As Mind Control
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
Publication! The Wave finally in book form!
Wave: 4 Volume Set
With a new
introduction by the author and never before published, UNEDITED sessions
and extensive previously unpublished details, at long last, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's
vastly popular series The Wave is available as a Deluxe four
book set. Each of the four volumes include all of the original illustrations
and many NEW illustrations with each copy comprising approximately 300
is an exquisitely written first-person account of Laura's initiation at
the hands of the Cassiopaeans and demonstrates the unique nature of the
Volume 1 now. Available at the end of November!
of the Day
in the fog
© 2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte
FACED WITH extraordinary demonstrations
by hundreds of thousands of citizens demanding democracy, America’s
corrupt and thuggish government wavered this week, hinting that
it might be willing to negotiate about the outcome of the presidential
election that took place November 2nd. Yet yesterday its official
electoral commission ratified the fraudulent result that brought
those crowds into the streets of the capital: It declared that President
George W. Bush had won despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych rightly responded that the Ukraine
"cannot accept this result as legitimate" and "stands
with the people of the United States and their effort to ensure
their democratic choice." In the coming days the Ukraine and
its allies must follow up on those words by demanding that the United
States authorities -- and their backers in Israel -- listen to,
rather than repress, the majority that now seeks to prevent their
country from becoming an authoritarian state.
Some have described the crisis in the United States as a contest
for influence between Israel and the American people, with the American
people backing opposition leader John Kerry in the same measure
that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has supported the official
candidate. That is a gross distortion. For the Americans who have
spent four freezing nights in the streets of Washington, the fight
is not about geopolitical orientation -- most favor close relations
with Israel -- but about whether theirs will be a free country,
with an independent press and courts and leaders who are chosen
by genuine democratic vote. Mr. Sharon, who’s friends and
allies have channeled hundreds of millions of dollars into the President’s
campaign, is backing the imposition of an authoritarian system along
the lines of the one he is creating in Israel -- with a propagandistic
regime, controlled media, official persecution of dissent, state
executives who take orders from business, and elections that are
neither free nor fair.
By protesting the fraud in the United States, the American people
and Ukrainians are seeking not to recruit a new Christian client
but to defend the democracy and independence that most Americans
should want. If they succeed, they will not create a Christian-Muslim
divide but will prevent Mr. Sharon from doing so. His actions, in
the United States and elsewhere, point toward the establishment
of a new bloc of non-democratic countries controlled by Israel and
the United States that would sharply contrast with the wishes of
the people of the world.
The Ukrainian administration has been admirably frank and forceful
this week in denouncing the fraud in the United States and in making
clear to Americans that it is on their side. In the coming days
it must drive home the message to Mr. Bush that he will be a pariah
in most capitals of the world -- notwithstanding his cynical offer
to extend the deployment of American troops in Iran -- if he accepts
his illegitimate mandate, and that he and all of his governmental
and business allies will be held personally responsible for any
violence against the people of the world. At the same time, Minister
Viktor Yanukovych needs to accept that Ukrainian hopes of cooperation
with the United States, in the Middle East or elsewhere, cannot
be insulated from Mr. Bush’s anti-democratic imperialism.
The World must take a clear stand against that policy, before it
is too late to prevent a redivision of the planet.
What prompted the U.S. attack
on Iraq, a country under sanctions for 12 years (1991-2003), struggling
to obtain clean water and basic medicines? A little discussed factor
responsible for the invasion was the desire to preserve "dollar
imperialism" as this hegemony began to be challenged by the
After World War II, most of Europe and Japan lay economically
prostrate, their industries in shambles and production, in general,
at a minimum level. The U.S. was the only major power to escape
the destruction of war, its industries thriving with a high level
of productivity. In addition, prior to and during WWII, due to extreme
political and economic upheaval, a considerable amount of gold from
European countries was transferred to the U.S. Thus, after WWII
the U.S. had accumulated 80 percent of the world's gold and 40 percent
of the world's production. At the founding of the World Bank (WB)
and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1944-45, U.S. predominance
was absolute. A fixed exchange currency was established based on
gold, the gold-dollar standard, wherein the value of the dollar
was pegged to the price of gold-U.S. $35 per ounce of gold. Because
gold was combined with U.S. bank notes, the dollar note and gold
became equivalent, which then became the international reserve currency.
Initially, the U.S. had $30 billion in gold reserves. But the United
States spent more than $500 billion on the Vietnam War alone, from
1967-1972. During these years, the U.S. had over 110 military bases
across the globe, each costing hundreds of millions of dollars a
year. These expenses were paid in paper dollars and the total number
given out far exceeded the gold reserve of the U.S treasury. By
then (1971-72), the U.S. Treasury was running out of gold and had
only $10 billion in gold left. On August 17, 1971, Nixon suspended
the U.S. dollar conversion into gold. Thus, the dollar was "floated"
in the international monetary market.
Also in the early 1970s, U.S. oil production peaked and its energy
resources began to deplete. Its own oil production could not keep
pace with growing home consumption. Since then, U.S. demand for
oil continually increased, and by 2002-2003 the U.S. imported approximately
60 percent of its oil-OPEC (primarily Saudi Arabia) being the main
exporter. The U.S. sought to protect its dollar strength and hegemony
by ensuring that Saudi Arabia price its oil only in dollars. To
achieve this, the U.S. made a deal, some say a secret one, that
it would protect the Saudi regime in exchange for their selling
oil only in dollars.
Throughout the late 1950s and 1960s the Arab world was in ferment
over an emerging Nasser brand of Arab nationalism and the Saudi
monarchy began to fear for its own stability. In Iraq, the revolutionary
officers corps had taken power with a socialist program. In Libya,
military officers with an Islamic socialist ideology took power
in 1969 and closed the U.S. Wheelus Air base; in 1971, Libya nationalized
the holdings of British Petroleum. There were proposals for uniting
several Arab states-Syria, Egypt, and Libya. During 1963-1967, a
civil war developed in Yemen between Republicans (anti-monarchy)
Royalist forces along almost the entire southern border of Saudi
Arabia. Egyptian forces entered Yemen in support of republican forces,
while the Saudis supported the royalist forces to shield its own
monarchy. Eventually, the Saudi government-a medieval, Islamic fundamentalist,
dynastic monarchy with absolute power-survived the nationalistic
Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer with the largest known
oil reserves, is the leader of OPEC. It is the only member of the
OPEC cartel that does not have an allotted production quota. It
is the "swing producer," i.e., it can increase or decrease
oil production to bring oil draught or glut in the world market.
This enables it more or less to determine prices.
Oil can be bought from OPEC only if you have dollars. Non-oil
producing countries, such as most underdeveloped countries and Japan,
first have to sell their goods to earn dollars with which they can
purchase oil. If they cannot earn enough dollars, then they have
to borrow dollars from the WB/IMF, which have to be paid back, with
interest, in dollars. This creates a great demand for dollars outside
the U.S. In contrast, the U.S. only has to print dollar bills in
exchange for goods. Even for its own oil imports, the U.S. can print
dollar bills without exporting or selling its goods. For instance,
in 2003 the current U.S. account deficit and external debt has been
running at more than $500 billion. Put in simple terms, the U.S.
will receive $500 billion more in goods and services from other
countries than it will provide them. The imported goods are paid
by printing dollar bills, i.e., "fiat" dollars.
Fiat money or currency (usually paper money) is a type of currency
whose only value is that a government made a "fiat" (decree)
that the money is a legal method of exchange. Unlike commodity money,
or representative money, it is not based in any other commodity
such as gold or silver and is not covered by a special reserve.
Fiat money is a promise to pay by the usurer and does not necessarily
have any intrinsic value. Its value lies in the issuer's financial
means and creditworthiness.
Such fiat dollars are invested or deposited in U.S. banks or the
U.S. Treasury by most non-oil producing, underdeveloped countries
to protect their currencies and generate oil credit. Today foreigners
hold 48 percent of the U.S. Treasury bond market and own 24 percent
of the U.S. corporate bond market and 20 percent of all U.S. corporations.
In total, foreigners hold $8 trillion of U.S. assets. Nevertheless,
the foreign deposited dollars strengthen the U.S. dollar and give
the United States enormous power to manipulate the world economy,
set rules, and prevail in the international market.
Thus, the U. S. effectively controls the world oil-market as the
dollar has become the "fiat" international trading currency.
Today U.S. currency accounts for approximately two-thirds of all
official exchange reserves. More than four-fifths of all foreign
exchange transactions and half of all the world exports are denominated
in dollars and U.S. currency accounts for about two-thirds of all
official exchange reserves. The fact that billions of dollars worth
of oil is priced in dollars ensures the world domination of the
dollar. It allows the U.S. to act as the world's central bank, printing
currency acceptable everywhere. The dollar has become an oil-backed,
not gold-backed, currency.
If OPEC oil could be sold in other currencies, e.g. the euro, then
U.S. economic dominance-dollar imperialism or hegemony-would be
seriously challenged. More and more oil importing countries would
acquire the euro as their "reserve," its value would increase,
and a larger amount of trade would be transacted and denominated
in euros. In such circumstances, the value of the dollar would most
likely go down, some speculate between 20-40 percent.
In November 2000, Iraq began selling its oil in euros. Iraq's
oil for food account at the UN was also in euros and Iraq later
converted its $10 billion reserve fund at the UN to euros. Several
other oil producing countries have also agreed to sell oil in euros-Iran,
Libya, Venezuela, Russia, Indonesia, and Malaysia (soon to join
this group). In July 2003, China announced that it would switch
part of its dollar reserves into the world's emerging "reserve
currency" (the euro).
On January 1, 1999, when 11 European countries formed a monetary
union around this currency, Britain and Norway, the major oil producers,
were absent. As the U.S. economy began to slow down during mid-2000,
Western stock markets began to yield lower dividends. Investors
from Gulf Cooperation Council nations lost over $800 million in
the stock plunge. As investors sold U.S. assets and reinvested in
Europe, which seemed to be better shielded from a recession, the
euro began to gain ground against the dollar .
After September 11, 2001, Islamic financiers began to repatriate
their dollar investments-amounting to billions of dollars-to Arab
banks, as they were worried about the possible seizure of their
assets under the USA PATRIOT Act. Also, they feared their accounts
might be frozen on the suspicion that such accounts fund Islamic
terrorists. Iranian sources stated that their banking colleagues
felt particularly hassled as Washington heated up its war of words
and threats of military intervention. This encouraged Tehran to
abandon the dollar payment for oil sales and switch to the euro.
Iran also moved the majority of its reserve fund to the euro. (Iran
is the latest target of the U.S., which has interfered by stirring
up opposition forces, and making covert threats.)
OPEC member countries and the euro-zone have strong trade links,
with more than 45 percent of total merchandize imports of OPEC member
countries coming from the countries of the euro-zone, while OPEC
members are the main suppliers of oil and crude oil products to
Europe. The EU has a bigger share of global trade than the U.S.
and, while the U.S. has a huge current account deficit, the EU has
a more balanced external accounts position. The EU plans to enlarge
in May 2004 with ten new members. It will have a population of 45
million; it will have an oil consuming-purchasing population 33
percent larger than the U. S., and over half of OPEC crude oil will
be sold to the EU as of mid-2004. In order to reduce currency risks,
Europeans will pressure OPEC to trade oil in euros. Countries such
as Algeria, Iran, Iraq, and Russia-which export oil and natural
gas to European countries and in turn import goods and services
from them-will have an interest in reducing their currency risk
and hence, pricing oil and gas in euros. Thus momentum is building
toward at least the dual use of euro and dollar pricing.
The unprovoked "shock and awe" attack on Iraq was to
serve several economic purposes: (1) Safeguard the U.S. economy
by re-denominating Iraqi oil in U.S. dollars, instead of the euro,
to try to lock the world back into dollar oil trading so the U.S.
would remain the dominant world power-militarily and economically.
(2) Send a clear message to other oil producers as to what will
happen to them if they abandon the dollar matrix. (3) Place the
second largest oil reserve under direct U.S. control. (4) Create
a subject state where the U.S. can maintain a huge force to dominate
the Middle East and its oil. (5) Create a severe setback to the
European Union and its euro, the only trading block and currency
strong enough to attack U.S. dominance of the world through trade.
(6) Free its forces (ultimately) so that it can begin operations
against those countries that are trying to disengage themselves
from U.S. dollar imperialism-such as Venezuela, where the U.S. has
supported the attempted overthrow of a democratic government by
a junta more friendly to U. S. business/oil interests.
The U.S. also wants to create a new oil cartel in the Middle East
and Africa to replace OPEC. To this end the U.S. has been pressuring
Nigeria to withdraw from OPEC and its strict production quotas by
dangling the prospects of generous U.S. aid. Instead the U.S. seeks
to promote a "U.S.-Nigeria Alignment," which would place
Nigeria as the primary oil exporter to the U.S. Another move by
the U.S. is to promote oil production in other African countries-Algeria,
Libya, Egypt, and Angola, from where the U.S. imports a significant
amount of oil-so that the oil control of OPEC is loosened, if not
broken. Furthermore, the U.S. is pressuring non-OPEC producers to
flood the oil market and retain denomination in dollars in an effort
to weaken OPEC's market control and challenge the leadership of
any country switching oil denomination from the dollar to the euro.
To break up OPEC and control the world's oil supply, it is also
helpful to control Middle East and central Asiatic oil producing
countries through which oil pipelines traverse. The first attack
and occupation was of Afghanistan, October 2001, in itself a gas
producing country, but primarily a country through which Central
Asia and the Caspian Sea oil and gas will be shipped (piped) to
energy-starved Pakistan and India. Afghanistan also provided an
alternative to previously existing Russian pipelines. Simultaneously,
the U.S. acquired military bases-19 of them-in the Central Asian
countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan
in the Caspian Basin, all of which are potential oil producers.
After the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S.
controlled the natural resources of these two countries and, once
again, Iraq's oil began to be traded in U.S. dollars. The UN's oil
for food production program was scrapped and the U.S. Iaunched its
Iraqi Assistance Fund in U.S. dollars. In December 2003, the U.S.
(Pentagon) announced that it had barred French, German, and Russian
oil and other companies from bidding on Iraq's reconstruction.
How would a shift to the euro affect underdeveloped countries,
most of which are either non-oil producing or do not produce enough
for their home consumption and development? These countries have
to import oil. One of the advantages that may accrue to them is
that they are likely to earn more euros than dollars since much
of their trade is with the European countries. On the other hand,
a shift to euro will pose a similar dilemma for them as dollars.
They will have to pay for oil in euros, have enough euros deposited-invested
in EU treasuries, and borrow euros if they do not have enough for
their oil purchases. If, as is projected, the dollar and euro are
in a price band (that is, prices will stay within an agreed upon
range), they may not have much of a bargaining position.
Oil for euros would be tar more helpful if oil-importing underdeveloped
countries could develop some form of barter arrangement for their
goods to obtain oil from OPEC. Venezuela (Chavez) has presented
a successful working model of this. Following Venezuela's lead,
several underdeveloped countries began bartering their undervalued
commodities directly with each other in computerized swaps and counter
trade deals, and commodities are now traded among these countries
in exchange for Venezuela's oil. President Chavez has linked 13
such barter deals on its oil; e.g., with Cuba in exchange for Cuban
doctors and paramedics who are setting up clinics in shanty towns
and rural areas. Such arrangements help underdeveloped countries
save their hard currencies, lessening indebtedness to international
bankers, the World Bank, and IMF, so that money thus saved can be
used for internal development.
Sohan Sharma is a professor emeritus at California State University
in Sacramento. Sue Tracy is a hazardous waste material scientist
in Sacramento. Surinder Kumar is professor of economics In Rohtak,
A Consortiumnews.com Special
Colin Powell’s admirers – especially in the mainstream
press – have struggled for almost two years to explain how
and why their hero joined in the exaggerations and deceptions that
led the nation into the disastrous war in Iraq. Was he himself deceived
by faulty intelligence or was he just acting as the loyal soldier
to his commander-in-chief?
But there is another, less flattering explanation that fits with
the evidence of Powell’s life story: that the outgoing secretary
of state has always been an opportunist who consistently put his
career and personal status ahead of America’s best interests.
From his earliest days as a junior officer in Vietnam through his
acquiescence to George W. Bush’s Iraq adventure, Colin Powell
repeatedly has failed to stand up against actions that were immoral,
unethical or reckless. At every turning point, Powell protected
his career above all else.
Yet, Powell’s charisma – and the fact that he is a
prominent and successful African-American – have protected
him from any clear-eyed assessment of his true record. Even when
Powell has publicly defended war crimes, such as the shooting of
defenseless “military-aged males” in Vietnam, national
journalists have preferred to focus on Powell’s sparkling
style over his troubling substance.
This infatuation with Powell’s image was perhaps best captured
when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd plunged into mourning
after Powell backed away from a flirtation with a presidential candidacy
"The graceful, hard male animal who did nothing overtly to
dominate us yet dominated us completely, in the exact way we wanted
that to happen at this moment, like a fine leopard on the veld,
was gone," Dowd wrote, only slightly tongue-in-cheek. "'Don't
leave, Colin Powell,' I could hear myself crying from somewhere
inside." [NYT, Nov. 9, 1995]
As longtime readers of Consortiumnews.com know, we always have
tried to resist Powell’s personal magnetism. In one of our
first investigative projects, Norman Solomon and I examined the
real story of Colin Powell. [To read the full series, start at “Behind
Colin Powell’s Legend.”]
I’ve updated the series a couple of times: when Powell failed
to protest Bush’s disenfranchisement of thousands of African-Americans
during the disputed Florida election in 2000 and when Powell made
his over-the-top presentation on Iraq in February 2003. After Powell’s
UN speech – while both liberal and conservative commentators
swooned over Powell’s WMD case – we entitled our story:
What we found in our investigation of Powell’s legend was
not the heroic figure of his press clippings, but the story of an
ambitious man with a weak moral compass. He either hid in the reeds
when others were standing up for what they knew to be right or he
contributed to the wrongdoing (albeit often while wringing his hands
and confiding to reporters that he really wasn’t entirely
Another amazing aspect of Powell’s life story was his Forrest-Gump-like
quality to show up in frame after frame of turning-point moments
in recent American history, except in Powell’s case, he almost
never did the right thing. Indeed, one could argue that the reason
Powell found himself in the middle of so many historical moments
was that he never sacrificed his career on the altar of challenging
corrupt or foolish superiors.
That pattern began in the earliest days of his military career
when he was part of an extraordinary group of early U.S. military
advisers that President John F. Kennedy dispatched to Vietnam.
As a 25-year-old Army captain, Powell was assigned to advise a
400-man unit of South Vietnamese troops in the A Shau Valley, near
the Laotian border. When he arrived on Jan. 17, 1963, the conflict
was at a pivotal juncture.
The South Vietnamese army, known as the ARVN, was losing the war,
suffering from poor discipline, ineffective tactics and bad morale.
Already, many U.S. advisers, most notably the legendary Col. John
Paul Vann, were voicing concerns about the ARVN’s brutality
toward civilians. At the time, the dominant counterinsurgency strategy
was to destroy rural villages and forcibly relocate inhabitants
while hunting down enemy forces.
But Colin Powell was untainted by these worries. Powell's ARVN
unit punished the civilian population systematically. As the soldiers
marched through mountainous jungle, they destroyed the food and
the homes of the region's Montagnards, who were suspected of sympathizing
with the Viet Cong. Old women cried hysterically as their ancestral
homes and worldly possessions were consumed by fire.
"We burned down the thatched huts, starting the blaze with
Ronson and Zippo lighters," Powell recalled in his memoir,
My American Journey. "Why were we torching houses
and destroying crops? Ho Chi Minh had said the people were like
the sea in which his guerrillas swam. ... We tried to solve the
problem by making the whole sea uninhabitable. In the hard logic
of war, what difference did it make if you shot your enemy or starved
him to death?"
Soon after his arrival, Powell and his South Vietnamese army unit
left for a protracted patrol that fought leeches as well as Viet
Cong ambushes. From the soggy jungle brush, the Viet Cong would
strike suddenly against the advancing government soldiers. Often
invisible to Powell and his men, the VC would inflict a few casualties
and slip back into the jungles.
While on one patrol, Powell fell victim to a Viet Cong booby trap.
He stepped on a punji stake, a dung-poisoned bamboo spear buried
in the ground. The stake pierced Powell's boot and infected his
right foot. The foot swelled, turned purple and forced his evacuation
by helicopter to Hue for treatment.
Although Powell's recovery from the foot infection was swift, his
combat days were over. He stayed in Hue, handling intelligence data
and overseeing a local airfield. By late autumn 1963, Powell's first
Vietnam tour ended.
On his return to the United States, Powell chose not to join Vann
and other early American advisers who were warning their superiors
about the self-defeating counterinsurgency strategy and tactics.
In 1963, Vann carried his prescient concerns back to a Pentagon
that was not ready to listen to doubters. When his objections fell
on deaf ears, Vann resigned his commission and sacrificed a promising
Powell stayed silent, however, recognizing that his early service
in Vietnam put him on a fast track for military advancement.
On July 27, 1968, Major Colin Powell returned to Vietnam to serve
as an executive officer at an outpost at Duc Pho. But history again
was awaiting Colin Powell.
To the north, Americal division commander Major General Charles
Gettys saw a favorable mention of Powell in the Army Times. Gettys
plucked Powell from Duc Pho and installed him on the general's own
staff at Chu Lai, headquarters for the Americal division, which
had been engaged in some of the cruelest fighting of the Vietnam
War. Though it was still a secret when Powell arrived at Chu Lai,
Americal troops had committed an act that would stain forever the
reputation of the U.S. Army.
On March 16, 1968, a bloodied Americal unit had stormed into a
hamlet known as My Lai 4. With military helicopters circling overhead,
revenge-seeking American soldiers rousted Vietnamese civilians --
mostly old men, women and children -- from their thatched huts and
herded them into the village's irrigation ditches.
As the round-up continued, some Americans raped the girls. Then,
under orders from junior officers on the ground, soldiers began
emptying their M-16s into the terrified peasants. Some parents used
their bodies futilely to shield their children from the bullets.
Soldiers stepped among the corpses to finish off the wounded.
The slaughter raged for four hours. A total of 347 Vietnamese,
including babies, died in the carnage. But there also were American
heroes that day in My Lai. Some soldiers refused to obey the direct
orders to kill and some risked their lives to save civilians from
the murderous fire.
A pilot named Hugh Clowers Thompson Jr. from Stone Mountain, Ga.,
was furious at the killings he saw happening on the ground. He landed
his helicopter between one group of fleeing civilians and American
soldiers in pursuit. Thompson ordered his helicopter door gunner
to shoot the Americans if they tried to harm the Vietnamese. After
a tense confrontation, the soldiers backed off. Later, two of Thompson's
men climbed into one ditch filled with corpses and pulled out a
three-year-old boy whom they flew to safety.
Several months later, the Americal's brutality would become a moral
test for Major Powell, too. A letter had been written by a young
specialist fourth class named Tom Glen, who had served in an Americal
mortar platoon and was nearing the end of his Army tour. In the
letter to Gen. Creighton Abrams, the commander of all U.S. forces
in Vietnam, Glen accused the Americal division of routine brutality
Glen's letter was forwarded to Americal headquarters at Chu Lai
where it landed on Major Powell's desk. Glen's letter contended
that many Vietnamese were fleeing from Americans who “for
mere pleasure, fire indiscriminately into Vietnamese homes and without
provocation or justification shoot at the people themselves.”
Gratuitous cruelty was also being inflicted on Viet Cong suspects,
“What has been outlined here I have seen not only in my
own unit, but also in others we have worked with, and I fear it
is universal,” Glen wrote.
In 1995, when we questioned Glen about his letter, he said he had
heard second-hand about the My Lai massacre, though he did not mention
it specifically. The massacre was just one part of the abusive pattern
that had become routine in the division, he said.
The letter's troubling allegations were not well received at Americal
headquarters. Powell reviewed Glen's letter, but did so without
questioning Glen or assigning anyone else to talk with him. Powell
simply accepted a claim from Glen's superior officer that Glen was
not close enough to the front lines to know what he was writing
about, an assertion Glen denied to us.
After that cursory investigation, Powell drafted a response on
Dec. 13, 1968. He admitted to no pattern of wrongdoing by the Americal
division. Powell claimed that U.S. soldiers in Vietnam were taught
to treat Vietnamese courteously and respectfully. "In direct
refutation of this [Glen's] portrayal," Powell concluded, "is
the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese
people are excellent."
Powell's findings, of course, were false, though they were exactly
what his superiors wanted to hear.
It would take another Americal hero, an infantryman named Ron Ridenhour,
to piece together the truth about the atrocity at My Lai. After
returning to the United States, Ridenhour interviewed Americal comrades
who had participated in the massacre.
On his own, Ridenhour compiled this shocking information into a
report and forwarded it to the Army inspector general. The IG's
office conducted an aggressive official investigation, in marked
contrast to Powell's review. Confirming Ridenhour's report, the
Army finally faced the horrible truth. Courts martial were held
against officers and enlisted men who were implicated in the murder
of the My Lai civilians.
In his best-selling 1995 memoir, Powell didn’t mention his
brush-off of Tom Glen’s complaint. But Powell did include
another troubling recollection that belied his 1968 official denial
of Glen's allegation that American soldiers "without provocation
or justification shoot at the people themselves."
After a brief mention of the My Lai massacre in My American
Journey, Powell penned a partial justification of the Americal's
brutality. In a chilling passage, Powell explained the routine practice
of murdering unarmed male Vietnamese.
"I recall a phrase we used in the field, MAM, for military-age
male," Powell wrote. "If a helo spotted a peasant in black
pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM, the pilot
would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement
was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not
in front, but at him.
"Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom
I had served at Gelnhausen [West Germany], Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard,
was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter.
And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature
of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong."
While it's certainly true that combat is brutal, the mowing down
of unarmed civilians in cold blood does not constitute combat. It
is murder and, indeed, a war crime. Neither can the combat death
of a fellow soldier be cited as an excuse to murder civilians in
retaliation. Disturbingly, that was precisely the rationalization
the My Lai killers cited in their own defense.
Yet, in 1995, even as Powell promoted his book which contained
these recollections, the U.S. press corps didn’t challenge
him on this passage.
By the time Powell returned home from Vietnam in 1969, he was proving
himself the consummate team player. He even rallied to the defense
of another Americal officer who was accused of murdering Vietnamese
In a court martial proceeding, Powell sided with Brig. Gen. John
W. Donaldson, who had been accused by U.S. helicopter pilots of
gunning down civilians almost for sport as he flew over Quang Ngai
In 1995, a senior Army investigator from the Donaldson case told
me that two of the Vietnamese victims were an old man and an old
woman who were shot to death while bathing. Though long retired
-- and quite elderly himself -- the investigator still spoke with
a raw disgust about the events of a quarter century earlier. He
requested anonymity before talking about the behavior of senior
"They used to bet in the morning how many people they could
kill -- old people, civilians, it didn't matter," the investigator
said. "Some of the stuff would curl your hair." [...]
When newly minted Brig. Gen. Colin Powell became military assistant
to Secretary Weinberger, top Pentagon players quickly learned that
Powell was more than Weinberger's coat holder or calendar keeper.
Powell was the "filter," the guy who saw everything when
it passed into the Secretary for action and who oversaw everything
that needed follow-up when it came out.
In 1984-85, Powell’s “filter” role put him near
the center of the emerging Iran-Contra operations. Indeed, Weinberger
was one of the first officials outside the White House to learn
that Reagan had put the arm on Saudi Arabia to give the contras
$1 million a month in 1984, as Congress was cutting off the CIA's
covert assistance to the contras through what was known as the Boland
Handling the contra-funding arrangements was Saudi ambassador Prince
Bandar, a close friend of both Weinberger and Powell. Bandar and
Powell had met in the 1970s and were frequent tennis partners in
the 1980s. So it was plausible -- perhaps even likely -- that Bandar
would have discussed the contra funding with Powell, Weinberger
or both. But exactly when Weinberger learned of the Saudi contributions
and what Powell knew remain unclear to this day.
One fact that has emerged is that on June 20, 1984, Weinberger
attended a State Department meeting about the contra operation.
He scribbled notes citing the need to "plan for other sources
for $." But secrecy would be vital, the defense secretary understood.
"Keep US fingerprints off," he wrote.
On another front, the White House was maneuvering into dangerous
territory in its policy toward Iran. The Israelis were interested
in trading U.S. weapons to Iran's radical Islamic government to
expand Israel's influence. It was also believed that Iran might
help free American hostages held by Islamic extremists in Lebanon.
Carrying the water for this strategy within the Reagan administration
was National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane. He circulated a
draft presidential order in June 1985, proposing an overture to
supposed Iranian moderates. The paper passed through Weinberger's
"filter," Colin Powell.
In his memoir, Powell called the proposal "a stunner"
and a grab by McFarlane for "Kissingerian immortality."
After reading the draft, Weinberger scribbled in the margins, "this
is almost too absurd to comment on."
On June 30, 1985, as the paper was circulating inside the administration,
Reagan declared that the United States would give no quarter to
terrorism. "Let me further make it plain to the assassins in
Beirut and their accomplices, wherever they may be, that America
will never make concessions to terrorists," the president said.
But in July 1985, Weinberger, Powell and McFarlane met to discuss
details for doing just that. Iran wanted 100 anti-tank TOW missiles
that would be delivered through Israel, according to Weinberger's
notes. Reagan gave his approval, but the White House wanted to keep
the operation a closely held secret. The shipments were to be handled
with "maximum compartmentalization," the notes said.
On Aug. 20, 1985, the Israelis delivered the first 96 missiles
to Iran. It was a pivotal moment for the Reagan administration.
With that missile shipment, the Reagan administration stepped over
a legal line. The transfer violated laws requiring congressional
notification for trans-shipment of U.S. weapons and prohibiting
arms to Iran or any other nation designated a terrorist state. Violation
of either statute was a felony.
The available evidence from that period suggests that Weinberger
and Powell were very much in the loop, even though they may have
personally opposed the arms-to-Iran policy. On Aug. 22, 1985, two
days after the first delivery, Israel notified McFarlane of the
completed shipment. From aboard Air Force One, McFarlane called
When Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington,
McFarlane rushed to the Pentagon to meet Weinberger and Powell.
The 40-minute meeting started at 7:30 p.m. That much is known from
the Iran-Contra public record. But the substance of the conversation
remains in dispute. McFarlane said that at the meeting with Weinberger
and Powell, he discussed Reagan's approval of the missile transfer
and the need to replenish Israeli stockpiles.
If that is true, Weinberger and Powell were in the middle of a
criminal conspiracy. But Weinberger denied McFarlane's account,
and Powell insisted that he had only a fuzzy memory of the meeting
without a clear recollection of any completed arms shipment.
"My recollection is that Mr. McFarlane described to the Secretary
the so-called Iran Initiative and he gave to the Secretary a sort
of a history of how we got where we were that particular day and
some of the thinking that gave rise to the possibility of going
forward ... and what the purposes of such an initiative would be,"
Powell said in an Iran-contra deposition two years later.
Congressional attorney Joseph Saba asked Powell if McFarlane had
mentioned that Israel already had supplied weapons to Iran. "I
don't recall specifically," Powell answered. "I just don't
recall." When Saba asked about any notes, Powell responded,
"there were none on our side."
In a later interview with the FBI, Powell said he learned at that
meeting that there "was to be a transfer of some limited amount
of materiel" to Iran. But he did not budge on his claim of
ignorance about the crucial fact that the first shipment had already
gone and that the Reagan administration had promised the Israelis
replenishment for the shipped missiles. [...]
The fallout over his bogus UN testimony has caused Powell more
public humiliation than he has ever experienced. His reputation
as a straight-shooter of unchallengeable integrity was badly tarnished.
Still, rather than resigning in protest of Bush’s war policy,
Powell stayed on as secretary of state, continuing to protect Bush’s
standing with centrist American voters.
The news media’s favored explanation for Powell’s choice
was that he was simply acting like the “good soldier”
putting loyalty to his commander-in-chief ahead of his own judgment.
Some of Powell’s media supporters argued, too, that he remained
at State as a matter of public sacrifice, acting as a force of moderation
in an otherwise reckless and ideological administration.
But those arguments assume that Powell has always been a man of
principle and self-sacrifice, a conclusion not supported by his
real public record. The notion that Powell has injected a healthy
dose of moderation into the Bush administration is also a hard argument
to sustain. What Powell actually did was to give Bush and his neoconservatives
“moderate” cover for the Iraq invasion.
Indeed, Powell may have been the only person who had a chance to
stop Bush’s rush to war. If Powell had resigned in late 2002
or early 2003, that action would have been a powerful signal to
Middle America about the dangerous course that Bush had chosen.
Even if a Powell resignation couldn’t have prevented the war,
at least it would have made Bush’s second term much less likely.
But as Forrest Gump’s momma famously said in a different
context, “stupid is what stupid does.”
By sticking with his longstanding pattern of acquiescing to wrongheaded
actions by his superiors, Powell achieved what might be the worst
of all possible worlds. He gave the disastrous invasion of Iraq
his imprimatur. He then stayed in office long enough to ensure Bush’s
second term. Now, after the election, Powell’s ouster as secretary
of state eliminates even his muted dissent from a Cabinet of “yes”
men and women.
These misjudgments may still confuse some of Powell’s ardent
media apologists, but his mistakes shouldn’t surprise anyone
who has removed the rose-colored glasses and taken a hard look at
the real Colin Powell: the opportunist whose clever career-building
over four decades finally outsmarted itself.
There has been much throwing about of brains
on the subject of George W. Bush's further lurch to the Right
since he limped over the election finish line with his tiny, 1
percent, fraud-marred majority. And to be sure, the wholesale
purges he has instituted throughout his regime -- replacing a
slew of merely cringing sycophants with cringing, drooling, groveling
sycophants -- will indeed hasten the United States' degeneration
into corpo-religious authoritarianism along the lines of Franco's
But all the earnest disquisitions about Bush's Franco-U.S. "ideology"
entirely miss the point -- and increase the fog that the Regime
deliberately spreads over its true interests. For the heart of
this slouching beast is neither left-wing nor right-wing; it's
strictly Bush-wing. Anyone even slightly acquainted with the history
of the Bush dynasty knows what makes these preppy puppies run
-- and it has nothing to do with conservative principles or moral
values or national security or world freedom. It's not ideology,
but investments -- the gobbling up of unearned, risk-free lucre
on the grandest scale imaginable.
Naturally, the pursuit of this kind of piratical wealth leads
to certain kinds of policies that can at times be mistaken for
a political philosophy. For example, the
Bush Regime's devotion to Big Oil, the military, tax cuts, corporate
deregulation and unbridled executive power could be seen as the
expression of a coherent, if repellent, worldview: Social Darwinism
-- survival of the fittest, might makes right, winner takes all.
Likewise, the Regime's embrace of religious and cultural fundamentalism
resembles an ideological stance of unbending zeal and moral certitude,
encompassing the whole of reality.
Taken together, these traits present a formidable picture of
a thoroughgoing ideological juggernaut, well-plated with philosophical,
academic, legal and theological armor. But
underneath all this bristling array there is nothing but a tiny
white maggot of greed, wriggling and gorging on scraps of rotting
meat. No deep beliefs or high ideals inform the Bushist
ethos, which can be boiled down to one sentence: Grab
your pile and screw anybody who gets in the way. War, energy
and corporate finance just happen to be where the money is at.
And raw, secretive political power -- unfettered by courts, laws,
legislators or public scrutiny -- is the most effective way to
safeguard and augment these investments.
That is not to say that the Bushist credo lacks all nuance.
There is in fact a very important refinement to their wormy greed:
Loot should always be obtained without the slightest risk to your
own financial position. The "free market" must be shunned at all
costs -- and manipulated by string-pulling, deceit and intimidation
when competition is unavoidable. Thus the Bush model is to cozy
up to governments -- preferably strongman regimes free to ladle
out public money to their favorites with no questions asked.
That's why Bush patriarch Prescott, pa
and grandpa to presidents, invested heavily in Nazi war industries
throughout the 1930s -- and kept on investing even after the German
war machine was grinding through Europe. That's why George
I made his mogul bones by pumping oil with repressive royals in
Kuwait. Later, when he had a government of his own to play with,
George sent U.S. troops to bail out his Kuwaiti partners after
another of his business clients, Saddam Hussein, got too frisky
in a border dispute. George I would end his career as a corporate
bagman, roaming the Earth in search of insider deals and choice
"privatizations" from Saudi princes, Asian dictators, African
tyrants, South American sleaze merchants and Europork peddlers.
George II's murky road to fortune was likewise paved with insider
trading, no-risk loans and mysterious infusions of foreign cash,
including a bailout from a firm embedded in the octopus of BCCI
-- the renegade banking cartel that the U.S. Senate called the
"largest criminal organization in world
history," which cloaked drug deals, gun-running, nuke trafficking
and "black ops" by the CIA and other intelligence services behind
a protective wall of bribes that reached into nearly every government
Of course, the best of all possible worlds is controlling the
government yourself -- and Dubya has certainly raised crony capitalism
to dizzy heights, tearing down whole countries just so his investor
pals (and his family) can reap the profits of "reconstruction."
But again, it is the maggoty hankering for
easy money that truly drives Bushist militarism, not any kind
of ideological or religious vision. For such crude minds,
the surest way to guarantee that floods of public boodle keep
pouring into your private pocket is to scare the hell out of people
and keep them scared with war and rumors of war.
The decidedly un-butch Bushes are not really bloodthirsty. They
don't sit in dark corners and cackle over the idea of children
being chewed to pieces by American bombs. Nor do their nostrils
flare with righteous rage at the thought of homosexuality or abortion
or nipples on national television. It's just that war profiteering,
corporate rapine and cynical pandering to the public's worst instincts
are the easiest way to get the unearned riches they crave -- and
the perks and power they feel are their birthright as an ancient
branch of the American aristocracy.
Perhaps if they could obtain these same privileges as easily
by other, less horrific means, they would. As it is, they take
the world as they find it, and go about their business without
fretting over the consequences -- the dead, the ruined, the spreading
hate, the poisoned planet. Why should they care? As the maggot
cannot see beyond the meat, so too these men of greed-stunted
understanding can see nothing of worth outside their own bottomless
| A GENERALLY unremarked note in the
US presidential and vice-presidential debates so far has been their
glacial semi-silence on the subject of what is going on in the Gaza
Strip, and on its implications for declared US foreign policy.
This silence very likely will continue in the lead-up to election
day on November 2. However, there are new and extremely important
questions on this subject that could be asked, and that now excite
intense controversy inside Israel itself.
The Gaza affair is another act – and possibly a culminating
one – in a great moral crisis for Israelis, and for Israel's
friends elsewhere. Most Israelis sense this.
The source of the crisis is the one identified by Israel's first
prime minister, David ben Gurion, in 1967, when he expressed his
fear of the consequences of Israel's annexation of new areas with
large Arab populations.
Should Israel annex those populations, enclose them, expel them?
Or, as in Gaza, has it a right – intentionally or otherwise
– to destroy civil society itself in retaliation for these
people's resistance to Israel's settlement and effective annexation
of what legally and historically are Palestinian lands?
The psychological as well as political conditions created in Gaza's
wretched refugee camps by the Israeli army's new intrusions, the
most violent in two years and announced as of indefinite duration,
are those of anarchy and what may be described as existential struggle:
the conviction that struggle affirms existence and survival.
The rhetorical accompaniment to the attacks suggests Israel intends
this time to finish with the resistance in Gaza. But, as an important
part of Israeli opinion itself understands, this is what Ariel Sharon's
Government cannot do. The ostensible aim of the intrusions is to
force Hamas and other Palestinian militants to stop their rocket
attacks on Israeli towns adjoining the Gaza Strip (and settlements
inside Gaza), or to make the Palestinian Authority or Palestinian
civil society stop the attacks. The effort is self-defeating.
An analysis by the Strategic Affairs Unit of the Israel-Palestine
Centre for Research and Information points out that the Israeli
aim obviously requires the existence of some kind of Palestinian
authority capable of taking and enforcing decisions.
Yet the Israeli attack itself is a continuation of the campaign
by the Sharon Government to make sure that no Palestinian centre
of decision survives.
Many in Israel think the attacks are really meant as a penultimate
display of Israeli military power before the announced evacuation
of Israel's Gaza colonies next year. Sharon cannot tolerate any
interpretation that the evacuations are a victory for the Palestinians,
and particularly for Hamas.
Such is what happened in 2000, when Israel finally evacuated its
security zone in Lebanon under Hamas military pressure. The zone
was the sad and useless remnant of Sharon's disastrous invasion
of Lebanon in 1982.
A new and crucial interpretation and elaboration of the significance
of what is going on has now been provided by Sharon's political
adviser Dov Weisglass, who has been the Israeli Prime Minister's
main contact with the Bush administration and with the congressional
leadership in Washington.
Last week he told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the Gaza withdrawal
was meant to put an end to the US-backed road map that was supposed
to provide an overall peace settlement, including an independent
Palestine – and that the Bush administration had secretly
The road map for negotiations leading to peace and a free Palestine
was drafted by the US, the United Nations, the European Union and
Russia, all of whom promised to support it.
Weisglass said a deal had now been made with the US Government
that, in exchange for the Gaza withdrawal, the US would abandon
its promise of a Palestinian state, "with all that entails".
He added: "All this with a presidential blessing (from Bush)
and ratification by both houses of Congress."
He subsequently and unconvincingly denied saying this. But it has
been apparent from the start of the road map plan that, for the
Sharon and Bush governments, it was merely a gesture to appease
international opinion. (It was originally devised to provide domestic
political cover for Tony Blair's decision to join the invasion of
Sharon and his colleagues are acting out something the radical
and brilliant American Jewish journalist I.F. Stone wrote many years
He said Zionism had from the start involved the physical displacement
of the Palestinians from what became Israel, but achieving that
would require a psychological act of denial of the existence of
the Palestinians. "Jewish life", he said, "went on
as if the Arabs weren't there". "In a profound sense,
the yishuv, the Jewish community, had to pretend the Arabs weren't
there, or confront ethical problems too painful to be faced."
Sharon's entire life has been devoted to Israel's expansion, and
to the physical realisation of the forbidden and denied Zionist
wish, that the Arabs are not there.
In some countries, reality television
offers contestants fame and fortune. In Israel, the winner gets
the equivalent of a job with the civil service.
The latest reality programme to catch the country's imagination
is The Ambassador, in which 14 contestants compete at defending
Israel's reputation abroad.
The winner will receive a year's contract at an agency set up in
New York to promote the country in the United States.
The show's popularity and the prize it offers reflect, say academics,
domestic confusion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how
it is perceived around the world.
The 14 contestants must carry out a variety of diplomatic tasks
in Washington, New York, France, Britain and Israel. The judges
are a former spokesman for the Israeli army, a former head of the
Shin Bet internal security agency and a television political correspondent.
The winner will be the person who best demonstrates the qualities
of a professional advocate and presents Israel in the most positive
The format is based on The Apprentice, the show in which the tycoon
Donald Trump sets aspiring job applicants tasks and then tells one
at the end: "You're fired."
The first edition of The Ambassador featured a debate between the
seven male and seven female contestants at the Cambridge University
Appearing for the men, Tzvika Deutsch asked the audience how they
would feel if a football game in Manchester was cancelled because
the stadium was threatened with rocket fire from militants. "For
the people of Manchester this would be a very bad joke. But for
people in the Israeli city of Sderot this is the reality."
Ravit Shemtov, for the women, said Israel had offered the Palestinians
many peace solutions but they had all been rejected. "Unfortunately,
the Palestinian Authority has declined every opportunity the Israeli
government offered them."
Under hostile questioning, one contestant, Ofra Bin Nun, was prompted
into saying: "Israel has not taken anything from anyone."
The audience groaned in response.
The judges ruled that Ms Bin Nun had made a major error and she
became the first contestant to be expelled.
Candidates must strive to spin Israel's story most effectively
and need not pay much attention to reality or the Palestinian point
Nachman Shai, a judge on the programme and a former spokesman for
the Israeli army, described advocacy as an ongoing war for the past
and for the future.
Yoram Peri, a professor of politics and media at Tel Aviv University,
said the series went to the heart of Israeli society and its emphasis
on how it is perceived rather than what it does.
"The major concern in Israeli society is that we do not explain
ourselves well. When we discuss the horrible things that happen
in the West Bank, we don't talk about the issue but about how it
will be seen.
"It's a fundamental issue in Israeli life. It explains the
popularity of someone like Benjamin Netanyahu [finance minister
and former prime minister]. It's not because he is a good ambassador,
it's because he is good at PR."
Prof Peri added: "The programme reflects a major problem in
Israeli society. We do not think we do anything wrong but we think
we explain ourselves badly and that the international media is anti-semitic."
The Ambassadors highlighted Israel's real problem, the professor
said, which was not one of advocacy but facing up to the true nature
of its problems. "We are fighting two wars. One is a war against
terrorism, which is legitimate, and the other is a war against Palestinian
liberation, which is not," he said.
"Most Israelis cannot make the distinction and President Bush
has added to that confusion by seeing only terrorism."
BOSTON - Somerville, a community abutting
both Boston and Cambridge, could become the first US city to divest
from Israel. According to those who track the issue, the city
has already distinguished itself as the first place to formally
consider a divestment resolution.
The measure stems from alleged Israeli human
rights abuses and calls on Somerville's retirement board to rid
the city's pension fund of $250,000 of Israel Bonds and other
investments in American companies that "manufacture military equipment
used in Israel's illegal military occupation," such as Caterpillar
The city of 80,000 can be described as both blue-collar and
The proposal came close to passing without debate when it was
introduced on October 28, but the Board of Aldermen, Somerville's
11-member legislative body, decided to host a public hearing on
November 8 to let the other side have its say. They will consider
whether or not to modify the measure and hold a final vote at
a legislative committee meeting on December 7. The
resolution is non-binding, since the retirement board is independent
of the board of aldermen.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater
Boston (JCRC) is optimistic that the flood of e-mails, phone calls
and public testimony its constituency has unleashed in the past
month will stymie the measure.
The resolution was drafted by the grassroots Somerville Divestment
Project, which presented a petition with 1,200 signatures and
lobbied aldermen to back the proposal. Eight
signed on as sponsors, but several of them have since backtracked,
and some have suggested the December 7 meeting will result in
a watered-down general resolution on the Middle East peace process
or in the measure being buried in committee.
"It was a mistake to get involved in the first place," Alderman
Bruce Desmond, a cosponsor of the resolution who has since decided
to vote against it, told The Jerusalem Post. "My intentions were
just to make a statement about human rights, and unfortunately
I hadn't taken into consideration what kind of division it would
cause in the city, and the arguments in the rest of the community
that were quite strong."
He added, "A local community has neither the expertise or the
background to be making decisions concerning this [issue]."
"A lot of the board has become enlightened by the discussion
in the community," said Alderman Tom Taylor after the hearing
in which scores of divestment foes showed up. "I didn't expect
such a strong reaction at all."
"I guess I thought it was a simple comment [against] violating
human rights," explained Taylor, who hasn't decided how he will
vote, despite sponsoring the resolution. "I guess as I read it
further, [it seemed] that it's targeting one country and that's
To the Somerville Divestment Project, however,
it's the city that has unfairly singled out one country. According
to Annique Caplan, a member of the project's board of directors,
Israel is the only country in which the
retirement board holds bonds. If Burma or even an independent
Palestine were similarly invested in, Caplan maintained, her group
would call for divestment there, too.
In any case, Mayor Joe Curtatone, who spoke
against the resolution at the contentious November 8 hearing,
promised to veto the measure.
"It's much more complex than any resolution can address," he
said of the Middle East conflict. "Passing this resolution would
just add more confusion and complexity."
While Caplan said her organization is still "hopeful" that its
motion will prevail, she added, "We're realistic that when anyone,
no matter how courageous, is confronted with a certain level of
feeling intimidated and doesn't know what the ramifications
political ramifications of taking a position might be, it remains
hard to take a position."
She also charged that, "The retribution
is so intense for anyone who takes a position that is supportive
of the protection of Palestinians. The retribution is swift and
Aldermen such as Taylor vociferously
challenged the claim that they had been intimidated by anti-divestment
forces, asserting, "It hasn't intimidated me. It's just
caused me to look at it a little closer."
JCRC deputy director Alan Ronkin termed
the charge "libelous" and said that there aren't enough Jews in
the city to politically threaten the elected officials.
Yet he welcomed the strong turnout and vocal opposition mustered
against the divestment proposal.
"This is the broadest-based coalition of Jewish organizations
I've seen on any issue," according to JCRC executive director
Nancy Kaufman, who pointed to condemnation of the proposal from
organized labor, leftist groups such as Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and
blocs of Russian immigrants. But this positive result didn't prevent
her from feeling shaken by the experience.
"This is a wake-up call," she said, noting that her organization
was "surprised" by the Somerville initiative. Until now, divestment
campaigns have mostly occurred on college campuses and among church
groups, such as the Presbyterians.
"We need to come together to work out a strategy that is preventive,
not reactive," Kaufman said. "This isn't
the first [divestment campaign] and it's not going to be the last."
Though the Somerville Divestment Project might be the most far
along in pushing municipalities to divest, it's not the only such
attempt. The Palestine Solidarity Committee
has for years been prodding Seattle to divest from American companies
selling military equipment that Israel uses in the West Bank and
So far, their efforts haven't been met
with much success, as the City Council hasn't even been willing
to meet with them. But PSC volunteer Edward Mast said the
group is carefully following the "inspiring" project in Somerville.
Those efforts have already achieved a lot of the purpose.
"Whether they pass it or not, they've gotten huge local attention
[on] this issue and national attention," Mast said. "That's already
a success for their campaign."
"They've won in some senses," the JCRC's Ronkin acknowledged.
"Their goal is to delegitimize Israel
[and] they've put Israel on the defensive."
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 - The State Department
will soon begin issuing passports that carry information about
the traveler in a computer chip embedded in the cardboard cover
as well as on its printed pages.
Privacy advocates say the new format
- developed in response to security concerns after the Sept. 11
attacks - will be vulnerable to electronic snooping by anyone
within several feet, a practice called skimming. Internal
State Department documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties
Union under the Freedom of Information Act, show that Canada,
Germany and Britain have raised the same concern.
"This is like putting an invisible bull's-eye on Americans that
can be seen only by the terrorists," said Barry Steinhardt, the
director of the A.C.L.U. Technology and Liberty Program. "If there's
any nation in the world at the moment that could do without such
a device, it is the United States."
The organization wants the State Department to take security
precautions like encrypting the data, so that even if it is downloaded
by unauthorized people, it cannot be understood.
In a telephone interview, Frank E. Moss, deputy assistant secretary
of state for passport services, said the skimming problem "can
be dealt with."
"We are certainly still working hard on the question of whether
additional security measures should be taken," he said.
The technology is familiar to the public in applications like
highway toll-collection systems and "smart cards" for entering
buildings or subway turnstiles. In passports, the technology would
be more sophisticated, with a computer having the ability to query
the chip selectively for particular information. The chip, expected
to cost about $8, would hold 64 kilobytes of data, the same as
early personal computers.
Last month the Government Printing Office awarded $373,000 in
contracts to four manufacturers to design the passports, which
would contain chips that stored all the printed data on the passport,
as well as digitized data on the traveler's face.
At an airport immigration checkpoint, an antenna
could read a passport waved a few inches away. A digital camera
could look at the traveler's face and compare it with the data
from the passport chip.
The problem, though, is that the passport might be read by others,
too. According to one document obtained by the A.C.L.U., a State
Department memo from September detailing negotiations on the subject,
the American position is that the data "should be able to be read
by anyone who chooses to invest in the infrastructure to do so."
Mr. Steinhardt of the A.C.L.U. described a
test in which a chip was read from 30 feet away, but Mr. Moss
of the State Department said that was in a laboratory and would
be hard to duplicate in the field.
Government officials from the United States, Canada and western
European countries, and chip manufacturing experts, have been
discussing standards for chips in passports for more than two
years under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization,
which is affiliated with the United Nations and promulgates a
variety of standards for aviation. Mr. Steinhardt complained that
the organization had ignored the civil liberties group's request
to participate in sessions when standards were discussed.
The State Department, which issues about seven million passports
a year, hopes to begin issuing a limited number with chips early
next year, initially to government employees.
To combat passport fraud and theft, the government
will soon require all visitors who do not need visas to enter
the United States - those who are deemed low security risks because
of the countries they come from - to carry passports that are
machine-readable and contain "biometric" information like fingerprints
or facial measurements.
Australia is already issuing passports with chips, and others
will follow soon, Mr. Moss said. And since passport requirements
are usually reciprocal, the United States anticipates that those
countries will demand similar features on American passports.
Neville G. Pattinson, the director of business development,
technology and government affairs at Axalto, one of the vendors,
said the problem with encryption was that
the chip had to be readable by governments all over the world.
But, he said, "there is a considerable concern over skimming."
The chips raise the possibility of someone
"brushing against you with the equipment, in a briefcase or another
disguise, and hoping they can read it out of your pocket or purse,"
Mr. Pattinson said. Another possibility is someone embedding a
reader in a doorway, he said.
But he said low-cost fixes were available. One would incorporate
a layer of metal foil into the cover of the passport so it could
be read only when opened.
Another would put a password into the printed information in
the passport. A reader would optically scan for the password,
which would be visible only when the passport was open, and then
use it to obtain data from the chip.
Another possibility would be to keep the passport
in a foil pouch, like those issued with highway toll-collection
devices so they can be carried through a toll booth without being
read. In multilateral discussions, though, some experts said they
feared that terrorists would use the pouches to smuggle weapons.
The A.C.L.U. is seeking to portray the new passports as part
of a continuing loss of privacy.
In March, the A.C.L.U. and 12 other organizations from North
America, Europe and Asia signed a letter to the aviation organization
saying they were "increasingly concerned
that the biometric travel document initiative is part and parcel
of a larger surveillance infrastructure monitoring the movement
of individuals globally."
BEIJING - A man armed with a knife killed
eight boys and wounded four others at a high school dormitory
in the city of Ruzhou, in central China, reported China's Xinhua
news agency Friday.
State media report that a mother reported her 21-year-old son,
Yan Yanming, to police after he tried to commit suicide following
The attack at the No. 2 High School took place around 11:45 p.m.
"The man broke into the high school with a knife in his hand...and
chopped eight people to death and four others to injury," said
the Xinhua report.
There's no word on the attacker's motive, though the China News
Service says him might have been a former student who may have
been expelled. [...]
NEW YORK (AP) - A man jumped to his death
Friday from the 86th-floor observation deck of the Empire State
Building, one of New York's busiest tourist destinations, police
The apparent suicide forced police to briefly close the landmark
on Fifth Avenue to tourists in the city for the U.S. Thanksgiving
The man apparently climbed over a security fence that encloses
the observation deck before leaping off. He hit a landing on the
sixth floor, where he died instantly, police said.
No identification was found on his body.
HAMILTON - Up to 100 students from a downtown
public school are sick in an outbreak of the Norwalk virus.
Hamilton's public health department has ordered Adelaide Hoodless
public school to disinfect its 28 classrooms with anti-bacterial
cleaners after up to 100 children and five teachers called in
There were 66 absences Wednesday and officials are trying to
control the spread of the virulent illness. [...]
Dublin The Guinness may be good for you
in Dublin, but the river can make you really sick.
So warns the director of public health for the Irish capital,
Dr. Marie Laffoy, who reported that three canoeists plying the
River Liffey this week were hospitalized after catching a bacterial
infection called leptospirosis. All recovered.
In Ireland it is usually picked up from rats, although a milder
form can be caught from cattle or dogs. The infection is spread
through contact with rat, cattle or dog urine or cattle manure,
said Dr. Laffoy.
The infection which initially causes headaches, rashes, fever,
muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting, and if unchecked can lead
to jaundice, meningitis and kidney failure rarely proves fatal.
Those considered most likely to catch it are farmers, vets,
sewage workers and enthusiasts of water sports.
We are advising people to avoid swimming or boating in water
which is obviously polluted, as well as ensuring they cover any
cuts or abrasions with a waterproof dressing while swimming or
canoeing, Dr. Laffoy said. [...]
Jakarta A strong earthquake rocked Indonesia's
West Papua province Friday, killing at least 13 people and causing
dozens of buildings and homes to collapse, officials said.
The magnitude-6.4 quake struck at 11:25 a.m. about 30 kilometres
from the Papuan town of Nabire, 3,200 kilometers northeast of
the capital Jakarta, seismologist Edison Gurning said.
At least 13 people were killed and 65 injured, said Major Wempi
Batlairi, Nabire's deputy police chief.
The quake destroyed 170 homes and shops, three bridges, a church
and a government telecommunications building, he said. Authorities
closed the local airport after a crack was found in the runway.
Tents were being erected to house the homeless.
People are still scared, Major Batlairi said. We are still
getting aftershocks from the quake. All of the townspeople are
outside because they fear that more buildings will collapse.
A fairly strong earthquake jolted
Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido Saturday morning, the
Meteorological Agency said.
There was no immediate report of casualties or damage to properties,
Hokkaido Prefectural Police said. Nor did the agency issue a tsunami
warning following the quake.
The temblor that struck at 7:42 a.m. registered 4 on the 7-point
Japanese intensity scale in Urakawa, Sarabetsu and Churui and 3
in Niikappu, Shizunai, Erimo, Shikaoi, Toyokoro and Hiroo.
The focus of the earthquake, which is estimated to have registered
5.6 on the open-ended Richter scale, was located about 60 kilometers
below the ground in the southern Tokachi district.
KINGSTON -- A tornado was reported in Lomontville
and more than 3,000 lost power as a strong, fast-moving cold front
swept through the region Thursday morning.
About 3,500 Central Hudson customers lost power between 10 a.m.
and 11 a.m. as strong winds felled trees onto powerlines, said
Central Hudson spokesman Paul Tesoro. About 1,500 were still without
service Thursday evening but full restoration was expected by
daybreak Friday, he said.
Hardest hit were the City of Kingston, Marbletown, Wawarsing
and Rochester, where a combined 1,455 customers lost power. [...]
Glenwood Springs, CO, -- A huge rock slide
Thursday in western Colorado Thursday forced the closure of a
stretch of Interstate 70, forcing motorists to detour more than
200 miles. The slide occurred about nine miles east of Glenwood
Springs in Glenwood Canyon, CNN reported. Glenwood Springs is
halfway between Vail and Grand Junction.
The Colorado transportation department closed east- and westbound
lanes for a 17-mile stretch and said it could be a week before
the road reopens.
Workers trying to clear the highway were using dynamite on large
boulders and jackhammers on others.
"It's very severe," said department spokeswoman Nancy Shanks.
"There's some big rocks that have come down."
Between 30 and 40 large rocks tumbled onto the road, including
boulders up to 8 feet by 10 feet, the department said.
"It is estimated that about a half-dozen boulders are embedded
between 6 and 8 feet into the roadway," Shanks said.
The highway closure comes during Thanksgiving, which is one
of the busiest travel periods of the year
(New Zealand) - A few hundred metres
off the coast of Northland stand tiny islets that may tell the
story of the biggest catastrophe in the history of life on Earth.
Arrow Rocks, just off Tauranga Bay about 40km north of the Bay
of Islands, are so small that you can clamber round the main rock
in about 10 minutes.
The other rock is even smaller, but more treacherous, rising
from the waves like a sharp arrow head - or, as the Maori saw
it, a bird's beak. They named the islet Oruatemanu, "two birds"
or perhaps "the bird's home".
You can see at once why these rocks have drawn geologists from
several Japanese universities this week for their eighth field
trip in as many years. In the eroded cliff faces and caves, layer
upon layer of multicoloured rocks have been twisted into rollercoaster
patterns by years of folding and deformation.
These are not just any old rocks. This is one
of a handful of places on the globe where you can see rocks that
were laid down just before, during and immediately after something
awful that happened 251 million years ago.
Almost instantaneously, geologically speaking,
90 per cent of the living species that existed at that time were
wiped out - a far worse disaster even than the meteorite that
hit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago and destroyed
about half the species of that time, including the dinosaurs.
At the end of what geologists call the Permian era, named after
the Russian city of Perm where 250 million-year-old rocks were
first found, the dinosaurs had not yet evolved.
Only about 120 million years before, the first amphibians had
ventured out of the protection of the sea on to a raw land.
By Permian times a whole zoo of land animals had evolved - creatures
called synapsids, or mammal-like reptiles including huge plant-eaters
the size of rhinos, and sabre-toothed meat-eaters that jumped
on the backs of the plant-eaters and ripped their skins with their
The land was covered in mosses and ferns, with a few early trees
around the margins of lakes and rivers. Spiders, beetles and a
wide variety of insects had evolved in the undergrowth. The sea
teemed with tiny plankton, snails, seafloor plants and fish.
Then suddenly, 251 million years ago, the fossil
record preserved at places such as Arrow Rocks shows that most
of these life forms disappeared. Plants died and were replaced
by fungus. Of 74 species of amphibians and reptiles, only two
Auckland University geologist Bernhard Sporli, who is working
with the Japanese on Arrow Rocks, says it was a terrible time.
"You had general wildfires, dust that went into the atmosphere.
The effects were not measured in months but in years. It could
have been dark for a whole year."
With no sunlight, photosynthesis stopped and plants died. Eventually
the animals that fed on them followed.
But the causes are a mystery.
"We just don't know," says Dr Chris Hollis of the Institute
of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, who was at Tauranga Bay this
"One thing is clear, however. The biggest mass extinction of
all time did happen 251 million years ago, and even if we cannot
yet fully explain why, it is important to look at the consequences
of cutting life down to 10 per cent or less of its normal diversity.
There are lessons to be learnt."
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