Signs Supplement: The Suicide Bombing Cycle
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
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| "Two-thirds of Americans,"
notes Bill McKibben, "tell researchers they get 'most of their
information' about the world from television ... [Most] American homes
have TVs ... on an average of seven hours a day ... As many as 12
percent of adults (that is, one in eight) feel they are physically
addicted to the set, watching an average fifty-six hours a week."
[MCKIBBEN, p. 18] "Twenty years ago," noted Neil Postman
in 1985, "the question, Does television shape culture or merely
reflect it? held considerable interest for many scholars and social
critics. The question has largely disappeared as television has gradually
become our culture." [POWERS/ROTHMAN/ROTHMAN, p. 41]
"Most Americans are basically," noted Jewish author Herbert
Schiller in 1973,
"though unconsciously, trapped in
what amounts to a no-choice
informational bind. Variety of opinions on foreign and domestic
news or, for that matter, local community business, hardly exists
in the media. This results essentially from the inherent identity
interests, material and ideological, of property-holders (in this
the private owners of the communications media), and from the
monopolistic character of the communications industry in general."
[SCHILLER, H., p. 19]
The ABC, CBS, and NBC television and radio networks were all controlled
and developed to power by Jews: David Sarnoff at NBC, William Paley
at CBS, and Leonard Goldenson at ABC. As late as 1985, "Leonard
Goldenson, ABC's founder, was still very much in charge, and his network
... was still the Number One in America." [WILLIAMS, p 5]
Paley, the second mogul, achieved control of CBS in 1928 and headed
it for nearly the next sixty years. Early investors in the company
included other Jews of Paley's original Philadelphia home, including
Ike Levy and Jerome Louchheim. One of Paley's biographers noted that
he "had an insatiable appetite for power [SMITH, S., p. 15] ...
CBS shaped and reflected American society to a greater degree than
its rivals ... The flickering images on CBS represented the soul and
sensibility of Bill Paley." [SMITH, S., p. 16]
[Sarnoff, the third mogul] did not head RCA until thirteen years after
its founding," notes Carl Drehr, "actually, as commercial
manager, for all practical purposes he ran it almost from the beginning."
[DREHR, C. p. 52] By 1936 David Sarnoff was both president of RCA
(later CEO) and chairman of the board of NBC (he founded NBC in 1926
as a radio company). [GOLDBERG, M. H., 1976, p. 162] His son Robert
became the CEO of NBC in 1955. In 1956, says a biographer, Sarnoff
"brought the issue of nepotism [about the appointment of his
son to head NBC] in the open." "When a man stands in the
way of his son's progress," Sarnoff told an NBC staff convention,
"he is not thinking of his son, he is thinking of himself."
[LYONS, p. 312-313] "David Sarnoff," notes Edwin Emery,
"retired in 1970 to the honorary chairmanship of the Radio Corporation
of America, which he had built. RCA was a two-billion dollar business
and the largest communication organization in the world. His son Robert
became both President and Board Chairman of RCA and father and son
sat on the NBC board [a subsidiary of RCA]." [EMERY, p. 606]
"Both Paley and Sarnoff," notes Chaim Bermant, "have
shown a consistent interest in Jewish affairs. The latter was for
many years on the board of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New
York, and both he and Paley have been generous supporters of the
Weizmann Institute of Science [in Israel]." [BERMANT, C., 1977,
(The pattern of television ownership in England has been the same.
As Bermant observes: "In Britain, until 1955, radio and television
were a state monopoly ... In 1955, however, commercial television
was launched and in time comprised three networks and several smaller
regional companies. The networks, Associated-Rediffusion, Associated
Television and Granada were headed by Emil Littler, Lew Grade, and
Sidney Bernstein respectively, all of whom had spent a lifetime
in show-business ... and all three were Jewish.") [BERMANT,
C., 1977, p. 105]
Despite corporate buyouts and the labyrinthian nature of business
takeovers, restructuring, et al, Jewish management and control over
the decades has remained dominant; in 1993, for instance, the Chief
Executive Officers for the three major American television networks
and the four largest film studios were all Jews. [MACDONALD, p.
129] (In 1998, in a survey, the Anti-Defamation League solicited
opinion about the fact that "the presidents of the three national
television networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, are Jewish." [ADL,
NOV 1998] In the film world, noted J. J. Goldberg in 1996, "virtually
all the senior executives at the major studios are Jews." [GOLDBERG,
JJ, p. 288]
While Jews make up merely 2.5% of the American population, in a
1990 issue of Premiere magazine, the first thirteen individuals
identified "as the most powerful people in Hollywood,"
were Jewish. [WHITFIELD, p. 83] In the same year, as noted by American
Film magazine, the chairmen of eight of the top ten movie and television
companies were Jewish. [STAUTH, p. 44] In an October 1994 issue
of Vanity Fair, ten of eighteen deemed important faces in the changing
world of "media megacorporations" were Jews. [HALBERSTAM,
In 1999, the Los Angeles Jewish Times ran an article entitled "Yes,
Virginia, Jews Do Control the Media." "Four of the largest
five entertainment giants," it announced, "are now run
or owned by Jews. Murdoch's News Corp (at number four) is the only
gentile holdout -- however Rupert is as pro-Israel as any Jew, probably
more so." [LOS ANGELES JEWISH TIMES, p. 14] (And who is the
Executive Vice President at the News Corporation? Gary Ginsberg.)
[WEINTRAUB, B., 3-4-01] "Time-Warner, Disney, Viacom-CBS, News
Corporation and Universal rule the entertainment world in a way
that the old Hollywood studio chiefs only dreamed of," noted
the Jewish Week in 1999, "And, after all the deals and buyouts,
four of the five are run by Jews. We're back to where we started,
bigger than ever." [GOLDBERG, J.J., 9-17-99, 12]
OTTAWA - Canada's largest newspaper chain,
CanWest Global, is being criticized over its use of the word "terrorist"
in stories about the Middle East.
The owner of the National Post and dozens
of other papers across Canada is being accused of inappropriately
inserting the word into newswire copy dealing with the Middle East,
thereby changing the meaning of those stories.
One of the world's leading news agencies, Reuters, said CanWest
newspapers has been altering words and phrases in its stories dealing
with the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reuters
told CBC News it would complain to CanWest about the issue.
The global managing editor for Reuters, David Schlesinger, called
such changes unacceptable. He said CanWest
had crossed a line from editing for style to editing the substance
and slant of news from the Middle East.
"If they want to put their own judgment into it, they're
free to do that, but then they shouldn't say that it's by a Reuters
reporter," said Schlesinger.
As an example, Schlesinger cited a recent Reuters story, in
which the original copy read: "...the
al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has been involved in a four-year-old
revolt against Israeli occupation
in Gaza and the West Bank."
In the National Post version
of the story, printed Tuesday, it became: "...the al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades, a terrorist group that has
been involved in a four-year-old campaign of violence against
Neither the National Post nor CanWest returned calls.
But the Ottawa Citizen, another CanWest paper, has admitted to
making erroneous changes in a story about Iraq from another leading
Last week, the Citizen inserted the word "terrorist"
seven times into an Associated Press story on the Iraqi city of
Fallujah, where Iraqi insurgents have been battling U.S.-led occupation
In an interview, Ottawa Citizen editor Scott Anderson
conceded fighters in Fallujah were not terrorists but said CanWest
has a policy of renaming some groups as terrorists.
He added the paper had applied that term primarily to Arab groups,
and that mistakes had been made occasionally.
However, Anderson said he did not believe the paper had a duty
to inform its readers when it changed words.
"We're editing for style...,"
he said. "We're editing so that we have clear consistent language
to describe what's going on in the world. And if we've made a mistake,
we should correct that. And we will."
In response to a letter published Friday about the Fallujah article,
the Citizen wrote: "The changes to the Associated Press story
do not reflect Citizen policy, which is to use the term 'terrorist'
to describe someone who deliberately targets civilians. As such,
the changes to the Associated Press story were made in error."
Riad Saloojee, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
Canada, says the organization wants Canadian press watchdogs to
"We're going to be asking the Ontario Press Council to investigate
exactly the extent of this policy across the country in other CanWest
publications," said Saloojee.
Israel "Izzy" Harold Asper (August
11, 1932 - October 7, 2003), Canadian tax lawyer and media magnate,
was the founder of CanWest Global Communications Corp.
Asper was born in Minnedosa, Manitoba, the son of musicians who
had emigrated from the Ukraine. In 1957 he received his Bachelor
of law degree, and was called to the bar shortly thereafter. He
founded the firm of Asper, Freedman & Co. in 1959. In 1970 he
wrote The Benson Iceberg: A critical analysis of the White Paper
on Tax Reform in Canada.
Also in 1970, Asper was elected leader of the Manitoba Liberal
Party (defeating university professor John Nesbitt). Asper represented
a right-libertarian strain within the party: in the Manitoba election
of 1973, calling for the elimination of the welfare state and a
laissez-faire economy. He also advocated the public financing of
election campaigns, to ensure that politics would not be dominated
entirely by wealthy interests. The party won only five seats, and
Asper was elected in Wolseley by only four votes. He resigned as
party leader and MLA in 1975, though he continued to have an interest
in the Manitoba Liberal Party in later years.
His media empire started with the Winnipeg television station
CKND in 1975. CanWest grew to encompass the Global Television Network,
the daily newspaper National Post and over 60 other Canadian newspapers.
Asper was noted for his fierce loyalty to Manitoba, refusing enticements
to move east to Toronto. He was the leader of the Manitoba Liberal
Party from 1970 to 1975. The faculty of management at the University
of Manitoba renamed itself the Asper School of Business in 2000.
He was also a noted philanthropist, making major donations to the
arts and education; in 2001 he donated $5 million (Can) to the St.
Boniface Hospital & Research Foundation in Winnipeg. Asper became
an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995.
He was one of Canada's most prominent Jews,
and was well-known for his strong faith and support for the State
of Israel. He would occasionally pen editorials defending
the nation in his various papers. He also advocated against unaccountable
public broadcasting media, especially the CBC, which critics have
accused of simply attempting to eliminate competition to his business
and his political opinions.
Asper was also a close friend of many of Canada's
prominent political and business elites, including Jean Chretien
and Paul Martin.
He had three children, David, Leonard and Gail, all
of whom became lawyers.
Quick: What is Canada's leading media company?
You may not have heard much about CanWest Global Communications,
but given the company's recent stunning growth and troubling behavior,
you soon may.
Canada has relaxed its reluctance to allow media companies to
own both television and newspaper outlets, and that paved the way
for CanWest's biggest deal -- the purchase in 2000 from Conrad Black's
Hollinger Company of the fourteen-newspaper Southam chain. "As
a general rule, cross ownership in Canada was not allowed,"
says Peter Desbarats, the former dean of journalism at the University
of Western Ontario. "When CanWest purchased
Southam, it created a conglomeration of unprecedented scope."
The company got its start nearly thirty years ago when Israel
Asper purchased an independent TV station in North Dakota, then
relocated it to Winnipeg. Now it's a global
presence, with some 9,000 employees and broadcasting properties
in Australia, Northern Ireland, and New Zealand. The company's
Canadian portfolio includes more than 120 community papers, sixteen
television stations, seven specialty networks, and the news portal,
Canada.com, as well as fourteen English-language metropolitan dailies,
including the National Post, based in Toronto and with a daily national
circulation of 322,000.
The Southam deal between Black and the Aspers -- Israel's two
sons, Leonard and David, now run the company -- not only highlighted
a change in the power structure of Canadian media, but seemed to
confirm the fears of those who were nervous about how large media
companies might use their muscles. The Aspers
apparently have no qualms about directing media properties to fall
in ideological line.
In December 2001, CanWest ordered all its dailies to begin running
the same corporately crafted "national editorials," and
as of this January the company said it would supply them three times
a week. Many Canadian journalists feel that the required editorials
-- lower taxes and less regulation are among favorite Asper causes
-- are intrusive. Even more intrusive was
a no-rebuttal order after a national editorial last August, following
an attack on Israel by Palestinians, arguing that Canada should
back Israel no matter how it responds, "without the usual hand-wringing
criticism about 'excessive force.'"
Papers in the Southam chain were told to carry neither columns nor
letters to the editor taking issue with that editorial, according
to journalists at two Southam papers, who said the order came via
a conference call.
Meanwhile, Canadian journalists say the
Aspers have censored local columnists whose viewpoints they disagree
with. Stephen Kimber, a longtime columnist for the Halifax
Daily News, resigned in January "because a number of columns
of mine were changed to match the owner's point of view." Kimber
says he does not dispute an owner's right to express a political
position, but he disagrees with CanWest's reining in differing points
of view, especially from columnists. He also believes CanWest's
national editorials undermine the value of a local newspaper. "The
power of a newspaper," he says, "is a local perspective."
Stephanie Domet, also a Daily News columnist, wrote a piece in
support of Kimber, then quit when it was rejected. One of the Southam
chain's most popular syndicated columnists, Lawrence Martin, was
let go recently in what CanWest attributed to cost-cutting, but
which many journalists think is tied to Martin's recent critical
pieces on Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. The veteran syndicated
columnist Peter Worthington had his column terminated in the Windsor
Star after he was critical of the Aspers.
Such moves angered Montreal Gazette employees to the point where,
as of late January, seventy-seven of them had signed an open letter
in protest. The letter says: "This is an attempt to centralize
opinion to serve the corporate interests of CanWest. Far from offering
additional content to Canadians, this will practically vacate the
power of the editorial boards of Southam newspapers and thereby
reduce the diversity of opinions and the breadth of debate."
David Asper, chairman of CanWest's publications committee, in
a December speech following the Gazette staff protest, spoke of
the "bleeding hearts" of the journalistic community. "If
those people in Montreal are so committed," he said, "why
don't they just quit and have the courage of their convictions?"
All of this is giving second thoughts to some who supported media
deregulation. Desbarats, who publicly supported the Southam deal,
is rethinking the matter. He finds it "alarming" that
the company would throw its weight around so soon after regulators
awarded CanWest cross-media ownership, and after opposition forces
voiced their fears over such a concentration of media power. "My
concerns have intensified since the two sons have shown a tendency
to use their influence to get involved with the national political
debate," he says.
What's next? CanWest will inevitably expand
into the United States, according to Gordon Pitts, a Canadian
journalist working on a book about Canadian media groups. Pitts
said the Aspers envision CanWest developing into a global print,
radio, TV, and Web empire with Winnipeg as its hub.
"They realize the only way to play in this league is to truly
go international," Pitts says. "They would love
to get into the United States and pattern themselves after Tribune
or News Corp."
Toronto: As reports of censorship and pro-Israeli
media bias in Canada rage, journalists are fighting back, waging
what they call their own intifada.
“We’ve seen the ugly face of
censorship at the Gazette and … (it) looks a lot like Izzy
Asper’s,” wrote journalists at the Montreal Gazette,
the only English-language newspaper in Canada’s second largest
city, in an article protesting interference in press freedom.
The article, which used the byline “Gazette Intifada,”
was published in Media Magazine last month. Its authors are among
the dozens of prominent Canadian journalists, authors, politicians,
activists and academics who want the government to begin an inquiry
into the effects of concentrated media ownership in Canada.
According to the Gazette Intifada, the Aspers, owners
of CanWest Global Communications, have “clamped down on news,
criticism, or commentary that is anything but 100 percent pro-Israeli.”
Canada’s largest media corporation, CanWest Global Communications,
is headed by pro-Israeli ideologue Israel “Izzy” Asper.
After purchasing the Southam newspaper chain in 2000, CanWest’s
Canadian portfolio has come to include 126 community newspapers,
one of three national television networks and a major internet portal
as well as 14 major metropolitan daily newspapers including the
nationally distributed National Post. In most Canadian large cities,
CanWest runs the only daily newspaper.
Asper has made no attempt to keep his support
for Israel a secret. In a speech last year, he remarked that “Israel
is a lonely outpost of Western civilization and its values in a
sea of terrorism, corruption, dictatorship and human enslavement.”
He has also criticized the Canadian government for its “shameful
… policy on Israel, as represented by its pro-Palestinian
votes at the United Nations.”
Journalists fear Asper’s private opinions may be impacting
what the public reads. CanWest has muzzled reporters and editors
from coast-to-coast and meddled with the editorial stance of its
newspapers, particularly in their coverage of the Middle East. Charges
of censorship have not been limited to editorials and commentaries
but also include news stories. According to
local journalists, any negative coverage of Israel has been forbidden.
Concerns about CanWest’s ownership of 60 percent of Canadian
media proved legitimate when Asper dictated in December that corporate
editorials, written at the company’s headquarters in Winnipeg,
must run weekly in the 14 metropolitan dailies across Canada. The
“national editorials” would run in the space where papers
had run local editorials. The policy has since led to employee dissent
and company punitive discipline at three newspapers, according to
a report by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.
“I have not had columns (before CanWest took over) where
you’ve been talking about the Israeli issue and that’s
verboten if you don’t take the right side,” said Stephen
Kimber, a former CanWest employee, on national television. Kimber
quit his job with the Halifax Daily News when the newspaper refused
to run a commentary he had written criticizing their repeated censorship
of his columns.
A column at another newspaper was spiked because
the columnist compared the plight of Palestinians to that of aborigines
By attempting to impose censorship and clamp down on freedom of
the press, CanWest has created a strong backlash among journalists.
Gazette reporters have signed a petition protesting the abuses,
and vent their frustration in a website they set up on their own
According to Alexander Norris, Gazette reporters “have been
threatened with dismissal for anything that smacks of what CanWest
takes to be a violation of an obligation of primary fidelity to
our employer.” Norris is one of 77 Gazette reporters who have
signed an online petition in protest.
Journalists are not alone in their dissent. Pro-Palestinian students
also say the media covers their events with bias.
“When we organize activities, they’re either not covered
at all or covered from a negative perspective,” said Sami
Nazzal, head of the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR)
at Concordia University. “Regardless of the activity, the
media won’t cover it unless there is something negative, unless
there’s something to make a pro-Palestinian activist look
Nazzal gave the example of a recent SPHR-organized rally, during
which one demonstrator started to burn an Israeli flag. “It
took a few seconds before we stopped him,” said Nazzal. “But
the camera caught it, and that’s all they showed on TV. They
didn’t cover the thousands of people demonstrating.
They didn’t say why we were there or what our message was.
All they said was that we burned an Israeli flag.”
According to local journalists, letters to the editor continue
to pour in. And journalists have written collectively that despite
what they perceive as censorship, they will continue to report the
facts as they see them. “None of this has reduced our determination
one iota,” the Gazette reporters wrote.
AFTER a long, angry speech
by Winnipeg media mogul Izzy Asper, which accused most of the world's
media of being insufficiently pro-Israeli and implied that reporters
are anti-Semitic, bewildered journalists yesterday struggled to
Mr. Asper's Wednesday night speech, which was reprinted prominently
in his city papers and the National Post, effectively
positioned Mr. Asper and his newspapers to the far right of most
of the world's major media.
As with speeches he delivered last month with
former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it repeated the
Israeli Likud party's conservative and aggressively anti-Arab views.
This time, though, he named names, accusing the CBC, The New York
Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press and Reuters wire
services, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, BBC, the British Guardian, Independent,
Evening Standard and Daily Mirror newspapers, as well as ITV and
Sky News networks, and other outlets of being "lazy, or sloppy,
or stupid . . . [or] plain and simple, biased or anti-Semitic."
He singled out the CBC and its former Middle East reporter Neil
MacDonald, accusing them of providing "the most slanted and
biased information" and of routinely practising "dishonest
reporting." In particular, he demanded
that reporters in the Mideast, such as Mr. Macdonald, refer to all
Palestinian militants as "terrorists."
Tony Burman, head of the CBC-TV news division, said yesterday
that he considered Mr. Asper's opinions "bizarre," and
that he would be demanding space to respond to the accusations in
the Asper-owned papers.
"To suggest that most of the world's media
are involved in a conspiracy against Israel, it's just a totally
extreme conception on Asper's part."
He said it had been the position of the CBC and most major media
outlets for 25 years not to refer to militants on either side as
terrorists, regardless of their actions.
He also said that the CBC receives a commensurate number of complaints
from pro-Palestinian viewers about its Middle East coverage, all
of which are adjudicated by an independent ombudsman.
"There is something profoundly ironic about being told off
about media bias by someone like Izzy Asper," said Mr. Burman,
apparently referring to Mr. Asper's former practice of forcing his
city papers to print company-written editorials that expressed the
Among the titles heaped upon recently deceased
CanWest founder Israel Asper, “thug” was conspicuously
absent. Of course, one isn’t meant to speak ill of the dead,
especially the barely cold, but the damage
Asper and his gormless spawn have wrought on Canadian journalism
will doubtless be his most lasting legacy.
Even though Conrad Black and his Hollinger henchmen led the open
assault on the free press five years ago this month, the CanWest
campaign is far more blatant and unsophisticated.
For example, on Oct. 31, 2002, in the Montreal Gazette, Asper
scribbled a frothing tirade against “anti-Israel bias”
in the media. He dredged up the Jewish holocaust,
of course, and regurgitated the libel of how those who criticize
Israel are “anti-Semites” (a nonsense term); and even
advocated denying funds to universities that didn’t toe the
The source of this distemper was really Asper’s own impotence.
For all of his overwhelming control of Canada’s media, he
could not prevent others, especially the CBC, from giving Canadians
informed criticism of Israel, and not depicting Palestinians as
Asper failed to win the hearts and minds
of Canadians because they have hearts and minds, and resent being
manipulated. CanWest’s flagship paper the National
Post still haemorrhages red ink for want of readers and advertising,
and the corporate practice of filling local dailies with centralized
canned copy has created an insipid conformity.
If Asper thought this was the way to cut costs and boost readership,
he didn’t know newspapers, and that’s the point. He
wasn’t in the newspaper business—he was in the propaganda
business. He feared honest journalism, especially on Israel, and
that meant dissenting opinions had to be squashed. That is
his bequest to Canada. [...]
Living in the settler state of Canada, it's
very much standard fare that the discourse around Palestine
and the Zionists would involve the colonial mindset, and several
racist assumptions. The Globe and Mail, which of the two major national
dailies is considered the "liberal" one, offers this first
sentence to an unsigned editorial article: "Israel has long
been the United Nations' favourite punching bag." The article
is entitled "The UN's blinkers", and after much that would
seem predictable to follow, we get this final sentence: "If
the General Assembly really wanted to advance the cause of peace,
it would not be condemning Israel for responding to terrorism. It
would be condemning Mr. Arafat for fomenting it."
This is nothing particularly new. In general, all major media
outlets in Canada have basically sided with Israel, "the only
democracy in the Middle East" (and Canada can hardly get righteous
about stealing indigenous land). So on July 23rd when I received
what would have to be good news, I was quite surprised to see it
delivered favorably by none other than Christie Blatchford of the
Globe and Mail.
Dan Freeman-Maloy was summarily and without due process suspended
from all campus activity at York University in Toronto last April.
The nearly graduated, high-marks-earning 22 year old was charged
with using a megaphone on campus (many other students were doing
this, including Zionist-supporters). When
Freeman-Maloy (a Jewish student who opposes Zionism and supports
Palestinian rights) asked York University President Lorna Marsden
(a Zionist and converted-through-marriage Jewish woman) for an appeal,
the decision was said to be final-- interpreting that she could
determine the suspension unilaterally and that no appeal could be
granted. "Unauthorized sound amplification device",
indeed! Well, Freeman-Maloy wasn't about to let his name become
one of irony. He took the university to court. Reported on page
2 of the Globe two days ago (July 21), Freeman-Maloy had won the
first round, with a lame last-minute call by Marsden for a disciplinary
hearing looked upon as a "nice try". The judge saw it
as an attempt to create the appearance of proper procedure for the
student, and denoted York's procedure was hopelessly compromised.
Freeman-Maloy was to be given a chance to appeal and face a different
disciplinary tribunal than the one offered by Marsden to overturn
his outrageous sentence. This threat of a court ordered independent
judicial review caused Marsden to yesterday (July 22) rescind the
entire suspension. Now, it seems that even Freeman-Maloy's opponents
on matters political have defended him on this question, but considering
the record of the other national paper-- The National Post-- I'm
looking forward to the kinds of editorials that will inevitably
be run in defense of president Marsden's decision to persecute the
advocate for Palestinian rights.
The National Post is the flagship of the now-deceased Izzy Asper
media empire (owned and directed by son, Leonard).
More than 60% of the daily newspapers
in Canada are controlled by this proudly arch Zionist clan.
When they bought the chain --Southam News-- they immediately announced
they were going to change the editorial line in every paper to stop
"attacking Israel" and some heads rolled. Since, there
has been a total dearth of actual journalism-- so
long as their papers contents are either demeaning Arabs and in
particular Palestinians, or praising the ever-lasting virtues of
the Jewish state, the owners have given themselves the right to
print anything they want. The only thing we can be certain
of is that the violence of ultra-magnified voices will continue
to create "facts in the archives".
To understand the minds of where todays Christian Zionists want
you to go, you end up decoding their newspapers the way "sovietologists"
would once watch for shifts in tone and nuance from the pages of
Pravda. It was almost a real science. The article would come out
in Moscow, and then ten articles would immediately get written in
various universities in the United States about what this first
Soviet piece meant. This is the department
of study that gave Condoleeza Rice her first degree. To carry
out this kind of research and intelligence gathering today, but
on "our" Christian Zionists, nothing is more suitable
than the National Post. They don't mince
words on the one hand, but they are not bound by even a semblance
of the truth on the other. Please consider the case of liberal and
honest CBC reporter, Neil Macdonald-- a favourite whipping boy of
the National(ist) Post. Leonard Asper outright lied in an op-ed
calling on Canadians to try and get award winning Macdonald taken
off the air. Macdonald wisely
put the matter back in their court by responding with his written
words and facts as well as a demand for a retraction. None, of course,
was forthcoming and the matter simply faded away from the Asper
pages. Lies and falsifications get printed,
corrections do not.
On July 22nd The National Post ran an unsigned article that signified
a shift in such a manner that would be easy for a Sovietologist
to recognize. The most important thing to
note about any Asper paper is that it will not trifle with any aspect
of the Palestinian conflict without permission; if
something is printed, especially in an unsigned editorial article,
it represents the official line of the Christian Zionists at Southam
(and who also run the national Global networks on Canadian television).
Todays unsigned article was another attack on the UN General Assembly
for voting "anti-semitically"--that is, against the construction
of the apartheid wall that has stolen yet more Palestinian land.
Of course, in the National Post, such an
article wouldn't be complete without a demeaning and racist image
used to describe Arafat while mentioning nothing of the Occupation.
It was the reference to the result of the Occupation that struck
me dumb. The term wasn't new to me, but it had only been the turf
of the most violently anti-Palestinian websites, hate mail, and
letters to the editor. To start having a
major daily (which will set the standard for the editorial staff
at over 60% of the city dailies in Canada) make a casual reference
to the "disputed territories" was a definitive shift in
political line, a softening up of the
public to the idea that there will never be a Palestinian State.
Such a wording truly is as much violence as can be meted
out from so far abroad on the rights of Palestine to self-determination.
Considering that the pages of the Asper dynasty's various national
and Montreal-based newspapers were vitriolic in their attacks on
the Concordia Students Union only a couple of years ago, it will
probably now be time for them to rush to the defense of the Zionists
at York who wish to destroy the academic career of the "self-hating
Jew" Maloy. After all, he used a megaphone at a protest in
an outdoor atrium. And what were the crimes that first got the CSU
in trouble with Asper and his empire? They printed a student day-planner
agenda, among other things, that included reference to the "Zionist
controlled media". You see we must remember
that this empire decides what can be said, by who, and when-- and
when dealing with journalism, the truth is only a burden.
Every member of CanWest's election reporting
team is white. CEO Leonard Asper was in B.C. speechifying to newspaper
execs, so we asked why.
When I worked at the Vancouver Sun, not so very long ago, a reporter
with a passion for civic history had a promotional ad for the paper
tacked to the wall of his cubicle. "Meet the Vancouver Sun's
All Canadian staff of local writers" it declared. Zero "born
outside the Empire." It also trumpeted such international contributors
as Mussolini. The ad was a reflection of those in power at the time
- Monday, January 26, 1931.
Just the other day the editor of The Tyee directed my attention
to a letter on the website Straight Goods, a lefty national political
forum. It complained that in an ad promoting
CanWest Global's current election reporting team, every photo is
of a white person.
I rooted through my stack of Suns mouldering in the recycling bin
and found a version of the offending ad. There were 32 photos and
I was unable to dispute their whiteness. Nor am I able to think
of today's Vancouver Sun, owned by CanWest Global, as a multicultural
environment. When I left the paper last summer, the all-white hierarchy
of editors ran something like this: Reynolds, Graham, Munro, Muir,
Ryan, Scott, Casselton. Fralic and Bucci, maybe Cayo, were the concessions
to the world beyond the Empire.
On Thursday, CanWest president and CEO Leonard Asper came to town
to speak to the Canadian Newspaper Association's annual assembly.
He's a proud member of the Jewish minority, and I thought I should
ask him about the issue. So I trundled down to the conference at
the Hyatt. [...]
Then it was Leonard Asper's turn. He began
with an obtuse reference to Playboy, which reminded me that he once
told a reporter that his brother David's penis isn't that big.
Then he got to his meandering speech on the state of the industry.
"There's a lot of skulduggery and connivery
[sic] and thievery and nefarious behaviour, mendacity, conspiracy
... and that's just on your team." Scattered laughter.
"That's a joke by the way."
He declared that "we value our newspapers like no other thing
that is in our lives ... I think." He admitted that "we're
only now figuring out how to use the trust that Canadians have invested
Asper talked about convergence and customer relations: "We
must charge; that's our connection to our customer."
He was explaining the recent shift to making people pay for internet
access to his papers. [...]
However, Asper noted that the newspaper industry needs to "focus
on the 60 percent of the homes we are not reaching."
Many of those homes belong to recent immigrants and their families.
At the Sun, efforts to reach those readers come and go. Six or seven
years ago, under editor John Cruickshank, the issue was a priority.
Its importance waned under Neil Reynolds. Now it's waxing under
The new editorial page editor is Fazil Mihlar. Two editorial interns
are Ai Lin Choo and Ayesha Bhatty. Stories about multiculturalism
abound. But despite the Sun's best intentions, those stories still
have a whiff of "us writing about them." Building a newspaper
that reflects the world we live in requires savvy, relentless effort
to overcome institutional inertia, and that effort has often been
When the conference broke for coffee, Leonard Asper idly and unwittingly
approached me. I have a question, I said.
"Does it bother you that every member of your 32-member election
team appears to be white?"
"Ah, yes it does," he replied. But that doesn't mean that
many of the journalists who stand behind them aren't members of
visible minorities, he said, noting Global TV's diversity program.
He said seniority issues are partly to blame. Unions,
he said, make it hard to give young, culturally diverse reporters
the best assignments. He did acknowledge, when asked, that
his company's own staff cuts make the issue more difficult to address.
Asper said the problem is reflective of the industry, which lags
behind society in general. Although I am often struck by the diversity
of names I hear on CBC, I looked around the room and could not disagree.
Newspapers reflect the world in which their
TORONTO -- A lewd "prank" by media
executive David Asper has landed him and his National Post newspaper
with a $405,000 lawsuit. The suit filed by former Post reporter
Patricia Hickey alleges she was wrongfully dismissed. Asper and
the Post deny her claim.
Her firing, Hickey claims, followed an incident
where Asper, chairman of the Post and executive vice-president of
Winnipeg-based CanWest Global Communications, "made an obscene
and lewd gesture to (her) by unzipping the fly of his pants, sticking
his finger out of his pants towards (her) to make it look like he
was sticking out his penis and wiggling it."
Asper reacted with the gesture when Hickey asked him to pose for
a photo at a company reception at the National Newspaper Awards
May 3, 2003. She was covering the event.
Hickey claims her ensuing complaint about her
boss's behaviour was the catalyst for harassing workplace incidents
designed either to force her to quit or create a record to justify
her termination. She was fired in November.
The statement of defence filed in court denies any suggestion
that Hickey was forced out of the newspaper but acknowledges the
photo incident. The statement says the paper had just cause to fire
Hickey, suggesting she kept missing deadlines.
| First it was Roger Ailes, the chairman of the
Fox News Channel, who advised the US President to take the "harshest
measures possible" against those who attacked America on 11 September,
Let us forget, for a moment, that Fox News's Jerusalem bureau chief
is Uri Dan, a friend of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the
author of the preface of the new edition of Sharon's autobiography,
which includes a revolting account of the Sabra and Chatila massacre
of 1,700 Palestinian civilians and Sharon's innocence in this slaughter.
Then Ted Koppel, one of America's leading news anchormen, announced
that it may be a journalist's duty not to reveal events until the
military want them revealed in a new war against Iraq.
Can we go any further in journalistic cowardice? Oh yes, we can. ABC
television announced, a little while ago, that it knew all about the
killing of four al-Qa'ida members by an unmanned "Predator"
plane in Yemen but delayed broadcasting the news for four days "at
the request of the Pentagon." So now at least we know for whom
The Pentagon said that the murdered men--and let's not lose sight
of the "murdered" bit, though that's not the word ABC used--were
between "two to 20" of the top ranks of al-Qa'ida. Really?
So were they numbers two, three, four and five in al-Qa'ida? Or numbers
17,18,19 and 20? Who cares? The press are onside. Don't ask who is
resisting forthcoming US censorship of the Iraq war. Ask who is first
to climb aboard the bandwagon.
In Canada, the situation is even worse. Canwest, owned by Israel Asper,
owns over 130 newspapers in Canada, including 14 city dailies and
one of the country's largest papers, the National Post. His "journalists"
have attacked colleagues who have deviated from Mr Asper's pro-Israel
editorials. As Index on Censorship reported, Bill Marsden, an investigative
reporter for the Montreal Gazette has been monitoring Canwest's interference
with its own papers. "They do not want any criticism of Israel,"
he wrote. "We do not run in our newspaper op-ed pieces that express
criticism of Israel and what it is doing in the Middle East..."
But now, "Izzy" Asper has written a gutless and repulsive
editorial in the Post in which he attacks his own journalists, falsely
accusing reporters of "lazy, sloppy or stupid" journalism
and being "biased or anti-Semitic". These vile slanders
are familiar to any reporter trying to do his work on the ground in
the Middle East.
They are made even more revolting by inaccuracies.
Mr Asper, for example, claims that my colleague Phil Reeves compared
the Israeli killings in Jenin earlier this year--which included a
goodly few war crimes (the crushing to death of a man in a wheelchair,
for example)--to the "killing fields of Pol Pot". Now Mr
Reeves has never mentioned Pol Pot. But Mr Asper wrongly claims that
It gets worse. Mr Asper, whose "lazy, sloppy or stupid"
allegations against journalists in reality apply to himself, states--in
the address to an Israel Bonds Gala Dinner in Montreal, which formed
the basis of his preposterous article--that "in 1917, Britain
and the League of Nations declared, with world approval, that a Jewish
state would be established in Palestine". Now hold on a moment.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 did not say that a Jewish state would
be established. It said that the British government would "view
with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for
the Jewish people." The British refused to use the words "Jewish
This may not matter much to lazy writers like Mr Aspen. But when it
comes to the League of Nations being involved, we really are into
mythology. The League of Nations was created after the First World
War--had it existed in 1917, it might have stopped the whole war--and
Mr Asper is simply wrong (or, as he might have put it, "lazy,
sloppy or stupid") to suggest it existed in 1917. At no point,
of course, does Mr Asper tell us about Israeli occupation or the building
of Jewish settlements, for Jews and Jews only, upon Arab land. He
talks about "alleged Palestinian refugees"--about as wrongheaded
a remark as you can get--and then claims that the corrupt and foolish
Yasser Arafat is "one of the world's cruel and most vicious terrorists
for the past 30 years".
He concluded his speech to Israel's supporters in Montreal with the
dangerous request that "you, the public, must take action against
the media wrongdoers".
Wrongdoers? Is this far from President Bush's "evildoers"?
What in the hell is going on here?
I will tell you. Journalists are being attacked for telling the truth,
for trying to tell it how it is. American journalists especially.
I urge them to read a remarkable new book published by the New York
University Press and edited by John Collins and Ross Glover. It's
called Collateral Language and is, in its own words, intended to expose
"the tyranny of political rhetoric". Its chapter titles--"Anthrax",
"Cowardice", "Evil", "Freedom", Fundamentalism",
"Justice", "Terrorism", Vital Interests"
and--my favourite--"The War on..." (fill in the missing
country) tell it all.
Meanwhile, rest assured, the journalists are getting onside, to tell
you the story the government wants you to hear.
In their homes, in the street, in UN-run
schools, Palestinian youth are not safe from Israeli bullets
Raghda Alassar's classmates did not hear the Israeli bullet that
tore into the nine-year-old's brain as she wrote an English test.
But as a pool of blood spread across her desk and spilled on to
the floor, a wall of screams rose from the classroom of the UN elementary
school for girls in Khan Yunis.
At that point Raghda was still crying for help. By the time she
was hauled into the trauma room of a neighbouring hospital she was
For five crucial days the army blocked Raghda's transfer to an
Israeli hospital with the facilities to offer a glimmer of hope.
An infection set in.
On Tuesday doctors told her father, Adnad, that she was brain
"The bullet entered under her eye and went out the back of
her head," Mr Alassar said.
"It took them a long time to stop the bleeding, and her heart
stopped and they gave her shocks. From that moment she was like
a dead body, although she wasn't dead."
"I find it so difficult to believe what
happened to my daughter. She was at school, just carrying her notebook,
not a gun. What is my daughter - nine years old - guilty of that
she has to be shot? It's state terror against the whole population."
In recent weeks the Israelis have again been preoccupied with
terrorism, from the murder of 16 people in the Beersheba bus bombings
to the slaughter of Russian schoolchildren in Beslan, which received
During the six months of relative peace
for Israelis, until the Beersheba bombings, the army killed more
than 400 Palestinians. Most were fighters, but
they also included about 40 children under 15. Palestinians
say this also is a form of terror.
"We're always listening for the helicopters, listening for
the tanks, listening for the bombs," said Khitam abu Shawarib,
the only social worker in Rafah refugee camp, on the southern tip
of the Gaza Strip.
"I am very sorry when I hear of a
Jewish woman or children killed. I think it is wrong and many people
here think it is wrong. But what the
Jews suffer is nothing to the terror we live with from them.
"It takes such a toll on our health, on society, most of
all on the children."
Israelis live in fear of random attacks, principally the suicide
bombing of buses and cafes, and shootings in the occupied territories.
But they are generally safe in their homes and are more likely to
be killed in a road accident than by a bomb.
In southern Gaza and parts of the West Bank there is often no
sanctuary from the seemingly relentless, indiscriminate Israeli
Israel classifies Gaza Strip towns such as Rafah and Khan Yunis,
and Nablus and Jenin in the West Bank, as war zones.
That, the army says, justifies the firing of powerful sophisticated
weapons into residential areas or the bulldozing of scores of homes
each month, ostensibly in search of rarely discovered tunnels for
smuggling in weapons.
Barely a night passes in Rafah or Khan Yunis without the machine-gun
fire that has shredded hundreds of homes, forcing families to sleep
in a single inner room behind bricked up windows or a second wall.
Others live in the rubble of their bulldozed houses, perpetually
in the firing line from the rarely seen soldiers high in the gun
A fortnight ago 15-year-old Mazen al-Ara was trying to lead his
siblings away from tanks and heavy shooting around their house on
the edge of the "Philadelphi Road", the highly militarised
border at Rafah.
The army had partially destroyed the family home months before,
but the Aras went on living there because they had no money to move.
Usually they sheltered in an inner room when the shooting began,
but that night it was so intense that Mazen said they would all
be killed if they stayed.
As he led the terrified group into the
street, Mazen was caught by a burst of fire. The
boy died; doctors took 18 bullets from his body.
A few days earlier 10-year-old Munir al-Daqas left his home in
Jabalya refugee camp to visit his grandparents' house five minutes'
walk away. Israeli tanks were on the far side of the camp, but no
one saw any danger in the heart of Jabalya, around its bustling
market, in daylight.
"It must have been a sniper," his mother, Kifah, said.
"People told me as I was shopping in the market. I couldn't
believe it. Munir was just there with me and now they were saying
he was dead."
Mrs Daqas unfolded a picture of the semi-naked body of her son
in his grave. There is a bullet wound in the chest and another in
In four years of intifada, the Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights says, the army has killed 136 children in
Rafah and Khan Yunis, a quarter of all the Palestinian children
who have died during the uprising, because of its "indiscriminate
shooting, excessive force, a shoot-to-kill policy and the deliberate
targeting of children".
The dead in Khan Yunis and Rafah in recent weeks also include
two 12-year-old boys, a 15-year-old girl and a 75-year-old man in
a wheelchair, Ibrahim Halfalla, who was crushed under the rubble
of his own home by an army bulldozer as his wife begged the soldiers
not to advance.
The army has not offered an explanation for the killing of Raghda
Alassar, but it frequently says that child victims are caught in
crossfire during Palestinian attacks on the army or Jewish settlers.
There were no such battles when Raghda Alassar and Munir Daqas
were hit. Or when a bullet pierced the blind of Sara Zorob's living
room and struck the 10-year-old in the chest, killing her instantly.
Commanders in Gaza have admitted in the past that when their soldiers
are attacked they are allowed to fire back randomly, risking civilian
There are other young victims, as well.
"The children who are physically injured are not the only
ones harmed," said Usama Freona, a psychologist at the UN clinic
"The levels of violence children are
exposed to is horrific.
"We work in a lot of schools to treat the children. In the
one next to Kfar Darom [a Jewish settlement in Gaza], all the children
are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of them
were crying and shaking when they were speaking about their experiences.
There is a lot of bedwetting."
Mohammed abu Yusuf is the counsellor at Raghda Alassar's school.
"After Raghda was shot," he said, "the children were
crying and screaming. Five girls in her class still won't come back
to school. We took Raghda's desk away and brought another but none
of the students will sit at it."
Raghda Alassar is not the first child shot at the cluster of UN
schools in Khan Yunis. Last year an Israeli bullet blinded Huda
Darwish, 12, as she sat at her desk.
Mrs Daqas said her other children could not comprehend Munir's
"Munir's younger brother doesn't understand he is dead. He
thought he would come back after the funeral and kept asking why
Munir has come when we've had 'the party' for him. His four-year-old
sister asks every day if we can search the market because Munir
must be lost," she said.
Mr Freona said the constant violence begets violence.
"Look at the games children play. Most of the boys play Arabs
and Jews. Many want to play the role of the Jews. They see that
the Israeli soldiers are the ones with the guns and they are strong
and they see that is the most important thing," he said.
"They see guns as the source of power, the
solution to dealing with any problem, the way to get what they want."
With that has come a collapse in respect for authority.
The image of Mohammed al-Dura, the 12-year-old Gaza boy shot as
his father vainly tried to protect him from Israeli gunfire in the
first days of the latest intifada, is seared on the Palestinian
It has come to symbolise what they see as the callous indifference
of Israeli forces to the lives of their children. But Mrs Abu Shawarib
said it had a further impact on many children, who saw that a father
was unable to protect his son.
"The respect for authority is shattered because children
see their fathers beaten in front of them," she said. "The
authority of the father, who used to just have to utter one word
for the child to obey, is shattered. The father looks helpless to
protect the child and the child thinks they are alone."
Another result of the perpetual killing was that
many children came to expect an early death and to welcome the prospect
of becoming a "martyr".
"The martyr is in paradise, he has glory here and in the
afterlife where it is so much better than life in Rafah," she
said. "The children see many people killed, so they come to
expect to be killed. This is horrible, that children should accept
the possibility of death."
"Much of the type of demonisation
of Palestinians as “terrorists” going on today under
Sharon the Prime Minister, is a continuation of the rhetoric of
1982 by Sharon the Defence Minister."
Since 9/11, it appears that the month of September is overshadowed
by the tragic event that rocked New York.
From that moment, the likudniks in the Bush administration known
as neocons, seized the opportunity to completely subvert American
As a consequence they plundered two sovereign states and with
their “shock and awe” brutality gave the world new challenges.
Apart from detention without trial in Guantanamo Bay, whereby hundreds
of people have been incarcerated as “terrorists”, they
also shocked the world with the abuse and torture of inmates in
In the process, fresh research and information is now beginning
to emerge not only to challenge the gravely distorted reasons for
the neocon’s “war on terror”, but
also the uncomfortable reality that the likudniks have ensured that
Israel remains the prime beneficiary of all the death and destruction
in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The paradox is that for the Palestinians, the month of September
also evokes painful memories of a horrible massacre perpetrated
under the direct command of the current Israeli premier Ariel Sharon.
Historian Sami Hadawi has recorded that the
1982 massacre at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon,
like the 1948 massacre at Deir Yassin was a cold, calculated atrocity.
The heinous nature of the crime committed
by Sharon’s proxy militias, the Phalangists, has been depicted
as barbaric in the extreme.
Hence the nightmare of Sabra and Shatila has served
to depict Sharon as the “Butcher of Beirut”. In addition
his Defence Force members have been described as those that “slaughter
children” and as those that “rip open pregnant women’s
stomachs”. More chilling is the account of them “betting
on the sex of the embryos”.
This cruelty is in reference to a gruesome practice that was enacted
in the massacres, according to the accounts
of several eyewitnesses who saw fetuses placed on stakes at the
site of the massacre.
Edward Said viewed this carnage as a concerted, deliberate attempt
to strip Palestinians of their national identity.
Much of the type of demonisation of Palestinians as “terrorists”
going on today under Sharon the Prime Minister, is a continuation
of the rhetoric of 1982 by Sharon the Defence Minister. In
utter contempt of the Palestinian national struggle, Sharon and
his colleagues, including Menachem Begin viewed Palestinians as
two-legged beasts, making it easier to slaughter them and pretend
that they were doing humanity a huge favour.
The slaughter at Sabra and Shatila of thousands of innocent refugees
flowed from Likud’s callous disregard of Palestinians as real
people with a real history.
So while the world is pre-occupied with America’s “war
on terror” following 9/11, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories
as well as in Lebanon would correctly question the morality of countries
such as the United States which underwrite aid to Israel to the
tune of billions of dollars in addition to supplying arms and weapons
of mass destruction.
| British officials believe US President
George Bush went to war in Iraq last year because he wanted to complete
his father's unfinished business.
Quoting leaked documents, London's Daily Telegraph reported on
Saturday that a senior Foreign Office official felt the war was
more of a grudge match between Bush and the former Iraqi ruler Saddam
"Even the best survey of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
programme will not show much advance in recent years," the
official said in the memo.
"Military operations need clear and compelling military objectives.
For Iraq's regime change does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge
match between Bush and Saddam".
Downing Street said it would not comment on the leaked documents,
but added the government "firmly believes that Iraq is a better
place for the removal of Saddam Hussein".
The US, aided by British and other allies, invaded Iraq last year
on the basis that Baghdad had banned weapons of mass destruction,
although no biological or chemical weapons have been found till
Bush's father was president during the first Gulf War when a US-led
coalition freed Kuwait in 1991, and then drove Saddam's forces back
into Iraq before withdrawing.
The leaked papers also showed that officials, including the British
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, expressed concern about possible chaos
in a post-Saddam Iraq.
"No one has satisfactorily answered how there can be any certainty
that the replacement regime will be any better," the Telegraph
quoted Straw as saying in a note to Prime Minister Tony Blair marked
''Secret and Personal''.
After weeks of hurricanes
and controversies over swift boats in Vietnam and Texas and Alabama
National Guard records, Iraq is beginning to creep back onto the
front pages, and the news is uniformly bad.
WASHINGTON, Sep 16 (IPS) - Consider some of the headlines in major
newspapers that appeared on their front pages on Wednesday alone:
Wall Street Journal: ”Rebel Attacks Reveal New Cooperation:
Officials Fear Recent Rise in Baghdad Violence Stems from Growing
Baltimore Sun: ”In Iraq, Chance for Credible Vote is Slipping
Philadelphia Inquirer: ”Outlook: The Growing Insurgency Could
Doom U.S. Plans for Iraq, Analysts Say”.
Washington Post: ”U.S. Plans to Divert Iraq Money: Attacks
Prompt Request to Move Reconstruction Funds to Security Forces”.
And then Thursday:
USA Today: ”Insurgents in Iraq Appear More Powerful Than
New York Times: ”U.S. Intelligence Shows Pessimism on Iraq's
Future: Civil War Called Possible -- Tone Differs from Public Statements”.
All of which tended to confirm the conclusion of the latest 'Newsweek'
magazine's Iraq feature: ”It's Worse Than You Think”.
Against these stories
-- putting aside the other headlines detailing deadly suicide and
other attacks that have killed scores of Iraqis in the past week
-- Bush's insistence in a campaign
address to a convention of the National Guard Tuesday that ”our
strategy is succeeding” appears awfully hollow, a point
made repeatedly not only by Democratic, but by some Republican lawmakers
at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday.
”It's beyond pitiful, it's beyond embarrassing,” noted
Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who has long been sceptical
of administration claims that the Iraq occupation was going well.
”It is now in the zone of dangerous.”
Indeed, it is now very difficult to find any analysts outside of
the administration or the Bush campaign who share the official optimism.
Consider the case of Michael O'Hanlon, a defence specialist at
the Brookings Institution and former National Security Council aide
who has been among the most confident of independent analysts of
the basic soundness of Washington's strategy in Iraq.
”In my judgment the administration is basically correct that
the overall effort in Iraq is succeeding,” he testified to
a Congressional panel just 10 months ago. ”By the standards
of counterinsurgency warfare, most factors, though admittedly not
all, appear to be working to our advantage.”
This week, however, O'Hanlon, who has developed a detailed index
periodically published in the New York Times that measures U.S.
progress in post-war Iraq, was singing an entirely different song
at a forum sponsored by Brookings and the Center for Strategic and
International Studies (CSIS).
”We're in much worse shape than I thought
we'd ever be,” he said. ”I don't know how you get it
back,” he conceded, adding that his last remaining
hope was that somehow the U.S. could train enough indigenous Iraqi
security forces within two to three years to keep the country ”cohesive”
and permit an eventual U.S. withdrawal. ”A Lebanonisation
of Iraq” was also quite possible, he said.
His conclusion was echoed by his CSIS co-panelists, Frederick Barton
and Bathsheba Crocker, who direct their own index that relies heavily
on interviews with Iraqis themselves in measuring progress in reconstruction
According to the five general criteria used by them, movement over
the past 13 months has for the most part been ”backward”,
particularly with respect to security which they now consider to
be squarely in the ”danger” zone.
”Security and economic problems continue
to overshadow and undermine efforts across the board”, including
health care, education and governance, according to a report their
project released last week. Among other things, it noted that despite
a massive school-building and rehabilitation programme, children
are increasingly dropping out to help their families survive an
economy where almost half the working population remains unemployed.
The growing media chorus of despair actually began just one week
ago, a few days after the brilliantly staged Republican convention
in New York City had ended, when the U.S. military death toll in
Iraq since last year's invasion topped the 1,000 mark, and the New
York Times published a front-page article entitled ”U.S. Conceding
Rebels Control Regions of Iraq”.
Since then, a number of articles have featured the
increasing violence of the insurgency, which is now mounting an
average of more than 80 attacks on U.S. targets -- four times the
number of one year ago and 25 percent higher than last spring, when
the U.S. faced serious uprisings in both the Sunni Triangle and
in the south.
Washington officials had predicted that attacks would increase
sharply just before the transfer of sovereignty from the U.S.-dominated
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to the interim government
headed by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in late June and would tail
But, as noted by a front-page article in the Washington Post late
last week, more U.S. troops were killed in July and August than
during the initial invasion in March and April 2003. Injuries suffered
by U.S. troops in August alone were twice what they were during
The escalation in violence over the summer is now being attributed
by administration officials to the insurgents' efforts to derail
the elections, currently scheduled for January.
The increased violence -- particularly in Baghdad
and the so-called ”Sunni Triangle” where Falluja, Ramadi,
Baquba and Samarra, among other towns, are controlled by insurgents
-- has created a serious dilemma for administration strategists
who, on the one hand, reject the notion that there are ”no-go”
areas for U.S. troops, and, on the other, want to keep U.S. casualties
down and off the front pages and U.S. television sets, particularly
before the November elections here.
As a result, they appear to have settled on a strategy -- bombing
suspected insurgent hideouts from the air -- that further alienates
the civilian population.
”I don't believe that you can flatten cities and expect to
win popular support,” noted CSIS' Barton.
”This is the classic contradiction of counterinsurgency,”
Steven Metz, a strategy specialist at the U.S. Army War College,
told the Inquirer. ”In the long term, winning the people matters
more. But it may be that in the short term, you have to forgo that
in order to crush the insurgents. Right now, we are trying to decide
whether we have reached that point. In Vietnam, we waited too long.”
Meanwhile, both independent and U.S. military analysts believe
that the insurgency, which the administration still insists is made
up only of Baathist ”dead-enders”, foreign ”jihadis”,
and criminals, has grown from an estimated 5,000 people one year
ago to at least 20,000 and possibly significantly more.
”The bottom line is, at this moment we are losing the war”,
Col Andrew Bacevich (ret.) of Boston University told USA Today Thursday.
”That doesn't mean it is lost, but we are losing, and as an
observer it is difficult for me to see that either the civilian
leaderhsip or the military leadership has any plausible idea on
how to turn this around”.
Madrid, Spain, Sep. 15 (UPI)
-- Before the Iraqi war, Europe's principal intelligence services
shared the Bush administration's view that Saddam Hussein was hiding
his stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.
Today, these same services disagree with the White House on several
Off the record conversations with intelligence chiefs in five major
European countries -- each with multiple assets in Iraq -- showed
remarkable agreement on these points:
-- The neo-con objectives for restructuring Iraq into a functioning
model democracy were a bridge too far. They were never realistic.
-- The plan to train Iraqi military and security forces in time
to cope with a budding insurgency before it spun out of control
-- The insurgency has mushroomed from 5,000 in the months following
the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime to an estimated 20,000
today, which is still growing. Insurgents are targeting green Iraqi
units and volunteers for training and some have already defected
to the rebels.
-- Iraqi soldiers trained by the United States are complaining
that the equipment ordered by the U.S. from the Ukraine that is
being assigned to them gives them "2nd class status."
-- To cope with the insurgency, the United States requires 10 times
the rebel strength -- or some 200,000 as a bare minimum. Short of
that number, the insurgency will continue to gain momentum. The
multiple is based on the British experience in Northern Ireland
for a quarter of a century as well as France's civil war in Algeria
(1954-62), when nationalist guerrillas were defeated militarily,
but won the war diplomatically. France deployed half a million men
to defeat the fellaghas in Algeria.
-- The U.S. occupation has lost control of large swathes of Iraq
where the insurgency operates with virtual impunity.
-- Iraq was a diversion from the war on a global movement that
was never anchored in Baghdad.
-- Iraq does not facilitate a solution to the Mideast crisis. And
without such a solution, the global terrorist movement will continue
-- Iraq has become a magnet for would-be Muslim jihadis the world
over; it has greatly facilitated transnational terrorism.
-- Charting a course out of the present chaos requires an open-ended
commitment to maintain U.S. forces at the present level and higher
through 2010 or longer.
-- The once magnificent obsession about building a model Arab democracy
in Iraq now has the potential of a Vietnam-type quagmire.
-- Everything now undertaken in Iraq is palliative to tide the
administration over the elections.
-- What is urgently needed, whether a Bush II administration or
a Kerry White House, is for the world's great democracies to meet
at the summit to map a common strategy to confront a global challenge.
The war on terrorism -- on the terrorists who have hijacked Islam
-- is only one part of a common approach for (1) the defense of
Western democracies and (2) the gradual transformation of an Arab
world that must be assisted out of poverty, despair and defeat.
-- A war on terrorism without a global strategy, which must include
the funding of major educational reforms in poor countries like
Pakistan, where wannabe jihadis are still being churned out by the
hundreds of thousands, could only lead to the gradual erosion of
Western democratic structures.
-- The "war on terror" is a misnomer that is tantamount
to rhetorical disinformation. One can no more fight terrorism than
one could declare war on Hitler's Panzers in World War II or Dreadnoughts
in World War I. Terrorism is a weapons system that has been used
time and again for the last 5,000 years. The root causes are the
problem, not the weapon.
-- To ignore the causes is to guarantee escalation -- to weapons
of mass destruction.
CAIRO, Sept. 18 (Xinhuanet)
-- The Tawhid and Jihad group of suspected al Qaida ally Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi has threatened to kill two US hostages and one British
hostage seized in Baghdad, the Al Jazeera television said Saturday.
SEOUL - North Korea has taken foreign diplomats
to a construction site that it says was the source of a mushroom-shaped
cloud that led last week to speculation of a nuclear explosion in
However, the dam construction site in Samsu County that the diplomats
visited was 100 kilometres away from Kimhyungjik County, the site
of the mushroom-shaped cloud first reported by South Korean media
on Sept. 12.
North Korea had said all along it was dynamiting a mountain as
part of a big hydro-electric project.
The confusion about goings-on in secretive,
totalitarian North Korea was furthered on Friday when the South
Korean government said it believed the cloud might not have been
caused by an explosion at all.
"We believe that there was no explosion in the place where
intelligence authorities had previously suspected that there were
signs of an explosion," said Lee Bong-Jo, South Korea's vice-minister
"We believe that the explosion described
by North Korea took place in Samsu County, about 100 kilometres
from the originally suspected site, and has to do with a hydroelectric
project," Lee added.
North Korea – one of three countries that U.S. President
George W. Bush designated members of an "axis of evil"
– is believed to have a nuclear weapons program.
Foreign media during the past week jumped on the story of the
mysterious cloud, because North Korea has been resisting pressure
to re-join international talks about curbing nuclear tensions in
North Korea, however, has claimed South Korea was using the muddled
story as a means of distracting from embarrassing recent revelations
that its own scientists had produced tiny amounts of enriched uranium.
These revelation had ignited fears that
South Korea, too, might again be harbouring nuclear ambitions.
In reaction, North Korea said, it was now all the more determined
to pursue its nuclear program.
In April, a massive explosion in a northern town near the Chinese
border killed more than 100 North Koreans and wounded thousands
more. The country took three days to admit anything at all had happened
WASHINGTON (AP)--U.S. officials got a wake-up
call last month about the need to screen airline passengers for
explosives when two Chechen women apparently carried bombs onto
two Russian planes and blew them up.
Bags checked onto planes in the United States must pass through
machines that can detect various kinds of explosives. But neither
the walk-through metal detectors that passengers use on the way
to gates nor the X-ray machines for carryon bags can detect plastic
The Transportation Security Administration announced Thursday
that, starting next week, all passengers
must take off jackets before passing through metal detectors. Also,
more travelers will be subjected to pat-down searches and checks
Rafi Ron, former head of
security at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport and now a security consultant
in Washington, said the steps were "something we've
been expecting for too long, but finally it's coming.''
Screeners will advise passengers of the new procedures when they
put their carryon bags on the conveyor belt, agency spokeswoman
Yolanda Clark said.
Every passenger selected for secondary screening
after passing through metal detectors will have their carryon items
subjected to checks by explosives trace detectors.
Screeners also have more discretion to conduct pat-down searches
and check carryon bags for bombs.
Air Travelers Association President David Stempler said the changes
are a good idea, though some passengers could be upset by hand searches.
"Given the extraordinary need for it--given the recent bombing
of the planes in Russia, heightened security alerts, tension leading
up to the election--I think these are necessary evils that passengers
have to put up with,'' he said.
The Sept. 11 commission recommended in its final report that the
government make it a priority to improve the ability to detect explosives
on passengers at security checkpoints.
"As a start, each individual selected for special screening
should be screened for explosives,'' the report said.
The agency also is testing walk-through
bomb-detection machines at five airports. Document scanners
that can pick up explosives residue on boarding passes and IDs are
being tested at Washington Reagan National Airport.
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - An oil pipeline exploded
near Nigeria's largest city as thieves tried to siphon oil from
it, with up to 50 people perishing in the flames, police said Friday.
"People were stealing fuel from the pipeline when it caught
fire and exploded," police spokesman Emmanuel Ighodalo said
of the blast Thursday in Amore, a village across a wide lagoon from
Lagos, a city of 13 million people.
At least 30 charred bodies of victims have been recovered and
more still littered the swamps and waterways surrounding the site
of the explosion, making it likely the death toll could reach 50,
Giant tongues of flame coming from the pipeline scorched the nearby
vegetation while large plumes of smoke billowed skywards at the
Eight bodies, some burned beyond recognition, still lay at the
scene, not yet collected by recovery workers.
The pipeline, run by state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,
pumps imported fuel from the Lagos sea port to western Nigeria.
Company officials said the pipeline pumps had been turned off
to help firefighters, increasing the likelihood of fuel scarcity
in parts of Nigeria.
"Our priority is to put out the fire so we can fix the pipeline,"
an official overseeing a team of firefighters at the site said,
speaking on condition of anonymity.
The closed pipeline wasn't expected to affect the amount of petroleum
sent from Nigeria, Africa's largest exporter of crude and a member
Amore residents, including some survivors who escaped the explosion
with injuries, fled fearing police arrest, said Ighodalo.
Armed police and navy troops kept watch over the village, emptied
of its estimated 1,000 inhabitants.
One area resident, Tony Nwanma, quoted some survivors as saying
a power generator used by the thieves to pump gasoline from the
pipeline had caught fire, causing the explosion.
In the past, similar explosions occurred when villagers unwittingly
ignited highly combustible petroleum as they collected it from ruptured
pipelines. A 1998 pipeline blast killed over 1,000 in southern Nigeria.
Stealing valuable oil from pipelines is common in Nigeria, where
most inhabitants are deeply impoverished despite Nigeria's oil riches.
| Global Eye
By Chris Floyd
Published: September 17, 2004
By the time the dynastic manipulations of
his family put Tiberius Caesar in power, the Roman Republic had
long been a gutted carcass. Although the outward lineaments of state
retained many of the old forms of popular government, behind these
bones and tatters of hide there was nothing left but pestilent corruption
and vicious court intrigue.
Tiberius -- a cynical mediocrity overwhelmed by his responsibilities
but too weak to give up the privileges that attended them -- knew
full well the brutal reality that the ruling elite kept hidden beneath
layers of pious sham and patriotic cant. When he saw how the great
Senate -- where giants once clashed in fierce, open debate -- would
come crawling to him, bowing and scraping, eager to act on his every
whim, to accept his most brazen lies as sacred truth, he could not
contain his disgust. "Men fit to be slaves," he would
mutter, as they bent once again to his will.
No doubt the saturnine old ghost was smiling with grim satisfaction
last week as another once-great deliberative body debased itself
before a mediocre dynast. In one of the more shameless in a long
series of vile and craven acts, the Republican-dominated U.S. House
of Representatives smeared partisan filth across a legislative memorial
to the innocents murdered on Sept. 11, 2001, by conflating that
national tragedy with George W. Bush's war of aggression against
The Bushist toadies couldn't simply mark the solemn occasion with
a few appropriate words of common grief and resolve. Instead, they
turned the resolution into a tribute to the Dear Leader, larding
it with praise for Bush's "reorganizing" of the United
States (that old Constitutional malarkey had to go) "in order
to more effectively wage the Global War on Terrorism" -- including,
of course, the "destruction" of the "terrorist regime"
in Iraq. Yet while the capture of Dick Cheney's former business
partner, Saddam Hussein, was given prominent play in the resolution,
the actual perpetrator of the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden,
was never mentioned.
Thus this witless assemblage of bagmen and bootlickers (including,
as usual, the vast majority of Democratic jellyfish) officially
affirmed Bush's blood libel, his Hitlerian Big Lie: the supposed
connection between Saddam and 9/11. "You can't distinguish
between al Qaida and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror,"
Bush said in September 2002, when rolling out what his staff called
the "product" -- i.e. a calculated campaign of fear and
deception to drive the nation into war. "We've eliminated an
ally of al Qaida," he declared in May 2003, while prancing
about in military drag during his infamous "Mission Accomplished"
speech. Bush and his minions have pounded this mendacious war drum
so often, in so many ways, that even now, up to 50 percent of Americans
still believe that Saddam was involved directly or indirectly in
the 9/11 attacks -- although this canard was debunked yet again
last week, this time by Colin Powell, The Washington Post reports.
These lies have already led to the deaths of more than a thousand
American troops -- and more than 30,000 innocent Iraqi civilians:
a murderous hurricane 10 times the size of the storm that struck
America on 9/11. Yet still the toadies crawled before the unelected
pipsqueak, the oath-breaking coward who walked away from his own
military service during wartime but now press-gangs soldiers into
combat even after they've fulfilled their sworn duty requirements.
The House measure slavishly regurgitated Bush's ludicrous assertion
that the attack by Mr. Unnameable and his al Qaida crew was an assault
on "the principles and values of the American people."
But Bush knows that bin Laden doesn't care one way or another about
American "values and principles," just as he didn't care
about Soviet "principles and values" when he and the CIA
were feasting on Red meat in Afghanistan back in the day. It's not
"principles" but power politics that fuel bin Laden's
aggression -- the same as with Bush. And both men's ultimate goal
is the same: domination of the world's oil supply, which will bring
them and their cronies untold riches and the power to further advance
their harsh, perverted visions of society and religion. As we've
said before, the "war on terror" is not a "clash
of civilizations" or a "battle for freedom" -- it's
a falling out among thieves, a gang fight over juicy turf.
The Congressional toadies are right about one thing, however:
America's principles and values are under ferocious assault. But
the assailant is their own little tin-pot Tiberius. Last week saw
more damning revelations of the torture regime that Bush and his
chief warlord, Donald Rumsfeld, have spread across the face of the
earth. Seymour Hersh's new book, "Chain of Command," lays
out in bone-chilling detail the system of assassination, sadism,
rape and psycho-terror established by Bush, who issued secret presidential
directives lifting legal constraints and even administrative oversight
on his hit men and torturers. The dark heart of this black-op beast
is the "Special-Access Program," created by Bush and Rumsfeld
in late 2001 and sent forth with this sinister dictum, according
to top intelligence officials: "Grab whom you must. Do what
These are the true "principles and values" that Bush
is defending in his toady-lauded "war on terror" -- values
he shares with his cave-dwelling doppelganger, Osama. Each uses
the other to justify his own outrages, each feeds on the other to
fuel his own bloodlust and political ambitions. Only a fool, or
a hireling -- or a slave -- would bend to the will of such loathsome
WASHINGTON - Campaign mail with
a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West
Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry
men if liberals win in November.
The literature shows a Bible with the word "BANNED" across
it and a photo of a man, on his knees, placing a ring on the hand
of another man with the word "ALLOWED." The mailing tells
West Virginians to "vote Republican to protect our families"
and defeat the "liberal agenda."
SPRING CITY, Tenn. (AP)--Heavy rain and wind
from what was once Hurricane Ivan assaulted the southern Appalachian
Mountains on Friday, washing away homes and killing at least 10
people in the region.
Hundreds of thousands of people lost power, and flash flood warnings
stretched along the mountain chain from northern Georgia up to southern
Ohio and western West Virginia.
Already, water swamped businesses in Tennessee, Georgia and North
Carolina. Major flooding and 3.7 inches of rain were reported in
Asheville, N.C. The city of 69,000 was also hard-hit in Hurricane
Frances' aftermath last week, losing drinking water for days.
About 20 miles west, in the rural Canton area, water rose as high
as 4 feet inside a convenience store, and a paper plant was again
"We've been working two weeks trying to get it back running,''
said Earl Medley, a contractor at the plant.
In rural eastern Tennessee, rushing water from a creek cascaded
through Spring City, breaking out storefront windows, carrying away
merchandise and leaving behind a muck of mud and debris.
Mayor Mary Sue Garrison said a Coke machine also went floating
down the street. "It was just really, really terrible,'' said
Garrison, wearing a yellow rain slicker as she walked through the
Business owners were spending the morning shoveling the soggy
mess out of their establishments.
"It's a complete disaster area,'' Officer B.J. Neal said.
"We've had homes completely destroyed. We've had homes washed
in the lakes.''
Garrison said gauges in the town, which has a population of about
2,000, showed 8 1/2 inches of rainfall since Thursday. But no serious
injuries were reported. [...]
Ivan, now a tropical depression, was blamed for three deaths in
northern Georgia, including a 6-year-old girl who was swept away
in flooding in Cleveland. She died despite a rescue attempt by her
teenage sister, who herself had to be saved by a neighbor, a county
emergency official said.
Six deaths were reported in North Carolina, including two when
a house collapsed in Macon County, in the state's southwestern corner.
Another person died when a tree fell onto a house in Henderson County,
south of Asheville, troopers said.
In Tennessee, a 25-year-old police officer in Harriman, about
35 miles west of Knoxville, crashed on a rain-slick road late Wednesday
while returning from a routine patrol.
About 210,000 homes and businesses lost power in Georgia, including
160,000 in the Atlanta area. Power was also out to more than 164,000
homes and businesses in North Carolina and 23,000 in South Carolina.
Those numbers could rise as the storm continued, officials said.
Tennessee emergency officials reported only scattered power outages
affecting up to 2,000 customers.
As much of 8 inches of rain fell in western North Carolina, where
high water or downed trees closed more than 100 roads, and more
than 200 people were evacuated from areas near rivers.
After the rain came, rescue workers in the state used helicopters
to aid people caught in swift-flowing water, said Maj. Chris Simpson
of the North Carolina National Guard.
Before Ivan arrived, batteries and bottled water had vanished
from Asheville stores.
"I went to the grocery store for normal stuff, but there's
nothing there,'' said James Browne, a waiter at the Flying Frog
cafe in downtown Asheville.
Atlanta had 5 inches of rain, and much of northern Georgia's Gilmer
County was under water, said Lisa Ray, spokeswoman for the Georgia
Emergency Management Agency.
"There have been some motor homes that have floated off,''
In South Carolina, there were several reports of tornadoes in Oconee
County, and one person was slightly injured when a tree was blown
onto a mobile home, county emergency director Henry Gordon said.
Ahead of the storm, Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner declared a state
of emergency. Heavy bands of heavy rain lashed Virginia's mountainous
southwestern tip, still waterlogged from previous rains.
| Ecuador will not submit to mediation
in New York as proposed by US oil giant Texaco, from which indigenous
people here are seeking billions of dollars in damages for alleged
environmental harm to their land, the South American country's top
law enforcement officer said Friday.
The Amazon basin region's four indigenous peoples -- the Siona,
the Huaorani, the Cofan, and the Shuar -- in July 2003 took on Texaco
in the Ecuadoran courts, seeking reparation for alleged damages
to half a million hectares (1.24 million acres) of sacred lands.
They put the cost of cleaning up at six billion dollars.
Texaco maintains it already has cleaned up in the area.
Ecuadoran Attorney General Jose Maria Borja told foreign correspondents
Texaco's proposal for mediation in New York was "incompetent,
immoral and inappropriate because it is an affront to the sovereignty
of our country."
He said Texaco was trying to force state oil company Petroecuador
to pick up the tab for the damage allegedly inflicted ovber 20 years.
"That damage should be repaired by Texaco," Borja said.
A New York court in May 2003 said the case should be handled in
| Some 825,000 people have been stranded
by floodwaters in northeastern Bangladesh after a second swollen river
burst its banks and poured into hundreds of villages, officials said
An earth embankment along the Kakri river in Comilla district gave
way, washing away 130 houses instantly and damaging 500 more homes,
government relief officer Abu Bakar Siddique told AFP.
Some 325,000 people in the area are camping in the open on high
ground such as roads and embankments or are stranded in their flooded
homes, he said.
He said the deluge was triggered on September 10 and water remained
waist-high in most places.
"Those people are in great misery living on streets or some
high lands without adequate food supply," Siddique said.
Some 500,000 people have already been affected by floods elsewhere
in the same district after the Gomoti river flooded into more than
| BLACKSTONE -- Whatever goes up,
must come down.
It’s an elementary law of physics -- and one that will, for
a time, haunt a Lakeshore Drive resident whenever she looks toward
The woman (who agreed to talk if she remained anonymous) stepped
out her front door Monday afternoon and found white and gray material
flecked across her lawn, her porch and the front of her house. When
her daughter suggested a vandal with a paintball gun had fired on
their home, she called police.
The explanation offered by Patrolman Steven Livingston was even
more disturbing. He theorized a jetliner had passed overhead while
a passenger was flushing.
"It’s not poop, I know it’s not," the woman
said yesterday, repeating the line several times in an effort to
"It’s poop," her husband replied with resignation.
There are skeptics. Even Police Chief Ross Atstunpenas has some
doubts about his officer’s report. "He doesn’t
have the expertise to make that determination," said the chief,
who never saw the splats himself.
But officials at the Federal Aviation Administration are hesitant
to dismiss the possibility.
"Plane toilets do not flush into the air, but there is a phenomenon
called ‘blue ice,’ " said Arlene Salac, spokeswoman
for the FAA’s eastern regional office. "It involves leakage
from the plane’s plumbing."
According to Salac, at high altitudes the leaking material can
freeze and form icicles that hang from an aircraft’s underside.
When the plane descends to warmer altitudes, the ice breaks off
and falls to earth. Sometimes it melts, sometimes it doesn’t.
The material is called "blue ice" because that’s
the color of the sanitizing liquid that swirls about in airliner
toilets. Blue is really a guess, however; no one has ever peeked
beneath a soaring plane to observe the icicles. Less squeamish aviation
experts have suggested other hues.
Contrary to urban legends, falling sky sludge has never claimed
a human life, but property damage has been reported on a number
Last year a Santa Cruz resident sued American Airlines after a
frozen chunk crashed through the skylight of his yacht. He collected
$3,236. And in 2002 US Airways sent a cleaning crew to scrub down
a Pennsylvania home. The airline called it a "good will gesture,"
not an admission of guilt.
The FAA investigates every reported incident, according to Salac.
"We try to find the plane it came from, but we’re not
always successful," she said. "We do a chemical analysis
to determine if it really is blue ice. Sometimes it’s not.
On one occasion it turned out to be a flock of Canada geese. A very
She added that while the chemicals used in aircraft toilets are
not hazardous, handling blue ice material is best avoided, for obvious
By yesterday afternoon, the Lakeshore Drive family had already
cleaned most of the material from their property, but a few streaks
and drops remained, including a white splotch across a glass panel
on the front door.
"I scrubbed that with a toilet brush and every cleanser I
could find," the woman said. "Please tell me this came
from a sink, not a toilet."
She went on to describe the splatter zone. "It came across
this way," she said, waving a hand past the front lawn. "It
was all over the bushes, all over the porch, and all over the front
of the house."
"I put my nose to it," a neighbor added. "It smelled
Most family members were inside when the mystery muck fell from
the sky, but no one heard a sound. They learned something had happened
when they stepped outside.
With reluctance, the family has dismissed the paintball scenario.
Outdoor potted plants and shrubs are streaked and spotted, but there
are no torn leaves, broken twigs, or other damage one would expect
from paintball fire.
Nor do they believe that birds relieved themselves en masse.
"We feed the birds, and I see what they do all the time,"
the woman said. "This was not birds."
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