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Picture of the Day

Val Louron
© 2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte


Nov 28 2004
By Paul Gilfeather Political Editor

US uses banned weapon

US troops are secretly using outlawed napalm gas to wipe out remaining insurgents in and around Fallujah.

News that President George W. Bush has sanctioned the use of napalm, a deadly cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel banned by the United Nations in 1980, will stun governments around the world.

And last night Tony Blair was dragged into the row as furious Labour MPs demanded he face the Commons over it. Reports claim that innocent civilians have died in napalm attacks, which turn victims into human fireballs as the gel bonds flames to flesh.

Outraged critics have also demanded that Mr Blair threatens to withdraw British troops from Iraq unless the US abandons one of the world's most reviled weapons. Halifax Labour MP Alice Mahon said: "I am calling on Mr Blair to make an emergency statement to the Commons to explain why this is happening. It begs the question: 'Did we know about this hideous weapon's use in Iraq?'"

Since the American assault on Fallujah there have been reports of "melted" corpses, which appeared to have napalm injuries.

Last August the US was forced to admit using the gas in Iraq.

A 1980 UN convention banned the use of napalm against civilians - after pictures of a naked girl victim fleeing in Vietnam shocked the world.

America, which didn't ratify the treaty, is the only country in the world still using the weapon.

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Fallujah : America's Guernica

by Hector Carreon

Los Angeles, Alta California, November 10, 2004 - (ACN - La Voz de Aztlan).

On April 26, 1937, the Nazi Luftwaffe dropped 100,000 pounds of bombs on the peaceful Basque village of Guernica, Spain on the urging of the Fascist Generalisimo Francisco Franco. At the end of the day, Guernica was in total ruins and 1,654 Basque civilians had been slaughtered and 889 wounded. The world in those days was horrified by the deed. Generalisimo Franco initially denied to the press that the raid ever took place. Later, when photographs of the massacre were published, the Fascist Franco blamed the destruction of Guernica and the killings on those who defended it.

The brutal attack on the Basque civilians by massive and indiscriminate bombardment was immortalized by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso in his 1937 painting titled "Guernica". The painting "Guernica" has now become a worldwide symbol of the horrors of war waged by evil fascists and dictators who place no value on human life in their pursuits of political goals and conquest of natural resources. Thomas Gordon and Max Morgan in their book, "Guernica: The Crucible of World War II" quotes a survivor, "The air was alive with the cries of the wounded. I saw a man crawling down the street, dragging his broken legs.... Pieces of people and animals were lying everywhere.... In the wreckage there was a young woman. I could not take my eyes off her. Bones stuck through her dress. Her head twisted right around her neck. She lay, mouth open, her tongue hanging out. I vomited and lost consciousness”.

"Guernica" is back. This time it is not about the Nazi Luftwaffe dropping bombs on a village in Spain but about the USA dropping bombs and massacring hundreds of civilians that include women and children in the town of Fallujah, Iraq. As Franco in "Guernica", the USA military is denying that it is targeting civilians, but censored reports are filtering out of Iraq that say that over half of the Mosques in the city lie in ruins and that US Marines are utilizing outlawed lethal gasses against the city's defenders which are also causing massive casualties among the civilians that remain in the city. Other reports in the Arab media talk about hundreds of civilian casualties under the rubble of homes that were hit by USA bombs during the initial military "softening" of the city. Gruesome photographs of the dead are reminiscent of the survivor's account of "Guernica" as quoted above.

It is ironic that in February 5th of 2003, when Secretary of State Colin Powell was making a call for war against Iraq before the United Nations Security Council in New York City, that the copy of Picasso's "Guernica" on the second floor of the UN building was "covered" with a large drape. Just 24 hours after Powell failed to convinced the doubtful U.N. Security Council members, President George W. Bush declared "The game is over" and launched the brutal Zionist inspired "Shock and Awe" attack against Iraq. The number of Iraqi civilians that have been blown to pieces by USA bombs and missiles since then are still being counted.

Fallujah today is America's Guernica and the USA media is covering up the criminal murderous military operation under way. In addition there is absolutely no outcry from the USA political establishment. This points to a deep spiritual and moral malaise among Americans and decay in the leadership of the USA.

The media is not raising any objections to the war crimes in Fallujah but instead make the savage military operations as if they were normal. The media reports conceal from Americans the true character of the vicious military assault which is to destroy a significant source of opposition to the USA colonialist occupation and its puppet regime.

Like Generalisimo Franco in Guernica, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is lying to the American public about the number of Iraqi civilian casualties in Fallujah. There are about 30,000 civilians left in Fallujah and many of these have already been killed. The rest are "fair" targets in the house to house US Marine assaults. It will take months if not years to determine the extent of the civilian massacre.

Fallujah is America's Guernica! Who would have foreseen that the country that liberated Europe from those responsible for Guernica would today take their place? Bloodthirstiness now pervades the USA media, the political establishment and large portions of the American people.

One shudders to think were all this will lead. Armageddon perhaps?

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A Close Look at Fallujah Insurgents' Lab
Sarah Whalen, sawhalen@xula.com.edu
Tuesday, 30, November, 2004

It looks like a shelf in an elderly lady's bathroom, scattered with half-full and almost empty bottles so old the faded labels are peeling off. But Qassem Daoud, Iraq's national security adviser and Prime Minister Allawi's confidant, calls it a "chemical laboratory" where Fallujan insurgents supposedly made "deadly explosives and poisons," including anthrax.

Noninsurgents probably have more chemical containers underneath the kitchen sink at home.

But Fallujah's where Al-Zarqawi, Jordan's notorious kidnapper, assassin, and reputed master poisoner, reportedly gave US Marines the slip. And so when Daoud claims Zarqawi left souvenirs behind, the world pays attention.

But not everyone is impressed.

Former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix urged restraint: "Let's see what the chemicals are....Many of these stories evaporate when they are looked at more closely." Blix added that "the chances" soldiers had actually "found something" significant "are...relatively small. I would be surprised if it was something real."

Something real. That's the ticket, always has been. Those elusive weapons of mass destruction.

And Daoud's perceptions aren't always the best. In an invasion interview, Daoud (then in Kuwait) assured CNN that US "military force(s) are (being) received with flowers and with very warm feeling toward them."

But actually, Daoud is uniquely qualified to assure the authenticity of the insurgents' "chemical laboratory" or, alternatively, create a hoax. Daoud is a scientist with a microbiology doctorate. In office and in Allawi's affections, he replaces another scientist-politician, Dr. Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, a neurologist. But Al-Rubaie inopportunely tested Allawi's patience by promoting reconciliation with radical cleric Moqtada Sadr when Allawi preferred a more radical solution.

Daoud's proved infinitely more flexible. Originally opposing elections in January, 2005, Daoud seems to now have no serious objections. Initially willing to release Saddam Hussein's female science advisors "Dr. Germ" (Dr. Rihab Rashed Taha) and "Mrs. Anthrax" (Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash) so "that British guy," as Daoud called hostage Kenneth Bigley, could be saved, he bowed respectfully when Western officials resisted. And Daoud is reportedly a decorous neocon "Iraqi friend with ties to Mr. Franklin," meaning Larry Franklin of the US Defense Department who's under investigation for leaking secret documents to AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

One wonders why Daoud rushes to conclude the musty shelf scattered with aged containers is a covert laboratory. Surely Daoud knows that much, much more is required even for a primitive weapons operation. If insurgents planned to make anthrax, as Daoud implies, they needed more kit.

Where are the incubators? Anthrax and most biological agents need a warm, stable place to grow at a very specific temperature. Refrigerators, dry ice, and vacuum pumps are also needed. Where's the fermentor, necessary for the growth of large quantities of bacteria and pathogens? Where's the sterilizing autoclave? Where's the centrifuge spinning anthrax spores, concentrating them for weaponization?

And such equipment requires copious, steady amounts of electricity. Sporadic surges would make short work of insurgents' scientific efforts, unless they had generators. But generators require fuel, which in Iraq is in notoriously unreliable supply.

Serious insurgents would need yeast extract, tryptone, sporulation medium, glucose, and salts — all of which make biological nasties grow. Insurgents would also need glass flasks, tubes, and Petri dishes to handle nasties safely. A pH meter would be needed for measuring acidity, although this could run off a battery. But where is it?

And to make sure the insurgents live long enough to make their toxic cocktails, decent ventilation is essential. And then an assortment of extra rubber gloves, masks, and protective clothing.

Finally, for anthrax, insurgents would need a drying apparatus, ideally less windy than a hair dryer, and a grinding apparatus — silicate placed in a tumbler of anthrax spores and mechanically churned. Could one do it by hand? Conceivably, answered a Washington, D.C. National Institutes of Health scientist, but it would take days of constant shaking to humanly replace the machine.

What might those dusty jars tell us?

Each bottle of chemical or agent will have a label lot number indicating where and when it was made, and from what larger batch it derives. The manufacturer could conceivably determine where smaller batches were shipped or repackaged, and to whom they were sold. A National Science Foundation-funded scientist examining Daoud's lab picture declared: "The chemicals look like they've been taken from a university laboratory. The lone glove appears to be planted. The most recognizable bottle is fourth from the left with the light blue top. This is a Fluka chemical bottle in an old style." Daoud's Fluka bottle is square-shaped, whereas contemporary Fluka bottles are noticeably rounded.

Ironically, the country nearest Iraq that's done the most anthrax weaponizing research is Israel. Look at Daoud's shelf, look at what's not there, then look at the clock and check the time.

Time to examine Daoud's "friendly ties to Mr. Franklin." Time to look at something real.

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Is the Annexation of Canada part of Bush's Military Agenda?
by Michel Chossudovsky
23 November 2004

Territorial control over Canada is part of Washington's geopolitical and military agenda as formulated in April 2002 by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  "Binational integration" of military command structures is also contemplated alongside a major revamping in the areas of immigration, law enforcement and intelligence.

At this critical juncture in our history and in anticipation of the visit of George W. Bush to Canada on November 30th, an understanding of these issues is central to the articulation of a coherent anti-war and civil rights movement.

The purpose of this detailed report is to encourage discussion and debate in Canada and Quebec, as well as in the US.  Kindly circulate this article widely. The Summary can be forwarded by email with a hyperlink to the complete text.


For nearly two years now, Ottawa has been quietly negotiating a far-reaching military cooperation agreement, which allows the US Military to cross the border and deploy troops anywhere in Canada, in our provinces, as well station American warships in Canadian territorial waters. This redesign of Canada's defense system is being discussed behind closed doors, not in Canada, but at the Peterson Air Force base in Colorado, at the headquarters of US Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

The creation of NORTHCOM announced in April 2002, constitutes a blatant violation of both Canadian and Mexican territorial sovereignty. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced unilaterally that US Northern Command would have jurisdiction over the entire North American region. Canada and Mexico were presented with a fait accompli. US Northern Command's jurisdiction as outlined by the US DoD includes, in addition to the continental US, all of Canada, Mexico, as well as portions of the Caribbean, contiguous waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans up to 500 miles off the Mexican, US and Canadian coastlines as well as the Canadian Arctic.

NorthCom's stated mandate is to "provide a necessary focus for [continental] aerospace, land and sea defenses, and critical support for [the] nation's civil authorities in times of national need."
(Canada-US Relations - Defense Partnership - July 2003, Canadian American Strategic Review (CASR))

Rumsfeld is said to have boasted that "the NORTHCOM... with all of North America as its geographic command... 'is part of the greatest transformation of the Unified Command Plan [UCP] since its inception in 1947.'" (Ibid)

Following Prime Minister Jean Chretien's refusal to join NORTHCOM, a high-level so-called "consultative" Binational Planning Group (BPG), operating out of the Peterson Air Force base, was set up in late 2002, with a mandate to "prepare contingency plans to respond to [land and sea] threats and attacks, and other major emergencies in Canada or the United States".

The BPG's mandate goes far beyond the jurisdiction of a consultative military body making "recommendations" to government. In practice, it is neither accountable to the US Congress nor to the Canadian House of Commons.

The BPG has a staff of fifty US and Canadian "military planners", who have been working diligently for the last two years in laying the groundwork for the integration of Canada-US military command structures. The BPG works in close coordination with the Canada-U.S. Military Cooperation Committee at the Pentagon, a so-called " panel responsible for detailed joint military planning".

Broadly speaking, its activities consist of two main building blocks: the Combined Defense Plan (CDP) and The Civil Assistance Plan (CAP).

The Militarisation of Civilian Institutions

As part of its Civil Assistance Plan (CAP), the BPG is involved in supporting the ongoing militarisation of civilian law enforcement and judicial functions in both the US and Canada. The BPG has established "military contingency plans" which would be activated "on both sides of the Canada-US border" in the case of a terror attack or "threat". Under the BPG's Civil Assistance Plan (CAP), these so-called "threat scenarios" would involve:

"coordinated response to national requests for military assistance [from civil authorities] in the event of a threat, attack, or civil emergency in the US or Canada."In December 2001, in response to the 9/11 attacks, the Canadian government reached an agreement with the Head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, entitled the "Canada-US Smart Border Declaration." Shrouded in secrecy, this agreement essentially hands over to the Homeland Security Department, confidential information on Canadian citizens and residents. It also provides US authorities with access to the tax records of Canadians.

What these developments suggest is that the process of "binational integration" is not only occurring in the military command structures but also in the areas of immigration, police and intelligence. The question is what will be left over within Canada's jurisdiction as a sovereign nation, once this ongoing process of binational integration, including the sharing and/or merger of data banks, is completed?

Canada and NORTHCOM

Canada is slated to become a member of NORTHCOM at the end of the BPG's two years mandate.

No doubt, the issue will be presented in Parliament as being "in the national interest". It "will create jobs for Canadians" and "will make Canada more secure".

Meanwhile, the important debate on Canada's participation in the US Ballistic Missile Shield, when viewed out of the broader context,  may serve to divert public attention away from the more fundamental issue of North American military integration which implies Canada's acceptance not only of the Ballistic Missile Shield, but of the entire US war agenda, including significant hikes in defense spending which will be allocated to a North American defense program controlled by the Pentagon.

And ultimately what is at stake is that beneath the rhetoric, Canada will cease to function as a Nation:

• Its borders will be controlled by US officials and confidential information on Canadians will be shared with Homeland Security.

• US troops and Special Forces will be able to enter Canada as a result of a binational arrangement.

• Canadian citizens can be arrested by US officials, acting on behalf of their Canadian counterparts and vice versa.

But there is something perhaps even more fundamental in defining and understanding where Canada and Canadians stand as a Nation.

The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. It has formulated the contours of an imperial project of World domination. Canada is contiguous to "the center of the empire". Territorial control over Canada is part of the US geopolitical and military agenda.

The Liberals as well as the opposition Conservative party have endorsed embraced the US war agenda. By endorsing a Canada-US "integration" in the spheres of defense, homeland security, police and intelligence, Canada not only becomes a full fledged member of George W. Bush's "Coalition of the Willing", it will directly participate, through integrated military command structures, in the US war agenda in Central Asia and the Middle East, including the massacre of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the torture of POWs, the establishment of concentration camps, etc.

Under an integrated North American Command, a North American national security doctrine would be formulated. Canada would be obliged to embrace Washington's pre-emptive military doctrine, including the use of nuclear warheads as a means of self defense, which was ratified by the US Senate in December 2003. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The US Nuclear Option and the "War on Terrorism" http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO405A.html May 2004)

Moreover, binational integration in the areas of Homeland security, immigration, policing of the US-Canada border, not to mention the anti-terrorist legislation, would imply pari passu acceptance of the US sponsored police State, its racist policies, its "ethnic profiling" directed against Muslims, the arbitrary arrest of anti-war activists.

Comment: From the Global Research website:

As a Canadian, I can think of nothing I would like less than to be annexed by the United States. If that ever happened I would leave my country and move to Europe. Most Canadians really hate George Bush. Not dislike; hate. During your presidental election, surveys here said that at least 80% of Canadians would have voted for John Kerry. We find Bush ignorant, isolationist, oblivious, dangerous, and fanatical. Everything he has done since invading Iraq he has done alone. He doesn't really have a coalition; he has England and some smaller, less significant countries backing him. The rest of the world sees the United States in decline because of George Bush; re-electing him was the worst possible thing Americans could have done if they wanted to regain stature or respect on the world stage. At this point Bush is making America look like a staggering arrogant bully.

This is not to say that Canadians hate Americans, per se. It's really Bush and his "advisors," equally dangerous men with their own agendas. Personally, I feel sorry for the American people because Bush and Company have systematically frightened them into believing attacks from a variety of sources are perpetually imminent. His tactics of using terror alerts and colour coded warnings have made Americans feel there is no safe place and the American media have been willing helpers in Bush's goal of paralyzing Americans with fear. I seriously suggest that Americans look at other news sources world wide --- go to the BBC (the UK) or to the CBC (Canada) for balanced news. In the US, CNN just gives you a continuous loop of propaganda, and even when the truth is finally reported (For example, there were no weapons of mass destruction. Your leaders lied to you.), there is so much information thrown at you that you can't sift through it.

But back to the Annexation topic. Most Canadians believe that Americans know absolutely nothing about Canada beyond the typical tourist observations that the people are friendly and the streeets are clean. We all have stories of people coming here and expecting igloos, etc. When we talk to tourists or when we are tourists in your country, we are always told "Americans and Canadians are just the same." How wrong you are. We are not the same. Not even remotely. We think and live so differently than Americans. We don't have the military as a major industry. It is not part of our culture or our thinking. It is a major part of yours. We don't have the religious right and the joining of church and state. We believe strongly in the separation of church and state. We couldn't imagine living with the health care system you have. We have had subsidized health care since the 1930s and it is Canadian to have it. Having a social safety net is one of our beliefs; it is part of the fabric of our society. We don't have a culture that accepts violence and accepts people having guns. We don't have people accidentally killing others with guns because we don't carry guns. You simply don't hear of that kind of violence here; it is very, very rare.

Those are just a few of the fundamental differences between our countries. One thing I will tell you though. If America did try to annex Canada, it would have one heck of a fight on its hands. There are very few things we would fight over (We prefer the role of peacekeepers, helping people.) but we would fight to maintain our own sovereignity. I would fight to maintain Canada as a distinct and sovereign nation. America is the scary neighbour who lives next door. You're always making noise and you fight a lot. I can handle living next to you and staying out of your way, but you are not going to live in my house!

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Capital battens down for presidential visit
Nov. 28, 2004. 01:00 AM 

Various groups plan three days of demonstrations 'Expect delays, disruptions and detours'

OTTAWA—Close the streets, erect the barricades and weld shut the manhole covers. The president's coming. And so are thousands of protesters.

George W. Bush is scheduled to arrive here Tuesday for his first official visit to Canada's capital and as many as 15,000 people are expected to march through Ottawa's downtown core, protest organizer Joe Cressy said.

Some of the protesters are expected to be Americans who have lost family members to the Iraq war, he said.

Ottawa police plan to erect barricades and to close roads and bridges near the House of Commons. They will probably remove Canada Post and newspaper boxes, which could be used to house bombs, and they may weld down manhole covers.

It's unclear how many of the Ottawa Police Service's 1,100 officers would be deployed for the protest. There are also plans to have RCMP and Ottawa police vessels patrol the Ottawa River behind Parliament Hill; the airspace over the city will be closed for parts of the president's visit.

"Residents should expect delays, disruptions and detours," said John Ash, manager of Ottawa's emergency measures unit.

An RCMP spokesperson wouldn't say whether police have ruled out employing a large chain-link "security fence" such as the 3.8-kilometre barrier used for Summit of the Americas protests in Quebec City three years ago.

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan said the president's security while in Canada "is a matter of key importance to all of us."

"The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is working with the City of Ottawa police, working with (the Department of National Defence), and working with the OPP to ensure that President Bush and his party will be safe and secure while they are here," McLellan said.

Conservative MP Merv Tweed (Brandon-Souris) said he was concerned that the slogan for the planned demonstrations — "When Bush comes to shovel" — may be "a call to violence."

There are three days of demonstrations planned by various groups. Anti-Bush protests in other countries have been marred by violence and chaos.

No one can say definitively that the three days of planned demonstrations to mark Bush's visit to Ottawa won't be marred by violence, as have other recent large-scale protests. Of course, it takes only a few violent protesters or a handful of overzealous police officers to make a peaceful situation chaotic.

At the recent summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Chile, police launched tear gas and turned water cannons on thousands of anti-Bush protesters. Some carried signs branding the U.S. president as a "killer." Ensuring the safety of demonstrators is critical, Cressy said, "especially when we're looking to attract grandmothers and children."

Yesterday, Amy Bartholomew, spokesperson for Lawyers Against the War, said the prospect of some protesters trying to hijack the demonstration "is not a relevant worry."

Even so, The Ottawa Hospital will have extra staff on, said spokesperson Sharon Way.

In a move designed to attract TV cameras, protesters plan to topple a large papier mâché statue of Bush in the same manner that statues of Saddam Hussein were brought down after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Comment: For some time now, the editors at Signs of the Times have been comparing the emergence of a fascist American state to that of pre-WWII Germany. The parallels are striking and too important to be ignored.

That being said, the role of Canada might also be compared to that of Austria or Poland prior to the invasion of 1939. Considering what happened in those countries should give Canadians pause as to what's really in store for America's closest neighbour.

To think that citizens in that country will be spared in the drive for American global conquest seems like wishful thinking indeed. It may be prudent for all residents of North America to consider the plight of the Polish and Austrian people and start making contingency plans for the next great war that seems certain to encompass the entire planet.

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Who's coming to dinner?
Nov. 29, 2004. 01:00 AM

OTTAWA—Despite having stormy relations with George W. Bush and Paul Martin in his last years in power, former prime minister Jean Chrétien will be one of the special guests dining with the president and the current Prime Minister tomorrow night.

New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, meanwhile, is thinking about staying away from the event and plans to release an open letter to Bush outlining why the president's visit and policies are stirring up "angst" in the Canadian population.

"I was proud to be part of the peace movement that helped convince former prime minister Chrétien to keep Canada out of the war on Iraq. More than 100,000 people have since died, and yet despite the correctness of global opposition to the invasion, your administration shows few signs of working with the world on meaningful efforts to make us all safer," Layton writes in his letter.

The NDP leader also warns that Martin, a minority-government leader, is not in a position to speak for all Canadians on the subject of the proposed North American missile-defence shield.

"You need to be aware Mr. Martin does not speak for Canadians. His support for missile defence runs counter to our tradition of multilateral peacekeeping, and it is incompatible with Canadian values for us to join a weapons system that could only be pursued if arms control treaties were abandoned," Layton writes. "I urge you to outline to Mr. Martin the full scope of missile defence, which your administration's documents and officials clearly say weaponizes space. For two years, he has incredibly refused to look at the facts, and your meeting with him provides a crucial opportunity for his voluntary ignorance to end."

Layton, annoyed that Bush has agreed to meet Conservative Leader Stephen Harper but not the other opposition leaders, will reportedly consult with his caucus today to decide whether it is worth attending the dinner.

"We are not impressed over the prospect of chatting about the next arms race over canapés and champagne," said an NDP source. [...]

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Why 'Weenie' may start with a capital Dubya
Nov. 27, 2004. 08:27 AM 

The President of The World is not President of The World for Life, at least not yet. But is he a weenie?

What evidence is there of Dubya's weenieness, apart from him chickening out when it came to going up against the filthy Commies in the skies over the Rio Grande during the unpleasantness in Vietnam?

He was afraid to speak to real, live U.S. voters except in situations where everybody had been required to sign a loyalty oath.

He was afraid to speak to the British Parliament.

The thought of being anywhere near Parliament in Ottawa has scared him speechless.

Every American who heckled him during the election campaign got arrested. But in satellite nations like the United Kingdom, not to mention rogue countries like Canada, it's out of his hands. Anybody could holler anything when he's here next week and get off scot free. This makes him very, very anxious.

In Santiago he did wade into a mob of Chilean security goons to rescue his bodyguard, but while this made him look brave, it was provoked by his fear of not having somebody at his side to protect him against evildoers. At times like that, said his press secretary, he can be "a hands-on kind of guy."

According to David Brooks, the neocon columnist, "he's a towel-snapping kind of guy" too. And if there's one thing we know about guys who are towel-snapping guys, it's that the thing they fear most is having mice nibble on their machismo.

In other words, Dubya's a sensitive kind of guy. If he were subjected to the type of verbal barrage that the owner of the Hamilton Tiger Cats wishes his team's fans would stop firing at the Argonauts, think what might happen.

"Do I suck?"

"You don't, sir, believe me," his press secretary would say. "Look how brave you were in Colombia when they had exactly the same number of troops in the street to protect you as you invaded Falluja with. Look how brave you were when you congratulated your friend Vladimir Putin for his election victory in Ukraine. Ukraine is a democracy, you said, so if 110 per cent of the voters cast ballots, the people have truly spoken."

"What if I suck?"

You see? Heckling could plant a seed of doubt.

The last thing Canadians need when we're hanging by a thread so slender that the President of The World isn't completely sure we're on his side, is for him to develop even more doubts about us.

We should bear the bigger picture in mind, too. Since he has doubts about almost everybody else in the world, shouldn't we do something to ease those?

We have to help Dubya get over his weenieness.

The trick will be to entice him into the Commons.

"Won't that vulgar woman be there?" (Comic relief: Did you hear about the George W. Bush doll? You wind it up and Carolyn Parrish steps on it.)

"Oh, no, sir. The Canadians fitted her with a cement bathing suit and took her swimming in the Ottawa River. As a gesture of goodwill."

"Really? Maybe they're not such evil folks after all."

Then, once he's in there, the minute he starts to speak, everybody jumps up and starts yelling at him. His bodyguard draws his gun. Dubya is about to order him to shoot the varmints, when his press secretary says, "Sir, wait! Listen to what they're yelling."

And Dubya listens. And what they're yelling is, "You the man!" Every last one of them, the MPs, the opposition leaders, the Prime Minister. "You the man!"

"They think I'm the man!" He is awed, and shocked, but in the nicest possible way.

"Yes, sir. Isn't that nice?"

"It's real nice." A tear forms in Dubya's eye. "Maybe I don't suck after all."

We'll have made the world a nicer place.

There is one problem.

Parliament does represent a country that is composed of an embarrassingly consequential number of what Dubya regards as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys."

He can't quite tell the difference between the gallant Royal 22nd Regiment that has just returned from making Afghanistan safe for opium growers, and Les Voltigeurs de Les Tirailleurs de la Force de la Frappé de Gaulle who have stayed snug at home in gay Paree eating snails gratinée.

"They eat snails, too?" he asks. "Geez, even using them to catch fish would make me nauseous."

We've still got a couple of days. Let me work on this.

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The well of valor

In a protest in London's Trafalgar Square, a feeble-bodied man stands defiantly against the warmongers. He embraces the families of the dead and speaks a truth that so many continue to refuse to hear.

The US-led war on Iraq is based on lies, said Stephen Hawking, the most famous British scientist, who suffers from motor neuron disease. Except for the ability to move some fingers, Hawking is totally paralyzed.

Yet as he spoke and led the London protest, he did not need arms or legs or speech.

"It has been a tragedy for all the families that have lost members," said Hawking during the protest, shaming the actively unconcerned. "As many as 100,000 people have died, half of them women and children. If that is not a war crime, what is?"

Resistance is eternal and imperial rule ephemeral in the brief history of time.

"One person with a belief," John Stuart Mill once said, "is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests." Perhaps even equal to a force ten times greater. Or more.

From the bell tower of St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem, Mordechai Vanunu gazes at the expanse below, pulls at the center bell and speaks: "Down there is where they sentenced me to 18 years in prison. This is my way of saying I am still here."

While working as a technician at the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev desert, Vanunu became disquieted by his discovery of Israel's clandestine nuclear weapons program. Despite his awareness of the risks, Vanunu took photos of the plant and smuggled them out and sought the help of the media in exposing to the world Israel's illegal factories of weapons of mass destruction. A short time later, the whistle blower was kidnapped and shipped back to Israel by the Mossad—Israel's thugs—with the help of agents from the intelligence services of America, Britain and Italy.

In the first 11 years of his captivity, Vanunu was kept in solitary confinement. How did he survive? "I decided from the beginning that they could have my body in prison but my spirit, mind, brain, I would keep free, under my control; that would be my way out," said Vanunu. When he finally stepped out of Israel's prison, among Vanunu's first words were two simple declarations of fact: "They have not broken me. Israel's illegal nuclear weapons program must be shut down."

Seven months after his release, Vanunu was rearrested, then released again. But released to what? Vanunu is forbidden to leave Israel, forbidden to approach any of Israel's borders, forbidden to associate with foreigners, forbidden to talk to journalists, forbidden to speak, forbidden to live the normal life, forbidden to spread his message.

"I want to continue to seek the abolition of nuclear weapons around the world, not only in Israel . . . . I also plan to find a woman and have a family," said Vanunu in a recent interview he knows he is not allowed to have.

"I don't know what is the best way to overcome [the Israeli government's] restrictions," said Vanunu. "Is it by silence or is it by speaking? I decided it was by speaking. If I speak. . . I am teaching them that they cannot silence anyone . . . . If they take away your right to speak, you are not a human being anymore . . . . [T]hey could kill me. If they want to do something, it's not a big problem for them; but I am not in fear, I am just living my life. Fear will not help me."Fear will not help any of us either. And neither will indifference.

In the far reaches of Hong Kong, a Filipina mother toils day and night for a family she is not a member of. She sweeps their floor, cleans their toilets, takes care of their children, cooks their daily meals and wipes their tables and chairs and desks, changes their bedsheets and does their laundry and takes out their trash. Over and over without letup.

After all this, Loretta Brunio has as much time left as she has energy—very little and close to nothing. And yet somehow this mother of three finds both time and energy to attend to the needs of the Coalition for Migrant Rights (CMR), an organization she helped form in 1999 from idea to fruition while working full time as a domestic help. Along with her equally dedicated colleagues, Brunio saw to it that the first composition of CMR was not just Filipinos but included Indonesians, Sri Lankans, Thais, Nepalese and Indians as well.

Where does she find the time to do all this? Rest should take up the remainder of the day after her work: the body needs pause and the soul needs respite in order to shore up the walls that hem in the cloister of heartaches and loneliness. Yet she always finds time.

The Filipino mother turns on its head the biblical adage "to whom much is given, much is expected in return." Given close to nothing, Brunio gives everything and expects nothing in return.

A man imprisoned for close to eternity whose dreams continue to travel around the world and who still longs only to find a woman to fall in love with; a totally paralyzed man whose heart has somehow surpassed the heights reached by his towering intellect; a poor woman who does battle daily with back-breaking work and isolation all the while armed with dignity.

In a world imprisoned by self-inflicted ignorance, among people sedated by affluence, inside communities immobilized by fear, the conduct of three imperfect individuals reminds us today of the essence from which spring acts that we have come to know as that glorious but seemingly unattainable thing called heroism.

We honor our heroes not merely by erecting monuments in their likeness. We celebrate them, too, by recognizing that they were not uncommon women and men but ordinary people like us who carried attributes that we, too, in truth possess: extraordinary hope, will and heart.

Comment: Indeed, there certainly seems to be a dearth of heroes in these troubling times. Voices of reason and compassion - folks like Hawking, Vanunu and Brunio - are few and far between in a world run mostly by self-serving psychopaths.

That is why the onus is on each of us as individuals to give voice to the truth where we can. Unfortunately, as things get progressively worse here on the BBM, there will be no last minute saviours to suddenly appear and rescue us from the the Bush cabal and their apocalyptic agenda.

If anything, it seems we will have to become our own saviours, our own heroes, in order to serve as an example for others, because if we don't, no one else will.

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International Red Cross finds "form of torture" at Guantanamo
November 30, 2004

WASHINGTON - In a confidential report, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it found prisoner abuse that amounted to "a form of torture" at the US military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, The New York Times said.

Based on a visit to the prison in June, an ICRC team that included humanitarian workers and experienced medical personel found a system devised to break the will of prisoners through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions."

"The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the report said.

Sent to the US government in July, the report -- a detailed memorandum of which was obtained recently by The New York Times -- said the prisoners were also exposed to loud and persistent noise and music and to prolonged cold.

It also said that detainees were subjected to "some beatings," the daily added.

The daily said the report did not mention how many of the 550 detainees currently being held at Guantanamo were subjected to such treatment. The United States has used the military facility to hold people detained around the world in its "war on terror" indefinitely and without trial.

The ICRC team also found that physicians and medical personnel at the Guantanamo prison provided information about the prisoners' mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators, a practice a human rights expert told the daily was in violation of international ethical standards.

The daily said a statement from the Pentagon said "the allegation that detainee medical files were used to harm detainees is false."

"The United States operates a safe, humane and professional detention operation at Guantanamo that is providing valuable information in the war on terrorism," the Pentagon statement said.

Personnel assigned to Guantanamo, the Pentagon statement added, "go through extensive professional and sensitivity training to ensure they understand the procedures for protecting the rights and dignity of detainees."

Transferred from military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of the detainees at Guantanamo have been there for almost three years without any access to lawyers.

Only four have been charged, as the US government resists a legal onslaught over its handling of al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees, most of whom it believes fall outside the protection of the Geneva Conventions.

Comment: So, what are other countries doing about this violation of every international agreement for the preservation of human rights? The same thing they did after the Abu Ghraib story broke: Nothing.

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Center for Constitutional Rights Seeks Criminal Investigation in Germany into Culpability of U.S. Officials in Abu Ghraib Torture
NOVEMBER 29, 2004
CONTACT: Center for Constitutional Rights
David Lerner; 212-260-5000

NEW YORK, NY -- November 29 -- In a historic effort to hold high ranking U.S. officials accountable for brutal acts of torture including the widely publicized abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib, on Tuesday, November 30, 2004, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and four Iraqi citizens will file a criminal complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office at the Karlsruhe Court, Karlsruhe, Germany. Under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, suspected war criminals may be prosecuted irrespective of where they are located.

The four Iraqis were victims of gruesome crimes including electric shock, severe beatings, sleep and food deprivation, hooding and sexual abuse. (Further details of the treatment of the complainants will be provided at the press conference.)

The U.S. officials charged include Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Former CIA Director George Tenet, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Dr. Steven Cambone, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Major General Walter Wojdakowski, Major General Geoffrey Miller, Brigadier General Janis L. Karpinski, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry L. Phillabaum, Colonel Thomas Pappas, and Lieutenant Colonel Stephen L. Jordan. [...]

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Harlots, Whores and the Shields They Use to Mask the Unreal Reality that has become George W. Bush's America
by Doug Basham, Las Vegas Talk Radio Host

On Sunday November the 21st, during his pre-Thanksgiving sermon, the Reverend Jerry Falwell had this to say…

………"Let me talk to you about five good things of late ... for which this week I hope you and your family around your Thanksgiving table will praise the Lord. ... No. 5: America has alternative news media and is no longer held hostage by the major print and broadcast media. I remember a day when ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN and the major print media controlled all the news flow to the American people and we found ourselves getting warped and distorted news. I thank God now in the 21st century for talk radio, that three hours a day people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and hundreds of others are telling the truth of what really is going on. I thank God for FOX News Channel [applause]. I thank God for the Internet bloggers and the news producers like NewsMax.com, WorldNetDaily.com, even The Drudge Report."………

Excuse me, Reverend Falwell? While every single major media source repeated the Bush administration pre-Iraq press release lies as if they were facts, no media source had its head (and its camera) further up the Bush administration's poop chute than did Fox News. By constantly portraying those who opposed the war (those who were smart enough to know they were being lied to) as being anti-American, unpatriotic and unsupportive of the troops (it's called defining the dialogue) many of the more objective news sources acquiesced to the Fox game plan of completely dishonest war mongering disguised as flag wrapping patriotism - instead of honest investigative news reporting.

It is largely because of Fox's bullying and their blatant lies; along with Sean Hasn't Any and Rush Limbaucracy's lies - and the rest of the media's ensuing acquiescence to them - that over 1,230 of our soldiers have died - as many as perhaps 30,000 soldiers lives have been transformed forever because of injuries they've suffered - and over 100,000 innocent Iraqis, the majority being women and children - have been indiscriminately and senselessly murdered – all in Iraq. And this bloated charlatan and self-righteous pig who professes to be a pillar of Christianity THANKS GOD… for Fox News, Sean Hasn't Any, and Rush Limbaucracy?

I really don't think there's a physical Hell, but I can't help but wonder if God is considering creating one just for the harlot Falwell - for the media whores at Fox News - and for the egregious liars who host conservative talk radio shows – along with the republican criminals in government they not only protect, but promote and canonize as well. And herein lies the current sick, twisted foundation of conservatism and republicanism in George W. Bush's America that no one seems comfortable discussing.

As one Bush aide confided to Ron Suskind back in 2002, "We create our own reality." Put another way, these people are not grounded in true reality, but rather, in their alternative self-created reality. This behavior can only be described as "psychotic", using any definition of the word I've ever seen. Call it what you will, but creating a more convenient, alternative reality is nothing more than good old-fashioned lying. We already knew these people were serial liars. Now that we know they are serial, psychotic liars, anybody smell danger ahead?

These new self-created realities then act as shields that these psychotic cowards hide behind to mask what genuinely sick, dishonest, twisted, evil bastards they truly are. Unfortunately, these people are smart enough to give their alternative reality shields catchy, meaningful buzz-phrase oriented titles and decorate them accordingly.

Fox paints an American flag on it and labels their shield "patriotism" - or at least, their own twisted, perverted version of patriotism - which to them means blind obedience to, and no criticism of the Bush administration. War is good – war in necessary - death is acceptable - if you don't want our troops to die in Iraq, you don't support them – if you question Bush, you're anti-American and unpatriotic, etc. etc. etc.

The televangelistic Falwell paints a picture of God on his shield, (which, not surprisingly, looks a lot like Falwell himself?!), and labels his shield Christianity - or at least, his own twisted, perverted version of Christianity - which to him means bigotry, judgementalism, intolerance, death, carnage and murder.

Impressed by the power of these inspiring titles and sheer pageantry of the accompanying artistic design on the shields, and... Ultimately confused, marginalized and quite frankly, numbed by the accompanying 24/7 marketing campaign by the conservative, corporate controlled media (no Virginia, there really is not a "liberal media") many American sheep are only too willing to accept the harlot's alternative reality versions of patriotism and Christianity as the true versions.

Having done that, the sheep are then only too willing to vote against their best interests and elect to public office who these whores tell them must be elected - which is of course, the party who hides behind the shields of Christianity and supporting our troops. In, what the same Bush aide referred to as "our reality based community," these harlots and whores neither support our troops, nor do they understand even one founding principle of Christianity.

Problem is - once the brainwashing sets in and people start accepting agenda obsessed harlots and whores as true patriots and Christians, even people who know better start walking around on egg shells, fearful of telling these corporate hookers and their "sheep johns" how out of touch with true reality they indeed are.

Can't criticize Jerry Falwell – he's a minister – he's a man of God. Bull crap. He's a self indulgent, cowardly, chubby little charlatan who condones and promotes republican lies and murder. Period. Even if the alternative reality shield he hides behind says otherwise.

Can't criticize the news anchors at Fox News - they're patriotic, they love America and they support our troops. Bull crap squared. They hate America - they hate their fellow Americans - they hate our troops - they hate the truth – and, like Falwell, they too condone and promote republican lies and murder, no matter what their alternative reality shield says either.

The bottom line is… the only thing these right wing whores give a damn about is their bottom line. And here's the worse part of this sick scenario - the unholy, unhealthy connection between these sick, twisted ideologues in the media - and the sick, twisted ideologues in the Bush administration. It's a 2-way, mutually beneficial, self-fulfilling, sick, twisted prophecy.

Greedy, self-absorbed prostitutes like Falwell, Limbaugh, Hannity and Fox News praise republican administrations for one main reason only. They want to further consolidate media ownership (like all fascists do) to eliminate competition, and to increase their profit from and control over the American people. But who can help them do that? Answer… a government who just so happens to need what only the media can provide – cover.

So Falwell, Limbaugh, Hannity and Fox say "We'll cover for you and tell the people your policies really do benefit them and thereby convince them to vote for you… if… you help us increase our bottom line as well as our control over the American sheep." And the Bush administration says "Ditto" - or would that be mega-dittoes? – "We'll cover for you if you don't' disclose what liars we are, and you help us increase our bottom line and our control over the American sheep." And if we both agree to continue chanting "liberal media", this will provide even further cover for both of us.

And all harlots and whores on both sides say "I do", and the minister - attired all in red - then pronounces corporate and state to be man and wife. We now have, as Benito Mussolini referred to it - fascism in its purest form. And thus the sick, twisted cycle is complete - both sides win - and America loses.

Added note: Shortly after the unholy nuptials, it is rumored a knocking sound can be heard coming from Adolph Hitler's coffin that is apparently not being made by his hands or his feet. (*Boing* sound effect appropriate here for those a little slow on the draw.)

In a country like America, however, fascism works and looks better if you dress it in a miniskirt, and not a long sleeved, brown shirt. This of course, necessitates the process of creating, setting up, and marketing another alternative reality shield - this one for the Bush administration to hide behind. It also means, giving that shield a catchy title – Hey… how about "compassionate conservatives?" Much more effective than bigoted, homophobic, greedy, fascist, corporate whores, don't you agree?

And don't forget to decorate the government's shield accordingly - how about a picture of the Twin Towers along with some scruffy, bearded middle eastern man; Osama – Saddam - doesn't matter - with the media in your back pocket, it won't be long before a majority of the sheep won't be able to tell the difference anyway. 'And just think of the added benefits this will accrue; you can invade any country you want and just blame it on an abstract noun – terror - that you've already brainwashed the people into associating with bearded Muslim males. Absolutely brilliant. Diabolically evil, but brilliant, nonetheless.

On a side note… rumor has it if you look real close at the Bush shield… you will notice other clever little alternative reality statements, such as "Our tax cuts are not for the rich, no matter what our Congressional Budget Office said", or… "Iraq is better off since our invasion, no matter what our General Accounting Office said." In small print, it has been reported one can see other gems, such as, "I really was concerned about terrorism, prior to 9-11, no matter what the 9-11 commission found"… "God told me to bomb Iraq," and... "We really do want clean air and clean water."

Rumor further has it if you hide behind a shield that is thusly decorated, the sheep will allow any number of atrocities to be committed in their name – especially when your partners in crime (the media and religion) tell them a) it's part of your war on terror; and b) that's the way God wants it to be.

And for those who see through your transparent alternative reality shields and who care enough to go beyond your controlled media to learn the truth? Not to worry. They'll be the minority - they certainly won't be hired by any of your media sources – therefore, not that many sheep will ever even hear their exposés.

As a result, the majority of the sheep will never learn what you truly represent, and will therefore be entirely enthralled and completely content with what your alternative reality shield claims is true reality, and which your bought and paid for media will be only too happy to reaffirm. We now live in a nation whereby up is down – black is white – right is wrong – war is peace. Welcome to the alternative, unreal reality in which we now dwell. Welcome… to George W. Bush's America.

I think I'm going to hurl.

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Evangelicals to Bush: Payback Time
Nov. 28, 2004 -- ABC News

Among some conservative Christians, there is a belief that President Bush received a "moral mandate" to win the recent presidential election — and they are calling on him to act on their agenda now.

"I believe Our Lord elected our president and I believe he put him in office and it is my prayer that he will sustain him in office," said one woman at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Another was asked if she believed that God intervened in the election. "Absolutely," she said.

"Values" voters delivered for the president, and the president must now deliver for them — especially in the courts, said Gary Cass, head of a grassroots political organization affiliated with Coral Ridge, called the Center for Reclaiming America.

"It's about the next 40 years and how the courts are going to affect the world in which my children and grandchildren are going to be raised in," he said.

Cass wants a U.S. Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion and gay marriage. "Do you want to take your children to a National League baseball game for instance and have homosexuals showing affection to one another? I don't want my kids to see that," he said.

Risking God's Wrath

By one measure, conservative Christians comprised 12 percent of the electorate this year — the same as four years ago. But they see themselves as a crucial piece of the president's political base.

They believe that if their agenda is not implemented quickly — if their concerns are not addressed in a timely fashion — God will be angry.

One leading evangelist recently warned, "God's patience runs out."

Dr. James Kennedy delivers sermons at Coral Ridge which are broadcast to 3 million homes. He said he knows of no timetable for God's wrath, but wants results fast.

He dismissed the concerns of people who worried about the impact of Christian conservatives on the U.S. government.

"Repent," he said with a laugh. "Repent. That's what I'd say."

People who are concerned about the influence of Christianity "have never really surrendered their life to God and submitted themselves to his commandments — and if they did that they wouldn't have so much concern about some court saying again that it's wrong," he said.

Asked about the millions of Americans who are not Christian, or have a different interpretation of Christianity, Kennedy said with another laugh: "I couldn't care less. It's true."

"I think that the idea that the worst sin that somebody can commit is to offend somebody is ridiculous," he said.

Evangelicals say Kennedy may seem intolerant, but there's no greater love than upholding the will of God.

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Liberation not Election under Occupation Is the Answer
By Ibrahim Ebeid

Election in Palestine and Iraq does not reflect the hope and the aspirations of the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples. It serves the interests of the Zionist US-'Israeli' occupation of Iraq and Palestine, in order to impose governments to be moved like robots with no brains of their own. The candidates in Iraq came on top of American tanks. These tanks destroyed Iraq and left no stone without being turned and shot at.

The bombs and guns of the invading forces in Iraq are killing civilians, men, women and children who have no connection to military operations. The American soldiers are mutilating the corpses of the dead and physically eliminating the wounded and injured. They destroyed, and are still destroying, what is left of the vital systems and services such as electricity, bridges, clinics, hospitals and other institutions. Homes were damaged or completely demolished many times on top of the occupants. The thugs of the invaders are attacking churches and mosques. Innocent people are being kidnapped for ransoms and sometimes executed in order to smear the reputation of the gallant fighters of the Resistance.

George W. Bush considers himself God's representative in charge to deliver "democracy", "security" and "Justice" on Earth. His sophisticated machines of terror were employed to spread death and havoc on this planet with no restraint. He and his ally, the Zionist entity, in Palestine want to legitimize the occupation in Iraq and Palestine. They want to extinguish the hope of the Arab people of being liberated and united in one Democratic Arab state free from Zionism and Imperialism.

The election that the US Zionist Imperialists want to impose on Palestine and Iraq does not come from the muzzles of the guns of the invaders but through the barrels of the guns of the Freedom Fighters in Palestine and Iraq.

President Bush resorted to new tactics to legalize the illegitimate occupation and robbery of Iraq by calling for a limited international conference, like the one convened recently in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. Those who attended the conference do not represent the Iraqi people. They were the ones who were responsible for the pillaging, destruction and mass killing in Iraq.

The closing statement of the conference was pre-prepared by the occupation powers in Washington and Tel Aviv. It was adopted with no amendment or without being read by the delegations of the neighboring states of Iraq.

Common sense tells us that the statement's purpose was to secure Allawi and sectarianism in Iraq. When sectarianism is secured, the pro Iran reactionary clerics and the pro Iran religious parties were confirmed by the guns of US Zionist Imperialist so that Iran would have a strong role in the area and Iraq would be ripped apart and the southern part would be part or under the influence of Iran.

The election in Palestine will never represent the Palestinian people for the simple reason that a free election that truly would represent the Palestinian people would be achieved when Palestine is liberated from the river to the sea and the Palestinians in the Diaspora return home to establish their Democratic State.

The Iraqi National Resistance and the Leadership of Iraq -under Saddam Hussein- are the legitimate ones to lead Iraq under freedom and democracy, a democracy, which genuinely springs from the people of Iraq and is not imposed upon them by Imperialism and Zionism. This Revolutionary Democracy will be achieved when Occupation is defeated and Iraq is liberated.

A true International progressive and peaceful movement realizes that genuine peace and security would come when the followings are recognized:

1. Palestine is Arab and it belongs to the Palestinian people.

2. The Palestinians have the right to go back to their homes from which they were evicted by force in 1948.

3. The Palestinians have the right to choose their leadership without any foreign influence.

4. The Palestinians have the right to establish their democratic state in historic Palestine that extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

5. Those who came to Palestine for colonization purposes should return to the country of origin.

The Palestinians have the right to achieve all the above by all means.

The International progressive and peaceful movements must recognize that:

1. The Iraqi Leadership under Saddam Hussein is the legitimate one and not that of Allawi and the imposed ones by Washington.

2. The Iraqis have the right to resist the occupation by all means available to liberate Iraq and keep it united.

3. All prisoners of war must be released and the legitimate Leadership must be restored.

4. All the invading forces must withdraw immediately and unconditionally.

5. Iraq must be compensated for all the damages and suffering it has endured under occupation.

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U.S. may go it alone on Iran sanctions
Tuesday 30.11.2004, CET 03:57
By Louis Charbonneau and Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has escaped U.N. censure over its nuclear programme but Washington, which accuses it of seeking an atomic bomb, says it reserves the right to take the case to the Security Council on its own.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a U.N. watchdog, passed a resolution approving Iran's week-old suspension of sensitive nuclear activities as part of a deal with the European Union.

Crucially, and in line with Iranian demands, the resolution described the freeze as a voluntary, confidence-building measure and not a legally binding commitment.

Its passage meant that Tehran, which denies it wants the bomb, had achieved its immediate goal: to prevent the IAEA from referring it to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions.

"This resolution which was approved by the IAEA was a definite defeat for our enemies who wanted to pressure Iran by sending its case to the U.N. Security Council," President Mohammad Khatami was quoted by state radio as saying on Monday.

The United States believes Iran is playing games with the international community and wants to see it referred to the Council. U.S. envoy Jackie Sanders told the IAEA's board of governors that Washington reserved the right to go it alone.

"Quite apart from the question of how this board chooses to handle these matters, of course, the United States reserves all of its options with respect to Security Council consideration of the Iranian nuclear weapons programme," she said.

"Any member of the United Nations may bring to the attention of the Security Council any situation that might endanger the maintenance of international peace and security."

Sanders also issued a stern warning to companies, including multinationals, against exporting weapons-related equipment to Iran. The United States "will impose economic burdens on them and brand them as proliferators", she said. [...]

Comment: Like some really awful scene from a recurring nightmare, the games that the U.S. is now playing with Iran are all too reminiscent of what happened just a few short years ago in Iraq.

Too bad most of the American public have such short memories.

It doesn't matter at all what Iran says or does now in regards to compliance with IAEA guidelines, because once they have been targeted by the the U.S. war machine, the propaganda and bogus intelligence will be ramped up until the inevitable invasion occurs.

Forget international opinion, or UN inspectors, or the complete lack of evidence, or sanctions, or even a multinational coalition. The U.S. does what it wants, when it wants, all by itself, because it can.

One of the main reasons the American government can continue to get away with such brutal aggression based on obvious lies is because the people they represent for the most part, remain apathetic and uninformed.

And the way things are going, it seems this nightmare is one that most will never awake from.

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Seven soldiers die in U.S. helicopter crash
November 30, 2004 12:00 AM
By Jon Herskovitz

DALLAS (Reuters) - A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter clipped wires supporting a TV tower and crashed in foggy weather in central Texas, killing all seven soldiers on board, witnesses and military officials say.

A spokesman at Fort Hood, where the helicopter was based, said the names of those killed in the crash have not yet been released. The identities of the dead would likely be released once the next of kin were notified.

Witness Rock Eicke, who lives near the crash site, said he heard the 1,800-foot (549-metre) metal tower rattling and then saw Monday's crash.

"I looked out the window and that is when I saw something burst into flames," Eicke told reporters.

The downed Black Hawk was spotted burning in a field near the tower, about 35 miles (55 km) south of Waco, by Eicke and police he led to the site.

The helicopter, from the Army's 4th Infantry Division, was headed to Texarkana, Texas, officials said. Its smouldering wreckage was strewn across several hundred yards (metres) of ground near the tower.

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New Labour’s police state

The Spectator

On Wednesday 3 November I was driving along the Embankment towards the City when a police constable stepped out into the road and flagged me down. It was 11.30 in the morning, and I was in reasonable time for a meeting with some corporate lawyers which was due to start at midday.

The constable was accompanied by another policeman and a group of three men in what looked a little like traffic wardens’ uniforms, with pale blue bands round their caps. These, I later discovered, were Mr Blunkett’s new militia, the police community support officers. Their task, according to Sir John Stevens, is to ‘perform the vital role of security patrols in central London, deterring criminals and providing intelligence to police officers’.

‘We are conducting random stop and search under current anti-terrorist legislation,’ began the constable, addressing me through my open side window. ‘Would you mind if we searched your vehicle? We’re training these new community support officers.’

Although a little worried about being late for my meeting, I was impressed by their air of professionalism and vigilance. I was pleased that the government was doing something to keep us all safe and thought it would be selfish to refuse. ‘I don’t mind at all,’ I replied, ‘as long as it doesn’t take a huge amount of time.’

I unlocked the doors and they went through my car and its contents: my overnight bag, my wash bag and glove box. Next, they gestured towards my briefcase and asked if I could open it. Of course, I said, and as I lifted the lid I pointed out to them a Victorinox Swiss multi-tool, contained in a small webbing case, and a small collapsible baton, contained in another piece of webbing.

It is perfectly legal to buy both of these items. The penknife I carry because I find it useful for many small everyday tasks —cutting through packaging, opening bottles. The baton I bought over the Internet to keep at home for security reasons. I live in a rural part of Suffolk that, although thankfully relatively crime-free, is policed very sparsely. I often hear people outside the house at night — that same Wednesday evening, for instance, my wife discovered a harmless but mentally ill tramp yelling loudly in a nearby barn — and I feel more comfortable with the baton inside the front door. A week or so before my police search, I had discovered my nine- and twelve-year-old girls playing with it and had locked it in my briefcase for safekeeping.

The community support officers reacted immediately. They behaved as if they had never seen a penknife before, pulling out the bottle-opener, the corkscrew, the thing that gets stones out of horses’ hooves. ‘This device has a locking blade,’ said the constable, after which a short, whispered debate ensued. My goodwill towards the police began to give way to alarm. I reached for my mobile to call the lawyers and explain that I was going to be late for my meeting, but the constable stopped me. ‘Turn that phone off,’ he said. ‘You’re about to be arrested for possessing offensive weapons and carrying a bladed instrument in public. You’ll be allowed one call when we get you to Charing Cross police station.’

I felt confused and indignant. As we stood by the side of the road, waiting for a police van to arrive, I asked the constable whether this whole business was, in his opinion, a valuable use of police time and resources. This was when the policemen and the PCSOs started to become hostile. ‘You’ve committed an offence, mate, and you’d better get used to the fact that you’re going down for six months,’ said one policeman.

‘Do you realise, sir,’ said another, ‘that behind us is the Ministry of Defence, a key target for potential terrorists?’

‘But why did you stop me in the first place: do I seriously look like a potential terrorist?’ I asked.

‘We stop one in every 25 cars on a random basis, and, let me tell you, sir, criminals and terrorists come in many different guises,’ replied the policeman.

‘Shouldn’t you be concentrating on men of Arab extraction?’ This seemed to me to be a sensible question, relevant to the current state of the world. The policeman said, ‘That is a racist comment, sir.’ Then the van appeared. I was locked in the back and ferried to Charing Cross. As we drove there, the policemen made small talk. They told me that they would be out for a pint tonight, whereas I was going to prison. They wondered what it would feel like for me not to be sleeping in my own bed.

Upon arrival at Charing Cross, I was subjected to the as-seen-on-TV rigmarole of being booked in by the desk sergeant. Most of the questions focused on my racial origin and HIV status. They asked if I had a craving for non-prescription drugs, and if I required any religious paraphernalia. My belt and personal effects were removed, and after a statutory telephone call to my lawyer I was ‘banged up’.

By this time it was about 12.20 and I spent the next three hours dozing on a wooden bench. At about 4.30 p.m., my solicitor had arrived and it was time for an ‘interview under caution’. First, I had to be fingerprinted. The police constable who had originally flagged me down reappeared, and began the arduous business of ‘processing’ me. The man’s lack of competence was comical. He had problems applying my fingers to what appeared to be a sophisticated and expensive fingerprint-scanning machine, and with each failed attempt he became angrier and angrier. Tired and fed up, I gave in to the temptation to needle him. ‘Having problems with your new toy?’ I asked. He replied, ‘Shut the fuck up, you arsehole.’

He was no better at operating the tape recorder used for my interview. Much fumbling of cassettes was followed by screeching noises from the equipment. During the interview itself, I found him inarticulate, incompetent and only tenuously in control of his temper.

After the interview, I was re-introduced to my cell. I understood from my solicitor that the same police constable would speak to the Crown Prosecution Service, and a decision would be made about whether to charge me formally. I was also told that if the policeman had wanted to, he could have let me off with a caution after my car had been searched and the penknife and baton discovered.

Sitting in my cell, I thought a bit about the way I had been treated. For the police to be behaving like this at a time when we are all concerned about terrorism and street crime, and when resources are stretched and manpower is limited, seemed extraordinary. It was also, I decided, in direct contrast to the qualities of professionalism, endurance and discipline that are the hallmark of Britain’s armed forces. I have (now long outdated) personal experience of two training establishments, the old Guards’ Depot at Pirbright and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, both of which are successful in creating tough but professional men who are in control of their actions and able to make sensible decisions under pressure. Whether on the streets of Belfast, in the mountains of Bosnia or in the deserts of Iraq, lieutenants and second lieutenants as young as 19 and 20 provide the linchpin between senior officers and rank-and-file men on the ground.

And this, I suspect, is the problem with the police — they have no proper training and no officer corps. The old adage goes ‘there is no such thing as bad soldiers, only bad officers’. The scruffy, overweight, badly turned-out, ill-mannered policemen I encountered at Charing Cross police station were desperately in need of decent leadership.

So I was not surprised when I was brought back before the desk sergeant and told that the CPS had made the decision to go ahead and charge me with possessing an offensive weapon and carrying a bladed instrument in public. I was bailed to appear at Bow Street magistrates’ court and informed that I was free to leave.

As I was about to pass through the door to freedom, I am ashamed to say that I snapped. The knowledge that we could, so easily, have avoided the whole drawn-out, expensive and upsetting procedure was too much for me. I turned to the police constable and said, ‘You really are a prize wanker.’ At this point, and in full view of my solicitor, he lost it. He grabbed my lapels, and pushed me up against the wall. My solicitor yelled, ‘You have just assaulted my client!’

Four other police officers rushed into the corridor, accompanied by the desk sergeant. ‘Right, rearrest him: public order, breach of the peace,’ shouted the sergeant at me. ‘You’ll be spending the night here.’ My solicitor said that she wanted the assault entered in the daybook, and that we would be bringing an action. So they let me go.

In the aftermath of my experience, I started some purely anecdotal research on the type of behaviour and attitude displayed by the police towards me. In speaking to friends, acquaintances, tradesmen, cab drivers and people in the pub I rapidly came to realise that a quite staggering number of ordinary, law-abiding people had endured similar experiences.

It is worth remembering how new these powers are. It is only since the Terrorism Act of 2000 that the new community support officers, in the company of a constable, have been allowed to stop and search a car; and that is by no means all they can do. After a mere three weeks’ training, a CSO can give you a £30 fixed penalty ticket for such minor derelictions as riding your bike on a pavement, or dropping a crisps packet. He or she may take away your booze if you are drinking in public, or confiscate the fags of an underage smoker. These CSOs may detain you by force for 30 minutes, pending the arrival of a police officer, if they think you may be guilty of an arrestable offence. And who can doubt that they will soon be able to demand the production of an ID card, and detain you if you fail to produce it?

And on it goes. Last week Parliament passed the new Civil Contingencies Act, which gives the government astonishing powers to declare and prolong a state of emergency sine die. This week Her Majesty announced in the Gracious Address that there is to be a new Counter-Terrorism Bill, and among its provisions are rumoured to be judge-only Diplock courts for terrorist suspects.

Such measures are surely only justified in a society at war, and they might be acceptable if we were truly a nation under siege. But that is not how it feels to most of us. We have a terrorist threat to London and elsewhere, a chronic and worrying problem; but that does not amount to a war, any more than the IRA bombing campaigns of the 1970s did, and yet we are enacting measures more repressive than those applied in the Blitz.

By the way, once I had been sprung from the police station, I walked back to the Embankment, where my car had been left since the arrest. It was, by this time, 6.45 in the evening and, sure enough, there on my windscreen was a Metropolitan Police parking ticket. One further thing — I have just found out from my solicitor that the copy of the interview tape sent to us by the police is entirely blank.

Nicky Samengo-Turner, formerly an investment banker, now works in the Formula 1 motor-racing industry. The Metropolitan Police said, ‘This matter is currently sub judice and as such it would be inappropriate for us to comment on any of the information in the article.’

Comment: The parallels with Nazi Germany are obvious for all to see, yet so few will "take the hint" and take action to avoid being caught in the maelstrom when it hits. US and UK citizens should make no mistake, overt fascist dictatorships in their countries is just around the corner.

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The Mediatic Corollary to the "Orange Revolution"
Réseau Voltaire
As we have been announcing for several weeks, the Ukrainian elections have led to a political crisis orchestrated by the NED/CIA that have once more used tactics that have proven themselves in Belgrade and in Tbilisi, a crisis that is the theme of our focus today. As always, in order that an operation be successful, it is also important to gain the support of international public opinion: “America’s messenger’s” are trying to establish that the majority of Ukrainians are mobilised in favour of Viktor Yushchenko and that Viktor Yanukovych is supported only by a minority of apparatchiks corrupted by Russia.

In this display of mass conviction, Ukrainians who favour Viktor Yushchenko take an essential role. We note in passing that it is impossible to find a Ukrainian journalist in the conformist Western press who is favourable to Yanukovych. The Ukrainian journalist Ivan Lozowy, in The Independent, and the journalist Veronica Khokhlova, in the New York Times, deliver a spine-tingling picture of the demonstrations in Independence Square: Ukrainians spontaneously gathered there, braving the cold and the obstacles of power to demand a change of regime and more democracy in the Ukraine. Parallel to this idyllic vision, the partisan of Viktor Yushchenko, general Evgueni Martouch, the former Minister of Defence for Viktor Yanukovych who was fired because he wished to see the Ukraine join NATO, mocks Russia in an interview in Figaro. He implicitly accuses it of orchestrating separatism in the Eastern provinces, and he accuses Kouchma of doing nothing because these provinces supported Yanukovych.

The picture of the Ukraine given by these authors is that of a country where the population peacefully militates for their rights against a power that is ready to destabilise the country with Russia’s help in order to keep control. Other than certain Ukrainians, the NED/CIA can count upon its traditional relay posts in France, issued from Atlanticist circles. Thus, in Figaro, the Soviotologist Alain Besançon, who is also a member of the New Atlantic Initiative of the American Enterprise Institute, affirms in a text dated Saturday that Yushchenko’s victory is not only important for democracy in the Ukraine, but also for Russia, because it will break up the Russian imperial dream, and, in so doing, will help democracy in Russia. Because this country cannot be both a democracy and an empire, reasoning that he doesn’t apply to his friends on the other side of the Atlantic who have, however, very concrete reasons for expanding their empire. Two days later, the same author, in the same newspaper, signed an appeal with a group of Atlanticist intellectuals supporting Viktor Yushchenko who was presented as “the legitimate candidate of democracy”! Oh, really!

In these two texts, we find the same analogies between the Russia of Vladimir Putin and the USSR that we can read in the open letter to government heads of the European Union and NATO from the 115 Atlanticists against Russia. Nothing surprising there as two of the signatories of the appeal supporting Yushchenko (Pascal Bruckner and André Glucksman) are also signatories to the open letter. We also note that most of the signatories of the text in Figaro are members of the Chechyan Committee, such as the Ukrainian journalist Ivan Lozowy, who wrote the text in The Independent. The promotion of the “Orange Revolution” is thus done by a small group of people who fully profit from their access to the media to give a picture deformed by its own influence.

In the United States, we see many fewer texts on the Ukraine than in Europe, perhaps on account of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Among the few to express himself on the subject, Matthew Spence, director of the Truman Security Project, tries less to prove the well-founded character of the “Orange Revolution” than to convince United Statesians of the pertinence of the policy of “democratisation” of the ex-Soviet countries. He affirms to the readers of the Los Angeles Times that the policy is the right one and that one mustn’t stop on the pretext that the results are not immediate. Kenneth Adelman of the Defense Policy Board, writing in the Washington Times, praises one of the successes of the US policy of “democratisation” in the former Soviet Republics: Georgia. Mikhail Saakashvili, who has given his support to the demonstrators in the Ukraine, is portrayed as a leader of integrity and a reformer, fighting corruption, and who well merited the help of the Millenium Challenge Account for having privatised Georgia’s public enterprises to the profit of the US and the Georgian diaspora. Even though he wasn’t talking about the Ukraine in this text, it is difficult not to see in his words a foretaste of Viktor Yushchenko’s program in the Ukraine if he manages to take power by the same means as the Georgian president.

The method used yesterday in Tbilisi and today in Kiev has proven itself, but it is starting to become known and to become easily identifiable. As well, a number of analysts in Britain are distancing themselves from the picture of the democrats in orange braving the cold to satisfy their democratic hunger. The Guardian’s foreign affairs correspondent, Jonathan Steele, denounces in his paper the pro-Yushchenko propaganda, reminding us that certain supporters of the West’s candidate are nostalgic for the battles against the USSR during the Second World War and that their favourite isn’t any more democratic than Yanukovych. One must recognise the hand of the CIA and its techniques of the “post-modern coup d’état” behind the demonstrations in Kiev. His analysis is shared by former British diplomat Peter Unwin who, in The Independent, begins with the postulat in order to wonder why the European Union would support Yushchenko in these conditions. He calls for pragmatism: all that the European Union can gain in this affair is Russian hostility, and this can only do it disservice. The only beneficiaries to such a crisis would be the neo-conservatives. In the 90’s, Henry Kissinger declared “It doesn’t matter if the Ukraine is democratic or not as long as it is with us”. For Unwin, it doesn’t matter if the Ukraine is a democracy as long as it doesn’t lead to a confrontation with the Russians.

The secretary of the Russian National Security Council, Igor Ivanov, recalls his country’s position in El Periodico: the Ukraine is a sovereign country with the right to choose its alliances with foreign countries for itself. In his personal estimation, however, he doesn’t think the European Union is ready to welcome the Ukraine and neither is the Ukraine ready to integrate itself into the EU. He denounces without naming them the “enemies of Russia” who remain stuck in the mindset of the cold war, as well as denouncing the logic of the Clash of Civilisations in which Russia refuses to enter.

Comment: First Georgia's "Velvet Revolution", funded and backed by the CIA. Now the same thing is playing out in the Ukraine, carefully orchestrated by US intelligence down to the tents supplied for the demonstrators so they can keep warm.

The irony of the lack of protests in the US over a rigged election there while the CIA is orchestrating the mob in Tbilisi is not lost on the rest of the world, either.

The articles in English discussed above are found next. Tomorrow we will be publishing a chronology of the events in the Ukraine prepared by Réseau Voltaire.

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We have proved that we are a nation
Ivan Lozowy
26 November 2004
As I write these words, my wife has taken our daughter to demonstrate on Independence Square. I will join them later

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the West shrugged its shoulders at a newly independent Ukraine. Some believed its statehood would not last, most simply turned away and returned to their own affairs. Ukraine seemed to be mired in a post-communist limbo and for a time it seemed the old adage about an eternally patient Slavic soul applied to Ukrainians. One popular Ukrainian folk song even begins with: "Oh, where are you wandering, my destiny?"

Yet the warning signs were there. Student protests in the Ukrainian SSR forced the republic's Prime Minister from his post back in 1990. In 2000, the "Wave of Freedom" protest movement by Ukrainian journalists swept from the western town of Lviv towards the capital of Kiev. One of its organisers was a journalist, Heorhiy Gongadze, unknown outside Ukraine at the time. The Ukrainian government headed by Leonid Kuchma, which stands accused of murdering Gongadze, ignored the danger to its hold on power.

In a deliberately shameless campaign of intimidation and falsification, the government pushed through its candidate for president, Viktor Yanukovych, in a second round of voting held last Sunday.

On election day, hundreds of election commission members from the democratic opposition were summarily expelled. Close to three million votes were cast by mobile groups of absentee voters whom the government bussed across the country so they could vote in multiple districts. Blank protocols for filling in later were submitted by subservient election commissions, polling stations were broken into, guards entrusted with election documentation were shot or beaten to death.

Even then, Yanukovych was able to muster a lead of less than 3 percentage points over his rival, Viktor Yushchenko, while exit polls indicated that, in fact, Yushchenko had won the vote by a margin of at least 8 percentage points.

Neighbouring Russia's President Vladimir Putin travelled twice to Ukraine in as many weeks in order to lend public support to Yanukovych. But this tactic backfired. Occupied for hundreds of years by the tsarist empire, Ukrainians have always been wary of the Russians. Now cries of "The Russians are coming!" can be heard and rumours are circulating that special police units from Russia are in Ukraine. First, they were said to be changing into Ukrainian police uniforms in the Irpin region, close to Kiev, then flying into Borispol airport on a chartered plane.

Russia's concern for its "near abroad", as it prefers to call the former Soviet republics, such as Ukraine, is understandable. Russia continues to base its Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine and its quest to regain world power status is integral to its psyche. Yet these concerns are as nothing to Ukrainians, because they are not our concerns.

Rejecting the advice of its northern neighbour, Russia, and given the scale and severity of election violations, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians turned out when Yushchenko called for a nationwide protest of the official election results. Earlier this week, some opposition organisers fretted that an advancing cold weather front would work in favour of the government. They worried in vain. The ranks of the demonstrators, both in Kiev and other cities in central and western Ukraine, have swelled as temperatures plunged.

Ukrainians feel an intense desire, akin to a need, to protest at unfairness. As I write these words, my wife has taken our elder daughter to demonstrate on Independence Square, if only for a few hours. If I hurry, I will be in time to join them.

What is it like to protest publicly in a semi-authoritarian state, knowing there are thousands of specially trained riot police waiting around the corner?

We know what is at stake today. Not just an election, but our very survival as citizens of a democratic country. Thus it means a lot to us that the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and some European leaders such as Chancellor Gerhard Schröder have refused to acknowledge the official results of the presidential elections.

We have other friends around the world. Yesterday, Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili wished us victory in the Ukrainian language. Today, Lech Walesa arrived from Poland in the role of mediator and gave a message of hope to the crowds massed on Independence Square.

I have never been prouder of my fellow countrymen than I am today. As Viktor Yushchenko said on the first day of the demonstrations, whatever tomorrow brings we have shown that we are a nation, proud and free. It would be as well for those who are living in the prosperous West to remember that once, they stood up for their yearning to be free as well. Because today, it is our turn. And we, also, will remember.

Ukraine's Supreme Court is authorised to rule on complaints of election violations. Yushchenko's campaign team has filed complaints asking that a number of results in districts supporting Yanukovych be annulled because of specific election violations.

The barrier is pretty high, however, since Yanukovych leads by more than 870,000 votes according to the official tally. This means that all the votes at a minimum of 500 polling stations out of Ukraine's total of 33,000 will have to be annulled for Yushchenko to take the lead.

In addition, the Supreme Court's ability to render a decisive verdict is in doubt. Ukrainians are perfectly aware that the government will stop at nothing, including putting illegitimate pressure on the judges of the Supreme Court, in order to obtain a result contrary to Yushchenko, thereby retaining power. Since the outgoing president Kuchma has openly backed Yanukovych, most people presume the two have come to some form of agreement about guarantees of safety for Kuchma.

Because the hundreds of thousands of people who have turned out to protest the massive election fraud firmly believe that their candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, won Ukraine's presidential elections, only the recognition of Yushchenko as Ukraine's next, legitimate president will satisfy their demands.

If the Supreme Court returns a verdict that does not satisfy the demonstrators' demands, the protests are unlikely to die down and the spectre of confrontation leading to violence looms larger. Yanukovych has not been sitting idly and has brought some supporters from Donetsk to Kiev, although their numbers are much smaller than those protesting on behalf of Yushchenko.

On 24 November, when the Central Electoral Commission was delivering its final decision on the vote count, a decision now frozen by the Supreme Court, only several hundred Yanukovych supporters from Donetsk were in evidence around the commission's building.

Although his supporters continuously affirm the opposite, Yanukovych is unlikely to draw on the support of thousands, much less hundreds of thousands of ordinary voters. His strength lies squarely among the police and the security services.

The author is President of the Institute of Statehood and Democracy in Kiev

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New Kids on the Bloc
Published: November 26, 2004
Kiev, Ukraine
A family friend who has a 17-year-old son told me this last week: "Young people today are so different from what we used to be, or even from what your generation is. They don't have our fear - they don't know it. But they know their rights, and they know how to defend them. They aren't scared to."

With Ukraine now gripped in a political crisis stemming from the disputed results of Sunday's presidential election, I can see what that friend meant.

For example, I have a 20-year-old friend, Tanya. When I was 16 and the Soviet Union collapsed, she was 6. Monday night, Tanya returned to Kiev, where she is a history student in college, from her hometown, Zhytomyr, where she had been observing the election.

On Tuesday morning, she, along with half a million other people, was at Kiev's Independence Square, protesting the declaration by Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych that he was the winner. From there, together with thousands of other students, she marched to Shevchenko University, whose leadership had refused to allow its students to join a growing nationwide strike.

They weren't letting anyone out of the university, Tanya told me when I ran into her that evening at a huge rally outside the Ukrainian Parliament building. The students were locked inside, she explained, but they opened all the windows, and the protesters were passing them orange flags - the symbol of the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, whom most everyone feels was cheated out of victory. One guy climbed the drainpipe to the second floor to deliver the flags, Tanya said, and the students pulled him in through the window. Soon after, the administration relented, the students were liberated, their classes canceled.

By the time of the rally that night, Tanya had been up and running for 10 hours in the freezing cold dressed only in a thin green coat, an orange scarf around her neck and orange ribbons tied into her braids. She didn't look tired or cold; as we set out in search of a quick cup of coffee, she made us stop by a loudspeaker and listen to Mr. Yushchenko addressing Parliament inside the building.

Then, as we moved again, she and her friend started singing the Ukrainian national anthem. They didn't sound phony; they were singing for themselves, not loudly, and in beautiful voices (both are members of a Ukrainian choir), and it moved me to tears.

An hour later, around 7 p.m., we were at Independence Square again, at another huge rally, listening to Mr. Yushchenko on the loudspeakers again. Tanya, along with everyone else, was shouting "Yushchenko! Yushchenko!" and I, standing next to her, found myself shouting too, with confidence and inspiration I hadn't felt before.

And over and over one hears the chant, "My razom, nas bagato, i nas ne podolaty!" ("We're together, and there are many of us, and we can't be defeated!") Three weeks ago, I would have probably said that this was what students shouted at their rallies, but now everyone does, and so many people mean it.

When opposition party leaders asked the crowd to stay in the square through the night, taking turns in order not to get too cold, Tanya started making plans for the next day. She intended to return at 6 a.m.; she must have been very tired and cold by then, but it still wasn't showing.

The past four days have taught me something valuable: when I'm watching the situation unfold on television, I grow tense, fearful that it's not going to end well. But when I return to the crowd, I feel elated, thanks to people like Tanya, tens of thousands of them, and to everyone else who's out there, people of all ages, hundreds of thousands of them, fearless.

And our international support has heartened us as well. Almost every international observer - including experts from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and from NATO - has accused the ruling party of widespread voting fraud. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the United States "cannot accept this result as legitimate." The only foreign leader who has sided with Mr. Yanukovych has been President Vladimir Putin of Russia, which, needless to say, hasn't done much for the prime minister's credibility.

Which brings up a joke I've heard a few times recently: a Ukrainian man shows up at work, all his clothes rumpled. When his colleagues ask what happened, he replies: "I turn on the TV this morning, and there's Putin praising Yanukovych. I switch to another channel, and there's Putin again, praising Yanukovych. So I switch the channels again, and there's again Putin praising Yanukovych. I turn on the radio, and Putin is there, too, praising Yanukovych. So I figured there was no use turning on the iron."

I'm not sure if it's a remake of an old Soviet joke. It may be. But it fits November 2004 in Ukraine beautifully: there's little use watching TV, what's happening now is available to everyone firsthand, out there in the streets of Kiev and other Ukrainian cities. And if the students have no fear in defending their rights, why should the rest of us?

Veronica Khokhlova, a Ukrainian journalist, writes Neeka's Backlog, a Weblog.

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Stand by Ukraine's Struggle
By Matthew Spence
Matthew Spence is a director of the Truman National Security Project and is writing a book about American democracy promotion in Russia and Ukraine. Website: www.trumanproject.org

Democracy is not born overnight. But democracy captures our collective imagination in snapshots: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the lone student standing down Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square, Nelson Mandela's inauguration as president of South Africa. These affirm our faith in the potential of freedom to triumph under fire. A potentially stolen election — as has been playing out in Ukraine — could have the opposite effect, suggesting how uncertain democracy's future is, and how little outsiders can do to support it.

We must not draw that lesson from Ukraine. Last Sunday's corrupt and condemned presidential runoff election not only threatens Ukrainian democracy but also the future of democracy promotion by the West. Regardless of who ultimately assumes power in Kiev, we must not conclude that assisting democracy is a fool's errand.

Americans are developing democracy promotion fatigue. In Iraq, we face the hard truth that democracy is more than the absence of dictatorship. American voters rarely have much tolerance for a policy requiring patience, struggle and disappointment. During the campaign, President Bush downplayed the hard work of democracy promotion, while John Kerry seemed to avoid the phrase altogether. Even the foreign aid community increasingly speaks of supporting "development" and "good government," as "democracy" becomes a four-letter word.

At the precise moment when we are looking for success in promoting democracy, Ukraine has dealt us yet another blow. Certainly, Ukrainian democracy will suffer should President Leonid D. Kuchma's handpicked successor take office despite widespread voter fraud and state interference. But last week's events should not obscure the effect of Western assistance to Ukrainian democracy over the last decade.

Examples include contributing to the end of the temniki memorandums — censorship decrees — and the survival of one of Ukraine's last independent newspapers; funding exit polls in the March 2002 parliamentary elections that helped ensure that the opposition could take the seats it actually won; and encouraging civic involvement in the policymaking process. The protests in Kiev's streets last week attest to the vibrancy of Ukrainian civil society.

These victories of democracy do not attract the same attention as last Sunday's election results. But democracy does not happen only on election day; it is based on broader change that includes a free press, civil society and rule of law.

Of course, Ukrainians deserve the bulk of the credit. No amount of Western assistance can substitute for people's willingness to risk their lives for freedom. Yet, when the opposition has few resources and faces creeping government harassment, Western assistance can and has made the difference.

This support comes in many subtle forms that we must continue: sponsoring more exit polls to undermine the government's attempts to falsify results; funding more nongovernmental organizations; and increasing attention from Western leaders to highlight the often life-threatening harassment of local journalists and civic activists.

Indeed, the international community's response to this election will powerfully shape Ukraine's trajectory for years. Western governments must continue to pressure the Ukrainian and Russian governments to accept only a full and fair accounting of the election results. This investment of diplomatic energy will create an environment for Western assistance to do more in the future.

But whatever occurs this week in Kiev, we must not forget what promoting democracy has achieved over the last decade. Americans are drawn to the idea that democracy is made with a dictator's downfall or a free election four years later. But the way we imagine democracy as a series of Kodak moments must give way to the reality that democracy promotion is about slow and steady progress, with inevitable setbacks and struggles along the way.

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Reforming Georgia
By Ken Adelman

Democracy's not had smooth sailing in the former Soviet states. Some such countries have reverted to totalitarianism, others to tin-horn dictatorships and many to kleptocracies. Overall, it's a disappointing lot.

But one place is not so dismal. In fact, it's fairly bright: Georgia.
Contrary to the Ray Charles classic, this Georgia's not on our minds. Not, at least, as it should be — especially this week on the first anniversary of its own democratic revolution. Despite its modest population — less than five million — Georgia remains the only true democracy among ex-Soviet states and in that rough neighborhood featuring Russia and Iran.

One year ago, Eduard Shevardnadze finally got the message. A man I knew fairly well when he served — nobly, to my astonishment — as foreign minister of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev.
After that historic role, Mr. Shevardnadze served ignobly as the president of Georgia. So badly that, a year ago, hundreds of thousands of Georgian protesters took to the streets — reminiscent of those stunning scenes throughout Eastern Europe in 1989 — with a simple message: It's time for you to go. While a heroic reformer in Moscow, Mr. Shevardnadze resisted real reform in Tbilisi. During his eight years in office there, Georgia stayed frozen in its backward past. Corruption became rampant. The economy kept going nowhere. Pledges of liberty remained mere words. Shevardnadze was simply unable to shake his communist past, as he had before in Moscow.
Regardless, Mikhail Saakashvili came along. This youngish, Columbia University-educated lawyer began a fresh start for Georgia. At critical moments, he was the local version of Vaclav Havel — a strict advocate of peaceful nonviolence who implored his countrymen to carry roses, not rifles.

The Rose Revolution worked there, as it had in Czechoslovakia in 1989. It ushered in a new era, one launched neither with blood on the streets nor leaders swinging from lampposts.

Two months later, Mr. Saakashvili won the presidency in an internationally-recognized landslide. Since then, he has been diligently crusading to root out corruption and repair relations with the West, particularly the United States.

While others among what President Bush dubs "the coalition of the willing" in Iraq are heading for the exits, Mr. Saakashvili is increasing Georgia's troop strength in Iraq five-fold, to 850. Georgia also has troops performing nicely in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Granted, the number of its soldiers in such global hotspots isn't staggering. But then again, neither is Georgia's population.

Recognizing Georgia's contribution, the United States is helping to train and equip many of its forces so they can contribute more in the war against terrorism. Moreover, the new U.S. foreign aid initiative, the Millennium Challenge Account, has chosen Georgia as one of the first recipients. Georgia, rare among developing states, met the strict guideposts for the Challenge Account, which overall signify "good local government." Mr. Saakashvili's anti-corruption campaign — easy to talk about as a candidate, but tougher to implement once in office — is continuing. In the past year, notoriously dishonest police officers were fired and replaced by highly-trained and better paid professionals.

And Georgia's creaking, Soviet-era tax system is now being overhauled — something badly needed here, during Mr. Bush's second term — and capped with a flat tax on personal income. Privatization is proceeding in Georgia, with big slabs of state-held property being sold to interested parties.

Such reforms are appealing — not only to Americans but also to Georgians long in the diaspora. Thousands living abroad are returning to the land of their ancestors, giving the nation a morale boost and boosting its intellectual capital. There's a "brain gain," since many returnees are highly-educated.

It's important to us, and to them, that this Georgian experiment succeed. It could be a model to other states which were part of the Soviet Union. We need a decent, successful Georgia to be on their minds, too.

Ken Adelman, a U.N. ambassador and arms control director under President Reagan, now co-hosts TechCentralStation.com, an online think-tank.

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Ukraine's postmodern coup d'etat
Jonathan Steele
Friday November 26, 2004
The Guardian
Yushchenko got the US nod, and money flooded in to his supporters

Oranges can often be bitter, and the mass street protests now going on in Ukraine may not be quite as sweet as their supporters claim.

For one thing the demonstrators do not reflect nationwide sentiments. Ukraine is riven by deep historical, religious and linguistic divisions. The crowds in the street include a large contingent from western Ukraine, which has never felt comfortable with rule from Kiev, let alone from people associated with eastern Ukraine, the home-base of Viktor Yanukovych, the disputed president-elect.

Their traditions are not always pleasant. Some protesters have been chanting nationalistic and secessionist songs from the anti-semitic years of the second world war.

Nor are we watching a struggle between freedom and authoritarianism as is romantically alleged. Viktor Yushchenko, who claims to have won Sunday's election, served as prime minister under the outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, and some of his backers are also linked to the brutal industrial clans who manipulated Ukraine's post-Soviet privatisation.

On some issues Yushchenko may be a better potential president than Yanukovych, but to suggest he would provide a sea-change in Ukrainian politics and economic management is naive. Nor is there much evidence to imagine that, were he the incumbent president facing a severe challenge, he would not have tried to falsify the poll.

Countless elections in the post-Soviet space have been manipulated to a degree which probably reversed the result, usually by unfair use of state television, and sometimes by direct ballot rigging. Boris Yeltsin's constitutional referendum in Russia in 1993 and his re-election in 1996 were early cases. Azerbaijan's presidential vote last year was also highly suspicious.

Yet after none of those polls did the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the main international observer body, or the US and other western governments, make the furious noise they are producing today. The decision to protest appears to depend mainly on realpolitik and whether the challengers or the incumbent are considered more "pro-western" or "pro-market".

In Ukraine, Yushchenko got the western nod, and floods of money poured in to groups which support him, ranging from the youth organisation, Pora, to various opposition websites. More provocatively, the US and other western embassies paid for exit polls, prompting Russia to do likewise, though apparently to a lesser extent.

The US's own election this month showed how wrong exit polls can be. But they provide a powerful mobilising effect, making it easier to persuade people to mount civil disobedience or seize public buildings on the grounds the election must have been stolen if the official results diverge.

Intervening in foreign elections, under the guise of an impartial interest in helping civil society, has become the run-up to the postmodern coup d'etat, the CIA-sponsored third world uprising of cold war days adapted to post-Soviet conditions. Instruments of democracy are used selectively to topple unpopular dictators, once a successor candidate or regime has been groomed.

In Ukraine's case this is playing with fire. Not only is the country geographically and culturally divided - a recipe for partition or even civil war - it is also an important neighbour to Russia. Putin has been clumsy, but to accuse Russia of imperialism because it shows close interest in adjoining states and the Russian-speaking minorities who live there is a wild exaggeration.

Ukraine has been turned into a geostrategic matter not by Moscow but by the US, which refuses to abandon its cold war policy of encircling Russia and seeking to pull every former Soviet republic to its side. The EU should have none of this. Many Ukrainians certainly want a more democratic system. Putin is not inherently against this, however authoritarian he is in his own country. What concerns him is instability, the threat of anti-Russian regimes on his borders, and American mischief.

The EU should therefore press for a compromise in Kiev, which might include power-sharing. More importantly, it should give Ukraine the option of future membership rather than the feeble "action plan" of cooperation currently on offer. This would set Ukraine on a surer path to irreversible reform than anything that either Yushchenko or Yanukovych may promise.

Sceptics wonder where the EU's enlargement will end, but Ukraine is undoubtedly a European nation in a way that the states of the Caucasus, of central Asia and of north Africa are not.

The EU must also make a public statement that it sees no value in Nato membership for Ukraine, and those EU members who belong to Nato will not support it. At a stroke this would calm Russia's legitimate fears and send a signal to Washington not to go on inflaming a purely European issue.

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Putin should keep his nose out of Ukraine. So should we
Peter Unwin
28 November 2004
Imagine an election in Mexico that produces a president favourable to the United States, as elections there have done for 70 years now. But this time international observers, God forbid, detect electoral abuse. Vladimir Putin demands a recount, a rerun. Consider the outcry in the US. Unthinkable? Not really. Has there ever been a really fraud-free election in Mexico?

Now consider Ukraine. For 70 years it was an intrinsic part of the Soviet Union and for centuries before that Kiev was inseparably twinned with Moscow. In 1991 it made its dash for independence. In doing so it shattered the assumptions on which the old Soviet economy and Soviet defence were built. Moscow and Kiev then tried laboriously to divide the old Soviet Union's assets between them. Over such difficult issues as nuclear weapons and the Soviet Black Sea fleet they found solutions the world approved. Their economic problems that remain can be solved only if they work together. So if any outsider has a legitimate interest in the outcome of the Ukrainian elections, President Putin does.

But was not Putin trying to prop up an unconscionable dictator? Maybe, but it is naive to think that the election was a clear clash of baddies and goodies. No one disputes that the election was at the very least deeply flawed. But it is childishness to imagine that all the abuse was on one side. Yulia Tymoshenko, for example, whom we saw on TV preaching democracy beside Viktor Yushchenko, made herself a billionaire from nothing in 10 years. The fruit of honest enterprise alone? It seems unlikely. A truly convinced democrat? Perhaps.

All the same, the Ukrainians invited in observers who have condemned the outcome of the election in forthright terms. The next move is the Ukrainians'. But for the West to go eyeball to eyeball with Putin over the outcome merely complicates Ukraine's domestic problems and takes East-West relations back a dangerous step to the bad old days. By all means tell Putin privately to keep his nose out of Ukrainian affairs - and keep our own out too.

While we are about it, we might make an effort to see Ukraine and the world through Putin's eyes. His job is to make Russia rich and strong. To do so he needs neighbours who want to co-operate with him. But in the past five years he has seen most of eastern Europe absorbed into the European Union and Nato. Fifteen years ago the Russians had an army on the Elbe. Now Nato's reach extends to within 100 miles of St Petersburg. Must Putin now ask proud Russians to accept that Ukraine too should go down that path: new elections this year, then Nato bases, then European Union membership by 2020?

For that is the road Ukraine will take if the electoral result is reversed. A new regime in Ukraine brought into power by the Western support and pressure we have seen would be bound to seek EU and Nato membership. Having intervened so egregiously in Ukrainian affairs, the West would be hard put to say no. Yet Moscow could see Nato bases in Ukraine only as a mortal threat to Russia. And with Ukraine as an EU member, Putin would see the end of his last hope of building an economic community out of the ruins of the Soviet Union.

Look at all this, lastly, in terms of western Europe's interests. Do we really want to see the EU take in 50 million Ukrainians as well as 70 million Turks? Do we want a union so disparate that it can never make itself effective as a political voice in tomorrow's world? Do we, for that matter, want an EU facing an implacably hostile Russia, hostile to us because we have so recklessly forced our way into Russia's back yard? American neo-cons may want that, but we should not.

It is time for Britain and for western Europe to get real. For too long now we have gone along with the idea that spreading democracy on our terms is all good. Where there is a real demand for it, we should do what we can to help; but democracy that grows out of the barrels of Western guns will not endure. And we have to factor in other, more old-fashioned considerations too - the need for stability in international relations, for one, the stability that comes from respecting your opponent's interests as well as your own. Acceptance of diversity, for another, of the fact that the whole world does not want to be emptied into an Anglo-Saxon mould. Acceptance, finally, of the reality that in the long run only home-grown solutions to ancient political and social problems will stick.

Peter Unwin was British ambassador to Hungary in the mid-1980s, and is the author of 'Baltic Approaches and Where East Met West'

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Yushchenko's acne points to dioxin poisoning

Federica Castellani

But experts challenge diagnosis that relies on snapshots of politician.

Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine's opposition leader, in Kiev on 19 November. A British toxicologist says his skin condition is characterisitic of dioxin poisoning.

As disputed presidential election results provoke protests in Kiev, a British toxicologist is supporting candidate Viktor Yushchenko's claim that he was poisoned earlier in the campaign.

Yushchenko, the leader of the opposition, was hospitalized with a mystery illness in September and later claimed that he had been poisoned by the government. However, the Austrian doctors who treated him denied having found any evidence of this.

John Henry, a clinical toxicologist at St Mary's Hospital, London, and a consultant for Britain's National Poisons Information Service, points out that current photos of Yushchenko's face show a dramatic transformation compared with a few months ago.

He says that Yushchenko's disfiguring acne is almost certainly 'chloracne', a characteristic symptom of dioxin poisoning.

Dioxin danger

Dioxins are a group of chlorinated organic molecules. They are long-lived and form as a by-product of many industrial processes, such as waste incineration.

Yushchenko on 2 August 2004, before his mystery illness

Exposure to dioxins is known to increase the risk of cancer and can cause severe reproductive and developmental problems.

The most toxic dioxin is a compound called 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, or TCDD. In 1976, an industrial explosion in Seveso, Italy, released 20 kilograms of dioxins into the atmosphere, causing the highest known exposure of any population to TCDD.

Skin lesions similar to burns appeared on some children a few hours after the accident. Two months later, chloracne broke out on the people most exposed to the cloud.

Snap judgement

Marcello Lotti, an expert in occupational medicine at the University of Padua, Italy, questions the validity of Henry's conclusion. He argues that it is impossible to make such a diagnosis simply by looking at a photo.

Lotti adds that he would be surprised if anyone were to select dioxin as a poison. "Dioxins have only modest toxicity and you would need an extremely high dose to get chloracne," he says. "Only kilos of contaminated food, administered over several days, would give you chloracne."

Henry admits that he does not have any toxicological evidence to back up his claim. "My diagnosis is from the photo and from the medical report of him being normal two months earlier," he says.

"Very few medical conditions give this type of transformation in such a short time," he points out.

Henry also argues that it would be possible to produce the effect seen in Yushchenko's face from a single high dose of dioxin hidden in food.

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Global economy to hit headwinds next year: OECD
November 30, 2004

PARIS - China, Japan and North America will pull the global economy forward over the next two years despite headwinds thrown up by high oil prices and tenacious deficits, the OECD predicted.

The OECD forecast economic growth of 2.9 percent in 2005 for its 30 member countries, not including China, down from 3.6 percent this year.

But high oil prices and rise of the euro clouded the outlook, notably for Europe.

Global growth should pick up to 3.1 percent in 2006, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said in its twice-yearly economic outlook.

The ongoing economic recovery "will benefit from continued Asian dynamism", the OECD forecast.

It pointed to growth in China "where activity accelerated in the third quarter, following a desirable slowdown during the first half of the year".

The OECD also highlighted Japan "which has staged a spectacular comeback" that has marked a pause in the past few months.

"The strength of this recovery will also be enhanced by positive developments in North America. [...]

Comment: Nothing to see here. The US economy won't crash, the world economy will not be affected, and all is right with the world...

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Wealthy City trader killed

Tuesday November 30, 2004

A wealthy bond dealer and prominent City figure has been murdered at his home in one of Britain's plushest neighbourhoods.

John Monckton, a director with Legal & General, and his wife Homeyra were stabbed and seriously injured when two men forced their way into the house last night.

They were found by their nine-year-old daughter who was in the house at the time. The couple had another daughter, aged 12, who was not home at the time of the murder.

Mr Monckton died later in hospital and his wife underwent "significant" surgery. Mrs Monckton remains in a serious condition.

Mr Monckton was a cousin of Rosa Monckton, a close friend of Princess Diana, who is married to Dominic Lawson, the editor of the Sunday Telegraph.

Detectives have appealed for any witnesses who saw two men running from the scene in Upper Cheyne Row to contact police.

Detective Superintendent Mark Jackson said police would speak to Mrs Monckton when she recovered from surgery.

A statement released by Mr Monckton's family described him as a "incredibly gentle and thoughtful man".

The statement read: "The Monckton family is profoundly shocked by the murder of John Victor and the attack on Homeyra.

"Obviously our thoughts are very much with her and her children. John Victor was an incredibly gentle and thoughtful man.

"Apart from his outstanding career in the City, he also devoted a great deal of his time to charitable works. We are all praying for him."

Borough Commander Dominic Clout said: "This morning I have got a community in shock. This is a tragic, tragic murder."

The youths, described as 5ft 3ins to 5ft 6ins tall, were seen making their way towards Glebe Place in the direction of the Kings Road.

Anyone who witnessed anyone acting suspiciously in the area at that time should the Incident Room on 020 8358 0400 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Murder without motive baffles police

30 Nov

THE cold and calculated nature of the murder of a young Highland banker on his doorstep has sparked speculation of a hitman killing.

Detectives, baffled by the shooting in Nairn, are trawling though Alistair Wilson’s business papers and dealings in a bid to establish a motive as a massive hunt continued for his killer.

Mr Wilson, 30, a father of two, was shot by a lone gunman who called at his house in the quiet seaside town on Sunday evening. Mr Wilson was shot three times at close range and died shortly afterwards as his wife tried desperately to get help.

As Nairn woke up yesterday to its first murder for 18 years, Mr Wilson’s friends and colleagues said they could not understand why anyone would want to kill a man they described as compassionate and caring and who hated confrontation.

Police are unable to say whether it was a grudge shooting, or even a case of mistaken identity.

Mr Wilson and his wife Veronica, 33, were putting their two children, Graham, four, and Andrew, two-and-a-half, to bed at about 7:15pm when the doorbell rang at their three-storey detached house in Nairn’s Crescent Road. Mrs Wilson answered the door to a man who asked to speak to her husband.

Mr Wilson then came to the door and, after a brief conversation, was shot. The killer then ran off in the direction of Marine Road and vanished.

After hearing the gunshots Mrs Wilson went to the door and found her husband lying in a pool of blood. She ran across the road to the Havelock House Hotel to raise the alarm.

Witnesses saw the killer run off and said he was white, clean shaven, about 5ft 6in tall, aged 35-40 and was wearing a baseball cap and blouson jacket.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter MacPhee of the Northern Constabulary, said the killing was "horrendous". He added: "There would appear to be absolutely no motive for this despicable crime.

"One of the aspects we will have to look at is whether this was work-related or not. But on the face of it, it is motiveless."

DCI MacPhee said the killer was at the door for about five minutes. There was little conversation with either Mr or Mrs Wilson and he had no discernible accent.

He could not confirm what type of weapon was used or where Mr Wilson was shot, although it is thought he was hit twice in the head and once in the body.

Immediately after the killing roadblocks were set up on routes in and out of the town and officers, some of them armed, hunted for the gunman.

Yesterday, Crescent Road and about a square mile around the murder scene was sealed off as officers combed the area for clues to the killing.

A 40-strong enquiry team continued house-to-house enquiries in the hope of turning up other vital clues to events before and after the shooting. Officers will also study footage from CCTV cameras positioned outside the Braeval Hotel, a few yards from Mr Wilson’s home.

Officers have been drafted in to take part in the massive manhunt, which is involving other police forces.

The killing has shocked the quiet and peaceful town. Sandy Park, Nairn’s provost, said: "This is devastating. The whole community is numbed by the news and that something as horrendous as this can happen in a place like Nairn.

"It’s not something you expect in a place like this. It’s horrific and the fact that he was such a young man with a young family just makes it worse."

Gentle banker who hated confrontation

ALISTAIR Wilson was shot dead in the week he was due to leave his present job and was about to start a new career path.

Mr Wilson was to leave his post as a new business manager with the Bank of Scotland, based in Inverness, on Friday. He was expected to start a new job with a company involved in environmental projects on 15 December.

Yesterday, business colleagues said they were horrified at his death in such violent circumstances and were at a loss to find a possible motive.

One long-time friend said: "He was a very gentle guy who hated any form of confrontation. He was very family-orientated and non-aggressive. If anyone got a bit heated then Alistair was the one who would try to calm things down.

"He was so well-liked, totally conscientious. It’s hard to comprehend why anyone would want to kill Alistair. He a was a decent, caring guy. Everyone who knew him is completely numbed by all this."

Another said: "He was not the sort of guy to have any enemies which makes this all the more difficult to understand. It’s just horrendous. I am sure other business people will now be worried."

Another businessman who knew Mr Wilson in Inverness added: "I had numerous dealings with him at the bank and he was a pleasant, charming man. You would not expect someone like him to be a victim of such a terrible incident."

A spokesman for the Bank of Scotland said: "Alistair was a highly valued colleague at the bank and our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time."

Mr Wilson, 30, originally from Ayrshire, joined the Bank of Scotland in 1996 as an accountancy and business law graduate. He started in the bank’s Fort William branch before moving to the PFI and specialist lending sections in Edinburgh. In 1999, he moved to the business banking centre in the bank’s offices in the Beechwood business park on the outskirts of Inverness.

In May 2003, he was appointed the joint leader of a new Bank of Scotland Business Banking team in Inverness, part of the HBOS group, targeting small and medium-sized firms from Orkney to Oban, and from the Western Isles to Moray.

He and his wife bought their current home, Lothian House, nearly three years ago.

It was originally run as a small hotel, but, about a year ago, the couple ended the business and turned the property back into a family home.

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General strike cripples Italy
November 30, 2004

ROME - Italy ground to a halt as millions of workers observed a general strike to protest against the economic policies of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right government.

Industries across the country came to a standstill as columns of demonstrators filed through the centres of Rome, Turin, Milan, Venice and other main cities.

Unions claimed more than a million protesters had taken to the streets as public service workers went on strike for eight hours and other sectors opted for four-hour stoppages. [...]

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Ireland's first 'designer baby' conceived in Co Down

Ireland's first so-called "designer baby" has reportedly been conceived in Co Down.

Reports this morning said the baby was conceived by a couple hoping to save their two-year-old son, who suffers from a rare form of anaemia and needs a stem-cell transplant.

Neither his parents nor his brother are a match, but the child's mother is now pregnant with an embryo that was specifically selected to donate tissue.

Doctors had created a number of embryos, which were subsequently screened to identify one that matched the tissue of the two-year-old.

The process went ahead following a decision earlier this year by the British government's fertility watchdog to lift a ban on the implantation of specially selected embryos for the purpose of saving a sibling.

Opponents of the procedure fear the new rules could allow parents to "engineer" their offspring to have desirable traits and to eliminate undesirable characteristics.

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Earthquake rocks northern Japan
29 November 2004 2134 hrs
By Channel NewsAsia's Japan Bureau Chief Michiyo Ishida

TOKYO : At least 13 people were hurt by a powerful earthquake that rumbled through northern Japan on Monday.

The quake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale sparked a tidal wave alert and evacuation orders, and warnings of strong aftershocks to come.

Several hours before dawn, Japanese cities in eastern Hokkaido experienced a powerful tremor.

Parts of roads collapsed and some schools were closed, while up to 1,500 households lost power temporarily.

But no serious damage was reported as the hardest hit area was relatively sparsely populated. [...]

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Vietnam flood kills dozens
Tuesday 30.11.2004, CET 03:37

HANOI (Reuters) - Floods and landslides have killed at least 40 people in Vietnam and 42 are missing, officials say, and elderly wooden houses inundated at a world heritage site are in danger of collapsing.

The floods, sparked by torrential rains from Typhoon Muifa last week, have submerged 170,000 houses in five provinces and destroyed roads, cutting food relief to many areas.

Thousands of people have fled their homes and an official said on Monday 270,000 people in just one of the affected provinces needed urgent help. [...]

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Drought critical in South Africa
www.chinaview.cn 2004-11-30 02:08:12

JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- A drought in part of grain-producing regions of South Africa has become critical with little time left to plant next year's harvest, Grain SA said on Monday.

Grain SA chairman Bully Botma said, "Although rain fell this weekend in some western production areas, it was too little and not spread out well enough for farmers to start planting."

About 25 to 40 mm of rain fell in the Schweizer Reneke districtof North West province, enough for farmers there to plough, but insufficient to plant. [...]

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Update: More whales dead and stranded off Australia's south coast

29 November 2004 1048 hrs
HOBART : A second pod of 17 whales has died in a mysterious mass beaching on King Island in the Bass Strait off Australia's south coast following the fatal stranding of 80 whales and dolphins at the weekend.

Another 50 pilot whales were also reported to have stranded themselves on Maria Island, some 500 kilometres (300 miles) away to the south east of Australia's island state of Tasmania. [...]

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