Article - High Strangeness
Article - The Blair Belief Project
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
| 9/11 BREAKTHROUGH
- Pacifica's Flashpoints Radio to feature 9/11 truth over the next
| 911Truth.org and SeptemberEleventh.org
Dennis Bernstein, host of KPFA's Flashpoints
has begun a two-week series to support rigorous inquiry into the
truth about the events of 9/11. Flashpoints is a respected progressive
political radio show that is broadcast in the San Francisco Bay
Area (94.1 FM, 5-6 pm), New York, Washington D. C., Houston, Los
Angeles, and Fresno through Pacifica radio. All shows are available
on the web at:
Over the next two weeks, Bernstein will feature a variety of leading
researchers, authors, and activists who are addressing the suspicious
lines of evidence that strongly suggest government complicity in
facilitating the attacks of September 11th.
On Monday, the first day of the series, 911 Citizen's Watch founder
and 911Truth.org board member Kyle Hence introduced material from
the 911 Citizens' Commission, which gathered prominent leaders in
New York on September 9th, 2004 to examine this evidence and give
testimony. It was chaired by former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
(A full 198-page PDF transcript is available at http://www.911truth.org/media/september-hearings.pdf
In the course of the broadcast, Bernstein referred to the Kean
Commission explicitly as a "cover-up commission" or at
best a "limited hangout to suppress crucial information."
He and Hence discussed the importance of FBI whistleblower Sibel
Edmonds, who Bernstein noted had "been essentially silenced
by the government." The show featured an extensive segment
from Los Angeles investigator Mike Ruppert naming Dick Cheney as
a prime suspect in facilitating the 9/11 attacks, based on many
strands of evidence. Ruppert is the author of the recently released
Crossing the Rubicon, which meticulously chronicles the motive,
means and opportunity for government complicity in 9/11.
We encourage you to listen and forward this information to skeptical
friends and allies. It is important that this material be addressed
publicly, honestly, and rigorously before the November 2nd elections.
We also encourage you to support Flashpoints and KPFA during their
fundraising drive. Donation premiums include David Ray Griffin's
New Pearl Harbor and a 3 DVD set from the NYC 9/11 Citizens' Commission.
Thanks and keep up your great work in getting the word out! Our
work is starting to pay dividends.
and Kerry clash on domestic policy
· President attacks
'far left' challenger
· Health and security top agenda
· Kerry targets women voters
| Dan Glaister in Tempe, Arizona
Thursday October 14, 2004
| [...] Attempting to paint his opponent
as a liberal who is out of step with ordinary Americans Mr Bush said:
"There's a mainstream of American politics and you sit right
on the far left bank."
Today I received via e-mail what
follows, forwarded from an
acquaintance. Originally, it was intended to be a witty and pithy
commentary on His Smugness by some blogger. Actually, it's not
abundantly witty, but pith it does possess, in abundance. So I
thought I'd share it here.
"I've been avidly watching the presidential debates this year.
The first debate had Kerry sticking to his facts and Bush kind of
doing okay but then failing all over the place during the second
half. The second one had Bush coming back stronger (duh!) and Kerry
sticking to the same routine but also getting a little brainy. All
through it, a lot of my friends (mostly Bush-haters) were always
pointing out, first and foremost, certain verbal and personality
quirks that George W. Bush possesses in public. Every time I hear
someone laughingly talk about how Bush is a 'moron' in front of
a camera, I'm kind of like, I dunno, don't they realize every time
Bush says 'internets' on national TV (like he did in the second
debate) without flinching that the collective eyeballs of his support
base roll back into their heads in ecstasy? No, I mean real ecstasy
- they feel as if they're hearing the very word of God.
"These subtle verbal red flags have neutron bomb powers within
their respective zones, and act as decoys for those un-hip to their
semiotics, which signify unspoken rules. Bush saying 'I've been
hearing rumors on the internets...' or bobbing his head every which
way in confusion during press conferences sends a POWERFUL message
to his base supporters. In their eyes, it says that Bush is a very
real person, a simple man, with good, homespun values. He's lost
in the 'Hollyweird' world of media politics, even perhaps a little
worn from it, but he's gonna keep trudging on despite how foolish
he may look because 'those people's' rules are irrelevant to the
big picture. Its kind of an underdog thing, like in a 'Mr. Smith
Goes to Washington' way, but with more limos.
"When Bush said 'internets' there was a pause before he said
it, as if he was actually having to collect his thoughts to be able
to pronounce it correctly (a lie -- he knows it by heart) and then
the word was delivered slightly slow, and pronounced with a subtle
up- turn in pitch, like at the end of a question, as if he was actually
asking those listening if they knew if he were pronouncing it correctly.
Every Bush supporter tuned in to those debates screamed in orgasmic
delirium and maybe even passed out with sheer delight like those
clips from the audience at the Ed Sullivan Show for The Beatles.
"I grew up in Southern Baptist circles in Dallas, Texas for
most of my formative years. Many of the adults I was around (at
church mainly - duh!) exhibited these characteristics. It's all
an act, but it's a social grace that is expected within the clan.
They pronounce certain words with a feigned apprehension and a touch
of phony ignorance. These are words that represent NEW objects,
places, technologies or social concepts that have not been fully
integrated into traditional society for at least a couple of decades,
but are nevertheless obviously very popular in the society at large,
and that the speaker is aware of. It's a romantic unfamiliarity
communicated with verbal cues. It is feigned ignorance that moves
one upwards in those particular social circles. Weirdly, it's mostly
the men who do it. Southern Christian women can get away with saying
new fangled words representing things not fully accepted by family
values- preaching subcultures. They can just blurt out, without
pause, 'new hat' or 'microwave' or 'aloe vera' without pause. Women
can get away with it because the traditional rules of femininity
within that realm gives a green light to becoming familiar with
new things quickly, and even talking about them enthusiastically.
But for a man in those circles to say a word like 'internet' with
brisk ease, and no pause to collect his thoughts, is to seal the
doom of his reputation among his peers.
"Remember how everyone was mocking that Republican publicity
campaign to change the words 'French Fries' to 'freedom fries' in
response to France's refusal to support the U.S. position on Iraq
during 2003? Everyone was all 'Haw! Haw! Can you believe the stupidity!'
and loudly and proudly pointing out how truly laughable the whole
thing was because the actual dish came from Belgium and really had
nothing to do with France. The name 'French Fries' was just developed
over time due to complex linguistic paths it took throughout American
history. A correct rebuttal, but a total misfire. These people were
impervious to that accusation. To counter-attack with such bookish
brainy-ness was to only strengthen the original plan. In fact, whether
they knew it at the time or not, upon learning this fact, it no
doubt made their resolve that much stronger, and their proud smiles
that much wider. To be familiar with how French Fries got their
name, or that they were invented in Belgium, would be very bad.
To be unfamiliar with culinary history would be very good. My bet
is that many of them knew all along.
"Remember the first time you heard 'shock and awe' uttered
from a Republican's totally serious, without-irony face on television?
Remember how you instantly understood what they were trying to convey,
but you were thrilled and delightfully 'baffled' at how stupid-sounding
and clueless and parody-proof the whole grouping of words was? It
sure did sound stupid, didn't it?
"Not that they're plotting and scheming -- far from it. These
thought processes are automatic. Laugh at Bush all you want, but
don't mis-interpret his verbal flubs as mistakes. They're effects.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — As he
revs up the crowds at his rallies, President Bush speaks in something
of an insiders' code, using the coolest of phrases for some of the
hottest of issues.
But speakers brought in to warm up the crowd are nowhere near as
reluctant to talk about core conservative issues in core conservative
It's a tactic that allows the Bush base voters
to leave the events having heard the message they want to hear,
but it inoculates Bush against having to serve up the kinds of quotes
Democrats covet for their effort to paint Bush as far right of the
Bush, for example, never uses the word abortion, but draws enthusiastic
applause from voters opposed to abortion rights when he uses phrases
like "culture of life."
He steers clear of direct mention of his belief that marriage is
for a man and a woman, but anti-gay marriage crowds cheer wildly
when he says, as he did in West Virginia last week, "We stand
for institutions like marriage and family, which are the foundations
Bush speaks in low-key tones about his belief that government money
should flow to faith-based programs but never comes close to offering
testimony about his deep religious faith.
The crowds, through their cheers and ovations, always seem to know
what he is talking about.
And that has a lot to do with the straight-up talk on conservative
issues offered up by speakers, many of whom appear long before Bush
arrives, brought in to warm up crowds that often wait hours to see
Be it local personality or area clergy, there is frequently somebody
to talk about issues such as abortion, gay marriage, school prayer
and keeping "under God" in the pledge of allegiance.
In Columbus, Ohio last week, former NFL linebacker Chris Spielman
excited a crowd of more than 18,000 by praising Bush for working
against abortion rights.
"We have a practice in this country that is basically the
slaughter of innocent children," Spielman said.
He also drew cheers by calling for prayer rooms in public schools.
"See I don't want to send my kids to school and if they mention
the name Jesus they're suspended or taken to court," he said.
The crowd also roared when Spielman talked about the proselytizing
potential of Bush's faith-based initiatives, a concept the president
"There's people afraid that we are going to impose our Christianity,"
Spielman said of foes of the plan. "It is not our job to impose,
but it is our job to expose people to the truth and they have the
free will and the right to make up their own mind."
The separation of church and state, Spielman told the crowd, "was
created for the state to stay out of the church, not the church
to stay out of the state."
Before Spielman spoke, Pastor John Hays of Columbus drew applause
for an invocation that thanked God "for a president who understands
that the basic building block of our society is the home and the
strength of the home is reflected in the strength of a marriage
between one man and one woman."
The pattern of warm-up speakers invoking words and tones Bush never
does repeats itself along the campaign trail.
In West Virginia last Sunday, Mike Ingole's speech had a small-town
hockey arena crowd screaming as if the hometown Wheeling Nailers
had just scored an overtime goal to clinch the East Coast Hockey
Ingole said he was speaking as a man of three hats, a father and
husband, a steelworker and a pastor at the Jubilee Christian Fellowship
in East Liverpool, Ohio. He drew cheers for praising Bush's efforts
on behalf of families and steelworkers. But the reaction was loudest
and longest when Ingole talked religion.
"I'm glad we have a president who is not afraid to speak about
his faith," Ingole said. "He doesn't put it on the shelf.
He doesn't add it to his resume when it politically benefits him,
but he is a true believer in Jesus Christ."
Similar comments about Bush's faith drew a major ovation from a
crowd that baked in the hot sun at a Hedgesville, W. Va. high school
football stadium last month.
In Wheeling, Ingole said he knew Bush was his man when the then-governor,
during a debate early in the 2000 primary season, identified Jesus
Christ as the most influential person in his life, a comment Bush
never chooses to make at political rallies.
"We know when he is in the White House that
he stands for morality and righteousness," Ingole said, drawing
applause. "And we know we've had too much of the other."
Ingole also offered a more direct approach that Bush does concerning
"Our family is under attack in this country and I praise God
for him today that he is able to stand and say the things he believes,"
In suburban Detroit last week, as Bush campaigned toward the Republican
National Convention, the warm-up speech came from John Kruse, executive
director of Michigan Catholic Radio, who praised Bush for "leading
the way to protect the most innocent among us, the unborn,"
a line that drew thunderous applause.
"President Bush is fighting not only to protect the most innocent
among us, the unborn, but also fighting against the terrible idea
of euthanasia and the terrible idea of experimenting on stem cell
research," Kruse said, telling the crowd that science has determined
"there's other directions to go in that are much more ethical."
"And we should also be fighting to protect marriage between
one man and one woman," Kruse said, again
getting the crowd to erupt.
After the pledge, he noted that many in the crowd emphasized the
words "under God" and assured them Bush would fight to
keep them in the pledge.
Bush, sticking with the stump-speech game plan, made no mention
of the pledge, talked more about the tax implications of marriage
than about who should be allowed to get married, never mentioned
abortion but came out for "the culture of life in America,
where every person counts and every person matters."
Instead, he opened with the reliable local-reference approach.
"Laura and I are thrilled to be here, home of the WNBA champs.
It's the home of the NBA champs," he said, drawing applause.
"More importantly, it's the home of really decent people."
By then, the really decent people – thanks to the warm-up
speech – already had heard what they wanted to hear about
Bush's position on social issues that can divide an electorate.
The president was free to give the issues the once-over lightly
approach without running the risk of sending his conservative base
home disappointed about not hearing anything about those topics.
And it left Democrats without the kind of Bush quotes they covet
as they try to make the case that he is far to the right of mainstream
The Bush campaign suggests that this is not deliberate.
"We invite local officials from the areas that the president
visits to speak in the pre-program and every
elected official has their own style," said campaign spokesman
Stanzel said that also applies to speakers who are not elected
"All of these people are supporters of the president and have
their own view and their own style," he said.
Kruse said he understood the difference between his role and that
of the president.
"He is speaking to a much broader audience than the person
warming up the crowd," said Kruse.
"He is going to craft the message a little more carefully
than some big-mouth guy like me," he said.
| We [at Cutting
Edge Ministries] may have a portion of the oft-asked question
by Cutting Edge subscribers as to why so many Evangelical Christians
are so terribly and stubbornly deceived about whether President Bush
is a genuine Christian.
A Chicago University professor has discovered that President Bush
uses "Christian code words" which stimulate the minds
of the Christian in a manner almost subliminal. The result is that
many millions of Christians are almost invisibly drawn to supporting
the President because his art of speaking has led them to believe
he is genuinely Born Again.
NEWS BRIEF: "Words matter: How Bush speaks in religious code",
By Bruce Lincoln, Boston Globe, September 12, 2004
"George W. Bush believes God has called him to be president.
You won't hear him say so openly, of course, but he regularly conveys
this to a core constituency -- the religious right ... But he has
also been careful. Aware that he must appeal to the center to secure
reelection, he employs double-coded signals that veil much of his
religious message from outsiders. Biblical references, allusions
to hymns, and specialized vocabulary are keys to this communication
For generations, practitioners of the "Occult Sciences"
have been taught sophisticated mind control techniques by which
they could hold sway over their followers, succeed in business,
and be the absolute best in winning the hearts and minds of the
people with whom they came into contact or of the people whom they
wanted to influence. "Double-Coded Signals" are their
stock-in-trade secrets by which they accomplished this feat. During
President Bush's Inaugural Address, January 20, 2001, we noted that
he used an Illuminati code word (Read NEWS1464) by which he signaled
fellow occultists throughout the world as to his true nature and
intentions without letting anyone else in on the "little secret".
But, here, we are speaking of an entirely different kind of "
double-coded signals". These type of signals are very sophisticated,
undoubtedly written in advance by a speechwriter skilled in this
"occult science" and then delivered by the President.
Keys to delivering these hidden signals are halting speech, many
pauses, a lot of repetition, and painting word pictures. With this
information in mind, let us return to this Boston Globe article.
"The president learned this art when he served as his father's
liaison to the religious right in 1988 .... Well-connected staff
introduced him to evangelical leaders and taught him to win their
trust. 'Signal early and signal often' was their motto." (Ibid.)
If the President was to successfully appeal in an almost subliminal
manner to the Christian Right, he had to know their inner language,
thier Biblical word pictures, and key doctrines. Notice that Bush
set out to learn this "Christian Right" language in connection
with his "well-connected staff". Undoubtedly, this staff
included people who were expert in this "Occult Science",
although a lifelong Adept in Skull & Bones like President George
W. Bush can be expected to have been thoroughly trained in this
fine art of controlling and manipulating people's minds. Most of
our current crop of politicians are using this technique virtually
everyday; President Clinton was a true master of this art, but probably
not any better than Bush. Let us now return to this article for
"Accordingly, most of Bush's speeches are discreetly larded
with religious content. His seemingly secular acceptance speech
at the recent Republican National Convention offers a case in point.
Beyond the single paragraph on abortion, gay marriage, and "faith-based"
charities, a strong religious subtext was carefully crafted to slip
beneath the radar."
This phrase, "carefully crafted to slip beneath the radar"
speaks clearly to the bold intent of the skilled speechwriter, to
subliminally speak to the inner mind of the targetd listener --
the Born Again Christians of America. These techniques over-ride
-- or perhaps slip beyond -- the conscious mind and drives powerfully
into the subconscious. In Seminar 1, "America's Leadership
of the New World Order", we carefully examine the subliminal
techniques used daily by expert advertising firms working for key
retailers and factories. We learned that their major discovery was
that the Conscious Mind possessed the moral safeguards which acted
as a guarded gateway, controlling which stimuli was so offensive
to the mind that it needed to be stopped; however, the Subconscious
Mind contained no such moral guarded gateway. Therefore, using subliminal
techniques, advertisers in all Mass Media advertising are able to
bypass the Conscious Mind altogether and pitch their product directly
to the unguarded Subconscious Mind. We show examples of just this
kind of advertising.
Let us now go back to this Boston Globe article to see which types
of Biblical imagery Bush has been using on Christians for a very
"Biblical references were firmly planted at the beginning
and end of the speech. Early on, Bush spoke of 'hills to climb'
and seeing 'the valley below', an allusion to Israel's escape from
slavery and Moses' vision of the Promised Land, as described in
Deuteronomy 34. Given the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous use
of the same passage ('I've been to the mountaintop'), Bush thus
associated himself with both King and Moses, characterizing his
presidency not just as a struggle for freedom, but a religious mission
with risks of martyrdom."
"In his closing paragraph, Bush quoted Ecclesiastes 3, 'To
everything there is a season', but quickly departed from the Biblical
text. 'A time for sadness', he began, with reference to 9/11, then
'a time for struggle' -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- and finally 'a
time for rebuilding'. This pattern of loss followed by recovery
recurred in passages devoted to the economy, the war against terrorism,
the national mood, and the state of morality since the 1960s. In
all cases, Bush described losses overcome through hope, steadfastness,
and faith. Only when he reached his culminating example did he name
what he saw in them all. "For as long as our country stands,"
he proclaimed, 'people will look to the resurrection of New York
City and they will say: Here buildings fell, and here a nation rose'
. Resurrection." (Ibid.)
When the President used the word, "resurrection", he
hit a major mental nerve with Christians. Their subconscious minds
responded positively and said, "this President is one of us
-- a Born Again Christian". All the religious imagery mentioned
in this above paragraph, and in the paragraphs below, did hit home
in the subconscious minds of untold numbers of genuinely Born Again
Christians. This linguistic hypnosis is probably the reason Bush
seems to have such a stranglehold on Evangelical Christians who
should be objectively judging Bush on his Spiritual Fruits, not
on his rhetoric.
Returning back to this Boston Globe article, we see even more elements
of religious words and symbolism, most always repeated often:
"Twelve times Bush used the phrase 'I believe', many more
than any other ... repetition hammered home the crucial point: Bush
is a man who believes. Two of these beliefs were meant to justify
his wars as holy. 'I believe that America is called to lead the
cause of freedom in a new century' - I believe freedom is not America's
gift to the world, it is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman'."
Like he has so many times, President Bush did not say "Jesus
Christ", but the clearly Masonic term, "Almighty".
But, he clearly "believes". Not too long ago, I listened
with horror when a Fundamental Baptist pastor stood up in his podium
to announce that "All of America's wars have been just"!
Not only is this most definitely not true (Seminar 2, "America
Determines The Flow of History") but this war in Afghanistan
and Iraq is the most unholy, Illuminist-planned imaginable! Yet,
this preacher stood before his packed congregation, telling them
that ALL of America's wars have been just; since the word "ALL"
includes this present war, Christian men and boys in the audience
feel reassured that they can morally be a part of our military machine
right now, even though we are most definitely fighting to produce
Now, let us return for our final insight from this Boston Globe
"In the course of his speech, the president thus suggested
he is a pious man, called to lead a righteous nation. Like the nation
itself, he is committed to a sacred cause and is guided in all things
by his Christian faith. His sole concern in Iraq -- so he insists
-- is to spread freedom, and in doing this he serves the Almighty.
If you heard that and can accept it, it must be terribly reassuring.
Rather less comforting is the realization that Bush is selling his
dubious war to the base he has skillfully courted for years, which
he knows to be credulous, fiercely patriotic, and enormously loyal."
This type of skilled speech literally hypnotizes its audience.
It is an Occult Art which has lately been given a distinctive name:
Neuro-Linguistic Programming" (NLP). Believe me, this linguistic
skill literally "programs" its target audience. We shall
be starting a series of articles on this most powerful subject next
week. As we head into this election season, understanding how you
are being manipulated is critical.
But now you know on major reason why the vast majority of genuine
Born Again Christians are so deceived about President Bush. However,
Christians could not have been so deceived had they been following
their Lord closely. Today's Christian ignores his Bible, is not
taught correctly and thoroughly from the pulpit or the Sunday School
class, ignores daily Bible Study and prayer, and does not vigorously
apply Biblical doctrine to his/her daily life.
With this kind of spiritual weakness and lukewarmness, Christians
have set themselves up for the kind of unparalleled spiritual deception
of which our Lord warned in Matthew 24:24. This weak Christian faith
is the reason people accept President Bush as a Christian based
only on his words, ignoring his many evil spiritual fruits.
Note from Archie:
I think the most prime example of Bush using bible verses and twisting
them to manipulate the people is this one.
"You're either with us or against us in the fight against
-George W. Bush
"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth
not with me scattereth abroad." Mathew 12:30
It is amazing that I could not find on the web even one Christian
commentary on Bush's use of that bible verse.
Supposedly those words delivered in a speech by George W. Bush
shortly after 9-11 was directed at other countries and at the United
Nations. But the truth of the matter is it was directed at his "Christian"
supporters in the United States. It locked them most unambiguously
in to his "preemptive" war on Iraq. He was subliminally
equating himself with Jesus Christ. The message was if you do not
go with (wholeheartedly support) him (Jesus Christ) and his actions,
you are against Jesus Christ and His plans.
When Bush's speech writers craftily use words of holy scripture,
they are most decidedly against Jesus Christ.
Fortunately for those who still listen to Bush and take his words
seriously, and not just enjoying his speeches as the high comedy
they are, they are spared at least some mind control of themselves
because George W. Bush routinely bollixes up his script and the
most elegant Tavistock, mind-controlling phrases are turned into
This is an important article in that it teaches and explains a
big part of the Illuminast's craft.
[...] One of the uncommitted
voters in the [Presidential debate] audience sensibly asked President
Bush to name three mistakes he'd made in office, and what he had
done to remedy the damage. Mr. Bush declined to list even one, and
instead launched into an impassioned defense of the invasion of
Iraq as a good idea. The president's insistence on defending his
decision to go into Iraq seemed increasingly bizarre in a week when
his own investigators reported that there were no weapons of mass
destruction there, and when his own secretary of defense acknowledged
that there was no serious evidence of a connection between Saddam
Hussein and Al Qaeda.
Even worse, the president's refusal to come up with even a minor
error - apart from saying that he might have made some unspecified
appointments that he now regretted - underscores his inability to
respond to failure in any way except by insisting over and over
again that his original decision was right.
Unfortunately, for long stretches of the evening, the format did
not lead to such telling responses. On occasion, the arguments were
impossible to follow. Heaven help any citizen who relied on last
night's debate to understand what is going on with North Korea or
who tried to understand the fight about tax cuts on Subchapter S
Mr. Bush was deeply unpersuasive when asked why he had not permitted
the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. He claimed
that the reason was "I want to make sure it cures you and doesn't
kill you." Mr. Kerry cleanly retorted that four years ago in
a campaign debate, Mr. Bush had said importing medicine from Canada
And the president was utterly incoherent when
asked about whom he might name to the Supreme Court in a second
term. His comment about how he didn't want to offend any judges
because he wanted "them all voting for me" was a joke
- but an unfortunate one, given the fact that the president owes
his job to a Supreme Court vote.
"Fully 59% [of Americans] say they
believe the events in Revelation are going to come true." –
"What harm can he do in four years?" That was my initial
reaction to the Supreme Court's selection of George W. Bush in Dec.
2000, back when I was trusting and naïve and life in this country
felt oh-so-different. "It’s not the end of the world,"
I thought, not realizing, at the time, how many Americans were praying
for just that.
Initially, Armageddon angst was amusing, yet embarrassing, like
VH1’s The Surreal Life whenever Brigitte Nielson appears onscreen.
Remember when people saw Satan’s visage in the 9/11 smoke
clouds? And how others kept tabs on the Rapture? A Time/CNN poll
even showed that one third of all Americans were checking the news
for apocalyptic signs, making "End Times Watch" a lot
like "Cosmo’s Bedside Astrologer," except that instead
of learning that Sagittarians are "whifty," we discovered
that Jerry Falwell rightly refers to G.W. Bush as "his bitch."
Yes, superstitious hogwash was entertaining at first, but by the
time we figured out that members of Congress and the Bush White
House had actually powwowed with End Times zealots, even comedians
found it decidedly unfunny. "Thomas Jefferson said the book
of revelations was the ravings of a lunatic. George Bush organizes
his foreign policy around it," Bill Maher said, referring to
the widely held notion that the Jews must control Israel before
Jesus will make His long-awaited comeback.
But though Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson also warned that
Bush better play by Evangelicals’ rules (Roadmap, Schmoadmap,
a Palestinian state is part of "Satan's plan to prevent the
return of Jesus Christ," Pat says), others remain steadfast
in their belief that George W. Bush was "chosen" by a
power greater than Clarence Thomas. The newly released DVD Faith
in the White House drives this notion home, at one point even showing
Bush and Jesus side-by-side via split screen -- a Jedi mind trick
if ever there was one. "I’m voting for Bush because I
have to support the candidate who I believe has the most faith.
Systematically, God is being erased from our culture, our society
our government," actor Stephen Baldwin recently told Entertainment
Weekly, echoing a sentiment shared by millions.
But do the nation's Stephen Baldwins ever question the propaganda?
Do they wonder if G.W. Bush might be one
of the bad guys the Bible warns of? After all, some of Bush's
reported statements flash "false prophet" like a sign
in a David Lynch movie. "I trust God speaks though me,"
Bush reportedly told the Amish. "God told me to strike at al
Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at
Saddam, which I did," Haaretz quoted Bush saying. "We
will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth
in defense of our great nation," Bob Woodward said Bush said.
"This is why religion is so dangerous in our society,"
Bill Maher told Larry King. "George Bush is not just a Christian.
He's a born-again, they believe Jesus is coming back any day now.
And they want everything to be perfect for him. They call it the
rapture, right? . . . It's like half this country wants to guide
our ship of state by a compass. A compass, something that works
by science and rationality and empirical wisdom. And half this country
wants to kill a chicken and read the entrails like they used to
do in the old Roman Empire."
But the Book of Revelation is just the beginning. There are plenty
of places to find ominous warnings of death, destruction and the
end of life as we know it. In other words, there's more than one
way to read entrails, Bucko. Here are but a few:
Entrails Reading: The Scientific Approach
"You know, this is one of the biggest differences between
Europe and America. This is a huge cultural gulf between us... Brits,
everyone in Europe, none of us go to church really very much...
We can't understand the role that religion plays in your politics.
We just don't get it. We don't get why there has to be this presidential
candidate who has to go to church, has to profess their faith. It
worries us slightly, makes us slightly uncomfortable." -- The
BBC’s Katty Kaye
Not too long ago, the History Channel ran a segment on the "Bible
Code," featuring a controversial, semi-scientific means of
divining the future. Based on Orthodox Jewish mathematicians’
assertion that hidden messages are embedded within the Torah, the
Bible Code was first brought to mainstream attention in 1997, when
former Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Drosnin's The Bible
Code became a New York Times bestseller.
Using a letter-based numerological system created by Jewish mystics
and facilitated by computer technology, Drosnin "decoded"
the Bible’s hidden secrets and concluded that the Holocaust,
Hiroshima and Kennedy killings were among major events foretold
in the first five books. He also used the code to predict the assassination
of Yitzhak Rabin and searched the Mezuzah scroll for signs of the
In 2002, Drosnin released a sequel, The Bible Code II, which,
despite massive debunking of his first book, also became a bestseller.
Retroactively asserting that the Bible did, in fact, warn of Sept.
11, Drosnin found these brand new hints:
• "President Bush" appears alongside "President"
and "by mistake, in error."
• "Afarafat," "Sharon" and "Bush"
align with "the end of days."
• "War of Bush," coincides with "the nations
under heaven" and "the evil that will befall you in the
end of days."
• "New York" and "fire from a missile"
appear with 5761 (2001) and 5764" (2004).
• "Smallpox" is encoded with "Jerusalem"
and "Tel Aviv" and 2005.
• "Shooters of Arafat" is found next to "assassin
• "World war" and "atomic holocaust"
are linked with 2006.
What the entrails say: Using the Bible Code as a guide, it looks
as if George Bush will be president again for the next four years.
After all, when it comes to Armageddon, who better to 'bring it
But, although the Bible Code's mathematical underpinnings make
this method seem more rational than the more widely accepted "God
will soon selectively suck up true believers in a gigantic Hoover"
Rapture theory, Drosnin's findings should be treated with a heaping
helping of skepticism. After all, one mathematician used the same
technique to decode Moby Dick and found hidden messages regarding
the assassination of Gandhi, Leon Trostsky and Martin Luther King,
while another found "the code is bogus" embedded within
Genesis and discovered "Guilty Lee Oswald shot Kennedy. Both
died" within the pages of War and Peace.
Entrails Reading: The Mystical Approach
"Anticipating George W. Bush, prophecy writers in the late
20th century also quickly zeroed in on Saddam Hussein. If not the
Antichrist himself, they suggested, Saddam could well be a forerunner
of the Evil One. In full-page newspaper advertisements during the
Persian Gulf war of 1991, the organization Jews for Jesus declared
that Saddam 'represents the spirit of Antichrist about which the
Bible warns us.'" -- Paul S. Boyer
Soon after Sept. 11, a fake Nostradamus quote snaked its way around
the Internet. Written by a student mimicking the French physician's
style, it was identified as a hoax and was suitably debunked. Few
seemed to care. In the aftermath of the greatest terror attack on
U.S. soil, Nostradamus, a guy who has not written anything noteworthy
in the past 500 years, became a best-selling author.
But Sept. 11 aside, Iraq has provided the perfect backdrop for
true believers. Hitler analogies? Small beans considering that Nostradamus
disciples have long felt that Saddam Hussein might be the third
and final antichrist (Hitler was the second). Believing Nostradamus'
"Mabus" to be a mirror reflection of the Iraqi pronunciation
of Saddam (Sudam), many saw evidence of Hussein's Gulf War villainy
in the lines: "He will enter, wicked, unpleasant, infamous;
Tyrannizing over Mesopotamia, All friends made by the adulterous
Of course, after watching the past two Presidential debates, Nostradamus
could just as well have foreseen George Bush's performance. "He
will enter, wicked, unpleasant, infamous"? Yep. Sounds about
right. And setting aside the identity of the adulterous woman, some
Nostradamus nerds have followed Internet ideologues' leads by speculating
that "George Bush is the antichrist" – speculation
that has spilled over into Op-ed writers' pens and perhaps even
But antichrist rumors are but a sliver of the overall picture.
Other interpretations of Nostradamus' prophecies include predictions
• A "King of Terror" will descend from the skies
and usher in a devastating global war. (Though Nostradamus predicted
this would occur in 1999, one quatrain referred to "hollow
mountains" (skyscrapers?) and the "new city." As
author Francis X. King explained in 1994: "After the descent
of the 'King of Terror, "the world [will] be ravaged by conflict
of a previously unknown ferocity").
• There will be an attack on New York and perhaps a coinciding
event in the Middle East, as evidence by the quatrain: "The
heaven will broil at forty-five degrees; Fire approaches the great
new city: An enormous, widespread flame leaps up; When they want
to have proof of the Normans." (Hopefully, "wanting proof
of the Normans" won't lead to more French-bashing).
• The Russian-U.S alliance will dissolve and fester: "The
two will not remain allied for long; within thirteen years they
give into barbarian power."
• A world leader aligned with a necromantic cult would be
responsible for "setting the East aflame." (Anyone familiar
with Skull and Bones should understand why believers see George
Bush's role in this apocalyptic vision).
What the entrails say: Using Nostradamus as a guide, it looks
as if the future holds more death and destruction and more George
W. Bush. Luckily, however, with a prophet as vague as Nostradamus,
misinterpretation is always a risk. In the winter of 1939-1940,
for example, Magda Goebbels urged her husband to consider to the
seer’s prediction that in 1939, Germany would go to war with
France and Britain over Poland. Believing that Nostradamus foretold
Germany's triumph, Joseph Goebbels used the prophet’s predictions
as pro-Nazi propaganda.
Conclusion? Believing interpretations of Notradamus is as risky
as allowing evangelicals to dictate U.S. foreign policy.
Entrails Reading: The Native American Approach
"America has entered one of its periods of historical madness,
but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse
than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous
than the Vietnam War." – John le Carre
In 1982, a blind Native American Indian shaman named No-Eyes was
interviewed about the future. And while she foresaw the usual plagues,
economic disasters and ghastly wars, her main thesis was that Mother
Earth was unhappy and some "changes" were about to take
place. But among her more noteworthy predictions were assertions
• The Supreme Court will make bad decisions that don't benefit
• America will eventually become a police state.
• Several undeclared wars will be waged simultaneously.
• Propaganda and terrorism will increase.
• There will be high-level secrecy and clandestine agreements
• There will be a nuclear interchange in which "one
will strike New York City."
• The draft will be reinstated.
• The American public will discover information about government
duplicity and cover-ups.
• There will be widespread rebellion, including tax evasion
and draft resistance.
What the entrails say: Featured in an obscure book from an obscure
publishing house No-Eyes sounds suspiciously like Bob Dole. Her
warnings about secrecy, cover-ups and police states are worth mentioning,
even though, by 1984, columnist Jack Anderson issued similar statements
concerning FEMA. But, even so, predictions about the Supreme Court
and the draft clinch it: These entrails foretell four more years
of G.W. Bush and the end of life as we know it.
Have a nice day!
There are other prophecies worth mentioning, of course. The Mayan
calendar for example, which centers on precise mathematical equations,
ends abruptly on Dec. 21, 2012, signaling either the end of the
world or that the Mayans got bored.
Then, too, regular folks have weighed in as well. Back in 2002,
Arab League Secretary-general Amr Musa warned that an attack on
Iraq would "open the gates of hell," and on Sept 14, 2004,
it became official: "The gates of hell are open in Iraq,"
And finally, on the eve of war, former Nixon Aid Charles Colson
spelled it out. "Some wonder if the president might be influenced
by evangelical teachings that envision an end-of-the-world battle
between Israel and its enemies," he told U.S. News. "It
would be dangerous for a president to take a particular theology
like that and apply it to world events."
Yes, it would be. With polls jumping all over the place, the future
is less certain than ever. But clearly, in the midst of all this,
the question, "What harm can Bush do?" now seems woefully
naïve. And, of course, the phrase "it's not the end of
the world" is less convincing, too.
But regardless what evangelicals or prophets or ancient Mayans
believed, and despite slings and arrows of outrageous GOP goons,
to some extent, "we the people" still decide our own fate.
And it doesn't matter what the entrails say, because though Bush
has been a disaster, it doesn't have to end in disaster -- provided
the "compass people" win out in the end.
But if we're stuck with Furious George for another four years?
I'll go out on a limb right here and now and make a prediction of
my own: Even if it's not the end of the world, it's certainly going
to feel like it is.
| TALLAHASSEE - One of the most urgent
but least discussed issues of the presidential campaign is the extreme
religious agenda that appears to be distorting U.S. policy toward
Israel, to the peril of both nations.
The force in question is the Christian fundamentalist movement
most commonly known as premillennialism. It prophesies that Jesus
will return and true believers will be whisked bodily to heaven,
minus their clothes and jewelery, upon the fulfillment of certain
conditions familiar to readers of the popular Left Behind books.
These include the creation of the state of Israel, Israel's occupation
of all of its "biblical lands," and the construction of
a Third Temple on the Temple Mount, currently the site of the Dome
of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosques.
The first is fact. The second goes so far beyond the disputed West
Bank and Gaza that not even Israel aspires to it. The third, which
contemplates the desecration of one of Islam's holiest places, would
set off a nuclear war (think Pakistan and Iran) with infinitely
more certainty than anything predicted in the Book of Revelation.
A simple visit by Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount four years ago
was enough to bring on the current intifada that by one estimate
has claimed nearly 4,000 lives and made Sharon prime minister.
But to the millennialists, a holy war in the Middle
East would be good news, not bad, because it would be the war leading
to Armageddon. As for the Iraqi war, it's a prophecy fulfilled.
As Bill Moyers remarked in a speech last month, "A
war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared
but welcomed. If there's a conflagration there, they come out winners
on the far side of tribulation, inside the pearly gates, in celestial
splendor, supping on ambrosia to the accompaniment of harps plucked
The present danger is not so much that people
making U.S. policy believe these end-times prophecies, as some do,
to the extent that they would deliberately try to fulfill them.
But the White House is clearly so sensitive to voters who believe
them that it has bent policy to their will, most recently by endorsing
the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Horse hockey. Bush is a saved evangelical Christian who believes
that God gives him orders directly. Ashcroft had an "indecent"
statue covered up in the entry of the Justice Department, truly
symbolic of what has happened since he came to office. Now, who
actually believes that such individuals wouldn't try to deliberately
fulfill end-times prophecies, especially when they relate to Israel,
the favorite country of US officials like Perle, Wolfowitz, and
Yet this has gone unmentioned in the debates so far and remains
largely unnoticed in the mainstream American press despite Moyers'
eloquent warning in a speech last month to the Society of Professional
Moyers, an ordained clergyman who knows as much as anyone about
the interaction of religion and politics, said the millennialists
amount to only 15 percent of the electorate but most are Republican,
and that Bush "knows who they are and what they want."
When Bush asked Sharon to withdraw tanks from Jenin two years ago,
Moyers said, more than 100,000 fundamentalist e-mails hit the White
House and Bush said nothing more about it. The West Bank concession,
reversing decades of sensible U.S. policy, was another manifestation.
"No wonder Karl Rove walks around the west
wing whistling Onward Christian Soldiers," Moyers said. "He
knows how many votes he is likely to get from these pious folk who
believe that the Rapture Index now stands at 144 - just one point
below the critical threshhold at which point the prophecy is fulfilled,
the whole thing blows, the sky is filled with floating naked bodies,
and the true believers wind up at the right hand of God."
Israel is nothing more than a means to an end for the millennialists.
In their eschatology, Jews who don't convert when Jesus returns
face as grotesque a fate as anything the Inquisition ever invented.
With friends like those, Israel doesn't need enemies. What it needs
from its real friends, including the United States, is the tough
love that compels it to get out of Gaza and the whole West Bank.
Having done that, Israel could build a security fence entirely on
its own territory and no one would be entitled to complain. [...]
Many people believe that oil was the real reason
for the Iraq war. Whether true or not, even that would be more rational
than a policy that invites a wider war for the sake of pleasing
Karl Rove's "base." In Arabic, by the way, "the base"
is pronounced al-Qaida.
John Ashcroft's religion shapes his public service
Of all the Bible stories John Ashcroft knows by heart, none mirrors
his own life like the Old Testament melodrama of Daniel.
As a Hebrew captive exiled to Babylon, Daniel worked his way into
the palace and was promoted to a high-ranking administrative position.
The powers- that-be saw him as smart and politically ambitious,
but also as a sanctimonious prig. His religious rectitude invited
ridicule, as when he refused to "defile" himself by partaking
of the rich food and wine of royalty because his God favored a vegetable-and-water
So his critics set him up, persuading King Darius to outlaw worship
of anyone else but the king. Daniel kept praying. They dropped him
into a den of lions.
This was a lesson that John David Ashcroft absorbed as a Pentecostal
minister's son reared in an Assemblies of God congregation in Springfield,
Mo. The moral was clear: Never waver, never doubt, never permit
skepticism and mockery to deter you from the course you believe
Today Ashcroft -- the Bush administration's front
man in its war on terrorism -- is expanding his power as attorney
general with a stunning degree of moral certitude. Never one to
see issues in shades of gray, he believes America's campaign against
terror is as black and white as it gets.
Supporters cheer him as a moral avenger. Foes consider him a pharisaical
vigilante whose willingness to trample civil liberties is scary.
One thing is clear: While other politicians pick
up religion as a fashion accessory, Ashcroft exudes it from his
Says Franklin Zimring, law professor at UC Berkeley and a law school
classmate of Ashcroft: "You'd learn a heck of a lot more about
John Ashcroft researching his church than you would turning the
University of Chicago Law School upside down. What's problematic
about his career as attorney general is not his technical legal
training. It's his values."
It's impossible to understand Ashcroft's view
of the world without understanding his view of God, whom he says
he "invites" into all his daily activities. And it's impossible
to overestimate how deeply Pentecostal biblical training permeates
his view of right and wrong -- and stiffens his spine against criticism.
History is written by the winners, and they may or may not get
it right, Ashcroft is fond of saying. "I
don't particularly care if I do what's right in the sight of men.
The important thing is for me to do right in God's sight... The
verdict of history is inconsequential; the verdict of eternity is
That unblinking certainty bothers some people.
"There is a rigidity there that is very troubling," said
Ralph Neas, head of the liberal People for the American Way, who
maintains Ashcroft is suited to direct the Moral Majority, not the
Justice Department. "He is so confident of his world view that
he doesn't have to seek any advice that would challenge his opinion
. . . or interfere with his bending the law his way by executive
"John Ashcroft thinks John Ashcroft knows what's best."
Ashcroft may be in worldly Washington, but he clearly is not of
A bemused national press has made much fun of the fact that he
is an attorney general who doesn't drink, smoke, dance, sleep around,
swear or otherwise defile himself. Even activist Phyllis Schlafly
was taken aback when he balked at buying a raffle ticket for a Rush
Limbaugh book at a right-wing fund-raiser because that would be
Yet to catalog his abstinences is to but scratch the surface of
His rectitude has made him the Bush administration's heat shield
It has kept the attorney general from flinching in the face of
concerns that he too blithely puts the Constitution "on hold"
under the guise of pursuing potential terrorists, an investigation
that to date has yielded few tangible results. (Of some 1,200 "material
witnesses" initially detained domestically after 9/11, none
has been charged with terrorism.) [...]
His daily devoutness again became a novelty when
he held voluntary office prayer meetings before work, and when aides
draped the exposed breasts of partially disrobed statuary inside
the Justice Department.
Some observers thought Ashcroft seemed almost bored with his new
job. But on Sept. 11, on a flight to Milwaukee, he took a call over
his secure phone, hung up and announced to aides: "Our world
has changed forever."
In the 11 months since, Ashcroft has applied his good-versus-evil
paradigm to the war on terrorism. He has become chief crusader in
his own holy war -- not against Muslims, but against perceived terrorist
"His religion teaches him there are concrete, clear-cut right
and wrong answers to things," said Julie Ingersoll, assistant
professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida,
who until recently taught in Springfield. "Someone else might
look at Christianity and Islam as two different constructs of reality.
Certainly he wouldn't."
Ashcroft has no patience for introspective doubters
who question the morality, constitutionality or even the wisdom
of military tribunals, secret detentions, expanded wiretapping,
blocking of Freedom of Information Act requests and eavesdropping
"Those who scare peace-loving people with
phantoms of lost liberty, your tactics only aid terrorists, for
they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve," he
scolded the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Just days ago, the House stripped from the Homeland Security Bill
the Ashcroft "TIPS" plan to recruit millions of amateur
observers -- meter readers, mail carriers, cable installers and
the like -- to keep their eyes peeled for "suspicious activities"
and report on fellow Americans.
Lately, even some conservatives are fretting about Ashcroft's zeal
to infiltrate subversive groups -- they fear a future Democratic
administration could turn the tactic against them.
To Ingersoll, the conflict simply reflects a paradox between two
competing strains of Ashcroft's Pentecostalism: a libertarian belief
that the government should mind its own business and a fundamentalist
faith in law and order. "He's had to appeal to the fundamentalists
to build his political base, and he's now the nation's top law enforcement
officer, so that side is winning out in him."
Now White House sources are beginning to grumble anonymously to
reporters that Ashcroft is too overtly political, and tends to grab
headlines instead of being a team player.
It's doubtful any of this criticism is giving Ashcroft second thoughts
about his mission.
Although he gives lip service to the value of "creative self-doubt,"
there isn't much evidence he engages in it. In his memoir he tries
to demonstrate the value of self-doubt by relating a tale in which
the press and an opponent once criticized him. But the unintentionally
comic moral he offers is not that he was wrong, but that he forgave
them for being so wrong about him.
Is this sense of self-righteousness, this imperviousness
to criticism, a virtue or a fatal flaw?
WASHINGTON - Sidelined by their
failed predictions for Iraq and US President George W Bush's efforts
to reassure voters he is not a warmonger, prominent neo-conservatives
and their Christian Right allies are nonetheless trying hard to
prepare the ground for future US adventures in the Middle East.
Echoing increasingly threatening noises from the government of
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about preventing Iran from developing
a nuclear weapon, neo-cons are calling for Washington to undertake
covert action, at the very least, to oust what some of them call
the "terror masters" in Tehran as part of a more general
"World War IV" against alleged Arab and Islamic extremism.
(The Cold War is widely considered as World War III.)
Some neo-cons are even complaining that if Bush had been serious
about the "war on terrorism", he should have taken on
Iran after Afghanistan, rather than Iraq.
"Had we seen the war for what it was, we would not have started
with Iraq, but with Iran, the mother of modern Islamic terrorism,
the creator of Hezbollah, the ally of al-Qaeda, the sponsor of [Abu
Musab al-]Zarqawi, the longtime sponsor of Fatah and the backbone
of Hamas," wrote part-time Pentagon consultant Michael Ledeen
of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) this week.
His article also reprised an argument he first made three years
ago - that the Iranian people were already rising up against the
mullahs and needed only a little nudge from Washington to succeed.
Neo-conservatives are also busy stoking tensions with Syria, even
amid indications that Washington and Damascus are feeling their
way toward some kind of "modus vivendi" that may even
include joint military patrols along the latter's porous border
Last week they heard from a Syrian exile, Farid Ghadry, who apparently
aspires to become the Ahmed Chalabi - the neo-con boosted leader
of the exiled Iraqi National Congress whose standing in Washington
plummeted after it was alleged he passed secrets to Iran - of his
In addition to lobbying for the pending Syria
Liberation Act, which would commit the US government to "regime
change" in Damascus, Ghadry charged that the government of
President Bashir Assad was building "a new colony of terrorism"
for youths in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
The neo-conservatives, who led the charge to war in Iraq, have
steadily lost influence over US policy in Baghdad since a year ago,
when US troops found themselves welcomed by a serious and growing
insurgency rather than the flowers and sweets the neo-cons had predicted.
At the same time, Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was
reported to have told unhappy war hawks in the Pentagon and Vice
President Dick Cheney's office, the two neo-con strongholds, that
Bush's re-election prospects would be greatly enhanced if there
was "no war in '04".
Led by arch-realists Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy
Richard Armitage, the State Department gradually wrested control
over policy towards Syria and Iran. With US troops bogged down next
door, a policy of confrontation, as advocated by neo-cons, not only
risked another war, the realists argued, but could also invite more
damaging efforts by both Damascus and Tehran to destabilize Iraq.
Wary engagement with both countries has thus become official policy.
The recent visit by a high-level US delegation to Damascus and the
invitation of European and Arab allies and Iraq's neighbors to attend
a US-sponsored meeting on Iraq in Tehran later this fall mark hard-fought
advances in the State Department's agenda.
But while the neo-cons may be down, they are by no means out. As
more than one foreign-policy analyst has noted, no neo-con within
the administration has resigned or been fired, despite their responsibility
for the Iraqi quagmire and public calls by even some senior Republican
lawmakers and retired military officers that they be ousted.
Some analysts have argued the neo-cons remain in place only because
their departure now would amount to an admission by the administration
- and thus Bush himself - that serious mistakes had been made. In
this view, Bush would purge them in a second term, as he continued
along the State Department's "realist" line.
But a growing number of observers, particularly in the State Department
and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), are coming to the conclusion
that the neo-cons may actually enjoy greater influence if Bush wins
In just the past few days, for example, an article, The State Department's
Extreme Makeover, published by online magazine Slate and attributed
to an "anonymous" veteran foreign service officer, made
precisely this argument.
It is in this context that neo-cons' recent efforts to focus their
fire on Syria and Iran, in particular, should be seen.
Ghadry spoke at an all-day symposium co-sponsored by the Committee
on the Present Danger (CPD), a predominantly neo-conservative lobby
group set up in August, and by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
(FDD), a group created two days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks on the US, whose views largely mirror those of Israel's
ruling Likud Party.
On FDD's board of advisers are prominent neo-cons and Iraq war
boosters, including former Defense Policy Board chairman and Ledeen's
sidekick at AEI, Richard Perle; AEI fellow Jeane Kirkpatrick; and
former CIA director James Woolsey, who also co-chairs the CPD.
Joining them are Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, whose own
Project for the New American Century first named Iran and Syria
- as well as Iraq and the Palestinian Authority - as targets of
the "war on terrorism", in an open letter published just
10 days after September 11.
The conference was addressed briefly by telephone by former secretary
of state George Shultz, the group's new co-chair, while Woolsey
announced that former Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel and
former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar had agreed to head
an international chapter.
Keynoters for the symposium, titled "World War IV: Why We're
Fighting, Whom We're Fighting, How We're Fighting", included
Woolsey, who has long spoken of the fight against "Islamo-fascism"
- defined as including "the mullahs of Iran", the Ba'athist
parties of Iraq and Syria, and "the Wahhabis", of which
the al-Qaeda terrorist group is a part - as the equivalent of a
On hand was Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, whose participation
appeared not only to provide an official sanction of the radical
agenda, but also to confirm that the neo-con faction within the
Bush administration is alive, kicking and unashamed despite the
quagmire in Iraq.
Neo-conservative godfather Norman Podhoretz, who
has also used "World War IV" as his favored description
for the challenges Washington faces in the Near East, in particular,
made a rare public appearance.
He called Israeli tactics in the occupied territories
a "model for how to fight this kind of war", and asserted
that "Iran is unquestionably on the agenda" of a second
"I have no doubt that we're going to have to do it and do
it fast," he declared, noting there were "many different
instrumentalities" at Washington's disposal for dealing with
the mullahs and their nuclear program.
Podhoretz, whose son-in-law Elliott Abrams is the Middle East director
on the National Security Council staff, also offered a sweeping
vision of what the region might look like when the US triumphed.
Stressing the long-held Likud view that
the nations of the region were artificial creations forged out of
the defeated Ottoman Empire, he suggested, 'What was done in the
aftermath of World War I can be undone in World War IV." [...]
| Three years after 911, we still
have no real clarity about "whodunit" let alone "whatdunit"
- and if history is any indication, it could be decades before the
truth is finally revealed.
But the Armageddon dreams of our nation's leaders
mandate a more urgent time frame.
Were 19 hijackers armed with box cutters really responsible for
the WTC/Pentagon carnage? Seems increasingly implausible, as does
the administration's claim of no prior knowledge. Remember Bush's
comment about watching the first airplane hit the WTC before the
second airplane even made impact? What video feed does he have anyway?
The rest of us sure didn't see that live on our TVs.
As sick as it seems, it wouldn't be the first time a US administration
has furthered its own political ambitions through attacks on American
Take Pearl Harbor. The official story (long ago discredited, yet
still touted in Hollywood B-movies) was that Japanese forces caught
the US totally off guard when they brutally attacked on December
It was probably a lie. Many historians believe
that members of Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration actually
knew about the impending assault, and just let the carnage roll
in order to get the US public primed for war with Japan.
In his 1982 book 'Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath', Pulitzer-prize
winner John Toland reveals that almost everything
the Japanese were planning to do "was known to the United States"
on the morning of the attack, via intercepted messages never communicated
to commanders at Pearl Harbor. He cites the case of US counterintelligence
translator Dorothy Edgers who uncovered critical Japanese messages
days before the assault, including "a scheme of signals regarding
the movement and exact position of warships and carriers in Pearl
Harbor." But Edgers' boss, Alwin Kramer, seemed "more
annoyed than electrified" at the discovery and ordered her
to "run along home." Unbeknownst to Edgers, Kramer was
part of the subterfuge.
We all know what happened next. Japanese bombs rained down on the
US naval vessels and aircraft poised like sitting ducks at Pearl
Harbor, and the ensuing bloodbath left over 2,400 US service members
and civilians dead. The following day, Congress voted overwhelmingly
to give FDR all of the resources he wanted to wage war with Japan.
The parallels with 911 are stunning.
Today's Edgers is Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator who was
fired in March 2002 after exposing corruption at a critical FBI
counterintelligence unit. Among Edmonds' charges: supervisors covered
for a colleague who was smuggling sensitive documents out of FBI
headquarters in order to protect contacts in "semi-legit"
organizations. When Edmonds started speaking out about this stunning
breach of national security, Attorney General John Ashcroft slapped
her with a gag order.
Even worse, Bush's 911 Commission didn't address
any of Edmonds' accusations, including her closed-door testimony
that in April 2001, a long-term FBI informant had revealed "Osama
Bin Laden was planning a major terrorist attack in the United States,
targeting 4-5 major cities," and that "the attack was
going to involve airplanes."
You've got to wonder - if the 911 Commission left out that crucial
tidbit, then what else did it fail to mention?
But the whole inquiry was a farce from the start. Appointing Henry
Kissinger (notorious for covering up US involvement with murderous
South American dictatorships) as chairman was the first clue. Replacing
him with former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean was the second.
According to Fortune magazine (Jan. 22 2003),
"Kean appears to have a bizarre link to the very terror network
he's investigating - al Qaeda . Kean is a director of petroleum
giant Amerada Hess, which in 1998 formed a joint venture - known
as Delta Hess - with Delta Oil, a Saudi Arabian company, to develop
oil fields in Azerbaijan. One of Delta's backers is Khalid bin Mahfouz,
a shadowy Saudi patriarch married to one of Osama bin Laden's sisters.
Mahfouz, who is suspected of funding charities linked to al Qaeda,
is even named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by families of Sept.
For the record, bin Mahfouz denies bin Laden is his brother-in-law
and also denies ever having had ownership interest in Delta Oil.
Interesting coincidence though that Hess severed ties with Delta
just three weeks before Kean was appointed to the 911 Commission.
Another interesting coincidence: 28 pages
of the inquiry's final report, covering "specific sources of
foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers," were
blanked out. According to an official quoted in The New Republic
(Aug. 1 2003), "There's a lot more in the 28 pages than money
. We're talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from
the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government."
Very murky indeed. And a third interesting coincidence surrounds
the deadly anthrax-laced letters that hit the nation within weeks
of 911. While "shocked" administration members were quick
to blame Osama bin Laden and/or Saddam Hussein, they failed to mention
one intriguing point: claims that Bush's staff had started taking
Cipro, an anthrax-treatment drug, weeks before the attacks occurred.
According to the public-interest group Judicial
Watch: "In October 2001, press reports revealed that White
House staff had been on a regimen of the powerful antibiotic Cipro
since the September 11th terrorist attacks." Judicial Watch
Chairman Larry Klayman notes, "One doesn't simply start taking
a powerful antibiotic for no good reason. The American people are
entitled to know what the White House staffers knew."
While the anthrax attacks have never been solved, the Bush administration
has had some clear results: increased justification to reduce civil
liberties, to rev up biodefense spending and to create more hysteria
around the need to invade Iraq.
The idea of using civilian casualties for political
gain was codified in Operation Northwoods, a 1960's plan by top
US military brass to orchestrate terrorism in American cities and
blame it on Castro, thereby creating public support for a war with
Cuba. More recently, the September 2000 neocon guidebook, Rebuilding
America's Defenses, claims "some catastrophic and catalyzing
event - like a new Pearl Harbor" would help speed up the process
of transforming the US into "tomorrow's dominant force."
So it's no surprise that over the past four years, we've learned
to pay attention when the Bush administration and its minions in
the press start dropping hints about the next big attack. They've
most recently floated the idea of a catastrophic October Surprise
assault, which they suggest could necessitate postponing the election.
One official warned, "I can tell you one thing, we won't be
like Spain," in an apparent reference to the conservative ruling
party's having lost power days after the Madrid train bombings.
But Spain's election was a high-turnout, democratic
contest in which voters fair and square booted an unpopular, lying,
war-mongering administration. Why can't US voters have the same
Another apparent option is a strike on Iran, maybe preceded by
a stateside assault blamed on Tehran. A raving Washington Post column
(July 23 2004) summed it up with:
"Did we invade the wrong country? One of the lessons being
drawn from the Sept. 11 report is that Iran was the real threat.
It had links to al Qaeda, allowed some of the Sept. 11 hijackers
to transit and is today harboring al Qaeda leaders . If nothing
is done, a fanatical terrorist regime openly dedicated to the destruction
of the 'Great Satan' will have both nuclear weapons and the terrorists
and missiles to deliver them. All that stands between us and that
is either revolution or preemptive strike."
Of course, the recent Pentagon spy scandal (in which top-secret
presidential policy papers on Iran were reportedly leaked to Israeli
officials) may put a damper on this alternative. The scandal highlights
the neocons' power struggle with other administration members, and
until that battle is decided, there won't be consensus enough to
invade Iran. But if Israel does decide to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities,
then chances are strong Bush will jump in too, and we could be looking
As a sidelight, there's an interesting connection
between the Pentagon spy scandal and September 11th: allegations
that Israeli intelligence may have known about the 911 attacks in
advance and not told the United States. In December 2001, Fox News
ran a four-part series suggesting that Israeli intelligence may
have had prior knowledge of the attack, through its spying on Arabs
in the United States.
So where does all of this leave us as the third anniversary of
911 approaches? With more questions than answers. Whodunnit? Should
we blame Osama and the hijackers, Saudi funders, Israeli intelligence
agents, the Bush administration or some combination? And Whatdunnit?
Was it airplanes, bombs, missiles, or some combination? And when
will we ever learn the truth?
Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and
the ensuing cover-up, President Roosevelt's Chief of Staff reportedly
told other officers, "Gentlemen, this goes to the grave with
Unfortunately, today it seems that the president and his staff
are busily digging our graves in order to satisfy their own grandiose
This outrage must stop.
On this day in history
Friday October 15, 2004
The disastrous end last night
to the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier could not have happened
in a more damaging way. The affair had already seriously compromised
relations between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin while it created
new divisions among the Palestinians as Mr Arafat was obliged to
bear down heavily on Hamas. It also completely devalued yesterday's
Nobel prize award and the peace process with it. All this is now
raised to a new degree of crisis by the bungled attempt to rescue
Nachson Waxman near the village of Bir Nabala and its wider implications.
Mr Rabin had gone out of his way to hold Mr Arafat responsible for
the 'life and safety' of the young soldier. He and all Israeli officials
insisted - on the basis, they claimed, of the most reliable intelligence
information, - that Corporal Waxman was held in the Gaza Strip.
The detailed chronology is still lacking but there must be a supposition
that all or part of the Israeli assertion was a blind to persuade
the kidnappers that their real location - in the West Bank, under
Israeli control - was unknown. Last night it was being suggested
that the fact the kidnappers were not, after all, in Gaza, somehow
let Mr Arafat 'off the hook' and the peace process with it. It is
just as likely to impale all concerned more deeply on the same hook.
Mr Arafat will be accused - by supporters as well as enemies - of
succumbing to a mixture of blackmail and fraud. Mr Rabin and his
ministers will be accused of having staged a multiple deception.
Mr Arafat was fooled though most Israelis will say that the action
he took against Hamas was long overdue. But if so (and it is more
likely to have weakened his position) it is hard to see how he can
credibly continue to maintain such action now. The Hamas kidnappers
were fooled too - and so were their intermediaries - into agreeing
to a 24-hour extension which gave the Israeli special forces time
to move in. There is a grim logic about such events: a successful
operation would have blurred these questions. It was not succcessful,
and the military failure is greatly compounded at the political
level. Of course the kidnapping was inhumane and evil. But it achieved
the result which Hamas evidently desired. The kidnapping of Corporal
Waxman touched a deep emotional nerve among Israelis who for decades
have regarded their nation as one in which everyone is a soldier.
Mr Rabin was undoubtedly under pressure from public opinion and
from the unprincipled opportunism of the Likud opposition. The peace
process itself became a hostage to the hostage-taking of Hamas -
which was their intention. But some Israeli commentators, despite
the hysteria, were still able to point to the underlying problem.
Mr Arafat's effectiveness is limited by the fact that he controls
much less than a state within a state. The people of Gaza have yet
to be convinced that the peace process will change their lives.
Much more has to be done to encourage Palestinians to transfer their
support to the PLO.
An end to the negotiations between Mr Rabin and Mr Arafat would
be a fatal blow. We must hope that these negotiations will survive,
but, inevitably, last night's debacle has put them under even greater
Mrs. Cheney, there's more to U.S. history
| By Steven J. Ross
Los Angeles Times
One of the marks of authoritarian regimes is
their effort to stop the spread of knowledge and free speech. In
May 1933, Nazi sympathizers in Berlin burned 20,000 "degenerate"
books, many of them written by Jews and anti-fascists such as Albert
Einstein, Bertolt Brecht and Franz Kafka. Here at home, slaveholders
were so frightened by the power of the word that throughout the
antebellum South legislatures made it a crime to teach slaves to
read and write.
Now, Lynne Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney's
wife and the former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities,
has placed herself in the company of dictators and slaveholders.
At her urging, the Education Department destroyed more than 300,000
copies of a booklet designed to help parents and children learn
more about America's past.
Cheney objected to the booklet's reference to the
National Standards for History, guidelines for teaching history
in secondary schools that were developed at UCLA in the 1990s and
that suggest that American history should be taught with an eye
not only to America's successes but to its struggles and dark moments
Cheney could learn important lessons from the kind of history she
apparently finds so un-American.
One is that the lines between authoritarianism and democracy have
never been as sharply drawn as we might think. In his latest novel,
"The Plot Against America," Philip Roth describes what
the United States might have been like if voters had spurned Franklin
D. Roosevelt and elected Charles A. Lindbergh, an anti-Semite and
admirer of Adolf Hitler, as their president in 1940. In 1935, Sinclair
Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here" presented a scenario in
which newly elected President Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip,
the demagogic darling of big business and religious extremists,
stripped Americans of their rights, destroying the power of the
legislature and judiciary and installing a fascist dictatorship.
What was so horrible about the National Standards for History that
any reference to them would merit the mass destruction of several
hundred thousand volumes of knowledge? According
to Cheney, the standards failed to recognize the achievements of
America's traditional heroes and focused instead on the accomplishments
of women, minorities and radicals such as Harriet Tubman, the former
slave who helped found the Underground Railroad. As Cheney wrote
in 1994, "We are a better people than the national standards
indicate, and our children deserve to know it."
Cheney insisted that the standards focused too
much on the negatives of the past, on the presence of such stains
on our democratic legacy as the Ku Klux Klan and McCarthyism, and
not enough on great heroic figures such as Paul Revere, Gen. Robert
E. Lee and the Wright brothers.
What Cheney really opposes is the prominent place
that "social history" has assumed over the last 30 years.
Known among its practitioners as "history from the bottom up,"
social historians argue that American history has too often been
taught as the history of famous white men, political parties and
Far less attention has been paid to the history of the "ordinary"
people who helped build our nation. Social historians do not reject
the important contributions of the former, as Cheney has repeatedly
insisted. Rather, they suggest that there are two American histories
worth knowing: the history of the nation and the history of its
peoples. The latter is composed of a number of different histories:
the history of rich and poor; of employers and employees; of men
and women; of blacks, whites, Asians and Indians; of Protestants,
Catholics and Jews.
As someone who has taught, written about and studied history for
more than 25 years, I would suggest that good historical writing
tries to help us understand the full contours of the past, paying
equal attention to our triumphs and tragedies. Historians should
not be afraid to hail the heroic figures of the past, but those
should also include the less-than-famous men and women who struggled
on behalf of democracy. Likewise, historians should never avoid
dealing with the dark stories of our past — such as slavery,
the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and McCarthyism.
As our founding fathers understood, democracies are not perfect;
they only grow stronger by learning from the mistakes of the past.
Destroying books that disagree with one's vision of history will
never take us closer to truth and freedom. As President Eisenhower
warned Dartmouth College graduates in June 1953: "Don't think
you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they
ever existed." His words remain true today.
Steven J. Ross is chairman of the history department at the
University of Southern California and author of "Working-Class
Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America"
WASHINGTON - Fire broke out Wednesday night
in a basement storage room in the Rayburn House Office Building.
No injuries were reported.
A Capitol Police spokeswoman, Sgt. Contricia Ford, said the building
was evacuated at about 10:50 p.m. EDT. Only a few workers were in
the building at the time. Firefighters extinguished the blaze less
than an hour later, Ford said.
The cause of the fire was unknown.
Rayburn is one of several office buildings for lawmakers near the
WASHINGTON - A second reporter was held in
contempt Wednesday by a federal judge for refusing to reveal confidential
sources before a grand jury investigating the leak of an undercover
CIA officer's identity.
U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered Time magazine reporter
Matthew Cooper jailed for up to 18 months and the magazine fined
$1,000 a day for refusing to comply with a grand jury subpoena seeking
the testimony. Hogan suspended the jail time and fine pending the
outcome of an appeal.
The ruling was nearly identical to one issued
last week by Hogan in the case of Judith Miller, a reporter for
The New York Times who is also refusing to name her sources.
Miller and Cooper, both represented by lawyer Floyd Abrams, are
expected to join together in appealing their cases on First Amendment
"No reporter in the United States should have to go to jail
for simply doing their job," said Cooper, who is Time's White
Hogan repeatedly has cited the Supreme Court in ruling that reporters
do not enjoy special protection from providing testimony to grand
juries unless they can show prosecutorial harassment or bad faith.
Hogan said he could find no evidence of either on the part of U.S.
Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who was appointed special prosecutor
in the investigation.
"I'm convinced this is not a fishing expedition or an improper
exercise of prosecutorial authority," Hogan said.
The investigation concerns whether a crime was committed when someone
leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose name was
published by syndicated columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003.
The column appeared after Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph
Wilson, wrote a newspaper opinion column criticizing President Bush's
claim that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger — a claim the
CIA had asked Wilson to check out.
Wilson has said he believes his wife's name was leaked as payback
for his outspokenness.
Disclosure of the identity of an undercover intelligence
officer can be a federal crime, if prosecutors can show the leak
was intentional and the leaker knew about the officer's secret status.
Novak, who cited two senior administration officials
as his sources, has refused to say whether he has testified or been
subpoenaed. Fitzgerald declined comment Wednesday.
Prosecutors have interviewed President Bush, Vice President Cheney,
Secretary of State Colin Powell and other current or former administration
officials in the investigation. At least five reporters have been
In August, Cooper agreed to provide limited testimony about a conversation
he had with Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's
chief of staff, after Libby released Cooper from his promise of
confidentiality. Fitzgerald then issued a second, broader subpoena
seeking the names of other sources.
"The prosecutor came back a few days later and basically asked
for everything in my notebook," Cooper said.
Abrams said he expected legal filings in the appeals of both Miller
and Cooper to be completed by Nov. 10 before the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia Circuit, which would then likely schedule
an oral argument. That means the CIA leak criminal investigation,
which began in September 2003, could drag on into early 2005.
If reporters who live by their sources were
obliged to die by their sources, New York Times reporter Judith
Miller would be stinking up her family tomb right now.
In the 18-month run-up to the war on Iraq, Miller grew incredibly
close to numerous Iraqi sources, both named and anonymous, who gave
her detailed interviews about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
Yet 100 days after the fall of Baghdad,
of the sensational allegations about chemical, biological, or nuclear
weapons given to Miller have panned out, despite the furious crisscrossing
of Iraq by U.S. weapons hunters. [...]
New York Times reporter Judith Miller played
a highly unusual role in an Army unit assigned to search for dangerous
Iraqi weapons, according to U.S. military officials, prompting criticism
that the unit was turned into what one official called a "rogue
Viewed from one perspective, Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent,
nationally recognized expert on weapons of mass destruction and
co-author of a best-selling book on bioterrorism, was acting as
an aggressive journalist. She ferreted out sources, used her long-standing
relationship with Chalabi to pursue potential stories and, in the
process, helped the United States take custody of two important
Iraqis. Some military officers say she cared passionately about
her reporting without abandoning her objectivity, and some of her
critics may be overly concerned with regulations and perhaps jealous
of the attention Miller's unit received...
In a May 1 e-mail to Times colleague John Burns, The Post reported,
Miller said: "I've been covering Chalabi for about 10 years,
and have done most of the stories about him for our paper. . . .
He has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our
One military officer [...] says that Miller sometimes "intimidated"
Army soldiers by invoking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or Undersecretary
Douglas Feith... Rosenthal said.
and immigrant rights advocates say House Republicans are using legislation
based on the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations as cover to
implement a series of troubling, un-related reforms condoning torture,
limiting immigration and increasing surveillance of both non-citizens
The House will vote on the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation
Act this week. Opponents say the Republican leadership rushed the
legislation to the floor without much time for debate or public
input, just as Congress prepares to recess for a pre-election break.
In addition to overhauling national security agencies, as recommended
by the 9/11 Commission, the legislation would also allow the US
government to deport immigrants to countries that allow torture,
severely restrict asylum seekers, and compile a massive database
of information on law-abiding citizens. The 9/11 Commission did
not recommend any of these reforms, some of which were found in
the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, commonly known as "Patriot
II" -- legislation so alarming, public outcry kept it from
coming to a vote. Recently lawmakers in both the House and Senate
have introduced legislation that would revive pieces of that controversial
"The House is acting as a rogue group," Tracy Hong, director
of policy for the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium,
a civil rights and advocacy group. "They’re defying the
House Republicans disagree, saying the bill would prevent terrorists
from entering the US. In a written statement, House Speaker Dennis
Hastert (R-IL), said the bill "will improve terrorism prevention
and prosecution, so we can get the terrorists -- and those who help
them -- before they get us. It will improve border security and
make it harder for terrorists to travel to America. It will improve
international cooperation and better coordinate anti-terrorism efforts
with our allies."
Congressman F. James Sessenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), a leading supporter
of the bill, also released a statement calling the bill "a
firm, serious stand against terrorism," which will both protect
civil liberties and make the country safer.
The Senate version, also expected to come to a vote this week,
contains few of the extra provisions. If the House bill passes,
the differing versions will be reconciled in committee.
The bill would allow the government to deport non-citizens who
committed serious crimes or human rights violations to countries
where they would likely be tortured. The provision appears to be
in direct violation of the Convention Against Torture, signed by
the US in 1989 Article Three of which states: "No State Party
shall expel, return…or extradite a person to another State
where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would
be in danger of being subjected to torture." [...]
Civil liberties activists say the legislation also contains disturbing
provisions increasing government surveillance of law-abiding citizens.
The Senate version would create an "Information Sharing Network,"
combining commercial and government information into a massive database,
similar to the controversial Matrix (previous coverage) system already
rejected by most states.
Timothy Edgar, legislative counsel for the ACLU, said the legislation
would also allow private individuals to access the data, with "no
real protections for privacy." Edgar added that companies like
Seisint, creators of Matrix, could attempt to sell their extensive
databases to the government if the bill passes. Matrix came under
scrutiny when state officials and civil liberties activists raised
concerns about the safety of the data, which included everything
from hunting and fishing licenses to photographs of neighbors and
hand of the law
Last week's seizure of material belonging to anti-globalisation
websites could have serious consequences for citizen publishers.
Bobbie Johnson reports
| Thursday October 14, 2004
It is a story with components
that would have most conspiracy theorists running for the nearest
tinfoil hat shop: a radical media organisation, the FBI and an apparently
anonymous foreign government.
Last week, Rackspace, a hosting company with headquarters in Texas,
handed two of its London-based web servers to the FBI after a subpoena
for their contents was issued by a US district court. The servers
contained material belonging to the Independent Media Centre - better
known as Indymedia - a conglomeration of global radical anti-globalisation
sites produced by ordinary citizens. Indymedia claims it was not
informed of the decision to seize its content, nor has it been told
the reasons, despite the fact that 20 sites and more than 1m pieces
of content were affected.
The FBI has said it was acting on behalf of a foreign government,
though for the American subpoena to have power in the UK, it would
need approval from either the British courts or the home secretary.
Such agreements would usually be made over investigations into terrorism,
though nobody involved has been able to confirm this.
Rackspace said it is complying with a court order "which establishes
procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations
such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering".
Clearly, such serious allegations against any media organisation
- even one produced by amateurs - could be devastating.
"The site crashed last Thursday at 4pm," says one Indymedia
UK volunteer who asked to remain anonymous. "Since then, the
only official communication we've had was from Rackspace, but they
would only say they couldn't tell us what was going on. No one at
the FBI has talked to us about this, and we have not been told anything."
With the situation shrouded in a legal fog, the often-controversial
grassroots news organisation has struggled to operate its sites
across countries including the UK, France, Belgium, Serbia, Portugal,
Italy and parts of South America.
"This seizure has grave implications for free speech and privacy,"
says Kurt Opsahl, staff attorney of Electronic Frontier Foundation,
a digital rights campaign group working with Indymedia to uncover
the root of the FBI action.
It is not the first time Indymedia has come to blows with law enforcement.
During the G8 summit in Genoa three years ago, buildings used by
Indymedia journalists were among those raided by Italian police.
Computers were destroyed and equipment seized in an action that
international press watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres described
as unprecedented and incredibly violent.
Founded as an anti-globalisation news source covering the protests
against the World Trade Organisation summit held in Seattle in 1999,
Indymedia quickly turned into an international network of citizen
journalists. It provides a voice of underground political opinion
around the world, though its open door policy has seen the occasional
publication of unsavoury and offensive content, including anti-semitism
and incitement to violence - though representatives are quick to
The latest raid is more than just emblematic of the conflict between
one radical anti-government organisation and the establishment.
It highlights the potential for conflict between law enforcement
agencies and citizen publishers and sends a warning to anyone involved
in web publishing operations.
"Certainly on face value it looks like an attempt to gag an
independent media organisation," says Barry Hugill, a spokesman
for civil liberties organisation Liberty. "It is just possible
that there is a legitimate reason for this action, but we certainly
need more clarification."
At a time when mainstream media is being opened up to the masses,
such crackdowns deal a blow to citizen journalism. Threats to the
freedom of web publishers could damage the amateur investigators
and webloggers who are the lifeblood of independent online journalism.
The lack of information given about these seizures raises the potential
threat that anyone could see their content removed without warning
or explanation. It shows how fragile internet publishing can be
- even in the hands of major media organisations.
"It is easy to go after the provider or the hosting company
to close down a website," says Yaman Akdeniz, the director
of Cyber Rights and Civil Liberties and a lecturer at the University
of Leeds cyberlaw research unit. "Unfortunately, arbitrary
censorship exists. There are less risky places to publish information
and there are more risky places. I do not recommend anybody to rely
on a hosting company in the UK, and certainly our cyber-rights.org
servers are run outside the UK for a variety of reasons."
The Bush administration’s
allies in Congress, led by J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the speaker
of the House, have launched another assault on constitutionally
protected civil liberties with a bill many are calling Patriot Act
II (PA II). However, it is not to be confused with the 2003 version
of Patriot Act II. But according to the Associated Press, in a draft
of the House GOP legislation, many of the provisions are similar
to the draft copy of the “Domestic Security Enhancement Act
of 2003” that leaked out of the Justice Department in January
Many Democrats and civil libertarians charge the new PA II authorizes
heavy-handed infringements on civil liberties. House Democratic
leaders and civil liberties advocates said on Sept. 22 that the
Republican bill ostensibly responding to the findings of the 9-11
commission would go well beyond the panel’s recommendations.
It would call for broad new powers for law enforcement agencies,
they said, and would include new authority to conduct electronic
surveillance in terrorism investigations.
Among the provisions, said AP, are measures on the deportation
of aliens who are suspected of being linked to foreign revolutionary
groups which have been labeled as terrorists, mandatory pretrial
detention for terrorism suspects, warrants against non-citizens
even when a target can’t be tied to a foreign power and enhanced
penalties for threats or attempts to use chemical or nuclear weapons.
John Feehery is a spokesman for Hastert. Feehery told AP that criticism
of the bill was unwarranted as of the evening of Sept. 22, because
the legislation was still not in final form and was not ready for
release to the public. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom
DeLay (R-Texas) agreed on Sept. 22 that House members were still
working on a final version of the legislation.
But critics warn that the proposed law is aimed against the entire
U.S. population, not a minority of Arab immigrants.
The proposal, they say, would grant the government the power to
strip citizenship of native-born Americans and deport them without
any evidence of wrongdoing, even though this would be contrary to
It would also allow for secret arrests, secret trials and secret
torturing of “suspects.” Habeas corpus, Americans’
most sacred right, would be eliminated.
The law would also remove all restrictions on police spying on
Patriot Act II would create 15 new death penalties, one of which
could be applied to acts of protest. Under the Hastert measure’s
definitions, anti-war protesters could be deemed terrorists. In
fact, any dissident could be spied on, harassed, and imprisoned
indefinitely for exercising their legal and constitutionally protected
This legislation would give the government the same power that
Stalin and Julius Caesar gave themselves, said one detractor.
While terrorism certainly is a threat that must be addressed, curtailing
the civil liberties of innocent Americans is by no means a way of
AFP readers will recall that the first so-called Patriot Act was
passed without the members of Congress being allowed to view the
draft of the bill. Those who wanted it to be read and debated were
told to vote for it or they would be blamed for the next terrorist
outrage. It passed overwhelmingly.
Many experts fear similar tactics will be used
to pass PA II, keeping the public ignorant of the proposed law’s
existence until it is too late.
| A new layer of security at the
nation's airports last month caught a Mira Mesa woman by surprise.
Now Ava Kingsford wants other women to know just how uncomfortable
the "secondary screening" process can become.
Kingsford, 36, was traveling back to San Diego from Denver International
Airport with her 3-month-old son when she was flagged for a pat-down
search, possibly because of an expired driver's license.
She took the procedure in stride until the female Transportation
Security Administration screener announced, "I'm going to feel
your breasts now."
Kingsford, wearing a snug-fitting tank top, objected to what she
considered an unduly invasive search. More security agents arrived,
warned her that she couldn't board her flight without submitting
to the final step of the search, and the situation escalated.
"I was crying; I was shaking," she said. And just after
she tugged down the top of her shirt just a bit to show that she
wasn't hiding anything, the agents told her she wasn't going anywhere.
She ended up renting a car for a two-day drive home.
"It was unbelievable," Kingsford said. "I think
there is a line they cannot cross."
But Transportation Security Administration officials say their
screeners did nothing wrong and that Kingsford's experience reflects
a brutal new reality in passenger checkpoint screening.
The agency announced the extra security measures Sept. 16, just
a few weeks after two Russian jetliners exploded in midair, killing
all aboard. Authorities believe two women smuggled explosives onto
the aircraft, possibly in "torso packs" underneath their
Bob Kapp, customer service manager for the TSA in Denver, said
that to conduct a thorough pat-down search of women, "it does
require going beneath, between and above the breasts."
In these first few weeks of the procedure, Kapp said, "a few
people have been a little bit alarmed" by the touching. But
he called it "a sign of the times" that is probably here
to stay. Screeners are coached to try to minimize the discomfort
by explaining each step as they go along.
Kingsford, however, thinks there ought to be some common sense
to the approach and that the TSA is going to get a lot more complaints.
"There is nothing that I could possibly have been hiding there,"
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Bill Dohse, of Plymouth,
planned to visit the Capitol next week with his wife and daughter,
who will be on a school break.
On the family's schedule was a tour with Sen. Mark Dayton's office.
But after Dayton announced Tuesday that he has closed his Capitol
Hill office because of concerns over a terrorist attack, Dohse is
no longer sure he wants to make the trip. "If
he knows something we don't, should we be going?" said
Dohse, an electrical engineer manager.
About 200 Capitol Hill staffers were asking the same question
Wednesday as they filed into a meeting with Senate Sergeant-at-Arms
What they heard was a chronology from Dayton's office of how he
made his decision, although not the details of the intelligence
briefing that swayed him.
Over much of the political landscape in Washington on Wednesday,
Dayton's move was met with bipartisan derision,
concern, and in some cases, laughter.
Washington Mayor Anthony Williams, a Democrat, said, "I'm
literally scratching my head trying to figure out what frequency
D.C. House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said that
lawmakers have an obligation to avoid creating an atmosphere of
fear. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, issued a statement saying "Though
the threat is always higher in D.C. than it is in Minneapolis or
Mexia (Texas), I know of no specific threat that would cause me
to shut down the office."
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, who has an office next to Dayton,
sent a tongue-in-cheek letter asking if he could use Dayton's vacant
In his meeting with the Capitol Hill staffers, the sergeant-at-arms
Pickle said he tried to assuage the staff members' fears by telling
them Dayton had not been told anything that other senators had not.
"Senator Dayton's decision caused
some concern to the Hill population here, because many of them perhaps
thought he was privy to information that they were not,"
Pickle said after the 45-minute meeting. "They all understand
now that what Senator Dayton did was his prerogative and he exercised
an abundance of caution."
Dayton and his staff defended his decision Wednesday, describing
alarming but unspecified threat assessments that they say have not
been as widely distributed as some other senators suggest.
"I believe in my soul that I made the right and necessary
decision," said Dayton, sticking to his assessment that he
would not advise anybody to visit Capitol Hill unless absolutely
Dayton cited a "top secret intelligence
report" for his decision to close his Russell Building office
until after the Nov. 2 elections.
Dayton did not, however, cite the specific nature of the threat,
saying it would be illegal to disclose the
Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist,
R-Tenn., said the threat Dayton appeared to be reacting to had been
issued in August, and that since then no new information has been
developed except regular updates for members of Congress.
She said the information received in August, which she did not
specify, led to an expansion of the security perimeter around the
That account was disputed Wednesday by Dayton chief of staff Jack
Danielson, who addressed the sergeant-at-arms' meeting of congressional
Danielson said Dayton attended a closed-door
briefing on Iraq by Senate leaders on Sept. 22. Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld and other Pentagon brass were there.
At the meeting, he said, Frist announced a new threat assessment
dated Sept. 15, and encouraged senators to read it. Dayton told
his staff that Frist described the intelligence report as sobering.
Dayton read the report the following day,
Sept. 23. "It alarmed him,"
Danielson said. "It was very different in tone from previous
Dayton also discussed the report with Pickle, a former secret
service agent. Dayton quoted Pickle as saying
it was the most "declarative" threat assessment he'd seen
in 30 years.
Pickle confirmed Dayton's account, adding that "all
the senators who saw it found it very sobering."
But, Pickle added, "there was nothing specific. ... It didn't
mention the Capitol or any other public institution."
According to a Senate staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity,
the briefing included a report of possible terrorist surveillance
around the Capitol.
A separate federal official said Dayton
and other senators were shown a CIA document that projected a worst-case
scenario involving synchronized terrorist attacks on multiple U.S.
cities. The scenario was based on an
uncorroborated piece of intelligence that did not contain any specifics,
the official said.
Between Sept. 23 and Oct. 1, Dayton talked to Frist three times,
trying unsuccessfully to get him to convene a meeting of senators
to discuss security precautions.
On Friday, Dayton told his staff he would close the office.
Some Republicans have questioned this time lag between reading
the report and shutting the office.
"None of this stuff is black and white," Danielson said.
"All of us who work in Washington bear this risk. But the value
of gathering intelligence and making threat assessments is that
you make decisions based on them, and you take precautions."
Dayton said he read an update of the report over the weekend.
He said that while the update "qualified" some of the
threat assessments, it did not "retract" them.
Pickle said the updated report "dilutes" the original
intelligence assessment somewhat.
Others, especially Republicans, continue to question the message
that Dayton sent the public by closing his office.
"It's irresponsible to scare your staff, and it's irresponsible
to send the message to the public that your capital is not safe,"
said Erich Mische, chief of staff to Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.
Mische said he spent part of the day calming nerves on his own
staff. "It wasn't helpful, and it wasn't productive,"
Mische said of Dayton's move.
Dayton said that he expected his decision to be questioned, but
that he feels other senators, most of whom
have left Washington for an election recess, are asking their staffs
to take a risk that they are not taking themselves.
"If I didn't have the courage of my convictions, I don't
belong here" in the Senate, he said.
Some of the tourists visiting the Capitol Wednesday were aware
of Dayton's action.
"You've got to live your life,"
said Clark Milner, a tourist from Colorado Springs. Milner, visiting
with his wife, three children and his parents, said "You've
got to keep doing what you normally do."
WASHINGTON (AP) - Medical milestone or privacy
invasion? A tiny computer chip approved Wednesday for implantation
in a patient's arm can speed vital information about a patient's
medical history to doctors and hospitals. But critics warn that
it could open new ways to imperil the confidentiality of medical
The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that Applied Digital
Solutions of Delray Beach, Fla., could market the VeriChip, an implantable
computer chip about the size of a grain of rice, for medical purposes.
The news pleased investors. On Wednesday, Applied Digital shares
were up $1.45, or 68.4 percent, at $3.57 on the Nasdaq Stock Market
- near the middle of their 52-week range of $1.94 to $5.
With the pinch of a syringe, the microchip is inserted under the
skin in a procedure that takes less than 20 minutes and leaves no
stitches. Silently and invisibly, the dormant chip stores a code
that releases patient-specific information when a scanner passes
Think UPC code. The identifier, emblazoned
on a food item, brings up its name and price on the cashier's screen.
At the doctor's office the codes stamped onto chips, once scanned,
would reveal such information as a patient's allergies and prior
treatments, speeding care.
The microchips have already been implanted in 1 million pets. But
the chip's possible dual use for tracking people's movements - as
well as speeding delivery of their medical information to emergency
rooms - has raised alarm.
"If privacy protections aren't built in at the outset, there
could be harmful consequences for patients," said Emily Stewart,
a policy analyst at the Health Privacy Project. [...]
WASHINGTON - The government agency in charge of airport security
spent nearly a half-million dollars on an awards ceremony at a lavish
hotel, including $81,000 for plaques and $500 for cheese displays,
according to an internal report obtained by The Associated Press.
Awards were presented to 543 Transportation Security Administration
employees and 30 organizations, including a "lifetime achievement
award" for one worker with the 2-year-old agency. Almost $200,000
was spent on travel and lodging for attendees.
The investigation by the Homeland Security Department's
inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin, also found the TSA gave its
senior executives bonuses averaging $16,000, higher than at any
other federal government agency, and failed to provide adequate
justification in more than a third of the 88 cases examined.
The report said lower-level employees were shortchanged, with a
far lower percentage receiving bonuses.
"A substantial inequity exists in TSA's performance recognition
program between executive and non-executive employees," the
TSA spokeswoman Amy von Walter said the agency believes the bonuses
and party were justified "given the hours and productivity
of the work force during this critical period."
This year, said von Walter, the TSA will conduct awards ceremonies
at individual airports, as well as a much smaller and less expensive
event at its headquarters in November.
Congressional skeptics have criticized the TSA's hiring and spending
practices during its short existence. Republicans
say the agency has grown far larger than they envisioned when it
was created following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Ervin also is investigating why the agency's private recruiters
worked out of lush resort hotels with golf courses, pools and spas.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said that he had not seen the full report
but that it indicated "a colossal waste of money."
"There's something terribly wrong with that agency,"
Dorgan said. "Of all the agencies, that's the one that's supposed
to be working full-time against terrorist attacks."
The awards banquet, which cost $461,745, was held at the Grand
Hyatt, which bills itself as "one of the most magnificent"
hotels in the nation's capital. According to the report, the agency
chose that site because it was the only hotel available on Nov.
19, 2003, the agency's second anniversary. It also was one of the
few places that could accommodate about 600 honorees and as many
While the inspector general noted the agency sought competitive
bids for the party planner and chose the company with the lowest
estimate, it found the "costs of the ceremony and reception
were higher than necessary."
The event planning company, MarCom Group Inc. of Fairfax, Va.,
was paid $85,552 for its work and given an additional $81,767 for
plaques, $5,196 for official photographs, $1,486 for three balloon
arches and $1,509 for signs.
The reception included finger food, coffee and cake that averaged
$33 per person. Seven cakes cost a total of $1,850; three cheese
In a written response, the TSA said the costs
"were neither extraordinary nor incurred without careful consideration
of the amount, the reasonableness of the cost, and value the activities
would have to the employees."
The inspector general also expressed concern that the TSA was more
generous than most other federal agencies in awarding bonuses to
executives. Federal agencies on average gave cash awards to 49 percent
of their executives in 2002, while 76 percent of TSA executives
received them in 2003. [...]
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A computer crash that
forced a pre-election test of electronic voting machines to be postponed
was trumpeted by critics as proof of the balloting technology's
The incident in Palm Beach County — which is infamous for
its hanging and pregnant chads during the 2000 presidential election
— did not directly involve the touch-screen terminals on which
nearly one in three U.S. voters will cast ballots on Election Day.
But critics of the ATM-like machines said it proved how fickle
any computer-based voting system can be and highlighted the need
for touch-screens to produce paper records.
Tuesday's public dry run had to be postponed until Friday because
a computer server that tabulates data from the touch-screen machines
crashed, said county elections supervisor Theresa LePore. Such "logic
and accuracy" tests are required by law.
She said she suspected Hurricane Jeanne,
which struck in September, may have zapped electricity and air conditioning
to the room where the server was stored, causing temperatures to
soar to 90 degrees or more and possibly causing the crash.
The storm wiped out power to nearly 1.3 million homes and businesses
The incident raised questions in the minds of computer hardware
and software engineers about the reliability of other computers
on which Floridians will depend for an accurate vote count on Nov.
2 — especially touch-screen machines. [...]
GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli air strikes killed
five Palestinians in Gaza Thursday after Hamas militants renewed
threats to rain rockets on nearby Israel despite a massive 16-day-old
army offensive aimed at crushing them.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon seeks a decisive triumph over
militants to overcome rightist opposition to his plan to "disengage"
from conflict with Palestinians by evacuating all Jewish settlers
from Gaza and a few from the West Bank in 2005.
Missiles killed two Hamas gunmen in the sprawling urban Jabalya
refugee camp in north Gaza stormed by more than 200 tanks and troop
carriers after a Hamas rocket killed two toddlers across the border
in Israel on Sept. 29.
Helicopters backing up a separate army sweep into
Rafah refugee camp in Gaza's far south fired three missiles, killing
two militants and a civilian man of 70, local medics and residents
said. A woman was seriously wounded.
Military sources said Israeli forces targeted gunmen who had just
launched an anti-tank rocket at troops operating to uncover tunnels
used to smuggle in weapons from nearby Egypt.
Witnesses said Israeli troops with armored
bulldozers also demolished about 20 houses before withdrawing at
around daybreak from Rafah, like Jabalya a frequent tinderbox
in a four-year-old Palestinian revolt against Israel.
Israeli forces frequently raze Palestinian buildings they say harbor
militants who fire at them or, in Rafah's case, are used as outlets
for arms-smuggling tunnels. Palestinians denounced the practice
as collective punishment.
100 PALESTINIANS KILLED IN TWO WEEKS
Israel's north Gaza incursion, its biggest inside
the desert territory since a Palestinian revolt began in 2000, has
killed at least 100 Palestinians. At least 57 were militants and
most of the rest believed to be civilians, medics say.
Israel says the great bulk of Palestinian dead were gunmen.
Three Israelis and a Thai farmworker in one of
Israel's isolated Jewish settlements in Gaza have also been killed.
Gaza militants have cranked up gun, rocket and mortar attacks of
late, hoping to portray any Israeli retreat from territories occupied
in the 1967 Middle East war as a victory.
Sharon is determined to batter them into quiescence first and intends
to hold onto swathes of the West Bank with most of the 240,000 settlers
as a tradeoff for dumping smaller Gaza.
Polls show most Israelis support Sharon's strategy, regarding Gaza
as too costly in lives and money.
But nationalists inside and outside Sharon's fraying right-wing
coalition see any pullback as appeasement of "Palestinian terrorism,"
and hard-line settlers planned a series of street rallies around
Israel later Thursday.
Sharon, trying to erode rightist resistance before an Oct. 25 parliament
vote on "disengagement," has promised to press on with
the north Gaza offensive against Hamas rocket squads.
JERUSALEM — Israel is set on a collision
course with the European Union and could turn into a pariah state,
like South Africa during the apartheid years, if the Mideast conflict
is not resolved, Israel's Foreign Ministry warns in a confidential
The document, put together by the ministry's Center for Political
Research, says the EU is pushing to become a major global player
in the next decade, and as a result, the United States, Israel's
main ally, could lose international influence. The forecast, written
for internal consumption, was obtained by The Associated Press today.
The analysts wrote that if the EU, a 25-nation alliance, overcomes
internal divisions and speaks in one voice, its global influence
would grow considerably, and be more in line with its powerful economy.
A more influential Europe would likely
demand greater Israeli compliance with international conventions
and could try to limit Israel's freedom of action in its conflict
with the Palestinians, the 25-page document said. Israel
might also have to pay a price for growing competition between the
European Union and the United States.
Israel-EU relations have long been shaky, and Israeli Foreign
Minister Silvan Shalom has repeatedly warned that Israel has to
work to strengthen ties with Europe. However,
Israel accuses the Europeans of pro-Palestinian bias and complains
of a growing wave of anti-Semitism in parts of Europe.
EU officials in Brussels said that while the EU and Israel have
sound relations in trade and scientific research, they have definite
differences over Mideast peacemaking.
They also said the alliance is seeking more of a say. ``Regarding
the Middle East peace process and our relations with Israel and
the Palestinians, there is no doubt that the role of the EU has
increased," said Christina Gallach, a spokeswoman for EU foreign
policy chief Javier Solana.
"We have had difficult moments (with Israel) when we responded
to things like the West Bank wall and now what is happening in Gaza,"
Gallach said, referring to Israel's separation barrier in the West
Bank and a major military offensive in Gaza.
The EU says Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in
2005 must be followed by major troop withdrawals in the West Bank,
and pave the way for Palestinian statehood. "None of this is
exactly what the Israelis want to hear, but we have to say it,''
She said the Israeli government wants to broaden the relationship
with Europe, without giving the EU a bigger role in resolving the
According to the Foreign Ministry document, which was written
in August, Israel could become increasingly isolated in the coming
years if Europe becomes more influential.
"In extreme circumstances, this could
put Israel on a collision course with the European Union. Such a
collision course holds the risk of Israel losing international legitimacy
and could lead to its isolation, in the manner of South Africa,"
according to the document.
"The EU could sharpen its expectation that Israel will comply
with international norms ... and honor the authority of the United
Nations and its agencies — an issue that has the potential
of leading to friction," the analysts wrote.
Israel has accused the United Nations of being
biased against Israel.
Even if the EU fails to become a major international player, Israel
will still become increasingly isolated if it fails to resolve the
conflict with the Palestinians, according to the document, which
was also quoted in reports today by Israel Army Radio and the Israeli
In the best possible outcome, with the Mideast conflict moving
toward solution, Israel and the European Union would still not be
on good terms, the document said. "In almost every scenario,
there is the potential for friction in Israel-EU relations,"
the analysts wrote.
Ron Prosor, director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, said
Israel is investing a great deal in improving ties with the EU,
especially in economic areas.
"The situation is not easy, but there is an investment here,
especially in Europe, that is important to us all," Prosor
told Israel's Army Radio.
Europe is Israel's major trading partner.
However, the Foreign Ministry analysts wrote that there is no
substitute for Israel's close political alliance with the United
EU ambassador to Israel Giancarlo Chevallard wrote on the delegation's
Web-site that when it comes to the Mideast conflict, Israel "tends
to keep Europe at arms length and prefers to place all its eggs
in the American basket.''
LONDON - A bomb alert forced a Virgin Atlantic
flight from Hong Kong to London's Heathrow airport to land at Stansted
airport, north of the British capital, as a "precautionary
measure", officials said.
Virgin Flight VF201 touched down at Stansted at 5:30 am (0430 GMT),
with 214 passengers and 18 crew, a Metropolitan Police spokesman
said, adding that police were searching the Airbus 340-600.
A Virgin spokesman in London said the flight was diverted as a
"The aircraft and passengers are now subject to full security
checks by the appropriate authorities," he added.
"The safety and welfare of our crew and passengers is Virgin
Atlantic's top priority and we would like to thank passengers for
their patience and we regret any inconvenience caused to them,"
Stansted airport mainly handles budget and charter flights within
Europe. Situated in Essex, in the east of England, it is in an area
that is less populated than Heathrow, which adjoins residential
suburbs of west London.
Thursday's security alert was the latest in a
number of incidents in Britain in which commercial flights have
been diverted as a result of threats which have turned out to be
Two flights from Athens to New York, and a third between Berlin
and London, were diverted on September 26, 28 and 30 after bomb
threats were received. In each case, the aircraft was searched,
and nothing was found.
Ten days ago, a Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 flying between Frankfurt,
Germany and New York was diverted to Manchester, in the north of
England, after a bomb threat.
It too was searched, then declared safe, enabling it to complete
its transatlantic journey.
LONDON (AP) - Foreign terrorist suspects detained
indefinitely without trial in Britain have suffered severe and possibly
irreparable damage to their mental health, a group of psychiatrists
who examined the men reported Wednesday.
The experts, who met eight men held under
Britain's anti-terrorist laws, said all displayed similar symptoms
of depression, anxiety, self-harm and thoughts of suicide.
"All of the men I saw were extremely desperate," said
Ian Robbins, a clinical psychologist at St. George's Hospital in
"All had considered suicide and had attempted self-harm,
either through cutting themselves or in one case by trying to hang
In their report, the seven psychiatrists
and one psychologist concluded mental health damage
"is inevitable under a regime which consists of indefinite
Under measures brought in after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on
the United States foreign terrorist suspects may be detained indefinitely
without charge or trial if they cannot safely be removed to another
country. Seventeen people have been held under the provision of
the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act; 11 remain in custody.
Britain's top court is currently considering an appeal by nine
of the men, who argue their detention is inconsistent with Britain's
In their report, the doctors said all the detainees
they saw were depressed and a number suffered from post-traumatic
stress disorder. Several had developed "significant psychotic
The experts said they doubted whether prison health care staff
were "adequately able to combat the deterioration in mental
Three of the men's wives who were interviewed by the doctors also
appeared to be clinically depressed, the report said.
The doctors examined the detainees at the request of their lawyer,
Gareth Peirce. They decided to release a joint report when they
realized "the circumstances of the detainees and their psychiatric
illnesses had features in common," said Dr. James MacKeith,
another of the report's authors.
"The damage to the health of these
people under these conditions is predictable and grave,"
"We cannot be sure whether they will be able to recover fully
from the damage thus caused."
A teenager accused of creating a "kill
list" composed of 15 students and staff at Ingraham High School
and posting the list on the Internet was arrested at the school
The 16-year-old, a junior at the North Seattle school, posted
the information to an Internet chatroom and signed the threats with
an alias. School officials were able to connect the teen with the
alias, said Patti Spencer, spokeswoman for Seattle Public Schools.
"It looks like it was some sort of kill list," said
Seattle police spokesman Officer Scott Moss. "Apparently he
was having problems with the students and teachers and he made a
list of who he wanted to kill."
At around noon yesterday a parent sent Ingraham Principal Martin
Floe an e-mail telling him about the threats. School officials then
interviewed the suspected student then contacted police. The student
was arrested and "emergency expelled," Spencer said.
The student, who lives in Seattle, was booked into the King County
Youth Service Center on investigation of harassment.
Spencer said all of the staff and students listed in threatening
Internet posting have been contacted.
BURLINGTON, ONT. - Police in an Ontario city
are searching for a person who glued shards of glass onto playground
A parent in Burlington found the shards attached to a slide and
monkey bars at the city's Desjardines Park. The person removed the
shards, which had been attached with silicon and glue, and called
police on Sunday.
City workers then began checking other playgrounds in the city,
and school officials scoured schoolyards.
Police said it appears as if it was done deliberately, but added
that the vandalism looks like an isolated incident.
The mayor of Burlington, a city of about 150,000 people 60 kilometres
west of Toronto, called the act revolting.
"Whoever has done this is a sick individual," said Mayor
In September, Toronto police shut down beach volleyball courts in
the city after 12 wooden blocks studded with razor blades were found
buried in the sand at one location.
Temperatures in the Sydney CBD hit a record
high for October today.
Meteorologist Peter Dundah, says the highest temperature has been
recorded at Observatory Hill.
"We've had records since 1859 - the previous hottest October
day was in October 4, 1942 when Observatory Hill recorded 37.4 degrees,"
"Today we surpassed that and actually recorded 38.2 degrees
at about 1:30pm."
NEW YORK - Hurricane Ivan battered US crude
oil production to a 50-year low in September and repairs to Gulf
of Mexico operations may not finish before 2005, officials and analysts
Disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico, along with temporary dips in
Alaskan operations, cut US output 15 percent from last year to 4.85
million barrels per day, according to the private American Petroleum
It was the lowest monthly output rate in half
The Gulf of Mexico region usually produces about 1.7 million barrels
of oil per day.
But latest government figures showed 471,328 barrels per day were
still out of production.
Based on preliminary information supplied by operators, 150,000
barrels per day may be back on line by the end of October, according
to the Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS).
But for the longer term, the agency said operators could only promise
that about 96 percent of the normal daily Gulf of Mexico production
"should be back on line within six months."
"We have already lost 19 million barrels so far and it looks
like by the time we're done with repairs it is going to be closer
to 30 million barrels," said PFC Energy analyst Jamal Qureshi.
Ivan, which careened into the Gulf of Mexico September 16, may
be the most damaging hurricane yet for the oil industry.
Ten platforms in the Gulf are still evacuated.
The hole in US supplies is widely blamed for pushing up the oil
market, where New York's light sweet crude price has jumped about
60 percent since the start of this year.
Unlike other, sometimes more powerful hurricanes
that crossed the southwestern United States in mid-August -- Charley,
Frances, Jeanne -- or others of previous years, Ivan's trajectory
took it on a particularly devastating path for the oil industry.
Its point of impact was to the west of Florida, in Alabama, near
the mouth of the Mississippi, a region hosting a quarter of the
US petroleum infrastructure.
"Ivan had a very heavy concentration in production areas,"
The result: landslides, massive waves and powerful
winds damaged 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) of pipelines and
ChevronTexaco, Shell, El Paso and Noble Energy were among the worst
"The companies are engaged in around the clock repair operations
and only bad weather is slowing down further progress," MMS
Gulf of Mexico regional director Chris Oynes said in the service's
latest report October 8.
Pipelines in mud slide areas off the mouth of the Mississippi River
failed and would require a "significant effort" to locate
and repair because they were buried in 20 to 30 feet (seven to 10
meters) of mud, the MMS said.
|(New Zealand) - Severe gales lifted roofs, skittled
trees, cut power and closed roads, causing chaos for emergency services
at the top of the South Island.
Hundreds of homes in Motueka, Golden Bay and Marlborough were without
power this morning as Network Tasman battled to restore services.
Fallen trees delayed firefighters getting to a small blaze that
began on the Takaka Hill about 5.30am after power lines were brought
down by the winds.
State Highway 60, from both sides of the Takaka Hill, was closed
until about 8.30am while emergency services cleared the debris.
JAKARTA : A moderate earthquake
measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale rocked the Indonesian resort
island of Bali and the eastern tip of Java island, the meteorology
office said on Thursday.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the
tremor, which struck at 12:09pm (04:09 GMT), the national headquarters
of the meteorology office here said.
The earthquake was centred some 74 kilometres under the ocean floor
around 153 kilometres southwest of Denpasar, the capital city in
Mount St. Helens' daily throes
have muscled TV's disaster watch away from Florida's hurricanes
and gotten the nation wondering if another monster eruption like
the killer of 1980 is in store.
Scientists wonder, too. But they're also keeping an eye on 13 other
major active volcanoes in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest,
aware that Mount St. Helens isn't even the most fearsome rock on
That distinction goes to Mount Rainier,
a 14,410-foot giant towering from 80 miles away over Seattle and
its 3 million metro area residents.
A year-round playground for hikers and skiers, Rainier hasn't blown
big-time in 500 years - hardly a blink of an eye in geologic time.
But if it did with the intensity of 1980's St. Helens blast, which
killed 57, catastrophe could result.
"The Cascades is an environment where explosive volcanoes
are the norm," said Jeff Wynn, the U.S. Geological Survey (news
- web sites)'s chief volcano hazards scientist.
"And we all agree that Rainier is the most dangerous - not
because it's restive now but because of the exposure to people,"
On Wednesday, the Geological Survey said the danger of a strong
Mount St. Helens eruption had passed and downgraded its alert level
from 3, the highest, to 2. (Related story: Scientists lower alert
"We no longer think an eruption is imminent in the sense of
minutes or hours," geologist Willie Scott said.
But the volcano, which awoke Sept. 23 and erupted - if weakly -
for the first time in 18 years Friday, was far from back to sleep
and could keep venting steam and ash for several weeks, scientists
And Rainier is never far from their thoughts. More ice and snow
cover its big dome than all the other Cascades volcanoes combined.
So a big eruption would trigger gigantic debris flows - "more
like a wall of wet concrete that nothing can stop," Wynn said
- plus enormous snow and ice surges all the way to Puget Sound.
"The more ice, the more danger," he said. "Water
really lubricates the flow and makes the distance it can cover far
Alarms at Rainier
Residents of nearby towns would have less than an hour to get to
high ground and watch their homes be swept away. Greater Seattle
wouldn't be spared. Geologists have discovered, for instance, that
Tacoma's port sits on a debris flow from the eruption five centuries
That one blew off the east side of the mountaintop, the side pointing
away from Seattle, but still spilled around the other side and into
what are now densely populated areas.
What scares scientists today is the threat of a big one that blows
off Rainier's west side. It's why the government has spent millions
of dollars in recent years installing alarms around the volcano.
Mount Hood near Portland, Ore., hovers over 2 million people.
It hasn't blown since just before Lewis and Clark arrived in 1805,
but recently swarms of small earthquakes have rumbled inside the
11,239-foot peak. A major eruption from Hood could threaten Portland's
water supply if sediment flows reached the Sandy River, Wynn said.
The 1,000-mile-long Cascade chain is part of a vast loop of volcanoes,
called the "Ring of Fire," that runs along the Pacific
rim, from New Zealand up to Japan, along Alaska's Aleutian Islands
and down the Pacific coast of Central and South America.
Three-fourths of the world's 600 active volcanoes sit on the ring.
The USA has 50 active volcanoes. St. Helens is the Cascades' most
active member because of its location astride two of the gigantic
plates that make up the Earth's crust, plates that constantly slide
and bang into each other.
A vent for heat
Think of volcanoes as Earth's heat outlets. Volcanoes tend to erupt
where one plate slides under another. Gas-rich molten rock called
magma has a way to escape the earth's core.
Mount St. Helens is more active than other volcanoes because it
lies along an especially weak area of crust.
But eruptions seen over a lifetime lack context. Mount St. Helens'
1980 calamity was "fairly small change in its own history,"
Wynn said. Three eruptions in the 14th century were all much larger.
An ancient eruption in what's now Yellowstone National Park - a
"super volcano" - deposited several hundred feet of ash
as far away as Colorado Springs.
Other Cascades volcanoes, such as 14,161-foot Mount Shasta in northern
California, are considered low risks to erupt. Geologists believe
Shasta, the chain's second-highest peak, blows about once every
But don't expect the tumult inside Mount St. Helens to set off
other volcanoes in the Cascades.
"They're independent systems," Wynn said.
BOULDER - Out of a clear blue sky, a bit of
space history as old as the solar system and no bigger than a softball
slammed into the soft, wet earth beside a Berthoud family's home
John Whiteis saw light and a little bit of dirt move. His wife,
Meghan, saw a dark streak. Their 19-year-old son, Casper, heard
something like this:
"We were kind of trying to figure out what we had just witnessed,"
said John Whiteis, a former auto mechanic and self-described Star
At first he thought it might be a piece of a passing plane. But
there were none overhead.
Maybe a model rocket launched by a neighbor, they wondered. Nah.
A few moments passed before the family realized what they had just
seen: a shiny, black meteorite plunging at more than 100 mph into
a pasture, just 75 feet from their home.
Scientists say meteorites pepper the Earth's atmosphere daily,
almost every hour. Most burn up as "shooting stars." Some
land in sizes as small as a grain of sand.
The Whiteis family, however, witnessed only the fifth confirmed
sighting of a meteorite hitting the ground in Colorado since 1924.
On Monday, the family gathered at the University of Coloradoto
talk about their discovery along with a panel of geologists and
Judging by their reactions, it was a close call as to which group
was more excited by the find: the family or the scientists.
"Isn't this exciting?" CU geologist Steve Mojzsis gushed.
"Thank you for bringing the meteorite in."
CU planetary scientist Nick Schneider described his reaction when
he first heard Casper Whiteis' rendition of how the meteorite sounded
as it landed.
"I got chills up and down my spine hearing that description,"
Schneider said. "I get a zing from this rock."
"This came from outer space. It probably took a million years
to get here," he added. "If you're feeling a little bit
old, just come and touch this and it'll put things in perspective."
If not for some furniture the Whiteis family bought at an auction
last weekend, this meteorite might have fallen to earth unseen.
It rained on Monday, so the furniture stayed in the vehicle. On
Tuesday, John Whiteis was home from work early, so in came the furniture.
And down came the meteorite.
It took the family about 25 minutes after impact to locate the
A smooth black surface about the size of a golf ball peeked out
from under the dirt.
John Whiteis turned back to the house to get a shovel. But before
he could get there, Casper had grabbed a hammer and dug it out of
By then it was cool to the touch, said Casper, an aeronautics
engineering student at AIMS Community College, who hopes to study
at CU some day.
While meteorites have value to collectors and can fetch up to
$1 a gram, the Whiteis family say their two-pound meteorite is not
for sale. Instead they plan to let CU scientists study the rock
and put it on public display.
Scientists at CU also hope to study the meteorite and compile
other eyewitness accounts of any fireball sightings that day to
determine its trajectory.
On Saturday, with permission from local property owners, scientists
and volunteers hope to search up to four square miles of the area
around the Whiteis home for other fragments.
BEIJING, Oct. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- A team of
French and Egyptian scientists say they've discovered the biggest
meteorite field on Earth.
The meteorite site, with more than a hundred traces of crashed
meteorites has been found in the region of the Egyptian-Lebanese
A spokesman of the French scientific research center CNRS, says
the meteorite shower remains had hit the earth about 50 million
years ago and covered the territory of 5,000 square kilometers.
Craters ranging from 20 meters to one kilometer in diameter have
been created as a result of the clash. Meteorite remains are buried
at an 80-meter depth.
Until recently, an Argentine meteorite field of 60 square kilometers
has been considered the biggest in the world.
| The common perception that dinosaurs
were edging towards extinction when a huge meteorite wiped them out
65 million years ago is false, says a new study that claims the animals
were in their prime when disaster struck.
The variety of species existing around the end of the Cretaceous
period suggests that they were diversifying at a remarkable rate,
with an explosion of genetic diversity that was reflected in their
success dominating the planet.
Scientists from the University of Rhode Island at Kingston, in
the United States, established that at least 245 dinosaur genera
- the "families" from which species emerge - lived during
the late Cretaceous era, from 99 million to 65 million years ago.
They included some of the best known dinosaurs, such as tyrannosaurus
rex and the three-horned triceratops.
Peter Sheehan, from the Milwaukee Public Museum, who took part
in the research, told New Scientist magazine: "The lifestyles
of dinosaurs became much more diverse. By the late Cretaceous, we
have much more specialised animals."
The first dinosaurs evolved about 230 million years ago and were
all much the same.
By the late Jurassic period, which began about 160 million years
ago, they had produced about 40 different genera, or species families.
Then in the Cretaceous era which followed there was an explosion
of dinosaur diversity, according to a new analysis of fossils from
around the world.
Dr Sheehan said the diversity of plant-eating dinosaurs of the
period was "absolutely breathtaking". For example, hadrosaurs
evolved a duck-billed jaw filled with teeth for chewing vegetation,
while the rhinoceros-like ceratopsians grew elaborate horns.
But the controversy over the dinosaurs' evolutionary path looks
likely to continue: on Tuesday a paper published in the scientific
journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution by Professor David Penny
of Massey University in New Zealand and Dr Matt Phillips of Oxford
University claimed the precise opposite - that birds and mammals
began to "out-compete" dinosaurs about 80 to 90 million
years ago, well before the end of the Cretaceous era.
"The combined evidence from fossils and molecules appears
to support an expansion of birds and mammals, and a decline of pterosaurs
and dinosaurs, starting many millions of years before the end of
the Cretaceous," the scientists wrote.
What is not in doubt however is that there was a serious meteor
strike on the Earth roughly 65 million years ago, in the Bay of
Mexico. That is reckoned to have thrown up so much dust into the
atmosphere that it cooled the planet abruptly, making it much harder
for the cold-blooded dinosaurs to survive, and giving warm-blooded
animals including mammals the evolutionary edge.
NEW YORK - Bill O'Reilly, whose
Fox News Channel show is the highest-rated cable news program, has
been accused of sexual harassment by one of his producers. O'Reilly
says the complaint is a politically motivated extortion attempt.
Both sides filed lawsuits Wednesday, with the woman, Andrea Mackris,
saying the commentator had phone sex with her against her wishes
| Using a mobile phone for 10 years
or more increases the risk of ear tumours by four times, Swedish research
The Karolinska Institute study of 750 people found the risk of
acoustic neuroma rose by 3.9 times on the side of the head the phone
There was no increase in risk on the other side of the head - giving
an overall rise in risk of 1.9 times.
Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumour in the auditory nerve, which
can cause brain and nerve damage.
It affects one in 100,000 people.
Those who had used mobile phones for less than 10 years were not
at a greater risk, the team reported.[...]
The mobile phone industry has always maintained there is no scientific
evidence of negative effects from mobile phone use.
LONDON : Scientists say that
learning a second language can result in changes to the anatomy
of the brain.
Andrea Mechelli, a neuroscientist at University College London,
said: "The grey matter in this region increases in bilinguals
relative to monolinguals - this is particularly true in early bilinguals
who learned a second language early in life."
The findings, published in the science journal Nature, could explain
why children are so much better than adults at mastering a second
The reserachers found that people who speak two languages have
more grey matter in the language region of the brain.
The earlier they learned the language, the larger the grey area.
"The degree is correlated with the proficiency achieved,"
Learning another language after 35 years old also alters the brain
but the change is not as pronounced as in early learners.
"It reinforces the idea that it is better to learn early rather
than late because the brain is more capable of adjusting or accommodating
new languages by changing structurally,"
"This ability of the brain decreases with time," he added.
Mechelli and his team used structural brain imaging to compare
the size of the grey matter in the brains of 25 monolinguals, 25
early bilinguals who learned a second language before the age of
five and 33 late bilinguals.
All the volunteers in the study, which is described in the science
journal Nature, were native English speakers of comparable age and
In the bilinguals, the grey matter in the left inferior parietal
cortex was larger than in the monolinguals or the bilinguals who
picked up the second language between the ages of
"By looking at the size of the change (in the brain) I can
tell whether someone is very proficient or not because the bigger
the change the better the proficiency," said Mechelli.
Grey matter in the brain is made up of neurons, or brain cells.
The scientists do not know whether the change in bilinguals means
there is an increase in the size of the cells, the number of cells
or the connections between them.
"The next step would be to understand the change better at
a small-scale level," according to Mechelli.
He and his colleagues are planning further studies with people
who have difficulty learning languages to see whether their brain
They also plan to study speakers of several languages to determine
whether the increase in grey matter is proportional to the number
of languages they have mastered. - CNA
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