Article - High Strangeness
Article - The Blair Belief Project
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
Palestinians pick up body parts in Jabaliya Refugee
Camp, Gaza, during "Operation Days of Penitence". (Photo:
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
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
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
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,
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".
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
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?
| A video of a senior charity worker
who has been kidnapped in Baghdad has been broadcast on al-Jazeera
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.
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
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 â€˜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
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?
| 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
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
| 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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. [...]
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
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
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
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."
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
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
"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
"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.
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
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
"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
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.'' [...]
WORLD ACCORDING TO BUSH
|A film by William Karel
in collaboration with Eric Laurent
author La guerre des Bush and Le monde secret de Bush
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
| 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"
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.
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
"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.
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.
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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.
|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
|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
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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