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©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte


Where Those Who Now Run the U.S. Government Came From and Where They Are Taking Us
By Wayne Madsen

Part I

After several months of in-depth research and, at first, seemingly unrelated conversations with former high-level intelligence officials, lawyers, politicians, religious figures, other investigative journalists, and researchers, I can now report on a criminal conspiracy so vast and monstrous it defies imagination. Using "Christian" groups as tax-exempt and cleverly camouflaged covers, wealthy right-wing businessmen and "clergy" have now assumed firm control over the biggest prize of all – the government of the United States of America. First, some housekeeping is in order. My use of the term "Christian" is merely to clearly identify the criminal conspirators who have chosen to misuse their self-avowed devotion to Jesus Christ to advance a very un-Christian agenda. The term "Christian Mafia" is what several Washington politicians have termed the major conspirators and it is not intended to debase Christians or infer that they are criminals . I will also use the term Nazi – not for shock value – but to properly tag the political affiliations of the early founders of the so-called "Christian" power cult called the Fellowship. The most important element of this story is that a destructive religious movement has now achieved almost total control over the machinery of government of the United States – its executive, its legislature, several state governments, and soon, the federal judiciary, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

The United States has experienced religious and cult hucksters throughout its history, from Cotton Mather and his Salem witch burners to Billy Sunday, Father Charles Coughlin, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, and others. But none have ever achieved the kind of power now possessed by a powerful and secretive group of conservative politicians and wealthy businessmen in the United States and abroad who are known among their adherents and friends as The Fellowship or The Family. The Fellowship and its predecessor organizations have used Jesus in the same way that McDonald’s uses golden arches and Coca Cola uses its stylized script lettering. Jesus is a logo and a slogan for the Fellowship. Jesus is used to justify the Fellowship’s access to the highest levels of government and business in the same way Santa Claus entices children into department stores and malls during the Christmas shopping season.

When the Founders of our nation constitutionally separated Church and State, the idea of the Fellowship taking over the government would have been their worst nightmare. The Fellowship has been around under various names since 1935. Its stealth existence has been perpetuated by its organization into small cells, a pyramid organization of "correspondents," "associates," "friends," "members," and "core members," tax-exempt status for its foundations, and its protection by the highest echelons of the our own government and those abroad.

Comment: This long article goes into great detail in describing the reach of the Fellowship throughout government and business in the US.

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Genes contribute to religious inclination
* 17:38 16 March 2005
* news service
* Maggie McKee

Genes may help determine how religious a person is, suggests a new study of US twins. And the effects of a religious upbringing may fade with time.

Until about 25 years ago, scientists assumed that religious behaviour was simply the product of a person's socialisation - or "nurture". But more recent studies, including those on adult twins who were raised apart, suggest genes contribute about 40% of the variability in a person's religiousness.

But it is not clear how that contribution changes with age. A few studies on children and teenagers - with biological or adoptive parents - show the children tend to mirror the religious beliefs and behaviours of the parents with whom they live. That suggests genes play a small role in religiousness at that age.

Now, researchers led by Laura Koenig, a psychology graduate student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, US, have tried to tease apart how the effects of nature and nurture vary with time. Their study suggests that as adolescents grow into adults, genetic factors become more important in determining how religious a person is, while environmental factors wane.

Religious discussions

The team gave questionnaires to 169 pairs of identical twins - 100% genetically identical - and 104 pairs of fraternal twins - 50% genetically identical - born in Minnesota.

The twins, all male and in their early 30s, were asked how often they currently went to religious services, prayed, and discussed religious teachings. This was compared with when they were growing up and living with their families. Then, each participant answered the same questions regarding their mother, father, and their twin.

The twins believed that when they were younger, all of their family members - including themselves - shared similar religious behaviour. But in adulthood, however, only the identical twins reported maintaining that similarity. In contrast, fraternal twins were about a third less similar than they were as children.

"That would suggest genetic factors are becoming more important and growing up together less important," says team member Matt McGue, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota.
Empty nests

Michael McCullough, a psychologist at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, US, agrees. "To a great extent, you can't be who you are when you're living under your parents' roof. But once you leave the nest, you can begin to let your own preferences and dispositions shape your behaviour," he told New Scientist.

"Maybe, ultimately, we all decide what we're most comfortable with, and it may have more to do with our own makeup than how we were treated when we were adolescents," says McGue.

About a dozen studies have shown that religious people tend to share other personality traits, although it is not clear whether these arise from genetic or environmental factors. These include the ability to get along well with others and being conscientious, working hard, being punctual, and controlling one's impulses.

But McGue says the new work suggests that being raised in a religious household may affect a person's long-term psychological state less than previously thought. But he says the influence from this early socialisation may re-emerge later on, when the twins have families of their own. He also points out that the finding may not be universal because the research focused on a single population of US men.

Journal reference: Journal of Personality (vol 73, p 471)

Comment: It is difficult to know from this article whether the research in question identified traits that correspond to organised religion, or whether they were looking at traits that might be identified with souled individuals. Going to church to follow a ritual that one doesn't understand, or praying to a God for favours, are quite in the character of the organic portal. Without knowing how the researchers define "religiousness", it is hard to put this data in context.

Without knowing how many of these twins support Bush and his invasion of Iraq or believe in the necessity of bringing the Gospel to the heathen through missionary work, it is hard to know if the genetic links they have possibly discovered are related to some quest for higher knowledge or self-calming and self-justification.

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Delay And Company

The G.O.P. leader's troubles mount, with new questions about his dealings with the former aide who helped build his political machine
Monday, Mar. 21, 2005 Issue

Ed Buckham's name was one you didn't hear much outside the secluded corridor where he worked on the first floor of the Capitol. But in that suite, which houses the majority whip's offices, Buckham was far more than an ordinary congressional aide in the three heady years following the Republican takeover of the House in 1994. Thanks to an unusually close and trusting relationship with his boss, Tom DeLay's chief of staff quietly became one of the most powerful people in Washington. "He was the guy DeLay turned to when he made a final decision," recalls a former aide to a member of the House Republican leadership, "and even after he made the final decision, the guy who could talk him out of it." What even fewer people outside that office knew was that the two shared a bond that transcended power and politics: Buckham, a licensed nondenominational minister, was also DeLay's pastor. For a while, in DeLay's early days as whip, they organized daily voluntary prayer sessions for the staff--until it began making some aides uncomfortable. After that, according to two sources who worked in the office at the time, the two of them frequently prayed together privately, joining hands in DeLay's office.

Buckham shared not only DeLay's religious faith but also his audacious vision for harnessing the financial and political clout of business and conservative interests to carry out the G.O.P. agenda and increase its majority in Congress. DeLay offered lobbyists the best seats they had ever had at the table, a say in legislative and political strategy, on the understanding that they in return would pour millions into DeLay's favored causes and candidates. In addition, he threatened to shut out lobbying shops that employed Democrats. In Washington that seamless coordination between his office and the lobbying corridor of K Street has become known as DeLay Inc. It developed the muscle to push or block pretty much everything DeLay asked for, from protecting tax breaks for low-wage garment manufacturers on the Northern Mariana Islands (where DeLay spent New Year's Day 1998 with his wife and Buckham) to creating a Medicare prescription-drug plan that critics say is a better deal for pharmaceutical companies than it is for seniors.

Now the machinery that DeLay and his pastor built threatens to derail DeLay. He was slapped three times last year by the House ethics committee for violations of House rules, and finds himself potentially facing more serious trouble on multiple fronts. Each day seems to bring another embarrassing headline and more lawmakers' being caught up in allegations of impropriety that surround the lobbyists--many, like Buckham, former DeLay staff members--who have traded on their access to him. [...]

The political operation that DeLay and Buckham built pushed hard against the boundaries of campaign-finance laws--and on occasion overstepped them. The National Republican Congressional Committee agreed last year to pay a $280,000 fine for improperly transferring $500,000 in 1999 to an outside organization to run radio ads against Democrats. Buckham had convinced the Republican Party to make the donation to the group. Although he maintained that he was merely a fund raiser for the organization, his wife was on its payroll (earning $59,000 in 1997), its truck was registered at his residence, and his lobbying business operated at the time from a town house the group owned. Democrats, howling that the whole operation was a front for DeLay's political machine, filed a racketeering lawsuit against the whip. They later settled, after DeLay spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. [...]

Buckham, originally from Nashville, Tenn., had come a long way from his first job on Capitol Hill, as an intern in the early 1980s, clipping newspapers and fetching coffee for the staff of the Senate Republican policy committee. He got to know DeLay during a seven-year hitch as executive director of the House Republican study committee, which was something of an idea factory for the G.O.P. during its wilderness days of what then seemed like perpetual minority status in the House. Together DeLay and Buckham worked to push their party to the right on issues like taxes, welfare and federal regulatory policy. When the Republicans took control of the House, Buckham moved over to DeLay's whip's office, staying three years before he announced he needed to spend more time with his wife and four children.

But even at an official distance, while Buckham built his own operation, he became more deeply involved than ever with DeLay. "[Buckham] was always there, ever present," recalls a former aide to then Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose office never completely trusted DeLay's. Buckham put DeLay's wife Christine on the payroll of his thriving Alexander Strategy Group from 1998 to 2002, according to DeLay's financial-disclosure forms. Buckham also hired Tony Rudy--who had been DeLay's press secretary, policy director, deputy chief of staff and general counsel--as well as Karl Gallant, who had served as executive director of DeLay's political-action committee. Buckham's firm has a long and lucrative client list, which, according to its website, includes the American Bankers Association, BellSouth, Eli Lilly, Fannie Mae, R.J. Reynolds and Time Warner (parent of this magazine).

For most Republicans, the occasional controversy used to seem a small price to pay for the prodigious amounts that DeLay was raising and contributing to their campaigns. Had it not been for the six additional seats that Texas picked up in the House last year, thanks to a redistricting plan engineered by DeLay, George W. Bush would not have been the first re-elected President since F.D.R. to gain seats in Congress. And DeLay has always been solicitous of G.O.P. Representatives as individuals--adjusting the House schedule to accommodate a daughter's recital, knowing who needs a place to smoke and who is having a family crisis, making sure there is pizza in his office to tide members over during late-night votes. Given the majority leader's high profile in the intensely partisan atmosphere of the House, many Republicans agree with DeLay spokesman Dan Allen that attacks to some extent "come with the territory."

But much of the goodwill toward DeLay has begun to evaporate over the past year, as controversies have piled up like bricks in a wall around him. A Texas grand jury is examining allegations that one of his committees sent illegal corporate contributions to Republican candidates in 2002 legislative races there. In September it handed up indictments for three people, including the head of DeLay's political-action committee, and Travis County district attorney Ronnie Earle has not ruled out the possibility of charges against DeLay. [...]

But what has most angered Representatives about DeLay was a vote he engineered in December in the House Republican conference to change its rules so that G.O.P. congressional leaders could keep their posts even if they were indicted for a crime--a move that was clearly designed to protect his power if the Texas case took a bad turn. The move blindsided even Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. The conference withdrew the change in the ensuing political firestorm but left in place the proposal, now being opposed by Democrats, that would make it impossible for the ethics committee to launch an investigation against any Representatives without a majority vote.

So, will DeLay survive? Capitol Hill has seen a fair share of its leaders fall to scandal over the past 15 years or so, and insiders will tell you there are signs to watch for. While a sense of foreboding is undeniably in the air, Republicans still seem fairly solidly behind the leader to whom they owe so much. [...]

A more ominous sign for DeLay: those who might succeed him have begun quietly positioning themselves to make a move if the opportunity arises, sources say. Among the possible successors most frequently mentioned are majority whip Roy Blount of Missouri, National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Tom Reynolds of New York, House Education Committee chairman John Boehner and leadership chairman Rob Portman of Ohio. Not so long ago, it looked as though the speakership would be DeLay's for the taking after Hastert left the post, probably after the next election. But if DeLay is doing any praying in his office these days, it's probably to hold on to the job he has.

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DeLay's Dirty Dozen

A scandalous round-up of Tom DeLay's flagrant trespasses against decency
March 16, 2005

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been a busy man these last few years. Whether bribing congressmen, threatening political opponents, vacationing with lobbyists, or gutting House ethics rules, it's been hard to keep up with all the Hammer's activities. Here are 12 recent highlights from DeLay's illustrious career:

Delay Raises Corporate Cash for TRMPAC: DeLay is embroiled in a scandal in Texas for his active participation in illegally funneling corporate funds to assist state political campaigns. DeLay's political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), is under criminal investigation for using corporate money to finance Texas campaigns. DeLay has tried to distance himself from the group, but documents show DeLay "personally forwarded at least one large check" to the group and was "in direct contact with lobbyists for some of the nation's largest companies" on TRMPAC's behalf. [Source: NYT, 3/10/05; Salon, 10/04/04]

Delay Bribes Congressman to Vote for Medicare: DeLay has admitted offering to endorse Sen. Nick Smith's (R-Mich.) son Brad, who was running for Congress at the time, in exchange for Smith's "yea" vote on the Medicare bill. His actions violated House rules and earned DeLay a "public admonishment" from the Ethics Committee. Smith originally alleged – and then retracted after pressure from House leaders – that DeLay also offered a $100,000 bribe for his vote. DeLay extended the role call on the Medicare bill for nearly three hours in order "to avoid an embarrassing loss." [Slate, 10/1/04; WP, 10/1/04]

Delay Uses Taxpayer Money for Partisan Stunt: The House ethics panel rebuked DeLay for using government resources to help locate a private plane he thought was carrying Texas Democratic legislators. DeLay was trying to force the legislators back to the capitol so he could push through his "bitterly disputed congressional redistricting." The ethics report cited House rules that bar members from taking "any official action on the basis of the partisan affiliation...of the individuals involved" and said DeLay's behavior raised "serious concerns under such "standards of conduct." [WP, 10/7/04]

Delay Pays for Golf Tournaments with Cash Meant for Kids: DeLay used a children's charity, Celebrations for Children Inc., as cover for collecting soft money from anonymous interest groups, some of which was used for "dinners, a golf tournament, a rock concert, Broadway tickets and other fundraising events" at the Republican convention in New York. Because the money was supposedly for charity, companies wishing to curry favor with DeLay were able to do so without revealing themselves as campaign donors. Federal laws governing tax-exempt charities allow no more than an insubstantial portion of a group's revenue to be spent on activities other than the charity's main stated purpose. [CBS, 11/14/03; WP, 3/24/04]

Delay Promises 'Seat At Table' for Donor: In one of its three public rebukes, the House Ethics Committee cited the belief on the part of executives at an energy company, Westar Energy Inc., that a $56,500 contribution to a political action committee associated with DeLay would get them a "seat at the table" where key energy legislation was being drafted. DeLay also participated in Westar's golf fundraiser at The Homestead resort in the summer of 2002, " just as the House-Senate conference on major energy legislation ... was about to get underway." [WP, 10/7/04]

Delay Takes Money from Texas Prison Company with Legislation Pending: DeLay "took a $100,000 check from a private prison company" – the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) – at a fundraiser for his children's charity, the DeLay Foundation for Kids. CCA – whose 20-year history has been "fraught with malfeasance, mismanagement, and abuse" – was part of an ongoing lobby for a bill that would privatize up to half of Texas's jails. DeLay is known for wielding major influence over the Republican-led legislature that will decide on the matter. [Knight Ridder, 11/30/04; Texas Observer, 6/6/03]

Delay Blocks Legislation for Partisan Vendetta: In 1999, DeLay received a "private rebuke" for threatening retaliation against the Electronic Industries Association when the trade group named a Democrat to head its Washington operation. To punish the group, DeLay stopped two uncontroversial trade bills that would have benefited the EIA and told the association it would lose all GOP access unless it hired a Republican instead. The group still hired the Democrat, but a little later, the EIA quietly hired a former House Republican staff member who promptly showed up at a fundraiser for DeLay's ARMPAC. [Texas Observer, 2/4/00; Slate, 12/5/98]

Delay Takes Shady Donations for Legal Defense Fund: The list of recent donors to DeLay's legal defense fund includes two lawmakers placed on the House Ethics Committee this year (they replaced conservatives who were purged for being critical of DeLay), and corporations implicated in DeLay's alleged fundraising violations. Corporate donors include Bacardi U.S.A., the rum maker that has also been indicted in the Texas investigation, and Reliant Energy, "another major contributor to a Texas political action committee formed by Mr. DeLay that is the focus of the criminal inquiry." In December, DeLay was forced to return funds from registered lobbyists because those contributions violated House ethics rules. [NYT, 3/13/05; Time, 3/13/05]

Delay Leaves Ethics Behind On European Vacation: DeLay enjoyed a luxurious vacation at the Four Seasons Hotel in London in mid-2000, paid for by an Indian tribe and a gambling services company, both of which opposed gambling legislation DeLay voted against two months later. The payment was funneled through lobbyist Jack Abramoff, best known for teaming up with right-wing religious fundamentalist Ralph Reed to close down a Texas casino operated by the Tigua Indians in 2002, then persuading the tribe to pay the two of them $4.2 million to lobby Washington lawmakers, including DeLay, to reopen it. According to expense accounts obtained by the Journal, Abramoff financed DeLay and DeLay's staff's stay at the Four Seasons hotel to the tune of $4,285.35. The total reimbursement for expenses in London was $13,318.50. [WP, 3/12/05; Raw Story, 2/25/05; WP, 9/29/04]

Delay Leaves House Rules Behind on Asian Vacation: DeLay accepted an expense-paid trip to South Korea which, in direct violation of House rules, was paid for by a South Korean lobbying group. The Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, a group registered with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, was created with help from DeLay's former chief of staff. The cost to send DeLay, his wife and three of his lawmaker friends to Seoul for three days was $106,921, the fourth largest cost for any single trip taken by lawmakers between January 2000 and September 2004. [WP, 3/10/05]

Delay Kicks Ethics out of House: DeLay and his allies in the House have sought to cripple the House Ethics Committee. The committee, which rebuked DeLay three times last year, was purged of its most "responsible" members last month and is currently "paralyzed" by a proposed rules change that "would prevent the committee from launching any investigation without the support of at least one Republican-a restriction designed to protect the majority leader." [WP, 2/5/05; WP, 10/7/04; Time, 3/13/05]

Delay Tries to Change Rules to Protect Power: DeLay was the driving force behind the decision by House leaders to abandon an 11-year-old party rule that "required leaders to step aside temporarily if indicted." The idea was dropped only after rank-and-file lawmakers complained "the party was sending the wrong message." [NYT, 11/18/04; WP, 3/11/05]

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Bush courts controversy with Wolfowitz for World Bank
17 March 2005 0259 hrs - AFP

WASHINGTON : US President George W. Bush risked inflaming global opinion by putting forward his deeply controversial deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, to become World Bank chief.

In a move that could undermine the new thaw in transatlantic relations, Bush said he wanted Donald Rumsfeld's number two at the Pentagon to take over in a role that is central to global development.
Bush said he had already started telephoning foreign leaders to lobby for support for "my nominee" Wolfowitz and to explain "why I think Paul will be a strong president of the World Bank".

The US president highlighted Wolfowitz's experience at the US State Department and the Pentagon, and as a previous ambassador to Indonesia.

"And Paul is committed to development," said Bush, describing the hawkish neoconservative as a "compassionate, decent man who will do a fine job in the World Bank".

Current World Bank president James Wolfensohn is to stand down this summer. Traditionally, the United States nominates the World Bank president and Europe the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Wolfowitz, 61, incurred the wrath of many in Europe and around the world as a prime mover behind the war in Iraq.

He is also held in deep suspicion as a central figure in the neoconservative movement, which wants the United States to impose its vision of liberal democracy and free-market economics on the world.

As president of the World Bank, Wolfowitz would lead 10,000 staff in Washington and around the world, overseeing a nine-billion-dollar annual aid budget which for many poor countries is a development lifeline.

But the institution has also been accused of backing grandiose development projects which have little economic worth, and of fostering poverty by driving nations deeper into debt. [...]

But Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation said that the Wolfowitz pick was a worrying pointer for Bush's foreign-policy intentions coming after the choice of another arch-hawk, John Bolton, to be United Nations ambassador.

"The message is that neoconservatism maintains a tenacious, tight grip on US foreign policy and that the world's most important multilateral institutions need to be disciplined to be responsive to a more narrow American parochialism in global affairs," he commented.

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World reacts to Wolfowitz nomination with skepticism and alarm
11:59 PM EST Mar 16

PARIS (AP) - The nomination of hawkish U.S. Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to lead the World Bank has sparked reactions ranging from official reserve to skepticism and outright denunciation.

Wolfowitz, nominated Wednesday by U.S. President George W. Bush, is widely seen as a key instigator in the American push to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. International organizations worried about the nominee's hawkish politics and questioned whether he is the right man for the job.

Bush, who has sought to mend ties with European allies that opposed the Iraq war, called French President Jacques Chirac to tell him the news.

Chirac, one of the staunchest critics of the war, "took note of this candidacy," his office said, adding that "France would examine it in the spirit of friendship between France and United States and with an eye on the capital mission of the World Bank to the service of development."

One of those most vocally opposed to the idea was United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's top poverty adviser.

"It's time for other candidates to come forward that have experience in development," Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and an Annan adviser, said in a speech to the UN Economic and Social Council.

"This is a position on which hundreds of millions of people depend for their lives," he said. "Let's have a proper leadership of professionalism." The UN had no comment.

Development and anti-poverty groups joined the chorus of criticism.

"As well as lacking any relevant experience, he is a deeply divisive figure who is unlikely to move the bank toward a more pro-poor agenda," said Patrick Watt, policy officer at British charity Action Aid.

Dave Timms, spokesman for London-based World Development Network, called it a "terrifying appointment" that highlighted a lack of democracy in major lending institutions. A European traditionally heads the International Monetary fund, while an American takes the helm at the World Bank.

"You can't have a situation where rich countries lecture developing countries about democracy and then aren't prepared to exercise democracy in this kind of appointment."

A spokesman from the British government's Department for International Development said the nomination had been noted, adding: "The U.K. believes that broad support of the membership, including from developing country clients of the bank group is key for the successful leadership of this institution in coming years."

Sweden's minister of International Development Co-operation Carin Jaemtin, said she "very skeptical" with the choice, telling Swedish news agency TT, she had hoped for a candidate who would carry out the policies of outgoing bank president James Wolfensohn.

Wolfowitz, 61, was among the most forceful of those in the Bush administration in arguing that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and he had predicted that Americans would be welcomed as liberators rather than occupiers once they toppled Saddam's government.

Wolfowitz's notoriety as a hardliner made it difficult to cheer his nomination to head the World Bank, said Nigerian newspaper columnist Pini Jason. He said it could a "bad omen" for the Third World.

"It is very likely that George Bush will want to link World Bank policies to his own vision of democratizing the world: Democracy according to the White House," said Jason, who writes for the Vanguard newspaper.

Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi agreed.

"The appointment is another provocation from the U.S. administration and the neo-conservatives to the Third World, especially the Arabs and Muslims."

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Shareholders' dismay at lack of consultation
By Alan Beattie in London and Edward Alden in Washington
Additional reporting by Andrew Balls
Published: March 16 2005 20:49 | Last updated: March 16 2005 20:49
Surprise, and in some quarters dismay, was a common response in the World Bank's other large shareholder countries to Paul Wolfowitz's nomination.

The lack of consultation before the announcement meant that European governments - who collectively hold about 30 per cent of the votes on the bank's executive board to the US's 17 per cent - were slow to react. "There are going to be a lot of very unhappy people, but they may be as upset about the process as about the person," said one European official. "They were supposed to consult us and there was no consultation."

Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, said that Mr Wolfowitz was "very distinguished and experienced internationally, and if his appointment is confirmed we look forward to working with him".

But Downing Street added that the UK would wait for discussions within Europe and with the US before making a decision on whether to support the nomination. The German finance ministry declined to discuss the matter.

Privately, European officials in Washington and bank staff have expressed concern that the US would put forward such a controversial candidate for the post. One concern is that his appointment would make it more difficult for the World Bank to operate effectively in the Middle East.

Many development campaigners were in no doubt. "We consider the choice of Wolfowitz utterly inappropriate to lead such a key institution," said Jeff Powell, co-ordinator of the Bretton Woods Project, a watchdog non-governmental organisation. "This appointment will only serve to confirm suspicions that the World Bank is a tool of US foreign policy."

Clare Short, who resigned as the British government's development secretary over the Iraq war, said the Europeans should prevent the appointment, just as the US blocked the first European choice for managing director of the International Monetary Fund, the German finance secretary Caio Koch-Weser.

"But I fear they will grudgingly accept the nomination," she said. "There is a feeling that we have to get on with America."

One common concern was whether the White House was trying to turn the World Bank into an agency of the "war on terror", assuming a mission of democratisation and adopting political criteria for lending. If so, it may find itself with an uphill task.

Under outgoing president James Wolfensohn, the bank has moved towards rewarding "good governance" - rooting out corruption and maladministration - in developing countries. But its rules prevent it making political choices with its lending, such as shunning undemocratic governments. Several years ago the bank resumed lending to Iran, one of President George W. Bush's "axis of evil" nations, overriding the objections of the US.

Comment: We don't know what the big surprise is, unless they really had their hopes up that U2's Bono would take the job. Were they blinded by Bush's trip through Europe last month?

The Bush Reich has an agenda, and there is nothing that the rest of the world can do via international organisations to stop it. There is no negotiation with the Beast - Bush has shown this over and over again in his first four years on the job. The Bush plan is to push the polarisation of the world as far as possible as it imposes a dictatorship on the US and its military. These people are driven by an apocalyptic vision, that of the end times and the return of Jesus Christ, and those who don't believe the rhetoric are willing to use the gullible for their own nefarious ends.

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Oil Scales New High Over $57
March 17, 2005

LONDON - Oil prices scaled fresh highs on Thursday, forcing OPEC to consider a second output increase just a day after its deal to raise supplies failed to halt crude's record-breaking advance.

U.S. light crude broke above $57 for the first time, gaining $1.04 to $57.50 a barrel. London's Brent crude, benchmark for European imports, rose $1.12 to a record $56 a barrel.

"It's not in our hands, prices are determined by the market," said UAE Oil Minister Mohamed al-Hamli. [...]

Mainstream investors are diversifying into energy and commodities markets, driving U.S. crude on average to $49.16 so far this year, up $7.70 from 2004's average and $18 higher than the mean for 2003. [...]

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A Warning From Auschwitz: How Do You Shoot Babies?
By: David Edwards
Media Lens

Facing execution for his role in the murder of more than 1 million people, many of them children, Auschwitz commandant, Rudolf Hoess, reflected on his life and works:

"Today, I deeply regret that I did not spend more time with my family."
(Hoess, 'Auschwitz, The Nazis and the Final Solution,' BBC2, February 15, 2005)

Hoess of course lies at the extreme end of the spectrum, but his inability to recognise the extraordinary horror of what he had done is by no means exceptional. Mike Wallace of CBS News interviewed a participant in the American massacre of Vietnamese women and children at My Lai.

"Q. You're married?
A. Right
Q. Children?
A. Two.
Q. How old?
A. The boy is two and a half, and the little girl is a year and a half.
Q. Obviously, the question comes to my mind... the father of two little kids like that... how can he shoot babies?
A. I didn't have the little girl. I just had the little boy at the time.
Q. Uh-huh... How do you shoot babies?
A. I don't know. It's just one of those things."
(Quoted, Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority, Pinter & Martin, 1974, p.202)

One of the delusions promoted by our society is the idea that great destructiveness is most often rooted in great cruelty and hatred. In reality, evil is not merely banal, it is often free of any sense of being evil - there may be no sense of moral responsibility for suffering at all.

We are all familiar with the words that typically accompany the shrug of the shoulders when someone is asked: "How could you do it?" Time and again during the war on Iraq we have heard obviously well-meaning US and British military personnel insisting that they were just doing their jobs. A typical response is: "I'm just doing what I'm paid to do."

Repeated often enough, these responses can even come to seem reasonable. But consider, by contrast, these comments made by US soldier Camilo Mejia who refused to return to his unit in Iraq after taking leave in October 2003:

"People would ask me about my war experiences and answering them took me back to all the horrors - the firefights, the ambushes, the time I saw a young Iraqi dragged by his shoulders through a pool of his own blood or an innocent man was decapitated by our machine gun fire. The time I saw a soldier broken down inside because he killed a child, or an old man on his knees, crying with his arms raised to the sky, perhaps asking God why we had taken the lifeless body of his son. I thought of the suffering of a people whose country was in ruins and who were further humiliated by the raids, patrols and curfews of an occupying army.

"And I realized that none of the reasons we were told about why we were in Iraq turned out to be true... I realized that I was part of a war that I believed was immoral and criminal, a war of aggression, a war of imperial domination. I realized that acting upon my principles became incompatible with my role in the military, and I decided that I could not return to Iraq." (Mejia, 'Regaining My Humanity')

Normally, the implicit assumption is that signing a contract and being paid to do a job absolves us of all further moral responsibility. We have signed an agreement to do as we are told - an ostensibly innocuous act. If the people with whom we made this agreement then choose to send us to incinerate and dismember civilians, that is their moral responsibility, not ours.

The psychologist Stanley Milgram noted that this is a classic evasion used by people unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions:

"The key to the behaviour of subjects [willing to torture and kill on command] lies not in pent-up anger or aggression but in the nature of their relationship to authority. They have given themselves to the authority; they see themselves as instruments for the execution of his wishes; once so defined, they are unable to break free." (Milgram, op., cit, p.185)

Other studies, on the psychology of torturers, have come to similar conclusions. Lindsey Williams, a Clinical Psychologist, notes:

"...apart from traits of authoritarianism and obedience, and ideological sympathy for the government, there is little evidence that torturers are markedly different from their peers - at least, until the point where they are recruited and trained as torturers." (Williams, Amnesty, May/June 1995, p.10)

The fundamentally immoral act, then - the disaster that clears the way to vast horrors in the complete absence of a sense of responsibility - is the simple one of accepting that we are obliged to 'do as we are told'. [...]

Comment: Organized murder and torture on a massive scale happen all because people feel obliged to do as they are told? That's it?

We do agree that those in positions of authority - "experts", if you will - are highly regarded among the masses. We have been programmed since birth to accept "expert" opinions from everyone from doctors to political leaders. For example, the reader may consider this article and tend to believe what is written. With a quote from a psychologist, it must be true, right? The reader may not even bother to read any books on the subject matter discussed or do any other kind of research to verify for herself that what is said actually reflects reality.

Another example would be the large percentage of people who are willing to believe the lies of their leaders. A prime example is George W. Bush. Bush lied about Saddam's WMD's. There are no WMD's in Iraq. But how many of us heard the argument that if the president of the United States and his lapdog, Tony Blair, claim that Iraq should be invaded, well then we should all go along with their plans even if they may not be able to show us any evidence for reasons of national security? We are so programmed to trust authority figures that we will actually justify their actions for them even when we are aware on some level that they are being deceptive.

While the need to "follow orders" is certainly strong, think about what you would do if your boss came up to you and asked you to do something highly illegal. If you say no, you might lose your job - but you know that what is being asked of you is illegal and goes against every fiber of your being. Would you still follow orders?

What if the request was to commit acts of murder and torture on others who did nothing to you? Would you still follow orders?

Obviously, the need to follow our orders cannot be the only reason that "good people" are driven to do bad things. Consider for a moment the idea that many of those around us who we believe to be "good people" are nothing of the sort. The following excerpts are from Laura Knight-Jadczyk's article on psychopaths:

What is very disturbing about psychopaths, besides their sense of special entitlement, is the complete lack of empathy for normal people, for "antisocials (psychopaths) seem to lack a conscience, feeling little or no empathy for the people whose lives they touch...the antisocial effortlessly resists all regulation, unable to see beyond his self-interest or to adopt standards of right versus wrong." [Black, XIII]. [...]

There is much to the psychopathic personality which is baffling and disturbing. 1 in about 25-30 people are psychopathic (also known as sociopaths or anti-social -- the correct title being psychopath.) [...]

They often come across as "arrogant, shameless braggarts--self-assured, opinionated, domineering, and cocky. They love to have power and control over others and seem unable to believe that people have valid opinions different from theirs. They appear charismatic or 'electrifying' to some people." [Hare, 38]. [...]

"The main lesson I have learnt is that when dealing with a sociopath, the normal rules of etiquette do not apply. You are dealing with someone who has no empathy, no conscience, no remorse, and no guilt...It is a completely different mindset. Words like 'predator' and 'evil' are often used." [...]

Psychopaths will not only deny the past and trivialize it, but will avoid answering your questions directly, and even if they seem to answer them -- you can be sure that it's not the answer you were looking for. It has been said that even when they do give you a straight answer, the real issue will never be addressed by them, although they may even claim to be honourable when it suits them. [...] Often they are completely forthright about the matter, calmly stating that they no have no sense of guilt, are not sorry for the pain and destruction they have caused, and that there is no reason for them to be concerned." [...]

Those of you who have read the segments of the Adventures Series about psychopathy may recall the following excerpts:

Hare writes:

What makes psychopaths different from all others is the remarkable ease with which they lie, the pervasiveness of their deception, and the callousness with which they carry it out.

But there is something else about the speech of psychopaths that is equally puzzling: their frequent use of contradictory and logically inconsistent statements that usually escape detection. Recent research on the language of psychopaths provides us with some important clues to this puzzle, as well as to the uncanny ability psychopaths have to move words - and people - around so easily. []

Here are some examples:

When asked if he had ever committed a violent offense, a man serving time for theft answered, "No, but I once had to kill someone." [...]

From an interview with serial killer Elmer Wayne Henley:

Interviewer: "You make it out that you're the victim of a serial killer, but if you look at the record you're a serial killer."
"I'm not."
I: "You're not a serial killer?"
"I'm not a serial killer."
I: You're saying you're not a serial killer now, but you've serially killed."
"Well, yeah, that's semantics."

Now re-read the exchange between Mike Wallace and an American soldier who participated in the My Lai massacre:

Q. You're married?
A. Right
Q. Children?
A. Two.
Q. How old?
A. The boy is two and a half, and the little girl is a year and a half.
Q. Obviously, the question comes to my mind... the father of two little kids like that... how can he shoot babies?
A. I didn't have the little girl. I just had the little boy at the time.
Q. Uh-huh... How do you shoot babies?
A. I don't know. It's just one of those things.

One in twenty men and one in one hundred women are psychopaths. This ratio certainly provides for an ample number of soldiers who may be psychopaths, especially since the military can be a source of power and influence. Perhaps we have found an important additional explanation for the atrocious acts many people are willing to commit. This explanation is certainly not without scientific basis, as Dr. Robert Hare writes in Without Conscience:

Several years ago two graduate students and I submitted a paper to a scientific journal. The paper described an experiment in which we had used a biomedical recorder to monitor electrical activity in the brains of several groups of adult men while they performed a language task. This activity was traced on chart paper as a series of waves, referred to as an electroencephalogram.

The editor returned our paper with his apologies. His reason, he told us: "Frankly, we found some of the brain wave patterns depicted in the paper very odd. Those EEGs couldn't have come from real people."

Some of the brain wave recordings were indeed odd, but we hadn't gathered them from aliens and we certainly hadn't made them up. We had obtained them from a class of individuals found in every race, culture, society, and walk of life. Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought. These often charming - but always deadly - individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths. [Hare, Without Conscience]

It seems psychopaths are very different from "normal" folks. We are told that the number of soldiers who have returned from Iraq only to seek asylum to prevent their return to the Middle East for another bloody round is extremely small, though growing. Is it possible that the military and intelligence services are huge employers for psychopaths? More importantly, why is it that we automatically assume that everyone else is just like us, even when confronted with their severe lack of empathy, conscience, or regret over terrible crimes they have committed? Perhaps the answer is the same reason why we believe we must obey authority at any cost.

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G.I. gets 45 days for assault of Iraqis
The Associated Press
7:23 p.m. ET March 15, 2005

FORT HOOD, Texas - An Army platoon leader was sentenced Tuesday to 45 days in a military prison for his role in forcing three Iraqi civilians into the Tigris River.

Army 1st Lt. Jack Saville also must forfeit $2,000 of his military salary each month for six months, military judge Col. Theodore Dixon ruled.

Prosecutors had recommended Saville, who chose a nonjury trial, be discharged from the Army.

"I hope to use these experiences for greater good," Saville, a 25-year-old West Point graduate, read from a statement.

Saville pleaded guilty Monday to assault and other crimes for forcing two curfew violators into the river at gunpoint in January 2004 near Samarra. One of the men allegedly drowned. [...]

Comment: Nothing says, "We value freedom and democracy" to the people of Iraq like sentencing a US soldier to 45 days in a military prison and a fine of $12,000 for the murder of an innocent Iraqi civilian. Is $12,000 really the going rate for the life of an Iraqi these days?! Sheesh!

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Interrogator disciplined over techniques now teaching soldiers
New York Daily News
Wed, Mar. 16, 2005

WASHINGTON - An ex-Army interrogator punished for sexually humiliating detainees at the Guantanamo prison is now teaching soldiers interrogation techniques, the New York Daily News has learned.

Former Staff Sgt. Jeannette Arocho-Burkart, 37, is an instructor at the Army Intelligence School in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., despite being reprimanded in 2003 for her sexually taunting tactics that included smearing fake menstrual blood on terror suspects, according to four sources who knew her there. [...]

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'Abusive techniques' at Gitmo had Navy brass talking pullout
The Boston Globe
March 16, 2005

WASHINGTON - Top U.S. Navy officials were so outraged at abusive interrogation techniques being used at the Guantanamo Bay prison in late 2002 that they considered removing Navy interrogators from the operation, according to a portion of a recent Pentagon report that has not been made public.

A top Navy psychologist reported to his supervisor in December 2002 that interrogators at Guantanamo were starting to use "abusive techniques." In another incident that same month, the Defense Department's joint investigative service, which includes Navy investigators, formally "disassociated" itself from the interrogation of a detainee, after learning that he had been subjected to particularly abusive and degrading treatment.

The two events prompted Navy law enforcement officials to debate pulling out of the Guantanamo operation entirely unless the interrogation techniques were restricted. The Navy's general counsel, Alberto Mora, told colleagues that the techniques were "unlawful and unworthy of the military services."

The previously undisclosed events were revealed at a hearing of the Senate Armed Forces Committee Tuesday. The disclosures shed new light on the military services' objections to the Bush administration's policies on how to interrogate prisoners from the Afghanistan war. [...]

Comment: Is this report just more damage control to protect the US Navy, or a sign of cracks in the facade of the US war machine? Note the following comments from the January 25, 2005 Signs Page regarding the article Pentagon Attack Hits Navy Hard:

Of all the 9/11 investigators, we know of none that have broached one of the most pertinent questions: if the Pentagon was targeted and struck by some sort of missile (as most of the evidence suggests), how did the planners come to their decision as to which part to hit? How did they decide who would die and who would live? Why was the ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) chosen to bear the brunt of the attack? Was it just bad luck that "four special, highly classified, electronically secure areas" were destroyed and that many Navy "communications technicians with cryptology training" died?

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Soldiers killed in Iraqi checkpoint blast
Thursday 17 March 2005, 1:46 Makka Time, 22:46 GMT

A car bomb has exploded at an Iraqi army checkpoint, killing two soldiers in the town of Baquba northeast of Baghdad, police and hospital officials say.

The explosion happened in the northeastern Mafraq district at 9am (0600 GMT), they said.

"Two national guardsmen were killed," said Dr Fuad Mahmud Ibrahim.

Another two people were wounded, one of them a student, medical sources added. [...]

Iraq violence

Meanwhile, the violence continued unabated across Iraq on Wednesday.

In Mosul, gunmen killed a policemen near his house in the north of the city.

A number of civilians were injured in a car bombing which targeted a US military patrol in Abu Ghraib.

Baghdad International Airport was hit by a number of mortar rounds and explosions were heard in the airport's perimeter.

And in Diwaniya, an Iraqi army unit arrested a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, Shaikh Yunis Mahdi. [...]

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Britain will likely be asked to fill gap in Iraq left by Italy
16 March 2005 1536 hrs - AFP

LONDON : More British troops will probably be asked to go to Iraq to help fill the void left by Italy's proposed withdrawal of its 3,000 troops there, a British military expert said.

Charles Heyman, a senior defense analyst for Jane's Information Group, was quoted by Britain's Press Association news agency as saying it would cost tens of millions of pounds (dollars) for Britain to supply the extra troops for six months.

A large number of the Italians are under British control in the southern half of Iraq, and finding replacements will be as much a problem for the British as it is for the United States, he was quoted as saying. [...]

"I think it's almost impossible for the Americans to produce another 3,000 extra troops. [...]

At present, there are around 8,000 British troops in total in Iraq. [...]

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The Lies of Eric Margolis
By | March 10, 2005

Opinion columnists perform an important public service when providing cogent arguments supported by factual information. This is true regardless of where the columnist falls out on the spectrum of opinion.

But when a columnist regularly demonizes one side of the Arab-Israeli conflict ¯ while resorting to outlandish conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated allegations ¯ the columnist has crossed the bounds of ethical journalism.

Case in point: HonestReporting Canada reports that the Toronto Sun's Eric Margolis, who has a long record of Israel-bashing, recently accused Israel of poisoning Yassir Arafat:

Arafat's convenient death removed a major obstacle to U.S.-Israeli plans. This writer continues to suspect Arafat was murdered by an untraceable nerve or blood toxin. He was being held prisoner by Israel in his Ramallah compound. (Feb. 13)

And this week (Feb. 20), Margolis likewise implied with no substantiation whatsoever that Israel may have murdered former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Observing that 'the professional expertise of the bombing strongly suggests a state intelligence agency,' Margolis names only one such likely agency in his column: 'Israel's Mossad.'

In a 1998 column, Margolis even propagated allegations (originally published in the Times of London) that Israeli scientists were working on an 'ethnic bomb' that would kill Arabs - while sparing Jews. Western scientists dismissed this claim ¯ embraced by the Arab media and lunatic-fringe ideologues ¯ as utter nonsense. Yet Margolis's column, which appeared in the Edmonton Sun and Ottawa Sun, quoted 'numerous reliable sources' who claimed, 'Israeli scientists are attempting to engineer deadly micro-organisms that only attack DNA within the cells of victims with distinctive Arab genes.'

Margolis, who appears often on Canadian TV, has also claimed 'a group of Likudniks' brought the US to war in Iraq, and that 'bloodthirsty neo-conservatives' with Israeli allegiance drive Washington policy.


Columnists such as Margolis whose material is clearly labeled as opinion do enjoy greater journalistic license than news reporters, but to responsible columnists and papers this license has real limits. The Gannett Corporation, which operates the largest newspaper group in North America, states in its Code of Ethics that

We will hold factual information in opinion columns and editorials to the same standards of accuracy as news stories.

And as James Hill, managing editor of the Washington Post Writers Group, has stated:

You have to hold columnists to the same standard as anyone at the newspaper. If a column writer is making egregious errors in the process of stating his or her opinion, eventually it's not the columnist who's doing that, it's the paper that's doing that.

Eric Margolis has established a pattern of violating this standard, promoting wholly unsubstantiated accusations against the State of Israel for allegedly perpetrating illegal, unethical and diabolical acts. Margolis has crossed the line of journalistic standards, and calls into question the credibility of his primary platform, the Toronto Sun.

Comment: Of all the syndicated columnists working for western newspapers, Mr. Margolis seems to be one of the rare few that is not afraid to tell it like it is. His columns are well researched, with very little overt bias and often appear on Signs of the Times because of the clarity and accuracy of his viewpoints. Although sometimes appearing to be restrained in the scope of what he can and can not say while working for a western media outlet, Mr. Margolis has gained the respect of the journalistic community for the most part because he is not afraid to stand up to the murderous and self-serving policies of the Israeli and American governments by shining the light of truth where other so-called journalists fear to tread.

In regards to the accusations of using unsubstantiated and biased allegations against the state of Israel, the interested reader might like to check out our ethnic specific weapons supplement or our recent article on the Mossad assassination of Rafik Hariri in order to make up their own mind as to whether Mr. Margolis is a liar or not.

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Arab democracy just an illusion?
Sun, March 13, 2005
By Eric Margolis -- Contributing Foreign Editor

THE BUSH administration is crowing about what it claims is "a wave of democracy and freedom" sweeping the Middle East. And it's all thanks to the invasion of Iraq, insists the White House, offering the umpteenth new rationale for going to war.

Just look: Iraq held an election of sorts under U.S. "guidance." Egypt's long-time ruler, Gen. Hosni Mubarak, says he will allow multi-party elections. Tunisia and Saudi Arabia recently held elections. Lebanon, rent by pro- and anti-Syrian protests, may soon hold new elections.

All this does look like the dawn of Arab democracy -- to those who don't know much about the region. Up close, the picture is less rosy.

Ironically, the man most responsible for pushing the Arab world towards political change is not George W. Bush, but his nemesis, Osama bin Laden.


For over a decade, bin Laden has agitated for the overthrow of the corrupt, despotic Arab regimes supported by the U.S., and their replacement by a traditional Islamic democratic consensus.

As bin Laden's anti-American insurgency gathers strength and resonates among the restive Arab masses, the Bush administration has urged the frightened kings and generals running Washington's client Arab regimes to make a show of democratic reforms to head off popular uprisings.

Most of these reforms are pure sham. Washington stage-managed Iraq's vote to empower Shia and Kurdish yes-men who will pretend to rule while the U.S. continues to run Iraq and pump its oil. Mubarak, the U.S.-backed military ruler of Egypt, is apparently grooming his son to take over under cover of rigged "open, multi-party" elections.

In October, Tunisia's U.S.-backed military dictator won "re-election" by a Soviet-style 94.5%. Saudi Arabia's recent vote was an empty exercise.

Lebanon's noisy anti-Syrian demonstrations, which Bush hailed a "democratic revolution," were staged by a minority of its citizens -- mostly anti-Syrian Maronite Christians and Druze.

Lebanon's largest ethnic group, Shia, strongly back both Syria's presence and Hezbollah, Lebanon's most popular political party. Mounting U.S. involvement in Lebanon risks re-igniting that nation's bloody, 15-year civil war.

The Arab world desperately needs democracy, rule of law, free speech and honest government. Ironically, even Israel's Arabs, though second-class citizens, enjoy more human and political rights than in many Arab states.

But most Arabs see Bush's "freedom" crusade as a cynical campaign to tighten U.S. control of the Mideast by ditching old-fashioned generals and monarchs for more modern, democratic-looking civilian regimes that still do Washington's bidding.

The Arab world's only truly free election was held in 1991 by Algeria's U.S.- and French-supported military regime. Islamic parties won a landslide. The military annulled the vote and jailed Islamist leaders -- backed by Washington and Paris.

It's likely any honest votes held in feudal Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, or military-run Egypt, Libya, and Syria, would produce similar results. [...]

Dangerous muddle

All this ham-handed U.S. political engineering may produce a dangerous muddle or even provoke collapse of pro-U.S. despots and their replacement by anti-U.S. revolutionary forces.

If Bush really wants real Mideast democracy, he should begin with Egypt, which contains a third of all Arabs, and is essentially a U.S. protectorate. End its military dictatorship, allow real political parties, a free press, and honest elections. Do not allow Egypt to get away with more sham elections. Set a sterling example for the democracy-deficient Muslim world.

The problem, unfortunately, is that the Arab world's most popular political figure is very likely bin Laden.

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Miscarriage blamed on stay in British cell
Mar. 16, 2005. 06:22 AM

Canadian claims she was held at Glasgow airport
Officials mocked Toronto woman, brother says

GLASGOW—Islamic groups are calling for an inquiry into the alleged mistreatment of a Toronto woman in a Scottish airport cell that caused her to miscarry her baby.

Marina Miraj, 30, a Canadian of Afghan descent, arrived at Glasgow International Airport Feb. 24 to visit her husband, a refugee living in Scotland.

Three months pregnant, Miraj says she was detained and questioned by immigration officials and left in a cell as she complained of pains. After more than two hours, immigration officers found she had fainted and rushed her to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in nearby Paisley.

The woman, whose two brothers and sister live in the Toronto area, was kept for observation for two days and continues to get treatment. But she isn't well enough to return home yet.

The Canadian High Commission in London said they were not aware of the case, but would be looking into the matter.

A spokesperson for the British Home Office said: "We cannot comment on individual cases. Those seeking to enter the U.K. are assessed according to immigration rules, which are publicly available.

"Members of the immigration service treat all passengers with respect, regardless of their ethnic background. If a passenger complains of feeling unwell, or there are health concerns during the consideration of their case, appropriate medical attention would immediately be sought."

Mohammad Asif, president of the Scottish Afghan Society and a former journalist who fled the country during the Taliban era, spoke on Miraj's behalf because she's still too distraught about losing her first child.

Miraj "arrived and was pulled aside because she wears a Muslim hijab," Asif said in an interview. "She told immigration she was having stomach pains, she was panicking."

Asif said Miraj was carrying a letter from a Toronto lawyer proposing that she be allowed to stay permanently in Britain.

Ashoor Miraj, Marani's older brother who lives in Toronto, was very upset about his sister's situation.

"Her baby is gone, for no reason," he told the Toronto Star's Priya Ramanujam.

Ashoor isn't surprised his sister was questioned on arriving in Glasgow. After being questioned at great length on different occasions when entering the United States, he said he has grown used to it. What he can't understand is why his sister was left unattended and alone. "I think the problem is her (head) scarf and because she is Muslim," Ashoor told the Star's Megan Ogilvie last night.

'I think the problem is her (head) scarf and because she is Muslim.'
Ashoor Miraj, brother

The brother, who spoke to Marina yesterday, said she was confused by the British immigration officials' initial questions. She told them she planned to stay in Britain, but didn't tell them that it was only for three months — the length of time her Toronto doctor had told her it was safe to stay away.

Her Canadian passport, citizenship card and belongings were confiscated. She was then questioned — and mocked — by three female immigration officials who laughed at her answers, her brother said.

"They asked her lots of questions. She said to me, 'I was scared, I didn't know what they wanted,'" Ashoor Miraj said.

After Miraj collapsed in detention, "a doctor came and said her blood pressure was very high," her brother said. "They took her to hospital and checked her and told her that her baby was gone."

Islamic groups in Britain have slammed the latest example of targeting their community in the war on terror.

They have called for a full public inquiry into the incident and urged the Canadian government to put pressure on British officials over the treatment of the Canadian.

Asif said it was not the first time Miraj had visited Scotland since marrying her husband. Asif said he is trying to persuade her to sue the government.

Miraj married her husband in Pakistan about a year ago and is said to be keen to live in Scotland with him.

"The last time she had visited there was no problem," Asif said.
But this time, "they were asking, 'what are you doing here' and 'you should not be coming because you're not able to stay with your husband.'

"Any Canadian citizen is allowed to visit Britain for six months. If they don't stop others, then why did they stop her?"

Immigration officials had wanted to deport her tomorrow, but her doctor said she is not well enough. The order to leave has apparently been halted and a British lawyer has told Miraj that he will fight her deportation, her brother said.

Canada's Foreign Affairs department is in the process of confirming the woman's citizenship and is aware of the case, said spokesperson Andrew Hannan.

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Torture in Ivory Coast prison kills 13
March 17, 2005 - 6:14AM

Forest rangers tortured 13 villagers to death in a northern prison, the UN Mission in the war-divided Ivory Coast has said.

Twelve died in a prison in Bouafle, 340 kilometres northwest of the commercial capital, Abidjan, on February 22, and one died February 27 in the hospital, according to a UN statement.

The UN mission "deplores the events that took place at Bouafle prison and demands an inquiry to establish the circumstances that led to the deaths," it said.

Without giving details, it said the victims succumbed to "acts of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment inflicted by forest rangers at Marahoue National Park."

The detainees were among 14,000 villagers living off cocoa plantations inside the park who refused a deadline to leave by January 15.

Thirty-two villagers are still in custody at the Bouafle prison, the statement said.

Ivorian authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.
Since January, dozens of villagers have been subjected to racketeering and torture by forest rangers who accuse them of trespassing, the UN statement said. [...]

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Weapons haul at Hauppauge house
March 17, 2005

Handguns, swords, grenades, an AK-47 machine gun and hundreds of other weapons were packed in boxes Wednesday and hauled out of the Hauppauge home of a retired police officer to allow for the return of his stepson, who's accused of killing the man with a samurai sword.

Suffolk probation and police officers spent several hours searching for all the weapons collected by Scott Nager, 51. A judge ordered them removed before Zachary Gibian, 18, charged with second-degree murder, is released on bail today.
Gibian is accused of nearly decapitating Nager. Gibian's defense team maintains Nager was a tyrant who psychologically tortured his stepson, putting a gun to his head and making him view graphic Holocaust photos and pay homage to an Adolph Hitler portrait.

Prosecutors wanted nine registered handguns to be turned in before Gibian's release. Inside a safe in Nager's den, workers found them and 12 others that were unregistered, said Steven Wilutis, the attorney for Gibian's mother, Laura Nager.

Supporters of Nager, who was Jewish, say he was a collector of guns and World War II memorabilia. But Wilutis said, "It goes well beyond a collection. Maybe an obsession." Wilutis said Nager could have been ready "to fight a war."

Gibian's attorney William Keahon said other "disgusting" items in the house, including a Nazi flag, several Nazi helmets and checkers with swastikas on them, could be used for Gibian's defense at trial.

Nager's father, Nathaniel Nager of Delray Beach, Fla., called the collection "perfectly normal." Nathaniel Nager, who fought in World War II, said he did not know the extent of his son's collection of weapons.

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Tour turns up 25 guns in house on school grounds
The Associated Press
March 15, 2005

A man faces 15 counts of possessing guns in a public building after a small arsenal was found at a house on Mazama High School property.

Gary Leon Hawk, 60, was arrested Thursday but released Friday after he agreed to give up the guns and leave school grounds.

Hawk is married to a custodian at Mazama, and the couple lived in a two-story house directly in front of the school.

School administrators saw the guns during a March 4 inspection tour to become acquainted with school-owned property. Administrators told Klamath County sheriff's deputies about the guns, and a search last week resulted in seizure of 25 guns, mostly rifles and shotguns, authorities said. Included in the collection were a double-barrel 12-gauge shotgun, a .38-caliber pistol and a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle.

Twelve of the 25 guns were loaded, according to court records.

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Father accidentally shoots daughter while playing with gun

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. Virginia Beach Police report that a father accidentally shot his two-year-old daughter while apparently playing with a gun at home.

The little girl was only grazed in the legs. She was treated and released from a local hospital.

23-year-old Jered Dean Grisham was charged Monday with felony child endangerment and reckless handling of a firearm. Grisham was being held without bond.

Police spokeswoman Rene Ball says it's believed that Grisham was spinning the gun on his finger when it went off.

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13-year-old takes loaded gun, 6 knives to school
March 16, 2005, 5:58PM
Houston Chronicle

A student at Pershing Middle School tipped off police today after another student brought several weapons, including a loaded pistol, to the campus, officials said.

The 13-year-old eighth-grader was taken into custody about 2:30 p.m. at the school in the 700 block of Braes Boulevard. Police recovered a loaded 9mm pistol and six knives from the teenager, school district officials said.

"There's no indication he intended to harm anyone," said HISD spokesman Terry Abbott.

The teenager was expelled from school, HISD officials said. He faces a felony charge for possessing a weapon on campus.

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Forty-nine killed in Russian plane crash:
Mar. 16/05 (ANI)

Moscow - A plane attempting to land in Russia's Far North crashed and caught fire killing 49 people on board, a spokesman for the transportation ministry in Moscow told media.

"According to preliminary figures, 45 passengers and four crew members have been killed," the spokesman said.

The An-24 plane, which was reportedly carrying oil industry workers, crashed in early afternoon near the village of Varandei in the Nenetsk autonomous region, above the polar circle, The News quoted the spokesman as saying.

A helicopter with rescue and medical personnel has taken off for the site of the accident, news agencies reported, quoting the emergencies ministry.

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Bird flu fears as kids sick on plane
March 16, 2005

A bird flu scare sparked an emergency services callout to Wellington airport after two Chinese children became violently ill during a flight from Melbourne.

Fire Service and ambulance officers were waiting for the Air New Zealand flight carrying 93 passengers as it arrived at Wellington on Tuesday afternoon.

Some passengers had originally travelled from Asia.

It is understood authorities held grave fears that the children could be sick with the bird flu, which has killed at least 47 people in Asia. [...]

Authorities assessed their condition and the family was cleared to remain in Wellington. The children did not need hospital treatment. [...]

Air New Zealand confirmed the incident on Wednesday, but would not comment on the bird flu suspicions. [...]

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Bus explosion in east China kills about 30
17 Mar 2005 02:44:28 GMT
Source: Reuters

BEIJING, March 17 (Reuters) - A bus explosion killed about 30 people in China's eastern province of Jiangxi on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The bus was travelling from the Hong Kong border city of Shenzhen to Zhejiang, another eastern province, when the blast happened in the early morning.

At least seven were also injured, but Xinhua said the exact death toll was difficult to determine because of the force of the explosion, which also damaged nearby houses.

Investigations into the cause of the blast were ongoing. [...]

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Strong earthquake rocks parts of Aceh
March 16, 2005 - 8:54PM

A strong undersea earthquake rocked parts of Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Aceh province, but there were no reports of damage or casualties, an official said.

The magnitude-6.0 quake did not trigger a tsunami, said Syahnan of the local Meteorology and Geophysics Agency.

The quake struck at 1.39pm (1639 AEDT) and was centred beneath the Indian Ocean, about 108 kilometres southeast of the province's capital Banda Aceh, said Syahnan, who goes by single name.

The epicentre was 30 kilometres beneath the earth's surface, he said.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelagic nation, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire". [...]

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Indonesian Earthquake Increased the Region's Seismic Hazard Potential, Scientists Say
Sarah Graham
March 17, 2005
The December earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, and the tsunami it created, wreaked massive destruction and loss of life. It also increased stress on nearby faults in the area. A report published today in the journal Nature indicates that the region may now be primed for another big quake, one that could spawn a second tsunami. The news follows on the heels of another reminder of the area's geologic restlessness: early Wednesday a 5.4 earthquake 100 kilometers west of the city of Banda Aceh was recorded. (Early media coverage reported no casualties.)

John McCloskey and his colleagues at the University of Ulster analyzed data from the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and found two zones of increased seismological stress in the surrounding area. The first region lies in the Sunda trench, which is a 50-kilometer-long section off the northern tip of Sumatra, and the second is on the Sumatra fault, which runs under the length of the island and ends near Banda Aceh. "Our results show a stress increase of up to five bars in the Sunda trench next to the rupture zone and a strong positive loading of nine bars for 300 kilometers of the Sumatra fault," McCloskey remarks. As a point of comparison, it is believed that the recent Izmit earthquake in Turkey, which measured a magnitude 7.4, was triggered by stress increases of about two bars over an area of 50 kilometers.

The authors report that their results suggest an earthquake of magnitude 7-7.5 on the Sumatra fault "would seem to represent the greatest immediate threat." From preliminary data collected on Wednesday's quake, it remains unclear whether the faults analyzed in this study were involved or whether it occurred on a fault that is not as well categorized. "Every earthquake that occurs [in the region] is going to relieve some of the stress," notes John Bellini, a geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey. But because of the logarithmic nature of the Richter scale, he notes, "you'd need 1,000 earthquakes of magnitude five to release as much as one magnitude seven [quake]." McCloskey and his colleagues note that their findings underscore the need for a warning system: "It is vital that disaster fatigue does not delay the implementation of the Circum Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System."

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Earthquake measuring 5 pts registered in Southern Kurile Islands
17.03.2005, 03.13

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, March 17 (Itar-Tass) - An earthquake measuring 4.9 points on the open-ended Richter scale occurred on the Island of Shikotan, which is part of the Southern Kurile range, at 23:24 local time (13:24 GMT) Wednesday.

Its epicenter was located under the Pacific Ocean floor near Shikotan.

Quakes measuring 3 points were felt in the village of Malokurilskoye.

The power of tremors registered in the town of Yuzhno-Kurilsk on nearby Kunashir Island was between 2 points and 3 points.

Over the past 20 days, earthquakes have disturbed Kunashir and Shikotan four times, and one earthquake occurred in the north of Sakhalin Island.

Seismic surveyors say, however, the quakes were weak enough with no victims or destructions registered.

There was no threat of a tsunami either.

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Samos, 17 March 2005 (15:53 UTC 2)
The seismic activity in the sea region between the eastern Aegean island of Samos and the Turkish coasts progresses smoothly. The two earthquakes measuring 4.3 and 4.4 on the Richter scale that rocked the region this morning alarmed local residents. The tremors were felt in the islands of Samos, Ikaria, Patmos, Fourni and the Asia Minor coasts.

According to Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Geophysics Laboratory seismologist Manolis Skordilis, no major fault passes east of Samos that could give a catastrophic earthquake and the only strong earthquake was recorded in the region in 1955 and measured 6.5 on the Richter scale.

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Storm pounds ice into into Nfld. towns
Last Updated Wed, 16 Mar 2005 21:49:12 EST
CBC News

ST. JOHN'S - Huge waves have pushed tonnes of ice into communities in eastern Newfoundland, damaging roads, wharves and properties from Bonavista Bay to the Avalon Peninsula.

Weather officials warned the conditions that caused Wednesday's storm surge – including a low-pressure system, high tides and high winds – might worsen overnight before the bad weather moves offshore.

In Flatrock north of St. John's, Peter Maher watched as monster waves swamped the community's harbour, destroyed parts of a breakwater and ripped apart asphalt on some roads.

"We had seas, they must have been ten, fifteen metres," Maher said, adding that the waves smashed the harbour beyond recognition.

"What we can see here now is we got our complete breakwater washed out, two million dollars gone bottom up here this evening."

Another Flatrock resident, Tony Grace, said the surge was the worst he has seen in more than 25 years. [...]

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Severe blizzards in southwest China leave 36 dead
(AFP) Mar 16, 2005

BEIJING - Severe and unseasonal snow storms have left at least 36 people dead in southwest China, with about 190,000 people snowed in and 21,000 collapsed houses, a news report said on Wednesday.

More than eight million people have been affected by the blizzards in Yunnan province, which normally enjoys a mild climate but had a metre (three feet) of snow in some areas between March 3-12, the semi-official China News Service said.

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Crippling drought leaving Southeast Asia desperately dry
16 March 2005 1319 hrs

BANGKOK : As Thailand wrestles with one of its worst droughts in years, millions of people from China to Indonesia are also desperate for the rains to return.

In at least seven countries in and around Southeast Asia, wells and reservoirs have dried up, crops have withered, governments have declared disaster zones, and in some cases communities are going hungry.

Authorities in Thailand, one of the rice bowls of Southeast Asia and a country heavily dependent on agriculture, were scrambling to contend with bone-dry conditions in 63 of Thailand's 76 provinces. Drought now affects 9.2 million people in the country. [...]

At least 809,000 hectares (two million acres) of farmland lie ruined at a cost of 7.4 billion baht (193.2 million dollars), according to interior ministry figures.

"Farmers' revenues would be affected, particularly the farmer who focuses on exports," Thaksin said Tuesday.

Large dams are only at 40 percent capacity or below, according to the agriculture ministry, while four reservoirs in northeastern Thailand have reported critical capacity levels.

"We have a potable water shortage, so we have to do whatever we can to help during this situation," said Pinyo Thongsing, an official at Chulabhorn dam in Chaiyaphun province, where reservoir levels have plunged to four percent of capacity.

"If there is no rain during this period, we'll be in crisis."

Thai authorities are planning to ask their neighbours, especially Laos and Myanmar, about diverting water from the Mekong river to slake thirsty farm land.

Yet Vietnam's Mekong delta is itself in dire straights. Some experts, blaming the El Nino weather phenomenon, say the Mekong Delta could face its worst drought in a century.

Vietnam has been hit both in the delta and the central region. A ministry of agriculture official in Hanoi confirmed the central highlands' five provinces were affected, including 162,500 hectares of cultivated lands containing 134,500 hectares of coffee.

Nationwide, the drought has cost more than 60 million dollars, the official said. [...]

Parts of southern China are experiencing their worst drought in decades.

The sustained drought in southern Guangdong province, said to be the worst in 55 years, threatens the rice harvest and other crops. Cloud seeding planes have been dispatched to operate between March and May.

On China's southern Hainan Island, drought has meant 900,000 people face difficulty getting drinkable water.

It has also posed a threat to more than 210,000 hectares of crops -- more than half of the province's total arable land -- and to 194,000 head of livestock, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Cambodia, too, was suffering its worst drought in recent years, hitting 14 out of 24 provinces and municipalities.

Nhim Vanda, chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, said some areas were experiencing food shortages and not less than a million people were affected. Of those, 700,000 were seriously hit in the predominantly agricultural kingdom of 13 million people.

In Malaysia, more than 6,000 rice farmers are affected, officials said.
Rain is not expected until late March, and a meteorological department official told AFP cloud-seeding would begin in the northern states of Perlis and Kedah on Wednesday.

In Laos, officials were coy about disclosing the drought's extent.

There have been few if any rains since December, but the impact on crops is likely minimal as most are harvested later in the year during the rainy season.

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U.S. Gulf Coast faces high tsunami risk
Scientists issue new warning based on historical records
By Michael Schirber
Updated: 3:40 p.m. ET March 16, 2005

Scientists issued a fresh warning today: The northern Caribbean may be at a high risk for a major tsunami, based on historical records that date back to Columbus’ arrival in 1492.

A tsunami in this region could affect more than 35 million people on the islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles and along the east and Gulf coasts of the United States. The danger has been highlighted in previous research.

The major source for past tsunamis in the northern Caribbean has been movement along the boundary between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. This fault line stretches 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) from Central America to the Lesser Antilles, brushing up against the north coast of Hispaniola (the island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic).

Nancy Grindlay and Meghan Hearne of the University of North Carolina and Paul Mann of the University of Texas identified 10 significant tsunamis that have resulted from movement along this plate boundary. Six of these caused loss of life.

Tsunamis in the Caribbean

In 1692, a tsunami destroyed Port Royal, Jamaica; another killed at least 10 Jamaicans on the island's south coast in 1780. The most recent tsunami in 1946 was triggered by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in the Dominican Republic. It killed around 1,800 people.

Jian Lin of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution believes that this sort of historical analysis can indicate how frequent big tsunamis are in a geographic region. It also gives an estimate of how large such events can potentially be.

"The tectonic setting of the northern Caribbean is very similar to the Indian Ocean - except that the subduction zone is not as long," Lin told LiveScience in a telephone interview.

The subduction zone is where one plate dips below another. Lin, who was not involved in the recent research, explained that the longer a subduction zone is, the larger the earthquake that the zone is capable of producing.

"The [historical analysis] shows that the Caribbean zone is long enough to have greater than a magnitude 8.0 earthquake," Lin said. [...]

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Cassini finds an atmosphere on Saturn's moon Enceladus
Spaceflight Now
March 16, 2005

The Cassini spacecraft's two close flybys of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus have revealed that the moon has a significant atmosphere. Scientists, using Cassini's magnetometer instrument for their studies, say the source may be volcanism, geysers, or gases escaping from the surface or the interior. [...]

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