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June 8, 2003

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June 5, 2003

For more than sixty years, much of the blame for the December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor tragedy, has rested on the shoulder boards of Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. naval forces in the Pacific at the time of the attack. Kimmel was relieved of duty ten days after the attack; subsequently, the first investigation of the tragedy, conducted by the Roberts Commission, declared that Kimmel had been “derelict in his duty,” and “solely responsible for the success of the Japanese attack.”

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt released the findings of the Commission to the press, Admiral Kimmel became fixed in the public eye as the main culprit for the Pearl Harbor disaster. He received death threats, including one from a U.S. Congressman. Although the Roberts Commission was later determined to have been little more than a kangaroo court, the damage to Kimmel’s professional and personal reputation had already been done. He retired in 1942 at the reduced rank of Rear Admiral. [...]

Intelligence Withheld

Kimmel would not learn until several years after the attack on Pearl Harbor that he was not on distribution for the most significant intelligence information then possessed by the U.S. government. He did not know that in 1940 U.S. government cryptanalysts had managed to break Japanese diplomatic codes and ciphers, known as the “Purple” code. The product of the diplomatic and spy decrypts was labeled “Magic.” Magic enabled a select and limited number of government and military officials to “read” Tokyo’s instructions to its diplomats, often in advance of meetings with their American counterparts. Senior U.S. military officials were extremely concerned about the protection of this invaluable source and sought to limit its distribution to a select few.

As later reconstructed, the Magic products contained vital intelligence that should have alerted Washington-area consumers to the threat to Pearl Harbor. These messages included the so-called “bomb plot” message, and 68 spy messages about ships-in-harbor. [...]

Admiral Kimmel would later say that “knowledge of these intercepted Japanese dispatches would have radically changed the estimate of the situation made by me and my staff [and] afforded an opportunity to ambush the striking force as it ventured to Hawaii.” After the war, he would conclude, “The Pacific Fleet deserved a fighting chance.” It didn’t get that chance because of the failure of the Navy Department in Washington to supply Admiral Kimmel with critical intelligence.

Stupidity And Incompetence

Kimmel’s grandson rejects various theories offered to explain this stunning failure. [...]

Comment: Indeed. Thanks to What Really Happened, who have collected The McCollum Memo, which is the memo, that detailes an 8 step plan to provoke Japan into attacking the United States. President Roosevelt, over the course of 1941, implemented all 8 of the recommendations contained in the McCollum memo. Following the eighth provocation, Japan attacked. The public was told that it was a complete surprise, an "intelligence failure", and America entered World War Two. History repeating itself, anyone?

"What would have happened if millions of American and British people, struggling with coupons and lines at the gas stations, had learned that in 1942 Standard Oil of New Jersey [part of the Rockefeller empire] managers shipped the enemy's fuel through neutral Switzerland and that the enemy was shipping Allied fuel? Suppose the public had discovered that the Chase Bank in Nazi-occupied Paris after Pearl Harbor was doing millions of dollars' worth of business with the enemy with the full knowledge of the head office in Manhattan [the Rockefeller family among others?] Or that Ford trucks were being built for the German occupation troops in France with authorization from Dearborn, Michigan? Or that Colonel Sosthenes Behn, the head of the international American telephone conglomerate ITT, flew from New York to Madrid to Berne during the war to help improve Hitler's communications systems and improve the robot bombs that devastated London? Or that ITT built the FockeWulfs that dropped bombs on British and American troops? Or that crucial ball bearings were shipped to Nazi-associated customers in Latin America with the collusion of the vice-chairman of the U.S. War Production Board in partnership with Goering's cousin in Philadelphia when American forces were desperately short of them? Or that such arrangements were known about in Washington and either sanctioned or deliberately ignored?"
-- Charles Higham, researcher, about U.S.-Nazi collaboration during WWII

September 11: Did you know...?

Did you know . . .?

That George W. was given $50,000 to invest in his first oil company, Arbusto, from James R. Bath, the Texas business representative for Salem bin Laden, Osama's older brother? Did you know that Bush met Bath while they both served in the Texas Air National Guard, and that both were suspended from flying in August and September 1972 for "failure to accomplish annual medical examination?"[which would have required drug testing]

That George H.W. Bush and the bin Laden family shared investments in the Carlyle Group, a Washington private equity firm specializing in buyouts of military contractors?

That FBI agents were told to back off an investigation of members of the bin Laden family suspected of terrorist connections shortly after George W. Bush took power?

That CIA director George Tenet gave the following warning to National Security Adviser Condoleeze Rice: "It is highly likely that a significant Al-Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks." Rice later said that 911 was a complete surprise to everyone.

Did you know that in 1995 Philippine police uncovered a plot to blow up 11 jets over the Pacific, and another to hijack jets and fly them into the World Trace Center, CIA headquarters, the Sears Tower, the San Francisco Pyramid building and the White House?

That on July 5th, 2001, counterterrorism chief Richard Clark told the White House: "Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon."

That on September 10, 2001, San Francisco mayor Willie Brown was told by his security agents not to fly the following day?

That Attorney General Ashcroft was prevented from flying commercial airliners in July 2001 for security reasons?
That according to the NY Times, Washington Post and Newsweek, Pentagon officials told the FBI that "five of the alleged hijackers received training in the 1990s at secure US military installations"?

That a Library of Congress 1999 report stated: "Suicide bomber belonging to Al Qaeda's martyrdom battalion could crash land an aircraft packed with high explosives in to the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA or the White House"?

That on July 5th, 2001, Richard Clarke "summoned all the domestic security agencies--the Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard, Customs, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the FBI' and told them "of an impending attack. Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon"?
That according to Newsbytes, an online department of the Washington Post: "Us and Israeli intelligence agencies received warning signals at least 3 months ago that Middle Eastern terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft to use as weapons to attack important symbols of American and Israeli culture, according to a story in Germany's FAZ. The FAZ. . .said that the Echelon spy network was being used to collect information about the terrorist threats, and that UK intelligence services also had advance warning.. . .Within the American intelligence community, the warnings were taken seriously and surveillance intensified."

And did you know that the Times of India (Oct. 12, 2001) reported that the chief of Pakistan's intelligence agency Mahmud Ahmad wired $100,000 to 911 alleged hijacker Muhammed Atta a week before 911, and that Ahmad met with Senate intelligence chairman Bob Graham and House intelligence chairman and former CIA agent Porter Goss on the morning of September 11?

That the CIA had Mohammed Atta under surveillance while he lived in Frankfurt, Germany, and didn't tell the Germans about him? [German news magazine Focus]

That alleged Sept. 11 hijackers Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf Alhazmi were being followed by the CIA as far back as 2000 in Malaysia and were put on an INS watch list at the CIA's request in late August 2001?

That on August 23, 2001, the INS told the CIA that both men were already in the country?

That the CIA immediately asked the FBI to find al-Midhar and Alhazami?

That al-Midhar and Alhazami lived openly in San Diego for two years, that one was listed in the phone book, and that the other took out a bank account in his own name?

That al-Midhar and Alhazami's roommate was an FBI informant?

That the passenger lists from the four September 11 flights do not include the name of a single one of hijacker?
That none of the alleged 19 hijackers was a crack pilot, and that two of the doomed jets, Flight 175 (WTC south tower) and Flight 77 (Pentagon) showed flying skills that only a crack pilot would have?

That Bush halted FBI investigations into Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in early summer 2001, promoting lead counterterrorism official John O'Neill to quit in protest?

That according to "Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth," O'Neill says, "The main obstacles to investigate Islamic terrorism were US corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia in it"?

That a government agency, the Chantilly, Virginia-based National Reconnaissance Office, had scheduled a drill to take place the morning of September 11, 2001, in which a small corporate jet would crash into one of the four towers at the agency's headquarters building?

Did you know that seven of the alleged hijackers are still alive?

That the Bush regime has admitted that a plan to attack Afghanistan existed before September 11?

That the Patriot Act was drafted before 911?

That top US Army intelligence analyists think that Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad, is "ruthless and cunning," and has the capability to target US forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act?"

That the Anti Defamation League was convicted of running a massive spy ring on American citizens in California?

That five Israelis were arrested after laughing and celebrating while they filmed the WTC burning from Jersey City?

That these Israelis were identified by the FBI as being agents of Mossad, Israeli's secret police?

That these Israeli spies worked for Urban Moving Systems, whose Israeli owner fled immediately after September 11?

That a government official told Fox News reporter Carl Cameron that Washington classified the evidence linking arrested Israeli spies to September 11?

That the US deported these Israeli spies shortly after September 11?

Did you know . . .

That while not one of the titanium-covered, "indestructible" flight recorders were found after Twin Towers collapsed, Mohammed Atta's passport was found unscathed blocks from Ground Zero?

That shortly after September 11, a special charter plane flew 11 members of Osama bin Laden's family from Boston's Logan Airport to Saudi Arabia?

That the bin Ladens, who were major investors in the Carlyle Group along with George H.W. Bush, sold their stake in the firm right after September 11?

That the FBI was told to back off their investigations of the bin Ladens and the Saudi royals after W. Bush became president?

That Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law, Saudi Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, who has been a major benefactor of Al Qaeda, also had extensive business ties to George W. Bush dating back to the 1980's?

That Mahfouz helped bail out Bush's struggling oil company, Harken Energy, by arranging for Saudi billionaire Abdullah Bakhsh to buy 17% of Harken in 1987?

That despite multiple specific warnings of Al Qaeda hijacking jets and crashing them into the WTC, the White House, and the Pentagon, George Bush did nothing to bolster airport security or the defense of the nation's airspace?

That Osama bin Laden was once on the CIA payroll? [and still may be!]

That the CIA trained bin Laden and other Islamic fundamentalists to commit terrorist acts against the pro-Soviet Afghan government?

That the French magazine Le Figaro reported that bin Laden was visited by CIA agent Larry Mitchell while receiving kidney treatment in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in July 2001, and that bin Laden received lifesaving treatment from an American surgeon Dr. Callaway?

That the FBI knew the exact identities of the hijackers within 24 hours of the terrorist attacks?

That 7 of the 19 hijackers are still alive? That they were the victims of identity theft? [Telegraph of England]

That during the week before September 11, 4,744 put option contracts in United Airlines [bets by speculators that a stock will go down] were placed on The Chicago Board Options Exchange, versus 396 call options [bets that a stock will rise]?

That on September 10, 4,515 put options in American Airlines were purchased against only 748 call options?

That the investment firm used to buy most of these put options was Duetschebank, which until 1998 was headed by Buzzy Krongard, now executive director of the CIA?

That suspicious trading was also reported by The Chicago Board Options Exchange regarding Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, two of the biggest World Trade Center tenants? [Merrill Lynch: 3,053 puts bought between Sept. 6-10--252 the week before]

That the CIA and Mossad monitor stock trading in real time using sophisticated software called Promis?

That on September 10, 2001, Amr Elgindy, a stock speculator currently facing insider trading, market manipulation, extortion and obstruction of justice charges, ordered his broker to liquidate his children's trust account because he feared a sudden crash on Wall Street?

That in May 2001, Elgindy was arrested in San Diego along with two FBI agents who allegedly used their FBI connections to provide Elgindy information on companies' financial status?

That during pretrial motions the prosecutors hinted that Elgindy had prior information about September 11?
That in 1992 Elgindy's mother won $30,000 in arbitration after alleging that he made unauthorized trades on her account, and that he became an FBI informant in 1995?

That on September 10, 2001, according to Newsweek, a group of leading Pentagon officials suddenly cancelled their travel plans for the following day due to security concerns?

That on September 11-12, 2001, almost a month before the first anthrax attacks, White House personnel were given Cipro, the anthrax antiobiotic?

That hours after the attacks, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gave orders to prepare for war against Iraq, not Afghanistan? "Sweep up everything. Related or not."

That the think tank surrounding Bush--the Project for a New American Century--wrote a paper in 2000 stating, "the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event--like a new Pearl Harbor" ?  [emphasis added]

That Bush henchman Paul Wolfowitz drafted plans to invade Iraq to assure "access to vital raw material, primarily Persian Gulf oil"?

That Zbigniew Brzezinski, former President Carter's National Security Advisor, wrote in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, that "Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the cirumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat."  

Did you know that in 1962, the US Joint Chiefs signed off on a plan called Operation Northwood that would carry out terrorist acts, including the hijacking of civilian planes and the sinking of Cuban emigre boats, resulting in widespread loss of lives, and then blame this terrorism on Cuba in order to justify an invasion of that country? [James Bamford, "Body of Secrets"]

Where's The Outrage?

David Corn
The Nation

[...] Bush has been misleading the public about critical elements of his presidency, and yet there has been no outcry. Sure, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been screaming about Bush's lies, as have a few other liberal pundits ( moi , included). The Democrats have taken a stab at branding him a deceiver. For awhile, they pushed the mantra, he says one thing, and does another. But that never took off. Bush's approval ratings remain in the mid-60s, not astronomically high, but higher than he deserves.

He has gotten away with much. He sold his original tax cuts package with several whopping lies. He asserted it would effectively stimulate the economy. Yet the White House noted that in the first year it would create 400,000 jobs--and cost about $200 billion. That's $500,000 a job. (Why not just hand out money?) My favorite lie was Bush's claim that 92 million Americans on average would receive $1100 due to his tax cuts. This was a phony number. Most middle-income earners could expect to get a couple hundred dollars from Bush's tax cuts. The average was only higher because wealthy taxpayers would be pocketing large amounts of so-called "tax relief." It was as if Bush had said that if nine unemployed people and one person earning $1,000,000 a year live on the same street, the average household income for the block is $100,000. That "average" would be of little use to the nine individuals out of work. [...]

[A]s of this writing, Bush has paid no price for his Iraq deceptions. Two-thirds of the public, according to polls, approve of how he handled the war. The same amount believes he did not mislead the American public regarding WMD in Iraq; 31 percent says he did. But here's an interesting twist. In a USA Today /CNN poll, only 31 percent said they believe Bush's WMD information was accurate, and 31 percent said that Bush believed the information he presented was accurate though it was not. That means close to two-thirds believed Bush was peddling (sincerely or not) bad info about a most serious issue: to go to war or not. But that has not affected his overall standing in the polls.

Some Democrats have started sniping at Bush on this front, and a few Republicans have muttered the obligatory remarks about the need to resolve "troubling questions." The intelligence and armed services committees of the Senate and the House have announced they will examine the prewar intelligence on WMD and how the Bush administration used it. These inquiries could fizzle; they could become combustive. (Don't bet on the latter, especially with Republicans in control.) What happens will partly depend on how the legislators in charge suss out the public mood. They will be less likely to probe this matter deeply if they believe, rightly or not, that Bush is beloved. Of course, it will be easier for Bush to maintain his beloved status if he is not challenged on his WMD assertions. [...]

It is hard to resist reprising the GOP call of yesteryear, Where is the outrage? Just imagine how much shock and complaining there would be if we learned that American Idol had been rigged. But Bush and his comrades can use deceptive means to launch a war and to pass trillion-dollar tax cuts that bust the bank--and then skate away. The ice they are on is a little less smooth and thick than it was a week ago. But much of the public, it seems, is still rooting for Bush. My hunch is that after September 11, many Americans want to see their president--who is now truly their protector--succeed. To conclude that the guy at the helm in these insecure times is not to be trusted can be frightening. Bush is proving--so far--that it is even easier for a president to escape popular outrage when he lies about war and taxes than when he lies about sex.

Comment: It may be educational to read what some tell themselves, while indirectly participating in the corruption and death of the Bush regime. Is it because they can't bear to face truth, or are they are in on it for some personal gain? In an article written by Max Boot, Blair and Bush are not that stupid, "Not able to forgive George W. Bush and Tony Blair for being right, the naysayers are now emphasising what looks to be their strongest argument: the failure so far to find weapons of mass destruction. The European media is in a frenzy about the 'lies' that led to war.

"The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is already suggesting this may be 'the worst scandal in American political history.'

"Those who make this argument must think that the U.S. and British governments are not only deeply venal but also stupid. Their theory, essentially, is this: The president and prime minister deliberately lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to justify an invasion that they knew would show that no such weapons existed.

"It is indeed puzzling that U.S. forces haven't found more evidence of WMD, but this hardly shows that Bush and Blair lied. It does show how imperfect our intelligence about Iraq was, which actually makes the case for preventive war that much stronger."

What?! Hello??! This guy is obviously using some twisted logic here. Would logic not dictate that the evidence that Bush lied over the existence of WMD is more than enough reason to impeach him immediately. Check the link for more amusing assertions. Some of us are looking at the possible ways that the Bush Reich may make use of this "frenzy." A reader writes: "...about Iraq and the medias sudden turn around on Bush, I wonder if this is a deliberate act so the weapons can be found and Bush and Co. can turn [a]round and play victims and show their sadness and disapointment of the lack of trust from their fellow Americans. I mean if you want to invade another country, like Iran, maybe the best way to do it, is to have people who challenge it condemened into silence even before the debate begins. 'you doubted us over Iraq, who dares to doubt us now?' So Bush and co can say Iran is a threat - we know they [have] weapons."

Protest groups possible security threat: CSIS

OTTAWA - Some Canadian animal rights, anti-globalization and white supremacist groups may pose a terrorist threat, revealed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's latest annual report.

The report, released Thursday, also claims that Canada is a target for terrorist activity because it supports the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign.

Canada's spy agency listed religious extremism as its top terrorist concern, while aboriginals, separatists and environmentalists were not mentioned in the report.

Solicitor General Wayne Easter defended the inclusion of domestic lobbies in the report, adding that Canadians should not be complacent about terrorist threats.

"The Canadian Security Intelligence Service… is aware of emerging terrorist threats and tactics that could have severe consequences for Canadians," Easter said.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said, "It looks as though CSIS is lumping together anyone who disagrees with the government."

Rob Sinclair, a campaigner with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said equating animal rights groups with white supremacists was offensive.

"It sounds like CSIS is once again completely out to lunch," Sinclair said.

Bill Moore-Kilgannon of the Council of Canadians was also critical of the report saying, "We're concerned about the implications for the average citizen who will go out to a protest march, whether or not they're going to be put on some blacklist."

Canadian Alliance MP Kevin Sorenson, who sat on the Commons security committee, said he doesn't have a problem with CSIS monitoring domestic organizations but he is bothered that the report omits to mention groups such as the Tamil Tigers.

If This is the Road, I'd Rather Be Lost

Where is the Hope? Where is the Justice?

June 7, 2003

It could be argued that that the average male has a very difficult time admitting when they get lost. Only as a last-ditch effort to save face will they stop and ask for directions. If only they had checked the map, their destination could have been reached in half the time.

So it was with great pomp and fanfare from the US Administration (with the backup of the Quartet ­ the EU, the UN, the US, and Russia), and a tremendous amount of wary scepticism from the people of the Palestine and Israel, that President Bush presented his so-called "Road Map" for Middle East peace. The plan that is supposed to guide those gone astray in reaching the elusive goal of peace.

In this world of sexist politics dominated by men, and my own delight in finding ironic metaphors for analyzing the political rhetoric in comparison with the reality of our daily lives, I found it somewhat amusing that this gang of acronyms, all headed by some of the most arrogant men in power, were calling their grandiose plan a "Road Map". A slight attempt at humility in the wake of a history of evil deeds in this region? Hardly. Perhaps the need for a catchy title to cover up the fact that this plan is not based on anything that resembles social, political or economic justice? Definitely.

Despite the tremendous uncertainty over the viability of such a plan, combined with the knowledge that there is not an ounce of justice contained in its pages, many Palestinians still held onto a shred of hope that, perhaps, life will become a little easier now. Maybe we won't have a real state, human rights, the right of return for refugees, or a seat at the United Nations, but maybe we will have the opportunity to work and put bread on the table.

A Road Map. Maps can be dangerous things when they are not drawn well. One slip of the hand can inadvertently erase an entire city, draw a river where one does not exist, or fail to properly illustrate the sharp curve going around a mountain pass. This "Road Map" for Middle East peace has been drawn with such a careless hand that one could hardly imagine getting anywhere useful by following its guidance. Based upon the same pitfalls as the Oslo Agreement, the "Road Map" makes no mention of the most critical issues that need to be addressed such as Jerusalem, the dismantling of all settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, the control over water resources, and acknowledging the right of return for Palestinian refugees. [...]

Comment: Exactly, as we said, its a bad joke, a ruse, a decoy. Anyone who has observed Sharon over the years and yet still believes that he wants anything other than the extermination of the Palestinians is seriouslly deluded.

Seven die in Gaza Strip attack

Three Palestinians disguised as Israeli soldiers sneaked into an army post today, gunning down four Israelis before they themselves were killed by troops - the first deadly attack since last week’s Middle East summit.

The shooting was a major setback to a US-backed peace plan and came just hours after Palestinian militant groups insisted they would not halt attacks on Israelis.

Three armed groups – Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade - claimed joint responsibility for the shooting. A leaflet gave the names of the gunmen, all in their early 20s, one from each group.

“This joint operation was committed to confirm our people’s united choice of holy war and resistance until the end of occupation over our land and holy places,” the leaflet said [...]

Final deal is settled with full-time EU president
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels

After a week of battles over the draft European constitution, the outlines of a final deal were emerging last night that would create a European president, abolish the national veto in 17 fresh areas and strengthen all the major institutions of the European Union.

Peter Hain, Downing Street's envoy to the European Convention, said a Franco-British plan for a full-time EU president was now assured, despite opposition from small states who fear that it will destroy the "community" character of the EU and allow the big powers to take control.

In a blunt warning to diehard federalists on the 105-strong convention, he said it was "time to get real". If they failed to agree on a sensible document now, EU governments - armed with vetoes - would simply dictate a new text later.

Despite claims by Dominique de Villepin, the French foreign minister, that the convention was in "crisis", Mr Hain said the drafting praesidium was close to a compromise that set out Europe's basic architecture and which was unlikely to change much before the constitution was signed into law next year.

"We are at a crucial stage, the end game. I believe a deal is in reach, but it really is make your mind up time for a lot of other governments," he said.

The EU president will be elected by prime ministers, making him accountable to London, Paris, Madrid and other capitals. His staff will be based in the Justus Lipsius building, the headquarters of the EU's Council of Ministers, not the European Commission. He will be supported by a European foreign minister.

In exchange, the small states - Belgium, Holland, Finland, Portugal, Greece, and some newcomers from Eastern Europe, as well as the federalist bloc of MPs and MEPs on the Convention - will be given much of what they want too.

The commission, which they see as the guardian of the collective interest and their defence against a big state "stitch-up", will take over justice and home affairs for the first time. Qualified majority voting will be extended into 17 new areas, including asylum and immigration policy, and fighting crime.

Mr Hain denied that the deal was a "big state fix" or that London was trying to reduce the commission to the role of a civil service. "The commission is not losing anything. It's gaining whole new areas. Justice and home affairs is a huge new area," he said.

The European Parliament will double its legislative powers, gaining control for the first time over vital policies such as farm spending, which accounts for almost half the EU's £64 billion budget [...]

Comment: This is simply the culmination of the Eurozone plan that was conceived almost 60 years ago. It is a "herding of the population to a much finer level of control". Control is and always has been the name of the game here on the BBM. The final pieces of the plan are now being implemented.

'Not a chance in hell' for Blair Euro presidency

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock claims there is "not a chance in hell" Prime Minister Tony Blair would ever be elected president of Europe.

Mr Kinnock, the vice-president of the European Commission, says he has no doubt Mr Blair could do the job but he does not believe he would be interested in it.

The idea of an elected president for the EU was mooted last November by the pro-Europe Labour MP George Foulkes - who also refused to rule out the possibility Mr Blair could take on the role.

But speaking on Scottish Television's Seven Days programme, Mr Kinnock dismissed speculation the Prime Minister would one day take up the post.

He said: "I think he could do the job but there's not a chance in hell that he would ever put himself forward or even if he was pressed would accept it.

"There's been the stupidest speculation about Tony wanting to create the job so that he could walk into it. Complete nonsense, total nonsense."

Mr Kinnock also dismissed suggestions that splits between Britain and some European nations over the war in Iraq had damaged Mr Blair's standing on the Continent.

"The thing is he has had some quarrels but he is widely admired and I don't say that just because he's my friend," said Mr Kinnock.

"The fact of the matter is he's got imagination, he's got bags of courage, people have seen that too, and what he does, he does because he's properly motivated."

Comment: Thanks Neil for your commentary on Tony, you'll excuse us however if we take it with a rather large pinch of salt, given that your opinon on the matter is severely biased.

Downing Street 'told spy chiefs to rewrite dossier six times'
By Andrew Sparrow, Political Correspondent

Intelligence chiefs were asked to rewrite the controversial dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction at least six times, it was claimed yesterday.

A source told the BBC that at one point the Prime Minister was personally involved in the decision to get the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) to redraft the document.

[...] Yesterday's development also suggests that members of the intelligence services have not been intimidated by complaints about leaking and that the Government's attack on the behaviour of "rogue elements" among them may have backfired.

Downing Street refused to comment directly on the BBC's report. "We would not offer a running commentary on the drafting of documents," a spokesman said.

But he repeated the Government's insistence that the dossier was "entirely the work of the intelligence services" and that the idea that they were put under pressure to deliver a particular verdict was "entirely false".

Lord Healey, the former chancellor and deputy Labour leader, yesterday said the issue was so serious that Mr Blair could be forced to stand down.

Writing in the Independent, Lord Healey said: "If he is found out to have been wrong about those weapons - or worse, that he knowingly made false statements - I believe he should be replaced as leader. I suspect many in the party would agree."

Comment: Yet Kinnock in the previous article claims about Blair: "what he does, he does because he's properly motivated." Naturally there are differing definitions of what "properly motivated" means, however what our "leaders" fail to inform us of is that when they say things like "proper motivation" they are using their definition and not ours. Their definition of "proper motivation" being "I do whatever the hell I need to do to get what I want, regardless of the consequences to others, after all - I'm number one". So in a sense they do not lie, they just fail to inform us that they are amoral and corrupt individuals and they use the amoral and corrupt dictionary when talking.

[Editors note: For full effect, to be read in the voice of agent Smith from the movie The Matrix] Have you ever wondered how they can blantanly lie in public, this is how they justify it to themselves. Our "leaders", who, by definition and as a result of what they had to do to become "leaders", have a decidedly self-serving orientation. From their view point they are simply smarter than "Joe public". They see us as hapless fools, unable to play the game of life and win as they have done. They see themselves as the "elect", and with a right to their positions of power, simply because they were prepared to do what it took and takes (regardless of the consequences to others) to get where they are and stay there. As such they see themselves as the "keepers of humanity", of us, the poor, unaware, unwashed masses. To them it is a parent/child relationship (however twisted and perverted). In this way they can convince themselves that they are being of service as they periodically do what is needed (culling of the herd etc.) and take responsibility for the children who need them and cannot care for themselves.

Spies threaten Blair with 'smoking gun' over Iraq

Senior intelligence officers kept secret records of meetings after pressure from No 10

By Kim Sengupta and Andy McSmith
08 June 2003

Intelligence officers are holding a "smoking gun" which proves that they were subjected to a series of demands by Tony Blair's staff in the run-up to the Iraq war.

The officers are furious about the accusation levelled by the Leader of the Commons, John Reid, that "rogue elements" are at work in the security services. They fear they are being lined up to take the blame for faulty intelligence used to justify the Iraq war.

The intelligence services were so concerned about demands made by Downing Street for evidence to use against Iraq that extensive files have been built up detailing communications with Mr Blair's staff.

Stung by Dr Reid's accusations about misinformation over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, intelligence officials have given veiled warnings about what may emerge in the two official inquiries into the affair.

"A smoking gun may well exist over WMDs, but it may not be to the Government's liking," said one senior source. "Minuted details will show exactly what went on. Because of the frequency and, at times, unusual nature of the demands from Downing Street, people have made sure records were kept. There is a certain amount of self-preservation in this, of course."

It is believed some of the minutes relate to conversations involving the Joint Intelligence Committee, Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's communications director, Jonathan Powell, Mr Blair's chief of staff, and Sir David Omand, the Government's security and intelligence co-ordinator. However, records had also been made, it is claimed, by individual officers in communications within the intelligence services.

The intelligence services are also seething about Dr Reid's claims of spies trying to undermine an elected government. Although the Prime Minister and the Cabinet have been careful not to repeat the allegations, some security officials feel Dr Reid should apologise. "I don't know about the other [intelligence] services, but he certainly has not apologised to the chief of defence intelligence," said a Ministry of Defence official.

"The mood is very fractious at the moment. Intelligence officials are keen that the inquiries should establish the demarcation between what was supplied to Downing Street by them, and what it received from the Americans."

Mr Blair has defended the failure to uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq by saying that the occupying authorities have a more urgent task in bringing security and humanitarian aid to the country. "In Northern Ireland we were searching for IRA weapons for the best part of 40 years and that is a tiny country. Iraq is almost the size of France," he said yesterday.

Comment: Well it shouldn't be much of a problem Tony, given that on numerous occasions in Northern Ireland your "intelligence services" planted weapons and then "found" them. Why give up a good thing? It's a tried and trusted method!

The failure to uncover WMDs in Iraq is costing Mr Blair political support even among Labour and Conservative MPs who backed the war but are angry at the possibility that MPs may have been misled. Michael Portillo, the former Tory Cabinet minister who effusively praised the Prime Minister in March for renouncing spin to fight for what he believed to be right, has now changed his mind.

Writing in today's Independent on Sunday, Mr Portillo said: "How could I have been so naive? Spin is the making of Blair, and it will be his demise. He's given his opponents a dream slogan - 'You can't believe a word he says'. But that may not worry the Prime Minister.

"The opposition has never shown self-discipline, so maybe he'll give them the slip again."

Other MPs who backed the war have warned that the issue could blow up very quickly into a major constitutional row between the Government and the House of Commons if, as expected, Tony Blair and senior officials refuse a request to give evidence to a committee of MPs.

The Labour chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Donald Anderson, has written to a number of senior politicians and civil servants, warning them that they may be called before committee hearings later this month.

Unlike the Intelligence and Security Committee - a group of MPs appointed by Mr Blair, which meets secretly - the Foreign Affairs Committee will hold its hearings in public and intends to publish its findings before MPs break up for the summer.

A number of the intended witnesses, including Tony Blair himself and some senior figures in the intelligence community, are likely to refuse to appear. The committee could then appeal for support to the House of Commons, forcing a highly embarrassing vote which the Government might lose.

Andrew Mackinlay, a Labour member of the committee who backed the Iraq war, predicted: "They will say they can't give evidence on matters affecting the security services, then either the committee will buckle or - more likely - there will be a major confrontation."

John Maples, a Tory member of the committee who also backed the war, warned: "It would be very embarrassing for the Prime Minister to be taking on a Commons committee, because people would ask, 'What has the Government got to hide?' and second, they might not win a vote."

Comment: In the previous article a Downing street spokesman says "[the Iraq] dossier was "entirely the work of the intelligence services" and that the idea that they were put under pressure to deliver a particular verdict was "entirely false". So we are to believe that while Blair was clamouring for justification to invade Iraq, government intelligence agencies that are set up to provide intelligence for the government were working on their own initiative, and the information was never requested by the government...okay...right...we have a suggestion...Just remove your brain now and be done with it.

Revealed: the secret cabal which spun for Blair

Investigation: By Neil Mackay Sunday Herald

BRITAIN ran a covert 'dirty tricks' operation designed specifically to produce misleading intelligence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction to give the UK a justifiable excuse to wage war on Iraq.
Operation Rockingham, established by the Defence Intelligence Staff within the Ministry of Defence in 1991, was set up to 'cherry-pick' intelligence proving an active Iraqi WMD programme and to ignore and quash intelligence which indicated that Saddam's stockpiles had been destroyed or wound down.

The existence of Operation Rockingham has been confirmed by Scott Ritter, the former UN chief weapons inspector, and a US military intelligence officer. He knew members of the Operation Rockingham team and described the unit as 'dangerous', but insisted they were not 'rogue agents' acting without government backing. 'This policy was coming from the very highest levels,' he added.

'Rockingham was spinning reports and emphasising reports that showed non-compliance (by Iraq with UN inspections) and quashing those which showed compliance. It was cherry-picking intelligence.'

Ritter and other intelligence sources say Operation Rockingham and MI6 were supplying skewed information to the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) which, Tony Blair has told the Commons, was behind the intelligence dossiers that the government published to convince the parliament and the people of the necessity of war against Iraq. Sources in both the British and US intelligence community are now equating the JIC with the Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the US Pentagon. The OSP was set up by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to gather intelligence which would prove the case for war. In a staggering attack on the OSP, former CIA officer Larry Johnson told the Sunday Herald the OSP was 'dangerous for US national security and a threat to world peace', adding that it 'lied and manipulated intelligence to further its agenda of removing Saddam'.

He added: 'It's a group of ideologues with pre-determined notions of truth and reality. They take bits of intelligence to support their agenda and ignore anything contrary. They should be eliminated.'

Johnson said that to describe Saddam as an 'imminent threat' to the West was 'laughable and idiotic'. He said many CIA officers were in 'great distress' over the way intelligence had been treated. 'We've entered the world of George Orwell,' Johnson added. 'I'm disgusted. The truth has to be told. We can't allow our leaders to use bogus information to justify war.'

Many in British intelligence believe the planned parliamentary inquiry by MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee will pass the blame for the use of selective intelligence to the JIC, which includes senior intelligence figures .

Intelligence sources say this would be unfair as they claim the JIC was following political instructions. Blair has been under sustained criticism following allegations that intelligence on the threat from Iraq was 'sexed up' to make it more appealing to the public.

The rebel Labour MP and Father of the House, Tam Dalyell, said he would raise the Sunday Herald's investigation into Operation Rockingham in the Commons on Thursday and demand an explanation from the government about selective intelligence. Ritter has also offered to give evidence to parliament.

Both the MoD and Downing Street refused to comment on Ritter's allegations about Operation Rockingham, saying they did not make statements on intelligence matters.

British and American intelligence analysts have also come forward to dispute claims made by President Bush that two military trailers found in Iraq were bio-weapons labs.

France quizzes Tunisia bomb suspect

BBC News Online

France has placed a German citizen under investigation over last year's bomb attack on a Tunisian synagogue.
Christian Ganczarski was arrested on Monday at Charles de Gaulle airport near Paris and is believed by investigators to have links to the Islamic militant network al-Qaeda. [...]

The April 2002 suicide attack against the synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, killed 21 people, including 14 German tourists.

France fixated on 'orgy' scandal

By Caroline Wyatt

This has been the scandal to end all scandals in France - a potent brew of sex and politics served daily by the country's media.

It has slavery, sado-masochism, rape, drugs and murder.

Mr Baudis has asked to be put under official investigation

Even a French Government spokesman has admitted that the country is transfixed by "l'affaire Alegre".

The French public has been treated to almost daily updates from Toulouse, where the allegations are that senior city officials not only covered up for a serial killer, Patrice Alegre, who says he organised sado-masochistic orgies for them, but that they even ordered some of his killings to protect themselves from blackmail. [...]

Even the government has admitted that the affair is an "important" one. In the meantime, members of the French public are waiting with bated breath for the next instalment of "l'affaire Alegre", to see if the serial killer manages to back up his allegations.

France braces for Tuesday strike protests

PARIS, June 6 (AFP) - France was set for a flare-up in protests after the holiday weekend Tuesday with teachers set to join a day of action as the proposals for pension reforms go before parliament.

The long weekend ahead Friday heralded a temporary truce in the bitter conflict over the pensions bill, but the disruption was set to grow again on Tuesday as teachers join railway and metro workers, air-traffic controllers and other public sector employees in a day of action.

There were however disturbances on the French transport system Friday as unions warned protests could get out of control unless the government withdraws its contested pension reforms.

On the fourth day of a rolling campaign against the government's proposals, disruptions gradually diminished but organised protests were being replaced by isolated and occasionally violent actions by hardliners.

In Paris some 70 percent of the underground metro operated as normal, but the bus system was down to 40 percent capacity after several depots were blockaded. The transport authority RATP said many of those responsible did not work for the company.

Scuffles broke out at a depot in the northern suburbs when riot police were called in to disperse protesters, some armed with baseball bats, RATP said.

In several incidents in towns across the country, demonstrators blocked roads, occupied government offices and staged sit-ins on railway lines.

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has refused to withdraw the reform, under which people would gave to work longer to get a full pension, arguing that it is the only way of safeguarding the country's "pay-as-you-go" system.

[...] But FO leader Marc Blondel said "responsibility for excesses lies entirely with the government," which he said was banking on the movement "turning nasty .... The government is playing the repression game but it will turn in its face."

Patrick Gonthier of the UNSA-Education union said the government must urgently produce some initiatives to defuse teachers' anger or else "the movement can only accentuate, with the ever greater risk of things getting out of control."

Ashcroft wants death penalty for terrorist acts

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General John Ashcroft told Congress Thursday that he would like to strengthen the USA Patriot Act to allow capital punishment for all terrorist acts that result in fatalities, and to prevent suspects accused of terrorism from being released on bond.

Three days after the Justice Department's inspector general suggested law enforcement agencies had mistreated hundreds of immigrant detainees taken into custody after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Ashcroft asked Congress to tighten several Patriot Act provisions, calling them "weaknesses which terrorists could exploit."

Ashcroft testified before the House Judiciary Committee, where Republicans lauded his efforts and Democrats expressed concerns about whether civil liberties were being trampled in the name of national security under the 19-month-old Patriot Act, which gave the Justice Department sweeping new powers to gather information and crack down on terrorists.

Ashcroft acknowledged that authorities had subjected some illegal immigrants detained after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon to harsh jail conditions for long periods of time before the FBI cleared them of links to terrorism. That was a central finding of a report issued Monday by the Justice Department's inspector general, Glenn Fine.

Ashcroft said he had "some sympathy" for the criticisms leveled by Fine, who found there were "significant problems" in the detention on immigration violations of many of the 762 foreign nationals after the terror attacks. While none has been publicly charged with terrorism, they spent an average of 80 days in jail before the FBI completed its investigation, and many went weeks before being charged with immigration violations or seeing attorneys. Some 515 were eventually deported.

"If we, God forbid, if we ever have to do this again, we hope we can clear people more quickly," Ashcroft said. "There is no interest whatsoever that the United States of America has in holding innocent people -- absolutely none."

One of the changes Ashcroft requested would increase penalties for certain acts of terrorism. If a terrorist caused loss of life by sabotaging a nuclear or defense facility, for example, current statutes don't carry the potential for the death penalty, officials said. The maximum penalty now is life imprisonment.

Ashcroft also said he wants adjustments that will make it "crystal clear that those who train for and fight with a designated terrorist organization" can be charged under the statute that prohibits providing "material support" for terrorist organizations.

In addition, Ashcroft said, terrorism offenses should be added to the list of crimes for which defendants are presumed ineligible for pretrial release, along with weapons violations, organized crime and drug dealing.

Comment: Wonderful, with the current broad definition of a "terrorist" (you're one if you're a "disgruntled citizen") just about anyone in the country can be picked up, with Ashcroft waiting as judge, jury and executioner. "Land of the free and home of the brave", don't make me laugh.

Can A Man Appointed By God Lie?

by W. David Jenkins III
June 5, 2003

"I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons." -Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
(at a hearing of the Senate's appropriations subcommittee on defense, May 14)

"We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
-Vice President Dick Cheney on NBC's Meet the Press, March 16

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
- George W. Bush, Address to the Nation, March 17, 2003

This is such nonsense. Now we are forced to watch the members of Bush Inc. back-pedal away from every reason they had to invade a country. Let's call it like it is - they lied. Plain and simple. They couldn't wait for international support, let alone a good reason - so they just lied. And, what, nobody cares?

Oh just shut up, Jenkins! They would never lie. Saddam just either hid those WMDs or sent them to Syria or...or Iran! Yeah, that's the ticket! Just give 'em a little more time.

I just can't believe that folks haven't caught on to the fact that whenever things start looking pretty bad for the Keystone Kowboys - there always, miraculously, seems to be something else just a little more important to plaster all over the news. Whether it is SARS, Laci Peterson, level "orange" (again) or - coming soon to a theater near you - those dastardly Iranians, there will always be something to divert your attention.

Just give 'em a little more time.

Well, I'm sure Hans Blix can identify with the Bushies' need for more time to find those WMDs. I'm also sure he recognizes the duplicity in their request while he relishes the thought of his coming retirement so he never has to deal with such reckless bozos again. Like so many others outside the grip of American media, Mr. Blix is probably just another person shaking his head in disbelief. Actually, like many of you, I've been shaking my head in disbelief as well.

Try out these little gems.

A short while ago - after we had stopped bombing civilians - Donald Rumsfeld made it clear during a press conference that a theocratic style of government would not be allowed in the new-and-improved Iraq. This was specifically intended to warn any Shiites waiting to fill the vacuum that - even though they are a majority of the Iraqi population - American "liberators" would not tolerate such a radical mix of religion and government. Especially those Shiite who suffered from any Iranian influences.

Now, this position of Rumsfeld's might hold a little bit more water if he weren't a member of an administration fallen victim itself to the delusions and influences of a radical religion right here at home. Let's face it, Bush and his disciples have pretty much made it clear - especially after 9/11 - that George "Roger Ram-Jet" Bush was appointed, if not anointed, by God Almighty Himself. What's more, the Religious Right has a major influence in domestic policy and we have an Attorney General who thinks he's doing "God's work" and holding prayer meetings in the Dept. of Justice Building - just before he goes out and "disappears" a few more American citizens in his war against terrorists. Not to mention that this guy is convinced that Calico cats are a sign of the Devil. I mean, c'mon - think about it. Do you think for a minute that anybody in the Bush administration would have a problem with a theocratic form of government in Iraq if the Iraqis were predominantly Christian? Well, Bush's version of "Christian" at least? Just one of those things, I guess.

Another thing that bugs me is this nonsense over France and the rest of the world. Welcome, class, to Hypocrisy 101. Bush-style. Let's read this next bit with the voice of Andy Rooney in your head, shall we?

"Did you ever notice how Americans really get angry over certain Arab countries teaching their children to hate Americans? We take great umbrage with those who would teach their children to hate others - especially us. They burn our flag and destroy symbols of Western Culture in front of television cameras for the world to see. They influence the underdeveloped minds in their populace to hate us - without understanding us - without any compassion for us.

"Did you ever notice that Bush and his supporters are guilty of the same damn thing when it comes to France or Germany or any of the other countries that didn't support their illegal invasion? 'Freedom Fries' in the Congressional mess hall and 'severe consequences' for our former allies indeed! How embarrassing for us all! Go ahead and dump your French wine in the gutter for the TV cameras. After all, it's your money."
Good God, exactly what have these greedy, impulsive morons done to this country?

Don't get me wrong, I don't think any of the people surrounding Bush - the ones actually running this debacle - are stupid. Quite the contrary. I think they know exactly what they're doing and have been quite successful as far as they're concerned. But let's face it. These people are short -sighted and self-serving - and the failures of this faux administration are crystal clear in Afghanistan, Iraq and, even worse, right here at home. But these people have such a chronic long range vision deficit that it boggles the logical mind! [...]

Jesus, Bush, And Religious Self-Righteousness

Dr. Gerry Lower
Bush Watch,

A few years ago, eastern South Dakotans experienced a devastating tornado which virtually destroyed a small ranch town on the prairie. After the storm subsided, one woman and her young son emerged from the debris of their basement quite safe and sound. The mother told how she had grabbed her son and carried him to the basement. There she laid him on the floor, she laid down on top of him, and she grabbed a firm hold of the water pipes anchored to the basement wall.

Overjoyed at being alive, the mother was, of course, asked by reporters how she had ever managed to survive. The mother's response was, "Jesus saved us. We prayed and Jesus saved us." And the people did rejoice that Jesus, once again, had come through for the few, nevermind the many. Thank god almighty. There are several points to make about this story in terms of religious and Christian content.

Jesus had nothing to do with it, all right? If we examine the woman's actions, heading to the basement and hanging on for dear life, her program falls into the category of common sense precautions, the likes of which most people have heard about at some time or another, especially people living on the open prairies. This sort of knowledge and a little luck always go further than anything else we currently can summon up to help. There is no need to thank Jesus, and here is why He wouldn't appreciate the applause.

Without realizing it, the woman's statement (coming, no doubt, from a warm-hearted Christian lady) is admirably anti-Christian and religiously self-righteous. She did not intend for this at all, but that is what comes out when Christian values are compromised by those of the Old Testament Roman world. If we must applaud Jesus for saving this mother and her son's lives, then we must condemn Jesus for allowing so many others to perish in the tornado. In other words, by assigning her survival to Jesus instead of to her own common sense and good luck, she has placed herself into a self-righteous position in which an ethereal Jesus has presumably employed supernatural powers to show her preferential favoritism over others. Praise the lord.

Nowhere in New Testament scripture is there an indication that Jesus wanted credit for every wonderful and lucky thing that happens on this planet. He just wanted people to be honest with and caring of each other. He just wanted people to do as He did, think for themselves. That is all, and that is everything. Indeed, it was precisely because the woman in South Dakota thought for herself, with knowledge provided by others with experience, that she and her son survived the storm. Bravo! Christianity (the real thing) works.

Constrast this with the approaches promoted by right wing "compassionate" conservatives in America who urge our national leaders to rely not at all on their own knowledge or any human knowledge, who urge our national leaders to not think for themselves. Rather, they urge pursuit of a self-righteous, belligerent stance in the world in the name of America's rich and the the religion they use to justify their cause, which embraces no one but themselves. [...]

"Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the 'past.' People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the 'Future.'" (Cassiopaeans, 09-28-02)

Americans shouldn't believe a thing Bush says on Iran

O. Ricardo Pimentel

PHOENIX -- The Iraqi war was intended to teach a lot of folks, among them Iranians, a lesson.
Arguably, here's what Iran, now in U.S. crosshairs for doing all those things we said Iraq was doing, might have learned.

-If, after you are accused of developing weapons of mass destruction, you submit to international inspection, get ready to be invaded anyway.

-If you say you don't have any such weapons, you are, of course, lying. If inspectors can't find any, you're hiding them. And if, after invasion, they still can't be found, you were just awfully good at both of the above.

-If one of the charges is, specifically, that you're developing nuclear weapons, best you speed things along.

You see, as Iraq demonstrated, countries that we say are oh-so-close to having nukes get invaded.

On the other hand, we use diplomacy and stinging rebukes for countries such as North Korea. You know, countries that are apparently far along in nuke development, hint that they might actually have the little nasties and have the means to deliver them.

If you have nukes, are an authoritarian government, and help us with terrorists, you become an ally. Just ask Pakistan.

And if you're an authoritarian government in a country with no religious freedom, supply the world with terrorists and have an abundance of oil, you're also a bosom buddy. Just like Saudi Arabia.

The most effective lesson of the Iraqi war, however, is not really for the Iranians, Syrians, Libyans or North Koreans.

It's for the Bush administration. It learned that it can stretch the facts, fabricate out of whole cloth, spin nuggets into "truth" and frighten Americans at will. And it's all OK as long as "liberated" folks are jubilant at some point on the evening news.

And therein lies a cautionary note for Americans in general. If virtually none of what this administration said about Iraq -- from nuclear weapons to imminent threat -- has been borne out, why should we believe what is now being said about Iran?

We are, after all, getting much of our information from Iranian opposition groups, just as we got a lot of our information from all those reliable Iraqi opposition groups.

But the biggest conundrum about the war aftermath and the countdown to the next confrontation is that no one here really seems to give a hoot.

The Bush administration force-fed us whatever information was useful to make a case for what it wanted to do, disregarding any and all countervailing and inconvenient intelligence.

Whether this was mere reckless disregard for the truth or outright fabrication, it amounts to the same thing.

And it matters little if we eventually find WMDs. It's clear that we lied about the certainty that they existed, that they posed any imminent threat at all and that war was necessary to protect us all from them.

In other words, WMD hype was just a matter of convenience.

We've just recently had terrorist bombings in Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaida allegedly masterminded them. Osama bin Laden is still slinking about. And we have a bad case of "orange alert" jitters in this country.

The question: Do you feel any safer because "imminent-threat" Iraq has been conquered (with Saddam Hussein still unaccounted for)?

If you do, current events might not be your strong suit. If we're going to consider war again, how about we wait for all the facts -- real ones -- before the shooting starts?

The Terrible Truth (Part MMCCXVILL): It's a Stacked Deck; That Rosenthal Decision; Why Do Africans Get AIDS; Liberated NYTers Down Raines Statue

June 7, 2003

It's hard to chose which deserves the coarser jeer: the excited baying in the press about the non discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or the wailing in the press about the 3-2 decision of the Federal Communications Commission last week to allow corporate media giants to increase their domination of the market.

Actually they're all part of the same binding curve of nonsense, and if we meld the two, we're left with the following ridiculous proposition, most keenly promoted by Democrats eager to impart the impression that only greedy Republicans are serfs of the corporate media titans, and that the Telecommunications "Reform" Act of 1996 was actually a well-intended effort to return the airwaves to Us The People.

The ridiculous proposition: Until the FCC vote this week, We the people, surfing through the tv channels, or across the AM/FM radio dial, were afforded diversity of choice, the better to form those reasoned political judgments essential in the functioning of this democratic republic.

The ridiculous proposition continued: In the run-up to the US/UK attack on Iraq and before the latest FCC ruling unleashed darkness upon the land, we were afforded a multiplicity of analyses, not just from hole-in-the-wall operations like Pacifica or satellite-based LINKS TV. Night after night the bulk of the American people were able to enjoy well-informed reporting, suggesting that the Bush administration's accusations that Saddam Hussein had WMDs ready to use in as little as 45 minutes no factual foundation.

But now, after the FCC decision, these voices will be stilled. We are entering the era of Big Brother.

You think I'm joking? Here's what one of the two Democratic FCC commissioners, Michael J. Copps, said before the vote, with his grand words now approvingly quoted by liberal editorial writers and pundits: "Today the Federal Communications Commission empowers America's new media elite with unacceptable levels of influence over the ideas and information upon which our society and our democracy so heavily depend. The decision we five make today will recast our entire media landscape for years to come. At issue is whether a few corporations will be ceded enhanced gatekeeper control over the civil dialogue of our country; more content control over our music, entertainment and information; and veto power over the majority of what our families watch, hear and read."

Now, didn't this happen, oh, forty, fifty, maybe seventy years ago? Of course it did. The damage was done long, long since, and all that happened on June 2 is that it got slightly worse, but not to any degree instantly apparent to the long suffering national audience. So, just as you suspected, we were getting lousy info from the corporate press before the FCC vote this week. [...]

Ashcroft Sides with Torturers
Unocal and the Crimes of Burma

June 7, 2003

Given the chance to protect corporate interests, the Bush administration is predictably happy to take it. Ditto for the prospect of undermining international justice.

But it's not every day that the opportunity arises to accomplish both objectives at once. It takes a case like John Doe I v. Unocal Corp., a civil damages action currently pending in U.S. federal court.

In a brief recently filed in the Unocal case, the administration--in the person of Attorney General John Ashcroft--sets out to defend an oil company, reaffirm the president's untrammeled power over foreign policy, and eviscerate a law that has provided a modicum of justice to victims of rights abuses from around the world.

All that, and more. In an added plus, the brief also gives the administration a vehicle for highlighting the wit and wisdom of Robert Bork. Bork, the right wing's original judicial martyr, is very much in the thoughts of an administration that is currently fighting bruising confirmation battles in Congress.

Forced Labor, Murder, Rape and Torture

The plaintiffs in the Unocal case are Burmese villagers who claim that they were subjected to forced labor, murder, rape, and torture during the construction of a gas pipeline through their country. Soldiers allegedly committed these abuses while providing security and other services for the pipeline project.

Jane Doe I, one of the plaintiffs in the case, testified that when her husband tried to escape the forced labor program, he was shot at by soldiers, and that, in retaliation for his attempted escape, she and her baby were thrown into a fire. Her child died and she was badly injured.

Other villagers described the summary execution of people who refused to work, or who became too weak to work effectively.

There is little doubt that such crimes occurred. They have been exhaustively documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and a host of other groups. In 1995, when pipeline construction was beginning, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution urging Burma (also known as Myanmar) to put a stop to its practices of torture, forced labor and summary executions. Even the Justice Department, whose "friend of the court" brief was filed this past May 8, was willing to acknowledge the "blatant human rights abuses" committed by Burma's military government.

The only serious factual issue in the case is the extent of Unocal's responsibility for the crimes. The plaintiffs claim that Unocal aided and abetted the Burmese military in its campaign of abuse, an assertion that Unocal vigorously denies.

"Practical Assistance"

The Unocal case is now pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The lower court that first heard the case dismissed it, finding insufficient proof of Unocal's involvement in the abuses.

The appeal was heard by a panel of Ninth Circuit judges that ruled unanimously to reverse the dismissal. The court found that the evidence presented by the villagers supported the conclusion "that Unocal gave practical assistance to the Myanmar Military in subjecting Plaintiffs to forced labor." [...]

Comment: Unocal also has the blood of 5,000 Afghan civilians on its hands, murdered by Bush and Co as they forced "regieme change" in Afghanistan because the ruling Taliban would not accept the deal for a pipeline for the transport of Caspian sea oil through the country. They removed the brutal Taliban, only to replace them with the representatives of the equally barabarous "northern alliance". Good job George! Now Unocal will be involved in the pillaging of Iraqi oil. 7,000-10,000 innocent men, women and children was the price tag for that one. "American big business - sowing death and destruction world wide for generations."

The Absence of Accountability in Bush's America

Rupert Cornwell
The independent

WASHINGTON, 7 June 2003 - A strange feeling overtakes the British journalist in Washington these days, as he chronicles the rebirth of the imperial presidency under George Bush, and then turns for a second to CNN, to watch Tony Blair defending himself at Prime Minister’s Questions. Mere theatrics, I tell myself as I watch the heated exchanges. Entertaining to be sure, but only a charade that passes for open government, where questioning by the people’s elected representatives elicits few facts and certainly changes no policies.

Like many others in my trade, I was brought up to believe in the superiority of the American system, with its vaunted checks and balances. A Congress with powerful investigative committees and a press unhampered by restrictive libel laws and a stifling Official Secrets Act - that, not a weekly bun fight in the Commons, was what was needed to hold the country's rulers accountable. Or is it? What is so striking in America right now is the absence of accountability. The administration has led the country into an unprovoked war against a sovereign foreign state for reasons that were certainly overstated and quite possibly deliberately mendacious. It has mistreated detainees after Sept. 11 with a disregard for basic civil rights that worries the inspector general of Bush’s own Justice Department. But look not to Capitol Hill for remedies.

Those committees, with their sweeping subpoena powers? As they say in polite New York circles, "fuggeddaboutit". First of all, the Republicans who control the White House also have majorities in both chambers of Congress - and thus in the committees of Congress. If push comes to shove, Republican senators and congressmen will make sure that no great embarrassment befalls a popular Republican president and his senior officials. And these latter know it. [...]

"The grand illusion"

By John Brand, D.Min., J.D. Columnist

Jose Ortega y Gasset's 1928 book, "The Revolt of the Masses," discusses European economic problems. He suggests that divisive nationalism, a Europe made up of many small states, prevented the development of a mass market similar to the one in the United States.

He compares Europe's economic problems to a large bird that can never fully extend its wings because of the bars on its cage. Limitations created by cultural and political circumstances forestall attainment of inherent capabilities.

Incompatibility between unfulfilled potential and existing limitations also plagues America's current economic difficulties. Of course, the stricture preventing our bald eagle from soaring is quite different from the cage that imprisoned the pre-WWII European economy.

The forecast for our economy is, at best, uncertain. Combining the number of unemployed looking for work with those who have given up hope of ever finding a job, we probably have an actual unemployment rate of about 7 or 8 percent. That is an uncomfortable margin. The combined debt structures -- national debt, balance of trade deficit, personal credit card loans, bank loans, home loans, etc. -- is probably close to 20 trillion dollars. That's a scary figure. The first surplus rebate handed out by the Bush administration did little to stimulate the economy. The present tax cut and rebate will most likely do equally little to stimulate a sluggish economy.

The constant rise of the Euro against the dollar gives us little reason for optimism about our economic situation.

Though basic human needs vary little over time, our history is one of boom and bust, plenty and want, superabundance and dire needs. What bars of the cage prevent our eagle from flying freely? Could it be that the much-vaunted system of capitalism contains seeds that not only create economic havoc but weaken and even potentially destroy Constitutional governance? Could it be that representative, republican government and capitalism are totally incompatible systems?

History provides an interesting clue. The German tycoons of the pre-Hitler era, Fritz Thyssen, the Krupps, Von Ribbentrop, Hjalmar Schacht were not exactly enamored with the Weimar Republic. When Hitler began to stir, these representative of Germany's fiscal might were among his earliest and strongest supporters. Henry Ford and other American tycoons were also sympathetic to Hitler's ideas. [...]

Congo Peace Short Lived

Saturday, June 07, 2003

TORONTO ( -- Within twenty-four hours of the arrival of French troops to establish a peacekeeping force, violence has once again erupted in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Background Report). Associated Press has reported that Bunia, the main town in Ituri province, was attacked by a group of Lendu militia early this morning. The Lendu used assault rifles, heavy machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades in a dawn attack on positions of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), a Hema group who currently controls the town. The intent of the raids appears to be to gain some ground before the international peacekeepers who will join the French arrive and begin their attempt to stabilize the area.

Dutch to Send 1,100 Peacekeepers to Iraq

Associated Press

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -The Netherlands will send 1,100 peacekeepers to southern Iraq to join the British-led multinational stabilization force, the Dutch government said. [...]

Military resists sending more troops to Iraq 'quagmire'

By Kim Sengupta
The Independent

Defence chiefs are resisting calls for British troops to be sent to join American forces in Baghdad because they could be "sucked into a quagmire".

Although the Ministry of Defence's official position is that sending units to the Iraqi capital would risk "overstretch", senior officers are believed to have told Tony Blair such a deployment would inevitably mean British soldiers getting caught up in the rising tide of anti-American violence. [...]

Pressure grows over US killing of journalists

By Ian Urbina
Asia Times

On April 8, two journalists were killed in Baghdad. By this date, only weeks into the conflict, the death toll for journalists in Iraq was an alarming 10, more than double the total killed in the entirety of the first Gulf War in 1991. But what was especially worrisome about the deaths of Ukraine-born Reuters cameraman, Taras Protsyuk, and Spanish photographer Jose Couso, was that neither man was near the front lines.

Both were in their hotels. Alongside roughly 100 other journalists from virtually every major international news outlet in the country at the time, Protsyuk and Couso were recouping in an officially recognized safe zone - the Palestine Hotel. But an American tank on the opposite bank of the Tigris River, roughly three-quarters of a mile away, fired directly at the hotel anyway. The US military stated that the incident was a regrettable though unavoidable mistake. However, with the recent release of an investigation by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists there is new evidence that the incident was in fact entirely avoidable, and a Spanish judge is being asked to file formal extradition charges against the responsible three US military officers.

The defendants are Lieutenant Colonel Philip DeCamp, commander of the Fourth Battalion 64th Armored Regiment of the Third Infantry Division; Captain Philip Wolford, company commander of the tank unit that fired on the hotel; and Sergeant Shawn Gibson, the officer who asked Wolford for permission to fire and received it.

The Pentagon has claimed that the tank fire was a purely defensive move. Specifically, military spokeswoman Victoria Clarke wrote the committee a week after the event, stating that "coalition forces were fired upon and acted in self defense by returning fire". At the time of the incident, US forces were attempting to find and kill an Iraqi "spotter" who was believed to be watching American troop movements and relaying the information back to snipers scattered throughout the city.

But interviews with more than a dozen eye-witnesses at the hotel tell a different story. The unanimous rendition given to the investigators was that no shots of any sort were fired from the hotel. Some of the most damning evidence came in the investigation from Associated Press reporter Chris Tomlinson, who was embedded with the Fourth Battalion. Tomlinson was waiting in Baghdad at a military facility and therefore had access to a military radio. He followed the entire incident closely, listening to the full conversations between company members, as well as between a commander and his superiors. [...]

Blow to Blair over 'mobile labs'

Saddam's trucks were for balloons, not germs

Peter Beaumont and Antony Barnett
Sunday June 8, 2003
The Observer

Tony Blair faces a fresh crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, as evidence emerges that two vehicles that he has repeatedly claimed to be Iraqi mobile biological warfare production units are nothing of the sort.

Comment: Run for your lives! It's the balloons of mass destruction!

Police station torn down in defiant Falluja
After the war US presence comes under fierce attack

Rory McCarthy in Falluja
Saturday June 7, 2003
The Guardian

Iraqis carrying hammers and axes yesterday began to demolish a police station in the troubled city of Falluja in a public act of defiance against the US military.
In what appeared to be a well-organised operation a crowd of labourers, mostly young men and boys, sawed off railings and tore out the metal window frames from the three-storey building. Others, using mallets and metal poles, knocked down the outer wall brick by brick, and were slowly trying to break apart the building itself.

Although the al-Tawhid police station was ransacked in the days immediately after the war, the US military had used the building intermittently as a centre for operations in Falluja and were negotiating to set up a full time base there.

Early on Thursday, one soldier was killed and five were injured outside the building when they were attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade.

"That attack was a warning to the Americans," said Arkan Habib, 32, who stood in the rubble of the station yesterday.

"We have told them more than once that this is a residential area and we don't want them here. We have destroyed the walls, we took the windows and now we are going to destroy the whole building," he said. "We are cleansing the place of Americans."

It was unclear who had organised the operation, although some in the crowd said the orders and equipment had been provided by local mosques. [...]

"We are not loyal to Saddam. He was a dictator and a tyrant. Now he has gone, but the Americans are acting like dictators themselves," said Mezher al-Jumeili, an unemployed man in the crowd. [...]

Iraqis' cupboards still bare

By Anu Anand
BBC News Online

The resumption of Iraq's food ration programme has been seen as a sign of returning normalcy after the US-led invasion. But for Iraqis, depending on handouts, even after 12 years of sanctions, is anything but normal.

The refrigerator was completely empty.

Not partially empty, with a few leftover eggs, a small block of sweating cheese, maybe a few soft tomatoes.
It was barren. All four shelves dark, cavernous and empty.

My host, Sanaa, looked embarrassed. "It shouldn't be this way," she said. "I'm educated. I'm a trained engineer. Still, we have no food." [...]

New mass grave found in Iraq

Saturday, 7 June, 2003

Another mass grave has been discovered in Iraq at Salman Pak, just south of Baghdad, in the grounds of what used to be a sprawling military complex.

Local residents say they helped bury more than 100 bodies at the military complex in April and they believe many more may be hidden underground.

Seven men on mission improbable

UN inspectors are assessing Iraq's largest nuclear plant. But the US will not let them aid its own vain search for Saddam's arsenal

By Raymond Whitaker in London and Andrew Buncombe in Washington
08 June 2003

UN experts are this weekend back inside Iraq for the first time since the war against the regime began, but they are operating under more restrictions than they were when Saddam Hussein was in power.

15 Egyptians killed Saudi bus crash


Fifteen Egyptians were killed and 34 injured when their passenger bus collided with a lorry today in north-western Saudi Arabia, an Egyptian diplomat said.


Chino Shoho's quirks pose no threat: cultist

Japan Times

On a quiet hill dotted with summer cottages in the village of Oizumi, Yamanashi Prefecture, with Mount Fuji soaring above the southern Alps, a pair of geodesic domes are going up.

Geodesic dome cottages owned by a member of the Chino Shoho group stand on a hill commanding a spectacular view of Mount Fuji.

In late April, the weekly newsmagazine Shukan Bunshun began a series of articles calling the cottages "satyams," a term the infamous Aum Shinrikyo coined for its residences. But these articles were about the cult Chino Shoho.
The articles appeared just as a mysterious group of people clad all in white began to attract nationwide media attention by wandering about central Japan in a caravan of white-painted vehicles, occasionally occupying mountain roads. The group called itself Pana Wave Laboratory and claimed to be Chino Shoho's "scientific arm."
Shukan Bunshun also speculated that the group was attempting to capture the popular stray seal Tama-chan from a river in Yokohama and bury it in their cottage compound in Oizumi.

The complex then came under constant monitoring by dozens of reporters seeking to uncover the connection between the landowner and Pana Wave -- and what they had to do with the seal, which in March evaded capture by a U.S.-based animal protection group that had received financial support from the landowner, Chino Shoho member Eitaro Moriya.

The owner of a clothing retail chain of 12 stores in Niigata Prefecture, the 66-year-old Moriya began building the cottages last October. He said they were intended as a place where he and his wife and sons could spend their summers.

He said he wanted the villas to serve as quiet second homes, but the media frenzy and local residents' fears over his connection with the group have stymied that plan.

As a senior follower of Chino Shoho, Moriya served as president of L.R. Publications in Tokyo, which has published books and magazines on messages by the cult's founder, Yuko Chino, 69.

"We can no longer go out to restaurants in this village, as people look at us as if we are potential criminals," Moriya said in an interview with The Japan Times. "What we believe and do may appear strange to the public, but why is it that a group that has not committed any crimes be subject to so much bashing?"

The roughly 40 members in the Pana Wave Laboratory caravan explained they were protecting Chino from electromagnetic waves and were moving from place to place to avoid them.

Moriya said the members dress in white from head to toe and drive white vehicles because this protects Chino from "persistent attacks by an unidentified enemy" armed with the "Scalar Wave," which they also call "extended electromagnetic waves."

Although Chino Shoho had no known connection with criminal activity, the cultists' radical attire and Chino's past doomsday messages meant it would not be long before the media associated it with Aum, whose members committed several heinous crimes, including the deadly 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system and a 1994 nerve gas attack.

'Aum in its early days'
At the beginning of May, Hidehiko Sato, chief of the National Police Agency, said Pana Wave's clothing and activities seem "fanatic" and resemble "Aum Shinrikyo in its early days."

The intense media coverage that dogged the group's every meandering move subsided once the Pana Wave caravan resettled at its headquarters in the city of Fukui in mid-May.

But Moriya said his business in Niigata suffered greatly after the local media featured photos and video footage of his shops there in their coverage of the cult.

"It has been more than a decade since our leader, Chino, began her exile, but (the caravan) previously had no trouble with the public or the media," Moriya said. "I came to realize it is the essence of the media business to raise public hysteria." [...]

UFOs, Satan, occult

In its publications, the group tries to explain scientifically Chino's spiritual teachings. These sometimes include science fiction touches, such as references to UFOs, mentions of Atlantis, the occult tastes, as seen in comments on Satan and doomsday, and references to the Bible.

After Chino reportedly fell ill in the early 1990s, the group established Pana Wave Laboratory in Fukui in 1994 to conduct "scientific research on the Scalar Wave." They believe electromagnetic waves are a key future energy source to replace fossil fuels and can be used as a weapon of mass-destruction, which, they claim, the United States and Russia have secretly developed as national projects.

Chino Shoho is also keen on conspiracy theories, claiming it has been attacked by communist agents and forces out to control the Scalar Wave.

It also runs an ultraconservative political organization and a mail-order firm for its members.
The strange combination of spiritualism, science fiction and political conservatism somehow coexist in the minds of the cultists, making it difficult for outsiders to share their views. The members said although their notions may appear strange, they are only exercising their freedom of thought and pose no threat to society. [...]

Comment: If you haven't already, you may want to check out Laura's article related to this topic.

'The presence of God'

In a small Tulare church, people cry, laugh, collapse: 'You just know it's him'

By Rick Elkins, and Laura Florez
Staff writers Teresa Douglass/Times-Delta

Cary and Barbara Armstrong of Alameda huddle at the foot of the altar Tuesday at Jubilee Christian Church in Tulare, where an "outpouring," a phenomenon in which people believe they feel the presence of God, has been occurring since April. "We came to meet with the Lord," Barbara Armstrong said. Teresa Douglass/Times-Delta
Pastor of Jubilee Christian Church Kenneth Bowman, 56, of Tulare raises his hands in prayer Tuesday. Bowman says he had a prophecy in September that God would visit his church.

TULARE -- Every night for the past eight weeks, between 50 and 100 people have come to a small church at the corner of G Street and Inyo Avenue.

They've come from Visalia, Tulare, Hanford, Fresno and Porterville -- and as far away as Iowa and England.
They say they've come to be in the presence of God.

Jubilee Christian Church pastor Ken Bowman says what is occurring at his church is not only difficult to understand, but hard to explain.

"It's really interesting," he said. "I've never been a part of anything like it."

People filter into the church every night. Once inside the sanctuary, they weep, fall to the ground, speak in tongues, laugh uncontrollably, kneel in prayer, sit quietly and some even sleep.

Laurel Le Gras of Visalia curled up Monday evening on one of the church's 17 wooden pews. Her eyes were closed and she wore a smile on her face, seemingly oblivious to the noisy environment around her.
Praise music filled the church. People's bodies were falling to the ground. A woman near her was grunting like an animal.

"I was resting in the Lord. I'm always conscious of what's going on around me," said Le Gras, who stayed at the church for several hours. "[His presence] is like a weight, you cannot stand up underneath it."

The word spread

All in all, hundreds have come to the small church, some several times.

And the Internet is spreading the word widely: A church in Kansas City is sending a prayer group, and Bowman got a call from a minister in the Philippines, he said.

Bob King of Farnsworth, England, heard via an e-mail from a friend in Oklahoma about the small church in Tulare.
"I knew I had to go, " said King, who described himself as a born-again Christian.

"When I walked into the church that first day I felt something special. I immediately felt the presence of God. You just know it's him," said King, who has returned every day and was joined in Tulare by his wife last week.

An answered prayer

Tim Vink, pastor of Tulare Community Church, says something special is definitely going on. He says God's coming to Tulare is something all pastors in town have prayed for a long time.

"It is an answer to prayer, for Him to visit our city in a special way," Vink said. "It's as unlikely for God to be at a small church in Tulare as for the son of God being born in a stable." [...]

Comment: One cult is labeled a cult and the other cult is labeled a religion...go figure

US may deport 'illegal' Muslims


WASHINGTON: More than 13,000 of the Arab and Muslim men, who came forward earlier this year to register with immigration authorities in the US -- roughly 16 per cent of the total -- may now face deportation.

Only a handful have been linked to terrorism. But of the 82,000 men who registered, more than 13,000 have been found to be living here illegally, officials say.

Many had hoped to win leniency by demonstrating their willingness to cooperate with the campaign against terror. However, officials believe that most will be expelled.

The government has initiated deportation proceedings, and an exodus has already begun. For decades, illegal immigrants have often flourished because officials lacked the staff, resources and political will to deport them. But since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the government has been detaining and deporting illegal immigrants from countries considered breeding grounds for terrorists.

Advocates for immigrants warn that such a strategy can be abused by government officials. They cite a recent internal Justice Department report that was deeply critical of the government’s roundup of illegal immigrants after September 11, 2001. Senior officials were found to have repeatedly ignored calls from immigration officials to distinguish between the innocent and guilty. [...]

Comment: Don't forget about Patriot Act II, which provides for the deportation of U.S. citizens if Mr. Ashcroft gives the word.

Putin signs bill ratifying arms reduction treaty with US


MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the ratification bill for a sweeping nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

The Treaty of Moscow, signed by Putin and US President George W Bush in May 2002, requires each country to reduce their nuclear arsenals by two-thirds, to 1,700 to 2,200 warheads, by 2012.

The US Senate ratified the treaty in March, but the Russian parliament postponed ratification because of Moscow's opposition to the US-led war in Iraq. Both houses of parliament finally approved the accord last month at Putin's urging, and Putin and Bush formally exchanged ratification documents at their summit on Sunday.

Critics of the agreement say it lacks teeth because it allows each country to stockpile warheads instead of destroying them. It also allows Russia to retain Soviet-built missiles equipped with multiple nuclear warheads. They were to be scrapped under the earlier START II arms reduction treaty, which Russia never ratified.

Comment: Meanwhile, Bush can't wait to get his hands on some mini-nukes.

MINNEAPOLIS: Downtown will fall under cameras' watchful scrutiny

Pioneer Press

Minneapolis police plan to install 20 to 30 crime-fighting surveillance cameras downtown next month with $250,000 given to the city by Target Corp.

It is apparently the first time police have installed permanent outdoor surveillance cameras in Minneapolis or St. Paul, although the practice has become increasingly common elsewhere, overcoming objections from civil libertarians.

North Korea Denounces U.S. 'Arms Buildup' in South

Sat June 7, 2003

SEOUL (Reuters) - Communist North Korea, suspected by the United States of developing nuclear weapons, on Sunday denounced a U.S. "arms buildup" in the South as a prelude to war and vowed to retaliate against any U.S. pre-emptive attack.

The warning came after South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi agreed on Saturday that any development of nuclear arms by North Korea would not be tolerated.

A Star Prepares to Blow Its Top
By David Tytell

Just off the familiar W shape of the constellation Cassiopeia glimmers 4th-magnitude Rho Cassiopeiae — a yellow-white hypergiant star probably about to undergo a new episode of eruption, fading, and mass ejection. Photo by Akira Fujii.

Keep an eye on Cassiopeia — it contains a naked-eye star that may brighten and dim dramatically in the coming months.

That was the message at a January press conference at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle. Alex J. R. Lobel and Andrea Dupree (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) both reported observations of the active hypergiant star Rho (r) Cassiopeiae, which is visible to the naked eye at magnitude 4.5. That it shines so brightly from 10,000 light-years away means that it must be huge. Rho Cas is about as hot as the Sun but roughly a million times more luminous, which makes it is so big that, if it replaced our Sun, its surface would lie beyond the orbit of Mars.

[...] "We know this star did an amazing thing," says Dupree. It may be poised to do so again. Keep watch.

And Finally...

Horses triumph again in race against humans

The annual 22-mile man versus horse race saw four legs once again triumph over two.

Some 30 horses and riders lined up against nearly 400 people and 50 relay teams in the contest in Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, mid Wales.

No human running alone has yet defeated a horse in the competition and hopes a single runner would triumph over equine opponents for the first time in more than 20 years were dashed again.

A never claimed prize, which increases by £1,000 every year, will stand at £25,000 for next year's race on June 12.

Horse Druimgiga Shemal, ridden by Robyn Petrie-Ritchie from Devon, won in two hours and two minutes, beating runner Mark Croasdale from Lancaster, the first human to cross the line in two hours and 17 minutes.

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