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Picture of the Day


Rainbow at St Puy
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Is Bush Nuts?

by William Thomas

What drives a man to go against the wishes of his countryfolk and the entire world community - including the presidents of Russia, China, France and Germany?

How can a professed Christian continue to defy church leaders worldwide - including the Bishops of Britain and the Pope? How does he rationalize breaking the commandments of his God, which clearly prohibit coveting another's property, theft of their oil, and mass murder of defenseless populations?

How can he ignore his own generals when they complain, "We're advocating a policy that says we will invade another nation that is not currently attacking us or invading any of our allies." [Capitol Hill Blue Jan, 22, 2003]

To those who deem it unseemly to count the bricks on one man's load, let us recall that this unelected President is one brick short of killing what the UN fears could be up to a half-million people in Iraq. This massacre could easily see Pakistan's government – and its 30 to 40 nukes – falling to an al Qaeda/Taliban majority. Bush's announced plans to attack North Korea and Iran have already prompted both countries to hit the nuclear gas pedal, virtually assuring a "nuclear event". And his $5 trillion blowout has taken the American economy to a $2 trillion deficit in two short years. As ignored global warming triggers Extreme Weather Events, frightened Nobel price-winning economists warn that GW's proposed $600 billion tax cut is "fiscal madness" - "a very serious economic error" that will collapse the country in exactly the same way the ex-Soviet Empire went bust buying and deploying so many arms in so many places. Ditto Imperial Rome.

Are these the acts of a rational person?

Not since Nixon's famous freak-outs in the White House, which saw National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger ordering military commanders to ignore nuclear launch orders from their Commander-In-Chief, is it so urgent that we examine a president's cognitive capacities. [The Trial of Henry Kissinger]

It might be useful to scrutinize the following findings. While everyone "goes nuts" from time to time, the salient question is whether traits described below dominate and drive today's presidential decisions. Is a man called by other government reps, "an idiot" "an imbecile" "dangerously incompetent" and "a moron" competent, capable and qualified to direct America's unchallenged military might?

Read on. If you dare.

Pattern Recognition

" Is The 'President' Nuts?" asks Carol Wolman, M.D. "Many people, inside and especially outside this country, believe that the American president is nuts, and is taking the world on a suicidal path." [Counterpunch Oct. 2, 2002]

A board-certified psychiatrist in practice for 30 years, Dr. Wolman feels compelled to understand the "psychopathology" of man "under tremendous pressure from both his family/junta, and from the world at large." Dr. Wolman wonders if GW is suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder, as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fourth Edition:

"There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others: 1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest; 2) deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure; 5) reckless disregard for safety of self or others; 7) lack of remorse by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated or stolen from others."

Dry Drunk

GW Bush is highly regarded for "kicking" the twin demons of cocaine and alcohol addiction. If he is still off both wagons and there is no proof that he isn't – such a triumph, encouraged and aided by his wife, is commendable.

When probing the mysteries of GW's brain chemistry, a key point to ponder is that damage done to brain cells from drug abuse is permanent and irreversible.

Quaker and university professor Katherine van Wormer co-authored the definitive, 2002, Addiction Treatment. This expert writes that "George W. Bush manifests all the classic patterns of what alcoholics in recovery call 'the dry drunk'. His behavior is consistent with being brought on by years of heavy drinking and possible cocaine use." [Counterpunch Oct. 11, 2002]

"Dry drunk," explains the professor, "is a slang term used by members and supporters of Alcoholics Anonymous and substance abuse counselors to describe the recovering alcoholic who is no longer drinking - one who is dry, but whose thinking is clouded."

Such an individual is 'dry' but not truly sober. Such individuals tend to go to overboard. A good example of Bush' "polarized thinking" is his call for "crusades" based on "infinite justice" for "evil-doers" comprising an "axis of evil".

Bush's "obsessive repetition" also remind this professor, "of many of the recovering alcoholics/addicts I had treated." Van Wormer worriers, "His power, in fact, is such that if he collapses into paranoia, a large part of the world will collapse with him."

Paranoia? Impatience? Rigid judgmental outlook? Grandiose behavior? Childish behavior? Irresponsible behavior? Irrational rationalization? Projection? Overreaction? these are all "dry drunk" traits.

Van Wormer observers that Bush's pompous pledge: "We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction" is a projection from the world's leading rogue state preparing to attack with nuclear weapons.

"Bush's tendency to dichotomize reality" should be emphasized. Prof. van Wormer describes this is as either/or reasoning - "either you are with us or against us". A White House spokesperson puts it this way: "The President considers this nation to be at war, and, as such, considers any opposition to his policies to be no less than an act of treason.'' [Capitol Hill Blue Jan, 22, 2003]

BUSH'S BINGES – HISTORY IMPACTS THE PRESENT

Bush's binges were legendary. Van Wormer describes "years of binge drinking starting in college, at least one conviction for DUI in 1976 in Maine, and one arrest before that for a drunken episode involving theft of a Christmas wreath." She adds:

"The Bush biography reveals the story of a boy named for his father, sent to the exclusive private school in the East where his father's reputation as star athlete and later war hero were still remembered. The younger George's achievements were dwarfed in the school's memory of his father. Athletically he could not achieve his father's laurels, being smaller and perhaps less strong. His drinking bouts and lack of intellectual gifts held him back as well. His military record was mediocre as compared to his father's as well. [He went AWOL] "

In Fortunate Son, Bush himself explained: "Alcohol began to compete with my energies ... I'd lose focus". Though he once said he couldn't remember a day he hadn't had a drink, he quickly added the giveaway phrase that he didn't believe he was "clinically alcoholic".

Van Wormer notes that "Bush drank heavily for over 20 years until he made the decision to abstain at age 40. About this time he became a 'born again Christian' – going as usual from one extreme to the other." When asked in an interview about his reported cocaine use, he answered reasonably, "I'm not going to talk about what I did 20 to 30 years ago".

One motive driving Dubya could be his need "to prove himself to his father - to achieve what his father failed to do - to finish the job of the Gulf War, to get the 'evildoer' Saddam." Adds van Wormer, "His drive to finish his father's battles is of no small significance, psychologically."

Brain Damage

According to Van Wormer, "scientists can now observe changes that occur in the brain as a result of heavy alcohol and other drug abuse. Some of these changes may be permanent."

Van Wormer characterizes this damage as "barely noticeable but meaningful." Researchers have found that brain chemistry irregularities caused by long bouts of drinking or drug abuse cause "messages in one part of the brain to become stuck there. This leads to maddening repetition of thoughts."

One of these powerful "stuck" thoughts, says van Wormer, is that "President Bush seems unduly focused upon getting revenge on Saddam Hussein ('He tried to kill my Dad'), leading the country and the world into war, accordingly."

Grandiosity is another major trait of former addicts brain-damaged by their addiction. Bush has reversed the successful, five-decade old U.S. policy of containment and no first strikes. Now he says, Americans can attack anyone, anywhere at any time with any weapons of their choosing – including banned cluster bomb munitions, radioactive explosives and nuclear bombs.

AN AGENT OF ARMAGEDDON?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, a person suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, "Has a grandiose sense of self-importance-exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements."

Sound familiar?

This personality is preoccupied with fantasies of power and being loved. Such a person requires "automatic compliance". He or she is "exploitative" of others, "lacks empathy, is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others." And also "shows arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes."

"This set of characteristics," says Dr. Wolman, not too reassuringly, "may describe Rumsfeld and Cheney better than Dubya."

For those who, like Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stieglitz, warn that Bush "has been captured by a small group of ideologues," Dependent Personality Disorder describes someone who "has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others." [CBC Feb. 10, 2003]

From a Jungian perspective, writes Dr. Wolman, "Dubya may be identifying with an archetype – something out of Revelations, perhaps, whereby he sees himself as an instrument of God's will to bring about Armageddon." Concurs Katherine van Wormer, "To fight evil, Bush is ready to take on the world, in almost a Biblical sense."

A PRESIDENTIAL PATHOLOGY

Is Bush's belligerence bent on securing another oil fix? Katherine van Wormer believes that a Portland peace protestor's sign, "Drunk on Power" nailed it. Says this quiet Quaker, "The drive for power can be an unquenchable thirst, addictive in itself."

Senator William Fulbright agrees. His bestseller, The Arrogance of Power defined power politics as the pursuit of power. "The causes and consequences of war may have more to do with pathology than with politics," Fulbright wrote.

A key "dry drunk" trait is impatience. Bush, who often describes himself as "a patient man", is not. Just four weeks after inspectors went into Iraq, he called for obliterating Baghdad. "If we wait for threats to fully materialize", Bush pointed out to West Pointers, "we will have waited too long". Translations: It's okay to attack projections of our own fearful imaginings – in case those phantom threats someday become real.

Alan Bisbort's "Dry Drunk - Is Bush Making a Cry for Help?" appeared in American Politics Journal. Bisbort believes that Bush's "incoherence" when speaking away from prepared scripts is a classic sign of addicted brain damage.

For Bisbort, another "dry drunk" tip-off is Dubya's irritability with anyone who dares disagree with him – including Germany's new leader, who insists he is opposing Bush's folly in Iraq as a concerned long-time friend of America. (Schroeder's wife is American.)

Another "Dry drunk" sign says van Wormer, is Dubya's "dangerous obsessing about only one thing (Iraq) to the exclusion of all other things."

Van Wormer's bottom line prognosis: "George W. Bush seems to possess the traits characteristic of addictive persons who still have the thought patterns that accompany substance abuse. The fact that some residual effects from his earlier substance abuse - however slight - might cloud the U.S. President's thinking and judgment is frightening, however, in the context of the current global crisis."

DON'T LAUGH

The Toronto Star recounts how NYU author and media critic Mark Crispin Miller attempted to catalogue GW's verbal gaffes. Some favorites: "The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country." "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."

"The future will be better tomorrow."

"He meant it for a laugh," wrote the Star. "Not now."

The author of Boxed In: The Culture of TV believes "Bush is not an imbecile. He's not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic personality. I think he's incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate sense of his own entitlement, and he's a very skilled manipulator. And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what a lot of people miss."

Miller's judgment - that an unelected president might suffer from a clinical personality disorder - is much heavier than being called the global village idiot. "He has no trouble speaking off the cuff when he's speaking punitively, when he's talking about violence, when he's talking about revenge. When he struts and thumps his chest, his syntax and grammar are fine," Miller mentions. "It's only when he leaps into the wild blue yonder of compassion, or idealism, or altruism, that he makes these hilarious mistakes."

Bush even has trouble repeating comforting clichés. "Fool me once, shame ... shame on ... you," Long, uncomfortable pause. "Fool me - can't get fooled again!"

While the world was laughing, Miller saw something darker. "What's revealing about this is that Bush could not say, `Shame on me' to save his life. That's a completely alien idea to him. This is a guy who is absolutely proud of his own inflexibility and rectitude," wrote Miller.

Miller says that Bush saying, "I know how hard it is to put food on your family" is not 'cause he's stupid, but "because he doesn't care about people who can't put food on the table."

When Bush is envisioning "a foreign-handed foreign policy," Miller contends it's because he can't keep his focus on things that mean nothing to him. "When he tries to talk about what this country stands for, or about democracy, he can't do it," Miller observes.

According to Miller, this is why GW is so closely watched by his handlers. "Not because he'll say something stupid," the Star paraphrased, "but because he'll overindulge in the language of violence and punishment at which he excels."

"He's a very angry guy, a hostile guy," Miller says. "He's much like Nixon. So they're very, very careful to choreograph every move he makes. They don't want him anywhere near protestors, because he would lose his temper." Adds this media expert, "It would be a grave mistake to just play him for laughs."

DEPRESSION CAN BE DANGEROUSLY DEPRESSING

Confronted by a man who will not listen to anyone but a few "chickenhawks" urging worldwide war, why shouldn't we feel depressed? Not surprisingly, we do.

Seventy percent of U.S. pastors constantly fight depression. Right now, almost three million Canadians are seriously depressed. (Multiply by four or five for approximate U.S. figures.) We can't blame GW for this. Or the fact that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds. But as the man responsible for perpetrating a worldwide bummer, George isn't helping! [www.tonycooke.org; National Institute of Mental Health]

If it's politically incorrect to ask these questions, how "correct" is it to launch 800 cruise missiles and thousands of one-ton bombs on a captive urban population already suffering the ravages of deliberately imposed hunger and disease?

Choka Cola

Another big clue to Dubya's displays of dementia comes in "photo-ops" showing him slugging back diet Coke with other Aspartame addicts, like Chicago's mayor Richard Daley. Their beet red faces spell either embarrassment over Bush's hijacking of America, or aspartame poisoning. [Chicago Sun Times, Sept. 27, 2002]

According to Carol Guilford, an Aspartame expert and support worker, the President-Select's "pretzel" pratfall was most likely an Aspartame seizure. Bush, like Carter, Al Gore and millions of Americans, is addicted to this constant caffeine hit. Among the FDA's listed 92 symptoms for Aspartame poisoning are: "Difficulty Swallowing", "Fainting" and "Unconsciousness".

Bush's facial lesions, removed as a result of "Too much sun" is another sign of Aspartame poisoning. So was his recent knee surgery: Aspartame depletes synovial fluid lubricating the joints.

Would you drink 6 to 12 cans of formaldehyde a day? It turns out that methanol in Aspartame converts to formaldehyde in the tissues. As Guildford wrote to USN Captain Eleanor Marino, Physician to the President (Feb. 21, 2002): 10% of a 200mg can of diet soda is straight methanol wood alcohol! Methanol is such a gross cumulative poison, the EPA's limit for drinking water is 7.8 mg daily. For serious addicts like Bush, the methanol intake can exceed 32 times the EPA's recommended limit..

Now the punch line: Clinical case studies show that, among other symptoms, Aspartame ingestion results in "mind fog", feeling "unreal", poor memory, confusion, anxiety, irritability, depression, mania, and slurred speech. [Neurology 1994]

Alcohol-related brain damage is not helped by chugging formaldehyde. James Turner, consumer protection lawyer and author of The Chemical Feast learned that an Oct. 1980 FDA inquiry found that the formaldehyde formed by Aspartame actually eats microscopic holes and triggers tumors in the brain.

That finding banned Aspartame from the food supply. But three months later, Searle CEO Donald Rumsfeld told that pharma giant's sales staff he would get Aspartame approved pronto. The next month, the FDA commissioner was replaced by Dr. Arthur Hayes. In Nov. 1983 the FDA approved aspartame for soft drinks. Under fire for accepting corporate bribes, Hayes went to work for Searle's public-relations firm. Searle lawyer Robert Shapiro coined the name NutraSweet. Monsanto bought Searle. Rumsfeld received $12 million for his help. Shapiro now heads Monsanto.

The same "revolving door" swings wide for arms makers and the oil mafia. The Big Question is: Why hasn't Dick warned George that the diet drinks he's swilling are eating his brain and making him crazy?

Crazy? Am I calling the President-Select of the Excited States crazy? Not me. As a journalist, I can only point out that published medical evidence goes frighteningly far in explaining GW's behavior. For certain, this good ol' boy should go in for a brain scan before being allowed to command more firepower than the next 11 nations combined. If George W. Bush is not crazy - he's sure acting like it.

Comment: See our article on Psychopathy for more on the nature of Bush and many members of his administration.

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What price innocence in the anarchy of Iraq?

Robert Fisk – The Independent November 17, 2004

Who killed Margaret Hassan? After the grief, the astonishment, heartbreak, anger and fury over the apparent murder of such a good and saintly woman, that is the question that her friends - and, quite possibly, the Iraqi insurgents - will be asking. This Anglo-Irish lady held an Iraqi passport. She had lived in Iraq for 30 years; she had dedicated her life to the welfare of Iraqis in need. She hated the UN sanctions and opposed the Anglo-American invasion. So who killed Margaret Hassan?

Of course, those of us who knew her will reflect on the appalling implications of the videotape, which, so her husband believes, is evidence of her death. If Margaret Hassan can be kidnapped and murdered, how much further can we fall into the Iraqi pit? There are no barriers, no frontiers of morality left. What price is innocence in the anarchy we have brought to Iraq? The answer is simple: nothing.

I remember her arguing with doctors and truck drivers when a lorry load of medicines arrived for children's cancer wards – courtesy of Independent readers – in 1998. She smiled, cajoled, pleaded to get these leukaemia drugs to Basra and Mosul. She would not have wished to be called an angel – Margaret didn't like clichés. Even now I want to write "doesn't like clichés"; are we really permitted to say that she is dead? For the bureaucrats and Western politicians who will today express their outrage and sorrow at her reported death, she had nothing but scorn.

Yes, she knew the risks. Margaret Hassan was well aware that many Iraqi women had been kidnapped, raped, ransomed or murdered by the Baghdad mafia. Because she is a Western woman – the first Western woman to be abducted and apparently murdered – we forget how many Iraqi women have already suffered this terrible fate. They go largely unreported in a world which counts dead American soldiers, but ignores fatalities among those with darker skins and browner eyes and a different religion, whom we claimed to have liberated.

And now let's remember the other, earlier videos. Margaret Hassan crying, Margaret Hassan fainting, Margaret Hassan having water thrown over her to revive her, Margaret Hassan crying again, pleading for the withdrawal of the Black Watch from the Euphrates river basin. In the background of these appalling pictures, there were none of the usual Islamic banners. There were none of the usual armed and hooded men. No Koranic recitations.

And when it percolated through to Fallujah and Ramadi that the mere act of kidnapping Margaret Hassan was close to heresy, the combined resistance groups of Fallujah – and the message genuinely came from them – demanded her release. So, incredibly, did Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qa'ida man whom the Americans falsely claimed to be leading the Iraqi insurrection – but who has very definitely been involved in kidnapping and beheading foreigners.

Other abducted women –the two Italian aid workers, for example –when their captors recognised their innocence. But not Margaret Hassan, even though she spoke fluent Arabic and could explain her work to her captors in their own language.

There was one mysterious video that floated to the surface this year, a group of armed men promising to seize Zarqawi, claiming he was anti-Iraqi, politely referring to the occupation armies as "the coalition forces". This was quickly nicknamed the "Allawi tape": after the US appointed, ex-CIA agent and Ex-Baathist who holds the title of "interim Prime Minister" in Iraq, the same Allawi who fatuously claimed there were no civilian deaths in Fallujah.

So, if anyone doubted the murderous nature of the insurgents, what better way to prove their viciousness than to produce evidence of Margaret Hassan's murder? What more ruthless way could there be of demonstrating to the world that America and Allawi's tinpot army were fighting "evil" in Fallujah and other Iraqi cities that are now controlled by Washington's enemies.

Even in the topsy-turvy world of Iraq, nobody is suggesting that people associated with the government of Mr Allawi had a hand in Margaret Hassan's death. Iraq, after all, is awash with up to 20 insurgent groups but also with rival gangs of criminals seeking to extort money from hostage taking.

But still the question has to be answered: who killed Margaret Hassan?

Comment: Indeed, who killed this woman? Who are these people who make demands of Western governments which they surely know will not capitulate? Who are these people who refuse to negotiate, who do not want money or power who have no apparent goals other than murdering Westerners on camera? What is their real agenda? Who benefits from her death and the impression that it gives to Western audiences? There is really only one answer...

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Mystery remains over who killed Margaret Hassan

Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
Thursday November 18, 2004
The Guardian

Iraqis say they have no clues to group which shot aid worker

Iraqi authorities yesterday admitted they still had no clear idea about who killed the aid worker Margaret Hassan. Investigators are being hindered by the uniqueness of the case, and the complexity of the insurgency.

In previous kidnappings, Iraq's several insurgent groups have been quick to identify themselves and claim responsibility, using videos to make their demands. From the moment Mrs Hassan was seized her case was different.

Mrs Hassan, who had Iraqi nationality and spoke fluent Arabic, was taken from her car as she drove to work at the Care offices in Baghdad on October 19. Two videos emerged, showing her in an increasingly desperate state pleading for her life and asking for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq.

At one point her kidnappers described themselves as an "armed Islamic group".

But unlike previous incidents they gave themselves no specific name and used no banners or flags to identify themselves.

Again in the final video showing her apparent death, shot in the head by a masked gunman, there was no insignia to identify a particular group.

Efforts were made to begin negotiations with her kidnappers but to no avail. Information campaigns were started and a poster showing Mrs Hassan holding a sick Iraqi child was put up on billboards across the capital. "Margaret Hassan is truly a daughter of Iraq. She is against the occupation," they read.

Her kidnappers were unmoved. At one point they threatened to hand her over to Tawhid and Jihad, the extreme militant group based in Falluja that is led by a young Iraqi named Omar Hadid and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the wanted Jordanian militant.

But Tawhid and Jihad, which has produced several videos of gruesome murders including that of Ken Bigley, the British contractor, promised to release Mrs Hassan if she was handed over to them.

Her case appears to confirm accounts from figures in the insurgency that the movement is made up of several independent groups with little overall leadership and with frequently different methods and agendas. [...]

But there appear to be other smaller offshoots. For some their agenda appears to be simply to force the US military and all other Westerners from Iraq and to destabilise the Baghdad government into collapse. Most were based in Falluja, at least until the US military operation last week, but have bases elsewhere including Baghdad and the town of Latifiya, south of the capital. The mutilated body of a woman, apparently a westerner, was found on a street in Falluja last week, though British officials said yesterday they have yet to determine whether it was Mrs Hassan.

Canon Andrew White, of Coventry Cathedral and the international director of the Iraqi Institute of Peace, was involved in negotiations to obtain Mrs Hassan's release. He said that "rogue terrorist groups" had begun to emerge and that her kidnappers were "very likely criminal".

"One of the worrying things about the development of the whole kidnapping scenario is that we are no longer dealing with the established groups where at least we understood something of their methodology. Now kidnapping is the kind of thing taken up by any kind of rogue terrorist group," he told the Guardian last night from Dubai. "They don't play by the rules of kidnapping." [...]

The leadership of the insurgent groups are predominantly Iraqi, though there are other Arab fighters involved at lower levels. Some of their agendas are regarded as too extreme even by mainstream insurgent figures.

Comment: Unknown "rogue" groups, with an unknown agenda, who "don't play by the rules" and who are not part of the real Iraqi resistance...

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Few foreigners among rebels captured in Fallujah

USA Today
11/15/2004

WASHINGTON (AP) — Only a tiny percentage of the more than 1,000 insurgents detained by U.S. forces in the Iraqi city of Fallujah over the past week are foreigners, a Marine officer said Monday.

Col. Michael Regner, operations chief for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said in a conference call with reporters at the Pentagon that 1,052 people had been detained at last count.

Of that total, he said at least 1,030 were Iraqis, meaning only about 20 were foreigners.

He gave no breakdown of nationalities. On Friday, Iraqi government officials said there were 15 foreigners in detention in Fallujah. Ten were Iranians and there was one each from Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt and Jordan and one who might be from France.

Regner did not detail the detention process, but his boss, Lt. Gen. John Sattler, told reporters Friday that people captured in Fallujah were being vetted; if they are found to be dislocated civilians, they are allowed to leave the U.S.-run detention compound.

Speaking from his post in Fallujah on what he said was the ninth day of the military operation, Regner said 37 U.S. Marines and soldiers had been killed in action there, plus one non-battle death. Of the 320 U.S. troops wounded in action, 134 had returned to duty, Regner said.

He declined to estimate the number of insurgents killed, although he said published estimates of 1,000 might be close. Nor did he estimate how many had escaped the city, but he said it was clear some had made it to Ramadi, the provincial capital west of Fallujah.

Although the heaviest fighting in Fallujah is over, Regner said, and 100% of the city has been "secured" — meaning U.S. forces can move about at will — he said he would not describe it as under full U.S. control because some insurgents were still holding out.

The Marines learned quickly that Fallujah was no ordinary battle, he said.

"If you weren't street-wise — and you got street-wise about an hour into this operation — you would find yourself as a casualty," he said.

He recounted a story of four Marines who were discussing, as bullets sprayed around them, what Hollywood actor would play the lead in a movie they envisioned, "The Battle for Fallujah." Just then a "bunker-buster" bomb struck an enemy hideout beside the Marines and they rushed inside to gun down the survivors. [...]

Comment: So, excuse us for asking, but wasn't the rationale for the attack on Fallujah, as espoused by Bush and Allawi, to rid the city of foreign "insurgents" and "free" the Iraqi people? Now it appears that there was only a tiny amount of foreign fighters in Fallujah, the vast majority being ordinary Iraqis attempting to defend their country. Again we see the lies that are peddled to the American people and troops, lies which they continuously swallow and which make them all complicit in the continuing genocide in Iraq.

But getting back to the real killers of Mrs. Hassan, consider the following points made by Kurt Nimmo:

  • More than 200 college professors since April 30, 2003, according to the Iraqi Union of University Lecturers, have been the targets of assassination. In addition, many intellectuals have disappeared. (See Andrew Rubin's Bloodbath.)
  • In December, 2003, Julian Borger of the Guardian reported, "Israeli advisers are helping train US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, including the use of assassination squads against guerrilla leaders. … US forces in Iraq's Sunni triangle have already begun to use tactics that echo Israeli operations in the occupied territories."
  • "A new Special Forces group, designated Task Force 121, has been assembled from Army Delta Force members, Navy seals, and C.I.A. paramilitary operatives, with many additional personnel," according to Seymour Hersh.
  • Israel funded Hamas, as the UPI's Richard Sale reported in 2002.
  • The Palestinian Authority arrested a group of collaborators who confessed they were working for Israel, posing as al-Qaeda operatives in the Palestinian territories, in December, 2002. A PA official said the collaborators sought to "discredit the Palestinian people, justify every Israeli crime and provide reasons to carry out a new (military) aggression in the Gaza Strip."
  • Israel currently runs covert ops in the Kurdish area of Iraq (see Seymour Hersh's Plan B)
  • A CIA instruction manual entitled Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare, written in the 1980s, states the following: "Bring about uprisings or shootings, which will cause the death of one or more persons … in order to create greater conflicts."
  • US military (and CIA operative) officer Major Edward Geary Lansdale's "psy-war tactics" used in the Philippines against the Huk. Lansdale's methods "centered on measures of deception similar to those employed in the British and French colonial campaigns in Kenya and Indochina," including the creation of bogus guerilla units used to discredit the enemy. (See Michael McClintock's Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism, 1940-1990.)

The fact is that one of the major operating procedures of Israeli and American intelligence or "counter insurgency" agencies is to "discredit" the enemy by any and all possible means. This includes the infamous "false flag" operations, where attacks are carried out by these agencies in such a way that the blame is pinned on the "enemy".

In the case of Mrs Hassan then; in the absence of any other evidence that her murder was carried out by real Iraqi insurgents, it is very likely that she was killed by agents of those countries that have most to gain from the continued demonisation of the real Iraqi resistance and the creation of evidence that supports the phony "war on terror", and we don't need to tell you who they are.

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More than 60 policemen kidnapped in Iraq on return from Jordan training
AFP
Wed Nov 17,12:33 PM ET

KARBALA, Iraq - More than 60 Iraqi policemen were kidnapped Sunday as they returned from training in Jordan, one of only three men who managed to escape the ambush told AFP.

"We were around 65 policemen returning from training in Jordan when around 20 masked gunmen entered our hotel Sunday morning in Trebil," said the policeman from the southern town of Karbala.

"They hooded all the policemen, tied their hands and took them away," said Leith Naama al-Kaabi.

"I managed to escape thanks to one of my colleagues. He was frog-walked into my room by a gunman but he managed to convince him that he was a car-dealer and that he didn't know who I was. The attacker hit me on the head with his gun and I lost consciousness," he recounted.

"When I awoke, I realised that the one who saved me and my room-mate had not been kidnapped. So we took a taxi and returned to Karbala," he explained.

On October 16, nine policemen from the Karbala region were killed on their way home from a training course in Jordan when their convoy was ambushed in the so-called "triangle of death" south of Baghdad.

Iraq's fledgling security forces are the target of daily attacks by insurgents across the war-torn country.

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NATO plans for Iraq mission hit new trouble
AFP
Nov 17, 2004

BRUSSELS - NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is furious over the refusal of some alliance members to allow their officers to take part in a NATO training mission in Iraq, officials said Wednesday.

NATO ambassadors adopted without debate on Wednesday an "operation plan" for the Iraq mission which foresees the dispatch of "200 to 300" military instructors to Iraq under heavy guard, officials said.

But behind the scenes, sources said that Germany in particular is holding out against letting its NATO staff officers take part in the mission, despite the hard-won political green light given to the proposal by the envoys.

A "heated exchange" occurred between the US and German representatives during the ambassadors' meeting, one source said.

"This is a serious issue and one the secretary general is looking into very closely," another official with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said on condition of anonymity.

The official refused to say which countries were refusing to release their officers attached to NATO, but Germany along with Belgium, France and Spain has refused to have any military involvement in the US-led coalition in Iraq.

In total, about a dozen of NATO's 26 member states do not want to take part in the training mission, the alliance's supreme military commander, US General James Jones, said recently.

France is not directly involved in the row because it is outside NATO's integrated military command.

But De Hoop Scheffer expects other countries such as Germany that are in the structure to release their NATO officers for Iraq training duty.

"For this caveat ... to spread would be corrosive for the solidarity of the alliance. It is something the secretary general will resist," the official said.

NATO leaders agreed at a June summit in Istanbul to help train Iraqi security forces, but their ambassadors battled for months to agree on the details.

NATO finally decided last month to send up to 400 instructors, aiming to get the bulk of them there in time for January elections.

During a visit to NATO headquarters earlier this month, Iraq's interim prime minister Iyad Allawi urged the military alliance to rush its training officers into the country, warning that any delay "could cost lives".

Comment: If Allawi really wants to save the lives of the Iraqi people, he should tell the US to stop the slaughter in Fallujah.

Under the newly agreed operation plan, the instructors would train about 1,000 Iraqi officers a year at a military academy near Baghdad. De Hoop Scheffer hopes to have the mission up and running by the end of the year.

The outgoing chairman of NATO's Military Committee, German General Harald Kujat, said the latest hitch to the Iraq operation was "extremely regrettable".

"This integrated command structure must function when we need it to function," he said.

"Now we need to implement this decision (the operation plan), and for that it is important that everybody contributes to that."

Kujat added that NATO cannot force a sovereign state into an operation against its will, "but in the past we have had operations without the participation of all members".

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Death, Delusion and Democracy

by Robert Fisk
The Independent
11/16/04

So the death of Yasser Arafat is a great new opportunity for the Palestinians, is it? The man who personified the Palestinian struggle - "Mr Palestine" - is dead. So things can only get better for the Palestinians. Death means democracy. Death means statehood. That the final demise of the corrupt old guerrilla leader should be a sign of optimism demonstrates just how catastrophic the conflict in the Middle East has now become. It's a bit like Fallujah. The more we destroy it, the crueler we are, the brighter the chances of Iraqi democracy. The more successful we are, the worse things are going to get. That's what George Bush said on Friday: that violence will increase as Iraqi elections grow closer - a total mind warp since the more violent Iraq becomes, the less the chances of any election ever being held.

Note how Bush could not even bring himself to mention Arafat's name. It's the same old agenda. The Palestinians have to have a democracy. They have to prove themselves; they - not the Israelis - have to show that they are a worthy "negotiating partner". And any new leader - the colorless Ahmad Qureia or the equally colorless and undemocratic Abu Mazen - must "control his own people". That was what Arafat failed to do even though he thought his job was to represent his own people, which is what democracy is supposed to be all about.

It's worth noting how this narrative has been written. The Israelis, with their continued occupation, their continued illegal construction of colonies for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, their air strikes and helicopter executions and live-fire shooting at stone-throwing children, are not part of this equation. They are just innocently waiting to find a new "negotiating partner" now that Arafat is in his grave. Ariel Sharon, held "personally responsible" for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre by the Kahan commission report, remains, in George Bush's words, "a man of peace". No one asks whether he can control his own army. Or whether he can control his own settlers. He wants to close down the colonies in Gaza - even though his spokesman has told us that this will put Palestinian statehood into "formaldehyde".

So let's just take a look back at those tragic years of the Oslo accord. In 1993, we are supposed to believe, the Palestinians were offered statehood and a capital in Jerusalem if they accepted the right of Israel to exist. Oslo said nothing of the kind. It did set down a complex system of Israeli withdrawals from occupied Palestinian land and a timetable that the Israelis were supposed to meet. We all knew that any failure to do so would humiliate Arafat - and make him less able to "control" his own people.

And what happened? It's important, at this supposedly "optimistic" moment, to reflect on the facts of the previous "peace process" in which Europe as well as the United States spent so much time, energy and - in the EU's case - money. Under the Oslo agreement, the occupied West Bank would be divided into three zones. Zone A would come under exclusive Palestinian control, Zone B under Israeli military occupation in participation with the Palestinian Authority, and Zone C under total Israeli occupation. In the West Bank, Zone A comprised only 1.1 per cent of the land whereas in Gaza - overpopulated, rebellious, insurrectionary - almost all the territory was to come under Arafat's control. He, after all, was to be the policeman of Gaza. Zone C in the West Bank comprised 60 per cent of the land, which allowed Israel to continue the rapid expansion of settlements on Arab land.

But a detailed investigation shows that not a single one of these withdrawal agreements was honored by the Israelis. And in the meantime, the number of settlers illegally living on Palestinians' land rose after Oslo from 80,000 to 150,000 - even though the Israelis, as well as the Palestinians, were forbidden from taking "unilateral steps" under the terms of the agreement. The Palestinians saw this, not without reason, as proof of bad faith.

Since facts are sometimes elusive in the Middle East, let's remind ourselves of what happened after Oslo. The Oslo II (Taba) agreement, concluded by Yitzhak Rabin in September 1995 - the month before he was assassinated - promised three Israeli withdrawals: from Zone A (under Palestinian control), Zone B (under Israeli military occupation in co-operation with the Palestinians) and Zone C (exclusive Israeli occupation). These were to be completed by October 1997. Final-status agreement covering Jerusalem, refugees, water and settlements were to have been completed by October 1999, by which time the occupation was supposed to have ended. In January 1997, however, a handful of Jewish settlers were granted 20 per cent of Hebron, despite Israel's obligation under Oslo to leave all West Bank towns. By October 1998, a year late, Israel had not carried out the Taba accords.

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, negotiated a new agreement at Wye River, dividing the second redeployment promised at Taba into two phases - but he only honored the first of them. Netanyahu had promised to reduce the percentage of West Bank land under exclusively Israeli occupation from 72 per cent to 59 per cent, transferring 41 per cent of the West Bank to Zones A and B. But at Sharm el-Sheikh in 1999, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, reneged on the agreement Netanyahu had made at Wye River, fragmenting the latter's two phases into three, the first of which would transfer 7 per cent from Zone C to Zone B. All implementation of the agreements stopped there.

When Arafat finally went to Camp David to meet Barak, he was allegedly offered 95 per cent of the West Bank and Gaza but turned it down and went to war with the second intifada. A study of the maps, however, shows that - with the exclusion of Jerusalem and its extended boundaries, with the exclusion of existing major Jewish colonies and with the inclusion of an Israeli cordon sanitaire, Arafat was offered nearer to 64 per cent of the 22 per cent of mandate Palestine that was left to him. Then a new explosion of Palestinian suicide bombings, usually aimed at Israeli civilians, destroyed Israel's patience with Arafat. Sharon, who had provoked the second intifada by strolling on to the Temple Mount with a thousand policeman, decided that Arafat was a Bin Laden-style "terrorist" and all further contact ended.

This is not to excuse the PLO or Arafat himself. His arrogance and corruption, and his little dictatorship - initially encouraged by the Israelis and Americans who lent Arafat their CIA boys to "train" the Palestinian security services - ensured that no democracy could thrive in "Palestine". And I suspect that while he personally disapproved of suicide bombings, Arafat cynically realized that they had their uses; they proved that Sharon could not provide Israel with the security he promised at his election, at least until he built the new wall - which is stealing further Palestinian land. But that was only one side of the story - and last week Bush and Blair went back to the old game of seeing only the other side. The Palestinians - the victims of 39 years of occupation - must prove themselves worthy of peace with their occupiers. The death of their leader is therefore billed as a glorious occasion that provides hope. All this is part of the self-delusion of Bush and Blair. The reality is that the outlook in the Middle East is bleaker than ever.

Oh yes, and - since we'd be asking this question today if Sharon had gone to meet his maker in an equally mysterious way - just what did Arafat die of?

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MORE on the ARAFAT Assassination and Cover Up

MER
18/11/2004

"It's too late for the French military, or the discredited 'wife', or
America's Palestinian Fix-It Man Nabil Sha'ath, to have any
credibility. They've all now had plenty of extra time to doctor
the reports and destroy the evidence. Only a totally independent
full-scale investigative Commission of Inquiry and complete autopsy
would have any chance of being credible at this point."

MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 17 November: With the 'Stealth Assassination' of Yasser Arafat, following a campaign to kill or imprison most of the popular Palestinian leaders that was greatly stepped up when Ariel Sharon became Israeli Prime Minister, the Arab-Israeli conflict does indeed enter a new phase. But the political cancer has already considerably metastacized region-wide and the 'two-state' cure is not really any longer possible.

The Americans and Europeans -- with a considerable group of supportive personalities, organizations, and media under their influence -- will keep attempting to claim a 'new opportunity for peace'. The Israelis will pretend to play along in one way or another while in reality further working to expand their control, build their major settlements, complete their Apartheid Wall, and imprison all Palestinians within individual towns and villages as nowhere else in the world.

What the Palestinians will now do, and whether the despised U.S. and Israeli approved 'new Palestinian leadership' -- Abu Mazen, Abu Ala, and Nabil Sha'ath -- will be able to keep the lid on and stay in power, remains to be seen. Tensions have never been greater as the attack against Abu Mazen last weekend makes very evident.

Immediately after the weekend gun attack on Abu Mazen and shouting attack on Nabil Sha'ath, Abu Ala, the 'Prime Minister', said he was now appealing to the French Military Hospital to reveal whatever it was that killed Yasser Arafat. But it's now too late for the French military, or the discredited 'wife', or America's Palestinian Fix It Man Nabil Sha'ath, to have any credibility. They've all now had plenty of extra time to doctor the reports and destroy the evidence. Only a totally independent full-scale investigative Commission of Inquiry and complete autopsy would have any chance of being credible at this point.

Even as Arafat's body was being flown to Cairo last Wednesday his personal physician of 22 years publicly cried foul and 'demanded' an 'official death inquiry' and 'autopsy'. He further revealed that before Arafat was taken to Paris those around him tried hard to prevent his condition from being known but that he had concluded the most likely diagnosis was a mysterious 'blood poisoning'. Furthermore it was not said in advance that Arafat was being taken to a 'military hospital' and once there the doctors made no contact with Arafat's long-time personal physician, refused to let him come to Paris, and did not even contact him to obtain Arafat's private medical records or previous test results.

The major corporate media worldwide has been quite mum and manipulated about all that has happened, including most of the PA and Israeli controlled Palestinian media. But as word of more of the details continues to leak out the Israelis have been active trying to further confuse and sully Arafat's reputation by circulating nasty rumors that Arafat really died of AIDS complications as a result of his homosexuality, and then in today's Jerusalem Post that he died of liver disease usually associated with alcohol drinkers.

MER was the first international news source to report not only that Arafat has been blood poisoned and 'Stealth Assassinated' but that just days after he arrived in Paris he was all but legally dead, even as his 'wife' was proclaiming he 'was well' and would return to lead his people, even as Nabil Sha'ath was going on television programs worldwide saying Arafat was not in a coma, not being kept artificially alive, and could yet recover. Then came 'wife' Suha's brief hysterical outburst about a 'great conspiracy' to kill her husband, followed quickly by a rushed visit to Paris of the Palestinian troika (Abu Mazen, Abu Ala, and Sha'ath) where she was threatened and silenced for a reported $22 million yearly sum. And then, just after the troika completed the cover up and funeral arrangements, Arafat's death was finally announced, his body rushed to Cairo for a quick military funeral -- no public and no eulogies -- and then rushed to Ramallah where he was quickly sealed in concrete, this time the Israelis going on a war footing and preventing Palestinians throughout the occupied territories from attending.

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Arafat and Vanunu: Two Prisoners of War
by Justin Raimondo
Monday 15th November 2004 :

Israel's move against Mordechai Vanunu, the man who exposed their nuclear secrets, couldn't have been timed better

The death of Yasser Arafat overshadows the re-arrest of Mordechai Vanunu, and it was, as they say, no accident: Arafat had barely breathed his last gasp when 20 to 30 heavily armed Israeli police commandos stormed the Anglican cathedral of St. George in Jerusalem, seized Vanunu, and confiscated his computer, while their superiors absurdly yelped that he had "leaked classified information."

Yes, the Israelis get really mad about the leaking of classified information - unless it's their own agents in the U.S. who are on the receiving end. But the funny part - if black humor suits your tastes - is that the "secrets" he is alleged to have "leaked" have been known for nearly 20 years. The thuggery of the Israeli "International Crimes Unit" that desecrated a Christian church will only serve to remind the world what Vanunu revealed all those years ago. This act underscores the brazen hypocrisy of Israeli whining about Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons - when everyone knows Israel has as many as 200 to 400 nuclear-armed missiles aimed at Arab capitals, and - who knows? - perhaps at a few European ones as well.

As a worker at Israel's Dimona nuclear weapons facility - supposedly devoted, like today's Iranian equivalents, to the pursuit of "peaceful" nuclear power - in the mid-1980s, Vanunu had first-hand knowledge of Israel's weapons of mass destruction - and his conscience would not permit silence. He gave an interview to British journalist Peter Hounam, and the story, complete with photos, was published in the Sunday Times of London: the truth about Israel's "nuclear ambiguity" was out.

In retaliation, the Mossad, with the aid of one of their "American" female assets, Cheryl Bentov, lured him to Rome, kidnapped him, and dragged him off to Israel, where he was tried, convicted, and served out his 18-year sentence, much of it in solitary confinement. Released with the proviso that, like the Soviet Jews once held captive by the Kremlin, Vanunu is not allowed to leave the country, and may not speak to the media, or publish his own thoughts and opinions.

So much for the myth of Israel's much-vaunted "freedoms," which are supposed to make it a part of the West. Like Iran, Israel is a religious theocracy dressed up in "democratic" trappings and afflicted with delusions of military grandeur.

The extremists who control the Israeli government live in mortal fear that Vanunu, having once exposed their limitless hypocrisy, will continue to do so at the most inopportune time imaginable - when Israel is kvetching about Iran's alleged pursuit of nukes, while Tel Aviv sits atop the sixth largest stockpile of nuclear weapons on earth.

America claims the right to launch a preemptive war against any Arab nation even suspected of trying to acquire nuclear arms, yet Israel is allowed weapons of mass destruction that would make the International Atomic Energy Agency's toes curl. So why not bring the inspectors into Israel? Why are they exempt from the "rules" that others must obey?

These are questions the Israelis would much prefer nobody asked, and they are less likely to be raised if Vanunu is silenced or gotten out of the way, one way or another. Because the truth is that Israel, and not Iran, is far more likely to use nukes - in "self-defense," of course - and turn much of the Middle East into a radioactive wasteland. Contemplate the words of the influential Israeli Rabbi Zelman Melamed, who wrote:

"It is not impossible that the Jewish people will have the ability to threaten and put pressure on the entire world to accept our way. But even if we acquire the power to seize control of the world, that is not the way to realize the vision of complete redemption."

Yeah, but it'll do until the Messiah arrives. The rise of religious fanaticism in Israel parallels the development of the same phenomenon in the Arab world. While the Committee of Rabbis in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza protests the dismantling of any settlements, and declares that "Everyone who has faith in his heart ... will not countenance betrayal of the divine promise of the Jewish people," Professor Hillel Weiss, writing in Ma'ariv, interprets this fatwa as follows:

"The purpose of the armed struggle is to establish a Jewish state in all the territory that will be captured, from the River Euphrates [in Iraq] to the Egyptian River [Nile]."

The Committee of Rabbis, armed with nuclear weapons - is this really a good thing?

With the Israeli ultra-nationalist right on the march, and threatening civil war, a nuclear-armed Israel is far more dangerous than nuclearized Pakistan, where fundamentalists of a different sort are held in check by Pervez Musharraf with U.S. assistance. But what sort of leverage does the international community, including the U.S., have over the Israelis? We don't even know what they have - because they won't sign on to the IAEA or submit to inspections. Yet Iran must submit - or face sanctions and a possible U.S. (or Israeli) military strike.

The Israelis are in a position to blackmail both the Iranians and the Americans. They can threaten Tehran with nuclear annihilation - or threaten the U.S. with unilaterally taking out Iran's reactors and plunging the entire region into war. With U.S. troops, as it were, in the midst of it.

If anything, the Iranian acquisition of a similar arsenal will deter their opposite numbers in Tel Aviv from ever using the nukes we know they have. Because, right now, there is nothing to stop Ariel Sharon - or some other even more extreme and excitable Israeli politician - from launching a nuclear attack on Tehran. The close proximity of some 150,000 American troops in Iraq may give them pause for a few seconds. However, when it comes to ensuring their own survival, in the end they won't fail to put Israel first.

That's all too understandable: what country doesn't put its own interests first? Answer: the United States of America, whose lopsided Middle Eastern policy is unfailingly Israeli-centric.

The huge propaganda campaign launched by Israel even before Arafat stopped breathing is designed to demonize the Palestinians, and anyone who treats them as anything other than Israel's helots. The disgusting orgy of death-worship that has greeted his demise - from bloodcurdling weirdness over at a site deemed by Yahoo to be racist, to Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe dancing on the man's grave, to this circle jerk over at "Reason" magazine - is yet more provocation, much like the work of Theo van Gogh, the David Duke of Dutch film. Israel's amen corner wants Muslims worldwide to read and hear about this sort of nonsense: anything to stoke the fires of hate and create the enemy that extremists on both sides require.

Central to the hateful festivities surrounding Arafat's death is the myth of the missed opportunity, the completely false conception that Arafat was offered a good deal by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Bill Clinton, and, because of a psychological inability to make the transition from revolutionary leader to "statesman," failed to take it while the taking was good. This is utter balderdash, as a simple glance at a map of what the Palestinians were offered - here and here - graphically reveals. Alexander Cockburn put it well:

"Bill Clinton has always been one for the phony reconciliation, the win-win solution, the photo-op deal. The defining moment of his diplomacy was the 'handshake' between Rabin and Arafat, offered to the world as the insignia of a decent settlement brokered by America."

But it was nothing of the sort, as Cockburn notes. The Palestinian "nation" was to be a series of disconnected bantustans, surrounded entirely by Israeli military posts and "settlements" populated by ultra-Zionist fanatics. All water, roads, communications, and other vital command posts of this "independent" entity would be controlled by the Israelis. Some independence!

As Michael C. Desch wrote in The American Conservative:

"In the Palestinians' view, they had surrendered 78 percent of historic Palestine to Israel when they recognized Israel as a sovereign state at Oslo in 1993; in return, they expected that they would get the remaining 22 percent (the West Bank and Gaza) as part of the final agreement. Yet the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands continued to deepen and expand after Oslo and the Israeli government began to interfere ever more intrusively in the lives of ordinary Palestinians."

If Palestinians were black, instead of a rich nut-brown, the UN would have imposed strict sanctions long ago, and in the U.S. the Israeli government would be as reviled as the white South African or Rhodesian regimes that lorded it over their native African majorities. As it is, Israeli propaganda seeks to depict any and all Arabs, and practically all Muslims, as terrorists, a definition that suits Osama bin Laden just fine. The Israelis have been particularly eager to smash all manifestations of secular Arab militance, in a perfect complement to bin Laden working the other side of the street.

Arafat was no saint, but then the only saints in that part of the world are already buried in their graves. It's a rough neighborhood, and by local standards the PLO leader was no better or worse than most of his Israeli counterparts, whose crimes fall in the category of state terrorism as opposed to the more freelance variety practiced by the other side. After all, the Israeli state was founded by groups that employed terrorism as a tactic, who bombed hotels full of innocent civilians, massacred Arab villagers, and drove the remaining Palestinians off the land. These are the very same people, by the way, who claim that they are a bulwark against terrorism - even as they carry out a brutal policy of state terrorism in the sight of the whole world.

This goes beyond mere arrogance, or ordinary hubris - there is a leering, jeering, positively sinister quality to this style of argument, and in the sneering tone affected by Israel's amen corner as they claim moral superiority over their Arab and Muslim enemies. We're a democracy!, they bray, as they step on the necks of their Palestinian prisoners, spit at Christians in the streets of Jerusalem, and threaten their neighbors on every side. All must disarm in the face of their nuclearized belligerence, and submit to Israeli expansionism - or face the wrath of the United States. Their terrorism is "self-defense," or, in the case of the U.S. in Iraq, "liberation" - while Arafat's, or Islamic Jihad's, or the Mahdi Army's is barbarism pure and simple.

The Israelis should shut up about terrorism, look at their own bloody history, and change the name of their country to "Blowback." The worst error the Western powers ever made, even more than the colonization and conquest of the Middle East, was the Balfour Declaration. Since that time we have had nothing but trouble, and the conflict it created has increased exponentially with the passage of time until it threatens to engulf the whole world in a maelstrom of hate and retribution. When oh when will it ever end - and why must we in the United States be a part of it?

It is time, high time, that we got out of it, because our alliance with Israel certainly does not serve our national interests. Israel is a tyranny, not the Athens but the Sparta of the Middle East: a militarist, socialist, ethno-nationalist monstrosity that represents the single greatest danger to the peace of the region. The Balfour Declaration has functioned as a kind of curse, an incantation that has cast a dark shadow over the Holy Land - and the world. Anyone who points this out - Arafat, Vanunu, whomever - is subjected to a merciless campaign of demonization, such as we now see unfolding over the corpse of the fallen Palestinian leader. No doubt Arafat would consider it a badge of honor.

In any case, there is not much honor to be found in that part of the world, and no amount of American intervention is going to change that. As American politicians buy into the Israeli narrative of Arafat the Monster, the American people ought to realize that there are even worse monsters out there - and some of them are our allies.

Both Arafat and Vanunu were prisoners of Israel's war on the Middle East, and much of the world: one is now dead, and the other is a target. The campaign to demonize them, no matter how well-financed (with American tax dollars) and ubiquitous, is too crude to succeed. Whatever else might be said about this unlikely pair, they certainly made all the right enemies.

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Should Canada indict Bush?
Nov. 16, 2004. 01:00 AM
THOMAS WALKOM

When U.S. President George W. Bush arrives in Ottawa — probably later this year — should he be welcomed? Or should he be charged with war crimes?

It's an interesting question. On the face of it, Bush seems a perfect candidate for prosecution under Canada's Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

This act was passed in 2000 to bring Canada's ineffectual laws in line with the rules of the new International Criminal Court. While never tested, it lays out sweeping categories under which a foreign leader like Bush could face arrest.

In particular, it holds that anyone who commits a war crime, even outside Canada, may be prosecuted by our courts. What is a war crime? According to the statute, it is any conduct defined as such by "customary international law" or by conventions that Canada has adopted.

War crimes also specifically include any breach of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, such as torture, degradation, wilfully depriving prisoners of war of their rights "to a fair and regular trial," launching attacks "in the knowledge that such attacks will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians" and deportation of persons from an area under occupation.

Outside of one well-publicized (and quickly squelched) attempt in Belgium, no one has tried to formally indict Bush. But both Oxfam International and the U.S. group Human Rights Watch have warned that some of the actions undertaken by the U.S. and its allies, particularly in Iraq, may fall under the war crime rubric.

The case for the prosecution looks quite promising. First, there is the fact of the Iraq war itself. After 1945, Allied tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo — in an astonishing precedent — ruled that states no longer had the unfettered right to invade other countries and that leaders who started such conflicts could be tried for waging illegal war.

Concurrently, the new United Nations outlawed all aggressive wars except those authorized by its Security Council.

Today, a strong case could be made that Bush violated the Nuremberg principles by invading Iraq. Indeed, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has already labelled that war illegal in terms of the U.N. Charter.

Second, there is the manner in which the U.S. conducted this war.

The mistreatment of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison is a clear contravention of the Geneva Accord. The U.S. is also deporting selected prisoners to camps outside of Iraq (another contravention). U.S. press reports also talk of shadowy prisons in Jordan run by the CIA, where suspects are routinely tortured. And the estimated civilian death toll of 100,000 may well contravene the Geneva Accords prohibition against the use of excessive force.

Canada's war crimes law specifically permits prosecution not only of those who carry out such crimes but of the military and political superiors who allow them to happen.

What has emerged since Abu Ghraib shows that officials at the highest levels of the Bush administration permitted and even encouraged the use of torture.

Given that Bush, as he likes to remind everyone, is the U.S. military's commander-in-chief, it is hard to argue he bears no responsibility.

Then there is Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. says detainees there do not fall under the Geneva accords. That's an old argument.

In 1946, Japanese defendants explained their mistreatment of prisoners of war by noting that their country had never signed any of the Geneva Conventions. The Japanese were convicted anyway.

Oddly enough, Canada may be one of the few places where someone like Bush could be brought to justice. Impeachment in the U.S. is most unlikely. And, at Bush's insistence, the new international criminal court has no jurisdiction over any American. [...]

Comment: Although it would be fitting to see the entire Bush cabal indicted for their inhuman crimes, we won't hold our breath waiting for Canada or any other country to stand up to the American war machine.

A in-depth study of history seems to indicate that governments of all major countries are connected to and influenced by an unseen power that controls world events from the shadows. So, in these perilous times, it appears that most State leaders unconsciously, or at least indirectly serve the same master. It is unlikely that they would move to indict one of their own, especially when he is doing such a good job of implementing their "end-times" plan for world domination.

In our global culture of ruthless and cut-throat politics, an individual rarely gets to rise up the ranks of power if they aren't aligned with the elite's agenda, or way of being. People who posses a sense of compassion, honesty, integrity and fairness, by nature probably wouldn't be attracted to these positions of power. Either that or they would be unable to climb very high up the pyramid before being co-opted or eventually "taken out".

Just ask Gandhi, JFK, Arafat or Yitzhak Rabin.

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Bush's Mid East War is Out of Control 
Ted Lang 
11/17/04 "ICH"

The first indication of American government's penchant for savagery against civilians was demonstrated at Waco. The precedent of the efficient, methodical slaughter and execution of innocent civilians, outgunned by the unlawful partnership of American federal police and the military used to kill the defenseless at Waco was thus unleashed. The destruction of key elements of the Iraqi infrastructure that had provided the population with the basics of water, food, medicine and clothing would be the second. 

Those insisting that the right course of action was taken by America in having come to the aid of Kuwait in the first Gulf War, are either ignorant of the fact that Saddam had been given the green light to go ahead with the invasion of their former province by April Glaspie of our State Department during the first Bush administration or they simply don't care. The subsequent embargo and sanctions launched by the first Bush administration and expanded during the Clinton administration, resulted in 500,000 to  1,000,000 civilian deaths, mostly children. Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, reasoned that these losses were just "collateral damage."

Genocide perpetrated against a nation's civilian population is neither a recent phenomenon, nor is it an occurrence unique to American military force. Stalin and Chairman Mao killed millions of their own people to create the omelet of a perfect communist society. Hitler overran the nations of Europe via genocidal terror. American armed forces retaliated against civilian populations at Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

It is this reckless abandon and bloodthirsty proclivity that progresses to a Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. It is the war crime modus operandi of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. It is the mindset of the exiting Attorney General as well as the incoming head of the Department of Justice. Considering this genocidal mania, what sort of a mental stretch is required to presume their collective guilt in allowing 9-11 to happen? What accountability exists to preclude such continuing war crimes against humanity? As John Pilger has offered, the unthinkable becomes normal. 

Several Internet websites have continuously provided photographic evidence of the war crimes and atrocities perpetrated by the criminal Bush regime against a defenseless civilian population. Arguing that the "insurgents" are mingling with the civilian population is the height of fabrication and propaganda, and telling in terms of the risks to our own individual freedoms irreversibly compromised by a despicable government-dominated American "press." There are no "insurgents" as The New York Times and FOXNews would have you believe. They are Iraqi patriots and freedom fighters, conducting guerilla warfare and counterattacks, just as the French Resistance did against the Nazis, and the Jews did in the Warsaw Ghetto, the efforts of the Hungarian Freedom Fighters in 1956, and the Palestinians on the West Bank. 

There is no organized military resistance in Iraq, only ragtag civilian fighters organized by common tribal or religious bonds. And their ranks are growing by the day! If the Bush regime had a beef with Saddam, why is our military killing the same citizens previously subjugated by him? Why are we still there? Why have we shut down their water supplies? 

Our burning need to justify our reason for killing innocent civilians requires that we dehumanize the "enemy," excusing our own horrific brutality and inhumanity. It is just as Pilger suggests: Iraqis, Arabs and Muslims are all viewed by us as Hitler's "Untermenschen;" people who are less than human and therefore "killable." And if this demonic license to kill trickles down from our controlling politicians in Washington, the Pentagon and our military commanders in the field, then is it any wonder that members of our military commit brutal acts against the wounded and captured? 

What has become of our once great moral and Christian nation? What has become of our once great military of freemen, dedicated to protecting the innocent and the defenseless masses from the horrors of reckless military abandon scorched in history such as in the "Rape of Nanking" and the Bataan Death March? Just as our military and FBI drove their American victims back into the inferno of the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco in 1993, so have American forces murdered fleeing families who tried to get out of Fallujah. 

The Japanese military of Nanking and Bataan is no more. The Nazis of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Dachau and Auschwitz are no more. And the Communist threat has subsided. Welcome to the Evil Empire of the New World Order: the US of A [the Uncontrolled Society of Atheists]. 

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US not worried about Russia's nuclear activities: State Department
AFP
Nov 17, 2004

WASHINGTON - Washington was not threatened by President Vladimir Putin's announcement Wednesday that Russia intended to remain a major nuclear power by deploying a new weapon in the coming years that other states lack, a State Department spokesman said Wednesday.

"We do not perceive Russia's nuclear sustainment and modernization activities as threatening, and what they are doing is fully consistent with our mutual obligations under the Moscow Treaty," deputy spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters.

"Our mutual obligations in this area are covered under the Moscow Treaty. Pursuant to that treaty, we have regular consultations" with Moscow, Ereli said.

"And based on those regular consultations, we are confident that Russia's plans are not threatening and are consistent with its obligations, and I think are indicative of a new strategic relationship between the United States and Russia that is focused on reducing threats and increasing confidence," he added.

Putin announced in Moscow on Wednesday that Russia would soon be armed with nuclear weapons systems "which do not exist and are unlikely to exist in other nuclear powers."

"We have not only conducted tests of the latest nuclear rocket systems," Putin told a meeting of the armed forces' leadership. "I am sure that, in the coming years, we will deploy them."

The ITAR-TASS news agency speculated that Putin was referring to the mobile Topol-M missile, which is analogous to the US Minuteman-3 missile and is meant to form the backbone of Russia's future strategic nuclear arsenal.

Russia this year also successfully test-fired a different new missile that its developers claim can penetrate any shield, since it flies in space on a ballistic trajectory and in the atmosphere as a cruise missile -- swerving away from interceptor rockets.

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Senate OKs $800B Debt Limit Hike
By ALAN FRAM
Nov 17, 8:21 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - A divided Senate approved an $800 billion increase in the federal debt limit Wednesday, a major boost in borrowing that Sen. John Kerry and other Democrats blamed on the fiscal policies of President Bush.

The mostly party line, 52-44 vote was expected to be followed by House passage Thursday. Enactment would raise the government's borrowing limit to $8.18 trillion - $2.23 trillion higher than when Bush became president in 2001, and more than eight times the debt President Reagan faced when he took office in 1981.

In his first remarks on the Senate floor since his presidential bid ended in defeat two weeks ago, Kerry, D-Mass., said his former opponent had presided over "the worst fiscal turnaround in our nation's entire history."

He was referring to the change from the $5.6 trillion in surpluses that were projected for the next 10 years when Bush took office in 2001, to the $2.3 trillion in deficits now estimated for the coming decade. Kerry and other Democrats complained that those bills will have to be paid by future generations.

"This can be called a birth tax, a birth tax that is dumped on the back of every American child unwillingly," said Kerry, who voted against the borrowing increase.

Republican senators did not join in the debate, underscoring how politically uncomfortable the measure is for them. That discomfort was highlighted when they refused to bring the bill to a vote before the elections.

Administration officials urged lawmakers to act quickly. The government reached its $7.38 trillion borrowing cap last month, and since then the Treasury Department has paid federal bills by taking cash from a civil service retirement account, which it plans to repay.

"We are nearing the end of our rope, and it is critical that Congress act," said Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols.

Failure to raise the debt ceiling could force a federal default and leave the government unable to pay Social Security recipients, federal workers and other obligations. [...]

Comment: So, the US government is going deeper and deeper into debt as the dollar weakens. At some point in the not-to-distant future, the dam is going to break...

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Pope Condemns Use of Religion for Violence

Thursday November 18, 2004 2:16 PM

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope John Paul II received Muslim, Orthodox Christian and Jewish religious leaders from Azerbaijan, calling their visit Thursday a symbol of tolerance and declaring that religion must never be used for violent aims.

"No one has the right to present or use religion as an instrument of intolerance, as a means of aggression, of violence, of death,'' the pope told the group.

Christians, Muslims and Jews must appeal together for an end to violence in the world "with justice for all,'' he said.

"This is the way of religions,'' he said.

Comment: "Talk is cheap", yet sadly it is something in which many people put much faith. If the Pope really wanted to help solve the current global crisis and avert further death and destruction, he might consider coming clean about the origins of Christianity and thereby help to remove the veil of lies and illusion from the eyes of the world, a veil which, over the centuries, has contributed and continues to contribute much to human suffering.

We do not however place much faith in the Pope's clearly distorted sense of duty, so we suggest you do the work for yourselves and read Laura's article "who write the bible?"

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The Secrets Of The Bible - What Your Church Doesn't Want You To Know

Irregular Times.com

Christians like to tell the rest of us that their religion teaches peace, love and understanding. They also are fond of saying that the Bible is the greatest book ever written. Well, folks, they can't have it both ways. The fact is that the Bible promotes genocide, the systematic destruction of entire populations of human beings. If that's Christian compassion, then I'm the Pope.

Don't believe that the Bible teaches genocide? Check out the following verses, just two of the many from the Bible that suggest that God himself thinks that genocide is a wonderful idea:

Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.)

Exodus, Chapter 34, verses 11-14

You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you. You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new.

Leviticus, Chapter 26, verses 7-9

So this is God's love: if he looks favorably upon you, he'll help you go out and slaughter ten thousand people just because they belong to another ethic group and are already living on the land you want for yourself. Furthermore, the Bible says that he wants you to go out and commit cultural genocide, destroying the religious buildings and holy objects of rival religions. So come on, Christians! Hop to it! Surely you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, don't you? I'll bet you can find some non-Christian temple and start your pillage today!

If you think I'm being sarcastic, or am just making an academic point about a couple of long-forgotten verses that have no connection to the way that Christianity is practiced today, you're wrong. These biblical verses, and others like them, have been used by Christians for thousands of years to justify hundreds, if not thousands, of horrific acts of genocide. Just in the last couple of years, the Christian Yugoslav government led by the popular leader Slobodan Milosevic slaughtered huge numbers of ethnic Albanian Muslims, citing the Bible's genocidal language as justification.

Now, some peaceable apologetic Christians will argue that Christians like Milosevic have merely misunderstood the teachings of the Bible. They'll claim that God required his followers to commit genocidal atrocities during the time of the Old Testament but that Jesus brought a New Testament which instead instructs people to turn the other cheek.

First of all, Christian history does not bear this New Testament idea out. Christian armies never turned the other cheek when they slaughtered their enemies in the name of God. Church leaders supported these acts and often led the clamor for holy wars.

Secondly, the New Testament argument destroys the very foundation that Christianity is built upon. If God is really all-powerful and all-knowing and all-loving, then he can't possibly have meant to tell his followers to go out and engage in acts of ethnic cleansing and then have changed his mind a thousand years or so later. If God really knows all and can do whatever he wants, why couldn't he have brought Jesus and the New Testament down earlier and saved the Earth a whole lot of bloodshed? Waiting around to teach forgiveness after you've been teaching human slaughter doesn't sound very all-loving to me. Whichever tack you take, the argument that a New Testament separates modern Christianity from the atrocities of the Old Testament is a theologically unsound excuse.

That also goes for the whole rigamarole that Christians go through to give themselves the title of God's new Chosen People. This old Christian canard argues that God used to call the Jews his Chosen People, but the Jews weren't worthy, so since the arrival of Jesus, the Chosen People are the Christians. Honestly, I don't see what difference it makes who the Chosen People are -- I don't think that they ought to have the right to go around and kill people just because they aren't Chosen. It doesn't matter whether genocide takes place on the basis of ethnicity or religion. It's still genocide.

Besides, all the Christian protestations about being followers of the New Testaments and not the Old Testament are shown to be the hollow excuses they are by the continued use of the Old Testament by practically every Christian church on the face of the Earth. If Christianity really repudiates the Old Testament, then why is the Old Testament still included in the Christian Holy Bible? Why do Christian priests and preachers still base entire doctrines on Old Testament Verses? Why do Christian politicians try to get the Ten Commandments posted in public places? Why do most Christians still circumcize their little boys if they don't believe in keeping the old covenant with God?

return to irregulartimes.comChristians accuse New Age practitioners of taking a buffet approach to religion: just taking whatever teachings from whatever traditions they like and then ignoring the ones they don't like. Pardon me, but I don't see how the Christians are any different. If you're a real, consistent Christian, you ought to join with other Christians to form a holy army to massacre as many non-Christians as you can, starting today.

On the other hand, if you really believe in compassion, mercy and forgiveness, it might be time for you to stop looking to Christianity for answers. Of all the sources for you to search in your quest for peace, love and understanding, Christianity and the Bible upon which it is based are among the least likely for you to find it.

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Ohio Finds Possible Double Votes, Counts

By JAY COHEN
Associated Press Writer
Thursday November 18, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Election officials in one Ohio county found that about 2,600 ballots were double-counted, and two other counties have discovered possible cases of people voting twice in the presidential election.

Prosecutors were trying to determine Wednesday whether charges should be filed against a couple in Madison County accused of voting twice. In addition, Summit County election workers investigated possible double votes found under 18 names.

In the other case, Sandusky County election officials discovered that about 2,600 ballots from nine precincts were counted twice, likely because of worker error, elections director Barb Tuckerman said.

Tuckerman believes the votes were counted twice when they were mistakenly placed alongside a pile of uncounted ballots. The room where the ballots were being fed into optical-scan machines on election night was so crowded that ballots had to be placed on the floor, Tuckerman said.

"It was totally hectic,'' she said.

The problem was discovered when Tuckerman found that one precinct showed 131 percent of registered voters had cast ballots.

President Bush won the election by taking Ohio with 136,000 votes more than Democrat John Kerry, according to the unofficial tally.

The couple who voted twice in Madison County cast absentee ballots in October, then voted in person on Election Day, county elections director Gloria Herrel said. The couple said election workers told them their absentee votes were lost, prosecutor Steve Pronai said.

In Summit county, typically the votes were made by absentee ballot or in person, and then a second vote was cast with a provisional ballot in another precinct, elections director Bryan Williams said.

Under Ohio law, people who vote twice could be charged with election fraud, falsification or illegal voting, according the Secretary of State's Office. The maximum penalty for the most severe charge is 18 months in prison.

Double votes could have affected the result of a local schools income tax request that failed by one vote in Madison County.

In Illinois, thousands of provisional ballots cast on Election Day did not count, in most cases for lack of evidence the voters were actually registered. The Associated Press count was based on checks of several election jurisdictions. State officials were still gathering information Wednesday on provisional ballots cast statewide, a day after the deadline to count them.

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US accused of 'torture flights'
Stephen Grey
November 14, 2004

AN executive jet is being used by the American intelligence agencies to fly terrorist suspects to countries that routinely use torture in their prisons.

The movements of the Gulfstream 5 leased by agents from the United States defence department and the CIA are detailed in confidential logs obtained by The Sunday Times which cover more than 300 flights.

Countries with poor human rights records to which the Americans have delivered prisoners include Egypt, Syria and Uzbekistan, according to the files. The logs have prompted allegations from critics that the agency is using such regimes to carry out "torture by proxy" — a charge denied by the American government.

Some of the information from the suspects is said to have been used by MI5 and MI6, the British intelligence services. The admissibility in court of evidence gained under torture is being considered in the House of Lords in an appeal by foreign-born prisoners at Belmarsh jail, south London, against their detention without trial on suspicion of terrorism.

Over the past two years the unmarked Gulfstream has visited British airports on many occasions, although it is not believed to have been carrying suspects at the time.

The Gulfstream and a similarly anonymous-looking Boeing 737 are hired by American agents from Premier Executive Transport Services, a private company in Massachusetts.

The white 737, registration number N313P, has 32 seats.

It is a frequent visitor to American military bases, although its exact role has not been revealed.

More is known about the Gulfstream, which has the registration number N379P and can carry 14 passengers. Movements detailed in the logs can be matched with several sightings of the Gulfstream at airports when terrorist suspects have been bundled away by US counterterrorist agents.

Analysis of the plane's flight plans, covering more than two years, shows that it always departs from Washington DC. It has flown to 49 destinations outside America, including the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba and other US military bases, as well as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, Libya and Uzbekistan.

Witnesses have claimed that the suspects are frequently bound, gagged and sedated before being put on board the planes, which do not have special facilities for prisoners but are kitted out with tables for meetings and screens for presentations and in-flight films.
The US plane is not used just for carrying prisoners but also appears to be at the disposal of defence and intelligence officials on assignments from Washington.

Its prisoner transfer missions were first reported in May by the Swedish television programme Cold Facts. It described how American agents had arrived in Stockholm in the Gulfstream in December 2001 to take two suspected terrorists from Sweden to Egypt.

At the time of what was presented as an "extradition" to Egypt, Swedish ministers made no public mention of American involvement in the detention of Ahmed Agiza, 42, and Muhammed Zery, 35, who was later cleared.

Witnesses described seeing the prisoners handed to US agents whose faces were masked by hoods. The clothes of the handcuffed prisoners were cut off and they were dressed in nappies covered by orange overalls before being forcibly given sedatives by suppository.

The Gulfstream flew them to Egypt, where both prisoners claimed they were beaten and tortured with electric shocks to their genitals. Despite liberal Swedish laws on freedom of information, diplomatic telegrams on the case released to the media were edited to conceal the complaints of torture.

Hamida Shalaby, Agiza's mother, said: "The mattress had electricity . . . When they connected to the electricity, his body would rise up and then fall down and this up and down would go on until they unplugged electricity."

A month before the Swedish extradition, the same Gulfstream was identified by Masood Anwar, a Pakistani newspaper reporter in Karachi. Airport staff told Anwar they had seen Jamil Gasim, a Yemeni student who was suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, being bundled aboard the jet by a group of white men wearing masks. The jet took Gasim to Jordan, since when he has disappeared.

"The entire operation was so mysterious that all persons involved in the operation, including US troops, were wearing masks," a source at the airport told Anwar.

On another mission, in January 2002, a Gulfstream was seen at Jakarta airport to deport Muhammad Saad Iqbal, 24, an Al-Qaeda suspect who was said by US officials to be an acquaintance of Richard Reid, the British "shoe-bomber" jailed in America for trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami.

An Indonesian official told an American newspaper that Iqbal was "hustled aboard an unmarked, US-registered Gulfstream . . . and flown to Egypt", where almost nothing has been heard of him since.

The CIA Gulfstream's flight logs show it flew from Washington to Cairo, where it picked up Egyptian security agents, before apparently going on to Jakarta to take Iqbal to Egypt.

Another transfer involved a British citizen. On November 8, 2002, the Gulfstream took off for Banjul in Gambia. On the same day Wahab Al-Rawi, a 38-year-old Briton, was among four people arrested at the airport by local secret police and handed over to interrogators who said they were "from the US embassy".

Wahab said he had previously been questioned by MI5 because his brother Basher, an Iraqi national, was an acquaintance of Abu Qatada, the radical London-based cleric.

When Wahab asked the CIA agents for access to the British consul, as required under the Vienna convention signed by America, the agents are said to have laughed. "Why do you think you're here?" one agent said to Wahab. "It's your government that tipped us off in the first place." Wahab was later released but Basher was sent to Guantanamo and remains there and has yet to be accused of any specific crime.

Some former CIA operatives and human rights campaigners claim the agency and the Pentagon use a process called "rendition" to send suspects to countries such as Egypt and Jordan. They are then tortured largely to gain information for the Americans who, it is alleged, encourage these countries to use aggressive interrogation methods banned under US law.

Bob Baer, a former CIA operative in the Middle East, said: "If you want a serious interrogation you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear . . . you send them to Egypt."

Among the countries where prisoners have been sent by America is Uzbekistan, a close ally and a dictatorship whose secret police are notorious for their interrogation methods, including the alleged boiling of prisoners. The Gulfstream made at least seven trips to the Uzbek capital.

The details bolster claims by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador, that America has sent terrorist suspects from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan to be interrogated by torture.

In a memo, whose disclosure last month contributed to Murray's removal, he told Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, that the CIA station chief in Tashkent had "readily acknowledged torture was deployed in obtaining intelligence".

The CIA and Premier declined to discuss the allegations over the planes. The American government, however, denies it is in any way complicit in torture and says it is actively working to stamp out the practice.

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Indonesian police head to Netherlands to probe activist's death
17 November 2004 1348 hrs
JAKARTA : An Indonesian police team was due to leave for the Netherlands as part of a probe into how a prominent rights campaigner died from arsenic poisoning on a jet from Jakarta to Amsterdam.

The team investigating the death of Munir, 38, will be joined by Usan Hamid, a coordinator for Kontras, a rights group founded by the dead man, said fellow Kontras member Gian Moko. Police could not be reached for confirmation.

Moko said the team would pick up an original autopsy report completed by Dutch forensic experts on the body of Munir, who was declared dead on arrival at Amsterdam's Schipol airport on September 7.

The rights campaigner, who claimed to have received numerous death threats in his work to expose military-perpetrated atrocities, had complained of severe stomach pains on the flight before he passed out and died.

His body was found to contain excessive levels of arsenic.

Moko said the team would also examine documents and records compiled by Dutch investigators.

These include the identities of all those who flew on board the same plane, the results of witness questioning, and steps taken to help Munir while he was still on the plane, he said.

On Thursday the Dutch public prosecutor's office confirmed the autopsy report concluded Munir died from arsenic poisoning but added it would not investigate the death because it had no authority to do so. [...]

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Judge Questions Long Sentence in Drug Case

November 17, 2004
By NICK MADIGAN

SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 16 - In a case that has spurred intense soul-searching in legal circles, a 25-year-old convicted drug dealer, who was arrested two years ago for selling small bags of marijuana to a police informant, was sentenced on Tuesday to 55 years in prison.

The judge who sentenced him, Paul G. Cassell of the United States District Court here, said that he pronounced the sentence "reluctantly" but that his hands were tied by a mandatory-minimum law that required the imposition of 55 years on Weldon H. Angelos because he had a gun during at least two of the drug transactions.

"I have no choice," Judge Cassell said to Mr. Angelos, who seemed frozen in place as the extent of the sentence became apparent.

The judge then urged Mr. Angelos's lawyer, Jerome H. Mooney, not only to appeal his decision but to ask President Bush for clemency once all appeals were exhausted. He also urged Congress to set aside the law that made the sentence mandatory.

Judge Cassell said that sentencing Mr. Angelos to prison until he is 70 years old was "unjust, cruel and even irrational," but that the law that forced him to do so had not proved to be unconstitutional and thus had to stand. The sentence was all the more ironic, he said, because only two hours earlier he had been legally able to impose a sentence of 22 years on a man convicted of aggravated second-degree murder for beating an elderly woman to death with a log. That crime, he argued, was far more serious. [...]

The question of Mr. Angelos's sentence was at the center of a debate as to whether it was fair to send a minor drug dealer to prison for 55 years when a murderer, rapist or terrorist, according to the same sentencing directives, would ordinarily receive no more than about 25 years.

During a court hearing in September, Judge Cassell posed a question to the opposing legal teams in the case: "Is there a rational basis," he asked, "for giving Mr. Angelos more time than the hijacker, the murderer, the rapist?"

The sentence against Mr. Angelos, the founder of the rap music label Extravagant Records, stemmed from his conviction on three counts of possession of a firearm while engaged in drug trafficking. The first count carried a mandatory five-year sentence, with each subsequent count calling for 25 years.

According to trial testimony, Mr. Angelos was carrying a pistol in an ankle holster while selling marijuana. He was not accused of brandishing the weapon or threatening anyone with it.

But in court on Tuesday, Robert Lund, an assistant United States attorney who prosecuted the case, called Mr. Angelos a "purveyor of poison," and said he had been dealing drugs for more than four years before his arrest. Carrying a gun in the commission of such crimes, he said, meant that Mr. Angelos was prepared "to kill other human beings."

Comment: This event alone makes a mockery of the idea of the great American constitution. When a young person can be legally sent to rot in a prison for the rest of their lives for minor offence, the average American should in fact be gravely concerned about their constitution rather than lauding it as an example to the world. Note the suggestion by the judge that the defendant should "ask President Bush for clemency". Remember back to Governor Bush mocking the pleas for clemency of a woman he had handed out the death sentence to and you get a good idea of the chance of any appeal to the psychopath Bush.

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Welcome to the new cold war

By Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
Nov. 15, 2004

It's Chirac vs. Cheney, SUVs vs. minicars, and pommes frites vs. freedom fries in the new transatlantic culture war. But here's what you don't know: In the global conflict for moral and economic supremacy, Europe is winning.

A specter is haunting America, and it ain't the specter of communism (however much George W. Bush and company might like to describe it that way). Barely a decade after the definitive collapse of the Soviet bloc, the United States finds itself in a new cold war, one being fought simultaneously on economic, political and cultural fronts, and one it is by no means certain to win. The unipolar world of uncontested American hegemony that we were told to expect into the indefinite future has come to an end; it lasted just about long enough for us to scratch our heads and wonder what was happening next.

Yes, "Old Europe," to borrow Donald Rumsfeld's famous quip, is back, and it's looking pretty spry for its age. As Americans are finally beginning to notice, Europeans (or most of them, anyway) have reconstituted themselves into an enormous transnational superstate of 25 nations, 455 million people and an $11 trillion economy. This is, of course, the European Union, and its aims have become much broader and deeper than the stuff you've probably heard about, like allowing citizens to drive from Seville to Sicily without a passport, or to use the same anonymous-looking currency to buy a pint of Guinness in Cork and a glass of ouzo in Crete.

Much of American "productivity," Rifkin suggests, is accounted for by economic activity that might be better described as wasteful: military spending; the endlessly expanding police and prison bureaucracies; the spiraling cost of healthcare; suburban sprawl; the fast-food industry and its inevitable corollary, the weight-loss craze. Meaningful comparisons of living standards, he says, consistently favor the Europeans. In France, for instance, the work week is 35 hours and most employees take 10 to 12 weeks off every year, factors that clearly depress GDP. Yet it takes a John Locke heart of stone to say that France is worse off as a nation for all that time people spend in the countryside downing du vin rouge et du Camembert with friends and family [...]

European children are consistently better educated; the United States would rank ninth in the EU in reading, ninth in scientific literacy, and 13th in math. Twenty-two percent of American children grow up in poverty, which means that our country ranks 22nd out of the 23 industrialized nations, ahead of only Mexico and behind all 15 of the pre-2004 EU countries. What's more horrifying: the statistic itself or the fact that no American politician to the right of Dennis Kucinich would ever address it?

Perhaps more surprisingly, European business has not been strangled by the EU welfare state; in fact, quite the opposite is true. Europe has surpassed the United States in several high-tech and financial sectors, including wireless technology, grid computing and the insurance industry. The EU has a higher proportion of small businesses than the U.S., and their success rate is higher. American capitalists have begun to pay attention to all this. In Reid's book, Ford Motor Co. chairman Bill Ford explains that the company's Volvo subsidiary is more profitable than its U.S. manufacturing operation, even though wages and benefits are significantly higher in Sweden. Government-subsidized healthcare, child care, pensions and other social supports, Ford says, more than make up for the difference.

The new EU constitution, currently being considered by the member states, is an unwieldy, jargon-laden document that runs to 265 pages in English (and even more in Spanish and French). It should also serve as an inspiration to progressives around the world. It bars capital punishment in all 25 nations and defines such things as universal healthcare, child care, paid annual leave, parental leave, housing for the poor, and equal treatment for gays and lesbians as fundamental human rights. Most of these are still hotly contested questions in the United States; as Rifkin says, this document all by itself makes the European Union the world leader in the human rights debate. It is the first governing document that aspires to universality, "with rights and responsibilities that encompass the totality of human existence on Earth."

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Swarms of locusts descend on Cairo
Nov. 17, 2004, 8:59AM
Reuters News Service

CAIRO - Swarms of pink locusts swept through Cairo on Wednesday in scenes that recalled the biblical plague of Egypt.

The swarms flew high above tall towers or swooped down onto treelined streets, where scared pedestrians stamped on them or ran for cover.

The flying insects arrived from neighbouring Libya after devouring the countryside in central and western Africa in past months. But locust experts said they were unlikely to wreak similar havoc in Egypt, where agriculture is a cornerstone of the economy.

"This is really horrible," said one man as he ran past a building where locusts, some of them more than 3 inches long, smacked into office windows or landed on cars. [...]

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Texas woman killed as flood sweeps her off bridge, second woman missing
08:56 PM EST Nov 17

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Torrential thunderstorms caused flash floods that drowned one woman who was swept from a bridge, and more flooding was expected as rain continued falling Wednesday. A second person was missing.

Firefighters discovered the woman's body late Tuesday. Witnesses told police they saw the woman trying to walk across the bridge over a creek even though a Public Works Department employee warned her not to.

Another woman had been missing since Sunday night in the Blanco River near San Marcos, northeast of San Antonio.

The car driven by Laurie Pineda, 24, was swept away as she tried to drive through a low-water crossing on the Blanco River. A passenger was rescued. The stream had risen more than three metres in two hours. [...]

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Romania Rattled by Quake
2004-11-17
An earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale was registered in Vrancea, about 250 km north of Bucharest and a centre of seismic activity in the country. No damages or casualties were immediately reported. The Romanian capital was seriously shaken at the end of last month, when an earthquake with intensity 5.8 on the Richter struck in Vrancea. The tremour rattled Bulgaria and was also felt across portions of Turkey, Moldova and Ukraine. In 1977, a quake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale killed more than 1,000 people in the Vrancea area.

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'Slow earthquake' found on New Zealand island  
November 17 2004 at 10:21AM

Wellington - New Zealand scientists said on Wednesday they have detected what they call a "slow earthquake" near Gisborne, in the North Island, where an area of land has been moving eastward at nearly two millimetres a day since the end of October.

It is the second time the phenomenon has been observed at Gisborne, a port city on the east coast of the island, in the last two years and only the third time in New Zealand, the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences said.

Geophysicist Laura Wallace said horizontal land movement of about 30mm a year is routinely seen in New Zealand, an earthquake-prone country.

"But to see that amount of movement in two weeks is extraordinary," she said. [...]

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Lee to stop predicting earthquakes
2004-11-17 / Taiwan News, Staff Reporter / By Hungfu Hsueh

A Taichung resident, Lee Cheng-chi, who has become known for his alleged ability to predict earthquakes has agreed not to make any more public predictions after the Central Weather Bureau warned him that he could be fined NT200,000 to NT$1,000,000.

"We did not fine Lee before because he previously made only vague predictions," said CWB Deputy Director Hsin Tsai-chin. "However, last week Lee made a bold earthquake prediction that included scale, time and epicenter, therefore we cannot allow this to continue." [...]

Last Friday, Lee sent a short cell phone message to the local media informing them that a magnitude 5 earthquake on the Richter scale would occur in northern Taiwan on November 12 or 13.

His prediction was off, though a magnitude 4.1 earthquake did occur in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan at 3:06 p.m. on November 12.

Lee said that he has an ear condition known as tinnitus syndrome that causes sufferers to hear a ringing in their ears. Lee said the symptoms become pronounced when an earthquake is about to occur.

Lee came to public prominence on October 15 when he sent an email to the CWB early that morning saying that his tinnitus symptoms were severe and warned of an impending quake. Around the noon that day, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck Taiwan. The quake was centered at sea off the coast of Ilan County in northeastern Taiwan. It was the strongest earthquake to have hit Taiwan since September 21, 1999 when over 2,000 people were killed in a magnitude 7.6 tremblor.

After October 15, Lee made three other predictions on October 26, November 8 and 12. On October 26, he predicted that a strong earthquake would occur prior to October 28 in northern Taiwan. On the morning of October 28 morning two earthquakes occurred at Hualien and Ilan, of magnitude 4.6 and 4.8 on the Richter scale, respectively.

On October 27, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake also shook Niigata in northern Japan. According to Lee, it was the Japan quake that set off his symptoms.

Lee claimed that early on the morning of November 8, his ears started ringing again and he predicted that an earthquake would occur in northern Taiwan. On the night of October 8, a magnitude of 6.7 struck, centered at the sea outside Hualien.

His predictions for a quake of magnitude 5 to 6 on November 12 or 13 did not come true and on Monday the CWB held an internal meeting to discuss how to deal with Lee. The meeting, decided not to tolerate his predictions any more and to issue a warning for him to discontinue.

Hsin said the meeting decided to issue a verbal warning, as the bureau took into consideration the fact that Lee may not be aware that he was breaking the law and also because the CWB believed that he did not intend to make false alarms and cause panic in the society.

Kuo Kai-wen, supervisor of the CWB's Earthquake Forecast Center, made a phone call to Lee on Monday afternoon informing him that he was violating the law, and asking him to be more cautious about making public predictions.

In response, Lee said he was sorry to receive the warning from the CWB. He had made the predictions with good intentions, but the CWB considered his actions a disturbance to the society, he said.

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In Texas, 28,000 Students Test an Electronic Eye
By MATT RICHTEL
Published: November 17, 2004

SPRING, Tex. - In front of her gated apartment complex, Courtney Payne, a 9-year-old fourth grader with dark hair pulled tightly into a ponytail, exits a yellow school bus. Moments later, her movement is observed by Alan Bragg, the local police chief, standing in a windowless control room more than a mile away.

Chief Bragg is not using video surveillance. Rather, he watches an icon on a computer screen. The icon marks the spot on a map where Courtney got off the bus, and, on a larger level, it represents the latest in the convergence of technology and student security.

Hoping to prevent the loss of a child through kidnapping or more innocent circumstances, a few schools have begun monitoring student arrivals and departures using technology similar to that used to track livestock and pallets of retail shipments.

Here in a growing middle- and working-class suburb just north of Houston, the effort is undergoing its most ambitious test. The Spring Independent School District is equipping 28,000 students with ID badges containing computer chips that are read when the students get on and off school buses. The information is fed automatically by wireless phone to the police and school administrators.

In a variation on the concept, a Phoenix school district in November is starting a project using fingerprint technology to track when and where students get on and off buses. Last year, a charter school in Buffalo began automating attendance counts with computerized ID badges - one of the earliest examples of what educators said could become a widespread trend.

At the Spring district, where no student has ever been kidnapped, the system is expected to be used for more pedestrian purposes, Chief Bragg said: to reassure frantic parents, for example, calling because their child, rather than coming home as expected, went to a friend's house, an extracurricular activity or a Girl Scout meeting.

When the district unanimously approved the $180,000 system, neither teachers nor parents objected, said the president of the board. Rather, parents appear to be applauding. "I'm sure we're being overprotective, but you hear about all this violence," said Elisa Temple-Harvey, 34, the parent of a fourth grader. "I'm not saying this will curtail it, or stop it, but at least I know she made it to campus."

The project also is in keeping with the high-tech leanings of the district, which built its own high-speed data network and is outfitting the schools with wireless Internet access. A handful of companies have adapted the technology for use in schools.

But there are critics, including some older students and privacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, who argue that the system is security paranoia.

The decades-old technology, called radio frequency identification, or RFID, is growing less expensive and developing vast new capabilities. It is based on a computer chip that has a unique number programmed into it and contains a tiny antenna that sends information to a reader.

The same technology is being used by companies like Wal-Mart to track pallets of retail items. Pet owners can have chips embedded in cats and dogs to identify them if they are lost.

In October, the Food and Drug Administration approved use of an RFID chip that could be implanted under a patient's skin and would carry a number that linked to the patient's medical records. [...]

But for the Enterprise Charter School in Buffalo, where administrators gave ID cards with the RFID technology to around 460 students last year, the computer problems lasted for many months.

The system is set up so that when students walk in the door each morning, they pass by one of two kiosks - which together cost $40,000 - designed to pick up their individual radio frequency numbers as a way of taking attendance. Initially, though, the kiosks failed to register some students, or registered ones who were not there.

Mark Walter, head of technology for the Buffalo school, said the system was working well now. But Mr. Walter cautions that the more ambitious technological efforts in Spring, particularly given the reliance on cellphones to call in the data, are "going to run in to some problems."

In the long run, however, the biggest problem may be human error. Parents, teachers and administrators said their primary worry is getting students to remember their cards, given they often forget such basics as backpacks, lunch money and gym shoes. And then there might be mischief: students could trade their cards. [...]

Some older students are not so enthusiastic.

"It's too Big Brother for me," said Kenneth Haines, a 15-year-old ninth grader who is on the football and debate teams. "Something about the school wanting to know the exact place and time makes me feel kind of like an animal."

Middle and high school students already wear ID badges, but they have not yet been equipped with the RFID technology. Even so, some bus drivers are apparently taking advantage of the technology's mythical powers by telling students that they are being tracked on the bus in order to get them to behave better. [...]

Kenneth's opinion is echoed by organizations like the A.C.L.U. and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes "digital rights."

It is "naïve to believe all this data will only be used to track children in the extremely unlikely event of the rare kidnapping by a stranger," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty program at the A.C.L.U.

Mr. Steinhardt said schools, once they had invested in the technology, could feel compelled to get a greater return on investment by putting it to other uses, like tracking where students go after school.

Advocates of the technology said they did not plan to go that far. But, they said, they do see broader possibilities, such as implanting RFID tags under the skin of children to avoid problems with lost or forgotten tags. More immediately, they said, they could see using the technology to track whether students attend individual classes.

Mr. Weisinger, the head of transportation at Spring, said that, for now, the district could not afford not to put the technology to use. Chief Bragg said the key to catching kidnappers was getting crucial information within two to four hours of a crime - information such as the last place the child was seen.

"We've been fortunate; we haven't had a kidnapping," Mr. Weisinger said. "But if it works one time finding a student who has been kidnapped, then the system has paid for itself."

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