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Web of Deceit
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

All the News that Fits (Our illusion of the world)
Signs of the Times Analysis
16/10/2004

Anyone who has read a newspaper report about an event with which they have been associated knows that the accounts given are often quite at odds with the events as lived. It is also commonplace to say that "you can't believe anything you read".

So why is it that we continue to believe the stuff in the press?

Such belief is a form of cognitive dissonance. We know something is wrong and yet we believe it anyway.

Well, then what happens when people are working consciously to put lies in the press, or to give events a certain spin. We have all seen the pundits that appear on news shows after any major event who tell us what it was we saw and how to interpret it. The Democrats give it one spin, the Republicans another. John Stewart did a funny bit about this recently in a piece on sound bytes. Pundit after pundit repeated, with only a slightly personalised variation, the same phrase that had been handed down from the Republican National Committee. The hypnotic effect of hearing these things repeated appears to work on many people. Some of these memes over the last few decades have included the idea that government is inherently less productive than private business and that our economic problems come from too much debt. These are two of the great neo-liberal slogans. Some of the real effects of privaitisation can be seen in the article: Privatization: Downsizing government for principle and profit
by Edward Herman.

Of course, when Bush got into office, he was ready to put the US deeply into debt to finance his "war on terror", and to give tax breaks to his base, the wealthy. He was able to do this without a voice of dissent among the less well off members of his political base because of the effectiveness of the propaganda campaign waged in the previous years and because of the complicity of the press in whipping up fear in the population after 911. Populations that are not aware of the tricks are easy prey. If they have been brainwashed by years of TV, drugs and beer, and broadcast sports events, as well as being forced to spend every remaining waking minute in a struggle to put "food on their family" as Bush so compassionately put it, they will not have the wherewithal to put the pieces together.

How many people are really willing to think? How many people have any idea what thinking really involves after passing through an educational system designed to keep 'em stoopid.

Another vast area of inquiry into the media as manipulators would be an analysis of what is not said in the news, what is ignored: when "we" do the same things for which "we" denounce "them"; the real effects of trickle-down economics on families and the ever-growing working poor, and the growing divide between the rich and poor in the US; the truth of the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan after their "liberation" by US occupation armies, and on and on. You could also add to that the remarkable, and criminal, silence about the truth on Saddam's WMD's and Bush's lies prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Why isn't this man up for impeachment instead of "re-election"?

Given the stories about Republican trashing of Democratic voter's registrations that are appearing from all over the country, as well as the installation of very questionable touch-screen voting terminals with no paper trail, and the continued denial of the vote to minorities via phony criminal record voter deletions, Bush may become the first person to serve two terms without ever being elected!

And he has the gall to suggestion that "They hate us because of our freedoms"!

Today we will look at the media as government mouthpiece. While some of the examples come from the US, we by no means think that the US is alone is suffering from this malady. Wherever the media is highly concentrated with only a few companies owning the majority of media outlets you will find the same problem.

The Internet has allowed other voices to be heard. We hear this a lot. However, any show on TV that is broadcast nationwide has an audience of millions. Websites like ours that offer alternative views may reached thousands. Not a very balanced equation, and one that can fool people into thinking that the press really is free or that people really have the right to voice their dissenting views. The illusion is maintained.

For our part, we do not think that our work here will change anything. Given our analysis of the true nature of this world, we think such change is neither possible nor worthwhile. This world is as it is for a reason, so that we may learn the lessons here before possibly moving on. We are here because we fit. In the vast universe with who knows how many levels of reality, other worlds, dimensions, and even universes, there is a lot to learn.

Here, one of the primary lessons to learn is that of seeing through the manipulations and the illusions.

Some may consider that our viewpoint plays into the hands of the oppressors. For those who think the truth of this world is that we must fight for success in the material world, and by this we do not mean the fight for material success, but rather for the victory of justice and truth, but as it is interpreted in its material sense of social justice, the fight against hunger, disease, war, etc, we urge you to continue to do so. Each of us must do battle on the level wherein we see and find the truth. For us, the thousands of years of struggle for justice in human history appear to have led nowhere, or at best, to a maintenance of certain human rights in its largest sense that might well disappear if this battle had not been continued. This is not something to be dismissed, however, it will clearly never lead us out of the morass within which we find ourselves. History demonstrates this.

Those who see the truth on a different level must wage the battle for objectivity where they find it.

Victory will never be on a social scale for ultimately the battle is individual, a battle against our own subjectivity, our own programming, our own wishful thinking and self importance. Comrades-in-arms are necessary for the fight, for no one can do it alone, without the help of those who have gone before, but victory is not something that can be handed to anyone on a plate. Each must claim it for himself.

Each of us must learn to see through the lies of the press ourselves, for if we cannot see reality, we'll never find the exit hidden behind the illusion.

We are running excerpts from the book Unreliable Sources: a guide to detecting bias in news media, by Martin A. Lee and Norman Solomon. More excerpts from this book can be found on the Third World Traveler site. As long as these excerpts may seem, they have been heavily edited.

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Consider the Sources
excerpted from the book
Unreliable Sources
a guide to detecting bias in news media
by Martin A. Lee & Norman Solomon
A Lyle Stuart Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1990
p16

On a typical weekday evening, more than 29 million households tune in for a half-hour news show on one of three national TV networks. Most people tend to believe what comes across the luminous screen.

p17

Sam Donaldson to a Southern California newspaper

"... As a rule, we are, if not handmaidens of the establishment, at least blood brothers to the establishment... We end up the day usually having some version of what the White House...has suggested as a story."

p17

Los Angeles Times staff writer David Shaw, a specialist in examining media practices, has found that "reporters often call a source because they want a quotation to illustrate a particular point, and they are sure to get exactly what they want if they call a source whose attitudes they already know."

p17

Professor Robert Entman observes in a 1989 book

"The elites who make most of the national news, are the ones who control policy outcomes in Washington... News reports can advance or undermine the policy proposals they want enacted or privileges they want maintained. The information they provide is tainted."

p17

Walter Karp, Harper's Magazine, 1989

"The overwhelming majority of stories are based on official sources-on information provided by members of Congress, presidential aides, and politicians... The first fact of American journalism is its overwhelming dependence on sources, mostly official, usually powerful."

p17

... when covering highly-politicized matters of foreign policy, NPR reporters at the State Department, Pentagon, Congress and White House are prone to do little but raptly transmit the utterances of politicians and their appointees. The tilt is against non-officials, and against officials not on the president's team.

p18

Walter Karp, Harper's Magazine, 1989

"It is a bitter irony of source journalism, that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the 'best' sources."

p18

Walter Karp, Harper's Magazine, 1989

"So pervasive is the passivity of the press that when a reporter actually looks for news on his or her own it is given a special name, 'investigative journalism,' to distinguish it from routine, passive 'source journalism.' It is investigative journalism that wins the professional honors, that makes what little history the American press ever makes, and that provides the misleading exception that proves the rule: the American press, unbidden by powerful sources, seldom investigates anything."

p18

Professor Robert Entman observes in a 1989 book

"Government sources and journalists join in an intimacy that renders any notion of a genuinely 'free' press inaccurate."

p18

More than any other publications, the Washington Post and the New York Times exert tremendous impact on American political life. Every day these newspapers contain more comprehensive coverage than any other U.S. media. While enjoying reputations for hard-hitting journalism, both papers are integral to the prevailing political power structure. They publish exclusive news stories and eminent punditry that greatly influence the direction and tone of other media. And their printed words carry heavy weight within the government's "national security" leviathan.

The Media Elite

The Media Cartel: Corporate Control of the News

p 60

Dependent on corporate sponsors for financial sustenance, TV networks and print media are under tremendous pressure to shape their product in a way that best accommodates the needs of their advertisers. "I would say they are always taken into account," Herman Keld of CBS acknowledged. [...]

These days, no commercial TV executive in his or her right mind would produce a program without considering whether it will fly with sponsors. Prospective shows are often discussed with major advertisers, who review script treatments and suggest changes when necessary. Adjustments are sometimes made to please sponsors. This riles a lot of TV writers, who complain of frequent run-ins with network censors in the "program standards" department, which monitors sex, violence and obscene language, as well as the social and political content of dramatic programs. A poll of the Writers Guild of America disclosed that 86 percent of queried members said they knew from personal experience that entertainment programs are raked over by censors.

It may come as a surprise to many Americans that censorship is so prevalent on network television. But corporate sponsors figure they are entitled to call the shots since they foot the bill-an assumption shared by network executives, who quickly learn to internalize the desires of their well-endowed patrons. For starters, they are likely to frown upon programming that puts a damper on the "buying mood" that advertisers require. Network censors admit that loss of advertising revenue is one of their main concerns. These are the principal guidelines, explicitly spelled out by big-league sponsors, that TV censors follow:

* Make sure nothing in a script undermines the sales pitch for the advertised product. For example, a gas company sponsoring a TV version of Judgment at Nuremberg demanded that producers delete references to "gas chambers" from accounts of Nazi concentration camps. Pharmaceutical firms won't tolerate scenes in which someone commits suicide by overdosing on pills. On a lighter note, a writer was forced to delete the line "She eats too much"-a concept anathema to the breakfast food manufacturer that sponsored the show. This kind of script tampering is endemic in television entertainment.

* Portray Big Business in a flattering light. Sponsors are adamant about this. Procter & Gamble, which spends over a billion dollars a year on advertising, once decreed in a memo on broadcast policy: "There will be no material that will give offense, either directly or indirectly to any commercial organization of any sort." Ditto for Prudential Insurance: "A positive image of business and finance is important to sustain on the air." If a businessman is cast as the bad guy, it must be clear that he is an exception, and the script must also include benevolent business folk so as not to leave the wrong impression. Corporate sponsors are unlikely to underwrite programs that engage in serious criticism of environmental pollution, occupational hazards or other problems attributable to corporate malfeasance.

Marshall Herskovitz, co-executive producer of ABC's thirtysomething, had to knuckle under when censors insisted that a character embroiled in a political discussion not say the government cut safety regulations "so that car companies can make more money." Entertainment programs aren't a forum for political debate, Herskovitz was told, and besides it would upset advertisers. "One of the most dangerous, subversive, destructive forces in our country today is advertising," said Herskovitz-not just its hold over commercial TV, but the ads themselves. "I would rather have the messed-up and occasionally confused motivations of television producers than I would to have the very simple motivations of corporate sponsors making decisions of what we should see on television."

* Cater to the upper crust. Sponsors don't want just any audience; they want affluent viewers with buying power. To impress potential sponsors, ABC once prepared a booklet with a section called, "Some people are more valuable than others." If the elderly and low-income counted for more in the advertising department, their particular concerns would figure more prominently in the tone and content of TV programming. But the fixations of mass media are far more demographic than democratic.

* Steer clear of overly serious or complex subjects and bleach out controversy whenever possible. DuPont, a major advertiser, told the FCC that commercials are more effective on "lighter, happier" programs. Comedy, adventure and escapism are standard fare, as advertisers push mass media toward socially insignificant content that offends as few viewers as possible. "You can't take up real problems seriously," complained Charles Knopf, a TV scriptwriter and former president of the Writers Guild. Acutely sensitive to sponsor proclivities, many writers and producers automatically avoid controversial topics. When a dicey story is proposed, it is usually killed before it gets written. Scripts that survive the editing process often bear little resemblance to the original concept. [...]

p93

Flirting with fascists

Media owners have ways of making their presence felt among working journalists. Time-Life publishing magnate Henry Luce, well-known for his conservative politics, used to flood his editors with story ideas. Prior to World War II, media critic George Seldes took Luce to task for devoting "an entire issue of Fortune to glorifying Mussolini and Fascism, and...permit[ting] an outright pro-fascist, Laird Goldsborough, to slant and pervert the news every week" in Time. Seldes also exposed a secret $400,000-a-year deal between Hitler and press baron William Randolph Hearst, which resulted in pro-Nazi articles in all Hearst papers. As late as December 1940, Hearst was ordering his editors not to include "unnecessarily offensive" cartoons of Hitler and Mussolini in his papers.

Described as the founder of yellow journalism and a debaucher of public taste, Hearst is perhaps the most notorious of the 20th century press barons. Instead of telling the news, Hearst headlines were intent on selling the news. He routinely invented sensational stories, faked interviews, ran phony pictures and distorted real events. Having begun his career as a reform-minded socialist, Hearst ended up a right-wing megalomaniac whose papers carried on the most sustained campaign of jingoism in U.S. history. Hearst propaganda masquerading as journalism played a major role in starting the Spanish-American War in 1898. His media empire also was instrumental in backing Senator Joe McCarthy when he launched his anti-Red crusade in 1950.

Hearst wasn't the only media mogul who supported the anticommunist witch-hunts during the Cold War. A majority of U.S. newspapers, including the Scripps-Howard and Gannett chains, applauded McCarthy's baseless diatribes about alleged communists in the U.S. government. [...]

While a few courageous editors consistently denounced McCarthy, it wasn't until he began attacking President Eisenhower that the press turned against him. In a case of better late than never, CBS aired Edward R. Murrow's TV documentary on McCarthy in 1954, and then it was all downhill for Joe. By this time, thousands of patriotic Americans had been hounded out of their jobs, and groups advocating for civil rights and social justice were tarred as "subversive." Nevertheless, certain media owners felt that McCarthy had served a useful purpose by alerting the American public to the Red Menace. "His methods have been bad," said Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but "have not the results on the whole been good?"

Annenberg's thugs

Another press magnate who favored the McCarthy witch-hunts was Walter Annenberg, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and, later, TV Guide. Young Walter had inherited a formidable media empire from his father, Moe, who began his newspaper career as circulation manager of the Hearst daily in Chicago during the bloody news wars of the early l900s. With a gang of street toughs on his payroll, Moe made sure Hearst's product got maximum distribution. Trucks delivering competing papers were wrecked and 30 newsboys were murdered, but Annenberg's hoodlums escaped arrest.

Resorting to similar goon squad tactics while working for Hearst's New York Daily Mirror, Moe solicited the services of fledgling gangsters, including Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano. "I used to think of the Mirror as my kind of paper," Luciano fondly reminisced. "I always thought of Annenberg as my kind of guy." With the Mob's muscle at his disposal, Annenberg started to acquire his own newspapers, eventually amassing what Fortune magazine called the largest annual income in the U.S. When Annenberg went to jail for tax evasion in the 1930s, his son, Walter, took over the family business. [...]

Murdoch meddles

The Annenberg publishing dynasty came to an end in 1988 when Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch purchased TV Guide. With farflung media operations spanning three continents, Murdoch's News Corporation ranks fifth among the world's largest media conglomerates. As such, it is part of an emerging international media cartel that includes companies even bigger than Murdoch's-Time Warner, the German-based Bertelsmann empire, CapCities/ABC, and Canada's Thomson newspaper chain-along with publishing firms controlled by British tycoon Robert Maxwell and French arms merchant Jean-Luc Lagardere. If predictions by U.S. media executives are correct, these few gigantic corporations will dominate the global communications market as we enter the 21st century.

When asked why he kept buying up more media organs, Murdoch explained: "It's the challenge of the game. It gives me a great thrill." It was doubtless quite a thrill for Murdoch to have used his British newspapers to help install Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and keep her in power. News stories and editorials in Murdoch's drug-and-crime-crazed New York Post were unabashedly slanted to please the likes of Mayor Ed Koch and President Ronald Reagan during the 1980s.

Murdoch's most ambitious project to date is the launching of a fourth TV network in the U.S., Fox Broadcasting. [...]

An outspoken conservative, Murdoch doesn't try to hide his penchant for editorial meddling. "To what extent do you influence the editorial posture of your newspapers?" queried a reporter with Cosmopolitan magazine. "Considerably," he responded. "The buck stops on my desk. My editors have input, but I make final decisions."

Such candor is rare among media owners who seek to exert maximum control over the news product with a minimum of direct interference. Unlike the audacious press barons of old, today's news execs prefer the velvet muzzle to the iron fist. They meet on a regular basis with editors hand-picked to fulfill the role of loyal gatekeepers. Editors decide what to feature on the front page, which articles to assign and not to assign, whether to cut, rewrite or kill a story.

Ownership influence on the news

Former managing editor of the New York Times Turner Catledge noted in his memoirs how he frequently conveyed publisher Arthur H. Sulzberger's comments to his staff as if they came from himself in order to avoid the impression that the top boss "was constantly looking over their shoulders. In truth, however, he was."

Despite assurances to the contrary, media owners continue to promote self-serving content into the news and banish subjects they dislike. As Bagdikian, formerly national editor at the Washington Post, has written, "When an editor makes a news decision based on corporate commands, or knowledge of ownership wishes, the editor seldom states the real reason." This would "violate the prevailing dogma of American journalism that serious news is the result of whatever is true and significant, let the chips fall where they may."

The extent of ownership influence on the news was indicated by a 1980 survey by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Thirty-three percent of all editors employed by newspaper chains admitted that they would not feel free to publish news stories that were damaging to their parent firm. Years have passed since this survey was taken, and the parent firms are now bigger and more powerful than ever before. TV producers have expressed similar misgivings about news broadcasts that might conflict with the economic or political interests of their parent company.

Comment: In the years since this book was written, media monopoly has grown. Think of the recent cases of Sinclair and Clear Channel censoring content on their stations.

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Disinformation
excerpted from the book
Unreliable Sources
a guide to detecting bias in news media
by Martin A. Lee & Norman Solomon
A Lyle Stuart Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1990

p126

Editors don't make any bones about "the presidential factor." "We've got to cover what the President says and does," is the common refrain. But what happens when the President and his aides routinely lie as they try to sell their policies to the American public? Then the presidential factor is a recipe for distortion.

"Lying to the press goes back to the beginning of the republic," says David Wise, a former New York Herald Tribune editor who has authored a number of books on the American espionage establishment. But institutional Iying took on a new dimension at the outset of the Cold War, as clandestine operations began to multiply like rabbits. The proliferation of covert actions required a plenitude of cover stories-and cover stories, lest we forget, are lies. "It used to be that policies were framed to fit events," Wise remarked in a 1987 interview about Reagan-era disinformation. "Now events are shaped and manipulated to fit policies."

Over the years, reporters have had to contend with a steady barrage of deceptions, half-truths and blatant falsehoods emanating from the White House. This deliberate perversion of the truth calls into question the fundamental character of a democratic society, which is supposed to be based on the consent of the governed. An ill-informed public can't hold officials accountable for their policies.

"Every government is run by liars, and nothing they say should be believed," said I.F. Stone. But the Reagan era was unprecedented in that it marked the first time government officials came right out and said that a president's numerous misstatements of fact and his inability to grasp detail didn't really matter. "We've been dealing with...an administration that freely states-and stated early-that literal truth was not a concern," said Bill Kovach when he was Washington news editor of the New York Times.

U.S. officials openly flaunted their disregard for the facts during the 1980s. "You can say anything you want in a debate and 80 million people hear it," George Bush's press secretary stated shortly after the vice presidential debate with Geraldine Ferraro in October 1984. "If reporters then document that a candidate spoke untruthfully, so what? Maybe 200 people read it."

p127

Austrian scholar Karl Kraus' dictum: "How is the world ruled and led into war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe those lies when they see them in print."

p128

Following the lead of U.S. officials, mass media depicted the Soviet Union as the prime mover of a worldwide terrorist network that included Libyan leader Moammar Qadaffi as a key operative. The demonizing of Qadaffi began in earnest shortly after Reagan took office. First came the lurid tales (based on "unnamed intelligence sources") of Libyan hit squads stalking President Reagan. Later came the Berlin disco bombing, which killed two people, including an American serviceman, and injured 200 in April 1986. Citing "irrefutable evidence" that Qadaffi was behind the bombing, Reagan ordered an air attack against Libya a week later. It was, as Noam Chomsky observed, the first air raid in history geared to preempt coverage on 7:00 p.m. prime-time news in the U.S.

As it turned out, the so-called "irrefutable evidence" was hardly airtight. Manfred Ganshow, chief of the Berlin Staatsschutz and head of the 100-person team which investigated the disco bombing, told Stars and Stripes, a publication servicing the U.S. armed forces, three weeks after the incident: "[I have] no more evidence that Libya was connected to the bombing than I had two days after the act. Which is none." This, however, did not dissuade the American media, whose rush to judgment was as dramatic as Reagan's rise in the popularity polls following the Libya raid. A New York Times editorial claimed that proof was "laid out clearly to the public... Even the most scrupulous citizens can only approve and applaud the American attacks on Libya."

Months later, West German authorities concluded that if any country was behind the Berlin disco bombing, it was Syria, not Libya. But that hardly seemed to matter as U.S. news media continued to blame the incident on Qadaffi. Soon another round of stories appeared, warning of new plots by Libya. Replete with 42 references to unnamed U.S. officials, a Wall Street Journal article by John Walcott and Gerald F. Seib disclosed that Qadaffi was planning more terrorism. This time the unnamed source turned out to be National Security Adviser John Poindexter, who was promoting what Newsweek later called a "disinformation program" aimed at destabilizing the Libyan government. The propaganda operation was outlined in a three-page memo, dated August 14, 1986, from Poindexter to President Reagan.

When details of the disinformation plot were leaked to the U.S. press, Secretary of State George Schultz justified the deception by quoting Winston Churchill: "In time of war, the truth is so precious it must be attended by a bodyguard of lies." The Reagan administration, Shultz said, was "pretty darn close" to being at war with Libya. Reporters and editors cried foul, expressing righteous indignation about being misled by the U.S. government-as if they had suddenly discovered something new!

Indeed, journalists should have known that the Reagan administration was Iying about Libya. Five years prior to the Poindexter revelations, Newsweek reported on a CIA-run "disinformation program designed to embarrass Qadaffi," along with covert operations to overthrow and perhaps assassinate him.

U.S. actions-rhetorical and military-against Libya, and "counter-terrorist" rhetoric in general, were geared largely toward converting public anxiety over anti-Western political violence into support for an aggressive American foreign policy and increased intervention in the Third World. Exaggerating the threat of external demons in order to whip up nationalist hysteria at home was nothing new in American history. By focusing on Libya, the Reagan administration picked a fight it knew it could win. Seen in this context, the bombing of Libya was as much salutary medicine for Vietnam syndrome jitters as it was a plot to kill Qadaffi.

Cloaked in fiction

Even when lies by the government are exposed, U.S. reporters dutifully return to the same poisoned well, seeking information from official sources that have been publicly discredited. Former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams appeared frequently as a guest on Nightline and other TV news shows, despite his admission that he intentionally misled Congress regarding U.S. policy in Central America. Abrams' confession aroused little skepticism among journalists as to whether he could be trusted as a news source. Never once did Ted Koppel, who fancies himself a tough interviewer, ask Abrams: "Why, given your record of deceit, should we believe anything you say about Nicaragua?" [...]

Comment: Note the Abrams was brought back into the inner circle when he was appointed by George W. as a Special Assistant to the White House.

p143

The much-ballyhooed conclusion that journalists are of a predominantly leftish bent failed to square with data compiled by researchers without a strongly conservative agenda. A Brookings Institution study, for instance, found that 58 percent of Washington journalists identified themselves as either "conservative" or "middle of the road."

A 1985 Los Angeles Times survey, comparing 3,000 journalists to 3,000 members of the general public, found that journalists were more conservative when asked if the government should act to reduce the gap between rich and poor. Fifty-five percent of the general public supported such measures, compared to only 50 percent of the "news staff" and 37 percent of the editors.

But all the heated number-crunching may be much ado about little. The private opinions of media workers are much less important than the end products. Mark Hertsgaard has astutely pinpointed "the deeper flaw in the liberal-press thesis"-"it completely ignored those whom journalists worked for. Reporters could be as liberal as they wished and it would not change what news they were allowed to report or how they could report it. America's major news organizations were owned and controlled by some of the largest and richest corporations in the United States. These firms were in turn owned and managed by individuals whose politics were, in general, anything but liberal. Why would they employ journalists who consistently covered the news in ways they did not like?"

If there's a political tilt to news coverage, it derives principally from mass media owners and managers, not beat reporters. "Admittedly," said sociologist Herbert Gans, "some journalists have strong personal beliefs and also the position or power to express them in news stories, but they are most often editors; and editors, like producers in television, have been shown to be more conservative than their news staffs." To the extent that personal opinions influence news content, Gans added, "they are most often the beliefs of the President of the United States and other high federal, state and local officials, since they dominate the news."

However baseless, accusations by conservatives that the media lean left have made many journalists compensate by tilting in the other direction. In this sense, the liberal media canard has been effective as a pre-emptive club, brandished to encourage self-censorship on the part of reporters who "bend over backwards not to seem at all critical of Republicans," commented Mark Crispin Miller. "Eager to evince his 'objectivity,' the edgy liberal reporter ends up just as useful to the right as any ultra-rightist hack." [...]

In early 1989, columnist Jack Newfield counted eight popular political opinion talk shows on national television. "These shows all have certifiably right-wing hosts and moderators," wrote Newfield. "This is not balance. This is ideological imbalance that approaches a conservative monopoly... Buchanan, who calls AIDS a punishment from God for sin, and campaigns against the prosecution of Nazi war criminals hiding in America, is about as far right as you can get."

A fixture on CNN, and often made welcome on the biggest TV networks, Buchanan has flaunted his admiration for prominent fascists past and present, like the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco (who came to power allied with Hitler) and Chile's bloody ruler Augusto Pinochet. "A soldier-patriot like Franco, General Pinochet saved his country from an elected Marxist who was steering Chile into Castroism," Buchanan effused in a September 1989 column, going on to defend the apartheid regime in South Africa: "The Boer Republic is the only viable economy in Africa. Why are Americans collaborating in a U.N. conspiracy with sanctions?"

Sharing much of the remaining op-ed space are others from the hard right, including former U.N. ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick; William Safire (like Buchanan, an ex-speechwriter for the Nixon-Agnew team); erstwhile segregationist James J. Kilpatrick; Charles Krauthammer; former NBC News correspondent and Moral Majority vice president Cal Thomas; neo-conservative prophet Norman Podhoretz, and Ray Price (yet another Nixon speechwriter). Aside from a handful of left-leaning liberals, most of the other op-ed mainstays are establishment-tied middle-roaders such as Flora Lewis, David Broder, Jeff Greenfield, Georgie Anne Geyer, and Meg Greenfield.

p145

By 1987, religious broadcasting had become a $2 billion a year industry, with more than 200 full-time Christian TV stations and 1,000 full-time Christian radio stations. This means that evangelical Christians control about 14 percent of the television stations operating in the U.S. and 10 percent of the radio stations, which bombard the American public with a conservative theo-political message. TV ministries continue to thrive, despite the widely publicized preacher sex and money scandals of the late 1980s.

Some journalists may reject the mythology about liberal prejudice, but when addressing what is going on they're prone to denial. Instead of identifying the thumbs on news-media scales, the preference is to call the whole contraption neutral. "Everybody talks about media biases to the right or the left," syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman pooh-poohed in 1989. "The real media bias is against complexity, which is usually terminated with the words: 'I'm sorry, we're out of time." Of course, electronic news media are surface-skimming operations. Views that seriously challenge the status quo, however, have few occasions to be interrupted, since they're so rarely heard at all. [...]

p153

Ten signs of an official scandal

The Iran-contra revelations shared ten common characteristics of an official scandal:

1) The scandal comes to light much later than it could have to prevent serious harm.

2) The focus is on scapegoats and fall guys, as though remedial action amounts to handing the public a few heads on a platter.

3) Damage control keeps the media barking but at bay. The press is so busy chewing on scraps near the outer perimeter that it stays away from the chicken house.

4) Sources on the inside supply tidbits of information to steer reporters in certain directions-and away from others. With the media dashing through the woods, these sources keep pointing: "The scandal went that-a-way!"

5) After denials by government officials come well-publicized admissions of "mismanagement," "mistakes," even "improprieties." The media take, and report, these half-hearted confessions at face value.

6) The spotlight is on outraged officials-senators, congressmen, special prosecutors, federal judges-asking tough questions. (But not too tough.) As time passes, politicians and/or the judicial system take the lead in guiding media coverage.

7) Despite all the hand-wringing, the press avoids basic questions that challenge institutional power and not just a few powerful individuals.

8) Even when the proverbial "highest levels" are implicated, a journalistic fog sets in, obscuring trails that could lead to more substantial revelations, or far-reaching solutions.

9) Protracted news coverage makes a big show out of airing certain facts, over and over, but in the end the most powerful and culpable oxen remain ungored.

10) Inevitably, media pundits emphasize that despite all the past problems, the system is cleansing itself. "The system works."

p154

Olliemania, Olliemedia

Unable to muster the resolve for a full-fledged investigative assault, the press began to do the White House damage-control shuffle. The plan for containing the scandal was set in motion at the very moment Meese disclosed the diversion of Iranian "assets" to the contras and fingered North and Poindexter as the higher-ups responsible. Mass media picked up the cue and focused on the diversion while ignoring other crucial issues, such as U.S. government complicity in contra drug smuggling. The overriding question became, "What did the President know, and when?" It all seemed to boil down to this: If Reagan knew about the diversion, he was guilty; otherwise he was innocent. And since North and his colleagues had already shred key documents, the damage-controllers knew the paper trail would stop short of Nice Guy in the White House. [...]

In devising covert operations, spymasters create cover stories in advance to contain the damage should their schemes be exposed. North's congressional interlocutors chuckled when he revealed that his mentor, CIA director William Casey, had told him that he might not be a big enough fall guy; North's immediate superior, National Security Adviser John Poindexter, would probably also have to take the rap if it came down to that. Poindexter was a well-known dissembler on Capitol Hill, having planted disinformation in the U.S. media about Libya. Yet when it came his turn to testify about Iran-contra, he was pegged by reporters as the one person who could prove or disprove that Reagan was privy to the diversion scam. Poindexter said no. He also maintained it was his job to provide the President with "plausible deniability."

In effect, Poindexter told Congress and the media that they had been taken for a ride on a national security roller-coaster, and now the ride was over. Since there was no way to refute Poindexter's testimony, he would end up being the principal fall guy, just as CIA director Casey had planned. The Democrats in Congress, still refusing to act like an authentic opposition party, had little inclination to pursue the matter further. And the Washington press corps, peering through a cover story that had been rendered transparent, caught a vivid glimpse of its own weakness, and moved on. A new political season was about to begin.

Comment: Notice the choice comment:

In devising covert operations, spymasters create cover stories in advance to contain the damage should their schemes be exposed.

Think of this as you research what happened on 911 and see the various theories being floated to explain the events of that day, everything from the "Islamic fundamentalists with box cutters" to the "we were incompetent" to "it was the Saudis" to "it was CIA drug-runners" to "we did it to secure the oil" and on and on. There are any number of possible twists and turns the story could take, but the perpetrators have laid down a variety of false trails that are available should they become necessary.

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Fourth Estate or Fourth Branch of Government?
excerpted from the book

Unreliable Sources a guide to detecting bias in news media
a guide to detecting bias in news media
by Martin A. Lee & Norman Solomon
A Lyle Stuart Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1990
p103

Does the press function as an independent Fourth Estate or as a fourth branch of government? Are media adversaries of the State or its accomplice?

TV's top journalists are part of the wealthy and influential elite, often socializing with people they're supposed to be scrutinizing. At an awards banquet for the Radio & Television Correspondents Association during Reagan's second term, Kathleen Sullivan (at the time with ABC) was photographed on the arm of then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, while CBS Face the Nation host Lesley Stahl greeted the Republican Party's national chairman Frank Fahrenkopf with a kiss. Vice President Bush serenaded the crowd with a speech and journalists got prizes ostensibly for good reporting.

David Broder of the Washington Post, often described as the dean of American political reporting, has won many awards in his day. Upon accepting a prize for lifetime service to journalism at Washington's National Press Club in 1988, Broder stated: "I can't for the life of me fathom why any journalists would want to become insiders, when it's so much fun being outsiders-irreverent, inquisitive, incorrigibly independent outsiders, thumbing our nose at authority and going our own way." Applauding Broder's remarks was an audience of insiders, including James Baker, soon-to-be Secretary of State, who got a flattering profile in Broder's column.

This kind of sycophantic behavior made investigative reporter I.F. Stone's blood boil. Izzy, as his friends called him, was a real outsider. He had one cardinal rule: don't pal around with the folks you write about, don't fraternize with people in power. That's what he always told young people who wanted to be reporters. But his was a voice in a journalistic wilderness. When he died in 1989, Stone was lauded by many high-profile journalists who never listened to his advice.

THE MIGHTY PR ARSENAL

When we turn on the TV, we don't expect to see a government spokesperson reading officially-sanctioned news reports. Most U.S. citizens who hear about a state-controlled press think of something that exists in faraway places, not in their own country. Some of our political leaders, however, have a less sanguine view of American journalism. "Reporters are puppets," said Lyndon Johnson. "They simply respond to the pull of the most powerful strings."

While claiming to be independent, U.S. journalists rely heavily on official sources who don't necessarily deserve the credence they are given. "For all its bluster and professed skepticism, the press is far too willing to take the government at its word," said Newsday editor Anthony Marro. Consequently, mass media are often little more than vehicles through which those in power pontificate to the American public. New York Times columnist Tom Wicker has described the dependence on official sources as "the gravest professional and intellectual weakness of American journalism." Bill Moyers, who has worked in the White House as well as in print and broadcast media, emphasized a similar point: "Most of the news on television is, unfortunately, what( ever the government says is news." [...]

Vietnam: a patriotic spin

True to form, big-league reporters coddled official sources throughout the Vietnam War. Producers at NBC and ABC had an explicit policy of deleting graphic footage of the conflict from evening news broadcasts. CBS played by similar rules, thereby helping to "shield the audience from the true horror of the war," according to Fred Friendly. "I must confess that in my two years as CBS News president," said Friendly, "I tempered my news judgment and tailored my conscience more than once." [...]

U.S. media often gave Vietnam War coverage a "patriotic" spin. Typical was NBC's Huntley-Brinkley Report, which described "the American forces in Indochina as 'builders' rather than 'destroyers"'-a "central truth" that "needs underscoring." Much of the press was intent on underscoring this "truth"-which explains why reporter Seymour Hersh had to send his account of the My Lai massacre to the Dispatch News Service, a little known media outlet, after wasting more than a year trying to get the major media to cover the story. Hersh subsequently won a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for the My Lai revelations.

Journalists kept chomping at the government bit, even when it should have been apparent that something was seriously amiss about the official version of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, which served as a pretext for dramatically escalating the war in Vietnam. Early calls for U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam by Senator Ernest Gruening, one of the two dissenting votes against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, went unreported in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

When the Times published Harrison Salisbury's 1966 year-end eyewitness accounts of civilian devastation from the U.S. bombing of Hanoi, the Washington Post railed at this momentary breach of state journalism. On the Pentagon beat, Post reporter George C. Wilson informed readers that Salisbury's statistics on casualties were "identical to those in a communist propaganda leaflet." Post reporter Chalmers Roberts described Salisbury as an accessory of North Vietnam and its leader Ho Chi Minh-"Ho's chosen instrument." The Post also condemned Salisbury editorially, as an unwitting tool of the North Vietnamese. In spite of the vitriol, within weeks independent verification forced the U.S. government to admit the truth of Salisbury's articles.

Washington Post Company president Katharine Graham counted among her best friends some of the key architects of the Vietnam War, including Defense Secretary Robert McNamara (who later joined the board of directors of the Washington Post Company). President Lyndon Johnson appreciated all the gung-ho editorials about the war that Post editor Russell Wiggins was writing. As an apt reward, a presidential appointment made Wiggins the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations the last few months of 1968-"a plum from Johnson to a loyalist," recounts author Howard Bray. [...]

Right to the bitter end, major U.S. media supported additional military aid for the tottering regime in Saigon. Even as the last American forces made a hasty retreat in 1975, the U.S. press was still serving as a credulous conduit for CIA news plants. "The whole idea of a bloodbath was conjured out of thin air. We had no intelligence to indicate that the South Vietnamese were facing a bloodbath," said CIA operative Frank Snepp. But reporters played it the way the government wanted-and rarely said a word about other matters when the American government demanded silence. [...]

p114

THE CIA-MEDIA IMBROGLIO

... Manipulating the media for propaganda purposes has long been a major aspect of clandestine operations conducted by the CIA, which often doesn't have to use subterfuge to get news organizations to do its bidding. Since the CIA was formed in 1947, publishers and executive management have eagerly volunteered their services for the benefit of the Agency.

"There is ample evidence that America's leading publishers allowed themselves and their news organizations to become handmaidens to the intelligence services," wrote investigative journalist Carl Bernstein in Rolling Stone. "American publishers, like so many other corporate and institutional leaders at the time, were willing to commit the resources of their companies to the struggle against 'global communism.' Accordingly, the traditional line separating the American press corps and government was often indistinguishable."

As far as America's spymasters were concerned, a natural affinity existed between the cloak-and-dagger trade and the news business, since both professions emphasize information gathering. Debriefing journalists has always been one of the CIA's most effective ways of getting intelligence. Time-Life publisher Henry Luce, a close friend of CIA director Allen Dulles, was debriefed by the CIA after traveling overseas, and he privately encouraged his correspondents to cooperate with the Agency. Malcolm Muir, editor of Newsweek during much of the Cold War, was also regularly debriefed after visits abroad.

At times reporters, photographers and camera crews will visit obscure locales that are off-limits to most people. A well-placed journalist can act as the Agency's eyes and ears, obtaining hard-to-come-by data. "One journalist is worth 20 agents," a high-level CIA officer told Bernstein. Former CIA deputy director Ray S. Cline, now a mainstay at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, called the American news media the "only unfettered espionage agencies in this country."

In addition to swapping information, reporters have killed or altered stories and disseminated propaganda at the request of the Agency. The CIA, in turn, has given friendly journalists career-enhancing scoops and leaks. When a correspondent for the San Diego-based Copley chain learned that CIA-backed anti-Castro Cubans were training for the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, he not only held the story but published misleading information fed to him by the Agency that dismissed rumors of an impending attack. As a gesture of gratitude, the CIA gave Charles Keely a big scoop about Soviet missile bases in Cuba. Keely subsequently won an award for breaking the Cuban missile story.

Foreign news bureaus provided excellent cover for full-time spies posing as reporters. For a while, the CIA ran a formal training program to teach agents how to act like (or be) reporters. Not everyone needed tutoring; Richard Helms, CIA director in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, had previously worked as a UPI correspondent. And the revolving door turned both ways, as CIA agents like William F. Buckley burrowed into media niches after their stint with U.S. intelligence formally ended.

Bernstein estimated in 1977 that at least 400 journalists had lived double lives, maintaining covert relationships with the CIA that went beyond the normal give-and-take between reporters and their sources. Media professionals occasionally were paid for their CIA-related services. Some even signed secrecy agreements while they performed non-journalistic tasks for the Agency, such as keeping an eye out for potential recruits and passing messages or money to CIA contacts. Trusted reporters were dispatched on special undercover assignments, almost always with the consent of their editors. As former CIA director William Colby stated, "Let's not pick on some poor reporters. Let's go to the managements. They were witting."

Old boy networks

The CIA cultivated high-level contacts within the most prestigious media in the U.S., including the three TV networks and the newspapers of record. More than 20 other American news organizations occasionally shared a bed with the CIA, including AP, UPI, Scripps-Howard, the Hearst papers, Reader's Digest, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor and the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Relationships between CIA officials and media execs were often social, dating back many years. For instance, Washington Post owners Philip and Katharine Graham were best friends with Frank Wisner, a pivotal figure in the Agency's worldwide propaganda apparatus. Wisner ran CIA covert operations from the early days of the Cold War until shortly before he committed suicide in 1961

The CIA's global propaganda operation was headed initially by Tom Braden. After leaving the Agency, Braden worked as a syndicated columnist and co-host of CNN Crossfire (representing "the left"). Braden once wrote a piece in the Saturday Evening Post called "Why I'm Glad the CIA is Immoral." One of Braden's CIA proteges, Philip L. Geyelin, eventually became editor of the Washington Post editorial page. At times critical of the Reagan administration for squandering its credibility because it lied so much about Central America, Geyelin nonetheless affirmed the virtue of official deception: "We will get nowhere without first stipulating that, while circumstances alter almost any case you can think of, the President has an inherent right-perhaps an obligation in particular situations-to deceive."

Oftentimes the lie is in the omission-and the Post has been a willing participant in keeping the lid on touchy disclosures. "There have been instances," admitted publisher Katharine Graham, "in which secrets have been leaked to us which we thought were so dangerous that we went to them [U.S. officials] and told them that they had been leaked to us and did not print them."

The CIA's most important print media asset has been the New York Times, which provided press credentials and cover for more than a dozen CIA operatives during the Cold War. Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher from 1935 to 1961, was a close friend of CIA director Allen Dulles. After Dulles' successor John A. McCone stepped down as CIA chief in the mid-1960s, the Times continued to submit articles to McCone for vetting and approval. McCone removed certain elements of stories before they went to press. Such groveling by the Times suggests that instead of "All the News That's Fit to Print," perhaps its motto should be "Print to Fit."

p119

Nazi assets

On the international front, the CIA operated Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe (aimed at the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe) throughout the Cold War. With several former Nazis and fascists on staff, these were among the largest and most expensive psychological warfare operations ever undertaken by the U.S. government. They generated an onslaught of virulent anti-Red propaganda, at times lifting fraudulent material straight from Hitler's security services in an effort to rouse the Central and East European masses against the Soviets. One Nazi-inspired propaganda piece-"Document on Terror"-did the near-impossible, accusing Stalin of crimes he hadn't actually committed.

Back in the United States, the CIA set in motion the Crusade for Freedom, a multimillion-dollar PR project which served as a domestic counterpart to the Agency's global propaganda effort. As such, it constituted a violation of the National Security Act of 1947, which explicitly prohibited the CIA from engaging in domestic propaganda activity. Designed to mobilize public opinion in support of the government's Cold War policies, this exercise in mind control depended on the cooperation of big media personalities in the United States. It was rather convenient that people like Henry Luce of Time-Life, C.D. Jackson of Fortune, and Eugene Lyons of Reader's Digest sat on the board of directors of the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE), which functioned as a thinly-veiled private-sector cover for channeling funds to neo-Nazi emigre groups intent on "liberating" their homeland. Other NCFE board members included CIA director Allen Dulles and former OSS chief William "Wild Bill" Donovan.

Small wonder that U.S. journalists rallied to the cause, even though several countries represented in the CIA-sponsored "captured nations" coalition were fictitious entities ("Cossackia," "Idel-Ural") that had been invented by the Nazi propaganda ministry during World War II. The U.S. media repeated the Big Lie, whitewashing the brutal, anti-Semitic nature of the CIA's East European proxies with heroic accounts of anticommunist "freedom fighters" sustained by nickel-and-dime donations from ordinary Americans. A similar ruse was later invoked by U.S. officials to explain how the Nicaraguan contras persisted when the Boland Amendment forbade military aid. [...]

p124

Thought police

The FBI's assault on free speech during the Nixon presidency included a systematic attempt to cripple the "underground press," which Hoover found loathsome because of "its depraved nature and moral looseness." Under the auspices of the FBI's Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), the Bureau harassed leftist and counterculture publications that sprang up across the country during the late 1960s. Local police, right-wing vigilantes and the CIA also participated in this attack on the First Amendment. Newspaper staffs were infiltrated by spies; journalists were busted on trumped-up drug or obscenity charges; offices were broken into, ransacked and bombed; equipment was stolen and telephones tapped.

At the same time, the FBI was busy planting stories in "friendly news media" in an effort to undermine the New Left, civil rights and antiwar movements. A frequent conduit for raw and unverified FBI data was the San Diego-based Copley press, which published Bureau-inspired editorials about the Black Panthers and other groups. Some Copley employees were chagrined to learn that their executive staff was supplying the FBI with photographs, reporters' notes and other information on local antiwar, black and Latino activists. Dubbed "the little FBI" inside Copley (which also worked closely with the CIA), this nest of media spies gathered articles and pictures for exclusive use by the Bureau, rather than for publication.

Photographers who once worked at Copley say they were asked to make blowups of demonstrators so that faces could be identified. Robert Leam, a former Copley photographer, remembered how he took "pictures of demonstrators, and they would never run in the papers. We shot rolls and rolls of film and would never see the photos in print." Said Leam: "Word finally filtered down that the stuff was going to government agencies. I got fed up..."

FBI snooping on law-abiding Americans continued long after J. Edgar Hoover died. During the Reagan administration, there were revelations of a major FBI spying campaign that initially targeted the anti-intervention group Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) and soon grew to encompass a hundred other organizations, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (founded by Martin Luther King Jr.), National Council of Churches, United Auto Workers, and the Women's Rape Crisis Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Yet when FBI officials claimed the surveillance of CISPES was an aberration attributable to a few rogue agents, the newspapers of record accepted this explanation at face value, despite a long history of FBI corruption and political sabotage.

A New York Times editorial stated that the FBI's probe of CISPES "seems to have begun prudently enough [but] some agents and supervisors lost their direction." The probe "went astray," the editorial concluded, even though a Times news story had reported a week earlier that then-FBI-director William Webster personally overruled local field agents who sought to terminate surveillance of peace groups in their area.

Comment: Ah, yes. The probe went astray! It was never government policy! Horror at the thought! Just like this horrible "astraying" that happened in Iraq! It was never government policy to find reasons to attack Saddam, whether they were justified or truth or not. It was an "intelligence failure"!

Also note the links with former fascists, the links with the news networks, the use of agents as journalists and journalists as agents. It certainly is a cozy little world! The more conspiratorial among you might think this was all part of some larger plan, with pieces being put into place over decades, if not over centuries or millennia, all building to a catastrophic culmination.

The next excerpt looks at how the news is slanted, so comparable atrocities done by "us" and "them" are reported much differently. This is a subtle kind of social programming that leads to the situation today where US bombing of civilians in Iraq is acceptable because "they" are either "terrorists" or hiding "terrorists". There is no more horror at death, at the brutal slaughter of the innocents. But then, is that so much different from what happened in Vietnam?

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When Airplanes Explode in the Sky
excerpted from the book
Unreliable Sources
a guide to detecting bias in news media
by Martin A. Lee & Norman Solomon
A Lyle Stuart Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1990
p278

When a Soviet interceptor plane blew up a South Korean passenger jet in September 1983, U.S. media immediately condemned it as a heinous act. Editorials denouncing the KAL shootdown were filled with phrases like "wanton killing" and "reckless aerial murder The day after the incident, a New York Times editorial, titled "Murder in the Air," was unequivocal: "There is no conceivable excuse for any nation shooting down a harmless airliner... No circumstance whatever justifies attacking an innocent plane."

But when Iran Air Flight 655 was blown out of the sky by a U.S. cruiser in July 1988, excuses were more than conceivable-they were profuse. Confronted with the sudden reality of a similar action by the U.S. government, the New York Times inverted every standard invoked with righteous indignation five years earlier.

Two days after the Iranian passenger jet went down in flames killing 290 people, the Times editorialized that "while horrifying, it was nonetheless an accident." The editorial concluded, "The onus for avoiding such accidents in the future rests on civilian aircraft: avoid combat zones, fly high, acknowledge warnings."

A similar double standard pervaded electronic media coverage. In the aftermath of the KAL tragedy, America's airwaves carried ritual denunciations by journalists. On CBS, for example, Dan Rather called it a "barbaric act." No such adjectives were heard from America s TV commentators when discussing the U.S. shootdown of a civilian jet.

The Reagan administration exploited KAL 007 for all it was worth. As Nightline host Ted Koppel admitted years later, "This was at a period when the President was very much interested in portraying the Russians as being a bunch of barbarians, was very much interested in getting the Strategic Defense Initiative program going. It all fit very nicely, didn't it, to have this image of the Russians at that time knowingly shoot down a civilian airliner?"

The Soviet shootdown inspired a single-issue focus unparalleled on Nightline since the Iran hostage crisis had given birth to the show in 1979. Nightline aired eight consecutive programs on the story, with titles such as "Korean Air 'Massacre'-Reagan Reaction" and "Punishing the Soviets-What U.S. Options?" On one show, host Ted Koppel was remarkably candid: "This has been one of those occasions when there is very little difference between what is churned out by the U.S. government's propaganda organs and by the commercial broadcasting networks."

Nightline's programs on KAL 007 featured a steady parade of hawks like Richard Viguerie, William Buckley, George Will, William Safire ("a brutal act of murder"), Jesse Helms ("premeditated, deliberate murder") and John Lofton ("sever diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union"). Koppel himself stated there wasn't "any question that the Soviet Union deserves to be accused of murder, it's only a question of whether it's first degree or second degree."

On Nightline "007 Day Three," Koppel promoted an on-air telephone poll asking viewers whether the administration "should take strong action against the Soviets." Over 90 percent said yes. On the same show, right-wing leader Terry Dolan stated that "anyone who would suggest that the U.S. would ever consider shooting down an unarmed civilian plane is downright foolish and irresponsible."

When the U.S. shot down a civilian plane five years later, Nightline's hometeam bias was evident. Instead of eight consecutive shows (followed by two more later in the month), there were only three Nightline programs focusing on the U.S. shootdown. No American foreign policy critics denounced the U.S. for murder; instead the discussion focused on "somber questions" about "the tragedy," occasionally implying that Iranians were to blame.

What can explain the disparity in coverage? In each case, Nightline meshed with the propaganda needs of the U.S. government: the Soviet action was hashed and rehashed as evidence against the Evil Empire; the U.S. action was deftly handled as a tragic mistake.

Debunking relevant comparisons

As soon as the Iranian Airbus crashed into the Persian Gulf, the Reagan administration set out to discourage what should have been obvious comparisons with the KAL incident. The New York Times and other media uncritically quoted the President's July 4 resurrection of his administration's timeworn deceit: "Remember the KAL, a group of Soviet fighter planes went up, identified the plane for what it was and then proceeded to shoot it down. There's no comparison."

Virtually ignored was a key finding of Seymour Hersh's 1986 book The Target Is Destroyed-that the Reagan administration knew within days of the KAL shootdown that the Soviets had believed it to be a military aircraft on a spy mission. Soviet commanders had no idea that they were tracking a plane with civilians on board. The Times acknowledged this years later in an editorial, "The Lie That Wasn't Shot Down"; yet when Reagan lied again, the Times again failed to shoot it down. ,

Instead, Times correspondent R.W. Apple weighed in with an analysis headlined, "Military Errors: The Snafu as History." In his lead, Apple observed that "the destruction of an Iranian airliner...came as a sharp reminder of the pervasive role of error in military history." The piece drew many parallels to the Iran jetliner's tragic end-citing examples from the American Revolution, World War II and Vietnam-while ignoring the most obvious analogy. About the KAL 007 shootdown, Apple said not a word.

In certain ways, the Iran Air tragedy was less defensible than the KAL disaster. The Iran Air jet went down in broad daylight, well within its approved commercial airline course over international waters, without ever having strayed into unauthorized air space. In contrast, the KAL jet flew way off course deep into Soviet territory above sensitive military installations, in the dead of night.

But, as with Washington's policy makers, journalists were intent on debunking relevant comparisons rather than exploring them. [...]

WHO'S A TERRORIST, AND WHO'S NOT?

Over the years, U.S. media have promoted a simplistic view of the world, where North Americans in white hats police the globe of black hats-usually worn by Arab terrorists. By applying the terrorism label only to anti-Western political activity and violence, mass media foster the illusion that "terrorism is alien to American patterns of conduct in the world, that it is done to us, and that what we do violently to others is legitimate counter-terrorism," said Richard Falk, a professor of international law at Princeton University.

The U.S. government's selective definition of terrorism is echoed throughout the media. In January 1989 the Pentagon released a slick, 130-page report-with photos and bar charts-called Terrorist Group Profiles. Praising it as "an effort to raise public awareness," CBS Evening News correspondent Terrence Smith noted that the Pentagon spent $71,000 to produce and distribute the report. "Cheap by Pentagon standards," Smith concluded, "and few are likely to question its value."

The CBS segment featured a sound bite from "terrorism expert" Ray Cline, who endorsed the Pentagon's "consciousness raising among our own people." Cline, a former CIA deputy director, is a close associate of the World Anti-Communist League, whose Latin American affiliates include unsavory characters linked to death squads and neo-Nazi violence.

A.M. Rosenthal puffed the Pentagon report as a compilation of "all known terrorist groups" in his New York Times column. But a cursory glance at the report's table of contents should have been enough to discern the Pentagon's slant. The section on African terrorism lists only one organization: the anti-apartheid African National Congress. Latin American terrorists are all left-wing revolutionaries; right-wing death squads aren't mentioned. The roster from Western Europe features the defunct Direct Action from France (supposedly a leftist group), while omitting any reference to numerous neo-Nazi terror gangs that are still active on the Continent. And El Fatah, the main PLO faction, is included among Mideast terrorist organizations, despite Yasir Arafat's renunciation of terrorism.

That major U.S. news media should give their stamp of approval to such a blatantly biased Pentagon report underscores an essential point. "The American understanding of terrorism," said Professor [Richard] Falk, "has been dominated by recent governmental efforts to associate terrorists with Third World revolutionaries, especially those with Arab countries... The media have generally carried on their inquiries within this framework of selective perception. As a result, our political imagination is imprisoned, with a variety of ugly and unfortunate consequences."

p 288

As told by mass media, only America's enemies practice terrorism. When the battleship New Jersey lobbed mortars into Lebanese villages in 1984, causing numerous civilian casualties and arousing intense anti-American feelings, few journalists suggested that this was also a form of terrorism. The idea that terrorist attacks against Americans might be a response to actions by the U.S. government seemingly never crosses the minds of most reporters. Instead, news stories depict terrorism as random madness, with neither roots nor origin. In so doing, mass media promote the officially sanctioned view that the U.S. is unfairly targeted by bloodthirsty fanatics who deserve swift retribution.

Terrorism and counter-terrorism are often two ways of describing the same activity. As Richard Falk wrote in Revolutionaries and Functionaries: The Dual Face of Terror, "The terrorist is as much the well-groomed bureaucrat reading the Wall Street Journal as the Arab in desert dress looking through the gunsights of a Kalashnikov rifle." Indeed, the activities of both are symbiotically linked, with U.S. officials invoking the specter of revolutionary violence in Third World countries as a pretext to preserve "national security" through state terrorism.

Selective definitions of terrorism

Because the U.S. government dominates the media agenda, Third World revolutionary violence continues to exert a distracting hold on the American imagination, while U.S.-backed state terrorism in countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, the Philippines and Indonesia is downplayed. Consider the headline of a December 1988 New York Times article by Lindsey Gruson: "Salvador Rebels Step Up Terrorism." The lead reported on the leftists' "use of terrorism"-a reference to the killing of eight mayors in the previous eight months. One learned only in the last paragraph (of a 22-paragraph story) that Americas Watch, an independent human rights organization, found the U.S.-backed government was responsible for two out of every three civilian deaths in El Salvador during this period.

When tracking abuses of civilians by rebel groups in Central America independent human rights organizations long identified the Nicaraguan contras as the worst offenders. A once-secret 1982 Pentagon report explicitly described the contras as a "terrorist" group. A CIA-authored assassination manual actually instructed the contras to target elected mayors in Nicaragua. Despite this evidence, the New York Times never referred matter-of-factly in a news story to "contra terrorism" or ran a headline like "Nicaraguan Rebels Step Up Terrorism"-a blatant double standard in light of Times reporting on El Salvador. Instead, an October 1989 Times editorial used the word "pinpricks" to describe contra terrorist attacks, which had killed over 140 Nicaraguan civilians since a cease fire supposedly went into effect 18 months earlier.

As government-allied death squad murders escalated in El Salvador, the Times whitewashed U.S. responsibility for the violence. "Despite U.S. training programs," read a Times editorial, "the Salvadoran military played into leftist hands with indiscriminate attacks on peasants [emphasis added]." As Allan Nairn documented in The Progressive, it was U.S. intelligence that organized and tutored the Salvadoran security forces involved in death squad activity that killed tens of thousands since the 1960s.

Jude Wanniski, former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and author of the annual Media Guide, is an ardent defender of Salvadoran death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson, widely believed to be the mastermind of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980. Wanniski dismissed the notion that D'Aubuisson has anything to do with the death squads, calling it "one of the most successful hoaxes of the decade." Those like former U.S. ambassador Robert White and ex-Salvadoran President Jose Napoleon Duarte, who have linked D'Aubuisson to the death squads, were guilty, in Wanniski's words, of "a McCarthyist tactic, pure and simple." Wanniski didn't mention D'Aubuisson's admiring comment about Adolf Hitler told to a German reporter and another European journalist: "You Germans were very intelligent. You realized that the Jews were responsible for the spread of communism, and you began to kill them."

The kind of terrorism the U.S. media pay most attention to is committed by small groups on planes, ships, or at airports-what Edward S. Herman has described as "retail terror"-compared to "wholesale terror" that occurs with U.S. financial assistance and military support in countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and the Philippines (where human rights abuses have persisted under Corazon Aquino's government at a level rivaling, if not exceeding, the Marcos era). Although their numbers are much smaller, the victims of Third World revolutionary violence often receive far more news coverage than victims of U.S.-backed state terror.

A notable exception occurred when Salvadoran soldiers murdered six Jesuit priests and two associates in November 1989. Although depicted as an aberration, this incident was actually part of a long-standing pattern of religious persecution by U.S.-backed regimes, which have kidnapped, tortured and murdered scores of progressive church activists in Latin America during the past decade.

Comment: The CIA and the news. The programming on terrorism has been going on in an intensified way since the Reagan administration. Dare we say it is now so thorough as to be complete? With the 15 minute attention span, what was said yesterday is forgotten. We are living in a 1984-like world where Big Brother tells us what to think each day and we blindly accept what we are told.

And if the turn that we are commanded to take is too radical, then they Powers That Be can organise a "new Pearl Harbor" to stoke the emotional flames to fuel the change of direction.

We are truly little better than mechanical robots being maneuvered this way and that according to the needs of our puppet masters.

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Toward an Uncensored Future
excerpted from the book
Unreliable Sources
a guide to detecting bias in news media
by Martin A. Lee & Norman Solomon
A Lyle Stuart Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1990
[...]

Linguicide

The intersection of Madison Avenue, Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue is a heavily-trafficked zone, where lies and facts cohabitate as convenience and opportunism dictate. With reporters serving mainly as messengers for corporate PR reps and government officials who try to fog up reality, it's no wonder "the news" leaves so many people feeling confused

The world according to mass media is not supposed to make sense; it is supposed to make money. When we watch news on television, Mark Crispin Miller has written, "we come to feel, not only that the world is blowing up, but that it does so for no reason, that its ongoing history is nothing more than a series of eruptions, each without cause or context. The news creates this vision of mere anarchy through its erasure of the past, and its simultaneous tendency to atomize the present into so many unrelated happenings, each recounted through a sequence of dramatic, unintelligible pictures. In short, the TV news adapts the world to its own commercial needs, translating history into several mad occurrences, just the sort of 'story' that might pique the viewer's morbid curiosity... And so we have the correspondent, solemnly nattering among the ruins, offering crude 'analysis' and 'background,' as if to compensate us for the deep bewilderment that his medium created in the first place.

The resulting renditions of the world-from special reports about earthshaking events to local TV news happy-talk-are disorienting, which suits backers of the status quo just fine. Confusion "keeps us powerless and controllable " psychotherapist Anne Wilson Schaef notes. "No one is more controllable than a confused person; no society is more controllable than a confused society. Politicians know this better than anyone, and that is why they use innuendos, veiled references, and out-and-out lies instead of speaking clearly and truthfully."

While sometimes echoing public skepticism or even disdain toward politicians, news media grant them continuous access-endlessly featuring, quoting, summarizing and propagating their opinions. As with histrionic wrestlers on TV, journalists and political players make various noises, encouraging viewers to mistake the embraces for mortal combat. But when the President wants reporters to jump for a story, they are much less interested in asking "Why?" than "How high?"

The symbiotic relationship between officialdom and the press has debased public discourse. We could call this process "linguicide"-the ongoing destruction of language as an instrument of meaning. Linguicide occurs when journalists say "tax reform" but actually mean huge giveaways to the wealthy. It occurs when an economic system dominated by gigantic monopolies is erroneously described as "free enterprise." Or when building new weapons of mass destruction is called "modernization" of a "deterrent." Or when a Central American government murders 50,000 of its own people, including priests and human rights monitors, but is routinely sanctified as a "democracy"-that, too, is an example of linguicide.

Ultimately, the denuding of issues is what linguicide is about: "news" as a hazy defoliant, stripping away substance. "Covering" current events, the media blanket is more opaque than translucent-smothering issues rather than ventilating them. Like the prisoners in Plato's cave who can see only flickering shadows on the wall, our picture of the world is filtered through the mass media and we are apt to mistake this distortion for reality.

p334

Media governance

... A central function of the American press is to keep legitimizing the country's most powerful institutions, as exemplified by that post-Bush-inaugural headline on the front page of the New York Times-"The People, the Thousands, Get a Look at Their House." In this respect, certain "noncommercial" news programs provided by PBS and NPR can be particularly insidious, posing as alternatives without really fulfilling that function.

In projecting elite opinion, the U.S. press plays a crucial role in molding popular opinion; it serves as a channel that converts the former, however imprecisely, into the latter. And while mass media can't always dictate our political and social attitudes, they never stop telling us what our views supposedly are-or should be. USA Today has popularized the royal "We" in news headlines-"We like..." "We support..." "We're happy about..." etc.-keeping the public informed about the outlooks that constitute being in step.

American media are perhaps best understood as institutions of governance that have broken new ground in addressing what Aldous Huxley described as "the problem of making people love their servitude." That so many of us take for granted the freedom and independence of the U.S. press is an index of the extent to which we've become accustomed to a subtle kind of oppression.

If we're looking only for hard-as-nails prohibitions usually associated with despotism, we may not recognize the spikes being driven by familiar forces. Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky have pinpointed the dilemma in their book Manufacturing Consent: "In countries where the levers of power are in the hands of a state bureaucracy, the monopolistic control over the media, often supplemented by official censorship, makes it clear that the media serve the ends of a dominant elite. It is much more difficult to see a propaganda system at work where the media are private and formal censorship is absent. This is especially true where the media actively compete, periodically attack and expose corporate and governmental malfeasance, and aggressively portray themselves as spokesmen for free speech and the general community interest."

p334

Oligarchy made easy

"The news media in America do not tell the American people that a political whip hangs over their head. That is because a political whip hangs over their head."

So wrote Walter Karp shortly before his death in 1989. He named mass media's most forbidden topic: "In the American republic the fact of oligarchy is the most dreaded knowledge of all, and our news keeps that knowledge from us. By their subjugation of the press, the political powers in America have conferred on themselves the greatest of political blessings-Gyges' ring of invisibility. And they have left the American people more deeply baffled by their own country's politics than any people on earth. Our public realm lies steeped in twilight, and we call that twilight news."

What Karp called the "invisibility" of American political power is a ghostly shield guarding against exposure and deflecting critical attacks. Major media steadfastly refuse to acknowledge what underlies so many reported events-"the fact of oligarchy." When brought to light, specific abuses come across as episodic-perhaps attributable to corrupt individuals in high places, but not the result of overall corporate domination.

Eager to please their bosses in an era of staff cutbacks and bottom-line budget slashing, journalists are integral to the closed loops of social denial. Thus we hear precious little about the fact that one percent of the population in the U.S. owns nearly one-half of the country's wealth, and one percent of all industrial corporations in America account for nearly 90 percent of total sales. It is seemingly taboo for journalists to examine the implications of such figures.

"Financial accumulation is admired," political scientist Paul Goldstene points out. "That it influences politics is dimly understood and vaguely resented: that economic concentration is, in fact, political power is understood by modem liberals hardly at all." But it is surely understood by today's media owners and their wealthy corporate brethren. Beholden most of all to big business, mass media mystify who controls what, how and why, taking people on detours every day-away from clarity about power in our society.

As Ben Bagdikian observed, "Monopolistic power dominates many other industries, and most of them enjoy special treatment by the government. But media giants have two enormous advantages: They control the public image of national leaders who, as a result, fear and favor the media magnates' political agendas; and they control the information and entertainment that help establish the social, political and cultural attitudes of increasingly larger populations." This built-in institutional bias "does more than merely protect the corporate system. It robs the public of a chance to understand the real world."

Rather than probing the extent to which U.S. corporations influence foreign policy, American media typically cover political developments abroad (revolutionary movements, military coups, etc.) as if they were divorced from economics. On the home front, there is hardly any in-depth reporting about what has caused the widening gap between rich and poor, of which millions of homeless Americans are only the most glaring symptom. And when the roots of social ills are obscured, people have a tendency to blame the victim or look for scapegoats; inevitably this fuels xenophobia and racial hatred.

"There is a fundamental contradiction between a corporately owned press and a press fulfilling its duties as a critical social institution," said Alexander Cockburn. But reporters are loath to explore this contradiction, preferring safer controversies that usually amount to pseudo-tempests in media teapots.

Comment: Control the use of language and the war is won. Force the juvenile dictionary upon people and the ability to think and reflect about matters will be lost. Sound bytes are pre-thought answers to everything. Thinking becomes the stringing together of fast food phrases, completely free of any mental nutrition.

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How the Washington Post Censors the News
A Letter to the Washington Post
by Julian C. Holmes
[...] If you think about it, conspiracy is a fundamental aspect of
doing business in this country.

Take the systematic and cooperative censorship of the Persian Gulf
War by the Pentagon and much of the news media (*24).

Or the widespread plans of business and government groups to spend $100 million in taxes to promote a distorted and truncated
history of Columbus in America (*25). along the lines of the
Smithsonian Institution's "fusion of the two worlds", (*26).
rather than examining more realistic aspects of the Spanish
invasion, like "anger, cruelty, gold, terror, and death" (*27).

Or circumstances surrounding the U.S. Justice Department theft from
the INSLAW company of sophisticated, law-enforcement computer
software which "now point to a widespread conspiracy
implicating lesser Government officials in the theft of
INSLAW's technology", says former U.S. Attorney General Elliot
Richardson (*28).

Or Watergate.

Or the "largest bank fraud in world financial history" (*29), where
the White House knew of the criminal activities at "the Bank of
Crooks and Criminals International" (BCCI) (*30), where U.S.
intelligence agencies did their secret banking (*31), and where
bribery of prominent American public officials "was a way of
doing business" (*32).

Or the 1949 conviction of "GM [General Motors], Standard Oil of
California, Firestone, and E. Roy Fitzgerald, among others, for
criminally conspiring to replace electric transportation with
gas- and diesel-powered buses and to monopolize the sale of
buses and related products to transportation companies
throughout the country" [in, among others, the cities of New
York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis, Oakland, Salt Lake
City, and Los Angeles] (*33).

Or the collusion in 1973 between Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT).
and the U.S. Department of Transportation to overlook safety
defects in the 1.2 million Corvair automobiles manufactured by
General Motors in the early 60's (*34).

Or the A. H. Robins Company, which manufactured the Dalkon Shield
intrauterine contraceptive, and which ignored repeated warnings
of the Shield's hazards and which "stonewalled, deceived,
covered up, and

covered up the coverups...[thus inflicting] on women a
worldwide epidemic of pelvic infections." (*35).

Or that cooperation between McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company and the FAA resulted in failure to enforce regulations regarding
the unsafe DC-10 cargo door which failed in flight killing all
364 passengers on Turkish Airlines Flight 981 on March 3, 1974
(*36).

Or the now-banned, cancer-producing pregnancy drug
Diethylstilbestrol (DES). that was sold by manufacturers who
ignored tests which showed DES to be carcinogenic; and who
acted "in concert with each other in the testing and marketing
of DES for miscarriage purposes" (*37).

Or the conspiracies among bankers and speculators, with the
cooperation of a corrupted Congress, to relieve depositors of
their savings. This "arrogant disregard from the White House,
Congress and corporate world for the interests and rights of
the American people" will cost U.S. tapayers many hundreds of
billions of dollars (*38).

Or the Westinghouse, Allis Chalmers,Federal Pacific, and General
Electric executives who met surreptitiously in hotel rooms to
fix prices and eliminate competition on heavy industrial
equipment (*39).

Or the convictions of Industrial Biotest Laboratories (IBT).
officers for fabricating safety tests on prescription drugs
(*40).

Or the conspiracy by the asbestos industry to suppress knowledge of
medical problemsrelating to asbestos (*41).

Or the 1928 Achnacarry Agreement through which oil companies "agreed not to engage in any effective price competition" (*42).

Or the conspiracy among U.S. Government agencies and the Congress to cover up the nature of our decades-old war against the people
of Nicaragua

a covert war that continues in 1992 with the U.S. Government
applying pressure for the Nicaraguan police to reorganize into
a more repressive force (*43).

Or the conspiracy by the CIA and the U.S. Government to interfere in
the Chilean election process with military aid, covert actions,
and an economic boycott which culminated in the overthrow of
the legitimately elected government and the assassination of
President Salvador Allende in 1973 (*44).

Or the conspiracy among U.S. officials including Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger and CIA Director William Colby to finance
terrorism in Angola for the purpose of disrupting Angola's
plans for peaceful elections in October 1975, and to lie about
these actions to the Congress and the news media (*45). And CIA
Director George Bush's subsequent cover up of this
U.S.-sponsored terrorism (*46).

Or President George Bush's consorting with the Pentagon to invade
Panama in 1989 and thereby violate the Constitution of the
United States, the U.N. Charter, the O.A.S. Charter, and the
Panama Canal Treaties (*47).

Or the "gross antitrust violations" (*48) and the conspiracy of
American oil companies and the British and U.S. governments to
strangle Iran economically after Iran nationalized the
British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951. And the
subsequent overthrow by the CIA in 1953 of Iranian Prime
Minister Muhammed Mossadegh (*49).

Or the CIA-planned assassination of Congo head-of-state Patrice
Lumumba (*50).

Or the deliberate and wilful efforts of President George Bush,
Senator Robert Dole, Senator George Mitchell, various U.S.
Government agencies, and members of both Houses of the Congress
to buy the 1990 Nicaraguan national elections for the
presidential candidate supported by President Bush (*51).

Or the collective approval by 64 U.S. Senators of Robert Gates to
head the CIA, in the face of "unmistakable evidence that Gates
lied about his role in the Iran-Contra scandal" (*52).

Or "How Reagan and the Pope Conspired to Assist Poland's Solidarity
Movement and Hasten the Demise of Communism" (*53).

Or how the Reagan Administration connived with the Vatican to ban
the use of USAID funds by any country "for the promotion of
birth control or abortion" (*54).

Or "the way the Vatican and Washington colluded to achieve common
purpose in Central America" (*55).

Or the collaboration of Guatemalan strong-man and mass murderer
Hector Gramajo with the U.S. Army to design "programs to build
civilian-military cooperation" at the U.S. Army School of the
Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia; five of the nine
soldiers accused in the 1989 Jesuit massacre in El Salvador are
graduates of SOA which trains Latin/American military personnel
(*56).

Or the conspiracy of the Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant administration
to harass and cause bodily harm to whistleblower Linda Porter
who uncovered dangerous working conditions at the facility
(*57).

Or the conspiracy of President Richard Nxion and the Government of
South Vietnam to delay the Paris Peace Talks until after the
1968 U.S. presidential election (*58).

Or the pandemic coverups of police violence (*59).

Or the always safe-to-cite worldwide communist conspiracy (*60).

Or maybe the socially responsible, secret consortium to publish The
Satanic Verses in paperback (*61).

Conspiracies are obviously a way to get things done, and the Washington Post offers little comment unless conspiracy theorizing threatens to expose a really important conspiracy that, let's say, benefits big business or big government.

Comment: Conspiracies are back in the news. Of course, this is to better ridicule them and allow Mr. and Mrs. Sheepwalker to go back to sleep. However, as the writer points out, conspiracies are an accepted way of doing business: government, corporations, and organised crime all partake of its opportunities.

The psychopath revels in secrecy, and psychopathic culture applies the dynamic to culture as a whole.

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Another story that doesn't make the media

The "Third Worldization" of America

from the book - Dark Victory

by Walden Bello
published by
Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First), 1994

The 1980s ended with the top 20 per cent of the population having the largest share of total income, while the bottom 60 per cent had the lowest share of total income ever recorded. Indeed, within the top 20 per cent, the gains of the Reagan-Bush period were concentrated in the top 1 per cent, whose income grew by 63 per cent between 1980 and 1989, capturing over 53 per cent of the total income growth among all families. Meanwhile, the bottom 60 per cent of families actually experienced a decline in income.

The same radically regressive trends were evident in wealth holdings, which were even more concentrated than income:

[I]n l989, the top 1 percent of families earned 14.1% total income, yet owned 38.3% of total net worth and 50.3% of net financial assets. The wealth distribution has also become more unequal over time. The wealth holdings of the richest 0.5% of families grew by one percentage point over the entire 21-year period, 1962-83, but grew by four times as much in just six years between 1983 and 1989. Meanwhile, the bottom 60% of families had lower wealth holdings in 1989 than 1983.35

The trends revealed a middle class that was losing ground. Median family incomes for 1990 and 1991 dropped to their levels of the late 1970s when adjusted for taxes and inflation. But even more alarming was the fact that these trends translated into greater poverty and hunger among the more vulnerable sectors of the population.

The percentage of whites living in poverty rose from 9 per cent in 1979 to 10 per cent in 1989. In the case of Hispanics, the increase was from 22 to 26 per cent, while black poverty remained steady at 31 per cent. While the ratio of black to white incomes did not change much, with black median income remaining at 60 per cent that of whites, the ratio of Hispanic to white median income fell from 69 per cent in 1979 to 65 per cent in 1989. Despite the differences in racial impact, it is clear that the most prominent feature in the Reagan rollback was its class character.

That their circumstances had not declined further with respect to whites according to some social indicators was, of course, cold comfort for blacks, for the inequalities that remained the same or became only slightly more pronounced are nevertheless stark: average black per capita income is now less than 60 per cent that of whites; 13 per cent of blacks are jobless compared with 6 per cent for whites; and the life expectancy of black males is seven years less than that of white males.

By the end of the Republican era, the United States, a congressional study asserted, had become 'the most unequal of modern nations.' Some 20 million Americans were said to be experiencing hunger; 25 million of them - some one in every 10 - were receiving federal food stamps. The child poverty rate, which had risen from 18 per cent in 1980 to 22 percent in 1991, was the highest among the industrialized countries. Among children in minority groups, the poverty rate was even higher, at almost 50 per cent.

Indeed, structural adjustment Republican-style was beginning to give the US a Third World appearance: rising poverty, widespread homelessness, greater inequality, social polarization. But perhaps it was the condition of infants that most starkly captured the 'Third Worldization' of America. The infant mortality rate for African Americans now stands at 17.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This figure compares unfavorably not only to those for most other industrial countries but even to figures for some of the developing countries of the Caribbean, such as Jamaica (17.2 per 1,000), Trinidad (16.3), and Cuba (16).

from the book
Dark Victory by Walden Bello
published by
Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First)
398 60 th Street, Oakland, CA 94618

Comment: This falls into the category of stories the mainstream media do not report, the real effects of recent economic policy, known around the world as neo-liberalism.

Ronal Reagan died last spring. The press was full of glorious tales of that lost by-gone era, that feel-good era when Americans shed the dreaded "Vietnam syndrome" and returned to kicking butt around the world, while at home the cocaine-fueled eighties saw the stealing of the life-savings of Americans by the likes of Michael Milken.

Consider the figures in the next article that show:

More than 31 million Americans live in poverty. The number fell sharply from 1959 to the early 1 970s, then rose again until the early 1990s. The rate then fell gradually until 2000 when it began to rise again - it rises rapidly during economic recession, which has prevailed in the US since 2000. Very little progress has been made on tackling poverty since the early 1970s.

So what is the truth about those Reagan years that the media waxes on with such nostalgia?

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The Other America
New Internationalist magazine, November 2002

INEQUALITY

* Divisions of wealth and power have reached unprecedented levels in America. While wages and welfare have stagnated or declined, the superrich have got immeasurably richer. The 'gini co-efficient' contrasts the income of the richest 10% of the population with the poorest 10%. Zero represents perfect equality and 100 perfect inequality. In the late 1990s the US was the 71st most unequal out of 112 countries - the same as Turkmenistan.

POVERTY

* More than 31 million Americans live in poverty. The number fell sharply from 1959 to the early 1 970s, then rose again until the early 1 990s. The rate then fell gradually until 2000 when it began to rise again - it rises rapidly during economic recession, which has prevailed in the US since 2000. Very little progress has been made on tackling poverty since the early 1970s.
* Second Harvest, the largest network of Food Banks in the US, fed nearly 10% of the population in 1998 - and still had to turn away several million people.
* In California, only 56% of tenants can afford the official Fair Market Rent.
* Real wages in the US are now 12% less than they were in 1973.
* Half the working population has no pension provision.

HEALTH

* In 1998, combined public and private expenditure on health in the US was $4,180 per person. That was $1,441 more than its nearest rival, Switzerland, and by far the highest in the world. Despite this:
* 38.7 million people- including 8.5 million children - were without health insurance in the year 2000
* When unemployment rose from 6 million in March to 7.7 million in October 2001, 725,000 workers lost their health insurance,
* In March 2002,1.36 million healthcare workers (including some doctors) had no health insurance: an increase of 98% since 1 998

THE DOLLAR

* What's good for the dollar and the US economy is good for the world. That is the principle on which the global economic system is based. So Americans must keep on consuming come what may - including escalating public and personal debts.
* Consumer debt (mostly credit cards) in the US more than doubled between June 1992 and June 2002, when it reached $1,71 3 billion ($1.7 trillion). This represents roughly 5B,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It is increasing at a rate of $90 billion a month.
* On 1 3 August 2002, the US national debt stood at $6,161 billion ($6.1 trillion). This makes the US the world's largest debtor by a very long way - more than $20,000 per head of the US population. It increases by about $1 billion every day.
* The annual trade deficit (the amount by which imports exceed exports) grew from $29.5 billion in 1991 to $450 billion in 2000 - the largest in US history.
* By way of contrast, in 1 999 the US devoted just 0.1 % of its Gross National Product to overseas aid: by far the smallest of any of the 28 members of the rich-country club, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); the US owes the UN $1 billion.

PRISONS

* The US and the Russian Federation incarcerate more people than anywhere else in the world - by a huge margin.
* In February 2000, the US prison population reached 2 million. This represents 25% of the entire prison population of the world - from just 5% of the world's population.
* More than 500,000 people are employed by the prison system - running close to the two largest private employers, WalMart and General Motors.

THE MILITARY

The US spends more on its armed forces than the rest of the world put together.
* The military accounts for $343 billion of the total Federal budget of $1,900 billion in 2002.
* Since 11 September 2001 the military budget has jumped by $46 billion.
* In 2000 the number of active military personnel was 1.4 million, down from a 'peacetime' peak of 2.2 million in 1987 - but still making the military the largest single employer in the US.
* Between 1 995 and 1 999 the US accounted for 48% of all conventional arms exports - compared with its nearest rivals Russia (13%), France (11 %) and Britain (7%).

Comment: Bush campaigning includes paeans to the economic strength of the US. This strength is a mere media illusion, being promoted until election day. If Bush returns, wait for some "unforeseen" event to radically change the economic climate. If Kerry wins, we can expect the usual "It is much worse than our predecessor led us to believe".

In either case, the daily lot of the "average" American, that is, the ones who aren't part of the military-industrial complex, is worse than it was thirty years ago, and it will only get worse.

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Ridge says there 'isn't a day' U.S. border guards don't turn away terror suspects
Last Updated Thu, 14 Oct 2004 20:01:12 EDT
OTTAWA - U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in Ottawa on Thursday that people with ties to terrorism are being blocked at border points from entering the U.S. every day.

"There isn't a day that goes by, literally, where a couple of people aren't turned away from our borders because they are associated in some manner, shape or form with terrorists or terror-related organizations," said Ridge, who made the remarks during a meeting with Public Safety and Security Minister Anne McLellan. [...]

U.S. officials said later that between January and September 2004, 1,100 people have been turned away: some of them for having criminal records, some of them because they had potential links to terrorists.

Ridge said U.S. border guards don't have the authority to arrest those who are considered dangerous unless they are wanted in the United States.

But those who live close to the border say the threat to American security is being exaggerated. Roger Gallaway, a Liberal MP who represents Sarnia – one of the busiest crossings between Canada and the U.S. – says many who try to enter the U.S. are recorded as having ties to terrorism when such ties don't exist.

Gallaway gave the example of a local engineer who was recently turned back. "He was strip-searched, he was handcuffed, and an hour-and-a-half later he could go. But, indeed, his name was similar to someone on a terrorist watch list."

Huge lineups are clogging Canadian checkpoints right now, partly due to a strike by Canadian border officials. But Ridge and McLellan say they're making progress in speeding the passage of commercial and private travellers and goods.

"This is indeed a signal that both countries remain committed to working in partnership in order to secure our borders," said McLellan.

Some changes are in the works. For example, truck drivers will soon be pre-screened at the Fort Erie, Ont., crossing in a plan that will later extend to other checkpoints.

And at the Vancouver airport, a new pilot project will see low-risk travellers conduct their own self-screeing using iris scans or fingerprints.

The so-called biometric identification is controversial because of fears over privacy violations.

Comment: Create a problem, in this case, border back-ups due to terrorist fever, and then come in with the solution: self-screening using iris scans and fingerprints! How convenient! How efficient! How Orwellian!

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Transport Canada announces new biometric identification cards
October 15, 2004 
CANADA

MONTREAL (CP) - Airport employees will soon have their biometric data scanned before gaining access to restricted areas, Transport Canada and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority announced Friday.

A new restricted-area card will include either the fingerprint or iris measurement of the cardholder.

The new cards are now being tested at international airports in Vancouver and Kelowna, B.C.

"The Government of Canada is committed to continuously enhancing the security of our aviation system," Transport Minister Jean Lapierre told a news conference at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, where the cards will next be tested. "These projects will continue to ensure Canada's place as one of the world leaders in aviation security."

The cards will also be tested in Charlottetown.

Transport Canada and CATSA also announced Friday a pilot project to use document screening equipment to detect explosives at pre-boarding checkpoints.

The new identification equipment will test for traces of explosives on passenger documents such as boarding passes.

"If a person touches the explosives, no matter when, we're going to be able to detect it with this piece of state-of-the-art equipment," said Jacques Duchesneau, the head of CATSA.

Document screening trials will begin in Ottawa next week.

Lapierre praised Canada's airport security, but said the same attention had to be paid to securing the country's other means of transport.

"We still have lots to do," Lapierre said. "It's OK here for aviation, but we have to do more in ports, with railways . . . the whole aspect of security is becoming important for us all.

"I'm very preoccupied by the fact that we cannot neglect anything of the security aspect. We have to be able protect our citizens and our borders."

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Analysis: All change for Washington outlook?
By Jonathan Marcus
BBC diplomatic correspondent
The next US administration's foreign policy will not be decided simply by the outcome of the race between George W Bush and Senator John Kerry.

Would a re-elected President Bush keep Rumsfeld and Rice?
Even if Mr Bush were to be re-elected, the direction of US foreign policy is by no means clear.

Would it be business as usual in Washington? Or, would a significant change in the foreign policy line-up lead to a shift in Washington's approach towards the world?

Even from within Republican ranks, strong criticism has been directed at Mr Bush's handling of foreign affairs, most recently by Brent Scowcroft.

When George W Bush's father was president, Mr Scowcroft was the White House national security adviser. And now he has had some unpleasant things to say about the younger Bush's stewardship over US foreign policy.

Mr Scowcroft told the Financial Times newspaper that George W is mesmerised by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon; that the Bush administration's current efforts to enlist UN and Nato help in Iraq and Afghanistan are a desperate move to "rescue a failing venture"; and that America's unilateralist stance had contributed to the decline of the Atlantic alliance.

Tarnished ideology

Mr Scowcroft's blunt remarks are a reminder that there is a very different strand of foreign policy-making in the Republican Party that is struggling to re-emerge.

It could be dubbed the realist or pragmatic wing - the foreign policy establishment of Henry Kissinger, James Baker and others - that has dominated Republican thinking on foreign affairs for much of the past 30 or so years.

This tradition was eclipsed once the younger Mr Bush came to power by a new ideologically tinged grouping of intellectuals - the so-called "neo-cons" or "neo-conservatives" who, especially after the events of 9/11, seized upon the opportunity to push US foreign policy in a new and more unilateralist direction.

However the neo-cons have been tarnished by America's mistakes in Iraq.

And their programme to bring democracy to the wider Middle East looks increasingly over-ambitious if not utopian.

There is no doubt that the neo-conservatives are under something of a cloud. But equally it is far from clear that, if Mr Bush were returned to the White House, they would necessarily be shifted to the margins.

What post might Condoleezza Rice be offered? Would she stay as national security adviser? Mr Bush certainly values her skills but many experts question whether she has provided the cohesion and co-ordination to foreign policy that is a key element of this job.

Would there be any post for Donald Rumsfeld's controversial deputy in the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz? And what of Mr Rumsfeld himself?

Return to past?

In some ways, for all of the focus on foreign policy in this campaign - by which Americans really mean security - the various statements and pronouncements mean little.

What matters is who wins in November and then who gets the key jobs when the new administration takes office next January.

It is clear, for example, that the Pentagon has eclipsed the State Department in the handling of critical areas of foreign policy like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Will the more traditional relationship between these two great departments be restored even if Mr Bush wins the race for the White House?

In short, Mr Scowcroft's comments are a signal that even if Mr Bush wins in November, there are those within his party who wish to re-assert a more traditional Republican view of America's engagement with the world.

They will be bolstered by many of the president's key domestic political advisers who are reportedly seething that the neo-conservatives' "adventurism" abroad, as they see it, has turned what should have been a Bush walk-over into an electoral race that is still too close to call.

Comment: This is an example of wishful thinking on the part of the journalist. Or worse. If re-elected, Bush will certainly not feel that he has to answer to the Republican old guard. Given that Kerry is sporting the same foreign policy, with minor adjustments such as his promise to do more consulting with allies, why would W. change a thing?

Israel is calling the shots for American foreign policy. This will continue to be the case for a first time elected W, or for the Democrat Kerry.

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JOHN ASHCROFT: RELEASE THOSE VIDEOS!
By: Devvy
NewsWithViews.com
September 17, 2004

Back in late November, 2002, it was reported that Chairman Dan Burton's House Government Reform Committee investigators had discovered the possible whereabouts of video tapes and photographs of the Murrah Building before an alleged truck bomb exploded on April 19, 1995. The existence of these videos was acknowledged in the Final Report of the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee. The Department of Justice under Janet Reno refused to release these videos and John Ashcroft has carried that position forward to this day, despite efforts by Congressman Dan Burton. Past efforts to get key documents and information, have been stone walled and the cover up continues under the Bush Administration.

As someone who has followed and researched that act of terrorism from day one, I also believe, based on all my research and discussions with individuals deeply involved in trying to expose the on-going cover up about who actually planned and executed that bombing, that the video tape from the security camera positioned on the Southwestern Bell building directly across the street from the Murrah building exists and that the feds are hiding it. Why? The answer is obvious: If that video does not show Timothy McVeigh and an accomplice in front of that building right before it was blown from inside, it would raise far more questions than the government wants answered. If that video shows what really happened - the building was blown from inside, the American people will go ballistic.

If there was nothing to hide, that Southwestern Bell building video would have been plastered over every TV network ad nauseum as we saw with the Rodney King tape. The continued refusal of Ashcroft to release all videos in possession of the FBI/Department of Justice showing the actual bombing of the Murrah Building does nothing but reinforce charges of a cover up.

9-11

The release of a video titled In Plane Sight has generated a firestorm of interest in what really happened on September 11, 2001. Like tens of millions of Americans, I believed the official story line until about a year and a half ago when I finally came to the painful conclusion that Flight 93 over Pennsylvania was probably shot down by a National Guard unit. While it was also very difficult for me to accept, I also finally came to the conclusion that there was something very wrong with the commercial air liner flying into the Pentagon story.

Too many Americans with credentials qualifying them to analyze something so horrific as a commercial air liner plowing into a building like the Pentagon, have been insisting for three years that it simply didn't happen. The science and mathematics when you're applying them to a jet smashing into a building, i.e. size of the aircraft, jet fuel in the tanks at the time of impact and physical damage to the area surrounding the point of impact don't lie.

As with the OKC bombing when Brigadier General Ben Partin, U.S.A.F. (Ret) stepped forward with his expert analysis debunking the governments truck bomb theory, aerospace engineers, scientists, structural engineers, environmental engineers and countless other professionals with no political ax to grind have been coming forward debunking the commercial jet crashing into the Pentagon story. Should all these concerned Americans simply be written off as kooks and "right wingers?" Only if one's blind loyalty is to a political party they want to protect or because too many people can't handle the truth. It may shock Bush apologists, but there are actually good, decent Americans in this country, who when they see something isn't right or doesn't make sense, they attempt to find out the truth for no other reason than just that - finding the truth.

Three separate crime scenes

When conducting an investigation into a crime, there are certain procedures used to begin unraveling what happened. One always has to ask the question, "Who benefits?" The Bush administration says Ussamah Bin Laden. Investigative bull dogs like Michael Ruppert bring forth a compelling case that says hard evidence proves something different. Follow the money trail.

In the case of 9-11, there are three separate crime scenes: the Pentagon, the World Trade Center towers and a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Let's just look at the Pentagon for this article. Anyone who has seen the media feed from that day and from 9-11 In Plane Site will immediately have questions just from a layman's perspective:

Why is there no debris in front of the building at the point of impact? Why are there unbroken windows at the point of impact from an 80-ton aircraft traveling at a minimum of 400 mph? Why are there books sitting on desks fluttering in the wind at the point of impact when less than an hour before, an 80-ton aircraft with a full fuel supply, supposedly plows directly into the offices where those items are located, yet paper books didn't burn? How is this possible?

Before the employees at the Pentagon gas station and the Sheraton National Hotel could even rewind their security camera film which was pointed right at the point of impact at the Pentagon, the FBI swooped down and confiscated all videos. They have them and they will not release them. Same as the videos taken by the FBI from the Virginia Department of Transportation which will also show exactly what flew into the Pentagon. The FBI has them and they won't release them. Why not?

There is one way to end all the speculation and put this matter to rest permanently. Do you remember back on June 12, 1987 when Ronald Reagan said, "Mr. Gorbechev, tear down that wall!" in Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin, Germany? I say, Mr. Ashcroft: Release all the videos of the Pentagon attack! If those videos clearly show Flight 77 going into the Pentagon, that will end all this speculation on that crime scene. There is no national security issue here. This event is now over three years old. There is no reason for Ashcroft to refuse to release all the videos confiscated that day. Yes, it would be painful for the families of those who were on Flight 77 - if the videos show Flight 77 plowing into the Pentagon. If the videos show otherwise, then those families are going to bring down the roof demanding to know what really happened to Flight 77. If my loved one had been on Flight 77, I would move heaven and earth to get those videos released so we can see what really happened in real time. America deserves the truth and releasing those videos will give us the truth about what hit the Pentagon.

Web sites on 9-11

There are dozens of them and I have spent conservatively, probably more than 100 hours painstakingly going through them, link by link, section by section. Some are so silly or scream such bigotry, it makes me ill, but others are extremely credible. I'm providing a few links below for anyone interested in looking at what is causing so many people to question the official story about 9-11. It will be up to the reader/viewer of these sites to decide if the photographs and videos mean nothing or do they raise more questions that need answers.

1 Research Link
2 Research Link
3 Research Link
4 Research Link
5 Research Link
6 Research Link

In closing, I hope Americans who seek the truth and want all this speculation to end, begin demanding: Mr. Ashcroft - Release all the videos of the attack on the Pentagon! Let's make this outcry so loud and persistent that it brings this issue at least to cable news networks and open a reasonable dialogue. The longer Ashcroft refuses to release all the confiscated videos of what hit the Pentagon, the more the American people will become convinced that there is a conspiracy to cover up the truth and it isn't going to sit well - especially regarding the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Ashcroft: Release all the videos of the attack on the Pentagon now!

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Who Paid the 9/11 Hijackers? Al-Hawsawi? Mahmoud Ahmad?
www.globalresearch.ca
by Peter Dale Scott
14 October 2004

As I reported in the summer of 2003, US and British newspapers briefly alleged that the paymaster for the 9/11 attacks was a well-known agent of the Pakistani intelligence service ISI, Mohammed Sheikh Saeed. There was even a brief period in which it was alleged that the money had been paid at the direction of the then ISI Chief, General Mahmoud Ahmad.[1]

The London Guardian reported on October 1, 2001, that US investigators believe they have found the "smoking gun" linking Osama bin Laden to the September 11 terrorist attacks, ... The man at the centre of the financial web is believed to be Sheikh Saeed, also known as Mustafa Mohamed Ahmad, who worked as a financial manager for Bin Laden when the Saudi exile was based in Sudan, and is still a trusted paymaster in Bin Laden's al-Qaida organisation.[2]

This story was corroborated by CNN on October 6, citing a "a senior-level U.S. government source" who noted that "Sheik Syed" had been liberated from an Indian prison as a result of an airplane hijacking in December 1999.

The man liberated in this way was Mohammed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a notorious kidnapper raised in England, and widely reported as a probable agent of ISI, the Pakistani military intelligence service.[3] One newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, suggested he may even have been a double agent, recruited inside al-Qaeda and ISI by the CIA.[4]

Subsequent newspaper stories reported on the undisputed relationship of Saeed to ISI, to FBI claims that he wired $100,000 to Atta's bank account,[5] to a CNN report that these funds came from Pakistan,[6] and the uncontested statement that "Mustafa Ahmed," having concluded his 9/11 financial business in Dubai, flew on September 11 to Pakistan.[7]

These alarming charges are ignored in the Report. The Appendices note, in a list of names, a "Sheikh Saeed al Masri" as an "Egyptian; head of al Qaeda finance committee."[8] But the only reference to any Sheikh Saeed in the text says that Sheikh Saeed al Masri "argued that al Qaeda should defer to the Taliban's wishes" and not attack the United States directly.[9]

Instead, following a previous reversal in the US media, the financial role attributed earlier to Sheikh Saeed is now given to "Mustafa al Hawsawi," the name (or pseudonym) used for the financial transactions. The Report treats Shaikh Saeed and al-Hawsawi as two people, whereas earlier they had been identified as the same.[10]

(Update, 10/11/04) The arrest of al-Hawsawi was reported in March 2003 in Rawalpindi, along with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. However as I wrote in Critical Asia Studies, the official report contained so many problems and convictions that a Guardian reporter commented, "The story appears to be almost entirely fictional" (Guardian, 3/6/03) Problems with the story were summarized by Paul Thompson at http://www.911review.org/Wget/   www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/main/essayksmcapture.html

In an even more bizarre development, http://www.terrorismcentral.com/Newsletters/2003/033003.html , reported in its Newsletter of 3/30/03 that "Mustafa al-Hisawai is on bail in Pakistan and will face charges with financing of al Qaida. He was arrested with al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."

Al-Hawsawi alias al-Hisawai is supposedly an Arab born in Jeddah, not a Pakistani. It is hard to imagine why the man once considered the "smoking gun" in the al Qaeda/ 9/11 case would be granted bail, when even minor foot-soldiers in al Qaeda have been whisked immediately to Guantanamo.

The alleged financing story is still unfolding, or unraveling.

[1] Peter Dale Scott, "The CIA's Secret Powers: Afghanistan, 9/11, and America's Most Dangerous Enemy." Critical Asian Studies, 35:2 (2003), 233-258.
[2] Cf. Griffin, 109-10. The investigators were later identified as the FBI (Wall Street Journal, 10/10/01, CNN, 10/28/01, Times [London], 11/16/01).
[3] E.g. Newsweek, 3/13/02: US officials suspect "that Sheikh has been a 'protected asset,' of Pakistan's shadowy spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI." The story was enhanced by Indian intelligence sources with a more sensational claim: that Saeed Sheikh had wired the money to Atta at the direction of Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmad, the director of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at the time (Wall Street Journal, 10/10/01). Indian sources later downplayed this anti-Pakistani allegation by suggesting that the money came instead from a ransom paid through a 'hawala' channel to another terrorist, Aftab Ansari in Dubai, when the Kolkata businessman was kidnapped in July 2001 (The Hindu, 2/13/02).
[4] Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/3/02: "There are many in Musharraf's government who believe that Saeed Sheikh's power comes not from the ISI, but from his connections with our own CIA. The theory is that with such intense pressure to locate bin Laden, Saeed Sheikh was bought and paid for." The twisted story of Saeed Sheikh in the US press has been documented by Paul Thompson in his excellent time-line of 9/11 events: http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/essay.jsp?article=saeedsheikh.
[5] London Sunday Times, 4/21.02; London Daily Telegraph, 7/16/02.
[6] CNN, 10/1/01: "As much as $100,000 was wired in the past year from Pakistan to Mohamed Atta." Subsequent developments lent weight to the Pakistani connection, such as the arrest of Atta's alleged controls, Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in Pakistan.
[7] Newsday, 10/3/01: "Mustafa Ahmad... left the emirates for Pakistan on the day of the attacks." Cf. New York Times, 10/15/01: "A man thought to be one of the financial chiefs for Mr. bin Laden, Shaykh Said... flew to Karachi, Pakistan."
[8] Report, 436.
[9] Report, 251.
[10] Cf. e.g. MSNBC, http://www.msnbc.com/modules/wtc/wtc_globaldragnet/sought_uae.htm : "Mustafa Ahmed al-Hasawi [sic] was named as a "supporting conspirator" in an Dec. 11 indictment of Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent who U.S. authorities say was "an active participant" in the Sept. 11 plot. The indictment alleged that al-Hasawi, a Saudi native, received more than $18,000 from three suspected hijackers in the days before the attack, then cleared out bank accounts he had control over in the United Arab Emirates and fled the country on Sept. 11. U.S. investigators suspect that al-Hasawi, whom the FBI originally identified as Mustafa Ahmed, was actually Shayk Saiid, a key figure in the financial side of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network. In documents sent to banks seeking to freeze terrorist assets, the government uses the names Ahmed and Saiid interchangeably."

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The Killer in the Victim's Role

Abdulwahab Badrakhan
Al-Hayat
2004/10/14

It is happening on a daily basis; as if the Israelis have a hunting season. It is so easy to imagine that the commanders are telling the soldiers not to come back without killing a substantial number of Palestinians, and not to hesitate in assassinating children in their schools and not to think twice about the "purity of arms" because they have been desecrated since the establishment of the Jewish State and not to be held back by any "morality" because the essence of that army was terrorist militias that operated before the Middle East knew terrorism in its current form.

The ruling gang in Israel, the army and the government, consider that itself and the Americans to be in the same position and that the battle against terrorism is one and the same in Gaza and Fallujah. The Americans are not hesitant to provide that gang with support, from the veto in the Security Council, which means nothing more than encouraging Israel to continue the killings, the destruction and detainment, to the televised presidential debates when the contrast between the candidates vanishes as soon as they start talking about the "fields of killings" where the Israelis flourish; all of them, Bush and Kerry, Cheney and Edwards, are with the killers against the victims.

We must see a distinction in Iraq even if it is still ambiguous and in the experimental stage. The occupation army has set up a government and wants it to rule the country, at least to lift some of the burdens off its shoulders. The occupation army also wants to see elections and a parliament even with some intervention on its part in the benefit of its supporters. It also wants to see an army and a police that would take responsibility for the security even if it led them to violate privacy and the Iraqi values, which are not those of the Baath or of Saddam. On the other hand, Sharon's gang is only satisfied with brutality and is only convinced if it was in power and does not see any necessity for elections in addition to not dealing with the Palestinian authority except as a hanger, on which the hat of "terrorism" could be hung.

What is happening today in Palestine is expected because the United States chose to unshackle the hands of Sharon's gang and did not listen to European and Arab calls to control the situation until the American elections are over. Yet, Israel, since the beginning of Bush's (first) term, hijacked the American sense of initiation; furthermore, it confined American policy in a tiny square that it turns as it pleases. One time it calls it "Arafat's failure" another time it presents it as a "necessity for reform" and it always places it in the context of the "war on terrorism". In this way, the Americans relieved themselves from any responsibility and conceive the only solution to be whatever Sharon and his gang sees fit, which is killing, killing and killing until the senior advisor of Sharon uttered the truth, which is that the real goal is to kill the "peace process" first and foremost.

Not one wise man in Washington thought that Israel's inclusion in the war on terrorism is harming that war. For it took away any morality from it and changed the course of its goals until capturing Osama bin Laden dead or alive became a synonym to getting rid of Arafat dead or alive. More importantly, the issue of "reform," which emerged from the debris of the war on terrorism was born with the condition of American indifference towards the crimes that the Israelis are committing in Palestine, perhaps true democracy requires them to applaud and bless them.

Finally, after the bombings in Taba, Israel tried to drag Egypt into "its war on terrorism" despite the fact that the bombings offered an opportunity to notice the difference between terrorism and "terrorism". Consequently, the importance of distinguishing between resistance to an occupation and terrorism, which targets tourists in hotels, should be noted. However, Sharon's gang deals with the terrorist attacks as a tool it could take advantage of in promoting its brutality against the people under occupation. It is for this reason that there is always doubt, even when most of the victims are Israelis, for no one believes it to be a victim as long as it rushes to sell the corpses of its victims in the auction market of the American elections.


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4 Arabs, Mossad linked to attempt on Meshaal
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Wednesday, October 13, 2004

BEIRUT: Four Arabs have been detained in Syria over a plot by Israel's Mossad spy agency to assassinate Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based politburo chief of Hamas, a Hamas official said Tuesday.

"We have been recently informed that four Arab members of an Arab security service from a country neighboring Syria, and who are collaborating with the Mossad, have been detained in Syria over the plot," said Ali Barakeh, head of Hamas' political relations affairs in Lebanon. "They include a woman."

Barakeh said he did not wish to name the third country, but said "they belong to the same country that has presented information to Israel about Hamas officials. It is very regretful that an Arab country is helping Israel instead of backing the Palestinians," he said.

A Hamas militant was killed Sept. 26 when his car blew up in Damascus in what Syria and the hard-line Palestinian movement said was an assassination by Mossad.

Syria's official media said the killing was carried out by Israel with the collaboration of "Arab security services." Officials in Jerusalem have privately confirmed to the Israeli media that the Jewish state was behind the car bombing.Israel has repeatedly threatened to strike Hamas militants at home and abroad, including Damascus, where a number of the movement's senior officials are based.

Israel says Hamas's strategic planning is now being almost totally conducted in Damascus, although a handful of autonomous cells still exist in the West Bank and Gaza.

Khaled Meshaal has emerged as overall Hamas leader after Israel assassinated two other top figures earlier this year.

On Sept. 25, 1997, Mossad agents bungled an attempt to assassinate Meshaal on a street in Amman by injecting him with poison.

Jordanian authorities deported Meshaal and four other Hamas leaders five years ago amid allegations of illegal activities.

Meshaal now divides his time among Syria, Lebanon and the Gulf countries, but he has rarely been seen in Damascus since the Hamas offices were closed amid U.S. pressure.

Meshaal turned up in Cairo last month.

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Nuclear Thefts Were Expert, Systematic, Diplomats Say 
From Associated Press

VIENNA — Missing nuclear-related equipment in Iraq was removed by experts working systematically over an extended period, diplomats said Thursday.

Their comments contradicted assertions from Baghdad that high-precision equipment removed from Iraq's nuclear facilities was stolen haphazardly immediately after the U.S. invasion last year.  
 
The diplomats, who are familiar with the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency, suggested that it was concerned that the equipment could be sold to so-called rogue governments or terrorist groups interested in making nuclear weapons.

In a letter Monday to the U.N. Security Council, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said satellite photos and follow-up investigations showed "widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement" at sites once related to Iraq's nuclear program.

Iraq's interim science and technology minister, Rashad Mandan Omar, said Tuesday that the missing equipment — which the IAEA says includes milling machines and electron beam welders — was taken in the looting spree that followed the U.S. invasion. The sites were quickly secured by coalition forces before they were turned over to Iraqi authorities in June, he said.

But one of the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, "Our assumption is that this had to have been an organized effort by professionals who had to have had heavy lifting equipment and big trucks." He said the operation to take the equipment and materials probably began after May 2003 and ended sometime this year.

Although some industrial material that Iraq sent overseas has been located, ElBaradei said in his letter that no high-precision items, which can be used both commercially and for nuclear weapons, have been found.

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Iraq's mysterious suicide bombers
OCT 16, 2004 SAT

BAGHDAD - A few Iraqis have spotted them speeding towards death before they disintegrate in a bloody fireball, but little is known of Iraq's suicide bombers except that the supply seems endless.

Suicide bombers are the biggest security nightmare in Iraq, terrorising the streets up to three times a week with huge blasts that have killed more than 1,000 people.

In the first such attack inside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, two Jordanians carrying bags on Thursday calmly ordered tea at a cafe minutes before explosions there and at a nearby bazaar killed at least five people, a waiter said after surviving one of the blasts.

'Two people came in. They had two handbags,' said Mr Abdul Razak Mohammed, a waiter at the so-called Green Zone Cafe, one of two places frequented by foreigners and targeted in the attacks.

Mr Mohammed said one man ordered tea. When he was asked by another cafe employee if they were Iraqis, the man answered: 'No, we are Jordanians.'

He described the men as being in their mid-20s. He said that five minutes after one of the men got up and left, an explosion took place at the bazaar.

The US military said the cafe bomb went off five minutes after the blast at the bazaar.

But Iraq's interim government, struggling to stabilise the country before elections planned for January, still has few clues as to who such suicide bombers actually are.

'Either they are foreigners so you don't hear anything about them or they are Iraqis and their families just keep quiet out of fear of being arrested,' said Mr Ghassan Al-Attiyah, executive director of the Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy.

Whether they are foreign militants inspired by Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda or Iraqis swept up in anti-US fury after the occupation, suicide bombers show no sign of letting up.

Their gory ritual is simple, and impossible to prevent.

They just pack any car or truck with explosives, drive towards a building or a crowd and blow up the vehicle, scattering flesh in every direction.

A few strapped explosives to their bodies.

Iraq's US-backed interim government has blamed mostly foreign fighters for suicide missions. But the authorities have never delivered on promises to televise the scores of foreign fighters they say have been captured.

Before the Green Zone Cafe bombing, the only hard evidence has come from a video distributed by followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

Militants from countries including Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Jordan and Syria were filmed making pronouncements in the video just before their suicide bombing of 'infidels'.

Traumatised Iraqis often express disbelief that their countrymen would do such a thing. They always say the bomber must be an outsider, probably someone inspired by Saudi Arabia's hardline Wahhabi sect of Islam.

It is a murky picture in Iraq, unlike in Palestinian areas where suicide bombers are hailed as 'martyrs' by their families.

Suicide bombings were unknown under toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The suicide carnage began 14 months ago and now all Iraqis know the bombers can strike any time.

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Platoon defies orders in Iraq
By Jeremy Hudson
October 15, 2004

A 17-member Army Reserve platoon with troops from Jackson and around the Southeast deployed to Iraq is under arrest for refusing a "suicide mission" to deliver fuel, the troops' relatives said Thursday.

The soldiers refused an order on Wednesday to go to Taji, Iraq — north of Baghdad — because their vehicles were considered "deadlined" or extremely unsafe, said Patricia McCook of Jackson, wife of Sgt. Larry O. McCook.

Sgt. McCook, a deputy at the Hinds County Detention Center, and the 16 other members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company from Rock Hill, S.C., were read their rights and moved from the military barracks into tents, Patricia McCook said her husband told her during a panicked phone call about 5 a.m. Thursday.

The platoon could be charged with the willful disobeying of orders, punishable by dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and up to five years confinement, said military law expert Mark Stevens, an associate professor of justice studies at Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, N.C.

No military officials were able to confirm or deny the detainment of the platoon Thursday.

But today, Sgt. Salju Thomas of the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad issued a statement saying that an investigation has begun.

"The Commander General of the 13 Corps Support Group has appointed a deputy commander to lead an investigation into allegations that members of the 343 Quartermaster Company refused to participate in theri assigned convoy mission on Oct. 13," Thomas' statement said.

The investigation team is currently in Tallil taking statements and interviewing those involved, Thomas said in the statement.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson said he plans to submit a congressional inquiry today on behalf of the Mississippi soldiers to launch an investigation into whether they are being treated improperly.

"I would not want any member of the military to be put in a dangerous situation ill-equipped," said Thompson, who was contacted by families. "I have had similar complaints from military families about vehicles that weren't armor-plated, or bullet-proof vests that are outdated. It concerns me because we made over $150 billion in funds available to equip our forces in Iraq.

"President Bush takes the position that the troops are well-armed, but if this situation is true, it calls into question how honest he has been with the country," Thompson said.

The 343rd is a supply unit whose general mission is to deliver fuel and water. The unit includes three women and 14 men and those with ranking up to sergeant first class.

"I got a call from an officer in another unit early (Thursday) morning who told me that my husband and his platoon had been arrested on a bogus charge because they refused to go on a suicide mission," said Jackie Butler of Jackson, wife of Sgt. Michael Butler, a 24-year reservist. "When my husband refuses to follow an order, it has to be something major."

The platoon being held has troops from Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi and South Carolina, said Teresa Hill of Dothan, Ala., whose daughter Amber McClenny is among those being detained.

McClenny, 21, pleaded for help in a message left on her mother's answering machine early Thursday morning.

"They are holding us against our will," McClenny said. "We are now prisoners."

McClenny told her mother her unit tried to deliver fuel to another base in Iraq Wednesday, but was sent back because the fuel had been contaminated with water. The platoon returned to its base, where it was told to take the fuel to another base, McClenny told her mother.

The platoon is normally escorted by armed Humvees and helicopters, but did not have that support Wednesday, McClenny told her mother.

The convoy trucks the platoon was driving had experienced problems in the past and were not being properly maintained, Hill said her daughter told her.

The situation mirrors other tales of troops being sent on missions without proper equipment.

Aviation regiments have complained of being forced to fly dangerous missions over Iraq with outdated night-vision goggles and old missile-avoidance systems. Stories of troops' families purchasing body armor because the military didn't provide them with adequate equipment have been included in recent presidential debates.

Patricia McCook said her husband, a staff sergeant, understands well the severity of disobeying orders. But he did not feel comfortable taking his soldiers on another trip.

"He told me that three of the vehicles they were to use were deadlines ... not safe to go in a hotbed like that," Patricia McCook said.

Hill said the trucks her daughter's unit was driving could not top 40 mph.

"They knew there was a 99 percent chance they were going to get ambushed or fired at," Hill said her daughter told her. "They would have had no way to fight back."

Kathy Harris of Vicksburg is the mother of Aaron Gordon, 20, who is among those being detained. Her primary concern is that she has been told the soldiers have not been provided access to a judge advocate general.

Stevens said if the soldiers are being confined, law requires them to have a hearing before a magistrate within seven days.

Harris said conditions for the platoon have been difficult of late. Her son e-mailed her earlier this week to ask what the penalty would be if he became physical with a commanding officer, she said.

But Nadine Stratford of Rock Hill, S.C., said her godson Colin Durham, 20, has been happy with his time in Iraq. She has not heard from him since the platoon was detained.

"When I talked to him about a month ago, he was fine," Stratford said. "He said it was like being at home."

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Oregon Police Fire on Crowd of Protesters
Posted on Fri, Oct. 15, 2004
JEFF BARNARD
Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. - Police in riot gear fired pepperballs Thursday night to disperse a crowd of protesters assembled in this historic gold mining town where President Bush was spending the night after a campaign appearance.

Witnesses said Bush supporters were on one side of California Street chanting "Four more years," and supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry were on the other chanting "Three more weeks." Police began moving the crowd away from the Jacksonville Inn, where the president was to arrive for dinner and to spend the night following a speech.

"We were here to protest Bush and show our support for Kerry," said Cerridewen Bunten, 24, a college student and retail clerk. "Nobody was being violent. We were out of the streets so cars could go by. We were being loud, but I never knew that was against the law."
Bunten said she was pushed by police as she held her 6-year-old daughter.

Jeff Treadwell, 37, an auto mechanic from Medford who joined the protesters, estimated about 500 people were assembled, counting both Bush and Kerry supporters.

Jacksonville City Administrator Paul Wyntergreen said the protest was peaceful until a few people started pushing police. Police reacted by firing pepperballs, which he described as projectiles like a paintball filled with cayenne pepper. Two people were arrested for failing to disperse. There were no reports of injuries.

Protester Richard Swaney, 65, of Central Point, said he was walking with the crowd away from the inn when he was hit in the back with three separate bursts, one of which knocked him down.

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Large parts of Sydney without power overnight in blackout
Thursday October 14, 7:41 AM

Large parts of Sydney were left without power for a night after a substation overheated in an unseasonal heatwave, the electricity supply firm said.

Power was restored early Thursday to the roughly 22,000 homes and businesses affected, Energy Australia spokeswoman Sandy Olsen said.

The blackout began late Wednesday on a searingly hot day when temperatures reached 38.2 degrees Celsius. Company officials said they did not believe the substation failure was directly related to the heat, although it came hours after a fire at an underground transformer of a separate substation in Sydney.

Olsen said power was restored around 4:30 a.m. (1830 GMT Wednesday).

The unusually hot weather in the southern spring has also raised fears of a new wave of bushfires. Dozens of fires have broken out across Australia's densely populated eastern states in the last few days and a fire ban has been imposed in the northeastern state of Queensland.

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Earthquake rumbles area towns
By Chris Cassidy
Friday, October 15, 2004

A minor earthquake and two aftershocks rattled Littleton and shook houses as far away as Maynard and Harvard Thursday night last week, scientists reported. At 10:23 p.m., the small tremor struck 2.2 miles southeast of Littleton Common and registered 1.8 on the Richter scale, according to Boston College's Weston Observatory. Two aftershocks were recorded shortly afterward: one at approximately 11:21 p.m., and the second at 8:38 a.m. on Friday.

The quake, which could also be felt in Acton, Bolton, Boxborough, Harvard, Maynard and Stow triggered a flurry of phone calls to the police dispatch centers from residents reporting that they had heard a loud explosion. Some complained that their houses were shaking.

The United States Geological Survey recorded 86 reports from residents and measured the quake a three on an intensity scale where 10 is the highest. No damage or injuries were reported, according to John Ebel, the director of the Weston Observatory and a BC professor of geophysics.

"It's just basically a small bump with a shake that lasts two, three, four or five seconds at the very most," Ebel said. "People close to the epicenter would probably hear a boom and may have even mistaken it for a sonic boom or an explosion going on underground."

New England averages about a half-dozen small tremors a year, and the area around Harvard and Bolton has experienced similar rumbles in the past. In June of 2000, a small quake measuring 1.4 on the Richter scale rumbled through Littleton, and in October of 1999, a 2.6 tremor struck Boxborough.

And Massachusetts has seen its share of damaging earthquakes, as well. In 1755, a powerful quake registering 6.0 on the Richter scale shook Boston and destroyed chimneys.

Thursday's tremors paled in comparison to the larger ones experienced on the West Coast. The earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906 registered 7.8, while the 1994 quake in Northridge, Calif. measured 6.7.

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15 years after Loma Prieta: Are we safer?
By Glennda Chui
Mercury News
Posted on Fri, Oct. 15, 2004

Fifteen years after the Loma Prieta earthquake stunned the Bay Area, a rocky economy and the drive to prevent terrorist attacks are hurting our ability to get ready for the Big One.

Federal funding to reduce the damage from future quakes is roughly half of what it was a few years ago. The state Seismic Safety Commission, which offers independent, expert advice, is marked for elimination as part of a massive restructuring of state government.
As people grow complacent -- and perhaps less able or willing to pay -- the proportion of California homes insured against earthquake damage has fallen by half, from 30 percent to 15 percent.

"All around we're in worse shape. We have lots more people living here, lots more people at risk. And we have all these things that are undone, or halfway done, or just beginning to be done,'' said Susan Tubbesing, executive director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute in Oakland. "That's not to say we haven't learned a great deal. But some of the things we learned underscore that the risk is greater than we thought it was.''

The potential damage from a major Bay Area quake is staggering. The Association of Bay Area Governments estimates that 155,000 families would be left homeless and more than 1,700 roads would close. Other projections say hundreds would die, with thousands of seriously injured people swamping hospitals that may also have severe damage. Economic losses could rival the $150 billion seen in the 1995 Kobe quake in Japan.

The Oct. 17, 1989, Loma Prieta quake, a magnitude 6.9 that struck far from urban centers in the Santa Cruz Mountains, killed 63 people and did $6 billion in damage. Yet some of the wreckage still isn't fixed: Work continues on the Central Freeway in San Francisco, and dozens of broken buildings in the city's South of Market district were never mended.

Potential dangers

Not only has the Bay Bridge retrofit been held up by political squabbling and unexpectedly high costs, but it turns out that BART's Transbay Tube needs a retrofit, too. Measures on the November ballot in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties would raise nearly $1 billion for the work.

And while about two-thirds of the state's 25,500 unreinforced masonry buildings have been adequately strengthened, little has been done to address other known killers. They include multi-story apartments with parking on the ground floor -- the same type of "soft story'' buildings that collapsed and killed 16 people in the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Southern California.

A survey last year showed that more than one out of 10 apartment units in Santa Clara County, occupied by nearly 83,000 people, fall into this category.

While San Jose has a program to help apartment owners reinforce their buildings by providing some basic designs and cost estimates, it is voluntary and almost no one has taken advantage of it.

"There's just tons of these left all over California that haven't been strengthened. That's probably going to be a big mess,'' Tubbesing said.

Schools are still vulnerable despite the protection of the Field Act, which requires that they be built to higher standards than other structures. A 2002 survey by the state architect's office found that 7,500 school buildings -- 14 percent of the total -- are of a potentially hazardous type of construction, and should be inspected by engineers to see if they need strengthening.

Water supply risks

In 2002, San Francisco voters approved $1.6 billion in bonds to help repair and retrofit the aging Hetch Hetchy system, which supplies water to much of the Bay Area. But the repairs will take 13 years. And the old, fragile levees of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are vulnerable to damage in a major earthquake. Their failure would jeopardize the water supply to two-thirds of the state.

"The reality is, the vast majority of single-family homes are going to come through an earthquake in a habitable state, but we may be without water for a considerable period of time,'' said John D. Osteraas, principal engineer for Exponent Failure Analysis Associates in Menlo Park.

Funding for the state's network of seismometers is barely enough to maintain it, not enough to expand. Many of these machines are old and cannot communicate with researchers immediately via radio or satellite links. That means they can't be used to generate instant maps of shaking that are used to guide emergency crews to the hardest-hit areas.

The recent San Simeon and Parkfield quakes exposed gaps in the coverage of the more modern and useful seismic instruments. There are not nearly enough of them in central California, San Diego and Santa Barbara, among other places, and it would take about four times as many to blanket the state completely.

There are bright spots, however. And we have Loma Prieta to thank for some of the advances that made us better prepared.

The quake helped spur formation of a national network of urban search-and-rescue teams, each of which can send 70 people to the scene of a natural disaster or terrorist attack to pull people out of buildings. Thanks to a recent influx of homeland security money, those teams are in better shape than ever, with more funds for equipment and training, said Harold Schapelhouman, a division chief for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and leader of one of two Bay Area teams. Three more teams were added, bringing the total to 28 nationwide.

State and county disaster officials now have a quake-hardened system for communicating with each other via satellite, no matter how bad the damage.

"We couldn't do that in 1989,'' said Richard Eisner, regional manager for the state Office of Emergency Services. "So these events tend to push us forward.''

Each major quake in California has led to significant improvements in building codes and infrastructure, Eisner said. The 1971 San Fernando quake, which collapsed a modern hospital, led to tougher standards for hospitals and freeways.

And Loma Prieta, in which 42 people died in the collapse of an Oakland freeway viaduct, led to a massive statewide effort to reinforce freeways.

'Better prepared now'

In general, "I would say we are much better prepared now than we were 20 years ago. There is no doubt about that,'' said Guna Selvaduray, executive director of the Collaborative for Disaster Mitigation at San Jose State University.

"What I'm constantly trying to do is to let people know we don't have to take a completely fatalistic attitude. We can do a lot to reduce our risk,'' Selvaduray said. "People are always talking about where the casualties come from. They never talk about where they could have come from but didn't''-- because someone took steps to reduce the danger beforehand.

Bay Area counties and cities are putting together a regional plan to head off damage from all sorts of disasters, from wildfires to flooding and earthquakes.

As part of that effort, they will be updating the inventory of the region's dangerous structures, from older brick buildings to commercial buildings with prefabricated concrete walls that are tilted into place, and developing lists of what needs to be done.

A new Web site gives people access to more hazard maps than ever before, including a new set that shows areas vulnerable to wildfires, said Jeanne Perkins, earthquake and hazards programs manager for ABAG. And the plan spells out how much land in each city and county is exposed to natural hazards. It shows, for instance, that 78 percent of the urban land in Santa Clara County is subject to strong shaking from earthquakes.

"As we know from Loma Prieta, earthquakes know no boundaries,'' said Frances Edwards, director of emergency preparedness for the city of San Jose. "The more we can know about our communities ahead of time and know the limitations our neighbors may be facing, the better we can prepare. We're hoping some of this information will get people thinking: What does this mean for my life?''

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Dreaded 'frankenfish' found in Great Lake
Oct. 15, 2004. 02:13 PMs

CHICAGO (AP) — A fish known for its voracious appetite and ability to wreak havoc on freshwater ecosystems has been found in Chicago's Burnham Harbor, alarming state biologists.

An angler caught the 45-centimetre fish last weekend and thought it looked peculiar, so he posted a picture of it on the Internet. Scientists recognized it as a northern snakehead, a native of China, Korea and Russia.

Officials said Thursday they would scan the harbour near Lake Michigan with electronic equipment to verify whether other northern snakeheads are present. If so, they are concerned the fish could multiply and gobble up native fish.

"I'm hoping this is just a random fish dumped out of an aquarium by somebody who didn't know what to do with it," said Tom Trudeau, head of the Lake Michigan fisheries program at the state Department of Natural Resources. "The fear is seeing their young in the lake. If that happens, we're in trouble."

The northern snakehead can grow to a metre in length and has large teeth and a voracious appetite for other fish. It is usually imported for food or aquariums.

Scientists call it a "frankenfish" for its ability to survive in oxygen-depleted water, move over land from one pond to another, and devour other fish.

Chicago imposed a ban on northern snakeheads two years ago after an angler discovered one in Maryland. The fish have also been spotted in Philadelphia and Wisconsin.

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Job seeker's resumé really bombs
Last Updated Fri, 15 Oct 2004 12:24:42 EDT

MONTREAL - A job hunter who hoped his resumé would land him an interview was instead taken in for questioning by Montreal's bomb squad.

The 24-year-old man was arrested and charged with public mischief after he submitted his resumé in a ticking package left in a marketing firm's washroom last month, the Montreal Gazette reported.

It was his way of drawing attention to his application, one among 400 sent in by applicants competing for six paid internships at Cossette Communication Group.

On Sept. 15, police said, he handed the receptionist an Arabic newspaper and a note alerting her to the ticking parcel in the men's washroom.

Police evacuated the company's downtown offices and the neighbouring Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

The package contained a metronome – a device musicians use to help them maintain rhythm and tempo – along with the man's resume.

Internship manager Ghislaine Fallu said candidates were encouraged to be creative, not criminal.

"In the application we say, 'Send us your CV, include a letter of intent and explain your motives to us in an original manner,'" Fallu said. "But we don't usually expect crazy things like what happened this year."

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Ottawa moves to expand DNA databank
Last Updated Fri, 15 Oct 2004 21:53:21 EDT

OTTAWA - The federal government passed legislation Friday that will authorize judges to order people convicted of child pornography to submit DNA samples.

"This legislation would make it possible for more DNA samples to be collected from more convicted offenders," said Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Irwin Cotler.

The current national DNA databank holds samples from people who have been convicted of serious crimes.

If the legislation becomes law, DNA from people convicted of 28 other Criminal Code offences will also be included in the databank.

The list would include Internet luring; child pornography; sexual exploitation of a person with a disability; and offences related to prostitution involving persons under 18.

Judges would also be able to ask for DNA samples from people convicted of criminal harassment; offences related to organized crime; uttering death threats; and intimidation.

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Earthquake rattles, but only a little
By Dan Shapley
Poughkeepsie Journal
Saturday, October 16, 2004

CORNWALL -- A magnitude 2.7 earthquake in the Hudson Highlands was felt as far away as Beacon early Thursday morning.

The epicenter of the earthquake was nearly four miles southwest of Cornwall. Reports of minor shaking also came from Cold Spring and Highland Mills, the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center said. {...]

This region is riddled with faults from hundreds of millions of years of geologic activity, so it's hard to pinpoint which fault caused this earthquake, Kim said.

Because the eastern United States lies at the center of a vast tectonic plate stretching from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to North America's West Coast, earthquakes here are much less severe than those in California, where two plates collide.

Thursday's earthquake was little noticed or talked about at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said Maj. Kent Cassella, spokesman for the academy. The academy is about three miles from the earthquake's epicenter.

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