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Travel Log! The
Quantum Future Group Goes to Rennes-le-Chateau
Control, Thought Control, World Control
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives
The United States Capitol
9:10 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress,
As a new Congress gathers, all of us in the elected branches of
government share a great privilege: We've been placed in office
by the votes of the people we serve. And tonight that is a privilege
we share with newly-elected leaders of Afghanistan, the Palestinian
Territories, Ukraine, and a free and sovereign
Two weeks ago, I stood on the steps of this Capitol and renewed
the commitment of our nation to the guiding ideal of liberty for
all. This evening I will set forth policies to advance that ideal
at home and around the world.
Tonight, with a healthy, growing economy, with more Americans going
back to work, with our nation an active force for good in the world
-- the state of our union is confident and strong. (Applause.)
Our generation has been blessed -- by the expansion of opportunity,
by advances in medicine, by the security purchased by our parents'
sacrifice. Now, as we see a little gray in the mirror -- or a lot
of gray -- (laughter) -- and we watch our children moving into adulthood,
we ask the question: What will be the state of their union?
Members of Congress, the choices we make together will answer that
question. Over the next several months, on issue after issue, let
us do what Americans have always done, and build a better world
for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)
First, we must be good stewards of this economy, and renew the
great institutions on which millions of our fellow citizens rely.
America's economy is the fastest growing
of any major industrialized nation.
China's economy grew at a surprisingly breakneck pace at the
end of last year, the government said Tuesday in a report sure
to increase pressure on Beijing to address its burgeoning trade
imbalance with the United States and other countries. [...]
The economic acceleration at year-end lifted growth
for all of 2004 also to 9.5%, the fastest rate in eight
years. By comparison, the much-larger U.S.
economy has been increasing at about a 4% annualized rate.
In the past four years, we provided tax relief to every person
who pays income taxes, overcome a recession, opened up new markets
abroad, prosecuted corporate criminals, raised homeownership to
its highest level in history, and in the last year alone, the United
States has added 2.3 million new jobs. (Applause.) When action was
needed, the Congress delivered -- and the nation is grateful.
Now we must add to these achievements. By making our economy more
flexible, more innovative, and more competitive, we will keep America
the economic leader of the world. (Applause.)
America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite
of the federal government. I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for
spending discipline. I will send you a budget that holds the growth
of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent,
and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. (Applause.)
My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government
programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts,
or do not fulfill essential priorities. The principle here is clear:
Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely, or not at all. (Applause.)
To make our economy stronger and more dynamic, we must prepare
a rising generation to fill the jobs of the 21st century. Under
the No Child Left Behind Act, standards are higher, test scores
are on the rise, and we're closing the achievement gap for minority
students. Now we must demand better results from our high schools,
so every high school diploma is a ticket to success. We will help
an additional 200,000 workers to get training for a better career,
by reforming our job training system and strengthening America's
community colleges. And we'll make it easier for Americans to afford
a college education, by increasing the size of Pell Grants. (Applause.)
To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must
reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small
business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities,
so we must free small businesses from needless
regulation and protect honest job-creators from junk lawsuits.
(Applause.) Justice is distorted, and our
economy is held back by irresponsible class-actions and frivolous
asbestos claims -- and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms
this year. (Applause.)
To make our economy stronger and more productive, we must make
health care more affordable, and give families greater access to
good coverage -- (applause) -- and more control over their health
decisions. (Applause.) I ask Congress to move forward on a comprehensive
health care agenda with tax credits to help low-income workers buy
insurance, a community health center in every poor country, improved
information technology to prevent medical error and needless costs,
association health plans for small businesses and their employees
-- (applause) -- expanded health savings accounts -- (applause)
-- and medical liability reform that will reduce health care costs
and make sure patients have the doctors and care they need. (Applause.)
To keep our economy growing, we also need reliable supplies of
affordable, environmentally responsible energy. (Applause.) Nearly
four years ago, I submitted a comprehensive energy strategy that
encourages conservation, alternative sources, a modernized electricity
grid, and more production here at home -- including safe, clean
nuclear energy. (Applause.) My Clear Skies legislation will cut
power plant pollution and improve the health of our citizens. (Applause.)
And my budget provides strong funding for leading-edge technology
-- from hydrogen-fueled cars, to clean coal, to renewable sources
such as ethanol. (Applause.) Four years of debate is enough: I urge
Congress to pass legislation that makes America more secure and
less dependent on foreign energy. (Applause.)
All these proposals are essential to expand this economy and add
new jobs -- but they are just the beginning of our duty. To build
the prosperity of future generations, we must update institutions
that were created to meet the needs of an earlier time. Year after
year, Americans are burdened by an archaic, incoherent federal tax
code. I've appointed a bipartisan panel to examine the tax code
from top to bottom. And when their recommendations are delivered,
you and I will work together to give this nation a tax code that
is pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all. (Applause.)
America's immigration system is also outdated -- unsuited to the
needs of our economy and to the values of our country. We should
not be content with laws that punish hardworking people who want
only to provide for their families, and deny businesses willing
workers, and invite chaos at our border. It is time for an immigration
policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans
will not take, that rejects amnesty,
that tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that
closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists. (Applause.)
One of America's most important institutions -- a symbol of the
trust between generations -- is also in need of wise and effective
reform. Social Security was a great moral success of the 20th century,
and we must honor its great purposes in this new century. (Applause.)
The system, however, on its current path,
is headed toward bankruptcy. And so we must join together
to strengthen and save Social Security. (Applause.)
Today, more than 45 million Americans receive Social Security benefits,
and millions more are nearing retirement -- and for them the system
is sound and fiscally strong. I have a message for every American
who is 55 or older: Do not let anyone mislead you; for you, the
Social Security system will not change in any way. (Applause.) For
younger workers, the Social Security system has serious problems
that will grow worse with time. Social Security was created decades
ago, for a very different era. In those days, people did not live
as long. Benefits were much lower than they are today. And a half-century
ago, about sixteen workers paid into the system for each person
Our society has changed in ways the founders
of Social Security could not have foreseen. In today's world, people
are living longer and, therefore, drawing benefits longer. And those
benefits are scheduled to rise dramatically over the next few decades.
And instead of sixteen workers paying in for every beneficiary,
right now it's only about three workers. And over the next few decades
that number will fall to just two workers per beneficiary. With
each passing year, fewer workers are paying ever-higher benefits
to an ever-larger number of retirees.
So here is the result: Thirteen years from now,
in 2018, Social Security will be paying out more than it takes in.
And every year afterward will bring a new shortfall, bigger than
the year before. For example, in the year 2027, the government will
somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion to keep the system
afloat -- and by 2033, the annual shortfall would be more than $300
billion. By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted
and bankrupt. If steps are not taken to avert that outcome, the
only solutions would be dramatically higher taxes, massive new borrowing,
or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government
I recognize that 2018 and 2042 may seem a long way off. But those
dates are not so distant, as any parent will tell you. If you have
a five-year-old, you're already concerned about how you'll pay for
college tuition 13 years down the road. If you've got children in
their 20s, as some of us do, the idea of Social Security collapsing
before they retire does not seem like a small matter. And it should
not be a small matter to the United States Congress. (Applause.)
You and I share a responsibility. We must pass reforms that solve
the financial problems of Social Security once and for all.
Fixing Social Security permanently will require an open, candid
review of the options. Some have suggested limiting benefits for
wealthy retirees. Former Congressman Tim Penny has raised the possibility
of indexing benefits to prices rather than wages. During the 1990s,
my predecessor, President Clinton, spoke of increasing the retirement
age. Former Senator John Breaux suggested discouraging early collection
of Social Security benefits. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
recommended changing the way benefits are calculated. All these
ideas are on the table.
I know that none of these reforms would be easy. But we have to
move ahead with courage and honesty, because our children's retirement
security is more important than partisan politics. (Applause.) I
will work with members of Congress to find the most effective combination
of reforms. I will listen to anyone who has a good idea to offer.
(Applause.) We must, however, be guided by some basic principles.
We must make Social Security permanently sound, not leave that task
for another day. We must not jeopardize our economic strength by
increasing payroll taxes. We must ensure that lower-income Americans
get the help they need to have dignity and peace of mind in their
retirement. We must guarantee there is no
change for those now retired or nearing retirement. And we
must take care that any changes in the system are gradual, so younger
workers have years to prepare and plan for their future.
As we fix Social Security, we also have the responsibility to make
the system a better deal for younger workers. And the best way to
reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts.
(Applause.) Here is how the idea works. Right now, a set portion
of the money you earn is taken out of your paycheck to pay for the
Social Security benefits of today's retirees. If you're a younger
worker, I believe you should be able to set aside part of that money
in your own retirement account, so you can build a nest egg for
your own future.
Here's why the personal accounts are a better deal. Your money
will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything the current
system can deliver -- and your account will provide money for retirement
over and above the check you will receive from Social Security.
In addition, you'll be able to pass along the money that accumulates
in your personal account, if you wish, to your children and -- or
grandchildren. And best of all, the money in the account is yours,
and the government can never take it away. (Applause.)
The goal here is greater security in retirement, so we will set
careful guidelines for personal accounts. We'll make sure the money
can only go into a conservative mix of bonds and stock funds. We'll
make sure that your earnings are not eaten up by hidden Wall Street
fees. We'll make sure there are good options to protect your investments
from sudden market swings on the eve of your retirement. We'll make
sure a personal account cannot be emptied out all at once, but rather
paid out over time, as an addition to traditional Social Security
benefits. And we'll make sure this plan is fiscally responsible,
by starting personal retirement accounts gradually, and raising
the yearly limits on contributions over time, eventually permitting
all workers to set aside four percentage points of their payroll
taxes in their accounts.
Personal retirement accounts should be familiar to federal employees,
because you already have something similar, called the Thrift Savings
Plan, which lets workers deposit a portion of their paychecks into
any of five different broadly-based investment funds. It's time
to extend the same security, and choice, and ownership to young
second great responsibility to our children and grandchildren is
to honor and to pass along the values that sustain a free society.
So many of my generation, after a long journey,
have come home to family and faith, and are determined to
bring up responsible, moral children. Government
is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine
Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of
society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the
good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional
amendment to protect the institution of marriage. (Applause.)
Because a society is measured by how it treats the weak and vulnerable,
we must strive to build a culture of life. Medical research can
help us reach that goal, by developing treatments and cures that
save lives and help people overcome disabilities -- and I thank
the Congress for doubling the funding of the National Institutes
of Health. (Applause.) To build a culture of life, we must also
ensure that scientific advances always serve human dignity, not
take advantage of some lives for the benefit of others. We should
all be able to agree -- (applause) -- we should all be able to agree
on some clear standards. I will work with Congress to ensure that
human embryos are not created for experimentation or grown for body
parts, and that human life is never bought and sold as a commodity.
(Applause.) America will continue to lead the world in medical research
that is ambitious, aggressive, and always ethical.
Because courts must always deliver impartial justice, judges
have a duty to faithfully interpret the law, not legislate from
the bench. (Applause.) As President, I have a constitutional
responsibility to nominate men and women who understand the role
of courts in our democracy, and are well-qualified to serve on the
bench -- and I have done so. (Applause.) The Constitution also gives
the Senate a responsibility: Every judicial nominee deserves an
up or down vote. (Applause.)
Because one of the deepest values of our country is compassion,
we must never turn away from any citizen who feels isolated from
the opportunities of America. Our government will continue to support
faith-based and community groups that
bring hope to harsh places. Now we need to focus on giving young
people, especially young men in our cities, better options than
apathy, or gangs, or jail. Tonight I propose a three-year initiative
to help organizations keep young people out of gangs, and show young
men an ideal of manhood that respects women and rejects violence.
(Applause.) Taking on gang life will be one part of a broader outreach
to at-risk youth, which involves parents and pastors, coaches and
community leaders, in programs ranging from literacy to sports.
And I am proud that the leader of this nationwide effort will be
our First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.)
Because HIV/AIDS brings suffering and fear into so many lives,
I ask you to reauthorize the Ryan White Act to encourage prevention,
and provide care and treatment to the victims of that disease. (Applause.)
And as we update this important law, we must focus our efforts on
fellow citizens with the highest rates of new cases, African American
men and women. (Applause.)
Because one of the main sources of our national
unity is our belief in equal justice, we need to make sure Americans
of all races and backgrounds have confidence in the system that
provides justice. In America we must
make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or
she did not commit -- so we are dramatically expanding the use of
DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction. (Applause.)
Soon I will send to Congress a proposal to fund special training
for defense counsel in capital cases, because people on trial for
their lives must have competent lawyers by their side. (Applause.)
Our third responsibility to future generations is to leave them
an America that is safe from danger, and protected by peace. We
will pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy -- and
chief among them is freedom from fear.
In the three and a half years since September the 11th, 2001, we
have taken unprecedented actions to protect Americans. We've created
a new department of government to defend our homeland, focused the
FBI on preventing terrorism, begun to reform our intelligence agencies,
broken up terror cells across the country, expanded research on
defenses against biological and chemical attack, improved border
security, and trained more than a half-million first responders.
Police and firefighters, air marshals, researchers, and so many
others are working every day to make our homeland safer, and we
thank them all. (Applause.)
Our nation, working with allies and friends, has also confronted
the enemy abroad, with measures that are determined, successful,
and continuing. The al Qaeda terror network that attacked our country
still has leaders -- but many of its top commanders have been removed.
There are still governments that sponsor and harbor terrorists --
but their number has declined. There are still regimes seeking weapons
of mass destruction -- but no longer without attention and without
consequence. Our country is still the target of terrorists who want
to kill many, and intimidate us all -- and we will stay on the offensive
against them, until the fight is won. (Applause.)
Pursuing our enemies is a vital commitment of the war on terror
-- and I thank the Congress for providing our servicemen and women
with the resources they have needed. During
this time of war, we must continue to support our military and give
them the tools for victory. (Applause.)
Other nations around the globe have stood with us. In Afghanistan,
an international force is helping provide security. In Iraq, 28
countries have troops on the ground, the United Nations and the
European Union provided technical assistance for the elections,
and NATO is leading a mission to help train Iraqi officers. We're
cooperating with 60 governments in the Proliferation Security Initiative,
to detect and stop the transit of dangerous materials. We're working
closely with the governments in Asia to convince North Korea to
abandon its nuclear ambitions. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and nine
other countries have captured or detained al Qaeda terrorists. In
the next four years, my administration will continue to build the
coalitions that will defeat the dangers of our time. (Applause.)
In the long-term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating
the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder. If
whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred,
they will be the recruiting grounds for terror, and that terror
will stalk America and other free nations for decades. The only
force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and
replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom. (Applause.)
Our enemies know this, and that is why the
terrorist Zarqawi recently declared war on what he called the "evil
principle" of democracy. And we've declared our own
intention: America will stand with the allies of freedom to support
democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate
goal of ending tyranny in our world. (Applause.)
"We have declared a fierce war on
this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong
ideology," the speaker said in an audiotape posted
Sunday on an Islamic Web site. "Anyone who tries to help
set up this system is part of it."
The speaker warned Iraqis to be careful
of "the enemy's plan to implement so-called democracy in
your country." He said the Americans
have engineered the election to install Shiite Muslims
The United States has no right, no desire,
and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else.
That is one of the main differences between us and our enemies.
They seek to impose and expand an empire of oppression, in which
a tiny group of brutal, self-appointed rulers control every aspect
of every life. Our aim is to build and preserve a community
of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to
their citizens, and reflect their own cultures. And because democracies
respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of freedom
will lead to peace. (Applause.)
That advance has great momentum in our time -- shown by women voting
in Afghanistan, and Palestinians choosing a new direction, and the
people of Ukraine asserting their democratic rights and electing
a president. We are witnessing landmark events in the history of
liberty. And in the coming years, we will
add to that story. (Applause.)
The beginnings of reform and democracy in the Palestinian territories
are now showing the power of freedom to break old patterns of violence
and failure. Tomorrow morning, Secretary of State Rice departs on
a trip that will take her to Israel and the West Bank for meetings
with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. She will discuss
with them how we and our friends can help the Palestinian people
end terror and build the institutions of a peaceful, independent,
democratic state. To promote this democracy, I will ask Congress
for $350 million to support Palestinian political, economic, and
security reforms. The goal of two democratic states, Israel and
Palestine, living side by side in peace, is within reach -- and
America will help them achieve that goal. (Applause.)
To promote peace and stability in the broader Middle East, the
United States will work with our friends in the region to fight
the common threat of terror, while we encourage a higher standard
of freedom. Hopeful reform is already taking hold in an arc from
Morocco to Jordan to Bahrain. The
government of Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the
region by expanding the role of its people in determining their
future. And the great and proud nation of
Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can
now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East. (Applause.)
According to a report leaked to the New York Times, the Swiss-based
International Red Cross has accused the Bush administration for
a second time of employing systematic, medically supervised torture
against suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay, and at U.S.-run
prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The second Red Cross report was delivered to the White House
last summer while it was trying to dismiss the Abu Ghraib prison
torture horrors as the crimes of a few rogue jailers.
According to the report's allegations, many tortures perfected
by the Cheka (Soviet secret police) -- notably beating, freezing,
sensory disorientation, and sleep deprivation -- are now routinely
being used by U.S. interrogators. [...]
The U.S. has been sending high-level anti-American
suspects to Egypt, Jordan, Morocco,
and, reportedly, Pakistan, where it's alleged they are brutally
tortured with violent electric shocks, savage beatings, drowning,
acid baths, and blowtorching -- the
same tortures, ironically, ascribed to Saddam Hussein.
To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes
that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder.
Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used
by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region.
You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability
Act -- and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for
terror and open the door to freedom. (Applause.) Today,
Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror
-- pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom
they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make
clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment
program and any plutonium reprocessing, and end its support for
terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for
your own liberty, America stands with you. (Applause.)
Our generational commitment to the advance of freedom, especially
in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq. That
country is a vital front in the war on terror, which is why the
terrorists have chosen to make a stand there. Our
men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we
do not have to face them here at home. (Applause.) And the
victory of freedom in Iraq will strengthen a new ally in the war
on terror, inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran,
bring more hope and progress to a troubled region, and
thereby lift a terrible threat from the lives of our children and
We will succeed because the Iraqi people value their own liberty
-- as they showed the world last Sunday. (Applause.) Across Iraq,
often at great risk, millions of citizens went to the polls and
elected 275 men and women to represent them in a new Transitional
National Assembly. A young woman in Baghdad
told of waking to the sound of mortar fire on election day, and
wondering if it might be too dangerous to vote. She said, "Hearing
those explosions, it occurred to me -- the insurgents are weak,
they are afraid of democracy, they are losing. So I got my husband,
and I got my parents, and we all came out and voted together."
Americans recognize that spirit of liberty,
because we share it. In any nation, casting your vote is
an act of civic responsibility; for millions of Iraqis, it was also
an act of personal courage, and they have earned the respect of
us all. (Applause.)
One of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia
Taleb al-Suhail. She says of her country, "We were occupied
for 35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. Thank
you to the American people who paid the cost, but most of all, to
the soldiers." Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated
by Saddam's intelligence service. Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia
was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country -- and we
are honored that she is with us tonight. (Applause.)
The terrorists and insurgents are violently opposed to democracy,
and will continue to attack it. Yet, the terrorists' most powerful
myth is being destroyed. The whole world
is seeing that the car bombers and assassins are not only fighting
coalition forces, they are trying to destroy the hopes of Iraqis,
expressed in free elections. And the whole world now knows
that a small group of extremists will not overturn the will of the
Iraqi people. (Applause.)
We will succeed in Iraq because Iraqis are determined to fight
for their own freedom, and to write their own history. As Prime
Minister Allawi said in his speech to Congress last September, "Ordinary
Iraqis are anxious to shoulder all the security burdens of our country
as quickly as possible." That is the natural desire of an independent
nation, and it is also the stated mission of our coalition in Iraq.
The new political situation in Iraq opens a new phase of our work
in that country.
At the recommendation of our commanders on the ground, and in consultation
with the Iraqi government, we will increasingly focus our efforts
on helping prepare more capable Iraqi security forces -- forces
with skilled officers and an effective command structure. As
those forces become more self-reliant and take on greater security
responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly
be in a supporting role. In the end, Iraqis must be able
to defend their own country -- and we will help that proud, new
nation secure its liberty.
Recently an Iraqi interpreter said to a reporter, "Tell America
not to abandon us." He and all Iraqis can be certain: While
our military strategy is adapting to circumstances, our commitment
remains firm and unchanging. We are standing for the freedom of
our Iraqi friends, and freedom in Iraq will
make America safer for generations to come. (Applause.)
We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because
that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can
wait us out. We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that
is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its
neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved,
our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor
they have earned. (Applause.)
Right now, Americans in uniform are serving at posts across the
world, often taking great risks on my orders. We
have given them training and equipment;
and they have given us an example of idealism and character that
makes every American proud. (Applause.)
The volunteers of our military are unrelenting in battle, unwavering
in loyalty, unmatched in honor and decency, and every day they're
making our nation more secure. Some of our servicemen and women
have survived terrible injuries, and this
grateful country will do everything we can to help them recover.
And we have said farewell to some very good men and women, who
died for our freedom, and whose memory this nation will honor forever.
One name we honor is Marine Corps Sergeant Byron Norwood of Pflugerville,
Texas, who was killed during the assault on Fallujah. His mom, Janet,
sent me a letter and told me how much Byron loved being a Marine,
and how proud he was to be on the front line against terror. She
wrote, "When Byron was home the last time, I said that I wanted
to protect him like I had since he was born. He just hugged me and
said, 'You've done your job, Mom. Now it is my turn to protect you.'"
Ladies and gentlemen, with grateful hearts, we honor freedom's defenders,
and our military families, represented here this evening by Sergeant
Norwood's mom and dad, Janet and Bill Norwood. (Applause.)
In these four years, Americans have seen the unfolding of large
events. We have known times of sorrow, and hours of uncertainty,
and days of victory. In all this history, even when we have disagreed,
we have seen threads of purpose that unite us. The attack on freedom
in our world has reaffirmed our confidence in freedom's power to
change the world. We are all part of a great venture: To extend
the promise of freedom in our country, to renew the values that
sustain our liberty, and to spread the peace that freedom brings.
As Franklin Roosevelt once reminded Americans, "Each age is
a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth." And
we live in the country where the biggest dreams are born. The abolition
of slavery was only a dream -- until it was fulfilled. The liberation
of Europe from fascism was only a dream -- until it was achieved.
The fall of imperial communism was only a dream -- until, one day,
it was accomplished. Our generation has dreams of its own, and we
also go forward with confidence. The road of Providence is uneven
and unpredictable -- yet we know where it leads: It leads to freedom.
Thank you, and may God bless America. (Applause.)
Wings Damage Buildings
at the picture below. It is a photo of a Canadair Challenger 600
corporate jet that crashed into a building after failing to take-off
from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, Wednesday, Feb 2, 2005. Notice
the fact that the right wing struck the building as one might expect,
leaving a hole (or at least damage) on the facade of the building
at the impact point. The left hand wing appears to have broken when
the plane dropped onto its left side, and did not impact the building.
Now look at the following picture
It shows the Pentagon facade immediately to the right of the impact
point and where there should clearly be some damage from the right
wing of the plane. There is none.
Likewise, in the following picture (click for larger version) we
see that to the immediate left of the impact point (direct above
car) where there should be evidence of damage to the facade caused
by the the left wing, but, again, there is none. It should also
be noted that there are two cars , one white, one black, directly
in front of the left hand bar of the upside down "T" of
the hole. While the white car is partially destroyed the black SUV
seems to be fairly much intact, suggesting that the hole that it
sits in front of resulted from a blast from the INSIDE of the building
rather than part of any large plane that made the hole from the
Even the government commissioned "Pentagon
Building Performance Report" acknowledges that there is
no damage to the building from either the wings, or the tail of
the plane that would have reached up to the fourth floor of the
building. (click below image for larger version)
The report suggests that perhaps one or other of the
wings were sheared off before they struck the building, but in that
case, where is the wreckage?
After even a cursory look at the evidence, it becomes
clear that it is VERY unlikely that a plane the size of a Boeing
757 hit the Pentagon on 9/11. Of course, the entire issue could
be put to rest if the US government would simply release the footage
from the many confiscated video tapes that recorded the event. Sadly,
the US government steadfastly refuses to do so, citing "national
security concerns", which simply adds to the suspicions that
something very strange happened at the Pentagon on September 11th
2001 and all of the evidence suggests that it had nothing whatsoever
to do with "Arab terrorists".
Of course, the fact that the US government is lying
about the events of 9/11 has not stopped them exploiting that lie
to garner public support to wage war on the innocent and defenseless
people of Afghanistan and Iraq. In believing the lie and supporting
the liars, the average citizen becomes complicit in the crimes that
are committed in their name.
Our creature comforts have
made silent cowards of us all
... absolute power corrupts absolutely.
— Lord Acton
All a man can betray is his conscience.
— Joseph Conrad
"We do it because we can," the military man said smugly.
And by such philosophy, the corporate American war machine tries
to take the world to its grave.
The former general and recent Secretary of State Colin Powell's
words still ring in my ears: "We don't count the Iraqi dead,"
he said. Perhaps it was because he knew he couldn't count that high.
For a month I've looked around for something positive to say,
something encouraging, uplifting, productive ... and failing that,
perhaps something consoling, some obvious explanation of the twisted
perversion that has wrapped its petrochemical tentacles around the
throat of humanity and keeps squeezing.
Across the gray landscape of languid lies and malevolent misconceptions,
I see nothing to cling to. No ray of hope. Only lies, self-serving
twists of what used to be called logic. Freedom is no longer safe,
they tell us. You must have a number. And while you're at it, take
this toxic vaccine, and no, you won't be able to sue the manufacturer
if you get sick. Just do it, as the slogan commands us.
The right to a fair trial is no longer guaranteed. You can be
put in jail or executed for reasons that can be kept secret. And
still, on the crumbling streets of America, most people go about
their business as if nothing has happened.
Sensible people, who in the deepening darkness of their own secret
hearts must realize something has definitely happened, that something
definitely will happen. Sensible people, suddenly afraid to speak
what they really believe for fear their neighbors will overhear
and tell someone with a gun and a uniform, or worse, an employer
with an important contract who wants no employees who don't agree
with the way things are. And then, they think, paralyzed by fear,
who will feed the kids? Scared silence follows.
Who would have thought that democracy would come to mean tyranny?
OK, Orwell. And many other now unpopular voices, never heard in
our manacled media.
Who would have thought, when all was said and done, that America
would turn out to be the chief threat to the survival of all life
on this planet? But as the announcer always reminds us, this is
why we play the game. You never know how it will turn out.
How it has turned out is like this.
No one dares to speak the truth in America, because if they do,
they will be removed from the corrupt system of profit-making that
enables them to remain smug and secure (they think) in their never-paid-off
homes. Just think of all those well-paid journalists and broadcasters
who pretend to be such authorities on what's going on in the world.
Not one of them dares to mention, as they wax opportunistically
compassionate over the quarter million dead from the suspicious
tsunami in the Indian Ocean, that a nearly equal number of equally
innocent corpses has been generated by their own hypocrisy in the
gutters of various Fallujahs in countries they can barely remember
the names of. Nobody’s even talking about the continuing genocide
in central Africa.
Not one of them dares to mention that two brothers counted more
than 80 percent of the votes in the recent American election (and
both of them were publicly enthusiastic about re-electing the tyrant
in office), that there were discrepancies in the counting of those
votes ONLY in places where there was unverifiable computerized voting,
and that poor people everywhere were physically and mentally discouraged
from going to the polls. Or that even the candidate who lost didn’t
really object to losing.
Not one of them dares to mention that America, their country,
is deliberately killing its own soldiers by (1) putting them into
a poorly organized military deployment where they will likely be
killed by the very people they are trying to rape, kill, and intimidate
into accepting the corporate totalitarianism that the killers don't
even realize they are supporting, and (2) by polluting their bodies
with dangerous ammunition that will kill them with cancer a few
short years down the road. Almost no one realizes 10,000 Americans
have died as a result of the first Gulf War. A few of the pundits
(are you listening, Mike Ruppert?) mention that population reduction
is a good idea, however, giving us all just a glimpse of the blood
in the teeth of their smiles.
And not one of them dares to mention the contrived horror of 9/11,
and the self-serving lies that followed, the total coverup that
was called an investigation, and the vigilante hysteria that followed,
unleashing a mindless bloodlust to kill who they told us to kill,
who just happened to be people they wanted to steal from.
We see from American behavior in Iraq — the endless and
deliberate killings of innocent bystanders, the indiscriminate bombing
of a population we insist we are rescuing, and the corrupt prevention
of independent reporting on the terrible crimes we are committing
— that the United States is a nation of conscienceless killers,
who have absolutely no regard for the welfare and safety of wholly
innocent people who happen to reside outside their borders. Americans
hide their atrocious deeds in self-serving rationalizations that
nobody really believes, not even, I suspect, the people who are
And we see from American behavior inside America — the acceptance
of their government’s lies about 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq, and continuing promises of further invasions of other
innocent countries — that the United States is a nation of
foul, cowardly, heartless, psychotic and unprincipled murderers,
who have blackmailed the rest of the world into accepting their
racist imperalism and aggression at the point of their very big
There is no terror threat. It was invented by the Israelis in
the White House who wanted to take the focus off the genocide going
on in Israel. The 9/11 deception will not be solved until the Israeli
component of it is unearthed, and right now, that won’t happen
because the entire 9/11 skeptics movement is riddled with Israeli
moles and Zionist apologists.
How long will the world wait to do something about this menace,
now that it has been proven that no matter how many actual Americans
disapprove of this consumately sociopathic behavior, they are powerless
to stop the corporate war machine, which they support by their silence,
from plundering the planet into an irreversibly toxic condition.
By their actions over the past century, Americans have revealed
themselves to be psycho killers in pursuit of profit at the expense
of everyone else on the planet.
They must be stopped, and if Americans can’t stop themselves,
then someone else must, for the benefit of what is good and right
and noble and honest.
The real terrorists are the Americans (and their sidekicks the
British, the Israelis and the Australians), and the rest of the
world needs to wake up to that before it’s too late for everyone.
If the United States were ever to consent to the auspices of a
genuinely honest World Court (which is why we won’t), its
leaders would easily be convicted of widespread genocide and crimes
against humanity, and be sentenced to the maximum penalty.
By their silent complicity, the American people are accessories
to all these horrendous crimes before, during, and after the fact,
and deserve the same punishment as its leaders.
It’s a little something to remember when on that fateful
day the world finally comes calling to repay America for the gifts
it has bestowed upon the world.
Just don’t say you didn’t know. Because people with
guns don’t listen.
John Kaminski’s Internet essays can be seen on hundreds
of websites around the world. They have been collected into two
anthologies, the latest of which is titled “The Perfect Enemy,”
about how the Zionist-controlled U.S. government created the terrorist
group knowns as al-Qaeda.
I was supposed to be on the Larry King Live
show last night. I was asked to be on the show to offer my opinion
on the election in Iraq from the perspective of a mom whose son
was killed in the war prior to the elections. One of the questions
I was going to be asked was: Do I think my son's sacrifice was "worth
it?" Well, I didn't get a chance to be on the show last night,
because I was bumped for something that is really important: The
Michael Jackson Trial.
If I was allowed to go on Larry King Live last night and give
my opinion about the elections and about my son's sacrifice, this
is what I would have told Mr. King and his viewers:
My son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan (KIA, Sadr City, 04/04/04) enlisted
in the Army to protect America and give something back to our country.
He didn't enlist to be used and misused by a reckless Commander-in-Chief
who sent his troops to preemptively attack and occupy a country
that was no imminent threat (or any threat) to our country. Casey
was sent to die in a war that was based on the imagination of some
Neo-Cons who love to fill our lives with fear.
Casey didn't agree with the "Mission" but being the
courageous and honorable man that he was he knew he had to go to
this mistake of a war to support his buddies. Casey also wondered
aloud many times why precious troops and resources were being diverted
from the real war on terror.
Casey was told that he would be welcomed to Iraq as a liberator
with chocolates and rose petals strewn in front of his unarmored
Humvee. He was in Iraq for two short weeks when the Shi'ite rebel
"welcome wagon" welcomed him to Baghdad with bullets and
RPG's, which took his young and beautiful life. I think my son's
helmet and Viet Nam era flak jacket would have protected him better
from the chocolates and flower petals.
Casey was killed after George Bush proclaimed "Mission Accomplished"
on May 1, 2003 -- he was also killed after Saddam was captured in
December of that same year. Casey was killed before the transfer
of power in June of 2004 and before these elections. Four marines
were tragically killed after the election. By my count, about five
dozen Iraqis and coalition troops were killed on Election Day --
is that the definition of "Catastrophic Success?" But
is that a good day in Iraq? Hundreds of our young people and thousands
of Iraqis have been needlessly and senselessly murdered since George
Bush triumphantly announced an end to "major combat" almost
2 years ago now. All of the above events have been heralded by this
administration as "turning points" in the "war on
terror" -- or as wonderful events in the "march of democracy."
Really? I don't think, judging by very recent history, that the
elections will stop the bloodshed and destruction.
I would have asked Mr. King if he would want to sacrifice one
of his children for sham elections in Iraq. Would he or George Bush
send their children to be killed, or maimed for life, for a series
of lies, mistakes and miscalculations? Now that every lie has been
exposed to the light for the invasion and occupation of Iraq --
why are our sons and daughters still there? NOT ONE MORE DROP OF
BLOOD SHOULD BE SPILLED FOR THIS PACK OF LIES.
This war was sold to the American people by a slimy leadership
with a maniacal zeal and phony sincerity that would have impressed
snake oil salesmen a century ago. The average American needs to
hear from people who have been devastated by the arrogance and ignorance
of an administration that doesn't even have the decency or compassion
to sign our "death" letters.
In the interest of being "fair and balanced" (oops,
wrong network), I would have been pitted against a parent who still
agrees with the "Mission" and the President. Although,
I grieve for that parent's loss and I respect that parent's opinion,
I would have defied Mr. King, or that parent to explain the "Mission"
to me. I don't think anyone can do it with a straight face. The
President has also stated that we need to keep our troops in Iraq
to honor our sacrifices by completing this elusive and ever changing
"Mission." My response to him is "Just because it
is too late for Casey and the Sheehan family, why would we want
another innocent life taken, in the name of this chameleon of a
Well, I was bumped from the show anyway. Now that Scott Peterson
has been convicted and sentenced for his crimes and Laci and Connor's
families have the justice they deserve, we have the new "trial
of the century" to keep our minds off of the nasty and annoying
fact that we are waging an immoral war in Iraq. We can fill our
TV screens and homes with the glorified images of the Michael Jackson
molestation trial. We can fill our lives with outrage over MJ's
victims and hope they get justice; not even questioning the fact
that George Bush, his dishonest cabinet, and their misguided policies
aren't even brought to the court of public opinion. We won't have
to confront ourselves with the fact that the leaders of our country
and their lies are responsible for the deaths of 1438 brave Americans
-- tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis -- and the loss of our Nation's
credibility throughout the world. That might mean we would have
to turn off our television sets and do something about it.
Oh yeah. In answer to the original question Larry: No it wasn't
IN THINKING about the election in Iraq, my
mind keeps jumping back to last week's train wreck in California.
A deranged man, intending suicide, drove his Jeep Cherokee onto
the railroad tracks, where it got stuck. The onrushing train drew
near. The man suddenly left his vehicle and leapt out of the way.
He watched as the train crashed into his SUV, derailed, jackknifed,
and hit another train. Railroad cars crumbled. Eleven people were
killed and nearly 200 were injured, some gravely. The deranged man
was arrested. Whatever troubles had made him suicidal in the first
place paled in comparison to the trouble he had now.
Iraq is a train wreck. The man who caused it is not in trouble.
Tomorrow night he will give his State of the Union speech, and the
Washington establishment will applaud him. Tens of thousands of
Iraqis are dead.
More than 1,400 Americans are dead. An Arab nation is humiliated.
Islamic hatred of the West is ignited. The American military is
emasculated. Lies define the foreign policy
of the United States. On all sides of Operation Iraqi Freedom,
there is wreckage. In the center, there are the dead, the maimed,
the displaced -- those who will be the ghosts of this war for the
rest of their days. All for what?
Tomorrow night, like a boy in a bubble, George W. Bush will tell
the world it was for "freedom." He will claim the Iraqi
election as a stamp of legitimacy for his policy, and many people
will affirm it as such. Even critics of the war will mute their
objections in response to the image of millions of Iraqis going
to polling places, as if that act undoes the Bush catastrophe.
There is only one way in which the grand claims made by Washington
for the weekend voting will be true -- and that is if the elections
empower an Iraqi government that moves quickly to repudiate Washington.
The only meaning "freedom" can
have in Iraq right now is freedom from the US occupation, which
is the ground of disorder. But such an outcome of the elections
is not likely. The chaos of a destroyed society leaves every new
instrument of governance dependent on the American force, even as
the American force shows itself incapable of defending against,
much less defeating, the suicide legions. The
irony is exquisite. The worse the violence gets, the longer the
Americans will claim the right to stay. In that way, the ever more
emboldened -- and brutal -- "insurgents" do Bush's work
for him by making it extremely difficult for an authentic Iraqi
source of order to emerge. Likewise the elections, which,
as universally predicted, have now ratified the country's deadly
Full blown civil war, if it comes to that,
will serve Bush's purpose, too. All the better if Syria and
Iran leap into the fray. In such extremity, America's occupation
of Iraq will be declared legitimate. America's city-smashing tactics,
already displayed in Fallujah, will seem necessary. Further "regime
change" will follow. America's ad hoc Middle East bases, meanwhile,
will have become permanent. Iraq will have become America's client
state in the world's great oil preserve. Bush's disastrous and immoral
war policy will have "succeeded," even though no war will
have been won. The region's war will be eternal, forever justifying
America's presence. Bush's callow hubris will be celebrated as genius.
Congress will give the military machine everything it needs to roll
on to more "elections." These outcomes,
of course, presume the ongoing deaths of tens of thousands more
men, women, and children. And American soldiers.
Something else about that California train wreck strikes me. As
news reports suggested, so many passengers were killed and injured
because the locomotive was pushing the train from behind, which
put the lightweight passenger coaches vulnerably in front. If, instead,
the heavy, track-clearing locomotive had been leading and had hit
the Jeep, it could have pushed the vehicle aside. The jack-knifing
and derailment would not have occurred. The
American war machine is like a train running in "push-mode,"
with the engineer safely back away from danger. In the train wreck
of Iraq, it is passengers who have borne the brunt. The man with
his hand on the throttle couldn't be more securely removed from
the terrible consequences of his locomotion. Thus, Bush is
like the man who caused the wreck, and like the man who was protected
from it. Deranged. Detached. Alive and well in the bubble he calls
"freedom," receiving applause.
Tens of thousands of Iraqis - mainly
Sunni Arabs - may have been denied their right to vote on Sunday
because of insufficient ballots and polling centres, Iraqi officials
Officials began compiling election results from around the country
on Tuesday, but they said many citizens arrived late on
Sunday to find ballot sheets had run out,
possibly skewing results.
If true, the allegation that many voters were turned away could
further alienate Sunnis who already say that they have been left
out of the political process.
Iraq's interim President Ghazi al-Yawir said extra ballots had
to be supplied to Iraq's third city of Mosul, which is mainly Sunni
Arab, after twice running out on election day.
"Also, tens of thousands were unable
to cast their votes because of the lack of ballots in Basra, Baghdad,
and Najaf," said al-Yawir.
Deprived from voting
Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission acknowledged that some
Iraqis were unable to vote because pre-election intimidation in
two Sunni Arab provinces hampered preparations.
"The elections took place under difficult conditions and
this undoubtedly deprived a number of citizens in a number of areas
from voting," said Husain al-Hindawi, who leads the commission
that organised the poll.
"The security situation was difficult in these areas and
there may have been a shortage of materials in this area or that...
Some centres were opened quickly, at the last moment."
Al-Hindawi said the commission was setting up an external committee
made up of three Iraqi lawyers to investigate complaints. Each case
would be explained in a detailed report.
Mishaan Jiburi, a candidate and national assembly member, accused
the commission of deliberately supplying insufficient materials
in some Sunni areas, believing few would vote. "
Arab voters who initially intended to boycott the polls in the
ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk apparently had changed their minds
after realising they would lose to Kurds. But by the time they arrived
to vote, ballot sheets were gone, he said.
"I think the decision came from Baghdad.
They were concerned with keeping Sunnis out of the game,"
Jiburi said ballot sheets were 36,000-40,000 short in Hawija,
a largely Sunni Arab area southwest of oil-rich Kirkuk.
He estimated a shortfall of 28,000 ballot papers in Baiji, a northern
Sunni city, and 6000 in nearby Shirqat.
"I had a large number of voters in these areas. I am sure
we will be in parliament, but if these people had been able to vote
we would have won more seats," Jiburi said.
Of 5244 polling centres planned, 28 did not open, many in western
Baghdad, because of poor security, the commission said.
While there were 63,000 polling booths across Iraq, there were
just 33,763 independent local monitors and 622 international monitors,
Final results are not expected for up to a week. [...]
Two Iraqi policemen and a soldier were ambushed
and killed in two attacks in the city of Baquba, local police said
The two policemen were killed in a drive-by shooting while shopping,
and died instantly. The soldier was killed near a city hospital,
police said of the incidents which occurred on Tueday.
The attacks, about 60km northeast of Baghdad, came as vote counting
continued in Iraq after elections on Sunday. [...]
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - A website statement posted
Tuesday in the name of a previously unknown
militant group promised to carry on its fight against the
Kuwaiti government and the United States despite the arrest of a
Kuwaiti Islamic militant during fierce clashes with Kuwaiti police.
There was no way to verify the authenticity
of the statement, which the group noted was its first. It
referred to Monday's gun battles with Kuwaiti police who raided
suspected militant hideouts in a residential area, arresting a man
authorities say is a Kuwaiti militant ringleader, Amer Khlaif al-Enezi,
and four others. Five suspects and a bystander were killed.
Al-Enezi was referred to in the statement as an important figure,
apparently within the group, which called itself Brigades of Martyr
Abdulaziz al-Moqrin. The statement called him "sheik,"
a title indicating seniority and wisdom. The
authenticity of the statement could not be verified.
"Don't think even the thought that we are finished following
the arrest of Sheik Amer Khlaif al-Enezi, God grant him freedom.
We have only began," the group said, addressing Kuwaiti state
security. "God willing, the raids will include you. You will
regret it, you pigs of Al Sabah (ruling family in Kuwait), you servants
of the Americans."
The statement appealed to Kuwaitis to stay away
from places where "infidel soldiers" congregate. Kuwait
is a close ally of the United States and has been battling Islamic
extremists who oppose the presence of American troops in the country.
"God knows we didn't come to fight you or terrorize you,
but to fight the infidel soldiers who are occupying your land,"
the statement said.
It said any loss of innocent lives would be the responsibility
of the Kuwaiti government for allying itself with the United States
and allowing it military bases in the country. [...]
Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium
Afghanistan has rejected proposals by a senior UN drug official
that aid given to the war-ravaged country should be linked to the
results it showed in fighting opium production.
The newly created Afghan counter-narcotics ministry in Kabul said
on Wednesday it had objected to a recent statement from the world
body that created conditions for investment.
The ministry statement attributed the UN suggestion to Antonio
Maria Costa and said "Afghanistan will not accept aid conditionality".
Costa, a senior official from the UN Organisation for Drugs and
Crime (UNODC), said last week that international aid to Afghanistan
should be made conditional on the country showing real results and
progress in the fight against opium production. [...]
Afghanistan (February 15, 2001)
U.N. drug control officers said the Taliban religious militia
has nearly wiped out opium production in Afghanistan -- once
the world's largest producer -- since banning poppy cultivation
A 12-member team from the U.N. Drug Control Program spent two
weeks searching most of the nation's largest opium-producing areas
and found so few poppies that they do not expect any opium to
come out of Afghanistan this year.
following the installation of the US puppet government under
Prime Minister Hamid Kharzai, opium production soared, regaining
its historic levels. According to the UNDCP, opium cultivation
increased by 657 % in 2002 (in relation to its 2001 level). In
2001, opium cultivation had fallen to an estimated 7606ha. It
is currently estimated by the UNDCP to be of the order of 45 000
ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Turkish police discovered
a bomb in a nightclub near a southern Turkish military base used
by the United States, a U.S. military official said Wednesday. The
semiofficial Turkish news agency said the homemade bomb was defused
"We were advised that a bomb was found off of the base,"
the U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity. "We
are taking protective measures."
Private CNN-Turk television said the bomb, containing 11 pounds
of explosives, was found late Tuesday in a club near the entrance
of Incirlik air base, where some 1,400 U.S. troops are based as
part of a NATO mission. A number of bars and cafes are located in
The semiofficial Anatolia news agency, citing police, said the
homemade bomb was made of fertilizer and was defused by Turkish
police. CNN-Turk said the bomb contained the explosive TNT.
Police were searching for two people in connection with the bomb,
one of them a woman, Anatolia said.
The incident came ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice to Turkey this weekend. Washington wants to expand
its use of the base, which is only an hour's flight from Iraq.
The prime minister of Georgia,
who helped lead the country's revolution in November 2003, died
today after an apparent gas leak at the flat where he was staying.
Zurab Zhvania was at a friend's home when he died. He had gone
to the flat at around midnight (8pm GMT) and security guards broke
into the apartment at some time after 4am when they realised they
could hear no signs of life.
Inside they found Mr Zhvania slumped in a chair, and the body of
his host, Zurab Usupov, the deputy governor of Georgia's Kvemo-Kartli
region, in the kitchen. The guards tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate
Mr Zhvania, according to the country's interior minister, who made
a live broadcast on television.
Vano Merabishvili insisted in the broadcast that there were no
signs of foul play. A gas-powered heating stove was found in the
main room of the apartment, next to a table with a backgammon set
lying open upon it. Central heating is rare in Georgia, and many
people use gas or wood stoves in their homes. "It was an accident,"
Mr Merabishvili said. "We can say that poisoning by gas took
place ... It all happened suddenly."
Mr Zhvania, 41, was part of the opposition to the former Georgian
President Eduard Shevardnadze. He played a prominent role in protests
that ousted the former president after allegedly fraudulent elections
in November 2003. The current president, Mikhail Saakashvili, who
led the protests, appointed Mr Zhvania following his landslide election
in January 2004. The prime minister was considered a moderate counterbalance
to the more impetuous president, and was trying to negotiate settlements
with Georgia's separatist regions. Like President Saakashvili, Mr
Zhvania was a one-time ally of Mr Shevardnadze. The president convened
an emergency cabinet meeting this morning, which began with a moment
of silence. "In Zurab Zhvania, Georgia has lost a great patriot,
who devoted his entire life to serving the motherland. Zurab's death
is a great blow to Georgia and to me personally," he said.
"I lost a very close friend, a reliable adviser and a great
"I want to call on you all to be strong, because there is
no greater responsibility than loyal service to our country and
our people," he said, before leaving the meeting to visit Mr
Zhvania's wife and three children.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram of condolence
to his Georgian counterpart, saying that Mr Zhvania "was well
known in Russia as a supporter of the development of friendly, good-neighbourly
relations between the Russian and Georgian peoples".
MOSCOW. Feb 3 (Interfax) - Georgian
Ambassador to Russia Valery Chechelashvili does not see a "Russian
trail" in the death of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania.
"I do not see any such motives," he told reporters at
a briefing in the Georgian Embassy in Moscow on Thursday.
"I am more than sure that this is an accident and a tragic
set of circumstances," Chechelashvili said commenting on a
statement by a Georgian parliamentary deputy, who said that he saw
"the hand of Moscow" in Zhvania's death.
At the same time, he said that he had not heard the statement word
Georgian authorities say Prime
Minister Zurab Zhvania died of carbon monoxide poisoning and are
treating the case as an accident. Zhvania and a friend, Raul Yusupov,
were found dead early this morning in Yusupov's Tbilisi apartment.
Rights groups are already questioning the official version and demanding
an independent investigation.
Prague, 3 February 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Interior Minister Ivane (Vano)
Merabishvili, who first broke the news of Zhvania's death, identified
Yusupov as the deputy governor of Georgia's predominantly ethnic
Azeri eastern region of Kvemo Kartli.
Regional officials, however, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service
that Yusupov was working as a junior government official and that
he was expected to be appointed deputy governor sometime soon. Reports
say Yusupov was a long-time political ally of Zhvania, who brought
him into government after the change in political leadership that
followed President Eduard Shevardnadze's resignation in November
Addressing reporters at a press conference today, Merabishvili
said both men were found dead by state security officers in the
middle of the night. "According to our information, Mr. Zhvania
arrived at his friend's apartment at about midnight. His security
team waited outside for a long time. Since the prime minister was
not answering either their telephone calls or the door bell at around
4 or 4:30 a.m., they broke a window
and discovered the bodies of Mr. Zhvania and his friend in the apartment.,"
Merabishvili said. [...]
Government officials quickly dismissed suspicions that Zhvania's
death could have been anything but accidental. They also denied
any possible link with the bomb attack that
left three policemen dead in the central city of Gori on
But some are already questioning the official version. Nana Kakabadze,
chairwoman of an NGO known as Former Political Prisoners for Human
Rights, told RFE/RL that her group and other NGOs are demanding
that a commission made up of journalists, independent legal and
medical experts, and others be set up to supervise the official
investigation into Zhvania's death.
"We believe that what happened tonight is so important that
the people should know the truth," she said. "[They should
know] who stands behind [Zhvania's death]. Therefore, we think it
is important to us to participate in that [commission]."
Zakaria Kutsnashvili, a former member of the Georgian parliament
who now works as an independent legal expert, told RFE/RL that he
also supports an independent investigation. "We believe the
investigation should be conducted in a very transparent manner so
that everyone should know whether this was an accident, a murder,
or a suicide," he said. "Since we can rule out suicide,
the investigation must concentrate its efforts so that the second
version -- murder -- is definitely ruled out."
Kakabadze said the official version of Zhvania's death was not
convincing. "We have some doubts," she said. "For
example, Interior Minister Merabishvili said [Zhvania's] bodyguards
broke a window [to enter the apartment.] But when journalists went
there to inspect the building, they didn't notice anything unusual
and saw that all windows were in place." [...]
A car exploded outside a police station in
Georgia, killing at least three people, an interior ministry spokesman
He said the blast had almost totally destroyed the police headquarters
in the town of Gori, 80km to the west of the capital Tbilisi.
"According to preliminary information, this was a terrorist
act," said spokesman Guran Donadze.
About 10 people had been injured in the blast and several cars
had been gutted. [...]
Prague, (RFE/RL) -- Ukrainian lawmaker Hryhoriy
Omelchenko has alleged in a public letter to President Viktor Yushchenko
that Ukraine illegally sold cruise missiles to Iran in violation
of international nonproliferation treaties.
The allegations are not new. RFE/RL
Ukraine analyst Roman Kupchinsky, who is currently in Kyiv, says
the investigation began last year.
"The criminal investigation began last year before the [presidential]
election. The investigation was begun by the security service of
Ukraine, the SBU, and in October, last year, the first indictments
were handed out against high-ranking officials of UkrSpetzExport,
the Ukrainian state arms [sales] company," Kupchinsky says.
"Kupchinsky says that more indictments are likely to come.
Omelchenko is an ally of President Viktor
However, other experts say it will be difficult to find evidence
against those persons who may have been involved in the alleged
arms exports to Iran in 2002.
Oleksandr Sushko is director of the Center for Peace, Conversion,
and Foreign Policy, a Kyiv-based think tank. He
says it is difficult to believe that Ukraine sold cruise missiles
to Iran and managed to hide such an illegal deal for several years.
"I doubt it very much, very much indeed. It is not the kind
of weapon that can be sold secretly without somebody knowing about
it," Sushko says. [...]
Leonid Palyakov, a military expert at the Kyiv-based Ukrainian
Center for Economic and Political Studies, also known as the Oleksandr
Razumkov Center, agrees that the investigation of reported arms
deals will be extremely difficult. He says that it is premature
to say that Ukraine has sold weapons to Iran.
"An investigation should be carried out and only after the
investigation is it possible to say happened and what did not. Without
an investigation -- or trying to be too quick to judge -- we will
find ourselves in the same situation we were during almost all of
the years of independence, when the mass media
kept publishing different stories, making accusations and reports
which, up to now, have not even been confirmed once,"
However, Palyakov says the scandal gives him fresh hope. He says
he hopes that the new administration will investigate the accusations
of arms sale to Iran and will give a definite verdict, not just
leave it uninvestigated and forgotten by both the press and society.
Meanwhile, RFE/RL analyst Kupchinsky, who interwieved Omelchenko,
says that the facts in Omelchenko's letter seem somewhat credible
at the moment.
"It's a very credible report, which
names dates, names, the bank accounts, fictitious shell companies
that were set up to extradite the transfer of money from Iran. Plus
there's collaborating evidence to this whole affair,"
Neither Iranian officials or representatives of the Ukrainian
state arms sales company, UkrSpetzExport, were available to comment.
An investigation by the Ukrainian secret police
has found that Iran and China bought long-range missiles
designed to carry nuclear warheads from Ukraine, one of the
country's politicians said on Wednesday.
Grigory Omelchenko, an ally of the country's
new leadership and a former head of the anti-mafia committee
in the Ukrainian parliament, claimed on Wednesday that Ukraine's
SBU secret police had found that 12 Kh-55s were illegally exported
in 1999-2001. He said six of the air-to-ground
cruise missiles were sold to Iran, and six to China.
The Kh-55 - which the US calls the AS-15 - has a highly accurate
guidance system and a range of up to 3,000km, which
would put Israel in striking distance of Iran. The missile
was part of the Soviet bomber fleet weaponry left behind in Ukraine.
The allegations, made in Ukraine's parliament
yesterday, bolster claims by the US and other governments that Iran
is seeking to develop the ability to produce nuclear weapons.
They also raise concerns about Iran and China's efforts to improve
long-range missile technology.
Mr Omelchenko, a one-time SBU officer, said that last year the
SBU prevented an attempt to export 14 Kh-55s and arrested a former
SBU officer, who is being tried in Kiev's Regional Appeals Court.
He accused high-ranking officials linked to Leonid Kuchma, the
former president, of covering up the SBU's findings about the sale
to protect a "highly placed person from the circle of President
Kuchma, who was involved in the illegal arms sales".
Last November, Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, said
he had seen intelligence that Iran was working to adapt missiles
to deliver a nuclear weapon.
In September the US slapped sanctions on a private Ukrainian company
for violating a US ban on proliferation to Iran, without specifying
what it was suspected of selling.
The Israeli government
approached the United States in August 1985 with a proposal to act
as an intermediary by shipping 508 American-made TOW anti-tank missiles
to Iran in exchange for the release of the Reverend Benjamin
Weir, an American hostage being held by Iranian sympathizers in
Lebanon, with the understanding that the United States would then
ship replacement missiles to Israel. Robert McFarlane, the Assistant
to the President for National Security Affairs, approached United
States Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and arranged the details.
The transfer took place over the next two months.
In November, there was another round of negotiations, where the
Israelis proposed to ship Iran 500 HAWK anti-aircraft missiles in
exchange for the release of all remaining American hostages being
held in Lebanon. General Colin Powell
attempted to procure the missiles, but realized that the deal would
require Congressional notification as its overall value exceeded
$14 million. McFarlane responded that the President had decided
to conduct the sale anyway. Israel
sent an initial shipment of 18 missiles to Iran in late November,
but the Iranians didn't approve of the missiles, and further
shipments were halted. Negotiations continued with the Israelis
and Iranians over the next few months.
In January of 1986, Reagan allegedly approved a plan whereby an
American intermediary, rather than Israel, would sell arms to Iran
in exchange for the release of the hostages, with profits funnelled
to the Contras. At first, the Iranians had refused the weapons from
Ghorbanifar, the Iranian intermediary, when both North and Ghorbanifar
created a 370% markup (WALSH, Lawrence E. "Firewall").
Another intermediary was used to sell 500
TOW missiles. With the marked-up income of $10 million from
the $3.7 million before, and the Iranians capturing new hostages
when they released old ones, was the end of the arms-for-hostages
deal. In February, 1,000 TOW missiles were
shipped to Iran. From May to November, there were additional
shipments of miscellaneous weapons and parts.
WASHINGTON - Scientific tests have led American
intelligence agencies and government scientists to conclude with
near certainty that North Korea sold processed uranium to Libya,
bolstering earlier indications that the reclusive state had exported
sensitive fuel for atomic weapons, according to officials with access
to the intelligence.
The determination, which has circulated among senior government
officials in recent weeks, has touched off a hunt to
determine if North Korea has also sold uranium to other nations,
including Iran and Syria. So far, there
is no evidence such additional transactions took place.
Nonetheless, the conclusion about the uranium transfer to Libya,
which is contained in a classified briefing that has been described
to The New York Times, could alter Washington's debate about the
assessment of the North Korea nuclear threat.
In the past, some Bush administration officials have argued that
there is time to find a diplomatic solution to the North Korean
nuclear problem because there was no evidence that the government
of Kim Jung Il was spreading its atomic technology abroad.
Nine months ago, international inspectors came up with the first
evidence that the North may have provided Libya with nearly two
tons of uranium hexaflouride, the material that can be fed into
nuclear centrifuges and enriched into bomb fuel. Libya surrendered
its huge cask of the highly toxic material to the United States
when it dismantled its nuclear program last year.
Intelligence officials say extensive testing at the Oak Ridge
National Laboratory over the past several months concluded that
the material did not originate in Pakistan or other suspect countries,
and one official said that "with a certainty
of 90 percent or better, this stuff's from North Korea.''
It is unclear if there are any dissenting views within the government,
though some outside experts have accused the administration of overstating
intelligence on North Korean.
Officials cautioned that the analysis of the uranium was hampered
because the United States has no sample of known North Korean uranium
for direct comparison with the material recovered in Libya. The
study was done by eliminating other possible sources of uranium,
a result that is less certain than the nuclear equivalent of matching
One recently retired Pentagon official who has long experience
dealing with North Korea said that the finding was "huge, because
it changes the whole equation with the North.''
"It suggests we don't have time to sit around and wait for
the outcome of negotiations,'' the officer said. "It's a scary
conclusion because you don't know who else they may have sold to.''
President Bush is expected to mention North Korea in his State
of the Union address on Wednesday night. In that speech three years
ago, he identified the country as part of an "axis of evil,''
with Iran and Iraq. Two weeks ago, Condoleezza
Rice, in her confirmation hearings for secretary of state, included
North Korea in a list of six nations she called "outposts of
tyranny,'' but a senior administration official said Bush
was not planning to use that phrase on Wednesday evening.
On Tuesday, in an interview with Reuters and Agence France-Presse,
Rice said of North Korea, "We made a very good proposal at
the last round of six-party talks and it's on the table for the
"The idea that somehow the United States is hostilely going
to attack North Korea couldn't be more far fetched,'' she said.
A spokesman for the National Security Council, Frederick Jones,
declined to comment Tuesday night on the report of the new North
Korea findings, citing "intelligence concerns.''
Questions of how to deal with North Korea - through engagement
and dialogue or sanctions and pressure to crack its ruling regime
- have divided the Bush administration since its first days. Vice
President Dick Cheney has led the hawkish faction of the administration,
declaring that "time is not on our side.'' While some of the
officials interviewed about the most recent North Korean evidence
have been involved in that policy debate, others have not been,
and have either examined the scientific evidence or received intelligence
briefings about its conclusions.
Some of those findings have been shared with some American allies
and with the Chinese, who have long doubted that North Korea has
an active uranium program.
There is also some skepticism in the United States: Selig Harrison,
a North Korea scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center
in Washington, has questioned the evidence that North Korea is secretly
pursuing uranium weapons to complement the small arsenal it is believed
to have produced out of plutonium. He wrote
in Foreign Affairs recently that the Bush administration has relied
"on sketchy data'' and "a worst case assessment'' of the
The government's most recent intelligence reports, however, strongly
suggest that North Korea has begun turning raw uranium - which the
country mines - into uranium hexaflouride, a modestly complex process.
"This pushes along our understanding of the North Korean program,''
said Leonard S. Specter, the deputy director of the Monterrey Institute's
Center for Non-Proliferation Studies. "It means the North Koreans
have built a facility to process uranium. And it raises the disturbing
prospect that they've now made enough of it to feel comfortable
Western intelligence officials have known for years that North
Korea has supplied conventional missiles and missile technology
to other countries, including Iran and Pakistan, but while officials
searched for years for evidence of North Korea export of nuclear
material, they found none until recently.
Nuclear intelligence experts said the new clues that implicate
North Korea as Libya's supplier involve the fingerprints of uranium
isotopes, or different forms of the element. Federal analysts, they
said, took samples of the Libyan uranium and compared its isotope
fingerprint to those of uranium samples from other countries and,
by process of elimination, concluded that the uranium came from
North Korea. Uranium has three main isotopes. The most prevalent
is U-238, which accounts for the vast majority of natural uranium.
The U-235 isotope is rare, but it is prized because it easily splits
to produce the bursts of atomic energy that power reactors and nuclear
To trace the origins of the Libyan uranium, the government sleuths
focused on an even rarer isotope, U-234. They did so because it
turns out that concentrations of that isotope vary widely among
uranium deposits and mines around the world.
"The science is pretty clear,'' said a senior federal intelligence
official with knowledge of the secret North Korean finding.
He noted that the open scientific literature makes references
to U-234's variability. For instance, Russian scientists described
U-234 fluctuations in the April 2002 issue of Atomic Energy, a journal
published by Springer Verlag, which is based in New York City. The
scientists looked at U-234 in uranium mined from 20 deposits in
Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Czechoslovakia, and Germany.
The U-234 content "fluctuates over a wide range,'' the Russian
A nuclear scientist who consults for federal intelligence agencies
but was unaware of the North Korean finding said analysts could
use such U-234 information to track down the origin of a particular
uranium sample, much as detectives identify fingerprints from a
crime scene by matching them to samples in fingerprint archives.
He said the analysts could examine the U-234 concentrations in
the Libyan sample and compare it to samples from deposits from around
the world. Since western intelligence agencies have no known samples
of North Korean uranium, he added, the analysis would proceed by
the process of elimination.
Therefore, the strength of the North Korean conclusion would grow
in proportion to the number of samples the scientists had from around
the world. It is unknown how many samples exist from various uranium
deposits or how many samples the federal analysts scrutinized for
signs of similarity.
A second nuclear scientist who consults for the federal government
on North Korea said he suspected that Pakistani
scientists had helped the North Koreans not only make uranium centrifuges
but build a plant that transformed the raw uranium from the country's
mines into uranium hexafluoride, the form of uranium that
centrifuges can enrich.
"I don't think the DPRK did it by itself,'' he said of the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea's making the uranium plant.
Another former official suggested that the
components for the plant may have been purchased elsewhere, perhaps
from Japan or Europe.
A group of hardline officials known as “nuclear
hawks” is being promoted in a shake-up of the Bush administration's
arms control and non-proliferation teams, according to officials
close to the administration.
The latest appointment, announced by President George W. Bush
on Monday, saw Jack Crouch, the ambassador to Romania, become deputy
national security adviser. Mr Crouch, who served in the Pentagon
from 2001 to 2003 as assistant secretary of defence for international
security policy, has a long background in
arms control. In his Senate confirmation
hearing in 2001 he was questioned on his support for US testing
of nuclear weapons, his 1995 recommendation for destruction of North
Korea's nuclear complexes in the absence of a satisfactory agreement,
and the mistake he said was made by George H.W. Bush when president
in withdrawing US nuclear weapons from South Korea.
Also entering the National Security Council is John Rood, a senior
Pentagon official who replaces Bob Joseph as special adviser. Mr
Joseph is expected to move to the State Department to replace John
Bolton, undersecretary for arms control.
Mr Bolton had the reputation for being the
hawk of hawks in the Bush administration, but one adviser,
who asked not to be named, said European governments were naive
to believe that his resignation signalled a moderate approach. The
promoted officials, he said, had less regard for arms controls and
more commitment to building new generations of nuclear weapons and
missile defence systems.
Note to the humorless: Satire
M E M O
From: Karl Rove
Re: State of the Union and the Middle East
Problem: The big steps toward open parliamentary elections in the
Arab world have happened in Morocco, Jordan, Yemen and Bahrain.
We didn't have much to do with this. And they were actually way
more democratic and less problematic elections than the ones we
just pulled off in Iraq. What was that? I hear they didn't know
the names of the candidates! (I kind of like it. Imagine how much
easier it would have been to sell a Republican president in 2000
if we hadn't had to say who he was. No offense.)
Solution: You could mention Morocco, Jordan and Bahrain with some
sort of heavy hint that we were behind it all. Taking credit for
local developments that we paint as positive is cost-free. It is
not as if Abdullah II is exactly going to complain. And we won't
mention about how they still have that secret police.
Problem: We depend heavily on the Saudis, who run an absolute monarchy,
and on General Musharraf in Pakistan, who refuses to take off his
uniform even though he insists he's a president, now. Some people
might think that's out of line with our
"democratization" policy. I have to remind you again,
W., that policy is only for the regimes we don't like. The others
can stay like they are. The scare quotes are there for a reason.
Solution: Praise them for arresting al-Qaeda operatives. It has
the advantage of being true. Hell, the Pakistanis have arrested
far more of those guys, with FBI help, than Rumsfeld ever did. The
Saudis only got down to business when al-Qaeda started trying to
kill the princes, but better late than never.
Problem: We really want to take out the mullas in Iran. But we
don't have anything on them. They were cooperative in Afghanistan
and Iraq. They haven't done anything to us for years. They haven't
been involved in terrorism for years, either. The Hezbollah thing
in southern Lebanon was mostly just a struggle to get the Israelis
back off Lebanese territory. We don't have any proof they have a
nuclear weapons program.
Solution: This one is easy. We've already proved with Iraq that
you can just hint around or lie about a regime that the public doesn't
like, and there are no bad consequences. So just tell them that
Iran is the major sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East and that
the Iranians are all busy concocting nukes in their basements with
their cuisinarts. Nobody will ask "what terrorism, exactly?"
or "what proof do you have about a weapons program?" No
one will even bring up our own reliance on the terrorist group,
Mojahedin-e Khalq, which was hand in glove with Saddam and has killed
hundreds of innocents with bombs. MEK is giving us excellent reports
on the Iranian nukes. We haven't had a source this good since Ahmad
Chalabi. If we don't mention them, nobody else will.
Problem: During the past few years, Sharon gratuitously destroyed
a lot of police stations and other security infrastructure in the
Occupied territories and now we're going to have to pick up the
bill for them. It's like having a hyperactive five-year-old in a
crystal shop, and we're liable for everything he breaks. You'd think
the Israelis, who have a per capita income of $17,000 a year, could
pay for their own sprees of destruction.
Solution: Tell the American public that we are giving $350 million
to the Palestinians for democratization and to help out that nice
Mahmoud Abbas. Isn't he an Abu Something, too? Forget it, they're
all Abus. It will confuse the public if you bring it up. Anyway,
we won't mention we're cleaning up Sharon's mess, and nobody else
Oh, and remind them about that crisis in Social Security. I'm working
on inventing some other crises. I love it. Tell them there's a crisis
and they'd let you sell their grandchildren into slavery. A crisis
in social security. That's rich. Wait till I tell you about the
Oh, and W. Try to give them the impression you've done something
about those CEO cronies of yours that stole the public's investments
and retirement accounts to the tune of billions. Everyone knows
we put Martha away. Tell her again I'm sorry about that when you
talk to her in April. But it was either someone high profile like
her or Ken Lay, and Ken plays too good a game of golf to let him
disappear for years behind bars.
| It is been bombed, banned and lambasted.
It is been accused of aiding terrorists and serving as a mouthpiece
for Osama Bin Laden as well as Saddam Hussain.
It boasts huge audiences throughout the Arab world because it reflects
public opinion and yet advertisers treat it like the plague, fearful
of offending the governments it regularly attacks.
I'm referring, of course, to Al Jazeera, the satellite television
station that put tiny Qatar firmly on the international map.
In a region where until recently censorship was rife, Al Jazeera's
programming was revolutionary.
Even as terrestrial networks were feeding their viewers a steady
diet of Egyptian soaps, flickering black and white movies and endless
scenes of visiting official dignitaries shaking hands, Al Jazeera
startled audiences with heated political debate and in-depth documentaries.
Its telephone lines red hot with the voices of impassioned callers,
it has been likened to a loose valve on a pressure cooker providing
an outlet for viewers to blow off steam.
Launched in 1996 under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Hamad
Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, Al Jazeera has become a
victim of its own popularity, enraging the American government due
to the influence it wields.
The United States has accused it of fomenting anti-Americanism
and slammed the station for showing graphic horrors of war. It is
no secret that the Bush administration would like it to disappear.
It had hoped its own Al Hurra satellite channel broadcasting out
of the United States would take Al Jazeera's place in the affections
of Arabs but that creation is viewed with scepticism as an American
According to an article in last Sunday's New York Times, it looks
as though Qatar may bow to American pressure.
Al Jazeera may be up for sale, although buyers may be few and far
between, considering it is still a loss-making enterprise, requiring
an annual financial injection of more than $50 million (Dh183.5
To turn it around financially, a buyer would be obliged to pull
its teeth, which would incense its team of professional journalists,
many of whom formerly worked for the BBC.
The day that Al Jazeera is closed down or sold off will be a sad
In the way that Rupert Murdoch's "fair and balanced"
Fox News reflects the views of conservative right-wingers portraying
American soldiers in Iraq as cuddly do-gooders, Al Jazeera doesn't
shrink from showing the results of their handiwork.
Banned from reporting
This is why it has been banned from reporting in Iraq. Faithful
footage of dead babies and maimed children do little to enhance
America's image. At the same time, Fox along with its jingoistic
gung-ho Saudi-bashing presenters have been shut out of Canada.
When it comes to Al Jazeera the Bush administration's hypocrisy
is glaring. After the network showed captured Marines during the
invasion of Iraq, Pentagon officials, including General John Abizaid,
rounded on one of its reporters for breaching the Geneva Conventions.
Yet the United States had no compunction in publicly parading the
corpses of Saddam's sons or showing the former dictator having his
head checked for lice.
Isn't it the height of hypocrisy, too, for a nation, which lauds
democracy as the Holy Grail to strong-arm Qatar into abandoning
a forthright, editorially independent broadcaster? Free speech and
an unfettered media are integral elements of any democracy.
Adding salt to the charge are the American government's media payola
activities. Last Friday, it was forced to admit that it had paid
a third conservative columnist to parrot the party line, while hinting
there may be more.
An outraged Congress has launched its own enquiry. Senators Edward
Kennedy and Frank Lautenberg plan to introduce a bill titled "The
Stop Government Propaganda Act" to the Senate this week.
"It is time for Congress to shut down the administration's
propaganda mill," said Lautenberg. "It has no place in
the United States government."
There is no such indignation over propaganda exported to the Middle
East, though, via Hurra and Radio Sawa. Attempts to brainwash Arabs
concerning the benign intentions of Israel and the United States
are fine and dandy, it seems.
Signs indicate that Al Jazeera, shocked by the bombing of its offices
in Kabul and Baghdad, as well as the arrest of its senior reporter
Tayseer Allouni in Spain for alleged terrorist links, has already
toned down the rhetoric.
The journalist John R. Bradley, in an article titled "Will
Al Jazeera bend?" reports how the station's website pulled
"two cartoons deemed inflammatory" on the same day a US
official called to complain.
Bradley also cites a British minister, who after being interviewed
on the network "thought he detected a more balanced tone emerging".
It is thought that Al Jazeera sacked Yvonne Ridley the British
journalist and Muslim convert imprisoned by the Taliban during a
daring excursion into Afghanistan due to her strident pro-Iraq,
While in charge of the station's popular English-language website,
Ridley wrote stories of US soldiers tying up women and children
during house-to-house searches and was warned not to publish pictures
of a seven-year-old girl in plastic hand restraints.
Her sacking evoked the ire of not only Muslim groups but also left-wing
British politicians and activists.
Some of the time
In other words, Al Jazeera can only please some of the people some
of the time. Hate it or love it, advocates of democracy and freedom
should ensure its continued existence. Whether one agrees with it
or not, its right to broadcast should be defended. Else what is
the message here?
Whatever his ultimate decision, Shaikh Hamad should be proud of
his creation. Al Jazeera is on everyone's lips from Los Angeles
to Lahore and its 50 million viewers put it streets ahead of its
Qatar has already bent over backwards to be amenable to America
and its war on terror. How ironic would it be if Qatar fell victim
to US intimidation, another terror of sorts?
Ahmad Shaikh, Al Jazeera's news editor, said: "We understand
that Americans are not happy with our editorial policies, but if
anyone wants us to become their mouthpiece, we will not do that.
We are independent and impartial, and we have never come under any
pressure from the Qatari government to change our editorial approach."
Could The New York Times or the Washington Post, which both said
their mea culpas vis-à-vis their pathetic coverage of the
invasion of Iraq and their burial of anti-war points of view, say
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs.
She can be contacted at email@example.com
| BEIJING, Feb. 3 -- Russia and China
will hold regular security consultations, President Vladimir Putin
and visiting Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan announced Wednesday,
moving to further strengthen close military cooperation between the
Tang Jiaxuan told Putin that Beijing does not have such a consultation
mechanism with any other country. He called Russia China's "main
partner for strategic cooperation."
"This is the first time ever that China is establishing a
mechanism of national security consultations with another country,"
said Tang, who said he had discussed details of the initiative with
Russian Security Council secretary Igor Ivanov earlier in the day.
"We decided to establish such a mechanism with Russia because
we have close positions regarding the international situation, key
international and regional issues, as well as issues related to
maintaining peace and helping global development," Tang said.
"We have common strategic interests related to those issues."
Putin hailed an increasingly close cooperation between the two
countries, saying that "relations in the political, economic
and security sphere and in the field of military cooperation have
been developing intensively."
Putin said that Moscow is looking forward to a joint Russian-Chinese
military exercise set for later this year.
The maneuvers, set to begin in August, were seen by many observers
as Russia's response to the cooling of relations with the United
States and other Western nations, most recently over the presidential
election in Ukraine.
Gen. Vladimir Mikhailov, Russia's air force chief, said last month
that Tu-22M and Tu-95 bombers will take part in the exercises.
Moscow and Beijing have developed what they call a strategic partnership
since the 1991 Soviet collapse, pledging their adherence to a "multipolar
world," a term that refers to their opposition to a perceived
U.S. domination in global affairs.
BOSTON - Nearly half of all personal bankruptcies
in the United States are triggered by big medical bills racked up
because of serious illnesses or accidents, a Harvard University
The study, published Wednesday in the online journal Health Affairs,
looked at 1,771 people who had declared personal bankruptcy to seek
court protection from creditors in five American states in 2001.
Researchers from Harvard's law and medical schools later talked
to 931 of them. They determined that illness or medical bills were
either the main cause or a contributing factor in 46.2 per cent
of the bankruptcies.
"Even middle-class insured families often fall prey to financial
catastrophe when sick," an abstract of the study noted.
More than 43 million people in the United States have no health
But even people who had health insurance through their employer
were among those forced to declare bankruptcy in an effort to escape
overwhelming debts that they could not pay, the study found.
About 75 per cent of those who said medical bills triggered their
bankruptcy had insurance coverage at the beginning of their illness.
In 38 per cent of the cases studied, that insurance lapsed while
they were still being treated, or covered only catastrophic illnesses
and not more minor but ongoing conditions.
Among the people whose medical bills contributed to their bankruptcy,
the study said, "out-of-pocket costs average[d] $11,854 [US]
since the start of illness."
The study's authors said that when the national numbers were crunched,
and the dependents of the filers were included, between 1.9 million
and 2.2 million Americans experienced "medical bankruptcy"
in 2001. That figure includes 700,000 children.
Australia's eastern states have been battered
by extreme weather conditions this week.
Heavy rain, lightning, strong winds and hail hit Sydney yesterday
afternoon for the second day running.
Sydney emergency workers had to rescue three people trapped
in cars in rising floodwaters in Bexley North and almost 100,000
homes and businesses were left without power.
The winds of more than 90kph brought down trees and power lines
and tore roofs off buildings, while the downpour flooded roads.
The SES received about 1,350 calls for help while the Ambulance
Service responded to almost 170 triple-0 calls.
Further north, towers of red dust swept through western
Queensland and northern New South Wales forcing the closure of 20
regional airports in Queensland.
Longreach Mayor Pat Tanks described the dust
storm as the worst seen in a decade.
At the same time, Melbourne recorded its coldest
February day on record with 13.5 degrees. It also had the heaviest
February rainfall in over a decade.
Strong winds hit northern Tasmania last night, ripping roofs
from buildings in Launceston and downing trees and powerlines,
Tasmania Police said.
The extreme conditions were all caused by the same thing, according
to the Bureau of Meteorology.
"It's all associated with the same general system,"
said Andrew Haigh, a severe weather forecaster with the bureau.
"You've got a very strong cold front and a low-pressure system
combining. There's very cold air in the upper atmosphere over southern
NSW and Victoria."
The storms that struck Sydney today had preceded a cold front
which extended into Queensland and had been moving east, bringing
strong winds and rain, Mr Haigh said.
The State Emergency Service (SES) received
more than 2,500 calls for help overnight as heavy rain and winds
flooded houses and brought down trees, with further calls expected
as the wild weather continues today.
"It has certainly been a very busy night with every suburb
of Melbourne, parts of eastern Victoria, and the Geelong/Bellarine
Peninsula areas being affected," SES spokesman Peter Cocks
"This is shaping as one of our busiest storm operations
ever as the rain and wind continues to lash Melbourne.
"The number of calls has stretched resources to the limit
and I ask people to be patient as many volunteers have been on the
go all night."
More than 50 SES teams from all 31 Melbourne metropolitan SES
units worked overnight, supported by Metropolitan Fire Brigade and
Country Fire Authority crews, Mr Cocks said.
Mr Cocks said flash flooding was widespread and warned motorists
to take care.
"The extreme weather is expected to continue over the next
few hours and the SES expects to receive a further increase in calls
as people awaken to find storm damage not yet detected," Mr
THE road into Melbourne Airport has been flooded
and flights have been diverted after wild storms lashed Melbourne.
Traffic banked up on the Tullamarine Freeway today because of
the flooding, and frustrated travellers were forced to sit in their
cars as their flights took off without them.
Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Brooke Lord said the two lanes that
ran into the airport from the Tullamarine Freeway were flooded by
the heaviest rainfall on record and access to the airport had been
"The rains have actually flooded the entrance to the airport
which was completely closed with traffic banked up," she said.
LARGE areas of Western Australia's north-west
are suffering severe heat, in contrast to the unseasonal storms
and hail affecting the nation's eastern seaboard.
Searing temperatures in the north west have dominated weather
news in recent weeks, with centres such as Nyang Station and Marble
Bar averaging 44.8C and 44.6C respectively throughout the month
of January – an all-time record.
Perth averaged a comparatively mild 30C during the first month
of the year.
However, the city's 1.4 million residents are expected to swelter
in the next 48 hours with the mercury tipped to reach 38C today
and 37C tomorrow.
The weather bureau reported today serious to severe rainfall deficiencies
in the interior and north of WA, with large regions experiencing
its driest July-January period on record.
The south-west tip of WA is also in drought, with the bureau noting
serious rainfall deficiencies after a dry winter.
SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands
-- A magnitude 6.3 earthquake jolted the Northern Marianas and Guam
on Wednesday, but seismologists assured terrified residents that
the quake wouldn't generate a tsunami.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage on
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which is located in Hawaii,
did not issue a tsunami warning. Despite assurances from local and
federal agencies, many terrified residents ran out of buildings
and looked out to sea for any sign of a tidal wave.
Rudolfo Pua, head of the emergency management office in the Northern
Marianas, said the threshold for issuing a tsunami watch or alert
is a magnitude 7.0 quake.
The epicenter of the quake was located about 35 miles west of Rota
and 45 miles north of Hagatna, Guam.
Also Wednesday, volcanic haze and ash from Anatahan volcano in
the Northern Marianas were continuing to cause respiratory problems
for some residents. More than 120 students stayed home from school
and at least a dozen people have been treated at hospitals for asthma-related
problems in the last two days.
Anatahan, located about 75 miles north of Saipan, began its third
recorded eruption in early January. The U.S. Geological Survey said
several violent explosions are occurring per minute and ash is spewing
up to 15,000 feet.
The smoke and ash, which were previously confined to Saipan and
Tinian, has reached Rota and Guam in recent days due to the winds.
Pua said the quake was likely not a result of the eruption at the
A moderate earthquake today shook
the area near Turkey’s border with Iran, seismologists said.
There were no immediate reports of any damage or injuries.
The magnitude 4.3 quake in Hakkari province followed a string of
moderate earthquakes last week in the province that killed two people
and damaged buildings in the area. Several aftershocks were also
CNN-Turk television said residents rushed outside following the
temblor, but that there was no indication of any damage or injuries.
Quakes are frequent in Turkey, much of which lies atop the active
North Anatolian fault.
Two devastating earthquakes killed about 18,000 people in north-western
Turkey in 1999.
More than 500 aftershocks have
now struck the Indian Ocean area where a giant earthquake hit on
Data from the U.S. National Earthquake Information Center, which
is continually updated, now show 516 signficant aftershocks have
hit the area, consisting of the northern tip of the large Indonesian
island of Sumatra, and the Nicobar and Andaman islands to the northwest,
which are the territory of India.
Four moderate quakes joined the list Wednesday, ranging from magnitude
4.7 to magnitude 5.1. The original event registered magnitude 9.0
on the Richter scale, making it the world's largest earthquake in
40 years, one that generated a series of tsunamis around the Indian
Ocean basin, powerful waves that killed about 250,000 people.
DEVORE An earthquake, magnitude
3.2 and centered near Devore shook parts of the county late Wednesday.
United States Geological Survey seismology equipment registered
the small tremor at 8:52p.m.
The epicenter was determined to be 4miles southwest of Devore,
4miles north of Fontana, 5miles northwest of Rialto and 8miles northwest
of San Bernardino.
No damage or injuries were reported.
WHIDBEY ISLAND — A 3.0
magnitude earthquake shook the north Puget Sound area early today,
jolting many Whidbey Island residents awake but causing no major
damage or injuries so far.
IQALUIT - A group of European scientists is
predicting a potential record loss of ozone over the Arctic this
Temperatures in the stratosphere in the last two months have been
much colder than usual, and Cambridge University chemist Neil Harris
says that's creating clouds in the upper atmosphere that contribute
to ozone depletion.
Harris says if those low temperatures continue until spring it
could lead to the biggest loss of ozone in more than 50 years.
"That's the big 'if' here," he says. "But if it
stays cold – and there's no sign of it warming up in our 10
day forecasts – then these large losses are very likely to
happen. At particular altitudes it would be 50, 60, 70 per cent,
and in the total column, 25 to 30 per cent."
Harris says the greatest loss in ozone would be above the 65th
A thinner ozone layer leads to more ultraviolet radiation reaching
the Earth, which has been linked to a rise in some types of skin
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