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Control, Thought Control, World Control
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of the Day
More than two years ago, we wrote here of
a secret Pentagon plan to foment terrorism
by sending covert agents to infiltrate terrorist groups and goad
them into action -- in other words, committing acts of
murder and destruction. The purpose was two-fold: first, to bring
the terrorist groups into the open, where they could be counterattacked;
and second, to justify U.S. military attacks on the countries
where the terrorists were operating -- attacks which, in the Pentagon's
words, would put those nations' "sovereignty at risk." It
was a plan that countenanced -- indeed, encouraged -- the deliberate
murder of innocent people and the imposition of U.S. military
rule anywhere in the world that U.S. leaders desired.
This plan is now being activated.
In fact, it's being expanded, as The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh
revealed last week. Not only will U.S.-directed
agents infiltrate existing terrorist groups and provoke them into
action, but the Pentagon itself will create its own terrorist
groups and "death squads." After establishing their terrorist
"credentials" through various atrocities and crimes, these American-run
groups will then be able to ally with -- and ultimately undermine
-- existing terrorist groups.
Top-level officials in the Pentagon, the U.S. intelligence services
and the Bush administration confirmed to Hersh that the plan is
going forward, under the direction of Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld -- just as we noted here in November 2002.
Through a series of secret executive orders, George W. Bush has
given Rumsfeld the authority to turn the entire world into "a
global free-fire zone," a top Pentagon adviser says. These
secret operations will be carried out with virtually no oversight;
in many cases, even the top military commanders in the affected
regions will not be told about them. The American people, of course,
will never know what's being done in their name.
The covert units -- including the Pentagon-funded
terrorist groups and hit squads -- will be operating outside all
constraints of law and morality. "We're going to be riding
with the bad boys," one insider told Hersh. Another likened it
to the palmy days of the Reagan-Bush years: "Do you remember the
right-wing execution squads in El Salvador? We founded them and
we financed them. The objective now is to recruit locals in any
area we want. And we aren't going to tell Congress about it."
Indeed, we reported here last summer that Bush has already budgeted
$500 million to fund local paramilitaries and guerrilla groups
in the most volatile areas of the world, a measure guaranteed
to produce needless bloodshed, destruction and suffering for innocent
people already ravaged by conflict.
The activation of the Pentagon terrorist operation is part of
Bush's second-term expansion of the "war on terror." Despite some
obfuscating rhetoric about "diplomacy," the Bush regime is pressing
ahead with a hard-line strategy aimed at opening new military
fronts in the "global free-fire zone." Any dissenting voices within
the government are being ruthlessly purged.
The Pentagon's secret forces are set for operations in at least
10 countries, and Bush insiders "repeatedly" told Hersh that "Iran
is the next strategic target."
Iran has long been a focus of the small clique of "global dominationists"
-- led by Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and their acolytes
-- who engineered the invasion of Iraq. This
group is determined to "whack Iran," as one insider put it, and
they're not at all discouraged by the debacle in Iraq; indeed,
to them it's a rousing success. Their first objective --
openly stated years ago, before Bush took office -- was the overthrow
of Saddam Hussein's regime and the planting of a U.S. "military
footprint" in Iraq. This has now been done. The fact that it has
plunged the Iraqi people into a hell of violence, chaos, terror
and extremism is of no real concern to the clique. Their lofty
rhetoric about "freedom" and "liberation" is meaningless sham,
shuck and jive for the rubes. By the admission of the clique's
own publications, they seek strategic control over the world's
energy resources in order to preserve and expand American geopolitical
and economic hegemony in the new century. Everything else -- including
the security of the American people, put at increasing risk by
the clique's reckless policies -- is of secondary importance.
U.S. forces are already conducting military
reconnaissance inside Iran in preparation for strikes on alleged
nuclear weapons facilities, Hersh reports. The
Pentagon is feverishly updating war plans for a "maximum ground
and air invasion of Iran," incorporating the new staging areas
now available in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, while employing
an Iranian terrorist group, MEK, to launch covert ops and terrorist
acts against Tehran. MEK was once given sanctuary by Hussein,
who used the group as a brutal enforcer against Kurd and Shiite
insurgents. Now Bush, "riding with the bad boys," has embraced
the MEK murderers as his own.
In their ignorance and arrogance, the Bushists will almost certainly
strike at Iran -- despite the fact that even Iranian dissidents
support the effort to make their nation a nuclear power and would
join the mullahs in retaliation. The result will be a conflict
far surpassing the horror and magnitude of the Iraq disaster.
In our original report on the Pentagon's terror scheme, we wrote:
"Bush and his cohorts are plunging the world into an abyss, an
endless night of murder and terror -- wholesale, retail, state-sponsored,
privatized; of fear and degradation, servility, chaos, and the
perversion of all that's best in us." Now the night has come.
Now the United States stands openly -- even proudly -- for terrorism,
torture and the Hitlerian principle of aggressive war. America
has fallen into the pit -- and the hopes of the world go with
NEW YORK -- The U.S. Air Force
is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Iran's ayatollahs,
flying American combat aircraft into Iranian
airspace in an attempt to lure Tehran into turning on air defense
radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in
future targeting data, administration officials said.
"We have to know which targets to attack
and how to attack them," said one, speaking on condition
The flights, which have been going on for weeks, are being launched
from sites in Afghanistan and Iraq and are part of Bush administration
attempts collect badly needed intelligence on Iran's possible
nuclear weapons development sites, these sources said, speaking
on condition of strict anonymity.
"These Iranian air defense positions are not just being observed,
they're being 'templated,'" an administration official said, explaining
that the flights are part of a U.S. effort
to develop "an electronic order of battle for Iran" in case of
In the event of an actual clash, Iran's air defense radars would
be targeted for destruction by air-fired U.S. anti-radiation or
ARM missiles, he said.
A serving U.S. intelligence official added: "You need to know
what proportion of your initial air strikes are going to have
to be devoted to air defense suppression."
A CentCom official told United Press International that in the
event of a real military strikes, U.S. military forces would be
using jamming, deception, and physical attack of Iran's sensors
and its Command, Control and Intelligence (C3 systems).
He also made clear that that this entails "advance, detailed knowledge
of the enemy's electronic order of battle and careful preplanning."
Ellen Laipson, president and CEO of the Henry L. Stimson Center
and former CIA Middle East expert, said of the flights, "They
are not necessarily an act of war in themselves, unless they are
perceived as being so by the country that is being overflown."
Laipson explained: "It's not unusual for countries to test each
other's air defenses from time to time, to do a little probing
-- but it can be dangerous if the target country believes that
such flights could mean an imminent attack."
She said her concern was that Iran "will
not only turn on its air defense radars but use them to fire missiles
at U.S. aircraft," an act which would "greatly increase tensions"
between the two countries.
The air reconnaissance is taking place
in conjunction with other intelligence collection efforts,
U.S. government officials said.
To collect badly needed intelligence on the ground about Iran's
alleged nuclear program, the United States
is depending heavily on Israeli-trained teams of Kurds in northern
Iraq and on U.S.-trained teams of former Iranian exiles in the
south to gather the intelligence needed for possible strikes against
Iran's 13 or more suspected nuclear sites,
according to serving and retired U.S. intelligence officials.
Both groups are doing cross border incursions into Iran, some
in conjunction with U.S. Special Forces, these sources said.
They claimed the Kurds operating from Kurdistan, in areas they
control. The second group, working from the south, is the Mujahedeen-e
Khalq, listed by the State Department as a terrorist group, operating
from southern Iraq, these sources said.
The use of the MEK for U.S.-intelligence-gathering
missions strikes some former U.S. intelligence officials as bizarre.
The State Department's annual publication, "Patterns of Global
Terrorism," lists them as a terrorist organization.
According to the State Department report, the MEK were allies
with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in fighting Iran and, in addition,
"assisted Saddam in "suppressing opposition within Iraq, and performed
internal security for the Iraqi regime."
After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, U.S. forces seized
and destroyed MEK munitions and weapons, and about 4,000 MEK operatives
were "consolidated, detained, disarmed, and screened for any past
terrorist acts, the report said.
Shortly afterwards, the Bush administration began to use them
in its covert operations against Iran, former senior U.S. intelligence
"They've been active in the south for some time," said former
CIA counterterrorism chief, Vince Cannistraro.
The MEK are said to be currently launching
raids from Camp Habib in Basra, but recently Pakistan President
Pervez Musharaff granted permission for the MEK to operate from
Pakistan's Baluchi area, U.S. officials said.
Asked about the Musharaff decision, Laipson said: "Not a smart
move. The last thing he (Musharaff) needs is another batch of
hotheads on Pakistani soil."
A former senior Iranian diplomat told United Press International
that the Kurds in the Baluchi areas of Pakistan can operate in
freedom because the Baluchis "have no love for the mullahs of
In fact, in the early 1980s, there were massacres of Iranian Revolutionary
Guards in the area by Baluchi militants who wish to be independent,
Both covert groups are tasked by the Bush
administration with planting sensors or "sniffers" close to suspected
Iran nuclear weapons development sites that will enable the Bush
administration to monitor the progress on the program and develop
targeting data, these sources said.
"There is an urgent need to obtain this information, at least
in the minds of administration hawks," an administration official
"This looks to be turning into a pretty large-scale covert operation,"
a former long-time CIA operator in the region told UPI. In
addition to the air strikes on allegedly Iranian nuclear weapons
sites, the second aim of the operation is to secure the support
in Iran of those "who view U.S. policy of hostility towards Iran's
clerics with favor," he said.
The United States is also attempting to erect a covert infrastructure
in Iran able to support U.S. efforts, this source said.
It consists of Israelis and other U.S. assets, using third country
passports, who have created a network of front companies that
they own and staff. "It's a covert infrastructure for material
support," a U.S. administration official said.
The network would be able to move money,
weapons and personnel around inside Iran, he said. The covert
infrastructure could also provide safe houses and the like, he
Cannistraro, who knew of the program, said: "I doubt the quality
of these kinds or programs," explaining the United States had
set up a similar network just before the hostage-rescue attempt
in 1980. "People forget that the Iranians quickly rolled up that
entire network after the rescue attempt failed," Cannistraro said.
The administration's fear is that by possessing a nuclear weapon,
Iran will gain a new stature and status in the region strengthening
its determination to remove the U.S presence from the region and
making its hostility seem more credible, U.S. officials said.
There is also the administration's fear that Iran, with Syria's
help, will accelerate Palestinian terrorism as Israel withdraws
from the Gaza Strip, these sources said.
So the United States, backed by Israel, is deadly earnest about
neutralizing Iran's nuclear weapons site. "The
administration has determined that there is no diplomatic solution,"
said John Pike, president of the online think-tank globalsecurity.org.
"Like the Israelis, the Bush administration has decided that forces
of sweetness and light won't be running Iran any time soon, and
that having atomic ayatollahs is simply not acceptable."
Said Cannistraro of the administration's policy: "Its very,
very, very dangerous."
Islamabad, Jan 25 - Pakistan on Tuesday denied
in categorical terms that joint US and British commando wargames
were held in the southern port city of Karachi.
Talking to IRNA here, Director-General of Inter-Services Public
Relations Major General Shaukat Sultan said that certain media
reports in this connection were "totally incorrect."
Asia Times Online carried a story on January 19 saying US
and British commandos had held military exercises jointly in Karachi
"This is not true. The report is totally wrong," the military
Some excerpts from the Hong Kong-based web service were on Tuesday
carried by a local Urdu newspaper, Khabrain, in which
it was claimed that the US-UK commandos held the wargames with
a view to attacking Iran from Karachi.
"This was not a joint military exercise, but training of Saudi
naval commandos from January 1 to 17," General Sultan added.
"No one from the US or UK was present during the training,"
the military spokesman clarified.
Last week, a US publication printed a report suggesting Pakistan
had "helped" the United States target Iran's nuclear power plants.
Islamabad had outrightly and emphatically denied the report.
"It was aimed at creating a cleavage between Pakistan and Iran,
which enjoy very deep-rooted relations," Pakistan's Foreign Office
Spokesman Masood Khan said.
| During his inauguration ceremony,
President Bush delivered a speech that was different from all the
speeches of his predecessors. The former presidents of the United
States at their respective inauguration ceremonies delivered speeches
that outlined the internal and external political program that they
intend to implement during their four-year tenure. Bush chose to deliver
a speech on his behalf and on behalf of the neo-conservatives, and
it could be tacitly said that it foreshadowed the declaration of war,
or perhaps it could be said that it carried a 'Jihad Manifesto' for
the extreme right wing in America.
I have no doubt that Bush's speech was a shock to all those who
hoped that Bush had learned from the mistakes that he committed
during his first term. There was not a single word that professed
an admission of his previous mistakes. He did not mention anything
about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he did not set a timetable
for the withdrawal of his troops from these respective countries.
I think it would be a mistake to underestimate this speech and
maintain that it did not clearly outline any policies or programs.
In point of fact, this is not the case at all. This speech is very
important and it was vigilantly written by Michael Gerson, Bush's
favorite speech writer. This speech is important because it clearly
reflects the vision of the neo-cons and their political agenda towards
foreign and internal issues, which is why we should take it seriously.
The first issue pertains to the identification of the central issue
that the U.S. administration deems to be the main source of threat
to national security. Perhaps one is astonished to discover that
the majority of the words Bush used were oppression, not terrorism.
So therefore oppression has become the first threat to America's
national security, and not terrorism, which leads some to believe
that this would lead to a shift in the American policies. Bush started
to believe that terrorism is a symptom of oppression, and the U.S.
should start to concentrate on finding the cure for the sickness
before the symptom. He also believes that the terrorism that struck
Washington and New York is the result of oppression.
The second issue pertains to the identification of the methods
to oppose this threat. The U.S. will definitely not ignore oppression
and the U.S. will not excuse the oppressors. The U.S. will support
the resistors in order to achieve freedom and democracy. In spite
of this, Bush did not rule out the fact that the U.S. will use military
power in order to defend itself, its friends, and allies.
Bush linked between democracy, liberty and peace in the U.S. and
liberty democracy and peace in the rest of the world, maintaining
that if liberty and freedom are essential factors to achieve internal
peace, then spreading freedom and democracy outside America is no
less significant in order to achieve world peace. In this context,
Bush wanted to assure that he will not fall for the same mistakes
that the previous U.S. administrations committed.
Therefore we can construe four main conclusions from Bush's speech:
1. The U.S. is determined to pursue a policy of preemption
2. This administration is committed to spreading democracy across
the world, which has become an American responsibility, not the
3. The Arab and Islamic world are the main, and perhaps the only,
target for this policy of preemptive intervention. The U.S. will
continue with its containment policy against China but it will
not reach to the point of direct confrontation.
4. Israel is in situation where it could convince the U.S. to
support any of the Israeli policies, regardless of all moral and
If this analysis is correct then this means that the world is heading
towards further chaos and instability. Will the governments of the
Arab region rise up the challenge before oppression becomes an allegation
for any U.S. preemptive policy? In any case, the answer to this
question is not optimistic.
KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia, which chairs the
world's biggest grouping of Muslim countries, has warned that
the United States will stand alone in the world if it attacks
The world community, including allies of the United States,
is opposed to any such action by the superpower, Prime Minister
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on his return from a trip to Paris
"Europe does not agree, the United States' close ally Britain
does not agree, and I believe no one else will agree," said Abdullah,
who chairs the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
"The Islamic world will definitely not agree to an attack on
Iran," he said.
"Talks should instead be held and made a priority, rather than
US President George W. Bush -- who once lumped Iran in an "axis
of evil" with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea -- said last
week he could not rule out using force if Tehran failed to rein
in its nuclear plans.
Iran, which denies wishing to acquire a nuclear bomb, in November
announced the suspension of its nuclear enrichment programme following
protracted talks with Britain, France and Germany.
In mid-December, the three countries again took up talks with
Tehran to try to conclude a long-term deal whereby the Iranians
would definitively give up any ambitions of producing a nuclear
The Iranian Weapons Bush will Expose our Troops to When
he Plays Macho With a Nation with Real Military Strength, and
allies that include India, China and Russia
| Jon Faulkner
Tough guys have a terrible problem.
As their fearsome reputations develop they must constantly maintain
their machismo by conquering ever more powerful opponents until
inevitably, they meet their match. Real tough guys regard diplomacy
as a refuge of the weak and cowardly. Dubya
is the worst kind of tough guy. Having been given innumerable
opportunities, and having failed at them all, he now finds himself
redeemed and in a position that spins abject failure into triumphal
success. His unrivaled power, combined
with his egocentric psychosis and unbridled arrogance,
has loosed the croc that swallowed the clock and now, having flexed
his powerful new muscles in Iraq, our super-hero is ready to eradicate
the next evil – Iran. Foreign Ministry spokesman
Alexander Yakovenko told Interfax news agency, “It’s well known
that slapping labels on countries and unilaterally describing
certain states as part of the 'axis of evil' has not improved
Bombing Iran is a far different proposition than destroying
an essentially helpless Iraq. Iran has the will and the
means to defend itself. It also has some very powerful business
partners. Russia has agreed to build five nuclear power plants
in Iran at a cost of $11 billion. China and India have signed
contracts for almost $100 billion of Iran’s oil and natural gas.
Iran’s trading partners are not going to take it lightly when
Junior moves on Iran premising his attack on the lies he used
to justify his invasion of Iraq. If he attacks Iran, all the Karl
Rove spin will not put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The
Republican Congress could only be counted on to encourage Americans
to stop eating Shish Kabob, or perhaps they’d only rename them
Liberty-for-Bobs. Democrats would familiarize themselves with
the exits and the locations of bomb shelters.
Russia has sold Iran the S-300PMU. It is a highly effective,
fast, surface-to-air missile that’s very hard to jam and stop,
says Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.
Over the Persian Gulf, the S-300 will make future U.S. air operations
far more difficult. Fisher says that Pentagon officials quietly
assert that America currently does not have the air power to counter
the deadly S-300 missile. China has also bought these missiles
and deploys dozens of them directly opposite Taiwan.
Iran also possesses the Shahab-3, a three stage and highly accurate
surface-to-surface missile with an 800 mile range. It
is capable of delivering a conventional or nuclear warhead and
is within range of any target in Israel.
Perhaps the most worrisome weapon in the Iranian arsenal is
the Russian made 3M-82 Moskit, nicknamed Sunburn. Sunburn is a
wave skimming, Mach 2.5, ship eating monster that delivers a 750
pound warhead of high explosives. It has a 160 mile range and
can be configured to carry a nuclear payload. Iran conceals them
in fortified caves along the Iranian coast. Such a weapon enables
Iran to control the Straights of Hormoz and deny ship traffic
coming or going in the Persian Gulf. Jack Spencer of the Heritage
Foundation says, “Whether or not we can defend against this is
a good question. Probably under perfect conditions we would defend
against one or two. But under war conditions, to defend against
many would be difficult.”
Imagine Iran firing six or eight Sunburn’s against an American
battle group in the Persian Gulf in retaliation against Bush ordering
a strike against its nuclear power plants. Baker Spring, a defense
analyst for the Heritage Foundation says, “The Aegis ABM interceptor
is not designed to deal with the supersonic cruise missile threat
and the U.S. Navy Aegis warships are reported to be unable to
defend themselves against the latest Russian supersonic cruise
missiles.” Aegis warships are there to defend the carriers and
if they can’t defend themselves a carrier is a fish in a barrel.
Imagine two or three Sunburns striking a U.S. carrier and sinking
it with its compliment of five or six thousand crewmembers.
Bush would retaliate by ordering a strike against Tehran, possibly
nuclear. Iran launches a few
Shahab-3 missiles that impact downtown Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem.
In the fog of war the Chinese see their chance to reclaim Taiwan
and begin destroying the islands coastal defenses prior to invasion.
Wars have a way of escalating and getting out of control as events
in Iraq clearly demonstrate.
There is simply no way Junior is emotionally or intellectually
capable of dealing with such a situation. Faced with a rapidly
escalating conflict, Junior would run to the deepest, safest cave
and hide until someone told him it was safe to come out. Do
Americans want a president who invites the enemy to “bring ‘em
on” when he’s not the one doing the fighting or dying? Do Americans
want a shoot first and ask questions later president with an itchy
trigger finger? Do Americans desire a president who refers
to the leader of North Korea as, “that little pygmy” or the Russian
president as “Pootie Toot”? Do we
want someone making decisions about the survival of the planet
who, when governor of Texas, made a face and mimicked a condemned
prisoner who begged him for her life? Does Bush truly believe
he acts through divine inspiration and a nuclear attack signifies
the end time is here - that he’s going to ascend to Heaven and
sit with God?
Wrecking the economy and the environment is one thing. It may
be possible to fix them. Dealing with a nuclear confrontation
is quite another. Who can forget his reaction after being told
the second plane had hit the World Trade Center? For seven minutes
he continued reading “My Pet Goat” then spent the day incognito,
flying around the country to undisclosed locations while of all
people, Laura Bush and Ted Kennedy, kept vigil at the White House.
While the towers burned here are some critiques of the seven-minute
video of Bush reading “My Pet Goat.”
The Dallas Observer: “Makes the disturbing case that George
W. Bush is a dangerous idiot.” ReelViews: “It’s not the portrait
of a man any sane American would want in command.” The Philadelphia
Inquirer: “Bush sits there silently, looking worried, confused,
lost. Bush looks like a man waiting to be told what to do. And
that is a scenario that should be deeply frightening to anyone.”
What cruel irony – that junior is more a threat than Iraq or Iran.
Condi Rice, when she helped promote the lie of Iraq’s weapons
of mass destruction said, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be
a mushroom cloud.” It is frightening indeed that she was unwittingly
referring to Bush as that smoking gun.
"Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd
Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1
All during the Bush administration's fear-mongering propaganda
effort to convince Americans that Saddam and his WMDs were a threat,
some of us pointed out that if Iraq's leader actually had such
weapons, he'd be crazy to use them against this country.
"But that's just it," we were told, "he's mad."
Nowadays, a former intelligence official tells Seymour Hersh,
"Everyone is saying, 'You can't be serious about targeting Iran.
Look at Iraq.'" He implies that some people in intelligence, currently
in the government, think an attack on yet another nation would
But, the above-quoted former spook told Hersh, the war advocates
declare: "'We've got some lessons learned-not militarily, but
how we did it politically. We're not going to rely on agency pissants.'
No loose ends, and that's why the CIA. is out of there." The
CIA, you see, like irritating, stinky household insects, posed
a political problem for the Iraq campaign. The CIA didn't produce
the desired evidence for Saddam-al Qaeda ties or a genuine Iraqi
security threat to the U.S., thus obliging the chickenhawks
to devise their Office of Special Plans headed by Abram Shulsky,
William Luti, and Douglas Feith. (Recall that General Tommy Franks
famously labels Feith the "fucking stupidest guy on the face of
the earth"). The CIA, distrusting Ahmad Chalabi, helped foil plans
to coronate the neocon favorite as Iraq's puppet leader immediately
following the fall of Baghdad. CIA agents, in consternation at
neocon influence, appear to have repeatedly leaked information
about warmongering disinformation to the press. That's why some
folks vented on the pissants by outing Joseph Wilson's CIA wife.
With the CIA purged and humiliated, "intelligence" grovels defeated
before superlative stupidity. Or perhaps Gen. Franks misdiagnosed,
and the problem is not in fact stupidity but genuine lunacy. You
can tell the victim of delusions, "You can't be serious" about
hearing those divine voices, but no, the deluded really do hear
them. If the victim gets scared, he or she may get violent. Perhaps
some officials, their apparent bravado notwithstanding, feel the
men in white coats might be on their way. So it's especially important
to get the job done, now, before those who don't understand, and
who hate God, thwart his will.
The crazies are confident that the lessons
they've learned politically (i.e., how to use Christian fundamentalism
to gain "political capital" to promote a program of indefinite
war throughout Muslim Southwest Asia) will produce smoother regime-change
in Syria and Iran. And even if we don't, they may ask themselves,
what's wrong with the worst-case scenario?
Say in 2008 there are 300,000 US troops deployed from Afghanistan
and Iran to Syria and Lebanon, holding some key cities, losing
20 KIA every day. That's a small price to pay for US strategic
control over the region, which can in fact occur in a climate
of what "Dr. Strangelove" Rumsfeld calls "creative chaos." It
will take a generation to reform the Arabs and prepare them embrace
an American-style political setup ("democracy"). Maybe the world
will turn on us completely, and accuse us of Nazi-like aggression.
Maybe we'll have to pull out of the UN to display our contempt
for those foreign pissants. So what? So think the madmen.
Madness. Recall the fine scene in The Lord of the Rings, in
which Gollum's tortured schizoid self debates whether or not to
work with the stinky, nasty hobbitses. Ultimately his need for
the Precious resolves that internal dispute: he is stark-raving
mad when he grasps the Ring of Power, only to fall into the abyss.
Earlier the Ring had so tempted Boromir, who thought he could
use it "for good," that the man of Gondor strove to seize it by
force. Had he succeeded, as his brother Faramir later tells their
father, "It would have driven him mad."
In their own wacko scenario, today's "stupidest," remaining
entrenched in power, relentlessly pursue the Ring of global domination.
It makes no sense, of course, as the more level headed officials
being purged from government, to say nothing of those in the antiwar
movement, attest. But in the clouded minds
of some of those in Washington, who are more confused and deluded
than Saddam ever was, a widening of the present war is eminently
practical and reasonable.
So we read today that the architects of the Iraq War are in
decline, the "realists" reemerging, perhaps led by nominated Rice
deputy Robert Zoellick. And tomorrow that plans for war on Syria
and Iran proceed apace. We must not assume those who scorn the
"reality-based community" are gone where the goblins go. They
are still busily struggling to create their
"Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go," wrote Shakespeare.
One might add, especially when "there is a method in it" as there
surely is in the painstaking war preparations, reflecting what
the warmongers have learned about "politically" rationalizing
their military agenda. A "document
of madness" as nuts as Ophelia's ravings remains the game
plan for the great ones' Greater Middle East transformation project.
One must monitor these lunatics, examine and expose their methods
and documents, countering them politically with the weapons of
And when they are finally on trial for their crimes, and plead
insanity, we should take our cue from the Texas courts and say,
"That's no excuse."
Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University,
and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author
of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa
Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa
Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese
Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's merciless
chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial
| VIENNA - Egypt admitted Thursday to failing to
report a "number of research experiments" to the UN atomic
energy agency, after diplomats said the agency was investigating an
Egyptian lab that could be used to make plutonium, a nuclear weapons
But "Egypt is cooperating with the IAEA (International Atomic
Energy Agency)" and feels the "research experiments and
activities ... most of which took place in the distant past are
consistent with the NPT," the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,
the Egyptian embassy said in a statement released in Vienna.
The statement said stronger safeguards measures by the IAEA "since
the 1990's have resulted in not reporting to the agency, in an appropriate
and timely manner, a number of research experiments and activities."
Egyptian ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy told AFP it was a case
that with "strengthened safeguards, countries sometimes don't
know what they are required to report."
He said news reports of Egyptian safeguards failures were "exaggerated"
and that Egypt has a strictly peaceful nuclear program.
The statement said "Egypt understands that the agency is aware
of the limited scope of the issue" and feels that the "agency
values the level of cooperation Egypt is extending."
Egypt has not however signed an additional protocol
to the NPT that allows for tough IAEA inspections.
IAEA officials refused to comment on the investigation. [...]
The lab, which apparently has never been used for reprocessing,
raises questions about an Egyptian nuclear program which is peaceful
but may also be carefully structured to be
able to move towards weapons development if Cairo decided to take
this step, diplomats said. [...]
WASHINGTON — The FBI is significantly
expanding its intelligence-gathering activities in the U.S., including
stepped-up efforts to collect and report intelligence on foreign
figures and governments, a function that long has been principally
the CIA's domain, intelligence and congressional sources said Thursday.
The bureau in December launched discussions with top CIA officials
to rewrite the two-decade-old ground rules covering how the agencies
conduct their intelligence efforts in the U.S. and abroad. That
effort reflects an acceleration of the FBI's foreign-intelligence
collection efforts in the U.S. in recent months, as well as the
desire of top bureau officials to assert what they view as their
legal duty to track CIA activities in the U.S. and coordinate with
the agency's operations.
The moves are causing concern among some current and former CIA
officials, who see them as another sign of the diminished standing
of the beleaguered agency, which also is confronted by recent Pentagon
moves to increase its military intelligence collections abroad.
The CIA was singled out for harsh treatment by the independent
panel that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks, and is undergoing
painful restructuring under new leadership. Some
worry that new Director Porter J. Goss is not doing enough to fight
off the bureau's push.
"This is the kind of thing that the [director of central intelligence]
ought to be standing up on his hind legs and making a fuss [about],"
said a former senior CIA official. "This
is a battle for survival."
Other agency officials say those concerns are overblown. A CIA
spokesman declined to comment.
Officials familiar with the FBI's thinking say they hope that a
tentative draft of the procedures — which are classified —
will be completed next month; they said the
bureau also hoped to obtain new assurances that the CIA would share
information about its U.S. activities with the FBI.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and Goss have been actively
involved in the discussions. The procedures would have to be approved
by the attorney general and whomever is named as national intelligence
director, the new post that will oversee all of the nation's intelligence-gathering
The interest in foreign intelligence resulted partly from what
the bureau viewed as successes from a series of interviews about
possible terrorist threats it conducted with Iraqi Americans in
the U.S. before the war. Officials say they produced intelligence
that ended up saving the lives of American soldiers in combat.
It also reflects an aggressive new vision promulgated by the bureau's
intelligence czar, Maureen Baginski, a Russian linguist and career
intelligence analyst whom Mueller hired away from the National Security
Agency two years ago.
The result, one former official said, has
been an exponential growth in recent months in the number of intelligence
reports the bureau has circulated — including information
on terrorist threats, espionage and foreign governments.
Officials said the quality of the reports
was mixed but improving. [...]
But some people said that coordination, especially between agencies
that had a long tradition of viewing each other with suspicion and
even disdain, was easier to achieve in theory than in practice.
Their failure to work together was sharply criticized by the Sept.
11 commission and other investigators.
Some current and former CIA officials said they were concerned
that the larger role for the FBI would inevitably interfere with
the agency's well-established contacts abroad and create confusion.
One official argued that it made sense for
the same agency that is covering Sudan overseas, for example, to
be talking to Sudanese in the U.S.
"Our system must provide uniformity in dealing with sources
of foreign intelligence," said a U.S. official.
The agency with the most expertise about
the affairs of a particular foreign nation should be calling the
shots, and that is more likely to be the CIA, another official said.
WASHINGTON - Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin
was the top US defense contractor in fiscal 2004, racking up 20.7
billion dollars in contracts, the Pentagon said Thursday.
The Boeing Co. was the second largest with 17.1 billion dollars
in contracts, followed by Northrop Grumman Corp. (11.9 billion dollars),
General Dynamics Corp (9.6 billion dollars), Raytheon Co. (8.5 billion
dollars), according to the annual list compiled by the US government.
Halliburton Co., the Houston-based oil services
giant whose Iraq contracts made it a center of controversy last
year, was sixth on the list with 8 billion
dollars in contracts.
Other companies that the top ten were United Technologies Corp.billion
dollars), Science Applications International Corp. (2.5 billion
dollars), Computer Sciences Corp. 2.4 billion dollars, and Humana
The Defense Department awarded 230.7 billion dollars in contracts
in fiscal 2004, a 21.7 billion dollar increase over the previous
US soldiers have attacked a mosque in Baghdad's
Sadr City, violating its sanctity and arresting 25 Iraqis, Iraqi
Shaikh Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, a top aide of the Shia leader
Muqtada al-Sadr, told Aljazeera.net that what happened in Masjid
al-Rasul (the Prophet mosque) revealed the real intentions of
the US occupation forces.
He accused a US soldier of urinating
on the Quran and another of consuming alcohol within
the chambers of the mosque.
"[This] is a great sin in Islam," al-Darraji said.
"The action of the US forces just days before Sunday's election
is a serious provocation and it reveals that the US is serious
in insulting the Islamic values and imposing its culture on us.
"They claim they are democratic people, but they are targeting
us because we boycotted the elections and said it should not be
held under occupation."
Another official in al-Sadr's movement, Naim al-Qaabi, also
accused US and Iraqi forces of tearing
Qurans during the operation and arresting 21 al-Sadr supporters.
However, neither claims could be immediately verified and the interim
Iraqi government issued a statement saying it was investigating
The US military has not yet commented on the incident.
Al-Sadr led a fierce anti-US uprising last year before toeing
the pro-election line, then changed his position again later and
vowed to boycott the elections as long as foreign troops remained
on Iraqi soil.
Earlier this month, thousands of al-Sadr supporters demonstrated
in several cities to protest against petrol and electricity shortages,
accusing the interim government of ignoring the people in favour
of Sunday's elections.
Supporters of Iraq's most wanted man, Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi, today posted a video on the internet of their
murder of a man described as the secretary of Iraqi Prime Minister
The al-Qaeda Group in the Land of Two Rivers announced on a
website that it had executed Salem Jaafar al-Kanani, "secretary
of the traitor Iyad Allawi", and said a video would be released
at a later time.
Kanani had been a candidate from Allawi's party in the Iraq
In the video, Kanani makes a "confession" and calls for Iraqis,
especially the young, "not to collaborate with the enemy occupier".
"I ask them to serve their nation and their people ... Personally,
I am ready to work in the service of Iraq and the Iraqi people,"
said Kanani, who was kidnapped by gunmen on a central Baghdad
street on January 19.
"I was captured by the mujahideen (Islamic fighters) who have
treated me very well," he said, before being gunned down with
Allawi's party has had 22 of its members killed in the space
of two months, party official Imad Shbib told AFP on January 11,
adding that as many as 44 had been murdered since the fall of
Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003.
BAGHDAD, (Sapa-AFP) -- At least 31 US Marines
were killed in a US transport helicopter crash near the western
Iraqi city of Rutbah, according to military and media reports
It is the highest number of US fatalities to result from a single
incident since the US first occupied Iraq almost two years ago.
Earlier yesterday the US military in Baghdad confirmed the crash
saying it happened overnight as the helicopter was transporting
soldiers from the 1st Marine Division, headquartered in Fallujah.
Witnesses said the helicopter appeared to have
been hit by a surface-to-air missile and exploded on hitting the
A second helicopter also came under fire but was able to reach
safety, the witnesses said. [...]
BRITISH troops are vowing to
use overwhelming force to smash any attempts
to disrupt Sunday’s elections in Iraq.
Commanders have drawn up plans for a "gloves-off" assault
to deal with what they privately call the "Doomsday" scenario
of a large-scale outbreak of violence in Basra.
Senior commanders say they will send in tanks, backed by armoured
infantry, to retake any part of the city that falls into the hands
And they have warned that they are prepared to call in air strikes
on insurgent strongholds that refuse to surrender, rather than risk
British lives in a ground assault.
A battle group composed of Scots Guards, equipped with Warrior
armoured fighting vehicles and supplemented with a squadron of Challenger
tanks, is on standby at the Shaibah base outside the city ready
to move against the first signs of serious disorder.
Yesterday, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Nickerson, the commanding officer
of the Scots Guards, said he was in no doubt that his 500 soldiers
could quickly re-establish control.
"If I found myself up against a large group I would go in
big style," he said. "It would be going in with the gloves
off. I’m not using delicate force, because we would have gone
past that stage by then.
"We have the ability to retake the town. Everyone would be
in fighting mode and the coup de grâce would be appearing
with our tanks and Warriors.
"There are units training to retake the town.
If I need to, I can call in air [strikes]. People are hesitant about
that, but a last resort, if you have a building with 200 people
in it not letting up, is to drop a bomb on it.
"You have to think very, very carefully about it. I
have tanks which are massively destructive and they
can cause a lot of collateral damage. Even a Warrior shell
can go through a building and out the other side.
"On the other hand, I have guardsmen with bayonets who could
be used, but I don’t want to risk their lives, so you have
to strike a balance."
There are a number of groups with the potential to pose a serious
threat to public order. Foremost is the Mahdi army, supporters of
the radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has already shown in
Najaf that he can call on thousands of young gunmen to rally to
his side. The British have been keen to stress that they have signed
a ceasefire agreement with Sadr - who is not standing for election
- and that they will leave him and his supporters alone while he
observes the deal.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (Xinhuanet)
-- US President George W. Bush said US troops would probably stay
in Iraq after the landmark Jan.30 election as likely winners of
the vote had showed the intentionto retain them.
In an interview published Friday by The New York Times, Bush said
he had heard the voices of "the people that presumably will
be in positions of responsibility after these elections," and
"it seems that most of the leadership there understands that
there will be a need for coalition troops at least until the Iraqis
are able to fight."
However, Bush said US forces would move out if asked by the newIraqi
"Yes, absolutely," he responded to the question whether
American troops would withdraw at the request of Iraqis. "This
is a sovereign government -- they're on their feet."
Bush said there was "a certain realism among the (Iraqi)
leadership, at least the ones I've talked to, that say, 'Look there's
more work to do before we are ready to move out on our own'."
Bush admitted that his country was seen by many Iraqis as occupiers.
"To the extent that a coalition presence is viewed as an
occupying force, it enables the insurgents, the radicals, to continue
to impress people that the government really is not theirgovernment,
and that the government is complicit in having their country occupied,"
Therefore it was important that "we make sure the Iraqi citizens
view US troops as helpers, not as occupiers," Bush said.
The US Army said Monday that at least 120,000 out of the 150,000
US troops now in Iraq would stay for the next two years to train
and fight with Iraqi forces against insurgents.
Bush said Iraqi forces needed not only more equipment and training,
but a command structure, which was "the spine of any military
THE four Britons
who were returned to the UK after being detained without trial at
the United States prison camp in Guantanamo Bay for three years
were freed last night without charge.
Moazzam Begg, from Birmingham; Feroz Abbasi, from Croydon, south
London; Martin Mubanga from Wembley, north-west London; and Richard
Belmar, from St John’s Wood, north-west London, were all released
from Paddington Green station.
After the men’s refusal to answer police questions, prosecutors
agreed there was insufficient evidence to proceed with criminal
charges and all four were freed.
Last night, the men were understood to have been escorted to a
location of their choice to be reunited with their families.
The Pentagon said British authorities had given
assurances that the detainees would "not pose a continuing
security threat to the United States or its allies".
After years of campaigning, civil rights groups welcomed the men’s
release. Stephen Jakobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, said he was delighted
by the news.
"That is a good thing - game over. This is good both for them
and their families."
But he added: "This does not let Tony Blair off the hook,
much as he would love to be off the hook," he said.
Neil Durkin, a spokesman for Amnesty International UK, said: "We’ve
always said that they shouldn’t be held a minute longer than
necessary when they land back in the UK.
"They have already been held for three years, and upwards
of three years in some cases."
Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said:
"We are disappointed we’ve had to go through this terrible,
pointless, stupid charade.
"I think the psychological impact of this pointless behaviour
by the police is going to be felt not only be the detainees but
the whole Muslim community."
Earlier, lawyers for the men had said the former detainees were
"traumatised" and "had an air of unreality about
them" after being tortured in prison.
Abbasi is alleged to have suffered a series of mental breakdowns
and to have been repeatedly injected with an unknown substance by
his US captors.
Gareth Peirce, who represents Begg, said she was appalled they
had been held by anti-terrorist police.
All four flew into Britain on Tuesday night to be immediately arrested
under section 41 of the Terrorism Act. Police could have detained
them for up to 14 days but they were released after 24 hours.
Louise Christian, the lawyer for Abbasi and Mubanga, said the detainees’
families were "desperate" to be reunited with them, but
had turned down the chance to see them earlier yesterday as a police
officer would have been present.
She said: "They want to be reunited with their family members
Ms Christian said she had advised her clients to refuse to answer
questions because they were still traumatised. "I am very worried
about them," she said.
She added that Abbasi was struggling to adjust to life outside
the harsh conditions at Guantanamo.
"He told me that when they asked him if he wanted a hot drink
he said no, he just wanted a glass of water. He was used to the
situation where, in Guantanamo, when he asked for something he would
be abused," she said.
Azmat Begg, the father of Moazzam, said he had hoped to see his
son but was told by police "he doesn’t want to see me
in the police station".
He added: "Possibly he is not in a position, health-wise,
or is keeping his dignity."
Asked how Begg was, Ms Peirce said: "Better than you would
expect after three years of torture."
| DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) - Israeli
Vice Premier Shimon Peres told a gathering of government and business
leaders that the Middle East peace "magic has returned to the
mountain" because of a fresh approach by Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and newly elected Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
"I feel that we are again approaching a new age," Peres
told the World Economic Forum. He noted that he had attended 10
previous annual meetings in the Swiss Alps, many of which were devoted
to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
In 1994, Peres negotiated with the late Palestinian leader Yasser
in round-the-clock talks that both sides hailed as inspired by the
mountain, a reference to Thomas Mann's novel, "The Magic Mountain,"
which is set in Davos.
"The magic has returned to the mountain," Peres said
in a panel discussion between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
He said he was encouraged by the election of Abbas in "a convincing
But, he said, "what surprised me is the implementation"
of changes to foster peace talks.
"In a few days he changed the whole atmosphere in the Middle
East," Peres said.
He also praised Sharon, even though he noted the sharp differences
in their politics, and that he had never voted for him.
"I'm pleasantly surprised by the actions taken by the two
sides," Peres said.
With no real Palestinian State
any longer possible west of the Jordan, the U.S. and Israel have
worked long and hard to get to the point where they could force
a quisling Palestinian leadership of their choosing into a kind
of convoluted submission while pretending it is an agreed settlement
brought about by the 'Peace Process'. By assassinating Ahmed Yassin
and Yassir Arafat in 2004, and then by manipulating the quick 'election'
of Abu Mazen in 2005, Ariel Sharon in tandem with the Americans
has set the stage for this further attempted historic deception
and geopolitical triumph.
American Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice -- who received more
negative confirmation votes in the Senate this week than any Secretary
of State in history since 1825 -- is rushing to the region in a
few days hoping to consolidate a quick deal before opposition can
swell and the realities of the situation become more starkly understood.
Bottom line: Abu Mazen and the key Palestinian in the background,
Nabil Shaath (the long-time PA 'Foreign Minister' operative working
closely with the Israelis and the CIA), are poised to in effect
accept the Sharon Plan for what will be called a 'Temporary State'
with 'Provisional Boundaries' in about 25% of historic Palestine.
Everywhere the Palestinian 'population centers', i.e. Bantustans
and Reservations in reality, will be surrounded by the Israeli army
which will continue to control all entry/exit and airspace of what
is to be a permanently cripped and controlled 'Palestinian state'.
The plan is then to flood the Palestinian Bantustans with two things
to give this new arrangement a chance to work -- monies largely
from Europe and the World Bank to make daily life a little better
(not hard to do in view of how bad things are) and guns supplied
by Israel along with the U.S. and U.K. so P.A. forces will be able
to enforce an end to the Palestinian Intifada and in effect become
the Israeli police-force in the occupied territories (much harder
to do and quite likely to erupt at some point into civil war).
It is an arrangement far worse than that rejected by the Palestinians
when Yasser Arafat was alive; but the powers to be hope to get away
with it by repeatedly declaring it is just a temporary State with
just provisional borders and thus holding out hope for something
more 'on good behavior'.
Meanwhile the actual 'on the ground' realities of the situation
are quite bleak for the Palestinians as Israeli settlements in the
major areas continue to expand, Jerusalem is being further disenfranchied
of Arab people and property, the Apartheid Wall is being completed,
and Palestinians everywhere have been turned more than ever into
a modern-day kind of Indians on Reservations in what was once not
that long ago their own country.
Feith, the number three man at the Pentagon who went there from
the pro-Likud Jewish
Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the Project
for a New American Century, will leave the Pentagon as of this
office is the subject of an FBI investigation as well as two
Congressional investigations, one by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Feith helped set up an Office
of Special Plans in the Near East and South Asia desk of the
Pentagon to cherry-pick Iraq intelligence and create a case for
Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and having operational links
with al-Qaeda. At one point, contrary to Federal law, Feith's people
actually briefed officials in the Executive on intelligence. Feith
Wurmser from the Office of Special Plans, once its work was
well under way, over to the staff of Vice President Dick Cheney,
so that he could stove pipe OSP analyses into the VP's office and
thence directly to the president, doing an end run around the CIA
and the State Department Intelligence and Research division.
Having a Likudnik as the number three man in the Pentagon is a nightmare
for American national security, since Feith could never be trusted
to put US interests over those of Ariel Sharon. In the build-up
to the Iraq War, Feith had a phalanx of Israeli generals visiting
him in the Pentagon and ignored post-9/11 requirements that they
sign in. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a vocal
advocate of a US war against Iraq, who "put pressure" on Washington
about it. (If Sharon wanted a war against Iraq, why didn't he fight
it himself instead of pushing it off on American boys?)
Feith has been questioned by the FBI in relation to the passing
by one of his employees of confidential Pentagon documents to the
American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which in turn passed them
to the Israeli embassy. The Senate Intelligence Committee is also
investigating Feith. There seems little doubt that he operated in
the Pentagon in such a way as to produce false and misleading "intelligence,"
that he created an entirely false impression of Iraqi weapons capabilities
and ties to al-Qaeda, and that he is among the chief facilitators
of the US war in Iraq.
Feith is clearly resigning ahead of the possible breaking of major
scandals concerning his tenure at the Department of Defense, which
is among the more disgraceful cases of the misleading of the American
people in American history.
There are several downsides to Feith's departure, as welcome as
it is for anyone who cares about US security in particular. The
first is that now we probably have to see him forever on cable news
channels as one of those dreary neocon talking heads flogged by
the American Enterprise Institute, a far rightwing "think tank"
funded by cranky rich people to obscure the truth. Another is that
his departure now may help keep Bush from being blamed for his shady
dealings in intelligence "analysis."
It is important to note that what is objectionable about Feith is
a) his playing fast and loose with the truth, producing poor intelligence
analysis that has been shown to be completely false and b) his doing
so on behalf of not only American nationalist aspirations but also
on behalf of a non-American political party, the Likud coalition
of Israel, which desired to destroy the Oslo peace process initiated
by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (and which was therefore on the
same side of this issue as the fanatic who assassinated Rabin).
There is no objection to Americans having multiple identities or
love for more than one country. Someone of Serbian heritage would
make a perfectly good Pentagon administrator. But you wouldn't want
a vehement supporter of Slobodon Milosevic as the number three man
in the Pentagon. It is ideological dual loyalty that is dangerous.
Mere sentiment based on multiple ethnic identities is not dual loyalty,
and hyphenated Americans mostly have other countries they wish well
(and rightly so).
It is also important to underline that only a small minority of
American Jews support the Likud Party or its policies, and that
a majority of Jewish Americans opposed the Iraq war. In short, the
problematic nature of Feith's tenure at the Department of Defense
must not be made an excuse for any kind of bigotry.
Ramallah, West Bank - Palestinian police
launched an investigation on Thursday after an envelope containing
chemical powder and addressed to Yasser Arafat's widow Suha was
delivered to her mother's home.
A security official said that the envelope was delivered to
Raymonda Tawil at her home in the West Bank town of Ramallah earlier
this week and had apparently been posted from India.
After suspicions were raised about its contents, tests were
carried out on the powder which was revealed to contain chemical
particles, the source said but without giving further details.
Suha, who married Arafat in 1990, normally divides her time
between bases in Paris and Tunis. She has not set foot in the
Palestinian territories since the death of her husband on November
KABUL : An Afghan soldier opened fire on
his colleagues inside a US military base, killing five soldiers
and wounding six others before he was himself shot dead, the US
The soldier involved had just finished a spell of guard duty
at the base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand and it
unclear what the motive for the shooting was, said a US statement.
The wounded soldiers were evacuated to a US military hospital
in the main southern city of Kandahar, said the statement without
giving details of their conditions.
The statement said no US soldier was involved in the incident
and that so far there was no evidence to suggest it was a deliberate
attack on the US-led coalition forces.
| BEIJING, Jan. 28 -- China's finance
minister and central bank governor will discuss the yuan the Chinese
currency with their counterparts at the upcoming Group of Seven (G7)
meeting, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said yesterday.
Minister of Finance Jin Renqing and Governor Zhou Xiaochuan of
the People's Bank of China will attend the G7 finance ministers'
meeting in London next week.
"They will explain to delegates the current situation of
China's economy and the government's ideas and views on this issue
(of the yuan)," Kong said.
He was responding to a question about US President George W. Bush's
comment on Wednesday that the Chinese currency will be high on the
G7 meeting's itinerary.
Kong said China and the United States have been communicating
on the exchange rate issue for a long time.
Vice-Premier Huang Ju is leaving for Switzerland today to attend
the World Economic Forum in Davos to talk about China's economic
and social situation, Kong said.
Also responding to US President Bush's talk on Wednesday that
he will "constantly remind" Chinese leaders to make progress
on human rights, Kong said such a reminder is uncalled-for but equal
dialogue is welcome.
"Anyone observant is able to see China's process of improving
democracy and the rule of law," said Kong.
EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini has
received a threatening letter posted in Britain warning him that
new anti-racism and anti-Semitism rules would not stop Nazism
"Unfortunately I received a letter threatening me," Frattini
said in Brussels today.
"But let me tell you it will not undermine at all my full determination
to fight against all kinds, all forms of manifestations of racism,
intolerance, and violence."
EU officials said the letter was mailed from Britain and was
written in bad Italian.
Italian newspaper La Stampa published a photocopy of the letter
"You are banning the swastika?" the letter asks. "Political
pygmies like you will never win against national socialism." It
did not include an immediate physical threat.
The warning letter to Frattini comes after he suggested the
EU look at banning the use of Nazi symbols after Prince Harry
wore a swastika armband to a costume party.
To the untrained eye, Buster
is just a bunny, an innocuous cartoon character on American educational
television. Each week the animated rabbit puts on his red backpack
and trainers to visit a slice of real America - dropping in on a
native Indian reservation in Wyoming, or maybe a Hispanic family
in Los Angeles and sending a video postcard of the event to his
The series, designed to show the diversity of the modern family
to primary school children, is produced with $100m (£53m)
of federal funding by the public television network PBS. It has
a mandate to promote tolerance.
But then, Buster Baxter visited a farm in Vermont
to learn about harvesting maple syrup. His hosts on Sugartime! were
a lesbian couple and their children. Although the parents remained
in the background - as they do during all of Buster's travels -
their very appearance on children's TV was too much for the education
secretary, Margaret Spelling.
Ms Spelling wrote to the president of PBS this week, saying: "Many
parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles
portrayed in the episode."
The politician also asked the network to return federal funds used
to make the episode, adding: "Congress's and the department's
purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to introduce
this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the
powerful and intimate medium of television."
PBS withdrew the offending episode, which had been scheduled for
distribution to its 350 affiliates. However, the Boston station
which produced it said it was going to make the episode available
Last week, two conservative Christian organisations accused the
cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants, an underwater sea sponge with two
buckteeth, of conspiring to promote homosexuality to children. In
the hugely popular television series, he holds hands with Mermaid
Man as well as Barnacle Boy.
However, the yellow sponge managed to avoid the wrath of Christian
conservatives until last week when it emerged that he was to star
with other animation names, such as Big Bird and Barney, in a DVD
remake of the hit We Are Family - a song intended to promote tolerance,
which was to have been distributed to primary schools across the
Focus on the Family, a rightwing Christian group from Colorado,
pronounced on its website: "While words
like diversity and unity sound harmless ... enough, the reality
is they are often used by gay activists as cover for teaching children
that homosexuality is the moral and biological equivalent to heterosexuality."
HANOI, Vietnam (Reuters) -- A Vietnamese
military helicopter has crashed off the coast, killing all 16
people on board, including two senior officers and the three-member
crew, the military said.
The two senior officers killed in Wednesday's accident were
of the rank of general, Voice of Vietnam radio said.
The helicopter crashed while en route between two islands off
Vietnam's central coast, the official Tuoi Tre newspaper said.
Six bodies had been recovered by Wednesday evening, it said. [...]
Dhaka - A bomb killed three people and wounded
50 at an opposition rally in northeastern Bangladesh on Thursday,
police and witnesses said.
The blast rocked the Awami League rally at Laskarpur, about
250km from the capital Dhaka.
In protest, Awami League, the country's biggest opposition party,
called for a nationwide general strike on Saturday after countrywide
protests on Friday.
A spokesperson for the main opposition party said former finance
minister Shah Abu Mohammad Shamsul Kibria, who had been sitting
on the dais at the rally when the bomb went off, was seriously
hurt and being transported to Dhaka for treatment.
"Kibria has been critically injured," the party spokesman said,
without giving details.
The dead were two Awami League workers and a nephew of Kibria,
local reporters said.
After the blast, protesting Awami workers and supporters went
on a rampage, attacking and damaging dozens of vehicles and shops,
Authorities later deployed extra police and paramilitary troops
at Laskarpur, which local reporters said looked like a "ghost
town" after dark on Thursday.
Police were investigating whether the bomb had been planted
before the rally or had been thrown.
Awami League quickly blamed the government.
"It (the blast) came in the wake of an unending conspiracy by
the government to eliminate democratic forces, especially its
opponents, gradually," said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, political
secretary to Awami leader Sheikh Hasina. [...]
Bomb disposal experts are examining a suspicious
device that was posted to Shannon Airport in Co Clare this morning.
The device, which was addressed to the US immigration service
at the airport, was discovered in the mail shortly before 8.30am.
Airport authorities said the package had been removed from the
facility and no passengers or staff were in any danger.
No flights were affected by the discovery.
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- An employee of a Jeep
production plant wounded three workers with a double-barrel shotgun
Wednesday before killing himself, police said.
Police said that when the shooter walked into the plant he was
yelling and demanding that some of the body shop's supervisors
come to the office area. Authorities did not know if any of the
victims were supervisors.
The shooting happened in the plant's body shop office about
8:45 p.m, police Chief Mike Navarre said.
One victim was shot in the chest and was in critical condition.
Two others were less seriously injured, including one worker who
was shot in the arm.
Navarre did not release the victims' names. The unidentified
gunman shot himself in the head, he said.
The gunman had been disciplined recently, Navarre said, but
he would not elaborate.
His body was found in the office where the others were shot.
Police called in a bomb squad because they noticed wires coming
out from under the gunman's coat. Navarre said he didn't know
what the wires were, "but we're not taking any chances."
(PALM CITY, Fla. USA NA) -- Authorities said
a man was charged with child abuse after he shocked his 14-year-old
son with a stun gun.
Martin County sheriff's investigators said 40-year-old Douglas
Dycus also was charged with domestic battery following a complaint
to the state Department of Children and Families.
Dycus allegedly used the stun gun when he became frustrated
with the boy, who was wrestling with his brothers and not paying
attention to him.
Two burn marks were found on the 14-year-old.
Investigators reported Dycus has four other complaints against
him with DCF, including a 2003 report that he hit the youth with
a belt and left welts. Those reports are not public and Dycus
has no other arrest history for abuse or domestic violence in
The stun gun used was not a Taser device.
CHINO - The ashes of a charred
shed hold a mystery.
What happened the night of Jan. 5, when dozens claimed a fiery
object fell from the sky and hit the building, setting it ablaze?
Answers -- from fire investigators, astronomers, even professional
UFO investigators -- are in short supply about what happened to
the structure on Cozzens Street near Roswell. Not Roswell, N.M.,
but Roswell Street in Chino.
"It could have been caused by an electrical malfunction or
flammable liquids that were stored in the garage," said Anthony
Landin, spokesman for the Chino Fire Department. "At this point,
the cause of the fire is undetermined."
The department was inundated with calls Jan. 5 and 6, Landin said,
as people from all over the Inland Valley, and even farther, called
to ask if others had seen the falling object.
"One gentleman from Mission Viejo called in," Landin
said. "He was really excited. He was laying in bed when he
looked out his window and saw the light."
However, fire officials believe the shed fire and whatever was
in the sky are linked by only one thing: coincidence.
Others believe it was something more.
"There were numerous reports that came in from all across
California from that area," said Brian Vike, founder of the
HBCC UFO Research Center in British Columbia, Canada. "From
San Francisco to Paramount, I received numerous e-mails and calls.
"We've only gotten to the tip of the iceberg on this. The
more details we get, the closer we'll get to an answer."
Jan. 5 was not the only recent incident of an object spotted in
the sky. In late December, residents all across Southern California
saw what they described as a light show.
David Steuben, an Ontario resident, said he saw an object like
the Jan. 5 sighting on Dec. 31. He, his family and friends were
mesmerized by a red light high in air that seemed to dance in an
S shape across the night sky.
"At first I thought it might be some kind of helicopter, but
it started moving around all over the sky," Steuben said. "It
was a reddish color, not real bright. Everybody was just staring
at it. Then it disappeared. Then it reappeared again in a slightly
different area of the sky before it disappeared again. My brother
described it as a ball of fire in the sky."
Patrick So, an astronomer at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles,
said the answer could be as simple as a fireball meteor.
"If it left a trail, it's usually a meteor," So said.
"If it's very bright, it's called a fireball meteor, but they
usually burn out 40 miles from earth impact."
The observatory spotted meteors Jan. 3, during what is known as
a quadrantid meteor shower, when several meteors light up the night
sky. Astronomers spotted about 40 that day, So said.
Whether a meteor hit the shed or lit up the sky Jan. 5 is still
unknown, So said. Astronomers did not log any meteor activity that
night or on Dec. 31.
"Most meteors that land on the ground don't really cause any
fire because they are cold by the time they enter our atmosphere,"
he said. "We have even seen frost on the outside of some meteors
that do make it. But it is very rare that one would hit. Some are
only the size of your hand ... others are bigger and they cause
So for now, the "ball(s) of fire in the sky" remain a
mystery. Vike, who has spent the past 30 years studying UFO phenomena,
said questions about these mysterious sightings can only be answered
if people who witness them speak up.
"The first thing (people) have to remember is to contact authorities
and the media so more people may report on the sightings,"
Vike said. "All the details are important: color, altitude,
a rough idea of how long it (took) to get off across the sky. (Are)
there any flashing lights?
"It's nice to figure out a mystery, eh?"
HANOI : Two girls have tested positive for
bird flu in southern Vietnam and are critically ill in hospital,
a doctor said Thursday.
"A little girl from Dong Thap province tested positive this
morning," said Phan Anh Tu, chief virologist at the Pasteur Institute
in Ho Chi Minh City, adding she was aged 13.
Another little girl aged 10 from Long An tested positive on
The first girl is the daughter of a woman aged 35 who died from
bird flu on January 21.
Investigations are under way to establish how the girls became
Both live in areas which have suffered outbreaks of the disease.
The two are under respirators in a Ho Chi Minh City hospital.
The virus has claimed nine victims in Vietnam since December
30 and a total of 29 people since the end of 2003. It has now
spread to 27 of Vietnam's 64 cities and provinces. [...]
PARIS - A goat slaughtered in France in 2002
has tested positive for "mad cow" disease, French and
EU officials said Friday, announcing the
first case in the world of an animal other than a bovine coming
down with the fatal illness that can be transmitted to humans.
The discovery of the disease - known scientifically as bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE) in cows - is a disturbing sign that it can
cross over to other species used for human consumption.
The presence of BSE in other animals had been
viewed as theoretically possible but has never previously been detected.
BSE has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD),
the human form of mad cow disease, which causes brain-wasting, personality
change, loss of body function, and ultimately death.
The French agriculture ministry said the new case was confirmed
by a panel of scientists appointed by the European Commission.
It stressed that the Commission was not yet recommending consumers
avoid buying products with goat meat but was advising EU states
to step up checks for any other goats showing BSE symptoms, such
as trembling and lacking coordination.
British health authorities said in October last year that British
scientists in a laboratory in Weybridge, England, were testing brain
tissue from the goat.
The goat in question was slaughtered in an abbatoir in Ales, in
southern France in 2002 but was kept out of the food chain. The
300 other goats in its herd were destroyed as a precaution even
though testing revealed no trace of BSE in any of them.
There are 1.2 million goats raised in France, of with 940,000 are
used to produce milk for dairy products.
BSE first appeared in cows on a farm in West Sussex, south England
in 1986. The disease has an incubation period
of around five years.
WASHINGTON – With up to a one-in-five chance
of a cataclysmic earthquake occurring off the West Coast in the
next 50 years, the United States should sharply increase spending
to detect and prepare for a major tsunami, lawmakers and experts
Experts told the House Science Committee there is a 10 percent
to 20 percent chance of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the West
Coast that could wreak havoc from northern California to southern
Such an earthquake, in the so-called Cascadia subduction zone,
would be similar to the quake that resulted in the Indian Ocean
tsunami that killed at least 160,000 people last month.
An earthquake of that magnitude would send a 45-foot tsunami
crashing into the West Coast in as little as 15 minutes, severely
damaging roads, bridges and tunnels and "rendering emergency response
nearly impossible," said Jay Wilson, earthquake and tsunami programs
coordinator for the state of Oregon.
Wilson and other speakers hailed a Bush administration proposal
to upgrade and modernize the nation's tsunami warning system,
but said the $37.5 million plan may not go far enough.
"Nature is the real weapon of mass destruction," said Rep. Jay
Inslee, D-Wash. "For less than we spend in one day in Iraq, we
can have a system to prevent a cataclysmic event" that could kill
tens of thousands of people. [...]
Two more earthquakes hit the area of the
Indian Ocean basin Wednesday and early Thursday that were hit
Dec. 26 by a massive quake, followed by killer tsunamis.
The first, registering a 5.6 magnitude on the Richter scale,
hit the Nicobar Islands area, which are the territory of India.
The second, a 6.1 magnitude event, hit off the northwest coast
of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The two quakes bring to 278 the number of events since the magnitude
9.0 quake struck the same area off Sumatra.
A strong earthquake occurred at 15:46:46 (UTC)
on Friday, January 28, 2005. The magnitude 6.1 event has been located
OFF THE COAST OF ECUADOR. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)
The highest volcano in Eurasia,
Klyuchevskoy (4,833 meters high), is erupting volcanic bombs three
to seven meters in diameter up to 300 meters high.
Alexei Ozerov, a senior fellow in the Volcanology and Seismology
Institute of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
told RIA Novosti that one bomb consisting of red-hot magma is erupted
every 15 seconds. The crater of the volcano is a fountain of magma,
Seismic stations have been continuously detecting series of small
earthquakes called volcanic tremor. Eruptions of ash are possible,
as lava fills the 700-meter-wide summit crater.
If the power of the eruption that began on January 17 keeps on
growing at the same rate, in three to four months, as lava streams
downhill, the volcano might become a danger for people living at
the peninsula. Melting down snow and ice on the slopes, lava might
trigger mudflows. If they reach the Kamchatka River, the eruption
could thus translate into a flood, Ozerov said.
Eruptions of summit craters may last from one month to several
years and could undermine the safety of domestic and international
flights. So far, inhabited areas are out of danger.
Antananarivo - At least three people were
killed and 83 reported missing after a strong tropical storm,
Cyclone Ernest, hit Madagascar over the weekend, Malagasy officials
said on Thursday.
Two fishermen off the Indian Ocean island's southern Tsihombe
region and a child in the southwest district of Tulear were killed
as a result of the storm, they said.
"There were a lot of fishermen at sea whose boats probably capsized,"
said Doly Rajaonarivelo, chief of the Androy district which includes
"Villagers have already fished out two bodies and 83 people
are reported missing," he said by telephone, adding that the death
toll could rise as more details of the cyclone's damage become
ALGIERS - Heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures
hit north Africa Thursday, as a cold snap that has paralyzed large
parts of northern Algeria and killed 13 people spread to the highlands
of Morocco and Tunisia.
Snow fell in the capital Algiers, a rarity, causing serious
traffic jams, and again in several towns and cities along or near
the coast, among them Constantine, Tizi Ouzou and Skikda, sending
residents scurrying for shelter.
The winter storms closed many roads to traffic, and a number
of regions were completely cut off from the outside with snow
levels rising to more than one meter (some three and a half feet).
Wind speeds reached up to 70 kilometers per hour (45 miles per
hour), making the wind chill effect that much more noticeable
on the third day of winter weather.
Horrible driving conditions saw the accident rate jump, with
the civil protection service announcing Thursday that 13 people
had died and 47 were injured in crashes in a 24-hour period.
An estimated 1,000 travelers were reported stranded by snow
in various regions, and had to spend the night in schools and
other public buildings.
Some flights out of Algiers' main airport and other cities were
delayed, officials said.
"I've never seen so much snow fall for so long in Algiers,"
a local resident in his 50s said.
In some more mountainous parts of Tunisia, where temperatures
also dropped sharply, local farmers said they had not seen so
much snow fall in a half a century.
While the sun was shining in Tunis it remained very cold, with
some papers labeling the weather "Siberian." Near the Algerian
border in the northwest heavy snow fell overnight, as it did in
the coastal town of Tabarka.
In Morocco meteorologists forecast heavy snow for Thursday and
Friday in the northern plateaus and the Atlas mountain range in
the south, warning that temperatures would drop significantly.
| Postal workers in the southeastern
French city of Saint Etienne refused to do their rounds Thursday after
they were refused extra pay to cope with the biting winter cold, employees
and management said.
Around 70 of the workers did not deliver mail to homes and businesses,
and only six of the 64 rounds were carried out, the state-run La
Poste said, adding that it considered the stoppage "illegal".
The postmen and women had demanded more money and the replacement
of scooters with cars so they could carry out their job safely and
more comfortably after days of snowfall.
BOSTON - More than 5 more inches of snow fell on Boston by this morning,
putting a fresh coat on the leavings of last weekend's blizzard
and making January the city's snowiest on record.
Schools canceled classes yet again, and Gov. Mitt Romney asked
President Bush to declare a federal emergency in the eastern half
of the state, which would make the area eligible for extra aid.
The 5.4 inches of new snow recorded at Logan Airport before
the storm let up this morning came only days after the blizzard
that dumped more than 3 feet of snow.
It brought the airport's January total to 43.1 inches of snow,
more than in any month since the National Weather Service began
keeping records for the city in 1892. The previous record of 41.6
inches was set in February 2003. [...]
GENEVA - Switzerland shivered in the coldest
day this winter on Thursday with icy temperatures hitting minus
19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) in the western town
of Aigle, the weather centre said.
Pushed lower by a vicious wind, the thermometer sank to minus
9.5 degrees Celsius in Zurich, minus 7.5 degrees in Neuchatel
and minus 5.8 degrees in Geneva, according to MeteoSuisse.
Temperatures everywhere froze below zero with the exception
of the Italian-speaking region of Tessin to the south of the Alps
where the mercury clung to plus-seven degrees Celsius.
LISBON - Dozens of trucks were blocked Thursday
by heavy snow along the Portuguese-Spanish border as a cold snap
engulfed much of Europe.
The trucks that were stranded were heading to northern Spain
or central Europe, said Antonio Almeida, head of the Portuguese
He said Portuguese authorities were only allowing through trucks
travelling to Salamanca, Madrid or southern Spain.
A weather service official said the freezing temperatures recorded
this week only occur once every 10 years.
The southeast Portuguese town of Sagres even set a record on
Thursday with temperatures there dipping to 0 degrees Celsius
(32 degrees Fahrenheit).
| Global warming might be twice as
catastrophic as previously thought, flooding settlements on the British
coast and turning the interior into an unrecognisable tropical landscape,
the world's biggest study of climate change shows.
Researchers from some of Britain's leading universities used computer
modelling to predict that under the "worst-case" scenario,
London would be under water and winters banished to history as average
temperatures in the UK soar up to 20C higher than at present.
Globally, average temperatures could reach 11C greater than today,
double the rise predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, the international body set up to investigate global warming.
Such high temperatures would melt most of the polar icecaps and
mountain glaciers, raising sea levels by more than 20ft. A report
this week in The Independent predicted a 2C temperature rise would
lead to irreversible changes in the climate.
The new study, in the journal Nature, was done using the spare
computing time of 95,000 people from 150 countries who downloaded
from the internet the global climate model of the Met Office's Hadley
Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. The program, run as
a screensaver, simulated what would happen if carbon dioxide levels
in the atmosphere were double those of the 18th century, before
the Industrial Revolution, the situation predicted by the middle
of this century.
David Stainforth of Oxford University, the chief scientist of the
latest study, said processing the results showed the Earth's climate
is far more sensitive to increases in man-made greenhouse gases
than previously realised. The findings indicate a doubling of carbon
dioxide from the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million would
increase global average temperatures by between 2C and 11C.
Mr Stainforth said: "An 11C-warmed world would be a dramatically
different world... There would be large areas at higher latitudes
that could be up to 20C warmer than today. The UK would be at the
high end of these changes. It is possible that even present levels
of greenhouse gases maintained for long periods may lead to dangerous
climate change... When you start to look at these temperatures,
I get very worried indeed."
Attempts to control global warming, based on the Kyoto treaty,
concentrated on stabilising the emissions of greenhouse gases at
1990 levels, but the scientists warned that this might not be enough.
Mr Stainforth added: "We need to accept that while greenhouse
gas levels can increase we need to limit them, level them off then
bring them back down again."
Professor Bob Spicer, of the Open University, said average global
temperature rises of 11C are unprecedented in the long geological
record of the Earth. "If we go back to the Cretaceous, which
is 100 million years ago, the best estimates of the global mean
temperature was about 6C higher than present," Professor Spicer
said. "So 11C is quite substantial and if this is right we
would be going into a realm that we really don't have much evidence
for even in the rock [geological] record."
Myles Allen, of Oxford University, said: "The danger zone
is not something we're going to reach in the middle of the century;
we're in it now." Each of the hottest 15 years on record have
been since 1980.
A man was walking along the West Park Avenue
sidewalk in Long Beach Tuesday when he was hit with a charge of
electricity coming up from the pavement, officials said.
Long Beach Fire Chief Scott Kemins said the man was not injured
and left without giving his name after first notifying authorities.
Fortunately, Kemins said, "It was only about 50 volts, half of
what you plug into your home - just about what powers your electric
Kemins said that apparently a line that runs under pavement
to a street light near National Boulevard became eroded and released
the charge of electricity. A 40-foot area was taped off and restricted
for about about two hours while a private electrical contractor
corrected the problem, he said. [...]
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