Thursday, March 10, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
Signs Logo
Printer Friendly Version
Fixed link to latest Page

P I C T U R E   O F   T H E   D A Y

Did Neanderthals Lie?

Flashback: Politicians Lie, They Admit -- For a Host of Reasons

2003 Newhouse News Service

WASHINGTON -- More than 227 years into their democracy, Americans have come to distrust their political leaders and suspect them of lying a lot.

Some politicians say the public is dead right.

There are many explanations for all the lying, ranging from naked self-interest to a philosophical line of reasoning that some degree of deception is essential to effective leadership, according to scholars of political science and some of its practitioners.

"At an individual weakness level, politicians too frequently fall victim to a desire to please, and therefore they outline contrary positions to differing sides, and it is out of this dynamic that most truth-saying problems arise," said Rep. James A. Leach, R-Iowa, who has served in Congress for 27 years. "Lying and its first cousin, 'spinning,' are easily rationalized when power is at stake and personal careers are in jeopardy."

Democrats and Republicans alike tend to oversimplify complicated realities, and that, too, is a form of deceit, said Rep. Robert Matsui, D-Calif., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

"It's easier to talk in absolutes than with ambiguity," Matsui said. "I think it goes on now more than it has in the past. Politicians now do it without any embarrassment. They believe it's justified. People want you to be firm."

Distortion is rewarded.

"If you are very provocative, you are more likely to be called to go on these TV shows and you get more attention," Matsui said.

Most political lying is about policy issues.

"Politicians regularly describe their positions as matters of principle when they are actually concessions to special interest pressures," said Tim Penny, a former Democratic representative from Minnesota with a wide reputation as a straight-shooter.

Politicians also lie "because we want them to," Penny said. "We say we don't want politicians to mislead us, but we really don't want to hear the truth. If they speak the truth, they will be punished more often than not."

Sometimes politicians lie unconsciously, said former House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-Texas, who admits that enthusiasm, momentum and partisan zeal occasionally led him over the borderline of truth.

"I've studied this business of lying for years," Armey told a group of reporters at a breakfast shortly before he retired from Congress last year. "The best liars are the guys who convince themselves before they try to convince somebody else."

There is even scientific evidence correlating deceptive behavior with leadership qualities. A 1993 study by Colgate University psychologists found that the best liars among preschool children emerge as leaders during play periods.

Caroline F. Keating, who helped design and conduct the research, also studied adults and came to the conclusion that "leaders are the best misleaders."

Keating found that "very young children successfully masked their deception by smiling. Successful adult deceivers made eye contact with the listener."

"To be an effective leader does take acting skills," she said in an interview. "You have to look confident even when you feel unsure. You must look like you feel well even when you may be sick. You must express emotions that are powerful, like anger and defiance, even when you are anxious."

Citizens' expectations of their leaders thus add to the problem.

"We want them to look smart and strong, so a successful leader becomes very good at feigning those things even when he or she does not feel them," Keating said. "It makes them powerful and effective communicators."

So politicians lie by overpromising, to gain or keep power, to protect personal secrets and, often, to serve what they consider higher purposes, like national security or the common good.

Political leaders also represent a society where casual lying may be found among many groups: accountants, lawyers, creators of advertising campaigns, college professors, used car salesmen and journalists, too.

Politicians have a special excuse. A succession of thinkers, from Plato to Machiavelli to Disraeli, have told them that lying is a legitimate part of governing.

Sissela Bok, a Harvard philosopher who has studied and written extensively on the subject, said politicians often claim an ethical basis for deliberately misleading the public:

"They argue that vital objectives in the national interest require a measure of deception to succeed in the face of powerful obstacles. Negotiations must be carried on that are best hidden from public view; bargains must be struck that simply cannot be comprehended by a politically unsophisticated electorate. A certain amount of illusion is necessary for public servants to be effective."

Dissembling is contagious, easily spread by example -- especially when it is done by the men at the very top of the political order. Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook," Bill Clinton's "I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky," and George H.W. Bush's "Read my lips -- no new taxes" were notorious examples, although history offers many more.

The false front has always been a feature of politics. President Franklin Roosevelt did all he could to hide his physical infirmities from public awareness, keeping his wheelchair out of sight. John F. Kennedy's outward vigor masked constant back pain and the fact that he was suffering degenerative Addison's disease and taking multiple drugs.

The public may be deceived, but not for long. Voters sense what is really going on.

In July 2000, pollster John Zogby asked people which professions they trusted the most. Dentists and doctors topped the list. Politicians were at the bottom, lower than car dealers, auto mechanics and lawyers. A national poll last November by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 55 percent of those asked did not believe that "most elected officials are trustworthy."

Lies from politicians can have serious consequences. Self-government presumes the consent of those governed. Lies "manufacture consent" by misleading people, authors Lionel Cliffe, Maureen Ramsey and Dave Bartlett wrote in their book, "The Politics of Lying: Implications for Democracy."

Those who run for public office agree, but compulsory truth-telling makes them uncomfortable.

In New Jersey, the State Senate once buried a bill that would have imposed fines up to $10,000 on candidates who make false accusations during a campaign. It simply wasn't realistic. Negative campaign ads designed to destroy an opponent are a favorite political forum for lies.

There was a flap in the U.S. Senate last year over some sensitive leaked information about terrorism from the Select Committee on Intelligence. The FBI was called in to find the leak. Investigators suggested polygraph tests for those with access to the information, including members of Congress.

Fat chance.

In a burst of candor, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., then vice chairman of the committee, declared: "I don't know who among us would take a lie detector test."

Comment: With a little contemplation it becomes obvious that, given the basic nature of the average human being, manipulation and exploitation of others will always be the defining qualities of those who rise to the top of the pile here on the Big Blue Marble. Some people are happy to accept this fact as 'just the way things are' and to get on with 'playing the game of life'. Others flee into denial and subjectivity and try to deny What Is. Those of us who recognise our reality for what it is but still reject the idea that we must just indefinitely deal with it, find ourselves with somewhat of a problem: What do we do about it? Can we find the exit sign and seek out some place more to our liking? Among all of the potential evolutionary paths open to human beings, either collectively individually or in small groups, is such an option provided for?

Given the current path that our planet seems to be following, it certainly seems that 'the universe' provides the option for a species and the planet it inhabits to utterly destroy itself or be destroyed, so why shouldn't there also be the possibly to continue and evolve? Indeed, it seems that it is the reluctance of a species to consciously pursue meaningful evolution that ultimately leads to its demise.

If a small group of people showed the potential to evolve, yet were in a world and surrounded by other beings that seemed determined to implode, would the fate of the small group be terminally tied to that of the larger group and the planet? Would it be just be a case of 'bad luck'? The wrong place at the wrong time? Surely the inventiveness and limitlessness of 'creation' or 'the universe' would preclude such a restricted set of options. Perhaps, as a quantum physicist might postulate, the relationship between conscious beings (or rather the intelligence or information that they embody) and the nature of the reality in which they find themselves is in some way co-dependent. We observe our reality and it is the extent and nature of the observation that we 'collapse the wave function' and 'create our reality'. Of course, the 'observing' happens automatically and is a function of our deep-seated and fundamental beliefs about reality, what it is and what it can and cannot be, beliefs which may be hardwired into us at a neurological or genetic level. Such a level is, of course, not accessible or directly controllable by the average person, which precludes the new age idea that one can simply change one's reality by consciously ignoring certain undesirable aspects of it.

Any possibility to effectively change one's reality would probably have to involve the modification of the 'wiring' of our 'reality reading instrument' at a fundamental level. We can hypothesise that, if it is knowledge that defines our status as 'intelligent beings' and is the raw material which greases the wheels of our perceptive 'reality reading' mechanism, then it is perhaps knowledge, and the accrual of a certain type of knowledge, that might effect the fundamental change that would be required to truly change our reality.

Click here to comment on this article

US report acknowledges peak-oil threat
By Adam Porter in Perpignan, France
Wednesday 09 March 2005, 18:23 Makka Time, 15:23 GMT
It has long been denied that the US government bases any policy around the idea that global oil production may be in terminal decline.

But a new US government-sponsored report, obtained by, does exactly that.

Authored by Robert L. Hirsch, Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling and entitled the Peaking of World Oil production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management, the report is an assessment requested by the US Department of Energy (DoE), National Energy Technology Laboratory.

It was prepared by Hirsch, who is a senior energy programme adviser at the private scientific and military company, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

They work extensively on defence and geopolitical issues for clients, including many for the US government.

Advisory roles

Among current job openings at SAIC are positions at Fort Benning (formerly School of the Americas) and a private military contract to help retrain the Albanian air force in Tirana.

Hirsch has held a wide variety of positions in the US energy hierarchy including senior energy analyst at the Rand Corporation, through to a presidentially appointed assistant administrator for solar, geothermal and advanced energy systems.

He has also previously worked for the US Department of Energy on numerous advisory committees, including the DoE Energy Research Advisory Board.

This new report follows on from two presentations by Hirsch last year. One on 1 March to the same National Energy Technology Laboratory and another on 14 June last year at the Annapolis Centre for Science Based Public Policy. Here Hirsch laid down his ideas on the peak of oil production.

The Annapolis Centre for Science-based Public Policy is a group which has received $658,000 in funding from Exxon Mobil since 1998. It openly disputes the idea that global warming is the result of burning fossil fuels.

But this brand new senior-level report on "peak oil" is unprecedented in US government circles. It is not just the existence of the report itself that is such a landmark in the current oil debate. Its conclusions also pull no punches.

Uncertain timing

"World oil peaking is going to happen," the report says. Only the "timing is uncertain".

The effects of any oil peak are similarly not ignored. Specifically, the impact on the economy of the United States. "The development of the US economy and lifestyle has been fundamentally shaped by the availability of abundant, low-cost oil. Oil scarcity and several-fold oil price increases due to world oil production peaking could have dramatic impacts ... the economic loss to the United States could be measured on a trillion-dollar scale," the report says.

The authors of the report also dismiss the power of the markets to solve any oil peak. They call for the intervention of governments. But also they rather worryingly point to a need to exclude public debate and environmental concerns from the process. They say this is needed to speed up decision-making.

"Intervention by governments will be required, because the economic and social implications of oil peaking would otherwise be chaotic. But the process will not be easy. Expediency may require major changes to ... lengthy environmental reviews and lengthy public involvement."

Hirsch notes, despite arguments from the major oil companies and producer nations, that new finds of oil are not replacing oil consumed each year. Despite the advances in technology reserves are becoming increasingly difficult to replace.

Three scenarios

The report sees "a world moving from a long period in which reserves additions were much greater than consumption, to an era in which annual additions are falling increasingly short of annual consumption. This is but one of a number of trends that suggest the world is fast approaching the inevitable peaking of conventional world oil production".

The report then takes three possible scenarios and outcomes. Firstly that energy replacement solutions, or "mitigation" as the report states, are started 20 years before any "peak". Secondly that solutions are only enacted 10 years before any peak and, thirdly, that solutions are only put into practice as the peak becomes apparent.

In what some may see as an optimistic assessment, the authors believe 20 years is enough time to limit damage from any peak. However, they point out that "if mitigation were to be too little, too late, world supply/demand balance will be achieved through massive demand destruction".

Demand destruction is a modern way of saying catastrophic recessions and shortages. But as well as these predictions, the report lays out "signals" it believes will be apparent in the run-up to any peak. This is perhaps the most worrying aspect of the report, as it seems to describe the very events that are taking place at the moment.

Supply insecurity

"As world oil peaking is approached, excess production capacity ... will disappear, so that even minor supply disruptions will cause increased price volatility as traders, speculators, and other market participants react to supply/demand events," the report says.

"Simultaneously, oil storage inventories are likely to decrease, further eroding security of supply, aggravating price volatility, and further stimulating speculation ... oil could become the price setter in the broader energy market, in which case other energy prices could well become increasingly volatile and unpredictable."

The report highlights a series of ways to minimise any impacts. From increased fuel efficiency to technological help in stopping the practice of "oil-left-behind" or non-extractable oil and various forms of new liquid fuels, liquefied coal and gas-to-liquids.

But in its conclusion the report makes troubling reading, noting that "the world has never faced a problem like this. Without massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions were gradual and evolutionary. Oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary".

This report is the clearest signal yet that the U.S government is taking the subject of "peak oil" seriously. Yet it remains to be seen what actions can be taken to stop this potentially "revolutionary" change.

Comment: Well, Mike Ruppert and the "peak oil" gang should be elated. The US government agrees with him. Now if only Mr. Ruppert could use his persuasive powers to convince them to reveal the truth about 9/11. Oh, that's right, 9/11 is so last year now that our way of life is being threatened by "peak oil". We'll just have to put it aside in order to marshall our forces so that the public has some input.


There are several problems with the "peak oil" scenario and the solution proposed by Ruppert and company. First, no one has ever proved that oil is a non-renewable fossil fuel. As we pointed out yesterday, for someone who doesn't want to discuss the Pentagon crash because there is a lack of evidence, Ruppert is certainly going out on a limb for the unproven theory of oil as fossil fuel. We refer our readers to the excellent work of Dave McGowan on the "peak oil" controversy. When "peak oil" proponents tell us that there is no time for more research, for debate on the merits of the abiotic oil hypothesis, and these same people singing in harmony with the neocons, it is time to stop and smell the coffee.

Second, when one is aware that it was Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, and the neocons in league with Israel that pulled off 9/11, it puts negotiating with them over the details of dealing with "peak oil" in a, shall we say, slightly different light. Cheney's long-time contacts in the oil industry, his secret negotiations to draw up energy policy in those long forgotten days of pre-9/11, as well as the close ties of other members of the Bush administration with big oil, coupled with their willingness to sacrifice American lives to promote their policies, should be evidence enough that they are not people for whom compromise is an option.

None of these facts mean that "peak oil", whether or not oil is a fossil fuel and whether or not supplies are limited, will not be used to whip up hysteria for war. The fear of the possibility of the loss of "our way of life" will be enough to bring enough Americans onside to continue the wars at the heart of the neocons plans and to finish the robbery of the life-savings of the average American.

Expect to see more reports of this ilk in the coming months. Expect to see "peak oil" becoming the issue of the hour as America's leaders take the next step in their plans to impose their fascist vision. The US economy is based upon oil, from cars to agriculture. Oil rationing and manipulated shortages are a fine way to impose control. The argument of "peak oil" is also a way to bring the environmentalists on board by proposing limits to consumption. Limits on consumption might well be a forward step under certain conditions such as when it is a conscious choice to extract oneself from consumer society and its materialist values, but should it be proposed by the people in power, it will carry a completely different agenda, one of enslavement and not of liberation.

Click here to comment on this article

China's global hunt for oil
By Mary Hennock
BBC News business reporter

China's craving for oil to drive its industrial boom and, to a lesser extent, satisfy its love affair with the motorcar, has helped to push up global crude oil prices.

Comment: Gosh, remember the good old days when the West had the world's resources for itself? When it could plunder as it willed?

In 2003, China raced past Japan to become the world's second biggest consumer of petroleum products after the US.

In 2004, its thirst grew by 15%, while its output only rose 2%.

China's oil demand 1980-2004

"They have a problem," says Philip Andrews-Speed, an energy analyst at Dundee University and former BP China executive.

China accounted for 40% of the growth in oil demand over the last four years, says the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

To slake its seemingly insatiable thirst, Chinese oil firms are trying to squeeze more out of their wells using smarter technology and they are rumoured to be considering buying parts of Western oil majors.

China has also embarked on a frenzy of oil hunting diplomacy. China's rulers seldom go anywhere these days without talking oil, while at home in the last year they have unrolled the red carpet in Beijing to dignitaries from all 11 countries in the Opec cartel.

Comment: Look at the language the journalist is using to characterise the Chinese: "insatiable thirst", "frenzy of oil hunting diplomacy", language designed to portray the Chinese as somehow animalistic and subject to base desires. What of the US, a country that far exceeds any other country in its per capita oil consumption?

They got results.

China clinched deals to develop fields in Iran.

The red flag came out too, as China opted for a bit of anti-imperialist bonding. Cuba agreed to let China explore its coastal oil fields.

And eyebrows were raised in Washington when left-wing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez offered Chinese firms operating rights to mature oil fields.

As the world's fifth biggest oil exporter, Venezuela is vitally important to the US, though relations between the White House and President Chavez are strained.

Comment: That is putting it mildly. No mention of the reasons for this "strain": US continued interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, including backing the 2002 coup attempt and last year's referendum.

Venezuela's output has been poor since a political tussle led to the sacking of senior managers at national oil group Petroleos de Venezuela.

Comment: "A political tussle"? US interference is simply "a political tussle"?

President Chavez may hope Chinese engineers can help "revive Venezuela's oil fields on the cheap", says Leo Drollas, Deputy Director of the UK-based Centre for Global Energy Studies.

'Aggressive quest'

None of this has gone unnoticed by Western oil majors, and it risks getting up some powerful US noses.

Chinese worker in oil refinery
2005 - 7.2 million barrels a day
2004 - 6.6 million barrels a day
2005 demand seen up 9%
2004 demand up 15%
43% of oil used by industry
34% used by cars
Sources: US EIA, IEA

James Lilley, ex-US ambassador to Beijing, has said "the Chinese are on an aggressive quest to increase their supply of oil all around the world", according to remarks quoted on industry website Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections.

ChevronTexaco chief Dave O'Reilly has warned of a "bidding war for Middle Eastern oil between east and west".

In December Asian industrialised powers swallowed their rivalries to invite Opec oil ministers to India in an attempt - albeit unsuccessful so far - to renegotiate long-term supply contracts to run for up to five years, says Mr Drollas.

China has also been "building strategic relationships" with states "along the sea lanes from the Middle East", according to Alexander's, quoting a briefing paper written for US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Pumping up technology

China is not fussy where its oil comes from, whether Kazakhstan, Sudan or Angola. Its main concern is having enough of it, and the quest is driven from the very top.

Comment: Is this any different from the United States?

China has plenty of oil of its own, but the onshore fields in particular are old and running dry. Offshore, the situation is rosier.

Technologically, China's big four oil groups lag behind Western majors, particularly at deep sea drilling - unfortunate, given the future importance of offshore finds.

But government backing could help.

"They're less liable to put projects through the same rigorous commercial evaluation that multinationals would do," says Mr Andrews-Speed.

They are also "making great strides" with advanced seismic imaging techniques that can pinpoint oil reservoirs to save time and money, says Jeffrey Logan, China researcher at the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Acquisition trail?

Internationally, a strategy has been mooted whereby Chinese oil firms would be buying chunks of Western ones .

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has asked its bankers to price up a takeover of mid-sized US oil company Unocal, which drills in Indonesia and Thailand.

This raises two questions: Could China's main offshore explorer afford to buy Unocal, ranked ninth among US oil producers? And do Chinese firms have the management skills to run such an acquisition?

The answer to both is 'Maybe'.

Running a Chinese oil company is a highly political business, and successful oil mandarins tend to have their eye on plum government jobs.

"Their attention is divided, let's say," is how one analyst puts it.

But CNOOC bosses have impressed. They talk fluent industry jargon, wooed Henry Kissinger onto their advisory board, and have a $4.3bn petrochemical project with Shell that is China's biggest joint venture investment.

If CNOOC does bid, it is expected to keep Unocal's Asian assets and sell everything else right away. CNOOC is cash rich, but faces a lot of calls on its money to meet development plans.

Although high oil prices have boosted profits, any shopping trip is likely to prove expensive in such a tight market. Bargains are non-existent, and China's thirst is perhaps the main reason.

Comment: We should expect to see many more articles discussing China's increasing need for oil. In the US, these articles will be part of the programming preparing the US public for hostilities against China. A large part of the consumables purchased in the US come from China. Think Wal-Mart. As the US economy tanks, someone will need to take the blame. China is a perfect culprit, made to order for the Christian right. We will hear that "China wants our oil". We might even hear that "they stole our jobs", quite the fairy tale given US corporate out-sourcing and shift in manufacturing plant in the ongoing search for cheaper and cheaper labour costs.

Let us not also forget that in the 1980s and 90s, the political goal of the US was to bring democracy to China through increasing trade. Free trade zones were set up in the country and US corporations came in and set up shop. We were told that the development of capitalism would lead to greater political rights. So it was the West that moved in to set China up as a growing oil consumer. We think that it had less to do with democracy than with profits. But now the West is paying the price as a new and potentially large and powerful economic power is born and starts to compete.

But it is likely that we will begin to hear repeated over and over that "the problems in the US are because of China".

Click here to comment on this article

Global toll of malaria 'doubled'
The number of cases of the deadliest form of malaria across the world could be twice as high as previously predicted, researchers suggest.

A team from the University of Oxford, writing in Nature, estimated there were over half a billion cases of Plasmodium falciparum malaria globally in 2002.

The figure is up to 50% higher than estimates from the World Health Organization.

Two thirds of cases occurred in Africa, predominantly affecting under-fives.

The new figures are 200% higher for areas outside Africa.

The study suggests that, in total, 2.2 billion people are at risk from malaria.

The researchers say this could be because the WHO's reliance on all centres in a particular country reporting all cases of the disease in order to collate incidence data was less certain than the method they used.

The WHO had set a target to halve deaths by 2010, but resistance to drugs is threatening that plan. [...]

Professor Bob Snow, who led the research, said: "We have taken a conservative approach to estimating how many attacks occur globally each year but even so the problem is far bigger than we previously thought.

"We have taken a science-driven approach to working out who is at risk, where they are located and what their chances would be of developing an attack of malaria.

"Our work has demonstrated that nearly 25% of worldwide cases occur in South East Asia and the Western Pacific - whereas most people regard Plasmodium falciparum disease a problem particular to Africa." [...]

Comment: Hmmm. "Peak oil" tell us we need to drastically reduce the world's population. What better way to do this than through the use of disease?

Click here to comment on this article

Canada warns of avian influenza used as weapon 2005-03-09 06:53:27
OTTAWA, March 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Canada's military intelligence arm has warned the government that avian influenza could be used as a weapon of bioterrorism, it is reported here Tuesday.

A report, entitled Recent Human Outbreaks of Avian Influenza and Potential Biological Warfare Implications, reveals that military planners believe a naturally occurring flu pandemic may be imminent.

The report, dated Dec. 8, 2004, outlines in broad terms the methods that could be used to develop a manmade strain of influenza capable of triggering a human flu pandemic.

It notes a method called "passaging," while not entirely predictable, could be a "potentially highly effective" way to push a virus to develop virulence.

"Such forced antigenic shifts could be attempted in a biological weapons program," says the 15-page report.

Comment: We do not doubt that a virus could be force to develop virulence of a deadly nature by a biological weapons program. The question that remains to be answered is which country would be most likely to pursue such a program. See our Signs Flu Supplement for more on this topic and the role of the US government in resuscitating deadly forms of flu.

Click here to comment on this article

Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction
United Press International
March 10, 2005

A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

"I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.

"We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.

He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."

"Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.

Comment: Here's a question: Why should we believe this latest story if the first one about Saddam hiding in a "rat hole" was completely fabricated? This story also poses questions about what else the US government may have been stage managing over the past few years.

There is however another minor problem with the Saddam story: The captured man may not even be Saddam...

Click here to comment on this article

Flashback: Saddam's wife could not recognize her husband

Last week, American authorities arranged a meeting of the former Iraqi dictator with his wife.

She was the first of Hussein's relatives to meet with the ex-leader of Iraq at a new place, at the American military base in Qatar. Accompanied by Sheikh Hamad Al-Tani, Sajida Heiralla Tuffah has arrived from Syria on his private jet in the end of March.

The outcome of their meeting turned out to be quite scandalous. Sajina claims that the person she encountered was not her husband, but his double. If someone were to say for sure that it was not insinuation, it would have been easy to believe the wife with a 25-year experience. It is also possible to assume that Saddam has simply changed since the day of his sons' deaths, June 24 2003. This however is highly unlikely. In case we believe Hussein's wife, all DNA testing of the ex-Iraqi leader should be considered a mere fake. Overall, today there remain more questions then there are answers.

Comment: Not long after the beginning of the Iraq invasion, Iraqi television began broadcasting footage of a defiant and unharmed Saddam. In response to these images, US and western media sources urged the public not to believe their eyes, that the person they were seeing could well be one of Saddam's famed body doubles. After his supposed capture, there was no talk of body doubles, and we are all still being asked to take the word of the liars in the White House and Pentagon that this is the real Saddam.

Now, the issue is confused even further by covering up one lie with yet another tall tale, and the details of the made-for-TV capture of "Saddam" is presented as the real scandal. The question of whether or not "Saddam" is the real deal is effectively buried.

Click here to comment on this article

U.S. Quits Accord on Diplomatic Access to Inmates
Thu Mar 10, 2005 08:37 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The United States has withdrawn from an international agreement that gives jailed foreigners the right to talk to consular officers, a protocol that critics of capital punishment used to win reviews of death sentences given to 51 Mexicans jailed here.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher confirmed a report in the Washington Post on Thursday that the United States had decided to pull out of the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

"All these people have the right to raise their issues in court," Boucher told reporters traveling with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on a trip to Mexico, which opposes U.S. death penalty policies.

Boucher said that given some of the interpretations made by the World Court "we didn't want any more of them."

Rice had notified U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, in a letter dated March 7, that the United States "hereby withdraws" from the protocol, the Post reported.

In recent years, other countries with support from U.S. death penalty opponents have successfully complained before the World Court that their citizens were sentenced to death by U.S. states without access to diplomats from their own nations.

The optional protocol gives the World Court, which is also known as the International Court of Justice, the final word when detainees say they have been denied the right to see a diplomat from their country. [...]

Comment: This step is but one of many in the march towards fascism. Although the article centers around Mexicans sentenced to death in the US, the optional protocol certainly applies in the war on terror, as well. From rendition to detention without charge in the US, all the stops are being pulled out by the Bush administration.

Click here to comment on this article

Bush's Perverse UN Pick
by Ian Williams
The nomination of John Bolton to be US ambassador to the United Nations is a resounding declaration of American contempt for the organization and the rest of the world. When Condoleezza Rice forced Bolton out of his niche at the State Department, it was taken worldwide as a positive indication of the prospects of multilateralism in Bush's second term, in some measure compensating for the retirement of Colin Powell--not least since no one was sure how much of a multilateralist Rice is.

Some playful souls scared colleagues by suggesting that Bolton could end up as UN ambassador, but the consensus was that not even Bush could be that crassly insouciant about the views of the rest of the world.

This week showed that once again, the world has underestimated the President.

Bolton's nomination sends a message to the Europeans that on his recent European tour Bush was only kidding about a joint approach to global threats. It sends a message to the rest of the world that the United States will not listen to them, but will pursue its own obsessively theological agenda in the teeth of almost universal opposition.

Some UN officials are halfheartedly trying to convince themselves that the job will make Bolton more amenable to working within the system. Sadly, they are almost certain to be disappointed. He has shown no compunction about working the system for his own and his conservative colleagues' benefit. As far back as 1992, when he was Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, he was trying to shake down the UN Development Program for a $2 million grant to an organization that was little more than a pension fund for a conservative colleague [see Williams, "Why the Right Loves the U.N.," April 13, 1992].

More recently, Bolton was an assistant to James Baker when the former Secretary of State was Secretary General Kofi Annan's (failed) representative for Western Sahara. But Bolton has remained unrelenting in his opposition, both rhetorical and practical, to the UN even as he took the money.

If there is a bright side to his appointment, it is that it will make it much more difficult for the United States to advance its agenda at the UN than if the President had appointed a real diplomat rather than someone who epitomizes American diplomacy as an oxymoron. There are lots of governments prepared to grovel to Washington, but Bolton will make it difficult to grovel gracefully.

Much of Western diplomacy at the UN, for example, consists of sweet-talking the Chinese delegation out of using their veto. Bolton, who took $30,000 from the Taiwanese to advise them on how to join the UN he despises, does not do sweet talk.

Traditionally, while Democratic envoys to the UN have also held Cabinet office, Republican appointees do not, which has made them subordinate to the State Department. However, Bolton was taking instructions from Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld even when he was in the State Department. He is unlikely to pay too much attention to the Secretary of State now, so even if Rice is sincere in the appearance that she seems to be trying to present to allies, Bolton will certainly sabotage her efforts at the UN.

The man who ordered a CIA probe on Hans Blix for not finding weapons in Iraq when ordered, who contrived the dismissal of the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and who in 1999 wrote for the American Enterprise Institute of "Kofi Annan's UN Power Grab," has recently been trying fire Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, for not finding nuclear weapons in Iran. Americans, and the rest of the world, should worry. If his appointment is confirmed, Bolton's task is likely to be to bully the UN into supporting an Iraq-style fiasco in Iran or Syria.

However, that is slightly longer-term. Possibly among the immediate casualties of Bolton's appointment will be some thousands of dead Darfurians. A resolution that would refer the continuing mayhem in Sudan to the International Criminal Court has already been stalled for months by the die-hard resistance of the Bolton faction in the State Department, but twelve members of the Security Council were cautiously optimistic that they had averted an American veto. Although it is clear that this is the one sanction actually feared by the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias it has employed, Bolton has already shown that in his obsessive war with the International Criminal Court, he does not care about the views of allies. Indeed, his fervent opposition to international restrictions on small-arms trade, landmines, biological weapons, child soldiers and nuclear testing suggests that he is quite prepared to accept significant casualties for his views--as long as they are other people's.

The Darfurians should be praying for long and protracted confirmation hearings for America's most undiplomatic ambassador. They should also be praying that Rice will seize the time to effect a compromise. It should not be difficult for sane senators to question the fitness of a putative UN ambassador who in 1994 asserted that "there is no such thing as the United Nations" and later that "if the UN Secretariat building in New York lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

Click here to comment on this article

The enemy within

How an Americanist devoted to destroying international alliances became the US envoy to the UN
Sidney Blumenthal
The Guardian
Thursday March 10, 2005

In the heat of the battle over the Florida vote after the 2000 US presidential election, a burly, mustachioed man burst into the room where the ballots for Miami-Dade County were being tabulated, like John Wayne barging into a saloon for a shoot-out. "I'm with the Bush-Cheney team, and I'm here to stop the count," drawled John Bolton. And those ballots from Miami-Dade were not counted.

Now that same John Bolton has been named by President Bush as the US ambassador to the UN. "If I were redoing the security council today, I'd have one permanent member because that's the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world," Bolton once said. Lately, as undersecretary of state for arms control, he has wrecked all the nonproliferation diplomacy within his reach. Over the past two decades he has been the person most dedicated to trying to discredit the UN. George Orwell's clock of 1984 is striking 13.

The euphoria that Bush's European trip marked a conversion on the road to Brussels is fading. For it was Bush himself who decided to reward Bolton with a position where he could continue his crusade as a "convinced Americanist" against the "globalists," especially those at the UN and the EU.

Bolton made a play to become deputy secretary of state after the 2004 election, but was blocked by Condoleezza Rice, who understood that his love of bureaucratic infighting would have undermined her authority. Dick Cheney privately promised Bolton that if all else failed he would give him a job on his vice presidential staff, but that proved unnecessary when Bush nominated him to the UN post. Rice announced his appointment, symbolically demonstrating that he reports to her. But Bolton has deep support within the White House, and Rice is very much a work-in-progress. With Bolton's appointment, the empire strikes back.

Bolton is an extraordinary combination of political operator and ideologue. He began his career as a cog in the machine of Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, helping his political action committees evade legal restrictions and federal fines. Helms, the most powerful reactionary in the Senate, sponsored Bolton's rise to Reagan's justice department. "John Bolton," Helms said, "is the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon, or what the Bible describes as the final battle between good and evil."

Bolton is often called a neoconservative, but he is more their ally, implementer and agent. His roots are in Helms's Dixiecrat Republicanism, not the neocons' airy Trotskyism or Straussianism.

Bolton is a specimen of the "primitives", as Truman's secretary of state Dean Acheson called the unilateralists and McCarthyites of the early cold war. Through his political integration into the neocon apparatus, Bolton might be properly classified a neoprimitive.

At the state department, Bolton was Colin Powell's enemy within. In his first year, he forced the US withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile treaty, destroyed a protocol on enforcing the biological weapons convention, and ousted the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. He scuttled the nuclear test ban treaty and the UN conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. And he was behind the renunciation of the US signature on the 1998 Rome statute creating the international criminal court. He described sending his letter notifying the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, as "the happiest moment of my government service".

Bolton's meddling in diplomacy on nonproliferation with North Korea and Iran guaranteed that the allies had no unified position and encouraged the Koreans and Iranians to play the nuclear card. Bolton's response to these crises has been to lead the charge to remove the UN head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. In late November, Bolton denounced the Blair government and the Europeans negotiating with the Iranians as "soft" for attempting "diplomatic means".

Bolton might be granted the integrity of his primitivism, a true believer who imagines Fortress America besieged by the UN and Europeans - "Americanists find themselves surrounded by small armies of globalists, each tightly clutching a favourite new treaty or multilateralist proposal". But Bolton's coarse ideology is advanced by sophisticated campaigns of disinformation - and not only on Iraq and North Korea. His leaks of falsehoods that Syria and Cuba had developed weapons of mass destruction sparked internal revolts by intelligence professionals and the foreign service.

Like his allies the neoconservatives, for Bolton the ends justify the means. But unlike them he has no use for romantic rhetoric about the "march of freedom" and "democracy", as he demonstrated so effectively in Florida. And now he has the job he sought above all from the beginning.

Comment: US hostility to the UN is an illustrative example of the phony rhetoric of "freedom and democracy" touted by the Bush gang. We see here that Bolton's idea of the UN security council is that the US alone should sit on it because it is the most powerful country in the world. So from the start, we see that power is more important than liberty. Other countries should have no say because they aren't powerful enough. The idea that each country has something to offer the world community, as each citizen should have a voice in government, is nowhere to be heard.

The theory behind democracy, American-style, works like this: Truly free people, if left to choose for themselves, would choose the American way of life because it is far and away better than any other. The experts in the American way of life are, obviously, the Yanks themselves, so no other hand is needed in guiding the world's people towards democracy. Those people who choose to live differently are, therefore, clearly not free. If they were, they would choose America.

That is the program instilled into Americans, at least - whether or not their leaders believe it is another matter. In any case, it is the back story against which international news is set and understood by many of the US people. "They are jealous of our freedoms," said George Bush in explaining the attacks of 9/11, and people believe it because it fits the framework.

Click here to comment on this article

HUMAN RIGHTS: When Terror Is Not Terrorism
Tito Drago
March 8, 2005

MADRID - Leaders and personalities from around the world meeting this week in the Spanish capital will attempt to agree on a global definition of the word "terrorism" and recommend measures on how to fight it.

The International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security organised by the Club of Madrid is bringing together some 200 experts and political leaders, including heads of state and former presidents, Tuesday through Friday.

The Club of Madrid, whose members include 50 former heads of state and government, describes itself as an independent organisation dedicated to fomenting and strengthening democracy around the world.

The aim of the conference is to come up with a common international framework for fighting terrorism while protecting democracy, and to reach a consensus on the definition of terrorism, which is expected to be one of the most difficult tasks.

According to the Royal Spanish Academy dictionary, terror is an "expeditious method of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary justice", and terrorism is "domination by terror" and "acts of violence carried out to generate terror."

Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, internationally renowned for his attempt to bring former military leaders of the Chilean and Argentine dictatorships to justice, told IPS that "any attack or aggression against the civilian population is a terrorist crime, whether staged by civilian, insurgent or terrorist groups, or regular armies."

An early proponent of terrorism as a doctrine was a German radical democrat, Karl Heinzen, who wrote in a 1848 essay, Der Mord (Murder), that all means were valid to hasten the advent of democracy: "If you have to blow up half a continent and cause a bloodbath to destroy the party of barbarism, you should have no scruples of conscience. Anyone who would not joyously sacrifice his life for the satisfaction of exterminating a million barbarians is not a true republican."

And during the French Revolution (1789-1799), the Jacobin party ushered in what became known as the "Reign of Terror". Determined to impose deep social reforms, the Jacobins executed thousands of their opponents by guillotine. [...]

Comment: It seems the past experiences of many European countries are quite similar to the current US trend towards "radical democracy".

There are also discrepancies between the lists of terrorist organisations drawn up by different governments. For example, the Islamic movement Hezbollah is included on the U.S. State Department's annual list, but not on the one drawn up by the European Union last May.

Definitions can also shift depending on the time period and the interests at stake. Mohammed Abdelkefi, the Madrid correspondent for the London-based newspaper Al Arab, cited the example of the Islamist Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

"When they were fighting the Soviet Union they were 'freedom fighters'. Later, although they were still fighting foreign occupation (led by the U.S.), they became 'terrorists'," Abdelkefi told IPS.

"Were the Spaniards who rose up against Napoleon's French troops who occupied Spain terrorists? And were the French resistance fighters waging terrorism in their fight against the Nazi occupation?

"What is it called when troops break into people's homes late at night, destroying doors and household furnishings, raping women, humiliating and mistreating men and stealing jewelry and money?" asked Abdelkefi, referring to actions that U.S. troops have carried out in Iraq according to press reports.

"Is it terrorism to bomb houses and entire neighbourhoods, killing everyone who lives there with the excuse of going after one single person?" he added, alluding to U.S. bombing in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion of that Middle Eastern country.

Speaking at the conference, the head of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, called it counterproductive to support authoritarian governments as allies in the fight against terrorism, because "open" political systems are the best way to convince angry young people to channel their indignation in a peaceful manner.

The European coordinator of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Irune Aguirrezábal, said violence is not the best weapon against terrorism.

"It is essential to analyse the roots, including religious fanaticism, poverty, inequality and lack of democracy," in order to work towards the prevention and persecution of terrorism, while fully respecting the law and human rights, said the activist. [...]

Cardoso said democracy is not merely the only legitimate way to combat terrorism, but also the only effective way to do it, because freedom can only be saved by freedom, and the fight against terrorism can only be successful if it is based on the reign of law.

Click here to comment on this article

Israel's aid to illegal settlers

An inquiry revealed official complicity in setting up some 105 unauthorized outposts.
By Ben Lynfield | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
JERUSALEM – Illegal settler outposts that are consolidating Israel's grip on the West Bank are not pirate operations by hard-line settlers. They are established, maintained, and expanded with the backing of the Israeli government.

That charge, which cuts to the heart of one of the more loaded issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is no longer made only by dovish Israelis or Palestinians. It's now the official finding of a report commissioned by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which was released Wednesday.

The report marks an embarrassment to Mr. Sharon and could intensify American calls for Israel to dismantle outposts in accordance with the international peace blueprint known as the road map. But the document, which does not implicate Sharon personally in illegalities, is not expected to have much of a political impact in Israel even though it was after Sharon became premier in March 2001 that the pace of outpost building greatly accelerated.

"People realize the whole Gaza disengagement depends on Sharon and don't want to put that in jeopardy," says Leslie Susser, diplomatic correspondent of the Jerusalem Report magazine. "For that reason I don't see a political move by the left, and for the right to try to get Sharon for playing their game would be disingenuous. Legally, he probably has not left any fingerprints."

The 300-page report compiled by former state attorney Talia Sasson finds that the government funds the establishment of "at least part" of the outposts, a term used to describe settlement activity that was never formally endorsed by the cabinet and is therefore illegal according to Israeli law. Israel uses the term settlements to describe the more established communities in the occupied territories, where 240,000 settlers live. These are authorized and in accordance with Israeli law, but contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention by virtually everyone's interpretation except Israel's.

The US-backed road map calls on Israel to "immediately" dismantle outposts erected since March 2001. Few have been removed in practice and in some cases new ones have sprung up. Ms. Sasson said Wednesday that permanent housing and digging to bring in more mobile homes is under way at some outposts, adding that taking over lands and paving roads for them are "daily occurrences."

She estimated the number of outposts at 105, but said there could be more than that.

According to the dovish Peace Now group, 50 outposts were established after March 2001. Peace Now staffer Dror Etkes says the group feels "some kind of vindication" for its longstanding arguments.

But he predicts that the Sasson report will deal a setback to those trying to end settlement construction and achieve a territorial compromise with the Palestinians.

"The risk of this report is that people forget the bigger story, the settlements, of which the outposts are just one small chapter," he says.

The housing ministry, Sasson said, provided hundreds of mobile homes to outposts and channeled millions of dollars to them. Military administrators did not enforce the law and allowed 54 outposts to be constructed on private Palestinian land and other officials ensured that outposts were hooked up to electricity and other services, she wrote.

The Sharon government has said repeatedly that Israel's policy is not to establish new settlements.

In the view of Yossi Alpher, former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, the report "will strengthen the hand of anyone, including President Bush or [new Housing Minister Yitzhak] Herzog who wants to do anything about the outposts." But, he added, Sharon may have a convincing answer if there is increased US pressure, namely that he should not be asked to fight the settlers on two fronts simultaneously.

"I think that what Sharon believes is that to have fiascos of trying to dismantle outposts while getting ready for the huge task of Gaza withdrawal is distracting and will whip up settler anger. He thinks it is better to bide time with the outposts and get out of Gaza first," he says.

Sasson recommended that the attorney general decide whether investigations should be launched against some of those involved in funneling money to the outposts.

Sharon spokesman Raanan Gissin said a tangle of overlapping legal codes in the West Bank - military, civilian, Israeli, and Jordanian - "creates the possibility for those who want to use the law or misuse the law to do so."

Comment: Everyone who is surprised by the finding of this report, raise your hand.

We thought so.

Click here to comment on this article

Israeli Officials Could Face Charges Over Outposts
By Allyn Fisher-Ilan
March 10, 2005

JERUSALEM - An inquiry commissioned by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Wednesday recommended possible prosecution of public officials for helping to spread unauthorized settler outposts in the occupied West Bank.

Israel is meant to remove the outposts under a U.S.-backed peace plan, but the report said officials at the defense and housing ministries and the quasi-governmental World Zionist Organization as well as army administrators had worked to encourage them. [...]

Comment: Sharon calling for a commission to prosecute officials for encouraging settlements in the West Bank is like Bush calling for an investigation into 9-11.

Click here to comment on this article

Israeli Report Slams Ongoing Settlement Activities
Islam Online

The report said outposts built on Palestinian land are totally illegal and should be dismantled immediately.

GAZA CITY, March 9, 2005 ( & News Agencies) – An Israeli report Wednesday, March 9, slammed Tel Aviv for building scores of illegal West Bank settlements, leaving Prime Minister Ariel Sharon red-faced and raising serious question marks over Israeli pledges to seek peace.

“Transgressing the law has become the norm in several official organs when it comes to rogue settlements,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted the report's author Talia Sasson as telling a news conference Wednesday, March 9.

Her report -– though commissioned by Sharon himself -- concluded that government ministries either turned a blind eye to or handed out millions of dollars to help finance and build scores of settlements on the occupied West Bank.

Click here to comment on this article

Livingston: Sharon inspires Al-Qaeda
Middle East Online

Outspoken London mayor says Israeli government threatens entire Western world by inspiring terrorist groups.

JERUSALEM - London mayor Ken Livingstone accused the Israeli government of inspiring terrorist network Al-Qaeda in comments to Israel's right-wing Jerusalem Post newspaper published on Tuesday.

The maverick mayor, a member of Britain's governing Labour Party, stood by his claim that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Shaorn is a war criminal, carried in an article on Friday in Britain's Guardian newspaper.

In a written response to questions from Israel's English-language daily, Livingstone said the Israeli government threatens the entire Western world by inspiring terrorist groups such as Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda.

"The threat is from the policies of the current Israeli government, which in its abuse of the human rights of the Palestinians... raises the temperature of the Middle East to a boiling point - thereby creating threats to all of us," the Post quoted him as saying.

"This policy acts as a recruiting sergeant to extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda who can pose as supporters of the Palestinian cause.

"Only a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, will bring long-term security," Livingstone reportedly said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Sharon's cellmate

If my prime minister is a war criminal, so is Tony Blair
Daphna Baram
The Guardian
Thursday March 10, 2005
I read Ken Livingstone's article on these pages in which he explained his position on Israel and anti-semitism with great care, and agreed with it. I have always respected his unequivocal stance against racism and I don't believe that he is anti-semitic. And yet I am angry. I am angry with Ken and with the British left generally. Please allow me to explain why.

I agree that my prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is a war criminal. From the intentional killing of 69 civilians in the village of Qibya in 1953, through the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, all the way to the wild bombing of Palestinian cities in the last few years, his career is steeped in vile criminality. I have dedicated my adult life to making this point, not only to my people, but also to yours, and to the rest of the world. I believe that international pressure is vital to change Israel's policies, not only for the sake of the Palestinians, but for Israelis too.

In the little political sub-culture of the non-Zionist left which I come from, calling the prime minister a war criminal is no big deal. Israelis tend to say what they think out loud. The fact that so many on the British left call my prime minister a war criminal too is fine by me.

But if justice is to be dispensed evenly, what about your prime minister? Yes, Tony Blair, the bloke who took the British army into Iraq and butchered tens of thousands of Iraqis in an illegal war and under a false pretext? What is he, exactly? I, for one, think he deserves to share a cell with Ariel Sharon. Indeed, Sharon may reasonably protest: he is yet to be responsible for killings in such numbers.

Yes, I know the British left were against the war in Iraq. But it is rare to hear them refer to Blair as "a murderer", "a butcher", or "a war criminal". Blair is more often presented, even by ardent anti-war commentators, as "misled", "mistaken", "sincere but wrong", "well meaning but cheated by Bush", "acting out of great religious conviction", and so on. Even Ken decided to rejoin Mr Blair's party after the criminal invasion of Iraq, and at a time when sinister hints as to British and American intentions in Iran and Syria were already in the air. This is what makes serious Jews and Israelis sneer at his statements against Sharon.

The way to prove to liberal and left Israelis (they are the only ones in Israel Ken stands a chance of convincing) that he means what he says is to apply the same lofty standards to Blair, and to use the same type of words when describing their very similar activities.

So my message to the British left is: either moderate your language when talking about Sharon, or escalate it when talking about Blair. One way or another, it is time to set equal standards. Occupation, torture, killing and wars of aggression are as bad when committed by Britain as when committed by anybody else.

Comment: And George and Donald and Dick and Condi and Wolfie and Feith and Pipes and...

Click here to comment on this article

Israel says no wrongdoing in journalist killing

Wed Mar 9, 2005 9:12 PM GMT
By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has closed the case against soldiers accused of gunning down a British cameraman in the Gaza Strip, drawing charges of a cover-up from his relatives, who vowed to sue the army.

James Miller was killed on May 3, 2003 in the flashpoint refugee camp Rafah while making a documentary, "Death in Gaza", about Palestinian children caught up in fighting with Israel.

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers shot him at close range, although he wore journalist insignia and waved a white flag.

The documentary shows Miller, 34, approaching an armoured vehicle in the dark before the fatal shots sound.

The army's top legal authority, Judge Advocate-General Avichai Mandelblith, met Miller's relatives and told them a two-year internal probe had not uncovered proof of wrongdoing. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Palestinians accuse Israel of foot-dragging on peace
By Nasser Abu Bakr - RAMALLAH, West Bank

PA spokesman slams Israel's side-stepping in weeks since. Sharm el-Sheikh summit.

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday accused Israel of dragging its feet over promised confidence-building gestures after talks stalled on West Bank security handovers and a gunman was killed.

"Israel is prevaricating over carrying out its Sharm el-Sheikh resolutions," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told Voice of Palestine radio from Madrid where he was to attend an anti-terrorism conference.

At Middle East summit in Egypt last month, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas declared an end to more than four years of violence and announced a series of confidence-building measures.

In the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Sharon pledged to release 900 Palestinian prisoners and transfer security control in five West Bank towns - Ramallah, Bethlehem, Qalqilya, Tulkarem and Jericho - to the PA.

But two rounds of talks on such a handover in Jericho ended in deadlock on Wednesday, with Palestinian officials accusing the Israeli commanders of refusing to relinquish control of checkpoints and the wider area.

Less than 24 hours earlier, Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz had said Israel would hand over Jericho and Tulkarem to the Palestinian Authority "in the coming days" after talks with Abbas.

"The Israelis do not want to remove the roadblocks suffocating Jericho and Tulkarem, not to mention other regions in the West Bank," Erakat said.

"We are asking them to respect their commitments," he added, appealing to the international community to put pressure on Israel to make good on their Sharm el-Sheikh promises.

Click here to comment on this article

President praises Middle East changes

March 9, 2005

WASHINGTON - Declaring that "clearly and suddenly, the thaw has begun" that will allow democratic reforms in the Middle East, President George W. Bush yesterday praised what he called new signs of change in the region while heightening pressure on Syria to end its years-long occupation of Lebanon.

"By now it should be clear that authoritarian rule is not the wave of the future. It is the last gasp of a discredited past," Bush said during a speech at the National Defense University in Washington.

Speaking on the same day that a half-million pro-Syrian demonstrators took to the streets in Beirut with anti-U.S. slogans, he called on "all Syrian military forces and intelligence personnel" to withdraw from Lebanon before the May parliamentary elections, in order "for those elections to be free and fair." He charged that Syrian President Bashar Assad's recent promised pullout was a delay tactic, although some Syrian troops did begin redeploying yesterday to the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon.

The television image of Bush criticizing Syria even while pro-Syrian demonstrations were in progress underscored the complex political fault lines of the region. The president praised the anti-Syrian protests that had erupted after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and which prompted the country's pro-Syrian governor to resign. Directing his remarks to the Lebanese people, Bush said: "All the world is witnessing your great movement of conscience. Lebanon's future belongs in your hands, and by your courage, Lebanon's future will be in your hands."

The president also spoke broadly about the prospects for the advance of democracy in the Middle East. He likened the developments in Lebanon to the recent elections in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories and to the apparent new openness to democratic reforms by the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Bush also accused Syria and Iran of continuing to support terrorism and said Iran and other nations should view the Iraq elections as an "example," seemingly inviting Iranians to rise up against the government.

His remarks marked his first formal foreign policy speech since he declared in his Jan. 20 inaugural address a sweeping U.S. doctrine to "seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture."

At the time, critics decried the doctrine as unrealistic. But yesterday's speech reflected renewed confidence by the White House, coming in the wake of the successful Iraqi elections, promises by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to permit opposition in the next presidential election there and events in Lebanon that have renewed scrutiny of Syria.

The president stopped short of taking credit for the changes. He said change in the region required patience, given the entrenchment of tyrants and "deeply ingrained habits of fear" that persist among the people.

"For all of these reasons," he said, "the chances of democratic progress in the broader Middle East have seemed frozen in place for decades. Yet at last, clearly and suddenly, the thaw has begun."

Comment: Yup, US Black Ops might have George convinced of his own sainthood, but it still isn't washing in Lebanon, where estimates vary from half a million to a million and a half for the size of the demonstration organised by Hezbollah in support of Lebanon's ties with Syria. George and the boys have yet to produce any proof that Hariri was killed by the Syrians, but that is no doubt for George a minor point, a footnote for historians, compared with the infighting the Yanqui-Israeli plot has succeeded in reviving.

Click here to comment on this article

FBI: No Al-Qaeda sleeper agents found in US 2005-03-10 13:44:18
BEIJING, Mar. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Although American intelligence agencies conclude that Al-Qaeda has sought to recruit and train indiviuals to attack the United States, the FBI has not identified any "sleeper agents" of Osama bin Laden's network in this country so far.

A secret FBI report obtained by ABC News says that Al-Qaeda's capability to hit the United States is unclear.

The conclusion seems to differ from testimony given by FBI Director Robert Mueller, who warned in the past that several sleeper cells were probably in place.

"Our greatest threat is from al Qaeda cells in the United States that we have not yet been able to identify," Mueller said at a hearing in February 2003.

Comment: Everyone who is surprised by the finding of this report, raise your hand.

We thought so.

Click here to comment on this article

Taser Gun Used On Man Who Refused Urine Sample
9:39 pm EST March 9, 2005

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A police officer twice used a Taser stun device on a drug suspect who was restrained to a hospital bed because the man refused to give a urine sample to medical staff, authorities said.

Antonio Wheeler, 18, was arrested Friday on a drug charge and taken to an emergency room after telling officers he had consumed cocaine, police said.

Because Wheeler said he had used the drugs, Florida Hospital officials wanted a urine sample. But a police affidavit said Wheeler didn't provide a sample on his own and workers tried to catheterize him.

The police document said Wheeler was handcuffed to a hospital bed and then secured with leather straps after he refused to urinate in a cup. When medical staff tried to insert a catheter to get the sample, Wheeler refused and began thrashing around, the affidavit said.

At one point, police officer Peter Linnenkamp noted that he jumped on the bed with his knees on Wheeler's chest to restrain him. Then, when Wheeler still refused to let the catheter be inserted, Linnenkamp said he twice used his Taser, which sends 50,000 volts into a target.

"After the second shock (Wheeler) stated he would urinate and calmed down enough to be given the portable urinal," Linnenkamp wrote. [...]

"I feel I was basically raped," Wheeler said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Polish deputy PM quits to form new party 2005-03-10 10:22:32
WARSAW, March 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jerzy Hausner announced his resignation Wednesday after he quit the ruling Democratic Left Alliance last month and decided to set up anew centrist party.

Hausner, also Poland's economy minister, told a news conference in western Poland that his resignation was submitted to Prime Minister Marek Belka on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Polish government said Wednesday that Belka will soon set a date to accept the resignation. He hopes Hausner will stay on till a successor is chosen.

Hausner quit the ruling alliance in early February. He later vowed to create a centrist force, the Democratic Party, along with the leader of the Freedom Union Wladyslaw Frasyniuk.

Poland is set to hold presidential and parliamentary elections this year. The parliamentary race will be held ahead of schedule as the Democratic Left Alliance has lost its once huge majority following a string of corruption scandals.

Click here to comment on this article

US finds out cause of missile defense test failure
2005-03-10 13:32:20
WASHINGTON - The failure of an interceptor missile in a missile defense test on Feb. 14 was caused when one of three supporting arms inside the interceptor's silo did not fall free of the weapon, a senior US military official said on Wednesday.

It was a repeat of an aborted December test in which the interceptor missile also failed to launch because of a minor software problem. [...]

The United States has recently suffered two setbacks in the missile defense test in a row.

Last month, an interceptor missile supposed to shoot down the target missile fired from Kodiak Island, Alaska, did not take off from Kwajalein Island in the Pacific Ocean. This followed an abortion on Dec. 15 of the first flight test of the system in two years. [...]

Obering also said that Pentagon would resume the test as early as the end of April.

Click here to comment on this article

Investors still counting cost of dotcom boom
10/03/2005 - 13:10:31

It was the boom that promised to make millions rich – yet five years to the day from the peak of the dotcom fervour, investors are still counting the cost.

Investors thought they could earn endless amounts of money from technology stocks, until the realisation dawned that most of the companies had yet to deliver and the bubble began to burst.

Many companies whose value soared to astronomical levels are still to make a profit and the experience has left many nervous about ploughing into the sector again.

Famous names such as and telecoms equipment group Marconi are now a far cry from their previous values, while ISA investments based on technology stocks were reduced to virtually nothing. [...]

Comment: Did you "lose your shirt" in the dotcom "boom"? If you did, you will also surely be aware that the boom and bust was a 100% contrived event designed to literally rob the American and European middle class of their savings. If you are not, then you should be. In Wall street for example, there are about a dozen "market analysts" or "financial consults" who earn up to $25 million per year and who can control the rise and fall of shares based simply on their "predictions". Five years ago such men (and they ARE almost all men) were deliberately promoting tech stocks in newly formed "internet companies" that they KNEW to be essentially worthless. Fueled by the hype and promise of vast wads of cash, millions of ordinary Americans remortaged their homes and cashed in their 401Ks to make some "easy money" by filling the coffers of newly formed "dot com" companies which, on the word of the analysts, were going to go "through the roof".

Of course, few investors were aware that for most of the dot com companies, the only asset they actually possessed was the money being pumped into them by the unwitting investors themselves. While the virtual company owners and certain 'insiders' made large sums of money by reselling their stakes at the height of the frenzy and just before the crash, the crash itself was precipitated by the massive sell off leaving the dot coms essentially penniless. It was a simple manipulation, a scooping up of the saving of millions of Americans by corrupt financiers and politicians. The crucial element that made is all possible was knowledge, and the fact that the manipulators possessed it while the ordinary citizen was as clueless as ever. Perhaps there is a lesson there for all of us. Knowledge protects and ignorance always endangers.

Click here to comment on this article


March 5, 2005

Economists and precious metals experts throughout the country who track market indicators and money trends worldwide, are wondering why the American people continue to ignore what they call "hard facts" that America's "recovering" economy is nothing more than a smokescreen to cover up the continued "borrowing to spend" practices of Congress. These experts warn that when the bubble finally bursts, it will make 1929 look like a walk in the park.

Last week saw jittery investors as the euro hit $1.32 and the dollar tumbled - again. The U.S. currency continues to fall in dangerous levels against rival currencies throughout the world. Asian banks have traditionally held their reserves in U.S. dollar denominated U.S. Treasury securities.

The U.S. dollar's weakness up against the euro pushed up gold last week to around $431 a troy ounce. Oil has once again jumped over the $51.00 per barrel mark. Crude is expected to remain in the $45-$50 dollar range throughout 2005.

Last week, billionaire investor, George Soros, who spent tens of millions of dollars to unseat George Bush, Jr., in the last election, warned at a recent conference in Saudi Arabia that if Middle East oil exporters and Russia would switch some of their revenues from dollars to euros, it could push the U.S. to a "tipping point." Billionaires like Warren Buffett have been buying up gold at a rate that most Americans can't even relate to, but those in the industry say Americans should pay attention when someone like Buffett is giving up the paper for gold.

Tension in currency and stock markets last week were prompted over Sir Alan Greenspan's testimony in front of Congress and worries that a rise in inflation could promopt the nation's bank, the Federal Reserve to step up interest rate increases.

In his recent column, 'Four Fed Hikes and a Funeral,' Ron Kirby had this to say about one of the government's largest debt obligations:

"The myth of the social security trust fund died last week. The lack of candor not withstanding, on the part of his eminence – Easy Al Greenspan; enough layers of the onion were peeled back that it was revealed for once and for all – more rotten onion. Actually, for those who could still bear to watch and listen without crying, they learned that the system is, in fact, worse than broke. Admittedly, a heck of a lot of folks still don’t get it. This fact is pointedly articulated by Jim Puplava in his Financial Sense Newshour [Feb 19 -1st hr] and his take on Alan Greenspan’s semi annual testimony to law makers up on Capitol Hill last week. Listening to the Big Easy explain the state of solvency [or lack thereof] to the esteemed Congresswoman-D, N.Y., Carolyn Maloney last week provided us all [as if it was needed] with conclusive evidence as to the lengths he will go to – to twist, pervert and otherwise obfuscate our reality. I use the term “our reality” only because I know, in my heart of hearts, the man really knows better."

Bob Chapman, known for his uncanny accuracy in predicting the markets and the financial pulse of America's economy, had this to say in his International Forecaster newsletter:

"Over the past decade, productivity growth on average has been about 2-1/2%, which is historically normal. It has not been 4-5% as described by government statistics and Sir Alan Greenspan. This is simply another lie in the process of psychological warfare, which is used to brainwash the American public. There has been no productivity miracle, but there has been a budget and current account balance disaster. Real rates of return on investment have not come from productivity but from the use of third world slave labor. It is similar to profits of the opium trade between India and China, which British and American families engaged in during the 19th century. This is how the great American fortunes were begun and how the British Royal Family became enormously rich.

"This exodus of manufacturing capabilities over these ten years has caused US exports to drop from 24% of GDP to 13% of GDP. As this transpired, deficits continued to grow and naturally the dollar began its decent. That decent was not allowed to occur until five years ago, because prior to that the Clinton administration via Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin artificially increased or stabilized the dollar. That was accomplished via the working Group on Financial Markets and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, the use of the repo pool and the suppression of gold prices. This false dollar value caused imports to exceed exports by some 50%.

"Cheap foreign goods become even cheaper and that excited the Fed because it suppressed inflation. There was an assist as well as exporters began to accumulate large dollar balances, which they in turn used to buy US Treasuries and agencies, which continued to allow the profligate spending of the American consumer. The result was a relentlessly rising trade and current account deficit. This easy money and credit underwritten by foreigners and the Federal Reserve exacerbated the situation by allowing spending to exceed income as real wages fell under the pressure of outsourcing and illegal immigration. In order to maintain their lifestyle, consumers have fallen deeper and deeper into debt. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that hedonically our inflation is 3.3%, when in fact it is considerably higher. That phantom inflation has bitten deeply into consumer purchasing power.

"Under free trade and globalization, the more we import the less we produce. We can never compete with third world wages. That is why we always had tariffs, duties and imports. Had we not had them, America would have never prospered over the last 225 years. America’s economy would have always been inundated with cheap foreign goods and our standard of living would be that of a third world country.

"When we import goods our purchasing power falls and no real wealth is built within our country, and as you well know our jobs are shipped to the third world. Furthermore, we do not need cheap goods. We did just fine before those cheap goods were allowed to arrive in such numbers. If we do not stop free trade and the machinations of WTO and NATA or CAFTA and FTAA, were they to become law, we would be doomed. Generally, both political parties back these treaties and amnesty. Our elected representatives know in most cases over 60% of their constituents are opposed to these issues, yet they continually vote for them."

Not everyone is enamored of the privately owned Federal Reserve Banking system. Several years ago, the Von Mises Institute at Auburn Univeristy commented, "Today the Fed attempts to coordinate world-wide inflation as the major banks once attempted to coordinate nationwide inflation. The major banks once agreed among themselves to bail out bankrupt banks to prop up the domestic financial system; now the Fed bails out central banks of other countries to prop up the entire international financial system. The logical end of this monetary interventionism is a single world-wide central bank with unlimited, coordinated inflation: in short, the dream of John Maynard Keynes. "But why would anyone desire this, especially after a century of Fed-caused inflation, business cycles, world wars, welfarism, statism, financial insecurity, and cultural collapse? Government and its connected interests do, but for everyone else, it would be a disaster, no matter what Alan Greenspan says." It would appear that the same conditions exist today and that not much "recovery" has been made, but in fact, the debt load continues to stagger even long time market investors and econonomists.

Pros say their position is right on the mark and the worst is yet to come. Before the crash in 1929, the premier economists of the time who supported the monetary policies of the day, reassured the American people that all was well at Wall & Broad. History shows they were dead wrong. While most Americans believe the 1929 stock market crash caused the Great Depression of the '30s, others point to the actual cause being the Federal Reserve's manipulating the money supply during the 1920s and 1930s.

Despite the ability for the central bank to print up paper that has no value (fiat currency), many are worried that even with all this flooding of "prop up" money by the FED, will it be enough to meet the extreme challenges in a few years when the baby boomer retire with an immediate debt load of $71 trillion dollars? Since there is no money in the U.S. Treasury and all income tax dollars go to pay the central bank for borrowing by Congress so they can continue to spend, only time will tell if America is indeed headed for a severe depression.

Click here to comment on this article

US Cotton Subsidies Declared Illegal by WTO, Again
3 March 2005

Geneva - International agency Oxfam calls on the US to implement swiftly today's final World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against its illegal cotton payment programs and agree to new global trade rules that would stop the dumping of cheap commodities.

Eliminating cotton subsidies is necessary to fulfill WTO obligations and bring relief to the millions of struggling farmers in poor countries. It is crucial that the US signals its readiness to reform its farm subsidies within current WTO negotiations to successfully negotiate a new global trade agreement.

"The case against US cotton dumping is overwhelming and now confirmed yet again by the WTO," said Celine Charveriat, spokesperson for Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign. "The debate is over. The US must now move quickly to reform its programs and stop dumping cheap cotton onto world markets that undermines the livelihoods of poor farmers in the developing world."

In September 2004, a WTO dispute panel found that $3.2 billion in annual cotton subsidies and $1.6 billion in export credits paid by the US in cotton and other commodities were illegal under WTO rules. The case, brought by Brazil and supported by some West African cotton-producing countries (Benin and Chad), was appealed by the US in October. Today's appeal decision is final and the US has until July 1 this year to comply or face possible trade sanctions by Brazil. [...]

Oxfam estimates that US dumping caused losses of almost $400 million between 2001 and 2003 for poor African cotton-producing countries, where more than 10 million people depend directly on the crop. A typical small-scale West African cotton producer makes less than $400 a year on his crop. Two million cotton farmers in Mali were recently pressured to accept a further price drop of 25%-many of them will not now be able to cover their production costs.

The majority (78%) of US cotton subsidies benefit the largest 10% of cotton producers. Loopholes in the subsidy rules allow industrial-sized farms to collect payments in excess of $1 million, while smaller farmers in the U.S. and abroad are driven out of farming by low commodity prices and high land costs.

The case has implications beyond cotton. "This case raises deep questions about the entire US subsidy system. US subsidies have distorted global markets, failed to save small US farmers, and promoted environmental damage. The US should see this ruling as an opportunity for reform," Charveriat said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Report: US roads, bridges, systems crumbling
March 10, 2005

WASHINGTON - The American way of life is taking a hit from a crumbling infrastructure.

A report being released today by the American Society of Civil Engineers gives it a rating of "D," down from a "D-plus" two years ago.

Infrastructure includes things like roads, bridges, water systems, the power grid and public parks.

Today's report card says Americans are spending more time stuck in traffic and less time at home with their families.

The study says it would take more than one and a half trillion dollars over the next five years to fix things.

The engineer's report gives America's drinking water system a "D-minus" and figures it would cost eleven billion dollars a year to bring it up to speed.

Comment: This latest report is even more damning than the last one, and a good indication of the true level of concern that US officials have for public infrastructure and well being.

Click here to comment on this article

Dollar Suffers Heavy Selling
By Nick Olivari
March 9, 2005

NEW YORK - The dollar weakened broadly on Wednesday with selling pressure unabated following a technically driven sell-off in the previous session.

Two days ahead of U.S. trade data, concerns about the U.S. current account deficit and the willingness of foreigners to continue funding it are adding to the dollar's woes.

Constant talk of central bank reserve diversification, Middle East tensions and instability were just more reasons to sell cited by investors wary of holding dollars. [...]

But the main focus this week for dollar investors remains Friday's U.S. trade data, expected to show the deficit widened to $56.50 billion in January from $56.40 billion in December, a move closer to record levels hit late last year.

Some investors are building in expectations for a more serious deterioration in the deficit to as much as $60 billion, traders said, which would only highlight the United States' massive financing needs and push the currency lower again. [...]

A sharp sell-off in U.S. Treasuries which pushed yields on the 10-year note up to 4.51 percent , the highest level since July, also failed to be dollar supportive.

"One argument is clearly that higher yields will lift the dollar and the other argument is that foreign sales of Treasuries will involve sales of dollars and hence the dollar will fall," wrote Steve Barrow, chief currency strategist at Bear Stearns in London, in a research note on Wednesday. "Our bias is to trade on the latter view, but clearly we could be wrong." [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Weak Dollar Getting Pommelled
By Jamie McGeever, Reuters
March 10, 2005

NEW YORK - The dollar weakened on Thursday against most currencies on concerns over global central bank reserve diversification, a widening U.S. trade deficit and tumbling bond prices.

"We're just in a general dollar downtrend right now," said Sophia Drossos, currency strategist at Morgan Stanley in New York.

Having slumped to multi-month lows against its major counterparts on Wednesday, the dollar suffered another blow on Thursday after Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told parliament that, generally speaking, diversity in foreign exchange reserves was a good thing.

The Ministry of Finance, which manages the world's largest foreign reserve holding of $840.6 billion, quickly clarified that it has no plans to shift funds out of the dollars. [...]

Comment: China and Japan are the two primary countries holding up the dollar at present. Japan hadn't hinted that it would consider selling off dollar reserves - until now.

Click here to comment on this article

Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank Add Tokyo Offices on Quake Unease
March 9, 2005

Morgan Stanley, the world's second-largest securities firm by capital, and Deutsche Bank AG are adding emergency offices in Tokyo amid growing concern an earthquake will knock them out of business in Japan's capital.

"The cost isn't cheap, but it's insurance,'' said Thomas Riley, 47, managing director of Morgan Stanley's Tokyo branch. Duplicate trading floors linked to the Tokyo Stock Exchange cost $10 million to build and $5 million a year to maintain, said Masatoshi Suzuki, who studies risk management at the Japan Research Institute Ltd. in Tokyo.

The number of major earthquakes in the Tokyo area increased by 37 percent since 2000, compared with the previous four years. The Japanese capital has a 70 percent chance of being hit by a magnitude 7 temblor in the next 30 years, government researchers said in August.

"The sense of urgency has been rising,'' said Keiji Doi, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo's Earthquake Research Institute. "The metropolitan area is high-risk.''

New York-based Morgan Stanley, which has had backup offices in New York and London since the early 1990s, opened its first Tokyo center in 2003 and is preparing another now, Riley said.

Deutsche Bank, Europe's third-largest bank by assets, may add a third backup office in Tokyo as soon as 2008, said Charles Underwood, 48, the head of business continuity at the bank's Tokyo brokerage house.

Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank already has a duplicate headquarters and a data backup center in Japan's capital.

Deutsche Bank's Plans

"The riskiest thing is not an earthquake,'' Underwood said. "Our business can be required to shut for a bomb threat or a fire in the basement. Meanwhile, our clients are still working normally, the competition is working normally.'' [...]

Local brokerage houses had always calculated that a temblor would destroy both them and their competitors, said researcher Suzuki. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington alerted them to other dangers.

"After 9/11, they saw that rivals could take their share of business,'' Suzuki said. "It was a kind of dawn.'' Risk- management manuals now contain a "recovery'' section, whereas "emergency'' used to be the final chapter, he said. [...]

93 Earthquakes

Tokyo was rocked by 93 earthquakes measuring more than five on Japan's seven-stage seismic scale in the four years to Dec. 31, 2004, according to the Meteorological Agency. That compares with 68 temblors in the previous four years. The capital was destroyed in 1923 by a quake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale.

Today, a magnitude 7.3 quake in Tokyo would kill as many as 13,000 people and cost the Japanese economy about 112 trillion yen ($1 trillion), a government panel estimated on Feb. 25. [...]

Beds, Emergency Food

About 500 computers in a client data center on the third floor, trading rooms on the fourth and fifth floors, and a command control center on the sixth floor are connected at all times to the bank's headquarters, said Andrew Gilhooley, Morgan Stanley's vice president of information technology.

The basement contains a generator, a 400,000-liter tank of oil and mainstays that allow the building to move 50 centimeters laterally in an earthquake.

Deutsche Bank's duplicate office in Hachioji City, 35 kilometers west of its Tokyo headquarters in Nagatacho, has 350 desks and computers, 50 beds, showers, and emergency food and water supplies spread over two stories, Underwood said. The data backup center is 10 kilometers from Hachioji, he said. [...]

Morgan Stanley updates its earthquake contingency plan every quarter, Riley said. Employees get regular evacuation training and must complete a written exam each year on subjects such as how to reach the emergency office, he said.

"The insurance premium is 500 empty desks,'' Riley said.

Comment: In the midst of the carnage of a massive earthquake, business must go on. Shareholders aren't going to be worried about the niceties of cleaning up and burying the dead while their competitors are stealing business.

A small but pointed illustration of the psychopathy of official culture.

Click here to comment on this article

Volcano Spews Ash Miles into the Air

The Popocatepetl volcano near Mexico City sent out a plume or ash and steam today, starting a brush fire that soldiers and emergency crews moved in to control.

The government’s National Council for the Prevention of Disasters said the fire occurred near the town of San Nicolas de los Ranchos, but did not pose any threat to area residents.

Located 40 miles from Mexico City, the 17,886-foot volcano has been largely calm recently, following several years of intermittent activity that sometimes caused ash falls over nearby communities.

Click here to comment on this article

Tornado wrecks New Zealand town
Wed Mar 9, 9:23 PM ET

WELLINGTON - A tornado tore through the town of Greymouth on New Zealand's southern West Coast, demolishing buildings and tossing shipping containers into the air.

The tornado cut a swathe 300 metres (yards) wide through the town and "it was just a mass of timber and roofs coming through the sky... the damage is just unbelievable", Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn said.

He said the roof of one of the biggest buildings in town had lifted and came flying through the air towards him as he drove away from council chambers.

"I couldn't believe it -- I just dived into the back seat," he said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Two Charged in Baby's Diaper Rash Death
Wed Mar 9, 8:28 AM ET

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. - The mother and grandmother of a toddler who died in December face criminal charges for allegedly neglecting his severe diaper rash, leading to a fatal infection.

Amy Livingston, 27, of Johnstown, was charged Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in the Dec. 12 death of her 15-month-old son, Harley. She was charged with a second count of child endangerment because another son, 3-year-old Hunter, also had severe diaper rash, authorities said. [...]

The younger boy developed sepsis, a life-threatening infection, because the rash was so bad, Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski said.

"It's probably the worst I've ever seen," Kwiatkowski said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Police: 17-Year-Old Found Starved In Cage, Wearing Diaper
Boy Found Weighing 49 Pounds
7:09 pm EST March 9, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The adoptive parents of a 17-year-old boy who weighed 49 pounds when found in a home where he was forced to wear a diaper and sleep in a locked, cage-like bed have been charged with child neglect, authorities said.

Child welfare workers called to Wilson and Brenda Sullivan's home Jan. 10 found the teen wearing a diaper and appearing developmentally delayed, a police report said. The boy was less than 4-foot-6 and was in the weight range of a 61/2-year-old, officials said.

Chief Steve Weintraub of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said the parents told investigators that the boy was forced to sleep in a criblike cage with a wooden lid kept shut with chains and a lock because he had behavioral problems and was overeating at night. The crib was the size of a twin bed with locks that prevented its sides from being lowered. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Hackers breach LexisNexis, grab info on 32,000 people
By Paul Roberts, IDG News Service
March 09, 2005 2:45 pm ET

Hackers have compromised databases belonging to LexisNexis and stolen information on at least 32,000 people, according to a statement Wednesday from LexisNexis' parent company, Reed Elsevier PLC.

The hackers stole passwords, names, addresses, Social Security and drivers license numbers of legitimate customers of the company's Seisint division. Seisint collects data on individuals that is used by law enforcement and private companies for debt recovery, fraud detection and other services.

LexisNexis identified the incidents in a review of security procedures and warned that there may be more incidents of data theft, Reed Elsevier said. [...]

The incident is just the latest in a series of revelations about consumer data being leaked or lost. Those incidents include the ChoicePoint hack and Bank of America Corp.'s disclosure last week that it lost digital tapes containing the credit card account records of 1.2 million federal employees, including 60 U.S. senators. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Readers who wish to know more about who we are and what we do may visit our portal site Quantum Future

Remember, we need your help to collect information on what is going on in your part of the world!

We also need help to keep the Signs of the Times online.

Send your comments and article suggestions to us Email addess

Fair Use Policy

Contact Webmaster at
Cassiopaean materials Copyright ©1994-2014 Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk. All rights reserved. "Cassiopaea, Cassiopaean, Cassiopaeans," is a registered trademark of Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk.
Letters addressed to Cassiopaea, Quantum Future School, Ark or Laura, become the property of Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Republication and re-dissemination of our copyrighted material in any manner is expressly prohibited without prior written consent.