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Truffle
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

America - Now A Fascist Totalitarian State In All But Name

"Americans Love Tough Guys"

Sott Editorial
13/12/2004

Note these actual headlines:

"Powell Gets Tough," "Rumsfeld Gets Tough On North Korea," "Wolfowitz gets tough on terrorism," "Bush Gets Tough with the Pope," "Bush Gets Tough With China," "Bush gets tough with
North Korea," "Bush gets tough on Castro." And these: "Bush talks
tough on Saddam" "Rumsfeld talks tough on Iraq" "Cheney talks tough on Iraq, Saddam," "Cheney talks tough and acts it," "Powell talks tough on North Korea," "Richard Perle talks tough on Iraq, North Korea," "Americans like a hard man and Wolfowitz talks tough," "Americans love tough guys."

So, our leaders are tough guys. Americans love tough guys -- and
tough women, too, of course. We seem to prefer them even to smart
people, learned people, creative people, kind people, tolerant people,
strong people, etc. But, have you thought about what a tough guy is?
Rather than assume that you know, consider one philosophy about tough guys: all tough guys are hypocrites. "What?" you say. Well, isn't it logical, really?

Let's talk about life's basics. What do you want from life? First
and foremost, isn't it safe to say that you want to survive? You want
food, you want shelter, you may want companionship, a nice family and trusted friends. You want a safe and productive place to live, work, play, be free, and maybe to enjoy the company of others. You DON'T want to feel threatened or unsafe. Isn't it true that no one wants to feel threatened, bullied, intimidated, unsafe, restricted, or
frightened?

Everyone wants a life that is free of the feeling that one is in danger, under threat, or living in fear. Those things add up to misery. Having felt them at one time or another, we all know intuitively that such feelings prey upon the mind and body.

What is a tough guy? Quite simply, a tough guy intimidates. That's
what he designs to do. He threatens, and inspires fear. A tough guy
deliberately cultivates, in whatever his context and environment, a
dangerous image. His willful intent is to convey a "don't mess with me" bearing while implying that he will very well mess with you if you
cross him. A tough guy purposefully intrudes upon you with an
expression of displeasure if crossed, and he exudes personal
associations with force, physical or otherwise.

Think of some stereotypes for a moment: a mob boss or enforcer, a
street-gang member, a school bully. In the environments and contexts in which they operate, they make themselves known by the way they dress, the way they walk, the way they speak, the people they associate with, and the way they look at you. They make certain to convey that they are tough guys, and that you had better adhere to their rules or you will pay a price. You will forfeit to them protection money, you will stay off of their turf, you will get out of their way, and they will take from you what they want or you will no longer have a good life, for the tough guy will punish you, your friends, or your family.

The tough guy's very presence puts restrictions on your expression
and/or behavior and suggests unpleasant consequences should you cross any of them. He conveys, in ways spoken or not, that retribution shall strike should you break one of his rules. He embodies threat,
intimidation, swift and certain punishment. A tough guy is a bully. He bullies first by his very appearance and demeanor, then by his
words and even actions if necessary, for he suggests that he has the
means to make you comply.

No one wants the misery that the bully brings. No person wants such
anguish, including the person who is the tough guy. He or anyone
would be insane to desire being intimidated and made fearful. As
someone who threatens, intimidates, and inspires terror, the tough
guy, the bully, conveys and delivers precisely the feelings that no
human being wants in his life. Thus, being a tough guy is being a
hypocrite. It is being precisely what you wish did not exist.

"Respect" is a word tough guys use in their own defense. "People
respect toughness," they think, "and so being tough is what I need to
do to earn respect." Well, think, does anyone really respect an
intimidator? Do you respect a bully, or do you simply fear him? Although they may think they are respected, consider the possibility
that tough guys are never respected members of society -- they are
simply feared. They inspire fear, desperation, acts of self-defense,
acts even of insanity. They spread misery and chaos that escalate to
consume the innocent. And they do it with the threat of force.

"Better people than camel-riding nomads have shown they respect force." -- Ann Coulter

Does it really take a "better" sort of person to "respect" force?
Isn't this statement just a little bit complicated? It doesn't make
sense and is a fine example of mistaking fear for respect. Simply
put, everyone fears force because everyone knows that force will take away their will, and no one relishes doing anything against their
will. To force is to go against free will, thus it is to impose a
kind of slavery. Force of some kind -- removal of your will -- is
what the tough guy threatens.

Were you ever bullied in your school days or perhaps in your workplace? Did you wish the bully would disappear or at least play by
the rules and adhere to the law that is supposed to guarantee your
protection and right to a peaceful life? Did you wish he would stop
making his own self-serving "law" that promised punishment for you if
you did not comply?

"In the corporeal world, international law is whatever the United
States and Great Britain say it is." -- Ann Coulter

If you are looking for a good leader, it would seem unwise to choose
someone among whose foremost character traits is hypocrisy. There is nothing wrong with acting in favor of your own destiny, but doing it
in any way that brings misery to others is purely hypocritical. Sure,
Americans love a tough guy -- when he is on their side. But, consider
how that tough guy is making others feel.

What misery is he threatening others with? By supporting him, you are supporting his tough act and his tough talk, and you are taking part in his threats, so are you not intimidating others and taking away
their right to a peaceful and productive life? Are you not disrespecting their right to live without fear? Are you not stripping them of the very things in life you want for yourself? Aren't you a bully and a hypocrite? And could you be driving those you threaten to commit desperate acts against you? Would you prefer to be respected, or feared? It may be worth considering.

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The American ideology

Al-Ahram Weekly

The US may claim to be a democracy, says Samir Amin, but its religious rhetoric betrays totalitarian ambitions

Today, the United States is governed by a junta of war criminals who took power through a kind of coup. That coup may have been preceded by (dubious) elections: but we should never forget that Hitler was also an elected politician. In this analogy, 9/11 fulfils the function of the "burning of the Reichstag", allowing the junta to grant its police force powers similar to those of the Gestapo. They have their own Mein Kampf -- the National Security Strategy --, their own mass associations -- the patriot organisations -- and their own preachers. It is vital that we have the courage to tell these truths, and stop masking them behind phrases such as "our American friends" that have by now become quite meaningless.

Political culture is the long-term product of history. As such, it is obviously specific to each country. American political culture is clearly different from that which has emerged from the history of the European continent: it has been shaped by the establishment of New England by extremist Protestant sects, the genocide of the continent's indigenous peoples, the enslavement of Africans, and the emergence of communities segregated by ethnicity as a result of successive waves of migration throughout the 19th century. [...]

The genocide of Native Americans was implicit in the logic of the new chosen people's divine mission. Their massacre cannot simply be blamed on the morals of an archaic and distant past. Right up until the 1960s, the act of genocide was proclaimed quite openly and proudly. Hollywood films pitted the "good" cowboy against the "evil" Native American, and this travesty of the past was central to the education of successive generations.

A lynching in Omaha, Nebraska, 1919

The same holds true for slavery. After independence, close to a century had to pass before slavery was abolished. And despite the French Revolution's claims to the contrary, the fact of abolition, when it came, had nothing to do with morality -- it only happened because slavery no longer served the cause of capitalist expansion. Thus, African Americans had to wait another century to be granted even minimal civil rights. And even then, the deep-rooted racism of the ruling class was hardly challenged at all. Up until the 1960s, lynching remained common place, providing a pretext for family picnics. Indeed, the practice of lynching persists today, more discretely and indirectly, in the form of a "justice" system that sends thousands of people to their deaths -- most of them African Americans, even though it is common knowledge that at least half of those condemned are innocent. [...]

The avowed objective of America's new hegemonic strategy is to prevent the emergence of any other power which might be capable of putting up resistance in the face of Washington's injunctions. It is therefore necessary to dismantle countries which have become too "big", so as to create a maximum number of satellites who are ready and willing to accept US bases for their "protection". As its last three presidents (Bush senior, Clinton, and Bush junior) all agree, only one country has the right to be "big", and that is the United States.

In this sense, US hegemony ultimately depends on its disproportionate military power, rather than on any specific "advantages" of its economic system. Thanks to this power, the US can pose as the uncontested leader of the global mafia, whose "visible fist" will impose the new imperialist order on those who might otherwise be reluctant to fall into line.

Encouraged by their recent successes, the extreme right now has a tight hold on the reins of power in Washington. The choice on offer is clear: either accept US hegemony, along with the super-strength "liberalism" it promotes, and which means little more than an exclusive obsession with making money -- or reject both. In the first case, we will be giving Washington a free hand to "redesign" the world in the image of Texas. Only by choosing the second option may we be able to do something to help rebuild a world that is essentially pluralist, democratic and peaceful.

Had they reacted in 1935 or 1937, the Europeans would have been able to halt the Nazi madness before it did so much harm. By delaying until 1939, they contributed to its tens of millions of victims. It is our responsibility to act now, so that Washington's neo-Nazi challenge may be contained and eliminated.

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“Your Papers Please”

By: Jonathan Wheeler
Dec 9 2004

US adopts National ID: Homeland Security Now In charge of Regulations for all US States Drivers Licenses and Birth Certificates

In a chilling act more reminiscent of the now defunct Soviet Union or the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler, the United States Congress passed legislation yesterday that requires the States to surrender their regulatory rights over driver’s licenses and birth certificates to The Department of Homeland Security.

The massive US Intelligence Reform Bill weighed in at over 3,000 pages and though unread by individual Members of either the House or Senate nevertheless passed all of the legislative hurdles needed in order to become law. [...]

Beginning in 2005, the Department of Homeland Security will issue new uniformity regulations to the States requiring that all Drivers Licenses and Birth Certificates meet minimal Federal Standards with regard to US citizen information, including biometric security provisions.

Added to currently existing Federal Laws and Supreme Court rulings American citizens when born will be issued a Social Security Number that will be included on their Birth Certificates, along with DNA biometric markers. All birth certificates will also be registered in a Federal Government database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. No child will be allowed enrollment to schools or be entitled to either State of Federal Government benefits programs without first presenting a certified Homeland Security registered Birth Certificate.

Drivers Licenses will also contain DNA biometric markers and include the holders Social Security Number and be required for receiving and applying for all State and Federal benefits programs. Previous Supreme Court rulings have also upheld State and Federal Law Enforcement authorities right to request Identification from any American citizen, for any reason and at any time as not being violations of their, the citizens, constitutionally protected rights.

Major Banks and credit card companies have applauded the adoption of a National ID system as being important to counter fraud and increasing instances of identity theft. National ID cards with biometric markers will eliminate them from having to issue Credit and Debit cards, which for the first time in US history have surpassed the usage of checks and cash. Utilizing The Department of Homeland Securities centralized federal database, Banks and credit card companies will only require the presentation of a citizens Driver’s License to make purchases as all of the persons financial information, including credit and cash balances, will already be known in ‘real time’. (The combining of Homeland Security and Banking databases on citizen’s balances and purchases, along with their past and present purchasing information, has been allowed under previous Federal Laws including the Patriot Act.)

Also included in this bill is a law to require The Department of Homeland Security to establish a separate ID system for citizens to use prior to boarding airplanes, and which is eerily reminiscent of the Soviet and Nazi regimes dreaded Internal Passport.

Never before in our history have the words of Benjamin Franklin been so correct when he stated: "people willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both".

Today, December 9, 2004 will be one of those moments in time that future historians will look back on and pin point as being the day that the United States of American, and as it was founded by its forefathers, ceased to exist.

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Patriot Act II Provisions Previously Not Voted On By Congress Are Snuck Into Intelligence Bill, Now Are Laws

Dec 10 2004
MSNBC

The intelligence package that Congress approved this week includes a series of little-noticed measures that would broaden the government's power to conduct terrorism investigations, including provisions to loosen standards for FBI surveillance warrants and allow the Justice Department to more easily detain suspects without bail.

Other law-enforcement-related measures in the bill -- expected to be signed by President Bush next week -- include an expansion of the criteria that constitute "material support" to terrorist groups and the ability to share U.S. grand jury information with foreign governments in urgent terrorism cases.

These and other changes designed to strengthen federal counterterrorism programs have long been sought by the Bush administration and the Justice Department but have languished in Congress, in part because of opposition from civil liberties advocates.

Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo characterized the measures as "common-sense reforms aimed at preventing terrorist attacks."

"We are very pleased that the Congress agreed with us that despite having passed the Patriot Act right after 9/11, we still had work to do," Corallo said, referring to the anti-terrorism legislation approved in October 2001. "We have to constantly look at the laws and look at our vulnerabilities and make sure we are doing everything we can within the law to protect the American people."

But civil liberties advocates and some Democrats said the measures would do little to protect the public while further eroding constitutional protections for innocent people caught up in investigations.

Critics also say the proposed changes were overshadowed by the debate over other aspects of the bill, which puts in place many intelligence agency reforms proposed by the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Some Democrats say they reluctantly approved the package because they favored the broader intelligence changes.

'Abusing its detention powers'

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) said that while he voted for the bill because of its intelligence reforms, he opposed much of the expansion of law enforcement power. Most of it was not part of the Sept. 11 panel's recommendations.

"I am troubled by some provisions that were added in conference that have nothing to do with reforming our intelligence network," Feingold said. He later added: "This Justice Department has a record of abusing its detention powers post-9/11 and of making terrorism allegations that turn out to have no merit."

Charlie Mitchell, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the law enforcement measures are "most troubling in terms of the trend they represent." He added: "They keep pushing and pushing without any attempt to review what they've done." [...]

'Lone wolf' suspects

One key change is a provision in the new intelligence package that targets "lone wolf" terrorists not linked with established terrorist groups such as al Qaeda. In language similar to earlier Senate legislation, the bill would allow the FBI to obtain secret surveillance and search warrants of individuals without having to show a connection between the target of the warrant and a foreign government or terrorist group.

The provision is aimed squarely at avoiding the quandary FBI investigators faced in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, when government lawyers haggled over whether they could link Zacarias Moussaoui to a terrorist group and legally search his belongings. Moussaoui has since been charged in connection with the attacks.

Officials said other parts of the bill are direct responses to setbacks in the courts, where prosecutors have lost cases because of disputes over previous legislative language. For example, the legislation tightens the definitions of material support to terrorists in response to California federal court rulings that found the statute underlying such cases to be unconstitutionally vague.

Other provisions in the bill include:

• Suspects in major terrorism crimes automatically would be denied bail unless they show they are not a danger or a flight risk. Advocates say the provision is modeled on similar rules for certain drug crimes, but Mitchell said it would increase the possibility of indefinite detention in alleged terrorism cases.

• Penalties would be increased for such crimes as harboring illegal immigrants, perpetrating a terrorist hoax, and possessing smallpox, anti-aircraft missile systems and radiological "dirty" bombs. The measure also is more explicit than current statutes in making it illegal to attend military-style training camps run by terrorist groups.

• Federal prosecutors would be allowed to share secret information obtained by grand juries with states or foreign governments to protect against terrorist attacks. German authorities, among others, have complained about difficulties obtaining information from the FBI and other U.S. agencies about foreign terrorist suspects.

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Guantánamo torture and humiliation still going on, says shackled Briton

Vikram Dodd and Clare Dyer
Saturday December 11, 2004
The Guardian

Fresh allegations about a regime of torture and humiliation inflicted on detainees by their American captors at Guantánamo Bay have been made by a Briton still held there, according to Foreign Office documents seen by the Guardian.

The claims by Martin Mubanga, from London, are the latest to surface from the prison where the US holds 550 Muslim men it claims are terrorists in conditions that have sparked worldwide condemnation.

Mr Mubanga, 31, alleges that only months ago he was kept shackled for so long that he wet himself, and then was forced to clean up his own urine. He claims to have been threatened, that an interrogator stood on his hair, and that he was subjected to extremes of temperature rising to 36C (97F). He was kept chained to the floor by his feet for an hour during a welfare visit from a British government official.

Mr Mubanga is one of four Britons still in Guantánamo, held without charge or trial. His allegations follow revelations that FBI agents recently raised concerns about ill treatment they witnessed of prisoners.

The claim of fresh abuses against Britons came as Lord Falconer, the lord chancellor, ventured further than any senior government figure so far in attacking the US policy at Guantánamo Bay. "At the heart of our culture is a commitment to the rule of law and human rights," the lord chancellor said in a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research, a leftwing thinktank. "We could never countenance individuals being put beyond the law as has happened at Guantánamo Bay." [...]

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Lessons from Wal-Mart and the Wehrmacht: Team Wolfowitz on Administration in the Information Age
Leila Hudson
Dr. Hudson is assistant professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona. For a printable pdf version of this article, click here.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has introduced a panoply of new techniques of government in the areas of intelligence processing, public relations, data collection and government secrecy. The blueprint that links many of these innovations to a unified theory of information and management can be found in an essay entitled "Military Organization in the Information Age: Lessons from the World of Business" by Francis Fukuyama and Abram Shulsky in a 1999 Rand Corporation volume edited by Zalmay Khalilzad.[1]

While the essay focuses on corporate self-improvement tips for the U.S. military, over the last three years these techniques have crept into the civilian functioning of the executive branch. There they seem to account for some of the most radical, and to critics, provocative innovations in domestic security policy and government management by the Bush administration.

Like the policy statements from the Project for the New American Century, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," and most recently, Richard Perle's and David Frum's manifesto The End of Evil: How to Win the War on Terror,[2]"Military Organization in the Information Age" lays out an ambitious and radical agenda that appears to have influenced the Bush administration. Unlike these other projects, "Military Organization in the Information Age" is not specifically about the Middle East region, nor does it lay out directives for strategy and action in international relations. Rather it presents a vision for the reformation of the military that would take advantage of the information revolution in order to maximize efficiency in corporate style.

Decentralization, specifically the dispersal of authority throughout the organization, is the predominant principle of the management style advocated by the authors. They cite management guru Peter Drucker's credo that "central management needs few if any specialists. Bottom specialists will direct themselves."[3] The reliance on "bottom specialists" rather than the traditional vertical hierarchy and central control is reinforced by the historical experience of a military that effectively used the new information technologies of its time and had a culture of autonomous decision making at the bottom of the officer corps: the German Wehrmacht.

What is striking about the principles articulated by Fukuyama and Shulsky in the late 1990s is how effectively they foreshadow a revolution in the post-9/11 world. This is not a "revolution in military affairs," which might have yielded dramatic successes rather than embarrassing and dangerous logistical failures in Afghanistan and Iraq,[4] but rather a revolution in civilian administration and government. The principles articulated in a paper that might have been subtitled "What We Learned from Wal-Mart and the Wehrmacht" seem to predict with remarkable efficiency the range of the Bush administration's domestic policies and internal practices in the War on Terror that have mobilized critics. The implementation of the guidelines suggested by Shulsky and Fukuyama contributes to the further blurring of the boundaries between the military and civilian spheres, and between the realms of public policy and legitimate privacy that the declaration of the War on Terror initiated.

These practices include the funneling of intelligence past agencies and layers of scrutiny that might have prevented lies, forgeries and other misperceptions from speeding the invasion of Iraq; the collection of information on U.S. citizens, residents and visitors that has alarmed constitutional scholars and privacy advocates; and the prevalence of no-bid contracting with corporations linked to the Bush administration in the reconstruction of Iraq.

The empowering aim of corporate decentralization also appears to explain the so-called "neoconservative" network inside and outside the administration, as it suggests a personnel policy of keeping specialists distributed laterally throughout the organization with autonomy in decision making, "freedom to fail," and rotation between high-pressure practical and low-pressure theoretical positions.[5] The specialists are not forced to compete against each other for the top job, but are kept comfortable in intermediate positions. The final component of the decentralization program calls for the appearance of strong central control and the activation of rigorous investigative and punitive procedures when something goes wrong.

The authors are themselves associates of the neoconservative network that undergirds the Bush administration. According to James Mann's Rise of the Vulcans, all are particular protégés of the architect of the Iraq War, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz,[6] Francis Fukuyama, a member of the Project for the New American Century and President Bush's Advisory Council on Bioethics, succeeded Wolfowitz as the dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and famously announced "the end of history" after the fall of the Soviet Union.[7] Fukuyama's co-author, Abram N. Shulsky, is one of the most influential and least known members of the Bush administration inner circle. He is a scholar of China, intelligence and philosopher Leo Strauss,(8) and heads the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, a murky but very important node in the movement of intelligence in the Bush administration.

The editor of the volume in which the article appeared is the Bush administration's low-profile special adviser on both Afghanistan and Iraq, a former Unocal executive and the highest ranking Muslim in the Bush administration, Zalmay Khalilzad. Like Francis Fukuyama, he signed the 1998 Project for the New American Century letters to President Clinton and congressional leaders urging the military ouster of Saddam Hussein.[9] Before they took their positions in the shadows of the Bush administration, these theorists offered insights that seem to have structured aspects of military policy in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, from battlefield tactics to military outsourcing and contracting for the land wars in Asia, but also in the ultimate "military operation other than war," or MOOTW -- the Bush administration's War on Terror.

"Military Organization in the Information Age" reviews business literature for ideas on how to structure military organizations. It employs information-age buzz-words from the business world such as "flattening," "informating" and "core competencies" to outline techniques by which a lean and responsive organization can take advantage of huge quantities of potentially useful data and skills without drowning in information or becoming a bureaucratic behemoth. The dispersal of skills and responsibilities throughout the organization to maximize access to dispersed bodies of information is key.

The authors advocate practices that structure the organization to maximize the speed of information transfer and utility and keep it flexible and quickly adaptable to new circumstances and experiences. Flattening the organization means shortening the paths of information movement from sources and other "bottom specialists" to decision makers throughout the body. "Informating" means collecting, storing and mining huge quantities of data by means of advanced non-human data processing systems with minimal additional labor. Focusing on "core competencies" like a "virtual corporation" promotes outsourcing and contracting of functions in which the cost and efficiency advantage is gained not through competitive bidding but rather through longer-term -- and not always transparent -- investment in research and development in the private sector.

Underlying the entire program laid out by Fukuyama and Shulsky is wariness of a wide distribution of knowledge. Applying the corporate virtue of efficiency and its information-processing techniques to the military allows Fukuyama and Shulsky to envision a military that forgoes institutional tradition in order to minimize bureaucratic confusion and redundancy. This could create tension and friction within rigid military structures. But applied to the realm of civil governance, these principles of information efficiency also compromise commitments to transparency, free-market competition, constitutional protections of personal privacy, and government accountability. [...]

CONCLUSIONS

The essay by Shulsky and Fukuyama provides insight into the techniques that have distinguished the Bush administration: a flattened architecture of specialists with autonomy and freedom to fail located laterally throughout the organization, collecting and mining information and shooting it through stovepipes while other functions are preferentially outsourced and the appearance of central control is assiduously maintained. The original model is corporate, and the only application suggested by the authors is to the military, but the evidence of these principles in action in the civilian administration is ominous, as management technique encroaches on the realm of public accountability. The War on Terror has allowed corporate and military organizational principles to creep into civilian administration, but the actual practice has revealed some major problems.

The application of these techniques in the Bush administration shows some risks and internal contradictions as well. Even as the organization is vertically compacted so that information can flow from bottom to top more quickly, it is laterally expanded, and often the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Cutting out the middle has led to disastrously faulty intelligence, just as cutting out human data processing has led to confusion on the battlefield, and the freedom to fail has outstripped the illusion of central control as scandals multiply in the ranks of the neoconservatives. Critics of the Bush administration can hope that the unfolding scandals resulting from poor information management, too much dispersed autonomy and freedom to fail in the White House, the vice president's office and the Pentagon will prevent the ultimate triumph of a homegrown American military corporatism. [...]

Comment: Critics of the Bush administration also hoped that Kerry would win the election. Given what Bush and the Neocons have "accomplished" in the first four years, another four years will certainly ensure the completion of the transformation of the US into a fascist military corporation.

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New York Art Shuttered After Bush Monkey Portrait
By Larry Fine
Mon Dec 13, 3:57 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A portrait of President Bush using monkeys to form his image led to the closure of a New York art exhibition over the weekend and anguished protests on Monday over freedom of expression.

"Bush Monkeys," a small acrylic on canvas by Chris Savido, created the stir at the Chelsea Market public space, leading the market's managers to close down the 60-piece show that was scheduled to stay up for the next month.

The show featured art from the upcoming issue of Animal Magazine, a quarterly publication featuring emerging artists.

"We had tons of people, like more than 2,000 people show up for the opening on Thursday night," said show organizer Bucky Turco. "Then this manager saw the piece and the guy just kind of flipped out. 'The show is over. Get this work down or I'm gonna arrest you,' he said. It's been kind of wild."

Turco took the show down on Saturday and moved the art work to his small downtown Animal Gallery. Calls to the management of Chelsea Market for comment were not returned.

From afar, the painting offers a likeness of Bush, but when you get closer you see the image is made up of chimpanzees or monkeys swimming in a marsh.

Savido, 23, said he was surprised by the strong reaction to his painting, listed in the catalog at $3,500.

"It seems like people got a kick out of it," Savido said. "When they really see it, they almost do a double-take. I like to get a reaction from people."

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-bred artist said he was happy for all the attention paid to his work but said the decision to shutter the exhibit was "a blatant act of censorship."

Savido plans to auction the painting and donate proceeds to an organization dedicated to freedom of expression.

"This is much deeper than art. This is fundamental American rights, freedom of speech," Savido said. "To see that something like this can happen, especially in a place like New York City is mind boggling and scary."

Comment: If freedom of expression is being smothered in art circles in the US...

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Homeland Security Department Experiments With New Tool to Track Financial Crime
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
Published: December 12, 2004

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 - The Department of Homeland Security has begun experimenting with a wide-ranging computer database that allows investigators to match financial transactions against a list of some 250,000 people and firms with suspected ties to terrorist financing, drug trafficking, money laundering and other financial crimes.

The program, developed by a British company and used in recent test runs at the Department of Homeland Security, gives investigators what amounts to an enormous global watch list to track possible financial crimes at American border crossings, banks and other financial institutions.

"This is something that's shown promise," said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. While the program is still in its trial stage, Mr. Boyd said, "it's interesting technology, and it would give us another tool in the box, but there's been no decision made on whether to put it into operation or not."

He stressed that the software had not been used as part of any criminal investigations or other operations.

David Leppan, chief executive of World-Check, the British company that has provided the database to American officials, said the recent test runs had produced a number of promising hits on people with suspected criminal ties overseas who had entered the United States with more than $10,000 in cash or made other financial transactions in this country that were reported to the government.

The program provides yet another indication of the wide-ranging efforts by American officials to look for new technological tools in fighting terrorism and other international crime. But it also raises privacy and civil liberties questions because domestic security officials are relying on a private overseas firm to provide a voluminous list of people and companies that it considers to represent a "high risk" of committing financial crimes, based on an assortment of public records and data.

"There's a real risk in a situation like this because there's really no accountability," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group based in Washington devoted to privacy issues. "People can find themselves on a watch list incorrectly, and the consequences can be very serious."

Mr. Rotenberg likened the trial program at the department to a Pentagon operation disclosed last year in which JetBlue airlines agreed to turn over data on millions of its passengers to a private contractor doing antiterrorism work for the military. In both cases, Mr. Rotenberg said, government officials effectively "outsourced" the job to private firms "in order to develop profiles on people and circumvent U.S. privacy laws."

With a proliferation of private companies looking to profit from a surge in national security contracts, he said, "we'll see more arrangements like this, and we're likely to see more and more companies in the dot-connecting business."

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security and at World-Check said they were mindful of privacy concerns. [...]

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Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena
By THOM SHANKER and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: December 13, 2004

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 - The Pentagon is engaged in bitter, high-level debate over how far it can and should go in managing or manipulating information to influence opinion abroad, senior Defense Department civilians and military officers say.

Such missions, if approved, could take the deceptive techniques endorsed for use on the battlefield to confuse an adversary and adopt them for covert propaganda campaigns aimed at neutral and even allied nations.

Critics of the proposals say such deceptive missions could shatter the Pentagon's credibility, leaving the American public and a world audience skeptical of anything the Defense Department and military say - a repeat of the credibility gap that roiled America during the Vietnam War.

The efforts under consideration risk blurring the traditional lines between public affairs programs in the Pentagon and military branches - whose charters call for giving truthful information to the media and the public - and the world of combat information campaigns or psychological operations.

The question is whether the Pentagon and military should undertake an official program that uses disinformation to shape perceptions abroad. But in a modern world wired by satellite television and the Internet, any misleading information and falsehoods could easily be repeated by American news outlets.

The military has faced these tough issues before. Nearly three years ago, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, under intense criticism, closed the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence, a short-lived operation to provide news items, possibly including false ones, to foreign journalists in an effort to influence overseas opinion.

Now, critics say, some of the proposals of that discredited office are quietly being resurrected elsewhere in the military and in the Pentagon.

Pentagon and military officials directly involved in the debate say that such a secret propaganda program, for example, could include planting news stories in the foreign press or creating false documents and Web sites translated into Arabic as an effort to discredit and undermine the influence of mosques and religious schools that preach anti-American principles.

Some of those are in the Middle Eastern and South Asian countries like Pakistan, still considered a haven for operatives of Al Qaeda. But such a campaign could reach even to allied countries like Germany, for example, where some mosques have become crucibles for Islamic militancy and anti-Americanism.

Before the invasion of Iraq, the military's vast electronic-warfare arsenal was used to single out certain members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle with e-mail messages and cellphone calls in an effort to sway them to the American cause. Arguments have been made for similar efforts to be mounted at leadership circles in other nations where the United States is not at war.

During the cold war, American intelligence agencies had journalists on their payrolls or operatives posing as journalists, particularly in Western Europe, with the aim of producing pro-American articles to influence the populations of those countries. But officials say that no one is considering using such tactics now.

Suspicions about disinformation programs also arose in the 1980's when the White House was accused of using such a campaign to destabilize Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya.

In the current debate, it is unclear how far along the other programs are or to what extent they are being carried out because of their largely classified nature.

Within the Pentagon, some of the military's most powerful figures have expressed concerns at some of the steps taken that risk blurring the traditional lines between public affairs and the world of combat information operations.

These tensions were cast into stark relief this summer in Iraq when Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, approved the combining of the command's day-to-day public affairs operations with combat psychological and information operations into a single "strategic communications office."

In a rare expression of senior-level questions about such decisions, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued a memorandum warning the military's regional combat commanders about the risks of mingling the military public affairs too closely with information operations.

"While organizations may be inclined to create physically integrated P.A./I.O. offices, such organizational constructs have the potential to compromise the commander's credibility with the media and the public," it said.

But General Myers's memorandum is not being followed, according to officers in Iraq, largely because commanders there believe they are safely separating the two operations and say they need all the flexibility possible to combat the insurgency.

Indeed, senior military officials in Washington say public affairs officers in war zones might, by choice or under pressure, issue statements to world news media that, while having elements of truth, are clearly devised primarily to provoke a response from the enemy.

Comment: Ah, the convoluted world of psy-ops propaganda. It seems the American intelligence community is concerned that their deliberate lies spread in foreign countries will get picked up by western news outlets, thereby throwing their credibility into question.

Not that they had any credibility to begin with.

We are meant to feel sorry for the poor folks at the Pentagon who are struggling with this most important and divisive issue.

Seeing that the above article comes from the New York Times, it could be considered as a form of psy-ops propaganda in itself.

Consider the following assumptions:

By it's own admission, the Pentagon knowingly spreads false information on purpose. Although they claim that this is only done in regimes hostile to the United States, there is no reason why we should be believe them, as they could be lying about that too.

According to their charter they strive to give "truthful" information to the media and public. But we can never know this for sure, as they are so adept at lying in other ways, this could also be a lie.

They are worried that their false and misleading stories might get repeated by western news outlets. However, as it has been well documented that most mainstream news outlets are merely mouthpieces for government dogma and the banking elite who employ them, reporting false and misleading stories are their raison d'etre. How is this problem any different from the status quo?

Even though during the cold war they claim to have had journalists on their payroll and operatives posing as journalists, officials assure us that this is not happening now. For an organization that lies so frequently and openly, we can be forgiven for being somewhat skeptical about this factoid also.

In fact, because they admit their secret program includes...

"...planting news stories in the foreign press or creating false documents and Web sites translated into Arabic as an effort to discredit and undermine the influence of mosques and religious schools that preach anti-American principles."

there is every reason to suspect that the exact same process is happening here.

It appears most probable, through their own admission and past behaviour, that virtually every news story and press release coming out of Iraq or Palestine intended for a western audience is subject to the same deliberate skewing and planting of falsehoods routinely used in other countries.

Think about that.

Stories of attacks attributed to Zarqawi or Al Qaeda are for the most part pure fiction.

It seems that only an extremely naive or self-deluded individual (or perhaps a highly-paid NYT's pundit), could think that the American people would be exempt from such overt manipulation.

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BLACK BOX COVER-UP

By Greg Szymanski
AmericanFreePress

Rescue workers silenced after exposing 9-11 whitewash

A 9-11 rescue worker recently came forward to say he was told by FBI agents to “keep my mouth shut” about one of the “black boxes” a fellow firefighter helped locate at ground zero, contradicting the official story that none of the flight and cockpit data recorders were ever recovered in the wreckage of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers.

Honorary firefighter Mike Bellone claims he was approached by unknown bureau agents a short time after he and his partner, Nicholas DeMasi, a retired New York firefighter, found three of the four “black boxes” among the WTC rubble before January 2002.

The pair first claimed in an August 2003 book entitled Behind the Scene: Ground Zero to have found the data recorders.

DeMasi said the “black boxes” were found while he traversed “ground zero” in his all-terrain vehicle (ATV) with three federal agents.

FBI and New York fire officials have denied ever finding the voice and data recorders.

Now Bellone claims agents were adamant about keeping the discovery a secret.

“They confronted me and told me to not to say anything,” recalled Bellone, referring to one of three reddish-orange boxes with two white stripes he saw in the back of DeMasi’s ATV. “I said, ‘Give me a good reason.’ When they couldn’t, I told them I wouldn’t shut up about it.

“Why should I? I have nothing to hide and nothing to gain. It’s the truth, and Nick and I are sticking to our story as we always have.”

Bellone said he and DeMasi were not the only 9-11 rescue workers to see the “black boxes.” He said there were several other witnesses and said he knows they have been silenced by federal agents.

“I know two or three others saw what went down, but they are not talking,” said Bellone. “They got to those guys after they talked to me. The only reason I can figure they are trying to hide the truth is that the government knows it screwed up, and the recorders would prove it.”

Asked to give names of the other witnesses, he said he wouldn’t break a fellow worker’s confidence by revealing his identity.

“I can tell you this, though, it was all very strange. I worked on the spaceship Columbia cleanup, and you know when something important is found and when something is not,” he said.

The day the “black boxes” were secretly carted away, agents acted like “something big was going down,” he added.

Bellone said he never learned the FBI agents’ names as this type of personal contact and information wasn’t exchanged between the civilian workers and government officials working side-by-side at ground zero.

“They had on their FBI jackets, but I’m sure I could pick them out of a lineup or recognize their pictures,” said Bellone.

The pair’s bombshell accusations blow a big hole in the official story as well as the findings in the recent 9-11 commission report.”

In Chapter 1, footnote 76, there is the sole but definitive reference to the airline “black boxes”: “The CVR’s and the FDR’s [voice and flight data recorders] from American 11 and United 175 were not found.”

Asked if DeMasi and Bellone were questioned or subpoenaed, commission spokesman Al Felzenberg said: “I can’t tell you now if he was one of the 1,200 people we interviewed or if the book was one of the countless ones we researched. We explored every lead, but I will try to find out if we talked with him and get back to you.”

Bellone said commission members never contacted him or DeMasi and never asked the two to appear before the group even though the book was published well before the hearings commenced.

“I have been contacted by only one newspaper reporter, from The Philadelphia Daily News,” said Bellone, referring to an October 2004 story by reporter William Bunch, who recapped DeMasi’s statements as well as the usual official denials.

Those close to the 9-11 investigation said the recovery of the “black boxes” is important because they may hold vital clues about what really happened on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

The cockpit voice recorder uses a pair of microphones to capture all cockpit sounds for the last 30 minutes of a doomed flight. The flight data recorder is also significant since it records altitude, heading and airspeed.

Both recorders are designed to withstand enormous impact and heat. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials said they should have withstood the conditions at the WTC.

And finding the boxes after a crash seems to be standard procedure, according to the NTSB.

“It’s extremely rare that we don’t get the recorders back,’ said NTSB spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz. “I can’t remember another case which we did not recover the recorders.”

Bellone is retired and was made an honorary New York fireman for his efforts after 9-11. DeMasi has recently retired from Engine Co. 261, nicknamed the “Flaming Skulls.”

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U.S. presses poised to print foreign money
By Jeannine Aversa
ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 13, 2004

The government's giant printing presses soon could be cranking out something in addition to the old greenback.

The Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing has received the go-ahead from Congress to print other countries' currencies.

A provision giving the bureau this authority is part of a bill awaiting President Bush's signature that overhauls the country's intelligence operations.

Although the government wouldn't profit from such ventures, bureau director Thomas Ferguson said, the experience could help it sharpen its anti-counterfeiting skills.

"It would give us an opportunity to do some interesting things that we might be able to learn from and possibly use to help us do U.S. currency better," Mr. Ferguson said.

So far, the bureau hasn't lined up the business of any countries, he said. It plans a low-key marketing approach.

"We'll certainly let countries know, but we're not a marketing firm. We're not a private company. We'll be available if they need us," Mr. Ferguson said.

He sees a potential target in small, developing countries that lack the technical wherewithal to produce their own currencies.

Under the bill, the bureau would have the authority to produce paper money, postage stamps and other so-called "security" documents, such as driver's licenses and passports, for foreign governments. [...]

After Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was ousted and Iraq's economy was being rebuilt, a British company, De La Rue, snagged the contract to print the new Iraqi dinar.

"In 2003, U.S. taxpayers paid a foreign printing company approximately $80 million to produce the new Iraqi currency," Brian Roseboro, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for domestic finance, told a House committee in September. [...]

Comment: Preparation for the next invasion? But don't worry, the US won't actually profit from printing money, stamps, driver's licenses, and passports for other countries...

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Spying on El Baradei, Targeting Iran

A Dose of Non-Delusional Reality for Douglas Feith

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
December 13, 2004

Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith is the neocon Likudnik who was tasked with cooking up the false "intelligence" that President Bush used to deceive the US public into supporting an illegal invasion of Iraq. With the US military now trapped in the Iraqi quagmire, Feith wants the US to attack Iran.

President Bush falsely claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq was linked to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, and that Iraq would give weapons of mass destruction to anti-American terrorists. Senior members of the Bush administration terrified the US public with prospects of mushroom clouds going up over US cities.

Having been proved 100% wrong about Iraq, the Bush administration now claims that the nonexistent WMD are in Iran, or maybe Syria. During recent weeks the Bush administration worked overtime to terrify the US public into believing that Iran is building nuclear weapons and missiles with which to destroy American cities.

To ward off yet another gratuitous and illegal US attack on a Muslim country, Europe, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and US experts such as Gordon Prather have exposed the Bush administration's false claims. But the Bush administration ignores factual truth. Bush has his own "truth," a delusional "truth" independent of all evidence.

Israel's rightwing Likud Party regards Feith as one of its own. The Jerusalem Post described Feith as "a staunch supporter of Israel" (Dec. 12). In an exclusive interview Feith told that paper that despite the intercession of Britain, France, Germany and the IAEA against a US attack on Iran, the Bush administration has not ruled out taking military action against Iran.

In other words, the neocon Bush administration has already decided to attack Iran and Syria. The only question is what kind of lie can Bush use to get away with it.

But first Bush has to take over the IAEA, which has steadfastly refused to go along with Bush's propaganda against Iran. According to the Washington Post (Dec. 12), the Bush administration has been tapping the telephones of the head of the IAEA, M. ElBaradei, hoping to find damaging information with which to frame, blackmail, or taint him as an Iranian ally.

Unable to find or to manufacture any evidence against ElBaradei, the Bush administration is using an orchestrated campaign of anonymous accusations in an effort to oust the IAEA director and to replace him with a US puppet. The problem is that ElBaradei is more highly regarded than any member of the tainted Bush administration, including President Bush himself. So far Bush cannot find anyone anywhere in the world, including our British puppet, who is willing to be associated with the Bush administration's disgraceful intentions.

The important unanswered question is: why do the neocons with their proven record of duplicity and delusion still hold the reigns of power in the Bush administration? Why isn't Feith in prison? Martha Stewart is in prison for "lying" about a noncrime. Feith's lies have killed thousands. The Iraq war is based entirely on neocon lies. The war is costing the US a fortune it does not have. The war is producing US casualties comparable to those of the Vietnam war and has killed a minimum of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

The neocons have destroyed Iraq's infrastructure, alienated the entire Muslim world and made the US the most hated country on the planet.

What does Douglas Feith think the effect would be on Shi'ite Iraq of a US attack on Shi'ite Iran? The only reason the US army in Iraq has not been totally destroyed is the wait-and-see attitude of the majority Shi'ites, who expect to take control of Iraq once there is an election. If the US attacks Iran, the Iraqi Shi'ite clerics will not be able to maintain their neutrality toward the US occupation of Iraq. [...]

The current Iraqi insurgency is drawn from Sunni ranks. Sunnis comprise only 20% of Iraq's population. Yet, Sunnis have tied down 8 US divisions while inflicting horrendous casualties on US troops. If Bush escalates US aggression in the Middle East, he will create a larger insurgency.

Imagine the US casualty rate if the Iraqi insurgency was drawn from 80% of the population. The temporary Shi'ite insurgency of the minor cleric, Al Sadr, caused tremendous US consternation. What would be the US casualty rate if, instead of sitting on their hands, all the Shi'ites had joined the insurgency?

Iran covers almost four times the area of Iraq and has more than 2.5 times the population. If Bush attacks Iran, he will create an insurgency there as well, one that could spill over into Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Bush's war is achieving a Shi'ite unity that will redraw Middle Eastern boundaries and eliminate secular Muslim governments. Shi'ite unity will merge with the anti-American terrorists and drive all Western expatriates out of the Middle East. Indeed, the departures are already underway. Israel will be isolated, exposed to the consequences of its aggression against the Palestinians.

Fox "News" and right-wing talk radio crazies misinform us that we are kicking terrorist butt, but in non-delusional reality, we are unifying Islam and ending forever Western influence in the Middle East.

Comment: Either the Neocon masterminds behind Bush are complete idiots, or they know darn well what they are doing. They also seem to believe they can defeat all the "terrorists" they are creating. While it seems that the Zionists controlling Israel and the Neocons controlling the US are best buddies, one has to wonder what the US will do about Israel's impending isolation in the Middle East. There cannot be two emperors ruling the world, so the two groups are no doubt both planning to "take care" of the other...

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Defamation: Harassing Kofi Annan
Réseau Voltaire

The campaign organised by the White House to force Kofi Annan to resign started with a network of newspapers in Iraq, the United Kingdom, and in the United States. Then it mobilized the CIA, Republican congressmen and organizations. Suspected of corruption, the UN's Secretary General was paralysed. But, once again, the White House managed to unite everyone against it, involuntarily reinforcing Mr. Annan's authority.

The General Assembly of the United Nations gave Kofi Annan a standing ovation on December 8, 2004. Only the US delegation remained still during the thunder of the long applause. Diplomats from 190 delegations displayed their support for the Secretary General who had been subjected to a slanderous media campaign demanding his resignation.

It all began on January 25 when the Iraqi daily Al Mada affirmed that Saddam Hussein had misappropriated money from the "Oil for Food" programme in order to buy off 270 personalities across the world, in order to obtain their support on the international stage, and in order to attempt to obtain the materials necessary for the construction of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Those who opposed the war were no more than "clients" of the tyrant of Baghdad. We have demonstrated the absurdity of these allegations in these pages [1]. Our investigation was largely taken up by the international press [2].

A month later, the neo-conservative journalist Claudia Rosett, writing in the Wall Street Journal, accused Kofi Annan of complicity. The Secretary General of the UN supposedly allowed Saddam Hussein to make off with considerable amounts from the "Oil for Food" programme, and it was this money that was given to the individuals identified by Al Mada. Mrs Rosett is, by the way, paid by Richard Perle's Hudson Institute (while Perle was the chairman of the Pentagon Defence Commission) and by James Woolsey's Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Woolsey is a former director of the CIA.

On February 29, the New York Times published a long investigation, based upon documents furnished by the Provisional Authority of the Coalition and the Treasury Department, and corroborated by witnesses that attested to the misappropriation of funds [4]. On March 3, Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a friend of Ahmed Chalabi and consultant for the Council of the Iraqi government, the body that had been cited as the likely informant for Al Mada, ordered an audit from KPMG International. A week later, audit leaks, published by Claudia Rosett in the National Review, revealed that Kojo Annan, the Secretary General's son, received a salary from Cotecna, a company in the "Oil for Food" programme [5]. Kofi Annan was therefore not only an incompetent bureaucrat, he was himself corrupt.

On March 18, the US House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations got involved [6]. Confronted with this campaign, Mr. Annan ordered an internal investigation. He did so with serenity because the programme was not under his jurisdiction, but was under the authority of the Security Council and a Sanctions Committee named by the former.

The affair came back into the headlines on April 7 with the hearings organized by Richard G. Lugar before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The honourable Senator accused the UN of having, through either negligence or corruption, increased the suffering of the Iraqi people, of having financed arms purchases by Iraq, and finally, of having increased US losses during the "liberation" of Iraq. The director of the General Accounting Office (GAO) deposited a report that established that, from 1997 to 2002, Iraq had received 5.7 billion dollars in illegal oil sales and 4.4 billion dollars in overbilling, for a total of 10.1 billion dollars [8]. The GAO claimed to have obtained this information its study of contracts transmitted to the Provisional Authority of the Coalition (represented at the hearings). The report gave no precise indication on the modalities of this misappropriation nor on the use that was made of this money.

On April 16, Commentary, the magazine of the American Jewish Committee, published a long study by Claudia Rosett presenting the neo-conservative version of the affair [9]. In spite of the obvious errors in its analysis, this work became the neo-conservative reference. It was not the object of discussions but rather an object of developments.

The same day, Kofi Annan made public the composition of the independent inquiry commission. It was chaired by a former boss of the US Federal Reserve, Paul Volker. Then, on April 21, the US House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations organized new hearing, not so much to throw light on the events but rather to confuse things by trying to prove that foreign leaders who opposed the invasion had been bought off by Saddam Hussein [10]. Other than US officials (such as ambassador John Negroponte), the Congressmen heard from the inevitable Claudia Rosett, as well as Dr. Raphaeli from MEMRI (a propaganda outlet created by officers of Tsahal and which had distributed the articles published by Al Mada), Nile Gariner of the Heritage Foundation, and Dr. Edward C. Luck of Columbia University's Center for the Study of International Organisations [11].

It so happens that some of the Iraqi documents cited during the hearings had been published by the Daily Telegraph of London, owned by Hollinger Group on whose Board we find Richard Perle (employer of Claudia Rosett at the Hudson Institute). They asserted that the Labour MP George Galloway, leader of the anti-war movement, had been bought off by Saddam Hussein for at least 375,000 pounds sterling. Other documents from the same source had been published in the Christian Science Monitor, also throwing suspicion on George Galloway who was immediately suspended from the Labour Party. He claimed he was innocent and that there was a plot to get him [12].

On July 8, 2004, it was the US House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality that opened new hearings, once more with Claudia Rosett [13]. The GAO used the occasion to depose another report [14]. The affair was back in the news on September 30 with the publication by the CIA of Charles Duelfer's report on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction [15]. There we learned that if the weapons didn't exist, they could have existed because Saddam Hussein tried to procure them with money taken from the "Oil for Food" programme. The cherry on the cake was the CIA's confirmation and completion of the list originally published in Al Mada. The vice was closing.

On November 17 the US House International Relations Committee narrowed in on the target. It heard representatives from BNPParibas [16]. In fact, according to Ms. Rosett, the French bank managed the programme [17]. Then, the dossier was sent to the US House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations to be finalized.

During this time, the organization Move America Forward broadcast ads on US television networks calling for the UN to be kicked out of the country [19]. December 1, Senator Norm Coleman came right out and said it: in the Wall Street Journal, he called upon Kofi Annan to resign [20]. According to Coleman, even if the Secretary General is innocent of the suspicions, he should resign during the investigation. Fox News joined in on the campaign. On the air, Bill O'Reilly spoke of a "criminal enterprise" that brought in 20 billion dollars to Saddam Hussein (the double of the amount evaluated by the GAO) [21]. Heritage Foundation analyst Nile Gardiner pushed it up to 21 billion [22]. President Bush declared he was "troubled". Other members of Congress added their support to Coleman's appeal. Others wrote up a proposed law making US payment of funds to the UN conditional on a clarification of the scandal. The New York City Senate opposed a project for an extension to the UN buildings, this now unwelcome guest.

However, this entire campaign is slanderous. The "Oil for Food" programme was supervised by the Security Council. No operation could have taken place without the knowledge of the Anglo-Saxons. The commissions versed out were done with the backing of the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries themselves designated the beneficiaries which shows that at least a part of the operations were legal. The system didn't pass uniquely through a single French bank, the BNP, but half of the funds went through the Chase Manhattan Bank. If the integrity of one high-level bureaucrat in the UN, the Cyprian Benon Sevan, is perhaps in doubt, that of Mr. Annan is not. The sums paid to his son were part of a non-competition clause signed when he left the company.

Some of the documents cited are fakes, as the High Court of London admitted when it convicted the Christian Science Monitor and the Daily Telegraph for their accusations against George Galloway. However, it took over a year for the MP to see justice done, and the Anglo-Saxons don't wish to give this time to Mr. Annan. The campaign has several objectives.

In the first place, to rewrite history. The "Oil for Food" programme was forcibly obtained from the Anglo-Saxons, who didn't want to lift the embargo, by the international community in order to stave off famine. It was largely insufficient. Maintaining the embargo cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Secondly, to justify the invasion of Iraq a posteriori. Sure, there were no weapons of mass destruction, but Saddam Hussein wanted to buy them by embezzling the money targeted for feeding his people. However, this money wasn't spent on arms but on goods of primary necessity.

Thirdly, the opportunity was too good to pass up to get rid of a Secretary General who had been elected with the support of Washington and who nonetheless declared the invasion of Iraq "illegal". After having tapped his phones [23] and having vainly attempted to catch him in a scandal, the scandal had to be manufactured. To eliminate Kofi Annan is to put into question the UN itself. It is to affirm that the law of the strongest predominates over international law.

The international community was not fooled by this mystification. States, intergovernmental organizations, and personalities all supported Kofi Annan, leading to the standing ovation at the General Assembly. Immediately, the White House retreated. Ambassador Danforth assured the press that Washington never intended to put pressure on Mr. Annan.

[1] « L'Intox des barils irakiens », Voltaire, 30 January 2004.
[2] See for example the article by Abdulmajid Attar, former CEO of Sonatrach, published in
Dar Al-Hayat and summarised in Voltaire, 6 February 2004 : « Offrir des barils de
pétrole secrètement ? ! ».
[3] « The Real World : Fishy Accounting Over Iraq » by Claudia Rosett, The Wall Street
Journal, 25 February 2004.
[4] « Hussein's Regime Skimmed Billions From Aid Program » under the direction of Susan
Sachs, The New York Times, 29 February 2004.
[5] « Kojo and Kofi » by Claudia Rosett, National Review Online, 10 March 2004.
[6] The Hunt for Saddam's Money : U.S. and Foreign Efforts to Recover Iraq's Stolen
Money,US House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, 18
March 2004.
[7] A review of the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program, US Senate Committee on
Foreign Relations, 7 April 2004.
[8] Observations on the Oil for Food Program, Statement of Joseph A. Christoff, Director,
International Affairs and Trade, GAO n° 04-651T, 7 April 2004.
[9] « The Oil-for-Food Scam : What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It ? »
by Claudia Rosett, Commentary, 16 April 2004.
[10] « L'intox des barils, suite et fin ? », Voltaire, 19 April 2004.
[11] The Iraq Oil-For-Food program : Straving for Accountability, US House Government
Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International
Relations, 21 April 2004.
[12] « Qui veut la peau de George Galloway ?, Voltaire, 17 July 2003.
[13] Unites Nations Oil For Food Program, US House Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, 8 July 2004.
[14] Observations on the Oil for Food Program and areas for Further Investigations,
Statement of Joseph A. Christoff, Director International Affairs and Trade, GAO, 8 July
2004.
[15] Comprehensive Report of the Special Adviser to the Director of the Central
Intelligence on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, CIA, 30 September 2004.
[16] The Oil For Food Program : Tracking the Funds, US House International Relations
Committee, 17 November 2004.
[17] « La campagne anti-française de la Chambre des représentants », Voltaire, 18
November 2004.
[18] The U.N. Oil for Food Program : Cash Cow Meets Paper Tiger, US House Government
Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International
Relations, 5 October 2004.
[19] « Qui veut bouter l'ONU hors des États-Unis ?, Voltaire, 23 November 2004.
[20] « Kofi Annan Must Go » by Norm Coleman, The Wall Street Journal, 1 December
2004. Article summarised in Voltaire 2 December 2004.
[21] « The O'Reilly Factor » Fox News, 6 December 2004.
[22] « Kofi Annan Must Go » by Nile Gardiner, Human Events, 10 December 2004.
[23] « Washington et Londres placent l'ONU sur écoutes », Voltaire, 4 March 2003.

Translated by Signs of the Times

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France Orders TV Station Off Airwaves
By ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press Writer
Mon Dec 13, 7:24 PM ET

PARIS - France's highest administrative body on Monday ordered the TV station of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group off French airwaves within 48 hours for broadcasting hateful content in some shows and posing risks to public order.

The decision came after a Nov. 23 Al-Manar program quoted someone described as an expert on Zionist affairs warning of "Zionist attempts" to transmit dangerous diseases like AIDS to Arab countries. Another program the same day glorified attacks against Israel, the administrative body said.

The Council of State ordered Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat to stop broadcasting Al-Manar within two days or pay a fine of $6,600 a day.

The station broadcast some programs that were "openly contrary" to a French law banning incitement to hate, a situation that poses "risks to maintaining public order," the council said in its 11-page ruling.

However, the council left open the possibility that Al-Manar could keep operating if the company that airs the station, the Lebanese Communication Group, shows itself ready to modify its programs to conform with French law.

In Beirut, Al-Manar TV condemned the French ban as "a dangerous precedent" against the Arab media and blamed Israeli pressure for it.

The decision risks a tit-for-tat move against France. Last Friday, Lebanese media officials warned that any decision to suspend or cancel Al-Manar could force Lebanese officials to take action against French stations.

On Thursday, Lebanese Information Minister Elie Ferzli said his country "would not remain silent" if French measures are taken against Al-Manar, which is operated by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

France's High Audiovisual Council, or CSA, has said that Al-Manar violated a Nov. 19 agreement as well as the French law banning media from inciting hatred or violence for reasons of religion or nationality.

Under the agreement, the Lebanese Communication Group committed itself to diffusing programs that reconcile its editorial line with the principles governing French and European law, the Council of State said.

"This commitment was not respected," the council ruled.

The controversy erupted a year ago after an umbrella group of French Jewish organizations complained about the programming. It came to a boil in recent months as more programs deemed offensive were aired.

Comment: While we certainly do not advocate violence against any nation, people, or religion, certain facts remain regarding Israel's interest in biological weapons. See our Ethnic Specific Weapons Supplement for more information.

Consider what would have happened in pretty much any country around the world if Zionists had accused some Arab group of attempting to transmit dangerous diseases to Israel. Would anyone have blinked? Of course not. We have all been brainwashed into believing that Arabs are terrorists. And does anyone even flinch if Zionists or any other group advocate slaughtering Arabs in the name of defense? Of course not. How many countries have even raised a finger to help - and we mean REALLY help - to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? How many countries have put their foot down when they read reports of IDF soldiers shooting little Palestinian girls in the head? How many countries have taken action against the US push for global domination? Does everyone have their head buried in the sand, or are they perhaps being prevented from acting for some reason - and by whom?

Who benefits?

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Hamas Member Escapes Damascus Attack, Israel Blamed
Dec 13, 2004 — By Inal Ersan

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syria blamed Israel's Mossad intelligence service for a bombing in Damascus on Monday which a Palestinian source in Beirut said was a failed attempt to kill a member of the militant Hamas group.

Three people were slightly hurt in the explosion which destroyed the silver sports utility vehicle owned by the unidentified Palestinian, who escaped unhurt.

The attack was the second one of its kind in the Syrian capital in less than two months, and it came one day after Hamas and another armed Palestinian group killed five Israeli soldiers in a carefully planned attack on their outpost in Gaza.

"The entity behind it is the Mossad; collaborators with the Mossad or the Mossad in particular," Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan told Syrian Satellite Channel when asked about who was suspected to be behind the explosion that targeted what he described as a Palestinian citizen.

A senior Israeli official called the accusation "nonsense."

"Such nonsense does not warrant a comment. Instead of blaming Israel, the Syrians should be cracking down on the terrorists in their midst, as required by the international community," the official, who requested anonymity, said in Jerusalem.

The Palestinian source in Beirut said the bomb, placed under the driver's seat, blew up shortly after the unnamed Hamas member and his daughter parked the car and left.

The blast occurred near a hospital and a petrol station which was not damaged. [...]

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Kelly 'could not have died' from knife wound, paramedics claim

DAN MCDOUGALL
Scotsman.co.uk
Monday 13th December

POLICE have rejected calls to re-open the inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly, the government weapons expert, after two paramedics who found him at the scene of his death said he could not have died from self-inflicted knife wounds.

Dave Bartlett and Vanessa Hunt, both ambulance workers, yesterday spoke out for the first time since the Hutton Inquiry, which concluded that Dr Kelly had committed suicide and died of wounds to the ulnar artery in his left wrist.

The paramedics disputed the findings of the investigation, claiming there was not enough blood at the scene to merit the official conclusions.

They had raised the same concerns while giving evidence to the inquiry last year.

Dr Kelly was found dead in July 2003 shortly after being named as the source of a BBC story which claimed that the government had "sexed-up" a dossier on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

His body was discovered at Harrowdown Hill woods, Oxfordshire, prompting the government to appoint Lord Hutton to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the scientist’s death.

In his report, published in January this year, Lord Hutton concluded that Dr Kelly, 59, had killed himself by cutting his left wrist after taking co-proxamol painkillers, adding that there was no evidence whatsoever that any third party had been involved.

But Ms Hunt, a paramedic with more than ten years’ experience, said yesterday that shortly after arriving at the scene of Dr Kelly’s death she concluded he had not died by slashing his wrists.

She said: "I just think it is incredibly unlikely that he died from the wrist wound we saw. There just wasn’t a lot of blood. When someone cuts an artery, whether accidentally or intentionally, the blood pumps everywhere."

She added: "When we arrived on the scene there was no gaping wound, there wasn’t a puddle of blood around. There was a little bit of blood on the nettles to the left of his left arm. But there was no real blood on the body of the shirt.

"If you manage to cut a wrist and catch an artery you would get a spraying of blood, regardless of whether it’s an accident. Because of the nature of an arterial cut, you get a pumping action. I would certainly expect a lot more blood on his clothing, on his shirt.

"If you choose to cut your wrists, you don’t worry about getting blood on your clothes. I didn’t see any blood on his right hand. If he used his right hand to cut his wrist, you would expect some spray," the paramedic said.

Ms Hunt’s claims were backed yesterday by a number of prominent experts, including Dr Bill McQuillan, a former consultant at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, who for 20 years has dealt with hundreds of wrist accidents.

"I have never seen one death resulting from cutting an ulnar artery," Dr McQuillan said. "I can’t see how he would lose more than a pint of blood by cutting the ulnar."

But despite growing doubts about the case, other forensic experts remain "satisfied" with Lord Hutton’s verdict.

According to Dr Bob Van Hegan, a consultant pathologist, the paramedics’ assessment of the manner in which Dr Kelly died was purely speculative.

He said: "I don’t see the discrepancies. People will sometimes set out to kill themselves and die of another cause."

Dr Hagen said there were "three factors operating" which could have contributed to the scientist’s death, in addition to the wrist wound.

He pointed out that Dr Kelly’s coronary arteries were in a poor condition and that he suffered from a vascular disease and had taken an opiate drug.

In March this year the Oxfordshire coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, decided not to reconvene the inquest into Dr Kelly’s death after it was adjourned while Lord Hutton held his inquiry.

But in the wake of Lord Hutton’s verdict, Mr Gardiner, who himself examined Dr Kelly’s body, said he had received "substantial correspondence from people believing they had relevant evidence" regarding the scientist’s death.

Among the points they made was that Lord Hutton was a judge, not an expert coroner, and that he did not have the power to compel witnesses to attend.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said yesterday that they had no intention of re-opening the case.

He said: "We are fully satisfied with the outcome of the investigation into David Kelly’s death. The inquiry and the coroner agreed with our findings.

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13 dead in Baghdad suicide car blast
SMH
December 14, 2004

A suicide car bomb ripped through a line of vehicles at a checkpoint outside Baghdad's international Green Zone, killing 13 people as Iraq marked the first anniversary of Saddam Hussein's capture.

Elsewhere, seven US marines were killed in a restive western province and US officials denied claims that Saddam and senior members of his regime were on hunger strike at a secret detention location.

Police and hospital sources told the Associated Press that at least 13 died and 15 were wounded in yesterday's bombing near the Green Zone.

The US military said no coalition personnel were among the casualties.

The frequently targeted and tightly guarded area houses foreign embassies and Iraq's US-backed interim Government in buildings including one of Saddam's former palaces.

An officer said a car had waited in line to enter the zone at the western Harthiyah gate and exploded as it reached the checkpoint.

Fifteen other vehicles were damaged or destroyed.

A group led by al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, according to an internet statement.

"On this blessed day, a lion from the martyrs battalion struck a group of apostates and Americans in the Green Zone,'' al-Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in Iraq said in a statement posted on a website used by Islamists.

In a separate attack, two mortar rounds landed in the Green Zone  and a third hit the grounds of a nearby hotel.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the strikes.

In the southern city of Basra, the British consulate came under mortar fire on Sunday night but no damage or injuries were reported.

Earlier, the US military announced that seven marines were killed in the al-Anbar province, which contains the rebel flashpoint towns of Ramadi and Fallujah.

Fighting flared there after days of relative calm following last month's blistering assault on Fallujah.

The soldiers died in two separate combat operations.

Their deaths will do nothing to lift the spirits of the US-led coalition forces just a year after Saddam was captured.

They also came amid a fierce insurgency just seven weeks ahead of next month's planned elections. [...]

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Twenty-one die as 'petrol bus' explodes after collision
irishexaminer

Twenty-one Iraqis were killed when a bus carrying petrol exploded in a fireball after colliding with a car north-east of Baghdad, a hospital official said today.

There were no survivors.

The accident happened late yesterday near Jalula, about 80 miles north-east of the capital, according to Dr Ahmed Fouad from the nearby Baqouba hospital where the dead were taken.

Fouad said petrol cans carried on the bus exploded when the collision occurred, killing the bus driver and 13 passengers plus seven people in the car.

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54 journalists killed in black year for Russian media: expert
December 13, 2004
Monday

MOSCOW (AFP) - Fifty-four journalists were killed in Russia this year, most of them in common criminal attacks, according to an industry expert who described 2004 as a black year for Russian media on Saturday.

"Most of them were killed in criminal attacks that bear no relation to their journalistic work," Oleg Panfilov, head of the Russian Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations, told Moscow's Echo radio.

On average, Panfilov said, 20 to 22 journalists are murdered each year in Russia. Fifty-four is the highest number ever recorded.

Overall, 150 to 160 attacks against journalists are reported each year, half of them linked to their professional activities, he said.

The issue of violence against journalists in Russia was highlighted by the murder in July of Paul Klebnikov, a US journalist who had published articles denouncing the Russian mafia.

However, Parvilov said that journalists faced an even greater threat from increasing legal and official harassment, which made it even more difficult for them to carry out their work.

"Since late 2002, we have seen an increase in the number of legal suits (against media professionals), as the government's policy towards the media changed," he said.

According to Panfilov, the number of suits filed for defamation jumped following the election of President Vladimir Putin, from an average of one per year to 49 for 2002 alone.

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Missile smuggling group smashed
www.chinaview.cn 2004-12-14 10:44:50

BEIJING, Dec. 14 -- The Albanian police, in collaboration with their counterparts in Serbia and Montenegro, have successfully hit a group trafficking ground-to-air missiles.
   
Police sources say four Albanian citizens were arrested in, western Albania, as they were transporting three "Strela 2M" ground-to-air missiles.

The group allegedly obtained the missiles in Montenegro and was planning to smuggle them to other countries.

The police, in collaboration with the Albanian Prosecution Office of Serious Crimes, are conducting further investigations to identify other people involved in the crime.

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Cuba put US on notice with Monday's massive war games
AFP
13 December 2004 0444 hrs

HAVANA : Cuba's armed forces are gearing up for their biggest military exercises in almost 20 years, with hundreds of thousands of troops and millions of civilians expected to take part, officials here said.

General Leonardo Andollo told reporters on Sunday that MiG-29 jets, anti-aircraft batteries were to be deployed during the weeklong exercises meant to be a warning to Washington that Cuba would vigorously defend itself against US aggression.

The mass war games start Monday and are due to run through to December 19.

Senior military and Communist government officials here warned that the administration of US President George W. Bush should take note of the island's war footing.

"The determination of the US administration to destroy the (Cuban) revolution however they can, including militarily, determines the necessity of conducting these exercises," Andollo, the deputy chief of Cuba's Armed Revolutionary Forces (FAR), said.

His comments come days after President Fidel Castro's brother, Raul, warned Washington should closely observe Cuba's military prowess and civil defenses during the manoeuvres. Raul Castro is the head of the Caribbean island's armed forces.

Operation "Bastion 2004" will involve about 100,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel as well as some 400,000 reservists.

Air force MiG-29s, anti-aircraft units and elite troops will also support the operation, billed as Cuba's biggest military exercises since 1986.

Officials said the exercises would also involve several million civilians who will participate in two days of civil defense exercises, including a simulated aerial assault.

Raul Castro said last week the exercises had been planned in part so Washington "does not commit the errors it committed in Vietnam and that it is now committing in Iraq.

"So that they (Washington) do not underestimate our people, who are united and more powerful than those in Iraq," he added.

The Communist-run island sits some 90 miles (145 kilometers) off the coast of Florida.

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Airlines Expect $5 Bln Loss in '04 --IATA
Reuters
December 14, 2004

GENEVA (Reuters) - International airlines are heading for a near $5 billion loss this year, largely due to the oil price rise, the chief economist of the industry's global body IATA said on Tuesday.

But the official, Brian Pearce, said the airline industry could see a turnaround after four years of losses in 2005 if the fuel price averaged around $34-36 a barrel.

"We are looking to losses of $4.8 to $5 billion for 2004," Pearce told a news briefing held by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

At the end of November, the Geneva-based IATA had predicted combined losses of only $4 billion for the year.

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1.6m children killed in conflicts since 1990
By Shahzad Raza
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

* 20 million children forced to flee homes
* Sexual violence often used as a weapon of war
* Land mines kill 15,000 to 20,000 annually

ISLAMABAD: Around 1.6 million children have been killed in armed conflict throughout the world since 1990, said the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund's (UNICEF) report called ‘The State of the World's Children, 2005'.

The report said in 1996, there were 22 major armed conflicts worldwide. In 2003, there were 19 such conflicts, the second-lowest annual number since 1990.

"For every step forward, there seems to be a step backwards as a new conflict erupts elsewhere. Far from being safe, the world at the beginning of the 21st century appears more driven by conflict and fear than before – and its dominant political discourse seems to be one of war."

The report observed that children were always among the first affected by conflict. "Armed conflict affects their lives in many ways, and even if they are not killed or injured, they can be orphaned, abducted, raped and left with deep emotional scars from direct exposure to violence or from dislocation and poverty."

UNICEF said the exact number of children currently caught up in conflict as combatants was unknown, but it was likely to run into hundreds of thousands. Children were conscripted, kidnapped or pressured into joining combat forces.

Not all of them took part in combat, though the proliferation of lightweight weapons has made it possible even for children under 10 to become effective killers, the report added.

The report claimed armed groups and, in some cases, government forces used children because they often prove easier than adults to condition into unthinking obedience and fearless killing. It added that Africa and Asia had the highest numbers of children actively involved in conflict as combatants. It asserted that an estimated 20 million children across the globe had been forced by conflict or human rights violations to leave their homes. As they fled from conflict, families sometimes separated. Left alone, children were more likely to be sexually abused or recruited into combat, the report observed.

Of the 20 million children, who had been forced to flee their homes, around one-third were refugees who had been driven across national borders. The other two-thirds were internally displaced, a proportion that has been rising steadily in parallel with the trend towards civil strife, the report said.

"Sexual violence was often a weapon of war, consciously deployed. It could include rape, mutilation, exploitation and abuse. In the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Rwanda in the early 1990s, it was a deliberate policy to rape teenage girls and women and force them to bear children," the report observed.

"In addition, the poverty, hunger and insecurity generated by conflict can force children into prostitution. In Colombia, for example, girls as young as 12 have been reported to have submitted sexually to armed forces in order to ensure their families' safety." The report concluded that all of these factors increased the likelihood of HIV transmission in conflict zones, while the breakdown of school and health systems inhibited safeguards that could counter these risks. It revealed that landmines claim between 15,000 and 20,000 victims each year. Two-thirds of the 65 countries that suffered mine casualties between 2002 and 2003 had not experienced active conflict in that period.

It said that there was a growing consensus against the use of children as soldiers. In 2000, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Children raised the minimum age for direct participation in hostilities from 15 to 18 years.

Giving the example of Palestine, it said that more than one generation of Palestinian children were being denied their right to basic education. School infrastructure was constantly at risk, at least 269 schools had been damaged between September 2000 and June 2004, nine schools had been completely closed, three of them were currently being used as military outposts and an additional 275 schools were in the line of confrontation.

It claimed that in war-ravaged Afghanistan, a UNICEF-supported demobilisation programme had assisted 2,203 children in eight provinces since its launch in February 2004. In Afghanistan during 2002 more than three million children had been successfully enrolled in schools after years of warfare and educational neglect.

"If we are to safeguard children from the brutality of armed conflicts, a number of actions must be pursued, provided the international community has the political and economic will to implement them," it emphasised.

Comment: If the international community had the will to take action to safeguard children, wouldn't they already have done so? This report is nothing new.

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Study predicts major earthquake in Japan
ABS News (Australia)

A Japanese Government study predicts that a major earthquake will rock Tokyo sometime in the next 30 years.

Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone countries on earth, and the Cabinet Office Central Disaster Management Council has been studying the impact a major quake would have on the capital.

Its latest report suggests there is a 70 per cent chance Tokyo will be hit by a quake measuring seven or higher on the Richter scale sometime in the next 30 years.

The panel estimates 13,000 people will be killed and 850,000 buildings damaged.

Next month, Japan will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Kobe quake that killed more than 6,000 people.

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Earthquake recorded in southern Japan
ABC Radio Australia
Last Updated 13/12/2004, 11:39:27

An earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale has been felt in southern Japan.

AFP newsagency says the Meteorological Agency has said there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The focus of the quake was 10 kilometers below sea level off the coast of Kagoshima, some 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo.

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M6.1 earthquake jolts north Japan
www.chinaview.cn 2004-12-14 19:58:51

TOKYO, Dec. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale hit parts of northern and western Hokkaido, Japan's main northern island, on Tuesday afternoon, injuring a 61-year-old woman and causing minor damage, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The 2:56 p.m. (0556 GMT) quake measured an upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in the town of Tomamae and lower 5 in the town of Haboro, the agency said. Government seismologists initially put the preliminary magnitude at M5.8.

The epicenter of the quake was about 9 kilometers below the earth's surface in the southern part of Rumoi in northwestern Hokkaido, the agency said.

According to fire officials of the town of Obira, which is located in the Rumoi area and just south of Tomamae, the injured woman was rushed to a hospital after being buried under a closet that fell on her.

No tsunami warning was issued following the quake. Three windowpanes in the lobby of the Haboro town hall were reported shattered, but no one was injured. There have been no reports of major damage so far.

An earthquake that is believed to be an aftershock, registering3 on the Japanese seismic scale, struck at around 3:01 p.m. (0601 GMT) in Tomamae and other places in the Rumoi area. Five minutes later, another aftershock, registering 1, hit Haboro.

In Tokyo, the government set up a liaison office under the crisis management center at the prime minister's office to collectinformation about the latest quake.

The agency said aftershocks with an intensity of lower 5 may hit the Rumoi area.

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Earthquake jostles El Salvador
Some News Source
September 5, 2004

Monday, December 13, 2004 Posted: 1916 GMT (0316 HKT) SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) -- A strong earthquake rattled El Salvador on Monday, knocking out telephone service, but no injuries were reported.

The national seismological service said that the quake, which hit at 9:23 a.m. (10:23 a.m. EST), had a magnitude of 6.1 and was centered near Los Cobanos beach, about 55 miles south of the capital. The U.S. National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado, calculated the magnitude at 5.9.

Thousands of frightened people fled into the streets and the government ordered the temporary evacuation of tall buildings.

The earthquake briefly knocked out telephone service in San Salvador, but the director of the National Emergency system, Mauricio Ferrer, told a news conference that no damage had been reported.

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Volcano showing signs of activity in Congo
December 13, 2004
Monday

GOMA, DRCongo (AFP) - A volcano which devastated Goma in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo three years ago is showing new signs of activity, adding to local anxiety over political turmoil in the region, a local scientist said on Sunday.

Celestin Kasereka, who heads the volcano observatory in Goma, said there was intense activity inside the crater of Mount Nyiragongo. The summit of the mountain is currently glowing red at night.

However Kasereka said there was little risk of an eruption from the sides of the mountain, which could send volcanic ash and lava plunging down towards the city.

An eruption of Mount Nyiragongo covered much of Goma in thick ash and lava in January 2002.

Kasereka said the heightened volcanic activity on the mountain had spread fear among the local population, who are already on edge due to fighting in the region. [...]

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Flood hits 2 provinces in southern Thailand
www.chinaview.cn 2004-12-13 13:43:33

BANGKOK, Dec. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- Two provinces in Thailand's southernmost region has been swept by flood with one people drowned in deep water, local press said on Monday.

In Than To district of Yala province, floods and mud slide has claimed the life of a 44-year-old woman. Her body was discovered by local officials after being washed away in a strong current on Saturday.

On Sunday, heavy rain also led to flash-floods in 13 district of Narathiwat province with some 2,000 households affected.

Local official said inter-district roads were submerged under waters as high as two meters in some areas. Many sections of road were swept away by the flood.

More than 10 local school, along with 5,000 rai of plantation and 250 other locations including bridges and roads were hit by the seasonal flood.

Meanwhile, the weather bureau in Songkhlar province forecasted heavy downpour in several more southern provinces over the next one or two days and warned residents to be on alert.

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High Winds Buffet Minnesota, Iowa
By Associated Press
Published December 12, 2004, 10:37 PM CST

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- High winds on Sunday toppled a 25-foot Christmas tree in the front yard of the Minnesota governor's mansion, uprooted other trees and knocked down power lines in that state and Iowa.

Heavy sustained winds and gusts of up to 65 mph led the National Weather Service to issue wind warnings or advisories for much of both states.

The Christmas tree fell Sunday morning after one of the cables holding it up snapped, according to State Patrol Trooper Patrick Gibbs, who was on duty at the mansion.

Workers initially tried to put the tree back up, but "it's just too windy," Gibbs said. "They decided it was dangerous, so they're going to do it tomorrow morning."

Wind also knocked down a 20-foot-high contruction scaffolding onto five cars in Minneapolis, flattening their front ends.

Xcel Energy said at least 59,000 Twin Cities area customers lost power, at least temporarily. Xcel spokeswoman Mary Sandok said some customers might not get electricity back until Monday.

In Ames, Iowa, a huge fabric bubble on the grounds of the National Animal Disease Center was ripped apart. The air-supported, 12-story-tall dome was built to shelter a work area for a new high-containment, large-animal research building; no people or animals were hurt. [...]

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Wind causes delays, injuries
Published December 13, 2004

CHICAGO -- Wind gusting to 50 m.p.h. combined with bad weather to cause flight delays and at least two minor injuries in Wheaton Sunday when a tree fell on a vehicle.

Two people were treated at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield and released after they were injured in the afternoon when wind knocked a tree onto their vehicle at County Farm Road and Williams Street, said Sue Rummery, a representative for the Wheaton Police Department.

Meanwhile, the wind caused delays of two hours or more at O'Hare International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The FAA reported delays of only 15 minutes or less for arrivals and departures at Midway International Airport.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory that will stay in effect until 10 a.m. Monday, when meteorologists expect wind speed to taper off. Forecasters expect northwest winds to blow into the Chicago area at 25 to 30 m.p.h., with gusts to 50.

The weather service expects hazardous travel conditions on Lake Michigan near the Chicago shore. Waves closer to shore were forecast to crest at 10 to 20 feet. It also advised motorists to watch out for crosswinds.

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Eight dead in new landslide in the Philippines
AFP
13 December 2004 1124 hrs

LEGASPI : Eight people were killed and another was missing early Monday after a landslide buried a village in the eastern Philippines, police said.

The avalanche hit Hubo village near the coastal town of Tinambac in the Bicol peninsula after days of heavy rain which had loosened the earth from nearby slopes, Tinambac police chief Inspector Amado Montana said.

Rescuers pulled eight corpses from the mud, said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Buenaventura Pascual.

One child was also pulled out alive, according to volunteer rescue workers in the area.

Pascual said an army rescue unit had reached the area and was searching for one more missing person.

He said the landslide injured six other residents.

Widespread floods and landslides unleashed by two storms left about 1,600 people dead or missing in the Philippines two weeks ago.

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1952 military engagement with UFOs myth or mystery?

BY BILLY COX
FLORIDA TODAY
Dec 11 2004

Port Orange man details the day in 1952 when Air Force took on UFOs

In an account of a military engagement sure to leave critics scoffing, a UFO investigator claims more than a dozen U.S. Air Force jet fighters were destroyed by flying saucers on a single day in 1952. But not before their guns and rockets crippled several UFOs that wound up making emergency landings in rural West Virginia.

"I know how it sounds," says Frank Feschino, the Port Orange artist whose new book attempts to reconstruct what would be the biggest dogfight since the Marianas Turkey Shoot in 1944. "But I think it's going to come out real soon. There's a lot of guys out there who know what happened but are too scared to talk."

Feschino's book -- "The Braxton County Monster: The Cover-Up of the Flatwoods Monster Revealed" (Quarrier Press, $29.95) -- revisits a mystery that has been a part of West Virginia lore for more than half a century.

At its core are a dozen eyewitnesses to a strange, robotic creature that appeared on a hilltop following the crash of an alleged meteor on the evening of Sept. 12, 1952. But following an investigation that took 14 years to research and write, Feschino claims the beginning of the incident involved a UFO air battle that began in Florida, shifted to the Eastern seaboard and ended in an Air Force whitewash.

Thirty five years ago this month, the USAF officially terminated its UFO study, called Project Blue Book, by concluding there were no national security aspects to the phenomenon. Arguably the most hectic phase of Blue Book's 22-year existence was 1952, when a record 1,501 reports were logged. July was the busiest month. Warplanes were scrambled to chase nocturnal UFOs that buzzed Washington, D.C., on consecutive weekends.

Even Patrick Air Force Base got splashed by the wave on July 18 of that year, when seven on-base airmen observed a series of silent amber-red objects approaching restricted air space late one evening. One UFO passed directly overhead before pulling a 180-degree U-turn and disappearing to the west. According to the Blue Book reports, none of the objects were spotted on radar and no planes were dispatched to confront them.

Blue Book ruled the avalanche of UFO sightings across the southeast on Sept. 12, 1952, could be attributed to a meteor.

But no meteor showers were scheduled for that night, and the Harvard Meteor Project, which tracked 2,500 cosmic fireballs from 1952 to '54, recorded no activity on that date.

Feschino also quotes Indian Harbour Beach astronomer Hal Povenmire, author of "Fireballs, Meteors and Meteorites," as dismissing the meteor explanation. Povenmire declined to comment on Feschino's book, but he reiterated his stance for FLORIDA TODAY: "It definitely wasn't a meteor."

Retired Air Force Col. William Coleman, chief spokesman for Blue Book in the 1960s and head of the USAF's Public Information Office from 1969 to '74, wasn't around for the 1952 investigation, and could only speculate on the meteor theory. "Occasionally, you'll get a loner when you're not passing through a belt," he says from his home in Indian Harbour Beach. "It'll come in on a flat trajectory, which means it'll be exposed to a longer burn in the atmosphere and leave a longer trail."

But Coleman is emphatic about one thing: No military aircraft were ever destroyed during UFO encounters.

"Of all the (12,618) reports we collected, only 105 cases were what we'd call 'worrisome,' from a military point of view," says Coleman, who chased a UFO in a bomber in 1955. "These might involve pilots seeing things in the air that also showed up as solid objects on radar. Sometimes they'd pace our planes, sometimes they'd depart abruptly. But we never lost anything to hostile activity."

Speaking during a book-signing tour in Charleston, W.Va., where sales are brisk, Feschino says he began looking into the Flatwoods Monster case in 1990. Ten local kids and an adult, Kathleen May, were alerted when a flaming, low-flying object apparently went down early one Friday evening on a hilltop outside rural Flatwoods. After hiking to investigate, they stumbled upon a "monster," reported to be 12 feet tall, lurking in a tree. It glided away upon an apron of flames, but not before dribbling what appeared to be an oily fluid onto the ground and their clothing.

Feschino says he grew more intrigued when he read scores of old newspaper clippings about other UFO activity that night, from Pennsylvania to Florida. Many reported objects trailing tails of fire, following three separate westward trajectories from the Atlantic Ocean. Especially compelling were newspaper reports concerning the loss of an F-94 Sabrejet fighter over the Gulf of Mexico earlier in the day.

Flying out of Tyndall AFB near Panama City with three other jets, Lt. John Jones, the pilot, and radar operator Lt. John DelCurto apparently got separated during bad weather, were ordered to land at Moody AFB in Georgia before losing radio contact, and presumably crashed after running out of fuel. Their bodies were never recovered. Feschino doesn't buy that story.

When he attempted to locate official records of the incident through military archives, Feschino says he got a bureaucratic runaround and was informed paperwork on those pilots doesn't exist. (Feschino interviewed DelCurto's brother in Oregon, and took a photo of Jones' memorial marker in Ocala.) Upon matching additional air defense activity that day with the numerous UFO reports, Feschino began assembling time lines, integrating them into maps, and produced a unified field theory that "as many as 20" American planes attacked, and were shot down by, UFOs.

"The Braxton County Monster" goes into exhaustive -- not to mention inferential, unsourced and highly speculative -- detail to support Feschino's other premise, that multiple sightings over the Flatwoods area on Sept. 12 was a "rescue mission" to salvage a damaged spacecraft.

"Of course you could cover this up," insists the Connecticut native. "They do it all the time. Look at all the planes that got shot down during the Cold War on missions that didn't supposedly exist. They made up cover stories and told the families back home all sorts of lies."

That's true, says historian William E. Burrows. But the author of "By Any Means Necessary: America's Secret Air War" doubts UFOs were in the mix.

The director of New York University's graduate program for science and environmental reporting says up to 166 U.S. servicemen were shot down over Russia, China and North Korea in 16 attacks between 1950 and 1969.

"They would always attribute it to navigational errors or typhoons, because they had to say something to the wives and kids," Burrows says. "It always bothered me, because these guys were brave men who were made to look like nitwits. But I don't believe in UFOs. And as soon as the Cold War ended, the UFO sightings ended."

Feschino says Flatwoods had nothing to do with the Cold War. He interviewed retired Army colonel Dale Leavitt who, on Sept. 12, 1952, said he got an order from the Air Force to investigate the West Virginia crash site. Then with the National Guard, Leavitt said he led a 30-man detachment to the area, where they found minor debris and burned vegetation, which they forwarded to the USAF. Before his death, Leavitt told Feschino he never learned the results.

"I find it very strange that the military would send troops out to investigate a meteor," Feschino says. "That doesn't make any sense."

Feschino's efforts notwithstanding, the Flatwoods case will likely remain the stuff of legend, pending military eyewitness testimony. But that may not happen soon. Despite Blue Book's assertion that the military is no longer interested in the phenomenon, UFOs continue to fall under the cloak of national security, according to John Greenewald.


Frank Feschino's book "The Braxton County Monster: The Cover-Up of the Flatwoods Monster Revealed." Image by for FLORIDA TODAY
A television producer who posts UFO-related government documents on his Web site -- www.blackvault.com -- Greenewald showcases Air Force manuals instructing pilots on how to report unidentified flying objects. The system is called Communications for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings (CIRVIS), and reports are forwarded to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which tracks unidentified objects entering U.S. and Canadian air space.

"They're hard to get," says Greenewald, "because NORAD says they're exempt from FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests."

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And Finally...

The 12 Days of Rummying

By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: December 12, 2004

On the first day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
a Saddam pigeon in a palm tree.
Not knowing Osama's address,
Rummy hastened to 'Potamia - and a mess,
exhorting his pal Cheney,
"Let's bomb Baghdad again, golly gee!"

On the second day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
two dead-ender turtle doves
(Colin and Kofi),
flowers and chocolates from the ninny Chalabi,
and a billion Arabs mad at me.

On the third day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
three French henpeckers and imaginary W.M.D.
And 300 tons of lost explosives
going BOOM! everywhere.
Rummy tried for a Vin Diesel movie,
when he should have heeded General Shinseki.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
four cuckoo birds -
Wolfie, Perle, Feith and Condi.
The cost of empire on the cheap will be steep.
How did Rummy get a job guarantee?

On the fifth day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
five Pentagon rings.

Rummy wanted to go down in history
by transforming the military.
But many G.I.'s feel cheated,
that their forces and matériel are depleted.
Stop Loss and Stuff Happens, by Jiminy!

On the sixth day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
six German shepherds teeth a-baring.
A hooded man attached to wires,
Abu Ghraib and Army liars,
Red Cross in the dark
about dogs that liked to bark.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
regime change that wasn't free,
our troops sitting ducks for I.E.D.
(Improvised Explosive Devices,
dear me)
Rummy is another sort of I.E.D.
(Instant Excuses for Disaster,
"I'm an old man, don't you see?")

On the eighth day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
eight Osama videotapes.
The Bushie fever with Saddam
left Osama free to scram.
Invading Iraq was an Xmas gift
for bin Laden - a recruiting lift.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
Iran and North Korea
on a nuclear buildup spree.
Nine mullahs a-proliferating,
as our military's straining.
The Bushies were fixated on Iraq,
but Saddam's weapons were merely the mock.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
ten Gitmo lawyers a-leaping.
What cares he
about civil liberty?

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
eleven generals a-hyping that the war is just dandy,
while our spooks are warning
that civil war and theocracy are a-borning
as the Kid in the Oval feels free
to consult a Higher Authority.
Burkas, turbans and beards you'll see
after the puppet Allawi.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my Rummy sent to me
a brave grunt from Tennessee
griping about his unarmored Humvee.
No twelve drummers drumming,
but twelve soldiers thrumming,
complaints to Rummy keep coming,
but the septuagenarian's not admitting
that the Iraq resistance isn't quitting.
The Ghost of Christmas Past, Mekong Delta,
is clanking after Rummy in Samarra.

Eleven generals spinning,
Ten Gitmo lawyers not grinning,
Nine Iranian mullahs Iraq annexing,
Eight Osama tapes perplexing,
Seven bombs a-scaring,
Six German geese bewaring,
Five Pentagon rings,
Four cuckoos a-raving,
Three French hens appeasing,
Two dead doves,
And a Saddam pigeon sparking an insurgency.

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