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Heart of Ice
Copyright 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

The Human Rights Record of the US in 2004
Information Office of China's State Council
Thursday, March 3, 2005.

Comment: Each year the United States government releases a report on the status of human rights in the world, passing judgements on the world. This year, the Chinese government has turned the tables and is presenting an analysis of human rights abuses by the USA.

The report begins by looking at the level of violence within the United States itself, that is, the daily violence to which its citizens are subjected. The statistics they have compiled are frightening and give a terrible face to life in the US.

In 2004 the atrocity of US troops abusing Iraqi POWs exposed the dark side of human rights performance of the United States. The scandal shocked the humanity and was condemned by the international community. It is quite ironic that on Feb. 28 of this year, the State Department of the United States once again posed as the "the world human rights police" and released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. As in previous years, the reports pointed fingers at human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions (including China) but kept silent on the US misdeeds in this field. Therefore, the world people have to probe the human rights record behind the Statue of Liberty in the United States.

I. On Life, Liberty and Security of Person

American society is characterized with rampant violent crimes, severe infringement of people's rights by law enforcement departments and lack of guarantee for people's rights to life, liberty and security of person.

Violent crimes pose a serious threat to people's lives. According to a report released by the Department of Justice of the United States on Nov. 29, 2004, in 2003 residents aged 12 and above in the United States experienced about 24 million victimizations, and there occurred 1,381,259 murders, robberies and other violent crimes, averaging 475 cases per 100,000 people. Among them there were 16,503 homicides, up 1.7 percent over 2002, or nearly six cases in every 100,000 residents, and one of every 44 Americans aged above 12 was victimized.

The Associated Press reported on June 24, 2004 that the number of violent crimes in many US cities were on the rise. In 2003 Chicago alone recorded 598 homicides, 80 percent of which involved the use of guns. The Washington D.C. reported 41,738 murders, robberies and other violent crimes in 2003, averaging 6,406.4 cases per 100,000 residents. In 2004 the District recorded 198 killings, or a homicide rate of 35 per 100,000 residents. Detroit,which has less than 1 million residents, recorded 18,724 criminal cases in 2003, including 366 murders and 814 rapes, which amounted to a homicide rate of 41 per 100,000 residents.

In 2003 the homicide rate in Baltimore was 43 per 100,000 residents. The Baltimore Sun reported on Dec. 17, 2004 that the city reported 271 killings from January to early December in 2004.

It was reported that on Sept. 8, 2004 that by Sept. 4, 2004 there had been 368 homicides in the city, up 4.2 percent year-on-year. The USA Today reported on July 16, 2004 that in an average week in the US workplace one employee is killed and at least 25 are seriously injured in violent assaults by current or former co-workers. The Cincinnati Post reported on Nov. 12, 2004 that homicides average 17 a week and there are nearly 5,500 violent assaults a day at US job sites.

The United States has the biggest number of gun owners and gun violence has affected lots of innocent lives. According to a survey released by the University of Chicago in 2001, 41.7 percent of men and 28.5 percent of women in the United States report having a gun in their homes, and 29.2 percent of men and 10.2 percent of women personally own a gun. The Los Angeles Times reported on Jul. 19, 2004 that since 2000 the number of firearm holders rose 28 percent in California.

About 31,000 Americans are killed and 75,000 wounded by firearms each year, which means more than 80 people are shot dead each day. In 2002 there were 30,242 firearm killings in the United States; 54 percent of all suicides and 67 percent of all homicides were related to the use of firearms. The Associated Press reported that 808 people were shot dead in the first half of 2004 in Detroit.

Police violence and infringement of human rights by law enforcement agencies also constitute a serious problem. At present, 5,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States use TASER - a kind of electric shock gun, which sends out 50,000 volts of impulse voltage after hitting the target. Since 1999, more than 80 people died from TASER shootings, 60 percent of which occurred between November 2003 and November 2004.

A survey found that in the 17 years from 1985 to 2002, Los Angeles recorded more than 100 times increase in police shooting at automobile drivers, killing at least 25 and injuring more than 30 of them. Of these cases, 90 percent were due to misjudgment. (The Los Angeles Times, Feb. 29, 2004.)

On Jul. 21, 2004 Chinese citizen Zhao Yan was handcuffed and severely beaten while she was in the United States on a normal business trip. She suffered injuries in many parts of her body and serious mental harm.

The New York Times reported on Apr. 19, 2004 a comprehensive study of 328 criminal cases over the last 15 years in which the convicted person was exonerated suggests that there are thousands of innocent people in prison today. The study identified 199 murder exoneration, 73 of them in capital cases. In more than half of the cases, the defendants had been in prison for more than 10 years.

The United States characterizes itself as "a paradise for free people," but the ratio of its citizens deprived of freedom has remained among the highest in the world. Statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last November showed that the nation made an estimated 13.6 million arrests in 2003. The national arrest rate was 4,695.1 arrests per 100,000 people, 0.2 percent up than that of the previous year (USA Today, Nov. 8, 2004).

According to statistics from the Department of Justice, the number of inmates in the United States jumped from 320,000 in 1980 to 2 million in 2000, a hike by six times. From 1995 to 2003, the number of inmates grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the country, where one out of every 142 people is behind bars. The number of convicted offenders may total more than 6 million if parolees and probationers are also counted. The Chicago Tribune reported on Nov. 8 last year that the federal and state prison population amounted to 1.47 million last year, 2.1 percent more than in 2003. The number of criminals rose by over 5 percent in 11 states, with the growth in North Dakota up by 11.4 percent and in Minnesota by 10.3 percent.

Most prisons in the United States are overcrowded, but still cannot meet the demand. The country has spent an average of 7 billion US dollars a year building new jails and prisons in the past 10 years. California has seen only one college but 21 new prisons built since 1984.

Jails have become one of the huge and most lucrative industries, with a combined staff of more than 530,000 and being the second largest employer in the United States only after the General Motors. Private prisons are more and more common. The country now has over 100 private prisons in 27 states and 18 private prison companies. The value of goods and services created by inmates surged from 400 million US dollars in 1980 to 1.1 billion US dollars in 1994. Abuse of prisoners and violence occur frequently in US jails and prisons, which are under disorderly management. The Los Angeles Times reported on Aug. 15 last year that over 40 state prison systems were once under some form of court order, for brutality, crowding, poor food and lack of medical care.

The NewsWeek of the United States also reported last May that in Pennsylvania, Arizona and some other states, inmates are routinely stripped in front of others before being moved to a new prison or a new unit within their prison. Male inmates are often made to wear women's pink underwear as a form of humiliation. New inmates are frequently beaten and cursed at and sometimes made to crawl.

At a jail in New York City, some guards bump prisoners against the walls, pinch their arms and wrists, and force them to receive insulting checks nakedly. Some male inmates are sometimes compelled to stand in the nude before a group of women guards. Some female inmates go in shackles to hospital for treatment and nursing after they get ill or pregnant, some give births without a midwife, and some are locked to sickbeds with fetters after Caesarean operation.

Over 80,000 women prisoners in the United States are mothers, and the overall number of the minor children of the American women prisoners is estimated at some 200,000. The country had more than 3,000 pregnant women in jails from 2000 to 2003 and 3,000 babies were born to the prisoners during this period (see Mexico's Milenio on Feb. 21, 2004). It is estimated that at least more than 40,000 prisoners are locked up in the so-called "super jails", where the prisoner is confined to a very tiny cell, cannot see other people throughout the year, and has only one hour out for exercise every day.

Sexual harassment and encroachment are common in jails in the Unite States. The New York Times reported last October that at least 13 percent of inmates in the country are sexually assaulted in prison (Ex-Inmate's Suit Offers View Into Sexual Slavery in Prisons, The New York Times, Oct. 12, 2004). In jails of seven central and western US states, 21 percent of the inmates suffer sexual abuse at least once after being put in prison. The ratio is higher among women inmates, with nearly one fourth of them sexually assaulted by jail guards.

II. On Political Rights and Freedom

The United States claims to be "a paragon of democracy," but American democracy is manipulated by the rich and malpractices are common.

Elections in the United States are in fact a contest of money. The presidential and Congressional elections last year cost nearly 4 billion US dollars, some 1 billion US dollars or one third more than that spent in the 2000 elections. The 2004 presidential election has been listed as the most expensive campaign in the country's history (see, with the cost jumping to 1.7 billion US dollars from 1 billion US dollars in 2000. To win the election, the Democratic Party and Republican Party had to try their utmost to raise funds.

The Washington Post reported on Dec. 3 last year that the Democratic Party collected 389.8 million US dollars in electoral funds and the Republican Party raised 385.3 million US dollars, both hitting a record high (see Fundraising Records Broken by Both Major Political Parties, Washington Post on Dec. 3, 2004).

Data released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Dec. 14, 2004 show the average spending for Senate races was 2,518,750 US dollars in 2004, with the highest reaching 31,488,821 US dollars; and the average spending for House races was 511,043 US dollars (see, with the highest reaching 9,043,293 US dollars (see

The Republican Party, the Democratic Party and their periphery organizations spent a total of 1.2 billion US dollars on TV commercials, making this presidential election the most expensive in history. The TV commercials were broadcast 750,000 times, twice of the airings in the general election in 2000. In the Oct. 1 - 13 period in 2004, the Republican Party spent 14.5 million US dollars on advertising, and the Democratic Party's advertising spending amounted to 24 million US dollars in the first 20 days of October 2004.

In the elections, political parties and interest groups not only donated money for their favorite candidates, but also directly spent funds on maximizing their influence upon the elections. In Maryland, some corporate bosses donated as much as 130,000 US dollars. In return, the candidates after being elected would serve the interests of big political donators. The Baltimore Sun called this "Buying Power" (see "Buying Power", The Baltimore Sun, April 5, 2004). Due to the fact that local judges in 38 states need to be elected, quite a number of candidates began campaign advertising and looking for big donators. Some interest groups also got themselves involved in the judge election campaign.The US election system has quite a few flaws. The newly adopted Help America Vote Act of 2004 requires voters to offer a series of documents such as a stable residence or identification in registering, which in reality disenfranchises thousands of homeless people.

The United States is the only country in the world that rules out ex-inmates' right to vote, which disenfranchises 5 million ex-inmates and 13 percent male black people (see Milenio, Mexico, Oct. 22 2004).

The 2004 US presidential election reported many problems, including counting errors, machine malfunctions, registration confusion, legal uncertainty, and lack of respect for voters. According to a report carried by the USA Today on Dec. 28, 2004, due to counting errors, a review of election results in 10 counties nationwide by the Scripps Howard News Service found more than 12,000 ballots that weren't counted in the presidential race, almost one in every 10 ballots cast in those counties. Due to machine malfunctions, 92,000 ballots failed to record a vote for president in Ohio alone. Registration confusion made four fifths of the states go into the election without computerized statewide voter databases (see "Election Day Leftovers", USA Today, Dec. 28, 2004). The Democratic Party brought 35 lawsuits against the Republican Party in at least 17 states, charging the latter with threatening and blocking voters from registering or voting, especially minority ethnic groups. In Florida, the cases of black people being removed from voter registration list or their votes being denied were 10 times higher than people of other races. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on Sept. 22, 2004 that during the period of election, someone often distributed handbills to black voters to bilk and intimidate them by saying that anyone who defaulted electricity bills, apartment bills or parking fines would be arrested outside the polling booths. Some others pretended to be plainclothes outside polling booths and demanded voters show their identifications. However, black people who were able to present photo identification were less than one fifth of white people, therefore, many of them were rejected.

In the meantime, fabrications of disputable pictures and statements were put in the agenda of political maneuvers. Campaign advertisement and political debates were full of distorted facts, false information and lies. According to statistics of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of University of Pennsylvania, campaign advertisement for the 2004 US presidential election had a large proportion of false information that was enough to mislead voters, far beyond 50 percent in 1996. In the Republican camp, at least 75 percent contained untrue information and personal attacks. The website of the center ( listed at least 100 items of such information.

The US freedom of the press is filled with hypocrisy. Power and intimidation hang over the halo of press freedom. The New York Times published a commentary on March 30, 2004, saying that the US government's reliance on slandering had reached an unprecedented level in contemporary American political history, and the government prepared to abuse power at any moment to threat potential critics.

A collected works, Zensor USA, revealed that whenever the faults of government dignitaries or big companies were touched, the strong American press censorship system would snap at the journalists who insisted on investigation and made them the last sacrificial lamb. (see Das Schweigen der Journalisten, Handelsblatt, Germany, March 17, 2004).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) kept watch on a leader of freedom of speech movement in University of California at Berkeley for a decade long. Although no record showed he violated federal laws, the FBI hired someone to keep monitoring his daily activities and collect his personal information without permission from the court. (see SingTao Daily, Oct. 11, 2004).

On July 16, 2004 the US State Department made a regulation, in violation of the norms of most other countries, that foreign reporters should leave the country while waiting for the valid period of their visas to be extended. The annual report of Native American Journalists Association criticized the US administration for the move, which severely infringes upon press freedom. (see AP story, Antigua, Guatemala Oct. 24, 2004).

Someone with the American Society of Newspaper Editors said that the US administration's measures reflected its repulsion of foreign news media. (see Milenio, Mexico, June 20, 2004). In Iraq, the United States on the one hand alleged that it had brought democracy to the Iraqi people, on the other hand it suppressed public opinion. On March 28, 2004 US troops closed down a Shiite newspaper in Baghdad, which triggered a protest demonstration by thousands of Iraqi people.

On Sept. 27, the Association of American University Presses, Association of American Publishers and other organizations jointly lodged a complaint to the district court of Manhattan, New York, charging the Office of Foreign Assets Control under the Department of the Treasury with deliberately preventing literary works of Iranian, Cuban and Sudanese writers from entering the United States and turning the economic sanctions against the three countries into a "censorship system" to stop free dissemination of information and ideology. (see Xinhua story, Sept. 30, 2004).

In another case, eight reporters, including Jim Taricani of the TV station in Providence, Rhode Island with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Judith Miller of The New York Times, and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, were declared guilty for they declined to disclose the confidential sources of news. The New York Times pointed out on Nov. 10, 2004 that through these cases, it was found out that press freedom suffered rampant infringement.

In addition, in recent years, over a dozen foreign journalists have been detained in airports in the United States, including the one in Los Angeles. In March 2003, a Danish press-photographer was expelled out of the country after a DNA test. A Swiss journalist was rejected from entry of an airport in Washington D.C. The airport staffs by force took pictures and finger prints of the journalist. Meanwhile, he was not permitted to contact the Swiss embassy in the Unite States. In May, two groups of French journalists, altogether six members, were rejected of entry the US territory. They simply came to the Unite States to cover an exposition. Two Dutch journalists fell into trouble when they were covering a film award ceremony. In October and December, one British reporter and one Austrian journalist were held up at US airports respectively. In early May, 2004, a British female journalist, who was sent by The Guardian to Los Angeles to cover some events, was detained at the Los Angeles airport and faced interrogation and body search, and then was handcuffed and taken to the detention house in the downtown. There, she was detained for 26 hours before sent back to Britain.

III. On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The United States refuses to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and took negative attitude to the economic, social and cultural rights of the laborers. Poverty, hunger and homelessness have haunted the world richest country.

The population of people living in poverty has been on a steady rise. According to a report by The Sun on July, 6, 2004, from 1970 to 2000 (adjusted for inflation), the bottom 90 percent's average income stagnated while the top 10 percent experienced an average yearly income increase of nearly 90 percent. Upper-middle-and-upper-class families that constitute the top 10 percent of the income distribution are prospering while many among the remaining 90 percent struggle to maintain their standard of living. Worsening income disparities have formed two Americas. (Two Americas, The Baltimore Sun, July 6, 2004). According to a report of the Wall Street Journal on June 15, 2004, a study on the fall of 2003 by Arthur Kennickell of the Board of Governor of the Federal Reserve System showed that the nation's wealthiest 1 percent owned 53 percent of all the stocks held by families or individuals, and 64 percent of the bonds. They control more than a third of the nation's wealth. ( US Led a Resurgence Last Year Among Millionaires World-Wide, The Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2004). In Washington D.C., the top 20 percent of the city's households have 31 times the average income of the 20 percent at the bottom. (D.C. Gap in Wealth Growing, The Washington Post, July 22, 2004).

Since November 2003, the average income of most American families have been on the decline. The earning of many medium and low-income families could not keep up with the price rises. They could barely handle the situation. According to the statistics released by the US Census Bureau in 2004, the number of Americans in poverty has been climbing for three years. It rose by 1.3 million year-on-year in 2003 to 35.9 million. The poverty rate in 2003 hit 12.5 percent, or one in eight people, the highest since 1998. (Census: Poverty Rose By Million, USA Today, August 27, 2004, More Americans Were Uninsured and Poor in 2003, Census Finds, The New York Times, August 27, 2004).

The homeless population continues to rise nationwide. On Dec. 15, 2004, an annual survey report released at the US Conference of Mayors showed that the number of people seeking emergency food aid increased by 14 percent year-on-year while the number of people seeking emergency shelter aid increased by 6 percent. ( It is estimated that the homeless population reached 3.5 million in the United States. But the US Federal budget has stopped providing fund to build new affordable housing, which forced many local governments to cut the public housing projects. The city of San Diego has a homeless population of 8,000, but the government could only provide 3,000 temporary beds. Those without lodging tickets are regarded illegal to live on the streets. They would be summoned or detained. In January 2004, an investigator with the US Commission on Human Right denounced the US for large-scale infringement on human rights on housing issue.

The health insurance crisis has become prominent. A report of the Washington Post on Sept. 28, 2004 said health insurance costs posted their fourth straight year of double-digit increases in 2004. Over the past four years, health insurance costs have leaped 59 percent - about five times faster than both wage growth and inflation. Around 14.3 million Americans put one fourth of their income on the health expenses. (Higher Costs, Less Care, The Washington Post, September 28, 2004). Currently, family health insurance plan costs more than 10,000 US dollars each year. Many families could not afford it. Fewer workers have coverage - 61 percent in 2004, compared with 65 percent in 2001. (Health Plan Costs Jump 11%, The Washington Post, September 10, 2004) Compared with 2003, the number of people without health insurance increased 1.4 million to 45 million, or 15.6 percent of the country's population. (Census: Poverty Rose by Million, USA Today, August 27, 2004). In Texas, about one fourth of the workers don't have health insurance. (Spain Uprising newspaper, May 11, 2004). In California, around 6 million Californians don't have health insurance and the welfare system with the annual cost of 60 billion US dollars are about to collapse. (The Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2004). Meanwhile, medical accidents occurred one after another, becoming the third killer following heart disease and cancer. According to a report of Boston Globe on July 27, 2004, one out of every 25 in-patients become the victim of medical accident. From 2000 to 2002, 195,000 people died of medical accidents each year. The actual figure might be twice of that.

IV. On Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination has been deeply rooted in the United States, permeating into every aspects of society.

The colored people are generally poor, with living condition much worse than the white. According to a report of The Guardian of Britain on Oct. 9, 2004, the average net assets of a white family is 88,000 US dollars in 2002, 11 times of a family of Latin American ancestry, or nearly 15 times of a family of African ancestry. Nearly one third of the African ancestry families and 26 percent of the Latin American ancestry families have negative net assets. 74 percent of the white families have their own houses, while only 47 percent of families of the African and Latin American ancestry have their own houses. The market value of houses bought by black families is only 65 percent of those of white people. Black people's encounter of mortgage loans refusal for house purchase or furniture is twice that of white people. Some black families don't even think of buying their own houses. The death rate of illness, accident and murder among the black people is twice that of the white.

The rate of being victim of murders for the black people is five times that of the white. The rate of being affected by AIDS for the black people is ten times that of the whites while the rate of being diagnosed by diabetes for the black people is twice that of the whites. (The State Of Black America 2004, Issued by National Urban League on March 24, 2004,

Statistics show that the number of black people living in poverty is three times that of the white. The average life expectancy of the black is six years shorter than the white.

People of minority ethnic groups are biased against in employment and occupation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the United States received 29,000 complaints in 2003 of racial bias in the workplace (Racism in the 21st Century, published in USA Today May 5, 2004 issue).

Statistics provided by the United States Department of Labor also suggest that by November 2004, the unemployment rate for black and white people is 10.8 percent and 4.7 percent respectively ( In New York City, one of every two black men between 16 and 64 was not working by 2003 (see Nearly Half of Black Men Found Jobless, published by The New York Times on Feb. 28 2004). Black people not only have fewer job opportunities, but also earn less than white people. Even with the same job, a black man only earns 70 percent of that for a white man. Regions such as California, where immigrants make up a larger proportion of the local population, are almost like traps of death. Mexican Laborers who have come to work in the United States have a mortality as high as 80 percent.

Teenagers from at least 38 countries work like slaves (EFE San Francisco, Sept. 26, 2004). Out of 45 million people who are unable to afford Medicare in the United States, 7 million are African-Americans, accounting for about one fifth of the total African-Americans in the States. The proportion is 77 percent higher than that for the white people (available here).

The Declaration of Independence said all men are created equal, so the gap between black and white people is simply an insult to the founding essence of the United States (see US News and World Report on March 29, 2004).

Apartheid runs rampant at schools of the United States. On May 17, 1954, Chief justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court announced the court's decision over a case known as Brown v. Board of Education that the doctrine of "separate but equal" had no place in US public schools. Fifty years later, white children and black children in the United States still lead largely separate lives. One in eight southern black students attends a school that is 99 percent black. About a third attend schools that are at least 90 percent minority. In the Northeast, by contrast, more than half of blacks attend such schools (Schools and Lives Are Still Separate, The Washington Post, May 17, 2004).

Racism recurs on campus of American universities. Fascist slogans and posters promoting superiority of white people, along with threats by weapon or words were found on college campuses including University of California at Berkeley. Protests were sparked off when Santa Rosa Junior College in California published anti-Semitism opinions in a column article in its campus newspaper and the chat room of its website were dominated by white-superior surfers. At Dartmouth College, white girl students auctioned off black slaves in fund-raising activities. At the University of Southern Mississippi, hordes of white students assaulted four black students, chanting racist slogans after a football match was over. At Olivet College of Michigan State, where there are only 55 black students, 51 of the black students quitted school after racial cases of violence or harassment (see The China Press, a Chinese language newspaper published in New York, on April 17, 2004).

Racial prejudice has made social conflicts to become acute, causing a rise in hate crimes. Racial prejudice, most often directed at black people, was behind more than half of the nation's 7,489 reported hate crime incidents in 2003, the FBI said on Nov.22 2004. Race bias was behind 3,844 of the total cases in 2003, FBI claimed after having made statistics of hate crimes handled by 16 percent of the law-enforcement organizations in the States.

Reports of hate crimes motivated by anti-black bias totaled 2,548 in 2003, accounting for 51.4 percent of the total, more than double the total hate crimes against all other racial groups. There were 3,150 black victims in these reports, according to the annual FBI figures (AP, Washington, Jan. 26, 2004). And with regard to the attribute of race, among the 6,934 reported offenders, 62.3 percent were white (http:/

In a related development, because of the "lingering atmosphere of fear" stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks and fallout from the Iraq War, there were 1,019 anti-Muslim incidents in the United States in 2003, representing a 69 percent increase. There were 221 incidents in 2003 of anti-muslim bias in California, tripled a year ago (Los Angeles Times, May 3).

Racial prejudice is ubiquitous in judicial fields. The proportion for persons of colored races being sentenced or being imprisoned is notably higher than whites. In accordance with a report published in November 2004 by the US Department of Justice, colored races accounted for over 70 percent of inmates in the United States. And 29 percent of black people have the experience of being in jail for once. Black people make up 12.3 percent of the population in the United States, but by the end of 2003, out of 1.4 million prisoners who are serving jail terms above one year at the federal or state prisons, 44 percent were blacks, or on average, 3,231 in every 100,000 African-Americans were criminals. Latino-American inmates make up 19 percent of the total prisoners, or 1,778 in every 100,000 Latino-Americans are inmates. Inmates of other color races account for 21 percent ( At the end of 2003, 12.8 percent of black men aged 25 to 29 were in prison (Chicago Tribune, Nov. 8, 2004), compared 1.6 percent of white men in the same group (A Growing Need for Reform, The Baltimore Sun, June 20, 2004). Blacks receive, on average, a longer felony sentence than whites. A black person's average jail sentence is six months longer than a white's for the same crime. Blacks who are arrested are 3 times more likely to be imprisoned than whites who are arrested. White felons are more likely to get probation than blacks. (see the State Black America 2004, issued by National Urban League on March 24, 2004,

After the Sept. 11 incident, the United States openly restricts the rights of citizens under the cloak of homeland security, and uses diverse means including wire tapping of phone conversations and secret investigations, checks on all secret files, and monitoring transfers of fund and cash flows to supervise activities of its citizens, in which, people of ethnic minority groups, foreigners and immigrants become main victims.

Statistics show that after the Sept. 11 attacks, 32 million were investigated out of racial prejudice concern throughout the United States. Among the people being investigated out of racial prejudice concern, African-Americans made up 47 percent, followed by people of Latino and Asian origins. White Americans only account for 3 percent. On June 23, 2004, authorities with the Los Angeles Police Department and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation authorities investigated the televised beating of a black suspect by white police in Los Angeles that has resurrected the explosive spectre of the 1991 Rodney King assault. Eight police officers have been removed from regular duties following the incident on June 23 in which three of them were seen tackling the suspected black car thief, one beating him repeatedly with a metal flashlight (AFP, Los Angeles, June 24, 2004).

In the meantime, the anti-immigrant trend has become increasingly serious in the States. The US Department of Homeland Security announced in November 2004 that 157,281 immigrants were repatriated in one year, up 8 percent from a year ago, a record high. The number of foreigners arrested without any documents also went up by 112 percent (Argentina La Nacion, Nov. 21, 2004).

Another report says starting from last year, many American cities such as San Francisco, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Miami, Saint Paul, Denver, Kansas and Portland, dozens of immigrants from Mexico or other countries are arrested each day and are forced to wear fetters like suspects. The practice of treating illegal immigrants like criminals has become a national trend. The limit in the definition of terrorists and illegal immigrants has become very blurry.

V. On The Rights of Women and Children

The situation of American women and children was disturbing. The rates of women and children physically or sexually victimized were high. According to FBI Crime Statistics, in 2003 the United States witnessed 93,233 cases of raping. Virtually 63.2 in every 100,000 women fell victims. The statistics also showed that every two minutes one woman was sexually assaulted and every six minutes one woman was raped.

The number of women abused and treated at First Aid Centers exceeded one million every year. More than 1,500 women in the United States were killed every year by their husbands, lovers or roommates (The Milenio, Mexico, Sept. 26, 2004). Nearly 78 percent of American women were physically victimized at least once in their lifetime. And 79 percent of the women were sexually abused at least once. A survey released in November 2004 by the US National Institute of Justice showed by the time they concluded four years of college education, 88 percent of the women had experiences of physical or sexual victimization and 64 percent of them experienced both. In the past decade, charges handled by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against sexual harassment on women surged 22 percent (The Sun, Jul. 16, 2004).

Sex crimes in the US military were on the rise. According to the Washington Post (Jun. 3, 2004), from 1999 to 2002 the number of lawsuits against sexual crimes in the US army that were formally filed grew from 658 to 783, up 19 percent. And the number of rape cases went up from 356 to 445, up 25 percent. The number of such cases rose equally 5 percent between 2002 and 2003. The British Guardian reported on Oct. 25, 2004 that by the end of September 2004 the Miles Foundation had dealt with 242 cases filed between September 2002 and August 2003 about US woman soldiers being raped or sexually harassed in Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain or Afghanistan. In addition, there were 431 cases of US women soldiers being sexually harassed at other military bases.

Women's labor and social rights were violated. According to The Sun newspaper (Jul. 16, 2004), the charges handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on sexual discrimination against women grew 12 percent in the past decade. In 2004 two cases drew wide attention. They were a bias class lawsuit involving 1.6 million women employees at Wal-Mart and another case involving 340 women staffers of Morgan Stanley (New York Times, Jul. 13, 2004).

Men and women on the same job were not paid the same. Statistics released by the US Labor Department in Jan. 2004 showed a woman who worked full time had the median earning of 81.1 percent of that for a man. The Chicago Tribune said on Aug. 27, 2004 that the rate of women in poverty went up fast, to 12.4 percent of the entire female population.

The health care for American women was at a low level. The US Family Medical Leave Act guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for childbirth to about half of all mothers and nothing for the rest. A study of 168 countries conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health indicated that US workers have fewer rights to time off for family matters than workers in most other countries, and rank near the bottom in pregnancy and sick leave. "The United States trails enormously far behind the rest of the world when it comes to legislation to protect the health and welfare of working families," said Jody Heymann, a Harvard associate professor who led the study. (AP Boston, Jun. 17, 2004)

Child poverty was a serious problem. The Chicago Tribune reported on Aug. 27, 2004 that the number of children in poverty climbed from 12.1 million in 2002 to 12.9 million in 2003, a year-on-year increase of 0.9 percent. About 20 million children lived in "low-income working families" -- with barely enough money to cover basic needs (AP Washington, Oct. 12, 2004). In California, one in every six children did not have medical insurance. The Los Angeles Times said on May 6, 2004 that in the metropolitan area the number of homeless children found wondering on the streets at nights numbered 8,000, which had stretched the 2,500-bed government-run emergency shelter system well beyond capacity. Poverty deprived many children the opportunity to obtain higher education. In the 146 renowned institutions of higher learning, only 3 percent of the students came from the low-income class, while 74 percent of them were from the high-income class.

Children were victims of sex crimes. Every year about 400,000 children in the US were forced to engage in prostitution or other sexual dealings on the streets. Home-deserting or homeless children were the most likely to fall victims of sexual abuse. Reports on children sexually exploited, which were received by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, soared from 4,573 cases in 1998 to 81,987 cases in 2003 (The USA Today, Feb. 27,2004).

In recent years scandals about clergymen molesting children kept breaking out. According to a study commissioned by the American Catholic Bishops, in 2004 a total of 756 catholic priests and lay employees were charged with child sexual harassment. It is believed that from 1950 to 2002 more than 10,600 boys and girls were sexually abused by nearly 4,400 clergymen (AFP, Feb. 17, 2005). Moreover, every year over 4.5 million kids in the United States were molested in kindergartens and schools, which amounted to one in every ten (AP, Jul. 14, 2004).

Violent crimes occurred frequently. Studies show nearly 20 percent of US juveniles lived in families that possessed guns. In Washington D.C. 24 people younger than 18 were killed in 2004, twice as many as in 2003 (The Washington Post, Jan. 1, 2005). In Baltimore, 29 juveniles were killed from Jan. 1 to Sept. 27 in 2004. In 2003 35 were killed (The Washington Post, Sept. 28, 2004).

A report released by the US Justice Department on November 29, 2004 said about 9 percent of school kids aged 9 to 12 admitted being threatened with injury or having suffered an injury from a weapon while at school in 2003.

More and more schoolers were reluctant to go to school because of security concerns. Child abuses and neglects were widely reported in the United States. The Sun newspaper reported on May 18, 2004 that in 2002, a total of 900,000 children in the United States were abused, of whom nearly 1,400 died.

Every year, 1.98 out of every 100,000 American children were killed by their parents or guardians. In Maryland, the rate was as high as 2.4 per 100,000. (Md Child Abuse Deaths Exceed National Average, The Sun, May 18, 2004). The Houston Chronicle newspaper reported on Oct. 2, 2004 that in Texas, each staff of local government departments responsible for protecting children's rights handled 50 child abuse cases every month.

Two thirds of juvenile detention facilities in the United States lock up mentally ill youth; every day, about 2,000 youth were incarcerated simply because community mental health services were unavailable. In 33 states, juvenile detention centers held youth with mental illness without any specific charges against them (link).

The USA Today reported on July 8, 2004 that between Jan. 1 and June 30 of 2003, 15,000 youth detained in US youth detention centers were awaiting mental health services, while children at the age of 10 or younger were locked up in 117 youth detention centers. The detention centers totally ignored human rights and personal safety with excessive use of drugs and force, and failed to take care of inmates with mental problems in a proper way. They even locked up prisoners in cages. There were reports about scandals involving correctional authorities in California, where two juvenile inmates hanged themselves after they were badly beaten by jail police (San Jose Mercury News and Singtao Daily, March 18, 2004).

VI. On the Infringement of Human Rights of Foreign Nationals

In 2004, US army service people were reported to have abused and insulted Iraqi POWs, which stunned the whole world. The US forces were blamed for their fierce and dirty treatments for these Iraqi POWs. They made the POWs naked by force, masking their heads with underwear (even women's underwear), locking up their necks with a belt, towing them over the ground, letting military dogs bite them, beating them with a whip, shocking them with electric batons, needling them sometimes, and putting chemical fluids containing phosphorus on their wounds. They even forced some of the these POWs to play "human-body pyramid" while staying naked, in the presence of US soldiers who were standing on the roof and mocking at them. They sometimes sodomized these POWs with lamp pipes and brooms. Some Iraqi civilians were also fiercely abused.

The newspaper Pyramid pointed out that the true face of Americans was exposed through this incident. A spokesman of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said, sarcastically, that the US has made the whole world see what the hell a democratic, law-ruled nation is.

According to US media like the Newsweek and the Washington Post, as early as several years ago, in US forces' prisons in Afghanistan, interrogators used various kinds of torture tools for acquiring confession, causing many deaths.

British newspaper The Observer reported on March 14, 2004 that according to a report by the ICRC, US soldiers had formed a kind of mode for arresting people even before the Iraq war. "Torture is part of the process."

Over 100 former Iraqi high-ranking government and military officials were put under special custody by the US military. They stayed 23 hours a day in dark, small and tightly closed concrete-made wards, where they were allowed to leave the wards twice a day, with 20 minutes available for taking a bath or going to the toilet.

On Nov. 26, Iraqi Lieutenant General Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti was put in a sleeping bag by force and died after he was physically tortured during an interrogation.

According to a latest report by AP, on Feb. 18, 2005, in November 2003, CIA people hanged dead one of the so-called "ghost" prisoner in the Abu Ghraib Prison by fierce means, with his two hands cuffed behind his back. When he was released with shackles and lowered, blood gushed from his mouth "as if a faucet had been turned on."

Among the 94 abuse cases confirmed and published by the Office of the US Inspector General for the Filed Army, 39 people were killed, 20 of these cases were confirmed as murder. There were also severe child abuses conducted by the US forces.

At least 107 children were imprisoned in seven prisons including the Abu Ghraib Prison run by the US forces in Afghanistan. They were not allowed to get in contact with their families. Their term in prison was undetermined. It was not clear when they were going to be brought court hearing. Some of these children had been abused. One low-ranking US officer who had served in the Abu Ghraib Prison testified that US soldiers abused some of these children in custody, and they had even assaulted young girls sexually.

What's more fierce is that US soldiers used military dogs to frighten these juvenile prisoners to see whose dog could scare them to lose control on excretion. US forces had violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, by detaining two Palestinian diplomats to Iraq in a prison ward of the Abu Ghraib Prison, together with 90 other men. They spent one year in the prison, suffering from very poor living conditions.

The ICRC believed that abuse of detained Iraqis in the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison was not a single case. It was a systematic behavior. According to some White House documents that were made public on June 22, 2004, the Department of Defense approved to use harsh means to interrogate prisoners in Guantanamo, Cuba.

The US Secretary of Defense said in the public that the Geneva Convention does not mean that all the detainees, especially those who were so-called "non-fighting personnel", should be treated as a POW. A draft memorandum of the Department of Defense also claimed that US laws and international conventions, including the Geneva Convention, which strictly ban the use of torture, do not apply to US President as the General Commander of the US Army. A memorandum of the US Department of Justice makes it even more clearly that the United States could use international laws to measure other countries on the issue of the treatment of POWs, while it is not necessary for Washington to abide by these laws. The interrogators were trained to find ways to torture prisoners, physically, while they should exceed the Geneva Convention, technically.

Media found that the US soldiers' behaviors in humiliating Iraqi prisoners as showed photos were typically what they were trained for. US Brigadier General Yanis Karpinski told the press that her boss once said to her that "prisoners are dogs." If they were made to think that they were a bit better than dogs, they could get out of control.

Meanwhile, the US government has tried for the third successive year to extend the term of a resolution of the UN Security Council that soldiers could be exempted of lawsuit by the International Criminal Court, even if they break the relevant rules. In view of prisoner abuses in Iraq, this has been strongly criticized by the UN General Secretary (Reuters' story on June 17,2004).

Former US President Jimmy Carter also criticized that the US policies formulated by the high-ranking officials are a kind of retrogression, which has damaged the principles of democracy and rule of law and lacked respect for fundamental human rights.

To avoid international scrutiny, the United States keeps under wraps half of its 20-odd detention centers worldwide which are holding terrorist suspects. And at least seven US-controlled clandestine prisons, one of which dubbed "inferno," in Afghanistan, have not been kept within the bounds of law. (Prensa Latina, Aug. 16, 2004)

In a report by the Human Rights First on 24 US secret interrogation centers, these secret facilities are believed to "make inappropriate detention and abuse not only likely but virtually inevitable." (British newspaper the Times, Sept. 11, 2004)

Moreover, an executive jet is being used by the American intelligence agencies to fly terrorist suspects to other countries, in a bid to use torture and evade American laws. The plane is leased by the US Defense Department and the CIA from a private company in Massachusetts. Being accused of making so-called "torture flights," the jet has conducted more than 300 flights and has flown to 49 destinations outside the United States, including the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. The suspects are frequently bound, gagged and sedated before being put on board the plane (British newspaper the Times, Nov. 14, 2004). The United States has secretly shifted thousands of captives worldwide in the past three years, most of whom were not indicted officially.

The United States is the No. 1 military power in the world, and its military spending has kept shooting up. Its fiscal 2005 defense budget hit a historical high of 422 billion US dollars, an increase of 21 billion dollars over fiscal 2004. As the biggest arms dealer in the world, the United States has made a fortune out of war. Its transactions of conventional weapons exceeded 14.5 billion dollars in 2003, up 900 million dollars year-on-year and accounting for 56.7 percent of the total sales worldwide. The Iraq War has been "a helping straw" to the US economic development.

The United States frequently commits wanton slaughters during external invasions and military attacks. Spain's Uprising newspaper on May, 12, 2004 published a list of human rights infringement incidents committed by the US troops, quoting two bloodthirsty sayings of two American generals, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead" by General Philip Sheridan and "we should bomb Vietnam back to the stone age" by air force general Curtis LeMay. We can still smell a similar bloodiness in the Iraq War waged by the United States.

Statistics from the health department of the interim Iraqi government show 3,487 people, including 328 women and children, have been killed and another 13,720 injured in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces between April 15 and Sept. 19 in 2004.

A survey on Iraqi civilian deaths, based on the natural death rate before the war, estimates that the US-led invasion might have led to 100,000 more deaths in the country, with most victims being women and children.

Jointly designed and conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, the survey also finds that the majority of the additional, unnatural deaths since the invasion were caused by violence, while air strikes from the coalition forces were the main factor to blame for the violence-caused deaths. (Associated Press, Oct. 28, 2004)

On Jan. 3, 2004, four US soldiers stationed in Iraq pushed two Iraqi civilians into the Tigris River, making one of them drowned.

On May 19, 2004, an American helicopter fired on a wedding party in a remote Iraqi village close to the Syrian border, killing 45 people, including 15 children and 10 women. On Nov. 20, 2004, seven people were killed in Ramadi in the Anbar province when US troops opened fire on a civilian bus.

According to a Staff Sergeant in the US Marines, his platoon killed 30 civilians in six weeks. And he has witnessed the blasphemy and gradual rotting of many corpses, and a lot of wounded civilians were deserted without any medical treatment. (British newspaper The Independent, May 23, 2004)

In addition, the US troops often plunder Iraqi households when tracking down anti-US militants since the invasion. The American forces has so far committed at least thousands of robberies and 90 percent of the Iraqis that have been rummaged are innocent.

The United States has been hindering the work of the United Nation's human rights mechanism. And it either took no notice of or used delaying tactics on the requests of relevant UN agencies to visit its Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

Some justice-upholding developing countries introduced draft resolutions on America's democracy and human rights situation to the 59th UN General Assembly, to show their strong concern over the US human rights infringement, prisoner abuse, media control, and loopholes in its election system.

It is the common goal and obligation for all countries in the world to promote and safeguard human rights. No country in the world can claim itself as perfect and has no room for improvement in the human rights area. And no country should exclude itself from the international human rights development process, or view itself as the incarnation of human rights which can reign over other countries and give orders to the others. Even the United States shall be no exception.

Despite tons of problems in its own human rights, the United States continues to stick to its belligerent stance, wantonly trample on the sovereignty of other countries, and constantly stage tragedies of human rights infringement in the world.

Instead of indulging itself in publishing the "human rights country report" to censure other countries unreasonably, the United States should reflect on its erroneous behavior on human rights and take its own human rights problems seriously. The double standards of the United States on human rights and its exercise of hegemonism and power politics under the pretext of promoting human rights will certainly put itself in an isolated and passive position and beget opposition from all just members of the international community.

Comment: We have included the entire text of this Chinese Report on Human Rights in the United States because it is rife with statistics and details of the true face of American democracy: freedom for the rich to pillage as much as they possibly can from the rest of the population. From a general environment of violence that renders the population tense and fearful to a belligerent policy internationally where the US sees itself as above the law and arrogant enough to pass judgement on others with no accountability for its own actions.

Furthermore, US leaders can get away with this because there is no one to hold their feet to the fire and who will ask them pointed questions about the lies, the half-truths, and the hypocrisy that so easily rolls off their tongues every time they open their mouths. Some live in a bubble of adulation and synchopants where their own illusion is fed back in a feed-back loop from hell pulling them further and further away from reality. Others are conscious of the lies and knowingly tell them aware that most people don't care, and therefore deserve to be lied to, while others, who do recognise them for what they are, won't say anything, too cowed to confront the powerful, and are also not deserving of the truth.

It takes courage to face the truth because it will conflict with our desires, our wishful thinking, the way we wish the world to be. The truth will force us to look at ourselves and our lies, both to others and, most especially, to ourselves. How many Americans are there who would be unable to look objectively at the Chinese report because it would call into question their own beliefs about the country of their birth and the system within which they have been raised? That in turn raises questions about who they are as "Americans".

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America By The Numbers - No. 1?
by Michael Ventura
City Pages
February 23, 2005

No concept lies more firmly embedded in our national character than the notion that the USA is "No. 1," "the greatest." Our broadcast media are, in essence, continuous advertisements for the brand name "America Is No. 1." Any office seeker saying otherwise would be committing political suicide. In fact, anyone saying otherwise will be labeled "un-American." We're an "empire," ain't we? Sure we are. An empire without a manufacturing base. An empire that must borrow $2 billion a day from its competitors in order to function. Yet the delusion is ineradicable. We're No. 1. Well...this is the country you really live in:

The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (the New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).

The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the earth. Seventeen percent believe the earth revolves around the sun once a day (The Week, Jan. 7, 2005).

"The International Adult Literacy Survey...found that Americans with less than nine years of education 'score worse than virtually all of the other countries'" (Jeremy Rifkin's superbly documented book The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, p.78).

Our workers are so ignorant and lack so many basic skills that American businesses spend $30 billion a year on remedial training (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004). No wonder they relocate elsewhere!

"The European Union leads the U.S. in...the number of science and engineering graduates; public research and development (R&D) expenditures; and new capital raised" (The European Dream, p.70).

"Europe surpassed the United States in the mid-1990s as the largest producer of scientific literature" (The European Dream, p.70).

Nevertheless, Congress cut funds to the National Science Foundation. The agency will issue 1,000 fewer research grants this year (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004).

Foreign applications to U.S. grad schools declined 28 percent last year. Foreign student enrollment on all levels fell for the first time in three decades, but increased greatly in Europe and China. Last year Chinese grad-school graduates in the U.S. dropped 56 percent, Indians 51 percent, South Koreans 28 percent (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004). We're not the place to be anymore.

The World Health Organization "ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. [was]...37th." In the fairness of health care, we're 54th. "The irony is that the United States spends more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world" (The European Dream, pp.79-80). Pay more, get lots, lots less.

"The U.S. and South Africa are the only two developed countries in the world that do not provide health care for all their citizens" (The European Dream, p.80). Excuse me, but since when is South Africa a "developed" country? Anyway, that's the company we're keeping.

Lack of health insurance coverage causes 18,000 unnecessary American deaths a year. (That's six times the number of people killed on 9/11.) (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005.)

"U.S. childhood poverty now ranks 22nd, or second to last, among the developed nations. Only Mexico scores lower" (The European Dream, p.81). Been to Mexico lately? Does it look "developed" to you? Yet it's the only "developed" country to score lower in childhood poverty.

Twelve million American families--more than 10 percent of all U.S. households--"continue to struggle, and not always successfully, to feed themselves." Families that "had members who actually went hungry at some point last year" numbered 3.9 million (NYT, Nov. 22, 2004).

The United States is 41st in the world in infant mortality. Cuba scores higher (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).

Women are 70 percent more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).

The leading cause of death of pregnant women in this country is murder (CNN, Dec. 14, 2004).

"Of the 20 most developed countries in the world, the U.S. was dead last in the growth rate of total compensation to its workforce in the 1980s.... In the 1990s, the U.S. average compensation growth rate grew only slightly, at an annual rate of about 0.1 percent" (The European Dream, p.39). Yet Americans work longer hours per year than any other industrialized country, and get less vacation time.

"Sixty-one of the 140 biggest companies on the Global Fortune 500 rankings are European, while only 50 are U.S. companies" (The European Dream, p.66). "In a recent survey of the world's 50 best companies, conducted by Global Finance, all but one were European" (The European Dream, p.69).

"Fourteen of the 20 largest commercial banks in the world today are European.... In the chemical industry, the European company BASF is the world's leader, and three of the top six players are European. In engineering and construction, three of the top five companies are European.... The two others are Japanese. Not a single American engineering and construction company is included among the world's top nine competitors. In food and consumer products, Nestlé and Unilever, two European giants, rank first and second, respectively, in the world. In the food and drugstore retail trade, two European companies...are first and second, and European companies make up five of the top ten. Only four U.S. companies are on the list" (The European Dream, p.68).

The United States has lost 1.3 million jobs to China in the last decade (CNN, Jan. 12, 2005).

U.S. employers eliminated 1 million jobs in 2004 (The Week, Jan. 14, 2005).

Three million six hundred thousand Americans ran out of unemployment insurance last year; 1.8 million--one in five--unemployed workers are jobless for more than six months (NYT, Jan. 9, 2005).

Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea hold 40 percent of our government debt. (That's why we talk nice to them.) "By helping keep mortgage rates from rising, China has come to play an enormous and little-noticed role in sustaining the American housing boom" (NYT, Dec. 4, 2004). Read that twice. We owe our housing boom to China, because they want us to keep buying all that stuff they manufacture.

Sometime in the next 10 years Brazil will probably pass the U.S. as the world's largest agricultural producer. Brazil is now the world's largest exporter of chickens, orange juice, sugar, coffee, and tobacco. Last year, Brazil passed the U.S. as the world's largest beef producer. (Hear that, you poor deluded cowboys?) As a result, while we bear record trade deficits, Brazil boasts a $30 billion trade surplus (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

As of last June, the U.S. imported more food than it exported (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

Bush: 62,027,582 votes. Kerry: 59,026,003 votes. Number of eligible voters who didn't show up: 79,279,000 (NYT, Dec. 26, 2004). That's more than a third. Way more. If more than a third of Iraqis don't show for their election, no country in the world will think that election legitimate.

Forty-three percent of Americans think torture is sometimes justified, according to a PEW Poll (Associated Press, Aug. 19, 2004).

"Nearly 900,000 children were abused or neglected in 2002, the last year for which such data are available" (USA Today, Dec. 21, 2004).

"The International Association of Chiefs of Police said that cuts by the [Bush] administration in federal aid to local police agencies have left the nation more vulnerable than ever" (USA Today, Nov. 17, 2004).

No. 1? In most important categories we're not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close.

The USA is "No. 1" in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.

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Local Police: Are they out of control?
LA Indymedia

Reports of unexplained police shootings continue to surface. Even the main stream media can not ignore it. People are asking: Are the police out of control?

[warning this report contains graphic video of police machine gunning a person to death]

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US developing 'pain from a distance' weapon
SourceBy Nic Fleming, Science Correspondent

The US military is developing a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from afar to use against protesters and rioters.

Documents released under the US Freedom of Information Act show that scientists have received funding to investigate how much pain can be induced in individuals hit by electromagnetic pulses created by lasers without killing them.

Due to be ready for use in 2007, the Pulsed Energy Projectile weapon is designed to trigger extreme pain from a distance of one-and-a-quarter miles.

It fires a laser pulse that generates a burst of expanding plasma - electrically charged gas - when it hits something solid. Tests on animals showed it produced "pain and temporary paralysis".

Pain researchers told today's New Scientist magazine that the technology could end up being used for torture and that it was unethical.

Andrew Rice, a consultant in pain medicine in London, said: "I am deeply concerned about the ethical aspects of this research."

Comment: Taser Plus. If the US economy tanks in the next couple of years, the police and military will have need of a new weapon against "rioters", i.e., the penniless and starving American people.

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Christian right mum on Gannon Affair
Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange

Why have the 'traditional family values' folks erected a wall of silence around the Gannon scandal?

They were livid over SpongeBob Square Pants' participation in a video advocating tolerance, and fuming about Buster the Bunny's visit to a lesbian household. So where's the outrage from the Christian right over the Jeff Gannon Affair? Despite a chunk of time having passed since the Gannon Affair was first uncovered, Christian right organizations are still cloaked in silence. As of February 24, there wasn't any news about the Gannon Affair available on the Web sites of Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, or the Traditional Values Coalition. As best as I could determine, no special alerts about the Gannon Affair have been issued; and no campaigns have been launched to get to the bottom of the matter.

Curious about this wall of silence, I phoned several Christian right groups on Tuesday, February 22, hoping to find someone who could comment on the Gannon Affair. This is what I found:

Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family: I filled out an interview form and waited to hear back. Several hours later, a FotF administrative assistant called me to say that no one there could answer my questions about Gannon. She said a lot of folks were out sick and no one was available. "Would someone be available tomorrow or Thursday," I asked. She pointed out that no one would be available the following day or the day after to talk about this issue. "Next week?" "No."

* The Family Research Council: I spoke with Amber Hildebrand, FRC's Media Director. She said "We haven't made any public comments about this. There have been other pressing issues that have taken precedent, although this came as a shock to FRC." Hildebrand said she would see if FRC's Vice President of Government Affairs Connie Mackey, would talk with me. At press time (Thursday evening) Mackey has not called.

* The Traditional Values Coalition: I filled out an interview form and waited for a call back. As of 2.22, TVC Action Alerts are focused on the persecution and subsequent dismissal of charges against the "Philadelphia 5," a group of fundamentalists that disrupted a pro-gay activity in Philadelphia in order to preach "the Gospel to homosexuals," and on Columbia House for developing "a new subsidiary called Hush to market pornographic materials in association with Playboy and other pornography companies." At press time no one had returned my call. After making a second call, a TVC spokesperson told me that "no one is available to speak on that topic right now."

* The Free Congress Foundation: Over at Paul Weyrich's Washington, DC-based organization, Jill Farrell, the Director of Communications told me that she hadn't "heard anyone say anything at all" about the Gannon Affair.

The editors at Town Hall, the Heritage Foundation's one stop shopping center for conservative ideas, and the Rev. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association, currently involved in trashing HBO's Bill Maher over recent remarks he made about religion, didn't return my calls. Charisma News Service and the Christian Response Network didn't respond to my email questions about their lack of coverage of the Gannon Affair.

That was then...

While waiting for callbacks, my minds eye drifted back to the Clinton White House. Tim Bannon, a liberal activist, had made his way into a presidential press conference; Bannon had been attending press briefings for nearly two years, under the name Slim Cannon. No one seemed knew much about, the Internet news service he worked with, but many suspected it was a front group for the Democrats.

Clinton had been taking a well-publicized beating over the Monica Lewinsky Affair. At the president's first press conference in quite some time, he called on Cannon, who asked the following question: "Mr. President, given revelations about House Speaker Newt Gingrich's serial affairs and the abandonment of his wife when she had cancer, and given that Congressman Bob Livingston has a similar record of perfidious peccadilloes, and given stories about the sexual shenanigans of a host of televangelists including Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, could you please comment on whether the right wing media, isn't selectively focusing on the Lewinsky Affair, and doesn't want to deal with sexual scandals in its own backyard?"

Less than twenty-four hours later, a host of right wing Web sites -- suspicious that Cannon may have been planted by the White House -- discovered that Slim Cannon's cannon was prominently featured on a number of gay porn sites, and that in his off hours he may have been a gay "escort." Intrepid researchers find out that Cannon had been privy to secret documents before any other duly accredited White House reporters.

"Clinton's gay consort" became the right's theme for the next several months.

Reality-based fans will recognize that the above scenario never happened. If a Tim Bannon, as Slim Cannon, had insinuated himself into the White House on President Clinton's watch, and lobbed softball question after softball question, all hell would have broken loose. Right wing media, and the pulpits and newsletters of fundamentalist Christians, would have been ranting and raving: "Where's the outrage?" Bob Dole's mantra from his failed 1996 presidential campaign might actually have finally resonated. The mainstream media would have no doubt jumped on board.

This is now...

What has actually happened bears some resemblance to our fictitious scenario. The major difference is that the scandal involving Jeff Gannon, whose real name is James D. Guckert, is happening on President George W. Bush's watch. The vituperative voices of the right are quiet and their voracious appetites for sex, slime and salacious details about Democratic dalliances have disappeared since it's a GOP scandal.

On the heels of the payola scandal involving Bush Administration payoffs to Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and McManus -- a loose coalition of the shilling -- along comes the Gannon/Guckert affair.

James D. Guckert, as Gannon, represented a conservative news site called Talon News. Somehow, within a short time of his entering "journalism," Gannon was able to get credentialed and attend numerous White House briefings and lob softballs at White House officials. According to, "Gannon was actually in the White House as early as February 28, 2003 -- a month before Talon News even existed. Gannon also got called on by President Bush at one of his rare news conferences. Gannon ended his question with "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?" referring to Senator Hillary Clinton and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Details of the Gannon/Guckert affair are still being uncovered. Thanks to the blogosphere and largely through the efforts of Media Matters for America and John Aravosis' Americablog we are learning more than we ever wanted to know about someone we rather no little about. These blogs, and a handful of other enterprising bloggers, blew the lid off Gannon's shameful charade. Beneath the lid was James D. Guckert in pre-fig leaf Garden of Eden splendor: As a contributor to such sites as,,, and, Gannon's cannon is on full display.

"'Jeff' has now quit Talon News," writes Frank Rich in the February 20 edition of the New York Times, "not because he and it have been exposed as fakes but because of other embarrassing blogosphere revelations linking him to sites like and to an apparently promising career as an X-rated $200-per-hour "escort." (For more on all of this including links to some of Gannon/Guckert's Web sites, see Americablog.)

There are innumerable aspects of the Gannon/Guckert Affair that should keep curious mainstream reporters busy for quite some time: how did Gannon/Guckert get into all those White House press briefings and the President's press conference?; Was he on the payroll of Team Bush?; Did he play a role revealing Valerie Plame's CIA employment? -- the investigation is ongoing; how did he get by with being a phony right wing reporter by day and a gay prostitute by night?

A few weeks back, editorialized: "The Gannon story touches upon everything from manufactured news to manufactured 'reporters' to the Valerie Plame affair to websites that have a connection to the White House, but appear independent, to a Bush Cartel hypocrisy about gays, to payola, to scripted Bush news conferences, to who knows what. This is a BIG media story that should be on the cover of the New York Times and Post."

Unable to speak with representatives from Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition, I turned to Joe Conn of American United for Separation of Church and State and John Aravosis, the creator of Americablog.

In a telephone interview, Conn said he wasn't surprised that there hasn't been any response from Christian right organizations because "The religious right is pretty much a team player when it comes to the Bush Administration. Unless it's an issue like same-sex marriage -- a core issue of their agenda -- they will give the president a pass."

"Clearly this is an example of the religious right's hypocrisy," Conn point out. "If it was Bill Clinton they would be in total uproar."

Via e-mail, I asked Aravosis why he thought the Christian right was being silent about the Gannon Affair.

"Because they're hypocrites," he wrote in an e-mail. "They know this scandal is hurting Bush and they put politics ahead of their God. That's how petty and un-Christian they are."

Comment: Who ever said that mendacity, duplicity and hypocrisy were NOT an integral part of fundamentalist religious types? Who ever said that organised monotheistic religion was anything less than the ultimate tool of corrupt men to control the ignorant masses?

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King of Gonzo has the last word
Julian Borger in Washington
Thursday March 3, 2005
The Guardian

It might not have the majesty of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or the viciousness of his attacks on the American dream. But the last written word of Hunter S Thompson, who died last week, has left the literary world intrigued.

According to a sheriff's report, the author's body was found in a chair by his kitchen table, on which a typewriter had been placed and a page of writing paper had been lined up with the word "counselor" (sic) typed at its centre.

A fierce social critic, satirist, and anti-war activist, Thompson, 67, killed himself with a shot from a pistol at home in Aspen, Colorado.

The police report describes how his son, Juan Thompson, walked outside the house after discovering the body and fired three shotgun blasts into the air, later saying he had done it to "mark the passing of his father".

The significance of the writer's last word was unclear yesterday. It could have been the beginning of a letter addressed to a lawyer (one of the American uses of the word counsellor, along with therapist or adviser), he may have been describing himself, or he might simply have wished to confound those looking for neat explanations for his suicide - an echo of Rosebud, the central character's last word in the film Citizen Kane.

One possible clue is the paper it was written on - headed stationery of the Fourth Amendment Foundation, an organisation he had just set up to defend privacy rights against the threat of unwarranted search and seizure by the authorities.

In one of his last interviews, Thompson said: "There has to be some defence against having this government in vain, seize, take over, invade our lives and our personal privacy... every day." Thompson's friends said he was in despair over the state of civil liberties and President George Bush's re-election in November.

His family cancelled plans for a public funeral in favour of a private ceremony, but there are still plans to blast Thompson's ashes from a cannon, apparently one of his final wishes.

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Welcome to the Bizarre World of Rep. Sam Johnson
Texas Republican Congressman: "Nuke Syria"

I covered Rep. Sam Johnson [R-Texas] when he first ran for Congress in 1991. He was so "honest" that he didn't even live in the district - he just rented an apartment in the district to run.

That was technically legal, but many raised questions about him using a loophole to run. I was one of the few reporters to write about that at the time, but it didn't stop Johnson from winning the election.

Now, Johnson wants to kill everyone in Syria in one nuclear swoop, just because he has some unproven notion that weapons of mass destruction are being hidden there. That would include the relatives of my kids - who are part Syrian. Not to mention, the nuke would probably take out much of the Middle East, including Israel. And it would affect weather patterns and cause cancer in surrounding areas for years, if not decades.

His chief of staff says Johnson doesn't really want to nuke Syria, but I don't buy that. He has said this at least twice, including to a public gathering in a speech in a church, no less, on Feb. 19, and privately to Bush himself at the White House. Remember what Bush once tried to say: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame ­ won't get fooled again."

What's also sad is that many in the audience at the church applauded right after Johnson said he wants to nuke Syria. In fact, "the crowd roared with applause," according to a report in the non-partisan Roll Call publication that covers Capitol Hill.

Here is the item with more details from Roll Call:

Now we know where Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) thinks the weapons of mass destruction are buried: in Syria, which he said he'd like to nuke to smithereens.

Speaking at a veterans' celebration at Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen, Texas, on Feb. 19, Johnson told the crowd that he explained his theory to President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) on the porch of the White House one night. Johnson said he told the president that night, "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore."

The crowd roared with applause.

Johnson's remarks were captured on tape, which was played over the phone for [Heard on the Hill]. While the audience audibly applauded Johnson's remarks, a few members of the crowd did not. One person who lives in the district and who attended the service said he was "shocked and offended" by the Congressman's remarks. [...]

Johnson, a member of Congress with great power who is invited to semi-private functions with Bush in the White House, at least twice called for murdering hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people just because he THINKS that country MIGHT be hiding those weapons of mass destruction that our leaders LIED about to cajole us into a stupid invasion of Iraq.

When I sent out Johnson's "nuke Syria" statement to various friends, family members, media outlets and more, one conservative family member wrote back, accusing me of being "biased" against Republicans. That's as if he was not biased against Democrats when he mostly got his news by reading Free Nazi Republic, a site that won't allow Americans like me to present a different viewpoint. I wrote back saying I admitted to being biased against fascist nazi right-wingers who are turning this country into the nazi Germany of the modern era. And I won't stop being biased against them because I think they are dangerous and so wrong that the only thing true patriotic Americans can do is oppose them. [...]

My conservative family member ended by saying he was "sure that any well-educated person would not want to 'nuke' any body."

My response: "And when you mention well-educated people not wanting to 'nuke' anybody, you overlook how we did just that in 1945. And we are supposedly educated in this country, though that is debatable."

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Hilary Clinton urges punishment for Syria
Associated Press Writer
March 1, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called Tuesday for tougher punishment against Syria, saying the country was aggressively supporting terrorism in the "dangerous neighborhood" of the Middle East.

In lambasting Syria, Clinton joined a growing chorus of officials in Washington urging the United States to take a harsher stance against that country following a Feb. 14 bombing in Beirut that killed the former premier of Lebanon.

Speaking to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Clinton branded Syria and Iran bad neighbors bent on upsetting the fragile balance in the region.

"It is not only a dangerous neighborhood, but a neighborhood in which very few of the neighbors are committed to what Prime Minister (Ariel) Sharon is doing or what we hope to come from the Palestinian leadership," said Clinton.

Iran and Syria "pose such great threats not only to peace and stability, but in Iran's case the potential for nuclear capacity, and in Syria's case, with the continuation of the support for terrorism that flows from Damascus," she said. [...]

"It will be interesting to see what happens inside Syria. ... In this day and age it's hard to be a ruthless dictator," said McConnell.

Syria has come under intense worldwide scrutiny since the bombing that killed former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri and 16 others.

Assad, in an interview published Monday in an Italian newspaper, denied any involvement, saying such a role would spell "political suicide." [...]

Comment: Indeed, and who is reknowned the world over for "suiciding" their opponents? For a clue, just look to whom Clinton's remarks were addressed. Remember also that Hilary has her eye on the Democratic nomination in 2008. It seems that the real source of political power in the US lies thousands of miles to the East, somewhere around the Middle, in a little piece of stolen land bordering the Mediterranean sea.

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Safavi: 190,000 US troops a target if Iran attacked
Middle East Online

Iranian commander says his country will hand US, Israel bone-breaking blows if Tehran attacked.

TEHRAN - The head of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards has warned that 190,000 US troops stationed close to the Islamic republic could be targetted if Iran were attacked, a report said Wednesday.

"More than 190,000 members of American forces are scattered in Afghanistan and Iraq. If the US carries out its threats against Iran, they must know that all these forces will be within our reach," Yahya Rahim Safavi told the ultra-hardline Ya Lessarat newspaper.

"The US and the Zionist regime (Israel) do not have the power to confront us and we will hand them bone-breaking blows," Safavi said, adding that "Iraq is getting more unsafe everyday for America" anyway.

He also warned that if "the Zionist regime had a satanic thought and attacked Iran, we would not leave one point safe in the entire Zionist territory".

The United States and Israel both accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and have not ruled out military options to prevent the clerical regime of acquiring the bom

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Israel, prime suspect in Hariri death

Tehran, March 2 - The Zionist regime is the prime suspect behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, said an Iranian expert in the Middle East affairs.

Asadollahi told IRIB, modern terrorist methods and new explosives applied in the assassination attempt proved it have likely been done by terrorist teams of the Zionist regime.

He termed the isolation of Syria and disarmament of Hizbullah as the objectives of the United States and the Zionist regime.

The Iranian expert further said 'Hizbullah is the preventive arm of Iran and as long as Hizbullah is powerful, the Zionist regime would have not dare attack Iran.

He underlined that the security of the Zionist regime was the major objective of the recent resolution issued by the UN Security Council against Syria.

Americans use insecurity in Lebanon as a pretext to fulfill their ambitions over the greatest Middle East, he added.

He posied that Washington is going to put pressure on Syria to gain concessions over the developments in the Middle East.

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Suicide Bomb Probably Killed Hariri-Lebanon Source
March 4, 2005

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's investigations show that ex-Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri was almost certainly killed by a suicide car bomb, a judicial source close to the probe said on Friday.

The source said results of the probe would be released next week. He expected them to show that a Muslim militant who had appeared in a video tape claiming responsibility for the attack was in the car that ripped through Hariri's motorcade in Beirut on Feb. 14.

"The attack happened when a car slowed up to allow Hariri's motorcade to pass it. As the motorcade passed it, the car blew up," the source said.

He said evidence came from a security camera at a nearby bank which caught parts of the incident.

Lebanon's opposition and the international community have made revealing the identity of Hariri's killers a key priority. Many have pointed the finger at Syria, which is under intense pressure to quit Lebanon. Damascus has denied any role. [...]

Comment: Interesting theory, and supposedly they even have video-taped evidence to support it. However, according to this report, some military experts maintain that the upward trajectory of the blast combined with the overwhelming force and enormous crater left behind, indicates that the bomb was most likely planted below the street.

"The bomb was placed underground, especially (since) the crater was so huge," said Hisham Jaber, a retired brigadier general and former professor at the Lebanese Military and Staff Command College. "Even a car with 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of TNT wouldn't create such a crater."

Jaber, who inspected the assassination site but is not part of the investigation, said a suicide attack was the least likely cause of the explosion. He noted the crater was near the middle of the road, indicating the bomb was likely placed under the street and not in a parked car.

Suspicion that the bomb was under the street increased Friday when the chief military investigator demanded that police investigate recent road works in the area.

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Vicious Afghan Warlord Appointed to Government By US Viceroy Karzai
By Golnaz Esfandiari
Prague, 2 March 2005 (RFE/RL)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday appointed a controversial commander, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, as chief of staff to the head of the country's armed forces -- a post held by Karzai himself. It is unclear how much authority Dostum will have in this new position, but the appointment is already being criticized by rights groups, which accuse Dostum of committing abuses.

The appointment comes despite calls by organizations such as Human Rights Watch to marginalize "warlords."

Dostum, one of Afghanistan's most powerful and controversial commanders, is accused of committing human rights abuses during the country's civil war in the 1990s. His forces are also accused of having let hundreds of Taliban fighters suffocate to death in late 2001 after their capture.

He has denied the allegations.

"General Dostum has a long record of violence," Adams said. "He probably has presided over war crimes in the past, so his appointment is astonishing. Dostum is one of the main warlords in the county. He runs his section of the country with an iron fist, tolerates no opposition and has been involved in illegal activities for many years. So this may be some kind of tactical alliance with Karzai but it's a terrible decision." [...]

Karzai has already given another influential warlord, Ismail Khan, the former governor of Herat Province, a post in his cabinet. Reports said Dostum's role will be mostly symbolic.

Comment: Ah, freedom and democracy! Can't you just hear it ring out across the globe. Stop us if you've heard this one before. Large Western nation invades foreign nation on the pretext of spreading freedom and democracy, yet in the end is shown to have actually installed a "client regime" more brutal than the last. Sound familiar? Check the last 100 years of US foreign policy for more details.

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British Ambassador: Uzbeks Tortured Into Falsely Confessing Al-Qaeda Membership
UK Indymedia | March 2 2005

Interview with Craig Murray: Ex-British Ambassador to Uzbekistan

Q: Could you just give an overview of your current situation?

CM: I’m still suspended on full pay. That’s my official status, which is very peculiar. At least I’m still being paid, but I think they’re trying to summon up the nerve to sack me. And to do so, leaving as little comeback as possible for my lawyers to take them to court. But I’m convinced my career in the Foreign Office is finished.

Q: Would you want to go back?

CM: I don’t know. I mean, I worked for them for twenty years. Very, very successfully, on the whole. Until I went to Uzbekistan my career was a kind of model of rapid upward progress.

Q: Yes, I heard you were the youngest ever British ambassador.

CM: Yes, I don’t think that’s actually true. People say that, but I don’t believe it. Certainly now, my mate James Clarke has been appointed ambassador to Luxembourg, and he’s only 34 or something. But I don’t think I was ever the youngest ever ambassador, but I was certainly very young for an ambassador. And particularly very young for an ambassador to a country which was of some importance.

Q: In one of your first interviews as ambassador to Uzbekistan you mentioned that it was very difficult to work there. Was this something that was apparent right from the beginning, and what sort of difficulties were you facing?

CM: Well, I think I’ll start by saying, as far as I can gather, before I got there the British Embassy did very little at all. I recall, when I arrived the ambassador’s car – the flag car – was over three years old. It had only got 10,000 km on the clock – in three years! And the embassy drivers…Normally when you arrive at your post you can rely on your drivers to know where things and places are, because they’re used to going there. So places like ministries and important British companies, you just assume they’ll know where they are. Well, I found the embassy drivers didn’t know were any of the places were, because no one in the embassy had ever been outside the walls of the compound before. This idea of travelling out, and meeting people, and doing things was kind of new to them. So that was peculiar. I remember my first week, I visited a number of British companies, I visited every British company represented in Tashkent – which isn’t a great many. But several of them said they’d never been visited by a British ambassador before. They nearly all said that, and BAT (British American Tobacco) was the only one that had been visited by a British ambassador before. To me, that was truly shocking.

Q: Why do you think this is?

CM: Because the Foreign Office is full of stuck up, lazy, out-of-touch people. That’s why. I’m very bitter now! But Uzbekistan is difficult because it’s a very nasty, totalitarian dictatorship. It’s a very efficient totalitarian dictatorship. Everything that’s done is decided by central government. I recall, at one time we were arranging a cultural festival, with some concerts of British music played by a local orchestra. I was working with the orchestra on that, to help them get some examples of western-European music, because their repertoire was actually extremely limited. Their physical access to sheet music was very limited. And we discovered that anything the orchestra played had to be politically vetted as being acceptable in terms of Uzbek national ideology, which was fascinating. It was really quite amazing. It’s a completely mad totalitarian society. They even banned billiards, I remember, which struck me as peculiarly off-the-wall. As from this academic year, one day a week has to be given by all schools and universities to national education, and national education comprises three things: There’s Uzbek folk singing and dancing, there’s a very tendentious version of history – which is called Uzbek history – and there’s the study of the works of President Karimov, which is most important and the largest of the elements. It really is a weird place to live and work. It’s a kind of cloud-cuckoo-land place, in which one of the things that makes it difficult is that people lie to you all the time. The government lies all the time. Officially there’s an economic growth of eight and a half percent this year. In fact, anyone who knows anything about Uzbekistan knows there’s been negative growth for the last several years. But it doesn’t stop them throwing the official statistics at you. That’s the difficult part, as westerners, to deal with people who lie to your face, because they’re not used to that context. I mean, normally we take it for granted that when people say something to you they bare some approximation to the truth anyway. In Uzbekistan you can’t. It’s a very peculiar place to work.

Q: On the subject of Karimov, he was interviewed by a Russian news agency earlier this month, and there were a number of interesting things he was saying. For example, "External influence will be effective, only if we permit it to be effective," – what do you make of this comment?

CM: Well, I think Karimov’s politics are essentially paranoid. He has a paranoid view of the world, and you can see the results of that in the physical closing of borders, the detonating of bridges in the Ferganna Valley so people can’t get across the border. The desire for complete control over all media and information. And anyone who meets Karimov – I’ve been with many official visitors as they call on him - he always gives the same opening spiel about how Uzbekistan is surrounded by enemies, how it’s hemmed in by the narcotics trade, the Mafia, by the Russians, by gangsters, by Chinese goods which carry influenza! He has a paranoid worldview, and I think that this dislike of the outside world is very notable. I don’t at all buy his argument that "we can’t have a western-style democracy in Uzbekistan". Who says democracy’s western? India’s a democracy. [...]

Q: A controversial accusation you made was that MI6 was using information extracted from tortured Uzbek citizens. What evidence did you actually have to lead you to this conclusion?

CM: I’ve got no doubts about it whatsoever. I’m 100 percent sure of it, and in all my dealings with the British government about it – and I’ve been called back from Uzbekistan to have meetings specifically on the subject – they have never denied it. The British government has never denied it, and scores of British reporters have phoned up the Foreign Office and said, "What is the line?" and they always come back with the same line. It’s that "it would be irresponsible to ignore useful evidence in the war against terror". They have never said, "No, we’re not gaining evidence from torture," – the British government has never denied it. They can’t deny it.

Q: Taking things a stage further, there was a report a little while back about the American ‘Ghost Planes’ which would take people to countries where torture was used and get information from them. Do you know anything about this?

CM: Well yes, that Gulfstream plane came in to Tashkent several times while I was there, and it’d bring in detainees.
As far as I’m aware it only brought in Uzbek detainees from Bagram airport, from Afghanistan. I’ve had many people allege to me that Americans used it to bring non-Uzbek-related detainees in specifically to be tortured for questioning. I never saw any evidence of that. I’m not saying it isn’t true, but to my knowledge I only know of it bringing in detainees from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan.

Q: Well, isn’t it against the UN Convention Against Torture article 3.1 (No state party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he will be in danger of being subjected to torture) whoever they were and wherever they were from?

CM: Yes it is contrary to that, undoubtedly.

Q: And did you bring this up with the American government?

CM: Yes, I mean, I asked my deputy to speak to the head of the CIA station in Tashkent. And what I said was, "I don’t want to put my foot in it here. Now it’s possible that the CIA have got a special arrangement with the Uzbek security services which makes certain that the intelligence they get wasn’t obtained under torture, maybe they have special photographs, and CIA people posted at all interrogations, and arrangements are in place. I don’t want to make a fool of myself. We need to check that this really is obtained under torture." So she went and saw the CIA head of station in Tashkent, and this was in November 2002, and said to him, "Look, my ambassador’s worried that the intelligence you’re passing on to MI6 is probably obtained under torture, and he wants your take on whether this is possible". And she reported back to me, absolutely no reason to disbelieve her, the CIA head of station Tashkent said: "You’re right, it will be obtained under torture. But, we don’t see that as a problem." Yes, I’ve got no doubt at all about it.

Q: And I suppose they justify this by saying it’s part of the War on Terror?

CM: Yes, but the War on Terror seems to justify any ablations of human rights whatsoever.

Q: Yes, I was quite interested to see Condoleeza Rice naming the ‘outposts of tyranny’, which obviously don’t include Uzbekistan. They’re Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Burma and Belarus.

CM: I think it’s fascinating that the Americans are much harder on human rights in Kazakhstan, which although bad, isn’t nearly as bad as Uzbekistan. It’s quite amazing really, and the Americans amaze me with their hypocrisy.

Q: Is it something to do with the huge business possibilities in Kazakhstan? Are they trying to clean it up?

CM: Yes, I think their attitude towards anywhere depends on what’s best for the American oil and gas interests in effect. And I think that American oil and gas interests weren’t doing as well as they’d wanted in Kazakhstan so they then hit the country over the head with the human rights stick in an effort to loosen it up, with that motive. I think that’s certainly true. Uzbekistan they want to keep sweet because their airbase is seen as central to their policy of military domination of the oil and gas regions. So that’s why. But I think for Condoleeza Rice to name those countries, did she name Zimbabwe?

Q: Yes, that was one of the ones.

CM: Well, in Zimbabwe, for example, they’ve got a very unpleasant government but it doesn’t practice torture on anything like the scale that Karimov does, and there is an opposition. They’ve just had democratic elections in Uzbekistan, so-called, and the opposition weren’t allowed to contest them. I saw a most wonderful statement from the American ambassador, a load of pious rubbish, where he applauded the elections as a step on the road to democracy, and then at the end said it was unfortunate that the opposition weren’t allowed to take part! But I mean, in Zimbabwe, at least the opposition can actually stand in elections and there are actually opposition members of parliament, there is an independent judiciary. There are none of those things in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is, by any measure, a much worse dictatorship than Zimbabwe, and Condoleeza Rice is just talking, well, crap.


Q: And where does the British government stand?

A: I think when it comes to the War on Terror the British government doesn’t have its own policy. It’s simply following United States policy. It’s policy is to stay in line with the United States, or as Tony Blair would put it, ‘To stay shoulder to shoulder with the United States’ – even when the United States is very obviously acting appallingly.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: My immediate plans…I intend to stand against Jack Straw in his Blackburn constituency. Just to annoy him. And to bring home this question of complicity with dictatorships, complicity with torture in the War on Terror, because Jack Straw himself personally took the decision to use Uzbek torture-based intelligence. It was put to him, he discussed it. He discussed it with the head of MI6 and they decided they would continue using it. So I want to hold him accountable for that, and to make sure that the electors and his own constituency know all about it. I’m not anticipating being elected I should hasten to say. You can be the first people to publish that!

Q: You’ve almost finished writing a book on your experiences over the last two years, but what else are you doing, or planning to do, at present?

CM: I do a number of lectures, and I’ve got a few more lined up The book is going to be the main thing. And there are a couple of major television documentaries coming out in the spring, on the torture issue. I’ve already pre-recorded quite long interviews for those. I did an appearance on ‘Hard Talk’, so I’m continuing to do quite a lot of media and broadcast work. It’s not something I intend to let drop.

Q: And in the long term would you like to return to Uzbekistan?

CM: Oh yes, I love the country. I love the people, generally. I’ve got lots of good friends there. I fully intend to go back once we’ve got rid of the dictatorship. But that will be some time yet. I can’t see any signs of hope on the horizon. The people get steadily poorer. It’s pretty desperate there, this winter again, with salaries months behind, no heating at all, and cold weather. There’s no sign of economic reform. And one thing I want to do is start a campaign against Uzbek cotton, because the ordinary people of Uzbekistan don’t benefit at all from the cotton. They get pressed as slave labour to pick it. Children of seven and up have to pick cotton, living in pretty awful conditions in the fields. It’s child slave labour that picks most of Uzbekistan’s cotton, and I hope to start a campaign on that issue. Uzbek cotton is still 100% state grown. Workers on state farms, who make up 60% of the population, get $2 a month. So it seems to me that a campaign against Uzbek cotton is a good idea. The difficulty is that you can’t do it by consumer boycott, because there’s no way of telling where those fibers in your shirt came from!

Unfortunately my voice recorder ran out at this stage, but I took detailed notes throughout the interview, which went on for another ten minutes or so. He spoke about his unexplained illness – heart problem – which almost killed him 48 hours after returning to Tashkent for the last time. To this day, he doesn’t know if it was the result of a deliberate attempt on his life, but believes it probably was. Whatever the reason, it has left him with a serious heart condition for which he’ll undergo major heart-surgery in March this year.

He also spoke of a protest by around 100 Uzbek citizens outside the British Embassy in Tashkent – one of the largest ever protests under Karimov’s regime - after he’d been removed from Uzbekistan for raising too many issues the British government would rather not discuss. The peaceful demonstrators were ‘dispersed’ by the Uzbek police – who severely beat them (including the women and children). Craig Murray assumes that this was at the request of the British Embassy. If you’d like any more detailed information on these extra areas, let me know and I’ll send them through.

To date, no accusations against Craig Murray of misconduct have been proved by the FCO. He remains indefinitely suspended on full pay.

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Europe risks US sanctions over China arms sales
Julian Borger in Washington and Nicholas Watt in Brussels
Thursday March 3, 2005
The Guardian

America and Europe were yesterday being drawn ever closer into a trade war after senior US congressman issued a blunt warning to the EU over its plans to lift a 15-year-old arms embargo on China.

Talking explicitly about how it would retaliate for the first time, Richard Lugar, the powerful republican head of the Senate foreign relations committee, warned that the US would stop sales of military technology to Europe.

His Democratic counterpart, Senator Joseph Biden, warned that the lifting of the ban would be "a non-starter with Congress". Their tough words came after a meeting with President George Bush in the White House.

Analysts warned the looming row could undo the repairs made to the US-EU relationship by Mr Bush's visit to Europe last month. "Europe can do defence trade with China or it can do defence trade with the US. It can't do both," said Daniel Goure, a Pentagon consultant and a vice president of the Lexington Institute, a military thinktank. [...]

The Pentagon is increasingly concerned over an ambitious Chinese military build-up which its experts believe is aimed at threatening Taiwan. The US is committed to Taiwan's defence. "Balance in the Taiwan straits is delicate enough that European military trade with China could tip it," Mr Goure said.

He said Beijing was acquiring up to 600 advanced Russian fighter jets, Mig-31s and Mig-35s, and had bought modern Russian destroyers and submarines. But the US was most worried about sales of advanced European communications and sensor systems, like fibre optics, infra-red, sonar and radar scanners.

According to the New York Times, recent US intelligence pictures have painted an even more worrying picture of the Chinese build-up, with the reported construction of 23 amphibious assault ships.

Philip Gordon, an expert on transatlantic relations at the Brookings Institution in Washington, outlined a possible compromise involving strict controls and links between the lifting of the embargo and China's human rights performance. "Whether we get there is not sure," he said. "There are a lot of people in the House [of Representatives] who want to whack Europe anyway."

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China urges calm after North Korea ends missile test moratorium
(AFP) Mar 04, 2005

BEIJING - China Friday urged calm and restraint after North Korea ended a self-imposed moratorium on testing long-range missiles, drawing criticism from the United States and Japan.

"The Chinese side hopes the Korean peninsula can maintain peace and stability," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in response to questions about Pyongyang's move.

"All sides should remain calm and exercise restraint and commonly devote themselves to the resolution of the concerned issues through political dialogue and negotiations."

North Korea, which is boycotting six-party talks on its nuclear arms program, announced Thursday it was ending a moratorium on testing long-range missiles that it declared in 1999.

A statement by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also said that a "hostile" US policy was forcing it to develop its nuclear arsenal.

Washington said the decision was "not helpful" while Tokyo called it an "unproductive" negotiating tool.

North Korea shocked the world by firing a missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean in 1998 and calling it a satellite launch.

China has brokered three rounds of six-party talks that include the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia, but has been unable to get Pyongyang back to the table following the last round in June.

A recent flurry of diplomatic activity has seen efforts been made at restarting the talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for badly-needed aid.

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By Pat Shannan
American Free Press

Police Sergeant Suicided To Keep Truth Hidden

The terror loosed in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, was created by criminals and murderers directed by and paid for by the federal government. This is the only conclusion that can be reached by a calm analysis of the facts.*

The case of Sgt. Terry Yeakey is only one of a myriad of dramatic stories that could be told—stories just waiting for Hollywood, but out of bounds for public consumption.

It has been nearly 10 years since Oklahoma City’s Murrah building was blown apart one quiet April morning. Contrary to news reports, the persons found guilty and sentenced for the Murrah bombing atrocity could not have been solely responsible. An Oklahoma City police sergeant became aware of this before anyone else, apparently during the first hour of rescue. He paid for that discovery with his life.

Yeakey, an African-American hero if there ever was one, was a giant of a man with a heart as big as the rest of him. As the first cop on the Murrah building scene following the explosions, he became a crusader for truth.

There is a memorable news photo of his 6-foot, 3-inch, nearly 300-pound frame sprinting down NW 5th Street toward the building on one of the many rescue missions he performed that ugly day. He worked for 48 hours without sleep.

After numerous private investigators produced evidence of multiple explosions, unexploded bombs being hauled away by the authorities, and the incapability of an ammonium nitrate fuel oil bomb to cause the kind of devastation seen in downtown Oklahoma City, a giant government cover-up became obvious.

But Yeakey knew it long before the rest of us. Only a couple of hours into the rescue, Yeakey became painfully aware of something disturbing. Did he somehow figure out that the building had been blown from the inside and that the news reports were fabrications?

Did he overhear a strange conversation from some of the many Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) agents who were on the scene sooner than they should have been?

Whatever it was, Yeakey was upset. He called his wife that morning crying, "It’s not true. It’s not what they are saying. It didn’t happen that way."

Yeakey ran back and forth into that concrete mess of bricks and mortar all day long and continued beyond exhaustion, far into the night.

In a cadre of heroes that day, Yeakey’s performance was outstanding. On May 11, the following year he was scheduled to receive the Medal of Valor from the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD). He never got it. He was murdered on May 8, 1996, in the country, two and a half miles west of the El Reno Penitentiary. His body was found a mile from his blood-soaked car.

The official report said "suicide." However, many people who knew Yeakey have questioned that, as the inside of Terry’s private automobile was described by witnesses as looking like someone had "butchered a hog" on the front seat. There was much blood on the back seat, too, but little or none where his body was found a mile away.

More suspiciously, his private bombing reports were missing from his car and have never been found.

According to the report, while still inside his Ford Probe that he had parked on a lonely country road, Yeakey slashed himself 11 times on both forearms before cutting his throat twice near the jugular vein. Then, apparently seeking an even more private place to die, he crawled 8,000 feet through rough terrain and climbed a fence before shooting himself in the head with a small caliber revolver, which he apparently took with him to the hereafter.

Independent investigators speculated that had Yeakey shot himself with his own gun, a Glock 9mm, there would have been significantly more damage to his head than was evident.

What appeared to be rope burns on his neck, handcuff bruises to his wrists, and muddy grass embedded in his slash wounds strongly indicated that he had some help in traversing his final distance.

However, the information about the victim undergoing a violent beating prior to his "suicide" was left off the medical examiner’s report.

The bullet’s entrance wound was in the right temple, above the eye. It went through the policeman’s head and exited in the area of the left cheek, near the bottom of the earlobe line. The trajectory was from a 40-45 degree angle above his head. There were no powder burns.

According to unnamed officers, 40 or more law enforcement personnel were at the scene combing the area for the "suicide" weapon, but were unsuccessful for more than an hour.

But after an FBI helicopter landed at the scene carrying FBI SAC Bob Ricks, "Yeakey’s weapon" was suddenly discovered only five minutes later. Of course, it was not Yeakey’s police issue handgun, and the description of the weapon has never been made public, but the official record immediately became that of "suicide."

One of the last people Yeakey talked to was a friend who knew he was on a mission of private investigation. Yeakey had told him that he was on his way to El Reno to check out something, but first he had to shake the FBI agents who were following him.

He reportedly stopped at a café in El Reno and spoke with a friend and had either lunch or coffee there around noon. His body was found at 1:30 p.m. the same day, yet his family was not notified until the following day on May 9.

Tonya Yeakey, the mother of his children, later reported in a radio interview that Yeakey had shared a secret safe deposit box with Dr. Charles Chumley at one of the downtown Oklahoma City banks. Despite denials by OCPD officials, Mrs. Yeakey maintains that Yeakey and Chumley were friends even before the bombing and that they had conferred several times regarding pictures from the scene and the distorted truth of the official story.

She suspects that the bank box contained incriminating pictures, but the private bank box in mention was closed and its contents emptied immediately after Yeakey’s death. Mrs. Yeakey does not know who
authorized it, and whatever contents were there have never surfaced.

Chumley had only worked side by side with Yeakey during those first hours and days of rescue, but also had defied the federal officers at the scene who reportedly attempted to have him falsify reports.

Chumley, a private pilot, had also died mysteriously when his plane went into a nosedive from 6,000 feet into a cabbage field following a takeoff from Amarillo in August 1995. FAA investigators found "nothing mechanically wrong" to cause such a bizarre accident and it remains a unsolved.

Including Chumley and Yeakey, there have been more than 30 suspicious deaths of witnesses who harbored information pertinent to the truth in the OKC case. During recent decades, much of the FBI has earned the reputation of being more of a government protectorate than an efficient investigative agency.

Although the Yeakey incident occurred 30 miles away in a different jurisdiction, the investigation was quickly taken out of the hands of the El Reno police and the Canadian County sheriff and turned over to the OCPD and the FBI. No homicide investigation was conducted, and there was no autopsy.

The funeral director reported that the cuts described as "superficial" in the medical examiner’s report were so severe that they had to be sewn up to prevent leakage before the body could be embalmed.

One retired cop, who preferred anonymity, suggested that the strange hush-up of a cop killing was easily instigated by the FBI because of its knowledge of drug crimes within the ranks of the OCPD.

"It’s a hammer that [FBI agents] have held over our heads for a long time," he said.

In an exclusive interview with American Free Press, Mrs. Yeaky said that her husband had been upset by something he had seen under the day care center during the rescue operation. He had wanted to go back and photograph it, but the officials would not let him onto the site again.

She said Yeakey had been ordered by his superiors at OCPD to rewrite his nine-page report to omit and alter certain facts and to condense it to but one page.

She said she was told by her husband’s superior, Lt. Joann Randall, in a brief but hostile telephone exchange, to "tell Terry that if the new report is not submitted by the end of the week, he will be put on reprimand."

Mrs. Yeakey also said Yeakey was supposed to be decorated for his work as a rescue person, but didn’t really want the limelight. She said Yeakey felt the investigation was fraudulent and didn’t like the fact that the OCPD was honoring people who weren’t deserving.

Yeakey had told friends that he was going out of town to hide or secure "evidence of a cover-up of the bombing by federal agents."

Comment: So the American people are unwittingly living under the control of a form of government that sanctions the murder of American citizens for political gain. Who cares? Certainly not the American people. They care so little, in fact, about the truth of their reality that they willingly support the very government that butchers them as and when the need arises.

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Jewish Groups Blast Byrd for Nazi Remarks
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Fox News

WASHINGTON — A pair of Jewish groups accused Sen. Robert Byrd on Wednesday of making an outrageous and reprehensible comparison between Adolf Hitler's Nazis and a Senate GOP plan to block Democrats from filibustering. A GOP senator called for Byrd to retract his remarks.

Byrd spokesman Tom Gavin denied that Byrd, D-W.Va., had compared Republicans to Hitler. He said that instead, the reference to Nazis in a Senate speech on Tuesday was meant to underscore that the past should not be ignored.

"Terrible chapters of history ought never be repeated," Gavin said. "All one needs to do is to look at history to see how dangerous it is to curb the rights of the minority."

Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the Senate's No. 3 Republican, called for Byrd to retract his comments, saying they "lessen the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate."

Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, called the remarks "poisonous rhetoric" that are "reprehensible and beyond the pale."

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Byrd's remarks showed "a profound lack of understanding as to who Hitler was" and that the senator should apologize to the American people.

"It is hideous, outrageous and offensive for Senator Byrd to suggest that the Republican Party's tactics could in any way resemble those of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party," Foxman said.

In his comments Tuesday, Byrd defended the right senators have to use filibusters — procedural delays that can kill an item unless 60 of the 100 senators vote to move ahead.

Byrd cited Hitler's 1930s rise to power by, in part, pushing legislation through the German parliament that seemed to legitimize his ascension.

"We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men," Byrd said. "But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends."

Byrd then quoted historian Alan Bullock, saying Hitler "turned the law inside out and made illegality legal." [...]

"In the Senate, when a majority runs roughshod over the minority, the people's liberties can be in danger," Gavin said. "That majority may be a majority of one party or a majority of one region or a majority of one interest.

Brooks said his group's counterpart, the National Jewish Democratic Council, should condemn Byrd's comments. Ira Foreman, executive director of the Democratic group, declined to comment.

Comment: So when a US senator dares to make the moderate and reasonable statement about the "dangers of curbing the rights of a minority", and makes an apt reference to the actions of the Nazi party in the 1930's, the first people to jump up and condemn him are the so-called "Jewish" lobby groups. Are we the only ones to see the irony in this? Is the world prohibited from utlising the valuable lesson of WWII to ensure that it never happens again? Do the "Jewish" lobby groups have a monopoly on those lessons? Why should it be that such groups seem determined to use the lessons about the rise of fascism in Europe to censor anyone who dares to suggest that fascism might well be on the rise again, this time in America and Israel? It is at moments such as this that we are afforded a clear insight into the way that the fundamental ethics of the Bush regime and the Israeli government coincide and, as a result, the opportunity to understand the true nature and source of power in the "greatest Democracy on earth".

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London Mayor Brands Sharon a War Criminal
Ken Livingstone
Friday March 4, 2005
The Guardian

Not to speak out against this injustice would not only be wrong. It would ignore the threat it poses to us all

Racism is a uniquely reactionary ideology, used to justify the greatest crimes in history - the slave trade, the extermination of all original inhabitants of the Caribbean, the elimination of every native inhabitant of Tasmania, apartheid. The Holocaust was the ultimate, "industrialised" expression of racist barbarity.

Racism serves as the cutting edge of the most reactionary movements. An ideology that starts by declaring one human being inferior to another is the slope whose end is at Auschwitz. That is why I detest racism.

No serious commentator has argued that my comments to an Evening Standard reporter outside City Hall last month were anti-semitic. So I am glad that Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, accepted on these pages that "Ken is sincere when he states that he regards the Holocaust as the worst crime of the last century".

The contribution of Jewish people to human civilisation and culture is unexcelled and extraordinary. You only have to think of giants such as Einstein, Freud and Marx to realise that human civilisation would be unrecognisably diminished without the achievements of the Jewish people. The same goes for the Jewish contribution to London today.

As mayor, I have pressed for police action over anti-semitic attacks at the highest level, and my administration has backed a series of initiatives of importance to the Jewish community, including hosting the Anne Frank exhibition at City Hall and measures to ensure the go-ahead for the north London eruv.

Throughout the 1970s, I worked happily with the Board of Deputies in campaigns against the National Front. Problems began when, as leader of the Greater London Council, I rejected the board's request that I should fund only Jewish organisations that it approved of. The Board of Deputies was unhappy that I funded Jewish organisations campaigning for gay rights and others that disagreed with policies of the Israeli government.

Relations with the board took a dramatic turn for the worse when I opposed Israel's illegal invasion of Lebanon, culminating in the massacres at the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila. The board also opposed my involvement in the successful campaign in 1982 to convince the Labour party to recognise the PLO as the legitimate voice of the Palestinian people.

The fundamental issue on which we differ, as Henry Grunwald knows, is not anti-semitism - which my administration has fought tooth and nail - but the policies of successive Israeli governments.

To avoid manufactured misunderstandings, the policies of Israeli governments are not analogous to Nazism. They do not aim at the systematic extermination of the Palestinian people, in the way Nazism sought the annihilation of the Jews.

Israel's expansion has included ethnic cleansing. Palestinians who had lived in that land for centuries were driven out by systematic violence and terror aimed at ethnically cleansing what became a large part of the Israeli state. The methods of groups like the Irgun and the Stern gang were the same as those of the Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic: to drive out people by terror.

Today the Israeli government continues seizures of Palestinian land for settlements, military incursions into surrounding countries and denial of the right of Palestinians expelled by terror to return. Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, is a war criminal who should be in prison, not in office. Israel's own Kahan commission found that Sharon shared responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacres.

Sharon continues to organise terror. More than three times as many Palestinians as Israelis have been killed in the present conflict. There are more than 7,000 Palestinians in Israel's jails.

To obscure these truths, those around Israel's present government have resorted to demonisation. Initial targets were Palestinians, and have now become Muslims. Take the Middle East Media Research Institute, run by a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence, which poses as a source of objective information but in reality selectively translates material from Arabic and presents Muslims and Arabs in the worst possible light.

Today the Israeli government is helping to promote a wholly distorted picture of racism and religious discrimination in Europe, implying that the most serious upsurge of hatred and discrimination is against Jews.

All racist and anti-semitic attacks must be stamped out. However, the reality is that the great bulk of racist attacks in Europe today are on black people, Asians and Muslims - and they are the primary targets of the extreme right. For 20 years Israeli governments have attempted to portray anyone who forcefully criticises the policies of Israel as anti-semitic. The truth is the opposite: the same universal human values that recognise the Holocaust as the greatest racist crime of the 20th century require condemnation of the policies of successive Israeli governments - not on the absurd grounds that they are Nazi or equivalent to the Holocaust, but because ethnic cleansing, discrimination and terror are immoral.

They are also fuelling anger and violence across the world. For a mayor of London not to speak out against such injustice would not only be wrong - but would also ignore the threat it poses to the security of all Londoners.

· Ken Livingstone is the London mayor

Comment: Finally, someone with some real influence who possesses the backbone to stand up and state the truth. While we applaud Livingstone's integrity, we feel that his comment that "the policies of Israeli governments are not analogous to Nazism" was added to deflect criticism, not because it is an accurate assessment. The simple truth is, and the rest of Livingstone's article demonstrates, that the racist policies of successive Israeli governments seem to have been stolen straight out of the Nazi rulebook.

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Israel to seize more Palestinian land
By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
Thursday 03 March 2005, 19:46 Makka Time, 16:46 GMT

The Israeli government has ordered the confiscation of large swathes of Palestinian land in the West Bank.

The area to be seized encompasses more than 10sq km of land in the southern West Bank, especially in the Hebron region.

According to the confiscation orders, which were published on Wednesday, the Israeli army will expropriate the land extending from the village of al-Burj to southern Yatta.

This covers hundreds of acres of farmland, including numerous olive groves, and will further diminish the size of any prospective Palestinian state in the West Bank.

Israel has already annexed more than a 100sq km of West Bank land, ostensibly to build a gigantic separation wall which snakes through Palestinian towns and villages, reducing some of them to virtual detention camps.

Land grabs

Moreover, dozens of other Jewish settlements in the heart of the West Bank, such as Ma'ali Adomim near Jerusalem and Ariel, south of Nablus, continue to expand at the expense of Palestinian territory.

"They (the Israelis) act as if there is an unwritten understanding between the US and Israel whereby US officials make statements opposing settlement expansion while Israel keeps up the 'good work'"

Palestinian analysts say these land-grabs fly in the face of international efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

According to Abd al-Hadi Hantash, who has been monitoring Israeli settlement activities for the past 25 years, the purpose of the latest seizure is to "make any prospective Palestinian state as small as possible and as unviable as possible".

"Israel believes that President [George] Bush is not really serious about a viable Palestinian state, they think that he is just bamboozling the Arabs.

"This is how they interpret American reluctance to force Israel to halt the land confiscation and settlement expansion."

Separation barrier

He added: "They (the Israelis) act as if there is an unwritten understanding between the US and Israel whereby US officials make statements opposing settlement expansion while Israel keeps up the 'good work'."

A spokesman for the Israeli government told
"The expropriation is necessary to build the separation fence to prevent terror attacks on Israeli citizens - this is not a permanent confiscation, it is only a temporary security measure."

However, the confiscation orders, handed over to landowners in the Hebron area, do not state that the confiscation is temporary.

"From the very first day of the occupation in 1967, successive Israeli governments always claimed that the recurrent confiscations were temporary security measures. Then we ended up having more than 230 settlements, swallowing up over 55% of the West Bank," Hantash said.

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Israel 'destroying' two-state solution

By Roshan Muhammed Salih
Thursday 21 October 2004, 21:24 Makka Time, 18:24 GMT

Israel's bid to grab Palestinian land and its strangulation of the Palestinian economy are destroying hopes for an end to the Middle East conflict, a new report has said.

Christian Aid, a UK-based aid agency, said on Thursday that without urgent international intervention generations of Palestinians and Israelis face a future of crippling poverty and relentless insecurity.

Its report, Facts on the Ground, explains how Israel is taking more land from the occupied West Bank for Jewish settler roads and settlements.

As a result, Christian Aid says, poverty and unemployment levels are rising, malnutrition and anaemia are mounting, and farmers are being prevented from tilling their land.

In the West Bank, illegal Jewish settlements control 42% of the land.

Israelis-only roads and highways criss-cross Palestinian territory, intersecting villages in the West Bank and cutting the Gaza Strip in three.

Unable to get their goods to market or travel to work, Christian Aid says Palestinians are seeing their economy strangled and their future vanishing before their eyes.

'Politics of separation'

The aid agency adds the separation barrier which surrounds large parts of the West Bank is the starkest sign yet of Israel's politics of separation.

For Palestinians, there is no freedom of movement between its two sides except through Israeli-controlled military checkpoints.

"Israel has steadily built and then expanded settlements on the land which it has occupied since 1967 in violation of international law," the report said.

"The announcement, in August 2004, that another thousand homes were to be built in the West Bank is a sign of the impunity with which Israel operates.

"This steady expansion, together with the construction of the separation barrier through the West Bank is creating ever greater hardship.

"These settlements have all but destroyed the possibility of a viable Palestinian state."

Christian Aid says the two-state solution would make it possible for Palestinians to tackle the endemic poverty that permeates the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Palestinian elections

It also offers Palestinians and Israelis the prospect of security and sovereignty that both peoples so desperately need.

"The increasing culture of violence, marked by suicide bombings, overwhelming military force in civilian areas and wanton destruction, threatens people in the region and beyond," said the Christian Aid report.

"But the policies of separation and division which we see today are heightening, not solving, the conflict.

"The UK, Irish and EU governments have a legal obligation, under international law, to ensure they hold Israel to account for its actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."

In particular, Christian Aid recommends that Jewish settlements and their infrastructure be dismantled, and construction of the separation barrier around the West Bank be halted.

It also recommends that Palestinians be allowed to hold free and fair elections in the Occupied Territories.

Following the report's publication, Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, urged the British government to take seriously Christian Aid's findings and recommendations.

One-state solution?

"It is crystal clear that action is urgently needed to prevent both a full scale humanitarian disaster, but also the death of the two state solution around which an international consensus has so successfully been built over the last two decades.

"For too long successive Israeli governments have been allowed to ignore international criticism about the settlement policy and the building of the separation wall.

"It is also to be hoped that the British Prime Minister, when as promised gets re-engaged with the Israeli-Palestinian issue after November, urgently considers these recommendations."'s correspondent in the West Bank says a significant minority of Palestinians who believe Israel will never allow a viable Palestinian state now favour a one-state solution.

This would entail Jews, Muslims and Christians living side by side in all of historic Palestine on the basis of equal rights for all.

However, the main obstacle to this solution is Israel's fear that it would effectively signal the end of Zionism and its elevation of Jews above other peoples.

Israel, meanwhile, argues it is unrealistic for it to return to its 1967 boundaries as West Bank settlements have become large population centres.

And it says it has been forced to build the separation wall to keep out Palestinian "suicide bombers" intent on killing Israeli civilians.

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Car Bombing Near Israeli Troops at W. Bank Shrine
Thu Mar 3, 2005
By Atef Sa'ad

NABLUS, West Bank - Palestinian militants blew up a car bomb near Israeli soldiers guarding Jewish worshippers at a flashpoint shrine in the West Bank Thursday, dealing another blow to a tattered cease-fire.

The bombing outside Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, which caused no Israeli casualties but wounded a Palestinian mother and her four children, came two days after world leaders at a London meeting urged more forceful Palestinian action against armed groups.

Acting on President Mahmoud Abbas's orders, security forces have arrested six Palestinians this week following a suicide bombing that killed five Israelis Friday and threatened to unravel a de facto truce, a senior official said.

But that did not prevent Thursday's attack in Nablus.

The car bomb blew up shortly after midnight as a contingent of Israeli troops guarded a group of religious Jews praying inside the shrine, an Israeli army spokesman said.

The blast damaged adjacent cars and nearby buildings.

A Palestinian security source said a local cell from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of Abbas's mainstream Fatah faction, had claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Palestinian militants have ratcheted up attacks against Israel in recent days, undermining a de facto truce that was declared at a Feb. 8 peace summit by Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Comment: Do we need to say it again? A "Palestinian" terror attack that kills only Palestinians??

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Blast at Gaza refugee camp
March 4, 2005

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - An explosion rocked the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, wounding four people, witnesses said.

There were no details on the cause of the explosion. The Israeli army did not immediately comment. [...]

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Chavez renews threat to cut oil to US
Friday 04 March 2005, 13:22 Makka Time, 10:22 GMT

The Venezuelan leader accuses the US of trying to kill him

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has renewed a threat to halt oil supplies to the United States if Washington hurts the Latin American country.

Relations between Washington and Venezuela - which exports the bulk of its oil to the US - have been badly strained since Chavez last month accused Washington of plotting to have him assassinated.

"If there is any aggression, there will be no oil," Chavez, who is in New Delhi on a four-day visit, was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying on Friday.

"We want to supply oil to the US. We're not going to avoid this supply of oil unless US government gets a little bit crazy and tries to hurt us," he said after a ceremonial welcome at the Indian president's palace.

The US State Department has dismissed Chavez's accusations that Washington is seeking to have him killed as "ridiculous and untrue".

Venezuela is the world's fifth-biggest oil exporter and is among the largest providers to the US.

Deeply troubling

Chavez, who is on a trip to India where energy will top the agenda, started alleging Washington was planning his death after the US criticised some of his government's actions as "deeply troubling".

Chavez said the oil price increase
had nothing to do with Opec

Earlier this month, Chavez told a news conference in Uruguay that the US would not receive a drop of oil if he were to be killed.

Asked whether the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), of which Venezuela is a member, will increase output to cool near-record prices, Chavez said on Friday that the cartel was "producing enough".

"[The] increasing price of oil has nothing to do with Opec. It is the structure of the market," he said, adding Opec was evaluating the situation.

Chavez has signed oil deals with various countries including China since last year and is due to approve an energy agreement intended to enhance cooperation with India during his visit.

Energy-hungry India, which imports nearly 70% of its fuel needs, has been scouring the world for new supplies to keep its fast-growing economy on track.

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Black Ops in Venezuela? Very Deeply Troubling
by LondonYank
Wed Jan 19th, 2005 at 10:50:39 PST

Condoleeza Rice attacked Venezuela and President Chavez sharply in her testimony yesterday. She called Venezuela "very deeply troubling" and suggested that it was a primary concern for the Bush administration.

Get ready for another war because Venezuela is the world's 5th largest oil exporting nation and they are turning off the taps to Bushco's Texas oil friends. The conflict is about to hit boiling point. Venezuela has been phasing out the old oil contracts which allowed Texas oil companies to operate fields and pocket the revenues. Instead they adopted a policy in which Petroleos de Venezuela operates joint ventures in which it has the majority stake with state-owned developers from nations such as Russia and China, posing a direct threat to US dominance of Venezuelan fields.

Venezuela has been using its rapidly escalating oil revenues to introduce universal healthcare, state pensions and social housing for the 80 percent of the population living in poverty. This has made Mr Chavez hugely popular in Venezuela but roundly hated in Texas and Washington

Diaries: LondonYank's diary:

Even when pressed, Condoleeza couldn't say anything nice about President Chavez:

She reserved some of her harshest language, not for China or Russia, but for President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, whose government she said had "not been constructive" because of his tough tactics against the news media and the opposition.

"Is it possible for you to say something positive about the Chávez administration?" Mr. Chafee asked, apparently taken aback at the toughness of her words.

When Ms. Rice said "it's pretty hard, Senator, to find something positive," Mr. Chafee said her attitude "seems disrespectful to the Venezuelan people" who elected Mr. Chávez.
Here's how one might expect Bushco to escalate problems in Venezuela and promote regime change so that his friends in Texas can go back to business as usual:

* Bankroll a coup attempt by US sympathisers using US taxpayer funds;

* Base US Navy ships off the Venezuelan coast to support the coup attempt and redeploy them again now (no cite, but US Navy ships were deployed to Venezuela two weeks ago);

* Use the same Congress-funded cover op which financed the coup to lead a press campaign against Venezuela for charging the coup conspirators in the coup with taking their money;

* Get a friendly neighboring country to bribe Venezuelan military and police into kidnapping a political figure to support charges of harbouring terrorists and creating a major diplomatic dispute;

* Get the Washington Post to write a scary editorial about commies in our backyard who are suppressing dissent, buying weapons from the Russkis, and consorting with Cubans.

I wish I was making all this up. I just connected the dots for myself within the last 2 hours, but it hangs together too well for me not to be very deeply troubled.

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M3.6 earthquake jolts central Niigata
(Kyodo News) Friday, March 4, 2005 at 07:32 JST

TOKYO — An earthquake registering a preliminary magnitude of 3.6 jolted the center of Niigata Prefecture on Friday morning, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the 6:13 a.m. quake. The quake measured 3 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in the city of Ojiya in the prefecture, the agency said.

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Downpour kills another five in southwest Pakistan
(AFP) Mar 04, 2005

QUETTA, Pakistan - Five members of the same family died Friday when their mud-brick home collapsed, pushing the death toll from a fresh spate of torrential rains in southwestern Pakistan to 19, police said.

Two women and three children perished in Kili Nausar, on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, "when the roof caved in due to incessant rain," police officer Aminullah Khilji told AFP.

The latest rains come at the end of a bitter winter in which at least 550 Pakistanis have died from torrential rain, snow and avalanches. [...]

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Tokyo's thickest snow in seven years cancels flights, disrupts traffic
(AFP) Mar 04, 2005

TOKYO - Unusually heavy snowfall blanketed Tokyo on Friday, cancelling or delaying dozens of flights and trains and slowing down road traffic.

Some two centimeters (four-fifths of an inch) of snow accumulated in downtown Tokyo, the first time since 1998 that more than one centimeter of snow covered the Japanese capital, according to the meteorological agency. [...]

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Local claims UFO sighting
By Sarah Young
Alaska Highway News
Thursday, March 03, 2005

(British Columbia) - Whether it’s actually a speck of cottonwood fluff, a small bug darting around in the sun or an alien ship come to inspect life in Fort St. John, one local man is certain that for now, he has pictures of an unidentified flying object.

Mark Mann has been taking video footage of the sky for a couple of years now and has come up with some remarkable images by pointing his camera to a brightly lit area of the sky, where the sun has just tucked behind a building to leave a backlit area just to the side of it.

“There’s hundreds of these things, they’re just everywhere,” said Mann of the rounded objects he’s seen flitting across his video screen. When he slows down the tape frame by frame, Mann can spot the “spinning turnips” that seem to radiate light.

Mann has sent the footage to a UFO group in New York that estimated the object’s speed across the sky at up to 18,000 miles per hour and at a size of 15-25 feet in diameter.

“These things are highly polished and moving very fast,” he said. “I don’t know exactly what they are, but they’re solid and silent.

“The definition of UFO is an unidentified object…I can’t begin to imagine where they’re from, but they’re not ours. I’ve seen too many different shapes and different sizes, and too many people have been seeing them in different places.”

Mann has also been in touch with Brian Vike, a UFO enthusiast who collects reports of sightings. Vike, who lives in Houston, B.C., is a member of several national and international astronomical societies and appears regularly on radio programs in the Okanagan, Alberta and the U.S.

Vike has seen Mann’s nighttime footage and originally thought it could be a bright star. But when the object disappeared after two days, he wasn’t so sure.

“It stands out in the sky like a sore thumb…if it was a star it should have showed up again after two days.”

Vike said many sky observers have used a technique similar to Mann’s for daytime shots that reveal “little blobs flying around” that could be anything from cottonwood fluff to dandelions or, quite possibly, UFOs.

Environment Canada spokesman Bill Miller said they used to receive several UFO reports from the Peace region that were attributed to the lights of a weather balloon at night. But as for Mann’s sightings, Miller didn’t want to hazard a guess.

“Some could be bugs,” Vike offered. “With the sun behind the building if something comes between the camera and the sun it will look very bright. In Mark’s footage it looked like a giant hamburger, so I don’t know what it is.”

Graham Conway heads up a group called UFO B.C. And while he figures the bug explanation is reasonable, he doesn’t quite buy it.

“Depending on the time of year, say when it’s colder in the fall or winter, the insect theory doesn’t stand up.”

Vike has heard reports of sightings in the North Peace region from the 1970s but said there seems to be a lull right now, likely because people are afraid of the ridicule from friends and family.

Mann’s had his share of naysayers, but is adamant about what he’s seen.

“I’ve had friends who say no way, but seeing is believing. There’s nothing I can do to convince people until they see it for themselves.”

Vike can’t say for sure what’s in Mann’s photos, but he’s not ruling out some extraterrestrial visitors.

“We can’t be the only life form in this universe,” he said. “There’s a lot more questions and not enough answers, but we can’t be the only life form in this vastness.”

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