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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

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New Article: Jupiter, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and the Return of the Mongols - Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12

Picture of the Day

Food for the Moon
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

In attempting to understand the truth about current events on our planet, it is high time that we all indulged in some logical unemotional thinking. So let's get to the core issue. Terrorists and Terrorism. Who and what are they?

Despite the deliberate and repeated campaign to convince the global population, particularly people in western countries, that terrorism is a relatively new phenomena and that it is a "black and white" issue, the truth of the matter is, as usual, rather more complicated. By now, the majority of American citizens have been more or less convinced that "terrorism" is purely the domain of crazed Islamic, and therefore Arab, groups. Right here we see the first problem. Arabs are an ethnic group, not a religious group. There are a good number of Arabs that are members of other religions, so for the American chicken hawks to attempt to convince the population that there is no difference and that the current "war on terror" is essentially a religious war, is an attempt at mass manipulation and an outright lie. (Remember lying? Leaders do it, all the time.)

Terrorism is as old as the hills, and as the saying goes, one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist, it's all a matter of perspective and which side of the fence you happen to live on. For example, imagine for a second that a foreign nation invaded the US and more or less subdued it by force of arms. In such a scenario it would not be surprising to hear that the millions of gun owners in the US would use those guns to defend themselves against the invading/occupying army. In such a case, would this make them terrorists? Certainly they would be from the invading army's point of view, they might even call them "insurgents" or "militants". If any of our US readers are gun owners, we ask you; would you use your gun against a foreign invading army that used heavy handed tactics that resulted in the deaths of US civilians? In the case that you use your "democratic right" to bear arms, would you consider it fair and balanced that you be demonised as an illegal and unlawful "terrorist"?

The recent fighting in the Iraqi town of Falluja, has, by all accounts, resulted in the deaths of 700 people so far, many of them civilians. Iraq has 26 million inhabitants. The US has 300 million. If the events that transpired in Falluja were to happen in a US city the equivalent number of American dead would total 7,500, many of them unarmed civilian men, women and children, and this is just one city. How would you feel about this? Would you be happy that the international community was calling the dead women and children "terrorists"?

Of course, the above is a hypothetical scenario designed to provoke some abstract, objective thinking among our readers. It is not meant to suggest that we espouse the use of arms - we don't - ever.

It seems to be true then that a "terrorist" organisation is only "terrorist" when it is defined as such by those in power and when the "terrorist" agenda opposes that of the state. This is as true as the oft quoted phrase "history is written by the victors".

Back to the point. "Old Europe" is a little more skeptical than "new America" of the US-Israel lead "war on terror", and with good reason. Many European countries have experience of grass roots "terrorist" organisations - the IRA in Ireland, ETA in Spain, Breton and Corsican separatists in France, Chechen rebels in Russia etc. The point about all of these groups, and pretty much every real "terrorist" organisation, is that they invariably have a reason for their existence and activities - be it civil rights, independence from colonialism, or any number of other sociopolitical goals - which, when viewed objectively, makes at least some sense.

The typical goals pursued by real "terrorist" organisations stand in stark contrast to the stated goals of the mythical al-Qaeda and the other new born fundamentalist Islamic groups who, according to the White House, have no motive for their actions other than simple hatred for the American way of life. If we persist in our logical objective analysis of the situation, we see that from this perspective, al-Qaeda must go down as one of the most inept "terrorist" organisations in history. While the actions of groups like the IRA and ETA have made at least some progress towards their goals, we see that the actions of al-Qaeda have achieved almost exactly the opposite of their stated goals. "They hate Americans because of the American way of life", we are told, yet we see that Al-qaeda's actions have in fact resulted in a sharp rise in American war mongering and patriotic sentiment. What gives?

Some would have us believe that al-Qaeda sees the US as "the great satan" and desires to curb US military domination of the globe, and that this is the reason for their "terrorism". But if this is true, how do we explain the fact that the attacks that al-Qaeda has allegedly carried out have increased US militarisation and provided justification for further US military rampages around the world?

In their attempts to spread xenophobia and stoke the fires of religious and ethnic hatred, some Pentagon officials have also claimed that al-Qaeda is motivated by a desire to protect Islamic Arabs and spread the Moslem faith. Sounds reasonable for sure, but what is completely unreasonable and perplexing is that the alleged actions of al-Qaeda have done more to facilitate the further persecution of both Arabs and Islamic adherents at the hands of Christian crusaders like Bush and Co. than any other factor in recent years.

5,000 Afghan civilians dead, 12,000 Iraqi civilians dead and mounting, a sharp increase in the persecution of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army. Infringement on Moslem (and other) religious practices in several countries. What kind of Arab freedom fighter is this Bin Laden??

Looking at the results then that these unlikely "Arab terrorists" have wrought, we must ask ourselves, whose agenda is al-Qaeda serving? Who really has benefited from their actions? Of course, the picture becomes a lot clearer when we realise that the US and Israeli government have for many years "dreamed" of invading and taking control of the Middle East and it's resources and subduing it's people. Far from being the defenders of Arabs and Islam, it appears that Bin Laden and al-Qaeda are playing a central role in making the NeoCon/"Zionist" dream a reality. We really do need to ask ourselves, whose agenda was served by the "terrorist" attacks on 9/11 and everything that has resulted, and who in fact are the real terrorists.

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A Perfectly Good Train Wreck

By William Rivers Pitt
Monday 12 April 2004

"FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York. The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the U.A.E. in May saying that a group of bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives."

- President's Daily Brief, August 6 2001

Michael Speer, 24, of Iowa. Elias Torrez III, 21, of Texas. Matthew Matula, 20, of Texas. Felix Delgreco, 22, of Connecticut. Levi Angell, 20, of Minnesota. Joshua Palmer, 25, of California. Michael Wafford, 20, of Texas. Nicholas Dieruf, 21, of Kentucky. Christopher Wasser, 21, of Kansas. William Harrell, 30, of California. Christopher Mabry, 19, of Mississippi. Jonathan Kephart, 21, of Pennsylvania. Isaac Michael Nieves, 20, of New York. Lee Todacheene, 29, of New Mexico. Fernando Mendezaceves, 27, of Puerto Rico. William Labadie Jr., 45, of Arkansas. Marvin Miller, 38, of North Carolina. Brent Morel, 27, of Tennessee. John Wroblewski, 25, of New Jersey. Scott Larson Jr., 22, of Texas. George Rentschler, 31, of Kentucky. Shane Goldman, 20, Texas. Tyanna Felder, 22, of Connecticut. Marcus Cherry, 18, of California. Benjamin Carman, 20, of Iowa. Kyle Crowley, 18, of California. Allan Walker, 28, of California. Christopher Cobb, 19, of Florida. Ryan Jerabek, 18, of Wisconsin. Moises Langhorst, 19, of Minnesota. Travis Layfield, 19, of California. Anthony Roberts, 18, of Delaware. Deryk Hallal, 24, of Indiana. Christopher Ramos, 26, of New Mexico. Jesse Thiry, 23, of Wisconsin. Michael Mitchell, 25, of California. Yihjyh Chen, 31, of Marianas Protectorate. Robert Arsiaga, 25, of Texas. Stephen Hiller, 25, of Alabama. Ahmed Cason, 24, of Alabama. Israel Garza, 25, of Texas. Forest Jostes, 22, of Illinois. Casey Sheehan, 24, of California. Gerardo Moreno, 23, of Texas. David McKeever, 25, of New York. Matthew Serio, 21, of Rhode Island. Tyler Fey, 22, of Minnesota. Emad Mikha, 44, of Michigan. Aric Barr, 22, of Pennsylvania. Geoffery Morris, 19, of Illinois. Philip Rogers, 23, of Oregon. John Amos, II, 22, of Indiana. William Strange, 19, of Georgia. Doyle Hufstedler, 25, of Texas. Sean Mitchell, 24, of Pennsylvania. Michael Karr Jr., 23, of Texas. Cleston Raney, 20, of Idaho. Brandon Davis, 20, of Maryland. Dustin Sekula, 18, of Texas.

These are the American soldiers who have been identified as having been killed in Iraq in the first twelve days of April, 2004, one year after our tanks rolled into Baghdad and knocked down the statue of a man who had no weapons of mass destruction, no connections to al Qaeda, no connection to the attacks of September 11, and no ability to threaten the United States.

The man who had that statue of himself erected was a bastard, a wretch, a blight on the skin of this world. Was he worth the loss of these American soldiers, and the others who have died in April but whose names have not yet been released by Central Command? Was he worth the 667 American soldiers who have died in Iraq? Was he worth the 18,000 American soldiers who have been medically evacuated from Iraq, many for wounds so grievous that their lives will never be the same? Was he worth the lives of more than ten thousand Iraqi civilians? Was he worth the hundreds of billions of dollars we spent to remove him?

Was he worth even one grieving mother, father, wife, husband, brother, sister, son, or daughter?

The family of Marvin Miller, slain in Balad, Iraq on Wednesday, doesn't think so. "It stinks," said Miller's aunt, Annie. "The president got us into something he doesn't know how to get out of. It seems like the more killing that goes on over there, the more troops he's sending." Miller's eldest son, Marvin Lee Miller Jr., was planning to join the Army after he finished high school. "I was going into the military, but not no more," he said. "Not after this."

According to a variety of unimpeachable White House insiders, among them former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and former Counter-Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, the focus of the Bush administration was on invading Iraq from the first day George settled into the Oval Office. Of course, they were also fully occupied with a national missile shield, a few massive tax cuts, and the breaking of the wall separating church and state.

Yet with Clarke and his cadre of terror-fighters sounding alarms from one side of the White House to the other, even with FBI agents in Minnesota and Arizona sounding alarms about suspicious men trying to learn to fly, but not land, commercial aircraft, even with foreign intelligence agencies all across the planet sounding alarms about plots to hijack airplanes and crash them into American buildings, and even with George W. Bush getting told on August 6, 2001 that "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings" were happening while "surveillance of federal buildings in New York" was being done by suspicious individuals, even with Bush being told in the same briefing that "Al Qaeda members - including some who are U.S. citizens - have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks," the White House crew couldn't seem to summon enough interest to consider al Qaeda terrorism a priority until the towers came down.

Now, the Shi'ites and Sunnis have become allies in Iraq against American forces, a coming-together that has left many long-time observers of Iraqi cultural dynamics in awe. Now, American forces are required to sue for cease-fire agreements with Iraqi forces that have taken several cities and appear able to kill America troops at will. Now, the American people themselves are coming to see the 'leadership' of the Bush administration for what it really is, a bleak realization that could send American politics careening into complete chaos.

George W. Bush has given Osama bin Laden everything he could ever have wished for. Bush invaded a Muslim country without just cause and in defiance of practically the entire world, and delivered to bin Laden a terrorist recruitment poster for the ages. The Middle East is coming together in unprecedented ways to fight the United States, a crucial step along the path towards bin Laden's desire to create a pure Islamic Caliphate. The bloodshed spurred by the Shi'ite uprising, aided by the unlikely alliance with the Sunnis, have left Iraq in utterly unsolvable turmoil. American soldiers, and Iraqi civilians, continue to die. There is absolutely, positively no good side to this situation.

Osama bin Laden need only sit back and watch everything go his way. He is almost certainly aware of the old military rule which states, "Never interfere with an enemy who is in the process of destroying himself." It is unclear how that statement translates into Arabic, but the old-school Chicago politics version is equally succinct: "Never get in the way of a perfectly good train wreck." However you phrase it, George W. Bush is proving these old sayings to be axiomatic, and Osama bin Laden is smiling.

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Vengeance, Time, and US Idiocy

by Charley Reese
April 13, 2004

Here's a story from Arabic folklore. A man returned to his village after an absence of several days. He met his best friend, and they sat down to drink tea.

"Do you remember the man who offended me 25 years ago?" the man asked his friend.


"Well, I killed him two days ago."

"Why were you in such a hurry?" his friend asked.

Now here is a true story reported in the news some months back. An American officer went to the home of a family whose young son had been killed by American soldiers who mistook him for an enemy.

"What compensation would you accept for your son?" the American officer asked.

"Ten dead Americans," the father replied.

I tell you these anecdotes to point out something that apparently a great many American government officials haven't quite grasped: When we operate in an Arab country, especially Iraq, we are operating in a culture that places a very high value on vengeance and honor. The significance is that when we kill an Iraqi, if the death is perceived by his family as unjust, then the dead man's extended family assumes an unavoidable obligation to avenge it. The family might not try to avenge it the next day. That is the point of the first story. People in that part of the world perceive time in a different way than we do. But the passing of time will not lessen, much less eliminate, the desire and intention to avenge the death.

The object of the vengeance need not be the particular person who committed the original act. Any representative person will do. In our case, any American will do.

When a mob mutilated the bodies of four American mercenaries in Fallujah, a majority of the people there felt shame. Mutilating the dead is against the teachings of Islam. They didn't regret the killings, but they were shamed by the mutilation.

Had we been smart, we would have played on that shame, and no doubt the people would have helped us identify the culprits. But smart is not what the occupation government in Iraq is. In fact, it is dumb. It made the decision instead to punish the entire city and all of its residents.

The battle is going on as I write, and already we have killed women and children in the course of it. This is a guarantee that we will lose in the long run. Oh, we can take the city. We can kill or capture a lot of people. We can blow up a lot of houses. But instead of solving the problem, we will be enlarging it, because we will create more enemies than we kill. After this is all over, Fallujah will not be pacified. It will be more dangerous than it is today.

This is precisely the problem that has so frustrated the Israelis. They have done a competent job, if you want to call it that, of killing Palestinians, blowing up their homes and uprooting their olive trees, but all they've accomplished is to produce more hate and more violence. Now we are following the exact same path in Iraq, and we will reap the exact same results.

Just because generals are good at moving around tanks, airplanes and troops doesn't mean they know squat about the country or the culture in which they are fighting. Most of our generals are neither intellectuals nor scholars. That ought to be obvious from the inane and stupid names they apply to even the smallest tactical missions.

There are some people who can be beaten into submission by brute force. Iraqis and Palestinians are not among them.

I'm sure we have some Special Forces people who understand the Arab culture and could call the right shots. Unfortunately, they are kept out of the loop as far as being able to make the big decisions. They are treated by the brass as gofers. Iraq might not be George Bush's Vietnam, but it's certainly his tar baby. I predict a day will come when Bush will wish he had never heard of the place.

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No End in Sight as Fallujah Death Toll Approaches 700

by Dahr Jamail

Fallujah, Iraq , Apr 11 - United States Marines have killed more than 600 Iraqis in the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah, according to reports gathered from local clinics. The reports do not appear to be disputed by occupation authorities or other US officials.

Local medical authorities say over 600 bodies have actually been counted at area emergency facilities, but it is widely believed that a significant number of victims have been buried without ever receiving care at a clinic or hospital. Locals say two entire football fields have been converted into cemeteries and mass funerals have been conducted during brief, local lulls in the fighting.

What are being called medical clinics here are essentially makeshift emergency facilities, one of which is a converted mechanics' garage.

A physician working at one of the makeshift clinics said of the violence in Fallujah, "How can this be considered anything other than genocide when Iraqi women and children are being shot just because of their skin color?"

There is a seemingly constant stream of wounded Iraqis -- mostly women and children -- being delivered on rudimentary stretchers into the clinics. Cars squeal up on to the curb in front of the clinic, wailing family members drag or carry their loved ones inside, and overstretched aid workers scramble to accommodate the influx of casualties.

Two of the victims, woman and small child, were brought in simultaneously. Both had been shot in the neck by what witnesses said was a US sniper. Medical personnel expected neither to survive the injuries.

With each new announcement by US authorities that various ceasefires have been implemented, reports trickle in describing violations of the purported truces by both sides. Fallujah residents say there has been little sign of the lull in violence being widely reported by the Western media.

At one point yesterday, the ground still reverberating from a massive explosion some distance away, a resistance fighter remarked, "This is Paul Bremer's ceasefire." [...]

Additionally, Fallujah residents say Marines are opening fire randomly on unarmed civilians and have attacked clearly marked ambulances, both violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which the United States is a signatory. Aid workers angrily pointed out bullet holes in the driver's side windshield of one ambulance, saying its operator had been lightly wounded by US troops firing as the emergency vehicle passed.

On Saturday, US Marine battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Brennan Byrne put the number of Iraqi deaths during the week's fighting at around just 60 combatants, according to the Associated Press. A day later, however, Byrne said 95 percent of the more than 600 Iraqis his and two other battalions had killed were male fighters of military age and remarked that Marines are trained to be "precise" in combat. Byrne added, "The fact that there are 600 [Iraqi dead] goes back to the fact that the Marines are very good at what they do."

Comment: Apparently killing innocent women and children is what the US military is good at.

Rafie Al-Issawi, head of the Fallujah hospital, said most of the dead and wounded seen at area medical facilities were women and children. The Associated Press reported Al-Issawi refused to give specific numbers, saying he didn't want to imply that all of the men of military age who have been killed or wounded have been fighters.

According to an AP tally of official US military reports, resistance forces have so far killed 62 US soldiers and Marines throughout Iraq in the past week, the majority of them in the Fallujah area. Witnesses here say American casualty figures are being underestimated by US officials, that far more Americans have died than their commanders are admitting.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that an entire battalion of the new Iraqi Army refused assignment to the Fallujah combat zone after their convoy drew small arms fire outside of Baghdad while en route to Fallujah. The entire unit turned around, the Post cited Major General Paul Eaton as saying.

Locals widely expect the fight for Fallujah will continue indefinitely. Resistance fighters seem determined not to relent. Ehab (last name withheld), an embattled, Kalashnikov-toting guerilla who spoke readily with reporters, summed up the mood of the local resistance when he said, "They will never take Fallujah until they have killed every Iraqi here."

For its part, the Coalition Provisional Authority maintains that "Operation Iron Resolve" is a "methodical" campaign to route out select bad seeds in the Fallujah community. However, citing massive civilian casualties, many Iraqis believe the annihilation Ehab claimed a willingness to face is more likely what the US military has in store for Fallujah.

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Report from Fallujah -- Destroying a Town in Order to Save It

By Rahul Mahajan

Fallujah, Iraq -- Fallujah is a bit like southern California. On the edge of Iraq's western desert, it is extremely arid but has been rendered into an agricultural area by extensive irrigation. Surrounded by dirt-poor villages, Fallujah is perhaps marginally better off. Much of the population is farmers. The town itself has wide streets and squat, sand-colored buildings.

We were in Fallujah during the "ceasefire." This is what we saw and heard.

When the assault on Fallujah started, the power plant was bombed.

Comment: Remember, this is a city of about 200,000 people.

Electricity is provided by generators and usually reserved for places with important functions. There are four hospitals currently running in Fallujah. This includes the one where we were, which was actually just a minor emergency clinic; another one of them is a car repair garage. [...]

A gentle, urbane man who spoke fluent English, Al-Nazzal was beside himself with fury at the Americans' actions (when I asked him if it was all right to use his full name, he said, "It's ok. It's all ok now. Let the bastards do what they want.") With the "ceasefire," large-scale bombing was rare.

With a halt in major bombing, the Americans were attacking with heavy artillery but primarily with snipers.

Al-Nazzal told us about ambulances being hit by snipers, women and children being shot. Describing the horror that the siege of Fallujah had become, he said, "I have been a fool for 47 years. I used to believe in European and American civilization."

I had heard these claims at third-hand before coming into Fallujah, but was skeptical. It's very difficult to find the real story here. But this I saw for myself. An ambulance with two neat, precise bullet-holes in the windshield on the driver's side, pointing down at an angle that indicated they would have hit the driver's chest (the snipers were on rooftops, and are trained to aim for the chest). Another ambulance again with a single, neat bullet-hole in the windshield. There's no way this was due to panicked spraying of fire. These were deliberate shots designed to kill the drivers.

The ambulances go around with red, blue, or green lights flashing and sirens blaring; in the pitch-dark of blacked-out city streets there is no way they can be missed or mistaken for something else). An ambulance that some of our compatriots were going around in, trading on their whiteness to get the snipers to let them through to pick up the wounded was also shot at while we were there.

During the course of the roughly four hours we were at that small clinic, we saw perhaps a dozen wounded brought in. Among them was a young woman, 18 years old, shot in the head. She was seizing and foaming at the mouth when they brought her in; doctors did not expect her to survive the night.

Another likely terminal case was a young boy with massive internal bleeding. I also saw a man with extensive burns on his upper body and shredded thighs, with wounds that could have been from a cluster bomb; there was no way to verify in the madhouse scene of wailing relatives, shouts of "Allahu Akbar" (God is great), and anger at the Americans.

Among the more laughable assertions of the Bush administration is that the mujaheddin are a small group of isolated "extremists" repudiated by the majority of Fallujah's population. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Comment: Leaders lie, remember?

Of course, the mujaheddin don't include women or very young children (we saw an 11-year-old boy with a Kalashnikov), old men, and are not necessarily even a majority of fighting-age men. But they are of the community and fully supported by it. Many of the wounded were brought in by the muj and they stood around openly conversing with doctors and others.

They conferred together about logistical questions; not once did I see the muj threatening people with their ubiquitous Kalashnikovs.

One of the muj was wearing an Iraqi police flak jacket; on questioning others who knew him, we learned that he was in fact a member of the Iraqi police.

One of our translators, Rana al-Aiouby told me, "these are simple people."

Without wanting to go along with the patronizing air of the remark, there is a strong element of truth to it. These are agricultural tribesmen with very strong religious beliefs. They are insular and don't easily trust strangers. We were safe because of the friends we had with us and because we came to help them. They are not so far different from the Pashtun of Afghanistan -- good friends and terrible enemies. [...]

Nothing could have been easier than gaining the good-will of the people of Fallujah had the Americans not been so brutal in their dealings. Tribal peoples like these have been the most easily duped by imperialists for centuries now. But now a tipping point has been reached. To Americans, "Fallujah" may still mean four mercenaries killed, with their corpses then mutilated and abused; to Iraqis, "Fallujah" means the savage collective punishment for that attack, in which over 600 Iraqis have been killed, with an estimated 200 women and over 100 children (women do not fight among the muj, so all of these are noncombatants, as are many of the men killed).

A Special Forces colonel in the Vietnam War said of the town, Ben Tre, "We had to destroy the town in order to save it, encapsulating the entire war in a single statement. The same is true in Iraq today -- Fallujah cannot be "saved" from its mujaheddin unless it is destroyed.

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Americans Slaughtering Civilians in Falluja

By Dahr Jamail

I knew there was very little media coverage in Falluja, and the entire city had been sealed and was suffering from collective punishment in the form of no water or electricity for several days now. With only two journalists there that I'd read and heard reports from, I felt pulled to go and witness the atrocities that were surely being committed. [...]

As we neared Falluja, there were groups of children on the sides of the road handing out water and bread to people coming into Falluja. They began literally throwing stacks of flat bread into the bus. The fellowship and community spirit was unbelievable. Everyone was yelling for us, cheering us on, groups speckled along the road.

As we neared Falluja a huge mushroom caused by a large U.S. bomb rose from the city. So much for the cease fire.

The closer we got to the city, the more mujahedeen checkpoints we passed -- at one, men with kefir around their faces holding Kalashnikovs began shooting their guns in the air, showing their eagerness to fight.

The city itself was virtually empty, aside from groups of mujahedeen standing on every other street corner. It was a city at war. We rolled towards the one small clinic where we were to deliver our medical supplies from INTERSOS, an Italian NGO. The small clinic is managed by Mr. Maki Al-Nazzal, who was hired just 4 days ago to do so. He is not a doctor.

He hadn't slept much, along with all of the doctors at the small clinic. It started with just three doctors, but since the Americans bombed one of the hospitals, and were currently sniping people as they attempted to enter/exit the main hospital, effectively there were only 2 small clinics treating all of Falluja. The other has been set up in a car garage.

As I was there, an endless stream of women and children who'd been sniped by the Americans were being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars speeding over the curb out front as their wailing family members carried them in.

One woman and small child had been shot through the neck -- the woman was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on her amongst her muffled moaning.

The small child, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomited as the doctors raced to save his life.

After 30 minutes, it appeared as though neither of them would survive.

One victim of American aggression after another was brought into the clinic, nearly all of them women and children.

This scene continued, off and on, into the night as the sniping continued. [...]

Bombs were heard sporadically exploding around the city, along with random gunfire.

It grew dark, so we ended up spending the night with one of the local men who had filmed the atrocities. He showed us footage of a dead baby who he claimed was torn from his mother's chest by Marines. Other horrendous footage of slain Iraqis was shown to us as well.

My entire time in Falluja there was the constant buzzing of military drones.

As we walked through the empty streets towards the house where we would sleep, a plane flew over us and dropped several flares. We ran for a nearby wall to hunker down, afraid it was dropping cluster bombs. There had been reports of this, as two of the last victims that arrived at the clinic were reported by the locals to have been hit by cluster bombs -- they were horribly burned and their bodies shredded.

The next morning we walked back to the clinic, and the mujahedeen in the area were extremely edgy, expecting the invasion anytime. They were taking up positions to fight. One of my friends who'd done another ambulance run to collect two bodies said that a Marine she encountered had told them to leave, because the military was about to use air support to begin 'clearing the city.' One of the bodies they brought to the clinic was that of an old man who was shot by a sniper outside of his home, while his wife and children sat wailing inside.

The family couldn't reach his body, for fear of being sniped by the Americans themselves. His stiff body was carried into the clinic with flies swarming above it.

What I can report from Falluja is that there is no ceasefire, and apparently there never was. Iraqi women and children are being shot by American snipers. Over 600 Iraqis have now been killed by American aggression, and the residents have turned two football fields into graveyards. Ambulances are being shot by the Americans. And now they are preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of the city.

All of which is occurring under the guise of catching the people who killed the four Blackwater Security personnel and hung two of their bodies from a bridge.

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US tactics condemned by British officers

By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 11/04/2004)

Senior British commanders have condemned American military tactics in Iraq as heavy-handed and disproportionate.

One senior Army officer told The Telegraph that America's aggressive methods were causing friction among allied commanders and that there was a growing sense of "unease and frustration" among the British high command.

The officer, who agreed to the interview on the condition of anonymity, said that part of the problem was that American troops viewed Iraqis as untermenschen - the Nazi expression for "sub-humans".

Speaking from his base in southern Iraq, the officer said: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are. Their attitude towards the Iraqis is tragic, it's awful.

"The US troops view things in very simplistic terms. It seems hard for them to reconcile subtleties between who supports what and who doesn't in Iraq. It's easier for their soldiers to group all Iraqis as the bad guys. As far as they are concerned Iraq is bandit country and everybody is out to kill them."

[...] The officer explained that, under British military rules of war, British troops would never be given clearance to carry out attacks similar to those being conducted by the US military, in which helicopter gunships have been used to fire on targets in urban areas.

British rules of engagement only allow troops to open fire when attacked, using the minimum force necessary and only at identified targets.

The American approach was markedly different: "When US troops are attacked with mortars in Baghdad, they use mortar-locating radar to find the firing point and then attack the general area with artillery, even though the area they are attacking may be in the middle of a densely populated residential area.

"They may well kill the terrorists in the barrage but they will also kill and maim innocent civilians. That has been their response on a number of occasions. It is trite, but American troops do shoot first and ask questions later. They are very concerned about taking casualties and have even trained their guns on British troops, which has led to some confrontations between soldiers.

"The British response in Iraq has been much softer. During and after the war the British set about trying to win the confidence of the local population. There have been problems, it hasn't been easy but on the whole it was succeeding."

Comment: The Americans are following the tactics of the Israelis in their genocide of the Palestinians.

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Cette Amérique qui ne veut pas douter (The America that doesn't want to doubt)

Mansfield (New Jersey) : Guillemette Faure
[13 avril 2004]

Comment: This article from Le Figaro is revealing given the comments from the British officer above. Listen to the mayor of Mansfield, New Jersey:

The mayor of Mansfield wants to see a change in strategy because, according to him, the American army is handicapped by "diplomatic worries." "We take care to avoid children and wives...but we're facing people who will stop at nothing." He has his own dieas on what should be done: "Drop leaflets on Falluja advising the innocent to leave, then bombard the whole city. Carpet-bombing, like during the Second World War."

The British officers think the US is already using violence that is not proportional to the violence inflicted upon them. The US Army is already targeting children and women, and the reports from the scene confirm this horrible fact. Time magazine reports:

"In some neighborhoods, the Marines say, anyone they spot in the streets is considered a 'bad guy.'Says Marine Major Larry Kaifesh: 'It is hard to differentiate between people who are insurgents or civilians. You just have to go with your gut feeling.'"

When you believe you are in "enemy territory," it isn't hard to understand what form your "gut feeling" is going to take: shoot first and ask questions later. And Americans at home are going to sympathise with the US soldiers on the front line because they, too, consider the Iraqis to be untermenschen.

Returning to the article in le Figaro, we see the attitudes that are typical for the most part of the man in the street in the US. This man, the mayor of a small US town, is ignorant, and most likely wants to remain ignorant, and, therefore, US war crimes will continue.

"This war, last year or in two years, we would have had to have done it in any case," explains Mike, an engineer, convinced that the post 9/11 world has changed. He was nonetheless surprised by the violence last week. "I was expecting more gratitude on the part of the Iraqis." Same perplexity for Carol, a 40 year old bureaucrat, who can't understand what happened: "At the beginning, they seemed so happy..."

And how many more Americans are there who "don't understand," who ignore the illegality of the invasion, who ignore the illegality of the occupation, who buy the lies of the Bush Adminsistration, who buy the lies told by Condi Rice, who continue to believe the attacks of 9/11 were the work of "Islamic terrorists," and who will support the war as long as their gas prices remain low and the Bush gang continue to succeed in lying about the real facts on the ground and the body bags flying back to the US under the radar of a compliant and complicit media?

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US to 'capture or kill' Muqtada al-Sadr

Monday 12 April 2004, 19:12 Makka Time, 16:12 GMT

The US military has said it will capture or kill Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

"The mission of US forces is to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr," Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of US ground forces in Iraq, told reporters in the United States in a video link from Baghdad on Monday.

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I'm ready to die for anti-US drive, says Sadr

Shi'a Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, sought by United States-led forces occupying Iraq, said on Tuesday he was willing to die for his campaign to end the occupation of the country. "I am ready to sacrifice (myself) and I call on the (Iraqi) people not to allow my death to cause the collapse of the fight for freedom and an end to the occupation,"

Sadr, who is leading an uprising of his Shi'a militia against US-led forces, told Lebanon's al-Manar television, the mouthpiece of the Hizbollah group. The firebrand cleric urged non-US forces in Iraq to distance themselves from American troops "and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iraqi people". US commanders in Iraq say they want Sadr dead or alive as their forces try to douse a rebellion by his followers in several towns and cities.

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US troops arrest al-Sadr's top aide 2004-04-13 16:48:52

BAGHDAD, April 13 (Xinhuanet) -- The top aide to Iraq's anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Sheikh Hazem al-Araji, was arrested by US troops in Baghdad on Tuesday.

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US prepares offensive against Shiite radicals, eight Russians abducted

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Abizaid seeks more combat troops for Iraq

By James Drummond in Baghdad and Peter Spiegel in London
Financial Times
April 13 2004 0:56

General John Abizaid, the commander of US forces in the Middle East, has asked the Pentagon for two additional combat brigades in response to the widespread rebellion in Iraq, reversing a year-long trend of reducing the US military presence there.

The request for new troops highlights how the week-long revolt is forcing the US to rethink its security strategy.

Pentagon officials had been aiming to hand over an increasing share of security to Iraqi units and cut troop levels to 115,000 after the recent rotation of US forces. There are currently 135,000 American troops in Iraq.

But Gen Abizaid on Monday acknowledged that US-trained Iraqi security forces - including police, civil defence units and the new Iraqi army - had performed poorly. "That was a great disappointment to us," he said. [...]

Gen Abizaid declined to comment on how many troops there would be in the new deployment, saying the details are still being discussed with the joint staff, the senior military leadership. [...]

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Seven U.S. Contractors Missing in Iraq

Monday, April 12, 2004; 1:59 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - Seven civilian contractors working for a subsidiary of Halliburton are missing in Iraq after an ambush on a convoy last week, the Texas-based firm and the U.S. military said on Monday.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters in video conference from Baghdad the contractors were working for Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of the U.S. oil services firm run until 2000 by Vice President Dick Cheney.

The contractors vanished after an attack on a U.S. convoy in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad. Two U.S. soldiers also disappeared in the incident.

A Reuters photographer saw the aftermath of an attack on a convoy carrying fuel in Abu Ghraib on Friday. He saw at least nine dead bodies, many badly burned. [...]

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Bennett, Iraq & doing what is right

It's clearly been a bad couple of weeks in Iraq. The process of birthing if you will a democracy among a people who never have lived under one is proving to be as messy as one might expect.

Comment: And the messier things get, the greater the need to pull everyone in America into line. The writer is part of the US government's propaganda machinery and as the cookie begins to crumble in Iraq, she has been turned on full volume to up the ante in the battle for American minds. Her official role is as "vice president of the Heritage Foundation, a research and educational think-tank whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense".

"Limited government" for sure; designed to limit public analysis by augmenting the age-old "us versus them" meme, which many American citizens have accepted into their ever diminishing vision of reality. Afterall like in the movie 'Black Hawk Down' and in the current Iraqi production, the Americans are always the "good guys" yes?

Dozens of brave American soldiers have been killed so far this month; an upstart cleric seems to be gaining support throughout the country for his virulent anti-Americanism; and the specter of al-Qaida's recent successes in Madrid hangs in the air like a dark, foreboding cloud. As the June 30 deadline to turn over power to the Iraqi people draws closer, the country seems less ready for the handover than it was two or three months ago.

Comment: When in the face of the horrifying objective reality, one is incapable of conducting a reasoned analysis, just whip up the emotional juices to boiling point. Dehumanise the "enemy" by making the Iraqi's visible only with reference to dead American soldiers. Reduce the value of Iraqi people's outrage at the carnage by blaming an "upstart" individual. Raise the "spectre" of the "foreboding" al-Qaida meme yet again, and in the absence of an original thought of one's own, get brownie points by going back in time to last November to paraphrase the words of an "all-round wise man of the modern conservative movement".

But as these darkest moments in the death and remaking of Iraq unfold, I think back on the words of Bill Bennett, author, radio host, former U.S. secretary of education, distinguished fellow in cultural policy studies at the Heritage Foundation and all-around wise man of the modern conservative movement. Yes, the situation in Iraq is messy, Bennett said in a magnificent, powerful speech he gave in November to Heritage Foundation members. And yes, President Bush and his aides sometimes have seemed reluctant to defend their actions.

"But let's be clear on this," he said that day. "In the issue that matters most our survival, the civilized world's survival, the spread of democracy, the war against terrorism and radical Islam the president is right and his critics wrong."

I strongly urge you to read the entire text of this brilliant speech. It is the single greatest defense of the war for freedom in Iraq simply because it lays out the truth about what America and her allies have done on behalf of our own freedom and that of the Iraqi people. The truth is the most powerful defense of the war and it is the truth that is missing from the vast majority of news reports on the conflict.

Comment: As Bill Bennett's arguments are predicated upon a sort of religious zeal that makes him and the writer think they are fighting for "good" over "evil", it is clear, like with all of us, that what they percieve is based upon the nature of the religious and historical data fed into their minds. She might as well have said "And the End is Nigh if you don't destroy radical Islam" in the above, as the desired effect will be the same on the reader who is too afraid, arrogant or lazy, to check out the facts for themselves.

Day after day on these Signs pages we work to show the nature of objective reality. In light of the numerous mental programmes humanity is subject to, this is no small task. Sometimes we get that wearing sense of deja vu, as the facts before us challenge our sensibilities with a repeating picture of the same deadly lies veiled in different cultural veneers of subjectivity. Working to maintain our objectivity creates new circuits to override the brainwashing our cultural backgrounds have subjected us to. It is a task that we choose to undertake both for ourselves, and as a service to humanity, as the dominant default choices are always waiting in the wings ready to befuddle our consciousness.

In the book 'Seeker of the Truth' on the life of Gurdjieff, by Kathleen Riordan Speeth and Ira Friedlander, there is this: "Not only is it impossible, even with all one's desire, to give another one's own inner understanding ....there exists a law that the quality of what is perceived by anyone when another person tells him something, either for his knowledge or his understanding, depends on the quality of the data formed in the person speaking".

The writer of this article is speaking to the converted zealots of American Republicanism, laying down "the truth" lest the facts of the objective reality before them, plant any seeds of doubt that "the truth" may, just may be, a lie. Afterall, Bill Bennett "author, radio host, former U.S. secretary of education, distinguished fellow in cultural policy studies at the Heritage Foundation and all-around wise man of the modern conservative movement" said it, so it must be true. Get with the programme God fearing Americans, and spread those memes!.

For those who cannot access the Internet, here's a summary of what Bennett said:

He rattled off the undisputed evidence of our success: We have not been attacked again even though our adversaries have tried. We've radically disrupted al-Qaida. We've arrested or killed two-thirds of its leadership and have its top man Osama bin Laden on the run, in hiding. We've expelled the Taliban and laid the groundwork for a free, democratic Afghanistan.

As Bennett bluntly pointed out, we've also stopped pretending the terrorist murderer Yasser Arafat can ever be a partner in peace in the Middle East.

Today, Iraq no longer harbors terrorists such as Abu Nidal and Al-Zarqawi. It no longer exports terrorism or pays the families of suicide bombers in Israel. It no longer threatens to purchase or use weapons of mass destruction. It no longer keeps hospitals and schools closed out of spite.

Its days of murdering 5,000 children a month are over. The rape rooms and torture chambers are closed. Not a single citizen anywhere in the country no longer fears attack by chemical weapons from his or her own government.

The rule of the cruel, sadistic dictator who was seen on videotape sadistically watching as Dobermans tore-apart and ate one of his generals alive is over. The rule of the man who fed prisoners into a machine designed to shred plastic some headfirst, some who had to endure the hellish agony feet-first is over. The rule of the man whose appetite for killing filled mass graves from one end of Iraq to the other is over.

The hellish pit that was Iraq is a horrible memory not because the United Nations leaped into action, and not because the Arab world, the Muslim brethren of the victims of Saddam Hussein's vicious rule, stepped in. It's over because Americans grew abhorred by the level of wrong and stopped it. As Bill Bennett pointed out, that makes seven times that Americans have gone to war to help Muslims.

In other words, our president has done what is right with regard to terrorism, not what is popular. We went to war for the best of reasons and our actions then and now prove it.

What are we doing now? Rebuilding the country. Educating the citizens. Establishing democratic institutions. Training doctors. Building hospitals. Taking care of children. Feeding the hungry. Protecting natural resources. Securing freedom.

As Bennett reminds us, we must remember that it is no less than civilization and barbarism that are at war today and that it has "fallen to us to be the arm, the conscience and the will of civilization." That's why, he says, we should be proud of our country, proud of our fighting men and women and, yes, proud of our president.

In his radio address last Saturday, President Bush reaffirmed his resolve to hold fast to the quest for a free Iraq: From the first days of the war on terror, I said our nation would face periods of struggle and testing. As the June 30th transition approaches, we will continue to see a test of wills between the enemies of freedom and its defenders. We will win this test of wills, and overcome every challenge, because the cause of freedom and security is worth our struggle.

I concur. God bless President Bush for his bravery and for his commitment to what is right. And God bless Bill Bennett for setting the record straight.

Comment: As the war on the propaganda front intensifies to match that on the streets of Iraq, American families are now being forced to contemplate the impact of the impending US conscription laws that will send members of their family to the fire raging in the Middle East. We hold fast to this objective fact: From

The experience of viewing simultaneous, cause/effect reality is extremely difficult to maintain when one is constantly being bombarded by three-dimensional interpretation.

Imagine the difficulty of explaining to a snail the expanse of an acre of ground?! Mystics and Seers have attempted to do just that for millennia with the result that the vast majority of mankind have absolutely and totally misunderstood these concepts. And, there is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it.

And it seems that the greatest lies are the dark and evil systems of religion created by those who do not understand.

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death. It is easy to say you believe a rope is strong as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But, suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice? Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it? C.S. Lewis

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US threatening Iraqi media, says Al Jazeera

Arabic-language satellite TV channel Al Jazeera on Tuesday accused US-led coalition officials in Iraq of threatening the media over their coverage of US troops battling Iraqi rebels.

US Army chief spokesperson, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, on Monday called Qatar-based Al Jazeera, Dubai-based Al Arabiya and other Arab media outlets the "anti-coalition media" and advised viewers to "change the channel".

"Al Jazeera rejects these accusations and considers them a threat to the right of the media to cover the reality in Iraq amid a difficult and complex situation on the ground," Al Jazeera said in a statement faxed to Reuters. "This is unjustified pressure on the media," it added.

US Marines, responding to the murder and mutilation of four American private security guards ambushed in Falluja on March 31, attacked rebels in the town last week. As fighting has intensified, US authorities have stepped up a separate battle for public opinion, tightly controlling the flow of information to journalists whose ability to move freely in Iraq has been limited by increasing danger. Doctors in Falluja say over 600 people have died in the fighting. The US military says they are mainly rebels but Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, with teams inside the town, say a large number of women and children are among the dead. Reuters footage taken from Falluja to Baghdad showed dead children, old men and women lying wounded in overflowing makeshift clinics.

Comment: We suppose this is what the US Army chief spokesperson would call "setting the record straight".

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Can America Escape from the Iraqi Trap?

Patrick Seale Al-Hayat 2004/04/9

The United States is losing control of the situation in Iraq. Hit-and-run attacks against coalition forces have mushroomed into a full-blown armed insurrection. Moqtada al-Sadr's militant Shiite group, enjoying wide popular support, has joined Sunni resistance fighters in seeking the violent expulsion from the country of the United States and its allies.

[...] The crisis in the West

An unfortunate by-product of the war in Iraq, and of the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict, is a moral and political crisis in the West. Europe and the United States are profoundly divided over the Middle East. As the situation deteriorates and as violence is imported into Europe - as with the recent train bombings in Spain -- the transatlantic rift is getting wider and far more difficult to bridge.

In spite of Tony Blair's ambition to have a foot in both camps, the overwhelming majority of European opinion is opposed to the war in Iraq and is profoundly hostile to Ariel Sharon's attempts to crush the Palestinians and destroy for ever their hopes of statehood.

Opinion polls, as well as marches, demonstrations and other anecdotal evidence, suggest that most Europeans believe the United States and Israel have taken a wrong turning, extremely dangerous to themselves and also to peace and security in Europe.

What is Europe to do if the situation gets far worse? Can Europe live with violent disorder in the Middle East? These questions are beginning seriously to preoccupy European leaders and officials, both in the member states and in the security and foreign policy institutions of the European Union.

Some Europeans are not unhappy at America's embarrassment. Regarding Iraq, their attitude is that 'the Americans broke it, let them now fix it'! But a more responsible view is that Europe should make every effort to help extricate the U.S. from the Iraqi trap, while at the same time joining it in settling the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of a fair two-state solution, if necessary by imposing it on the warring parties.

It is widely recognized that this is the only way to defuse the dangerously explosive anti-American sentiment which is causing mayhem in much of the world.

A major obstacle is America's refusal to acknowledge the true war aims of its Iraqi adventure. Clearly, the declared ambition of introducing 'democracy' is as bogus and fraudulent as was the alleged threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The real objectives of the war were to secure America's global hegemony by political and military control of the extraordinary oil resources of the Gulf region. A subsidiary aim - but one uppermost in the minds of some key American officials - was to secure Israel's local hegemony over the Palestinians and other neighbors, both near and far. But these are not objectives which Europe or the Arabs will willingly endorse.

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Israeli Soldiers Kill Three Internationals, But Shooting of a Jew Shocks the Nation

By Richard H. Curtiss
April 2004, pages 15, 68
Special Report

[...] On Dec. 26, 2003 demonstrators put Israeli protesters in front of Palestinians to try to halt the construction of the apartheid wall. Israeli troops requested permission from their commander to fire live ammunition, instead of rubber-coated bullets, "at the legs of the protesters." The Israeli commander gave his authorization and one person was shot and badly injured. The protester, Gil Na'aman, however, was an off-duty Israeli soldier in civilian clothes. Two other demonstrators—including an American woman hit by shrapnel—also were shot as they cut some wires of the apartheid wall. It was only when they stopped shooting, supposedly, that the Israeli troops realized that the demonstrator they had badly wounded was an Israeli.

For reasons which are unclear, even though Israeli troops were nearby Na'aman was not allowed to get aid for his injuries, which included three bullets in his legs. Palestinians demonstrators were able to take Na'aman to a hospital.

Eventually a high-ranking Israeli official visited Na'aman in the hospital—only after Israeli newspapers picked up the story, however. Again, it is not clear whether the officials thought Na'aman had been hit accidentally, and therefore were apologizing, or whether it was a matter of public relations damage control. The Israeli public was shocked that Israeli soldiers had shot an Israeli Jew.

One wonders why Israelis reacted so differently to Na'aman's serious injuries. Rachel Corrie was killed, after all, and there was virtually no interest or follow-up on her death. Hurndall's shooting and death received more coverage in Britain than Corrie's killing did in the United States, even though both families have worked hard to keep their stories alive.

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Sharon seeks US backing to go it alone: Bush expected to reward pledge to withdraw settlers by allowing Israel to unilaterally set borders of emasculated Palestinian state

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Monday April 12, 2004
The Guardian

The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, flies to Washington today, where he expects President George Bush to back his plan to unilaterally draw the frontiers of an emasculated Palestinian state, a move which could redefine the conflict for a generation or more.

After weeks of wrangling over how Israel is to be "rewarded" for its pledge to pull Jewish settlers out of the Gaza Strip, officials in Jerusalem say Mr Bush has largely given Mr Sharon a free hand to carve out a semi-autonomous state in the occupied territories, without consulting the Palestinians, provided he meets certain conditions.

These include demands that he call the borders temporary, and maintains the public position that Israel will adhere to the US-led "road map" peace plan when a different Palestinian leadership emerges. Washington has also refused to allow Israel to formally annex the major West Bank settlement blocks, but the White House is expected to recognise that they will remain by declaring that the 1967 border is "not a sacred line".

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Sharon to retain West Bank grip

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed to maintain control over six Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

During a visit to Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, Mr Sharon said the settlement and five others would "stay under Israeli control".

Mr Sharon made the statement just before heading to Washington for talks.

It is the first time he has said which settlements will stay in Israeli hands under his controversial plan to "disengage" from the Palestinians.

'Eternal' promise

Along with Maale Adumim, Mr Sharon identified Hebron, Kiryat Arba and Gush Etzion, all in the south of the West Bank, along with Ariel and its outlying settlements in the north, and Givat Zeev north of Jerusalem.

About 120,000 Israelis live in the six settlements - more than half the entire settler population of the West Bank.

"[These are] places that will remain under Israeli control that will continue to grow stronger and develop," Mr Sharon said.

Speaking to a gathering of about 500 of the 30,000 residents in Maale Adumim, the West Bank's largest Jewish settlement, Mr Sharon said that their homes would "continue to be built as part of Israel, for all eternity".

[...] The plan to maintain some grip on the West Bank has displeased the Palestinian authorities. Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said the "settlements in the West Bank are just as illegal as those in Gaza".

Palestinians fear that the plan masks an intention to annex West Bank settlements in the future.

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Sharon to keep largest West Bank blocs

Tuesday 13 April 2004, 0:00 Makka Time, 21:00 GMT

Israel will keep its largest West Bank settlements, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said.

[...] Palestinian chief negotiator Saib Uraiqat has condemned Sharon's pledge, saying it closed the door on a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

"With this statement, Sharon is closing the door before any Palestinian-Israeli peace deal," Uraiqat said. "The withdrawal from Gaza cannot be exchanged for maintaining Israeli occupation in Jerusalem or in the West bank."

While polls have indicated that most Israelis support Sharon's plan, Jewish settlers, marching along a main Israeli highway and inside Maale Adumim while Sharon spoke, protested against a Gaza pullout, calling it a "victory for terror."

Sharon says the pullback would enable Israel to "disengage" from the Palestinians after more than three years of violence while drawing a security line in the West Bank that would leave them with less land than they seek for a state of their own.

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Ayoon wa Azan (The Palestinian Demand)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/04/11

While the catastrophic situation in Iraq is getting more attention, we are in front of one or two decisive weeks for the future of the Palestinian cause. Moreover, there is an American-British agreement to support withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, a thing that would provide an international principle for pursuing the plan.

Many threats are coming from all directions. I called Palestinian Foreign Minister Dr. Nabil Shaath, to ask him about the subject. He said that Palestinians want the withdrawal from Gaza Strip to be a part of the settlement, not a substitute for it. They insist that the settlement be a part of the Roadmap, and that it concurs with withdrawals from the West Bank.

Shaath, who will visit Washington on 22 April in order to meet high-ranking American officials, said that Palestinians need more clarifications about the withdrawal, as they do not wish to end in a vast prison inside the Gaza Strip, but want the airport to operate, checkpoints to open, and more importantly, a mutual ceasefire so that Israel does not respond to every incident in the West Bank, by destruction in the Gaza Strip.

This is fine; but I personally feel that Ariel Sharon wants to destroy the Palestinians in Gaza, as he openly talked about his hope for a Palestinian civil war to take place. But my sources in Hamas and Islamic Jihad are better than his, and both parties promised to prevent a civil war.

[...] Thus, Sharon wishes to withdraw, and to see a Palestinian civil war. However, Shaath said that the American tripartite delegation that visited Israel and the Palestinian territories was ready to listen. Palestinians rely heavily on the explanation of their stance to President Bush, through President Husni Mubarak and King Abdullah.

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Analysis: Egypt and US tackle divisions

By Jon Leyne
BBC correspondent in Crawford, Texas

Of the three foreign leaders visiting the US this week, it is President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt who was granted the honour of a trip to the presidential ranch at Crawford, Texas.

But, however cordial their talks, there is a growing list of issues which threaten to divide Egypt and the US.

[...] President Mubarak offered to provide training to the Palestinian police, and other help for the Palestinians taking over in Gaza.

That, though, will depend on Israel negotiating the withdrawal with the Palestinians rather than pulling out unilaterally - and there is no sign Mr Bush will persuade Mr Sharon to do that when they meet later this week.

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Israeli forces scuttle 10 suicide attacks 2004-04-13 19:19:05

JERUSALEM, April 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli security forces managed to scuttle a total of 10 attempted suicide bomb attacks on Israeli targets during the Passover holiday, which ended Monday night, the Army Radio reported on Tuesday.

Among those attacks foiled was a plan to use AIDS-infected blood while two others were also due to be carried out by women, according to the report.

Comment: How convenient to be able to say you have "scuttled" 10 suicide attacks. Are these of the type of the young Palestinian set up by Israeli police a couple of weeks ago?

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Sharon, Peres deny reports on unity government 2004-04-13 18:02:37

JERUSALEM, April 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and leader of the opposition Labor leader Shimon Peres on Tuesday denied reports that they have agreed to set up a national unity government, local media reports said.

[...] Israeli religious Zionist newspaper HaTzofeh had reported that the two statesmen, Sharon and Peres, met on Saturday night and agreed to establish a government of national unity immediately uponthe prime minister's return from Washington later this week.

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Bush says US intelligence faces major revamp after September 11 inquiry

Tue Apr 13, 2:06 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President George W. Bush signaled that the US intelligence agencies face major reforms no matter how the CIA and FBI defend themselves at the official September 11 commission hearings this week.

Past and present leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation will be the star witnesses at public commission hearings Tuesday and Wednesday into the 2001 terror strikes by al-Qaeda.

"Now may be a time to revamp and reform our intelligence services," Bush said as he again denied that any strong warning of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States were brought to the attention of his administration.

"And we look forward to hearing recommendations. We're thinking about that ourselves and we look forward to working with the commission." [...]

Comment: It must be nice to be above the law like Dubya. He can lie to the public, decline to give sworn testimony to the 9/11 commission that should be investigating his lies, and then declare that it was all the fault of the FBI and CIA - no matter what testimony or evidence they provide to the commission.

The discrediting of the intelligence services and the FBI by Bush was predictable. For over a year, "progressive" and "patriotic" former CIA operatives have been writing for journals like CounterPunch denouncing the way Bush has treated the CIA and abused the intelligence supplied by America's hard-working spies. In passing along the buck, it falls upon Condi to discredit the alphabet soup guys. And who are they going to blame? Well, what organisation do we think may be at the end of the line, or the top of the pyramid?

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Americans more afraid of terrorism than ever

By Will Lester Washington

The American public has shifted its attention toward problems like terrorism and war since mid last year when more people said the nation's top problems were economic, an Associated Press poll found. When asked in an open-ended question last July to name the most important problems facing the United States, nine percent mentioned war. That number almost doubled to 17 percent in an AP-Ipsos Public Affairs poll taken early this month.

The number of people who named terrorism has grown from 14 percent in July to 21 percent now. The poll offers a glimpse of the nation's leading concerns as the presidential campaign intensifies between President George Bush, who generally has posted stronger poll numbers on national security, and Democrat John Kerry, seen as stronger by the public on economic issues.

'It looks like Vietnam all over again'

Last July, US troops had recently completed their initial conquest of Iraq's armed forces and were at work rebuilding the nation. In recent weeks, US troops have been under increased attacks by insurgents, both from the Sunni and Shi'a populations in Iraq.[...]

In the new AP-Ipsos poll, pocketbook issues such as the economy and jobs were named by 37 percent, down from 47 percent last July. A smaller percentage of people specifically ranked "the economy" as the top problem than in July, with the number dropping steeply from 31 percent last July to 18 percent now.

For Jean Hart, a 52-year-old telecommunications worker from Albany, New York, her views on the top problems facing the country have shifted sharply from last fall when she was laid off, left without health care. Now, she's working again, but she pays more than $1 000 (about R6 000) a month for her healthcare. Yet she ranks the war in Iraq as her top concern. "Definitely the war," she said. "I don't know whether we're getting the full story of why we got in there. It's almost like started by the father (of President Bush.)"

She said the war struck close to home when one of her co-workers learned recently that fighting in Iraq had claimed his son, the father of three small children. Health care has dropped slightly as one of the top concerns. Nineteen percent ranked it as a top problem in January, but the number has since slipped to 14 percent, about where it was last summer. About one in 20 people mentioned the "energy crisis", particularly petroleum prices.

Last summer, neither energy nor petrol prices were on people's minds at all as a top problem. One in 10 mentioned the energy crisis as one of the nation's top problems, triple the number who said that last summer. The biggest change in the AP-Ipsos poll's quarterly survey of the nation's top problems was the increased concern about the war. Ten percent in the poll specifically mentioned the "war in Iraq" - compared with two percent who specifically named the invasion as the top problem last summer. Noreen Hunt, a contracts manager in San Diego, said the Iraq invasion was the top problem because "it's killing people". "It's becoming more of a problem, because it's not getting resolved," she said. "It looks like Vietnam all over again." Among those who said war was the top problem, two in 10 said the country is headed down the wrong track.[...]

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Police cams to add gunshot detectors

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
Chicago Sun-Times
April 7, 2004

Big Brother isn't just watching the bad guys in Chicago. By late summer, he'll be listening as well -- for the sound of gunshots.

Gunshot detection technology -- capable of "triangulating within 20 feet" the location of a shooting -- is being added to 30 surveillance cameras already in place on high-crime corners and to 50 new cameras expected to be installed by late summer at undisclosed locations.

Instead of televising only to a portable suitcase monitored by police officers at the scene, the cameras will also be equipped with microwave antennas that beam pictures back to the 911 emergency center and to police headquarters. [...]

Like the initial $750,000 camera experiment, the $2.8 million expansion and upgrade is being paid for with drug forfeiture money. Drug dealers are literally paying for police to breathe down their necks.

If there were enough dirty money to go around, Mayor Daley said he would love to see cameras installed on every street corner in Chicago.

"In America, there's no such thing as a police state. . . . It's a public way. . . . You want safety in public ways," Daley said Tuesday. [...]

Comment: Well, thanks for clarifying that for us, Mayor. Note that Daley is a Democrat - evidence that the push for an American Police State has nothing to do with Republicans versus Democrats.

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Gov. Bush lobbies for drug-tracking database

By Mark Hollis
Tallahassee Bureau
Posted April 10 2004

TALLAHASSEE -- A proposal Gov. Jeb Bush is championing to create a massive electronic tracking system of who is prescribing and who is using prescription drugs is in trouble in the Florida Legislature.

With three weeks left in the 2004 lawmaking session, Bush is doing high-pressure lobbying to persuade leaders of his own party about the merits of the database.

It could allow doctors, designated medical assistants and pharmacists to look up online the pharmacy records of patients over the age of 17 to ensure they haven't been shopping for multiple prescriptions. [...]

But key Republican legislators still see the measure as costly, intrusive and potentially ineffective as a tool for combating drug abuse and Medicaid fraud.

Because of that skepticism and unanswered questions about how the state will pay for the estimated $2.8 million annual costs of running the database, the Florida House and state Senate have yet to bring an idea the governor has called a first-rank priority up for a full vote. [...]

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LA Airport Power Failure Blamed on Bird

Tue Apr 13, 2:47 AM ET

LOS ANGELES - Officials blamed a bird on a power line for a seconds-long power failure that disrupted air traffic at Los Angeles International Airport for up to 1 1/2 hours.

The power failure Monday morning caused delays of 15 minutes to 90 minutes for an estimated 80 to 100 Los Angeles-bound flights, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Donn Walker said. Airport operations were back to normal by noon Monday.

A 34.5 kilovolt supply line went out for 10 seconds at 9:38 a.m., said city Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Carol Tucker. The line serves 26 industrial customers at the airport.

Apparently, a bird came in contact with the line and at the same time touched a cross-arm or some other grounded device, the DWP said in statement. The line re-energized moments later.

"But we didn't find the bird on the ground, so it might have flown away," said Tucker. [...]

Comment: This is the best they could come up with? A bird grounded a 34,500 volt power line, and then flew away?!

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Power Outage Closes Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas

APRIL 13, 2004 -- Las Vegas -- A power outage at the Bellagio Resort on Easter Sunday forced the hotel to close yesterday while workers searched for the source of the electrical failure.

Guest starting leaving the 3,000-room luxury resort on Sunday. The remaining guests were checked out yesterday. The hotel was fully booked over the Easter holiday.

The outage was confined to the Bellagio as other hotel-casinos here and the city at large remained under power. Hotel officials do not suspect sabotage. [...]

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Report: Sergei Ivanov Ordered Qatar Killing

By Anatoly Medetsky
Staff Writer

The two Russian suspects, wearing white, standing Sunday in the Qatari courtroom at the start of their trial on charges of killing former Chechen President Yandarbiyev.

A Qatari newspaper reported Monday that Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov personally ordered the assassination of former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in Qatar.

Ivanov's spokesman denied the allegation. "Such reports cannot be called anything but absurd. That is why I don't consider it possible to comment on this nonsense," said the spokesman, Colonel Vyacheslav Sedov, according to Interfax.

The newspaper Al-Rayah reported that Ivanov ordered a Russian security services officer in the Qatari capital, Doha, to prepare the attack together with the two Russian security services officers who are now on trial for the killing. Al-Rayah cited files from the case that have not been officially released.

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At least 427 killed in Central America during Holy Week 2004-04-13 10:34:11

MEXICO CITY, April 12 (Xinhuanet) -- At least 427 people were killed and more than 2,000 wounded in Central America during the Holy Week, police sources and medical organizations in different countries confirmed on Monday.

The casualties were mostly caused by accidents, homicides and other violent incidents from April 2 to 11, when Christians remember the death of Christ and his return to life.

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Who Will Pay for Zimbabwe?

Geoff Hill Johannesburg

IN EUROPE, the US and even Australia, people talk about the Wham factor or What Happens After Mugabe? But, when change comes, will the donor community be ready and willing to help rebuild what used to be one of Africa's most successful countries? Just at a glance:

Law and order has broken down and the police are politicised.

Inflation is running at more than 600% and could reach 1000% this year.

Seven of 10 adults are unemployed.

The state-run youth militia have set up a terror network across the nation.

Commercial farming has collapsed in the wake of the government's coercive land-reform programme and food agencies estimate that three-quarters of the population don't have enough to eat.

There is virtually no public health system in a country where 3000 people die every week from AIDS.

More than 500000 skilled Zimbabweans have relocated to Britain and an estimated 3-million now live in SA, Bots- wana, Zambia and Mozambique, and Between 70%-90% of all university graduates are believed to be working outside the country.

When I spoke with Jabulani Mkwanazi, district chairman in SA for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), he told me nothing would happen without money. "The MDC has already released its Restart programme, which is a detailed plan on how to rebuild the economy," he said. "The problem comes down to money and we can only hope that, after political change in Zimbabwe, the donor community will come forward and fund the reconstruction."

Comment: The former "bread basket" of Africa is now almost empty. If the "donor community" ever does come forward, there will be another price to pay; the same price other African nations have to pay, which is compliance and submission to the US led dominant world order, care of the auspices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Mkwanazi says there is work he would like to be doing now among the 3 million Zimbabwean exiles in SA, but no one is willing to pay for it. "We have tried so hard to get financial support, even just to run our Johannesburg office and help some of the refugees, but it is no easy walk," he said.

The bill for putting Zimbabwe back together will run into tens of billions. Many commercial farms lie abandoned, others are in the hands of Zanu (PF) ministers and their families and a future government would be unlikely to ignore this. But restarting commercial agriculture in a country where it has all but collapsed will not come cheap.

Health workers estimate that more than 2-million Zimbabweans are HIV- positive. Hunger and a shortage of preventative medication, including vitamin pills, have compounded the problem, speeding up the onset of the virus. Across the nation, the state hospital system will need large-scale refurbishment.

Young people, tortured and traumatised in the so-called militia camps, will have to be schooled and counselled to help them back into normal society. Many will want to continue their education, but teachers are in short supply. Zimbabwe used to be the best-educated country in Africa, but thousands of children, unable to pay their fees, are no longer in school. Rebuilding the system could be accomplished within 12 months if someone pays for it.

But, to me, the greatest challenge will be to encourage the more than 3-million exiles to go home because, without their skills, the country cannot prosper. Former British international development secretary Clare Short's portfolio included foreign aid. Short says the high education level among Zimbabwean exiles could work against the problem of reversing the brain drain, as so many have found jobs in their new countries. "Some would go home because of family ties," she told me in London last year, "but it may also be necessary to set up an incentive scheme to encourage people to come back." So, money again!

In Johannesburg, work is already being done among the diaspora by people such as Elinor Sisulu. "One of our aims is to mobilise the Zimbabwean community within SA as an extension of civil society in Zimbabwe," she says. And she believes the resultant group of committed individuals could play a major role in rebuilding the country after change.

In Pretoria, human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba has set up the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, a nonpolitical group that aims to identify skilled nationals around the world. "I think it would be a tragedy if, when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund return to Zimbabwe, they recruit expats from Europe and the US when we have so many of our own skilled people," he said. "My idea is to build a database so that if they need doctors, vets, economists or other special skills, we can approach qualified Zimbabweans in other parts of the world, to try to coax them home to fill those positions." Shumba says he has had a good response to his plan, but no money. "Everyone agrees this is a critical project, until you raise the issue of capital. Then it all goes quiet."

Beyond the so-called Wham factor, human rights groups are also talking about what happens to President Robert Mugabe and those around him if, and when, they relinquish power. The issues go beyond the well-known massacres of the mid-1980s, when Mugabe sent the 5th Brigade into Matabeleland. Estimates on the number of dead range from 8000 to 40000.[...]

Comment: Mugabe won't "relinquish power". Because of his own demagogic control of the country, he is now firmly fixed in Western minds as Africa's bogeyman in the "war on terror", not because the West power brokers care about the hundreds of Zimbabweans dying on a daily basis, but precisely because he wrested control of Zimbabwe out of the hands of a very privileged white minority. It seems his inevitable demise will be the key object lesson for any African nations that dare to seek "independence" from the One World governmental structures of the IMF and the World Bank. Unfortunately the answer to the question "Who will pay for Zimbabwe" is painfully obvious; the Zimbawean people themselves.

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Alleged coup plotters appear in Zim court

Seventy suspected mercenaries accused of plotting a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea appeared briefly on Tuesday in a makeshift prison court room. It was their second court appearance since they were detained when their Boeing 727 landed at Harare International Airport on March 7.

Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe ordered the hearing postponed until Thursday on the request of state prosecutors and defence lawyers. "There is still something to negotiate," defence attorney Chris Venturas said without elaborating. Prosecutor Stephen Musoni refused to comment on the delay.

The suspects were brought before the court in pairs shackled to each other at the wrists and ankles. About 30 relatives attended the 10-minute hearing in a function room at the Chikurubi maximum security prison, 30km north of Harare, exchanging discreet waves with some of the men. One woman blew kisses, two others brushed away tears.

Most of the suspects - who include South Africans, Namibians, Angolans, Congolese, a Zimbabwean and a British national - are former members of South Africa's apartheid-era military forces.[...]

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Free and Fair Elections Guaranteed

On the eve of South Africa's third general elections, the country's security forces have expressed confidence that no major threats will mar the process. They have also expressed faith that the public will play their part in safeguarding this significant event.

South African Police Services (SAPS) Superintendent Charmaine Muller appealed to communities to co-operate in making the elections free and fair. "We request the public to refrain from behaviour that is not in accordance with the laws of our country. No firearms or traditional weapons will be allowed in the inner perimeter of the voting stations," she said. Security plans include high visibility at all polling stations, crime prevention operations and operations to address possible disruptive actions and crowd management.

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Kenya: Nearly 10,000 Affected By Floods in Western Province

Nearly 10,000 people have been affected by extensive flooding in western Kenya, especially in Nyando District, Western Province, where a river burst its banks and inundated 166 homes, the Kenya Red Cross said on Tuesday.

Two people had drowned, it added. "Thousands of those affected have been displaced from their homes," Tony Mwangi, Kenya Red Cross public relations officer, told IRIN. "The water level in the river is still rising and we expect more flooding in the nearby Budalangi area."

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Rejected for Failure to Bring Forth a Son

Rebbecca Nabiryo sits rigidly, weeping softly on the edge of a maternity bed in Jinja Hospital. The healthy baby she delivered a while ago, wrapped in layers of snow-white fabric, lies quietly by her side.

A barefoot elderly woman in a gomesi loosely draped on her lean body hurriedly walks to Nabiryo with a bowl of steaming porridge. "My daughter," she says, an expression of concern on her face, "you haven't eaten anything since you walked out of the labour ward. Have some porridge."

But Nabiryo shakes her head turning down the offer. This prompts the old woman to say "Will you stop torturing yourself over failing to give birth to a baby boy (heir), please?" Count yourself lucky to be a mother of three beautiful daughters graced with features that are a perfect projection of your husband," she tried to soothe.

But the consolation seemed ignored. "Mummy," Nabiryo blurts out as tears course down her cheeks. "My marriage is ruined. He (Nabiryo's husband) desperately needs an heir." She sneezes, wipes away her tears and adds, "Your son-in-law vowed to look for another woman if this time round I produced a girl child again."

Social workers say similar scenes are common across the country as scores of women painfully endure an atmosphere in marriage that is laden with tension and reproach. However, their cries rarely break through the concrete wall of silence that society has thrown around them.

Betty Mbulante, officer in charge of the Family Protection Unit, Jinja district acknowledges that women have constantly been rebuked, battered, and often deserted by their spouses, "When the marriage with them is not graced with a boy child (an heir). I handle an average of five cases every month.

The circumstances were that their husbands deserted them and sought to cohabit with mistresses elsewhere because the complainants failed to bear them boy children" She says. Mbulante adds, "Usually the complainants are housewives, a status that dictates that they depend entirely on their husbands. They and their children are bound to starve should the breadwinner in the home desert them," says Mbulante.[...]

Margaret (not real name) trembles with fear at the memory of her past. "I have given up the quest for a boy child," she says resignedly. She curses fetish priests (herbalists) with bitterness, accusing them of deception, wickedness and lust. A friend who claimed to have gone through a similar problem, in marriage had tipped her off.

"From her friend's confession, Magaret intimates, the fetish priest had a speculative way that would help a woman to predetermine the sex of her child. "I decided to try it out," she says. After deferring me on three occasions without reasonable ground, he insisted I return for treatment on a particular afternoon," recounts Margaret.

She was prompt on the day of appointment. "There was no other client (patient). Apart from the fetish priest and his aides," she says. "As soon as I entered the shrine the priest followed. He hurriedly bolted the door from inside. "The priest removed his bark-cloth robe. He had gently pushed me on the floor of the shrine that is covered with mats. He then lay his over weight body on me," sneers Margaret.

"He whispered that he was initiating me in a ritual that would cleanse me of the bad spirits responsible for my woes. Nobody had told me what was going to happen next. But I sensed danger. The ritual was an excuse for sexual exploitation. I could not wait for this man to rape me," she says. "I managed to disentangle myself and fled barefoot leaving my pair of shoes outside the entrance to the shrine." [...]

Comment: Due to our eons long programming, you may file this away as yet another example of the "primitive" ignorance of black Africans. Some who consider themselves "Feminists" may say that they have won "freedoms" that African women can only dream of. Yet with a little thought and objective observation, you may note that women in the "civilised" world also bear similar burdens of patriarchal control and dark religious sexual exploitation. Facts of life like female genital mutilation are no different in essence to the mental mutilation many women experience under the institution of marriage. The fact that this occurs in brick buildings and behind white picket fences, as opposed to wattle and daub huts is only a difference in material form. Forgive us if we are stating the obvious.

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Karymsky volcano can erupt any day


The Karymsky volcano, one of many on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East, has become much more active of late. More than 400 smoke and ash emissions are daily registered in the volcano, which is one of the most active in the world, in the past few days. According to the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 100-200 emissions are ordinary for the Karymsky volcano. The seismic stations in the vicinity of the volcano have registered 470 surface quakes in the past few hours.

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Insects of Mass Destruction

Could Insects Be Used as Bioweapons?

By Lee Dye

April 8 — Sonny Ramaswamy is trying to walk a very fine line. He doesn't want to be seen as an alarmist, but he thinks people ought to know about the thought that keeps haunting him these days.

Ramaswamy, who chairs the department of entomology at Kansas State University, is concerned that the tiny little insects he has spent a lifetime studying could become implements of international terrorism.

It's possible, he says, that even a stable fly, or something as tiny as an aphid, could be used to distribute deadly pathogens over a wide geographical area in a surprisingly rapid and efficient manner. Bugs as delivery systems for weapons of mass terror.

"It wouldn't be as spectacular as the World Trade Center," he says, "but it would be more insidious." [...]

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Watching for asteroids

By Richard Macey
Date: April 13 2004

A NASA-funded project employing Australian astronomers to watch the southern skies for asteroids cutting across Earth's path has found three in its first month.

NASA wants to find 90 per cent of the asteroids bigger than one kilometre - enough to cause global destruction - by 2008.

The Australian search, at Siding Spring, near Coonabarabran, started last month.

On March 29 two asteroids were spotted whizzing by the Earth. One, about 100 metres across and travelling at 10 kilometres a second, missed the Earth by 3 million kilometres. That same night, a second, 300 metres wide and travelling at 18 kilometres a second, passed at a distance of 20 million kilometres.

On Friday a third "new" asteroid, probably 100 metres across, was spotted. It is still approaching but will miss Earth by 2.25 million kilometres next Tuesday.

"That's only five or six times as far as the moon," said an astronomer, Gordon Garradd. He said that although none of the three was likely to hit Earth in the next few centuries, he was sure that one, yet to be discovered, would.

"Plenty have hit us in the past so there is no reason to doubt they will hit us in the future."

Comment: Have you noticed how the whole "danger from space" (and we aren't talking here about our "space brothers") is getting more and more play in the mainstream press? A few years ago, when we began to raise this issue, we were treated as doomsayers and doomsday cultists. Now, we are seeing regular nespaper reports of fireballs in the sky and the press is discussing the possibility and dangers of impact. Of course, they end their articles with reassuring comments that this is a rare occurence and blah blah blah go back to sleep and don't worry your little heads about it. But the information is being put out. The public is slowly being acclimatised to the possibility.

What do you think that means?

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Turin Shroud Back Side Shows Face

By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

April 11, 2004 — The ghostly image of a man's face has emerged on the back side of the Turin Shroud, the piece of linen long believed to have been wrapped around Jesus's body after the crucifixion, according to new digital imaging processing techniques.

The discovery adds new complexity to one of the most controversial relics in Christendom, venerated by many Catholics as the proof that Christ was resurrected from the grave and dismissed by some scientists as a brilliant medieval fake.

The Shroud

A negative giving the positive print

[...] The presence of a face on both sides of the shroud would seem an obvious feature in case of a fake: when making a print onto a cloth, paint soaks the cloth's fibers reaching also the back side.

"This is not the case of the Shroud. On both sides, the face image is superficial, involving only the outermost linen fibers. When a cross-section of the fabric is made, one extremely superficial image appears above and one below, but there is nothing in the middle. It is extremely difficult to make a fake with these features," Fanti said.

According to the scientist, this double superficiality could be crucial to answer the central, unanswered question of how the image of that man got onto the cloth.

Shroud History
Scientific interest in linen cloth began in 1898, when it was photographed by lawyer Secondo Pia. The negatives revealed the image of a bearded man with pierced wrists and feet and a bloodstained head.

In 1988, the Vatican approved carbon-dating tests. Three reputable laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson, Ariz., concluded that the Shroud was medieval, dating from 1260 to 1390, and not a burial cloth wrapped around the body of Christ.

But since then a growing sense that the radiocarbon dating might have had substantial flaws has emerged among shroud scholars.

Fanti's finding matches a hypothesis postulated in 1990 by John Jackson, an American physicist who conducted the first major investigation into the shroud in 1978. Jackson speculated the presence of a faint image on the back surface of the shroud, only in correspondence to the frontal image.

The history of the cloth has been steeped in mystery. It has survived several blazes since its existence was first recorded in France in 1357, including a mysterious fire at Turin Cathedral in 1997.

Kept rolled up in a silver casket, it has been on display only five times in the past century. When it last went on display in 2000, more than three million people saw it. The next display will be in 2025.

Comment: Tell a believer in Jesus that there is no hard proof of his historical existence, they'll respond with "What about the Shroud of Turin?" Well, what about it? It is a cloth with the imprint of a man with the marks of an apparent crucifixion. The believers argue that it could only have been produced through a miracle, and if it is a miracle, it can only be the body of Jesus.

Teacher, the dog ate my homework.

The image on the "front" of the cloth is a photographic negative. So the first question to ask is, why would God produce a negative image in his miracle? Certainly, He would have it in his power to produce a positive image. The believer might then argue that mysterious are the ways of the Lord, a convenient phrase that ends any possibility of dialogue.

"Shroud" made by Allen

The "positive" image

The fact that the shroud is a photographic negative does open the door to another solution: that the shroud was the work of less than god-like beings who were dabbling in early photo processes. Nicholas Peter Legh Allen has done extensive work in producing images similar to the shroud on linen using quartz lenses and silver sulphate. He has shown that using materials available in the 14th century, the time of the carbon dating of the linen, it is possible to create shroud-like images. Writes Allen:

"I, for one, made it a point of principle four years ago, that I would never employ a substance, a piece of apparatus or a technique that I could not prove was available before 1350. My repeated attempts to recreate the exact conditions for producing a Shroud - image were all conducted employing the sun, known medieval chemicals which required no elaborate means of production and a large camera obscura."

Now we have the appearance of a second face, on the back of the shroud. If this was done via a photographic process, the most likely explanation for the second image is that the back side was used first for an unsuccessful attempt, then turned over, and used for the final, "successful" attempt. No miracle. No hocus-pocus.

There have also been criticisms that the in-depth study of the shroud begun in 1978 and which established a date around 1260 - 1357 AD through carbon dating was flawed because the shroud had been burned in the 16th century.

Ben Witherington III, writing in Christianity Today, is one of those who is compelled to cling to any evidence whatsoever that attests to the historicity of Jesus. He writes:

"One would have thought that any interest in the Shroud of Turin would have quickly abated following the carbon 14 testing in 1988. According to the test results, it was not, as so many believed, the authentic burial Shroud of Jesus."

and then offers the "explanation" used by defenders of the shroud:

"But wait. We know the Shroud was scorched in a fire in the early Middle Ages, and it appears that the carbon 14 testing may have been skewed because a scorched part of the cloth was tested, and also because the microbiotic coating on the Shroud was not cleaned off before testing."

Anything to hang on to a belief! There is no evidence whatsoever that this is the burial shroud of the man they call Jesus. And there is no historical evidence that he existed in the manner described by the gospels. So, confronted with the lack of evidence, any evidence, even fraudulent, is better than none to calm the doubts.

If it is true that the tests were "skewed" because of the effects of the fire, why after these tests Vatican did not allow for an unscorched piece to be tested? This fact alone tells us that it is a fake. Wouldn't the Catholic Church, certainly the power in the world that has the most to gain from a confirmation of a first century dating of the shroud, be eager to set the record straight?

But Mr. Witherington and his believer friends begin from a position of wishing to prove their belief, not from the position of wanting to learn the truth. They do not want the truth, they want confirmation of their beliefs. This blindness and prejudice leads them to cling at straws, such as the ossuary purported to be of James, the brother of Jesus. Witherington even wrote a book about the ossuary, tying his academic credentials to its authenticity. In the same Christianity Today article he writes:

"Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there is the James ossuary which Hershel Shanks and I have dealt with in some detail in The Brother of Jesus (Harper, 2003). It is my belief that this ossuary, having passed several batteries of scientific tests, is indeed the burial box of James the brother of Jesus. As such it is the oldest physical evidence of any kind that Jesus and his family existed. Remember that the manuscripts we have of the New Testament date no earlier than the second century A.D. Here finally we have an artifact that has a direct connection to various central figures of the New Testament dating to within 30 or so years of Jesus' death (in A.D. 30) Here we have what I like to call the Word made visible."

The only trouble is, the ossuary is a fake, and had been shown to be a fake by the time Witherington wrote the article cited:

Stone Box Linked to Jesus Called Fake


June 18. 2003 — In the end was the word, and the word was "fake."

Eight months after the highly publicized discovery of a burial box believed to bear one of the first historical mentions of Christ, Israeli experts said Wednesday the so-called "James ossuary" was a recent fabrication.

The judgment on the box, thought to have contained the bones of Jesus' brother, James, was delivered by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which also debunked a stone tablet billed as dating back to the 9th century B.C.

Department director Shouka Dorfman told a press conference the damning conclusions of two teams of archaeologists, geologists and linguists charged with verifying the authenticity of the finds were "categorical."

The announcement last October that a stone ossuary had been found with the engraving "James, son of Joseph and brother of Jesus" was greeted with much excitement as well as skepticism in archaeological circles.

Such boxes were common among the Jews of Jesus' time, who customarily used them to store and identify the bones of the deceased that were recovered from the full body a certain time after burial.

The markings on the "James ossuary" in the Semitic Aramaic language were hailed by the Biblical Archaeology Review as one of the first historical references to the man who gave birth to the Christian religion.

But Dorfman told reporters Wednesday: "Upon examination it appeared that the inscription was recently engraved."

One specialist who studied the ossuary, Rochelle Altman, argued that the inscription "Jacob (James) son of Joseph" was carved in the 1st century, which would be consistent with the events in question.

However, she said the second part — "brother of Joshua (Jesus)" — was in a different hand and style that was added later, possibly as late as the 3rd or 4th centuries.

Unfortunately, several months later, Witherington was still touting the ossuary's authenticity. Not only did he have his faith to save, but after his book, his academic credentials were on the line as well.

Can anybody say "Cruci-fiction"?

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Baja Beach Club in Barcelona, Spain Launches Microchip Implantation for VIP Members

Violet Jones/ | April 7 2004

Baja Beach Club owner Conrad Chase wanted something unique to identify his VIP patrons. Other clubs had special jewelry or key chains, but he was looking for something special. After brainstorming, he came up with the idea to implant his VIP members with VeriChip's implantable microchip.

Alex has spoken many times over the years about how the making the chip "fun" and how by giving it an elite status soon an entire of young teenagers will be arguing with their parents demanding that they let them be implanted so that they can be in the "in" crowd. The Baja Beach Club and Chase have proved that the trend has started.

When I spoke to Mr. Chase this morning he told me that his implant launch had gotten the international media's attention. He himself was implanted at the media launch of the VIP implant system along with stars from the Spanish version of the TV Show, "Big Brother," (called "Grand Hermano" in Spain).

He also told me that he had been in touch with the VeriChip Corporation and that there were several new developments with their implant system including the Belgian subsidiary of firearm company, FN Herstal, which manufactures Browning and Smith and Wesson firearms, launching a implant-firearm system which would make a firearm functional only to the individual implanted with its corresponding microchip.

"We have a special zone at Baja beach Club where only VIPs are allowed, which has various exclusive services for these members.

We are the first discotheque in the world to offer the VIP VeriChip. Using an integrated (imbedded) microchip, our VIPS can identify themselves and pay for their food and drinks without the need for any kind of document (ID)."

Here's an interview with Conrad Chase from the website, its translation follows:

Conrad Chase, Director of Baja Beach Club's Interview with the EFE News Agency about the VIP VeriChip

As you explain it, the VeriChip is a technology consisting of the implantation of a digital chip under the skin. What was your motivation in introducing the use of this technology in a location like the Baja Beach Club.

Two reasons. The first is to follow the philosophy of originality that the Baja Beach Club has had from its origination. The second is to benefit from the latest most advanced technology.

The majority of night clubs aren't originals and only copy that which other people have created. In the province of Barcelona, we have for the 5 copy-cats of the Baja Beach Club.

The placement of this sub dermal chip is done with a syringe. Does this implantation method cause any troubles or side effects?

The chip is made of glass, totally innocuous and is implanted by a a single-use, sterilized syringe.

Conrad, do you think that the VeriChip will have a warm reception?

Yes, I know many people who want to be implanted. Actually, almost everybody has piercings, tattoos or silicone.

Do you have tattoos, piercings or silicone?

No, but I have worn piercings. Maybe one day I'll get a tattoo of the Baja Beach Club logo.

In routine daily life does (the chip) cause you any trouble? No metal detectors react to it?

(Laughs) Lots of people ask me this. It doesn't cause any problems, it doesn't pinch, it doesn't far as being detectible by metal detectors...well, maybe, but any Texan button has 10 times more metal that the VeriChip.

Who implants the chip?

The implantation can be done by any person with an ATS title, and in The Baja Beach the implantation will be done by a medic.

How is it extracted?

It's a very simple process. As easy as extracting a small splinter.

What advantages will a baja Beach Club client that wants to be implanted have?

You won't have to carry a wallet. By simply passing by our reader, the Baja beach Club will know who you are and what your credit balance is. From the moment of their implantation they will also have free entry and access to the VIP area which we will formally open the 25th of March.

Is it free for your clients?

On the day of the launch, we are giving it for free to all of our VIPS. After that day, the cost of implantation will be 125 Euros.

If I implant myself will it only be valid at the Baja?

The objective of this technology is to bring an ID system to a global level that will destroy the need to carry ID documents and credit cards. The veriChip the we implant in the Baja will not only be for the Baja, but is also useful for whatever other enterprise that makes use of this technology.

Comment: Everyone is going to be wanting one soon, hey, it's cool!

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Lovestruck mugger sends note to victim

A besotted mugger has been arrested after sending a love letter to his pretty victim in central China, a news report said Tuesday. The thief became mesmerised by a photograph of his victim in a case containing cash and documents that he and two accomplices snatched from her in Wuhan, Hubei province, in January.

He returned the empty case to her office with a letter inside saying: "I love you and will repay the money to you someday, from the man who borrows from you and loves you." The love note provided police with the clues they needed to arrest the three men, according to the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily newspaper. The men are now awaiting trial.

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Winning votes from beyond the grave

A candidate in Indonesia's legislative elections on April 5 won more than 640 votes despite dying more than a month earlier, a report said on Tuesday. Mirdin Kasim was a candidate from South Sulawesi province for a new organisation called the regional representatives' council.

He died shortly before the ballot papers were printed, the Detikcom online news service said. The local election commission left a blank space on ballot papers where Kasim's name and photo should have been. But supporters who knew that he had been allotted the 11th place on the ballot papers still punched the blank space.[...]

Comment: Might as well punch a blank space; there's probably more "democracy" beyond the grave.

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