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Friday, June 11, 2004

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New Article: Will the REAL "Dr. Grant Gartrel(l)" please stand up? - "Aussie Bloke" exposed

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Picture of the Day

Venus Transit
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Giant blast believed to be meteor

11 June 2004

A meteor entering Earth's atmosphere is the most likely explanation for a huge bang and flash of light that woke people all over Wairoa.

People reported what sounded like an explosion at 3.40am yesterday from Kotemaori, south of Wairoa, to Mahia Peninsula in the north and Lake Waikaremoana inland.

Sergeant Chris Flood said he slept through the bang but many people had been woken by it.

"The reports have come in from places probably 75 kilometres apart.

"It must have been one hell of an explosion."

Those who had been awake said they had seen light filling the sky, much brighter than lightning.

"It lit up everything, they said," Mr Flood said.

There had been no reports of damage.

A meteor seemed the most probable cause.

A Mahia resident said she had been woken by a big thud, followed by two or three smaller ones.

"I thought someone had hit our shed so I went and had a look but there was nothing there," she said.

The senior astronomer at the Carter Observatory in Wellington, Brian Carter, said he had received no reports of a meteor in the region.

June had been predicted to be a quiet month for meteor showers in New Zealand, but it was still possible for a single meteor to come in.

"It must have been something quite impressive," Mr Carter said.

The meteor could have exploded in the atmosphere, in which case none of it – or only very small parts of it – would have hit the ground.

Observatory astronomer Kay Leather said a meteor, which may be no larger than fist size, would cause a loud explosion and a light as bright as daylight.

The duty seismologist at the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Peter McGinty, said the institute had a station at Nuhaka, north of Wairoa, but it had recorded no tremors at that time.

That indicated that the meteor – assuming it was a meteor – must have burnt up in the atmosphere.

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TOP STORY: Meteor 'just a baby'

11.06.2004 - Hawkes Bay Today

The explosion heard over Hawke's Bay early yesterday morning was probably caused by a fist-sized fragment of an asteroid entering the Earth's atmosphere, says Carter Observatory astronomer Richard Hall.

Mr Hall said reports that the light was an orange colour suggested it came from a meteor of metallic material. That meant it was probably a fragment of asteroid that had originated from somewhere between Jupiter and Mars, Mr Hall said.

There were "about a handful" of reports each year of meteors of a similar size. Smaller meteors would cause light, but not the sonic boom, he said.

"Every now and then Earth will plough into the path of material left behind by comets or asteroids. There have been a few reports of similar events in the Northern Hemisphere over the last week or so," Mr Hall said.

There was no telling when an asteroid might hit the Earth. Last year, astronomers in America and Europe observed an asteroid with a 10km diameter that narrowly missed Earth.

"If that had hit it would have had the force of a 100-tonne hydrogen bomb," Mr Hall said.

Michelle Baines and Michael Stonestreet were probably the closest people to the meteor.

Ms Baines, a flight nurse, and Mr Stonestreet, a pilot, were flying to Wairoa to pick up a patient at about 3.40 am yesterday when the sky lit up.

They were above the ocean about 15km south east of Wairoa when it occurred.

"I thought there must have been a helicopter above us with its light on. We looked up and there were two or three orange things moving through the sky. It lasted just a couple of seconds," Ms Baines said.

The object was "high above us, and between us and the coast" and was travelling in a northerly direction, Ms Baines said.

Ms Baines and Mr Stonestreet were wearing headsets and did not hear anything over the Piper Seneca's two engines.

"When we landed, the ambulance officer told us there was a huge noise. At the hospital they thought something must have hit the top of the building," Ms Baines said.

Jason Vercoe was driving from Taupo to Hastings and was about 4km north of the Mohaka river when the sky lit up.

"The whole place lit up. It was kind of like the light a city makes behind a ridge. It was incredible, really hard to describe. It almost made my highbeams useless at 3.30am in the morning. That's how bright it was."

Mr Vercoe, 30, said he leaned over his steering wheel and looked skyward, where he saw a "bright shooting star". His car clock said it was 3.39am.

There were no other vehicles near him when he saw the light, although he had seen several trucks on the road earlier.

"I half thought to stop and pull over to see if they saw it too," Mr Vercoe said.

He found out about the story of the meteor in yesterday's Hawke's Bay Today, after telling his girlfriend of his experience.

"If I hadn't leaned over my steering wheel and seen the star I would have thought there was something wrong with my eyes," Mr Vercoe said.

Poraiti man Robin McKee was having a "fitful night's sleep looking after a child who was sick" when he saw the light.

"It was like a lightbulb had popped in front of my eyes," Mr McKee said.

Trevor Cook, from Napier, heard a "boom sound" and felt his house creak.

"Two thoughts went through my mind. It might have been hooligans letting off a homemade bomb, or as the Carter Observatory suggested, a meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere, and creating a sonic boom," Mr Cook said.

Wairoa senior sergeant Chris Flood said there had been few calls about the event, but "no one's come in with a piece of rock yet".

Comment: Ho hum. Just another large explosion combined with a burst of light in the sky. Happens all the time, right? Well, now it is. Spain and India last year. There was the fellow in New Orleans who found one at home. Remember that old tune from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, "Raindrops keeps fallin' on my head..." First a few drops, and then...

For more on meteors and other gifts from the sky, see our meteor supplement.

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Alberta farmer finds Canada's newest meteorite

June 10, 2004

An intriguing rock found south of Fort MacLeod, Alta., has been identified by a University of Calgary researcher as Canada's newest meteorite.

Gerald GoldenbeldMr. Gerald Goldenbeld found the rock in 1992 when he stopped his tractor while baling straw in a field on the west bank of the Belly River opposite the Belly River Buttes. Recently, he sent the heavy, black-and-rust-coloured stone to the U of C, and tests confirmed it is a new discovery and not part of a previously found meteorite. [...]

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Indonesian volcano 'quiet but still danger'

Jun 11 2004

A volcano on a tropical island in north eastern Indonesia was quieter today following its major eruption a day earlier, but authorities told thousands of villagers evacuated from its slopes to stay away because the mountain could still be dangerous.

"It's too early to say that the danger is over," government vulcanologist Syamsul Rizal said from a monitoring station overlooking Mount Awu on Sangihe island.

The mountain erupted yesterday, hurling stones and spewing smoke high into the air. There were no injuries because the 12,000 people living in its vicinity had been evacuated to the nearest town of Tahuna.

Today, the volcano was quiet, with no smoke visible at its crater.

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Earthquake aftershocks reported, but are not unusual

Earthquake aftershocks could be rippling through the area even though they can't be seen, felt or heard.

Two mild aftershocks have been reported. One aftershock may have occurred Wednesday night, a second underground belch may have happened Thursday. But a spokeswoman at the Oklahoma Geological Survey at Norman said late Thursday afternoon she was unable to confirm any aftershocks.

Regardless of confirmation or whether an aftershock is seen, heard or felt, they are apparently not unusual.

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Earthquake hits north Japan 2004-06-11 09:38:49

TOKYO, June 11 (XinhuaNET) -- An earthquake registering an estimated magnitude of 5.4 on the Richter scale jolted southern parts of north Japan's Hokkaido Prefecture early Friday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the 3:12 a.m. (1812 GMT) quake, which measured 3 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7.

The epicenter was about 60 kilometers underground in the southern Tokachi region in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island, the agency said.

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Minimal Damage as Mild Quake Hits Northern Region

M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News

RIYADH, 11June 2004 — A mild earthquake measuring4 . 3on the Richter scale in a desert area in northern Saudi Arabia yesterday caused minimal damage, according to scientists.

Ali Al-Ghamdi of the Dhahran-based King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) said the tremor is a "normal event in the northern region due to its proximity to the Gulf of Aqaba, which stands on a fault."

Al-Ghamdi said the tremors usually cause minor damage such as cracks in old buildings and streets as well as in old oil and water pipelines. It was not immediately known whether any damage has been caused by the Thursday's tremor.

"No major earthquakes are expected in the region," he added.

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Canadian scientists spot signs of new black hole or neutron star

Last Updated Thu, 10 Jun 2004 21:44:45

TORONTO - Canadian researchers believe they've identified a newly formed black hole or neutron star. The discovery seems to confirm the theory that giant stars leave behind new objects after exploding.

Scientists have long suspected that black holes and neutron stars form as stars become supernovas, but this is the first direct observation.

A supernova is a giant star that collapses onto itself when its core runs out of fuel, causing an explosion.

The outer layers are ejected but the core is believed to collapse, resulting in a rapidly rotating, dense neutron star or perhaps a black hole.

In June 2003, researchers at York University in Toronto detected radio waves coming from the centre of Supernova 1986J.

The radio waves and images they took seemed to indicate a new object in the centre of the supernova that wasn't detected in previous studies 20 years ago. Back then, it was 30 million light-years from Earth. (A light-year is the distance that light can travel in one year, or about 9.5 trillion kilometres.)

No black hole has ever been detected in a supernova. The researchers don't yet know if it is a neutron star or a black hole.

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Israel can now spot, destroy roadside bombs from air

Thursday, June 10, 2004

TEL AVIV – Israel's military has succeeded in detecting and neutralizing improvised explosive devices from the air.

Israeli officials said the Israel Defense Forces have combined air and ground forces to detect IEDs during military operations in the Gaza Strip.

They said the military used unmanned air vehicles and helicopters to locate and neutralize bombs during the invasion of the southern Gaza Strip in May.

The method was used during Operation Rainbow, the incursion into Rafah in which the military searched for insurgents and weapons smuggling tunnels.

Palestinian insurgents fought Israeli troops with light arms, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and mines, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Israeli military used a combination of air platforms to locate and destroy the IEDs. Officials said the Searcher unmanned air vehicle detected the bombs placed in alleyways and streets in Rafah. When the IEDs were located, the Israel Air Force summoned an Apache AH-64A attack helicopter to fire a missile to destroy the bombs. [...]

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Why did Canada support a U.S. coup in Haiti?

by Tom Reeves
June 7, 2004

I traveled to Haiti in March to see for myself the results of a U.S.-orchestrated regime change. I had been to Haiti many times since 1977. During the 1990s, I organized delegations to investigate human rights violations by the Haitian military junta that ousted Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991, after his overwhelming victory in the first democratic election in Haitian history. This year, I found a U.S. occupation not unlike that in Iraq, but one of which very few Canadians or Americans are aware.

The U.S. dominated occupation of Haiti after a violent and U.S.-supported rebellion by vicious thugs and right-wing former military is scheduled to give way June 20 (three weeks late) to a United Nations peace-keeping force, headed by Brazil. The Haitian puppet regime of Gerard Latortue has asked the Americans to remain, but the U.S. seems eager to get most of its troops back to Iraq.

[...] "Rebuilding the country," as organized by the U.S., involves similar strategies to the U.S. plan for Iraq — where Canada refused to go along. U.S. marines regularly march into the poor neighbourhoods that remain staunch Aristide strongholds, alongside the reconstituted and militarized Haitian National police, with both the marines and the police firing into houses and groups of people on the street. Bodies appear in the Port au Prince morgues daily from these incursions. Marines also regularly invade private homes, allegedly to search for weapons — which they very rarely find — and they do so with an over-kill that amazes even supporters of the U.S. occupation.

After more than three months in Haiti, some 3,700 troops — the bulk of whom are U.S., but including more than 500 Canadians — have little to show for their intervention. Inflation has spiraled even beyond that for which Aristide was criticized. A New York Times article June 1 reports that a 50-kilogram sack of rice — the most precious commodity in Haiti — sold for $22.50 in January (under Aristide) and has fluctuated between $45 and $37 since then. The Times article, by Tim Wiener, commented: "One lesson of life in Haiti is never say things cannot get worse. They can and they have. People say they have less money, less food and less hope since the February revolt." Although the U.S. Marines spokesperson, Sgt. Dave Lapan, told the Associated Press on May 30 that more than 20,000 weapons remain in the hands of possible combatants, he admitted the marines have seized fewer than 200.

On May 10, U.S. Marines violently attacked the family compound in Port au Prince of a well-known folk singer, Annette Auguste (also known as Sò Anne). One of the best known Haitian musicians, she lived and performed for 20 years in New York City. "It seemed like they were going after Osama bin Laden or something," said her son Reginald Auguste, who lives in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, according to New York Newsday (May 23, 2004). An anti-Aristide commentator asked, "Why did they have to go in with explosives, guns firing? Why did they have to kill her two dogs and shackle even her six-year-old grandson."

On May 18, the Marines went further, accompanying a Haitian National Police SWAT team as they fired indiscriminately at the tens of thousands of Haitians demonstrating on Haiti's Flag Day, demanding the return of their elected president. The Associated Press reported one death from police fire, but Haiti's Radio Solidarité said at least nine deaths were alleged by participants, and Kevin Pina, an American reporter on the scene, verified two deaths including one he saw shot by a SWAT team as Marines nearby taunted demonstrators. He said he was fired at twice by the Haitian police as he tried to film the dying man. Pina said he gave the license plate number of the SWAT vehicle to a Marine officer on the scene. (Flashpoints Radio, KFPA, Berkeley, CA, May 18, 2004 and San Francisco Bay View, May 26, 2004.)

None of this reaches mainstream media in Canada or the U.S.

[...] Anthony Fenton, a free-lance Canadian journalist, summarized the Canadian Connection, in a ZNet article about the emergency House of Commons debate in early March on Canada's Haiti role. Stockwell Day for the Conservatives, "referred to Aristide's removal as 'regime change'...quite matter of factly." Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham rejected this terminology: "...This was not regime change according to the Security Council."

The NDP's Svend Robinson asked about the conference on Haiti last January near Ottawa, with French, Canadian and U.S. diplomats present but none from Haiti. L'Actualite's Michel Vastel reported (March 15, 2003) that the topic discussed was the removal of Aristide and a UN trusteeship afterward. As Fenton says, "....Robinson received no response, though it is said the hum of paper shredders could be heard echoing throughout the House..."

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Reagan honored as "national treasure"

BEIJING, June 11, (Xinhuanet) -- The capital honored Ronald Reagan on Thursday with a procession by tens of thousands past his casket, quiet prelude to a majestic funeral shaped by his own hand. Visitors from the Reagan-era ranks of power and friendship flocked to his widow's side.

[...] Art Kreatschman, 52, of New Windsor, Md., stood in line for three hours before his few seconds in the Rotunda. "I did OK until I got inside and then it was very moving," he said. "I teared up little."

Several thousand people stood in a line that snaked along the western end of Capitol Hill and around the Capitol reflecting pool, many writing in a condolence book. Large fans helped cool those waiting in the steamy heat, and bottled water was available. Inside the cool of the building were long, separate lines for congressional staff.

"He did so many great things for our country and I remember a happy and optimistic time for America," Barbara Coward, 37, of Timonium, Md., scribbled in the book. "He made me proud to be an American."

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Remembering Reagan

By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Ronald Reagan was a paradigm shifter.

He was what Charles Derber in his new book, Regime Change Begins at Home, calls a "regime-changer," moving decisively to end the flagging New Deal era and launching the modern period of corporate rule.

Reagan changed the framework of expectations. He called into question a lot of things that had been taken for granted (such as the obligation of the government of the richest country in history to take care of its poorest people), and made it possible to consider things which had previously seemed unthinkable (for example, cutting the knees out from the powerful U.S. labor movement.)

Reagan was indeed a historic figure, and his death deserves the massive media attention it is receiving. But the odes to his cheerfulness and optimism should be replaced with reflections on how his policies destroyed lives. Pacifica's Amy Goodman has appropriately titled her retrospective coverage of the Reagan era "Remembering the Dead."

The standard commentaries recall Iran-contra as a blotch on the end of Reagan's presidency, but the incident was trivial compared to the long list of administration crimes and misdeeds, among them:

1. Cruelly slashing the social safety net. [...]

2. Taking the world to the brink of nuclear war. [...]

3. A targeted tax cut for the rich. The 1981 tax cut was one of the largest in U.S. history and heavily targeted toward the rich, with major declines in tax rates for upper-income groups. The tax break helped widen income and wealth inequality gaps. As David Stockman admitted, one of its other intended effects was to starve the government of funds, so as to justify cuts in government spending (for the poor -- the cash crunch didn't restrain government spending on corporate welfare).

4. Firing striking air traffic controllers. [...]

5. Deregulating the Savings & Loan industry, paving the way for an industry meltdown and subsequent bailout that cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

6. Perpetrating a bloody war in Central America. [...]

7. Embracing South Africa's apartheid regime (Said Reagan in 1981, "Can we abandon this country [South Africa] that has stood beside us in every war we've ever fought?" He followed up in 1985 with, "They have eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country.") and dictators worldwide, from Argentina to Korea, Chile to the Philippines.

8. Undermining health, safety and environmental regulation.[...]

9. Slashing the Environmental Protection Agency budget in half, and installing Anne Gorsuch Burford to oversee the dismantling of the agency and ensure weak enforcement of environmental rules.

10. Kick-starting the era of structural adjustment. [...]

11. Silence on the AIDS epidemic. [...]

12. Enabling a corporate merger frenzy. [...]

It's important to remember Reagan all right, but let's remember him for what he did, not for his ability to deliver a scripted line. Ronald Wilson Reagan played up and exacerbated economic and racial divisions, and he left the country, and the world, meaner and more dangerous.

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Reagan On $10 Bill?
4:46 pm EDT June 8, 2004

The USA Today reported Tuesday that the push for the Reagan monetary memorial would begin after the former president has been buried in California.

Supporters want Reagan's image to replace that of founding father Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton, a Revolutionary War hero, is perhaps remembered most for a duel against Vice President Aaron Burr in 1805 that left him fatally wounded.

"Hamilton was a nice guy and everything, but he wasn't president," said Grover Norquist, who heads the legacy project. "As a board member of the NRA, I can also tell you he was a bad shot." [...]

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Live Free, or Be Killed

by David Gordon
[Posted June 10, 2004]

In the days following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, many Americans reacted with panic. Were the attacks the beginning of a war that would imperil the lives of millions in our country? It soon transpired that no such outcome was in the offing. The terrorists proved unable to follow up their assault; and despite the best efforts of the Bush administration, panic subsided.

The authors of An End to Evil (David Frum and Richard Perle) were not so fortunate as the American public. September 11 in their case aggravated a pre-existing condition of severe anxiety. Now, if supporters of Thomas Szasz will excuse me, Messrs. Frum and Perle have entered Cloud Cuckoo land. To combat a few terrorists, they maintain, we must wage war on a good part of the world and strike at one of the world's major religions.

Our authors, fairly early in their own book, undermine the principal justification for the war on terror they are at pains to advocate. As they rightly point out,

"Yet the United States may be a tougher target than it looks. . . . The nation entrusts the first responsibility for the safety of each nuclear power plant, each chemical factory, each petroleum refinery, and each natural gas pipeline to those who know that plant, that factory, that refinery, and that pipeline best: its owners and employees. If the terrorists want to try to blow up a nuclear power plant, they must match their wits against people who have devoted their lives to the problem of nuclear safety. Ditto for chemicals, ditto for refineries, ditto for pipelines. In the movies, terrorists are skilled specialists; in real life, most of them are amateurs who do boneheaded things. . . . The terrorists' most important advantage was our complacency, and after 9/11 that advantage was lost for good." (p. 62)

Had our authors contemplated the wisdom of their own paragraph, they would have strangled at birth their monstrous book. Neither the Bush administration nor this pair of bellicose authors has been able to establish the existence of a continuing terrorist danger to the United States. For the reasons just stated, we have an excellent chance to block whatever destruction a few fanatics may have in store for us. Frum and Perle, for all their frenzied efforts, cannot defeat the logic of their own argument to the contrary.

If we do not face a substantial terrorist threat, why engage in a war on terror? Our panicky authors are nothing if not resourceful, and they suggest a three-pronged response to our query. We must, they say, interdict not only terrorism directed against America, but also assaults on other countries, most especially Arab terrorism directed against Israel. Next, we must act decisively against various countries that, to some degree or other, lend aid to terrorist groups. Frum and Perle very helpfully offer a list of regimes that must, if possible, be replaced with "democracies" that will obey without question their American masters. We must, finally, realize that fanatical believers in one of the world's major religions aid and abet the terrorists. The version of Islam that these fanatics profess, promoted by Saudi Arabia's immense wealth, poses a dire threat to the United States. We thus ought to undermine the Saudi government, so long as it refuses to embrace the democratic reforms Frum and Perle have in store for it.

[...] I have left for last a part of the book's argument. Frum and Perle have a response to my main objection to their plans. I have suggested that if the United States were to follow a policy of neutrality and nonintervention, then terrorism would pose no major threat to us. Our authors counter that this view overlooks the menace of militant Islam. They would dismiss as naïve my earlier claim that unless we strike at Islamic interests, militants will not view us as enemies.

Quite the contrary, the Wahhabi Islam sponsored by Saudi Arabia teaches hatred of all who do not embrace that religion. Muslims throughout the world, influenced by this extremist sect, refuse to condemn Osama bin Laden. In the eyes of these fanatic believers, neutrality will not save us; we must convert or face destruction.

Readers will not be surprised by the solution our authors propose. "Warn the Saudis that anything less than their utmost cooperation in the war on terror will have the severest consequences for the Saudi state" (p. 140). It is hardly likely that the Saudis will accede to one of our author's requirements for cooperation, the demand to cease financial aid for Wahhabi missionary activity abroad. The sect, like it or not, gives essential support to the ruling dynasty.

You can guess the rest. If the Saudis decline our terms, then independence for the Eastern Province, where the oil is located, "might be a very good outcome for the United States" (p. 141).

I am no expert in Islamic theology and, in any case, have no wish to defend Wahhabi Islam. But before we take action against the religion of millions of people, ought we not to be cautious? Surely belief in fundamentalist Islam does not always lead to anti-American violence. It has after all not prevented Saudi Arabia from entering into an alliance with us. I suggest that watchful waiting is a wiser course of action than a quixotic attempt to cram neoconservatism down the throats of the world's Muslims.

I close on a positive note. Frum and Perle have identified with great clarity a system of belief that threatens the world. This system requires all governments to conform to the policies of a single power. Those that refuse face violent overthrow. The ensuing military occupation by the dominant power is styled democracy; and, once people grasp its benefits, it is claimed that democracy of this sort will conquer the world. The authors' depiction of this ideology cannot be bettered. It is the ideology they themselves defend.

Comment: Saudi Arabia. This magical realm of desert, oasis, and bedouin is becoming the eye of a hurricane. The trail of the alleged 9/11 hijackers leads to Saudi Arabia. The Bush family had business ties with the bin Ladens. Bush Sr had been head of the CIA. Many of the alleged "hijackers" were trained in a flight school with CIA connections in Florida where Jeb Bush is governor.

Now we have the new film from Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11, making much of the Bush/bin Laden/Saudi/oil connection.

Curiously, there is no mention of Israel in all of this. Yet which country would benefit the most from severing the close ties between the US, their oil companies, and the Saudis? Israel.

It appears to us, therefore, that the entire "Saudi-Bush-bin Laden" spin is more disinformation.

We do not deny that these links are important. That Daddy Bush knows the bin Ladens is an intriguing as the fact that one of his sons was due to eat with the brother of John Hinckley the night Hinckley shot Reagan... while Daddy Bush was Vice President. As intriguing as these facts and links may be, they are not, however, the explanation for the events of 9/11. But what if certain dark forces have incriminating evidence about the Bush family? What if this evidence is being used to blackmail the Bushes?

Of course, given the hyperdimensional character of our reality, and the abilities that the masters of the hen house have to keep us in line, Bush may have been put in business with bin Laden for the very reason of setting him up for this "exposure."

Bush Jr may well have been shown cooked evidence to provoke him into attacking Saddam. The dark forces behind these manipulations would have very thick psychological dossiers analysing each of the main players, their strengths, weaknesses, and the buttons that would need to be pushed to get them to go this way or that. Someone may even be beaming "the voice of God" into the man's cranium.

Although the film The Mothman Prophecies does not do justice to the classic book by John Keel, the film does get across the message that we live in a world governed by beings who enjoy playing with our heads. Keel is one of the few whose research has led him to conclusion similar to ours. This world is someone's else's plaything, and they take great sport out of messing with our minds.

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TIA now verifies flight of Saudis

The government has long denied that two days after the 9/11 attacks, the three were allowed to fly.

By JEAN HELLER, Times Staff Writer
Published June 9, 2004

TAMPA - Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with most of the nation's air traffic still grounded, a small jet landed at Tampa International Airport, picked up three young Saudi men and left.

The men, one of them thought to be a member of the Saudi royal family, were accompanied by a former FBI agent and a former Tampa police officer on the flight to Lexington, Ky.

The Saudis then took another flight out of the country. The two ex-officers returned to TIA a few hours later on the same plane.

For nearly three years, White House, aviation and law enforcement officials have insisted the flight never took place and have denied published reports and widespread Internet speculation about its purpose.

But now, at the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, TIA officials have confirmed that the flight did take place and have supplied details.

The odyssey of the small LearJet 35 is part of a larger controversy over the hasty exodus from the United States in the days immediately after 9/11 of members of the Saudi royal family and relatives of Osama bin Laden.

The terrorism panel, better known as the 9/11 Commission, said in April that it knew of six chartered flights with 142 people aboard, mostly Saudis, that left the United States between Sept. 14 and 24, 2001. But it has said nothing about the Tampa flight.

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Putin Takes Bush's Side Against Democrats on Iraq

Thu Jun 10, 8:41 PM ET

SEA ISLAND, Ga (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped into the U.S. political campaign on Thursday, saying the Democrats had "no moral right" to criticize President Bush over Iraq.

The Kremlin leader, answering a reporter's question in Sea Island, Georgia, suggested that the Democrats were two-faced in criticizing Bush on Iraq since it had been the Clinton administration that authorized the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia by U.S. and NATO forces.

The reporter had asked Putin to respond to U.S. press articles questioning Russia's place at the G8 feast of leading industrial countries.

Putin brushed these off, saying such articles were part of an internal U.S. political debate.

He went on: "I am deeply convinced that President Bush's political adversaries have no moral right to attack him over Iraq because they did exactly the same. [...]

Comment: One might also note that if the Democrats are no different than the Republicans in terms of the war on terror, then nothing will change if Kerry is elected. In other words, one could say that Putin may have unwittingly done Americans a favor by pointing out that they don't really have a choice in the upcoming election.

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Purported "Transfer of Sovereignty" Condemned as Farce, Despite UN Resolution

NEW YORK, NY ­ June 10, 2004 ­ The Bush Administration is committing war crimes and other serious violations of international law in Iraq as a matter of routine policy, according to a report released today by the Center for Economic and Social Rights. The report, Beyond Torture: U.S. Violations of Occupation Law in Iraq, documents ten categories of war crimes and rights violations regularly committed by U.S. forces. The report can be downloaded here. The Executive Summary can be downloaded here.

"Torture is only the tip of the iceberg," said Roger Normand, an international lawyer who directs the Center. "From unlawful killings, mass arrests, and collective punishment to outright theft and pillage, the U.S. is violating almost every law intended to protect civilians living under foreign military occupation."

The report blames the Bush Administration for misusing the war against terrorism to exempt itself from the Geneva Conventions and other legal norms, creating a climate of impunity in which ordinary soldiers feel free to torture and abuse Iraqis. Rather than scapegoat those caught on camera, the report recommends that George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and other responsible U.S. officials be held accountable for war crimes resulting from their policies. [...]

CESR is an international human rights organization that has organized numerous human rights fact -finding missions to Iraq since 1991. CESR is accredited to the United Nations and supported by the Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation.

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Maverick colonel blames US army's 'sycophantic' culture and heavy-handedness for failures in Iraq

By Nathan Hodge
Financial Times; Jun 09, 2004

When Colonel Douglas Macgregor of the US army was preparing to submit his latest manuscript, he struck a deal with his superiors: he could publish his book - a detailed critique of the way the army equips, organises and fights - if he kept his views on the war in Iraq to himself.

"I could talk about the content of the book and anything that happened up to the end of the initial operation to [take] Baghdad, and nothing else," he says. "That was the condition for publication of the book and I agreed to that."

Some in the army leadership might have preferred that his book had never been published. [...]

Though widely considered a maverick, Col Macgregor enjoyed influence beyond his rank. Two of his books - Breaking the Phalanx, published in 1997, and the more recent Transformation Under Fire - were considered must-reads within the army, and some of the changes he advocated have been adopted in some form.

His controversial views caused him to be sidelined to the National Defense University, away from command responsibility. However, Col Macgregor, who saw action during the 1991 Gulf war, kept in touch with his colleagues on duty in Iraq. [...]

The Bush administration is wrestling with how to maintain adequate forces in Iraq. Last week, the army announced a "stop-loss" order to prevent more soldiers from leaving the force after their voluntary service commitment is over.

Col Macgregor says that emphasis on numbers is misplaced. "We have people in special forces that know how to work with local populations," he says. "We could have adopted that particular model, opted for a very light presence, and focused our occupation largely on Baghdad, maintaining some mobile armoured reserves that could rapidly move in and crush any real resistance.

"But to conduct house-to-house searches, to conduct heavy-handed raids, to run checkpoints that were extremely humiliating, to arrest people in front of their families, put bags over their heads, handcuff them and treat them with extreme disregard for human dignity, was a serious mistake - and it was not necessary." [...]

Beyond his criticisms of the military's past decisions in Iraq, Col Macgregor is equally concerned about its plans. He is critical of proposals to add another general to "an already bloated command structure that hasn't been terribly effective".

A better solution, says Col Macgregor, would be to encourage "leaner command structures, and a more thoughtful approach. We ended up incarcerating over 46,000 people, less than 10 per cent of whom deserved to be incarcerated", he says. "We don't know how many thousands have actually been killed, and the real question is, how many did we actually have to shoot?"

Col Macgregor warns that those who advocate serious change in the military are not going to be popular. "It's a very sycophantic culture. The biggest problem we have inside the United States Army today - and in the Department of Defense at the senior level, but also within the officer corps - is that there are no arguments. Arguments are [seen as] a sign of dissent. Dissent equates to disloyalty."

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An American in The Hague?


06/10/04 "New York Times" -- The Bush administration has yet to accept much responsibility for the torture at Abu Ghraib prison. True, the president has apologized for the abuse on Arab television, and several top military officials in Iraq — including the general in charge of the prison and her boss — have been quietly suspended or will soon be transferred. But so far, legal responsibility has fallen exclusively on the seven court-martialed soldiers who were directly involved. Administration officials have argued that they themselves are not liable, since the incidents were the work of a few bad actors.

This may or may not be true. Even if no smoking gun is ever found to directly link American officials to the crimes, however, they could still find themselves in serious jeopardy under international law. Under the doctrine of command responsibility, officials can be held accountable for war crimes committed by their subordinates even if they did not order them — so long as they had control over the perpetrators, had reason to know about the crimes, and did not stop them or punish the criminals.

This doctrine is the product of an American initiative. Devised by Allied judges and prosecutors at the Nuremberg tribunals, it was a means to impute responsibility for wartime atrocities to Nazi leaders, who often communicated indirectly and avoided leaving a paper trail.

More recently, the principle has been fine-tuned by two other American creations: the international tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, which were established in the last decade by the United Nations Security Council at the United States' behest. These tribunals have held that political and military leaders can be found liable for war crimes committed by those under their "effective control" if they do nothing to prevent them.

If this is now the standard in international law — which the United States and the United Nations are applying to rogue leaders like the former Yugoslavian president, Slobodan Milosevic — what does it mean for Washington? The rulings of the Nuremberg and Hague tribunals don't directly bind the United States at home. But given that these institutions were created with the support and approval of the United States, their judgments will be difficult for American officials to disown.

American courts have already accepted the doctrine of command responsibility. In July 2002, for example, a federal court in Miami found two retired Salvadoran generals liable for torture — even though neither man had committed or ordered the crimes in question. The jury held that they were nonetheless guilty, since as El Salvador's minister of defense and head of its national guard at the time of the torture, they knew (or should have known) about it and could have stopped it.

For their part, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials recently told Congress that they didn't know and couldn't have known about a few instances of sexual abuse in Iraq. But this claim is contradicted by the officer formerly in charge of Abu Ghraib, who has said that her superiors were warned about the abuses months before they were exposed. And the Red Cross documented widespread abuses in Iraq last year and raised them with the White House in January.

Moreover, the abuses seem to have been more than isolated actions. Instead, they now appear to be part of an explicit policy of coercive interrogations conducted around the globe and supported by Justice Department and White House lawyers, who argued in 2002 and 2003 that the Geneva Conventions and other domestic and international bans on torture did not apply in these cases. [...]

[I]f American officials are not held legally accountable, the damage abroad could be even more severe. Part of the terrible legacy of Abu Ghraib may be that the United States will find it difficult to prosecute foreign war criminals if it refuses to accept for itself the legal standards it accuses them of breaking.

Jonathan D. Tepperman is senior editor at Foreign Affairs magazine.

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Did a Government Lawyer "Aid and Abet" Possible War Crimes By Writing a Crucial Memo?

The Controversy Surrounding Berkeley Law Professor John Yoo

Tuesday, Jun. 08, 2004

At this year's graduation at the University of California at Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, about one-quarter of graduates wore red armbands. They were protesting Boalt law professor John Yoo's co-authorship of a memorandum written in 2002, when he served in the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

In the memorandum, Yoo expressed the view that neither those whom the government deems to be Al Qaeda members, nor those whom it deems to be Taliban members, are covered by the Geneva Conventions. That strongly implies -- though the memo does not explicitly state -- that detainees in Guantanamo who are suspected of being Al Qaeda or Taliban members are not covered by the Geneva Conventions' protections against abuse or torture.

It's important to stress that under Yoo's approach, the class of those unprotected by the Geneva Conventions includes not only well-known leaders thought to have information about terrorist attacks, but also any person suspected of being an Al Qaeda or Taliban member. Effectively, the logic of Yoo's memo strips all persons deemed to be possible terrorists of Geneva Convention protections[...]

What's important to first note, is that there is no accusation being made that Yoo changed his views in order to give the Bush Administration advice it wanted. To the contrary, Yoo has pointed out that his academic articles have stated the very same views he expressed in the memo.

So it appears that what Yoo wrote was what he has long believed. Indeed, Yoo was likely chosen by the Bush Administration to advise precisely because of the views he held, as laid out in his prior academic articles.

Some may say there is nothing wrong with this: Any Administration is entitled to choose like-minded advisors. But when the advisors are lawyers, the issue becomes more complex. [...]

Of course, legal opinions are used for - indeed, procured for - what amounts to "cover" all the time in private practice. But the government should be held to a higher standard; an Executive official should seek a legal opinion for candor, not cover. And from the government attorney's point of view, the attorney should realize that giving legal advice that one knows will be used in a certain way is a morally freighted act, and that when basic human rights are at stake, the moral import of that advice is even graver.

In sum, the Berkeley students who have protested Yoo's action in writing the memo should not simply be accused of being anti-academic freedom. They are arguing that through the act of giving counsel, Yoo acted immorally, perhaps even illegally.

They object, that is, to what the memo adds to the views Yoo had already expressed in academic articles: A specific blessing from a person acting not as professor, but as attorney. Lawyers' advice matters: It can make people hesitate, or spur them on.

That brings us back to students' specific accusation: That Yoo, in writing his memo, aided and abetted war crimes. [...]

In addition to the Abu Ghraib abuses, there have also been much less publicized reports of possible acts of torture and abuse by U.S. forces in connection with the war on terrorism elsewhere - in Guantanamo, and in Afghanistan's prisons. Yoo's memo may have played a causal role in fostering these possible abuses - not only because of what it said, but because of what it did not say.

Had the memo taken an opposite view, would-be torturers might have thought long and hard before going ahead. Indeed, had the memo even been written more equivocally, and more responsibly - for instance, stressing the immorality of any torture, while expressing the view that it was technically legal - then it might have triggered greater qualms on the part of those who sought to rely on it as permission.

So while students' claim that Yoo "aided and abetted" war crimes may have sounded like overheated rhetoric, from a causal standpoint, at least, it may turn out to be reality. [...]

But Yoo's actions still can be judged morally - and judged harshly. And from a moral point of view, students are right to protest them. They are right to do so if they find Yoo's Geneva Convention views specious. They are right to do so if they simply find torture immoral and wrong. And they are right to do so if they are concerned, as I am, with the especially horrific prospect Yoo's views open up: that entirely innocent persons may be, or have been, subject to torture and abuse.

At the same time that Yoo advised the President that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere, he also advised, in a separate memo, that no U.S. court can review claims by Guantanamo detainees saying that they are innocent of any crime, and are not even members of such groups in the first place.

This advice, too, is morally suspect, and could lead to abuse. With no judicial review, no Geneva Conventions protection, no procedure to prove innocence, and the current, freighted "war on terrorism" atmosphere adding pressures to the mix, surely the possibility that innocent persons will be tortured or abused is a very real one.

For those who open up such possibilities, hiding behind a law degree and an official position does not mitigate the wrongness of what is done.

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Bush the Would-Be Torturer

Marjorie Cohn

06/09/04 It's all falling into place. The Wall Street Journal has revealed that Bush's lawyers told him he can order that torture be committed with impunity. It is now official that George W. Bush is above the law.

As horror after horror emerged from Abu Ghraib prison, Americans exclaimed that this is not behavior befitting our great country. Many wondered how such atrocities could be perpetrated by United States citizens. We hoped that this was simply the behavior of a few bad apples run amok. But the dots have now been connected for us. Torture is sanctioned policy that comes from the top.

In a classified report prepared for Donald Rumsfeld in early 2003, a working group of lawyers appointed by the Defense Department's general counsel, William J. Haynes II, advised that Bush is not bound to follow United States laws that prohibit torture. Government agents who torture under orders from Bush won't be successfully prosecuted, according to the report, which is scheduled to be declassified in 2013.

Never mind that the United States ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which makes it part of the supreme law of the land under our Constitution. Never mind that this treaty specifies that torture is never permitted, even in times of war. Never mind that Congress implemented this treaty by enacting a Torture Statute providing for 20 years, life in prison or, even the death penalty when the victim dies, for U.S. soldiers or civilians who engage in torture. And never mind that torture constitutes a war crime, for which our officials can be punished.

The Bush administration lawyers have created their own jurisprudence, which effectively holds the president is not bound to follow the law.

Extrapolating from the "necessity" defense in criminal law, Bush's lawyers counsel, in effect, that the end justifies the means. It's the proverbial ticking time bomb scenario. Torture the bastard to avert a terrorist attack. But not only is this illegal; it doesn't work. Senator John McCain says the tortured will rarely provide reliable information. This position has been affirmed by many of the prisoners released from Abu Ghraib who said they made up information to get the torture to stop.

Bush's legal experts also rehabilitated the "superior orders" defense. It didn't work for the Nazis at Nuremberg or Lt. William Calley who was prosecuted for the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam. That defense can only be asserted when the defendant was following a lawful order. An order to commit torture would be unlawful, as it would violate the Convention Against Torture and the Torture Statute.

But Haynes' team assures Bush his orders would be legal because he's the president and he's the highest law in the land (notwithstanding the Constitution, Congress and the Supreme Court). Indeed, one of the lawyers who prepared the report said the intention of the political appointees heading the working group was to realize "presidential power at its absolute apex." [...]

Remember that in the course of trying to convince the American people that war with Iraq was necessary, Bush marshaled accusations that Saddam Hussein had tortured his people. But we have God - and Bush - on our side, so we're allowed to torture.

In late 2002, after the Washington Post revealed allegations of behavior of U.S. commanders that might amount to torture in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote to Bush, saying that immediate steps must be taken "to clarify that the use of torture is not U.S. policy." Roth reminded Bush that, "U.S. officials who take part in torture, authorize it, or even close their eyes to it, can be prosecuted by courts anywhere in the world." The prohibition against torture is so basic, it is considered jus cogens, and is thus binding on all countries, even if they haven't ratified the Torture Convention. [...]

There are some striking contradictions between Bush administration policy in the "war on terror" and the working group's rationalizations for Bush to authorize torture. The lawyers who prepared the report admitted that the Torture Statute applies to Afghanistan.

But they declared it does not cover our actions in Guantanamo because it is within the "territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and accordingly is within the United States." Yet, the Bush administration has denied these prisoners access to U.S. courts to challenge their detention precisely by claiming that the U.S. is not sovereign over Guantanamo Bay. Either the United States has jurisdiction over Guantanamo or it doesn't. You can't have it both ways.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that U.S. courts do have jurisdiction to hear the Guantanamo prisoners' complaints. That court was extremely alarmed at the government's assertion during oral argument that these prisoners would have no judicial recourse even if they were claiming the government subjected them to acts of torture. The Ninth Circuit said: "To our knowledge, prior to the current detention of prisoners at Guantanamo, the U.S. government has never before asserted such a grave and startling proposition." The court said this was "a position so extreme that it raises the gravest concerns under both American and international law."

By the end of June, the Supreme Court will decide whether U.S. courts have jurisdiction over the Guantanamo prisoners.

In December 2002, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a new anti- torture treaty after 10 years of negotiation. The Optional Protocol to the U.N. Convention against Torture will allow independent international and national experts to conduct regular visits to places of detentions within the States Parties, to assess the treatment of detainees and make recommendations for improvement. The treaty was adopted by a vote of 127 in favor, 4 against and 42 abstentions.

The United States was joined by Nigeria, the Marshall Islands and Palau in opposing this treaty.

The legal advice which would permit Bush to order torture without sanction is consistent with his policy to ignore or denounce treaties and federal laws that don't comport with his program.

Bush's unprecedented act of "unsigning" the International Criminal Court statute, and coercing Security Council resolutions and bilateral immunity agreements, are meant to ensure that neither he nor his top advisors ever become defendants in war crimes prosecutions. But under the well-established laws of the United States, Bush would be a war criminal if he authorizes torture as recommended in the classified report.

Marjorie Cohn, is a contributing editor to t r u t h o u t, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.

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Impeaching unstable presidents

By Stephen Crockett and Al Lawrence
Online Journal Guest Writers

June 10, 2004—"In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President [sic] goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as enemies of the state."

If you thought the above quotation was a reference to the darkest days of Richard Nixon when he was facing impeachment over the crimes of Watergate, you would be wrong. This quotation is the second paragraph of a brilliant but frightening story by Doug Thompson, publisher of Capitol Hill Blue, headlined Bush?s Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides.

The story paints a picture of a paranoid and intolerant leader that cannot cope with any disagreements or opposing viewpoints. It paints a picture of a powerful man who does not trust the public he is supposed to serve. It gives an insiders view of how George Tenet was really fired for disagreeing with Bush. The Stalinist term "enemies of the state" for simple domestic political opponents is revealing.

The article speaks of an ever-growing enemies list. Bush's vulgar language makes a mockery of his supposed Christian politics that would shame the true Christians among his supporters. Bush seems dangerously unstable based on this article. Indeed, Bush sounds like Nixon in the darkest days of Watergate when Congress was moving to impeach him.

We are not talking the partisan frame-up of the Clinton impeachment era. We are talking about serious crimes and possible violations of the US Constitution that threaten the way the administration conducts our national business. These writers have been hearing behind the scenes rumbling about ticking time bombs that could bring down Bush before or (like Nixon) just after the presidential elections.

The spending of $700 million federal tax dollars on Bush's Iraq invasion before Congress authorized it and supposedly before the decision was made is impeachable.

There are credible reports that Bush knew about the plans to out the CIA agent wife of Ambassador Wilson and that Bush did nothing to stop it. This is certainly impeachable if true and likely criminal.

Jail time for Bush would certainly not be unreasonable. We are at "war! "

Enron's involvement in the California Energy crisis has just been confirmed. Enron's ties to Bush are beyond doubt. The actions of the Bush administration during this crisis should be investigated by a special prosecutor. Billions of dollars were stolen from taxpayers, consumers and businesses in California.

These writers believe that the Cheney Energy Taskforce may have engaged in criminal collusion with big oil and energy companies in the very first year of the Bush administration. We believe this is why the Bush administration is hiding the details from the American public. Could the plans for the invasion of Iraq have begun in this taskforce? Were American oil companies marking up maps of Iraq and dividing the spoils of the then future war long before the 9- 11 attacks?

What dark secrets are being hidden from the American public?

Republicans label any questioning of their actions or motives as "conspiracy theories," just like Nixon did in the 1970s. It worked then, briefly, and Nixon won re-election. After the election, we found that the charges were all true . . . and much worse was happening. There were hidden facts about Nixon that motivated his paranoia. Is it the same with Bush?

These writers believe that Bush and his people will be revealed in time to be far more sinister than Nixon.

We believe this is the most corrupt administration in the history of the nation. And Nixon did not have the police-state tools of the falsely named USA PATRIOT Act to use against his political enemies. [...]

Republicans would be wise to distance themselves from Bush and his policies as quickly as possible. Bush has begun a political meltdown that will make the Nixon collapse look mild in comparison. Both destroyed themselves for much the same reasons.

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Defending Our Freedom

by Virginia Hoffman
June 9, 2004 by

It breaks my heart to hear "they died defending our freedom" used to eulogize US service women and men who die in Iraq. Though all military people I have known have been very clear about their own personal dedication to "defending our freedom," those who send them into battle often use that phrase as false advertising, to garner support for much less noble causes.

George H. W. Bush chose to invade Panama in 1989 "to drive out that notorious drug lord Manuel Noriega, restore democracy, and defend ‘American' (only US American) life." The ad was for public consumption.

Behind the scenes, Bush paid Noriega generously for years as a CIA operative. It didn't matter that he was a drug dealer until Panama wanted its independence from the US control (not democracy) they had known since their 1903 inception. Who died to continue US control? Over 3000 Panamanians died and 15,000 were left homeless when whole neighborhoods in the poorest areas were bombed; 23 US service personnel died.

Whose freedom was defended?

The Bush-Cheney team chose to invade Iraq in 2003 because "Hussein was linked to the 9/11 attacks, had chemical, biological and nuclear weapons at the ready, and was prepared to attack the US within 45 minutes;" i.e., we needed to attack to "defend our freedom." As those claims were discovered to be lies, the ads shifted to the "need to remove that evil dictator who gassed thousands of Iranians and Kurdish Iraqis."

However, behind the scenes lurked a different reality. Hussein had been recruited as a CIA operative, assisted and sustained by the US in his rise to power in Iraq, and given money, weapons and technical assistance—even the ingredients for the poisonous gasses he used on the Kurds and Iranians—by the Reagan-Bush administration represented by a smiling Donald Rumsfeld. As is often the pattern, it didn't matter that Hussein was a ruthless dictator as long as he worked for us; our government aided and abetted him until they didn't need him anymore.

Whose freedom was defended?

The real thrust for the invasion, carefully hidden from public view, is the "PNAC." In 1996/7, a neo-con think tank made up of Dick Cheney, "Scooter" Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Richard Perle and Jeb Bush, among others, produced a political game plan called "Project for a New American Century." They produced list of goals that included the take-over of Iraq, regardless of the status of Saddam Hussein, to gain military ascendancy in the Middle East and control of Iraq's oil reserves.

A subtext of PNAC, called Rebuilding America's Defenses, extended the goal to unchallengeable US global domination, supported by a quiet, accepting electorate at home. To achieve the needed level of (fear-driven) popular support, they actually stated, would require the equivalent of "a new Pearl Harbor." After such a cataclysmic event, the ensuing fear would make it easy to get popular support for anything that could be advertised as "defending our freedom."

In Memorial Day speeches this year, Bush invoked the mantra that the valiant dead gave their lives in a war that started on 9/11 (our new Pearl Harbor), to defend freedom and the homeland against the threat of terrorism.

To invade Iraq to defend against the threat of terrorism is as misleading as the rest of the "reasons" proposed. Before the US invaded, Iraq posed no terrorist threat to the rest of the world; and since the invasion, most of the armed resistance is aimed at getting the US and its cohorts, mercenaries, and corporations out of their country.

Instead of defending freedom, ours or theirs, our government, now run by PNAC members, is imposing and extending control. The Iraqis know it, wary after past British occupation, and so does the rest of the world. If the world's most powerful force invades a country, kills over 11,000 people, quashes dissent, makes mass arrests without charges, violates the Geneva Conventions, allows the systemic abuse of prisoners, and imposes a constitution that will allow multiple permanent foreign bases and continued foreign corporate control of the country's natural resources, then that country—any country—will become a hotbed of dissent.

The fact that our troops are fighting in Iraq is not only not protecting us, but is one of the factors increasing hostility for the US worldwide. It is rousing more distrust and resentment, inspiring more people in more countries to join in the effort to bring down an arrogant bully.

To date, 832 US service personnel have died, 112 from other compliant countries, and upwards of 11,000 Iraqis, most of them civilians.

And whose freedom is being defended?

It's time that we the people stand up and defend the lives of our military personnel from decision makers who would send them to die for their own power and wealth, disguised by the rhetoric of freedom.

Dr. Virginia Hoffman is a Senior Lecturer at Loyola University Chicago

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US says terror attacks actually increased

By Arshad Mohammed
Friday June 11, 04:27 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department says its report that the number of international "terrorist" attacks fell last year was wrong and in fact had risen sharply.

The Department also said the number of resulting deaths was expected to be higher for 2003 than the 307 initially reported, but officials said it may not exceed 2002's 725 fatalities.

The admissions dented the claim by U.S. President George W. Bush's administration that Washington is winning the "war on terrorism," an argument critical to his reelection strategy.

The State Department's "Patterns of Global Terrorism Report" released on April 29 said "terrorist" attacks fell to 190 last year, their lowest since 1969, from 198 in 2002.

It also said those killed dropped to 307, including 35 U.S. citizens, from 725 in 2002, including 27 Americans.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said both totals were understated because of errors in compiling the data by the Terrorist Threat Integration Centre. The interagency group was set up last year to address the failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to prevent the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Boucher told reporters on Thursday the terrorism experts appeared to have made a series of mistakes, failing to count attacks for the full year and possibly misinterpreting the definition of such attacks to exclude incidents included in the past. [...]

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he was "very disturbed" that errors had made it into the report but denied the numbers were manipulated for political benefit.

Comment: Horse hockey.

When the report was released, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said it provided "clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight" while State Department coordinator for counterterrorism Cofer Black hailed its "good news." [...]

Comment: Let's face it: the Bush administration lied again, and the people bought it - again.

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Increasing attacks on US troops sign of Taliban's better regrouping 2004-06-09 13:02:28
by Abdul Haleem

KABUL, May 30 (Xinhuanet) -- The intensifying attacks by suspected Taliban fighters against US-led foreign troops over the last two weeks in Afghanistan is an indication of the group's better regrouping, Afghan observers here believe.

At least four US soldiers have been killed and over 10 others were injured in Taliban related militancy since May 20 in the troubled southern and southeastern provinces of the war-torn country.

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When Ignorance Isn't Bliss

By David Sirota

To cut through the din, here are five congressional votes everyone should know—straight from the you-can't-make-this-up file.

[...] Many people, of course, simply tune out and do not vote. Those who do head to the polls often vote with little knowledge of what their elected representatives are doing.

So, in an effort to cut through the din this year, here are five congressional votes that everyone in America should know about. They come straight from the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up file, and capture how soundbite politics hide the troubling reality behind conservatives' bumper-sticker slogans.

Pro-Defense: Facing increasing violence in Iraq, military commanders in Iraq asked Congress and the president to immediately fill shortages in protective body armor.

Just four months after the president signed another massive tax cut for the wealthy, up to 51,000 troops were still not properly equipped for combat, with many begging friends and family at home to buy them makeshift armor.

Responding to the crisis, Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) sponsored a bill to immediately plug the shortage. He was voted down (Senate vote #376, October 2, 2003), and the results have been catastrophic.

As a recent study circulating in the Army notes, up to one in four casualties in Iraq was due to poor protective gear.

Compassionate: With U.S. troops struggling to secure Iraq last summer, Congress and the president repeatedly praised soldiers' efforts and promised to provide them the best facilities possible.

Yet, the White House budget that year proposed to cut $1.5 billion out of military housing.

Representative David Obey (D-Wisc.) came up with a simple solution: Slightly reduce the proposed tax cuts on the 200,000 Americans making $1 million a year to fill the budget gap for the troops and their families. Instead of getting an $88,000 tax cut, millionaires would receive an ample $83,000 tax cut, and the troops' housing would be maintained.

Obey's bill was voted down (House vote #324, June 26, 2003).

Tax Fairness: In 2002, the Bush administration terminated the tax on oil and chemical industry polluters that finances Superfund toxic cleanups. As the New York Times reported, the move effectively "shifted the bulk of [cleanup] costs from industry to taxpayers," allowing the president's corporate campaign donors to pollute without having to pay for it. Just two years later, the loss of tax revenues bankrupted Superfund, leaving it unable to maintain an adequate cleanup pace. In response, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) offered an amendment to reinstate the Superfund tax.

He was voted down. (Senate vote #45, March 11, 2004), and now more and more communities are forced to wait as toxic sites fester in their midst.

Patrotism: As the recession reached new lows in December 2002, the U.S. House of Representatives considered whether to continue rewarding companies with taxpayer subsidies, even if those same companies use those subsidies to send U.S. jobs overseas.

The question was simple: During a jobs and deficit crisis, should the U.S. government's Export-Import Bank continue giving most of its $15 billion a year to subsidize a slew of Fortune 500 companies that are reducing their U.S. workforce?

But when Representative Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) offered a measure to curb the government handouts to corporate job exporters, he was voted down (House vote #120, May 1, 2002).

Clean Government: Halliburton, the oil company Vice President Dick Cheney ran, continues to receive billions in no-bid government contracts for work in Iraq, even after it was cited for overcharging taxpayers and providing unsanitary facilities to U.S. troops. At the same time, Cheney is receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in deferred compensation from the company and holds roughly 400,000 Halliburton stock options. More troubling, internal memos now show that Cheney's office was directly coordinating Halliburton contracts.

When the Congressional Research Service ruled the situation represented a "potential conflict of interest," the Senate considered legislation that would have forced the termination of the Cheney-Halliburton relationship.

It was voted down (Senate vote #386, October 16, 2003).

No doubt, most Americans have heard more about the president's dog and jogging schedule than where their elected representatives came down on these votes. But that merely reflects the pathetic state of American journalism, not the gravity or consequences of the decisions. No matter how much we tell ourselves these votes and decisions don't matter, they do. No matter how many times reporters tell us semen-stained blue dresses and gossip are more important than lies about war, peace, poverty and corruption, they're not.

The sooner we wake up and demand accountability at the polls, the better.

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Stepford America

by Carolyn Baker
06/09/04 "ICH"

[...] This week, it is virtually impossible to read, watch or listen to any mainstream media that is not extolling the godlike status of Ronald Reagan, one of the most egregious war criminals and mass murderers in American history. Journalists Robert Parry, Will Pitt and Greg Palast have all written incisive pieces documenting the criminal acts of the Reagan Administration, most notably, the Iran-Contra scandal and the largest theft in the history of the human race, the Savings and Loan outrage of the 1980s.

Unquestionably, Ronald Reagan should have died in prison, not in his cushy estate in California.

That the aforementioned historical facts are not being reported by mainstream media and only by alternative journalists is blatantly symptomatic of the robotic trance Stepford America prefers over the wrenching realities of the smiling, dottering, "sweet old man", former B movie actor turned President.

Meanwhile, the entire world, with perhaps the exception of Maggie Thatcher fans in the UK, is aghast with our need to lionize Reagan in the face of the heinous atrocities he permitted and promoted internationally in the name of ridding the world of the "evil empire."

Progressive journalists commenting on the deplorable Reagan policies, both foreign and domestic, remind us that our current situation under George W. Bush, Jr. is directly traceable to Reagan’s rabid anti-communism and his contempt for all beings less privileged than he. Moreover, his administration marked the birth of a new generation of journalists who essentially function as sycophantic stenographers for the ruling elite.

But was it only Reagan and the media which paved the way for the horrific policies of the current administration? For all their power, these institutions could not have succeeded in producing the devastation we see around us were it not for the American people who refuse to accept anything but a happy face.

Indeed, the happy face of Clinton smiled and told us that NAFTA and free trade would save the American worker. Today, the American middle class is facing extinction as a result of globalization and the outsourcing of jobs offshore--a happy face, promoting lies.

With a happy face, George Bush, Jr. assured us at the 2000 Republican Convention that America needed to have a humble foreign policy, all the while packing his administration with neconservatives hellbent on world domination. With a happy face, he strutted across the Aircraft Carrier Lincoln dripping with testosterone, clad in flight suit and those pubescent straps between his legs to declare that the Iraq "mission" had been accomplished.

With a smile—or more accurately, a repulsive smirk, the "bring-‘em-on’s" and the cavalier threats of hurling nukes at the "evildoers" have cost nearly a thousand American lives, and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives.

With a swagger and a scornful sneer, we are "reassured" that the most tyrannical piece of legislation since the early Colonial Intolerable Acts, that is, the Patriot Act, makes all of us safe from the "terrrists."

With a happy face, the handpuppet of the oil/gas/timber industries, Interior Secretary, Gail Norton, promises that her environmentally-gutting giveaways to her cronies will profoundly purify our air and water.

With a bubbly, elfin grin, Norton’s colleague, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, announces that America is now swimming in jobs, jobs, jobs. And how many recent college graduates, not swimming but drowning in student loan debt, did she interview—those who cannot and probably will not find jobs unless they move to India or Indonesia?

But here we are, in the ghoulish Iraq debacle, an economy in shambles, a nearly decimated middle class, a planet on the verge of catastrophic, environmentally-induced climate change, an administration that seriously believes that America’s incalculable arsenal of nuclear weapons built fifty years ago must now be upgraded and that the testing of those weapons in Nevada must soon resume.

As if these realities weren’t dire enough, petroleum geologists inform us that oil production worldwide has peaked and that without immediate, radical conservation measures, our planet will experience a calamitous energy crisis within the next two decades that could eliminate millions of people from the earth.

Is that what it will take for America to stop smiling—to stop demanding that our media present pleasant and pretty pictures of the Stepford world we cling to? In my college history classes, I have actually seen students drop the class after the first day because they sensed that I would not be teaching a Disneyland view of history where we could all hold hands and dance around the illusion of "America the beautiful."

Forty-one years ago, America made a choice—a choice to take the path of the happy face. When the Warren Commission concluded its hideously mendacious report on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Americans smiled and allowed themselves to be conned, lied to, jerked around, violated.

When the Pentagon Papers revealed that the President and the military never really intended to win the Vietnam War but keep it going as long as possible, we stood enraged over our 58,000 dead men and women, but in 1980, we chose the happy face of the smiling old man.

When Ronald Reagan illegally arranged for the sale of arms to Iran and allowed Oliver North to orchestrate massive cocaine trafficking onto the streets of the United States—both operations created to finance the Nicaraguan Contras—American Stepford robots clicked their heels and exchanged platitudes about what a great communicator Reagan was and how nice Nancy looked in red.

As the "smiling old man" turned his head and looked the other way while his organized crime pals looted the savings and loan industry and WE were once again violated, we began bantering once more about what a wonderful country we live in. We knew that Reagan had created the monster named Saddam Hussein, and we saw the Gulf War coming. As thousands of our troops returned with mysterious illnesses, we reminded ourselves of the short little video game that the Gulf War had been and how it didn’t last very long. Later, like good little automatons, we became voyeuristically obsessed with the stains on Monica’s blue dress and allowed our government to spend $70 million dollars investigating the guy who put them there.

And now, yet another president has impeachably lied his way into a war in collusion with a Stepford media while a Stepford Congress scarcely blinks an eye.

Are you still smiling? Have I depressed you yet? I speak not only about the masses, but to and about my progressive peers.

Why do we continue to insist that we live in a democracy—that clean elections in America are possible when every particle of evidence proves the contrary?

Why do we tell ourselves that we have a political system that "works" when we are faced with two candidates who are an echo of each other?

Why do we persist in believing that we are not yet living in a fascist empire? According to Mussolini, "The first stage of fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power."

Of course, all those who prefer to remain optimistic will ask, "So what should we do? What is your solution?"

My answer is that we should stop believing that the system works and that choosing the "right" candidate in a rigged game where a "right" candidate cannot even be nominated is not a viable option.

Over $2.3 trillion dollars is missing from the Pentagon. At least $59 billion dollars is missing from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Our government tells us that it has no way to account for that money and no way to audit itself in the future. Without question, the same kind of financial mayhem is going on at the local level, and most assuredly, those dots of criminality connect with state and national theft on a massive scale.

First, we need to organize locally and make local politicians accountable for our money. Secondly, we need to VOTE DAILY with our time and money by giving no time or funds to corporate news media.

We need to patronize local banks and retailers and buy out of corporate consumerism as much as humanly possible. Most importantly, we need to inform ourselves daily through non-corporate, independent media, and spread that information far and wide.

In my opinion, at this point in our history, we have little hope of influencing our government nationally, and certainly not by voting in rigged national elections, but there is much that we can do locally.

Yes, I know, you do not like to hear this option, and I am certain to receive scathing responses about it. It means that we have to stop hoping for the "good" President and vote responsibly hour by hour. Even more sobering is the reality that unless we want to remain Automaton Americans, we must face one of life’s cruelest lessons, namely, that in spite of everything we do to create a more just and humane world, there are no guarantees.

As never before, we must cling to whatever gives our lives meaning, to whatever we deem sacred. We can learn much about that from our departed sisters and brothers of the anti-Nazi resistance movements of the 1930s and 40s.

Whether or not our external struggles can transform our world sufficiently or in time to avert catastrophe, no evil on earth, as numerous holocaust survivors discovered, can obliterate the bone marrow truth of our inherent human dignity.

What we must always remember, therefore, are the words of the former slave, Frederick Douglass, who reminds us that "Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave."

In other words, intentionally informed, questioning, critically thinking citizens who reject and expose the criminal enterprise that our government has become, cannot be Stepford Americans.

Carolyn Baker is a professor of U.S. history living in New Mexico

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24-hour camera surveillance in city is part of bigger plan

Financed by homeland security grants, new network aimed at fighting terrorists as much as drug dealers

By Doug Donovan
Baltimore Sun
June 10, 2004

From the Inner Harbor to the Bay Bridge, local and state homeland security authorities are beginning to build a regional network of 24-hour surveillance cameras that will first go live this summer in Baltimore.

The closed-circuit video surveillance system of public spaces will begin in the Inner Harbor by summer's end, and a $2 million federal grant accepted by the city yesterday will expand the cameras into downtown's west side by early November.

"We're trying to build a regional network of cameras," said Dennis R. Schrader, director of homeland security for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

What of privacy concerns raised by groups opposed to cameras constantly monitored by retired police officers or college students?

"We're at war," Schrader said. [...]

Comment: Well, that takes care of that, doesn't it? Privacy and civil liberties take a back seat to The Great Crusade Against Evildoers. Americans are basically asking the government to take away their rights. As such, it is a mystery why these same Americans can be the least bit surprised when they hear that their beloved soldiers are violating the rights of prisoners in Iraq - or when they learn that Rumsfeld ordered the torture of American Taliban recruit John Walker Lindh.

Arthur Spitzer, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area, said his group fought Washington's system and said the D.C. City Council curbed the Police Department's plan.

"This is the first one I've heard of where apparently they're planning to put cameras around an urban area to keep them on all the time," Spitzer said of Baltimore's plan.

He said cameras infringe on privacy rights and are ineffective in fighting either crime or terrorism.

"This is just another step toward Big Brother," he said. "One of the freedoms that Americans take for granted is the freedom to walk down the street without the government looking over your shoulder all the time." [...]

Comment: The majority are not taking any freedoms for granted - they are willing to sacrifice their liberties for the war on terror, and the Bush administration is more than happy to grant their wish.

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Both Sides Now

In a new film, a local boy goes to war and realizes, yup, it sure is hell


When a reporter manages to reach Marine Captain Josh Rushing on his cell phone, it can only be to confirm a few facts or make small talk about, oh, where he grew up or what the weather's like in Los Angeles or other trivialities. Yes, he can say he was indeed born in Dallas and did indeed go to Lewisville High School in the late 1980s--"back when it was still a country town just to the north of Dallas," he says with a chuckle.

And, yes, he does indeed work in the movie business: He's the liaison between the Marine Corps and the movie industry, which means he scans every script involving the Marines and decides whether his branch of the armed services will aid in the production by providing technical assistance or military training or even tanks and airplanes. He loves the movies, to the point of quoting the John Cusack film Grosse Point Blank when talking about the spot where his childhood house was replaced by a convenience store. "You can't go home," he says, "but you can shop there." He will tell you his just might be the coolest gig in the Corps.

But the one thing Rushing can't talk about is his appearance in Control Room, director Jehane Noujaim's new documentary about the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news network, which, with some 45 million viewers, considers itself the CNN of the Middle East and has become the scourge of the Bush administration since September 11, 2001. Rushing was the military's press liaison at U.S. Central Command in Qatar as the U.S. military was rolling into Iraq and just as Noujaim was starting to shoot her film. Not only is he seen throughout the movie thoughtfully and eloquently debating American foreign policy with Al-Jazeera's reporters, but Rushing also assisted Noujaim in snipping red tape, allowing her into Centcom during the early days of the war.

Though Rushing was initially made available for interviews, along with Noujaim and Al-Jazeera senior producer Samir Khader, he was just as quickly taken off the list. According to the director, his superiors at the Pentagon have not yet seen the movie, in which Al-Jazeera's reporters and producers are sympathetically portrayed as West-loving but war-hating, and simply didn't feel comfortable with Rushing speaking to the media.

It's also possible that Rushing's comments in The Village Voice last month didn't sit well with his commanding officers. Before he was ordered to stop talking, Rushing came off as critical of not only the American network's sanitized visions of war--the bloodless body counts and the scant footage of soldiers and civilians killed in the name of "enduring freedom"--but also of the very institution for which he has served for a decade.

"In America war isn't hell--we don't see blood; we don't see suffering," he told the Voice's Kareem Fahim. "All we see is patriotism, and we support the troops. It's almost like war has some brand marketing here...Al-Jazeera shows it all. It turns your stomach, and you remember there's something wrong with war." [...]

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FM refutes Pentagon report on Beijing's military forces 2004-06-10 18:36:53

BEIJING, June 10 (Xinhuanet) -- A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday refuted a recent report issued by the Pentagon on Beijing's military forces, saying that the report was filled with cold war mentality and had ulterior motives.

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Germany, Japan demonstrate different approaches to wartime history 2004-06-09 21:43:47

TOKYO, June 9 (Xinhuanet) -- German leaders' attendance of the D-Day anniversary ceremonies on June 6 showed that Germany has won forgiveness and praise from the rest of the world by repeated acknowledging its responsibility for World War II. However, Japan,another defeated fascist country, treated its wartime history differently and therefore got what it deserved from its neighboring countries.

"We in Germany know who committed the crime of war," German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said at the international peace memorial in France last Sunday. "We acknowledge our responsibility before history, and we take it seriously."

Since the end of World War II, Germany has taken full responsibility for war crimes and apologized repeatedly to the countries which it invaded.

[...] In contrast, Japan is still trying to cover up its war crimes against Asian peoples and the alienation left by the war still lingers. It makes every bid to whitewash its wartime atrocities. Some rightist extremists even openly beautify and justify the aggressive war and Japan's colonial rule in Asia.

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Turning a dull vote into hot copy

By Clare Murphy
BBC News Online

Polling stations are in action across the EU for elections to the European parliament - that all important body behind legislation ranging from the length of Europeans' working day to the curvature of fruit.

Former adult entertainer Dolly Buster is used to illustrate many election stories, like this one

But however integral to the lives of Europeans as the parliament may be - there is little doubt that the election campaign elicits more ennui than enthusiasm among voters.

[...] Francois Sergent, Foreign Affairs Editor at the left-wing French daily Liberation, may bemoan what he sees as the failure of candidates to launch engaging European campaigns, but he is appalled by such a suggestion.

"We can't ignore it," he exclaimed. "That's a terrible idea."

Liberation, he says, has regularly run election stories on its front page in recent weeks, although he concedes that - despite the paper's best attempts to make the pieces as gripping as possible - they are unlikely to have increased the paper's circulation.

"We've tried to bring as much humour as possible into the coverage of the elections, but we've also been very careful not to trivialise them. There are important issues at stake - the constitution, the possible entry of Turkey into the union," he says.

"If the politicians aren't going to bother to explain what's what, newspapers must take on the responsibility."

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Elections in Britain bring reverses for Blair

Fri Jun 11, 2:22 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair looked on course for a stinging rebuff from the nation as results from a day of local and European elections showed voters turning against his ruling Labour party.

In Blair's first major electoral test since he led a deeply sceptical nation into the Iraq war, early figures from polls for 166 local and city councils showed Labour losing significant ground to both the main opposition parties.

Incumbent governments in Britain are traditionally punished during such mid-term polls, but the figures made notably grim reading for a prime minister already under considerable pressure on a number of fronts.

With votes counted in almost a quarter of the councils, taking in varied chunks of England and Wales, Labour had lost 86 seats while the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties picked up 83 seats between them.

More worrying for Blair, a BBC extrapolation of the vote for the entire country, using a nationally representative sample of more than 400,000 votes cast, showed Labour pushed into a humiliating third place behind the other two parties, with just 26 percent support. [...]

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More Americans Abuse Alcohol, Study Finds

Thu Jun 10, 2004 05:46 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More Americans are abusing alcohol than in the 1990s, but fewer are technically alcoholics, U.S. government researchers said on Thursday.

They found that the number of American adults who abuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent rose to 17.6 million or 8.46 percent of the population in 2001-2002 from 13.8 million or 7.41 percent of the population in 1991-1992.

The researchers cannot say why heavy drinking is up. [...]

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Lung cancer carries severe stigma

The stigma attached to lung cancer can have far reaching consequences for patients, research suggests.

Oxford University researchers found many patients felt people blamed them for their illness because it is so strongly associated with smoking.

They also found that anti-smoking campaigns helped to fuel prejudice, which resulted in damaged relations with family, friends and doctors.

The study, of 45 patients, is published by the British Medical Journal.

Many patients, particularly those who had stopped smoking years ago or had never smoked, felt unjustly blamed for their illness.

One said: "People automatically think you've brought it on yourself and it's a sort of stigma."

Patients said that people had gone so far as to cross the road to avoid contact with them, and some said that family or friends had not been in touch since they heard about the diagnosis.

Concealing symptoms

Some patients said they concealed their illness, and fear of stigmatisation deterred some from seeking all the help they needed.

[...] Mike Unger, chief executive, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, agreed that there was a "huge" stimga attached to having lung cancer.

He told BBC News Online: "At a meeting I had with patients a few weeks ago without exception they were angry at the 'dirty lungs' image portrayed in recent adverts - this just reinforced the stereotype.

"This campaign might persuade some to stop smoking - briefly - but it does nothing to help those with lung cancer, a significant number of whom have never smoked.

"Fundamentally, lung cancer is a paediatric disease and the Foundation would much rather have such adverts focussing on lifestyle."

Comment: The campaign of harrassement of smokers has gone so far that it is now illegal to smoke anywhere in Ireland except in your own home. While we do not believe that everyone should or needs to smoke, we have found that smoking benefits a certain number of people.

The following is a comment from Signs of the Times, November 30, 2002. It holds true today:

When we deeply consider this matter, some serious questions rise to the surface. The first question is, of course, since our governments, individually and collectively, have such abysmal track records in terms of doing anything that is good for us, why do people automatically think that the campaign against smoking is a "good thing?"

By now, most readers of this site have a pretty good grip on the fact that we are being poisoned by fluoride in our drinking water, by toxins in the air from industrialization, aircraft fuels, exhaust from combustion engines, and chemicals in our food - including aspartame - all of which are far more deadly than tobacco when the matter is fairly investigated. So, why has tobacco been targeted? Something is wrong with this picture.

Fluoride and aspartame are certifiably far more deadly than nicotine... the only thing is, both of them tend to damage and suppress the ability to think. The only reason I can think of for smoking to be targeted is the well-known fact that nicotine stimulates the production of acetylcholine receptors in the brain and thus, is one of the few herbs in our world that actually, testably, improves the ability to think. Everything else in our environment that causes cancer is ignored or allowed to kill us. And above all, in the present day, we are not supposed to think. Because, if people were thinking, they would realize that Osame is NOT under the bed and they would figure out that Bush and the Gang really are the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler and the Brown Shirts and that the attack on the World Trade Center was the new Reichstag Fire, and they would have a clue as to what America is facing in the upcoming years....

The intervening years have done nothing to dispell our fears.

We carried an article yestarday that the medical system in Canada may kill up to 25,000 people a year through misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment! To put that in perspective for Americans, that is the equivalent of 250,000 people dying in the US each year, which may well be the case.

The system is in place to bleed you dry, slowly, painfully, drop by drop, until you drop.

The media have painted the Arabs as "terrorists", as "ditry fanatics". Why couldn't they do the same thing for tobacco?

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While we're on the subject of government's taking care of their citizen's, there is this:

Army Withholds Chemical Attack Antidote

By SHARON THEIMER Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite the interest of emergency officials, the government is refusing to provide U.S. communities an antidote controlled by the Army and stockpiled by other countries to treat victims of a chemical terror attack.

The product, Reactive Skin Decontamination Lotion, was developed by the Canadian military years ago, won Food and Drug Administration approval in 2003 and is sold in other NATO countries for neutralizing sarin, mustard gas and other chemical agents.

It is being tested by the Army. But the companies that make it aren't permitted to sell it or even advertise it to state and local governments in the United States.

"Right now they have no product to decontaminate people other than soap and water," said Phil O'Dell, president of O'Dell Engineering, a Canadian-based company licensed by the Canadian government to sell the lotion. "There is only one FDA-approved. It's the RSDL. These first responders correctly have been trying to buy RSDL since FDA approval."

Dr. Dani Zavasky, a deputy medical director for the New York Police Department's counterterrorism bureau, thinks the antidote is promising and wonders why her agency cannot buy it. [...]

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'Fears over Gulf War chemicals'

More people may have been exposed to chemical warfare agents during the 1990 Gulf War than previously thought, a report says.

The US government revealed in 1996 that some people may have been exposed to chemicals when troops destroyed a stockpile of agents in southern Iraq.

Officials said over 100,000 troops, including 9,000 Britons, may have been affected.

But the US General Accounting Office says the figures could be much higher.

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50,000 troops in Gulf illness scare

James Meikle, health correspondent
The Guardian
Friday June 11, 2004

All 50,000 troops who served in the first Gulf war might have been exposed to low levels of chemical warfare agents during the fighting and its aftermath, a US investigation has suggested.

The implication of a Congressional report that large numbers of civilians and troops in Iraq and neighbouring countries could have been exposed will galvanise the controversy over illnesses suffered by more than 5,000 British veterans since 1991 that have been linked to their service in the Gulf.

The report indicates that possible chemical contamination of troops could have been much more widespread than suggested by previous official government estimates, based on US research for the Pentagon and CIA.

Lord Morris, the Labour peer who has led the campaign on Gulf war illnesses, yesterday demanded answers from the government, saying it appeared the entire British deployment of more than 50,000 troops could have been at risk.

The MoD used the US defence department models to estimate that 9,000 British troops were within the chemical plume that might have been released from the destruction of chemical agents at Khamisaya, in southern Iraq, in March 1991. This figure was revealed in 1999. Previously, the government said no British units would have been affected, although one Briton might have been under a plume.

More than 5,000 British veterans have reported illnesses they believe related to the Gulf war or the inoculations they received before deployment and more than 600 have died. The government has refused to accept any suggestion that there is a "syndrome" but points to its £8.5m research programme to prove its commitment to finding answers.

The government's current position is that the possible level of nerve agent exposure from Khamisaya would have had "no detectable effect" on human health, and the Pentagon still insists the information was the best available and any researcher would know limitations of the data. The CIA also agreed with the report.

But the general accounting office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, last week said the assumptions used by the Pentagon were based on incomplete and uncertain data and that postwar testing to replicate the size of the plume "did not realistically simulate the actual conditions of bombings or demolitions".

The Pentagon, including the bombing of other sites in Iraq, estimated that nearly 102,000 US troops were potentially exposed. But the GAO concluded that, given the significant methodological flaws, neither the Pentagon nor the MoD could know which troops were and which troops were not exposed.

Lord Morris, an honorary member of a US congressional sub-committee investigating undiagnosed illnesses, said: "This is a profoundly significant report not only for US veterans but for ours as well."

He has tabled a parliamentary question to ministers on the issue.

Comment: Iraqis know darn well what the DU dust that coated their country will do - they live with it every day. Of course, none of the official research seems to even touch the ideas that Gulf War Syndrome was possibly caused by depleted uranium and/or inoculations. Unless US and British troops received the same inoculations, it seems that DU is the most likely culprit. In any case, it is obvious that the US and British governments do not want to address the issue head on.

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Woman awarded $100,000 for CIA-funded electroshock

Thu, 10 Jun 2004 8:37:38

MONTREAL - A Montreal woman who underwent intense electroshock treatment in a program funded by the CIA 50 years ago has been awarded $100,000.

Gail Kastner was given massive electroshock therapy to treat depression in 1953 at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal.

She was told on Wednesday of the compensation award.

She was left out of a federal compensation package in 1994 because her treatment was deemed to have been less intense than that of other victims of the experiments. Her treatment was also found to have had fewer long-term effects.

A Federal Court judge reversed that ruling, and awarded her the same amount Ottawa gave to 77 others as compensation for their treatment.

There were 253 claims rejected.

Dr. Ewan Cameron, who was director of the Allan Memorial Institute, conducted experiments using electroshock and drug-induced sleep. The research was funded from 1950 to 1965 by the CIA and by the Canadian government.

Comment: From our Cosmic Cointelpro Timeline:


[...] It has now been documented that millions of doses of LSD were produced and disseminated under the aegis of the CIA's Operation MK-Ultra. LSD became the drug of choice within the agency itself, and was passed out freely to friends of the family, including a substantial number of OSS veterans. For instance, it was OSS Research and Analysis Branch veteran Gregory Bateson who 'turned on' the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg to a U.S. Navy LSD experiment in Palo Alto, California. Not only Ginsberg, but novelist Ken Kesey and the original members of the Grateful Dead rock group opened the doors of perception courtesy of the Navy. The guru of the 'psychedelic revolution', Timothy Leary, first heard about hallucinogens in 1957 from Life magazine (whose publisher, Henry Luce, was often given government acid, like many other opinion shapers), and began his career as a CIA contract employee; at a 1977 'reunion' of acid pioneers, Leary openly admitted, 'everything I am, I owe to the foresight of the CIA'.'' [Michael J. Minnicino, "The New Dark Age The Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness'", Fidelio, v1 #1]

The MK-Ultra program had moved six drugs into active use. In February, Sid Gottlieb organized field trial of psilocybin for injection into nine black inmates at the Addiction Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Scientists then measured their psychological responses. At the end of February, Dulles approved Ewen Cameron's application for mind control experiments to be administered at McGill University Montreal, funded through the Society for Investigation of Human Ecology, a CIA organization. Cameron, the most prestigious psychiatrist in North America at the time, coined the terms "depatterning" and "psychic driving," to describe what he did to people. He was also a leading proponent of lobotomies, or "psychic surgery." Cameron began serious work on sensory deprivation, and created a "sleep room." This dimly-lit dormitory of about twenty beds where patients were drugged, given electroshock, and lobotomized was referred to by the nurses as "The Zombie Room." The experiments were conducted in Canada to keep them concealed and off U.S. soil. The Canadian government was unaware of these activities.

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Putting Corporations on the Couch

By Ted Nace
Dragonfly Review
June 10, 2004

In 1838, when a man named John Sanford assaulted the wife and children of a man named Dred Scott, Scott sought help from the courts.

But Scott was black and Sanford was white. Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney explained the difference with cold, pedantic clarity, writing that Scott and his family were "beings" rather than legal persons, since "they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." In short, before the eyes of the law, their existence was no more compelling than that of a teacup or a canary.

No corporation has ever suffered such an indignity. From the thump of a bureaucrat's stamp that brings it into existence, every corporation by definition enjoys the status of legal personhood that Dred Scott could only dream of. As one T-shirt slogan puts it, "Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. The corporation is the legal fiction that property is a person."

Corporate personhood traces back to the invention of corporations in Britain in the 1500s. What's new in the past century is that courts have extended the idea of "personhood" considerably further than mere legal recognition, adding various Bill of Rights protections such as freedom of speech (thus thwarting campaign finance reform laws), the right to privacy (frustrating government safety inspectors), and so on.

Having bulked up on legal steroids, corporations are now capable of feats no mortal can match. They can shape-shift, morphing into new entities at will. They're immortal, outliving generations of humans. They can teleport, dissolving in one country only to reappear in another.

None of these powers is inherent in the corporate form; each is the result of specific legal victories by corporate attorneys. Critics decry the steady encroachment of corporate power on democracy, yet the advance continues as global trade agreements define still more corporate rights and create institutional mechanisms to implement them.

In The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (Free Press, $25), which formed the basis of the research and writing for the film The Corporation (co-created with Mark Achbar), legal theorist Joel Bakan adds a new twist to the debate over corporate personhood. Rather than taking us through the labyrinths of corporate legal personification, Bakan instead poses a simple question: OK, so a corporation is person. But what kind of person?

Bakan suggests that society answer this question by giving the corporation the same sort of routine quiz employers use to spot potentially good workers and avoid hiring nut cases. His aim isn't to pump the bottom line or to put any particular corporation on the couch. It's the corporation as an institution that he's intent on scrutinizing, using a book found on the desks of psychoanalysts everywhere – The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. First published in 1952, the DSM is now in its fourth edition, with 382 distinct diagnoses. Of course, none of these entries was conceived as a way of diagnosing an institution. But Bakan finds a trait-by-trait match between the standard actions of corporations and the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath.

Like the classic psychopath, corporations are singularly self-interested, driven solely by the profit motive. They're manipulative, even toward children. And they're shallow in their relationships, laying off workers and wasting communities, incapable of remorse or empathy toward those they hurt. When breaking laws such as pollution controls appears to cost less than obeying such laws, they routinely break the laws. [...]

Comment: For more information on psychopathy, click here. See also our report "Official Culture" in America: A Natural State of Psychopathy?

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As president, George W. Bush is charged with protecting consumers from being bilked. But yesterday, the president decided to side with four major campaign contributors against 50 million American consumers in a court case that could force serious increases in phone bills all over the country.

As the New York Times reports, the president sided with four large telecommunications companies in a federal court case about consumer protections. Instead of defending government regulations that prevent price gouging on phone bills, the White House and its Solicitor General, Ted Olson, opted to drop out of the case. The decision by the president "substantially reduces the chances that the Supreme Court will accept the appeal". The decision could affect 50 million customers nationwide.

The president and the Solicitor General have a substantial interest in helping the four companies who benefit from their decision. The four companies have given the Bush-Cheney campaign more than $173,000 since 2000: Verizon has contributed more than $85,000 to the Bush campaign, BellSouth more than $44,000, U.S. West/Qwest more than $34,000, and SBC Communications more than $10,000. Meanwhile, Olson was previously a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; a law firm that represents telecommunications companies.

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Break out the bicycles

Oil is running out, but the west would rather wage wars than consider other energy sources

George Monbiot
The Guardian
Tuesday June 8, 2004

Some people have wacky ideas," the new Republican campaign ad alleges. "Like taxing gasoline more so people drive less. That's John Kerry." Cut to a shot of men in suits riding bicycles.

Sadly, the accusation is false. Kerry has been demanding that the price of oil be held down. He wants George Bush to release supplies from the strategic reserve and persuade Saudi Arabia to increase production. He has been warning the American people that if the president doesn't act soon, he and Dick Cheney will have to share a car to work. Men riding bicycles and sharing cars? Is there no end to this madness?

Like the fuel protests that rose and receded in Britain last week, these exchanges are both moronic and entirely rational. The price of oil has been rising because demand for a finite resource is growing faster than supply. Holding the price down means that this resource will be depleted more quickly, with the result that the dreadful prospect of men sharing cars and riding bicycles comes ever closer. Perhaps the presidential candidates will start campaigning next against the passage of time.

But a high oil price means recession and unemployment, which in turn means political failure for the man in charge. The attempt to blame the other man for finity will be one of the defining themes of the politics of the next few decades. [...]

To understand what is going to happen, we must first grasp the core fact of existence. Life is a struggle against entropy. Entropy can be roughly defined as the dispersal of energy. As soon as a system - whether an organism or an economy - runs out of energy, it starts to disintegrate. Its survival depends on seizing new sources of fuel.

Biological evolution is driven by the need to grab the energy for which other organisms are competing. One result is increasing complexity: a tree can take more energy from the sun than the mosses on the forest floor; a tuna can seek out its prey more actively than a jellyfish. But the cost of this complexity is an enhanced requirement for energy. The same goes for our economies.

They evolved in the presence of a source of energy that was both cheap to extract and cheap to use. There is, as yet, no substitute for it. Everything else is either more expensive or harder to use. Without cheap oil the economy would succumb to entropy.

But the age of cheap oil is over. If you doubt this, take a look at the BBC's online report yesterday of a conference run by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil. The reporter spoke to the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol. "In public, Mr Birol denied that supply would not be able to meet rising demand ... But after his speech he seemed to change his tune: 'For the time being there is no spare capacity. But we expect demand to increase by the fourth quarter by 3m barrels a day. If Saudi does not increase supply by 3m barrels a day by the end of the year we will face, how can I say this, it will be very difficult. We will have difficult times.'"

The reporter asked him whether such a growth in supply was possible, or simply wishful thinking. "'You are from the press?' Birol replied. 'This is not for the press.'" So the BBC asked the other delegates what they thought of the prospects of a 30% increase in Saudi production. "The answers were unambiguous: 'absolutely out of the question'; 'completely impossible'; and '3m barrels - never, not even 300,000'. One delegate laughed so hard he had to support himself on a table." And this was before they heard that two BBC journalists had been gunned down in Riyadh. [...]

If the complexity of our economies is impossible to sustain, our best hope is to start to dismantle them before they collapse. This isn't very likely to happen. Faced with a choice between a bang and a whimper, our governments are likely to choose the bang, waging ever more extravagant wars to keep the show on the road. Terrorists, alert to both the west's rising need and the vulnerability of the pipeline and tanker networks, will respond with their own oil wars.

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle," HG Wells wrote, "I no longer despair for the human race." It's a start, but I'd feel even more confident about our chances of survival if I saw George Bush and Dick Cheney sharing a car to work.

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Neo-Satan Mini-Mees

by Bob Wallace

I wish it was possible for someone to turn me upside down and shake out all the nonsense I still have in my head. It's been there since I was a kid. Sometimes I don't even know it's there until someone says something and I have no answer except a dumb one that was taught to me a long time ago.

The way things stand now, I'm having to remove all the silly stuff neuron by neuron, in hopes of replacing it with what I hope is the Truth (and yes, that's Truth with a capital T). I figure it'll take a long time. Like the rest of my life.

I'd say it took three years to figure this out: The worst sin of all is hubris--what the Bible calls pride. Hubris leads to splitting people into pure good and pure evil, neither of which exists, and good thing, too. Why? Because those who call themselves good (which is always "us") project evil onto others (which is always "them"). This projection is called scapegoating. Those who are scapegoated are then devalued (a fancy word meaning, "They're not people anymore"), yet at the same time they're seen as an exaggerated threat, one generally considered able to conquer the world, much like Brain from Pinky and the Brain. This makes it acceptable, indeed necessary, to murder them to remove "evil" from the world.

To quote from the fuzzy mind of George II, "they" are the "evil ones" who want to destroy us because we are "good" and they are "evil." And, of course, everyone in the world has to either be "for us or against us." That is childish, pitiful, and dangerous, which is exactly what I expect from a politician.

I am not astonished that our opponents on the other side of the world think the exact same thing about us.

That aforementioned second paragraph took about 1,000 days to figure out. That's pretty bad, I'd say. But you know what? I didn't learn it in grade school, or junior high, or college, or church. That doesn't say much for most schools or churches.

I didn't do it totally on my own, of course. No one does. There are lots of people, in the past and today, who have thought about such things. People from the Greeks to the Hebrews to English poets like John Milton to pop psychologists like M. Scott Peck to French Catholic philosophers like Rene' Girard. I've used all of them.

Mostly, I'd say, I'm just rediscovering ancient wisdom. For me, I hope, out with the bad and in with the good. Good old wine in new bottles. For the neocons, out with the good and in with the bad. Old poison in new bottles.

And, I hope, what makes wisdom, wisdom, is that it is always applicable to everyone.

Let's take those nitwitty twits known as neoconservatives. Their genealogy has been traced to the Democratic Party, to Leo Strauss, to the Jacobins of the French Revolution. (Incidentally, all three of those groups are leftist, which means the neoconservatives aren't conservative--they're leftists).

Can the neocons be traced even farther back? They sure can. They can be traced right back to the old blasphemy of "Man as God." Farther back, in the Western world, you end with the myth of Satan, whose sin was pride, who wanted to be God, and who thought murder and destruction was the way to do it.

People like Rush Limbaugh and William Kristol and Max Boot, and Paul Wolfowitz and David Frum and Donald Rumsfeld, who actually think we can invade cultures thousands of years older than ours, and by murder and mayhem, remake them into our image, are idolaters worshipping Man as God, ones who have more in common with the story of Satan than anything recognizable as "conservatism."

All of the listed men (and there are many more like them) are afflicted with hubris. Of course, none of them knows it, and wouldn't believe it if it was pointed out to them. That's the nature of hubris. Those afflicted with it never know it. Not until nemesis brings them down. Then sometimes they wake up.

All of them would be more appropriately called "neo-satans," like Hitler and Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot, all of whom wanted to remake Man and society in their images. How? Uh huh. Murder and destruction. Of course our neo-satans aren't in the same league as Stalin and Pol Pot. They're Dr. Evil Mini-Mees compared to them. Neo-Satan Mini-Mees.

Thomas Sowell mocks leftists who believe people can be social-engineered and shoveled around like gravel as "the Anointed." The Anointed (self-anointed, actually) always have a "Vision" of a better world. That's why he called one of his books, The Vision of the Anointed. The self-Anointed always want to design and implement a Brave New World, if only, darn it, Joe Six-Pack would realize just how intellectually and morally superior the Anointed are, and let them rule. Of course, Satan wanted to rule, too.

I'd say we're in a bit of pickle right now. The government in large part has been hijacked by a bunch of neo-satan Mini-Mees, who are trying their darnest to start World War III. That's not a good thing.

But, there is always hope. In the long run, hubris is always followed by nemesis. Our neo-satan Mini-Mees will collapse. There is no way around that for them. They don't know it, though, just the way they don't know that the Wrath of God, "live free, foreigners, or we murder you" mode the country is in is going to backfire on it. But they will, and it will, and soon enough.

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Australians chew mice to win holiday

Two Australian men may be prosecuted after they chewed live mice and bit off their tails as part of a pub competition to win a holiday.

The RSPCA called the incident "outrageous" and said it would seek the maximum penalty against the men.

RSPCA chief inspector Byron Hall said they could face two years in prison and fines of A$75,000 (US$52,050).

The Brisbane hotel where the contest took place condemned it and said it would not happen again.

Mr Hall said both men put mice in their mouths and bit off their tails. One of the men went on to further chew his mouse then spat it out.

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