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Thursday, May 6, 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, Part 13

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Picture of the Day

Hang gliding at Luchon
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

In August 1971, nine California college students were "arrested" and thrown into a prison in the basement of the Stanford University Psychology Department as part of a planned two-week psychology experiment. The experiment had to be called off after six days because the conditions in the "prison" had become dangerous. The guards, especially those on the night shift when they thought they were not being watched, had begun abusing the student "prisoners" in ways that resemble the recent abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

On Sunday morning, Aug., 17, 1971, nine young men were "arrested" in their homes by Palo Alto police. At least one of those arrested vividly remembers the shock of having his neighbors come out to watch the commotion as TV cameras recorded his hand-cuffing for the nightly news.

The arrestees were among about 70 young men, mostly college students eager to earn $15 a day for two weeks, who volunteered as subjects for an experiment on prison life that had been advertised in the Palo Alto Times. After interviews and a battery of psychological tests, the two dozen judged to be the most normal, average and healthy were selected to participate, assigned randomly either to be guards or prisoners. Those who would be prisoners were booked at a real jail, then blindfolded and driven to campus where they were led into a makeshift prison in the basement of Jordan Hall.

Those assigned to be guards were given uniforms and instructed that they were not to use violence but that their job was to maintain control of the prison.

From the perspective of the researchers, the experiment became exciting on day two when the prisoners staged a revolt. Once the guards had crushed the rebellion, "they steadily increased their coercive aggression tactics, humiliation and dehumanization of the prisoners," Zimbardo recalls. "The staff had to frequently remind the guards to refrain from such tactics," he said, and the worst instances of abuse occurred in the middle of the night when the guards thought the staff was not watching. The guards' treatment of the prisoners ­ such things as forcing them to clean out toilet bowls with their bare hands and act out degrading scenarios, or urging them to become snitches ­ "resulted in extreme stress reactions that forced us to release five prisoners, one a day, prematurely." [The Stanford Prison Experiment: Still powerful after all these years]

A presentation of the experiment, for those who wish to learn more, can be found on the web site dedicated to it.

Phil Zimbardo, the Stanford professor who organized the Stanford Prison Experiment, discusses the similarities between his experiment and the actions of the soldiers in Iraq:

Abuse of Iraqui prisoners and Stanford Prison Experiment

Recent horrors being displayed of sexual degradation of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military army reservists elicit direct and sad parallels between similar behavior of the "guards" in the Stanford Prison Experiment against their "prisoners." As the guards on the night shift became ever more bored with their long 8 hour shift, they began to use the prisoners as play things for their amusement, believing that their actions were not under surviellance during the night (they were secretly video taped for subsequent viewing). I then discovered they would get them to simulate sodomy and other homophobic behaviors. They also stripped prisoners naked for various offenses, took away their sheets and mattresses, put them in solitary for excessive periods -- all of which are mirrored in the behavior of military police in the Abu Ghraib prison outside of Bagdad. It is one reason we ended the study a week early because the guards were abusing the power in their roles, and were becoming uncontrollable by our staff. (see www.prisonexp.org)

See the report by Seymour Hersh, who helped expose the MY Lai massacre, for details of the exent of the torture, abuse of all kinds, murder of inmates, coverups by senior officers and details.

In the current situation, we must not allow the politicians and pentagon to dismiss the seriousness of what happened with the usual dispositional analysis of a few bad apples in a good barrel. Bush said it should not reflect on the good nature of all Americans or our military.

Wrong. The situational analysis says the barrel of war is filled with vinegar that will transform good cucumbers into sour pickles and will always do it to make the majority of good people, men and women, into perpetrators of evil, where there is: anonymity-deindividuation, dehumanization, secrecy, diffusion of responsibility, social modeling, big power differentials, frustration, feelings of revenge,obedience to authority, lack of supervision that conveys a sense of permissiveness.

Remember the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, other good boy-soldiers murdered, raped, scalped and burned to death hundreds of innocent Vietnamese civilians, and only one was tried and Lt. Calley was soon released to become a hero of the right wing.

I studied torturers and death squad executioners in Brazil and there civil and military police committed the most atrocious horrors against fellow citizens once they were labelled the "enemy" -- socialists and communists-- and the ideology of "National Security" made them a threat to the fascist military junta running the country--with the support of our government.

Again we show in our recent book that basic social psych principles were operating to morph ordinary Brazilian police into brutal torturers and heartless mass murderers (see Violence Workers, UC Berkeley press, 2003, Huggins, Haritos-Fatouros, Zimbardo).

The ubiquitous causal force in all this is the Evil of War, and the cover story of "National Security," and now the exaggerated fears of terrorism that have been induced by ten "credible" terror alarms is transforming our nation into a culture of victims and our soldiers into brutal abusers of other human beings.

This one incident of wanton, repeated, dehumanized abuse of innocent Iraqi civilian detainees will haunt the objectives of the Bush administration of bringing any semblance of US- style democracy to the Middle East -- it will now not happen. It is not Americans at our worst, it is human nature succumbing to the power of evil situational forces. The horror is that our soldiers should never have been put in harm's way to be killed, maimed, and now to have to function in situations that enabled them to behave in ways that are a perversion of the perfection of our humanity. The rush to this pre-emptive war was based on lies, false assumptions and political and economic objectives that had nothing to do with WMD, terrorism, or enhancing our national security.

WAR IS INDEED HELL, AND THIS AGGRESSIVE, NEEDLESS WAR IS HELL ON EARTH THAT WILL HAVE LONG-LASTING NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES AT HOME AND ABROAD. ONE SLIM HOPE IS SOME IMPROVEMENT AFTER THE NOV. ELECTIONS IF THE CURRENT WAR-MONGERING ADMINISTRATION IS DEFEATED. BUT THE CURRENT NATIONAL INERTIA IS AMAZING TO ME, ESPECIALLY AMONG OUR PASSIVE UNCONCERNED STUDENTS.

Phil Zimbardo
Professor of Psychology
Stanford University

You can also hear an interview with Zimbardo from NPR.

There is very likely an important difference between the university students in this experiment in 1971 and most of the soldiers in Iraq: education. The students in the experient were dealing with their peers, other students from by and large the same backgrounds. The soldiers in Iraq are dealing with a people, Iraqi Arabs, who they most likely consider to be dirty and inhuman, for this is the image of the Arab that is promoted in the US media. How much easier would it be, then, for soldiers to fall into this type of humiliating and degrading behaviour?

While we think there is something important to be learned from this experiment, we think that it also covers up something that is even more important.

Professor Zimbardo does not believe that "evil" is in our genes. He believes that his work shows that, put into the appropriate situation, anyone can become a monster. He outlines his ideas in a speech delivered in 1999 to the Holocaust Studies Center at Sonoma State University:

* I argue against the theory that Evil resides in the genes, biology, or temperament of particular people -- the sadists, deranged, psychopaths, and their ilk. Instead I will propose that most evil is the product of rather ordinary people caught up in unusual circumstances that they are not equipped to cope with in the normal ways that have worked in the past to escape, avoid or challenge them, while they are being recruited, seduced, initiated into evil by persuasive authorities or compelling peer pressure.

* Then I will present a few social psychological studies of my colleagues and mine that demonstrate it is possible to induce "Every man and Every woman" to do deeds that are alien to their personalities and to their previous history of morality.

* In doing so, I will use the metaphor of the imaginary Line between Good and Evil that separates the "GOOD US"' from the "EVIL THEM" -- my analytical goal is to determine what it would take for any one of you Good Folks to cross that line.

What we find curious is the either/or thinking this point of view shows. While it may be possible that anyone, given the circumstances, can become a monster, studies on psychopathy indicate clearly that some people need no special circumstances to be monsters. They seem to be born that way.

However, there was an observation made during the experiment that appears to call into question the idea that "anyone" can be turned into a monster. In analysing the data from their experiment, they came to the following conclusions about the guards:

Types of Guards

By the fifth day, a new relationship had emerged between prisoners and guards. The guards now fell into their job more easily -- a job which at times was boring and at times was interesting.

There were three types of guards. First, there were tough but fair guards who followed prison rules. Second, there were "good guys" who did little favors for the prisoners and never punished them. And finally, about a third of the guards were hostile, arbitrary, and inventive in their forms of prisoner humiliation. These guards appeared to thoroughly enjoy the power they wielded, yet none of our preliminary personality tests were able to predict this behavior. The only link between personality and prison behavior was a finding that prisoners with a high degree of authoritarianism endured our authoritarian prison environment longer than did other prisoners.

In a paper published in 2000, Zimbardo said this about the guards:

Guard behavior varied from being fully sadistic to occasionally acting so to being a tough guard who "went by the book" and, for a few, to being "good guards" by default. That is, they did not degrade or harass the prisoners, and even did small favors for them from time to time, but never, not once, did any of the so-called good guards ever contest an order by a sadistic guard, intervene to stop or prevent despicable behavior by another guard, or come to work late or leave early. In a real sense, it was the good guards who most kept the prisoners in line because the prisoners wanted their approval and feared things would get worse if those good guards quit or ever took a dislike to them.

We would like to pose the following question: What was it about the "good guys" that kept them "good", even in the same conditions as the others? What was it about the first group, who followed the rules, who were "tough but fair", that kept them from going over the line?

Apparently Zimbardo believes that anyone, when put into the appropriate conditions, can become a monster: "my analytical goal is to determine what it would take for any one of you Good Folks to cross that line." And yet two-thirds of the student-guards in his experiment did not, and one-third showed the opposite behaviour.

Genetics? He discounts genetics. We do not know if his testing of the volunteers prior to selection included questions formulated to eliminate psychopaths.

Soul power? The good academic will certainly never consider "soul" as a variable in his testing.

We have no way of knowing whether those who refused to become monsters were people with the kernal of a soul within. It is interesting, though, that similar experiments have shown the same one-third ratio of testees who refuse to cross what they consider an ethical line.

Yet as readers of this page will be all too aware, a soul in this world is a very fragile thing.

In discussing the work of Stanley Milgram, the psychologist who carried out the famous obediance tests where people were put in a situation where they were asked to give electric shocks to people who failed an experiment, with ever greater voltages with each failure, provoking screams and even loss of consciousness (all simulated), Zimbardo notes that, once again, one-third of the testees refused to go further after the subject began showing pain. However he points out::

But I am sure that you are wondering about the 1/3 who were heroic in resisting the power of these situational forces. Indeed in my analysis that is the definition of HEROIC, those individuals who are somehow able to resist the pressures that most of us give into, are vulnerable to. But even they obeyed an authority higher than Milgram after they disobeyed him. What did they do after quitting the experiment when the Learner appeared to have had a heart attack in the other room? Get up from their seat to help him? Demand that the Experimenter help him? What? I asked Milgram that question, he checked his records and memory and answered simply, NOT ONE, NOT EVER, did those heroic subjects leave their seat to help their victim without first being given permission to do so by the Experimenter. The were still unconsciously obeying their elementary school teacher's dictates that students must remain in their seats until they are told they can get up. Obedience runs deep and insidious in our learned behavioral patterns.

In our world, the programming is so complete that even those who refuse to continue are unable to stand up to the authorities and demand justice. Don't we see this today in the United States where more and more people are becoming aware of Bush's idiocy and criminal activities? But what are they DOING? And, again, in the Great American Experiment, can we hope for more than one-third of the population to even pose the question?

We leave you with the thoughts of Christina Maslach, the woman who put a stop to the Stanford Prison Experiment when she arrived on Day 5 and was horrified by the situation in the "prison", as well as the personality changes in the experimenters, including Zimbardo, who she would later marry. In responding to the notion that she was a hero to call a stop to the experiment, she writes:

First, however, let me say what the story is not. Contrary to the standard (and trite) American myth, the Stanford Prison Experiment is not a story about the lone individual who defies the majority. Rather, it is a story about the majority -- about how everyone who had some contact with the prison study (participants, researchers, observers, consultants, family, and friends) got so completely sucked into it. The power of the situation to overwhelm personality and the best of intentions is the key story line here. [An Outsider's View of the Underside of the Stanford Prison Experiment, Christina Maslach]

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New Prison Torture Images Emerge

By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 6, 2004

The collection of photographs begins like a travelogue from Iraq. Here are U.S. soldiers posing in front of a mosque. Here is a soldier riding a camel in the desert. And then: a soldier holding a leash tied around a man's neck in an Iraqi prison. He is naked, grimacing and lying on the floor.

Mixed in with more than 1,000 digital pictures obtained by The Washington Post are photographs of naked men, apparently prisoners, sprawled on top of one another while soldiers stand around them. There is another photograph of a naked man with a dark hood over his head, handcuffed to a cell door. And another of a naked man handcuffed to a bunk bed, his arms splayed so wide that his back is arched. A pair of women's underwear covers his head and face.

The graphic images, passed around among military police who served at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, are a new batch of photographs similar to those broadcast a week ago on CBS's "60 Minutes II" and published by the New Yorker magazine. They appear to provide further visual evidence of the chaos and unprofessionalism at the prison detailed in a report by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. His report, which relied in part on the photographs, found "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" that were inflicted on detainees.

This group of photographs, taken from the summer of 2003 through the winter, ranges widely, from mundane images of everyday military life to pictures showing crude simulations of sex among soldiers. The new pictures appear to show American soldiers abusing prisoners, many of whom wear ID bands, but The Post could not eliminate the possibility that some of them were staged.

Staged? For what? For fun? Would that be "staged" with or without the consent of the Iraqis involved? In the below picture, would the Iraqi man lying on the ground imitating Pfc Lynndie England's dog have been asked to grimace for the camera? Would he be doing so willingly? If not then perhaps he was coerced to participate in the staging of the Photos? Or perhaps they are not Iraqis at all. Perhaps the naked men are actually US soldiers playing the part of tortured Iraqis? Ah yes, we can see it now. A group of US soldiers all conspire to "stage" images of Iraqis being tortured, so that they can fool the folks back home. They were just joking! They just wanted their families and collegues to think that they were torturing Iraqis.

The photographs were taken by several digital cameras and loaded onto compact discs, which circulated among soldiers in the 372nd Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Cresaptown, Md. The pictures were among those seized by military investigators probing conditions at the prison, a source close to the unit said.

The investigation has led to charges being filed against six soldiers from the 372nd. "The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence," Taguba's report states. [...]

The photographs have been condemned by U.S. military commanders, President Bush and leaders around the world. They have sparked particularly strong indignation in the Middle East, where many people see them as reinforcing the notion "that the situation in Iraq is one of occupation," said Shibley Telhami, who holds the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.

The impact is heightened by religion and culture. Arabs "are even more offended when the issue has to do with nudity and sexuality," he said. "The bottom line here is these are pictures of utter humiliation."

It is unclear who took the photographs, or why.

Lawyers representing two of the accused soldiers, and some soldiers' relatives, have said the pictures were ordered up by military intelligence officials who were trying to humiliate the detainees and coerce other prisoners into cooperating.

Israeli "military intelligence officials" perhaps? Maybe, but what are they staging? It is very likely that there are various agendas involved here, and various theories as to whose agenda is being fulfilled currently. On the one hand, we could suggest, as we did a few days ago that this current scandal is designed to fill Americans with "self-disgust", but are the majority of Americans even capable of "self disgust", are they capable of disabusing themselves of the idea that American is still the greatest country on earth? What of the CIA? Wasn't George Tenet alleged to be furious at the White House and Pentagon for laying the blame for the bogus intelligence on the CIA? Is it possible that the CIA are now attempting to get their own back on Rumsfeld et al by inciting troops to commit acts of torture on Iraqi prisoners and then releasing the photos? But then again, whose agenda does that serve? Who controls the CIA? And we come back to the "Zionists". Does Sharon's "greater Israel" figure into all this? Is Sharon expecting to annex Iraq, then Iran, then the rest of the "Middle East", just as he is currently annexing parts of Palestine? Perhaps he will get what he wants, but again, what might follow that and whose agenda is ultimately served. Who was on first, and who will be on last?...

"It is clear that the intelligence community dictated that these photographs be taken," said Guy L. Womack, a Houston lawyer representing Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., 35, one of the soldiers charged.

The father of another soldier facing charges, Spec. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Pa., also said his son was following orders. "He was asked to take pictures, and he did what he was told," Daniel Sivits said in a telephone interview last week.

Military spokesmen at the U.S. Central Command in Qatar and at the Combined Joint Task Force 7 headquarters in Baghdad referred requests for comment about those claims to Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a U.S. military spokeswoman. Morgenthaler could not be reached by telephone yesterday and did not return requests to comment by e-mail. Requests to speak with Col. Thomas M. Pappas -- who commands the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, based in Germany, and whose troops were stationed at Abu Ghraib -- were declined by a U.S. military spokesman for the Army's V Corps in Heidelberg, Germany.

Yesterday, in Fort Ashby, W.Va., two siblings and a friend identified Pfc. Lynndie England, 21, as the soldier appearing in a picture holding a leash tied to the neck of a man on the floor. England, a member of the 372nd, has also been identified in published reports as one of the soldiers in the earlier set of pictures that were made public, which her relatives also confirmed yesterday. England has been reassigned to Fort Bragg, N.C., her family said. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful. The military has not charged her in the case.

The pictures obtained by The Post include shots of soldiers simulating sexually explicit acts with one another and shots of a cow being skinned and gutted and soldiers posing with its severed head. There are also dozens of pictures of a cat's severed head.

Comment: One thing that is evident is that the attention being focused on the misbehavior of "Coalition" Soldiers in Iraq distracts us completely from the fact that Iraqis are dying by the thousands.

Reader Comments: It was enough for me to read the details of the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners and people. It makes me sick and I am concerned for everyone. Out of RESPECT for these victims, I decided not to look at photographs. [...]

It has always been the plan of the New World Order "powers that be" organizers to do away with kings, czars, rulers, presidents, religion and it's leaders, national borders, etc. These photos are part of the "mud slinging" that's going on within that faction to decide who gets control and where from.

When New York's twin towers were destroyed, that took care of the New Empire. (will the empire strike back?). The Vatican had it's desires to rule, but by advertising that the priests are child predators, that was some mud on their faces. Now with the photos of the American and British soldiers abusing Iraqis, they've got mud on their faces also.

Abuse has been a part of war forever, and I'd bet there are soldiers from other countries doing the same things. Whether these photos are real or staged they ultimately provided the same results.

So here's the message we're supposed to be getting. Can't trust the governments because see what happens when even America and Great Britain get too much power? Can't trust the church, they will take all your money and abuse your children - bunch of perverts. Don't build a big economic center because the towers of Babel always get destroyed. So all you sheople out there who can't fix your own problems and have realized that human beings can be the worst of animals, better look for something bigger to control the whole world.

I suppose our saviour will be presented to us shortly.

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New Iraq abuse photos published

Jackie Dent and agencies
Thursday May 6, 2004

The Washington Post today published a new batch of photos showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners by the American military, just hours after George Bush appeared on Arab television apologising for previous abuses.

The photos, from the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, show naked Iraqi men in a range of humiliating poses, including a naked detainee attached to a leash by a prison guard and a group of naked men lying handcuffed to each other with soldiers standing around them.

Another image features a man handcuffed to a bed with a pair of women's underpants over his head.

The Washington Post says the images were taken by soldiers from the 372nd Military Police Company and were seized by investigators probing conditions at the US military prison.

The pictures obtained by the Post are part of a collection of around 1,000 digital photographs which also feature a soldier standing over a corpse and giving the "thumbs up" sign, soldiers simulating sexually explicit acts and images of a cat's severed head.

Now, we wonder, would this corpse have been in on the act too? What about the Cat's head? A prop?

The images of abuse are similar to those broadcast by an American network last week. Those images led Mr Bush to appear on Arab television yesterday to express his outrage over the abuse of prisoners. He did not, however, formally apologise.

"This is a serious matter," Mr Bush told satellite network al-Arabiya. "I think people in the Middle East who want to dislike America will use this as an excuse to remind people about their dislike."

Well thank you George! What would we do without you to explain the finer details of international politics to us. So, let's see if we understand; there are people, in the "Middle East" - it's a big place don't ya know, with lots of people who "dislike" things - who happen to have decided that they "want to dislike America". As to why they "want to dislike America" we are not told, but then again, you know those "Middle Easterners", they are always "wanting to dislike" something, if it's not Saddam, then it's some other tyrant just trying to help them, they are such a whimsical bunch those "Middle Easterners". So anyway, they "want to dislike America", and according to the Commander in Chief, they will use any old excuse or irrational argument to show their dislike. It may even be the case that they will stage their own torture or the torture of their "Middle Eastern countrymen" just to give themselves some reason to indulge in their desire to dislike America. We mean, it's just not fair!

Meanwhile, the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld is expected to appear before the Senate armed services committee in Washington tomorrow, amid speculation he could lose his job over the handling of the torture scandal. Mr Rumsfeld faces allegations that the Pentagon failed to respond to repeated pressure to improve conditions at the US-run detention centres and release prisoners who had not been charged

The International Red Cross said today it had repeatedly asked US authorities to improve conditions at the Baghdad jail. "We were aware of what was going on, and, based on our findings, we have repeatedly requested the US authorities to take corrective action," said Nada Doumani, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, speaking from Amman, Jordan.

The ICRC has been visiting camps and detention centres in Iraq since the outbreak of the war and has made numerous recommendations to coalition authorities, but has so far refused to make them public.

Dern it! It looks like those Red Cross workers were in on the whole "staging" thing too! Why else would they have kept the information about the alleged torture to themselves and not contacted some members of the press? That proves it, the whole thing is a fake! Ain't it?

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U.S. Troops Mistreat Elder Iraqi woman

By SUE LEEMAN, Associated Press Writer
Wed May 5, 2004

U.S. soldiers who detained an elderly Iraqi woman last year placed a harness on her, made her crawl on all fours and rode her like a donkey, Prime Minister Tony Blair 's personal human rights envoy to Iraq said Wednesday.

The envoy, legislator Ann Clwyd, said she had investigated the claims of the woman in her 70s and believed they were true.

During five visits to Iraq in the last 18 months, Clwyd said, she stopped at British and U.S. jails, including Abu Ghraib, and questioned everyone she could about the woman's claims. But she did not say whether the people questioned included U.S. forces or commanders.

Asked for details, Clwyd said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press that she "didn't want to harp on the case because as far as I'm concerned it's been resolved."

Clwyd, 67, is a veteran politician of the governing Labour Party and a strong Blair supporter who regularly visits Iraq and reports back on issues such as human rights, the delivery of food and medical supplies to Iraqis, and Iraq's Kurdish minority. Her job as Blair's human rights envoy is unpaid and advisory.

Clwyd said the Iraqi woman was arrested in Iraq in July and accused of having links to a former member of Saddam Hussein's regime — a charge she denied.

The abuse occurred last year in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison and at another coalition detention center, Clwyd said.

"She was held for about six weeks without charge," the envoy told Wednesday's Evening Standard newspaper. "During that time she was insulted and told she was a donkey. A harness was put on her, and an American rode on her back."

Clwyd said the woman has recovered physically but remains traumatized.

"I am satisfied the case has now been resolved satisfactorily," the envoy told British Broadcasting Corp. radio Wednesday. "She got a visit last week from the authorities, and she is about to have her papers and jewelry returned to her."

Clwyd said she had been told about the case because the woman has relatives in Britain.

Clwyd, who said the woman did not want to be named, did not identify the American military unit involved.

Blair's office said Wednesday the envoy had not delivered her report to the prime minister yet so, therefore, it could not immediately confirm her reported findings.

Oh no, here we go again, US troops paying an old Iraqi woman to "stage" that she is being abused and rode like a donkey. Either that or it must have been just the old woman and some of her grandsons dressed up as US soldiers! Not only that, but Tony Blair 's personal human rights envoy to Iraq is in on the joke too! Wow! This whole Iraq caper is just a barrel of laughs, ain't it? Sadly, Colin Powell does not think so...

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New torture outrage

By James Langton in New York and Hugh Dougherty, Evening Standard
06/05/04

A new photograph will cause fresh revulsion around the world over the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by US troops.

The public relations disaster is so bad that Mr Bush gave two unprecedented interviews to Arabic television channelsto reassure the Middle East that torture was not normal practice. But he blundered badly by failing to apologise, forcing his spokesman to use the word "sorry" repeatedly afterwards.

The crisis deepened as Colin Powell, the secretary of state, compared the pictures to the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in which hundreds of villagers were killed by American troops. It became a key factor in the collapse of public support for the war in south-east Asia. Today in an attempt to regain the political initiative, White House sources revealed that defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld had been summoned to the Oval Office to be carpeted by Mr Bush.

"The president was not satisfied or happy about the way he was informed about the pictures, and he did talk to Mr Rumsfeld about it," said one official. [...]

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In a wonderful turn of events, it seems that Rush Limbaugh and Jonathan Last have finally clarified for all of us the truth of these allegations of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners. It seems that it was all just fun and games - it was "emotional release" for America's beloved soldiers:

Limbaugh on torture of Iraqis: U.S. guards were "having a good time," "blow[ing] some steam off"

Wednesday May 5, 2004 at 3:05 PM EST

Hours before President George W. Bush announced plans to address the Arab world to condemn the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison, Rush Limbaugh justified the U.S. guards' mistreatment of the Iraqis, stating that they were just "having a good time," and that their actions served as an "emotional release."

As reported by Wonkette.com, Limbaugh's comments can be found on his website. From the May 4 Rush Limbaugh Show, titled "It's Not About Us; This Is War!":

CALLER: It was like a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men --

LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?

The day before, on his May 3 show, Limbaugh observed that the American troops who mistreated Iraqi prisoners of war were "babes" and that the pictures of the alleged abuse were no worse than "anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage."

LIMBAUGH: And these American prisoners of war -- have you people noticed who the torturers are? Women! The babes! The babes are meting out the torture.

You know, if you look at -- if you, really, if you look at these pictures, I mean, I don't know if it's just me, but it looks just like anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage. Maybe I'm -- yeah. And get an NEA grant for something like this. I mean, this is something that you can see on stage at Lincoln Center from an NEA grant, maybe on Sex in the City -- the movie. I mean, I don't -- it's just me.

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No Rush, it isn't just you:

On CNBC: Iraqi prison abuses likened to fraternities ... again

Wednesday May 5, 2004 at 9:05 PM EST

On May 4, the same day that Rush Limbaugh described U.S. military personnel abusing Iraqi prisoners as "having a good time" and "blow[ing] some steam off," Weekly Standard online editor Jonathan V. Last said on CNBC's Dennis Miller that he believed worse things happen in fraternity houses:

"I hope these guys are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law ... but at the same time, let's not get too crazy and call them Nazi-like. ... Worse happens in frat houses across America ... bad pictures with some guys playing naked Twister. It's bad, but we don't want to get too crazy."

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A college prank... Fraternity hazing... Emotional release... Isn't it enough that the Iraqis are bombed into submission, their children and wives and mothers disemboweled or torn to pieces? Shattered bodies and minds litter the country. Then the prisoners are abused and tortured in ways that would be physically painful and emotionally and psychologically damaging for pretty much anyone.

It seems there are multiple forms of "emotional release". The US sniper who reveled in the suffering of his victims may have been experiencing a certain emotional release. The pilots of the AC-130 gunships that ripped apart Iraqis with explosive rounds may have been engaging in emotional release. The question is: What emotion is being released, and how? Americans believe that it is illegal to murder or torture someone for any reason. Apparently, most Americans also feel that this rule doesn't apply to soldiers representing their country in some overseas invasion.

And what exactly does Limbaugh intend when remarking on the fact that the "babes" are meting out the torture? Is he proud? Does he believe that it means it was all just fun and games because an American woman would never be mean or cruel? There are of course numerous other twisted possibilities - but whatever the case, it is blatantly obvious that the man cares nothing for any Iraqi. Iraqis are viewed as the barbarians, and America is the great civilizing force that will bring peace and order to all the world. Never mind that Iraq was quite a modern country from a technological standpoint. Never mind that most Iraqis seemed fairly happy with their religion and culture, even if they didn't much care for their leader.

No, America will tell the world how to live, and those that don't like it will be forced to like it. Americans seem to be so "sure" that their way of life is the "correct" way that they will support or directly participate in the slaughter, rape, torture, and utter humiliation of anyone or anything that stands in their way. If ever there was a prime example of the concept of cognitive dissonance, it is America and its inhabitants who support their glorious empire.

It is also most interesting that Jonathan Last raises the issue of American soldiers acting like Nazis, since the American people seem to be acting like many in Nazi Germany who denied the horrors of the holocaust until after WWII had ended. What if those countries that the US accuses of human rights violations responded with, "We're not Nazi-like. It's bad, but we don't want to get too crazy..."??

The powers that be must nurture the denial of the masses at all costs. "Let's not get too crazy"... For those with eyes to See, it is clear that that boat has already sailed.

Rumsfeld pressed over jail abuse

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is facing mounting pressure, as a new set of photographs showing Iraqi prisoner abuse is published.

President George W Bush is reportedly annoyed with the way Mr Rumsfeld handled the crisis over the photos.

The newly-published photographs include one of a naked prisoner being led on a leash by a woman soldier.

BBC Washington correspondent Justin Webb says it is possible that Mr Rumsfeld could be forced to resign.

[...] Our correspondent says that White House aides have let it be known that Mr Rumsfeld, one of the chief architects of US policy in Iraq, received a dressing-down from President Bush over his handling of the abuse scandal.

The president is said to have been particularly annoyed that no-one told him there were photos of US soldiers posing with hooded or naked Iraqi prisoners until the images aired on national television.

[...] Publicly, Mr Bush has defended Mr Rumsfeld.

"I've got some confidence in the secretary of defence, and I've got confidence in the commanders on the ground in Iraq," the president said during an interview with the US-sponsored al-Hurra network.

Comment: What a joke. Bush is "annoyed with the way Mr Rumsfeld handled the crisis." Bush may well believe that he is in Iraq to bring liberty, stupid as he is. All they have to do is download another programme into the man, and he'll be saying whatever his handlers want him to. Now the problem is crisis control. Rummy blew it. Those pictures should never have gotten out. Gee, who is working to bring down Bush? Or are they working to turn the whole Middle East into the biggest battlefield the world has ever seen?

The article also states that the Red Cross had been working to pressure the US to improve conditions at the prisons, but they never spoke out publically. They sound like the "good guys" described in the experiments above.

And before you get all excited thinking Rummy might be on the way out, read this:

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Bush backs Rumsfeld, but aides say he's unhappy over handling of prisoner abuse

12:10 PM EDT May 06
SONYA ROSS

[...] At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan said that Bush "absolutely" wanted Rumsfeld to stay on the job and declined to characterize Bush's comments to Rumsfeld on Wednesday - although another Bush aide said the president had given Rumsfeld a "mild rebuke."

"The president met with Secretary Rumsfeld yesterday and they had a good discussion. I will leave it at that," said McClellan. "The president very much appreciates the job Secretary Rumsfeld is doing and the president has great confidence in his leadership."

White House aides, however, said Bush made it clear to Rumsfeld that he was displeased over not learning about the pictures of U.S. soldiers posing with hooded or naked Iraqi prisoners until the images aired on national television.

Comment: So Bushes displeasure was not moral, he was upset because nobody told him about the photos until after they had been aired. Apparently he thinks he is in charge.

What a joke!

A Russian site is reporting that Rumsfeld may be on the way out as the scapegoat for the problems of the Bush Administration. Everything could be blamed on him, and Bush could emerge looking clean. And the US public is probably stupid enough to buy it....

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The 'good guys' who can do no wrong

Robert Fisk
02 May 2004

Why are we surprised at their racism, their brutality, their sheer callousness towards Arabs? Those American soldiers in Saddam's old prison at Abu Ghraib, those young British squaddies in Basra came -- as soldiers often come -- from towns and cities where race hatred has a home: Tennessee and Lancashire.

How many of "our" lads are ex--jailbirds themselves? How many support the British National Party? Muslims, Arabs, "cloth heads", "rag heads", "terrorists", "evil". You can see how the semantics break down.

Add to that the poisonous, racial dribble of a hundred Hollywood movies that depict Arabs as dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy and violent people -- and soldiers are addicted to movies -- and it's not difficult to see how some British scumbag will urinate into the face of a hooded man, how some American sadist will stand a hooded Iraqi on a box with wires tied to his hands.

The sexual sadism -- the bobby--sox girl soldier who points at a man's genitals, the mock orgy in Abu Ghraib prison, the British rifle in the prisoner's mouth -- might be a crazed attempt to balance all those lies about the Arab world, about the desert warrior's potency, the harem, polygamy.

Even today, we still show the revolting Ashanti on our television stations, a feature film about the kidnapping of the wife of an English doctor by Arab slave--traders, which depicts Arabs as almost exclusively child--molesters, rapists, murderers, liars and thieves. It stars -- heaven spare us -- Michael Caine, Omar Sharif and Peter Ustinov and was made partly in Israel.

Indeed, we now depict Arabs in our films as the Nazis once depicted Jews. But Arabs are fair game. Potential terrorists to a man -- and a woman -- they must be softened up, "prepared", humiliated, beaten, tortured. The Israelis use torture in the Russian Compound in Jerusalem. Now we torture in Saddam's old jail outside Baghdad and -- for this is where British soldiers beat a young Iraqi to death last summer -- in the former office of Saddam's most murderous chemical warfare fascist, the awful "Chemical" Ali.

And the officers? Didn't the British lieutenants and captains and majors in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment know that their lads were kicking to death a young Iraqi hotel worker last summer?

That man's fate -- and the documentary evidence proving that he was murdered -- was first revealed by The Independent on Sunday in January. Didn't the CIA boys at Abu Ghraib know that Ivan "Chip" Frederick and Lynddie England, two of the American soldiers in the photographs published last week, were obscenely humiliating their prisoners?

Of course they did. The last time I saw Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade in Iraq, she told me she had visited Camp X--Ray in Guantanamo and found nothing wrong with it. I should have guessed then that something had gone terribly wrong in Iraq. [...]

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Pictures of wounded men being shot censored by TV

Robert Fisk – The Independent May 6, 2004

The pictures are appalling, the words devastating. As a wounded Iraqi crawls from beneath a burning truck, an American helicopter pilot tells his commander that one of three men has survived his night air attack. "Someone wounded,'' the pilot cries. Then he received the reply: "Hit him, hit the truck and him.'' As the helicopter's gun camera captures the scene on video, the pilot fires a 30mm gun at the wounded man, vaporising him in a second.

British and most European television stations censored the tape off the air last night on the grounds that the pictures were too terrible to show. But deliberately shooting a wounded man is a war crime under the Geneva Convention and this extraordinary film of US air crews in action over Iraq is likely to create yet another international outcry.

American and British personnel have been trying for weeks to persuade Western television stations to show video of the attack. Despite the efforts of reporters in Baghdad and New York, most television controllers preferred to hide the evidence from viewers. Only Canal Plus in France, ABC television in the United States and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have so far had the courage to show the shocking footage. UK military personnel in the Gulf region have confirmed that the tape is genuine.

The camera, mounted beside the 30mm cannon of a US Apache helicopter on patrol over central Iraq on 1 December, first picks up movement on a country road, apparently several hundred metres from an American military checkpoint. A lorry and a smaller vehicle, probably a pick-up, come into view and a man – apparently unaware of the hovering helicopter – is seen moving to a field on the left of the screen. He is carrying what seems to be a tube with a covering; it may be a rocket-propelled grenade. One of the two helicopter pilots is heard to say: “Big truck over here. He’s having a little powwow”. The driver of the pick-up looks around, reaches into the vehicle, takes out the tube shaped object and runs from the road into the field. He drops the object and returns to the truck. The pilot then radios: “I got a guy running, throwing a weapon.” Another pilot, or a ground controller, instructs him: “Engage – smoke him”.

At this point, a tractor arrives close to where the man from the lorry dropped the object in the field. One of the Iraqis approaches the tractor driver. The Apache pilot opens fire with his 30mm cannon, killing first the Iraqi in the field and then the tractor driver. The camera registers the bullets hitting the first man. All that is left is a smudge on the ground.

The pilot then turns his attention to the large truck, opens fire and waits to see if he has hit the last of the three men. The third man is seen crawling, obviously badly wounded, from his cover beneath the blazing truck. The pilot reports: “Wait. Someone wounded by the truck”. An officer replies: “Hit him. Hit the truck and him”.

The video shows that the incident took four minutes, during which the two helicopter pilots – whose names are listed as Nager and Alioto – expended 300 high-velocity cannon rounds at their targets. The tape shows that the first 15 rounds missed the men. One of the pilots says: “F***, switching to range auto.” The tape then documents the firing of four bursts of 20 rounds each at the three men.

The pictures, apparently taken through thermal-imaging cameras, leave no doubt that the pilot knew his third victim was wounded and crawling along the ground – and that whoever gave him the order to hit him also knew this.

Coming only days after the appalling photographs of Iraqis being tortured and humiliated by US troops at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, the new pictures can only further inflame Arab opinion throughout the Middle East. It is common Israeli practice to kill wounded enemies from the air; a devastating helicopter assault by Israel on a Hizbollah training camp in Lebanon 10 years ago was accompanied by a series of attacks in which pilots sought out wounded guerrillas as they hid behind rocks in the Bekaa Valley and then fired at them.

The film, while it shows men acting in a suspicious manner, does not prove they were handling weapons. The occupation authorities in Baghdad chose to keep the incident secret when it occurred in December. Watching the video images, it is easy to understand why.

Comment: Video of the heroic actions of brave US troops can be found here entitled ""War Video You Won't See On Cnn

Paying the price long after the war is over

by Leon Fisher
Unknown News
May 5, 2004

Long after Bush, Cheney, Powell, and the rest his neocon war criminal crowd are gone, America will be paying the price.

The years of violence and war perpetrated against weak nations already crippled by internal strife and economic sanctions will haunt this nation for a hundred years. The deaths of tens of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi civilians by bombing, and bullets, and by poisoning their water, soil and air with depleted uranium munitions, will continue to sicken and kill the inhabitants of these ancient lands for many years to come.

The survivors and their descendants will hate America for this.

And those citizens of America who, through fear or ignorance, supported the war criminal Bush, will eventually see their own sons and daughters and grandchildren drafted and sacrificed in some distant war, while their jobs are sent out of the country by the millions.

And the soldiers of America, the everyday men and women in uniform, ordered to commit these atrocities in the name of freedom and liberty, also become accessories to the crime. But many of those who survive, long after the war and occupation has ended, will begin to realize how they were doublecrossed by the Pentagon and Commander-in-Chief, when they begin to fall ill and die from the depleted uranium fired from their own weapons. Like the victims of Agent Orange before them, their children will suffer from birth defects.

Innocent victims born long after the end of hostilities will suffer the consequences of the mass deceit of an entire nation by men whose only concern was that of profit and power.

And the everyday working people of America, whose taxes finance this carnage, have also been made accessories to the crime. Those who meekly hand over their money without so much as one word of protest share the shame and responsibility, as do those whose votes give encouragement and legitimacy to the illegitimate farce these corrupt politicians refer to as the 'War on Terror.'

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Guardsman Probed for Iraq Naked Soldier Photos

By Adam Tanner
Wed May 5, 7:07 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The head of a U.S. military police unit at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison is under investigation following charges he secretly photographed naked female American soldiers, officials said on Wednesday.

Capt. Leo Merck, 32, a member of the California National Guard who commanded the 124-strong 870th Military Police Company, is under U.S. Army investigation and has been relieved of duty, they said.

"He was their commander and he led them into Iraq. While he was there this alleged incident happened," California National Guard spokesman Andrew Hughan said.

Merck, a veteran of the first Gulf War who worked as a financial analyst before going to Iraq, is suspected of photographing the soldiers as they showered. The Guard said complaints were made against Merck in November. His unit arrived in Iraq in May a year ago. [...]

Merck, who is married and resides in Fremont, California, a suburb of San Francisco, is at an undisclosed location under U.S. Army control. "The U.S. Army justice system is working its wheels," Hughan said. [...]

Merck worked as a senior financial analyst at San Jose, California-based KLA-Tencor Corp, a firm specializing in equipment that finds defects in computer chips. He had an MBA degree from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. [...]

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Iraqi inmate: 'Treated like dogs'

One of the Iraqi men who says he was photographed in degrading poses by American prison guards in Abu Ghraib jail is unemployed father-of-five Haydar Sabbar Abed. He told his story to the BBC Arabic Service.

I had hired a taxi and we were stopped at the main gate of Taji Camp in Baghdad which is under the control of the American troops.

They demanded to see my papers, but I didn't have any, so I was arrested and taken to the army headquarters in Fifth District and then to the detention camp at the airport.

I was told they would ask me a few questions and then I'd be released after a couple of days, but nothing happened for three days.

Then, at four in the morning on the third day they called out my number, 13077, and I was taken to Boqa camp in Basra where I thought I'd be tried in an Iraqi court.

But what have I done? I'm not a criminal. I've got five kids and my family didn't even know where I was.

Punished for beating

Then I was taken to Camp One in Abu Ghraib.

They tortured me after I had a fight with an Iraqi working in the camp who was having a relationship with a female soldier.

Haydar says he was forced to masturbate with other prisoners (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)
He was giving us a hard time and we had to beat him up.

So they started torturing us. They cut our clothes off with blades. We were stripped naked, even our underwear was cut off.

Then they ordered us to do things in front of a female soldier.

They told us to masturbate towards this female soldier. But we didn't agree to do it, so they beat us.

How could you do something like that in such circumstances. I was frightened, my whole body was shaking.

Then they put a bag on my head, and I pretended, I made movements like I was masturbating.

Broken jaw

They made us act like dogs, putting leashes around our necks and making us bark. They'd whistle and we'd have to bark like dogs.

They made us stand up and then climb on top of each other, one after the other.

They said they were going to kill us, but in the end they took the bags off our heads and I was surprised to see my friends around me.

They had beat me so hard that they broke my jawbone. Even now I can't eat properly

Later a team of American intelligence officers came to see us.

They asked us what had happened and I told them exactly what I've just told you.

I was taken to court, but on 15 April I was released.

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From a Reader:

Following on from the British torture pictures story, and the idea of who gains from all this, I decided to do a little research myself.

It is well known in the UK that the Mirror newspaper used to be a supporter of the Labour party. That is until Rupert Murdoch came along and swung his support of his Sun newspaper from the Conservative party, to Blairs' "New Labour", and that is why New Labour won the general election in 1997.

It should also be noted that Tony Blair has just changed his mind about having a European referendum, this was just weeks after Rupert Murdoch threatened to pull his support of the Sun newspaper, from new labour, and to swing back to the conservatives. My fear is that this torture situation maybe more about an American/UK media clampdown, and also a Murdoch takeover.

Below are a few clues as to who might benefit from all this.

CBS News shows torture pictures first

As Bush spoke, worldwide press attention was focusing on evidence that U.S. guards had tortured and sexually abused Iraqi prisoners held at the Abu Ghraib prison, the same prison that Saddam Hussein's henchmen used. U.S. guards photographed repulsive scenes of naked Iraqis forced into sexual acts and humiliating postures while a U.S. servicewoman gleefully gestured at their genitalia, according to pictures first shown on CBS News’s “60 Minutes II.”

CBS News, WCBS-TV And The New York Times To Sponsor Democratic Presidential Contender Debate

Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Sen. John Edwards, Sen. John Kerry, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Rev. Al Sharpton Will Participate

Feb 23, 2004

NEW YORK (CBS) A live debate among the four Democratic presidential contenders sponsored by CBS News; WCBS-TV, the CBS Owned station in New York; and The New York Times will take place on Sunday, Feb. 29, from 11:00 AM-12:00 Noon, ET, it was announced today by the three news organizations.

All four contenders – North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and the Rev. Al Sharpton – have agreed to participate.

The debate will be moderated by CBS News anchor Dan Rather, and the questioners will be CBS 2 political reporters Andrew Kirtzman and Marcia Kramer and two reporters from The New York Times to be named shortly. The event will take place at the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City.
CBS is owned by Viacom

Ownership of our favorite television channels

According to the Federal Communications Commission, as of September 2000, there were a total of 1,663 television licenses (and 12,717 radio licenses). The major networks all have their own television station groups which own TV stations in major markets. For instance, A.B.C. owns 10 TV stations covering 24% of the nation. This is only owned stations and does not include the affiliated A.B.C. television stations. News Corporation, through Fox, operates 35 television stations. Viacom owns 39 TV stations and its CBS television network has over 200 affiliates. General Electric through its National Broadcasting Company (N.B.C.) operates 14 TV stations and the network has more than 220 affiliates.

Murdoch and the Mirror newspaper

In the UK, he describes the current price war with The Mirror, rival to The Sun, as a "pain", but plainly relishes competitive newspapering. When asked about the movie studio he says it is important to provide content for TV as well as "the talent thing", but "newspapers are a lot more fun". The Mirror, he suggests, has gone crazy, taking on The Daily Mail by making itself more serious and The Sun by slashing the price."I do not know what they are doing there. You have a bright editor who needs a newspaper boss," says Mr Murdoch. Piers Morgan, a former News of the World editor, is now editor of The Mirror. Philip Graf is his boss. Would you take Morgan back? "No. He burnt too many bridges."

Mirror Photos Faked?

Perhaps most worrying for the newspaper is the claim that the model of truck, a three-ton Bedford, has not been used in Iraq by the British Army. Then there are questions about the fact that the photographs are high-resolution black-and-white images. There were suggestions last night that they had been taken with equipment issued to the unit's intelligence branch ­ increasing speculation that they had been "stunted up".

Pressure grows on Mirror editor (Piers Morgan)

Owen Gibson, chief reporter
Wednesday May 5, 2004

Pressure was today mounting on Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan as he faced growing calls to resign if the paper's pictures of Iraqis being tortured by British troops prove to be faked.

And he is expected to be called before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the provenance of the photographs, which rival newspapers today claim to be part of an elaborate hoax.

Murdoch Hutton and the BBC

It is indicative that Hutton' s report was leaked to the Sun newspaper, which is published by the billionaire Rupert Murdoch. This meant that the first comment made on Hutton came from the most strident supporter of the war against Iraq and Blair's alliance with Washington, as was clearly the intention.

BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies has resigned, as has BBC Director General Greg Dyke. Rest assured that this won't be enough for some people. As hard as it may be to believe, there are already people calling for the complete dismantling of the British Broadcasting Corporation because Lord Hutton has ruled that one aspect of it was flawed in one instance. (We all await with bated breath the announcement that the team from Blue Peter presented the Iraq conflict with a pronounced anti-war bias by not showing the kiddies how to build their own Mark 77 firebombs with some kerosene, a few pipe cleaners and an empty detergent bottle.)

The man who is sure to lead the angry mob will be the media magnate Rupert Murdoch. He has made no secret of his hatred for the BBC, and his plans for the void its absence, under-funding or effective castration would create should be obvious.

Through his newspaper The Times and 'news' paper The Sun, Murdoch's minions will no doubt reach millions with a barrage of negative messages intended to bring about the under-funding, over-regulation or complete destruction of a the most vital public institution in this country.

The BBC not only serves to inform us, educate us and entertain us; by its very existence it also serves to protect us from a level of commercial saturation that would destroy much of what we currently take for granted. If you've ever watched television anywhere else in the world, you'll know what I'm talking about...

Murdochs links with the neo-conservatives

"It’s a small world," said William Kristol, editor in chief of The Weekly Standard, describing the intertwined world of the neoconservatives. And indeed it is, at least to Mr. Kristol: His father is the legendary New York intellectual Irving Kristol, who is widely considered to be the founder of neoconservatism, and Mr. Kristol now edits the magazine owned by the financial godfather of the movement, American citizen Rupert Murdoch.

Axis Of Murdoch Decides Who To Occupy Next

June 2, 2003 - London - Seeking to further expand his territorial grab, General Commander of the Axis of Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch, met with the leaders of the countries he now owns and operates. "Did anyone ever wonder why Australia went to war in Iraq with us?" asked Operation Iraq for Murdoch leader General Tommy Franks. "I mean, of all the countries in the world, why did Australia join Britain and the U.S. in rushing, against world opinion, to fight the war in Iraq there? It was because of one simple thing: Murdoch, who owns almost all of the American media, which talked us into rushing to war, also owns most of the media in his home country of Australia. Wherever his propaganda machine exists, people were moved to rush to war."

Blair, and why he called a referendum on the euro

If Tony Blair's government calls a referendum to seek UK approval of euro entry, Mr Murdoch will have a message: "Vote no...Europe is made up of so many diverse cultures and histories that to slam it altogether with a government of French bureaucrats answerable to nobody...The idea of Europe having one foreign policy, tying up its military in one organisation, it seems to me 100 years premature. I cannot see anything but benefit by waiting."

There is something curious about Mr Murdoch's opposition to the euro, a project that is essentially about dissolving boundaries and encouraging integration. For more than any other media magnate, Mr Murdoch has made his life and business an experiment in disregarding national borders and entrenched interests. But the Australian-born, British-educated, naturalised American clearly does not identify with the European project. Instead, when asked what he considers to be his identity, he says: "I am just an Anglo-Saxon."

From the Scotsman

He (Blair) clearly believes that he can overcome the hostility of the British people and the press. Indeed, some at Westminster believe he did a deal with Rupert Murdoch that if he called the referendum after the next general election, The Times, Sunday Times, News of the World and crucially The Sun, would still back him in a spring 2005 general election. That would give him a third Labour term and a place in history whatever happened over the Euro referendum. By and large, even his most dangerous gambles have been a success.

Ayoon wa Azan (Order Number 17)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/05/5

Who has already heard of the Order Number 17, or knows what it talks about?

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) issued Order Number 17, which provided American forces with immunity from the Iraqi judiciary. In fact, this law gives immunity to all Coalition troops; but this does not cancel the fact that the American forces asked for it, the American authority issued it, and the United States refused to join the international war crimes tribunal, in order to protect its soldiers from any non-American legal prosecution.

I remembered Order 17 while I was watching the scandal of the American (and maybe British) forces' torture of Iraqi prisoners, which I thought of as an issue that exceeds the reverberating scandal, as it might remain with us in the future.

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U.S. forces move into Najaf

Last Updated Thu, 06 May 2004 11:57:31

NAJAF, IRAQ - American forces seized control of a government office from a Shia rebel militia in the holy city of Najaf on Thursday.

There were reports of heavy shooting in the city, which has been under control of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia.

U.S. helicopters were seen flying low over the city as tanks and armoured vehicles entered. The American forces took the provincial governor's office without incident, news reports said.

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America And The Iraqi Intifada

Helena Cobban Al-Hayat 2004/05/5

Late March of 2004 will go down in history as the time the Americans made three key mistakes that sparked the Iraqi Intifada. They decided to escalate their challenge to Moqtada Al Sadr. They decided to try to "subdue" the city of Fallujah. And they decided to try to do those two other things at the very same time!

As I write this, it is still not clear what the "final" outcome of this cluster of decisions will be. Will the unity among the Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis that was demonstrated in early and mid-April continue? How will the Kurds react? Might the Americans, fearing disaster for their broader projects in Iraq and the region, resort to another level of punitive escalation? And what other factors might intervene?

But what is clear already is that the Wolfowitz/Bremer plan for a photogenic and easy "transition" on June 30 to their own, handpicked representatives of a totally fictional Iraqi "sovereignty" lies in ruins. The puppet security forces that the Americans (and Jordanians) have been training fell apart. The Governing Council-which was to form the core of the post-June 30 administration-is largely discredited. Washington has been forced to admit that it needs the help of the once-despised United Nations to help it find any political formula at all for the "transition". (And Kofi Annan seems to be saying that this time around, unlike last year, he is not prepared simply to act as Washington's handmaiden.)

[...] Two decisions that Bremer made almost immediately after he took over as administrator from Jay Garner in early May 2003 caused great harm to the Shiite (as well as the Sunni) communities: these were the decisions to disband Saddam's entire army in one fell swoop, and to start aggressively privatizing Iraq's many state-owned businesses. Many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi breadwinners were thrown out of their jobs, and unable to support their families-while highly-paid foreign "consultants" did many of the jobs that Iraqis were quite capable of doing. And with a total insufficiency of security forces on the streets, public spaces continued to be extremely insecure for most Iraqis.

Bremer refused to listen to protests and suggestions that more moderate Shiites (and non-Shiites) leaders made regarding these issues. Then, when his focus turned to devising a mechanism for the political aspects of the transition, he steadfastly refused to respond to the deep concerns articulated on this score by Ayatollah Sistani. Thus, instead of finding the Shiites to be willing partners in the process of transition-as they could have been had he built on the goodwill of earlier months-Bremer found them moving increasingly into opposition… But still, he did not see the storm ahead!

I have asked myself whether Bremer is particularly stupid (as his actions suggest that he is), and also, whether the disastrous series of decisions emanating from his office were actually made by him-or whether all along he was merely implementing decisions made in Washington. I conclude the latter.

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Bush administration needs more war cash

Thursday 06 May 2004, 14:54 Makka Time, 11:54 GMT

US President George W Bush said on Wednesday that he was seeking an extra 25 billion dollars to pay military costs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Horse Sense: Nothing is to be left to chance in Bushway's efforts to outvote the anti-American diehards.

By Chris Floyd

[...] Bushway operatives are now trolling heavily in the "exurbs" -- middle-class and upscale housing developments sprouting all over the countryside, where small farmers have been forced off the land by ruthless, government-greased agribusiness conglomerates and predatory banks. Developers lure stressed-out city-dwellers to these gilded holding pens by constructing a cozy simulacrum of an old-fashioned rural community, complete with fake storefronts -- beguilingly realistic, but only a few feet deep -- and, yes, fake horses, made of metal, gently nosing over white picket fences.

Mehlman's minions believe exurbia offers rich pickings for the Bush cult -- and they're probably right. People who live in fake towns, with fake stores and fake horses, are likely to be happy with a fake president, who uses fake evidence and fake words about "freedom" and "peace" to launch all-too-real wars of conquest while turning the national treasury into a candy store for his cronies.

The exurbanites' virtual reality is a perfect reflection of the dreamworld where half the nation now dwells, snug in the continuing belief that Saddam Hussein actually had weapons of mass destruction, that he was a staunch ally of al-Qaida, and that every lie their cult leader told them before the war was, quite literally, the Gospel truth, as Knight-Ridder reports.

Polls released this month show that a whopping 57 percent of Americans still believe in the Saddam-Osama connection -- a deliberately cultivated delusion that was one of two prime movers of public opinion in favor of Bush's relentless drang nach Osten.

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"The thing with no brain"

Thursday May 06, 2004
John Chuckman YellowTimes.org Columnist (Canada)

I had an unpleasant moment on the day Bush decided to address "the Arab world." He is a man I cannot stand hearing, so when his voice comes on the radio, I always switch it off. Well, this time I was too far away and necessarily heard a couple of sentences, the ones starting with "People in Iraq must understand.And they must understand.."

Must? The dumb arrogance of his words was stunning. On top of his poorly-chosen vocabulary, the man never apologized as I later learned from the Internet. Here was a commander talking about inexcusable brutality against helpless prisoners telling millions of angry people that they must understand. Here was a pathetically-inadequate man so overtaken by events that he felt the need to address "the Arab world," and he was telling them what they must understand.

Of course, his immense, brainless arrogance was transmitted in other ways. He addressed the "Arab world" without using the networks that many listen to. He wanted a safe outlet - safe, that is, for him and his known inability to handle any question more complex than "How's Mom?" He deliberately avoided al Jazeerah, a network that asks tough questions and whose employees his soldiers have deliberately targeted and killed.

I wonder how many new terrorists Bush has created throughout the Middle East? Imagine the rage of young Arab men seeing pictures of other young Arab men with their heads in bags being used like the cast of a vile underground pornographic film? Some of the most terrible scenes undoubtedly have no photographs because the actors were almost certainly murdered. Even the smiling cretins from the bayous and backwoods of America seen in the published pictures know better than to be photographed committing murder.

For the most part, the armed forces of the United States do not hire the kind of clean-cut, Sir-spouting faces invariably used as their public-relations spokesmen. They need people who will be trained to kill and obey orders, and most of the killing is to be done in poor, distant places where the victims' voices are never heard in America.

Military recruiters fill a good part of their quotas from the many dismal backwaters and slums of the Republic. They fill them with the kind of people who otherwise might not be employed at all. They undoubtedly get a disproportionate share of the people who enjoy killing and inflicting pain, the kind of people found in every society on earth.

It doesn't take a great effort of the imagination to anticipate what will happen when you give such people a few weeks training in killing and shining shoes and send them off to a remote land like Iraq, a place whose people they cannot understand, and about whom they know only the uninformed, provoking slogans of their President.

When a contemptible moral weakling like Bush sits comfortably in his leather chair and signs an order to invade a distant land, it is precisely the horrors of Abu Ghraib prison he necessarily releases.

Remember Lieutenant Calley and his boys murdering an entire village in Vietnam? That good old boy never experienced a moment's meaningful justice. There was actually a brisk business for a while in Lieutenant Calley souvenirs, especially in the South.

There were several such massacres discovered in Vietnam, and one cannot doubt others went undiscovered. More disgusting still was the slitting of about twenty-thousand throats, mostly village officials, by the brave men of the Special Forces. But even their Nazi-like slaughter couldn't compare to the work of the men flying jets, men still called war heroes in America, men who systematically bombed and napalmed countless towns, villages, and farms, producing enough victims to bury the city of Washington under a mountain of burnt flesh and gore, almost all of them civilians.

During that war, I once talked to an American veteran of World War II about the horror of what was going on. He told me a story. He was on a train with two other Americans and a German prisoner of war. One of the Americans suddenly put his automatic pistol to the head of the German and blew his brains out. He had no reason and just laughed after doing it.

As I've written before, I can never forget someone I knew in high school telling me about how he and his friends would pile into a car and drive down to the ghetto some nights, trying to "run down niggers" for the hilarious entertainment of seeing them run for their lives. I've always associated that painful memory with the men who later raped and murdered their way across Vietnam.

It is not that Americans are worse than other people, it is that they are the same. Yet they are encouraged constantly to think they are better - more advanced, more educated, more dedicated to democratic and human values. In the President's words, "The America I know cares about every individual." Well, apart from the fact that those descriptions fit at best a minority of Americans, thinking that you are better than less fortunate people is a guaranteed method for producing injustice and horror.

I note that to this day even more hideous pictures of Iraqi children mangled and killed by American bombing are not published by the county's main press. Many Americans are sentimental, and pictures of smashed and mangled children might produce results not desired by those running the country, but the prison pictures can be characterized as an exception, as the fault of a few bad people breaking the rules.

Well, what society doesn't have such rules? There's nothing special about America in officially opposing torture, humiliation, and murder. Even dictatorships publicly set such rules, but what society doesn't violate the rules as soon as it sinks to the putrid business of war?

A French television station has obtained a three-and-a-half minute videotape from an American helicopter taken last December. There is a pilot and a military gunman on board, and their commanding officer talks to them on a radio. The American soldier shoots three unarmed Iraqis, one by one, as the commanding officer barks his directions to him. The third man attempts to hide, and then tries to crawl away, clearly wounded. The officer orders him killed, and he quickly is.

Remember the broadcast conversations of American pilots during the first Gulf conflict as they strafed and bombed miles of Iraqi soldiers caught in a traffic jam while retreating from Kuwait City? We heard the words, clearly spoken with the same sense of amusement I heard as a young man in Chicago, "It's like shootin' fish in a barrel!" broadcast on television without any comment or criticism from broadcasters or politicians.

To this day, there is no examination into the disappearance of about three thousand prisoners in Afghanistan. A European documentary film strongly suggests American complicity in their mass murder out on the dessert by some of the more grotesque warlords with which the U.S. allied itself. The prisoners reportedly were driven, batch after batch, stuffed into vans, through a sun-baked wilderness, suffocating in the heat while American troops idly watched.

Don't forget the words of Donald Rumsfeld concerning prisoners in Afghanistan. He said publicly that all foreign fighters captured should be killed or permanently walled away. Do you think that kind of leadership might influence the attitudes of creeps in the unwatched corridors of military prisons with people at their mercy?

Wars are an utterly filthy business, and, unless you are depraved, you don't start them. Bush is responsible for what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan as surely as German leaders were responsible for the acts of their soldiers during World War II

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Israel accused of illegally funding settlement construction

Last Updated Thu, 06 May 2004 6:08:50

JERUSALEM - Israel's housing ministry has been accused of funneling more than $6 million US into illegal settlement construction in the West Bank. More than half of the money is reported to have gone to unauthorized outposts Israel had pledged to tear down.

The illicit funding has been going on for the past three years, according to a report by the state comptroller's office.

Millions of dollars were spent on roads, pipelines and electrical grids in settlements where new construction was supposed to have stopped in the unauthorized outposts the Israeli government is supposed to be tearing down.

[...] Under the U.S.-backed road map to peace Israel is intended to remove illegal outposts and to suspend construction in established West Bank settlements.

For the Palestinians all Israeli settlements are illegal and their construction on occupied land is a breach of international law.

Comment: We hope that no one is surprised by this finding. It is clear that the Israeli government has used the settlers to expand into more and more territory to change the facts on the ground. The result of this expansion and theft of Palestinian land is to try and legitimise the seizure of as much of the Occupied Territories as possible, making the Israeli presence a fait accompli. And so it was that Bush last month acknowledged that things have changed and that the current situation must be respected. Forget respecting the lives destroyed by the brutal Israeli occupation, no, we must respect the illegal seizure of land by the oppressor.

Notice the last line. The Israeli settlements are illegal according to international law. The journalist, however, reduces the impact of the statement by qualifying it: "For the Palestinians..." This is because Israel strenuously objects and says they are not illegal. But we have seen Israel make up as many lies as George Bush to justify their unique place in the world, their poor, threatened existence as Jews. The fact is that the settlements are illegal. There is no need to qualify it. But to write the truth would not be perceived as giving a "balanced" viewpoint and the Jewish hate groups would start protesting and whining about the holocaust.

Yes, the holocause happened. It was horrible. But anger at Israel is not equivalent to anti-Semitism, as much as the supporters of the Zionist killer machine in Israel might protest otherwise.

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Israel releases top Hamas official, kills another

Last Updated Wed, 05 May 2004 18:59:31

JERUSALEM - Israeli soldiers shot and killed a leader of Hamas Wednesday, shortly after releasing one of the co-founders of the group.

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Bush to tighten squeeze on Cuba

President George W Bush is expected to announce tougher measures against the US' neighbour and long-time foe, Cuba.

The new policy would come days after a panel appointed to find ways to hasten the demise of the Cuban leadership reported its findings to the president.

[...] Circumventing Cuban jamming of US-funded TV and radio broadcasts inside Cuba would be a priority, he said.

The US-based Radio and TV Marti exhort Cubans to rebel against the "repression and human rights abuses" in their country and fight for a US-style democracy. Broadcasts have been jammed by Cuban authorities for the past 14 years.

Comment: The US has been supporting the broadcasting of messages of armed insurrection into Cuba for years. They have been supporting actual attempts at armed insurrection, too. They have tried to assassinate Castro on several occasions. What would they do if another country tried to do this to them?

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Britain's biometric ID cards postponed

By Andy McCue
Special to CNET News.com
May 6, 2004, 6:09 AM PDT


Technical problems have delayed the British government's trials for biometric ID cards by three months.

The failure of fingerprint and iris-recognition equipment caused the delay, Home Secretary David Blunkett told members of Parliament this week.

The trial, involving the registration of 10,000 volunteers to record and test biometric ID data, was originally due to launch in February but did not begin until last week. As a result, the length of the project has been cut from six months to three months. [...]

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Jail for man who left bag in airport

By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor
The Telegraph
06/05/2004

A plumber who left an unattended bag containing a teddy bear, some fruit and clothes in an airport lounge was jailed yesterday for causing a full-scale security alert.

Magistrates sentenced Jose da Silva, 25, to 10 days under public nuisance laws.

Da Silva was waiting for a flight home to Portugal last Sunday when he left the hold-all in a departure lounge while he went for a cigarette at Birmingham nternational airport.

The airport was closed for three hours and 1,000 passengers and staff had to leave as an Army bomb disposal team investigated. Three incoming flights were diverted and 15 planes grounded.

Speaking through an interpreter and in tears, da Silva, who pleaded not guilty to creating a public nuisance, told the court in Solihull that he had no intention of causing such a huge security operation.

But Howard Turner, the chairman of the bench, said while da Silva had not intended to cause the alert the offence was serious enough to warrant a prison sentence.

It is thought to be the first time a jail term has been passed for what was an unwitting, albeit costly, act.

A Birmingham airport spokesman said: "This was an example of the sort of thing that can happen and how it escalates very quickly. [...]

Comment: Although otherwise useless, the airport spokesman's statement is certainly one example of how to completely ignore reality. Da Silva is now a criminal for simply forgetting his bag in an airport terminal. In the past, airports simply removed the luggage, perhaps with the help of a bomb-sniffing dog - just in case. Now, thanks to the manufactured War on Terror, everyone goes bonkers and the airport is shut down for three hours while the army marches in to safely dispose of the dangerous....teddy bear? Yes indeedy, this is just the sort of thing that can happen - especially when the vast majority of the population are blissfully unaware of basically everything.

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Bush, Wife to Skip Daughters' Graduations

AP
May 6, 2004


NEW HAVEN, Conn. - President Bush and first lady Laura Bush will skip their twin daughters' college graduations later this month to avoid creating a distraction at the respective schools, the White House said Thursday.

"There are no plans at this time to attend these ceremonies," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for Laura Bush. "The Bushes felt the focus should be on the students, and not how long the lines are to go through the metal detectors." [...]

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Oil Nears $40 on Gasoline, Security Fears

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Greenspan Warns on Trade, Budget Gap

By Victoria Thieberger
May 6, 2004

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Trade protectionism and a rising U.S. budget deficit both pose risks to the economic recovery, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Thursday.

"Protectionism, some signs of which have recently emerged, could significantly erode global flexibility and, hence, undermine the global adjustment process," Greenspan said in a speech delivered by satellite to a Chicago Federal Reserve banking conference.

"We may not be able to usefully determine at what point foreign accumulation of net claims on the United States will slow or even reverse, but is evident that the greater the degree of international flexibility, the less the risk of crisis," he said. [...]

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Indian army rushes to rescue 20,000 nomads trapped by summer snowfall

Thu May 6, 9:05 AM ET

JAMMU, India (AFP) - The Indian army launched an operation to rescue 20,000 nomads trapped in the Himalayan reaches of Kashmir after a freak summer snow storm, officials said.

Eleven people, including three children, and 5,000 cattle have been killed in the past week by avalanches, a police spokesman said.

He said so far 10,000 nomadic shepherds, who had been grazing their cattle in areas of the storm, had been rescued and some sent for medical treatment.

Defence ministry officials said Indian troops would rush out 20,000 more nomads trapped in mountain passes of four southern Kashmir districts.

Heavy snow fell over several parts of the insurgency-torn state this summer for the first time in 20 years.

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CIA Overly Optimistic About Russia's Future

By Yulia Latynina

In the next decade, Russia may break up into six to eight different states. That, at least, is the view of CIA analysts to be found in a report available on the intelligence agency's web site. In world history, countries that suffer from systemic internal disorder inevitably become the victims of conquest. And not even nuclear weapons can guarantee the territorial integrity of a country, just as a car alarms don't always protect against theft.

A country without an army is in trouble, and Russia's army showed its true colors in Chechnya: It's adept at plundering but no good at fighting. In this high-tech age, only professional armies can get the job done; mass conscript armies are as obsolete as cavalry armies were in World War II.

However, our generals reject any reform of the army because a professional army would not perform, in their view, its most important function: building generals' dachas. The Kremlin also abandoned reform of the army, though for a different reason: A professional army is a threat to the authorities. All the preconditions for a military dictatorship in Russia are in place, except for the military itself. The authorities would clearly prefer that the army disgrace itself in Chechnya.

[...] So, in a sense the CIA report underestimates the severity of the situation. In terms of governance, the country has already disintegrated into six to eight "enclaves." Of course, President Vladimir Putin can still install whoever he likes on the territory of these enclaves -- but that is not the same as being able to govern them.

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Russia, Its Neighbors and EU Expansion

By Nikolas Gvosdev

The ratification of the treaty creating a Common Economic Space by the parliaments of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan has been greeted with dismay in Western capitals. Unfortunately, the knee-jerk reaction in Washington is that any effort to lower barriers or promote integration between Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union is automatically a bad thing.

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U.Va. scientist puts his spin on Saturn moon: A common cleaner might be dimming the brightness

BY A.J. HOSTETLER
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
May 6, 2004

AUniversity of Virginia astronomer is shedding light on the dark side of one of Saturn's outer moons.

Iapetus, about a third the size of our moon, was discovered in 1671 by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini, who wondered why he could only see the bright, heavily cratered moon on one side of Saturn.

It turns out that one hemisphere of Iapetus (pronounced eye-AP-i-tus) always takes the lead. The moon's rotation and orbit both take 79 days, so it always shows the same face to Saturn. This leading side is as dark as asphalt, reflecting just 5 percent of sunlight.

Remarkably, the starkly divided trailing side is 10 times brighter.

[...] Now, U.Va. astronomer Greg Black and colleagues have shed a little more light on Iapetus' split personality. In a recent article in Science, they suggest that ammonia, a common household cleaning ingredient, is mixed with the water ice and dims its brightness.

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Big discovery redraws map of the Milky Way

PARIS (AFP) May 05, 2004

A 50-year-old map of the Milky Way will have to be redrawn after Australian astronomers made the astonishing discovery that our spiral galaxy has a huge, outflung arm, New Scientist reports in next Saturday's issue.

The vast gassy limb comprises an arc of hydrogen 77,000 light years long and several thousand light years thick, running along the Milky Way's outermost edge and sweeping around the four main arms that swirl out from the galaxy's core.

As it is not in the visible part of the light spectrum, it cannot be seen by telescope.

Astronomers at the Australia National Telescope Facility in Epping, New South Wales, made the discovery in a project to map the distribution of hydrogen gas across the galaxy. [...]

Astronomers are amazed that the feature had been overlooked, New Scientist says.

"I was absolutely flabbergasted, it was quite clearly seen in some of the previous surveys but it was never pointed out or given a name," said Tom Dame at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts.

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Spider-Man snares baseball in his web

ALLAN RYAN
SPORTS REPORTER

Purists are outraged by plans to put ads for the movie Spider-Man 2 atop the bases at major league baseball parks next month.

[...] "I guess it's inevitable, but it's sad," Fay Vincent, a former baseball commissioner and former president of Columbia Pictures, which is releasing Spider-Man 2, told Associated Press.

"I'm old-fashioned. I'm a romanticist. Maybe this is progress, but there's something in me that regrets it very much."

[...] NBC and HBO broadcaster Bob Costas says ads on the bases will not only "take away that whole beautiful vista of a ballpark" but also reflect baseball's schizoid relationship with its past.

"On the one hand, they sell history whenever it suits them. And, on the other hand, they disrespect it," Costas told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published yesterday.

"It isn't a matter of treating the game like it's religion. But I think people have lost the understanding of what the dignity of something is. Not everything is for sale."

MLB president and CEO Bob DuPuy defends the move.

"Any criticism is misplaced," DuPuy said.

Comment: It is curious to find people upset at the purity of baseball while their country is destroying another across the globe, but it is indicative of the American way of life: everything has a price: honour, integrity, the truth. While we go hard on Americans quite often, we know that they are in no way responsible for their state. They are too ignorant. They don't know anything about the way the rest of the world works, other customs, other ways of organising life and society. And they have been brainwashed to believe that anything other than they way they do it in the fifty states is somehow un-American.

An exchange with an American who had visited France is revealing.

In France, outside of the large cities, most shops close down at 7:00 PM. They also close for lunch for two hours. This gives people the time to go home and eat. However, for someone used to the 24 hours a day, 7 days a week shopping that is forced down everyone's throats in the US, France can be a shock. Bemoaning the lack of hours in which to indulge her need to purchase and consume, the American said that France needed more malls and 24-hour stores.

It was pointed out that limiting shopping hours permits people to live normal lives, have time with their families, etc, the response was that it would be a great way to make lots of money.

It was extremely difficult to have this person understand that there were other issues that were more important than making money, such as quality of life.

The brainwashing is so thorough that money becomes the arbiter of all things.

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Unmasking China's Sanxingdui Ruins

www.chinaview.cn 2004-05-07 00:15:40
By Jenny Leal

CHENGDU, May 6 (Xinhuanet) -- In an out-of-the-way area of southwest China not on the beaten path of most foreign tourists visiting the picturesque home of the giant panda, giant Buddha and Tibetan people lies a little-known site that holds its own unique mystique.

Some 100 years ago, Sanxingdui in today's Sichuan Province hadn't seemed to anyone anything more than a typical rural area, and just 20 years ago its significance was not fully known. But when a farmer hollowing out a just-dug ditch in 1929 found some jade he unwittingly opened the door on an unknown culture between 3,000 to 5,000 years old.

[...] The more we learned about the mystery behind what was dug up, the more intriguing and important this site seemed. Many objects at first seem somewhat commonplace for old cultures until you realize that the people making these objects were those living at the beginning of Chinese civilization.

It is believed that Sanxingdui was capital of the ancient "Shu culture" of the Sichuan area, previously believed to be 3,000 years old. A metropolis of its time, covering about three square kilometers, Sanxingdui had highly developed agriculture, including winemaking ability, ceramic technology and sacrificial tools and mining was commonplace.

This discovery enables an overall picture of early society, which had diverse origins in China, and perhaps somewhat a rethink of just how "primitive" a primitive culture was.

[...] It is easy to guess that these items were used as religious objects. How they were used exactly is anyone's guess but a museumguide pointed out that it was common for ancient cultures to use religion as a form of power - to use fear to control the people.The masks may have been made in such a strange form so as to both inspire awe and encourage people to feel protected from evil.

Comment: Well, no matter how hold this city and civilisation might have been, one thing hasn't changed: cultures continue to use religion to control the people.

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Unidentified flying planet?

By Matt Whetstone, Staff Writer

CADILLAC - Donna Billett of Harrietta saw the backyard and field behind her house light up like she had never before - considering it was nearly midnight and it was pitch black outside.

"I was so shocked when I saw it out the bathroom window I just stood there in awe for five minutes," Billett said when the object appeared Sunday.

The moon was not responsible for the unexplained light, even though it shone brightly in the clear sky. Instead, Billett saw another bright object in the northwest sky.

Billett's son Allan McIlvain quickly came out of the house and recorded the object for about 30 minutes before it finally left their sight. He said it moved at a very fast pace.

The object bounced and weaved as McIlvain attempted to film it, zooming in and out. Neither had an explanation at the time.

"I thought it was lightning at first," Billett said. "It was like flipping on a light switch - the whole sky was bright."

McIlvain said he has a different explanation.

"I think it was a spaceship," he said.

Both believed the object to be pulsing, reflecting light toward the ground.

David Batch, professor at the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University, said the object may have been the planet Venus.

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Spooky goings-on at couple's home

May 6, 2004 12:01

Yana and Eric Johnson, of Madden Avenue, have been living with strange spectral entities for several years now and have been visited by a whole range of mediums and paranormal investigators.

Mrs Johnson said: "We've been told so many different things and now we're just confused.

"We don't know exactly what they are. Someone told us they were my husband's ancestors.

"They look like balls of light and some of them have got wings or strands coming off them and they come up from the corner of the living room.

"But they're in every room. They're not aggressive. They just keep moving things and they follow us about and lay on my shoulders.

"They seem like they're playful but they're quite annoying."

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Millionaire pastor found guilty of sex offences

Thu 6 May, 2004 16:24

LONDON (Reuters) - A millionaire church minister has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a member of his congregation.

Pastor Douglas Goodman, who lived a rock-and-roll lifestyle and enjoyed "pop star" status in his church, was convicted of abusing a 24-year-old member of his choir.

He showed no emotion as the jury also convicted him of attempting to indecently assault a 25-year-old professional dancer.

[...] Goodman, leader of the Victory Christian Centre in north London, lived a millionaire lifestyle after achieving "iconic" status among his followers.

He owned a mansion in Northampton, spent 21,000 pounds on a holiday to Hawaii and, after his arrest, bought a Ferrari sports car worth 100,000 pounds.

The money flowed in from television appearances, book sales and videos of his sermons, the court heard.

"Pastor Douglas and his family were icons," church elder Sinmidele Adedeji told the court. "They were like...pop stars."

Goodman turned to God after being convicted of burglaries and actual bodily harm when he was growing up in south London.

Comment: Can you say "psychopath"?

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