Translations from other sites
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and extensive previously unpublished details, at long last, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's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
|On Beating a Dead Horse
December 30, 2004
Every now and then, we at Signs
of the Times try to spice up the day's news a bit. Sometimes
we will take a brief break from reporting on the actions of the
Neocons and Zionists as a change of pace for both our readers and
ourselves. Nevertheless, the following day's page will once again
focus on reports and analyses of the latest moves by the US and
Israel on the grand chess board.
On a fairly regular basis, we receive e-mails from various readers
wondering or complaining about our repeated coverage of Bush and
his gang, the war on terror, Sharon, and the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. We are asked questions like: Why can't we see the bigger
picture? Why are we obsessed with Bush and Sharon? Where's the love
and light? What about the higher perspective?
We are even accused of being Democrats, liberals, French, anti-American
pigs, cowards, and numerous other insults that are not quite fit
to print. One might think that receiving such scathing comments
would cause us to feel disheartened. While some of the e-mails may
give us pause on an "off" day, we quickly remind ourselves
and each other that the people who are sending such messages are
the exact reason why we continue to make the Signs page. Emotionally
charged propaganda rules our world.
But we are not the bricklayers in the ongoing construction of some
sort of Fortress of Truth; in fact, we are simply attempting to
pass along sturdy stones to whomever chooses to read Signs
of the Times. Each individual then has an opportunity to See
that they have a choice: build a house out of the lies and propaganda
made of straw, or build a house made of stone that will be more
able to weather the coming superstorms - and resist the Big Bad
Wolves whose only desire seems to be the acquisition and utilisation
of power to manipulate and control others.
As we were saying, emotionally charged propaganda and disinformation
rules our world. A case in point is the accusation that we are French.
Given that France is arguably one of the most beautiful countries
on the planet, with friendly people, haute cuisine, fine wines,
and what seems to be an abnormally large dose of rational thought,
we certainly have to question the campaign of freedom fries and
French-bashing in the US. It is pretty standard procedure in the
US when defaming another country to claim that the "other"
is anti-American based on zero facts, when the truth is that it
is those doing the bashing that are "anti-everything else".
So, just how exactly does the sort of brainwashing occurring in
countries like the US work? How is it that the facts can be so easily
and blatantly ignored by so many people, and replaced by irrational
anger and hatred of the "other"? For a potential answer,
we turn to a recent holiday celebrated in many parts of the world:
Christmas, we are told, is about celebrating the birth of Jesus
Christ, the only son of god who became man in order to die and thereby
forgive all of our sins and so on and so forth. Thus, the Christmas
holiday is one in which we celebrate the birth of the Son of Man
by spreading warmth and compassion over the land by eating, buying
each other stuff, and generally hoping that others will buy us good
stuff as well. Christmas has certainly become rather commercialised;
yet everyone convinces themselves that they are chock full of Christmas
Cheer. Many people even become severely depressed around the holiday
season, because they do not have a family with whom they can share
the special day.
And yet, it seems that most people are NOT filled with warmth,
glad-tidings, joy, etc. around the holiday season. Most people seem
to be filled with programmed responses that they misinterpret as
all these positive feelings. How many times have we all sat around
with our families and talked about all the chaos and misery of past
family gatherings, only to conclude with, "Well, that was a
nice Christmas Eve." Years later, only the final "joyful"
conclusion was accepted as the reality of that particular holiday,
even though the horrid details were still there in each of our memory
Perhaps we have a clue here as to just how the "system"
in the US works. The facts of our Christmases past become less important
than the final, emotionally charged conclusion about how wonderful
the experiences were. In effect, something as simple as a holiday
can lay down a circuit in our minds - from a very young
age - that causes us to disregard the facts in favor of a powerful
emotional response. Think about the irrationality of a magical bearded
fat man who is able to climb down tiny chimneys and leave presents,
bringing "joy" to millions of children the world over.
Parents lie to their children to make them "happy". How
hard is it, then, for a group like the Neocons to activate this
circuit to control the masses?
Take Iraq, for example. First, Saddam had WMD's and the US government
knew where they were. Then he might have WMD's. After that, Saddam
certainly had plans to create WMD's. Now, Saddam is a bad man. The
fact that Bush and his Neocon pals lied so many times is irrelevant
in the minds of many Americans. Why? Perhaps because US leaders
repeatedly stated that Saddam was a threat to the world after presenting
the latest reason for the invasion of Iraq. How many times have
we heard the phrases "a threat to freedom" or "a
threat to democracy"? The word "threat" will forever
be associated with the horror of 9/11 in the minds of most Americans.
The words of the Neocons inspire a fear that overrides rational
thought in the same manner that words like "Christmas"
are associated with feeling "joy" and "the spirit
In the end, the results are the same: a less-than-pleasant - though
accurate - perception of reality is replaced by a rose-colored "memory"
reinforced by powerful emotions. And yet, the facts remain. Anyone
who objectively reexamines recent memories would remember that the
reason for the invasion of Iraq changed several times. Thus, the
"Evil Magician" does not cast a spell to make us forget;
he teaches us to choose to cast spells on ourselves.
Returning to the questions that readers have often posed: Why can't
we see the bigger picture? Why are we obsessed with Bush and Sharon?
Where's the love and light? What about the higher perspective?
Perhaps it is more clear now why we must constantly return to the
same issues on the Signs page. Not only do the topics of Neocon
and Zionist efforts in our world remain important to citizens all
over the globe - and therefore Seeing them for what they are is
essential - but our analyses and insights into those efforts will
change over time. Consideration of simple programs that we each
run around the holidays has shed a bit of new light on the mechanisms
behind the deception. Even old news stories, when viewed in light
of new information, can reveal previously hidden clues that help
us to better discern the truth. As such, researching and re-researching
these topics is never "boring" or "just more of the
same" if we are paying attention to objective reality left
and right. One can't beat a dead horse, because the horse is never
dead as long as our world still exists. In The Sufi Path of
Knowledge, William Chittick writes:
Perfect man alone is able to see all things in their proper places.
He is the divine sage who has so thoroughly assimilated the Scale
of the Law that he witnesses through his very nature the correct
relationships among things. This discernment
of relationships is the most difficult of all human tasks, because
of the intrinsic ambiguity of existence.
There is no absolute point of reference to which man can cling,
since "None knows God but God." Instead there are numerous
"relatively absolute" standpoints in respect of which
knowledge can be acquired. But some of these
may lead to felicity, and some may not.
Ibn al-'Arabi's deconstruction of all
doctrinal absolutes must be grasped from the outset, or one will
be tempted to provide a definitive statement of "what Ibn
al-'Arabi believes" without defining his standpoint on the
question at issue. [...]
Every formulation which attempts to describe the real must assume
a delimited, defined, and relative standpoint. What is accepted
from one point of view may have to be denied from a second point
of view. The Essence alone is absolutely Real, but the essence
is forever beyond our grasp or understanding. Each standpoint
in respect of which God and the cosmos are perceived becomes a
"relative absolute" or a "presence" (hadra)
from which certain conclusions can be drawn, conclusions which
will be valid for that point of view. But Ibn al-'Arabi is constantly
changing his points of view, as is clearly indicated by the structure
of many of his works, the Fusus in particular. Each of the divine
wisdoms incarnated in each of the twenty-seven prophets speaks
in a unique language, thus throwing new light on the self-revelation
of the Unknown. Each revelation provides
a unique way of looking upon God and the cosmos.
Indeed, discerning the correct relationships among things in this
world is an incredibly difficult task. Regarding the idea of "relative
absolute standpoints," it is here where we place the idea of
embracing either the entropic principle or the creative principle.
Both principles are equally valid. There is no "morally right"
or "morally wrong" label attached to either principle.
Bush certainly believes that his conclusions regarding the war on
terror and the clampdown on civil liberties are correct, but they
are based on his point of view - which is itself based on lies and
manipulating others. It is in choosing to align with one principle
that we may decide our fate: Do we choose felicity in the form of
knowledge, or do we decide upon the lies and half-truths of the
self-serving entropic path? Each of us is certainly free to choose
for ourselves - but only if we are aware that the choice
even exists in the first place. A good many Americans who support
Bush's empire are not bad people; they may simply be unaware that
a choice for something different exists.
And so we continue to produce the Signs
page each day, often returning to the same important issues from
subtly different perspectives. Learning to See the subtle differences
can be a powerful tool in our individual work to purge ourselves
of the effects of the control system.
Perhaps some day we will experience the joy that we had convinced
ourselves we were experiencing around the holidays. With continued
effort, maybe we can get to the point of experiencing a certain
joy based not on illusions, but on an understanding of objective
reality. We must also consider that if our previous idea of "joy"
was based on illusion, true joy does not match the standard definition
we would normally assign to the word.
| A meteorite weighing at least 16
kilograms has hit a house in the southeast of Iran, the state news
agency IRNA reported on Thursday.
According to local police official Mohammad Arab, the sparkling
crystalline rock hit a home in Saravan in Sistan-Baluchestan province.
No injuries or serious damage were reported.
The report said most of the meteor had already been broken up and
taken away by local people before police arrived at the scene.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (CNN) --
The death toll from Sunday's tsunamis has jumped sharply to over
116,000 after Indonesia reported nearly 80,000 people were killed
in that country alone.
On May 22, 2003, the United Nations
Security Council passed resolution 1483 finally lifting the 12-year
embargo on Iraq. The United Nations had imposed a comprehensive
ban on trade with Iraq on August 6, 1990, under resolution 661,
amounting to a complete siege on the country. The embargo was then
enforced by a military land, air, and sea blockade. This blockade
continued until the end of the recent 2003 war, with land border
checkpoints in Jordan, naval interdiction of ships, and no-fly zones
imposed in the north and south of the country.
After the imposition of the embargo, a devastating bombing campaign
against Iraq in 1991 destroyed the country's civilian infrastructure
(water, sewage, and electrical power infrastructure, among other
sectors). Much of the diseases rampant in Iraq are due to the destruction
of the civilian infrastructure and lack of spare parts in the 1991
war. Some of which was modestly repaired between 1991 and 2003,
was destroyed again in the 2003 war. Contaminated drinking water
and lack of electricity for hospitals are a major cause of the suffering
for Iraq’s twenty five million people today.
In addition, the depleted uranium (DU) shells used in both the
1991 and 2003 wars have caused a significant increase in radiation-related
cancers and birth defects. Iraq still does not have the necessary
tools (primarily due to the embargo) to clean up the DU contamination.
What Was Destroyed in War
The 2003 war can only be a continuation of what happened in 1991,
since the 12-year embargo did not allow the rebuilding of what was
destroyed then. The 1991 war destroyed or severely damaged the following
sectors of the civilian infrastructure, and the 12-year embargo
prevented its the proper reconstruction:
1) Drinking water infrastructure
2) Sewage system
3) Electrical power grid
4) National healthcare infrastructure (more than 100 hospitals
and healthcare centers destroyed)
5) National education system (over 4,000 schools, institutes, colleges,
6) Transportation sector (air traffic banned, sea vessels damaged,
railroad cars & trucks crumbling)
7) Telecommunications (telephone exchanges and transmitters destroyed)
8) Textile and other light industries (factories destroyed)
9) Pharmaceutical sector (factories destroyed and components and
ingredients banned by embargo)
10) Social fabric and modernity (modern society reduced to sufficing
with obtaining food and medicine only)
Summary of the Effects
According to the humanitarian reports, the ongoing embargo imposed
in 1990, coupled with the destruction caused by the 1991 Gulf war,
has in turn directly caused the following:
1) As of March 2003 (just prior to the war),
between 1.7 and 2 million Iraqi civilians have died due to malnutrition
and disease, about 700,000 of them are children. Health Ministry
documents under-5 and over-50 deaths due to disease and/or malnutrition
at 1.7 million. If over-5 and under-50 age sectors are added, which
is well over 500,000 deaths, that makes the total number of deaths
over 2 million. Estimates of deaths due to the 2003 war range from
10,000 to 100,000.
2) Prior to the 2003 war, 1.5 million children
were made orphans.
3) Prior to the 2003 war, 10,000 Iraqi civilians
were dying every month (half of which were children). That amounted
to 333 deaths a day, or 14 deaths an hour. An Iraqi civilian
died from malnutrition and disease every 4 minutes. Since the 2003
war caused even more destruction of the civilian infrastructure
(water, electricity, etc), coupled with the extensive of anti-personnel
cluster bombs dropped on Iraq, and the mass lootings of hospitals
and pharmacies, this average will be greatly skewed for the initial
months after the 2003 war, until such a time when the civilian infrastructure
is properly rebuilt.
4) The combination of the destruction of the water pipes and the
water pumping stations in the 1991 war and the looting after the
2003 war, coupled with the lack of chlorine and electricity to re-activate
the pumps for over 12 years due largely to the embargo, all make
clean drinking water widely unavailable today in Iraq, and thereby
creating a dangerous recipe for a rapid spread of infectious diseases
and possible epidemics. Prior to 1990, over 90% of Iraqis has access
to clean drinking water, whereas it was between 33-50% just prior
to the 2003 war (1999 UN Report).
5) The destruction of the national medical healthcare system has
been one of the largest single contributors to the death and disease
in Iraq. Over 100 hospitals and healthcare centers were destroyed
in the 1991 war. Prior to 1990, over 90% of Iraqis had access to
high quality medical care, free of charge, whereas as the majority
of Iraqis lack it now (1999 UN Report).
6) The destruction of the national school system in the 1991 war
has caused a sharp decline in the overall literacy rate. Half of
Iraq's schools (4,000 out of 8,000) were bombed. The remaining schools
(4,000) sharply decayed and became dilapidated due to the 12-year
embargo. This lack of enough schools coupled with Iraq's growing
population, made the problem even worse. When Iraq had over 8,000
functioning schools in 1990, the country's population was about
18 million. Now that Iraq's population is well over 25 million,
the number of functioning schools is less than a quarter of what
it was in 1990. This severe shortage of schools has caused a sharp
increase in the illiteracy rate and led to children wandering in
the streets. Prior to 1990, over 80% of Iraqis could read and write,
whereas now the school attendance is almost 50% (1999 UN report).
7) Prior to the 2003 war, the local Iraqi currency (dinar) had
been decimated as a result of U.S. counterfeiting efforts, the 1991
destruction of the civilian infrastructure, and the 12-year embargo
which banned foreign (hard) currency from legally entering the country.
The combination of the counterfeiting, bombing, and embargo has
caused the value of the dinar to drop from its original value of
just over three dollars to being worth 1/20th of a cent (20 dinars
makes a cent), just prior to the 2003 war.
8) Prior to the fall of the former government, Iraq was essentially
a massive welfare state. The state employed over a million people
and provided food coupons for over 80% of Iraq's 25 million people.
The fall of the government meant the effective end of this welfare
state. In addition, the U.S. administration's firing of hundreds
of thousands of paid state employees has made the situation even
worse. The government employees, who were barely living above the
starvation level, are now unemployed and income-less.
9) Clearly the most short-sighted decision taken yet by the U.S.
administration in Baghdad was to totally dissolve Iraq's military,
leaving its employees with no compensation at all. That decision
meant that over half a million ex-military men were left to starve,
along with their families. Since the typical Iraqi family is made
of at least five members, that meant at least 2.5 million Iraqis
were left to starve. What would prevent these starving men from
armed revolt to avoid starvation? Anyone with some common sense
would have devised a plan to either retire these men with some type
of retirement income to prevent them from starving and revolting,
or offering them new jobs as policemen or the like, similar to what
the U.S. military did with the former Japanese soldiers after World
War 2. This decision is indeed a recipe for disaster. [...]
You may wonder why
anyone would try to use the word “fascism” in a serious discussion
of where America is today. It sounds like cheap name-calling,
or melodramatic allusion to a slew of old war movies. But I
am serious. I don’t mean it as name-calling at all. I
mean to persuade you that the style of governing into which America
has slid is most accurately described as fascism, and that the necessary
implications of this fact are rightly regarded as terrifying. That’s
what I am about here. And even if I don’t persuade you, I hope
to raise the level of your thinking about who and where we are now,
to add some nuance and perhaps some useful insights.
The word comes from the Latin word “Fasces,” denoting a bundle
of sticks tied together. The individual sticks represented
citizens, and the bundle represented the state. The message
of this metaphor was that it was the bundle that was significant,
not the individual sticks. If it sounds un-American, it’s worth
knowing that the Roman Fasces appear on the wall behind the Speaker’s
podium in the chamber of the US House of Representatives.
Still, it’s an unlikely word. When most people hear the word
"fascism" they may think of the racism and anti-Semitism of Mussolini
and Hitler. It is true that the use of force and the scapegoating
of fringe groups are part of every fascism. But there was also
an economic dimension of fascism, known in Europe during
the 1920s and '30s as "corporatism," which was an essential ingredient
of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s tyrannies. So-called corporatism was
adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as
a model by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United
States and Europe.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago (in “The Corporation Will Eat Your
Soul”), Fortune magazine ran a cover story on Mussolini in 1934,
praising his fascism for its ability to break worker unions, disempower
workers and transfer huge sums of money to those who controlled
the money rather than those who earned it.
Few Americans are aware of or can recall how so many
Americans and Europeans viewed economic fascism as the wave of the
future during the 1930s. Yet reviewing our past may help shed
light on our present, and point the way to a better future. So
I want to begin by looking back to the last time fascism posed a
serious threat to America.
In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a conservative
southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally
syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip -
runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip
and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American
democracy — those concerned with individual rights and freedoms
— as anti-American. That was 69 years ago.
One of the most outspoken American fascists from the 1930s was
economist Lawrence Dennis. In his 1936 book, The Coming American
Fascism — a coming which he anticipated and cheered — Dennis
declared that defenders of “18th-century Americanism” were sure
to become "the laughing stock of their own countrymen." The
big stumbling block to the development of economic fascism, Dennis
bemoaned, was "liberal norms of law or constitutional guarantees
of private rights."
So it is important for us to recognize that, as an economic system,
fascism was widely accepted in the 1920s and '30s, and nearly worshiped
by some powerful American industrialists. And fascism has always,
and explicitly, been opposed to liberalism of all kinds.
Mussolini, who helped create modern fascism, viewed liberal ideas
as the enemy. "The Fascist conception of life," he wrote, "stresses
the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so
far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical
liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual;
Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real
essence of the individual." (In 1932 Mussolini wrote, with the
help of Giovanni Gentile, an entry for the Italian Encyclopedia
on the definition of fascism. You can read the whole entry
Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect
individual rights: The essence of fascism, he believed, is
that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people.
Still, fascism is a word that is completely foreign to most of
us. We need to know what it is, and how we can know it when
we see it.
In an essay coyly titled “Fascism Anyone?,” Dr. Lawrence Britt,
a political scientist, identifies social and political agendas common
to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco,
Suharto, and Pinochet yielded this list of 14 “identifying characteristics
of fascism.” (The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine,
Volume 23, Number 2. Read it at
how familiar they sound.
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos,
slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen
everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people
in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored
in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the
other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations,
long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats
as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the
need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic
or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists,
4. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military
is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the
domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are
5. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively
male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles
are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia
and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
6. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government,
but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government
regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship,
especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion
in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious
rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even
when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed
to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often
are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating
a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to
a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely,
or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to
higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors
and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression
in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to
fund the arts.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power
to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police
abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism.
There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited
power in fascist nations
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends
and associates who appoint each other to government positions and
use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from
accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national
resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright
stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other
times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even
assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to
control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation
of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries
to manipulate or control elections.
This list will be familiar to students of political science. But
it should be familiar to students of religion as well, for much
of it mirrors the social and political agenda of religious fundamentalisms
worldwide. It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand
fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. They
both come from very primitive parts of us that have always been
the default setting of our species: amity toward our in-group, enmity
toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha male figures,
a powerful identification with our territory, and so forth. It
is that brutal default setting that all civilizations have tried
to raise us above, but it is always a fragile thing, civilization,
and has to be achieved over and over and over again.
But, again, this is not America’s first encounter with fascism.
In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace
to, as Wallace noted, “write a piece answering the following questions:
What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are
Vice President Wallace's answer to those questions was published
in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war
against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. See how much
you think his statements apply to our society today.
“The really dangerous American fascist,” Wallace wrote, “… is the
man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what
Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would
prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels
of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best
to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news
to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more
money or more power.”
In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism he saw rising
in America, Wallace added, “They claim to be super-patriots, but
they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.
They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly
and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their
deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using
the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously,
they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.” By these
standards, a few of today’s weapons for keeping the common people
in eternal subjection include NAFTA, the World Trade Organization,
union-busting, cutting worker benefits while increasing CEO pay,
elimination of worker benefits, security and pensions, rapacious
credit card interest, and outsourcing of jobs — not to mention the
largest prison system in the world.
The Perfect Storm
Our current descent into fascism came about through a kind of “Perfect
Storm,” a confluence of three unrelated but mutually supportive
schools of thought.
1. The first stream of thought was the imperialistic dream
of the Project for the New American Century. I don’t believe
anyone can understand the past four years without reading the Project
for the New American Century, published in September 2000 and authored
by many who have been prominent players in the Bush administrations,
including Cheney, Rumsfleid, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald
Kagan to name only a few. This report saw the fall of Communism
as a call for America to become the military rulers of the world,
to establish a new worldwide empire. They spelled out the military
enhancements we would need, then noted, sadly, that these wonderful
plans would take a long time, unless there could be a catastrophic
and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor that would let the
leaders turn America into a military and militarist country. There
was no clear interest in religion in this r! eport, and no clear
concern with local economic policies.
2. A second powerful stream must be credited to Pat Robertson
and his Christian Reconstructionists, or Dominionists. Long
dismissed by most of us as a screwball, the Dominionist style of
Christianity which he has been preaching since the early 1980s is
now the most powerful religious voice in the Bush administration.
Katherine Yurica, who transcribed over 1300 pages of interviews
from Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” shows in the 1980s, has shown how
Robertson and his chosen guests consistently, openly and passionately
argued that America must become a theocracy under the control of
Christian Dominionists. Robertson is on record saying democracy
is a terrible form of government unless it is run by his kind of
Christians. He also rails constantly against taxing the rich,
against public education, social programs and welfare — and prefers
Deuteronomy 28 over the teachings of Jesus. He is clear that
women must remain homebound as obedient servants of men, and that
abortions, like homosexuals, should not be allowed. Robertson
has also been clear that other kinds of Christians, including Episcopalians
and Presbyterians, are enemies of Christ. (The Yurica Report. Search
under this name, or for “Despoiling Am! erica” by Katherine Yurica
on the internet.)
3. The third major component of this Perfect Storm has been
the desire of very wealthy Americans and corporate CEOs for a plutocracy
that will favor profits by the very rich and disempowerment of the
vast majority of American workers, the destruction of workers’ unions,
and the alliance of government to help achieve these greedy goals. It
is a condition some have called socialism for the rich, capitalism
for the poor, and which others recognize as a reincarnation of Social
Darwinism. This strain of thought has been present throughout
American history. Seventy years ago, they tried to finance
a military coup to replace Franlkin Delano Roosevelt and establish
General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in 1934. Fortunately,
the picked a general who really was a patriot; he refused,
reported the scheme, and spoke and wrote about it. As Canadian
law professor Joel Bakan wrote in ! the book and movie “The Corporation,”
they have now achieved their coup without firing a shot.
Our plutocrats have had no particular interest in religion. Their
global interests are with an imperialist empire, and their domestic
goals are in undoing all the New Deal reforms of Franklin Delano
Roosevelt that enabled the rise of America’s middle class after
Another ill wind in this Perfect Storm is more important than its
crudity might suggest: it was President Clinton’s sleazy sex with
a young but eager intern in the White House. This incident,
and Clinton’s equally sleazy lying about it, focused the certainties
of conservatives on the fact that “liberals” had neither moral compass
nor moral concern, and therefore represented a dangerous threat
to the moral fiber of America. While the effects of this may
be hard to quantify, I think they were profound.
These “storm” components have no necessary connection, and come
from different groups of thinkers, many of whom wouldn’t even like
one another. But together, they form a nearly complete web
of command and control, which has finally gained control of America
and, they hope, of the world.
When all fascisms exhibit the same social and political agendas
(the 14 points listed by Britt), then it is not hard to predict
where a new fascist uprising will lead. And it is not hard. The
actions of fascists and the social and political effects of fascism
and fundamentalism are clear and sobering. Here is some of
what’s coming, what will be happening in our country in the next
- The theft of all social security funds, to be transferred to
those who control money, and the increasing destitution of all
those dependent on social security and social welfare programs.
- Rising numbers of uninsured people in this country that already
has the highest percentage of citizens without health insurance
in the developed world.
- Increased loss of funding for public education combined with
increased support for vouchers, urging Americans to entrust their
children’s education to Christian schools.
- More restrictions on civil liberties as America is turned into
the police state necessary for fascism to work
- Withdrawal of virtually all funding for National Public Radio
and the Public Broadcasting System. At their best, these
media sometimes encourage critical questioning, so they are correctly
seen as enemies of the state’s official stories.
- The reinstatement of a draft, from which the children of privileged
parents will again be mostly exempt, leaving our poorest children
to fight and die in wars of imperialism and greed that could never
benefit them anyway. (That was my one-sentence Veterans’
Day sermon for this year.)
- More imperialistic invasions: of Iran and others, and the construction
of a huge permanent embassy in Iraq.
- More restrictions on speech, under the flag of national security.
- Control of the internet to remove or cripple it as an instrument
of free communication that is exempt from government control. This
will be presented as a necessary anti-terrorist measure.
- Efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of churches like this
one, and to characterize them as anti-American.
- Tighter control of the editorial bias of almost all media, and
demonization of the few media they are unable to control – the
New York Times, for instance.
- Continued outsourcing of jobs, including more white-collar jobs,
to produce greater profits for those who control the money and
direct the society, while simultaneously reducing America’s workers
to a more desperate and powerless status.
- Moves in the banking industry to make it impossible for an increasing
number of Americans to own their homes. As they did in the
1930s, those who control the money know that it is to their advantage
and profit to keep others renting rather than owning.
- Criminalization of those who protest, as un-American, with arrests,
detentions and harassment increasing. We already have a higher
percentage of our citizens in prison than any other country in
the world. That percentage will increase.
- In the near future, it will be illegal or at least dangerous
to say the things I have said here this morning. In the fascist
story, these things are un-American. In the real history
of a democratic America, they were seen as profoundly patriotic,
as the kind of critical questions that kept the American spirit
alive — the kind of questions, incidentally, that our media were
supposed to be pressing.
Can these schemes work? I don’t think so. I think they
are murderous, rapacious and insane. But I don’t know. Maybe
they can. Similar schemes have worked in countries like Chile,
where a democracy in which over 90% voted has been reduced to one
in which only about 20% vote because they say, as Americans are
learning to say, that it no longer matters who you vote for.
In the meantime, is there any hope, or do we just band together
like lemmings and dive off a cliff? Yes, there is always hope,
though at times it is more hidden, as it is now.
As some critics are now saying, and as I have been preaching and
writing for almost twenty years, America’s liberals need to grow
beyond political liberalism, with its often self-absorbed focus
on individual rights to the exclusion of individual responsibilities
to the larger society. Liberals will have to construct a more
complete vision with moral and religious grounding. That does
not mean confessional Christianity. It means the legitimate
heir to Christianity. Such a legitimate heir need not be a
religion, though it must have clear moral power, and be able to
attract the minds and hearts of a voting majority of Americans.
And the new liberal vision must be larger than that of the conservative
religious vision that will be appointing judges, writing laws and
bending the cultural norms toward hatred and exclusion for the foreseeable
future. The conservatives deserve a lot of admiration. They
have spent the last thirty years studying American politics, forming
their vision and learning how to gain control in the political system. And
it worked; they have won. Even if liberals can develop a bigger
vision, they still have all that time-consuming work to do. It
won’t be fast. It isn’t even clear that liberals will be willing
to do it; they may instead prefer to go down with the ship they’re
One man who has been tireless in his investigations and critiques
of America’s slide into fascism is Michael C. Ruppert, whose postings
usually read as though he is wound way too tight. But he offers
four pieces of advice about what we can do now, and they seem reality-based
enough to pass on to you. This is America; they’re all about
- First, he says you should get out of debt.
- Second is to spend your money and time on things that give you
energy and provide you with useful information.
- Third is to stop spending a penny with major banks, news media
and corporations that feed you lies and leave you angry and exhausted.
- And fourth is to learn how money works and use it like a (political)
weapon — as he predicts the rest of the world will be doing against
us. (from fromthewilderness.com)
That’s advice written this week. Another bit of advice comes
from sixty years ago, from Roosevelt’s Vice President, Henry Wallace. Wallace
said, “Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must...develop the
ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance
the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It
must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit.
We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy
in the form of monopolies and cartels.”
Still another way to understand fascism is as a kind of colonization. A
simple definition of “colonization” is that it takes people’s stories
away, and assigns them supportive roles in stories that empower
others at their expense. When you are taxed to support a government
that uses you as a means to serve the ends of others, you are —
ironically — in a state of taxation without representation. That’s
where this country started, and it’s where we are now.
I don’t know the next step. I’m not a political activist;
I’m only a preacher. But whatever you do, whatever we do, I
hope that we can remember some very basic things that I think of
as eternally true. One is that the vast majority of people
are good decent people who mean and do as well as they know how. Very
few people are evil, though some are. But we all live in families
where some of our blood relatives support things we hate. I
believe they mean well, and the way to rebuild broken bridges is
through greater understanding, compassion, and a reality-based story
that is more inclusive and empowering for the vast majority of us.
Those who want to live in a reality-based story rather than as
serfs in an ideology designed to transfer power, possibility and
hope to a small ruling elite have much long and hard work to do,
individually and collectively. It will not be either easy or
But we will do it. We will go forward in hope and in courage. Let
us seek that better path, and find the courage to take it — step,
by step, by step.
This article was given in the
form of a sermon by Rev. Davidson Loehr, on 7 November 2004.
The First Unitarian Universalist
Church of Austin
About Minister, Davidson Loehr, Ph.D.
have to protect people'
President Bush wants 'pro-homosexual'
drama banned. Gary Taylor meets the politician in charge of making
| Thursday December 9, 2004
we do with US classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The
Color Purple? "Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends,
"and dump them in it." Don't laugh. Gerald Allen's book-burying
opinions are not a joke.
Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington.
He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if
this was his first invitation to the White House. "Oh no,"
he laughs. "It's my fifth meeting with Mr Bush."
Bush is interested in Allen's opinions because Allen is an elected
Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is
Bush's base. Last week, Bush's base introduced a bill that would
ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials
that "promote homosexuality". Allen does not want taxpayers'
money to support "positive depictions of homosexuality as an
alternative lifestyle". That's why Tennessee Williams and Alice
Walker have got to go.
I ask Allen what prompted this bill. Was one of his children exposed
to something in school that he considered inappropriate? Did he
see some flamingly gay book displayed prominently at the public
No, nothing like that. "It was election day," he explains.
Last month, "14 states passed referendums defining marriage
as a relationship between a man and a woman". Exit polls asked
people what they considered the most important issue, and "moral
values in this country" were "the top of the list".
"Traditional family values are under attack,"
Allen informs me. They've been under attack "for the last 40
years". The enemy, this time, is not al-Qaida. The axis of
evil is "Hollywood, the music industry". We have an obligation
to "save society from moral destruction". We have to prevent
liberal libarians and trendy teachers from "re-engineering
society's fabric in the minds of our children". We have to
I ask him, again, for specific examples. Although heterosexuals
are apparently an endangered species in Alabama, and although Allen
is a local politician who lives a couple miles from my house, he
can't produce any local examples. "Go on the internet,"
he recommends. "Some time when you've got a week to spare,"
he jokes, "just go on the internet. You'll see."
Actually, I go on the internet every day. But I'm obviously searching
for different things. For Allen, the web is just the largest repository
in history of urban myths. The internet is even better than the
Bible when it comes to spreading unverifiable, unrefutable stories.
And urban myths are political realities. Remember, it was an urban
myth (an invented court case about a sex education teacher gang-raped
by her own students who, when she protested, laughed and said: "But
we're just doing what you taught us!") that all but killed
sex education in America.
Since Allen couldn't give me a single example of the homosexual
equivalent of 9/11, I gave him some. This autumn the University
of Alabama theatre department put on an energetic revival of A
Chorus Line, which includes, besides "tits and ass",
a prominent gay solo number. Would Allen's bill prevent university
students from performing A Chorus Line? It isn't that he's
against the theatre, Allen explains. "But why can't you do
something else?" (They have done other things, of course. But
I didn't think it would be a good idea to mention their sold-out
productions of Angels in America and The Rocky Horror
Cutting off funds to theatre departments that
put on A Chorus Line or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
may look like censorship, and smell like censorship, but "it's
not censorship", Allen hastens to explain. "For instance,
there's a reason for stop lights. You're driving a vehicle, you
see that stop light, and I hope you stop." Who can argue with
something as reasonable as stop lights? Of course, if you're gay,
this particular traffic light never changes to green.
It would not be the first time Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ran
into censorship. As Nicholas de Jongh documents in his amusingly
appalling history of government regulation of the British theatre,
the British establishment was no more enthusiastic, half a century
ago, than Alabama's Allen. "Once again Mr Williams vomits up
the recurring theme of his not too subconscious," the Lord
Chamberlain's Chief Examiner wrote in 1955. In the end, it was first
performed in London at the New Watergate Club, for "members
only", thereby slipping through a loophole in the censorship
But more than one gay playwright is at a stake here. Allen claims
he is acting to "encourage and protect our culture". Does
"our culture" include Shakespeare? I ask Allen if he would
insist that copies of Shakespeare's sonnets be removed from all
public libraries. I point out to him that Romeo and Juliet
was originally performed by an all-male cast, and that in Shakespeare's
lifetime actors and audiences at the public theatres were all accused
of being "sodomites". When Romeo wished he "was a
glove upon that hand", the cheek that he fantasised about kissing
was a male cheek. Next March the Alabama Shakespeare festival will
be performing a new production of As You Like It, and its
famous scene of a man wooing another man. The Alabama Shakespeare
Festival is also the State Theatre of Alabama. Would Allen's bill
cut off state funding for Shakespeare?
"Well," he begins, after a pause, "the current draft
of the bill does not address how that is going to be handled. I
expect details like that to be worked out at the committee stage.
Literature like Shakespeare and Hammet [sic] could be left alone."
Could be. Not "would be". In any case, he says, "you
could tone it down". That way, if you're not paying real close
attention, even a college graduate like Allen himself "could
easily miss" what was going on, the "subtle" innuendoes
So he regards his gay book ban as a work in progress. His legislation
is "a single spoke in the wheel, it doesn't resolve all the
issues". This is just the beginning. "To turn a big ship
around it takes a lot of time."
But make no mistake, the ship is turning. You can see that on the
face of Cornelius Carter, a professor of dance at Alabama and a
prize-winning choreographer who, not long ago, was named university
teacher of the year for the entire US. Carter is black. He is also
gay, and tired of fighting these battles. "I don't know,"
he says, "if I belong here any more."
Forty years ago, the American defenders of "our culture"
and "traditional values" were opposing racial integration.
Now, no politician would dare attack Cornelius Carter for being
black. But it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against people
for what they do in bed.
"Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends, "and dump
them in it."
Of course, Allen was talking about books. He was just talking about
books. He never said anything about pink triangles.
| I've been giving a lot of thought
lately to a conversation I overheard at a Starbucks in Nashville last
winter. It was a cold and rainy night as I worked away at my laptop,
but the comforting aroma of cappuccino kept me going. My comfort was
interrupted, however, by two young men who sat down in upholstered
chairs near my table. One was talking, the other listening, in what
appeared to be an informal college orientation.
"The only trouble with David Lipscomb (a conservative Christian
college nearby) is that old man Lipscomb apparently didn't like
football. So we don't have a football team, but we have a great
"But you do have to be careful about one thing,"
he said more quietly, coming closer and speaking in hushed tones,
"My professor-I have this great professor-told me that you
have to be careful not to get too much education, because you could
lose your foundation, your core values."
The neophyte nodded solemnly, his eyebrows raised
"If you get a bachelors," the seasoned
student reassured, "you'll probably be okay. But my professor
said that when you get a master's, and definitely if you go beyond
that, you can lose your values. He said that college students have
to be watchful because if you get too much education, you could
turn LIBERAL. He's seen it happen to a lot of good Christians."
Both young men looked around again to make sure no-one was listening
(unfortunately my hearing is excellent, even when I wish it weren't),
and shuddered visibly. They shook their heads at the terrifying
fate that could befall them.
I found it hard to concentrate after that, my mind returning again
and again to one question: "What would happen to higher education
in America if this fear of "too much education", and this
presumption that liberal views are the devil's snare rather than
the logical consequences of exposure to science, philosophy, literature
and diversity, became widespread?"
Sadly, it has already happened, and is growing on college campuses
across the US. A recent article by Justin Pope, "Conservatives
Flip Academic Freedom Debate: Liberal professors are accused of
attempting to indoctrinate students. But some teachers say pupils
are trying to avoid new ideas." (AP, 12/25/04) describes this
anti-liberal movement, weakly disguised as "balancing"
their courses with conservative views:
"Leading the movement is Students for Academic Freedom, with
chapters on 135 campuses and close ties to David Horowitz, a onetime
liberal campus activist turned conservative commentator. The group
posts student complaints on its website about alleged episodes of
grading bias and unbalanced, anti-American propaganda by professors
- often in classes.
"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.""
The "other half" of the story may not be factual, however,
but doctrinal. As the young man in Starbucks said just before he
and the incoming freshman got up to leave,
"Even at Lipscomb, you have to be careful
what you pay attention to. My professor said that a few faculty
members might lead you astray without meaning to, by bringing in
ideas that aren't biblical. He said that if you're ever taught anything
that sounds questionable, you should talk about it with your minister
to see if it's right."
Even as a Christian raised in the evangelical tradition, this shocked
me. I suppose it shouldn't have; the Southern
Baptist Convention recently considered a proposal to urge all parents
to pull their children out of public schools to prevent their exposure
to "non-biblical ideas" which, as it happens, run rampant
in fields like medicine, physics, archeology, literature, philosophy,
history, astronomy, psychology, theology-in short, everything.
What will happen to that innovative American spirit if radical
"conservatives" have their way with our educational system?
How will the US fare in the global marketplace when certain ideas,
or entire fields, become off-limits to students who've been indoctrinated
to consult their ministers before learning new information?
What will happen to medical research, for instance, if this movement
proceeds to its logical conclusion: outlawing the scientific method,
a method notorious for not relying on biblical principles?
I fear men like Horowitz because uncensored education is essential
to our democracy, our people's well-being and the nation's long-term
survival. The "conservative" movement that he's spearheading
reminds me of the news reports coming out of Iran in the months
just prior to the conservative religious takeover of that country
when its professors were warned to present the "correct"
views in class.
This movement pretends to be about "balancing"
liberal with conservative views, but the reality is a lot uglier
than that. As the conversation I overheard suggests, this movement
isn't about balance, it's about censorship-or even better, self-censorship
that's easily achieved by frightening students with social rejection,
hellfire or both. Either way, scholarship is degraded in the process.
According to the article, "many educators, while agreeing that
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 that teachers will shy away from
sensitive topics or fend off criticism by "balancing"
their syllabuses with opposing viewpoints, even if they represent
Whether through self-censorship or junk education, our country's
children are paying the price for the political aggression of the
far right. Robert Frost once wrote, "Education is the ability
listen to almost anything without losing your temper."
Tempers are short in today's radical "conservative" America,
and the emboldened radical right is in no mood to listen to anyone.
Dr. Teresa Whitehurst is a clinical psychologist, author of Jesus
on Parenting (2004) and coauthor of The Nonviolent Christian Parent
(2004). She offers parenting workshops, holds discussion groups
on Nonviolent Christianity, and writes the column, "Democracy,
Faith and Values: Because You Shouldn't Have to Choose Just One",
which is posted on her website, wwww.JesusontheFamily.org
transcript of President George W. Bush's remarks on the Tsunami
is now available. After days of silence and invisibility, Bush finally
came out on Wednesday to address perhaps the greatest natural disaster
of our times.
He said he had called four heads of state to express his condolences
and was coordinating with other countries, and was sending some military
logistical help, along with the $35 million in aid now promised (initially
it was $15).
QUESTION: Mr. President, were you offended
by the suggestion that rich nations have been stingy in the aid
over the tsunami? Is this a sign of another rift with the U.N.?
This entire spiel was very well rehearsed and mostly wrong.
BUSH: Well, I felt like the person who made that statement was very
misguided and ill-informed.
Take, for example, in the year 2004, our government provided $2.4
billion in food, in cash, in humanitarian relief to cover the disasters
for last year. That's $2.4 billion. That's 40 percent of all the
relief aid given in the world last year was provided by the United
States government. We're a very generous, kind-hearted nation, and,
you know, what you're beginning to see is a typical response from
First of all, we provide immediate cash relief to the tune of about
$35 million. And then there will be an assessment of the damage
so that the next tranche of relief will be spent wisely. That's
what's happening now.
Just got off the phone with the president of Sri Lanka. She asked
for help to assess the damage. In other words, not only did they
want immediate help, but they wanted help to assess damage so that
we can better direct resources. And so our government is fully prepared
to continue to provide assistance and help.
It takes money, by the way, to move an expeditionary force into
the region. We're diverting assets, which is part of our overall
aid package. We'll continue to provide assets. Plus the American
people will be very generous themselves. I mean, the $2.4 billion
was public money, of course provided by the taxpayers.
But there is also a lot of individual giving in America . . .
The Guardian notes,
Jan Egeland - the United
Nations' emergency relief coordinator and former head of the Norwegian
Red Cross... question[ed] the generosity of rich nations. "We
were more generous when we were less rich, many of the rich countries,''
Egeland said Monday. "And it is beyond me, why are we so stingy,
really. ... Even Christmas time should remind many Western countries
at least how rich we have become.'' Egeland told reporters the next
day that his complaint wasn't directed at any one nation.
So Egeland had not in fact singled out the United States. He was talking
about the 30 richest countries generally.
Second, Bush is an MBA, so he knows very well the difference between
absolute numbers and per capita ones. Let's see, Australia
offered US $27 million in aid for victims of the tsunami. Australia's
population is about 20 million. Its gross domestic product is about
$500 billion per year. Surely anyone can see that Australia's $27
million is far more per person than Bush's $35 million. Australia's
works out to $1.35 per person. The US contribution as it now stands
is about 9 cents per person. So, yes, the US is giving more in absolute
terms. But on a per person basis, it is being far more stingy so far.
And Australians are less wealthy than Americans, making on average
US $25,000 per year per person, whereas Americans make $38,000 per
year per person. So even if Australians and Americans were both giving
$1.35 per person, the Australians would be making the bigger sacrifice.
But they aren't both giving $1.35; the Bush administration is so far
giving an American contribution of nine cents a person.
The apparent inability of the American public to do basic math or
to understand the difference between absolute numbers and proportional
ones helps account for why Bush's crazy tax cut schemes have been
so popular. Americans don't seem to realize that Bush gave ordinary
people checks for $300 or $600, but is giving billionnaires checks
for millions. A percentage cut across the board results in far higher
absolute numbers for the super-wealthy than for the fast food workers.
But, well, if people like being screwed over, then that is their democratic
Bush's underlining of the $2.5 billion he says the United States gave
in emergency humanitarian aid last year annoyed the hell out of me.
He said it was 40% of such monies given by the industrialized world.
But the US is the world's largest economy, and neither on a per capita
basis nor as a percentage of GDP is that very much money. Bush said
"billion" as though it were an astronomical sum. But he spends a billion
dollars a week in Iraq, without batting an eye. That's right. Two
weeks of his post-war war in Iraq costs as much as everything the
US spent on emergency humanitarian assistance in 2003 for all the
countries in the world.
One reader wrote in,
If the US didn't have 150,000
troops bogged down in Iraq with hundreds of thousands more either
winding down from or preparing for deployment, just think of how
many lives we could be saving right this instant by putting hundreds
of thousands of the most mobile and most efficient airlift, sealift,
rapid emergency management, and medical forces in the world to work
throughout the Indian Ocean Basin (and for a fraction of the cost
of the war). Instead we're barely managing a couple warships and
15,000 or so troops, a fraction of what we might have done if the
Administration had their priorities straight. Opportunity cost may
seem like an abstract economic principle, but it seems there's nothing
quite like the most devastating tidal wave in human history to make
it crystal clear. Bush's War is now costing lives in Indonesia,
Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives, etc, etc, etc.
The US Federal budget in 2004 consists of about $1.8 trillion in receipts
and $2.3 trillion in expenditures. The
2003 official development assistance budget was $15 billion (a
very large portion of which goes to countries that don't need the
assistance, and is given for strategic reasons). That is about 0.14
percent of the US GDP. Norway, in contrast, spends $2 billion a year
on humanitarian assistance, which comes to almost a full 1.0 percent
of its GDP. This is the sort of thing that drove Egeland to make his
remark. He was even complaining about Norway, which is several times
more virtuous than the US on a per capita basis in this regard.
Bush fears the tsunami for two big reasons. If the US government really
stepped up to the plate, Bush would not be able to argue for making
his tax cuts for the rich permanent.
And, the world public has just seen on its television screens the
sort of disasters we can expect if Bush's denial of global warming
continues as US policy. So he has to fall back on silly arguments
from meaningless absolute numbers and on vague hopes for private giving.
The tsunami says that government is needed to help people. That's
not what Bush wants the US public to believe. But the tsunami is bigger
The following article is the fourth in a
series highlighting recent conspiracy theories from the Middle
East. Following up on the previous reports from the summer and
fall, conspiracies have continued to abound, specifically on such
issues as: blaming the U.S. for 9/11;
accusing "Zionists" of spreading AIDS; claiming
that Abu Musab Al-Zarwaqi is an American propaganda invention;
saying that the CIA is writing sermons for Egyptian imams and
that the Jews are re-writing the Koran; and more recently, accusing
Israel of killing Yasser Arafat.
Conspiracy theories surrounding Iraq have been especially popular
- in fact, MEMRI has been the subject of several. For example,
Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV broadcast a program about MEMRI’s alleged
activities in Iraq, claiming that MEMRI is commanding “Zionist
squads specializing in car bombs.” Iranian TV channel 1
claimed that MEMRI was responsible for the bombing of Iraqi oil
One of the most popular conspiracies about Iraq deals with claims
of Jewish/Israeli/Zionist involvement in terror attacks and fighting
Iraqis. For example, in a sermon broadcast on Sudan TV on
September 19, Sheik 'Abd Al-Jalil Al-Karouri preached, “There
are currently 1,000 Jewish soldiers in Falluja. Among them are
37 rabbis. The rabbis raise the morale among the Jewish soldiers
fighting in Fallujah. So America is fighting for Israel… The
Jews came to conduct urban warfare on behalf of America, and America
is supporting them in exchange.”
Iran's Mehr News Agency published an article on October 5, explaining
that “Israeli commandos played an active role in the occupying
forces’ attacks on Najaf, Sadr City… Falluja, and some areas
in Tikrit, Ramadi, and Baqubah.” The article added, “Israelis
have taken over some military operations…
According to certain reports, there are over 200 Zionist troops
in Iraq dressed in U.S. Army uniforms…”
Similarly, Iran’s Al-‘Alam TV broadcast an interview with Jordanian
MP Dr. ‘Adnan Hasouna on October 28, in which he claimed that
the Mossad is responsible for attacks in Iraq: “The
Israeli Mossad, the Jewish Mossad, and others strive to distort
the image of Islam by striking the National Guard soldiers and
The December 2nd edition of the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported
that Mohamed Selim El-Awwa, a prominent Egyptian Islamist and
Secretary-General of the International Association of Muslim Scholars
(IAMS), claimed that the Iraqi resistance had been infiltrated
by "Zionist and international intelligence services." El-Awwa
explained that Muslims would not decapitate a hostage.
“It is no coincidence that decapitations or the brutal killing
of innocent hostages always occur just after a scandal exposing
the violations of the occupation forces.”
In the Saudi daily Arab News on September 7th, Hassan Tahsin wrote
an article titled “Danger Of Israeli Presence In Iraq.”
Tahsin alleged that there is a Jewish conspiracy
to make another Jewish state in Iraq: “… Is this the fulfillment
of the Zionist dream to create a Jewish state from the Nile to
the Euphrates?… Those who follow what is happening in Iraq
will see that Israel has a hand in the country.
Mossad, its secret service, has many operation centers both in
Baghdad and in other major cities in Iraq; their job is to organize
terrorist activities to guarantee that Iraq remains unstable…
According to Iraq’s Al-Zaman newspaper, a report on September
21st detailed that the Saudi Royal Family’s Muslim World League
“accused Zionist and Christian Evangelist organizations of infiltrating
Iraq to introduce programs to Iraqi youth in order to weaken their
Islamic and national sentiments.”
However, the most popular conspiracy about Christians in Iraq
has to do with the bombing of churches. In an October 18
article published by Iran’s Mehr News Agency, Hassan Hanizadeh
wrote, “The criminals who bombed the churches in Baghdad were
trying to create a religious crisis in Iraq, and the Zionists
definitely have great experience in creating religious conflicts…
Bearing in mind the goals of the bombers, it can be concluded
that these terrorists most likely have some connection with Israeli
A November 12th sermon by Hizballah Leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
on Al-Manar TV explained the CIA and the Mossad are responsible
for church bombings: “Examine very carefully those who blow up
the churches… You will discover that some of these groups are
run by the CIA … the Mossad…”
Writing in Al-Hayat on December 12, columnist George Haddad similarly
explained, “During a few weeks only, a third wave of outrageous
bombing of Christian churches occurred in Iraq… If
we look at these crimes from a criminal investigation point of
view, and ask who is benefiting from these attacks, it would not
be difficult to discover that the American occupation, international
Zionism, and Israel get the real benefits from such attacks.”
In addition to blaming the CIA for attacking Iraqi churches, a
conspiracy which appeared on the Islamist website Islam Online
on November 10 reported that “the U.S.
occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting
them with internationally-banned chemical weapons.”
The article added, “The U.S. troops have sprayed chemical and
nerve gases on resistance fighters, turning them hysteric in a
heartbreaking scene… Some Fallujah residents have been further
burnt beyond treatment by poisonous gases.”
It should be noted that while conspiracy theories continue to
be rampant in the Middle East, Arab reformists and progressives
have spoken out against them. For more information on this
rising phenomenon, visit MEMRI’s Reform Project at www.memri.org/reform.
BAGHDAD : Pitched battles between US troops
and Iraqi insurgents in strife-torn Mosul left
25 dead and another 30 people were killed when a Baghdad house
rigged with explosives blew up during a police raid.
Despite the volatile security situation, US President George
W. Bush insisted Iraq's landmark national elections must go ahead,
while a hardline Islamist militant group reiterated its intention
to cause bloodshed on the January 30 polling day.
In Mosul, insurgents detonated car bombs against a US patrol
and a combat outpost and then about 50 fighters launched an assault
on the outpost, firing small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and
mortars, the military said.
US forces called in air strikes and at least 25 insurgents were
killed, said Lieutenant Colonel Paul Hastings.
Masked gunmen were seen running down Mosul's deserted streets,
firing off guns and rocket-propelled grenades, as a column of
smoke shot up into the sky, an AFP correspondent reported.
Violence has paralysed the city of 1.5 million people, where
US forces are expected to increase their numbers ahead of the
January 30 elections for an Iraqi national parliament.
As the clock ticks down to the election, doubts loom over whether
US and Iraqi forces can pacify cities like Mosul, a bastion of
the Sunni Muslim minority whose alienation from the US-backed
political order is fueling the lethal insurgency.
The Iraqi government earlier Wednesday hailed the capture in
Mosul of a militant linked to Al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,
who has a 25-million-dollar price on his head.
The government identified the fighter as 33-year-old Abu Marwan,
a senior commander with Mosul-based Abu Talha groups, which the
government said was linked to the Jordanian-born Zarqawi.
The deaths raised to 98 the number of
people killed in Iraq in a span of 48 hours as insurgents
carried out a series of brazen attacks Tuesday on police stations
and checkpoints north of Baghdad in the Sunni Muslim heartland.
Apparently lured into a trap, police raided a home in Baghdad's
squalid western Ghazaliya district late Tuesday, and were still
inside when a massive blast leveled the house, an interior ministry
Thirty people died, six of them police, the ministry said. Another
25 were wounded, including four policemen, and four police were
listed as missing.
Officials said a Sudanese drew them towards the house by firing
at neighbours. However, a witness said the man had actually threatened
to blow up the home if police entered.
Neighbor Mohammed Ali Hassan Awad, 21, said the Sudanese man
"climbed to the roof and threatened to blow up the house if they
entered", suggesting the Iraqi police were aware of the danger.
Ambulances rushed victims to hospital as rescuers sifted through
the rubble of the house and neighbouring dwellings looking for
survivors. Police and army sealed off the site.
The attack resembled those in Fallujah during last month's US-led
offensive on the city, where rebels rigged homes to blow up on
The US army estimated that up to 900 kilograms
(1,980 pounds) of explosives were used in the blast.
"What kind of Muslim stores these kinds
of explosives in the middle of innocent civilians," neighbour
Omar Hussein demanded in rage.
In other unrest, an Iraqi businessman, a female engineer working
for the US military and a Turkish truck driver were killed in
separate attacks to the north of Baghdad, police said. [...]
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. forces launched a new
offensive Wednesday against insurgents in an area south of the
capital dubbed the "triangle of death," while militants ambushed
an elite Iraqi police unit in a Baghdad neighborhood known for
its loyalty to ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, killing 29 people,
most of them civilians.
The militants set off a huge explosion in the staunchly Baathist
neighborhood of Ghaziliya as a contingent of special police and
national guards were about to raid a house late Tuesday after
receiving an anonymous tip. The blast killed
22 civilians and seven officers, and damaged a dozen nearby homes,
a police spokesman said.
Between 1,700 to 1,800 pounds of explosives were used in the
blast, a U.S. military statement said. American and Iraqi troops
searched the rubble for survivors through the night and rescued
It was not immediately clear whether any of the casualties were
guerrillas who appeared to have lured the police into the building.
The area is a predominantly Sunni Muslim neighborhood where support
for Saddam has traditionally been strong.
The fighting came as an insurgent group which claimed responsibility
for the Dec. 21 suicide bombing of a U.S. base near Mosul -- in
which 22 people were killed -- warned Iraqis not to take part
in parliamentary elections scheduled for next month.
"We also warn everyone to keep away from all military targets,
whether they were bases, American Zionist patrols, or the forces
of the pagan guard, and police," Ansar al-Sunnah said.
The group is believed to be made up mainly
of Sunnis and has focused on targeting Americans and those viewed
as collaborating with them. It has
avoided outright civilian targets.
The latest warning followed Monday's audiotape statement from
al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden urging Iraqis to boycott the elections
and praising attacks against Americans and those who cooperate
with them. [...]
The aircraft is a Gulfstream V turbojet of
the sort favoured by tycoons and celebrities.
Since September 11, 2001, it has been seen at military airports
from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being boarded
by hooded and handcuffed passengers.
The plane's owner of record, Premier
Executive Transport Services Inc, lists directors and officers
who appear to exist only on paper. Each
one of those directors and officers has a recently issued US social
security number and an address consisting only of a post office
They are "sterile identities" the CIA
uses to conceal involvement in clandestine operations.
In this case, the CIA is flying captured terrorist suspects from
one country to another for detention and interrogation - an activity
it calls "rendition".
The Gulfstream helps make all this possible. Since September
11, 2001, secret renditions have become a principal weapon in
the CIA's arsenal against suspected al-Qaeda terrorists.
Airport officials, documents and amateur plane spotters say
the Gulfstream V has been used to whisk detainees in or out of
Jakarta, Pakistan, Egypt and Sweden, usually at night.
Morton Sklar, of the World Organisation for Human Rights, said
rights groups are working on legal challenges to renditions because
one of their purposes is to transfer captives
to countries that use harsh interrogation methods outlawed in
The CIA has the authority to carry out renditions under a presidential
directive dating back to the Clinton administration, which the
Bush Administration has since reviewed and renewed.
The story of the Gulfstream began to unravel less than six weeks
after the September 11 attacks. On October 26 that year, Masood
Anwar, a Pakistani journalist, broke a story that claimed Pakistani
intelligence had handed over to US authorities a Yemeni microbiologist,
Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, who was wanted in connection with
the October 2000 bombing of the warship USS Cole.
The report noted that an aircraft bearing the tail number N379P,
and parked at Karachi airport, had whisked Mohammad away on October
On December 18 men with American accents,
wearing hoods and working with special Swedish security police,
brought two Egyptian nationals onto a Gulfstream V that was parked
at night at Stockholm's Bromma airport, Swedish officials and
airport personnel said.
The account was confirmed independently by The Washington Post.
The plane's tail number: N379P. The men were flown to Cairo. Later,
Ahmed Agiza was convicted by Egypt's Supreme Military Court of
terrorism-related charges. Muhammad Zery was set free. Both say
they were tortured while in Egyptian custody. Sweden has opened
an investigation into the decision to allow them to be rendered.
In January 2002, a US-registered Gulfstream V landed in Jakarta.
Indonesian officials say it carried away Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni,
an Egyptian travelling on a Pakistani passport who was suspected
of being an al-Qaeda operative. Without
a hearing, he was flown to Egypt. His status and whereabouts are
On December 1, 2002, the aircraft, complete with a new tail
number, was transferred to a new owner, Bayard Foreign Marketing
of Portland. Its registered agent, Scott Caplan, did not return
Bayard's sole listed corporate officer, Leonard
Bayard, has no residential or telephone history. His name does
not appear in any other public records.
Israeli occupation forces have fired tank
shells into the heavily populated Khan Yunus refugee camp in southern
Gaza, wounding at least 13 Palestinians.
A 13-year-old boy and a girl aged about
10 were among those injured by the shelling on Tuesday,
which the Israeli military said was aimed at a source of mortar
fire on the illegal Gush Khatif settlement.
The shelling was carried out by troops manning a post near the
illegal Neve Dekalim colony and came several hours after a failed
Israeli air strike on a car carrying two Palestinian resistance
fighters in the same area.
The car was targeted by a drone that fired a single rocket in
the Khan Yunus region of the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses said.
Palestinian security sources said both men who fled the strike
on foot were members of the Islamic Jihad movement that seeks
to push Israeli occupation forces out of Gaza and the West Bank
by force of arms.
Israeli security sources confirmed the strike, saying their
target had been resistance members behind the firing of mortars
which have become increasingly frequent in recent days.
| JERUSALEM, Dec. 29 (Xinhuanet) --
Israeli Knesset (parliament) approved Wednesday a law prohibiting
funding for families of terrorists, Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported.
The new bill allows authorities to fight terror by targeting sources
The law, which will take effect in six months, is also meant to
enable the state to take part in the international fight against
sources that fund terror.
Under the new law, anyone who funds terrorists,
or family of terrorists, will be considered a financier of terror,
and could face a jail sentence up to seven to ten years.
The law allows Israel to seize assets of
a person or a group that has been declared a terrorist organization
by a third country, even if the group's activities do not target
Israel or Israelis. Arab member of Knesset Wasal Taha voted
against the bill, saying he could not support the bill because it
failed in defining terror. He cited the Palestinian resistance against
Israel as example, saying the Palestinian action against Israeli
occupation was not terror.
He said the bill could also raise unjustified suspicion against
RIYADH : Saudi security forces raided a house
in northern Riyadh Wednesday night and killed seven militants
shortly after two car bomb attacks in the Saudi capital, security
men at the scene said.
Four security men were seriously wounded during the raid.
Saudi-owned Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television said the seven
militants were suspected of involvement in the bombings against
the interior ministry and a security forces camp that left several
Security forces chased seven "terrorists" in the northern districts
of Maseef and Taawun, the security men told AFP.
"The militants fled to a villa in the Taawun district, which
was stormed by security forces who killed the seven," one said.
"Four security men were gravely wounded in a shootout after storming
Security forces blocked the main access to the Taawun district,
and an AFP correspondent saw three ambulances leaving the area.
The raid occurred a couple of hours after the twin car bombings,
the latest in a wave of attacks by suspected Al-Qaeda militants
launched in the oil-rich kingdom in May 2003.
A fresh crisis in relations between Russia
and the West over Ukraine has threatened to erupt after Moscow
said international monitors who gave the country's presidential
election a clean bill of health were not objective, just as European
leaders hailed the result.
The Russian statement, the first from Moscow since the weekend's
election results were announced, suggested
that the Kremlin might refuse to recognise the victory of Viktor
Yushchenko, who led the "orange revolution".
Ukraine's government called off a meeting at its headquarters
yesterday after hundreds of demonstrators massed outside to prevent
the Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovich, the defeated candidate,
from entering the building.
Mr Yushchenko had called the session illegal and urged his supporters
to prevent the cabinet meeting from going ahead.
Mr Yushchenko won the election by more than 2.2 million votes,
by 51.99 per cent to 44.19 per cent, the Ukrainian central election
But Mr Yanukovich has refused to concede defeat, claiming that
there were huge violations and that 5 million old and sick voters
could not make it to the polls because of questionable electoral
Despite a pre-election pledge by President Vladimir Putin that
Moscow would recognise Sunday's poll, a spokesman for the Russian
Foreign Ministry reiterated Mr Yanukovich's complaints and added
that Western observers "preferred in their report not to record
An observer mission from the Commonwealth of Independent States
- which is politically dominated by Russia - also reported that
it had found evidence of huge electoral fraud that favoured Mr
The wrangling may derail attempts to
bring a swift end to Ukraine's protracted political crisis and
may usher in a new crisis in already strained relations between
the West and Moscow. It came despite European countries
welcoming the elections. [...]
Mr Yushchenko's victory cannot be certified until the legal
challenges submitted by Mr Yanukovich are ruled on, which may
take several days.
Since it became clear that he was set to lose,
Mr Yanukovich has accused America
and western Europe of engineering his rival's victory.
He told the Russian newspaper Izvestia: "The American influence
in the Ukrainian elections was systematic and planned. I consider
that to be interference in Ukraine's internal affairs."
However, several ministers in the Ukrainian Government threw
in their lot with Mr Yushchenko in a sign the political tide could
be moving in his favour.
Meanwhile, there was speculation that Heorhiy Kyrpa, the Ukrainian
Transport Minister and a successful businessman, found shot dead
at his dacha on Monday, was killed by gangsters.
Experts think Democrats objected to satellite
NEW YORK - What is the hush-hush intelligence project that apparently
costs a fortune and has angered key Democratic senators?
Intelligence experts speculate that the
highly classified endeavor is a top-secret satellite that would,
or perhaps already can, intercept and shut down other countries'
The debate over the project leaked into the open on the floor
of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, when Sen. Jay Rockefeller of
West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee,
publicly complained that an unnamed spy
project was "totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous
to the national security." He called the program "stunningly
Rockefeller and three other Democratic senators — Richard Durbin
of Illinois, Carl Levin of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon —
refused to sign a congressional compromise negotiated by others
in the House and Senate that provides for future U.S. intelligence
activities. But Rockefeller declined to
discuss the precise nature of the project, saying that
would have to wait until the Senate could go into closed session.
After a frenzied round of press inquiries on Thursday, Rockefeller's
office released a statement saying, "Any assertion about classified
intelligence programs based on Senator Rockefeller's statement
is wholly speculative."
The statement, which was characterized as a clarification of
Rockefeller's remarks on the Senate floor, implied that he considered
the project dangerous only because it was so costly.
"Senator Rockefeller's reference to this program, which was
fully vetted and approved by security officials, makes the point
that continuing to fund an enormously expensive, unjustified,
and wasteful program is dangerous to our national security," the
statement read. "He believes these funds should be spent on other
far more critical intelligence programs."
Mum's the word
Other members of the committee and spokesmen at the nation's
intelligence agencies declined to comment on the controversy.
“We have no comment on classified intelligence matters,” Paul
Gimigliano, the CIA’s acting director of public affairs, told
“Since Senator Rockefeller did not specify which program was
involved or even identify which agency, we are not commenting,”
said Rick Oborn, director of public affairs at the National Reconnaissance
Office, which manages America’s spy satellites.
But that didn't stop the speculation. Even though much
of the technology is highly classified, enough of it is out in
the open that intelligence experts can comment on it, usually
on condition of anonymity.
"It almost has to be a spy satellite,"
said Jeffrey T. Richelson, an intelligence historian who has written
nearly a dozen books on spy technology. "The cost element Rockefeller
talks about would indicate that."
Back in the 1990s, President Clinton
helped kill earlier anti-satellite programs, also known as "asats."
In those programs, U.S. satellites would
take out foreign satellites using "space mines" or lasers.
But the current technology, according to intelligence experts,
may be much more subtle. There have been various programs
based on the technology, some unclassified and dressed up as U.S.
defensive measures, others highly classified. One
unclassified program, called the Counter Surveillance and Reconnaissance
System (CSRS, pronounced "Scissors") was recently held up by Congress,
according to Defense Daily.
The program was aimed at blocking an adversary's access to commercial
or government space resources. It
was one of a few concepts on the table for offensive counterspace
operations, where the United States actively works to counter
an adversary's access to space, said the paper.
"That program is stopped," Defense Daily quoted the Air Force
Space Command's chief, Gen. Lance Lord, as saying. "The idea to
look at that mission area is still open."
'Prowler' at work
The United States has long been interested in such offensive
programs, launching an experimental and highly classified satellite
called "Prowler" on the space shuttle Atlantis November
Prowler stealthily maneuvered close to Russian and presumably
other nations’ communications satellites in high Earth orbit,
24,000 miles (38,400 kilometers) up. These
satellites are ideal targets. They are at much higher altitudes,
and thus difficult to track visually. Most
of the key military satellites are in this orbit — relay
satellites that transmit imagery uplinked from spy satellites,
military communications satellites and electronic eavesdropping
satellites that target terrestrial microwave communications.
Prowler gathered all manner of data on the high-Earth-orbit
satellites: their size, measurements, radar signature, mass and
the frequencies on which they relay their data.
Now experts suggest that the United States may be trying to use,
or has already succeeded in using, that stealth technology to
"negate" an adversary's satellite communications.
A satellite using such technology would not have to jam the
other satellite's signals, strictly speaking. Knowing how
its communications systems were configured, the satellite could
simply step in front of it and block its signals. In fact,
one expert said Prowler did just that in tests using U.S. communications
satellites, without being detected.
How close can such a U.S. satellite get to another satellite?
Within about a foot (30 centimeters), the expert said. The Prowler
technology could even allow the satellite to maneuver close to
the target without receiving data from Earth. Once it came
within a certain range of the target, it resorted to an internal
Is it war?
Many in the arms control community have long worried about such
an anti-satellite program, saying that, particularly in time of
crisis, such an operation could be construed
as a hostile act and the first phase of a space war.
"The best asat is not a weapon that detonates next to an enemy
satellite," said William E. Burrows of New York University, author
of "Deep Black," a book on spy satellites. "Instead, it would
be a signal that would tell the satellite to take the rest of
the afternoon off."
Sending even defensive satellite weapons
into orbit could start an arms race in space, warned John
Pike, a defense analyst with GlobalSecurity.org, who has studied
anti-satellite weapons for more than three decades. Pike said
other countries would inevitably demand proof that any weapons
were only defensive.
"It would present just absolutely insurmountable verification
problems, because we are not going to let anybody look at our
spy satellites," Pike said. "It is just not going to happen."
ROSWELL, N.M. - Federal authorities were
called in to investigate the crash of a single-engine airplane
here that went down shortly after takeoff, killing the pilot.
State police identified the pilot as 21-year-old Joseph Hudgens
The Cessna 172 took off from a Roswell airport and crashed about
20 miles west of the city Monday evening, Deputy Chief Richard
Department of Public Safety spokesman Peter Olson said Tuesday
that National Transportation Safety Board investigators were headed
to the crash site in southeastern New Mexico.
The crash occurred just off U.S. 70. Fuel spilled onto the highway
and forced the temporary closure of westbound lanes. One lane
reopened by late Monday night, but the other remained closed early
London — LIKE two bookends of calamity,
earthquakes at Bam in Iran and off Sumatra in Indonesia have delineated
a year of unusual seismic ferocity - a year, one might say, of
living dangerously. Twelve months, almost to the very hour, before
Sunday's extraordinary release of stress at the India-Burma tectonic
plate boundary, a similar jolt at the boundary of the Arabian
and the Eurasian Plates devastated one of the most celebrated
of Persian caravan cities. The televised images of Bam's collapsed
citadel and the sight of thousands of bodies being carried from
the desert ruins haunted the world then just as the images of
the drowned around the shores of the Bay of Bengal do today.
But that has not been the half of it. True, these two disasters
were, in terms of their numbers of casualties, by far the most
lethal. But in the 12 months that separated them, there have been
many other ruinous and seismically ominous events, occurring in
places that seem at first blush to be entirely disconnected.
This year just ending - which the all-too-seismically-aware
Chinese will remind us has been that of the Monkey, and so generally
much prone to terrestrial mischief - has seen killer earthquakes
in Morocco in February and Japan's main island of Honshu in October.
The Japan temblor left us with one widely published image - of
a bullet-train, derailed and lying on its side - that was, in
its own way, an augury of a very considerable power: no such locomotive
had ever been brought low before, and the Japanese were properly
vexed by its melancholy symbolism.
In America, too, this year there have been some peculiar signs.
Not only has Mount St. Helens been acting up in the most serious
fashion since its devastating eruption of May 1980, but on one
bright mid-autumn day in California this year the great San Andreas
Fault, where the North American and Pacific Plates rub alongside
one another, ruptured. It was on Sept. 28, early in the morning,
near the town of Parkfield - where, by chance, a deep hole was
being drilled directly down into the fault by geologists to try
to discern the fault's inner mysteries.
The rupture produced a quake of magnitude 6.0 - and though it
did not kill anyone, it frightened millions, not least the government
scientists who have the fault in their care. They had expected
this particular quake to have occurred years beforehand - and
had thought a seismic event so unlikely at the time that most
were at a conference in Chicago when it happened. They rushed
home, fascinated to examine their instruments, but eager also
to allay fears that their drilling had anything to do with the
As every American schoolchild knows, the most notorious rupture
of this same fault occurred nearly a century ago, at 5:12 a.m.
on April 18, 1906 - an occurrence now known around the world as
the great San Francisco Earthquake. An entire city, a monument
to the hopes and dreams of America's westward expansion, was destroyed
by a mere 40 seconds of shaking. It was an occurrence possessed
of a historical significance that may well be matched by the tragedy
now unfolding on the far side of the world.
But, curiously, it turns out that there were many other equally
momentous seismic events taking place elsewhere in the world in
1906 as well. Ten weeks before the San Francisco quake there was
one of magnitude 8.2 on the frontier between Colombia and Ecuador;
then on Feb. 16 there was a violent rupture under the Caribbean
island of St. Lucia;then on March 1, 200 people were killed by
an earthquake on Formosa; and then, to pile Pelion upon Ossa,
Mt. Vesuvius in Italy erupted, killing hundreds.
But even then it wasn't over. The grand finale of the year's
seismic upheaval took place in Chile in August, a quake that all
but destroyed the port of Valparaiso. Twenty thousand people were
killed. Small wonder that the Chinese, who invented the seismograph
and who tend to take the long view of all historical happenings,
note in their writings that 1906 was a highly unusual Year of
the Fire Horse, when devastating consequences are wont to abound,
| OTTAWA, Dec. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Canadian
scientists say devastating tsunami that cost so many lives and caused
so much destruction in southeast Asia could happen in the northwestern
coastal areas in Canada and the United States.
"We know that earthquakes of this type occur right off of
our coast", research scientist John Cassidy of the Geological
Survey of Canada told Canadian Television Wednesday.
"What we are trying to understand is how the ground will
shake in Vancouver and Victoria during our future earthquake,"
Under the water off the west coast of North America, massive pressure
is building up in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The release causes
earthquakes. Eventually, British Columbia will be hit by the big
Bob Bugslag, director of British Columnbia's Provincial Emergency
Program, told the Canadian Press that communities in the coastal
areas in the province are at risk from tsunamis. If a major earthquake
happened off the coast, coastal communities would have about 3 hours
"We are on the Pacific Rim and the entire area is very vulnerable
to tsunamis," said Bugslag. The earthquake in Alaska had a
devastating impact on B.C. The Vancouver Island community of Port
Alberni was swamped by a tsunami triggered by the powerful quake.
The tidal wave destroyed everything in its path. Amazingly, no one
was killed or even seriously injured. That quake and the one is
south Asia this week were remarkably similar and provide scientists
with a rare opportunity to understand their power, Canadian scientists
OTTAWA - The July storm system
that sent hail and rain pounding down on Edmonton and flooded homes
in Peterborough , Ont., leads the list of the Top 10 weather stories
of 2004, released Wednesday by Environment Canada.
In fact, that weather system took two spots on the annual list
prepared by senior climatologist David Phillips.
Phillips chose the July 11 Edmonton deluge as the top weather event
of 2004 because of its intensity and drama.
Hailstones the size of golf balls briefly gave the city a Christmas-like
appearance, and 15 cm of rain caused flooding and forced the evacuation
of the West Edmonton Mall.
The Peterborough flooding triggered by the same continent-wide
weather system ranked fourth on Phillips's list.
About 24 cm of rain drenched the Ont ario town on July 15, leading
to widespread damage.
The "White Juan" blizzard that paralysed parts of the Maritimes
on Feb. 19 and left Halifax buried under a metre of snow took the
No. 2 spot on the list.
The storm was accompanied by winds of up to 124 km/h, which qualify
as hurricane force.
"Our reputation as a winter people has been maintained," Phillips
told one interviewer.
In third place was the unusually cool, wet summer that much of
the country experienced.
Phillips credited that chill with giving Canada the only "good-news"
weather event on his list: a halt in the spread of West Nile disease,
which took the No. 10 spot.
The disease is spread by mosquitoes , but insect numbers were way
down because of the cold temperatures, Phillips said.
Other weather events on the list:
- Fires and hot weather plaguing British Columbia and the Yukon,
in fifth place.
- A nationwide deep freeze in January, during which Key Lake,
Sask., was officially the coldest place on Earth one night with
a temperature of –52.6 C, in sixth place.
- The Aug. 20 frost that destroyed $1-billion worth of crops
in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, in seventh place.
- An early winter storm that buried the Maritimes in up to 62
cm of snow on Nov. 13-14, in eighth place.
- Spring snow on the Prairies that left some places covered with
almost 50 cm on May 11, in ninth place.
| INDIA's last active volcano, in
the Andaman and Nicobar islands, has erupted in the aftermath of the
earthquake that set off tsunamis killing thousands of people, official
sources said today.
People have been evacuated from Barren Island since the eruption
began on Tuesday night and there are no reports of injury.
Lava was flowing out of the rim of the crater, which towers above
the Indian Ocean, the sources said.
Tourists used to visit by boat and the island has a police station.
The volcano, known as Barren 1, is located 135km north-east of
the capital Port Blair and last erupted in 1996.
It runs about 150 fathoms under the sea and usually gives off smoke.
M M Mukherjee of the Geological Survey of India said the volcano
presented little real danger.
"The risk is minimised because it is surrounded by the sea
so if at all there is a lava flow it will roll off into the sea,"
The Andamans has reported a series of major aftershocks daily since
the massive undersea earthquake off Sumatra.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located near a zone of intense
A second volcano, called Narcondam and considered dormant, lies
close to Barren Island, which also erupted in 1991 after more than
a century of inactivity.
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