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Picture of the Day

Evening on the Aragonian Pryénées (Spanish side), seen from the monastery of San Victorian
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Human beings are both fascinated and repelled by what is called "evil." The fascination stems from the fact that "good" people find it difficult to comprehend how evil can exist in a world that is allegedly overseen by a benevolent and loving creator. And so, they struggle to identify it, quantify it and understand it.

Throughout history, different individuals or groups of individuals have been labeled "evil" by the "authorities" of the time. In our own period, we often find that the mass media will display photographs of murderers with the caption, "The face of evil." The viewer shudders with fear and thanks his lucky stars that such an individual is not a part of HIS or HER life!

At the top of the list of the 20th-century's most evil people, we find an unprepossessing fellow named Adolf Hitler. He didn't look like much - more comical and absurd than frightening - and many photographs of him show him dandling babies and fondling pets.

This should tell us that evil is not always as cut and dried as we would like it to be.

When we gaze upon the old photos of Hitler, our perceptions are automatically conditioned to produce that frisson of fear: this is HITLER, the FACE OF EVIL. What we all tend to forget is that Hitler could not have come to power and committed Germany to a policy of war and genocide without the tacit consent of the German people and without the rest of the world turning a blind eye to, or even actively aiding, what was going on in Germany. As the article below points out, in the elections over the year prior to Hitler being appointed Chancellor, Hitler was overwhelmingly rejected by the German people. Therefore, the tacit consent to which we refer is the consent of the German people to the laws put into place after Hitler became Chancellor, and more particularly, after the Reichstag fire.

In a certain sense, this makes the entire world responsible for the crimes committed in Germany. Would the German people have been so susceptible to Nazi rule if there had been a concerted effort on the part of other peoples to assist them in waking up, in seeing their folly? Why did everyone think "it's not my business," most particularly those governments that could have acted more strongly to curtail the rising power of Hitler? How much responsibility do they hold for the 65 million deaths of the Global Holocaust that was World War II?

Knowing that the German people were the foundation on which Hitler stood, his soldiers and workers and assistant killers is one thing; understanding how it came to be is another. If other countries did not forcefully object, surely the German people thought that the direction Hitler was taking them was at least their own solution to their particular problems, even if not exactly acceptable. There was no real consensus of rejection of the Nazi ideals conveyed to Germany in an effective way and certainly, the German people were suffering a variety of serious internal problems to which Hitler's answers seemed to be good ones. What this means is that it is clearly wrong to label each and every German who participated in the Nazi war machine as evil.

There was no single moment in time when the German people suddenly "became evil." The Germans - the people susceptible to Adolf Hitler - were a people desperate for identity and economic prosperity. Germany was a country torn apart by overwhelming economic, political and social blows: World War I, the treaty of Versailles, hyperinflation and the Great Depression, were all blows that ruined or diminished the admirable qualities of Germany as a whole. These disasters left the way open for a truly horrifying ideology. Hitler tapped into this desperation, whipping the people of Germany into a religious, messianic fervor. Little by little, they were induced to close off their consciences as the price that had to be paid for their dreams; they were induced by clever fear tactics and propaganda to incrementally realign their collective morality so that, in the end, the Face of Evil was the face of every supporter of Hitler.

The story of the rise of Adolf Hitler is the single most important story of the 20th century. With this event, in less than a single lifetime, one of the most civilized countries in Europe was reduced to moral, physical, and cultural ruin. The rest of the world was nearly gobbled into this black hole of evil.

This last idea should give everyone something to think about - and think about it long and hard.

At present, the model of what transpired in Germany can quite easily be seen by many people as unfolding in the United States today. There were other ways that the history of Germany could have unfolded in that time. There are other ways the history of the United States can unfold.

Complicity does not mean that you have to support evil, it simply means that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Ask yourself: "Would I be able to resist becoming complicit in such a regime?"

It is easier to resist evil at the beginning than at the end.

Although many people are outraged when comparisons are drawn between the rise of Hitler and the National Socialists in Germany in the 1930s and current events in the United States, we think it is important to look closely and understand what happened. There are tried and tested methods for manipulating public opinion, methods that work again and again, and if one doesn't study them and understand how they work, we can fall into their trap over and over.

Yes, there have been revolutions, such as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, where a government was overthrown and new laws and a new social order were imposed very clearly and explicitly. However, it happens that the same radical change can be brought about surreptitiously over a longer period. The forms of government can appear to be the same while their powers grow, their actions change, and their accountability to the people disappears. Such is the case today in the United States. After stealing the election in 2000, the Bush Administration set about to remake the US. For some, it is the desire to install a theocracy, that is, a government of God on earth. For others, it was to merge the interests of the Zionist State of Israel with those of the US. For yet others, it is a simple matter of imposing ever finer measures of control over the population.

The catastrophe of 9/11 marks the moment when the coup became public. Whether you think that the Bushists merely used the event to implement their political agenda by either permitting it to happen or by profiting from something of which they had no foreknowledge, or whether you think that some elements were actually involved in the organisation of 9/11, the facts on the ground show that the rights of Americans have been slowly and carefully stripped away. While you read the article below on the rise to power of Adolph Hitler, think back to the last four years. Think back and remember life before 9/11. Recall the various steps the Bushists have taken in the intervening years, remember their words, the justifications and lies they used to pass the Patriots Acts, to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, to support the annihilation of the Palestinians, and to reduce "free speech" to fenced in areas that resemble internment camps.

Even if you are not living in the US, your rights are being taken. Everyone on this planet is subject to the madness of King George Jr, as American power extends all around the globe. We are all responsible if this madness continues.

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How Hitler Became a Dictator

by Jacob G. Hornberger, Posted June 28, 2004

Whenever U.S. officials wish to demonize someone, they inevitably compare him to Adolf Hitler. The message immediately resonates with people because everyone knows that Hitler was a brutal dictator.

But how many people know how Hitler actually became a dictator? My bet is, very few. I'd also bet that more than a few people would be surprised at how he pulled it off, especially given that after World War I Germany had become a democratic republic.

The story of how Hitler became a dictator is set forth in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer, on which this article is based.

In the presidential election held on March 13, 1932, there were four candidates: the incumbent, Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler, and two minor candidates, Ernst Thaelmann and Theodore Duesterberg. The results were:

Hindenburg 49.6 percent
Hitler 30.1 percent
Thaelmann 13.2 percent
Duesterberg 6.8 percent

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, almost 70 percent of the German people voted against Hitler, causing his supporter Joseph Goebbels, who would later become Hitler's minister of propaganda, to lament in his journal, "We're beaten; terrible outlook. Party circles badly depressed and dejected."

Since Hindenberg had not received a majority of the vote, however, a runoff election had to be held among the top three vote-getters. On April 19, 1932, the runoff results were:

Hindenburg 53.0 percent
Hitler 36.8 percent
Thaelmann 10.2 percent

Thus, even though Hitler's vote total had risen, he still had been decisively rejected by the German people.

On June 1, 1932, Hindenberg appointed Franz von Papen as chancellor of Germany, whom Shirer described as an "unexpected and ludicrous figure." Papen immediately dissolved the Reichstag (the national congress) and called for new elections, the third legislative election in five months.

Hitler and his fellow members of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party, who were determined to bring down the republic and establish dictatorial rule in Germany, did everything they could to create chaos in the streets, including initiating political violence and murder. The situation got so bad that martial law was proclaimed in Berlin.

Even though Hitler had badly lost the presidential election, he was drawing ever-larger crowds during the congressional election. As Shirer points out,

In one day, July 27, he spoke to 60,000 persons in Brandenburg, to nearly as many in Potsdam, and that evening to 120,000 massed in the giant Grunewald Stadium in Berlin while outside an additional 100,000 heard his voice by loudspeaker.
Hitler's rise to power

The July 31, 1932, election produced a major victory for Hitler's National Socialist Party. The party won 230 seats in the Reichstag, making it Germany's largest political party, but it still fell short of a majority in the 608-member body.

On the basis of that victory, Hitler demanded that President Hindenburg appoint him chancellor and place him in complete control of the state. Otto von Meissner, who worked for Hindenburg, later testified at Nuremberg,

Hindenburg replied that because of the tense situation he could not in good conscience risk transferring the power of government to a new party such as the National Socialists, which did not command a majority and which was intolerant, noisy and undisciplined.

Political deadlocks in the Reichstag soon brought a new election, this one in November 6, 1932. In that election, the Nazis lost two million votes and 34 seats. Thus, even though the National Socialist Party was still the largest political party, it had clearly lost ground among the voters.

Attempting to remedy the chaos and the deadlocks, Hindenburg fired Papen and appointed an army general named Kurt von Schleicher as the new German chancellor. Unable to secure a majority coalition in the Reichstag, however, Schleicher finally tendered his resignation to Hindenburg, 57 days after he had been appointed.

On January 30, 1933, President Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany. Although the National Socialists never captured more than 37 percent of the national vote, and even though they still held a minority of cabinet posts and fewer than 50 percent of the seats in the Reichstag, Hitler and the Nazis set out to to consolidate their power. With Hitler as chancellor, that proved to be a fairly easy task.

The Reichstag fire

On February 27, Hitler was enjoying supper at the Goebbels home when the telephone rang with an emergency message: "The Reichstag is on fire!" Hitler and Goebbels rushed to the fire, where they encountered Hermann Goering, who would later become Hitler's air minister. Goering was shouting at the top of his lungs,

This is the beginning of the Communist revolution! We must not wait a minute. We will show no mercy. Every Communist official must be shot, where he is found. Every Communist deputy must this very day be strung up.

The day after the fire, the Prussian government announced that it had found communist publications stating,

Government buildings, museums, mansions and essential plants were to be burned down... . Women and children were to be sent in front of terrorist groups.... The burning of the Reichstag was to be the signal for a bloody insurrection and civil war.... It has been ascertained that today was to have seen throughout Germany terrorist acts against individual persons, against private property, and against the life and limb of the peaceful population, and also the beginning of general civil war.

So how was Goering so certain that the fire had been set by communist terrorists? Arrested on the spot was a Dutch communist named Marinus van der Lubbe. Most historians now believe that van der Lubbe was actually duped by the Nazis into setting the fire and probably was even assisted by them, without his realizing it.

Why would Hitler and his associates turn a blind eye to an impending terrorist attack on their national congressional building or actually assist with such a horrific deed? Because they knew what government officials have known throughout history — that during extreme national emergencies, people are most scared and thus much more willing to surrender their liberties in return for "security." And that's exactly what happened during the Reichstag terrorist crisis.

Suspending civil liberties

The day after the fire, Hitler persuaded President Hindenburg to issue a decree entitled, "For the Protection of the People and the State." Justified as a "defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state," the decree suspended the constitutional guarantees pertaining to civil liberties:

Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

Two weeks after the Reichstag fire, Hitler requested the Reichstag to temporarily delegate its powers to him so that he could adequately deal with the crisis. Denouncing opponents to his request, Hitler shouted, "Germany will be free, but not through you!" When the vote was taken, the result was 441 for and 84 against, giving Hitler the two-thirds majority he needed to suspend the German constitution. On March 23, 1933, what has gone down in German history as the "Enabling Act" made Hitler dictator of Germany, freed of all legislative and constitutional constraints.

The judiciary under Hitler

One of the most dramatic consequences was in the judicial arena. Shirer points out,

Under the Weimar Constitution judges were independent, subject only to the law, protected from arbitrary removal and bound at least in theory by Article 109 to safeguard equality before the law.

In fact, in the Reichstag terrorist case, while the court convicted van der Lubbe of the crime (who was executed), three other defendants, all communists, were acquitted, which infuriated Hitler and Goering. Within a month, the Nazis had transferred jurisdiction over treason cases from the Supreme Court to a new People's Court, which, as Shirer points out,

soon became the most dreaded tribunal in the land. It consisted of two professional judges and five others chosen from among party officials, the S.S. and the armed forces, thus giving the latter a majority vote. There was no appeal from its decisions or sentences and usually its sessions were held in camera. Occasionally, however, for propaganda purposes when relatively light sentences were to be given, the foreign correspondents were invited to attend.

One of the Reichstag terrorist defendants, who had angered Goering during the trial with a severe cross-examination of Goering, did not benefit from his acquittal. Shirer explains:

The German communist leader was immediately taken into "protective custody," where he remained until his death during the second war.

In addition to the People's Court, which handled treason cases, the Nazis also set up the Special Court, which handled cases of political crimes or "insidious attacks against the government." These courts

consisted of three judges, who invariably had to be trusted party members, without a jury. A Nazi prosecutor had the choice of bringing action in such cases before either an ordinary court or the Special Court, and invariably he chose the latter, for obvious reasons. Defense lawyers before this court, as before the Volksgerichtshof, had to be approved by Nazi officials. Sometimes even if they were approved they fared badly. Thus the lawyers who attempted to represent the widow of Dr. Klausener, the Catholic Action leader murdered in the Blood Purge, in her suit for damages against the State were whisked off to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where they were kept until they formally withdrew the action.

Even lenient treatment by the Special Court was no guarantee for the defendant, however, as Pastor Martin Niemoeller discovered when he was acquitted of major political charges and sentenced to time served for minor charges. Leaving the courtroom, Niemoeller was taken into custody by the Gestapo and taken to a concentration camp.

The Nazis also implemented a legal concept called Schutzhaft or "protective custody" which enabled them to arrest and incarcerate people without charging them with a crime. As Shirer put it,

Protective custody did not protect a man from possible harm, as it did in more civilized countries. It punished him by putting him behind barbed wire.

On August 2, 1934, Hindenburg died, and the title of president was abolished. Hitler's title became Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor. Not surprisingly, he used the initial four-year "temporary" grant of emergency powers that had been given to him by the Enabling Act to consolidate his omnipotent control over the entire country.

Accepting the new order

Oddly enough, even though his dictatorship very quickly became complete, Hitler returned to the Reichstag every four years to renew the "temporary" delegation of emergency powers that it had given him to deal with the Reichstag-arson crisis. Needless to say, the Reichstag rubber-stamped each of his requests.

For their part, the German people quickly accepted the new order of things. Keep in mind that the average non-Jewish German was pretty much unaffected by the new laws and decrees. As long as a German citizen kept his head down, worked hard, took care of his family, sent his children to the public schools and the Hitler Youth organization, and, most important, didn't involve himself in political dissent against the government, a visit by the Gestapo was very unlikely.

Keep in mind also that, while the Nazis established concentration camps in the 1930s, the number of inmates ranged in the thousands. It wouldn't be until the 1940s that the death camps and the gas chambers that killed millions would be implemented. Describing how the average German adapted to the new order, Shirer writes,

The overwhelming majority of Germans did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away, that so much of culture had been destroyed and replaced with a mindless barbarism, or that their life and work had become regimented to a degree never before experienced even by a people accustomed for generations to a great deal of regimentation.... The Nazi terror in the early years affected the lives of relatively few Germans and a newly arrived observer was somewhat surprised to see that the people of this country did not seem to feel that they were being cowed.... On the contrary, they supported it with genuine enthusiasm. Somehow it imbued them with a new hope and a new confidence and an astonishing faith in the future of their country.

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Comment: Doesn't that last description of the German people fit the majority of Americans today as their freedoms are being taken from them in the name of "security"? The events of 9/11 can be compared to the Reichstag fire. The Patriot Acts are similar to the laws brought in by Hitler. Hitler's accumulation of power to himself as Chancellor is similar to Bush's insistence on the power of the Executive branch.

After the population is cowed through fear, the powers can begin moving against different groups, one by one, as a reader points out in his comments on the article that follows:

Hope you are all well. I am a volunteer who educates about animal abuse and my associates and I have been following the government's continued crackdown on free speech. In addition, corporations are trying to make it illegal for activists to even demonstrate or launch letter-writing campaigns, which are often our only tools and very effective ones at that. As volunteers, we give voice to the voiceless and it sickens us to see what is happening. The below article is a great summation of Patriot Act abuse in this arena. Every civic group will eventually be targets it seems.

Move Over Al Qaeda! Animal And Earth Defenders Top The Most Wanted List

by Brenda Shoss

Residents probably thought a mass murderer lurked along the tree- lined streets of their Newark, New Jersey neighborhood on May 26, 2004. As they rose to eat harried breakfasts and tackle the morning commute, U.S. Air Marshals circled the sky in a noisy helicopter. At 6:00 a.m. 15 gun-toting FBI agents and assorted Secret Service personnel raided the home of Kevin Jonas, 26, Lauren Gazzola, 25, and Jacob Conroy, 28.

Their crime? Operating a website that reports civil disobedience, laboratory animal rescue, vandalism and similar tactics of other animal rights activists. Jonas, Gazzola, Conroy, Darius Fullmer, John McGee, Andrew Stepanian, and Joshua Harper--all linked with the non- profit organization Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC-USA)--are not accused of these crimes. They were arrested on "animal enterprise terrorism" charges for ties to a website that "conspires" to close Huntingdon Life Sciences, an animal testing laboratory cited for research fraud and hundreds of animal welfare violations.

"This case is about First Amendment practices in the 21st century [and] the freedom to use websites to speak for any cause," attorney Andrew Erba told Star-Ledger reporters. Erba will likely represent Jonas, a University of Minnesota graduate who started an Amnesty International chapter and volunteered at nursing homes before becoming a full-time advocate for animals.

Conspiracy to terrorize Huntingdon, a London-based company with a lab in New Jersey, carries a maximum three-year jail term and $250,000 fine. The activists also face a five-year jail sentence and $250,000 fine, per count, for conspiracy to engage in interstate stalking plus three more counts of interstate stalking.

That's a lot of zeros for breaking a little known law enacted to shield animal-use corporations from protesters. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 1992 authorizes the Attorney General and Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a tax-funded study on the impact of domestic terrorism "on enterprises using animals for food or fiber production, agriculture, research, or testing."

Ahhhh. That's Osama's sigh of relief as America's "War on Terrorism" turns from bomb-wielding Islamic extremists to grassroots eco- activists.

Even right-wing homicidal fanatics now vie for the Justice Department's attention, Paul Krugman asserts in a New York Times op- ed piece. Attorney General John Ashcroft apparently withheld details about a white supremacist in Texas armed with 60 pipe bombs and a cyanide bomb. Yet in early June, Krugman notes, an FBI representative asked an industry group to help suppress "the leading domestic terrorist threat: ecological and animal rights extremists."

The Bush regime can't "smoke out" key terrorists overseas. So it exhausts resources on a National Task Force to hunt down animal rights activists at home. "The rounding up of [SHAC-USA] activists should set off alarms heard by every social movement in the United States: This 'war' is about protecting corporate and political interests under the guise of fighting terrorism," freelance reporter Will Potter writes in Protest Torture of Animals; Get Arrested as a Terrorist.

In June, Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., proposed the "Ecoterrorism Act of 2004" to install criminal penalties for "destructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate or interfere with plant or animal enterprises." This bill would guard the nation's livestock from "tampering ecoterrorists."

With the June screening of more American cows thought to harbor BSE infection, tampering ecoterrorists might find it hard to compete with the growing threat of mad cow disease. Never mind that. Over the May 15-16 weekend, your tax dollars apprehended animal rights activists trying to stage a picnic at an Orange County, CA park for Liberation Weekend. The picnic didn't go down, but thanks to the counterterrorism efforts of the FBI and Costa Mesa Police, several teenagers were busted for failure to wear their seatbelts.

Both aboveboard and underground activists can no longer count on their First Amendment privilege to free speech, Fourth Amendment buffer from unlawful search and seizure, and Sixth Amendment assurance of a speedy and public trial. Under Bush's Patriot Act, the government is empowered to:

**Acquire the titles of books that suspects buy or borrow from bookstores and libraries.

**Wage "sneak-and-peak" searches at the home or workplace of anyone affiliated with a religious or political body, with no requirement to demonstrate probable cause. **Obtain user records from Internet providers without a court order or subpoena and observe Internet searches, email exchanges, and chat room dialogue. Expand wiretapping of phone calls.

**Attain an individual's medical, financial and educational history.

**Spy on discourse between attorneys and clients in federal custody.

**Detain foreigners for an indeterminate period, without indictment or right to counsel.

According to the Patriot Act, domestic terrorism includes "intimidation" and "coercion" used to influence the government or civilians. "Indeed, nearly any protest group can fit the definition of terrorists," argues Dr. Steven Best, associate professor/chair of philosophy at the University of Texas-El Paso. "Protests often are intimidating and their entire point is to 'influence' policy."

In historical terms, the decades-old animal rights movement is not particularly outstanding. It is "no more controversial than the lunch counter sit-ins of the civil rights era, the union pickets for fair wages, the agitation of the suffragettes, and the dissidence of Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, and the celebrators of the Boston Tea Party," SHAC-USA maintains.

Some politicians agree. In response to a May 18, 2004 Senate Judicial Committee hearing on the topic Animal Rights: Activism vs. Criminality, Senator Patrick Leahy stated: "Most Americans would not consider the harassment of animal testing facilities to be terrorism, any more than they would consider anti-globalization protesters or anti-war protesters or women's health activists to be terrorists. I think most would rather that we address more urgent concerns that really do pose a threat to this country and to the world."

In fact, the government's most wanted ecoterrorists--the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and SHAC- USA--have never caused human death or injury in the U.S. Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), on the other hand, flaunts 32 affirmed violations of the Animal Welfare Act, 16 violations of Good Laboratory Practice in England, the conviction of workers on animal cruelty charges, and a $50,000 payoff to the USDA for multiple violations of animal welfare laws. As many as 500 dogs, cats, rabbits, mice or chimpanzees die each day for tests "only reliable 5- 25% of the time," one HLS record claims.

Five undercover investigations expose inept HLS technicians who shove naso-gastric tubes into dogs' lungs, causing instant death as the animals drown in toxic materials. Animals seen dangling from slings or cowering in cages are left to seize, vomit and collapse with no veterinary care. In one video clip, a tech grabs a beagle by the loose skin over his neck. As the puppy's legs frantically peddle air, the man punches the dog in the face. During a supposedly post-mortem dissection, another tech slices into the chest of a convulsing monkey.

Still, HLS enjoys unlimited immunity while its adversaries fight increasing repression. On May 29, 2004, Philadelphia activists holding a legal demonstration outside the home of the president of Johnson Matthey Pharmaceuticals, an HLS customer, were arrested and handcuffed to a wall for eight hours at state police barracks. The 11 activists, including two minors restrained in leg shackles, were charged with criminal conspiracy, harassment, disorderly conduct, and corruption of a minor.

"In our Orwellian culture where truth is falsehood and falsehood is truth, documenting animals tortured is terrorism, but beating and killing animals in unspeakably vicious ways is not," Dr. Best writes in Neo-McCarthyism, the Patriot Act, and the New Surveillance Culture.

The vast majority of animal rights advocates do not commit vandalism to bring attention to animal suffering. But even if they did, there are already property damage laws with penalties proportionate to the crime.

More often, activists like Kim Berardi are jailed for contempt when they refuse to divulge information about other activists or state their political philosophy. Berardi, subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle on July 1, was sent to the Sea-Tac Federal Detention Center on charges federal agents decline to explain. Activists who fight on any front ought to support fellow activists and challenge the government's ironclad grip on fundamental liberties. Without solidarity, the Bush administration's war on free speech just might succeed.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

-Pastor Martin Niemoeller

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'Terrorism must not be allowed'

A new fund has been announced to counter extremists' actions

Friday July 30, 2004
The Guardian

Daily Mail
Editorial, July 29

"These are days of triumph for animal rights extremists. Through violence and intimidation they forced Oxford and Cambridge [universities] to dump crucial research facilities. They nearly drove ... Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) to the wall. They threaten Britain's world-beating, multibillion-pound pharmaceutical industry. They even bullied cowardly Whitehall into denying a knighthood to Professor Colin Blakemore ... because of his support for vivisection ...

"Many are understandably queasy about animal experimentation and this paper has its reservations. But we are even queasier about the use of terrorism to curtail research that could transform the lives of millions dying from incurable cancers and conditions like Alzheimer's ...

"The whole country should support David Blunkett's plans to get tough and the City's robust efforts to secure criminal convictions."

Daily Telegraph
Editorial, July 29

"The investment lost to Britain is estimated at £1bn a year, but it is impossible to quantify the harm done to scientific research, to the rule of law and to the families involved ... It is a scandal that matters should have got so far out of hand before the authorities woke up ...

"[Today] the home secretary will unveil new powers he intends to take to prevent sinister 'home visits' and to extend anti-stalking laws to protect groups of employees ... But while Mr Blunkett strengthens the law yet again, there is nothing to stop police and the courts using existing powers to crack down on animal fanatics ...

"The terrorists of the Animal Liberation Front ... cannot be deterred, only defeated ... The draft animal welfare bill seeks to propitiate them. This is a delusion. The pernicious ideology of the ALF cannot be appeased, any more than can al-Qaida. Violence in the name of animal rights must be penalised no less severely than other terrorism." [...]

Evening Standard
Editorial, London, July 28

"Protest groups such as Speak, which organised a demonstration in Oxford at the weekend, attract numbers of well-meaning people who hope to close down animal research through non-violent methods.

"However ... violent animal rights activists ... would be immediately condemned as terrorists if they firebombed supermarkets; they are no less terrorists for employing these techniques against animal research centres ... Terrorism in any form must not be allowed to succeed."

Ross Clark
Spectator, July 31

[...] "Not until [the extremists are] behind bars will it be possible to hold a sensible debate on animal experimentation. In fact, if the animal rights lobby would adopt reason rather than resort to slander and violence, it would go a long way towards achieving its ambition of freeing animals from experiments. At present, the most pressing need for animal experimentation is for drug companies to satisfy mandatory toxicology tests: these accounted for 80% of the 2.7m animal tests in Britain in 2002. These tests cannot be eliminated, though there is considerable scope to reduce them (in fact the number of animal experiments ... has halved over the past 30 years)."

Simon Festing
Daily Express, July 29

"[If] the extremists ... close HLS down tomorrow, the campaign would only shift to new companies ... The impact has been far-reaching. Already this year more than 40 companies have pulled out of HLS. Investment in new medicines has been delayed ... The patient and the public who would benefit from the research are ultimately the losers ... Virtually every major medical advance of the past century has depended on [animal research] at some stage."
· Dr Simon Festing works with the Association of Medical Charities

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Comment from a reader: I find it interesting that animal rights activists are now being linked to "terrorism", as if all of them were violent, and violent on a 9-11 sort of way.

I was reading an article on the French philosopher Michel Foucault, and one of his ideas was that disciplinary measures in society first get implemented on a small scale, e.g. a hospital or a prison, and then the practice has a "swarming" effect, extending to other areas of society. So, in this case, I think that 'they' are trying to change the meme of "terrorists" from applying exclusively to Middle Eastern people to all of the people in general, and one of the ways of doing it is blaming animal activists first. Then it's going to be left-wing activists, minorities, students, intellectuals, non-religious people and finally anyone who is not either big business or government. "Swarming". Or so it seems to me.

Comment from a reader: To me, this illustrates that any purveyor of violence will be perceived to be tainting everyone they are associated with, even the innocents. It reminds me of the PTB's message to us all. They say that all Americans are in danger from mideastern terrorists. These terrorists, reacting to our government's foreign policy, associate all Americans with their government. The reverse is also true. Americans are presented with mideastern terrorists and quickly associate terrorists and all Muslims. Using violence is not only wrong in a moral/karmic sense, it's not very clever in terms of making major, long-run accomplishments, because it guarantees enormous backlash, sets a violent precedent, escalates like crazy, and raises ire and feelings of revenge like nothing else, which is sure to be retrogressive. It's guaranteed to bite its purveyors back, or so I think. Even the military sort of admits knowing this principle, because it says that when they use force, they prefer to use overwhelming force -- ensuring complete destruction. Funny when you think of it -- traditionally, terrorism has been acts of violence by a small group that attempt to coerce some action from a big group, but now we're told that terrorism's goal is the utter destruction of the west. This, in turn, "justifies" the calls of our leaders for the complete destruction of the terrorists. And I bet you're right about the creeping nature of this "crusade." Next, anyone who *might* turn violent will be "targeted," then anyone who might obstruct or even disagree with the violent solution. Funny how nobody that does violence sees the lessons as pertaining to them. It's like "do unto others..." was a new concept or something.

"You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you."
-- John Edwards, July 28, 2004

Comment: The growing international police state will not stop at animal rights activists. The longer term goals are to keep track of each of us as we make our daily rounds. This is already possible through the use of credit cards, banking machines, and direct debit cards, all of which enable the powers that be to track our movements and purchases. We can be located through our cell phones. But they want to do more. They want to make it more and more expensive and difficult to travel. We have seen the restrictions that are being put on air travel in the name of the "war on terrorism", although it is obvious that these strictures are there to keep people scared and cowering and have nothing to do with "stopping terror". However, their goals are not limited to air travel, as this next message from a reader indicates:

Hi all,

A little info on the relentless progress of the big-brother vision, from UK 'Computing' magazine, 29th July issue. This is only a proposed scheme - but the aim is track the location of ALL cars by satellite, in order to charge for road usage. you can see where this is going:

"The (UK) Government's Long Term Road Plans:
- the government wants to cut urban congestion by half by introducing a national road pricing scheme.
- it is looking to implement satellite tracking technology to charge drivers dependent on when and where they travel.
- it has recognised that the existing US-based global positioning system (GPS) technology is prone to inaccuracies, and is looking to the forthcoming European Galileo (to launch in 2008) satellite positioning technology as the mechanism for the scheme.
- technology will not be feasible until at least 2014.
- government will look to work with car manufacturers to install satellite tracking systems in new cars.
- the UK could lead the development of a European standard.
- the government estimates that it will cost about £3 billion to install the initial tracking technology in cars, and then between £3 billion and £5 billion a year to operate.
- it believes it can generate between £10 billion and £12 billion a year in revenue using the charging scheme.
- huge back office systems will be required to deliver the plan.
- government will consider combining the scheme with functions currently conducted by motoring departments such as the DVLA.
- there will be a national debate to gain user acceptance of the proposals."

So, as ever, you can run, but you can't hide. And this will be carefully sold to the public to make sure that we want it.

Tracking every car on the road, compiling lists of every road you used, where you stopped, and then using this system as a model for all of Europe! We note, however, that the projected date for the implementation of this scheme is 2014. Will there be any roads left by then?

When trying to pull off such coups against our rights, it helps that the public be not only cowed, but ignorant. When you do not know the facts, it is easy to be manipulated. The US has been interfering in the internal affairs of countries around the world for decades, but, unfortunately, this information is not known to American citizens. They are taught empty phrases about liberty in school, but nothing of the real nature of US conduct in other countries.

Learning to Be Stupid in the Culture of Cash

March 8, 2003
By Luciana Bohne

You might think that reading about a podunk university's English teacher's attempt to connect the dots between the poverty of American education and the gullibility of the American public may be a little trivial, considering we're about to embark on the first, openly-confessed imperial adventure of senescent capitalism in the US, but bear with me. The question my experiences in the classroom raise is why have these young people been educated to such abysmal depths of ignorance.

"I don't read," says a junior without the slightest self-consciousness. She has not the smallest hint that professing a habitual preference for not reading at a university is like bragging in ordinary life that one chooses not to breathe. She is in my "World Literature" class. She has to read novels by African, Latin American, and Asian authors. She is not there by choice: it's just a "distribution" requirement for graduation, and it's easier than philosophy--she thinks.

The novel she has trouble reading is Isabel Allende's "Of Love and Shadows," set in the post-coup terror of Pinochet's junta's Nazi-style regime in Chile, 1973-1989. No one in the class, including the English majors, can write a focussed essay of analysis, so I have to teach that. No one in the class knows where Chile is, so I make photocopies of general information from world guide surveys. No one knows what socialism or fascism is, so I spend time writing up digestible definitions. No one knows what Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" is, and I supply it because it's impossible to understand the theme of the novel without a basic knowledge of that work--which used to be required reading a few generations ago. And no one in the class has ever heard of 11 September 1973, the CIA-sponsored coup which terminated Chile's mature democracy. There is complete shock when I supply US de-classified documents proving US collusion with the generals' coup and the assassination of elected president, Salvador Allende.

Geography, history, philosophy, and political science--all missing from their preparation. I realize that my students are, in fact, the oppressed, as Paulo Freire's "The Education of the Oppressed" pointed out, and that they are paying for their own oppression. So, I patiently explain: no, our government has not been the friend of democracy in Chile; yes, our government did fund both the coup and the junta torture-machine; yes, the same goes for most of Latin America. Then, one student asks, "Why?" Well, I say, the CIA and the corporations run roughshod over the world in part because of the ignorance of the people of the United States, which apparently is induced by formal education, reinforced by the media, and cheered by Hollywood. As the more people read, the less they know and the more indoctrinated they become, you get this national enabling stupidity to attain which they go into bottomless pools of debt. If it weren't tragic, it would be funny.

Meanwhile, this expensive stupidity facilitates US funding of the bloody work of death squads, juntas, and terror regimes abroad. It permits the war we are about to wage--an unfair, illegal, unjust, illogical, and expensive war, which announces to the world the failure of our intelligence and, by the way, the creeping weakness of our economic system. Every man, woman, and child killed by a bomb, bullet, famine, or polluted water will be murder--and a war crime. And it will signal the impotence of American education to produce brains equipped with the bare necessities for democratic survival: analyzing and asking questions.

Let me put it succinctly: I don't think serious education is possible in America. Anything you touch in the annals of knowledge is a foe of this system of commerce and profit, run amok. The only education that can be permitted is if it acculturates to the status quo, as happens in the expensive schools, or if it produces people to police and enforce the status quo, as in the state school where I teach. Significantly, at my school, which is a third-tier university, servicing working-class, first-generation college graduates who enter lower-etchelon jobs in the civil service, education, or middle management, the favored academic concentrations are communications, criminal justice, and social work--basically how to mystify, cage, and control the masses.

This education is a vast waste of the resources and potential of the young. It is boring beyond belief and useless--except to the powers and interests that depend on it. When A Ukranian student, a three-week arrival on these shores, writes the best-organized and most profound essay in English of the class, American education has something to answer for--especially to our youth.

But the detritus and debris that American education has become is both planned and instrumental. It's why our media succeeds in telling lies. It's why our secretary of state can quote from a graduate-student paper, claiming confidently that the stolen data came from the highest intelligence sources. It's why Picasso's "Guernica" can be covered up during his preposterous "report" to the UN without anyone guessing the political significance of this gesture and the fascist sensibility that it protects.

Cultural fascism manifests itself in an aversion to thought and cultural refinement. "When I hear the word 'culture,'" Goebbels said, "I reach for my revolver." One of the infamous and telling reforms the Pinochet regime implemented was educational reform. The basic goal was to end the university's role as a source of social criticism and political opposition. The order came to dismantle the departments of philosophy, social and political science, humanities and the arts--areas in which political discussions were likely to occur. The universities were ordered to issue degrees only in business management, computer programming, engineering, medicine and dentistry-- vocational training schools, which in reality is what American education has come to resemble, at least at the level of mass education. Our students can graduate without ever touching a foreign language, philosophy, elements of any science, music or art, history, and political science, or economics. In fact, our students learn to live in an electoral democracy devoid of politics-- a feature the dwindling crowds at the voting booths well illustrate.

The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote that, in the rapacity that the industrial revolution created, people first surrendered their minds or the capacity to reason, then their hearts or the capacity to empathize, until all that was left of the original human equipment was the senses or their selfish demands for gratification. At that point, humans entered the stage of market commodities and market consumers--one more thing in the commercial landscape. Without minds or hearts, they are instrumentalized to buy whatever deadens their clamoring and frightened senses--official lies, immoral wars, Barbies, and bankrupt educations.

Meanhile, in my state, the governor has ordered a 10% cut across the board for all departments in the state--including education.

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Comment: Many people decry the state of education in the US. However, they do not, cannot, accept that this dumbing down of the population was deliberate, part of a plan to keep them doped up on bread and circuses. And how many Americans would even know from whence comes the reference to "bread and circuses"?

bread and circuses

A phrase used by a Roman writer to deplore the declining heroism of Romans after the Roman Republic ceased to exist and the Roman Empire began: "Two things only the people anxiously desire—bread and circuses." The government kept the Roman populace happy by distributing free food and staging huge spectacles.

panem et circenses (Latin), from the Roman poet Juvenal.

Bread and circuses in our day can be television and the movies, but it can also be phony terror alerts and the generalized, though vague, threat of attack from a generalized, though vague, enemy.

In seeking to impose their power, fascists like Bush need a strong external enemy in order to crank up the fear factor of the population. In our case, we know that it is "Islamic terrorism" that serves this purpose. But as more than one writer has underlined, the connections between the US and these "terrorists" are not as simple as Bush would have you believe.

Inventing the Enemy

By David Stratman
Jul 29, 2004

It used to be said during the Cold War that, "If the Communist threat did not exist, the US would have to invent it." The threat of nuclear war and the notion of a Communist (or capitalist) under every bed provided American and Soviet ruling elites excellent means to frighten and control their own citizens, justify enormous arms expenditures, and legitimize power projection abroad in the name of saving the world from Communism (or capitalism).

The same thing can be said now with a good deal more accuracy of political Islam, which the US ruling class has been courting and nurturing since it first allied in 1947 with the House of Saud. The line of strategic relationships between the US and political Islam runs through Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and now Iraq. If the US did not actually invent modern political Islam, for over half a century it has encouraged it, promoted it, funded it, trained it, armed it, and furnished it with a political rationale for its existence.

US ruling circles and reactionary forces acting in the name of Islam are in a co-dependent relationship: they need each other and work together covertly, even while they publicly attack each other in word and deed. This relationship is part of a grand strategy, in which US rulers are playing for the highest of stakes: their continued control over the American people, as well as elite domination of the world. Ruling elites in Muslim nations use political Islam and the threat from the US to control their own people with an iron fist concealed in a glove of religious fervor.


Political Islam perfectly suits the needs of America's rulers for an enemy. The lands of the Middle East and Central Asia occupied by Muslims are the most strategically important regions of the world, sitting astride the world's largest reserves of oil and gas; the US could never justify attacking these nations without first convincing Americans that Muslims need either to be attacked–because they are "dangerous terrorists"–or "liberated." Seeing Islam as the enemy also supports Israel's role as an outpost of Western colonialism in the Middle East; according to this script, Christians and Jews supposedly share a common "Judaeo-Christian" heritage which is meant to exclude Muslims, and we are encouraged to support a Jewish state based on savage ethnic cleansing against "Islamic fanatics."

The greatest benefits to America's rulers of political Islam as the enemy, however, are ideological: religious demagogues like Osama bin Laden and Iranian mullahs channel the poor and oppressed of the Muslim world into politically reactionary rather than revolutionary formations and legitimize the power of elites acting in the name of Islam; at the same time, they make the ugly face of contemporary capitalism look by way of contrast almost desirable to non-Muslims and many Muslims, in much the same way that Soviet Communism did. US rulers would like the world to perceive the choice before it in effect to be between an admittedly decadent capitalist civilization with unlimited freedom to "do your own thing" and a pre-modern theocratic state.

Political Islam derives much of its effectiveness from the failure of communism as a revolutionary ideology. That failure left widespread despair in the Middle East and around the globe and an ideological void which militant Islam, assisted by the US, has rushed to fill.



The US's favored antidote to revolutionary ideology among desperate workers and farmers in the turbulent Middle East, Central Asia, and Muslim Africa, especially since 1979, has been the idea that God's will as expressed in the Koran requires people to submit to 'holy' dictatorships. That pivotal year marked the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, the most powerful US client except Israel, and also the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In both cases the US turned to Islamic fundamentalism to achieve its strategic goals.

The Iranian revolution was capable of establishing a secular, anti-capitalist revolutionary democracy and sweeping the Middle East. Instead TIME's 1979 "Man of the Year,"Ayatollah Khomeini, and the mullahs successfully channeled the mass popular movement into a right-wing theocracy, using nationalism and religion to crush the revolution and consolidate the class nature of Iranian society.

There has been a strong collaborative relationship between the theocratic rulers of Iran and US rulers ever since. In November, 1979 Iranians took over the US Embassy in Tehran, taking 50 Americans hostage. Focusing on the "Great Satan" allowed the Ayatollah Khomeini to put up a show of radicalism to satisfy his followers while he liquidated tens of thousands of worker and student revolutionaries in the spring and summer of 1980. In October, 1980 emissaries of the Republican Party met secretly with the Ayatollah's regime and persuaded it not to release the hostages until the election was over, thus guaranteeing the defeat of Jimmy Carter. From 1983 through 1988 the Reagan Administration, in collaboration with Israel, sold arms to the Khomeini regime in Iran and sent the proceeds to CIA-supported Contras fighting the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, in defiance of Congress.


In 1979 the US began another remarkably ambitious collaboration with Islamic fundamentalists after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. With Jimmy Carter's express approval, under CIA direction, and with massive funding from the US and Saudi Arabia, the US undertook to recruit, train, and arm over 100,000 "mujahadeen"–Islamic "freedom fighters," as President Reagan styled them–from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, to make war against the Soviet invaders. The US funded "madrassas"–Islamic religious schools–in Pakistan and Afghanistan to promote political Islam and it set up camps to train the mujahadeen in guerrilla tactics and terrorism. A key CIA asset in the struggle was a man of the fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam sect from Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden. The US-backed Islamic fundamentalist movement was successful. In 1989 it drove the USSR from Afghanistan in ignominious defeat, a loss from which the USSR never recovered. On September 27, 1996 the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist guerrilla organization backed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, took control of the Afghan capital, Kabul.


In the mid-90s, with explicit approval of the Clinton Administration and the assistance of the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and Osama bin Laden, the US channeled Iranian arms, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Iranian intelligence agents, and thousands of mujahadeen from around the Islamic world to the Muslim government in Sarajevo during the fighting in Bosnia, greatly enhancing Iranian and fundamentalist influence in the region. The US, working closely with Osama bin Laden, then supplied the Kosovo Liberation Army with funding, arms, and Muslim fighters. Prof. Michel Chussodovsky of the University of Ottawa sums up the alliance between the US and Islamic militants:

"A major war supposedly ‘against international terrorism' has been launched, yet the evidence amply confirms that agencies of the US government have since the Cold War harbored the ‘Islamic Militant Network' as part of Washington's foreign policy agenda."


The US has covertly championed Islamic power in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan under a succession of leaders, most recently ex-General Musharraf, who led a military coup against the elected government in 1999 and proclaimed himself president. US military forces and the CIA have maintained particularly strong ties with the Pakistani military and with ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, which played a major role in directing Islamic mujahadeen against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s and continues to have strong ties with the Taliban. The military and the ISI threw crucial support to the six-party Alliance of Islamic parties - the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), enabling it to triumph in the October, 2003 Pakistani elections. Ahmed Rashid writes:

"[T]he Islamicists see their moment to turn Pakistan into a theocratic state. The MMA are banking on their support within the army and the intelligence services. They have gone out of their way to revile Musharraf as a stooge of the Americans, while praising the army's commitment to Islam. Emboldened by its successes, the MMA has also declared that it will demand that the government impose Sharia law throughout the country....[US policies] will only hasten Pakistan's turn towards Islamic fundamentalism as the MMA gets stronger and more strident in its demands."


This desire to bolster militant Islam may explain why US military forces have been producing with every atrocity new guerilla fighters with which to frighten the American people and to make the "war on terror" and threat of terrorism more convincing. "Anonymous," a CIA analyst for 22-years who has just published Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror, writes that the United States has "waged two failed half-wars and, in doing so, left Afghanistan and Iraq seething with anti-U.S. sentiment, fertile grounds for the expansion of al-Qaeda and kindred groups." He adds that "There is nothing that bin Laden could have hoped for more than the American invasion and occupation of Iraq."

Before the first Gulf war, Iraq had been a secular state, with the highest standard of living in the Middle East. Health care was free, as was education up through secondary school. Iraq had a high degree of equality between the sexes, with laws against gender discrimination; there were more female than male university students. After two wars and 12 years of U.N. sanctions, with its infrastructure in rubble, millions of its people malnourished, and 70% unemployed, the living standards of Iraqis have gone dramatically backwards. Iraqis have been subject to savage US attacks on civilians and widespread torture and humiliation of a sort calculated to make even those Iraqis most initially supportive of the removal of Saddam Hussein see America as an enemy.

The US has succeeded in consolidating the Iraqi resistance--the only future leadership with any legitimacy in popular eyes--increasingly under militant Islamic leadership, virtually guaranteeing an Islamic future for once secular Iraq. The US strategy of encouraging Islamic fundamentalism may explain what otherwise seem like incomprehensible blunders in the war on Iraq, not to mention the invasion itself.

For example, the US apparently deliberately provoked the Shi'ite uprising in southern Iraq in April, 2004 and thrust radical Islamic leader, Moqtada Sadr, into the position of being a national hero to Iraqis. Sadr is a Shi'ite Muslim, the same sect as that of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. In April, 2004, when Israel assassinated Shaikh Ahmed Yassin, Sadr's newspaper gave the story prominent coverage and promised to act "as a wing of Hamas" in Iraq. The US promptly shut down Sadr's paper, arrested thirteen of his top aides, and, through an Iraqi court, issued a warrant for Sadr's arrest for murder. Though Sadr had a militia of his own, the Mahdi Army, it had never acted violently towards any Americans. Juan Cole, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, asked,

"How did the CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] get to the point where it has turned even Iraqi Shi'ites, who were initially grateful for the removal of Saddam Hussein, against the United States? Where it risks fighting dual Sunni Arab and Shi'ite insurgencies simultaneously, at a time when US troops are rotating on a massive scale and hoping to downsize their forces in country?. Someone in the CPA sat down and thought up ways to stir them up by closing their newspaper and issuing 28 arrest warrants....This is either gross incompetence or was done with dark ulterior motives that can scarcely be guessed at."

Naomi Klein, reporting from Baghdad, reacted with wonderment at the US deliberately provoking a Shi'ite uprising. In an article titled "The U.S. Is Sabotaging Stability in Iraq," she wrote:

Mr. al-Sadr is the younger, more radical rival of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, portrayed by his adoring supporters as a kind of cross between Ayatollah Khomeini and Che Guevara. He blames the U.S. for attacks on civilians, compares U.S. occupation chief Paul Bremer to Saddam Hussein, aligns himself with Hamas and Hezbollah and has called for a jihad against the controversial interim constitution. His Iraq might look a lot like Iran. (Globe and Mail, Canada, 4/5/04)

Klein calls the U.S. provoking of an uprising in Shi'ite southern Iraq "mystifying," and reckons that the CPA is trying to create chaos in the south to make the handover of power impossible. More likely, however, is that the U.S. is trying to create what Professor Cole calls a "Shi'ite International," as demonstrations erupted "throughout the Shi'ite world, including Lebanon, Bahrain, Iran and Pakistan, against continued U.S. fighting in Karbala, a key holy city for Shi'ite Muslims....Bush is in the process of turning the Shi'ite world decisively against the U.S."

After claiming that it would defeat Sadr and wanted him "dead or alive," the US backed down and negotiated with him. One of the concessions was that Sadr would order his militia fighters to return to their homes; meanwhile Sadr announced his intentions to form a political party and run in the elections scheduled for January, 2005. This arrangement, one analyst put it, "would signal that the United States has just christened the newest Islamic theocracy in the World."

The pattern we see developing in Iraq is familiar. The US covertly encourages militant Islamic opposition movements throughout the Muslim world. This means that US-backed Islamic movements often find themselves in opposition to US-backed governments. When Islamic forces eventually become powerful enough to take over, then secular allies can be dispensed with. This was the pattern in Iran, and it is the developing pattern in Pakistan and Iraq, both of which will likely become theocracies on the Iran model. In Iraq, given the former power and prestige of the secular and "socialist" Ba'athist Party, it has taken an invasion and brutal occupation to remove the secular leader and develop Islamic forces; still the model is the same.

I should point out that the US is not alone in funding Islamic militants. Israel funded and promoted the Islamic terrorist group Hamas in the 1970s and 1980s and may still. Israel funded Hamas to undercut the popularity of the secular PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and the Palestinian cause, which it has done very effectively with suicide attacks on Jewish civilians in Israel.


US rulers need to create a frightening, ubiquitous, and apparently powerful enemy against which to wage endless war. They seem to be succeeding. We will likely soon see a Muslim world populated by Islamic theocracies in Iran, Iraq, and nuclear-armed Pakistan. These theocracies will impose harsh controls on their own people, crushing dissent in the name of religion, at the same time as they will be invoked by the US and Israel as "terrorist" threats to world peace. The US government has been laying the groundwork for a turbulent future of war and terrorism.

I do not mean to imply here that all has gone according to plan for the US or that the US government is all-powerful in foreign affairs. On the contrary, US actions, especially in the war on Iraq, have been at enormous political cost. Millions of people in the Middle East, perhaps billions worldwide now see the US war-maker state for what it is. Millions of Americans now understand the ruthless nature of their government more clearly than ever, and many now see the need for the overthrow of the war-makers.

At the same time, arranging for a future of endless war is not a sign of the rulers' strength but of weakness. War has always been a method of controlling restive populations, but it is the most extreme method, high in its political costs and unpredictable in its outcome. The rulers of the US and the Muslim nations–and indeed of world capitalism–are being forced towards a future of endless war out of their fear of revolution, as billions of the world's people lose faith in capitalism and seek an alternative. America's most powerful elites are rolling the dice and hoping that fear of militant Islam and possible terrorism will make Americans line up dutifully behind their leaders and get them to accept life in an ever more unequal, undemocratic society without complaint or struggle.

US and Islamic rulers hope to set Americans and Muslims against each other, inflame irrational hatreds, and blind people to their real enemies, the ruling elites of their own societies. Ordinary Iraqi and Pakistani and American workers have more in common with each other than they have with the ruling rich of their societies. To be effective the antiwar, anti-Empire movements in every country must have strong internationalist values and seek to build ties between workers of the US and Muslim and other countries. The answer to division is solidarity. The answer to communism and capitalism is truly democratic revolution. The answer to imperialist war is to turn the guns around and overthrow the war-makers.

Comment: The US has created the "monster" it is now facing. It is responsible for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism not only through its politics in the Middle East, including support for Israel in its attempt to "cleanse" Palestine of its original occupants, but it has financed these groups, and may well be continuing to financing them in order to provide the much needed "perfect enemy".

While the above analysis is very close to the actual truth "turning the guns around" will not work - we are massively outgunned. As the author of the above states, that which most concerns The Powers That Be, is the awareness among the masses of the truth and reality of the plans of their so-called "leaders".

If any of our readers, or any individual or groups around the world with a taste for the truth, want to know what can be done, what "we the people" can do about the predicament we find ourselves in, let it be known - AWARENESS is the key. It is the one thing that the control system has done so much to repress, and they have used "we the people" against ourselves to great effect. They know us only too well.

They have fed us lies and illusions about ourselves and our world. To date we have accepted these lies because they offered us the "easy way", complete with nice, comfortable illusions. If we are ever to be free, to be the architects of our own future, we must begin with ourselves. We must choose truth over lies, in our daily lives, in our relationships. We must throw off the shackles of ignorance that we have, until now, willingly accepted. Only in this way - by LIVING THE TRUTH within ourselves, can we ever hope to be in a postion to know it outside of us.

What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Begin it now.

Comment from a reader: If I may be allowed to excerpt from the article, Official: US to raise terror threat level for Washington, that appeared in the SOTT page today, here's one of the official recommendations for security personnel in possible target buildings, straight from Tom Ridge's mouth: "Be wary of visitors who appear lost or disoriented, and people asking directions to sensitive areas."

Well, this one to me sounds like a dead giveaway that there is some foul smelling plot behind it all and that the Department of Homeland Security is lending itself as a tool to help stage the next "big one": are we supposed to believe that a terrorist who has eluded all the allegedly tight controls imposed by the DHS and has managed to get to the target building, might appear as a fumbling amateur, "disoriented" and in need of directions? I rather think that such individual will no doubt be instead extremely alert, like a predator readying himself for the kill, almost walking on the edge of his toes.

I think that that the DHS is trying to pull a clever sleight of hand here, astutely shifting the attention away from the possible real perpetrators by not warning about individuals engaging in furtive behavior, who might appear alert, cold blooded and stealthy, but instead urging security personnel to focus on individuals who may appear "disoriented" (you might want to read "drugged" or "mind programmed" instead). And if they can arrange for an unwilling patsy to be caught in a sensitive place, say in the Capitol building for example, perhaps even preprogram him a la Greenbaum to react violently to some key trigger phrase and somehow link the guy to easily planted, damning evidence, like a detailed plan view of the building or a copy of the Koran, well then they'd be able to boast of having scored one in favor of foiling possible terrorist strikes.

If the secret government can manufacture Sirhan Sirhans, Oswalds and similar others and make them commit extreme acts like shooting high profile personalities in open view, this one shouldn't appear as far-fetched.

The mask of altruism disguising a colonial war

Oil will be the driving factor for military intervention in Sudan

John Laughland
Monday August 2, 2004
The Guardian

If proof were needed that Tony Blair is off the hook over Iraq, it came not during the Commons debate on the Butler report on July 21, but rather at his monthly press conference the following morning. Asked about the crisis in Sudan, Mr Blair replied: "I believe we have a moral responsibility to deal with this and to deal with it by any means that we can." This last phrase means that troops might be sent - as General Sir Mike Jackson, the chief of the general staff, immediately confirmed - and yet the reaction from the usual anti-war campaigners was silence.

Mr Blair has invoked moral necessity for every one of the five wars he has fought in this, surely one of the most bellicose premierships in history. The bombing campaign against Iraq in December 1998, the 74-day bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999, the intervention in Sierra Leone in the spring of 2000, the attack on Afghanistan in October 2001, and the Iraq war last March were all justified with the bright certainties which shone from the prime minister's eyes. Blair even defended Bill Clinton's attack on the al-Shifa pharmaceuticals factory in Sudan in August 1998, on the entirely bogus grounds that it was really manufacturing anthrax instead of aspirin.

Although in each case the pretext for war has been proved false or the war aims have been unfulfilled, a stubborn belief persists in the morality and the effectiveness of attacking other countries. The Milosevic trial has shown that genocide never occurred in Kosovo - although Blair told us that the events there were worse than anything that had happened since the second world war, even the political activists who staff the prosecutor's office at the international criminal tribunal in The Hague never included genocide in their Kosovo indictment. And two years of prosecution have failed to produce one single witness to testify that the former Yugoslav president ordered any attacks on Albanian civilians in the province. Indeed, army documents produced from Belgrade show the contrary.

Like the Kosovo genocide, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as we now know, existed only in the fevered imaginings of spooks and politicians in London and Washington. But Downing Street was also recently forced to admit that even Blair's claims about mass graves in Iraq were false. The prime minister has repeatedly said that 300,000 or 400,000 bodies have been found there, but the truth is that almost no bodies have been exhumed in Iraq, and consequently the total number of such bodies, still less the cause of their deaths, is simply unknown.

In 2001, we attacked Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden and to prevent the Taliban from allegedly flooding the world with heroin. Yet Bin Laden remains free, while the heroin ban imposed by the Taliban has been replaced by its very opposite, a surge in opium production, fostered by the warlords who rule the country. As for Sierra Leone, the United Nations human development report for 2004, published on July 15, which measures overall living standards around the world, puts that beneficiary of western intervention in 177th place out of 177, an august position it has continued to occupy ever since our boys went in: Sierra Leone is literally the most miserable place on earth. So much for Blair's promise of a "new era for Africa".

The absence of anti-war scepticism about the prospect of sending troops into Sudan is especially odd in view of the fact that Darfur has oil. For two years, campaigners have chanted that there should be "no blood for oil" in Iraq, yet they seem not to have noticed that there are huge untapped reserves in both southern Sudan and southern Darfur. As oil pipelines continue to be blown up in Iraq, the west not only has a clear motive for establishing control over alternative sources of energy, it has also officially adopted the policy that our armies should be used to do precisely this. Oddly enough, the oil concession in southern Darfur is currently in the hands of the China National Petroleum Company. China is Sudan's biggest foreign investor.

We ought, therefore, to treat with scepticism the US Congress declaration of genocide in the region. No one, not even the government of Sudan, questions that there is a civil war in Darfur, or that it has caused an immense number of refugees. Even the government admits that nearly a million people have left for camps outside Darfur's main towns to escape marauding paramilitary groups. The country is awash with guns, thanks to the various wars going on in Sudan's neighbouring countries. Tensions have risen between nomads and herders, as the former are forced south in search of new pastures by the expansion of the Sahara desert. Paramilitary groups have practised widespread highway robbery, and each tribe has its own private army. That is why the government of Sudan imposed a state of emergency in 1999.

But our media have taken this complex picture and projected on to it a simple morality tale of ethnic cleansing and genocide. They gloss over the fact that the Janjaweed militia come from the same ethnic group and religion as the people they are allegedly persecuting - everyone in Darfur is black, African, Arabic-speaking and Muslim. Campaigners for intervention have accused the Sudanese government of supporting this group, without mentioning that the Sudanese defence minister condemned the Janjaweed as "bandits" in a speech to the country's parliament in March. On July 19, moreover, a court in Khartoum sentenced six Janjaweed soldiers to horrible punishments, including the amputation of their hands and legs. And why do we never hear about the rebel groups which the Janjaweed are fighting, or about any atrocities that they may have committed?

It is far from clear that the sudden media attention devoted to Sudan has been provoked by any real escalation of the crisis - a peace agreement was signed with the rebels in April, and it is holding. The pictures on our TV screens could have been shown last year. And we should treat with scepticism the claims made for the numbers of deaths - 30,000 or 50,000 are the figures being bandied about - when we know that similar statistics proved very wrong in Kosovo and Iraq. The Sudanese government says that the death toll in Darfur, since the beginning of the conflict in 2003, is not greater than 1,200 on all sides. And why is such attention devoted to Sudan when, in neighbouring Congo, the death rate from the war there is estimated to be some 2 or 3 million, a tragedy equalled only by the silence with which it is treated in our media?

We are shown starving babies now, but no TV station will show the limbless or the dead that we cause if we attack Sudan. Humanitarian aid should be what the Red Cross always said it must be - politically neutral. Anything else is just an old-fashioned colonial war - the reality of killing, and the escalation of violence, disguised with the hypocritical mask of altruism. If Iraq has not taught us that, then we are incapable of ever learning anything.

Comment: Clearly, this is a setup. In all likelihood the crisis in Sudan has been engineered - but by whom? No doubt the CIA is in there, but who else? Sudanese dictator al-Bashir's government is dominated by members of Sudan's National Islamic Front (NIF), a fundamentalist political organization formed from the Muslim Brotherhood in 1986

The "Muslim Brotherhood" was founded in Egypt in the late 1920s by Hassan al-Banna, and has fought for over 70 years for the formation of a pure pan-Islamic theocratic state.

Now whose interests does it really serve that there should be a "pure pan-Islamic theocratic state"?

Who has talked of a new "crusade"? Who wants to radically change the demographics of the Middle East? How would that be done - if not by war? But there would surely have to be something to fight against. Some "credible" threat. Is this the reason that the US and Israel have been promoting fundamentalist Islamic groups for so many years?

But hang on, "The Muslim Brotherhood" was formed almost 85 years ago. Is it really possible that the current world climate that we are witnessing could have been in the planning for almost 100 years? No. It is much longer than that.

Welcome to the "hyperdimensional control system". Oh, and "have a nice day."

Arrest of Al-Qaeda computer engineer in Pakistan led to new US alert

August 2, 2004

NEW YORK (AFP) - The capture of an Al-Qaeda computer engineer in Pakistan in mid-July led to the most recent terror alert in the United States, the New York Times reported, quoting senior US officials.

Pakistani officials arrested Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a 25-year-old computer engineer, on July 13, according to the Times. The suspect is believed to have used and managed an Al-Qaeda communications system where information was transferred via coded messages, according to the Times.

A senior US official told the Times that "documentary evidence" found after Khan's capture showed in detail that Al-Qaeda members had been studying the buildings they want to target in New York, Newark and Washington even before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

A second senior US intelligence official told the newspaper the information was more detailed than any he had seen during his 24-year career in intelligence work.

The contents of the evidence was urgently relayed to Washington Friday afternoon, which immediately increased the importance of other intelligence gathered over the past weeks from Al-Qaeda suspects held in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the Times reported.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on Sunday raised the terrorist alert level for key financial centers, warning that Al-Qaeda may attack the International Monetary Fund and World Bank headquarters in Washington and the New York Stock Exchange.

Ridge said there were reports that Osama bin Laden's group planned to use truck or car bombs against the targets. [...]

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Sun Aug 01 2004 20:58:13 ET

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: (already in progress) it's clear about al-Qaeda's intent, as well as their capability to carry out attacks both here and abroad, but the intelligence effort against al-Qaeda is a painstaking one, one that requires tremendous patience and tremendous effort on the part of many different government agencies and departments. And we had a briefing here several weeks ago regarding the information that we had about al-Qaeda's plans to carry an attack in the homeland this year.

What we have are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and now we have some very specific, and as the Secretary said, specific and credible information regarding al Qaeda's plans to carry out attacks here in the States. Today's news, today's intelligence, is both a cause for concern as well as, clear evidence of success in the war against terrorism. Because of the tremendous detail and specificity that we've been able to acquire, the collection agencies have been able to acquire, about upcoming attacks. We frequently get this type of information after attacks take place, but this information before these attacks are able to be carried out.

The new information is chilling in its scope, in its detail, in its breadth. It also gives one a sense the same feeling one would have if one found out that somebody broke into your house and over the past several months was taking a lot of details about your place of residence and looking for ways to attack you.

When I went through the information over the past 36 hours the type of information that has been acquired about the target sets here in the United States demonstrates that al-Qaeda is meticulous in its efforts; it is patient in its efforts, and since 9-11 there has been an effort made to ensure that they have the information that they need in order to carry out attacks.

What I want to do is walk through briefly some of the types of information. What we have now is extensive information about the activities that have taken place from a reconnaissance standpoint in terms of collecting information, also in terms of casing and surveillance as far as the types of targets to be attacked, the vulnerabilities, the perceived vulnerabilities, as well as the possible optimal ways to carry out attacks to bring down buildings.

There is detail now available regarding the types of security procedures at some specific buildings; the security checks that are required; the types of security personal at different posts; whether or not these individuals are armed or not; the presence of security officers at these posts at different times of the day; the types of uniforms that they wear; the number of pedestrians in the area, the number of employees in buildings; information regarding potential escape routes for perpetrators of attacks; different points of reconnaissance in order to ensure that they have the full breadth of information regarding the targets; different types of shops that are near by.

There is extensive information now available on the information they've been able to acquire regarding the other facilities in the area, whether they be religious establishments, schools, libraries, hospitals, police departments, fire departments; talks about the different access measures, as far as whether or not there's a physical desk or intercom systems; types of surveillance activities or counter-surveillance activities such as cameras; good places to go to meet employees; good places to go to acquire additional information; the types of traffic patterns that are near buildings; the different types of vehicles that in fact can enter different types of parking facilities; the incline that is used, that exists, as one enters an underground parking facility; the different types of materials that in fact should be brought into different types of vehicles and to address whether or not certain materials can, if detonated, cause, in fact, buildings to collapse; the placement of such devices and bombs to maximize the damage to the architecture of the building.

It identifies also the disadvantages of certain types of plans in terms of the possible dissipation of the force in terms of the size, the height of the building, the height of a ceiling where in fact a vehicle might in fact be detonated. It talks about different means of ingress and egress; how one can get in side buildings. It talks about the configurations of parking lots. It talks about whether or not the parking garages and facilities are close the core of the buildings and near certain offices. It talks about the different types of shops nearby that can provide cover for additional types of acquisition of information. It talks about the number of cars passing different types of targets at particular times of the day.

It talks about the many types of procedures that employees themselves have to use for access to buildings. It recommends the type of material to be used. It talks about the types of techniques. It talks about the types of trucks, vehicles, other types of means of bringing in and bringing close to the targets, explosive devices. It makes reference to the extensive detail that individuals who have been involved in this have been able to acquire from publicly available sites, from various types of information that's available, as well as the types of personal reconnaissance and surveillance and casing that goes on.

So again, from the standpoint of intelligence availability on different types of targets and my experience, the amount of detail available here is such that really provides the different types of organizations involved tremendous insight into what, in fact, al-Qaeda is contemplating and what they already have identified in terms of means of attack.

Comment: The detail which "al-Qaeda" allegedly possesses is rather interesting. We are informed by the US media that terrorists are trying to destroy buildings again. As with 9/11, we are meant to believe that a loosely organized bunch of terrorist groups - led by a crazy guy who lives in caves and is constantly on the move - is actually capable of gathering the ridiculously detailed intelligence that the US official above is discussing. It seems that only a very well-organized, well-funded, highly effective, highly deceptive, and extremely deadly intelligence organization would be able to gather such data and carry out attacks of the magnitude of 9/11 - like Mossad, for example.

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: I wanted to spend just a moment talking about a different piece of this puzzle. You've talked about the, what do we know, what have we acquired.

There was a question earlier about where this came from. Let me talk for just a moment about how we got here and we know what we know. There's been commentary in the media over time about things like chatter, about acquisition of information off the internet. This is not that kind of information. What this is a result of is the offense we have taken in this war and the disruption of this al-Qaeda adversary.

Over the course of the past three years since 9-11, we've taken out, this is CIA in concert with our law enforcement colleagues, our military colleagues, and our friends around the world, I'd estimate more than 70 percent of the al-Qaeda leadership. And what we have found is a mosaic, an understanding of this adversary that is slowly and steadily coming into focus. It's coming into focus again, not just because of chatter or because of internet information, but because we acquire information from disruptions that allows us to get behind the organization and understand exactly what they're trying to do in some respects just like someone else just described, and this information as I said is the result of disruptions of the organization. I'd make one more comment about this.

Comment: Oh - so now we are given "real" information, as opposed to "that kind of information" that was spoon fed to the population during previous terror alerts. Here we thought that information found on the internet is not as reliable as what we see on TV on the evening news, and yet the US government seems to think that information found on some random web site is "intelligence" - even though they apparently do nothing to verify its authenticity. But forget about all that, because this is REAL intelligence now!

The adversary we saw and have seen since the 1990's, the adversary that conducted the operation of September 11th, put in place many plans. It's a very strategic thinking organization. The leadership of the organization, I think, it was very focused and committed to what they were doing. What you're seeing in some cases is the remnants of what that leadership tried to set up years ago, and what you're seeing in response is the manifestation of our offensive disruptions. We are seeing what they put together and seeing it as we take down people, and as we take down what we call documents and other document exploitation.

So as we take out the remnants, the mosaic is coming into focus, and in some sense we have a bit of a good news story today. Disruption has allowed us to get a clarity that we have not had before. So that's a quick picture. I don't know if anyone else has comments to make. [...]

SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: I'd just like to echo the other official's comments here that we are doing our best to get this information out to the state and local authorities and to the private sector here in the United States to inform them about the threat and to assist them in any way that we can and understanding it and dealing with it. [...]

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Comment: It looks like the stormtroopers are set to become an increasingly integral part of life in the US of A. The remainder of this article consists of a question and answer period. Unfortunately, most of the questions and portions of the responses from officials are "inaudible"... which was probably a blessing in disguise, since we would merely be regailed with more horse hockey. Let's look on the bright side however, those "terror alerts" have had a really positive, if "coincidental" (yeah right) result on the oil market...

Attacks warning pushes oil higher

Monday, 2 August, 2004

Crude oil prices pushed upward to yet another record on Monday after a weekend warning of possible al-Qaeda attacks on global financial bodies.

The US government ratcheted up alert levels on Sunday, saying it knew of threats to the IMF, World Bank and New York stock exchange.

The price of US light, sweet crude hit $43.92 (£24.09) a barrel in Asian trade on Monday, breaching Friday's record.

Jitters also hit stocks on Monday, with most Asian major markets lower.

Market nerves

Brent crude prices opened slightly down in London but were still expected to trade close to 14 year highs reached on Friday.

September light crude nudged down 18 cents to $39.85 in early trading, having risen 77 cents to $40.05 a barrel on Friday.

John Brady, an analyst with ABN Amro, said that renewed fears of a major terrorist attack would continue to support prices for some time.

"The market is pinned to the upside when you look at the trend, " he said. "The threat alert is bringing more confusion and uncertainty into the market."

But analyst Tony Nunan, of Tokyo's Mitsubishi Corporation, said that should an attack happen, prices would likely fall.

"After 9/11 people stopped consuming because of the uncertainty. They were afraid and stopped travelling. If the target is a consuming nation, you would expect an attack to affect the market to the downside," he said.

Upward trend

The attack warnings were the latest factor unsettling oil prices.

Crude prices have been bolstered by the growing global thirst for oil as the US recovers and China develops, coupled with supply shortages, acts of sabotage in Iraq and worries about the possible bankruptcy of Russian producer Yukos.

The cost of a barrel of US crude closed at $43.85 on Friday in New York, its highest level since trading began on the exchange 21 years ago.

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St. Paul's Mayor Backs Bush
8/2/2004 12:17:51 AM

St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly broke Democratic Party ranks on Sunday to announce his support for President Bush's re-election.

"George Bush and I do not agree on a lot of issues," Kelly said in a statement. "But in turbulent times, what the American people need more than anything is continuity of government, even with some imperfect policies."

Kelly, who said he's remaining a Democrat, said the economy is going in the right direction. "There's no reason to believe a change of course will produce better or quicker results," he said.

And the mayor said the United States will bring the troops home from Iraq a lot sooner if "we don't try to bring in a whole new leadership team to run the show. We must stay the course."

Governor Tim Pawlenty, who co-chairs the Bush-Cheney campaign in Minnesota, praised Kelly. "His bold decision is courageous and a welcome move toward working across party lines," Pawlenty said in a statement.

U.S. Senator Norm Coleman, the Bush-Cheney campaign's other co-chair in Minnesota, called Kelly's announcement "bipartisanship at its finest."

"Mayor Kelly recognizes that jobs are being created and that tax cuts have stimulated that job growth. He has done the same for St. Paul," said Coleman, Kelly's predecessor as mayor of Minnesota's capital city.

But the St. Paul DFL Party said Kelly "has traded the values of St. Paul for the agenda of the Republican Party's far right."

"Rather than advocating the needs of St. Paul, Mayor Kelly's decision to not support John Kerry's strategy for building our cities does the voters of St. Paul a disservice," the party said.

Kelly, who was elected mayor in 2001, is up for re-election next year.

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Comment: Continuity of government?! In that case, why not just get rid of elections altogether and just make Bush the dictator?

25th Amendment About To Fall On Bush?

by Skolnick 'n Bloom

Cloak and Dagger has been mentioning for some time that the resident of the White House is going bonkers, because the truth of Bush's treachery is coming out. Now it has become an 'open secret'. Becoming evident is Bush's deception and treason of Bush's prior knowledge of 9-11. And the truth of his disasterous Iraqi War Policy causing great bloodshed for no American purpose.

The 25th Amendment method of removing a President who is dangerously going nuts (like Nixon talking to pictures on White House walls) and cannot carry out his duties of office is becoming a growing public concern.

Unlike Nixon, who resigned, Bush is going down the road like Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin who blamed his "Jewish doctors" as part of a plot to kill him. The doctors were later declared innocent of all charges.

But Bush's false accusations against "HIS JEWISH DOCTORS" AND HIS JEWISH ADVISORS AND BONDHOUSE BANKERS may soon break out into the open, adding to the anti-Jewish epidemic that is sweeping the country, Nazi-era-like, at a time of vast actual unemployment.

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The Disturbing Words Of John Edwards

By John Chuckman

I heard several lines from John Edwards' convention speech on the radio before I clicked it off. Anymore and I would have vomited.

As it was, I experienced a horrible flashback to being a twelve-year old at the Midwest Baptists' Camp Sycamore, sitting in the sweltering cinderblock meeting hall, shirt stuck to the back of a card-table chair, while a strutting little preacher sprayed beads of sweat and globs of spit into the twilight yelling about hell.

John Edwards is pure Elmer Gantry.

Well, what would you expect from a guy who spent twenty years chasing ambulances, looking for deep pockets to sue, always waving his arms and smiling like a chipmunk? America's litigation lawyers and its evangelists-for-profit have a lot in common, and when they come from places like Dog Bite, North Carolina, it's almost impossible to tell them apart. There's always a syrupy sweet exterior, the beneficent smile - just think of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson - in the ruthless pursuit of things that human society would be better off without.

Here's a few lines from John's official site on how he sees his career:

For 20 years, John dedicated his career to representing families and children hurt by the negligence of others. Standing up against the powerful insurance industry and their armies of lawyers, John helped these families through the darkest moments of their lives to overcome tremendous challenges. His passionate advocacy for people like the folks who worked in the mill with his father earned him respect and recognition across the country.

That sounds like a promo for the next episode of "Rescuing Little Nell from the Clutches of Snidely Whiplash." Of course, it's what the words don't say that is often important. Why did John only stand up for "families and children"? Is there something wrong with representing people without families or children? Of course not, but his language is reclaimed manure from the Republican family-values compost heap.

John stood against armies of lawyers? No, actually John swelled the ranks of lawyers who now swarm America like the aftereffect of a lab-accident release of killer bees, spreading conflict and fear everywhere they appear. The blurb doesn't say that in twenty years John had made himself a very rich man through litigation, that is by helping to raise insurance premiums for everyone, but that's the truth. "Standing up against the powerful insurance industry" could just as well read, "Mining the huge revenues of the insurance industry for all he could haul away."

Like any of America's current crop of crocodile-tear evangelists hoping to witness a repeat of the miracle of the loaves and fishes from a collection plate, John helped families through their "darkest moments," just managing to accumulate a fortune by the time he was in his forties. Well, I'm not against success, just against misrepresenting what it is you did.

Since most litigation is socially disruptive and economically unproductive, there is something particularly disturbing about one of its predatory practitioners seeking high office. After all, it is the abject failure of American legislators to provide sufficient enlightened laws and decent regulations that makes the threatening jungle where litigation flourishes.

Reading the balance of John's speech on the Internet had the advantage of not having to hear his backwoods, folksy tone and watch his flamboyant, well-practiced gestures, but I still quickly grasped why John was so successful at litigation. People would settle just to escape having to hear him for months in court. My favorite passage of his speech is this:

"When you wake up and sit with your kids at the kitchen table, talking to them about the great possibilities in America, you make sure that they know that John and I believe at our core that tomorrow can be better than today. Like all of us, I have learned a lot of lessons in my life. Two of the most important are that first, there will always be heartache and struggle - you can't make it go away. But the other is that people of good and strong will can make a difference. One lesson is a sad lesson and the other's inspiring. We are Americans and we choose to be inspired."

Apart from the fact that half of all America's marriages end in divorce, you could never convince me that there are many of the remaining families who sit around a breakfast table talking up "the great possibilities of America." Can't you just see squirming kids, screaming about how someone ate all the Lucky Charms or what a jerk the math teacher is, falling silent as a father decides to lift his Lincolnesque brows, perhaps having offered the blessing for the morning's Pop Tarts, to invoke the great possibilities of America? Doesn't that sound just a little bizarre? If this is what happens at John's house, you should be afraid of his holding office. If this isn't what happens at John's house, why is he saying it?

The truth is, and I'm sure John knows this, few families even sit together at the breakfast table in America, and, if they do, there's a better-than-even chance that a television is mindlessly blaring the whole time. As for millions of poor families, there is no breakfast on the table. Isn't that why Head Start supplies the kids with food at school? Even in suburban middle-class families, it's all they can do to each make it out of the door on time with rush-hour commutes and drop-offs for the privileged kids' heavy schedule of activities.

And how do like that injunction about adding to the breakfast-table sermon, "you make sure that they know that John and I believe at our core that tomorrow can be better than today." John and I believe at our core? Why can't they just believe? Why must it be at their core, whatever that means? The word suggests a nuclear reactor rather than a human being. Anyway, more than a few disturbed personalities in history lay claim to some kind of mystical core something-or-other. Frankly, this statement is so patronizing and ridiculous, it makes me wonder about John's rationality.

And what does John mean about tomorrow being better than today? It resembles the words of a certain old American religious huckster who used to open his pitch for money by saying "Something GOOD is going to happen to YOU!" But it is worse than that, because it is so utterly implausible and silly. He is giving you an injunction to talk seriously to your kids about the fatuous advertising claims of two bought-and-paid-for politicians.

John has one or more mini-sermons in almost every brief passage. You'd think he was running for church deacon instead of high political office. I like his great first lesson, "there will always be heartache and struggle, "you can't make it go away." Is that what the leaders of a great nation are supposed to talk about? Do we need national elections to hear lines borrowed from Oprah Winfrey?

Then there's, "But the other is that people of good and strong will can make a difference. One lesson is a sad lesson and the other's inspiring. We are Americans and we choose to be inspired."

John probably has in mind the kind of "inspired" a preacher talks about, as the inspired Word of God. That kind of inspired allows of no mistakes, because God can't make any. It also allows of no questions or critics. Nice stuff for a politician to embrace - feel self-righteous while effectively telling people to shut-up.

In the real world, and it is the job of politicians to deal with the real world, inspired is not always a sound state of mind. Inspired about what? Inspired to do what? People are just as likely to be inspired to do terrible things as good things. The word is often used by the flunkies of great tyrants. Germans regularly used the word to describe Der Fuhrer. The ghastly blood-letting of Vietnam was inspired by a loopy, religious-like belief in the need to stop communism. Would you say that that smiling humbug, Pat Robertson, was inspired when he recently advocated America's invading Iran to overthrow the heathens?

The passage is full of question-begging phrases. Make a difference to what? I can't help thinking of the cliche about the path to hell being paved with good intentions. Sorry, John, but there's no shortage of leaders with strong wills in the world, and each of them believes in his own goodness. That fact is almost certainly one of the human race's true curses.

The rest of John's speech is sprinkled with soul-deadening cliches and even contradictions. At one point, he said, "I stand here tonight ready to work with you and John [Kerry] to make America strong again." Well, I think the last thing any thinking person on the planet wants are people working to make America stronger. America has destabilized two countries, killed tens of thousands of innocent people, tortured, and improperly imprisoned simply because it had the power to do so. Power is like that, as Lord Acton so wisely said, it corrupts. Chase after enough of it, and you get absolute corruption.

John's speech takes on the theme of two Americas, and were he to deal with the genuine problem of two distinct and separate societies in America (actually, I think it is three, including the wealthy class represented by all the Presidential candidates), he might have said something worthwhile. John tells us: "Because the truth is, we still live in two different Americas: one for people who have lived the American Dream and don't have to worry, and another for most Americans who work hard and still struggle to make ends meet. It doesn't have to be that way." But it was John himself who already told us how struggle and difficulties won't go away, so what's he saying?

On education, John says: "We shouldn't have two public school systems in this country: one for the most affluent communities, and one for everybody else. None of us believe that the quality of a child's education should be controlled by where they live or the affluence of their community."

John must know perfectly well that education is not primarily a responsibility of the federal government under America's 18th-century Constitution, so what's he talking about? What does he propose to do to change a situation where some suburban high schools have PhDs teaching and classes enjoy trips to Europe, while urban schools have labs with rusted taps and Bunsen burners that don't work?

The truth is that all good things in America, including medical care and political influence, are rationed according to ability to pay. So why would education be any different?

John adds: "We shouldn't have two different economies in America: one for people who are set for life, their kids and grandkids will be just fine, and then one for most Americans who live paycheck to paycheck." What does that mean, beyond populist hot air? I have no idea, and I suspect John doesn't either.

Here's Preacher John on adversity and hardship: "and you know what happens if something goes wrong - a child gets sick, somebody gets laid off, or there's a financial problem, you go right off the cliff. And what's the first thing to go? Your dreams." Your dreams? I really think dreams are the last thing people experiencing hardship worry about. They are worried about getting through with a shred of dignity, perhaps about surviving. Is John offering them genuine help or an airy hand-out of dreams and inspiration?

Here's a few selected gems from Preacher John on 9/11:

We will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to make sure that never happens again, not to our America. We will strengthen our homeland security and protect our ports, safeguard our chemical plants, and support our firefighters, police officers and EMT's. We will always use our military might to keep the American people safe.And we will have one clear unmistakable message for al Qaida and the rest of these terrorists. You cannot run. You cannot hide. And we will destroy you.

Does John think there are people in America - other than its substantial population of militia types, survivalists, millenarianists, and those looking forward to Armageddon - who want that to happen again? Does he think there are people, other than the two million or so in America's prisons, who don't support police?

John's promise to hunt down terrorists is pure comic-book superhero, and isn't it exactly what the delusional Bush believes he's been doing all along? What does John propose that is different? He says absolutely nothing about using proper diplomatic and legal channels to hunt down violent criminals or about strengthening international institutions. No, it's all America this and America that, the same totally narcissistic stuff that's making the world sick of hearing from America. Nobody wants a friend who only talks about himself and refuses to help anyone except on his own terms, but Americans like John think those same qualities somehow become attractive traits in world relations. Like his partner-candidate, Kerry, he promises only more threats about not hesitating to use the military to kill more people.

Keep in mind that John, sitting as he does on a Senate intelligence committee, has an extremely high intelligence clearance and ask yourself what he was able to forecast or advocate either before or after 9/11. Not much is the answer. John's pet project now is to start a new domestic spy agency - still another multi-billion-dollar agency on top the vast existing network of intrusive agencies and one dedicated specifically to spying on the homeland's residents. Does that sound like someone genuinely concerned about rights and freedoms?

Someone should ask John if he is committed to rescinding the execrable Patriot Act, but I doubt he'd receive an honest answer.

Having Preacher John teamed up with Kerry - that drearily ambitious man whose concept of bravery ran to shooting civilians safely from a riverboat in Vietnam - leaves me with a bleak outlook for America and thereby the world. That this dishonest pair and the insipid Bush are the best America offers as leaders says something terrible about that frighteningly-powerful nation: it suffers a devastating poverty of imagination and spirit.

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Poll: No boost for Kerry after convention

By Susan Page
August 1, 2004

Last week's Democratic convention boosted voters' impressions of John Kerry but failed to give him the expected bump in the head-to-head race against President Bush, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll finds.

In the survey, taken Friday and Saturday, Bush led Kerry 50%-46% among likely voters. Independent candidate Ralph Nader was at 2%.

The survey showed Kerry losing 1 percentage point and Bush gaining 4 percentage points from a poll taken the week before the Boston convention.

The change in support was within the poll's margin of error of /-4 percentage points in the sample of 763 likely voters. But it was nonetheless surprising, the first time since the chaotic Democratic convention in 1972 that a candidate hasn't gained ground during his convention. [...]

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Franks Talks Candidly In Exclusive Interview With PARADE Magazine About War, Israel, Saddam and Osama

July 30, 2004

NEW YORK -- Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who led U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, says he never thought the U.S. could be out of Iraq in a year. Five years, he says, is a realistic timeline. "It takes time to solve problems when you're talking about 25 to 26 million people," Franks tells PARADE magazine for this Sunday's issue, noting that Iraq has to dig itself out of a "30-year hole." Franks, 59, who retired from the military in July 2003, had a lot to say in this exclusive interview with PARADE, his first national interview since leaving command:

* The biggest surprise for him was that they've found no weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the "reason we went to war." He says multiple Middle Eastern leaders, including Jordan's King Abdullah and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, told Franks that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In January 2003, Mubarak said point blank to Franks, "Saddam has WMD-biologicals, actually-and he will use them on your troops."

* Franks and his warplanners expected 150,000 additional international troops to help with peacekeeping operations. They never materialized.

* Franks singles out White House Counter-terrorism Czar Richard Clarke as never providing him with "a single page of actionable intelligence" and of engaging in mostly wishful thinking. Franks also believes the U.S. invested too much in electronic spy surveillance and not enough in spies. "We can't send a Princeton-educated New York lawyer to infiltrate al-Qaeda. To get information, we have to marry the devil or at least employ him. You have to deal."

* Franks steered clear of Israel while he was a U.S. military commander and openly told Arab leaders that he was sympathetic to their issues. "For years," he tells PARADE, "I had told my Arab friends that I had 'no Israeli visa' in my passport. This was an unofficial way of letting them know that I understood their side of the story."

* Franks was disappointed that the Iraqis initially chose looting and insurgency over pulling together to rehabilitate their country -- immediately coming out to guard museums, weapons depots, etc.

* Franks describes contentious battles among the military service chiefs over his warplans for Afghanistan and how he told his civilian bosses in the Pentagon that he wanted "to be left the hell alone" to run the Iraq war.

* Franks openly rebuts and takes issue with the long-standing "Powell doctrine" of over-whelming military force. Powell criticized Franks' warplans for Iraq, drawing his ire.

* Franks believes the world is "far safer" without Saddam Hussein. Asked about Osama bin Laden, he says that, unlike Saddam, who was hated in Iraq, tens of thousands of Arab families would happily take Osama in as their hero. Franks believes Osama will be caught eventually, "even though we don't have enough sources on the ground."

This Sunday's PARADE also features an adaptation from Gen. Franks' new book, American Soldier, to be published Aug. 3 by ReganBooks/HarperCollins.

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Comment: Given Franks' long and "distinguished" career, it seems he may have made one too many enemies in the Bush camp. The reader may also recall that it was Franks who warned of martial law if there is another terrorist attack in the US:

FLASHBACK: Terror In The US? - Back To The Old Shell Game

By Paul Howard

Back to the old shell game - or back to the land of make-believe.

Only this time, the consequences of not "following the ball" for the American people and their way of life are fatal. In the land of make-believe, you can make it all up as you go.

The Bush administration has come out full force this week with what they claim are mountains of intelligence that claim Al Queda is determined to hit America before the elections in a massive attack.

They claim the intelligence is stronger than anything since 911.

Yet they refuse to move the terror alert color coding off "yellow" and they say they have no idea what will be hit, though it will be "big", and they have no idea where the terrorists are, where they will hit or when.

Some of their big intelligence? Al Queda members may be moving around with their families to appear normal. Al Queda may be recruiting white people or others who "look" European.

Could this be a way of trying to cover the fact that Israeli reservist teams have been found in this country working for "moving companies", yet they keep getting arrested around US nuclear facilities? And why do these people keep getting arrested, only to have the Feds step in to make sure they are released?

We are going to get attacked again.

The Neo-cons have several countries to still attack in their plan to save the world for Pax Americana - like Iran, Syria, North Korea. If they have to attack America again, using the CIA-created Al Queda, or Israeli agents posing as Al Queda, they certainly will.

If it worked once, why not attack America again and blame it on the "brown guys"?

This is just the continued warpath drumbeat played by this Administration in an effort to cover their collective "behinds" when THEY attack America in order to try to get some support - any support - for President Bush before the election - or more likely - to use the "massive" attack as a pretext to cancel the elections altogether under provisions of the Patriot Act.

They have been leaking this plan and their intentions for months.

In a NEWSMAX interview on November 21, 2003, General Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government. "It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction that causes our population to question our own Constitution"

The same theme was touched on in the Washington Post (11/23/03) by a member of one of the Illuminati "think tanks", the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The author, David J. Rothkopf, outlined the possibility of a terrorist campaign of suicide bombings during the election campaign that leads to a full-scale military mobilization. [...]

As former Bush Administration White House insider Richard Clarke said, "[There are] dozens of people, in the White House. . . writing talking points, calling up conservative columnists, calling up talk radio hosts, telling them what to say. It's interesting. All the talk radio people, the right wing talk radio people across the country, saying the exact same thing, exactly the same words."

They keep saying it and saying it - planting in the people's mind - so that when it happens - when THEY do it and blame it on Al Queda - Bush gets the brownie points and the election.

The evil Satanists in the Bush administration are trying to "spin" this whole scenario counter-clockwise - to try and make it look like the "evil terrorists" are going to strike to get the American people to turn on Bush right before the election and elect Kerry. [...]

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Egypt denies telling Franks of Iraqi WMD

Monday, August 2, 2004

CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt on Monday denied remarks by retired U.S. General Tommy Franks that President Hosni Mubarak told him that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

"Such a claim is void of truth," Egyptian presidential spokesman Magad Abdel Fattah told the official Middle East News Agency.

In an interview with the U.S. Parade magazine to promote his book, "American Soldier," to be released this week, Franks recalled that both Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah told him two months before the Iraq war that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons.

In Jordan, a Royal Palace official who refused to be identified said: "His Majesty did not have information that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction."

In its Sunday edition, Parade quoted Franks - who led the U.S.-led war against Iraq - as saying that Mubarak told him Saddam would use the weapons against American troops in case of war.

"What happened was that Franks asked the president for an assessment of reports on Iraq's possession of WMDs, and the president simply said that Egypt had been following the developments in Iraq, but it could not confirm whether Iraq possessed any weapons of mass destruction or whether these could be used against U.S. forces in case of U.S. military interference in Iraq," Abdel Fattah said.

The Bush administration launched the Iraq war in March 2003 to topple Saddam because he allegedly had weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were found.

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IRAQ AFTERMATH: 'Can't Blair see that this country is about to explode? Can't Bush?'


The war is a fraud. I'm not talking about the weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. Nor the links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida which didn't exist. Nor all the other lies upon which we went to war. I'm talking about the new lies.

For just as, before the war, our governments warned us of threats that did not exist, now they hide from us the threats that do exist. Much of Iraq has fallen outside the control of America's puppet government in Baghdad but we are not told. Hundreds of attacks are made against US troops every month. But unless an American dies, we are not told. This month's death toll of Iraqis in Baghdad alone has now reached 700 - the worst month since the invasion ended. But we are not told.

The stage management of this catastrophe in Iraq was all too evident at Saddam Hussein's "trial". Not only did the US military censor the tapes of the event. Not only did they effectively delete all sound of the 11 other defendants. But the Americans led Saddam Hussein to believe - until he reached the courtroom - that he was on his way to his execution. Indeed, when he entered the room he believed that the judge was there to condemn him to death. This, after all, was the way Saddam ran his own state security courts. No wonder he initially looked "disorientated" - CNN's helpful description - because, of course, he was meant to look that way. We had made sure of that. Which is why Saddam asked Judge Juhi: "Are you a lawyer? ... Is this a trial?" And swiftly, as he realised that this really was an initial court hearing - not a preliminary to his own hanging - he quickly adopted an attitude of belligerence.

But don't think we're going to learn much more about Saddam's future court appearances. Salem Chalabi, the brother of convicted fraudster Ahmad and the man entrusted by the Americans with the tribunal, told the Iraqi press two weeks ago that all media would be excluded from future court hearings. And I can see why. Because if Saddam does a Milosevic, he'll want to talk about the real intelligence and military connections of his regime - which were primarily with the United States.

Living in Iraq these past few weeks is a weird as well as dangerous experience. I drive down to Najaf. Highway 8 is one of the worst in Iraq. Westerners are murdered there. It is littered with burnt-out police vehicles and American trucks. Every police post for 70 miles has been abandoned. Yet a few hours later, I am sitting in my room in Baghdad watching Tony Blair, grinning in the House of Commons as if he is the hero of a school debating competition; so much for the Butler report.

Indeed, watching any Western television station in Baghdad these days is like tuning in to Planet Mars. Doesn't Blair realise that Iraq is about to implode? Doesn't Bush realise this? The American-appointed "government" controls only parts of Baghdad - and even there its ministers and civil servants are car-bombed and assassinated. Baquba, Samara, Kut, Mahmoudiya, Hilla, Fallujah, Ramadi, all are outside government authority. Iyad Allawi, the "Prime Minister", is little more than mayor of Baghdad. "Some journalists," Blair announces, "almost want there to be a disaster in Iraq." He doesn't get it. The disaster exists now.

When suicide bombers ram their cars into hundreds of recruits outside police stations, how on earth can anyone hold an election next January? Even the National Conference to appoint those who will arrange elections has been twice postponed. And looking back through my notebooks over the past five weeks, I find that not a single Iraqi, not a single American soldier I have spoken to, not a single mercenary - be he American, British or South African - believes that there will be elections in January. All said that Iraq is deteriorating by the day. And most asked why we journalists weren't saying so.

But in Baghdad, I turn on my television and watch Bush telling his Republican supporters that Iraq is improving, that Iraqis support the "coalition", that they support their new US-manufactured government, that the "war on terror" is being won, that Americans are safer. Then I go to an internet site and watch two hooded men hacking off the head of an American in Riyadh, tearing at the vertebrae of an American in Iraq with a knife. Each day, the papers here list another construction company pulling out of the country. And I go down to visit the friendly, tragically sad staff of the Baghdad mortuary and there, each day, are dozens of those Iraqis we supposedly came to liberate, screaming and weeping and cursing as they carry their loved ones on their shoulders in cheap coffins.

I keep re-reading Tony Blair's statement. "I remain convinced it was right to go to war. It was the most difficult decision of my life." And I cannot understand it. It may be a terrible decision to go to war. Even Chamberlain thought that; but he didn't find it a difficult decision - because, after the Nazi invasion of Poland, it was the right thing to do. And driving the streets of Baghdad now, watching the terrified American patrols, hearing yet another thunderous explosion shaking my windows and doors after dawn, I realise what all this means. Going to war in Iraq, invading Iraq last year, was the most difficult decision Blair had to take because he thought - correctly - that it might be the wrong decision. I will always remember his remark to British troops in Basra, that the sacrifice of British soldiers was not Hollywood but "real flesh and blood". Yes, it was real flesh and blood that was shed - but for weapons of mass destruction that weren't real at all.

"Deadly force is authorised," it says on checkpoints all over Baghdad. Authorised by whom? There is no accountability. Repeatedly, on the great highways out of the city US soldiers shriek at motorists and open fire at the least suspicion. "We had some Navy Seals down at our checkpoint the other day," a 1st Cavalry sergeant says to me. "They asked if we were having any trouble. I said, yes, they've been shooting at us from a house over there. One of them asked: That house?' We said yes. So they have these three SUVs and a lot of weapons made of titanium and they drive off towards the house. And later they come back and say We've taken care of that'. And we didn't get shot at any more."

What does this mean? The Americans are now bragging about their siege of Najaf. Lieutenant Colonel Garry Bishop of the 37th Armoured Division's 1st Battalion believes it was an "ideal" battle (even though he failed to kill or capture Muqtada Sadr whose "Mehdi army" were fighting the US forces). It was "ideal", Bishop explained, because the Americans avoided damaging the holy shrines of the Imams Ali and Hussein. What are Iraqis to make of this? What if a Muslim army occupied Kent and bombarded Canterbury and then bragged that they hadn't damaged Canterbury Cathedral? Would we be grateful?

What, indeed, are we to make of a war which is turned into a fantasy by those who started it? As foreign workers pour out of Iraq for fear of their lives, US Secretary of State Colin Powell tells a press conference that hostage-taking is having an "effect" on reconstruction. Effect! Oil pipeline explosions are now as regular as power cuts. In parts of Baghdad now, they have only four hours of electricity a day; the streets swarm with foreign mercenaries, guns poking from windows, shouting abusively at Iraqis who don't clear the way for them. This is the "safer" Iraq which Mr Blair was boasting of the other day. What world does the British Government exist in?

Take the Saddam trial. The entire Arab press - including the Baghdad papers - prints the judge's name. Indeed, the same judge has given interviews about his charges of murder against Muqtada Sadr. He has posed for newspaper pictures. But when I mention his name in The Independent, I was solemnly censured by the British Government's spokesman. Salem Chalabi threatened to prosecute me. So let me get this right. We illegally invade Iraq. We kill up to 11,000 Iraqis. And Mr Chalabi, appointed by the Americans, says I'm guilty of "incitement to murder". That just about says it all.

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Iraqi group claims over 37,000 civilian toll

By Ahmed Janabi
Saturday 31 July 2004

An Iraqi political group says more than 37,000 Iraqi civilians were killed between the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003 and October 2003.

The People's Kifah, or Struggle Against Hegemony, movement said in a statement that it carried out a detailed survey of Iraqi civilian fatalities during September and October 2003.

Its calculation was based on deaths among the Iraqi civilian population only, and did not count losses sustained by the Iraqi military and paramilitary forces.

The deputy general secretary and spokesperson of the movement told he could vouch for the accuracy of the figure.

"We are 100% sure that 37,000 civilian deaths is a correct estimate. Our study is the result of two months of hard work which involved hundreds of Iraqi activists and academics. Of course there may be deaths that were not reported to us, but the toll in any case could not be lower than our finding," said Muhammad al-Ubaidi.

"For the collation of our statistics we visited the most remote villages, spoke and coordinated with grave-diggers across Iraq, obtained information from hospitals, and spoke to thousands of witnesses who saw incidents in which Iraqi civilians were killed by US fire," he said.

Detailed figures

Al-Ubaidi, a UK-based physiology professor, provided a detailed breakdown of the 37,000 civilian deaths for each governorate (excluding the Kurdish areas) relating to the period between March and October 2003:

Baghdad: 6103
Mosul: 2009
Basra: 6734
Nasiriya: 3581
Diwania: 1567
Wasit: 2494
Babil: 3552
Karbala and Najaf: 2263
Muthana: 659
Misan: 2741
Anbar: 2172
Kirkuk: 861
Salah al-Din: 1797.

The People's Kifah said the process of data gathering stopped after one of the group's workers was arrested by Kurdish militias and handed over to US forces in October 2003. The fate of the worker remains unclear.

Missing worker

"I am taking this opportunity of talking to to request that the US occupation authorities reveal the whereabouts of the worker, who was arrested and then went missing. We are afraid he is being tortured the way Abu Ghraib prisoners were tortured," al-Ubaidi said.

"His name is Ramzi Musa Ahmad. He is a 32-year-old Iraqi engineer who was on his way to the Iraqi Kurdish governorate al-Sulaimania last October to fax me the information to Britain, because telephone services had not been restored in Baghdad."

According to al-Ubaidi: "The minibus in which Ahmad was travelling was stopped at a Kurdish checkpoint. He was arrested and handed over to US army."

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Israel expands West Bank settlements: Aerial photos reveal extent of land grab, say peace groups

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Tuesday July 27, 2004
The Guardian

Months after Ariel Sharon announced his dramatic plan to pull Jewish settlers out of Gaza, portraying it as a sacrifice for peace, the government is grabbing more land for West Bank settlements.

Israeli peace groups and Palestinian officials say thousands of homes are under construction in the main settlements, in addition to an expansion of Jewish outposts that are illegal under Israeli law. Mr Sharon has promised the US he will dismantle the outposts, which are usually clusters of containers or trailer homes serviced by government-built roads, but has failed to do so.

One Israeli group, Settlement Watch, says in the three months to May, West Bank settlements expanded by 26 hectares (65 acres).The government has approved construction of thousands more homes in the three main settlement blocs on the West Bank, encouraged by an apparent endorsement by George Bush for their eventual annexation.

In a letter to Mr Sharon, Mr Bush praised the Gaza pullout and agreed that "in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centres", it was unrealistic to expect a full return to the 1967 borders.

Dror Etkes, head of Settlement Watch, said that the expansion of Jewish outposts and continuing house building since Mr Sharon announced his plan in December was evidence that the government was seeking more territory.

"The government is trying to push the boundaries of the settlements as much as possible before they are frozen," he said. "The new rule of the game we have seen in past weeks is the diameter of permitted construction area in the West Bank has grown. The purpose is to expand as fast as possible because of negotiations with the US to limit future construction to areas already under construction."

American officials have been appointed to agree limits to settlement expansion in order, Washington says, to preserve land for a future Palestinian state. Mr Sharon is pressing the US to allow building to continue in areas already under construction, to cater for the "natural growth" in families.

But Settlement Watch says aerial photographs reveal that in some settlements, construction has begun on the outer limits of the municipal boundaries, often some distance from the settlement. It believes the government will claim the right to build on the intervening territory or use the outposts to link settlements.

The pictures show new houses, roads and other infrastructure around about 12 of the 90 or more outposts, sometimes linking them to established colonies.

Last week Ephraim Sneh, an opposition Labour party MP, presented photographs of the outposts and infrastructure expansion to his party's caucus in parliament.

"In blunt violation of the promise to the US president, the government doesn't dismantle the illegal outposts. With government money they are expanded, asphalt roads are paved - all the necessary preparations to turn them into permanent settlements," he told the Guardian.

"It casts a shadow on the real intent of Sharon's disengagement plan. The disengagement may be just a cover for the real intention of the prime minister to deepen and solidify the Israeli hold in the West Bank." He added that the expansion was possible only with official cooperation. "It can't be done without government encouragement and financing," he said. In May, the state comptroller said Israel's housing ministry had illegally funnelled about £3.8m to fund unauthorised settlement expansion, half of it to the illegal outposts.

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Israel plans to expand settlement

It has emerged that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given the go-ahead for 600 new homes in the largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

Mr Sharon and Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz agreed the plan two months ago but it has only now been made public.

The new homes are to be built in Maale Adoumin, close to Jerusalem. It is already home to 28,000 Jewish settlers.

Israel has committed itself to freezing settlement activity under the international "roadmap" peace plan.

Under the terms of the stalled peace plan, the Palestinians are obliged to crack down on militant attacks against Israel.

All settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are considered illegal under international law.

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IRAN 2005: Year of Reckoning between Israel and Iran

Mid-East Realities - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - 30 July 2004:

"Axis of Evil, Part Two"
"Did we invade the wrong country? One of the lessons being drawn from the Sept. 11 report is that Iran was the real threat... We should have done Iran instead of Iraq."
Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post, 23 July

Actually 2005 might be pushing it. Just yesterday the very establishment and very pro-Israeli Council on Foreign Relations in New York took the most unusual step of issuing a public warning to Israel (first article below) not to attack Iran. Things of this kind do not happen in a vacuum or just out of the blue. And if Bush and the neocons think they may be soon going down to defeat and into exile...

The Israelis themselves have long had nuclear weapons, and in recent years have equipped German-build-financed diesel submarines with missiles that can deliver them throughout the greater Middle East from Libya to Iran to Pakistan. The Israelis are believed to have many hundreds of such weapons from tactical battlefield bombs to strategic city-destroying ones.

Moreover the United States has not only threatened to use its own nuclear weapons in the Middle East, including before the invasion of Iraq (which is when the above New York Post headline was published), but is now building a new generation of specialized tactical nukes to use when conventional bombs won't quite do the job. Plus of course the Americans have already declared Iran to be part of the 'axis of evil' and the Israelis have repeatedly and quite publicly at times threatened to attack Iran, as well as Syria and Lebanon.

What this all means at this point is that the year ahead, 2005, is likely to be short-term decisive when it comes to the arms race in the Middle East. Israel has been pushing the U.S. hard to strike, or Israel itself may strike with covert U.S. help and overt political cover. affairs might now be such that no one will be able to quite pull this trigger, or the ability to actually take out Iran's nuclear capabilities at this point may not really be there, or the dangers of a worldwide explosion of anger against Israel and the U.S. may just be too great (which is what the CFR fears). Whatever, another moment of reckoning is now approaching and in a very real sense it's another moment the U.S. and Israel have brought on themselves.

Make no mistake about it, Israel is the driving engine for either forcing Iran to stop its weapons program or taking some kind of covert or overt action to do so with or without public U.S. help and support. Great pressures have been brought on the U.S. by Israel regarding Iran and much more can be expected both publicly and privately as the Bush-Kerry Republican-Democratic contest proceeds.

But regardless of outcome, just as soon as the U.S. election contest is decided, if not before, this huge historic issue looms large for the world. And it may well explain why the Israelis are moving toward a 'National Unity Government' again, something they traditionally do in times of war. Indeed, as these articles suggest, much is already happening to push public opinion, and no doubt behind-the-scenes where the political and military planners really operate there is much planning and anxiety underway.

There are many articles here on this tremendously important and timely subject. Make sure to read to the end. The Washington Post Op Ed by Charles Krauthammer was clearly meant as a shot across the bow by the American Jewish neocons and the Israelis not so much to the Iranians, but to the Americans and to the world.

Comment: The articles mentioned in the final paragraph can be found by following the link in the article title above.

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Israel trying to block US sale of missile system to Jordan: report

JERUSALEM (AFP) Aug 01, 2004

Israel is trying to block a deal between the United States and Jordan for the sale of an air-to-air missile system, military radio reported Sunday.

The government, fearing that Jordan could eventually sell on the AMRAAM system to Egypt, has written to members of the US Congress in an attempt to torpedo the sale, the report added.

Opposition to the deal is being led by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom who are both concerned about the idea of Israel's large southern neighbour Egypt possessing such advanced weaponry, according to Haaretz newspaper.

Israel concluded a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994, while Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab country to make peace with the Jewish state.

Spokesmen for the defense and foreign ministry refused to comment on the reports.

In Jordan, government spokeswoman Asma Khodr said the Israeli efforts were motivated by Amman's stance against the separation barrier being built by the Jewish state.

"Israeli attempts to influence members of the American congress to torpedo the projected sale of AMRAAM type missiles to Jordan seems to be motivated by Jordanian diplomacy ... against the erection of the separation barrier," she was quoted as telling the official news agency Petra.

"We consider this wall as a hindrance to the peace process and establishment of an independent Palestinian state," she added.

Israel insists the barrier is being built solely out of security considerations and that it has no intention of pre-determining the borders of the future Palestinian state.

But Palestinians say that the barrier is a blatant Israeli ploy to grab more of their land and shrink beyond anything acceptable or viable the territory of their future state.

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Vanunu Speaks

Christopher Bollyn - American Free Press July 31, 2004

When Vanunu was released from an Israeli prison on April 21, the Israeli military authorities imposed severe restrictions on his freedom. He is banned from leaving the country, confined to an assigned residence and denied the right to be in contact with journalists or foreigners.

The human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) protested the restrictions imposed on Vanunu saying on April 19: “Vanunu must not be subject to arbitrary restrictions and violations of his fundamental rights on the basis of pretexts or suspicions about what he may do in the future.”

The restrictions on Vanunu’s movement, speech and association violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Israel has ratified and is obliged to uphold, according to AI.

While Israeli officials contend the restrictions are to prevent Vanunu from divulging information about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, AI sees it differently:

“Israel’s determination to curtail Vanunu’s freedom and contact with the outside world seem to be intended to prevent him from revealing details of his abduction by Israeli secret service agents 18 years ago in Rome in what was clearly an unlawful act,” AI said.

According to Jonathan Cook of The Guardian in Britain, Vanunu’s brother, Meir, who lives with him at St. George’s, says there is another motive for the restrictions and confinement of Israel’s most famous dissident: Vanunu’s release brings attention to Israel’s nuclear arsenal at precisely the moment when the justification for attacking Saddam Hussein’s Iraq—his possession of weapons of mass destruction—is shown to have been hollow.

“If Vanunu were free to talk, he might remind the world that the greatest threat to Middle East peace comes not from Baghdad but from Tel Aviv,” Cook wrote. “That is a message neither America nor Britain wants to hear right now.”

The same controlled U.S. media networks that sent embedded reporters into combat in Iraq and published false reports about that nation’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, are seemingly afraid to go to St. George’s Cathedral in East Jerusalem and interview Vanunu, Israel’s most famous dissident and peace activist, for fear of crossing a line drawn by the Israeli military.

American Free Press, however, and the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al Hayat have interviewed Vanunu recently from St. George’s, where he has sought asylum in the Anglican church compound a short distance from the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem.

Behind the JFK Assassination

Comments made by Vanunu during an interview with Al Hayat’s weekly magazine Al Wassat, published on July 25, made headlines around the world but were completely ignored in the United States, where they could have caused immense political damage to Israel. As The Jerusalem Post’s article headline read, “Vanunu: Israel behind JFK assassination.”

Russia’s Pravda article of July 27 began: “Israel may be implicated in the biggest crime of the past century, which took place in Dallas in 1963.”

Iran’s Tehran Times, writing from Jerusalem, said: “In a startling accusation, nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has alleged that Jerusalem was behind the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who was exerting pressure on the then Israeli head of state to shed light on the Dimona nuclear plant.”

Similar articles appeared in newspapers around the world, but in the United States this explosive news was only reported by wire services and in Jewish newspapers.

Vanunu’s comments that there are “near-certain indications” that Israel was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy support the thesis of Michael Collins Piper, presented in his book Final Judgment, that Israeli agents played a key role in the murder.

AFP asked Vanunu to explain his comments about Israeli involvement in the murder of President Kennedy.

“My view is that Kennedy was assassinated because of his strong opposition to [Israeli prime minister] Ben Gurion,” Vanunu said.

At the time, Ben Gurion was working to create a nuclear arsenal for Israel.

The group that was involved with Ben Gurion in developing and protecting Israel’s nuclear arsenal “was behind the assassination of Kennedy,” Vanunu said.

As Piper documents in Final Judgment, Kennedy’s resistance to Israel becoming a nuclear-armed state led to increasing hostility between the two leaders until Ben Gurion resigned in June 1963. Kennedy had realized that the Israelis were producing illegal nuclear weapons from the nuclear reactor given to Israel in 1959 under the “Atoms for Peace” program.

In the Al Wassat interview, Vanunu said: “Israel possesses between 100 and 200 nuclear weapons, including a neutron bomb and hydrogen bombs, which are tenfold in their effect. If an atomic bomb can kill 100,000 people then the hydrogen bomb can kill a million.

“We do not know which irresponsible Israeli prime minister will take office and decide to use nuclear weapons in the struggle against neighboring Arab countries,” The Jerusalem Post reported Vanunu having said. “What has already been exposed about the weapons Israel is holding [is that they] can destroy the region and kill millions.”

A ‘Second Chernobyl’

Vanunu also warned of the environmental dangers of nuclear leaks at Israel’s antiquated nuclear facility at Dimona. An earthquake or nuclear accident at Dimona could result in the “leaking of nuclear radiation, threatening millions of people in neighboring countries,” Vanunu said.

Jordan, in particular, was mentioned as being in danger of nuclear contamination. “Dimona’s chimneys do not operate unless the winds blow in the direction of Jordan,” Vanunu said.

A Jordanian government spokesman, Asma Khader, responded promptly to Vanunu’s claim, saying, “The kingdom is free of radiation.”

Vanunu also criticized the recent visit to Israel of Mohamed El Baradei, head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“I am very disappointed by Mr. El Baradei because I expected him to go and inspect the Dimona reactor,” Vanunu said. “The job of Mr. Baradei is to go and see if what I said . . . if it’s true.”

Vanunu stressed to AFP his strong desire to speak with the media despite the restrictions, and provide them with information and his views on the need for peace—and a nuclear-free Middle East.

Asked if the U.S. media was interested in meeting him, Vanunu said “not one” American or British newspaper or television network had visited him at St. George’s since his release from prison.

“Why are they in silence?” Vanunu asked AFP about the U.S. media. “Why is the press not coming to see me? The media should bring my case to the people and the politicians. This case must be heard.”

Linda Rothstein, editor of the Chicago-based Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, however, showed little interest in Vanunu’s story, saying that Vanunu has his supporters and that the Bulletin is not an advocacy group.

Likewise, Kay Seok of Human Rights Watch said that there was nothing they could do. “Nobody at HRW is working on Israel right now,” she said.

Wants Out Of Israel

Vanunu desperately wants to leave Israel, where he is viewed as a traitor, and seek political asylum in the United States. Nick and Mary Eoloff of St. Paul, Minnesota, have formally adopted Vanunu and are ready to provide him sanctuary.

Mrs. Eoloff told AFP that Vanunu’s life is in danger in Israel.

“I want to go abroad and start my life as a free man,” Vanunu said after Israel’s high court upheld the military’s restrictions on his movement and freedom. “If Israel is a democracy, it should allow me to do it.”

Asked if he had been tortured during his 18 years in prison, Vanunu said, “Of course.”

He said he had been subjected to “mental and psychological torture” that was “cruel and barbaric.”

Because he had converted to Christianity he had received worse treatment than Jewish prisoners, he said. Vanunu said he had been treated like a Palestinian and that his captors had tried to “destroy” him.

“I am a symbol of the will of freedom,” he said. “You cannot break the human spirit.”

Asked about his supporters in the United States, Vanunu said: “I need their support to get me out. Americans should raise their voices with their congressmen and ask them in a loud voice to visit me and bring attention to my case.

“My country is not Israel,” Vanunu said. “I want to be free and to leave Israel.”

“Israel does not respect my basic human rights,” Vanunu said. “I am denied the freedom of movement and freedom of speech—like all Palestinians. I want peace and freedom from all nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”

Comment: It is hard to believe that Vanunu believes he will be safe in the US, particuarly given his claim that JFK was murdered by Israelis. Does he really think the same would not happen to him?...

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How About an October Naval Skirmish?
The Elections, Iran and al-Qaeda


The buzz about Iran's possible facilitation of Al-Qaeda's 9-11 terrorist movement has hit the airwaves. NBC, for example, had two segments on Iran in its July 19 ­04 national news. NBC's news editors are well aware of significance of allotting so much of their 20 minutes of news to this subject. "National media" such as Washington Post and Time magazine have devoted valuable space to the issue. President Bush promised to "look into the facts" about Al-Qaeda members' crossing Iran on their way to the US.

What he didn't say is the fact that no one can come to the US directly from Iran (legally or otherwise). These terrorists must have gone through a number of other countries. Turkey? UAE? Others? It doesn't seem that Mr. Bush will "look into the facts"to see how these terrorists managed to cross those other, friendly, countries. It is also alleged that Iranian border authorities have not stamped terrorists' [Saudi Arabian] passports. But how could they, if these terrorists were crossing the border illegally? Have those other friendly countries stamped the passports? All of these raise a question: Is Iran, another "axis of evil," going to be used by Mr. Bush in his re-election efforts?

Two years ago around this time the news headline were all about Enron and other corporate scandals, failure of Bush administration's economic policies and tax cuts, and so on. Predictions were that in upcoming November mid-term elections Democrats will hold on to the Senate, may increase their lead there, and even take over the House. Then news about Saddam Hussein, his WMD, his nuclear ambitions, and his links to Al-Qaeda started to crop up. In the beginning not too many took these serious. By August, however, things were changing. By October it was all Iraq and "the war president." Republicans won the elections; held on to the House and re-claimed the Senate.

The likelihood of a full fledge war ala Iraq is slim. But how about some serious naval skirmishes and invasion of disputed islands in the Gulf?

Or bombing of Iran's suspected nuclear facilities?

Even more likely is a clash between Iran and some regional surrogates. Already there has been a number of "incidents" between Iran and Qatar, Kuwait, and UAE. Iraqi defense minister had some very harsh words for Iran in his interview with a Saudi sponsored newspaper on Tuesday. Such a confrontation would be serious one. It has to be a believable clash sufficient for enough extra votes to ensure Mr. Bush's re-election. The people (of the US, Iran, and rest of the world) will pay a high cost for such an event. How is the Islamic Republic of Iran responding?

The Khatami administration (a.k.a. reformist faction) is concerned about such a scenario. They have been all over the media refuting the allegations. Such a clash will tip the balance even further in favor of the powerful conservatives. The latter, incidentally, do not mind such a clash. In fact they may welcome it! It gives credence to their claim of struggle against "the Great Satan." Some exiled Iranian opposition groups may consider the cost of such clash acceptable if this meant overthrow of the Mullas' regime. This, unfortunately, may be wishful thinking. The Bush administration is neither willing nor able to overthrow the Islamic clerics' regime. All it ends up doing is to reinforce their oppressive abilities. For Iranian people it will be a "lose lose" situation..

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UPDATE: Pentagon Looks To Directed-Energy Weapons

By Michael P. Regan
AP Business Writer

A few months from now, Peter Anthony Schlesinger hopes to zap a laser beam at a couple of chickens or other animals in a cage a few dozen yards away. If all goes as planned, the chickens will be frozen in mid-cluck, their leg and wing muscles paralyzed by an electrical charge created by the beam, even as their heart and lungs function normally.

Among those most interested in the outcome will be officials at the Pentagon, who helped fund Schlesinger's work and are looking at this type of device to do a lot more than just zap the cluck out of a chicken. Devices like these, known as directed-energy weapons, could be used to fight wars in coming years.

"When you can do things at the speed of light, all sorts of new capabilities are there," said Delores Etter, a former undersecretary of defense for science and technology and an advocate of directed-energy weapons.

Directed energy could bring numerous advantages to the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have had to deal with hostile but unarmed crowds as well as dangerous insurgents.

Aside from paralyzing potential attackers or noncombatants like a long-range stun gun, directed-energy weapons could fry the electronics of missiles and roadside bombs, developers say, or even disable a vehicle in a high-speed chase.

The most ambitious program is the Air Force's Airborne Laser, a plan to mount a laser on a modified Boeing 747 and use it to shoot down missiles.

At the same Air Force Research Laboratory in New Mexico, researchers working with Raytheon Co. have developed a weapon called the Active Denial System, which repels adversaries by heating the water molecules in their skin with microwave energy. The pain is so great that people flee immediately.

"It just feels like your skin is on fire," said Rich Garcia, a spokesman for the laboratory who, as a test subject, has felt the Active Denial System's heat. "When you get out of the path of the beam, or shut off the beam, everything goes back to normal. There's no residual pain."

A Humvee-mounted Active Denial weapon is expected to be given to all services by the end of this year for evaluation, with a decision about deployment expected by the end of 2005.

But the idea of using directed energy against humans is creating debate fueled by deaths allegedly caused by Taser stun guns and the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners - which put the military's respect for human rights under a microscope.

Some experts believe the use of directed energy will be limited by international law and treaties.

"Although it seems like it would be more desirable to disable rather than to kill them, the problem is there are all sorts of treaties in place that limit how you can disable noncombatants," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, a defense think tank. "It's kind of perverse, but sometimes the backlog of old laws can get in the way of being humane." [...]

Comment: There are also all kinds of old laws that limit how you can kill combatants and deal with noncombatants, but the US has a very poor history of actually following these rules. The torture of detainees in the war on terror comes to mind... It is clear that those running the US at present refuse to be hampered by anyone or anything - not Old Europe, not old international laws, not anything.

But the fact that studies on directed energy's human effects haven't been released to the public has some outside the government worried. [...]

The device being developed by Schlesinger's company, HSV Technologies Inc. of San Diego, will operate similarly to Bitar's, except the electrical charge will be created by an ultraviolet laser beam, rather than plasma. He, too, says the device is designed for non-lethal purposes only.

"Later on, as certain agencies or law enforcement gets involved in this, and they see the need for lethality, I'm sure that can be developed later," Schlesinger said. "It could induce cardiac arrest, for example. But that is not our patent, and not our intent."

Still, that potential is sure to make opponents of directed energy skeptical.

"It's encouraging that the U.S. is searching for more humane weapons," said the Lexington Institute's Thompson. "But it's very hard to convince other countries that our goals are ethical."

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Comment: Can anyone really blame them for being skeptical?? To believe that the US will only use these new weapons in a humane fashion is wishful thinking. It ranks right up there with, "But I don't have to worry about the security measures being implemented because I'm not an Arab or a terrorist, and I've done nothing wrong". The trouble is, what happens when the dictatorial leader changes his mind about what constitutes terrorism and what is "wrong"?

Couple kicked off Miami-New York flight because of T-shirt
August 1, 2004 - 10:49 p.m.

MIAMI — A couple returning home from a Costa Rican vacation was ejected from an American Airlines flight because the man was wearing a T-shirt depicting a bare breast.

Oscar Arela and his girlfriend, Tala Tow, were removed from Flight 952 on Saturday after he refused to change the shirt or turn it inside out at Miami International Airport. The flight left 90 minutes late without them.

The couple, making a connecting flight from Costa Rica, said nobody on the earlier flight objected to the shirt and claimed the airline violated their constitutional right to free speech.

"It's a picture of a man and woman, and the woman's breast is showing," Tow said. "The flight attendant basically walked up to us and yelled, 'You have to take off that shirt right now.'"

American spokesman Tim Wagner said Sunday that crew members acted properly.

"The description I heard was a picture of a graphic of a naked man and woman performing a sexual act," he said. "We as an airline are in the service business, and we have the same latitude as a restaurant that says proper attire is required."

Tow said four Miami-Dade police officers and three federal security agents escorted her and Arela off the flight. She said the T-shirt image was reproduced from a Venezuelan record label.

Wagner said the couple could legally be barred from the flight even though they committed no crime. The airline gave them a refund. He did not know if they booked another flight.

"I'd like to figure out how a T-shirt that offends one member of the crew somehow impacts the safety of the flight or the ability of the flight to continue to New York," said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. "If they want to permit this kind of action by flight attendants, then they better have a clear policy that is announced in advance and made known to passengers in advance."

Wagner noted on American's Web site the policy clearly states that someone who is "clothed in a manner that would cause discomfort or offense to other passengers" can be removed from a flight.

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Comment: Four police officers and three federal agents escorted the couple off the plane because of a t-shirt?

Wal-Mars Invades Earth

New York Times
Published: July 25, 2004

It's torn cities apart from Inglewood to Chicago and engulfed the entire state of Vermont. Now the conflict's gone national as a presidential campaign issue, with John Kerry hammering the megaretailer for its abysmally low wages and Dick Cheney praising it for its "spirit of enterprise, fair dealing and integrity." This could be the central battle of the 21st century: Earth people versus the Wal-Martians.

No one knows exactly when the pod landed on our planet, but it seemed normal enough during its early years of gentle expansion. Almost too normal, if you thought about it, with those smiley faces and red-white-and-blue bunting, like the space invaders in a 1950's sci-fi flick when they put on their human suits.

Then it began to grow. By 2000, measures of mere size - bigger than General Motors! richer than Switzerland! - no longer told the whole story. It's the velocity of growth that you need to measure now: two new stores opening and $1 billion worth of U.S. real estate bought up every week; almost 600,000 American employees churned through in a year (that's at a 44 percent turnover rate). My thumbnail calculation suggests that by the year 4004, every square inch of the United States will be covered by supercenters, so that the only place for new supercenters will be on top of existing ones.

Wal-Mart will be in trouble long before that, of course, because with everyone on the planet working for the company or its suppliers, hardly anyone will be able to shop there. Wal-Mart is frequently lauded for bringing consumerism to the masses, but more than half of its own "associates," as the employees are euphemistically termed, cannot afford the company's health insurance, never mind its Faded Glory jeans. With hourly wages declining throughout the economy, Wal-Mart - the nation's largest employer - is already seeing its sales go soft.

In my own brief stint at the company in 2000, I worked with a woman for whom a $7 Wal-Mart polo shirt, of the kind we had been ordered to wear, was an impossible dream: It took us an hour to earn that much. Some stores encourage their employees to apply for food stamps and welfare; many take second jobs. Critics point out that Wal-Mart has consumed $1 billion in public subsidies, but that doesn't count the government expenditures required to keep its associates alive. Apparently the Wal-Martians, before landing, failed to check on the biological requirements for human life.

But a creature afflicted with the appetite of a starved hyena doesn't have time for niceties. Wal-Mart is facing class-action suits for sex discrimination and nonpayment for overtime work (meaning no payment at all), as well as accusations that employees have been locked into stores overnight, unable to get help even in medical emergencies. These are the kinds of conditions we associate with third world sweatshops, and in fact Wal-Mart fails at least five out of 10 criteria set by the Worker Rights Consortium, which monitors universities' sources of logoed apparel - making it the world's largest sweatshop.

Confronted with its crimes, the folks at the Bentonville headquarters whimper that the company has gotten too "decentralized" - meaning out of control - which has to be interpreted as a cry for help. But who is prepared to step forward and show Wal-Mart how to coexist with the people of its chosen planet? Certainly not the enablers, like George Will and National Review's Jay Nordlinger, who smear the company's critics as a "liberal intelligentsia" that favors Williams-Sonoma. (Disclosure: I prefer Costco, which pays decent wages, insures 90 percent of its employees and is reputedly run by native-born humans.)

No, Wal-Mart's only hope lies with its ostensible opponents, like Madeline Janis-Aparicio, who led the successful fight against a new superstore in Inglewood, Calif. "The point is not to destroy them," she told me, "but to make them accountable." Similarly Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, will soon begin a national effort to "bring Wal-Mart up to standards we can live with." He envisions a nationwide movement bringing together the unions, churches, community organizations and environmentalists who are already standing up to the company's recklessly metastatic growth.

Earth to Wal-Mars, or wherever you come from: Live with us or go back to the mother ship.

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High Quality Meteor Spectrum Caught By Chance

2 August 2004

Astronomers were lucky enough to record the spectrum of a bright meteor when it happened - by sheer chance and against all reasonable odds - to cross the narrow slit of the FORS1 instrument on the ESO Very Large Telescope in Chile.

At the time of this unlikely event, the telescope was performing a series of 20-minute spectroscopic exposures of a supernova in a distant galaxy in order to establish constraints on the dark energy content of the Universe. Thanks to its enormous light-collecting and magnifying power, the VLT recorded the spectrum of the meteor trail perpendicular to its path on one of these exposures. "We really hit the jackpot", says ESO astronomer Emmanuel Jehin: "The chances of capturing a meteor in the narrow slit of the FORS1 spectrograph are about as big as for me winning the national lottery."

Meteor spectra have on occasion been obtained serendipitously during photographic star spectra surveys. But this is now perhaps the only meteor spectrum recorded with a large telescope and a modern spectrograph. The spectrum covers the wavelength range from 637 to 1050 nm, which is dominated by emissions from air atoms and molecules in the meteor path and teach us about the collision processes in the wake of a meteoroid.

The rapid motion of the meteor across the sky resulted in a very brief exposure while crossing the narrow spectrograph slit - only 1/50 of a millisecond - and despite the relative brightness of the meteor it was only thanks to the VLT's great light-gathering power that any record was procured. The meteor was estimated at magnitude -8, or nearly as bright as the first-quarter Moon.

Although it is not possible to be sure from which shower this meteor belongs, a possible candidate is the Southern May Ophiuchid shower which appears from a direction just east of the bright star Antares. The shower contributes only one or two meteors per hour but was one of the stronger showers of that night.

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Tropical Storm Alex Forms Off S.C. Coast

August 2, 2004

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Tropical storm warnings stretched across both Carolina coasts early Monday as the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season swirled far off the beaches of South Carolina.

The center of Tropical Storm Alex was about 100 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C., early Monday. Later in the day it was predicted to move a little closer to the North and South Carolina coasts. Its winds were blowing up to 40 mph, forecasters said.

The tropical storm's center was expected to reach the Carolinas early Tuesday.

The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to the South Santee River, north of Charleston. A tropical storm watch was levied from Cape Hatteras to Oregon Inlet, N.C., and from the South Santee River to Edisto Beach. [...]

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Church Accused of 'Brainwashing' Pupils

By Dominic Hayes, Education Correspondent, PA News

The Church of England was today accused of trying to “brainwash” young children into believing in God by getting them to pray after being put into a trance-like state.

The allegation, which the Church rejected, was sparked by advice from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s diocesan schools adviser to use what is known as “guided meditation” in primary education.

The National Secular Society demanded that Education Secretary Charles Clarke order CofE primary schools to stop using these techniques immediately.

But the Church said guided meditation had been used for hundreds of years – and was about opening children’s minds, not closing them.

The society’s anger was provoked by guidance sent to schools by Virginia Corbyn, the diocesan schools advisor for Canterbury which said: “Guided imagery – also called scripted meditation, allows the children’s imagination to act on a story or scenario provided for them by the teacher. [...]

Comment: Apparently the Church of England never heard of the word "hypocrisy".

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UFO Filmed For Second Time in Turkey

Europa Press

ISTANBUL - An undentified flying object was sighted and filmed for the second time in ten days in the Turkish province of Mersin, reported a spokesperson for the local police via the Anatolia press agency.

According to Suleyman Ekizer, director of security in Mersin, the UFO made its first appearance over an industrial zone for an hour and 20 minutes during the night of July 19/20.

This morning it reappeared at 3:30 local time near a refinery in the same region, and flew over the zone for two hours before disappearing in the sky. The police official confirmed that the UFO has now been filmed twice.

Our agents have announced that a dark red colored UFO with yellow-green tones, of circular form that emitted lights and moved continuously appeared in the sky for two hours" Ekizer declared, according to Anatolia. These appearances have been forwarded to the Turkish centers of space exploration, added the agency.

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Collectors pay more than £5000 for dead foetuses

By Daniel Foggo and Fiona Govan

Dead babies are being traded for thousands of pounds by a secretive network of collectors who prize them as trophies.

The children, who were either stillborn or aborted as foetuses, are being kept in people's homes after being sold by medical institutions or schools that are closing down.

Specimens are changing hands for more than £5,000 each.

Last night, the Royal College of Surgeons of England described the trade, which is legal, as "horrific" and "wholly inappropriate".

Simon Chaplin, a senior curator of the Royal College's museum collections, said: "I am absolutely horrified at the idea that such things are being bought and sold on the open market and that individuals want to collect such things in their homes.

"These things exist in medical institutions as collections of anatomic specimens traditionally to be used for teaching purposes, and are not regarded as collectors' curiosities. I am very disappointed to learn that schools are selling off their exhibits to private individuals. It is wholly inappropriate."

The trade in aborted and stillborn babies is conducted clandestinely, but The Telegraph found some of those involved by posing as a potential buyer.

One of the traders involved is Robert Hudson, 38, who runs a shop in Newquay, Cornwall.

Mr Hudson, who also sells human bones and the remains of various animals and has a small museum of artefacts, does not openly display his collection of late-term foetuses, which include a two-headed baby and various other deformed remains.

All his specimens were, he said, from the Victorian era. He also has a 12-week aborted foetus.

Referring to his two-headed foetus, Mr Hudson said that he bought it several years ago for a few hundred pounds, but he believed that its market value would now be much higher.

"I know where there's one almost identical to this, but it's got stitching down the front where they did an autopsy, and that's $10,000 (£5,500).

"There is a pair of Siamese twins at the moment, and $10,000 was the last bid I heard, which I thought was quite cheap."

"There's a place in Denmark that is selling its collection. I bid five grand on a box that was there.

"I know there are four skeletons, some foetal skeletons and a bunch of pickled stuff, including some foetus stuff, a hand, a foot and stuff like that."

Mr Hudson, who was convicted last March of smuggling the skulls of endangered monkeys into Britain from Africa, said he had little interest in fully developed foetuses, but that other buyers were.

"I draw the line at a bit bigger. I was offered two twins. They were from the States: two perfect baby foetuses - 38 weeks, something like that - and I just went 'no' . Someone will buy them. They were about £1,200 - really cheap. They were from a university." [...]

Comment: "And I think to myself, what a wonderful world". But seriously, is there ANY scope for hope for the human species? Dearest readers, won't you please prove us wrong?

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