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Quantum Future Group Goes to Rennes-le-Chateau
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
© 2005 Pierre-Paul
Reds Under The Bed part
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
It is an important principle, of which those in Washington
and Whitehall currently sustaining bloodstained tyrannies elsewhere
might take note.
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
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
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
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
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."
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
| 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
"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
| 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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
“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
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
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.”
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.
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
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. [...]
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
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
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.
| 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
This was the second time Barghouti has been detained by police
in Jerusalem in recent weeks.
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
Nearly 2 million Palestinians are expected to show up at the
polls Sunday to choose a successor to the late Palestinian leader
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
Israeli military officials disputed that, saying troops opened
fire at an armed man on foot who approached a military post.
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
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. [...]
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
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
"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."
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
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
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
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
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
| 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
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
|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
"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
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
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
More than 66,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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.
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
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. [...]
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
"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
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
"Can't a couple of adults take down a child?'' Barnes
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
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
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
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.
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
"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."
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
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
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
"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. [...]
|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. [...]
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
"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,"
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
"There may be a simple explanation," Johnson said.
"But who knows?"
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
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
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
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
"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
Scientific evidence, however, cuts little ice with many conspiracy
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
"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,
"Recent alien contacts have been
reported with the South Asian Governments especially India.
UFO sightings have been rampant over the region affected,"
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Vigilance is the Price of Freedom" - Thomas Jefferson
911review.org 911review.com physics911.org wtc7.net
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.
the mangrove shield was lost
Powerful business interests left Asian coastal protection in
tatters before the tsunami, reports John Vidal
| Thursday January 6, 2005
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
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
"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.
| 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
The local emergency situations forces are in a state of alert,
the source said.
| 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
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.
| Widespread flooding has hit
the UK as high winds and torrential rain continue to lash the
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.
Motorists are being advised not to make journeys unless absolutely
It is the worst weather Cumbria has seen in almost 40 years,
fire officials said.
|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.
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
The Ingush Emergency Situations Ministry said that tremors
in the highlands were stronger.
(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
"They've been talking about it for years,"
Cazares said. "It still hasn't happened."
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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,"
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
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.
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
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.
(Indiana) - Rising flood water is everywhere
-- on the roads, fields or yards and in many basements across
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. [...]
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. [...]
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
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
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
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
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
The second storm was expected to move south through Washington
and Oregon before reaching California on Friday night. [...]
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
|SIERRA STORMS COULD BRING 8 FEET OF SNOW AT
(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. [...]
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.
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
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. [...]
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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