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Travel Log! The
Quantum Future Group Goes to Rennes-le-Chateau
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
Publication! 'The Wave' finally in book form!
Wave: 4 Volume Set
With a new
introduction by the author and never before published, UNEDITED sessions
and extensive previously unpublished details, at long last, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's
vastly popular series The Wave is available as a Deluxe four
book set. Each of the four volumes include all of the original illustrations
and many NEW illustrations with each copy comprising approximately 300
is an exquisitely written first-person account of Laura's initiation at
the hands of the Cassiopaeans and demonstrates the unique nature of the
Volumes 1 and 2 now!
of the Day
© 2004 Pierre-Paul
| Economic Signs of the Week
December 20, 2004
Signs Economic Commentary
| I thought we would start with a
quick run-through of the week’s US market trends. I choose to
concentrate on the US here because, the US economy is driving the
world economy at this time since the massive trade deficits, personal
debt levels and budget deficits in the United States create tremendous
demand for world goods. American consumer spending, encouraged by
the aforementioned deficits, is keeping the world economy afloat.
And, since the US bubble appears poised to burst, we can expect that
after it does, it will pull down the rest of the world’s economies
with it. Therefore we need to be specially attuned to signs of bursting
bubbles in the United States. The dependence of the world’s
economies on the excessive consumer spending of the US, is the reason
why the dollar has not completely collapsed already. No other country
could get away with the reckless economic policies that the United
States has pursued without their currency collapsing. But in this
case, the central banks of Europe and Asia do not want the dollar
to collapse since they hold so many of them. On the other hand, they
would like to slowly get rid of as many as they can without causing
a collapse in value. A tricky dilemma for them. Not that the dollar’s
collapse can be postponed indefinitely, however. And when it does
collapse, the consequences will be all the worse for having been postponed.
After a review of some key weekly stats, we will look at possible
triggers to an economic collapse, both endogenous (internal to the
working of the economy) and exogenous (external causes, things like
natural disasters, etc.).
For the week ending December 17, 2004, the Dow Jones Industrial
Average opened at 10, 543 and closed at 10, 650, ending up one percent.
The NASDAQ fell slightly from 2141 to 2135. The interest rate on
the ten-year US Treasury Bond rose from 4.14% to 4.21%. The US Dollar
as of December 19 is worth 1.33 Euros and 1.94 British Pounds. One
ounce of gold costs $441, up somewhat during the last week but below
early December’s highs of $455. What we see here is a holding
pattern with trends heading gradually in the same direction as they
have been for a while. The dollar losing value, gold and oil gaining
value, US interest rates rising, nothing out of control. Yet.
Why am I so convinced that an economic collapse is so likely? First
let’s look at the political reasons. The Bush administration’s
policies can only be explained if you conclude that they are actively
trying to collapse the dollar. However, the Bush Crime Family does
not control the world economy, the Powers That Be (PTB) do. Leaving
aside who these “powers” are, we can conclude by the
fact that they allowed the Bush Family to steal another election
that they want these policies to continue, in other words, that
they want the US economy to collapse. If they had wanted political
leadership in the US that could reassure central banks and currency
markets, they would have allowed John Kerry to win.
Here’s another political reason. The other political and
economic powers in the world, China, Russia, Europe, have no other
way of stopping the crazed imperial policies of the Bush neocons
and their Fourth Reich than economic ones. They can pull the plug
on the dollar at any time, although, as we have noted, not without
a lot of pain for their own economies. If the US showed any signs
of reacting as any sane person would to the disaster in Iraq, the
other powers of the world would work to keep the current system
in place. However, we are seeing clear signs that, instead of learning
from their mistakes, the Bush people are gearing up to invade more
countries. This at a time when the Iraq disaster is costing the
US government (officially, at least) over 100 billion dollars a
year with no end in sight. Yet they want to invade Syria and Iran,
and what reasonable person can conclude that they won’t be
that foolish? What is even more alarming is that, while official
sources claim that the federal budget deficit is reaching the $500
billion level, it may actually be worse. One former Bush insider
claims that we should add about and extra $150 billion a year to
account for various accounting tricks like off-the-books debt, raiding
of various trust funds and contingency accounts (see AlMartinRaw.com
for more on the distinction between GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting
Principles and what Al Martin calls BFLAP, or Bush Fantasy Land
The political reasons straddle the divide between endogenous and
exogenous, so let’s look at a few more internal, economic
reasons for an impending collapse. We have already mentioned the
heavy indebtedness of families in the United States. Some of this
is cultural. Having enjoyed a strong currency for its entire history
as well as an optimistic outlook, people in the United States have
always felt more comfortable with personal debt. In recent years,
however, with wages stagnating or falling in real terms, Americans
have borrowed on the one asset they have which has appreciated sharply
in value: their own houses. Re-mortaging and home equity loans have
been popular as interest rates hit 40-year lows in recent years.
More ominously, though, many families have lowered their rates even
more by taking out adjustable rate loans – not a wise thing
to do in times of historic low interest rates. Now, with the dollar
in trouble, the only way to make the dollar attractive to overseas
holders is to raise US interest rates, which the Federal Reserve
Board is now doing. Add to that the globalisers plan for sending
high tech work to India and, later, China, a plan which has been
keeping the wages of even high tech and management jobs from rising
by keeping unemployment high and we can see that it won’t
take much of an external or internal shock to kick off a wave of
foreclosures and bankruptcies that will burst the housing price
bubble in the United States.
What about external shocks? Most people are aware that global warming,
whatever the cause for it is, is here now. Even linear analysis
of what this means indicates that much more turbulent weather is
in store. Severe hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc. can be devastating
not only for millions of people’s lives but also for the insurance
industry. The insurance industry is exposed to severe weather threats
to such a degree that government bailouts would be unlikely, especially
given the precarious nature of the United States government’s
finances. Add to this large earthquakes and the types of devastation
that can be caused by meteor impacts, and disease (either natural
or bio-engineered) and it is not hard to see that the world economy
is in a precarious position. It may not even take a shock, just
a little nudge might do the trick. Then, the question becomes, do
the PTB want to gently shove the economy off the cliff? If so, why?
FBI E-Mail Refers to Presidential Order
Authorizing Inhumane Interrogation Techniques
Newly Obtained FBI Records Call Defense Department’s
Methods "Torture," Express Concerns Over "Cover-Up"
That May Leave FBI "Holding the Bag" for Abuses
NEW YORK -- A document released for the first time today by the
American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President
Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation
methods against detainees in Iraq.
Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including
a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the
Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent
Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that
abuse of detainees is being covered up.
"These documents raise grave questions about where the blame
for widespread detainee abuse ultimately rests," said ACLU
Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "Top
government officials can no longer hide from public scrutiny by
pointing the finger at a few low-ranking soldiers."
The documents were obtained after the ACLU and other public interest
organizations filed a lawsuit against the government for failing
to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The two-page e-mail that references
an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized
interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions,
the use of military dogs, and "sensory deprivation through
the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is
urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such
an order and immediately to release the order if it exists.
The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from "On Scene
Commander--Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes
that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques
that the President is said to have authorized.
Another e-mail, dated December 2003, describes an incident in which
Defense Department interrogators at Guantánamo
Bay impersonated FBI agents while using "torture techniques"
against a detainee. The e-mail concludes
"If this detainee is ever released or his story made public
in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable because
these torture techniques were done [sic] the ‘FBI’ interrogators.
The FBI will [sic] left holding the bag before the public."
The document also says that no "intelligence of a threat neutralization
nature" was garnered by the "FBI" interrogation,
and that the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF)
believes that the Defense Department’s actions have destroyed
any chance of prosecuting the detainee. The e-mail’s author
writes that he or she is documenting the incident "in order
to protect the FBI."
"The methods that the Defense Department has adopted are illegal,
immoral, and counterproductive," said ACLU staff attorney Jameel
Jaffer. "It is astounding that these methods appear to have
been adopted as a matter of policy by the highest levels of government."
The June 2004 "Urgent Report" addressed to the FBI Director
is heavily redacted. The legible portions
of the document appear to describe an account given to the FBI’s
Sacramento Field Office by an FBI agent who had "observed numerous
physical abuse incidents of Iraqi civilian detainees," including
"strangulation, beatings, [and] placement of lit cigarettes
into the detainees ear openings." The document states
that "[redacted] was providing this account to the FBI based
on his knowledge that [redacted] were engaged in a cover-up of these
The release of these documents follows a federal court order that
directed government agencies to comply with a year-old request under
the Freedom of Information Act filed by the ACLU, the Center for
Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for
Common Sense and Veterans for Peace. The New York Civil Liberties
Union is co-counsel in the case.
Other documents released by the ACLU today include:
An FBI email regarding DOD personnel impersonating FBI officials
during interrogations. The e-mail refers to a "ruse" and
notes that "all of those [techniques] used in these scenarios"
were approved by the Deputy Secretary of Defense. (Jan. 21, 2004)
Another FBI agent’s account of interrogations at Guantánamo
in which detainees were shackled hand and foot in a fetal position
on the floor. The agent states that the detainees were kept in that
position for 18 to 24 hours at a time and most had "urinated
or defacated [sic]" on themselves. On one occasion, the agent
reports having seen a detainee left in an unventilated, non-air
conditioned room at a temperature "probably well over a hundred
degrees." The agent notes: "The detainee was almost unconscious
on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently
been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night."
(Aug. 2, 2004)
An e-mail stating that an Army lawyer "worked hard to cwrite
[sic] a legal justification for the type of interrogations they
(the Army) want to conduct" at Guantánamo Bay. (Dec.
An e-mail noting the initiation of an FBI investigation into the
alleged rape of a juvenile male detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in
Iraq. (July 28, 2004)
An FBI agent’s account of an interrogation at Guantánamo
- an interrogation apparently conducted by Defense Department personnel
- in which a detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and bombarded
with loud music and strobe lights. (July 30, 2004)
The ACLU and its allies are scheduled to go to court again this
afternoon, where they will seek an order compelling the CIA to turn
over records related to an internal investigation into detainee
abuse. Although the ACLU has received more than 9,000 documents
from other agencies, the CIA refuses to confirm or deny even the
existence of many of the records that the ACLU and other plaintiffs
have requested. The CIA is reported to have
been involved in abusing detainees in Iraq and at secret CIA detention
facilities around the globe.
The lawsuit is being handled by Lawrence Lustberg and Megan Lewis
of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger
& Vecchione, P.C. Other attorneys in the case are Jaffer, Amrit
Singh and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU; Art Eisenberg and Beth Haroules
of the NYCLU; and Barbara Olshansky and Jeff Fogel of CCR.
The documents referenced above can be found at: http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/fbi.html.
More on the lawsuit can be found at: http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/.
At the University of North Carolina, three
incoming freshmen sue over a reading assignment they say offends
their Christian beliefs.
In Colorado and Indiana, a national conservative group publicizes
student allegations of left-wing bias by professors. Faculty get
hate mail and are pictured in mock "wanted" posters; at
least one college says a teacher received a death threat.
And at Columbia University in New York, a documentary film alleging
that teachers intimidate students who support Israel draws the attention
The three episodes differ in important ways, but all touch on an
issue of growing prominence on college campuses.
Traditionally, clashes over academic freedom have pitted politicians
or administrators against instructors who wanted to express their
opinions and teach as they saw fit. But increasingly,
it is students who are invoking academic freedom, claiming biased
professors are violating their right to a classroom free from indoctrination.
In many ways, the trend echoes past campus conflicts -- but turns
them around. Once, it was liberal campus activists who cited the
importance of "diversity" in pressing their agendas for
curriculum change. Now, conservatives have
adopted much of the same language in calling for a greater openness
to their viewpoints.
Similarly, academic freedom guidelines have traditionally been
cited to protect left-leaning students from punishment for disagreeing
with teachers about such issues as American neutrality before World
War II and U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Now, those same guidelines
are being invoked by conservative students who support the war in
To many professors, there's a new and deeply troubling
aspect to this latest chapter in the debate over academic freedom:
students trying to dictate what they don't want to be taught.
"Even the most contentious or disaffected of students in the
'60s or early '70s never really pressed this kind of issue,"
said Robert O'Neil, former president of the University of Virginia
and now director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection
of Free Expression.
Those behind the trend call it an antidote to the overwhelming
liberal dominance of university faculties. But
many educators, while agreeing students should never feel bullied,
worry that they just want to avoid exposure to ideas that challenge
their core beliefs -- an essential part of education.
Some also fear teachers will shy away from sensitive topics, or
fend off criticism by "balancing" their syllabuses with
opposing viewpoints, even if they represent inferior scholarship.
"Faculty retrench. They are less willing to discuss contemporary
problems and I think everyone loses out," said Joe Losco, a
professor of political science at Ball State University in Indiana
who has supported two colleagues targeted for alleged bias. "It
puts a chill in the air."
Conservatives say a chill is in order.
A recent study by Santa Clara University researcher Daniel Klein
estimated that among social science and humanities faculty members
nationwide, Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least seven to
one; in some fields it's as high as 30 to one. And in the last election,
the two employers whose workers contributed the most to Sen. John
Kerry's presidential campaign were the University of California
system and Harvard University.
Many teachers insist personal politics don't affect teaching. But
in a recent survey of students at 50 top schools by the American
Council of Trustees and Alumni, a group that has argued there is
too little intellectual diversity on campuses, 49 percent reported
at least some professors frequently commented on politics in class
even if it was outside the subject matter.
Thirty-one percent said they felt there were some courses in which
they needed to agree with a professor's political or social views
to get a good grade.
Leading the movement is the group Students for Academic Freedom,
with chapters on 135 campuses and close ties to David Horowitz,
a one-time liberal campus activist turned conservative agitator.
The group posts student complaints on its Web site about alleged
episodes of grading bias and unbalanced, anti-American propaganda
by professors -- often in classes, such as literature, in which
Instructors "need to make students aware of the spectrum of
scholarly opinion," Horowitz said. "You
can't get a good education if you're only getting half the story."
Conservatives claim they are discouraged from expressing their
views in class, and are even blackballed from graduate school slots
"I feel like (faculty) are so disconnected from students that
they do these things and they can just get away with them,"
said Kris Wampler, who recently publicly identified himself as one
of the students who sued the University of North Carolina. Now a
junior, he objected when all incoming students
were assigned to read a book about the Quran before they got to
"A lot of students feel like they're being discriminated against,"
So far, his and other efforts are having mixed
results. At UNC, the students lost their legal case, but the university
no longer uses the word "required" in describing the reading
program for incoming students (the plaintiffs' main objection).
In Colorado, conservatives withdrew a legislative proposal for
an "academic bill of rights" backed by Horowitz, but only
after state universities agreed to adopt its principles.
At Ball State, the school's provost sided with Professor George
Wolfe after a student published complaints about Wolfe's peace studies
course, but the episode has attracted local attention. Horowitz
and backers of the academic bill of rights plan to introduce it
in the Indiana legislature -- as well as in up to 20 other states.
At Columbia, anguished debate followed the screening of a film
by an advocacy group called The David Project that alleges some
faculty violate students' rights by using
the classroom as a platform for anti-Israeli political propaganda
(one Israeli student claims a professor taunted him by asking, "How
many Palestinians did you kill?"). Administrators responded
this month by setting up a new committee to investigate students
In the wider debate, both sides cite the guidelines on academic
freedom first set out in 1915 by the American Association of University
The objecting students emphasize the portion calling on teachers
to "set forth justly ... the divergent opinions of other investigators."
But many teachers note the guidelines also
say instructors need not "hide (their) own opinions under a
mountain of equivocal verbiage," and that their job is teaching
students "to think for themselves."
Horowitz believes the AAUP, which opposes his bill of rights, and
liberals in general are now the establishment and have abandoned
their commitment to real diversity and student rights.
But critics say Horowitz is pushing a political
agenda, not an academic one.
"It's often phrased in the language of academic
freedom. That's what's so strange about it," said Ellen Schrecker,
a Yeshiva University historian who has written about academic freedom
during the McCarthy area. "What they're saying is, 'We want
people to reflect our point of view."'
Horowitz's critics also insist his campaign is getting more attention
than it deserves, riling conservative bloggers but attracting little
alarm from most students. They insist even
most liberal professors give fair grades to conservative students
who work hard and support their arguments.
Often, the facts of particular cases are disputed. At
Ball State, senior Brett Mock published a detailed account accusing
Wolfe of anti-Americanism in a peace studies class and of refusing
to tolerate the view that the U.S. invasion of Iraq might have been
justified. In a telephone interview,
Wolfe vigorously disputed Mock's allegations. He provided copies
of a letter of support from other students in the class, and from
the provost saying she had found nothing wrong with the course.
Horowitz, who has also criticized Ball State's program, had little
sympathy when asked if Wolfe deserved to get hate e-mails from strangers.
"These people are such sissies,"
he said. "I get hate mail every single day. What can I do about
it? It's called the Internet."
In 2002 I asked my House colleagues
a rhetorical question with regard to the onslaught of government
growth in the post-September 11th era: Is America becoming a police
The question is no longer rhetorical. We are not yet living in
a total police state, but it is fast approaching. The seeds of future
tyranny have been sown, and many of our basic protections against
government have been undermined. The atmosphere since 2001 has permitted
Congress to create whole new departments and agencies that purport
to make us safer- always at the expense of our liberty. But security
and liberty go hand-in-hand. Members of Congress, like too many
Americans, don’t understand that a society with no constraints
on its government cannot be secure. History proves that societies
crumble when their governments become more powerful than the people
and private institutions.
Unfortunately, the new intelligence bill passed by Congress two
weeks ago moves us closer to an encroaching police state by imposing
the precursor to a full-fledged national ID card. Within two years,
every American will need a “conforming” ID to deal with
any federal agency-- including TSA at the airport.
Undoubtedly many Americans and members of Congress don’t
believe America is becoming a police state, which is reasonable
enough. They associate the phrase with highly visible symbols of
authoritarianism like military patrols, martial law, and summary
executions. But we ought to be concerned that we have laid the foundation
for tyranny by making the public more docile, more accustomed to
government bullying, and more accepting of arbitrary authority-
all in the name of security. Our love for liberty above all has
been so diminished that we tolerate intrusions into our privacy
that would have been abhorred just a few years ago. We tolerate
inconveniences and infringements upon our liberties in a manner
that reflects poorly on our great national character of rugged individualism.
American history, at least in part, is a history of people who don’t
like being told what to do. Yet we are increasingly empowering the
federal government and its agents to run our lives.
Terror, fear, and crises like 9-11 are used to achieve complacency
and obedience, especially when citizens are deluded into believing
they are still a free people. The loss of liberty, we are assured,
will be minimal, short-lived, and necessary. Many citizens believe
that once the war on terror is over, restrictions on their liberties
will be reversed. But this war is undeclared and open-ended, with
no precise enemy and no expressly stated final goal. Terrorism will
never be eradicated completely; does this mean future presidents
will assert extraordinary war powers indefinitely?
Washington DC provides a vivid illustration of what our future
might look like. Visitors to Capitol Hill encounter police barricades,
metal detectors, paramilitary officers carrying fully automatic
rifles, police dogs, ID checks, and vehicle stops. The people are
totally disarmed; only the police and criminals have guns. Surveillance
cameras are everywhere, monitoring street activity, subway travel,
parks, and federal buildings. There's not much evidence of an open
society in Washington, DC, yet most folks do not complain-- anything
goes if it's for government-provided safety and security.
After all, proponents argue, the government is doing all this to
catch the bad guys. If you don’t have anything to hide, they
ask, what are you so afraid of? The answer is that I’m afraid
of losing the last vestiges of privacy that a free society should
hold dear. I’m afraid of creating a society where the burden
is on citizens to prove their innocence, rather than on government
to prove wrongdoing. Most of all, I’m afraid of living in
a society where a subservient populace surrenders its liberties
to an all-powerful government.
It may be true that average Americans do not feel intimidated by
the encroachment of the police state. Americans remain tolerant
of what they see as mere nuisances because they have been deluded
into believing total government supervision is necessary and helpful,
and because they still enjoy a high level of material comfort. That
tolerance may wane, however, as our standard of living falls due
to spiraling debt, endless deficit spending at home and abroad,
a declining fiat dollar, inflation, higher interest rates, and failing
entitlement programs. At that point attitudes toward omnipotent
government may change, but the trend toward authoritarianism will
be difficult to reverse.
Those who believe a police state can't happen here are poor students
of history. Every government, democratic or not, is capable of tyranny.
We must understand this if we hope to remain a free people.
CHICAGO - A rare and sometimes deadly pneumonia
has hit 18 U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq, and Army medical investigators
are at a loss to explain the cause, according to a study published
In a report appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
researchers from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center said two
of the soldiers had died from the rare illness, called acute eosinophilic
pneumonia, or AEP.
No common source was found for the outbreak
that occurred between March 2003 and March 2004 among the soldiers
in Iraq. The study covered only that time period and there
was no indication whether cases have continued to show up since
The 18 victims studied ranged in age from 19 to 47 and all used
tobacco, with three-quarters recently taking up the habit. All but
one reported "significant exposure to fine airborne sand or
dust" while in Iraq.
While only 18 cases have been reported among 183,000 troops deployed
in Iraq during the time period involved, the authors said the cases
are still significant because the disease is very rare in the general
The illness was not immediately diagnosed in several victims, who
suffered fever and respiratory failure. Several had to be put on
mechanical ventilators to help them breathe and were administered
corticosteroids. Months later, a few reported continued breathing
problems or wheezing.
"Inquiries to the Iraqi health officials did not suggest that
AEP was occurring in the local population or that there has been
an unusual increase in the incidence of pneumonia of any kind during
the study period," the report said.
The report's author, Dr. Andrew Shorr, warned the illness can strike
suddenly and mimic more common ailments such as acute respiratory
distress syndrome or community pneumonia.
The report follows another battle zone study in
November that found an unexpectedly high number of U.S. soldiers
injured in the Middle East and Afghanistan had tested positive for
a rare, hard-to-treat blood infection.
Army doctors at that time said 102 soldiers were found to be infected
with the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii. The infections occurred
among soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington,
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and three other sites
between January 2002 and August.
Although it was not known where the soldiers
contracted those infections, the Army at that time said the
outbreak highlighted a need to improve infection control in military
Eighty-five of the bloodstream infections occurred among soldiers
serving in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the report said. Normally
military hospitals see only one such case every year, it added.
Who was the first high government official
to authorize use of mustard gas against rebellious Kurdish tribesmen
If your answer was Saddam Hussein's cousin, the notorious "Chemical
Ali" -- aka Ali Hassan al-Majid -- you're wrong.
The correct answer: Sainted Winston Churchill. As colonial secretary
and secretary for war and air, he authorized the RAF in the 1920s
to routinely use mustard gas against rebellious Kurdish tribesmen
in Iraq and against Pashtun tribes on British India's northwest
frontier. Iraq's U.S.-installed regime has just announced al-Majid,
one of Saddam's most brutal henchmen, will stand trial next week
for war crimes.
Al-Majid is accused of ordering the 1988 gassing of Kurds at
Halabja that killed over 5,000 civilians. He led the bloody suppression
of Iraq's Shias, killing tens of thousands. These were the same
Shias whom former U.S. president George Bush called to rebel against
Saddam's regime, then sat back and did nothing while they were
The Halabja atrocity remains murky. The CIA's
former Iraq desk chief claims Kurds who died at Halabja were killed
by cyanide gas, not nerve gas, as is generally believed.
At the time, Iraq and Iran were locked in the ferocious last
battles of their eight-year war. Halabja was caught between the
two armies that were exchanging salvos of regular and chemical
munitions. Only Iran had cyanide gas. If
the CIA official is correct, the Kurds were accidentally killed
by Iran, not Iraq.
But it's also possible al-Majid ordered an attack. Kurds in
that region had rebelled against Iraq and opened the way for invading
What's the difference between the U.S. destroying
the rebellious Iraqi city of Fallujah and Saddam destroying rebellious
Halabja? What difference does it make if you're killed by poison
gas, artillery or 2,000-pound bombs?
"Chemical Ali" was a brute of the worst kind in a regime filled
with sadists. I personally experienced the terror of Saddam's
sinister regime over 25 years, culminating in threats to hang
me as a spy.
Saddam Hussein and his entourage should face justice. But not
in political show trials just before U.S.-"guided" Iraqi elections
nor in Iraqi kangaroo courts. They should be sent to the UN's
war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where Saddam should be charged
with the greatest crime he committed -- the invasion of Iran,
which caused one million casualties.
Britain, the U.S., Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
convinced Iraq to invade Iran, then covertly supplied Saddam with
money, arms, intelligence, and advisers. Meanwhile,
Israel secretly supplied Iran with $5 billion US in American arms
and spare parts while publicly denouncing Iran for terrorism.
Up to their ears
Who supplied "Chemical Ali" with his
mustard and nerve gas? Why, the West, of course. In late
1990, I discovered four British technicians in Baghdad who told
me they had been "seconded" to Iraq by Britain's ministry of defence
and MI6 intelligence to make chemical and
biological weapons, including anthrax, Q-fever and plague, at
a secret laboratory at Salman Pak.
The Reagan administration and Thatcher government were up to
their ears in backing Iraq's aggression, apparently with the intention
to overthrow Iran's Islamic government and seize its oil. Italy,
Germany, France, South Africa, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Chile
and the USSR all aided Saddam's war effort against Iran, which
was even more a victim of naked aggression than was Kuwait in
I'd argue senior officials of those nations
that abetted Saddam's aggression against Iran and supplied him
with chemicals and gas should also stand trial with Ali and Saddam.
What an irony it is to see U.S. forces
in Iraq now behaving with much the same punitive ferocity as Saddam's
army and police -- bombing rebellious cities, arresting thousands,
terrorizing innocent civilians, torturing captives and sending
in tanks to crush resistance.
In other words, Saddamism without Saddam. A decade ago, this
column predicted that when the U.S. finally overthrew Saddam,
it would need to find a new Saddam.
Finally, let's not forget that when Saddam's regime committed
many of its worst atrocities against rebellious Kurds and Shiites,
it was still a close ally of Washington and London. The
West paid for and supplied Saddam's bullets, tanks, gas and germs.
He was our regional SOB.
Our hands are very far from clean.
The truth of what happened in Halabja had
always been hidden from the public, and many who knew exactly
what happened in this Kurdish village in the second half of March
1988 disputed the western media coverage of the story.
It is a fact that key Kurdish leaders
aided by the CIA and the Israeli
Mossad have used a wide network
of public relations companies and media outlets in the west to
manipulate and twist the truth of what happened in Kurdish Halabja
in 1988 in favour of the Kurdish political parties.
In 1993, an organisation was established in Israel called The
Kurdish Israeli Friendship League founded by a Jewish Kurd called
Moti Zaken, who originally immigrated from Zakho, Iraq, and
worked closely with the American Zionist lobby in the US.
His efforts ended in 1996 in the establishment of the Washington
Kurdish Institute, an organisation founded with the financial
help and supervision of the Zionist Mike Amitay.
Mike Amitay is the son of Morris Amitay, a long-time legislative
assistant in Congress and lobbyist for the influential American
Israeli Public Affairs Committee.
Amitay junior is an adviser to Frank Gaffney's Centre for
Security Policy and the former vice-chairman of the Jewish Institute
for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a
US-based pro-Israeli Likud advocacy outfit that specialises in
connecting US military brass to their counterparts in the Israeli
JINSA associates include Dick Cheney,
John Bolton, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle. A group
of Kurdish figures known for their connection with the Israeli
Mossad manage the Washington Kurdish Institute. Those are: Najmaldin
Karim, Omar Halmat, Birusk Tugan, Osman Baban, Asad Khailany,
Kendal Nezan, Asfandiar Shukri and Mohammad Khoshnaw.
Such organisations have devoted themselves to
championing the claims that the Iraqi army bombed Kurdish
villages with chemical agents throughout 1988.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) "at least 50,000
and possibly as many as 100,000 people, many of them women and
children, were killed out of hand between February and September
1988, the victims being Iraqi Kurds systematically put to death
in large numbers on the orders of the central government in Baghdad".
There are other champions of the genocide claim. One is Jeffrey
Goldberg, whose 18,000-word story, The Great Terror, in the 25
March 2002 issue of The New Yorker forms the basis of the US Department
of State's website on alleged Iraqi genocide.
Goldberg's story is long on lurid details; we are told, for
instance, that one woman, Hamida Mahmoud, died while nursing her
two-year-old daughter. Goldberg also follows the Human Rights
Watch formula in invoking the Nazis: "Saddam Hussein's attacks
on his own citizens mark the only time since the Holocaust that
poison gas has been used to exterminate women and children."
What Goldberg did not tell his readers about is that he has
dual Israeli/American citizenship and served in the Israeli defence
forces a few years back. Or that he purposefully ignored
the War College report, which, of course, reached quite different
The Iraqi army allegedly used chemical weapons in "40 separate
attacks on Kurdish targets" during a campaign that HRW labels as
The most prominent of these purported attacks was the March
1988 "chemical assault" on the town of Halabja, in which the number
of dead, according to Human Rights Watch "exceeds 5000".
It is known that both Iran and Iraq used chemical weapons in
their eight-year war from September 1980 to August 1988. Most
of Iraq's alleged assaults on the Kurds took place while this
war was raging, although Human Rights Watch claims the attacks
extended into September 1988.
Iraq has acknowledged using mustard gas against Iranian troops
to overwhelm the human waves tactic used by Iranians who wanted
to benefit from the fact that they outnumbered Iraqis, but has
consistently denied using chemical weapons against civilians.
The only verified Kurdish civilian deaths from chemical weapons
occurred in the Iraqi village of Halabja, near the Iran border,
are several hundred people who died from gas poisoning in
Iran overran the village and its small Iraqi garrison on 15
March 1988. The gassing took place on 16 March and onwards; who
is then responsible for the deaths - Iran or Iraq - and how large
was the death toll knowing the Iranian army was in Halabja but
never reported any deaths by chemicals?
The best evidence to answer this is a 1990 report by the Strategic
Studies Institute of the US Army War College. It
concluded that Iran, not Iraq, was the culprit in Halabja.
While the War College report acknowledges that Iraq used mustard
gas during the Halabja hostilities, it notes that mustard gas
is an incapacitating, rather than a killing agent, with a fatality
rate of only 2%, so that it could not have killed the hundreds
of known dead, much less the thousands of dead claimed by Human
According to the War College reconstruction of events, Iran
struck first taking control of the village. The Iraqis counter-attacked
using mustard gas. The Iranians then attacked again, this time
using a "blood agent" - cyanogens chloride or hydrogen cyanide
- and re-took the town, which Iran then held for several months.
Having control of the village and its grisly
dead, Iran blamed the gas deaths on the Iraqis, and the allegations
of Iraqi genocide took root via a credulous international press
and, a little later, cynical promotion of the allegations for
political purposes by the US state department and Senate.
Stephen Pelletiere, who was the CIA's senior political analyst
on Iraq throughout the Iran-Iraq war, closely studied evidences
of "genocide in Halabja" has described his group's findings:
"The great majority of the victims seen by reporters and other
observers who attended the scene were blue in their extremities.
That means that they were killed by a blood agent, probably either
cyanogens chloride or hydrogen cyanide. Iraq never used and lacked
any capacity to produce these chemicals. But the Iranians did
deploy them. Therefore the Iranians killed the Kurds."
Pelletiere's report also said that international relief organisations
that examined the Kurdish refugees in Turkey failed to discover
any gassing victims.
After 15 years of support to the allegations of HRW, the CIA
finally admitted in its report published in October 2003 that
only mustard gas and a nerve agent was used by Iraq.
The CIA now seems to be fully supporting the US Army War College
report of April 1990, as a cyanide-based blood agent that Iraq
never had, and not mustard gas or a nerve agent, killed the Kurds
who died at Halabja and which concludes that the Iranians perpetrated
that attack as a media war tactic.
Despite the doubt cast by many professionals
as well as the CIA's recent report, and after years of public
relations propaganda made for the Kurdish leaderships by the assistance
and support of the Israeli Mossad, the issue of genocide has been
marketed to the international community.
In a telephone interview with the Village Voice in 2002, Stephen
Pelletiere said: "There is to this day the belief - and I'm not
the only one who holds it - that things did not happen in Halabja
the way Goldberg wrote it.
"And it is an especially crucial issue right now. We say Saddam
is a monster, a maniac who gassed his own people, and the world
should not tolerate him. But why? Because that is the last argument
the US has for going to war with Iraq."
Professor Mohammed al-Obaidi is the spokesman for the People's
Struggle Movement (Al-Kifah al-Shabi) in Iraq, and works as a
university professor in the UK. He was born and educated in al-Adhamiyah
district in Baghdad. He is writing a book about Halabja.
A US military base in northern Iraq has
come under heavy attack, leaving at least 22 people dead and up
to 50 more wounded.
The Tuesday assault targeted a canteen used by soldiers in Forward
Operating Base Marez southwest from the city of Mosul.
In an unverified website statement,
an Iraqi group - Ansar al-Sunna - said it carried out the multiple
rocket and mortar attacks.
Aljazeera learned that 19 troops were among the dead which included
three military personnel whose nationalities were unspecified.
A defence official at the Pentagon confirmed the toll.
The US military in Iraq issued a statement which verified the
time of the noon strike, when the canteen would have been at its
most crowded, and said an investigation was under way.
Witnesses said two or three explosions hit
the camp - the biggest base in the region - and that they
saw smoke rising from around the airfield.
Major General Carter Ham, the commander of the 8,000 US troops
based in Mosul, said the dead included US soldiers, US and foreign
contractors and members of the Iraqi army.
"More than 20 have been killed and more than 60 people have been
wounded," he said, adding there was a single
BAGHDAD, Iraq — A
122mm rocket slammed into a mess tent Tuesday at a military
base near the northern city of Mosul (search), ripping through
the ceiling and spraying shrapnel as U.S. soldiers sat down to
lunch. Officials said 22 people were killed in one of the most
devastating attacks against Americans in Iraq since the start
of the war. [...]
A radical Sunni Muslim group, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, claimed
responsibility for the attack — the latest in a week of deadly
strikes across Iraq that highlighted the unwavering power of the
insurgents in the run-up to the Jan. 30 national elections.
Insurgents fired explosives
into a dining tent at a U.S. Army base in Iraq's northern city
of Mosul today, killing more than 20 people, including at least
14 U.S. soldiers and seven civilians doing work for the Pentagon
contractor Halliburton Co.
``The carnage was extensive,'' said Army Captain Phil Ludvigson,
a spokesman in Mosul, who cited the American death toll in an
interview. ``It takes some time to put together the identifications,
the remains, and to get an accurate count.'' [...]
The attackers in Mosul fired rockets
just as hundreds of soldiers sat down to eat, according
to a Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter on the scene. The newspaper
posted a photograph on its Web site taken inside the tent showing
wounded soldiers being treated. In another picture, the roof of
the tent was in shreds and sunlight streaked the smoke-filled
The force of the blasts knocked
soldiers from their seats, and a fireball reached the top of the
tent while shrapnel hit diners, according to the Times-Dispatch
report. Soldiers overturned tables to use as stretchers, carting
off the wounded. [...]
Nineteen US soldiers have been killed in
an explosion at a US military base
in Mosul, making it the worst single incident for the US military
At least three other people died and more than 60 were injured
in the attack on a dining tent at noon (0900 GMT).
The US reported a single blast at
Camp Merez, south-west of the city, which militants claimed as
a suicide attack. [...]
Lt Col Paul Hastings, a spokesman for Task Force Olympia in northern
Iraq, said it was unclear whether a mortar
or explosives had been used.
Witnesses said they heard several explosions
and saw smoke rising from the base. [...]
Send Your Feedback US warplanes have launched
air strikes on the Iraqi town of Hiyt, west of the capital, killing
six Iraqi civilians and wounding nine others.
Hospital officials said a woman and child were among
those wounded in the strikes which began on Monday night
on the Jamaiya and al-Sinai districts on the eastern edges of
the town, which lies about 170km west of Baghdad.
Aljazeera has learned that houses, shops and vehicles belonging
to civilians have been destroyed in the bombing that continued
until Tuesday morning.
US marines based in the area had no immediate comment.
Hiyt is situated in the tense Anbar province, which includes Falluja,
where US-led forces launched a major offensive last month to target
anti-American fighters. [...]
Gunmen shot dead an Iraqi nuclear scientist
today, witnesses said.
Taleb Ibrahim al-Daher was on his way to work at Diyala University
when armed men opened fire on his car as it was crossing a bridge
in Baqouba, 35 miles north-east of Baghdad.
The vehicle swerved off the bridge and fell into the Khrisan
river, witnesses said.
Al-Daher, who was a professor at the local university, was removed
from the submerged car and rushed to Baqouba hospital, where he
was pronounced dead.
MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin encouraged
the Defense Ministry on Monday to keep up production of new strategic
missile systems, a process that has been slowed in the past by
a shortage of funds.
"We cannot stop testing, the time (for production) has been
set. Please meet the schedule," Putin told a meeting of key Cabinet
ministers, according to the Interfax news agency.
"We must take real care of the Strategic Missile Troops, including
their advanced armaments, today and tomorrow."
Over each of the last few years, the Russian Strategic Missile
Forces have acquired several Topol-M missiles _ a rate many experts
consider insufficient to replace the nation's aging, Soviet-built
strategic weapons. Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, the chief of the
Strategic Missile Forces, said earlier this month that it would
take at least 10-15 years to rearm the missile forces with the
The Topol-Ms, capable of hitting targets
more than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) away, have so
far been deployed in silos. The mobile version, mounted on a heavy
off-road vehicle, is to become operational next year. [...]
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 16 - In the predawn
hours of Sept. 2, at the plant that stores
the nation's stockpile of highly enriched uranium, guards
wearing body armor and carrying loaded submachine guns were dispatched
to intercept a group of men who had apparently set off an intrusion
alarm. But the target group turned out to be a second team of
guards, who were conducting a mock attack with laser-tag equipment.
The armed guards, a "shadow force" maintained
in reserve during such drills, rushed through the dark, ready,
people involved said, to shoot at a group whom they believed were
Such a deployment is virtually unheard of, security experts
said, and had it led to a shooting, the incident could have destroyed
the ability to hold such drills, a crucial tool in determining
if the plant is adequately defended. The plant, called Y-12, is
owned by the Department of Energy but is defended by a contractor,
"For two minutes, it was mass confusion," said
one of the guards on duty that night. "People asked several times,
'Is this a drill?' Nobody would clarify."
He and another guard involved in the incident agreed to speak
only on condition of anonymity, saying they
had been threatened with firing if they spoke with outsiders about
The incident was not the only problem drill at the plant, which
is part of the Oak Ridge complex, near Knoxville. In January,
the inspector general of the Energy Department reported that during
a similar laser-tag drill at the weapons plant in 2003, the team
playing defense performed unexpectedly well. The reason, the inspector
general said, was that the defenders appeared to have gotten advance
knowledge of the attack plans, including which building would
be attacked and whether a diversionary tactic would be used.
The results were "tainted and unreliable,"
the inspector general found. [...]
A second guard involved in the Sept. 2 exercise said that from
the chatter on the radio, the guards had concluded that "it was
time to go fight." A third person involved that night, apparently
either a guard or a supervisor, submitted an anonymous letter
to the union safety officer calling the
error that sent armed guards out to chase unarmed colleagues "an
almost fatal tragedy," because the guards could have seen the
exercise players firing their laser-equipped guns, which are made
from real guns, and would have shot them. As they had trained,
the guards came at the site of the alarm from two directions,
people on duty that night said.
MIAMI -- Miami police say they used a Taser
stun gun to subdue a wheelchair-bound man who threatened them
Police say they responded to a domestic violence all at a home
where the man got into an argument with his girlfriend, then threw
a soda can at her 13-year-old daughter.
Police say the man resisted officers and threatened them.
The man's name was not released. He was taken to jail, but no
charges were immediately filed.
| Radio waves
from mobile phones do harm body cells and damage DNA, a laboratory
study has shown.
But the European Union-funded
Reflex research did not prove such changes were a risk to human
The scientists behind the study, which has not been published in
a journal, said more work was needed to see the actual effect of
the phones on health.
But the UK National Radiological Protection Board said people should
not be worried by the study's findings.
A spokesman said the study had not shown the biological
changes led to disease.
He added that even research looking at the effects of radiowaves
on cells and DNA did not consistently find evidence of damage.
This research is no reason for people to be worried
Dr Zenon Sienkiewicz, National Radiological Protection Board,
Around 1.5 billion people around the world use mobile phones.
There is an ongoing debate over their safety, with fears over potential
dangers linked to mobile phone masts and the handsets themselves.
But the UK government-commissioned Stewart report in 2000 concluded
there was no evidence of harm associated with using mobile phones.
However, the report did recommend a precautionary approach and
said children should only use mobile phones in emergencies.
The mobile phone industry maintains there is no scientific evidence
of harmful effects from electromagnetic radiation.
The four-year Reflex study, co-ordinated by the German research
group Verum, studied the effects of radiation on animal and human
cells in a laboratory.
They found that, after being exposed to electromagnetic
fields, the cells showed a significant increase in DNA damage which
could not always be repaired by the cell.
The results of this study are preliminary, not
yet published or peer reviewed and require further replication by
Mobile Operators Association spokeswoman
Damage was also seen in the next generation of cells. Mutated cells
are seen as a possible cause of cancer.
The study, which has not been published in a journal, also reported
other harmful effects on cells.
The radiation used in the study was at Specific Absorption Rate
(SAR) levels of between 0.3 and 2 watts per kilogram.
The SAR is the rate at which the body absorbs emissions from the
Most phones emit radio signals at SAR levels of between 0.5 and
Mobile phones cannot be sold to unless they fall within the SAR
of 2 watts per kg.
Franz Adlkofer, who led the Reflex study, said people should use
landlines, rather than mobiles, wherever possible.
He added: "We don't want to create a panic, but it is good
to take precautions."
He said definitive research would take another four to five years.
Other studies have suggested mobile phone radiation may have some
effect on the body, such as heating up body tissue and causing headaches
and nausea, but no study that could be independently repeated has
proved that radiation had permanent harmful effects.
'No conclusions possible'
Dr Zenon Sienkiewicz, principal scientific officer at the UK's
National Radiological Protection Board, said: "This research
is no reason for people to be worried.
"It is an interesting study, but its conclusions should not
He added: "The bottom line is that more research looking at
whether mobile phones do have a measurable effect on health is needed."
A spokeswoman for the Mobile Operators Association said: "Independent
scientific review bodies in the UK and around the world have consistently
concluded that the weight of scientific evidence to date suggests
that exposure to radiowaves from mobile phone handsets and base
stations operating within international guidelines do not cause
adverse health effects.
"The results of this study are preliminary, not yet published
or peer-reviewed and require further replication by other groups."
She added: "It is not possible to draw conclusions from this
"The authors of this unpublished study acknowledge that this
work will need to be repeated by independent laboratories."
The new supersonic Eurofighter Typhoon jet
caused an earthquake scare during a test flight today.
Tremors were felt in parts of North Wales, Merseyside and Lancashire
just after noon.
Emergency services were inundated with calls from people who
feared there had been an earthquake.
Glen Ford, a seismologist at the British Geological Society
in Edinburgh, said the tremors were caused by a “sonic boom” brought
on by the test flight.
He said: “We were exploring the possibility that there had been
an earthquake but analysis revealed this not to be the case.
“The most likely cause is a sonic boom.
“We contacted British Aerospace who confirmed they were conducting
a supersonic test on the new Eurofighter over the Irish Sea.
“This is the most likely cause of the tremors.”
The Eurofighter has a maximum speed of mach 2.0 – twice the
speed of sound, or roughly 1,500mph.
It can accelerate from standing to take-off in less than seven
seconds, and pilots have to wear special suits to protect them
against the massive g-force.
The aircraft is bristling with modern weaponry, including beyond-visual-range
and short-range air-to-air missiles, laser-guided bombs, advanced
anti-armour weapons and conventionally armed stand-off missiles.
British-built parts include the nose, cockpit, inboard flaps
and rear tail – made by British Aerospace – and the Rolls-Royce
Pilot inexperience not to blame in fatal
crash, relatives say
Investigators are still unraveling why a twin-engine Cessna 421
crashed at Centennial Airport killing three people Friday, but
relatives of one victim said pilot inexperience can be ruled out.
Nadia Barghelame, 20; Craig Markley, 72, of Fort Collins, and
Roy Crain, 60, of Michigan died when the plane they were in crashed
shortly after takeoff.
Barghelame radioed the tower and reported engine problems right
before the plane went down.
It was the second fatal crash at Centennial
Airport within one week. On Dec. 10, Paul Krysiak, of Aurora,
and James "Tuck" Presba, of Lone Tree, were killed when the plane
they were piloting crashed south of the airport just after takeoff.
The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate
the cause of that crash as well. [...]
Fierce winds, some gusting to nearly 100
miles per hour, pounded the Front Range on Monday, ripping up
roofs, snapping trees and disrupting power.
"It sounds like there's a WWF (World Wrestling Federation) match
happening on the roof," said Angela Crooks, who works in the Wells
Fargo Building in Lakewood.
Crooks said she felt her building swaying and watched as the
blinds smacked the windows.
The National Weather service issued a high-wind warning for
areas around the foothills and adjacent plains. Wind gusts were
clocked at close to 98 miles per hour at Carter Lake in Larimer
County and from 79 to 95 miles per hour in parts of Boulder County,
meteorologist Frank Cooper said. [...]
WELLINGTON, New Zealand: An earthquake
with a magnitude of 4.9 rattled part of New Zealand's South Island
on Wednesday, including the tourist town of Queenstown, the country's
Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences said.
The mid-afternoon quake was centered 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest
of the farming and tourism town of Te Anau in the Fjordland region
and was located 120 kilometers (75 miles) below the earth's surface,
Police and emergency services in the two towns had no immediate
reports of injury or damage from the quake, centered in a sparsely
populated region dominated by farms and national parks.
The same region was hit by a powerful 7.2 magnitude quake on Nov.
11 but that also caused no major damage or injury. A 7.1 magnitude
quake shook the region in August 2003.
All the quakes have been centered along the so-called Alpine fault
below South Island's southwest coast.
About 14,000 earthquakes are recorded in and around New Zealand
each year by the institute. Most are small, but between 100 and
150 are big enough to be felt by residents.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists each year visit the Fjordland
region's scenic wonders, including coastal fjords and sea life,
snowcapped mountains, glacier-scraped valleys and World Heritage-listed
A moderate earthquake jolted
Hokkaido in the predawn hours of Wednesday, the Meteorological Agency
There was no report of casualties or damage to properties, police
said. The agency did not issue a tsunami warning following the quake.
The temblor that struck at 12:34 a.m. registered 3 on the 7-point
Japanese intensity scale in Niikappu, Urakawa, the city Kushiro,
the town of Kushiro, Akkeshi, Nakashibetsu, Betsukai and Nemuro.
It also measured 2 on the Japanese scale in extensive areas including
Naganuma, Shiraoi, Shizunai, Obihiro, Toyokoro and Teshikaga.
The focus of the earthquake, which is estimated to have registered
5.8 on the open-ended Richter scale, was located about 50 kilometers
below the seabed off the Nemuro Peninsula, Meteorological Agency
Bush's wrecking tactics over climate
change follow an established pattern of self-destruction
I have a persistent mental image of US foreign policy, which haunts
me even in my sleep. The vanguard of a vast army is marching around
the globe, looking for its enemy. It sees a mass of troops in
the distance, retreating from it. It opens fire, unaware that
it is shooting its own rear.
Is this too fanciful a picture? Both Osama bin Laden and Saddam
Hussein were groomed and armed by the United States. Until the
invasion of Iraq, there were no links between the Ba'athists and
al-Qaida: now Bush's government has created the monster it claimed
to be slaying. The US army developed high-grade weaponised anthrax
in order, it said, to work out what would happen if someone else
did the same. No one else was capable of producing it: the terrorist
who launched the anthrax attacks in 2001 took it from one of the
army's laboratories. Now US researchers are preparing genetically
modified strains of smallpox on the same pretext, and with the
same likely consequences. The Pentagon's space-based weapons programme
is being developed in response to a threat which doesn't yet exist,
but which it is likely to conjure up. The US government is engaged
in a global war with itself. It is like a robin attacking its
reflection in a window.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in its assaults on the multilateral
institutions and their treaties. Listening to some of the bunkum
about the United Nations venting from Capitol Hill at the moment,
you could be forgiven for believing that the UN was a foreign
conspiracy against the United States. It was, of course, proposed
by a US president, launched in San Francisco and housed in New
York, where its headquarters remain. Its Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, characterised by Republicans as a dangerous restraint
upon American freedoms, was drafted by Franklin D Roosevelt's
widow. The US is now the only member of the UN security council
whose word is law, with the result that the UN is one of the world's
most effective instruments for the projection of American power.
The secret deals in Iraq for which the United Nations is currently
being attacked by US senators were in fact overseen by the US
government. It ensured that Saddam could evade sanctions by continuing
to sell oil to its allies in Jordan and Turkey. Republican congressmen
are calling on Kofi Annan to resign for letting this happen, apparently
unaware that it was approved in Washington to support American
strategic objectives. The US finds the monsters it seeks, as it
pecks and flutters at its own image.
So we could interpret the activities of Bush's government at
the climate talks in Buenos Aires last week as another vigorous
attempt to destroy its own interests. US economic growth depends
on the rest of the world's prosperity. The greatest long-term
threat to global prosperity is climate change, which threatens
to wreck many of America's key markets in the developing world.
Coastal cities in the US - including New York - are threatened
by rising sea levels. Florida could be hit by stronger and more
frequent hurricanes. Both farms and cities are likely to be affected
In February, a leaked report from the Pentagon revealed that
it sees global warming as far more dangerous to US interests than
terrorism. As a result of abrupt climate change, it claimed, "warfare
may again come to define human life... As the planet's carrying
capacity shrinks, an ancient pattern re-emerges: the eruption
of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies."
The nuclear powers are likely to invade each other's territories
as they scramble for diminishing resources.
So how does George Bush respond to this? "Bring it on." The
meeting in Buenos Aires was supposed to work out what the world
should do about climate change when the Kyoto protocol expires
in 2012. Most of the world's governments want the protocol to
be replaced by a new, tougher agreement. But the Bush administration
has been seeking to ensure both that the original agreement is
scrapped, and that nothing is developed to replace it.
"No one can say with any certainty," Bush asserts, "what constitutes
a dangerous level of warming, and therefore what level must be
avoided." As we don't know how bad it is going to be, he suggests,
we shouldn't take costly steps to prevent it. Now read that statement
again and substitute "terrorism" for "warming". When anticipating
possible terrorist attacks, the US administration, or so it claims,
prepares for the worst. When anticipating the impacts of climate
change, it prepares for the best. The "precautionary principle"
is applied so enthusiastically to matters of national security
that it now threatens American civil liberties. But it is rejected
altogether when discussing the environment.
The Kyoto protocol is flawed, the Bush team says, because countries
such as China and India are currently exempted from cutting their
emissions. But instead of helping to design a treaty that would
eventually bring them in, the US teamed up with them in Buenos
Aires to try to sink all international cooperation. It even supported
Saudi Arabia's demand that oil-producing countries should be compensated
for any decline in the market caused by carbon cuts.
The result is that the talks very nearly collapsed. On Saturday,
36 hours after they were due to have ended, and while workmen
were dismantling the rooms in which the delegates were sitting,
the other countries managed to salvage the barest ghost of an
agreement. The US permitted them to hold an informal meeting in
May, during which "any negotiation leading to new commitments"
is forbidden. According to the head of the US delegation, the
time to decide what happens after 2012 is "in 2012". It's like
saying that the time to decide what to do about homeland security
is when the plane is flying into the tower.
Wrecking these talks is pretty good work for a country which,
as it refuses to ratify the protocol, doesn't even have negotiating
rights. But this is now familiar practice. The US tried to sink
the biosafety protocol in 1999, even though, as it hadn't signed,
it wasn't bound by it. It sought to trash the 2002 Earth Summit,
though Bush failed to attend. This isn't, as some people suggest,
isolationism. It is a thorough and sustained engagement, whose
purpose is to prevent the world's most pressing problems from
And the result, of course, is that the catastrophe described
by the Pentagon is now more likely to happen. The US has just
spent millions of dollars in Buenos Aires undermining its own
peace and prosperity. Of course we know that its delegation was
representing the interests of the corporations, not the people,
and that what's bad for America is good for Exxon. But this does
not detract from the sheer, self-immolating stupidity of its position.
The US has every right to beat itself up. But unfortunately,
while chasing itself around the world, it tramples everyone else.
I know that appealing to George Bush's intelligence isn't likely
to take us very far, but surely there's someone in that administration
who can see what a monkey he's making of America.
| US president
George W Bush has pledged to introduce a "tough" federal
budget next February in a bid to halve the country's deficit in five
The US budget and its trade deficit are both deep
in the red, helping to push the dollar to lows against the euro
and fuelling fears about the economy.
Mr Bush indicated there would be "strict discipline"
on non-defence spending in the budget.
The vow to cut the deficit had been one of his re-election declarations.
The federal budget deficit hit a record $412bn (£211.6bn)
in the 12 months to 30 September and $377bn in the previous year.
"We will submit a budget that fits the times,"
Mr Bush said.
"It will provide every tool and resource
to the military, will protect the homeland, and meet other priorities
of the government."
The US has said it is committed to a strong dollar.
But the dollar's weakness has hit European and Asian exporters
and lead to calls for US intervention to boost the currency.
Mr Bush, however, has said the best way to halt the dollar's slide
is to deal with the US deficit.
"It's a budget that I think will send the right signal to
the financial markets and to those concerned about our short-term
deficits," Mr Bush added.
"As well, we've got to deal with the long-term deficit issues."
SHARPSBURG, Maryland (AP) --
Male fish that are growing eggs have been
found in the Potomac River near Sharpsburg, a sign that a little-understood
type of pollution is spreading downstream from West Virginia, a
federal scientist says.
The so-called intersex abnormality may be caused
by pollutants from sewage plants, feedlots and factories that can
interfere with animals' hormone systems, The Washington Post
Nine male smallmouth bass taken from the Potomac near Sharpsburg,
about 60 miles upstream from Washington, were found to have developed
eggs inside their sex organs, said Vicki S. Blazer, a scientist
overseeing the research for the U.S. Geological Survey.
Authorities say the problems are likely related to a class of pollutants
called endocrine disruptors, which short-circuit animals' natural
systems of hormone chemical messages.
Officials are awaiting the results of water-quality testing that
might point to a specific chemical behind the fish problems, Blazer
"It certainly indicates something's going on," Blazer
said of the new findings in Maryland. "But what, we don't know."
The Potomac River is the main source of drinking
water for the Washington metropolitan area and many upstream communities.
It provides about 75 percent of the water supply to the 3.6 million
residents of Washington and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
Blazer, who works at a federal fish lab in Leetown, West Virginia.,
said she found the latest abnormalities last week while examining
tissues from fish taken from the river near Sharpsburg.
The same symptoms had previously been found about 170 miles upstream,
in the South Branch of the Potomac in Hardy County, West Virginia.
Blazer and other scientists discovered the problem there last year
while investigating a rash of mass fish deaths.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers are seeking money for
a much larger study across the Potomac watershed.
Endocrine disruptors comprise a vast universe
of pollutants capable of driving a hormone system haywire. Some
are hormones themselves -- such as human estrogen from women taking
birth-control pills or animal hormones washed downstream with manure
-- that can pass through sewage plants untouched.
In Hardy County, officials were especially concerned about chicken
waste from poultry farms.
Others endocrine disruptors are hormone "mimics" -- industrial
chemicals or factory byproducts which confuse the body because they
are chemically similar to natural hormones.
These pollutants are often found in very low concentrations, so
until recently no equipment could detect them. But the first nationwide
survey, in 1999 and 2000, found hormones in about 37 percent of
Many scientists are concerned that people, as well as other animals,
might be affected. "It's not good news
that there's something that feminizes male fish in your water,"
said Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources
But the Environmental Protection Agency has not set standards for
many of these pollutants. Because of this, many drinking-water plants
make no special efforts to remove them.
Authorities in West Virginia are investigating whether there is
a link to higher rates of certain cancers in people there.
A recent survey of cancer in Hardy County, where
some residents get drinking water from the South Branch, found rates
of cancer of the liver, gallbladder, ovaries and uterus that were
higher than the state average. All four cancers can in some cases
grow faster in the presence of estrogen or chemicals that mimic
it, cancer experts said.
"It is at least theoretically possible
that those two concepts are worth thinking about side-by-side,"
said Alan Ducatman, chairman of the Department of Community Medicine
at West Virginia University.
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