Translations from other sites
Travel Log! The
Quantum Future Group Goes to Rennes-le-Chateau
Control, Thought Control, World Control
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
Anti-Bush banner on Plaza hotel NYC at last years GOP convention
picture for story)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) --
Two groups of protesters were led away from the U.S. Capitol grounds
Thursday after they shouted anti-war slogans during President Bush's
About two-thirds of the way through Bush's speech, a group of six
women began to chant "Bring the troops home now." As they
were taken away by security personnel, two men who said they were
with the Peace Movement unfurled a home-made sign that read, "No
War." The men were also led away.
The crowd was strongly supportive of the
president, and jeered both groups of protesters with chants of "U.S.A.
U.S.A." Members of the audience seemed to intentionally
get in the way of photographers trying to take pictures of the protesters.
Both groups were in areas that required a ticket to gain admission
but were still some distance from the podium where Bush was speaking.
The interruption was not immediately seen on television,
but the jeering could be heard as poorly timed applause for portions
of Bush's speech.
Washington (CNSNews.com) - In
cold, snowy Washington, about a hundred protesters gathered outside
the "Black Tie and Boots" inaugural ball on Wednesday
night, comparing President George W. Bush to Adolph Hitler because
Bush is "exterminating the Muslim race."
"It is no different in that Hitler killed so many Jews, and
George Bush, you know, is exterminating the Muslim race and others,"
said a man who identified himself only as Don from Florida.
Don held up a sign with the words "Vote Republican" written
over a Nazi swastika.
"It's just a form of fascism -- the Patriot Act and everything
-- they stole the vote. Diebold (the electronic voting machine company)
and their money stole the electoral vote of the people," Don
told Cybercast News Service.
The group of counter-inaugural protesters gathered near the entrance
of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where the inaugural ball hosted
by the Texas State Society was taking place.
The groups sponsoring the protest included Billionaires for Bush,
Code Pink (a women's peace group) and a group calling itself the
Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane.
Party-goers arriving for the ball were greeted with megaphone-amplified
jeers decrying them as "pigs," chants of "Bush Lied,
Soldiers Died" and "Stop the Celebration, End the Occupation"
and signs asking, "Are You a Corporate Whore?"
Another protester -- Steve from Vermont -- was
among a dozen activists carrying signs linking the GOP to Nazis.
Steve told Cybercast News Service that the Bush family's ties to
the Nazis go back a long way.
"George Bush's grandfather - he did business
with the Nazis, they were partners with him (Hitler), and that is
all Bush is. He slaughtered people in Iraq. If that isn't fascism,
what is?" Steve asked.
According to Steve, people attending this week's
inaugural balls in Washington "are basically a bunch of rich,
filthy, selfish people who are out of touch with the real world.
"They don't care about other human beings
on this planet, and they are destroying the planet," he added.
Steve also accused Bush of stealing the 2004 election.
"[Bush] stole the last election [and] he
stole this one," Steve charged. Steve said Bush could not have
won the election, given the "mass hysteria running rampant
through the streets that they had to get rid of Bush."
Molly from Massachusetts accused the Bush administration
of "putting out fake science -- fake pseudo-science and having
Nazi doctors -- the same way Nazi Germany did in a lot of ways.
There are a lot of parallels now between America and Nazi Germany,"
But one of the Inaugural Ball attendees dismissed any comparison
of Bush to Hitler.
"If you want to make a World War II comparison, then the proper
comparison for Bush is [former British Prime Minister] Winston Churchill,"
said Joe Biles from Lubbock, Texas.
"These people ought to be comparing [former Iraqi dictator]
Saddam Hussein to Hitler," Biles added, dismissed the protesters
as "the extreme fringe."
'Our country is suffering'
Many of the protesters expressed outrage that Americans are celebrating
the Bush inauguration at what they call a time of tragedy.
"How can anyone who has a heart come and pay thousands of
dollars to do this when the tsunami wave just knocked out so many
people and there are over 100,000 dead in Iraq?" said Sam Joi
from the group Code Pink.
Joi said the United States is in dire straits: "Education
is going, all our social services are going, unemployment is soaring,
people are suffering here in this country. How can they have a celebration
tonight for this obscene amount of money when our world is suffering,
our country is suffering?" asked Joi.
Joi said the inaugural partygoers were "greedy, they are hogs,
they are pigs. How much do they need?" Code Pink members passed
out bumper stickers with "Hallibacon" written on them,
a mock reference to the defense contractor Halliburton, formerly
chaired by Vice President Dick Cheney.
Molly from Massachusetts slammed capitalism: "This is a perpetuation
of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. We are dividing
the country into two classes, and that is disgusting; and there
are starving people all over the world and they are having this
absurd, excessive party," Molly said.
"Capitalism right now is just making rich
people rich," she added.
' Shame on you'
At one point during the protest, Green Party members and supporters
of former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry clashed.
"John Kerry is the richest [man] in the Senate. You voted
for John Kerry, shame on you," a Green Party supporter told
Representatives from an organic farm commune also took part in
A woman named Neyci from a 40-member, West Virginia-based commune
wore a button proclaiming "Stop Bitching, Start a Revolution."
Neyci explained that her commune's goal was to
"try to change in the culture through our art, to get out a
different kind of like holistic philosophy that's about finding
out the truth of what the hell is going to work, because frankly
we are up against some really raunchy sh**."
Most of the inaugural party-goers walked past the protesters without
comment, but Mike Scott of Texas told Cybercast News Service that
the protesters "need a job." A woman making her way past
the protesters declared that she would have "no comment for
such a stupid group."
By a strange twist of fate, this year's calendar puts your inauguration
on the same day as the most important religious day of the year
for Muslims. Is it a historical irony that links these two celebrations
together? As you are inaugurated for your second term, I, a European
Muslim, want to share with you a few thoughts.
Mr. President, I was banished from the United States by your administration.
My visa was revoked, as I was about to assume my position as a Professor
at Notre Dame University. To this day, I have not been told the
reasons behind this action.
I do know, as does Homeland Security and the State Department,
that my file is empty. The Patriot Act was put forward as an excuse
and I was asked to reapply. Since then, there has been total silence.
Why was this decision taken? What are you afraid of? Is it perhaps
that academic freedom of expression has become a danger for you?
Or is it perhaps the fact that it would have fortified criticism
against you, no matter how constructive, especially coming from
a Muslim intellectual?
What are you doing to your country, Mr. President?
Along with the majority of Muslims around the world, I condemned
the September 11 attacks. I shared and sympathized with the American
people's pain. We understood their fears and the depth of their
doubts. To transcend that traumatic experience, two things were
crucial. First, Muslims had to firmly and clearly denounce terrorism
and extremism, which they did, even if at times it was done timidly.
Second, the American government should have shed light on the facts:
how were such odious acts possible? Who was responsible for the
multiple and repeated information failures? The people of the United
States, like the rest of the world, needed explanations, transparency
However, since September 11th, 2001 your administration has continued
to accumulate shadowy dealings. Boards of inquiry were delayed or
strangely constituted; state secrets and sinister silences mushroomed.
In the name of the "war against terrorism", the ultimate
reason for legitimacy, did you permit your officials to make decisions
and to act illegitimately, without a hint of accountability? Under
your watch, laws eradicating civil liberties have been enacted which
put into question the rights of citizens. Discrimination against
Arabs and Muslims has been institutionalized and legalized. There
is limitless scrutiny, individuals are arrested, and lying in the
name of the State has become the norm.
Whatever the tone of your generous speeches,
facts do not lie: this is not a good time to be a Muslim in the
United States. The consequences of
the Patriot Act has been exactly what its' most virulent detractors
had predicted - an infringement of citizens' rights and legalized
discrimination that is reminiscent of the McCarthy era.
Your commitment on the international stage is no less alarming.
Your intervention in Afghanistan killed thousands of civilians who
had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11th. The situation
is unresolved. Bin Laden is still a fugitive and tortures exerted
by those under your administration are a daily happening as confirmed
by Human Rights Watch.
Inhumane treatment inflicted on the Guantanamo prisoners in a declared
"no rights" area is scandalous. Your intervention in Iraq
only confirmed these practices, characterized by lies, systematic
manipulation and in the end, the death of tens of thousands of Iraqis
and Americans. The horrors of Abu Ghuraib
prison, which appeared as revelations of torture were in fact institutionalized,
from Afghanistan to Guantanamo. The American soldiers in Iraq are
not primarily responsible: someone at the head of your administration
had undoubtedly given the green light. Mr. Bush, would it
be that you are in favour of torture exerted against Arabs and Muslims?
Is this the message that one must understand from these actions?
For the last three years, your policy has consisted in victimizing
the American super power to such an extent that in return, it has
had total disrespect for basic human rights. Instead of calming
spirits with more truth and dialogue, you have spread fear by keeping
Americans in the dark and lying to them. It was expected that you
would assist in surpassing the trauma of September 11th, not sustain
it dangerously. You have won the elections
by feeding the fears of your citizens and presenting yourself as
their only guarantor of security. You
won by playing on emotions, not intelligence.
I have visited the United States more than twenty times in the
past three years. I know that your country abounds with people of
critical intelligence and honesty. Many of your citizens are not
easily deceived. They are not only ashamed of the image you give
of your country but, more deeply, of the way in which you are transforming
it into a citadel besieged by fear and arrogance.
As a European Muslim, frightened by your unilateralism and the
serious excesses of your policies, it is towards worthy and critical
American citizens that I invite Muslims to turn to and to bring
together their hopes. If the Muslims are
right in not trusting you, they should not confuse the American
people with the increasingly blunt spirits that surround you.
It's been a couple of weeks that you have made your support for
the victims of the Tsunami disaster public in order to show Muslims
that you were capable of compassion and that you respected them.
At the heart of this natural disaster, aware of the desolation and
deaths, know Mr. President, that these Muslims remain lucid. You
will not gain their trust through emotions.
Your second mandate begins January 20th. You presented yourself
to the American people as the solution but you are in fact the problem.
You have not ceased to deepen the gap between the United States
and the rest of the world - not only the Muslim world but also Europe.
As a European Muslim, I had the hope that by relocating to your
country, I would have been able to bring a critical and constructive
contribution. Your administration preferred
to exclude me, like so many other Muslim intellectuals, in order
to protect itself from debate and dialogue.
I finally decided not to try settling in your country anymore.
I am not sure what, during this second mandate, could rid you of
this Manichean view and dangerous interpretation of the world. I
do not know what could persuade you to use less lies and more truths.
I know simply that the Muslims celebrate on this 20th of January,
a faith which they consider stronger then your capriciousness. If
with strength of conscience and intelligence, they succeed in distinguishing
between your administration and the American people and continue
to dialogue with those of your fellow-citizens who have not been
blinded, then hope remains. That is the only hope, unless you are
touched by grace and that you understand that it is urgent, for
the good of our planet, that you change your policies.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The United States is steadily
losing ground to the Iraqi insurgency, according to every key military
A Knight Ridder analysis of U.S. government statistics shows that
through all the major turning points that raised hopes of peace
in Iraq, including the arrest of Saddam Hussein and the handover
of sovereignty at the end of June, the insurgency, led mainly by
Sunni Muslims, has become deadlier and more effective.
The analysis suggests that unless something
dramatic changes - such as a newfound will by Iraqis to reject the
insurgency or a large escalation of U.S. troop strength - the United
States won't win the war. It's axiomatic among military thinkers
that insurgencies are especially hard to defeat because the insurgents'
goal isn't to win in a conventional sense but merely to survive
until the will of the occupying power is sapped. Recent polls already
suggest an erosion of support among Americans for the war.
The unfavorable trends of the war are clear:
- U.S. military fatalities from hostile
acts have risen from an average of about 17 per month just after
President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May
1, 2003, to an average of 71 per month.
- The average number of U.S. soldiers wounded
by hostile acts per month has spiraled from 142 to 708 during the
same period. Iraqi civilians have suffered
even more deaths and injuries, although reliable statistics aren't
- Attacks on the U.S.-led coalition since
November 2003, when statistics were first available, have risen
from 735 a month to 2,400 in October. Air Force Brig. Gen.
Erv Lessel, the multinational forces' deputy operations director,
told Knight Ridder on Friday that attacks were currently running
at 75 a day, about 2,300 a month, well below a spike in November
during the assault on Fallujah, but nearly as high as October's
- The average number of mass-casualty bombings
has grown from zero in the first four months of the American occupation
to an average of 13.3 per month.
- Electricity production has been below pre-war levels since October,
largely because of sabotage by insurgents,
with just 6.7 hours of power daily in Baghdad in early January,
according to the State Department.
- Iraq is pumping about 500,000 barrels a day fewer than its pre-war
peak of 2.5 million barrels per day as a result of attacks, according
to the State Department.
"All the trend lines we can identify are all in the wrong
direction," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution,
a Washington policy research organization. "We
are not winning, and the security trend lines could almost lead
you to believe that we are losing."
The combat numbers are based mainly on Defense Department releases
compiled by O'Hanlon in an Iraq Index. Since the numbers can fluctuate
significantly from month to month, Knight Ridder examined the statistics
for fatalities, wounded and mass-casualty bombings using a technique
mathematicians call a moving average - averaging the number of attacks
in one month with the number of attacks in the two months immediately
preceding it in order to better reveal the underlying trend. [...]
Most worrisome, the insurgency is getting larger.
At the close of 2003, U.S. commanders put
the number of insurgents at 5,000. Earlier
this month, Gen. Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, the director of the
Iraqi intelligence service, said there are 200,000 insurgents,
including at least 40,000 hard-core fighters. The rest, he said,
are part-time fighters and supporters who provide food, shelter,
funds and intelligence.
"Many Iraqis respect these gunmen because they are fighting
the invaders," said Nabil Mohammed, a Baghdad University political
science professor. [...]
Guerrilla fighters leave behind a rear guard force to fight while
moving the bulk of their fighters and leadership elsewhere. During
and after the Fallujah battle in November, for example, Mosul and
several Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad became more violent.
Some Iraqis say these aggressive U.S. military
moves are counterproductive because mass destruction and the killing
of Iraqis create more recruits for the insurgency.
"The insurgency will grow larger," said Ghazi Bada al
Faisal, an employee of the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and a Fallujah
resident. "The child whose brother and father were killed in
the fighting will now seek revenge."
Some defense analysts are calling for a new strategy and more troops.
White proposes sending 20,000 more troops.
But the Bush administration hopes to replace
U.S. troops with well-trained Iraqis. [...]
The number two Pentagon official
said reducing American casualties in Iraq was more important than
bringing US troops back home -- and pointed to the rising Iraqi
death toll as evidence this strategy was working.
"I'm more concerned about bringing down our casualties than
bringing down our numbers," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
said in an interview with PBS television's "The NewsHour with
Jim Lehrer" program. "And it is
worth saying that since June 1, there have been more Iraqi police
and military killed in action than Americans."
Wolfowitz said he was encouraged by the fact that Iraqis continued
to volunteer to join the country's fledgling security forces, despite
their losses at the hands of Islamist insurgents. [...]
The deputy defense secretary also suggested that the US decision
to go to war with Iraq was motivated in part by a willingness to
ward off criticism of the Bush administration in case of a new terrorist
attack against the United States with weapons of mass destruction.
"If we had been wrong the other way
and if the threat had really been imminent and we had been hit with
an anthrax attack here that was tied to Iraq and the president had
done nothing about it, what would people then say?"
he retorted when asked to comment about unfound weapons of mass
"I mean, it would make the criticism of failure to prevent
9/11 just look like child's play."
WASHINGTON — Pentagon police on Wednesday
turned away family members of troops killed in Iraq who wanted to
confront Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the reasons for
the war in Iraq.
The group of about 20 was stopped before entering Pentagon property
by about a dozen officers, who told the protesters they did not
have the proper permission to enter the building.
Organizers said they have been petitioning for
the meeting for weeks, but department officials are ignoring their
"The man who was too busy to personally sign the Killed in
Action letters these families received is apparently too busy to
acknowledge the request of the Gold Star families for this meeting,"
Nancy Lessin, co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, told reporters
gathered for Wednesday's protest.
Five Gold Star families — ones who have lost a son or daughter
to fighting in Iraq — brought pictures and letters to the
event to present to the secretary, and asked police to pass the
items along to illustrate their loss and grief.
Cindy Sheehan, a California resident whose son Casey was killed
during a mission in Sadr City last April, sheltered a photo of her
son from the snow with her arms as the group tried to convince police
to let them by.
"I wanted them to see my son," she said, weeping. "I
wanted them to see the consequences of his actions. ... I
have the feeling they feel he was a dispensable asset to them."
Sheehan flew to Washington on Wednesday and planned to take part
in the group's inauguration protests on Thursday.
Department of Defense officials did not return calls seeking comment.
Police who confronted the families offered numbers where protesters
could obtain permits and set up formal interviews, but said security
concerns prohibited allowing any of the group onto Pentagon grounds.
Lessin, whose son recently returned from his overseas service,
said the goal of both protests is to show the war in Iraq is "a
reckless military misadventure that never should have happened."
"Shame on Secretary Rumsfeld for not
recognizing these families, and shame on those who sent our children
to war based on lies," she said. [...]
However personally insignificant the man himself,
the inaugural address delivered Thursday by President George Bush
is a major political statement and must be taken with deadly seriousness.
As an expression of the global strategy of
the United States, the speech presages a massive escalation of military
operations all over the world.
The address was not written by Bush—who would be hard put
to construct a single grammatical sentence—but by a team of
high-level professional advisers, led by Michael Gerson, who gave
careful thought to what the president would and would not say.
Among the most glaring omissions from the inaugural address, which
has been noted by many commentators, was any explicit reference
to Iraq. The obvious, though only partial, reason is that Bush's
speechwriters considered it ill-advised to call attention to the
disastrous consequences of the US invasion of that country. More
striking, however, was Bush's failure to make any reference whatsoever
to the cause for which the invasion of Iraq was supposedly undertaken—the
"war on terror." Neither that phrase, nor the words "terrorism"
or "terror," were uttered even once by President Bush.
This is an extraordinary omission given the fact
that the global struggle against "terror" has been invoked
endlessly as the principal justification for virtually every action
undertaken by the Bush administration. Above all, the imperatives
of the anti-terror crusade were invoked to legitimize the invasion
of Iraq and the prospect of further "preventive" wars
against Iran and North Korea.
When Bush went before Congress three years ago, on January 29,
2002, to deliver his State of the Union address, he denounced these
three states "and their terrorist allies" as "an
axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world." Bush
declared, "By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes
pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to
terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could
attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In
any of theses cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."
The subsequent failure to discover either weapons
of mass destruction or links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda
terrorists made it all too clear that the war had been justified
on the basis of lies that concealed the real reason for the invasion
of Iraq—the pursuit of global hegemony and world domination
by the United States.
The lesson drawn by the Bush administration from the world-wide
exposure of its criminal deceit was that the United States should
not justify the next round of military actions by claiming it faces
any specific, concrete, physical threat from Iran or any other country
targeted for military attack. Such claims of imminent or even potential
physical danger to the security of the United States lead only,
as far as the Bush administration is concerned, to annoying and
time-wasting demands for verification.
It is for this reason the inaugural address dropped all reference
to "terror" and "terrorism," and invoked as
the new justification for war something far more abstract and ethereal:
the struggle against "tyranny" and for "liberty"
In the key passage of his address, Bush declared: "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."
It is this "mortal threat" posed by "tyranny"
that the United States must now fight "by force of arms when
Of course, this rationale for war rests
on a glaring political and psychological absurdity. Bush
made no attempt to explain why people living in "whole regions
of the world" which "simmer in resentment and tyranny"
should despise the United States and pose a threat to Americans.
The only rational explanation for this phenomenon is that they see
the United States as an oppressor and enemy. Thus,
the claim that the United States is engaged in a global crusade
against tyranny is contradicted by Bush's own description of the
conditions which he invokes as a justification for war.
The crass absurdity of the argument is rooted not in the subjective
intellectual limitations of Bush's advisers—though they are
certainly very limited men—but in the real contradiction between
the needs and aspirations of the world's masses and the brutal objectives
of America's global policies.
As a matter of practical policy, the morphing
of the struggle against terror into the struggle against tyranny
has immediate and profound consequences: it both lowers the threshold
for American military action and vastly expands the range of its
The redefinition of the
Bush Doctrine of preventive war no longer requires that the United
States be endangered because one or another state has, and plans
to use at some point in the future, a weapon of mass destruction
or some other form of terror against the US. Rather, it is
enough for the United States to identify whatever country it chooses
as a "tyranny" where violence is, in various unseen and
mysterious ways, gathering and multiplying.
Precisely what does the Bush administration have in mind as it
embarks upon its second term?
The answer to this question is suggested by a column by Charles
Krauthammer of the Washington Post, which appeared the day after
Bush's inaugural. The timing, of course, is not accidental. Krauthammer's
column, like so many other editorials and columns welcoming the
inaugural address, marked the beginning of a campaign to massage
and manipulate public opinion in accordance with the agenda of the
second Bush administration.
The old war on terror that preoccupied Bush during his first term,
Krauthammer explains, is receding in importance. New dangers loom.
"The bad news is a development more troubling than most observers
recognize: signs of the emergence, for the first time since the
fall of the Soviet empire, of an anti-American bloc anchored by
Great Powers." What is Krauthammer talking about?
"It is no accident that Russia has
begun hinting at making common cause with China. This is
potentially ominous because of China's rising power and its status
as the leading have-not nation, the Germany of the 21st century.
In December, during the week of the rerun Ukrainian election that
finally brought the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko to power, Russia
made two significant moves toward China. First was the announcement
of intensified economic cooperation in developing Russia's vast
energy resources. More ominous was the Russian defense minister's
Dec. 27 announcement of, 'for the first time in history,' large
joint military exercises on Chinese territory.
"China in turn is developing relationships
with such virulently anti-American rogue states as Iran. Add such
various self-styled, anti-imperialist flotsam as Syria, North Korea,
Cuba and Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, and you have the beginning of
a significant 'anti-hegemonic' bloc—aimed at us."
The list of American enemies is truly endless!
Billions of people, on continents all over the globe, are new targets
for American "liberation" from "tyranny."
The struggle can never end, for, as Krauthammer proclaims at the
conclusion of his column, "There is no rest for the weary."
If all this sounds insane, it is because it is. But like the contradictions
to which I have already referred, the insanity is lodged not in
the brains of people like Bush, Krauthammer and the hoards of editorial
writers who showered praise on the inaugural address, but rather
in the very nature of the American imperial project.
The Bush administration has now begun a second term whose policies
and deeds will result in even more bloodshed, human misery and tragedy
than the first. As it heads over the abyss, the question is: how
much of the country and the world will it take with it?
The two-day dialogue between
Condoleezza Rice and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
at times resembled material from "Catch-22" and at other
times seemed to reflect "Dr. Strangelove." Other than
a few hard questions from Democrats Joe Biden and Barbara Boxer,
at no time did it remotely resemble reality.
You'd have thought from the way committee members treated Rice
that she'd just arrived in Washington and had no part to play in,
and no real knowledge of, the foreign-policy disaster that was President
Bush's first term.
What alternate reality do these senators inhabit? Rice is a principal
architect of the Bush foreign policy. She was an ardent supporter
of going to war in Iraq. Her statements in the run-up to war about
"mushroom clouds" and aluminum tubes were preposterous.
And yet in a hearing on whether she has the stuff to be secretary
of state, she had the temerity to lecture Boxer, asking her to "refrain
from impugning my integrity." Well if not now, when?
Even in front of the committee, Rice couldn't refrain from telling
what would generously be called fibs. Biden caught her out in one
when she said 120,000 Iraqi military personnel had been trained
to date. A more reliable figure from a more reliable source, he
said, is 4,000.
Iraq is a quagmire killing Americans troops every day and costing
American taxpayers billions each month. America's standing with
allies, friendly nations and not-so-friendly ones has been badly
damaged. We are seen abroad as bullying, arrogant and frequently
just plain stupid. Rice was at the center of decisions which created
that not-so-rosy scenario, and yet, as Biden said, played her confirmation
hearings as a version of "Don't Worry, Be Happy."
Rice promised to repair relations with the world and to seek multilateral
solutions to some of the most vexing problems the United States
will confront in the next four years. But how is she going to do
that? Repackage the Bush mood music and try to do a better sales
job than outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell?
It won't work; Rice doesn't enjoy Powell's respect in the world,
and no one is going to be fooled by mood music. They want new American
policies, and there is no indication there will be any from a second
Bush administration. So long as Rice tries to sell the same spoiled
fruit Powell was forced to peddle, no one is going to buy.
Diplomatically and militarily, everything the
United States tried in Bush's first term went rotten. Yet the same
unapologetic team, admitting to no mistakes, will be at the helm
during the second four years, minus Powell and a few others.
Even many of the Republican members of the
committee have been critics of the Bush foreign policy that Rice
helped design, especially of its approach to Iraq. And yet they
fawned all over her instead of holding her to account. More pathetic
was Biden, who was biting in his criticisms but then voted to support
In the end, only Boxer and Sen. John Kerry did
the principled thing and voted against Rice. Perhaps it was a symbolic
vote, but it mattered. Kerry wasn't very pithy, but he was right
when he said, "Dr. Rice is a principal architect, implementer,
and defender of a series of administration policies that have not
made our country as secure as we should be and have alienated much-needed
allies in our common cause of winning the war against terrorism.
Regrettably, I did not see in Dr. Rice's testimony any acknowledgment
of the need to change course or of a new vision for America's role
in the world."
With that the committee voted 16-2 to continue
steady as she goes toward the next disaster.
LONDON : Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has drawn
up Britain's case against a military strike on Iran amid fears US
President George W. Bush may seek support for a new conflict, a
Straw has produced a 200-page dossier that rules out military
action and makes the case for a "negotiated solution"
to thwart Iran's suspected ambition to produce nuclear weapons,
The Sunday Times reported.
It says a peaceful solution led by Britain, France and Germany
is "in the best interests of Iran and the international community,"
while referring to "safeguarding Iran's right to the peaceful
use of nuclear technology."
The dossier, entitled Iran's Nuclear Programme,
was quietly issued in the House of Commons on the eve of Bush's
inauguration last week for fear of provoking a public rift with
Washington, the newspaper said.
However, it added that privately tensions are
running high between the two nations.
The approach contrasts with the British government's two Iraq
dossiers, which were trumpeted to make the case for joining the
US-led invasion on March 2003.
The Sunday Times said the message that
the British government wants no part in another war in the Middle
East will be reinforced by Prime Minister Tony Blair when he meets
Bush in Brussels next month and at an Anglo-American summit
in Washington after the British general election, expected in May.
It said Straw will also make the case when he meets US secretary
of state nominee Condoleezza Rice, a Bush confidante, in London
The perception that the United States is embarking on a course
of confrontation with Iran has grown since The New Yorker magazine
reported this week that US commandos have been operating inside
Iran since mid-2004, secretly scouting targets for possible air
The Pentagon attacked the story by investigative reporter Seymour
Hersh as "riddled with errors of fundamental fact" but
did not expressly deny conducting covert reconnaissance missions.
Vice President Dick Cheney, declaring on a radio talk show this
week that Iran was "right at the top of the list" of global
problems, warned that Israel might launch a pre-emptive strike on
its own to shut down Iran's nuclear program.
But Cheney played down the likelihood of US military action.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
has described as "madness" the possibility of an American
strike on his country.
Mr Khatami said while Iran was maintaining "full vigilance",
he considered the probability of a US attack to be "very negligible".
He said Iran had "plans" to defend itself in the event
of the US resorting to military aggression.
Tension has been mounting between the two nations as the US suspects
Iran of developing a nuclear weapons programme.
The Bush administration has said publicly that it will not permit
Iran to acquire the nuclear bomb.
'We have plans'
Iran has always denied this, saying that its nuclear development
programme is purely for peaceful, energy-generating purposes.
Washington has not threatened the use of force, but the possibility
of air strikes, although not easy, cannot be ruled out.
"I do not think that America is in a position to resort to
the madness of attacking Iran," President Khatami said in an
interview with Iranian radio during a visit to Uganda.
"We believe that the probability of America's attack on Iran
is very negligible. America faces major problems in Iraq and elsewhere."
While hoping that such a day would never come,
he said Iran has been preparing itself in "economic" and
President Khatami said: "While not welcoming any tension,
while defending our interests and while trying to move ahead with
logic, we have prepared ourselves and will prepare more, should
they - God forbid - resort to acts of aggression; and we have plans
for such a day."
Israeli sources say that US Vice President
Dick Cheney's statement that Israel could be the first to decide
to take action in Iran to destroy a nuclear threat by Tehran administration
was, in fact, directed at Europe.
According to Israeli officials, Cheney's statement
was not directed at Israel but rather at European countries as a
warning that they should put tighter measures in place regarding
Tehran's nuclear program.
Cheney joined an MSNBC program on Thursday (January 20) where
he said Iran is at the top of a US list of the world's most dangerous
places and that Israel could be the first to intervene in Iran in
order to prevent a possible nuclear threat from Iran.
"This statement aimed at the Europeans
says if you do not play a big part in applying sanctions and do
not move quickly to stop Iran's nuclear program, we will not be
held responsible for what Israel will do," said a high-level
The same official said that Israel is following the US position
on Iran very closely and fully supports international sanctions
and pressure on Iran. In 2003, Israel was fiercely critical of Iran
for testing Shahab-3 missiles with the capability to carry nuclear-biologic
warheads and a 1,300 kilometer range that could reach Israel.
Western intelligence sources say even though United Nations (UN)
officials conducted investigations in Iran and possibly have failed
to realize such studies, Tehran may have nuclear research program.
British Foreign Minister Jack Straw has said, meanwhile, that
he hopes to succeed in finding a diplomatic solution. His Russian
counterpart Sergei Lavrov referred to Bush's statement and he said,
"Bush's speech was about solving the problem through political
channels. We all agree with that view."
The quotes were accurate but the interpretations
were wrong. U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney did indeed say, last
Thursday, that Israel "might well decide to act first"
to eliminate an Iranian nuclear threat. However, the headlines that
claimed Cheney was apprehensive about such a development misunderstood
the point he was making. Cheney is not worried
about the Israeli context, nor is he warning Israel not to act without
coordination with Washington. He is using the possibility of an
Israeli operation against Iran to threaten Tehran, while shaking
off American responsibility for that kind of escalation. His comment
was not a warning to Israel but a means of deterrence against Iran.
In an interview with MSNBC, Cheney placed Iran at "the top
of the list" of the world's "potential trouble spots."
He reiterated the Bush administration's desire to avoid war and
to use diplomacy to resolve the controversy over Iran's nuclear
program - give and take with the European powers, the International
Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council and
sanctions to force Iran to honor its commitments. This is an essential
path for the Americans, who this time - more than in the case of
Iraq two years ago - will need to enter a multilateral, international
framework. In the meantime, the Iranians are using the time to examine
how bothered they are by their temporary agreement to freeze the
uranium enrichment process. Their representatives in the negotiations
with Germany, France and Britain are not hiding their intention
to reassess the agreement and disavow it, should it emerge that
the damage to their nuclear program outweighs the diplomatic advantage
of gaining time.
In contrast to the Iranian use of Europe, Bush's independent ally,
Cheney cites Israel as an ally even less amenable
to American control. One of the concerns, he noted in the
interview, is that Israel is liable to act against Iran "without
being asked. ... If in fact the Israelis
became convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear capability,
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 afterward."
As secretary of defense in 1991, in the administration of the
current president's father, Cheney made use of a similar threat
against Iraq, also in a television interview, which the enemy could
receive and understand without mediation. Two weeks before the first
American war against Saddam Hussein, Cheney told CNN that Iraqi
use of chemical warheads against Israel was liable to result in
an Israeli nuclear response. That was a rare comment in two regards.
Senior U.S. officials publicly tend to ignore the Arab allegations
that Israel possesses nuclear weapons. Cheney
mentioned such weapons as though their existence were not in question,
in a realistic tone, not one of denial, as a fact the foe (common
to both the Americans and the Israelis) must take into account.
In contrast to the situation 14 years ago, Cheney this time refrained
from talking about Israeli nuclear capability. Had he done otherwise,
he would have implicitly raised the question
of why Iran is forbidden to do what Israel is allowed to do (and
perhaps reply that the difference is that Israel is not plotting
to destroy Iran).
A nuclear Iran is in fact a common danger to Jerusalem and Washington,
though each side in the partnership finds it convenient to cast
the responsibility on the other. Israel wants to stop being an Iranian
target and foist the burden of dealing with the issue on the international
community, headed by President Bush. It is important for the Americans
not to give the impression that they are eager to precede diplomatic
discussions with a military strike, but also to remind the Iranians
that their bluff in the nuclear poker game is liable to fall apart
in the face of a card not part of the European deck - the Israeli
In 1991 the U.S. administration, including Cheney's deputy, Paul
Wolfowitz, secretly extracted from Israel a commitment not to take
independent action against Iraq. In 2005
the coordination between the two countries and the two armies is
even greater. If Israel does take action, Bush and his vice president
will be the last to be surprised.
|WASHINGTON : With the bulk of its ground forces
tied down in Iraq, the United States has compelling reasons to avoid
military action against neighboring Iran even while stepping up pressure
to halt Tehran's nuclear program, analysts say.
"There are no good military options," James Carafano,
a military expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said
The United States could launch pinpoint strikes on targets in
Iran from US warships or from the air. But
short of an imminent threat from nuclear armed Iranian missiles,
any gain would likely be outweighed by the trouble Iran could cause
US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
Anthony Cordesman, an expert on Iran at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies, said Iran "would see any pre-emptive
attack as encirclement."
"It would probably react hard to whatever happened, and that
would make it more destabilizing than stabilizing," he said
in an interview.
"But there would be many people who argue just the opposite,"
Indeed, the perception that the United States is embarking on
a course of confrontation with Iran has grown here since The
New Yorker magazine reported this week that US commandos have been
operating inside Iran since mid 2004, secretly scouting targets
for possible air strikes.
The Pentagon attacked the story by investigative reporter Seymour
Hersh as "riddled with errors of fundamental fact" but
did not expressly deny conducting covert reconnaissance missions.
Vice President Dick Cheney, declaring on a radio talk show this
week that Iran was "right at the top of the list" of global
problems, warned that Israel might launch a pre-emptive strike on
its own to shut down Iran's nuclear program.
"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.
But Cheney played down the likelihood of US military action.
"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," he said.
One reason is that the US military already has its hands full
in Iraq, where 150,000 US troops are struggling to contain a predominantly
A ground war with Iran would be unsustainable, Carafano said in
"We couldn't do another large scale
ground operation without a major mobilization that would require
mobilizing basically all of the national guard," he
"Even if we wanted to do that, it would be pretty obvious
because it would take us months if not years to get the national
guard up and ready to go."
Even a limited US attack on Iran, which shares a 1,450-kilometer
(900-mile) open border with Iraq, would invite Tehran to use its
influence among Iraq's Shiites to sabotage the separate peace US
forces have enjoyed in southern Iraq. The same is true in Afghanistan,
which has a 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Iran.
"When you're trying to stabilize Iraq and you've got this
long border between Iran and Iraq, and you're trying to keep the
Iranians from interfering in Iraq so you can get the Iraq government
up and running, you shouldn't be picking a war with the Iranians,"
"It just doesn't make any sense from a geopolitical standpoint,"
Iran is believed to protect its most sensitive facilities by dispersing,
burying and hardening them, learning from the 1981 Israeli air strike
on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor.
So the payoff from surgical strikes on suspected nuclear facilities
would be uncertain and temporary, Carafano said.
"On the other hand," said Cordesman, "one can argue
that a successful strike has a powerful intimidating and deterrent
"So there will always be those people who argue that the
short-term political cost will be offset by the longer term impact
on Iran's political behavior and military capabilities," he
Moreover, he said, it's unknown to outsiders how close Iran is
to gaining a nuclear weapon, or what the US military has learned
about its efforts, further obscuring the course of action the United
States may take.
"When you deal with any power that proliferates that is hostile,
you are going to constantly update and improve your contingency
plans, and you are going to carry out intelligence reconnaissance,"
"One problem is, you are going to carry out virtually exactly
the same intelligence effort if you are contemplating military options
or if you are trying to make arms control work, or put pressure
on the UN and Europe to be more effective in their negotiating effort,"
"The difficulty here is there is essentially
one man who can make this decision. And that's the president of
the United States," he said.
A prominent and extremely wealthy
member of the Republican Party is due to arrive in Jerusalem on
Wednesday to add her support to a conference to be held there.
Orly Benny Davis is attending a conference that will discuss the
construction of a third Jewish temple. Furthermore, the conference
is being held on Davis' own expense and under her patronage.
Orly Benny Davis is insistent that the third temple be built in
Jerusalem and has contacted over 20 prominent members of Jewish
organisations inviting them to take part in the conference.
The American female politician, who is a personal friend of both
Ministers of Exterior Affairs and Education, believes that Jewish
dominance in Jerusalem should be consolidated through the building
of the temple.
"Jerusalem is the basis of the Jewish
state. It was impossible that Hirzl compiled a book without
thinking of Jerusalem. The Jews had stayed abroad for 2000 years
and then returned to that city following the publication of Hirzl's
book and Balfour declaration," Davis has been quoted as saying.
She believes "The construction of that temple would be an important
resource for the Israeli economy and would be an attractive tourist
Davis' plan has seen massive support from the Jewish "Women
For The Temple" Organisation, who recently began organizing
several events with the goal of promoting the Jewish woman's awareness
of constructing such a temple.
Four conferences have recently been held in addition to the holding
of weekly lectures in which Jewish women are urged to donate money
and jewelry in order to raise funds for the building of the temple.
However, the Aqsa Foundation for the Maintenance
of the Islamic Shrines has warned of a Zionist-U.S. scheme aimed
at obliterating all Islamic and Arab identity in Jerusalem.
The foundation has called on all Arabs and Muslims to shoulder
the responsibility of protecting the holy Aqsa Mosque and to take
such schemes as the one Orly Benny Davis is supporting seriously
as she seeks to consolidate Jewish control of the holy city of Jerusalem.
The foundation has urged Palestinians to organise mass visits to
the holy site and pray especially on Mount Arafat Day on Wednesday.
Furthermore, it reiterated the demands on Palestinians to offer
generous support to the Palestinian residents in Jerusalem to further
enforce their presence in the city.
The Sharon government intends
to strip thousands of West Bank Palestinians of their property in
occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli press quoting
newly released government documents.
At stake are thousands of donoms of land belonging to Palestinians
who live in the West Bank and are now unable to access their land
due to Israel's separation barrier.
The decision, reached by the Ministerial Committee for Jerusalem
Affairs in June of 2004, and approved by Prime Minister Sharon and
his attorney-general a month later, has not been publicised until
By some estimates, the total land to be expropriated
could add up to half of all East Jerusalem property.
The move is based on the Israeli Absentee Property
Law of 1950, which holds that assets of Jerusalemite Palestinians
who were in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the time of the 1948
War would be expropriated by the state of Israel, without the absentee
being eligible for compensation.
The law, which applied to millions of Palestinian refugees who
were unable to return to their homes after the 1948 war, has not
been applied to West Bank residents with property in East Jerusalem
The decision is the latest in a series of measures by the Israeli
government apparently aimed at eliminating Palestinian claims to
Jerusalem and ultimately predetermining the future status of the
According to the Israeli Human Rights group B'tselem, the development
of East Jerusalem, since its illegal annexation in 1967, has been
based on political considerations designed to strengthen Israeli
control over the city, by creating a decisive majority of Jews.
By all accounts, the Israeli ministry of interior
is using land expropriations, identity-card seizure, exorbitant
taxes and difficult-to-obtain building, family-reunion and residency
permits to slowly force Palestinian residents out of the city.
A law passed by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government
in the late 1990s, declared that any Palestinian who has not lived
in the city for seven continuous years loses his residency rights,
The Netanyahu law, whose time limit has since been
changed to three years, does not apply to Israeli Jews.
BAGHDAD, — Iraqi insurgents said they
had released eight Chinese hostages yesterday, as a militant group
said it had shot dead 15 kidnapped Iraqi soldiers in continued violence
ahead of this month's election.
A leader of Iraq's Shiite community said his supporters would
not be drawn into civil war despite being targeted by mainly Sunni
militants, and the interim government announced extraordinary security
measures for the Jan. 30 vote.
A video produced by insurgents showed the eight Chinese laborers
kidnapped earlier this month standing or kneeling in the desert
holding their passports.
A man with his face covered by a traditional checkered headdress
shook hands with each of them before they walked off camera. The
speaker on the tape said they were being released.
The Chinese Embassy in Baghdad confirmed the men had been freed,
but by nightfall said it was trying to locate them. [...]
|Militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
has reportedly declared war on next Sunday's election in Iraq.
An audiotape on an Islamist website purportedly voiced by the Jordanian-born
militant calls on Sunni Muslims to fight against the vote.
"We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy
and all those who seek to enact it," the speaker says.
Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for many bombings and beheadings
The US has put a $25m (£13m) reward on his head.
Correspondents say the voice on the latest recording sounded similar
to that on other messages attributed to the fugitive, whose group
is linked to al-Qaeda.
It attacked democracy as a springboard for "un-Islamic"
practices, claiming that its emphasis on majority rule violated
the principle that all laws must come from a divine source.
"Candidates in elections are seeking to become demi-gods,
while those who vote for them are infidels," it said.
The speaker reserved particular scorn for Iraq's Shia majority,
whose parties are widely expected to win next Sunday's election.
The Shia, it said, were poised to spread "their insidious
beliefs" to Baghdad and Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq.
Zarqawi claims to have masterminded several attacks on Shia targets,
including a car-bombing in 2003 that killed Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr
al-Hakim, former leader of one of Iraq's two main Shia parties.
A message attributed to Zarqawi earlier this week accused the Shia
of taking part in the US assault on the Sunni Muslim city of Falluja
and described their spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, as
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has meanwhile told the
BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme he believes the polls will
eventually spell the end of violence in Iraq.
But, he said, this will not happen immediately and insurgent attacks
are likely to continue in the short term.
The interim government has announced sweeping security measures
to protect voters in the 30 January election.
* Curfews will be extended
* In many areas, election staff intend to keep the location of
polling stations secret until the last minute
* Iraq's borders will be closed for three days around the election
* Baghdad's airport is to be closed for two days
* The movement of pedestrians and cars close to polling stations
will also be restricted, and non-official cars will be prevented
from travelling between Iraq's 18 provinces
* People will be barred from carrying weapons
| WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (Xinhuanet)
-- The US Defense Department refuted on Sunday a news report in The
Washington Post that the Pentagon has created a new espionage arm
and is interpreting US law to give Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
broad authority overclandestine operations abroad.
"There is no unit that is directly reportable to the Secretary
of Defense for clandestine operations as is described in the Washington
Post article of January 23, 2005" and the department "is
not attempting to 'bend' statutes to fit desired activities,"
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said in a statement.
The Post, quoting interviews with participants and documents itobtained,
reported on Sunday the Pentagon has created a previouslyundisclosed
organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, which arose from
Rumsfeld's written order to end his "near total dependence
on CIA" for what it known as human intelligence.
The report said the unit, which was designed to operate withoutdetection
and under the defense secretary's direct control, deploys small
teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators andtechnical specialists
alongside newly empowered special operationsforces and has been
operating in secret for two years, in Iraq, Afghanistan and other
The Strategic Support Branch was created to provide Rumsfeld with
independent tools for the "full spectrum of humint operations,"
the report said, quoting an internal account of its origin and mission.
In his statement, DiRita admitted that the Pentagon was attempting
to improve its human intelligence capability, in the Defense Human
Intelligence Service, a component of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
He said that before the Sept. 11 commission issued its final report
last year concluding that the country's human intelligence capability
must be improved, the Defense Human Intelligence Service had taken
steps "to make better human intelligence capability available
to assist combatant commanders for specific missions involving regular
or special operations forces."
TEHRAN, Jan. 22 (Xinhuanet)
-- Confronting recent US threats,Iran's senior officials have delivered
unprecedented stern verbal refutations, which analysts believe are
linked with its June 17 presidential election and the situation
US President George W. Bush said on Monday he would not rule out
military actions against Iran in his second term. Secretary of State-designate
Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday threatened to referIran's nuclear case
to the UN Security Council.Tehran was not surprised by these remarks
as they echoed thesame stance Washington has adopted toward Iran
since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
But in contrast with the past, Tehran's reaction to the verbal
hostility was tougher.
On Tuesday, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of Iran'spowerful
Expediency Council and former president, said Iran was "not
a proper place for adventurism".
One day later, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi, in
awritten statement, said Iran would "respond strongly to any
kind of unwise acts."
President Mohammad Khatami, who was then on a tour in Africa,said
on Thursday that Iran would stand up to any aggression, amessage
reported by the official IRNA news agency as a piece ofurgent news.
Analysts reckon that with the presidential polls only six monthsaway,
Khatami's government, which has failed to fulfill its promises of
reforms in the past eight years, was taking the chanceto show to
the people that the reformists were also ready to fightwhen the
national security was threatened.
The conservatives in Iran often criticize the government's weakstance
in negotiations with the Western countries.Besides, the upcoming
Iraqi elections slated for Jan. 30 is alsoone of Iran's top concerns.
Even though Tehran has categorically rejected an allegation of
interfering in Iraq's internal affairs, it can not deny that afriendly
Iraqi authority would be warmly welcomed.At this critical juncture,
Tehran must build a strong and determined image to instill confidence
into the minds of the IraqiShiites who are religiously close to
Iran, and any sign of weakness might promote an adverse result,
Iran is also keeping vigilance over the newly-elected hawkish
Just days before the new cabinet took office, Bush and Rice'sremarks
were viewed as the keynote of the US policy toward Iran inthe next
Iran, being challenged, had no choice but to warn the hawks and
encourage US doves with its strong reply, said analysts.All in all,
the vehement reaction of Tehran was determined bythe current sensitive
It is believed the coming months will witness new conflicts between
Washington and Tehran with the new cabinets of the United States,
Iraq and Iran coming into power.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday not to sell anti-aircraft
missiles to Syria, Israel’s neighboring arch foe, officials
Sharon told Putin during a “long and friendly” telephone
call that a missile deal under negotiation with Syria “endangers
Israel and (Palestinian National Authority Chairman) Mahmoud Abbas”
and should be stopped.
The Sharon-Putin conversation, according to diplomatic officials,
focused on the proposed deal that would reportedly include the sale
of Igla SA-18 anti-aircraft missiles, among the most sophisticated
shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles on the market, and the Iskander-E
ground-to-ground precision-guided missile system, The Jerusalem
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying Sharon
told Putin that “Syria and Hizbullah are encouraging terrorist
actions against Israeli targets, both from within Lebanon and via
Palestinian terrorist organizations, and added that they are the
main challenge to the new Palestinian leadership.”
The call was the first direct contact since Israel raised objections
earlier this month to a possible Russian sale of advanced Igla SA-18
missiles to Syria.
Russia is unlikely to go ahead with the missiles deal with Syria
at this time, diplomatic officials told the Post soon after the
Israel had demanded the deal be canceled, arguing the shoulder-fired
anti-aircraft missiles could disrupt stability if they fell into
the hands of Syrian-supported Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon.
But Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has denied reports in
the Israeli and Russian media that Moscow was negotiating a missile
deal with Syria.
Secretary of State-designate
Condoleezza Rice says the growing concentration of power in the
Kremlin is a problem for Washington, which has repeatedly voiced
concern over the state of Russian democracy, the Reuters news agency
Rice on Tuesday echoed concerns voiced by outgoing Secretary of
State Colin Powell about the rule of law and the protection of democratic
principles in Russia.
“(The Russian government) is quite constructive in many areas
... but that doesn’t excuse what is happening inside Russia,
where the concentration of power in the Kremlin to the detriment
of other institutions is a real problem,” she told the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, which must vote on her nomination.
“In Russia, we see that the path to democracy is uneven and
that its success is not yet assured.” Rice said, noting that
the United States and Russia cooperate on many issues, including
the war on terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.
“As we do so, we will continue to press the case for democracy,
and we will continue to make clear that the protection of democracy
in Russia is vital to the future of U.S.-Russian relations,”
A Soviet specialist, Rice’s comments did not go as far as
criticism by Powell in September that Russia appeared to be pulling
back from its democratic reforms.
The State Duma last month approved President Vladimir Putin’s
plans to scrap gubernatorial elections and allow the president to
nominate governors, subject to approval by local assemblies. Critics
believe that decision shows the Kremlin is becoming increasingly
A year ago, Powell was blunt in voicing Washington’s concerns.
In a front-page article in the Russian daily Izvestia in January,
he said Russian politics were insufficiently subject to the rule
of law and made clear there were limits to the U.S.-Russian relationship
without shared values.
President George W. Bush has not publicly voiced such criticism,
but U.S. officials said he discussed the issue extensively with
Putin in private last year.
The University of Toronto says it will not
interfere with a series of events, dubbed "Israeli Apartheid
Week," planned for later this month and organized by an independent
campus group, the Arab Students' Collective.
The week of themed discussions will feature talks on such subjects
as Palestinian and migrant labour in Israel.
"There are different forms of apartheid in Israel,"
said Ahmad Shokr, an organizer with the collective, explaining the
agenda for the week.
"Every day is theme-based — one day is focused on political
prisoners; another day is focused on the wall separating Israel
from Palestine, another day is focused on refugees, Shokr said.
Banning such discussions, said Professor Dave Farrar, vice-provost
for students, would violate the university's responsibility to promote
the basic freedoms of speech and association.
Farrar defended such events as vital to the university's role
as a place where ideas are exchanged freely.
"The very fact that the Arab Students' Collective and other
campus groups exist speaks to a central value of the U of T,"
he said. "As an academic community we have a fundamental commitment
to the principles of freedom of inquiry, freedom of speech and freedom
As well, he added, "the fact that the university creates
an environment where a recognized student group can express a view
on a controversial subject does not mean that the university itself
has expressed any view whatsover."
The decision was condemned by B'Nai Brith Canada's executive vice-president,
Frank Dimant, who said the week of events planned for Jan. 31 through
Feb. 4 "is nothing but a thinly veiled hate fest that threatens
the safety and security of the Jewish students whose well-being
the University is charged with protecting."
"It creates a poisoned atmosphere on campus," Dimant
added, "in which Jewish students are made to feel marginalized
An explosive device has killed an Afghan soldier
and wounded 12 others in the central province of Oruzgan, where
a suspected fighter died in a separate clash, the US military said.
"An improvised explosive device was detonated on Wednesday
in the province of Oruzgan, killing one Afghan National Army soldier,"
US military spokesman Major Mark McCann said on Saturday.
Twelve other soldiers were wounded in the incident, he added.
On Friday one American unit was attacked in the same province by
three armed men.
"As a result, one militant was wounded and later died of his
wounds," the spokesman said. [...]
KENT, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio man suspected of
fatally shooting two people he lived with ran from police to another
home where he killed a Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., woman before being
arrested Saturday, police said.
James Trimble, 44, was charged with three counts of aggravated
Officers discovered the bodies of Renee Bauer, 42, and her seven-year-old
son, Dakota Bauer, about 9 p.m. EST on Friday in Trimble's home
in Brimfield Township, police said.
Trimble, who a neighbour said was discharged
from the U.S. military recently, was wearing camouflage fatigues
and carrying an assault-type rifle when he was spotted nearby but
evaded capture, He fired several shots at police officers before
entering a home and taking a woman hostage, police said. [...]
KATHMANDU : Forty passengers died and 19 others
hurt when their overcrowded bus plunged 100 metres (330 feet) down
a ravine in western Nepal.
"A bus carrying more than 60 passengers, including a marriage
party, fell down 100 metres into a stream at Tiram in Pyuthan district
on Friday evening," deputy superintendent of police Mohan Raj
Joshi told AFP.
Among the dead was the bridegroom, he added.
Many passengers were on the roof of the vehicle travelling from
Sonpur in Dang, southwestern Nepal, when it crashed in Pyuthan,
some 325 kilometres (200 miles) west of Kathmandu.
Joshi said 10 people were killed instantly and 27 died before
getting to hospital. Three people died of their injuries in hospital
The fate of driver was not yet known.
The results of the third round
of elections in Ukraine in which Viktor Yushchenko was proclaimed
the final winner, far from being grounds for jubilation in Ukraine
and beyond, ought to give concern for the future of Ukraine to many.
The recent battle over the election for president
to succeed the pro-Moscow Leonid Kuchma in Ukraine was more complex
than the general Western media accounts suggest. Both Russian President
Vladimir Putin and George W Bush are engaged in high stakes geopolitical
power plays. Both sides in Ukraine have evidently engaged in widespread
vote fraud. The Western media chose to report only one side, however.
Case in point: a non-governmental organization, the British Helsinki
Human Rights Group, reported it found more vote irregularities on
the side of the opposition Yushchenko in the contested November
vote, than from the pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovych. Yet the media
reported as if fraud only took place on the side of the pro-Moscow
The Kuchma regime was indeed anti-democratic, and no model for
human rights, one factor which feeds an opposition movement. Since
the collapse of the Soviet Union, economic conditions for most Ukrainians
have been beyond deplorable, providing fertile ground for any opposition
to promise better times. Yet the deeper issue
is Eurasian geopolitical control, an issue little understood in
The Ukraine elections were not about Western-sanctioned democratic
voting, as some magic formula to open the door to free market reform
and prosperity for Ukrainians. They were
mainly about who influences the largest neighbor of Russia, Washington
or Moscow. A dangerous power play by Washington is involved, to
put it mildly.
A look at the geostrategic background makes things clearer. Ukraine
is historically tied to Russia, geographically and culturally. It
is Slavic, and home of the first Russian state, Kiev Rus. Its 52
million people are the second largest population in eastern Europe,
and it is regarded as the strategic buffer
between Russia and a string of new US North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) bases from Poland to Bulgaria to Kosovo, all of which have
carefully been built up since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Most important, Ukraine is the transit land
for most major Russian Siberian gas pipelines to Germany and the
rest of Europe.
Yushchenko favors European Union and NATO membership for Ukraine.
Not surprising, he is backed, and strongly, by Washington. Former
US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has been directly
involved on behalf of the Bush administration in grooming Yushchenko
for his new role.
As far back as November 2001, Yushchenko was reportedly wined and
dined in Washington by the Bush administration, paid for by the
US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Martin
Foulner in the Glasgow Herald of November 26 reported the details
of the meeting. NED, it's worth noting, was set up during the Ronald
Reagan administration by US Congress to "privatize" certain
Central Intelligence Agency operations, and allow Washington to
claim clean hands in various foreign meddling. Ukraine is part of
a wider US pattern of active "regime change" in eastern
Europe and Central Asia.
Brzezinski is directly involved in Ukraine events, and has openly
condemned the initial November election results, along with former
US secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell. Brzezinski's
entire career has been geared to dismantle Russian power in Eurasia
since the time he was Jimmy Carter's National Security Council chief.
If Brzezinski succeeds in getting his hand-picked man in power in
Kiev, that will be a major step in the direction of US domination
of all Eurasia. That, of course, is the aim, as Brzezinski makes
explicit in his writings. It is useful to quote Brzezinski directly
from his now infamous 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American
Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives:
Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard,
is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent
country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases
to be a Eurasian empire ... if Moscow regains control over Ukraine,
with its 52 million people and major resources, as well as access
to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal
to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia. The
states deserving America's strongest geopolitical support are Azerbaijan,
Uzbekistan and Ukraine, all three being geopolitically pivotal.
Indeed, Kiev's role reinforces the argument that Ukraine is the
critical state, insofar as Russia's own future evolution is concerned.
And why Eurasia? Brzezinski replies:
A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's
three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere
glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would
almost automatically entail Africa's subordination, rendering the
Western hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the
world's central continent ... About 75% of the world's people live
in Eurasia, and most of the world's physical wealth is there as
well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts
for about 60% of the world's GNP [gross national product] and about
three-fourths of the world's known energy resources ... Eurasia
is also the location of most of the world's politically assertive
and dynamic states. After the United States, the next six largest
economies and the next six biggest spenders on military weaponry
are located in Eurasia. All but one of the world's overt nuclear
powers and all but one of the covert ones are located in Eurasia.
The world's two most populous aspirants to regional hegemony and
global influence are Eurasian. All of the potential political and/or
economic challengers to American primacy are Eurasian.
Belgrade to Kiev to ...
There is a distinct pattern of US covert actions in changing regimes
in Eastern Europe, in the context of this Eurasian strategy of the
US, in which Ukraine fits the pattern. The Belgrade vote in 2000
to topple Serbian Slobodan Milosevic was organized and run by US
ambassador Richard Miles. This has been well documented by Balkan
sources and others. Significantly, the same Miles was then sent
to Georgia, where he engineered the toppling of Eduard Shevardnadze
in favor of the US-groomed Mikhail Saakashvili last year, another
pro-NATO man on Moscow's fringe. James Baker III played a key role
as well, as some noted at the time.
Now Miles was reportedly involved in Kiev, with the US ambassador
there, John Herbst, former ambassador in Uzbekistan. Curious coincidence?
The Ukraine "democratic youth" organization, Pora ("High
Time") is a slick, US-created entity. It is modeled on the
Belgrade youth group, Otpor, which Miles also set up with help of
NED and George Soros' Open Society, USAID and similar friends. Pora
was given a brand image, for selling to the Western media, a slick
logo of a black-white clenched fist. It even got a nifty name, the
"chestnut revolution", as in "chestnuts roasting
on an open fire".
Before he came to power, Saakashvili was brought by Miles to Belgrade
to study the model there. In Ukraine, according to British media
and other accounts, Soros' Open Society, the US government's NED
and the Carnegie Endowment, along with the State Department's USAID,
were all involved in fostering Ukraine regime change. Little wonder
Moscow is a bit concerned with Washington's actions in Ukraine.
A key part of the media game has been the
claim that Yushchenko won according to "exit polls". What
is not said is that the people doing these "exit polls"
as voters left voting places were US-trained and paid by an entity
known as Freedom House, a neo-conservative operation in Washington.
Freedom House trained some 1,000 poll observers, who loudly declared
an 11-point lead for Yushchenko. Those claims
triggered the mass marches claiming fraud. The current head of Freedom
House is former CIA director and outspoken neo-conservative, Admiral
James Woolsey, who calls the Bush
administration's "war on terror" "World War IV".
On the Freedom House board sits none other than Brzezinski. This
would hardly seem to be an impartial human-rights organization.
Why does Washington care so much about vote integrity
next door to Russia? Is Ukraine democracy more important than Azeri
or Uzbek "democracy"? There is something else going on
besides what appears to be a vote count. We have to ask why it is
that the Bush administration suddenly is so keen on the sanctity
of the democratic voting process as to risk an open break with Moscow
at this time.
Eurasian oil geopolitics
US policy, as Brzezinski openly stated in The Grand Chessboard,
is to Balkanize Eurasia, and ensure that no possible stable economic
or political region between Russia, the EU and China emerges in
the future that might challenge US global hegemony. This is the
core idea of the September 2002 Bush Doctrine of "pre-emptive
In taking control of Ukraine, Washington
would take a giant step to encircle Russia for the future.
Russian moves to use its vast energy reserves to play for room in
rebuilding its political role would be over. Chinese efforts to
link with Russia to secure some independence from US energy control
would also be over. Iran's attempts to secure
support from Russia against US pressure would also end. Iran's ability
to enter into energy agreements with China would also likely end.
Cuba and Venezuela would also likely fall prey to a pro-Washington
regime change soon after.
Washington policy is aimed at direct control over the oil and gas
flows from the Caspian, including Turkmenistan, and to counter Russian
regional influence from Georgia to Ukraine to Azerbaijan and Iran.
The background issue is Washington's unspoken recognition of the
looming exhaustion of the world's major sources of cheap high-quality
oil, the problem of global oil depletion, or as the late American
geologist M King Hubbard termed it, of peak oil.
Over the coming five to 10 years the world
economy faces a major new series of energy shocks as older fields
from the North Sea to Alaska to Libya and even major fields in Saudi
Arabia, such as the giant Ghawar field, peak and begin to decline.
Many large fields already have peaked, such as the North Sea, perhaps
one reason for the British interest in Iraq. And no new fields of
a North Sea size have been found to replace them.
It was clearly no accident of politics that former
Halliburton chief Dick Cheney became vice president, with quasi-presidential
powers, in the current Washington administration. Nor that his first
job was to oversee the Energy Task Force. In late 1999, as chief
executive officer of Halliburton, Cheney delivered a speech to the
London Institute of Petroleum. Halliburton, of course, is the world's
leading oilfield services and construction group. Cheney presumably
had a pretty good picture of where there was oil in the world.
In his speech, Cheney presented the picture of world oil supply
and demand to fellow oil industry people. "By some estimates,"
he stated, "there will be an average of 2% annual growth in
global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively,
a 3% natural decline in production from existing reserves."
Cheney added an alarming note: "That means by 2010 we will
need on the order of an additional 50 million barrels a day."
This is equivalent to more than six Saudi Arabia's of today's size.
He cited China and East Asia as fast-growth regions, and noted
that the oilfields of the Middle East were, along with the Caspian
Sea, the major untapped oil prospects.
Oil pipeline politics are also directly involved in the fight for
control of Ukraine. In July 2004, the Ukraine parliament voted to
open an unused oil pipeline to transport oil from Russian Urals
fields to the port of Odessa. The Bush administration vehemently
protested this would make Ukraine more dependent on Moscow.
The 674 kilometer oil pipeline, completed by the Ukraine government
in 2001, between Odessa on the Black Sea and Brody in western Ukraine,
can carry up to 240,000 barrels a day of oil. In April 2004, the
Ukraine government agreed to extend Brody to the Polish Port of
Gdansk, a move hailed in Washington and Brussels. It would carry
Caspian oil to the EU, independent of Russia. That is, were Ukraine
to become dominated by a pro-EU pro-NATO regime in the November
The stakes were big. George Bush Sr made a quiet trip to Kiev in
May to meet both candidates, according to the British New Statesman
of December 6. Former US secretary of state Madelaine Albright flew
in to Kiev as well.
Last July, the Kuchma government suddenly reversed itself and voted
to reverse the oil flows in Brody-Odessa, in order to allow it to
transport Russian crude to the Black Sea.
Commenting on the significance of that move, Ilan Berman of the
American Foreign Policy Council in Washington remarked at the time,
"Kremlin officials understand full well that Odessa-Brody has
the potential to deal a fatal blow to Russia's current near monopoly
on Caspian energy." Berman then added a telling note, "Worse
still, from Russia's perspective, the resulting European and US
economic attention would all but cement Kiev's westward trajectory."
The pipeline to Poland, a three-year project, would make Poland
a major new hub for non-Russian, non-Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries oil as well, Berman notes.
The decision to reverse the pipeline last July would greatly weaken
that westward shift of Ukraine. The next government will have to
tackle the issue. Ukraine is a strategic battleground in this geopolitical
tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow. Ukrainian pipeline routes
account for 75% of EU oil imports from Russia and Central Asia,
and 34% of its natural gas import. In the near future, EU energy
imports via Ukraine are set to expand significantly with the opening
of huge oil and gas fields in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan
and Uzbekistan. Ukraine is a key piece on Brzezinski's Eurasian
chessboard, to put it mildly, as well as Putin's.
WASHINGTON - Thirteen years ago,
fringe presidential candidate Ross Perot lamented what he colorfully
termed "a giant sucking sound" of US jobs heading to Mexico.
Now it seems Perot was looking in the wrong direction.
According to a new report, the ballooning trade deficit with China
is the biggest worry for US workers, costing at least 1.5 million
jobs since 1989. It also threatens to leave more workers from traditionally
protected sectors unemployed in the future, says a study released
on Tuesday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a pro-labor research
group based in Washington DC.
The institute said US trade deficit with China has swelled 20-fold
over the last 14 years, from US$6.2 billion in 1989 to $124 billion
in 2003. It is expected to have risen by more than 20% last year,
to over $150 billion. The report was prepared for the US-China Economic
and Security Review Commission, a panel set up by Congress that
has pushed for a tougher approach toward China on trade. Established
in October 2000, the panel has 12 members whose duties include submitting
an annual report on the national security implications of the US
economic relationship with China.
Reflecting the growing concern in the US establishment over China's
trading prowess, US Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said on Wednesday
that China risks a backlash from the US because of subsidies to
its state-run companies and its currency policy. "When China's
leaders fail to produce results on the points of friction in our
trading relationship, their failure only empowers the critics within
the US political system," Evans said while addressing the American
Chamber of Commerce in Beijing.
The EPI report finds that US exports increased from $5.8 billion
in 1989 to $26.1 billion in 2003, a four-fold increase. However,
imports rose from $11.9 billion to $151.7 billion in the same period,
a 12-fold increase on top of a base that was already twice as large
as exports. As a result, the US-China trade deficit increased by
nearly 2,000%, says the report.
The report recommends a re-examination of US strategy toward China,
especially because the Asian country is also rapidly winning ground
in advanced industries such as car manufacturing and aerospace products
that have provided the foundations of the United States' industrial
base for generations. Semiconductor technology, once thought immune
to lower-wage Chinese competition, is now open for Chinese imports.
"The assumptions we built our trade relationship with China
on have proved to be a house of cards," said Robert E Scott,
director of international programs at EPI. "Everyone knew we
would lose jobs in labor-intensive industries like textiles and
apparel, but we thought we could hold our own in the capital-intensive,
high-tech arena. The numbers we're seeing now put the lie to that
hope - as China expands its share even in core industries such as
autos and aerospace."
According to the study, China's exports to the US of electronics,
computers, and communications equipment, along with other products
that use more highly skilled labor and advanced technologies, are
growing much faster than its exports of low-value, labor-intensive
items such as apparel, shoes and plastic products. In fact, China
now accounts for the entire $32 billion US trade deficit in so-called
"advanced technology products". That shift, in turn, reduces
the demand for high-tech workers and skilled business professionals
in the US. "It is hard to overstate the challenges posed by
this export behemoth," says the report.
The 1.5 million job opportunities lost across the US are distributed
among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with the biggest
losers including California (211,045), Texas (106,262), New York
(87,037), Illinois (74,070), Pennsylvania (73,612), Florida (65,733),
North Carolina (65,279), Ohio (61,914), Michigan (54,313), and Georgia
(49,589). The report points a finger at what it says is an undervalued
Chinese currency, making it difficult for US firms to export to
China while it subsidizes China's exports to the US.
"China's refusal to revalue its exchange rate despite the
enormous demand for its currency is also a major contributor to
the growth of the US trade deficit," says the report. It also
challenges assumptions about China's entry into the World Trade
Organization (WTO). The membership was supposed to provide the opening
for a rapid growth in US exports to trim down the trade deficit
with China. While the export growth rate has gone up since 2001
from a small base, the value of those exports has been inundated
by a rapidly rising tide of imports.
The WTO is based on a free trade and investment agreement that
has provided international investors with a unique set of guarantees
designed to stimulate foreign-direct investment and the movement
of factories around the world, especially from the US and Europe
to low-wage locations such as China and Mexico. WTO agreements are
often criticized as lacking any real labor or environmental standards,
making it cheaper for multinational corporations to relocate factories
and businesses to areas with the lowest costs.
Multi-national companies from around the world have used the protections
for investment and intellectual property provided by the WTO to
quickly expand investment, production, and exports from China, says
the report. The US remains China's primary market for exports. "Thus
the WTO and the broader process of globalization have tilted the
economic playing field in favor of investors, and against workers
and the environment, resulting in a race to the bottom in wages
and environmental quality," the report concludes.
The largest emission of radiation
by the sun in 15 years could disrupt mobile telephone communications
as well as television and radio reception, scientists have said.
Large solar flares were unleashed when energy stored in magnetic
fields above sunspots was suddenly released, according to the scientists
at Britain's Royal Astronomical Society.
The effects of the solar flares were seen at different points on
earth, including brilliant auroras over parts of Britain on Friday
"Flares can affect short-wave communications and satellites
in the earth's orbit, which could mean problems for phones, television
and radio signals," Peter Bond, spokesman for the Royal Astronomical
"The flares have caused a huge amount of geo-magnetic activity
as the magnetic field takes a while to settle," he said.
It was the largest radiation storm since October 1989, according
The Earth's magnetic field was also bombarded with extra energy
from the sun on 24 October 2003 when a geomagnetic storm sent charged
particles that affected electric utilities, airline communications
and satellite navigation systems.
Nineteen miners have died after a flood and
two gas explosions hit separate coal mines in China, the official
Xinhua News Agency reported today.
A mine shaft belonging to the Yaojie Coal and Electricity Co.
in the western province of Gansu flooded Friday, trapping and killing
five workers, Xinhua said. In China's northeastern province of Liaoning,
seven other workers died instantly Friday and two later succumbed
to injuries after a gas explosion ripped through the Daming Coal
Mine, Xinhua said.
Four others were injured in the accident after leaking gas was
ignited as miners tried to reinforce a collapsing tunnel, it said.
A separate blast in the southern province of Yunnan on Thursday
took the lives of five miners and injured four, it said.
Port Blair, January 19: Standing in the heat
in a black burqa, Ribeya Yasmeen wearily picks up her luggage to
join the jostling queue of people frantic to board a ship leaving
tsunami-hit Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Yasmeen, her husband and three children are part of a continuing
exodus from the remote archipelago to the mainland, 1,200 km (750
Since Dec. 26, more than 6,000 people have left
the islands by ship, many of them in fear after the earthquake off
nearby Sumatra, the tsunami and more than 130 aftershocks.
"The ground has not stopped shaking. We are now terrified
and want to leave," Yasmeen said as her family picked up a
TV set, cardboard boxes and suitcases to be loaded onto the crowded
M.S. Nancowry, headed for the tsunami-hit city of Madras in the
Some of those leaving lost homes or relatives or both to the giant
tsunami waves, while others have just packed their bags and decided
to leave the archipelago they once called home.
The mass departure, still on 23 days after the tsunami struck,
has been also fuelled by reports some of parts of the islands have
tilted into the sea and that surrounding sea waters had risen and
become more turbulent after Dec. 26.
Rumours are rife the entire chain may be sinking,
a theory the authorities, still struggling to provide relief to
thousands of homeless, are keen to debunk.
"They have a fear which one can understand, given the terrible
devastation. But we are counselling them to think about it and not
to rush into a decision (about leaving)," Home Secretary Dhirendra
Singh told a news conference.
Around 7,500 people have died or are presumed dead in the island
chain which had a population of more than 356,000.
The navy has said its ships were encountering rougher waters and
higher sea levels and New Delhi has sent geologists to study the
changes in the island's topography.
During high tide, low-lying areas in and around the capital of
Port Blair get inundated with the sea flooding roads, fields and
FIGHTS AT JETTY
All this has made life miserable for the ticketing clerks at Port
Blair's Phoenix Bay jetty. They say demand for tickets for ships
leaving for the mainland has been outstripping supply by at least
four times since the tsunami.
"I have never seen such big crowds.
People are pushing, shoving and there have been fights. People abuse
us and even physically threaten us when we say the tickets are sold
out for a ship," said weary ticketing clerk B. Srinivasan.
Passenger ships -- which the island chain's shipping department
is managing to run despite broken jetties -- are being loaded beyond
their capacity and policemen have been posted to control crowds.
"These islands used to be heaven," said Kishan Lal,
a private bus conductor, pointing to a small stretch of golden sand
on a narrow beach framed by coconut trees. "But I keep thinking
I will get washed away. I will also leave."
A light earthquake was felt on Saturday afternoon
in the Dead Sea and northern Jerusalem. Israel Radio reported.
No injuries or damage were reported.
The quake's epicenter was in the Dead Sea. It measured 3.5 on
the Richter scale.
In the past year, at least two earthquakes were felt in the Jerusalem
In July 2004, a 4.7 magnitude earthquake shook the area. People
throughout Israel reported feeling the quake, as did people as far
away as Amman, Jordan.
RESIDENTS of a small town were left terrified
after it was struck by the area's most powerful earthquake in 15
Some feared that a plane had crashed or a bomb had gone off in
Killin, on the banks of Loch Tay, after hearing
a loud bang which caused windows to rattle.
But scientists yesterday confirmed it was an earthquake measuring
2.7 on the Richter scale.
Householders called police at around 10pm following the 30second
tremor on Thursday night.
Once an emergency was ruled out, officers contacted the British
Geological Survey in Edinburgh, who confirmed the epicentre was
in the middle of the Perthshire hills, three miles north-west of
There are few towns nearby and there did not appear to be any
structural damage to buildings in the area.
Killin is about 40 miles north of Stirling and 45 miles west of
Perth and sits on a minor fault in the earth's surface.
Maureen Gauld, who owns The Antique Shop on the main street with
husband James, said: 'We thought it sounded
like a plane crashing outside our house.
'It was like an explosion. It was
a bit of a shock. One minute we were watching television, the next
the house seemed to rise off its founda-tions and settle back down
again. Ours is a Victorian house and it rattled all the windows,
but neither a picture nor an ornament was out of place.'
Shelagh McPartland, 57, owner of Craigard Hotel, Killin, described
the tremor as terrifying. She said: 'The whole building just shook,
like a bomb had gone off. It was extremely
'I was sitting in our lounge and everything was moving. I looked
out the window to see if someone had crashed into the hotel.
'We ran outside and everyone in the village was there but no one
knew what had happened.'
Fiona Farquharson, 41, who owns Dochart Craft Centre, said: 'It
felt just like an explosion. It only lasted seconds but it seemed
'It was only as time went on that we started to realise it was
an earthquake. We have had them before in this area but never anything
like this. Everything's talking about it.'
A spokesman for Central Scotland Police said: 'Many people across
the region felt their houses shake and their windows rattle.
'We had a few calls from people who thought there
had been an explosion or sonic boom.
'It's not a particularly populated area but those who felt the
quake got a bit of a shock.'
Being a native Californian, I have been in several large earthquakes
including the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake magnitude 7.1.
Funny thing though, I have never "heard" an earthquake.
I wonder what it was that the resident heard that sounded like
"thunder". Maybe it was not a natural quake???
The Wellington region was jolted again tonight
by another earthquake.
The Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences said the tremor
rated 4.2 on the Richter scale and was centred within 5km of Upper
Hutt at a depth of 30km.
Tonight's quake was recorded at 9.14pm.
GNS described it as an aftershock of the 5.5 magnitude quake that
hit Upper Hutt yesterday morning.
Today's earthquake and yesterday's follow a flurry of seismic
activity in the lower North Island on Tuesday when 10 earthquakes
were recorded over a 10-hour period.
A MAN is feared to have drowned after being
swept away by flash floods in a popular canyoning area of the Blue
Mountains in New South Wales.
The 32-year-old Sydney man disappeared as a wall of water surged
through the narrow canyon at Empress Falls, between Springwood and
Wentworth Falls, after hail and rain storms struck about 4pm yesterday.
A female member of his six-member abseiling expedition dislocated
her shoulder, and police rescue and ambulance officers were still
trying to carry her from the area at 8.30pm.
Blue Mountains police duty officer Acting Superintendent Mark
Davis said the man had become separated from his five companions
and lost his footing while trying to reach them.
"He tried to get to them. He jumped into the water and hasn't
been seen since," Superintendent Davis said.
(CP) - A massive snowstorm accompanied by frigid
winds pummelled a wide swath of southern Ontario on Saturday - and
was on a path to wallop Atlantic Canada early Sunday.
The blizzard, the cause of at least 150 collisions on city streets
and Ontario highways due to black ice and whiteouts, would be the
third heavy snowfall for the East Coast in a week.
"Already we're running above average for snowfall, and this
storm will push us way over," Darin Borgel, Environment Canada
meteorologist, said Saturday at the storm prediction centre in Dartmouth,
Some flights at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, Canada's
busiest, were delayed or cancelled because of the storm, said Connie
Turner, spokeswoman for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.
"It is Canada," Turner said, adding the airport would
likely be fully operational by Sunday.
Anywhere from 15 to 30 centimetres of snow was expected to have
fallen from Windsor, Ont., to Belleville, Ont. by the time the storm
system passed through, Environment Canada said. Forecasters warned
some cities would be knee-high in the white stuff by the end of
Wind chills of -30 C to -40 C were also expected from London,
Ont., to Ottawa. [...]
Whiteouts were also reported in downtown Toronto, Burlington,
Oakville and Hamilton.
Nova Scotia was expected to receive up to 40 centimetres of snow
on Sunday, with winds gusting to 100 kilometres per hour. Parts
of New Brunswick were expected to get a 20-centimetre dumping.
A cold snap already in the region was only expected to make matters
"We're looking at wind chills around -35 C with the snow
coming down (in New Brunswick)," Borgel said. "Being exposed
to that outside, it's very dangerous if you're out for any length
Newfoundland was already being lashed by a separate storm Saturday
that had dropped about 16 centimetres of snow on the St. John's
area by mid-day.
The latest blizzard, which originated in the U.S. Midwest and
resulted in the cancellations of hundreds of flights there on Saturday,
was expected to reach Newfoundland on Monday.
Storm warnings were posted from Wisconsin to New England. Authorities
reported three men dead - one after falling through ice in Ohio
and two others who died of apparent heart attacks while removing
About 400 flights were cancelled Saturday at Chicago's O'Hare
International Airport and hundreds more were reported at the Kennedy,
LaGuardia and Newark airports in New York's metropolitan area.
Two airplanes slid off a taxiway while trying to take off Saturday
morning at Pittsburgh International Airport, although no injuries
NEW YORK - Hundreds of airline flights were
canceled Saturday and fleets of road plows were warmed up as a paralyzing
snowstorm barreled out of the Midwest and spread across the Northeast
with a potential for up to 20 inches of snow
driven by 50 mph wind.
Storm warnings were posted from Wisconsin to New England, where
the National Weather Service posted blizzard warnings in effect
through Sunday. By afternoon, snow was falling across a region stretching
from Wisconsin and Illinois to Virginia and the New England states.
One man died after falling through ice on a pond in Ohio, where
two others died of apparent heart attacks while removing snow, authorities
Temperatures in Maine fell to 36 below zero at Masardis, and Bangor
dropped to a record low of 29 below. Meteorologists predicted
wind up to 50 mph would push wind chill readings to 8 below zero
in New York and New Jersey. [...]
Up to a foot of snow had fallen in Wisconsin and Michigan, and
wind gusted to more than 60 mph across Iowa. As much as 18 inches
of snow was forecast in northern New Jersey and accumulations of
up to 20 inches were possible in parts of New England and the New
York City area, the weather service said. A foot was likely in northern
sections of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
While crews in the Midwest labored to remove what already had fallen,
highway departments in the Northeast readied hundreds of plows and
salt-spreading trucks. New York City canceled all vacations for
its sanitation workers and called people in on their days off to
handle the snow. Kennedy International Airport had machines capable
of melting 500 tons of snow an hour. [...]
The blowing snow caused frustrating delays as airlines called off
About 400 flights were canceled Saturday
at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and dozens more were called
off at the city's Midway Airport. More than 200 people stayed
the night at the two airports because of flights canceled the night
Even more chain-reaction cancellations were expected at Chicago
and elsewhere as the storm clamped down on airports on the East
Coast, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Annette Martinez.
The New York metropolitan area's Kennedy
and Newark airports had dozens of cancellations as the storm arrived
Saturday afternoon, said Port Authority spokesman Alan Hicks.
LaGuardia had nearly 200 cancellations by 2 p.m.
By noon at Philadelphia International Airport, the storm had already
wiped out about 25 percent of the normal load of 1,100 daily arrivals
and departures. A private jet and a commuter plane slid off a taxiway
at Pittsburgh International Airport; no one was injured.
On the highways, Pennsylvania State Police reported dozens of accidents,
including one involving 11 cars. New Jersey banned tractor-trailer
rigs and motorcycles from the New Jersey Turnpike and slashed the
speed limit to 45 mph. [...]
VIENNA - An ice storm in Austria left three
dead on a highway in the south on Friday when a motorist lost control
of his car, police said.
Police said falling rain immediately froze leading to a series
of accidents, in which two women and a Polish man were killed near
the town of Kaiserwald when their car flipped over.
In western Austria, the highway leading to a tunnel in the Brenner
pass linking Italy and Austria was closed due to accidents caused
by winds of over 120 kilometres (75 miles) an hour.
In Kitzbuehel, a World Cup Super-G ski race was postponed until
Monday due to difficult conditions from rain, snow and high winds.
Officials, meanwhile, put out avalanche warnings for the Austrian
Smoking may provide some protection
against the onset of Parkinson’s disease, says a Swedish study.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden’s leading
medical research centre, looked at the medical and death records
of sets of Swedish twins, in which one smoked and the other did
“Many studies have shown a protective effect of cigarette
smoking on Parkinson’s disease,” said the study published
online this month by the Annals of Neurology – but many have
argued that this may have been due to genetic factors.
By studying twins with different life styles, the researchers said
they sought to exclude the genetic factor.
They found no association between Parkinson’s disease, a
degenerative neurological condition, and alcohol, coffee or place
But smokers appeared to be less affected, which the researchers
said, confirmed “the protective effect of smoking on Parkinson’s
disease” and established that the association “is only
partially explained by genetic and familial environmental factors.”
A pregnant Russian woman went into labour in
the middle of a parachute jump.
Marija Usova gave birth to a baby girl minutes after landing from
the jump in Moscow.
She had ignored warnings when she decided to arrange the jump
when she was eight months pregnant.
Halfway through her jump she suddenly felt an enormous pain and
realised she had gone into labour.
She managed to control her descent, although she said she was
close to passing out at times, and landed safely where she immediately
began to give birth, local media reported.
Doctors on hand rushed to her aid and helped deliver the baby.
Usova said the last words she remembers hearing were: "It's
a girl" before waking up in a hospital.
She said: "I wanted my baby to have
the beautiful feeling of flying through the air and free-falling
before it was born and give it something really unusual.
"I was already in the air when I suddenly felt a massive
pain. I realised that it had already started.
"I cried out: "Oh God help me" and kept my legs
tightly together but beyond that there wasn't much more I could
do. I just kept thinking that my baby had to survive this. But every
second of that descent seemed to take eternity."
She said she had decided to name her daughter Larisa: "It
means Seagull in ancient Greek."
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