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Deconstructing a Dictator

January 21, 2005

Yesterday, George W. Bush was inaugurated for his second term as President of the United States. We could be forgiven for finding it hard to share in the enthusiasm and joy that his supporters in Washington undoubtedly felt. Knowing what the next four years of his rule will likely mean for the fate of the planet and all its inhabitants, it seems that Bush's speech on Capitol Hill in reality would sound more like a eulogy than a stately Presidential address.

It's difficult at the best of times to understand George's incoherent ramblings, and even though he was not the author of his 2005 Inaugural Address, the editors at Signs of the Times thought it might be helpful if we hired a translator to decipher the deeper meaning behind his words:

Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:

Translation: Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.

Translation: On this day marked by flagrant and unnecessary excess, and while the people of Iraq continue to suffer and die by our hand, we celebrate the material trappings that define our culture. I am grateful for the rigged voting machines of Diebold, the spin doctors in the media, and the Machiavellian tactics of my handler Karl Rove; and with a specious mandate, I'm determined to spend my political capital, now free to do whatever I damn well please.

At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.

Translation: Our duties are not defined by these words written for me, but by the reality that I alone create. For half a century, America has imposed it's will on any third world government that refused to capitulate to it's totalitarian demands. After Communism, there appeared to be years of relative quiet, while our secret undercover intelligence operatives staged successful coup-d'état's and political assassinations, installing ruthless puppet dictators in poorer countries so that we could exploit their people and resources. After years of this tactic, we got tired of operating in secret, and decided to bring the show out into the open by deliberately staging our own day of fire.

We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

Translation: We have taken advantage of our vulnerable citizenry - by exploiting the source of their deepest fears. For as long as recalcitrant regions of the world refuse to bend to America's will - we will accuse them of resentment and tyranny - we will use our agents in the media to endlessly repeat lies about their ideologies of hatred and murder - and the imaginary spectre of a mortal threat - all the while using our own violence and destructive power against them. There is no force in history that can break our reign of fear-mongering and intimidation, nor one that can expose the pretensions of tyrants like myself and my neocon cabinet. We will dash the rewards and hopes of the decent and tolerant, knowing full well that people will choose slavery as long as we can convince them that they are free.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

Translation: We are led by dark and malicious forces that we barely comprehend, but whose conclusions we will blindly follow to the bitter end. The survival and success of their nefarious agenda increasingly depends on continued invasion and occupation of other lands. The best hope for all out apocalyptic war in our world is the relentless expansion of American hegemony in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.

Translation: The interests of the neocon/Zionist alliance, now in control in America, in manipulating the deepest fears of the populace are now one. From the day of our founding, we have prattled on about rights, freedoms and dignity, while at the same time acting to ensure that nothing of the sort should ever become reality. We invoke the name of Jehovah/Yahweh at every opportunity so that the faceless multitudes should cower and tremble upon hearing his name. We peddle the lie of self-government while we wholly govern everything about you, we take it upon ourselves to become your masters because you so willingly agree to become our slaves. Advancing the interests of the wealthy and ruling elite is the mission that created our nation, paid for by the blood and sweat of your fathers. Once again we invoke the illusion of security so that you may all offer your sons and daughters as cannon fodder in the upcoming war to end all wars. It is the urgent calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

Translation: Watch out Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and all you other Middle Eastern nations, what is happening in Iraq will soon be happening to you. It is the ultimate goal of spreading American tyranny throughout your land, and inevitably engaging the entire world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

Translation: This is primarily a task of arms, as in testing the latest warfare technology on innocent civilians in developing nations, and we will use this force of arms indiscriminately and without provocation while saying that we are acting in our own defense. Freedom, by it's nature, must be believed by those we wish to enslave, they must believe that they choose it willingly, and thus can be easily coerced into defending their slavery, even at the cost of their own lives. And when a nation, or more accurately a nation's leader, doesn't have a soul, it's institutions, customs and traditions will reflect this absence. America has always imposed it's own style of totalitarianism, especially on the unwilling. It's goal is to plunder and decimate their people and resources, quell the voice of dissent, help other nations attain their own slavery, and imprison and kill those who would speak the truth or stand in it's way.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.

Translation: The ruling elite know full well that the implementation of global tyranny is the work of many generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for publicizing it, for it's success is dependent on it's secrecy. Now that I have been given a second mandate, America's influence is practically unlimited, which is fortunate for us, but most unfortunate for the world's oppressed, because our version of freedom, as seen in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, is about to be imposed on the world at large.

My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.

Translation: My most solemn duty is to disguise my true intentions, and keep repeating blatant lies about further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to question my fundamentalist belief system and found it to be rigid and dogmatic.

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

Translation: I always speak in simplistic dualisms, like either you are with us or against us. And I mean it when I say every ruler and every nation better heed my words because the runaway freight train of American-style democracy will soon be battering down your doors. The American government will spare no effort to ensure that all dissidents, foreign and domestic, will end up in chains, and that the soldiers in my army will inflict the maximum amount of humiliation and servitude upon any men and women unfortunate enough to be labeled as enemy combatants - because when you strip away my facade of kindness and compassion, I am nothing more than an arrogant bully.

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

Translation: We will continue to propagate whatever lies we like about other governments and how they treat their own people in order to justify future military action. America's contempt for human dignity will continue to guide our policies, and we will only grudgingly pay lip-service to the notion of "rights" because we must hide the fact that we are really a bunch of petty dictators; our fear of dissent is only matched by our overwhelming scorn for the people we govern. And as long as I'm in power, there will be no justice, no freedom, no human rights, and no human liberty.

Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Translation: Some, I know, have questioned my psychopathic rantings, though as Adolf Hitler, my mentor in history, used to say: A good dictator can never allow any sort of doubt. Americans, of all people, are not likely to wake up to the bubble of illusion that I have surrounded them with. Even though fascism will emerge right before their eyes, they will not accept the truth of my permanent tyranny and the high probability of their permanent slavery. For pain and suffering will come to those who fear it most and are aware of it least.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:
All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Translation: Today, America spouts the same tired rhetoric to the peoples of the world: All who live in fear of my tyranny shall be filled with hopelessness: the United States will augment your oppression, facilitate your oppressors. When you try to stand up for your liberty, we will shoot you down like dogs and label you "insurgents".

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

Translation: Democratic reformers who are repressed, in prison or in exile can know for certain: America sees what you are trying to do: and our future leaders will make sure you stay that way.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

Translation: The rulers of nations that we define as outlaw regimes can know that we will quote from any dead former President if it serves our ends. Even though the words of Abraham Lincoln apply more to us than any other country, it won't stop us from seeing this sick and twisted charade to its final conclusion.

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.
And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.

Translation: The leaders of governments who desire to emulate America's long habit of control need to know: To serve your people you must first capitulate to our will. Start on this journey of fear-mongering and intimidation and America will walk behind you with a smile on it's face and a knife at your back. And all the allies of the United States can know: your subservience will be rewarded, and even though we don't give a whit about your counsel and help, stick with us long enough and you may share in the spoils of our campaign of terror. Divide and conquer is our modus operandi. The unilateral effort of the world's greatest superpower will snuff out any chance of true democracy, and ensure whoever we label as an enemy will ultimately be defeated.

Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:
From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.

Translation: Today, I also regurgitate the same tired rhetoric to my loyal serfs and chattel: From all of you I have demanded your total obedience and unwavering sacrifice of your young in the name of national security, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has waged an unnecessary, illegal and immoral war half a world away, whose obligations become more and more difficult to fulfill. But despite the ever-growing number of dead, and because I declare that it would be dishonourable to abandon this task, we may need to reinstate the military draft in the near future. Yet because the lives of the common folk are so insignificant to our plans for global domination, tens of millions have achieved a premature exit from this earthly plane. And if all goes according to plan, tens of millions more will be sacrificed before my bloodlust is satiated. By the efforts of a powerful and sinister few, we have lit the entire world on fire, a fire we hope will engulf every nation and every person in its all-consuming wrath. It warms the fireplaces of my heavily guarded fortress, it burns to a cinder everyone else who is unfortunate enough not to be me, and one day this untamed fire of my God's aggression will encompass all four corners of the globe.

A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy ... the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments ... the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.

Translation: A few American and Israeli secret service agents have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and black-ops ... the undercover work of creating the most spectacular false-flag operation in all of history ... the stupendous feat of undertaking a new Pearl Harbour ... infiltrating and bypassing the most fortified defenses in the world by hijacking four jumbo jets and crashing them into buildings on September 11, 2001 ... and to top it all off, blaming the entire operation on a group of cave dwelling radicals in a country we had already planned to invade years earlier. They have shown their devotion to the ruling elite by sacrificing the lives of 3,000 innocent people, and shall be honoured their whole lives - and my masters will always be grateful, for none of this would have been possible without them.

All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.

Translation: Thanks to the media, all Americans were witness to this horrible spectacle, most for the umpteenth time. I ask our youngest citizens to unquestioningly believe the "official version" even if the evidence contradicts their very eyes. You have seen the lengths of depravity we will go to ensure that our agenda is finally realized. You have seen that life is fragile, believed that the illusion is real, and ensured that evil triumphs. You've blindly made the default choice to serve a cause antithetical to the truth, a choice that favours entropy, one that is at odds with the higher part of yourself - and in these last days you will add not just to the demise of your country, but indeed to revealing its true character.

America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.

Translation: America depends on illusory idealism and rabid nationalism, because there is still much work to be done at home - the unfinished work of preparing the hypnotized populace for economic meltdown and the imposition of martial law. In a world moving toward greater polarization, myself and the powers that be are determined to use your unwavering faith in our "high moral character" to show the real world effects of giving away your free will to small group of greedy psychopathic madmen.

In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.

Translation: In the American version of freedom and democracy, citizens find great comfort and security in these lofty ideals, content with the material trifles of fast food and electronic gadgets, falsely believing themselves to be economically independent, all the while their entire financial system is on the verge of collapse. While the majority remains sleepily content and thinks freedom is being able to choose between different brands of carbonated sugar water, my government can then enact such draconian laws as the Homeland Security and Patriot Acts without a whisper of protest. My latest tour-de-force is to pilfer what is left of Social Security under the guise of "reform" in order to fuel my insatiable war machine. I will continue to feed you lies about having a stake in the future of our country, the high standards of our schools, and about building an ownership society. I will distract your attention away from the carnage in Iraq by talking about retirement savings, health insurance and a free society, all the while putting your sons and daughters on the battlefield in harms way with outdated equipment, and cutting their benefits when they return home either maimed or in a box. By convincing every citizen that they are indeed a master of their own destiny, when exactly the opposite is true, by motivating them with fear, bread and circuses, bankrupting society, lining my own pockets, and spouting trite slogans about prosperity, justice and equality, we will fill our fellow Americans with pride when they willingly sacrifice themselves for the fatherland, all the while dreaming that they are free.

In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Translation: In America's illusory ideal of freedom, the private interest depends entirely on the suggestibility of the public - on the false integrity of their egos coupled with a deep intolerance towards others, and their willingness to be ruled by those in positions of authority. We will continue to govern and control you by repeating the lie that you in fact govern yourselves. I will invoke the names of all three monotheistic religions to give the appearance of fairness, but we all know which one I've been talking to directly, which of course is the only one true God. Americans continue to stagnate in every generation, repeating the same mistakes of the those who came before - ignoring the truth of a grand inter-generational conspiracy which ensures that the keeper of my DNA will always be the one to sit upon the throne, while your descendants continue to live in squalor and do my dirty work. This is the true reality of justice in America as it was the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.

Translation: In America's illusory ideal of freedom, the only rights the weak have is to do service for those in power. The only mercy I will show, like I did when executing people as governor of Texas, will indeed be a reflection of the true nature of my heart. Liberty for all is another hypnotic phrase which is essentially meaningless given the reality of our disparate social positions, and talk of interdependence, the worthiness of the unwanted and neighbourly love are designed specifically to manipulate your emotions and direct away from the fact that judging by my past behaviour, deep down inside, I am racist and a bigot too.

From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?

Translation: I can say whatever meaningless gobbledygook my speechwriters put on these cards as long as it has the words "freedom" and "character" in it, knowing the sheeple will lap it up.

These questions that judge us also unite us, because Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes - and I will strive in good faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.

Translation: I am a uniter and all terrorists are dividers. I am a great healer for the wound that was inflicted upon us, because of my special relationship with that booming authoritarian voice in my head. I put my hand over my heart in a symbolic act of false piety, hopefully engendering feelings of pride and unity in my subordinates. Again, I'll make subtle reference to 9/11, and those poor victims of our deliberate attack upon ourselves, so as to remind all my slavish supporters that them evil terrorists are now on every street corner and under every bed. I'll throw in a couple more "freedoms" and "justice" because it looks like I'm getting near the end of this speech.

We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.

Translation: I am now confident with my Texan swagger and direct connection to the Almighty that I can wage war indiscriminately and with abandon, as the Good Lord has promised me a heavenly reward should I fulfill His mandate of wiping out all the brown-skinned people who stand in His way on the path to absolute and total dominion over this dark planet. God has chosen ME to usher in these end times, to fill up the hole in His blackest of souls, to feed the hunger that gnaws at His gut. I'm George W. Bush, and I am on a mission for the Author of this reality. This is my destiny. Better throw in a couple more "liberty's" and freedoms", just to be sure.

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

Translation: By invoking the sentimentality of American history ingrained into each citizen by repeated indoctrination in the education system, once again I reaffirm by explicit intentions to bomb the hell out of any country that so much as looks at me the wrong way. Amen.

May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.

Translation: ...who's the most evil of them all.

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The Eve of Destruction

George Bush is getting four more years to remake the world in his image. (Too bad for us, he already started.)

by Rick Perlstein
Village Voice
January 18th, 2005 2:37 PM

You might wonder—were you someone unfamiliar with or in denial about the ways of the Karl Rove Mafia—how George W. Bush could blunder into nominating someone as attorney general so obviously implicated in the most legally questionable and morally indefensible practices of his administration. You might wonder, too, how the administration seemed to be caught unawares by the bottomless pit of scandal in the past of its initial nominee for Homeland Security secretary.

Or you could realize that such nominations were not blunders, but intentional: that they were made not in spite of Alberto Gonzales's and Bernard Kerik's unsuitability for high office but precisely because of them. Keeping embarrassing facts on file about confederates is the best way to grip them into loyalty like a vise.

It would seem an incredible notion to contemplate, until you examine who it was Bush chose to replace Kerik once his nomination fell through: Michael Chertoff, who as assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's criminal division engineered the plan to preventively detain immigrants of Arab descent after 9-11. In 2003, the Justice Department's own inspector general warned that the program raises serious legal liability questions, and Justice Department officials apparently recommended that Chertoff hire a lawyer. Now he's been promoted. Sopranos fans will recognize the maneuver: Taking someone with skeletons in his closet close to your breast is just like Tony's embrace of the apparently upstanding suburban New Jersey sporting goods dealer with the secret gambling addiction, specifically to have someone to pick clean when the necessity arose.

Forcing a guy who knows he's dirty but knows his bosses are dirtier to sweat out a congressional hearing is a perfect way to test his loyalty. It's also a great way to test Congress's mettle—to probe just how atrophied the opposition party's willingness to oppose has become. What's more, once you've got them through the ordeal, you've stockpiled one more scapegoat to toss into the fire in case Congress ever gets hot on the trail of the higher-ups who issued the orders. And it establishes a record for a future defense: Once Congress has confirmed a Gonzales or a Chertoff, how can it then turn around and call the things done by a Gonzales or a Chertoff unlawful?

Then there's the implicit dare, which frames the issue in the administration's favor whether they "win" or "lose" the proximate fight: Go ahead, Democrats, make our day. Vote against them. Then we can show you up as the obstructionists to America's national security you are.

The administration may even have made plans for when the bottom drops out—for when the inevitable indictable offenses see the light of day. That's where Alberto Gonzales, White House über-loyalist, comes in. Formally, any investigation of a federal criminal offense is conducted by the Justice Department, and no indictment can go forward without Gonzales's say-so. Under the old set of rules, we might have been able to count on political pressure to force the appointment of a special prosecutor, as occurred in the investigation of the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name to the media. But that's exactly the set of rules this gang has set its sights on upending.

Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea, welcome to the Next Four Years: to George Walker Bush's revolutionary second term, where nothing is done by accident, and no sin can be too brazen.

"For the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win . . . "

That phrase is a gun, and it's smoking. Written by Karl Rove deputy Peter Wehner in a leaked memo, it establishes as intention what administration officials have heretofore been most eager to cover up. What the Republican Party failed to do 60 years ago is to stop any federal program of guaranteed old-age insurance from existing. Social Security established a principle unacceptable to many Republicans: that government economic programs help people, and can become wildly popular. Now, however, Wehner writes, "We have it within our grasp to move away from dependency on government. . . . We can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of our country."

The smoking gun isn't pointed just at your grandmother.

When Americans have at a minimum almost a third of their retirement contribution in corporate investments—we now send 6.2 percent of our income to Social Security, and Bush's plan would have us putting four of those 6.2 points into the stock market—we will all be part of, in the apparently benign coinage of Republican propagandist Grover Norquist, the "investor class."

Blogger Nick Stoller describes the consequences thus:

"When someone like Eliot Spitzer uncovers a major corporate scandal, a Republican will be able to say, 'He's attacking your retirement fund.'

"When the employees of a company try to unionize, a Republican will be able to say, 'They are attacking your retirement fund.' " (He will also be able to say they are attacking their own retirement fund.)

"When a community refuses to let a Wal-Mart build in their neighborhood, a Republican will be able to say, 'They're attacking your retirement fund.' "

Environmental regulations will be framed as an attack on your retirement fund. Liability law, too. Corporate taxes, certainly. Maybe even, someday, child labor laws (that's the brazenness: Conservatives never shy from putting forth agendas that seemed unimaginable a year ago). People will presume it is in their interest for the companies in which they hold a temporary position to goose their stock no matter the long-term cost to the corporation, to our institutions, to society as a whole—no matter the long-term cost for all the other classes we belong to, as consumers, as workers, as citizens. All but a tiny group of big-ticket investors would benefit far more on a net basis, as they do now, from the maintenance of a strong welfare state. No matter: The propaganda may prove irresistible.

Breaking Social Security is central to passing Bush's "tax reforms," which will remove taxes on investment income and shift the tax burden to wage earners who can't afford to save any money—thereby creating newly outraged tax-hating constituencies bent on decimating government's legitimacy yet further. Absent unrelenting Democratic resistance, in fact, the next four years will establish the leverage to fulfill another of Grover Norquist's coinages: to get the federal government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

That's just how the Bushies do things: They plan. Every action is calculated to set in motion a cascade of consequences, to change the world. Take "No Child Left Behind," the education "reform" so brilliantly named you can't be against it without betraying some perverse desire to, well, leave children behind. It is a stone hustle, meant to lay the groundwork to destroy the entire American public school system.

Look at it this way. You've heard of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, the one that produces those anguished news reports every four years about all the countries American schoolchildren lag behind in basic skills. But according to the TIMSS, if Minnesota were a country, it would have the second-best science scores and the seventh best in math. By No Child Left Behind's statutorily required benchmarks of "Adequate Yearly Progress," however, only 42 percent of Minnesota fourth-graders were proficient in math. And NCLB's test targets increase every year. So by one estimate, in 2014, some 80 percent of the schools in Minnesota's world-class education system will be rated "failures."

The benchmarks are insane, you see. If one group within a school out of the 37 categories NCLB measures "fails," the entire school does. Which means, according to the president of the American Educational Research Association, 12th-graders should be proficient in math in exactly 166 years.

Which serves the administration's purpose admirably. Failure, glorious failure: In Chicago, the city must now offer 200,000 students the chance to move out of "failed" schools—but there are only 500 spaces in which to place them elsewhere. So now the public school system must be destroyed.

It's only politics. It was the first George Bush who tried to initiate the privatization of American education but failed; in 2000, Michigan and California pro-voucher ballot initiatives lost by at least two to one. But that was back when 43 percent of American parents gave their children's schools a grade of "A" or "B." By 2004, that number was cut in half. "The tests mandated by NCLB had ripped back the curtain and exposed a major national problem," explains Phyllis Schlafly—even, apparently, in noble Minnesota.

The money has already begun changing hands. "Classroom methods long believed to work are tossed out in favor of those that a few selected groups have tested and approved," The Nation recently reported in a story buried—it's hard to get people to pay attention—on the magazine's website. Bush's multibillion-dollar reading grants, the weekly found, are doled out by "a panel that includes many people with ties to various commercial curriculums."

Public education "is an ossified government monopoly," explains conservative intellectual Chester Finn. So it is time to drown it in the bathtub.

The fantasy of total control has emerged as central to the Bush administration imagination. It comes out in the unguarded utterances: the aide who blurts to a New York Times reporter that he was just one more sad-sack member of the "reality-based community." ("That's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.") The president demanding during the Iraq debate to congressional leaders, "Look, I want your vote. I'm not going to debate it with you." A White House aide, to a congregation of Pentecostal ministers, the "current government is engaged in cultural, economic, and social struggle on every level."

It shows up in the tautological narcissism of Bush's National Security Strategy document, which actually uses the phrase "the best defense is a good offense," and artfully constructs a vision in which whatever the United States does to preserve its interest is always already "peaceful," even when it requires war, is always already "democratic," even when it requires installing governments by fiat, is always already selfless, even as it establishes only two categories of states, those who cooperate and those who do not, in a situation of crisis defined unilaterally and whose time horizon stretches to infinity.

"In the new world we have entered," it avers, "the only path to peace and security is the path of action." The manifesto takes on ominous overtones when read alongside the famous post-9-11 draft Pentagon report that establishes a royalist conception of "sweeping" executive power as the only way to keep us safe: because "national security decisions require the unity in purpose and energy in action to characterize the presidency rather than Congress."

"Unity in Purpose, Energy in Action"—more than one commentator has noted its resemblance to slogans of fascist movements throughout history.

And of course out of fantasies of perfect control have always sprung the world's greatest human catastrophes. There will always be things even the most energetic executive cannot come even close to controlling. Conservatives used to warn us about the dangers of such utopianism—of the unintended consequences of hubristic attempts to "socially engineer" brave new worlds conjured in the heads of liberal intellectuals. Now Americans are once again learning that lesson, but the perpetrators are . . . conservatives.

And their utopia, heaven help them, is Iraq.

What comes next there? For the subject who fantasizes total control, chaos is only an injunction to more radically confident maneuvers that enlarge the struggle for control. As always, the parallel is Vietnam. "The administration's reluctance to recognize the Iraqi resistance as largely homegrown pushes it to exaggerate the role of foreign terrorists, to blame anti-American feeling on meddlers from abroad," which spells expansion of the conflict into Syria and Iran, according to Thomas Powers in The New York Review of Books. A "radical map change," he convincingly speculates, this American encirclement of the world's productive oil resources could unify all our present allies against us in a conflict that "might last fifty years."

The next four years? Anticipate another possible terrorist attack, certainly. Tommy Thompson, leaving his post as secretary of Health and Human Services, used his newfound freedom to wonder aloud why his bosses hadn't done anything to prevent an attack on "our food supply, because it's so easy to do." The EPA said an attack on any of 123 chemical plants would threaten over a million people—then the Department of Homeland Security took over the job, changed the measurements, and found that only two would do that. The chemical industry gives a hell of a lot of money to the Republicans.

Although the wholesale collapse of the American economy would be worse. Nikita Khrushchev used to call the divided city of Berlin, because of its military strategic value, "the testicles of the West," which he only need squeeze to make America scream. Now the testicles of the U.S. are the billions of dollars of American currency held in reserve by countries that do not necessarily wish us well, like China—in effect, it's the money we borrow to keep our economy afloat. China is one of those countries that would likely object to our encirclement of the world's petroleum supplies. Soon enough, China's oil demand will approach our own. If Beijing chooses to call in its loans to us and make the dollar a worthless currency, sensible folks might be looking for someone to impeach. Would Bush's kept Congress be able to do the job?

At that pass, reflects John Dean, Richard Nixon's legal counsel, who served time for Watergate, "only the attorney general can select a special counsel to prosecute." Which takes us back to the beginning, and last week's hearings." As attorney general," Dean says, "Gonzales can resist any and all efforts to prosecute high officials of the Bush administration, absent photographs of Dick Cheney choking Condi Rice and dangling her off the Memorial Bridge for messing with his policies."

Welcome to the eve of destruction.

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Flags, Cops and F-16s
Coronation in the Garrison State
January 20, 2005

The Bush inauguration is designed to shock the American public into noticing the fundamental changes within the government. Like Guantanamo, it is intended to be more symbolic than substantive. The event is a means of acclimating people to the seismic shift in the basic structure of the state. The administration has taken the country from Republic to National Security State in four short years. Now, they're determined to saturate the public consciousness with that new reality.

The presence of 4,000 fully-armed policemen, many in riot-gear, will be the first thing that most people notice. Security has never been tighter even though there's no indication of a terrorist threat. This unnecessary show of force isn't a sign of paranoia on the part of the administration. It's a political calculation to discourage dissent. The excessive demonstration of power is exactly what the inauguration architects had in mind. It's their way of saying, "Get used to it."

The same rule applies to the 2,500 military personnel who will be deployed to the streets of Washington DC. They serve the dual purpose of intimidating the public and celebrating the further militarization of the country.

The police-state transformation of the nation's capital is astonishing. Even the manhole covers have been welded together along the Presidential parade route. No detail, however insignificant, has been ignored in "battening-down" a major metropolitan area. The armed contingents of roaming soldiers and the familiar trappings of Martial Law should remind us of ceremonials in banana republics; the apparent model for the Bush inaugural grand-opera. According to the Associated Press, the capital has readied itself, "with rooftop snipers, missile batteries, bomb-sniffing dogs, high-tech monitors and miles of metal barricades Coast Guard cutters are on duty in the Potomac River, while customs aircraft and other surveillance flights are in the skies above the city. Sophisticated sensors to detect chemical, radiological or biological material are in place," and, "Canine bomb-sniffing squads, bicycle patrols and crowd control units also are at the ready Hour by hour the city of grand buildings and marble statues disappears behind curtains of steel security fences and concrete barriers."

"Disappears behind curtains of steel?" Or, was that an Iron Curtain?
No matter, the accoutrements of despotism are forever the same; the little man with grand aspirations followed by legions of armed goons. The pageantry of militarism is unalterable; men in suits or starched uniforms waving white hankies from a lofty plateau as the missile launchers and tanks trundle by below.

Who said it can't happen here?

In the "Garrison State" the speeches reflect the values of its leaders. We should expect another dose of Messianic braying from the Bush pulpit; more incendiary taunting of imaginary enemies, more Simian chest-pounding over fabricated victories; more saccharine praise of our valiant military. And, of course, throughout the speech, the buzz-words that arouse the Christian faithful to near frenzy; knowing that one of their own occupies the thrown.

It's all gibberish, but the underlying factoids are quite real. The State and Corporate America have linked-together in a conjugal embrace; there's not a hairs-breadth between the two of them. While the corporate warriors are inside lining up at the public trough, the military is busy keeping the plain-folk at bay. The essential message is hard to ignore.

Still, White House press secretary, Scott McClellan reminds us that we should try, "to enjoy and celebrate this great American tradition particularly during the time of war that we are in."

Oh, yeah; that "great American tradition" of deploying troops on our city streets to bully and intimidate the public.

Who does McClellan think he's kidding?

As the F-16 fighters screech overhead and the helicopters click by with there ultra-sonic sensors pointed at the people below, how many Americans will be celebrating the "Bush Mandate" with a bottle of "bubbly" and a Texas style Bar-B-Q; and how many will simply be stunned by a flag-waving spectacle reminiscent of the Munich rallies.

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Thousands Protest Bush's Inauguration
By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer
Fri Jan 21, 4:45 AM ET

Thousands of people in dozens of cities across the nation walked out of work and school, held mock coronations, intoned the names of the Iraq war dead and held candlelight vigils to show their disapproval of President Bush as he was sworn in for his second term.

From Bridgewater, Mass., to San Francisco, the protesters carried a similar message Thursday, deploring the war in Iraq, angry about the Patriot Act and concerned about the next four years.

"The administration thinks it's got a mandate to continue its policies," said David Williams, a 49-year-old construction company owner from Oakland, Calif., who wore a T-shirt to the San Francisco march with Bush's picture and the description, "International Terrorist."

"This is my way of saying, 'I don't think so.' The Bush administration has no respect for human rights outside the United States and they have no respect for people anywhere else in the world," he said.

Crowds were larger than organizers expected in some communities — more than 1,500 people took to the streets of New Orleans in a "jazz funeral of democracy," an event that took on the appearance of a lugubrious Mardi Gras ball, a raucous street protest, Halloween freak show and traditional New Orleans jazz funeral rolled into one.

About 1,000 people rallied in Seattle, more than 2,000 in Portland, Ore., and several thousand gathered in downtown San Francisco, where protesters waved signs and carried banners with slogans such as "Not Our President," "Drop Bush Not Bombs," and "Hail To The Thief."

There were dozens of smaller rallies, marches and walkouts as well. Two hundred protesters filled a city block marching through downtown Atlanta, 150 marched on the state capitol in Lincoln, Neb., and in Denver, several hundred demonstrators were joined at the state Capitol by a group of women wearing witches' hats who chanted "We've been under a spell." The crowd cheered when they added "But we are waking up."

In Santa Cruz, Calif., about 250 marchers followed a 20-foot-tall Statue of Liberty puppet to the Town Clock in a demonstration where former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern was the featured speaker.

Many demonstrators said the protests were galvanizing, a way to motivate anti-Bush activists.

"We need to build a massive movement for change in this country because it's going to be a bleak four years," said Margo Polley, an organizer with Not in Our Name, which sponsored rallies at the federal courthouse in Seattle.

Besides those in Washington, D.C., there were few arrests — one in Seattle, and another in Portland, Ore., where clusters of Bush supporters got into shouting matches with protesters as they marched by. [...]

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Police use pepper spray at Bush inauguration

01/20/2005 16:58

inauguration" pls read headline as "Police use pepper spray at Bush inauguration"

Please read in paragraph 1 ... Police used pepper spray to disperse demonstrators ... instead of ... Police sprayed tear gas to disperse demonstrators...

Please read in paragraph 4 ... saw police use pepper spray against some ... instead of ... saw police use tear gas against some ...

(Police say they used pepper spray and not tear gas).

A corrected story follows.

WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Police used pepper spray to disperse demonstrators who hurled debris and tried to break through a security fence keeping protesters away from President George W. Bush's inaugural parade on Thursday.

Several dozen protesters thronged towards the security fence, lobbing bottles, trash and snowballs at police, witnesses said. More than 100 police officers were at the scene where hundreds of protesters had gathered.

A small group of anti-Bush demonstrators overturned several of the metal security barricades, and a handful of protesters broke through.

Witnesses said they saw police use pepper spray against some of the protesters.

Also along the route towards the White House, protesters set a small fire close to the barricades.

The motorcade sped up as it passed the commotion.

Comment: What's up with the corrections? Was it tear gas or pepper spray? According to Reuters, it was tear gas...

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Police Use Tear Gas at Bush Inauguration
Thu Jan 20, 4:13 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Police sprayed tear gas to disperse demonstrators who hurled debris and tried to break through a security fence keeping protesters away from President Bush's inaugural parade on Thursday.

Several dozen protesters thronged toward the security fence, lobbing bottles, trash and snowballs at police, witnesses said. More than 100 police officers were at the scene where hundreds of protesters had gathered.

A small group of anti-Bush demonstrators overturned several of the metal security barricades, and a handful of protesters broke through.

Witnesses said they saw police use tear gas against some of the protesters.

Also along the route toward the White House, protesters set a small fire close to the barricades.

The motorcade sped up as it passed the commotion.

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Bush Trivia Quiz


Yesterday, as part of their reporting on the offensive spectacle that was Bush's inauguration, Fox News treated its readers to a little trivia quiz about their lord and master.

Fast Facts: Bush Trivia

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A president, a husband, a father and a sports fan are the basic facts most Americans could tell you about George W. Bush. How much more does the country know about its chief executive? Here's a quiz to find out:


1. What is Bush's nickname?

2. What kind of vehicle does Bush drive on his ranch in Crawford, Texas?

3. If you hooked up headphones to Bush's iPod, what music would you hear?

4. What trait does Bush hate?

5. What has Bush banned from the Oval Office?

6. What three states has Bush never visited during his time as president?

7. What state has Bush visited the most? Second most?

We are sure that the above tittilated Fox News readers as much as it did us, but we felt that the scope of the facts presented by Fox did not go far enough. We were concerned that many people would be left with the feeling of wanting to know more indepth details about the leader of the free world. So we complied our own list of Bush trivia quiz questions.

1. On whose orders did George Bush claim that he invaded Iraq?

2. What did one Carlyle Group managing director David Rubenstein say about George Bush's business acumen?

3. What did George Bush say when told of the increasing attacks on and deaths of American military personnel?

4. While Governor of Texas, what did George Bush do in response to the apparently sincere and heartfelt pleas for her life by a woman on death row?

5. What did George Bush do on the morning of September 11th for the first twenty minutes after being told that the WTC had been attacked by terrorists?

6. Who said of Bush's 2000 election "win": "The only way they could win the election was to stop the counting in Florida."?

7. Which person holds the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest against them in public venues?


1. God

2."We put [Bush] on the board and [he] spent three years. Came to all the meetings. Told a lot of jokes. Not that many clean ones. And after a while I kind of said to him, after about three years - you know, I'm not sure this is really for you. Maybe you should do something else. Because I don't think you're adding that much value to the board. You don't know that much about the company.

Rubenstein continued: "He said, well I think I'm getting out of this business anyway. And I don't really like it that much. So I'm probably going to resign from the board. And I said, thanks - didn't think I'd ever see him again. His name is George W. Bush. He became President of the United States. So you know if you said to me, name 25 million people who would maybe be President of the United States, he wouldn't have been in that category.

3. "bring 'em on"

4. He made fun of her by mockingly imitating her plea.

5. Nothing

6. Bill Clinton

7. You know who

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Iran envoy warns Bush against attacks


US President George Bush will cause huge damage to America’s relations with the rest of the world if he launches an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the country’s ambassador to the UK warned today.

Dr Mohammed Hossein Adeli insisted that Iran’s nuclear programme is designed to generate energy for civil purposes, rather than produce fuel for nuclear weapons.

On the day of President Bush’s inauguration in Washington, the ambassador expressed concern about suggestions that the Bush administration may be contemplating military strikes against Iran’s nuclear plants.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that President Bush should think hard about the impact of the Iraqi conflict before embarking on any more foreign adventures.

He said: “The United States should take lessons from its past mistakes, adopt a more responsible attitude and have a more multi-lateral approach towards world issues.

“Waging war against Muslims, disrespecting and ignoring its allies, including the Europeans, only created tension, instability, a less secure world, and created an ocean of mistrust between the US and the rest of the world.

“If they would like to continue launching war against the Muslim world, I don’t think this would do any good to the American image and the American cause.”

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Cheney’s Post Inaugural Message: Israel will Attack Iran

Kurt Nimmo

No sooner was Dick Cheney “sworn in” for a second “term” as vice-CEO of America, Inc., he was off and running, predicting murder and mayhem for the people of Iran. “You look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list,” Cheney told MSNBC. “Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards,” he said.

In fact, what Iran has consistently called for, as have most other Arab nations—and much of the rest of the world—is a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will be acceptable to the Palestinians. “Iran could also make a similar argument, quoting statements by Israeli ministers and officials calling for the extermination of millions of Muslims,” notes Khalid Amayreh, writing for al-Jazeera. Not only Israeli ministers, but their fellow travelers in Washington, the Strausscons, have called for the destruction of Iran. More than anything, what irks the Likudites and the Strausscons is Iran’s support for the Palestinian resistance and also the presence of Hezbollah in Lebanon, also supported by Iran, an organization formed in 1982 after Israel invaded Lebanon. Hezbollah continues to fight Israel over its occupation of Shebaa Farms, stolen from Syria in 1967, which Hezbollah considers part of Lebanon. None of this is ever mentioned by the corporate media, who repeatedly echo the Israelis and the Strausscons, telling us the primary mission of the Arabs and the Iranians is to push the Jews into the sea or in the current context nuke them.

“We don’t want a war in the Middle East if we can avoid it. And certainly in the case of the Iranian situation, I think everybody would be best suited by or best treated and dealt with if we could deal with it diplomatically,” said Cheney, contrary to the stated assertions of the Strausscons, who want to invade, or at least bomb, Iran and Syria. In fact, the Strausscons do “want a war in the Middle East” and have trashed every diplomatic effort proposed.

Cheney is simply telling us how things will unfold: Israel will attack Iran’s nuclear program—at this stage, chimerical at best—and this will be followed up by U.S. attacks since, naturally, Iran will not sit idly by after Israel invades their country. Israel’s plan to invade Iran was sketched out by Israeli military historian Martin Van-Creveld in August of last year. “Writing in the Paris-based International Herald Tribune on 21 August, Creveld opined an Israeli or American (or a joint Israeli-American) attack on Iranian nuclear plants might be carried out before the US November elections,” Khalid Amayreh notes. Of course, this did not happen, since the Israelis and the Strausscons did not want to do anything to endanger the re-coronation of Bush. However, now that Bush has his “political capital” and plans to spend it, we can expect the Israelis to attack Iran and Bush to follow up. In fact, as Seymour Hersh has pointed out, the U.S. is already busy at work “covertly” attacking targets inside Iran. It is not a stretch to assume Israel is doing the same.

“According to analysts, this is the first time a senior official in the U.S. government amplifies the threat by suggesting that the United States could be unable to prevent military attack by its close alley, Israel,” al-Jazeera reports. “There’s a rhetorical escalation here: They’ve ratcheted up the threat level by bringing Israel in,” said Henri J. Barkey, a former State Department official during the Clinton administration. “They’re using the fact of the inauguration, and the uncertainty people have about where they’re going in the next term, to say, ‘Look, we’re not going to let up on Iran.’ “

In short, Job One of Bush’s second “term” is to “deal with” Iran, preferably by way of cruise missiles and depleted uranium. Prior to Cheney’s Inauguration Day threat, Condoleezza Rice, during her Senate confirmation hearings earlier this week, labeled Iran one of six “outposts of tyranny” that “require U.S. attention,” in other words require engineered mass murder and destruction.

Lost in the gushing praise by the corporate media for Bush’s “expansive” and “lyrical” post-inauguration address (as the Washington Post described it) is the fact Bush mentioned that the “United States will not ignore [the] oppression or excuse [of] oppressors” in Iran and North Korea, although he did not mention these countries by name. “When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you” said Bush, addressing Iranian opposition groups, for instance Mujahideen-e-Khalq, supported by the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the US-based monarchists, who pine to bring back the days of the Shah and his SAVAK torture chambers.

It is no secret that the CIA has assisted anti-cleric elements in Iran since the Clinton administration. “This largely consisted of supply of funds for propaganda through radio stations and the Internet. Even now, the CIA’s assistance is confined to these fields. There is as yet no evidence of paramilitary training being imparted to these elements anywhere,” B.Raman wrote in 2003. But as Hersh documents, a lot has changed since 2003. “The CIA was hoping to use Iraqi and Pakistani territory for this purpose. The deterioration in the internal security situation in Iraq has ruled out the use of its territory for the present.” As we now know, and as Hersh points out amid vehement denials by the Bushcons, the U.S. is working with Pakistan to destabilize Iran.

Israel did not pass out antiradiation pills to civilians in townships surrounding its nuclear facilities for the heck of it—they fully expect Iran to retaliate after they attack, more than likely by hitting Dimona, home to one of Israel’s most important nuclear facilities. As Mordechai Vanunu revealed to the world, Israel has a considerable nuclear arsenal, estimated between 200 to 400 warheads. If Israel attacks—more accurately when Israel attacks, probably sooner before later—Iran will attempt to take out as many of these nukes as possible, or at least the Dimona complex.

In essence, this is what Cheney is telling us—Israel will attack Iran, Iran will naturally respond, and this response will be considered an effort to destroy Israel, to push the Jews into the sea, as we are repeatedly told is the desire of all Arabs and Iranians, and this situation will require the United States to protect the tiny and outlaw nation of Israel.

Strausscons far and wide are ecstatic. Cheney has used the inauguration to signal the beginning of World War IV, a dream come true for the Strausscons and the Likudites in Israel. Soon as Bush and the Strausscons can derail diplomatic efforts on the part of Europeans to dissuade the Iranians from continuing their efforts to build a nuclear program, Israel will attack, and America will throw its deadly weight behind the effort.

In due time, all hell will break loose, to the joy of the criminally insane and warmongering Strausscons.

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World fears new Bush era

Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Thursday January 20, 2005
The Guardian

A poll of 21 countries published yesterday - reflecting opinion in Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe - showed that a clear majority have grave fears about the next four years.

Fifty-eight per cent of the 22,000 who took part in the poll, commissioned by the BBC World Service, said they expected Mr Bush to have a negative impact on peace and security, compared with only 26% who considered him a positive force.

The survey also indicated for the first time that dislike of Mr Bush is translating into a dislike of Americans in general. [...]

Aware of the damage that has been done to America's reputation over the war in Iraq and the Kyoto protocol on global warming, the new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, whose appointment was confirmed by the Senate yesterday, promised to try to repair relations with France, Germany and other countries bruised during the first term.

But yesterday's poll pointed to the deep suspicion of Mr Bush that exists across the world. It found that the bulk of people in 18 of the 21 countries surveyed had negative feelings towards the president.

Traditional US allies in western Europe were among those expressing the most negative feelings about the re-election.

In Britain, 64% of those polled said they disagreed with the proposition that the US would have a mainly positive impact on the world. The figures were even higher in France (75%) and Germany (77%).

Mr Bush's victory was viewed positively in only three of the 21 countries: the Philippines, Poland and India.

One of the organisers of the poll, Steven Kull, the director of the Programme on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, said: "This is quite a grim picture for the US."

Another of the organisers, Doug Miller, president of the polling firm GlobeScan, said he had been monitoring trends since the start of 2003 and the figure for those who disagreed that the US was having a mainly positive impact on the world had risen from 46% then to 49% last year, and had now jumped to 58%.

"Our research makes very clear that the re-election of President Bush has further isolated America from the world," he said. "It also supports the view of some Americans that unless his administration changes its approach to world affairs in its second term, it will continue to erode America's good name, and hence its ability to effectively influence world affairs."

Asked how Mr Bush's re-election had effected their feelings towards Americans, 72% of those polled in Turkey said it made them feel worse about Americans, 65% in France, 59% in Brazil and 56% in Germany.

There was also overwhelming opposition to sending troops to Iraq, even among close allies such as Britain.

"Fully one in four British citizens say the Bush re-election has made them more opposed to sending troops to Iraq, resulting in a total of 63% now opposed," Mr Miller said.

The poll was conducted between November 15 and January 3 in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the UK. A separate poll, for the Los Angeles Times, shows Americans are also polarised over the prospect of a second term, including over the conduct of the war in Iraq.

Mr Bush's job approval rating stands at 50%, with 47% disapproving. In recent times, only Richard Nixon at the start of his second term in 1972 recorded poll ratings as poor.

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Israeli troops kill Palestinian boys
Friday 21 January 2005, 1:31 Makka Time, 22:31 GMT  

Israeli occupation troops have shot dead two Palestinian boys - one 14-year-old and the other 13 - in two separate incidents.

In the northern West Bank, 14-year-old Salah al-Din Abu Muhsin was shot as he played with a toy gun he had been given as a present for the Eid holiday, witnesses and medical sources said.

Relatives of the boy said on Thursday that he was with a group of children and youths throwing rocks at the soldiers when he raised a homemade toy gun put together from metal scraps and aimed it at the troops.

A soldier shot the boy, they said, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital in the nearby town of Jenin. An Aljazeera correspondent reported he had been shot in the back.

Confrontations erupted after Israeli military patrols raided the town in the morning, Aljazeera's correspondent said. 

The Israeli military said a large crowd of people had gathered and were beginning to riot when troops spotted what appeared to be an armed man in the crowd and fired.

Rafah killing

Several hours later, a 13-year old Palestinian boy was shot dead in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, while walking with his family during the Eid festival, medics said.

Salah Abu al-Aish was hit in the neck as they passed near the entrance to Rafah's sprawling refugee camp.

The sources said it was not clear why the soldiers opened fire.

An Israeli Army spokesman, however, said soldiers opened fire when they spotted two Palestinians crawling very close to the Tarmit army outpost.

The two deaths raised the overall toll since the September 2000 start of the Palestinian uprising to 4,713, including 3,659 Palestinians and 980 Israelis.

Meanwhile, figthers of the armed resistance group, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, claimed to have killed a suspected Palestinian collaborator in the West Bank.

The 45-year-old man died in a hail of gunfire on a street near Jenin.

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A Reader Responds to Yesterday's Article: "Shooting In Tal Afar"


I forced myself to follow the link to the complete BBC photo slide show and look carefully at ALL the photos. I wanted to know why they hadn't stopped, if they'd had time to stop, and if stopping would have made a difference. Here is what came to me as I examined the photos.

First, we keep seeing references to the "hand signals" used by soldiers to tell drivers to stop, and yet we're still told that some cars of civilians "inexplicably" don't stop. Obviously these hand signals aren't always effective; they aren't always understood. There could be several reasons. In this case, look carefully at the photos, you'll see it's night; it's dark. Perhaps the father (driver) didn't see the hand signals clearly. If he did, perhaps he didn't understand them; perhaps he misinterpreted them, and thought they were actually telling him to pass through.

Secondly, the warning shot. Put yourself in the driver's position; what would be your first reaction to a warning shot? Are you sure you'd even realize what it was? The driver's family was in the car, and he undoubtedly was concerned for them. Also, I think we can safely assume the driver was probably aware of cases of soldiers abusing civilians. So how much time did the driver have to weigh all the consequences? How much time did they give him? How much time would it take to react? Would a few seconds be enough? While we can't be sure of his mind set, the mind set of the shooters is evidenced by the massive firepower they used. Were their actions those of rational people in reasonable control of themselves? Did they, in fact, give the driver enough time to comply?

Thirdly, look at the children who were in the car. Have you ever been in a car with several children in the back seat? I have, and I can assure you kids are often noisy and distracting at the worst possible times. So perhaps there was noise or confusion distracting the driver. Also, it looks to me like there were at least two teenage girls. Their father may have had a visceral reaction, wondering about his (in)ability to protect them from the soldiers if need be. After all, there have been reports of U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi girls.

Finally, try to put yourself "in the moment." Say you're in a car at night with your family and it's dark. You're driving home, discussing something with your wife. Or, perhaps you're tired, your children are misbehaving, and you're annoyed. Suddenly, you find yourself approaching an ad hoc check point (that you didn't expect) manned by an army who is illegally occupying your country. They are known for their brutality, and maybe you've either heard stories or personally know someone who was victimized. They're making gestures at you, but you're not sure what they mean. Your wife is trying to tell you something. Wait! Was that a shot? What do they want you to do? What should you do? The children are yelling, your wife is excitedly talking to you, you have only seconds to take it all in and decide what to do.

What would YOU do?

Perhaps we should all be thinking about this very carefully. We may all be facing similar situations before much longer. Again, what would you do if you had, literally, only seconds to make decisions that would involve your very life, as well as the lives of those you love?

One last comment: As I looked at the children, after their parents had been killed, being handled by the same people who had done the shooting, I was filled with a sense of horror at that as well. There's a kind of schizophrenia inherent to the situation; the monster and the rescuer is one and the same, so to speak. Those poor children. This can never be "un-done" to them. The fact is, regardless of the driver's failure to stop, this would not have happened if the U.S. wasn't illegally and brutally occupying Iraq.

That's the bottom line.

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Iraq's 'saviours' guilty of vandalism
Jan. 19, 2005. 01:00 AM

The damage wrought by the construction of an American military base in the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon must rank as one of the most reckless acts of cultural vandalism in recent memory. And all the more so because it was unnecessary and avoidable.

The camp did not have to be established in the city — where the Hanging Gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world, once stood — but given that it was, the U.S. authorities were very aware of the warnings of archaeologists of the historic importance of the site. Yet, as a report by Dr. John Curtis of the British Museum makes clear, they seem to have ignored the warnings.

Dr. Curtis claimed that in the early days after the war a military presence served a valuable purpose in preventing the site from being looted.

But that, he said, did not stop "substantial" damage being done to the site afterwards. An estimated 300,000 square metres had been flattened and covered in gravel, mostly imported from elsewhere.

This was done to provide helicopter landing places and parking lots for heavy vehicles that should not have been allowed there in the first place.

The general situation in Iraq is, of course, overwhelmingly a human and political tragedy but that does not exempt the U.S. authorities, who were in charge until they handed over to Polish soldiers, from the consequences of this act of cultural barbarism.

Babylon is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, situated in an area that has rightly been called the cradle of civilization to which the origins of so many activities from poetry to engineering can be traced.

As Dr. Curtis reminds us, Babylon itself was ruled by two of the most famous kings of antiquity — Hammurabi (1792 to 1750 BC) who introduced the world's first law code and Nebuchadnezzar (605 to 562 BC) who built the famed gardens, probably for his wife.

Babylon is one of the world's treasures as well as Iraq's. The coalition forces have ignored both of these moral responsibilities.

For Iraq it is also a major potential source of tourism which could play a big part in the eventual reconstruction of the economy. During Saddam's reign of terror what archaeological restorations as there were were mainly done in his image (with his name also inscribed on many of the bricks).

No one knows exactly how many more historical treasures lie beneath Babylon. That will not be known until a major excavation is undertaken probably as an international effort. Meanwhile, the aggravated ruins of the city stand as a metaphor for the war itself which has left modern Iraq as well as ancient Babylon in a much worse state than they were before the saviours arrived.

The task of reconstruction cannot happen too quickly.

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Denmark Charges 5 Soldiers with Iraqi Prisoner Abuse
Jan 21, 6:53 AM (ET)

COPENHAGEN - A Danish intelligence officer and four military policemen have been charged with abuse of Iraqi prisoners in southern Iraq, Danish news agency Ritzau reported on Friday.

Reserve Capt. Annemette Hommel and the four other soldiers could face up to one year in prison if found guilty of breaking military law during interrogations last year.

Hommel was sent home in July from Iraq, before her tour of duty was up, after former unit colleagues complained about the way she interrogated prisoners. She has denied the abuse. Denmark has about 500 troops in southern Iraq near Basra.

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Dozens rejected at U.S. borders, airports
Suspected links to terrorism

OTTAWA (CP) - Dozens of people from Canada have been turned back at the American border or prevented from boarding U.S.-bound airplanes in recent months because of suspected links to terrorism, newly obtained memos show.

The cases include individuals on a U.S. "no-fly" list and others who showed up on the State Department's Tipoff watch list, which contains the names of more than 100,000 possible terrorists. The incidents are detailed in a series of daily briefs published between September 2004 and this month by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's operations centre.

Copies of the memos were posted on the Cryptome website, a New York-based resource dedicated to shedding light on the workings of the security world.

Among the cases:

-A 23-year-old Pakistani man was stopped at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo on Jan. 2 due to Canadian reports linking him to the Taliban, the deposed fundamentalist rulers of Afghanistan.

-Authorities intercepted a 27-year-old Sri Lankan man considered an alleged "member of a foreign terrorist organization" during pre-clearance screening at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Nov. 28 as he attempted to board a flight to New Jersey.

-U.S. officers at Alexandria Bay, N.Y., denied entry to 25 Canadians with possible links to the terrorist group Mujahedin e-Khalq en route Nov. 19 to a protest rally in Washington sponsored by the Council for Freedom and Democracy in Iran.

-A 40-year-old Tunisian-born man with Canadian citizenship who appeared on the "no-fly" and Tipoff lists was prohibited from boarding a flight in Montreal with his wife on Jan. 4.

The briefs not only reveal details of numerous individual cases but provide insight into the close co-operation between Canadian authorities and the sprawling U.S. security department.

The memos include names as well as dates and places of birth. But they also feature a disclaimer noting the documents "may contain initial and preliminary reporting which may or may not be accurate."

It adds the Homeland Security Operations Centre is "actively evaluating the reporting to establish its accuracy and to determine if it represents a possible link to terrorism."

A Homeland Security Department spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

In a Jan. 3 memo, the department reported the search of a vehicle at the Blaine, Wash., border crossing due to the car's suspected ties to Rudwan Abubaker, a British Columbia man killed in Chechnya by Russian troops in October.

In another incident, U.S. officials in Buffalo denied entry to a 22-year-old Canadian citizen who had once fled Afghanistan as a refugee. A review revealed that in July 2002 the State Department had revoked his visa for "possible terrorist connections."

Other cases involved individuals lacking proper documentation or associated with alleged offences other than terrorism.

A Canadian holding an Albanian passport was denied entry to the U.S. on Dec. 30 in Toronto after a check showed his visa had been revoked due to "possible involvement in espionage."

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US cleric stabbed in Algeria
Wednesday 19 January 2005, 21:40 Makka Time, 18:40 GMT

American Christian pastor has been stabbed in the Algerian capital, prompting security services to investigate any possible link to Islamist rebels.

According to diplomatic sources, Hugh Johnson of the Protestant Church of Algeria was stabbed by an unknown assailant in downtown Algiers and later underwent surgery.

His condition was not life-threatening, diplomats said.

Police said the investigation to determine any link with terrorism was under way.

Algeria is emerging from more than a decade of violence. Islamist groups began an uprising after the army cancelled a parliamentary ballot in 1992 that an Islamic party was set to win.

More than 150,000 people have since died, according to human rights groups, but violence has fallen sharply in recent years.

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US tries to remove climate change references in UN disaster talks
Jan 19, 2005
KOBE, Japan - The United States, which opposes the Kyoto protocol on global warming, is trying to remove references to climate change in UN talks aimed at setting up a disaster early warning system, a US official said Wednesday.

The US has voiced objections to "multiple" references to climate change in drafting documents for the global conference in Kobe, Japan on disaster reduction, said Mark Lagon, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department bureau of international organization affairs.

He said the United States believed climate change was a "well-known" controversy and that there were "other venues" to discuss it.

"Our desire is that this does not distract from this process," Lagon said.

He said other countries including Australia and Iran had also "raised concerns" about references to climate change.

"The US is not the only country asking questions about climate references," he said.

"This is not the dominant controversy" at the conference, Lagon said. "But there are different views."

US President George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto protocol on global warming after he took office in 2001, saying it would cost US industry too much.

The protocol calls for emission cuts of six key gasses. It comes into force in February after the agreement of Russia.

The US stance has infuriated Europe and other allies in the industrialized world which have signed up for Kyoto.

Some 4,500 experts and officials from around 150 countries are meeting in Kobe and are expected to make a list of targets to be met by 2015 on ways to reduce the risks of disasters.

A top issue at the conference is how to set up an early warning system for tsunamis, amid outrage that Indian Ocean nations had no way of knowing about the giant waves that battered their coasts on December 26 killing more than 168,000 people.

Lagon said the United States was fully committed to helping build an early warning system.

But experts here have called for measures to reduce the risks of all disasters and cited global warming as a concern.

UN relief chief Jan Egeland in his opening address Tuesday to the five-day conference said that in addition to natural disasters, "We now face threats of our own collective making: global warming, environmental degradation and uncontrolled urbanization."

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Three earthquakes off Ecuador coast spark tsunami panic
10:22 PM EST Jan 20

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - Three earthquakes rocked Ecuador's Pacific coast Thursday, causing no damage or injuries but leaving some residents panicking that a tsunami would follow, the South American country's Geophysics Institute said.

The first quake struck at 11:46 a.m. local time with a preliminary magnitude of 4.6. The second hit at 12:15 p.m., registering 4.3 on the Richter scale, while the third and most powerful struck at 2:07 p.m. with a magnitude of 4.9, the institute said in a statement.

The epicentres were all located in roughly the same area of the ocean floor, about 60 kilometres west of Manta, a coastal city roughly 260 kilometres southwest of the capital Quito.

Alexandra Alvarado, the Geophysics Institute's chief seismologist, said dozens of people rushed out of their homes and offices and local radio reported similar instances of panic as far away as the coastal city Esmeraldas, 200 kilometres north of Manta.

In the weeks following the Dec. 26 Asian tsunami, Ecuadoran television and radio reports warned a similar disaster could strike the country's Pacific coastline, sparking fear among coastal residents, Alvarado said.

She said the quakes Thursday would have had to be at least 7.5 or stronger to generate a tsunami.

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New Zealand Capital Rocked by Earthquake, No Damage Reported
Jan. 21 (Bloomberg)

New Zealand's capital Wellington was today rocked by an earthquake centered 30 kilometers (19 miles) north- east of the city center. No damage was reported.

The quake was about 30 kilometers below the surface, and had a magnitude of 5.5, according to the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Web site. It struck at 7:56 a.m. local time.

Seven temblors were recorded in the Wellington region on Jan. 18, the largest of which was of magnitude 5.3, according to the institute. New Zealand straddles the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, and a fault line runs below Wellington, which is home to about 300,000 people.

The nation's biggest earthquake in 70 years occurred on Nov. 23, 2004, when a 7.3 magnitude quake southwest of the country shook the South Island.

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Maritime blizzard cancels schools, knocks out power
Last Updated Thu, 20 Jan 2005 18:29:42 EST
CBC News

HALIFAX - Winter continued its snowy assault on the Maritimes Thursday as a blizzard made driving miserable across most roadways and knocked out electricity in some areas.

For the second time in a week, students in parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick had the day off as a fierce winter storm moved through the region.

Winds created whiteout conditions around many parts of N.S., while the provincial power utility reported a number of outages in the Halifax area. [...]

Heavy snow and high winds hampered road conditions across New Brunswick, where dozens of accidents have been reported. Schools were cancelled early in the morning in advance of the storm.

Six tractor trailers were involved in a collision on the Trans-Canada Highway near Hartland, about 200 km west of Fredericton. Other vehicles were involved, but no one was seriously injured, said an RCMP spokesperson.

By the time the blizzard peters out Thursday night, about 25 centimetres of snow will have fallen in most regions of the province.

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Flood water sweeps away Swazi bus, 12 feared dead
20 Jan 2005 12:04:38 GMT
Source: Reuters

MBABANE, Jan 20 (Reuters) - A torrent of water swept away a 25-seater bus as it crossed a swollen river in Swaziland and 12 people are feared dead, police said on Thursday.

"The surviving passengers said they pleaded with the driver not to attempt to cross the river. They said he locked the doors to prevent their escape," Police Superintendent Vusi Masuku told Reuters.

The driver was among 10 people missing and presumed drowned after the accident late on Tuesday near Dvokolwako, 100 km (60 miles) northeast of Mbabane, he added.

The badly bruised body of the bus conductor and that of a woman passenger had been retrieved from the flood waters by rescuers, assisted by soldiers and police divers.

The toll might have been higher but for a quick-thinking police officer travelling on the bus, who pulled several fellow passengers through a window to safety.

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Clean-up begins after storms lash NSW
January 21, 2005 - 9:25AM

A huge clean-up effort is underway across NSW after violent storms lashed the north-west and Riverina regions, lifting roofs off houses and cutting electricity to more than 3,000 households.

More than 600 people contacted the State Emergency Service (SES) for assistance since the severe line of storms hit yesterday afternoon, an SES spokesman said.

Among the worst hit areas of the state was Narrabri in the north west and the Riverina district, he said.

"There was a very, very small but intense windstorm that swept through the town of Narrabri and left it without power all night.''

"My understanding is that there are some 20 homes that have been partially or completely unroofed and are completely uninhabitable.'' [...]

Wind gusts of up to 124 kmh were recorded at Yanco, in the Riverina, just before 1pm (AEDT), the Bureau of Meteorology said.

The storms dumped hail and caused widespread mayhem in the Riverina before moving east and striking the southern tablelands, Illawarra and parts of Sydney.

Strong winds flipped a seaplane over as it attempted to take off in Sydney Harbour.

The pilot of the seaplane was trying to take off from Rose Bay, in the city's east, when a strong gust of wind caused a wing to dip about 5.40pm (AEDT) yesterday.

Another gust of wind caused the wing to touch the water and the plane flipped over, police said.

The pilot and three passengers all escaped from the plane uninjured.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau was investigating the incident.

In Griffith, the TAFE college lost part of its roof and there were numerous reports of damage to farmhouses, the State Emergency Service (SES) said.

Hailstones up to 3 centimetres in diameter fell in Leeton and there was localised flooding in Captains Flat, near Canberra, weather bureau meteorologist Peter Dunda said.

The small town of Culcairn, near the Victorian border, received roughly its average monthly rainfall yesterday when storms dumped 45 millimetres in two-and-a-half hours, Mr Dunda said.

Flights out of Sydney airport were delayed by 30 minutes because baggage handlers could not go out on the tarmac when there was lightning around, Sydney Airport Corporation said.

A spokesman for the ACT Emergency Services Authority said the SES received 19 calls for help around Canberra, mainly in the southern and western suburbs.

Country Energy spokeswoman Nicole Leedham said up to 8000 customers were without power in Temora, Coolamon, Junee, Cootamundra and West Wyalong.

"We think we've had a direct lightning strike on one of the main feeders into Temora," she said.

"We're working to get the power up and running and all available crews are out."

A spokeswoman for Integral Energy said about 22,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Illawarra, southern highlands and Blue Mountains areas. [...]

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O.C.'s Mystery of the Deep: Invasion of the Jumbo Squid
By David Reyes
Times Staff Writer
Published January 20, 2005

About 1,500 of the natives of South America wash up, leaving experts puzzled.

More than 1,500 jumbo squid — common to South America — have washed onto Orange County beaches over the last few days, leaving marine experts perplexed as to why so many of these torpedo-shaped mollusks have traveled so far north.

"We've known that there's something peculiar going on with those species," said John McGowan, professor emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla and one of the leading oceanographers on the West Coast. [...]

The creatures are typically found off Peru and elsewhere in South America, but in recent years they have been turning up in larger numbers in the Gulf of California, Oregon and Alaska.

McGowan called the recent stranding "dramatic," but said marine experts don't know much about the squids, including why they've reached Southern California.

"These things are invading, and we don't know what's going on," he said. "It may be they're following a warm California current. Oceanographers don't have a clue why a large population of squid like this is moving north or why they strand themselves." [...]

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Mysterious Object Seen Over East Texas
EAST TEXAS - This weekend, we got calls into the newsroom from viewers saying they saw something that looked like a comet shooting though the sky. It turns out they weren't just seeing things. We were able to catch it on video.

Just after 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening, KLTV 7 photographer Jason Hewes captured a comet-like object that appeared for a few seconds, then just went away. We took the video to Tyler Aviation Training, where it attracted a crowd.

Mario McGee owns the school and spent 23 years in the Air Force.

"It could be several things," he said. "I've seen rockets making these kinds of maneuvers, but if it's just something up there burning up in space, than that could be it. Otherwise, I have no idea."

He said the speed of the object leads him to believe it's not an aircraft. After seeing the video, retired Air Force pilot Bill Halbert, has a different thought.

"My first impression is that that would be a contrail," Halbert said. "As it goes by us, then it gets out of the range of the sun reflecting back to us and it's reflecting back to the left, I believe that's what that is."

A contrail or a stream of condensation left by jet air crafts is typical at certain altitudes. Randy Ball has been flying commercial airplanes for the last 15 years, he also flys jets in air shows. He likes the contrail theory, but just isn't sure.

"It could be a cold spot in the air. You've had some pretty dramatic drops in temperature over the last few days. I've also seen some space debris come through like that," he said. "Very interesting video, interesting video."

For a final word, we showed the video to Chuck Schrecongost. He's the tower manager at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.

"That's nothing like a jet liner would do with the contrails and so forth, with the light reflecting off of it," he said. Chuck said it's not a meteor either.

"It's my 45th year of air traffic control, 'Have you ever seen anything like that?,' No."

There were no military planes scheduled to fly over East Texas on Sunday. We also checked with groups that keep up with meteorites and space debris. They weren't aware of any of those either.

Comment: And now, an important message from the Powers That Be:

Ladies and gentleman, what you have just seen was the light of the planet Venus reflected off some swamp gas. There is no cause for alarm. Now, please return to your homes and turn on your televisions because Seinfeld is about to air and we will be sending subliminal messages through your televisions to make you more credulous.

Thank you.

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Mass Remote Control Malfunction in Aosta

Translated by SOTT from Google groups

(ANSA) - AOSTA, 20 Jan - Beginning this morning garage door, car and gate remote controls began to manfunction in the Aosta area of Northwestern Italy.

ARPA (Regional Enviornmental Protection Agency), carried out tests in the area but then levels of electromagnetism were within the normal range.

The black out remains as much a mystery as other simlar bizzare occurances of recent times, like the case of the 2000 exploding thermometers in a Pharmacy in Rome or the inexplicable fires in Canneto in Sicily last year.

Comment: Similar anomalous jamming of electronic door openers was reported last year in Colorado. One possibility is that these events are caused by electromagnetic pulses from satellites. Several countries, (in this case most likely Russia) may be testing such devices to see how precise they can be and what kind of damage they can cause to electronic systems. See our Signs Anomalous Phenomena Supplement for more.

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TO: Conservative Senators, Congressmen, Wall Street Sugar Daddies

FROM: CEO-in-Chief, George W. Bush

RE: Cramming Social Security Privatization Down the Rooster-Necked Throats of the Feeble Near-Dead Hordes


As many of you may recall from the recent campaign, the lynchpin of the domestic policy I occasionally mentioned (when not stirring my bubbling cauldron of brimstone-scented terror gruel) was "reforming" the socialist ATM machine known as Social Security. Invented by that snotty pinko cripple FDR over seventy years ago, Social Security represents our easiest target to firebomb as we redouble our efforts to restore America to its Great Depression gilded age – a time when the otherwise asinine secular theory of "natural selection" saw its only worthwhile application: facilitating the acquisition of whole fleets of Duesenbergs for my grandpappy Prescott and his Hitler-fellating cronies. Because who wants a merciful meritocracy when you're born with mad loot?

That said, I understand many of you are concerned that your constituents won't accept my impending mutilation of this sacred social contract. You're concerned that the massive oldster lobby, the AARP, is wringing its piss-drenched Depends in a sour little knot over our gloriously compassionate plans. So let me start by offering you loyal Christian soldiers a simple piece of advice: grow a fucking pair of sperm bells already! The dentures-and-dementia class can bitch and moan all they want. It's not like we have anything to fear from voters so decrepit, their annoying protests are totally ignored by all the younger generations who will actually suffer the consequences of us gang-raping their futures!

Do you know what an "opportunity society" is? Neither do I, but I'm spouting it constantly these days because it sounds all individualistic, strong, and self-empowering – so long as we never mention that a democracy IS an opportunity society. Well, theoretically anyway, unless those in power do everything we can to discourage (preferably thwart) a citizen's so-called right to vote.

So moving forward, whenever anyone asks you what we're doing to Social Security, simply repeat this line: "Allowing people to invest in their retirement means that they have control over their retirement." Sure, it's bunk. But never forget that all those non-rich retirement-age losers have only themselves to blame that they weren't born trustafarians or got lots of hot tips on the sure-thing stocks which might have otherwise bankrolled their twilight year diets of Fancy Feast cat food. Yes, because by forcing all Americans to play the glorified craps table that is the stock market, we funnel billions of dollars directly into Wall Street – dollars which in turn boomerang right back to where they belong: paying for the upkeep on our helipad-equipped yachts!

Finally, when talking to voters, please remember lesson numero uno from this past election: fear sells. Tell them that Social Security is about to run out of money, even though it isn't a fund but a re-appropriation of current tax revenue. And to your younger constituents, tell them to keep watching MTV, swilling tooty-fruity malt beverages, and whatever you do, don't remind them how they all got laid off four years ago because the markets are so easily manipulated by the older, wiser, and almost incomprehensibly greedy.

Your God-Ordained Ruler,


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