Tuesday, January 18, 2005

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Picture of the Day

Foggy Sunrise
©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Was Robert Kennedy killed by a real 'Manchurian candidate'-style assassin?

John Hiscock reports
18 January 2005

A new book claims to reveal evidence that the CIA, FBI and Aristotle Onassis hypnotised a Palestinian man into assassinating Robert Kennedy.

It happened nearly 38 years ago, but doubts and suspicions have lingered on. Now the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Robert Kennedy are being resurrected and re-examined in an attempt to establish the truth of what happened that night in the cramped pantry of a Los Angeles hotel.

New evidence has emerged and pressure is mounting on authorities to reopen the case of Sirhan Sirhan, who was convicted of the assassination and who remains in the California state prison in Corcoran.

Celebrities and journalists are joining the campaign for a federal investigation, which has been sparked in part by a new book, Nemesis, by the British author Peter Evans. Evans, who spent 10 years researching the book, has unearthed evidence to support Sirhan's contention that he was hypnotised into being the "fall guy" for the murder. Evans identifies the hypnotist, who had worked on CIA mind control programmes and who was later found dead in mysterious circumstances.

In another move to reopen the case, a lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles Superior Court to stop the pantry at the Ambassador Hotel being destroyed with the rest of the hotel because, it is claimed, bullet holes in the walls and ceiling demonstrate conclusively that more than one gunman fired shots at Senator Kennedy.

Both Evans and Sirhan's lawyer, Larry Teeter, are convinced that the Palestinian activist was chosen to be a Manchurian Candidate-style assassin. In the 1962 film, remade last year, and based on a novel by Richard Condon, a former prisoner of war from the Korean conflict is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin.

Evans and Teeter believe that while Sirhan fired several shots, none of them hit Kennedy. The assassination, they say, was carried out by a professional hitman who fled immediately, leaving Sirhan to take the blame.

It was only because Kennedy had dismissed his Los Angeles police bodyguards that Sirhan survived and was not gunned down on the spot as his controllers had intended, reports Evans.

The actor Robert Vaughn, who starred in the long-running television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E and who was a good friend of Robert Kennedy's, has sent a copy of Evans' book to Sirhan and his lawyers. In his letter to Sirhan, Vaughn wrote: "It contains important new information about your case that I believe substantiates your claims of having been hypnotised at the time of the shooting and also produces the first credible evidence of motivation and method. I can tell you that, like me, important people in the US media are persuaded by Mr Evans' revelations; some are talking of it opening the door to a long overdue federal investigation into the assassination. I also believe that it could give you the grounds for a new appeal."

The author Dominick Dunne, in his Vanity Fair column last month, described Nemesis as presenting "a startling revision of American history".

Robert Kennedy was the senator for New York, the head of the Kennedy clan and, according to Evans, the occasional lover of his sister-in-law, Jackie Kennedy, when his snowballing presidential campaign rolled into California. He triumphed in the California primary, and around midnight on 5 June 1968 in the Embassy Room of the Ambassador Hotel he thanked his supporters. Then, surrounded by aides, hotel employees and newsmen, with his wife, Ethel, a few yards behind and with the cheers still ringing in his ears, he left for a press conference in the Colonial Room on the other side of the hotel.

The route they took, from the stage to an anteroom and into the service corridors, led them through a narrow serving-kitchen known as the pantry. As the senator approached, a dark, slim young man stepped from behind a tray rack. He raised a .22 calibre revolver and squeezed the trigger. The gunman continued firing, wounding five other people as Kennedy aides and hotel employees wrestled him down on to a table for steaming food, where he was held until police arrived.

On 17 April 1969, after 64 sequestered days and nights, and 16 and a half hours of deliberation, the jury of seven men and five women found Sirhan "alone and not in concert with anyone else" guilty of murder in the first degree. He was sentenced to death in the gas chamber, but the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment when the United States Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional.

Those facts are not in dispute. Nearly everything else is.

"There was no way Sirhan Sirhan killed Kennedy," says Teeter, who has filed the lawsuit to preserve the pantry for further forensic examination. "He was the fall guy. His job was to get busted while the trigger man walked out. He wasn't consciously involved in any plot. He was a patsy. He was unconscious and unaware of what was happening - he was the true Manchurian Candidate.

"He is absolutely innocent. He is not the person who did the shooting. He was out of position and out of range and he couldn't have done it."

Teeter does not know for certain who hypnotised Sirhan, but, he said: "I know it was done. It was consistent with the US government's programme developed by the CIA and Military Intelligence to enable handlers to get people to commit crimes with no knowledge of what they are doing."

Evans goes further and names the hypnotist as a Dr William Joseph Bryan Jnr. He had worked on a CIA mind-control programme called MKULTRA and claimed to have moonlighted as a technical adviser on The Manchurian Candidate. The hypnosis, says Evans, had been done over three months, a period known as the "white fog" when the Los Angeles police task force later investigating the assassination - and trying to construct a meticulous timetable of Sirhan's activities up to the shooting - lost track of him.

Sergeant Bill Jordan, the detective who was Sirhan's first interrogator, told Evans: "We took him back for more than a year with some intensity - where he'd been, what he'd been doing, who he'd been seeing. But there was this 10- or 12-week gap, like a blanket of white fog we could never penetrate, and which Sirhan himself appeared to have a complete amnesia about."

Dr Bryan was found dead in a Las Vegas hotel room in 1978. He had either shot himself or was murdered. The case remains unsolved.

Evans agrees that Sirhan could not have killed Kennedy. "He got off a lot of shots and the panic in the pantry that night was extraordinary. But the angle of the bullet holes are against Sirhan having pulled the trigger," he said. "Sirhan Sirhan was very volatile, very visible and the perfect patsy.

"Unfortunately, some of the physical evidence was destroyed almost immediately because the Los Angeles police department burned the doors to the pantry, which was an extraordinary thing to do."

The recollections of a waiter at the Ambassador at the time add weight to the theories that Sirhan was not the assassin. Phil Elwell, who owns the popular King's Head pub and restaurant in Santa Monica, recalls that his friend and fellow waiter Carl Ucker was in the pantry that night and grabbed Sirhan's gun hand. "He was holding Sirhan Sirhan's wrist, and although Sirhan was firing the gun, Carl said that there was no way that any of the bullets could have hit Kennedy," said Elwell. "Carl told the police this and went on a lot of talk shows saying the same thing, but nobody seemed to take much notice."

Where Evans and Teeter differ is on the question of motive, and there they are at loggerheads.

"The assassination was staged by US intelligence for the purpose of continuing the war against Vietnam and putting the Republican Party in the White House," said Teeter. "The assassination was arranged with the CIA, the FBI and the LAPD. There was a massive cover-up. If he had lived and been allowed to run, Bobby Kennedy would have been elected president and this was a multi-agency task force to make sure that the Democrats didn't take the White House again."

In Nemesis, Evans gives a totally different motive. He has unearthed startling evidence that the assassination was carried out by a Palestinian terrorist named Mahmoud Hamshari.

Evans quotes sources as saying that Hamshari was receiving protection money from Aristotle Onassis to prevent attacks on his Olympic Airlines. Onassis, says Evans, had hated Bobby Kennedy since 1953, when Kennedy was one of the prime movers in scuppering a major deal Onassis was pushing through in Saudi Arabia. In addition, Kennedy stood in the way of his marriage to Jackie. She had promised her brother-in-law not to wed Onassis until after the 1968 election because they both knew how the American public would have reacted. She married Onassis in October 1968.

Dr Bryan was chosen to hypnotise Sirhan because he had links to both Hamshari and Onassis. Hamshari had visited him seeking a cure for migraine headaches, while Onassis had called on the doctor in an attempt to cure his sexual dysfunction, says Evans. It was Onassis's money, says Evans, that financed both the hypnotism of Sirhan and the assassination.

He says that Onassis confessed his complicity in the assassination to one of his lovers, Helen Gaillet De Neergaard, when she was his guest on his private island, Skorpios, in 1974. She confirms this in a letter to Vanity Fair, published in the February issue. "Thank God the truth has finally been told for posterity," she writes.

Teeter scoffs at Evans' research and describes the book as "a soap opera". Said Evans: "I can see Mr Teeter's nervousness about my book because I have shown that Sirhan Sirhan was there, he had a gun and he pulled the trigger. My book is about the conspiracy to murder Bobby Kennedy and it is putting a lot of pressure on authorities to reopen the case. The point of the assassination is not who fired the gun, but who paid for the bullets. Aristotle Onassis paid for the bullets."

The 84-year-old, 500-room Ambassador Hotel, which was the site of six Academy Awards ceremonies and where many celebrities, including the aviator and movie producer Howard Hughes, had permanent suites, was never the same after the assassination. Many believe it died with Robert Kennedy. It became more run down year by year, closing floor by floor until it finally shut its doors to the public on 3 January 1989. Its contents were auctioned off in the 1990s and it now stands empty and derelict behind a chain-link fence on Wilshire Boulevard.

Los Angeles officials want to tear it down and build three schools on the site, while the Los Angeles Conservancy is fighting to save the hotel because of its architectural value and historic significance.

The Kennedy family has argued forcefully against saving the hotel, saying that new schools would make the most fitting memorial to Bobby's life.

The pantry remains in the bowels of the building, a decaying space with bullet holes in the wall and ceiling. An ice machine still drips. Pending the outcome of Teeter's lawsuit, a panel of historians will be appointed to consider if the room ought to be sliced out and shipped whole to another site, preserved as it is, or destroyed along with the hotel.

Comment: People don't think, that's the only conclusion. Tell us we're wrong - please. If people really thought about things they would miss nothing. They would never be deceived by anyone. The truth is that it's because people deceive themselves that they are so susceptible to being deceived by others. They like it actually. They like to be lied to in a way that reinforces the idea that they do not lie to themselves. If the government doesn't lie, then the people don't lie, and, therefore, I don't lie.

A little sincere reflection of course would lead them to realise that there is a conspiracy in just about every home in the world. Husbands concealing information and holding back feelings and thoughts from spouses and vice versa. Children hiding their deepest darkest secrets from their parents. But sincere reflection and honesty with oneself would bring the entire world crashing down. The whole world is based on lies, from the level of the individual right the way up (or down depending on how you see it) to the level of the global power elite.

If people would just be honest with themselves, they would come to recognise and see the difference between truth and lies. But in our hearts we have supplanted truth for lies and lies for truth. We lie to ourselves constantly as Gurdjieff so aptly put it. So forget about any notions of things being better in the "future".

At present the future is being built by all of us, and from its foundations to the top of its gaudy gilded tower, it is based on one big illusion. One big lie.

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It's Official: My Brother Died in Vain
By Dante Zappala
Los Angeles Times
01/14/05

This week, the White House announced, with little fanfare, that the two-year search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had finally ended, and it acknowledged that no such weapons existed there at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2003.

For many, this may be a story of only passing interest. But for me and my family, it resonates with profound depth.

My brother was Sgt. Sherwood Baker. He was a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard deployed a year ago with his unit out of Wilkes-Barre. He said goodbye to his wife and his 9-year-old son, boarded a bus and went to Ft. Dix, N.J., to be hastily retrained. His seven years of Guard training as a forward observer was practically worthless because he would not face combat. All he needed to do was learn how to not die.

He received a crash course in convoy security, including practice in running over cardboard cutouts of children. We bought him a GPS unit and walkie-talkies because he wasn't supplied with them. In Iraq, Sherwood was assigned to the Iraq Survey Group and joined the search for weapons of mass destruction.

David Kay, who led the group until January 2004, had already stated that they did not exist. Former United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix had expressed serious doubts about their presence during prewar inspections. In fact, a cadre of former U.N. inspectors and U.S. generals had been saying for years that Iraq posed no threat to our country. On April 26, 2004, the Iraq Survey Group, at the behest of the stubborn administration sitting safely in office buildings in Washington, was still on its fruitless but dangerous search. My brother stood atop his Humvee, securing the perimeter in front of a suspect building in Baghdad. But as soldiers entered the building, it exploded; the official cause is still not known. Sherwood was struck by debris in the back of his head and neck, and he was killed.

Since that day, my family and I have lived with the grief of losing a loved one. We have struggled to explain his death to his son. We have gazed at the shards of life scattered at our feet, in wonder of its fragility, in perpetual catharsis with God.

I have moved from frustration to disappointment to anger. And now I have arrived at a place not of understanding but of hope — blind hope that this will change.

The Iraq Survey Group's final report, which was filed in October but revealed only on Wednesday, confirmed what we knew all along. And as my mother cried in the kitchen, the nation barely blinked.

I am left now with a single word seared into my consciousness: accountability. The chance to hold our administration's feet to that flame has passed. But what of our citizenry? We are the ones who truly failed. We shut down our ability to think critically, to listen, to converse and to act. We are to blame.

Even with every prewar assumption having been proved false, today more than 130,000 U.S. soldiers are trying to stay alive in a foreign desert with no clear mission at hand.

At home, the sidelines are overcrowded with patriots. These Americans cower from the fight they instigated in Iraq. In a time of war and record budget deficits, many are loath to even pay their taxes. In the end, however, it is not their family members who are at risk, and they do not sit up at night pleading with fate to spare them.

Change is vital. We must remind ourselves that the war with Iraq was not a mistake but rather a flagrant abuse of power by our leaders — and a case of shameful negligence by the rest of us for letting it happen. The consequence is more than a quagmire. The consequence is the death of our national treasure — our soldiers.

We are all accountable. We all share the responsibility of what has been destroyed in our name. Let us begin to right the wrongs we have done to our country by accepting that responsibility.

Dante Zappala is a part-time teacher in Los Angeles. E-mail: dante.zappala@lycos.com

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What the NYT Death Chart Omitted

The Slaughter of Iraqi Civilians by US Military

By DAVE LINDORFF
January 17, 2005

A horrifying chart and map on the opinion page of Sunday's New York Times graphically displays the carnage caused by the ongoing U.S. war in Iraq. Over a 14-day period during the first two weeks of the new year, Brookings Institution senior research assistant Adriana Lins de Albuquerque shows that 202 people died "as a result of the insurgency."

But the chart is deceptive, leaving out at least as much as it puts in.

First of all, and most importantly, as Lins de Albuquerque notes in her brief explanation, the chart doesn't give any information about the number of Iraqi insurgents killed by U.S. forces over the same period, nor does it give figures for Iraqi civilians "accidentally killed by coalition forces."

As she explains, "because of the limits placed on reporters," such information is not available (she fails to mention that also left out are the numbers of people killed by Iraqi troops and police).

In fact, we know from reports by the U.S.-backed government in Iraq that the U.S. has been "accidentally" killing Iraqi civilians at a prodigious rate--a rate both higher than the rate they are being killed by insurgents and higher than the rate that the U.S. forces have been killing insurgents. If that report, released late last fall, is correct, then a chart displaying the victims of U.S.-led forces would be larger even than the one developed by Ms. Lins de Albuquerque.

If those ratios are correct, the U.S. is probably also killing more civilians on average than the 38 percent or total deaths (76 civilians in the first two weeks of January) caused by the insurgency. For all the media focus on the viciousness of the insurgents, it would appear that they are being much more effective and selective in their attacks--killing primarily Iraqi troops, Iraqi police, and U.S. and "coalition" troops--than is the U.S.

Of course, most of the civilians killed by U.S. and "coalition" forces are killed "accidentally" only by the most strained definition of the term. The truth is that American aircraft are dropping bombs, including anti-personnel weapons and, reportedly, napalm, as well as 500 and 1000 lb. explosives once known in the trade as "block busters," on urban targets all the time. Occasionally one of these weapons will be reported as having hit the wrong target, but even when they hit the right target, it's safe to say that the so-called "collateral damage" is widespread and horrific.

In addition, there are the helicopter and fixed-wing gunships, which are designed to completely saturate wide areas with deadly fire, killing every living thing in those "dead zones" with projectiles that penetrate even concrete walls. When civilians die at the hands of these genuine weapons of mass destruction, their demise can hardly be termed "accidental."

Little wonder that the Iraqi government report found that a third of U.S.-caused casualties are children under the age of 14.

Finally, U.S. ground troops themselves are popping off civilians at a scandalous rate, thanks to a "spray and pray" policy of firing off everything they've got in a 360-degree radius whenever they come under enemy fire. Little wonder that reporters in Iraq are at least as afraid of being killed "accidentally" by American forces as they are of being attacked by insurgents or of hitting an errant roadside bomb.

Little wonder also that U.S. military authorities have a policy of not reporting civilian or insurgent death totals. The grisly details of their campaign of slaughter would not be popular either in the Middle East or here at home.

Or at the New York Times, where printing such a chart would have taken up not just the entire opinion page, but the whole editorial page, too.

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Dozens of Iraqis killed as pre-electoral violence rages
18 January 2005 0321 hrs

BAQUBA, Iraq : The spiralling battle between insurgents and security forces killed dozens of people in 48 hours, as the top US commander in Iraq predicted that violence would disrupt landmark elections.

With Iraq's first free polls in half a century just 13 days away, about 20 rebels ambushed an army checkpoint near Baquba early Monday, sprayed gunfire and lobbed rocket-propelled grenades, killing seven soldiers and a security guard, army officers told AFP.

A soldier was knelt in morning prayer in a tiny sentry post when insurgents came up from behind and decapitated him. Another three were burnt to death in a vehicle, the sources said.

The killings came after the Iraqi army arrested around 60 people in sweeps in the town of Bohrouz, south of Baquba, where the insurgency has popular support, said local resident Akeel Mateb.

The Al-Qaeda linked group of Jordanian fugitive Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on the Internet.

In another attack, seven policemen were killed and 15 wounded in a suicide car bomb outside a police station in Baiji, home to Iraq's largest oil refinery, a senior police officer said. [...]

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Gunmen Kidnap Catholic Archbishop in Iraq
By ROBERT H. REID
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Insurgents kidnapped a Catholic archbishop and targeted security forces in a series of brazen assaults Monday that killed more than 20 people. A suicide bomber attacked U.S. Marines in Ramadi, where insurgents also beheaded two Shiite Muslims and left their bodies on a sidewalk.

The top U.S. general in Iraq predicted violence during the Jan. 30 national election but pledged to do "everything in our power" to ensure safety of voters. As part of a crackdown on insurgents, U.S. troops arrested more than 100 suspects over the past three days, U.S. officials said.

In Mosul, Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa of the Syrian Catholic Church, was seized by gunmen and the Vatican condemned the abudction as a "terrorist act." The 66-year-old churchman was grabbed while walking in front of his church, a priest said on condition of anonymity. [...]

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Rising Weekend Resistance In Baghdad As "Elections" Near
Jan 17, 2005
By Muhammad Abu Nasr, Free Arab Voice and Omar Al-Faris, JUS

With the White House now downplaying the importance of Iraqi elections and doing damage control in preparation for the rise in resistance that sure to come after the imposed process takes places in some areas of Iraq on January 30, 2005, weekend attacks throughout the country rose as did the pressure on US forces to leave the country. Here are some of the attacks that occurred in Baghdad.

Eight Mossad Agents Reportedly Killed

Eight Mossad agents were reportedly killed when Resistance fighters attacked them near the al-Hamra' Hotel in the al-Jadiriyah area of south Baghdad on Sunday.

Resistance forces attacked the Babil Agency Company at about 12 noon Sunday. In recent days the Resistance had been informing the people of Baghdad that the Babil Company was a cover for agents of Mossad secret police, as could be seen from the unprecedented security protection provided to the company by US and Allawi police security – a level of security not enjoyed by any other foreign presence.

The correspondent of Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the Resistance had been informed about the true nature of the front company by a foreign hostage, who told them that the Jewish agents of the company were using false names to buy land and houses in Baghdad.

At noon on Sunday, therefore, Resistance fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, and medium weapons attacked two carloads of the Mossad agents as they left the company building. Eight Mossad agents were reportedly killed instantly. Four Allawi policemen were also reportedly killed when they clashed with the Resistance fighters during the attack. Two of the Resistance fighters were martyred and four others wounded.

The Brigades of Martyr Ahmad Yasin declared that it was responsible for the attack, which they called "revenge for the martyr Shaykh" in a communiqué that was distributed Sunday evening in a mosque in the south Baghdad suburb of ad-Durah.

Resistance Ambush Targets CIA Personnel

Resistance fighters armed with rocket launchers and BKC machine guns attacked a US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) column on Airport Road opposite the al-Furat neighborhood at about 10:30am Sunday, destroying a GMC command car and a Humvee and disabling a second GMC. Eight US troops were reportedly killed and five more wounded. Among the dead Americans was a US official. Two Resistance fighters were also martyred in the engagement. US forces sealed the roads leading to the area after the attack and then hauled away the wreckage. [...]

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Amid Talk of Withdrawal, Pentagon Is Taking Steps For Longer Stay in Iraq
BY ELI LAKE
The New York Sun
January 14, 2005

WASHINGTON - As the Bush administration drops hints about withdrawing troops from Iraq as early as this year, the Pentagon is building a permanent military communications system that suggests American soldiers will be in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

The new network, known as Central Iraq Microwave System, will eventually consist of up to 12 communications towers throughout Iraq and fiber-optic cables connecting Camp Victory, located outside of Baghdad, to other coalition bases in the country, according to three sources familiar with the project. The land-based system will replace the tactical communications network the Army and Marines have been using in Iraq. That network relied primarily on satellites and is much easier to dismantle. The contract for the new communications system covering central Iraq, won by Galaxy Scientific Corporation, is worth about $10 million.

The New York Sun learned of the investment in the communications system at a time when Washington is abuzz with speculation that the president may this year bring home many of the 150,000 American soldiers serving in Iraq. Earlier this week on National Public Radio, Secretary of State Powell said that as Iraqi security services assume more responsibility in fighting insurgents, he would expect the number of American soldiers on the ground there to decline. "With the assumption of that greater burden, the burden on our troops should go down, and we should start to see our numbers going in the other direction," he said.

Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld dispatched to Iraq a retired four-star general, Gary Luck, who was a key adviser to General Franks in developing the plan for the invasion, to assess America's options in Iraq. He is due to present his report next week. Press outlets have speculated that General Luck's visit indicates the Pentagon may be considering an exit strategy to coincide with the January 30 elections for Iraq's legislature. The United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition likely to command the most seats in the new Parliament, is comprised of Shiite parties that in the past have called for the end of the American occupation in Iraq. The second plank of their platform says a new government should negotiate a withdrawal date upon assuming power.

The new projects to build the CIMS network do not necessarily mean the number of American troops would not diminish over time. But according to experts as well as some Pentagon officials, the new investments indicate that there will at least be some level of American forces in Iraq for several years to come.

A senior defense policy expert for the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Donnelly, told the Sun that the kind of investment in the communications system is similar to the systems established during the Cold War in West Germany and more recently in the Balkans, two locations where American soldiers are still serving today. "This is the kind of investment that is reflective of the strategic commitment and intention to continue a military presence in Iraq," Mr. Donnelly said. "This is one of the indicators of an intention to stay, these kinds of communications networks."

The assistant project manager for CIMS, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Schafer, rejected the notion that the system was a permanent one. In an e-mail message to the Sun he wrote, "CIMS will connect major bases serving U.S. and coalition forces in Central Iraq with much greater reliability. CIMS will be much less costly to maintain, reduce costly satellite costs, and free up tactical signal forces, but does not necessarily signal more permanence."

Other Pentagon officials familiar with the project told the Sun that its scope, which plans to eventually connect American bases in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and even Afghanistan, indicates a commitment to a long-term presence in the region, including Iraq.

"I believe this terrestrial microwave system going in, whose final target is Afghanistan, together with such recent signals as a new military relationship between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates, are further indications of the long-term implementation of the Bush vision to bring democracy to the Middle East," a former CIA officer and founder of the CIA's counterterrorism center, Duane Clarridge, said in an interview. [...]

Comment: The assumption being made by those who believe US troops will begin to exit Iraq after the January 30th election is that Bush is honest, and that the situation in Iraq is at least stabilizing. From the articles we present each day, it is obvious that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, one might suspect that if someone in Bush's gang is dropping hints about troop withdrawals, it is because they know that it will not happen. After all, why not try and gain a few brownie points with the people while simultaneously preparing them for some tall tale on the evening news about the upcoming Iraqi election. The administration can manipulate or cancel the Iraqi elections in any way they see fit and blame it on the "insurgents". The idea that US troops were just about to pull out will only make the election manipulation seem more believable - i.e. "Why would the US government mess with the Iraqi election when they just announced that they were going to start pulling troops out of the country?"

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Abu Ghraib abuse firms are rewarded

As prison ringleader awaits sentence, defence contractors win multi-million Pentagon contracts

Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor
The Observer
Sunday January 16, 2005

Two US defence contractors being sued over allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison have been awarded valuable new contracts by the Pentagon, despite demands that they should be barred from any new government work.

Three employees of CACI International and Titan - working at Abu Ghraib as civilian contractors - were separately accused of abusive behaviour.

The report on the Abu Ghraib scandal implicated three civilian contractors in the abuses: Steven Stefanowicz from CACI International and John Israel and Adel Nakhla from Titan.

Stefanowicz was charged with giving orders that 'equated to physical abuse', Israel of lying under oath and Naklha of raping an Iraqi boy.

It was also alleged that CACI interrogators used dogs to scare prisoners, placed detainees in unauthorised 'stress positions' and encouraged soldiers to abuse prisoners. Titan employees, it has been alleged, hit detainees and stood by while soldiers physically abused prisoners.

Investigators also discovered systemic problems of management and training - including the fact that a third of CACI International's staff at Abu Ghraib had never received formal military interrogation training.

Despite demands by human rights groups in the US that the two companies be barred from further contracts in Iraq - where CACI alone employed almost half of all interrogators and analysts at Abu Ghraib - CACI International has been awarded a $16 million renewal of its contract. Titan, meanwhile, has been awarded a new contract worth $164m. [...]

However the controversy over abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay is likely to be reignited later this month with the publication of The Torture Papers: The Legal Road to Abu Ghraib by Cambridge University Press, the first compendium of the so called 'torture memos' of the Bush administration.

Compiled from material already in the public domain and other material acquired under the US Freedom of Information Act, it documents the chilling progress in the Bush administration's legal advice that allowed it to redefine the meaning of torture so much that it felt able to use interrogation techniques that amounted to the most serious physical abuse.

In one memo, Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee advises the legal counsel to the president, Alberto Gonzales, that 'physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death'.

He adds that actions by interrogators 'may be cruel, inhuman or degrading, but still not produce the pain and suffering of requisite intensity [to be torture]'.

In a new development, the New York Times revealed last week that Congressional leaders have scrapped fresh legal measures that would have imposed strict new restrictions on the use of extreme interrogation techniques by US intelligence interrogators.

The proposal - which emerged in the fall-out of the Abu Ghraib scandal and complaints over the treatment of internees at Guantanamo Bay - had been approved by the Senate by almost a unanimous vote.

It would have explicitly ensured that US intelligence officers were covered by the same prohibitions on the use of torture, and required the CIA and Pentagon to report to Congress on the techniques that they were using. [...]

Comment: These companies are known to have directly participated in the brutal torture of Iraqis, most of whom had not even broken the law and who remain in prison without any charges having been brought against them. So, what happens to these companies? Why, they're rewarded with $180 million in new contracts! It seems fascism pays. When the US economy tanks, we wonder how many more corporations and individuals will jump on the Fourth Reich bandwagon...?

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Bush says US does not have a credibility problem after Iraq
AFP
Tue Jan 18, 1:27 AM ET

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush said the United States had not lost credibility after issuing poor assessments about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction and that he is looking forward to meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin next month.

In an interview with ABC television, Bush was asked if, after he erroneously claimed Iraq harbored banned weapons, the world would believe Washington's claims if it depicted another country in a similar way.

"Obviously, you know, if we were to make a case that the world needs to act in concert with another country, we'd want to be very careful about that which we presented. But, I think people recognized how bad a person Saddam Hussein was," Bush said.

Comment: Bush's response is particularly interesting. One might suspect he is saying that the US now needs to be very careful about what evidence it presents to the rest of the world before the next invasion, because the world will be paying more attention after the lies about WMD's in Iraq. This statement can be interpreted in two ways. One way is that the US needs to be sure it presents factual information instead of "bad intelligence." The other interpretation is that the information presented doesn't have to be factual, it just needs to be more convincing - the lies need to be more carefully crafted.

He then continues, "But, I think people recognized how bad a person Saddam Hussein was." In other words, maybe the lies about WMD's didn't matter that much because many countries agreed that Saddam was a bad person, and they didn't do much to stop Bush.

Bush and gang continue to get away with murder on a massive scale, and he knows it. He might not believe that it is murder as we understand the term, since he seems to believe that he is doing god's work. It seems highly unlikely that the neocons will alter their strategy at all when the next invasion hits - whether it's Iran, Syria, or any other nation.

Despite the fruitless US search for WMD stockpiles in Iraq, Bush said Saddam "had the capability of making the weapons, in other words, he was still a dangerous man."

Comment: And yet, many Iraqis have stated that they are worse off under American control than they were under Saddam. For example, see Iraqi Victim Says U.S. Torture Worse Than Saddam were one Iraqi states:

An obviously ill-at ease Mutar added: "I was extremely emotional because (even) Saddam didn't do this to us."

Add in the continued lack of basic services, the slaughter of innocent civilians, and acts of barbarity like the leveling of Fallujah, and the picture is indeed rather grim...

He said he still would have made the decision to go to war against Saddam's regime knowing what he knows today.

In a separate interview with NBC television on Monday, Bush said he would not rule out military action if the United States cannot persuade Iran to stop short of building a nuclear weapon.

"I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I won't ever take any option off the table," Bush told NBC.

The president was quizzed about Iran as The New Yorker magazine reported that US commandos have been operating inside Iran since mid-2004 selecting suspected weapons sites for possible air strikes. The Pentagon blasted the article as "riddled with errors." [...]

Comment: Does the Pentagon's statement mean that US special forces are in Iran, but the magazine report just has some errors?

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Pentagon slams Iran raid report
Tuesday, January 18, 2005. 9:15am (AEDT)

The Pentagon has made a blistering attack on American journalist Seymour Hersh for claiming the United States has been preparing for possible air strikes against Iran.

But the US Government has not denied his central allegation.

In today's edition of The New Yorker magazine, Hersh uses unnamed government sources in an article claiming the US has been undertaking reconnaissance missions, gathering information about Iran's nuclear, chemical and biological facilities.

He alleges extensive planning has been under way for possible air strikes against Iran since the middle of last year.

The Pentagon has issued a written statement saying Mr Hersh's piece is so riddled with errors of fundamental fact that the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed.

But the errors the Pentagon points out are comparatively minor.
While it also accuses Mr Hersh of being unable to keep track of his wanderings, it never refutes his central claim that the US is considering air strikes against Iran.

Mr Hersh has since responded to the criticism by Pentagon spokesman Lawrence di Rita.

"The last time he [Mr di Rita] and I crossed swords was over Abu Ghraib, when I wrote about it six months ago or so," he said.

"At that time he said ... there's not much of a story there."

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Bush blocks Euro plan to woo Iran over nuclear freeze
By Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor
(Filed: 18/01/2005)

America has hobbled an effort by Britain and other European countries to persuade Iran to freeze its nuclear programme.

Senior officials said privately that the US would not offer economic or political concessions to woo Teheran.

President George W Bush is trying to improve relations with Europe and will visit London and Brussels next month.

But in private, American officials are furious at the European Union's "engagement" with Teheran. They say they will not co-operate with what they see as the dangerous policy of giving the regime "rewards for bad behaviour".

The New Yorker magazine reported yesterday that teams of US special forces had infiltrated Iran to scout suspected weapons sites that would be targeted in future air strikes.

Seymour Hersh, the magazine's award-winning journalist, quoted a US official as saying that after Afghanistan and Iraq "we're going to have the Iranian campaign".

However, a senior US administration source said Mr Bush was unlikely to take any decisions on dealing with Iran for the next six months, while the issue was "blocked" by the European diplomatic initiative.

Another well-placed US source said "military action is only the last resort after other options have been exhausted".

He said Washington wanted first to exert pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear programme through an escalating series of diplomatic and economic sanctions at the United Nations Security Council.

Iran is widely believed to be pursuing a secret programme to build a nuclear bomb. The nation says it only seeks to develop nuclear power to save its oil reserves.

Under an agreement in November between Iran and Britain, France and Germany, Teheran was spared a referral to the security council after it agreed to suspend "voluntarily" the most sensitive parts of its nuclear programme: the enrichment of uranium and the reprocessing of plutonium. In return, the Europeans made a commitment to improve relations.

Working groups met in Geneva yesterday to discuss three issues: Iran's nuclear programme; improved technological and economic co-operation; and "firm commitments on security issues".

The EU has agreed to move ahead with co-operation even before an overall agreement is reached and has resumed talks on a trade pact with Iran.

But many of the benefits that Teheran seeks - advanced technology, investment in its oil industry and greater international acceptance - can be provided only with US agreement.

The Europeans hoped to entice the new Bush administration into the diplomatic process.

American officials dismiss the idea out of hand. One said the European effort was "comical". Another said the Iranians would break out of whatever constraints the Europeans imposed.

Washington believes that any concessions made by Teheran are temporary, and often imposed by their own technical problems. British officials admit their initiative is running into the sand.

Without US support, the Europeans believe their initiative is doomed and it will be only a matter of time before the Iranians resume their nuclear activities.

The US will not publicly denounce the initiative but appears content to watch it collapse.

It then hopes to bring the issue to the security council. Britain says such a move would be pointless because any sanctions would be blocked by Russia and China.

Comment: The U.S. can bluster all it wants about Iran's supposed clandestine nuclear program and the European initiative and how it gives Iran "rewards for bad behaviour", but the only reason why the Bush administration is so adamant that diplomacy and peaceful negotiations fail is because Iran had been chosen as that the next "axis of evil" target and no amount of European or UN influence, logic, or evidence will be able to stand in their way.

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Britain expects second Bush administration to listen more to world
AFP
Tue Jan 18, 1:23 AM ET

LONDON - Britain expects that US President George W. Bush, during his second term in office, will take a less unilateral approach on foreign affairs and listen more to other governments, British analysts say.

Prime Minister Tony Blair intends neither to abandon his role as a bridge between Europe and the United States nor London's longstanding special position as Washington's most faithful ally.

In the runup to general elections here in May, however, Blair will doubtlessly avoid appearing too close to Bush, who is widely unpopular in Britain, especially among voters of the governing Labour Party.

"There is clear evidence that his relationship with Bush, his association with the war in Iraq is an electoral liability," according to John Peterson, professor of international politics at the University of Edinburgh. [...]

While solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was "pretty comprehensively ignored by the first Bush administration," there is "more scope" for European-US cooperation in the second term, according to Julie Smith, a specialist in trans-Atlantic relations at Cambridge University. [...]

The Blair government is pinning hopes on Robert Zoellick, who was appointed deputy to the new US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice and who has been known to the Europeans as the US trade representative.

Zoellick's is an "important post because no one really knows from day to day which way Condoleeza Rice is going to fall on most foreign policy debates," Peterson said. [...]

"So in a way, whoever has an influence over her has a very important role in the policy making of this administration," Peterson said.

Comment: Anyone who thinks that Zoellick's addition to the State Department will change things should read the January 9th Signs Page...

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Terrorists May Be Coming Soon to a Mall Near You
Kurt Nimmo
January 16, 2005

If you live near a military base or installation, as I do here in New Mexico, you shouldn't be surprised if terrorists attack, drive a suicide truck through the front gates and kill a whole lot of people.

Fair is fair, as they say, in love and war, especially war.

It shouldn't come as a surprise because the Pentagon is now attacking the "military infrastructure" in Iran, as crack investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reports. Of course, when the Pentagon says "military infrastructure," it means not only missile sites, ammo depots, etc., but also humans, the largest and most crucial part of any "military infrastructure."

"The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible," Hersh quotes a "government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon" as saying, according to Reuters. "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign," a former high-level intelligence official told Hersh and the New Yorker. "The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign." In other words, the Strausscons—who are, after all, the "civilians in the Pentagon," put there by Bush and Cheney—are softening up Iran, blowing things up and killing people in preparation for another invasion, or at least an extensive bombing campaign since most of Bush's bullet-stoppers are busy in Iraq.

So, if "terrorists" strike the mall down the street from where you live, you shouldn't be surprised, and you shouldn't be angry with the "terrorists," or at least not the terrorists in Iran, but rather those in Washington, the "civilians in the Pentagon" who have killed more people in the Iraq over the last two years—100,000 and counting—than all "terrorists" combined have killed since terrorism became an excuse to for the United States to invade countries and steal natural resources (we can begin with the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, circa 1898). Of course, this does not take into account the 1.5 million or so Iraqis killed since Dubya's old man invaded back in 1991.

"We obviously have a concern about Iran. The whole world has a concern about Iran," Dan Bartlett, a top Bush aide, told CNN after Hersh's article appeared. Isn't it nice for Bartlett to speak for the "whole world," a world mostly in opposition to Bush and afraid for the future, especially those who live in and around the Middle East? In reality, only Bush, the Strausscons, and the Israelis are concerned about Iran, that is to say they want to take out its government and re-install the Shah, or his son anyway (who lives in America), and do a re-run of what Bush did in Iraq. Problem with this, of course, is there are three times as many Iranians as Iraqis, they fully expect the United States, at the behest of Israel, to attack and have spent years preparing themselves. Iran will be, to say the least, a tough nut to crack, but with the civilian nuts in the Pentagon calling the shots this is apparently not much of a consideration, same way it wasn't in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Let's be objective for a second. If the Iranians were "conducting secret reconnaissance missions" in America, that is to say they were blowing up military sites and killing military personnel, wouldn't you feel inclined to respond in some way, wouldn't you demand your government bomb the heck out of them? Of course you would. So why do we expect the Iranians—or the Iraqis for that matter—to react any differently? Since Iran does not have the capability to sit off New York Harbor with aircraft carriers or march on Washington with tanks and Humvees—the way Bush marched from Kuwait into Baghdad—they very well may do the next best thing to their way of thinking: attack America through asymmetrical warfare, i.e., "terrorism."

Of course, they will not do this. It would be stupid and counterproductive. It would give Bush an excuse to flatten Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Ahwaz, and other Iranian cities like he flattened Fallujah in Iraq. Of course, he may do this anyway.

But if terrorists did strike New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or numerous smaller cities in the United States, wouldn't it make perfect sense? How would you feel if you were in the shoes of the average Iranian—looking west toward Iraq and taking note of the destroyed water purification facilities, the wrecked electrical grid, the deliberately targeted hospitals, sewage running in the streets, knowing that you may be killed at any moment because your government is run by people the Israelis want to rub out? I bet you wouldn't take kindly to it. I bet you might talk about revenge.

Naturally, far too many Americans believe their country was attacked by Muslims—brother Muslims to those in Iran—on September 11, 2001, even though there is no evidence of this, even though it is absolutely illogical and stupid to believe a handful of cave dwelling Muslims in Afghanistan managed to pull off a terrorist attack only a well-organized government intelligence agency—or any number of the 26 intelligence services with a budget exceeding $30 billion in the United States (not to mention those in Israel as well)—would have the resources and expertise to accomplish. 9/11 "was technically and organizationally a master achievement," explains Andreas Von Buelow, a former German Defense Minister. "To hijack four huge airplanes within a few minutes and within one hour, to drive them into their targets, with complicated flight maneuvers! This is unthinkable, without years-long support from secret apparatuses of the state and industry." But never mind. 9/11 was mission accomplished, millions of Americans believe Osama and Saddam planned the whole thing, and Iran is the next target, or one of several targets, including Syria and, eventually, Saudi Arabia.

As Hersh tells us, it's not simply Iran, but almost anywhere Muslims live. Bush "signed a series of top-secret findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia." Now that Bush has his "political capital," thanks to the Deliverance states and Diebold, he will spend it killing Muslims all around the world, wherever he and the Strausscons find them. It's a dream come true for the Israelis, who have plotted against Arabs and Muslims since the first Zionists trekked to Palestine, determined to steal as much land as possible and make life a living hell for millions of Arabs.

It's going to blow up in our faces. Obviously, the Strausscons are criminally insane, and if America allows them to continue this madness unchecked it will result in catastrophe, not only in the Middle East but here in America as well. Our economy, thanks in large part to Bush's invasions and the pilfering of government tax coffers by rich people and multinational corporations, is about ready to crash and burn, maybe this year. No doubt the Strausscons are aware of this and that's why "covert operations against suspected terrorist targets," i.e., Muslims, are underway, full steam ahead. Islam has to be eviscerated before the Sugar Daddy America runs out of money. However, there are too many targets, limited resources, and a smoldering resentment on the part of many Americans. It's simply a too aggressive and accelerated a plan for the Strausscons to pull off, not to say they won't do a terrible amount of damage before the bottom falls out.

Even so, don't be surprised if "terrorists" from "as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia" decide they've had enough and attack America. Of course, this will be entirely ineffectual because America is a huge country with an easily rallied public—polls now indicate increasing numbers of Americans, especially in the Deliverance states, want to intern American Muslims in concentration camps—and brainwashing directed against Arabs, Persians, and Muslims in general runs deep, thanks to the likes of Fox News and hate radio. Strausscons, of course, with a lot of help from the "New Pearl Harbor" of September 11, planned it this way. Terrorism is a good thing—as Binyamin Netanyahu said after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon—and rest assured the Strausscons don't give a whit about the murder of average citizens who, as the Strausscon Lawrence Kaplan says, don't have the "stomach" for World War IV. As dead Israelis killed in terrorist attacks serve the purposes of Ariel Sharon and the Likudites, so do dead Americans serve the Strausscons.

Thanks to Bush and the Strausscons, the possibility terrorists will drive a truck packed with explosives into the neighborhood mall has gone up exponentially.

No amount of duct tape and plastic sheeting will make a difference.

Comment: The likelihood of another spectacular terrorist attack on American soil looms ever larger as the inflammatory rhetoric directed toward Iran and other Muslim states is bandied about in the Zionist controlled media.

It is seemingly the one crucial ingredient missing from the equation that will be necessary to rally the common folk in support of another round of Gulf War III.

Either that or complete economic meltdown, which also seems likely.

What is unusual about the article above is that the author rightly asserts that it would be wholly counterproductive for Iranians to launch such a pre-emptive attack against America. He also alludes to the collusion of American and Israeli interests in the September 11th attacks that were erroneously blamed on al Qaeda.

However, he seems unable to make the connection that this effective strategy, whereby elements within the U.S. government carry out a false-flag operation against against their own citizens to be later pinned on whomever is next in line for invasion, is a much more likely scenario than the attacks coming from the rogue states themselves.

If it worked once and the public bought it, then there is every reason to believe that it will work even better the next time.

There are numerous reports in the media to suggest that Mossad agents aided by the sayanim in American safe houses are already "conducting secret reconnaissance missions" throughout the country, and if any kind of spectacular terrorist attack were to take place, odds are that elements within American and Israeli secret service are the ones who will be behind it all.

Of course it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which group of so-called "terrorists" will be named as perpetrators by the media moments after the event transpires.

Alas, it seems only a matter of time.

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World press split over Rice

17 November, 2004

Yesterday officials in Israel had difficulty concealing their happiness at the appointment of Condoleezza Rice. For Israel, Rice's appointment is great news primarily because for the first time there is a chance for change in the State Department's traditional attitude to Israel: while White House officials have always tended to accommodate Israel for political or other considerations, State Department officials sought greater balance in their approach towards Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel's Yediot Aharonot

Condoleezza Rice comes from a place where black is black and white is white - not in the racial sense, but the biblical sense. Rice comes from a region where the church instils in its faithful simple truths of good and bad. Where Europe sees a freedom fighter, people like Rice see a terrorist with a Kalashnikov.

Israel's Ma'ariv

Comment: Note the first comment by Yediot: "greater balance" by the US towards Israel and the Palestinians i.e. balance AWAY from complete cow toeing to Israel, has always been actively combated by Israel. Israel realises that any balanced view of the Israeli Palestinian issue would strongly condemn Israel for its brutal oppression of the Palestinians, hence it is to be prevented at any cost. Now that Condi is heading the State Department, Sharon is rubbing his blood-stained hands with glee at the thought of a US-sanctioned blood-bath in Palestine.

The second comment by Ma'ariv belies the context in which Sharon wants the world to see the Middle East conflict - black and white, in the blind -believer biblical sense, with no critical thought or analysis of the details. Evil Arab terrorists against oppressed Israeli freedom fighters that's the way the world should see things. Sharon and the editors of Ma'ariv are hoping that Condi will employ the lessons she allegedly learned from her "black and white" upbringing in the deep American South during the 60's and apply them to the Israel-Palestinian issue. Of course, the Israelis will be in the role of the blacks and the Palestinians the racist whites. A complete reversal of the reality of the situation.

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Man claims his anti-war stand sparked harassment
By PAUL PANEK, Journal Register News Service
01/16/2005

(LEBANON, Connecticut)-- Peter and Lisa Quercia moved to town three years ago hoping to find a quiet place to settle down, but lately their lives has been anything but peaceful.

Peter said he is feeling a great deal of resentment from town officials after publicly expressing his opposition to the war in Iraq.

"They have been harassing us, there's no question about it," said Quercia. "We're just asking for one thing and that is to be left alone."

Quercia said town officials are harassing him because of his method of protest to the war. Several months ago, he designed a sign listing the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq. The sign is displayed on the flagpole next to Quercia's home on Tobacco Street.

The most recent edition of the sign stated, "Bush Lies, 1,345, G.I.s R.I.P." on one side and "Bush War, Death Toll, 1,345" on the other side. The numbers reflect the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq.

Quercia said he is currently in the process of revising the sign and he said he would continue updating it, as additional soldiers are lost in battle. He also plans on putting up an American flag at half-staff, below the sign.

Quercia said he takes the sign down every evening because he fears vandals may destroy it. He said his open political views have created displeasure on the part of town officials and some members of the community.

Quercia said he believes other local residents contact the town to complain about alterations he is making to his home and his property. He said these complaints are unfounded and the individuals who made them do so because they disagree with his political expression.

"The town has been acting on hearsay," he said.

Quercia said he has contacted the town to find out where the complaints are coming from so he can resolve them but the town has been uncooperative.

Quercia also said town officials and a state marshal arrived at his home last month to deliver him a letter regarding modifications that he made to his garage. He said the letter did not have any information on how to file an appeal and he said it also threatened him if he did not make the necessary adjustments.

"In the letter it said they would take further action without notifying me about it," said Quercia.

Quercia said this is one example of the harassment he has endured and he said it is a part of an invariable, cooperative effort on the part of local officials to force him to move out of town.

"The town has enormous power and we feel that they want us out," he said. "They have the resources, the manpower, and the inclination to do so."

He said he and his wife have considered selling the home and moving out of town, but he does not want to be forced out simply because he chose to express his political beliefs.

Quercia said harassment from the town has also come in the form of citations as well as the destruction of his property.

He has received a number of citations from the town regarding property infractions in the past several months. Among them were the presence of a stone wall officials said was on town land, an area that extends 25 feet from the center of the road and onto a resident's property. Quercia was also recently cited because the bus he drives for work was parked within that 25-foot zone and he was cited for garbage cans that were too close to the road.

He said the town's snowplow also deliberately slammed into his newspaper boxes and his garbage cans, causing damage to them.

Town officials said they have not expressed any opposition to Quercia's political protest.

"I don't really believe that we have harassed him in any way," said First Selectman Daniel McGuire. "The town has many other issues to deal with than to harass one taxpayer." [...]

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Aventura police use stun guns on 4 teens at mall
BY REBECCA DELLAGLORIA AND ELAINE DE VALLE
Posted on Mon, Jan. 17, 2005

(Florida) - Four teenagers were hit with Taser stun guns Saturday night during an altercation outside the AMC movie theater in Aventura, police and witnesses said.

The melee began when an off-duty Aventura police officer led a group of rowdy teens out of the theater and was attacked by another group of youths, said Aventura Police Chief Thomas Ribel.

By the time it ended, two officers had been injured and 11 or 12 people had been arrested on charges ranging from trespassing to battery on a police officer, Ribel said.

Two of the teenagers hit with stun guns, which shoot out 50,000 volts of electricity -- are 17, the chief said. One is 16 and the other is 19, he said.

The episode comes on the heels of several controversial uses of stun guns on minors and a policy revision by the Miami-Dade Police Department, which came under fire last year for using stun guns on a 6-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl.

Last week, the county said it had revised its policy and, while not banning the use of stun guns on minors, it calls on officers to consider such factors as age and size and body language and prohibits the use of stun guns as a "tool of coercion, to intimidate an individual into compliance with simple requests or directives.''

Ribel told The Herald that his department's 10-page stun-gun policy was cited by the Miami-Dade community relations board as a model policy for the county. It bans the use of stun guns on pregnant women and children younger than 12, he said.

''We have a lot of restrictions in our policy. We have a Taser program supervisor that will review every Taser, and we require strict documentation of every Taser discharge,'' Ribel told The Herald in a telephone interview.

RESPONDED TO CALL

Aventura police officers got an emergency call for assistance from an off-duty officer working at the AMC Aventura 24, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., about 10:40 p.m. after a fight broke out in one of the 24 theaters, Ribel said.

''The officer requested emergency back up, and it's my understanding that the initial arrest of combatants was made when other people in the crowd jumped on the officers when they were escorting the subjects out of the mall,'' the chief said.

"It escalated. It started out bad and got worse.''

One Aventura officer was treated for a knee injury at an area hospital and released and another was struck in the head but was not taken to a hospital, Ribel added.

The use of the stun guns will be investigated, Ribel told The Herald.
''We . . . review every Taser discharge and every Taser gun so that what is reported by the officers is matched against the evidence,'' Ribel said. "The Taser has a documentation process. They have a computer chip that records every discharge and we will fully investigate every discharge.''

Ryan Pedro, a Miramar High student who was arrested but not stunned, said 10 juveniles and two 18-year-olds were taken into custody.

The 15-year-old told The Herald on Sunday that he and a cousin had just seen the comedy Meet The Fockers.

'I called my aunt to come pick us up, and we were walking out and the police officers start rushing up to us, screaming, `Get the f--- out of here! Get the f--- out of here!' One of them said if I don't leave now he's going to hit me with the billy stick,'' Ryan told The Herald in a telephone interview.

''While this is happening, I never stop moving. I am getting out of there,'' Ryan said.

HANDCUFFED, CHARGED

''Suddenly, one of them grabs me by the back of my neck and throws me on the hood of the car. They put plastic cuffs on me and took me to a police car and threw me in there,'' Ryan said.

"They busted one kid's head -- gave him a six-inch gash on his head with a billy club.''

Ryan said he was charged with trespassing. His cousin, Giovanni Velez, was not stunned either but was charged with disorderly conduct, his mother said. She is the aunt that Ryan called to pick them up.

''When we got to the mall, I knew something was wrong,'' Lynette Sheppard told The Herald. "My son wasn't answering his cellphone.

''One of the security officers told my husband there was a fight and a bunch of kids were arrested,'' Sheppard said. "One of the witnesses told us about one of the kids that was getting Tasered and the description could match my nephew.''

When she went to the Aventura Police Department, two officers were in the lobby talking to frantic parents, she said.

''The only thing they would tell us was that all the kids were resisting arrest. They couldn't tell us what my child or my nephew was arrested for. We had no idea what was going on with our kids,'' Sheppard told The Herald in a telephone interview.

Said Ryan: "All we were doing was trying to go see a movie.''

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Israel bombs Hezbollah positions in Lebanon after attack on Israeli bulldozer
11:08 PM EST Jan 17
SAM GHATTAS

BEIRUT (AP) - Israeli warplanes twice bombed suspected Hezbollah targets along the border in southern Lebanon on Monday, wounding two women, after guerrillas blew up an Israeli bulldozer in a disputed area near the frontier, Lebanese officials said.

Israeli artillery pounded positions in the disputed Chebaa Farms area, where the bulldozer attack took place, before fighter jets raided two other Lebanese border regions. The flare-up near Israel's northern border comes as the Palestinian Authority tries to rein in Palestinian militants responsible for attacks in southern Israel.

The Lebanese security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said two Lebanese women were injured after Israeli planes fired two missiles at targets in Qsair, an area about six kilometres from the Israeli border.

Hours later, another jet fired a missile at Wadi Izziyeh, an area where Hezbollah maintains positions between the southern port city of Tyre and the border town of Naqoura on the Mediterranean coast. There was no word on casualties, but a plume of smoke was seen billowing from the bombed area.

Earlier, Hezbollah's Al-Manar television said Hezbollah forces planted a bomb that destroyed a bulldozer in the Chebaa Farms area. It said there were "definite casualties" among the Israelis, adding that Israeli ambulances rushed to the scene.

But the Israeli army said there were no casualties in the bulldozer attack, which it said took place inside Israeli territory.

The Israelis issued a statement saying its air force "targeted two sites in southern Lebanon belonging to Hezbollah" after the militant group claimed responsibility for the bulldozer attack.

"The Israeli Defence Forces will continue to act with determination against any attempt to target Israelis and destabilize the region," the statement added.

Lebanese security officials said at least 25 Israeli artillery shells landed near the village of Kfar Chouba near the Chebaa Farms, following the bulldozer attack. Israeli officials said the Hezbollah strike was the group's third in the area in eight days.

The attacks include a Jan. 9 Hezbollah roadside bombing that killed an Israeli soldier. Israeli artillery retaliation killed a French officer serving with the United Nations and wounded a Swedish officer and a Lebanese man. A Hezbollah fighter also was killed.

Hezbollah issued a statement later Monday saying the bulldozer bombing was in retaliation for "repeated Israeli aggression," claiming Israeli artillery gunners have shelled the area numerous times recently.

The Lebanon-Israel border has been largely quiet since Israel withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000 after an 18-year occupation.

But Hezbollah, who took control of the Lebanese border areas, has occasionally attacked Israeli troops in the Chebaa Farms area where the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel meet.

Lebanon, backed by Syria, claims the area. Israel captured the territory when its forces seized Syria's Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war before annexing the area. The UN says the region is Syrian and that Syria and Israel should negotiate its fate.

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Sharon aide: Abbas has limited time
Tuesday 18 January 2005, 11:59 Makka Time, 8:59 GMT

Israel will give new Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas a limited amount of time to allow him to crack down on resistance groups, a source close to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said.

"We are according Abu Mazin (Abbas) a limited delay to let him decide whether to fight against terrorism," the source said on Tuesday.

"If he does not change the rules of the game, then the Palestinians will pay an enormous price." [...]

Israeli army radio reported on Monday that chief of staff Moshe Yaalon had demanded that plans be drawn up for a large-scale land operation in Gaza if attacks continue.

"As the elected president, he must choose whether to remain hostage to the terrorists and do nothing or to decide to act against them."

The official said that Abbas could decide to deploy "30,000 armed men in the areas of the Gaza Strip where the terrorists fire rockets and mortar shells against Israeli territory or the settlements".

Palestinian security sources say they have received orders from Abbas for intensive deployments of security forces around the border crossings in Gaza into Israel.

Comment: A limited amount of time? There has been no time because the leaders of Israel have no intention of making peace with the Palestinians. It is all games for the international media and the American public to present a façade of reasonability. But it is just that: a façade. The Israeli leaders are killers who think the Palestinians are not even human.

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32 Chinese stowaways found in container in Los Angeles
18 January 2005 0332 hrs

LOS ANGELES : Thirty-two Chinese stowaways were found in two cargo containers in Los Angeles after surviving a nearly two-week ocean journey from Hong Kong, officials said.

The 32 would-be illegal immigrants were taken into custody on Saturday after a crane operator in Los Angeles port spotted three men climbing out of a hole cut in the side of a container, police said.

The containers with the men inside were loaded onto the ship two weeks ago in Shekou, China, police said. The men were in good health, officials said.

The stowaways, all men, had equipped the containers with supplies and ventilation to allow them to survive the perilous journey across the Pacific Ocean, said Los Angeles Port Police Lieutenant Titus Smith said.

"They had ventilation holes cut into the bottom of the container. They had a fan system set up that ran on batteries, they had ample food and water, juices, sleeping bags," he said.

The group of 28 adults and four teenagers lived inside two 40-foot long shipping containers, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The men were aboard the ship NYK Athena, but police said that it did not appear that the vessel's crew was aware of their illegal passengers, Smith added.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are investigating the stowaways pending a decision on their fate and will work with Chinese authorities to repatriate them.

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Trains crash in Bangkok's new subway, 100 injured
17 January 2005 1158 hrs

Bangkok's new subway shut down for a week after train crash
BANGKOK : Two trains on Bangkok's six-month-old subway system crashed during the morning rush hour Monday, injuring around 100 people and forcing authorities to suspend services, officials and witnesses said.

The accident happened around 9:30 am (0230 GMT), when a train headed to the country's main rail hub Hua Lam Pong was leaving Thailand's cultural center station, Major General Dusitsan Teraphat, Bangkok's deputy police commissioner, told Thai television.

The train loaded with some 700 passengers was hit from behind by a second train that was empty, he said.

"Initial reports said almost 100 people were injured. Police and authorities rescued all passengers from the train," Dusitsan said. [...]

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False tsunami warning sparks mass panic in Chile
Last Updated Mon, 17 Jan 2005 16:33:30 EST
CBC News

CONCEPCION, CHILE - Three young men who ran along a Chilean beach shouting a false warning that a tsunami was on its way sent thousands of panicked people scrambling for the hills Monday.

The stunt – carried out at about 2 a.m. on a beach in the southern city of Concepcion – was a "bad joke," said the regional governor, Rodrigo Diaz.

He said as many as 12,000 people fled their homes in fear of a tsunami like the one that killed more than 150,000 people in Indian Ocean countries three weeks ago.

TV broadcasts from the city – Chile's third largest – showed crowds of people running through the streets toward nearby hills.

Others toppled off overcrowded cars and trucks as they tried to escape the city 500 kilometres south of the capital Santiago.

Many people were taken to hospital with symptoms of shock, and police reported a number of traffic accidents.

Hours after the false alarm, some people remained in the hills around the city despite the governor's appeals that they return home.

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Terror warning as tsunami toll tops 175,000
(Filed: 17/01/2005)

The United Nations has increased security for its workers in Indonesia's Aceh province following a Danish government warning of "imminent" terror attacks.
 
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has added a further 7,275 people to its death toll, taking the country's total to more than 38,000 and raising the overall figure for the Boxing Day disaster beyond 175,000.

"The U.N. security team in Banda Aceh has today instructed all UN staff to observe a heightened awareness and take all security precautions necessary," said Christian Berthiaume, Geneva spokeswoman for the United Nations' World Food Program.

The UN acted following a warning from the Danish foreign ministry that rescue workers and troops in Aceh are at risk from terror attacks.

Niels Erik Andersen, a Danish Foreign Ministry official, said: "We have received information from sources abroad that somebody would be planning an attack today."

Indonesia's foreign minister dismissed the report as an "unfounded rumour". [...]

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South Asia 'Hit by New Tsunami Within 50 Years'
By Andrew Woodcock, PA Political Correspondent
7:35am (UK)
Another earthquake and tsunami can be expected to strike the area of south Asia devastated on Boxing Day within the next 50 years, a British Government minister warned today. [...]

Mr Thomas told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “It is about trying to get better early warning systems in place, not least because we think there will be another earthquake and possibly another tsunami in the same part of the world at some point in the next 50 years.

“Obviously, we want to be better prepared for that.

“Also, we know that an average of 60,000 people die a year from natural disasters. Many of those lives could be saved, not only if there were better early warning systems in place, but also if countries were better able to respond to these disasters.”

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EDITORIAL:If a quake hits Tokyo
The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 17(IHT/Asahi: January 18,2005)

More steps are needed to prevent a catastrophe. Tokyo is the political and business center of Japan. If the capital is hit hard by a great earthquake, it will not only devastate the country as a whole but would also seriously affect world affairs.

At 6 p.m. on a winter day, the areas around Shinjuku in Tokyo where skyscrapers are concentrated will be overflowing with people. Traffic jams will fill up the roads, and trains will be packed to their fullest capacity. What would happen if an earthquake took place under such conditions?

If a quake with an intensity of upper 6 on the Japanese scale of 7 hit the area inside the Yamanote railway loop line, people would be unable to stand as they are pushed upward by the buckling ground. Ramshackle buildings would collapse and broken windows would rain shards of glass on the people below.

Residents will try to shut off their gas, but will they be able to do so in time? An estimated 180,000 houses and other buildings would collapse in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, including practically all the old homes, because of trembling and liquefaction of the ground.

About 4,000 people will have died by this stage.

But then fires would spread from the destroyed buildings. About 40,000 people will be trapped inside buildings or under fallen furniture. Some 610,000 houses and other structures will burn down and 8,000 people will die in the blazes. The combined total of the death toll would reach 12,000.

Where should people dive for cover? Even if they survive the quake, they will be thrown into chaos. Mobile phones will not work and millions of stranded people who cannot go home will have to spend the night in a pitch-dark city.

This is the picture that the government's Central Disaster Management Council draws if Tokyo is hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale.

Many think the destruction will be much greater. [...]

The Tokyo metropolitan area has not been hit by a large earthquake in the 82 years since the Great Kanto Earthquake. But we cannot rely on good luck indefinitely.


Sharon aide: Abbas has limited time
Tuesday 18 January 2005, 11:59 Makka Time, 8:59 GMT

Israel will give new Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas a limited amount of time to allow him to crack down on resistance groups, a source close to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said.

"We are according Abu Mazin (Abbas) a limited delay to let him decide whether to fight against terrorism," the source said on Tuesday.

"If he does not change the rules of the game, then the Palestinians will pay an enormous price." [...]

Israeli army radio reported on Monday that chief of staff Moshe Yaalon had demanded that plans be drawn up for a large-scale land operation in Gaza if attacks continue.

"As the elected president, he must choose whether to remain hostage to the terrorists and do nothing or to decide to act against them."

The official said that Abbas could decide to deploy "30,000 armed men in the areas of the Gaza Strip where the terrorists fire rockets and mortar shells against Israeli territory or the settlements".

Palestinian security sources say they have received orders from Abbas for intensive deployments of security forces around the border crossings in Gaza into Israel.

Comment: A limited amount of time? There has been no time because the leaders of Israel have no intention of making peace with the Palestinians. It is all games for the international media and the American public to present a façade of reasonability. But it is just that: a façade. The Israeli leaders are killers who think the Palestinians are not even human.

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BREAKING NEWS: Earthquake hits Northern Japan
Tuesday, January 18, 2005 10:09:23 AM ET
newratings.com

LONDON, January 18 (newratings.com) – The northern Japanese island of Hokkaido was hit Tuesday evening by an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale.

According to the Japanese TV station NHK, the earthquake hit Japan's most northern island at 11:06 pm. There have been no reports of any injuries or damages. Japan’s Meteorological Agency said that there is no danger of tsunamis resulting from the earthquake.

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Earthquake registered off Micronesia
-AFP
Monday, January 17, 2005. 3:31pm (AEDT)

An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale has been detected off the Pacific island group of Micronesia, according to the Hong Kong observatory.

"The epicentre was initially determined to be over the seas of the western part of Micronesia, about 330 kilometres east-northeast of [the island of] Yap," the observatory said in a statement.

The quake, classified in Hong Kong as "severe", was recorded at 6:24 am AEDT, it said.

There were no immediate reports of tsunamis or damage on nearby islands.

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Storm brings flood threat, snow, freezing rain to Washington
Monday, January 17, 2005
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE -- Rain, wind, ice, sleet and snow buffeted Washington on Monday, bringing ice storms to much of the Cascades and Eastern Washington and a threat of serious flooding in the western half of the state.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for the Nooksack, Satsop, Skagit, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Stillaguamish and Tolt rivers in the Puget Sound area, and for the Bogachiel River near La Push and the Skokomish River in Mason County.

Heavy rains were forecast to continue through Wednesday in Western Washington, with up to 10 inches total for the storm in some areas. That could cause major flooding of many rivers, the weather service said. [...]

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BREAKING NEWS: Earthquake hits Northern Japan
Tuesday, January 18, 2005 10:09:23 AM ET
newratings.com

LONDON, January 18 (newratings.com) – The northern Japanese island of Hokkaido was hit Tuesday evening by an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale.

According to the Japanese TV station NHK, the earthquake hit Japan's most northern island at 11:06 pm. There have been no reports of any injuries or damages. Japan’s Meteorological Agency said that there is no danger of tsunamis resulting from the earthquake.

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Arctic Cold Settles Over Northeast, Midwest
By BEN DOBBIN, Associated Press Writer
January 18, 2005

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A deep Arctic freeze refused to relinquish its grip over the Northeast and Midwest early Tuesday, keeping teeth chattering and temperatures at bone-chilling lows.

At least three weekend deaths were blamed on the cold in Michigan.

After a relatively mild winter in the Northeast, brisk winds made it feel as cold as minus-20 degrees in western New York and minus-45 degrees in the Adirondacks in northern New York.

"To some people this is quite a shock, but much of our hardy upstate population is used to this. They knew it would come eventually," Buffalo's chief meteorologist, Tom Niziol, said Monday.

Cold air rushing over Lake Ontario and Lake Erie produced as much as 14 inches of snowfall in ski-resort communities in western and central New York.

Upstate New York "has had a great winter so far — now we're getting the real deal!" James Lattimore said cheerfully as he cleared a half-foot of snow off the pavement in front of his brother's apartment in Rochester's Corn Hill section.

The cold blast will extend through Tuesday, with temperatures spiking as high as 30 degrees Wednesday. "Then we go back into a deep freeze for the end of the week with temperatures not making it out of the teens," Niziol said.

Temperatures were well below normal Tuesday across Michigan, the National Weather Service said. Detroit Metropolitan Airport, where the normal low is 17 degrees, had an early Tuesday reading of 1 degree.

In Michigan's Wayne County, a man in his 50s who was believed to be homeless was found frozen to death Sunday in a grassy area near a sidewalk.

In Oceana County in western Michigan, a 24-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman were found dead Saturday, apparently from carbon monoxide from a propane heater used to heat a trailer.

The frozen body of Kathryn Jeanne Gates was found in Minneapolis on Sunday morning, hours after her motorized scooter tipped over and she was unable to get back up, police said. Overnight temperatures were below zero. An autopsy was planned for Tuesday to determine the cause of death.

On Monday, the mercury in Minnesota flirted with the state's record low. The temperature dropped to 54 degrees below zero in Embarrass — not cold enough for a record, but cold enough to drive homeless people into shelters and cause hundreds of car batteries to fail.

The chill was felt as far south as Florida, where low temperatures Tuesday morning were reported in the high 20s and low 30s for northern Florida.

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Cuba Province of Las Tunas Faces Worst Drought on Record
Jan 17/05 (P26)

Las Tunas, Water reservoirs in Cuba's eastern province of Las Tunas contain a mere 24 percent of their storage capacity —352.9 million cubic meters-, according to the local office of the Institute of Hydraulic Resources.

The entity has warned that if the adverse climatic situation continues it will become much more complicated to supply the vital liquid to the population, as well as the agricultural and industrial sectors.

The severe drought has dealt a serious blow to both farming and ranching. [...]

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