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© 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Zoellick selected as number two US diplomat
AFP
Fri Jan 7,12:07 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush said Robert Zoellick, the current US trade representative, would become the number two US diplomat at the new State Department to be led by Condoleezza Rice.

"Condoleezza Rice and Bob Zoellick will form one of the really strong, capable foreign policy teams our country has ever had," Bush said as he left the White House to start a trip to the midwestern state of Michigan.

He was joined by Zoellick and Rice, whom he has named to replace Colin Powell as secretary of state.

Zoellick's and Rice's nominations still must be confirmed by the US Senate.

Elected to a second term in November, Bush has been forced to name a number of new cabinet posts.

Rice, 50, is currently the president's national security advisor.

Zoellick, 51 has been the trade representative since Bush entered office in January, 2001. He will replace the current deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage.

Comment: The chaos that has resulted since the events of 9/11 as a direct result of the actions of Bush and his Neocon crew has been met with little real resistance from the American people and their "elected representatives". The White House has completely disregarded the will of the people, international law, and whatever or whomever else disagrees with their plans. Bush retains the legal power to declare anyone an enemy combatant, stripping them of any rights or liberties they may still possess - and that includes US citizens. The official US policy of torture remains, and seems to be continuing to this day despite official denials. Civil liberties are still being slowly eroded in the Land of the Free. Therefore, the idea that Bush was "forced" to name a number of new cabinet posts is patently ridiculous. Bush and his gang are holding all the cards.

We also notice that not much is being said about Zoellick in the mainstream media, aside from the fact that he has been the US trade representative since Bush Jr. took office in 2001, and that he also worked in the administration of Bush Sr. The following articles will shed some light on Zoellick, and perhaps the real motivations behind the current cabinet reshuffle.

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Enron: Who's Who
BBC

Robert Zoellick

Current job: US Trade Representative

Link to Enron: Mr Zoellick was a paid consultant on the Enron advisory board before joining the US administration.

He also owned Enron shares worth between $15,000 and $50,000, which he sold after joining the administration.

Mr Zoellick is the cabinet official in charge of negotiating trade deals for the Bush White House.

He is trying to open up foreign markets to US companies, including ambitious plans for expanding the North American Free Trade Area (currently including Canada, US, and Mexico) to the rest of the Latin America - a goal strongly backed by US industry.

Comment: It appears that Zoellick was involved in the Enron disaster...

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Whoppers of the Week: Robert Zoellick and the U.S. Steel Industry
Learning to love tariffs
By Timothy Noah
Slate.com
Friday, March 8, 2002

"[T]his does not affect the ability of the American companies and consumers. … I think in reality, it's hard to predict what the prices will be. … [G]uessing prices is not my business."
- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, in a March 5 briefing on the Bush administration's new tariffs on steel imports. Zoellick was responding to a question about whether the tariffs would affect consumers.

"[T]ariffs are nothing more than taxes that hurt low- and moderate-income people, who pay for a lot of the goods we import from Africa, whether it be clothes or shoes or food."
- Feb. 8 briefing by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. The subject was U.S. trade with Sub-Saharan Africa.

Comment: Here we notice that Zoellick likes to "change his mind" on important topics that affect the average citizen. Certainly nothing new here - most politicians and business leaders seem to be in the habit of lying incessantly...

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Trade Hypocrisy: The Problem with Robert Zoellick
By Kevin Watkins
openDemocracy
December 20, 2002

Robert Zoellick, the US Trade Representative, is a man with a mission backed by a sense of history. Writing in the 7 - 13 December edition of The Economist, he sketched the battle plan for an American crusade to promote global free trade, tracing the roots of the Bush administration’s policies back to the protestors who dumped English tea in Boston harbour.

The analogy was apt – but inadvertently so. After all, the dumping of agricultural produce is one area in which the United States retains a powerful comparative advantage, spending billions of dollars each year disposing of American farm surpluses in developing countries. Another area of trade policy in which the Bush administration exercises global leadership, superbly captured by the Zoellick manifesto, can be summarised in a single word, ‘hypocrisy’. Like the British colonialists that attracted the ire of the Boston tea party fraternity, the United States is a good old-fashioned mercantilist power, combining protectionism at home with a commitment to free trade overseas.

Of course, there are differences. In the 19th century, Britain opened markets through gunboat diplomacy and occupation. These days the preferred instruments for America’s crusade are the World Trade Organisation (WTO), regional trade pacts and bilateral agreements on open markets.

The road to Illsville

Nothing better illustrates the double standard of current US trade policy than agriculture. Consider the case of cotton. In 2001, the US Commodity Credit Corporation spent $4bn subsidising the income of cotton producers, a fraternity comprising some 25,000 corporate farms in California, Texas, Mississippi and elsewhere.

Given that the world market value of the cotton crop was slightly over $3bn, one might question whether the Bush administration’s farm policies owe more to the principles of Bolshevik state planning or the market principles espoused by Zoellick. But as the world’s largest cotton exporter, domestic subsidies in America have global consequences. According to the International Cotton Advisory Committee, they lowered world prices by around one-quarter, reinforcing the deepest and most protracted depression in world cotton markets since the Great Depression.

Skip from the subsidy fest in Texas to West Africa and you can see the results. The latter is a region where some 11 million households depend on cotton cultivation for their livelihoods, and where cotton is a crucial source of foreign exchange and government revenue. At a conservative estimate, it lost some $200m in 2001 as a direct consequence of American farm subsidies.

To put this figure in context, it dwarfs the amount that governments in the region receive in the form of US aid or debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. And behind the number there are real people, ‘agricultural labourers who get lower wages, small farmers who have less to spend on food and health, and children being taken out of school because their parents can no longer afford the fees.’

Like his illustrious predecessors, Robert Zoellick likes to wax lyrical about the merits of a ‘level playing field’ in agriculture. No doubt President Bush himself will waste no opportunity to press on African producers the benefits of open markets when he visits the region in January. But what sort of level playing field is it when the subsidies given to corporate cotton farms in America are bigger than the entire national income of cotton-producing countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali? This is a level playing field that slopes all the way downhill from Texas.

US farm policy and world poverty

[...] Under the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act, the administration is committed to spending up to $20bn a year in farm subsidies, an increase of around 10% over the last farm bill. Moreover, the new legislation introduces elements that will be deeply damaging to developing countries. It reinforces the link between subsidies and output, raising the spectre of an expanded surplus to be dumped on world markets. And by shifting the burden of supporting farm incomes away from the market and on to taxpayers, it enables agribusiness exporters such as Cargill and Archer Daniels to get access to produce at prices far below costs of production.

Comment: In other words, Zoellick advocates taking more money out of the pockets of hard-working Americans and tossing it all into the coffers of huge corporations.

The upshot is relatively straightforward. Smallholder farmers in developing countries – ‘a group that accounts for three-quarters of all people living below the extreme poverty line of less than $1 a day’ – will continue to face grossly unfair competition in local and global markets. [...]

Looking beyond agriculture, it is difficult to avoid being struck by the discrepancy between the picture of US trade policy painted by Zoellick and the realities facing developing countries.

To take one example, much has been made of America’s generosity towards Africa under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This provides what, on the surface, looks like free market access for a range of textile, garment and footwear products. Scratch the surface and you get a different picture. Under AGOA’s so-called rules-of-origin provisions, the yarn and fabric used to make apparel exports must be made either in the United States or an eligible African country. If they are made in Africa, there is a ceiling of 1.5 per cent on the share of the US market that the products in question can account for. Moreover, the AGOA’s coverage is less than comprehensive. There are some 900 tariff lines not covered, for which average tariffs exceed 11%.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the benefits accruing to Africa from the AGOA would be some $420m, or five times, greater if the US removed the rules-of-origin restrictions. But these restrictions reflect the realities of mercantilist trade policy. The underlying principle is that you can export to America, provided that the export in question uses American products rather than those of competitors. For a country supposedly leading a crusade for open, non-discriminatory global markets, it’s a curiously anachronistic approach to trade policy.

Africa’s experience under the AGOA reflects a deeper problem in US trade policy which, as a seasoned user of selective data, Zoellick is adept at obscuring. As he rightly told readers of The Economist, America has the rich world’s lowest trade-weighted tariff barriers. The average level is around 1.5%. But averages obscure wide variations, including the far higher levels of tariff facing many of the world’s poorest countries.

In fact, the US places far higher tariffs on the least developed countries than the EU, with an average of 13% compared to 2%. In the case of agriculture, the average tariff on imports from the same countries is 28%. Moreover, America subjects a far higher share of manufactured imports from poor countries to tariff peaks in excess of 15%, principally because of the high level of import taxes applied to textiles and garments. This helps to explain why revenues collected by the United States on imports from Bangladesh are roughly equivalent to those collected on imports from France, even though the latter are some twelve times larger. [...]

Looking beyond issues of agriculture and market access, some of the claims made by Zoellick simply defy credibility. Take, for example, his suggestion that the US is leading the way in implementing the Doha public health declaration.

This was a commitment undertaken by northern governments at the start of the WTO round to ensure that trade-related intellectual property rules (TRIPs) do not compromise public health in developing countries by raising the costs of medicines. The US has in fact comprehensively reneged on this commitment.

For all the complexities involved, the issues at stake are relatively simple. The application of twenty-year patents to drugs, as required under TRIPs, will have the effect of raising prices, unless countries are allowed to produce and import generic copies. For countries lacking strong domestic generic industries, including sub-Saharan Africa, the right to import from countries with such industries ‘such as Brazil and India’ is critical.

Far from seeking to enshrine this right in WTO rules by allowing a general waiver from TRIPs for public health purposes, the US is insisting that the claims of developing country governments should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and that both the importing country and the country exporting the generic drug should be required to seek authorisation.

This will open the door to endless litigation, which is presumably what is intended. The US pharmaceuticals industry, architect of the TRIPs agreement and author of Zoellick’s negotiating scripts, is well placed to contest claims against financially-strapped third-world governments, few of which will contemplate legal action. The losers, of course, will be the millions of poor households who will face higher costs for the treatment, and the prospect of increased vulnerability to ill health.

The focal point for the debate on TRIPs is the WTO. But there is growing evidence, reinforced by Zoellick’s article in The Economist, that this may be misplaced. The locus of US policy has shifted strongly towards regional agreements, spearheaded by negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement for the Americas (FTAA), and bilateral deals such as that recently concluded with Singapore. [...]

The second change is the erosion of the principle of special and differential treatment. When Zoellick recently tabled his proposal for zero tariffs on manufactured goods, he was including developing countries. It is worth reflecting for a moment on the sheer scale of the inequity implied by this approach. Because average tariffs in developing countries are far higher than in America, they would have to make far deeper cuts and absorb far higher adjustment costs than the world’s richest country – a novel approach to special treatment.

More importantly, the Zoellick zero-option reflects an approach to the relationship between trade policy and poverty reminiscent of the most crass thinking in the IMF and the World Bank twenty years ago. There is no question that carefully designed and properly sequenced trade liberalisation can be good for growth and for poverty reduction. But the ‘big bang’ liberalisation model envisaged under the US proposal is a prescription for de-industrialisation, rising inequality and poverty. Countries such as China and Vietnam have succeeded in capturing the benefits of integration into global markets in part by doing the opposite of what Zoellick advocates, liberalising imports slowly as part of a broader domestic reform programme.

At one point in his article, Robert Zoellick berates ‘anti-globalisation nihilists’ and special interest groups for seeking to obstruct his free trade mission. He might want to reflect on whether his brand of nihilism and blind pursuit of US economic and corporate special interest represents an obstacle to the creation of an international trading system capable of extending the benefits of globalisation to the world’s poor.

Kevin Watkins is Oxfam's head of research.

Comment: We begin to see a clearer picture of who Zoellick is, and what he has "accomplished" as the US trade guru...

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Robert Zoellick and "Wise Blood"

The Hazel Motes Approach to International Trade

By TONI SOLO
Counterpunch.org
November 8, 2003

It takes one bizarre fiction to understand another. Flannery O'Connor's 1952 novel "Wise Blood" is full of insight into its not so distant relation "Free Trade". Hazel Motes, O'Connor's would-be nihilist protagonist, preaches a "Church without Christ" with all the zealous fervour of Zoellick's devotion to "Free Trade" without free trade. Lurking in the the novel is Zoellick's real doppelganger, Asa Hawkes, the fake-blind preacher who cons people into parting with their money, believing he blinded himself for his faith.

Like Hawkes, Zoellick is a superb and practised faith-based con-man. Preaching free trade, he trails a long history of private business interests in predatory multinational corporations like Vivendi, Enron, Goldman Sachs, Alliance Capital and SAID Holdings, the Bermuda-based South African patent and copyright security specialists. His outlook melds seamlessly into the Bush regime's deliberate confusion of the wishes of their rule-bending plutocrat buddies with the interests of the United States people.

Never mind the evangelism, feel the Clausewitz

Zoellick's pronouncements deserve attention. Like the other mercenary fanatics surrounding George W. Bush, his evangelism is one of arrogant candour. A member of Bush's Cabinet with the rank of Ambassador, he assumed office as 13th U.S. Trade Representative on February 7, 2001, unanimously confirmed by the Senate. In fact, as Bush's principal trade policy adviser and chief trade negotiator, he puts big business first and the United States people last.

In the early 1990s, Zoellick worked as an economics undersecretary for George Bush the Elder and led negotiations for the State Department in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). During the 1997-1998 academic year, he was the Olin Professor of National Security at the U.S. Naval Academy. This interest in security is natural for a man who sees aggressive trade negotiation as the furtherance of war aims by other means.

Comment: Now that's an interesting comment, don't you think? The new assistant to the secretary of state has interests in national security and waging economic war...

The unvarying tenet in Zoellick's creed is the manifest US destiny to dominate world trade. A multilateral approach incorporating US pre-eminence seemed possible in the early 1990s during the Uruguay Round of trade talks when poorer developing countries were less able to defend their interests. The 2001 Doha meeting showed the limitations of that approach from the point of view of the US. [...]

In a widely reported speech in May this year to the Institute for International Economics, Zoellick said, "The U.S. seeks cooperation--or better--on foreign policy and security...Given that the U.S. has international interests beyond trade, why not try to urge people to support our overall policies? Negotiating a free-trade agreement with the U.S. is not something one has a right to--it's a privilege." This callow brand of intimidation and bribery is nothing new. The Reagan administration used PL480 agricultural aid and other concessions to bribe and cajole Honduras into serving as a military base for illegal terrorist aggression against Nicaragua throughout the 1980s.

Zoellick tries to put a benevolent gloss on the strategy, alluding to the not so altruistic Marshall program in post-World War Two Europe, "American trade policies are connected to our broader economic, political and security aims. This intellectual integration may confound some trade scholars, but it follows in the footsteps of reconstruction after 1945." [2] But the consistent nitty gritty of the US "free trade" message is "do what we want--or else..."

Imposing the "Free trade" catechism

[...] When brow beating evangelism fails, Zoellick can call on his US government colleagues to elicit appropriate measures from the ever cooperative IMF and World Bank to help reluctant converts see the light and speak in "free trade" tongues. Under Bush, "free trade" has been carried the world over by Zoellick and his apostles. In 2000 Jordan became the first Arab country to sign a deal with the US. Similar agreements have been reached recently with Singapore and Chile. A deal with Morocco is in the offing. Bahrain is next in line. Occupied Iraq is another obvious candidate.

When things need spelling out, Zoellick is very clear. With China, he urges "to keep U.S. markets open, we need a two-way street to try to expand U.S. exports to China and operate in fair, transparent ways." His comments on patent and copyright are especially interesting, "You need some prosecutions and (to) put some people away...If it just becomes a fine or a cost of doing business, then you're not going to be able to stop intellectual property piracy." It is interesting to note these remarks on criminal prosecution come from one of fraudulent Enron's most influential former paid advisers. [4] [...]

Comment: Despite the deceptively small amount of Enron shares that Zoellick owned, it seems he was a key player in the notorious company.

Galileo would recognise the deal

The Zoellick doctrine of universal "free trade" without free trade brooks no heresy and has no time for genuine science. In March this year Zoellick announced he was building a "coalition"--funny how they keep cropping up--to force the EU to lift its moratorium on GM foods and biotech products. Zoellick told the Senate Finance Committee March 5. "I don't want this to be just the U.S. versus EU." [7]

At a May 13th press briefing on the matter he claimed the EU moratorium was stalling biotechnology development and blocking its "benefits", especially in developing countries. "In places where food is scarce or climates can be harsh, increased agricultural productivity through biotechnology can spell the difference between life and death, between health and disease, for millions of the world's poorest people." Through the crocodile tears and against available scientific evidence Zoellick argues that biotechnology increases crop yields but still miraculously benefits the environment. Unfortunately for him, results of scrupulously conducted recent British field trials tell a different story.[8]

In the US, writer Mark Schapiro has followed transgenic crops from their beginnings. He writes, "Monsanto alone poured at least a billion dollars into biotech research, according to NPR technology correspondent Daniel Charles in his book Lords of the Harvest, "before it had a single genetically engineered plant to sell." Other companies--DuPont, Dow, Aventis and Syngenta--spent billions more on research and on a seed-company buying spree that lasted well into the 1990s. The stakes for these companies are huge." [9] Zoellick works to benefit giant US agri-business biotech companies while ruthlessly pursuing policies that impoverish millions of African farmers. [...]

Breaking eggs for the globalized corporate omelette

The deals are not just bad for their foreign victims, they are bad for ordinary people in the US. They will encourage even further a low wage service economy in the US while the corporate elite make their fortunes even more vast than they are already by investing in weak economies overseas. In the past those investments were enforced and protected using US military muscle, as in Latin America throughout the last century.

In the new millenium, trying to extend and consolidate US global reach, Zoellick is using trade more intricately than ever to underpin US foreign strategy in a cost-effective way through bilateral and regional deals. The deals are characterised by secrecy, intense political pressure and fierce resistance to attempts at addressing local concerns that may limit the rewards for US corporate investors, especially in relation to health and safety and to the environment.

The zealot Hazel Motes may be the public negotiating persona of Robert Zoellick. But Zoellick is neither blind nor crazy. He simply has no interest in the massive human cost, whether in the United States or abroad, of his lucrative global evangelical mission on behalf of corporate monopoly capitalism.

Toni Solo is an activist based in Central America. He can be reached at: tonisolo52@yahoo.com

NOTES

1 Zoellick wants WTO deal by 2005. <CNN.com> September 4, 2003.

2 'Unleashing the trade winds', The Economist, December 5, 2002. Quoted in "Freeing trade or trading in trade?" K. Subramanian. Financial Daily (from THE HINDU publications group) Dec 24, 2002

3 "Property (Rights) is Theft" Gabriela Bocagrande, Texas Observer, 8/17/2001

4 "Trade official says U.S. needs `fair opportunity' to export to China" By Tim Johnson, Knight Ridder NewspapersOct 27, 2003

5 "USTR Zoellick Says Free Trade is About Freedom Holds Johhannesburg Press Conference" By Charles W. Corey Washington File Correspondent. Thursday 21 February 2002 (usinfo.state.gov).

6 AL-AHRAM On line, 3-9 July 2003 Issue No. 645

7 "U.S. Seeks Partners for WTO Challenge to EU Biotech Moratorium", By Berta Gomez. Washington File Staff Writer March 5, 2003, U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs,

8 "GM crops fail key trials amid environment fears. Two out of three strains 'should not be grown' Paul Brown, environment correspondent Guardian. October 2, 2003

9 "Sowing disaster?" Mark Schapiro. The Nation. October 2002.

10 "WTO-USTR Says Other Nations Must 'Compromise' Or WTO Meeting in Doha Could End in Failure", International Trade Daily, October 31, 2001

11 "Trade hypocrisy: the problem with Robert Zoellick" Kevin Watkins, 20-12-2002, www.opendemocracy.net

12 "Markets Must Open, U.S. Warns" by Tim Rogers and Fabian Borges, Tico Times October 7, 2003

13 Congresswoman Aida Faingenzicht, of the ruling Social Christian Unity Party. Quoted in Tico Times San Jose, Costa Rica, October 31, 2003

14 "U.S. To Pursue Number of Objectives at November FTAA Meeting in Quito" 15 October 2002 Washington File, Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.

15 El Nuevo Diario, Managua Nicaragua 23 October 2003 & 28 October 2003

16 "Cuzcatlecos alertan a los ticos: Salvadorenos pagan hasta 300% mas que en Costa Rica por servicios telefonicos" by Alonso Gomez Vargas 22 October 2003 www.rebelion.org

17 January 8th Press release. www.precursorgroup.com

Comment: Zoellick has been instrumental in using economic intimidation to help extend US global reach. One wonders what "miracles" he might be able to perform as the Number 2 US diplomat. We also have to wonder what role he might play if the US economy crashes and burns in the near future as many expect. As an "expert" on trade matters and economic warfare, perhaps he would be a good candidate to convince the American people in the near future that the wrecked US economy was the result of "economic terrorism" on the part of countries that "hate our freedoms"...

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Robert Zoellick Considered Frontrunner For World Bank President
By Joe De Capua
VOA News
10-December-2004 1612

The New York Times reports today that US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is the frontrunner to become the next president of the World Bank. He would replace James Wolfensohn, whose second term ends next spring.

Mr. Zoellick has succeeded in launching a new round of multilateral trade talks and has championed regional and bilateral trade deals. Among those following developments is Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby. Mr. Mallaby is also author of “The World’s Banker: A Story of Failed States, Financial Crises and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” which chronicles the tenure of James Wolfensohn. He was also a journalist with The Economist Magazine. In Washington, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.

“Well, the first strong point that Bob Zoellick has is that he is extraordinarily smart. Of all the cabinet members in the Bush Administration, he probably is the most creative intellectually and comes up the smartest ways of thinking around obstacles. The other thing he has is that he launched the DOHA development round. The trade negotiations, which unlike previous rounds, sort of targeted at helping poor countries. And that’s obviously a great qualification for the World Bank job. Not only because it shows you care about poor countries, but it also because in launching this round he developed a lot of contacts in developing countries, which would put him in a good position when he, or if he, took over the World Bank,” he says.

Mr. Zoellick has spent the past week in West and Southern Africa. Asked whether there is any controversial in Mr. Zoellick’s policies, Mr. Mallaby replied, “ You can’t be the US Trade Representative without having some controversies. He’s gotten into fights about AIDS drug access for poor countries. Whether US patent protections on pharmaceuticals should be relaxed so that poor countries get better access. I would say he’s been on the good side of that debate. He’s tried to fight for a relaxation in the patent rules so that poor countries get more access. But there are certainly advocates out there who say he didn’t do enough. So, that’s one controversy. Another one has been that he’s been in the middle of a fight about how much trade agreements should have labor or environmental standards built into them. And again, I would say he’s moved the ball in favor of more environmental protections in trade agreements. But again, there are people who say he hasn’t done enough.”

Mr. Mallaby says Robert Zoellick has a reputation of pushing for bilateral and regional trade agreements, which have been described by many economists as hurting developing countries.

He also says anyone succeeding James Wolfensohn at the World Bank would have a hard time, describing Mr. Wolfensohn as a “tempestuous force of nature.”

Comment: Notice that Mallaby's final comment in this article basically contradicts the first two quotes attributed to him regarding Zoellick's work on trade issues. Mallaby's last statement seems to support the information presented in the previous two articles.

This article was found on the Voice of America web site. On the About VOA page, we find the following:

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people.

A US-government funded news site reported on December 10, 2004 that Zoellick was next in line for the position of president of the World Bank - yet Zoellick chose instead to accept the position in Bush's revised State Department...

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New team at US State Department
By Guy Dinmore in Washington and Reuters
Financial Times
Jan 7 2005 00:37
A new-look team at the US State Department emerged on Thursday, with the choice of Robert Zoellick as deputy to Condoleezza Rice and the expected departure of John Bolton, a controversial hawk on arms control.

The changes were interpreted by some officials as further evidence that the second Bush administration intended to work more closely with its allies. Others said it came down to personality issues and more style than substance.

Comment: Another interesting comment... Which allies are "some officials" referring to, we wonder?

Mr Bolton, reported by Reuters to be returning to the private sector, had the reputation of being hard-hitting and uncompromising on preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

He was also seen as a loose cannon who at times undermined the diplomatic efforts of Colin Powell, secretary of state for the last four years. In one memorable exchange of insults with North Korea, he was described as “human scum” by Pyongyang.

Comment: Is there such a thing as being too hard-hitting and uncompromising in the Bush government? Recall that Bolton is a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which published a manifesto entitled 'Rebuilding America's Defenses' that has strongly guided the Bush administration's policy. Perhaps he is returning to the private sector to rake in some hard-earned bucks.

One official said he expected Ms Rice to take Robert Joseph with her from the national security council to replace Mr Bolton. Ms Rice, national security adviser, is due to have her Senate confirmation hearing on January 18.

“People from one part of the foreign policy establishment are moving to another. It is not a sea change, but frankly more of the same,” a senior official said. European diplomats in Washington welcomed the news of the appointment of Mr Zoellick as deputy secretary. He is currently trade representative. Their reaction was partly out of relief that Ms Rice would not bring a team dominated by the ideological neoconservatives who held sway in Washington in the first term.

Mr Zoellick, 51, regarded as a tough, effective negotiator, has had wide experience dealing with multilateral institutions. He served in the Treasury in the 1980s and was the chief US official handling the unification of Germany and the cold war aftermath, when he worked closely with Ms Rice under President George H.W. Bush.

It is rare for a serving cabinet member to take a lesser ranking job as a deputy. But people close to the discussions said on Thursday that President George W. Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney were keen to restore the State Department as an effective voice in the administration.

“The president had a transformational foreign policy . . . now we are looking for a transformational diplomacy in his second term,” said an official. [...]

Comment: Note the comment about European diplomats being so relieved about Zoellick's appointment because it means that Rice's team would not be dominated by Neocons. The phrase "European diplomats" is rather general. Did one diplomat express relief, or multiple diplomats? Which countries do they represent? Although technically not considered a "hardcore" Neocon by most, Rice has certainly demonstrated her unwavering devotion to the Neocon cause enough to be labeled a "Neocondi". As for Zoellick, isn't he a Neocon, too?

Before we investigate that question, we couldn't help but notice the comment in this article about how a serving cabinet member taking a lesser ranking job is rare...

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Observer - US: Is Zoellick trading up?
Financial Times

News that Robert Zoellick is moving from his post as US trade representative to deputy secretary of state under Condoleezza Rice should not be taken as a demotion. Zoellick is no shrinking violet, and he would never consider the deputy job without assurances that he will have power and influence in the administration.

Zoellick knows Rice from his Bush One days. He worked as a top aide to James Baker, then secretary of state, while Rice worked at the White House under Brent Scowcroft, then national security adviser. Both collaborated on the highly successful US policy which led to the peaceful unification of Germany (later described in a fact-filled book, co-authored by Rice).

Before last November's presidential election, Rice signalled that she was interested in moving from her post as national security adviser to run the Pentagon. Observer hears Zoellick, among others, urged her to take a second look at the State Department.

His argument was that State could play an influential role, as long as Rice kept her link to the president and assembled a top-class team at the top. This was precisely the model which James Baker employed to great effect, even though it left many career diplomats out of the loop.

Zoellick, who prides himself on being a strategic thinker, seems to have persuaded Rice that there are lessons to be learnt from the past - as well as ways to avoid being surrounded by hard-nosed neo-cons as she was in Bush's first term. [...]

Comment: Here again we are presented with the idea that having Rice and Zoellick in the State Department will somehow reduce the influence of Neocons on US diplomatic efforts.

The following article is a translation of a piece on Paul Wolfowitz from Réseau Voltaire.

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Theoretician of Violence: Paul Wolfowitz, the Heart of the Pentagon
Translated from Réseau Voltaire
[...]

Having become a key figure of the neo-conservatives, [Wolfowitz] is recruited by George W Bush in the fall of 1998 in order to serve as an assistant on questions of foreign policy beside a personality then very near to the republican candidate, Condoleezza Rice. With her, he sets up the team of the "Vulcans", in reference to the Roman god who forges divine weapons in the depths of volcanos. Specialized in international relations, the team consists of eight members: Rice and Wolfowitz, naturally, but also Richard Armitage, Richard Bead, Dov Zakheim, Stephen Hadley, Robert Blackwill and Robert Zoellick.

At the same time, a second team, led by Rumsfeld, is also created in the wake of the campaign of George W Bush. Its objective: to promote the anti-missile shield project. One finds several Vulcans there (Rice, Wolfowitz, Hadley and Perle), but also external personalities such as George Schultz or Martin Anderson. The very great contribution of Paul Wolfowitz in the presidential campaign of George W Bush - whom he briefs with Condoleeza Rice before the televised debate with Al Gore - deserves a reward after the final victory. This reward is made concrete by the return to the fold of the "child of the Pentagon", this time in the Number 2 position. [...]

Comment: Obviously, Zoellick and Rice have both been right smack in the middle of the group of core Neocons the whole time. But Zoellick, it seems, has other priorities...

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Flashback: Ayoon wa Azan (United States Trade Representative)

Jihad Al Khazen
Al-Hayat
2003/08/29

I started taking interest in the [United States Trade Representative (USTR)] following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. I noticed that the representatives of the office visiting recently independent countries in Central Asia, the population of which was mainly Muslim, would impose the condition of dealing and trading with Israel to receive American aids. Since these countries were coming out of decades of poverty in the Soviet experience, they implemented what the USTR's representatives asked, the majority of which are American Jews supporting Israel.

Later on, I was drawn to the fact that 13 men and women had consecutively occupied the position of trade representative, and that the last three or four of them were American Jews. This is not an accusation but a strange coincidence, since American Jews make up around 2% of the population. Appointing one of them makes it 1/50. Appointing three of them, consecutively, makes it a coincidence of choosing 1/125,000. Appointing four makes it more than 1/6,000,000, which refutes coincidence.

Michael Kantor was the trade representative between 1993 and 1996. Succeeded by Charlene Barshefsky between 1997 and 2000. Then came Zoellick. Each of them is a committed Zionist, without, however, necessarily being a neo-conservative. This is why I chose to leave the USTR for another day.

Still, I can say, through my follow-up on the USTR's work that it promotes Israel and imposes on the poor countries to deal with it as a condition to benefit from relations with the United States. I have recently fallen upon an example of this in an unexpected source; it was a Mexican magazine, which said that during Zoellick's tenure, fruits and vegetables were not allowed to cross the U.S. borders from Mexico, although they were not banned before.

At the same time, the Jewish magazine for Los Angeles mentioned that America had started importing the same sorts of fruits and vegetables from Israel. Moreover, the Mexican magazine said that the Office of the USTR had planned to replace their imports from Mexico with those from Israel. I leave the reader to judge between the two parties. The [Mexican] magazine says that Zoellick used the 9/11 terrorism two years ago to help Israel at Mexico's expense. Zoellick replied that fruits and vegetables imported from Mexico could be polluted or poisoned by terrorists.

Comment: On the October 14, 2004 Signs page, we included an article from Asia Times entitled Sidelined neo-cons stoke future fires which contains the following:

Led by arch-realists Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage, the State Department gradually wrested control over policy towards Syria and Iran. With US troops bogged down next door, a policy of confrontation, as advocated by neo-cons, not only risked another war, the realists argued, but could also invite more damaging efforts by both Damascus and Tehran to destabilize Iraq.

Although basically a "yes man", Powell is really not considered a Neoconservative. Both he and Richard Armitage, whom Zoellick will replace, did appear to be less than enthusiastic when it came to talk of invading Syria and Iran.

So, Neocondi is replacing "arch-realist" Powell, Zionist Zoellick is replacing Neocon Armitage, and Rice's old job will be taken over by Stephen (J) Hadley, who is generally a good little Neocon like Condi. It seems that the goal of at least part of the reshuffling of the Bush administration is not to minimize the effect of the Neocons on US policy, but rather to remove any individuals who present roadblocks to the Neocons agenda while increasing Zionist influence in the US administration.

It is obvious that the events in Iraq indicate that the US will certainly need more troops if it intends to invade Syria, Iran, or any other country. The impending economic crash in the US will certainly provide the necessary manpower as more and more US citizens stricken by poverty are left with no choice but to join the military for reasons of survival.

In any case, Rice will certainly run the State Department in a fashion more in line with Neocon policy, and the Zionist Zoellick will most likely ensure that US diplomacy stays on the track that the current Zionist leadership dictates. Why would he reject the presidency of the World Bank? Because with a position at the right hand of the US Secretary of State, Zoellick will have far more power and influence to shape the world according to the will of the Zionist leadership. Tthe path towards more war, chaos, and destruction has been cleared of any obstacles.

As for Condi's replacement...

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The Second Bush Administration

Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor

Translated from Réseau Voltaire

Unknown to the public at large, Stephen Hadley has carried on a brilliant career in the shadow of Brent Scowcroft and Condoleeza Rice. A business lawyer convicted of fraud, he became the lawyer of the largest arms manufacturer in the world, Lockheed Martin. He trained the candidate George W. Bush, wrote up the new nuclear doctrine, prepared the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, supervised new entries into NATO, and sold the invasion of Iraq. Ever faithful, he protected Bush the father from the Irangate scandal and Bush the son from the lies of the Iraq war. He now finds himself rewarded by becoming National Security Advisor.

Among the hard core of the Second Bush Administration, Stephen J. Hadley is the least known element to the public and the least visible personality. He plays, nonetheless, a central role.

Leaving Yale University, where he got his law degree, calling himself Steven Hadley, he joined the Secretary of Defense as controller of the analysis group. Richard Nixon had not yet signed the Peace Accord with Vietnam. Noticed by General Brent Scowcroft, an associate of Henry Kissinger and who succeeded him as National Security Advisor, Mr. Hadley joined the National Security Council in 1975 under the Ford Administration. In 1977, when the Republicans lost the White House, he left public service for the private sector. He joined the firm Shea & Gardner, legal counsel to the world’s largest arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, as a lawyer. The firm then had to face a scandal that began in Japan and extended to Europe: the company had corrupted political leaders who, one by one, were forced to resign. Hadley kept this job for twenty-four years, including the periods when he returned to public life or when he invested himself in a firm for strategic counseling.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Mr. Steven Hadley set up an insurance fraud of close to 1.1 million dollars. He was discovered, found guilty by a court in Iowa, and forced to reimburse the money. To erase any trace to his crime, he changed his name to Stephen John Hadley.

When Ronald Reagan took the White House, Mr. Hadley stayed in the private sector. However, in 1986, the Irangate scandal broke. President Reagan appointed a commission of three wise men to look into it. It was composed of the Texan Senator John Tower, Edmund Muskie [1], and Brent Scowcroft who called once more Stephen J. Hadley to his side. In spite of the implausibility, the commission concluded that President Reagan and Vice-President Bush were innocent. They found that the financing of the Contras in Nicaragua through the trafficking of drugs and illegal weapons sales to Iran was a secret initiative of over-zealous members of the National Security Council, put into place without the knowledge of their superiors.

In 1989, George H. Bush (father) took the place of Ronald Reagan. To thank those who had whitewashed him, he named Brent Scowcroft National Security Advisor and John Tower Secretary of Defense. But the link was too obvious, and the Senate resisted. Finally, Mr. Tower [2] withdrew for the benefit of Dick Cheney who took Stephen Hadley into his service as assistant for International Security Policy, that is, as the liaison officer with Scowcroft. He would notably be involved with the invasion of Panama and the Gulf War. He was also the special envoy of Cheney to the post-Soviet States. In 1993 Clinton swept away the Republicans. General Brent Scowcroft returned to private security consulting. He created his own firm, the Scowcroft Group, where he surrounded himself with proven talent, notably General Colin Powell, Stephen Hadley, and Condoleeza Rice.

Hadley added this responsibility to his job at Shea & Gardner. He was soon joined by another former collaborator of Scowcroft, Democratic Ambassador R. James Woolsey, specialist in the balance of arms and ephemeral director of the CIA.

As lawyer for Lockheed Martin, Hadley was in contact with the directors of the firm, notably Lyne Cheney (wife of Dick). He became close with Bruce P. Jackson, the vice-president of the firm in charge of conquering new markets. They developed together the US Committee to Expand NATO into which they brought Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. The Committee steered the entry of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999. Then that of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latonia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Each time, the leaders of the new member States were solicited to bring their armies up to the norms of NATO, that is to say, to purchase material from Lockheed Martin. The pressure was so strong that certain of them denounced “the racket” into which they were forced.

During this period, Hadley also invested himself in a think tank of the extreme right, the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP). Nostalgic for Dr. Strangelove, they studied all possible uses for the atomic bomb. With thirty or so people, including his colleague R. James Woolsey, Hadley participated in a working group that produced the celebrated report Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces.

In 2001 this group would be integrated into the Bush Administration in a consultation panel on concepts of deterrence (Deterrence Concepts Advisory Panel). He reformulated the report to make it official nuclear doctrine (Nuclear Posture Review) in January 2002. During the Cold War, NIPP ensured the development of the atomic bomb for protection against the Red Menace. Once the USSR disappeared, NIPP made sure that they had to continue to develop the bomb because they didn’t know who the next enemy would be. It was therefore necessary to prepare for all eventualities by inventing and producing new types of atomic bombs, notably tactical nuclear weapons.

Mr. Hadley is also a director of Advanced National Strategies and Enabling Results (ANSWER), a private institute issued from Rand Corporation and that works exclusively for government agencies. There he rubs shoulders with former directors of the Pentagon and the CIA, who are usually also members of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals. ANSWER has a discrete subsidiary, Legi-Slate, a specialist in the study of parliamentary documents having to do with questions of defense. This is a joint venture with the Washington Post.

Between 1998 and 2000 ANSWER and CSIS [3] developed a new concept - Homeland Security. The word “Homeland” was before this absent from political discourse because it was badly viewed in a nation of immigrants, and the expression “Homeland Security” was totally unknown. It designates the necessity of preparing the country to confront an attack by weapons of mass destruction. This includes everything from protective measures against the dealings of the enemy to the organization of large-scale emergency aid and the continuity of government.

The working group at the CSIS included thirty or so people, including L. Paul Bremmer III, Richard Clarke, General Wayne Downing, and, obviously, R. James Woolsey and Stephen J. Hadley, who was the only one to sit both on ANSWER and CSIS.

Hadley also participated in a group of eight specialists, trained by Condoleeza Rice, the Vulcans. Like the Roman God who forged weapons for the Gods in the bottom of volcanoes, they trained the candidate George W. Bush in international politics.

Upon his arrival in the White House, George W. Bush reformed the National Security Council. He totally reorganized the work in sub-committees [4] and created a post of Deputy Advisor that he gave to Mr. Hadley.

It wasn’t a surprise that one of the eleven policy coordination committees was named “proliferation, counter-proliferation and homeland security”.

In a general fashion, George W. Bush opened the doors of his administration to Lockheed Martin. The directors and managers of the firm colonized the posts of high responsibility: vice-president Norman Mineta became Transportation Secretary, director of operations Peter B. Teets took over the direction of the Air Force and NRO, the deputy director of the firm, Everet Beckner, took over the direction of nuclear programmes, a lobbyist of the firm, Otto Reich [5] was named to the Latin America bureau of the State Department, etc. [...]

In 2002 Stephen Hadley supervised the creation of the Project on transitional Democracies, once again with his friend Bruce P. Jackson. It was a matter of bringing together the military-industrial complex with the “spontaneous revolutions” that the National Security Council was in the process of planning for Central and Eastern Europe: Georgia, Belarus, the Ukraine, etc. and to integrate these States into NATO.

Comment: Strangely enough, Ukraine did seem to have a "spontaneous revolution" recently that works in America's favor...

In December of the same year, the two accomplices created the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. This organization, that would go on to dramatically increase the number of its public meetings and interventions in the media in order to mobilize US public opinion for the war, was administrated by a board exclusively composed of shareholders and employees of Lockheed Martin [6]. To sell this war, Mr. Hadley was active on all fronts. It was he who transmitted the documents attesting that Saddam Hussein attempted to obtain nuclear materials from Niger to the UN. It was also he again who attested to the secret rendezvous in Prague between Mohammed Atta, presumed chief of the September 11 attacks, and a responsible of the Iraqi secret service. He took from that the proof that “Saddam” had plotted against “America” and that he was ready to strike again with an atomic bomb. The moment had come to deliver the war against Iraq with the excellent material furnished by Lockheed Martin and to insure “Homeland Security”. But the documents were obvious forgeries, the rendezvous was complete nonsense, and the invasion of Iraq a military fiasco. Mr. Hadley accepted the blame to protect President Bush. He assumed responsibility for all the errors. It was assumed that he had been completely burned, but in November 2004, George W. Bush chose him to become his National Security Advisor for his second administration.

[1] Edmund Muskie was Secretary of State (Democrat) under Jimmy Carter from 1977 until 1980.
[2] In 1991, John Tower died in a plane accident. Several other “witnesses” to Irangate died within a few days of each other in various accidents.
[3] « CSIS, les croisés du pétrole », Voltaire, 6 July 2004.
[4] National Security Presidential Directive #1, 13 February 2001.
[5] « Otto Reich et la contre-révolution », Voltaire, 14 May 2004.
[6] « Une guerre juteuse pour Lockheed Martin » Voltaire, 7 February 2003.

Translated by Signs of the Times

Comment: We know that the Bush Administration is made up of the dregs of humanity. This article does us the favour of listing the facts of the links between the top members of the government and the arms industry, notably Lockheed Martin. From lying about just about everything to do with Iraq to justify a war that would fill the coffers of Lockheed Martin to imposing the ideology of "Homeland Security", from defrauding people in an insurance scandel to organising "spontaneous revolutions" in the former Soviet countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the highest level officials in the Bush Administration are out to impose their will upon the rest of the world, under cover of the claim that it is the rest of the world that is seeking to do the same in the US.

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"People would laugh at us!"
Jeff Wells
Rigorous Intuition
Saturday, January 08, 2005

It's funny, the things people won't believe.

Jon Ronson, author of Them: Adventures with Extremists, showed his father footage of the elites' "cremation of care" ceremony at the foot of Bohemian Grove's giant stone owl, complete with burning of a human effigy. His father's comment: "That didnít happen."

As a student in 1961, author Jacques Vallee witnessed "French astronomers erase a magnetic tape on which our satellite-tracking team had recorded eleven data points on an unknown flying object which was not an airplane, a balloon, or a known orbiting craft." An astronomer's explanation for the destructive act: "People would laugh at us if we reported this!" (From Vallee's Messengers of Deception.)

I have heard people say, and perhaps you have as well, that it doesn't matter what they are told regarding the events of 9/11, they will never believe the government - even a Bush government - would have purposefully allowed the attacks to happen.

No one is standing over these people's shoulders, whispering Don't believe it - destroy that - people will laugh at you. The voices in their heads are their own. These are people who are censoring themselves; sliding a door to guard their thoughts from uncomfortable facts.

The most powerful control mechanism is internal. It's the brain surgery we perform on ourselves - owing to social conditioning, peer approval and dread of ridicule - that is of the greatest service to those deserving exposure and justice, and who seem to perpetually evade both.

We do it - we useless eaters - or have done it, or can recognize the urge in ourselves. How much greater, then, the internal pressure upon those in places of genuine influence, such as the mainstream media and our legislatures, to suppress the truth within themselves.

So a thank you is in order to Barbara Boxer, the lone Senator who stood last Thursday, to challenge the legitimacy of the Ohio electors.

Naturally, she will now be judged a "kook" - at least insofar as her action breaks through the fog of unreality that passes for news in America - for having the courage to call George Bush a fraudulant President. (At her news conference she expressed regrets for having respected Al Gore's wishes that senators not challenge the results of 2000.)

To speak the truth in a crazy world is to sound crazy yourself, and to invite marginalization and a blizzard of abuse. As hard as it is to do for those who have little to lose, it's much harder for those who have much. And it's a good part of the reason why we hear so little truth spoken from the high places. (Another notable exeption: the longest-serving UK Labour MP, and former Minister of the Environment, Michael Meacher.)

The White House response to Senator Barbara Boxer's standing on Thursday to contest Ohio's electors was predictable, as it is its only response the White House offers when someone calls bullshit on its galaxy of lies. Spokesman Scott McClellan said "It is time to move forward, and not engage in conspiracy theories or partisan politics of this nature."

In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, "Facts are stupid things."

Comment: While we do not have the illusion that this stand on the part of Senator Barbara Baxter will change the outcome of the election -- and a change in the outcome of the election in itself would change little -- , we are glad to see her draw the line in the sand. Standing up for what is right is important, whether or not you have any chance of achieving your goal. It helps if you do it simply to stand for the truth without any anticipation of victory.

By standing up for what is right -- and there is no doubt at all that the voting was rigged -- Boxer can help others see that such stands are hopeless on the level Boxer is fighting it. Another illusion may drop for some people: the illusion that there can be democracy and justice in this world

There are many people in the United States who are critical of Bush and the Republicans. They see that the Republicans played as dirty as they could against Clinton -- Clinton's lies about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky for example -- while Bush's lies, lies that are so much more serious, that have led to the deaths of thousands of people, are ignored, and any politician who even raises the issue knows that his career is over. He or she will be pilloried in the mainstream press, a press that is anything but liberal, even if Right wing pundits repeat the accusation ad nauseam on their TV shows, radio programs, and in their newspaper columns. Funny, isn't it, how they have access to all the media in the country and yet they can convince their followers that the media is liberal.

Look at Fox. Fox News is the propaganda arm of the neocons. There is no attempt at objectivity. There is no attempt to report the "other side". It is continual liberal bashing wherein Democrats are made to be un-American. Democrats! The people who put up a candidate from Skull and Bones, whose campaign contributions come from America's corporations or corporate labor movement, who were not against the war in Iraq, but who simply felt that it should have been waged with more help from "our European friends", these people are painted as "extremists" and "left-wingers"!

Fox News effectively works the news arm of the Bush Administration, its Ministry of Propaganda. Nothing liberal there at all. But then look at Fox in its other programming. They have been one of the leaders in pushing the envelope of bad taste, and it is this fact that permits the howling wolves of American neoconservative revisionism to accuse the media of being liberal!

If one were a twisted conspiracy theorist, one might even consider the possibility that it was planned that way!

Notice the other slight-of-hand in this propaganda war: liberals are tarred with the brush of decadence, sexual promiscuity, and all the evils listed in the Bible.

At the same time, the average Fox viewer must be something of a schizophrenic himself.

Many Americans appear to want trash on primetime and a strong, God-fearing America on the news, and with their many 'I's fighting with each other, they can live in peaceful co-existence with Fox News and Fox Trash. Perhaps the problem is that they are incapable of thought, of real reflection, of looking at themselves and their tastes and the desires and the mixed messages they send to themselves. One aspect of their personality is home when John Gibson comes on, and another steps in when it is time to watch reality TV or Jerry Springer.

They see no contradiction because there is none. There could only be a contradiction if there was some unified self that was inconsistent. With a plethora of competing mini-selves succeeding one another in the driver's seat, all performing under the illusion that it is One Self, there is no inconsistency. It would, on the contrary, be inconsistent if these diverse selves all wanted the same thing, were all piloting the individual in the same direction.

The illusion is as real as the illusion in the movies when the hero does fantastic stunts. You are convinced that it is so-and-so, when in fact it was his body double.

We each have our own body doubles. We have dozens of them. But they are not body doubles, they are self doubles, pieces of ourselves that step into the driver's seat in sometimes rapid succession. Ever seen someone go ballistic over an innocuous comment? Ever promised yourself you'd get onto that new exercise program the very next day? As convincing as you had been in your promise, you find yourself even more convincing in your excuses to put it off another day.

Who's home? Is anyone home?

And we see around us a world full of such individuals, and we are also forced to admit if we are honest with ourselves (it gives a whole new meaning to that idea, does it not?) that we are no different. So how could our world, the societies we construct, be any different?

The only way to change the world is to change ourselves, to fuse the many mini-me's into one. For more information on one way in which this can be done, check out our CassChat public discussion group.

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The Salvador Option
By Michael Hirsh and John Barry
Newsweek
Saturday 08 January 2005
The Pentagon may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq.

What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon's latest approach is being called "the Salvador option"-and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can't just go on as we are," one senior military officer told Newsweek. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November's operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency-as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time-than in spreading it out.

Now, Newsweek has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success-despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell Newsweek.

Comment: Perhaps the Mossad teams already in place aren't enough?

We note the serendipitous fact that John Negroponte, the new US Ambassador to Iraq, was Reagan's ambassador to Honduras while the death squads were being run out of that country.

Coincidence? We think not.

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United States working behind scenes to oust head of UN nuclear agency
08:46 AM EST Jan 09
GEORGE JAHN
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Even though he's running unopposed, Mohamed ElBaradei may still fail in his bid for a third term as head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, tripped by his main opponent, the United States.

Unable to find a candidate willing to go toe to toe against the independent-minded Egyptian diplomat, Washington is now quietly lobbying other countries on the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency in a bid to unseat ElBaradei. Then it hopes to engineer the choice of a replacement more to its own liking - one harder on Iran and other countries on the U.S. enemies list.

Since the agency spearheads international efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, the issue of who controls the IAEA is key for officials in the administration of President George W. Bush. They want someone in charge who shares their view of which countries constitute nuclear threats and what to do about them.

But ElBaradei has challenged those views - particularly over Iraq and Iran, both labelled part of the "Axis of Evil" by Bush.

He first disputed U.S. assertions that deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons program - claims that remain unproven. He then refused to endorse assertions by Washington that Iran is working to make nuclear arms.

A direct U.S. attempt to unseat ElBaradei fizzled late last year, with the Americans unable to find anyone to challenge him for a third term by a Dec. 31 deadline shortly after the Bush administration called on him to step down after he completes his second term next summer.

Since then, the nuclear power struggle has moved underground, but even before Dec. 31 much of it was cloak and dagger, including reported U.S. wiretaps of ElBaradei's phone to try and show he was demonstrating favouritism toward Iran in his investigation of its nuclear activities.

It's not the first U.S. campaign against UN officials deemed at odds with its foreign policy. Washington blocked Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali from a second term as UN secretary general in 1996.

More recently, in 2002, Jose Mauricio Bustani was voted out as director-general of the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons after Washington accused him of mismanagement and rallied other countries in a vote to have him dismissed.

At the time, Bustani's supporters said Washington wanted him removed not because he performed poorly but because he supported making Iraq a member of his organization, which might have interfered with U.S. plans for war with that country.

U.S. officials in Vienna and Washington refuse to discuss Washington's strategy in toppling ElBaradei. But diplomats accredited to the Vienna-based IAEA said the United States has a new candidate in the wings, who will be presented if Washington swings enough countries on the IAEA board of governors to back its demand for a non-confidence vote in the incumbent.

"They've already started lobbying in the capitals," said one diplomat, who insisted on anonymity like others who spoke the issue.

"Whether or not they call for a (non-confidence) vote depends on the support they will get."

ElBaradei appears to be taking the campaign to oust him in stride.

"Member states have asked me to continue to serve," he said.

"I see that as confidence in my stewardship."

Agency officials close to the soft-spoken, austere diplomat said he is of two minds about what they called a sometimes nasty U.S. campaign against the IAEA leader. One official said ElBaradei tried to ignore the reports his phone calls were bugged but also was angry his conversations with family members had been monitored.

To oust ElBaradei, Washington must find backing from 12 other member countries on the 35-member IAEA board of governors. It can already count on traditional allies Canada and Australia and several others and diplomats said it hopes to swing enough others from Europe behind it for the required number.

Key here are countries like Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, all with strong loyalties to Washington that also are supporters of the U.S. campaign in Iraq. Other potential supporters include West European countries now sitting on the fence over whether to back ElBaradei.

"He continues to enjoy our confidence," one West European diplomat said of ElBaradei.

But then, hedging his comment, he added his country agrees with the consensus among states paying the bulk of UN bills that heads of UN organizations should serve only two terms.

Also crucial to whether ElBaradei will be ousted is who Washington has waiting in the wings.

With candidates from nuclear weapons countries unwanted in the job, any replacement is unlikely to be American. Diplomats also said they doubt the Bush administration can put forward anyone who will find broad acceptance from the IAEA board, which has been skeptical about U.S. efforts to control the direction that the agency takes.

A wild card, played Friday, was the announcement from Washington that U.S. undersecretary of state John Bolton was being replaced. Bolton, an administration hawk, was considered the chief architect of the anti-ElBaradei campaign.

Comment: So, the US wants to get rid of the man who was correct in his assessment of the Iraqi nuclear threat -- that it didn't exist -- and who is attempting to prevent another illegal invasion -- this time of Iran. And it is doing this through wire-taps of his phone calls, including those to his family.

After the campaign against Kofi Annan, it is now Mohamed ElBaradei's turn to face the wrath of the Empire Ignored. Complete control of the world can't be had if there remain international organisations that dare to question the Imperial Authority.

They must be put into their place.

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Bush Paints His Goals As 'Crises'
President Reprises A First-Term Tactic
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 8, 2005; Page A01

President Bush had great success in his first term by defining crises that demanded decisive responses. Now, as he begins a second term, Bush is returning to the same tactic to accomplish three longtime conservative goals.

Warning of the need for urgent action on his Social Security plan, Bush says the "crisis is now" for a system even the most pessimistic observers say will take in more in taxes than it pays out in benefits well into the next decade.

Sen. Harry M. Reid (D): The White House has "made an art of creating crisis where a crisis does not exist." (Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

He calls the proliferation of medical liability lawsuits a "crisis in America" that can be fixed only by limiting a patient's right to sue for large damages. And Bush has repeatedly accused Senate Democrats of creating a "vacancy crisis" on the federal bench by refusing to confirm a small percentage of his judicial nominees.

This strategy helped Bush win support for the war in Iraq, tax cuts and education policies, as well as reclaim the White House. What is unclear is whether the same approach will work, given the battering to the administration's credibility over its Iraq claims and a new Democratic campaign accusing Bush of crying wolf.

"This White House had made an art of creating crisis where a crisis does not exist," said Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

Comment: Is Bush's strategy of crisis management going to work? Of course, it is going to work. No matter what the Democrats say, they are in no way a real opposition party in Washington. They are gutless wonders who have laid down before the tyranny of the Bush Administration. You need look no further than the November elections and the campaign that proceeded it. Not that this fact should be a surprise for anyone watching. They are both serving the same interests, only using different tactics.

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US deserters flee to Canada to avoid service in Iraq

By Charles Laurence in New York
(Filed: 09/01/2005)
The Telegraph

American Army soldiers are deserting and fleeing to Canada rather than fight in Iraq, rekindling memories of the thousands of draft-dodgers who flooded north to avoid service in Vietnam.

An estimated 5,500 men and women have deserted since the invasion of Iraq, reflecting Washington's growing problems with troop morale.

Jeremy Hinzman, 26, from South Dakota, who deserted from the 82nd Airborne, is among those who - to the disgust of Pentagon officials - have applied for refugee status in Canada.

The United States Army treats deserters as common criminals, posting them on "wanted" lists with the FBI, state police forces and the Department of Home Security border patrols.

Hinzman said last week: "This is a criminal war and any act of violence in an unjustified conflict is an atrocity. I signed a contract for four years, and I was totally willing to fulfil it. Just not in combat arms jobs."

Hinzman, who served as a cook in Afghanistan, was due to join a fighting unit in Iraq after being refused status as a conscientious objector.

He realised that he had made the "wrong career choice" as he marched with his platoon of recruits all chanting, "Train to kill, kill we will".

He said: "At that point a light went off in my head. I was told in basic training that if I'm given an illegal or immoral order, it is my duty to disobey it. I feel that invading and occupying Iraq is an illegal and immoral thing to do.''

Pte Brandon Hughey, 19, who deserted from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, said that he had volunteered because the army offered to pay his college fees. He began training soon after the invasion of Iraq but became disillusioned when no weapons of mass destruction were found.

"I had been willing to die to make America safe," he said. "I found out, basically, that they found no weapons of mass destruction and the claim that they made about ties to al-Qaeda was coming up short. It made me angry. I felt our lives as soldiers were being thrown away."

When he was ordered to deploy to Iraq, Hughey searched the internet for an "underground railroad" operation, through which deserting troops are helped to escape to Canada.

He was put in touch with a Quaker pacifist couple who had helped Vietnam draft-dodgers and was driven from Texas to Ontario.

The Pentagon says that the level of desertion is no higher than usual and denies that it is having difficulty persuading troops to fight. The flight to Canada is, however, an embarrassment for the military, which is suffering from a recruiting shortfall for the National Guard and the Army Reserves.

The deaths of 18 American soldiers in a suicide bomb attack in Mosul, northern Iraq, last month, was a further blow to morale. Soon after, the number of American soldiers killed since President Bush declared that large-scale combat operations were at an end passed the 1,000 mark.

Lt Col Joe Richard, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the US government wanted the deserters to be returned from Canada. "If you don't want to fight, don't join," he said.

"The men in Canada have an obligation to fulfil their military contracts and do their duty. If and when they return to this country, they will be prosecuted."

The penalty for desertion in wartime can be death. Most deserters, however, serve up to five years in a military prison before receiving a dishonourable discharge.

In order to stay in Canada, deserters must convince an immigration board that they would face not just prosecution but also "persecution" if they returned to America. Hinzman's hearing has begun in Toronto and a decision is expected next month.

During the Vietnam war an estimated 55,000 deserters or draft-dodgers fled to Canada. There were amnesties for both groups in the late 1970s under President Jimmy Carter, but many stayed.

One who did so is Jeffrey House, a Toronto-based lawyer, who represents some of the deserters. He said that at least 25 had reached Canada in recent months with the help of "railroad" organisations, and believed that the immigration board would back his clients.

Comment: Yes, the invasion of Iraq was illegal. Yes, the Bush Administration lied to the American people in order to justify this invasion which was planned long before the attacks of 9/11.

These soldiers are heroes for standing up and refusing to fight.

International law demands that soldiers refuse illegal orders or they become subject to trial for war crimes.

Look what happened to the soldiers who were following orders in Abu Ghraib, orders that have undoubtedly come from the top, or at least with the approval of the top. Are the real criminals facing charges, the Rumsfeld's, the Cheney's, the Rice's, the Bush's? Of course not. The true criminals are protected through a chain of plausible deniability that ensures it is the poor stiffs on the bottom who both take the blame and suffer the consequences.

And, of course, they will be treated as common criminals by those who commit the true atrocities.

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Ramadi Sharp Shooters Kill 3 US Soldiers, US Uses Small Children As Human Shields
Jan 07, 2005
By Muhammad Abu Nasr, Free Arab Voice; Edited by JUS

Resistance sharpshooters reportedly killed three US troops in a street in Ramadi Thursday morning. The correspondent of Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the American soldiers were shot down on al-Kass Street in the city a short time before the correspondent filed his report, posted at 3pm Thursday Mecca time. In the same attack Resistance sharpshooters shot and killed a Lebanese translator collaborating with the Americans who was broadcasting American warnings to the local population on their behalf. The correspondent wrote that the three Americans were killed instantly, and that he saw the blood flowing from their faces and that of the Lebanese collaborator.

Americans Use Small Children As Human Shields

The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam in Ramadi reported that US occupation forces on Thursday morning drove into the western neighborhoods of ar-Ramadi, arresting 32 small children.

Local residents told Mafkarat al-Islam that the US troops lured the children from in front of their houses with candy then put them in tanks or armored vehicles and then attacked the al-Bu Farraj Neighborhood and the 17 April Neighborhood to raid and search houses there.

The correspondent wrote that the Resistance was in an extremely anguished situation, for they could not attack the Americans out of concern for the children whose relatives appealed to the Resistance not to attack the US column for fear that their children would be killed.

US troops stormed into the city at 9am Thursday and were still there when the Mafkarat al-Islam correspondent sent in his report, posted at 12:25pm Mecca time Thursday afternoon. The Americans arrested 12 persons on charges of being with the Resistance, as the children, being held on the tops of the tanks, were reduced to tears in their terror.

The Resistance did not dare attack the American column which drove around the city however it wanted, taking advantage of the fighters self-imposed restraint out of consideration of the captive youngsters.

One father agreed that the Resistance should attack the American column even if is son, Hudhayfah, aged 3 would die. But the Resistance rejected his offer.

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U.S. Bomb Error Kills at Least 5 in Iraq
Posted on Sat, Jan. 08, 2005
NICK WADHAMS
Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The United States military said it dropped a 500-pound bomb on the wrong house outside the northern city of Mosul on Saturday, killing five people. The man who owned the house said the bomb killed 14 people, and an Associated Press photographer said seven of them were children.

The strike in the town of Aitha, 30 miles south of Mosul, came hours before a senior U.S. Embassy official in Iraq met with leaders of the Sunni Arab community to apply political pressure against their threat to boycott Jan. 30 elections. The Arab satellite broadcaster al-Jazeera said the Sunnis asked the Americans to announce a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Violence also continued, with at least eight Iraqis killed.

American officials repeatedly have insisted the vote go ahead, but it is an extremely delicate time, with Iraq's government perceived by many as closely tied to the U.S.-led coalition.

Late Saturday, a U.S. military statement said an F-16 jet dropped a 500-pound GPS-guided bomb on a house that was meant to be searched during an operation to capture "an anti-Iraqi force cell leader."

"The house was not the intended target for the airstrike. The intended target was another location nearby," the military said in a statement.

The homeowner, Ali Yousef, told Associated Press Television News that the airstrike happened at about 2:30 a.m., and American troops immediately surrounded the area, blocking access for four hours. The brick house was reduced to a pile of rubble, according to an Associated Press photographer at the scene.

An Associated Press photographer said from the scene that 14 members of the same family - seven children, four women and three men - were killed, and six people were wounded, including another child in the house and five people from neighboring houses. By evening, all 14 victims had been buried in a nearby cemetery, Yousef said.

The U.S. military statement said coalition forces went to the area to provide assistance and said five people were killed. It said there was no other damage.

"Multi-National Force Iraq deeply regrets the loss of possibly innocent lives," the statement said, adding that an investigation was underway. [...]

Comment: Remember back in the days leading up the illegal invasion of Iraq, how Donald Rumsfeld crowed on and on about "precision strikes" and "reduced civilian casualties"? Now, was the Secretary of Defense given poor intelligence about the precision of these GPS guided systems or perhaps he was just flat out lying?

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The Faultlines in the US Economy
The Decline of the Dollar
January 6, 2005
By ALAN MAASS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even if the White House avoids this nightmare scenario, working people will pay a price in declining living standards. The administration's unstated policy of letting the dollar slide means not only that imported products are more expensive to buy, but that prices will rise across the board.

This hasn't shown up in the government's official inflation statistics yet. But these figures are increasingly misleading because they exclude so many essential products--like, for example, gas, which has jumped in price over the last several years--because they are supposedly "too volatile" to measure properly.

Also, the high level of consumer spending in the U.S. was kept going through the recession by a boom in mortgage refinancing because of low interest rates. This provided homeowners with extra cash to spend even as real wages declined. But the decline in the dollar's value is already pushing up interest rates, slowing the refinancing frenzy and threatening a more severe crisis if the bubble in real estate values caused by the mortgage boom is punctured.

As Geier puts it, "The press may present [the Bush administration's dollar policy] as a brilliant stroke by the political representatives of the U.S. capitalist class, but it is not a sign of strength...[T]he U.S. remains the dominant power, and it is on this basis that it assumes that the rest of the world will bail it out. The U.S. ruling class may get this if the dollar collapses, because Europe, Japan and Asia can't afford for that to happen. But that won't enhance U.S. credibility."

Since the election, the mainstream media--as well as many progressives--have acted as if the Bush administration is all-powerful. But the dollar crisis with all its looming consequences shows the fault lines and weaknesses right below the surface.

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11 killed as storm lashes Europe
CNN International
Sunday, January 9, 2005 Posted: 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)

LONDON, England -- A fierce winter storm packing hurricane force winds that swept across northern Europe has left 11 dead two people missing, officials said Sunday.

The storm, accompanied by torrential downpours, caused damage in Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Germany before dying out early Sunday.

Six people were reported killed in Sweden after being hit by falling trees and other debris. Four people died in Denmark, two of them in the town of Assens when the roof of a house fell in on them, police said.

In the North Sea city of Logstor, Denmark, authorities reported the highest water level ever in their harbor -- 2.5 meters above normal. Hundreds of people had to evacuate.

The bad weather brought train services to a halt in northern Germany were two canoeists were missing after a strong gust capsized their boat on a lake.

In Britain, the northwestern English city of Carlisle was turned into a lake in the worst flooding to hit that region in 40 years. Most access roads were still under water Sunday, cars were left floating along the streets and more than 100,000 residents had to spend the night without electricity.

Military helicopters rescued at least 15 people from the roofs, including a family with a baby and a 90-year-old man. Other residents fled to safety via boat. Three people died in the city, but police were unable to say whether the deaths were a direct result of the flooding.

Travel on roads, by ship and train were also obstructed. Numerous ferry lines on the North and Baltic seas suspended service, and a ferry grounded off the coast of western Scotland near Cairnryan.

The P&O ferry was finally refloated after more than 30 hours at sea, the coastguard said Sunday.

Two tugs managed to free the European Highlander, with 100 people on board, with the help of the high tide.

High winds from the storm that were clocked at 140 kilometers per hour in Britain, overturned 25 lorries on highways in northern England. Numerous highways and bridges were closed because of the danger.

The storm swept in as northern Germany enjoyed its warmest January night in more than a century with temperatures over 10 Celsius.

Ferries from Rostock, Germany, to Gedser, Denmark, were cancelled in the Baltic but were resumed Sunday morning. The same was true for the ferry line from Sassnitz on the German island of Ruegen to Sweden's Trelleborg.

In the North Sea, ferries between Hirtshals, Denmark, to Larvik, Norway, also remained in their harbors Saturday.

Meanwhile, authorities in Russia's second city, Saint Petersburg, breathed a sigh of relief Sunday after high water levels that threatened the former imperial capital with flooding began to recede.

Alarm bells had rung as water levels in the river Neva rose to within 30 centimeters (12 inches) of the flooding mark of 2.6 meters, causing city officials to close off embankments to traffic and shut down six subway stations.

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Vibrations still being recorded after Indian Ocean earthquake
Last Update: Sunday, January 9, 2005. 9:00am (AEDT)
Scientists in Canberra say they are continuing to record unusual vibrations two weeks after the earthquake that shook the Indian Ocean and triggered the devastating Boxing Day tsunamis in Asia.

Dr Herb McQueen from the Australian National University (ANU) says a gravity meter is still detecting ringing from the rare seismic event.

Dr McQueen says the data is being studied by scientists across the world.

"Normally a reasonably large earthquake will continue reverberating for a couple of days on our charts, but this one has been going steadily for the last 12 to 13 days and shows no signs of letting up actually," he said.

"There's still a measurable oscillation."

Comment: For whom the Bell Tolls - John Donne

From "Devotions upon Emergent Occasions" (1623), XVII: Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris - "Now, this bell tolling softly for another, says to me: Thou must die."

PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that.

The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all.

When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member.

And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.

As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.

There was a contention as far as a suit (in which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest.
If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is.

The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that this occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God.

Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours.

Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it.

No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction.

If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels.

Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it.

Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

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Volcanic eruptions on Anatahan intensify
Island off-limits to the public; no ash fall reported on Saipan
By John Ravelo
Saipan Tribune

SAIPAN -- Volcanic eruptions on Anatahan island have escalated, with the volcano spewing pyroclastic rocks hundreds of feet into the air, while seismicity and ash emissions continued to intensify and billow during the past days, sometimes rising up to 5,000 feet.

The Emergency Management Office reported this after conducting an aerial look Friday over Anatahan, an uninhabited island about 75 miles north of Saipan and 200 miles north of Guam.

"Every time there are explosions, there were black rocks -- sometimes red -- being thrown several hundred feet into the air," said EMO's Juan Takai Camacho, who was part of a team aboard a fixed-wing aircraft that flew over the island Friday. [...]

The volcano's activity intensified beginning Tuesday and Wednesday last week after months of extremely low seismic activities, which followed the second batch of eruptions from April to June last year.

The volcano on Anatahan first erupted after centuries of dormancy on May 10, 2003, with ash plume rising to more than 30,000 feet.

That eruption ceased by mid-June that year.

In a joint report Saturday, the EMO and the U.S. Geological Survey stated: "During the last 48 hours, the seismic signals have changed from harmonic tremor to a somewhat broader band tremor with frequent explosion signals recorded ... several times per minute. A relatively full-scale strombolian eruption is now under way and has been for the last two days."

Strombolian eruptions are characterized by the intermittent explosion or fountaining of basaltic lava from a single vent or crater, states the U.S. Geological Survey Web site, http://volcanoes.usgs.gov

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M4.4 earthquake rattles central Japan
Japan Today
Sunday, January 9, 2005 at 19:38 JST

TOKYO — A magnitude 4.4 earthquake jolted central Japan on Sunday evening, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the 6:59 p.m. quake. The agency did not issue a tsunami warning.

The quake measured 4 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Kani, Ginan, Kasamatsu and Yanaizu in Gifu Prefecture and Nishi Ward in Nagoya, Inuyama, Komaki, Iwakura and Oguchi in Aichi Prefecture. (Kyodo News)

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Tsunami spawns internet scams
Thursday 06 January 2005, 2:57 Makka Time, 23:57 GMT

Tricksters are posing as tsunami victims on the internet in a bid to siphon some of the millions of dollars flowing to relief efforts.

Online security experts on Wednesday said crudely written appeals for help have begun to appear in email boxes, asking for donations through a website or an offshore bank account.

"It's only a matter of time. We have fully fledged websites that spoof well-known charities, for example," said Paul Wood, chief information security analyst at MessageLabs, an internet security company. [...]

The fraudulent appeals are patterned after two existing scams: "Phishing" attacks that direct people to legitimate-looking websites in order to trick them into giving up their credit card numbers, and 419 scams, messages that promise great riches in exchange for a bank account number.

"We have been rendered homeless and have lost all we have in life. We will be very grateful if you can assist us with any amount of money to enable us to start a new lease of life," one message said.

Ken Dunham, malicious code intelligence manager for the internet security company iDefense, said such scams could be very effective.

"It is a get-rich quick thing, and it makes perfect sense in light of the disaster. Everybody's heard of it, they all know lots of people have died off, maybe whole families have died off, and monies truly are available," Dunham said.

Comment: It is hard for someone capable of empathy to understand the thinking processes of people who would seek to capitalize on the tsunami disaster. But, lo and behold, they do exist. On the one hand hand, we see the Bush Administration, after sitting on its hands during the first few days, attempting to use the event to horn in on the area to promote the "nice guy, we are really concerned" image. The intervention of the Bush Administration is being done for geopolitical reasons, not human reasons. That is one level of profiteering.

The article above addresses a second level, Internet scams. The commonality of the two is the inability to empathise with the victims, to put oneself in their place a hall mark of the organic portal and its mutant cousin, the psychopath.

We can feel fear, sympathy, empathy, sadness, and so on because we can IMAGINE in an abstract way, the future based on our own experiences in the past, or even just "concepts of experiences" in myriad variations. We can "predict" how others will react because we are able to "see ourselves" in them even though they are "out there" and the situation is somewhat different externally, though similar in dynamic. In other words, we can not only identify with others spatially - so to say - but also temporally - in time.

The psychopath does not seem to have this capacity. They are unable to "imagine" in the sense of being able to really connect to images in a direct "self connecting to another self" sort of way.

Oh, indeed, they can imitate feelings, but the only real feelings they seem to have - the thing that drives them and causes them to act out different dramas for effect - are a sort of adrenaline based "fear" of loss of what they want. That is to say, they "feel" need/want as love, and not having their needs/wants met is described as "not being loved" by them.

What is more, this "need/want" perspective posits that only the "hunger" of the psychopath is valid, and anything and everything "out there," outside of the psychopath, is not real except insofar as it has the capability of being assimilated to the psychopath as a sort of "food." Can it be used or can it provide something is the only issue about which the psychopath seems to be concerned. All else - all activity - is subsumed to this drive.

In short, the psychopath - and the narcissist - is a predator. And if we think about the interactions of predators with their prey in the animal kingdom, we can come to some idea of the "mask of sanity" of the psychopath. Just as an animal predator will adopt all kinds of stealthy functions in order to stalk their prey, cut them out of the herd, get close to them and reduce their resistance, so does the psychopath construct all kinds of elaborate camouflage composed of words and appearances - lies and manipulations - in order to "assimilate" their prey.

To survive in an environment of psychopaths, must must learn to see behind the Mask of Sanity, as Hervey Cleckley so aptly termed it. Our survival may well depend upon it.

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Indianapolis rocked by underground blast
January 8, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS -- An underground explosion injured three people Saturday and forced authorities to evacuate dozens of residents from a downtown condominium.

The blast shortly before noon was similar to one that cut power Wednesday to about 400 downtown businesses and homes, including the federal courthouse. Officials said both explosions likely were caused by heavy rains and later freezing and thawing that triggered a series of short circuits in underground utility lines.

Saturday's explosion buckled a bookstore's 3-inch concrete floor into jagged 4-foot mounds and blew a steel door off its hinges. Two workers and a customer were injured.

Tony Bayt had just opened the front door of the store when he was blown off his feet.

"I was flying through the air," he said while medics checked his injuries before putting him into an ambulance.

Residents of nearby condominiums were evacuated.

Comment: The "official explanation" that melting water caused an underground short circuit resulting in an explosion big enough to buckle concrete and blow a steel door off it's hinges sounds a tad implausible to us. The second one in two days, no less. If it proves not to be a short circuit, we can only wonder what's really going on beneath the streets of Indianapolis?

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And finally...

£10,000 bid for Texan snowball

ananova.com

Texans who had snow for the first time in more than a century at Christmas are selling snowballs on eBay.

Most have so far only attracted bids of a few dollars - but one has attracted a bid of more than £10,000.

Its owner said: "This is a wonderful piece of history, a snowball has not been made in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, in over a hundred years.

"This I made in my front yard in Laguna Vista on December 25, 2004. It has not snowed here since about 1889.

"A lot of people here never seen snow, it was an extraordinary event. If you are a science buff or just want part of history for many years you should bid now."

Another snowball seller, student Patricia Lucas, 18, from Sugar Land near Houston, assured potential buyers her snow was "in great condition, very clean bright white".

She told the LA Times: "People sell crazy stuff on EBay, and I figured someone would buy a snowball."

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Cassiopaean materials Copyright ©1994-2014 Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk. All rights reserved. "Cassiopaea, Cassiopaean, Cassiopaeans," is a registered trademark of Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk.
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