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"Karl Rove led the nation to war to improve the political prospects of George W. Bush. I know how surreal that sounds. But I also know it is true." - James C Moore May 7 2003 LA Times

Karl Rove: America's Mullah
By Neal Gabler, Los Angeles Times
Sunday, October 24 @ 09:33:56 EDT
This election is about Rovism, and the outcome threatens to transform the U.S. into an ironfisted theocracy.

Even now, after Sen. John F. Kerry handily won his three debates with President Bush and after most polls show a dead heat, his supporters seem downbeat. Why? They believe that Karl Rove, Bush's top political operative, cannot be beaten. Rove the Impaler will do whatever it takes - anything - to make certain that Bush wins. This isn't just typical Democratic pessimism. It has been the master narrative of the 2004 presidential campaign in the mainstream media. Attacks on Kerry come and go - flip-flopper, Swift boats, Massachusetts liberal - but one constant remains, Rove, and everyone takes it for granted that he knows how to game the system.

Rove, however, is more than a political sharpie with a bulging bag of dirty tricks. His campaign shenanigans - past and future - go to the heart of what this election is about.

Democrats will tell you it is a referendum on Bush's incompetence or on his extremist right-wing agenda. Republicans will tell you it's about conservatism versus liberalism or who can better protect us from terrorists. They are both wrong. This election is about Rovism - the insinuation of Rove's electoral tactics into the conduct of the presidency and the fabric of the government. It's not an overstatement to say that on Nov. 2, the fate of traditional American democracy will hang in the balance.

Rovism is not simply a function of Rove the political conniver sitting in the counsels of power and making decisions, though he does. No recent presidency has put policy in the service of politics as has Bush's. Because tactics can change institutions, Rovism is much more. It is a philosophy and practice of governing that pervades the administration and even extends to the Republican-controlled Congress. As Robert Berdahl, chancellor of UC Berkeley, has said of Bush's foreign policy, a subset of Rovism, it constitutes a fundamental change in "the fabric of constitutional government as we have known it in this country."

Rovism begins, as one might suspect from the most merciless of political consiglieres, with Machiavelli's rule of force: "A prince is respected when he is either a true friend or a downright enemy." No administration since Warren Harding's has rewarded its friends so lavishly, and none has been as willing to bully anyone who strays from its message.

There is no dissent in the Rove White House without reprisal.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki was retired after he disagreed with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's transformation of the Army and then testified that invading Iraq would require a U.S. deployment of 200,000 soldiers.

Chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster was threatened with termination if he revealed before the vote that the administration had seriously misrepresented the cost of its proposed prescription drug plan to get it through Congress.

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was peremptorily fired for questioning the wisdom of the administration's tax cuts, and former U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer III felt compelled to recant his statement that there were insufficient troops in Iraq.

Even accounting for the strong-arm tactics of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, this isn't government as we have known it. This is the Sopranos in the White House: "Cross us and you're road kill."

Naturally, the administration's treatment of the opposition is worse. Rove's mentor, political advisor Lee Atwater, has been quoted as saying: "What you do is rip the bark off liberals." That's how Bush has governed. There is a feeling, perhaps best expressed by Georgia Democratic Sen. Zell Miller's keynote address at the Republican convention, that anyone who has the temerity to question the president is undermining the country. At times, Miller came close to calling Democrats traitors for putting up a presidential candidate.

This may be standard campaign rhetoric. But it's one thing to excoriate your opponents in a campaign, and quite another to continue berating them after the votes are counted.

Rovism regards any form of compromise as weakness. Politics isn't a bus we all board together, it's a steamroller.

No recent administration has made less effort to reach across the aisle, and thanks to Rovism, the Republican majority in Congress often operates on a rule of exclusion. Republicans blocked Democrats from participating in the bill-drafting sessions on energy, prescription drugs and intelligence reform in the House. As Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) told the New Yorker, "They don't consult with the nations of the world, and they don't consult with Congress, especially the Democrats in Congress. They can do it all themselves."

Bush entered office promising to be a "uniter, not a divider." But Rovism is not about uniting. What Rove quickly grasped is that it's easier and more efficacious to exploit the cultural and social divide than to look for common ground. No recent administration has as eagerly played wedge issues - gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, faith-based initiatives - to keep the nation roiling, in the pure Rovian belief that the president's conservative supporters will always be angrier and more energized than his opponents. Division, then, is not a side effect of policy; in Rovism, it is the purpose of policy.

The lack of political compromise has its correlate in the administration's stubborn insistence that it doesn't have to compromise with facts. All politicians operate within an Orwellian nimbus where words don't mean what they normally mean, but Rovism posits that there is no objective, verifiable reality at all. Reality is what you say it is, which explains why Bush can claim that postwar Iraq is going swimmingly or that a so-so economy is soaring. As one administration official told reporter Ron Suskind, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.. We're history's actors."

When neither dissent nor facts are recognized as constraining forces, one is infallible, which is the sum and foundation of Rovism. Cleverly invoking the power of faith to protect itself from accusations of stubbornness and insularity, this administration entertains no doubt, no adjustment, no negotiation, no competing point of view. As such, it eschews the essence of the American political system: flexibility and compromise.

In Rovism, toughness is the only virtue. The mere appearance of change is intolerable, which is why Bush apparently can't admit ever making a mistake. As Machiavelli put it, the prince must show that "his judgments are irrevocable."

Rovism is certainly not without its appeal. As political theorist Sheldon Wolin once characterized Machiavellian government, it promises the "economy of politics." Americans love toughness. They love swagger. In a world of complexity and uncertainty, especially after Sept. 11, they love the idea of a man who doesn't need anyone else. They even love the sense of mission, regardless of its wisdom.

These values run deep in the American soul, and Rovism consciously taps them. But they are not democratic. Unwavering discipline, demonization of foes, disdain for reality and a personal sense of infallibility based on faith are the stuff of a theocracy - the president as pope or mullah and policy as religious warfare.

Boiled down, Rovism is government by jihadis in the grip of unshakable self-righteousness - ironically the force the administration says it is fighting. It imposes rather than proposes.

Rovism surreptitiously and profoundly changes our form of government, a government that has been, since its founding by children of the Enlightenment, open, accommodating, moderate and generally reasonable.

All administrations try to work the system to their advantage, and some, like Nixon's, attempt to circumvent the system altogether. Rove and Bush neither use nor circumvent, which would require keeping the system intact. They instead are reconfiguring the system in extra-constitutional, theocratic terms.

The idea of the United States as an ironfisted theocracy is terrifying, and it should give everyone pause. This time, it's not about policy. This time, for the first time, it's about the nature of American government.

We all have reason to be very, very afraid.

Neal Gabler, a senior fellow at the Norman Lear Center at USC Annenberg, is author of "Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality."

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

Comment: People in the US may be starting to wake up, but it is far too late. The "election" is fixed. Bush takes it. The "ironfisted theocracy" is upon us, and during the next four years, it's just gonna get worse.

Margaret Atwood described such an America in her book The Handmaid's Tale. It is looking less and less like fantasy with each passing day.

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Dumb show

Charlie Brooker Saturday October 23, 2004 The Guardian

Heady times. The US election draws ever nearer, and while the rest of the world bangs its head against the floorboards screaming "Please God, not Bush!", the candidates clash head to head in a series of live televised debates. It's a bit like American Idol, but with terrifying global ramifications. You've got to laugh.

Or have you? Have you seen the debates? I urge you to do so. The exemplary BBC News website ( hosts unexpurgated streaming footage of all the recent debates, plus clips from previous encounters, through Reagan and Carter, all the way back to Nixon versus JFK.

Watching Bush v Kerry, two things immediately strike you. First, the opening explanation of the rules makes the whole thing feel like a Radio 4 parlour game. And second, George W Bush is... well, he's... Jesus, where do you start?

The internet's a-buzz with speculation that Bush has been wearing a wire, receiving help from some off-stage lackey. Screen grabs appearing to show a mysterious bulge in the centre of his back are being traded like Top Trumps. Prior to seeing the debate footage, I regarded this with healthy scepticism: the whole "wire" scandal was just wishful thinking on behalf of some amateur Michael Moores, I figured. And then I watched the footage.

Quite frankly, the man's either wired or mad. If it's the former, he should be flung out of office: tarred, feathered and kicked in the nuts. And if it's the latter, his behaviour goes beyond strange, and heads toward terrifying. He looks like he's listening to something we can't hear. He blinks, he mumbles, he lets a sentence trail off, starts a new one, then reverts back to whatever he was saying in the first place. Each time he recalls a statistic (either from memory or the voice in his head), he flashes us a dumb little smile, like a toddler proudly showing off its first bowel movement. Forgive me for employing the language of the playground, but the man's a tool.

So I sit there and I watch this and I start scratching my head, because I'm trying to work out why Bush is afforded any kind of credence or respect whatsoever in his native country. His performance is so transparently biz arre, so feeble and stumbling, it's a miracle he wasn't laughed off the stage. And then I start hunting around the internet, looking to see what the US media made of the whole "wire" debate. And they just let it die. They mentioned it in passing, called it a wacko conspiracy theory and moved on.

Yet whether it turns out to be true or not, right now it's certainly plausible - even if you discount the bulge photos and simply watch the president's ridiculous smirking face. Perhaps he isn't wired. Perhaps he's just gone gaga. If you don't ask the questions, you'll never know the truth.

The silence is all the more troubling since in the past the US news media has had no problem at all covering other wacko conspiracy theories, ones with far less evidence to support them. (For infuriating confirmation of this, watch the second part of the must-see documentary series The Power Of Nightmares (Wed, 9pm, BBC2) and witness the absurd hounding of Bill Clinton over the Whitewater and Vince Foster non-scandals.)

Throughout the debate, John Kerry, for his part, looks and sounds a bit like a haunted tree. But at least he's not a lying, sniggering, drink-driving, selfish, reckless, ignorant, dangerous, backward, drooling, twitching, blinking, mouse-faced little cheat. And besides, in a fight between a tree and a bush, I know who I'd favour.

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

Comment: The above article appeared in the Guardian last Saturday. At the time we understood the opinion expressed in the last paragraph as a humorous way for the author to express the extreme frustration that many people experience at the actions of the Bush regime in the last four years and the seeming inevitability of their re-election for yet another term, if indeed "election" is the correct word to use.

While we do not of course support the idea that the current President should be assassinated as JFK was, it is tragically ironic that such a fate should befall an extremely popular President like JFK, when George Bush, who is perhaps the worst US President ever, should be preparing for 4 more years during which he will push the world yet closer to the brink of oblivion.

Is there perhaps something significant in this fact?

The article has since been removed from the Guardian web site and the following disclaimer added.

Sunday October 24, 2004
The Guardian

The final sentence of a column in The Guide on Saturday caused offence to some readers. The Guardian associates itself with the following statement from the writer.

"Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action - an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind."

Of course, the "offence" that the final sentence caused to some readers results from the fact that they are lacking some key information. Most people still believe that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK, when the truth is that his assassination was ordered by members of the US government.

Surely it is this fact that those readers should reserve their "offence" for, and for the fact that successive US governments and the world media has been selling them a lie for more than 40 years.

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George, God here ...

President Bush has words with the Almighty

Terry Jones
Friday October 22, 2004



"This is God here ..."

"Hi, God. What can I do for you?"

"I want you to stop this Iraq thing, George."

"But you told me to do it, God!"

"No I didn't, George ..."

"But you did! You spoke to me through Karl, Rumsey and Dick and all those other really clever guys!"

"How did you know it was me talking, George?"

"Instinct, God. I just knew it!"

"Do you really think I'd want you to unleash all this horror and bloodshed on another lot of human beings?"

"But they're Muslims! They don't believe in You, God!"

"But, George, they do believe in me. Jews, Christians and Moslems all worship the same Me! Didn't you do comparative theology at school, George?"

"No, of course not! You think I'm some sort of peace-waving dope-headed liberal faggot-lover, God?"

"No, of course not, George, but I expect you to know something about the people you're bombing."

"Oh, come on! I know it's right to bomb those oily rag-heads until there's not one left to wipe a wrench on!"

"How do you know that, George?"

"Cause You tell me that's what I should do, God."

"George, I do not tell you to do that!"

"But I hear You, God! You speak to me! You tell me what to do! You tell me what is Right and what is Wrong! That's why I don't need to listen to any soft-baked, mealy-mouthed liberal Kerry-pickers!"

"George, you're deluding yourself."

"God! How can you say that? I got some of the most powerful people on this planet down on their knees every day in the White House just a-praying to You! Now are you gonna tell me You ain't listening? Because if You ain't listening, God, that's Your problem - not mine!"

"George, of course I'm listening - it's you who is not listening to Me!"

"And I'll tell you why! 'Cause You ain't addressing me right."

"What d'you mean, you jumped-up little Ivy League draft-dodger?"

"If you're so 'omniscient', God, you oughta know that you gotta go through Karl Rove, John Ashcroft, Rumsey and Dick ... those fellas know what they're talking about! I can't listen to just any deity who can pick up the phone!"

"But, I'm God, George!"

"Does Karl say you are?"

"But why do you believe Karl?"

"Because my gut tells me he's right!"

"Listen, you ignorant little pinch-eyed Billy Graham convert! Can't you get it into your head that I'm God and I'm telling you to stop all this 'pre-emptive strike' nonsense! Stop destroying Iraq! Stop supporting that monster Sharon! Stop picking a fight with the only other human beings on the planet that believe in Me! You're leading the world into unbelievable chaos and horror!"

"That's enough, God! That's just the sort of defeatist crap that I won't allow in the White House! Get out of here!"

"I cannot believe I'm hearing this, George."

"Well you better start believing, God, because this is the new reality. Don'tcha know that a recent Gallup poll shows that 42% of Americans identify themselves as 'born again'? That cuts across Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, white and black! This is a real political power base, God, and you'd better believe it!"

"Look, all I'm asking is for you to show a little compassion to your fellow human beings!"

"I'm not going to debate this with you, God! You're beginning to sound like you belong to the reality-based community!"

"What the hell does that mean?"

"Well by the 'reality-based community', we mean people who believe that solutions emerge from their judicious study of discernible reality." "Sounds fair enough..."

"But, as one of my advisors told Ron Suskind of the Wall Street Journal: 'The reality-based community is not the way the world really works any more. We're an empire now and, when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do'."

"You don't give a damn, George?"

"I mean You speak through me, God, not the other way round! Is that clear?"

"Yes, Mr President."

Comment: While we think that Christianity in its many forms (and the other religions of the world) is a means of keeping people docile, we find passages in the Bible that speak with much wisdom. Here are a few that apply to Bush, the man who drapes himself in the cloak of his saviour while ignoring the teachings:

1 John
3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

2 Peter
1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly

2 Timothy
3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. [...]
7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
16:14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
16:16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

Some readers might have a negative reaction to seeing words from the New Testament on this page. We would ask to you stop and look at history. We have seen civilisations rise and fall, even in what is called "recorded history". The raw material of Man has not changed much in thousands of years. Is it not reasonable to assume that the same dynamics that we see in our society would have played out before? That the same urge to power and control would have manifested and driven other societies to the point of catastrophe ours now faces?

If so, then the words of the prophets and apostles are based upon experience, they are warnings to others of what to watch for, the signs of the times. There is no magic, no mumbo jumbo, no need for a virgin birth, miracles, or crucifixion.

Is not Bush a false prophet? Does he not say one thing and do another, all the while proclaiming he is divinely inspired?

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'Americans are ignorant'

Kuala Lumpur - Americans are "very ignorant," and will almost certainly re-elect a "liar" as their leader, Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in a trademark tongue lashing directed at United States President George W Bush.

In an interview with Malaysia's The Star newspaper published on Tuesday, Mahathir - known for his blunt remarks - also didn't spare Bush's rival, Senator John Kerry, saying both politicians were "in total denial" about the root causes of terrorism.

Mahathir, however, wrote an open letter dated October 15 to American Muslims, urging them to vote for Kerry because Bush has been "the cause of the tragedies" across the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, current premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday distanced himself from Mahathir's statements and refused to comment on whether the Malaysian government wants Bush or Kerry to win.

Palestine is the problem

"Whatever (Mahathir) has written is his own opinion. Full stop," Abdullah told reporters.

Mahathir stepped down as prime minister after 22 years in office October last year, but has remained as candid as ever in criticising American leaders and Jews, as was evident in Tuesday's interview with The Star.

Mahathir, who cracked down on terror while in office, repeated his view that Islamic terrorism has been fuelled by US and Israeli injustices against the Palestinians.

Mahathir told The Star neither Bush nor Kerry want to address the root problem of terrorism because that would "annoy the Jewish group (voters)."

"If you mention Palestine as the root cause (of terrorism), you will lose the election. So neither Kerry nor Bush will mention Palestine," he said.

"But surprisingly, the electorate appears to be willing to accept a person who told a blatant lie and to elect a liar as their president," he said, referring to Bush's claims about Saddam Hussein stockpiling weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"The American people are, by and large, very ignorant and know nothing about the rest of the world. ... Yet they are the people who will decide who will be the most powerful man in the world," he said, adding that he thinks Bush will win the November 2 election.

He also blasted Bush's close allies British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who won a resounding victory at national polls early this month.

"They (accepted) Blair, and I am sure they will accept Bush. They have already accepted Howard who told a blatant lie," he said, without elaborating.

Mahathir's last days in office were tainted by a controversial speech he gave at a summit of Islamic leaders when he said "Jews rule the world by proxy."

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Bush exploits suffering of 9/11, says Carter
Oliver Burkeman in Atlanta
Monday October 25, 2004
The Guardian

George Bush has exploited the suffering of September 11 and turned back decades of efforts to make the world a safer place, the former president Jimmy Carter says in an interview with the Guardian published today.

Attacking Mr Bush and Tony Blair over Iraq, Mr Carter calls the war "a completely unjust adventure based on misleading statements".

He also criticises Mr Bush for "lack of effort" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and accuses him of abandoning nuclear non-proliferation initiatives championed by five presidents.

The US "suffered, in 9/11, a terrible and shocking attack ... and George Bush has been adroit at exploiting that attack, and he has elevated himself, in the consciousness of many Americans, to a heroic commander-in-chief, fighting a global threat against America," Mr Carter says.

"He's repeatedly played that card, and to some degree quite successfully. I think that success has dissipated. I don't know if it's dissipating fast enough to affect the election. We'll soon know."

Mr Carter, 80, was president from 1977-1981, but did not win re-election amid the US hostage crisis in Iran. By comparison, support for Mr Bush's Iraq invasion is widespread, something Mr Carter attributes to a transformation in America's national mood.

"When your troops go to war, the prime minister or the president change overnight from an administrator, dealing with taxation and welfare and health and deteriorating roads, into the commander-in-chief," he says. "And it's just become almost unpatriotic to describe Bush's fallacious and ill-advised and mistaken and sometimes misleading actions."

Mr Bush and Mr Blair are blamed for helping to fuel the depth of anti-American feeling in the Islamic world. Denying any link between his handling of the Iranian crisis and the present threat, Mr Carter says: "The entire Islamic world condemned Iran. Nowadays, because of the unwarranted invasion of Iraq by Bush and Blair, which was a completely unjust adventure based on misleading statements, and the lack of any effort to resolve the Palestinian issue, [there is] massive Islamic condemnation of the United States."

American media organisations, he adds, "have been cowed, because they didn't want to be unpatriotic. There has been a lack of inquisitive journalism. In fact, it's hard to think of a major medium in the United States that has been objective and fair and balanced, and critical when criticism was deserved".

On nuclear proliferation, the issue that the Democratic contender John Kerry has identified as the single most serious threat to national security, Mr Carter attacks Mr Bush for abandoning "all of those long, tedious negotiations" carried out by presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan and himself.

In recent weeks he has also warned of the possibility of a new election fiasco in Florida.

The two presidential candidates spent the weekend focusing their resources and words even more tightly on the small number of swing states considered crucial to the election on November 2.

Mr Bush told supporters in Florida that "despite ongoing violence, Iraq has an interim government. It's building up its own security forces. We're headed toward elections in January. You see, we're safer, America is safer with Afghanistan and Iraq on the road to democracy. We can be proud that 50 million citizens of those countries now live as free men and women".

Mr Carter's interview marks the UK publication of his book The Hornet's Nest, a story of the American revolutionary war and the first novel to be published by a former president. Ironically, he notes, those fighting for US independence could never have triumphed were it not for an alliance with the French.

Comment: Carter was the one who started financing Osama bin Laden. However, he is correct in assessing an important "shift in mood" in the United States. The American people have been manipulated into believing a fairy tale about US involvement in the world and about themselves. If Knowledge Protects, Ignorance Endangers, as someone once said, then the ignorance of the US people about the rest of the world and about themselves endangers everyone on this planet.

It was once a truism that Republicans were less likely to get Americans into war because the rest of the world knew that they were stronger than the Democrats in matters of security. It was once a truism that Republicans were financial conservatives, against budget deficits, and that they knew the value of a hard-earned dollar. Those Republicans are not the ones in power today, having been replaced by the "neo-conservatives", "conservatives" in name only. The neo-conservatives have brought about the most radical transformation of the US ever seen, all under the banner of "conservatism".

The leaders and most important figures in the neo-conservative movement are Zionists, many of whom have double citizenship with Israel. They have served as advisors to the Israeli government when they were not advising the American government. It is sometimes said that they have "divided loyalties", but we do not think that their loyalties are divided at all. They stand for Israel before standing for the US. They have managed to bend and distort the foreign policy of the United States to that of the hawks in Israel.

Apparently Bush has a great admiration for Ariel Sharon. So much so, in fact, that he has followed Sharon down the path of war crimes: torture, bombing civilians, illegal military actions that are condemned by the international community and against international law. Two peas in a pod.

Carter is mild in his condemnation of Bush. He can't even come out and call the guy a liar. And make no mistake about it, Bush is a liar. He lied about Osama. He lied about Afghanistan. He lied about Saddam. He lied about 911. He lied about his tax breaks for the rich. He is lying when he says the economy is strong. He is lying about the future re imposition of the draft.

But when he tells you that things would be easier if he were dictator, he is not lying. He is giving you the straight-up truth.

Americans, far too many of them, are buying the lies, and this does not speak well for their future. There is a battle going on for our souls. Yes, that sounds cosmic and like hyperbole, but, nonetheless, we think it is true. The world over, the spin doctors have taken over, the media carry the lies to the public, the public eats them up, preferring to live in a comfortable illusion than to face the facts, than to read the signs of the times.

The signs are out there. War, natural disasters, climate change, police states at home. But few are willing to confront them. The population of the planet is transmuting negative energy, and we see the effects of this everywhere, in every country. Liberty has come to mean decadence, and our urge for respect of ourselves and others has become intolerance and calls for law and order. The dynamic surrounds us everywhere. Private rights are forced into the public, becoming spectacle, where the sensibilities of others are not taken into account. This provokes a hostile response as a backlash. The global market and the inequitable plunder of the Third World has caused problems of migration of populations seeking a better life in the metropoles. This immigration then destabilises the plunderers at home when immigrant populations grow while preferring to keep their own customs and culture.

These problems we face are endemic to the global system, and the system is the reflection of who we are deep inside. We have created a world in our image.

There is no escaping the consequences because we cannot run from ourselves.

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The age of anxiety

American academic Richard Sennett, who has been teaching in London for five years, returns to New York and takes the cultural and political temperature

Saturday October 23, 2004
The Guardian
[...] "Fascism" is both a strong and an opaque word. Discussions here about whether America is threatened by fascism have been focused this autumn by the appearance of Robert Paxton's The Anatomy of Fascism. An historian of Vichy France at Columbia University, Paxton calmly explores rather than rants about fascism as "democracy gone wrong" in Europe from 1919 to 1939. Yet its final chapter has roused debate because Paxton argues that democracy can go wrong whenever far-right beliefs intersect with conservative economic and political institutions, and that the longing for an iron grip is much more than historical accident. Light references to Israel and the United States evince Paxton's prudence yet his readers have not taken these suggestions lightly.

We could think of fascism itself as either hard or soft. Hard fascism rams home to the citizen that he or she is held in that iron grip, as in Mussolini's theatre of force or George Orwell's nightmare Nineteen Eighty-four. Soft fascism is not so much a velvet glove as an invisible hand, the operations of control hidden from scrutiny as Patriot Act II, and more, internal repression presented to the public as merely preventive action against threats that have yet to materialise. The Bush administration acted in this preventive way, for instance, by shutting three of the larger Muslim charities in America, not for anything they had done, but for what might happen, some time, somewhere. In hard fascism the state exploits concrete fear, in soft fascism the state exploits diffuse anxiety.

"Security" takes on a peculiar meaning in soft fascism. Perhaps the most disturbing book to appear this year, Jeffrey Rosen's The Naked Crowd, illuminates the twisted experience of security. In Rosen's view, reality TV and its like have made invasion of privacy into popular entertainment. The pleasure of stripping away privacy fits into an economy where high-tech firms such as Oracle make large profits from developing personal data bases, listening devices, and auditing software for business. Government destruction of private rights thus become "naturalised": the public already enjoys the act of stripping people naked, and this intrusion is just an extension of how business gets done in the computer age.

Diffuse anxieties only add further fuel to this "naturalised" process. Insecurity about what might happen, some time, somewhere, becomes an ongoing state of mind; it co-habits with preventive measures, but these draconian measures do not erase unease. Indeed, as the state machine acts stealthily to prevent things happening, as its technologies become built into the fabric of everyday business practice, there can be no defining moment when an ordinary citizen could declare, "now I am more secure".

Is America menaced by soft fascism, as many intellectuals fear? [...]

Comment: Mussolini defined fascism as the merger of corporations and the state. This definition certainly fits the United States today. Yes, due to the power of the media, it may take the appearance of being "soft" when compared to the images we have in mind of Hitler's Germany, but the iron fist is there. Look at the intolerance that has developed between the two political parties. Look at the dirty tricks of Karl Rove.

Term two of the unelected president Bush will make term one look like a walk in the park.

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Of the Evil Empire
Manuel Valenzuela

ICH -- Let us for a few moments put aside our lavish lifestyles of fortuitous endowment and providence that have made us blind to the realities of billions of our fellow humans. Let us ignore our plasma televisions, our DVDs, our two-story cookie cutter homes and gas-guzzling SUVs. Let us promise to not open our overstocked pantries and refrigerators, or to go out and eat at one of many corporate controlled franchise restaurants offering vast assortments of gargantuan meals. We should ignore the opulence of our society that dwells permanently in our minds that makes us forget the severe indigence and suffering that transpires beyond our shores and borders.

In short, we should come out of our luxurious bubble that has shielded us from the evils inflicted on billions of humans that have not been as privy to a life of safety and security. Let us traverse the road of reality, sojourning through history and through mirages of hidden truths. Let us dive into the making of the Evil Empire so that we may see what our government has and continues to do in our name. The road ahead will not be easy to swallow or comprehend, yet we must open our minds to the possibility that what has happened is real and what is occurring is not fiction. Only then will we understand why our hands are smeared in the blood of tens of millions of human cadavers and countless more whose lives and futures have been devastated at the hands of the United States of America. Only by knowing who and what we are can we correct ourselves.

Our society is ingrained with an appetite for violence. It is apparent in the over 11,000 murders by firearm per year. It is apparent in Hollywood's gratuitous assembly-line of blood and gore, violence, devastation and death. It is visible in the ever-growing number of video games sold to our children depicting egregious violence, killings and bloodletting. Our society celebrates violence, be it through football, hockey or boxing, television, cartoons and music. Even Disney cartoon movies have as a main theme battles of good versus evil and the plethora of violence, destruction and death associated with them. The US military industrial complex supplies the world with 45 percent of all weapons for sale on the market.

Yet without public demand for violence none of the above would exist. It is the citizenry – with complicit help from government and corporate media – that drives the engine that conditions us toward accepting and participating in our violent society.

Violence in America is today a manifestation of our society and history, of a never ending thirst for blood, conquest, oppression and death that sprung from the first moment of Puritan arrival. Before and after the Revolutionary war Americans participated in one of the greatest acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing the world has ever witnessed. Millions upon millions of native Indians were slaughtered, raped and cleansed from the lands of North America. Manifest destiny ransacked from Atlantic to Pacific like a devastating hurricane, destroying everything native people thought precious and sacred. Wars against native populations extinguishing the energies of men, women, children and elderly alike. The American thirst for violence had been born. The addiction for blood would become insatiable and never ending.

Native peoples' lands were taken from them; lies, manipulations and betrayals erased their tribes from the homes they once knew and cherished. Replanted into hellholes called reservations, Indians were left to rot away their existence, given only the evil of Firewater to wash away their inner demons and scars in a land both alien and inhospitable. Hidden from the voracious Anglo onslaught, Indians of talent and ability were left to dwell on a future lost through the disappearance of opportunity. Disease, depression, lack of education and incessant poverty soon followed. Demons of a life wasted and opportunity lost consumed those who escaped the barrel of a gun and the virus of the white man.

Entire ethnicities, tribes, languages and cultures were eviscerated from the face of the Earth by those whose importance of property and ownership superceded the respect for human life. Beautiful peoples took with them to the grave lives living free, roaming pristine and untouched forests, deserts and prairies, being one with nature, respecting everything that breathed and a spirituality that has much to offer our capitalistic civilization. Advanced civilizations in wisdom and spirituality, yet seen as savages to the "more sophisticated" European people, native peoples' way of life was vanished, never to fully flourish again. Millions ethnically cleansed, millions whose lives were made barren, all making way for the destructive bulldozer ravaging land and man. The Evil Empire had sprung to life, a trail of victims visible everywhere the giant walked.

Not satisfied with the killing of millions of native peoples, the citizens of America next decided to unleash hell onto each other. As a result the American Civil War of the latter part of the 19th century killed more than 600,000 people, leaving the United States mourning for brothers and sons, fathers and grandfathers. Graveyards littered the landscape; battlefields were transformed into fields of death and devastation. Divided a prospering nation stood, soaked in blood and agony, splitting apart families, creating widows and orphans. In the end, hundreds of thousands lay dead, many more maimed and wounded, all to quench the voracious appetite for violence, death and destruction.

The Evil Empire's cannibalism was only the beginning of a much greater disease. [...]

Lands and People of the Middle East

With wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Evil Empire has killed tens of thousands of Arabs in the last two years. The remnants of cluster bombs and depleted uranium used by the American war machine have and will continue to kill and maim thousands more in the coming decades.

US sponsored sanctions on Iraq, in essence nothing more than a cruel form of economic genocide that was imposed in the aftermath of Gulf War I, unleashed its inherent evils for the next decade, resulting in the death of up to a million men, women and children who were denied basic necessities needed for survival. This form of crime against humanity enforced by the Evil Empire was in essence a quasi-concentration camp in which a million humans perished due to the American government's collective punishment on an entire population.

Iraq, needless to say, has suffered tremendously both by the one-time American lackey whose tyrannical dictatorship led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and by US wars and sanctions. The Evil Empire has made the Cradle of Civilization a walking wasteland of death, suffering and destruction, a barren desert whose fertility has been eroded.

For years the people of Iran were forced to endure the horrors and despotism of the shah, an American proctor and puppet that subjected his people to tyranny, oppression and exploitation. Democracy was subverted, many innocent civilians were killed or disappeared and the nation fell into decay while the shah and his cronies basked in the splendor of oil's rewards. When the masses finally revolted, the American embassy was attacked and destroyed, a clear symbol of who the people thought was responsible for their misery. The Great Satan was purged from the lands of Persia and to this day has not returned.

Today, Saudi Arabia is controlled by a US-protected monarchy loyal to its masters. Meanwhile, the people linger in growing poverty and desperation. Democracy is non-existent, as are freedoms and liberties. As a result, many living below human dignity are turning toward resistance and resentment that is manifesting itself in a growing hatred of both the Saud monarchy and American "Crusaders" despoiling sacred Muslim lands.

In Turkey, the Kurdish minority has for years been ethnically cleansed by the Turkish government. Hundreds of thousands of people have died and many more maimed and injured thanks to the vast, modern and sophisticated array of weapons and military hardware provided by the Evil Empire, who has turned a blind eye to the genocide and repression that has brought misery and suffering to the Kurds of Turkey. The Empire's failure to act in the face of such crimes against humanity and its approval of arms sales to the Turkish military makes it complicit in the systemic annihilation and plight of the Kurdish people.

Through one-sided political support for the crimes against humanity being perpetrated by Israel against the occupied and oppressed Palestinian people, the Evil Empire's hands are smeared in the blood of a people robbed of their land, raped of their livelihood and dehumanized of their existence. It is American Apache helicopters, Abrams tanks, Caterpillar bulldozers, fast missiles, smart bombs, weapons and bullets that are decimating an entire population, making prisoners of millions who now live in Bantustans and ghettos.

This, along with billions of dollars in financial and military aid to the Israeli government has morphed the crimes of the IDF with the interests of the Evil Empire, forming a Molotov cocktail of destruction, dehumanization and death. The apartheid wall being built today that is usurping Palestinian land, crops, water, homes and lives is in large part possible thanks to American taxpayer money. The Evil Empire's role in Israel's treatment of the native Palestinian people is apparent in the geopolitical protection afforded the country by the US and its role in vetoing UN condemnations of Israeli behavior and by its tacit support for Israeli actions in the occupied territories.

The Evil Empire is once more involved in the devastation of millions of people who have been robbed of their lands and lives, live in utter decay and dehumanization, suffer severe forms of collective punishment and are being ethnically cleansed in a most meticulous and abhorrent way. Palestinians are today living in a state of apartheid, in ghettos resembling large concentration camps, under the watchful eyes of a trigger-happy occupying force, struggling to survive on the measly crumbs Israel throws their way and with the knowledge that their endemic and ruinous plight is endorsed by the greatest "purveyor of democracy" and "defender of human rights" the world has ever seen.

In Central Asia, the Evil Empire is systematically forging alliances with a new group of tyrannical dictators that have subjugated their people to despotism. In these nations, democracy is dwindling, freedoms are hardly existent and the decay of liberties is being exacerbated. Torture, death, misery and poverty are hallmarks of the new group of dictators now entrenched in the pockets of the US government. It seems that when vast oil wealth is involved the US altruistic fight for democracy is a principle that is easily disposed of and forgotten. The struggle for human rights and dignity the US so boldly declares as a priority is erased and ignored.

The Evils Done in our Name

The devastation of peoples throughout the planet directly or indirectly sponsored by the Evil Empire, who through no fault of their own are denied rights, freedoms and democracy, are subjected to gross human rights violations and persecutions and face death or disappearance is a crime against humanity. It is state sponsored terrorism and genocide. Market colonialism has decimated both countries and the lives of their inhabitants. Economic genocide has wrought suffering and increased indigence, robbing millions of education, healthcare, opportunity and livable wages. The world's people have in many instances been enslaved to cater to the interests of the Evil Empire and its minions.

The evils done in our name have created worldwide animosity and hatred. They have given rise to desperation and humiliation that is today manifested by the growing number of humans fighting the system that has been imposed onto them. From Al-Qaeda to Iraqi freedom fighters to the Venezuelan poor to enlightened Europeans to the growing number of sprouting "terror" groups franchising around the world, the people of the world are growing frustrated at the Evil Empire's devastation of peoples in order to suit its interests, both corporate and governmental.

Billions are searing in anger at the US government and by indirect complicity at its citizens as well. We are no longer welcome neighbors in the community of nations. To be American is to be scorned and castigated, to be unwelcome in the lands of the exploited and subjugated. The evils done in our name are beginning to have karmic repercussions through out he globe, and the danger now present will affect us all who have been made blind to the crimes against humanity and the planet being committed by theEvil Empire.

In the last 200 years the United States has killed, directly or indirectly, tens of millions of human beings, surpassing the horrors of evildoers past and present. It has created untold levels of suffering and depravity, sending untold millions to the sewers of poverty and dehumanization. These truths are not easy to swallow, or to accept, yet they are as real as the air we breathe. It is time we accept the evils done in our name.

George W. Bush is but the latest in a long line of presidents who have continued the cycle of violence our nation has such a propensity towards. America, it seems, gravitates naturally towards violence and destruction, perhaps due to the fact that besides 9/11, we have never seen the true horrors of what man is capable of unleashing onto his fellow man. The reality that afflicts billions is to us a distant haze of blurriness. We have not been made privy to the suffering and misery, the death, disease and maiming of a land in war, an environment in flames and a people in battle. Our luck has been the world's misfortune.

Our society has been made blind to endemic and ceaseless worldwide suffering at the hands of our government. Through years of conditioning we now fail to blink at the carnage our military engenders around the world. From the cradle to the grave we are subjected to incessant violence, whether real or fictional, that makes us immune to the torment prevalent in the rest of the world. Through careful manipulation we are made to believe that war is peace, destruction is prosperity and murder is life.

The world burns while we live lives of consumption and production, happy worker bees stuck in hour long commutes working most of our productive lives. We live in peace and harmony at home, distracted from reality by our television screens and movie theatres, by our lavish lifestyles and wasteful society. In the land of the individual the communality of peoples is an alien principle. Content, conformist and passive thanks to our nation of plenty, we care not for peoples outside our borders. We have everything we need, after all, and a plethora of distractions in our daily lives prevents us from even considering that a larger world exists beyond our shores.

The impenetrable bubble we live in protects us from empathizing with billions whose lives have been made worse since the birth of the Evil Empire. We have been made ignorant to that which has been unleashed onto the world and that owes its existence to our continued lifestyle and complicity by acquiescence and failure to act. The Evil Empire runs rampant through the planet, devouring all in its path, enslaving millions and conquering and despoiling lands. Meanwhile, inside the belly of the beast we sit, basking in extravagance and splendor, complacent in life and circumstance, unwilling to open our eyes and minds to the evils done in our name.

Manuel Valenzuela is social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst, Internet columnist and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel now on sale by A collection of essays, Beyond the Smoking Mirror: Reflections on America and Humanity, will be published in early 2005. His articles appear in alternative news websites and you can find him regularly on His unique style and powerful writing is read internationally and seeks to expose truths and realities confronting humanity today. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at A diverse collection of many of his essays and articles can be found below:
Articles by Manuel Valenzuela, 2004
and at at my archives

Comment: An objective and thorough analysis of history indicates that all great empires eventually saw their "impenetrable bubbles " burst. In reading the signs, it appears that the US will be no different. It is only a question of time.

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Non-Americans dread Bush
Sun, October 24, 2004
By Eric Margolis -- Contributing Foreign Editor

WHAT DO a Pathan tribesman in Pakistan, a factory hand in Shanghai, a grape picker in Chile, and a Canadian autoworker have in common?
Their lives are all shaped by decisions made by the White House, the closest thing we have today to world government.

It's unfair the whole world cannot somehow vote in the upcoming U.S., elections since they affect all mankind. Maybe the rest of the world could vote and count as one U.S. state, Internationalia. However, if this happened, the result would be a landslide for John Kerry. The vision of a re-elected George W. Bush ruling the world does not sit well. Few non-Americans know anything about Kerry, but that hardly matters. He is popular everywhere abroad simply because he looks civilized and is the un-Bush.

My eagle-eyed friend, Countess Pamela de Maigret, brought my attention to an interesting Internet site, This site tabulates straw votes for Bush and Kerry from around the world. Though unscientific, and distorted in its U.S. section by Bush unlovers, it provides a good sample of world thinking about the election.
Overwhelming totals

Among 42,721 global respondents, Kerry leads Bush by 88% to 11%. In Brazil, Kerry leads by 91%; by 79% in Italy; 91% in France; 71% in India; 77% in Japan; 11% in Kuwait; 89% in Germany; 81% in Britain; 17% in Israel; 61% in Nigeria.

Only in the African state of Niger does Bush lead, by 71%. Bush and Kerry are tied, oddly, in Libya, North Korea, Christmas Island and Niue, wherever that is.

What deeply alarms many non-Americans is the prospect of a second Bush term dominated by a coalition of evangelical Christians, Christian "Rapturists," American partisans of Israel's PM Ariel Sharon, and rural voters from the Deep South who reject evolution and think French is the native language of Satan.

These groups tend to share a loathing of Europe, the UN, the Pope, Muslims in general, Arabs in particular, intellectuals, anything international, and believe themselves God's chosen people. Some born-again Christians see Bush as a kind of messiah.

There is deep concern abroad that American politics is falling increasingly under the influence of extreme religious groups at a time when secularism is accepted across Europe and non-Muslim Asia.

Many Catholics will vote against Kerry on their bishops' orders. Many American supporters of Greater Israel, who shape U.S. foreign policy these days, believe they are fulfilling God's commands. The 41% of Americans calling themselves born-again Christians are being whipped into a pro-Bush frenzy by many of their preachers. So much for separation of church and state.

America's fastest-growing cult, the Rapturists, believe once Greater Israel is created and all Jews converted to Christianity, they will be instantly transported to heaven while the world will be destroyed and all non-believers slowly burned alive.

Their unofficial bible, the Left Behind series of books, has sold nearly 60 million copies. They are Bush's most ardent supporters.
Extremist groups

Such extremist groups would merely be curiosities of America's outback were they not so dominant in Republican circles. A recent survey shows born-agains in general comprising 22% of voters in Pennsylvania, 36% in Missouri, 30% in Iowa, 27% in Ohio -- all key battleground states that will decide the election.

A New York Times survey found big-city voters backed Kerry 69% to only 23% for Bush; and, in small cities, 53% to 40%. But in suburbs, Bush leads 50% to 42%. In rural areas and the south, Bush leads by a whopping 55% to 35%.

More educated Americans back Kerry, while Bush speaks for those who love his folksy ways, mangled English, jingoism and religious pretensions.

However, a president who says he communicates with God regularly and claims to be on a "divine mission" makes the world very uneasy.
Who will the Lord order Bush to "liberate" next? Iran and Syria? Sinful France, with its cigarettes, wine and wild sex? Lefty Canadians with all that water and oil? Or the Chinese, who reject Christian values and work too cheap?

Add to the Bush vote the 20% of Americans who believe Elvis is still alive, and you end up with an unbeatable majority.

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America's hidden vote
Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday October 21, 2004
The Guardian

Passing almost without notice earlier this month, the public release of The Civil Rights Record of the George W Bush Administration - the official staff report prepared by the US Civil Rights Commission - whose submission is required by federal law, was blocked by the Republican commissioners. None the less, it was posted on the commission's website: "This report finds that President Bush has neither exhibited leadership on pressing civil rights issues, nor taken actions that matched his words."

Bush has held the Civil Rights Commission in contempt since its June 2001 report on Election Practices in Florida During the 2000 Campaign. Then it concluded: "The commission's findings make one thing clear: widespread voter disenfranchisement - not the dead-heat contest - was the extraordinary feature in the Florida election ... The disenfranchisement of Florida's voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of black voters."

Vast efforts to mobilise or suppress African-American, Hispanic and Democratic voters have already reached a greater level of intensity than in any modern campaign. The Republicans in Ohio, for example, have attempted to toss out new Democrat registrations because it was claimed they were written on the wrong weight of paper, a gambit overruled by a federal court. From Pennsylvania to Arizona, a Republican consulting firm is discouraging new Democratic voters from getting on the rolls.

Meanwhile, the Democratic party has more than 10,000 lawyers deployed to defend against voter suppression, 2,000 stationed in Florida; civil rights groups are sending out more than 6,000 lawyers. Bush v Gore remains an open wound; and now the battle over voting rights, over democracy itself, is being fought again.

Since 2002, when Republicans exploited terrorism to besmirch the patriotism of Democrats in the midterm elections, what can only be called a new Democratic party has been summoned into existence by extra-party groups. More than 100,000 activists are tramping through the precincts. In Ohio alone, more than 300,000 new Democratic voters have been added, Cecile Richards, director of America Votes, told me. These registrations of literally millions of new voters did not just happen; they were organised.

The polls, nearly all showing a dead-even race, fail to account for the new voters, who have no past records. They do not measure those for whom a mobile is their main phone - 6% of the population - who will vote Democrat by a margin of two-and-a-half to one.

The Democracy Corps poll, however, filters in newly registered voters. Four months ago, the newly registered made up only 1% of the sample. One month ago, they comprised 4%. Now they are at 7% and rising. And they will vote for Kerry over Bush by 61% to 37%.

Bush's job approval has fallen now to 47 in this poll; presidents below 50 always lose. Bush has not campaigned in Ohio for three weeks, though he plans to stop there this week. Unemployment continues to rise in the state. "There is no other explanation for his absence," says Stanley Greenberg, Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign pollster, "other than his numbers go down when he's there. His position on jobs is implausible."

Democracy Corps research shows that best-case arguments for either candidate shift no voters. The deciding factor will be turnout: the higher the turnout the larger the vote for Democrats.

Since September 11 infused Bush with a mission, he has evoked hovering angels, crusades, mushroom clouds, evildoers, shades of a universe of death. His imagery induces a dynamic of paralysis before the threat and fervour in embrace of his absolute reassurance and power. Dread without end requires faith without limit.

Yet Bush found himself on the defensive when the New York Times reported on the closed gathering of his campaign contributors, where he revealed his radical programme for his second term - rightwing capture of the supreme court, privatising social security, turning over national land to the oil companies, more tax cuts. Kerry was prompted to raise these issues. And Bush whined that Kerry was practising "the politics of fear". The next day Dick Cheney projected terrorists exploding nuclear weapons within the US, and offered Bush as saviour from looming apocalypse.

"No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as terror," wrote Edmund Burke. But not even the eve of destruction will stifle turnout.

Comment: Blumenthal can dream that the new voters will change something. We think, however, that those who organised and carried out 911 will not allow something as outmoded as an election to stop their plans.

Bush will become more arrogant and more brazen next time around.

You can take that to the bank.

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More on the "1984" election
October 23, 2004

A lot of folks have been talking about "Animal Farm" in the wake of the "Wolves" and "Eagle" ads, but the Orwell motif that dominates this election is still "1984."

Now comes news from here in Pennsylvania that you can be barred from a Bush campaign rally and even bodily searched if you're identified as "a Democratic supporter." No signs, no yelling, no snarky T-shirts. Just a known Democrat (We guess they all look alike.)

"The spotters, and eventually police, asked the Democratic supporter to remove a jacket, a sweater and some other articles of clothing in what was described as basically a police search."

Even worse, a U.S. Army soldier who's bound for Iraq in two weeks -- a registered Republican, no less -- was barred from the rally for apparently associating with this Demo sympathizer.

It happened yesterday in Wilkes-Barre, and was written about in the Citizens' Voice newspaper there.

According to the account, the 27-year-old soldier from the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre region -- who didn't want to be identified by name for obvious reasons -- was an undecided voter who wanted to hear what the president had to say.

While waiting in line, he noticed a stranger standing alone and invited the person to stand with him. 'I didn't think that would be a problem,' he said. It turned out to be. Individuals from the Bush campaign spotted the individual with the soldier and identified the person as a Democratic supporter.

Amazingly, the unnamed Democrat -- who didn't complain about being searched -- had a ticket to the rally but still wasn't let in. And then it gets even creepier.

The Bush people claimed the Democrat wasn't on a "master list." The soldier asked to see this list but the organizers said "they didn't have it." But, they soon told the solider that he wasn't it, either -- and they turned him away from the event as well.

The story says that the soldier who came to the event undecided walked away vowing to volunteer for the Kerry campaign.

"I thought the whole Bush message was compassionate conservatism. I didn't see anything compassionate from the Bush people."

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Kerry's Name Left Off Absentee Ballots
POSTED: 2:30 pm EDT October 19, 2004

CINCINNATI, Ohio -- At least two Hamilton County voters have received absentee ballots without Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's name.

The voters received ballots with the words "CANDIDATE REMOVED" printed in the space where Kerry's and running mate John Edwards' names were supposed to appear.

Elections officials believe the error only occurred on the two ballots. But they're trying to contact 20 other people who received absentee ballots in the area.

"It's a screw-up," said Hamilton County Board of Elections chairman Tim Burke, who also happens to be county Democratic chairman. "The tragic thing is that even though I think we will have a very fair and accurate count here, this will cause people to question the accuracy of our operation."

The board of elections prepares 72 different ballots for political jurisdictions in the county, with variations among each ballot.

Elections officials believed the error was limited to a single variation of one of the 72 ballots, said John Williams, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

Williams said he called one of the voters in Alaska and sent him a complete ballot. The other voter has already received a new ballot.

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UK paper's anti-Bush ploy gets hacked, sacked
By Matt Hines
Staff Writer, CNET
October 22, 2004, 3:18 PM PDT

The Guardian, a London-based newspaper, ended a letter-writing campaign aimed at defeating U.S. President George W. Bush after a Web site hosting the promotion was attacked by hackers.

Ian Katz, an editor at the British newspaper who thought up "Operation Clark County," said in a letter posted to the company's Web site on Thursday that despite garnering an overwhelming response from the public, the project was being scrapped. The campaign asked for non-American volunteers to pen letters to undecided voters in Clark County, Ohio--which the Guardian had identified as a crucial region in a battleground election state--urging them to vote against Bush in next month's presidential election.

According to Katz' letter, more than 4,000 people visited the Guardian's Web site to be matched with Clark County voters during the first 24 hours after the campaign was launched on Oct. 13. By the next day, the total had risen to 7,000, and by last Sunday some 14,000 individuals had volunteered to write to the U.S. voters.

However, Katz said the Guardian's Web site came under attack on Sunday, by "presumably politically inspired" hackers. The editor said he and 53 members of the newspaper's staff were also buried under an onslaught of more than 700 spam e-mails each, many of which promoted conservative political causes.

Katz wrote in his letter that the effort was launched as something of a joke, but took on a more serious tenor as angry letters began flooding into the Guardian from Americans incensed by the plan. Despite taking the turn for the worse, the editor said his project still had its intended effect, provoking discussion of the election.

"We set out to get people talking and thinking about the impact of the U.S. election on citizens of other countries, and that is what we have done," Katz wrote. "For the Guardian to have experienced such a backlash to an editorial project is extraordinary, but the numbers of complaints are thoroughly outdone by the number of people who engaged positively with the project."

Comment: "Politically inspired hackers" - as in "terrorists"?! Oh, excuse us - we sometimes forget that when the law is broken by those who oppose Bush, they are terrorists; but when the law is broken by those who support Bush, they are considered "politically inspired".

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Bill To Rename MN VA Medical Center For Wellstone, Stalled
Oct 24, 2004

WASHINGTON - The effort to rename the Minnesota Veterans Affairs Medical Center after the late Senator Paul Wellstone has stalled because of opposition from some Minnesota Republicans.

Representative John Kline of Burnsville says the hospital should be named for -- quote -- "a real war hero."

A bill in Congress would rename the hospital the Paul Wellstone Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. It was introduced by D-F-L Representative Betty McCollum and U-S Senator Bob Graham of Florida as a way to honor Wellstone's work on behalf of veterans.

Kline says Wellstone deserves honor and recognition -- but not at a veteran's hospital, since the senator didn't support defense budgets and had a reputation as an anti-war protester.

Opposition from Kline as well as representatives Gil Gutknecht and Mark Kennedy is enough to doom its chances this year.

McCollum notes that major national veterans groups and their Minnesota chapters also support the renaming.

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Precision-strike democracy
By Pepe Escobar

"In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's incredibly hard. It's ... and it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work. We're making progress. It is hard work." - President George W Bush, presidential debate, September 30

Fallujah may become the new Gaza. Or the new Grozny. Meanwhile, here's what's happening on the ground, as summarized to Asia Times Online by sources in Baghdad very close to the Fallujah resistance.

More than 1,000 marines, supported by a few hundred US-trained Iraqi forces, are entrenched less than a kilometer away from the city. There are constant firefights in the eastern and southern sectors. Thousands of families have left, "90% of them" - according to guerrilla leaders themselves - but there is no looting. Hospitals are badly overstretched. All shops are closed. And the city may be running out of food. The Americans even bombed a local institution - the top kebab restaurant in a city that prides itself on making the best kebabs in Iraq.

Fallujah at the moment is still basically controlled by the Iraqi police and dozens of different mujahideen groups from different clans. They all fiercely coordinate the defense strategy among themselves. The unifying banner is Islam, not the tribal clan. The police - as long as they are not perceived as being bossed around by Americans - and the mujahideen get along very well.

According to the sources in Baghdad, Fallujans vehemently deny the presence of foreign jihadis - including of course the ubiquitous al-Qaeda-linked Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, blamed by the Americans for virtually everything that happens in Iraq. The few dozen foreign jihadis who indeed may be in action have blended in smoothly. Fallujah tribal leaders are notoriously suspicious of foreigners: they fear they may be spying for the Americans. One of the key organizers of the guerrillas is Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed, a former senior Ba'athist official also badly wanted by the Americans.

The majority of Fallujah's citizens yearn for peace. But they also believe US military precision strikes - at times imprecision strikes - and the almost inevitable assault against the city will happen because the mujahideen, after three weeks and hundreds of casualties in April, inflicted a de facto military defeat on the Americans. Most citizens also believe the central government in Baghdad is split between President Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni sheikh, deeply involved in negotiations, and Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a Shi'ite surrounded by a coterie of thuggish neo-Ba'athists, taking orders from the Americans and ready to level Fallujah to the ground. The problem is negotiations collapsed last week. Senior Sunni clerics are adamant: if the Americans attack, they will issue a fatwa proclaiming jihad all over Iraqi territory.

"Democracy" is not the issue in Iraq. How can people believe that precision strikes against civilian neighborhoods are a persuasive weapon conducive to winning hearts and minds and establishing democracy? Moreover, there's nothing "precise" about it: US ground intelligence is sketchy at best.

There are only four United Nations officials on the ground preparing for the elections scheduled for January. Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and other Arab leaders had persuaded US President George W Bush to accept an Arab and Muslim peacekeeping force of several hundred to protect UN operations in Iraq. But then Washington killed the idea because the force would be under UN, not US, control. Arab countries refused to place their soldiers under US control. So the whole project died last month.

The Gaza model

Alain Joxe, sociologist, strategist and president of the French think-tank Cirpes, has written one of the most devastating indictments of the Bush neo-conservative world view ("L'Empire du Chaos", La Decouverte, 2002). Joxe goes to the heart of the matter when he analyzes the reason Israel is so important to Washington: "Israel maintains itself as a model of delocalized border demarcation that technically interests the American military: the creation of a prototype of suburban war, with no hope of peace, but placing the prototypes of the perimeters of fortified security which will be very useful if the Empire of Chaos of George W Bush keeps its progression."

So the key point in the whole exercise is the "military interest for a technical prototype". Joxe notes that nowhere else is the prototype of suburban war so precise and high-tech as in Palestine. He then analyzes how the Israeli model has been applied to the control of Baghdad. A natural development will be the application of the Gaza model - invasion, leveling of whole neighborhoods, lots of "collateral damage" - to Fallujah and other rebel Sunni triangle cities.

The US may level Fallujah in order to "save it" - yet another Vietnam recurrent theme. The Pentagon has identified up to 30 cities in Iraq that must be subdued before the January elections. But even assuming these 30 Fallujahs will be subdued - starting with precision strikes causing untold civilian deaths - it is impossible to occupy such vast "conquered" territory. The Americans cannot even control most of Baghdad - and the guerrillas are now systematically attacking the Green Zone itself. All major roads around Baghdad are intersected by the guerrillas, who in many cases have established their own checkpoints. The only way to get into Haifa Street, the so-called "Little Fallujah", which is only 400 meters away from the Green Zone, is with tanks supported by helicopters.

As a national liberation movement, the Iraqi guerrillas, increasingly unified, are bound ultimately to prevail. For example, the Imam al-Mujahideen Brigades, a resistance coalition now operating under a central command, has grown to more than 7,000 members all over Iraq. They have access to an unlimited supply of heavy weapons - strategically placed throughout Iraq before the US invasion. At least 25,000 guerrillas - and counting - may now be in operation all over Iraq.

'Free and fair'

As for the January elections, if they indeed take place, the majority of Iraqis, Sunnis and Shi'ites alike, will not accept the concept of a "free and fair election" with 138,000 US troops occupying the country. So most Sunnis will boycott them. Shi'ite rebel leader Muqtada al-Sadr is inclined to boycott them - because they are being imposed by the occupying power. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the influential Shi'ite leader, wants them as free and fair as humanly possible. But if he doesn't get what he wants, he can issue a fatwa and start a widespread urban revolution that will the make the US presence absolutely untenable. So even if elections do happen, few people will vote, there's a risk of enormous bloodshed and the whole process will be regarded as illegitimate.

The guerrillas meanwhile are succeeding in mobilizing the Iraqi urban masses, Sunni and Shi'ite, against the occupation. The ultimate aim of the guerrillas is urban revolution - exactly what Sistani will inspire if he does not get his fair elections. That's why every day the guerrillas target the already crumbling Iraqi infrastructure and bomb crowds of civilians: their aim is to make people realize that the key reason their lives are so miserable and dangerous is because the invaders refuse to leave.

Meanwhile, in the US elections

The European diplomat in Washington does not mince his words: "The Americans know they have lost the war in Iraq. What they are trying to find now is an exit strategy."

On the political level, inside the US, a dynamic is set: Bush desperately tries to destroy Democratic candidate John Kerry on the campaign trail as the Iraq bloodshed - more than 100 daily attacks - slowly destroys Bush. On the military level, inside Iraq, the Bush administration's counter-insurgency strategy consists of precision strikes in heavily populated neighborhoods - even during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan that is now under way. If Bush is re-elected, as administration strategists spin it in euphemism alley, "you'll see us move very vigorously", meaning the leveling of whole cities.

No amount of spin disguises the fact that the real reasons for the war on Iraq are related to Washington establishing an impregnable strategic beachhead in the oil-drenched Middle East, and at the same time eliminating any conceivable threat to the security of Israel. As the whole adventure went badly wrong, desperate measures applied: that's why Iraqification is being enforced - yet another reminder of another failed policy, Vietnamization.

The options left are all unsavory. 1) Washington may put at least 300,000 troops on the ground, instead of the current 138,000, and try to smash the resistance for good. This means an indefinite occupation - and no "democracy" at the end of the tunnel. 2) Washington may leave the whole mess as it is, with a constant stream of US casualties and the resistance getting stronger by the minute. 3) The US may pull out of Iraq entirely.

Even leading US military strategists and prominent retired generals are angrily denouncing, on the record, Bush's war as already lost. Seasoned intelligence analysts are resigned that the best hope is for an Iraqi "semi-failed state hobbling along with terrorists and a succession of weak governments". In any case, the neo-con model for a "reformed" Middle East is dead. There is also insistent chatter in Washington from "influential sources" that Bush, if re-elected, will beat a hasty retreat from Iraq. This is extremely unlikely. As the neo-cons consider Iraq the ultimate strategic prize, a retreat would never be considered.

So on the campaign trail, Bush cannot possibly tell the truth: his real choice, if re-elected, is to bury Iraq under an avalanche of precision strikes - as Richard Nixon imprecisely bombed Vietnam and Cambodia - or to manufacture an exit strategy under the cover of a barrage of spin. It's a lose-lose situation.

Kerry on the other hand has said on the record that, if elected, he will "double the number of Special Forces so that we can do the job we need to do with respect to fighting the terrorists around the world". So this would mean an equally unsavory global counter-insurgency, a gigantic operation modeled on the covert wars the US waged all over Latin America, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Indonesia and Afghanistan from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Whom is al-Qaeda voting for?

From al-Qaeda's point of view, the US leaving Iraq would be a major victory. And the US staying in Iraq - bleeding thousands of men and billions of dollars in the hands of a national guerrilla struggle - is also a major victory. So al-Qaeda does not bother to vote Bush or Kerry because the main sticking point - US policy in the Middle East, the thirst for oil, the one-sided support for Israel - will still be there. But in terms of accelerating a clash of civilizations - a total polarization between the Muslim world and the Christian world - of course al-Qaeda prefers a fundamentalist like Bush.

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U.S. Diplomat, Brecksville Heights Native, Killed In Iraq
4:59 pm EDT October 24, 2004

NewsChannel5 reported an attack at Camp Victory, the main U.S. base near Baghdad International Airport and what is supposed to be the most secure area in Baghdad has claimed the life of a U.S. State Department agent from northeast Ohio.

WEWS reported Ed Seitz was an extraordinary man from an extraordinary family. He was the son and brother of police officers and he also served on the Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland Police Departments.

Standing under an American flag at his home in Broadview Heights, his brother, Billy Seitz told WEWS that his brother had dedicated his life to state department security.

"He was 100 percent into the government and 100 percent into doing what he wanted to do to defeat terrorism," he said. "And that's what he did. That's what he gave his life for."

Seitz, a 41-year-old Holy Name High School graduate, died early Sunday morning when an explosive was lobbed into the green zone.

"He was just an amazing man," said his sister-in-law Colleen Seitz. "There was just nothing that he wouldn't do for someone. Every time he'd get on the phone ... what can I do for you? What do you need? What can I help with? That's just the way he was and that's what he was trying to do there."

Seitz had been in Iraq for less than three months.

He leaves behind a wife, parents and his brother, who through his pain takes great pride in what made his brother who he was.

"His work was his life," Billy Seitz said. “He did what he could to protect this country and to keep terrorism from your front door. That's what he did and how he did it. That's what made him Eddy. That's what made him my brother."

Secretary of State Colin Powel called Ed Seitz "a brave American, dedicated to his country and to a brighter future for the people of his Iraq."

Officials say Seitz is believed to be the first U.S. diplomat killed in Iraq since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March 2003

Comment: Not to diminish this tragic and unnecessary loss of life, but it does seem that Ed Seitz's own perceptions and beliefs were also partly responsible for his death.

From the article we learn that "He was 100 percent into the government and 100 percent into doing what he wanted to do to defeat terrorism".

An oxymoron if there ever was one.

The problem is that Ed bought into the official lie that the terrorists are "over there", when the facts clearly show that the real terrorists are those that he has chosen to serve, and they are poised to steal another election.

From the sound of it, it seems like Ed was a pretty decent human being, as his sister-in-law describes him: "There was just nothing that he wouldn't do for someone. Every time he'd get on the phone ... what can I do for you? What do you need? What can I help with? That's just the way he was..."

How did such a caring man come to be in Iraq and after only three months, end up being killed by an explosive device in "what is supposed to be the most secure area in Baghdad"?

He bought into the lie, and made decisions based upon that lie, and in the end it cost him his life.

How ironic that he died protecting the very thing he thought he was fighting against.

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Security expert warns Internet pharmacies at risk from terrorists
October 24, 2004

TORONTO (CP) - A Canadian-based security expert will tell a panel on Internet pharmacies this week that mail-order drug companies could become targets for terrorists.

Alan Bell of Globe Risk International Security Consulting said a study he completed of 18 Internet pharmacies in Canada suggests the websites for the businesses could be compromised by terrorist groups working outside the country.

Bell, based in Toronto, is scheduled to present an overview of his study at a panel discussion on cross-border trade in prescription drugs hosted by the Canadian American Business Council in Montreal on Wednesday.

"I'm in no shape or form for or against either side of the argument," Bell said, referring to the prickly issue that mail-order drugs from Canada has become in the U.S. election campaign.

"I'm a consultant who did a study."

On average, drug prices in Canada are 30 per cent lower than in the United States, and in some specific cases can cost 80 per cent less north of the border, according to a U.S. congressional study.

U.S. President George W. Bush has questioned the safety of imported Canadian drugs, while his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, ordered several state firms to stop selling drugs from Canada pending an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Bell said a terrorist organization could easily set up a website that looks like a Canadian pharmacy, but is based somewhere else. U.S. customers who provide their credit card numbers and order prescription drugs from the site would have no idea where the drugs were coming from, he said.

He said terrorists could use the site to fund illegal activities, or the drugs they ship could be poisonous.

"You don't know who you're dealing with."

Bell would not divulge who commissioned his study, saying only that it was a law firm.

Dave MacKay, an advocate with a group that represents 35 mail order pharmacies in Canada, already worries drug companies will use the study as part of their efforts to keep Americans from accessing cheaper Canadian prescriptions.

MacKay, who has also been invited to speak on the panel, said that during a conference call he took part in on Friday, representatives from the business council, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and a drug maker discussed how to spin the study.

MacKay said he believes the participants in the conference call were so candid because they were unaware he represented Internet pharmacies.

"They feel that terrorism is now the button that they're going to push," said MacKay, speaking from Winnipeg.

The Canadian Press contacted the business council on Sunday, but phone messages were not returned.

Bell, who was also a participant in the conference call, said MacKay is not giving an accurate account of the discussion. Bell said he's only going to be speaking for a few minutes on the panel, which won't be long enough to generate controversy.

"The fix isn't in," Bell said. "There's nothing to get hyped about."

Comment: Prescription medicines from Canada cost anywhere from 30% - 80% less than the same drugs from the U.S., even though the medicines all come from the same U.S. companies.

This phony and over-hyped scare of terrorists impersonating a Canadian internet pharmacy seems to have more to do with the Pharmaceutical company's bottom line, rather than a genuine concern for the health of the US population.

Perhaps the secret law firm who commissioned the study is acting on behalf of these corporate interests.

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Australian troops claim they were used as guinea pigs

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) said yesterday only five soldiers had suffered adverse reactions in defence trials of a widely used anti-malarial drug, rejecting claims of widespread side-effects including psychosis.

The ADF was responding to a report that hundreds of Australian soldiers serving in East Timor were ordered to take the drug Lariam as part of tests to observe side-effects, which can also include depression and paranoia.

An ADF spokeswoman said Defence's preferred anti-malarial was the antibiotic Doxycycline.

But the few personnel unable to tolerate that drug could be given Lariam, which was also known as Mefloquine.

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper said a Brisbane law firm was set to launch a class action on behalf of hundreds of soldiers who said they were used as guinea pigs to test the effects of Mefloquine while serving in East Timor.

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Papua New Guinea volcano erupts
By Charles Stevens in Port Moresby
25 oct 04
A VOLCANO has erupted in northern Papua New Guinea, raising concerns for the safety of thousands of villagers.

Mount Iabu on the northern PNG island of Manam started throwing up lava and ash over the weekend, prompting authorities to advise nearly 3000 villagers to move to safer parts of the island, authorities said today.

A spokesman for the National Disaster Management Office said there had been no reports of casualties but the island remained on a state of high alert with fears of further eruptions in the coming days.

He said the eruption had sent thick clouds of smoke 6000m into the air and lava flowing into the surrounding sea.

"We are assisting the people on Manam Island to move to safer parts of the island where they can receive shelter and food," he said.

Mount Iabu is about 100km from the resort town of Madang in the country's north-west. [...]

Mount Iabu is one of 14 active volcanos in PNG.

Comment: Another sign that the Ring of Fire is coming to life...

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Strong aftershocks hit earthquake-hit central Japan, death toll rises to 25

Time is GMT 8 hours
Posted: 25 October 2004 1627 hrs
OJIYA, Japan: More strong aftershocks jolted central Japan as exhaustion took its toll on thousands preparing for a third night in shelters after the country's worst earthquake in nearly a decade that left 25 people dead.

About 380 tremors have followed the first quake of 6.8 on the Richter scale late Saturday in Niigata, a coastal area 200 kilometres (125 miles) northwest of Tokyo, with the biggest Monday measuring 5.6 at 6:05 am (2105 GMT Sunday).

Police said 25 people had died from the quakes with the death toll rising as residents -- particularly the elderly -- are worn down physically and mentally.

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Japan's Bond Futures Advance to 5-Month High After Earthquake

Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's bond futures rose to a five- month high as the country's deadliest earthquake in almost a decade and oil prices near a record sent stocks tumbling.

Ten-year bonds rose for a third day in four as quakes in northwestern Japan killed 24 people, injuring more than 2,100, bringing down bridges and derailing trains. Surging crude-oil prices also threaten growth in the world's second-largest economy.

"Investors are feeling safer buying bonds,'' said Yoshiaki Murakawa, who helps oversee the equivalent of about $2.81 billion at Societe Generale Asset Management Co., a unit of France's No. 3 bank. "The earthquake is hurting investor confidence on stocks after surging oil prices raised concern about slowing corporate profits and economic growth.''

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Japanese Stocks Slide After Quake; Millea, Nissan Pace Declines

Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stocks fell after the country had its biggest earthquake since 1995 and the dollar fell against the yen. Insurers including Millea Holdings Inc. and exporters such as Nissan Motor Co. slid.

"The biggest excuse that people have to sell is the earthquake and what we are seeing today is a bit of knee-jerk reaction,'' said Pascal Masse, who helps manage the equivalent of $900 million at Aberdeen Asset Management Asia Ltd. in Singapore. "The weaker dollar and the resulting stronger yen are probably also having a bit of an impact on export-related stocks.''

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Dollar Skids to Lows Versus Euro, Yen
By Kazunori Takada
Sun Oct 24,11:23 PM ET

TOKYO (Reuters) - The dollar tumbled to eight-month lows against the euro and six-month troughs versus the yen on Monday as worries persisted about the outlook for the U.S. economy.

The dollar also fell sharply to eight-year lows against the Swiss franc and two-month lows versus sterling, with traders citing a close upcoming U.S. presidential election as another reason to sell the currency.

"People are talking about all kinds of things that are bad for the dollar," said Mitsuo Imaizumi, deputy general manager of forex and international bonds at Daiwa Securities SMBC.

"We have the twin deficits, officials hinting a weaker dollar and (Democratic candidate John) Kerry's close fight. All these things are being talked about in the market."

Dealers say a victory for Sen. Kerry over President Bush would be a signal to sell the dollar since his administration would likely be less tolerant about any Japanese intervention to stem the yen's rise. [...]

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10 Killed When NASCAR Owner's Plane Crashes
UPDATED: 7:41 PM EDT October 24, 2004

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Ten people died Sunday in the crash of an airplane owned by the Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR racing team, the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed.

The plane was on its way to a NASCAR race in Martinsville. Eight passengers and two pilots died in the crash, the NTSB said. [...]

NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said the FAA has notified the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating to determine what happened.

Murray said the Beech 200 took off from Concord, N.C., and crashed in the Bull Mountain area about seven miles west of the Martinsville airport at about 12:30 p.m.

Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael Bailey said rescue workers could not immediately reach the crash site because of the rough terrain.

Hendrick owns the teams of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Terry Labonte and Brian Vickers in the Nextel Cup Series.

Johnson won Sunday' race at Martinsville Speedway.

Hunter said NASCAR learned of the plane's disappearance during the race and withheld the information from the Hendrick drivers until afterward.

All the Hendrick drivers were summoned to the NASCAR hauler immediately after the race and Johnson was excused from Victory Lane.

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Fighters Escort Small Planes Away From Bush Rallies
POSTED: 3:48 pm EDT October 23, 2004

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Jet fighters have intercepted a pair of small planes that flew too near President George W. Bush's campaign rallies in Florida.

In both cases, the planes were escorted to nearby airfields and the White House said the president was never in any danger.

In one incident, a pair of F-15's streaked over Space Coast Stadium -- a baseball field in Melbourne, Florida -- to challenge a plane as Bush spoke.

The plane landed at an airport near Cocoa Beach and the pilot was questioned by Secret Service agents.

In another incident, a plane violated restricted airspace over Ty Cobb field in Lakeland.

That plane landed at Winter Haven and its pilot was also questioned.
FAA spokesman Greg Martin says further action is possible.

Reporters covering Bush's campaign event said the military jets drowned out Bush's words at Space Coast Stadium.

The activity in the sky repeatedly distracted the crowd from Bush's speech.

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Stray Bomb Lands On Pa. Hiking Trail
POSTED: 1:34 pm EDT October 23, 2004

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. -- Military officials are investigating why a jet fighter dropped a 25-pound practice bomb on a Pennsylvania hiking trail.

No one was injured when the cast-iron bomb accidentally fell about 10,000 feet earlier this month. But one hiker was close enough to hear the thud.

The grapefruit-sized bomb left a crater about six inches wide in the trail, which runs along an abandoned rail line near Fort Indiantown Gap.

A military spokesman said two A-10 Thunderbolts were flying a routine training mission when one jet dropped a bomb about a mile from its intended target.

The jet has since been grounded. Investigators said they've ruled out pilot error.

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Canadian Forces reservist detained after wild 200-kilometre chase in Quebec
October 24, 2004

QUEBEC (CP) - A Canadian Forces reservist was arrested Sunday after police were led on a 200-kilometre car chase by a man wearing a mask and combat dress.

Police said a man damaged a cruiser at CFB Bagotville, 200 kilometres north of Quebec City, fired shots at a house and at a provincial police detachment in Alma, Que. He then drove about 200 kilometres south to Quebec City, where he was eventually arrested as he tried to visit a relative.

A 20-year-old man was to appear in court on Monday.

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Pastor Charged After Calling Bible a Bomb
Wed Oct 20, 7:23 PM ET

(AP) - NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A pastor says he was "just kidding" when he told airport security he had a bomb, reached into his luggage and pulled out a Bible, declaring, "This is my bomb."  

Jose L. Gonzalez, a citizen of Spain living in Deltona, Fla., was arrested and charged Sunday with making a false statement.
Gonzalez was earlier reported to be part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, organization officials said Wednesday he is not a member of their group.

Seventh-day Adventist officials said Gonzalez is part of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, a group that broke from the denomination in the mid 1860s and headquartered in Roanoke,Va., officials said.

The incident occurred as security screeners at the Nashville International Airport were searching his carry-on bag.

Gonzalez, a passenger on an Orlando, Fla.-bound Delta flight, had already raised suspicion when screeners found a laptop computer that he said at first he didn't have.

An investigation determined that Gonzalez did not pose a threat, but the FBI still arrested and charged him with making the statement.

"Upon being questioned by airport security officers about the above episode, Gonzalez admitted having said that he had a bomb," a federal criminal complaint states, "but insisted that he was just kidding.

"He claimed he had used the term 'bomb' as a way of referring to the Bible as having the ability to change one's life," the complaint states. "He admitted that it had been stupid and that he had not intended any harm."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cliff Knowles presided over Gonzalez's initial court appearance Tuesday and advised him that, if convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a potential fine of $250,000.

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Chips Coming to a Brain Near You
By Lakshmi Sandhana
02:00 AM Oct. 22, 2004 PT

In this era of high-tech memory management, next in line to get that memory upgrade isn't your computer, it's you.

Professor Theodore W. Berger, director of the Center for Neural Engineering at the University of Southern California, is creating a silicon chip implant that mimics the hippocampus, an area of the brain known for creating memories. If successful, the artificial brain prosthesis could replace its biological counterpart, enabling people who suffer from memory disorders to regain the ability to store new memories.

And it's no longer a question of "if" but "when." The six teams involved in the multi-laboratory effort, including USC, the University of Kentucky and Wake Forest University, have been working together on different components of the neural prosthetic for nearly a decade. They will present the results of their efforts at the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting in San Diego, which begins Saturday.

While they haven't tested the microchip in live rats yet, their research using slices of rat brain indicates the chip functions with 95 percent accuracy. It's a result that's got the scientific community excited. [...]

Berger's team began its research by studying the re-encoding process performed by neurons in slices of rat hippocampi kept alive in nutrients. By stimulating these neurons with randomly generated computer signals and studying the output patterns, the group determined a set of mathematical functions that transformed any given arbitrary input pattern in the same manner that the biological neurons do. And according to the researchers, that's the key to the whole issue. [...]

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Indian Mounds Mystify Excavators
By Michelle Delio
02:00 AM Oct. 22, 2004 PT

COLLINSVILLE, Illinois -- A thousand years ago along the banks of the Mississippi River, in what is currently southeast Illinois, there was a city that now mystifies both archeologists and anthropologists.

At its zenith, around A.D. 1050, the city that is now called Cahokia was among the largest metropolitan centers in the world. About 15,000 people lived in the city, with another 15,000 to 20,000 residing in its surrounding "suburbs" and outlying farmlands. It was the region's capital city, a place of art, grand religious rituals and science.

But by 1300, the city had become a ghost town, its carefully built structures abandoned and its population dispersed.

Archeologists continue to comb what is now the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, looking for clues that will tell them what happened here -- why the city and its culture vanished and why the people who lived here built more than a hundred earthen mounds, many of which are still scattered across the countryside.

Cahokia is not the historical name of this city; the current name comes from the native people who were living in the area when French explorers arrived in the early 1600s. The city's authentic name -- the name given to it by its creators -- is lost to time, as its residents did not appear to have a written language.

But what really puzzles archeologists and anthropologists is that there are no legends, no records, no mention whatsoever of the once-grand city in the lore of any of the tribes -- Osage, Omaha, Ponca and Quapaw -- that are believed to be the direct descendents of the city's builders.

This odd silence on the matter of Cahokia has led some experts to theorize that something particularly nasty happened there. Possibilities include an ugly struggle for power following a leader's death, a government gone berserk, droughts, a period of very cold weather that killed the crops, disease.... All have been put forth as reasons for Cahokia's demise.

Whatever happened, it was bad enough that people just wanted to forget Cahokia, according to Tim Pauketat, an associate professor of archeology at the University of Illinois, who is excavating at Cahokia.

Despite its hard-luck reputation, the Cahokia site feels immensely peaceful today. There's no whiff of angst from an unsettled spirit world, no sense that anything awful happened here.

The 2,200-acre site contains the central portion of what had been roughly a 4,000-acre city. Scattered across the site are about 68 human-made mounds of various sizes, some no more than a gentle rise on the land, others reaching 100 feet toward the sky.

Originally, there might have been more than 120 mounds, but the locations of only 109 have been recorded. Many were altered or destroyed over the last three centuries by farming and construction projects.

The Cahokians made three different types of mounds -- pyramid-shaped (with flat tops upon which important officials' houses and ceremonial lodges were built), ridge-topped and conical. The latter two were used for burials of wealthy citizens and sacrificial victims.

Monks Mound, Cahokia's biggest mound, is a pyramid mound that rises 100 feet from its 14-acre base. Visitors can reach the top by climbing the 141 stairs that pass through the mound's three tiers. Archeologists have found that a large building -- 105 feet long, 48 feet wide and about 50 feet high -- was once positioned on top of the mound. It's believed to have been the home of Cahokia's rulers.

Radiocarbon sampling of the earth that makes up the mound, as well as tools and other artifacts discovered within it, indicates it took 250 years to build Monks Mound, from around A.D. 900 to 1150. The mound was constructed by hauling 22 million cubic feet of dirt from pits located a mile or so away. The dirt was piled into baskets and dragged to the site by workers.

These structures survived for close to two millennia before most were plowed over in the 19th century, paved over in the 20th century or destroyed by archaeologists digging to recover artifacts such as pipes, pottery and other religious relics.

A team from the University of Cincinnati's Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites, has been virtually piecing together the fragments of the immense existing earthworks built by three other prehistoric Native American cultures -- the Adena, Hopewell and Fort Ancient peoples -- in the area that now comprises Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. The people who built Cahokia were of the Mississippian culture.

Using archaeological data gleaned from remote-sensing devices that can detect remains below the ground, and infrared aerial photographs and satellite images to figure out where the earthworks had been located and what they looked like, the University of Cincinnati team is virtually rebuilding the mounds, using standard architectural rendering software. The result will be interactive programs that show how the river valleys of the Midwest would have looked when the mounds were new.

At Cahokia, most of the mounds still exist, though some were destroyed before the site was protected. Two mounds that provided a clear view of a drive-in movie theater's screen several miles away were removed in the 1960s to stop people from watching films for free.

Anthropologists said it's critical to preserve the mounds, which contain many clues about Cahokian culture. While no longer in danger of being leveled for commercial purposes, the mounds are fragile and subject to environmental degradation. State budget cuts have made it difficult to ensure that rain doesn't wash away the remnants of what is the only known prehistoric Indian city north of Mexico.

A recent excavation of a small ridge-top mound -- Mound 72 -- exposed the bodies of nearly 300 people, mostly young women believed to be sacrificial victims, who'd been buried in mass graves. Nearby is the burial site of a man believed to have been a ruler, about 45 years of age, whose body lies on a blanket of more than 20,000 shell beads, surrounded by piles of arrow tips from tribes that inhabited the present-day states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin. They were presumably given as a tribute to the deceased.

Archeologists believe other bodies buried near the ruler are the remains of those who were sacrificed to serve him in the next life. But the skeletons of four men with their heads and hands missing were also found near the largest sacrificial pit, and no one is quite sure why these bodies were mutilated before being buried.

Certainly, a headless, handless body wouldn't make for a good servant.

Every new discovery here raises more questions than it answers about Cahokia, said Bill Iseminger, assistant site manager at Cahokia Mounds.

"I believe that new archeological technology will absolutely allow us to solve many of the mysteries of Cahokia," Iseminger said. "But right now, what with the budget cuts, we're focused mostly on keeping the site intact, just trying to survive so that we can make more people aware of the complexity and brilliance of Native American culture."

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