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Control, Thought Control, World Control
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of the Day
|Deconstructing a Dictator
January 21, 2005
Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President
Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can
know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of
your free country.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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.
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
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.
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
"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. [...]
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
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
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.
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
A small group of anti-Bush demonstrators overturned several
of the metal security barricades, and a handful of protesters
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.
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.
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,
3. If you hooked up headphones to Bush's iPod, what music would
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
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
7. Which person holds the all-time record for most people worldwide
to simultaneously protest against them in public venues?
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
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.
6. Bill Clinton
7. You know who
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
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.”
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
“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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Israeli occupation troops have shot dead
two Palestinian boys - one 14-year-old and the other 13 - in two
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.
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
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
I forced myself to follow the
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
That's the bottom line.
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
Dr. Curtis claimed that in the early days after the war a military
presence served a valuable purpose in preventing the site from
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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
He said the United States believed climate change was a "well-known"
controversy and that there were "other venues" to discuss
"Our desire is that this does not distract from this process,"
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
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."
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
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,
She said the quakes Thursday would have had to be at least 7.5
or stronger to generate a tsunami.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
"My understanding is that there are some 20 homes that
have been partially or completely unroofed and are completely
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
"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. [...]
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."
|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
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.
(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.
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
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
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