Wednesday, December 15, 2004
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Mass Meteorite Sighting in Gansu Province

(Xinhua)
2004-12-14 17:22

Hundreds of people in northwest China's Gansu Province witnessed an unidentified flying object (UFO) Saturday night, and local police are searching for what may have dropped in the area.

A woman shows a piece of meteorite dropped onto the earth after the nightly explosion in Gansu Province Saturday night.

Witnesses in Gansu's capital Lanzhou said that a strange shining object swept through the sky at about 11:36 p.m. Saturday, following by earthshaking sounds like bombing. They also reported that an ensuing tremble was felt within 100 sq km from Lanzhou.

One of them, a driver surnamed Zhang, said that he saw a shining ball with a three-meter-long trail flying from west to east and heard two thunders right after, when he was driving from Lanzhou city to neighboring Yongdeng county.

The local public security department confirmed that they have received more than 700 reports on the case, some saying it was an earthquake, and others saying it was an aerolite falling. The department has sent policemen to search for possible fallen objects but found nothing so far.

Liu Yanan, astronomy professor at the Northwest Normal University, said that it might be a meteoroid entering the earth's atmosphere.

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Fireball creates a lot of interest
Wednesday, 15 December 2004
At approximately 4.15am, Monday morning, December 6, a large bright object was seen streaking across the coastal fringes of the mid-north coast of NSW.

A large number of callers inundated the John Kerr 2UE radio program with eyewitness reports of a fast moving 'meteor' trailing a greenish-blue hue passing across the night sky before exploding in a series of bright flashes. An eerie, constant, low rumbling sound accompanied the explosions.

Reports came from as far north as Coffs Harbour to Wollongong in the south.

News editor of SKY & SPACE Magazine, and editor of 'Astronomy Media Services', Dave Reneke of Wauchope fielded over a dozen enquiries that morning from radio stations across the state who picked up on the story and gave an educated analysis of the event. He spoke at length with John Kerr in an interview that morning to encapsule the information and provide an insight into the reports.

He said it appears a large 'bolide' or meteor entered the atmosphere in the early morning hours and, moving at roughly 30km/sec, became extremely hot due to friction, turning into possibly a 'fireball' before finally exploding and splitting into at least 3 or separate 4 pieces. "The rumbling sounds associated with the event may have been due to the compression of air from the object's high speed" David said.

The descriptions by some observers of a seeing a "greenish hue" or 'tail" suggest a mineral content, possibly copper or some similar element, which tends to categorise it as something of natural composition, as opposed to man-made space junk.

David said reports as graphic as this are very rare and, due to the apparent large size of this object, put this incident above the 'normal' meteorite sighting category. David estimated the size of the object to be around the size of a suitcase - or even a small bar fridge.

David Finlay, from the Wollongong Amateur Astronomy Club contacted David to add that an Australian monitoring station, Geoscience, recorded the acoustic signal from its two bases at Tenant Creek and Hobart and estimated the yield of the bolide between 200 Tonnes to 1 Kilotonne. They produced a map showing the hypothesised source location which they said was fairly close to Kempsey, in the Macleay area of NSW.

Given that the object was travelling from west to east, it is likely that any fragments fell into the Pacific, however the source location is only an estimation and the strewn field could be large for such a massive object. It is still possible however that some fragments impacted on land .

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Cayman Islands shaken by strongest earthquake since 1900
JAY EHRHART, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

(12-14) 17:35 PST GEORGETOWN, Cayman Islands (AP) --

A strong earthquake struck the Cayman Islands on Tuesday -- the strongest since 1900 -- rattling windows and sending residents fleeing into the streets. No serious damage or injuries were reported.

The epicenter of the magnitude 6.7 earthquake was 20 miles south-southeast of Georgetown, said Kathleen Gohn, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Geological Survey based in Golden, Colo.

The initial quake lasted about 10 seconds and small shock waves were felt for more than 30 minutes, residents said.

"I got out of my house as fast as I could. I thought a plane was coming at us," said Maxine Drake from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who lives part time in Grand Cayman.

It was the strongest tremor to hit the Cayman Islands since 1900, Gohn said. It also was one of several to strike the region in the last month.

Gohn said the tremors were unrelated but activity in the Caribbean has been high.

A tremor with a magnitude of 5.7 jolted the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday. No injuries were reported and there was little damage.

Another earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4, however, caused at least 90 aftershocks on Dec. 3 in Trinidad, leaving at least one woman dead and damaging several buildings and houses.

Last month, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake on the Caribbean island of Dominica caused an estimated $20 million in damages.

The Cayman Islands has been plagued with disaster this year, recently estimating hurricane damage caused by Hurricane Ivan at more than $3 billion.

The storm tore through the wealthy British territory in September, destroying 70 percent of buildings and damaging many hotels. Many residents were forced to move to Grand Cayman's sister islands -- Little Cayman and Cayman Brac -- which received little damage.

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Have Arabs or Muslims always Hated Jews?
Juan Cole
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I said a couple of days ago that I regretted that the actions of Israeli hawks in the West Bank, Gaza and South Lebanon had produced an anti-Israeli and anti-American backlash in the Middle East and the Muslim world. I pointed out that that anger appears to have been part of the motive for the assassination of a US serviceman in Iraq. These rather obvious observations produced some interesting mail. In part this is because the posting was awarded Andrew Sullivan's "Sontag Award" or whatever.

But this phenomenon is not new. In fall of 2002, a US serviceman on a training exercise at Failaka in Kuwait was shot dead by two angry Kuwaitis. Time Magazine referred to the fall, 2002, Israeli attack on Palestinians at Khan Yunis, when the Israelis fired missiles from a helicopter gunship into a crowd of unarmed civilians, killing some children along with whomever they had targeted.:

' Abdullah Kandari described how his brother, just before he headed to Falaika Island to launch his attack, had become angry watching the 9pm news on Kuwait TV, which had broadcast footage of Palestinians killed by an Israeli missile strike in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Yunis. According to Abdullah, Anas had jumped to his feet and cried, "God is generous, O Americans! We shall come and slaughter you like you have been slaughtering us!" Abdullah Kandari said that his brother blamed the U.S. more than Israel, and questioned how the U.S. could protect Kuwait while causing problems for Arabs. '
Israel is a close ally and friend of the United States, and we should defend it from its enemies. But when Ariel Sharon sends American-made helicopter gunships and F-16s to fire missiles into civilian residences or crowds in steets, as he has done more than once, then he makes the United States complicit in his war crimes and makes the United States hated among friends of the Palestinians. And this aggression and disregard of Arab life on the part of the proto-fascist Israeli Right has gotten more than one American killed, including American soldiers.

The negative mail I got on this issue goes like this:
' Oh really, all the times they hated and killed Jews before 1948, what was the excuse then? They collaborated with the Nazis, was Israel to blame for that? They have always hated and oppressed the Jews . . . '
or this:
'Current Israeli policy calls for withdrawal from Gaza and a
small number of West Bank settlements. How is that expasionist? If you want to discuss 35 years of policy, well it would be amazing that an Iraqi who lived in a virtual news-free zone under Sadaam would really have the ups and downs of Israel-Palestinian history. '
These are the Orientalist premises of the Zionist Right and its American fellow travelers. The reason my comment was so challenging is that it didn't partake of these premises. The premise is that there is an "eternal Arab" or "eternal Muslim" that is defined as essentially fanatical and intolerant and full of hatred toward Jews. These are universal characteristics of this race, and unvarying over time.

Of course, if it were true that "Arabs" or "Muslims" partook of this eternal character, then it just wouldn't matter what Israeli hawks do to them. Kill civilian Arab children with helicopter gunship fire? So what if that upsets the Arabs? They are already fanatical and hate-filled, so it just doesn't matter. You can't throw a glass of water into the ocean and thereby cause the tides to rise.

But what if Arabs and Muslims were human beings like everybody else? Wouldn't it be the case that if you punched one in the nose, he would try to punch you back? And if you didn't punch him out, he'd be more likely to greet you politely? And if you tossed his distant cousin out of his house, wouldn't he mind that? Actions have consequences.


What are the facts?

Living as a minority in any society is seldom a picnic, but in fact Jews before the Napoleonic emancipation were substantially better off living in Muslim societies than in Europe.

Medieval Christianity had no category for non-Christians in society. They completely kept Muslims out of Christian-ruled domains for the most part. Whereas perhaps a third of Egyptians in Egypt in 1400 were Christians, no British, French, Germans, etc. were Muslims. The Muslim trading diaspora threw up communities in Hindu Indonesia and Confucian China, and they were perfectly capable of pursuing opportunities in Europe had they been allowed to. They were not allowed to, in some important part because of the Inquisition. (Valencia in medieval Spain; Russia from Catherine the Great; and some post-Ottoman Balkan principalities are exceptions here, in allowing more tolerance for, or at least having to put up with the presence of, Muslims.)

Likewise, for entire centuries in the late medieval period, Jews were completely excluded from Britain, France, Spain, etc. In contrast, Jews had thriving mercantile communities in places like Cairo in the same period. To paraphrase our SecDef: Was it paradise? No. Was it better than being kicked out altogether or forcibly converted to Catholicism? You bet.

So it just isn't true that all Muslims have always hated Jews. In Islam, Jews were considered a "protected minority." They were not equal citizens with Muslims, but then there was no idea of citizenship or of equality in the modern political sense in any medieval society. Jews were in normal times assured of life and property. There were episodes of intolerance and even persecution, but they were not the norm. There was no blood libel in the Muslim Middle East (some Christian episodes of the libel started occurring under European influence in the 19th century). References in Arabic by Muslims to the blood libel as anything but a Western curiosity are as far as I can tell a very recent phenomenon. The protocols of the elders of Zion, a Tsarist forgery that posited a Jewish political conspiracy to rule the world, had no particular resonances in the Muslim world (outside a few radical Muslim cliques) until the past couple of decades.

With the rise of modern nation-states in the Middle East, new bases for identity were found that made Jews co-citizens with Christians and Muslims. Jews in pre-1948 Iraq were numerous (about a third of Baghdad) and relatively well off. They played an active social and political role that would have been impossible if there had been widespread hatred toward them of the sort many rightwing Zionists apparently now assume. The expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948 (it was probably mostly expulsion) created a backlash against Jews throughout the region that caused them to flee to Israel. This was a tragedy and a great wrong. In my view, the Israelis should pay compensation to all the Palestinians, and the Arab states should pay compensation to the Sephardi Jews who lost their property, and the Palestinians should get to form their state, and then everyone would be square.

It was, by the way, quite clear that many powerful forces in North African society were extremely disturbed by the European-style anti-Jewish bigotry imported into the region by the Vichy French. The Bey of Tunisia resisted imposition of harsh measures on Tunisian Jews. The Tunisian nationalist leader Habib Bourguiba eschewed any cooperation with the Germans. Although the sultan of Morocco was not in a strong enough position to keep the French from imposing anti-Jewish legislation, he privately met with Moroccan Jews and assured them of his support. Many brave Arab Muslims, including some of the Muslim clerics of Algeria, defied the European colonial powers under Nazi influence to protect or to offer succor to Arab Jews.

Israel Gershoni of Tel Aviv University has shown through his scholarship that the liberal mainstream of Egyptian society roundly condemned fascism. It simply isn't true that Arabs were Nazis or Nazi sympathizers in any numbers. Those who did support Germany mostly did so in ignorance of what Nazism stood for, and mainly as a counterweight to British imperial power in the Middle East.

Another reader wrote:
' Obviously you are aware that Arabs have been attacking Israel since the very day it was founded. Israel's responses may not be perfect, but they are no more harsh than America's response to 9/11, Russia's actions against Chechnya, France's action in the Ivory Coast, etc. '
Well, actually, the largest Arab country, Egypt, where a third of all Arabs live, has had a peace treaty with Israel since 1978. As far as I can tell, neither Morocco nor Qatar has ever attacked Israel, anyway. So all "Arabs" are not "attacking Israel."

For the rest, I replied:

Actually, the Israelis are doing things that the US, Russia and France are not doing. They are stealing other peopleís land and making that people homeless.

The French havenít put 400,000 French settlers into the Ivory Coast, thrown farmers off their land, dug deep wells that deprive Cote DíIvoirians of water, and declared that the capital of Yamoussoukru is off-limits to Ivoirians in the rest of the country and is now a completely French city forever. Nor have they built roads through the Ivory Coast that make it impossible for villagers to get to their markets with their goods, or to get to a hospital in time during an emergency. They havenít aimed at creating Ivoirian Bantustans that prevent the Ivory Coast ever from being a sovereign country.

If the French had acted this way in the Ivory Coast during the past 30 years, France would have been isolated and pilloried by the world community, and it would have faced substantial violent resistance from Africans. And I would have condemned France for it.

Look, all the opinion polling and all the social science research shows without any doubt that knee-jerk US support for Israeli expansionism is at the root of anti-Americanism in the Arab world. Maybe everyone is lying to all the pollsters all the time, but how likely is that? What Camp David showed was that there was by the late 1970s an increased willingness by the Arabs to recognize Israel. The price was giving up Egyptian territory captured in 1967. The main obstacle to a comprehensive peace has been Israel's refusal to give the Palestinians and the Syrians the same deal they gave Egypt. David Ben Gurion, by the way, agreed with my position on the undesirability of Israel trying to keep the West Bank if it were to survive.

As for the supposed promising policies of Ariel Sharon in the Occupied Territories, everyone should take a reality check. Uri Avnery nails it when he points out that Sharon is the bottleneck in any move toward genuine peace.

In fact, the land grab is accelerating. The Israelis promised to make peace in 1993, and over the next decade they doubled the number of settlers in the West Bank! And the expansion of settlements continues as we speak. How can Palestinians make peace with people who are stealing from them? The Guardian writes,
' Sharif Omar has been waiting two years for the bulldozers, ever since Israel's steel and barbed wire "security fence" carved its way between his village and its land. Last week the excavators and diggers finally arrived on the outskirts of Jayyous to lay the foundations for an expansion of the nearby Jewish settlement of Zufim, fulfilling the fears and warnings of its Palestinian neighbours.

The bulldozers were preparing the ground for hundreds of new homes, despite the Israeli government's claim that it is not expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Like other building work along the route of the barrier, it seems to be an attempt to ensure that the land between the fence and the 1967 border remains in Israeli hands in any final agreement with the Palestinians.

"When they built the fence, we said they would use it to build a much bigger settlement, and they would take our land to do it," said Omar, whose olive and citrus groves are now encircled. "It is very clear to us, they are planning to confiscate all of our land and drive us from here. They came and told us to finish harvesting because they were going to begin building 80 houses. They are beginning with my neighbour's land but if they do it there they will do it on mine." . . .

Zufim, where about 200 families live, is built on 136ha of land confiscated from Jayyous in 1986. An Israeli rights group, Bimkom, says that developers in Zufim plan to build about 1 200 new homes. Yehezkel Lein, a researcher for another Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, said the military government in the occupied territories had issued permits for the work.

He added: "In the plan for Zufim there is an extension to the north of the settlement that was already approved. There is also another expansion to the east. But there is no territorial contiguity between Zufim and the new construction, so it is really a new settlement."
Tel Aviv is worth American lives to protect it. The United Nations Security Council awarded Tel Aviv to Israel, and Camp David and other international instruments recognize Israel in its pre-1967 borders.

The Zufim extension is just grand larceny, and not worth any lives at all, much less those of brave American soldiers.

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Mossad blamed for Syria blast
Dec 14, 2004

Syria blamed Israel's Mossad intelligence service for a bombing in Damascus 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.

Second attack in three months

In September, Izz el-Deen al-Sheikh Khalil, 42, a Hamas official was killed in a bomb blast in his car in Damascus and an Israeli television station, citing unidentified security sources, said Israel was behind the attack.

Israeli security officials had earlier vowed to hit Hamas leaders in Palestinian areas and abroad in response to twin bus bombings in that killed 16 people in southern Israel.

The Islamic militant group, behind a wave of suicide attacks that has killed scores of Israelis over the past four years, is sworn to Israel's destruction.

Israel has been demanding that Syria crack down on Palestinian militants as a condition for resuming peace talks deadlocked since 2000.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on Monday Syria must act against Islamic militants on its territory.

"If they (Damascus) would like to make peace, they should close headquarters there in Damascus, they should shut down the training camps of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad that are still open," Shalom told a news briefing after meeting EU officials.

"We believe if we are going to have a real peace we can't have terrorist attacks by day, funerals afternoon and negotiations by night in nice hotels. No one will accept it in our public opinion."

Syria denies hosting training camps for Palestinians on its territory and says it backs Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation.

The official Syrian news agency SANA confirmed the car belonged to a Palestinian but gave no details on who he was.

The vehicle was quickly removed by security and rescue teams who were collecting shrapnel scattered on the street in the Mazze area, resident said.

"The explosion was so strong that the door blew open in my house and windows were shattered in the whole building," resident Issam Abdul Wahid told Reuters.

"There was nobody in the car. I was extinguishing it and there was nobody in it," he added.

Comment: The Israelis always label any suggestion that Mossad is implicated in any attack as "nonsense". Apparently, Mossad doesn't actually do anything.

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The Wrath Of The Jews
By Liat Weingart, AlterNet
December 15, 2004

The dominant narrative of the Holocaust arms Israel to the teeth, demonizes Palestinians and leaves Jews feeling abandoned, isolated and angry.

I'm in the living room of a family friend, a Jewish woman who emigrated from Poland. The subject changes from yoga to Israel-Palestine, and I tell her that I think America needs to change its foreign policy towards Israel. She says, "In what way, so that the Arabs will throw the Jews into the sea?" It takes four minutes of back and forth for the conversation to further degenerate. She finally says, "Look, what I have to say isn't pretty, but I'm not afraid. I'm going to say it anyways. The Palestinians are nothing but vermin. They make trouble in every country they live in. Even the other Arab countries don't want them."

I take a deep breath. I've heard this before, except with "Jews" instead of "Palestinians." Jews are vermin. They make trouble in every country they live in.

Earlier in the evening, while sitting at the dinner table, I had asked our friend why she left Poland. She said that anti-Semitism in Poland was extremely severe when she was growing up. She said that there was another outburst of anti-Semitism in the mid-60s, and especially after the June 1967 "Six Day" War. Her husband, also a Polish Jew, looks up from his food and says abruptly, "Hey, why are you talking about this? Please change the subject."

At dinner, everyone is more than willing to oblige with their Israeli army stories, about how the Arabs want to "throw the Jews in to the sea," but no one wants to talk about how they were hurt by anti-Semitism. My mother has told me only a few stories of what it was like for her to grow up as a Jew in the Soviet Union. The most famous is how she took a broom to the head of a guy in school who persistently called her a "dirty Jew." It's the story with a happy ending. Justice was done. Less discussed is the story about how her father, a man who smuggled Jews out of the USSR and into Israel, was arrested by the KGB and sent to prison for eight years. Or how she was taken out of class every day for years and interrogated about her parents' "political activity."

There's a lot of crying and screaming to do. And there ain't a whole lot of room for it. Despite the enormity of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and various monuments to the Holocaust in the U.S., when you really get down to it, listening to Jews cry about how their families were annihilated, how they were beaten and targeted, is not a favorite American past-time. Neither, for that matter, is it terribly exciting for white folks to listen to blacks cry about the legacy of slavery, economic exploitation and racism. Or for straight people to listen to GLBTQ folks cry about what it feels like to have to lie about your identity to survive, to live in existential terror.

The Holocaust Museum is the largest in the world and in the center of Washington, D.C. Many of us think that Americans have heard more than enough about Jewish suffering. But the truth is that the Holocaust Museum and other forms of official recognition of Jewish suffering haven't addressed anti-Jewish oppression at all. It's hardly accidental.

Before 1967, it didn't fit into American strategic interests to talk about Jews or their history of oppression, particularly in the same sentence as the word "justice." After 1967, when Israel defeated Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, and conquered the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Sinai and the Golan Heights, the U.S. government decided that Israel could serve as a surrogate for U.S. interests in the Middle East. 1967 was the year when the U.S. discovered Israel, and it was the year when the Holocaust was "remembered."

The discovery of Israel happened as selectively as the remembering of the Holocaust. The U.S. discovered Israel as a military ally, not as a country with ordinary people, and so U.S. aid to Israel reflected that. Most U.S. aid to Israel, including economic aid, has been spent for expenses related to purchasing military equipment from the U.S. In order to justify that strategic relationship in moral terms, a new history of the Holocaust was "remembered."

The dominant narrative of the Holocaust is that Jews were led, like sheep to the slaughter, to the gas chambers, that they alone were murdered, and that the event of their annihilation had no precedent in history and therefore, no event in the present can compare to the Holocaust. The logical moral to the story for Jews is that we are alone in the world – no one understands our suffering because no one has experienced anything similar; we can only rely on ourselves for self-defense; we will be ever-vigilant, for danger lurks around every corner. And the logical moral to the story for Americans is that Jews need a strong Israel, and because the Jews were victims of the unspeakable, it's our duty to arm Israel to the teeth.

The dominant narrative of the Holocaust says very little about the hundreds of thousands of ordinary acts of resistance of those who perished, like the rabbi who, as he was shoved into the gas chamber, took the SS soldier by the lapel and said, "I will die today, but you will live alone with your guilt for a long time to come." Or the fact that the Jew who was forced to weld the sign at the entranceway to Auschwitz reading Arbeit Macht Frei ("Work Makes One Free") welded the "b" upside down, as a sign of rebellion and a testament of resistance.

The dominant narrative says very little about the people who risked their lives and the lives of their families to save Jews and others who were targeted for deportation and annihilation. It says very little about the millions of Roma, Poles, homosexuals and disabled people who were systematically murdered. And it says very little about genocides that preceded it, like that of the Native Americans, or that of the Armenians. It's a cheap rendition of a very complex story. [...]

Americans are listening to the story that they are being sold, one that serves the interests of a militant U.S. foreign policy towards Israel. My family friend's comments are nearly the same as those made on MSNBC's talk radio show, "Imus in the Morning," after the death of Yasser Arafat. While Don Imus said that Palestinians are eating dirt, his guest, sports anchor Sid Rosenberg, followed up by saying that Palestinians should all be bombed. It's very likely that Imus, Rosenberg and our friend couldn't find Ramallah on a map if they were asked to.

The mainstream American media and other powerful policy-making institutions push a militaristic pro-Israel line while painting a simplistic picture of Palestinians as a people whose purpose in life is to kill Jews. Most Americans never get to see Palestinians as normal human beings who are struggling to breathe under the boot of a violent military occupation. In modern American life, Palestinians have been portrayed as the ultimate Jew-haters, serving to funnel Jewish anger away from those who have systematically oppressed us. A character called "the Palestinian" has been created to be the villain in a story whose logical ending requires the U.S. to provide Israel with obscene amounts of military equipment.

And that story isn't my story, and it isn't my family's story, or my family's friend's story. In my story, there is no moral to the story of the annihilation of six million Jews and the millions of Roma, Poles, homosexuals, disabled, and others who perished. Our story isn't one with the happy endings of Hollywood Holocaust blockbusters, where we all end up in Israel, protecting ourselves with our very own machine guns. The history of the Holocaust in my family isn't over yet. As a grandchild of four Holocaust survivors, I am still living that history. Even though the Holocaust or my family's experience of anti-Semitism was hardly mentioned, I grew up in a house with the ghosts of my murdered family, with parents and grandparents who lived in absolute fear.

Before and after my family's friend told me that she thought that Palestinians are vermin and that she would poison their wells if she could, she showered me with affection (and food). She's an incredibly loving person who I believe would never intentionally hurt a single person. But she's very angry. And her wrath is misdirected at people who had nothing to do with her suffering, people whose history was stolen from them and re-written by the West.

Her wrath should have a comfortable resting place here in the United States, where the legacy of anti-Jewish oppression has never been addressed in any kind of meaningful framework that doesn't end in "and then they all lived happily-ever-after in Israel." To say that we will be safe when Israel is armed to the teeth is a sacrilege and a lie. I don't have any easy answers to the Holocaust. And anyone who does is trying to sell you something, like military equipment.

Liat Weingart is co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace and is based in San Francisco, Calif.

Comment: For further insight into the issues addressed in this article, we recommend reading our article The Causes of Hostility Towards Jews: A Historical Overview by Laura Knight-Jadczyk.

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Iraq's defence minister says Iran, Syria supporting terrorists in his country
06:05 AM EST Dec 15
PAUL GARWOOD
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's defence minister on Wednesday accused neighbouring Iran and Syria of supporting terrorists in his country and charged that a senior Iraqi Shiite was leading a "pro-Iranian" coalition into next month's national elections.
Comment: We know where this is going, right?

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Parting Shots From Fritz Hollings: Feisty Senator Had Enough
Dec. 12, 2004

(CBS) South Carolina Sen. Fritz Hollings has long been known as the tartest tongue in the Senate. But now, this feisty senator is giving up his seat. He didn't lose it, and a younger Republican didn't defeat him. But after 38 years, he just decided enough's enough.

He says the Senate has changed – and not for the better. "I'm sick of raising money to get re-elected, so I'm going home to Charleston," says Hollings.

And that's where Correspondent Mike Wallace sat down with Hollings to let him fire a few final barbs about what's wrong with Congress. These are insights from an insider who knows better than anyone the unhappy differences between then and now – especially when it comes to money.

"When I got up there, it was hardly a breakfast or an evening reception. Now there are three breakfasts, three receptions," says Hollings. "Now, we don’t work here on Fridays. We're back home doing fundraisers. You gotta collect money."

He says it's all about money. "There ain't no question. At my last campaign six years ago, it was $8.5 million. That factors out to about $30,000 a week, each week, every week for six years," says Hollings. "So if I miss a week this time, Christmas week, or New Year's week, I’m $60,000 in the hole. I gotta hurry up and start playing catch-up ball."

Hollings says senators spend hours a day, almost every day, just working the phones to raise cash. What's in it for him? "A good government," he says, laughing. "And Russell Long said, 'Those who give the money are getting more than good government.'"

"In other words, I'll get access," says Wallace.

"There ain't any question about that," says Hollings. "We say it's otherwise, but it's sort of adulterated us in a sense that we can't see everybody. … So you're bound to see those who are the big givers."

But does access mean his vote? "Not only the vote. Wait a minute, it's all those K Street lawyers now and lobbyists and interests making up the legislation, and they work with staffs and everything else. The bills, and the special interests overwhelm us with submitted legislation," says Hollings.

"Communications, defense, you got them all – farms, agriculture people and everything else like that … They get their piece of the pie. That's our problem. Today, you can't find the real interests of the country."

Hollings won his first campaign at 26 for a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives. And there, surprisingly, he helped pass an anti-lynching law and became the state's youngest governor at 36. He managed the peaceful integration of Clemson University back when other Southern governors were fighting to keep their universities all-white.

But in the Senate, the one vote he cast that he knew was wrong, and that he's always felt guilty about, was voting against putting Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court. Why did he do that?

"I couldn't get re-elected. That’s the honest answer," says Hollings. "And if I had voted for him, I might as well withdraw from the race. It, I mean, it was political."

But the political landscape changed on his watch. And he saw the South switch from a Democratic bloc to a Republican stronghold. What happened?

"We had a sweetheart deal with the National Democratic Party. 'We’ll go along with all your programs, if you’ll go along with our segregation.' But once that Civil Rights Bill passed in 1964, then Lyndon friend became Lyndon the enemy," says Hollings.

"And now, the Republican party is white, and the Democratic party is the majority black, I would say [in South Carolina]. And in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia. You can just go right across the spectrum."

"What are you saying? That all of these folks that keep voting Republican are racist," asks Wallace.

"Not quite. They are conservative. They honestly don't believe in government, like we do in the Democratic Party," says Hollings, laughing.

"We believe in feeding the hungry, and housing the homeless, and educating the uninformed and everything else like that. They believe in private education, a privatized Social Security, privatized energy policy -- privatize, privatize. They don’t believe in 'We the people' in order to form a more perfect union.”

Then why are Republicans so successful? "Because we ran a lousy campaign," says Hollings. "He [Sen. John Kerry] was a good fellow; he's still one of the finest. But he got over-coached. He had too many consultants, too many pollsters, and really too many in that they call it 'Noah’s Ark.' He had two or three of everything. And he never could make up his mind."

Hollings has a richly deserved reputation for blunt, refreshing honesty, especially when referring to Republicans like Condoleezza Rice and Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist.

"He's the finest physician in the world. There ain't no doubt about that. If I had a heart transplant needed, I'd go to Dr. Frist," says Hollings of Frist. "He's now running for president. He's out of his element. Come on, he ought to be back in the operating room."

He says Rice is a real mistake: "She ought to go back to teaching Russian or whatever it was. I've been in security, I've been working on intelligence. And for her to come on to the television, and saying on 9/11 there was nothing specific. Nothing specific. You don't say that. You don't ever get a call and say we're gonna bomb you tomorrow morning. I mean, that's piecing together. That's intelligence work."

He also told Wallace that neither Kerry, nor President Bush, could begin to compare with his hero, Jack Kennedy. Hollings ran JFK's presidential campaign in the South.

"The world loved him, the most popular president of the United States ever. And he’s the most unpopular president, George W, whether it’s in Europe, whether it’s in the Mideast. Whether it’s out on the Pacific Rim or whatever it is," says Hollings.

"Oh no, they like America still. They don’t jeehaw with George W, I can tell you, because of his policy. You know, 'I'm gonna do it on my own. You're either with me or against me.' You've got to work with people in things. Leading is not fussing and cussing' them out and insulting them."

Hollings wishes this President Bush had learned a lesson from his father's war in the Gulf, when George Bush Sr. stayed out of Baghdad.

"Papa Bush said, 'Never lead American troops into an urban guerrilla warfare and bog down in a quagmire and turn the Arab world against us,'" says Hollings.

"I mean, he was against going into Baghdad. But I think George W. wanted to say, 'I can do what Daddy can’t. I’m gonna show him that he should have gone on and everything else of that kind.' And it wasn’t a problem. And of course he had the cheerleaders: Pearl and Wolfowitz and Cheney and Rumsfeld and everything saying, 'Whoopie!'"

Hollings voted for the Iraq war, but he believes the war has been a colossal mistake. He also believes that getting out of Iraq won't be easy. He blames Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for mismanaging the war, and trying to do too much with too few. He also blames President Bush for huge budget deficits, saying that Mr. Bush fought for tax cuts instead of raising taxes to help pay for the war.

With a pension of $124,000 a year, we're not going to hold a tag sale for Hollings, who's been married to his wife, Petsey, for 33 years. They had four children, and seven grandchildren.

"They talk about couples in Washington. We get along better than any. And one fella that knows me says that’s easily explained," says Hollings. He said, 'They’re both in love with the same fella.'"

Hollings may be 83, but he doesn't act like it – and he believes it's the Senate that has kept him young. But he says Congress is not as convivial as it used to be. When he made his farewell speech to the Senate, no senators were on the floor. In fact, senators watch live pictures from the Senate floor on TV, and they rarely come to the floor, except to cast a quick vote.

"That's why I stopped. I wanted to get into Iraq. I wanted to get into several other subjects. But I was boring me," says Hollings, laughing.

And now, he returns home a hero to many, but not all. And that's just fine with him.

"The newspaper had, in my hometown, one of the Letters to the Editor ended, 'We hope Hollings enjoys his retirement, because we sure as hell will,'" says Hollings, laughing.

Comment: Pity that politicians only get the courage to say the truth on their way out of office.

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Wal-Mart sued over f-word
Last Updated Tue, 14 Dec 2004 15:53:44 EST
HAGERSTOWN, MD. - Retail giant Wal-Mart is being sued for selling an album by Evanescence that includes the f-word.

The suit, filed in a Maryland court, alleges that Wal-Mart sold the CD – which did not have a parental-advisory sticker – knowing the profanity is used in one of the songs.

Wal-Mart has cultivated an image, derided by some as being overly intrusive, of being a family friendly retailer by not selling albums with the warnings.

According to the suit, filed by Maryland resident Trevin Skeens, Wal-Mart censored the song in question, Thoughtless, when it offered a free sample of the tune on its website.

Skeens and his wife allowed their 13-year-old daughter to purchase the album, called Anywhere but Home, for her 13th birthday and were shocked when they listened to it on the drive home from the store.

"I don't want any other families to get this, expecting it to be clean. It needs to be removed from the shelves to prevent other children from hearing it," the Associated Press reported Skeens saying.

The suit seeks $74,500 U.S. in damages for each person who bought the album without knowing about the profanity.

Skeens is also suing Wind-up Records, the company that recorded the music and did not apply a warning label, as well as distributor Sony BMG.

"While Wal-Mart sets high standards, it would not be possible to eliminate every image, word or topic that an individual might find objectionable," Guy Whitcomb, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said in response to the suit.

Whitcomb said the company is investigating the matter.

He also said the online sample of Thoughtless was censored by Wal-Mart's web arm, which is a separate division.

In October, Wal-Mart banned the Jon Stewart faux textbook America (The Book) because it included a fake picture of the members of the U.S. Supreme Court in the nude.

Comment: So you buy a CD and it has the famous f-word on it, a word so venal and profane that US newspapers cannot print it, US airwaves cannot transmit it. British papers, and we don't mean the tabloids, have no trouble. Why are United Staters so emotional attached to this word? Either they can't stand to hear it or they feel compelled to use it fifty times in a sentence, as a noun, adjective, adverb, and verb.

So you buy the CD and pop it into the car stereo, and lo and behold, there it is. The f-word. And, worse than that, the kids heard it!

Well, that is obviously worth $74,500 for each person who happened to purchase the CD, isn't it? It certainly is the obligation of the store to protect people from such an encroachment upon their civil rights, their inalienable right to live in a pristine Christian evangelic bubble where sin cannot enter.

What a corrupt and decadent society where such a lawsuit it possible! Meanwhile, we have the Pentagon denouncing a German lawsuit against Don Rumsfeld for war crimes as "frivilous"!!!

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Pentagon Threatens Germany over Rumsfeld Suit
Juan Cole

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Berlin's Republican Lawyers' Association has filed suit in Germany against Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of 4 Iraqis who allege they were mistreated by American troops. A number of other high-ranking US officials are also named. AFP writes:

' The groups that filed the complaint said they had chosen Germany because of its Code of Crimes Against International Law, introduced in 2002, which grants German courts universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity. It also makes military or civilian commanders who fail to prevent their subordinates from committing such acts liable. '

What is interesting about the Pentagon reaction to this suit is how frantic the Department of Defense seems. Although spokesman Larry DiRita dismissed it as "frivolous," he threatened Germany with dire consequences if the suit goes forward. DiRita said,

'"Generally speaking, as is true anywhere, if these kinds of lawsuits take place with American servicemen in the cross-hairs, you bet it's something we take seriously . . . I think every government in the world, particularly a NATO ally, understands the potential effect on relations with the United States if these kinds of frivolous lawsuits were ever to see the light of day." '

These remarks raise several questions. Why is DiRita hiding behind the fact that American servicemen are "in the cross-hairs? What have Rumsfeld's policies or legal problems got to do with grunts on the front line? You think they like Rumsfeld? Look what happened when he let them ask him questions.

Then, if the lawsuit is frivolous, why should it produce grave consequences for Germany? It should produce frivolity and hilarity if it is frivolous. It seems actually to be taken very seriously.

Is the real threat the damage to Rumsfeld's public image, or the danger that the lawsuit may prompt a discovery process?

Finally, surely DiRita is not suggesting that the Federal government actively interfere with a legal process? Wouldn't that be the Executive squelching the Judiciary? Isn't that contrary to the separation of Powers? Or is the new monarchism to be imposed on Germany as well, now that it is the model in Washington?

Comment: Cole raises excellent questions. We would add that another reason for the US reaction is the simple fact that the neighborhood enforcer can never allow those over whom he dominates to question the established order. The US, by its very existence, has the God-given right to interfere anywhere it pleases, when and how it pleases, and no one can say a word.

Period.

So, let the world be forewarned. Holding US leaders responsible for lying to the world on the reasons for invading, occupying, and destroying Iraq, and killing countless Iraqi civilians, is frivolous while suing Walmart over "the f word" is not.

And this is the country where we are told the November election was decided over the question of morals!

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White House can't explain lurking trade imbalance
Alan Guebert
Tuesday, December 7, 2004
For nearly two years, U.S. farmers and ranchers watched as the second shoe grew bigger and bigger.

On Nov. 22, it officially dropped. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service estimates released that day, 2005 will be the first year in nearly 50 that America will not turn an agricultural trade surplus.

The dubious milestone was met with odd silence at USDA. Odd because throughout the fall presidential campaign, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman talked herself hoarse each time some farm community in a swing state dedicated a new, USDA-sponsored street light.

Now, as America is about to become a net food importer for the first time in generations, Veneman has no explanation of how Bush administration economic and trade policies have taken American agriculture from a $13.6 billion trade surplus in 2001 to a flat line in four short years.

Who can blame her? Would you want to be the first secretary of the last 11 to report such death-in-the-family news?

The news is made worse by the speed in which ag imports overtook ag exports. In August, ERS predicted a $2.5 billion ag trade surplus for 2005, the skinniest since 1972 but still a surplus.

Three months later, though, ERS lowered 2005 exports by $1.5 billion, raised imports by $1 billion (in a curious coincidence, both now are pegged at $56 billion) and the thin margin was gone.

In reporting the change, ERS chose language more suitable to politics than economics. Yes, 2005 ag imports will rise by $3.3 billion over 2004. "But, this 6 percent gain in import value," it noted, "is less than half the 15 percent import pace in 2004 import value."

Translation: While both of your shoes were on fire in 2004, only one will be on fire in 2005.

Ironically, the very thing farmers have been told for years would be their savior - a cheaper dollar - is worsening the ag trade balance. Despite the dollar now falling to new lows against most of the world's major currencies, 2005 ag exports will be $6.3 billion less than in 2004.

Simultaneously, the fast-cracking dollar has not slowed more expensive imports. Indeed, says ERS, the 2005 "import volume (will be) unchanged," but "their higher prices will continue to push the total U.S. import bill up."

Wow, and all this occurred while the U.S.-Canadian border remained closed to live cattle imports (the White House promises to open the border soon) and quotas limited Aussie beef exports to the U.S.

Imagine the flood to hit when the World Trade Organization kicks the American door open even more.

On second thought, little imagination is necessary. Three news items - all tied to Brazil and combined with the trade report - paint a clear picture of where U.S. farmers and ranchers will find themselves in a more open global food market: further behind.

Brazil recently noted it exported more soy and soy products in the first 10 months of 2004 than the U.S. will export in the entire year - $9.3 billion for them, $8.83 billion for us.

Also, in mid-November Brazil and China formalized an ambitious trading relationship. The deal opens China to Brazilian beef, soy and minerals and commits China to invest $5 to $7 billion in Brazilian roads, ports and railways.

Additionally, the Chicago Board of Trade recently confirmed it will launch a Brazilian soybean futures contract in mid-2005. The contract "is a historical change," notes a CBOT spokesman.

These latter news items suggest the ERS trade report wasn't the proverbial second shoe to drop. It was the first; and more are coming.

Comment: Could the Bush Aminsitration be consciously working to increase poverty in the US? Is this their plan to create a large pool of available cannon fodder for the US military over the next four years?

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Trade Gap Widens to Record $55.5 Billion
By Doug Palmer
December 14, 2004

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. trade gap widened nearly 9 percent in October to a record $55.5 billion as sky-high oil prices helped propel imports into new territory, the government said on Tuesday, while a second report showed industrial output rose in November, as expected.

October's unexpectedly large shortfall pushed the deficit tally for the first 10 months of 2004 to $500.5 billion, surpassing the record $496.5 billion for all of 2003, the Commerce Department said.

Despite a persistent slide in the value of the dollar since 2002 -- making U.S. exports a better deal for foreign buyers and boosting the cost of imports for the United States -- the trade gap grew 8.9 percent in October from a revised $50.9 billion in September.

The trade data, and a separate report showing factory output grew 0.3 percent in November, were the last pieces of major economic data for Federal Reserve policy-makers to consider before they voted unanimously to raise interest rates a quarter-percentage point for the fifth time this year.

The widely expected move boosted the benchmark federal funds rate -- which affects credit costs throughout the economy -- to 2.25 percent from 2 percent.

News of the wider trade gap renewed pressure on the dollar and was expected to lead economists to trim estimates of U.S. economic growth. [...]

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Ala. Judge Wears Ten Commandments on Robe
By BOB JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 14,11:21 PM ET

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A judge refused to delay a trial Tuesday when an attorney objected to his wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on the front in gold.

Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan showed up Monday at his Covington County courtroom in southern Alabama wearing the robe. Attorneys who try cases at the courthouse said they had not seen him wearing it before. The commandments were described as being big enough to read by anyone near the judge.

Attorney Riley Powell, defending a client charged with DUI, filed a motion objecting to the robe and asking that the case be continued. He said McKathan denied both motions.

"I feel this creates a distraction that affects my client," Powell said.

McKathan told The Associated Press that he believes the Ten Commandments represent the truth "and you can't divorce the law from the truth. ... The Ten Commandments can help a judge know the difference between right and wrong."

He said he doesn't believe the commandments on his robe would have an adverse effect on jurors.

"I had a choice of several sizes of letters. I purposely chose a size that would not be in anybody's face," he said.

The case raised comparisons to former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was removed from office in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery.

Moore said Tuesday he supports McKathan's decision to wear the Ten Commandments robe.

"I applaud Judge McKathan. It is time for our judiciary to recognize the moral basis of our law," Moore said.

Powell said if he loses his case, he expects the judge's wearing of the Ten Commandments robe to be part of an appeal.

Comment: Somehow we wouldn't be surprised if any day now, Bush tears up the constitution and declares that God is the new law in the US, and that Dubya himself is the second coming.

Even more frightening to contemplate is the huge number of Americans who would probably believe it without question...

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Her Kinsey Obsession

By Max Blumenthal, AlterNet.
Posted December 15, 2004

Judith Reisman believes sex researcher Alfred Kinsey is responsible for all the cultural decay and sexual permisiveness that she sees. And she's got the ear of the Christian right and the White House.

Bill Condon's new movie, "Kinsey" may have reawakened America's interest in the largely forgotten but influential post-War era sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey, but for Judith Reisman, he has been a singular obsession for decades. Reisman has cast herself as the anti-Kinsey, a self-styled moral monger in an existential – and admittedly personal – battle with the forces of cultural decay and sexual permissiveness. In her writings and lectures, Reisman conjures a dark world in which Playboy magazine insidiously pushes kiddie-porn, where homosexuals crusade for the hearts and behinds of America's youth and "erotoxins" as powerful as crack cocaine fill the somatasensory cortexes of porn watchers. From Reisman's writings and lectures, one could get the impression that this world is entirely the creation of Kinsey, the Master of Perverts.

While Reisman's ideas have naturally endeared her to a Who's Who of ornery theocrats and survivalist militia types, in recent years she has found herself kibitzing with the likes of GOP senators and Bush administration officials. Though the "Dr." that precedes her name on her book and her web site is practically cosmetic, earned with a degree in communications, this November she provided expert testimony on Capitol Hill for Republican Sen. Sam Brownback on the scientific perils of pornography. There, she also lobbied for the reintroduction of a bill that would mandate an investigation into her claim that Kinsey sexually abused children during his research. Through friends in the Justice Department, Reisman has helped push for an increased focus on prosecuting porn. And she is a favorite speaker at conferences of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, a federally funded non-profit which provides technical assistance to controversial abstinence-only programs in public schools. As Reisman gathers influence in Republican-dominated Washington, her work is bearing an increasingly apparent mark on the Christian right's political agenda and by extension, on the White House's social policy.

"As president and founder of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, Judith Reisman has affected my life personally through the enormous amount of scientific research she's done – and without Judith's impact on my life, I don't believe the abstinence community would have been impacted," Abstinence Clearinghouse founder, Leslee Unruh, told me. The Abstinence Clearinghouse, advised by members of conservative Christian groups like Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America and Coral Ridge Ministries, is funded in part by the Department of Health and Human Services. As the spearhead of the abstinence-only movement, its primary task is to design and disseminate curricula to public schools which administer abstinence-only courses.

Unruh is a retired businesswoman and anti-abortion activist who says she "has a common sense background" in the sexual health field. Thanks to her friend Reisman, she says, she has come to understand that "Kinsey is very responsible for the destruction of my parents' generation." Through Abstinence Clearinghouse, Unruh sells Reisman's book, "Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences," which accuses Kinsey of everything from pedophilia to Nazism, and publishes a pamphlet, "Casualties of Kinsey," supporting the theory that Kinsey molested child research volunteers. Reisman is also a featured speaker at Clearinghouse conferences.

"I think Judith Reisman is starting to have an impact with people in the abstinence community because I've pushed to have her at our conferences, and they just love her," said Unruh.

So how did a little old Jewish lady like Reisman earn rock-star status on the right? How did a red diaper baby active in the Labor Youth League in the 1940's come to blame Kinsey for all of America's social ills? And how did the daughter of Yiddish-speaking immigrants begin equating Kinsey with the Nazis who liquidated much of her extended family in Europe? The answer, or at least, hints of it, lies in her personal history, a story with no shortage of startling twists, turns and tragedies. Though she refused to tell her tale to me, rejecting e-mail and phone requests for an interview, Reisman has recorded it in a self-published 1998 essay, "A Personal Odyssey to the Truth."

Her story begins in pre-World War II Newark, N.J., a haven for Jewish immigrants that also serves as the setting for Phillip Roth's best selling novel about a covert Nazi conspiracy to seize control of the United States, "The Plot Against America." Like Roth, Reisman portrays Newark as a garden of innocence, a redoubt from the storm of cultural tumult gathering around her. Her mother was a Yiddish theatre actress and her father, a folk singer; both passed their musical talents on to her. "I lived at a wonderful time," Reisman recalled. "I felt safe with neighbors, uncles or cousins as was the custom of that time." It was morning in America.

Even when the 1960s arrived, Reisman claimed she was still a naif. "I married, and the hedge of protection about my life was not breached until 1966 when my 10-year-old daughter was molested by a 13-year-old adored and trusted family friend," she wrote. "He knew she would like it, he said, he knew from his father's magazines." According to Reisman, the boy slipped out of the country with his family while her daughter slipped into a deep depression which Reisman suggested may have contributed to her death from a brain aneurysm 15 years later.

After the incident, Reisman sought solace in a college friend living in the liberal mecca, Berkeley. She claims her friend told her that "children are sexual from birth." "I did not know it then," Reisman recounted, "but as a young mother, I had entered the world according to Kinsey." But before Reisman set her sights on Kinsey, her career as a songwriter would have to collapse under the weight of the liberal media.

In 1973, after earning a name as a pioneering music video producer for various local children's shows, her talents were recognized by the producer of "Captain Kangaroo." Soon after he hired her, however, she says he informed her that she would need to adapt her songwriting style to the changing tastes of American kids, who were tuning into cartoons at increasing rates. "I would have to speed up my tempo to compete with the fast-action and the increasing violence of the cartoons on other stations ... I found myself unwilling or unable to write for children that way," Reisman recalled.

Reisman spent her royalties from "Kangaroo" to put herself through graduate school at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, where she says she studied mass media's effects on the minds of children. She emerged from her studies convinced that images of Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse and other cuddly characters that appeared "in Playboy/Penthouse would cause sexual acting out on children." After she delivered a lecture on the Playboy/kiddie porn conspiracy at a conference on "Love and Attraction" at Swansea University in Wales in 1977, Reisman claims she was taken aside by a "Canadian professor" who informed her there was only one man responsible for the "global child sex abuse epidemic": Alfred Kinsey.

"Now I finally knew there was a source authority for children increasingly being viewed sexually," Reisman wrote. "... [M]y friend Carole had ... gotten the idea that 'children were sexual from birth' from Kinsey." Suddenly, the boy who molested Reisman's daughter became a mere extension of Kinsey. And while the boy had dissapeared, Reisman saw Kinsey living on in the mounting women's liberation and gay rights movements.

Interestingly, in her "Personal Odyssey," Reisman cites nearly everyone who influenced her ideological formation, from her father to her enemies in the "international academic pedophile movement" – everyone, that is, except her husband. In a 1996 profile of Reisman by Miss Poppy Dixon (on her web site, AdultChristianity.com), wrote that Reisman was, "Intimidated by her husband, a university professor ..." One wonders why Reisman omitted him from her tale.

The onset of the Reagan Revolution presented Reisman with a wealth of opportunities. In 1984, Justice Department official Alfred Regnery, now a prominent conservative publisher, granted Reisman $734,371 to analyze the content of Playboy magazines between 1954 and 1984. When she turned in her findings at American University, where she was based, the university refused to publish them. Even Regnery confessed the grant was a mistake. "This is not science, it's vigilantism: paranoid, pseudoscientific hyperbole with a thinly veiled, hidden agenda. This kind of thing doesn't help children at all," Dr. Loretta Haroian, a leading expert on childhood sexuality, said of Reisman's report.

Ostracized by mainstream academia, within 10 years, Reisman had found a more receptive audience for her ideas. At a May, 1994 conference of Christian right leadership in Colorado Springs described by the Washington Times as "top secret," Reisman introduced her theory of a proselytizing homosexual movement. "I would suggest to you," she told the conference, "that while the homosexual population may right now be one to two percent, hold your breath, people, because the recruitment is loud; it is clear; it is everywhere. You'll be seeing, I would say, 20 percent or more, probably 30 percent, or even more than that, of the young population will be moving into homosexual activity." The notion of a surreptitious homosexual recruitment campaign is now casually advanced by conservative Christian leaders as they rally for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

While winning friends among the Christian right, Reisman was also seeking to influence people on Capitol Hill in her push for an investigation into whether Kinsey had sexually abused children during his research. She presented this accusation in her essay, "Kinsey and The Homosexual Revolution." As Poppy Dixon wrote of the essay, "The bulk of [Reisman's] tirade is comprised of 31 complex and leading questions designed to prejudice the reader." Indeed, Reisman does not offer any conclusive answer to her question, "What if [Kinsey's work] reflects unethical scientists committing unprosecuted criminal acts?" or anything else she asks. She simply posits Kinsey's alleged criminality as a "possibility," one which none of Kinsey's four biographers have found any evidence to entertain. [...]

Yet the Bush administration's entry into the White House in 2000 was a rising tide that promised to lift the boats of Reisman and her fellow culture warriors. Reisman's anti-porn crusade gained steam with the February, 2003 appointment of her longtime friend Bruce Taylor to senior counsel to the assistant attorney general. Taylor has prosecuted over 700 obscenity cases in his career, including the famed 1981 Ohio vs. Larry Flynt trial. With a $5 million budget earmarked for 2005, Taylor is in charge of a beefed-up FBI task force dedicated to cracking down on porn. And like Unruh, his work is inspired by Reisman. "We should probably call her Detective Reisman for finding the hidden clue to Kinsey's crimes against children and families," Taylor said in a quote Reisman published on her personal web site. "'Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences' is a blueprint for justice for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse."

This November, Reisman spent a week on the Hill at the invitation of Sen. Brownback, the evangelical Kansas Republican, to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space on "The Science Behind Pornography Addiction." In her testimony, Reisman presented her discredited Playboy/kiddie-porn report to reinforce her contention that, "Pornography triggers myriad kinds of internal, natural drugs that mimic the 'high' from a street drug. Addiction to pornography is addiction to what I dub 'erotoxins' – mind-altering drugs produced by the viewer's own brain." She added, "A basic science research team employing a cautiously protective methodology should study 'erotoxins' and the brain/body." Her call for a research team was both a tacit admission that her presentation was bereft of any scientific evidence, and yet another plea for federal grant money for her studies.

Though Reisman has cultivated a wealth of connections within government, her deepest wellspring of influence remains the Christian right, which is certain to enjoy unprecendented access to the White House in a second Bush term. Reisman is a longtime consultant to Washington-based lobbying powerhouses like Concerned Women for America and the American Family Association. And she has enlisted her friend Eunice Ray, founder of Restoring Social Virtue and Purity to America (RSVP America) to campaign full time for the reintroduction of HR 2749. [...]

Reisman's research on Kinsey isn't the only thing that makes her an asset to the Christian right. She also plays a critical PR role as its House Hebrew. In 1995, when leaders of the right-wing Catholic anti-abortion group, Human Life International (HLI), came under fire for fingering Jews as the primary promoters of abortion, Reisman stepped in as the group's spokesperson to declare, "Everyone knows Jews do lead the abortion industry, and I'll thank B'nai B'rith from the bottom of my heart if they can prove otherwise." Similarly, when Concerned Women's Family and Culture Institute director Robert Knight was lambasted for comparing Kinsey to the sinister Nazi doctor, Joseph Mengele, he defended himself by penning an op-ed quoting Reisman – "the Jewish woman who first exposed Kinsey's vile 'reseach'" – making the same comparison.

In fact, equating homosexuals, abortion doctors and secular humanists with the Nazis who massacred so much of her family in Europe is a staple of Reisman's rhetoric. "Idealistic 'gay youth' groups are being formed and staffed in classrooms nationwide by recruiters too similar to those who formed the original 'Hitler youth,'" Reisman was quoted as saying in the New Yorker last month. And her book, "Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences," is replete with comparisons of Kinsey to Nazi scientists, including insinuations that his involvement in the Boy Scouts as a teenager was on par with membership in the Hitler Youth.

Last June, Reisman was a guest at the Abstinence Clearinghouse's annual leadership conference in Nashville, Tenn. There, she rubbed shoulders with White House public liaison Tim Goeglein before taking the stage alongside Eunice Ray to declare, "pornography is training all your sex educators." According to Unruh, Reisman received several standing ovations and "everyone just loved her."

Later in the evening, conference attendees were addressed on a video link-up by Bush, who pledged to double federal funding for abstinence-only programs – $168 million is allocated for 2005 – and stated, "Through your educational programs, you reach out to countless young people to give them the support they need to make that responsible choice." Finally, Reisman was honored with an "Abstie Lifetime Achievement Award."

Given the impact of Reisman's agenda-driven research on the abstinence-only movement, it's perhaps no surprise that the credibility of abstinence-only curricula has been widely questioned. A recent report by California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman revealed that Abstinence Clearinghouse-reviewed programs teach teens that, for instance, genital touching can cause pregnancy and that HIV can be transmitted through tears and sweat. Another Clearinghouse-reviewed textbook informs them, "Women gauge their happiness and judge their success on their relationships. Men's happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments." According to Waxman's report, 80 percent of data about reproductive health in abstinence-only programs is false, misleading or distorted.

In a retort to Waxman, Unruh borrowed Reisman's signature strawman tactic, comparing the pointy-headed Waxman not to a Nazi, but to the oversexed basketball legend, Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain. "It can all be summed up with Wilt Chamberlain," Unruh said. "He wrote a book and said he had thousands of sex partners, and he said, 'I never had one true intimate relationship.' What a tragedy. And that can sum up Waxman and every other person that's out there teaching the mechanics of sex." [...]

Comment: People like Reisman seem to be the driving force behind much of America's current decline. Americans are told they must battle against promiscuity and child pornography, yet Reisman's work is classified by one university as vigilantism and pseudoscientific hyperbole. Her work is centered around asking leading questions about those she wishes to vilify, and facts are strangely absent from her arguments. In fact, it seems that Reisman has no facts - she simply has an ability to rile up the emotions of her target audience. When emotion is running the show, people can be made to believe and support just about anything.

It is therefore no coincidence that Reisman is such good buddies with the Christian Right and members of the Bush administration. Bush and the Neocons used the exact same tactics to achieve US support for the invasion of Iraq. Bush lied about Saddam's WMD's, and eventually reported to the American people that he didn't have any - but not to worry, because he was a bad man and the US has brought freedom and democracy to Iraq. Here we note that when forced to confront previous lies, Bush simply used new lies to deflect any blame. It seems that it didn't occur to enough Americans that if he lied before about the WMD's, he could also be lying about just how bad Saddam was, or if the US is actually bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq. As we have repeatedly shown here on the Signs page, Bush's statements are nowhere near the truth.

In the end, it is obvious that allowing ourselves to be led by our emotions is incredibly hazardous to both ourselves and those around us. Bush, the Neocons, and people like Reisman don't care about the truth. They are interesting in reshaping reality to fit their personal perceptions and bias about how this world should be. This is why we at Signs of the Times always encourage our readers to verify information for themselves. It is essential to ask - and find answers to - questions like "Who says?" and "Who benefits?" if one is to avoid being led astray by lies and half-truths encased in emotional declarations and propaganda.

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Poland to cut number of troops in Iraq by around one-third
AFP
Tue Dec 14, 1:54 PM ET

WARSAW (AFP) - Poland plans to cut the size of its force in the US-led coalition in Iraq from 2,400 troops to 1,700 in mid-February, Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski announced.

However, he said another 700 troops based in Poland would be on standby to be deployed to the war-torn country if needed.

Poland was a key US ally in the war which toppled Saddam Hussein and is now the third largest contributor of soldiers to Iraq after the United States and Britain, commanding a multinational division of some 6,500 troops, including 2,400 Poles, within the US-led coalition.

Seventeen Poles -- 13 military and four civilians -- have been killed there since the Polish deployment in August 2003. A Polish woman also spent three weeks as a hostage in Iraq before being freed in mid-November.

Polish officials have indicated they want to end the unpopular troop deployment, starting at the end of January after the Iraqi election.

"The presence of Polish soldiers during the election campaign and during the elections in Iraq will be maintained at the current level of 2,400," Szmajdzinski said.

"The withdrawal and the arrival of the new replacement troops will take place only during the first half of February," he added.

He said that after the elections, Warsaw would reassess the situation and would determine long-term prospects for its presence in Iraq. [...]

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US marines battling rebel holdouts in Fallujah
AFP
Dec 14, 2004
FALLUJAH, Iraq - US marines say they are facing "fanatics" as they clear the last fighters from Fallujah, but the mostly foreign rebels still in the flashpoint Iraq city are proving harder to fight than expected.

"Sometimes it's more difficult than orginally planned," said marine captain Paul Batty.

"What's happening now is to the credit of these (rebels) and their will to fight. They are here to die.

"Right now we are fighting fanatics -- it's way beyond the money question. You would need millions of dollars to get an ordinary person to live this life." [...]

At least 30 suspected insurgents were killed in fighting over the weekend, Batty said, but he added that marines also took heavy casualties with more than a dozen wounded.

"We had to call in tanks and air support to finish them off," Batty said.

Despite the massive amount of firepower unleashed on Fallujah during last month's assault which began November 8 and lasted about a week, insurgents in the city have proven wily opponents as marines try to police up the city in the aftermath of the initial attack.

"This is a smart enemy, even though their fighting technique is average with little discipline. They are incredibly skilled with IEDs (improvised bombs) and booby traps," Batty said.

He said at least 60 percent of the fighters his units has encountered were foreigners.

"There are people from Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, we even had Chechens," he said. [...]

Comment: Isn't it more likely that these "foreign fighters" are actually just Iraqis defending their country from US occupiers? Americans would be just as "fanatical" in defending their "homeland" if someone invaded the US. How do US soldiers know that some of the fighters are from other countries? Where they simply informed of this "fact" by US "intelligence"? Unfortunately, the article does not provide any evidence to back up the soldier's claim.

It is also rather interesting that although the Iraqi freedom fighters are claimed to have average combat tactics with little discipline, the most powerful military on the planet had to call in tanks and air support to beat them.

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Health Secretary Nominee May Cut Programs
By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
December 14, 2004

WASHINGTON - Michael Leavitt, President Bush's choice to be secretary of Health and Human Services, may have to cut billions of dollars from the government's mammoth health programs for the elderly, poor and disabled to pare the budget deficit.

The Medicare and Medicaid programs, consuming nearly $500 billion a year and growing quickly, could be vulnerable in the context of last year's $413 billion budget deficit, the ongoing war in Iraq, costly domestic security commitments and administration plans to revamp Social Security without raising taxes. [...]

The HHS secretary also oversees the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the Indian Health Service. In all, the agency has a budget of more than $500 billion and 67,000 employees.

If Congress undertakes serious budget cutting next year, Medicare and Medicaid would be unlikely to escape, senior Republican congressional aides said last week.

Ron Pollack, executive director of the consumer group Families USA and an administration critic, said the costs of Bush's second-term agenda coupled with his opposition to tax increases "points to Medicaid potentially taking a very large hit." [...]

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U.S. Missile Defense Test Fails
By Jim Wolf
December 15, 2004

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first test in nearly two years of a multibillion-dollar U.S. anti-missile shield failed on Wednesday when the interceptor missile shut down as it prepared to launch in the central Pacific, the Pentagon said.

About 16 minutes earlier, a target missile carrying a mock warhead had been successfully fired from Kodiak Island, Alaska, according to a statement from the Missile Defense Agency.

The aborted $85 million test appeared likely to set back plans for activation of a rudimentary bulwark against long-range ballistic missiles that could be fired by countries like North Korea.

In 2002, President Bush pledged to have initial elements of the program up and running by the end of this year while testing and development continued.

An "anomaly" of unknown origin caused the interceptor to shut down automatically in its silo at the Kwajalein Test Range in the Marshall Islands, said Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon's missile agency.

The test followed a week of delays caused by weather and technical glitches, including malfunction of an internal battery aboard the target missile on Tuesday, he said.

"This is a serious setback for a program that had not attempted a flight intercept test for two years," Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester under late President Ronald Reagan, said in an e-mail exchange. [...]

When a shootdown has been the chief test objective, the system so far has succeeded five of eight times in highly scripted conditions.

The last test, in December 2002, misfired when the warhead -- a 120-pound "kill vehicle" of sensors, chips and thrusters designed to pulverize its target on collision -- failed to separate from its booster rocket.

Boeing Co., as prime contractor, put together the ground-based shield, which is to be folded into a system involving airborne, sea- and space-based elements. All told, the Pentagon is spending $10 billion a year on the project. [...]

Comment: While it seems Medicare and Medicaid funding will need to be cut, the Pentagon is dumping $10 billion a year into a missile shield project that doesn't even work. But not to worry! Bush will just order pre-emptive military action against North Korea and Iran, and all will be well...

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Air France passengers foil deportation attempt
AFP
December 14, 2004

PARIS - Passengers on an Air France flight from Paris to Kinshasa prevented police from deporting three bound illegal immigrants Tuesday by refusing to allow the plane to take off.

The officers were forced to get off the aircraft, flight AF898 bound for the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the three detainees - two men and a women - who had their wrists and feet chained together.

French police often use commercial flights to repatriate illegal immigrants to Africa, despite occasional protests from passengers who consider the way the prisoners are handled inhumane and degrading.

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Europe heatwaves 'soon routine'
By Alex Kirby
BBC News website environment correspondent
A stark warning of the probable effects of global warming in Europe has been given by a UK climate research group.

Scientists at the Met Office's Hadley Centre say the 2003 European heatwave, the hottest ever recorded, could within just 60 years pass as "unusually cool".

They cannot yet reliably estimate the risk of a Gulf Stream collapse, but say it would mean "significant" cooling.

The researchers say 2003 was the third warmest year on record, about 0.8C hotter than just over a century ago.

The Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research is one of the world's leading scientific groups studying what a warming world will be like.

Into the heat

Its report, Uncertainty, Risk And Dangerous Climate Change, is published as the countries which have signed the Kyoto Protocol, the global climate treaty, meet in Argentina.

The report says last year's European heatwave, the most intense since records began, caused more than 15,000 extra deaths.

The authors say they estimate man-made climate change has already doubled the risk of such heatwaves.

They investigate one scenario prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which envisages medium to high emissions of greenhouse gases.

On that basis, they predict that by the 2040s more than half of all European summers are likely to be warmer than 2003's. They add: "By the 2060s, a 2003-type summer would be unusually cool."

European chill

But the report says things could turn out very differently: "While climate is expected to change gradually over the course of the century, there are some components of the climate system which could change abruptly.

"There are also concerns that some processes may have a trigger point which, once exceeded, will make the changes inevitable, no matter how much we reduce the emissions subsequently."

It looks at the thermohaline circulation, the system of ocean currents that carries heat from the tropics to higher latitudes to keep them warmer than they would otherwise be.

If this circulation, which influences a largely wind-driven North Atlantic surface current known as the Gulf Stream, shuts down, the report says, the whole of the northern hemisphere is predicted to cool, "leading to large impacts".

It says there is "a significant possibility" that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could be triggered in the next few centuries.

The report adds that there is concern that the ice might never return to its present volume, even if atmospheric carbon dioxide were reduced to pre-industrial levels.

The authors say 2003's global average surface temperature was nearly 0.8C above that at the end of the 19th Century, making it the third warmest since instrumental records began 143 years ago.

They write: "The 10 warmest years have occurred since 1990, including each year since 1997. Since 1975, the land has warmed at approximately twice the rate of the oceans."

Space effects

In a separate study, UK and US astronomers have again raised the possibility that the Sun's indirect effects may have had a bigger impact on the Earth's climate than is generally recognised.

COSMIC RAYS AND CLOUDS
The Sun's magnetic field and solar wind shield the Solar System from cosmic rays (very energetic particles and radiation from outer space)
Changes in solar activity will affect the performance of the shield and how many cosmic rays get through to Earth
Theory suggests cosmic rays can "seed" clouds. Some satellite data have shown a close match between the amount of cloud cover over Earth and the changing flux in cosmic rays reaching the planet
Their analysis suggests there is a strong link between low-level cloud formation and changes in the amount of cosmic rays - high-energy space particles - hitting the atmosphere.

Solar activity is very directly correlated to this cosmic ray flux, and some scientists suspect the impacts can somehow seed clouds, altering the Earth's ability to either reflect or retain the Sun's radiation (although the actual mechanism is not known).

The UK-US team tell the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics that a simple model constructed to investigate the cloud and cosmic ray link could "explain a significant part of the global warming over the past century, but not all".

It is a controversial idea, with many climate scientists arguing that greenhouse gases have been by far the dominant force pushing the Earth on to a sharp warming trend over the past 150 years.

Enric Pallé, John Butler and Keran O'Brien say emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide may be responsible for the significant warming for which their model cannot account.

Comment: We don't know what the future will bring with any great certainty. As this article points out, we may see a slow development towards hotter years that will make the summer of 2003 seem cool in comparison. We may, on the contrary, see a major shift in the Gulf Stream leading to a rapid onset of a new ice age.

What we can see around us, however, is that we seem to be in a period of greater chaos. The old patterns are changing. The new patterns are not clear. This indicates that we are in a period of phase transition, a period where a prior stability has been shaken without arriving yet at the new equilibrium. We are in between periods of equilibrium.

Many scientists believe that radical shifts occur gradually over time. Based upon this gradualist philisophy, they calculate long term shifts in centuries or thousands of years. But a simple analogy with the phase transitions of water show that this gradualism is not necessarily true. When energy is removed from water by cooling, it gets colder and colder until, at 32 degrees farenheit or 0 degrees celsius, it freezes. At one degree warmer, water is still liquid. One degree less, it has become a solid. The change is rapid, immediate, and "catastrophic". The same when energy is added to the water in its liquid state and it becomes steam, a gas. The transition occurs at 212 degrees farenheit or 100 degrees celsius.

The Earth, its climate, it ecology is also a complex system. The historical record shows that transitions between ice ages and interglacial periods can be rapid. The hundreds of thousands of flash frozen carcasses in the arctic dating back to 10,000 to 12,000 years ago offer more evidence that change can be rapid and catastrophic.

We think it is quite likely that we are in such a period of phase transition. We think that this possibility is known by the people who rule our world and is the real reason for the growing militarisation of society, for the imposition of "Homeland Security" and the crusade against hard-won rights and liberties. The Powers That Be are putting into place the infrastructure necessary to control society as it spins out of control.

Do you have a better explanation? One that fits all the data?

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Spring Coming Earlier Than It Used To
By WILLIAM KATES, Associated Press Writer
December 15, 2004

ITHACA, N.Y. - As the first signs of winter push into the Northeast, researchers have some good news for fair weather fans — spring is coming earlier than it used to.

The lilacs say so.

In one of the most comprehensive studies that plants in the Northeast are responding to the global warming trend, Cornell scientists and their colleagues at the University of Wisconsin found lilacs are blooming about four days earlier than they did in 1965.

David Wolfe, a plant ecology professor at Cornell whose research will be published in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Biometeorology, said nature's calendar is changing due to an increase in greenhouse gases.

"It's not just the weather data telling us there is a warming trend going on. We are now seeing the living world responding to the climate change as well," Wolfe said Tuesday. [...]

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