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Travel Log! The
Quantum Future Group Goes to Rennes-le-Chateau
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
The hunt for Saddam Hussein's
alleged weapons of mass destruction has formally come to an
end in Iraq, it emerged today.
Officials with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the body established
to find the very weapons which justified the war, have returned
to the US, amid growing dangers from insurgents in Iraq.
An interim report, written by former ISG head, Charles Duelfer,
will serve as the group’s final conclusions, according
to the Washington Post.
The Duelfer document contradicted virtually all the pre-war
claims from London and Washington about Saddam possessing biological
and chemical weapons, and reconstituting Iraq’s nuclear
An intelligence official told the newspaper
that the chances of weapons being hidden inside Iraq, or having
been shipped out of the country before the war, were very small.
The ISG has urged the Pentagon to release scientists who have
been questioned at length about Iraq’s weapons capabilities.
They are General Amir Saadi, a liaison between Saddam’s
government and UN inspectors; Rihab Taha, a biologist nicknamed
“Dr Germ” in the west; her husband, Amir Rashid,
the former oil minister; and Huda Amash, another biologist who
earned the nickname “Mrs Anthrax”.
The ISG determined that none of the
scientists had been involved in Iraqi weapons programmes since
the first Gulf War, the newspaper reported.
evidence has emerged of the extent of destruction and appalling
conditions in Falluja, still deserted
two months after a major US offensive against the insurgent
Ali Fadhil, an Iraqi journalist working with the Guardian's
film unit and one of the few reporters to travel independently
to Falluja, describes in a Channel 4 News film tonight a "city
of ghosts" where dogs feed on uncollected corpses.
In interviews, insurgents challenge official US accounts of
a decisive victory and claim many of the rebels left the city
in a pre-planned withdrawal.
"It is completely devastated," Fadhil
writes in the Guardian today. "Falluja used to be a modern
city; now there is nothing. We spend that first day going through
the rubble that had been the centre of the city; I don't see
a single building that is functioning."
Most of Falluja's 300,000 residents fled before the assault
and now some have begun to return to find
their homes destroyed, the water and electricity still cut and
untreated sewage flowing openly. There is little chance
elections can be held there with polling day three weeks away.
Some Iraqis openly criticise the fighters, despite the risks.
"The mujahideen are responsible and the clerics for the
destruction that happened to our city; no one will forgive them
for that," a former major in the much feared Republican
Guard tells Fadhil.
In one badly damaged home near a cemetery,
he finds the body of a fighter still lying on the floor. "The
leg is missing, the hand is missing and the furniture in the
house has been destroyed," he writes. "I can't breathe
with the smell."
US commanders claimed to have killed more than 1,200 insurgents
in the November battle, dealing a serious blow to the insurgency.
Before the assault, Falluja was a no-go area for the US and
But in a graveyard, known as the "martyrs cemetery",
Fadhil counts only 76 graves. In houses he finds other bodies
he suspects were civilians.
"I saw other rotting bodies that showed
no sign of being fighters. In one house in the market there
were four bodies inside the guestroom," he writes. "In
this house there were no bullets in the walls, just four dead
men lying curled up beside each other, with bullet holes in
the mosquito nets that covered the windows."
The allegations were put to US forces in Baghdad five days
ago. There has been no reply.
Despite the intense fight in Falluja, the insurgency has gathered
pace across Iraq, particularly in the northern city of Mosul,
once a model of peace and calm, and in Baghdad, where the deputy
police chief was assassinated yesterday.
US commanders thought the rebels had
been surrounded in Falluja. Yet
one fighter tells Fadhil his men left 10 days into the battle:
"We did not pull out because we did not want to fight.
We needed to regroup; it was a tactical move."
CNN has ended its relationship with the
conservative commentator Tucker Carlson and will shortly cancel
its long-running daily political discussion program, "Crossfire,"
the new president of CNN, Jonathan Klein, said last night.
Mr. Carlson said he had actually quit "Crossfire"
last April and had agreed to stay on until his contract expired.
He said he had a deal in place for a
job as the host of a 9 p.m. nightly talk program on MSNBC, CNN's
One NBC News executive said that no deal had been completed
between MSNBC and Mr. Carlson. "Tucker is a great journalist
and we are exploring options with him for a 9 p.m. job,"
said Jeremy Gaines, a spokesman for MSNBC.
"I don't know what CNN is saying," Mr. Carlson said.
"But I have no dispute with CNN."
Mr. Klein said the decisions to part company
with Mr. Carlson and to end "Crossfire" were not specifically
related, because he had decided to drop "Crossfire"
regardless of whether Mr. Carlson wanted to stay on.
Mr. Klein said, "We just determined there was not a role
here in the way Tucker wanted his career to go. He wanted to
host a prime-time show in which he would put on live guests
and have spirited debate. That's not the kind of show CNN is
going to be doing."
Instead, Mr. Klein said, CNN wants to do "roll-up-your-sleeves
storytelling," and he said that was not a role he saw for
Mr. Carlson. "There are outlets for the kind of show Tucker
wants to do and CNN isn't going to be one of them," he
Mr. Klein said he wanted to move CNN away
from what he called "head-butting debate shows," which
have become the staple of much of all-news television in the
prime-time hours, especially at the top-rated Fox News Channel.
"CNN is a different animal," Mr. Klein said. "We
report the news. Fox talks about the news. They're very good
at what they do and we're very good at what we do."
Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian
Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest
on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart
said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were "hurting
Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly
with Jon Stewart's overall premise." He said he believed
that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are
interested in information, not opinion.
"Crossfire" may be continued "in
small doses" as part of the political coverage on CNN's
other programs, Mr. Klein said.
Mr. Klein said he intended to keep CNN's highest-rated program,
"Larry King Live," much as it is because Mr. King
does not do "head-butting debate" but "personality-oriented
The rest of CNN's prime-time lineup will be moving toward reporting
the day's events and not discussing them, he said.
Mr. Klein said he had no intention of changing that approach,
but he added a caveat. "Not unless the first batch of things
we're trying to do don't turn out well," he said.
A leaked Pentagon report
whose main contents were ignored by most media speaks of a new
war to take place in the channels of that media. That war may
have already started.
A document produced by the American Defense Science Board calls
for a new war launched by US government and corporate interests
on the people of the world waged through all forms of their
media. The American Defense Science Board is a senior advisory
panel of defence and private corporate experts who offer policy
advice to the Secretary of Defense.
Paul Wolfowitz, US Deputy Secretary of Defense and chief neo-con
in the Bush administration, in May of this year formed a special
Task Force on Strategic Communication at the Science Board to
find solutions to the problems the American corporate empire
has in capitalizing on the success of the country's conventional
military in wars it launches around the world.
Wolfowitz points out that his department has noticed that winning
conventional wars of bullets, bombs, and bodies does little
these days to advance American corporate and government interests
in the target nations, as well as among the public around the
Finding “enemy leaders, [the] location of weapons including
WMD, interruption of terrorist's financing, and interdiction
of couriers providing communication” are necessary elements
in consolidating conventional military successes, Wolfowitz
says in the May memo to the board calling for the creation of
the task force. But, “achieving these ends,” which
also include, Wolfowitz is careful to add, stability, democracy,
and human rights, can only “be facilitated by successfully
shaping activities in the years before the outbreak of hostilities,”
in addition to shaping activities after the cessation of those
In essence, what this 111-page report
is calling for is a new, highly coordinated propaganda war commandeering
the resources of the private sector media to help deploy a blanket
of words and images throughout a target society, secretly organized
and conducted over the course of years, with the intention of
preparing the target nation's population, as well as world opinion,
for full-scale military assault. The
job is challenging because the targets, as Wolfowitz pointed
out in his founding memo, do not currently pose threats to American
“The new US strategic communications effort should utilize
the same media as do the private sector marketing and political
campaigns. Their deployment tactics should be adapted to government
needs. Channels include classic broadcast media such as television,
film, newspaper, radio, periodicals, and e-magazines,”
the report suggests. This means that popular films, television
sitcoms, even video games and on-line “blogs,” the
report points out, will be saturated with messages meant to
“shape events and activities” in order to prepare
the battlefields. Popular sports celebrities and compelling
music recording stars, the report says, can be recruited to
emphasize the messages.
“US strategic communication efforts must be synergized
by the public sector. The bottom line: The government alone
cannot today communicate credibly and effectively to foreign
populations. It must be assisted by adjunct private sector efforts.”
The report nowhere expresses doubts about whether the private
sector will accept an adjunct role in creating and disseminating
state propaganda, nor is there any question of whether it is
proper and safe for a democratic state to commandeer the private
sector media for this purpose.
The new war, of course, requires good soldiers at home and
abroad. To that end, the report points out that journalists
and other media personalities that influence public opinion
are to be recruited to the war effort and deployed strategically
throughout the media landscape.
“Strategic communications must be infused with new blood,”
the report says. “A concerted communications effort must
be planned and launched to attract a next generation of cutting-edge,
risk-friendly, private sector talent. And this talent must be
hired, trained, prepared, groomed, motivated, and promoted to
communicate with an insurgent-like efficiency and effectiveness,”
it says. There can be no doubt that US Army recruiters will
be showing up at journalism schools in the near future, offering
good pay and lots of opportunities to those willing to go undercover
as bona fide reporters, for example.
“America needs a revolution in strategic communication
rooted in” among other things “support from an orchestrated
blend of public and private sector components.” The office
of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs,
the office to be in charge of waging important parts of the
new propaganda war, would be strengthened to increase the office's
“ability to foster mutually-reinforcing opinion and media
research activities with the private sector and other government
This report was not classified by the Department of Defense,
though it was also not released to the public, except apparently
through a standard “leak” mechanism. It does not
contain information that the US government truly wishes to keep
secret, though it does seem to wish for there to be a public
perception that it was supposed to be kept secret.
There is little in the report's analysis and recommendations
that come as a surprise to anyone familiar with standard US
imperial actions abroad. This report could well have been written
prior to the CIA deposing of Iranian elected leader Mossadegh
in 1956, with only a few changes to media technology it mentions.
Few who study US foreign policy, both covert and overt, would
find much new in this report, and instead would have long suspected
most measures recommended in it had in fact already been followed
Because the report was prepared by a panel of experts well
practiced in the arts of deception using unwitting (or otherwise)
private sector media, there is grounds for considering what
purpose is served in releasing this particular report to the
media in the manner that it was at the time that it was released.
Everything about the new propaganda war to take place in the
media should henceforth be automatically considered a planned
event, including the release of this report, announcing that
such a war has been engaged, and how and where it is to be fought.
At the beginning of the report, there are a few comments criticizing
the lackluster communication abilities of the current regime
in the White House, and a few comments about how the war in
Iraq is shaping up different from what some analysts expected.
These brief comments were seized upon by global media, to the
complete exclusion of the vast bulk of the report describing
the shape of future media wars the Department of Defense intends
NEW YORK -- Bush administration
hard-liners have been considering launching selected military
strikes at insurgent training camps in Syria and border-crossing
points used by Islamist guerrillas to enter Iraq in an effort
to bolster security for the upcoming elections, according
to former and current administration officials.
Pressure for some form of military action
is also coming from interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi,
these sources said.
Some former and serving U.S. intelligence officials
who have usually been opposed to any expansion of U.S. military
activities in the region are expressing support for such strikes.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official told United
Press International, "I don't usually find myself in sympathy
with the Bush neo-cons, but I think there is enough fire under
this smoke to justify such action."
Referring to the escalating attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq by
Iraqi insurgents, he added, "Syria is complicit in the
(anti-U.S.) insurgency up to its eyeballs."
"Syria is the No. 1 crossing point" for guerrillas
entering Iraq," Gary Gambill, editor of the Middle East
Intelligence Bulletin, said. He added that Damascus "does
nothing about it."
An administration official said Syria has "camps
in which Syrians are training Iraqis for the insurgency and
others where Iraqis are training Syrians for the same purpose"
which could be hit by U.S. air strikes.
Gal Luft, a former Israeli military official with ties to
Israeli and U.S. intelligence, said, "I have heard
of the same thing about the camps."
Recently, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander
in Iraq, said that senior Baath Party officials from Iraq
are operating from Syria where they provide financing and direction
to the cells of Iraqi insurgents killing Americans, sparking
new discussions within the administration about possible measures
"There are all sorts of discussions
going on, the White House, the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs,"
said former CIA counterterrorism chief, Vince Cannistraro.
He felt the talk of strikes "is part
of a general plan of intimidation."
The White House did not return phone calls.
U.S. officials told United Press International that
money, direction, weapons and personnel are flowing into Iraq
from Syria, ending up in Iraqi cities such as Iskanderiya, Baqouba,
Latafiya and Fallujah.
Damascus is also home to associates of
a top insurgency commander now affiliated with al-Qaida, Jordanian
Abu Musab Zarqawi, who is responsible for many major suicide
bombing attacks in Iraq, U.S. officials said.
The presence of a Zarqawi branch in Damascus, discovered last
summer, was said to have acted as a major spur in uniting France
and the United States in supporting U.N. Resolution 1559 that
demanded Syria withdraw from Lebanon and that elections be held
in April 2005, U.S. officials said.
Gambill charged that a major Zarqawi deputy lives in Damascus.
In addition to Syria being used as a rear area for insurgents,
it is a key center of finance for former Saddam Hussein officials
who are leading the insurgency, thanks to stashes of Iraqi cash
that could run as high as $3 billion, which is all in the Syrian
banking system, according for former and serving administration
are also allegedly "many millions of dollars" from
Palestinian groups flowing into Syria that are also being used
to help finance anti-American guerrilla groups in Iraq,
these sources said.
The Bush administration has applied increasing pressure on Syrian
President Bashar Assad to halt the activities of militant groups
inside Syria, and to arrest and extradite former Saddam Hussein
officials who are the leading financiers, according to several
U.S. government sources.
So far there has been no positive response, they said.
What especially worries U.S. former and serving intelligence
analysts is the seeming weakness of Assad to act against
these groups. According to these sources, Assad is "well
aware of the U.S. Army on its border to the east," and
does not want to antagonize the United States, in the words
In fact, Bashar's inner circle of key advisers consists of reformist,
"smart, streetwise young technocrats" who are urging
Bashar to yield to U.S. pressure and begin to shut down some
of the anti-U.S. activity, one U.S. official said.
But Bashar is also surrounded by "the old guard" --
rogue members of the ruling circle, "various people who
are making millions and millions of dollars" by allowing
former Baath officials to shelter in Syria, this source said.
"If something goes wrong, they can pack up and go and live
in Geneva," he said.
Because of the rogue elements, after the technocrats (who are
also pro-reform) give Bashar their views, they often find themselves
visited the next day by hard-line members of Syria's Mukhabarat,
or secret police, who tell them to keep their mouths shut, according
to this official.
"Bashar is trapped," this U.S. government official
said. "He's the prisoner of Zenda."
Luft agreed, saying, "The Mukhabarat and some of the old
guard are known to be pressuring Bashar's senior confidents
to ignore U.S. demands."
One former senior CIA official, usually an administration
critic, said, "We should send a
cruise missile into south-side Damascus and blow the Mukharbarat
headquarters off the map. We should first make clear to them
that they are the target."
But are the hawks likely to get their strikes?
Former CIA Syria expert, Martha Kessler doesn't think
so. "I don't think the administration can afford to destabilize
another country in the region," she said.
Kessler pointed out that Syria has tried,
often in vain, to cooperate with the United States, only to
be either snubbed or ignored.
According to Kesssler, Syria offered to station U.S. forces
on its soil before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The Syrians have also opened their intelligence books that identify
assets in Europe, including front companies, to the administration
in an attempt to help track down al-Qaida.
But Kessler said a chief reason for not moving against Damascus
is that any strikes would "destabilize Lebanon," where
the Lebanese Hezbollah movement awaits orders from Iran before
launching retaliations against Israeli attacks.
"Damascus is not the heartbeat of this Iraqi insurgent
movement," she said.
However, one administration official said, "We
have got one hell of a problem."
Now that the dust has finally settled
from the Bernard
Kerik fiasco, President Bush has
named a new choice to head the Department of Homeland Security:
Federal appeals judge and former high-ranking federal prosecutor
Because Chertoff was recently vetted for the federal bench,
we assume that he's passed his background check with flying
colors, and we won't be hearing about any more World Trade Center
love nests, arrest warrants. Mob pals, and all the other things
that made the brief Kerik period such a fun time to be a journalist.
That's the "good" news. The bad news
is that while Chertoff may lack the whiff of sex scandal that
would put the NY tabloids on the case, he's arguably a worse
choice than Kerik. In the days
after 9/11, Chertoff -- as head of the criminal division under
John Ashcroft -- was architect of some of the most regrettable
policies of Bush I.
It was Chertoff, as assistant atttorney general overseeing
the initial 9/11 probe, who OK'ed
and then defended the detention of hundreds
of "material witnesses" of Arab descent -- even though it would
later be determined that none -- that's right, none -- of the
detainees had anything to do with the terrorist attacks of 2001.
Chartoff's actions during this period would later be roundly
criticized in a report from the Justice Department's own
Inspector General. It found that immigrants
were rounded up in an "indiscriminate and haphazard manner,"
held for months while denied access to attorneys and sometimes
mistreated behind bars.
The report noted that Chertoff "urged immigration officials
to 'hold these people until we find out what's going on,' despite
the fact that many had been swept up and detained on minor immigration
Chertoff also push prosecutors and the
FBI into greatly expanded use of domestic surveillance.
In November 2002, according to this
report, he "defended the need for government agencies to
aggregate large amounts of personal information in computer
databases for both law enforcement and national security purposes."
What's more, Chertoff was responsible for the badly botched
prosecution of al-Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, who has
yet to be brought to any type of justice even though he was
arrested three-and-a-half years ago. Under his leadership, the
Justice Department pursued a theory that Moussaoui was "the
20th hijacker" -- despite zero
evidence to support that claim. However, that argument has
as an excuse to deny the American public from information
that might prove what
really happened to Flight 93 on 9/11.
Last week, Democrats were able to use the Alberto Gonzales
for attorney general hearings as a venue to air the dirty laundry
of the Bush administration's torture policies. Although Chertoff
is likely to be confirmed, let's hope it's not without a discussion
of these civil rights abuses.
It’s not the stolen
election or the war crimes committed in my name. It’s
not the fact Bush is a liar and a criminal. It’s not the
Strausscons in the White House and the Pentagon, plotting multiple
wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. It’s not Congress,
sold out to neolibs, multinational corporations, and Wall Street
I’m suffering from “political paranoia” and
need Paxil, a prescription drug for the treatment of anxiety
and depression. It’s not the 100,000 dead killed by my
government in Iraq. It’s not torture or loose talk of
nuking enemies. It is a serotonin imbalance in my brain. I suffer
from any number of possible maladies—depression, Generalized
Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (thus writing
this blog every day), and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. I suffer
from mental illness and need help.
Congress may come to the rescue—and soon.
“When the 109th Congress convenes in Washington in January,
Senator Bill Frist, the first practicing physician elected to
the Senate since 1928, plans to file a bill that would define
‘political paranoia’ as a mental disorder, paving
the way for individuals who suffer from paranoid delusions regarding
voter fraud, political persecution and FBI surveillance to receive
Medicare reimbursement for any psychiatric treatment they receive,”
writes Hermione Slatkin, Medical Correspondent for the Swift
Report. “Rick Smith, a spokesman for Senator Frist, says
that the measure has a good chance of passing—something
that can only help a portion of the population that is suffering
“If you’re still convinced that President Bush
won the election because Republicans figured out a way to hack
into electronic voting machines, you’ve obviously got
a problem,” says Smith. “If we can figure out a
way to ease your suffering by getting you into therapy and onto
medication, that’s something that we hope the entire 109th
Congress will support.”
Characterizing political dissent as a form of mental illness
is the hallmark of authoritarian government. In China, for instance,
forensic psychiatrists label dissent “political lunacy”
(see Jacob Sullum, Head Games: What are the rules for defining
mental illness?) and in Soviet Russia political dissenters were
routinely cosigned to mental hospitals. Nowadays, with modern
pharmacology, mental hospitals are no longer required—the
mental hospital is internalized through chemical intervention.
No need for FEMA camps or “preventive detention”
when we have a “medical armamentarium” of serotonin
uptake inhibitors. All that is needed now is for Frist and the
Republicans to devise a law defining “political paranoia”
and determining that “political paranoiacs” are
a threat to society.
You will take your Paxil—or something far more debilitating—and
by court order. Recall Bush’s effort to screen the entire
population for mental illness, i.e., the New Freedom Initiative.
Bush’s commission found that “despite their prevalence,
mental disorders often go undiagnosed” and recommended
comprehensive mental health screening for “consumers of
all ages.” Naturally, Frist and the Republicans are mostly
concerned about the “political paranoia” form of
mental illness, as the above news item indicates.
As a “consumer,” is it possible I am suffering
from “political paranoia.” or is the whole thing
a product of my feverish imagination and the result of reading
too many news items on the web?
Finally, note that I could not find mention of Frist and the
classification of “political paranoia” after a lengthy
Google news search. Mention of it only appeared on the Swift
Report website. Rick Smith’s above quote returned no results.
Of course, this does not mean that Bill Frist and the Republicans
do not consider the opposition—including more than a few
Democrats—as mental cases and tinfoil hatters. Rush Limbaugh
calls us nutters every day and millions of gullible Americans
take what he says as gospel.
“Veni, vidi, vici,” a famous
Latin quotation of a commander in the Gaelic wars between ancient
Rome and Gaul, means, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
I’ll bet you thought it was George Bush, speaking from
an aircraft carrier, returning from a trip to Iraq.
No way. Gaul didn’t have the world’s second-largest
oil reserves. As for Bush’s paranoid philosophy of pre-emptively
attacking a country that might have weapons of mass destruction,
if his example in Iraq catches on with other nations, there
is no way we, as a country, can say, “Don’t do as
we do, just do what we say.” We have set this terrible
precedent, and now will have to live with the consequences.
So far, his brilliant philosophy and leadership have cost
thousands of American casualties in Iraq (over 1,000 dead and
many thousands maimed or wounded). Huge cities in Iraq have
been destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people have been driven
from their destroyed homes, over 100,000, mostly women and children,
killed or mutilated, and to this president and his cohorts,
it’s just so much collateral damage.
Weapons of mass destruction don’t have to be nuclear.
All the killing and destruction taking place in Iraq didn’t
come from American spitballs or BB guns. They came from a well-equipped
army with modern weapons. The mass destruction is just as real
as if caused by nuclear weapons. These poor people were guilty
of only one thing — being born in Iraq.
By the way, who are we to speak of “weapons of mass
destruction” as if it’s a dirty word? Doesn’t
our country have more of those weapons than all the rest of
the world put together, and haven’t we proven we’ll
use them if necessary?
US forces have been preventing almost 300
truck drivers from crossing the border into Syria after unloading
their shipment in Iraq.
The Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR) in Syria said
on Tuesday that US forces have prevented the 288 truck drivers
from returning home for more than a week.
Eyewitnesses said the hauliers are being held in Rabiah near
the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Muhammad Radun, head of the Syrian branch of the AOHR, told
Aljazeera.net the case was brought to his attention by the drivers.
"All these drivers have done is
drop goods off in Iraq and they now want to make their way back
home, but they are being prevented by US forces,"
Radun thinks the drivers are being held back because US forces
hold the drivers responsible for a series of recent explosions
in the Rabiaa area in west Iraq.
He said: "We suspect the US troops are keeping the drivers
in Iraq in connection to the attacks. They are now interrogating
the drivers but they are not responsible for the attacks."
The US military was unavailable to comment.
One of the drivers, Jihad Sadiq, said: "An explosion
rocked a police centre only 50m away from us. We are in a dangerous
zone, between the Americans and Iraqi police.
"We have been held in the chilly weather
for seven days. We have nothing any more; no money, water or
food. We don't know what to do."
"We have families and children waiting for us."
"They gave no reasons behind our capture. Whenever we
talk to the Iraqis, they say speak with the Americans. When
we talk to the Americans, they say speak to the Iraqis. No one
is answering us."
AOHR's Radun said he believed the stalemate was a matter
"The Syrian government has done nothing to help the situation
because they do not want to antagonise the Iraqi government,"
"All we want to do now is bring the situation to the
attention of other human rights groups across the world and
receive their backing as our own government is not helping us."
OTTAWA - The United States believes the
federal government will back the continental missile defence
plan within the next few months, the U.S. ambassador to Canada
Canada will join the plan before the end of March, Paul Cellucci
told the Canadian Press on Sunday.
He said "yes" when asked if the federal government
would support the controversial project.
"We've been told that it will be dealt with over the
next couple of months," he told CP.
Some Liberal MPs, the Bloc Québécois and the
NDP are opposed to the idea. Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin
and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper have not taken a public
The U.S. is developing a missile system that could shoot down
incoming missiles, but it faces technological problems.
MPs will have a chance to address the issue before the government
makes a decision, a spokesperson for Martin said.
So American Ambassador Paul Cellucci thinks
Canada will join the United States missile defence plan before
the end of March. Am I the only Canadian who is fed up with
this meddling egotistical war monger? Cellucci needs to shut
up or go home or both. He needs to be reminded that he is in
Canada at our pleasure and our political decisions are none
of his business. It has become apparent to all, except him,
that Canadians are not interested in waging war and killing
innocent people in a foreign country and we are offended by
such terms as "collateral damage."
CERES — A United States Marine shot
two police officers, one fatally, Sunday night. In a second
gun battle three hours later, officers shot and killed the suspect.
Ceres Police Sgt. Howard Stevenson died from his injuries
at an area hospital, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County Sheriff's
Department said this morning.
Officer Sam Ryno was listed in critical condition at an area
hospital Monday morning. Both men had been shot several times
with an automatic rifle.
Three hours after the shooting, police shot and killed the
suspect when they found him behind a nearby home. Police said
Monday that the 19-year-old Modesto man, reported
absent without leave from Camp Pendleton Saturday night, had
served in Iraq and did not want to return. [...]
JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) - A man opened fire
Tuesday at a Tennessee Transportation Department maintenance
garage, killing his wife and two others, and wounding two, authorities
David Jordan was arrested a short time later, not far from
the garage, police said. Two officers captured him and found
an assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and two pistols in his
truck. Police gave no motive for the shooting.
Police said Jordan first went to the garage's office, where
he shot and killed his wife, Donna, a department employee. Then
he walked back outside and killed a deliveryman and a Forestry
Department employee who was having some work done on his state
vehicle, police said.
The garage is used for maintenance on state vehicles.
Two other men were shot and wounded, and one was listed in
guarded condition, authorities said.
NEW YORK - Alan Greenspan,
that Matador of the Money Supply, the esteemed Impresario of
Interest Rates, has suffered precious few slings or arrows over
his many years as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Even the
White House has had to offer its critiques off the record for
fear of roiling the markets or upsetting the chairman's Elvis-in-Vegas-like
following. So when the chief economist
of one of the world's most prestigious banks calls Greenspan
a bum, that's a big deal.
And yesterday it happened. Stephen Roach, the chief economist
for Morgan Stanley & Co. (nyse: MWD - news - people ), one
of the most powerful investment banks and one of the 50 largest
companies in the world, says Greenspan has "driven the
world to the economic brink."
Writing in an upcoming issue of Foreign Policy, Roach says
that when Greenspan steps down as chairman of the Federal Reserve
next year, he will leave behind a record foreign deficit and
a generation of Americans with little savings and mountains
of debt. Americans, Roach says, are far too dependent on the
value of their assets, especially their homes, rather than on
income-based savings; they are running a huge current-account
deficit; and much of the resulting debt is now held by foreign
countries, especially in Asia, which permits low interest rates
and entices Americans into more debt.
The "economic brink" line is from the headline of
a press release sent by Foreign Policy. In an interview this
morning, Roach said, "That's a little extreme." He
does admit the nation has prospered on Greenspan's watch. Still,
he does not disavow the haymakers he directs at the chairman's
is no way to run the global economy," Roach says.
So far, the Fed has bucked the odds, Roach adds. But the longer
the situation exists, the more chance there is that it will
spell danger for the United States and the world.
Roach lays the blame for the peril at Greenspan's door. But
first he takes out after his outsized reputation. Greenspan
is not responsible for defeating inflation in the 1980s; Paul
Volcker, his "tough and courageous predecessor," deserves
more of the credit, Roach says. Greenspan's monetary policy
deserves some accolades for the 1990s boom, but former President
Bill Clinton's fiscal policy and other factors were equally
responsible, Roach says. Greenspan may deserve some praise for
softening the recession that followed the stock market meltdown,
Roach concedes, but the chairman's cure may result in "bigger
problems down the road" and "the biggest bubble of
all: residential property."
Many have credited Greenspan with saving the world following
the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. Time magazine went so far
as to put the gnome of Constitution Avenue on its cover, under
the headline "Committee to Save the World." Though
it is the case that the world did not end, "In truth, the
world weathered the Asian financial storm only to chart increasingly
dangerous waters in the years that followed," Roach writes.
"Global economic imbalances have intensified dramatically
A good chunk of the U.S. prosperity is owed to these imbalances,
Roach says: "Asian countries holding enormous stocks of
U.S. dollars recycle this cash back into the United States by
buying U.S. [Treasury bills]. This process effectively subsidizes
U.S. interest rates, thus propping up U.S. asset markets and
enticing American consumers into even more debt. Awash in newfound
purchasing power, Americans then turn around and buy everything
from Chinese-made DVD players to Japanese cars."
While the economist has nothing against DVD players, he does
say, "Asia and Europe are increasingly dependent on overly
indebted U.S. consumers, while those consumers are increasingly
dependent on Asia's interest-rate subsidy. The longer these
imbalances persist, the greater the likelihood of a sharp adjustment.
A safer world? Not on your life."
Roach even questions Greenspan's political independence. He
does not claim the chairman is a partisan Republican, but
he does fault him for being a "cheerleader for policies
such as tax cuts...that could make the endgame all the more
Greenspan is to central banking what J. Edgar Hoover was to
fighting crime. He will soon surpass the fondly forgotten William
McChesney Martin as the longest-serving Fed chairman. But his
term as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors expires
in just over a year from now, and America will have to do without.
Roach says, "Greenspan will be a tough act to follow."
But the difficulty may not be living up to the chairman's reputation
so much as cleaning up his mess.
BEIJING (AP) - China on Wednesday raised
the death toll from a firecracker factory explosion to 25, with
Most of the victims in the Tuesday afternoon blast at the
Xiangliu firecracker factory in northern Shanxi province were
young women working at the factory, the official Xinhua news
agency said. The cause of the explosion was under investigation,
Xinhua said, and authorities were looking for the owner of the
factory, who had fled.
Also Tuesday, another explosion occurred in Zhandian, a village
in eastern Anhui province, when a man was making firecrackers
at home, an earlier Xinhua report said.
The man was killed and his wife was seriously injured, it
China's fireworks industry suffers hundreds of deaths every
year in fires and explosions as thousands of people, often in
poor rural areas, do much of the work by hand in illegal or
poorly equipped premises.
During January and February, the fatality rate usually surges
as producers rush to fill orders for the Lunar New Year, which
falls during those two months. Chinese celebrate by setting
off billions of firecrackers.
BANGKOK: Just as Thailand is getting its
tsunami-stricken south under control, tragedy strikes in the
heart of its capital Bangkok.
A downtown building caught fire and then collapsed, crushing
an unknown number of volunteer emergency workers and firefighters
Initial investigations showed that it was the owner who illegally
added on a floor or two, and the building simply couldn't withstand
the additional weight.
"It happened suddenly. The bulding collapsed so they
couldn't run away from the building. So we used the whole night
trying to clear the stuff," said Bangkok governor Apirak
Volunteer workers have been at the building since Sunday afternoon,
trying to rescue their colleagues.
|BAGUIO, Philippines : A deadly bacteria that
may have killed up to 28 people in recent months has set the picturesque
northern Philippines resort city of Baguio on edge, threatening
the region's vital tourism industry.
An outbreak of meningococcemia, a disease that targets the
central nervous system, has sparked panic and speculation as
national and local governments, aided by the World Health Organization
(WHO) struggle to control the sickness.
The national government, with WHO assistance, has set up a
special "command post" in Baguio with a laboratory
to speed up detection and analysis of victims and track the
spread of the disease, health officials said.
Baguio Mayor Braulio Yaranon has tapped a special fund, normally
reserved for disaster relief, to buy medicines, laboratory equipment
and other supplies to fight the disease.
For Baguio, a city of 350,000 people located some 205 kilometers
(127 miles) north of Manila, the cluster of cases is more than
just a public health concern. [...]
MUMBAI, JANUARY 11: Panic tonight gripped
the Uran-Khopoli belt of Raigad with villagers
reporting a huge ball of fire coming down from the sky accompanied
by a big bang.
Aviation sources said it could have been a sonic boom from
IAF sorties. Presumably, a Sukhoi is said to have flown back
to Pune from Mumbai between 8.30 and 8.45 pm.
Guardian Minister for Raigad district Sunil Tatkare said police
have despatched teams to the area to find out if there was a
crash. Khalapur police said the team had left for Vawashi village
from where there were complaints of a deafening sound.
Meanwhile, till late night, confusion reigned over the possible
crash of an aircraft in Raigad district. Air
Traffic Control, however, confirmed that all aircraft were in
contact and there were no reports of anyone missing.
A moderate earthquake with a preliminary
magnitude of 5.1 struck Turkey’s southern Aegean coast,
sending residents into the streets in panic, the Anatolia news
agency reported. At least one person was injured.
The quake hit at 01:48 a.m. (2348GMT Monday) and was centred
on the province of Mugla, the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory
said. Several aftershocks followed.
It was also felt in the neighbouring province of Aydin, Anatolia
One man was taken to hospital in the resort town of Marmaris,
in Mugla, with minor injuries after jumping from a balcony in
panic, the agency said. There were no immediate reports of any
damage to buildings.
ANGELES - At least 14 people have died in heavy rain and snow
storms that have been battering California, sparking deadly
landslides and flash floods, authorities said Tuesday.
Authorities raised the death toll as the bad weather continued
to roil the state.
"We have at least nine dead in Los Angeles County,"
said Lieutenant Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Coroner's
He said there were at least four dead in nearby Ventura county,
where a mudslide fell onto the town of La Conchita on Monday
burying about 15 homes where many people are still missing.
And one person was reported dead in the state capital of Sacramento,
city firefighters said.
The storms have stretched emergency services across the region
as they rally to rescue motorists trapped by rising flood waters
and search for survivors in La Conchita.
MOSCOW, January 11 (Itar-Tass) - A hurricane
has left more than 1,500 inhabited localities without electricity
in the Pskov Region of Russia, Itar-Tass was told on Tuesday
at the Press Service of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations.
The hurricane had swept over Pskov Region on January 9. The
wind velocity reached twenty-eight metres a second. As many
as 296 electric transmission lines were damaged and about four
thousand transformer substations were de-energized. Twenty-four
districts with a population of 67,000 were left without electricity.
LONDON - Gale-force winds blew a heavyweight
truck off a bridge Tuesday in Northern Ireland, killing the
driver, police said.
The bridge crossing the river Foyle in Derry, the province's
second-largest city, was closed after the accident.
A female driver was also seriously injured on another Derry
bridge when her truck collided with a car.
More than 5,000 homes remained without electricity late on
Tuesday with the storm, which has also hit the Republic of Ireland,
expected to continue unabated through the night.
Four young children were among at least
eight people killed in a bushfire that was burning out of control
on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula last night.
All the victims are believed to have been incinerated in cars
as they tried to flee the flames.
There were fears the death toll would rise as seven people
were reported missing and fire continued to rage out of control
on a wide front, threatening more lives and property.
Police confirmed last night that three bodies found in a burnt-out
car at the town of Poonindie were those of a woman and two young
children. The bodies of two other children, aged two and four,
and their grandfather were found in a car on road near the town
of Wanilla. Two adults died in another car nearby.
Elsewhere, about 20 houses were destroyed and terrified residents
of at least one town leapt into the sea to escape the flames.
After a day of blistering 44-degree heat and high winds, 300
firefighters were trying to contain the blaze, which destroyed
100,000 hectares in the state's worst fire since Ash Wednesday
of February 1983, when 28 people were killed. [...]
Motor Company panders to heightened consumer fears produced
by Dubya's imaginary war on terror. (Photo: Reuters)
The world of the future is congested
and motorists will be even more scared of terrorism and guns,
if the latest concept car from Ford is any guide.
The car maker yesterday revealed a concept vehicle called
the Synus that resembles an armoured
van shrunk to the size of a Toyota Echo. It even has
bullet proof windows.
Ford predicts that such a vehicle will be popular by 2010,
because most of people will live in densely populated cities
and security will increasingly become a priority.
The Ford Synus, revealed at the 2005 North American International
Auto Show, "deploys protective shutters
over the windshield and side glass" and the small side
windows are "non-opening and bullet resistant".
The rear hatch is opened via a four-spoke dial, similar to
that used on safes. The interior of the
car, "emulates a warm, welcoming private sanctuary",
including a 114-centimetre television and seats that can be
turned around to create a "conversation pit".
The Synus (which stands for "synthesis urban sanctuary")
was brought to life by a team of designers with an average age
"Many people over the years have confused small with
fragile, and I said there is a difference between a small poodle
and a small bulldog," says Ford's design chief, J Mays.
"This certainly falls off the fence, clearly on the side
of the bulldog."
The Synus is based on the Ford Fiesta small car and the company
is looking at options given the new wave of boxy Japanese imports
flooding into America.
J Mays said: "We're ploughing that field right now and
we're trying to see how fertile is that market, so
what we're looking for with the Synus is really a reaction back
from the market place."
The Ford Synus wasn't the only unconventional idea at the
year's biggest automotive expo.
Jeep unveiled a rock-hopping vehicle called the Hurricane
that has one 5.7-litre V8 to power the front wheels - and another
to power the rear.
The vehicle accelerates faster than a Porsche and can complete
a 360-degree turn on its own axis. It can turn the front wheels
on full lock one way and the rear wheels on full lock the other
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