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Saturday, May 1, 2004

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©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Shame Of Abuse By Brit Troops

May 1 2004
By Paul Byrne

Rogue British troops batter Iraqis in mockery of bid to win over people

A HOODED Iraqi captive is beaten by British soldiers before being thrown from a moving truck and left to die.

The prisoner, aged 18-20, begged for mercy as he was battered with rifle butts and batons in the head and groin, was kicked, stamped and urinated on, and had a gun barrel forced into his mouth.

After an EIGHT-HOUR ordeal, he was left barely conscious and close to death. Bleeding and vomiting and with a broken jaw and missing teeth, he was driven from a Basra camp and hurled off the truck. No one knows if he lived or died.

The shocking pictures on this page were handed to us by one of the attackers and a colleague. We have agreed to protect their identities as they fear reprisals.

Last night, their damning testimony was in the hands of appalled ministers and Army chiefs who pledged an urgent investigation.

Chief of the General Staff General Sir Michael Jackson said: "If this is proven, the perpetrators are not fit to wear the Queen's uniform. They have besmirched the good name of the Army and its honour."

No 10 said: "The Prime Minister fully endorses the general's statement."

The outrage, which emerged the day after US troops were pictured torturing Iraqi prisoners of war, makes a mockery of the Army's attempts to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

Army chiefs believe it was an isolated incident involving a few rogue troops. But, it is claimed, officers turned a blind eye. One of the soldiers said: "Basically this guy was dying as he couldn't take any more. An officer came down. It was 'Get rid of him - I haven't seen him'. The paperwork gets ripped. So they threw him out, still with a bag on his head."

Weeks after the pictures were taken, a captive was allegedly beaten to death in custody by men from the same Queen's Lancashire Regiment. It is also alleged a video was found of prisoners being thrown off a bridge.

Soldier A told how the young victim was hauled in suspected of stealing from the docks.

He said: "You pick on a man and go for him. Straightaway he gets a beating, a couple of punches and kicks to put him down. Then he was dragged to the back of the vehicle."

Immediately a sandbag was placed over the man's head and his hands tied behind his back.

Soldier A said:

As we took him back he was getting a beating. He was hit with batons on the knees, fingers, toes, elbows, and head.

You normally try to leave off the face until you're in camp. If you pull up with black eyes and bleeding faces you could be in s**t.

"So it's body shots - scaring him, saying 'We're going to kill you'. A lot of them cry and p*** themselves.

Because it was so hot we put him in the back of a four- tonner truck which has a canopy over it. That's where the photos were taken. Lads were taking turns giving him a right going over, smashing him in the face with weapons and stamping on him. We had him for about eight hours.

You could see blood coming out early from the first 'digs'. He was p****d on and there was spew.

"We took his mask off to give him some water and let him have a rest for 10 minutes. He could only speak a few words, pleading 'No, mister' . No, mister'.

I did less than the others. But I joined in. Me and my mate calmed down. Then two lads come on and it starts again.

"He was missing teeth. All his mouth was bleeding and his nose was all over the place. He couldn't talk, his jaw was out. He's had a good few hours of a kicking. He was on his way to being killed. There's only so much you can take.

After the officer allegedly told the attackers to get rid of the suspect he was driven off.

Soldier A said: "The lads said they took him back to the dock and threw him off the back of a moving vehicle. They'd have freed his hands, but he'd still be hooded. He'd done nothing, really. I felt sorry for him. I'm not emotional about it, but I knew it was wrong."

Referring to the second alleged beating in custody - said to have taken place in September - Soldier B said: "It was only a matter of time.

"We had one who fought back. I thought 'Don't do that', it's the worst thing you can do. He got such a kicking. You could hear your mate's boots hitting this lad's spine.

"One of the lads broke his wrist on a prisoner's head. Another nearly broke his foot, kicking him. We're not helping ourselves out here. We're never going to get the Iraqis on our side. We're fighting a losing war."

Soldier B claimed after the alleged September beating troops were told to destroy incriminating evidence.

He said: "We got a warning, saying the Military Police had found a video of people throwing prisoners off a bridge. It wasn't 'Don't do it' or 'Stop it'. It was 'Get rid of it.' "

The death is being probed. At least one soldier is expected to be charged with manslaughter.

The two infantrymen claim abuse has started because Iraqi police are powerless to process suspects.

Soldier B said: "There's no point taking them to the police station because they're released within 20 minutes. The coppers don't want any comeback and let them go. All we do is teach them a lesson our way.

"You're knackered and you don't want to be going to a police station and doing statements, just for them to be released. Give them a kicking, then it's done and dusted.

"A lot of the younger ones are worse. It's as though they've something to prove. You've got a gun and you're the law. You can make people do whatever you want."

Both men fear the situation is worsening , with UK troops now seen as the enemy, rather than liberators.

One said: "I can't believe it has taken the Iraqis so long to fight back. If it had been me or my family, I'd have retaliated straightaway.

"They've just got f****d around so much. You can't go in now, and say 'Right, let's forget about what has happened and start again'.

"We're struggling now. There are too many people against us."

Comment: Urine and Blood - Love and Light. Perhaps these terrified young Iraqi men, urinating on themselves as they were being beaten bloody, should have been thinking about how they were really "one" with their British captors? Perhaps they should have bombarded them with love and light? That would have stopped them for sure. Or perhaps they should have "turned the other cheek"? But then, with a broken jaw it is hard to talk to ask for more punishment. Perhaps, if they were still alive after being thrown from a moving truck, they should have asked themselves the most important question; what was it that they were doing or thinking that lead them to create the reality where British troops could invade their country and freely torture Iraqis civilians like them...

But seriously, we have to wonder about the release of these pictures and those showing US soldiers enjoying themselves in a similar way. We don't at all doubt that it occurred, and may still be occurring, but we wonder why, when the US and British governments have so easily censored other damaging information, they did not do so in this particular instance. Why would the soldiers committing these crimes allow themselves to be photographed and photograph their crimes? Why would they incriminate themselves? Are they so demented that they would want them as "trophies"?

That's one possibility, there are a lot of pretty screwed up individuals out there, as we know.

Perhaps they were following orders? But, if so, why were those orders given? Why take photographs? The reaction from the Arab world would surely have been anticipated and expected. Was this the point? To incite more violence? To get more countries thinking about getting involved, and ultimately, set the whole region aflame? Seems like it might be so. We tend to suspect that this incident, just like most of everything else, may have been planned. But by who? Surely it does not serve the British or US governments to provoke further civilian unrest in Iraq? Certainly not if it leads to the release of pictures of heavy handed tactics and civilian deaths. Surely Bush and Blair would love to be seen as the champions of the "freedom and democracy" that they so often talk about? So who then is behind the documentation and release of these pictures?

Who owns the media?

It has become somewhat of a cliche that "Jews own the media", yet it remains a fact. Bush and Blair only control the media insofar as their interests and those of the Jewish lobby groups coincide. When they do not, governments "fall". Remember "Monicagate"? If you own the media, you control public perception? If you own the media, the public are your "attack dogs" to be release when and where required. If you own the media, you essentially own humanity.

For quite some time now we have been providing evidence which shows that Israel was the motivating force behind the US invasion of Iraq. Clearly Israel benefits the most from the disintegration of Iraqi society. But how does it benefit Israel to have the UK and US governments and their troops demonised in this way? Is the Jewish lobby seeking the withdrawal of the "coalition" from Iraq? By allowing the release of these pictures are they attempting to rally public opinion for a withdrawal? What would happen in such a scenario? A power vacuum in Iraq? Slowly over a period of time would radical militants take power? Would Israel then claim Iraq a threat to its security? Does Israel want it's own war in the Middle East? It seems to be so. It merely remains to be seen how it achieves it.

A BBC video report on the above tortures can be found here: Mercenaries ("private contractors", as they were called ) as interrogators are mentioned during the report, as is the fact that this wasn't an isolated incident. Paul Adams, the BBC reporter, said during the report that he has information that similar abuses are occurring at a facility at the Baghdad airport as well. Adams also said that "changes" were being made involving bringing in the former head of the detention center from Guantanamo to run things at Abu Ghurayb. That's sure to relieve the Iraqi population...

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Photos of abused Iraqi prisoners on Arab channels

Arab news channels catch up on photos of Iraqi prisoners abused by 'inhuman and savage' US troops.

DOHA - Leading Arab satellite news channels Friday aired photographs of US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners that were first broadcast on US television, saying they showed the "inhuman" conduct and "savagery" of the abusers.

And in Cairo, the Arab League condemned the mistreatment of prisoners, calling on the US-led coalition to punish those responsible for these "savage acts."

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera and Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, both of which have been accused by Washington of stoking anti-US sentiment in their coverage of Iraq, also interviewed legal experts about the photographs, some of which depicted US troops alongside naked Iraqi prisoners in demeaning sexual poses. [...]

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Cumberland stands by 372nd

Despite abuse allegation, residents still support members of local unit

By Reginald Fields
Sun Staff
Originally published April 30, 2004

Just days ago, the Army's 372nd Military Police Company, based near Cumberland, was the source of unabashed pride in the city, the reason yellow ribbons are tacked to tree trunks and fences, and why the Wal-Mart posts pictures of the unit's young soldiers near its doors.

That changed somewhat Wednesday when the country found out what Cumberland-area residents had been whispering for weeks - that members of the unit, deployed in Iraq, have been accused of committing crimes against Iraqi prisoners in their custody.

"I'm disappointed that there is a black eye on this entire group for the actions of a few," said Becky McClarran-Mizak, whose son, Danny Mizak, is in the 372nd and returned home this month after being injured in a roadside attack. "We still have to support our troops."

Much like this gritty city they live in, some residents say they're not willing to change. They decided long ago to support the men and women of the 372nd, when the unit was deployed in February 2003 to a training base in Virginia and three months later to Iraq, and they aren't changing now, even in light of the allegations.

"It's war, and war is not always fair and its not always pretty," said Adrienne Ottaviani, a Cumberland resident and former Allegany County commissioner. "It was the ugliness of war that we saw. But I don't think any of them should go to jail for this."

Comment: Really? So, "everything goes" then, does it? Just because it's a war. Just let your psychopathic urges run wild! It's open season! Torture, mutilate, murder, humiliate those damn ragheads to your little heart's content! Until you turn blue! And all without paying a penny! Well, maybe a little "reprimand", but that's not too much to put out for a little good ol' fashioned down-home fun, now is it?

A report Wednesday on the CBS program 60 Minutes II showed Iraqi prisoners being tortured as U.S. servicemen and women - most now identified as members of the 372nd - laughed and gave thumbs-up gestures in front of a camera they apparently used to record their actions.

These incidents have been reported around the world, including by the Arabic television network Al-Jazeera. The allegations are expected to further complicate U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq.

"I didn't see it coming. These are friends of mine. I served with them," said Kerry Shoemaker-Davis, who served 13 years of active and reserve duty in the Army before being discharged in 2001. She was in the 372nd for four years. Her husband, Sean Davis, is in Iraq with the unit and was not one of those involved, she said.

"We've been hearing the rumors for quite some time now and just didn't want it to be true," said Shoemaker-Davis, who lives in Fort Ashby, W.Va., about 15 miles from Cumberland. She said she recognized a reservist she served with in the 60 Minutes II report.

"I'm really having a hard time with this," she said. "It's embarrassing."

Comment: Embarassing??? Try diabolical.

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Pentagon officials guarded about Fallujah force

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Senior Pentagon officials acknowledged they do not know whether a former Iraqi general can be trusted to lead an Iraqi security force in Fallujah but said it was worth trying to break a month-old impasse.

"The situation needs resolution," said Larry DiRita, the Pentagon's chief spokesman and a close aide to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "It can't remain indefinitely unresolved cause you've got a political transition that is taking place."

"People are making bets, they're taking a look and saying, 'Well, Jeez, if people can hold and attack the US military for weeks and weeks and weeks, then, shoot, I'm staying on the fence,'" he told reporters here.

Under an agreement worked out by marine commanders in Fallujah, marines began withdrawing Friday from positions inside the city while Major General Jassem Mohammed Saleh entered the city to lead an Iraqi security force that will replace the marines.

DiRita said marine commanders had "a lot of authority to make decisions, and they're doing that, and they've developed this force."

That may explain why senior Pentagon officials appeared to have been in the dark about the agreement on Thursday when it was first announced in Fallujah by marine officers.

General John Abizaid, the head of the US Central Command, told reporters earlier Friday he did not know the Iraqi general who was leading the force.

Comment: In the dark? In the DARK? Are they serious? It is getting very convenient to cry "we just didn't know" or "we didn't have enough information" or it was "a failure of intelligence", don't you think? This was the line after 911. Are they using it now to cover themselves if things "unexpectedly" go wrong after this "turn-over" to the Iraqis? And how can the head of the US Central Command not know anything about General Saleh, when in a story published approximately an hour prior to this one, the coalition deputy operations chief, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, was quoted as saying:

[…]"Saleh, the Iraqi general running the new force, was checked out by the Marines and they had full confidence in his background, Kimmitt said. (U.S. Hands Over Some Positions in Iraq)

What's the deal here? Who's controlling the show? The Pentagon or the marines? What do they know about Saleh? What DON'T they know? Why would the US put someone in control of the Iraqi brigade in Fallujah that they DIDN'T know anything about?

Pentagon officials likewise had little information about Saleh other than reports that he was a respected officer with a popular following.

DiRita indicated that Saleh's name was put forward by Iraqi ministry officials who have been involved in trying to find a negotiated solution to the crisis in Fallujah, where the killings of four US contractors a month ago ignited a battle for control of the city between insurgents and marines.

"Those people who share our objectives in a new Iraq have been helping identify who can be helpful in Fallujah," he said.

Comment: You mean, those Iraqis who are on the US payroll, serving American interests. More puppets on the stage.

He said they included a group of former Iraqi generals.

"They are known to others we have been working with in the country, They have spent time with the US commanders," he said.

Comment: We'll just bet they have.

But DiRita admitted that it was a "far from perfect process."

"You scoop up people, you get them trained quickly and some of them turn out to be people you wish you hadn't. That's very possible here as well. It's something people are moving forward with with their eyes wide open," he said.

Comment: Sounds to me like the US is covering its backside just in case any "surprises" crop up that they will then be able to blame on these new Iraqi forces.

"The best vetting is public exposure," he said.

Abizaid, in a video teleconference with reporters from his headquarters in Qatar, expressed guarded optimism but also cautioned that it would take time to build confidence in the plan to turn over the city to the new Iraqi force.

"It's a step-by-step effort that will have to include a clear understanding of the security situation," he said.

"But the details of how we will build an Iraqi security capacity there will take some time. We need to have some patience," he said.

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Wot? No Freedom and Democracy?

Death to those who dare to speak out in Iraq

By Annia Ciezadlo | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
April 30, 2004

BAGHDAD – Even under Saddam Hussein, Saad Jawad spoke his mind. The mild-mannered, political science professor was one of only four people who dared to sign a petition asking Iraq's dictator for a more democratic form of government.

Today, Dr. Jawad still speaks out. But like other university professors across Iraq, he is increasingly afraid that saying what he thinks - or saying anything political at all - could get him killed. "To tell the truth, at the time of Saddam Hussein, we used to speak to our students freely," says Jawad. "Ministers, for example, were criticized all the time. But now, a lot of people are not willing to say these kinds of things because of fear."

Over the past year, Baghdad's intelligentsia has seen a wave of killings: scientists, professors, and academics, executed in carefully planned assassinations.

It's hard to estimate the toll, but US occupation authorities put the number of "intellectuals and professionals" assassinated at up to five a month, not counting another five to 10 monthly attempts.

By some counts, as many as 40 of Iraq's leading scientists and university professors have been killed since last April. The Iraqi police say 1,000 of the country's intellectuals may have been executed in the past year, but such a high figure seems doubtful, especially as rumors abound. At least one mathematics professor who was reported by local news outlets to have been killed turned out to be very much alive.

But regardless of the numbers, there is one sure victim: free speech. On the campuses of Iraq's universities, the killings have created a climate of fear so pervasive that many professors flatly refuse to speak about them, or even to admit they are happening.

"It is limiting our freedom of speech, and that's why you find people from London and Paris, and the Gulf countries, speaking out on Iraqi politics more readily than people in Iraq," says Jawad. [...]

Comment: Surprised? Shocked? Making a dash for that hole in the sand about the same size as your head? Wait! this IS "freedom and democracy" - at least American style. You see, it goes like this. You take a group of people that are imprisoned, but like Gurdjieff's "sheep", they have been hypnotised to think that they are free, or they are too afraid to question the shackles on their feet and hands. You then tell these people that you are going to export the very same type of "freedom" that they have, to other people around the world. Hey presto, you get to pummel the world into submission, no one dares to complain, and you didn't even really lie in doing it! Easy when ya know how!

Killings 'staged to win US support'

AP in Skopje
Saturday May 1, 2004
The Guardian

Macedonian police acknowledged yesterday that the killing of seven alleged Pakistani terrorists two years ago was staged to win US support and that the victims were innocent illegal immigrants.

A police spokeswoman, Mirjana Konteska, told reporters that six people, including three former police commanders, two special police officers and a businessman, have been charged with murder.

The action was carried out in March 2002 by special Macedonian police who claimed to have eliminated a terrorist group allegedly plotting to attack embassies in Macedonia.

Ms Konteska said the seven were in fact illegal immigrants lured into Macedonia by promises that they would be transferred to western Europe.

She said they were transported to Rastanski Lozja, five miles north-east of Skopje, where they were gunned down.

There was no immediate comment from diplomats in Macedonia. Top western envoys had demanded an investigation into the killing.

Macedonia has been a close US ally in the Balkans and has staunchly supported the US-led war on terrorism, including sending troops to Iraq.

Comment: It looks like the Macedonians have learned a thing or two from Uncle Sam. By this stage, just about every government has learned from the US experience that deception really works.

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Iraq Attacks Kill 4 U.S. Service Members

Saturday May 1, 2004
Associated Press Writer

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) - Insurgents killed a U.S. soldier and two civilian contractors in northern Iraq and attacked a U.S. convoy Saturday in Baghdad, as scores of people took to the streets of Fallujah to celebrate a deal to end a monthlong siege of the city.

The soldier was killed in a roadside bomb attack on his convoy Saturday near the town of Qarraya, 45 miles south of Mosul, the military said. A second soldier died Saturday of wounds suffered in a Friday roadside bombing in the same area. The latest deaths brought to 140 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the current wave of violence began in early April. [...]

Taliban seize central Afghan district

Thursday 29 April 2004

Despite losing government, Taliban refuse to give up fighting

Taliban forces have taken control of the governor's residence and security headquarters in central Afghanistan.

Aljazeera's correspondent in Kandahar, Hashmat Allah Muslih, reported exclusively on Thursday that the Taliban have taken control of the second largest district in Uruzgan province.

Comment: Iraq is liberated, and so is Afghanistan. Just remember that. Do not question it, do not think. Just believe that what your leaders say is true. That is all that is required of you.

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Two Americans Said Killed in Saudi Attack

Saturday May 1, 2004

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Gunmen opened fire Saturday at a petrochemical facility co-owned by Exxon Mobil and the Saudi company SABIC in northwestern Saudi Arabia, killing at least six people - two Americans, two Britons, an Australian and a Saudi, company officials and diplomats said.

Interior Ministry officials said three attackers also were killed. There was no immediate word on who was behind the shooting.

The attack killed at least two American engineers, one Australian and two Britons, according to ABB spokesman Bjorn Edlund, based in Zurich, Switzerland. He did not identify them, but said all but one of the Britons worked for his oil services company. The second Briton was a subcontractor, he said.

Prelude to a Clampdown?

Rixon Stewart April 30, 2004

It was reported yesterday that 10 people arrested earlier this month, for involvement in suspected terrorist activity, have all been released without charge.

When originally arrested, there was much media conjecture about plots to blow up Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium during a high-profile football game.

That however, was to prove pure speculation and the release of the ten was met with minimal media interest. Nonetheless it followed a well worn routine: where ‘terror’ suspects are arrested amid a blaze of publicity, held for questioning, and then released without trial and with much less media attention than their arrest.

Since 911, British police have detained 572 for suspected involvement with terrorism. Less than one fifth of these have actually been charged with terrorism offences, and of these, not one has been tried yet.

Believe it or not though, these are the lucky ones. Across the Atlantic, in Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, America is holding its terror suspects without trial and with no immediate prospect of one. At best terror suspects there may face, not a civil court, but a court martial at an unspecified future date.

All of this, coupled with frequent terror warnings, has led some to wonder if the authorities are actually trying to cultivate a sense of unease and apprehension in the public.

Ominous rumblings about when, not if, there are terror attacks in mainland Britain has only added to this. It also provides justification for draconian anti-terror laws currently being pushed through parliament.

So are the authorities really trying to create a frightened, fearful public? This writer certainly thinks so, if only because a cowed apprehensive public is more likely to obey rather than question what it is told. That after all, is the essence of crowd control.

It is also one of the fundamental rules of psychological warfare. Keep your opponents uncertain and feeling vulnerable, stretch their defences with threats of potential attacks and exhaust their reserves. The same rules apply to both individuals and countries at war: the ultimate aim being to sap people’s inner strength and rob them of their ability to think for themselves.

It is against this backdrop that Britain’s Intelligence Service’s new openness needs to be seen. In recent days MI5 has launched an upgraded website, with a view to keeping the public informed and aware of the “War on Terror”.

Alongside features outlining the threat posed is a picture showing the second hijacked airliner about to hit the 110-storey World Trade Centre on September 11.

According to the website: "Despite many successful operations to stop terrorist activity and damage their capability to conduct such attacks, the groups retain the will and the means to mount terrorist operations worldwide".

In other words: no matter where you are, you are never entirely safe, the terror threat is ever present, despite the best efforts of the authorities.

Visitors to the site who have information they think might help MI5 are invited to send messages via email or call a special anti-terror phone number.

In the old Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, that would have been seen as an offer to inform on others. But not so in the “War on Terror” where it is merely an invitation to do ones public duty.

Running alongside MI5’s new “openness”, is a poster campaign to heighten public awareness of the terror threat. Ultimately it will probably all prove as groundless as Saddam Hussein’s Weapon’s of Mass Destruction. But the like the publicity surrounding Iraq’s WMD, it too has a purpose.

It is easily forgotten now, but in the years prior to the invasion of Iraq the media’s fascination with Iraq’s WMD was unavoidable. The endless speculation about what they were, how quickly they could be deployed and so on, was everywhere. Now of course we all know better, but for a while it was useful.

Even when public opposition to an invasion of Iraq was at its height in England, Tony Blair was able to use the prospect of Iraq’s WMD as reason enough to invade. His talk of “45 minutes” will probably go down as one of history’s famous lies, but it did the job. It was sufficient to push an otherwise unwilling country into a war which they undoubtedly now regret.

Likewise, the current media fascination with the supposed “terror threat” may auger something altogether more ominious. In the final analysis, it may prove to be a ruse for a grinding, totalitarian clampdown: a global police state where we are all beholden to a ruthless ruling elite.

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MI5 chief goes online to detail terror threat

Richard Norton-Taylor
Saturday May 1, 2004
The Guardian

Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5, made a personal appeal for help in combating terrorism yesterday as the Security Service spelled out publicly for the first time the threat posed by al-Qaida.

Detailed advice was placed on the relaunched MI5 website advising businesses how to protect themselves from attack, and warning that "supporters of al-Qaida are present in the UK".

It also included a secure internet connection for members of the public to pass on information in confidence.

A section called How You Can Help has been translated into Arabic in what MI5 said yesterday was a move designed "to build on the cooperation of the Muslim community". It will also be translated into French, Urdu and Hindi.

Terrorists were increasingly looking at "soft" targets such as social and retail venues, tourist sites and transport networks, said MI5. The agency has already offered advice to companies in the "critical national infrastructure" - energy, water supplies and communication, for example.

Yesterday's move is designed to alert a wider range of businesses to give as much priority to the terrorist threat as to issues such as health and safety or financial competence, sources said yesterday.

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Cut back shrubs, install locks: MI5 suggests anti-terror measures

By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent
01 May 2004

The security service MI5 took the unprecedented step yesterday of issuing advice on how companies and the public could protect themselves from terrorist attacks, including a list of 10 tips on surviving bomb blasts and detecting spies.

Publication of the advice, which includes such measures as installing locks, CCTV and car park barriers; and cutting back shrubbery around buildings, reflects a belief that an attack in Britain by supporters of the al-Qa'ida terror network is inevitable.

Comment: The ramping up of the fear factor provides an opportunity for all of us to choose. We can allow ourselves to buy into the lie being sold, in which case we become part of the problem, or we can reject the attempts by the powers that be to co-opt the one thing that we possess that makes us unique creative individuals - our will. Will is gained through embracing knowledge of objective reality. Will is diminished by believing the lie.

Children of a Lesser God

By Israel Shamir

In Berlin, the high and mighty including U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, German President Johannes Rau and Israel's president, Moshe Katsav gathered for a Conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) dedicated to the struggle against anti-Semitism. They proclaimed that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is serving as a cover for worldwide anti-Semitic sentiment” as Haaretz reported today. I was not invited to this gathering, but if I were, I would present them with the following talk.

Your Excellencies, this conference is indeed an extremely important, historic event, to be compared with Constantine’s Edict of Milan or with crucial Councils of the Church. I am not sure that all of you fully understand what you did, what is the meaning of the code-words ‘Struggle against antisemitism’. Let us say first what it is NOT. ‘Struggle against antisemitism’ is not defencing of a small persecuted nation; if it would, you were to defend the besieged Palestinians. It is not struggle against racism, for you defend racist apartheid in Palestine. It is not struggle against anti-Jewish discrimination, for there is none, and from Moscow to Paris to New York Jews occupy the very pinnacle of power. It is not defence of Jewish life, for the only Jew wounded in Europe cut himself with his kitchen knife while trying to incriminate a Muslim. It is not defence of Jewish property, for Jews are the only people on earth who regained every piece of property their ancestors ever owned from Berlin to Baghdad. It has nothing to do with long-dead historic antisemitism, anti-Jewish racial theory, for there are Semites and descendents of Jews on both sides of the battle.

‘Struggle against antisemitism’ is a theological concept, related to the centuries-old question: “Are all people equal, equally important and equally close to God; or are the Jews a cut above, while the rest are children of a lesser God?” The first proposition was affirmed by St Paul, the second was the banner of Caiaphas. Today you gave your answer to the question, and, like Pontius Pilate in his time, you preferred Caiaphas. Today you proclaimed that the Judaic ideas and values are the foundation stone of the New World Order you are committed to uphold.

It does not matter that the Palestinians are being immured alive behind the 25-foot concrete wall; that the olive groves are erased and wells demolished; what is important that “Israel or its leaders should not be demonized or villainized” in words of your colleague Colin Powell. It is not a question of policy anymore, but of theology, for belief in Jewish superiority is the official faith of Pax Americana, like Christianity was that of the Roman Empire in the days of Constantine the Great. To stress the point, you forbade using Nazi symbols in conjecture with Israeli policies, but allowed superimposing Swastika of Hitler onto the Cross of Christ.

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Former US diplomats send protest letter to Bush

By Guy Dinmore in Washington and Jean Eaglesham in London
Thu Apr 29, 8:45 PM ET

Inspired by the attack of their British colleagues on Tony Blair 's foreign policy, more than 20 former US diplomats have so far signed a letter to President George W. Bush protesting against his pro-Israeli stance.

The letter accuses Mr Bush of reversing long-standing American policy in the Middle East by endorsing the demands of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, that Israel retain big settlements in the occupied West Bank and deny the right of return to Palestinian refugees.

"Your unqualified support of Sharon's extra-judicial assassinations, Israel's Berlin Wall-like barrier, its harsh military measures in occupied territories, and now your endorsement of Sharon's unilateral plan are costing our country its credibility, prestige and friends," the letter says.

The letter was drafted by Andrew Killgore, former ambassador to Qatar, and Richard Curtiss, former chief inspector of the US Information Agency. The letter was to have been sent to the White House today, but an organiser said it was being held to give more former envoys the chance to sign.

Former ambassadors to Iraq , India, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have signed so far.

Others include John Brady Kiesling, one of at least three US diplomats who resigned last year in protest against the war on Iraq, and Greg Thielmann, until recently a senior State Department intelligence analyst who has accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence on Iraq's weapons programmes and alleged ties with terrorist groups.

The letter begins by applauding the 52 former British diplomats who attacked the UK prime minister, and ends by calling for a reassertion of "American principles of justice and fairness in our relations with all the peoples of the Middle East".

"A return to the time- honoured American tradition of fairness will reverse the present tide of ill-will in Europe and the Middle East, even in Iraq," it says.

While the former UK diplomats made the headlines at home, the American letter has stirred little media interest so far. […]

Comment: Well, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!!" (in the words of that great sage of Andy Griffith show fame, Gomer Pyle) Over 20 former US diplomats sign a letter criticizing the President for his recent public endorsement of Ariel Sharon's new plan for the Holy Land, and hardly a peep about it in the US media. Does this really come as such a shock?

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Guest Commentary: Ray Close on 'The Real Meaning of Fallujah'

Ray Close
former CIA Station Chief for Saudi Arabia

The proposed plan to turn over control of the Fallujah security situation to an Iraqi force under the command of four retired generals is much more significant than might at first be apparent.

On the strategic level, with regard to overall American policy in Iraq, it represents a defeat for those who have contended all along that the insurgency is being carried on by a small group of thugs who do not enjoy widespread support within the Iraqi population at large. Today Donald Rumsfeld is explaining that he is merely acceding to the recommendations of local American military commanders that this compromise arrangement be substituted for the original plan for an all-out assault ---- weakly shifting from himself to them the responsibility for this sudden abandonment of both tough tactics and tough rhetoric. This represents a humiliating defeat for those who have argued that the United States had no choice but to "pacify" Fallujah, arrest the insurgents, confiscate their weapons, and reestablish the authority of the American military occupation forces. The new plan would accomplish none of those explicit and uncompromising assertions made repeatedly over the past few weeks by the president himself, by US military commanders in the field, and (please note) by politicians in the United States of BOTH PARTIES.

Strangely, George W. Bush does not seem willing yet to acknowledge this obvious defeat for his policies. One cannot attribute this merely to bad advice from his mentors, unless one is to believe that the neocons have a complete monopoly on all in-put to his mental processes. That is not a credible explanation. It seems more likely that his stubborn adherence to simplistic explanations of all anti-American sentiments and actions is another sign of his worrisome inability to comprehend the subtleties of this and other similar international challenges falling within the broad title of "the war on terror". Perhaps his intellectual mind-set ("there is no common ground between freedom and terrorism") simply makes it impossible for him to see the world as anything other than a zero-sum conflict between good and evil. That is very troubling quality, especially in the leader of a superpower.

Another conclusion one may draw from events of the past few days is that the general US strategy for dealing with Iraq, which has been based on predictions and recommendations of the neocon cabal in Washington (especially Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle) is becoming exposed at last as the disaster that informed analysts always knew it would become.

U.S. Hands Over Some Positions in Iraq

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Led by one of Saddam Hussein 's generals, Iraqi troops replaced U.S. Marines on Friday and raised the Iraqi flag at the entrance to Fallujah under a plan to end the monthlong siege of the city. A suicide car bomb on the outskirts killed two Americans and wounded six.

The two deaths on the final day of April raised the U.S. death toll to 136, making it the deadliest month for American forces — as well as for Iraqis — since President Bush launched the war in March 2003.

U.S. officials provided no further details on the bombing.

The shift of security responsibilities to Iraqis was a move toward ending the intense fighting that had evoked strong international criticism and from America's Iraqi allies. […]

Comment: Unfortunately, this may be only for public relations purposes. Just a ruse to fool and sedate the frustrated population of Fallujah.

Convoys of U.S. troops and equipment could be seen heading out of parts of Fallujah, replaced by Iraqi troopers in red berets under the flag that flew over Saddam's Iraq .

Residents said that by Friday evening, U.S. troops had left several neighborhoods that had seen heavy fighting, including Nazzal, Shuhada, Nueimiyah and an industrial area. As U.S. Marines moved out, Iraqi police and civil defense units moved in.

U.S. military guards permitted civilian cars to enter the city after searches.

"Initially it appears that the transition to the Fallujah Protective Army is working," said Marine. Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne. "It's a delicate situation. The Fallujah Protective Army is the Iraqi solution we've all been looking for in this area."

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, coalition deputy operations chief, insisted the Marines were not "withdrawing" from Fallujah, one of the most hostile cities in the tense Sunni Triangle, but were simply "repositioning."

Asked if the Marines were leaving, Kimmitt replied: "Nothing could be further from the truth." He said the Marines would maintain a strong presence "in and around Fallujah."

"The coalition objectives remain unchanged — to eliminate armed groups, collect and positively control all heavy weapons, and turn over foreign fighters and disarm anti-Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah," Kimmitt said.

Nevertheless, the move appeared aimed at reducing the American profile at a time of growing opposition among Iraqis to the U.S.-led occupation. […]

Comment: In other words, this is all just a show, a means to placate the population. "The coalition objectives remain unchanged" - the only thing that has changed is who will now be doing the "dirty work" under the guidance of the now "repositioned" US military.

The security plan also marked a shift in U.S. strategy, which had marginalized former members of Saddam's Baath Party and abolished the Iraqi army last year.

The commander of the new Fallujah brigade, Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh, once served in Saddam's Republican Guard. He arrived in the city Friday wearing his old uniform to the cheers of bystanders.

Comment: So now, a former general in the Republican Guard is good buddies with the US military. Isn't that interesting? See also: Ex-Hussein General to Lead Iraqi Forces.

Under the plan, a force of 600 to 1,100 Iraqis, many of them former soldiers from the Fallujah area, would initially man checkpoints. Marines will remain on or near the city's perimeter and at a later stage conduct their own patrols inside the city, a Pentagon official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Comment: "…at a later stage conduct their own patrols inside the city,…" So, it is a ruse. A farce. A method to placate the population. There will be no real turn-over of Fallujah to Iraqis, just the appearance of one.

Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, said the United States was sticking by most of the objectives it outlined when the Marines stormed Fallujah on April 5 — mainly to seize men who killed and mutilated four American contractors.

However, Abizaid conceded the killers probably had fled the city. […]

Comment: So, the main objective on the seige of Fallujah was to apprehend the men who killed and mutilated the four American mercenaries. Yet, Abizaid concedes that they are probably not even in Fallujah any longer. So much for the main objective. How long has the US military thought this? How many innocent Iraqi civilians have been butchered to capture men who are probably not in Fallujah, who, if they had any survival instincts at all, probably left immediately after the incident where the four mercenaries were killed? The Associated Press says 1,361.

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AP Toll Says 1,361 Iraqis Killed in April

By LEE KEATH, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Volunteers hunting for bodies in Fallujah find a woman and her daughter in their home, killed in the siege but undiscovered for days. Chanting mourners bury two boys caught in the crossfire of a Baghdad gunfight. A morgue in Basra overflows with torn and burned bodies from a suicide bombing.

Victims — young and old, women and men, insurgents and innocents — have been piling up day by day, making April the deadliest month for Iraqis — and Americans — since the fall of Saddam Hussein a year ago.

Official and complete death counts for Iraqis nationwide are unavailable. But a count by The Associated Press found that around 1,361 Iraqis were killed from April 1 to April 30 — 10 times the figure of at least 136 U.S. troops who died during the same period.

The Iraqi tally was compiled from daily records of violence reported by AP based on statements issued by the U.S. military, Iraqi police and local hospitals. The count includes civilians, insurgents and members of the Iraqi security forces, though a detailed breakdown was not possible. The Iraqi health ministry and the Red Crescent could not be reached Friday.

Also, the tally is likely incomplete, because witnesses reported deaths in some attacks that could not be confirmed by a hospital, the Iraqi police or U.S. officials. […]

Comment: So, at LEAST, 1,361 Iraqis have perished to find a group of Iraqis who are probably not even in Fallujah. And the US is going to hang out on the outskirts of the city just the same, just in case they come back for fresh clothes or something. How does the US even know who these men are? They don't. The bloodbath in Fallujah was nothing more than a genocidal rampage of vengeance designed to teach the Iraqis a lesson a force them into submission.

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New Iraqi flag to be replaced in months

By Mohammed Abbas
30 April 2004

Iraq's new flag is already being spoken of in the past tense after the universal outrage its unveiling provoked amongst Iraqis.

Massoud Barzani, head of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), said this week the flag "will stand for a few months until we decide on a new flag for Iraq".

Designed by London-based Iraqi artist and architect Rifat Chaderji, 77, the flag consists of a white background with a pale blue crescent and three lines running across the bottom; two blue lines to represent the Euphrates and the Tigris, and a yellow line between them to represent the Sumerian colour for the sun. […]

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Zapatero, Chirac together on Iraq and EU

PARIS, April 29 (AFP) - New Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and French President Jacques Chirac pledged on Thursday to work together on Iraq and the EU, ending months of strained relations between Paris and Zapatero's predecessor.

"We hope this will be the best ever period of bilateral relations between France and Spain," Zapatero told a news conference after talks with Chirac at the latter's Elysee Palace.

Chirac told the news conference he and Zapatero had agreed at their meeting - their first official talks since Zapatero took office two weeks ago - to "coordinate" the positions of Madrid, Paris and Berlin on Iraq within the United Nations Security Council.

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Dazzling entry for new EU members

Huge street parties, sparkling firework displays and joyful concerts have heralded the biggest expansion in the history of the European Union.
The 15 old members welcomed in Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia at midnight.

Leaders of all the members will later join Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern for a flag-raising ceremony in Dublin.

The expansion to 25 nations makes the EU the world's biggest trading bloc.

The EU now has a combined population of 455 million.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said a dream had become reality.

Hundreds of thousands packed city squares in the newcomer states to see the fireworks on the stroke of midnight and hear Beethoven's Ode to Joy - the EU's official anthem.


10 new countries (up to 25)
74 million people (up to 455m)
444bn euro of extra GDP (up to 9,613bn)
738,573 sq km of territory (up to 4m sq km)

Ireland, which holds the EU's revolving presidency, will host a Day of Welcomes including official ceremonies on Saturday but its capital Dublin also joined in the fun at midnight, with a massive "Stars of the Sea" display of rockets on the city's Sandymount Strand.

One of the fathers of European reunification, Helmut Kohl, spoke through tears when he addressed thousands at a ceremony in the German town of Zittau, which borders both Poland the Czech Republic.

"The message is there will never again be war in Europe," the former German chancellor said.

Marek Wos, a 40-year-old Polish businessman attending the celebrations in Warsaw, said it was a good day for his country.

"We will no longer be second-class people from a second-class country," he said.

Ireland braced

On Saturday afternoon all 25 leaders are expected to join Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern for a flag-raising ceremony in Dublin.

Security for the formal ceremonies is expected to be particularly tight. Irish media report that police leave has been cancelled and 4,000 officers will be patrolling the streets.

Some 2,500 soldiers are also said to be on stand-by. Anti-globalisation activists are expected to hold protests.

Comment: Great, now if there is ever a comet impact on the European mainland, we will all die equally as members of a single economic block. Oops, sorry, that was a little pessimisitc and negative. We shall endeavor to remain happy and upbeat until after any possible cometary impact, at which point the Signs page will be available for all to read, etched on a stone tablet, positioned in some convenient location. :-)

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Patagonian ice in rapid retreat

The dense, blue ice of the San Rafael Glacier

By Jonathan Amos
BBC News Online science staff

One of South America's leading natural tourist destinations, the San Rafael Glacier in Chile, is retreating at an alarming rate, say UK scientists.

Located in a World Heritage Site, the glacier draws thousands of visitors each year to marvel at the way icebergs calve into the sea from its front wall.

But Dr Neil Glasser and colleagues say rapid melting is now under way because of historically high air temperatures.

They warn that if the glacier withdraws on to the land, tourism will suffer.

[...] "We first went there 13 years ago.

"People put paint marks on the rock wall where the glacier was then; they even built a lookout post directly over the front of the glacier in 92," Dr Glasser said.

"This year, the glacier is nowhere near this point - it's about a kilometre back from where it was.

[...] At San Rafael, the glacier's position was recorded once in the late 1800s as being more than 10km further out into the sea than it is now.

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Climate issue 'critical' to Blair

There is "no bigger long-term question facing the global community" than the threat of climate change, Tony Blair has said.

The UK prime minister was speaking at the launch of the Climate Group, an international campaign aiming to speed up greenhouse gas emission reductions.

[...] He said one of the first things he did on taking office was to ask scientists the scale of the global warming problem.

"One of the interesting things that came back to me was that this problem was greater than I had realised," Mr Blair said.

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Flash Floods Kill at Least Three in Texas

Saturday May 1, 2004

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Flash floods killed at least three people, sweeping one woman from a rescuer's hand, as heavy thunderstorms rolled across North Texas, and three toddlers were still missing Saturday.

The storms struck late Friday with wind gusting to as high as 60 mph that knocked down tree limbs and power lines. Hail as big as golf balls pounded some areas, the National Weather Service said.

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UFOs over Iran? An East Haven man offers proof

(East Haven-WTNH, Apr. 30, 2004 7:20 PM)

It's not often we report on UFOs, but lately there have been a number of sightings in Iran. And a Connecticut man has the pictures that he says prove something is out there.

"I really have no choice but to believe," says Abi Golbazi of East Haven. "I've never seen anything like this."

Golbazi is talking about something he believes he saw in the Iranian sky : a UFO.

"First is was just a shiny light, changing colors ... It seemed perfectly round, circular shaped, spaceship if you will.

"Window-looking spots all over it... It has an opening in the lower bottom of the circle."

While visiting family the East Haven engineer recorded over 20 minutes of footage of the object, and wondered if this phenomenon would become a regular visitor to the Middle East.

Seventeen Cattle Mysteriously Die at Gilmer Ranch

An East Texas rancher is looking for a logical explanation after seventeen of his cows fall dead within hours, with no obvious reason. It was Sunday that rancher Ronny Blasengame and his longtime neighbor A.D. Varner began finding dead cattle on a ranch off of Cherokee trace near Gilmer.

"As I'm dragging one off i happened to see another one laying on the ground" says Blasengame. "It seemed like the more we looked the more we found... After that second one I knew something was going on then" says Varner.

They found numerous others dead or dying , and at the end of the day 17 were dead... With no visible marks as to what killed them.. All of the animals they found were near a new oil rig that was being worked on their property.

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Fishy goings-on in back garden

A FISH out of water in Normanton has left members of a naturalists' society scratching their heads and wondering whether its 'sturgeon' on the ridiculous.

A seven-inch Atlantic sturgeon was found lying on the lawn at the rear of a house on Foxholes Lane, Normanton.

But the sturgeon could have come from an ornamental fishpond according to the man aiming to make Wakefield the caviar capital of Britain.

Peter Barritt, treasurer of Castleford & District Natur-alists' Society, was called in to try to identify the fish, and was shocked to find it was a sturgeon.

He said: "How this fish came to be in a West Yorkshire garden is a mystery. Perhaps it was dropped by a bird which could not swallow it due to the hard triangular formations on its back."

He also wondered whether it could have come from a local fish farm or if there were any caviar-producing fish in the River Calder.

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The Vatican's top exorcist sends the devil packing

By Tracy Wilkinson
Los Angeles Times
Posted April 30 2004, 9:59 AM EDT

ROME -- In a small room, well away from the street so that no one hears the screams, Father Gabriele Amorth does battle with Satan. He is a busy man.

As the Vatican's top exorcist, Amorth performs the mysterious, ancient ritual dozens of times a week. A confused world engulfed in tragedy and chaos is turning increasingly to black magic, the occult and fortune-telling, he said, proof that the devil and his handmaidens are having a field day.

"These customs open the door to evil spirits and to demonic possessions," Amorth said. "Exorcism is God's true miracle."

[...] Amorth said his calendar is always full. "I have three this afternoon," he said matter-of-factly recently.

With little prompting, he whipped out his equipment, sheathed in a weathered leather bag that is always at his side: a silver and wooden crucifix, an aspergillum for sprinkling holy water and a container of baptismal oil.

He acted out simple steps from the ritual, wrapping his purple priest's stole around the shoulders of a visitor and making the sign of the cross on her forehead. (All clear, he pronounced.)

Comment: Anyone who has read Malachi Martin's account of exorcism, Hostage To The Devil, will find the idea of three exorcisms in a afternoon ludicrous. The exorcisms discussed by Martin went on for hours. Also, Amorth's statement that "I've never been afraid of the devil. In fact, I can say he is often scared of me," is distinctly at odds with the descriptions given by Martin.

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And Finally...

"A New Scandal"

By Rob Rienow

I was listening to the talk radio today and the host made the following comments: “There are some inside sources who are getting information that maybe, just possibly, Laura Bush, the First Lady of the United States, might be a closet smoker. Now these reports are unconfirmed, but I want to you know that you heard it here first…this may be another scandal in the new White House and in the Bush family.”

Just reading those words here, your first reaction is probably to say that this was said in jest, that they were making fun of the “scandal hungry” media. Let me assure you that they were totally serious. They actually used the word “scandal” to refer to the possibility that the President’s wife might be a smoker! If that is a scandal, then we are in real trouble. Don’t get me wrong here, I think smoking is a bad thing. I don’t do it. I strongly encourage others not to do it. But it is NOT a scandal for a public figure to smoke!

Are we the only one’s who see the irony here? The media calls Christians “hateful, judgmental bigots” when we take stands against abortion. Why? Because most of those reporting the news to us believe abortion is OK, therefore those that disagree are bigots. But isn’t this the same thing in reverse…the reporter (and the liberal left) think smoking is evil, so therefore they attack? Laura Bush must be the ultimate evil woman in the eyes of the media since she is both pro-life, and now we learn that she just might smoke cigarettes in her home!

When a person is outraged by a public figure smoking a hypothetical/rumored cigarette, we have sunk to a new low. I want you to get the right message here. This article is not about smoking. It is about a challenge for all of us to be honest, consistent, and fair. What things really matter? Those are the things that need our attention.

Comment: Rumours are that Laura Bush is once again smoking in secret! Could this cost Bush the election? Stay tuned!

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