit a tall evergreen next to his house and spiraled down the trunk. It left a 40-foot burn streak down the side of the tree.
The lightning then shot under ground just as Fitz hopped out of his truck. When the electricity reached him, he was thrown unconscious right out of his driveway.
"My daughter was still in the truck and I saw a flash and was thrown about 7 feet from the truck," Fitz said. "I woke up and saw my daughter still in the truck and got her out of there and ran over to my neighbors house."
Fitz was taken to the hospital by ambulance. A fire crew actually saw the lightning strike from several miles away before getting the 911 call from his neighbor.
Before leaving for the hospital, Fitz said he felt scared, shaky and still in shock. Fortunately, he is expected to make a full recovery.
We're also told that flash hit a transformer in the Magnolia area, setting the pole on fire. Debris from the transformer explosion broke a window in a building under construction. Two other windows nearby were also knocked out.
Lightning also hit several other power poles around the Seattle area, causing localized power outages.
The storm hit the Kitsap Peninsula first, then moved into the Seattle and Everett area. It was moving toward the east/northeast into northeastern King and southern Snohomish County. We had reports of lightning and hail in Port Orchard, and hail big enough to cover the ground in Edmonds.
Somehow, this particular storm mostly missed Sea-Tac Airport though, which got a little rain, but not enough to measure. So this particular storm didn't break our much-anticipated record for wettest month ever in Seattle since records have been kept at the airport. But following showers Tuesday night were enough to finally push us over the top.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Seattle was at 12.94" of rain for the month of November, breaking the all-time record of 12.92" set in January of 1953.
(It should be said that Seattle has recorded a month of 15.33" of rain in December 1933. That was back when records were kept at the Downtown Federal Building. The official reporting station was since moved to Sea-Tac Airport and observations are no longer kept at the federal building, so it's apples and oranges to link the two together.)
Unofficially, we've counted as many as 10 storms that have blown through the area, although defining, say, what counts as one storm and what might count as two storms or parts of the same storm, is somewhat arbitrary.
Nonetheless, Seattleites soldier on. It was nice to see that despite the seemingly never-ending rain, all but one person walking around the Seattle Center today still wasn't carrying an umbrella.
So far, it seems Seattle is going to be the only city that is a shoe-in to break its official all-time monthly record. (Tacoma might set an unofficial record. More on that below).
The way most of the storms have come ashore this month, the largest plumes of moisture have been focused from Seattle southward. Forks isn't too far above normal for the month and doesn't even rate in the Top 20 wettest months yet. Bellingham is also quite a ways away.
Here's what we have so far as of 6 p.m. Tuesday:
This month: 12.94" (1st place)
Record: 12.92" (January 1953)
This month: 16.32" (2nd place)
Record: 19.84" (January 1953)
This month: 16.17" (not even Top 20)
Record: 29.14 (November 1983)
This month: 6.89" (nowhere close to record)
Record: 11.60" (November 1990)
This month: 17.68" (5th place)
Record: 23.46" (January 2006)
For these cities below, we're not quite comparing apples to apples, because their current official measuring station either hasn't been around long enough to get a good historical context, or doesn't report their totals daily to know where they are this month.
So we'll compare their current observation with their nearest historical observation point. (In other words, these wouldn't be official records, but more of a "general idea" of how wet it's been)
This month (Tacoma Narrows Airport): 15.23"
Highest previous total found (Downtown, 1948-1981): 11.63" (January 2006)
Highest previous total at Narrows Airport (1999-2006): 12.36 (January 2006)
This month (Paine Field): 7.34"
Highest previous total found (Everett Jr. College) 9.77" (January 1971)
Highest previous total at Paine Field (1998-2006): 8.39" (November 1999)
This month (Shelton Airport): 23.15"
Highest previous total at city observation point (before 2000): 23.86 (missing one day of data; January 1953)
Highest previous total at Shelton Airport (since 1999): 23.49"
This month: 22.82" ** this is not including November 3rd. Unfortunately, Bremerton's data from that date is corrupted, and it was a really rainy day, so we're not sure how much rain they have this month. It's likely around 24".)
Highest previous total: 20.08" (January 1953)
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Japanese job-referral company renting out robot as temporary worker
Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 | 11:17 AM ET
Canadian Press: YURI KAGEYAMA
TOKYO (AP) - It can greet people, show DVDs and hand out balloons.
"Ubiko," a robot-on-wheels with a catlike face, is joining the crew of temporary workers that a Japanese job-referral company hopes will be used at stores, events and even weddings.
Next month, the 113 centimetre-tall robot will be selling mobile phones at a store, said Akiko Sakurai, a spokeswoman at the company, Ubiquitous Exchange.
Ubiko can be hired as a temporary worker for two hours for US$890.
"We see this as serious business. There are jobs that robots are better at," Sakurai said Wednesday. "People do develop an attachment with the robot, and it's lovable."
The US$255,000 Ubiko, which comes mounted with a camera and infared sensors, greets customers with a nasal electronic voice, shows DVDs with the projector in its head and hands out balloons and other goods with wireless remote-controllable metallic arms, she said.
Ubiko is short for "ubiquitous computing" and "ubiquitous company," but also sounds like a Japanese female name, which often end with "ko."
Tmsuk, the Japanese manufacturer that made the robot, sold three last month to a hospital, where they are working as full-time, rather than temporary, receptionists and guides, said company spokeswoman Rie Sudo.
One of the receptionist robots at the hospital has a touch-panel on its body, and visitors can use it to get directions for where they want to go, and has been programmed to greet visitors.
"Just give it electricity, and a robot can work for long hours, even doing repetitive work, and you don't have to worry about labour laws," Sudo said.
Japan's declining birth rate means that in coming years it could face a labour shortage, and some experts believe that robots could be part of the answer in resolving that problem.
Robots are very popular in Japan partly because of the popularity of "manga" comics and animation that portray the robot as a friend and aide to humans.
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Washington's "Three Fronts of Attack" on Venezuela
By: Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter - Green Left Weekly
Tuesday, Nov 21, 2006
Eva Golinger is a Venezuelan-American lawyer and author of The Chavez Code, which exposed US government involvement in the April 2002 military coup that briefly ousted left-wing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, before he was reinstated by a popular uprising. Golinger is a determined campaigner against Washington's attacks on revolutionary Venezuela. She has just published a new book, Bush vs Chavez: Washington's War on Venezuela, detailing the current US threats to Venezuela. She spoke to Green Left Weekly in late October.
Golinger told GLW that she analysed US intervention in Venezuela as having "three different fronts of attack". "One of them is the financial front, which the US has been pursuing over the last five years or so, by financing the opposition. This has increased over the past year, doubled in some instances. In fact, funding by USAID [the US Agency for International Development], through its Office of Transition Initiatives (set up here after the coup), is now up to US$7.5 million a year. But, more interestingly, the recipients of the funding have increased dramatically.
"Two years ago, there were about 63 organisations receiving funding and, today, according to the latest documents I've gotten under the US Freedom of Information Act, there are 132 groups. When we talk about financial power, it's not just the money; it's about the penetration of Venezuelan society by using money to get into the various sectors. They find groups that are allegedly human rights groups, groups that work in the education system and so on, but are really working for the opposition.
"Basically, the US is funding these organisations in civil society ... to obtain control in all different parts of the country. There are large concentrations of programs in Merida, for example, also in Tachira, Zulia, and then in the interior of the country - places like Barquisimeto, and the states of Lara, Monagas, and Anzoategui.
"The US government has censored the names of organisations, but they've left the descriptions of what the funding is for, and even the titles of the projects. So we know what they are proposing to do with the money; we just don't know if they're actually doing it. In some cases, they've made an error and left names in. I've actually taken them to court over all this. The case is in the final stages in the District Court in Washington DC. It has already gone through the entire legal process with appeals, their motion to dismiss, and our response, and now it's in the hands of the judge. It could be decided any time. I think we have a really strong chance of winning the case.
"The issue is over the fact that they used an exemption in the FOI legislation to censor the names of organisations. This exemption protects personal privacy rights. But we're using the legal argument that we're not trying to get individuals' names, but rather the names of organisations - which have no privacy rights. On top of that, we're talking about USAID - not the CIA, or the NSA [National Security Agency] - so what's so private? This is public money. We should win, but we're up against the government, so you never know.
"So, USAID money has increased, and the same with [money from] the National Endowment for Democracy. And it's not just the money. They're bringing down their best experts. For example, in the case of the [presidential] election campaign right now, they're bringing in political strategists, communications experts, to help them craft the entire [opposition] campaign. It's not just money, because in the case of Venezuela, which is different from Haiti, or Nicaragua, or even Bolivia, the opposition doesn't need the money. The dollars don't really compare, if you contrast it to the new Plan for Transition in Cuba, for example. The total there is about $80 million. In Venezuela, the total is about $9 million a year.
"It's the political contacts as well. For instance, on October 28, a right-wing think-tank, closely tied to the Republican Party, is hosting an event in Washington, DC, called 'Can Venezuela be saved?' And the only speaker is Julio Borges, who is the opposition vice-presidential candidate with [presidential candidate] Manuel Rosales. All sorts of things are involved with what I call the 'financial front'."
Golinger explained that the second major area of US intervention is the "diplomatic front", "basically the exercise of diplomatic terrorism by the US government toward Venezuela". "This includes sanctions against Venezuela for made-up things. There are three areas of sanctions right now. The US is claiming Venezuela is not collaborating on [curbing] drug trafficking, which is not true ... The US government just released a new report saying that they're sanctioning Venezuela again for not cooperating on the war on drugs.
"In some ways, it's just symbolic; just a statement from the White House saying that all the countries not collaborating on drugs will be sanctioned - with the exception of Venezuela. Venezuela is not cooperating with the war on drug trafficking, but funding will not be cut for activities 'promoting democracy' and the strengthening of 'democratic political parties'. They say, 'We'll cut the funding to help Venezuela counter drug trafficking, but we won't cut funding to keep the opposition alive' ...
"There's a chapter in my new book describing how the US Drug Enforcement Administration was discovered last year to be engaging in espionage tactics. I was given documents by the National Guard's counter-drugs division, which showed specific cases where DEA agents were either aiding drug trafficking, or were smuggling drugs and getting them into the US themselves. So, the idea is that, they are trying to make Venezuela look bad [on drugs], or they are engaged in drug trafficking themselves, which has been known for years.
"The second sanction is for trafficking in persons. But there is not a shred of evidence that Venezuela is not doing everything in its power to prevent trafficking in persons.
"The other area, which is the most important of all, is this new classification the US created in May of this year - and Venezuela is the only country on the list - which is for not cooperating with the 'war on terrorism'. So, there's the arms sanction. Venezuela is prohibited from buying arms that have been manufactured in the US or use US parts. That's the major sanction, because when asked what does that classification mean, and what other countries are on that list, the official response was, 'Venezuela is the only country on that list'. So the reporters asked, 'Well, what are the other countries that are prohibited from buying arms?' The spokesperson said, 'All the countries on the list are state sponsors of terrorism'.
"So, Venezuela is receiving the same sanctions as all the countries the US considers terrorist nations, yet the US hasn't classified Venezuela as a terrorist nation. It's been put on its own list - it's basically almost a 'terrorist nation'. They did that because they wouldn't be able to get away with classifying Venezuela as a terrorist nation within the world community - just yet. The US is working on that very hard though.
"This is all within what I call the diplomatic front. It includes the constant hostile declarations made by US officials toward Venezuela, which began in a very public and aggressive way in January 2005 with [US Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice, when she stated that 'Chavez is a negative force in the region'. This was regurgitated and recycled by the US media and other officials in the US government ...
"By the time we get to January 2006, [US Director of National Intelligence John] Negroponte and [then-defence secretary Donald] Rumsfeld are saying Chavez is another Hitler, and he's one of the most dangerous and destabilising forces in the region. And then we get to the arms sanctions and the special classification.
"Most recently, the US Congress has issued a report on border issues - it's the first time Venezuela has ever been mentioned in a report on border issues. It talks about Mexico, and then there's an entire page devoted to Venezuela, where it says - absurd as it sounds - that President Chavez is engaged in smuggling Islamic radicals from out of the Middle East to Margarita Island, where they are training them in Spanish and giving them ID documents and sending them to Mexico, where they are crossing the border to the US. So now Venezuela is a border issue too!
"They've brought Venezuela into all different areas. It's also an immigration issue. The Bush administration has demanded a list of all people of Arab descent living on Margarita Island. I've requested documents from all US government entities on the issue of Margarita Island. And every agency has refused to give us the documents. In fact, the latest one is the DIA [Defence Intelligence Agency]. They have 45 documents, which is a lot - each one could be 100 pages long. They've classified them as 'Top Secret'. There's a Lebanese community on Margarita Island that has been there for decades."
Golinger said the results of a US State Department survey sent to US ambassadors, asking about terrorism in their host nations, listed groups like Coordinadora Simon Bolivar, a community-organising group in Barrio Enero 23 in Caracas, as "terrorist groups".
Golinger said the survey results alleged a number of foreign groups considered terrorist by Washington were active in Venezuela, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army of Colombia (ELN), Palestinian group Hamas and "something related to al Qaeda, allegedly connected to Margarita Island".
Golinger explained, "There's a whole financial link alleged. It's not true. I've researched it. What's particularly amazing is that in the report ... and the Congress hearings over the summer on the terrorist issue, the question [was] raised: 'Is Venezuela a terrorist nation?' ... All of these terrorist rings are referred to. But, they're all citing a news article that was written in October 2003 in the US News and World Report ...
"A giant map of Venezuela [in the magazine] listed all the training camps throughout the country. All the people cited as sources were anonymous US officials. So, after the report came out, we all reacted. Everyone was writing letters to the editor, the Venezuelan embassy complained. And the head of the Southern Command of the Pentagon, which is in charge of this region, was interviewed by the Miami Herald. He completely refuted the whole article, saying there was nothing to show any terrorist links with Venezuela.
"Yet, that article has never been corrected. Now, three years later, even though it was refuted by the Pentagon, and none of the allegations have ever been justified, it is being used as the principal source of evidence on terrorism in Venezuela. It's incredible. They're all citing it, but that article is a complete fabrication."
She explained that Washington's third front of attack is the "military front". "This includes an increased military presence in the region. I've done a lot of investigating this year on the island of Curacao [in the Caribbean], close to Venezuela, where the US has a military base. I have a chapter devoted to it in my new book, because it is really alarming."
"[The US build-up] is with the support of the Dutch government, less so with the Antilles government", Golinger explained. She said there is a government-owned refinery in Curacao that has been rented to Venezuela since 1984. The contract is set to expire in 2019. Golinger said the refinery "produces most of the oil for Central America and the Caribbean. It's incredibly important and strategic."
Washington is trying to convince the Curacao government to break the contract and sell the refinery to a US company. "All the major infrastructure companies, water, gas, electricity, telephone, [in Curacao] are US-owned. And now they want the refinery. You can see Venezuela from Curacao ... You could launch a missile attack from Curacao, easily."
"So, there's Curacao, and then there's Colombia", Golinger told GLW. "There's a major build-up of military bases there. While we are not certain of the exact number of US troops in Colombia, we do know from official documents that the sum total of US forces in the Latin American region is 40,000 troops ... That's a huge number. It's enough to invade any Latin American country.
"The US conducts military exercises regularly. I went to Curacao to check out some of the warships involved. It's pretty freaky ... that's all intended to intimidate. They haven't done that since the end of the Cold War.
"Another part of the military front are the psychological operations. It's a media war, but it goes beyond use of the regular media and gets into all kinds of propaganda ... There's a doctrine of psychological warfare prepared by the Pentagon ...
"The use of Colombian paramilitaries by the US is also included in the military front. And the intervention of US Special Forces is part of that as well."
Golinger explained: "I actually interviewed a paramilitary here in Caracas. What he told me is that all the paramilitaries work jointly with the US and the Special Forces in Colombia. They're trained by them, in command-and-control operations.
The paramilitaries are the "actors". "For example, they're the ones sent over to try to assassinate Chavez. But the command-and-control is directed and controlled by the US Special Forces. The US forces come in, and are on the ground in Colombia, but they send the paramilitaries to do the dirty work, together with the Colombian army.
"The US has been building up a secret base near the border with Venezuela, next to Apure state. It's a small base, but the US is building airplane hangars for spy planes. It's basically a launching point for espionage operations and monitoring of Venezuela. They also have large amounts of high-ranking US Special Forces there. At every one of these bases ... there are always the high-ranking US Special Forces, the high-ranking Colombian forces, then the low-ranking Colombian forces, and finally the paramilitaries. It's like a chain of command, but at the head of that command are the US Special Forces."
Golinger said that there were attempts to push the FARC into Venezuela to provide an excuse for Colombian troops to enter the country. "They want to increasingly make that border area a combat zone - to declare it an uncontrollable international zone, so they need to bring in international forces to control it. This would include all of that area, from Apure to Zulia."
In her new book there is a chapter on Plan Balboa, a 2001 military exercise underwritten by the US that is "basically the invasion plan for Venezuela". "What they do is come in from Colombia, Panama and from bases in Curacao. What they do on their map is take over Zulia and the border area and declare it an international zone ...
"In the case of Venezuela, Plan Balboa is the virtual, trial stage of invading the country, and then over the past five years they have been trying it out. The April 2002 coup was the first stage. The US had military forces here, and brought in submarines and other equipment, and their Black Hawk helicopters. How did it play out? It didn't work, and since then they have been preparing for the next stage. For example, the movement for Zulia to secede, or to become an autonomous state, is related to all that."
Right now, most of Venezuela's developed oil industry is located in Zulia and Falcon. "So, the idea is to expand Plan Colombia into that region, and the border area that requires international forces, and, at the same time, move for secession of Zulia. Eventually, they would just divide the country and take the oil wealth. And from there they would deal with the rest of the country."
GLW asked Golinger about Washington's ability to stage a military intervention while it was bogged down in Iraq. She explained that, on top of the 40,000 US troops stationed in Latin America, "the recent military exercises in the Caribbean showed their strength ... right in the area near Venezuela, they had about eight major warships, one of which was the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, with 85 combat planes and 6500 troops on board. In all, they had about 10,000 troops. That's a total of 50,000 [soldiers] in the region. Every single ship had Tomahawk missiles and so on, and they hung out off [Venezuela's coast] for two-and-a-half months ...
"The US could come in and take out the country. Venezuela has built up its armed forces recently, but it doesn't have the capacity to stop the attack. They could take us out with a bombing campaign, just like they did in Iraq.
"Increasingly, we're getting prepared ... But the [military] reserves are not sufficiently trained yet. And even with the troops, their weaponry is not nearly as sophisticated as the US's ... However, it's like what Cuba has shown with their resistance and their preparation of the people. They're so ready, that if the US were to go in there and invade, they would have to massacre millions and millions of people [to conquer the country]. So, Venezuela is trying to do the same kind of thing; similar, but in a Venezuelan way. 'You won't be able to just take us out, you'll have to kill everybody' ...
"More than having an invasion, they're going to try and assassinate President Chavez. And that's where the paramilitaries come in, because that's what their mission is. The paramilitary leader I spoke to told me that. They're already here. There are more than 3000 in the region of Caracas alone."
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US Blocks Cuban Heart Patients
Havana, Nov 22 (Prensa Latina)
Cuba works exceedingly hard to supply the drug prostanglandin to patients with congenital heart diseases, due to obstacles for its purchase imposed by US blockade.
This was denounced during the 7th National Workshop on Heart Rehabilitation and the 2nd Regional Rehabilitation Workshop in Cuba, taking place until November 24 in this capital.
Prostanglandin ensures survival of patients waiting for emergency surgery, and although US companies produce it, the Washington siege on the island obliges its purchase in distant markets and at a high price.
This endangers the lives of children and obliges the Cuban government to purchase the product at triple the original price.
Doctor Eduardo Agramonte, chief of the Cardiology Department at a Camaguey pediatric hospital, said catheters used to dilate valves and close congenital faults are also affected by the US legislation.
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Telesur Correspondent Arrested by Colombia Upon his Return from Venezuela
Tuesday, Nov 21, 2006By: Steven Mather - Venezuelanalysis.com
Caracas , November 21, 2006 (venezuelanalysis.com)- Telesur journalist Fredy Muñoz Altamiranda was detained Sunday by Colombian security forces on charges of "rebellion and terrorism." Muñoz was detained by the Colombian Administrative Department of Security (DAS) as he returned to Colombia, where he is a Telesur correspondent, from a visit to Venezuela.
DAS justified the arrest and detention as follows, "The District Attorney's office saw merit in hearing [Muñoz] relation to a three year investigation forwarded to it by detectives of the DAS for terrorist attacks that occurred in 2002 in Barranquilla and Cartagena." No evidence was presented in support of the claim.
Telesur vigorously defended Muñoz. Its president Andrés Izarra said that this was an attack on the credibility of Telesur and of Venezuela. "By chance, the most aggressive accusations and most harsh attacks that we have experienced at Telesur come from Colombia. At this point we don't discount the detention of Fredy Muñoz, which came so surprisingly, could be linked to a dark source," said Izarra.
Telesur has often had difficulties with the Colombian government. In 2005 Telesur broadcast a report on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which have been waging a 40-year guerrilla battle against the Colombian government. Both Colombian president Álvaro Uribe and the US government expressed their discomfort at the broadcasts.
Fredy Muñoz himself has rejected the charges and denounced his arrest as an attack on press freedom. In a message released from custody he said, "Colleagues and friends, from this physical enclosure I send my message of thanks to you all, for continuing to gamble life and liberty on the this necessary business."
Muñoz also said that for the over 12 years he has been working as a journalist, he always "held in the center the peaceful solution to our differences." He arrest, he said, is due to the fact that "paramilitarism continues to coerce and intimidate anyone who pronounces themselves against it."
Telesur was created by the Venezuelan government to offer an alternative and progressive perspective from what it considered the North American slant on the Latin American news offered by broadcasters such as CNN in Spanish. The Latin American channel was launched in partnership between the governments of Venezuela (51%), Cuba (20%), Argentina (19%), and Uruguay (10%).
However, even organisations that have been critical of Venezuela joined in the condemnation yesterday. Reporters Without Borders has said that the arrest of Muñoz is a "simple case of misuse of power. If it turns out that it was indeed linked to the broadcast a year ago on Telesur of interviews with the guerrilla, then the Colombian government has made itself guilty of a press freedom violation. How can a journalist, interviewing an alleged terrorist become a terrorist in turn? If this is the argument, it is absurd and dangerous. Fredy Muñoz must be released."
Izarra pointed out that there is reason to be concerned for Muñoz's safety. Izarra cited an incident in which the same Barranquilla prosecutor's office arrested Alfredo Correa, an academic from the Simon Bolivar University, who was accused of being an "ideologue" for the FARC. It took one month to clear him of all charges and shortly after he was released, he was assassinated, presumably by paramilitary soldiers.
Izarra further commented that it was odd that Muñoz was allowed to leave for Venezuela after the arrest warrant for issued for him on November 10 and was arrested only upon his return to Colombia.
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Civil war in Nepal ends
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-22 00:29:01By Prithvi Shrestha, Zhang Jianhua
KATHMANDU, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Nepal has entered a new era of peace and development following the Nepali government and the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (formerly known as guerrilla) signed a comprehensive peace accord ending 11-year-long civil war formally.
After signing the agreement in the presence of a large number of journalists, diplomats and intellectuals, both Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and CPN chairman Prachanda expressed their commitment to lead the country toward the path of development by ensuring institutionalization of democracy and people's rights through peaceful and partnership approach.
Most importantly, the agreement has ended decade-long armed conflict and transformed the temporary cease-fire into permanent one. The agreement has also made clear that it is punishable to keep weapons without license or use them directly and indirectly to create fear among people.
The person, who forces somebody to do something, abducts and tortures people will be punished, according to the agreement.
Both sides have expressed their commitment to international human rights conventions and humanitarian laws, freedom of expression, religious freedom and people's right to live. It is the joint accord of peace, cease-fire and human rights.
After signing the agreement, Prime Minister Koirala said that Nepali people have set an example for the world of solving conflicts.
"Now my only wish is to hold election to constituent assembly successfully for democratic restructuring of the state," he added.
Likewise, Prachanda also said that the day when the peace accord was signed was an end to long-standing feudalism and the beginning of a new era of democratic and progressive Nepal.
Interviewed by Xinhua, people from various walks of life said they believed that the nation entered the agenda of peace after the signing of the agreement.
They also emphasized full implementation of commitments made in the agreement.
"The main challenge before the political leaders now is to implement the agreement earnestly," said Narayan Wagle, editor of Kantipur, a leading vernacular daily here.
Daman Nath Dhungana, one of the former mediators in the earlier talks between the government and the CPN, said that the political parties and the government must prove they are dedicated to the implementation of the agreement.
Human rights activist Sudeep Pathak said he was more confident with the latest agreement as both the Seven-Party Alliance and the CPN would soon be the part of the state.
According to the agreement signed on Nov. 8, they would form an interim legislature by Nov. 26 and an interim government by Dec. 1,in which representatives from both the ruling Seven-Party Alliance and the CPN would participate.
Chandi Raj Dhakal, president of the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the apex body of Nepali business community, said that they believe no great disturbances in the business activities will occur in the days to come.
The government and the CPN, however, have failed to publish an interim constitution on Tuesday before the deadline due to the delay in signing the peace accord. So, some local analysts said, it is likely that the work on the interim constitution, interim legislature and interim government would not be accomplished before the deadline.
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Puritans With Dirty Minds
Where Does Christian Right Stand after US Mid-Term Elections?
Washington, Nov 21 (Prensa Latina)
Two weeks ago some very frustrated conservative Christians thought that mid-term election results turned against them, says Martin E. Marty, one of the most important commentators on religion in the past half century.
Marty recommends watching the language when evaluating the situation. The Christian Right, he says, speaks for "a minority of evangelical, fundamentalist and Pentecostal Protestantism" which includes some Roman Catholics, and warns that this minority has grown since 1981, when the Encyclopedia Britannica published his article characterizing this religious sector.
With regard to the recent US election, Marty thinks it was neither a seismic or glacial change.
Columnist Andrew Greeley and Michael Hout, in their important little book The Truth About Conservative Christians (University of Chicago Press), says Marty, provide ample sociological data to show that class, region, party, and self-interest also go into the mix of "evangelical" voting patterns, and only a minority of evangelicals is hard-Right.
Reviewing the 2004 elections, they wrote that religion remained the story "because it suits both the interests that want to further the influence of their brand of religion ... and those who want to raise money to stop them." Each spooks out the other, most media, as well as many of us in the public.
The 2006 election was a partial de-spooker. Many in the Christian Right showed their frustration before, during, and after the election, feeling that their candidates and party did not deliver.
On Greeley lines, experts can read more declarations of independence from the Christian Right by many evangelicals, especially as they now put energies into other issues that they find religiously important (e.g., the environment, immigration policies, etc.).
According to Marty, the Christian Right took shape in the 1980s with the motives of the "politics of resentment," but after the Reagan administration, they found it easy to gain power, so they moved to the "politics of will-to-power," still voicing resentment. Many sounded as if they should and maybe could "win it all" and "run the show."
But as mid-term elections showed, no matter what force is on top, either Republicans or Democrats, there are always strains of the Christian Right that remain in power.
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Seinfeld actor lets fly with racist tirade
November 22, 2006
- 2-minute attack on black hecklers caught on film
- Comic apologises and says he lost his temper
The comic actor Michael Richards, better known as Cosmo Kramer in the long-running TV show Seinfeld, has apologised for a racist outburst that was captured on film and broadcast across the US.
Richards, 57, took exception when some black audience members talked during his act at a Los Angeles comedy club on Friday. In the recording, Richards says from the stage: "Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a fucking fork up your ass."
He then proceeds to insult one man with a succession of racial epithets. "Throw his ass out. He's a nigger! He's a nigger! He's a nigger! A nigger, look, there's a nigger!" Richards says.
In a television appearance on Monday night, after news of the tirade broke, Richards apologised, telling host David Letterman - who was interviewing Seinfeld star Jerry Seinfeld - that he was not a racist but had lost his temper.
"I was at a comedy club trying to do my act, and I got heckled and I took it badly and went into a rage," Richards said. "For me to be in a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry. I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this."
Richards went on to say that his performance technique may be responsible for the comments.
"You know, I'm a performer," he said. "I push the envelope; I work in a very uncontrolled manner on stage. I do a lot of free association, it's spontaneous, I go into character."
Throughout the tirade, which lasted for two minutes, the audience became confused, uncertain whether the extreme language was part of Richards' act. Some laughed at the comments but as the attacks from the stage continued, there were gasps and some voices could be heard expressing disbelief.
The target of Richards' comments shouted back at Richards several times, telling him that the insults were uncalled for. "That's un-fucking called for," one man said. "It ain't necessary."
Another man said: "It's not funny. That's why you're a reject, never had no shows, never had no movies. Seinfeld, that's it."
The response seemed to drive Richards to further express his anger. Several members of the audience left their seats as Richards continued his rant before himself leaving the stage. The following night, he returned to the club to perform his act.
Following the publicity given to the incident, club owner Jamie Masada said that Richards would not perform again at the Hollywood club. "The Laugh Factory is a comedy club, not a forum for personal attacks," he said.
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'Robin Hood' giveaway sparks New York stampede
Just who were the band of merry men dressed in Lincoln green who nearly caused a riot in New York's Washington Square Park - posing as Robin Hood and his gang and handing out money to passers-by? The three men who appeared with handfuls of money said they were from Sheffield and were on a vital mission to educate the world about politeness.
"What you are about to see will amaze you. We are mad Englishmen," one of the trio yelled through a megaphone as people stopped to stare.
The first person approached by the men declined the offer of a $5 bill. But when they began throwing small denomination notes into the air people pulled and pushed each other in their attempts to gather up the cash.
One of the men, more than 6ft 6in, dressed as Little John and going by the name of Daniel, told the New York Post: "There's a real lack of courtesy in the world. The world would be a better place if people were more courteous, but the English are very sceptical, so we decided to come to New York." Another, Oliver, added: "I want people to have a little more common courtesy towards their fellow human beings. We hope this encourages people to give something back. It feels good to give."
It is estimated that the men gave away around $4,000 (£2,100) on Sunday afternoon before they headed off in a taxi, refusing to divulge their full identities.
Despite the mêlée no one was seriously hurt, apart from bumps and bruises. "There were people pushing and people shoving," Sally Caraballo, one bystander, told the newspaper. "I got a nasty little scrape and my butt hurts from getting pushed down."
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Right in disarray in face of Royal steamroller
PARIS, Nov 21, 2006 (AFP)
France's ruling centre-right threatened to break into rival camps Tuesday, as internal bickering overshadowed attempts by presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy to mount a counter-attack against the newly nominated socialist candidate Ségolène Royal.
With Sarkozy anxious to seize back the initiative following Royal's sweeping primary victory last week, he was instead fighting a rearguard action against supporters of President Jacques Chirac who accuse him of steamrolling dissent in order to block rival candidates.
Managers at the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) desperately sought to patch up the rift by arranging talks between the party chief and his two main antagonists, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, but attempts to fix a meeting Wednesday came to nothing.
Hostile from the start to the UMP leader's presidential ambitions, the so-called 'Chiraciens' want to keep alive the chance of an alternative centre-right contender at April's election, and accuse Sarkozy, 51, of turning the party into his personal electoral machine.
Angry Sarkozistes retorted Tuesday that the Gaullist old guard is destroying the centre-right's only serious chance of victory against a resurgent Socialist Party (PS).
"Sarkozy is a machine for winning ... So it is unsettling to see the person who is our best hope at the presidentials being gratuitously attacked on the basis of personal whims and interests," said UMP deputy Eric Woerth.
"When we have a candidate who has it in him to win the election, it is unacceptable for a minority in the party to have fun helping him lose," said another, Claude Goasguen.
But Hervé Mariton, who is close to Villepin, said that free discussion should not be subordinated to the interests of the party.
"The UMP must have the humility and intelligence to understand that it cannot alone fill the space need for debate in advance of the election," he said in a clear swipe at Sarkozy.
Tensions have burst to the fore since Royal, 53, beat two more experienced contenders in what the PS trumpeted as a triumph for democratic debate, and amid growing pressure for the UMP to bring forward its own nomination process in order to get back in the headlines.
On Thursday Alliot-Marie was booed by Sarkozy supporters during a meeting of UMP officials, and on Monday a 'Chiracien' government minister - François Goulard - openly accused Sarkozy of "refusing to allow political debate" and being "incapable of allowing ideas that are different from his own."
Sarkozy, who is also interior minister, is almost certain of election by the UMP's 293,000 members before a party congress on January 14. According to a new IPSOS poll, 77 percent of UMP supporters back his candidacy, compared to 17 percent for Alliot-Marie, 60, and six percent for Villepin, 53.
Chirac, 73, has also refused to rule out running for a third term, despite polls that show that more than 75 percent of the public are opposed.
But in spite of the apparent hopelessness of their own ambitions, the trio appear bent on keeping their options open and thwarting Sarkozy's bid to emerge as sole champion of the right.
Animosities have long beset France's political right, and in 1995 Chirac himself had to fight off a rival presidential bid from then prime minister Edouard Balladur - who was backed by a young Sarkozy.
But behind today's personal ill-will also lie deep political differences, analysts said, with 'Chiraciens' seeing Sarkozy as a pro-American free marketeer who will betray the Gaullist legacy and risks alienating much of the country with his tough rhetoric on law and order.
Traditional Gaullists are also deeply suspicious of political parties and regard the presidential election - in the words of Villepin - as an "encounter between the people and a man."
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Sarkozy on the defensive after Royal nomination
PARIS, Nov 21, 2006 (AFP)
France's interior minister and presidential frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy, thrown onto the defensive by the sweeping nomination victory of the socialist Ségolène Royal, was to champion a hotly-contested youth crime bill before parliament on Tuesday.
Cast as a response to the problem of lawlessness in the deprived French suburbs hit by rioting last year, the bill is expected to be one of Sarkozy's last major initiatives before he stands down to focus on the presidential race.
Law and order is shaping up as a pivotal issue in next April's presidential election, with police chiefs warning the conditions that caused the 2005 riots in the country's high-immigration suburbs still remain firmly in place.
But left-wing politicians and media have attacked the bill - which notably brings in tougher penalties for young repeat offenders and lowers the minimum age of imprisonment - as "dangerous" and overly repressive.
Critics say the legislation, which introduces offences such as "ambushing law enforcement officers" in response to a recent spate of violence in the suburbs, illustrates the failure of Sarkozy's record on law-and-order.
Chirac leading plot to block Sarkozy succession
Sarkozy shouldn't count his chickens yet: Villepin
Socialists' Royal opens throttle on campaign
Within the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the crime prevention bill - already approved by the Senate and up for debate in the National Assembly until November 29 - has also highlighted mounting strains.
Allies of President Jacques Chirac's party have challenged several of its provisions, forcing Sarkozy to water them down.
Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie - a powerful Chirac ally - clashed publicly with Sarkozy over the bill last week, accusing him of "treating all young people as potential delinquents".
And Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin - another close Chirac ally - took a swipe at his law-and-order policies at the weekend by warning the party against "fishing for (far-right) National Front votes".
Behind the split over the bill lies the broader question of the centre-right presidential nomination - almost certain to be clinched by Sarkozy who enjoys backing from three quarters of UMP sympathisers.
The UMP's political bureau will meet Wednesday to set a deadline for registering bids for the nomination - to be decided in a vote by the party's 293,000 members - with Sarkozy expected to declare his own candidacy early next month.
But Sarkozy has come under attack from several fronts in recent days - accused of stifling alternative visions within the UMP and blocking other candidates for the presidential race.
Alliot-Marie wrote to him on Monday demanding there be a "free and constructive debate" during the selection process.
At the weekend, Villepin said Sarkozy's nomination was not inevitable - although he took a more conciliatory line on Tuesday, describing the interior minister as an "asset" in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper.
Sarkozy, Villepin and Alliot-Marie were to meet Wednesday to try to defuse tensions ahead of the meeting, according to the defence minister's office.
Meanwhile in the opposition ranks, Socialist Party (PS) leaders have been eager to contrast the UMP's discomfiture to their own new sense of purpose following Royal's nomination on Thursday.
In a television interview Monday, Royal took a swipe at the divisions in the ruling party when asked which centre-right candidate she would rather face.
"That is up to them to decide" she replied, before adding: "I can only hope the chosen candidate has as much legitimacy" as that produced by the socialist nomination battle.
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Lights flicker for grand French Suez-GDF energy plan
PARIS, Nov 22, 2006 (AFP)
The plan to create a French Suez-GDF energy giant was clouded Wednesday in doubts that could exacerbate factional strains within the government only months before a presidential election.
A court decision overnight in favour of objections by trade unions in state-owned Gaz de France delayed approval for the plan by the GDF board and made a merger this year unlikely.
Suez shareholders are also threatening to turn against the financial arrangements.
Government spokesman Jean-François Copé said after a weekly meeting of ministers had discussed the delay: "The government expects GDF and its president Jean-François Cirelli to submit without delay to their governance bodies the timetable and the methods by which they intend to finalise this merger."
In doing so they had to pay close attention to the interests of GDF customers, clients, employees and shareholders.
The court found that GDF had not provided unions with adequate information about the effects of the merger on staff, as required by statute.
Economy and Finance Minister Thierry Breton also said tersely on television: "It is up to the companies - and no-one else - to carry out their projects."
The Suez board also said it was awaiting proposals from GDF. The chief executives of the two energy groups have said they still want to push the deal through. But it is now at risk of being caught up in the March corporate results period.
The delay means that the project, which is rejected by the left-wing opposition, could become entangled in the presidential election.
The controversy, involving marathon legislation to privatise GDF, would become a particularly hot issue if the plan collapses and Suez becomes a target for takeover, as some analysts suggest.
A few months ago, even supporters of the government in the National Assembly (parliament), reticent about the merits of the plan and worried about their pre-election popularity, were threatening not to approve enabling legislation.
Eventually the leader of the governing UMP party and its likely candidate for the presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy, put aside his own reticence to pull party unity behind the plan.
In doing so he compromised with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and with President Jacques Chirac, with whom he has difficult relations.
The heat of electioneering has increased sharply with the selection last week of Ségolène Royal as the Socialist candidate.
A prominent Socialist Jean-Marc Ayrault said: "The future of GDF is not yet determined."
A member of the pro-Sarkozy faction among government supporters, Dominique Paille, said: "It is a thorn in the foot of the UMP candidate (Sarkozy) and this could turn out to be a big bonus for the left."
Saying that there were "too many obstacles", he forecast: "There will not be a merger."
Cope said that the court decision would set the plan back by only weeks or months, insisting that the alliance was vital for the nation's "energy independence".
The proposal for Suez to absorb GDF emerged after Italian energy group Enel had shown signs of preparing a hostile bid for privately-owned Suez. The plan was watched coolly by European Union authorities that want market forces rather than national ambitions to shape consolidation of the European energy sector.
Suez shareholders warn they might reject the plan unless the dividend is increased to reflect the current higher value of equity in the company, but Breton has implied that he might drop the plan if they demand too much.
Opponent of the plan argue that it involves the privatisation of GDF, could accelerate increases in gas prices and will undermine employment conditions.
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Big Pharma Targets Poor Children Of Afghanistan With Dangerous Vaccines
KABUL, 21 November - Afghanistan has begun its latest drive to vaccinate millions of children under five against the crippling polio virus, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) officials have said.
The three-day campaign is the fifth in Afghanistan this year and was launched Sunday by the Afghan Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), with the support of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International and other partners.
Afghanistan, one of just four countries in the world where polio is endemic, has seen the number of people suffering from the disease surge this year. There have been 29 confirmed polio cases in 2006, compared to only nine cases last year, according to the WHO in Kabul.
"This is a massive campaign and involves 34,000 volunteers administering drops of polio vaccine to 7.2 million children across the country," UNAMA spokesman Adrian Edwards said in Kabul.
Many new polio cases recorded this year have been in southern Afghanistan, which is experiencing a deadly phase of Taliban-led violence. Officials say the deteriorating security situation in the south, which has hampered polio immunisation drives, has been the leading cause of an increase in the disease in the impoverished country.
"One of the most important aims of the campaign is to curtail the polio virus in southern Afghanistan and minimise the risk of it spreading to other parts of the country," Dr Tahir Mir, medical officer for polio vaccination at the WHO, told IRIN.
During the September and August polio vaccination drives, about 75,000 children were missed out in the southern region and about 50,000 children were not immunised in the Karabagh, Nawa, and Gilan districts of southeastern province of Ghazni due to security problems, according to the WHO.
Unregulated travel to and from Pakistan, where polio still exists, difficulty in establishing health services, a lack of awareness and poor communication with community leaders were the main factors fuelling polio's spread in the impoverished Central Asian state, health officials said.
Polio is a highly infectious virus that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in hours. It can strike at any age, but mainly affects children under five. It enters the human body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. Besides Afghanistan, polio remains endemic in Nigeria, India and Pakistan.
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Chinese HIV cases jump nearly 30%
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 | 10:02 AM ET
The Associated Press
Two months before the end of 2006, China's reported number of HIV/AIDS cases already is nearly 30 per cent higher than for all of last year, with intravenous drug use identified as the biggest source of infection, the Health Ministry said Wednesday.
The increase in reported cases indicates that China is doing "more testing and more reporting and also that the epidemic continues to grow in many parts of the country," said Joel Rehnstrom, coordinator for the China office of UNAIDS, the United Nations AIDS organization.
After years of denying that AIDS was a problem, Chinese leaders have dramatically shifted gears in recent years, promising anonymous testing, free treatment for the poor and a ban on discrimination against people with the virus.
President Hu Jintao signalled the new approach by appearing on national television in late 2004 chatting and shaking hands with AIDS patients.
Rehnstrom said reported HIV cases have been steadily increasing at a rate of about 30 per cent annually since 1999, but the real number of HIV cases in China is likely four to five times the reported figure.
The UN said Tuesday in its annual report on the epidemic that an estimated 39.5 million people are now living with the AIDS virus worldwide as infection rates and deaths from the disease continue to mount.
The reported number of cases in China grew to 183,733 by Oct. 31 this year, up about 28 per cent from 144,089 at the end of last year, the Health Ministry said in a report posted on its website. Of the reported cases, 40,667 have developed into AIDS, it said.
Expand clean needle, methadone programs: UNAIDS
"Each new HIV infection is a tragedy," Rehnstrom said. "The government needs to focus its efforts on ... trying to stop the spread of HIV and trying to bring the spread of HIV under control as soon as possible by controlling HIV transmission among injecting drug users and sex workers."
He said government efforts to promote clean needles and methadone treatments were beginning to have an effect but that those programs needed to be expanded.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday that government health surveys show that only about 39 per cent of Chinese sex workers use condoms and about 51 per cent of drug addicts still share needles.
The report also quoted Hao Yang, deputy director of the Health Ministry's Bureau of Disease Control, as saying that the rising number of cases showed that "the danger of the disease spreading further remains great."
The ministry said in its report that 37 per cent of the cases reported this year were linked to drug use and 28 per cent were caused by unsafe sex.
About five per cent of the cases were caused by people selling blood illegally or receiving infected blood from hospitals.
Tainted blood source of China's outbreak
HIV gained a foothold in China largely because of unsanitary blood plasma buying schemes and tainted transfusions in hospitals. China has cracked down harshly on such schemes and declared last year that the problem of tainted blood supplies was under control though new cases still emerge sporadically, often in rural areas.
Transmission from mothers to babies was about one per cent, the ministry said. It did not say what caused the remaining infections.
Experts say China has hundreds of thousands of people infected with HIV who don't know it or choose not to report it. At the end of last year, China and the UN estimated there was a total of 650,000 HIV cases in the country, including those that were unreported.
The ministry said Wednesday there had been 4,060 AIDS deaths this year as of Oct. 31, bringing the total number of reported deaths in China from the disease to 12,464 since it was identified there in the mid-1990s.
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Patients received killer dose of unlicensed nerve toxin
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | 6:11 PM ET
Patients who came down with botulism poisoning after being injected in the face with an unlicensed cosmetic product received up to 40 times the estimated lethal dose for humans, a new study says.
The four patients were hospitalized in November 2004. Fortunately, they were given enough anti-toxin to save their lives. Botulism is a rare paralytic illness caused by the toxins of the spore-forming bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Because it can cause such serious problems as slurred speech, difficulty swallowing and paralysis, it must be treated early. In severe cases, the paralysis can restrict breathing, requiring a ventilator.
Medicinal uses of weakened forms of the toxin include smoothing facial wrinkles.
A nearly two-year investigation by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found the effects of the injections received by the four patients were long lasting, with one patient staying on a mechanical ventilator for 171 days.
All four are still feeling the effects today, Dr. Daniel Chertow of the CDC in Atlanta and his colleagues report in Wednesday's issue of the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).
The patients were given botulism toxin A that was clearly labelled for research purposes only.
Use only licensed products: authors
"Physicians and patients must be aware of the hazards associated with illegitimate use of unlicensed botulinum toxin products. Only licensed products should be used clinically," the study's authors wrote.
"Entities inappropriately marketing, selling, or using unlicensed botulinum toxin products should be sought and subjected to full criminal and civil penalties."
A doctor in Florida was sentenced to three years in jail for using an unapproved drug in relation to the cases of the four patients.
A 100-microgram vial of the toxin that was given to the patients had enough botulism in it to kill more than 14,000 people.
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