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they came for the terrorists…
executive suspension of centuries-old habeas corpus right should
ring loud alarm bells.
by Thom Hartmann
Dateline: Monday, January 10, 2005
The confirmation of Alberto
Gonzales as the next US Attorney-General is not just about the torture
memos. It's much bigger than that.
If Bush continues to roll back human and civil
rights - and the installation of Alberto Gonzalez as America's chief
law enforcement officer is very much a part of his campaign to do
so - we may be facing a "Pastor Niemöller moment"
sooner than most of us could have imagined.
Tuesday, January 10, 2005, is the third anniversary of the opening
of America's first concentration camp since Japanese Americans were
shamefully interned during WWII. Since the first Guantanamo camp
was opened, the Bush administration has built additional concentration
camps - the latest known as Camp Five - in Cuba, and is asking Congress
for $29 million to build concentration Camp Six.
These concentration camps detain uncharged, untried,
unconvicted individuals, who may be held for the rest of their lives
because, as the UK's Guardian newspaper noted on January 5th of
this year, the Bush administration "lacks proof" that
they are either criminals or POWs.
This is one of the more visible parts of a much larger campaign
the Bush administration has embarked on to reverse not only 229
years of the American rule of law regarding the rights of average
citizens, but nearly eight centuries of human rights that go back
to an epic moment in 1215 on a meadow by the River Thames.
The modern institution of civil and human
rights, and particularly the writ of habeas corpus, began in June
of 1215 when King John was forced by the feudal lords to sign the
Magna Carta at Runnymede. Although that document mostly protected
"freemen" - what were then known as feudal lords or barons,
and today known as CEOs and millionaires - rather than the average
person, it initiated a series of events that echo to this day.
Two of the most critical parts of the Magna Carta were articles
38 and 39, which established the foundation for what is now known
as "habeas corpus" laws (literally, "produce the
body" from the Latin - meaning, broadly, "let this person
go free"), as well as the Fourth through Eighth Amendments
of our Constitution and hundreds of other federal and state due
Articles 38 and 39 of the Magna Carta said:
"38 In future no official shall place a man
on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible
witnesses to the truth of it.
"39 No free man shall be seized or imprisoned,
or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled,
or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed
with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful
judgment of his equals or by the law of the land."
This was radical stuff, and over the next four hundred years average
people increasingly wanted for themselves these same protections
from the abuse of the power of government or great wealth. But from
1215 to 1628, outside of the privileges enjoyed by the feudal lords,
the average person could be arrested and imprisoned at the whim
of the king with no recourse to the courts.
Then, in 1627, King Charles I overstepped, and
the people snapped. Charles I threw into jail five knights in a
tax disagreement, and the knights sued the King, asserting their
habeas corpus right to be free or on bail unless convicted of a
King Charles I, in response, invoked his right
to simply imprison anybody he wanted (other than the rich), anytime
he wanted, as he said, "per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis."
This is essentially the same argument that George
W Bush makes today for why he has the right to detain both citizens
and non-citizens solely on his own say-so: because he's in charge.
And it's an argument supported by Alberto Gonzales.
But just as George's decree is meeting resistance, Charles' decree
wasn't well received. The result of his overt assault on the rights
of citizens led to a sort of revolt in the British Parliament, producing
the 1628 "Petition of Right" law, an early version of
our Fourth through Eighth Amendments, which restated Articles 38
and 39 of the Magna Carta and added that "writs of habeas corpus,
[are] there to undergo and receive [only] as the court should order."
It was later strengthened with the "Habeas Corpus Act of 1640"
and a second "Habeas Corpus Act of 1679."
Thus, the right to suspend habeas corpus no longer was held by
the King. It was exercised solely by the people's (elected and hereditary)
representatives in the Parliament.
The third George to govern the United Kingdom confronted this in
1815 when he came into possession of Napoleon Bonaparte. But the
British laws were so explicit that everybody was entitled to habeas
corpus - even people who were not British citizens - that when Napoleon
surrendered on the deck of the British flagship Bellerophon after
the battle of Waterloo in 1815, the British Parliament had to pass
a law ("An Act For The More Effectually Detaining In Custody
Napoleon Bonaparte") to suspend habeas corpus so King George
III could legally continue to hold him prisoner (and then legally
exile him to a British fortification on a distant island).
Ironically, the third George to govern the United States now says,
190 years later, that unlike England's George III, he does not need
an act of Congress to detain people or exile them to camps on a
To facilitate this, our Third George, and his
able counselor Judge Gonzales, have brought forth new "legal"
terms - "enemy combatant" and "terrorist" -
and invented a new set of law and rights (or non-laws and non-rights)
for people they label as such.
It's a virtual repeat of Charles I's doctrine
that a nation's ruler may do whatever he wants because he's the
one in charge - "per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis."
Interestingly, the United States Constitution does
provide for special exceptions to the involuntary detention of persons
- it is legal to suspend habeas corpus. But the Constitution says
it can only be done by Congress, not by the President.
Article I of the Constitution outlines the powers and limits of
the Legislative Branch of government (Article 2 lays out the Executive
Branch, and Article 3 defines the Judicial Branch). In Section 9,
Clause 2 of Article I, the Constitution says of the Legislative
branch's authority: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus
shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion
the public Safety may require it."
Abraham Lincoln was well aware of this during the Civil War, and
was the first president to successfully ask Congress (on March 3,
1863) to suspend habeas corpus so he could imprison those he considered
a threat until the war was over. Congress invoked this power again
during Reconstruction when President Grant requested The Ku Klux
Klan Act in 1871 to put down a rebellion in South Carolina.
But President George W Bush has not asked Congress
for, and has not been granted, a suspension of habeas corpus for
his so-called "war on terrorism," a "war" which
he and his advisors have implied may last well beyond our lifetimes.
Nonetheless, our President, with consent of his
Counsel Mr. Gonzales, has locked people up, "per speciale Mandatum
Domini Regis." Some of their names are familiar to us - US
citizens Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, for example - but there are
hundreds whose names we are not even allowed to know. Perhaps thousands.
It's a state secret, after all. Per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis.
But how do we deal with people who want to kill us, to destroy
our nation, to terrorize us?
Every president from George Washington to Bill Clinton has understood
that there are two categories of people who can be incarcerated
legally - Prisoners of War and criminals. The former have rights
under both US law and the Geneva Conventions, and the latter under
the US Constitution.
These two categories encompass every possible actual threat to
a nation and its people, and have withstood the test of time from
the days of King John to today.
For example, when Bill Clinton was confronted with a heinous act
of terrorism within the United States - the bombing of the Federal
Building in Oklahoma City - he didn't declare a "war"
on whoever the terrorist may be, or suspend habeas corpus. Instead,
he immediately defined the perpetrators as thugs and criminals,
and brought the full weight of the American and international criminal
justice system to bear, capturing Timothy McVeigh and using Interpol
to search the world for possible McVeigh allies. Justice was served,
the victims achieved closure, and our rights were left largely intact.
But, just as Hitler and his close advisors used
the burning of the Reichstag building to declare a perpetual "war
on terrorism," and then moved to suspend habeas corpus and
other rights, so too have George W Bush and Alberto Gonzales.
The Founders must be turning in their graves. Clearly they never
imagined such a thing in their wildest dreams. As Alexander Hamilton
- arguably the most conservative of the Founders - wrote in Federalist
"The establishment of the writ of habeas corpus ... are perhaps
greater securities to liberty and republicanism than any it [the
Constitution] contains. ...[T]he practice of arbitrary imprisonments
have been, in all ages, the favorite and most formidable instruments
of tyranny. The observations of the judicious [British 18th century
legal scholar] Blackstone, in reference to the latter, are well
worthy of recital:
"'To bereave a man of life,' says he, 'or by violence to confiscate
his estate, without accusation or trial, would be so gross and notorious
an act of despotism, as must at once convey the alarm of tyranny
throughout the whole nation; but confinement of the person, by secretly
hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten,
is a less public, a less striking, and therefore A MORE DANGEROUS
ENGINE of arbitrary government.''' [Capitals all Hamilton's from
While the sexy stuff that members of Congress and the news media
want to talk about when they question Alberto Gonzales is torture
- after all, the pictures are now iconic and have worldwide distribution
- the torture of these and other prisoners in US custody is really
a subset of a larger issue.
The bigger question here is whether George
W Bush has the right to ignore the US Constitution and international
treaties, violate human rights and civil liberties, promote "preemptive"
wars, and build concentration camps for the permanent imprisonment
of untried and unconvicted individuals - all simply because he says
he can, per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis. And whether we
want the chief law enforcement officer of the land, the man who
would be charged with prosecuting Bush or those in his administration
who may break the law, to be a man who agrees that Bush stands above
the law and the Constitution.
The question, ultimately, is whether our nation
will continue to stand for the values upon which it was founded.
Early American conservatives suggested that democracy was so ultimately
weak it couldn't withstand the assault of newspaper editors and
citizens who spoke out against it, or terrorists from the Islamic
Barbary Coast, leading John Adams to pass America's first PATRIOT
Act-like laws, the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. President Thomas
Jefferson rebuked those who wanted America ruled by an iron-handed
presidency that could - as Adams had - throw people in jail for
"crimes" such as speaking political opinion, or without
constitutional due process.
"I know, indeed," Jefferson said in his first inaugural
address on March 4, 1801, "that some honest men fear that a
republican government cannot be strong; that this government is
not strong enough.
"But would the honest patriot,"he continued, "in
the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which
has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and visionary
fear that this government, the world's best hope, may by possibility
want energy to preserve itself? I trust not.
"I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government
on earth. I believe it is the only one where every man, at the call
of the laws, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet
invasions of the public order as his own personal concern."
The sum of this, Jefferson said, was found in "freedom of
person under the protection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries
impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation
which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of
revolution and reformation.
"The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our heroes have
been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our
political faith, the text of civil instruction, the touchstone by
which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander
from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace
our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty,
Modern conservatives still revere Burke and Adams and sneer at
Jefferson, but many are nonetheless alarmed by Bush's unprecedented
attack on the Constitution. As Russell Kirk wrote in his seminal
1953 book "The Conservative Mind" - the book which inspired
a generation of conservatives from Buckley to Goldwater - a "New
Society," abandoning the traditional values of America, could
easily come into being if "radicals" such as Bush were
to take over our government and discard the Constitution.
This New Society, Kirk wrote in his chapter "The
Promise of Conservatism," would be dominated by "the gratification
of a lust for power and the destruction of all ancient political
institutions in the interest of the new dominant elites. The great
Plan requires that the public be kept constantly in an emotional
state closely resembling that of a nation at war; this lacking,
obedience and co-operation shrivel… " Kirk adds that
"Big Brother remains to show the donkey the stick instead of
When I was working in Russia some years ago, a friend in Kaliningrad
told me a perhaps apocryphal story about Nikita Khrushchev, who,
following Stalin's death, gave a speech to the Politburo denouncing
Stalin's policies. A few minutes into Khrushchev's diatribe, somebody
shouted out, "Why didn't you challenge him then, the way you
The room fell silent, as Khrushchev angrily swept the audience
with his glare. "Who said that?" he asked in a reasoned
"Who said that?" Khrushchev demanded, leaning forward.
Pounding his fist on the podium to accent each word, he screamed,
"Who - said - that?" Still no answer.
Finally, after a long and strained silence, the elected politicians
in the room fearful to even cough, a corner of Khrushchev's mouth
lifted into a smile.
"Now you know," he said with a chuckle, "why I did
not speak up against Stalin when I sat where you now sit."
The question for our day is who will speak up against George W
Bush and his Stalinist policies? Who will speak against the man
who punishes reporters and news organizations by cutting off their
access; who punishes politicians by targeting them in their home
districts; who punishes truth-tellers in the Executive branch by
character assassination that even extends to destroying their spouse's
Oddly, so far it's only been Justice Antonin Scalia, a man with
whom I often strongly disagree. Scalia wrote in his minority dissent
in the case of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld that the President does not have
the power to suspend habeas corpus by executive decree. Instead,
he wrote: "If civil rights are to be curtailed during wartime,
it must be done openly and democratically, as the Constitution requires…"
Scalia went on to quote Alexander Hamilton from Federalist Number
8, who noted that:
"The violent destruction of life and property incident to
war; the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual
danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty, to resort
for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to
destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they,
at length, become willing to run the risk of being less free."
"The Founders warned us about the risk," Scalia noted
in his Hamdi dissent, "and equipped us with a Constitution
designed to deal with it.
"Many think it not only inevitable but entirely
proper that liberty give way to security in times of national crisis..."
but, Scalia added, "that view has no place in the interpretation
and application of a Constitution designed precisely to confront
war and, in a manner that accords with democratic principles, to
How ironic that Justice Scalia was willing to stand
up to George W Bush and Alberto Gonzales, but most of the Senate
The Democrats in Congress say they're going to confirm Judge Gonzales
and "keep their powder dry" for future, larger battles
like Supreme Court nominations. But as Pastor Niemöller reminds
us, the loss of liberty is incremental, not sudden and dramatic.
One either totally stands for republican democracy, the Constitution,
and the rule of law in our republic, or one doesn't. Gonzales has
shown that he does not, both by his prevarication in his confirmation
hearings, his actions in condoning Bush's illegal suspension of
habeas corpus and PATRIOT Act abuses of constitutionally-protected
civil and human rights, and his support of other Bush decrees implicitly
per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis.
To quote Scalia's summary in the Hamdi case, "Because the
Court has proceeded to meet the current emergency in a manner the
Constitution does not envision [by letting the President suspend
habeas corpus], I respectfully dissent."
But is dissent enough?
Or must we work for a wholesale change in our representatives,
demanding that they either stand up for the principles for which
so many Americans have fought and died, or leave the political arena
Where are the true democrats among the Democrats? (Or, for that
matter, the true republicans among the Republicans?) Have they all
lost their voices?
First Bush and Gonzales came for the terrorists,
but I was not a terrorist, so I did not speak out. Then they came
for the enemy combatants, but I was not a combatant, so I did not
object. Then they came for the protestors resisting "free speech
zones" near Bush campaign rallies, but I was not a protestor
and so I only voiced my unease.
If we - and our elected representatives -
do not speak out now, loudly and forcefully, it may not be long
before they come for the rest of us.
The Bush administration is crafting
a series of measures to secure the permanent detention without trial
of alleged terrorists and those it designates as enemy combatants,
the Washington Post reported Sunday. In gross violation of international
law, detainees may soon be held in new US-constructed prisons in
Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, without access
to lawyers or family members.
“The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide
on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions,
including for hundreds of people in military and CIA custody whom
the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts,”
the Post reported. “The outcome of the review, which involves
the State Department as well, would also affect those expected to
be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations.”
One measure under consideration is the transfer of Afghan, Saudi
and Yemeni detainees currently held in the Guantanamo Bay detention
camp to prisons built by the US in their home countries.
These prisons may also be used to detain those currently held by
the Central Intelligence Agency. Almost nothing is known about how
many prisoners are in the hands of the CIA, or the conditions under
which they are kept. The CIA reportedly maintains secret detention
facilities on ships at sea, and at military bases in Afghanistan
and on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia.
The Post noted that these detainees represent the Bush administration’s
“toughest detention problem,” and that the CIA “has
been scurrying since Sept. 11, 2001, to find secure locations abroad
where it could detain and interrogate captives without risk of discovery,
and without having to give them access to legal proceedings.”
A proposal of the intelligence agency to operate its own secret
prison was rejected as impractical.
Local authorities will run the new prisons, while the State Department
will reportedly monitor operations, ensuring compliance with “recognized
human rights standards.”
Such assurances are hardly credible. The Bush administration has
systematically flouted human rights conventions in the name of the
war on terror. The use of torture has been sanctioned at the highest
levels of the government, and, as leaked Red Cross reports have
demonstrated, US authorities routinely inflict torture upon Guantanamo
Claims regarding the protection of human rights are particularly
cynical, given that the new measures are deliberately designed to
violate long-established legal rights and norms. Anyone the government
designates an enemy combatant now faces life imprisonment, without
trial, without access to legal advice, and without any hope of appeal
or review. Detainees are dropped into a legal black hole, and face
totally unchecked interrogation methods.
The international prison system will effectively entrench and systematize
the CIA’s illegal practice known as “rendering.”
This is where the intelligence agency secretly transfers detainees
to various third countries, such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Rendering
has been used to employ local security forces’ use of extreme
torture and brutality, while evading US and international law.
The Bush administration’s proposals again demonstrate the
brazen criminality of its “war on terror.” Despite all
of the extremely damaging revelations of US abuse of detainees in
Iraq and Guantanamo Bay that emerged last year, the government is
plunging ahead with a new system that will inevitably lead to further
abuse and torture.
The plan has already led to disquiet among those in the political
establishment who fear adverse long-term consequences for the US’s
international position if the present course is maintained. “It’s
a bad idea,” Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, declared. “So we ought to get
over it and we ought to have a very careful, constitutional look
The Post referred to an unnamed senior administration official
who noted that the new detention proposals were necessary because
“the current detention system has strained relations between
the United States and other countries.” But rather than alter
any of the features of the current system that has provoked so much
international opposition—contravention of international law,
secret detention without trial, abuse, torture, etc.—the government
has evidently concluded that the problem lies in excessive public
and judicial review of its operations.
The Bush administration’s move to shift detainees from Guantanamo
Bay has been provoked, in part, by a Supreme Court ruling earlier
this year that allowed prisoners to challenge their detention in
While this decision did not challenge the government’s right
to imprison whomever it deems an enemy combatant, the Bush administration
views any measure of judicial oversight over its operations as an
unwarranted irritant. It is highly unlikely that the US judiciary
could claim any jurisdiction over those detainees transferred to
the nominal control of authorities in their home countries.
It is unclear whether the Red Cross would have access to detainees
held in the new prisons. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Afghanistan all
have atrocious human rights records. In Yemen, the Red Cross suspended
prison visits last year after the government refused access to prisoners
held by its Political Security department.
Detainees who remain in Guantanamo Bay will soon be held in a $25
million, 200-bed prison, dubbed “Camp 6,” replacing
the existing makeshift detention facilities on the American base.
The prison complements the already constructed 100-cell “Camp
5.” The Pentagon is also preparing to replace the mostly reservist
force currently guarding the facilities with a 324-member military
Unnamed defense officials told the Washington Post that the new
facility will be used for those “who are unlikely to ever
go through a military tribunal for lack of evidence.” This
admission again demonstrates the wholly fraudulent nature of the
Bush administration’s attempt to create the appearance of
judicial review for detainees through the use of these tribunals.
| Three years ago in the Washington
Post Ken Adelman, formerly an assistant to Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, promised us "Cakewalk In Iraq." I wonder how Mr.
Adelman feels about his promise today.
In his article Adelman disparaged Brookings Institution military
analysts and the redoubtable Edward Luttwak for "fear-mongering."
Adelman dismissed concerns about US casualties and unilateral action
as misguided worries that inspire inaction when it was perfectly
clear, to Adleman at least, that Iraq's Saddam "Hussein constitutes
the number one threat against American security and civilization."
As for concerns about going it alone, "President Bush does
not need to amass rinky-dink nations as 'coalition partners' to
convince the Washington establishment that we're right."
The Washington establishment must be wondering today how it was
convinced into making such a fatal mistake. Iraq had no weapons
of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein had no terrorist links or involvement
in the September 11 terror attack. US casualties (dead and wounded)
now stand at 10 percent of the US invasion force. A few thousand
lightly armed insurgents have tied down eight US divisions. Iraq's
infrastructure lies in ruins. Fallujah, once a city of 300,000,
has been destroyed. The US has lost control of the roads, and most
of the US fighting force is confined to protecting supply lines
and its own bases. The US military is cracking under the strain
of prolonged service in the field. The cost of the war mounts, putting
more pressure on a collapsing US dollar. The US occupation has recruited
thousands of new terrorists for Osama bin Laden and provided a training
ground. Torture and torture memos have destroyed America's moral
reputation. Civil war looms as neither Sunnis, Shiites, nor Kurds
are willing to support a government they do not control. Anti-American
feelings throughout the Middle East threaten to undermine the secular
puppets that the US keeps afloat in Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan.
There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Generals speak of staying
another 3, 5, 7, and 10 years in order "to get the job done."
If this is a cakewalk, what is a failed invasion and a lost war?
Where Mr. Adelman, the neoconservatives, the Pentagon, the White
House, the flag-wavers, and the media went wrong was in thinking
the outcome would be settled by a set piece battle between massed
Iraqi and US forces. They thought this because they knew nothing
whatsoever about Iraq.
The Sunni-controlled Iraqi military chose insurgency as the strategy.
Suck the invader in, and make him unsafe on every street and in
every building. Blow him up in his own fortified bases.
Their strategy has worked. Ours has failed.
White House halts quest for Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction, key reason for invading Iraq.
WASHINGTON - The United States has stopped searching for weapons
of mass destruction in Iraq - one of its key reasons for invading
the country - and a report saying there are no such weapons to find
there will likely stand, the White House confirmed Wednesday.
However, US President George W. Bush, who issued dire warnings
about Iraq's WMD capability prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq
in March of 2003, said the Iraq war had been "absolutely"
"Like many, many here in the United
States, many around the world, the United Nations thought he had
weapons of mass destruction, and so, therefore, one, we need
to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering. Saddam
was dangerous. And .. the world was safer without him in power,"
Bush said, according to excerpts released from an ABC television
Asked whether it had been worth invading Iraq even without WMD
found, Bush replied, "Oh, absolutely."
Bush made his comments on the ABC News 20/20 program.
FORT HOOD, Texas - A former inmate at Iraq's
Abu Ghraib prison forced by U.S. guards to masturbate in public
and piled onto a pyramid of naked men said on Tuesday even Iraqi
dictator Saddam Hussein did not do such things.
The inmate testified at the court martial of reservist soldier
Charles Graner, accused ringleader of guards who engaged in the
abuse, which prompted outrage when pictures of the sexual humiliation
were published around the world.
"I couldn't believe in the beginning that this could happen,
but I wished I could kill myself because no one was there to stop
it," Hussein Mutar, who was sent to
Abu Ghraib accused of car theft, said in videotaped testimony.
"They were torturing us as though it was theater for them,"
he said, as the prosecution wound up its case against Graner on
assault, dereliction of duty and other charges that could bring
him up to 17 1/2 years in prison.
An obviously ill-at ease Mutar added: "I
was extremely emotional because (even) Saddam didn't do this to
At the trial military prosecutors have presented evidence not seen
before in public from Abu Ghraib, including a video of forced group
masturbation and a picture of a woman prisoner ordered to show her
Graner's lawyer Guy Womack argues his client
was only following orders to soften up prisoners for military intelligence
agents. He said activities such as making human pyramids
with naked hooded prisoners were not illegal. [...]
Three soldiers in Graner's former unit had testified on Monday
about his key role in stacking naked prisoners into a pyramid, putting
a leash on a prisoner and other abuses in the highest security area
of the prison just outside Baghdad.
Two investigators testified that they had identified
prisoners shown in the abuse pictures as common criminals arrested
on charges including robbery, assault and prostitution.
On Wednesday, the defense will open its case that will include
testimony from Graner.
| WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Xinhuanet)
-- The United States on Wednesday warned Russia against selling lethal
military equipment to Syria, reiterating the Arab country "is
a state sponsor of terrorism."
"We're against the sale
of weaponry to Syria, against the sale of lethal military equipment
to Syria, which is a state sponsor of terrorism. We think those
kinds of sales are not appropriate," State Department spokesman
Richard Boucher said.
Asked what action Washington would envision against Moscow if
the deal went through, Boucher said, "There are potential sanctions
under US law. But that would have to be looked at, if and when,
such a sale should occur."
Boucher made the remarks when he was commenting reports that Russia
is getting ready to sell Syria its SS-26 Iskander missile, which
could hit any target in Israel.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is due to pay a historic visit
to Russia on January 24 for talks with President Vladimir Putin.
Immediately after September 11th, stories
were circulating that 5 Israelis were arrested in New York after
being caught 'celebrating' the strikes. They were placed in solitary
confinement for weeks but then were quietly deported.
Israeli Dominick Suter tells the same story. The owner of a
moving company called Urban Moving Systems suddenly upped and
moved back to Israel abandoning his business for no apparent reason.
The imprisonment of Israelis, mostly all believed to be Mossad
agents, was all down to their suspicious behaviour. Shady enough
behaviour to warrant the FBI to look into the 'business' of these
people and arrest them. But what is even
more suspicious is the way in which they were quietly released,
with minimum fanfare and deported back to Israel.
The five celebrating Israelis aren't the only ones arrested
for their dubious behaviour.
In October of 2002 in Plymouth, PA, a restaurant manager reported
on three movers who were caught dumping furniture near his place.
When he approached the driver, later identified as Moshe Elmakias,
the man fled the scene. The manager made a note of the trucks
sign, 'Moving Systems Incorporated' and called the police.
The truck was later spotted by the police. The two other movers,
identified as Israelis Ayelet Reisler and Ron Katar began to act
strangely enough for the police to search
the truck and find a video which revealed footage of Chicago with
zoomed in shots of the infamous Sears Tower. Falsified
travel logs and fake paperwork were also found on the Israelis.
When pressed for the name and number of the customer they were
supposedly moving his furniture for, they were not able to provide
On October 10th, 2001 news broadcaster CNN made a brief mention
of a scuppered bomb plot in Mexico promising to bring more details
as the story unraveled. But that was the last time the TV network
station ever reported on the story.
But over in Mexico the foiled bomb threat was headline news
and was posted on the official website of the Mexican Justice
Two terror suspects were caught in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies;
in their possession were nine hand grenades, a high powered gun
and C-4 plastic explosives.
The two men arrested were Salvador Gerson Sunke,
a Mexican Jew, and Sar ben Zui, a colonel with the Israeli special
forces, aka MOSSAD. Also found in their possession were false
But like previous cases involving Israelis, the story disappeared
from the press and the two men were released and deported back
to Israel, very quietly and very top secret.
An investigative report by the news service La Voz de Aztlan
revealed that plenty was going on behind closed doors.
"La Voz de Aztlan has learned that the Israeli Embassy used
heavy handed measures to have the two Israelis released. Very
high level emergency meetings took place between Mexican Secretary
of Foreign Relations Jorge Gutman, General Macedo de la Concha
and a top Ariel Sharon envoy who flew to Mexico City especially
for that purpose. Elías Luf of the Israeli Embassy worked night
and day and their official spokeswoman Hila Engelhart went into
high gear after many hours of complete silence. What went on during
those high level meetings; no one knows, but many in Mexico are
in disbelief at their release."
Stories of Israelis being arrested by law enforcers
are widespread and plenty with one common theme – they all get
released and deported back to Israel with no charges filed against
Furthermore, if one casts their mind a few years back the Mossad
'warned' that some 200 Al-Qaeda members were planning major attacks
in the U.S. Three years on and not one of these Al Qaeda members
has been arrested nor found.
However, nearly 200 Israeli agents have been.
Agents who included military personnel, electronics experts, wire
and phone taping experts and explosive experts with the skill
to bring down buildings including high rise ones.
Could it be that the 200 Al Qaeda members, Mossad warned about,
are in reality their own agents sent to frame Arabs for "terrorist
Is it conceivable that Al Qaeda,
as defined by President Bush as the center of a vast and well-organized
international terrorist conspiracy, does not exist?
To even raise the question amid all the officially inspired hysteria
is heretical, especially in the context of the U.S. media's supine
acceptance of administration claims relating to national security.
Yet a brilliant new BBC film produced by one of Britain's leading
documentary filmmakers systematically challenges this and many other
accepted articles of faith in the so-called war on terror.
"The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear,"
a three-hour historical film by Adam Curtis recently aired by the
British Broadcasting Corp., argues coherently that much of what
we have been told about the threat of international terrorism "is
a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians.
It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments
around the world, the security services and the international media."
Stern stuff, indeed. But consider just a few of the many questions
the program poses along the way:
• If Osama bin Laden does, in fact, head a vast international
terrorist organization with trained operatives in more than 40 countries,
as claimed by Bush, why, despite torture of prisoners, has this
administration failed to produce hard evidence of it?
• How can it be that in Britain since 9/11, 664 people have
been detained on suspicion of terrorism but only 17 have been found
guilty, most of them with no connection to Islamist groups and none
who were proven members of Al Qaeda?
• Why have we heard so much frightening talk about "dirty
bombs" when experts say it is panic rather than radioactivity
that would kill people?
• Why did Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claim on "Meet
the Press" in 2001 that Al Qaeda controlled massive high-tech
cave complexes in Afghanistan, when British and U.S. military forces
later found no such thing?
Of course, the documentary does not doubt that an embittered, well-connected
and wealthy Saudi man named Osama bin Laden helped finance various
affinity groups of Islamist fanatics that have engaged in terror,
including the 9/11 attacks. Nor does it challenge the notion that
a terrifying version of fundamentalist Islam has led to gruesome
spates of violence throughout the world. But the film, both more
sober and more deeply provocative than Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit
9/11," directly challenges the conventional wisdom by making
a powerful case that the Bush administration, led by a tight-knit
cabal of Machiavellian neoconservatives, has seized upon the false
image of a unified international terrorist threat to replace the
expired Soviet empire in order to push a political agenda.
Terrorism is deeply threatening, but it appears to be a much more
fragmented and complex phenomenon than the octopus-network image
of Al Qaeda, with Bin Laden as its head, would suggest.
While the BBC documentary acknowledges that the threat of terrorism
is both real and growing, it disagrees that the threat is centralized:
"There are dangerous and fanatical individuals and groups
around the world who have been inspired by extreme Islamist ideas
and who will use the techniques of mass terror — the attacks
on America and Madrid make this only too clear. But
the nightmare vision of a uniquely powerful hidden organization
waiting to strike our societies is an illusion. Wherever
one looks for this Al Qaeda organization, from the mountains of
Afghanistan to the 'sleeper cells' in America, the British and Americans
are chasing a phantom enemy."
The fact is, despite the efforts of several government commissions
and a vast army of investigators, we still do not have a credible
narrative of a "war on terror" that is being fought in
Consider, for example, that neither the
9/11 commission nor any court of law has been able to directly take
evidence from the key post-9/11 terror detainees held by the United
States. Everything we know comes from
two sides that both have a great stake in exaggerating the threat
posed by Al Qaeda: the terrorists themselves and the military and
intelligence agencies that have a vested interest in maintaining
the facade of an overwhelmingly dangerous enemy.
Such a state of national ignorance about an endless war is, as
"The Power of Nightmares" makes clear, simply unacceptable
in a functioning democracy.
Two Palestinians have been killed in
the West Bank hours after Israeli troops, tanks and
helicopters raided a Gaza district in the first reported
deaths since Mahmud Abbas was elected president.
Both Palestinians were shot dead in an exchange with Israeli
occupation troops near Ram Allah in the occupied West Bank.
Meanwhile, helicopters launched two missiles in the Shaikh Ajlin
district and, according to residents, raked an open field with
gunfire in what the military described as a pinpoint operation
to arrest suspected resistance members on Wednesday.
There was one reported casualty in Gaza in what the army
had described as a limited operation.
But Aljazeera's correspondent in the occupied territories said
the Israeli tank intrusion provoked the gun battle which led to
The correspondent said Israeli forces detained five Palestinian
citizens from the Abu Shuqa family, a father and his four
sons, who live about 600 to 700 metres from the Israeli
settlement of Netsarim.
The correspondent added that Israeli forces also damaged the
only coastal highway linking the city with the central
and southern parts of the Gaza Strip when they bulldozed lands
surrounding the settlement.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – No sooner had the Palestinians
elected their next president in a poll hailed by Washington as
an opportunity to yank the peace process out of its slumber than
Israel announced plans to demolish 3,000 homes in war-battered
Israeli press reports revealed Tuesday, January 11, that the
Israeli occupation army has confirmed the destruction plan, one
day after senior Israeli officials called Mahmmoud Abbas a “serious
and responsible man with whom we can talk.”
The mass-circulation Maariv daily said the Israeli plan in Rafah
is aimed at digging a trench along the so-called “Philadelphi
route” to prevent the alleged smuggling of weapons, reported Agence
It said that the construction will be in full swing within weeks,
adding the occupation authorities have already submitted for the
attorney general's approval a plan for digging the trench that
would extend to the southern part of Rafah.
The newspaper said the army planned to complete
the project before the Israeli government's plan to pull out of
the Gaza Strip and dismantle Jewish settlements to be implemented
in June this year.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA),
a total of 1,728 Rafah homes have been demolished since the start
of the second Intifada by the Israeli occupation army, leaving
17,400 homeless. [...]
Was Israel behind the separatist movement
of the Southern Sudanese? Was Sudan used as a tool by Tel Aviv
in order to achieve a long term goal which was to weaken Egypt
and come in from the backdoor?
According to a book published by the Dayan Institute for Middle
East and Africa Studies called "Israel and the Sudanese Liberation
Movement", Israel adopted a strategy which
they called 'pulling the limbs then cutting them off'. What this
policy entailed was the building of bridges with minority groups,
pulling them out of the nationalist context and then 'encouraging'
them to separate.
Tel Aviv hoped that this strategy would inevitably weaken the
Arab world, break it down and threaten its interests at the same
time. In order for this strategy to work, Mossad
agents opened lines of communication and connections with the
Kurds in Iraq, Maronites in Lebanon and Southerners in Sudan.
Of the three groups, the most important and strategic to Israel's
interests were the Southern Sudanese due to the country's close
proximity to Egypt. According to the Israeli
military belief, Egypt is their most dangerous enemy in region,
hence the deep concentration on achieving the goal of weakening
it and threatening it from the back. [...]
PARIS - France threatened on Wednesday to
take legal action against far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen for
saying the Nazi occupation of France during World War Two had not
been "particularly inhumane."
The government, anti-racism organisations and Jewish groups sharply
condemned Le Pen's latest controversial comments, made in an interview
with right-wing weekly magazine Rivarol.
"It's not only the European Union and globalisation we have
to free our country of. It's also the lies about its history, lies
that are protected by exceptional measures," Le Pen said in
comments published in Rivarol's Jan. 7 edition.
"In France, at least, the German occupation was not particularly
inhumane, although there were some blunders, inevitable in a country
of 550,000 sq km."
The Justice Ministry called for a preliminary police inquiry to
determine whether Le Pen's comments broke the law.
"He should explain himself before the law," Justice Minister
Dominique Perben told LCI television.
France anti-racism laws have made denying the Holocaust a crime,
punishable by fines or prison.
Le Pen, who in 1987 dismissed the Holocaust as a "detail"
of history, alarmed Europe in 2002 by reaching the second round
of France's presidential election on an anti-immigrant and anti-Europe
During the Nazi German occupation of France from 1940 until 1944,
about 76,000 Jews were deported. Only some 2,500 returned.
The CRIF umbrella group of Jewish organisations said it was "shocked"
by Le Pen's comments.
"These statements tarnish the memory of all victims of Nazism
... and of the entire French population which was submitted to the
most atrocious of occupations and humiliations for more than four
years," it said.
France's junior minister for veterans, Hamlaoui Mekachera, said
he had read Le Pen's comments with "astonishment" and
dismissed Le Pen's "attempts to rewrite history."
Richard Serero, director-general of France's Licra anti-racism
league, said of Le Pen: "These comments are shabby."
French prosecutors have already opened a judicial investigation
into comments by Le Pen's number two, Bruno Gollnisch, who questioned
whether the Nazis used gas chambers in the Holocaust.
Le Pen was convicted and ordered to pay a symbolic one franc fine
for his 1987 comments, when he said the gas chambers were a "detail
in the history of the Second World War."
LONDON - Britain's Prince Harry apologized
after a picture of him dressed up as a Nazi soldier was splashed
across the front page of a mass-circulation newspaper.
The pictures in The Sun newspaper triggered outrage, especially
from the Jewish community which pointed out that they appear as
the royal family prepares to lead commemorations of the 60th anniversary
of the Holocaust.
Thursday's edition of The Sun features Harry,
20, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana,
attending a fancy dress party wearing a khaki uniform with an armband
emblazoned with a swastika, emblem of the German WWII Nazi Party.
Harry, third in line to the British throne after his father and
his elder brother William, was pictured wearing the costume as he
held a cigarette and drink during a birthday party for a friend
last Saturday, The Sun said.
"Harry The Nazi," according to the headline of the newspaper
story, which also included an apology from Prince Harry.
Contacted by AFP, a spokeswoman for the royal family read a similar
statement of apology. "I am very sorry if I caused any offense
or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and
I apologize," Prince Harry said.
Jeff Barak, deputy editor of the Jewish Chronicle, told Sky News
his reaction to the photograph was one of "shock and revulsion".
He said that going to a fancy dress party as a Nazi was "something
that one does not do" and is "not a laughing matter"
and that Harry had "made a serious error."
The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed the apology.
"We're gratified that the prince has apologized.
The incident was in bad taste, especially in the runup to the Holocaust
memorial day, which the royal family will play a leading role in
commemorating," it said.
Holocaust memorial day is marked on January 27, the day in 1945
when the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz, the most infamous of the
Nazi World War II concentration camps.
Commentators described the incident as a "public relations
disaster," of a far greater magnitude than previous onces facing
the young prince.
A British newspaper reported only last month that Prince Harry,
who has gained the reputation as Britain's most unruly royal, had
avoided charges after scuffling with a photographer outside a nightclub
Doug Henderson, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North and a former
armed forces minister, said Prince Harry should scrap plans to become
a British Army officer.
"After the revelations this evening I don't think this young
man is suitable for Sandhurst," the elite army officer training
school, Henderson said.
"If it was anyone else the application wouldn't be considered.
It should be withdrawn immediately," he said.
The Queen's former assistant press secretary, Dickie Arbiter, said
"this young man has got to come up front and be seen in person
making an apology" because the incident is so offensive.
Arbiter, interviewed by Sky News, lamented that it appeared that
Prince Charles, despite his own solid reputation, failed to exert
enough discipline over his children, particularly Harry.
"There is a lack of control," he said..
Andy Pike, from Unite Against Fascism, said: "Prince Harry
has had a very expensive education, is supposedly fit to be an officer
serving in his country's armed forces and one would assume he is
not a complete idiot.
"One would be very surprised if he were not
aware of the significance of wearing the swastika and the amount
of offence that would cause."
David Winnick, a Labour Party member of parliament, said: "I
think everyone recognizes there is a growing-up process for youngsters
but I would seriously suggest that he takes the opportunity to watch
the BBC programs on Auschwitz screening this month.
The Sun reported Harry, who is due to train at the military academy,
Sandhurst, later this year, was among 250 guests at the party for
a friend's 22nd birthday party in Wiltshire.
His brother William was also reported to have attended, dressed
in a home-made lion and leopard outfit in a party along the theme
of Natives and Colonials.
The newspaper said Harry's outfit of beige shirt and trousers and
Nazi insignia, which it said resembled Rommel's "hated Afrika
Korps" had been the talk of party guests.
One shocked reveller told the Sun: "What on earth was Harry
thinking of? A senior royal dressing up as a Nazi for a laugh? If
that is his idea of a joke it went down like a lead balloon with
"There are a lot of old soldiers out there who will look at
these photos of Harry dressed like this and be totally outraged."
He added: "The Nazis were responsible for the deaths of millions.
To turn that into a jokey idea for a fancy dress is an absolute
icon Paolo Di Canio has denied through the mouth of his agent Moreno
Roggi that he made the Nazi salute to his fellow fans at the end
of his team’s derby triumph over AS Roma.
“I just went to say hi to my fans. It’s clear, there
were many photographers with devices that take hundreds of pictures
in just one minute. It is normal that these caught me with my hand
in that position for a split second,” read the statement by
Di Canio, that was read out by Roggi to BBC radio.
Di Canio, who has a tattoo with written ‘Duce’
in reference to Benito Mussolini on one of his arms, is being investigated
by the Italian police for the incident.
The picture we attached to this article seems to contradict Di
Canio's claims, but everyone is free to judge for themselves.
WASHINGTON - The nation's 55th
presidential inauguration, the first to be held since 9/11, will
take place this month under perhaps the heaviest security of any
in U.S. history.
Dozens of federal and local law enforcement agencies and military
commands are planning what they describe as the heaviest possible
security. Virtually everyone who gets within eyesight of the president
either during the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol
or the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue later in the day
will first go through a metal detector or receive a body pat-down.
Thousands of police officers and military personnel are being brought
to Washington from around the country for the four-day event. Sharpshooters
will be deployed on roofs, while bomb-sniffing dogs will work the
streets. Electronic sensors will be used to detect chemical or biological
Parade performers will have security escorts
to the bathroom, and they've been ordered not to look directly at
President Bush or make any sudden movements while passing the reviewing
"It's going to be very different from passt inaugurals,"
said Contricia Sellers-Ford, spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police,
which is responsible for the Capitol and grounds. "A lot of
the security differences will not be detected by the public - there
will be a lot of behind the scenes implementation - but the public
will definitely see more of a police presence."
The Department of Homeland Security has designated the inaugural
a National Special Security Event under a protocol introduced by
President Bill Clinton that calls for especially heavy security
during events of national significance at which large numbers of
government officials and dignitaries are present.
Thousands of performers - marching bands, color guards, pompon dancers,
hand bell-ringers, drill teams on horseback and Civil War re-enactors
- will be bused early in the morning to the Pentagon parking lot
across the Potomac in Virginia. While performers disembark and go
through metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs will search the buses.
Then everybody will get back on the buses for a trip to the National
Mall, where they will spend most of the day in heavily guarded warming
tents. Participants have been warned that they will not be allowed
to leave the tents except to go to portable toilets accompanied
by a security escort.
Other instructions given performers include a warning not to look
directly at Bush while passing the presidential reviewing stand,
not to look to either side and not to make any sudden movements.
"They want you to just look straight ahead," said Danielle
Adam, co-director of the Mid American Pompon All Star Team from
Michigan, which also performed in the 2001 inaugural parade. [...]
Throughout my long and nearly distinguished
career as a columnist I ended each year by naming an "Incredible
Man of the Year," chosen by imaginary respondents to the Incredible
Poll, a famously unreliable opinion survey of my invention. It
honored the person who, in that particular year, was judged the
most unbelievable. It was always a brisk competition.
This year I'm retiring the award. George W. Bush has so far
and away outdistanced his rivals that the competition has become
Consider the evidence:
When he came into office the federal government was running
a healthy budget surplus that, over the previous few years, had
helped fuel one of the greatest economic booms in our history.
Within months, he had squandered that surplus.
He went to war in Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden, the
architect of the 9/11 attacks, and to punish the Taliban regime
there for sheltering the terrorist. He succeeded in knocking over
the Taliban but he didn't get bin Laden.
He then took us to war against Saddam Hussein. There were three
main reasons given for the attack.
1. Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and was a security
threat to the region and to us.
2. Saddam had been a force behind bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks.
3. He was, in any case, a tyrant hated by his people and the
Iraqis would welcome us as liberators.
None of that happened; none of it was true. There is still no
evidence that Saddam had such weapons or more than a casual relationship
with bin Laden.
• Bush has withdrawn from or rejected most of the international
agreements favored by our traditional allies in the Western world
and has treated the United Nations with extravagant contempt,
actions that have squandered the considerable international good
will that fell to the United States after the 9/11 attacks.
• He has ignored reputable scientific opinion on such subjects
as global warming, stem cell research and the pollution of our
water supply, disdaining it as "junk science." Instead, in virtually
every case, he has opted to serve corporate rather than public
• He has provided money for dubious projects like the missile
defense system and promoted an improbable manned mission to Mars,
while failing to fund a truly valuable project of proven worth,
the Hubble telescope.
• He turned a blind eye to our torture of military prisoners,
a practice so at odds with the ideals of this nation that one
is left speechless in the contemplation of it. As a result we
have forfeited any rightful claim to moral advantage in the world.
In short, he has been an absolutely dreadful president, easily
the worst since Harding and perhaps since Buchanan. Yet — and
this is the incredible part --he won re-election. As many as half
of the people in the country voted for him, the majority because
he made them feel safer.
That, I submit, is truly incredible — stunningly, mind-bendingly,
stupendously incredible. I doubt anyone else could have done it.
He belongs in the Con-Man Hall of Fame, next to P.T. Barnum, Charles
Ponzi and Prof. Harold Hill.
And so I give you the Once and Future Incredible Man of the
Year — George Walker Bush. Look upon him, my friends, we shall
not see his like again. Or so we can hope, at any rate.
Pray for the Republic.
The Bush White House thinks they’re being
clever by naming a prosecutor instead of a criminal to head the
Department of Homeland Security: Mike Chertoff, whose appointment
as DHS czar in the wake of the failed nomination of scandal-plagued
Bernie Kerik (now under investigation by multiple law-enforcement
agencies) was announced as the Weekly went to press. But Chertoff
is as political an appointment as one can imagine--especially
for those who know the arcana of politics in New Jersey, where
Chertoff was U.S. Attorney, and where his naming to the DHS job
caused jaws to drop.
Chertoff was a political attack dog in that job, indicting and
convicting a raft of Democratic officeholders. But one who Chertoff
deliberately let get away was his big buddy, Bob “The Torch” Torricelli,
forced to resign his U.S. Senate seat from Sopranoland in a major
corruption scandal. Nick Acocella, editor of the respected insider
newsletter New Jersey Politifax, recalls that, at the height of
the Torricelli scandal, and while Chertoff was U.S. Attorney,
he saw The Torch and Chertoff together at a South Jersey Jewish
banquet where they embraced and huddled intimately “like twins
separated at birth.” One would have thought a federal prosecutor
would have kept his distance from a target of criminal investigations
that were making daily headlines in the Jersey press.
When Chertoff was named by Bush to head the Justice Department’s
Criminal Division--partly because he was a skilled political hitman,
who’d also raised a ton of money as financial vice-chair of Bush’s
Garden State campaign in 2000-- it’s an open secret in Jersey
that he squelched an indictment of Torricelli as a reward for
The Torch’s support of key Bush legislation the Democratic Party
leadership opposed, including tax cuts for corporations and the
very rich. (Many of the fat-cats Chertoff shook down for Bush
had also been huge givers to The Torch.)
Long active in the Federalist Society--a conspiratorial
brotherhood of legal reactionaries--Chertoff, at Justice, helped
to write the civil liberties-shredding Patriot Act. He was John
Ashcroft’s honcho in the indiscriminate grilling of over 5000
Arab-Americans after 9/11, cooked up the use of “material witness”
warrants to lock up people of Middle Eastern descent and hold
them indefinitely without trial, and on behalf of the Justice
Department wrote a brief (in Chavez v. Martinez) arguing there
was no Constitutional right to be free of coercive police questioning.
Moreover, Chertoff wrote legislation, known as the Feeney Amendment,
which gutted federal sentencing guidelines -- under which federal
judges were allowed to use some discretion when sentencing criminal
defendants -- by preventing judges from shortening sentences--and,
worse, required judges who deviated from the Feeney Amendment
to have their names and actions reported to the Justice Department,
thus establishing what Sen. Teddy Kennedy denounced as a judicial
Why would Chertoff give up a lifetime seat on the federal bench
to take a job in the hornet’s nest of problems that is the DHS?
According to a top Jersey Democratic pol who knows Chertoff well,
Chertoff--described as being “as cold-blooded
as they come“-- has a personal agenda that includes becoming
U.S. Attorney General and, eventually, grabbing a seat on the
U.S. Supreme Court. But there’s a problem for Chertoff with conservative
Republicans--he happens to be pro-choice. So, taking the DHS job
is Chertoff’s way to “make his bones,” as they say in Jersey,
and grab headlines as a hard-line persecutor of “the towel-heads”
to please the right and neutralize his abortion stance.
However, Chertoff has zero experience in running anything remotely
resembling DHS, a mammoth with 180,000 employees and 22 federal
agencies under its umbrella. He was picked
for two reasons: his political loyalty to Bush (he won’t go off
the reservation on his own as Tom Ridge did) and the fact that
he’s already been confirmed by the Senate thrice, so he has no
hidden Kerik-like problems and will sail through with little or
no opposition from the spineless Democrats (he’s already
been endorsed by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Joe Lieberman for the
DHS job). But choosing someone on the basis of confirmability
rather than qualifications is dangerous--as is the choice of a
hyper-ambitious Torquemada for a job with enormous power over
our already-reduced rights and liberties, which will no doubt
be further eroded under Chertoff.
I continue to receive ever increasing
numbers of email from readers who request a clarification of my
views about our current economic condition, how it got this way,
and what, if anything, we can do about it.
I often feel faced with a dilemma akin to telling someone it's
raining, and have them not only refuse to believe me, but to also
refuse to walk outside.
My views are simply an amalgamation of insights provided by the
wisdom of the Constitutional pundits, economic sages, financial
gurus, and free market thinkers that I have come to read every day.
The Libertarian / Contrarian editorial slant I provide is as much
a result of their thoughts and experiences as my own personal feelings.
I depend on their insights to temper my own.
We have, in general, become oblivious to the realities of human
nature and corruption. We have been placated to the point of disinterest.
After all, why should we be concerned with the direction that we
are being led? It seems to have worked up until now. This, I think,
is the gist of the problem. It's an illusion. Smoke and mirrors.
We are all being set up for a fall.
The tragedy of it is that it will be our children and their children
who will be hit the hardest. Whose responsibility is it to insure
some kind of decent future, Alan Greenspan's? Pu-leeze!
I will remain ever vigilant in my quest to achieve some sense of
clarity, and to communicate whatever clarity I can through the Silver
Bear Cafe and other gracious forums that are kind enough to post
my essays. Whatever clarity I have here-to-fore attained is, to
say the least, disconcerting. So, in order that I may vent my concerns
and spread some of my frustration around, I will attempt to dissect
one major travesty.
Practically all of the problems in our country can be attributed
to the continuing subjugation of the U.S. Constitution. Had
the remedies for such actions, which are provided in the text of
the Constitution, been applied, many of our former, (as well as
current), leaders would have been prosecuted and removed from public
office. One of the main reasons that the American people
have allowed the wholesale dismantling of their freedoms and liberties
stems from the effectiveness of the all pervasive misinformation
campaign that has been waged for over 100 years. Most
of us believe that we live in the land of the free. A place where
every child has the opportunity to grow up and be President of the
United States. This belief is, in the best-case scenario, a stretch.
In the worst case, a bald faced lie. Our political leaders
are increasingly sourced from a pool of self-perpetuating elitists
whose main concern is to distance themselves from the masses. When
Constitutional law stands in their way, they ignore it. We are not
being shepherded by altruistic wise men, but, rather, herded by
If you asked Joe Six Pack if our society continues to be based
on freedom and liberty, he would probably recollect his 9th grade
American History teacher and respond "Yes, of course."
If you were to ask him if our society was now based on a Stalinesque
model of central planning, a totalitarian system in which the Government
claimed all power, and there were no freedoms that the government
did not allow, he would probably say, "No way."
Joe hasn't got a clue. Hey, believe me. I've been trying
to get across to Mr. Six Pack for years. He has been issued blinders
by the state. He hasn't got a clue.
It appears to me that the markets are rigged.
All games that can be rigged will be rigged, sooner or later. The
Fed, working in league with the U.S. Government, rigs the U.S. markets.
But don't think for a second that the Fed has some kind of monopoly
on a situation where rapacity pervades honest reason. All markets
are rigged. Central bankers, the world over,
are primarily involved in fleecing the people. The fact that
the Fed is the most powerful of the Central Bankers, and that they
are primarily responsible for perfecting the insidious contrivance
called inflation, has not kept the rest of Central Bankers of the
world from entering into a game of "catch up". As
far as they are concerned, there is only one motive, and that motive
is economic world domination. Which Central Bankers will
dominate will depend on which ones end up with the most. That's
just the nature of absolute corruption. That is the reason that
whole world is currently strapped with a fiat system. The
ability to create money, out of thin air, provides for absolute
economic power. Absolute power equals absolute corruption.
It's as simple as that. By rigging the markets, through various
forms of intervention, the central bankers have set up a scheme
whereby the wealth of the world could be siphoned off at will.
The reason that this fiat system has become so all pervasive in
the world is the lure of an uncapped, unending source of credit
that is availed to all governments who are willing to play the Central
One instance is the game that we are playing
with Iraq. Why are we not buying our oil from Canada for $45 per
barrel, but instead, stealing it from the Iraqis at a cost of around
$1,100 a barrel? Information gained from the Energy Information
Administration, (http://eia.doe.gov/) provides this data. When the
number of barrels of Iraqi oil that we have imported is divided
into the $300 billion we have spent on the war so far, the number
comes to about $1,100 per barrel. From an accountant's standpoint,
this doesn't seem like a very good deal.
According to British Petroleum's Statistical Review of World Energy
2002, Middle Eastern oil accounts for one quarter of America's imports.
Iraqi crude for less than one tenth. A back of the envelope calculation
reveals that Iraq quenches less than 6 percent of America's Black
Gold cravings. Compared to Canada (15 percent of American oil imports),
or Mexico (12 percent) - Iraq is a negligible
supplier. Furthermore, the current oil production of the
USA is merely 23 percent of its 1985 peak - about 2.4 million barrels
per day, a 50-years nadir.
During the first eleven months of 2002, the United States imported
an average of 449,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) from Iraq. In January
2003, with Venezuela in disarray, approximately 1.2 million bbl/d
of Iraqi oil went to the Americas (up from 910,000 bbl/d in December
2002 and 515,000 bbl/d in November).
It would seem that $200 billion - the costs of war and post bellum
reconstruction - would be better spent on America's domestic oil
industry. Securing the flow of Iraqi crude is simply too insignificant
to warrant such an exertion.
Admittedly, there are those that would suggest far loftier goals
in Iraq than simple petroleum exploitation. Personally, I have yet
to be shown.
Who's getting the $1100 per barrel?
Certainly not the Iraqis. The money is going
to Haliburton, Ratheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin,
(among many others). Where is the $1100 a barrel coming from? Why
it’s coming from continuing loans to the Government by the
Federal Reserve. Where does the Federal Reserve get all this money?
Why, they invent it, (the term counterfeiting comes to mind.) Who's
responsible for paying back the billions and billions of funny money
that the Government is spending, and the interest accrued on that
funny money? Good question. If your answer is "the American
People", you are not entirely correct.
There are two groups in the U.S. that don't pay taxes. Those
two groups consist of the very poor, and the ultra rich.
As a result, the middle class has been bestowed with the sole economic
responsibility of repaying the obscene abomination known as the
national debt. It's not enough for the middle class to support those
who are unable to work as well as those who choose not to, but to
also provide the major source of wealth that is being siphoned off
by the Central Bankers and distributed to the elitists.
I believe their motives have always stemmed from a desire to redistribute
the wealth of the middle class to the ultra rich. This is
a basic ploy right out of the collectivist's handbook.
In this way they are, in the words of Omar Khayyam, attempting to
"tear it down, and rebuild it in their own image."
They are preparing for the intended eminent
worldwide financial Armageddon.
In order to continue to supply the Government with more and more
funny money, the Fed has to keep creating it. Obviously, the more
they create, the more it is diluted and the less valuable it becomes.
They have positioned the U.S. dollar on a huge playground slide,
placed a piece of waxed paper under it, and let it go. Its accelerating
decent has become big news. Even the sycophantic rah-rah rooters
on CNBC are talking about it. The dollar is visiting lows not seen
in almost twenty-five years.
"Bubbles" Greenspan would have us believe that this is
an engineered devaluation designed to reduce our trade deficit.
Hooey. The Fed has lost control of the dollar. Their mindless creation
of credit has insured a mind-boggling meltdown of the entire financial
system. This is not a good thing for anyone, anywhere. The dollar
is the world's reserve currency. Seventy-five
percent of all dollars in existence are in foreign hands.
Whatever their value was when those foreigners got them, that value
is evaporating right before their eyes. It's like buying ice by
the pound and watching it melt away before you have time to use
it. "Joe Six Pack" doesn't seem to mind. He can still
buy a beer for $2.50 at the pub. Five years ago they were $1.25.
By the end of next year they will be $5.00.
But it’s not just the irresponsible creation of debt that
has brought us to the economic gates of hell, but also the Fed’s
botched attempt to control the markets through manipulation and
intervention. Their attempts to "play God", in an otherwise
free market, have exacerbated, skewed, and distorted market realities
to such an extent that its function has become one of dysfunction.
The turn of the century brought with it a paradigm shift in economic
policy in America. With the flight of the domestic manufacturing
sector, America’s balance of trade rapidly became extremely
unbalanced. In an attempt to keep the economy
afloat, the Fed targeted the American Consumer as a replacement
for the American Producer as the chief contributor to the U.S. economy.
To insure the American Consumer would be, at least temporarily,
capable of such a task, "Bubbles" lowered short-term interest
rates to their lowest level since 1958. This action, combined
with the introduction of a plethora of reckless mortgage products,
(ARMS, interest only loans, etc.), provided for an unprecedented
number of new home purchases. Over thirty
percent of those purchases were made by lower income individuals
who had previously been unable to qualify for mortgage loans. The
result was a boom in residential construction, and all related industry.
The domestic housing market had effectively filled the void that
resulted from the flight of the manufacturing sector and, in doing
so, became a primary contributor to the American economy. That,
coupled with a wave of refinancing, spurred on by the lure of cheap
credit, allowed homeowners to bury themselves in debt. The
application of this new found cash provided borrowers the means
to buy new SUVs and invest in stocks, which effectively held up
the automotive industry, as well as helping to keep the markets
Fast forward to the present. Real unemployment
is running around 12%. Wages have been stagnant for the past
four years. Almost everyone who wanted to refinance has already
done so. Their refi money has already been spent. The automotive
industry, and the housing industry are both beginning to feel the
pinch. Rising energy costs, which are a result of a growing scarcity,
as well as inflation, are exacerbating the situation. The DOW, which
has remained basically flat over the last three years when valued
in U.S. dollars, is substantially down when valued against the Euro,
the Rand, the Yen and several other major currencies. The continuing
devaluation of the dollar has provided the DOW with the appearance
of strength, at least to the American public. More smoke and mirrors.
In order to continue to lure foreign investment, the illusion that
the economy is healthy and robust is of paramount importance. This
presents a big problem considering our economy is in the throes
of a terminal illness. The Fed is desperate
to come up with a new source of support.
Enter, Social Security Reform. Now
politicians are suggesting that federal withholding revenues be
redirected into the stock market. Wow! What an idea. That should
keep the markets inflated for a little while longer. It could certainly
give the Fed a new source of wealth to siphon off. But wait. One
of the biggest myths about Social Security is that there is any
money in the Social Security trust fund. The fund has been systematically
tapped and squandered by every administration since its inception.
It was an unconstitutional sleight of hand to begin with. It is,
and has always been a Ponzi scheme, which depends on new workers
to pay the old workers. Maybe that is why the present administration
is doing everything in its power to tear down the borders and accommodate
as many illegal aliens as possible. Maybe that's why they're attempting
to raise the age of retirement. The privatization of Social Security
is simply one more scheme to siphon off the wealth of the middle
class through commissions and fees, and keep the stock and bond
markets inflated for a little while longer. Do you see a pattern
What’s next? What new source of wealth will be found to target?
What if there isn't another source. How about those foreigners?
How can the Fed keep them buying treasury paper, which allows the
Government to keep on borrowing? When approached from this perspective,
we realize that keeping the bond market inflated is the primary
aim of the Central Bankers, (the Fed). To what lengths will they
go to keep the bond market inflated? What new legislation will they
dream up for their puppet politicians to pass? If it never occurred
to you that the Federal Reserve, (a private corporation), owns the
U.S. Government, please read the following statement made by Fed
Governor Ben Bernanke.
"By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation,
or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can
also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services,
which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods
and services. We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined
government can always generate higher spending and hence positive
What in blazes is positive inflation? And
why would anyone, representing the people, want the price of goods
and services to rise? Who, but a banker
could benefit from inflation. Inflation equals rising prices.
Rising prices equal more loans. More loans equal more interest.
The natural evolution of man would have provided for a continuing
improvement in the standard of life for all persons, if it wasn't
for the heinous contrivance called inflation. Technology has provided
new and improved ways to produce and deliver almost everything.
Without inflation almost everything would be cheaper, or at least
remain the same price. Let me restate that
last part. If it wasn't for the Federal Reserve, everything would
become cheaper, instead of more expensive. Most
people believe that inflation is a natural economic occurrence.
This is simply untrue.
Constitutional mandates insist that American currency be backed
by precious metals. Adhering to those mandates would insure inflation
and deflation would only occur if the quantity of precious metals
was significantly altered, thereby skewing the supply/demand equation.
Because of the energies necessary to locate, mine, refine, smelt
and coin precious metals, the value will always be relatively maintained.
Because of the fact that practically no energy is necessary to produce
"funny money", there is no value to begin with. Producing
more of it makes it worth less than nothing, as it becomes a liability
and the biggest threat in the world to liberty, freedom, peace and
justice. Any devaluation of American currency
is a direct result of the money that the Federal Reserve is stealing
out of your pocket.
Consequently, there are other ways, besides inflation, that the
Fed can cloak reality and present the appearance of a robust economy.
One of these ways involves direct intervention in all three major
indexes. The Fed has created a fund called the repo pool, which
can exceed $30 billion. When the Federal Reserve temporarily supplies
these funds to the market by buying securities from dealers with
a commitment to resell, the transaction is called a repo, (repurchase
agreement). The Fed uses this cash to purchase securities from primary
government bond dealers. This action circumvents natural free market
pressures and pumps unnatural liquidity to the banking system. Member
firms, at the direction of the Fed, use this liquidity to make major
purchases in the futures markets or to purchase select market weighted
stocks. Through the continual manipulation of a basket of major
stock issues, they can effectively hold the markets up with their
"funny money". All activity of this nature is covertly
inflationary, and obviously unconstitutional. Because the shareholders
of the Fed, complicit banks, and dealers also profit from these
deals, anti-trust statutes are broken on an hourly basis. Wall Street
has devolved to nothing more than a den of thieves.
Yet another way that the Fed utilizes "smoke and mirrors"
to maintain the appearance of a healthy economy, rather than allowing
the specter of "black death", which hangs heavily over
the real situation, to become apparent, is through the use of clandestine
offshore accounts. Through these accounts, agents of the Fed buy
up the treasury bonds that are not bought by hedge funds, elitist
transnational corporations, or foreign central banks. During
a routine sale of U.S. Treasury bonds in early September 2004, an
unprecedented event took place. Foreigners, who, up to that point,
had been regularly buying nearly half of all debt issued by the
U.S. government, didn't buy any. This could be the Fed's biggest
The aforementioned usual suspects, (the hedge funds, elitist transnational
corporations, or foreign central banks), could be buying US Treasury
notes and bills via the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the
Netherlands Antilles and Panama, but I find that highly unlikely.
These bankers and fund managers aren’t stupid. Why buy into
an asset whose value is destined to decline. Robert McTeer, head
of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, stated in October of 2004;
"Over time there is only one direction for the dollar to
go – lower.”
Our Government finances itself through the collection
of taxes, (which basically go to pay the interest on the national
debt), and the sale of treasury instruments, (i.e., bonds, bills,
notes), which are effectively IOUs from "We the People".
In its first term the Bush administration increased the Federal
debt by $2.2 trillion. Congress raised the Treasury debt ceiling
three times, by $450 billion in 2002, by $984 billion in 2003, and
by another $800 billion on November 19, 2004, to $8 trillion 184
billion. The ready willingness, of the members of the House and
Senate, to finance such deficits is a clear indication of the political
and ideological makeup of most members of Congress.
More disturbing is the fact that the voting
public continues to re-elect these people in the glaring face of
fiscal insanity. The wars are obviously
a ruse to convert the national debt into vast wealth for the elitists,
(see $1,100 dollar a barrel Iraqi oil above). Please understand
that there is no way that fiscal responsibility, a by-product of
a gold backed currency, could ever provide for the reckless levels
of debt that the American people, and their descendents, are currently
being shackled to.
All the people in the world that hold Federal Reserve Notes are
being fleeced. That's usually an occurrence reserved for sheep.
How apropos. But, so long as crazy foreigners continue to loan us
more of their "funny money" to fight these wars, the game
can go on. When foreigners finally wise up to the insane nature
of our economic policies and cease buying our IOUs, where will the
money come from?
According to the research of Robert Chapman, Caribbean Treasury
investments soared 54% to $85.2 billion during the first ten months
of 2004, seven times the 8.3% increase of all of 2003. The region
is now the fourth-largest holder of US government debt, behind Japan,
China and the UK. This is not coincidence. It is very significant
and it has to be the Fed keeping the dollar afloat.
The previous paragraph might suggest that the Fed has stepped in
and is secretly buying government debt. The reason that they are
doing it secretly is because when the Fed directly buys government
debt, and then uses that debt to create more money, it is immediately
inflationary. No trickle down here. It is nothing less than hyperinflationary.
Obviously, if the people ever began to realize that, through this
action, they were getting royally screwed, they might quit electing
these bozos and start to clean up the mess. Hyperinflation will
make Government bonds far less attractive. Remember, the bond market
is the cash cow that the central bankers depend on to continue to
milk the economy. Therefore, the Fed will do everything in its power
to insure that the bond market will be the last to deflate.
In order to keep the bond market inflated,
the Fed will have to substantially raise rates. They will
not do this, however, IMO, until the people finally wake up and
start to make some noise. The sheeple are not known for public outcries,
so the throes of hyperinflation will already be choking the economy
long before the Fed makes any meaningful increase, (read in: double
digits). The dollar is in free fall. When it breaks below the USDX
.80 there is nothing in the world that can stop it, except for a
massive interest rate increase. When they finally do make a meaningful
rate increase, the markets will begin overtly crashing, (as I mentioned
above, they have been covertly crashing for years), and the
panicked investors will stampede to the bond market for security,
like lemmings heading for the cliff. The bond market will find new
life, and gold and silver will enter
"phase three" and explode in price.
Right before the stock market melts down,
the real estate bubble will go kabloowie, Fannie and Freddy will
go up in a puff of smoke, and the domestic banking system will come
to a screeching halt. The Fed will mindlessly continue to
keep the presses running for as long as they can, (after all, that's
all they know how to do). The erosion of the buying power of dollars
will accelerate exponentially. From an American economic standpoint,
we will have arrived at "end game".
Everyone, (except Joe), is beginning to
get very nervous. Since we are absolutely dependent on the kindness
of foreigners in terms of sustaining our current standard of life,
their nervousness is, to say the least, very disconcerting.
If they don’t continue to hold our dollars, our economy is
toast. Unfortunately, people all over the world are beginning to
dump their dollars, and for good reason. What would you do, given
the same set of circumstances? There are reports that in some places,
U.S. dollars are no longer accepted. Where will these dollars end
up? Why, right here, where they started. And when they get here,
and there’s a glut of them, what will happen? The good new
is that there will be so many of them that they will be a lot easier
to get. The bad news is that no one will
want them because they won't be worth anything. Let me put
a time frame on these events and attempt to put them in perspective.
I believe it will become apparent to anyone paying attention within
the next six months and finally come to a head within 3-5 years.
Get ready for a $10.00 cup of coffee, a $200.00
dinner, water bills that look like your electric bill, and electric
bills that look like your mortgage payment. The value of
coffee is not going up. The value of food is not going up. The value
of water and electricity is not going up. The value of the dollar
is going down. A ten-cent candy bar can still be had for a dime,
providing that it's a silver dime. If you are using Federal Reserve
Notes, a ten-cent candy bar now costs $1.00, and it will soon cost
I believe that the powers that be have employed
their ability to invent money by using its corrupting influence
to cataclysmically screw things up. They have, with the help
of their bought and paid for acompli, screwed it up so bad that
it won't be easily fixed. I have always believed their plan was
to casually strip up of all our liberties before they pissed us
off. They have been doing a pretty good job
of stripping us of or freedoms and liberties for years, and no one
seems to have minded very much. After all, they successfully debased
our currency and pocketed the difference, entwined us in a mire
of disputes all over the globe and managed to get the whole world
pissed off at us, strapped us with untenable debt that will eventually
enslave our offspring, dismantled the Bill of Rights through Patriot
Acts One, Two, and soon to be Three, are currently scheming to rob
us of our retirement by hijacking social security, and still
we re-elect them. Apparently, they haven’t pissed us off enough
for anyone to do anything about it.
Given the pandemic apathy, that addles the collective mindset of
our nation, there is not much hope for a political solution. By
the time the sheeple wake up and attempt to politically change things,
it will be far to late. We are witnessing the decent of the
Phoenix, and the plane is going down in flames. I also believe that
the Phoenix will rise from the flames and soar to new heights. Unfortunately
I do not believe it will be anytime soon, and when it does, it will
be under far different circumstances.
What can you do? Open your eyes. [...]
Protect yourself. Get ready now. Sell everything you don't need.
Accumulate gold and silver, (most especially silver). Invest in
gold and silver mining issues. The day is soon coming when the people
demand that precious metals regain their place in a Constitutionally
sound economic system. Prepare to defend your Constitution, yourself
and those you love. Follow the course opposite to custom and you
will almost always do well...
Eliminate as much debt as possible, especially “variable
rate” debt, such as credit cards and lines of credit. Interest
rates will be rising, so the elimination of debt offers a “real
return” of escaping rising rates by creditors.
If you are depending on Social Security, stop.
Its not what you don't know that will screw
you up, it's what you know that is wrong. The
spin you hear from the mainstream media is intended to mislead you.
Open your eyes and face the future. If you leave your head in the
sand and ignore it, you are only leaving your butt exposed for the
world to kick. This all may sound like gloom and doom, but when
you get a handle on what is going to happen, you will have a future
filled with opportunity. Fortune favors the
WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit widened
unexpectedly in November to a record $60.3 billion, propelled by
the highest-ever oil import bill and a drop in exports, a government
report showed on Wednesday.
The surprisingly large increase sent the dollar tumbling in morning
trading against both the euro and the yen.
It also suggested U.S. economic growth in the
fourth quarter of 2004 was slower than expected, as steadily rising
imports of goods and services cut into domestic output.
The widening of the deficit -- which topped $60 billion for the
first time -- defied Wall Street forecasts for it to narrow to $54
billion. October's deficit was revised up
to a $56.0 billion gap from the originally reported $55.5 billion.
"It's a disappointment. We were anticipating that the decline
in oil prices from their peak in October might help narrow the trade
deficit, but the average price of crude oil remained high over that
period and imports remained strong," said Gary Thayer, chief
economist with A.G. Edwards & Sons.
The deficit has continued to balloon despite a
50 percent drop in the value of the dollar against the euro over
the past three years, which has been expected to narrow the gap.
"A big issue here is the fact that the
American economy ... (is) growing faster than our trading partners,"
U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow told Bloomberg Television. "Whenever
you grow faster than your trading partners, you create more disposable
income and part of that ... is being used to buy goods and services"
A major focus of an upcoming meeting of Group of
Seven finance ministers will be getting major economies in Asia
and Europe to "remove obstacles to growth," Snow said.
OIL PRICE RETREAT NOT ENOUGH
U.S. exports slipped 2.3 percent in November to $95.6 billion,
as shipments of U.S. industrial supplies and materials -- including
things such as plastic and chemicals -- fell in the face of weaker
U.S. exports of autos and auto parts, civilian aircraft and telecom
equipment were also down from October.
The trade shortfall for the first 11 months of
2004 was $561.3 billion, well past the record of $496.5 billion
set for all of 2003.
Although average oil import prices in November retreated slightly
from October's record level, they remained high enough to push the
crude oil imports to a record $13.4 billion.
Meanwhile, imports from China fell only fractionally to $19.6 billion
from the record $19.7 billion set in October. The trade imbalance
with China accounts for about 25 percent of the overall U.S. trade
Rising U.S. consumer demand for household goods and other products
helped boost overall imports by 1.3 percent to a record $155.8 billion.
Strong demand for advanced technology products widened the deficit
in that category to a record $5.8 billion.
The bilateral gap with Japan was the highest since
October 2000 and deficits with Canada, Russia and South Korea set
records in November.
In a separate report, an industry group said applications for U.S.
home mortgages dropped last week as a decrease in purchasing activity
offset an increase in refinancing. [...]
The remarkable generosity of Americans in
offering help to the victims of the recent Tsunami is truly heartwarming.
All across our country, individuals, corporations and countless
organizations, religious groups and charities have not only opened
their hearts, but their wallets as well, this on top of the $350
million pledged by our government. Drug giant Pfizer promptly offered
$10 million in cash and $35 million in drugs, although it is unclear
if this was the retail price of the drugs or the discounted price
paid by insurance companies. Regardless, it is a clear indication
of the health of our pharmaceutical companies.
Individuals have also been extraordinarily generous. Perhaps most
stunning was the $1 million given by actress Sandra Bullock. While
not meaning to disparage Ms. Bullock's incredible example in any
way, it is truly amazing that one individual can pony up 1/350th
of what her government is giving and 20 times the amount being offered
by tiny East Timor.
But before we pat ourselves on the back as Colin Powell did when
he suggested that our largesse might well bolster our battered image
in the Muslim world, we would be well advised to view our giving
in the larger context of our overall spending habits. For instance,
we will spend upwards of $45 million for President Bush's Inaugural
festivities. And this last Christmas, Wall Streeters received $15.9
billion in bonuses (albeit this was somewhat overshadowed by the
$102 million in fines levied against them).
At the same time we were so generously helping Tsunami victims,
we are being less generous in other ways, cutting $300 million in
Pell education grants and $100 million in international food aid
(despite a rising number of hungry people in the world). However,
we are still being most generous in our military funding. The budget
for the U.S. military in 2004 was $450 billion and we have spent
$200 billion on the war in Iraq (with Congress anticipating a request
for another $100 billion in the near future).
And of course there is also the $18 billion Iraqi reconstruction
funds (most of which has yet to be spent) and the $877 million being
spent on more Anthrax vaccine, this at a time when we can't even
competently provide flu vaccines to protect against a known annual
cause of death for tens of thousands of people. Completing our spending
profile, it's important to mention our national debt of $7.5 trillion
and our $422 billion dollar budget deficit.
The reality is that as a nation, we are in fact quite stingy. While
the U.S. gives the most foreign aid in terms of dollars, we rank
the lowest compared to other developed nations in giving as a percentage
of income. Currently the U.S. gives .15% of GNP (compared
with highest ranked Norway which gives .92% of their GNP).
But adding up the dollars only tells part of the story. Unfortunately,
we also need to count the bodies. Unquestionably, 2004 was a very
deadly year. Current estimates are that 150,000 people have died
in the Tsunami with hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation
and disease. As many as 100,000 Iraqis have died as a result of
the $200 billion that we spent invading that country and many more
as a result of conflicts all over the globe. Ten million children
have starved to death and there were more than 500,000 maternal
deaths (95% of which were preventable). And finally, several million
people throughout the world have died of AIDs and several million
more from malaria.
It is a reflection of our values that these deaths are primarily
footnotes and sidebars in the daily media barrage, not meriting
the attention that has been lavished on the victims of the Tsunami.
In the case of disease, they are deaths that happen one by one throughout
the year, not in the blink of a dramatic soundbite. And
in the case of war, civilian deaths are routinely discounted as
collateral damage, not worthy of our attention.
But the problem is that when it comes time to balance
the books, the bottom line is that we are willing to spend much
more to kill people than to save people, and that our giving is
minuscule compared to our hedonistic quest for power. In other words,
far from being the generous nation that we portray ourselves to
be, we Americans are morally bankrupt.
Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist.
She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org
which publishes Atrocities, a bulletin documenting violence against
women throughout the world.
Verizon Communications customers expecting
e-mail from across the pond may be in for a long wait. The internet
service provider has been blocking e- mail originating from Great
Britain and other parts of Europe for weeks, and customers are upset
about having their communications disrupted without notice.
Verizon began blocking ranges of IP addresses
belonging to British and European ISPs on Dec. 22, according to
the company. The blacklisting of e-
mail from abroad was in response to spam coming from the region,
according to a customer service representative at Verizon who identified
himself only as "Gary." He said company policy
prevents him from giving out his last name.
Since Dec. 28, dozens of Verizon customers
have been posting their frustrations on Verizon.adsl and verizon.email.discussion-general
newsgroups about being unable to receive e-mail from Britain, Germany,
France and Russia. Verizon customers describe the frustrations
of not knowing how many e-mails have been blocked and receiving
contradictory information from Verizon's customer service, and anger
at switching to free e-mail accounts until the problem is resolved.
"What essentially this policy has done is to make it clear
to me that unless they change their policy, Verizon's e-mails are
not reliable enough even for non-critical home usage," said
Verizon user Robert Jacobson of Brooklyn, New York, in an e-mail
to Wired News.
Ashley Friedlein, CEO of consulting firm E-consultancy.com in London,
said several of his e-mails to Verizon customers bounced back but
he assumed that the recipient's inboxes were full.
Friedlein sees irony in an American ISP
blocking e-mail from Europe. "I feel a bit affronted
because most of the spam we get is from the U.S.," Friedlein
said. He said that some of his bounced messages were replies to
e-mails, "which is about as un-spammy as you can get."
Mike Teixeira, a blacklist investigator for Mail Abuse Prevention
Systems, or MAPS, which provides ISPs with lists of known spammers,
said his company is always updating its blocking list, adding and
removing IP addresses that indicate the country of origin.
Wired News checked several e-mail accounts
from Britain and Germany that were being blocked by Verizon, and
none of them were on MAPS' list of known spammers. Teixeira
said it was unusual to block e-mail coming from a geographic region.
"We would never block a whole country and say, 'England is
The United States is in a league of its own
when it comes to sending junk mail to e-mail users.
Researchers at security software company Sophos found that 42 percent
of all spam sent this year came from the United States, based on
a scan by its researchers of a global network of honey pots--computers
designed to attract spam e-mails and viruses.
Source of spam
Share of spam (percent)
Sophos said this is evidence that America's antispam legislation
simply isn't working.
"When we released the first report back in
February, the U.S. had the excuse that the Can-Spam Act had been
in existence for only three months," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos, on Friday.
"Almost a year and millions of spam
messages later, it is quite evident that that the Can-Spam legislation
has made very little headway in damming the flood of spam,"
he said. [...]
LONDON - A flight from London to New York
was forced to turn back Wednesday after U.S. authorities voiced
concerns that a passenger was a terrorist threat.
"The flight returned to Heathrow after we received a request
from the U.S. authorities saying that a passenger aboard the aircraft
was not to be allowed to land in New York," a spokesperson for
British Airways said.
A spokesperson from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration
said the passenger, who was travelling
on a French passport, "was a positive match with an anti-terrorism
"Homeland security made the match by checking data transmitted
after the flight departed from London," she said.
The 239-passenger plane was three hours into the flight when
it was forced to return.
The male passenger was met by police at London's Heathrow Airport.
He was questioned by authorities and released
A man is in a critical condition undergoing
surgery after dousing himself with petrol and setting himself
alight at the Adelaide Magistrates Court today.
The man has extensive burns from the incident, which occurred
shortly after midday (CDT).
It is understood he was carrying a note when he entered the
A Royal Adelaide Hospital spokesman says the man's condition is
life threatening, while police say the man has burns to most of
It's not known if the man was due to appear in court at the
time of the incident.
Khopoli/Mumbai: “I saw a huge ball of fire
in the air. It raced down to the earth so fast that before I could
do anything, my house shook and all my utensils came crashing
down,” said Gangaram Waghmare, caretaker of a farmhouse in Apata
village near Khopoli, nearly 100 kms from Mumbai.
Like 6,000 other villagers, Waghmare is in a state of shock
after the mysterious fireball explosions that shook Horale, Wavoshi,
Chriner, Apta, Kharapada and other villages in the vicinity of
Khopoli, Uran and Panvel at around 8.30 pm yesterday.
An almost twister-like effect was also detected in the jungle
areas of Bazruddin, Wavochi and Karoshi, which saw trees swaying.
A series of explosions was heard simultaneously in these villages,
and locals ran out of their houses fearing they would come crashing
Most villagers remained out side their homes all through last
night. “The noise was so loud, for a moment I thought I had turned
deaf. It was almost like a huge bomb blast,” said R Chaitanya,
a resident of Pen. Chaitanya in fact left his home and rushed
to his friend’s home in Panvel to stay there for a while.
What the “ball of fire” and “explosion” was, and what caused
it, was however unclear till late last night.
While Air Traffic Control officials ruled out an aircraft crash,
the Mumbai Meteorological Department ruled out any asteroid or
meteorite fall, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
officials in Mumbai dismissed the possibility of any part of a
Police and government officials too could not figure out what
the “fireball” was. Ashok Mhatre, tehsildar of Khalapur, said
he rushed out of his house on hearing the loud noise.
“When I came out to inquire, people told me they had seen something
like an aeroplane,” Mhatre said.
A patrolling cop D D Bharsat in Bharapada village told Mid Day
he saw fire with smoke and that its impact sent leaves and other
articles from the ground circling into the air.
Bhaskar Wankhede, collector, Raigad, said, “We have sent teams
across Raigad, but they haven’t found anything untoward. I have
spoken to Navy officials at the Nhava Sheva base. They have radar
facilities but even they haven’t detected any plane or any flying
Officials from the Khopoli fire brigade were also not able to
shed any light. “Some are saying it’s a plane crash, while according
to others it was an earthquake,” said a fire official.
Superintendent Dnyaneshwar Phadtare of Raigad police said, “The
villagers here have heard the sound but it is still not clear
if it was an explosion, a quake or a fireball,” he said.
Police have also not found the exact place where the “explosion”
“Our men are travelling from village to village to find out
the exact spot of the unidentified explosion. Many have heard
the explosion but nobody has yet been able to pinpoint the spot,”
Mumbai: Geologists and amateur astronomers
rushed to Vavoshi near Pen in Raigad district this morning where
pieces of a meteor-like object were reported to have fallen last
A meteor-like object allegedly hit Vavoshi village near here
in Raigad district last night around 2030 hrs.
Bright light was seen and deafening noise was heard at places
including Vavoshi, Rasaini, Khalapur, Khopoli, Pen, Panvel, Chirner.
The Astronomical Study and Research Centre, Pen chairman and
director Sandeep Jhadav said it appears to be an explosion caused
due to collision of an asteroid with earth's surface and the impact
was felt over a radius of 50 km.
"We are trying to follow up the matter," he said.
Meanwhile, Indian Meterological Department here denied any earthquake
struck the region last night.
Panic gripped the village with residents reporting a huge ball
of fire coming down from the sky accompanied by a big bang.
| Twelve hours after the news of the
mysterious ‘celestial fireball explosion’ that shook villages
in the Panvel-Khopoli belt in Raigad district on Tuesday night.
Officials from the Indian Air Force say the noise
was caused due to a sonic boom from a fighter jet of the IAF.
Wing Commander Tarun Kumar Singha, PRO–Ahmedabad of Indian
Air Force (IAF), said the fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30 MKI had crossed
the sound barrier at a low altitude in the Panvel-Khopoli belt while
on a routine flying exercise.
“We monitored the news on the electronic
media. Gradually, when more coverage started coming in, we felt
it was necessary to inform the masses about the incident,”
According to Wing Commander Singha, a Sukhoi-30 MKI took off from
the Lohegaon Air Force station, Pune, a little past 8 pm on a routine
flying exercise in the area around Mumbai.
Though not included in the profile of the
exercise, the pilot had inadvertently gone into supersonic speed
(more than the speed of sound) and because of the change in the
pressure pattern in the atmosphere, a big explosive sound was heard.
It is commonly referred to as sonic boom.
“A departmental inquiry will be conducted to know what led
the pilot to increase the speed by going supersonic. Even the pilot
does not know the impact felt on the ground,” Singha said.
Light and sound
Fighter aircraft like the Sukhoi-30 MKI travel at speeds higher
than sound. For this they have to break the sound barrier.
When the aircraft wants to cross this barrier, it requires more
thrust. So, 150 per cent more fuel is injected to give an added
75 per cent thrust to propel it past the sound barrier.
When the aircraft breaks the barrier, a deafening sound is created.
Usually during training, the jets go supersonic at a height of above
10 kms, 12 kms and 16 kms. It is not easy to go supersonic at a
Subsequently, the aircraft emits a trail of fire, which is actually
the extra burnt fuel. But it gives the impression of fire behind
the exhaust. For people on the ground, the sudden appearance of
the aircraft in a night sky may look like a fireball or any other
unidentified bright flying object.
Today’s airplanes, especially military, fly in many different
conditions: subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic (rockets).
Was it the Navy?
Another theory doing the rounds is that the deafening sound heard
by the villagers could actually be of a misfired round from a naval
anti-aircraft gun placed strategically at the Karanja Naval base,
“Normally the anti-aircraft guns are practiced by firing
with a trajectory in the Arabian Sea, but in this case the gun could
And since the impact of the shell is huge, it can actually pierce
the ground,” said a naval official. That explains the absence
of debris around the villages, he added.
However, a defence spokesperson debunked the theory, saying that
in case of a firing exercise, notices are given to authorities 15
days in advance. “Also, the firing is done seawards and not
on land,” he said.
-- An earthquake rocked Venezuela's eastern
state of Delta Amacuro, causing no major damage or injuries, according
to a preliminary report by the country's seismic institute.
The quake hit 56 kilometers (33.6 miles) southeast of the state
capital of Tucupita at 9:52 a.m., measuring 4.7 on the Richter
scale, the Venezuelan Seismic Institute said on its Web site.
An institute spokeswoman said in a telephone interview that there
was no damage to buildings and there were no injuries or fatalities.
| A strong earthquake occurred at
08:40:03 (UTC) on Wednesday, January 12, 2005. The magnitude 6.8 event
has been located near the CENTRAL MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE. (This event
has been reviewed by a seismologist.)
People living near Desert Hot Springs may
have been rattled Tuesday night. Officials say a magnitude 4.3
earthquake shook the Southern California desert near Palm Springs
just after midnight.
The quake was centered seven miles east of Desert Hot Springs
and 12 miles northeast of Palm Springs.
Police say the quake set off car alarms, but didn’t cause any
injuries or damage.
ON Tuesday morning, two days into earthquake
awareness week, residents of Red Hills, St Andrew reported feeling
a minor tremor to the Earthquake Unit of the University of the
The quake was felt at approximately 5:27 am and the epicentre
was determined to be offshore the Hellshire Hills in St Catherine.
It was measured at a magnitude of 3.2, and had a level-III intensity.
PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, January 12 (RIA
Novosti, Oksana Guseva) - The Bezymyanny volcano eruption, which
started on January 11, ended today in Kamchatka.
Chief researcher of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology
under the Far East branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei
Ozerov told RIA Novosti that the ash trail formed as a result
of the eruption extended for more than 150 kilometers to the northwest.
Experts predicted the eruption several days before it actually
started. The seismic activity of the volcano had been gradually
increasing since January 3-4. The number of tremors and their
magnitude grew every day.
The eruption started at 19:52 local time (10:52 Moscow time)
on January 11 and reached its apogee between 20:23 and 20:31 local
time. Its magnitude was three times higher than that of the previous
eruption that occurred on June 19-20, 2004.
Visual monitoring of the eruption was impossible due to bad
weather conditions in the area at the time of the eruption. A
deep cyclone was passing over the region. Nevertheless, experts
believe that the height of ash emissions over the crater might
have reached 10 kilometers.
The Bezymyanny eruptions are very powerful, but normally do
not last long. They regularly occur once or twice a year.
In Tijuana, two massive mudslides claimed
the lives of three children.
Two girls, one 11-years-old and other eight-years-old, were
killed when fast-moving mud blanketed their makeshift home.
The Mexican Red Cross tried to rescue them, but by the time
help reached the children, it was too late.
A five-year-old also died Tuesday in another mudslide.
OVERTON, Nev. (AP) - The torrential storm
that caused the deadly mudslide in California is sweeping across
other Western states, bringing flooding that has gobbled up homes
and washed out roads.
The heaviest flooding was concentrated in the area where Nevada,
Arizona and Utah meet. No serious injuries were reported, but
one man was missing in Utah. A skier was missing for a third day
in the deep snow of rugged western Colorado.
In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday surveyed
the devastation caused by a huge mudslide that killed at least
10 people. The overall death toll in California from the storms
is 28 people.
Floodwaters from a swollen river rose in this small Nevada town
about 80 kilometres from Las Vegas on Wednesday, even as evacuated
residents started returning home.
An estimated 100 homhges were damaged, destroyed or cut off
by flooding in the Overton area. A police helicopter had to rescue
three people after they became trapped in their cars and homes.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Electricity was restored
to most homes in an Arctic village Wednesday, four days after
the community lost power in a fierce blizzard and was thrown into
the deep freeze.
Drifting snow prevented a cargo plane from landing in Kaktovik,
a village of 300 people more than 200 miles above the Arctic Circle.
But an Alaska Air National Guard helicopter delivered technicians
and equipment on Tuesday.
Within a day, the technicians were able to restore electricity
to about three-quarters of the village. The outage may have been
caused by power lines slapping together and arcing during the
storm, officials said.
| TORONTO - Researchers working in
China's fossil beds have found the remains of a tiny dinosaur inside
the belly of a mammal, a discovery that could change perceptions about
The mammal, about the size of a raccoon, had a bird-like dinosaur
about 12 centimetres long for its last meal. Scientists say it's
the first evidence that mammals hunted small dinosaurs about 130
million years ago.
Conventional wisdom holds that early mammals were timid, rodent-like
creatures, feeding on insects and seeds. The newly discovered fossils
suggest some were meat eaters, occasionally preying on dinosaurs.
Meng Jin of the American Museum of Natural History, a co-author
of the study, said the discovery gives researchers a drastically
different picture of early mammal life.
A second mammal fossil found at the same site is the largest early
mammal ever found, about the size of a modern dog and 20 times larger
than most mammals living in the Cretaceous Period.
The dinosaur-eating mammal is a member of the species Repenomamus
robustus, previously seen only in skull fragments. The skeleton
is about 60 centimetres long and scientists think the animal weighed
about seven kilograms.
Its dinosaur meal, a very young Psittacosaurus, appears as fragmented
remains under the ribs on the left side, the location of its stomach.
Its larger cousin was given a new species name, Repenomamus giganticus.
The fossils were found more than two years ago in China's Liaoning
province. Chinese and American researchers cleaned and analysed
the remains in a lab in Beijing.
The study appears in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
| CANMORE, ALTA. - Glaciers in Canada's
Rocky Mountains are melting fast, scientists say, making them a barometer
for climate change in Canada.
Some of the glaciers in the mountains have lost 70 per cent of
their volume in the past 100 years, scientists say.
The Rocky Mountain glaciers provide most of Western Canada's fresh
"Every year there is more ice melting than going in. Over
the last five years it's accelerated rapidly. The glaciers are really
retreating," said University of Calgary climatologist Shawn
Weather records show that the average temperature in the Rockies
has risen about 1.5 degrees over the last century.
The mountain ecosystem is also seeing changes in the form of massive
summer forest fires, invasive species such as the pine beetle, and
changing wildlife habitat.
"Most people who live in this country have no appreciation
of how crucial this is, and what kind of impact to could have on
all of us," said Bob Sandford, a life-long mountain resident
The changes are evident in the mountains, Marshall says, and any
effort to reverse those changes could take decades.
"The sooner we get this idea, quicker we'll be able to reverse
things. But we are sort of on a path right now for the next few
decades," said Marshall.
CHICAGO - A man working at a CTA maintenance
facility suffered a jolt after lightning struck a nearby storage
The man was alert and conscious when he was transported from the
East Garfield Park facility at 3920 W. Lake to Mount Sinai Hospital.
Two schools and 160 people were also affected by lightning strikes
in suburban Riverside.
Central Elementary School and Hauser Junior High School were closed
for the day, school officials said.
According to Commonwealth Edison spokesman John Dewey, the power
outage was caused by a downed distribution line on the 2400 block
of South 8th Avenue in North Riverside. He did not know what exactly
caused the outage, but said it appeared as if lightning struck the
ComEd first received calls about the outages around 8:24 a.m. Power
was restored at 9:54 a.m.
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