Friday, February 25, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Why are we welcoming this torturer?

Europe is tacitly condoning the Bush regime's appalling practices
Victoria Brittain
The Guardian

George Bush is this week having an extravagantly orchestrated series of meetings with Europe's leaders, designed to show a united front for the creation of democracy around the world. Tony Blair talks of our "shared values". No one mentions the word that makes this show a mockery: torture.

It is now undeniable that the US administration, at the highest levels, is responsible for the torture that has been routine not only, as seen round the world in iconic photographs, at Abu Ghraib, but at Guantánamo Bay and Bagram. Meanwhile, in prisons in Egypt, Jordan and Syria (and no doubt others we do not know about), Muslim men have been tortured by electric shocks to the genitals, by being kept in water, by being threatened with death - after being flown to those countries by the CIA for that very purpose.

How can it be that not one mainstream public figure in Europe has denounced these appalling practices and declared that, in view of all we now know of cells, cages, underground bunkers, solitary confinement, sodomy and threatened sodomy, beatings, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, mock executions and kidnapping, President Bush and his officials are not welcome?

Perhaps it's not surprising given the British army's own dismal record in southern Iraq. Why has no public figure had the honesty to admit that the democracy and freedom promised for the Middle East are fake and mask US plans to leave Washington dominant in the area? And why does no one say publicly that what is really happening in the "war on terror" is a war on Muslims that is creating a far more dangerous world for all?

From the flood of declassified material from Guantánamo, from recent reports by the military that reveal evidence of abuse and even deaths at Bagram being destroyed, from the war between the FBI and the CIA about who is responsible for the interrogations, from the utter confusion about who is to be responsible for the prisoners who will never be released, one thing is clear: even in its own terms, the torture strategy is a failure. [...]

"Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself."
- James Anthony Froude

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Lost in Europe

President Bush has reached a dead end in his foreign policy, but he has failed to recognise his quandary

Sidney Blumenthal
Friday February 25, 2005
The Guardian

President Bush has reached a dead end in his foreign policy, but he has failed to recognise his quandary. His belief that the polite reception he received in Europe is a vindication of his previous adventures is a vestige of fantasy.

As the strains of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, the Pastoral, filled the Concert Noble in Brussels, Bush behaved as though the mood music itself was a dramatic new phase in the transatlantic relationship. He gives no indication that he grasps the exhaustion of his policy. His reductio ad absurdum was reached with his statement on Iran: "This notion that the US is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table." Including, presumably, the "simply ridiculous".

Bush is scrambling to cobble together policies across the board. At the last minute he rescued his summit with Vladimir Putin, who refuses to soften his authoritarian measures, with a step toward safeguarding Russian plutonium that could be used for nuclear weapons production. This programme was negotiated by Bill Clinton and neglected by Bush until two weeks ago.

The European reception for Bush was not an embrace of his neoconservative world view, but an attempt to put it in the past. New Europe is trying to compartmentalise old Bush. To the extent that he promises to be different, the Europeans encourage him; to the extent that he is the same, they pretend it's not happening.

The Europeans, including the British government, feel privately that the past three years have been hijacked by Iraq. Facing the grinding, bloody and unending reality of Iraq doesn't mean accepting Bush's original premises, but getting on with the task of stability. Ceasing the finger-pointing is the basis for European consensus on its new, if not publicly articulated, policy: containment of Bush. Naturally, Bush misses the nuances and ambiguities.

Of course, he has already contained himself, or at least his pre-emption doctrine, which seems to have been good for one-time use only. None of the allies is willing to repeat the experience. Bush can't manage another such military show anyway, as his army is pinned down in Iraq.

The problem of Iran is in many ways the opposite of Iraq. The Europeans have committed their credibility to negotiations, the Iranians have diplomatic means to preclude unilateral US action, and Bush - who, according to European officials, has no sense of what to do - is boxed in, whether he understands it or not.

The secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, seeking to impress French intellectuals while in Paris, referred to Iran as totalitarian, as if the authoritarian Shia regime neatly fitted the Soviet Union model. With this rhetorical legerdemain, she extended the overstretched analogy of the "war on terrorism" as the equivalent of the cold war to Persia. Her lack of intellectual adeptness dismayed her interlocutors. One of the French told me Rice was "deaf to all argument", but no one engaged her gaffe because "good manners are back". [...]

Bush has hummed a few bars of rapprochement. With their applause, the Europeans have begun to angle him into a corner on Iran. In time Bush must either join the negotiations or regress to neoconservatism, which would wreck the European relationship. If he chooses a course that is not "simply ridiculous", on his next visit the Europeans might be willing to play Beethoven's Third Symphony, the Eroica.

Comment: While Blumenthal may think that the Europeans have got Bush "contained", the agenda that Bush is applying is not going to be stopped by diplomacy. His plan is in reaction to the upcoming events confronting our planet, from climate change to cosmic bombardment. But the Europeans must be aware of that, as well, so we are seeing a bit of theatre as each side tries to position itself for the next act.

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Lufthansa May Sue Over Bush Visit Flight Disruption
Feb. 24, 2005

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe's No. 2 airline, may seek redress for cancellations and delays from German authorities who temporarily brought the Frankfurt area to a standstill yesterday for a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush, damaging business for local companies.

Lufthansa had to cancel 92 flights, affecting 5,730 passengers, as a consequence of air traffic restrictions, said spokesman Thomas Jachnow in a telephone interview. Delays to another 330 flights totaled around 300 hours. Jachnow said losses went "well into the millions," though he declined to elaborate.

Bush's eight-hour trip to Mainz, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Frankfurt, for talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, led the authorities to halt river traffic on the Rhine, Europe's busiest waterway, suspend takeoffs and landings at Frankfurt airport, Europe's second biggest, and close four motorways for periods of up to four hours. Much of Mainz city center was cordoned off, damaging business in local stores.

"Sales were awful," said Hans Keller, owner of a pharmacy about 100 yards away from the restricted area. "Bush's visit has caused economic damage to all businesses here in Mainz and nobody is going to compensate us." [...]

DFS said in an e-mailed statement that the U.S. Secret Service had ordered the complete closure of the airport during Bush's arrival and departure two days before the visit, after previously saying it would not be necessary. The closure was needed to allow the presidential convoy to cross the airport runways and take the shortest route.[...]

About 14,000 police officers helped to protect Bush, said Ernst Scharbach, spokesman for the Rhineland-Palatinate police's labor union. Police were brought in from as far away as Schleswig- Holstein, Germany's northernmost state, and Brandenburg, the state encircling the capital Berlin.

"I have never experienced such security," Wolfgang Herber, a police officer on duty in Mainz, told broadcaster ARD. Herber helped protect former U.S. President Ronald Reagan on a visit to Germany in 1985.


Complaints by local residents and store-owners about the security clampdown blemished the picture of reconciliation between Schroeder and Bush, whose meeting was intended to heal the rift that resulted from German opposition to the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Keller, who spent the night in his pharmacy, said his eight employees were forced to stay at home because they couldn't have made it to the shop. Sales dropped to a third of normal turnover, he said, adding that he kept the store open expecting old people in a neighboring nursing home to need his services.

Twenty-four kilometers of the River Rhine and 15 kilometers of its tributary, the Main, were closed for traffic yesterday. The BDB Inland Shipping Federation said in a statement on its Web site the day before the visit it estimated losses would amount to 500 million euros. [...]

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Putin loses his smile after lecture from Bush on democracy
By Andrew Osborn in Bratislava
The Independent
25 February 2005

President George Bush subjected Russia's Vladimir Putin to a public lecture on the fundamentals of democracy yesterday, injecting a chill into a relationship that has - until now - been characterised by bonhomie.

Meeting in the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, Mr Bush emerged from a three-hour meeting with the Russian President joking and smiling and full of warm words. But his frequent references to "Vladimir" and the "fella" were peppered with targeted criticism of the state of democracy in Russia with which the more hawkish members of his administration are said to have lost patience.

An unsmiling, visibly irritated Mr Putin squirmed as he listened to Mr Bush tell a press conference he had been told that Washington had "concerns about Russia's commitment in fulfilling" the "universal principles" of democracy. "Democracies always reflect a country's customs and culture, and I know that," Mr Bush said. "Yet democracies have certain things in common; they have a rule of law, and protection of minorities, a free press, and a viable political opposition." [...]

For a man who is seldom subjected to such face-to-face criticism and is famously cool under pressure, he looked at times as if he was about to lose his composure. [...]

Russian officials tried to play down the tension by suggesting the two men's relationship had matured to a level where they could now tell each other things they did not want to hear.

The two men could not, however, have looked more different.

Mr Bush looked satisfied that he had obliged Mr Putin to justify his views on democracy and claimed a statement from the Russian leader vowing not to roll it back was the meeting's most important moment.

Mr Putin said: "Russia chose democracy 14 years ago without any outside pressure. It made this choice for itself, in its own interests and for its people and its citizens. It was a definitive choice and there is no turning back." A return to totalitarianism was impossible, he added.

However he indulged in none of the informal small talk beloved of Mr Bush and looked relieved to exit the stage with a stiff handshake, his face taut with pressure. In Russian official circles, the meeting is likely to be seen as a humiliation. [...]

Comment: Baiting the Russian Bear? We wonder what Bush told Vladimir that made him willing to take the insults? Blackmail?

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Canada refuses further role in missile defence
Thursday, February 24, 2005 Updated at 2:35 PM EST

The formal announcement Thursday that Canada will refuse any further participation in the controversial U.S. missile-defence shield was met with an immediate warning that Canada had given up its sovereignty.

Although Prime Minister Paul Martin said Canada would "insist" on maintaining control of its airspace, U.S. ambassador Paul Cellucci warned that Washington would not be constrained.

"We will deploy. We will defend North America," he said.

"We simply cannot understand why Canada would in effect give up its sovereigntyits seat at the table – to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming towards Canada."

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew made the Canadian decision public after months of equivocating by the Liberal government and days of denials that a decision had been made.

"After careful consideration of the issue, we have decided that Canada will not participate in the U.S. ballistic missile defence system," Mr. Pettigrew said in the chamber of the House of Commons.

He insisted that the decision – which has reportedly left the Bush administration nonplussed – will not "in any way" hurt ties with the United States.

"We will carefully examine all options and pursue our priorities vigorously," he said. [...]

Comment: Yep, the Bush administration appears to get confused quite easily these days. They just can't seem to grasp the concept that any other "democratic" country would want to make a decision that is in opposition to American policy.

What is interesting in the U.S. ambassador's veiled but threatening comments is his assertion that by refusing to join the U.S. missile defence plan, Canada is somehow "giving up its sovereignty".

Webster's dictionary defines sovereignty as "political autonomy, self-governing, independent." By refusing to automatically submit to American interests and make a decision based on the will of the majority of citizens, Canada is indeed maintaining its sovereignty in the face of relentless American pressure and intimidation.

And although we can't predict the future, seeing that Canada doesn't go around invading, occupying, and terrorizing other sovereign nations whenever it feels like it, the chance that a missile might ever be destined for the great white north appears slim indeed.

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Bush Gets Stoned by the World Media
U.S. Press Less Interested in Drug Remarks
By Jefferson Morley Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2005; 6:00 AM

President Bush all but admits to illicit drug use for the first time.

Overseas it's the stuff of headlines. At home, the U.S. press has generally downplayed the story.

The divergent coverage of Bush's apparent drug use is a textbook study in the difference between the international online media and their American counterparts. On the issue of youthful illicit drug use, most U.S. news editors -- liberal, conservative or other -- defer to Bush in a way that their foreign counterparts do not.

The New York Times broke the Bush marijuana story Friday in a front-page report on Doug Wead, a Christian activist who has published a book based in part on conversations with Bush that Wead secretly recorded in 1998 and 1999. On Wead's tapes, whose authenticity the White House does not dispute, Bush came close to admitting he had smoked marijuana and avoided answering a question about whether he had used cocaine. [...]

Since Bush has never acknowledged using drugs, the international media played up the marijuana angle.

The BBC emphasized Bush's discretion in addressing the subject, saying "Bush hints he tried marijuana." So did Aljazeera: "Tapes hint Bush smoked marijuana." Swissinfo, a news site in Geneva, asked "Did Bush smoke pot?"

In Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald focused on Bush's reasoning for not talking about the issue publicly. Bush worried young people would copy his cannabis use, the paper said.

From South America to the Middle East to Asia, other news sites concluded that Bush's statements amounted to a confession. [...]

A few foreign sites offered more light-hearted headlines. "Bush's own 'smoking gun'," said the South Africa broadcast outlet, News24. The Economic Times of India sounded less than shocked: "Oh boy! George may have puffed on marijuana" was their headline.

In contrast, most of the traditional leaders of American journalism -- the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the TV networks -- made no mention of drugs in their headlines, although all reported the substance of what Bush said on the tapes. [...]

Among national U.S. news outlets, only used the M-word in a headline declaring, "New Tapes Say Bush May Have Smoked Marijuana."

Other national news outlets were more indirect. The Los Angeles Times said "Secret Tapes Show Bush's Concern Over Past." National Public Radio reported, "Phone Tapes Suggest Bush's Unlawful Past." For these sites and many others, the news was not "pot" but the "past," a word choice that signaled that the accompanying news story was not really new.

The one medium where the drug angle was emphasized was local TV news, long regarded as the most sensationalist sector of American journalism. Stations from Los Angeles ("Tape Released of Bush's Wild Party Days") to New Orleans to Johnstown, Penn., highlighted Bush's apparent drug use.

What explains the difference between the elite American media and the rest of the world?

Admission of drug use by a national leader has made front-page news before. When Bill Clinton admitted in the 1992 presidential campaign to smoking marijuana both the Times ("Clinton Admits Experiment With Marijuana in 1960's") and The Post ("Clinton Admits '60s Marijuana Use") ran the story on page one. But that was during the heat of a presidential primary campaign when such revelations can be more consequential. It could be argued that the Wead tapes, coming to light after Bush's reelection, are unlikely to alter the political equation in Washington. [...]

If the big-name newspapers had played up the drug angle it's reasonable to assume that Republicans and conservatives on talk radio would renew such accusations. They might say liberal editors were dredging up an old story from a disloyal friend to thwart the agenda of a popular conservative president.

Foreign editors (and local TV) have no such worries. They have a simpler view: George Bush using illegal drugs is worth a headline.

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Syria trained us, executioners say
By Rory Carroll in Baghdad
February 25, 2005

Captured Iraqi insurgents who claim they have beheaded dozens of hostages say they practised on chickens and sheep before moving on to people.

State-run Al-Iraqiya television has aired lengthy interviews with at least six men who said they were involved in gangs that kidnapped and killed dozens of people in the northern city of Mosul.

Speaking with little sign of remorse, the men said that they were told they would be made princes after 10 beheadings.

The broadcasts, which began this week, seemed to be a government-backed initiative to cast the insurgents in the worst possible light and to accuse Syria, which the men said had trained and paid them, of masterminding the atrocities.

There was no way to verify the confessions or the identities of the men, who were described as captured insurgents, in which case they are probably being held by the Interior Ministry.

An 80-minute program aired on Wednesday was punctuated by images of Ken Bigley, the British hostage murdered in October. But the interviewees did not mention him and said their victims were Iraqis deemed to have collaborated with the occupation.

Each man spoke in turn to an unseen interviewer, while the others were silent and seated in the background, the only adornment an Iraqi flag.

They showed little emotion but tended to avoid eye contact and stare at their hands or the floor when detailing the beheadings. The questioner was often aggressive, challenging the men about why they did not feel compassion for their victims or their relatives.

One man, who said he was merely a driver for a kidnap gang and had not killed anyone, was ridiculed when the others said he had shot dead up to 15 people. What he meant was that he had not beheaded anyone. "So if I shoot you now you are not dead?" the interviewer said.

The broadcast echoed the televised confessions and humiliations of Saddam Hussein's opponents before his regime was toppled.

Al-Iraqiya TV went on air in 2003 with funding from the Pentagon and operates from the heavily protected green zone in Baghdad. Viewers have responded with a mix of horror at the grisly details, fascination that the men look so normal, and suspicion that the public is being manipulated with broadcasts which air at least twice a day.

The main target of the propaganda was Syria, which Baghdad has repeatedly accused of sponsoring insurgents. Damascus denies the allegations.

One of the men in Wednesday's broadcast was named as Lieutenant Anas Ahmed al-Essa of the Syrian intelligence service.

His group was recruited to cause chaos and stop the US attacking Syria, he said.

The interviewees said they were taken to Latakia in Syria in 2001 in expectation of a US invasion of Iraq and trained by a Syrian officer named Anis in beheadings, bombings, shootings and filmmaking.

Asked why they used knives rather than guns to execute, one man replied: "The Syrians told us to do it."

Comment: The powers that be and their mealy-mouthed lackeys in the state-owned media must be getting lazy, because this is the most blatantly ridiculous piece of outright propaganda to come out of Iraq in a long time - and that's saying something.

Consider the following facts:

- Northern Iraq, which includes the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, is teeming with Mossad operatives who have a headquarters there.

- One of the most infamous and well-publicized beheadings, that of Nick Berg, was likely carried out by agents of the Mossad or CIA.

- Syria has recently been accused by the U.S. and Israel as being responsible for the Hariri assassination in Lebanon, when all evidence points to the Mossad as the real culprits.

It is Israel and the United States that have most to gain from this sort of propaganda, and the Syrians who suffer as a result. Seeing as how this story is being repeatedly broadcast on a Pentagon-funded television station twice daily, and now picked up by the UK's Guardian newspaper and spread to other major media outlets, the damage has already been done.

How many regular readers of these international dailies, not having the discernment necessary to cut through the baloney, will automatically assume that the Syrians are now behind all the beheadings in Iraq? It is certainly worth noting that even flagrant propaganda of this type, that seems so obvious to the editors and long time readers of the Signs of the Times, will be unquestioningly accepted by a great many more people around the globe.

Such is the reality of the control system in which we live...

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UFO Secrecy and the Death of the American Republic
by Richard M. Dolan

Part I

Like the Agatha Christie twist in Murder on the Orient Express, there have been many killers of the American Republic. [...]

There is a creepy interconnection of most of these villains. There is, for instance, the unsettling confluence of the major financial institutions of the world, the major groups of organized crime, and numerous intelligence agencies from around the world, all carving up the globe in the name of privatization. Behind all this is the unsettling evidence that elite powerful interests and families do indeed exercise dominant power behind the scenes of our public institutions, and that this is being done on an international scale. [...]

What's worse, possibly, are the frightening implications of 'behind the scenes' intelligence activities in the two most publicly traumatic events of the last fifty years of American history: the Kennedy assassination and the events of September 11, 2001. Both of these are symptomatic and further cause of the demise of republican government.

Regarding Kennedy, so much time has elapsed, and the nation still cannot get truth from its government. Indeed, mainstream media has been all too happy to go to bat for the men who were behind this.

In 2003, during the 40th anniversary of Kennedy's death, I watched, awestruck, as Peter Jennings of ABC hosted a TV special explaining "why the conspiracy theories are wrong." Such a disingenuous, selective, and often misleading portrayal of facts regarding that case could not have been accidental. I can only assume that the men who killed Kennedy are still in power, and have the ability to dictate what comes out of ABC. Especially so, when you consider that the men behind the killing appear to have included some of the Cuban ex-patriots whose operations Kennedy tried to disband after the Cuban Missile Crisis. And when you consider that 30 miles off the coast of Cuba in 1961 was a small oil operation that appears to have secretly supported the infamous Bay of Pigs operation on behalf of the CIA. The company was called Zapata Oil. It was run by a man named George Herbert Walker Bush. [...]

People who live in their little private Idaho read all this with such incredulity. "Well, why isn't any of this in the major media?" "Wouldn't the press just love such a scoop?"

The answer is no. Of course not. That people can still believe this about their media is something that I continue to marvel at, but – in case, dear reader, you're still not getting it – it is time to wake up. [...]

Indeed, our major media is a crucial part of the problem. It has become the watchdog that doesn't bark. I've written about this a number of times. Talk about this long enough and you begin to feel as though you're howling into a vacuum. Which is essentially the case. [...]

Americans have lived on a mental autopilot for long enough. Every day, millions of children mindlessly recite a pledge of allegiance to the flag "and to the republic for which it stands." Do they know what a republic is? Do the adults who teach them know? Do you? The word once had meaning for all Americans, but those days are long gone. Today, we hear nothing about such things as republican institutions, and even less discussion about what structures of real power have actually evolved in the United States, and indeed throughout the world. I am not sure what exactly we should be calling this new government, but it isn't a republic, nor is it particularly democratic. [...]

One certainly hears a lot these days about "American fascism." Certain commentators like to point out that fascism was a distinct historical development that evolved from the European wreckage after World War One. Some maintain that to call what is happening in America "fascism" is a disservice to those who lived under Hitler, Mussolini, or other dictators.

It's true that there are major differences here today with certain features of those regimes. For one, the current regime is not as in-your-face about it as, say, Hitler was. There has been no openly acknowledged coup d'etat to which one can refer. But the changes to America have yet been profound. What I believe is that the Jacobin-styled revolutionaries who run America these days have learned an important lesson from the past: that the best revolutions are silent. Manage the media, manage the other major institutions of power, and you can have your way about almost anything. You can change the structure of society at the most profound levels, as long as you keep the old appearances.

I call this silent fascism.

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Nearly Half of NY Sept. 11 Dead Cannot Be Identified
By Timothy Gardner
Wed Feb 23,11:57 AM ET

NEW YORK - New York authorities have ended efforts to identify victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, leaving the remains of nearly half the 2,749 people killed in the World Trade Center unidentified, the city's medical examiner said on Wednesday.

Some 9,720 unidentified bone and tissue fragments have been sealed and stored in case developments in technology allow for identification in the future, said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office.

Of those killed, 42 percent remain unidentified due to difficulties in getting DNA samples from the remains. [...]

Comment: And yet, they IDed every single body from the Pentagon??

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Debunking Popular Mechanics Article "9/11 Myths, The Pentagon: Flight 77 Debris"

[...] Summary of Kilsheimer's Lies

  • Finding one of the black boxes (a major lie)
  • When he arrived at the Pentagon
  • That he was accompanied by his engineers on the first day

Three lies. Now, what else was he saying?

Kilsheimer Has A Long History of Cover-Ups

Allyn Kilsheimer is a member of a group of individuals owning businesses, in academia and working for the federal government that appear at every questionable terrorist attack to provide the analysis and cover-up.

Pentagon officials contacted Kilsheimer right after the crash. He had gained an exceptional reputation for analyzing structural failures around the world, and had done that for the government after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

The Oklahoma City and 1993 World Trade Center bombings. What a coincidence.

Comment: To read the details of this interesting report, click here.

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Any criticism of Bush equals giving support to the people behind the 9/11 attacks
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Bylined to: Steven Hunt

They came for him while he was watching television: Fox News, CNN, PBS, MSNBC. Nobody saw them ... they slithered away with the man's mind before even his wife and children realized what was happening.

By external appearances there was nothing amiss ... except for a far-away, vacant look in Todd's eyes that is quite evident when he is watching the nightly news.

Lizards -- the lizards did it as sure as the sun will rise in the east and the cold winds blow from the north along the Atlantic seaboard of the United States of America.

Today Todd is firmly ensconced in the mentality of Lizard thinking which tolerates no nuance: you're either a man or a mouse or a woman; you're for us or for the terrorists; God said it, I believe it, that settles it; capitalism / apple pie / Chevrolet / Ford / Dodge / American flag / puppy dogs for little girls.

Twenty years ago, Todd protested South African apartheid, decried ecological destruction, and noted (with nervousness) the hypocritical record of US meddling in other countries' affairs. In one semester at State University he read Animal Farm and 1984.

This was then ... before the lizards came ... before the six-figure insurance sales job, the SUV, and the half-million dollar home ... before kids, dental bills, and a deteriorating family health insurance and pension package. Before the corporate mergers and the stock market bust of the late 1990s ... when dreams of retirement by age 50 in Hawaii to surf his retirement away with Viagra (and the twenty-something hottie-on-the-side) receded into the sunset of our gilded, yuppified dreams of smug consumption.

You see, lizard-thinking has taken away Todd's ability to think outside the corporate-approved box. Dissident ideas are assiduously guarded against and discarded. He voted Clinton once (Dole-too old) and Bush twice.

Todd rails against taxes and supports the war against Iraq by putting a yellow magnetic ribbon on the side of his SUV. Todd hates terrorism and the people that support terrorism; he is firm and self-righteous in this conviction.

Any criticism of Bush equals giving support to the people behind the 9/11 attacks.

Todd doesn't have anything against gays or blacks, not necessarily ... but he doesn't want his daughter marrying either one of them.

Lizards, hee, hee .. I shouldn't blame Todd's demise as an ethical, engaged human being totally on lizards.

Indeed, lizards have the ability to adapt ... but there seems to be a hard-wired schema through which the US population view the outside world that is repeatedly reinforced by the corporate news system, the education system, and the entertainment/religion industries.

The world is "out there" populated with them that can never be us. [...]

Warning to my Bolivarian Sisters and Brothers: The US population is one of the most easily manipulated in the entire world ... what Saddam did with chemical weapons and pure thuggery, the tyrants in the US do with money, praise, entertainment and constant ideological conditioning. [...]

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Press Impostor

At the White House, don't duck the real questions
February 23, 2005

How is it that an administration that screened thousands of people for attendance at Bush campaign rallies repeatedly let a fake reporter into the sanctorum of the White House pressroom under a false name? Who was running that background check? How could a president who declares that national security is his prime concern be so ill served for nearly two years by his own security detail?

What is the public to make of the fact that legitimate protesters are kept far away from President George W. Bush while an illegitimate "journalist" who's really working for a Republican propaganda mill is repeatedly allowed into the White House pressroom and regularly called upon by the president and the president's press secretary to ask questions?

Is it possible that the administration's formidable public relations machine was well aware that reporter "Jeff Gannon" of the Talon News Web site was really James Guckert, and that Talon and the Web site GOPUSA have the same owner and often the same pro-Republican content?

Is it possible that an administration that is so careful about scripting events and managing information approved of Guckert being planted in the pressroom to ask softball questions and even to keep an eye on the real reporters working there? Isn't that fair to ask, considering this is the same administration that used its taxpayer-funded, $250-million public relations apparatus to pay columnists to say nice things about its programs?

Once Guckert was exposed, shouldn't the administration, for the sake of security and integrity, have run identity checks on the other members of the White House press corps? Are there any pseudo-reporters planted there from Democratic organizations to ask hard questions?

Based on the Guckert case, can any self-styled journalist from an obscure Web site or blog expect to obtain a daily pass to attend White House press briefings? Given the proliferation of same, is the White House prepared for a stampede of applications? Will all identities be verified? Will reporters from GOP-friendly media receive preferred seating?

Is anyone in the Bush administration asking these questions? Or interested in answering them?

Comment: Certainly the answer is obvious: Guckert was able to "get close" to the administration because he IS CLOSE to the administration... maybe closer than the gay bashing Christian fundies who support Bush think.

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Covert Ops in Your Neighborhood
Kurt Nimmo
February 24, 2005

Imagine the following scenario: a covert Nicaraguan assassination team enters the United States and methodically kills Casper Weinberger, Duane Claridge, Oliver North, John Poindexter, Thomas Clines, Robert McFarlane, and other figures connected to the Contras, a U.S. supported paramilitary group responsible for killing an estimated 30,000-50,000 Nicaraguans (in a country of 3.5 million).

Of course, considering the current government of Nicaragua, this is not likely to happen, but what if it did? What do you think the response would be in the United States?

Bomb Nicaragua.

Consider the following from the Washington Post: "The Pentagon is promoting a global counterterrorism plan that would allow Special Operations forces to enter a foreign country to conduct military operations without explicit concurrence from the U.S. ambassador there, administration officials familiar with the plan said." [...]

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Handful of Congressmen Could Rule America in Event of Catastrophe
By Greg Szymanski
American Free Press

No longer do Capitol Hill legislators need a quorum to do the people's business. Now under a piece of hotly contested legislation passed without media attention on Jan. 5, only a few members of Congress are needed to do official business in the event of a catastrophe instead of the usual 218.

Critics claim H. Res. 5 paves the way for tyranny, allowing “only a few to decide for so many.”

The provision states: “If the House should be without a quorum due to catastrophic circumstances, then . . . until there appear in the House a sufficient number of representatives to constitute a quorum among the whole number of the House, a quorum in the House shall be determined based upon the provisional number of the House; and . . . the provisional number of the House, as of the close of the call of the House . . . shall be the number of representatives responding to that call of the House.”

Supporters claim the bill, passed “under the cover of congressional
darkness,” is intended to allow the government to “continue operating” in the event of a catastrophic emergency or terrorist attack. However, constitutional experts say the law is blatantly unconstitutional and ripe for challenge.

Normally, 218 lawmakers out of the 435 members are needed to declare war, pass laws and validly conduct the people's business. But under the new rule a majority is no longer needed when circumstances arise, including natural disaster, attack, contagion or terrorist attacks rendering representatives incapable of attending House proceedings.

GOP House leaders pushed the controversial “doomsday legislation” through for passage as a part of a hefty and voluminous rules package. It drew little attention and was probably not even discovered by many who voted on it since the rules package centered on recent ethics violations. [...]

Comment: Obviously they expect to need such a law...

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U.S. wants passenger names one hour before takeoff
By Shaun Waterman
UPI Homeland and National Security Editor
2/24/2005 11:25 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Homeland Security is drafting a rule that will require airlines to pass on passenger manifest information as much as an hour before the departure of international flights bound for the United States, officials confirmed to United Press International Thursday.

"We need to be able to identify any suspected terrorists or other criminals (on board) before the plane takes off," Christiana Halsey of the department's Customs and Border Protection directorate said, adding that the department was working on a so-called Notice of Proposed Rule Making -- the first legal step down the regulatory path. [...]

Industry representatives declined to comment for the record in advance of the notice's publication but fretted privately that the logistical demands would be another blow to the financially battered airlines. One congressional official suggested that the federal government might have to underwrite any additional costs incurred.

Halsey said that the passenger names would, as at present, be checked by the directorate's National Targeting Center against the United States' consolidated terrorist watchlist -- which contains the names and aliases of thousands individuals thought linked to terrorism -- and against several other law-enforcement databases.

"We're not just looking for terrorists," she said. [...]

Comment: In other words, the fear of terrorism is being used again to push through yet more draconian controls.

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White Man's Burden
by Ari Shavit
February 25, 2005

The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history. Two of them, journalists William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, say it's possible. But another journalist, Thomas Friedman (not part of the group), is skeptical

1. The doctrine

WASHINGTON - At the conclusion of its second week, the war to liberate Iraq wasn't looking good. Not even in Washington. The assumption of a swift collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime had itself collapsed. The presupposition that the Iraqi dictatorship would crumble as soon as mighty America entered the country proved unfounded. The Shi'ites didn't rise up, the Sunnis fought fiercely. Iraqi guerrilla warfare found the American generals unprepared and endangered their overextended supply lines. Nevertheless, 70 percent of the American people continued to support the war; 60 percent thought victory was certain; 74 percent expressed confidence in President George W. Bush. [...]

In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in the town: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that political ideas are a major driving force of history. They believe that the right political idea entails a fusion of morality and force, human rights and grit. The philosophical underpinnings of the Washington neoconservatives are the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Edmund Burke. They also admire Winston Churchill and the policy pursued by Ronald Reagan. They tend to read reality in terms of the failure of the 1930s (Munich) versus the success of the 1980s (the fall of the Berlin Wall).

Are they wrong? Have they committed an act of folly in leading Washington to Baghdad? They don't think so. They continue to cling to their belief. They are still pretending that everything is more or less fine. That things will work out. Occasionally, though, they seem to break out in a cold sweat. This is no longer an academic exercise, one of them says, we are responsible for what is happening. The ideas we put forward are now affecting the lives of millions of people. So there are moments when you're scared. You say, Hell, we came to help, but maybe we made a mistake.

2. William Kristol

Has America bitten off more than it can chew? Bill Kristol says no. True, the press is very negative, but when you examine the facts in the field you see that there is no terrorism, no mass destruction, no attacks on Israel. The oil fields in the south have been saved, air control has been achieved, American forces are deployed 50 miles from Baghdad. So, even if mistakes were made here and there, they are not serious. America is big enough to handle that. Kristol hasn't the slightest doubt that in the end, General Tommy Franks will achieve his goals. The 4th Cavalry Division will soon enter the fray, and another division is on its way from Texas. So it's possible that instead of an elegant war with 60 killed in two weeks it will be a less elegant affair with a thousand killed in two months, but nevertheless Bill Kristol has no doubt at all that the Iraq Liberation War is a just war, an obligatory war. [...]

What is the war about? I ask. Kristol replies that at one level it is the war that George Bush is talking about: a war against a brutal regime that has in its possession weapons of mass destruction. But at a deeper level it is a greater war, for the shaping of a new Middle East. [...]

Does that mean that the war in Iraq is effectively a neoconservative war? That's what people are saying, Kristol replies, laughing. But the truth is that it's an American war. The neoconservatives succeeded because they touched the bedrock of America. [...]

It has to be understood that in the final analysis, the stability that the corrupt Arab despots are offering is illusory. Just as the stability that Yitzhak Rabin received from Yasser Arafat was illusory. In the end, none of these decadent dictatorships will endure. The choice is between extremist Islam, secular fascism or democracy. And because of September 11, American understands that. America is in a position where it has no choice. It is obliged to be far more aggressive in promoting democracy. Hence this war. It's based on the new American understanding that if the United States does not shape the world in its image, the world will shape the United States in its own image.

3. Charles Krauthammer

Is this going to turn into a second Vietnam? Charles Krauthammer says no. There is no similarity to Vietnam. Unlike in the 1960s, there is no anti-establishment subculture in the United States now. Unlike in the 1960s, there is now an abiding love of the army in the United States. Unlike in the 1960s, there is a determined president, one with character, in the White House. And unlike in the 1960s, Americans are not deterred from making sacrifices. That is the sea-change that took place here on September 11, 2001. Since that morning, Americans have understood that if they don't act now and if weapons of mass destruction reach extremist terrorist organizations, millions of Americans will die. Therefore, because they understand that those others want to kill them by the millions, the Americans prefer to take to the field of battle and fight, rather than sit idly by and die at home. [...]

What is the war about? It's about three different issues. First of all, this is a war for disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. That's the basis, the self-evident cause, and it is also sufficient cause in itself. But beyond that, the war in Iraq is being fought to replace the demonic deal America cut with the Arab world decades ago. That deal said: you will send us oil and we will not intervene in your internal affairs. Send us oil and we will not demand from you what we are demanding of Chile, the Philippines, Korea and South Africa. [...]

It's an ambitious experiment, Krauthammer admits, maybe even utopian, but not unrealistic. After all, it is inconceivable to accept the racist assumption that the Arabs are different from all other human beings, that the Arabs are incapable of conducting a democratic way of life. [...]

Isn't the idea of preemptive war a dangerous one that rattles the world order?

There is no choice, Krauthammer replies. In the 21st century we face a new and singular challenge: the democratization of mass destruction. There are three possible strategies in the face of that challenge: appeasement, deterrence and preemption. Because appeasement and deterrence will not work, preemption is the only strategy left. The United States must implement an aggressive policy of preemption. Which is exactly what it is now doing in Iraq. That is what Tommy Franks' soldiers are doing as we speak.

And what if the experiment fails? What if America is defeated? [...]

You don't really want to think about what will happen, Krauthammer says looking me straight in the eye. But just because that's so, I am positive we will not lose. Because the administration understands the implications. The president understands that everything is riding on this. So he will throw everything we've got into this. He will do everything that has to be done. George W. Bush will not let America lose.

4. Thomas Friedman

Is this an American Lebanon War? Tom Friedman says he is afraid it is. He was there, in the Commodore Hotel in Beirut, in the summer of 1982, and he remembers it well. So he sees the lines of resemblance clearly. General Ahmed Chalabi (the Shi'ite leader that the neoconservatives want to install as the leader of a free Iraq) in the role of Bashir Jemayel. The Iraqi opposition in the role of the Phalange. Richard Perle and the conservative circle around him as Ariel Sharon. And a war that is at bottom a war of choice. A war that wants to utilize massive force in order to establish a new order. [...]

This is not an illegitimate war, Friedman says. But it is a very presumptuous war. You need a great deal of presumption to believe that you can rebuild a country half a world from home. But if such a presumptuous war is to have a chance, it needs international support. That international legitimacy is essential so you will have enough time and space to execute your presumptuous project. But George Bush didn't have the patience to glean international support. [...]

When I think about what is going to happen, I break into a sweat, Friedman says. I see us being forced to impose a siege on Baghdad. And I know what kind of insanity a siege on Baghdad can unleash. The thought of house-to-house combat in Baghdad without international legitimacy makes me lose my appetite. I see American embassies burning. I see windows of American businesses shattered. I see how the Iraqi resistance to America connects to the general Arab resistance to America and the worldwide resistance to America. The thought of what could happen is eating me up.

What George Bush did, Friedman says, is to show us a splendid mahogany table: the new democratic Iraq. But when you turn the table over, you see that it has only one leg. This war is resting on one leg. But on the other hand, anyone who thinks he can defeat George Bush had better think again. Bush will never give in. That's not what he's made of. Believe me, you don't want to be next to this guy when he thinks he's being backed into a corner. I don't suggest that anyone who holds his life dear mess with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush.

Is the Iraq war the great neoconservative war? It's the war the neoconservatives wanted, Friedman says. It's the war the neoconservatives marketed. Those people had an idea to sell when September 11 came, and they sold it. Oh boy, did they sell it. So this is not a war that the masses demanded. This is a war of an elite. Friedman laughs: I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened.

Still, it's not all that simple, Friedman retracts. It's not some fantasy the neoconservatives invented. It's not that 25 people hijacked America. You don't take such a great nation into such a great adventure with Bill Kristol and the Weekly Standard and another five or six influential columnists. In the final analysis, what fomented the war is America's over-reaction to September 11. The genuine sense of anxiety that spread in America after September 11. It is not only the neoconservatives who led us to the outskirts of Baghdad. What led us to the outskirts of Baghdad is a very American combination of anxiety and hubris.

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NATO Wants to Work With Israel Military
By PETER ENAV, Associated Press Writer
Thu Feb 24, 9:01 AM ET

TEL AVIV, Israel - NATO wants to increase its military cooperation with Israel, especially in the areas of sharing intelligence and fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the alliance's secretary general said Thursday.

But in an interview published in Israel's Haaretz daily on Thursday, Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was quoted as saying that NATO's recent focus on the Mediterranean Dialogue, a forum of Israel and six Arab countries, is not "designed as a first step to a future membership."

In recent months, Israel has expressed an interest in joining the 26-member alliance, but Arab countries would not look favorably upon such a partnership without an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. [...]

Israel currently participates in several NATO forums and in recent months participated for the first time in joint military exercises. The cooperation also includes intelligence-sharing and consultancy on security issues.

De Hoop Scheffer told Haaretz his arrival in Israel late Wednesday and meetings Thursday with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom are intended to enhance "the political and practical dimensions" of NATO's dialogue with Mideast countries.

Israel is interested in "moving from a relation of dialogue to a relation of partnership," Shalom said after meeting de Hoop Scheffer in Tel Aviv. [...]

Comment: Israel's desire to be included in NATO is ostensibly for the purposes of sharing intelligence and preventing the proliferation of WMD's. Israel's latest move sheds new light on Bush's push for full, unquestioning EU participation in NATO instead of the formation of a powerful and independent joint EU military force.

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Israel: London summit should not exert pressure 2005-02-25 17:56:45
JERUSALEM, Feb. 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's associates have warned that next week's London summit on building the Palestinian National Authority should not be used as a forum to put pressure on Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported on Friday.

Sharon's associates said they were concerned that Arab and European countries attending the summit would steer it away from its objective of helping the Palestinian economy after

Israel reached an understanding two months ago with British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Israel would not attend the summit but would be involved in drafting the summit's final conclusion. [...]

Sharon has strongly objected to Israel's presence at the summit, fearing it would be transformed into an international peace conference that would try to coerce Israel into positions it does not agree with.

The British government has promised to coordinate the summit's closing statement and to refrain from exerting pressure on Israel on sensitive topics, such as a Palestinian demand to renew the final status peace negotiation immediately after an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

Comment: Israel does not negotiate. It will watch from on high, descending at the last minute to make certain that the final communique says nothing with which they do not agree.

Israel will sit on the sidelines while the Western countries offer to pay for the destruction wrought by Israel since the start of the second Intifada, provoked by the visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in September 2000. After the signing of the Oslo Accords, the West pumped large amounts of money into the Gaza Strip and West Bank in order to prepare for and consolidate the Palestinian Authority. Israel has bombed it out, and now the West steps in to pick up the tab.

Remember not so long ago when Sharon was having Palestinian police stations bombed at the same time he was telling Arafat to control his people? Very convenient for Israel, very expensive for the West, and worse than a pointless merry-go-round for the Palestinians who end up further back than where they started, with family, friends, and children dead and their society being goaded into civil war by Israel.

If they manage to avoid civil war, will the peace they have imposed upon them be a peace wherein a Palestinian future is guaranteed?

Not too likely, as the ultimate aim of Zionism is to wipe them out completely, along with the "second-class Jews" - that is, the real Semitic Jews, not the Aryans.

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Israel warns of possible attacks on Temple Mount 2005-02-25 06:25:52
JERUSALEM, Feb. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli Deputy Internal Security Minister Yaacov Edri on Thursday warned that Jewish extremists might attack the Temple Mount to thwart the implementation of Gaza pullout plan.

Edri was quoted by local newspaper Ha'artez as saying that Israeli police have recently stepped up presence around the Temple Mount.

"The closer we get to the disengagement plan, the more the threats will grow," Edri said.

Comment: The existence of a settler movement in Israel, that is, of American Jews imported from places like Brooklyn who have a position that appears to be even further to the right than Sharon, is a convenient ploy. It makes Sharon look like a statesman!

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Israeli PM labels French 'pro-Arab'
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon charged that the French were pro-Arab in an interview broadcast Wednesday by his country's privately run second television channel.

Asked why relations had deteriorated when France had provided so much assistance to the Jewish state in its first two decades of existence after 1948, Sharon said bluntly: "First and foremost because the French are pro-Arab.

"One of the strangest things is that France refuses to consider (the Lebanese Shiite militia) Hezbollah a terrrorist organisation when it's one of the most dangerous in the world," the prime minister continued.

Sharon was referring to a February 14 meeting between his foreign
minister, Silvan Shalom, and French President Jacques Chirac at which the latter insisted that the Hezbollah question was a "complex" one which needed to be studied "in all its aspects."

France was a leading Israeli arms supplier up to the 1967 Middle East war, after which it took a more critical position.

Comment: For Israel and its supporters, any country that doesn't kowtow to Israeli dishonesty, murder, and self-righteousness, or begins to see through the litany of "poor, little, us" excuses, becomes the target of accusations of being "anti-Semitic". Notice how in the last years France is being accused of rising levels of anti-Semitism as Israeli supporters conjure up images of the 1930's.

Trouble is, times have changed and the tyranny people need to fight against is a pincer movement coming out of the United States and Israel. Freedom for both Bush and Sharon is the freedom of their two countries to dictate to the rest of us, the freedom for them to do what they wish in spite of international law and public outrage. The only means at hand to respond to these lies are forums such as this where the Truth can be told - because there is no other weapon as strong as the Truth.

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Israel to Annex 7% of West Bank, 2 Colony Blocs
By: Palestine Media Center

Israel's cabinet is expected on Sunday to endorse a change to the route of the Apartheid Wall, which the Jewish state is building on occupied Palestinian land, to incorporate 7% of the West Bank area and the illegal Jewish settlements of Maale Adumin and Gush Etzion, east and south of Jerusalem. [...]

The Israeli government's second-in-command Shimon Peres said Friday February 18 that ministers of his center-left Labor party would vote in favor of the revised path as he underscored that, contrary to Palestinian fears, the Wall would not lead "to a de facto annexation of the territories."

Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper reported Friday that the Israeli cabinet was considering the route change and the unilateral plan for "disengaging" Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and illegal Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip together in a bid to divert world attention away from the Wall, which the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled "illegal" in July 2004.

The United Nations General Assembly had shortly adopted the ICJ's ruling.

Ha'aretz said the modified path of the West Bank Wall would annex to the Jewish state around seven percent of the occupied West Bank, excluding occupied east Jerusalem, compared with 16 percent initially.

With the new path, Israel's Premier Ariel Sharon will be keeping his promise to consolidate the illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank as the Wall will incorporate the large settlement of "Maale Adumin", housing 25,000 Jews and some 10 kilometers (six miles) from Jerusalem, as well as the "Gush Etzion" bloc south of Jerusalem. [...]

The incorporation of "Maale Adumin" and "Gush Etzion" is aimed at appeasing Jewish settlers, most of whom are opposed to the Gaza pullout. [...]

Israel plans to build a new illegal Jewish settlement named "Gvaot," as an expansion of "Gush Etzion", Israeli officials told Reuters Tuesday. [...]

EU Calls on Israel to Suspend Work on Wall

A European humanitarian official called on Israel, February 17, to suspend work on its West Bank Wall in light of the truce deal reached with the Palestinians.

"If the barrier is about security and there is now a ceasefire, Israel should suspend its construction as a show of goodwill to the Palestinians," the head of the European Commission's humanitarian aid department for the Middle East and Mediterranean countries told AFP. [...]

Comment: Here is what is going on in the run-up to the London conference. Israel is continuing to steal land and flaunt international law. Why should it change a winning strategy? Who is there to tell it to stop?

And there are people who think that we are somehow closer to peace now than we were prior to the death of Yasser Arafat?

That is nothing but media hot air.

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Jewish settlers poison Palestinian village water supply

Feb 21, 2005, 17:27

Al-Khalil - The inhabitants of a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank are appealing to the world community to exert pressure on Israel to put an end to the recurrent poisoning of their only water supply source by Jewish settlers.

Last week, heavily-armed settlers from the illegal colony of Yitzhar, near Nablus, vandalized and sabotaged the sole water supply source upon which the nearby village of Madama depends.

The latest sabotage and poisoning is the seventh of its kind during the past three years according to village officials.

Yitzhar was established more than 20 years ago on confiscated land belonging to the people of Madama and is inhabited by pugnacious Talmudic settlers seeking to expel non-Jews from Palestine and Israel.

According to Madama's local council head Ayed Kamal, Yetzhar has always been "a source of provocation, vandalism and organized terror."

"Our people are going through perpetual suffering at the hands of those criminals. They come in broad daylight and throw filthy material like diapers and poisonous substance inside the spring, and when we complain to the Israeli authorities, they tell us the army can't do anything about it," said during a telephone interview with PIC Monday. [...]

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ADL Dismayed By World Council of Churches Decision to Pursue Divestment As Means to Punish Israel
February 22, 2005

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply dismayed by a recommendation adopted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee encouraging its member churches to consider divesting from companies doing business in Israel, modeled after a similar measure being considered by the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The Central Committee, the main governing body of the WCC, approved the recommendation for a policy of "phased, selective divestment from multinational corporations involved in the (Israeli) occupation," at a meeting on February 21 in Geneva, Switzerland. [...]

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Dearborn student govt. pushes for Israel divestment
By Michael Kan, Daily News Editor
Michigan Daily
February 24, 2005

While campaigns to divest from Israel at the University's Ann Arbor campus have so far gone nowhere, an outside initiative aims to ignite the movement once again. The student government of the University's Dearborn campus voted yesterday to recommend the University divest from companies involved with the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

Citing international organizations such as the United Nations, which have deemed the occupation illegal under international law, the Student Government Senate unanimously passed the resolution.

The resolution urges the University's Board of Regents - which presides over the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses - to establish a committee to investigate the moral implications of the University's investment in companies "which directly support and benefit from the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation."

Sponsored by the Dearborn campus's Arab Student Union, the resolution was introduced to SG yesterday through a presentation detailing the human rights violations and illegal practices of the Israeli occupation. [...]

Following the recommendation, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said administrators do not believe the financial investments in companies affiliated with the Israeli occupation represent a conflict of interest with the University's goals.

"The University has divested stock just twice in its history. These decisions were reached only after sustained, University-wide support," Peterson said in a written statement.

"In both instances, faculty-led committees prepared a compelling case that such investments were antithetical to the basic mission and values of the University. These conditions do not exist with respect to divestment from Israel, and there are no plans to ask the Board of Regents to pursue divestment." [...]

Comment: Supporting a country conducting an occupation that is illegal under international law is not antithetical to the mission and values of the University?? Then again, we're talking about a university in the US, which just happens to be illegally occupying Iraq...

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Bird flu detected in Vietnamese man
ABC Radio Australia
25/02/2005, 18:55:07

A Vietnamese man has tested positive for bird flu, becoming the first human case identified in the country in more than three weeks.

The 21-year-old is being treated in the capital, Hanoi's Institute of Tropical Diseases for severe respiratory difficulties.

His sister has also been admitted to hospital for tests, after she came down with a high fever.

Several outbreaks of bird flu have killed 33 people in Vietnam since late 2003.

Another 12 have died in Thailand. [...]

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Hundreds of millions of dollars needed to fight bird flu
Friday February 25, 8:01 PM

Bird flu has cost 10 billion dollars in agricultural losses and the world needs to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more to combat it, health experts said at a conference.

Samuel Jutzi, the Food and Agriculture Organisation's director of animal production and health told a press briefing "the global cost of the avian epidemic to agriculture is about 10 billion dollars ... so far."

"More than hundred million dollars would be needed to urgently strengthen animal health services and laboratories to improve virus detection and its ultimate eradication," he said Friday.

In addition, several hundred million dollars would be required to finance the restocking of infected poultry flocks and to restructure the whole sector. [...]

Delegations from more than 20 countries and organisations, including major donors and United Nations agencies, were at the meeting held in Vietnam's southern business capital.

A US delegate at the conference gave a guarded response to the request for funds.

"If there are specific requests, we are willing to entertain them," said Joseph Annelli, an official form the American Department of Agriculture. I haven't seen any of the specifics behind that so I can't comment on that." [...]

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Asia banks 'will not dump any dollars'
By Steve Johnson and Chris Giles
Financial Times
February 23 2005 20:16

The dollar stabilised on foreign exchange markets on Wednesday after policy makers sought to banish the idea that Asian central banks might diversify their reserves from US dollar assets. Despite their comments, the currency clawed back only a fraction of Tuesday's losses, recovering 0.3 per cent to $1.322 to the euro and 0.9 per cent to Y104.9 ($1.01) against the yen and highlighting continued nervousness in the currency markets.

The Bank of Korea said that while it was planning to diversify more of its reserves into higher yielding non-government bonds, it was not planning to sell existing dollar holdings.

US officials also sought to calm fears. Travelling with George W. Bush in Germany, Stephen Hadley, national security adviser, said: "There's no news about making adjustments in holdings; banks do that."

Japan, which has the world's largest foreign exchange reserves - $841bn as of the end of January - reiterated it does not intend to sell dollars. And Taiwan, with $243bn of reserves, said it had not been selling dollars.

But analysts questioned the appetite for funding a US current account deficit of $2bn a day, 83 per cent of which was financed by central banks in 2003.

"Nobody is suggesting [central banks] sell dollars, but all they have to do is buy fewer dollars and that will put downward pressure on the dollar," said Tony Norfield, global head of foreign exchange strategy at ABN Amro.

One senior strategist at a large bank said: "I don't think the market has been reassured. Diversification has to be on the agenda, central banks just don't want to make a song and dance about it." The BoK told the FT that around 70 per cent of its $200bn of forex reserves were invested in dollar-denominated assets.

Comment: Funny that this article makes no mention of China. It is also interesting that this article came one day after the following report, which claims that South Korea and Taiwan are already dumping their dollars:

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U.S. dollar falling hard and fast
Wshington Times
Feb. 22, 2005

London, England -- South Korea's decision to sell most of its U.S. government bonds triggered similar moves in East Asia and hammered the U.S. currency's value.

South Korea's action was mimicked by at least Taiwan, another economy that holds a huge amount of U.S. government debt, sending the dollar to new lows, CNN reported Tuesday.

In London, the euro soared against the dollar to $1.3216, up from $1.3065 late Monday, as the dollar sank against Japan's yen 103.87 from 105.57. [...]

Numerous economists have been warning the U.S. balance of payments deficit and budget deficit, both at record levels, are exposing the dollar to extreme downward pressure.

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Warning from the markets
Friday, February 25, 2005

When a seemingly innocuous remark from the central bank of South Korea makes the dollar tank, as happened on Tuesday, all is not well with the United States' position in the world economy.

The dollar has been on a downward trajectory for three years, thanks in part to the Bush administration's decision to try to use a cheap dollar to shrink the nation's enormous trade deficit. To be truly effective, however, a weak dollar must be combined with a lower federal budget deficit - or even a budget surplus, something the administration clearly hasn't delivered. So predictably, the weak-dollar ploy hasn't worked. The United States' trade deficit has mushroomed to record levels, as has the United States' need to borrow from abroad - some $2 billion a day - just to balance its books.

Enter South Korea. On Monday, its central bank reported that it intended to diversify into other currencies and away from dollar-based assets. And why not? It holds about $69 billion in U.S. Treasury securities, or 4 percent of the total foreign Treasury holdings. Such dollar-based investments lose value as the dollar weakens, leading to losses that any cautious banker would want to avoid. But as the Korean comment ping-ponged around the world, all hell broke loose, with currency traders selling dollars for fear that the central banks of Japan and China, which hold immense dollar reserves - a combined $900 billion, or 46 percent of foreign Treasury holdings - might follow suit.

That would be the United States' worst economic nightmare. If it appeared that the flow of investment from abroad was not enough to cover the nation's gargantuan deficits, interest rates would soar, the dollar would plunge, and the economy would stall.

Tuesday's sell-off of dollars did not precipitate a meltdown. But it sure gave a taste of one. The dollar suffered its worst single-day decline in two months against the yen and the euro. Stock markets in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt, Germany, dropped, and gold and oil prices, which tend to go up when the dollar goes down, spiked.

Luckily, the markets calmed down Wednesday, as Asian central banks said they did not intend to shun dollars. While such damage control is welcome, it's no fix. [...]

Comment: Perhaps this event was simply another testing of the waters. Nevertheless, the fact remains that no amount of damage control will stop the US economy from crashing unless serious changes are made to the nation's economic policies. Bush has proven time and gain that while he is at America's helm, those necessary changes will never happen.

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Growing Protest Movement Too Much for Revenuers
By John Tiffany

The Internal Revenue Service seems to be having a tough time keeping up with the growing number of Americans who question the validity of the income tax and refuse to pay. The recent court case of a California manufacturer charged with failing to withhold income taxes from employees' paychecks signals a new trend that federal authorities would like to quash. But it may be too difficult to stop now. [...]

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Gunman Kills 2 Outside Texas Courthouse
By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer
Thu Feb 24, 6:50 PM ET

TYLER, Texas - A man with a high-powered rifle opened fire Thursday in a historic town square, killing his ex-wife and another man before he was shot to death.

The gunman, David Hernandez Arroyo Sr., also wounded four people during the rampage, including three law officers and his son. Authorities said the man apparently was angry about a dispute over child support.

Witnesses said he started firing at the back of the courthouse in Tyler's town square and then appeared to be shooting indiscriminately. [...]

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Police: Teen Hit With Taser After Biting Officer
POSTED: 4:44 pm EST February 24, 2005

CINCINNATI -- Police are at the scene of a Taser gun incident at a local hospital Thursday afternoon.

Investigators said a 16-year-old girl was visiting her mother at Christ Hospital at about 4:15 p.m. when security officers asked her to leave. When she refused, police officers were called to the scene and the girl was told that she would be arrested for trespassing.

The girl became agitated and difficult to control when police arrived. She began fighting with an officer and she bit him in the forearm, News 5's Juliette Vara reported.

The police officer then hit her with a Taser.

Officials said the girl is in custody and the injured officer was taken to University Hospital.

Police are trying to interview girl, who is being uncooperative, Vara reported

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Crowd attacks 2 officers
The Leaf-Chronicle

Residents say patrolmen used excessive force arresting teen

What began as a complaint of vandalism Tuesday evening on Caldwell Lane ended with an angry crowd hurling objects and profanities at police officers.

Now people in the neighborhood are complaining the officers' use of a Taser gun and pepper spray were unnecessarily extreme.

"I felt like police took it a little too far - especially with a minor," said Krystal Meriwether, a Caldwell Lane resident. "They just snatched him off the porch. If it was my child, the police department would have a lawsuit on their hands." [...]

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Tornado drill sweeps area schools
By Matt Tuck/Rome News-Tribune Staff Writer
Fifth-graders at Garden Lakes Elementary take part in a tornado drill and fear conditioning exercise Wednesday.

(Georgia) - Most of Floyd County survived Monday's thunderstorm relatively unscathed, but emergency officials said it was a reminder that dangerous weather can strike any time.

"This is severe weather week, and March, April and May are the three months traditionally with the worst weather," said Tracy Hardy, Floyd County Emergency Management Agency training officer. "Now is a good time to have a disaster plan before bad weather gets here."

Wednesday morning there was a statewide tornado drill, and Hardy said the Floyd County area responded well. "We called the schools and nursing homes after it was over, and most of them did very well. We had a few difficulties - one person said their weather radio was unplugged - but that's what we do it for," he said. "The biggest thing is for people to take responsibility now before we have bad weather."

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Earthquake jolts Indonesian island
From correspondents in Jakarta
February 25, 2005
From: Agence France-Presse

A POWERFUL earthquake today was recorded off the same Indonesian island where a massive quake in December led to tsunamis which killed almost 300,000 people in Asia and Africa, a seismologist said.

The quake, measuring 6.0 on the Richter Scale, was recorded near Simeulue Island, part of Indonesia's Aceh province which suffered the heaviest casualties in the December 26 disaster, the Meteorology and Geophysics Bureau in the Acehnese capital, Banda Aceh, said.

There were no reports of damage or casualties from the quake centred 314 kilometres west of Banda Aceh, he said.

Simuelue, in the Indian Ocean, was the closest point to the December quake which measured 9.0 on the Richter Scale and created the deadly tsunamis.

But only seven of Simuelue's more than 78,000 residents died, partly because the island had experienced a tsunami almost 100 years earlier and they ran to the hills, the local government chief has said.

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Magnitude 5.1 Quake - NORTHERN COLOMBIA
2005 February 25 06:41:24 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 06:41:24 (UTC) on Friday, February 25, 2005. The magnitude 5.1 event has been located in NORTHERN COLOMBIA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 162 km (101 miles).

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2005 February 25 13:31:15 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 13:31:15 (UTC) on Friday, February 25, 2005. The magnitude 5.4 event has been located in the NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION.

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