Saturday, February 26, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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The Mechanical Popularity Of Lies
Jim Meigs - some 'conspiracy nuts' took a pot shot at one of the sacred cows he shares with millions of his fellow Americans, and he got so worked up that he commissioned an article and published it on Popular Mechanics to calm himself down. He feels better now, especially since he has been on CNN to talk about it too.

In case you didn't hear, the materialistically-obsessed people over at Popular Mechanics, under the tutelage of Editor in Chief Jim "Oh look, a tank!" Meigs, assembled a team of researchers, including "professional fact checkers" (impressive eh?) to debunk the 16 most common claims made by conspiracy theorists about 9/11.

Praise the Lord! The truth can't be far behind.

Unsurprisingly, the PM editors claim that, in the end: "we were able to debunk each of these assertions with hard evidence and a healthy dose of common sense. We learned that a few theories are based on something as innocent as a reporting error on that chaotic day. Others are the byproducts of cynical imaginations that aim to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate."

In fact, at most 3 of the 16 claims could have been the result of "reporting error", forcing us to assume that, in the razor-like emotionally unclouded cerebrum of Jim Meigs, at least 13 of the conspiracy claims about 9/11 are the result of "cynical imaginations aiming to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate".

Those dirty, cynical, animosity and suspicion-injecting conspiracy theorists! WHY!? Why do they do it! There really should be a law! Well, don't fret Jim, we hear there's one in the pipeline.

The sad fact is that, while Popular Mechanics claims to be interested in understanding what really happened that day, their rebuttal of 16 of the most common claims by conspiracy theorists about 9/11 isn't worth the $3.57 of server space that it has so far cost them to publish it.

If there is one glaring and common hole in the arguments put forward by 9/11 conspiracy "debunkers", it is the fact that such people have NEVER come up with a reasonable argument to explain WHY, in the wake of 9/11, so many obviously intelligent citizens became gripped by the uncontrollable urge to continually waste their time recklessly and fecklessly "injecting suspicion and animosity into public debate" for no apparent reason. It really is a mystery. Maybe they're trying to take over the world or something.

On the other hand, it doesn't take a degree in psychology to understand the primary motivations of the conspiracy debunkers.

You see, the very last thing that many Americans (and others) WANT to believe is that their government would attack its own people. For 9/11 "debunkers", logic and intellect have NO part to play in investigating the question of what really happened on 9/11. It's pure emotion all the way.

In the beginning, on the morning of September 11, 2001 we were all united in our emotional reactions: shock, horror, grief - and jubilation from a bunch of Israeli Mossad agents. As the emotion subsided, most went on with their lives, but a few stood on, brows furrowed, scratching their heads. After considerable digging and research, it became obvious that the official story did not answer all of the questions, and the fact that officials were refusing to answer those outstanding questions, gave rise, logically enough, to a conspiracy theory. Not long thereafter, the debunkers stepped in, NOT because they had the answers to the outstanding questions, but because they had their emotional buttons severely poked by the fact that someone was saying that their government was lying!

You see the problem here. Kind of frustrating, isn't it?

Sadly, the editors at PM are no different, and their little fear-inspired rebuttal of 9/11 conspiracy theories is of little actual use to ANYONE, least of all to those who really do want to know the truth of 9/11. Far from approaching the matter with an open mind (which is crucial in any attempt to find the truth) , it is clear that Popular Mechanics' "professional fact checkers" BEGAN with the premise that the US government was NOT lying about the main events of 9/11.

From there, the objectivity and integrity of their research went sharply downhill as they busied themselves with hunting down the VERY SAME SOURCES THAT PROVIDED THE OFFICIAL STORY to confirm that the official story was in fact correct. Apparently, in debunkerland, it is completely reasonable to ask US government representatives to testify that the US government is squeaky clean and then present that evidence as "fact". It is also kosher, we assume, to have a murder suspect double as a credible court's witness in a murder trial.

For those of you who have looked unemotionally at the events of 9/11, it is not unusual to be left wondering how those members of the US government who were clearly complicit in the murder of 3,000 of their own citizens can remain so smug and seemingly self-assured. To find the answer we need look no further than the Jim Meigs' of this world.

You see, it is people like Meigs who lack any love or appreciation for the truth and worship only their subjective view of the world that make it so easy for big government to commit big crime. At present there are millions of Americans and others around the world who, aided by the years of social conditioning and media mind programming, drew a very clear line around what they would and would not believe about their government and country. Most of what was inside the line was "feel good" stuff about "greatest democracy on earth" and other jingoistic nonsense, with perhaps a few admissions that "sometimes bad things happen" and "not everyone is a saint". This mindset provided (and continues to provide) a perfect opportunity for unscrupulous US politicians to literally get away with the murder of which most of the US public refuse to believe they were capable.

The result is that for all intents and purposes, today there are two Americas:

- The America of the average American citizen which is little more than a government-provided dream world

- The real America of the corrupt politicians and the select few who run the country, and much of the world

Luckily for the select few, this second, real America just happens to lie outside of what many ordinary Americans are willing or able to believe is possible. Lest anyone think otherwise, the setting up of any accusation against government as being the domain of "conspiracy nuts" is not the result of pure coincidence. Conspiracy theories are as old as the first lie ever told, and the subsequent attempts by the liar to avoid exposure. Most people think that "conspiracy theories" are made up by "conspiracy theorists", but the term "conspiracy theory" is most often used by those people who have most to gain from the ridicule of the allegations that are directed at them. The tactic has been used to such great effect over the years that certain high crimes committed by government have become the touchstone by which all other "conspiracies" are measured.

Take the folks at Popular Mechanics. In dealing with 9/11 they simply couldn't resist referencing that other most despicable crime committed by a US government - but of course, to them it just another "theory":

Don't get me wrong: Healthy skepticism is a good thing. Nobody should take everything they hear--from the government, the media or anybody else--at face value. But in a culture shaped by Oliver Stone movies and "X-Files" episodes, it is apparently getting harder for simple, hard facts to hold their own against elaborate, shadowy theorizing.

Did you catch it? The reference to Oliver Stone can mean only one thing: Jim's "fact checkers" contacted the CIA and they told him straight up that some bullets really can do magic things.

In closing, if you happen to stop by at the sorry article in question, don't be fooled or intimidated by the word "SCIENCE" in big bold letters on the Popular Mechanics page. In Europe, McDonald's drink cups have the words "I'm loving it" emblazoned across them in various languages, regardless of what you put in them.

Credit by association or juxtaposition is one of the oldest tricks in the book of mass mind programming. Just because "they" say it, don't make it so. This simple, logical statement is a salient lesson for us all in these heady days where disinformation masquerades as truth and even "innocent" fun-loving "boys with toys" have become obedient workers in the lie factory.

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Five killed, 30 hurt as suicide bomber attacks Israeli nightclub

A PALESTINIAN suicide bomber killed at least five people and injured more than 30 at a nightclub in Tel Aviv last night, shattering a de facto truce by militants that had raised hopes of a peace deal being struck in the Middle East.

The Islamic Jihad faction initially claimed responsibility for the blast, but militants in the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a group with ties to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, said the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah was involved.

The various militant groups behind suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel in a four and a half year old uprising have followed a de facto truce for several weeks.

But they had said they were not bound by the ceasefire agreed by Palestinian president Abbas and the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, at a summit in Egypt on 8 February.

The new attack will seriously damage hopes for some kind of Middle East peace deal that have been growing since president Abbas and prime minister Sharon met. [...]

Israeli television showed hundreds of people milling about the area, as rescuers took away people in stretchers.

One woman sat bloody and dazed in a wheelchair as she was wheeled off.

The Tel Aviv promenade where The Stage nightclub is located has been hit before by Palestinian militants, including explosions outside the Dolphinarium disco and Mike's Place, a popular pub.

Palestinian officials immediately condemned the attack.

"Whoever is behind it is seriously attempting to sabotage the efforts being exerted to revive the peace process, and should not be allowed to succeed," said the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat.

An Israeli official said the latest attack showed the need for the Palestinians to "dismantle terror groups".

"Without dismantling the terror groups there will be no progress in the region," said a senior foreign ministry official, Gideon Meir.

Comment: If their goal was to provoke hair-yanking exasperation in the authors of this page then they have achieved it. Please, tell us how it is possible that any remotely intelligent being could, even for one second, entertain the idea that a genuine Palestinian group carried out the "suicide" attack in Israel last night? Do we really need to even say it? Is it not SCREAMINGLY obvious?? WHO has made a permanent threat from Palestinian "terrorism" its reason for existing? WHO benefits most from the demonising of Palestinians and Arabs as "crazed suicide bombers"? WHO has scuppered every Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative brought to the table? WHO has been caught red-handed on many occasions carrying out False Flag operations? WHO was caught trying to recruit Palestinians to join "al-Qaeda"?



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Several killed in Tel Aviv disco blast
Saturday 26 February 2005

A blast has ripped through a seaside discotheque in Tel Aviv, killing at least four people and wounding another 50.

Tel Aviv's police chief David Tzur said the attack late on Friday took place at the entrance to the disco, called The Stage.

"A single terrorist exploded in a line of people waiting to get into the club," Tzur said.

Islamic Jihad, Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - an offshoot of the mainstream Fatah movement - all have denied responsibility for the explosion.

Some Israeli security sources have suggested that the Lebanese Hizb Allah might be to blame for the attack, Aljazeera reported on Saturday. [...]

Chief Palestinian neogiator Saib Uraiqat also condemned the attack, saying it undermined Palestinian interests, but appealed to the international community to ensure that Israel did not use the attack as an excuse to launch a major operation in occupied territories.

"We are asking the international community to move immediately to ensure that Israel does not use this kind of operation as an excuse for aggressions against the Palestinian people," he said.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the resistance group Hamas, said the organisation was "fully observing the period of quiet as we told Abu Mazin (Mahmud Abbas) at our last meeting in Gaza".

Comment: In one report we are told it was Islamic Jihad, in another we are told all Palestinian groups denied responsibility. So who really was behind this attack, which comes at the worst possible time for Palestinians and the best possible time for Sharon?

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Hezbollah denies involvement in Tel Aviv suicide bombing
Sunday, February 27, 2005

Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah says it had nothing to do with an overnight suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed four Israelis and wounded 53 people.

"Hezbollah categorically denies the accusations of a supposed role by our movement in the Tel Aviv operation and considers them totally without basis," said a statement from the group.

Comment: At this rate, if some of the likely suspects don't accept the blame for Israel, Sharon will be forced to drag al-Qaeda into the picture in an attempt to ensure that the blame at least stays with the Arab world. God forbid that anyone might come to the completely OBVIOUS conclusion that ISRAEL DID IT!

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Neo-Cons, Israeli Lobby Declare War on Putin
By Michael Collins Piper
Author of "Final Judgment: The Mossad Role in the JFK Assassination Conspiracy" and "The High Priests of War"
Correspondent for American Free Press

America's neo-conservative elite and their collaborators in the pro-Israel lobby in Washington have fired a first shot in the opening guns of a new Cold War being launched against Russian Premier Vladimir Putin.

Although it hasn't been reported widely in the America mass media, Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), two of the Israeli lobby's leading congressional stalwarts, introduced a resolution in the Senate on February 19, condemning Putin and urging President Bush to push for suspending Russia's membership in the G-8 group of industrial nations.

Latching on to the president's emphatic declaration in his January 20 inaugural address of a new global campaign by the United States for the promotion of "democracy." Lieberman announced that "President Putin's assault on democracy in Russia violates the spirit of the industrialized democracies and the letter of Russia's obligations to the Group of Eight. We must openly confront anti-democratic backsliding in Russia for the sake of all those who look to the United States as a beacon for freedom." The resolution was designed to put President Bush on the spot, coming just as President Bush was preparing for his scheduled meeting with Putin in Slovakia on February 24.

The motivation for the effort by the neo-conservatives and their congressional spokesmen to undermine Putin is quite clear, inasmuch as Putin recently challenged Bush and Israel by daring to say publicly that he (Putin) does not believe that Iran is seeking to building nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

Although the burgeoning hostility against Putin by the neo-conservatives has been widely hashed over in small-circulation pro-Israel publications and American Jewish community newspapers on a regular basis, it has only been of recent date that mainstream publications such as The Washington Post and and The New York Times, to name the most prominent, have begun to echo those concerns about Putin, almost as if the big name dailies were taking the lead from the other journals. Increasingly, however, the word that "Putin is a possible enemy" is now being breached to the average American, through the outlets of the mass media.

Although Russia joined the G-8 nations (which includes Britain, Canada, Japan, France, Italy and Germany) in 2002, the companion resolutions in the Senate and the House ask the president to enlist the other G-8 countries to join with the United States in suspending Russia's G-8 membership until such time as President Bush decides that Russia is supposedly committed to so-called "democratic principles." [...]

Reflecting on the fact that the media was increasingly promoting hostility to Putin, American Free Press noted on October 25, 2004 that the media's primary concern about Putin stems from the fact that he has been moving against the handful of billionaire plutocrats in Russia (many of whom also hold Israeli citizenship) who grabbed control of the Russian economy with the open-connivance of then-Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, following the collapse of the old Soviet Union.

One American hard-line pro-Israel publication, The New Republic, raised the question on September 24, 2004: "Is Russia going fascist?" asserting that whether Putin personally remains in power or not, there is a growing movement "nationalist" in nature—that holds great sway among the Russian population. TNR expressed concern that "a fascist revolution" could be in the offing, meaning a movement hostile to the Israeli oligarchs (with international criminal connections) who rule the Russian economic scene. Likewise, much earlier, in his 1995 book, Russia: A Return to Imperialism, Boston-University-based Israeli academic Uri Ra'anan sounded the concern that post-Soviet Russia may pose a threat to the West. [...]

Essentially, with the American neo-conservatives (whose ideological godfathers are widely known as admitted ex-Trotskyite communists) now moving against Putin, it is as if we are seeing a rejuvenation of the war against Russian nationalism by the Trotskyites, retooled for 21st century geopolitical considerations. Now—unlike in the first half of the 20th century prior to the founding of the state of Israel—the central role of that Middle East state in the neo-conservative worldview cannot be understated, for the concern about Israel is a front-line consideration in the neo-conservative campaign against Putin.

Comment: What was ushered in after 9/11 as a war on "terror", stateless and ambiguous, is showing its true features: the preparations for war against Russia, China and the EU as potential competitors to US/Israeli hegemony.

Eleven years ago, this dark force of destruction manifested itself in the massacre at Hebron when an American Zionist occupier opened fire on praying Palestinians in a mosque. The late Prof. Israel Shahak, a sharp observer on Judaism and Zionism, offers his look at this dark force:

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Eleven Years Ago

Palestine Human Rights Information Center - PRELIMINARY INFORMATION - February 25, 1994

An Israeli settler wearing a military uniform, Baruch Goldstein, a well-known Kach leader and a physician from Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron, entered the Ibrahimi mosque and emptied two clips of a machinegun into Moslem worshippers during the dawn prayer. Initial casualty figures are unconfirmed because the Hebron area is under curfew and injured people have been transferred to more than six hospitals in the area. At least 48 were killed in the initial shooting (received by hospitals and confirmed by name), but estimates are that between 50 and 60 Palestinians may have been killed. More than 300 are injured. Some of them were critically injured by the high-velocity ammunition.

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The Ideology Behind Hebron Massacre
By Prof. Israel Shahak
Source: MEI, No. 471, 18 March 1994

It is wrong to assume that the mass murder in Hebron stemmed only from the opinions of a small group of extremists on the fringe of the Israeli political spectrum, the supporters of the late Meir Kahane. The ideology which inspired the killings is the same as that of the "Jewish Underground" of 1984. The members if this movement, who attempted to blow up the mosques of the Temple Mount, were caught red-handed while fixing bombs, timed to explode exactly on the beginning of the Sabbath, to nine Arab buses, so as to avoid the killing of any pious Jew. Daniel Ben-Simon (Davar, 27 February) quotes,for the first time, the real aims of the "Jewish Underground", and compares them with the better known aims of Kahane.

While interrogating one "Jewish Underground" member, the Shin Bet were stunned by the downright Satanic idea underlying the plan to demolish the mosques on the Temple Mount. As the man explained to his interrogators, "the demolition of these mosques would have infuriated all the hundreds of millions of Muslims in the world. Their rage would inevitably have led to a war which in all likelihood would have escalated into a world war. In such a war the scale of casualties would be formidable enough to promote the process of Redemption of the Jews and the Land of Israel. All the Muslims would by then disappear, which means that everything would be ready for the coming of the Messiah."

On the other hand, says Ben-Simon, "in one of his 12 books, Kahane justified the extermination of the Arabs as the surest way to bring about the "True Redemption of the Jews". The Redemption can occur in all its splendour, even right now, if all Jews resolve to keep the Commandments of the Lord. But the Redemption can also proceed through tragedy if the Jews refuse to obey the Lord. The difference is that True Redemption implies that the Jews cast away their fear of the Gentiles and fear only the Lord; which in turn means that they expel all the Arabs from the Land of Israel. So in order to bring on the Redemption we should expel all the Arabs."

The Philosophy of Gush Emunim

The sympathy which Baruch Goldstein enjoys among the Gush Emunim, whose influence is more pervasive than that of the Kahanists, can only be explained by a shared ideology. However, Gush Emunim leaders enjoy Rabin's friendship and strong influence in wide circles of the Israeli and diaspora Jewish communities. Therefore it is their version of this ideology which is more important. Gush Emunim's thinking assumes the imminence of the coming of the Messiah, when the Jews, aided by God, will triumph over the Gentiles. Consequently, all current political developments call be interpreted by those in the know as destined either to bring this end nearer or postpone it. Jewish sins, the worst of them being lack of faith in Gush Emunim ideology, can postpone but not alter the predestined course of Redemption. The two world wars, the Holocaust and other calamitous events of modern history serve as stock examples of such a curative punishment for Jewish sins. Such explanations can go into a lot of specific detail. The rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Dov Lior (who attended Goldstein's funeral and praised him), blamed Israel's relative failure in its 1982 invasion of Lebanon on the lack of faith manifested through signing a peace treaty with Egypt and "returning the inheritance of our ancestors [i.e Sinai] to strangers". I will proceed to quote from two English-language books on the subject: For the Land and the Lord, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, By Ian Lustick (Council on Foreign Relations, New York 1988), and the chapter on nationalist Judaism in Yehoshafat Harkabi's Israel Fateful Decisions (I.B.Tauris, London 1988, reviewed in MEI 331).

The fundamental tenet of Gush Emunim's thinking is the assumption that the Jewish people are "peculiar". Lustick discusses this tenet in terms of their denial of the classical Zionist claim that only by undergoing "a process of normalisation", by emigrating to Palestine and forming a Jewish state there, can the Jews become like any other nation. But for them this "is the original delusion of the secular Zionists", because they measured that "normality" by applying non-Jewish standards. According to Gush Emunim, "Jews are not and cannot be a normal people", because "their eternal uniqueness" is "the result of the covenant God made with them at Mount Sinai". Therefore, according to Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of their leaders, "while God requires other normal nations to abide by abstract codes of 'justice and righteousness', such laws do not apply to Jews".

Harkabi quotes Rabbi Israel Ariel, who says that "a Jew who kills a non-Jew is exempt from human judgement, and has not violated the prohibition of murder". The Gush Emunim rabbis have indeed reiterated that Jews who kill Arabs should be free from all punishment. Harkabi also quotes Rabbi Aviner, Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook and Rabbi Ariel, all three of whom say Arabs living in Palestine are thieves because since the land was once Jewish, all property to be found on that land "really" belongs to the Jews. In the original Hebrew version of his book Harkabi expresses his shock at finding this out. "I never imagined that Israelis would so interpret the concept of the historical right."

All we need is war

Let me omit the many other horrifying facets of Gush Emunim ideology except one comment of Harkabi which I find particularly prescient. Proponents of the view that due to God's help Israel is stronger than all other nations hold that "Israel need have no fear of future wars, and can even provoke them at will. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner wrote: "We must live in this land even at the price of war. Moreover, even if there is peace, we must instigate wars of liberation in order to conquer it."

It must be borne in mind that, for Gush Emunim, the "Jewish heritage" to be "liberated" is much greater than just Palestine. Rabbi Ariel was far-sighted enough to publish an atlas in which all the lands to be "liberated" (according to diverse rabbinical interpretations) are clearly marked. All the areas west and south of the Euphrates (i.e. including Kuwait) are included, and Ariel also shows rabbinical "interpretations" even more far-reaching than this unanimous view. Suppose Gush Emunim were ever able to use Israeli nuclear power. It is not difficult to guess what purpose it would be used for.

Harkabi and Lustick make it clear that Gush Emunim assumes that the reason for Arab hostility towards the Jews are theological in nature. Hence the conclusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict cannot he resolved politically. Lustick quotes a prominent rabbi, Eliezar Waldman, then a Knesset member, now the director of the main yeshiva in Kiryat Arba, who said "that by fighting the Arabs, Israel carries out its divine misssion to serve as the heart of the world" and to save it, "while Arab hostility springs like all anti-Semitism, from the world's recalcitrance" against being saved by the Jews, or even from Arabs seeding "to fulfil their collective death-wish".

Gush Emunim's plans for governing non-Jews in Israel are also based on "theological" principles. According to Rabbi Aviner; "Is there a difference between punishing an Arab child and an Arab adult for disturbance of our peace? Punishments can be inflicted on Jewish boys below the age of 13 and Jewish girls below the age of 12...But this rule applies to Jews alone, not to Gentiles. Thus any Gentile, no matter how little, should be punished for any crime he commits." From this dictum, it is only a short step to slaughtering Arab children.

Even Israel's Supreme Court compared Kahane to the German Nazis. The prominet Orthodox dissident, Professor Yeshayahu Leibovitz, said that the mass murder in Hebron was a consequence of "Judeo-Nazism". But Gush Emunim's ideology is no less like that of the Nazis than Kahane's.

Comment: When the IDF slaughters innocent Palestinian children on their way home from school, this is the ideology that justifies it. When the IDF bulldozes Palestinian homes and olive groves, this is the ideology that justifies it. When Israel ignores international law, this is the ideology that justifies it.

Then put this ideology together with the Christian eschatological thought of George W. Bush who believes that the unification of Israel and the building of the new Temple will being back Jesus, and you have two murderous ideologies that go hand-in-hand: Jewish particularism through the Chosen People of Sinai and American particularism as the Chosen People of Plymouth Rock. In either case, the rest of the world doesn't matter, and this is certainly what we see in the day-to-day actions of the leaders of both of these countries.

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Mr. Sharon's Giant Step
Published: February 24, 2005

This page has long been very wary of any moves by the Israeli government to further consolidate land it seized after the 1967 war without negotiations with the Palestinians. So we were a little queasy about the way Prime Minister Ariel Sharon coupled his plans to withdraw Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip with further work on the barrier that Israel is constructing to block itself off from its Palestinian neighbors.

Some Sharon observers are already likening the Gaza pullout to a chessboard-worthy move. Seen in that light, Mr. Sharon is sacrificing Gaza in return for the world's acceptance of Israel's "de facto annexation of 7 percent of West Bank territory," as a political columnist, Nahum Barnea, theorized in Yediot Aharonot, a Hebrew-language daily. "Sharon has not become a dove," Mr. Barnea wrote. "He has remained what he always was: a pragmatic hawk."

But whatever bird Mr. Sharon has chosen to emulate, it would be churlish to greet his historic decision with anything other than enthusiasm. The prime minister has risked enormous political capital in boldly going where his predecessors feared to tread: agreeing to evacuate settlements without first wringing something out of the Palestinians.

Thanks to Mr. Sharon's efforts, optimism and hope is spreading throughout Israel, and that can only be a good thing. It gives a boost to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and it further isolates Mr. Sharon's right-wing Likud Party members, particularly the finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the minister for Jerusalem affairs, Natan Sharansky.

The barrier remains troublesome. Its route was revised following a court order last year, which rightly said it imposed too many hardships on Palestinian civilians, many of whom were blocked from getting to work or visiting relatives. The new path of the barrier, Israeli officials say, will reduce the amount of West Bank land on the Israeli side of the fence to 7 percent from 15 percent. That's certainly better than the original plan. But the new path should not be treated as a permanent boundary when the time comes for peace talks about a final settlement with the Palestinians. The land that Israel has enclosed should remain on the bargaining table. Barriers are easy to construct, and should be just as easy to tear down.

Mr. Sharon has shown enormous political courage: he is keeping his majority coalition together by the skin of his teeth, and that coalition may not last to see the successful end of the Gaza withdrawal. We hope that it does, and that Mr. Sharon coordinates this historic withdrawal with the Palestinian Authority in a way that leaves impoverished Gaza with enough resources to allow the Palestinians to show the world that they can govern themselves.

Comment: So even if Sharon's offer is nothing more than another manipulation, according to the hard-hitting scribes at the NY Times, from whose pages the neocon poison of Judith Miller so uncritically spews, it would be "churlish" to point this out. Well, we had long suspected that this was the policy of the Times; it is good to have it in writing. No interest in the truth here at the paper that claims to be America's paper of record. That is also America's record so at least the two are co-linear.

And notice the logic: Sharon is agreeing to evacuate the illegal Israel settlements, condemned by international law, without first "wringing something out" from the Palestinians. After stealing their lands, bulldozing their homes, destroying their infrastructure, and erecting a wall that divides Palestinian land, what remains of it, into small islands, it really would have to be "wringing out" to get anything more. All that is left is their blood. But the NY Times, apologist for both Israeli and US imperialism, makes it out as if it is such a magnanimous gesture on the part of the war criminal Sharon!

Yesterday's "suicide bombing" in Tel Aviv was so obviously the work of Israeli intelligence that no one is claiming responsibility. Trying to up the pressure on Lebanon, there have been some attempts to blame Hezbollah, but Hezbollah itself is denying any involvement. Coming days after Israel tried to ignite the fires in Lebanon with the assassination of Hariri, blaming Hezbollah is just a little too obvious. But just because we don't buy it doesn't mean it won't play out in the US press.

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Who killed Rafik Hariri?
Patrick Seale
Wednesday February 23, 2005
The Guardian

If Syria killed Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister and mastermind of its revival after the civil war, it must be judged an act of political suicide. Syria is already under great international pressure from the US, France and Israel. To kill Hariri at this critical moment would be to destroy Syria's reputation once and for all and hand its enemies a weapon with which to deliver the blow that could finally destabilise the Damascus regime, and even possibly bring it down.

So attributing responsibility for the murder to Syria is implausible. The murder is more likely to be the work of one of its many enemies. This is not to deny that Syria has made grave mistakes in Lebanon. Its military intelligence apparatus has interfered far too much in Lebanese affairs. [...]

Hariri was not a diehard enemy of Syria. For 10 of the past 12 years he served as Lebanon's prime minister under Syria's aegis. A few days before his murder on February 14 he held a meeting with Syria's deputy foreign minister, Walid Muallim. They were reported to have discussed a forthcoming visit by Hariri to Damascus. Hariri had not officially joined the opposition in Lebanon, but was thought to be attempting to mediate between Syria and the opposition.

If Syria did not kill Hariri, who could have? There is no shortage of potential candidates, including far-right Christians, anxious to rouse opinion against Syria and expel it from Lebanon; Islamist extremists who have not forgiven Syria its repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 80s; and, of course, Israel.

Israel's ambition has long been to weaken Syria, sever its strategic alliance with Iran and destroy Hizbullah. Israel has great experience at "targeted assassinations" - not only in the Palestinian territories but across the Middle East. Over the years, it has sent hit teams to kill opponents in Beirut, Tunis, Malta, Amman and Damascus.

Syria, Hizbullah and Iran have stood up against US and Israeli hegemony over the region. Syria continues to demand that Israel return the Golan Heights, seized in 1967. Damascus will not allow Lebanon to conclude a separate peace with Israel unless its own claim is also addressed.

Hizbullah, in turn, is possibly the only Arab force to have inflicted a defeat on Israel. Its guerrillas forced Israel out of south Lebanon after a 22-year occupation. Hizbullah continues to be a big irritant to Israel because it has acquired a deterrent capability. Israel can no longer attack Lebanon with impunity - as it did for decades - without risking a riposte from Hizbullah rockets. [...]

The US and Israel have also been urging European governments to declare Hizbullah a "terrorist organisation". France has its own quarrel with Syria, and President Jacques Chirac is outraged at the murder of his close friend Hariri, but Paris does not consider Hizbullah a terrorist organisation. For France, and for the vast majority of Arabs, Hizbullah is a national liberation movement as well as a big political actor in Lebanon.

There is far more to this crisis than a struggle between rival clans in Lebanon.

Comment: See our article on the Hariri assassination for more.

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The Presidents Shared Common Values

Vladimir Putin and George Bush Have Not Reached Agreement on Principal Matter
by Andrey Kolesnikov, Bratislava
February 25, 2005

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the President of the United States, George Bush, met in Bratislava on February 24. The sixteenth summit of the two leaders had, just as all previous ones, a happy ending. The presidents openly demonstrated that their personal friendship is more important than all and sundry controversies. But they did not reach agreement on the principal question of the fate of democracy in Russia, which was the key issue at the summit. Kommersant special correspondent Andrey Kolesnikov has the details. [...]

President Bush arrived to the palace from the central square of Bratislava where he addressed representatives of the Slovak working people at a big rally.

He flew into Slovakia's capital on the previous evening. "The Slovak Spectator" newspaper on the eve of his arrival published the headline on its front page which read "This Visit Will Mark Us on the Map". The Slovaks get offended that most people always confuse them with Slovenians. The Bush – Putin meeting should have corrected everything. However, everything has again ended in confusion. On the day of President Bush's arrival the newspaper "USA Today" printed a map of Europe on which the country where he was to meet President Putin was, alas, again Slovenia. A Slovak lady-journalist walked about the international press centre, with tears in her eyes, showing the map to her colleagues silently. She couldn't even speak.

After George Bush landed in Bratislava Airport mishaps continued. Instead of taxiing up to the carpet on which numerous journalists stood with TV and photo cameras at the ready, the plane of the US President was stopped by the Slovak organizers of the meeting some one hundred metres away from it for the sake of observing additional safety measures so that the corresponding security services (and journalists, too) could better prepare for their work.

The plane stood still and nobody knew what to do for a whole half-hour. Their American colleagues told them that the plane wouldn't move and Mr. Bush would not alight. Only then was it decided to move the carpet and journalists closer to the plane. The officials followed suit.

When the US President finally alighted from the plane, Slovaks took off their gloves and prepared to shake hands with him. Mr. Bush remained in gloves, but greeted all present and shook hands with them cordially. However, it turned out that he greeted not the official persons who came to meet him, but those who accompanied those officials. Mr. Bush, slighly irritated, asked to show him who he should actually greet. And when they were found at last, he remained in gloves. The Slovak public noted this.

On the following day Slovak public representatives gathered for a meeting on the central square of the capital. People were let in by special invitation cards and it was said that they were distributed freely among Bratislava workers at industrial enterprises. Besides, each person wishing to attend the meeting could get a ticket at the mayor's office. Part of them was definitely sold for money, for it is hard to believe that workers could obtain free tickets to the VIP stand right behind the back of Mr. Bush.

The US President was thirty minutes late. People on the square became frozen stiff. But their faces showed no signs of irritation, and they held American and Slovak flags which were handed them at the entrance to the square.

One American journalist was visibly moved and said: "Look, there's still a country where people are happy to see us."

When Mr. Bush finally appeared and began to speak, something unexpected happened. People gathered on the square removed the flags and unfolded posters with inscriptions: "All this is downright lie!", "Bush is serial killer!", "How should we write the word terrorist'? – Write Bush', there's no mistake!"

Of course, the organizers of this public meeting for the President of the United States have gone a bit too much as far as this new form of contacts with rank-and-file citizens was concerned. Meanwhile, he said quite correct things. He congratuled the Ukrainian people on their gaining freedom and expresed the hope that in ten days' time the Moldavian people would follow suit. "And the day will come when Belarus is free!" the American President promised his Slovak audience.

The square was cordoned off by Slovak policemen among whom there were quite a few Afro-Americans with a Texan touch. And in another corner of the square an anti-American meeting was in progress and the speakers there sometimes muffled the speech of the US President. True, there were no antagonistic contradictions between the participants in the two meetings. [...]

The American President was sparing in words. In his view, the presidents during their talks have agreed to protect nuclear weapons from attacks (evidentlly, they are now defenceless as never before).
"Vladimir clearly understands what is at stake," Mr. Bush said. "He, just like us, faced the need to defend his country from serious attacks (evidently, he had in mind Beslan. – A.K.). And as a colleague-leader I well understand him." [...]

"Democracies have much in common," he said. "Protection of the minorities, the freedom of speech…Vladimir and I didn't reach full consensus on all these questions."

He finished speaking and got the better of himself.

"Russia is ready for reasonable compromises," Vladimir Putin said in reply. True, he had in mind negotiations on entering WTO. In his view, there should be no complaints about Russian-American cooperation in the sphere of liquefied gas. [...]

Mr. Putin, as usual, answering questions said that Russia had once made its democratic choice and this choice was final, because it was not his, Putin's choice, but that of the people of Russia."

I asked the next question. Perhaps, I should have asked about interaction in Iran and Iraq. Possibly, there were people in the hall who expected it. But a philosophical argument followed about the fate of democracy and it was awkward to interrupt it in the middle. I said that in my view there is nothing to argue about for the two presidents: the regimes in our two countries can hardly be termed democratic (especially compared with certain European countries, for instance, the Netherlands). As for Russia, I said, everything is clear, whereas for the United States, one can speak of the growing influence of the special services on private life. Yes, it happened after September 11, 2001, but does it have anything to do with democracy?

In conclusion, I suggested that the presidents agree with all this, shake hands and continue their friendship.

This was rather immodest. But to justify myself, I'd say that nobody present at the press conference was distinguished with modesty.

The presidents did not agree, for some reason or other. Mr. Bush tried to interrupt me several times, showing by jestures that he understood everything.

He explained that America had given its people and the peoples of the world the main thing – freedom and the democratic laws which protect this freedom.

"Ours is a democratic country," he declared.

True, it cannot be said that he tried to answer my question.
Mr. Putin did not agree that something is wrong with democracy in Russia either.

"Democracy is not anarchy," he declared, "it is not permission to do and say whatever one pleases." [...]

A journalist from "Interfax" Agency asked why Mr. Putin doesn't raise his voice in defence of American journalists at his meetings with the US President. He had in mind several journalists working at CNN who were fired recently.

"I don't know what journalists you mean," Mr. Bush shrugged his shoulders. "You in the hall, do you still have jobs?"

He smiled so radiantly that it was seen with a naked eye that he was greatly displeased.

"I'm glad for you," the US President said to the "Interfax" correspondent, "if you believe that everything is OK with journalists in Russia. This point of view is quite interesting to us. I'm glad to hear your editorial comment and feel your comfort and confidence on the score."

Mr. Bush did not restrain himself from mockery. The last question definitely displeased him. He got offended and because of that may cease to defend us.

Comment: This article is from Kommersant, which declares itself to be "New Russia's First Independent Newspaper". The tone and details presented regarding Bush's recent visit with Putin are noticeably different than the article from The Independent included in yesterday's Signs page.

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How long can Bush get away with lies?
Chicago Sun-Times
February 25, 2005

As the criminal, sinful war in Iraq enters its third year, the president goes to Europe to heal the wounds between the United States and its former allies, on his own terms of course. The White House propaganda mill will hail it as another victory for the president and ignore the fact that most Europeans still consider the war dangerous folly and the president a dangerous fool.

One hears new rationalizations for the war on this side of the Atlantic. After the hearings on Secretary of State Rice, a Republican senator, with all the self-righteous anger that characterizes many such, proclaimed, "The Democrats just have to understand that the president really believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." This justification is not unlike the one heard frequently at the White House, "The president believed the intelligence agencies of the world."

Would it not be much better to have a president who deliberately lied to the people because he thought a war was essential than to have one who was so dumb as to be taken in by intelligence agencies, especially those who told him what he wanted to hear?

It is also asserted that the election settled the matters of the war and the torture of prisoners. These are dead issues that no longer need be addressed. Yet the president received only 51 percent of the vote and carried only one more state than the last time (picking up New Mexico and Iowa and losing New Hampshire). This is a validation of the war and of prisoner abuse? This is a mandate to do whatever he wants to do and whatever the leadership of the evangelical denominations want? A percentage point and a single state are a mandate for more war? Never before in American political history! [...]

Nothing, in other words, has changed in the last two years. The war is still the "right thing to do," it is still part of the "war against terrorism," it is still essential to keep Arabs from blowing up our skyscrapers.

You can still get away with the "big lie" as long as Karl Rove and his team of spinners keep providing persuasive rationalizations. The American public is still supine, uneasy about the war, but not willing yet to turn decisively against it. Will that still be the case next year when we "celebrate" the third anniversary of the war? Is the patience of the American people that long suffering? Is there no outrage left in the country?

Comment: Apparently not. It seems that it will take far bigger shocks that hit even closer to home to wake the people from their continuing slumber...

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'Insufficient evidence' to charge marine who killed injured Iraqi
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
The Independent
25 February 2005

An American marine who shot dead an injured unarmed Iraqi in Fallujah, in an incident captured on video which led the Pentagon to open a war crimes inquiry, is reported to have escaped prosecution.

According to the CBS news network yesterday, investigators concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge the marine and that given the circumstances of the battlefield it was possible that he felt his life was threatened. "At the very least, navy legal experts believe the situation is ambiguous enough that no prosecutor could get a conviction," the station reported.

The US Marine Corps issued a statement from Iraq saying that no decision had been taken and that the investigation was continuing. [...]

The incident took place during the operation in November last year to take control of the city that was long considered a stronghold of the resistance. The week-long operation cost the lives of more than 70 marines, hundreds of insurgents and an unknown number of civilians. The city was all but destroyed in the effort.

The shooting of the wounded Iraqi, who was lying in a mosque with other injured men, was recorded by an American television crew. Viewers were able to see the marine pointing his rifle at the man and hear him say that he was faking he was dead. A clatter of gunfire could then he heard and another marine says: "He's dead now."

At the time of the incident the shooting was described by the International Committee of the Red Cross as a demonstration of "utter contempt for humanity". [...]

Comment: What is perhaps even more shocking than the crime itself is the fact that there is virtually no official outrage being expressed by any country over the US marine's actions or what amounts to his acquittal. It seems the entire world is asleep at the wheel. In those countries where the people have spoken up, they have been mostly ignored by their leaders.

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Powell criticises Iraq troop levels and rift with Europe
By Robin Gedye
The Telegraph

Colin Powell, the former US secretary of state, has for the first time publicly criticised troops levels in Iraq and spoken of the rifts between himself and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, that undermined his role as architect of American foreign policy.

Mr Powell, in his first interview since resigning last November, also told The Telegraph of his "dismay" at the deterioration in relations between America and Europe and of his "disappointment" with France.

While holding back from blaming Mr Rumsfeld by name for the problems that eventually persuaded him to resign, Mr Powell showed that much of the innuendo and leaks surrounding his volatile relationship with the defence secretary had been well-founded.

Admitting that Mr Rumsfeld's controversial plan to fight the war with limited troop numbers had been an outstanding success, Mr Powell said the "nation building" that followed had been deeply flawed. [...]

Comment: Well over a hundred thousand dead and/or tortured Iraqis, and Powell thinks the invasion was an "outstanding success"??

Mr Powell said he had warned President George W Bush over dinner in August 2002 that the problem with Iraq was not going to be the invasion but what followed.

He told him: "This place will crack like a goblet and it will be a problem to pick up the bits. It was on this basis that he decided to let me see if we could find a United Nations solution to this."

Mr Powell told Charles Moore, the former editor of The Telegraph who conducted the interview outside Washington, that he regretted the fall-out with Europe over the Iraq war.

He also found Mr Rumsfeld's reference to "New Europe" and "Old Europe" unfortunate.

"I never used the phrase," he said. "It just wasn't a useful construct. I don't think the president ever used it.

"We've got a lot more work to do with European public opinion."

Comment: Instead of working on European public opinion, why not just end the hideous neocon crusade to either obliterate or control everything?

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President's Uncle Bucky emerges as a big winner from Iraq war
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
The Independent
24 February 2005

The Iraq war has produced many winners and many losers. And one small but significant winner is a certain William "Bucky" Bush, brother of one president and uncle to the current occupant of the White House.

The good fortune of Uncle Bucky, as he is known within America's ruling family, has been to hold a seat on the board of Engineered Support Systems Incorporated (ESSI), a St Louis-based company that has flourished mightily as a military contractor to the Pentagon.

Last month, ESSI shares hit a record $60.39 (£31.64) apiece ­ more or less exactly the moment the presidential uncle chose to sell 8,438 options worth around $450,000, according to obligatory reports filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and disclosed by the Los Angeles Times yesterday. William Bush denies that his presence on the board has had anything to do with the company's success in boosting expected revenues to an estimated $1bn in 2005, in good part reflecting no-bid contracts relating to the war.

Noting that he joined it in 2000, before his nephew was elected, "Bucky" Bush says he has not lobbied anyone in Washington to send contracts ESSI's way. "I don't make any calls to the 202 [Washington, DC] area code," he told the LA Times.

In fact Mr Bush, aged 66 and 14 years the junior of his brother, the first president George Bush, has long been a prominent member of the St Louis business community and was state chairman in Missouri for the 2004 Bush/Cheney re-election campaign. "Having a Bush doesn't hurt," Dan Kreher, a senior ESSI executive, says.

The company has supplied a variety of equipment to the US military effort in Iraq, including a $49m contract to refurbish military trailers and an $18m deal to provide communications services to the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran post-Saddam Iraq until June last year. In 2003, ESSI was awarded contracts for equipment to help search for, and protect US soldiers from, Iraq's chemical and biological weapons, which turned out to have been a figment of the imagination of the Bush administration.

But some of that government business is now under scrutiny. The Pentagon has announced that $158m worth of contracts won by ESSI in 2002, including work on a new air cargo loading device called Tunner, is being reviewed by its inspector general for suspected "anomalies". ESSI responds that the inquiry is a routine examination of work awarded on a sole-source basis. It would have "no effect" on the company, Gerald Potthoff, its president, told stock analysts this week. [...]

Some Democrats complain that the Bushes and their associates have been given a virtual free pass on business affairs ­ unlike President Bill Clinton, who was hounded for years over his involvement in Whitewater, a modest Arkansas real estate venture, in which he and his wife Hillary actually lost money.

Comment: To top it all off, Bush should have been impeached a long time ago for his lies about Iraq and support of crimes against humanity, and yet it was Clinton who was nearly impeached for lying about an affair of all things...

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Riggs Bank to Pay $8 Million to Pinochet Victims
By Jonathan Stempel and Fiona Ortiz
Fri Feb 25, 2005 10:55 PM ET

NEW YORK/SANTIAGO - A U.S. bank that ran into serious trouble for helping foreign officials hide money has agreed to settle a Spanish lawsuit by paying $8 million into a fund for victims of former client Chilean ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet, the bank said on Friday.

In Chile, a human rights lawyer called the settlement in Spain by Washington, D.C.-based Riggs National Corp. an important part of international efforts to bring Pinochet to justice for human rights abuses during his 1973-1990 rule. [...]

Garzon filed a legal complaint against Riggs last year in Madrid, alleging the bank had illegally concealed assets, and ordered the creation of a fund for victims of Pinochet. [...]

Hendrix said Riggs would pay the $8 million using funds set aside for litigation, and that the Madrid court had dismissed criminal and civil claims against the company and seven former and current directors. [...]

Comment: Even today, US institutions and their directors can quietly buy their way out of charges of supporting war crimes and dictators in other countries. Makes us wonder just who was behind Clinton's impeachment hearings, and why Bush is now virtually untouchable...

On the January 14, 2005 Signs Page, we made the following comments:

During the 1970's and 80's, Brazil, Paraguay Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia were all enjoying the "benefits" of some of the most brutal dictatorships of modern times. [...]

Have you ever heard that quote by Kissinger when he was secretary of state under Nixon that the issues at play during the 1973 election in Chile of socialist candidate Salvador Allende were "too important for the Chilean people to decide"?

Have you ever heard of Operation Condor?

Operation Condor (Spanish:Operación Cóndor) was a campaign of assassination and intelligence-gathering, dubbed counter-terrorism, conducted jointly by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay in the mid-1970s.

The right-wing military governments of these countries, led by dictators such as Videla, Pinochet and Stroessner agreed to cooperate in sending teams into other countries, including France, Portugal and the United States to locate, observe and assassinate political opponents. They also exchanged torture techniques, like near drowning and playing the sound recordings of victims who were being tortured to their family. Many people disappeared and were killed without trial. Their targets were leftist guerrilla terrorists but many are thought to be political opponents, family and other innocent people.

It has been alleged that Operation Condor was given at least tacit approval by the United States, due to fear of violent Marxist revolution in the region. It appears that Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State in the Nixon administration, was closely involved diplomatically with the Southern Cone governments at the time and well-aware of the Condor plan. CIA documents show that the CIA had close contact with members of the Chilean secret police, DINA, and its chief Manuel Contreras. Some have alleged that the CIA's one-time payment to Contreras is proof that the U.S. approved of Operation Condor and military repression within Chile.

The CIA's official documents state that at one time, some members of the intelligence community recommended making Contreras into a paid contact because of his closeness to junta Chairman General Pinochet; the plan was rejected based on Contreras' poor human rights track record, but the single payment was made due to miscommunication.

Officially, the CIA hardly ever does anything wrong. Unofficially, there exists substantial evidence that points to longstanding financial and military support of fascist regimes that overthrow democratically elected governments.

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American plot to assassinate President Chavez
February 23, 2005

Speaking from the press lectern at the Miraflores Palace at precisely 02:45 p.m. today, Communications & Information Minister Andres Izarra has reconfirmed the position that the Venezuela government has "incontrovertible proof" that a plot is being hatched to assassinate President Hugo Chavez Frias.

Izarra stated in clear, unequivocal terms, that he will not reveal the source of this intelligence information ... but he did say that persons involved in past destabilization attempts in Venezuela are acting in concert with the main assassination coup plotters.

A local journalist pointed out that there had been alarms in the past about a possible assassination attempt on the President's life, but that the government, then as now, had never offered any proof or given names. Izarra merely answered that the information exists and that for reasons of national security, he could not reveal the source and that the fact he would not reveal it did not mean that such a plot did not exist. can, however, reveal that we have been able to corroborate intelligence details from other reliable sources which show a build-up of subversive activities focusing on a possible date within the next one hundred days. Activities out of the US Embassy bunker on Colinas de Valle Arriba as well as covert locations outside the capital show the high-level participation of US government agencies in support of violent anti-government groupings intent on the overthrow of President Hugo Chavez Frias' democratically-elected government.

The same confidential intelligence sources also formed the basis of our February 3, 2002, World Exclusive in which we revealed the preliminaries to the April 2002 coup d'etat which saw US puppet dictator Pedro Carmona Estanga seize power to dissolve the Constitution, Congress and the Venezuelan judiciary all in one fell swoop.

Now ... as then ... covert US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives are already in place in Venezuela as the SOA/WHISC prepares for what we can only describe as "a third bite at the cherry." [...]

Comment: If, over the course of the next 6 months, Chavez is assassinated, ALL eyes should rightly look to the White House as the perpetrator. Chavez's one problem is that he seems to believe in something approaching an ideal world. He seems to think that government should work to protect and support the weakest in society and that wealth should be spread as evenly as reasonably possible - at the very least none should go hungry. Chavez seems also to be under the impression that large globalist companies should be prevented from entering South American countries and vacuuming up all of the resources. In fact, Chavez believes these things so fervently that he has been taking steps over the past few years to make them a reality.

It is this fact however that has also made him American enemy #1. You see, the current US, which is defined by the politicians who pass the laws and speak on behalf of the country and its people, stands against everything that Chavez stands for.

To say that the current US administration is made up of some of the most arrogant, selfish, greedy, cold-blooded and heartless men and women the world has ever seen is neither an understatement nor an exaggeration, it is simply a fact. Is it really a surprise to Americans to realise that certain people "talk out of both sides of their mouths", and that the more a person had to lose or gain the bigger lies they would tell. Frankly, we don't care for how many years most Americans have believed in the land of the free and the home of the brave and the honorable intentions of their president and his men. The fact is that today, as we sit here, all of that is and was a lie. It is time to accept facts. We all live in a nasty and cruel world and the people who have risen to the top of the pile are the nastiest and most cruel.

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U.S. & Cuba
by Salim Lamrani February 04, 2005
Translated by Barbara & David Forbes.

In order to achieve their avowed objective of destroying the Cuban revolution, the USA has several different strings to its bow. Apart from the economic sanctions condemned by the entire international community (1), various acts of violence and sabotage from the realms of international terrorism, or the intensive misinformation campaign minutely detailed in Colin Powell's report, Washington has also organised an internal opposition which is easily manipulated and loyal to her every wish. (2)

The report "Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba", presented in May 2004, gives the names of the leaders of "civil society" around whom a broad subversive movement can be organised: Raúl Rivero, Oscar Elias Biscet, Oswaldo Payá and Marta Beatriz Roque. (3) These "star dissidents", who never stop sounding forth about the "violation of human rights in Cuba" under the halo of a legitimacy which would not support any analysis, have the task of recruiting as many people as possible in order to achieve "political and social change" in their country. This euphemism refers to George Bush's devastating policies. The fact of participation in an imperialist policy intended to set Cuba and her people back fifty years does not seem to pose them any kind of ethical problems.

The financing of opposition groups began long before May 2004. Since 1996 the Helms-Burton Law allowed for the organisation and overt financial support for a fifth column of sycophants. Section 109 of this same legislation stipulates that substantial economic aid and logistical support may be given to designated small groups in order to "encourage efforts to build democracy in Cuba" (4). This programme of political destabilisation is run by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Comment: In other words, the US is financing groups to overthrow the Cuban government.

29 million dollars have thus been allocated to the organisation of a "democratic Cuban opposition and a civil society." This sum is additional to the 7 million dollars provided by USAID. So, a total budget of 36 million dollars is earmarked to subversive elements tasked with setting up the necessary conditions for destabilising the nation. (5) These "dissidents", who are richly rewarded for their activities, are an essential cog in Washington's aggressive strategy, and are supposed to give a more respectable and credible image to world opinion of the unbearable state of siege inflicted by the United States. Under the guise of the "struggle for human rights", some individuals who are particularly lacking in integrity are promoting the White House's agenda out of financial motivation.

The US Interests Sections, directed by James Cason, has the task of uniting all the "opposition forces", giving them instructions and overseeing the smooth functioning of the subversion process. Faced with this mercenary organisation, the Cuban legal authorities arrested 75 people in March 2003 who were convicted of "conspiracy, association with a foreign power and attacks on national integrity and the territorial independence of the state", and condemned to heavy prison sentences in accord with the Cuban penal code. (6).

The international outcry which these convictions generated is entirely unfounded. The Western press and several anti-Cuban political representatives throughout the world vigorously condemned the revolutionary government, denouncing the sanctions taken against "peaceful activists and independent journalists". According to them, those who were convicted were being punished for having openly expressed their disagreement with the official line and for having published defamatory articles in the extreme right-wing Miami press. (7)

It is salutary to pause for a moment to consider these accusations. The two Cuban "dissidents" with the largest media influence at international level, who launch the most acerbic diatribes against the Cuban revolution and who enjoy the most sustained support of the Cuban-origin extremists in Miami, are Oswaldo Payá and Elizardo Sánchez. (8) Compared with them, Raul Rivero seems like a relatively moderate and cautious "opponent". However, this latter person has been condemned to 20 years imprisonment. Payá and Sánchez have never had any problems with the law, although their political writings are much more virulent than Rivero's. The explanation is simple enough: Payá and Sánchez have up until now always refused the generous financial support offered by Washington, while Rivero made the error of profiting from the financial largesse of the Bush administration. And this is what has been punished, not a supposedly heterodox literary and political output. These concrete facts clearly show that the argument accusing the Cuban authorities of imprisoning people for their ideas has well nigh zero credibility.

Becoming involved in the world of "dissidence" cannot be explained simply by a clear lack of patriotism. The economic advantages of this profession are significant and stoke the greed of un-conscientious individuals. The 75 people who were convicted did not have any paid work and lived from the financial inducements of the US authorities in return for the duties they had carried out. The salaries, which were considerable for the standard of life in Cuba, led certain people to amass small personal fortunes of up to 16 000 dollars in cash, while the average salary is between 15 and 20 dollars per month. (10) They thus had a far superior lifestyle to most Cubans and benefited at the same time from the incomparable privileges of the Cuban social system.

To appreciate the size of this sum of money, we have to remind ourselves of the value of the dollar in Cuba. For the equivalent of one dollar, a Cuban can choose to buy himself: 104 litres of milk, 45 kilos of rice, 26 tickets for baseball matches, between five and 26 tickets for the theatre or cinema, 5200 kilowatts of electricity or videos of five televised English courses of 160 hours each. All other basic foodstuffs (bread, beans, oil) are in the same price range. Added to that are the free education, health and leisure services. Given that 85% of Cuban citizens are owners of their property, they pay no rent. Furthermore, taxation does not exist in Cuba. And another unique point: medicines bought at chemists' shops cost 50% less than fifty years ago. (11) All this is possible thanks to the annual subsidies given by the Cuban state, so vilified by the "dissidents" who do not, however, miss out on the benefits of the advantageous conditions which Cuban society offers. [...]

Notes :
1] Granma, " 179 países votan en la ONU contra el bloqueo ", 28 October 2004. (site consulted 29 October 2004).
[2] Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington : United States Department of State, May 2004). (site consulted 7 May 2004), p. 22.
[3] Ibid., p. 16.
[4] Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (LIBERTAD), Section 109, P.L. 104-114.
[5] Colin L. Powell, op. cit., p. 25.
[6] Felipe Pérez Roque, Nous ne comptons pas renoncer à notre souveraineté, Conférence de presse offerte par le ministre des relations extérieures de la République de Cuba le 9 avril 2003. (Havena: Editora Política, 2003).
[7] Reporters sans frontières, " Un an après l'arrestation de 75 dissidents, Reporters sans frontières mobilise l'Europe contre la répression à Cuba ", 18 March 2004. ?id_article=9547 (site consulted 20 March 2004).
[8] Oswaldo Paya, " Mensaje de Oswaldo Paya Sardiñas a Vaclav Havel, Presidente de la República checa en su visita a la ciudad de Miami, Florida ", 23 September 2002. (site consulted 25 September 2004) ; El Nuevo Herald, " Piden a Europa más firmeza contra el régimen ", 7 October 2004. (site consulted 8 October 2004).
[9] Raúl Rivero, " El cartel del queso blanco ", Luz Cubana, January/February 2003, n°1 : 9-10.
[10] Felipe Pérez Roque, " Conferencia a la prensa nacional y extranjera ", MINREX, 25 March 2004 : 5-7.
[11] Gouvernement révolutionnaire de Cuba, " Documents ", 18 April 2003. (site consulted 2 December 2004).

Comment: The Cuban revolution continues, after forty-six years, because the Cuban people understand the many ways the United States works to subvert the revolution. Castro gave advice to Allende about the need to protect himself against US imperialism, advice that Allende chose to ignore at his own peril.

The US is now trying to subvert the government of Venezuela and has used USAID to finance opposition groups in Georgia and the Ukraine. The so-called soft revolutions are but a change in tactics to bring the world under the influence of US neo-liberalism.

Unfortunately, no matter how valiantly other countries fight to keep the US out, this world is such that a stronghold against entropy cannot be held for any length of time. Even if the leaders begin with noble ideas, time works against those ideas. Real liberation can only come from within through work on the self, through conquering that part of oneself that finds an echo in the predatory nature of others. We all have it. We are all predators until we look deeply within, recognise it, and do everything in our power to root it out. And even then....

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Condi to replace Cheney next year?
February 19, 2005

Vice President Dick Cheney likely will step down next year due to health reasons and be replaced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to a report by geopolitical expert Jack Wheeler.

On his website, To the Point, Wheeler reports there's a "red-breasted rumor bird" flying around Capitol Hill that has whispered the same thing to most congressional committee chairmen.

"We all know that Dick Cheney has been the best vice president of modern times, perhaps in American history," one such chairman told Wheeler. "And we know that he absolutely will not run for president in 2008. Further, he has an unfortunate history of heart trouble. So let's just say none of us will be surprised if, sometime next year, he will step down from the vice presidency due to his health."

Continued the source: "Should this happen, President Bush would need to appoint his replacement, just as Richard Nixon chose Gerald Ford to replace Spiro Agnew. It is quite clear to us whom the president would choose should he need to: Condoleezza Rice."

Wheeler goes on to analyze what such a scenario would mean for the 2008 presidential election.

Writes Wheeler: "Being a sitting vice president places Condi in an impregnable position for the GOP nomination in 2008 and sucks every breath of wind from Hillary's sails. Historically, it's hard for a party to keep the White House after they've had it for eight years." [...]

Comment: While Condi would be a likely replacement if Cheney steps down, it appears there is a legal technicality that would allow Bush to stay on for another four years...

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Flashback: A third term for Bush?
by James L. Secor
Dec 02, 2004 - 07:26 PM

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once.
- AMENDMENT XXII, Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.

In the wake of George W. Bush's first electoral victory, detractors have focused on possible illegalities, mostly involving voting violations that any incompetent needs in order to succeed. Perhaps all of this hoopla makes people feel better but they are getting caught up in the furor of the moment and losing sight of the true significance of this election. It will be, perhaps, a mystery as to why Mr. Bush won his first term as an elected president; but people were maybe happy that a third term could not be had. And...

This is it folks. Those who figured, after this election, we would be rid of George W. Bush might want to think again. They are wrong: a third term can be had. The XXII Amendment is quite clear on this. George W. Bush has only been elected to the Presidency once. His first term he was appointed, not elected. And, during his first term, he was not sitting during part of some other President's term of office. [...]

Again, to think that he will not move to make it three terms as President is a little naïve: this man and his cronies are experts at utilizing the courts, else how could such incompetents manage to gain such heights? Only the incompetent need rely on devious means to assure success. And so it is that George W. Bush is more than likely to already be planning to utilize the exact language of the XXII Amendment with his very own non- election in 2000 to create a third term presidency. He could, too, strike the Amendment from law. All he needs is a majority in Congress. He, like Hitler, has this hands down. [...]

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U.S. must not intrude on Canadian airspace: Martin
Last Updated Fri, 25 Feb 2005 16:26:39 EST
CBC News
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Paul Martin said Canada must be consulted before the U.S. decides to fire on missiles that enter Canadian airspace, despite Ottawa's refusal to participate in America's missile defence program.

"I don't think that anyone expected that there would be any other finger on a button than the Americans," Martin said Friday, a day after his decision not to join the program.

"But in terms of Canadian airspace, yes we would expect to be consulted. This is our airspace. We're a sovereign nation. And you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission," Martin said.

Martin also rejected claims by U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci that Canada has given up its sovereignty by saying no to the missile plan.

Cellucci had said the U.S. was surprised by Martin's decision, saying "we simply cannot understand why Canada would, in effect, give up its sovereignty, its seat at the table, to decide what to do about missiles that might be headed towards Canada."

"We did not give up sovereignty," Martin responded. "We affirmed sovereignty." [...]

When he first took office, Martin suggested he supported joining the plan, saying he believed Canada should be at the table when it comes to any discussion of the defence of North America.

"I think our sovereignty depends on us being at the table when discussions are taking place about the defence of North America," Martin said in 2003, before becoming the Liberal leader.

Comment: Cellucci is the local US enforcer in Canada. When the Canadian government does something he doesn't like, or when he is needed to make the government appear to be standing up for the country's interest in the face of US meddling, he appears on Bay Street (the Toronto Wall Street wannabe) and tells Canadian business how things ought to be. Quite amusing at times. Paul Martin is a man who wanted to be Prime Minister for none of the noble reasons and probably most of the ignoble ones. He is much further to the right than the country allows him to be. Canadian outrage at Bush is so great that although Martin would, if left to his own lack of conscience, sidle up to the Yanks and get good and comfy.

We note in passing that the definition of sovereignty for the US is to be at the table when the US takes the decision to blow up missiles over Canadian territory rather than waiting until they get into US airspace. Bush himself offers us the following definition of sovereignty:

REPORTER: What do you think tribal sovereignty means in the 21st century, and how do we resolve conflicts between tribes and the federal and state governments?
DUBYA: Yeah -- tribal sovereignty means that, it's sovereign. It's -- you're a -- you're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're -- viewed as a sovereign entity. [Laughter emanates from the audience]
DUBYA: And, therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between -- sovereign entities. Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004

The question is, from where are these missiles supposed to be coming that will be aimed at the US but passing over Canadian territory? Iran? North Korea?

What about China? Russia?

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US blocks plans on UN environment body and mercury ban talks
NAIROBI (AFP) Feb 25, 2005
The United States has blocked attempts to up the status of the UN's environmental arm and to launch formal talks on an EU-backed treaty to ban mercury, which is linked to serious ailments in pregnant women and children, diplomats said Friday.

At a week-long forum in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Washington cratered a French-German proposal that would have turned the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) into a full-fledged United Nations agency with stronger powers and a bigger budget, they said.

US opposition to the proposed mercury pact sparked "heated debate" at a meeting of UNEP's governing board, which ended up calling for voluntary public-private partnerships to reduce mercury levels, the diplomats said. [...]

A 2003 UNEP study found that coal-fired power plants and artisanal mining of silver and gold were a major source of mercury found in the earth's air, soil and waterways and recommended action to reduce its presence.

In response, several governments, including members of the European Union, called for a legally binding pact to ban mercury, which can cause brain damage in unborn children and infants and possibly impair their nervous systems.

"We are disappointed that other countries did not allow the proposal to move forward," said Elena Lymberidi of the EU's Environmental Bureau.

But the United States, which relies heavily on coal-generated electricity, objected, arguing that more study was needed before moving ahead with discussions on a treaty and proposing the partnerhip schemes as an alternative.

"We came here with a position that we wanted to take immediate action through these partnerships and that we wanted to defer a decision on a legally binding instrument until we have results on this partnerships," said Claudia McMurray, the senior diplomat who led the US delegation to the UNEP meeting. [...]

Comment: Climate change, Kyoto, mercury, the US always wants more studies. Nothing is more sacred than "business", the unfettered right for US companies to go where they will, when they will, and to do what they will with no local obstruction - such as national sovereignty - to prevent them.

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US concerned over "exclusive" nature of upcoming East Asian summit
WASHINGTON (AFP) Feb 26, 2005
The United States expressed concern Friday that an upcoming inaugural leaders' meeting of East Asian countries could become an "exclusive" and "inward looking" grouping.

Malaysia will host the summit among 10 Southeast Asian nations and China, Japan and South Korea at the end of this year.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said after talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other American officials that Washington "has some concerns that the East Asian Summit will be inward looking and exclusive.

"But I told them that countries like Singapore and other countries in the region will also be against that," he told reporters.

The East Asian summit was an initiative of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which since 1997 has been holding summit talks with China, Japan and South Korea at the sidelines of its own summit under a loose "ASEAN plus three" framework.

At their last meeting in November, ASEAN leaders decided to formalize the structure into an East Asian summit. But members were divided over the possibility of expanding the 13-member setting.

The United States has been opposed since 1990 to an East Asian-only grouping, saying such a format would rip apart the Pacific. Analysts said United States was more concerned about China's key role in it and the possibility of Washington's influence in the region waning as a result. [...]

Comment: Yeah, the US doesn't like it when other countries start meeting outside of their influence and power. Sets a bad example, as if the rest of the world could get by without it.

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Indian boy's NASA claims crash to earth
By Sharat Pradhan
February 26, 2005

LUCKNOW, India - An Indian teenager from one of the country's most backward states appears to have fooled governments, the media and even India's president into believing he had topped the world in a NASA science exam.

In a country hungry for international recognition, 17-year-old Saurabh Singh was feted as a national hero after announcing he had won NASA's International Scientist Discovery examination, which he said he took at Oxford University.

The Uttar Pradesh state government rewarded him with a 500,000 rupee prize (6,110 pounds) and more than 100 members of the state's upper house each donated a day's salary to him.

But as he was at the president's official residence awaiting an audience during the week, his story unravelled.

An Indian news portal,, contacted NASA, which denied any knowledge of the exam. [...]

Singh had also said President Abdul Kalam and Indian astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who died in the Columbia shuttle explosion in 2003, had sat the test. Kalam's office denies this.

Singh insists he met Kalam, although some Indian newspapers say the meeting was cancelled as he waited to go in.

"It was really inspiring," Singh told Reuters by phone. "And let me tell you, he saw my certificate and praised me for the achievement, while you all are asking all kinds of questions and trying to dub me as a fraud."

The certificate, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, declared "You are the member of NASA" (sic) and is signed by Singh and "Chief of NASA, Cin K. Kif" -- NASA's former administrator was Sean O'Keefe. It also lists the name of Singh's father, common practice in Indian documents.

Singh says he flew to London on Indian Airlines -- which does not fly to the city -- and took a taxi to Oxford University and back every day for the exam from January 4-8, a round trip of about 140 miles.

Singh told Reuters he stayed in a hotel, but told a Hindi language newspaper he stayed at Buckingham Palace.

The Indian school where he says he sat the preliminary exam along with 200,000 others does not exist. The Bansal institute, where he says he studied mathematics, has never heard of him.

Singh cannot produce his passport to back his claim. That, he says, is with institute director P.K. Bansal.

"How can we possess his passport when we don't even know him?" Saturday's The Indian Express quoted Bansal saying.

Comment: An ordinary 17-year-old boy fooled an entire nation - including its government - before someone bothered to check his story and discovered his lies. Yet many people still believe that a group of US neoconservatives with money, influence, power, and Zionist ties couldn't possibly deceive the public about 9/11 and Iraq?

The article also gives a clue as to why such massive deception can actually be quite easy: India wanted to believe that the story told by the boy was true, as it brought international recognition. In the same way, many Americans want to believe the lies told by Bush and the gang. Americans desperately want notions about the moral righteousness and "good works" of the US to be reality, and thus they readily accept deception that validates and reinforces these pre-programmed illusions.

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Atka Island volcano erupts, spews ash and steam
Anchorage Daily News
February 26th, 2005 at 04:26 AM

A volcano on Atka Island erupted briefly, sending ash and steam to about 8,000 feet and making some residents nervous.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory reports that two other restless volcanoes — Mount Spurr west of Anchorage and Mount Veniaminof on the Alaska Peninsula — remained relatively quiet Thursday.

Several Atka village residents reported seeing a burst Wednesday evening from the 5,029-foot Korovin volcano that drifted east, followed by more steaming on Thursday. No ash fell on the village, home to about 90 people.

"It could mean that the volcano is coming back to a higher level of activity," said Chris Waythomas, a scientist with the observatory. "So we're going to be watching the thing closely and try to take a look when we get satellite images." [...]

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Update: Iranian earthquake death toll rises to 612
Sat Feb 26, 2005 10:03 AM ET

TEHRAN - A powerful earthquake which struck southeast Iran this week killed 612 people, an official said on Saturday, lifting the toll from 602.

Tuesday's tremor, centred on the town of Zarand about 700 km southeast of Tehran, revived painful memories of the devastating quake just 14 months ago in the nearby desert citadel city of Bam that killed 31,000 people.

"The latest figures we now have are 612 people killed and 1,411 injured," Mohammad Javad Fadaee, deputy governor of Kerman province, told Reuters by telephone.

The 6.4 magnitude earthquake levelled several remote mountain villages where fragile one-storey homes crumbled and collapsed into piles of mud and broken tiles, leaving thousands homeless.

Reformist President Mohammad Khatami was visiting the earthquake-struck area on Saturday.

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Mystery of the silent woodlands: scientists are baffled as bird numbers plummet
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
25 February 2005

It has hardly been noticed, but it is another sinister warning sign of a world going badly wrong. Populations of some of Britain's most attractive woodland birds are plummeting at a rate that threatens them with extinction, and nobody knows why.

Precipitous declines in the numbers of some species, of up to four-fifths, have been registered over the past 30 years, but scientists are just realising what is happening, and they have no simple explanation.

In its scale and its range, the phenomenon is one of the most ominous events in the natural history of Britain over the past half-century. Perversely, the decline comes at a time when Britain is planting more woodlands than ever, and forest management has never been more sympathetic to wildlife conservation.

About a dozen species of small birds that have flitted through our woodlands for thousands of years are suddenly in serious trouble. This may be associated with climate change, linked to the damage that excess deer numbers are doing to the undergrowth in woodlands, or in some cases, linked to trouble for birds on migration routes to and from Africa. [...]

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Newest Saturn moons given names
Saturday, 26 February, 2005, 08:39 GMT

Three new moons discovered around Saturn by the Cassini spacecraft have been given provisional names.

The discoveries were made last year, not long after Cassini had arrived in orbit around the ringed planet.

Two moons detected in August have been given the names Methone and Pallene, while another found in October has been provisionally named Polydeuces.

Three more candidate objects are still awaiting confirmation as moons.

Methone and Pallene circle Saturn between the orbits of two other Saturnian moons, Mimas and Enceladus. They were discovered by Sebastien Charnoz at the University of Paris, France.

Polydeuces was detected by Professor Carl Murray at Queen Mary, University of London, UK.

This latter object is an example of a so-called Trojan moon - it is twinned with a larger satellite in orbit around the planet.

Wandering moon

Saturn is the only planet known to have Trojan moons. They are found near stable "Lagrange points" - places where the gravitational pull of the planet and the larger satellite become balanced. [...]

Two objects seen in June called S/2004 S3 and S/2004 S4 are still awaiting confirmation as moons. Another candidate moon - S/2004 S6 - was seen in October.

Professor Murray explained that although S/2004 S4 has not been seen since, S3 was seen again in October.

"If it has survived for that long, chances are that it is a moon. But then again, there are pictures where we would have expected to see it and didn't," he said.

He added that the Cassini Imaging Science Team was hoping to see the object again to confirm that it was a moon. [...]

Comment: Perhaps S/2004 S4 isn't a moon? In any event, mainstream science's inability to predict the motion of heavenly bodies apparently shouldn't cause us to doubt their claims that the huge numbers of meteors and fireballs sighted in recent times are nothing to worry about.

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And Finally...

Film industry's new swear word: Ashcroft
February 25, 2005

John Ashcroft's name has become synomous with the "A-word," in the minds of some Hollywood artists.

The Washington Post reports the former attorney general's surname was dubbed over the seven-letter obscenity that begins with the same first two letters in a version of the Oscar-nominated movie "Sideways."

Correspondent Monte Reel told colleagues he heard the substitution twice during an in-flight showing of the hit comedy aboard an Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Lima, Peru.

Reel reports the dubbing over the "A-word" was done "in the actual voices of the actors," which would mean Thomas Haden Church participated in the dialogue, "You're an Ashcroft! No, you're an Ashcroft!"

According to the paper, Fox Searchlight Pictures, the studio behind "Sideways," failed to respond to queries seeking an explanation for the name swap. [...]

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