the 9/11 Truth Movement
Canary in The Mine
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
A Cookeville (Tenn.) High School administrator
said Veterans for Peace and a Quaker group can't come back into
his school with materials considered ''anti-American'' and ''anti-military.''
The groups plan to go before the Putnam County school board tomorrow
with claims that they're being denied privileges afforded to other
organizations, including military recruiters.
The war veterans, some who also belong to the Quaker group, were
allowed into the school during a September fair for organizations.
They set up a table with books about U.S. wars and offered photocopied
fliers and pamphlets from both organizations about the war in Iraq
and military careers and alternatives.
Quaker and veteran Hector Black said several students stopped by
the table and asked questions, and a couple of teachers even thanked
them for coming.
He said there wasn't any indication of a problem until later that
evening, when he got a phone call from Principal Wayne Shank.
Shank told Black that some of the groups' materials
may be proper for adults, but he thought they were inappropriate
for the students.
''The information was brought to the attention of administrators
because of the influence it may have had,'' said Shank, who restricted
future visits by the groups. ''I felt, from a principal's viewpoint,
that the students were being put into a position that they shouldn't.''
Black said Shank specified some quotes in the
literature that he objected to, including one from a 1953 speech
by President Eisenhower that said, ''Every gun that is made, every
warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense,
a theft from those who hunger and are not fed. Those who are cold
and are not clothed.''
Another quote from an unknown author said, ''The
Army that can defeat terrorism doesn't drive Humvees, or call in
airstrikes. ... It undermines military dictatorship and military
lobbyists. It subverts sweatshops and special interests.''
County School Director Michael Martin said, ''Parents
found the materials to be anti-American, anti-military. That didn't
come from us. That came from the parents who saw the materials when
their kids brought it home.''
Shank said in a phone interview from Cookeville that he couldn't
recall everything he found offensive. He said he received a complaint
call from a parent a day after the
event and made an administrative decision to ban their ''offensive
Shank said he didn't tell the groups that they couldn't come back
into the school.
He required that all their materials get advance approval, a rule
he said also applies to military recruiters.
The principal also said their literature could
be shown only in a classroom setting that would allow an opportunity
for a ''balanced'' presentation. Military recruiters and other groups
don't face that restriction, the peace activists said.
Veteran Charlie Osburn said his group doesn't understand why military
recruiters and others such as the Association of Christian Athletes
are allowed into Cookeville High School without the same restrictions.
His group aims to inform students, he said.
DENVER - Academic freedom has never completely
protected professors who make unpopular statements. One was fired
in 1960 for suggesting that premarital sex among students could
be a good thing. Three decades later, a department chair was demoted
for saying a Jewish conspiracy denigrated blacks in the movies.
Now experts say the Sept. 11 attacks have put new fire in the battle
over just where academic freedom ends and misconduct - or even treason
University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill could be fired
pending an investigation prompted by his 2001 essay suggesting some
World Trade Center victims were toiling away like efficient Nazi
There are no exact figures on attempts to
fire or discipline professors since Sept. 11, but experts say they
have probably increased. The fight
is especially fierce at state universities, where some question
whether taxpayers must pay the salaries of professors they find
unpatriotic or outrageous.
"We have never been free of the issue of professors coming
under intense scrutiny or attack for having written something somebody
finds utterly loathsome," said Jonathan Knight of the American
Association of University Professors in Washington.
Knight said firings are relatively rare, with 50 or 60 losing their
jobs each year for a variety of reasons out of some 800,000 tenured
and untenured professors nationwide. Tenure,
a protection normally granted after several years of probation,
is designed to allow teaching and research without fear of political
Overall, challenges to American professors today are mild compared
with the attacks academics suffered during the anti-communist investigations
spurred by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, said Robert O'Neil,
director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free
Expression in Charlottesville, Va.
But, Knight said, the intensity of attacks
on academic freedom have increased since the Sept. 11 attacks.
O'Neil said universities have handled most post-Sept. 11 complaints
about professors properly by submitting them to formal review, as
Colorado is doing with Churchill and as the University of New Mexico
did for Richard Berthold, a former history professor.
Berthold told students hours after the Sept. 11 attacks: "Anyone
who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote." The university resisted
enormous pressure to fire him, instead conducting a review and eventually
issuing a letter of reprimand after he apologized.
Berthold says the discipline system worked only because he caved
in under pressure.
"I look back on it, and I just ate too much
crow and apologized too much. I'm ashamed," he said. "It
wasn't, 'Let's applaud the killing of innocent people,' it was my
expression of my revulsion for the leadership of this country."
He retired two years later.
"Bitter? Oh yes, I'm bitter," he said.
"I thought I served the institution and my society very well
for 30 years."
"You have the right to remain silent?
F*ck that right
I want the right to talk; I want the right to speak
I want the right to walk where I wanna, yell and
I'm gonna tell and rebel every time I'm on a
microphone on the stage cold illin'
The knowledge I drop will be heard by millions
We ain't the problems, we ain't the villains
It's the suckers deprivin' the truth from our children"
-Ice T, "Freedom of Speech" (1989)
Submitted for your consideration: "He was prosecuted because
of his words. He didn't harm anybody; he didn't commit an assault;
he didn't steal; he didn't engage in any conduct, which directly
harmed someone else. So, therefore, he was punished, first and foremost,
because of the words he used."
That's not Colorado's Governor Bill Owens taking about Ward Churchill.
These are the words of a former assistant district attorney who
helped prosecute comedian/social commentator Lenny Bruce. The last
line of that quote reads: "We drove him into poverty and used
the law to kill him."
The repressive wrath of state power played a major role in Bruce's
premature death...but Bruce and Churchill are but two of many who
have endured the time-honored American tradition of stifling dissent.
From the Founding Father's Alien and Sedition Act to today's PATRIOT
Act...Ice T has it right when he raps: "Freedom of speech?
Just watch what you say."
Another fine example of gagging opposition was the case of Eugene
V. Debs. America's entrance into World War I provoked a tightening
of civil liberties, culminating with the passage of the Espionage
and Sedition Act in June 1917. This totalitarian salvo read in part:
"Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully
cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or
refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States,
shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment
of not more than 20 years, or both."
One year after the Espionage and Sedition Act was voted into law,
Debs was in Canton, Ohio for a Socialist Party convention. He was
arrested for making a speech deemed "anti-war" by the
Canton district attorney. In that speech,
Debs declared, "They have always taught and trained you to
believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves
slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world
you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange
as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever
been declared by the people."
These words led to a 10-year prison sentence
and the stripping of his U.S. citizenship. (While serving
his sentence in the federal penitentiary, Debs was nominated for
the fifth time as the Socialist Party's presidential candidate,
campaigned from his jail cell, and remarkably garnered 917,799 votes.)
Some forty-odd years later in 1965, as Lenny Bruce was just beginning
to wilt from the relentless heat he was facing, William S. Burroughs'
novel, "Naked Lunch" was prosecuted as "obscene"
by the state of Massachusetts (soon followed by other states). First
published in 1959 by Maurice Girodias and Olympia Press, "Naked
Lunch" quickly became infamous across Europe...even in countries
where it was banned.
Among those who served as an expert witness in defense of Burroughs
and his vision was Norman Mailer (Massachusetts Superior Court Judge
Eugene Hudson famously asked Mailer if any of his own novels involved
"sex in the naked sense.") [...]
A year later, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared
the work "not obscene" thus upholding the U.S. Supreme
Court's Brennan doctrine" (the decision that cleared Henry
Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" of obscenity charges and holds
that only works "utterly without redeeming
value" could legally be banned). It would prove to be
the last time a work of literature was prosecuted on obscenity charges
in the United States.
Today we have Ward Churchill taking a hit
for words of a different kind...words deemed obscene for their political
weight. You may agree or disagree with his thesis and/or his method
of articulating that thesis, but to support the witch hunt is to
contribute to the current zeitgeist of fear and conformity.
To those who call Churchill's opinions "treasonous,"
I declare that the genuine treason we Americans can engage is to
accept the silencing of others (most recently Lynne Stewart) and
to remain silent ourselves.
Eugene Debs had replied when the same charge of treason was leveled
at him: "Do not worry over the charge
of treason to your masters, but be concerned about the treason that
involves yourselves. Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor
to any good cause on earth."
William Burroughs had this to say about keeping our opinions to
ourselves: "Modern man has lost the option of silence."
Mickey Z. is the author of several books and can be found on
the Web at: http://www.mickeyz.net.
Suppose you are the party responsible for invading
a country under totally false pretenses. Suppose you had totally
unrealistic expectations about the consequences of your gratuitous
What do you do when, instead of being greeted with flowers, you
find your army is tied down by insurgents and you have no face-saving
way to get out of the morass? If you are
the moronic Bush Administration, you blame someone else.
Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Cheney and Bush blame Syria and Iran
for the troubles that they brought upon themselves. The Iraqi insurgency,
say the Five Morons, is the fault of Syria and Iran.
Here is Rumsfeld excusing himself for his dismal failures in Iraq:
"Partly it's [the insurgency] a function of what the Syrians
and the Iranians are doing."
You see, the facts that the US invaded
Iraq on false pretenses, killed and maimed tens of thousands of
Iraqis, shot down women and children in the streets, blew up Iraqis'
homes, hospitals and mosques, cut Iraqis off from vital services
such as water and electricity, destroyed the institutions of civil
society, left half the population without means of livelihood, filled
up prisons with people picked up off the streets and then tortured
and humiliated them for fun and games are not facts that explain
why there is an insurgency. These facts are just descriptions
of collateral damage associated with America "bringing democracy
The insurgency, according to the Five Morons, is because Syria and
Iran won't close their borders, thus letting in "terrorists"
who are responsible for the insurgency. Some might think that this
accusation is an example of the pot calling the kettle black coming
as it does from the US, a country that has not only proven itself
incapable of closing its own borders but also has demonstrated no
respect whatsoever for the borders of other countries.
The Bush administration, which already held
the world record as the most deluded government in history, has
now taken denial to unprecedented highs by blaming Syria and Iran
for its "Iraqi problem." Why didn't Americans realize
that it is dangerous to put a buffoon in charge of the US government
who hasn't a clue about the world around him, what he is doing or
the consequences of his actions?
Why is Secretary of State Rice trying to set Iran up for UN sanctions
– which the US can manipulate to justify invading another
Muslim country – when the US has proven to the world that
it cannot occupy Baghdad, much less Iraq?
Are Iran and Syria going to quake in their boots after witnessing
the success of a few thousand insurgents in tying down eight US
divisions? The bulk of the US force in Iraq is engaged in protecting
its own bases and supply lines. It was all the generals could do
to scrape up 10,000 Marines for their pointless assault on Fallujah.
What is the point of the Bush administration's bellicosity when
it has been conclusively demonstrated that the US has insufficient
troops to successfully occupy Iraq, much less Syria and Iran?
The American people should be scared to death that they have put
in power such deluded people.
Are Americans going to fall for the same set of WMD lies a second
time? Are Americans going to deliver up their sons, and perhaps
daughters as well, to be drafted and sent to the Middle East to
be killed and maimed for no American cause?
The US Treasury is empty. The once "almighty" dollar
is tottering. The US military is stretched to the breaking point.
Former allies look askance at America. Hatred
of America has reached an all time high.
The Bush administration must bring its policies in line with its
means before it leads our country into greater disaster. The Bush
administration and its deluded sycophants must stop poking fun at
"reality-based" experts and listen to a reality-based
There is no possibility of the US imposing its will on the Muslim
world. By its behavior the Bush administration is confirming Osama
bin Laden's propaganda and breeding more terrorists. Much better
to address the causes of Muslim discontent, i.e., America's enabling
of the Israeli government's mistreatment and dispossession of the
It does not serve America for Bush to impose Ariel Sharon's agenda
on the Middle East. Bush's insane policy is producing rising anger
that endangers Israel and America's puppet governments in Egypt,
Jordan, and Pakistan along with the Saudi regime. Ironically, this
is recognized by Egypt's Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah, who
was unable to refrain from pointing out that Bush has managed to
create a Shi'ite crescent from Iran to Lebanon.
What, King Abdullah wonders, will be the next unintended consequence
of the moronic administration that the American people in their
superior wisdom and virtue have seen fit to empower in Washington?
"If our aim is to win against terrorism, we can't afford more
instability in the area," warned the king prior to the ill-fated
US invasion of Iraq. "It's the potential
Armageddon of Iraq that worries all of us."
It should worry Americans, too.
Most Americans guess wrong when asked to estimate
how many troops have died in the U.S. occupation of Iraq, a
sign that many are giving scant attention to the nation's most dangerous
military operation since the Vietnam War.
A new survey of 1,001 adults conducted by Scripps Howard News
Service and Ohio University found that fewer than half said they
"very closely" follow news coverage of the military occupation.
Less than a third named "the war on terror" or "peace
in the Mideast" as the most important issue facing America.
Most others preferred domestic concerns like the economy, Social
Security, education or health care.
So far this year, soldiers and Marines have
died at a rate of about three per day in the conflict. More
than 1,450 military personnel and several dozen civilian employees
of the Defense Department have died since Operation Iraqi Freedom
began nearly two years ago.
Forty percent of people in the poll gave the correct answer when
asked, to the nearest 500, how many have died in the six-week war
and the bloody military occupation that followed. Thirty-two percent
guessed that 1,000 or fewer have died, 21 percent said 2,000 or
more have died and 7 percent could not make a guess.
People who oppose the war tend to overestimate
the number of fatalities in Iraq while those who support it are
more likely to underestimate the death toll.
Participants in the poll were asked, "How often would you
say you think about America's military occupation of Iraq?"
About 5 percent said they think about it "almost every hour,"
35 percent said "several times a day," 35 percent said
"about once a day," 15 percent said "several times
a week" and 10 percent said "about once a week" or
"less than once a week."
The survey also asked, "How carefully would you say you follow
news media coverage of America's military occupation of Iraq?"
Forty-two percent said "very closely," 47 percent said
"somewhat closely" and 11 percent said "not closely."
People who said they are following war news closely are much more
likely to know how many Americans have died in Iraq than people
who don't read or watch war accounts in newspapers and on television.
The proportion who correctly identified that "about 1,500"
have died in Iraq was 51 percent among people who follow war news
"very closely," 34 percent among those who follow news
accounts "somewhat closely" and 25 percent who are "not
closely" following news from Iraq.
The decision to commit American troops to Iraq has never been
especially popular, according to a series of six previous surveys
taken during the past two years.
In the latest poll, people were asked, "Despite everything
that has happened, do you think the United States has done a good
thing or a bad thing by sending our military to occupy Iraq?"
Forty-seven percent said the United States has done "a good
thing," 44 percent said it's "a bad thing" and 9
percent were undecided.
The recent elections, widely heralded by President Bush and other
political leaders as a historic milestone for Iraq, produced only
a temporary boost in America's public support for the U.S.-led occupation.
Sixty percent of people interviewed during the election and the
two days after it said the military occupation was "a good
thing." But the support level dropped to about 49 percent in
the next two days, then settled to the mid 40s thereafter.
The survey was conducted by telephone from Jan. 30 through Feb.
10 at the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University. It
has a margin of error of about 4 percentage points. It was funded
through a grant from the Scripps Foundation.
It is easy to overestimate the role of media
distortion of facts in the pacification and control of modern society.
In reality the imposition of absurdity and mindless distraction
is at least as important. If we can be persuaded to ignore serious
issues, then it hardly matters if facts relating to those issues
are distorted beyond recognition or blanked. Thus, ITN's headline
on January 29, 1999:
"And the main headline this lunchtime: Prince Charles and
Camilla Parker-Bowles have appeared as a couple, in public, for
the first time." (ITV 1 O'Clock News, 29.1.99)
The previous year, ten minutes, or thirty-three per cent, of the
BBC's 6 O' Clock News on January 26, 1998, had dealt with the Queen
Mother's fall and fracture of her left hip.
These examples might seem merely comical, but
in truth real issues and real suffering are buried by nonsense of
On ITN's main lunchtime news today, anchor Andrea Catherwood reported
that 22 people had been killed in Iraq in two attacks on a mosque
and a bakery. The report lasted exactly 22
seconds - one second per victim. Only the basic facts were
given and the carnage was not included in a summary of the day's
major stories at the end of the programme.
The 22 seconds were followed by a 5 minute 30 second report on
the planned wedding of Prince Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles -
a story also covered ad nauseam yesterday. This included some six
interviews, a straw poll of public opinion, and a discussion of
constitutional issues surrounding the marriage.
ITN had no time to mention that three children
had been killed in the attack on the Iraqi mosque alongside 40 people
wounded. It had no time to mention that no less that 50 Iraqi security
personnel have been killed in three massive suicide bombings this
week in the wake of Iraq's fraudulent elections on January 30. You
would not know from media reporting that this has been one of the
country's worst weeks for violence. A police officer in Salman
Pak, a town fast becoming a focus of the conflict, said:
"We have never seen such fighting." ('Eleven dead in
Iraq bakery attack,' Jenny Booth, Times Online, February 11, 2005)
This follows the killing of 10 Iraqi police during a fierce gun
battle late on Thursday. Insurgents ambushed a police convoy searching
for those responsible for an earlier car bomb attack - shooting
went on for two hours. US attack helicopters were sent to the scene
and opened fired to dislodge the insurgents.
Who is it that is deciding that the British public should be subjected
to current levels of absurdity and indifference to suffering in
TV news performance? Who are the people who determine what we are
and are not told about the world? What are their credentials for
such an important task? What are their backgrounds, connections,
vested interests, likely biases?
The truth is that almost no one has the remotest clue - ITN is
a massive, unaccountable business that responds far less, and far
less honestly, even than the BBC to public complaints. How
ironic it is that we so certainly believe we live in a free society
when we have almost zero understanding of, and zero control over,
the means of mass communication.
HOT on the heels of Iraq's successful election,
US forces have begun discreetly withdrawing from one of the country's
worst combat zones, leaving it in the hands of Iraqi security forces.
Five days ago, two Iraqi battalions began assuming control of
an infamous area of inner Baghdad surrounding Haifa Street that
has become a battle zone between insurgents and coalition forces.
The handover should be completed in a week.
The move is the first step in a post-election plan to scale back
the US military presence in towns across rebellious central Iraq,
leaving behind "advisers" to help the Iraqi army to take
over security duties.
If it works, British and US troops can look forward to a relatively
swift exit from Iraq. But if the Iraqi forces cannot control the
situation, the US withdrawal strategy could be thrown back by years.
The Haifa Street handover "is a very big step for Iraqi security
forces and will probably serve as a model for what is to come,"
said Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Macdonald, commander of the 1st Battalion
9th Cavalry Regiment.
"These guys are our ticket out of here. A successful security
force, Iraqi-led and manned, equals American forces going home,"
said Captain Chris Ford, a company commander who has had 60per cent
of his troops wounded during their tour in the al-Karkh district
surrounding Haifa Street.
The key question for coalition commanders is how well the inexperienced
Iraqi units will fare against a committed and professional insurgent
force in the centre of Baghdad.
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld flew into northern Iraq yesterday
to see for himself how the high-risk strategy will play out, review
the new Iraqi recruits and recognise the January 30 elections.
The handover plan is bold. Within a week the 1600 men of the Iraqi
302nd and 303rd battalions will have assumed responsibility for
an area within a 4km radius of Haifa Street. By summer, a 25sqkm
swath of central Baghdad is due to be handed over to the Baghdad
Division, comprising three brigades of Iraqi troops.
Haifa Street has "consistently been the city's toughest area,
one of continual resistance centred on former regimists, Wahabis
and Salafists," said Lieutenant-Colonel MacDonald. US advisers
will remain attached to each Iraqi battalion to communicate with
coalition command and, if necessary, call upon US airpower and quick-reaction
forces as decisive back-up.
The 302nd Battalion, which has taken control of the southern end
of Haifa Street, still has 50 US troops attached to it. But the
plan is for future Iraqi battalions to have as few as nine US advisers.
As yet the Iraqis lack the sophisticated equipment
of the US soldiers they are replacing. They are deploying with little
more than 150 rounds of ammunition and an assault rifle each. For
transport they have Japanese utilities and soft-skinned trucks instead
of American armoured personnel carriers.
Civilian contractors will supply their bases with food and water
and their serious casualties will be treated in lightly guarded
However, the Iraqi units have the advantage of being able to communicate
with the locals and glean intelligence.
"We could walk around here for three years more and not learn
what these guys pick up in a week," said squad leader Sergeant
The US and Iraqi forces have a shared interest in the latter's
"The day I want to see is the one when I say 'thank you'
to the US," said Colonel Alla Mohsine, executive officer with
the 302nd Battalion. "'Thank you very much, but now we can
defend ourselves so please can you leave and go home'."
In case you missed it, Condi's Euro-tour was
a complete flop. Far from being the "triumph" celebrated
by FOX News, the trip was just another opportunity to parrot the
belligerent policies of the Bush Administration to our former allies.
Unlike her predecessor, Rice never deviates from the White House
script she has painstakingly memorized. Powell, however lacking
in candor, was known to diverge from the hard-right fanaticism of
his superiors from time to time. That will never be said of Condi,
who flatly refuses to engage in any impromptu conversation that
might take her off message.
The press coverage was nearly as abysmal as her lackluster diplomatic
performance. Of the 1,200 or more articles entered on Google, at
least half of them use the term "fence mending" to describe
her trip. It's clear that the media had decided
on a strategy for their coverage long before Rice had left Washington.
The stories invariably shower praise on the Ice Princess for her
magnanimous gesture of reconciliation. In fact, Rice has simply
mastered the art of giving directives through a frigid grin. There
was no sign of compromise whatsoever.
The real purpose of the trip was to enlist more support for the
occupation in Iraq and to prepare the Euro-leaders for war in Iran.
Now that the elections are over, the Bush
administration is free to divide up Iraq's oil wealth among competing
oil companies. Condi's excursion is meant to coincide with the issuing
of leases to those lucky Lotto winners whose countries are willing
to get on board the Bush gravy train. This is precisely the scenario
that the neocons anticipated before the war when they said that
after the conflict "others would follow our leadership."
The energy-dependent Europeans now have to figure out how to gracefully
manufacture a reason for involvement without upsetting public opinion.
The massive media campaign aimed at showing "thawing relations"
between the US and Europe is designed with that very purpose in
mind. Even anti war activists could potentially be persuaded by
a strategy that promises greater security for the Iraqi people.
Regrettably, Iraq's resources will continue to be plundered regardless
of whatever aid is provided by Europe.
In any event, cunning European politicians are not duped by Condi's
charm offensive or by the glowing press reports. They have the tough
assignment of measuring America's inducements to join the colonial
adventure against their moral qualms about supporting aggression.
Their final determination will depend to great extent on how well
the tsunami of anti American sentiment in their own countries can
be successfully controlled. Nothing is certain, but we should expect
to see greater incremental involvement in the occupation behind
the mask of stabilizing the region.
Iran, of course, is a much thornier issue. The
Bush administration has telegraphed its intentions to invade Iran
regardless of public opinion or the will of the international community.
Rice's trip only confirms what we already know from reports of fly-overs,
covert operations and a long written record of plans to put the
resources in the Caspian region under the American control.
"I think a diplomatic solution is in our grasp if we have
unity of message and unity of purpose," Rice opined. But, "the
Iranians need to hear that if they are unwilling to take the deal,
really, that the Europeans are giving ... then the Security Council
Once again, the US is trying to disguise its unilateralism behind
the skirts of the UN. The motive, however, could not be clearer.
When Rice says that the present situation
"cannot go on forever", we should expect an attack within
the year. The fact that Iran has complied with its treaty
obligations under the NPT (Nonproliferation Treaty) and willingly
undergone extensive inspections by the IAEA (International Atomic
Energy Agency) makes no difference. Even the allegations of a nuclear
weapons program are nothing more than a pretext for initiating hostilities.
America is going to war again and Europe had better prepare itself.
Condi's Euro-journey informs us of how the State Dept will function
in the future. Rice will provide a carefully worded digest of administration
policy, and the media will convey the message in language aimed
at managing public perceptions. One hand washes the other. In truth,
the State Dept is nothing more than an annex of the War Dept, which
is now under the guidance of industry's chief ambassador, Don Rumsfeld.
Condi may be an effective spear-carrier for the empire, but there's
no doubt about who's running the show.
When foreign policy experts analyze the Rice junket, they'll see
it was just more war-mongering belligerence dolled up in a lacquered
helmet and toothy grin. Condi came with ultimatums not friendship.
Her shabby attempts at civility and compromise are just part of
the latest White House subterfuge. Behind the empty words and starched
smile, the same menacing forces are at play; trying to dragoon Europe
into the Iraqi quagmire and edging the US closer to a region-wide
conflagration. Condi's feeble attempts at rapprochement will amount
to nothing. The Transatlantic Alliance is in tatters and won't be
stitched together with Rice's flaccid bromides.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:
US Secretary of State
Colin Powell's "charm offensive" in Europe bore little
fruit on Thursday. NATO officials dashed US hopes the alliance
would significantly boost contributions to Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the first day of his trip to Europe, what many are calling a
"charm offensive" to sooth over tense transatlantic relations,
US Secretary of State Colin Powell received disappointing news.
Despite US hopes European members of the alliance would contribute
to a larger officer training facility in Iraq and expand peacekeeping
operations in Afghanistan, he came up empty-handed.
At Thursday's meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, NATO
Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer hailed the decision on the
part of certain members of the alliance, including Hungary, the
Netherlands, Norway and Poland, to send more staff to an existing
training facility in Baghdad, thereby boosting the total number
from 60 to 300.
But that contribution falls well below US expectations, and
prompted an angry outburst from Powell at a press conference. He
specifically took issue with certain NATO members' decision to prevent
staff seconded to the alliance from taking part in military training
missions in Iraq, namely Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, and Spain.
"When it comes time to perform a mission, it seems to us
to be quite awkward for suddenly members of that international staff
to say they are unable to go," he said, claiming such actions
undermine the credibility and cohesion of NATO.
Powell makes final lap around Europe
In what will likely to be his last European trip as US secretary
of state, Colin Powell arrived in Brussels hoping Washington and
Europe could come together again to respond to new threats and promote
Ahead of the NATO meeting, he said he was
aware that some of President George W. Bush's key decisions in the
last four years had been controversial in Europe, especially those
"Whatever our differences about the past and about Iraq,
we are looking forward," Powell said in a speech to the German
Marshall Fund in Brussels on Wednesday. "We're reaching out
to Europe, and we hope that Europe will reach out to us."
"We can handle the bumps and bruises."
Powell pointed out that Bush would make his first trip abroad
in his second term to Europe to visit the EU and NATO on Feb. 22
and that the first official visitor he received at the White House
after winning re-election in November had been NATO chief de Hoop
He offered both as evidence of new US overtures to Europe, where
Bush is widely perceived as a belligerent unilateralist and remains
Powell stressed that the United States and Europe were tied by
deep cultural and ethical bonds and, in time, relations would get
"We can handle the bumps and bruises of transatlantic political
life that can come along from time to time," he said. "Transatlantic
politics has its blustery days, but the weather eventually improves.
It's improving as I speak and will improve further when President
Bush visits Europe."
Helping Iraq is in Europe's interest, too
According to Powell, victory in Iraq is in everyone's interests,
even those European nations that vehemently opposed the war. This
includes successful elections in January for a transitional parliament.
"It seems to me that Europe, whatever disagreement we had
last year with respect to the war, should see it (also) on the basis
of principle to help the Iraqi people safely go to the polls and
have an election to put in place a democratic government,"
At the NATO meeting on Thursday, the members
of the alliance opposed to the invasion of Iraq did not show any
indication that they agreed with Powell. "There will be no
(French) officers or soldiers in Iraq," French Foreign Minister
Michel Barnier told reporters.
On Friday, Iraq is on the agenda when Powell meets a trio of senior
EU officials in The Hague.
NICE, France - French Defence Minister Michele
Alliot-Marie said Thursday that Paris will not forget its divisions
with the United States over Iraq, even if everyone had learned to
love each other again.
"That everyone loves each other, that
is fundamental," she said, when asked if everything
was forgiven and forgotten two years after the transatlantic crisis
triggered by the Iraq war.
"But that everything be forgotten?
No," she said. "I don't think it should be forgotten,"
she continued. "I think that in the end these periods of tension
are part of our transatlantic relations, and have been for a long
"There have been many of them and I think it is on the contrary
ability to know how to overcome our differences, that we have sometimes,
which provides the solidity of our relationship."
France led a group of anti-war countries along with Germany during
the 2003 transatlantic split.
Alliot-Marie was speaking after a day of informal talks with her
counterparts from NATO, which was plunged into one of its worst
ever crises by the Iraq conflict.
The talks in the Riviera city of Nice were the first such meeting
in France for at least four decades, after French president General
Charles de Gaulle pulled his country from NATO's integrated military
command in 1966.
The French minister referred to the symbolic nature of the meeting
when she welcomed her fellow ministers Thursday morning, declaring:
"NATO is at home here."
MUNICH, Germany - U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan warned on Sunday the world could soon face a cascade
of countries acquiring nuclear weapons unless it took action to
tighten existing controls.
Annan did not mention any country by name in his speech to a security
conference in Germany. But he spoke in the same week that North
Korea said it had nuclear arms and as the West struggles to win
assurances from Iran on its nuclear activities.
"For decades, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has helped
prevent a cascade of nuclear proliferation," Annan said.
"But unless new steps are taken now, we might face such a
cascade very soon," he cautioned.
Annan said the only way to deal with the threat was joint action.
He urged governments to study and respond to recent recommendations
put forward by a senior panel of experts he commissioned to look
at such threats.
Its proposals included tougher inspection rules, incentives for
states to forgo domestic uranium enrichment and closer cooperation
between the U.N. Security Council and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog,
the International Atomic Energy Agency.
North Korea said on Thursday it had nuclear weapons and that it
was pulling out of multilateral talks on curbing its atomic ambitions.
International reaction has been restrained, with some officials
casting doubt on the nuclear claim and others seeing the disclosure
as a negotiating tactic.
The United States and Europe have failed so far to resolve their
differences on how to deal with Iran and its suspected development
of nuclear arms, which Tehran denies.
Germany urged the United States on Saturday to
back European Union diplomacy on Iran, days after Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice urged Europe to send Tehran a stronger message
and emphasized it faced referral to the Security Council.
MUNICH, Germany - United Nations Secretary-General
Kofi Annan said on Sunday it would be hard for U.N. peacekeepers
to replace U.S.-led troops in Iraq, saying the world body could
make other contributions to postwar stability.
Asked if security operations in Iraq could eventually be transferred
to the U.N.'s blue-helmeted peacekeepers, Annan said this posed
a "real problem."
"Will the U.N. get the right troops, and the troops they need
to go to Iraq to do the right amount of work?" he told a security
conference in Munich, Germany.
"You've had a very robust presence. If it is going to be followed
by a weak, ill-equipped force, it brings its own problems. But of
course if the (Security) Council, in its wisdom, were to decide
that we go this route, obviously we would have to consider."
Annan said "lots of countries" had said they would be
willing to take part in Iraq peacekeeping if such operations were
under a U.N. mandate.
But he stressed that the world body was not now
in a position to provide security in Iraq, where it still needed
protection for its own staff.
U.S.-led forces are fighting to defeat a raging insurgency that
broke out after they toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein nearly
two years ago and has continued despite wide participation in landmark
Jan. 30 elections.
Iraq's interior minister said last week he believed the country
could establish internal security within 18 months, potentially
allowing the United States to reduce its presence.
Earlier, Annan told the BBC in an interview: "At this stage
I do not see U.N. peacekeepers replacing the U.S. and the UK troops
on the ground. But the circumstances permitting, there's much more
that the U.N. can do and we would want to fulfill our mandate fully."
He said this could include helping with reconstruction
and developing a new justice system and democratic institutions.
So, the Palestinians will end
their occupation of Israel. No more will Palestinian tanks smash
their way into Haifa and Tel Aviv. No more will Palestinian F-18s
bomb Israeli population centers. No more will Palestinian Apache
helicopters carry out "targeted killings" — i.e.:
murders — of Israeli military leaders.
The Palestinians have promised to end all "acts of violence"
against Israelis while Israel has promised to end all "military
activity" against Palestinians. So that’s it, then. Peace
in our time.
A Martian — even a well-educated Martian — would have
gathered that this was the message, supposing he dropped in on the
fantasy world of Sharm El-Sheikh on Tuesday. The Palestinians had
been committing "violence", the Israelis carrying out
"innocent" operations. Palestinian "violence"
or "terror and violence" — the latter a more popular
phrase since it carried the stigma of Sept. 11, 2001 — was
now at an end. Mahmoud Abbas — who told a close Lebanese friend
this year that he wore a suit and tie so that he would look "different"
to Yasser Arafat — went along with all this. Just which people
were occupying the homes of which other people remained a mystery.
Silver-haired and wisdom-burdened, Mahmoud Abbas looked the part.
We had to forget that it was this same Abbas who wrote the Oslo
Accords, who in 1,000 pages failed to use — even once —
the word "occupation", and who talked not of Israeli "withdrawal"
from Palestinian territory, but of "redeployment".
At no point on Tuesday did anyone mention occupation.
Like sex, "occupation" had to be censored out of the historical
narrative. As usual — as in Oslo — the real issues were
put back to a later date. Refugees, the "right of return",
East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital: Let’s deal with them
Never before have we been in such need of the
caustic voice of the late Edward Said. Settlements — Jewish
colonies for Jews, and Jews only, on Arab land — were not,
of course, discussed on Tuesday. Nor was East Jerusalem. Nor was
the "right of return" of 1948 refugees. These are the
"unrealistic dreams" that were referred to by the Israelis
All this will be discussed "later" — as they were
supposed to be in Abbas’s hopeless Oslo agreement. As long
as you can postpone the real causes of war, that’s OK. "An
end to violence," that has cost 4,000 deaths — it was
all said on Tuesday, minus the all-important equation that two-thirds
of these were Palestinian lives. Peace, peace, peace. It was like
terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. It was the sort of stuff you could
buy off a supermarket shelf. If only.
At the end of the day the issues were these. Will
the Israelis close down their massive settlements in the West Bank,
including those which surround Jerusalem? No mention of this on
Tuesday. Will they end the expansion of Jewish settlements —
for Jews, and Jews only, across the Palestinian West Bank? No mention
of this yesterday. Will they allow the Palestinians to have a capital
in Arab East Jerusalem? No mention of this on Tuesday. Will the
Palestinians truly end their "intifada" — including
their murderous suicide bombings — as a result of these non-existent
promises? Like the Iraqi elections — which were also held
under foreign occupation — the Israeli-Palestinian talks were
historic because they were "historic". US Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice "warned" Palestinians that they
must "control violence" but there was, as usual, no request
to "control" the violence of the Israeli Army.
Because the sine qua non of the equation
was that the Palestinians were guilty. That the Palestinians were
the "violent" party — hence the admonition that
the Palestinians must end "violence" while the Israelis
would merely end "operations". The
Palestinians, it seems, are generically violent. The Israelis generically
law-abiding; the latter carry out "operations". Mahmoud
Abbas went along with this nonsense.
It was all too clear in the reporting of Tuesday’s events.
What was on offer, said CNN, was "an end to all violence"
— as if occupation and illegal colonization was not a form
of violence. The American Associated Press
news agency talked gutlessly about "towns that, for now, continue
to be under Israeli security control" — in other words,
under Israeli occupation, although they would not tell their readers
So Mahmoud Abbas is going to be the Hamid Karzai
of Palestine, his tie the equivalent of Karzai’s green gown,
"our" new man in Palestine, the "tsunami" that
has washed away the contamination of Yasser Arafat, whose grave
Condoleezza Rice managed to avoid. But the tank-traps remain: East
Jerusalem, Jewish settlements and the "right of return"
of 1948 Palestinians to the homes they lost.
If we are going to clap our hands like the Sharm El-Sheikh "peacemakers"
on Tuesday, we’d better realize that unless we are going to
resolve these great issues of injustice now, this new act of "peacemaking"
will prove to be as bloody as Oslo. Ask Mahmoud Abbas. He was the
author of that first fatal agreement.
ASIO has uncovered a sex spy
ring in Canberra after tailing a diplomat and suspected agent from
the Israeli Embassy.
Amir Lati, the second secretary at the embassy, was secretly expelled
from Australia last month after the Howard Government threatened
to declare him persona non grata.
Mr Lati seduced a senior official at the Defence Department who
had access to classified material.
It is believed he intended to use the woman to
gain US intelligence and military technology given to Australia
under a special agreement.
The Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation only discovered
Mr Lati was having a sexual relationship with a woman from the Defence
Department after he visited New Zealand.
ASIO had put the 30-something junior diplomat – and other
embassy officials – under surveillance after two suspected
Israeli spies were arrested and tried in NZ.
What they discovered has rocked Canberra's intelligence
community. The scandal has concerned the intelligence agencies of
Australia's closest ally, the US.
Senior political sources said details of the affair were being
closely guarded for several reasons.
The expulsion threatened the impending visit on February 28 by
Israel's President, Moshe Katsav. And it has caused ructions with
US intelligence agencies, which fear their secrets have been compromised
The Defence woman is believed to have had a national security clearance,
allowing her to view classified documents. That clearance, however,
would require her to have notified Defence she had been in contact
with a foreign diplomat or military official.
The Defence Security Agency does regular checks on officials with
security clearances. If the woman had failed to tell her superiors
about the affair, it would be grounds for dismissal.
Mr Lati had popped up on ASIO's screen after he
visited two Israeli spies, Eli Cara and Uriel Kelman, who were arrested
The pair had been found guilty of fraudulently trying to buy NZ
passports and were sentenced to six months in jail. They have returned
to Israel but their activities prompted ASIO into an inquiry about
a possible Israeli spy ring here.
Believed to be an agent of Mossad, Israel's spy
service, Lati was said to have been seeking military and technology
secrets, and intelligence, passed to Australia by the US.
Israel's embassy spokeswoman, Orna Sagiv, would not comment on
the affair, except to say it had not affected the warm relations
between Israel and Australia.
Iraqi Resistance forces attacked
an office set up under an assumed name that was in fact the headquarters
of the Zionist secret police Mossad near the al-Hamra’ Hotel
in the al-Jadiriyah area of downtown Baghdad on Thursday. Informed
sources told Mafkarat al-Islam’s correspondent that four Zionists,
three Iraqi collaborators with the Mossad, and a man named ‘Wardan’
who was the office director, were killed in the attack.
The correspondent of Mafkarat al-Islam reported
that the Mossad office was opened in December 2004 under the name
“Ikal” ostensibly a recruiting and employment agency.
In reality, the office was run by a number of Zionist Mossad officers
and a group of Iraqi collaborators. It was in direct contact with
the office of the Zionist prime minister Ariel Sharon.
According to information obtained by the correspondent of Mafkarat
al-Islam, the office had so far provided departures outside the
country for more than 450 Iraqi scientists, including physicians,
nuclear engineers, and academics. The intellectuals were sent to
countries like Greece, Sweden and the United States.
In addition, the office published a magazine called al-Hayat “Life”
and another called at-Tamarrud “Rebellion” directed
at Iraqi women and encouraging them to debauchery and rebelliousness.
The magazine al-Hayat published fabricated stories claiming to report
on Iraqi women rebelling against their social condition.
The Mafkarat al-Islam correspondent wrote that an issue of the
magazine, that was distributed to political parties and foreign
organizations so that they could take it out to the Iraqi countryside.
JERUSALEM - Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan
Shalom will visit Britain and France next week to shore up support
for an Israeli proposal that Hezbollah be added to an EU list of
banned groups, public radio said.
Silvan Shalom will lobby British and French officials to support
an Israeli proposal, submitted to the European Union earlier this
week, which would see the Lebanese-based movement added to the EU
"terrorist" blacklist at a debate on the issue by the
end of the month.
No foreign ministry official was immediately available to confirm
the minister's proposed trip, which public radio said would begin
Until now, the group as a whole has been excluded
from the EU list as Brussels has made a distinction between Hezbollah's
political and military wing, although some of its leaders have been
Hezbollah's inclusion on the list would damage the standing of
its militia and make it difficult for the group to raise funds in
In September 2003, EU foreign ministers agreed to blacklist the
political arm of the radical Islamic Hamas movement. The group's
military wing had been on the list since 2001.
Diplomatic sources said Israel Air Force F-16
multi-role fighters intercepted and downed two Syrian MiG-29 fighter-jets
last year. The sources said the dogfight took place in September
2004 over the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
This was the first engagement between Israeli and Syrian fighter-jets
since the 1980s. The sources said the air
battle took place when Israel Air Force fighter-jets buzzed the
Syrian city of Latakia, a port used by Iran for the shipment
of weapons to Hizbullah.
The Washington-based Reform Party of Syria first provided details
of the Israeli-Syrian dogfight. RPS said the air battle took place
on Sept. 14, 2004, adding that both downed pilots were rescued by
Syrian military helicopters, Middle East Newsline reported.
RPS, quoting a European source, said the Israeli fighter-jets
used an Israeli-origin Python-4 air-to-air missile to down one of
the MiG-29s. The other Syrian MiG-29 was shot down by a U.S.-origin
The pilots of the MiG-29s were identified by RPS as Maj. Arshad
Midhat Mubarak and Capt. Ahmad Al Khatib.
Diplomatic sources said the Syrian losses led
President Bashar Assad to accelerate efforts to procure advanced
anti-aircraft systems from Russia.
Syria has requested a range of anti-aircraft systems, including
the SA-18, TOR-M1, S-300PMU2 and the S-400 systems.
The most likely Russian sale to Damascus is that of the SA-18,
the sources said. They said Russia would supply the first SA-18
short-range systems - either directly or through a third country
- within several months.
In January, Russia and Syria - overriding objections from Israel
and the United States - agreed on the sale of the SA-18 to Damascus.
Russian officials said the sale of the SA-18 would not violate any
international arms agreement.
"Russia has cooperated with Syria for decades, and my country
is convinced that Syria has a strong right to get defensive weapons,"
Russian ambassador in Tunisia Aleksei Tserub said.
TEHRAN, Feb. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran Saturday
launched a production line of torpedoes in order to promote its
defense capability at sea as the United States has recently escalated
its threats on Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said at the launch ceremony that
the production marked completion of "the Islamic Republic'sdefensive
cycle at sea."
"Iran's marine units have now achieved an effective weapon
with a complicated and modern technology in confronting surface
and under-sea threats," Shamkhani said, adding the torpedoes
could bemounted on helicopters, surface vessels and submarines."Some
of the important features of this weapon are the possibility to
use it in shallow waters, without being spotted by radars, as well
as its extraordinarily high speed, while being notably cost-effective,"
Since mid-January, US President George W. Bush, Vice President
Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have made harsh
comments against Iran.
Iran has vowed to defend itself with deterrent power.
SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea urged its
impoverished people today to rally around Stalinist leader Kim Jong
Il, after Washington rebuffed the communist North's demand that
the two sides hold bilateral talks to curb nuclear tension.
Pyongyang's state-run daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun allotted the
whole front page of its Saturday edition to an editorial saying
"the single-minded unity serves as the strongest weapon,"
said the official news agency KCNA.
"At a time like today, when the situation gets tense, no
task is more important than to strengthen our single-minded unity,"
the editorial said.
Minju Joson, another state-run daily, said that "devotedly
protecting the leader is our life and soul."
North Korea also repeated warnings of military clashes on its
loosely defined and tense western sea border with South Korea. It
accused the South of infiltrating a warship into the communist state's
waters Saturday following "a grave situation created due to
the U.S. imperialist warhawks' invariable hostile policy toward
North Korea's navy command said "such
dangerous military provocations may entail a very serious disaster,"
according to a news release carried by KCNA.
The accusations, repeated several times in recent weeks and denied
by the South, coincided with the worsening nuclear standoff. The
two Koreas fought bloody naval skirmishes in western waters in 1999
The surge in communist rhetoric followed North Korea's announcement
Thursday that it had nuclear weapons for self-defense.
ASIO has cracked a spy ring in Canberra after
tailing an Israeli diplomat who was suspected of being an agent
of Mossad, Israel's espionage service.
Amir Lati, the second secretary at the Israeli Embassy, was secretly
expelled from Australia last month.
He is known to have seduced a senior Defence
Department official who is believed to have had access to classified
It is believed he intended to use the woman to
gain US intelligence and military technology given to Australia.
The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation put the
junior Israeli diplomat – and other embassy officials –
under surveillance after he visited two suspected Israeli spies
who were arrested in New Zealand.
The scandal has rocked Canberra's intelligence community, and
Defence has launched a major investigation into the affair.
MOSCOW - Tens of thousands of Russians took
to the streets in several cities Saturday in an ongoing protest
against cuts to social programs.
The revolt, largely led by pensioners, has spread across Russia's
11 time zones and confronts President Vladimir Putin with his biggest
domestic challenge to date.
Protesters are angry over a law scrapping benefits for millions
of pensioners and other groups and replacing them with cash payments.
The benefits included free public transportation and subsidized
medication and heating. The opposition says the cash payments are
much too low to cover costs.
The government has watered down the reform package, making public
transportation once more free for retirees. It also promises to
raise pensions slightly.
But many pensioners say they're still not able to cover their
most basic needs.
To counter the marches, the pro-Kremlin United Russia party organized
a march by pro-Putin demonstrators in Moscow Saturday.
They carried the blue party's flags and a huge banner, which read:
"We'll preserve stability and support the president."
HAVANA (AP) - Fidel Castro warned that the
life of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in danger, and
said he would blame the United States if his close friend and ally
Castro's remarks came during a six-hour speech that lasted until
4 a.m. Saturday and closed an international globalization conference
in Havana attended by hundreds of economists.
"If Chavez is assassinated, the responsibility
will lie entirely with the president of the United States,"
Castro said, neglecting to provide details, but noting that
U.S. President George W. Bush has encouraged Chavez's opponents
in the past.
The Cuban leader said Chavez's left-leaning "revolution"
threatens the interests of powerful people who tried to oust him
with a short-lived coup in 2002 and several political campaigns
An eventual attempt to kill Chavez would aim to halt the changes
happening in the South American nation, Castro said - the same way
the United States and others tried to eliminate him as he turned
Cuba into a socialist country.
"With me they've already lost their time, this has become
too advanced," the 78-year-old said of the Cuban revolution.
"But that (the situation in Venezuela) is in a crucial stage."
Countless assassination plots against Castro and his closest advisers
have been disclosed throughout the more than four decades of his
Chavez on Saturday thanked the Cuban leader for his remarks.
"Thank you Fidel, it is true there are rumours, it is true
there is information," he said while visiting areas affected
by heavy rains outside Caracas.
"They are not going to succeed, my dear friend, you will
see they will not," added the 50-year-old. "I will become
an old man, like you."
GENEVA - About 35,000 people have fled fighting
in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past
three days, according to United Nations reports.
This brings the total number of people who have fled ethnic fighting
in Congo's Ituri Province to more than 80,000 since the beginning
of the year.
Land disputes between the Lendu and Hema tribes reportedly triggered
a new spate of fighting between the two ethnic groups last month.
UN observers say the Lendu-majority is mainly targeting Hema civilians.
UNICEF spokesperson Damien Personnaz says aid workers, who recently
conducted an assessment mission in the area, describe a scene of
desolation and destruction.
The refugees have told of villages looted and burned down, children
kidnapped and girls and women raped, he said.
Some are staying at four camps protected by UN peacekeeping forces.
But thousands of others who have fled their villages are hiding
in the bush and jungle, unable to receive assistance.
The UNICEF spokesperson notes people arriving at the UN sites
aren't in bad physical condition. But they are heavily traumatized,
and children, in particular, are likely to suffer from psychological
problems for some time.
BELEM, Brazil -- A 74-year-old American
nun was shot to death early today in Brazil's Amazon rain forest
where she worked to defend human rights and the environment despite
frequent death threats, federal police said.
Unknown assailants shot U.S. missionary, Dorothy Stang at point-blank
range at an isolated agricultural settlement in dense jungle 50
kms (31 miles) from the town of Anapu in the state of Para, police
and fellow religious workers said.
"It was three shots at point-blank range," said sister
Betsy Flynn of Stang's order the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
"She received so many threats, I never thought it would happen."
Stang had worked in the area around a decade defending the rights
of landless peasants and small farmers and promoting sustainable
use of the rain forest, according to the Brazilian Order of Lawyers
(OAB), a national lawyers' association.
She recently won a human rights award from the OAB for reporting
abuses by land speculators, illegal loggers and large landowners
in the area.
Only weeks ago she warned federal human rights authorities she
faced continual death threats for her work. She was on an OAB list
of people who faced possible assassination.
"This death is just more encouragement to continue her work
to confront the people who are destroying the forest," said
Meire Cohen of the OAB.
Brazilian media earlier reported Stang's age as 73.
TBILISI (Reuters) - A grenade exploded outside
the home of a U.S. diplomat in Georgia's capital late on Friday,
an Interior Ministry spokesman said.
The U.S. diplomat's wife and child, who were the only people in
the house at the time, were unhurt, said spokesman Guram Donadze.
The grenade was thrown into the yard of the private house which
is in an area near the center of Tbilisi where many foreigners and
diplomats live, he said.
It was not clear who carried out the attack. The U.S. embassy
made no comment.
MONTREAL (AP) - Police evacuated customers
and employees at two Wal-Mart stores in Quebec on Friday, after
the stores received bomb threats, Radio-Canada TV reported Friday.
The stores were in the town of Gatineau, according to the report.
The threats come just days after the U.S. retail giant announced
it would close another Wal-Mart in Quebec in response to unreasonable
demands from union negotiators.
Some 200 Canadian workers were close to winning the first-ever
union contract from the company, the world's largest retailer.
KABUL - Tens of thousands of residents scared
by rumours of an earthquake spent a chilly night in the open in
the Afghan capital Kabul and Pakistanís northwestern city
of Peshawar, residents said Saturday.
The rumours spread after relatives and friends in Peshawar called
people in Kabul telling them an earthquake was likely to hit the
region, but it was not known what caused the people to expect a
"ìHearing noises in background, I woke up and pulled
the curtain of my room and was surprised to see several dozen families
standing in snow and some people in their vehicles with engines
on," said Fawad Akbari, a resident in Macrorayon neighbourhood
"ìI went down to ask what happened, people laughed
at me why I was not aware of the prediction of a strong quake."
"My cousin called me from Peshawar at 3:00 (2230 GMT) and
told me that people in Peshawar were staying outdoors despite rain
fall due to fear of a quake and advised us to do so," university
student Mohammed Osman told AFP.
Kabul, which is normally deserted at night was full of people
camping out of their apartment buildings, with police everywhere
and streets crowded with vehicles rushing from one neighborhood
to another in search of a safer place.
TV cameras were visible in the dark in the early hours of Saturday
morning interviewing people about what was happening.
"I donít know from where and how the rumours spread
in the city, I came out of my house and asked people to get back
to their homes to avoid sickness," said a journalist, Mohamed
"Hearing of the earthquake prediction, I took my family down
and spend four hours in our mini van," another Kabul resident
Zabihullah told AFP.
Normalcy was restored after announcements were made on radios
dismissing the rumours. [...]
YANGON, Feb. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- An earthquake
measuring 2.3 on the Richter scale hit Myanmar capital of Yangon
Thursday night, state-run newspaper the New Light of Myanmar reported
Quoting the Meteorology and Hydrology Department, the report said
the epicenter of the undersea quake, which occurred at 9:39 p.m.
(local time), was about 17.6 kilometers south of Yangon.
Despite low magnitude, it was obviously felt. Experts said it would
not cause casualties and loss of properties.
It was the second quake which jolted the capital during this month.
The first undersea quake on Feb. 3 measuring 3.5 in magnitude stroke
the capital at 9:28:25 a.m. (local time) with itsepicenter of about
25.6 kilometers south of Yangon.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A moderate
5.3 magnitude earthquake and aftershock rattled the Alaska Panhandle
and the southwestern Yukon Territory in Canada on Friday, but there
were no reports of damage.
The quake at 1:00 p.m. PST (2100 GMT) was centered near Yakutat,
Alaska, on the Pacific Coast, and was felt as far as 200 km (125
miles) inland at the Yukon territorial capital of Whitehorse, according
to the Geological Survey of Canada.
The quake was followed about 30 minutes later by a magnitude 5
aftershock, geologists said.
A moderate Earthquake felt in six states could
be a reminder that the Tri-States area sits on the New Madrid Seismic
The quake which happened Thursday started with a roar and ended
with steady shaking but didn’t cause much damage.
The tremors could be felt as far south as Tunica, Mississippi,
and as far north as Southern Illinois.
Officials say the quake’s epicenter was about 50 miles northwest
of Memphis, Tennessee, at a depth of 10 miles.
ROSEAU, Dominica - The water in Dominica's
Boiling Lake, which mysteriously stopped boiling three months ago,
is rising and could abruptly spew out toxic fumes, making it dangerous
for visitors to approach, officials said Friday.
The Boiling Lake, actually a volcanic crater in the heart of a
rainforest, stopped boiling Dec. 24 and the water level dropped
about 12 metres. The Agriculture Ministry warned visitors not to
approach the lake, saying the water has since risen about six metres.
Scientists said they cannot predict when it might start bubbling
It was the third time in a century the lake - perhaps the most
popular tourist attraction in Dominica - stopped boiling. In 1901,
toxic fumes killed two people when the lake suddenly filled up months
after it emptied. The crater also stopped boiling in 1977 and 1999.
Scientists don't know for sure what has caused the lake to stop
boiling. But one theory is a 6.3-magnitude earthquake Nov. 21 clogged
underground fissures where hot gasses rose through the surfaces
and heated the water, said Allen Smith, the chairman of the geology
department at California State University in San Bernardino, California.
At the same time, the earthquake may have created other fissures
that drained the lake, Smith said. He said the lake could be refilling
with rainfall and underground seepage.
"If the lake is filling up with surface water and there is
hot water beneath, being blocked, the hot water could be building
up pressure," Smith said.
"It would blow out suddenly."
Although Watt Mountain, where the lake is located, might erupt
one day, the fluctuations in water level are not related to volcanic
activity, said Richard Robinson, a geologist with the Seismic Research
Unit of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.
Scientists believe the crater was created from an explosion when
a head of steam built up in fissures, bringing water vapour and
volcanic gas to the surface. The vapour and volcanic gas make the
Sulphuric fumes from the lake have destroyed much of the rainforest
around it. The lake is so hot it can boil an egg in five minutes.
BOGOTA, Feb. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Heavy downpour
which has flooded northeast Colombia since Tuesday has left at least
11 dead and 22,000 homeless, a report by the office for the prevention
and management of disasters of Santander said Saturday.
It said the adverse weather has completely cut off communications
in the Giron municipality, a neighbor of the city of Bucaramanga,
capital of the northeastern Santander state.
The heavy downpour has produced an overflow of rivers in Santander.
Rescue personnel indicated that the inhabitants of 50 neighborhoods
of Giron and 15 of Bucaramanga are being evacuated in the face of
the risk of landslides and floods. [...]
PHOENIX - A strong storm lashed parts of Arizona
with heavy rain on Saturday, forcing authorities to close portions
of four highways because of rock slides and flooding and driving
dozens of people from threatened homes.
Some 40 residents of two mobile home parks in Punkin Center, about
80 miles northeast of Phoenix, were evacuated because of rising
water from Tonto Creek. People living east of the creek were stranded
by flooding at low water crossings.
Some precautionary evacuations were ordered in at least three other
communities for residents living near rivers.
Authorities blocked portions of four state highways near Globe
because of rock slides and flooding. It was not clear when the roads
Heavy rain and melting snow caused many rivers and streams to swell
to near flood levels on Friday, but most peaked and started to decline
by Saturday, said Judy Kioski, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Division
of Emergency Management.
TEHRAN - Snow has cut off more than 700 villages
in northern Iran and damaged thousands of houses and schools, including
more than 150 whose roofs collapsed under the weight of the falls.
After 10 days of snowstorms, roads were buried under between two
and four metres (between about six and 13 feet) of snow in Gilan
province off the Caspian Sea.
A break in the weather enabled helicopters to be sent on Sunday
to help in the worst affected mountainous areas of the province.
The state news agency IRNA reported that some
20,000 houses, schools and government buildings had been damaged
in the province. Schools had been closed for the past week.
"No-one was reported dead from cold," Asghar Shokr-Gozar,
mayor of Rasht, the provincial capital, told AFP, denying some press
reports of deaths.
"We have managed to re-open the main roads of the city but
due to the lack of sufficient snow-plowing machinery the process
is slow ... In some areas (in the city) we are faced with more than
one metre of snow," he added.
ISLAMABAD - An avalanche killed at least 33
people in a small hamlet in the Neelam Valley of Pakistan-held Kashmir,
Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Faisal Saleh Hayat
told Reuters on Saturday.
The minister said 18 houses in Mathawali Siri hamlet had been
buried by the avalanche which struck overnight.
Rescuers were still trying to reach the site of the disaster,
ploughing through snow drifts more than 2 metres (6 ft) deep, but
they could see the bodies of 20 women and 13 men from a vantage
point overlooking the hamlet. Four injured had been rescued.
IQALUIT - Several Iqaluit residents claimed
they saw strange lights in the sky Wednesday night near the Road
Witnesses say they saw up to eight lights they claim were not
Jeremiah Veevee says his brother called him about the mysterious
Veevee says he watched the show with binoculars from his home
near the cemetery.
"I went to our backdoor area, started watching the lights
come in, probably from the direction from the Road to Nowhere,"
"Something orange like light moving towards this area with
one single light further back from the first one there were two
of them flying side by side at about same speed."
Veevee says he called the air traffic control tower at the Iqaluit
He says he was told that the strange objects were not showing
up on the radar screen.
Other witnesses called the Iqaluit RCMP.
RCMP Sergeant Dale MacLeod says someone called about the lights
just before 8 p.m., and police investigated.
He says the French school students were conducting experiments
with balloons and candles at about the same time.
He believes that's what several people in Iqaluit witnessed, not
latest UFO report was brought to our attention by mediavillage.net.
Whilst doing some maintenance on another site, they came across
"something odd about the Washington image feed". Some
screen shots were taken and a UFO appears in the image. Click
here to go to their site and view the full details.
There are a number of screenshots taken at various times, in one,
the sky appears to darken considerably in just a few minutes (following
the appearance of the object).
The UFO sighting was reported to the National UFO Reporting Center
who seem to agree that it was unusual, but obviously without further
investigation it will be difficult to say exactly what it was.
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