Saturday, January 8, 2005

The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity 

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Reds Under The Bed part II


The Communist threat that fueled the grand deception that was the "cold war" has been rehashed and is currently playing as the "terrorist" threat for the new millennium, the screenplay writers, directors and producers however, remain unchanged. If it were a Hollywood blockbuster it would be called "Reds under the bed part II - this time it's religious".

Essentially we are talking about the bogeyman; an all pervasive yet extremely elusive menace to the individual and collective lives and liberties of American and "free people" everywhere. The concept is fairly simple and has been used to great effect throughout the centuries by countless "leaders" who understood very well the benefits to the continuance of their positions of power that a manufactured threat to the populace offered. It is only through their ignorance of history (which of course is actively promoted by everything from the education system to the media) that so few are able to see that it appears to repeat itself endlessly.

The current incarnation of the bogeyman, however, has been designed in such a way that it includes a clash, not only of political ideologies, but also religions and indeed civilisations.

Such has been the success of this devious plot that, in the mind of the average brainwashed American with fundamentalist Christian leanings, Saddam, Osama (they were buddies don't ya know), and the Muslim religion in general, have been combined into a single overarching threat to the false identity cherished by millions of "true blue" Americans. A perfect example is to be found in the comments in an article on Thursday's Signs page made by a mother who recently lost her son in Iraq:

"If we'd waited any longer [to invade Iraq], I would be wearing a burka."

The mind-set betrayed by this comment is frightening and highlights the depth of the illusion into which many Americans have fallen. When the beliefs of millions of people and that which constitutes actual reality diverge to such an extent, their fate no longer rests in their own hands. Surfing around, we found an interesting blog with a quote from Wilhelm Reich that sums it up nicely:

What amazes us is the sudden turn from the rational beginning to the irrational illusion. Irrationality and illusion are revealed by the intolerance and cruelty with which they are expressed. We observe that human thought systems show tolerance as long as they adhere to reality. The more the thought process is removed from reality, the more intolerance and cruelty are needed to guarantee its continued existence. [ Ether, God and Devil, Wilhelm Reich]

Indeed, it seems that, taken to extremes, illusion, intolerance and cruelty begin to form a negative feedback loop, each fueling and exacerbating the other. An extremely prejudiced and/or confused mind is required to believe that, in murdering innocent Iraqi civilians, American troops are doing "God's work". Once the illusion has been embraced as truth, it must be actively maintained and defended against the encroachment of objective reality.

In the case of the pro-war lobby, the illusion is that "Muslim terrorists attacked us and hate us because of our freedom and democracy". The result is that we find many otherwise rational and reasonable people urging on their brave troops and clamouring for more and more shedding of the blood of the innocents.

The position in which many Americans find themselves is perhaps akin to that of Shakespeare's Macbeth when, in a moment of lucidity, the protagonist, realising the full implications of his actions, resigns himself to his fate with the words: "I am in blood steeped so far that to go back would be as tedious as to go o'er". But then again, we doubt that there is anything lucid about the thinking of most Bush supporters. They are simply unthinking pawns in a greater game, cattle to be herded and ultimately used for the gratification and aggrandisement of their masters.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the overthrow of Pol Pot, the blood-thirsty Khmer Rouge dictator who ruled Cambodia and butchered hundreds of thousands of civilians in the four short years of his reign from 1975-79. Yes, he was one of many such despots that have ruled throughout the ages, but few people are aware of the real reasons for his rise to power and the role that the US government and its agencies played in the making of the Cambodian nightmare. By denying people access to the facts they are also denied the opportunity to understand the truth of our reality and those people that attempt to define it for us all.

The truth is that, under the guise of fighting the threat of Communism, the policies of the Nixon administration and their British allies directly facilitated the rise of Pol Pot in an effort to increase their geopolitical influence in SE Asia. As with every such action before and since, the goal was to dominate as much of the planet and its inhabitants as possible. In "poor" countries, far from the seat of US power and the eyes of the US public, the direct and bloody approach can be employed. At home, the existence of the newly established dictator or bogeyman is used as evidence that the threat to life and liberty is still very much alive, perpetuating the "clash of civilisations" myth and ensuring public support for further aggression.

With the current "Arab terrorist" threat we are witnessing the final incarnation of a tried and tested strategy for the manipulation of the masses. This time however, we are not merely facing yet another repeat of bloodshed and carnage on the scale of times past, but rather the events that will likely lead to the destruction of humanity as we know it.

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'I want to make my country safe for my people'

Friday January 7, 2005

On the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of Pol Pot, Aki Ra describes a life of brutalisation as a child soldier, and his work clearing the landmines that are the Khmer Rouge's legacy

I am not sure of my exact birth date but an old teacher told me I was born in about 1973 in Siem Reap province, northwest Cambodia. My parents were separated soon after, living in villages three miles apart. I grew up with about 10 other children, working long hours in the fields pulling ploughs as the Khmer Rouge did not allow machinery. We ate mainly rice soup and quickly became undernourished.

My father, who used to be a teacher, was given a job building roads under Pol Pot's regime. Underfed and overworked, he soon became ill. He was admitted to hospital and given "medicine"; tablets made of rabbit droppings and IV serum which was just root-stained water. Consequently, he was still sick and starving 10 days later. He was finally given a bowl of nutritious soup which he ate quickly. But after finishing it, he was accused of lying about being ill, taken away and killed as punishment.

From then on, whenever I was ill, I was scared to tell anyone as I knew what would happen.

My mother collected sewage from houses, which was used as fertiliser. If a house did not have any sewage, the people would be tortured as punishment so my mother told them to make fake sewage from mud and water. She was promoted to tailor and rice rationer and the only time I saw my mother was when she brought me food. Guards always accompanied her but when they were not looking she would sneak people more rice. In return, they would give her small animals to take to sick people. It was a simple system of helping each other to survive.

One day my mother was caught calling out to an old man who was about to trip over. The Khmer Rouge took her away and said they were sending her to "school". Education was severely frowned upon by the regime and if you went to school, you never came back. Consequently, as a child, I was terrified of "school".

Everybody lived in a state of virtual starvation. Sometimes my friends and I would sneak out at night to eat small animals and insects. One day, my friend went to the pig trough and ate some scraps. The next morning when the Khmer Rouge did their faeces check, they noticed one lot was different and asked whose it was. My friend said it was the pigs' but his footprints gave him away, he was accused of lying and killed.

One man who stole a banana from a tree was disembowelled in front of his family, who were made to cheer and clap. Crying was considered a crime of weakness. Celebration was also demanded at the weekly village meeting where those who had been bad, and so regarded as the enemy, would have their throats slit slowly with palm fronds.

One night, when I was peeing in the long grass at the side of the road, I saw about 150 people being marched to the killing fields at Ta Yet, 25 miles north of Siem Reap. They were teachers, doctors, artists, musicians and students, all considered as the enemy. After my parents were killed, when I was five, I was brought up by the Khmer Rouge. They controlled the minds of many orphaned children through fear and the only formal education I received was being taught one letter of the Khmer alphabet each week. I thought the whole world existed as we did and the brutality, hardship, starvation and guns became my normal world.

At the age of 10, I was given my first gun. The AK-47 was about the same size as me so I struggled to carry it over my shoulder. I learned to shoot by aiming at fruit, small animals and fish. There was a huge stock of guns to choose from and I could also use rocket launchers, mortars and bazookas. These weapons were like toys to us children and we often played games with them. One friend shot himself in the head accidentally because he did not understand how the gun worked.

The Vietnamese army came to Cambodia in 1979 but did not reach Siem Reap until 1983, when I was learning how to set and detonate mines. We applied all sorts of tactics to fight them. Once we made a pot of soup laced with poison from a tree. As the enemy approached, we ran away and the Vietnamese, happy with their easy victory, ate the soup to celebrate. As they began to fall ill from the poison, we returned to camp and killed them.

However, after a few days of intense fighting, the Vietnamese sent in tanks. The Khmer Rouge attacked with machine guns, rocket launchers and mortars and when the tanks stopped, the soldiers approached, thinking they had been immobilised. But the tanks moved again, opening fire and killing everyone. Fortunately, I had run into the jungle to hide. But Vietnamese soldiers hidden there captured me at gunpoint and took me away to join many other child conscripts at a camp near Angkor Wat.

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Pol Pot: U.S. Ally

Eat The State

With the on-again-off-again story of Pol Pot's capture and Hun Sen's coup in Cambodia, we've been witnessing a resurgence of the standard erroneous account of the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s. According to conventional reports from the Associated Press and The New York Times, Pol Pot was responsible for the death of "up to a million" or "as many as two million" Cambodians during his four year reign from 1975 to 1979.

The conventional account has received a pretty thorough critique and debunking from Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman in volume two of "The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism," and "Manufacturing Consent" (the book, not the movie). They point out that the numbers of deaths were inflated by reporters and editors who displayed little regard for accuracy. Much of the devastation and death in Cambodia was due to famine and disease, factors whose origins could be traced to the massive U.S. bombing and the subsequent U.S.-led international blockade of that country during the 1970s.

Cambodian scholars have determined that the actual number of deaths was closer to 500,000-700,000. Of those, only a fraction were political murders. Most of the political killings were the result of fighting between factions of the Cambodian Communist party, one side loyal to Pol Pot and traditionally based in the Northwestern and Southern provinces of Cambodia, the other aligned closely with Vietnam and based in the Eastern provinces of the country. In the initial stages of the Pol Pot regime, most of the "revenge killings" occurred in the Northwest provinces, which had traditionally been a staging area for CIA-funded death squad activity dating from the early 1950s. The history of CIA involvement in Cambodia dates back much earlier than the Vietnam war, yet none of this history (and its murderous impact on Cambodian politics) is part of the public record.

The ABC Nightline airing last week of a tape of Pol Pot's trial was a stomach-turning exercise in smugness; no context given, only the trial, a few interviews with Cambodians angry at the legacy of murder, and Ted Koppel's feeble attempts at teleprompted profundity. There was no sense (naturally) that the U.S. had any role in the drama other than that of appalled bystander and provider of humanitarian relief.

What's missing? The secret and illegal U.S. bombing of Cambodia. The history of CIA incursions into Cambodia in the years prior to and during the Vietnam War. And, the more recent, much more chilling, and equally invisible history: U.S. arms manufacturers and Thai businessmen funneling money and weapons to the Khmer Rouge during the 1980s to destabilize the Vietnamese-backed Hun Sen regime and terrorize the peasant population of Cambodia.

The 1980s was a booming decade for the Khmer Rouge. They formed a bloody partnership with Prince Norodom Ranariddh's royalist troops and terrorized the Cambodian countryside, kidnapping journalists, tourists, students, and government officials. To finance their rampages, they sold logging and mining rights to Thai businessmen in the areas they controlled. In 1992, in an effort to keep the Khmer Rouge from power, the isolated Hun Sen government invited the United Nations to supervise general elections-- widely hailed as the historic first U.N. "peacekeeping" mission. Meanwhile, the U.S. insisted that the Khmer Rouge be seated in the U.N. as the "legitimate" Cambodian government.

Even while U.N. troops occupied Cambodia, journalists wondered (but not too loudly) whether the Khmer Rouge should be allowed to join the elections, join the new government in some capacity, or whether they should be "eliminated," an activity that didn't fit well with the U.N.'s role of "peacemaker." Instead of resolving the issue, the U.N. simply ignored the Khmer Rouge entirely, asking them only to maintain a cease- fire and not disrupt the elections. Many politicians pointed out that, because the Khmer Rouge fought side-by-side with Prince Ranariddh's troops throughout the 80s, they were simply biding their time, hoping that Ranariddh would win the elections and invite them into the new government as his personal military force. As recently as this month, Hun Sen revived this argument to justify his coup. In truth, Cambodia has become the spoils for corrupt, power-hungry politicians and murderers from all parts of the political spectrum. The precedent was set with U.S. influence, U.S. money, U.S. weapons, and U.S.-spilt blood.

Cambodia's infrastructure has been destroyed by three decades of war. Any attempt to raise this issue in the press and in U.S. society in general will, in all likelihood, be seen as the ravings of demented lunatics who sympathize with, or apologize for, a monster, whether it be Pol Pot or Hun Sen. Thinking of mass murderers as monsters, rather than as rational (if ruthless) politicians, is a favorite technique for people who prefer to imagine that they themselves could never be implicated in similar sorts of crimes--even if all the historical evidence indicates that we already are.

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Supporting Pol Pot

Excerpted from the book "Rogue State A Guide to the World's Only Superpower" by William Blum

The Killing Fields...the borders sealed, the cities emptied at gunpoint, a forced march to the countryside...being a professional, knowing a foreign language, wearing eyeglasses, almost anything, might be cause enough for persecution, execution...or the overwork will kill you, or a beating, or the hunger, or disease. For whatever reason: shortage of food, creation of an agrarian society impervious to the economic world order, internal party power, security...well over a million dead at the hands of the Cambodian Communist Party, the Khmer Rouge, under Pol Pot, after ousting the US-supported regime of Lon Nol...the world is horrified, comparisons to the Nazi genocide mushroom, "worse than Hitler" is Pol Pot...

Four years later, January 1979, Vietnam-responding to years of attacks by the Khmer Rouge against ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia and cross-border raids into Vietnam itself-invaded what was now called Kampuchea, overthrew Pol Pot's government, and installed a government friendly to Vietnam. The Khmer Rouge forces retreated to the western end of Cambodia, by the border with Thailand, and later some set up camp in Thailand itself.

Washington's reaction was not any kind of elation that the Cambodian nightmare had come to an end, but rather undisguised displeasure that the hated Vietnamese were in control and credited with ousting the terrible Khmer Rouge. For years afterwards, the United States condemned Vietnam's actions as "illegal". A lingering bitterness by American cold warriors against the small nation which monumental US power could not defeat appears to be the only explanation for this attitude. Humiliation runs deep, particularly when you're the world's only superpower.

Thus it was that an American policy took root-to provide the Khmer Rouge with food, financial aid and military aid beginning soon after their ouster. The aim, in conjunction with China and long-time American client state, Thailand, was to restore Pol Pot's troops to military capability as the only force which could make the Vietnamese withdraw their army, leading to the overthrow of the Cambodian government.

President Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has stated that in the spring of 1979: "I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. I encouraged the Thai to help the [Khmer Rouge]. The question was how to help the Cambodian people.[sic] Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him. But China could." [...]

In the 1979-81 period, the World Food Program, which was strongly under US influence, gave almost $12 million in food to the Thai Army to distribute to predominantly Khmer Rouge camps by the border.
In 1982, trying to remove the smell from the Khmer Rouge, the United States put together a coalition composed of the Khmer Rouge and two "non-communist" groups also opposed to the Cambodian government, one headed by former Cambodian ruler, Prince Sihanouk.
The coalition became the recipient of much aid from the US and China, mainly funneled through Thailand. The American aid, by the late 1980s, reached $5 million officially, with the CIA providing between $20 and $24 million behind Congress's back. The aid was usually referred to as "non-lethal" or "humanitarian", but any aid freed up other money to purchase military equipment in the world's arms markets. Officially, Washington was not providing any of this aid to the Khmer Rouge, but it knew full well that Pol Pot's forces were likely to be the ultimate beneficiaries. As one US official put it: "Of course, if the coalition wins, the Khmer Rouge will eat the others alive". In any event, the CIA and the Chinese were supplying arms directly as well to the Khmer Rouge.

The Khmer Rouge were meanwhile using this aid to regularly attack Cambodian villages, seed minefields, kill peasants and make off with their rice and cattle. But they never seriously threatened the Phnom Penh government.

The United States also successfully defended the right of the Khmer Rouge to the United Nations' Cambodian seat, although their government had ceased to exist in January 1979. They held the seat until 1993. Beginning in 1982, the seat ostensibly represented the coalition, but the chief UN representative, Thiounn Prasith, was a leading apologist for Pol Pot's horrendous crimes and played a major role in their cover up. When asked by Newsweek about reports that a million Cambodians had perished under Pol Pot's rule, he said: "We estimate between 10,000 and 20,000 persons were killed, 80 per cent of them by Vietnamese agents who infiltrated our government."

During the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the United States pressed for the dismantling of the Cambodian government and the inclusion of the Khmer Rouge in an interim government and in elections, despite still-lingering revulsion against Pol Pot and his followers amongst the Cambodian people and the international community, and despite the fact that the Vietnamese withdrew virtually all their forces from Cambodia in September 1989.

"The death of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot has again brought to international attention one of the most tragic chapters of inhumanity in the twentieth century-senior Khmer Rouge, who exercised leadership from 1975 to 1979, are still at large and share responsibility for the monstrous human rights abuses committed during this period. We must not permit the death of the most notorious of the Khmer Rouge leaders to deter us from the equally important task of bringing these others to justice."
President William Clinton, April 16, 1998

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How Thatcher gave Pol Pot a Hand

New Statesman (UK)
17 April 2000
John Pilger

Almost two million Cambodians died as a result of Year Zero. John Pilger argues that, without the complicity of the US and Britain, it may never have happened

On 17 April, it is 25 years since Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh. In the calendar of fanaticism, this was Year Zero; as many as two million people, a fifth of Cambodia's population, were to die as a consequence. To mark the anniversary, the evil of Pol Pot will be recalled, almost as a ritual act for voyeurs of the politically dark and inexplicable. For the managers of western power, no true lessons will be drawn, because no connections will be made to them and to their predecessors, who were Pol Pot's Faustian partners. Yet, without the complicity of the west, Year Zero might never have happened, nor the threat of its return maintained for so long.

Declassified United States government documents leave little doubt that the secret and illegal bombing of then neutral Cambodia by President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger between 1969 and 1973 caused such widespread death and devastation that it was critical in Pol Pot's drive for power. "They are using damage caused by B52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda," the CIA director of operations reported on 2 May 1973. "This approach has resulted in the successful recruitment of young men. Residents say the propaganda campaign has been effective with refugees in areas that have been subject to B52 strikes." In dropping the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on a peasant society, Nixon and Kissinger killed an estimated half a million people. Year Zero began, in effect, with them; the bombing was a catalyst for the rise of a small sectarian group, the Khmer Rouge, whose combination of Maoism and medievalism had no popular base.

After two and a half years in power, the Khmer Rouge was overthrown by the Vietnamese on Christmas Day, 1978. In the months and years that followed, the US and China and their allies, notably the Thatcher government, backed Pol Pot in exile in Thailand. He was the enemy of their enemy: Vietnam, whose liberation of Cambodia could never be recognised because it had come from the wrong side of the cold war. For the Americans, now backing Beijing against Moscow, there was also a score to be settled for their humiliation on the rooftops of Saigon.

To this end, the United Nations was abused by the powerful. Although the Khmer Rouge government ("Democratic Kampuchea") had ceased to exist in January 1979, its representatives were allowed to continue occupying Cambodia's seat at the UN; indeed, the US, China and Britain insisted on it. Meanwhile, a Security Council embargo on Cambodia compounded the suffering of a traumatised nation, while the Khmer Rouge in exile got almost everything it wanted. In 1981, President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said: "I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot." The US, he added, "winked publicly" as China sent arms to the Khmer Rouge.

In fact, the US had been secretly funding Pol Pot in exile since January 1980. The extent of this support - $85m from 1980 to 1986 - was revealed in correspondence to a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On the Thai border with Cambodia, the CIA and other intelligence agencies set up the Kampuchea Emergency Group, which ensured that humanitarian aid went to Khmer Rouge enclaves in the refugee camps and across the border. Two American aid workers, Linda Mason and Roger Brown, later wrote: "The US government insisted that the Khmer Rouge be fed . . . the US preferred that the Khmer Rouge operation benefit from the credibility of an internationally known relief operation." Under American pressure, the World Food Programme handed over $12m in food to the Thai army to pass on to the Khmer Rouge; "20,000 to 40,000 Pol Pot guerillas benefited," wrote Richard Holbrooke, the then US assistant secretary of state.

I witnessed this. Travelling with a UN convoy of 40 trucks, I drove to a Khmer Rouge operations base at Phnom Chat. The base commander was the infamous Nam Phann, known to relief workers as "The Butcher" and Pol Pot's Himmler. After the supplies had been unloaded, literally at his feet, he said: "Thank you very much, and we wish for more."

In November of that year, 1980, direct contact was made between the White House and the Khmer Rouge when Dr Ray Cline, a former deputy director of the CIA, made a secret visit to a Khmer Rouge operational headquarters. Cline was then a foreign policy adviser on President-elect Reagan's transitional team. By 1981, a number of governments had become decidedly uneasy about the charade of the UN's continuing recognition of the defunct Pol Pot regime. Something had to be done. The following year, the US and China invented the Coalition of the Democratic Government of Kampuchea, which was neither a coalition nor democratic, nor a government, nor in Kampuchea (Cambodia). It was what the CIA calls "a master illusion". Prince Norodom Sihanouk was appointed its head; otherwise little changed. The two "non-communist" members, the Sihanoukists, led by the Prince's son, Norodom Ranariddh, and the Khmer People's National Liberation Front, were dominated, diplomatically and militarily, by the Khmer Rouge. One of Pol Pot's closet cronies, Thaoun Prasith, ran the office at the UN in New York.

In Bangkok, the Americans provided the "coalition" with battle plans, uniforms, money and satellite intelligence; arms came direct from China and from the west, via Singapore. The non-communist fig leaf allowed Congress - spurred on by a cold-war zealot Stephen Solarz, a powerful committee chairman - to approve $24m in aid to the "resistance".

Until 1989, the British role in Cambodia remained secret. The first reports appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, written by Simon O'Dwyer-Russell, a diplomatic and defence correspondent with close professional and family contacts with the SAS. He revealed that the SAS was training the Pol Pot-led force. Soon afterwards, Jane's Defence Weekly reported that the British training for the "non-communist" members of the "coalition" had been going on "at secret bases in Thailand for more than four years". The instructors were from the SAS, "all serving military personnel, all veterans of the Falklands conflict, led by a captain".

The Cambodian training became an exclusively British operation after the "Irangate" arms-for-hostages scandal broke in Washington in 1986. "If Congress had found out that Americans were mixed up in clandestine training in Indo-China, let alone with Pol Pot," a Ministry of Defence source told O'Dwyer-Russell, "the balloon would have gone right up. It was one of those classic Thatcher-Reagan arrangements." Moreover, Margaret Thatcher had let slip, to the consternation of the Foreign Office, that "the more reasonable ones in the Khmer Rouge will have to play some part in a future government". In 1991, I interviewed a member of "R" (reserve) Squadron of the SAS, who had served on the border. "We trained the KR in a lot of technical stuff - a lot about mines," he said. "We used mines that came originally from Royal Ordnance in Britain, which we got by way of Egypt with marking changed . . . We even gave them psychological training. At first, they wanted to go into the villages and just chop people up. We told them how to go easy . . ."

The Foreign Office response was to lie. "Britain does not give military aid in any form to the Cambodian factions," stated a parliamentary reply. The then prime minister, Thatcher, wrote to Neil Kinnock: "I confirm that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with Khmer Rouge forces or those allied to them." On 25 June 1991, after two years of denials, the government finally admitted that the SAS had been secretly training the "resistance" since 1983. A report by Asia Watch filled in the detail: the SAS had taught "the use of improvised explosive devices, booby traps and the manufacture and use of time-delay devices". The author of the report, Rae McGrath (who shared a joint Nobel Peace Prize for the international campaign on landmines), wrote in the Guardian that "the SAS training was a criminally irresponsible and cynical policy".

When a UN "peacekeeping force" finally arrived in Cambodia in 1992, the Faustian pact was never clearer. Declared merely a "warring faction", the Khmer Rouge was welcomed back to Phnom Penh by UN officials, if not the people. The western politician who claimed credit for the "peace process", Gareth Evans (then Australia's foreign minister), set the tone by calling for an "even-handed" approach to the Khmer Rouge and questioning whether calling it genocidal was "a specific stumbling block".

Khieu Samphan, Pol Pot's prime minister during the years of genocide, took the salute of UN troops with their commander, the Australian general John Sanderson, at his side. Eric Falt, the UN spokesman in Cambodia, told me: "The peace process was aimed at allowing [the Khmer Rouge] to gain respectability."

The consequence of the UN's involvement was the unofficial ceding of at least a quarter of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge (according to UN military maps), the continuation of a low-level civil war and the election of a government impossibly divided between "two prime ministers": Hun Sen and Norodom Ranariddh.

The Hun Sen government has since won a second election outright. Authoritarian and at times brutal, yet by Cambodian standards extraordinarily stable, the government led by a former Khmer Rouge dissident, Hun Sen, who fled to Vietnam in the 1970s, has since done deals with leading figures of the Pol Pot era, notably the breakaway faction of Ieng Sary, while denying others immunity from prosecution.

Once the Phnom Penh government and the UN can agree on its form, an international war crimes tribunal seems likely to go ahead. The Americans want the Cambodians to play virtually no part; their understandable concern is that not only the Khmer Rouge will be indicted.

The Cambodian lawyer defending Ta Mok, the Khmer Rouge military leader captured last year, has said: "All the foreigners involved have to be called to court, and there will be no exceptions . . . Madeleine Albright, Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Bush . . . we are going to invite them to tell the world why they supported the Khmer Rouge."

It is an important principle, of which those in Washington and Whitehall currently sustaining bloodstained tyrannies elsewhere might take note.

Comment: The fact is that the life of the individual cannot be disassociated from the actions of the people that provide the infrastructure of that life.

Ideally we would only be beholden to our leaders (and by leaders we mean those seen AND unseen) for the details of our exterior lives, such as social and economic welfare. The reality however is that today the very thoughts that we think are also the product of the manipulations of our leaders, with the real kicker being that we don't even realise it, since the thoughts we use to think about our thoughts are not our own. Catch 22 or what? The first step in breaking this cycle is the most important and therefore the most difficult, but once it is made progress has a chance to follow. Seek out your most sacred cow, the one thing on which your entire world view rests, and challenge it.

Recently we read an analysis of the current state of American politics and society which was, from a certain standpoint, incisive and accurate. However, in the article the author comments that:

"Everyone wants a peaceful return to the American way of life, but in the light of recent events, and the preparations being made by the government, it seems doubtful that a peaceful return to freedom and democracy is still possible. The only viable option we have is one we would rather not consider, but like it or not, Americans will once again have to fight for their freedom, or see it vanish completely.

The problem with this perspective is that it assumes that the noble ideals that America was founded upon actually were in the hearts of the ruling classes who set them up and proclaimed them so widely to the masses of average Americans. The facts strongly suggest that the American system was actually predicated upon the abuse and exploitation of others. While a belief in the principles of the "American way of Life" is certainly commendable and many people are motivated by genuinely honest and noble ideals, they can have no chance of truly living such ideals when they continue to live in and support a system that was set up to thwart the realisation of those ideals at every turn. Until we truly understand that we ourselves are a major part of the problem there will be no freedom.

If we are to know the truth we must be prepared to give ALL for it. Nothing short of a radical and complete overhaul of our systems of belief about life and its meaning will suffice. But where to start? Well, try the mainstream media for example...

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Administration Paid Commentator

Sat Jan 8,12:00 AM ET
By Howard Kurtz, Washington Post Staff Writer

The Education Department paid commentator Armstrong Williams $241,000 to help promote President Bush's No Child Left Behind law on the air, an arrangement that Williams acknowledged yesterday involved "bad judgment" on his part.

In taking the money, funneled through the Ketchum Inc. public relations firm, Williams produced and aired a commercial on his syndicated television and radio shows featuring Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige, touted Bush's education policy, and urged other programs to interview Paige. He did not disclose the contract when talking about the law during cable television appearances or writing about it in his newspaper column.

Congressional Democrats immediately accused the administration of trying to bribe journalists. Williams's newspaper syndicate, Tribune Media Services, yesterday canceled his column. And one television network dropped his program pending an investigation.

Williams, one of the most prominent black conservatives in the media, said he understands "why some people think it's unethical." Asked if people would be justified in thinking he sold his opinions to the government for cash, he said: "It's fair for someone to make that assessment."

Comment: Williams is not saying that he thinks it is unethical, he only understands why someone else might think so.

The Education Department contract, first reported yesterday by USA Today, increased criticism of the administration's aggressive approach to news management. The department already has paid Ketchum $700,000 to rate journalists on how positively or negatively they report on No Child Left Behind, and to produce a video release on the law that was used by some television stations as if it were real news. Other government agencies -- including the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- also have distributed such prepackaged videos, a practice that congressional auditors have described as illegal in some cases.

The Williams incident follows a series of other media embarrassments in the past 18 months involving such high-profile outlets as the New York Times, USA Today and CBS News that have further eroded the credibility of the news business.

Rep. George Miller (news, bio, voting record) (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House education committee, said the Williams contract "is propaganda, it's unethical, it's dangerous and it's illegal" and called it "worthy of Pravda." Committee Chairman John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed to join Miller in requesting an inspector general's investigation, a spokesman said.

Miller cited two Government Accountability Office opinions that the administration violated federal law with video news releases. In May, the GAO criticized the Department of Health and Human Services for using the technique to promote Medicare's new prescription drug benefit. This week, it criticized the Office of National Drug Control Policy for distributing similar reports with a contractor posing as a journalist, including a "suggested live intro" for anchors to read.

Miller, joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats, asked Bush in a letter to put an end to "covert propaganda."

In a separate letter, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) asked the president to recover the money paid to Williams. "We believe that the act of bribing journalists to bias their news in favor of government policies undermines the integrity of our democracy," they wrote.

The Education Department defended the contract, which Paige knew about in advance, as a minority outreach effort through Williams's syndicated program, "The Right Side."

"Our contract was for advertising," said department spokesman John Gibbons. "Our intent was to reach out to minority audiences. Armstrong went out and talked about it -- we didn't have anything to do with that."

Comment: "Hey, us? We didn't do anything wrong."

But the contract also required Williams to "utilize his long term working relationship" with black producers to "encourage" them to "periodically address the No Child Left Behind Act."

"Our objective was to put out basic information to audiences. . . . We certainly had no intention to do it in an underhanded way," Gibbons added. He said the department stopped putting out video news releases after the first GAO report and has no other contract involving payments to journalists. Ketchum executives declined to comment.

Comment: "Hey, us? We didn't do anything wrong. We just wanted to educate those black folks."

Alex Jones, director of Harvard's Shorenstein media center, said he is "disgusted" by what he called "the worst kind of fakery and flackery" on Williams's part. "It's propaganda masquerading as news, paid by government, truly a recipe from hell," he said. "It would make any thinking person hearing any pundit speak want to say, 'Okay, how much did they pay you to say that?' " Jones said the contract also shows that "the Bush administration neither understands nor respects the idea of an independent media."

Williams, a onetime aide to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is the founder and chief executive of the Graham Williams Group, a public relations firm on Capitol Hill, and, according to his Web site, a "multi-media wonder." He frequently discusses politics on CNN and other networks and on his own radio show. "The Right Side," owned and hosted by Williams, is carried by the Lynchburg, Va.-based Liberty Channel, which is affiliated with Jerry Falwell; Sky Angel satellite network, a Christian organization; and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

His other show, "On Point" -- on which Williams interviewed Paige last year, as well as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice -- is carried by TV One, a Silver Spring-based network aimed at African Americans. Williams said he had disclosed his contract to TV One, but chief executive Johnathon Rodgers said the network knew nothing about it and has taken the show off the air while it investigates.

"As a former journalist, I'm bothered by things like this -- people being in the pay of various political groups and pressing their messages without a declaration," Rodgers said.

As a longtime supporter of No Child Left Behind, Williams said, he was receptive in the summer of 2003 when Education Department and Ketchum officials approached him about buying an ad on "The Right Side" to promote the law. Although he "agonized" over the first of two six-month contracts, he said, the law "is something I believe in."

Williams said he aired the spot twice on each "Right Side" broadcast and disclosed the contract on that show. He said he successfully urged another black television personality, Steve Harvey, to twice interview Paige.

Williams has written several newspaper columns defending administration education policy. Last January, he wrote that the No Child Left Behind law "has provided more funds to poor children than any other education bill in this country's history." In May, he wrote that the law "holds entire schools accountable."

Chicago-based Tribune Media Services dropped Williams's column yesterday, saying he had violated his contract. "Accepting compensation in any form from an entity that serves as a subject of his weekly newspaper columns creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest," prompting readers to ask whether his opinions "have been purchased by a third party," a company statement said.

In October, Williams praised the law on CNN. He "didn't disclose to us that he was a paid spokesman, and we believe he should have," said CNN spokesman Matthew Furman. "We will obviously take that into serious consideration before booking Armstrong in the future."

Williams said he will not accept such government contracts again.

Spokesmen for other federal agencies acknowledged yesterday that they also have distributed prepackaged video news releases. Last March, the Census Bureau sent out a video release to trumpet Women's History Month. "Women are breaking the gender barrier in one field after another," contractor Karen Ryan, who produced and narrated the videos, said, citing a Census Bureau analysis. The story included comments by Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record) (R-Maine) and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and ended with the sign-off: "I'm Karen Ryan reporting."

Census officials said yesterday that they no longer distribute tapes that could be broadcast as complete news stories.

As recently as October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shipped a video package on the flu vaccine that mimics a real news report. Spokesman Tom Skinner said he expects broadcasters to use the information as components of their own stories.

Comment: For other examples of the Bush Administration's "news management", as the article so delicately puts it, read the following article by Josh Marshall. But first we would like to consider another aspect of "news management".

The period prior to the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a time of outrageous lies on the part of the White House and its supporters, with ludicrous claims about the threat of Saddam that thinking people around the world knew were false at the time and that have long since been exposed as lies. You know the list: WMD, Saddam could threaten the continental US, buying uranium from Nigeria, etc. where were the American media during all of this? They were banging the drums of war and serving the neocons with the servility of Pravda serving the Communist Party.

Pravda, at least, openly proclaimed itself the organ of the CPSU.

The links between the American networks and Washington are all hidden behind pious lies about the freedom of the press. The CIA has boasted that it has agents throughout the US media, and that doesn't count the direct connections between the CIA and the owners of the media. We have discussed these connections before. Today, we would like to bring in another aspect: the alternative news.

It would be naive to think that US intelligence agencies, and other spooks from other countries, do not set up, fund, and support sites and discussion forums on the web that pretend to deliver a different vision on the news. We probably have no real understanding of just how deeply the social manipulation goes. We know from our work on the Cosmic Cointelpro Timeline that the CIA has been involved in remote viewing, mind control, hallucinogenic drugs, channeling and other forms of New Age fantasy. The Stargate Conspiracy by Picknett and Prince discusses other aspects of the links between Rockefeller money and the occult.

Is it not obvious that the same spooks who have used the New Age as one form of social control and experiment would be among the first to get into the new technology of the web and websites?

Our world is much stranger than many people will admit. From UFOs to crop circles and the wide variety of phenomena that is called Fortean, there are many things happening on our planet each day that science can't explain. Pulling on this thread can lead to the ultimate discovery, that we are an experiment, that our planet is a chicken coup owned by beings from a higher realm - and we lay the eggs. Admittedly, this claim is hard to believe. Most people would prefer to believe that Saddam had WMD's and was behind the attacks of 9/11 than to even consider that we are someone else's cattle.

Because there are large numbers of people that are open to these ideas, who have had personal experiences with UFOs, who have lived some form of anomalous event in their lives, there is a great need on their part for more information, for data that can help them put these experiences into context. However, because it is precisely these issues than can lead one to the understanding of the real nature of our existence, and such a realization would bring down governments and power structures the world over, it is on such issues that the disinformation machine must go into overdrive.

Hence the need for disinformation sites masquerading as alternative news sites.

The other problem is that it is very difficult to negotiate one's way through the maze of anomalous reports and disinformation. How to tell the difference? Especially when the true is intertwined so carefully with the false. Think back to last spring's Aussie Bloke hoax. There appeared on a discussion board a message which claimed to be from an Australian astronomer predicting three massive cometary impacts on the earth at the end of June. As the weeks went by and the deadline approached, it became a veritable tsunami of disinformation breaking over the globe. When nothing happened, not only does Aussie Bloke get exposed as a hoax, but the entire idea of the danger of cometary impact is associated with the hoax. A very real danger becomes marginalized.

The other trouble is that these sites may mix such stories with good material on their sites so that everything becomes suspect, even the truth. The discerning reader may have trouble sorting out the good from the bad while the undiscerning reader, of whom there are far more, take it all in and construct an image of the world based upon lies. Having accepted that fact that the world is strange, they are willing to accept anything and everything that confirms their opinion. They may be waiting for Space Brothers to come and rescue mankind at the last minute, or may be expecting the Second Coming of Jesus, not the one who is going to come and save Bush, but the "real" Jesus who will save those who see through Bush's wolf skin.

So as always, we advise Caveat Lector! Use your critical capacities and ability to reason when you read the news, no matter where it comes from. Think for yourselves. Question your sources -- including this page. There may come a day when the net goes down, when the wide variety of sources we have at our disposal are no longer available. When that happens, we'll each be on our own to make sense of the events around us.

If you have ideas about some of the material you read here, if you think you have something that can deepen our understanding, that can help us see part of the picture that we have not yet uncovered, then contribute your ideas to the Signs Forum by clicking on the link at the end of each article. We will only discover objective reality through the efforts of many people, all trying to cut through the illusion and to discover what lies behind the veil. This undertaking demands that we recognize the nature of the opponent and all of the tricks at its disposal, including that of the sheep in wolf's clothing.

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"Bad Judgement"
Josh Marshall
Talking Points Memo

Now that Armstrong Williams has recognized that his acceptance of a quarter million dollars to shill for the No Child Left Behind act was an instance of "bad judgment" on his part, it is presumably only a matter of time till he mounts the pulpit of Larry King Live and announces his decision to undergo a full-fledged program of journalistic ethics recovery, presumably under the guidance of some such worthy as Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Dr. Phil, or perhaps, if he turns out to need a truly thorough journalistic dunking, Tom Rosenstiel.

But once we get past Williams himself, how about this?

Everyone has quickly and rightly connected the Armstrong Williams story to earlier instances where the administration used government funds to produce pro-Bush political propaganda. There were the phony news segments produced for the Department of Education to push the No Child Left Behind Act, similar phony news segments produced for HHS to push the new Medicare law, and the Department of Education ratings system devised to rate how different news outlets ranked on No Child Left Behind act orthodoxy and the Republican party's commitment to education.

But there's something else that links all these instances together. They were all contracted through one PR firm: Ketchum.

I don't know anything about the company. Just on a lark, I looked up the political giving of the CEO, Ray Kotcher, and noticed that until 2004 he -- and what appears to be his wife -- seemed to give exclusively to Democrats. In 2004, he had a change of heart, however, and gave $15,000 to RNC. Perhaps it was the war on terror. Who knows?

In any case, with talk of investigations already in the air and House Republicans consenting at least one of the Armstrong deal, perhaps a way to narrow the focus would be to simply find out which other branches of the government Ketchum was working for and what services they provided.

Late Update: A little more digging.

There seems to be relatively little reporting on the Kentchum dimension of all these instances of the Bush administration's taxpayer-funded political propaganda. So it's hard to see just who at Ketchum or which divisions of the company were doing the work for the Bush administration. But you'd figure it'd be their Public Affairs branch or their Washington lobbying shop.

It turns out that a big part of Ketchum's Washington operation is something called The Washington Group. TWG was founded in 1997 by a three former Democratic Hill staffers. But Ketchum bought them out back in 2001 -- actually two days after President Bush's first inauguration, on January 22nd. And in the spirit of the times, Ketchum quickly began trying to help TWG bulk up on its Republican connections. In October, for instance, former Congresswoman Susan Molinari was installed as President and CEO of TWG, in order to provide the firm's clients with what Ketchum CEO Ray Kotcher described, it would seem rather presciently, as "a strong campaign-style approach to public affairs."

A year and a half later, Carlos Bonilla joined TWG as a senior vice president after leaving his post as special assistant to President George W. Bush for economic policy. "Carlos Bonilla," said Molinari when Bonilla signed on, "brings an invaluable combination of White House policy and D.C. politics to The Washington Group." In January 2004, Molinari was appointed President of Ketchum Public Affairs, a post she continues to hold in tandem with her job as CEO of TWG.

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French journalist disappears in Iraq
PARIS, Jan 6 (AFP) - French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie warned journalists to "listen to the voice of wisdom" and stay away from Iraq after a journalist from the daily Liberation went missing in Baghdad along with her Iraqi translator.

"We have had no news from Florence Aubenas in over 24 hours," nor of her assistant, Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi, the Paris-based paper said.

Aubenas, 43, and Saadi left their Baghdad hotel early Wednesday but did not return and had not been seen since, it added.

The new drama followed the four-month captivity of French reporters Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro newspaper and Christian Chesnot of Radio France Internationale, who were released by
insurgents in Iraq on December 12.

"The situation in Iraq is extremely complex," Alliot-Marie said. "There are many different groups and the voice of wisdom, as Georges Malbrunot told journalists, is to avoid going to this country at the moment, and in any case to be extremely careful about what one does."

The kidnapping and murder of foreigners in Iraq has become a frequent occurrence as rebel groups there seek to oust US and other military forces.

Malbrunot warned that the country was teeming with hostage-takers fishing for Westerners.

Alliot-Marie said the release of Malbrunot and Chesnot showed that French intelligence had a certain savoir-faire in the question of hostage-taking, and would be following up a number of leads.

The behind-the-scenes dealings by French diplomats and intelligence services that preceded their release are still shrouded in mystery. Liberation said Aubenas, an experienced reporter who had covered conflicts in Rwanda, Kosovo, Algeria, Afghanistan, arrived in Baghdad on December 16.

The newspaper said it had alerted French, Iraqi and US officials.

The French foreign ministry stressed that it had already warned "all our nationals, including media representatives, to avoid going to Iraq given the current security risks in this country."

Comment: The latest news today is that both Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi were alive and well, although being held by kidnappers. French president Jacques Chirac has also stated that it would be best for French journalists to stay out of Iraq for the moment.

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French journalists defend Iraq work
Sat Jan 8, 2005 01:27 PM GMT
PARIS (Reuters) - French journalists have defended their right to report from Iraq after President Jacques Chirac urged them to stay away following the disappearance of a journalist working for French newspaper Liberation.

The daily said on Saturday it had still not heard from Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi interpreter Al Saadi since they left a Baghdad hotel on Wednesday morning. It is not clear whether they have been kidnapped.

"The day there are no journalists in Baghdad, U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and al Qaeda representative in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will be the main sources of information," Serge July, the head of Liberation, wrote in an editorial.

"If the doors remain half open, we owe it to the handful of journalists without whom the country would become a blind area," he said under the headline "An indispensable witness".

July said Liberation always reviewed security when sending journalists to dangerous areas such as Iraq and underlined that Aubenas, 43, has plenty of experience working in danger zones. She has also reported from Rwanda, Algeria and Afghanistan.

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Policemen clash with US troops in ar-Ramadi after American soldier tries to unveil an Iraqi girl by force

Clashes erupted between US troops and Iraqi police at a US checkpoint in the center of ar-Ramadi on Monday morning. Eyewitnesses told Mafkarat al-Islam that the battles broke out at about 10am when a US solider insisted on searching a veiled Iraq girl who was with her mother. The US soldier was determined to lift her veil, claiming that Resistance fighters could disguise themselves in women’s clothing.

Witnesses reported that the Iraqi girl refused to lift the veil from her face, causing the American soldier to try to pull it off by force. At that point the Iraqi policemen intervened and clashed with the Americans, sparking a battle that lasted 15 minutes.

The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the fighting ended with the Americans arresting five members of the local police force, while four others escaped together with the mother and the Iraqi girl who was never unveiled. The stand of the ar-Ramadi policemen against the American aggressors earned them the strong sympathies of the local people.

Pushcart bomb kills seven US troops in Abu Ghurayb.

Seven US troops were killed when an Iraqi Resistance bomb blew up in a food vendor cart on the al-Bu ‘Ubayd Street in Abu Ghurayb at 9am Monday. The correspondent of Mafkarat al-Islam in Abu Ghurayb reported that US forces had earlier prohibited cars from entering al-Bu ‘Ubayd Street because it had become a frequent scene of Resistance car bomb attacks on the occupation soldiers. The last such bombing on the street took the lives of 14 American troops.

Monday morning’s bombing, therefore, involved not a car, but a pushcart. Street vendors with pushcarts are a frequent site in the Iraqi capital, and this cart, ostensibly for selling Lablabi – a local snack made of cooked hummus – aroused no suspicion. But the seemingly innocent cart blew up when a US armored vehicle came near, detonated through a telephone wire, the end of which the Americans traced to a livestock pen 200 meters away from the scene of the explosion.

But even the act of tracing the telephone wire to its end proved to be a costly bit of detective work for the Americans. Witnesses said that one US soldier was killed and another wounded when another bomb on the gate of the livestock pen exploded. The witnesses told Mafkarat al-Islam that the US troops had trouble identifying the remains of the dead American since his body parts were mingled with the body parts of one of the animals also killed in the blast.

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Tortured answers

Alberto Gonzales' performance this week didn't inspire confidence that he might break from White House ideology as attorney general.

A Times Editorial
Published January 8, 2005
St Petersburg Times

At his Senate confirmation hearing this week, Alberto Gonzales assured senators that he understood the difference between the role he has played as White House counsel and the one he would play as U.S. attorney general. "I will no longer represent only the White House," Gonzales said. "I will represent the United States of America and its people."

After seven hours of testimony and pointed questions, it seemed clear that he doesn't understand the difference at all. Gonzales' time before the Senate Judiciary Committee was spent refusing to answer direct questions, being evasive, conveniently losing his memory regarding key events, averting responsibility for controversial legal judgments that he had sought and supported, and generally failing to demonstrate any independence from the White House.

If confirmed as attorney general, which he no doubt will be, Gonzales will bear close watching. He may not be as ideologically driven as John Ashcroft, but his lapdog loyalty to the president offers little reason to believe he will disturb business as usual in this administration. That means the government will continue to hold foreign prisoners without due process, distort the reading of the Geneva Conventions, and justify the use of abusive (but ostensibly not torturous) interrogation methods - all actions that already have eroded this country's moral authority and put our own soldiers' safety at risk.

Both Republican and Democratic senators seemed frustrated at Gonzales' lack of candor and cooperation. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., bluntly told Gonzales: "We're looking for you, when we ask you questions, to give us an answer, which you haven't done yet."

Citing faulty memory, Gonzales refused to lay out the events that led to the development of a 2002 Justice Department memorandum interpreting a federal statute barring torture. The memorandum was the centerpiece of the hearing. Reports are that it had been solicited by Gonzales after the CIA sought a legal analysis on whether their agents faced criminal liability for utilizing abusive interrogation techniques. The memorandum, which was repudiated by the administration on the eve of Gonzales' hearing, said that the president could approve of torture and override any law or treaty as part of his warmaking powers. It also defined torture very narrowly and said there could be a necessity defense for its use.

While Gonzales declared that he opposed the use of torture, he refused to say whether he thought the president would be bound by a law barring it.

To other important subjects such as how a department under his leadership would handle government openness, mandatory minimum sentencing, and the death penalty, Gonzales gave pat, noncommittal responses.

All in all it was not a reassuring performance by a man who knew he would be confirmed as long as he didn't say anything outrageous. So he chose not to say anything illuminating at all.

The only encouraging sign came when Gonzales promised that, if confirmed, he would be more accessible and accountable than his predecessor. During his four years in office, Ashcroft appeared before the judiciary committee only five times and frequently refused to answer senators' questions or letters. Gonzales should be held to that commitment.

The Republican leadership in Congress, and particularly the judiciary committee chairmen, should recommit themselves to asserting oversight over the policy direction and operations of the Justice Department. Gonzales is someone who will need to be watched, not trusted.

Gonzales, like Ashcroft, seems willing to advance any position preferred by the White House - an impulse that has helped undermine the rule of law and the separation of powers. This country deserves better in its chief law enforcement officer.

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“White Man’s Burden” and the Iraq War
by Mike Whitney
January 06, 2005

“I do not agree that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place. Winston Churchill; to the Peel Commission of Inquiry 1937, defending the brutal slaughter of Palestinians in the first Intifada of 1936 “on grounds of the racial superiority of the Jews”.

One of the important topics that continues to remain off-limits in regards to Iraq is race, and the racist theology that drove the country to war. It’s odd, in a country where so much of the history is steeped in the blood of chauvinistic wars, that Americans are still hesitant to examine the reflection in the mirror. Wasn’t the nation shaped by a genocidal assault on Native Americans; killing upwards of 10 million indigenous people and decimating their culture? Or was that simply a demonstration “Manifest Destiny”; God’s sordid will expressed by dispatching people of color to their immortal reward? The same could also be said of slavery; the odious transformation of people into chattel to augment the wealth of a few plantation owners. That crime was vindicated under the rubric of “states rights”, a moniker that justified 200 years of methodical brutality and exploitation. Yes, these crimes always have their attendant rationalization.

How different is Bush’s Global Democratic Revolution: the melodious sounding euphemism for racial warfare and subjugation? Don’t deny it; the evidence is everywhere. The third world has entered Bush’s crosshairs and racist ideology is fueling the hysteria.

American liberals won’t investigate the issue of race; the cultural deterrents are far too great. Besides, many of these so-called “progressives” feed from the same trough that energizes the system. The racist component of the war on terror is the elephant in the room; the ultimate taboo that eludes all respectable public discourse. Let’s call it what it is for a change.

How many Christians are there in Guantanamo Bay? How many Jews? How many white Christians are there in Abu Ghraib, or in any other of Rumsfeld’s numerous gulags stretched out across the planet?

A survey conducted by Cornell University two weeks ago proved what many had already suspected. “Nearly half (44%) of all Americans believe that the US should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans…The survey also found that Republicans and highly religious people were more apt to support curtailing civil liberties of Muslims.” (Al Jazeera) No surprises there, but is this change a natural response to the events of 9-11, or are there other factors at work?
“Researchers also found that respondents who paid more attention to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of Muslim Americans.” (Al Jazeera)

This clearly illustrates the connection between televised media and the increasing prejudice directed at Muslims. We can debate the significance of this observation, but we cannot ignore the fact that the media is the breeding-ground for greater discrimination.

The question is whether or not the media is deliberately complicit.

The media serves as the mouthpiece for corporate America. At present, it’s using its national platform to demonize both Arabs and Muslims, a process that involves the subtle manipulation of the facts to discredit its victim. The facts are either emphasized or downplayed according to the overall objectives of ownership. In this case, ownership is foursquare behind the occupation of Iraq, a judgment that applies to all the major networks without exception. This means that the goal of American elites is shaping the news, contributing to the distortions, and creating greater antipathy towards the native people (Muslims). It’s part of the information-management strategy to elicit more support for an unpopular conflict.

As the Cornell survey proves, the overall affect of the media campaign is a steady increase of racial and sectarian division. Televised news is a virtual spawning ground for burgeoning prejudice, feeding the imagery of fanatical Muslims being tamed by the benign forces of “white” civilization. The paternalistic themes in the coverage are almost unbearable. American servicemen are invariably depicted as struggling to bring the unruly “dark skinned” locals into the ardent grasp of democracy. It’s a dubious portrait of a Father showering love on his errant children. What baloney. Iraqis don’t want our smug condescension or our cultural elitism. They just want us to leave.

The roots of racism are not hard to fathom. Both European and American cultures are built on a solid foundation of entitlement and white privilege. (Did anyone notice France backing-away when they were asked to provide troops for Haiti or Ivory Coast?) Even now, Europe’s leaders would join the onslaught in Iraq if the division of resources were to their liking. Only now, the plundering of nations and the subsequent destruction of their culture is embraced under the sobriquet of “humanitarian intervention”, a general disclaimer for the racist subjugation of third world countries.

History is really nothing more than a faithful chronicle of racist wars. The illusion of “western culture” is only perpetuated by concealing the enormous material wealth that was stolen from vulnerable, people of color. Our “civilization” is grounded on plunder, a dismal fact that neither great music nor inspiring literature can disguise.

When Mahatma Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civilization, he said, “I think it would be a good idea”. His response is as apt today as it was 50 years ago.

Churchill’s platitudes on race, “a stronger race, a higher grade race, a more worldly-wise race”, are familiar to the denizens of the Oval Office, as they are to their constituents in their leather-upholstered boardrooms and their antebellum-style country clubs across the nation. He is only reiterating what they already know. The apologists of the caste system need no reminders of its meaning; it is etched in their consciousness with the indelibility of hot iron. Their sense of entitlement is identical to Churchill’s. It’s a simple, immutable fact, as certain as the blue-blood coursing through their veins.

We’ve never veered far from prevailing doctrine of “White Man’s Burden”; the dogma that animates the imperial agenda. Iraq is just the latest chapter in this ruinous account of man’s inhumanity to man. Racism continues to be the subtext of all American politics, a tragic undercurrent of violence and injustice.  

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American Gothic: Self-Portrait with Shackles for the Year 2005
By Tom Engelhardt

Here we are, because time has some of the qualities of a tsunami, deposited in 2005, whether we like it or not. As the year changed, nature trumped the Bush administration in an appropriately, if horrifyingly Biblical way, with a preemptive strike against shorelines jammed with rich tourists and poor peasants alike. And even in the midst of the collective horror, much of what the Bush administration is, much of whom we now are becoming, showed through unbecomingly.

Only one small spot in the vast Indian Ocean basin "seems to have received full advanced warning of the waves to come -- the ostensibly British island of Diego Garcia, which is actually a sizeable U.S. military base, a stationary "aircraft carrier" for the war in Iraq. It also houses "Camp Justice," one of the secret little hideaway resorts the administration has set up, or contracted out for, on prime global real estate to hold "high value" prisoners in the war on terror. The camp, named by someone who must have had a yen for the Orwellian, is part of an offshore Bermuda Triangle of injustice set up by the Bush administration -- two interlinked prison systems, in fact; one run by the Pentagon and the other by the CIA, both meant to keep prisoners and practices far from the prying eyes of the American public and its court system; both, as it now turns out, anchored in that jewel-in-the-crown, Guantanamo (or Gitmo to devotees) -- a grim prison camp set up on territory in Cuba that is close at hand, U.S.-controlled, and yet -- or so Bush officials hoped until the Supreme Court ruled otherwise last year -- beyond the reach of our courts.

On military bases like Diego Garcia and in special military- or CIA-controlled prisons like Guantanamo, the "war on terrorism" was to be carried to its informational climax by whatever methods American intelligence officials felt might "break" whatever prisoners we had. Whether in Guantanamo, at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, on Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, on U.S. Navy ships at sea, or outsourced to the friendly jails of allied nations whose interrogators practice torture, this varied and ever developing mini-gulag was never meant to be a system of criminal imprisonment -- hence the lack of charges, no less trials of any sort, anywhere in the imperium. It was to be an eternal holding operation for "World War IV," the war after the Cold War and expected by neocon devotees to last at least as long. Now, according to the latest report from Dana Priest of the Washington Post, the administration is considering exactly how to turn forever into a series of post-penal establishments capable of coping with the realities of life imprisonment beyond all charges and to the end of time. [...]

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85-year-old says police roughed him up
Friday, January 7, 2005 Posted: 11:45 PM EST (0445 GMT)

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) -- Police said they are investigating an incident in which an officer pepper-sprayed an 85-year-old man during a traffic stop.

Leon Nins said officer Michael Lee also beat him after he took too long to stop his car. Police deny that and say Nins attacked Lee.

Leaders of St. Paul's NAACP chapter and St. Paul African American Leadership Council alleged that race was a factor. Nins is black.

Nins said at a news conference Thursday that he was bringing sandwiches and cupcakes to his wife during his daily visit to her nursing home December 27 when Lee tried to pull him over for having expired license tags.

Nins, a World War II veteran who stands about 5-feet-7 and weighs 145 pounds, claims Lee was angry that he didn't stop his car right away.

"I told him, 'If I'd have seen you, I would have stopped,"' Nins said earlier. "He got really mad about that. He told me to get in his car, and he started beating me on the leg and on the side of the arm. He pushed me down on the floor, and he was slamming the door on my legs."

Nins was arrested and jailed for two days. The Ramsey County Attorney's Office declined to charge him with a felony, but prosecutors still could bring a lesser charge.

Nins said he went to a hospital for treatment after his release.

Police reports said Nins did not stop for nearly a half mile after Lee began trying to pull him over.

St. Paul police Chief John Harrington confirmed that Lee used pepper spray to subdue Nins, but only after Nins refused to produce identification and began flailing at the officer.

"I do not believe (Lee) was acting with excessive force and I don't have any intention of suspending him or moving him to any administrative assignment at this time," Harrington said.

Groups who claim that race played a role cited a 2001 shooting in which Lee was cleared of wrongdoing. Charles Craighead had taken a gun from a man trying to carjack him. Lee mistook Craighead, who was black, for the carjacker, and shot him to death.

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Palestinian candidate detained in Jerusalem 2005-01-08 16:56:23
BEIJING, Jan. 8 -- Mustafa Barghouti, has been detained, once again, outside Jerusalem's Old City. Witnesses say the presidential candidate was arrested on his way to Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque in east Jerusalem.

Israeli police said Barghouti tried to enter, without permit, the revered shrine for Muslims and Jews. They also accused Barghouti of attempting to use the Temple Mount for campaign purposes. Police say he was released and escorted to a checkpoint later on Friday.

This was the second time Barghouti has been detained by police in Jerusalem in recent weeks.

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Palestinians prepare for historic vote
Israel reconsiders pledge to keep troops away
From Yoav Appel
Saturday, January 8, 2005 Posted: 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- As Palestinians prepare for historic elections, Israel may take back its pledge not to conduct operations within Palestinian communities during the voting, according to an Israeli official.

The development comes after a Palestinian shooting attack that Israel says killed an off-duty soldier.

An Israeli official confirmed that Dov Weisglass, special adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told former U.S. President Jimmy Carter that Israel would consider redeployment of its forces if Palestinian militants continue to carry out attacks.

Carter is in the region as an independent observer for the Palestinian elections.

Nearly 2 million Palestinians are expected to show up at the polls Sunday to choose a successor to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Israel's military previously said it would refrain from entering Palestinian cities and towns around election time, except in cases of ticking bombs.

In southern Gaza, Palestinian officials said a 60-year-old man was killed by Israeli fire while driving his car near a Jewish settlement.

Israeli military officials disputed that, saying troops opened fire at an armed man on foot who approached a military post.

Comment: Threats on the day before the election. Could this be an Israeli ploy to convince Palestinian voters that Israel is not supporting the election of Mahmud Abbas in tomorrow's election?

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Senior Sunni cleric shot dead
January 7, 2005

Gunmen have killed a senior member of Iraq's main Sunni Muslim party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, which last month withdrew from the election on January 30.

Omar Mahmoud Abdallah, a cleric who has written a number of books on Islam, was snatched from his pharmacy in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday and later found shot in the head.

The Iraqi Islamic Party pulled out of the election fearing persistent bloodshed would deter Iraqis in the Sunni north and west from casting their ballots, skewing the outcome and undermining its credibility.

Iraq's 60 per cent Shiite majority, oppressed under Saddam Hussein, is keen that elections expected to cement their increased political power take place on time.

While the Iraqi Islamic Party has withdrawn from the election, it remains a firm supporter of the transition to democracy.

The interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, on Wednesday dismissed claims that the assassination of clerics of various denominations and attacks on churches was a campaign by religious extremists to sow civil discord.

Insurgents have targeted election officials, politicians and government officials in an attempt to undermine the polls.

It was also revealed on Wednesday that insurgents have gunned down a leading Iraqi communist in Baghdad. Hadi Saleh, known as Abu Furat, had been a member of the executive bureau of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, and returned from exile after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003.

The same day suicide bombers killed 21 people in attacks on an Iraqi police academy in Hilla, 95 kilometres south of Baghdad, and a checkpoint in the northern city of Baquba. [...]

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U.S. general warns 'spectacular' attacks may happen before Iraq election
11:21 PM EST Jan 07

BAGHDAD (AP) - A U.S. general warned Friday that insurgents may be planning "spectacular" attacks to scare voters in the three weeks before Iraq's landmark elections, and Shiite and Sunni religious leaders voiced sharply divergent views on whether the vote should be held at all.

Air force Brig.-Gen. Erv Lessel, who is deputy chief of staff for strategic communications in Iraq, said the United States has no intelligence indicating specific plots, but he said American leaders expected a rise in attacks.

He said the insurgents' biggest weapon was their ability to instil fear.

"I think a worst case is where they have a series of horrific attacks that cause mass casualties in some spectacular fashion in the days leading up to the elections," Lessel said.

"If you look over the last six months, they have steadily escalated the barbaric nature of the attacks they have been committing. A year ago, you didn't see these kinds of horrific things," he said. [...]

Lessel said he expects the insurgents would escalate attacks before the election, and that the incidents would probably decline after the vote.

"What the terrorists fear most is a simple piece of paper called a ballot," he said. "They fear the election. I think successful elections will have a significant impact on the insurgents."

Comment: Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Seeing that it's a U.S. general who's issuing dire warnings of a spectacular attack before the election without any specific intelligence, then it appears that it is himself and not the insurgents whose biggest weapon is the ability to instill fear.

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The Myth of the Voluntary Military
by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Ludwig von Mises summed up the essence of government in words that are particularly vivid in wartime:

"Government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom."

What about those who are called upon to enforce state edicts, whether just or unjust? Every society includes people who are willing to act as the coercive arm of the state, those who are willing to use violence and freely risk their lives as they administer the law. The state has no great trouble recruiting policemen and prison guards. Are there enough such people to amass a huge army of hundreds of thousands of people who are willing to risk their lives carrying out destructive foreign wars of dubious merit?

When you see the pictures of American troops fighting their way through sand storms, in a strange land with strange people, seeking to overturn a government and transform a society that posed no credible threat to the US, being shot at by average Iraqis who are clearly motivated only by the desire to expel the invader, it is not hard to imagine that US troops are wondering how it all came to this.

The British defense secretary, Geoff Hoon, claims that the coalition armed forces are made up of "men and women who made a free choice to serve their country," whereas Iraqi forces "are motivated either by fear or by hatred." It's hard to say what motivates Iraqi forces (perhaps the desire to repel invasion?) but what he says about coalition troops is simply not true.

The men and women now fighting initially agreed to be in the employ of the military. The US is not yet conscripting people. And yet how many of these would leave Iraq if they could? What if Donald Rumsfeld announced that anyone now fighting in Iraq is free to leave without penalty? What would become of the US armed forces now attempting to bring about unconditional surrender in Iraq?

It's an interesting question, as a pure mental experiment, because it highlights the essentially forced nature of all modern military service. To leave once the war begins would amount to what the government calls desertion. This word sounds ominous but, in fact, it merely describes what everyone in a civilized society takes for granted: the right to quit.

Deuteronomy's exhortation to encourage the Israelites into battle includes an invitation to freely leave: "What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return unto his house." (20:8). But there is no such right in the modern US military. If you try to leave, you face coercion, particularly if you try to leave in wartime. In this way, the military differs from the police and the ranks of prison guards, jobs from which people are free to walk away without penalty.

Punishing people for attempting to leave the military – to avoid killing and/or being killed – is not a new practice. Mises speaks of the "barbarous" practices used in the 18th century to keep soldiers from deserting their units. The more undesirable wartime conditions become, the more necessary it is for the state to force people to continue to endure them. [...]

Both scenes underscore a reality hardly ever discussed: all modern armies are essentially totalitarian enterprises. Once you sign up for them, or are drafted, you are a slave. The penalty for becoming a fugitive is death. Even now, the enforcements against mutiny, desertion, going AWOL, or what have you, are never questioned.

This is remarkable, if you think about it. Imagine that you work for Wal-Mart but find the job too dangerous, and try to quit. You are told that you may not, so you run away. The management catches up to you, and jails you. You refuse to go and resist. Finally, you are shot. We would all recognize that this is exploitation, an atrocity, a crime, a clear example of the disregard that this company has for human life. The public outrage would be palpable. The management, not the fleeing employees, would be jailed or possibly executed.

Murray Rothbard frames the question nicely: "In what other occupation in the country are there severe penalties, including prison and in some cases execution, for 'desertion,' i.e., for quitting the particular employment? If someone quits General Motors, is he shot at sunrise?"

The military has done a study (What We Know About AWOL and Desertion: A Review of the Professional Literature for Policy Makers and Commanders, by Peter F. Ramsberger and D. Bruce Bell [Alexandria, VA: US Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, ARI Special Report 51, August 2002]) of what causes people to go AWOL, concluding that the practice "tends to increase in magnitude during wartime" and when "the Army is attempting to restrict the ways that soldiers can exit service through administrative channels."

The same study profiles the deserters, as compared with non-deserters, as less educated, having a lower aptitude, more likely to be from broken homes, etc. – all the usual reasons why a person is so dishonorably disinclined to want to be killed. Finally, this study examined the effects of desertion on the individual, concluding that choosing to be dis-employed from the ranks of the armed and dangerous causes "loss of self esteem and confidence" as well as "embarrassment and even shame." Well, what else would you expect from someone who has "chosen a certain path and failed to meet the necessary requirements and/or sustain the fortitude to meet those requirements"?

Now comes the report from Diwaniya, Iraq, heavily cited by US military spokesman, that "many Iraqi soldiers were fighting at gunpoint, threatened with death by tough loyalists of President Saddam Hussein." "'The officers threatened to shoot us unless we fought,' said a wounded Iraqi from his bed in the American field hospital here 'They took out their guns and pointed them and told us to fight.'"

It could be that the captured soldiers are only trying to win sympathy. But it would hardly be surprising if it were true. To force people to fight when they would rather not is the very essence of modern military organization. In modern practice, there is no such thing as a voluntary military. Whether you are forced into the machine our not (via conscription or via payments in tax dollars), once you are cog, you must stay in no matter how much grinding you do or how much you are ground.

The slave-like nature of the military commitment has no expiration date. Yes, there are contracts, but the military can void them whenever it so desires. Predictably, it desires to void these contracts (through so-called stop-loss regulations) when the enlisted most want to leave: when they must kill and risk being killed. All branches of the military have implemented these stop-loss regulations because of the war on terror. This amounts to the nationalization of human beings.

Still, one wonders how much the ranks of the militarily employed would shrink in absence of anti-desertion enforcement. If modern presidents had to recruit the way barons and lords recruited, and if they constantly faced the prospect of mass desertions, they might be more careful about getting involved in unnecessary, unjust, unwinnable wars, or going to war at all. Peace would take on new value out of necessity. When going to war, they might be more careful to curb their war aims, and match war strategies with those more limited aims.

In fact, we might discover through the study of the history of anti-desertion statutes the key to the transition from the limited war and decentralized military of the medieval world to the mass murder of the modern total war. The legalization of desertion might provide the very key to bringing about a more humane world.

In the meantime, US officials would do well to stop complaining that Iraqi soldiers are being forced to serve and forced to kill. A press release from the Air Force announcing its new stop-loss rule says: "We understand the individual sacrifices that our airmen and their families will be making…. We appreciate their unwavering support and dedication to our nation."

One might even have a greater appreciation for their sacrifice (even if not their mission) if one knew that it were undertaken willingly.

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Putin: nothing can compensate for Russia's ties with Ukraine 2005-01-08 11:21:05
MOSCOW, Jan. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that nothing could compensate for relations between Russia and Ukraine, especially economic and human ties.

Putin made the remarks during a meeting Friday with Ukrainian Supreme Council Chairman Vladimir Litvin at Putin's residence outside Moscow.

Putin expressed his hope that after the election process in Ukraine was completed, the place of campaign rhetoric will be occupied by pragmatic views in the interests of economic development and improvement of the people's living standards.

The Russian president said the ties between the two countries have been developing rapidly over the past one year and have reached a very high level. Bilateral trade increased by 40 percentover the period, he noted.

Echoing Putin's view on bilateral ties, Litvin also noted an increase of 5 billion US dollars in bilateral trade.

He told Putin that his parliament was willing to expand and strengthen cooperation with its Russian counterpart.

On Thursday, when meeting with Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov, Litvin said the two parliaments will deepen cooperation since the political situation in Ukraine has returned to normal.

Litvin arrived here Thursday for a two-day working visit to Russia.

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Philippines arrests militants over plot to bomb Catholic procession
07 January 2005 2123 hrs
MANILA : Philippines police arrested 16 Islamic militants planning to carry out suicide bombings on a Roman Catholic procession in the capital this weekend.

The suspects, including three women, were detained after police raided a Muslim library in downtown Manila.

Most appeared to be Filipino, with two of the suspects denying being part of a terrorist plot.

"The scenario is, these would be the suicide bombers in the Feast of the Black Nazarene," said Senior Superintendent Elmer Jamias, referring to an annual Catholic procession in downtown Manila on Sunday.

"They would rig their bodies with bombs, join the procession, and blow themselves up. God made sure this would not happen," Jamias told reporters Friday.

"We seized three improvised explosive devices, a caliber .-45 and a caliber .38 guns," said Chief Superintendent Pedro Bulaong, Manila's police chief. Journalists on the scene said grenades were also found.

Tens of thousands of Catholic devotees, barefoot and wearing maroon tunics, take part in the annual January 9 procession in which an ebony icon of Jesus is taken from Manila's Quiapo church and paraded around the district.

"Had we not recovered these bombs and arrested these people, the procession could have turned into a bloodbath," Jamias said.

Police later showed reporters an inventory of bomb-making equipment seized in and the guns on the floor of the Islamic Information Center on the upper floor of an office building in central Manila.

Jamias said the suspects were members of a movement known as "Return to Islam" movement, made up of former Christians who have converted to Islam.

The authorities are checking whether any of the suspects have ties to Islamic militants operating abroad, said Avelino Razon, the director of the Manila region's police forces.

The detained suspects later denied plotting a terrorist attack or hoarding explosives.

"All of them (evidence) were planted," cried a woman suspect who identified herself as Shaliba Asan. "Do I look like a terrorist?" said an older man, who called himself Arabsi Agwan.

The Philippines is fighting a decades-old Muslim separatist insurgency in the southern island of Mindanao, where radical members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are accused of giving sanctuary and training to members of the Jemaah Islamiyah.

Jemaah Islamiyah is the Southeast Asia wing of Al-Qaeda and has been blamed for the Bali bombing in October 2002 that claimed 202 lives.

Abu Sayyaf Filipino guerrillas with alleged ties to Al-Qaeda set fire to a passenger ferry on Manila Bay in February last year, killing more than 100 people in the country's worst terrorist attack.

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Kashmir rebels trap staff in blazing govt building

Militants stormed a government building in Indian-controlled Kashmir today, setting it on fire with 70 staff trapped inside, police said.

At least three people were killed.

Three militants made their way into the government tax building in the summer capital Srinigar, hurling a hand grenade that set off a blaze, police said.

Government forces surrounded the building, said K Srinivasan, deputy inspector general of the Border Security Force. Gunfire was being exchanged between the militants and soldiers outside.

"We are trying to storm the building from two sides with two objectives – one to put out the fire and second to evacuate the civilians safely," Srinivasan said.

One paramilitary soldier, one civilian and one militant were killed, he said.

More than a dozen militant groups have been fighting security forces in India’s Jammu-Kashmir state since 1989, seeking independence for the Himalayan region or its merger with neighbouring Pakistan.

More than 66,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the conflict.

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The decline of the dollar
Thursday 6th January 2005, by Alan Maass

“THE GROWING external deficits of the world’s ‘sole superpower’ have put the global economy on a path that is not merely unsustainable but also dangerously so.” That alarming statement could be found last month not in a left-wing newspaper like Socialist Worker, but in the bosses’ own Financial Times.

Huge increases in the U.S. government’s budget deficit and the U.S. economy’s trade deficit with other countries are sending tremors through the U.S. establishment. One related development has been a sharp decline in the value of the dollar compared to other major currencies.

How serious is the problem? And what will the impact be on working people? ALAN MAASS looks at the unfolding dollar crisis.

OVER THE last few years, the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen by more than 15 percent--and by more than 50 percent against Europe’s currency, the euro. Financial commentators expect the decline of the dollar to continue--with the nightmare scenario being a further big drop causing an international financial crisis.

The value of a country’s currency rises and falls because of a combination of factors, including international investment flows and government policies. One of the most important is a country’s balance of trade--the difference between exports and imports.

The annual U.S. trade deficit has increased more than eightfold from a two-decade low of $77 billion in 1991 to almost $650 billion by the end of 2004. That’s about 6 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)--the measure of the overall size of the U.S. economy. In a poor country, when the trade deficit climbs above 5 percent of GDP, the International Monetary Fund usually steps in to insist on a “structural adjustment” program.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has gone from a budget surplus at the end of the 1990s to a record-setting deficit of $412 billion in 2004, all in less than a decade. The most important causes have been the Bush administration’s trillion-dollar tax cut giveaways to the super-rich and massively increased military spending thanks to the “war on terror.” And there’s more red ink to come with the Bush team’s plans to privatize Social Security and push through even more tax cuts.

“If this country were named Argentina or Indonesia, it would be a clear candidate for financial crisis any day now,” economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said in a recent radio commentary.

The size of the U.S. trade deficit really took off in the late 1990s, when the U.S. government pumped large amounts of money into the economy to stop America from suffering the financial crisis that struck countries throughout East Asia beginning in 1997. The strategy did stop the U.S. from coming down with the “Asian flu.” But one major consequence was a huge increase in imports of goods and services into the U.S., as the American market soaked up other countries’ exports.

The trade gap is so big now that U.S. exports of goods and services would have to grow by 50 percent to reach the level of U.S. imports.

A deficit this big can’t be paid for domestically. So the U.S. has been funding its balance of payments deficits by borrowing from the rest of the world--to the tune of $1.8 billion a day.

Add in the skyrocketing government deficit--which is competing with the trade deficit in trying to attract foreign capital to finance it--and it’s obvious that the U.S. has become far and away the world’s biggest debtor.

Who are the lenders? This year, China, Japan and other East Asian countries are expected to finance half the annual U.S. trade deficit. As Financial Times columnist John Plender wrote, the world’s “lone superpower now depends on China as the swing financier for its gigantic current account deficit.”

That’s why the dollar crisis finally attracted mainstream media attention last month when rumors spread that central banks in China, India and Russia were starting to divert their holdings of foreign currencies out of dollars because of the decline in their value.

The Bush White House claims that it is committed to keeping the dollar strong, but this is hot air. Actually, the administration has actively encouraged a controlled decline in the value of the dollar.

One goal is to lower the U.S. trade deficit. A weaker dollar benefits U.S. manufacturers because U.S. exports are cheaper to buy in other countries, and other countries’ exports become more expensive in the U.S. Yet the trade deficit has continued climbing despite the dollar’s decline over the past year.

U.S. policymakers also understand that the accumulated debt from the twin deficits becomes cheaper to pay off. “In essence, what is happening is that the American government is defaulting on a part of its debt,” Joel Geier, associate editor of the International Socialist Review, said in a recent interview. “They will pay back the debt at its face value, but in a devalued currency. It’s not declaring bankruptcy, but the world’s biggest debtor is telling its creditors: ‘We’ll pay you 80 cents on the dollar, or 60 cents on the dollar.’ Try that with your credit card company.”

This is playing with fire--because the more the dollar drops in value, the less incentive other countries will have to continue financing the U.S. balance of payments deficit. “The break can come either from the Reserve Bank of China deciding it has enough dollars, thank you, or from private investors saying ‘I’m going to take a speculative bet on a dollar plunge,’ which then ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Krugman said. [...]

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U.S. Falls out of the Index of Economic Freedom's Top 10
Jan 6 2005

For the first time ever, the U.S. does not rank among the world's 10 freest economies in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. [...]

As in previous years, the Index ratings reflect an analysis of 50 different economic variables, grouped into 10 categories: banking and finance; capital flows and foreign investment; monetary policy; fiscal burden of government; trade policy; wages and prices; government intervention in the economy; property rights; regulation; and informal (or black-) market activity. Countries are rated one to five in each category, one being the best and five the worst. These ratings are then averaged to produce the overall Index score. [...]

Comment: But don't worry, the Bush administration says everything's fine with the US economy, and they've never lied before... right?

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Police officers to carry Tasers in schools
Jan. 7/05 (UPI)

Jacksonville, FL, -- Police patrolling Jacksonville, Fla., middle and high schools will be armed with Taser stun guns in addition to their regular guns, batons and pepper spray.

The Duval County Sheriff's resource officer will be authorized to shock anyone including students if they resist arrest or demonstrate a threat, the Jacksonville Times-Union reported.

"It's just another tool," said Rick Lewis, director of personnel and professional standards in the sheriff's department.

The weapons fire electrified barbs that can shoot up to 21 feet and shock suspects with 50,000 volts of electricity.

Police say Tasers are one of the safest weapons to subdue a suspect and saves the lives of both suspects and police. Critics say, however, Tasers have resulted in the deaths of some suspects.

School officials said the announcement took them by surprise. School Board members Brenda Priestly Jackson and Kris Barnes said they opposed the plan.

"Can't a couple of adults take down a child?" Barnes asked.

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Duval County says it will equip school officers with stun guns
Associated Press
Posted January 7 2005, 11:24 AM EST

JACKSONVILLE -- Police officers working in Duval County middle and high schools will soon carry Taser guns, joining the ranks of several other counties where the stun guns are issued to school resource officers.

Some school officials are surprised by the action, saying they were never told by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office that it planned to issue stun guns to the officers assigned to most middle and high schools.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has signed a $1.8 million contract with Taser International to buy 1,800 Tasers over the next two years.

Two of the School Board's seven members, Brenda Priestly Jackson and Kris Barnes, said they already have concerns with police presence in schools and are opposed to equipping the officers with Tasers.

"Can't a couple of adults take down a child?'' Barnes said.

Some parents say the weapons are excessive and could easily be misused, especially with children who have attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder.

Reta Russell-Houghton, president of the Duval County PTA/PSA, representing 154 schools and 4,500 members, said Tasers in schools are inappropriate because children react differently from adults.

"What officers might perceive as a life-threatening situation at school might not be,'' she said.

State Sen. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, has introduced a bill in the Legislature to ban Tasers in all Florida schools. He said the bill is waiting to be assigned to a committee.

School Superintendent John Fryer declined to comment, saying the topic was premature. He plans to meet with Sheriff John Rutherford soon to talk about Tasers.

A policy being drafted by the Sheriff's Office said the weapons should not be used on pregnant women or suspects in control of a motor vehicle, in danger of falling from an elevated location or near a pool, lake or flammable liquid or fumes.

They also should not be used on animals.

The proposed policy does not mention any limitation on students.

Duval County is following Clay, Nassau, St. Johns, Miami-Dade and other counties in equipping resource officers with Tasers.

Since 2001, Clay County officers have used Tasers on three unarmed students, two 15-year-olds and an 18-year-old, essentially because they did not follow officers' orders. They were not injured.

Clay County Superintendent David Owens has said Tasers are a safe way to break up fights and avoid injuries.

Putnam County, which approved the weapons early last year, has used it on four students, a 12-year-old, a 14-year-old and two 16-year-olds.

In October, Miami-Dade County resource officers used a Taser on a 6-year-old, who was wielding a shard of glass.

Amnesty International, in a report issued in November, said at least 70 people have died in the United States and Canada in the past three years after being struck by the M26 and X26 Tasers.

Medical examiners have often attributed deaths to other factors, including drugs. Some medical experts think Tasers may have contributed to a risk of heart failure in cases where people are agitated or have other health problems. Just Thursday, the Broward County medical examiner ruled that a man who died after being zapped with a Taser gun by police had succumbed to a cocaine overdose, not the jolt.

Taser International has defended its product and denied allegations in the Amnesty International report.

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Loaded gun found by girl, 7, at school
By Jodi S. Cohen, Chicago Tribune staff reporter.
Published January 7, 2005

Shocked to learn that a 2nd grader had found a loaded handgun on a bathroom floor in her Evanston school, parents urged authorities Thursday to tighten security and find out how the weapon got there.

The 7-year-old found a .38-caliber revolver Tuesday morning. It was wrapped in a white plastic grocery bag and on the floor of a bathroom stall at Kingsley Elementary School in north Evanston. It held five bullets, police said.

Nobody was injured. Parents on Thursday pressed for a quick investigation into how the weapon got into the school as they lined up by the dozens to speak to Principal Michael Martin. At least one family kept their daughter home.

Some parents said they were upset that they didn't hear about the gun until Wednesday, when their children brought home a letter.

"I am concerned that the police move on this," said Larry Singer, a PTA co-president with two children at Kingsley, a kindergarten through 5th grade school with 380 pupils. "Everyone is devastated that this happened. ... You feel violated in a sense, because you assume your children will always be safe in school."

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Gangsters convicted of killing 12 women in Mexican border town
Last Updated Fri, 07 Jan 2005 15:42:08 EST
CBC News

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO - Ten alleged gang members have been convicted of killing 12 women in a Mexican border city where hundreds of women have been found slain in recent years.

Four bus drivers received sentences of up to 113 years Thursday for premeditated homicide, aggravated rape and criminal association in the slayings of six women in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Tex.

The men were thought to be loyal to the "Los Toltecas" gang, officials said.

Six members of another gang received between 24 and 40 years in prison in the deaths of six other women, said Rene Medrano, of the state attorney general's office for the region.

The Los Toltecas members were arrested in 1999, after a 14-year-old girl identified the gang's leader as the man who sexually assaulted her and tried to kill her.

The government estimates that at least 300 women have been killed in Ciudad Juarez since 1993, while human-rights activists say the number is much higher.

Many of them were young. They'd been sexually abused, strangled and dumped in the desert outside Juarez.

Few of the cases have been solved and, before now, only two men have been convicted – a U.S. resident and a bus driver were convicted and sentenced in connection with nine slayings

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18 thought killed after trains collide
By Claudine Renaud in Rome
January 08, 2005

AS many as 18 people were killed and dozens injured when a passenger train collided with a goods train in thick fog in northern Italy in the country's worst rail accident in 25 years.

Two hundred firefighters, a helicopter and dozens of ambulances were rushed to the wreckage scene near Bologna after the collision on a single-track section of line, close to the Bolognina di Crevalcore station.

"Some of the carriages were derailed by the impact," a spokesman for rail operating company Italfer said.

The Sky24 television news channel quoted firefighters from the nearby town of Modena, from where back-up was sent, as saying the death toll had gone up to 18. The official toll this morning stood at 14.

A fireman earlier told the channel that the dead included the two drivers of each train.

"There are 14 dead for sure and very probably four other people who died according to what firefighters and health authorities at the scene are telling us," said Raffaele Ricciardi, a spokesman for the Bologna local authority.

He said there were "four or five seriously injured and more than 50 slightly injured". He said the nationality of the victims had not yet been established.

Rescuers was hampered by the fog, which had reduced visibility to some 50 metres, and were struggling to cut people free from one of the wagons of the passenger train.

Helicopters were also prevented from landing to aid the rescue effort, while wet weather turned the area into a field of mud, meaning mechanised ladders could not be used to reach victims.

Human error together with thick fog could have caused the accident, according to investigators quoted by the Italian ANSA news agency. [...]

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Monsanto Charged With Bribing Indonesian Environment Official
January 7, 2005, (ENS)
WASHINGTON, DC, - The Monsanto Company has been charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with an illegal payment of $50,000 to a senior Indonesian Ministry of Environment official, and the false certification of the bribe as "consultant fees" in the companyís books and records. The bribe was intended to sidestep an Indonesian environmental impact study required before cultivation of genetically modified crops could be authorized. [...]

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Residents Startled As UFO Falls On Chino
POSTED: 12:45 pm PST January 7, 2005

CHINO, Calif. -- An unidentified object fell from the sky and spooked Roswell residents.

Roswell Avenue residents aren't sure what the unidentified falling object was, but it streaked across the sky about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and apparently hit the ground, touching off a fire that destroyed a neighbor's shed.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said they got calls from Chino residents and motorists on the 210 and 71 freeways reporting that an unidentified object was landing or crashing in town.

"Somebody told one of the fire officials that they saw a plane crash," said fire Capt. Kim Johnson, who responded to the shed fire on Cozzens Street, close to Roswell.

A helicopter search determined there wasn't a plane crash.

"There are a lot of people who are convinced that something came out of the sky -- that there was something unexplainable, a light falling from the sky," Johnson said.

Somebody called in saying they saw fire in the sky, sheriff's spokeswoman Debra Holman said. "At first we thought it was a transformer but it's still undetermined."

Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire.
"There may be a simple explanation," Johnson said. "But who knows?"

Comment: Sounds like another one of those pesky "once in a lifetime" falling meteorites...

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Krabi to hand tsunami corpses to Israeli experts
Jan 7/05 (TNA)

KRABI, – Officials in Thailand's southern province of Krabi said yesterday that they would accede to an Israeli request to subject the bodies of tsunami victims to further DNA examination by Israeli experts.

Krabi Governor Anant Promnat, who yesterday visited Thai and foreign forensic teams working to identify tsunami victims in the province, said that the bodies being held at the Prachasantisuk Foundation would be handed over to the Israeli experts for exhumation and further analysis.

An Israeli police forensic expert, who is working with an international team composed of Thai, Portuguese, Dutch, Swiss, South Korean and Japanese forensic scientists, admitted to reporters yesterday that the work was being hampered by cultural and linguistic difficulties.

While praising the Thai efforts, he said that the bodies required a new DNA examination, with DNA taken from the victims’ teeth

He noted that each country had its own methods of DNA testing, but stressed that the Israeli team would only subject corpses to further investigation if the initial tests had not met Israeli standards.

Mr. Anant said that the 10-strong-member Israeli team would be allowed to conduct DNA testing on 388 corpses, and promised that the investigations would be concluded as quickly as possible

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Conspiracy theorists see dark forces behind tsunami disaster
06 January 2005 1034 hrs
Banda Aceh before (top) and after the tsunami hit

HONG KONG : Just 11 days after Asia's tsunami catastrophe, conspiracy theorists are out in force, accusing governments of a cover-up, blaming the military for testing top-secret eco-weapons or aliens trying to correct the Earth's "wobbly" rotation.

In bars and Internet chatrooms around the world questions are being asked, with knowing nods and winks, about who caused the submarine earthquake off Sumatra on December 26, and why governments were so slow to act in the minutes and hours before tsunamis slammed into their shores, killing almost 150,000.

"There's a lot more to this. Why is the US sending a warship? Why is a senior commander who was in Iraq going there?" whispered designer Mark Tyler, drinking a pint of beer at a bar in Hong Kong's Wan Chai district.

"This happened exactly a year after Bam," said Tyler, referring to the earthquake in Iran which killed 30,000 on December 26 last year. "Is that a coincidence? And there was no previous seismic activity recorded in Sumatra before the quake, which is very strange," he said, nodding somberly.

After every globally shocking event -- from the bombing of Pearl Harbour to the assassination of John F Kennedy, the death of Princess Diana and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States -- conspiracy theorists emerge with their own sinister take on events.

This time the Indian and US military are in the frame, while the governments of countries from Australia to Thailand stand accused of deliberately failing to act on warnings of the impending earthquake or the tsunamis it unleashed around Asia.

Among the more common suggestions is that eco-weapons which can trigger earthquakes and volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves were being tested. More outlandish theories include one that aliens caused the earthquake to try and correct the "wobbly rotation of the Earth".

Scientists give such theories short shrift.

"This was a natural disaster," said Dr Bart Bautisda, chief science research specialist at Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, debunking the idea that an "eco-weapon" could be used to cause an earthquake or such large-scale tsunamis.

"You would need a very huge amount of energy. It's impossible. A billion tonnes could not do it," Bautisda said.

He said wave activity might be able to be triggered very close to the scene of a giant explosion, but the effect would be a tiny fraction of the tsunamis which travelled thousands of kilometres (miles) at the speed of a jet after tectonic plates shifted off Sumatra.

"It's possible to cause vibration, but not sufficient to cause disruption," he said.

"We can tell the difference between an artificial explosion and an earthquake," Bautisda said. "The mechanisms are different."

Scientific evidence, however, cuts little ice with many conspiracy theorists.

The Internet -- which has proved invaluable in dealing with the disaster by aiding rescues, providing witness accounts from bloggers and allowing grieving relatives to comfort each other through chatrooms -- is abuzz with more sinister explanations.

The Free Internet Press, which claims to offer "uncensored news for real people", has an article saying the US military and the State Department received advanced warning of the tsunami, but did little to warn Asian countries.

America's Navy base on the Indian Ocean jungle atoll of Diego Garcia was notified and escaped unscathed, it said, asking "why were fishermen in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand not provided with the same warnings?.

"Why did the US State Department remain mum on the existence of an impending catastrophe?," author Michel Chossudovsky pondered.

"Probably because fishermen in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand don't have multimillion dollar communications equipment handy," said one respondent as readers posted angry replies.

"Maybe rescuers will find Elvis and the gunman from the grassy knoll," jibed another, referring to those who believe Elvis Presley is still alive and that former US president Kennedy was shot by someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald.

The India Daily's website joined the conspiracy theorists noting, "it seems the whole world decided to fail to do anything together at the same time. Are we missing something?

"Can it be that all the government agencies knew what was happening but were told not to do anything? Who told them? Or is this just a tragic coincidence?" wrote Sudhir Chadda, a correspondent.

"Recent alien contacts have been reported with the South Asian Governments especially India. UFO sightings have been rampant over the region affected," Chadda wrote.

"Some in Nicobar Island say that it was an experiment conducted by the alien extra-terrestrial entities to correct the wobbly rotation of the earth. And some of the Indian scientists are actually seeing that wobbly rotation of the earth has been corrected since the massive underwater earthquake and Tsunami."

In Hong Kong, Tyler laughed at the alien idea, but remained convinced humans had a hand in this disaster. "Wait and see. There will be a lot more to come out," he said.

Comment: The problem with stories like this one is that by lumping all conspiracy theories into one category and debunking and ridiculing the lot of them en masse, makes sure that any legitimate questions get marginalized along with the more obviously outlandish theories.

To put the very real conspiracy question of the assinination of JFK or government involvement in Pearl harbour and 9/11 alongside with fantastic theories of eco-weapons and aliens from outer space ensures that anyone who dares question the offical version of government complicity in these crimes must obviously be a crazed paranoid lunatic.

And it seems that this may be the article's intention all along.

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Conspiracy Theorists

By Jolly Roger

Everyone has heard, and has probably used the term "conspiracy theorist," and the fact of the term being in common use, also indicates that we generally agree on what it means. I saw a movie by that name, and the title character was a raving lunatic who kept his food in thermoses with combination locks to reduce his chances of being poisoned by imaginary enemies.

Regardless of how the stupid movie turned out, what's important here is the common perception people have of someone to whom that label is applied, and just as important, is who it is that applies the label. The common perception is that someone who is labeled a "conspiracy theorist" is suffering from some type of psychological disorder, and that label is usually applied to people by our government, and our news media. The next thing to consider, is that the label is applied to anyone who questions our government's version of events in any matter. Doesn't it logically follow that the media are teaching us to assume that anyone who questions the government is insane? When that label is applied to a person, doesn't it become easy to dismiss everything they say without even hearing it? How convenient for them.

I think the label first became widely used to slander people who questioned the details surrounding the JFK assassination, and forty years later, there aren't too many thinking people who still believe the Warren Commission's "lone gunman" explanation. That explanation is doubted by everyone who has taken the time to look into the details, and believed only by people who refuse to.

Which is "theory" and which is fact? In the absence of a full confession, this can only be decided by a preponderance of evidence, and it would be silly to come to a conclusion on any matter without looking at all the evi dence available. This is only common sense, just as it is safe to assume some degree of guilt or complicity on the part of anyone who lies about an event, or tries to hide, plant, or destroy any type of evidence.

Conspiracy theories arise from evidence. After the government releases an explanation of a particular event, a conspiracy theory is only born because evidence exists to disprove their explanation, or at least call it into question. There's nothing insane about it, unless you define sanity as believing whatever the government tells you. In light of the fact that our government lies to us regularly, I would define believing everything they tell you as utter stupidity.

In July of 1996, flight 800 exploded over Long Island. Shortly after their terrorist explanation failed scrutiny, our government then explained the event by claiming that a faulty electrical system caused a spark that ign ited a fuel tank, and the people who doubted this explanation were quickly labeled "conspiracy theorists." More than a hundred witnesses saw a missile travel from the ground up to the plane just prior to its explosion, bu t rather than being treated as eyewitnesses to an event, they were labeled "conspiracy theorists," which label allowed all subsequent investigation to ignore the strongest evidence in the matter.

Our "investigative" news agencies decided to accept and disseminate the official story, and they helped us forget the U.S. naval station nearby, the fact that missiles were regularly test fired there, and naturally, they paid no heed to more than a hundred "conspiracy theorists" who saw the plane get blown out of the sky by a missile. I believe that the U.S. Navy accidentally shot down flight 800, and that's my belief because it's the mos t sensible explanation that can be drawn from the available evidence. I'm not theorizing about conspiracies, but there are conflicting explanations of the event, and if the Navy did accidentally blow a passenger plane out of the sky, who would have a motive to lie about it? The U.S. government, or a hundred witnesses?

Then of course, there were the "crazy conspiracy theories" arising from the bombing of the Alfred Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. In that matter, audio tapes and witnesses agree that there were two explosions, t he first of which occurred inside the building between eight and ten seconds before the truck bomb exploded. Explosive experts agree that Timothy McVeigh's fertilizer bomb could not have destroyed the building, and the FB I's counter terrorism chief, and members of BATF lied about their whereabouts during and prior to the catastrophe. The evening news decided not to tell you any of this, and they will label anyone who tries to a "paranoid conspiracy theorist." In light of the evidence, we would be complete fools if a conspiracy theory didn't exist.

There were no conspiracy theories arising from the explosion of flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and there were no conspiracy theories arising from the work of the uni-bomber, so the newly invented psycho-babble that tries to explain the malady of conspiracy theorists, also needs to explain why millions of conspiracy theorists all decided not to theorize about those events. There is no psychological malady. There was simply no evidenc e to indicate a conspiracy.

The real question is not why people theorize about conspiracies, but why people choose to believe the government's version of events when it's obvious that they're lying. One reason is that most people never see the evide nce because our "news" industry hides it, and another reason is that the same news industry will quickly associate anyone who questions the government with the people who see Elvis, Bigfoot, and UFO's.

But sadly, I think the main reason people choose to believe the government's version of events despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is because it's easier, and safer. If you ignore most of the evidence, and acce pt as plausible whatever ridiculous explanation the T.V. provides, your life remains simple, and you get to sit on your ass and watch more T.V. If on the other hand, you pluck your head from that same ass and realize you' ve been lied to, as a citizen in a democratic society, you're instantly burdened with being responsible for doing something about it. Every citizen of the United States has a civic duty to participate in their government, and keep themselves informed of its actions, or government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" isn't possible. You were warned that "eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, " but you chose to ignore you r government, and believe whatever they told you, and because of this, Americans have lost their freedom. Although presidents and senators are public servants, unlike the dog catcher and mailman, they wield a lot of power over people's lives, and that's why they have to be watched, and scrutinized.

Statistical analysts from UCLA and Rutgers University believe that John Kerry won the 2004 presidential election by an estimated 1.3 million votes, and despite the fact that these learned scholars are probably the most qu alified people alive to forward such an opinion, our news madia dismisses this as "conspiracy theory." George W. Bush lost the 2000 election, and he lost the 2004 election, but he's occupying the White House, shredding ou r constitution, and stealing our wealth and freedom in a "war on terror" that's as fraudulent as his presidency because many Americans are too stupid to see it, too lazy to do anything about it, or both.

I'm sorry if I sound angry, but the fact of the matter is that I am angry. While you were staring into the television like an idiot, our freedom, wealth, and constitutional protections have been stolen from us, and becaus e you're stupid enough to believe the manure being shoveled by our government, you've allowed them to commit bigger and more heinous crimes. Because you were too lazy to research their nonsensical economic policies, and s ee them for the scams that they are, we'll all soon be living in poverty. And because you're so lazy, apathetic, and easily lied to, millions have died for the profits of a few. I have every right to be angry, and only a fool wouldn't be.

Only a small portion of my anger is reserved for the government of the United States, because they only did what can be expected of any government. They grabbed money, power and control where it was easy to do so. Most of my anger is directed toward my fellow American citizens, because they allowed it to happen by believing whatever they're told, and not doing what's expected of them. Patriotism in America does not mean waving the flag in blind loyalty to the government. As an American citizen, you have a civic duty to question your government, and hold them accountable for their actions, not use the flag as a blindfold. The American people have been dupe d once again, and it doesn't seem like it's a difficult thing to accomplish.

America's latest "conspiracy nuts" are better known as the 9-11 truth movement. The news media are doing their usual job of slandering them with their usual childish name calling, but for more than three years, they have refused to show you the documented fact, scientific data, expert testimony, photographic evidence, or the credible eyewitness accounts that prove U.S. government complicity in the events of September, 11, 2001. If this we re just a "crazy conspiracy theory," I don't think people in our government would have worked so hard to destroy, hide, and lie about the evidence. The White House tried to derail every investigation into the matter. If w e had an honest government, we wouldn't have conspiracy theories. We would have honest investigations, and fair trials, but these things are disappearing from America.

There are disturbing facts regarding the events of September 11 that every American needs to be aware of , but naturally, none of it will be on T.V. I've met a lot of people in the 9-11 truth movement, and I can assure you that none of them are crazy, paranoid, or even "conspiracy theorists." One generalization I can make about them is that they all seem to be very intelligent. Maybe the smartest thing you could do would be to start listening to them. The Arabs don't "hate your freedom." The White House hates your freedom, because it's the only thing that stands between them, and unlimited power. - Jolly Roger

"Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Freedom" - Thomas Jefferson

Anything written by "Jolly Roger" is the property of the American Resistance Movement, and the author hereby grants permission to anyone who so desires to post, print, copy, or distribute this letter as they see fit, and in fact, the author encourages you to do so.

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How the mangrove shield was lost

Powerful business interests left Asian coastal protection in tatters before the tsunami, reports John Vidal

Thursday January 6, 2005
The Guardian

As the clear-up from the Asian tsunami starts and the full damage is assessed, there is growing consensus among scientists, environmentalists and Asian fishing communities that the impact was considerably worsened by tourist, shrimp farm and other industrial developments which have destroyed or degraded mangrove forests and other natural sea defences.

Reports this week from India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia suggest the worst damage has been in places with no natural protection from the sea and that communities living behind intact mangrove forests in particular were largely spared.

According to Professor MS Swaminathan, India's leading agricultural scientist who is chairing a government inquiry into coastal developments, the mangrove forests in the Pitchavaram and Muthupet regions of Tamil Nadu acted like a shield and bore the brunt of the tsunami.

"But in other areas, like Alappuzha and Kollam where the forests have been cut down and there is sand mining and developments, the devastation has been more widespread. The dense mangrove forests stood like a wall to save coastal communities living behind them," says Prof Swaminathan.

"The impact was mitigated and the lives and property of the communities inhabiting the region were saved. It is now found that wherever the mangroves have been regenerated, the damage due to the tsunami is minimal," he says.

While most Asian countries have strong environmental protection laws governing coastal developments and protecting coastal forests, these are widely ignored by the powerful tourist and aquaculture industries, which have rapidly encroached onto beaches and cleared the inter-tidal areas to provide better views, wider beaches or the brackish water environment in which shrimps and prawns thrive.

"The full fury and wrath of the waves were felt in areas where nature's green belts of coral reefs and mangroves no longer exist or were never present in the first place," says a spokesman for Walhi, Indonesia's leading environment group in Jakarta. Walhi's Aceh province director was killed in the tsunami.

"Here is a valuable lesson for all governments. Coastal zones and green belts such as mangroves, coral reefs and other natural barriers must be protected, regenerated and managed in a sustainable way," says a spokesman in Jakarta.

"It is only through having such natural defences that coastal communities can be protected in the long run from a repeat of what struck these regions."

"In areas where there were 'green belts', the damage was less or none at all," says Hemantha Withanage, of the Centre of Environmental Justice in Sri Lanka. "In many parts of the affected areas where dense mangroves and coral reefs once acted as natural buffers between the sea and coast, other developments have taken place - from hotels, shrimp farms, coastal highways, housing and commercial development."

Many studies have found that mangroves help protect coastlines from erosion, storm damage, and wave action by acting as buffers and catching alluvial materials. They also protect coral reefs and sea grass beds from damaging siltation and pollution.

But, says the US-based Mangrove Action Project (Map) - a network of 400 NGOs and more than 250 scientists and academics working in 60 countries - mangrove forests may be disappearing faster than rainforests. "Vast tracts have been cleared in the past 20 years in India, Thailand, Bangladesh and Indonesia," says a Map spokesman.

According to Map, mangroves once covered up to 75% of the coastlines of tropical and sub-tropical countries. Today, less than 50% remain, and of this remaining forest, more than half is degraded.

In less than 20 years between 1975 and 1993, Thailand's mangrove area was almost halved, reports show, while India may have destroyed as much as half of its mangroves between 1963 and 1977.

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Earthquake occurs in Chechnya
Jan 8 2005 9:29AM
ROSTOV-ON-DON. Jan 8 (Interfax-South) - An earthquake occurred in Chechnya on Saturday. Neither loss of life, nor destruction was reported.

The epicenter was at a depth of 25 kilometers in the Naura district, 70 kilometers northwest of Grozny, a source in the Southern Regional Emergency Situations center told Interfax.

The quake measured 4.5 points on the Richter scale in the epicenter. Tremors were felt in Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Dagestan.

The local emergency situations forces are in a state of alert, the source said.

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2005-01-08 11:47
PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKI, January 8 (RIA Novosti, Oksana Guseva) - According to scientists, an eruption of the Bezymyanny volcano will soon start in Kamchatka.

Chief researcher of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology under the Far East branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Ozerov told RIA Novosti that the activity of the volcano has increased significantly recently. Current seismological data and the previous seismological records made scientists believe that the Bezymyanny volcano would erupt soon.

The latest Bezymyanny eruption (its height is 2,869 meters) occurred on June 19-20, 2004. Clouds of ashes and gases went up to 10 kilometers above the crater. The trail of ashes extended more than 1,500 kilometers to the east toward the Pacific Ocean and reached the central part of Aleutian Islands (USA). Planes departed from Alaska (USA), whose flight path intersected with the ash trail had to change flight echelons after receiving proper warning.

The Bezymyanny eruptions are very powerful, but normally do not last long. They regularly occur once or twice a year.

The volcano does not present danger to inhabited areas of the peninsula. The nearest to the volcano town of Kluchi is located 40 kilometers to the north of the volcano. Ash emissions might be dangerous for air traffic, as well as to tourists, fishermen and hunters in the vicinity of the volcano.

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Floods after high winds batter UK
Widespread flooding has hit the UK as high winds and torrential rain continue to lash the country.

Homes have been deluged in parts of Wales, Scotland and northern England, with some houses evacuated.

Carlisle in Cumbria is "awash" with water. Police say the city is cut off with no safe routes in or out.

A spate of accidents has shut roads including sections of the M1 and M6, and a P&O ferry ran aground in heavy seas off the west coast of Scotland.

Inflatable boats

Motorists are being advised not to make journeys unless absolutely necessary.

It is the worst weather Cumbria has seen in almost 40 years, fire officials said.

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Storm leaves up to 70,000 Irish homes without power

DUBLIN (AFP) Jan 08, 2005
Widespread damage was caused by a storm that swept across Ireland with up to 70,000 homes left with power on Saturday, a spokesman for the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) said.

"The worst affected areas have been the east coast and midlands. A lot of timber has fallen and the trees have taken down the power lines," the ESB spokesman said.

"We hope to have power restored to most parts of the country by the end of the day."

A Meteorological Office spokeswoman said that wind gusts of up to 78 miles per hour (125 kilometres per hour) had been recorded at the height of the storm.

Police said flooding and fallen trees had blocked roads but there were no reports of injuries.

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3-4-point earthquake registered in Ingushetia
07.01.2005, 19.49

MOSCOW, January 7 (Itar-Tass) - An earthquake happened in Ingushetia and North Ossetia at 6:20 p.m. Moscow time on Friday. The earthquake measured 3-4 points on the Richter scale in the epicenter, which was located 30 kilometers east of Mozdok. There are no casualties or damage.

The tremors were felt in the Malgobek, Nazran, Sunzha and Dzheirakh districts of Ingushetia. Local residents had to go outdoors.

The Ingush Emergency Situations Ministry said that tremors in the highlands were stronger.

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4.4 earthquake hits Fontana area
San Bernardino Sun
September 5, 2004

(FONTANA, CALIFORNIA) - The first earthquake shook her bed so hard that Brittany Garcia ran downstairs to be with her older sister.

The second one? Much better. The 15-year-old was jostled awake but didn't get up.

When the third one thundered through, she'd had enough. The 4.4-magnitude earthquake charged through her Fontana house with a bang, tossing family pictures from the mantle to the floor in a clatter.

"My heart started beating real fast," said Garcia, tapping her hand quickly against her chest. "That's when I got up and stayed up."

It was 6:35 a.m.

Garcia, like many Fontana residents, got an early start Thursday morning after a wave of earthquakes, centered one to two miles north of town, rattled the area.

Two 3.6-magnitude earthquakes struck within seconds of each other at 4:11 a.m., and felt like one strong shake. A magnitude-3.3 hit a mile north of the city at 6:22 a.m., said Deborah Williams-Hedges with Caltech media relations.

There were no reports of damage, but the quakes set off a number of false fire alarms from commercial businesses and several car alarms within earshot that woke up the fire station, said Jay Hausman, firefighter from Station 72 of the San Bernardino County Fire Department that services Fontana.

Inside Royal Market Liquor in the 17000 block of Walnut Village Parkway, bags of pork rinds were scattered in the aisles among bottles of baby oil and dishwashing liquid. Three bottles of liquor had shattered on the floor. Owner Gurmel Singh arrived at his store to find the mess after a call from the alarm company. He stood behind the counter, bleary eyed, around noon, watching reports of the earthquake on TV.

Vichet Khauv was making doughnuts at 4 a.m. in the same shopping center at Antonio Pizza and Donuts and didn't mind the first ones. But the last quake sent the 48-year-old and his wife Sophie dashing under a table for cover. A menu sign on the wall toppled from the force.

"We thought it was the big one," Khauv said. "It was so strong."

Across town at Arco, in the 1700 block of Foothill Boulevard, owner Ben Lahlou was organizing merchandise in front of a window when he felt the earth move. Candy fell from the shelves. Customers outside pumping gas ran off. When they returned to pay, Lahlou could see the shock on their faces.

"It feels like something big is going to happen," Lahlou said. "With the tsunami and earthquake overseas, I wonder if all of this could be related."

"The big one" seemed to be on the minds of many Thursday. Maybe it was from lack of sleep, watching too much cable-TV news or from real fears of disaster.

Ask Carlos Cazares, 35, of Fontana about the big one and he just shrugs.

"They've been talking about it for years," Cazares said. "It still hasn't happened."

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Fontana quakes merely a foretaste

Forecasters believe Big One could hit before August

Friday, January 07, 2005

The swarm of small tremors that rattled good crystal and bad nerves in northern Fontana early Thursday came as no surprise to a group of earthquake forecasters at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

"It was on a hot spot," said Andrea Donnellan, principal investigator for JPL's QuakeSim project.

The seismic team's forecast map for California shows areas likely to experience 5.0-magnitude or greater quakes over a 10-year period.

Major earthquakes around the world -- 30 of 38 since 2000 -- have hit in QuakeSim team hot spots.

"We've had a significant amount of success forecasting the location of major earthquakes," said team member John Rundle, director of the UC Davis Center for Computational Science and Engineering.

However, while not writing them off, Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones questioned the usefulness of QuakeSim's long-range predictions, since the team's mapped hot spots coincide with known earthquake zones.

"Maybe they just put (the hot spots) where you're going to have earthquakes anyway," she said.

The QuakeSim team might do well to test its system to see whether it contributes something more than what already is known, Jones said.

Thursday's relatively petite quakes in Fontana -- the strongest of which registered magnitude 4.4 -- didn't count toward the QuakeSim team's California forecast, which is based on larger tremors.

However, "it means the stress is being reduced," Donnellan said. The cluster of Fontana quakes will be included in ongoing calculations.

The small shakers occurred very near the large and historically active San Jacinto Fault, which runs from the Fontana-Rialto area through Loma Linda and on to points south.

While Thursday's quake might have relieved a little stress, it's well known that the northern end of the San Jacinto Fault remains overdue for a major earthquake of 6.0 or greater, Donnellan said.

That bigger quake could occur by Aug. 14 of this year, according to another group of earthquake predictors.

"We have reason to believe the probability of a strong earthquake in the area is increasing," said Vladimir Keilis-Borok of UCLA, who heads a team of scientists from the U.S., Russia, France and Italy.

However, the 82-year-old Russian-born seismologist and mathematical geophysicist cautions that the team's forecasts are only a kind of test, to see whether their forecasting methods actually work.

These scientific data-crunchers warned of a major quake the past year for a broad section of the California desert. It didn't happen.

However, in July 2003, the Keilis-Borok-headed team forecast a magnitude 7 or greater quake for a region around Hokkaido, Japan, by Dec. 28 of that year. On Sept. 25, 2003, a magnitude 8.1 quake rocked Hokkaido.

While Tuesday's quake-swarm in Fontana wasn't calibrated into the most recent forecast, Keilis-Borok found the tremors interesting.

Such swarms are "a more rare event," he said.

The difference between the Keilis-Borok experimental predictions and the QuakeSim forecasts involves time and territory. QuakeSim hot spots tend to be very specific areas, with the forecasts covering 10-year time spans. The Keilis-Borok time spans run over months, with targeted areas that are broader, typically covering hundreds of miles.

The Keilis-Borok team has yet to produce sufficiently consistent results, meaning the approach remains an open question, Jones said.

What successes the team claimed may have amounted to no more than random luck, she said. As for their method, "I hope it's true," she added.

Only time will tell. And Aug. 14 is still seven months away.

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Earthquake crater discovered in Loei
Jan 7 (TNA)

LOEI, – A soy bean farmer in Thailand's northeastern province of Loei has discovered a deep crater on his land, which she believes to have been caused by last month’s earthquake.

Mrs. Bualoi Hathammawong told reporters yesterday that she had discovered the crater on her tambon Na-or farm on 5 January.

The field is located 1.5 kilometres from the Loei River, which on 26 December saw waves of up to two metres high crash against the banks for half an hour as an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale shook the Indonesian island of Sumatra, causing tsunamis throughout much of Asia.

Since the discovery of the crater, which is four metres deep and 6-8 metres wide, hundreds of local people have been flocking to see it, many of them taking the water for bathing in the belief that it can cure disease.

Geologists have been called in to investigate the crater, which is said to be getting deeper.

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Flood emergency declared
By Nick Schneider, STAFF WRITER
Friday, January 07, 2005

(Indiana) - Rising flood water is everywhere -- on the roads, fields or yards and in many basements across the area.

Low-lying regions have been turned into virtual lakes in one of the biggest local flood events in years.

More than 40 Greene County roads were either closed or considered impassable this morning.

Torrential rains Wednesday that drenched the area with between two and three inches of precipitation continued to swell the tributaries of the west fork of the White River and the Eel River to flood levels that haven't been seen in decades. Some areas of the county have received about six inches of rainfall over the past four days in addition to snow melt from the Dec. 22-23 winter storm which has thoroughly saturated the ground.

Greene County is under an emergency flood declaration following action Wednesday afternoon by county commissioner's president Bart Beard. [...]

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Rising Ohio races toward flood stage
By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer
Friday, January 7, 2005

From Northern Kentucky to the northern Cincinnati suburbs, the region is bracing for still more flooding. Rising water Thursday had already forced people out of their homes, closed roads and canceled classes at some schools.

Forecasters project that more than a month's worth of rain in less than a week will push the Ohio River over its 52-foot flood stage by Sunday. [...]

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Ohio River Floods in Aftermath of Storm
Jan 7, 11:41 AM (ET)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Flooding on the Ohio River damaged hundreds of homes and businesses Friday, a soggy calling card left by the winter storm that had brought miserable conditions across much of the central and northeastern United States.

Schools were closed in river towns in both West Virginia and Ohio, and the historic National Road was underwater in Wheeling, where the Ohio was 6 feet above flood stage on Friday morning. The river was expected to rise an additional 3 feet before cresting after lunchtime.

Across the river and about 70 miles downstream, shopkeepers in Marietta, Ohio, stacked sandbags in front of their doors and moved goods off the floors.

"It's not a ghost town, but there are no businesses open that I'm aware of," emergency official Mike Cullums said.

Damage appeared heavy on Wheeling Island, home to 1,000 homes and businesses and a stadium, county emergency officials said. A few hundred homes also had water damage in New Cumberland, about 30 miles north, emergency officials said.

Problems were less severe than in September, when the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan spawned flooding and mudslides, the officials said.

The flooding came as temperatures warmed after a deadly storm crossed from the Plains into New England this week. The messy roads have been blamed in at least 17 traffic deaths, including nine in Oklahoma, and at least three people died in Michigan while shoveling snow. [...]

A pair of storms, meanwhile, were moving in on the West Coast, bringing fears of more beach-eroding high tides and dangerous mudslides. A regional winter storm warning was extended through Monday.

One storm reached the San Francisco Bay area late Thursday and began dumping rain in Southern California early Friday. Road crews cleared an overnight mudslide north of Ventura on Friday, and cars spun out along the rain- slickened Ventura Freeway.

The second storm was expected to move south through Washington and Oregon before reaching California on Friday night. [...]

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Snow falls on Vegas Strip as winter storm hits southern Nevada
January 8, 2004

LAS VEGAS - For a moment Friday, the view over the pool at the Mandalay Bay resort stopped casino workers in their tracks.

"It's snowing in Las Vegas," hotel spokesman Gordon Absher said as a winter storm swept into southern Nevada. "We looked out over the lagoon, and there's snow over the palm trees."

"It's beautiful," said Wendy Williams, an employee at Caesars Palace hotel-casino. "People are all, like, 'What's going on?'"

It's been about a year since a rare desert snowfall on the Las Vegas Strip, and Williams said her husband reported snow was falling heavier in the northwest neighborhood of Summerlin.

A dusting on cars was also reported in hillside neighborhoods across the Las Vegas valley in Henderson.

"We've got it all over," said Lisa Anderson, a Las Vegas police spokeswoman. She said that besides traffic tie-ups and fender-benders, no major problems were reported.

A Dec. 30, 2003, snowstorm was the first in five years to deposit an inch or two of snow on cars, trees, sidewalks and roads.

The National Weather Service predicted rain throughout the weekend in southern Nevada, with wind and heavy snow in the mountains.

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Officials prepare for possible flooding
By Barbara Feder Ostrov
Mercury News
Posted on Fri, Jan. 07, 2005

(San Jose, Calif.) - Brace yourselves for another wet and wild weekend.

An already waterlogged Bay Area is facing a powerful storm with a one-two punch of heavy rains and fierce winds that could cause flooding and power outages.

Winds could blow up to 60 mph on the coast and in the mountains, and the South Bay could receive as much as four inches of rain this weekend. Water district officials are predicting up to seven inches of rain in the Santa Cruz Mountains, swelling the Guadalupe River. Three to five feet of snow is expected to fall on the Sierra, with five to eight feet expected above 7,000 feet, according to the National Weather Service. [...]

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Flood warning for the south
Ireland On-line
07/01/2005 - 07:48:31

Met Eireann has issued a flood warning in the south of the country, with two and a half inches of rain predicted for some areas.

Forecasters said areas prone to flooding should be on the alert and there would be a particular risk of coastal floods this evening and tonight.

Heavy rains and winds are also expected to batter the rest of the country over the next 24 hours and Met Eireann said local flooding could be experienced in many areas.

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Rivers in flood in Otago
8 January 2005

There are road closures and stock losses in Otago, with farmers on notice to move animals to higher ground.

Very heavy rain has been falling overnight in the upper Pomohaka catchment, spilling over into catchments west of Lawrence through to Alexandra.

The Otago Regional Council says tributaries of the Pomahaka River and also the Clutha River are in flood.

Duty Flood Manager Chris Arbuckle says that water is now working its way down the system. [...]

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Vancouver, Victoria dealing with more snow

VANCOUVER (CP) - Six bus passengers got a terrifying ride Friday when near white-out conditions in the Fraser Valley led to a Greyhound sliding off the freeway and rolling onto its side.

In another accident attributed to blustery conditions that have brought snow and cold temperatures to the usually balmy Vancouver and Victoria, a child was killed on the Trans-Canada Highway east of Kamloops.

The B.C. Ambulance Service said a man, a woman and a nine-year-old girl were killed when a transport truck rolled onto a van. An infant was taken to hospital and is in fair condition, police said. The four are from Vancouver.

The crash closed the highway four kilometres east of Salmon Arm.
There were no serious injuries in the Greyhound accident but passengers had to crawl out a broken front window as the wind howled through an area known locally as the Sumas Prairie.

"I'm just really scared right now," said the young, shaken mother as others helped her keep her infant warm. "He (the bus driver) was driving beautifully and we're seeing all the cars in the ditch and then he says, 'Oh, no.' And then he said, 'Hang on' and we started going and I grabbed my baby and hung on."

Police said the conditions and not the driver were at fault. None of the passengers was seriously injured.

Despite the second day of ice, snow and below freezing temperatures in the Lower Mainland, made worse by biting winds, police in some areas were still telling motorists not to use summer tires. [ ...]

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India may be the first country to explain to the world about extra-terrestrial and UFO contacts – the secret debate is on

Staff Reporter
January 06, 2005

New Delhi is in the middle of a big secret internal debate. On one side the largest democracy of the world is eager to explain to its citizens and to the world about the ongoing contacts with the UFOs and extra-terrestrials. On the other hand there are invisible untold international protocols that prohibit doing anything that may cause worldwide fear and panic.

It is well accepted between the UFO and extra-terrestrial experts that all the five nuclear powers are in contact with the beings from other stars for quite some time. Recently India has seen enormous news on UFO contacts and secret UFO bases in Himalayas near the Chinese bases. In Ladak, for example the locals clearly point out the everyday phenomenon of large triangular spacecrafts coming out below the ground and Indian security forces protecting them.

Military officials and politicians have confessed the fact that India has been contacted. India has been told the rules of the Universe.

The current debate is on whether to keep it secret like other countries are doing or in tradition of a total transparent society come out and tell the truth. India is so open and democratic; it is very difficult to keep a secret for long. The biggest concern of the Government today is that unlike in other countries, it will be very difficult to keep it secret for long. If the information comes out through unofficial channels first and then the authorities are pressed against the wall to confess, two bad things can happen. First, it can really cause a panic in the country as well as the world. Second, the way the Indian politics is run, the ruling party will be thrown out of power in no time if it is ever found that the Government withheld such information from the public.

The recent rush of world leaders to India is remarkable. Starting from Russian President Putin to major Senators from America have visited or are planning to visit India. European Union is in deep discussion with India on cooperation. All sanctions against India’s nuclear programs and Indian Space Research Organization are in the process of being lifted. India is cooperating with Europeans and the Americans in space explorations and technology research program. India is also part of World Trade Organization. India is receiving major outsourcing contracts in IT and call-center service work from America and Europe. India’s Forex reserve is at a level never imagined before because of international direct investments from Western nations, Japan, Korea and others. Interestingly, China the arch rival of India changed its posture in the last few years to make India’s friendship and trade a priority. India is slowly getting to the point when it is accepted as a permanent member of the Security Council. All the five Security Council members China, America, Russia, France and UK support India’s inclusion.

When all these factors are added together and analyzed, it seems like India is being told by the world to abide by the hidden protocols and in exchange be recognized as a major emerging superpower.

The debate the country is facing internally is whether to abide by the laws of the world and the Universe to be recognized as a superpower or be truthful to its citizens and the world.

According to sources close to the Government, the UFO contacts is known by quite a few politicians in the opposition and of course by those who are in power.

The military has legitimate concern of not letting the secrets out either.

Recently, India’s foreign affairs minister Mr. Natwar Singh came out and said that for India it was not necessary to become a nuclear power. He is a strong supporter of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, India’s former Prime Minister who initiated the nuclear program in the mid sixties. India first exploded a nuclear device in Pokhran in early seventies. The whole country including people from his own party questioned Mr. Singh for such an irresponsible statement. But on analyzing his statements, it is evident, that based on what he knows now, being a nuclear power really does not matter much because the technologies controlled by the extra-terrestrials are so advanced that all our technologies mean really nothing. But importantly he may be irritated with this controversial ongoing secret debate and what he really meant was that if India was not a nuclear power, the debate on UFO and extra-terrestrials will never be there in India.

Comment: We doubt seriously that the decision of when to reveal the "secret of secrets" will be taken by some members of the Indian opposition party. In any case, if the western media decided not to cover such a story, or worse, to ridicule it, it would fall flat on its face anyway. In our opinion, disclosure of the long-known fact that "we are not alone" shall be done by degrees. First the teeny tiny microbes on Mars to gently acclimistise us to the idea of benevolent alien life. Step two is probably still open as to its exact details, so just sit back and watch the show, and in the infamous words of dubya "fool me once...shame...shame on....won't get fooled again!"

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