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The "Days of Penitence": Gaza Sinks in a Sea of Blood

Mohammed Omer writing from occupied Gaza
18 October 2004

Palestinians pick up body parts in Jabaliya Refugee Camp, Gaza, during "Operation Days of Penitence". (Photo: PCHR)

It smells unbelievably bad here. To walk down any street, if you dare to, you skirt, or sometimes unavoidably walk through, pools of blood. There are shreds of human flesh, some of them unrecognizable as human remains -- all over, on rooftops, plastered to broken windows, on the street. The stench of rotting blood mixes with the more acrid odor of flesh burnt to black char by the rockets fired by the Israeli Army's American-made Apache helicopters.

The sky is full of black smoke, some from the rocket explosions, but even more, it sometimes seems, from the endless fires of tires and other debris that people keep stoking. The smoke confuses the heat-seeking unmanned drone surveillance planes, so setting fires in any relatively open area may draw fire and let a bomb explode somewhat harmlessly.

All this smoke mixed with plaster and cement dust is a blessing and a curse. The stench of burning flesh and rotting blood masks to some extent the smell of raw sewage from broken sewer pipes and the tens of thousands of bodies unwashed for over a week now. Water to drink is a rare and precious commodity here, baths and showers have become impossible luxuries.

Your eyes inevitably tear up from all the smoke but then, that protects you a tiny bit from some of the more harrowing sights, recognizable body parts, a piece of a leg, an obvious part of a torso, and fingers -- more scattered, individual, recognizable fingers than anyone should ever have to see.

Volunteer crews are gathering these human fragments and bringing them to Jabalya's two hospitals but the ambulances cannot possibly keep up with the flood of newly dead and injured.

Funeral processions are everywhere, and "houses of mourning" the tents bereaved families set up in which to receive their families and friends. In fact, though, every house here, those relatively intact and those partly or wholly destroyed by the IDF tanks and bulldozers, is a house of mourning.

Grief in Jabaliya Refugee Camp, Gaza, during "Operation Days of Penitence". (Photo: PCHR)

And nothing protects you from the sounds, the tears and laments of the mothers and fathers, husbands, wives and children of the dead, the screams of the injured, the wail of ambulance sirens, sniper fire, the thud of tank shells and the too-frequent explosions as another Apache shell lands.

Time is distorted here, hours feel like days, days like weeks or months. This is Jabalya Refugee Camp in the Northern Gaza Strip, one of the most crowded places on earth where 106,000 men, women, and children, the overwhelming majority of them unarmed civilians, have been under an all-out attack for over a week now.

Israel's official position is that this carnage is a "response" to Palestinian militants' firing a homemade Qassam rocket into the Israeli town of Sderot last week, a rocket which killed two children. In fact, though, the first tanks rumbled into Jabalya some hours before the rocket attack on Sderot, and we had all been watching with alarm as the Israeli forces multiplied in northern Gaza over the last few weeks, 2000 fresh troops, over a hundred more tanks and bulldozers.

It is only when I sit down to write up my notes made here in the last few days that the cruelty of the IDF name for this attack "Days of Penitence" hits me. They are not just slaughtering unarmed civilians, but language itself. "Penitence," as I understand it, is voluntary remorse for wrongdoing. Is this massacre supposed to induce remorse in its victims? Are they supposed to mourn the deaths of four or five Israeli soldiers, and two Israeli children and accept the death of more than 60 Palestinian civilians as some kind of justice? To those of us trapped in Jabalya, it seems like Days of Revenge. It is unquestionably collective punishment, and illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

Perhaps we should not be surprised. Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has announced this attack will last "as long as necessary," that is, until there is "no further danger" from the Palestinian resistance's homemade rockets. Sharon, of course, engineered the massacres of Sabra and Shatila over twenty years ago. Now, he is doing much the same, but with vastly improved weaponry.

Of course, the militant factions exist, and have been striking here and there during this last week but they are vastly outnumbered, not to mention out-gunned, by the Israelis. Hamas, on its side, has distributed leaflets in Gaza City vowing to continue the rocket attacks on the illegal Israeli settlements in Gaza and any Israeli towns and cities their home-made ordnance can reach as long as the Israeli incursions continue.

International protests have been muted, and stymied by United States support for Israel. The lone, feeble voice from the US State Department urged Israel to keep its "response" "proportional"~after, of course, the obligatory mantra, "Israel has a right to defend itself." A strongly worded resolution condemning the attack brought before the UN at the beginning of the week was defeated by the US veto.

It is hard to maintain accurate casualty figures, the most recent count seems to be 80 Palestinians killed (20 of them militants claimed by Hamas) and over 200 injured. Unquestionably, by the time this is printed, the figures will be higher.

There is no refuge anywhere in Jabalya. The hospitals are chaotic, supplies are short and all medical personnel have been working around the clock for days now.

I saw Abu Nedal, the father of Nedal Al Madhown a 14 year-old boy, struggle to maintain his composure as he asked the exhausted doctors and ambulance drivers, "Was my son killed? Has he been killed?" (In fact, the boy was dead on arrival..) The majority of the dead and injured have been teens and children, obvious non-combatants.

I interviewed Dr. Mahmoud Al Asali, the director of Kamal Adwan Hospital, who told me he was forced to assume the Israeli Army has been deliberately targeting civilians. He said most of those injured by gunfire were wounded in the upper parts of their bodies, indicating the Israeli sharpshooters must have orders to shoot to kill. Palestinian doctors have removed many flechettes from the dead and injured, indicating the IDF are using illegal fragmentation bombs. These release razor sharp flechettes as they explode. Dr. Al Asali says these illegal fragmentation devices greatly increase the number of deaths and the number and severity of injuries. The IDF has refused to comment on this.

A Palestinian man picks up body parts in Jabaliya Refugee Camp, Gaza, during "Operation Days of Penitence". (Photo: PCHR)

The hospital staffs and ambulance crews are so overextended that they are using volunteers for the gruesome task of collecting, sorting, and attempting to match scattered human remains to return as much as possible to bereaved families. One of these medical workers, Ahmed Abu Saall 26, from Kamal Aswan Hospital, told me, "One enormous difficulty we face is that these powerful bombs can scatter the parts of a single victim over a wide area. It is quite possible parts of a person could end up in Al Awda hospital in the east of the camp, while other parts of the same person end up with us here on the western side." Sometimes shreds of clothing can help with the matching.

The Israeli Army has frequently shot at the medical teams and journalists. So far, two ambulance drivers have been injured, and a cameraman from Ramatan News Agency has been hurt. Of course, the ambulance crews and press all wear identifying gear.

Israel has closed all borders into Gaza and has severely restricted all movement within the Gaza Strip. There are three major "zones" split off by sealed military checkpoints, but recent days have seen numerous new checkpoints, and roads closed by cement block and sand obstructions. People cannot move between cities, not even ambulances bringing patients to hospitals. Moreover, the main Israel-Gaza crossing is closed, even to international NGOs, humanitarian relief groups, and foreign journalists.

Intense as the military attack has been, and continues to be, it is certainly not the only danger to the people here. Many families now have been without food and water for days. In Tal Al Zattar, the eastern part of Jabalya, I interviewed Umm Ramzi, an elderly lady who spoke to me through the gaping hole a tank shell had left in her house. "We have been appealing to the Red Cross, to save our lives and the lives of our children, but nobody has responded."

Most of the NGO workers and relief organizations have logically enough assumed they cannot get through the Israeli military lines that completely surround Jabalya, although they are well aware that the civilians need help. I managed to reach the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), spokesman Simon Schorno by phone and he told me: "I'm in my way to Gaza now. We have been talking to the IDF to get permission to bring food and water, but we were not able to get an OK for complete food distribution".

Concerning the absence of the Red Cross in the past few days when many families were in urgent need, Mr. Schorno said, "I feel terrible. We are trying to do our best to get food and water inside, but the damaged streets also delay us from reaching the people."

A number of eyewitnesses among the camp residents told me the Israeli Army has commandeered several high buildings as sniper posts and basically shoot anything that moves. One of the most recent victims was Islam Dweidar, 14, who took a chance during an apparent lull in firing to buy bread for her mother. However, she was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.

In the Southern part of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Army has increased the number of tanks and bulldozers in all parts of Khan Younis and Rafah. There has been shelling every night, with many injured and killed. This morning, I spoke by phone to Dr. Ali Mussa, director of Abu Yousif Al Najjar Hospital in Rafah who announced that 13-year-old Eman al Hums had been killed by Israeli sniper fire. He said, "the child arrived at the hospital after being riddled by twenty bullets in different parts of her body, five of them in her head."

Palestinian eyewitnesses reported that Al Hums was killed while on her way to school with two other schoolgirls. In early media reports, the IDF said she was planting a bomb; they later were forced to admit the accusation was false.

These current attacks are now far worse than the so-called "Operation Rainbow" of last May, which killed 40 in Rafah and prompted an international outcry. Now, the silence from America, in particular, seems to condone this turning the Gaza Strip into a killing field. Sharon has picked his moment well, when America is preoccupied with its presidential campaign and its invasion of Iraq, to decimate the children of Gaza. How many more must die before the world speaks out?

Comment: While many are unaware of it, the continued butchering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza is of extreme relevance to every American. The simple fact is that Sharon and the IDF would be unable to carry out their murderous acts if the US government did not fully and openly sanction them. This fact gives us an important insight into the value that members of the Bush administration, and many of the elected officials in the US that support US policy in the Middle East, place on human life in general.

US politicians are as removed from the daily lives and cares of American citizens as they are from the lives of Palestinians, despite the facade of a caring responsible democracy. To those that occupy the upper echelons of power, all inhabitants of this planet are seen as little more than cattle, to be used and manipulated as needed. It is for this reason then that American citizens should be extremely wary of the intentions of their government towards them. History shows us that successive US governments were only too willing to deliberately deceive and even murder members of the US population in order to further their own goals.

At this point in our history, we are clearly witnessing the outplaying of a global agenda by various members of the "elite", and the stakes appear to be very high indeed. Yesterday we provided evidence of the research being conducted by government scientists into a new breed of genetically specific Bio weapons. All of our readers should take time to reflect on that story and the topic in general and ponder the reasons why governments might be interested in ways to kill millions under the guise of the Flu or other common virus.

In the final analysis, are any of us able to state categorically that there is anything "they" would not do if it served their goals in some way, however warped those goals might be from our perspective? After all, dead men, or billions of dead men women and children tell no tales.

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Video shows kidnapped aid worker

Tuesday, 19 October, 2004
A video of a senior charity worker who has been kidnapped in Baghdad has been broadcast on al-Jazeera TV station.

Margaret Hassan has dual Iraqi and British nationality and is married to an Iraqi.

She has lived in the country for 30 years and was abducted by an unnamed group on her way to work as head of Care International's work in Iraq.

Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned the kidnapping and said Mrs Hassan had spent years helping Iraqi people.

"I think it shows you the type of people we are up against, that they are prepared to kidnap somebody like this," he said.

Mrs Hassan, who was born in Dublin, was kidnapped at around 0730 (0430 GMT) on Tuesday.

In an interview with al-Jazeera her husband Tahseen Ali Hassan said his wife was abducted near the charity's office.

He said two cars had intercepted her, attacked the driver and taken the car to an unknown destination.

His wife had not received threats, and it was still not known who had taken her, he told the Arabic station.

Mrs Hassan looked distressed in the video and had her hands tied behind her back.

According to al-Jazeera an Iraqi armed group said it had captured Mrs Hassan, but did not identify itself or give demands. [...]

Pictures of Mrs Hassan's passport, credit and identity cards were also broadcast on television.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he was "very concerned" adding: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to her, her family and her colleagues".

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon described it as a "disturbing development" which "just demonstrates the depths to which these terrorists will go".

Care International is one of the largest independent global relief and development organisations in the world.

The charity operates in more than 72 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and eastern Europe.

In a statement about Mrs Hassan it said: "She has been providing humanitarian relief to the people of Iraq in a professional career spanning more than 25 years."

Fluent in Arabic

British journalist Robert Fisk got to know Mrs Hassan after readers of the Independent newspaper raised money for leukaemia medicines to be taken to Iraq in 1998.

In an interview with the Irish TV network RTE on Tuesday Mr Fisk said Mrs Hassan had done an "extraordinary job" of taking charge of distributing the drugs.

"She managed to browbeat the authorities, the UN and the Americans to get these medicines into Iraq. She is an extraordinarily energetic woman," he said.

Comment: Ok, enough is enough. This is getting ridiculous.

It is high time that the world wakes up and uses that one thing that in theory separates us from animals, our alleged capacity for logical critical thought. Does no one feel insulted that the US and Israeli governments really expect the world public to believe this kind of blatant horse hockey?

Why, in all reason, would Iraqi insurgents go around kidnapping and beheading aid workers who are attempting to bring essential food and services to the beleaguered and embattled Iraqi people in whose interest the insurgents are supposedly fighting? Does it make sense?

Is it logical to suggest that Iraqi freedom fighters are carrying out these acts? The kidnapping and murder of Western aid workers and indeed ANY Westerner in Iraq, even US soldiers, serves to further portray the Arab people as animals in the eyes of Western citizens. This is beyond doubt.

Now ask yourself, who benefits from this? Is it ordinary Arab Iraqi civilians who become the object of the fury of US soldiers? Is it ordinary Arab Palestinians, blown to pieces by Israeli tank shells? It is high time that we employed our supposed ability for critical thought to this subject.

If any harm comes to Margaret Hassan, those "who know" will know that it isn't the Iraqi's doing the kidnappings and beheadings. The only entities that could possibly gain from this kind of horror are Israel and the US because of the justification it gives to the so-called "war on terror" that those countries have so fervently promoted.

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Is the Kidnapping of CARE's Margaret Hassan a CIA-Mossad Op?
Kurt Nimmo
October 19, 2004

It makes absolutely no sense.

Margaret Hassan, director of the humanitarian group CARE International, who has joint British-Iraqi citizenship, was kidnapped yesterday morning in Iraq. Although nobody has claimed responsibility for abducting Ms. Hassan, the immediate assumption is she was grabbed by the Iraqi resistance or al-Zarqawi, the latter accused of all manner of barbarity, including beheading kidnap victims.

But why would the resistance kidnap somebody who has provided humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq for 25 years? Is it possible the Iraqi resistance wants to deny the Iraqi people humanitarian assistance?

Of course not.

In America, the corporate media answers the above question every day—the Iraqi resistance is fanatical, murderous, nothing more than a loose confederation of terrorists, criminals, Islamic madmen, demented sadists who blow up car bombs in crowded market squares and kill women and children, their own neighbors.

However, there is another possible explanation: the kidnapping of Margaret Hassan is part of a counterinsurgency operation devised to make the resistance look bad and thus turn world opinion against it.

Before you tell me to don my tinfoil hat, consider the following: as crack investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported in June, Mossad is busily at work in Iraq, primarily in the Kurdish areas of the country. A senior CIA official confirmed this, according to Hersh. In April, the Canadian National Post reported the existence of U.S. military special operations troops in civilian clothes, "illegally hunting down civilians and government figures, sabotaging civilian facilities and arming selected local thugs to execute reprisals, flouting the international laws of war," as Henry Michaels of WSWS characterized it. Michaels notes the following:

Citing intelligence sources, United Press International reported last week that the unsuccessful bombing operation to murder Saddam Hussein and his family and cabinet ministers on March 20 was preceded by intensive infiltration of CIA agents into Baghdad, the recruitment of Iraqi spies and the insertion of special operations troops into the capital. … The people of Najaf [as reported by the Financial Times on April 5] were introduced to their new government this week a virtually unknown opposition group that claims to represent all Iraqis, cruises around the streets on US special forces vehicles, and is doing its best to present itself as part of a spontaneous ‘intifada' against the Iraqi regime. … Members of the group, called the Iraqi Coalition for National Unity (ICNU), rarely stray from their US vehicles and special forces minders, grinning broadly for cameras from atop Humvees and raising their weapons in victory…. Co-ordination between ICNU and US ground forces in Najaf is tight, handled by special forces and CIA operatives. (My emphasis.)

Consider, as well, the appointment of John Negroponte as the Bush administration's ambassador to Iraq. Negroponte played a key role in Reagan's illegal contra war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. "Honduras became the main staging ground for attacks on Nicaragua by the right-wing contra army," writes Lance Selfa. "A huge increase in military aid turned Honduras into a virtual U.S. base. Meanwhile, the Honduran military used its power to suppress not only those in the country who opposed the contra war, but also virtually anyone who fought for human rights and workers' rights." (Note: CARE does not specifically bill itself as human rights group, but rather a "humanitarian organization fighting global poverty.") "Negroponte will be Washington's man in Baghdad just as he was Washington's man in Honduras," Selfa predicts, "organizing 'private contractors' and shadowy militias into death squads against 'insurgents.' Or directing the torture of suspects in Iraq's military prisons. Or turning the U.S. embassy into the biggest nest of spies in the region."

CIA covert operations have a long and sordid history, going back to the founding of the organization in the late 40s. On June 18, 1948, the National Security Council issued directive 10/2 authorizing "propaganda; economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberations [sic] groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world." (See U.S. Covert Actions and Counter-Insurgency Programs, posted on the GlobalSecurity web site.)

The CIA has conducted "thousands of operations over the years," writes John Stockwell, a former CIA agent, and "there have been about 3,000 major covert operations and over 10,000 minor operations… all designed to disrupt, destabilize, or modify the activities of other countries."

In addition to sabotage and "demolition," the CIA has a track record of killing innocents with suicide bombs. On March 8, 1985, 80 people were killed and 200 injured when a car bomb exploded in Beirut, Lebanon. "The bomb went off outside a block of flats and close to a mosque as worshippers were gathering for Friday night prayers in a densely populated Shia Muslim suburb … near the home of a leading fundamentalist Shia Muslim cleric, Sheikh Muhammad Husain Fadlallah," explains the BBC. Reagan and his CIA director, William J. Casey, according to the Washington Post, were responsible for planning and executing, along with the Saudis, the terrorist attack against Fadlallah.

More than a few of the kidnappings in Iraq appear to be CIA, military intelligence, or Mossad operations. For instance, when Simona Pari and Simona Torretta of the Italian humanitarian organization Bridge to Baghdad were kidnapped recently, witnesses described the kidnapping as "extremely professional" and said a well-dressed man wearing a suit and tie had led the operation, according to the Guardian. Of course, it is possible the Iraqi resistance, or a criminal gang interested in ransom, pulled off the kidnapping of Pari and Torretta, but the question remains: why are so many kidnappings directed against humanitarian organizations, obviously not the preferred target of a resistance determined to drive the United States out of Iraq? It simply does not make sense—unless the kidnappings and bombings are designed to foment chaos and portray the resistance as murderous nihilists and cold-blooded criminals.

Since it is obviously impossible for the United States to defeat the Iraqi resistance, it makes perfect sense for the CIA—possibly in alliance with other covert intelligence operations, for instance the documented Mossad operation in northern Iraq—to covertly engage in terrorism, which the White House and the corporate media subsequently blame on the resistance.

In fact, Mossad and other Israeli intelligence organizations have a well-documented history of doing precisely this sort of thing—from the Lavon Affair to funding Hamas and deceiving the United States into bombing Libya. The motto of Mossad is: "By way of deception thou shalt do war." According to former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky, Israel has supported radical fundamentalist Muslim groups for years (see previous link). Ostrovsky also claims Mossad "trained both sides in the bloody ongoing civil unrest in Sri Lanka: the Tamils and the Sinhalese, as well as the Indians who were sent in to restore order." Is it possible Mossad and the CIA are also responsible for the creation of the elusive super-terrorist al-Zarqawi and have planned and executed suicide, car bombings, and beheadings?

Finally, for those who harbor doubts the United States would organize, front, and unleash terrorist groups against innocent civilians, consider Operation Northwoods, a terrorist operation against Cuban civilians designed to be blamed on Castro, as proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962. "The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States," suggests the declassified memo sent to then Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara. "We could sink a boatload of Cubans enroute to Florida (real or simulated). We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States … Harassment of civil air, attacks on surface shipping … Hijacking attempts against civil air and surface craft." Luckily, for innocent Cubans, McNamara and Kennedy rejected Operation Northwoods, although they were hardly admirers or Cuba and Fidel Castro.

Is it possible Iraqis are not so lucky?

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How US fuelled myth of Zarqawi the mastermind
By Adrian Blomfield outside Fallujah
(Filed: 04/10/2004)
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader believed to be responsible for the abduction of Kenneth Bigley, is 'more myth than man', according to American military intelligence agents in Iraq.

Several sources said the importance of Zarqawi, blamed for many of the most spectacular acts of violence in Iraq, has been exaggerated by flawed intelligence and the Bush administration's desire to find "a villain" for the post-invasion mayhem.

US military intelligence agents in Iraq have revealed a series of botched and often tawdry dealings with unreliable sources who, in the words of one source, "told us what we wanted to hear".

"We were basically paying up to $10,000 a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq," the agent said.

"Back home this stuff was gratefully received and formed the basis of policy decisions. We needed a villain, someone identifiable for the public to latch on to, and we got one."

The sprawling US intelligence community is in a state of open political warfare amid conflicting pressures from election-year politics, military combat and intelligence analysis. The Bush administration has seized on Zarqawi as the principal leader of the insurgency, mastermind of the country's worst suicide bombings and the man behind the abduction of foreign hostages. He is held up as the most tangible link to Osama bin Laden and proof of the claim that the former Iraqi regime had links to al-Qa'eda.

However, fresh intelligence emerging from around Fallujah, the rebel-held city that is at the heart of the insurgency, suggests that, despite a high degree of fragmentation, the insurgency is led and dominated not by Arab foreigners but by members of Iraq's Sunni minority.

Human intelligence about Zaqawi is minimal

Pentagon estimates have put the number of foreign fighters in the region of 5,000. However, one agent said: "The overwhelming sense from the information we are now getting is that the number of foreign fighters does not exceed several hundred and is perhaps as low as 200. From the information we have gathered we have to conclude that Zarqawi is more myth than man. He isn't in the calibre of what many politicians want to believe he is.

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An Engineered Excuse for Killing Iraqis

Kurt Nimmo
October 17, 2004
It's now obvious: the United States will continue to use Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—dead, alive, or fictional—as a pretext to bomb Fallujah and punish its citizens for the crime of resisting Allawi's puppet government (called the "interim" government by the corporate press) and the U.S. occupation, even though a U.S. military intelligence report issued last week revealed that al-Zarqawi is not nor has he ever been in Fallujah.

"Fallujah residents have taken control of their own town, but the U.S. keeps saying that 'terrorists' have control of the town," writes Sam Hamod for Today's Alternative News. "And no less than the U.S. puppet, Allawi has demanded that the Fallujah leaders to hand over Zarqawi or the town will face major offensive. How would they turn over Al Zarqawi while they don't even know where he is? This is a double negative for the people, you can't prove that which is not true. But, this will give Allawi's cronies and the U.S. military to keep a foot in Fallujah and kill as many people as they wish."

Double negatives aside, Bush and Allawi are determined to punish Fallujah. "The town had been pounded nightly for three weeks, with the Americans insisting that those killed and maimed were insurgents mainly from Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group," writes Kim Sengupta for the Independent.

Repeated protests by doctors in local hospitals that the vast majority of the casualties are civilians have been dismissed as rebel propaganda. Now the town is waiting for an imminent ground and air assault, amid fears of a bloodbath. Among the dead in the al-Jabouri family were 26-year-old Atika, who was six months pregnant, her three-year-old son Omar, her husband Thamir, 28, her sister Athra and her mother. Atika's prematurely born baby lived for a few hours after her, but they were buried in the same grave.

The only member of the family to come out alive was Atika's five-year-old daughter, Ayisha. She was asleep, hugging her grandmother, who was killed instantly. Miraculously the little girl survived, but she was badly injured, burnt and lacerated by shrapnel and flying glass. Ahmed Fawzi, Ayisha's uncle, recalled: "I live nearby and ran over after hearing the explosions. There was nothing left. We had to bring out the bodies one by one." Ayisha, with injuries to her shoulder, arms, back and legs, was taken to a hospital in nearby Ramadi for treatment.

Mazin Younis, an Iraqi -born human rights activist from Manchester who visited Fallujah to investigate the damage, found that the overwhelming number of attacks have been on civilian targets, the Independent reports. "People in Fallujah say they are being punished," said Mr Younis. "Ordinary people are being killed. I had a meal in a kebab restaurant called Hajji Hussain. It was full of families. Two days later it was bombed by the Americans."

So what is the point of blowing up children? "The United States says the strikes are aimed at disrupting guerrilla bands planning car bombings and other attacks and have damaged the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group," reports the Chicago Tribune, even though the Pentagon's own investigators say al-Zarqawi is not in Fallujah.

But never mind. Here in America the complicit corporate media will continue to report Pentagon press releases verbatim and insist that the evil and omnipresent al-Zarqawi is in Fallujah. Curiously, for the Pentagon, a whole lot of Fallujahans, including three year old Omar al-Jabouri, look a lot like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

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What Ever Happened to Osama Bin Forgotten?

by Douglas Herman

What ever happened to Osama Bin Forgotten? Rarely do you hear the name Osama anymore. The talking heads of the media rarely question his whereabouts. The Long Island Light Brigade of Hannity & O'Reilly, the Fat Cracker Brigade of Limbaugh & Hastert; the Wailing Wall Brigade of Perle & Ledeen; the Frantic Fraulein Brigade of Coulter & Parker hardly seem bothered by his fugitive status.

Reportedly, our fugitive is a diabolical criminal who caused the death of 3000 Americans and drove our nation hastily into war with two countries but you would hardly know it by reading the papers. What-in-the-world ever happened to that evil genius, Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the World Trade Center attack? What ever happened to America 's Most Wanted criminal, the one with the $25 million dollar bounty--wait, make that $50 million dollar bounty, on his head?

Speaking of bounties, who collected that multi-million dollar bounty for the capture of Saddam Hussein? Curious how we've never heard anything about it. Maybe word has gotten out that America is a lying tightwad and what we really stand for are empty promises, a happy smile sticker pasted over a radioactive and ruined countryside. Happy hand grenades and have a nice day.

Osama Bin Forgotten, a name plastered on placards and signs along American highways by a guy known as the Freewayblogger, confronts the uncomfortable question: Where-the-hell is OBL? Now that Robert Stack, the resonant voice of the "Unsolved Mysteries" TV show, is dead, the conscience of a country seems to have grown equally mute.

What ever happened to Osama Bin Laden? Why no TV interviews with the elusive evildoer by intrepid reporters? What does Osama Bin Laden really want?--that was asked after 911--everyone wanted to know then. Now fewer and fewer appear to care, especially among the Neocons and their jesters.

Maybe, just maybe, OBL doesn't really exist. Think about it for awhile. In the cult classic movie, "The Usual Suspects," the powerful and satanic Keyser Soze doesn't really exist but we learn of his fictional existence as the curtain falls. Osama, according to our powerful intelligence agencies and the Neocons, is a satanic figure so powerful as to command a platoon of suicide bombers to carry out a flawless hijacking mission on the exact same day the Pentagon conducted NORAD maneuvers over the east coast. Not even Keyser Soze was that powerful.

Speaking of elaborate fictions, what ever happened to Operation Iraq Freedom? Forgive Iraqis for feeling a little less free, a little less grateful for a wrecked and occupied country, and a lot more hostile. Sure, the brutal dictator we provided with billions of dollars worth of weapons for a quarter century, bought and paid for by Iraqis (thus bankrupting the country), the weapons, by the way, we now so sanctimoniously condemn--has been captured, but how come we're still hanging around? Could it be we went to war because of all that other WMD--What Motorists Demand?

What ever happened to the Army National Guard? Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, a man not known to mince words, put it succinctly: the Guard should be here at home, guarding the nation. Period. The criminal abuse of the National Guard and the ready reserve, for an obscene occupation masquerading as liberation, will have long term, detrimental effects for this country, predict most knowledgeable observers. "Versailles on the Potomac does not care about the rest of the country in any respect, so long as the tax dollars keep coming in," wrote William Lind, in "Destroying The National Guard."

Speaking of destruction, what ever happened to all the brasshats, all those colonels, generals and CIA-employed operatives involved in the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal? Anybody hear? Probably nothing, certainly nothing more than a reprimand. Like nothing ever happened to those hotshot pilots, who swooped low and sliced the cable of that gondola carrying those Italian skiers, sending them all plunging to their death. Like nothing ever happened to that Navy submarine commander who rammed that Japanese fishing boat, sank it and drowned those students. Like nothing ever happened to the pilots who bombed the wedding parties in Iraq and Afghanistan and killed a bunch of innocent civilians.

What ever happened to a sense of justice in this country? Why all the concern for Laci Peterson and Jon Benet Ramsey but not for the millions of Iraq mothers who have their children dismembered by cluster bombs or poisoned by depleted uranium? What ever happened to a sense of Christianity in this country, not the smarmy love-thy-neighbor Christianity but the more difficult love-thy-enemy virtue that Jesus preached? Too tough for the telegenic Pharisees in their tailored suits, I believe.

What ever happened to civic virtue, an outraged sense of justice, a belief in truth and fairness? Maybe these virtues never really existed despite what we teach kids in school. For example, Colonel David Hackworth, who has mentored a few thousand kids in his day, warns of a draft but both Bush and Kerry denied emphatically, in a nationally televised debate, that they'll reinstate selective service. Kerry added--ominously--that he would add another 40,000 troops to the mix, which sounded like an escalation of the Iraq war. Shades of LBJ! What ever happened to an idealistic young Navy commander who returned from a war and called it for what it was--a debacle? Johnny, we hardly knew ye.

What ever happened to that infamous deck of cards? Sure, they were fun for awhile and even spun off a few parodies, but are there any evildoer aces still out there, any jokers or wild cards or one-eyed jacks? Anybody hear about any recent captures? Anything in the news about the trump card?

Osama (or someone playing the part), was once a CIA contract agent in our Cold War fight against the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan, but has become a double agent, a messianic killer lately, according to intelligence reports. Perhaps OBL--or the actor playing his part--is awaiting a dramatic capture a week before our elections. Imagine the millions of swing voters, twisting like creaky weathervanes, minds swept free of doubt, the vicious Keyser Soze captured and a triumphant Bush/Cheney assured of four more years.

But probably not. Like the mythic DB Cooper, Osama may have died long ago or be hiding somewhere in seclusion, close to death. The need for capture is beside the point. Even George W. Bush admitted as much. As long as the terror of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden--like Keyser Soze--can be conjured regularly, the populace can be subdued and controlled. And that is why we rarely hear much about Osama anymore.

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Bush and Kerry dance to the tune of Ariel Sharon

Simon Tisdall
The Guardian
Wednesday October 20, 2004

In the Middle East maelstrom, all parties acknowledge one fixed point: forceful US diplomatic engagement is essential if the central Israel-Palestine conflict is ever to be resolved.

But far from taking the lead over the past four years, the Bush administration has been mostly led by the nose. The man responsible for this extraordinary feat is Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

Mr Sharon was running a "war on terror" when George Bush was still running a baseball team in Texas. So not surprisingly, perhaps, it is Mr Bush who, since 9/11, has followed Mr Sharon's example rather than the other way round. In his many visits to the Bush White House, Mr Sharon has exerted telling influence on America's post-9/11 agenda. Knowing Mr Bush was bent on war in Iraq, he helpfully highlighted Saddam Hussein's links to terrorist groups and financial aid to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Now he eggs on the US in its confrontations with Israel's enemies, Iran and Syria.

It was Israel that, as far back as 1967, perfected the concept of pre-emptive war. It is Mr Sharon, not Mr Bush, who is the present master of the targeted assassination and mass detention without trial. It is Israeli military tactics that the US now apes in places like Falluja and Najaf.

Deeming him unreliable, Mr Sharon refused to deal with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat - and Mr Bush followed suit. His insistence on absolute security as a precondition for negotiations and his contemptuous dismissal of contrary UN and European views won support - and a broader, damaging emulation - in Washington.

Most of all, Mr Sharon's basic contention, that the homeland is under attack by ruthless forces bent on its utter destruction, has been adopted wholesale by Mr Bush and applied to the US itself. These politics of fear now form a central plank in his re-election platform.

Brent Scowcroft, the national security veteran, recently described Mr Bush as "mesmerised" by Israel's leader. And for the most part, it does indeed appear that Sharon policy is Bush policy, rather than vice versa.

Whether the issue is Israel's illegal security fence, unilateral disengagement from Gaza, expanding West Bank settlements, the fate of the moribund road map for peace, or US vetoes at the UN, Mr Sharon calls the shots. He has the world's only superpower dancing to his tune. Unless Mr Sharon loses office - a not impossible scenario given the rebellion in his Likud party over Gaza - this well-established dynamic is unlikely to change during a second Bush term.

Dismayingly for the Palestinians and others opposed to Mr Sharon's policies, it also seems unlikely that a John Kerry presidential victory would make any significant difference. Like Mr Bush, Mr Kerry in theory supports a viable Palestinian state. "The conflict will not be an afterthought but a priority," he has said.

But he also wants a new Palestinian leadership as a precondition for progress. He backs Mr Sharon's Gaza withdrawal plan, rejects the right of return, and says it is "unrealistic" to try to reinstate the 1949 armistice lines. These positions coupled with his strongly pro-Israel Senate record hardly suggest an even-handed approach - or the forceful US engagement so lacking under Mr Bush.

"When I am president of the United States, my promise to the people of Israel will be this," Mr Kerry told the Anti-Defamation League in May. "We will never pressure you to compromise your security. We will never expect you to negotiate for peace without a credible partner. And we will always work to provide political, military and economic help for your fight against terror.

"Building a stronger Israel and a stronger America means working together to combat the terror that threatens us all." Not much wiggle-room there; and no corresponding list of promises for the Palestinians.

Mr Bush could not have said it better. As for the guileful Mr Sharon, he must be laughing all the way to the West Bank.

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Dear Mr. Patriot
October 20, 2004

American soldiers are dieing like dogs in the desert. The media says 1000 have died, but it's more like 'thousands'. Sixteen dead bodies were recently found in a mass grave in Falluja (see below), and another larger mass grave was found in the province of Ramadi, where the U.S. occupation forces had once located a military base. Fierce unrelenting attacks by Iraqi Resistance forced American troops to vacate Ramadi on the 20th of February, leaving behind the bodies of many of their comrades hastily buried in mass graves. They are not counted as dead, but are considered missing in action.

The Pentagon has reported 1,019 dead and 7,245 wounded in Iraq. The military has actually evacuated 16,765 service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries and ailments not directly related to combat, according to the U.S. Transportation Command. Most are from Operation Iraqi Freedom. That's a total of 24,010 Americans evacuated with ailments wounds and injuries, but this is nothing compared to the mass murder being carried out against the Iraqi people.

In the past two years the Bush administration has killed over 37,000 innocent men, women, and children in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of Democracy and freedom, with well over 500,000 wounded. America is also using food and water as weapons in Iraq, causing thousands of men, women, and children to starve to death each month.

In the commission of multiple war crimes the Bush administration has compromised every ideal embodied in the American constitution, the Bill of Rights, the 'Conventions Against Torture', the 'Hague Conventions', and the 'Geneva Conventions'. As a result of this wanton killing of innocents, hatred for America is on the rise and terrorism is increasing.

As long as companies like Bechtel and Halliburton and men like Bush and Cheney continue to exploit the Iraqi people and leave them but two choices; to live under occupation and enslavement by America, or die fighting that system which enslaves them, there will be endless war.

Bush has promised to, "export death and violence to the four corners of the earth", but war and killing will only breed hatred and more war and killing. Bush and Chainey's way is the wrong way. It's against Christianity, the U.S. Constitution, humanity, and it's against the earth. Americans must wake up. This path of war and death, which has been chosen for them, can only lead to their own destruction, in the same way it ended for Napoleon's France and Hitler's Germany.

Bush's bombing of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 metric tons of DU weapons, made from the deadly U238-isotope - America's nuclear waste - is probably the most egregious war crime ever committed. According to a UN Sub Commission report, cancer in Iraq has increased 1000%, and deformities 600%, childhood leukemia and spontaneous abortions have become commonplace. Depleted Uranium has rendered Iraqi lands infertile, entered the food chain, and contaminated the ground water. With a half-life of 4.5 billion years the Uranium 238 dropped on Iraq by Bush and his father has left much of the country permanently unfit for human habitation.

This is how Bush intends to bring democracy to the world, by killing tens of thousands if not millions of people and radiating the planet. It's time for Americans, and particularly Bush supporters, to stop the flag waving and wake up from the patriotic fantasies. America will never bring freedom and democracy to Iraq through mass murder and the commission of war crimes.

The Iraq of Bush's creation is a hell on earth, a world of women and children mutilated by bomb fragments, roaring jets and helicopters, screaming artillery shells, and explosions as Iraqi homes are obliterated. Gunfire fills the air. American snipers using Israeli techniques are killing women and children, drowning Iraq in a sea of blood. The survivors of the daily bombings and shootings live in terror. The crying of women and children can be heard everywhere along with the crying of babies who have seen their mothers' bodies ripped apart in the name Democracy.

After more than a year U.S. Armed Forces have been unable to take Fallujah. The Iraqi people are fighting off the American invaders with increasing heroism. Against all odds, against planes, tanks, artillery, and a 150,000-man army, the determined Iraqi patriots are fighting to protect their homeland and their families.

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US planes kill a family of six in Fallujah
2004-10-21 10:23:43

BEIJING, Oct. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- U.S. warplanes have killed a family of six in raids against rebels led by Al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Fallujah on Oct. 20, 2004.

A witness saw a man and a woman and four children, two boys and two girls, being pulled out of the rubble of a razed home.

The U.S. military denied a family of six was killed, saying it launched four strikes against safehouses used by Zarqawi's fighters in the city on Wednesday.

A top Iraqi official said Wednesday that Iraqi guerrillas resentful of Zarqawi's growing influence are giving the government information, putting security forces hot on his trail.

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Army Still Stretched By Iraq
United Press International
October 20, 2004

WASHINGTON - More than 27 percent of the military's active duty troops are overseas, and more than half of them are in combat zones, numbers not seen since the Vietnam War, a new study shows.

The study from a consortium of security policy think tanks and advocacy groups warns that the stress the Iraq war is placing on the military's personnel and equipment could reach a breaking point in as little as two years.

"We haven't seen a split like that since Vietnam," said Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives.

U.S. forces are probably going to continue to be in Iraq in those numbers for the long haul, which raises concerns about readiness, morale and retention, according to defense analysts involved in the Security Policy Working Group.

A much greater percentage of the force is deployed overseas than it was for the last decade, from 1992 to 2002, the study shows. It also questions whether adequate preparations were made to support such a deployment.

"The fact that we are doing it doesn't mean we can do it," Conetta said. "What was the preparation that allows for this? There hasn't been the preparation. It doesn't mean people are revolting in the field (leaving the military). You're not going to see a problem right away. ... My concern is that it might be soon."

The Pentagon may regard these numbers less pessimistically. While the data reflects similarities to the Vietnam era, there are important differences in the quality of the force. Vietnam was a war fought by conscript, rather than by a volunteer military.

The re-enlistment rate among active-duty forces deployed to combat is historically the highest of any group in the military -- a trend that is apparently continuing.

Furthermore, the Pentagon's stated intention is not to deploy troops less but to deploy them more, a necessary adjunct to its plan to bring back to the United States more than 70,000 troops permanently based overseas.

The study points to other indicators of possible trouble to come in the Army, which it argues is going to be stretched to the breaking point by an extended Iraq deployment.

More than 20 percent of the Army has already been deployed more than 120 days so far this year. In 2003, the total was 25 percent, according to estimates from the Project on Defense Alternatives.

Those numbers represent half of all deployable forces. It is a stark increase over the number of soldiers who were deployed more than 120 days a year for the previous eight years, according to Defense Department statistics cited by the study. Between 1994 and 2002, less than 5 percent of the Army was deployed for more than 120 days in any one year. [...]

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Anti-U.S. Iraqis not welcome at conference
By Salah Nasrawi, Associated Press Writer
October 20, 2004

CAIRO, Egypt -- Top U.S. and Iraqi officials said Wednesday that Iraq's delegation to next month's international conference on Iraq would only include members of the interim government and that Iraqis opposed to the American-backed administration would not be welcome.

There was wide debate among conference participants over whether Iraqi opposition groups should be allowed to attend. France, which strongly opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, has called for a broader gathering. Egypt, which will host the gathering, suggested Wednesday the issue was still not resolved.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns said the conference, scheduled for Nov. 22-23 in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, should focus on stabilizing Iraq.

"While it is one thing to provide a strong message of support for an inclusive political process among Iraqis, this meeting, as we understand it, is focused on government representatives," Burns told reporters after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday.

In Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also said opposition movements would not be welcome.

"Iraqi political movements and organizations will not be taking part in this conference because the Iraqi government ... is the sovereign entity representing Iraq in this stage," he said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Secretary of State Colin Powell will attend the conference.

The United States believes the conference "could be an important contribution" to achieving stability, working toward the January election, and looking at what neighboring nations and the international community can do to support progress, Boucher said.

Egyptian presidential spokesman Magad Abdel Fattah said disputes are continuing among participating countries over the proposed conference agenda and whether Iraqi groups opposed to the interim government should be invited.

"There are different views and visions on how to deal with issues to be discussed by the conference," Abdel Fattah told reporters.

Countries and groups planning to attend the conference include Iraq's neighbors, Egypt, the eight major industrialized powers, China, the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference and the European Union.

Zebari said Iraq will call on participating countries to help build Iraq's security forces to speed the departure of coalition troops.

He said the conference would be aimed at "assuring neighboring countries and easing their worries about the intentions and duration of the stay of multinational forces."

Abdel Fattah said other disagreements among participating nations include the makeup of the Iraqi delegation and the timetable for U.S. and other foreign troops to leave Iraq.

He also said some countries are asking for a postponement of January national elections in Iraq and for more time to be given for preparations for the polls. He did not elaborate.

Burns said the conference would aim "to send a strong message of support from the international community to the Iraqi people, and to the political process carried out by the Iraqi government."

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As U.S. campaign gets dirty, it's Karl Rove's time to shine
Wednesday, October 20, 2004

WASHINGTON -- With less than two weeks until election day and opinion polls showing the race too close to call, it's crunch time for the likes of Karl Rove.

The cherubic-looking strategist, the brains behind President George W. Bush's re-election bid, has been running Republican campaigns since he was a college student 30 years ago and has a reputation for doing whatever it takes to win.

"Rove is the ultimate master in negative politics in modern-day America," said Marshall Whittman, former aide to Republican Senator John McCain. Mr. Whittman later switched parties and is now a senior fellow with the Democratic Leadership Council, a think tank.

"He certainly proved that in 2000. He goes places where others fear to tread in terms of negative territory."

Not only does Mr. Rove specialize in negative ads of the type that flooded the airwaves this summer attacking Democratic challenger John Kerry's Vietnam War record, he also has a reputation as the master of more subtle tricks.

"A lot of the actions of Rove will be undetected and under the radar, through mailings and phone calls," Mr. Whittman said. "It will go on, on both sides, but my impression is that it will be much more scorched earth on the Republican side in trying to exploit values issues, including gay marriage, prayer in school and the Pledge of Allegiance -- issues that will not be broadcast to the general public."

Already in West Virginia and Arkansas, Republicans have been sending out pamphlets warning that "liberals" are determined to ban the Bible and impose same-sex marriage.

Before hitting the big time, Mr. Rove developed a reputation running judicial-election campaigns in the South, turning previously tame affairs into slugfests. After winning a hard-fought campaign against a Rove-backed Republican judge, Alabama Democratic Judge Mark Kennedy decided not to run for re-election.

According to an account in this month's Atlantic Monthly magazine, the Rove machine targeted Mr. Kennedy's volunteer work with abused children.

A whisper campaign was started, implying that the judge was a pedophile, pointing to one of his own campaign ads where he is pictured holding hands with some of the children.

Rather than face that kind of campaign, Mr. Kennedy pulled out of the race.

The most infamous of the dirty tricks credited to Mr. Rove, but never proven to be his, came during the 2000 Republican primary when Mr. Bush entered South Carolina well behind Mr. McCain for the presidential nomination.

Using a tactic known as "push-polling," where a bogus pollster phones voters asking leading questions, suggestions were circulated that Mr. McCain had betrayed his country while he was a PoW in Vietnam and had fathered a child with a black prostitute.

Mr. McCain's fortunes sank and Mr. Bush won the primary and ultimately the Republican nomination.

There may be no signs of push-polling yet, but both sides are using scare tactics, and often overtly. [...]

As for Mr. Rove, he is likely to try to psych out his opponents the way he did in the final weeks of the 2000 Bush campaign against Al Gore.
"Four years ago, he took Bush to California [where Mr. Gore was well in the lead] to create an atmosphere of momentum that the Republicans were going to win and demoralize the Democrats," Mr. Whittman said. "There's always a certain sense of Roveian triumphalism that exists in these campaigns. If you act like you're going to win, you build the momentum and confidence in your supporters and demoralize the other side."

Mr. Whittman senses a bit of the same kind of triumphalism in Mr. Bush's decision to deliver a speech on terrorism earlier this week in New Jersey, a state where Mr. Kerry has a lead and is expected to win.

"These are the mind games that Rove will play," he said, noting that Mr. Bush hasn't travelled to Ohio for two weeks, perhaps to give the impression he has the state locked up.

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Thousands of new-voter cards in Ohio undeliverable
By Jim Siegel
Enquirer Columbus Bureau
Wednesday, October 20, 2004

COLUMBUS - Thousands of cards mailed by county election boards to newly registered voters in Hamilton County and throughout the state are being returned because the people can't be found.

John Williams, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said the situation indicates that there might not be as many new voters as some expect in a state deemed crucial in the presidential election.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett on Tuesday said it's a result of statewide registration fraud conducted by independent groups that support Democratic candidates.

"By most accounts, their work can only be considered sloppy, haphazard and, in some cases, downright illegal," Bennett said, noting that the state party plans to take out full-page ads in Ohio newspapers encouraging citizens to stop voter fraud.

Democratic Party spokesman Dan Trevas said the fraud uncovered in Ohio equates to "minor errors" when viewed in the bigger picture.

"The vast majority of those registered for the first time are intent on voting," he said.

Bennett cited instances in 10 counties where potentially fraudulent voter registration forms were submitted.

He said many were submitted by groups he terms "auxiliaries of the Democratic Party": the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and America Coming Together.

The groups paid people to register voters. Some registrations were filled out for dead people, some contained fake addresses, and others named fiction characters such as Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins.

Jess Goode, spokesman for ACT in Ohio, has denied wrongdoing by his group. He said the Republican Party is scared of the number of new Democratic voters headed to the polls in two weeks.

An estimated 7.9 million people have registered in Ohio, up from 7.1 million at the beginning of the year.

Williams is currently investigating fraud by someone working for ACORN who he said submitted voter registrations for about 35 people who don't exist.

Newly registered voters in Hamilton County are mailed a card telling them where to vote and what political districts they live in. But thousands of those cards were returned because the people, or the addresses listed on voter registration forms, couldn't be found.

"There is quite a number," Williams said, noting that not every returned card is a suspected case of fraud. "People do actually move.'' [...]

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A film by William Karel
in collaboration with Eric Laurent
author La guerre des Bush and Le monde secret de Bush
(Editions Plon)

Eight years apart, George Bush and his son, George W. Bush, have succeeded each other at the head of the world's most powerful nation. An unprecedented phenomenon in American history. The key events of the last twelve years have taken place during their terms in office: the collapse of the Soviet empire and the Communist bloc, the first Gulf War, the events of September 11, the globalisation of terrorism and the new conflict with Baghdad.

Who are the Bushes? Apparently, the "quiet dynasty" of modern America. But in reality a "dynasty" whose inconceivable family secrets are painstakingly concealed. The grandfather of the current President, Prescott Bush, made his fortune by managing Nazi companies after Hitler seized power. In 1942, his companies were confiscated for collaboration with the enemy. George Bush Senior, Ronald Reagan's Vice-President and then President from 1988 to 1992, armed and financed Saddam Hussein. He approved the shipping of germ warfare strains to Iraq, thus enabling the country to launch a chemical attack against Iranian troops and the Kurdish population.

This film aims to pass through the looking glass and to show how the Bushes, father and son, have not only dined with the devil but have often invited themselves to his table. The bin Ladens and the Bushes have always been business partners and the family of the future terrorist chief indirectly financed George W. Bush's political career. This unnatural alliance has continued since the September 11 attacks: Bush Senior is a top official in one of the biggest private investment funds in the USA, Carlyle, a group that has invested heavily in the arms industry: the Bradley tanks and the missiles used in the latest war against Iraq are made by firms controlled by Carlyle… and the bin Ladens. For the latter are Bush's associates within this investment fund.

"The World According to Bush" is based on fully verified facts and eyewitness accounts. It offers a disturbing and striking portrait of the exercise of power at the head of the world's leading democracy, as well as of the unacceptable alliances that have been forged and that remain painstakingly concealed.

The Bushes' feelings of total impunity have attained their peak during the professional career and the political ascension of George W. Bush. His decision to attack Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime already appears as one of the most fascinating historical and political conundrums for historians to ponder over in the coming years.

No thriller or political fiction screenplay could have imagined the workings of such an intricate plot. Unfortunately, its actors are not fictional characters but, on the contrary, a man and a team who hold the fate of the world in their hands. For the first time in the political history of the USA, a small group of people, working together for thirty years, has more or less taken over American foreign policy and totally overhauled it, silencing all opposition. Behind the proclaimed global strategy, we find not only considerable economic interests but also a possibly more disturbing aspect, a religious project that George W. Bush identifies with completely, initiated by extremists who are part of the President's direct entourage. Religion has taken on an all-important role since his arrival at the White House.

Never before in the history of the world's democracies have one man and his team acted with such arrogance and impunity, defying international law and creating an unprecedented grouping of interests: the project blends politics and personal interests in an atmosphere of total cynicism. The latest war against Iraq, with its totally unforeseeable consequences, hides another danger, that of seeing America launch further "civilizing" operations of a similar type, imposed by force, fired by ideas that are at best naïve and at worst totally hypocritical, calculated over a dangerously short term.

Comment: Click here to watch the documentary and see what intelligent people think about Bush and Co.

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Winslow: Democracy Is Hanging by a Thread

October 21, 2004

AT A Bush rally in suburban New Jersey while Laura Bush was speaking, Sue Niederer, whose son was killed in Iraq in February, spoke out against the killings and the war. She wore a T-shirt with the words "President Bush You Killed My Son." She was handcuffed, arrested, and hauled off by police ("In N.J., Laura Bush stumps for spouse on Democratic turf," Sept. 17, Page 17). This incident truly frightens me.

As upset as I've been with Bush administration policies, this was a jolting wake-up call. What happened to freedom of speech, the right to protest? Don't we see what's happening right here on our own soil?

Democracy is being eroded, bit by bit, in our own country by the Bush administration while it pretends to be fighting for democracy in Iraq. It uses democracy as one excuse for an unprovoked invasion of another country while it tramples our civil rights back here at home. Talk about diversion. This is another example of this regime saying one thing and doing another to coldly advance its hidden agendas.

This administration continues to spew out lies -- Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, our GIs will be welcomed as liberators -- and refuses to admit what a mess it has gotten us into.

So many innocent lives have been lost; the deficit has skyrocketed. The Bush-Cheney marketers are masters of deceit, distortion, and manipulation. Skillfully using their fear tactics, they're hoping they have lulled the American people into mindless marionettes marching to the tune of "My president right or wrong."

Wake up, America! We can't be so obtuse that we can't see that Bush's unrelenting thirst for power is destroying us at home and abroad in the eyes of the world. We've lost the respect of other nations. They see what's happening. Why can't we?

Let's break this vicious cycle and prove to the world that Americans cannot be hoodwinked another four years by this imperialist megalomaniac and his cronies.

Democracy, which is hanging by a thread in this beloved country of ours, still gives us the right to choose our leaders. If we have to endure four more years of this out-of-control administration, I'm not sure we will still have that right.

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Silenced by the President

By Trish Bowcock – October 16, 2004
A few weeks before my father died, he woke me in the wee hours of the morning. He needed to talk. He was worried about Attorney General John Ashcroft and the destruction of American civil liberties. I comforted my father, believing he was delusional from medications. I was wrong. I write this from my home in Jacksonville Oregon (population 2,226). President George W. Bush came here this week. The purpose of his visit was political. Southern Oregon has been deemed a "battle ground" area in the presidential race. John Kerry has made incredible inroads in this traditionally Republican stronghold. President Bush's campaign stop was an attempt to staunch the slide.

Jacksonville is an old gold mining town. Our main street is only five blocks long, lined with restored storefronts. The sidewalks are narrow. We are a peaceful community. The prospect of an overnight presidential visit was exciting, even to me, a lifelong Democrat. My excitement turned to horror as I watched events unfold during President Bush's visit.

In the mid 1800s, when Indians invaded Jacksonville, citizens clambered upon the roof of the old library. It was the one building that would not catch fire when flaming arrows were shot. This week it was a different scene. Police armed with high powered rifles perched upon our rooftops as the presidential motorcade approached. Helicopters flew low, overhead. A cadre of motorcycle police zoomed into town. Black SUVs followed, sandwiching several black limousines carrying the president, his wife and their entourage as they sped to the local inn where they would eat and sleep.

The main street was lined with people gathered to witness the event. Many supported the president. Many did not. Some came because they were simply curious. There were men, women, young and old. The mood was somewhat festive. Supporters of John Kerry sported signs, as did supporters of George Bush. Individuals, exercising their rights of free speech began chanting. On one side of the street, shouts of "four more years" echoed in the night air. On the other side of the street, chants of "three more weeks" responded. The chants were loud and apparently could be heard by President Bush. An order was issued that the anti-Bush rhetoric be quieted. The local SWAT team leapt to action.

It happened fast. Clad in full riot gear, at least 50 officers moved in. Shouting indecipherable commands from a bullhorn, they formed a chain and bore down upon the people, only working to clear the side of the street appearing to be occupied by Kerry supporters. People tried to get out of their way. It was very crowded. There was nowhere to move. People were being crushed. They started flowing into the streets. Pleas to the officers, asking, "where to go" fell upon deaf ears. Instead, riot police fired pellets of cayenne pepper spray into the crowd. An old man fell and couldn't get up. When a young man stopped to help, he was shot in the back with hard pepper spray balls. Children were hit with pepper spray. Deemed "Protesters," people were shoved and herded down the street by the menacing line of armed riot police, until out of the President's ear-shot.

There the "Protesters" were held at bay. Anyone vocalizing anti-Bush or pro-Kerry sentiments were prohibited from venturing forward. Loud anti-Bush chants were responded to by the commanding officer stating: "FORWARD," to which the entire line of armed police would move, lock-step, toward the "Protesters," forcing backward movement.

Police officers circulated filming the crowd of "Protesters." Some were people like me, quiet middle-aged women. Some sported anti-Bush signs, peace signs, or Kerry signs. A small group of youth, clad in black with kerchiefs wrapping their heads chanted slogans. A young woman in her underwear, sporting a peace sign sang a lyrical Kumbaya. Mixed among the "Protesters" were supporters of the President. One 19 year- old man shouted obscenities at anyone expressing dissatisfaction with the president, encouraging the police to "tazar" the "Stinking Protesters." Neither the "Protestors," nor the police harassed this vocal young man. Across the street, individuals shouting support for the president were allowed to continue. Officers monitored this group but allowed them to shout words of support or hurl derisions toward Kerry supporters, undisturbed. Honking cars filled with Bush supporters were left alone. A honking car full of Kerry supporters was stopped by police on its way out of town. The standoff with "Protesters" continued until the President finished his dinner and was secured in his hotel cottage for the night. Only then were the riot police ordered to "mount-up," leaping upon the sideboard of a huge SUV, pulling out of town, and allowing "free speech" to resume.

In small town American I witnessed true repression and intimidation by law enforcement. I saw small children suffering from the effects of being fired upon by pepper bullets. I felt legitimate fear of expressing my political opinions: a brand new feeling. Newspaper accounts state the chaos started when a violent "Protester" shoved a police officer. No one I talked to witnessed this account.It is reputed that President Bush and his staff will not allow any opposition activity to occur within his ear or eye sight. I can confirm, that in tiny Jacksonville, Oregon, this was true. Physically violent means were taken to protect the president from verbal insults. Freedom of speech was stolen.

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South Carolina cops investigate use of stun gun on 75-year-old woman
October 20, 2004

ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) - Police in South Carolina were reviewing whether it was proper for an officer to use a stun gun on a 75-year-old woman who refused to leave a nursing home where she'd gone to visit an ailing friend.

Margaret Kimbrell acknowledged she was distraught after unsuccessfully trying to visit a friend at the home Friday but the officer "didn't have to do that. I didn't deserve this." A police report said the woman tried to hit the officer. Kimbrell said she became agitated when the staff would not tell her where her friend was, fearing he had died. The man was taking a walk at the time.

Police charged Kimbrell with trespassing and resisting arrest. Officer Hattie Macon, who joined the department about 18 months ago, remains on duty during the investigation.

"On face value, it looks like it was" proper, Police Chief John Gregory said.

"We have a person who was asked to leave, who refused and who attempted to assault the officer."

The nursing home staff called police after Kimbrell refused to leave. Police said Macon fired a Taser, striking Kimbrell in the back and forcing her to the ground.

"I thought I was dying," Kimbrell said.

"I didn't want to hurt her and I can't believe she would hurt me."

A Taser shoots small probes into a person's body, sending 50,000 volts of electricity into the person for five seconds.

Kimbrell said she bruised her leg when she fell but the police report said neither the officer nor Kimbrell were injured.

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Jennings: Media In Glaring Spotlight
5:32 pm CDT October 19, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- ABC news anchor Peter Jennings said he's getting an earful on media coverage.

Jennings is on a swing through battleground states, including Iowa and Missouri, where polls show the race could go either to President George W. Bush or Sen. John Kerry.

"I think one of the best reasons to go on the road is just to listen," Jennings told KETV NewsWatch 7's Rob McCartney during a stop in Kansas City, Mo., Monday.

Jennings gets questions about a CBS report on Bush's National Guard service, for which CBS news anchor Dan Rather later apologized and said the story was a mistake. He's also asked about Sinclair Broadcasting's decision to air a controversial documentary on Sen. John Kerry's Vietnam war record. Another big question regards an ABC internal memo from the political director suggesting that reporters need not "reflexively" hold both sides of the presidential election "equally" accountable.

Jennings said the media is now under the hot lights.

"I'm a little concerned about this notion everybody wants us to be objective," Jennings said.

Jennings said that everyone -- even journalists -- have points of view through which they filter their perception of the news. It could be race, sex or income. But, he said, reporters are ideally trained to be as objective as possible.

"And when we don't think we can be fully objective, to be fair," the anchorman said.

Does the public think network news is fair? There are a number of opinion polls that show news consumers feel that the media does have a slant.

Jennings maintains those polls may be driven by groups with an agenda.

"There's a whole industry of conservatives saying, 'Ah, it's those damn liberals,' and a whole group of liberals saying, 'It's all those damn conservatives,'" Jennings said.

The problematic response, Jennings said, is the way people tailor the way they consume news.

"If you tailor your news viewing, as some people are now doing, so that you only get one point of view, well of course you're going to think somebody else has got a different point of view, and it may be wrong," Jennings said.

Comment: In other words, don't take anything you see on TV news as the gospel truth. Don't take anything you read on Signs of the Times as the truth, either - do your own research, dig for facts, and come to your own conclusions.

It is curious that Jennings basically indicates - without being critical of either side - that the US media is biased. The following comments are also interesting:

"I'm a little concerned about this notion everybody wants us to be objective," Jennings said.

Jennings said that everyone -- even journalists -- have points of view through which they filter their perception of the news. It could be race, sex or income.

We certainly agree that everyone has a set of filters through which all incoming information is filtered. Does that mean that it is not possible to minimize the effects of such filters and see objective reality - or at least that which has a very high probability of being objectively real?

Say Bert walks into a room full of people and shoots Ernie. Ernie dies. The other people in the room may interpret the event in many different ways. Some may think that Ernie deserved it, and thus it was justified - perhaps Ernie was classified by some as a terrorist. Some may think Bert is a cold-blooded killer. No matter what anyone believes, certain facts and details remain. Either Bert shot Ernie, or he didn't. Either Ernie was a criminal, or he wasn't. Either Bert actions were "legally justified", or they weren't.

As we have shown on the Signs page, media outlets frequently do slant their reports in a certain direction, omitting facts and details related to the story. In our example above, major media outlets may focus on the idea that Ernie was a terrorist instead of examining who is calling Ernie a terrorist, Ernie's criminal record, and the legality of Bert's actions. Nevertheless, the facts remain. We can either choose to find them, or ignore them.

If we choose to ignore the facts, and therefore the reality in which we find ourselves, we do so at our own peril.

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Top US airlines suffer heavy 3Q losses
By Kevin Done in London
Financial Times
October 20 2004 20:04

Three of the top four US airlines on Wednesday disclosed heavy third quarter losses underlining the parlous state of the US aviation industry.

American Airlines, the world's biggest carrier, said it had fallen from a $1m net profit a year ago to a net loss of $214m and warned that its loss in the fourth quarter would be "significantly larger" than in the third.

It warned of further job losses and announced capacity cuts for next year and the postponement of soe aircraft deliveries.

Delta Air Lines, the third largest US carrier which is teetering on the brink of collapse into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, said that its third quarter loss had nearly quadrupled from $164m to $646m.

It is seeking to negotiate $1bn of annual cost savings from its pilots as well as big concessions from other stakeholders including creditors, lessors and suppliers. "As Delta's financial situation continues to deteriorate, time is of the essence," warned Gerald Grinstein, Delta chief executive.

Northwest Airlines, the number four US carrier, fell from a net profit of $42m a year ago to a net loss of $46m.

The losses have been racked up in the summer quarter, seasonally the strongest three months of the year when northern hemisphere airlines traditionallly earn the bulk of their profits to offset much weaker earnings in the winter months.

The US airline industry is undergoing the worst financial crisis in its history with the fourth successive year of heavy losses.

Two leading carriers, United Airlines and US Airways, are already in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and if Delta and ATA, the tenth largest US airline, also file for bankruptcy in the near future, as feared, unprecedentedly close to half the US industry would be operating in bankruptcy.

The US Business Travel Coalition, representing corporate travel buyers, warned last week, that there was an "increasing probability that the US airline industry will experience a catastrophic failure in the next 12 months defined as two or three major network airline liquidations". [...]

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3 killed in Florida air ambulance crash
Associated Press
Oct. 20, 2004, 2:41PM

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. -- A helicopter used as an air ambulance crashed into a bay early today, killing all three crew members aboard, officials said. Two bodies were recovered and divers were looking for the third victim.

The Eurocopter BO-105 left Santa Rosa Beach bound for DeFuniak Springs, about 25 miles away, to transfer a critically ill heart patient to a Pensacola hospital.

No patients were aboard when the chopper crashed, said Mike Burke, a spokesman for Sacred Heart Health Systems, which operates hospitals in Santa Rosa Beach and Pensacola.

The crew members included the pilot, a Sacred Heart nurse and a fire department paramedic. Their identities were not immediately released.

"We have lost three brave people, true heroes who dedicated themselves to saving the lives of others," Sacred Heart president and CEO Patrick J. Madden said in a statement.

Walton County Search and Rescue divers found two bodies in the wreckage in Choctawhatchee Bay and continued a search, said Lt. Stan Kirkland of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Sacred Heart officials said the crew radioed minutes after departure that they were aborting the mission because of bad weather and were heading back to the hangar at Santa Rosa Beach. There was no distress call then and no further communication with the helicopter.

Crash debris was found in the bay near the U.S. 331 bridge, about 75 miles east of Pensacola, Burke said. The heart patient was transferred by ambulance; no further information was disclosed.

The aircraft is one of two AIRHeart helicopters owned by Metro Aviation Inc. of Shreveport, La., that Sacred Heart operates in the Florida Panhandle. Sacred Heart has hospitals in Pensacola and Santa Rosa Beach.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

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148 trapped coal miners feared dead
2004-10-21 11:28:20

BEIJING, Oct. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- A senior work safety official saidhere Thursday morning that there is slim hope for the 148 trapped coal miners in central China's coal mine blast to be rescued alive.

Deputy director of the State Administration of Work Safety Sun Huashan said that according to experiences in past coal mine disasters, the hope for those missing miners to come out alive is very weak.

The gas explosion has left at least 56 people dead and 148 others missing, according to local sources.

The blast occurred at 10:47 p.m. Wednesday in Daping Mine of Zhengmei Group which is located in Xinmi of Henan Province, according to local coal mine safety administration.

When the tragedy happened, there were more than 400 people at work. More than 290 people managed to escape while 148 others weretrapped in the mine.

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Minor earthquake, two aftershocks, rocked town
By Chris Cassidy/ Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 20, 2004

STOW - A minor earthquake and two aftershocks rattled Littleton and shook houses as far away as Stow and Harvard on the night of Oct. 7, scientists reported.

At 10:23 p.m., the small tremor struck 2.2 miles southeast of Littleton Common and registered a 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, Oct. 8.

The quake, which could also be felt in Boxborough, Acton, Maynard, Stow and Harvard, triggered a flurry of phone calls to the Stow Police dispatch center from residents reporting they had heard a loud explosion. Some complained 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 Stow 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 a 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 a 7.8, while the 1994 quake in Northridge, Calif. measured a 6.7.

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Earthquake Southern Peru

National Earthquake Information Center
A magnitude 5.5 earthquake IN SOUTHERN PERU has occurred at:
15.62S 73.89W Depth 75km Wed Oct 20 18:55:49 2004 UTC

Time: Universal Time (UTC) Wed Oct 20 18:55:49 2004

Location with respect to nearby cities:
100 km (65 miles) SSE of Puquio, Peru (pop N/A)
265 km (165 miles) WNW of Arequipa, Peru
270 km (170 miles) SE of Ica, Peru
515 km (320 miles) SE of LIMA, Peru

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Earthquake Vanuatu

National Earthquake Information Center
A magnitude 5.6 earthquake IN VANUATU has occurred at:
14.05S 166.56E Depth 82km Wed Oct 20 18:32:27 2004 UTC

Time: Universal Time (UTC) Wed Oct 20 18:32:27 2004

Location with respect to nearby cities:
175 km (110 miles) NNW of Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
375 km (235 miles) SSE of Lata, Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Isl.
450 km (280 miles) NNW of PORT-VILA, Efate, Vanuatu
2040 km (1270 miles) NE of BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia

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Heat melting records away
Oct. 20, 2004, 1:29PM
Houston Chronicle

Houston's autumn heat wave is continuing to set records, and forecasters say there's  little chance of a reprieve until next week.

A record-breaking temperature of 94 degrees steamed up Bush Intercontinental Airport on Tuesday, and it would only take a temperature of 92 degrees to beat today's record. Clouds from this morning lingered longer than usual, however, keeping a lid on the heat so far.

No real relief is possible until a cold front breaks through early next week, said National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Lewis, and that's by no means a sure thing.

This week's scorcher can be blamed on a broad area of high pressure over the Gulf of Mexico that forecasters expect to strengthen.

By the weekend, daytime highs may moderate a little, but the downward shift is expected to be slight.

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