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The Innocents of Fallujah - Sacrificial Lambs In The Bogus War On Terror


Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, On the eve of the invasion of Falluja
Tom Dispatch

"'We had to stop some operations until the [U.S.] elections were over,' said a senior Iraqi Defense Ministry official who requested anonymity because he's not an authorized spokesman. ‘The Iraqi government requested support from the American side in the past, but the Americans were reluctant to launch military operations because they were worried about American public opinion. Now, their hands are free.'" (Jonathan S. Landay and Hannah Allam, Bush expected to move quickly on Iraq, Knight Ridder)

"[Iraq is] a huge strategic disaster, and it will only get worse… The idea of creating a constitutional state in a short amount of time is a joke. It will take ten to fifteen years, and that is if we want to kill ten percent of the population." (Lt. Gen. William Odom, Director of the National Security Agency, 1985-88)

So let the madness begin.

In his first post-election press conference, our President said, "You asked, do I feel free. Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style… and I'm going to spend it for what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is -- you've heard the agenda: Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror."

So brace yourself, because we are evidently on the eve of the spending of more than a little of that "capital" in Falluja. As I write, perhaps 10,000 American troops are at the edges of that recalcitrant city in the heartland of Sunni Iraq, supported by small numbers of recently trained, untrusted Iraqi troops who are meant, in that classic American phrase, to put an "Iraqi face" on the American battle to come. No news reports on these new Iraqi troops seem complete anymore without a quote from a skeptical American like "'These people,' says [Marine Sgt.] Scarfe, ‘will let us walk right to our death.'" And almost all reports out of Iraq indicate that these troops like the Iraqi police are thoroughly infiltrated by the insurgents. ("'The infiltration is all over, from the top to the bottom, from decision making to the lower levels,' says [a] senior Iraqi official.") In fact, just this weekend reports have surfaced that a Kurdish officer in the Iraqi security forces, briefed on the American plans for taking Falluja, has deserted, evidently with his briefing notes but without his uniform.

On the American side, our troops have been used as pawns in a game of political chess that certainly will leave them more exposed in any battle for Falluja than might otherwise have been the case. Our ultimate threat, of course, is that those 10,000 soldiers backed by air power and artillery will make an example of Falluja, producing an American version of the Roman solution to Carthage. It would serve as a fierce example of what might lie in store for any incompliant Sunni or Shiite city. As the intelligence outfit Stratfor recently put it in a report, "The Politics of Storming Al Fallujah": "[T]he fate of Al Fallujah will likely serve as an example to tribal leaders throughout the country who have remained undecided about their relationships with coalition forces and the IIG [Iraq Interim Government]." In other words, if you can't "liberate" them, crush them.

With the power of that threat in mind, our offensive against Falluja has been one of the slowest developing and most publicly announced events of recent times. This, in turn, means we have left the Fallujan insurgents all the time in the world to plan for the defense of the city or to fade away as the fighting begins. (Some Americans are already suggesting that casualties in the coming battle will reach Vietnam-era levels.) The insurgents, in turn, have been offering their own set of threats, ranging from waves of car bombs to missiles "tipped with deadly chemicals including cyanide."

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Screams will not be heard

This is an information age, but it will be months before we learn the truth about the assault on Falluja

Madeleine Bunting
Monday November 8, 2004
The Guardian

With fitting irony, one of the camps used by the US marines waiting for the assault on Falluja was formerly a Ba'ath party retreat occasionally used by Saddam Hussein's sons. Dreamland, as it was known, has an island in the middle of an artificial lake fringed by palms.

Now the camp's dream-like unreality is distorting every news report filed on the preparations for the onslaught on Falluja. We don't know, and won't know, anything about what happens in the next few days except for what the US military authorities choose to let us know. It's long since been too dangerous for journalists to move around unless they are embedded with the US forces. There is almost no contact left with civilians still in Falluja, the only information is from those who have left.

This is how the fantasy runs: a city the size of Brighton is now only ever referred to as a "militants' stronghold" or "insurgents' redoubt". The city is being "softened up" with precision attacks from the air. Pacifying Falluja has become the key to stabilising the country ahead of the January elections. The "final assault" is imminent, in which the foreigners who have infiltrated the almost deserted Iraqi city with their extremist Islam will be "cleared", "rooted out" or "crushed". Or, as one marine put it: "We will win the hearts and minds of Falluja by ridding the city of insurgents. We're doing that by patrolling the streets and killing the enemy."

These are the questionable assumptions and make-believe which are now all that the embedded journalists with the US forces know to report. Every night, the tone gets a little more breathless and excited as the propaganda operation to gear the troops up for battle coopts the reporters into its collective psychology.

There's a repulsive asymmetry of war here: not the much remarked upon asymmetry of the few thousand insurgents holed up in Falluja vastly outnumbered by the US, but the asymmetry of information. In an age of instant communication, we will have to wait months, if not years, to hear of what happens inside Falluja in the next few days. The media representation of this war will be from a distance: shots of the city skyline illuminated by the flashes of bomb blasts, the dull crump of explosions. What will be left to our imagination is the terror of children crouching behind mud walls; the agony of those crushed under falling masonry; the frantic efforts to save lives in makeshift operating theatres with no electricity and few supplies. We will be the ones left to fill in the blanks, drawing on the reporting of past wars inflicted on cities such as Sarajevo and Grozny.

The silence from Falluja marks a new and agonising departure in the shape of 21st-century war. The horrifying shift in the last century was how, increasingly, war was waged against civilians: their proportion of the death toll rose from 50% to 90%. It prompted the development of a form of war-reporting, exemplified by Bosnia, which was not about the technology and hardware, but about human suffering, and which fuelled public outrage. No longer. The reporting of Falluja has lapsed back into the military machismo of an earlier age. This war against the defenceless will go unreported.

The reality is that a city can never be adequately described as a "militants' stronghold". It's a label designed to stiffen the heart of a soldier, but it is blinding us, the democracies that have inflicted this war, to the consequences of our actions. Falluja is still home to thousands of civilians. The numbers who have fled the prospective assault vary, but there could be 100,000 or more still in their homes. Typically, as in any war, those who don't get out of the way are a mixture of the most vulnerable - the elderly, the poor, the sick; the unlucky, who left it too late to get away; and the insanely brave, such as medical staff.

Nor does it seem possible that reporters still use the terms "softening up" or "precision" bombing. They achieve neither softening nor precision, as Falluja well knew long before George W Bush arrived in the White House. In the first Gulf war, an RAF laser-guided bomb intended for the city's bridge went astray and landed in a crowded market, killing up to 150. Last year, the killing of 15 civilians shortly after the US arrived in the city ensured that Falluja became a case study in how to win a war but lose the occupation. A catalogue of catastrophic blunders has transformed a relatively calm city with a strongly pro-US mayor into a battleground.

One last piece of fantasy is that there is unlikely to be anything "final" about this assault. Already military analysts acknowledge that a US victory in Falluja could have little effect on the spreading incidence of violence across Iraq. What the insurgents have already shown is that they are highly decentralised, and yet the quick copying of terrorist techniques indicates some degree of cooperation. Hopes of a peace seem remote; the future looks set for a chronic, intermittent civil war. By the time the bulldozers have ploughed their way through the centre of Falluja, attention could have shifted to another "final assault" on another "militant stronghold", as another city of homes, shops and children's playgrounds morphs into a battleground.

The recent comment of one Falluja resident is strikingly poignant: "Why," she asked wearily, "don't they go and fight in a desert away from houses and people?" Why indeed? Twentieth-century warfare ensured a remarkable historical inversion. Once the city had been the place of safety to retreat to in a time of war, the place of civilisation against the barbarian wilderness; but the invention of aerial bombardment turned the city into a target, a place of terror.

What is so disturbing is that much of the violence meted out to cities in the past 60-odd years has rarely had a strategic purpose - for example, the infamous bombing of Dresden. Nor is it effective in undermining morale or motivation; while the violence destroys physical and economic capital, it usually generates social capital - for example, the Blitz spirit or the solidarity of New Yorkers in the wake of 9/11 - and in Chechnya served only to establish a precarious peace in a destroyed Grozny and fuel a desperate, violent resistance.

Assaults on cities serve symbolic purposes: they are set showpieces to demonstrate resolve and inculcate fear. To that end, large numbers of casualties are required: they are not an accidental byproduct but the aim. That was the thinking behind 9/11, and Falluja risks becoming a horrible mirror-image of that atrocity. Only by the shores of that dusty lake in Dreamland would it be possible to believe that the ruination of this city will do anything to enhance the legitimacy of the US occupation and of the Iraqi government it appointed.

Comment: Aerial bombardment protects the soldiers at the expense of civilians. Soldiers are paid to kill. They are, or were, once paid to protect civilians. Now they slaughter them. Of course, the civilians they slaughter are the faceless "heathen", the "godless" enemy. That is way the US stopped counting the Iraqi casualities long, long ago.

The dead civilians really don't count.

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America failing test of history as offensive compared to terror tactics of pariah states

By Charles Glass in Suleimania
09 November 2004

Muslim fundamentalist insurgents seeking to topple the government are holed up in a conservative city with little sympathy for secularism or pluralism. They raise the banner of Islam, and they call on the rest of the country to rise up and expel the oppressors. The government reacts by massing forces around the city. It demanded that the militants surrender or the city give them up. If not, the city would be destroyed. Fallujah this week? Yes, but it was also the Syrian city of Hama in the spring of 1982.

The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood seized Hama as the first step towards its goal of a national uprising against the secular Baathist regime. The Syrian President demanded their surrender. His army shelled the city, and special forces went in to kill or capture the militants. The Syrians employed the same strategy that the US is using now. Its tanks and artillery waited outside the city; they fired on militants and civilians alike. Its elite units, like the American Marines surrounding Falljuah today, braced themselves for a bloody battle.

The US condemned Syria for the assault that is believed to have cost 10,000 civilian lives. The Syrian army destroyed the historic centre of Hama, and it rounded up Muslim rebels for imprisonment or execution. Syria's actions against Hama came to form part of the American case that Syria was a terrorist state. Partly because of Hama, Syria is on a list of countries in the Middle East whose regimes the US wants to change.

Iraq's American-appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, declared a state of emergency on Sunday to assume powers reminiscent of those wielded by Saddam Hussein: to break up public gatherings, enter private houses without warrants and detain people without trial. Perhaps in waging war against the Iraqis who want to expel the Americans and topple America's chosen Iraqi leaders, the insurgents have compelled the US and its Iraqi allied regime to behave like the two Baathist regimes that they believed were so totalitarian they had to go.

Comment: Nicely summed up. Bush and Co. have essentially replaced the regime of Saddam Hussein with the Regime of the more US friendly Allawi. Mr Allawi has wasted no time in reinstating Saddam-like rule, declaring martial law and ordering US troops to continue the brutalisation and murder of dissenting Iraqi civilians.

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Skies burn red above Fallujah as US-led forces storm rebel city

Mon Nov 8, 5:41 PM ET

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AFP) - The skies above Fallujah burned red as artillery, war planes and tanks pounded the Iraqi rebel bastion and some 3,000 US troops poured in at the start of an operation to retake the city.

Following a day of heavy shelling, marines and soldiers stormed the northern entrance to the city west of Baghdad, while doctors there voiced dismay over a lack of vital supplies after Iraqi troops seized the main hospital.

A unit of marines penetrated the insurgent heart of the city barely an hour after the offensive officially started at 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) amid a blistering volley of gunfire and slim resistance, an AFP reporter embedded with them said.

In a two-front attack, heavy fire ripped through the notorious Jolan district in the northwest as a separate unit also took control of Fallujah's train station in the northeast, a marine officer told AFP.

As they edged closer to Jolan, at least four 2,000-pound (900-kilogram) bombs were dropped in the northwest of the city, an AFP reporter said.

The marines poured into a complex of several buildings, including two apartment blocks, a school, a mosque and a government building, in the sector.

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi authorised the operation, dubbed Phantom Fury, some seven months after an initial attempt by the US military to reclaim the rebel nerve centre ended in a stalemate that forced the troops to withdraw.

Ending weeks of anticipation, crack Iraqi troops and US marines seized control of Fallujah's main hospital during a pre-dawn offensive on Monday triggering a day of clashes that erupted into an all-out assault as night fell.

Comment: "Crack Iraqi troops"? Dream on. Recent reports show that most of the 2,000 Iraqis who were strong armed into the "new Iraqi army" have since fled, refusing to murder their own people. Of course, the figures can be easily manipulated. This LA Times report puts the Iraqi hired help at just 1,000 men, and it's anybody's guess as to how many of these have since deserted.

Missiles rained down indiscriminately on the city, with the action most intense in the Askari district in the northeast and Jolan in the northwest.

Comment: Remember this is a city with approximately 150,000 civilians, upon whom the brave US military are "indiscriminately" raining 2,000lb bombs and high calibre depleted uranium shells.

"They are in the process of incinerating the sector," a Jolan local said.

Iraq's Defense Minister Sheikh Hazem Shaalan warned that worse was to follow as the US-backed government battles to retake the city, the symbol of a potent insurgency that is bent on undermining its plans to hold elections by January.

"Tomorrow is the large-scale operation to retake the city," he said.

"We've called it Operation Dawn. God willing, it's going to be a new, happy dawn for the people of Fallujah."

Comment: Is it that government officials are prone to extreme delusion or is it that they are simply capable of telling the most outrageous lies to the world? It seems that the latter is closer to the truth on most occasions. Perhaps there is some stage during the process of climbing the political ladder when each "devotee" is given concrete evidence that the "big lie" really is very useful when one wants to literally "get away with murder". Most people are, for some reason, virtually incapable of believing that their leaders would lie to them on matters of life and death, which of course puts the people in a very precarious position.

Shaalan said some insurgents had already fled and vowed to catch them.

"But our intelligence services are tracking them and we are going to get them and teach them a lesson that they would never forget."

Just before the official battle started, Allawi paid a surprise visit to the thousands of Iraqi troops also camped out around Fallujah, poised for action.

"Your job is to arrest the killers but if you kill them then let it be," he said.

"You need to avenge the victims of the terrorists like the 37 children who were killed in Baghdad and the 49 of your colleagues who were slaughtered," he said, referring to two of the deadliest attacks unleashed by insurgents loyal to Iraq's most wanted militant and Al-Qaeda frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Comment: Remember, it is extremely unlikely that those responsible for the bombing attacks on Iraqi civilians are Iraqi insurgents. It is much more likely that these attacks are the work of CIA and Mossad operatives determined to provide continued justification for the bogus "war on terror".

Iraqi and US officials believe that Zarqawi and his followers have turned Fallujah into an operating base. They gave the residents an ultimatum to surrender the militants or face assault, but city leaders insist such people are not there.

Comment: So despite the claims of the residents of Fallujah that they are not harboring terrorists, the US military is determined to make them guilty in order to justify their slaughter.

Many of Fallujah's 300,000 residents are thought to have fled Fallujah to surrounding camps or Baghdad as living conditions deteriorated and fears of the assault, which has been in the pipeline for months, grew.

Comment: "Many" in this case means about half, leaving 150,000 innocents to face the brutal assault of US troops.

Doctors inside the besieged city painted a grim picture amid a chronic lack of medical equipment, trained staff, water and electricity.

"All of the surgeons in the city are blocked in the general hospital and are not permitted to return to Fallujah," said Dr Hashem Issawi, who works in one of just two functioning medical clinics.

"Ambulances have also been confiscated. We lack material and equipment."

Local medics said 12 people had been killed and 30 wounded in the day-long bombardment, while Allawi said 38 militants died in clashes around the western fringe of the city as US and Iraqi troops tried to secure the hospital and two bridges they seized in the pre-dawn mission.

Determined to bring the unruly city in line, Allawi also announced a raft of draconian emergency measures including an indefinite curfew that started at 6:00 pm, saying it would be lifted on an area-by-area basis when order was restored. [...]

Comment: As we said yesterday, there is one reason and one reason only for the taking of the Fallujah General hosptial. See if you can spot it in this next article...

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G.I.'s Open Attack to Take Falluja From Iraq Rebels

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
and ROBERT F. WORTH
November 8, 2004

FALLUJA, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 8 - Explosions and heavy gunfire thundered across Falluja on Sunday night and Monday morning as American troops seized control of two strategic bridges, a hospital and other objectives in the first stage of a long-expected invasion of the city, the center of the Iraqi insurgency. [...]

It was the second time in six months that a battle had raged in Falluja. In April, American troops were closing in on the city center when popular uprisings broke out in cities across Iraq. The outrage, fed by mostly unconfirmed reports of large civilian casualties, forced the Americans to withdraw.

American commanders regarded the reports as inflated, but it was impossible to determine independently how many civilians had been killed. The hospital was selected as an early target because the American military believed that it was the source of rumors about heavy casualties.

"It's a center of propaganda," a senior American officer said Sunday.

Comment: Did you catch it? The ONLY reason this hospital was taken was to ensure that this time around, reports of the shocking number of civilians that will be killed by US troops will remain Rumsfeld's dirty little secret. Notice also that the New York Times, that bastion of lies and disinformation, has totally neglected to inform their readers that the reports of the the casualties from the previous attack on Fallujah were not "mostly unconfirmed reports", but rather CONFIRMED" reports of between 450 and 1000 civilians murdered by US soldiers.

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No Longer Unknowable: Falluja's April Civilian Toll is 600

Tuesday 26th October 2004

Today the Iraq Body Count (IBC) website has published its analysis of the civilian dealth toll in the April 2004 siege of Falluja. This analysis leads to the conclusion that betweeen 572 and 616 of the approximately 800 reported deaths were of civilians, with over 300 of these being women and children. [...]

Comment: Heck! even the BBC reported back in April that hundreds of civilians had been killed in the first attack.

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Flashback: Scale of Falluja violence emerges

Monday, 12 April, 2004

The scale of the fighting in the Iraqi town of Falluja last week is becoming clear as a shaky ceasefire takes hold.

A group of five international charities estimated that about 470 people had been killed, while hospital officials put the death toll at about 600.

Reuters television footage from Falluja showed corpses of children, women and old men lying in the street beside body parts no one has had time to collect.

"Hospitals and medical staff are overwhelmed," the five charities said.

They added that they were "asking desperately for blood, oxygen and antiseptics".

The group said that at a conservative estimate, about 1,200 had been wounded, according to Reuters, which did not name the aid agencies involved.

Residents of Falluja have reportedly been burying the dead in their gardens and a football field because it is too dangerous to go to the cemeteries on the outskirts of town.

'Flight'

Kifaya Ilawee fled the town when her neighbour's house was hit by a shell.

"I have lived in Falluja for 30 years. I have never seen anything like this, what we saw every day in Falluja last week," she told Reuters.

She is now living in Baghdad with 35 others who also fled the fighting.

Umm Samir left the town with her family on Saturday, London's Guardian newspaper reported.

She described "constant bombing" as US-led coalition forces battled insurgents during the week in Falluja, known as the city with 100 mosques.

US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said on Monday that about 70 coalition soldiers had been killed in Iraq in April, and that about 10 times that number of Iraqis had been killed over the same period.

The US says most of the Iraqi dead were fighters.

Umm Samir, 62, says her family was originally pleased that the Americans had deposed Saddam Hussein.

But then the US troops began treating Iraqis "disrespectfully... as though we were beneath their feet," she told the Guardian.

'Provocation'

American behaviour had helped provoke ordinary people to join the resistance, she said, adding that even she and her older sister wanted to join the fighters.

"When the Americans arrived there were only about 50 guerrillas," another Falluja resident, Nada Rabee, told Reuters.

"By the end of the week there were a few thousand. They are just making the situation worse."

A New York Times report corroborates these claims.

The US newspaper says that many people - perhaps tens of thousands - who did not consider themselves full-time resistance fighters were now prepared to join the insurgency.

Khalif Juma, a 26-year-old vegetable seller, told the newspaper he was angry about the US treatment of radical Shia religious leader Moqtada Sadr, for whom an arrest warrant has been issued.

"To be honest, we weren't like this before. But we're religious people, and our leader has been threatened," he told the newspaper.

"We would be ashamed to stay in our houses with our wives at a time like this."

He and his cousins have bought a crate of Kalashnikov rifles, he said.

Comment: So tell us, who is really spreading terror around the world? Who are the real "terrorists" Words cannot describe the utter disgust we feel for the actions of the Bush administration, their mindless army of killers and the real architects of the entire bogus war on terror.

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Sunday November 7, 09:13 AM

An Iraqi boy recovers in a Fallujah hospital after a U.S. airstrike in Fallujah, Iraq Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004, which killed his father and wounded his brother, according to hospital officials. U.S. jets pounded Fallujah early Saturday in the heaviest airstrikes in six months, including five 500-pound bombs dropped on insurgent targets.

Comment: Clearly it was not insurgents that the US are dropping bombs on, but innocent Iraqi civilians.

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Saturday November 6, 09:50 AM

Iraqi Children throw stones at an American armored vehicle in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, Iraq Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Comment: Does this picture remind you of any other photos you may have seen (or not if you live in the US) over the past few years? Israel? Palestinian children and Israeli tanks?

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Sunday November 7, 09:50 PM

A purple heart medal is taped to the chest of an unidentified American soldier while in the intensive care unit of 31st Combat Support Hospital in the Green Zone of Baghdad, Iraq Sunday, Nov. 7, 2004. The soldier was wounded in a car bomb explosion in Baghdad Sunday, and the medal, awarded for being wounded in combat, was taped to his chest so that it would not be lost during his medevac to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany

Comment: There ya go soldier! A nice medal, now do you feel better?

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G.I.'s Itch to Prove Their Mettle in Falluja

By ROBERT F. WORTH
November 5, 2004

NEAR FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 5 [...]

"Locked, cocked and ready to rock," said Lance Cpl. Dimitri Gavriel, 29, who left an investment banking job in Manhattan 18 months ago to enlist, using a popular Marine expression. "That's about how we feel."

Many of the young marines expected to lead the attack have not yet been part of a major battle. Most of those who took part in the operation in Falluja in April have been sent home. And though some of the commanders here fought the first phase of the war last year, many of the rank and file arrived here for the first time in June.

All of them, though, seem eager to prove their mettle and at last confront the insurgency head on.

"It's kind of like the cancer of Iraq," said Lt. Steven Berch, a lanky platoon commander, speaking of Falluja. "It's become a kind of hotel for the insurgents. Hopefully getting rid of them will help to stabilize the whole country."

Others point to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who is said to be using Falluja as a base.

"We're doing the right thing here," said First Lt. Christopher Wilkens, pausing for breath during a drill. "These guys are terrorists, there are connections to Al Qaeda, and fighting them is what we came here to do."

Comment: Ah, the wonders of mind programming and propaganda. Urged on by the inane babble of Bush, "freedom and democracy" and "trr'ists" the only decipherable words in his mangled sentences, these young soldiers truly believe that they are spreading "freedom" by killing Iraqis brave enough to fight for the true liberation of their country from a brutal occupying army.

We do not doubt that Cheney and the Neocons also believe that what they are doing is "the right thing." They reason to themselves that, if the people truly understood just how precarious their future is, they would simply be unable to deal with it and therefore they cannot be privy to the REAL reasons for this war. They must therefore be deceived for their own good. Hence the need for the 9/11 attacks to provide a weak yet plausible excuse for this endless war of global conquest. Time is running out, and our "leaders" know it. The stakes are high, few will survive.

[...] The marines also expect heavy house-to-house fighting once they enter the city, and they are fully aware of the risks. During drills they do test runs of their arrival in Falluja, running out the back of the armored personnel carriers that will bring them into the city while carrying all their weapons and a 45-pound pack.

None of the dangers seem to rattle their confidence. Between drills, they do pull-ups and play touch football. In the evening, laughter echoes around the barracks where they live, along with heavy metal music blasting from CD players.

"I don't think about it," said Pfc. Anthony Mells, a 20 year-old marine from Queens, when asked about the risks of battle. "It's all about motivation. Getting wounded is not in my job description."

Comment: Indeed, it IS all about motivation, but motivation from "on high" to believe lies and propaganda, and getting injured and killed, aka "being used as cannon fodder", is very definitely in the job description. But then again, the training that US soldiers undergo equips them very well for death - dealing death, that is.

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More "Iraqi" Prisoner "Abuse" At the Hands of US Soldiers

By SETH HETTENA, Associated Press Writer
Mon Nov 8

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - A Marine major implicated in the death of an Iraqi prisoner testified at his court-martial Monday that he thought the prisoner was uncooperative and faking illness.

Maj. Clarke Paulus is accused of ordering a subordinate to drag Nagem Hatab, 52, by the neck from a holding cell at a Marine detention facility in Iraq on June 6, 2003. Hatab died shortly afterward; a military forensics examiner found he broke a bone in his neck and suffocated.

Military judge Col. Robert Chester barred all medical evidence from the trial because some of Hatab's body parts have been lost.

After the prosecution rested its case Friday, the judge reduced the most serious charge against Paulus from aggravated assault to assault and battery. Paulus had faced up to four and a half years in prison; he now faces a maximum of 18 months.

Paulus, of New Hope, Pa., testified Monday that Hatab had to be moved from a cell he shared with other prisoners because he had diarrhea. When guards tried to get the Iraqi to stand, he fell into barbed wire. Paulus said he then ordered a lance corporal to drag Hatab by the neck.

"It was the only area that didn't have feces on it," Paulus testified.

Paulus said he watched as Hatab was dragged about 20 feet and saw no signs of choking. He said if he had, he would have stopped it. He said a medic determined Hatab's vital signs were normal.

Paulus said Hatab showed no signs of distress — even when he grabbed onto barbed wire as he fell. He said he still believed Hatab was faking.

"How many people in your life do you know that can fake diarrhea?" prosecuting lawyer Maj. Leon Francis asked during cross-examination. "None that I know," Paulus replied.

Asked about the hold used to drag Hatab, Paulus also said: "Did I think it could cause an injury? ... In some cases, yes; in this case, no."

In September, a Marine sergeant, Gary Pittman, was acquitted of abusing Hatab but convicted of assaulting prisoners. He was sentenced to 60 days of hard labor and demoted to private. Charges against six others have been dismissed.

Comment: Nice work the all-American boys are doing over there in Iraq, isn't it? Notice the comment that all medical advice was barred from the trial because some of the victims body parts were missing. Notice also the punishment, a "maximum of 18 months", which in reality will mean a month or two in a military jail in Iraq for this young "defender of freedom", after which he will be restored to active duty to continue "winning hearts and minds" in Iraq.

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Soldier Pleads Guilty in Abu Ghraib Scandal

Wed Nov 3
By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Army Spec. Megan Ambuhl has pleaded guilty to one count of dereliction of duty in the Abu Ghraib Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, in a deal with prosecutors sparing her any prison time, the U.S. Army said on Tuesday.

Ambuhl, a 30-year-old reservist from Centerville, Virginia, was reduced in rank to private and ordered to forfeit half a month's pay, said Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon. [...]

A U.S. military court in Baghdad last month also ordered two more soldiers, Spec. Charles Graner and Sgt. Javal Davis, to stand trial on charges stemming from the scandal. Graner's trial is due to open on Jan. 7 and Davis's on Feb. 1.

Comment: Wow, a whole half month's pay, now that's American justice for ya...

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Army investigates ‘mercy killing’ in Iraq
By LOS ANGELES TIMES
Last Updated: 11:27 pm, Thursday, November 4th, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq — As a U.S. Army patrol rolled into Sadr City one night in August, soldiers received a tip that militants in dump trucks were planting roadside bombs.

American troops had been clashing regularly with Al Mahdi militiamen in the restive Baghdad slum. So when Staff Sgt. Cardenas Alban of Carson, Calif., saw an object fall from a garbage truck in the distance, his company took positions around the vehicle and unleashed a barrage of fire from rifles and a 25-millimeter cannon atop a Bradley fighting vehicle. The truck exploded in flames.

As soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment approached the burning vehicle, they did not find insurgents. The victims were mainly teenagers, hired to work the late shift picking up trash for about $5 a night, witnesses said.

Medics scrambled to treat the half a dozen people strewn around the scene. A dispute broke out among soldiers standing over one severely wounded young man who was moaning in pain. An unwounded Iraqi claiming to be a relative of the victim pleaded in broken English for soldiers to help him.

But to the horror of bystanders, Alban, 29, a boyish-faced sergeant who joined the Army in 1997, retrieved an M-231 assault rifle and fired into the wounded man’s body. Seconds later, another soldier, Staff Sgt. Johnny Horne Jr., 30, of Winston-Salem, N.C., grabbed an M-16 rifle and also shot the victim.

The killing might have been forgotten except for a U.S. soldier who days later slipped an anonymous note under the door of the unit’s commander, Capt. Robert Humphries, warning that “soldiers had committed serious crimes that needed to be looked at.”

U.S. officials have since characterized the shooting as a “mercy killing,” citing statements by Alban and Horne that they shot the wounded Iraqi “to put him out of his misery.”

Military attorneys, however, are calling it premeditated murder and have charged the two sergeants, saying the victim’s suffering was no excuse for the soldiers’ actions.

“I have no doubt that’s why they did it,” said Capt. John Maloney, one of the military attorneys prosecuting the case. “But it still constitutes murder.”

Military attorneys in Baghdad said they were unaware of any legal precedent justifying “mercy killing” in a war zone, though such circumstances could be considered during sentencing.

Rather than provide medical help to an injured civilian, the soldiers treated the Iraqi as if he were an animal struck by a car.

“We are not sheep,” said Emad Raheem, 40, who said he was the driver of the dump truck. “We are human beings.”

Seven Iraqis were killed in the attack, including the one who was shot, military officials said. Eight others were wounded.

Alban and Horne — both on their second tour in Iraq — and their attorneys declined to comment. In statements to military investigators, both acknowledged shooting the Iraqi but have not entered formal pleas. They are facing Article 32 hearings in Baghdad, which will determine whether there is enough evidence to begin court-martial proceedings. If convicted, the soldiers could receive the death penalty.

The case — one of about a dozen murder cases filed against U.S. troops in Iraq — is fueling a debate about the conduct of American forces here and the treatment of Iraqi civilians, particularly in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Two other soldiers in Alban’s unit, from Fort Riley, Kan., also are under investigation for what military officials say were the premeditated murders of three Iraqi civilians in separate cases.

In September, a U.S. reservist was sentenced to 25 years for killing a teenage Iraqi national guard soldier after a sexual encounter in an observation tower. The soldier said he lost control because of traumatic memories of childhood abuse, but family members of the victim accused the American of assaulting the Iraqi and then shooting him to cover it up.

“These crimes represent the pinnacle of American oppression and violence,” said Mudaffar Battat, editor of a Sadr City newspaper.

The identity of the Iraqi killed by Alban and Horne remains unclear. U.S. military officials say they cannot verify the individual’s name because they never collected his personal information, did not interview or compensate family members and then lost track of his body, which could hinder the case. They suspect his body was taken by Iraqi police and buried.

Iraqi witnesses found by the Los Angeles Times identified the victim as Qassim Hassan, 16, who had joined his brother and several cousins that night to earn extra money. They said their group of 15 was traveling in three dump trucks about 1:30 a.m. and had just passed through a military checkpoint when they were attacked.

“Most of (the victims) were poor teenagers,” said Heider Ali Ismail, 21, who drove one of the trucks. “We were finishing up and just about to unload the trucks.”

Hassan sat in the back of one of the trucks amid the rubbish, which ignited after the American soldiers struck.

Hassan’s cousin, Ahmed Majid, said in an interview that Hassan’s clothing caught fire and he struggled to jump off the truck, falling to the ground unconscious.

Military officials would not confirm whether Hassan is the same person shot by the soldiers. Majid and Raheem said they had been invited to testify at a military hearing Saturday.

Accounts of the incident by U.S. and Iraqi witnesses bear some similarities, but the two sides disagree on other aspects of the attack, including the extent of injuries suffered by the Iraqi.

Alban and Horne said in confessions that the man they shot was severely wounded and unlikely to survive. They said they watched him moan and writhe in pain until they could stand it no longer.

Sgt. Jacob E. Smith, an Army medic who helped treat the wounded Iraqis, testified the victim’s limbs were severely burned and his intestines were spilling out.

“Everything from his ribs to his hips was gone,” Smith said. “He was in bad shape. He was going to die.” Another witness said the man’s spinal cord was exposed.

Majid said his cousin was unconscious and struggling to breathe, but his only injuries were burns. He said he pleaded with soldiers to help his cousin and his brother, who still was trapped in the burning truck. But when he tried to help Hassan, he said, a soldier pushed him away, saying, “Shut up and go!” Then the soldier shot his cousin, he said.

Comment: Will we see "Israeli" justice here? Will the charges against the soldier be dropped as they are so often against IDF soldiers who use Palestinian civilians as target practice? We are reminded of the recent case of the Israeli who emptied his clip into the body of a tennage Palestinian girl. Look back at the picture of Iraqi children thowing stones at a US tank - and think.

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Remote technology spares U.S. soldiers
Monday, November 8, 2004 Posted: 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)

BAQOUBA, Iraq (AP) -- By the light of flashlights and a crescent moon, the three-member crew catapults a 300-pound pilotless airplane into the sky.

Minutes later, other U.S. soldiers behind a computer screen inside a shed monitor video images from the plane, known as a Shadow, as it loiters over a traffic circle frequently attacked by insurgent bombs.

"We fill some of the gaps in the intelligence field. We put one of these in harm's way instead of a soldier. It's all about saving lives," says Sgt. Francisco Huereque, who is in charge of the night's launch.

Unmanned aerial vehicles and other so-called "stand-off" weapons, whether currently used or in secret testing, belong to a developing high-tech arsenal that the U.S. military says will help minimize casualties as it battles insurgents.

Most of the systems are slated for continued, if not intensified, use as Iraqi forces train to take over the bulk of combat operations from the Americans -- though when that might happen remains uncertain.

More than 1,120 U.S. soldiers have died in the conflict at a current rate of more than two each day.

In units like the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, several surveillance drones and specially equipped terrestrial vehicles are deployed daily to protect soldiers against what persists as the deadliest killer -- roadside explosives.

An armored, tractor-like vehicle called the Meerkat is often dispatched to detect suspected improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, while soldiers stand safely back. The South African-made vehicle, which can be driven by a soldier or operated by remote control, can withstand the simultaneous blast of three anti-tank mines, said Staff Sgt. Darrell Theurer, a native of Bismarck, North Dakota.

Combing the roads around this provincial capital 35 miles north of Baghdad, Theurer's unit also trots out the Buffalo, a massive, heavily armored machine that can run Meerkats by remote control and plow through a minefield to scoop up explosives with its retractable arm.

In other missions, robots are called in to shoot video of the insides of cars suspected of carrying bombs.

The life-protecting technologies extend to the airwaves.

A system installed in Humvees called Warlock, made by EDO Corp. of New York, can jam signals from mobile telephones, garage door openers and other remote-control devices used by insurgents to detonate explosives.

Officers say that without such technologies, casualties would unquestionably be higher.

The Pentagon estimates some 40 percent of improvised explosive devices are now discovered before rebels set them off.

Higher up the military chain from the brigade, still classified technology to ferret out roadside bombs is being tried out while in the wings are other intelligence-gatherers that may or may not make it to the Iraqi battlefield.

On the ground, a variety of new unmanned vehicles are expected to enter the field in coming years.

Among them is the Military R-Gator, built by tractor-maker Deere & Co. and iRobot, which makes the far smaller remote-controlled PackBot robots already deployed to scout out dangerous locations and dispose of explosives. The R-Gator, set to begin full production in 2006, will be autonomous, meaning it will navigate and perform some tasks without any input from humans.

In the air, military officials are investigating the use of stationary, spherical "spy in the sky" airships and a digital camera packed into a mortar shell that transmits photos to a soldier's laptop while the shell floats to the ground attached to a parachute.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, were flying over Iraq even before the war began and now range from the high-altitude, super-sophisticated Global Hawk to the Raven, which comes in a carrying case and is launched by just flipping it into the air.

The tiny Raven is just 3 feet long, with a wing span of 4 1/2 feet, and weighs 4 pounds. It can fly as far away as nine miles and stay in the air for 80 minutes.

Military officials will not reveal the total number of UAVs being used in Iraq, citing operational security.

But Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute think tank in Washington, said he has heard that UAVs across all branches are performing about 400 sorties a day in Iraq.

The U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts, which developed the Raven, said in May that more than 100 of the tiny UAVs were being deployed this year in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's clear from the troops on the ground that they'll take as many as they can get.

"It's such a sought-after commodity, they can't churn them out fast enough," says Sgt. Michael Lucas, a pilotless-craft mission commander from Jerseyville, Ill. Soldiers are also being streamed out of the nine-month UAV training school.

This brigade operates four Shadows, which are used mainly to snoop for roadside explosives, car bombs, rebel mortar positions, urban snipers and insurgents who may be stalking U.S. convoys.

Soldiers with Huereque, who is from Prineville, Oregon, say a Shadow will be in the air 45 minutes after an order is given, much quicker than it takes for the unit to receive images from satellites.

One Shadow recently tracked a van driving from a mortar emplacement as it dropped off four individuals at various points before arriving at a house.

Alerted about what the Shadow had seen, ground troops moved in to round up six insurgents who were carrying incriminating evidence: the insurgents' own video of mortars being fired at U.S. bases, according to 2nd Lt. Liesel Himmelberger, who monitors real-time images from UAVs in the brigade's operation center.

It's also suspected that as a UAV flies overhead, its mere sound -- described as "a lawnmower on steroids" -- may help save lives.

"If you're doing something nasty and you have one buzzing over your head at 5,000 feet you might just break off," says Himmelberger, of Newburgh, New York.

The brigade's intelligence officer, Maj. Kreg Schnell, says the unit that replaces theirs when it leaves Iraq in February will be more digitally advanced.

But Schnell, from Seattle, is skeptical about how many lives can be saved as the Americans seek to put more unmanned machines in the line of fire and relegate soldiers to the role of intelligence collectors.

"It's a force-oriented enemy that will still come after us," Schnell predicts. "Economic and political well-being for the Iraqis, that will save American lives."

Comment: These devices serve to justify America's illegal wars, those in progress and those to come. As long as American lives aren't lost, then the pressure on the homefront to stop the war will remain low. If only people would think for themselves, but in a world where independent thought will quickly get a person labeled as a "conspiracy theorist", most people have already opted to let their "leaders" think for them...

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Thinking

Guest Editorial
Anonymous for SOTT
09/11/2004

It started out innocently enough...

I began to think at parties now and then -- to loosen up. Inevitably, though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker. I began to think alone-"to relax," I told myself - but I knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

That was when things began to sour at home. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my mate about the meaning of life, but she just spent that night at her mother's.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't stop myself. I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?" One day the boss called me in.

He said, "Listen, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job."

This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking..."
"I know you've been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"
"But Honey, surely it's not that serious."
"It is serious!" she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college professors, and college professors don't make any money. So if you keep on thinking, we won't have any money!"
"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently. She exploded in tears of rage and frustration, but I was in no mood to deal with the emotional drama.

"I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door. I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche. I roared into the parking lot with NPR on the radio and ran up to the big glass doors. They didn't open. The library was closed. I had reached the absolute nadir of my life...

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night. As I sank to the ground, clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker's Anonymous poster. Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker.
Now I never miss a TA meeting.

At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was "Porky's." Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting. Our motto is "never have an original thought”, and we take it one step at a time. I am now at a point where I deny cause and effect, eschew science, idolize industry and business, and always think I am the only one who is right....and I even believe that privatization is God's rule on earth. I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

I think the road to recovery is nearly complete for me. Today, I even registered to vote.

Comment: So lay back y'all and let Dubya take over, he's got it all figured out...

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Powell says Bush to continue "aggressive" policy
www.chinaview.cn 2004-11-09 19:52:11

LONDON, Nov. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush would continue his "aggressive" foreign policy during his second term, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview with the British Financial Times newspaper published on Tuesday.

"The president is not going to trim his sails or pull back. It's a continuation of his principles, his policies, his beliefs," Powell said in his first interview since Bush was re-elected on Nov. 2.

The US foreign policy had been "aggressive in terms of going after challenges, issues," the president was "going to keep moving this direction," Powell told the paper.

While Bush's policy would be "multilateral in nature," the United States would act alone where necessary, Powell said.

However, Powell said the United States would also reach out to the international community where it can, adding that Bush would convey to European leaders that he was "anxious to reach out" to them.

On the Middle East peace process, Powell described the peace process as "one of the biggest overhangs in our foreign policy, the way it is perceived," but he did not elaborate on how the United States intended to become more involved and warned that it still needed responsible partners on the Palestinian side.

Referring to cooperation between the United States and Europe over Iran, Powell said there was no agreement yet between Iran and the European Union trio of Britain, France, Germany on its nuclear program, confirming that "regime change" was not the US policy towards Iran.

Comment: Why change a winning forumla, right? After all, it worked and continues to work for the Israelis...

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Israeli secret agents killed 310 Iraqi scientists
By Mustafa Amara

Azzaman, 2004-10-30 -- More than 310 Iraqi scientists are thought to have perished at the hands of Israeli secret agents in Iraq since fall of Baghdad to US troops in April 2003, a seminar has found.

The seminar, held in Cairo, was attended by politicians, journalists and experts with an interest in current Iraqi affairs.

The experts said they had detected an organized campaign aimed at “liquidating Iraqi scientists” in the past 18 months and most of them pointed the finger at the Israeli secret police service, the Mossad.

The organizers said their aim was to highlight the plight of Iraqi scientists particularly those who were engaged in the weapons programs under the former regime.

There is a joint American and Israeli plan to kill as many Iraqi scientists as possible,” said Abdel Raoof al-Raidi, an ambassador and assistant foreign minister.

The Iraqi ambassador in Cairo, Ahmad al-Iraqi, accused Israel of sending to Iraq immediately after the US invasion “a commando unit” charged with the killing of Iraqi scientists.

“Israel has played a prominent role in liquidating Iraqi scientists … The campaign is part of a Zionist plan to kill Arab and Muslim scientists working in applied research which Israel sees as threatening its interests,” al-Iraqi said.

DR. Imad Jad, an Israeli affairs expert at the Al-Ahram Studies Center, said the US had already airlifted 70 Iraqi scientists out of the country and placed them in areas to make it difficult for them to “transfer information to anti-US quarters.”

He said more than 310 Iraqi scientists have been killed so far and most of them at the hands of Mossad agents working in Iraq.

He said the Ahram Center estimated that nearly 17,000 Iraqi scientists working in various fields of knowledge have fled the country since the US-led invasion.

In Baghdad, interim government officials refused to comment on the deliberations that took place in the Cairo conference.

However, the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology said their own figures tally with those mentioned at the seminar, particularly regarding the number of Iraqi scientist been killed so far.

Comment: The last thing the US and Israel want is for the Iraqis to start managing their own affairs, so it is clear they wish to empty Iraq of its intellectual core. Meanwhile, in Palestine, the Israelis have been busy effecting "regime change"...

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Arafat's condition worsening, say French doctors
By Scheherezade Faramarzi, AP
09 November 2004

French doctors treating Yasser Arafat confirmed for the first time today that he was in a coma and said his condition had deteriorated.

"President Yasser Arafat's health worsened in the night," said Gen. Christian Estripeau, spokesman for the Percy Military Training Hospital outside Paris. "His coma, which led to his admission to the intensive care unit, became deeper this morning."

In comments that appeared to suggest that the Palestinian leader may not recover, he added that Arafat's deterioration "marks a significant stage toward a development for which we reserve our prognosis."

The comments were by far the most detailed by doctors since Arafat was admitted to the hospital Oct. 29, and they came amid a dramatic dispute between Arafat's wife Suha and Palestinian officials whom she has accused of trying to topple the veteran leader.

Four top Palestinian officials - including Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and former premier Mahmoud Abbas - arrived in Paris late Monday, amid confusion over his condition and despite uncertainty that they would be allowed to see him.

Prior to Estripeau's announcement, Palestinian envoy Leila Shahid - one of a small inner circle allowed access to his bedside to date - had said in a radio interview last week that Arafat was in a "reversible" coma and was "between life and death."

Media reports, epecially in Israel, have said he was brain dead. But other Palestinian leaders - and Suha Arafat - have painted a less dire picture.

Shahid had suggested the coma occurred after Arafat was put under anesthesia for medical tests including an endoscopy, colonoscopy and a biopsy of the spinal cord.

Comment: There are so many rumours circulating about Arafat, most of them from Israeli sources, that it is hard to know what is really going on. That he was poisoned by Israel is certainly of a high probability. Israeli threats against his life have been constant and open. The Isrealis are no doubt hoping the post-Arafat era will be one of in-fighting among the Palestinians. It has long been the Israeli goal to provoke a civil war between the different Palestinian groups.

The reports of Arafat's riches, sequestered away in bank accounts to which only he has the numbers, may also be part of the disinformation campaign. We would not be surprised that Arafat had money somewhere, but the amounts floated in the Israeli press are likely to be vastly bloated. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, there are likely to be ten or a hundred crooks fighting for power for every honest man or woman.

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Neocons Gone Wild

Jim Lobe
November 08, 2004

An influential foreign-policy neoconservative with close and long-standing ties to top hawks in the George W. Bush administration has laid out what he calls ''a checklist of the work the world will demand of this president and his subordinates in a second term.''

The list, which begins with the destruction of Falluja in Iraq and ends with the development of ''appropriate strategies'' for dealing with threats posed by China, Russia and ''the emergence of a number of aggressively anti-American regimes in Latin America,'' calls for ''regime change'' in Iran and North Korea.

The list's author, Frank Gaffney, the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), also warns that the Bush administration should resist any pressure arising from the anticipated demise of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to resume peace talks that could result in Israel's giving up ''defensible boundaries.''

While all seven steps Gaffney listed in an article published Friday morning in the National Review Online have long been favoured by prominent neocons, the article itself, entitled 'Worldwide Value', is the first comprehensive compilation to emerge since Bush's re-election Tuesday.

It is also sure to be contested—not just by Democrats who, with the election behind them, are poised to take a more anti-war position on Iraq—but by many conservative Republicans in Congress as well. They blame the neoconservatives for failing to anticipate the quagmire in Iraq and worry that their grander ambitions, such as those set forth by Gaffney, will bankrupt the treasury and break an already-overextended military.

Yet its importance as a road map of where neoconservatives—who, with the critical help of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, dominated Bush's foreign policy after the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon—want U.S. policy to go was underlined by Gaffney's listing of the names of his friends in the administration who, in his words, ''helped the president imprint moral values on American security policy in a way and to an extent not seen since Ronald Reagan's first term.''

In addition to Cheney and Rumsfeld, he cited the most clearly identified—and controversial—neoconservatives serving in the administration: Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby; his top Middle East advisors, John Hannah and David Wurmser; weapons proliferation specialist Robert Joseph and top Mideast aide Elliott Abrams on the National Security Council; Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith; and Feith's top Mideast aide, William Luti in the Pentagon; and Undersecretaries for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton and for Global Issues Paula Dobriansky at the State Department.

Virtually all of the same individuals have been cited by critics of the Iraq war, including Democratic lawmakers and retired senior foreign service and military officials, as responsible for hijacking the policy and intelligence process that led to the U.S. invasion.

Indeed, in a lengthy interview about the war last May on 60 Minutes, the former head of the U.S. Central Command and Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief Middle East envoy until 2003, ret. Gen. Anthony Zinni called for the resignation of Libby, Abrams, Wolfowitz and Feith, as well as Rumsfeld, for their roles.

Zinni also cited former Defense Policy Board (DPB) chairman Richard Perle, who has been close to Gaffney since both of them served, with Abrams, in the office of Washington State Sen. Henry M. Jackson in the early 1970s. When Perle became an assistant secretary of defense under Reagan, he brought Gaffney along as his deputy. When Perle left in 1987, Gaffney succeeded him before setting up CSP in 1989.

As Perle's long-time protegé and associate, Gaffney sits at the center of a network of interlocking think tanks, foundations, lobby groups, arms manufacturers and individuals that constitute the coalition of neoconservatives, aggressive nationalists like Cheney and Rumsfeld, and Christian Right activists responsible for the unilateralist trajectory of U.S. foreign policy since 9/11.

Included among CSP's board of advisors over the years have been Rumsfeld, Perle, Feith, Christian moralist William Bennett, Abrams, Feith, Joseph, former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, former Navy Undersecretary John Lehman, and former CIA director James Woolsey, who also co-chairs the new Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), another prominent neoconservative-led lobby group that argues that Washington is now engaged in ''World War IV'' against ''Islamo-fascism.''

Also serving on its advisory council are executives from some of the country's largest military contractors, which finance CSP's work, along with contributions from wealthy pro-Likud individuals, such as prominent New York investor Lawrence Kadish and California casino king Irving Moskowitz, and right-wing foundations, such as the Bradley, Sarah Scaife and Olin Foundations.

Gaffney, a ubiquitous ''talking head'' on television in the run-up to the war in Iraq, himself sits on the boards of CPD's parent organisations, the Foundation for the Defense Democracies (FDD) and Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT), and also was a charter associate, along with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz and Abrams, of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), another prominent neoconservative-led group that offered up a similar checklist of what Bush should do in the ''war on terrorism'' just nine days after the 9/11 attacks.

His article opens by trying to pre-empt an argument that is already being heard on the right against expanding Bush's ''war on terrorism;'' namely that, since a plurality of Bush voters identified ''moral values'' as their chief concern, the president should stick to his social conservative agenda rather than expand the war.

''The reality is that the same moral principles that underpinned the Bush appeal on 'values' issues like gay marriage, stem-cell research, and the right to life were central to his vision of U.S. war aims and foreign policy,'' Gaffney wrote. ''Indeed, the president laid claim square to the ultimate moral value—freedom—as the cornerstone of his strategy for defeating our Islamofascist enemies and their state sponsors, for whom that concept is utterly (sic) anathema.''

To be true to that commitment, policy in the second administration must be directed toward seven priorities, Gaffney says, beginning with the ''reduction in detail of Fallujah and other safe havens utilized by freedom's enemies in Iraq;'' followed by ''(r)egime change—one way or another—in Iran and North Korea, the only hope for preventing these remaining 'Axis of Evil' states from fully realizing their terrorist and nuclear ambitions.''

Third, the administration must provide ''the substantially increased resources need to re-equip a transforming military and rebuild human-intelligence capabilities (minus, if at all possible, the sorts of intelligence 'reforms' contemplated pre-election that would make matters worse on this and other scores) while we fight World War IV, followed by enhancing ''protection of our homeland,'' including deploying effective missile defenses at sea and in space, as well as ashore.''

Fifth, Washington must keep ''faith with Israel, whose destruction remains a priority for the same people who want to destroy us (and...for our shared 'moral values) especially in the face of Yasser Arafat's demise and the inevitable, post-election pressure to 'solve' the Middle East problem by forcing the Israelis to abandon defensible boundaries.''

Sixth, the administration must deal with France and Germany and the dynamic that made them ''so problematic in the first term: namely, their willingness to make common cause with our enemies for profit and their desire to employ a united Europe and its new constitution—as well as other international institutions and mechanisms—to thwart the expansion and application of American power where deemed necessary by Washington.''

Finally, Bush must adapt ''appropriate strategies for contending with China's increasingly fascistic trade and military policies, (Russian President) Vladimir Putin's accelerating authoritarianism at home and aggressiveness toward the former Soviet republics, the worldwide spread of Islamofascism, and the emergence of a number of aggressively anti-American regimes in Latin America,''—which Gaffney does not further identify.

''These items do not represent some sort of neocon 'imperialist' game plan,'' Gaffney stressed. ''Rather, they constitute a checklist of the work the world will demand of this president and his subordinates in a second term."

Comment: Woohoo! The US is gonna take on the world! Wishful thinking will get ya every time. That is not to say that these crazed Neocons won't have a go anyway, and, hey!, if a few billion get wiped out in the process, so much the better!

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Bush's 'Incredible' Vote Tallies
By Sam Parry
November 9, 2004

George W. Bush’s vote tallies, especially in the key state of Florida, are so statistically stunning that they border on the unbelievable.

While it’s extraordinary for a candidate to get a vote total that exceeds his party’s registration in any voting jurisdiction – because of non-voters – Bush racked up more votes than registered Republicans in 47 out of 67 counties in Florida. In 15 of those counties, his vote total more than doubled the number of registered Republicans and in four counties, Bush more than tripled the number.

Statewide, Bush earned about 20,000 more votes than registered Republicans.

By comparison, in 2000, Bush’s Florida total represented about 85 percent of the total number of registered Republicans, about 2.9 million votes compared with 3.4 million registered Republicans.

Bush achieved these totals although exit polls showed him winning only about 14 percent of the Democratic vote statewide – statistically the same as in 2000 when he won 13 percent of the Democratic vote – and losing Florida’s independent voters to Kerry by a 57 percent to 41 percent margin. In 2000, Gore won the independent vote by a much narrower margin of 47 to 46 percent.

[For details on the Florida turnout in 2000, see here. For details on the 2004 Florida turnout, see here]

Exit Poll Discrepancies

Similar surprising jumps in Bush’s vote tallies across the country – especially when matched against national exits polls showing Kerry winning by 51 percent to 48 percent – have fed suspicion among rank-and-file Democrats that the Bush campaign rigged the vote, possibly through systematic computer hacking.

Republican pollster Dick Morris said the Election Night pattern of mistaken exit polls favoring Kerry in six battleground states – Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa – was virtually inconceivable.

“Exit polls are almost never wrong,” Morris wrote. “So reliable are the surveys that actually tap voters as they leave the polling places that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries. … To screw up one exit poll is unheard of. To miss six of them is incredible. It boggles the imagination how pollsters could be that incompetent and invites speculation that more than honest error was at play here.”

But instead of following his logic that the discrepancy suggested vote tampering – as it would in Latin America, Africa or Eastern Europe – Morris postulated a bizarre conspiracy theory that the exit polls were part of a scheme to have the networks call the election for Kerry and thus discourage Bush voters on the West Coast. Of course, none of the networks did call any of the six states for Kerry, making Morris’s conspiracy theory nonsensical. Nevertheless, some Democrats have agreed with Morris's bottom-line recommendation that the whole matter deserves “more scrutiny and investigation.” [The Hill, Nov. 8, 2004]

Erroneous Votes

Democratic doubts about the Nov. 2 election have deepened with anecdotal evidence of voters reporting that they tried to cast votes for Kerry but touch-screen voting machines came up registering their votes for Bush.

In Ohio, election officials said an error with an electronic voting system in Franklin County gave Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, more than 1,000 percent more than he actually got.

Yet, without a nationwide investigation, it’s impossible to know whether those cases were isolated glitches or part of a more troubling pattern.

If Bush’s totals weren’t artificially enhanced, they would represent one of the most remarkable electoral achievements in U.S. history.

In the two presidential elections since Sen. Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton in 1996, Bush would have increased Republican voter turnout nationwide by a whopping 52 percent from just under 40 million votes for Dole to just under 60 million votes for the GOP ticket in 2004.

Such an increase in voter turnout over two consecutive election cycles is not unprecedented, but has historically flowed from landslide victories that see shifting voting patterns, with millions of crossover voters straying from one party to the other.

For example, in 1972, Richard Nixon increased Republican turnout by 73.5 percent over Barry Goldwater’s performance two elections earlier. But this turnout was amplified by the fact that Goldwater lost in 1964 to Lyndon Johnson by about 23 percentage points and Nixon trounced George McGovern by 23 percentage points.

What’s remarkable about Bush’s increase over the last two elections is that Democrats have done an impressive job boosting their own voter turnout from 1996 to 2004. Over this period, candidates Al Gore and John Kerry increased Democratic turnout by about 18 percent, from roughly 47.5 million votes in 1996 to nearly 56 million in 2004.

What this suggests is that Bush is not so much winning his new votes from Democrats crossing over, but rather by going deeper than many observers thought possible into new pockets of dormant Republican voters.

Bush’s Gains

But where did these new voters come from, and how did Bush manage to accelerate his turnout gains at a time when the Democratic ticket was also substantially increasing its turnout?

While the statistical analysis of these new voters is only just beginning, Bush’s ability to find nearly 9 million new voters in an election year when his Democratic opponent also saw gains of about 5 million new voters is the story of the 2004 election.

Exit polls also suggest that voters identifying themselves as Republicans voted as a greater proportion of the electorate than in 2000 and that Bush won a slightly greater percent of the Republican vote.

The party breakdown in 2000 was 39 percent Democrats, 35 percent Republicans, and 27 percent independents. In 2000, Bush won the Republican vote by 91 percent to 8 percent; narrowly won the independent vote by 47 percent to 45 percent and picked up 11 percent of the Democratic vote compared with Gore’s Democratic turnout of 86 percent. [See here for details.]

According to exit polls this year, the turnout broke evenly among Democrats and Republicans, with about 37 percent each. Independents represented about 26 percent of the electorate. Kerry actually did better among independents, winning that group of voters by a narrow 49 percent to 48 percent margin.

However, Bush did slightly better among the larger number of Republican voters, winning 93 percent of their vote, while matching his 2000 performance by taking about 11 percent of the Democratic vote.

Registration Up

While this turnout might strike many observers as unusual in an election year that witnessed huge voter registration and mobilization efforts by Democrats and groups aligned with Democrats, the increased GOP turnout does seem to fit with the campaign strategy deployed by the Bush team to run to the base.

From the start of the 2004 campaign, political strategist Karl Rove and the Bush team made its goals clear – maximize Bush’s support among social and economic conservatives – including Evangelicals and Club for Growth/anti-government conservatives – and turn them out by driving up Kerry’s negatives with harsh attacks questioning Kerry’s leadership credentials.

This strategy emerged from Rove’s estimate after the 2000 election that 4 million Evangelical voters stayed home that year. The Bush/Rove strategy in 2004 rested primarily on turning out that base of support.

But, even if one were to estimate that 100 percent of these Evangelical voters turned out for Bush in 2004 and that 100 percent of Bush’s 2000 supporters turned out again for him, this still leaves about 5 million new Bush voters unaccounted for.

Altogether, Bush’s new 9 million votes came mainly from the largest states in the country. But nowhere was Bush’s performance more incredible than in Florida, where Bush found roughly 1 million new voters, about 11 percent all new Bush voters nationwide and more than twice the number of new voters than in any other state other than Texas.

Bush increased his turnout in all 67 Florida counties, marking the second consecutive election in which Bush increased Republican vote totals in all Florida counties, and overall achieved a 34 percent increase in Florida votes over his 2000 total.

Since Bob Dole’s 1996 turnout of 2.24 million Florida votes, Bush has increased the GOP’s performance in the state by an astonishing 74 percent. Making Bush’s gains even more impressive, Kerry also saw gains in all but five Florida counties and in 22 counties earned at least 10,000 more votes than Gore earned in 2000.

Exceeding Kerry

But Bush’s vote gains exceeded Kerry’s in all the large counties in the state except in heavily Democratic Miami-Dade, where Kerry increased his turnout by 56,000 new votes compared with Bush’s 40,000 new votes. This Democratic improvement in Miami-Dade seems to have come in large part from Democratic success in registering new voters in the county by almost a 2-to-1 margin over Republicans.

In spite of this new-voter registration advantage, Kerry only earned a 7-to-5 increase of new voter turnout over Bush in Miami-Dade, a statistical oddity given the fact that Kerry did a better job than Gore in turning out his Democratic base, earning a vote total equaling 85 percent of all registered Democrats in the county compared with Gore’s total in 2000 equaling 83 percent of all registered Democrats.

In other Democratic strongholds of Broward and Palm Beach counties, Kerry gained 114,000 new voters, earning nearly 770,000 votes, and bested Bush by more than 320,000 votes. But, this was actually a modest improvement for Bush over 2000, thanks to Bush’s increase of 119,000 new voters in these counties, from 330,000 votes in 2000 to 449,000 votes in 2004.

Bush’s performance in these two counties is worth studying in greater detail. In both counties, Democrats saw a significant increase in new voter registration since 2000, more than 77,000 newly registered Democrats in Broward and 34,000 newly registered Democrats in Palm Beach.

Republicans on the other hand only registered 17,000 new voters in Broward and a bit more than 2,000 new voters in Palm Beach. While both counties saw substantial numbers of new unaffiliated or third party registered voters, the Democratic advantage in both counties combined of more than 111,000 newly registered Dems against fewer than 20,000 newly registered GOP voters, as well as the voter intensity that these new registration rates usually represent, suggested that Kerry should have done better than Bush relative to the 2000 election.

Instead, Bush actually increased his vote total in the two counties by earning about 5,000 more new voters than Kerry.

New Level

Beyond southern Florida, Bush took turnout throughout the state to a new level, testing the bounds of statistical probability by winning votes seemingly from every corner of the state, from the panhandle to the Gulf Coast, from the I-4 corridor to the Atlantic Coast from Jacksonville to Miami.

Another county worth examining in some detail is Orange County, a swing county home to Orlando in the center of the state. As in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward counties, Democrats successfully registered substantially more new voters than Republicans, about 49,000 new Democrats against about 25,000 new Republicans.

These gains broke what was once a statistical tie in registered voters between the parties, giving Democrats a 214,000 to 187,000 advantage across the county. But Kerry only managed a narrow countywide victory with 192,030 votes against 191,389 votes for Bush. In 2000, Gore carried the county with 140,115 votes against 134,476 votes for Bush.

While it's conceivable Bush might have achieved these and other gains through his hardball campaign strategies and strong get-out-the-vote effort, many Americans, looking at these and other statistically incredible Bush vote counts, are likely to continue to suspect that the Republicans put a thumb on the electoral scales, somehow exaggerating Bush's tallies through manipulation of computer tabulations.

Only an open-minded investigation with public scrutiny would have much hope of quelling these rising suspicions.

Comment: When dealing with the most important choices with which we are faced, or deciding whether to believe the lie or find the truth, there is always a grey zone, a zone where there could be a "rational explanation". In this article, the writer is willing to concede that there is a "rational explanation" for Bush winning so handily in Florida, in spite of exit polls, in spite of the large number of new Democratic voters. Many people will accept this explanation, not wanting to dig further.

The tone of this article makes it clear that the writer has doubts about this "rational explanation".

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Bush victory starts rush to leave US for 'safer' life abroad

By Paul Chapman in Wellington
(Filed: 09/11/2004)

Americans have been bombarding New Zealand officials with inquiries about emigrating since President George W Bush was re-elected last week.

The Immigration Service in Wellington said its website recorded 10,300 hits from America the day after Mr Bush was re-elected, more than four times the average of 2,500. A further 300 inquiries were being received daily by telephone and e-mail, compared with about eight a day before the election.

Don Badman, the service's marketing manager, said: "It has exploded. It really started picking up from 11pm on the night of the election." Interest is especially strong in Democrat-voting San Francisco and Los Angeles, where before the election many people threatened to leave if Bush won.

The size of his victory has led hardcore Democrats, as well as homosexuals, opponents of the Iraq war and supporters of abortion rights to fear that their values and way of life may be at risk.

Canada and Australia have also reported renewed interest from Americans.

New Zealand is seen as a relatively safe destination, because of its geographical remoteness and because the Labour-led government has distanced itself from the war in Iraq. It has said it will not be replacing a force of 61 army engineers who have just finished a post-war tour of duty attached to British troops in Basra.

Helen Clark, the prime minister, was careful not to link the surge in immigration inquiries with the election in America. Analysts said Miss Clark has no wish to undermine her government's uneasy relationship with the Bush administration.

"We regard US migration as very desirable," she said.

New Zealand has enjoyed a high profile in America in recent years thanks to the filming of The Lord of the Rings trilogy amid some of its most spectacular scenery.

Comment: Not a bad idea all in all. Voting with ballots didn't work, so perhaps it's time for Americans to vote with their feet.

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The murder that shattered Holland's liberal dream

Jason Burke reports from Amsterdam on the anger in a once-tolerant Netherlands over the killing of a director whose film attacked Islam

Sunday November 7, 2004
The Observer

The future, Samir believes, is grim. 'We are hated now,' the teenager said, leaning over the handlebars of his bicycle. 'Whatever we do will be wrong, everything we say will be wrong, everywhere we go will be wrong.'

Samir was born in the Netherlands but is of Moroccan descent. He does not pray or go to a mosque, but says he is proud to be a Muslim and proud to be Dutch. He is not alone in his fear and confusion.

This weekend the nation known for its relaxed tolerance is gripped by tension, anger and insecurity. An outspoken film-maker, Theo van Gogh, was shot dead by a 26-year-old Dutch-born Muslim last Tuesday. Since then a series of public figures have been threatened with death by Islamic extremists. The murder has catalysed a steady erosion of the Dutch tradition of moderation and self-censorship on race and religion.

Even politicians on the left spoke last week of 'harsh truths' on immigration, noting that 5 per cent of the population is now Muslim and saying 'foreigners' top the lists of criminality and truancy. One web-based book of condolences for van Gogh had to be shut down because of racist abuse. As he spoke, Samir waved towards the grim housing estate on the outskirts of Amsterdam where van Gogh's alleged killer lived. 'I don't know what happens now, but it isn't going to be good,' he said.

Van Gogh's murder was apparently sparked by a documentary he made earlier this year with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born woman politician who calls herself 'an ex-Muslim'. The provocative film, broadcast on national television, featured quotes from the Koran, which Muslims believe is the word of God, projected on to a naked female body with a commentary composed of the testimonies of abused Muslim women. [...]

'It is terrible. There is madness in the world,' said Fred, 46, a postal worker laying a bunch of blue tulips. 'It didn't happen 40 years ago before the first big waves of immigration.'

Such views, unspoken in the past, are now commonly voiced. 'For too long we haven't spoken the truth about the situation with Muslim immigrants,' said one mourner at van Gogh's offices on the day after his death. 'No one wanted to face up to it. Theo just said what people were thinking.'

Gils van de Westelaken, van Gogh's business partner and close friend, said the country had lost its way. 'It is an accident waiting to happen. If you got a real rightwinger with charisma and drive, who knows where it could lead. We have had a tolerant tradition for 400 years, but though we are proud of our image it doesn't entirely reflect reality. In the UK you have a straighter way of dealing with immigration. Here, in the name of tolerance, a lot of difficult issues are never discussed.'

As van der Westelaken spoke, the family and friends of van Gogh, who had a 13-year-old son, watched an edit of his latest film, to be released in December, about the murder of Pim Fortuyn, a gay rightwinger whose anti-immigration rhetoric brought him a massive wave of support in the run-up to elections two years ago. Fortuyn was killed, by an animal rights activist, before the poll.

The film implies that the Dutch security services allowed Fortuyn to die, under pressure from American businesses anxious to conclude an arms deal that he opposed.

Van Gogh had as high a profile as Fortuyn - and a similar taste for shocking people. He had been fired by virtually every Dutch newspaper after columns he wrote offended readers. He lambasted strict Catholics and compared the Jewish mayor of Amsterdam to a 'collaborator with the Germans' for taking a soft line on Islam after the 11 September attacks on the US.

Though many called for calm in the wake of the killing, there is now unprecedented support for tough measures. The Netherlands' ruling centre-right coalition has pledged to deport more than 25,000 illegal immigrants from the Netherlands, some of whom have been there for decades, and make language classes compulsory. Prayer leaders in mosques will have to attend lessons in Dutch culture. Last week the Justice Minister said she would strip any migrants convicted of terrorist offences of Dutch citizenship.

Experts say the root of the problem was 'cultural, not economic' and lay primarily in the failure of first-generation immigrants who arrived in the Sixties and Seventies to integrate. 'In many Moroccan-Dutch households they speak Berber or Arabic, so when the kids get to school they are already at a disadvantage,' said Rachid Jamari of the Amsterdam Centre for Foreigners. 'There needs to be a debate, both in the Muslim community and in society generally.'

Others see a change since al-Qaeda's 2001 attacks on America. 'A different wind is blowing now and there is far less understanding,' declared Mohammed el-Assiati, of the Dutch Moroccan Association. 'This could not have come at a worse time'.

Comment: So Pim Fortuyn was getting ready to blow the whistle on US/Dutch arms trading? And van Gogh was getting ready to discuss the same issue. How convenient to turn this into another "crazed Muslim fundamentalist".

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Dollar hits record low against euro
www.chinaview.cn 2004-11-08 21:19:24
BEIJING, Nov. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- The dollar fell as low as $1.2985 to the euro in morning trading, with analysts expecting the American currency to drop through the psychologically important $1.30 level.

The dollar weakened today despite Friday's upbeat US jobs report, evidence of how seriously the markets view the imbalances in the US economy.

The latest weakening of the greenback began last Wednesday amid scepticism that George Bush, who has won another four years in the White House, will do much to tame the towering US deficits.

The US budget deficit is about $427bn, or 3.7% of gross domestic product, while its current account - the broadest measure of trade - widened to a record $166.1bn in the second quarter.

The dollar's weakness was broad based with the U.S. currency hitting a nine-year low against a wide range of currencies below 83.80, a 12-year low against the Canadian dollar and multi-month lows against sterling and the yen.

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What's Up in Space -- 9 Nov 2004
Space Weather News

AURORA WATCH: A coronal mass ejection (CME) is heading for Earth. When it arrives, perhaps tonight, it could trigger a geomagnetic storm and auroras. Stay tuned for updates.

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Huge craters confirm meteorite impact on Earth!

source

[Technology India]: London, Nov 8 : Huge craters discovered in the Sahara desert have confirmed that Earth suffered from simultaneous meteor impacts in the recent past.

According to Newscientist, the largest field of impact craters ever uncovered on Earth had gone unnoticed until now because it is partially buried beneath the sands of the Sahara desert in south-west Egypt.

Philippe Paillou of Bordeaux University Observatory in Floirac, France, first noticed circular geological structures in the Sahara last year, while analysing radar satellite pictures of the area.

The structures turned out to be part of a huge field of 100 craters spread over 5000 square kilometres near the Gilf Kebir plateau. The craters vary in diameter from 20 metres to 2 kilometres across. The previous largest known crater field covers a mere 60 square kilometres in Argentina.

In February, Paillou led a joint Egyptian and French mission to find the site and examined 13 of the craters, confirming that they were the result of simultaneous impacts. But accurately dating the field has been tricky. Paillou estimates that it is roughly 50 million years old, relatively young in geological terms.

The size of the field suggests that it could be the result of two or more meteors disintegrating as they entered Earth's atmosphere, the first evidence of a multiple strike, he says.

"Because the field is so big, it can't have been made by one meteor," Paillou was quoted as saying. (ANI)

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