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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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

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©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Automatonica

Glenn Becker
15/06/04

Just attempting to engage someone in a factual conversation about the curious and convenient events on 9/11, Bush War II, corporate war profiteering, Israeli Zionist brutality or the sad state of our world in general is mostly an exercise in futility.

Typically, a blank stare or a comment on your sanity, interspersed with an expletive will be the most favored choices of retort. I’ve finally come to realize that the best method in which to strike up a conversation with most folks, these days, is to give them an insincere smile, say "Hey", and just continue to walk on by. This seems to be the preferred method. But the best way to have an in depth conversation, I’ve learned, is to comment on any of the ongoing soap opera antics, and/or, short comings of a third party. Voila! The conversation will be bristling with newfound vigor. The unbridled spin of speculation will be off to the races and you’ll be challenged to find a suitable point in which to make your exit, or else you’ll find yourself being sucked into the realm of Automatonica.

Disagree with whomever you are listening to and you can be assured of top billing in the ensuing and assorted in depth conversations sure to take place in your absence. Welcome to Automatonica. The land of agree and home of the current rave. Where sincerity is replaced by pseudo nicety, truth by rhetoric and hyperbole, and your undying devotion to conform to the mentality of quasi-social norms is not only expected, but also required. Anything less, and ‘Outcast’ be thy name.

Individuality is now acceptable only by the differences of outward appearance; in fact, it is now expected by way of political correctness. Which, by and of itself, is not a bad idea. But stray too far from the currently instilled mind set of pervasive Automatonican patriotism, current fads and the new Automatonica mind set of thought, by actually becoming informed with facts, and you’ll be labeled as a conspiracy nut, just plain crazy, an unpatriotic ingrate or even a terrorist sympathizer.

For those who lived through the Vietnam War and Watergate era, some of the similarities are quite eerie to say the least. Perhaps time does travel in loops instead of a straight line. Unfortunately, freedom of thought and speech are once again considered to be a danger to society. The dissemination of facts on alternative web sites, as opposed to mainstream media sources, is actually a double-edged sword. On one edge, finding curious facts and circumstances pertaining to the reasons as to how our world has made its way to the predicament we find ourselves in, can enlighten and give us hope that the truth may be able to be heard, and subsequently, alter the dark direction in which we seem to be headed. But the other edge of the sword is that, only, those who are seeking that information will find it. The others who are too comfortable with the status quo, those who are too complacent and the rest who are more than willing to believe the officially sanctioned Automatonican view without question, will unfortunately follow the lead of those who use illusion in order to further their shadowy agenda. And not to forget, there are those that fear rocking the Automatonica boat of conformity may attract the attention of Big Brother’s eye.

The freedom to agree is safe, the freedom to disagree may just buy you a one way, and all expenses paid ticket to ‘enemy combatant’ land. Essentially, we are given two choices; fear disagreeing with the current Automatonica view or fear the ‘terrorists’. Some choice, eh? The classic manipulation ploy of despots has always been the use of instilling ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ fear tactics. When people allow themselves to be putty in the hands of their leaders, by not thinking for themselves, they allow future events to be molded into the shape of those who assuredly only have their own best interests in mind. So, welcome to Automatonica. Today the nation, tomorrow the world. Oh, by the way, "Have a nice day".

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U.S. Trucks Carrying Radioactive Materials Intercepted In Iraq-Kuwait Border

TEHRAN (MNA) -– The UAE-based daily Al-Khaleej reported on Monday that Kuwaiti tariff officials have intercepted a truck loaded with radioactive materials in the Iraq-Kuwait border.

The daily quoted informed sources as saying that the radioactive control team from Kuwait’s Health Ministry discovered that one of the trucks belonging to the U.S.-led coalition forces was carrying heavy radioactive materials trucks. The trucks were headed for Iraq.

The daily said that such materials could only enter a country when there is permission from related bodies while the materials were secretly being carried to Iraq.

Security forces stressed that no contamination had been caused by the material.

The MNA reported for the first time the coalition forces' suspicious transfer of WMD parts from Kuwait to Southern Iraq by trucks.

The possible presence of WMD in Iraq and its likely nuclear programs were the main U.S. pretext for attacking the country.

However, their failure to find weapons of mass destruction in the country and the continuing turmoil in Iraq questioned the legitimacy of the U.S. war against Iraq and their presence in the country.

Comment: The legitimacy of the war in Iraq may soon be a thing of the past, just so long as the US secret OPs boys and girls can get the WMD smuggled in underneath the, by now, defunct radar of the American and world public. Simple eh?

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America's Record Of Faking Evidence

Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity

The U.S. has a long history of fabricating evidence to justify foreign adventures. Faked evidence was a hallmark of post-World War II U.S. covert operations in Latin America. In 1954, for example, it was instrumental in overthrowing the Arbenz government in Guatemala. Arbenz, who was suspected of having Communist leanings, had tried to make the United Fruit Company comply with Guatemalan law. At President Dwight D. Eisenhower s direction, the CIA organized and armed a force of malcontent Guatemalans living in Nicaragua to invade their home country. The invasion was explained and justified when a cache of Soviet-made weapons planted by the CIA was discovered on Nicaragua's Atlantic coast. Washington alleged that the weapons were intended to support an attempt by Arbenz to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.

One of the more egregious and embarrassing uses of fake material evidence occurred on the eve of the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, when Alabama National Guard B-26 bombers attacked a Cuban Air Force base in Havana. When Cuba's UN ambassador protested, US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson (himself misinformed by the White House) insisted that the attacking planes were those of defecting Cuban Air Force pilots. Two of the aircraft were shot down in Cuba, however, and others were forced to land in Miami where they could be examined. When it became clear that the planes were not Cuban, Washington s hand was shown and Stevenson was in high dudgeon.

The war in Vietnam is replete with examples of fabrication and/or misrepresentation of intelligence to justify U.S. government policies and actions. The best-known case, of course, is the infamous Tonkin Gulf incident the one that did not happen but was used by President Lyndon Johnson to strong-arm Congress into giving him carte blanche for the war. Adding insult to injury, CIA current intelligence analysts were forbidden to report accurately on what had happened (and not happened) in the Tonkin Gulf in their daily publication the next morning, on grounds that the President had already decided to use the non-incident to justify launching the air war that very day. The analysts were aghast when their seniors explained that they had decided that they did not want to wear out their welcome at the White House.

With William Casey at the helm of the CIA during the Reagan presidency, the planting of evidence to demonstrate that opponents of governments in Central America were sponsored by the USSR reached new heights or depths. The following are representative examples:

(a) In January 1981 four dugout canoes were discovered on a Salvadoran beach. The U.S. claimed that the boats had carried 100 armed Sandinista guerrillas from Nicaragua to support leftist insurgents in El Salvador. Neither weapons nor Nicaraguans traceable to the boats were ever found, but Washington drew attention to the fact that the wood from which the boats were made was not native to El Salvador.

(b) In February 1981, the State Department issued a sensational white paper based on alleged Salvadoran rebel documents. Authored by a young, eager-to-please Foreign Service officer named John Glassman, the paper depicted damning links between the insurgents, Nicaragua, Cuba, and the Soviet Union. A smoking gun. Unfortunately for Glassman and the Reagan administration, Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Kwitny got access to the same documents and found little resemblance to what was contained in Glassman's paper. Glassman admitted to Kwitny that he had made up quotes and guessed at figures for the Soviet weapons supposedly coming to the Salvadoran insurgents.

(c) Certainly among the most extraordinary attempts to plant evidence was the Barry Seal affair, a complicated operation designed to incriminate the Nicaraguan Sandinista government for international drug trafficking. The operation began in 1982, when CIA Director Casey created the position of National Intelligence Officer for Narcotics. Casey's handpicked NIO wasted no time telling representatives of other agencies that high priority was to be given to finding evidence linking both Castro and the Sandinistas to the burgeoning cocaine trade.

Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Agency officers protested that this might be counterproductive since Cuba was the most cooperative government in the Caribbean in the fight against drugs and there was no evidence showing that the Nicaraguan government played any significant role. Never mind, said the NIO, the task was to put black hats on our enemies.

In 1986 Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who had trained Nicaraguan Contra pilots in the early eighties, was facing a long sentence after a federal drug conviction in Florida. Seal made his way to the White House's National Security Council to make the following proposition to officials there. He would fly his own plane to Colombia and take delivery of cocaine. He would then make an emergency landing in Nicaragua and make it appear that Sandinista officials were aiding him in drug trafficking. Seal made it clear that he would expect help with his legal problems.

The Reagan White House jumped at the offer. Seal's plane was flown to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where it was fitted with secret cameras to enable Seal to photograph Nicaraguan officials in the act of assisting him with the boxes of cocaine.

The operation went as planned. Seal flew to Colombia and then to Nicaragua where he landed at a commercial airfield. There he was met by a Nicaraguan named Federico Vaughan, who helped with the offloading and reloading of boxes of cocaine and was duly photographed not very well, it turned out, because the special cameras malfunctioned. Though blurred and grainy, the photos were delivered to the White House, and a triumphant Ronald Reagan went on national TV to show that the Sandinistas were not only Communists but also criminals intent on addicting America s youth.

Again, the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Kwitny played the role of skunk at the picnic, pointing out substantial flaws in the concocted story. Vaughan, who according to the script was an assistant to Nicaraguan Interior Minister Tomas Borge, was shown not to be what he claimed. Indeed, congressional investigators found that the telephone number called by Seal to contact Vaughn belonged to the U.S. embassy in Managua. It was yet another fiasco, and Seal paid for it with his life. His Colombian drug suppliers were not amused when the Reagan administration identified him publicly as a US undercover agent. As he awaited trial on other narcotics charges in Louisiana, Seal was ambushed and killed by four gunmen who left his body riddled with 140 bullets.

Fabricated evidence also played an important role in the first President Bush's attempt to secure congressional and UN approval for the 1991 Gulf War.

(a) Few will forget the heart-rending testimony before a congressional committee by the sobbing 15 year-old Kuwaiti girl called Nayirah on October 10, 1990. No congressperson, no journalist took the trouble to probe the identity of Nayirah, who was said to be an escapee from Kuwait but was later revealed to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington. With consummate skill, the story had been manufactured out of whole cloth and the 15 year-old coached by the PR firm Hill & Knowlton, which has a rich history of being imbedded in Republican administrations. Similar unsubstantiated yarns made their debut several weeks later at the UN, where a team of seven witnesses, also coached by Hill & Knowlton, testified about atrocities in Iraq. (It was later learned that the seven had used false names.) And in an unprecedented move, the UN Security Council allowed the U.S. to show a video created by Hill & Knowlton.

All to good effect. The PR campaign had the desired impact, and Congress voted to authorize the use of force against Iraq on January 12, 1991. (The UN did so on November 29, 1990.) Nayirah's true identity did not become known until two years later.

Interestingly, the General Manager of Hill & Knowlton's Washington, DC office at the time was a woman named Victoria Clarke. She turned out to be less successful in her next job, as Press Secretary for the re-election campaign of President George Bush in 1992. But she is now back in her element as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

There was a corollary fabrication that proved equally effective in garnering support in Congress for the war resolution in 1991. The White House claimed there were satellite photos showing Iraqi tanks and troops massing on the borders of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, threatening to invade Saudi Arabia. This fueled the campaign for war and frightened the Saudis into agreeing to cooperate fully with U.S. military forces.

On September 11, 1990, President George H. W. Bush, addressing a joint session of Congress, claimed 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks have poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia. But an enterprising journalist, Jean Heller, reported in the St. Petersburg Times on January 6, 1991 (a bare ten days before the Gulf War began) that commercial satellite photos taken on September 11, the day the president spoke, showed no sign of a massive buildup of Iraqi forces in Kuwait. When the Pentagon was asked to provide evidence to support the president's claim, it refused to do so and continues to refuse to this day.

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Flashback: A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies

Saturday, September 20, 2003.

All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity.

Originally from Harper's Magazine, September 2003. By Sam Smith.

Once again, we were defending both ourselves and the safety and survival of civilization itself. September 11 signaled the arrival of an entirely different era. We faced perils we had never thought about, perils we had never seen before. For decades, terrorists had waged war against this country. Now, under the leadership of President Bush, America would wage war against them. It was a struggle between good and it was a struggle between evil.

It was absolutely clear that the number-one threat facing America was from Saddam Hussein. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda had high-level contacts that went back a decade. We learned that Iraq had trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and deadly gases. The regime had long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations. Iraq and Al Qaeda had discussed safe-haven opportunities in Iraq. Iraqi officials denied accusations of ties with Al Qaeda. These denials simply were not credible. You couldn't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talked about the war on terror.

The fundamental question was, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer was, absolutely. His regime had large, unaccounted-for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons--including VX, sarin, cyclosarin, and mustard gas, anthrax, botulism, and possibly smallpox. Our conservative estimate was that Iraq then had a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent. That was enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets. We had sources that told us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons--the very weapons the dictator told the world he did not have. And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as forty-five minutes after the orders were given. There could be no doubt that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.

Iraq possessed ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles--far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations. We also discovered through intelligence that Iraq had a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We were concerned that Iraq was exploring ways of using UAVs for missions targeting the United States.

* * *

Saddam Hussein was determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. We knew he'd been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believed he had, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. The British government learned that Saddam Hussein had recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources told us that he had attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear-weapons production. When the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied-finally denied access, a report came out of the [International Atomic Energy Agency] that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I didn't know what more evidence we needed.

Facing clear evidence of peril, we could not wait for the final proof that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. The Iraqi dictator could not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. Inspections would not work. We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. The burden was on those people who thought he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they were.

We waged a war to save civilization itself. We did not seek it, but we fought it, and we prevailed. We fought them and imposed our will on them and we captured or, if necessary, killed them until we had imposed law and order. The Iraqi people were well on their way to freedom. The scenes of free Iraqis celebrating in the streets, riding American tanks, tearing down the statues of Saddam Hussein in the center of Baghdad were breathtaking. Watching them, one could not help but think of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

It was entirely possible that in Iraq you had the most pro-American population that could be found anywhere in the Arab world. If you were looking for a historical analogy, it was probably closer to post-liberation France. We had the overwhelming support of the Iraqi people. Once we won, we got great support from everywhere.

The people of Iraq knew that every effort was made to spare innocent life, and to help Iraq recover from three decades of totalitarian rule. And plans were in place to provide Iraqis with massive amounts of food, as well as medicine and other essential supplies. The U.S. devoted unprecedented attention to humanitarian relief and the prevention of excessive damage to infrastructure and to unnecessary casualties.

The United States approached its postwar work with a two-part resolve: a commitment to stay and a commitment to leave. The United States had no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq's new government. That choice belonged to the Iraqi people. We have never been a colonial power. We do not leave behind occupying armies. We leave behind constitutions and parliaments. We don't take our force and go around the world and try to take other people's real estate or other people's resources, their oil. We never have and we never will.

The United States was not interested in the oil in that region. We were intent on ensuring that Iraq's oil resources remained under national Iraqi control, with the proceeds made available to support Iraqis in all parts of the country. The oil fields belonged to the people of Iraq, the government of Iraq, all of Iraq. We estimated that the potential income to the Iraqi people as a result of their oil could be somewhere in the $20 [billion] to $30 billion a year [range], and obviously, that would be money that would be used for their well-being. In other words, all of Iraq's oil belonged to all the people of Iraq.

* * *

We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. And we found more weapons as time went on. I never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country. But for those who said we hadn't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they were wrong, we found them. We knew where they were.

We changed the regime of Iraq for the good of the Iraqi people. We didn't want to occupy Iraq. War is a terrible thing. We've tried every other means to achieve objectives without a war because we understood what the price of a war can be and what it is. We sought peace. We strove for peace. Nobody, but nobody, was more reluctant to go to war than President Bush.

It is not right to assume that any current problems in Iraq can be attributed to poor planning. The number of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region dropped as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq. There is a lot of revisionist history now going on, but one thing is certain--he is no longer a threat to the free world, and the people of Iraq are free. There's no doubt in my mind when it's all said and done, the facts will show the world the truth. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.

According to intelligence officials, the "asset" who called in the early strike against Saddam Hussein's hideout was killed in the attack:

NY Times 13 June

A Central Intelligence Agency officer reported, based primarily on information provided by satellite telephone from an Iraqi source, that Mr. Hussein was in an underground bunker at the site. That prompted President Bush to accelerate the timetable for the beginning of the war, giving the go-ahead to strikes by precision-guided bombs and cruise missiles, senior intelligence officials said.

But in an interview last summer, Lt. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, of the Air Force, who directed the air campaign during the invasion, acknowledged that inspections after the war had concluded that no such bunker existed. Various internal reviews by the military and the C.I.A. have still not resolved the question of whether Mr. Hussein was at the location at all, according to senior military and intelligence officials, although the C.I.A. maintains that he was probably at Dora Farms.

One possibility, a senior intelligence official and a senior military officer said, is that Mr. Hussein was above ground in one of the houses that were not destroyed in the raid.

In the raid, the Air Force primarily used deep-penetrating munitions because of their ability to destroy an underground bunker. The person who was the primary source of the information about the bunker was killed in the raid, according to intelligence officials, but had described it using an Arabic word, manzul, that could have been translated either as place of refuge or as bunker.

However Bush told Tom Brokaw

Q That human intelligence that we had on the ground, did you hear back from him, I presume?

THE PRESIDENT: We did.

Q And did he --

THE PRESIDENT: He felt like we got Saddam.

Q He did?

THE PRESIDENT: He felt like that, yes. And we're trying, of course, to verify. And before there's any declaration, of course, there will be a lot of evidence.

Q Did you see that famous television video of Saddam the next day, in the glasses, reading out from the notepad and so on?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, yes. I was amused by that, almost as amused by that as I was his PR man -- it was one of the classics -- probably helping NBC Saturday Night Live out mightily, but through his -- it was just unbelievable what he was saying.
But, you know, the people that wonder if Saddam Hussein is dead or not, there's some evidence that says, suggests he might be. We would never make that declaration until we were more certain. But the person that helped direct the attacks believes that Saddam, at the very minimum, was severely wounded.

Q That night?

THE PRESIDENT: That night, yes.

... and later...

Q I don't want you to give up sources and methods, but the guy who called in the first time -- still with us?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, he is. He is with us. Thank God. A brave soul.

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Iraq PM: US will hand over Saddam

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says the US-led coalition will soon hand over high-profile detainees - including Saddam Hussein - to Iraqi custody.

"The handover will take place within the next two weeks," Mr Allawi told Arabic television station al-Jazeera.

A senior US official would only say Washington was "receptive" to Iraqi ideas about their former leader's fate.

Earlier, the Red Cross said Iraqi prisoners must be released or charged ahead of the handover on 30 June.

However, the US says up to 5,000 prisoners deemed a threat to the coalition will remain in its custody. It is not clear if this includes Saddam Hussein.

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Commander a 'scapegoat' for Abu Ghraib

George Wright
Tuesday June 15, 2004

The former US commander of the prison at the centre of the Iraq abuse scandal today claimed she was being made a "scapegoat" for the abuses committed there.

Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib prison, said in a radio interview that she had no control over the section of the jail where the abuses are believed to have taken place.

She was suspended from command of the 800th Military Police Brigade, following an army investigation, for failing to monitor operations at the jail closely enough and for failing to enforce discipline among her staff.

But today, speaking on the BBC's On the Ropes programme, Gen Karpinski repeated her assertion that she knew nothing about the abuse and sexual humiliation of prisoners.

"Having lived through the operations in Iraq, having briefed just about everybody in there in a senior leadership position, having been sent out to conduct press conferences and escort congressional delegations because of the extent of my knowledge and responsibilities and then to have somebody, very late in the game, just question my leadership abilities and other people follow suit - I believe I was a convenient scapegoat," she said.

She said she had no reason to visit the cell blocks where the detainees were photographed being abused and humiliated by prison guards, as they were run by US military intelligence. She was not even aware of a Red Cross inspection that reported on the abuses.

According to Gen Karpinski, the officers who took over part of the jail proceeded to "Gitmoize" the interrogation of prisoners - in other words, to model it on the techniques used at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp.

She said: "The interrogation operation was directed, it was under a separate command and there was no reason for me to go out to look at Abu Ghraib at cell block 1a or 1b or visit the interrogation facilities."

She also suggested that such practices were approved at a high level in the military, because, she claimed, on one occasion a senior officer advised her that detainees should be treated "like dogs".

She said the senior officer told her prisoners "are like dogs and if you allow them to believe at any point that they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them".

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Rumsfeld says torture not allowed

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has again insisted that Washington is adhering to the Geneva Conventions and US laws prohibiting torture.

His remarks follow recent leaks of internal memos containing arguments that in certain cases the president could override prohibitions on torture.

Mr Rumsfeld said there was no doubt either in his or President Bush's mind about the definition of torture.

[...] Mr Rumsfeld sought to dispel fears that the US military was regularly using methods of torture.

"There is no wiggle room in the president's mind or my mind about torture," he said.

"That is not something that's permitted under the Geneva Convention or the laws of the United States.

"That is not to say that somebody else couldn't characterise something in a way that would fit what I described," he added.

He noted that some have described the indefinite detention of suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a form of mental torture.

"Therefore, that word is used by some people in a way that is fair from their standpoint, but doesn't fit a dictionary definition of the word that one would normally accept," Mr Rumsfeld said.

Comment: Torture is what "they" do to "us." Right, Don?

But, rather than thinking in terms of "dictionary" definitions, how about looking at the definition in the Geneva Convention, which is the treaty binding upon the signatories, including the US.

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Tout Torture, Get Promoted

Defending cruelty can be a career booster in Bush's administration.

By Robert Scheer
Los Angeles Times
June 15, 2004

What a revelation to learn that the Justice Department lawyer who wrote the infamous memo in effect defending torture is now a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge. It tells you all you need to know about the sort of conservative to whom George W. Bush is turning in his attempt to pack the federal courts.

Conservatives once were identified with protecting the rights of the individual against the unbridled power of government, but this is not your grandfather's conservatism. The current brand running things in D.C. holds that the commander in chief is above all law and that the ends always justify the means. This has paved the way for the increasingly well-documented and systematic use of torture in an ad hoc gulag archipelago for those detained anywhere in the world under the overly broad rubric of the "war on terror."

Those still clinging to the hopeful notion that photographic evidence of beatings, dead detainees, sexual degradation and threats of electric shock were all the work of a few twisted reservists aren't reading the newspapers. Press accounts are following the paper trail up the chain of command to a heated and lengthy debate inside the White House about how much cruelty constitutes torture.

On Sunday, the Washington Post published on its website an internal White House memo from Aug. 1, 2002, signed by then-Assistant Atty. Gen. Jay S. Bybee, which argued darkly that torturing Al Qaeda captives "may be justified" and that international laws against torture "may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" conducted under President Bush. The memo then continued for 50 pages to make the case for the use of torture.

Comment: Go ahead and read that last line again, just for good measure. The good old US of A - that blinding light of freedom and democracy - has created a legal basis for torture. It doesn't matter how you dress it up - it's still torture.

Was it as a reward for such bold legal thinking that only months later Bybee was appointed to one of the top judicial benches in the country? Perhaps he was anointed for his law journal articles bashing Roe vs. Wade and legal protection for homosexuals, or for his innovative attack on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for the popular election of U.S. senators. But it's hard to shake the notion that his memo to Counsel to the President Alberto Gonzales established Bybee's hard-line credentials for an administration that has no use for moderation in any form.

This president has turned his war on terror into an excuse for undermining due process and bypassing Congress. For Bybee and his ideologue cohorts, however, the American president is now more akin to a king, and legal or moral restraints are simply problems that can be overcome later, if anybody bothers to question the tactics: "Finally, even if an interrogation method might violate Section 2340A [of the U.S. Torture Convention passed in 1994], necessity or self-defense could provide justification that would eliminate any criminal liability."

In fact, though, this was an argument of last resort for Bybee, whose definition of torture "covers only extreme acts … where the pain is physical, it must be of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure…. Because the acts inflicting torture are extreme, there is [a] significant range of acts that, though they might constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, fail to rise to the level of torture."

Bybee's generous standard should bring comfort to the totalitarian governments that find the brutal treatment of prisoners a handy tool in retaining power or fighting wars. Even Saddam Hussein, who always faced the threat of assassination and terrorism from foreign and domestic rivals, can now offer in his defense Bybee's memo that his actions were justifiable, on the grounds of "necessity or self-defense."

When confronted by the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee with the content of Bybee's torture defense, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft responded that the memo did not guide the administration. Yet, the Bybee memo was clearly the basis for the working group report on detainee interrogations presented to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld a year later. And if Bybee's work was rejected as reprehensible, why was he rewarded — with Ashcroft's deepest blessings — with a lifetime appointment on the judicial bench only one level below the Supreme Court?

Frighteningly, the Bybee memo is not some oddball exercise in moral relativism but instead provides the most coherent explanation of how this administration came to believe that to assure freedom and security at home and abroad, it should ape the tactics of brutal dictators.

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Israel’s use of torture must be exposed

By: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi

The pictures of American soldiers torturing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq have shocked the world. To the Palestinian people however, these photographs of hooded or naked figures come as no surprise. For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have served time in Israeli prisons, the pictures only bring back memories of their own torture.

In many cases, the treatment of the Iraqis in Abu Ghraib bear striking similarities to Israeli methods of torture. Accusations are now circling in the world’s press that Israeli security officers have actually assisted in training private US security contractors being sent to Iraq.

Regardless of whether there is any truth to these allegations, the world must recognize that torture is commonplace in Israel. It is not enough to condemn the actions of these American soldiers while ignoring the systematic human rights abuses imposed on the Palestinian people.

Like the United States, Israel lays claim to the highest moral standards, yet it is apparent that there are elements within the Israeli armed forces and indeed government for whom torture is a necessary and acceptable weapon. The two nations’ refusal to accept the terms of to the International Criminal Court can only enhance the worldwide suspicion that these two countries wish to legitimize the torture of prisoners without ever being held to account by those they abuse.

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Israel drops Sharon bribery case

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will not face charges over his role in an alleged bribery scandal, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz has announced.
Officials had been probing claims that Mr Sharon illegally received large sums from a property developer, but Mr Mazuz said there was insufficient evidence.

He reportedly telephoned the prime minister before the announcement, and Mr Sharon thanked him.

The charges stemmed from what became known as the Greek Island affair.

"I have come to the decision that the case should be closed for lack of evidence," Mr Mazuz told reporters.

He said that Mr Sharon would face no charges and that he had closed the dossier on the affair, which dates back to the late 1990s.

An investigation was launched after Chief Prosecutor Edna Arbel recommended charges at the end of March.

Family cleared

Mr Sharon's son, Gilad, was said to have accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Israeli businessman David Appel, who wanted to develop a Greek island into a tourist resort.

The project was never completed but Mr Sharon, who was foreign minister at the time, was suspected of having used his position to try to win the Greek government's approval for the plan.

No charges will be pressed against Gilad Sharon, either, the attorney general said.

Israeli political commentators had said the prime minister would have little choice but to step down were he charged over the scandal.

Mr Appel has already been indicted in the investigation, but commentators say the charges are likely to be dropped.

Leftist opposition politicians have vowed to challenge the decision before Israel's High Court and Mr Sharon could also face indictment in two other corruption investigations in which he has denied breaking any laws.

Comment: My! What a surprise, but then what did anyone expect? When Sharon can easily get away with many years of butchering innocent civilians, what's a little money laundering and drug smuggling?

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Amos Oz: The collaborator of Amos Gilad from within the Zionist Left

By: Yehudith Harel

There is a strong public call for an examination of the allegations that the head of Military Intelligence's research division, Amos Gilad, had distorted evaluations regarding Arafat's intentions back in 2000 and the reasons for the intifada's eruption after the collapse of the CD2 talks. The allegations were made by Military Intelligence chief Amos Malka in an interview in Haaretz on Friday and supported by another senior intelligence official. ( Akiva Eldar, Haaretz11 .6. 2004Yoav Shtern13 .6. 2004)

What should mainly worry us as Peace and anti-occupation activists is not how come and why Amos Gilad fabricated and circulated a baseless and misleading conception, thus serving his own political biases and that of his superiors. No doubt this is a most important issue and even more so the way it fatally impacted decision making in Israel in the critical days of the late Summer and Fall of the year2000 , and ever since. However, these matters should be dealt with by formal institutions in the Knesset, the media and elsewhere.

What must worry us, the bruised "leftover" of the so called "Peace Camp" - is HOW and WHY did such a false and deliberate "conception" win over so instantly the leadership of the Zionist Left - both parliamentary and non parliamentary, the left of Labor than in the government and Meretz, as well as Peace Now. How did the Intellectuals of the Zionist left, followed by so many other political leaders and major peace activists turn themselves so eagerly into cheap propagandists of Barak and his military establishment? How come these people accepted such a conception that dealt an instant death blow to the vision of Peace, without exercising any independent thinking or critical attitude?

What happened to their mythological analytical and critical minds? What happened to the well established channels of communication with their years long Palestinian partners, of which they were so proud of? Couldn't they check and double check the information they were fed with from the military establishment and from other Barak propagandists? Where were Gov. Ministers Beilin, Ben Ami, Sarid and Tamir, and the Peace Now leadership ( Aviad, Golan, Goldblum, Reshef, Jacobson et. all) when Gilad and Barak were feeding them with the "no partner" myth, and with the most important 'revelation' that Arafat and the Palestinian leadership were never genuinely committed to OSLO and to a TSS? Where were all the intellectuals of Peace Now, who eventfully so eagerly supported Barak and his "No Partner" myth in the fatal elections of 2001?

These are the questions we have to answer before any of us can ever again trust these people as political leaders or "sources of intellectual inspiration", who can lead us towards a just Peace.

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9/11 Commission Set for Final Hearings

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 15, 7:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Relatives of Sept. 11 victims suspect government and military leaders were too lethargic during critical moments of the catastrophe and said Monday they hope the panel reviewing the attacks will find out the truth.

The Sept. 11 commission holds its 12th and last hearing Wednesday and Thursday. Its focus: the genesis of the plot from the perspective of the hijackers, and the national emergency response by the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. air defenses on the day of the attacks.

"I want to see a clear timeline. What time did the FAA officially know a hijacking was taking place? What time did the president understand this was a hijacking? Why was there a delay in scrambling fighter jets?" said Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband, Alan, was killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center.

"I'm hoping at the end of this two-day hearing, we will have a picture of the defensive posture on Sept. 11," she said.

Comment: Don't hold your breath...

Some commissioners have said this week's hearings could be among the panel's most politically sensitive because they will explore communication gaps and decision-making by the nation's top leaders on the day of the 2001 attacks. [...]

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US urges Americans to leave Saudi Arabia

www.chinaview.cn 2004-06-15 08:45:49

WASHINGTON, June 14 (Xinhuanet) -- The US government reiterated on Monday its call for Americans in Saudi Arabia to leave the gulf country for safety.

"We have strongly urged them to depart ever since April 15th," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at a briefing after an American citizen was found missing in Saudi Arabia since the evening of June 12.

Boucher said the American side is in close touch with Saudi authorities investigating "the apparent kidnapping".

Militants, belonging to the terror organization al-Qaeda led by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, announced that it captured US engineer Paul Johnson, 49, on Saturday.

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Orbit Comet Exercises Taking Place At Fort Bragg

POSTED: 5:24 pm EDT June 14, 2004

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- For the next few days, Fort Bragg soldiers are simulating a terrorist attack.

The soldiers are conducting Operation Orbit Comet, an exercise that happens twice a year.

There will be a lot of military and civilian emergency workers on post and tighter security at checkpoints, so you are advised to stay off post if possible.

Orbit Comet runs through Wednesday.

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Israeli "Member of al-Qaeda" Arrested in Philippines

By ARIS ILAGAN

Philippine National Police (PNP) operatives apprehended an Israeli suspected to be a member of the al-Qaeda terror network in in Baguio City on June 7.

Arrested was Mera Doutvsky.

Reports reaching the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, disclosed that Mera was nabbed at about 2 p.m., by joint elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit and the Bureau of Immigration at the vicinity of the Department of Social Welfare Development in Baguio City.

Authorities also said that Doutvsky was also found to be an undocumented and overstaying alien.

Police said the information they received from the Bureau of Immigration revealed that Doutvsky is asuspected member of the al-Qaeda terrorist cell, an information still unconfirmed by other intelligence agencies.

Doutvsky was turned over to the office of Alipio Fernandez Jr., BI commissioner, in Manila for proper disposition.

Last week, authorities reportedly prevented a possible terror attack coinciding with the 106th celebration of Independence Day.

Explosive materials plenty enough to sink a passenger shipwere seized by authorities from arrested terrorist suspect Alejandro Aguirre.

The explosives were seized before these could be shipped to Zamboanga City.

The arrest came following an announcement by the Australian government that terrorists have entered Indonesia from the Philippines in recent weeks to plan a new strategy on assassinating diplomats in lieu of bombing western targets.

The suspect was held on Thursday at Pier 18, North Harbor, Manila allegedly trying to ship seven boxes of explosives, including blasting caps and rolls of detonating cord and fuses

Comment: So there you have it, al-Qaeda, Israelis and bogus terrorist attacks, all one big happy family... but....

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B.I. clarifies Israeli detainee not a terror suspect

The Bureau of Immigration on Monday clarified that the Israeli woman arrested in Baguio City last week is not a member of the al-Qaeda terror group but is being held for violations of immigration laws.

He said the Israeli will undergo deportation proceedings for violating the country’s immigration law and not her alleged links to the al-Qaeda.

“We are deporting her for being an undocumented and overstaying alien,” Fernandez said, adding that the Israeli is a public charge as she had no means to support her stay in the country.

The bureau reported that the Israeli had been under the care of the DSWD for quite some time as she had become financially distressed.

Doutvsky was not arrested in a joint operation by the police and immigration agents as reported.

Comment: So possession of explosives and attempting to ship them internationally is no longer a "terrorist" offence, but rather an immigration offence, just as long as you are an Israeli. Are we beginning to notice a pattern here with the many recent stories of Israelis caught red handed, and subsequently being charged only for immigration violation and then released?... Let's hope that Americans do not have to wait until they have conclusive "explosive" proof that the real terror threat comes from Israeli Mossad agents on American soil....

Meanwhile, Ashcroft is continuing to promote racial stereotyping while fooling the American public into looking in the wrong direction....

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Man held in plot to bomb Ohio mall: Somali had ties to Al Qaeda terror group, U.S. says

CURT ANDERSON
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON—A Somali man has been charged with plotting to bomb an Ohio shopping mall, pursuing the type of vulnerable target in the U.S. heartland officials have been warning that terrorists want to strike.

The four-count indictment returned by a grand jury in Columbus, Ohio, alleges Nuradin Abdi conspired with Iyman Faris — a convicted Al Qaeda operative who sought to sabotage the Brooklyn Bridge — and others to detonate explosives at an unidentified mall in the Columbus area.

Abdi, 32, was arrested at his Columbus apartment by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Nov. 28, the day after Thanksgiving when malls across America were crowded with shoppers. Abdi, who operated a small cellphone business, had been under surveillance for months and initially was held on immigration violations, authorities said.

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Framed as a "Terrorist" for Taking a Picture

When he took a photograph of the autumn foliage in New York, Ansar Mahmood had no idea he would be accused of plotting a terrorist atrocity. From his prison cell, the former pizza delivery man tells David Usborne why he won't stop fighting for freedom

15 June 2004

[...] Everything was right with Mahmood's world until one bright day in October 2001. That was when he started a new and most unwelcome journey that today has still not come to an end. Fortunately, however, his travails have not been ignored. The City of Hudson, a picturesque town about 100 miles north of New York City where he was living and doing his pizza rounds, has many liberal-minded and politically-aware residents who have rallied to his cause. More recently, seven members of the US Senate, including Hillary Clinton, have joined the fight on his behalf.

Today, Mahmood finds that he has become the single most powerful symbol of something that went terribly awry inside the United States in the months after the terror attacks of 11 September 2001. In an atmosphere of paranoia, the country rounded up almost 800 foreign-born nationals - most of them from the Middle East and Pakistan - and interrogated them on the very flimsiest of suspicions that they may have had ties to terrorists. Mahmood was one of those apprehended.

On that autumn day, Mahmood was mesmerised by the colours of the season. On his pizza round he paused whenever he could to take pictures, planning to send them home to his family in Punjab. He had just delivered to a home on Rossman Avenue in Hudson, a street offering the best views anywhere in town, when his customer suggested he walk further up the hill to take more pictures. There, he was told, the vista across the river to the Catskill Mountains to the west was superb. As, indeed, it is.

Mahmood took the advice. At the end of the avenue he saw some official looking buildings behind a chain-link fence. He spotted a security guard and asked if he would take a snap of him with the mountains in the background. What he did not know was that the picture would also take in some of the facility. It was Hudson's main water treatment plant and he had just made the worst mistake of his life.

Soon after Mahmood returned to his modest apartment the police arrived, tipped off by the security guard. These were the days when America, barely recovered from the first attacks, was in the thrall of anthrax scares across the country. Mahmood was whisked to Hudson's police station and interrogated about his visit to the water plant. What was he doing? What was his connection to September 11?

No terror charges were ever filed against Mahmood. But a search of his apartment revealed that he had helped out a local Pakistani couple who had overstayed their visas. Mahmood had co-signed a lease on their apartment and registered their car in his name. He has maintained he did not know that the couple, close friends of his, were in the US illegally. But, on the advice of a court-appointed lawyer, he pleaded guilty to the charges and in January 2002 was sentenced to time served and five years' probation. There, at least, the nightmare might have ended. But it didn't. The crime he had pleaded guilty to automatically required his further incarceration and eventual deportation. He was sent to a federal penitentiary just outside Buffalo - about 300 miles from Hudson - to await his fate. And that is where he remains today, unable to continue with his life, either here or in Pakistan. What will happen, he does not know. He just wishes that he hadn't had his camera with him that day. [...]

A coup for the committee was persuading the seven US senators to write a letter earlier this year to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, pleading with him to intervene. The senators, who included Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, cited a report released by the Justice Department's own Inspector General which excoriated the government for its round-up of foreign nationals in the wake of September 11, large numbers of whom were summarily deported. The senators noted that the report said "it is unlikely that most, if not all, of the individuals arrested would have been pursued" had it not been for September 11. It went on to say that "some appear to have been arrested more by virtue of chance encounters" than by virtue of any hard evidence of terrorist associations.

The letter surely helped. "That was a big effort - it only took about a year," laughed Susan Davies, the main force behind the committee's efforts. But despite all the hard work and the months of frustration, Davies has remained motivated by her sense of outrage over what happened to Ansar Mahmood.

"It's horrifying to think that we could live in a country that first of all would be so blatantly racist to pick people up because of what they look like," she said. "It's a horrible path for us to be going down."

Comment: Indeed. Sooner or later, US citizens themselves will feel the effects of the Patriot Act - after all, it was with them in mind that it was originally created...

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Flashback: Israelis Plot to Create Fake Al-Qaeda Cell in Gaza

December 08 2002

"Over the past nine months, we’ve been investigating eight cases in which Israeli intelligence posing as Al-Qaeda operatives recruited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip .."

GAZA CITY - Palestinian security forces accused Israeli intelligence agents Saturday, December 7, of trying to set up a mock Al-Qaeda cell in the Gaza Strip following the Jewish state’s accusations Osama bin Laden’s network was active in the fenced-in coastal area.

The Gaza Strip’s head of preventive security, Colonel Rashid Abu Shbak, told journalists that Israeli agents, posing as operatives of Bin Laden’s network, recruited Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

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WHILE REAGAN NAPPED: RONNIE, OSAMA AND THE CHIN DEFENSE

Monday, June 14, 2004
by Greg Palast

Vinnie the Chin had a great alibi. The New York mob capo shuffled down the street in his bathrobe, unshaved, drooling out the side of his mouth. When he got busted, he pleaded he was too gone-in-the-head to know about the Cosa Nostra running rackets from his candy shop.

Ronald Reagan out-Chinned the Chin. When caught paying ransom to Khomeini and his Hizbollah terrorists, Reagan did his aw-shucks I'm just a ga-ga grandpa routine, "I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart tells me that's true, but the facts tell me it is not." Oh, OK then.

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Congressman Raises New Questions on Cheney

Waxman Raises New Questions on Cheney

As the government prepared for war in Iraq in the fall of 2002, a senior political appointee in the Defense Department chose oil services giant Halliburton Co. to secretly plan how to repair Iraqi oil fields, and then briefed Vice President Cheney's chief of staff and other White House officials about the sole-source contract before it was granted.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said the new details about the $1.8 million contract, disclosed last week in a Pentagon briefing for congressional staff members, raise new questions about whether the vice president or his office played any role in decisions to give what became billions of dollars worth of government business to Halliburton, where Cheney was chief executive from 1995 to 2000.

Cheney has said neither he nor his office influenced decisions to give contracts to Halliburton.

In a letter to Cheney yesterday, Waxman said the circumstances "appear to contradict your assertions that you were not informed about the Halliburton contracts."

"They also seem to contradict the Administration's repeated assertions that political appointees were not involved in the award of contracts to Halliburton," wrote Waxman, senior Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee (news - web sites) and one of the sharpest critics of the government's ties to Halliburton.

Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for Cheney, played down the importance of Waxman's letter, suggesting it was politically motivated. "We stand by our previous statements," Kellems said. [...]

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Court Allows 'Under God' on Technicality

By ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press Writer
June 15, 2004

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court allowed millions of schoolchildren to keep affirming loyalty to one nation "under God" but dodged the underlying question of whether the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional blending of church and state.

The ruling overturned a lower court decision that the religious reference made the pledge unconstitutional in public schools. But the decision did so on technical grounds, ruling the man who brought the case on behalf of his 10-year-old daughter could not legally represent her.

It was an anticlimactic end to an emotional high court showdown over God in the public schools and in public life. It also neutralizes what might have been a potent election-year political issue in which the Bush administration argued strongly that the reference to God should remain part of the pledge. [...]

Comment: The Pledge of Allegiance is arguably one of the most effective brainwashing tools available to the powers that be. How many young school children actually understand the meaning of the words they mindlessly repeat every morning?

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Aid for 10m people 'is sabotaged'

Tuesday, 15 June, 2004

Ten million people or more are in dire need of food and other assistance because aid workers cannot reach them, the UN's humanitarian chief has warned.
Undersecretary General Jan Egeland said operations in 20 countries were either being sabotaged on the ground or undermined by a lack of funds.

He said the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region was currently the world's worst.

"I think it's not genocide yet and we can prevent it from becoming one," he told the UN Security Council.

"The government which should do its utmost to help us is still not helping - some ministers are helping us, but some of their subordinates are sabotaging us," he said.

But the people of Darfur are not alone in their desperation, he said. [...]

He said restrictions were preventing humanitarian workers from helping 2.2 million people in the Central African Republic, 3.5 million Palestinians, 3 million people in eastern DR Congo, plus millions in northern Uganda, Ivory Coast, Chechnya and the northern Caucuses, Afghanistan and Liberia.

Comment: The plight of many African countries is often nebulously attributed to some natural cause that maintains millions in abject poverty, but clearly this is nothing but a lie. The bitter truth is that, many years ago, it was decided by representatives of certain western governments that Africa was not for Africans, but rather to be exploited by westerners for its valuable resources. To enable them to do this, these western politicians maintained a policy of financial and military support for the most depraved megalomaniacs that African society had to offer. In doing so they ensured that the African people would be in no position to protest the rape of their land, as they would be more occupied with avoiding the rape of their wives and daughters and a daily struggle to survive.

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Afghan President Calls on NATO for Help

Tuesday June 15, 2004
By ROBERT BURNS
AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai went before Congress Tuesday to thank the United States for its nearly three-year-long counterterror campaign in his country and asked for continued help.

"I thank you and the people of this great country for your generosity and commitment to our people,'' Karzai said. "You have supported us with your resources, with your leadership in the world community and, most importantly, with the precious lives of your soldiers.''

In a 20-minute speech to members of the House and Senate gathered in the House chamber, Karzai, who was to meet later Tuesday with President Bush, said: "Afghanistan has emerged from a very dark era ... one of oppression and terror.''

The speech was interrupted by applause more than a dozen times. [...]

"To fulfill the promise that we have been made, we are hoping that NATO will come to Afghanistan before the elections of September,'' he said Monday at a news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

NATO already is commanding the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, the Afghan capital, as well as a reconstruction operation in the northern city of Kunduz. The alliance has pledged to expand its security operations to cities elsewhere in the war-torn country this summer.

Karzai and Rumsfeld addressed reporters beside a memorial plaque on a section of the Pentagon's western wall, where American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building on Sept. 11, 2001, killing all 64 aboard the hijacked plane and 125 people in the building.

Comment: No it did not. Clearly, it was NOT a commercial airliner that crashed into the Pentagon. Why does the media, even a supposedly more "liberal" newspaper like the Guardian, persist in this fantasy? A cursory glance at the facts show that there is absolutely NO WRECKAGE outside the Pentagon from a large 757 plane. Furthermore, the small round hole in the facade of the building COULD NOT have been made by a large airplane. Pictures of the scene show NO damage to the building where the wings of a 757 jet would have hit.

As for Afghanistan, by all accounts, the only major result achieved by the US bombing of that country, other than the 5,000 dead civilians, is the fact that Opium is once again the number one export. Europe is currently being flooded with Afghan heroin, all under the watchful gaze of US and Israeli intelligence agencies. So what's new...

Karzai wants NATO to "come to Afghanistan before the elections of September" so that he will have enough firepower to ensure that he is "elected" for another term.

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Swelling US trade deficit hits record high

By Christopher Swann in Washington
Financial Times
June 14 2004 17:15

The US trade deficit widened to a record $48.3bn in April, putting a bigger drag on economic growth than expected and further damping down hopes that the trade gap is soon set to narrow.

The deficit was up from $46.6bn in March and was $5.8bn higher than in April 2003.

Economists said that with the dollar reviving in response to expectations of higher interest rates, there was little chance that the trade gap would start to close over the next 12 months.

The swelling US deficit is the most obvious manifestation of imbalances in the world economy, with the US outpacing growth in the eurozone and Japan. For the US administration the deficit has underlined the need for other economic blocs to do more to bolster demand.

The figures coincided with the release of data showing a rebound in retail sales, which rose by 1.2 per cent in May following a decline of 0.6 per cent in the previous month. Surging auto sales and high petrol prices were largely responsible for the jump. [...]

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Breaking codes: An impossible task?

By Paul Reynolds
BBC News Online world affairs correspondent
Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 00:28 GMT

Recent reports that the United States had broken codes used by the Iranian intelligence service have intrigued experts on cryptology because a modern cipher should be unbreakable.

Four leading British experts told BBC News Online that the story, if true, points to an operating failure by the Iranians or a backdoor way in by the National Security Agency (NSA) - the American electronic intelligence organisation.

The longest prime number discovered so far would stretch 20km if written down

The reports, from Washington, suggested that the Iranians had been tipped off by Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi political leader with links to Iran.

He is said to have learned about the code-breaking from an American official who was drunk.

Simon Singh, author of "The Code Book", a history of codes, said: "Modern codes are effectively unbreakable, very cheap and widely available. I could send an email today and all the world's secret services using all the computers in the world would not be able to break it. The code maker definitely has a huge advantage over the codebreaker." [...]

Comment: Obviously, any intelligence agency would like its targets to believe that their encrypted communications are secure...

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Patients' thoughts control games: Use only brains to move cursor

MAGGIE FOX
REUTERS NEWS AGENCY

WASHINGTON - Using thought alone and with some electrodes placed on the surface of the brain, four volunteers were able to control a video game, researchers report.

Simply by thinking the word "move," the volunteers played the simple video game, the U.S. researchers found.

"We are using pure imagination. These people are not moving their limbs," said Dr. Eric Leuthardt, a neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis who worked on the study.

Their research adds to work being done at several centres and is aimed at finding ways to help people control computers or machines using brainpower alone. Potentially, people who are paralyzed could use such devices to work, read, write and even possibly to move around.

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UK to clone human cells

Antony Barnett and Robin McKie
Sunday June 13, 2004
The Observer

Scientists are set to be given approval this week to create the first cloned human embryo in Britain. The move is being hailed as a milestone in biological research by doctors, but has sparked fury among religious and anti-abortion groups.

The UK team seeking the go-ahead for the controversial experiment is led by Dr Miodrag Stojkovic, of Newcastle University. He plans to create dozens of cloned embryos using the same nuclear transfer technique that was employed by the scientists who created Dolly the sheep.

The cloned embryos will initially be exploited as sources of stem cells for treating diabetes patients.

'This is a great opportunity,' Stojkovic told The Observer last night. 'We are focusing on diabetes, but believe our work could lead to cures for other diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Our intention is not to create cloned humans, but to save lives.' [...]

'Out of 10 eggs produced during IVF treatments on average seven are used. The other three are spare and would otherwise have been disregarded. We are not trying to clone a baby ... These embryos have no more moral status than blood taken from a patient.'

Nevertheless, the decision by the HFEA to support human cloning is likely to ignite a storm of protest.

'This is the start of a slippery slope,' said Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe. 'It is unnecessary to use embryo stem cells when many scientists believe stem cells taken from adults could be used.'

However, Alistair Kent of the Genetics Interest Group -an umbrella organisation representing families affected by genetic illnesses - said: 'We still have a long way to go before these techniques lead to new treatments for disease, but the quicker we act now the sooner they will be ready for use on patients.'

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Earthquake rattles Mexico City

From Will Weissert in Mexico City
15 jun 04

AN EARTHQUAKE shook Mexico City today, swaying skyscrapers, panicking residents and temporarily knocking out power to some neighbourhoods.

There have been no reports of injures or major damage.

The tremor measured 5.8 on the Richter scale and was centred off the coast of southern Oaxaca state, about 530km southeast of Mexico City, according to the National Autonomous University of Mexico's earthquake centre.

Authorities in the capital said they had received no reports of injures or major damage, but phone service near the epicentre was knocked out, making it difficult to know immediately the extent of the damage in that area.

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Earthquake Rattles Chile's Southern Coast, No Injuries Reported

June 15 (Bloomberg) -- An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 rattled Chile off the country's southern coast, the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center said on its Web site.

No damages or injuries had been reported 90 minutes after the temblor was detected at 7:17 a.m. local time (7:17 a.m. New York time.) The National Earthquake Information Center said the temblor had its epicenter about 630 kilometers (392 miles) southwest of Santiago.

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Small earthquake rumbles in southeast Missouri

JIM SUHR
Associated Press

A light earthquake shook parts of southeast Missouri early Tuesday as most people slept, rattling dishes and some homes but causing no damage or injuries, authorities said.

The magnitude-3.7 temblor about 3:30 a.m. was centered about 15 miles west-northwest of New Madrid, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center.

The New Madrid County Sheriff's Department said the quake's epicenter appeared to be around Canalou, a tiny town of about 300 northwest of New Madrid in Missouri's Bootheel, sheriff's dispatcher Mary McMillion said.

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Under the sea, researchers see volcano erupt

Randolph E. Schmid
Associated Press
June 13, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Hoping to learn more about undersea volcanoes, scientists sent a camera-equipped submarine down to take a look. They got more than they bargained for, witnessing a deep-sea eruption.

"At first we really didn't understand what was going on," said Bob Embley, chief scientist on the mission, which involved nearly three dozen researchers.

"We were seeing billowing clouds coming up and turning yellow. There was sulfur, and rocks were flying out," said Embley, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. "The amazing thing is we were able to sample it. ... It would not have been a good place to be in a manned submersible."

The material from the eruption is still being studied. It was highly caustic, Embley said, damaging the camera lenses.

The volcano, with a rim 1,800 feet below the sea surface, was named "Brimstone Pit" by the scientists. [...]

He pointed out that although most of the planet is covered with water, the undersea regions have not been thoroughly studied in the past.

"Out there on our own planet there are volcanoes erupting under the ocean, putting chemicals into the ocean, interchanging gases [into the water and air], affecting biology. We should know about these things," Embley said.

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Lightning Strike Injures 17 Army Reservists In Wisconsin

Local6.com
12:27 pm EDT June 14, 2004

Severe thunderstorms swept across the Plains and Midwest during the weekend, spinning off tornadoes, causing power outages and delaying travel for airline passengers.

Two people were killed in weekend storm-related accidents in Missouri.

Lightning struck the ground outside a tent at the Army's Fort McCoy in west-central Wisconsin on Sunday, injuring 17 Army Reservists from the San Antonio, Texas, area, said public affairs officer Linda Fournier. One soldier remained hospitalized Monday. [...]

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Bilingualism helps protect aging brains: study

Last Updated Mon, 14 Jun 2004 16:14:12

TORONTO - Bilingualism may help keep certain brain functions working better during normal aging, Canadian psychologists say.

The researchers compared "executive functions," such as the ability to ignore distracting information, in 104 monolingual and bilingual adults aged 30 to 59, and 50 adults aged 60 to 88.

Psychology Prof. Ellen Bialystok of York University knew bilingual children developed these cognitive abilities more quickly. Her team wanted to see if the advantage held over a lifetime.

To see if it did, the team used a test called the Simon Task, which measures the time needed to recognize where a coloured square appeared on a computer screen.

Bilingual adults performed better and the bilingual advantage increased substantially in those over 60, the researchers found. The study appears in the June issue of the journal Psychology and Aging.

"It shows that a specific experience, bilingualism, has the ability to modify a central aspect of cognitive functioning and keep the brain functioning at a higher level as normal aging inevitably slows us down," Bialystok said.

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A soldier demonstrates how well the new universal digital camouflage renders him almost invisible in a woodland setting.

Army Shows 1st Uniform Redesign Since '81

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
Mon Jun 14, 4:21 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Army revealed on Monday a redesigned combat uniform with a digital camouflage pattern that looks strikingly different from soldiers' current battle dress uniforms.

It marks the first major change in the Army uniform since 1981, said Brig. Gen. James R. Moran, who modeled the uniform for reporters at the Pentagon. He said recruits will be issued the redesigned uniform starting October 2005, and the entire Army will be outfitted by December 2007.

The uniform is being produced in a single, universal pattern to replace the two camouflage versions in current use: tan-brown for desert use and green-brown-black for woodland settings. [...]

The new uniform makes more use of Velcro, and the coat fastens in front with a zipper instead of buttons. Cuffs and pockets are fastened with Velcro, and the coat collar can be turned up and fastened Mandarin-style. The uniform is roomier and made with a no-wrinkle fabric.

The coat-trousers combination costs $88, compared with $56 for the current battle dress uniform.

The new uniform was designed in part to accommodate the new Interceptor body armor that soldiers are getting in Iraq and Afghanistan for partial protection from bullets as large as 7.62mm. The Mandarin-style collar, for example, shields the neck from the Interceptor vest collar.

Moran said the Army will offer soldiers extra protection with add-on armor for the underarm area, which is not covered with protective plates in Interceptor vests. The deltoid protection will increase the weight of the armor vests from 16 pounds to 22 pounds. [...]

Comment: Not only do the new uniforms cost more, but they're made of wrinkle-free fabric - a very important feature when a soldier is being shot at by resistance fighters in a US-occupied country.

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Patrol uniforms 'made in Mexico'

By Jerry Seper
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
June 15, 2004

New Border Patrol uniforms, ordered in the wake of the agency's transfer last year to the Department of Homeland Security, arrived this month and some agents are not very happy: The new uniforms were "Made in Mexico." [...]

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Russian Programmers Discover First-Ever Mobile Phone Virus

MosNews

Russian antivirus company Kaspersky Labs Ltd. has reported discovering the first-ever computer virus capable of spreading over mobile phone networks. The virus infects telephones running Symbian OS. So far, Cabir does not seem to have caused any security incidents.

Kaspersky Labs believes that the worm was probably created by a virus writer going under the name of Vallez, a press release published on the company web-site says. This pseudonym is used by 29a, an international group of virus writers. The group specializes in creating proof-of-concept viruses. Among the group’s creations are Cap, the first macro virus to cause a global epidemic; Stream, the first virus for additional NTFS streams; Donut, the first virus for .NET and Rugrat, the first Win64 virus.

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A nude model, five bodies and the Mormon assassination plot attempt

By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
15 June 2004

This may be the year of the celebrity trial - Michael Jackson the King of Pop on child molestation charges, the basketball star Kobe Bryant accused of rape, the legendary record producer Phil Spector indicted for murder - but the kookiest, darkest, most grimly compelling court case in America may well be one that is receiving almost no media attention at all.

This week, a jury in Martinez, a small town outside San Francisco, will retire to consider the bizarre, brutally violent cult surrounding one Glenn Taylor Helzer, a lapsed Mormon accused of bludgeoning and dismembering five people in an elaborate extortion racket intended to hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Helzer, a former stockbroker who has already pleaded guilty and faces the death penalty, exerted a charismatic hold over an eclectic group of followers including his younger brother, a former girlfriend turned Playboy centrefold model, and a self-described "good witch" who once offered to raise money for Armageddon by appearing in porn films.

The first two victims were elderly former clients of Helzer's, who were forced to write cheques for $100,000 (£55,000) while being tortured and held under the influence of the date-rape drug rohypnol. The third victim was Selina Bishop, 22-year-old daughter of the blues guitarist Elvin Bishop, who was initially part of the gang but was then slaughtered to ensure that she did not testify against the others. Her mother, Jennifer Villarin, and her mother's boyfriend were the fourth and fifth victims.

The star witness in the trial was a former housemate of Helzer's, Dawn Godman, who calmly described how she held up the severed heads of three of the victims while another member of the gang bashed their teeth out with a hammer and chisel to make them harder to identify. She also explained how Helzer had hoped to feed the severed bodies of the victims to his pet rottweiler before deciding this was impractical, stuffing them in duffel bags and dumping them in the Sacramento river delta instead.

The culmination of Helzer's plan was to have been an operation codenamed "Brazil", in which he would send South American orphans to Salt Lake City to kill the 15 elders who run the Mormon church.

According to Godman's testimony, Helzer imagined he could blame the murders on the "government behind government" and take over the leadership of the world's 12 million Mormons himself.

Helzer was excommunicated by the Mormons in 1998, which is about the time he started declaring he was the one true prophet of God and devised something called "the 12 Principles of Magic" that included the exhortation: "No such thing as right and wrong."

His ex-girlfriend Keri Mendoza, who went on to become Playboy's Miss September 2000 under the name Kerissa Fare, told the court Helzer had given her the confidence to send her modelling shots to the magazine. "It was special just to know him," she said.

She also described Helzer's younger brother Justin as a gentle soul who ate organic food and refused to kill insects buzzing around the house. Justin's fate will be the main topic of discussion by the jury, who must decide whether his brother's influence in effect rendered him insane or whether he was responsible for helping to commit the murders and subsequent dismemberments.

Godman has already pleaded guilty to her role in the killings and is expected to receive a sentence of 38 years to life. She was spared capital charges in exchange for her testimony, which left the court so sickened that the judge at one point called for a collective "deep breath".

She described how Helzer called her into the bathroom, where Selina Bishop had already been bludgeoned and may already have been dead, telling her he wanted to see the gruesome details of his plan in action. "Spirit says you get to know. This isn't a dream," she quoted him saying. She then described him picking up a knife and slitting the victim's throat.

It was Godman and Justin Helzer who cleaned up after the murders. She explained: "Taylor said he had more important things to do, like sit and meditate and listen to the spirit."

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