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June 27, 2003

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UN agency says nuclear find indicates Baghdad did not restart weapons program

Canadian Press
Thursday, June 26, 2003

VIENNA (AP) - Indirectly challenging a U.S. argument for war on Iraq, the UN atomic agency said Thursday that a find of parts from Baghdad's original nuclear weapons program appears to back its stance that the project had never been reactivated.

Comment: So all the innocent civilian deaths and the continuning brtualisation of the Iraqi people and deaths of soldiers? For what?.. If you are not VERY ANGRY then you are missing something very important.

Missiles: Return to Sender


[...]One awkward find was a cache of missiles that were made in the United States.[...]

Comment: "We know where [weapons of mass destruction] are," Donald Rumsfeld stated on March 30th. "They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad." Well, CNN is reporting PROGRESS in the search, meaning they are releasing some of those old documents the CIA "found" a few days ago. They even show a little photo of a, "blueprint for an upper centrifuge, which the CIA says is now in their possession." Just to be clear, it is the blueprint that is in their possesion not the, upper centrifuge.

House Rejects Deeper Probe on Iraqi Arms

By Ken Guggenheim The Associated Press Thursday 26 June 2003

WASHINGTON -- The House on Thursday rejected two attempts by Democratic lawmakers for additional inquiries into the handling of intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs.

Democrats sought to include the inquiries in a bill authorizing 2004 intelligence activities. That bill, whose details are mostly classified, was expected to be approved late Thursday or early Friday.

Democrats have questioned whether prewar intelligence was inaccurate or manipulated to back up President Bush's push for war. Republicans have said there is no sign of wrongdoing and have accused Democrats of raising the issue for political reasons.

Reviews of administration assertions of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction already under way by the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Senate Armed Services committees. But some Democrats said they don't go far enough.

An amendment proposed by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas to require the U.S. comptroller general to study U.S. intelligence-sharing with U.N. inspectors was defeated 239-185. [...]

Comment: "the land of the freeeeeeeeee, and the hoooooome of the braaaave"

Holy Farce! WMD Castor Beans Seized by Defense Department Office of Propaganda!

Once Again the Media Swallows the Farcical Bush Cartel WMD Stories Hook, Line and Castor Bean!

A Buzzflash reader commentary:

Stop the presses!!!! "The most promising find, yet, in the hunt for WMDs has been located", according to Meg Alexander of NBC's Oklahoma City affiliate, KFOR. An Iraqi scientist has shown our guys that he has items buried in his yard that could be used to produce the necessary equipment to produce a nuclear weapon and he has the instructions. I heard this same story yesterday on OETA, except PBS didn't take out the part about it having been buried prior to Desert Storm in 1991 and so deteriorated and out of date it is useless.

They found a large stash of castor beans, which according to Meg can be used to produce the toxin, ricin. Meg will assume that is what it positively will be used for because she intends to keep to the Bush program of scaring the daylights out of everyone in the USA. She will not under any circumstance research any other uses. If they found a ton of peaches, she and the Bush administration would never assume they were making jam and just broadcast that they were using the seeds to make arsenic[...]

Progress reported in Iraq weapons hunt

From David Ensor and Mike Boettcher
Friday, June 27, 2003 03:13 GMT

(CNN) -- U.S. personnel searching in Iraq for unconventional weapons and their components are making rapid progress and the world could expect surprises soon, the CIA's chief weapons inspector told CNN.

The progress is being made because key Iraqis are finally beginning to open up -- men like Dr. Mahdi Obeidi who turned over documents and parts of an Iraqi gas centrifuge system for developing nuclear weapons material.

Obeidi buried the materials beneath rose bushes in his back yard 12 years ago.

"My suspicions are that we'll find [things] in the chemical and biological areas. In fact, I think there may be some surprises coming rather quickly in that area," chief CIA weapons inspector David Kay told CNN over a secure teleconference between Baghdad and CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia.

Kay, who led three United Nations arms inspection missions in Iraq in 1991-92, declined to be more specific on what "surprises" might turn up.

U.S. officials said they were examining two large containers found in Iraq full of documents related to banned weapons. Officials said some documents instruct scientists how to conceal evidence of the weapons program from international inspectors. [...]

Comment: Apparently the instructions were: "Conceal gas centrifuge in shoe, or place on head pretending it is an Arabic hat"

Errors led to killing of soldiers, Army admits

From Stephen Farrell in Baghdad

The British Army has admitted that a series of errors led to Tuesday’s killings of six Royal Military Police in al-Majir.
Paratroopers entered the town, enraging local people who saw their presence as a breach of an agreement. They were plucked out by helicopter, unwittingly leaving the RMPs alone and unprotected in the police station. The RMPs summoned help by radio, but 45 minutes later they were dead.

Reg Keyes, the father of the youngest victim, wept last night as he spoke of his son’s death. He said: “It’s so tragic that such a fit, healthy handsome young man who was going to be 21 on Saturday should die at the hands of a howling mob. They didn’t give him a chance to defend himself.”

Comment: Blair should be tried for high treason, murder and war crimes.

Arrests as US troops 'abducted'

Guerrilla attacks are a new challenge to US troops

US forces have arrested three people as they conduct intensive searches for two American soldiers believed to have been abducted north of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. The two servicemen vanished with their vehicle, weapons and gear on Wednesday near the town of Balad. There was blood at the scene.

If confirmed, the abduction would mark yet another style of attack on the American and British forces occupying the country, says the BBC's Richard Galpin in Baghdad.

The incident is the latest in a growing wave of ambushes against US targets that have resulted in the deaths of more than 20 soldiers since May, when President George W Bush declared major combat operations in Iraq over.

In the latest incident, one American military policeman was killed while investigating a car theft near the southern town of Najaf on Thursday.

In the past two days alone, incidents have included:

Clashes south-west of the Iraqi capital leaving a US soldier dead and eight wounded

Assailants blowing up a US military vehicle with a roadside bomb

A rocket-propelled grenade attack on US vehicles travelling towards the airport, killing the Iraqi driver of a US vehicle.

Demolition of an oil pipeline

On Tuesday, six British military police were killed in southern Iraq after trouble erupted during weapons searches.

Iraqi villagers blame British soldiers' 'brutal' searches for massacre


FURROWING a pair of ornately tattooed eyebrows, Kumbula Kami told of the moment the British lost the battle for hearts and minds in the village of Abu Allah.

"They kicked their way through the door at five in the morning last Sunday," she said, waving an angry fist at the hut she shares with five other families. "They didn’t have translators with them so we had no idea why they were here, and the men soldiers rummaged through all my daughter’s clothing."

It was here, in the Shia shanty village of Abu Allah overlooking the Tigris, that the controversial weapons searches took place which eventually led to Tuesday’s bloody battle in the nearby town of al-Majar al-Kabir, in which six British Royal Military Policemen were killed. Yesterday, The Scotsman became the first newspaper to visit the village - and found a mixture of bewilderment, anger and regret.

According to the British, the reason for the raids was to hunt for .50 calibre machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. According to the residents, the only guns in the village are the Kalashnikovs and pistols. It seems to have been the manner of the searches which provoked fury. Villagers claim women were searched intimately, that money went missing and that the soldiers behaved rudely.

But the real flashpoint was over the sniffer dogs each team of Paratroopers brought. In a village where every household keeps several half-feral mongrels, it was pandemonium.

"As soon as they saw the British dogs every beast in the village began barking like mad," said Mohammad Aziz, 51. "My dog, Reddy, did the same and one of the officers got nervous and pointed his pistol at him. I said, ‘Please don’t shoot my dog’ and tried to get in the way, but then another soldier shot him twice. Why did they have to do that? Can’t the British understand that it upsets us?"

In the town of al-Majar al-Kabir, where the killings took place on Tuesday, there are as many different stories about what happened as there are people. Even the British military says the picture is confused. It was only yesterday that it disclosed that not one but two groups of soldiers had been involved.

One insider said: "It seems there was a misunderstanding. After the villagers protested about the searches, we think some agreement was made that they wouldn’t continue. But that wasn’t passed down the line and when some Paras just went on an ordinary patrol through the market on Tuesday, the locals thought they were searching for weapons again and got angry."

The Paras, it seems, fought their way out with the help of air support. But the six Royal Military Police, who were on a separate patrol, also became caught up in the trouble and were isolated from help.

Locals insisted that until last week, relations with the British had been excellent. However, there are signs of impatience that their new military masters have not yet improved living standards.

In Abu Allah, villagers quite literally scratch a living from the ground building houses from mud bricks and cooking with fires fuelled by cow dung.

"If they improved their electricity and water supplies, nobody would care about weapons," said Mrs Kami.

Comment: "I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators," Vice President Dick Cheney

U.S. Demands Ban on Hamas, Says Truce Not Enough

Fri June 27, 2003 12:05 AM ET
By Christine Hauser

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Palestinian militant groups said they were closer to an agreement to suspend attacks on Israelis, but the United States said a truce would not be enough to ensure Middle East peace.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said Thursday an announcement of a truce by the Hamas Islamic movement, Islamic Jihad and other groups was imminent. Militants said they expected to reach agreement on a truce within a few days.

But U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, due to hold talks with Israelis and Palestinians in the region this weekend, urged Arab and European Union states to cut off support for Hamas and outlaw it. [...]

President Bush said Wednesday a truce would not be enough and groups like Hamas should be dismantled if there were to be peace in the Middle East. [...]

Fierce clashes as Israeli troops move into southern Gaza

Friday June 27, 12:01 PM

Fierce clashes broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen after Israeli forces surrounded a house belonging to a member of the radical Hamas group in southern Gaza City, Palestinian medical sources and witnesses said.

More than 10 tanks backed by two helicopters, moved more than a kilometre into the southern Gaza district of al-Moraka, near Netzarim and surrounded the house of Hamas member Abu Ram al-Ghoul.

Local witnesses said the incursion took place after a large explosion rocked an Israeli tank in the area, but there were no further details to confirm or deny the report.

The two helicopters opened heavy machinegun fire on al-Ghoul's house, provoking a volley of fire from those inside the building, but shortly afterwards, troops placed explosives around the house, blowing it up, they said. [...]

Question time for the sultan of spin

Alastair Campbell will today face tough questions about his role in the 'dodgy dossiers' on Iraq's WMD. Ben Whitford explains the main charges

Wednesday June 25, 2003

Alastair Campbell, Downing Street's head of communications, is to face tough questions from the foreign affairs select committee this afternoon as he tries to lay to rest suggestions that he manipulated intelligence reports to exaggerate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons programme.

Dodgy dossiers Mr Campbell has been accused of "sexing up" the government's September dossier on the threat posed by Iraq, which had been approved by the joint intelligence committee (JIC). The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, admitted yesterday that revisions had been made to the report by special advisers, but said that the overall assessment of risk had not been changed.

Mr Campbell will also face claims that he played a key role in the manipulation of intelligence during the production of February's "dodgy dossier" on Iraq's weapons programme. Mr Campbell commissioned and coordinated the production of the dossier, which Mr Straw said yesterday should never have been published. [...]

Tories back in the lead after 11 years

By George Jones, Political Editor and Pav Akhtar

The Conservatives have moved into the lead in the opinion polls, bringing to an end the record dominance that Labour has enjoyed for more than a decade.
A YouGov poll for The Telegraph today gives the Tories a two-point advantage over Labour, capping the worst three weeks Tony Blair has experienced since becoming Prime Minister.

Apart from a temporary "blip" during the fuel crisis of September 2000, Labour has led the Tories since the autumn of 1992 - a total of 128 consecutive months.
The Conservatives have nudged ahead after a series of polls have shown the gap narrowing since Mr Blair became embroiled in the row over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

British Government Takes Gloves Off in BBC Battle

Thu June 26, 2003
By Katherine Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government, locked in a battle with the BBC over a claim officials doctored intelligence on Iraq, challenged the state broadcaster on Thursday to answer questions on its reporting standards.

Alastair Campbell, Prime Minister Tony Blair's communications supremo, has been accused by the British Broadcasting Corporation of "sexing up" a dossier on Iraq's weapons that helped build the case for war.

But Campbell, who in turn has accused the BBC of biased reporting on Iraq and of slandering his name, gave the BBC until the end of Thursday to respond to more than a dozen questions about the allegation and its general working practices.

Blair's office has weighed in on Campbell's side but refuses to say what action it will take if the BBC fails, in its words, to "set the record straight."

"A highly damaging allegation was made that went right to the heart of the integrity of the government on a very important issue," Blair's spokesman said on Thursday [...]

Comment: Government integrity? Kind of a contradiction in terms ain't it?

Oil deal seals Blair-Putin pact


TONY BLAIR prepared Britain for a new era of oil trade with Russia, arguing that the gap which will soon be left by the North Sea’s dwindling reserves may be filled by imports from the Caspian Sea.

The Prime Minister used his offer while forging a post-war rapprochement with Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, who was in London yesterday on the third day of his state visit to the UK.

For his part, Mr Putin said he has reached "closure" over Iraq - and was now looking at ways where Russia and Britain could work together helping to reconstruct the country.

Mr Putin’s visit - the first by a serving Russian premier since 1874 - was marked by signing of an agreement to build a major oil pipeline under the Baltic Sea. The £4 billion project would be masterminded by Gazprom, the Russian state energy firm, and would connect Britain to the Russia Sea oilfield via northern Germany.

Mr Blair said the deal was borne of necessity - and noted that Russia contains just under a third of world oil reserves. "For Britain, at present we more or less break even on importing, exporting energy," the Prime Minister said.

Bush tells Liberian leader to go

Civilian casualties are mounting daily

Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 22:47 GMT

US President George W Bush has called on Liberian leader Charles Taylor to quit, as government and rebel forces continue to battle for control of the capital, Monrovia.
"President Taylor needs to step down, so that his country can be spared further bloodshed," Mr Bush said in Washington.

He added that the US supported peace talks - from which the rebels which pulled out on Tuesday.

The Liberian Government welcomed Mr Bush's call for talks, and said President Taylor had already offered to step aside for a transitional government.

However BBC West Africa correspondent Paul Welsh said the offer included all sorts of ifs and buts.

The government insists that Mr Taylor cannot step aside before the end of his term in January - and only if war crimes charges against him are dropped. [...]

Liberians urge US to halt war after shelling kills nine civilians

By Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia
27 June 2003

Angry crowds laid the bodies of shelling victims in front of the American embassy in Monrovia yesterday and accused the United States of failing to protect Liberians from fighting in the capital.

Peter Coleman, the Health Minister, said that between 200 and 300 civilians had been killed and 1,000 wounded in the three-day push by rebels to take the capital and oust President Charles Taylor.

Families placed seven of the dead - four children, two women and a man - in front of the heavily guarded embassy. A large crowd gathered and shouted at US Marines to intervene to stop the war. [...]

Officials in Washington said talks on a more active US role were under way. The United Nations Security Council was expected to make Liberia a focus of a nine-day west Africa mission, which opened yesterday in Guinea-Bissau. [...]

U.N. Extends Congo Peacekeeping Mission

By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer
June 27, 2003

UNITED NATIONS - Saying it was "deeply concerned" about fighting in Congo, the Security Council on Thursday extended the U.N. peacekeeping force in the central African nation through the end of July while council diplomats consider a proposal to make the force even stronger.

The resolution, which was adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council, renewed the mandate for a month, noting a recommendation by Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) to prolong the mission for a year and to increase the number of troops from 8,700 to 10,800.

"Some members of the council said that they would prefer to study the recommendations in more depth and everybody agreed that this time should be given," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov, whose country holds the rotating council presidency, told reporters.

France and many African nations are backing Annan's call for a larger U.N. peacekeeping force with a more robust mandate, but the United States appears reluctant to agree. [...]

Bush Calls for Changes in Africa to End Wars and Promote Trade


WASHINGTON, June 26 — President Bush outlined an ambitious agenda today for advancing peace and prosperity in Africa. He demanded that Liberia's leader step down to avert further bloodshed in his country, called for a change of government in Zimbabwe and for the dispatching of an envoy to broker an end to the long civil war in Sudan.

Speaking to a group of African leaders, business executives and investors here, Mr. Bush also pledged $100 million to help Kenya and other countries fight terrorism and made a case for expanded trade as the most powerful engine for fighting poverty on the continent.

Mr. Bush is to leave in 11 days on his first trip as president to sub-Saharan Africa, and his speech today was his most expansive statement of policy on the continent to date. It was particularly striking for his blunt calls for change in nations that have been wracked by violence.

Among them was Liberia, where there has been heavy fighting between rebels and forces loyal to President Charles Taylor, who has been indicted on war crimes charges in a court run jointly by the neighboring nation of Sierra Leone and the United Nations.

"President Taylor needs to step down," Mr. Bush said, "so that his country can be spared further bloodshed."

But he gave no indication that he would respond to calls from people in Liberia to send American troops to stop the fighting there, which has intensified in recent days after Mr. Taylor reversed a promise earlier this month to yield power as part of a cease-fire agreement.

Mr. Bush made clear his willingness to use the diplomatic influence of the United States in an effort to transform some of Africa's worst battlegrounds, including Liberia, Sudan and Congo, but he suggested that he would not seek to exert power unilaterally. He called on regional governments and pan-African organizations to end a "cycle of attack and escalation" among the warring parties and build effective peacekeeping forces.

"It is Africans who will overcome these problems," Mr. Bush said. "Yet the United States of America and other nations will stand beside them." [...]

Teachers get preliminary OK to carry weapons

Ronnie Lynn

The Jordan School Board gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a policy outlining the conditions under which district employees may carry a concealed weapon on school property with a valid permit.

Employees must keep the weapon concealed and employees who legally use a concealed weapon on school grounds do so in their individual capacities, not their scope of employment.

The Jordan board will formally vote on the policy at its July 16 meeting.

Both policies are in response to a law passed during the 2003 legislative session, Senate Bill 108, that harmonized conflicting parts of state code. One section allowed concealed weapons on school campuses, while another prohibited it.

Also Tuesday, the board agreed to consider a policy that would not allow student travel overseas, to Canada or to Mexico unless a principal can demonstrate "the absolute necessity of the travel and that all appropriate safety considerations have been addressed."

"I would hate to see students lose an opportunity because the policy is so rigid," said David Stoddard, the district's administrator who wrote the policy. The travel policy also will be up for a formal vote at the July 16 meeting.

Comment: With a false sense of "terrorism" spreading like a virus among the minds of the American people, the majority of parents probably won't even bat an eyelash that their kid's teacher might be packing a gun. How long before we see a news story where a youngster is shot in "self defense" or a story where a youngster somehow commandere's a district employees gun?

I Don't Care if You're the Richest Guy in the World

Thu Jun 26 2003

Billionaire Bill Gates learned the hard way that the Secret Service means business when it comes to checking identification at the White House gates, ROLL CALL reports.

Gates showed up at the White House on Wednesday afternoon for a substantive meeting with Homeland Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge. But when he was asked to produce some ID, Gates said he had left it in a vehicle parked nearby.

While HOH has to assume that the Secret Service officers recognized the founder of Microsoft, they refused to let Gates in. So he had to cool his heels as Microsoft's chief lobbyist, Jack Krumholtz, rushed back to the car to get the ID.

Fortunately for Gates, it took Krumholtz only about 60 seconds to retrieve the wallet, so the big shot didn't have to suffer too long in Washington's 95-degree heat.

"It's like that VISA commercial," one insider explained to ROLL CALL's Ed Henry, about the spot featuring various celebrities who aren't allowed to cash a check without some ID.

Gates eventually made it past the gates for his meeting with Ridge. And then, with his ID presumably in his pocket, the billionaire huddled with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to discuss tech policy.

Comment: I wonder what they talked about behind closed undoubtedly wasn't about raising taxes on high income earners...

Gates v Orwell:

Security needn’t mean a Big Brother state "This technology can make our country more secure and prevent the nightmare vision of George Orwell at the same time"

Thu 26 June 2003

On the 100th anniversary of George Orwell's birth, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said the author of 1984 was only partially correct and predicted that technology will help preserve privacy rights.

Gates told a homeland security conference on Wednesday afternoon that Orwell's dystopian vision of the future, in which Big Brother used technology as a form of social control, "didn't come true, and I don't believe it will".

Microsoft's chief software architect used his appearance in Washington to stress his company's willingness to work with the federal government on combating terrorism and to tout his company's Trustworthy Computing initiative and its controversial "next-generation secure computing base", a project previously known as Palladium.

"We're working with a variety of hardware and software partners to provide this level of protection against future viruses, threats from hackers or anyone seeking to acquire personal information or digital property with malicious intent," Gates said.

"This technology can make our country more secure and prevent the nightmare vision of George Orwell at the same time," Gates said. "Orwell didn't anticipate how technology can be used to protect privacy. The fact that technology can protect both security and privacy by protecting the computer systems and the information on them is a positive thing."

Orwell, the British author whose works include Animal Farm, 1984 and the essay Politics and the English Language was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair. He was born in India on June 25, 1903 and rose to prominence as one of the 20th century's most influential authors as a result of his biting critiques of totalitarianism.

Gates' remarks, to a conference organised by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Information Technology Industry Council, come as the nation's capital is weighing anti-terrorism concerns against privacy and other civil liberties. The US Department of Justice has drafted a legislative proposal asking for more surveillance powers, while congressional scrutiny of the Pentagon's Terrorist Information Awareness (TIA) initiative is increasing.

Without taking a stand on the TIA system, which previously was called Total Information Awareness, Gates applauded increased information sharing between government agencies. He cited current law enforcement efforts to share criminal databases but predicted that "unless this system is properly connected to the entire Homeland Security command structure, the potential will not be fully realised".

"We're proud to be involved in the effort to connect a significant portion of the federal homeland security community into a national information-sharing and intelligence-analysis network," Gates said.

In President Bush's State of the Union address in January, he described a forthcoming government database - called the Terrorist Threat Integration Center - that would compile information from all federal agencies and the private sector on people deemed possible terrorist threats.

John Hamre, president of CSIS and a former deputy secretary of defense, defended TIA in an afternoon speech that followed Gates' remarks. "I think we need a domestic surveillance organisation in this country... I think they're really on to something," he said, talking about Admiral John Poindexter's plans to create the TIA system.

Hamre said that critics of TIA, who have worried that it may lead to the creation of a computerised dossier on every American, are misinformed. "They've engineered privacy into it... We need people to shoulder their honest responsibilities for oversight."

Comment: Domestic survellience equates to the "Big Brother" concept. And there is Gates applauding "law enforcement" agencies' pooling of information, and he thinks it should be "properly connected" to Homeland Security. Guess who's technology he'll push as the best solution to do the connecting? That's a no brainer. Microsoft's plans to implement it's Palladium technology, now called Next Generation Secure Computer Base (NGSCB), which is a "security system" embedded into the motherboard of computers. And soon, every PC made will contain NGSCB, courtesy of Bill Gates.

Why Bush Ignores the Numbers

Huck Gutman
June 26, 2003
the Rutland Herald

Figures about the American economy give some people headaches. Recognizing this, President Bush would rather talk about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — which have never been found — than about what is happening to most Americans. Of course, he also knows that talking about statistics would reveal that the two rounds of tax cuts he has pushed through Congress will have disastrous consequences for an America already growing more unequal.

Recently, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez published a path-breaking study on the income earned by the wealthiest Americans over the course of the 20th century. Their exhaustive analysis of tax returns shows that between the start of World War II and the early 1980s, America became a more economically egalitarian society. The share of wealth which went to the wealthiest citizens declined in the early 1940s and stayed low for 40 years, years characterized by the rise of the great American middle class.

In 1915, before the establishment of the income tax, the very wealthiest families earned 400 times as much as the average family. The income tax leveled that out, so that by 1970 those families earned just 50 times as much as the average. But by 1998 that egalitarian trend had been dramatically reversed: the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent now earned 250 times the average.

The rise in income inequality started with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. In simple non-statistical terms, the rich not only grew richer, they were served larger and larger slices of the American economic pie. Almost all the nation’s economic gains went to the richest 1 percent of American families. The top 1 percent, those earning over $230,000, saw gains of 78 percent in their income share. The top half percent, that half million families earning over $524,000, saw their income share double. The top tenth of 1 percent, those earning over $1.5 million, got almost three times as large a slice of the pie. And the top one-tenth of 1 percent, America’s richest 13,000 families? Their income share went up 395 percent, a helping of the pie almost four times as large as 20 years earlier.

Unhappily, the American pie did not grow nearly as rapidly as the divisions. The average annual salary in America, in 1998 dollars, rose only 10 percent in 29 years, from $32,522 in 1970 to $35,864 four years ago. (Since then, in the past two years alone, the United States has lost more 2 million decently paying manufacturing jobs, more than 10 percent of all the manufacturing jobs available when our current president took office.)

What this means is that while the rich have been growing considerably richer, the great majority of Americans have seen either decline, or little change, in their status.

President Bush’s answer to this growing inequality? He has declared class war: He doesn’t want the wealthy just to have larger slices, he wants them to have most of the pie. He wants to abolish the equalizing mechanisms of the income tax, so that economic advantage can be even more unequally distributed.

His 2001 tax cut gave over half its future benefits to the richest 1 percent of Americans. The poorest 20 percent got only $10 a year in tax breaks, while the wealthiest 1 percent got over $50,000 a year.

That wasn’t enough. In his recently approved tax cut, President Bush gave 37 percent of the new round of cuts to the wealthiest 1 percent — and no tax cut at all to 50 million families, 36 percent of all households.

The figures may give some headaches, but that is exactly, precisely, the wrong direction to be going.

Huck Gutman is a professor of English at the University of Vermont.

Comment: The Bush Reich's "war on terror" is *extremely* costly, and we're all footing the bill heavily. For example, Tuesday the US Congress passed a new Act which stipulates for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2004, the US has budgeted megabucks for "homeland security" purposes: $3,679,200,000 for airport security, $4,584,600,000 for customs and border protection, $2,030,000,000 for immigration and customs enforcement, $3,503,000,000 for domestic preparedness, $5,593,000,000 for biodefense countermeasures ... and that's just the tip of the iceburg on "homeland security" spending, all in the name of fabricated "terrorism."

An American Empire Built on Deception

Published on Thursday, June 26, 2003 by the Boston Globe by Ellen Goodman

LAST MONTH, when President Bush donned his coronation clothes and landed on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln, I felt like the skunk at the victory party. I went around asking the partygoers: Where were the weapons of mass destruction?

What bothered me wasn't just whether we'd find the weapons we were warned about with such terrifying, repetitive certainty. The question was whether it would matter.

Would the American people care if they'd been conned into conflict? I was haunted by a congressional aide who said the absence of the smoking guns of WMDs wouldn't ''sway public opinion much,'' because ''everyone loves to be on the winning side.''

The column on the con job filled my e-mail box with hundreds of incoming missives that ranged from an accountant who protested my ''whiny screed'' - ''Get over it. You lost. We won.'' - to a Californian who rued the ''outrage fatigue'' dulling the public's mind.

Since then the Search for the WMDs has become the subject of O.J. Simpson jokes and milk carton images as well as some solid reporting. The president has switched seamlessly from proclaiming certainty about the weapons to certainty about the weapons programs. There's now a congressional inquiry asking whether the intelligence community offered faulty ingredients or the executive chef cooked up a recipe for war.

But public opinion has yet to sway in this breeze. For openers, the most recent Washington Post/ABC poll reports that 24 percent of Americans thought the Iraqis did use chemical and biological weapons in the war and another 14 percent weren't sure. That's better than an earlier poll that showed half of all Americans falsely believing the Iraqis were among the 19 hijackers, but it's still fairly startling.

More to the point, two-thirds of those in the current poll still believed the war was justified even if we didn't find weapons of mass destruction. Maybe they love to be on the winning side, maybe they're happy to see one dictator bite the dust. But they think it was, in short, justified even if the justification wasn't just.

I have had trouble believing there are no WMDs, and we may find evidence more compelling than a couple of broken-down trailers dubbed as mobile labs. But we haven't found the ''thousands of tons of chemical agents'' or the ''massive stockpile of biological weapons,'' and the imminent threat of nukes turned out to be a scam.

As this becomes apparent, a lot of folks are busily parsing the difference between a lie and an exaggeration, a spinmeister and a fabricator. But by any definition, the script for a preventive war of preemptive self-defense was a craftily designed White House sales pitch.

So we don't know whether there are WMDs. But more important, we still don't know the real reasons why Bush went to war and why he thought those reasons wouldn't ''sell.''

Did we launch this war, as one pro-war e-mailer boasted, to ''flex our muscles''? To tell the post-9/11 world not to screw around with a superpower? To rid the world of Saddam Hussein and gamble that democracy will come up on the dice, not fundamentalism? Was it for oil? Revenge? All of the above?

The real lie is that the administration didn't (dare?) make its essential case for war. And the real shame is not that we were conned but that, so far, we don't mind.

''As one who meanders around the middle on most issues,'' writes a St. Paul woman, ''I am as disgusted with the hypocrisy of the right as with the gutlessness of the left.'' Writes a Santa Monica, Calif., reader, ''Why is everybody being so freaking nice about it?''

A generation ago, ''Nightline'' began its tenure with each show announcing that it was Day 12 or Day 120 in the Iran hostage crisis. Where is the network today that would track Day 75 in the Search for WMDs? Where is the Democratic candidate who would adopt this admittedly high-risk strategy? Where is the member of the White House team - memo to Colin Powell? - willing to resign in protest over being misled into misleading?

Instead the president draws yet another link between 9/11 and Iraq, telling $4 million worth of donors in New York Monday night that ''terrorists declared war on the United States of America, and war is what they got.'' And he gets away with it.

It's being said that this war marked the beginning of the American Empire in our relationship to the world. How about domestically? An empire doesn't have citizens, it has subjects. Subjects don't expect to challenge the emperor or even to be told the facts.

This New American Empire begins at home. The famous flight suit may end up at the Smithsonian as the emperor's new clothes.


Shot forced on newborn over parents' objections -
Orwellian nightmare for 'persecuted' couple as armed guards ensure infant's vaccination

By Diana Lynne

What was supposed to be a joyous occasion - the birth of their first child - turned out to be an Orwellian nightmare for a young Colorado couple whose newborn was vaccinated for hepatitis B over their religious and philosophical objections, while armed guards stood by to prevent them from intervening.

"It makes me feel like the country I live in is no better than communist China or the old Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, and that's a very sobering and scary outlook," the father, who does not want to be named, told WorldNetDaily. [...]

Report on Oakland High students and the Secret Service

by Sarah Olson
San Francisco Independent Media

2 Oakland High School students alleged to have said "Bush is whack" were interrogated by the Secret Service separately for over an hour on 2April 03. The students, who are of South East Asian dissent, were questioned without the presence of a lawyer. Authorities at the school or the Secret Service did not notify their parents for nearly two weeks. The students claim that Secret Service threatened them and their entire families with deportation and prison time. [...]

Blinded by Hate? Delivery Man Beaten When He Was Mistaken for a Muslim, Police Say

The Associated Press

BOSTON, June 26— Two men are facing hate crime and other charges for allegedly beating a pizza delivery man they intended to rob because they thought he was Muslim.

Two other men police say were also involved in the attack could also face charges of civil rights violations, Fairhaven police Chief Gary F. Souza said.

Saurabh Bhalerao, 24, a Hindu from India and a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth was beaten, burned with cigarettes, hogtied, gagged and ultimately stabbed after delivering a pizza to a New Bedford, Mass., address late Sunday night, Souza said.

The suspects originally intended to rob Bhalerao, but escalated their assault when they thought he was Muslim, then continued to beat him as he tried to explain that he was Hindu, the chief said.

"He pleaded with his attackers," Souza said. "They were using disparaging remarks … and telling him he should go back to Iraq."

The suspects put the victim into the trunk of his own car and drove to Fairhaven. During the drive, Bhalerao managed to loosen his ropes. When the vehicle stopped he emerged from the trunk and hit one of his assailants on the chin with a hammer. The assailant then stabbed Bhalerao before fleeing, police said.

The victim, who also suffered a broken jaw, was taken to Rhode Island Hospital where he was listed in fair condition on Wednesday night a hospital spokeswoman said.

Three people have been arrested and police are seeking a fourth. [...]

Anti-Muslim vandalism reported at Houston mosque

By S.K. BARDWELL Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

Officials of the Council on American-Islamic Relations believe vandalism at a west Houston mosque over the past week is anti-Muslim in nature.

CAIR officials said today that during prayer services on June 20, air conditioning at Masjid Al-Farouq on I-10 West near the Sam Houston Parkway was turned off at an outside source.

Five days later, the same thing happened at the Islamic school on the same property as the mosque, officials said. CAIR officials said that today lettering on the mosque's sign was crossed out and replaced with "USA."

All three incidents are under investigation.

Fire that destroyed Easton church determined to be arson

Associated Press

EASTON, Pa. - A fire that destroyed the 161-year-old Second Baptist Church last weekend has been ruled an arson.

The fire started in two locations, one on the first floor and one in the basement, according to fire investigators. Although no liquid accelerants were found at the site, the fact that the fire started at two points indicates it was arson, Deputy Easton Fire Chief Terry Foulk said.

The blaze started around 2 a.m. Saturday, quickly engulfing the church and severely damaging four nearby homes, two of which must be torn down.

The church's pastor said the church, which has a largely black congregation, had not received any threats.

"We got along good with everybody around us," the Rev. Clarence M. Clark said.

Easton police were unavailable for comment Thursday night.

Sci Fi channel promotes UFO probe


The Sci Fi Channel is campaigning to persuade the US government to be more forthcoming and aggressive in investigating UFO sightings.

The television network has hired a Washington lobbyist, received support from John Podesta, a former chief of staff for Bill Clinton, and sponsored a symposium on interstellar travel.

The network will premiere a documentary, Out of the Blue, on Tuesday that methodically lays out an argument that there is something out there.

“It is very, very tough for people to take this subject seriously,” said Ed Rothschild, a lobbyist for the Washington firm PodestaMattoon.

“We thought the only way it was going to be seriously addressed is to have serious people talk about it, scientists.”

Comment: Interesting that this is being handled by Rothschild and his government PR company Should we expect some "revelations" soon?...

Bush backs alien evidence


George W Bush says there is mounting evidence to suggest there is alien life on other planets.

The US President used his budget document to declare that there may be "space aliens" to be discovered.

A passage entitled, "Where are the Real Space Aliens?", states that important scientific research over the last 10 years indicates that proof of "habitable worlds" in outer space is becoming more of a reality. [...]

The document says: "Perhaps the notion that 'there's something out there' is closer to reality than we have imagined."

Comment: "Space Aliens"?!!!? Did they take this document from a 1950's B-movie script? We realise that we should probably leave the funny comments on this one alone since they are just too easy.

Check out this article regarding NASA using American's hard earned money to study " astrobiology", in which they will tell you how they are "putting the 'astro' in astrobiology." Check out the list of contributing institutions to this project. This gets a big press release, meanwhile a serious researcher like William Bramely and his book Gods of Eden is sold in the new age section with a cheesy cover.

NASA To Launch Glowing Night Clouds

By Alan M. MacRobert
Sky & Telescope

If you see weird glowing clouds expanding in a clear sky over the US Eastern Seaboard tonight or in the next few nights, relax. They're not UFO exhaust or a terrorist plot. They are a luminous chemical released by NASA as part of an experiment to trace winds in the Earth's ionosphere. If conditions for the experiment are poor tonight (as they have been for the last few nights in a row), the launches will be rescheduled for tomorrow night, or the next, up to as late as July 10th.

Texas woman guilty of murder in windshield death

Jun. 26, 2003. 03:01 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A jury took less than an hour today to convict a former nurse's aide of murder for hitting a homeless man with her car, driving home with his mangled body lodged in the windshield and leaving him to die in her garage.

Chante Jawan Mallard, 27, looked down and silently cried as the judge read the jury's verdict. It took them only 50 minutes to make their decision. [...]

Comment: Sound like something someone you know might do? Check out our articles on Psychopathy

Towards An AIDS Vaccine: Unusual Antibody That Targets HIV Described By Scientists At TSRI

Comment: More propaganda in the "one germ causes the whole problem" style. Vaccines do not work for viruses. Just in case you weren't worried about disease enough there is a study released that traces global spread of virulent Dengue Virus to U.S. doorstep.

British Scientists Suggest a Pill for What Ails the Heart


Two British scientists have proposed a radical strategy for preventing cardiovascular disease: a daily pill that would be prescribed to everyone over the age of 55, regardless of their risk of heart attack or stroke.

The yet-to-be-created "polypill," as the scientists call it in a paper published today in the British Medical Journal, would contain six different drugs: a cholesterol-lowering statin; three kinds of blood pressure medications; folic acid, to reduce homocysteine, which is thought to be a risk factor for heart disease, and aspirin, which can help prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries. [...]


By Bruce Smith

SADISTIC animal attacks around Leeds - which could be connected to pagan rituals - are being investigated by detectives.

Terrorism panic goes too far at Area 51

Inca may have used knot computer code to bind empire

By Steve Connor
The Independent

[...] a leading scholar of South American antiquity believes the Inca did have a form of non-verbal communication written in an encoded language similar to the binary code of today's computers. Gary Urton, professor of anthropology at Harvard University, has re-analysed the complicated knotted strings of the Inca - decorative objects called khipu - and found they contain a seven-bit binary code capable of conveying more than 1,500 separate units of information. [...]

And Finally...

Dutch judge sentences and fines dead man
11:17 Friday 27th June 2003

A judge in Holland has sentenced a dead man to 240 hours community service and fined him £19,000 for theft. [...]


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