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Picture of the Day

An anti-Bush protester is silhouetted by the early morning sun against his modified US flag.
(AP PHOTO/Michael Lea-The Whig-Standard)

Canyon in the heart
By John Kaminski
An abyss of icy silence
divides those who care
from those who don't

In my dream I am looking out over the edge of a vast cliff, searching the infinite distance for a word. How to describe the great divide between these two warring factions of the American psyche?

In the distance I seem to see two people standing back to back, staring off in different directions. Their teeth are clenched hard. Both are certain of their vision.

One, wrapped righteously in his beloved flag, figments fearscapes of terror, exploding skyscrapers, dead relatives ... and in his anger, seethes for the chance to lash out, like some vampire vigilante, at those he has been told did — or might do — these demon deeds.

The other, wracked by an inner pain of fruitless frustration, hears the screams, too, but they are the agonized death spasms of those who are the targets of America's retributive rage. He mourns for those who were nowhere near the scene of the crime, yet simply because of their language and their appearance, they have been deemed guilty and consequently are blown to pieces — bloody fragments of little children in the dust — by high-tech weapons that we all paid for.

This willing blindness that enables America to commit serial mass murder with no second thoughts is not entirely caused by media spin, although that plays a significant part. But there really are two different kinds of American people. And right now there is no communication between them.

Those who see and those who won't? Those who care and those who don't?

No, that's too simplistic.

Those who oppose America's grandiose slaughter in Iraq are called naive by those who support it. After all, there are acts of terror to be avenged, fair trials be damned!

Those who applaud the widespread killing by Americans in Third World countries are called heartless maniacs by those who oppose it, and try desperately to make their brothers see the slick men on TV are lying to everyone about practically everything.

Two men, back to back, countrymen yet enemies. Two factions, paralyzed by an enraged silence. One, bloodthirsty and implacable. The other, witnessing, perhaps, the end of civilization as we know it.

Those who think the world is a bank to be robbed, and those who think it is a garden to be tended? Those who are in on the scam and those who are victims of the heist?

Again, tending toward too simple. More and more, the weight that tilts the see-saw tends to be the media.

People make their decisions based on what they hear. What they hear tends to be from TV, or from those who still read, newspapers. More and more, TV and newspapers are owned by large corporations who are connected, by boards of directors of even larger corporations, to the companies who make the weapons.

Those who believe America is right to exterminate an entire nation tend to get their information from television, which reinforces their choice by showing nothing of the suffering of foreign peoples, ordinary families who speak other languages, being burned to death by napalm, or ravaged by flesh-piercing cluster bombs, heads blown apart like pumpkins by special ammunition designed to do just that, all the while, American boys, laughing at their high scores, in the time before they realize they will kill themselves for what they've done, if they don't first perish from the poisons their government told them it was safe to handle ... facing one way.

And those who believe the American government is a criminal corporation that fixes its own elections, kills its own citizens, and has plans for billions of unfortunate souls that are simply too demonically tragic for most to even contemplate, screaming into the icy silence of the cadaverous heart the American political conscience has become .... facing the other way.

Those who believe, against all logic, that innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq were somehow a threat to the United States and should be killed with inhuman impunity, and those people educated in excess of the standard American public school brainwashing who realize that people are the same everywhere, and that the worth of a person is not dependent on the language they speak, the color of their skin, what they wear, or what religion they prefer.

Fact is, on a daily basis, Americans are killing innocent people who never did anything bad to us, and some people think that's a good thing, while others, including most of the rest of the world, consider it an unforgivable abomination, a needless display of public insanity that has suddenly and regrettably befallen all of America.

How does one conduct a dialogue between two groups so certain of their observations?

Why this polarization is significant is that there seems to be no basis for communication between the two factions. And that's a very bad sign.

Because when there is no talk, there is only war. And when there is war, as the people of Afghanistan and Iraq know so well, nobody wins, really.

Or, the only winners are those who are not involved in the fighting. Perverted billionaires who control the media and military contractors may be wringing their sweaty hands in a kind of pederastic glee, but everybody who's actually in the war, whether they are on the winning side or not, they're all losers. Big time.

Just ask the bereaved fiancee who just wrote me about her true love's untimely death while attacking Fallujah, who begged me to support the U.S. war effort. I had to tell her, hard as it was, that her future husband died for nothing, nothing more than the ill-gotten gains of Halliburton and Bush's other criminal friends.

I asked her to imagine her own town being attacked by high-tech savages who were lying about the reasons they were there, but she just couldn't, understandably enough, buried in the rubble of own grief.

In the same vein, much has been made about the religious pretensions of President Bush as he orders the mass murders of innocent people for reasons that have been long revealed to the public to be blatant lies.

So the character of the great divide in the American psyche becomes a little clearer. And oddly, the religious perspective is now identified with the side of evil. What justification could there be for killing innocent people for reasons everyone knows are lies. Yet George W. Bush says God told him to smite Afghanistan, and then Iraq.

The philosopher A. C. Grayling of the University of London noted exactly that a few weeks back.

"Why are the churches given a privileged – almost, indeed, an exclusive – position in the social debate about morality, when they are arguably the least competent organisations to have it?" he asked.

" ... religious morality is not merely irrelevant, it is anti-moral" Grayling argued.

"The great moral questions of the present age are those about human rights, war, poverty, the vast disparities between rich and poor, the fact that somewhere in the third world a child dies every two and a half seconds because of starvation or remediable disease. The churches' obsessions over pre-marital sex and whether divorced couples can remarry in church appears contemptible in the light of this mountain of human suffering and need. By distracting attention from what really counts, and focusing it on the minor and anyway futile attempt to get people to have sex only when the church permits, harm is done to the cause of good in the world."

"Asking them to take an especially authoritative line on moral matters is like asking the fox to set the rules for fox-hunting. Churchmen are people with avowedly ancient supernatural beliefs who rely on moral casuistry which is two thousand years out of date; it is extraordinary that their views should be given any precedence over those that could be drawn from the richness of thoughtful, educated, open-minded opinion otherwise available in society."

Could anything be clearer? Could there be any clearer advertisement for religion than George W. Bush, who goes to war on the basis of lies, commits genocide, kills his own citizens, fixes elections, and lies about everything .... and says he takes orders from Jesus? Could it be any clearer?

This impenetrable divide that separates Americans who say they are religious and yet violate every known teaching of Jesus by cheering the mass murder of innocent people from those who see the higher law of human compassion and honesty being violated on a daily basis by the pious psychopaths who have hijacked the American republic may not be crossed, except by bullets.

The words necessary to close the gap and heal this grisly wound that threatens the very life of America are lost — drowned out — by the constant war chants of the corporate TV fools and the echoing, approving chorus from the pulpits of most of the Christian churches and Jewish temples in America. You can't talk sense to psychopaths and that it what religions have become — a pathetic psychopathy that causes otherwise rational humans to suspend their belief in honesty and justice and believe things that are not true ....

Number one, like Muslims had anything to do with 9/11. That's the biggest lie of all right now, and it has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, all unnecessary. Those who are cheering these deaths are American churchgoers. And their cheers, their hosannahs to mass death, can be heard all over the world, in the stories of the bloodbath in Iraq.

Listen, right now, in the silence of the canyon of your heart — you can hear it. America's righteous religion. God tells George W. Bush what to do. Kill all those who oppose you. Take what you want from those who have what you want. Hey, it's in the Bible, which is also the Torah. Leviticus. Deuteronomy. All over the place.

Listen to the sound. The American sound of mass death. It is evil, and it is religious. In the silence of the canyon of your heart, it is all you can hear, and no words can blot it out.

John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida whose Internet essays have been collected into two anthologies, the latest of which is titled "The Perfect Enemy."

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Iraq: bayonets, bullets and votes
BY JUAN DUFFLAR AMEL—Special for Granma International—

THE fictitious "American dream" of a world of peace, liberty, democracy, and universal suffrage does not apply to Iraq, a country invaded, occupied, and devastated by the war machinery and troops of the United States. Washington's aim of legitimizing through "general elections" a genocide that has cost the lives of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians and destroyed millenary cultural, historical and religious values is not only a crime against humanity but also an insult to universal intelligence. Elections have been convened for January 30 by a spurious government lacking authority or popular support, but appointed by the White House and led by a puppet-prime minister, Iyad Allawi, backed up by his long career in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

War media experts, under the direction of the US intelligence services and the Pentagon, are utilizing unspeakable means to convince the international community and public opinion in their own country that a suitable climate of political stability and pacification prevails in Iraq for the organization of general elections so that Iraqi citizens can elect a constitutional government. Nothing could be more perverse and absurd.

President George W. Bush initiated his second mandate at the White House by ordering operation Phantom Fury, the final attack on the martyred Sunni city of Falluja, in order to "facilitate" the right to vote.

In response to their master's voice, a ferocious pack of 10,000 US soldiers and 2,000 Iraqis were launched themselves on that rebel bastion, protected by the martial law decreed by the servile Allawi, who gave them a license to kill.

The atrocious butchery perpetrated by US assault troops in Falluja after a 10-week siege; the indiscriminate bombardments of warplanes, tanks, and mortars; the vile massacre of wounded prisoners, finished off at close range; and the almost total destruction of the city have not succeeded in forcing the surrender of resistance combatants who, in the midst of smoking ruins, continue fighting face to face and house by house against an enemy one hundred times stronger.

Like Guernica, Lidice, Son My, and My Lai, Falluja is a martyred city, but at the same time it has become the symbol of the people's rejection of the foreign invader. Falluja will always be remembered for its patriotic fighters' courage and boldness.

Although the United States applied a scorched-earth policy in Falluja, like the lava from an erupting volcano, the insurgency has extended throughout the entire Iraqi geography.

Mosul, Ramada, Baquba, Kerbala, Balad, Kirkuk, Baiji, Samarra and other cities are the scenario of confrontations with the US troops and their allies, while downtown Baghdad is daily shaken by by car-bomb explosions and attacks by suicide commandos, and oil and gas pipelines are being set alight in rebel sabotage acts.

The U.S. government is paying a high cost in human lives, and at an economic and political level in a war that is viewed as a strategic error and one, for many analysts and observers, that has already been lost.

Since May 1, 2003, when Bush announced the end of the large-scale military operations in Iraq, more than 1, 200 US soldiers have died in action and a further 10,000 have been wounded or mutilated. The cost of the invasion and occupation of this Arab nation are in the range of billions of dollars.

It is in the midst of this tragic panorama of death, desolation, extreme violence and civilian insecurity that the White House has convened – via its local puppets – the holding of elections "without excuses or pretexts."

Nevertheless, the non-viability of a popular consultation in the midst of this chaos has been appreciated by 15 Iraqi political parties, including the one led by Allawi, and they have called for the a six-month postponement, given the "insecurity, suicide attacks, and insufficient technical, political, and administrative preparations."

But at Washington's orders, the interim government's request has been denied, as Bush has already given his instructions, affirming that the electoral commission has established that elections should be held in January, and he expects them to be held in January.

It is worth noting that the electoral commission is only the product of a "homemade constitution," hastily cooked up last March without a plebiscite or a referendum.

If the elections do go ahead, they will be guarded by US boots, bullets, and bayonets, as in order to "guarantee" Iraqi citizens' votes, Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defense, has promised to send in another 40,000 soldiers to that suffering Arab nation.

It is here were the calculations of the U.S. president and other hawks fall down.

These elections are doomed to failure! 

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Everyone is a potential torturer news service
19:00 25 November 04 
All humans are capable of committing torture and other "acts of great evil". That is the unhappy conclusion drawn from an analysis of psychological studies. 

Over 25,000 psychological studies involving eight million participants support this finding, say Susan Fiske and colleagues at Princeton University in New York, US. 

The researchers considered the circumstances surrounding how individuals committed seemingly inexplicable acts of abuse in the midst of the US military's torture of Iraqi inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 and 

"Could any average 18-year-old have tortured these prisoners? I would have to answer: 'Yes, just about anyone could have.'", Fiske says. 

Many forms of behaviour, including acts of cruelty, are influenced as much by authority figures, peer pressure and other social interactions as by the psychology of the individual, she says. 

"If we don't understand the importance of social context and accept that almost anybody could commit acts of torture under certain circumstances, then we are setting ourselves up for situations where Abu Ghraib [atrocities] will occur again," Fiske warns. 

Peer pressure 

The researchers identified situations where individuals feel provoked, stressed or taunted -- such as during war -- as conducive to causing aggressive acts. And they say that the need to conform to their peer group and obey those in authority -- or act in a way that they believe their superiors would approve of -- could lead individuals to behave in a way that they would usually consider unacceptable. 

"Certainly, acts of torture can be committed by almost everyone -- not just psychopaths," says Ian Robbins, a clinical psychologist who has treated victims of torture and torturers themselves at the traumatic stress service in St George's Hospital, London, UK. 

"A process of 'grooming' occurs, whereby the perpetrator is introduced to small acts of abuse -- perhaps an occasional slap -- and then over time these acts of abuse are built up to levels of extreme torture," he says. "All this is carried out in a social context of acceptability, where the perpetrator is made to feel special for carrying out the abuse, and it is singled out as a special secret activity." 

Fiske points out that the alienation and exclusion of certain groups renders them "contemptible, subhuman and disgusting" in the eyes of the torturer, making abuse of such dehumanised victims far easier to carry out. 

And she points out that strongly cohesive social populations such as the military can either encourage prejudice -- as in the case of the treatment of Iraqi prisoners -- or actively discourage it. For example, the US military offers the country's best example of racially integrated cooperation between black and white Americans, she observes. 

Climate of disrespect 

"Our national leadership could act to see everyone as equal and connected, or as foreigners who can be ignored and excluded. If Iraqis fought alongside the US military, it would be harder for soldiers to dehumanise Iraqi prisoners," she says. 

Robbins believes the general US prejudice against other nations is deeply ingrained. "Calling Iraqi nationals 'insurgents', 'ragheads' or 'baddies' automatically dehumanises them and leads to a climate of disrespect," he says. 

But, as the researchers note, there are always those few individuals who dissent from the group -- "whistle-blowers" who alert authorities to abuse and prevent it continuing. 

"People who opt out often have a strong sense of moral values or religious conviction that allows them to override their natural inclination to follow their superiors or fit in with their peer group," Robbins says. But they are few, and because under certain circumstances almost anyone can commit torture, situations that could foster an atmosphere of abuse must be controlled, he believes. 

"Any processes involving locking people up and interrogation need to be open to public scrutiny and not carried out by the military in secret," he told New Scientist. 

"I find it extremely frightening that the American military in the Pentagon have been discussing which kinds of torture are acceptable and which are not," he adds. 

Comment: Sure...  We "all" are simply reaction machines and must be controlled by "Nanny government" to behave ourselves and not torture.  Once again, we have a study by and for OPs coming out of Princeton to reinforce the "agenda" of the PTB.  

GI threatens suicide over return to Iraq
By Frank Washkkuch
Dec 1, 2004, 08:32

STRATFORD — A serviceman, apparently distraught over the prospect of being sent back to the war in Iraq, threatened to kill himself as he stood naked and screaming outside his house.

Police took the man into custody at his Fernwood Drive house. He was taken for treatment to Bridgeport Hospital.

Dispatched to investigate a report of a possible suicide attempt Thursday, officers saw the man naked with blood on his body in front of the garage area, police said. As officers approached, the man yelled at them and ran back into the house, according to police.

After struggling with officers, the man told police that he was scheduled to be sent back to Iraq in January, but didn't want to because he would be forced to kill more people, police said.
The man, who said that he had been drinking, told officers that "he just wanted to die," police said.

After Stratford Emergency Medical Services transported the man to Bridgeport Hospital, he attempted to grab a guard by the throat before he was subdued and placed in restraints, police said.

Officers recovered a kitchen knife, a pair of metal clamps, green ropes and suicide notes covered with blood from the house, according to police. [...]

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US Building Big Army Base Near Iran Border
Nov 30, 2004, 09:24

KABUL -- The US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan are working on a military base near the country's western border with Iran. Locals told the Pajhwok news agency that US forces have been sketching and surveying the land for two months for a 300-hectare airbase in the desert area of Holang, in Ghorian district of Herat province, just 45 kilometres from the Iranian frontier. Some military commentators believe the development could be linked to rising tensions between the United States and Iran, but the US military and the Afghan government say the base is being built for the Afghan National Army. The Combined Forces' Command in Kabul confirmed that it is building the base, but strongly rejected the suggestion that it would be only for the coalition forces.

"The US government is building a military base in Ghorian in order to provide transportation facilities for the Afghan National Army," the press office told Pajhwok on Saturday. It declined to comment on whether the base might be seen as a threat by Iran, or how long it would take to complete the project. The US Provincial Reconstruction Team in Herat said the base would be used for training Afghan National Army soldiers. There has been no reaction from Iran so far.

"We will express our view after contacting relevant authorities inside my country, who will assess this issue," Mohammad Ali Najafi, the Iranian consul in Herat, said. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in Kabul said it was not aware of this issue. The presidential spokesman, Javid Ludin, commented: "The coalition forces have the permission to act against terrorism and for the peace and stability of Afghanistan, and to build a base for that purpose.

 He added that no action will be taken without agreement from the government. Some believe the construction of a base that close to the border could provoke Iranian opposition. "Creation of a base in a place completely dominating Iranian airspace could provoke an argument from Iran," said Gen Nader Azemi, a commander of the ANA in Herat. But he praised the action as good for security in Herat, in addition to providing full control over the shared border of Afghanistan with Iran. Local residents confirmed that the US military has been working on a base, with some of them supporting the plan, but others fear the US forces.

Comment: Gee, they wouldn't be building this base in preparation for their upcoming attack against Iran, would they? A two-pronged assault launched simultaneously from Iraq and Afghanistan may be just the thing to bring those evil "nuclear-reactor building" Iranians to their knees. In any case, with a 300-hectare airbase, it looks like the U.S. military is planning to occupy the area permanently.

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RIA Novosti political commentator Vladimir Simonov

(MOSCOW) - Western Europe seems to have accepted the American theory that the presidential election in Ukraine was rigged.

Washington and Old European capitals, in particular Berlin, demand a repetition of the second round of the election.

But respected European organizations disagree. The British Helsinki Human Rights Group, whose observers sat in election districts in Ukraine, is convinced that the election was honest.

Does anyone in Europe know about the Group's opinion? No. The Ukrainian news circulated in Europe is screened to favor opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko and all other views are discarded as spam.

Mesmerized by the American position, Europe believes not its own unbiased human rights activists but EU and OSCE observers who had previously praised the "democratic" nature of elections in Afghanistan and Kosovo. They disregard the fact that the will of hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Kosovo Serbs had not been taken into account.

As a result, few people in Russia doubt that the Western charges about the Ukrainian election are based on double standards. But the Moscow political elite is not accusing the West of a new fit of Russophobia. The West is not united, they say, seeing as the Friendly West those who had thought and still think that the crux of the cold war was to fight against global communism for democracy. These forces are Russia's allies, because nobody in the world suffered from communism more than Russia, a country that chose democracy without outside prompting.

But frankly speaking, other forces, which interpret the cold war as a never-ending West-Russia confrontation, are also very strong in the US and Europe. They believe that the Russian threat is a perpetual motion machine that needs no winding. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is rebuilding itself as an authoritarian power confronting the Western civilization, say these ideologists.

Their conclusion is categorical: The West must save the states in Russia's geopolitical orbit from its influence. In plain English, it means the creation of a sanitary cordon around Russia in post-Soviet territory. The neo-conservative forces of the West are playing for new markets, production sites, and areas of political and military control. One of their recent steps toward this goal was exploiting the dissatisfaction of the smaller part of Ukrainian voters with President Leonid Kuchma in an attempt to tear Ukraine away from Russia under the pretext of the "illegitimacy" of the presidential election there.

They selected their instruments for this operation long ago. Practice shows that the use of anarchy in the streets is an excellent way to achieve the political distortion of post-Soviet territory.

Few people do not see that the street actions by the Ukrainian opposition are a well-orchestrated project launched with foreign financial assistance. The Guardian has estimated the payment to student team leaders, the daily funds issued to the demonstrators, the coast of field kitchens with hot meals, 1,200 tents ($200 each), giant LCD displays in the squares, and warm clothes and footwear issued free at $15 million. If a newspaper of Washington's main ally, Britain, writes this, it means that the ears of the organizers and financiers of these actions are sticking out, indeed.

Anyone observing developments in Ukraine has a strong feeling of deja vu. We have seen this in Yugoslavia, Georgia and Belarus, where the same scenario of seizing power was employed. They are trying to tell the citizens of post-Soviet countries that crucial political, election and constitutional issues can be settled by the mob.

That scenario was first used successfully by an army of US political experts, consultants and diplomats, as well as local parties and public organizations in Yugoslavia in 2000. The conductor of that orchestra was Richard Miles, then American ambassador in Belgrade. Last year, American Ambassador in Tbilisi Mr. Miles used the same scheme, advising Mikhail Saakashvili on how to overthrow Eduard Shevardnadze. Some time later, American Ambassador in Minsk Michael Kozak, a veteran of such operations in Central America, organized a similar campaign against Alexander Lukashenko. But his attempt failed, as Mr. Lukashenko's handling of the opposition is notoriously harsh.

Like in the above three countries, students became the main striking force of the opposition in Ukraine. The only difference is the names of the youth organizations: Otpor in Yugoslavia, Kmara in Georgia, Zubr in Belarus, and Pora in Ukraine. The common element is that all of these student organizations were set up with the money of Western sponsors. The same instructors trained the post-Soviet young people in the art of controlling the crowd, storming buildings, and erecting barricades.

So, these are not public outrages proper. The public was simply attracted to the orchestrated revolutions as extras. The conclusion is that Western political experts are turning civil disobedience into a method of ensuring victory at elections in foreign countries.

This is how Russia sees it. But I am worried about the trap that has been laid for Old Europe in Ukraine. The US is seriously concerned that the EU may escape its control. Remember how France and Germany quarreled with the US over Iraq? Now Washington and Brussels are at loggerheads over the EU Common Security and Defense Policy. The White House fears this would undermine the status of NATO, the main instrument of its policy in Europe. Washington does not want to lose control of Europe and is ready to do a great deal to retain it.

Let us discuss a plan that may turn out to be not as hypothetical as it seems at first glance. What if the key idea implemented by Washington in the smoking Ukrainian crisis is not just to tear Ukraine away from Russia? What if it wants to subsequently link it (or at least its western part) to Poland and possibly Lithuania, in a kind of revival of Rzeczpospolita, the Polish Commonwealth on a common territory with the aggregate population of about 90 million?

By doing this, Washington would raise the status of Poland, its main ally in the new EU, making it equal to France and Germany and thus preventing the latter countries from strengthening the common foreign policy of the EU. Moreover, Poland's claim to being a representative of Central and Eastern Europe is easily seen in the ambitious conduct of Warsaw, in particular, in debates about conditions for the expansion of the EU and its Constitution, where Poland was the chief troublemaker.

In other words, Washington seems to have divided the EU into Old and New Europe and is ready to crown Poland the king of the latter. One way of attaining this goal is to make Ukraine a protectorate of Poland.

Look at the main theoretician of the rift between Ukraine and Russia - it is Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security adviser to the US president. And who has assumed so vigorously the role of the main organizer of the Pora youth movement? It is Adrian Karatnycky, a friend and disciple of Mr. Brzezinski and head of Freedom House, an allegedly nonaligned and nonprofit structure dedicated to the promotion of democracy worldwide. The scriptwriters of the Ukrainian events are of Polish descent.

The scenario of forcing Viktor Yushchenko on the people appears to be American-Polish and looks like a trap for Old Europe. This project is directed not only against Russia but also against France and Germany. By helping the Americans to crown Mr. Yushchenko in Ukraine, France and Germany are unwittingly cooking a serious problem for themselves in the EU.

Comment: From reading Ukrainian news sources, it is clear that the election was rigged. It also looks quite possible that Yanukovich will be seeking political asylum in Moscow.

Was Putin that stupid? Hard to believe. Is he being blackmailed? Is he a part of a bigger game? Possibly...

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Ukraine: The Street Against the People
Réseau Voltaire

In order to change the regime in the Ukraine, the CIA ordered exit polls that they presented as definite even before the counting of the votes. It sent out thousands of observers, recruited through the intermediary of Eastern European associations, to cry out about the falsification of the elections. Finally, it paid thousands of cadres from the opposition and trained them in street demonstrations. The richest revolution in the world was conceived as a spectacle for Western television.

Prior to the first round of presidential elections in the Ukraine, we alerted our readers to the deployment of US agents mandated to influence the election [1]. The operation was headed for the CIA by Colonel Robert Helvey who had already supervised the elections in Yugoslavia and Georgia. It was officially financed, for its public part, to the tune of 13 million dollars.

To complete our readers’ information, we have reconstructed a chronology of the events from dispatches from Interfax to which we have added information on the protagonists.
Three Days That Shook the Ukraine

Sunday, November 21, 2004, at around 3 pm, the headquarters of the candidate Yushchenko informed press agencies that more than 2,500 foreign observers were prohibited from entering the polling stations. Immediately, several hundred young supporters assembled in front of the office of the Electoral Commission to denounce the “fixing of the elections”.

When voting ended, at 8 pm, Richard G. Lugar, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Senate and special envoy of President George W. Bush, declared to the press that the elections should be invalidated. At the same time, Socis Institute published an exit poll showing Yushchenko had won with 49% against 45.9% for Yanukovych. For its part, the Razumkov Centre of the International Sociological Institute gave Yushchenko 58% against 39% for Yanukovych. Without waiting for the counting of the votes, 3,000 supporters of Viktor Yushchenko descended upon the centre of Kiev to proclaim their victory. Their number reached several tens of thousands during the evening. Towards midnight, the demonstrators dispersed. At 1 am, the Electoral Commission announced that one quarter of the polling stations had finished counting the ballots and broadcast the first results. But, contradicting the exit polls, it was Yanukovych who arrived on top with 53% against 45.48% for his opponent. Immediately, Viktor Yushchenko, denouncing a fix, went to the office of the Commission to demand a recount in the first polling stations.

Monday morning the 22nd, the crowd gathered again in Independence Square where Yushchenko had prepared a large stage. He arrived himself around 11 am. The Electoral Commission was to publish the latest results at noon. But, at 11:55, speaking before his militants, Yushchenko denounced the fixed results ahead of time and called for non-violent resistance against the dictatorship. By noon, the Commission had received 98% of the results. The spread between the two candidates had narrowed, but Yanukovych remained in the lead with 49.57% of the votes against 46.57% for his opponent.

Around 3 pm, the Organisation for European Security and Cooperation declared that the Ukraine had failed to meet international standards for democratic elections. At 4 pm, Senator Lugar issued a press release accusing the authorities of falsifying the results.
During this time, the Kiev Municipal Council denounced the results and proclaimed Yushchenko the president of the Ukraine. Then, it voted a motion to defy the Electoral Commission and called upon Parliament to recognise the new president.

At 5:40, the Secretary of the Defence, Rudkovsky, called the military back to their bases. At 7:40, the Procurer General’s Office issued a press release indicating that it was ready to repress any violation of the constitutional order, but several minutes later, Lytvyn, the head of the Parliament, assured that there was no question of declaring a state of emergency.

At 8:15, Russian president Vladimir Putin is the first foreign head of state to recognise a winner. He sent a message of congratulations to Mr. Yanukovych.

Tuesday the 23rd, Lytvyn tries to mediate. He invites the two candidates and the members of the Electoral Commission to a meeting at the Parliament. There are reports of 100,000 demonstrators in Kiev.

At 12:30, Freedom House calls upon foreign governments and intergovernmental agencies to condemn the fraud. Several minutes later, the European Union demands a revision of the results. At 1:30, the National Democratic Institute declares that it does not recognise the legitimacy of the vote.

At 2:55, the Minister of the Interior dismisses the rumour that Russian special troops had entered the Ukraine.

At 4:00 the president of Belarus is the second foreign head of state to congratulate M. Yanukovych on his election.

The crowd moves towards Parliament. Even though the session was over, a hundred or so members of parliament declare Yushchenko elected and swear him in. The “new” president pronounces a short speech during which he accuses the outgoing president Leonid Kuchma of leading the country towards civil war.

At 8 pm, Poland is the first foreign country to denounce the official result. “President” Yushchenko announces the creation of a Coordinating Council for the Protection of the Constitution and starts a provisional government.

On Wednesday, November 24, the crowd is still as thick in Independence Square. At 12:30, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister invites the Ukrainian authorities to do a recount. At 1 pm, the Electoral Commission announces the complete and final results: Yanukovych is elected with 49.53% of the vote. Viktor Yanukovych declares himself ready to assume the functions the people have just confided upon him.

At 4:30, “President” Yeshchenko calls on the police and the military to fraternise with the demonstrators. At 8:30 pm, Secretary of State Colin Powell announces that the United States does not recognise the election results.

During the election campaign, Viktor Yanukovych abused his position as sitting Prime Minister to use private and public media to bolster his campaign. During the same period, Viktor Yushchenko paid and trained thousands of activists from funds coming from the United States. Contravening the rules of the OESC, the Ukrainian Elections Code recognises as international observers only official delegations, not NGOs. According to the right-hand man of M. Yushchenko, 2,500 observers were turned away from polling stations. It seems these were 1,000 observers from the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO).

The election delegates chosen by the candidates and the international observers from the Parliamentary Assembly of the OESC, the Parliamentary Assembly from NATO, from the European Council, from the European Parliament, and from OESC were able to survey the voting normally.

ENEMO is a collection of Eastern European associations. Each of them is financed by Madeleine Albright’s National Democratic Institute, while the common secretariat of the collection is financed by the Open Society Institute of George Soros and is led by British diplomats. The group includes the Ukrainian association Committee on Voters of Ukraine (CVU), editor of the paper Tochka Zory. The displacement of 1,000 observers was jointly financed by James Woolsey’s Freedom House, Albright’s National Democratic Institute, and John McCain’s International Republican Institute. Remember that these two organizations are appendices of the National Endowment for Democracy, the public face of the CIA [2].

The exit polls, published by the Socis Institute and the Razumkov Centre, were funded by the United States. The same procedure was used during the revocation referendum in Venezuela where an exit poll was conducted by Penn Shoen & Berland Associates for the opposition association Sumate, financed by the US. The exit poll showed the opposition winning by 59% while the Electoral Commission had them losing with 41%. On the basis of this exit poll, a crowd amassed in the centre of Caracas to drive out President Chavez. Ultimately, the international observers, such as the Carter Center and the Réseau Voltaire, confirmed the official results. [3]

More than 1,000 cadres of the Pora youth association and the Committee on Voters of Ukraine received an average salary of $3,000 per month, a more than comfortable income for the Ukraine. This remuneration was financed by the United States, via USAID and NED. The first experiment in paying thousands of extras to act in a demonstration before the press was carried out by Britain’s MI6 and the CIA for Operation Ajax: in 1952, they recruited 6,000 extras in Iran to march against the Royal Palace and overthrow Mossadegh. [4]
Thousands of tents and blankets were made available to demonstrators so they could camp out in Independence Square where free meals were served. All the logistics were prepared by USAID.

The declaration of the OESC claiming the Ukraine had failed to meet international standards for a democratic election was based largely on the disequilibrium of the election campaign and not on the vote itself which, although marked by a number of incidents, didn’t appear too irregular. The various statements from Senator Richard G. Lugar demanding the annulation of the election were not accompanied by any precise descriptions of the alleged fraudulent activity.

Polish President Kwasniewski, after denouncing the official results, proposed to mediate between the two candidates. Simultaneously, he made available to his predecessor, Lech Walesa, public monies to visit Kiev where Walesa participated in M. Yushchenko’s meetings in Independence Square.

This “richest revolution in the world” was conceived for the public in the United States.

Yushchenko’s Internet site is entirely translated into English. The street demonstrations were orchestrated for Western television with a know-how that hasn’t failed since the overthrow of Ceausescu and the mass graves of Timisoara.

[1] « Washington et Mocou se livrent bataille en Ukraine » by Emilia Nazarenko and the editors of, Voltaire, 1er November 2004.
[2] « NED : La nébuleuse de l'ingérence démocratique » by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire,
22 January 2004.
[3] « Les sondages ou les urnes ? » Voltaire, 23 August 2004.
[4] « BP Amoco, coalition pétrolière anglo-saxonne » by Arthur Lepic, Voltaire, 10 June

Translated by Signs-of-the-Times

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Fatah leader shot dead in Nablus

A senior official of the mainstream Palestinian Fatah party was shot dead in the Balata refugee camp, party officials said.

Nasser Badawi, 37, was walking at the entrance to the camp in Nablus last night, when three gunmen in a taxi opened fire, killing him, the officials said.

Badawi was one of the Fatah leaders in the West Bank camp.

There was no indication about who was responsible. The Israeli military said it had no troops in the area at the time of the shooting.

The Balata camp is ruled by competing armed factions of Palestinians, and infighting is not uncommon.

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Arafat's brother dies of cancer in Cairo
2004-12-02 03:04:50
CAIRO, Dec. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Fathi Arafat, brother of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, died of stomach cancer here Wednesday, Egyptian news agency MENA reported. 

The 73-year-old Fathi, former head of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, had been fighting the cancer for months in the Egyptian capital, said one of his relatives. 

A doctor of a hospital in Cairo, where Fathi was being treated,said he died at home. 

His death came within a month after his brother Yasser Arafat died in a French military hospital on the outskirts of Paris onNov. 11 and was buried in the West Bank city of Ramallah the next day.

Ottawa assails Israel's UN foes
Globe and Mail Update

UNITED NATIONS — UN Ambassador Allan Rock Tuesday delivered a scathing denunciation of the General Assembly's resolutions isolating and attacking Israel, confirming a shift in Canada's approach to the Middle East.

During an annual debate on the question of Palestine, Mr. Rock said Canada will vote Wednesday against two key resolutions on which it has abstained in the past, lining up with the United States, often the only major power to defend Israel at the United Nations.

"We believe that the time has come, especially given the renewed hope for the peace process, to evaluate the efforts that all of us make at the United Nations to determine if they could be redirected towards more constructive outcomes," Mr. Rock said.

He said the General Assembly and the much more powerful Security Council should do more to foster respect and trust between Israelis and Palestinians in order to help bring peace to the region.

Canada has typically abstained on resolutions that condemn Israel's occupation of and settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.

Only the United States and a few others have been left to support the embattled Jewish state.

Mr. Rock's speech Tuesday confirmed a shift in approach to UN questions involving the Middle East that has been evident since last summer. Then, Canada abstained on a widely supported resolution that noted the International Court of Justice's finding that Israel's security fence violated international law.

Critics in the Canadian-Arab community suggest the Martin government is in danger of abandoning Canada's long-standing evenhandedness toward the region, while Jewish lobbyists insist the government is merely adjusting its UN positions to reflect its overall approach.

Mr. Rock said General Assembly resolutions on the Middle East are "often divisive and lack in balance" because they condemn Israeli violence but play down attacks against Israeli civilians.

"References to Israeli security needs are often overlooked in the General Assembly. Repeatedly emphasizing Israel's responsibility under international law obscures equally important responsibilities of other parties to the conflict."

He added that the UN often fails to adequately condemn the Palestinians for their failure to rein in terrorists who target civilians or to reform their own governing bodies.

In an effort to be evenhanded, Canada will support a resolution on which it has abstained in the past: It calls for a nuclear-free Middle East and singles out Israel, which is widely suspected (but has never admitted it) to have nuclear capability.

Mr. Rock said the government's fundamental policy toward the Middle East remains unchanged. [...]

Comment: Hot on the heels of Dubya's whirlwind tour of Canada, come these unusual comments from Canada's Ambassador to the U.N. harshly criticizing "supposedly" biased resolutions against Israel.

Canada it seems, has always tried to remain even-handed in it's position regarding the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and it appears they have now decided to abandon this approach and align themselves closer to the U.S. position of unwavering defense of Israel.

This could be the beginning of a disturbing trend towards the slavish and unquestioning support for the fascist policies of the Bush Reich, and away from Canada's traditional role of peacemaking and neutrality.

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Protesters condemn 'war criminal' Bush

Holding up signs calling US president George Bush a "war criminal" and "liar," several thousand demonstrators marched on the parliament buildings in Canada's capital Ottawa to protest against his visit, the US-led war in Iraq and a host of other issues.

Protest organisers said yesterday's march drew at least 13,000 people, many of whom rode buses overnight from across Ontario and Quebec, but police put the figure at closer to 5,000.

Twelve protesters were arrested after they clashed with riot police, officers said. One police officer was reported injured.

Making his first official visit to Canada, Bush was welcomed by many placards and signs along his motorcade route, including a truck parked nearby that was emblazoned with the phrase "Bush is a war criminal". Another placard branded him an "assassin".

Much of the anger seemed focused on the US invasion of Iraq. Canada decided against sending troops to Iraq – a stand supported by more than 80% of Canadians.

"Canada is not against America. We're totally against Bush," explained Fredric White, a 40-year-old who works for an entertainment company.

"He's arrogant and ignorant. We totally disdain his policies on the war and his treatment of the UN. The administration has an imperialist attitude where he thinks he can take over countries by bombing them." [...]

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Powell's Haiti visit brings gunfire

Safe inside palace as shots ring out, he blames thugs

Associated Press
Thursday, December 02, 2004 
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Heavy gunfire rang out near Haiti's presidential palace yesterday as Secretary of State Colin Powell met with the country's interim leaders. Powell said international peacekeeping troops must come down hard on street thugs and those who carry out political violence in Haiti. 

"They have to forcefully take on those armed individuals of the kind who were firing this morning," Powell said after meetings at the National Palace with President Boniface Alexandre, Prime Minister Gerard Latortue and other political leaders. 

Shots continued to echo through the streets after Powell wrapped up his one-day trip. Four people were killed and at least 11 were injured. 

In Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Powell was in a holding room at the palace when the gunfire erupted outside. Powell and others in his delegation heard the shots, Ereli said. The incident prompted a change of meeting rooms but otherwise had no effect on Powell's schedule. 

Most of the clashes occurred in Bel Air, a slum loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and several blocks away from the National Palace. 

Bloodied gunshot victims crowded the corridors at the capital's main hospital, where U.N. police were standing guard. U.N. troops were also on alert at the national penitentiary, said Damian Onses Cardona, a spokesman for the United Nations force, now at more than 6,000 members. 

Haiti is still beset with violence and political infighting 10 months after Aristide was ousted. The country's caretaker government has pledged open elections next fall, a goal Powell said Haiti can meet with outside help. 

"The only outcome that will satisfy the U.S. is an election next year that is free and fair ... that is not fraudulent and stolen," Powell said during his visit to try to shore up democratic efforts in the desperately poor country. 

The United States has been instrumental in Haiti's chaotic power shifts over the past decade, with Powell in a prominent role. He was once an Aristide supporter but helped arrange Aristide's exile this year. [...]

Comment: "The US has been instrumental in Haiti's chaotic power shifts over the past decade..." Is that the understatement of the year, or what?

Flashback: US Sponsored Coup d'Etat: The Destabilization of Haiti

by Michel Chossudovsky
29 February 2004

Double standards

The White House has called into question Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's "fitness to continue to govern his country". According to the official White House statement released one day before Aristide's departure for the Dominican Republic:

"His failure to adhere to democratic principles has contributed to the deep polarization and violent unrest that we are witnessing in Haiti today... His own actions have called into question his fitness to continue to govern Haiti. We urge him to examine his position carefully, to accept responsibility, and to act in the best interests of the people of Haiti"

Now should we not apply the same standards to President George W. Bush who has lied to the American people, violated international law and waged a criminal based on a fabricated pretext?

This article was written in the last days of February 2004 in response to the barrage of disinformation in the mainstream media. It was completed on February 29th, the day of President Jean Bertrand Aristide's departure in exile.

The armed insurrection which contributed to unseating President Aristide on February 29th 2004 was the result of a carefully staged military-intelligence operation.

The Rebel paramilitary army crossed the border from the Dominican Republic in early February. It constitutes a well armed, trained and equipped paramilitary unit integrated by former members of Le Front pour l'avancement et le progrès d'Haiti (FRAPH), the "plain clothes" death squadrons, involved in mass killings of civilians and political assassinations during the CIA sponsored 1991 military coup, which led to the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide

The self-proclaimed Front pour la Libération et la reconstruction nationale (FLRN) (National Liberation and Reconstruction Front) is led by Guy Philippe, a former member of the Haitian Armed Forces and Police Chief. Philippe had been trained during the 1991 coup years by US Special Forces in Ecuador, together with a dozen other Haitian Army officers. (See Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News, 24 February 2004).

[...] Media Manipulation

In the weeks leading up to the Coup d'Etat, the media has largely focused its attention on the pro-Aristide "armed gangs" and "thugs", without providing an understanding of the role of the FLRN Rebels.

Deafening silence: not a word was mentioned in official statements and UN resolutions regarding the nature of the FLRN. This should come as no surprise: the US Ambassador to the UN (the man who sits on the UN Security Council) John Negroponte. played a key role in the CIA supported Honduran death squadrons in the 1980s when he was US ambassador to Honduras. (See San Francisco Examiner, 20 Oct 2001)

The FLRN rebels are extremely well equipped and trained forces. The Haitian people know who they are. They are Tonton Macoute of the Duvalier era and former FRAPH assassins.

The Western media is mute on the issue, blaming the violence on President Aristide. When it acknowledges that the Liberation Army is composed of death squadrons, it fails to examine the broader implications of its statements and that these death squadrons are a creation of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The New York Times has acknowledged that the "non violent" civil society opposition is in fact collaborating with the death squadrons, "accused of killing thousands", but all this is described as "accidental". No historical understanding is provided. Who are these death squadron leaders? All we are told is that they have established an "alliance" with the "non-violent" good guys who belong to the "political opposition". And it is all for a good and worthy cause, which is to remove the elected president and "restore democracy":

"As Haiti's crisis lurches toward civil war, a tangled web of alliances, some of them accidental, has emerged. It has linked the interests of a political opposition movement that has embraced nonviolence to a group of insurgents that includes a former leader of death squads accused of killing thousands, a former police chief accused of plotting a coup and a ruthless gang once aligned with Mr. Aristide that has now turned against him. Given their varied origins, those arrayed against Mr. Aristide are hardly unified, though they all share an ardent wish to see him removed from power." (New York Times, 26 Feb 2004)

There is nothing spontaneous or "accidental" in the rebel attacks or in the "alliance" between the leader of the death squadrons Guy Philippe and Andy Apaid, owner of the largest industrial sweatshop in Haiti and leader of the G-184.

The armed rebellion was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation. The Armed Forces of the Dominican Republic had detected guerilla training camps inside the Dominican Republic on the Northeast Haitian-Dominican border. ( El ejército dominicano informó a Aristide sobre los entrenamientos rebeldes en la frontera, El Caribe, 27 Feb. 2004)

Both the armed rebels and their civilian "non-violent" counterparts were involved in the plot to unseat the president. G-184 leader Andre Apaid was in touch with Colin Powell in the weeks leading up to the overthrow of Aristide; Guy Philippe and "Toto" Emmanuel Constant have links to the CIA; there are indications that Rebel Commander Guy Philippe and the political leader of the Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front Winter Etienne were in liaison with US officials. (See BBC, 27 Feb 2004).

While the US had repeatedly stated that it will uphold Constitutional government, the replacement of Aristide by a more compliant individual had always been part of the Bush Administration's agenda.

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by Allan Nairn
The Nation
January 8 / 15, 1996

In the face of rising outrage in Haiti that paramilitaries are still armed and at large, the U.S. government has again denied collaborating with the perpetrators, including FRAPH, the hit squad whose leader, Emmanual Constant, worked for the C.I.A. But evidence just discovered indicates that, starting in mid-1993, FRAPH was launched on its reign of terror with secret shipments of U.S. arms, and that still-active FRAPH members have been used recently in U.S. occupation operations, sprung from hail with Wahington's help. [...]

Constant's assertion has been confirmed by U.S. officials involved in Haiti, who note that U.S. military intelligence and the C.I.A. are also continuing secret work with FRAPH. Within the first week of the occupation a C.I.A. contingent arrived and, breaking down into two-person teams, fanned out across the countryside. The operatives, on temporary duty from headquarters in Langley, Virginia, approached Special Forces field units and asked for their help in identifying Haitians who could be recruited to work secretly for the C.I.A. [...]

The whole point of FRAPH, of course, is that it is not a military fighting force but rather a paramilitary group organized to kill unarmed civilians. This means that its weapons are small and dispersed-essentially one per killer-and that, therefore, under occupation policy FRAPH gunmen remain armed unless they are impolitic enough to parade their weapons publicly. Indeed, in late September 1994, right after the U.S. troops arrived, Special Forces teams systematically sat down with local FRAPH heads and told them (as team leaders in Hinche, in the Central Plateau, explained it to me) that as long as they kept their guns out of view they would "get no trouble" from the Green Berets. [...]

The arms shipments so crucial to the launching of FRAPH began around July 1993, according to a Haitian army officer who helped arrange the deals. The officer, a longtime U.S. protege whose walls are hung with diplomas from U.S. military courses (at infantry school, special training in Texas and, last spring, a six-day "human rights" course), served as a confidant and arms procurer for coup leader and police chief Lieut. Col. Michel Francois. He was among those who kept detailed records on the deals, some of which he still has. Other papers were apparently seized in 1994 by incoming U.S. troops.

The U.S. [arms] shipments originated in Miami and included Colt .38 revolvers, 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols, American made M-3 "grease gun" machine guns with short, collapsible stocks, Thompson submachine guns, Smith & Wesson .38 revolvers and fragmentation and gas grenades. The officer estimates that "five to ten thousand pieces" came in from Florida, packed in boxes often marked "Police Material: Do Not Open," and addressed to officers at the Haitian national palace. Although from October 1993 until September 1994 the U.S. Navy was used to enforce the embargo on Haiti, the officer says that the FRAPH arms shipments were never stopped (the Navy confirms that no Haiti-bound weapons were intercepted).

On arrival in Haiti, the weapons were stored at Colonel Francois's police headquarters, at the airport and in cargo containers, but-the officer says-not at army bases. Distribution of the guns to FRAPH and attaches was controlled by Francois and his circle, working through Constant and the senior civilian leader ship of FRAPH.

The fast influx of pistols, grease guns and hand grenades enabled FRAPH to metastasize. The officer says that FRAPH was needed to maintain control because "it was 7,000 of us versus 7 million civilians." The guns were, in turn, necessary to get FRAPH out on the streets. The idea was that, suddenly, FRAPH "would appear with all the gear of power-weapons, communication, intimidation, etc.," thereby cowing both the still-active popular movement and the exiled Aristide. [...]

With his supporters being slaughtered by FRAPH and the army, Aristide indeed backed off. Although Aristide continued to haggle with the White House on a number of political points, he agreed to accept a U.S. occupation (something he had long opposed), and in August 1994, he endorsed a structural adjustment program (drafted by the World Bank, the l.M.F. and U.S.A.I.D., and backed by the most pro-corporate members of his own government team) that represented a harsh abandonment of the popular movement's redistributionist plan. [...]

Comment: Note that this article was written in 1996, and in 2004 we see that it is just the finishing touches on a long, bloody campaign by the US. Few cared in '96 that innocent people were murdered in cold blood to maintain the drug supply to US children for black op funding, and few will care in 2004.

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Milan - Inquiry into Disappearing Fundamentalists
Paolo Biondani, Guido Olimpio
Corriere Della Sera
Thursday 02 December 2004
Shadows over antiterrorism investigations. Six Muslims under investigation in Italy have disappeared. American flights to secret jails? Suspicions about Italian and American intelligence agents.

MILAN - "Extraordinary renditions" have been going on for years, and they may be continuing at the present time. Secret agents lie in wait, seize the target and bundle him onto a private jet that flies off to an unknown destination. This will be a country where the local police can torture the prisoner, a real or only alleged terrorist. From that moment, the target becomes a phantom, swallowed up by a network of secret jails scattered around the globe. The CIA has admitted to carrying out at least 70 such "extraordinary renditions" in the years leading up to September 11. In reality, the US intelligence agency has not stopped since. In some cases, it has managed to thwart serious attacks by neutralising dangerous individuals. In others, it has seized so-called potential terrorists, or simple activists. In no case was the seizure authorised by judges. Here are a few cases now documented by investigations and police reports, some in Italy.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ABU OMAR - Until 2003, Egyptian-born Abu Omar was the beacon of fundamentalism in north Italy. A number of prosecutor's offices are investigating his past as a mujahid. He is what is called a "facilitator". He knows how the Jihad works, he has the right contacts and he has charisma. Imam Abu Omar indoctrinated and recruited, until February 17, 2003. That was the day when he went missing near his home in Milan's Via Conte Verde. He resurfaced almost a year later, when he telephoned his wife from Egypt to explain that he had been "kidnapped" by an armed group. Abu Omar, unaware that the line was tapped, supplied a wealth of detail. He had been abducted "by Italian and American agents", an Egyptian source indicated, then drugged and taken "to an American base in Italy". There, he underwent a first interrogation on his experience in Afghanistan. At the US base, he was put on board an unmarked aircraft, perhaps a Gulfstream, and transferred to a destination in the southern Mediterranean. He was then taken to Cairo, where he was handed over to the local security services, who subjected him to violence and other pressures.

Then in May 2003, the Egyptian police released him without warning. The Milan prosecutor's office is investigating the case as one of "kidnapping". The inquiry will have to verify the curious alleged behaviour of the Egyptian officers. Why abduct a suspect and then allow him to reveal this international intrigue? The suggestion is that not everyone in Cairo may agree with the system of "extraordinary renditions". What is certain is that Abu Omar was able to put on record significant details. In the meantime, the investigation took a further twist when Abu Omar was arrested again in Egypt. The prosecutor's office continues to investigate. The case has extremely sensitive implications as a possible violation of national sovereignty is involved. In answer to a parliamentary question put by Communist Refoundation MPs, Franco Giordano and Elettra Deiana, Carlo Giovanardi, minister for relations with parliament, maintained that the government and Italian services had no information that the alleged terrorists had been seized in Italy and transferred abroad.

ORIENTAL MYSTERIES - The last known address of Abu Hanim Abdul Gafar and Sabri Ghilar is a house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was there that they were held in October 2002 by Malaysian and American agents. Their capture was the outcome of a painstaking investigation by Milan-based carabinieri from the ROS special operations squad. The three men, contacts for an active cell in Italy, were under investigation as Al Qaeda members with a dark past. Abu Hani fought in Bosnia and Chechnya, then took part in the murder of Massud, the head of the anti-Taleban alliance who was killed on September 9, 2001. Gafar is under investigation for the attack on the USS Cole. It would have been interesting to question them, but instead they became another "extraordinary rendition", their destination Egypt. The Italian authorities requested American collaboration in vain. All appeals went unanswered.

THE 9/11 YEMENI - For the Italian police, Al Hilal is an officer of the PSO, the Yemeni secret service, with links to Al Qaeda. On August 12, 2000, he talked to Osama Bin Laden's envoy in Italy, Abdelkader Es Sayed, about an unprecedented attack on the US. It was a first warning about 9/11. Al Hilal disappeared in late summer 2002 while on a business trip to Cairo. His brother claims that he "was put on board an American aircraft" and taken "to a secret jail in Azerbaijan".

A BALKAN WHODUNIT - Talaat Fouad Kassem, known as Abu Talal, was a leader of the Egyptian Jamaa. He lived in Denmark. He was also a frequent visitor to the Viale Jenner mosque in Milan, where he would preach fiery sermons. In September 1996, he disappeared while visiting Croatia. An eyewitness now says that he was "picked up" by American intelligence agents, transferred to a ship in the Adriatic and then shipped to Egypt. His family and defenders are now claiming that Abu Talal has been assassinated.

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Warning on police use of stun guns after 74 die
Scotsman/John Innes | November 30 2004

THE use of stun guns by British police must remain tightly controlled after a report showed dozens have died from their use in North America, a human rights group has warned.

Amnesty International has published a study which claims that 74 people have been killed after US and Canadian police shot them with the Taser gun.

The organisation also called for a "rigorous, independent and impartial" study into the weapons, which deliver a 50,000-volt shock to disable suspects.

In September, the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, announced Tasers were to be authorised for police firearms officers across England and Wales, following a successful trial.

Amnesty said Tasers had been used in the US against unruly schoolchildren as young as nine; pregnant women, one of whom lost her baby shortly afterwards; unarmed, mentally- ill people; and those who simply ignored a police officer's instructions.

Amnesty's UK director, Kate Allen, said: "In some cases, simply walking away from a police officer has led to people getting a 50,000-volt electric shock. Is this a glimpse into the future of UK policing?

"With over 70 deaths following Taser use in the US, surely we must have a full inquiry into their effects before the government even considers any wider deployment on Britain's streets.

"We want an assurance from the Home Office and police chiefs that Tasers will only be issued to trained firearms officers and kept locked in the firearms box. Tasers could kill, so they must be treated as lethal weapons."

Mr Blunkett has said scientific evaluations had shown the Taser guns had a "very low" risk of fatality.

Taser guns fire needle-tipped darts up to 21ft to deliver a disabling, high-voltage shock.

They were trialled after growing pressure for a less dangerous weapon in an effort to reduce the number of people shot dead by armed police.

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Pittsburg fault could produce huge quake
By Associated Press |
Published on Wednesday, December 1, 2004

PITTSBURG, California -- It may not be as well-known as the San Andreas, but a long-dormant fault that runs through the city of Pittsburg is not only active but capable of producing a magnitude-7.0 earthquake, according to a recent study.

Although the Pittsburg fault is far less likely to produce a major earthquake in a given year than other San Francisco Bay Area faults, it last shook the area about 3,000 years ago, meaning the time could be getting close for another big one.

"I would consider it a sleeping giant," said Patrick Williams, a consulting geologist from Massachusetts who helped discover the fault more than a decade ago while mapping Bay Area faults for the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. [...]

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Four small 'seismic events' recorded in North Jersey
November 30, 2004, 7:24 PM EST

TRENTON, N.J. -- Residents of northern New Jersey experienced what experts described as four small "seismic events" Tuesday afternoon. Scientists were trying to determine whether the shaking of the ground resulted from actual small earthquakes or human activity, such as quarry blasting.

The four rumbles were felt from Pequannock Township in Morris County to Oakland in Bergen County. They took place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and never made it up above 1.3 in magnitude, meaning they were barely noticeable and unlikely to cause any damage, according to Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.

The observatory received reports from Oakland police of people experiencing the shaking over a large area. [...]

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Mild earthquake hits Slovakia
Dec. 1 (UPI)

Bratislava, Slovakia, -- An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale hit central and eastern Slovakia Tuesday evening, terrifying residents but causing no deaths.

The SME daily newspaper reported Wednesday tremors were felt over an area of more than a hundred miles.

People experiencing the earthquake spoke of whole houses rocking to and fro with lights swinging and windows rattling.

One woman from the town of Kezmarok was quoted by SME as saying: "I was sitting at my computer in the kitchen when it all began to shake ... My husband was lying on the couch and almost jumped out of his skin."

Tremors were also felt in the border areas of the Czech Republic and Poland, both of which neighbor Slovakia. [...]

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Earthquake hits Papua
December 2, 2004

THE quake-ravaged Indonesian town of Nabire was hit today by another earthquake, which killed a man who was repairing his house, media reports said.

Thirty people were killed by an earthquake on Friday and hundreds of aftershocks that hit Nabire, 3200km northeast of Jakarta.

The 6.4-magnitude quake also injured 200 people and flattened more than 170 buildings.

The state-run Antara News Agency said today's 4.5-magnitude quake was centred 33km southwest of Nabire. A 30-year-old resident was killed when his house collapsed on him, the agency said.

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Pittsburg fault could produce huge quake
By Associated Press |
Published on Wednesday, December 1, 2004
PITTSBURG -- It may not be as well-known as the San Andreas, but a long-dormant fault that runs through the city of Pittsburg is not only active but capable of producing a magnitude-7.0 earthquake, according to a recent study.

Although the Pittsburg fault is far less likely to produce a major earthquake in a given year than other San Francisco Bay Area faults, it last shook the area about 3,000 years ago, meaning the time could be getting close for another big one.

"I would consider it a sleeping giant," said Patrick Williams, a consulting geologist from Massachusetts who helped discover the fault more than a decade ago while mapping Bay Area faults for the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park.

Many residents of this fast-growing suburb 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, population 57,000, have never heard of the fault, which runs southeast into town from the Sacramento River Delta alongside power plants and under a school.

But city officials nonetheless have updated the town's general plan to include evaluating new construction to determine if it can withstand the type of earthquake the Pittsburg fault is likely to let loose. The quake the fault caused three millennia ago may have been bigger than the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake on the Hayward fault that killed 63 people, according to Williams' early research.

"It would be considered an important fault anywhere else in the country," Williams said.

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'Sonic Boom' rattles Opp
By Kim Henderson

(Florida) - A loud noise that sounded like a "boom" roused the normally peaceful community of Opp Tuesday morning.

Law enforcement officials and residents living near Hub Brown Road heard "a very loud shaking noise" yesterday and became concerned.
According to Covington County Emergency Management Agency/E-911 Director Kristi Stamnes, a call came into dispatch Tuesday morning in reference to a disturbing noise that shook portions of the Covington County neighborhood.

A law enforcement officer made the call to E-911, Stamnes said, and an anxious community awaited to see what the ruckus was all about.
Fairly early in the day Tuesday, the E-911 director described that she knew little of the situation.

"The only thing we have had is a call in reference to some type of sonic boom (in Opp)," she stated. "It could be that Eglin (Air Force Base) could be testing over that way."

Calls to Eglin Air Force Base in Northwest Florida, in neighboring Okaloosa County, resulted in little information, as base officials could not confirm any type of testing Tuesday. [...]

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Bushfire looms near Gosford amid heatwave
December 1, 2004 - 9:10AM

A bushfire could threaten properties at Gosford on the NSW central coast as the statewide heatwave continues today.

NSW Rural Fire Service media officer Cameron Wade said the fire was burning in the Rumbalara nature reserve, located in the middle of "a number" of properties.

The flames were not currently threatening properties but could if winds picked up, he said.

Nine firefighting units had been working to contain the blaze since 2am (AEDT) today.

The blaze was one of 20 small bushfires burning across the state, Mr Wade said. [...]

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a maximum of 35 degrees in Sydney and 38 in Penrith today, with hot to very hot north-west winds followed a gusty south-west change that could bring thunderstorms.

Temperatures in Sydney fell well short of the 42 degree scorcher predicted yesterday but the mercury soared in western NSW, with some parts of the state registering temperat

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A local star gazer finds a fallen star
By Jim Konkoly
Staff Writer

COSHOCTON -- For the second time in her life, a falling star has come within a few yards of Phyllis Rice.

"My heavens," she said last week when Coshocton High School science teacher Dan Zielinski examined the unusual rock she had found lodged in the screen of her patio door.

Zielinski confirmed what Rice suspected.

During the last meteor shower on the nights of Nov. 15 and 16, a small falling star hit the home of Phyllis and her husband Larry Rice at 1921 Adams Street.

About a half inch in diameter, black on one side and a rusty, burnt orange color on the other, this rock has all the characteristics of a meteorite, said Zielinski, who teaches astronomy and other sciences at the high school and directs the planetarium at Central Elementary School.

"I'm not the expert on meteorites," he added. "But I can say it's highly likely that this is a meteorite, a falling star, based on the texture and the color, and the angle of impact on the screen." [...]

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Mystery shrouds butterfly's southern suicide flight
By Richard Macey
December 2, 2004

Why they are here at all has scientists baffled. Their arrival could, some speculate, be a genetic echo from a time when Australia's climate was very different.

Sydney is being visited by huge numbers of migrating caper white butterflies, so named because they lay their eggs on caper bushes that grow in Queensland and inland northern NSW.

About this time each year many of the butterflies, which live about two weeks, migrate south.

"They go all the way to Victoria. You even get stragglers going over into Tasmania," said David Britton, the entomology collections manager at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

But why fly away from the vital caper bushes that rarely grow in southern Australia?

"It's a real mystery," said Mr Britton, who suggested overbreeding might leave some with no choice but to seek "greener pastures".

So many caterpillars hatched that many caper bushes were "stripped back to twigs. They are eating themselves out of house and home, so they have to move out".

But "flying the wrong way ... there is no easy explanation", said Mr Britton, who added that, while most of the migrating butterflies flew to their deaths, a small number somehow survived to fly north again.

A CSIRO entomologist, Don Sands, agreed the behaviour seemed to defy nature's survival laws. "In nature, things just don't go and commit suicide," said Dr Sands, who speculated that the migration might be a genetic relic from hundreds of thousands of years ago, when the climate might have allowed caper bushes to grow in southern Australia.

"It's still unproven, but these butterflies may be genetically hard-wired to a climate we no longer have," he said. "But that is only a hypothesis." [...]

Comment: Rather than attribute the butterfly's strange behaviour to some left-over genetic memory, isn't it more likely they are responding to the rapid climate and earth changes that seem more apparent and frequent these days than ever before?

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And Finally...

'ET' Nutri-Grain piece sells for $1035

By Danny Buttler
December 1, 2004
FIRST a toasted cheese sandwich bearing a resemblance to the Virgin Mary sold for $36,000. Now a single Kellogg's Nutri-Grain with a remarkable similarity to E.T. has been auctioned on the internet for $1035.

Chris Doyle, 27, of Sydney, came within seconds of pouring milk on to the grain, but quick thinking turned a $5 box of cereal into a financial bonanza.

"I just didn't think it would go this far," he said. "I was just trying to find someone who feels the same way about E.T. as they do about the Virgin Mary."

He said he would be sad to part with his extra-terrestrial look-alike. "I have grown rather attached to it."

Spirited buyers from around the globe bid for the right to own the bizarre item, which has been lacquered.
Herald Sun

Comment: Well, they both are fictional characters after all...

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