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©2005Pierre-Paul Feyte

Mossad, Adolf Eichman And The Truth

The first reports a few days ago piqued our interest, but they appeared only on fairly small and innocuous news sites. Gradually however, the story was carried by some of the bigger mainstream news sites like the New York Times, appearing a few days ago on the front page of the BBC News site:

I Caught Eichmann

BBC News

The Israeli spy who captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann approached him in a Buenos Aires street with the words "one moment, sir", before bundling him into a car to be smuggled to Israel.

The operation, which had involved months of preparation, was over in 20 seconds - twice as long as Peter Malkin had planned.

As an SS officer, Eichmann oversaw the logistics of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews died.

He was put on trial in Jerusalem and hanged in 1962 - he remains the only person ever to be executed in Israel.

The daring operation eventually made Malkin, who died on Tuesday in New York aged 77, one of the Mossad intelligence agency's most high-profile agents.

He was buried in Tel Aviv on Friday. [...]

Now you may be wondering why this story is of particular interest, after all, the hunting down and executing of Nazis became somewhat of a popular "sport" in the aftermath of WWII, and it was not only the Mossad that pursued the hunt with relish. The case of Adolf Eichmann however, stands out not because Eichmann was the man allegedly "in charge of implementing the final solution", but rather because of what he knew.

Author Lenni Brenner published a book in 2002 entitled "51 documents: Zionist collaboration with the Nazis". The book is a collection of actual historical documents which show the close working relationship that so-called "Zionists" enjoyed with leading figures in the Nazi party during WWII. Among the evidence, which includes pro-Zionist propaganda disseminated by the Nazis, such as a medal for getting Jews to Palestine and a Nazi board game where the object is to move Jews to Palestine, there is the following most interesting information provided by Eichmann himself:

After the Holocaust began in 1942, Eichmann dealt regularly with Dr. Rudolf Kastner, a Hungarian Jew, whom he considered a "fanatical Zionist." At issue then, however, was the bargaining over the eventual fate of Hungary’s Jews, who were slated for liquidation in the Nazi-run death camps. Eichmann said this about Kastner, the Zionist representative, "I believe that [he] would have sacrificed a thousand or a hundred thousand of his blood to achieve his political goal. He was not interested in old Jews or those who had become assimilated into Hungarian society. ‘You can have the others,’ he would say, ‘but let me have this group here.’ And because Kastner rendered us a great service by helping keep the deportation camps peaceful. I would let his groups escape."

Now keep in mind that the above is not hearsay but taken from factual, historical documents. With the death of his captor, most mainstream reports are rehashing the story of Eichmann's capture and execution as simple yet justified revenge for the horrible atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people. The reality however seems to be that certain Israeli politicians wanted Eichmann punished, not only for his past crimes against humanity, but also for the threat that his knowledge of "Zionist" dealings with the Nazis posed to the foundations and justifcation for the modern state of Israel.

There is also the question of, why, of Eichmann was such an evil man did the CIA see fit to employ Eichmann and his associates:

CIA employed Eichmann's men

Hilary Leila Krieger
Feb. 6, 2005

At least five Nazi associates of Adolf Eichmann worked for the US Central Intelligence Agency following World War II, according to CIA documents posted Friday by The National Security Archive.

The Web site postings detail the US government's relationship with Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, the German Army's intelligence chief for the eastern front during the war, who later developed a close relationship with America. He was able to maintain his intelligence network despite employing known war criminals, with at least 100 former SD or Gestapo officers within his organization, according to the records.

The archive is a non-profit group that seeks to bring government documents to light under the Freedom of Information Act. It has been pressuring the CIA to release further information relating to its contacts with Nazis under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act, despite the embarrassing nature of that information.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who heads the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, welcomed the revelations, though he noted that the CIA's relationship with former Nazis has long been known.

"It's definitely high time that documents concerning this practice be revealed and researchers be granted access to them," Zuroff said, adding that this recent disclosure likely comes too late to bring any individuals to justice, since most of them have already died. "It's a shame these documents weren't released earlier."

He added, "It's a tragedy the US chose to use some of the worst of Hitler's henchmen in the aftermath of the war."

Zurhoff seems to be suggesting that the US government practice of employing war criminals to do its dirty work was some kind of anomaly, when in fact is was, and to this day remains, a part of official government policy. Indeed, it was all too natural for the US government to give safe haven to Nazi scientists and military personnel, given that there is much evidence to show that US government officials and politicians such as Prescott Bush (the current President's grandfather) along with the so-called "Zionists" of the day, were instrumental in building up the Nazi war machine.

The evidence suggests that "the Jewish question", usually believed to refer to an insane and racist Nazi plan to murder milions of Jews, was in fact the question of how the Nazis were going to fulfill the requests of the "Zionists" of the day to create the conditions that would lead to the creation of an Israeli state in Palestine and the en masse emigration of European Jewry to settle it.

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Mossad Assasination Plot Foiled By Irish Intelligence
YNet News

Irish newspaper says Israel attempted to assassinate expelled Palestinian militant who resides in Dublin; Israel denies accusations

Irish intelligence authorities tracked down two Israeli intelligence (Mossad) agents who were apparently attempting to enter the country to assist in the assassination of a senior Palestinian militant, Irish newspaper Evening Herald reported.

According to the report, Irish intelligence authorities tracked down the agents in January as they were gathering intelligence for an operation that was supposed to culminate with the Palestinian militant’s death.

The Palestinian militant, Jihad Jaara, was a senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror organization until he was expelled to Europe, along with 12 of his counterparts, following a standoff with IDF troops at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002.

'I'm only afraid of God'

Israeli security authorities contend that Jaara, who currently resides in Dublin, continues to support terror attacks against Israel from abroad.

Irish officers visited him at his home and promised not to let any harm come to him while on Irish soil, Jaara told Ynet.

"I clarified to the officers I am not safe in Israel and that the Israelis always violate their agreements and committments," he said. "No official in the world trusts Israel."

He said he was unable to obtain any specific details from the officers regarding the incident reported by the Evening Herald.

"The Israelis need to know I'm not afraid of them, Sharon or the Mossad, he said. "I'm only afraid of God."

Return of exiles delayed

The Foreign Ministry said in response the reports regarding Israel’s plan to assassinate Jaara are false.

The Evening Herald said various officials have attempted to keep the affair under wraps so as not to obstruct the positive political atmosphere in the Middle East.

Ireland has not filed an official complaint against Israel as of yet, but Irish security sources said the country is "concerned."

The remaining Palestinians who were expelled following the standoff with IDF forces at the Church of the Nativity in 2002 are expected to return to their West Bank homes within the framework of Israel’s goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians.

However, the return of the rest of the exiles is delayed until the control over Palestinian West Bank towns is transferred to the Palestinian Authority; the transfer itself has been stalled due the recent suicide bombing attack in Tel Aviv that left five Israelis dead.

Comment: Of course, the REAL reason why the transfer of power to the PA has not happened (and indeed never will) is because Sharon has no intention of making peace with the Palestinians. His ultimate goal is to wipe them out. The two Palestinian men residing in Dublin are there as guests of the Irish government. Their activities are constantly monitored by the Irish police. The suggestion by the Israelis therefore that they are directing Palestinian terrorism from abroad is unlikely to be true. The simple fact is that Sharon is determined to snuff out the very idea of an independent Palestinian state, and to do so he must eliminate anyone who represents or promotes the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

On a slightly different topic; the Mossad seem to be slipping up surprisingly regularly in recent months. Last year we saw two Mossad agents posing as a paraplegic New Zealander in an attempt to

Ze'ev Barkan

procure a NZ passport (no doubt to leave a false trail in some future false flag "terror attack"). While both Eli Cara and Uri Kelman were convicted and sent to jail for a meager six months, the alleged ring-leader Ze'ev Barkan escaped. According to New Zealand security officials and as reported by the Australian press, Barkan's job description includes running Asian criminal gangs which are used to obtain Australian Identity documents and other passports stolen from Australians killed in Asia. Of course, "killed" generally does not mean death by natural causes, but rather "suicided" or "accidented" while on holiday pleasure cruises. Barkan also enjoys recruiting for "al-qaeda" in Asia. The same New Zealand security official stated:

Over the past nine months we have been investigating eight cases, 11 people informed us of this Israeli operation, asking Thai Landers to join al-Qaeda. One email had even been signed by the al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. a New Zealand official said.

A New Zealand official said his services had traced back to Israel the phone calls and emails - purportedly from Germany and Lebanon and Pakistan.

We investigated the origin of those calls and found out they all came from Israel.

The people the Israelis tried to recruit were then given stolen Australian documents, and received money and weapons.

The money was provided by Israel directly to the recruits or was transferred from bank accounts in Jerusalem or Israel, said the New Zealand official.

Nice people eh? Should Americans be concerned that the nation state that sponsors such activities appears to be dictating American foreign policy?

This year, another Mossad agent, Amir Laty, who worked at the Israeli embassy in Australia was caught smooching up to the daughter of the Australian Attorney General in an attempt to extract military and technology secrets provided to the Australians by the Americans. It also emerged that ASIO (Australian intelligence) was alerted to Laty's activities after what they claim was a "suspicious meeting" with a former Israeli Army intelligence officer serving time in a New South Wales jail for drug importation.

Is there any scurrilous activity that the Mossad are NOT involved in??

Under threat of expulsion by the Australians, Laty returned to Israel "of his own free will". His slated replacement, Ari Scher, is no stranger to smooching either, albeit that his particular expertise involves 'smooching' with minors. Five years previously, Scher had fled from his post at the Israeli embassy in Brazil when allegations of child pornography surfaced.

The BBC reported Israeli Vice Consul Arie Scher in Rio de Janeiro fled Brazil and returned to Israel on 5th July 2000 to face an investigation into allegations that pornographic pictures and videotapes of young children found in the home of a Hebrew language teacher arrested on Tuesday had been pictured and filmed at the diplomat’s house.

Brazilian Police said the pictures had been published on the internet with the apparent aim of attracting foreign paedophiles to Rio de Janeiro.

The Sydney Morning Herald said that Arie Scher was head of a child prostitution, and the group recruited girls as young as nine years old and organized sex parties with the children for Israeli tourists. One of the child prostitutes was questioned by Brazilian police and led them to the home of a Hebrew language teacher in Rio, Georges Schteinberg, where police seized photographs of hundreds of naked children and videos taken at sex parties with the children. Viewing the videos, police officials recognized the swimming pool and deck of the Israeli consul, Arie Scher, which was the scene of many of the sex parties. In Schteinberg’s home, police said they found 12 videos, internet messages and 154 pictures, including the shots of naked girls in Scher’s apartment.

Reuters reported: "Police said a young girl testified she was filmed and photographed by the teacher, Georges Schteinberg, having sex with Israeli tourists. She also explained that Scher participated in some of the sessions... 'We confirmed that the pornographic pictures were taken next to the consul's pool and on his deck,' said Roberto Costa, a chief investigator for the civil police."

Then just a few weeks ago another interesting report held echoes of the many US government warnings of the threats posed by "al-Qaeda".

Man arrested after milk contamination

24 January 2005

A 30-year-old Israeli man has been arrested for allegedly contaminating 40,000 litres of milk on a mid Canterbury dairy farm.

The man, in New Zealand on a work permit, was arrested on a charge of contaminating food, crops, water or other product intended for human consumption after antibiotics were detected in a sample taken from the milk silo on the property last week.

Samples are routinely taken when milk is collected by tankers.

Constable Gary McIntyre of Ashburton police said the charge had been introduced with the Crimes Amendment Act 2003 and it was possible this was the first time anyone had been charged with the offence.

If he is found guilty, the man could face a sentence of up to 10 years' jail.

It is rather indicative of the nature of politics and those people that we all look to as "leaders" that people like Scher, when exposed for the despicable human beings that they are, are more likely to be promoted than punished. If only people would accept the fact that there are certain people who do not possess the morality that we misguidedly assign to all human beings and that such people are much more likely to attain to positions of power than their moral counterparts. In the hands of such people, power does not take long to corrupt and duplicity and deception become the only 'ideals' that have any value.

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Flashback: U.S. Army Officers Say: 'Mossad May Blame Arabs'
Michael Collins Piper
American Free Press

Sometimes "the most likely suspect" in an act of terrorism is actually a "false flag" working for-or otherwise "framed" by- those who are responsible.

Top U.S. Army analysts believe Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad, is "ruthless and cunning," "a wildcard" that "has [the] capability to target U.S. forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act."

This eye-opening assertion about America's supposed closest ally was reported in a front page story in The Washington Times on September 10-just one day before the terrorist attacks in America that are being blamed on "Arabs."

The Times reported that this serious charge by U.S. Army officers against the Israelis appeared in a 68-page paper prepared by 60 officers at the U.S. Army's School for Advanced Military Studies, a training ground for up-and-coming Army officers.

Then, just hours after the terrorist tra gedies, a well-known pro-Israel analyst, George Friedman, proclaimed Israel as the primary beneficiary.

"The big winner today, intended or not, is the state of Israel," wrote Fried man, who said on his Internet website at that "There is no question … that the Israeli leadership is feeling relief" in the wake of the terrorist attack on America as a result of the benefits that Israel will glean.

Considering the U.S. Army's questions about possible provocations by Israel, coupled with this noted intelligence analyst's suggestion that Israel was indeed "the big winner" on Sept. 11, a previous report in the Aug. 3, 1993 issue of The Village Voice that Israel's Mossad was perhaps involved in (or had foreknowledge of) the previous "Arab terrorist" attack on the World Trade Center, takes on new dimensions.

The events of Sept. 11 do require careful attention in light of the fact that Israel has had a long and proven record in planting "false flags"-orchestrated assassinations and acts of terrorism for its own purposes and pinning those atrocities on innocent parties.

Perhaps the best-known instance in which Israel used a "false flag" to cover its own trail was in the infamous Lavon Affair. It was in 1954 that several Israeli-orchestrated acts of terrorism against British targets in Egypt were carried out. Blame for the attacks was placed on the Muslim Brotherhood, which opposed the regime of Egyptian President Gamul Abdul-Nasser. However, the truth about the wave of terror is found in a once-secret cable from Col. Benjamin Givli, the head of Israel's military intelligence, who outlined the intended purpose behind the wave of terror:

[Our goal] is to break the West's confidence in the existing [Egyptian] regime. The actions should cause arrests, demonstrations, and expressions of revenge. The Israeli origin should be totally covered while attention should be shifted to any other possible factor. The purpose is to prevent economic and military aid from the West to Egypt.

Ultimately the truth about Israel's involvement became public and Israel was rocked internally in the wake of the scandal. Competing political elements within Israel used the scandal as a bludgeon against their opponents. But the truth about Israel's use of a "false flag" had come to international attention and demonstrated how Israel was willing to endanger innocent lives as part of its grand political strategy to expand its influence in the Middle East.


A shadowy "right wing" group known as "Direct Action" was accused of the attack on Goldenberg's Deli in Paris on Aug. 9, 1982. Six people died and 22 were injured. The leader of "Direct Action" was Jean-Marc Rouillan who had been operating in the Mediterranean under the cover name of "Sebas" and had been repeatedly linked to the Mossad. All references to Rouillan's Mossad links were deleted from the official reports issued at the time.

However, the Algerian national news service, which has ties to French intelligence, blamed the Mossad for Rouillan's activities. Angry French intelligence officers were believed to have leaked this information. Several top French security officials quit in protest over the cover-up of Mossad complicity in Rouillan's crimes. However, other Mossad false flag operations also took place on French soil.


On Oct. 3, 1980, a synagogue on Co pernicus Street was bombed in Paris. Four bystanders were killed. Nine were injured. The media frenzy which followed the incident was worldwide. Reports held that "right wing extremists" were responsible. Yet, of all the "right wing extremists" held for questioning, none was arrested. In fact, all were released. In the upper echelons of French intelligence, however, the finger of suspicion was pointed at the Mossad.

According to one report: "On April 6, 1979, the same Mossad terror unit now suspected of the Copernicus carnage blew up the heavily guarded plant of CNIM industries at La Seyne-sur-Mer, near Toulon, in southeast France, where a consortium of French firms was building a nuclear reactor for Iraq.

"The Mossad salted the site of the CNIM bomb blast with 'clues' followed up with anonymous phone calls to police-suggesting that the sabotage was the work of a 'conservative' environmentalist group-'the most pacific and harmless people on earth' as one source put it."


On June 28, 1978, Israeli agents exploded a bomb under a small passenger car in the Rue Saint Anne in Paris, killing Mohammed Boudia, an organizer for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Immediately afterward, Paris police received anonymous phone calls accusing Boudia of involvement in narcotics deals and attributing his murder to the Corsican Mafia. A thorough investigation subsequently established that Mossad special-action agents were responsible for the terrorist killing.

In October 1976 the same Mossad unit kidnapped two West German students named Brigette Schulz and Thomas Reuter from their Paris hotel. Planted "clues" and anonymous phone calls made it appear that a Bavarian "neo-nazi" formation had executed the abduction. French intelligence established that the two German youths had been secretly flown to Israel, drugged, tortured, coerced into a false "confession of complicity" in PLO activities, and then anonymously incarcerated in one of the Israeli government's notorious political prisons.

In February 1977 a German-born, naturalized U.S. citizen named William Jahnke arrived in Paris for some secretive business meetings. He soon vanished, leaving no trace. Paris police were anonymously informed that Jahnke had been involved in a high-level South Korean bribery affair and "eliminated" when the deal went sour. A special team of investigators from SDECE, the leading French intelligence agency, eventually determined that Jahnke had been "terminated" by the Mossad, which suspected him of selling secret information to the Libyans. Along with other details of this sordid case, the SDECE learned that Jahnke had been "fingered" to the Mossad by his own former employer, the CIA.


One of Israel's most outrageous "false flag" operations involved a wild propaganda story aimed at discrediting Libyan leader Muamar Qaddafi. In the early months of the administration of President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. media began promoting a story that a "Libyan hit squad" was in the United States to assassinate the president. This inflamed public sentiment against Libya.

Suddenly, however, the "hit squad" stories vanished. Ultimately it was discovered that the source of the story was Manucher Ghorbanifar, a former Iranian SAVAK (secret police) agent with close ties to the Mossad. Even the liberal Washington Post acknowledged that the CIA itself believed that Ghorbanifar was a liar who "had made up the hit-squad story in order to cause problems for one of Israel's enemies."

The Los Angeles Times had already blown the whistle on Israel's scare stories. "Israeli intelligence, not the Reagan administration," reported the Times, "was a major source of some of the most dramatic published reports about a Libyan assassination team allegedly sent to kill President Reagan and other top U.S. officials... Israel, which informed sources said has 'wanted an excuse to go in and bash Libya for a longtime,' may be trying to build American public support for a strike against [Qaddafi]."

In other words, Israel had been promoting the former SAVAK agent, Ghorbanifar, to official Washington as a reliable source. In fact, he was a Mossad disinformation operative waving a "false flag"-yet another Israeli scheme to blame Libya for its own misdeeds, using one "false flag" (Iran's SAVAK) to lay blame on another "false flag" (Libya).

The Mossad was almost certainly responsible for the bombing of the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin on April 5, 1986. However, claims were made that there was "irrefutable" evidence that the Libyans were responsible. A U.S. serviceman was killed. President Ronald Reagan responded with an attack on Libya.

However, intelligence insiders believed that Israel's Mossad had concocted the phony "evidence" to "prove" Libyan responsibility. West Berlin police director Manfred Ganschow, who took charge of the investigation, cleared the Libyans, saying, "This is a highly political case. Some of the evidence cited in Washington may not be evidence at all, merely assumptions supplied for political reasons."


On April 18, 1986, Nezar Hindawi, a 32-year-old Jordanian man was arrested in London after security guards found that one of the passengers boarding an Israeli plane bound for Jerusalem, Ann Murphy, 22, was carrying a square, flat sheet of plastic explosive in the double bottom of her carry-on bag.

Miss Murphy told security men that the detonator (disguised as a calculator) had been given to her by her fiancee, Hindawi. He was charged with attempted sabotage and attempted murder.

Word was leaked that Hindawi had confessed and claimed that he had been hired by Gen. Mohammed Al-Khouli, the intelligence director of the Syrian air force. Also implicated were others including the Syrian ambassador in London. The French authorities warned the British prime minister that there was more to the case than met the eye-that is, Israeli involvement. This was later confirmed in reports in the Western press.


In 1970, King Hussein of Jordan was provided incriminating intelligence that suggested the Palestine Liberation Organization was plotting to murder him and seize power. Infuriated, Hussein mobilized his forces for what has become known as the "Black September" purge of the PLO. Thousands of Palestinians living in Jordan were rounded up, some of the leaders were tortured, and in the end, masses of refugees were driven from Jordan to Lebanon.

New data, coming to light after the murder of two leading Mossad operatives in Larnaka, Cyprus, suggested that the entire operation had been a Mossad covert action, led by one of its key operatives, Sylvia Roxburgh. She contrived an affair with King Hussein and served as the linchpin for a major Mossad coup designed to destabilize the Arabs.

In 1982, just when the PLO had abandoned the use of terrorism, the Mossad spread disinformation about "terror attacks" on Israeli settlements along the northern border in order to justify a full-scale military invasion of Lebanon. Years later, even leading Israeli spokesmen, such as former Foreign Minister Abba Eban, admitted that the reports of "PLO terrorism" had been contrived by the Mossad.

It is also worth noting that the attempted assassination in London of Israeli ambassador Shlomo Argov was initially blamed on the PLO. The attempted assassination was cited by Israel as one excuse for its 1982 incursion into Lebanon. In fact, the diplomat was one of Israel's "doves" and inclined toward a friendly disposition of Israel's conflict with the PLO and an unlikely target of PLO wrath.

It appears that the assassination attempt was carried out by the Mossad-under yet another "false flag"-for two purposes: (a) elimination of a domestic "peacenik" friendly toward the Palestinians; and (b) pinning yet another crime on the PLO.

Comment: Having read the above reports of the repeated lies and false flag operations used by Israeli intelligence, consider the following story...

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Israeli Intelligence Provides Evidence Of Syrian Involvement in Tel Aviv Bombing
By Ynetnews

Israel has transcript of Jihad attack order

'Sunday Times' reports Israeli intelligence provided U.S. Secretary of State with evidence of Damascus-based Islamic Jihad involvement in Tel Aviv strike

TEL AVIV - Israeli intelligence agents have provided U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with a phone transcript in which Damascus-based Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdallah Shalah authorized the suicide bombing at the Stage nightclub in Tel Aviv last month.

The report in London’s Sunday Times also says that Israel has marked Shalah as a legitimate target for an assassination attempt as a result of the attack.

Last week, Rice said there was solid evidence that Islamic Jihad was responsible for the suicide bombing that killed five people and wounded dozens.

"There is firm evidence that Palestinian Islamic Jihad sitting in Damascus not only knew about these attacks, but was involved in the planning," she told American ABC television.

Israeli spokesmen have also blamed Islamic Jihad for the attack, and said that Syria also bears responsibility for providing Hamas with protection.

No question

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said there is no question the attack can be traced directly to Islamic Jihad in Syria. In addition, Foreign

Minister Silvan Shalom said Syria bears overall responsibility for terrorism in Israel, because "the attack may have been carried out by Islamic Jihad, but Syria gave the command."

Comment: Given Israel's track record, which few people are even aware of, and the desire by both Israel and the US to effect "regime change" in Syria, what are the chances that the Tel Aviv bombing was yet another false flag operation by the Mossad?

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Israel seeks support for Lebanon pullout

JERUSALEM -- Israel's foreign minister said Sunday he would try to rally international support for a full Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon when he travels to Washington this week.

On Saturday, Syrian President Bashar Assad announced a two-stage pullback of his forces to the Lebanese border, but failed to address calls to withdraw completely. U.S. and French officials criticized Assad's pledges as insufficient.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said a Syrian withdrawal would help promote stability and peace efforts in the Middle East.

"The purpose is to act to get Syrian troops out of Lebanon, include Hezbollah on the list of terror organizations, dismantle their terror infrastructure," he told Israel Radio.

"I think those things could also contribute to another of our objectives - progress on the Palestinian front," he said. "If we do both simultaneously, it would contribute much more to the stability of the Mideast, and the possibility of us conducting a dialogue with many more Arab and Islamic countries."

Shalom, who was to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley during this week's trip, said he would raise the issue of Lebanon.

Israel accuses Syria of harboring Palestinian militant groups and providing support to the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah. It has asked the European Union to place Hezbollah on the European list of terrorist organizations. Hezbollah already is on the U.S. State Department lists of terrorist groups.

Syria has come under growing international pressure to withdraw its 15,000 troops in Lebanon since the Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Many Lebanese blamed the killing on the pro-Syrian Lebanese government and its Syrian backers - a charge the government and Syria denied.

Shalom, speaking at a joint news conference Saturday with Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani al-Mulqi, dismissed Assad's speech as failing to meet a U.N. resolution calling for a "a complete withdrawal of all Syrian troops from Lebanon."

Israel withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon in 2000 after an 18-year occupation, and officials now believe that Syrian pressure is the only thing preventing Lebanon from joining Egypt and Jordan in making peace with Israel.

"Syria does not have a strong army, but it has a big appetite," Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Sunday. "They are in Lebanon more because of economic reasons than because of military reasons. Lebanon can be the next candidate for peace."

The Jordanian minister also called on Syria to withdraw. "Implementation of the resolution should result in a stronger Lebanon and a Lebanon that is undivided," al-Mulqi said Saturday.

Al-Mulqi is making the first visit to Israel by a Jordanian foreign minister in more than four years.

Amman withdrew its ambassador shortly after the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in late 2000. Jordan's ambassador recently returned its ambassador after a Feb. 8 Mideast summit where Israel and the Palestinians called for an end to the violence.

In a sign of the warming ties, al-Mulqi invited Shalom to visit Jordan. Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said the trip would likely take place in the next two or three weeks.

"We come here today after four years of boycott, but we come back on a very strong basis of understanding in order to strengthen our bilateral contacts," al-Mulqi said Sunday after meeting Peres.

Al-Mulqi was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other top Israeli officials later Sunday.

Al-Mulqi is expected to raise Jordan's position on final status issues in the Arab-Israeli peace process such as borders, Palestinian refugees, the holy city of Jerusalem and water resources. Al-Mulqi said he will also demand the release of some 25 Jordanian prisoners from Israeli jails.

Sharon's office, meanwhile, confirmed the Israeli leader will travel to Washington next month for talks with President Bush. A spokesman declined to confirm a report in the Haaretz daily that the meeting would take place on April 12.

Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas both accepted invitations to the White House from the U.S. secretary of state when she visited the region last month.

Comment: Peace for the Israelis means capitulation to Israel. The Syrians have been trying to negotiate the Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, a part of Syria invaded by Israel in 1967 that it continues to occupy and settle. The Israelis refuse. American and Israeli strategy appears to be to pick off the surrounding states one by one, breaking any common front on the part of the Arab states against Israeli aggression and its occupation of Palestinian territories. Here is where we see the completely rotten nature of the system, a system of self-interest where moral values are second to dollar values, where doing the right thing takes a back seat to manouevering for power.

But that is the way the world works. As far as we can tell, it has always been that way, and, no matter how hard people of good will have worked and reflected on how things could be done, organised or structured differently, nothing changes. Technological progress is interpreted as the progress of humanity, and we convince ourselves that because we travel in planes and cars that we are more civilised than our ancestors who had only horses or their own two feet, that because we have cell phones and the Internet that we are morally superior to people who used smoke signals or stone tablets or who couldn't write.

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Syria pullout plan 'not enough'
The United States is leading continued pressure on Syria for a full withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced on Saturday a phased redeployment to the Syrian border, but Washington says this is insufficient.

Israel, France and Britain have also called for a complete pull-out.

Syria has been under intense pressure to withdraw from Lebanon since the February car bomb death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Many Lebanese accused Syria of being involved in the killing, but Damascus has strongly denied this.

'Cosmetic measure'

Facing intense international pressure and daily street protests within Lebanon, Mr Assad told Syria's parliament on Saturday that troops would be pulled back first to the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon, and then to the Syrian border.

He said that would fulfil commitments to both the 1989 Taef accord that ended the Lebanese civil war, and a UN resolution from 2004 calling for foreign forces to leave Lebanon.

But the US said the announcement was insufficient.

"It's clear to us, not just the United States, but the international community, that his words are insufficient," US spokesman Adam Ereli said.

"We have not heard the words: 'immediate and full withdrawal'."

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called the announcement "unacceptable" and "purely a cosmetic measure".

He added: "Assad did not breathe a word about Syrian secret agents who, in plainclothes, also occupy Lebanon."


Mr Assad told the Syrian parliament the military withdrawal "does not mean the absence of Syria's role... its role in Lebanon is not dependent on the presence of its forces in Lebanon."

Shortly after Mr Assad's speech, a senior Syrian minister, Buthaina Shaaban, said troops would be pulled back across the Syrian border, and "in the nearest possible time".

Lebanon's main opposition leader, Walid Jumblatt, called Mr Assad's announcement a "positive start" but demanded a clear timetable for the withdrawal.

In the Lebanese capital Beirut, members of the public watched the broadcast in a central square, shouting "Syria out!" and denouncing the Syrian president.

Gunfire erupted late on Saturday after pro-Syrian protesters arrived in the anti-Syrian Christian sector of Beirut, but there were no reports of casualties.

Last week the Syrian-backed Lebanese government resigned after two weeks of protests on the streets of Beirut by tens of thousands of demonstrators angry at the killing of the former prime minister.

Since Mr Hariri's resignation in October 2004, he had become a rallying point for opposition to Syria's dominance of Lebanon.

In his speech, President Assad called Mr Hariri's killing "an atrocious crime... against the unity and stability of Lebanon as well as Syria", and vowed to bring the culprits to justice.

Comment: No one has produced a single piece of evidence tying Syria to the bombing in Beirut. In fact, the circumstantial evidence and the logic of who benefits from the bombing and killing of Hariri point to Israel and the United States. That has not stopped an international feeding frenzy in Lebanon and the verbal aggression against Syria.

The last few weeks are a lesson in how quickly the international stage can change, how easily public opinion can be manipulated. Think back to 9/11 and the radical shift that occurred in just a few minutes as the images of the jets flying into the twin towers were repeated over and over again as the pundits identified Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and Islamic terrorism as the culprit. Mind control need not be limited to fancy technology and Above Top Secret black ops. Television is often all that is needed.

In Lebanon, it was the shots of the "people" in the street. Who these people were, who provoked them or paid them to demonstrate is never considered. The same networks that ignored the millions of people protesting two years ago against Bush's threats against Iraq and his lies about WMD are now fawningly showing a few thousand people in the streets in Beirut, as they have done before for the "Orange" revolution in the Ukraine and the "Pink" revolution in Georgia, the official propaganda arm of the US state feeding the military and covert ops arm.

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'Assad does not mind paying heed to Moscow, but never Washington'
Sunday Herald
Analysis: By Diplomatic Editor Trevor Royle

Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, President Bashar al-Assad finally bowed to international pressure yesterday by announcing a partial withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. At the back of his mind he will know that those forces can easily be redeployed, but yesterday’s announcement shows every sign that Assad is beginning to feel the heat. In theory, he is implementing the terms of the Taif Accord of 1989 which obliged Syria to redeploy its 14,000-strong army to the eastern Bekaa valley, but in practice he is buying time following a period of sustained pressure. Even before he made his announcement, US President George W Bush got his retaliation in first by demanding “a complete withdrawal – no half-measures”.

Assad’s decision will no doubt be hailed as a triumph for the demonstrators who spent last week campaigning in Beirut. Comparisons have been made with the orange revolution in Ukraine which sounds good but it is not the whole story. The so-called “cedar revolutionaries” are mainly Druze and Maronite Christians prompted into action by the recent assassination of the former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Without producing any evidence, they blamed the Syrians for the murder and then deployed their anger to demand a withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. So, in a sense they have a reason to celebrate: the pro-Syrian government has resigned, thereby forcing an election, and now part of the Syrian army will withdraw from their country.

That should be that and everybody should be happy, but the wider picture is more alarming. Hariri’s assassination was not just a spur for the demonstrations in downtown Beirut; it also created a major upset in the regional balance of power. And beyond the Lebanon-Syria nexus there are greater ramifications. Assad did not bow to the young Lebanese demonstrators with their cedar flags. He made the move because he was under pressure from Saudi Arabia, Russia, the US and Israel.

The first point of pressure is obvious. Last week Assad was summoned to Riyadh where Saudi’s Crown Prince Abdullah read him the riot act and told him that he had to pull out of Lebanon or lose face in the Arab world. The outcome of the meeting has been the subject of claim and counter-claim but diplomats have put an acceptable gloss on the meeting by selling it as an Arab solution to an Arab problem. Except, of course, there is more to the compromise than placating ethnic pride. While Syria has found itself isolated in the Arab world as a result of its old-style nationalism and its alleged complicity in Hariri’s death, it is also open to pressure from outside the Middle East.

On Friday, a Syrian delegation was in Moscow where Foreign Ministry officials told them that they had to abide by a UN resolution urging the withdrawal and that Russia would not tolerate any backsliding. Coming from Syria’s oldest ally outside the Middle East this was coercion of a high order and it carried the additional weight that the sale of a sophisticated air defence scheme was hanging on the outcome. Of course, the Russians have their own axe to grind. Having been unable to influence events in Iraq, they are anxious to play a more significant role in the region’s peacemaking and apart from the missile deal they had the trump card that they are not the US. Assad will not mind paying heed to Moscow, but Washington is another matter.

In demanding that the Syrians withdraw completely and immediately from Lebanon, Bush was making it clear that he has no intention of letting Assad off the hook. Nothing would please the US president more than to see a regime change in Damascus and that could still be on the cards. First Hariri is murdered and the people take to the streets. In the aftermath, the pro-Syrian government falls. Assad is then put under pressure from the Arab world and only finds a way out of the impasse by offering what seems to be a compromise.

However that will not be the end of the matter. Syria still has loyalists in Lebanon who believe that the two countries have too many shared interests to separate completely, but if the cedar revolutionaries have their way in the May election their victory at the polls could signal the end of 30 years of economic and political co-dependence. It would also make Assad’s position more shaky. Israel, too, is in a position to influence events as they are keen to close down Syrian-based terror operations once and for all. Should they decide to strike against Hizbollah targets in Damascus, the US would be unlikely to stop them. Once again it seems that the affairs of the Middle East are about to be decided, not by the participants themselves, but by forces outside their control.

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The White House Stage Manages the "Get Syria" Move
Friday, March 4, 2005
by Saul Landau and Farrah Hassen

After 9/11, Administration neo-cons offered a "noble lie" to sell the public on the need to invade and occupy Iraq (The Iraqis will shower our troops with flowers and kisses). The same group has invented a new "virtuous prevarication" to build support for an attack on Syria. Ignoring recent testimony by CIA Director Porter J. Goss that "Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists" (Washington Post, February 17, 2005), this group of high US officials in Defense, State and the Vice President's office have organized a "get Syria" movement.

Without evidence, US officials accused Damascus of responsibility for the February 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, and of sponsoring terrorism in Iraq as well.

Anti-Syria rhetoric followed from the Iraq precedent. Following the 9/11 attacks, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and then-Defense Policy Board Chair Richard Perle found they could convince President Bush to switch from traditionalist (do little) policy to aggressively asserting naked military power.

Altering Teddy Roosevelt's policy advice by speaking loudly and also carrying a big stick, these neo-cons replaced truth with "myth-making." The neo-cons shared a common guru, former University of Chicago political philosopher Leo Strauss. Under Strauss' neo-platonic model, a governing elite wields power and utilizes the "noble lie" to guide imperial ideology. Beyond sharing a common understanding of the Straussian fundamentals of political rule, the neo-cons also share enthusiasm for aggressive Israeli policies.

In the early 1990s, they sold Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfled on this strategy. After 9/11, Cheney and Rumsfeld used their positions as Vice President and Defense Secretary to sell Bush on the new approach. From that time on, official statements utilized the neo-con "noble lie": Saddam Hussein backed the 9/11 terrorists and possessed WMDs and planned to share them with terrorists; thus, the US had to stop him. Repeat it and report it in the press and the public will believe it. Pro-Israel media acolytes like the NY Times' Judith Miller obliged the neo-cons in manufacturing "evidence" of an "enemy" that the public could effortlessly hate.

By late 2004, the White House admitted that Saddam had neither WMDs nor links to the 9/11 fiends. Logically, Bush should have fired this gang for involving the country in the Iraqi morass. Instead, their disastrous Iraqi performance brought the neo-cons even more clout in the second Bush Administration. Using their spin-mastery to inflame opinion, the neo-cons invented new "black hats" ­ Iran and Syria.

The neo-cons also stage-managed facts in the aftermath of the February 14 assassination of Hariri, who had demanded that Syrian troops leave Lebanon, so as to point the accusatory finger at the Bashar al-Assad government. Even after Assad condemned the murder as a "horrible crime," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recalled the US Ambassador to Syria for "consultations," while threats of possible US military action emanated from neo-con offices in Washington.

Spun properly, Hariri's murder transcended the commonplace assassinations in the Middle East and became an international cause célèbre. The neo-cons correctly counted on the media to maintain "temporal atrophy." The press neither commented on how assassinating one's "enemies" impacted the rule of law, nor on how routine extra-judicial assassinations by Israel and the United States had become. Bush revealed in his 2003 State of the Union address that "more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way-- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies." What a lesson to teach!

Had the media reported Hariri's assassination as just another probable state-sponsored execution, it would have stripped both shock value and the veneer of moral indignation from Bush's reaction.

But it didn't. So, the anti-Syria theme escalated. Bush had already used his February 2005 State of the Union address to confront "regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region."

The next day, Wolfowitz told Senate Armed Services Committee members that Syria should stop "destabilize[ing] Iraq" as if Syria, not the United States, invaded Iraq in March 2003 without UN Security Council authorization.

The Senate panel's curiosity did not extend to asking Wolfowitz about Israeli destabilization of Lebanon during the 1980s or how Israeli-backed Phalangist militias massacred thousands of Palestinian refugees in 1982 at Sabra and Shatila.

Indeed, historical amnesia after Hariri's murder permitted Bush officials to sanctimoniously demand that Congress warn Syria to end her "occupation" of Lebanon and support Lebanese "sovereignty." Even Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who commanded Israeli military operations in Lebanon in 1982, made such a demand.

What Chutzpah! Sharon demands Syrian withdrawal while Israel continues its 38-year occupation of Palestinian territories, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. Indeed, Israel still occupies Syria's Golan Heights in violation of UN Security Council resolution 497.

Another part of the "noble lie" relates to the threat Syria's 14,000 troops poses to Lebanese "sovereignty." In fact, the bilateral agreement between Lebanon and Syria to station troops resulted directly from the prior destabilization of Lebanon by Israel, the United States, France and to a lesser extent Syria ­ whose interests are directly affected by Lebanese instability.

But who benefits? Without a context, official US language makes it seem as if Lebanon and the United States would gain from hostility toward evil Syria. On February 8, Secretary of State Rice called Syria "unhelpful in a number ways." Did she mean to include Syria's post 9/11 assistance in providing US intelligence with information that saved American lives by preventing an Al Qaeda attack on the US Fleet in Bahrain?

Did she refer to Syria's help in arresting Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German citizen accused of recruiting some 9/11 hijackers in Hamburg? Indeed, did Rice also suffer terminal forgetfulness?

The State Department affirmed on April 30, 2003: "The Government of Syria has cooperated significantly with the United States and other foreign governments against al- Qaida, the Taliban, and other terrorist organizations and individuals." More recently, Damascus cooperated by closing holes in the porous Iraqi-Syrian border.

Syria learned: no good deed goes unpunished. Syria still remains on the State Department's list of countries sponsoring terrorism. In November 2003, Congress passed without debate the Syria Accountability Act. No Member publicly referred to Syria's anti-terrorist efforts. Yet, the bill charged Syria ­ without citing evidence -- with "harboring terrorists," "developing weapons of mass destruction" and "occupying Lebanon." On May 12, 2004, Bush banned US exports to Syria and Syrian aircraft from US territory.

Following Hariri's murder, anti-Syria rhetoric escalated. Senator George Allen (R-VA) and Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) called for sending "a message" by imposing "tough" new measures ­ banning US business in Syria -- on Damascus.

The verbal attacks coincided with demands to install "democracy." Indeed, "democracy" had already served to cover previous US aggression. A month after the 9/11 events, Bush bombed Afghanistan ­ "they hate us because we're free"--despite the fact that most of the 9/11 hijackers came from oily Saudi Arabia, the US ally. Similarly, Bush "liberated Iraq" by making war ­ the most profound violation of human rights -- against the human rights abusing Hussein.

The democracy beat continues because the major media doesn't question it. David Frum and Richard Perle (January 7, 2004 Wall St. Journal) contended in reference to Syria that, "When the door [to democracy] is locked shut by a totalitarian deadbolt, American power may be the only way to open it up." In their 2003 book An End to Evil, Frum and Perle advocated regime change in Syria, Cuba, North Korea and Iran. In 1996, Perle and fellow neo-con Douglas Feith had projected a policy to facilitate Israel's shaping of "its strategic weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria." In their report, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," Perle and Feith argued for the removal of "Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, an important Israeli strategic objective as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions."

If rogue elements in Syrian did the Beirut murder, it was what Israeli journalist Uri Avnery's called "an act of supreme folly, since it was obvious that it would help the Americans build up the Lebanese opposition and arouse a storm of anti-Syrian sentiment."

Regardless of who assassinated Hariri, the deed focused world attention on a problematic Lebanese-Syrian relationship. Hariri's death may indeed serve to catalyze a new round of US and even some European intervention in Arab affairs. The very threat of such a move has pushed Syria to talk of withdrawing its forces from Lebanon.

But as Bush descended upon Europe last week to forgive France and Germany for being right about Iraq, Europeans indicated they would proceed "cautiously in blood," as Edmund Burke once advised.

The neo-cons awaited Bush's return to Washington so as to proceed with their foreign policy script, oozing with "sound and fury" (Shakespeare's "Macbeth"), which calls for burying judicious voices and replacing them with "noble lies."

Farrah Hassen recently spent 2 months working for the United Nations Development Programme in Syria. She can be reached at: Saul Landau directs Digital Media at Cal Poly Pomona University. He and Farrah Hassen made the 2004 film: Syria: Between Iraq and a Hard Place.

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U.S. gives Israel "go-ahead" to strike Syria

Bush’s administration gave Israel the go-ahead to attack Syria in retaliation to Tel Aviv bombing that took place last weekend, killing 5 Israelis, the Hebrew daily ‘Yediot Ahronot’ reported.

Also, the U.S. didn’t ask Tel Aviv to exercise self restraint, as in past cases vis-à-vis the Palestinian commando raids, the newspaper added.

‘Yediot Ahronot’, moreover, said that the Israeli ambassador to Washington discussed with a senior U.S. official intelligence information obtained by the Israeli intelligence service claiming that Jihad Resistance Movement had masterminded the Tel Aviv blast from inside Damascus.

In his meeting with his Belgian counterpart in the occupied Jerusalem, the Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom said he had tabled an official request to the Belgian government to include the Lebanese Hezbollah Movement in the European list of “terror groups”.

The Israeli chief diplomat claimed that Hezbollah was financially supporting the Palestinian resistance groups and planning various military attacks targeting the Israeli occupation forces. [...]

Meanwhile, a Bush administration official made a similar statement in Washington, claiming that the United States had obtained "firm evidence that the bombing on the 25th of February was not only authorized by Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders in Damascus but that PIJ leaders also were actively involved in planning."

However, the official refused to state the evidence, only saying it was based on "U.S. intelligence."

Comment: Hmmm...would that be the same Neocon-contrived "US intelligence" that proved that Saddam had WMDs?

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What's Happening in Lebanon
An Interview with Fadi K. Agha, Foreign Policy Advisor to President Emil Lahoud
Weekend Edition
March 5 / 6, 2005

Mr. Fadi K. Agha is a foreign policy adviser to Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. I conducted the following interview with him via email following the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and the resignation of his successor, Omar Karami. The capitalizations/emphases are his, and this is completely unedited.

Q: Lebanon is a complex society, about 40% Christian, 40% Shiite Muslim, the rest Sunni Muslim, Druze, etc. For those unfamiliar with the country, could you say something about the historical relationships between these communities and their ties with the former colonial power, France, and with Israel, the Palestinians, Syria and so on?

A: Let me just say that, regardless of what a Lebanese would think of Lebanon as a Nation, whether it was "carved out," "gerrymandered" by the French mandating power, or "rightfully" bequeathed on the deserving Maronites, they came to agree on a Lebanon's "final status" as an Arab country well within its actual boundaries. It took2 major civil conflagrations (1958 and 1975) and many civil skirmishes for the Lebanese to finally come to terms at Taef in 1989. The relationship between the sects of Lebanon remains that between the "dominant," the "newly assertive" and the "intolerably assertive." This relationship will remain precarious as long as Lebanon remains a purely sectarian domain. Cohesion in Lebanon will remain oh so elusive, as long as the opportunistic, highly corrupt and self serving communities' leaders perpetrate this system of sectarian spoils. I would add that many of the leaders of the so called "Cedar Revolution" (a term coined in Washington) are those who took Lebanon to 17 years of civil strife.

Q: The point driven home relentlessly by the Bush administration, and echoed in the U.S. press, is that Syria must get out of Lebanon. Why are 14 or 15,000 Syrian troops in Lebanon, and what do Lebanese in various communities think about their presence?

A: The remaining Syrian troops in Lebanon (out of a 45,000 contingent) were part of a peace keeping force that entered Lebanon at the REQUEST OF THE LEBANESE GOVERNMENT, and ended the civil war in Lebanon. They have since 1990 been gradually diminished by a series of withdrawals. These withdrawals were determined and conducted by joint Lebanese and Syrian authorities, as they fit the needs of both countries. A vociferous minority has always opposed the presence of Syrian forces (making much less of a deal when ISRAEL OCCUPIED parts of Lebanon.) Today, this minority has seen its ranks swell by the joining of a few opportunists who were until YESTERDAY the beneficiaries of Syrian "largesse." They have seen the wagons are circling, and are hoping to live for another day. These are the same warlords, sectarian barons and opportunists who lead us once before to ruin. They have aligned themselves with the sincere "boy scouts," exploiting their grief and concerns. Since day one of his presidency, President Assad has committed himself to withdrawing the troops from Lebanon, and we have since seen a series of withdrawals. The remaining contingent's withdrawal was very much on the table, but it's timing is determined by the leaderships in Beirut and Damascus.

Q: Why do you suppose that France, at loggerheads with the U.S. over the Iraq invasion, cosponsored UN Security Council resolution 1559, implicitly demanding withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon?

A: For France, it was obviously an opportunity to "manage" the crisis with the United States, while recapturing some of the lost luster of their Middle East presence. This comes against a background of lost dominions in Africa, and amid a growing American unilateralism. The US, on the other hand, gained a much needed support, a sort of fence mending, when only yesterday the UN declared the War in Iraq "illegal" and France spearheaded a world opposition to the US adventure in Iraq. However, if one wants to play Devil's advocate, we have to remind ourselves that France's "laundry list" includes only one item: Lebanon, while the US's is wide, complex and subject to "variance."

Q: To some of us, it looks like the U.S. is looking for excuses to produce "regime change" in Damascus, and the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon is just one such excuse. What do you think?

A: I hate to agree here, but the inexplicable and ever increasing animosity towards Syria, is leading many to believe that the "decision to harm" has been taken in the US Administration. It is the US that has suspended ALL SECURITY cooperation as it pertains to the Iraqi theater, even against the advice of the top American brass, preferring to up the tempo on Hezballah (also) to do Israel's bidding. I recall that ONLY TWO YEARS ago, President Chirac of France (from the pulpit of the Lebanese Parliament) lauded the Syrian presence a very positive element, and said that Syrian troops should withdraw only when a comprehensive peace settlement is reached in the area. Basically, you are right, Syrian troops in Lebanon are a multi pronged excuse.

Q: There've been some large demonstrations in Lebanon, well-reported in the U.S. press, demanding a Syrian pullout and a new government. We know that U.S. NGOs and official bodies have been deeply involved in what are depicted as "democratic" upheavals in Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Do you see any foreign hand in these demonstrations?

A: Images of American and French Presidents, Ambassadors and envoys running the full gamut of the so called opposition leaders in Beirut and elsewhere, are pretty reminiscent of the days of China's "privileges and concessions." Listen. Until today, Lebanon remain a country where the fate of the liberties and rights (so dear to the US) fares much BETTER than in any country in the Middle East, Israel included. Such "items" as open economy, women empowerment, freedom of the press ... are leaps and bounds ahead of other Arab countries where cosmetic reforms are sources of praise in Washington. This leads us to one conclusion: The daily harassment is beyond the presence of Syrian troops, beyond civil liberties ... It is the ulterior motives that disturb us.

Q: I believe that the initial Syrian deployment was requested by or welcomed by the Christian community. Is that right?

A: Absolutely. The Christians were on the verge of defeat. Guided by realpolitik and by a belief that any alteration in the fragile Lebanese fabric, would have dire consequences for Lebanon, Syria and the REGION AS A WHOLE, Syrian troops entered Lebanon to correct an aberration. What a few in Lebanon seem to ignore today is that, Syria is not a "waste management" service, and that Syria and its Lebanese allies are seeing and hearing sounds and images reminiscent of 1975.

Q: Why were the Syrians welcomed?

A: The Syrian initial intervention in 1976 was a blessed endeavor by all international and regional powers. It was an Arab and American recognition of Syria's strategic interests As SYRIA PERCEIVES THEM, and later, an acceptance of a Syrian exclusive role when it comes to the safeguard of a cohesive and peaceful Lebanon. The Syrians tried very hard (and to a certain extent, were successful) in stabilizing the war torn country, by preventing the (imminent) military defeat of the so called Christian forces. The preservation of an equilibrium remains a top priority for Syria in Lebanon. However, there are those "opportunists" few who believe that an American Tsunami is overtaking the Region with a strong "neo-conservative anti-Syrian" bias, and who are seeing in this an occasion to turn back the clock.

Q: Can you tell us more about the Israeli involvement in Lebanon, and the current state of relations with your southern neighbor?

A: Israel on the other hand, has always mounted murderous, unprovoked campaigns against Lebanon, culminating in a full scale invasion in 1982. You have to remember that Lebanon still "hosts" over 350,000 Palestinian refugees, adding further tear to the Lebanese social fabric. Our current relations with Israel, is that between an aggressor and aggressed. Israel STILL occupies Lebanese territories in the Shebaa Farms, still performs all types of incursions into Lebanese territory, while its secret services are still hard at work in their attempts to undermine our stability.

Q: What is the general sentiment in Lebanon towards the U.S. at this point?

A: Borrowing from a brilliant Lebanese Journalist, Joseph Samaha who writes in the Lebanese daily As Safir, he likened the attempt to transfer Lebanon from its Camp A (rejecting American hegemony) to Camp B (affiliation with Pax Americana, with ALL ITS ULTERIOR MOTIVES) to "a fast moving river." It would be rather easy to imagine what the folks in Camp A feel towards the US, its disastrous involvement in Iraq and its endemic bias towards Israel in its continued occupation of Arab lands. However, Camp B includes a large majority of sincere (and exploited) "boy scouts," who are unfortunately lexpolited by a horde of highway robbers. Unfortunately, it is mostly in these opportunistic sectarian warlords, that America finds its springboard towards a "new Middle East." The Lebanese in general have never felt enmity towards the United States. However, "weary and distrustful" cannot begin to describe their feelings towards the US's foreign policy. If this is how the US believes it will win "hearts and minds" in our Region, then it better num these minds because it will not find many takers. However, we are still hopeful (no harm here) that saner heads in the US Administration (and they DO EXIST) will prevail. One day.

Q: President Lahoud must be under considerable pressure, represented in the western press as a Syrian puppet at a time when Syria is labeled an "outpost of tyranny." Could you please explain how he himself sees his position?

A: President Lahoud has been a subject for political sniping since his election in 1998, and that for many reasons. Firstly, the President is a staunchly secular man in a country ruled by sectarian warlords. Secondly, the numerous tries to "coopt" the President (when he was Commander of the Armed Forces) have failed miserably. Thirdly, the President remains a most sincere Arab nationalist, at a time when the breed is under siege. Fourthly, the President has hedged his bets and gone out of his way to protect the "national resistance" against Israeli occupation. This culminated in an Israeli withdrawal in 2000'. It should be noted that this was the first time ever, that Israel withdrew from Arab territories "UNDER DURESS." Today, when the "whirling Dervishes" of hegemony have reached an unprecedented tempo, President Lahoud has become enemy number one. He remains a major obstacle to the hegemons designs, hardly a trait of puppets. However, I can say that the shadow puppets of the hegemons are precisely those figures who are calling for his resignation.

Q: The Lebanese Shiite organization Hizbollah is characterized by the U.S. government and corporate press as "terrorist," which is a way of associating it with al-Qaeda. How would you describe that organization, to Americans who don't know much about the Middle East?

A: The US's qualms with Hezbollah are purely a product of bias. This is a political party with the biggest constituency, part and parcel of the Lebanese polity. Characterizing it as "terrorist" is characterizing over 1.8 million Lebanese citizens as "supporters of terrorism." Hezbollah's achieved what ALL OTHER Lebanese parties never tried. It refrained from entering the fray of Lebanon's political stampede, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, it lead to the first Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab lands UNDER DURESS. This, and the fact that Hezbollah has been emblematic of a "culture of resistance" in the Middle East, has never been forgiven.

Q: Some of us who've followed the neocons (top-ranking of whom is perhaps Paul Wolfowitz) think they have a plan to topple, one by one, the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia---not necessarily in that order. Do you, and/or President Lahoud, share that assessment?

A: Incidentally, one of the leaders of the so called "opposition," namely Mr. Walid Jumblat, was not so long ago, if I recall, very vitriolic about Mr. Wolfowitz. With a strike of a magical wand, Mr. Jumblat (still persona non grata in the US) has become Washington's long shot horse. The gods of neo-conservatism move in mysterious ways. But seriously, one does not have to go far back in time to get a glimpse of Washington Hawkish thinking. "Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" dispels any notion that today's US Foreign Policy is NOT guided by those who seek to "solve" Israel's "problems." Basically, this would be achieved by "rolling back ... destabilizing" Israel's threatening neighbors. Closer to home, and after "doing Iraq," it spells the steps for Israel vis-a-vis Syria and Lebanon when it calls upon Israel to seize the "strategic initiative along its borders by engaging Syria Hizballah and Iran." With American presence on Syria's borders in Iraq, Israel hopes that US blood and money would do the trick. As I recall, a great American journalist and patriot told me that when the US boots entered Baghdad, Israel's foreign minister silvan Shalom called him to tell him this was "indeed a glorious day in Israel, because America was ALSO to the east of Israel."

Q: Most Americans don't recall very clearly the Reagan-era intervention of U.S. troops in Lebanon, that led to disaster. Your thoughts on that episode?

A: It took us decades to revive, reunite and solidify our Armed Forces in Lebanon. But one has to remember that in 1984, a nucleic Lebanese Army took the bait of a highly unpopular (American blessed) adventure, and in order to subdue the "Shiites" forces in South Beirut, the Army shelled the suburbs, becoming the SOLE casualty of this American mis-adventure as it splinted along sectarian lines. In a nutshell, we need to remember that the last time "anyone" tried to shove a solution down the throat of the Lebanese, without reaching a National consensus, it lead to disaster. We are seeing such attempts today with the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, and its most DANGEROUS stipulation, namely the disarming of our National Resistance. Needless to say, that the Lebanese are also NOT entirely united on the mechanisms and schedules of a Syrian military withdrawal, as MANY in the so called "opposition" have selectively read the Taef Accords, when in reality it calls for withdrawals to coincide with reforms and the ABOLITION of political sectarianism.

Q: Could you characterize the present relationship between Lebanon, Syria and Iran? Both Lebanon and Syria are secular societies, while Iran is an Islamic republic. What interests do you have in common?

A: With Syria, Lebanon shares a plethora of historical, social, cultural, familial and geographic commonalities. It is certainly a unique relationship. Most Lebanese, few even in the opposition understand these factoids well. However, there are also those emboldened few who found commonalities with the American siege of Syria to implement shortsighted agendas. They believe that once the Tsunami (American) waves have receded, they will go back dividing the sectarian spoils, concluding (perhaps too well) that the US's qualms with Syria have nothing to do with Democracy and Liberty.

Q: Why did Prime Minister Karami resign? Apparently he took even members of his own party by surprise.

A: PM Karami's resignation came rather swiftly, when he was geared to prevail in the vote of Confidence. The PM acted on an impulse, having been subjected to a relentless campaign of vilification since Day 1. In a nutshell, PM Karami became "sensitive" to the fact that PM Hariri's assassination happened during his watch. It was his way in trying to diffuse the volatile situation that arose after the assassination. What is striking here, is the speed of the US response to the PM's resignation. He believes that by qualifying the resignation (within less than an hour) as a "positive" event, shows, without a shred of a doubt that the US is "once again" taking sides in Lebanon.

Q: Israel is attributing the recent suicide bombing in Tel Aviv to Islamic Jihad, and asserting (rightly or wrongly) that since Damascus supports Islamic Jihad, Syria is responsible. If Israel again attacks Syria, as it did in October 2003, how would the Lebanese government and people react?

A: Tel Aviv, will not miss an opportunity to blame any calamity that befalls it on Syria and Hezballah. The sad part is that Israel produces "evidences" that are always "bought" in Washington. Listen, Israel remains the only world occupying force who gets away with murder. Constantly blaming Syria, Hezbollah ... is a sorry attempt by Tel Aviv to shift the blame for its unsuccessful policy of "security first." Basically, one need not be a wizard to determine that a despaired people, a humiliated people a people in CONSTANT MOURNING, will go to any length in extracting vengeance from those who dislocate , humiliate and murder his brethren.

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Shooting Erupts in Beirut Christian Sector
Saturday March 5, 2005

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Gunfire erupted Saturday in Beirut's anti-Syrian Christian sector after pro-Syrian protesters arrived in the area, witnesses said.

Volleys of gunfire were heard shortly after a convoy of cars carrying pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad, which had earlier demonstrated in Muslim south Beirut, headed later to the Christian sector of Ashrafieh, a center of anti-Syrian sentiment.

People in the cars exchanged insults with about a dozen men. Gunmen then opened fire from the cars as they drove around, the witnesses said. There appeared to be no casualties.

Elsewhere in the city, including the main Martyrs' Square, protests for or against Syria continued peacefully amid heavy Lebanese army presence.

Many Lebanese blame Syria for the Feb. 14 assassination of their former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, and and nations around the world have demanded that Syria withdraw its 15,000 troops.

Assad on Saturday announced a two-stage pullback of Syrian forces to the Lebanese border, but failed to address broad international demands that he completely withdraw the troops after nearly 30 years in the country.

Comment: We certainly hope that our readers can now see the real motive for Israel's assasination of Hariri on Feburary 14th 2005. The Lebanese government is made up of three factions - Arab Lebanese nationalists, Arab pro-Syrians and the Israeli-affiliated Maronite Christians. Since the Muslim population of Lebanon surpassed the Christian during the 1960's the Christians have been forced to play second fiddle to a more or less united Arab front. This fact was part of the inspiration for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 which culminated in the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacres under the stewardship of one Ariel Sharon.

The Syrian presence in Lebanon for the past almost 30 years was in response to obvious Israeli designs on the country and an attempt to protect the Arab Lebanese. Now, as a result of the murder of Hariri by Mossad and the subsequent pinning of the blame on Syria, divisions have been fomented in the ranks of the former united Muslim front of Lebanese Nationalists and the Pro-Syrian Lebanese. The natural winner in all of this is both the Lebanese Maronites and their Israeli bosses. It is the basic stategy of 'divide and conquer' that has been used to great effect by imperial powers over the millennia, and which Israeli is attempting to use at the moment in occupied Palestine...

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Militants Clash With Palestinian Police
Friday March 4, 2005
Associated Press Writer

NABLUS, West Bank (AP) - Tensions between Palestinian Authority police and militant groups erupted into violence Friday as Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a police station, sparking a gunfight that left three people wounded.

It was the second serious clash between Palestinian authorities and armed groups this week, underscoring the delicate task that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas faces as he tries to rein in militants and restore law and order in the West Bank.

Abbas has been trying to persuade armed men to lay down their weapons while resisting calls from Israel and the international community for a crackdown. Pressure has increased on the Palestinian leader to take tougher action since a Palestinian suicide bomber from the West Bank killed five Israelis in Tel Aviv last weekend.

The gunmen belonged to al Awda, a small militant group affiliated with Abbas' ruling Fatah party. Representatives of the group said they acted in response to police attempts to arrest one of their members who was driving a stolen car. But a police spokesman said the group was upset that one of its members had been beaten while in police custody.

"We hope that Israeli will withdraw soon from these cities so that we can control security in these cities,'' Abbas said outside his home in Ramallah. "As long as the Israeli army is in the Palestinian West Bank, there will be breeches and we will deal with it.''

Earlier this week, tensions between the Palestinian Authority and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a larger militant group linked with Fatah, sparked a confrontation in the nearby town of Jenin. [...]

Comment: Notice the similarities with the situation in Lebanon. Hariri is murdered and the result is that Arabs fight Arabs. In Palestine, Abbas is pressured to "clamp down on militants" while Israel reneges on its promises and the result is that Palestinians fight with Palestinians.

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Muslims face increased stop and search
Vikram Dodd and Alan Travis
Wednesday March 2, 2005
The Guardian

Hazel Blears, the minister responsible for counter-terrorism, said yesterday that Muslims will have to accept as a "reality" that they will be stopped and searched by the police more often than the rest of the public.

Ms Blears told MPs that "there was no getting away from it", because the terrorist threat came from people "falsely hiding behind Islam".

Her comments, on the day when leading British Muslim groups met to hammer out a strategy on maximising the Islamic vote for the election, provoked immediate condemnation from Islamic leaders.

Massoud Shadjareh, chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "She is demonising and alienating our community. It is a legitimisation for a backlash and for racists to have an onslaught on our community."

The Home Office minister's comments come at an awkward time for the Labour government. It is struggling to pass anti-terrorism legislation through parliament and preparing for a general election where the traditionally loyal Muslim vote is threatening to desert the party.

Ms Blears was speaking at the Commons home affairs committee inquiry into the impact of anti-terrorist measures on community relations.

"If a threat is from a particular place then our action is going to be targeted at that area," she said, adding: "It means that some of our counter-terrorism powers will be disproportionately experienced by the Muslim community."

Statistics showed that of the 17 people found guilty of terrorist acts since 9/11 in the UK, only four of the 12 whose ethnic backgrounds were known were Muslim, Mr Shadjareh said. [...]

Comment: The Neocons must be jumping for joy. In the three short years since 9/11, they have succeeded in transforming the world's one billion Muslims into terrorists in the mind of the average British and American citizen. The most remarkable aspect of this coup is that it was accomplished in the absence of any actual evidence to back it up. The only thing required was that the people place their trust and faith in their lying leaders - media and government propaganda took care of the rest...

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Al-Qaeda 'on streets of Britain'
Saturday, 5 March, 2005

Sir John Stevens, who retired from the Metropolitan Police recently, wrote in the News of the World that the threat of attacks was real.

He urged the government to press on with its controversial anti-terrorist legislation as quickly as possible.

Civil rights groups have criticised the government's plans, calling for an end to detention without trial.

They say the principles of justice and human rights are fundamental to British law and should not be lost.

But Sir John said any delay in enacting the legislation would bring "comfort" to al-Qaeda.

He said there were small networks of militants who had been trained by Osama bin Laden and had "spawned and continue to fester" in British towns and cities.

The Prevention of Terrorism Bill would allow authorities to impose curfews or tag suspects, as well as banning them from using telephones or the internet.

"The main opposition to the Bill, it seems to me, is from people who simply haven't understood the brutal reality of the world we live in and the true horror of the terrorism we face," Sir John wrote.

He said he his hair had been made to "stand on end" reading reports of attacks militants planned to carry out in Britain.

He said the conviction of British-born militants such as Richard Reid and Saajid Badat showed the threat did not just come from overseas.

"The brutal truth is that there are more just like them, as much British citizens as you and I, living here now just waiting to kill and be killed in their awful misguided cause," he wrote.

Comment: Britain's halls of power are, and always have been, populated with pompous asses like "Sir John". A sad fact of our world is that the ignorant and the effluent always rise to the top. We do not doubt that the reality that Sir John inhabits is "brutal", and in more ways than one, but we dispute the idea that all should be forced to share that reality. Sir John is free to choose to be a victim of his obvious ill-breeding and continue to hold his racist beliefs, he should however be denied the right to portray those beliefs as factual or absolute. Sadly, there is little chance that Tony Blair will indulge us and deny Sir John any further public platform. On the contrary, it is people like Sir John and their shameless fear-mongering who will prove instrumental in the inevitable re-election of Blair in the general election in May.

NB. The use of the world 'effluent' above is not a typographical error.

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EU aims to be global military superpower
By Anthony Browne

AMID a trans-Atlantic row over its determination to resume arms sales to China, the European Union has outlined plans to become a military superpower and close the defence technology gap on the US.
The EU would develop unmanned drones, new armoured vehicles and advanced communication systems, the British head of the newly created European Defence Agency said.

EDA chief executive Nick Witney said the 25-nation EU would establish a joint fighter-pilot training program and co-ordinate the testing of military equipment.

The initiatives represent the EU's first step in military research and development.

They are aimed at transforming the EU from being a political power, in charge of policies such as agriculture and trade, to a military one, capable of sending troops around the world to enforce a foreign policy agreed by its member states.

The strategy is controversial. EU members such as Ireland and Sweden fear their traditional neutrality is being threatened, while in Britain there has been concern that the initiative will undermine NATO and its close military relationship with the US.

Moves to turn Europe into a military superpower will also heighten concerns in Washington over the EU's plans to lift a 15-year-old arms embargo on China. US President George W.Bush and congressional leaders from both parties presented a united front yesterday in opposition to the plan for renewed arms sales.

The US Congress has warned it will consider retaliatory trade action against European countries that start selling military technology to China, a move Washington fears would threaten Taiwan and US troops in the region.

Resuming arms sales to China "is a non-starter with Congress", Joseph Biden, senior Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, said after a meeting with Mr Bush.

Republican senator Richard Lugar said that if the embargo were lifted, Congress might impose "a prohibition on a great number of technical skills and materials, or products, being available to Europeans".

Mr Witney explained his plans to boost Europe's "defence, technological and industrial base" by co-ordinating EU members' military activity.

"Europe does not have the defence capabilities that it ought to. I want to see what we can do to get more bang for the buck and I am sure we can go a long way applying all the separate defence lines across Europe more coherently," he said.

Concern about Europe's military weakness came to the fore in the 1990s when it was unable to prevent civil war in the Balkans. Since then, the EU has been developing a common foreign policy and has set up the EDA to increase its military power.

Mr Witney said Europe's armies, as well as being fragmented, had failed to move "to the information age" of warfare.

"Is it really useful that we spend money in Europe maintaining in service 11,000 main battle tanks? Just what do we think we are going to do with those?" he said. "Would it not be better to concentrate on more modern technologies such as communication?"

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GOP pedophilia and S&M trysts: A long history going back to Bush 41 and Reagan
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

March 3, 2005—The recent scandal involving gay male escort and right-wing faux journalist Jeff Gannon (a.k.a. James Dale Guckert and possibly a few other aliases) is not welcome news for the purported sadomasochistic hedonists in the White House administrations of both George W. and George H. W. Bush.

As with their fascist fellow travelers in Hitler's Germany, Franco's Spain, and "The Colonels'" Greece, many of the fascists associated with the Bush family have a predilection for sex with children and young recruits within the U.S. military. However, since the 1980s, the Bush cabal has been able to keep the GOP's dark secrets away from the disinfectant of sunshine and media attention.

Except for the outbreak of news stories concerning the Franklin Credit Union-Lawrence King-Craig Spence child prostitution scandal in 1989 that involved midnight tours of the White House for underage male sex slaves from Nebraska and reached high into the upper echelons of the elder Bush administration, little has been heard about the sex crimes of top Republicans. That is, until it was revealed that "Jeff Gannon" was intricately tied to GOP operatives ranging from George W. Bush political "Svengali" Karl Rove, to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and Texas GOP provocateur Bobby Eberle. In typical Bush scandal fashion, Eberle's "Talon News Service" has disappeared as fast as Jeff Gannon from the James Brady Briefing Room and Doug Wead's secret tapes of Bush from the public ear—tapes that, at the very least, indicated Bush's prior use of marijuana, cocaine, and LSD.

As this writer has previously reported, during the early 1980s, a number of naval officers were implicated in a child pornography ring that extended from Oregon to the San Francisco Bay area and to Chicago and Washington, DC. The story about that ring was covered up by then-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman who engaged in similar cover-ups of the Navy's "Tailhook" scandal involving the sexual assault by naval aviators of women, including at least one underage teen, and the gun turret explosion on the USS Iowa, originally and erroneously blamed by Navy investigators on a despondent gay sailor. The GOP appointed Lehman to the 9-11 Commission, which issued a final report that many victims' families and investigators determined was a whitewash.

The fact that Gannon/Guckert, a male escort who adopted a military theme for his clientele, was made privy to classified information involving CIA covert agent Valerie Plame and her husband's (former Ambassador Joseph Wilson) trip to Niger to investigate possible uranium shipments, has a precedent with prior GOP illegal sexcapades involving national security breaches. The Franklin pedophile cover-up was mirrored by the Navy pedophile affair that also breached national security during the height of the Cold War. The cover-up of the pedophile ring involving senior naval personnel ran right up the chain-of-command to the Pentagon offices of then-Secretary of the Navy Lehman, Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle, and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and the White House offices of Vice President George H. W. Bush, and Reagan Chief of Staff and close Bush confidant James Baker III.

As someone intimately involved in the investigation of the Navy case and as a victim of the cover-up, this reporter is publishing for the first time correspondence and documents on the Navy affair so that the current Bush sex scandal, "Gannongate," does not go the way of the Nebraska/Washington, DC, Navy, and Abu Ghraib/Guantanamo scandals. (One note of interest: the "X" in the Case Control Number 718XNA refers to the FBI's cross referencing file numbering system. The "X" means that the case is a "X" case–meaning that the case is of extreme sensitivity, the "NA" following the "X" refers to the Navy. There are, in fact, "X Files," but they have nothing to do with aliens but very much to do with high-level government officials engaged in off-the-wall activities, like pedophilia and prostitution).

Comment: For a look at the documents in question see the original article here. To watch a two-part video on the Franklin affair which implicates US government officials in child prostituion see this link.

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Iran threat: Attack by West risks all 'Middle East oil'
Thursday, March 3, 2005

Iran has warned that Gulf Arab oil would be endangered by any U.S. attack on the Islamic republic.

In the first such threat, a leading Iranian official raised the prospect of Iranian retaliation against Middle East oil exports. The official said such Gulf oil states as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could be threatened, Middle East Newsline reported.

"An attack on Iran will be tantamount to endangering Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and – in a word – the entire Middle East oil," Iranian Expediency Council secretary Mohsen Rezai said on Tuesday.

About 40 percent of the world's crude oil shipments passes through the two-mile wide channel of the strategic Straits of Hormuz. Iranian forces are deployed at the head of the channel. Oman and the United Arab Emirates are located on the other side.

Teheran could easily block the Straits of Hormuz and use its missiles to strike tankers and GCC oil facilities, according to the new edition of Within weeks, the rest of the world would be starving for oil and the global economy could be in danger.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that oil tanker traffic through the Straits of Hormuz will rise to about 60 percent of global oil exports by 2025.

Rezai, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and a candidate for president, told the Fars News Agency that any Western attack on Iran would send oil prices rocketing to $70 per barrel.

He said such a significant increase in oil prices would also be sparked by international sanctions on Teheran.

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Signs Economic Commentary
Donald Hunt
March 6, 2005

The dollar closed at .7553 euros (1.3239 dollars per euro) up very slightly (0.03%) from last week's .7551 (1.3243). Oil closed at $53.78 (40.62 euros) on Friday, up 4.4% from last week's close of $51.49 (38.88 euros) . Gold closed at $435.30 an ounce (328.78 euros), down a dollar (0.23%) from last Friday's 436.30 (329.45 euros last week). An ounce of gold would buy 8.09 barrels of oil, down 4.7% from last week's 8.47, coninuing the trend of steeper oil price increases than gold price increases. The Dow closed at 10,940.55 (up 0.9% from last week's 10,841.75), setting a post 9/11 high. The NASDAQ closed at 2070.61, up 0.25% from last week's 2065.40. The ten-year US Treasury bond closed at 4.31% up significanly from last week's 4.26% and 4.13% a month ago.

The pattern we mentioned last week held for this week as well. Bad economic news mid-week followed by some good news on Friday to send everyone into the weekend optimistic. The good news on Friday is usually some report about growth or job creation that could be released any day of the week while the bad news come from serious long-term trends and world events. This week the good news was a jobs report leading to a rise in the US stock market. The bad news came from sharply rising oil prices, and from continuing nervousness about the deficits. The problem for optimists (bulls) is that all the good news comes from what happened in the near past and the bad news are usually things which portent a bad future.

A good example of the bad news portending poorly for the future is the news on US personal income and housing starts. That news came out early in the week, of course. Here is a AP wire service article from Monday, the 28th:

Personal Incomes See Biggest Dip in Decade


WASHINGTON - Personal incomes which had been bolstered by a large stock dividend payment in December plunged 2.3 percent in January, the sharpest decline in more than a decade. Consumer spending was flat, the government reported Monday.

The Commerce Department said the sharp January drop in incomes followed a record 3.7 percent jump in incomes in December with both months heavily influenced by a $3 per share dividend payment that computer software giant Microsoft made on Dec. 2.

Meanwhile, the number of new single-family homes sold in January fell 9.2 percent, the agency said in a second report.

The worse-than-expected performance pushed new home sales down to 1.11 million units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in January compared to a revised December rate of 1.22 million units. Last week, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes and condominiums had fallen as well in January, dipping a slight 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.8 million units.

Both sales of new and existing homes set all-time highs in 2004 for the fourth consecutive year. But economists are forecasting a retreat from those highs this year as mortgage rates are expected to start rising.

[...] Economists are looking for both overall economic growth and consumer spending to slow a bit this year as continued interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve dampen consumer demand. The Fed hiked interest rates for a sixth time in early February and a seventh quarter-point increase is expected when Fed policy-makers next meet on March 22.

The report on new home sales showed weakness in every part of the country except the West, where sales rose by 5.6 percent to an annual rate of 338,000 units.

The biggest decline was a record 40.3 percent plunge in the Midwest where sales dropped to an annual rate of 145,000 units. Sales fell 17.1 percent in the Northeast to an annual rate of 63,000 units and were down 3.3 percent in the South to a rate of 560,000 units.

The drop in new home sales was accompanied by a fall in prices. The median new home price — the point where half the homes sold for more and half for less — was $199,400 in January, down 13.2 percent from a median sales price of $229,700 in December. It was the lowest new home price since a median of $196,000 in December 2003.

Two things of note here. When you combine lower incomes for consumers with higher interest rates, there is trouble ahead. Also, the drop in new house sales might be a signal that the housing bubble will burst. Here is what Michael Kinsley said about that this week in the Los Angeles Times:

Top of the Market, Ma!

Michael Kinsley
February 27, 2005


That is the sound of the real estate bubble bursting. And it's a good thing. It is obvious to me that today's real estate prices are a speculative bubble that is about to burst. Of course, this has been obvious to me for about three decades, and I've been wrong almost all of that time. Nevertheless.

One piece of evidence is the Dinner Party Index. The boom is over when more people are bored by real estate anecdotes ("My next-door neighbor got three times her asking price before she even put it on the market, from a professional mind reader who divined that she might sell … ") than have got new ones.

Another reason the value of your house is about to plunge is that the L.A. Times, the New York Times and the Washington Post all say that it isn't. A recent L.A. Times article reported that the median price of a local house had gone up only 17% in the last year. Headline: "L.A. County Home Prices Cool Slightly." Subhead: "Slowdown may not last." To describe a 17% annual increase as a "slowdown" assumes that gains of 20% or more are the norm. And the evidence for "may not last" comes from realtors whistling in the dark.

You've got a bubble when today's prices assume large future increases. If you think prices will be 20% higher in a year, you'll be willing to pay 19% more today. But if others share that assumption, today's price will already be 19% higher. Betting on future appreciation makes sense only if you are even more optimistic than other buyers. Right now, that is hard to be.

In Washington, where house prices have doubled over five years, the Post says, "Experts Predict Steady Gains in 2005, but More Moderate Than in Past Years." But whatever "experts" say, it is not the nature of price explosions to segue gracefully into more moderate growth. When today's run-ups are based on beliefs about tomorrow's run-ups, the self-feeding frenzy goes into reverse when those assumptions are dashed.

The New York Times also must be talking to experts. "In Housing Sales, Frenzy Is Giving Way to Balance," it says. And it reports from suburban Westchester County that "Housing Market Is Still Going Strong." In 2004, the median sales price rose from $564,000 to $645,000. "More and more families are seeing the residential real estate market as the best and safest place for their money," a realtor says. And the article adds chirpily, "Even the ongoing problem of a lack of houses for sale in Westchester eased somewhat last year." Like a roller coaster, a financial bubble has a moment of eerie stillness at the top. Buyers have adjusted, sellers haven't. So sales dry up. When the New York Times spins a surplus of unsold houses as a sign that "the ongoing problem of a lack of houses for sale" has been solved, it means that you had better not count on the New York Times to tell you when it's time to bail.

Let's step back a moment. All the housing in the U.S. is worth about $14 trillion. If the value of existing housing (not counting new construction) goes up 7% this year, which is the recent national average, homeowners will seem to be about $1 trillion richer. But will the nation be $1 trillion richer? No. These are the same houses, in the same place. That trillion comes partly from non-homeowners, who must pay more to buy in. And it is partly illusory. If many current homeowners tried to cash in, the drop in prices would quickly wipe out that trillion.

When the price of something goes up, two things happen: The economy starts to produce more of it, and existing units are worth more. For most of what we buy, the first effect overwhelms the second, and constrains it. An increase in the price of a can of tuna does not produce many self-satisfied anecdotes from people who have a third of their net worth locked into Chicken of the Sea. But real estate is different, mainly because it requires land. As the cliche goes, they're not making any more of it.

Perusing the real estate ads like pornography and imagining what our houses are worth is the great American pastime. But a crash, if it comes, would have some advantages. The 19th century political economist Henry George explained how rising real estate values harm the economy by operating as a tax on both labor and capital.

When the price of labor goes up, people work harder. When the price of capital goes up, people save more. Both make the country richer. But when the price of land goes up, it just makes the owner richer. There are all sorts of qualifications. But the basic point is a good one.

People do foolish things under the impression they are getting richer because their houses are worth more. They save less, they spend more. Egged on by TV commercials, they "consolidate their debts" (i.e., buy a new boat) with a second mortgage.

And who really gains from soaring house prices? First-time buyers don't. Nor does anyone who plans ever to trade up. The only beneficiaries are those who are selling their last house, after a lifetime of appreciation. The bigger the house, the bigger the windfall. This is yet another thank-you from America to the so-called Greatest Generation. I'm not sure it's necessary.

And I'm not sure it will continue. In fact, I'm pretty sure it won't. So I'm going to sell my house right now, before it's too late. Right?

Are you kidding?

Another troubling sign in the US housing market is the large presence of speculative investors. According to the Chicago Tribune,

Real estate speculators are buying at a pace that far exceeds previous estimates of their influence on the housing market, according to a first-of-its kind report the National Association of Realtors released this week.

Collectively, investors and second-home buyers bought more than one of every three homes sold in last year's record market, the report said.

"I am astonished," said David Lereah, the association's chief economist. He said the data suggest a sea change in the role of real estate in the nation's economy.

"What we're seeing is that real estate is no longer just a place to live. It's a viable alternative to stocks and bonds," Lereah said. "Sept. 11 changed real estate forever, the way people look at it. They're nervous about stocks and bonds and they're placing money in real estate, which has proven to be a stable and wealth-building asset."

The report, based on two surveys, found that investors accounted for 23 percent of the nation's 2004 home sale transactions and second-home buyers made an additional 13 percent of all sales transactions. Previous estimates gleaned from other databases had suggested that 8.5 percent of all 2004 sales transactions were investments.

The report said that sales activity surged last year. Investor activity was 14 percent higher than in 2003, and second-home purchases topped the preceding year by nearly 20 percent.

Federal Reserve officials and other economists have expressed concern that scorching-hot investor activity in certain markets may be inflating home-appreciation rates artificially, which could lead to collapsing prices.

Fiserv CSW, a Cambridge, Mass., firm that tracks price appreciation, calculates that national home values, adjusted for inflation, have appreciated about 40 percent since 1995, and some metro areas, such as San Diego, are up as much as 160 percent.

[...] "It's kind of alarming," said Stiff. "I presume investor activity is concentrated in some metropolitan areas, such as southern California, Florida, Las Vegas and Phoenix. But even I am surprised that it's that high.

"It's at the end of a housing cycle that you start to see people investing irrationally," Stiff said. He singled out increasingly widespread reports about homeowners cashing out equity in their principal residences to invest in properties around the country.

"If anything is a sign of a price bubble, that is it."

All these micro- and macroeconomic factors would be disturbing enough without viewing them in the larger geopolitical context. Here, of course, is where things get really scary. A former Treasury official in the Reagan administration who worked for the Wall Street Journal and The National Review (no leftie, therefore), Paul Craig Roberts wrote the following in an article entitled, “The Last Waltz? The Coming End of the American Superpower”:

The US economy is headed toward crisis, and the political leadership of the country--if it can be called leadership--is preoccupied with nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

The US economy is failing. The afflictions are serious. They could be fatal even if diagnosed and treated. America is losing the purchasing power of its currency and its ability to create middle class jobs.

The dollar's sharp decline and projections of continuing trade and budgetary red ink are undermining the dollar's role as reserve currency. A number of central banks have announced that they will be diversifying their currency holdings and will not be buying dollars at the same rate as in the past.

This will put more pressure on the dollar. At some point the flight will begin. Instead of buying fewer dollars, central banks will sell dollars hoping to get out before the dollar hits bottom.

Suddenly, the advantage of being the reserve currency becomes a nightmare as the world's accumulations of dollars are brought to market. An enormous supply and weak demand mean a very low exchange rate for the once almighty US dollar.

Overnight those cheap goods in Wal-Mart, which are the no-think economist's facile justification for Wal-Mart's decimation of communities, small businesses and employment, shoot up in price.

Interest rates will escalate as the government struggles to finance its endless red ink. Heavily indebted Americans with adjustable rate mortgages will attempt to sell homes just as rising mortgage rates reduce buyers. Real estate assets, the rising value of which have been keeping the economy going, will give back gains.

The US has lost its ability to create middle class jobs or for that matter any jobs. During the last four years the US has experienced a net loss of 760,000 private sector jobs (January 2001 - January 2005). Think what this means for graduating classes and people coming of age to enter the work force.

Moreover, the composition of jobs has changed away from high-value-added, high-productivity jobs in tradable goods and services toward lower productivity domestic service jobs that cannot be outsourced.

Even here in this last remaining area of employment for Americans, the US work force is losing job opportunities to foreign nurses and school teachers brought in on H-1b work visas as a result of budgetary pressures on local school budgets and hospitals.

No-think economists and politicians continue to propose unemployment insurance and education as remedies for the jobs problem. These proposals are mindless to say the least. The same incentive to outsource holds for all tradable skills. If truth be known, job outsourcing and offshore production sound the death bell for US higher education.

Americans unable to find jobs in export and import-competitive sectors find themselves searching for jobs in nontradable domestic services, where their inflow into those labor markets is augmented by illegal immigrants and foreigners on H-1b visas. Obviously, the pressure on wages is downward.

[...] Oblivious to reality, the Bush administration has proposed a Social Security privatization that will cost $4.5 trillion in borrowing over the next 10 years alone! America has no domestic savings to absorb this debt, and foreigners will not lend such enormous sums to a country with a collapsing currency--especially a country mired in a Middle East war running up hundreds of billions of dollars in war debt.

A venal and self-important Washington establishment combined with a globalized corporate mentality have brought an end to America's rising living standards. America's days as a superpower are rapidly coming to an end. Isolated by the nationalistic unilateralism of the neoconservatives who control the Bush administration, the US can expect no sympathy or help from former allies and rising new powers.

The United States is losing control of its economic future to Asia, and, nationalism aside, that may not be a bad thing. According to an analyst on Bloomberg, “These days, markets react more to rumors about Asian central banks selling U.S. debt than what Greenspan says about the economy.”

Alan Greenspan's predecessor as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Paul Volcker said recently:

Below the favourable surface [of the economy], there are as dangerous and intractable circumstances as I can remember.... Nothing in our experience is comparable…But no one is willing to understand [this] and do anything about it… We are consuming… about six per cent more than we are producing. What holds the world together is a massive flow of capital from abroad… it's what feeds our consumption binge... the United States economy is growing on the savings of the poor… A big adjustment will inevitably become necessary, long before the social security surpluses disappear and the deficit explodes…We are skating on increasingly thin ice.

Marshall Auerback commented on that quote by spelling out how we are headed for something on the magnitude of the Great Depression:

At the time of the 1929 stock market crash, total US credit was 176 percent of Gross Domestic Product. In 1933 with GDP imploding and the real value of debt rising even faster, total credit rose to 287 percent of what was left of GDP…. In 2000 at the top of the late bull market, total credit was 269 percent of GDP. An extraordinary statistic to be sure, but dwarfed by today's figure, in which total credit stands at a whopping 304 percent of GDP…The obvious answer in such circumstances would be to restrain US consumption. But were Americans to begin to significantly pare their debt burdens, aggregate demand would likely collapse and trigger something not unlike the 1930s.

It may well be that people are starting to connect these dots. George Bush has had such a hard time selling the public on privatizing Social Security that even Republicans are trying to back off the plan. Bush, of course, will not back off but is intensifying his efforts to sell the plan, even to the point of setting up a “war room.” This shows the importance his administration places on this. The reason is two-fold. First, the Wall Street investment firms stand to make billions on fees for the private accounts. Second, and perhaps more important, the Bush administration follows a consistent policy of transferring government liabilities to the public, in order to free up government funds for militarization. The empire is starting to slip away from them and they are feeling desperate. Will the people wake up in time and put the top officials of the Bush administration on trial for treason and war crimes, or will another conveniently-timed terrorist event make people forget the crimes and support further crackdowns and wars? For now, since it has been over three years since 9/11, the people may be getting restless. Here is an account by Joseph Kay of a meeting with constituents held in Southfield, Michigan by the Democratic congressman, Sander Levin where the congressman was startled by the intensity of the anger against Bush:

Throughout the country, Congressmen from both the Republican and Democratic parties are holding “town hall” meetings on the Bush administration's plans for the introduction of individual private accounts to replace government-guaranteed Social Security pensions. The meetings—even those held by Republican politicians—have generally been an occasion for the venting of popular opposition to the reform of Social Security, the linchpin of the limited welfare system in the United States.

What was most noteworthy about the meeting held by Representative Sander Levin on February 24 was the contrast between, on the one hand, the deep hostility and concern about plans for Social Security reform coming from the audience and, on the other hand, the attitude of the Michigan Democrat. Levin, who is the leading Democrat on the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, was more concerned about the possibility that the discussion might get out of hand—transcending the narrow boundaries in which he sought to contain it—than he was about the attack on pensions in the US.

[...] Many of those who asked questions or made comments voiced a desire to find some way to fight against the attacks, not only on Social Security, but all the policies of the Bush administration. One older woman worker declared, “Maybe what we need to do is converge en masse on Washington” to demand that Social Security be preserved. The Republicans, she said, were determined to destroy social programs in the US. “They have a plan in place.... If we lose Social Security, we'll return to what it was like during the depression, with people jumping off bridges because they have nothing to live on. People like the wealthy Republicans, the Bushes, they don't care” about us.

Others voiced similar conceptions, and the audience responded strongly to anyone who voiced such feelings. One individual declared, “We need to investigate Bush as a criminal.” There was clearly a social character to the anger expressed by many participants. The opposition to Social Security reform is part of a broader opposition to what is seen as a right-wing policy of the rich to loot what is owed to working people and the poor.

[...] Though many in attendance certainly had illusions that the Democratic Party would defend Social Security, some voiced a concern that the Democrats would not put up a fight on the issue. One audience member said, “Republicans are going to push, and the Democrats are going to fall all over themselves and compromise. This is the time for Democrats to go on the offensive.”

An elderly worker said, “Social Security was created for a purpose: for people who didn't have jobs, for poor people. When you worked and [the companies] didn't want to pay for [your retirement] you had something to count on. Why do you [Levin] let the Republicans steal our money?”

Levin's response to all of these comments was an attempt to diffuse the hostility and evade answering any challenge voiced against the right-wing policies of the Democratic Party. In response to any strong statement made by a member of the audience, he urged repeatedly that the meeting not be turned into a “political rally.” He said that he wanted “to have an intensive, thoughtful discussion. This is not a conspiracy [against Social Security]. It is a difference of opinion.” Levin never once suggested that the attack on Social Security was motivated by the interests of corporations or the wealthy.

It was clear that Levin was not prepared to “go on the offensive.” The last thing that the Democrats want is the mobilization of mass opposition to the policies of the Bush administration. There is no doubt that Levin and the rest of the Democrats will prepare a compromise with the Republicans to avoid this.

Equally significant was Levin's repeated insistence that the war in Iraq not be a subject for discussion at the meeting; that it was completely separate from the question of the privatization of Social Security. This conflicted with the desire of many in the audience to discuss the issue.

One woman, who said she was 60 years old, declared, “I don't trust anyone [in the government].” Addressing not Levin, but the audience, she said, “I say no to the billions of dollars spent on the war in Iraq. What do you say?” The response was a unanimous and emphatic, “No!”

Levin insisted that the discussion not touch on Iraq because he is well aware of the enormous hostility to the war within his own constituency, a hostility that finds no expression in the Democratic Party. If Levin were to respond truthfully to the woman's question, he would have to reply with an equally emphatic, “Yes!” Levin voted for the October 2003 bill that granted $87.5 billion for emergency spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also voted for the $418 billion defense spending authorization bill passed in June 2004.

In their support for the war, the Democrats expose the worthlessness of any promise they might make to defend Social Security. The innumerable wars launched and planned by the American government, the growing attack on democratic rights and the assault on Social Security and other programs that help ordinary Americans are part of a single policy. The attack on social programs is mandated by the need to force working people to pay for the wars planned and executed in the interest of the American ruling elite. It is impossible to oppose these attacks while supporting the war.

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Microsoft Robots To Watch Children Showcased
ABC News
REDMOND, Wash. Mar 2, 2005

The teddy bear sitting in the corner of the child's room might look normal, until his head starts following the kid around using a face recognition program, perhaps also allowing a parent talk to the child through a special phone, or monitor the child via a camera and wireless Internet connection.

The plush prototype, on display at Microsoft Corp.'s annual gadget showcase Wednesday, is one of several ideas researchers have for robots. The idea is to create a virtual being that can visit the neighboring cubicle for a live telephone chat even as its owner is traveling thousands of miles away, or let the plumber into the house while its owner enjoys a pleasant afternoon in the sun.

Plenty of companies are already building robots for the work place, and toy companies have created plush dolls that know a child's name or can incorporate other personal information. But Steven Bathiche, a research and development program manager with Redmond-based Microsoft, said his company's projects go further.

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Protest over US biodefence boom
Wednesday, 2 March, 2005
By Paul Rincon
BBC News science reporter

Over 700 top US scientists have protested at the massive funds being ploughed into studying the handful of organisms considered bioterror threats.

A letter signed by the experts suggests current funding patterns undermine public health and national interests.

This is because research funds are being diverted away from germs that are already important causes of disease. [...]

Comment: It seems that the powers that be are less concerned with present diseases and viruses and more concerned with the development of new and ever more deadly biological weapons...but for what reason. Given the monopoly that governments, particularly Western governments, have on the development and research into biological weapons, it is certainly unlikely that any mythical "Arab terrorist group" could get access to the level of resources and knowledge that would be required to unleash a large scale biological attack on the world. The type of resources and knowledge that is the domain of a large state apparatus. Of course, the reality of just how difficult and involved it is to mount a biological attack is simplified in the extreme for the benefit of public consumption and the promotion of the "terrorist threat".

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Huge quake hit U.S. in 1700 - Seattle Area "A Geological Train Wreck" Waiting To Happen
Smithsonian magazine
March 6, 2005

In a remarkable feat of modern geoscience, researchers have pinpointed the date, hour and size of a past earthquake that left "ghost forests," still remaining in parts of the U.S. West Coast.

Though clearly written in the earth, no written records of this cataclysm exist in North America.

However, in Japan, officials had recorded a tsunami, with waves up to 10 feet high along 600 miles of the Honshu coast, at midnight Jan. 27, 1700.

By estimating the tsunami's speed, path and other properties, researchers concluded that it was caused by a magnitude 9 earthquake that warped the seafloor off the Washington coast at 9 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Jan. 26, 1700. The age of cedar tree remains from the ghost forests have confirmed this finding.

Until recently, much of modern earthquake theory was based on the idea that intervals between quakes were fairly regular. Experience shows that this is not the case.

Three hundred years of tectonic pressure has now built up since the 1700 tsunami occurred.

A recent study estimates that 10 million people on the U.S. West Coast would be affected by a Cascadia subduction-zone quake. Today, the shaking from a quake of the same magnitude would damage 200 highway bridges, put Pacific ports out of business for months, and generate shock waves capable of toppling tall buildings and long bridges in Seattle and Portland.

In any event, Seattle is one of the world's worst places for an earthquake. Part of the city sits on a soft basin of poorly consolidated sedimentary rocks, which could easily become unstable in a shock. Adding to the problem, the city's harbor sits on mud flats, which can liquefy if shocked.

"My colleagues and I describe this region as a geological train wreck," says USGS geologist Ray Wells.

As a warning system, the U.S. government has set out Pacific Ocean monitors to pick up signals from known danger spots, not only in the Pacific Northwest, but in Japan, Russia, Chile and Alaska.

This system is designed to transmit warnings to countries across the basin within minutes. Similar networks are planned for the Atlantic and Indian ocean

Comment: Given that the US (and other) governments were well aware IN ADVANCE that the December 2004 Asian earthquake would cause such widespread destruction and death, can any of us feel confident that the US government would warn its own citizens of impending doom if there were some political capital to be gained from a natural disaster?

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Chiang Mai governor quashes earthquake rumours

CHIANG MAI, Mar 7 (TNA) - The governor of Thailand's northern city of Chiang Mai this morning rushed to reassure the public, amid widespread panic over rumours that the northern province was about to experience an earthquake on 12 March.

The rumours, which have been circulating for the past couple of days, have put so much fear into some Chiang Mai residents that a number have even moved out of tall buildings in the city centre.

According to the owner of one Chiang Mai condominium, foreign residents there are confused and afraid that remaining in any tall building will not be safe.

But Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantiphat today urged the public not to panic over what he insisted were mere rumours, saying that the local authorities would issue a warning should an earthquake really occur.

While noting the necessity of being prepared for an earthquake, he stressed that the reports of an earthquake on 12 March were false.

Confirming the falsity of the reports, Mr. Adisorn Fungkachorn, head of the Chiang Mai earthquake monitoring centre, noted that even the most modern technology could not predict earthquakes in advance.

Comment: Hmmm...

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Scientist foresaw Sumatran quake
By Kimm Groshong , Staff Writer

Research showed area was ripe for temblor

PASADENA -- When the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and resultant tsunami devastated Sumatra and much of the Bay of Bengal on Dec. 26, Kerry Sieh's premonition became a nightmarish reality.

The Caltech geology professor had studied the history of giant earthquakes just south of the epicenter for about a decade and knew full well the damage such a major quake in that part of the world could inflict.

He had tried to get the word out that such an event was imminent. Now that hundreds of thousands have died, people are listening.

Sieh says people in Sumatra's other big cities know what happened in Aceh: "They're terrified. But they don't know what to do.'

Sieh's heightened desire to protect human lives, keen eye for detail and appreciation for what the historical record can foretell make him a unique geologist.

"He feels very passionately about using the science he does to protect people from earthquake hazards,' said Ken Farley, the chair of Caltech's division of geological and planetary sciences.

While Farley said much geological work is justified as earthquake hazard assessment, he said the priority Sieh places on others' safety makes him unusual.

By last summer, Sieh's concern that a major earthquake would hit off the coast of Sumatra had reached a level that prompted him to use some of his research funds to produce and distribute pamphlets and posters on the islands describing the threat along the subduction zone.

Sieh and his team had determined by slicing into corals, and reading the natural record of water level they preserve, that giant earthquakes along the zone to the south recur about once every 200 years. The last major earthquake to hit offshore of central Sumatra occurred in 1833, was about magnitude 8.7 and produced large tsunamis.

Comment: Indeed, the historical record can help us predict many things, which is one of the reasons that history and science must be controlled and kept separate at all costs. God forbid that someone would carry out an indepth detailed study of REAL history which provides clear evidence that the earth undergoes cyclical catastrophes.

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Quake Rattles Romania, No Injuries

A moderate earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 on the Richter shook Romania's mountainous area of Vrancea, home to a major fault line that has seen dozens of quakes in recent years.

The quake was centered 175 miles northwest of Bucharest, Romania's Earth Physics Institute said.

Authorities said there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

In 1977, a 7.6-magnitude quake killed more than 1,000 people in the Vrancea area when dozens of buildings collapsed. In October last year the region was rocked by a 5.8 earthquake, but caused no injuries.

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Earthquake wakes up Granite Falls
Monday, March 7, 2005
Herald staff

A mild earthquake woke residents in the Granite Falls area early Sunday, but no damage was reported, a fire department officer said.

"It just woke me up, that's it," said Lt. Eric Cole of Snohomish County Fire District 17.

The 3.5 magnitude earthquake occurred at 5:20 a.m., according to the University of Washington Seismology Lab. It was centered eight miles southeast of Granite Falls and 14 miles east-northeast of Snohomish, and struck about eight miles below the surface.

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Japan scans skies for alien life

Two Japanese observatories have started a probe to find signs of extraterrestrial life using radio and optical telescopes, in Japan's first government-backed search for aliens.

"I don't think it would be any wonder if life like us exists somewhere else as space is vast," Mitsumi Fujishita, radioastronomy professor at Kyushu Tokai University, said.

The five-day search is being done jointly at the Nishi-Harima Astronomical Observatory, and the state-run Mizusawa Astrogeodynamics Observatory in northern Japan.

The researchers say there have been earlier Japanese efforts to detect signs of aliens but this is the first such search involving a state-run organisation.

The Mizusawa observatory is using a radio telescope with a diameter of 10 metres to try to find radio waves.

Rhe Nishi-Harima observatory, with a two-metre reflector telescope, aims to detect light.

They will focus on the area near the Hydra constellation where a US researcher detected radio waves in 1988.

Another researcher says it "will be very difficult to find signs as we don't know which radio waves would come at what time or from where."

"Even if they cannot detect anything, however, it is important to find out what it (the lack of detection) means scientifically," he said.

Japan is drafting an ambitious space program, with a goal of a manned station on the moon by 2025, after successfully sending into space a satellite last Saturday.

The launch came 15 months after a similar unmanned launch failed disastrously.

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