Tuesday, December 21, 2004
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Picture of the Day


Poplars in the fog
© 2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte


Bush: Iraq Bombers Are "Having An Effect"

Assoc. Press
20/12/2004

WASHINGTON Dec 20, 2004 — In a sobering assessment of the Iraq war, President Bush acknowledged Monday that Americans' resolve has been shaken by grisly scenes of death and destruction and he pointedly criticized the performance of U.S.-trained Iraqi troops. "No question about it," he said. "The bombers are having an effect."

Comment: Well thank you George! "The bombers are having an effect". The American public are indebted to you for bringing to their awareness the fact that "bombers have an effect". We suppose that we can extrapolate out and conclude that bombs also have "an effect"? If this is not THE best example of political "non speak" then we don't know what is.

Bush declined to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin despite concerns that he has strengthened authoritarian controls and backtracked on post-Soviet democratic reforms. Bush said he has a good personal relationship with Putin and "I intend to keep it that way." The United States and Russia have disagreements, the president added, but he said the relationship is good.

Comment: It really is rather curious. During the cold war, the various political "leaders" of the day had no problem with making it clear that they were not on good terms with "leaders" of other countries, and we know now that the majority of the sabre rattling at that time was for the purpose of moulding public perception. Today however, when we have clear evidence of very serious rifts between the US and Europe and Russia, the "leaders" of those countries are bending over backwards to avoid having to admit it. Perhaps it is a sign that this time there really IS a "cold war" in progress.

The president also offered a warm testimonial for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the face of spreading expressions of no-confidence by GOP senators. Rumsfeld appears "rough and gruff," Bush said, but "he's a good, decent man. He's a caring fellow."

Comment: Sure! We hear that Ghengis Khan was quite "cuddly-looking" - when he was asleep.

For 53 minutes, Bush fielded questions on international and domestic affairs. It was his 17th formal news conference, held one day before he flies to the presidential retreat at Camp David for a vacation that will stretch into early next year and include a stay at his Texas ranch.

Comment: 17 news conferences in four years. That just over 4 year or one ever three months. Go hang out with the doggies George, you obviously need it, they speak your language.

Bush spoke a day after the deadliest attacks in Iraq since July killing at least 54 people in Najaf and at least 13 in Karbala and six weeks before Iraqis vote for a transitional assembly that will choose a president and a government and draft a permanent constitution. American newspapers showed chilling pictures of rebels in the heart of Baghdad executing election workers in cold blood.

"And so the American people are taking a look at Iraq and wondering whether the Iraqis are eventually going to be able to fight off these bombers and killers," Bush said in perhaps his clearest expression of frustration with Iraqi forces. Bush's strategy calls for American troops to protect Iraq while local police and soldiers are trained to do the job themselves, eventually allowing the United States to withdraw.

Comment: Well isn't that nice! George is now telling the American people what they are thinking. While George would like the American people to be thinking what the Iraqis are going to do about the bombings, we hope that there are at least some Americans who realise that the Iraqis are going to do nothing about the bombings, because the bombings are being carried out by:

a) the Iraqis themselves against the illegal occupying US forces

or

b) American and Israeli sponsored mercenaries who are tasked with providing the necessary conditions for Bush to claim that Iraq is on the brink of civil war and needs to be "restructured".

"Now I would call the results mixed in terms of standing up Iraqi units who are willing to fight," Bush said in a candid assessment. "There have been some cases where, when the heat got on, they left the battlefield. That's unacceptable. Iraq will never secure itself if they have troops that, when the heat gets on, they leave the battlefield." What is needed, he said, is a better military command structure.

Comment: yes, that is very worrying George, isn't it. I mean, what good are those darn Iraqis if they won't shoot their own brothers and fathers? This whole "leaving the battlefiled" and refusing to die for corporate interests very unbecoming of the modern soldier/killing machine.

Polls show an erosion in Americans' confidence that a stable, democratic government will be established in Iraq. "Polls change. Polls go up, polls go down," Bush said.

Comment: Polls go up, polls go down, sometimes they stay the same, sometimes they are manipulted, sometimes they are completely made up. In the final analysis they mean absolutely nothing, and George knows it, that's why is is so dismissive of them. But, shssssh! Don't tell the public, most of them decide what to think based on "polls".

He said he understands why Americans have doubts about Iraq's ability. "They're looking on your TV screen and seeing indiscriminate bombings, where thousands of innocent or hundreds of innocent Iraqis are getting killed …" But Bush said those pictures do not reflect that 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces are relatively stable and that small businesses are starting up. "Life is better now than it was under Saddam Hussein."

Comment: Damn TV! Who approved the images of thousands or hundreds of whatever, of innocent Iraqis getting killed?! But listen to George everyone. Even though a large section of Iraq is in complete and utter chaos, there are still 15 Iraqi provinces that are only in "relative chaos" or "relatively stable" to use George's words. And don't forget, "small businesses are starting up". Just yesterday another Iraqi family set up a stall outside their bomb-damaged house and began selling their furniture to buy food. So don't forget: "Iraq is better now than it was under Saddam Hussein." Just keep repeating that to yourself, over and over and over again.

"But no question about it. The bombers are having an effect … They're trying to shake the will of the Iraqi people and, frankly, trying to shake the will of the American people."

Comment: Look out Americans! The "terrorists" are trying to shake your will! Get 'em! What do you mean you haven't felt your will being shaken? Are you a patriotic American or not? Listen, you are either with US or you are with the "terrorists", so get shakin!

Bush warned that insurgents would try to delay Iraq's elections, scheduled for Jan. 30, and intimidate the people. "I certainly don't expect the process to be trouble-free," the president said. "Yet I am confident of the result. I'm confident that terrorists will fail, the elections will go forward and Iraq will be a democracy…." He said he could not predict when American forces could come home.

Comment: No thought, no tactics, no reason, no logic are needed, all that is needed is George's "confidence" that, by some miracle, the "terrorists will fail, the elections will go forward and Iraq will be a democracy". In fact, George can be quite confident that most Americans will believe that, on the appointment of the orc-like CIA asset Allawi as Prime Minister of Iraq, Iraq will have made the transition to American-style "democracy".

He renewed his warning to Syria and Iran against "meddling" in Iraq's political process. "I meant it. And hopefully those governments heard what I said," Bush said, without threatening any consequences.

Comment: Right here we have the quintessence of Geroge's Bush's political (and personal) philosophy: "I mean it!" That, along with "bring 'em on" and "we're gonna git them turrists" and "the evul-duers will be brought to justice!" Yes indeed, a sad excuse for a human being with an even more pathetic repetoire of agressive bar room drunk one-liners. A fitting summation of the Presidency to date of George "dubya" Bush.

The president expressed fresh hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, saying "we've got a good chance to get it done." He welcomed efforts by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to go to the region this week and make plans for a conference to help develop a Palestinian state.

Comment: In one of the most incisive and detailed analyses of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, George condenses the issues as "we've got a good chance to get 'er done". When asked to expand on his comment and just what it was that he planned to "get done" in the Middle East, Bush quickly excused himself saying that the he to go and talk to barney.

Bush said he favored diplomatic approaches rather than regime changes in Iran and North Korea, two nations that the United States have troubling nuclear programs. He said diplomacy "must be the first choice, always the first choice of an administration trying to solve an issue of … nuclear armament."

Comment: Indeed, and wasn't Iraq a shining example of such "diplomacy". No WMDs? Well, that's the dimplomacy out of the way, let's invade!

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US Accuses Israel Of Spying On Washington Again

By Barbara Ferguson
Arab News
12-18-4

WASHINGTON, 17 December 2004 — For the second time in four months, the US has accused Israel of spying against Washington. This week, the FBI charged the Israeli Defense Ministry of industrial espionage, and accused it’s defense officials of trying to access US top secret technological and intelligence data.

Washington allegedly is so furious over the spying allegations that it has demanded the resignation of Amos Yaron, director general of Israel’s Defense Ministry, according several news sources.

The report comes just days after the FBI raided the pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC, in Washington and interrogated AIPAC officials, resulting in four of AIPAC’s top officials being subpoenaed by a federal grand jury. The US has accused a Defense Department analyst, Lawrence Franklin, of passing classified US information on Iran to Israel.

Additionally, FBI officials say that Israeli officials who visited US military sites have tried to steal confidential US technology information. FBI agents have interrogated a number of Israeli officials over the past few months, including IDF officers, diplomats, and military industry officials.

Israel has called the US accusations that Tel Aviv’s defense officials were engaged in industrial espionage “a misunderstanding based on chutzpah and general nosiness,” according to yesterday’s Jerusalem Post.

“High-ranking political sources in Israel reiterated that all the tension is the result of cultural differences, such as the Israeli practice of cutting corners or pressuring officials to give up information. The Americans interpret these in a completely different way, they said,” notes the Post.

Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee denied Israel was involved in industrial or any other kind of espionage in the United States.

“There is no Israeli espionage in the US. Period,” he told Israel Army radio. “There is a lot of very good cooperation, including military and security industrial cooperation. There is also a mutual exchange of information. Both sides contribute information. Perhaps it is this to which (the Americans) are referring.”

But a US defense expert disagrees. He told Arab News yesterday the Israelis have been spying on US military systems for years - this, he said is “well-known” within the defense community. “They took our Arrow, our Patriot missile system, and a knock-off of our F-16, the Davi and made their versions of it,” said the source, who insisted on anonymity.

“The irony is that they copy our weapons and then turn around and sell them to countries where we don’t want them to go.”

“In this case, Pakistan now has a spin-off of the F-16 and is using US technology that came via Israel and China.”

“During Gulf War I, the US stationed their Patriot missiles in Israel and their experts crawled all over it. They helped themselves to whatever they could to make a similar weapon, and several of our Patriots disappeared while there,” he said.

Comment: The most interesting aspect of the above article is the comment from the US defence expert that the fact that Israel has been spying on US military systems for years is "well-known" within the defence community. This fact gives us a clear indication that Israel and its supporters in the US wield more power than members of the US government themselves. Looking back over the events of the past four years from the point of view of the "big picture", it becomes very clear that Israel is the number one suspect in the attacks of September 11th 2001. Given their stated goals in the Middel East, Israel alone had the most to gain from the 9/11 atrocity and the resulting "war on terror". Despite the much-touted "close ties" between the US and Israel, it is clear that Israel sees the US as its enemy, second only to Israel's Arab neighbours in the Middle East, and even then there may not be much to choose between them.

That this is in fact the case, is evidenced by the comments made by one of the most notorious Mossad agents of recent decades - Rafi Eitan - in an interview he gave to Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot in 1997.

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Flashback: Rafi Eitan Plotting New 9/11?

By Jeffrey Steinberg
Executive Intelligence Review
8-16-03

On July 30, United Press International intelligence correspondent
Richard Sale reported that Rafi Eitan, the Israeli spymaster who
recruited Jonathan Jay Pollard to spy against the United States, "has reemerged on American soil and is being scrutinized by the FBI.'' Sale elaborated, "According to federal law enforcsement officials, Eitan has, for the last year or so, been traveling to the United States on an Israeli passport, but using an alias.

These sources told UPI that Eitan lands at Columbus, Ohio, and then
moves about the Midwest, to cities such as Indianapolis. Eitan has
been seen and photographed in the company of `known dealers who belong to a ring dealing in the drug ecstasy,' one federal law enforcement official said.''

In a followup UPI story on Aug. 7, Sale wrote, "U.S. officials said
Eitan, at first described by former Israeli officials as being
'sidelined' and 'in mothballs' as far as Israel is concerned, has, in
fact, been brought back into government life by Sharon who is
employing him as a counter-terrorism adviser... 'We all thought he he
was in disgrace,' a federal law enforcement official said. 'We were
wrong.''

Sale quoted from a June 1997 interview with Eitan by the Israeli
newspaper Yediot Aharonot
, in which the former chief of Mossad
operations in Europe said, "I failed in the Pollard affair, just as I
failed in other
intelligence operations behind enemy lines. That is
the lot of the intelligence officer who runs complex operations.''

Note Eitan's reference to the United States as "behind enemy lines.''

A New 9/11 Plot

EIR was the first publication to report on "Dirty Rafi's'' clandestine
trips to the United States, early this year--with one very crucial
additional detail: Eitan is making these high-risk journeys, U.S. and
Israeli sources report, because he is directing plans for a major
terrorist attack on American soil--a new 9/11--to be blamed on either
Muslim or Latin American terrorists.

EIR's sources--both Israeli and American--have warned that Eitan is
putting the finishing touches on such an operation, which coincides
with Vice President Cheney's agressive promotion of the idea that the United States is facing an imminent new 9/11 attack. Cheney
launched this propaganda offensive at his July 24, 2003 speech at the
American Enterprise Institute in Washington, and he has been stumping the country, ever since, asserting an imminent terror attack.

As part of his current mission, sources report that Eitan has made two
recent trips to Mexico, and on one occasion traveled to another
location in Latin America, possibly Uruguay or Cuba (Eitan led an
Israeli "business'' delegation to Cuba several years ago).


The Feb. 13, 2003 edition of EIR's twice-weekly EIR Executive Alert
Service, under the headline "The Real Story Behind the Heightened
Terror Alert?,'' reported:

"A well-placed Israeli source has warned EIR that the Sharon gang in
Israel may be actively plotting a terrorist incident inside the United
States, to be blamed on `Islamic' terrorists, to insure that the U.S.
launches the war on Iraq before the beginning of March.

The report comes amidst heightened terror alerts in the U.S., and a
new purported `Osama Bin Laden' message, played on Tuesday [Feb. 11] on Al Jazeera, calling on Iraqis to carry out suicide bombings against American targets. As preposterous as it seems, today at the White House, Ari Fleischer was touting the tape as new `proof' of ties
between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

"The Israeli source reported, specifically, that, last week, `Dirty'
Rafi Eytan, the Sharon henchman and one-time controller of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, snuck illegally into the United States, from Canada, on a phony Canadian passport. There is a standing arrest warrant in the U.S. for Eitan, dating back to the Pollard case.


According to the source, Eitan first landed in Las Vegas, and then
traveled, on Saturday, to a still-unknown location in Ohio, which he
has used as a base of operations in previous trips to the U.S.

The source said that Eitan's mission is to set up an `Islamic'
terrorist incident, possibly involving the use of chemical or
biological agents, to drive the American population over the edge, and
drive Bush into the arms of the war party for an immediate invasion of
Iraq.

"Last year, the source had passed on information about a similar
illegal Eitan visit to the United States to EIR, and after several
months, law enforcement contacts confirmed that the Eitan travel
report was accurate.''

Bush, of course, did launch the Iraq war in March, and, sources
report, the Eitan operation was postponed, but not aborted. Now, with Cheney, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, all facing political revolts at home, over the Iraq
fiasco and, in Sharon's case, over financial fraud charges, there is
no question who would benefit from a major distraction like a new
9/11.

Comment: Just like the Israeli spy ring that was clearly involved with the 9/11 attacks, the many Israeli "art students" peddling their wares while scoping out potential targets, the bogus Israeli moving companies and the many other Israeli nationals caught in extremely suspicious circumstances in the US, Eitan too seems to be immune from prosecution in the US. What is the reason for the extent of Israeli power and influence in the US? How can they continue to carry out operations that threaten the lives and security of US citizens right under the noses of US authorities?

It seems obvious that at a very high level within the US power structure, someone has given Israel free reign to use all necessary measures to ensure that the US government never waivers in its support of the Israeli agenda.

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US up in arms over Sino-Israel ties
By Sudha Ramachandran
BANGALORE - Israel's relationship with its closest ally, the United States, seems to have hit a rough patch, with Washington apparently upset with Israel's clandestine dealings with China. The spat is not new, however. It has its roots in a decade-old issue. Old suspicions have returned. It is an explosion into the public domain of a row that has been going on for a few years.

The quarrel is over Israel's alleged concealing from Washington of an upgrade of a major weapons system it sold to China more than a decade ago. The United States claims that by upgrading the system, Israel violated its commitment not to transfer US technology to China without Washington's permission. Israel, however, insists that the upgrade was really just routine maintenance of a system that had originally been sold to China with US approval.

What appears to have propelled this simmering tension into the open is a clash of personalities. According to reports in the media, US Under Secretary of Defense Doug Feith believes that Israeli Defense Ministry director general Amos Yaron misled him on the arms sale to China. On Wednesday, Israeli media reported that Feith had demanded Yaron's resignation (the Pentagon has subsequently denied this).

This clash of personalities is a minor matter and can be sorted out. That is not the case with the underlying issue of concern to the US - Sino-Israel military cooperation.

Israel is China's second-largest arms supplier (the first being Russia). Although diplomatic relations between Israel and China were established only in 1992, military ties go back to the early 1980s. Until formal diplomatic ties were established, the military relationship was covert. Israel sold about US$4 billion worth of arms to China during the covert courtship. In the 1990s, the Sino-Israel military relationship grew rapidly. In fact, arms sales contributed to the strengthening of diplomatic engagement.

The military relationship hit a trough in 2000, however, when Israel came under pressure from the US to scrap a $250 million deal to sell China the Phalcon, an airborne radar system equipped with advanced Israeli-made aeronautics on board a Russian-made plane. Washington's argument was that providing Beijing access to the technology would upset the military balance between China and Taiwan and threaten US interests in the region. When the US Congress threatened to cut the $2.8 billion it gives Israel annually if the deal went ahead, Israel buckled and scrapped it.

For years, the US government has expressed concerns over Israel illegally transferring technology to China. During the Gulf War, the US gave Israel Patriot missiles as protection against Iraqi Scud missiles. In 1992, a US intelligence report revealed that soon after the end of the Gulf War, Israel had sold Patriot anti-missile data to China. Israel denied the intelligence report.

Washington has also alleged on several occasions that Israel violated agreements by exporting restricted US technology it buys with yearly US subsidies. This was the case with the largely US-funded Lavi fighter-plane program. Israel, the Americans believe, passed on technology to Beijing. China's F-10 fighter jet is believed to be almost identical to the Lavi.

Washington has also expressed concern from time to time that Israel's arms trade with China could result in its military technology falling into the "wrong hands" - such as Iran's, for instance. But this argument rings rather hollow considering that the US itself supplies Pakistan with high-tech weaponry, despite Pakistan's "all-weather friendship" with China and Islamabad's abysmal record on the issue of nuclear and missile proliferation and its supply of military technology and know-how to Washington's foes.

Israel's damaged reputation
Unlike previous occasions when suspicions were expressed more quietly, with the Phalcon deal the issue erupted into the open. The cancellation of the Phalcon deal damaged Israel's image and interests to a considerable extent. It eroded Israel's credibility as a weapons supplier in the international arms market and it laid bare to the world Israel's susceptibility to US pressure.

The cancellation of the Phalcon deal not surprisingly led to a chill in Sino-Israel relations. Israel subsequently forked out $350 million in compensation to China, and there were no known arms sales through 2003. Back in 2002, a deal for Israeli communication satellites was signed. Early this year, an Israeli delegation went to China for talks on rebuilding military ties. Reports suggested that Israel and China were even considering reopening the Phalcon deal.

The military relationship is important for both countries. China is keen to have access to Israel's high-quality defense products and services, and the relationship with Israel has enabled it to acquire "dual-use technology" that the US and Europe have been reluctant to provide.

Israel, which is among the world's top exporters of arms, is keen on its military ties with China for several reasons. According to Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at the Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv and consultant to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Security Council, since Israel does not sell arms to the Arab countries or Iran, it has fewer potential markets than other major players in the high-tech arms market. (However, a look at Israel's arms market over the past several decades indicates that the country has sold arms to regimes that other countries have been reluctant to trade with.)

Unlike most other arms manufacturers, Israel exports 75% of the total production of its military industries. Israel's military industry is dependent on exports for its survival. And arms sales to China are among its most lucrative businesses. Therefore, arms trade with China is very important, providing contracts for jobs as well as income to offset the high costs of maintaining Israel's technology and industrial base. Military trade has also paved the way for broader trade in other dual-use and high-tech goods. China's immense value as a trade partner for Israel's military industry is evident from Israel's engagement with China and Taiwan. In the early 1990s, Israel passed up defense deals with Taiwan so as not to damage its fledging relationship with China.

Eugene Kogan, a defense-industry analyst, writes in the Jamestown Foundation's China Brief that while Israel has rebuffed Taiwan's repeated attempts to revive relations with it, "when it comes to contact with China, the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MOD) promotes a clear-cut policy. China is an extremely important trade partner for the Israeli defense industry. As a result, the MOD, which oversees the arms trade with China, has ensured that Israel maintains a positive relationship with the PRC [People's Republic of China], while avoiding any contact with Taiwan which might disrupt this partnership."

The Israel-China military relationship also contributed to China softening its anti-Israel stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. China's policy moved from its pro-Arab tilt to a more nuanced appreciation of the Israeli position. (Chinese criticism of Israel increased markedly after the cancellation of the Phalcon deal.)

What is interesting about China's military relationship with Israel is that Beijing has been able to increase engagement with Israel without alienating the Arabs. Even Iran hasn't protested Beijing's close military ties to Israel.

Israel has much to lose by angering the Chinese. But it has more to lose by angering the US. The cost of not complying with Washington's demands could result in a cutback on the nearly $2 billion in foreign military assistance that the US provides Israel annually. It could result in political and diplomatic costs, too, for Israel. It will have to do a fine balancing act if it wants to maintain its military ties with China without provoking Washington's ire.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore, India.

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Israeli soldiers batter Palestinian child visiting his jailed brother
12/20/2004 10:00:00 PM GMT

During a family visit to his brother in Beer Sheba prison, Rasmi Jihad Oda Al-Khatib,  a resident of Fawar refugee camp to the south of Al-Khalil, was severely beaten  by the Israeli occupation soldiers.

The brutal attack left bruises all over Rasmi’s body, according to family members who accompanied him during a visit to his brother Rami, sentenced to eight years in jail.

They added that Israeli soldiers attacked Rasmi, whose left hand was paralyzed when they previously shot him in the neck.

Palestinian child injured by Israeli gunfire

Meanwhile, Israeli occupation soldiers shot a 16- year old Palestinian child last night in Halhol town to the north of Al-Khalil city.

Wisam Yasser Abdul Rahman Abu Rayyan was hit with a bullet in his chest, medical sources in Al-Khalil government hospital said, adding that the boy underwent an immediate surgery and was still under treatment
 
According to local sources, Israeli forces advanced into the town at 08.00 pm yesterday and fired live bullets and teargas canisters at Palestinian civilians.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops imposed a curfew on Beitonia to the west of Ramallah city this morning and opened fire at schoolchildren and civil servants on their way to schools and jobs.

Also last night, a ten-year-old girl was wounded by Israeli gunfire in similar attacks at Palestinian schools in the town. [...]

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Nobel Laureate compares Israel to Nazi Germany
12/20/2004 8:00:00 PM GMT

Mairead Corrigan, a British Nobel Peace Prize laureate has compared on Sunday Israel’s policy, including nuclear armament, to Nazi bellicosity during World War II. She also urged Israel to lift travel restrictions on nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu.

In 1976, Corrigan was awarded the Nobel Prize for her Northern Ireland peace campaign, in which she compared Israeli nuclear activities to Hitler’s gas chambers during world war II.

Corrigan was at the prison gates to welcome Vanunu when he was released in April after he was jailed for 18 years for disclosing information about Israel's nuclear capabilities.

During  a joint press conference with Mordechai Vanunu in West Jerusalem Sunday, Corrigan said that Israel's possession of nuclear arms was as dangerous as Nazi Germany's gas chambers.

"When I think about nuclear weapons, I've been to Auschwitz concentration camp," Maguire said.

"Nuclear weapons are only gas chambers perfected... and for a people who know what gas chambers are, how can you even think of building perfect gas chambers?"

Also during the press conference, Vanunu said that Israel persecuted him just because he converted to Christianity.

"I, as a Christian, am demanding from Israel, let me go and celebrate Christmas with my family and my friends around the world," he said. "They should give me my total freedom, I suffered 18 years in isolation in prison. They should not continue to persecute me."

Two weeks ago, Israel arrested Vanunu after he spoke to a Western news agency and described Israel’s nuclear arsenal as a real danger to the region.

Following a policy of nuclear ambiguity, Israel, backed by the U.S., neither confirms nor denies that it has nuclear arms. It has always rejected to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and continued to develop nuclear weapons.

Israeli foreign ministry officials couldn’t be reached for immediate  comment.

Previously, Israeli officials have expressed contempt at comparisons between Israel and the Nazis, who murdered 6 million Jews during World War II in an attempt to abolish all the Jews of Europe.

Israel has barred Vanunu from traveling abroad or speaking to foreigners since he was freed.

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Signature row turns up heat on Rumsfeld

Dan Glaister in Los Angeles
Monday December 20, 2004
The Guardian

Defence secretary admits machine signed Iraq condolence letters

The pressure on the beleaguered US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, intensified yesterday and threatened to taint his main supporter in Washington, George Bush.

David Hackworth, a retired US army colonel turned writer, reported that Mr Rumsfeld had used a mechanical signature writer to sign his name on letters of condolence to relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although the charge was initially denied by the Pentagon, Mr Rumsfeld issued a statement on Thursday acknowledging the practice and promising to halt it.

"While I have not individually signed each one, in the interest of ensuring expeditious contact with grieving family members, I have directed that in the future I sign each letter," Mr Rumsfeld said in the statement.

Mr Hackworth also reported allegations by relatives of deceased soldiers that letters they had received from the president had been signed by a machine.

Ted Smith, whose son Eric was one of the first 100 US soldiers to die in Iraq, told Mr Hackworth that the letter he received "from the commander-in-chief was signed with a thick, green marking pen. I thought it was stamped then and do even now. He had time for golf and the ranch but not enough to sign a decent signature with a pen for his beloved hero soldiers". [...]

Comment: What then of Bush and his "bleeding heart" speeches about the brave and valiant US troops in Iraq. Was he just pretending? Is he just a good actor? Obviously. At most there have been a dozen soldiers killed every week since the Iraq invasion began. Yet Rummy and Bush care so little about the deaths of US troops that they cannot be bothered to personally sign their names to 12 condolence letters per week. Do we really need any more evidence that the US cabinet is filled with psychopathic chicken hawks who care more about their already overflowing bank accounts than the men and women who are dying daily for their masters' megalomaniacal cravings for world conquest?

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Hungary completes troops pullout from Iraq
www.chinaview.cn 2004-12-21 10:57:18
BUDAPEST, Dec. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Hungary completed its withdrawal from Iraq as its last soldier left the war-ravaged country on Monday, said the Defense Ministry.

Hungarian soldiers are now in a temporary US base in Kuwait and will return home before Christmas, said the ministry in a statement.

Vehicles and other equipment will be transported back home nextyear, it said.

Hungary sent 300 troops to Iraq at the request of the United States in 2003 for transportation services. Their mandate expires at the end of this December.

Parliament in November rejected Prime Minister Gyurcsany Ferenc's request for an extension of the mission until March 2005 in view of Iraq's Jan. 30 general elections.

A Hungarian soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in June.

Comment: Ah, yes, remember the Coalition of the Willing?

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Iraq bombers 'linked to Iran and Syria'

By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
21 December 2004

The Iraqi authorities arrested 50 suspects yesterday in connection with the suicide bombs that killed 67 people and injured 175 in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.

Claims by the police that some of those arrested had confessed to having links with Iranian and Syrian intelligence agencies will not sound convincing to Shia Iraqis who believe that the bombings were the work of Sunni fundamentalists.

Iraqis are now beginning to ask if they are slipping towards conflict between the country's Shia and Sunni communities. Walid al-Omar, a businessman from Basra in the Shia-dominated south, said: "The feelings of each community are becoming polarised. They have not quite reached boiling point yet but they might do so in future."

The election on 30 January is deepening sectarian divisions because the Shia, who make up 60 per cent of the population but were previously denied any significant amount of power, will take part and most Sunnis say they will not.

Shia leaders have appealed for their followers not to engage in revenge attacks and, for the moment, they are being listened to by the well-armed Shia militias.

In Najaf, where an explosion tore into a funeral procession close to the shrine of Imam Ali, killing 54 people and wounding 142, the police chief, Ghalib al-Jazaari, said that those arrested included "elements" linked to Iranian and Syrian intelligence agencies. But there is no reason why those who planned the attack should have anyone in Najaf other than the suicide bomber who died in his own explosion.

Iraqi security forces have had little success in detecting the organisation behind the suicide bombers. Many Shia and Sunni Iraqis believe these bombings were carried out by Salafi or Wahabi Sunni militants who denounce all Shias as infidels. Sunni villages and towns south of Baghdad in the Latifiyah area are notorious for their sectarian bigotry.

The rubble-strewn streets of Najaf were almost empty yesterday apart from the funeral processions of those who died in the bombings on Sunday.

Iyad Allawi, the interim Prime Minister, distanced himself yesterday from the claim by his Defence Minister, Hazim al-Shalaan, that Iran and Syria were supporting the insurgents. Mr Shalaan said that they were co-operating with the al-Qa'ida group in Iraq and their leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Mr Allawi said: "The Defence Minister was talking from his own perspective. It does nor represent the government position."

Though the US and the interim government have frequently claimed that foreign fighters were leading the battle in Fallujah and other Sunni cities, there is no evidence that they are more than a marginal element. Few of the prisoners taken in Fallujah were non-Iraqi.

The election of a 275-member National Assembly on 30 January which is largely Shia and Kurdish may further alienate the Sunni Arabs and lead to more violence. There is likely to be a boycott of the polls in Sunni rural areas. In Baghdad, middle-class Sunnis may vote but in mixed areas people may be too frightened.

Ghassan Atiyyah, a writer and academic, presenting the manifesto of a non-sectarian group called the Iraqi Independence Bloc, said there was no reason why the situation should improve after the election. He said: "We have been told this many times before, such as when the interim government was formed, but things always get worse."

Comment: Strange isn' it. During over 20 years of Saddam's rule there was little or no civil strife been Shias and Sunnis, and all Iraqis enjoyed one of the highest standards of living of any country in the Middle East. Sure, Saddam created a personality cult around himself and accepted no dissent, but such tactics are par for the course in any form of government of the people, although the methodology may change, the results are always the same. Look at modern day US for example. The power over the people weilded by the Bush administration means that they can literally get away with mass murder and still count on the unquestioning support of a majority of the population. Just because Saddam was not inclined to go to extreme lengths to conceal the reality of his totalitarian rule does not mean that he should be condemned any more than those countries that make deception their core policy.

The history of the Sunni and Shia factions within Islam go right back to the beginnings of the religion itself and it is generally accepted that the differences between the two have never been significant enough to warrant any kind of civil or religious war. Despite this, there is increasing "noise" in the mainstream media about the possibility that the situation in Iraq could descend into civil war.

For many months now we have been drawing attention to the curious fact that many of the so-called "Iraqi insurgents" attacks have indiscriminately killed Iraqi civilans, and we note that, increasingly, there are attempts being made by the US and Iraqi (interim) governments to implicate Syria and Iran in these attacks.

The truth is that any talk of transforming Iraq into a just democracy is hubris and is merely designed to further convince the American and world public that the US invasion of that country was anything but an illegal resource grab and war of occupation at the behest of Israel.

Naturally then, there is no plan to return Iraq to the Iraqi people, and the continuing "insurgent" attacks in Iraq are very likely being carried out by US and Israeli-supported mercenaries who are tasked with manufacturing the "evidence" to show the world that Iraqis, and Arabs in general, simply cannot be "democratised". Furthermore such attacks allow for the claim by the US government and media that the threat of civil war is real and, unfortunately, the only solution is to break Iraq up into much more manageable "statelets".

Lets face it, "divide and conquer" has always been the MO of imperial powers.

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The Sunni Vs Shia Myth

williambowles.info
03/12/03

Much that has been written about the ‘division’ between the Sunni and Shia in Iraq is not only a total distortion of the demographics of the Iraqi population, it also feeds into the propaganda campaign of ‘divide and rule’ tactics that even opponents of the war and occupation can fall into the trap of accepting as true, including I might add, myself, when I used a ‘statistic’ gleaned from the Independent without first verifying it.

I was rapidly called to task over my (or should I say the Independent’s) numbers by a reader:

"Your reference to "the minority Sunni Muslims" and "16 million of Iraq's population of 25 million are Shias" is [a] fallacy."

He went on to say:

"To date there is not and has not been any Iraqi official record documenting the actual head count of the Sunnis and/or Shias in Iraq. The reason is that in all the Iraqi government censuses previously carried out till the fall of the last regime, there was no requirement in the census forms to specify the Muslim sect [to which a person belonged]. In fact there is no official document issued by the Iraqi governments to date that mentions the Muslim sect in it. Hence, the referenced term about the Sunni's being a minority and Shias a majority is unfounded and incorrect. Not that it matters anyway but it is worth mentioning there is a counter argument that considers the Sunnis are the majority. I recently received…research by an Iraqi scholar which proved this argument with fairly reliable figures. Needless to say, both arguments do not bear any significance whatsoever. This whole charade is also part of what you so rightly referred to in your article as [a] "massive disinformation campaign" waged by those who have ulterior political motives behind this campaign."

The writer by the way is an Iraqi citizen currently residing in the Arab Emirates. And to reinforce his point he draws attention to the role of divide and rule in the War in Lebanon and role of the so-called Christian/Moslem ‘divide’ in fomenting discord and civil war in the country that only benefitted the Israeli and US imperialists:

"[B]efore and during the Lebanese crisis (1975-1990) there was a widespread belief, [that] to a certain extent became…common knowledge, that the Christians were the majority in Lebanon. That also was a politically motivated fallacy which served its political purposes for years but was later discovered by the Lebanese themselves to be untrue as it became well known, as a matter of fact, that the Muslim population was and still is the majority."

You would think by now that the tactic of ‘divide and rule’ would have been ‘rumbled’ by most people, yet it continues to cut a swathe of death and destruction across the planet wherever the interests of Western imperialism are threatened, that ennumerating them all would fill several paragraphs.

But of course, ethnic, racial and religious differences that mean little during the ‘good times’ are easy to ignite when communities feel threatened, whether the threat is real or invented. And in any case, the ‘differences’ have been artificially maintained by the state utilising a variety of tactics and strategies.

We need only look at the current Labour government’s use of the ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘illegal immigrant’ to see the truth of the role of divide and rule, especially when significant sections of the mass media are complicit in the process, whether it’s the BBC in even talking about it as a ‘problem’ or the more rabid sections of the press intent on inflaming the passions of the most vulnerable communities in this, the 4th richest country on the planet!

And it’s the UK that is the ‘past master’ of the use of this tactic that stretches back centuries to its colonisation of Ireland, India, the slave plantations of the Caribbean, and its colonial possessions in Africa and Asia. And such tactics are varied and ingenious from the use of people from different ‘tribal’ backgrounds in the various sections of the colonial state in Nigeria (Hausa in the army and Yoruba in the civil service, or perhaps it was the other way around, or maybe it was the Ibo, it matters little) through to the importation of Asians either as indentured labour in countries as far apart as Trinidad and as merchants in Uganda or Kenya.

Look, I needn’t go on, it’s all there, in the history books, you don’t have to be rocket scientist to figure it out nor what effect it has on the development process and the autonomy of countries struggling to establish themselves after centuries of colonial domination. It’s the final fallback for imperialism in its struggle to maintain its hegemonic control of the planet and its resources.

We forget that it’s only a century or so ago that Europe too was a bunch of ‘statelets’ busy butchering each other in this or that name, whilst its rulers squandered the wealth of their empires and sacrificed the lives of their people in the name of one deity, faction or another.

It’s also fashionable these days, even for some so-called anti-colonialists to take up the cudgel of capitalism and blame the victim, when I read about ‘dependency’ and corrupt rule and ‘failed states’ etc, without looking to the crucial role of imperialism in the process. It’s the hypocrisy that pisses me off so, when I read the words of these smug, self-satisfied bastards telling me ‘I told you so, you can’t trust the natives. You need the civilised white man to sort it all out’. And this is from the ‘civilisation’ that gave us Adolf Hitler, My Lai, lynchings and Hiroshima. ‘Mississipi Goddamn!’ as Nina Simone told it.

Comment: On the subject of subtle media bias and/or ignorance; notice the following comment by Patrick Cockburn writing in yesterday's UK Independent:

"American and British officials persistently underestimate the extent to which all of Iraq is unstable. President George Bush and Tony Blair genuinely appear to believe that there are only limited trouble spots in Iraq and the rest of the country is at peace"

We wonder, has this particular reporter ever heard of the concept of a lie? Has he considered the possibility that, when Bush and Blair speak publicly about the status of the war in Iraq, they consciously choose words and phrases that convey to the public that which they want the public to think? There is in fact a more common name for such tactics - propaganda. We are left then to decide if the above reporter is simply extremely naive in making such a comment or whether he is knowingly continuing the work of messers Bush and Blair in their attempts to make fact into fiction and vice versa.

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Blix: Iraq better off under Saddam

Associated Press
Published on: 04/06/04

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Iraq is worse off now, after the U.S.-led invasion, than it was under Saddam Hussein, Hans Blix told a Danish newspaper Tuesday.

"What's positive is that Saddam and his bloody regime is gone, but when figuring out the score, the negatives weigh more," the former chief U.N. weapons inspector was quoted as saying in the daily newspaper Jyllands Posten.

"That accounts for the many casualties during the war and the many people who still die because of the terrorism the war has nourished," he said. "The war has liberated the Iraqis from Saddam, but the costs have been too great."

Blix, whose inspection team didn't make any significant weapons finds during months of searching Iraq before the war, has sharply criticized the United States and Britain for their invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein's regime.

The primary reason given for the invasion was to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction. None were found during or after the invasion.

The former Swedish foreign minister currently heads a newly created Stockholm-based independent commission on weapons of mass destruction.

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The Rise of the Amerikan Nazis Part I: Birth of Despotism
Dec 18, 2004
By Manuel Valenzuela

The rise to power of the Amerikan Nazis, and the subsequent dive into the cesspool of fascism the nation is now experiencing, was assured with the ascension to the White House of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in November 2000. Through the well-conceived, methodical fraud committed against the American people, the Amerikan Nazis were now free to unleash their devastation upon the world. They were now free to release the demons of war on humanity, destroying innocent human life, tearing flesh apart, devastating environments, endangering freedoms and rights, eviscerating democracy and decimating entire peoples and nations.

Stealing the election through the disenfranchisement, intimidation, manipulation and blatant racism against tens of thousands of Florida blacks, the Amerikan Nazis regained the seat of power and immediately began preparations for their ideologically inspired, pre-ordained world agenda of imperial hegemony, pre-emptive offensive wars, natural resource control, geopolitical military allocation, proxy wars in defense of foreign nations, corporate profit and pillage, American treasure plunder and grip on absolute power.

With the inauguration of George W. Bush in January 2001 an amalgam of corrupt, warmongering, greed-addicted, delusional, unscrupulous and ideological criminals, fascists, religious fundamentalists, profit over people capitalists and Zionist neocons fused to create the most damaging cocktail of immoral human malfeasance since similar vermin rose to power in 1930’s Europe. Thus began the reign of the Amerikan Nazis, indiscriminately escalating the momentum of Earth’s descent into the dark abyss of self-annihilation and helping steer civilization closer towards nuclear midnight .

Conceived through fraud and deceit, developed through secrecy and intimidation, secured in lies and delusions, and birthed by the horrors of 9/11, thereafter cementing a national psychosis in the American mind that has yet to dissipate, the Amerikan Nazis have thrust upon the entirety of the planet a parallel universe not seen in 70 years. Since usurping power, the Amerikan Nazis have created nothing but negative energy, retarding the existing goodness in humankind and exposing the worst in the human condition.

Misery, suffering, death, destruction, economic frailty, violence, mass murder, war crimes, fear, hatred, racism, ignorance, xenophobia, homophobia, division, perpetual war, corruption, exploitation, the bankruptcy of the nation, the pillaging of our treasure, greed, indifference and immorality have flourished since the era of the Amerikan Nazi was birthed.

They have made millions of Americans carriers of hatred, fear and racism, infecting in the American psyche a collective ignorance based on the exploitation of fundamentalist theology. They have attached lead chains on our rights, freedoms and on democracy herself. They have succeeded in dividing the nation like never before, making enemies of progressives and conservatives. They have expanded the power of the corporate world, making us the serfs of yesterday and the automatons of the future. They have turned We the People into We the Sheeple, the land of the free and the home of the brave into the land of greed and the home of the slave.

Has anything good occurred since November 2000? Has anything positive manifested itself since the coup d’etat of late 2000? Of course not. The last four years have been nothing but a steep decline into a toxic canyon, with nothing seemingly able to stop our continued fall. America is degenerating into an entity being pulled apart by its appendages, imploding right in front of our eyes. The thing to remember is that the sudden collapse has coincided with the rise of the Amerikan Nazis.

At no other time since has the security of the planet been so compromised. At no time has so much gone so wrong, from pre-emptive wars to criminal and illegal wars of invasion to the scapegoating of an entire Arab population to conflict between allies to the end of multilateralism to the rise of imperial conquest to the chess match between nations for natural resource and geopolitical possessions to the cancerous unilateralism and arrogance of Empire to the dwindling capacity of exploitative resources to the growing competition between state powers to the malignant and ever-pervasive battle of religions to the rise to power of fundamentalist extremists to the continued dumbing down, ignorance and xenophobia of the people living inside the belly of the Evil Empire to the searing world hatred and anger brewing against the Great Satan to the rise of Amerikan fascism to the ceaseless exploitation and subjugation of peoples and lands spawned by the disease called capitalism and its virus market colonialism.

Into the vortex of incalculable consequences have we entered, paralyzed and made blind to the powers of the Amerikan Nazis, captivated by their hypnotizing propaganda, seeing only individual trees in an enormous forest, ensnarled by the short-term and not wiling to accept or see a most ominous long-term. The pieces of the malice puzzle are falling into place, yet the world remains mute to the returning sands of history that have reappeared over the horizon. As if captured by fear, unable to sound the trumpets of alarm, unable to gallop our horses through fog to sound warning bells. Americans, it seems, fatefully vegetate in indifference and stupor, fatalistically determined to accept their destiny, seemingly waiting in vain for the worst possible nightmare to become reality. Before long, with continued complacency and conformism, reality will be even worse than what our subconscious dreams are able to imagine.

Like a potent concoction of flammable chemicals, the amalgamation of combustibles the planet is presently witnessing amassing throughout the globe is mixing and fizzing, bubbling and gassing, its energy growing in power, its potency becoming an uncontrollable manifestation of the human condition. Slowly it is rising, ready to explode in a massive eruption whose tremors will be felt by 6.4 billion humans. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are patiently being put together, much like in the world of 70 years ago, by human wickedness resurrected, by fascism reincarnated, by the rise of the Amerikan Nazis.

A Plague Upon the World

Like the German Nazis of old, who were ignored until they had firmly cemented their campaign of terror, their momentum as ferocious as it was unstoppable, the Amerikan Nazis are likewise being disregarded both in the United States and abroad. Their assault on the world, and the United States in particular, as good people stand idle, doing nothing, has magnified their power, their addiction to greed and their grandiose sense of self. They validate their mission as blessed by a delusional destiny endeared to all rising empires, believing all their frivolous lies, embarking on a road guided by the Almighty itself, content that its powerful yet invisible hand is assenting to the incredible levels of mass murder, suffering, destruction, violence and human wickedness their actions have spawned.

With each day that the people of the United States and the world ignore the gathering storm, the Amerikan Nazis’ confidence grows, sure of their power, bolder in their actions, steadfast in their belief that what they do is right. Their corruption of power and of self shields them away from the realities and truths of the world, the delusions of their narcissism and the bubble of their perched existence. Arrogance runs through their veins, replacing the cold-blood most were born with, allowing for greater apathy and malice. They bully dissent and other sovereign nations into submission or silent acquiescence, threatening regimes and politicians with the vast array of financial, international, military and political tools endowed to empires.

Callously they run amok, eviscerating global alliances as they please, unilaterally dictating the future course of the planet, triumphantly knowing they have the world by the collective balls. Unchallenged and unrepentant, the Amerikan Nazis now possess, through the hijacking of America , the cockpit of the most powerful nation the world has ever been witness to, holding the seat of power from where all their wickedness derives. They are using everything at their disposal to push their ideological agenda of delusion and empire building, succeeding, slowly but surely, in the destabilization of the entire world order.

They seek to crush nation-state competitors such as China , Europe and Russia , steaming ahead in a race for the ultimate prize in the geopolitical chess match: the lands and resources of central Asia . It is here where resource wars will be fought, it is here where the world’s insatiable thirst for oil will see powerful nation’s collide, for it is the next black reservoir to be exploited and tapped by a species dependent on the devil’s excrement, that black blood whose necessity curses the entire planet. The Amerikan Nazis are preemptively moving their pieces into geostrategic states, invading lands such as Iraq and Afghanistan , using them as launching pads for further military escalations, garrisons protecting newly conquered natural resources, and as watchtowers surveying rivals. The Pax Americana now has a foothold on the Middle East , a growing presence in central Asia , and a sniper scope aimed at those nations bordering Russia , such as the Ukraine , as well as those near China.


These lands are being molded to suit the Amerikan Nazi construct of Empire. Supporting emerging dictators, financing puppets, destabilizing nations, controlling pseudo-democracy and establishing crony capitalism assures the Amerikan Nazis of domination and supremacy on the global scale. Rivals are still years away from threatening the Pax Americana, yet to ensure the continued flow of oil and gas from the Eurasian land mass, for now and into the future, the Amerikan Nazis have embarked on a campaign of imperial reincarnation, retrofitting nations and peoples unlucky to live in lands infected by oil with a new breed of colonization. For the Amerikan Nazis know that he who controls the flow of energy controls the world, and to them, this is all that matters, the ultimate prize in an ever more dangerous game.

Hence, Afghanistan was invaded for its geopolitical position and its access to American controlled natural gas pipelines, thereby leading the Pax Americana into the collection of Stans littering the Caspian Sea basin. Iraq , on the other hand, was invaded for its rich oil wealth, to make extinct a threat to Israel , to control the larger Middle East and to establish offensive military bases in Eurasia , forever planting a presence signaling to rivals the seriousness of American intentions. Already in the crosshairs is Iran , another oil rich nation of vital strategic importance in Eurasia . War against it is already in the works, and the Amerikan Nazis, foaming at the mouth at the thoughts of an invaded and conquered Iran , compliant to America and Israel , see this trophy as the bounty needed for absolute hegemony in the region as well as the world.

Under the rubric of the war on terror the Amerikan Nazis have invaded two nations seen as strategic and of utmost importance in the escalating cold war between one superpower and various emerging powers, all eyeing the vast wealth available in central Asia, as well as the dwindling world supply of the one source of energy needed for continued power and growth. With a third nation already in the Amerikan Nazi crosshairs, the game of geopolitical chess will continue to unfold, making our world a much more dangerous place, our future less assured and the balance among states and peoples more polarized than ever. Humanity is today crossing the threshold of danger, and the Amerikan Nazis have made sure, through their harvesting of hatreds, divisions, animosities, violence and exploitations, through their invasions, conquests, mass murder and utter destruction of land and man, of a world less secure thanks to the mutating evil residing in the human condition that is getting ready to erupt.

And so, with reality beginning and ending with the Amerikan Nazis, seeing themselves free to alter history, create fictions, orchestrate our future and manipulate a most gullible public, the seeds are being planted for a most ominous future, full of war (what else in new?) and division and competition and violence and death and suffering. Controlling the American sheeple, molding us like easy to manipulate clay, using both the tools of government and the corporate world, they are free to achieve their most sinister policies, seeking Empire, glory and the addiction of power, failing to learn from history, failing to understand the human condition.

Nothing, it seems, besides the valiant resistance movement in Iraq , can stop their drive onwards, not even the will of the American people, whose voice no longer exists, becoming as inconsequential as the annoying buzzing of the occasional fly looking for fecal matter to sit on. It is the passivity of those residing inside the belly of the beast that sustains them, becoming the fresh and invigorating air circulating inside their lungs. It is the silent acquiescence of the masses that energizes them, becoming their lifeblood, that cold plasma flowing through their body that grants them the mandate needed to destroy democracy at home and export human wickedness abroad.

For human evil to succeed all that is needed is for good people to do nothing, and this is exactly what is happening, with America’s voices ominously submissive and silent, with Washington having become the hornet’s nest of Amerikan Nazi enterprise and operation, and with the world passively waiting for the next chess move made by warmonger leaders and delusional policymakers.

9/11, Birth of Despotism

Granted such a fortuitous commencement to their long-sought offensive with the tragic events of 9/11, the Amerikan Nazis have since exploited every single angle and opportunity of that horrific day. The new Pearl Harbor burst open a collection of colorful fireworks inside the minds of the Amerikan Nazis, now free of the populace’s free-thought and reason. Bolts from the gods of war came crashing down onto two mammoth towers, turning a once-questioning American citizenry into a militarized behemoth marching to the tunes of war, hatred and vengeance.

The land of plenty was filled with the red, white and blue, filling every street corner, every business, every car, every single inch the profiteering claws of Wal-Mart reached, transforming the United States into a nation on the path to perpetual war.

To those not mesmerized by raging nationalism, searing jingoism or blinded by the omnipresent envelopment of the flag, America after 9/11 paralleled images of Nazi Germany, with flags draping every building and every street, with rage searing and fear captivating, with an entire population’s psychology devastated, fragile, and ripe for the picking by those exploiters and criminal entities for years seeking the monstrosity that now, rather miraculous, presented itself.

The American Nazis finally had what they wanted, a cataclysmic event that transformed an entire population. They had the catalyst for war, for imperial conquest and corporate despotism. They had a new Pearl Harbor , a rather convenient excuse to begin their journey towards imperial hegemony, corporate domination, Israeli security, an American police state and an emerging fascist Empire.

For if you stop and think about it, who has benefited most from the horrific events of 9/11? Who has profited the most, whose power has increased, whose agenda has and continues to be fulfilled, whose success continues to grow, who has exploited 9/11 to further long sought goals, now able to control an entire population of nearly 300 million people, steering it in the direction of Arab hatred and perpetual war? Who profits from perpetual war, from feudal control of oil, from a schizophrenic and fear controlled populace and from a militarized, police state devoid of social programs, rights and freedoms? It certainly isn’t Arab bogeymen, who, though as smart as they might be cannot in common sense accomplish the supermen actions that are attributed to them.

The time has arrived to at the very least begin questioning the official story of 9/11, as inconceivable as it now appears, with lie built upon lie, fantasy built upon fantasy. Why do we know so little, why has so much about that day been covered up, how did 19 so-called hijackers circumvent the greatest technology, infrastructure, aerial defense and military in the history of the world, plowing in two direct strikes into two towers without so much as a hiccup from the government? Whether involved or not, whether knowing or not, the Bush administration must begin answering questions, especially when it continues to emerge that it was recklessly incompetent and criminally negligent at best and horrifically complicit at worst. What did it know, what had it been told by a cluster of foreign intelligence services in the days before 9/11, did it purposefully allow the tragedies of that day to come into fruition so that excuses could be made for already planned wars against Afghanistan and Iraq ?

In the sacrifice of 3000 souls, whether known or not, the Amerikan Nazis assured themselves of almost 300 million trance-like zombies hypnotized by fear and rage, transformed into an obedient, drone-like army of followers ready to obey the dictates of warmongers and greed addicts. It only took 3000 deaths and the destruction of two towers to mobilize the world’s most powerful nation towards war, boots marching onward, weapons pointing straight, our thirst for vengeance blinding rational thinking, our quest for Arab blood enslaving our collective brain.

In months, America was ready to unleash the next Corporate Crusade. The assembly lines manufacturing instruments of death were started, the conveyor belts spitting out America ’s indigent were warmed up, sending cannon fodder to their premature death and physical and mental maiming. For profit, for greed, for the Almighty Dollar, dropping bombs, dropping napalm, dropping depleted uranium, as usual pitting poor versus poor and young versus young, all for the ever-expanding pockets of the Establishment, all for the gluttonous appetite for destruction of the military-industrial complex and all for the conquest and usurpation of resources, land and labor by the psychopathic corporate Leviathan.

With an entire nation searing and in control, the Amerikan Nazis could do as they wished. They fed us a surplus of patriotism to make us blind. They injected nationalism into our veins to make us rabid. They created and marketed the image of a war president out of putrid fecal matter. They provided dark-skinned enemies so that we could hate and scapegoat, concocting story after story to make our blood boil. They used the media to brainwash and condition us, using government and journalist vermin to concoct lies and deceits. Somewhere, the German Nazis of the past could not be prouder.

In the months and now years after 9/11 they have exploited our fears and insecurities, our emotions and passions, our need to feel safe and protected. The tools at their disposal – corporate media and its prostitute journalists – are used to control us and our emotions, all done to better suit their particular needs, all done to make acquiescent and obedient sheep of us. If war is needed, fear is re-introduced, Arab bogeyman are said to be living under our beds, ready to terrorize, color-coded alerts are raised to breed mass schizophrenia. If excuses and reasons for war are called for, lies and deceit are used, government agencies and officials are paraded to the world with false information and bogus intelligence. They have abused our ignorance, our blind trust in government and leaders, our faith in the system.

In return, they have declared war on the American people, robbing us of rights and liberties, freedoms and democracy, reputation and morality, our treasure and our loved ones. They continue pilfering America ’s treasure, gutting social programs, destroying education and healthcare, devastating the economy, dumbing down our children, leading us down the ominous path to a police state. Billions of dollars are being stolen by their friends and cronies, their lobbyists and contributors. The military-industrial complex and the corporate Leviathan are profiting from death and destruction, suffering and violence, contributing to the mass murder of 100,000 Iraqis, 10,000 Afghanis, more than 1,200 American soldiers and the maiming in body and mind of countless more.

It has been the horrific events of 9/11, with the subsequent collective paranoia, blind patriotism, raging jingoism, fear-induced ignorance and easily-controlled thought processes of the masses that have allowed the Amerikan Nazis unfettered control over the minds of tens of millions of citizens. It was twin towers collapsing and airliners crashing that assured the Amerikan Nazis of absolute power to do as they please, without accountability and transparency, without interference or dissent, without protest or debate, without an American citizenry enraged at what is being done in its name.

Today, on the road to despotism do we find ourselves in, unable or unwilling to extricate ourselves, surrounded on all sides by malevolent men and women who, with each day that passes, take possession and control of more American minds, transforming the country into a land riddled with a complicit army of mass murdering apologizers, warmongers and torture legitimizers. Using Arab scapegoats, marketed to be feared by the ignorant, alien in culture and religion, seen as sub-human barbarians, this army of crazed purveyors of violence and suffering is extricating long held inner demons of bigotry, fear and boiling hatred. Moral values are given precedence at home, scapegoating gays and progressives, while rapes of Iraqi women are condoned, destruction is allowed, death of untold women and children is sought and the devastation of an entire culture is welcomed. Other Nazis of times past used the same techniques on other minorities to unleash hell on Earth.

This easily-controlled and manipulated army of ignorance and hypocrisy are the same millions who in a few years will claim ignorance and outrage, much like the German population at the end of World War II, for the human evil they allowed upon the lands of planet Earth. This army of Arab haters loathe simply because their government tells them to, simply because they wish it so, simply because an enemy was concocted from which to wage perpetual war against. They fear and hate because their false prophets condone such sin, because the red, white and blue demands it. Because they are ignorant they fear; because they are made to fear they hate; because they hate 100,000 innocent human beings lie dead, untold more lie maimed and psychologically destroyed, and an entire nation lies in ruins. This is the army of the American Nazis, this is the Army of Unenlightenment.

This is the danger of a dumbed-down population, of an education system being gutted even as the defense budget surpasses those of all industrialized nations, combined. This is what happens when drones are created, unthinking and unenlightened, devoid of analytical and logical thought, conditioned to believe anything and everything told them by a government for years acting as The Evil Empire. This is what happens to Empires whose people no longer are capable of rational thought, whose brain lacks the precepts to think on their own. This is what happens when a population fails to question authority, seek accountability or hold leaders responsible. This is what happens without protest, dissent and debate. This is what happens in the absence of bravery and selflessness.

If November 2000 is a date that will live in infamy, then 9/11 is the date the gates of human hell opened onto the world, releasing the demons called the Amerikan Nazis to once more wreak havoc over the lands and skies of the ever-tempestuous species called humanity.

Shaking the Foundations

Is it so hard to imagine our government and our leaders as liars, criminals and terrorists? Is it so hard to imagine that we are being led into a moral abyss whose black hole is eroding the humanity naturally endowed to us? Is it so hard to see past the lies, the deceit, the propaganda, the exploitation of our psychology, the obvious criminal elements running the government? Is it so hard to question authority, to seek accountability, to return power to the People? Is it so hard to escape the clouds of 9/11 and see, if only for a second, the incredible amount of coincidences and growing evidence pointing to complicit criminality within the Bush Administration and the neocons in the death of 3000 humans?

Our failure to question the official ‘truth’ of 9/11 arises because of our fear of knowing the truth, our uncertainty of what to do if what the government says is false. We fear knowing that perhaps our government and leaders, our policy makers and corporate elite were involved in the greatest terrorist act to ever devastate American soil, and so we meander in purposeful ignorance, unwilling to open the doors to a storm that would shake our foundations to the ground. Our ego’s refusal to believe in the criminality of the government, even if only negligent, even if criminally complicit, is the ally of the Amerikan Nazis, for it strengthens their grip on power and their confidence that they can do with us as they please.

Our mind’s defense mechanism of not wanting to stir normalcy, of refusing to ever know the truth, of never wanting to molest our normal life with the devastation of knowing what, if anything, the Bush administration, the corporate Establishment, the military-industrial complex and the neocons had to do with 9/11 and its aftermath is our own worst enemy, for to allow the Amerikan Nazis the freedom to continue their rapacious ideology is to help seal our own fates.

Our refusal to let go of years of government brainwashing, implemented in our educations and through years of ceaseless television watching, that America can do no wrong, that its leaders are the epitome of good, that our government is altruistic and honorable, that our military is only in existence for defensive purposes, that the Almighty always blesses us and no other, that our nation only helps the world, that our history is full of noble intentions, has conditioned in us an inability to ever question the legitimacy of elected leaders or the foundation of government itself.

Like a tree bountiful in fruit we must shake the branches of our existence, thinking beyond the box we have been trained never to deviate away from. We must shake the foundations of what we have been inculcated with, as well as the ego that refuses to open our eyes to a most ignoble truth. We have to let go the belief that those elected and anointed to take care of us could also be doing us harm. Our constructs must be altered, we must question authority, as well as the perceived reality implanted in our minds through years of brainwashing. Perhaps 9/11 was as they tell us, perhaps it was worse, perhaps its truth is too unbearable to pursue. Yet we must open our eyes to all possibilities, because our future depends on it. Our minds must be made clear, our voices made loud, our ears made to hear, for somewhere out there the truth of it all exists, waiting to be found by an American people ready to exorcise the demons of what was done to us on 9/11.

This the Amerikan Nazis fight to prevent, which is why it is desperately needed. Out there, somewhere, our foundations are waiting to be shaken and rattled, waking us from the nightmare wrought by the rise of the Amerikan Nazis. Out there the memories of 3000 innocent people wait to be found, finally freed to roam the great expanse of the universe, finally given the burial they have yet to fully receive. Only the truth will set them, as well as millions more living, free.

The clouds that have hovered over us since 9/11 are beginning to dissipate. Our minds are once more seeing the plethora of colors created with the birth of each new sunrise. We can see clearly once again. It is time to shake the foundations of what is known, and what is yet to be found.

Manuel Valenzuela is social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst, Internet columnist and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel now published by Authorhouse.com. A collection of essays, Beyond the Smoking Mirror: Reflections on America and Humanity, will be published in early 2005. His articles appear regularly in alternative news websites including informationclearinghouse.info. His unique style and powerful writing is read internationally and seeks to expose truths and realities confronting humanity today. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at manuel@valenzuelas.net. A collection of his work can be found visiting his archives and by searching the Internet.

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Rules bar candy from U.S. border crossings
By Cathy Mong
Dayton Daily News

HUBER HEIGHTS | Madeline (her friends call her Rose) Benoit has been receiving a holiday "goody box" containing English chocolate bars and bakery confections from her sister in St. John's, Newfoundland, since the 65-year-old left her homeland more than 40 years ago.

Not this Christmas, thanks to the Food and Drug Administration's scrutiny of food entering the country as a result of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, formulated in response to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

New FDA rules, which began to be strictly enforced in November, have caught holiday shoppers and shippers such as Benoit's sister, Stella MacDonald, 68, with questions about the regulations, which are meant to prevent contamination of the U.S. food supply by terrorists.

Benoit said MacDonald, who still lives on the island off the east coast of Canada, recently made her annual trek across the street from her home to the post office. The clerk, knowing the sisterly ritual, asked, "You got candy bars in there? You can't mail 'em."

The clerk went on to say, "You can mail home-baked items as long as you personally baked them in your own personal kitchen and they're going to be sent as a personal gift," Benoit recalled. "I thought they were joking."

Carol Heppe, FDA director, Cincinnati Division, said Benoit and MacDonald are correct.

"Any food or animal-feed product coming into the country has to have the permit number of the manufacturer," Heppe said. The FDA calls it "prior notice," and it requires about a dozen questions to be answered electronically, including "entry type and Customs and Border Protection identifier."

The notice must include the FDA product code, the lot or code number, and the FDA country of production, among other things. [...]

"We have inspectors or investigators at the U.S. mail facilities in Chicago, New York and other places. We have a lot of ways to figure out what's in that package. Those customs people are really good at knowing what's in there."

Regulations allowing homemade items to be shipped without adherence to the new regulations have Benoit stymied. She argues that those foodstuffs are the ones that could be easily tampered with.

"I don't write the laws," Heppe said. "I just enforce them."

"It's kind of ironic," Benoit said.

"When Sept. 11 happened, it's St. John's where they sent all the planes to land. Many friendships were formed. Probably some of those Newfoundlanders were sending their new-found friends goodies, and now they can't get them. I find it hard to believe."

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It's good to be da king ...

Josh Marshall
December 20, 2004

(Sam Rosenfeld on today's press conference)

The president got a tad petulant when fielding questions on Social Security. His emphatic response to any and all queries about his position on the subject was an indignant, righteous refusal to answer: “You’re not going to get me to negotiate with myself,” he repeatedly told the perplexed reporters. “I know what you’re trying to get me to do. You’re trying to get me to answer ‘Why this,’ ‘why that,’ to take positions -- don’t bother to ask me.” Rather than merely dodge the questions, Bush seemed intent on staking out an explicit, principled position in favor of dodging the question. There may have been a method to this madness above and beyond Bush’s stated explanation that “Congress writes legislation” and therefore he, as the president, shouldn’t be setting specific guidelines for a Social Security reform proposal. The president isn’t usually a big separation-of-powers, checks-and-balances kind of guy.

[Note to White House: Might be time to add a fifth stock answer.]

Comment: Josh Marshall has been following the debate on the future of the Social Security program in the US. It is clear that the Bush Administration wants to gut it, claiming that there is no money to spend on US citizens while billions of dollars are going to Haliburton and Lockheed Martin. Marshall also writes:

Administration Social Security lies round-up from yesterday's shows, from the AP (emphasis added) ...

Both Card and Snow, who appeared on "Fox News Sunday," said Social Security is beyond repair as it now stands. They said details of a plan to overhaul it remain to be worked out.

...

Asked whether Bush's ideas would remove guarantees of Social Security benefits to younger workers, Card said: "Under no one's plan will younger workers receive benefits they've been promised because the Social Security system doesn't have the financial underpinning, the foundation to support the expectations of social security 75 years from now, 50 years from now."

Straight-up lies, disinformation. I was going to say just like Iraq, but it's far more brazen since our knowledge in this case is much more certain. See this excellent post by Kevin Drum for more on the reality about Social Security's fiscal health and long-term viability.

Perhaps next there can be some effort to get the media to provide some check on demonstrably false statements made by administration spokespeople.

It is part of the Bush agenda to get rid of social security. Why? To take away even the minimal safety net by Western standards that exists. By removing any form of public support for individuals Americans, telling us that it is against their principles, that it makes people dependent upon that State, they are creating a basin of disenfranchised and impoverished youth who will be available as cannon fodder.

"Do you want a career? Three meals a day, and a warm bed? Join the army!"

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SOCIAL SECURITY AND ME

Kevin Drum
December 17, 2004
The Washington Monthly

SOCIAL SECURITY AND ME....Matt Yglesias makes an important point about Social Security framing today:

I'm not sure the older liberals who run the show quite understand how overwhelmingly important it is to keep the "there is no crisis" message front and center in the Social Security debate. Most of the young people I know -- including myself until very recently -- have been taken in by a decades-long effort on behalf of privatizers into believing that Social Security is in "crisis," and that if we do nothing the system will "go bankrupt" before we retire, meaning that the system will somehow collapse and we won't get any benefits.

This is true, and I used to be one of these people too. As a well-informed citizen, I knew that Social Security was unsustainable, that life expectancies were increasing, that fewer workers would be supporting more retirees in the future, and in general, that the program was facing a demographic timebomb that would cause it to go bankrupt within a couple of decades.

This was back in the mid-90s, and for some reason I took an interest in finding out more. So I wrote off for a copy of the trustees report, read up on tax policy and demographic projections, pored through various analyses, and — to my surprise — learned that the problem was either (a) fairly modest and quite solvable or (b) not a problem at all.

Social Security is going to get more expensive over time, but it's not going to keep getting more expensive forever. Starting in about a decade costs will go up, but then, after about 20 years, they'll flatten out. And the size of the increase, from about 4% of GDP to 6% of GDP, just isn't a crisis. What's more, when you start to study the trustees' projections, you realize that even their "intermediate" projection is pretty conservative. It's quite possible that if we leave the system completely alone it will be fine. And even if it's not, there's plenty of time to make the small tweaks necessary to keep it properly funded.

In other words, after actually studying the issue, I changed my opinion almost 180 degrees. Nothing is going bankrupt, benefits will continue to be paid forever, and future funding problems are both modest in size and not that hard to deal with.

Unfortunately, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and now George Bush, each for their own reasons, have found it politically convenient to use Social Security as a useful bogeyman for scaring the public. The difference is that, unlike me back in 1995, they all know better. It's too bad they couldn't have figured out some real problems to focus on instead.

Comment: Another answer to the propaganda that the "Social Security program needs fixing". As we don't think that this world is fixable, wa have a slightly different take on things than most people. Debate about big government vs. small or no government is not the issue for us. However, seeing the way the different factions in power, or seeking power, play with issues, that is of interest.

If the money that were being siphoned off to large corporations were recycled back into the welfare of the people, rather than going to pay for war, there wouldn't be any problem with Social Security. The same people who were vilifying Clinton over a balanced budget, and who claim to want no government, now have the US further in debt than it has ever been. So the issue was never public debt, it was how the money was spent, who it was going to pay: the taxpayer, the poor, the dispossessed, or the arms merchants, the energy firms, etc. There is always money for arms; there is never money for health care, child care, housing, public transportation, or education.

This greater indebtedness is part and parcel of their strategy: empty the coffers by diverting tax dollars to the Bush Crime Family and their accomplices, close down the parts of government that don't directly aid the corporations, and then recruit the army of the unemployed into the real army.

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Putin arrives in Germany for talks with Schroeder
www.chinaview.cn 2004-12-21 02:26:52
BERLIN, Dec. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in the northern German city of Hamburg Monday for informal meetings with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

The two leaders will witness signings of a series of major bilateral agreements on education, space exploration, youth exchange and economic cooperation while exchanging views on the political crisis in Ukraine, local media reported.

Schroeder, as a good friend of Putin, would help bring forward the relations between the European Union and Russia affected due to the disagreement on the re-run of the Ukrainian presidential election.

Putin's two-day visit had been scheduled for an earlier date but was postponed in September due to a mass hostage taking at Beslan school in southern Russia which cost some 344 lives.

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Bush promises "good relations" with Putin
www.chinaview.cn 2004-12-21 02:05:28
WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush said Monday that he will keep "good relationship" with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Addressing the end-of-year news confe rence, Bush defended his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that "The relationship's an important relationship and I would call the relationship a good relationship."

Bush said that he has talked with Putin about getting Russia admitted to the World Trade Organization.

On Iraqi issues, Bush reiterated that Iraqi elections, scheduled for Jan. 30, will be held as planned despite increasing deadly violence like twin car bombings that killed at least 64 people over the weekend.

"The elections in January are the beginning of a process and itis important for the American people to understand that," Bush said.

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100,000 Congo civilians flee fighting
Associated Press

Bukavu, Congo — About 100,000 civilians in eastern Congo have fled a week of fighting between renegade soldiers and army loyalists, hiding deep in the forest where humanitarian workers cannot reach them, UN officials said Sunday.

Battles sparked again Sunday north of Kanyabayonga, where reinforcements sent by the Kinshasa-based central government have been fighting a force largely drawn from rebels backed by neighbouring Rwanda during Congo's 1998-2002 war, said Eliane Nabaa, a UN spokeswoman.

Some 100,000 civilians are now believed to have fled the fighting since Dec. 12 in Congo's eastern region on the Rwandan border, said Rachel Leflaive, a spokeswoman for the United Nations' humanitarian operations in Congo.

Ms. Leflaive said members of the UN's 11,000-strong peacekeeping mission determined the tally of the displaced after finding all-but abandoned towns and villages along a road near Kanyabayonga.

The displaced civilians are living rough in the surrounding forest and cannot be reached by humanitarian workers, she said. Earlier aid-agency estimates said only 35,000 had fled their homes.

Congo's war drew in six nations and left more than 3 million dead, mostly from hunger and disease, according to aid-group estimates. [...]

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Earthquake rattles Kiwis
From correspondents in Wellington
19dec04

AN earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale rattled southern Hawke's Bay on New Zealand's east coast today, the Geological and Nuclear Sciences centre reported.

The quake, at a depth of 25 kilometres was recorded at 10:55am (AEDT).

No damage was reported.

It was the latest in a series of tremors to strike New Zealand in recent weeks following a 7.3 earthquake on November 23.

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Small earthquake shakes southwestern Utah
AP-WS-12-19-04 1831EST

CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) - A small earthquake rumbling in southwestern Utah caused minor damages, but no injuries.

The epicenter of the 3.6 magnitude earthquake Saturday was six miles northwest of Cedar City, the University of Utah Seismograph Station reported. [...]

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Earthquake Hits Turkish Coast
New Scotsman

A moderate earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.1, struck Turkey’s Aegean coast today, sending residents into the streets in panic and toppling the minaret of a mosque.

At least three people were injured when the quake struck and was centred in the small town of Ula, near the resort of Marmaris, the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory said. Several aftershocks followed.

It was also felt in the nearby holiday resort of Bodrum and in the Aegean port city of Izmir.

Three people were taken to hospital in Marmaris with broken legs or minor injuries sustained while trying to escape their homes.

The minaret of a mosque in the village of Akyaka, near Marmaris, crashed to the ground. The quake also caused small cracks in walls while rocks fell onto to a highway, blocking it for several hours.

Quakes are frequent in Turkey, with much of the country above the active North Anatolian fault.

Two devastating earthquakes killed about 18,000 people in north-western Turkey in 1999.

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Powerful cyclone hits Russia Maritime region
December 20 (Itar-Tass)

VLADIVOSTOK, - A powerful cyclone, originating in the Yellow Sea, hit Russia’s Maritime region on Sunday night. Heavy snowfalls were accompanied on the coast by gale-force winds.

Streets of Vladivostok are covered with a 50-centimeter-thick layer of snow, which has paralyzed transport in the regional center. The cyclone has also grounded planes, and the airport is expected to open no earlier than at 9 am, Moscow time.

Vladivostok authorities have cancelled classes at schools. Snowploughs fail to cope with piles of snow. This has been the second strong snowfall in Vladivostok this winter. Late in November, heavy snowfalls paralyzed traffic in the city for almost ten days.

Specialists at the local meteorological service told Tass that the snowfall in Vladivostok on Sunday night was the strongest in the past 80 years. A double norm of snow for December fell in the city overnight.

The cyclone continues influencing the weather in the Maritime region. Snowfalls will continue in the eastern and northern parts of the region for another 24 hours.

Meanwhile, the cyclone is now shifting towards Sakhalin, where a storm warning has been issued.

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Flash floods Kill 34 in Iran
12/19/2004 10:00:00 AM GMT

At least 34 people were killed and 43 others wounded on Sunday in flash floods caused by heavy rains in southern Iran, the Iranian Red Crescent Society said in a statement today.

The flood wrecked at least 380 houses in southern Bushehr province, leaving 4,000 people without shelter, the statement said.

The organization, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross, set up tents for those who lost their homes in the flood, and sent about 480 aid workers to the province to aide the victims.

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Old man winter blasts region
By Glenn Jeffers
Chicago Tribune staff reporter
Published December 20, 2004

Lake Michigan and cold Canadian winds merged into a two-headed monster Sunday, dropping temperatures in the Chicago area to their lowest this season and blasting parts of Indiana and Michigan with up to 22 inches of snow.

The lake-effect snowstorm hit LaPorte County, Ind., the hardest, forcing officials to declare a state of emergency and state police to close all lanes of Interstate Highway 94 around Michigan City, 60 miles east of Chicago, because the plows could not keep up with the snowfall, police said. State workers and National Guardsmen were deployed to help stranded highway travelers.

County officials pulled the plows off the roads because of whiteout conditions Sunday afternoon. [...]

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Kiteboarder dies in windstorm mishap
Archie McLean
The Edmonton Journal
December 20, 2004

Gale slams man into abandoned church

EDMONTON - A 46-year-old man was killed Sunday afternoon when winds topping 100 kilometres an hour picked up his snow kiteboard and slammed him into an abandoned church in Alberta Beach.

The accident happened just after noon on Lac St. Anne, a popular spot for kiteboarding enthusiasts year-round.

Louie St. Laurent didn't see the accident, but he saw the wind that precipitated it.

"I was actually out on the boat launch, overlooking a dark sky," he said.

"All of a sudden, I looked out on the lake, and could see kind of a rolling wall. It looked like water, but it was actually the wind."

At first, St. Laurent saw the kiteboarder moving slowly across the frozen lake, about 60 kilometres west of Edmonton.

"I thought, geez, I wonder if he'll be all right," he said.

St. Laurent and his two children didn't see the accident. They were forced inside for cover. From there, they watched signs, stray shingles and other debris fly past the window.

"It was the weirdest thing I've ever seen," he said. [...]

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Austrian Alps Avalanche Kills Two Skiers
By Associated Press
Published December 20, 2004, 11:57 AM CST

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Avalanches killed two skiers and seriously injured another Monday, and experts warned that recent storms have created unstable conditions ripe for more snow slides in Austria's Alps.

A 41-year-old American and a 39-year-old German died in an avalanche in Lech am Arlberg in the southwestern province of Vorarlberg that also critically injured the American's wife, also 41, the Austria Press Agency reported. [...]

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Dense fog across northern India kills 17
Tuesday, December 21, 2004

NEW DELHI: Dense fog wrought havoc among travellers across parts of northern India with accidents claiming 17 lives and putting air and rail travel schedules in disarray, officials said on Sunday.

At least 14 people were killed and 25 injured when a bus travelling from Nepal to the eastern Indian state of Bihar fell off a bridge into a ditch due to fog overnight, a local police official said.

Poor visibility was hampering rescue work at the site, he said.
In the Indian capital New Delhi, many international and domestic flights were delayed as dense fog enveloped the city and some other parts of northern India, a weather office official said.

“The fog blanketed New Delhi just past midnight (Saturday), affecting air and also train services,” the official said. [...]

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Peruvian bus plunges off mountain road into river gorge; 26 killed 15 injured
11:13 PM EST Dec 20

LIMA, Peru (AP) - A passenger bus careered off a mountain road into a river gorge, killing 26 people and injuring 15 others, police said Monday.

The accident occurred Sunday in the Andean jungle, 345 kilometres northeast of the capital, said Officer Juan Siu Gomez via telephone from Aguaytia, near the crash site. The cause of the accident was under investigation, he said.

The Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reported that survivors told authorities that the driver lost control of the bus in heavy rain as he was crossing a bridge spanning the Yurac River.

Bus crashes are common in Peru, where drivers frequently speed and pass vehicles along blind mountain curves.

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Bus collides head-on with truck
December 20, 2004

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - A head-on collision between a passenger bus and a truck killed 19 people and injured 34 others in northeastern Brazil, police said Monday. It was the second deadly bus crash in Brazil in two days.

The accident happened late Sunday night on a highway near the city of Canguaretama, 2,300 kilometres northeast of Sao Paulo. "The truck driver apparently lost control of his vehicle and swerved into the wrong lane, smashing into the bus coming in the opposite direction," Officer Assis Rogerio Maia of the Federal Highway Police, said by phone.

The drivers of the bus and the truck were both killed, as was the truck driver's 10-year-old son and 16 of the 50 passengers on the bus. The remaining 34 bus were rushed to a nearby hospital.

The passengers were heading home to Natal, capital of Rio Grande do Norte state, 2,450 kilometres northeast of Sao Paulo, from Caruaru where they had spent several days shopping.

On Saturday, a passenger bus carrying a group of evangelical Christians collided with a truck, killing nine people and injuring 36 others. That accident occurred on a highway near the city of Macae, 180 kilometres east of Rio de Janeiro.

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80-vehicle pileup closes I-80
The Associated Press
December 20, 2004

MERCER, Pa. -- A tractor-trailer traveling an estimated 55 mph in whiteout conditions jackknifed across Interstate 80 on Sunday, setting off a chain-reaction pileup that wrecked up to 80 vehicles.

No deaths or critical injuries were reported, but the late-morning crash blocked the westbound lanes in western Pennsylvania for more than eight hours, state police said.

State police Trooper Ted Hunt said he was attending to disabled vehicles on the side of the highway in blowing snow when he heard a truck quickly pull into the passing lane and jackknife. He said two other rigs skidded sideways, blocking both lanes, and oncoming vehicles began crashing into them.

Hunt said the truck driver who started the crash was cited for driving at an unsafe speed.

"I could hear the cars piling into each other for a good 10 minutes," Hunt, who ran into the woods to avoid the crashing cars and trucks, told The Herald of Sharon for today's editions. [...]

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