Sunday, March 27, 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

The Second Birth

Easter is the day that Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. The overwhelming majority of them do so, unfortunately, with no understanding of what the story of the Easter Passion really signifies. Through a literal reading of the events, such as depicted in Mel Gibson's propaganda piece The Passion of the Christ, the deeper, esoteric meaning is reduced to the physical plane, the spiritual truth is replaced by a material falsehood, blood and torn flesh replace the equally painful and gut wrenching choices that the seeker must make when he or she embarks on the path. The whipping of Jesus is a symbol of the pain and suffering when the old man attached to the ways of the world undertakes the work of shedding his skin to become the new man oriented to things of the spirit.

For our part, we do not think that the man who came to be known as Jesus was crucified, but that in no way diminishes his teaching, a teaching that did indeed show the Way out of this world and into the World of Salvation. It is a teaching that goes back many more millennia than the time of the man known as Jesus. It is an ancient teaching handed down from generation to generation, surfacing publicly as it was needed in the form of esoteric schools suited to the epoch. It is precisely for this reason that his story has been trampled upon by the Churches founded in his name, in order to remove the elements of eternal truth so that it no longer serves as a threat to the real rulers of our fallen reality.

The true meaning of the Passion of Christ has been preserved, however, within the Esoteric Christianity of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Parts of the teaching can be seen in the work of G.I. Gurdjieff. An attempt to transcribe the complete teaching is found in the three volume work, Gnosis, written by Boris Mouravieff. This work, rich in its teachings when Mouravieff transmits what he learned from monks on Mt. Athos in Greece, and often wide of the mark when Mouravieff attempts to elaborate his own theories o the application of the teaching to today, is a fundamental work for any seeker.

The Tradition describes Man as being divided into different centres, three lower - the moving, emotional and intellectual, and two higher- the higher emotional and higher intellectual. By bringing the three lower centres into balance and fusing them through the development of a magnetic centre formed by the seeker through a continuous series of choices between the 'A' influences of the material world and the 'B' influences of the spiritual world, a link is formed with the higher centres. The many 'I's of the Personality, that part of our character structured around our lower centres, that push and pull us into many directions at once, are magnetised and fused in the heat of our choices so that they all pull in the same direction.

This period of the process of fusion is known in the Tradition as mounting the Staircase, the period when the seeker is on the access path of the Way itself. The commitment to the Work involved in balancing the centres and fusing the many 'I's of the Personality marks the crossing of the first Threshold, that is, the doorway to the Staircase. The Staircase is left behind with the crossing of the second Threshold. The crossing of the second Threshold is the moment of the second Birth, the resurrection, when the Personality is subsumed into the Individuality, the complete fusion of the lower centres with the magnetic centre and the formation of a permanent link with the higher centres.

The constant struggle to discern the 'B' influences while mounting the Staircase, the persistent traps of the General Law to obscure those influences and bring the seeker back into the fold of the 'A' influences, that is, to abandon the Staircase, is the actual process that the Passion of Christ describes in symbolic terms.

The death of Jesus on Good Friday is his death to the old ways, to the material world, to the 'A' influences, the basic needs of fear, hunger, and sex.

The Resurrection on Easter Sunday is a celebration of the Second Birth, when the false Personality represented by the three lower centres is subsumed by the real 'I', the eternal and permanent part of each of us, and the true Individuality is born.

We present a selection of excerpts from Gnosis dealing with the Second Birth.

[...] In the Tradition, we mean by victory over Death the victory of our perfected Personalities over Death. This is the meaning of Salvation, object of prayers and aim of the religious practices of Christianity. We have already quoted the words of St Paul: 'Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all die but we shall all be changed.'

The underlying meaning of the word 'changed' in this sentence lies in the fact that all exterior men [people who live in and for the material world], as well as those who have reached the levels 5, 6 or 7, will sooner or later be called to leave their physical bodies. The difference is that the latter will do it as one abandons an old suit to take another, while the death of the physical body for men 1, 2 or 3 will result in the decomposition of their foetal-Personalities. Death is an astral abortion. Salvation comes with the second Birth, when the entirely developed and born Personality is indissolubly joined to the real 'I' to form an Individuality. Once born, this Individuality no longer depends on the physical body, in the same way that the child who has been born does not die even if his birth has been at the cost of his mother's life. It is this to which the apostle alluded, saying, we shall not all die. [Vol 1. p. 130]

[...] We have already quoted the text of St Paul's saying: 'I am telling you a mystery: we shall not all die but we shall all be changed.'

Let us comment on this again from a diffferent angle.

What is meant by: '...we shall all be changed'?

Sooner or later, each one of us will abandon his physical body, and we shall all in fact be changed.

Then what is meant by: 'We shall not all die'? For exterior man, the destruction of the physical body, which serves as a womb for this astral foetus which is the Personality, necessarily brings on the decomposition of the latter. In the language of the Tradition we call the decomposition of the 'Personality, with that of the personal 'I', the second Death. By the second Birth, when the astral body is born, with its fusion complete, and it is integrated with the Real 'I' to form an Individuality, we attain to planetary life and so escape the second Death. The latter will still occur, not forty days after the death of the physical body, but after 80 astral years, meaning
2,400,000 terrestrial years. For man 4, when he has crossed the threshold of the inner circle of esotericism, the death of the physical body will be equivalent to abandoning an outdated or tattered piece of clothing. He will take another if he needs it. This will no longer be a catastrophe. This is the meaning of St Paul's words.

This text sheds light on the initial data for the problem. According to the Apostle, it is the ensemble of the conditions to be fulfilled so as to reach that goal which is known in esoteric science as the Way. These are: the pursuit of certain studies; the observance of principles; respecting certain rules, and carrying out practical work; all this must be done with the spirit of precision and discipline which prevails in the world of positive science. Even more than in the latter, one must exercise, develop and sharpen his critical spirit. This is necessary because precise limits do not always exist in our inner world. Though logic tends to formulate clear definitions on the intellectual plane, it remains no less true that the working of intelligence is controlled by Illusion, which distorts our judgment in many situations. On the emotional plane, the situation is even more muddled, as it is very difficult to orient ourselves and in a clear cut way - to differentiate - that which is born from ourselves from that which is the result of exterior impressions; in other words, it is difficult to know what is and what is not me. The easy differentiation between object and subject in the physical world, already less easy in the intellectual world, is particularly difficult in the emotional world, but the emotional life is the primary object of esoteric work. That is why we attach so much importance in esoteric teaching to the development of a critical spirit directed towards ourselves, that is to say, towards the phenomena of our inner life. [I:143-44]

In studying Time, we must never lose sight of the subjectivity of our senses. We cannot reach the objective except through the medium of the subjective. This is the underlying reason for esoteric studies: they allow the exterior man to give objective validity to his subjective mentality. He can achieve this by a technique analogous to one we apply to precision instruments: before putting them to work, we determine the reading error of each. By taking the 'subjectivity' of instruments into account in this way, we obtain correct readings from them, in spite of their flaws. To observe the phenomena of our internal world and those of the external world with precision, we must have recognized and determined the reading error of our mental instrument for observation, one of the main tools of the Personality. All esoteric teaching is oriented towards this goal, which is reached with the second Birth - when man attains a new form of consciousness and existence which is quite different, objective - and which exterior man can only represent to himself in a vague and obscure way.

As long as our nature remains subjective and therefore relative, it is only indirectly, with help of the principle of Relativity, that we can study Time. [I:115-16]

[...] But we have already seen that the exterior man lives absent from himself. He lives in dreams: dreams at night, and daydreams.

We sleep in life, and sleep deeply. How, in practice, can we get out of this situation? It is difficult, and this is why. A sleeping man retains a sense of the experience of his life in the waking state, with the memory of his name, that symbol of his Personality. When he wakes, these (memories) will allow him to recover his waking consciousness without difficulty. But for the passage from this to the higher level of consciousness, to the consciousness of the real 'I', these two essential elements are missing: experience of that life, and the knowledge of his name at that level. It is by working ceaselessly, 'boring away', by the practice of constatation - which comprises and implies a conscious effort of presence, to the point where it becomes a true presence in oneself - that man can reach the second Birth, the birth of lndividuality, understood as the indissoluble junction of his developed and born Personality with his real 'I'. At this time he will obtain his new name, and he will progressively be initiated to that new experience, previously unsuspected, to which the book of Revelation refers:

'To him that overcometh... to him will I give a white stone and upon the stone, his new name is written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it.' [I:208]

With the crossing of the second Threshold, the developed and harmonized Personality will be born. This is the second Birth, analogous to physical birth from every point of view. It passes through the same phases. The Doctrine describes detailed parallels between the two, which help the disciple and his master to control the order of this evolution. The book by Nicodemus the Hagiorite called Unseen Warfare contains one of the best descriptions of this.

Having crossed the second Threshold, the Personality unites itself with the real 'I'. Its provisional 'I', which has not been destroyed but has been developed to its limit, will for evermore be one with the real 'I': Man 4 then becomes man 5.

This indissoluble union forms the Individuality. It is from this moment that man really exists. He is, and only at this moment will he be able to say with certainty that he is happy to have been born.

The experiment so often repeated has ended with success. [I:220-21]

Before we go on to deeper examination of the problem of evolution and its conditions, we shall examine an important recommendation, which must be followed from the beginning of the work until the second Birth. It is one of the Golden rules of the Tradition: man must link together the work of the intellectual and emotional centres. This is how it is done:

If the question to be studied and solved is of in intellectual nature, then, after the intellectual centre has elucidated it, before reaching a conclusion or final decision, and before taking action, man must consult his emotional centre. Conversely, he must not act impulsively or exclusively under the influence of the emotional centre: before acting, he must consult his intellectual centre.

In general, man must cultivate in himself the ability to grasp any phenomenon and any problem - in the inner or outer worlds - by simultaneously using the two centres, emotional and intellectual. [I:229]

We have insisted on the fact that the human Personality is not a reality in the proper sense of the word, but a possibility. It plays a role in the film to which it is attached, from which it will not disappear until the moment of the second Birth. At that moment, it will cease to be a Personality. Because of its indestructible union with the real 'I', it will be transfigured, and so it will become an Individuality.

As long as man lives in the wilderness, self-satisfied and immersed in lies and illusions, the film will unfold with mechanical inflexibility, and the Personality will remain entirely unchanged. These circumstances start to change the moment man crosses the first Threshold. This passage can be compared to the conception of the future Individuality. The Staircase symbolizes the period of gestation, and the crossing of the second Thresbold represents the second Birth, the birth of Individuality. [I:233]

To fix these ideas in our minds better, let us recapitulate what was said earlier.

1) The final aim that man can hope to achieve by esoteric work is to attain the second Birth and so overcome Death. This aim is explicitly defined in the Scriptures and has been abundantly commented on in the Tradition and the Doctrine. This is Salvation.

2) With rare exceptions, this aim can only be attained by the student through hard and methodical work. The sum of the conscious efforts required is proportional to the degeneracy of the Personality. It is generally great, much greater than that required for example from the student from the time when he starts his elementary education until he obtains his doctorate by successfully sustaining a thesis.

3) The particular character of these efforts - as we have seen in the first volume and will perceive even more clearly here - is that all the work done by the student on himself must be characterized by (Lit: placed under the sign of) waking the emotional functions that are generally deeply asleep, especially in cultured people of our time. This awakening, this flame, is the express condition and the point of departure leading to success: to advance, one must burn. A fire that smoulders under the ashes is not enough.

A special method is provided to allow students to rekindle an inadequate fire and to fan it when it is fading.

4) This work on oneself, although its aim is the evolution of the individual, cannot be accomplished in a vacuum, that is, in isolation. The law is clear: the desired result cannot be gained in practice except in the form of wages according to the stated principle that: 'the labourer is worthy of his hire.'

Another way of saying this is that the accumulation of esoteric values cannot be realized by ways used in the everyday world; by egoistical means. All true esoteric work is oriented in a direction diametrically opposite to egoism.

5) Thus the student must not let himself be deluded by the mirages which await him on the track, but must arm himself with a strong faith and a firm courage which will allow him to find a practical means of entering some Esoteric work which is being carried out in the world.

6) For this, desire in the loins and fire in the heart are not yet enough. If it remains without any specific practical esoteric application, the force of this tension that has been kindled will dissipate in smoke. Every force demands a definite point of application, and without this it will decompose and disperse.

Before this force can be applied, the student who seeks esoteric work must also be useful. His task begins with this, that is, when he moves on from words and aspirations to actions. To the degree that he completes this work, his 'salary' will automatically increase.

7) The seeker is free to choose. The discipline is accepted voluntarily, but it is of iron. The student can abandon the work at any moment to return to worldly interests. However, he will remain 'intoxicated', since participation in esoteric work will progressively open his eyes, make the colours of exterior life fade for him, and shake his old scale of values.

The freedom of choice and the initiative demanded of the seeker bring a danger: that of taking the false for the true; the impure for the pure, allowing himself to become subject to the scandal of 'powers' etc. When such mistakes are committed by a pure and ardent heart as the result of a sincere error, they do not in themselves hold mortal danger. He will be warned in time even if he persists in his error. The case of Saint Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus gives us a convincing example.

The real danger, which can lead to mortal sin, to a definite check, occurs when an impure heart seeks to be served by higher psychic forces for its own egoistic ends. This is a quagmire. [II:xxxiii-xxxiv]

It is clear that the General Law has for its field of action all the planets and all the satellites of the whole Universe; but what primarily concerns us is the action of the Absolute III on man, and in particular on someone who starts to climb the Ladder burning with the desire to reach the second Birth. After the second Threshold, as we already know, he will pass from the jurisdiction of the Absolute III under that of the Absolute II. But to reach this result he must fight and overcome the harmful influence of the General Law over him, mastering the sexual centre by awakening the intoxicated and sleeping young Serpent. [II:110]

When the disciple finally realizes his identification with the real 'I', this will turn his whole scale of values upside down progressively all along the Staircase, and completely with the second birth. The great Doctors of the oecumenical Church say this explicitly. [...]

The Second Birth progressively brings to man a power which finally becomes absolute, first over his Personality, then over his body. For twiceborn man the body only has the value of an instrument of expression and action, an instrument that he abandons at will, which he can repair, and whose use he can prolong at will. His death, which will only occur by his consent, will no longer result in any suffering for him, and this is even true of martyrdom or crucifixion. [II:132]

The human being who analyses, in the light of the esoteric doctrine, the circumstances that have provoked his moral bankruptcy is bound to conclude that this failure is directly due to the neglected state into which his emotional centre has fallen. If he goes back to the causes and the events that have been lived, he will see that his partner is not to blame. We must never forget that intelligence is agnostic by nature, so that it is only through the correct and intense functioning of his emotional centre that the exterior man can feel the 'B' influences in life without confusing them with the 'A' influences. It is thanks to this discernment, stimulated by a keen interest in the work and by the ardent desire to reach the Real, that a magnetic centre begins to form in the neophyte. Only then can he come out of the darkness as he desires. The reader may remember that the magnetic centre is formed starting from the lower emotional centre, which it progressively absorbs before it is finally integrated into the higher emotional centre, the doorway to Light and real Life.

Leaving out some details, this is the technique of esoteric evolution. In other words, the development of the Personality - the astral foetus - and the equilibrium of its organs, the lower centres, which leads to the second Birth, cannot be envisaged without the previous complete development of the lower emotional centre. This is the first key and the real beginning of esoteric evolution. [p. 174]

0n the basis of the analysis of different types of deformation of the Personality we made in chapter XVI, in this chapter we will outline the ways of re-establishing a degree of equilibrium in the latter. An energetic readjustment is indispensable for the one who wishes to take a serious part in esoteric work, the aim of which - as we know - is the complete growth and development of the Personality taken all the way to the second Birth. This leads us to consider the major problem of esoteric practice, one that is as important in the outer life as in the inner: this concerns negative emotions.

We have pointed out more than once that these emotions are the means by which the great destructive force acts in man. It is not an exaggeration to say that negative emotions are mainly responsible for the fact that human beings age and die prematurely. To combat old age and death, one must combat the negative emotions in oneself. This postulate may surprise some; it may be even more surprising if we add that, when treated according to precise rules founded on a strenuous Psychical discipline, these very same emotions, though harmful, can become an abundant source of the fine, active energies whose presence is necessary for the development of the Personality.

The position of the Personality may be compared to that of a weak man flanked on either side by strong men in different situations: though the real 'I' is invincible, it is also, one might say, ignored. The 'I' of the body varies in its desires, but it is in direct and permanent contact with the Personality which lives in the body, it depends on it, and it manifests through it. One may therefore say that the Personality does not enjoy much autonomy in relation to it.

The situation changes entirely when the magnetic centre opens the 'front door' of the Personality to the real 'I' after it takes over the direction of the lower centres once it has assured their co-ordinated working. This is when the complete and perfect fusion takes place in which the 'I' of the Personality identifies itself with the real 'I'. This is the second Birth, that of Individuality. After this, the 'I' of the body can no longer offer any resistance to, nor can ever impose its will on, the 'I 'of the Individuality. This is a state of ecstasy, which the Individuality can in principle enter at will, it can even suspend the normal functioning of the five senses, as we have been shown by the martyrs supported with joy by the Saints. [II:225-26]

At the time of his Second Birth, man acquires a permanent consciousness of his real 'I', which is a monad of the Absolute II. He reaches this through his higher emotional centre. Strong in this consciousness, he becomes capable on the one hand of progressively creating a link with his higher intellectual centre, which gives him access to the mind of Christ, the consciousness of the Absolute I, and on another hand, of establishing his authority over the motor centre. Then the lower emotional centre, which has already been absorbed by the magnetic centre, but without losing its individual structure, takes its place within the higher emotional centre. Thus man 5, thanks to the permanent consciousness of his real 'I', benefits from a double current of Love - the Love from the Absolute
II, to which the Love from the Absolute I is gradually added, and which pervades him through his higher centres. In this way he escapes the authority of the Absolute III, and because of this, from the domination of carnal love.[III:145-46]

[...] Here are the indications - necessarily summarized - that we can draw from a quick examination of the table of equivalence of Time. Man 5, having reached the second Birth, and so endowed with an astral body, forms part of the Mesocosmos while still living on earth.
This would give him the ability to contemplate the next higher cosmos, which is the Deuterocosmos, the cosmos of the Son. This is why we find, in a hymn of the Easter cycle, the following exclamation which would otherwise seem bizarre: 'I see Your palace Lord.' [I:123]

Click here to comment on this article

"Regime Change" Around The World

SOTT Analysis

If you ever wanted proof that the US government is involved in covert "regime change" around the world, then look no further than the current situation in Kyrgyzstan. In events that closely mirrored the recent "orange revolution" in Ukraine, President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan fled the country for Moscow last week after mobs took to the streets over disputed election results. The disputed polls were later annulled by the Supreme Court, which also said the previous parliament had authority. CBC News tell us:

Felix Kulov, a former opposition leader who was released from prison after the lightning coup and is now head of security, told deputies that the term of the old parliament had expired and that legally, the new parliament was legitimate.

On Saturday, the new leaders set June 26 as the date for new presidential elections.

Until then, it appears Kyrgyzstan will be left with competing parliamentary groups, each claiming to represent the people.

The mainstream press would have us believe that that the US is "not taking sides" in the current upheaval in Kyrgyzstan. According to Yahoo News a US official stated:

"The issue is helping to support a process that is peaceful, that is consistent with the rule of law and that has the support and the backing of the international community," he said.

The United States, which at times appeared caught short by the fast-moving events in Kyrgyzstan, seemed ready to work with whatever political structure emerged with a stamp of legitimacy.

The truth however is that the US, far from being "caught short", is actually the principal motivator behind the events in Kyrgyzstan. A Secret report of the U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Stephen M.Young details the US government's involvement in destablising the Kyrgyz Republic.

The results of public opinion polls in Kyrgyzstan, conducted by the US Embassy in cooperation with USAID, NDI, IRI, other international organizations including Freedom House, Internews Network, Soros Foundations and the Eurasia Foundation in view of the above-mentioned countries influence on the politically active population, allow us to draw a conclusion that at present none of the states has prevailing influence. The only exception is Russia, which counts considerably in Kyrgyzstan, as it has retained multiform connections with the republic. Akaev, being a protegee of Russia, is guided by Moscow. However, we have not got the facts of Russian financing any candidates or parties.

It would seem then that while the "cold war" was mostly farce, the covert operations for control of as much of the world and its resources as possible have continued, and Russia is still firmly in the US' sights. China also looms large on the Pentagon's radar. The US ambasssadors report continues:

Our military presence in Kyrgyzstan "is annoying" Beijing, and the temporary status of the air force base at Manas airport in Bishkek gives grounds to China to hope for would- be withdrawal of the US troops from Kyrgyzstan. In this regard, we are sure to expect counteracting steps of the Chinese government against our military expansion in the region. At present China renders informal support to the politicians disposed to further development of relations with Beijing and restriction of our military contingent in Kyrgyzstan.

The "how" of the regime change is explained as follows:

With a view to providing favorable conditions and helping democratic opposition leaders come to power, our primary goal for the pre-elections period is to arouse mistrust to the authorities in force and Akaev’s incapacitated corruption regime, his pro-Russian orientation and illegal use of “an administrative resource” to rig elections. In this regard, the embassy’s Democratic commission, Soros Foundations, Eurasia Foundation in Bishkek in cooperation with USAID have been organizing politically active groups of voters in order to inspire riots against pro-president candidates.


It is worthwhile compromising Akaev personally by disseminating data in the opposition mass media on his wife’s involvement in financial frauds and bribery at designation of officials. We also recommend spreading rumors about her probable plans to run for the presidency, etc. All these measures will help us form an image of an absolutely incapacitated president.

It is essential to increase the amount of financial support up to $30 mm to promising opposition parties at the preliminary stage of the parliamentary and presidential elections and allocate additional funds to NGOs including the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, Freedom house, Internews Network and Eurasia Foundation, since they have reached significant results within the framework of informing the population on preparation for the election and on the process of political forces consolidation.

To minimize Russian influence on the course of elections we ought to urge opposition parties to make appeals to the Russian government concerning non-interference in internal affairs of the KR.

Taking into account arrangements of the Department of. State Plan for the period of 2005-2006 to intensify our influence in Central Asia, particularly in Kyrgyzstan, we view the country as the base to advance with the process of democratization in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and limit Chinese and Russian capabilities in the area Setting up democratic legitimate opposition in the parliament of Kyrgyzstan is extremely important. To reach the target we should attract groups of independent observers from western humanitarian: organizations, OSCE, and people from Kyrgyz offices of the UN Program of Development. That is necessary: to get control of the election process and eliminate any possible financing of the pro - presidential majority in the parliament.

Stephen M.Young
The U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyz Republic

Regime change has never been so easy, particularly when you bring the vast experience of US intelligence services to bear on the situation. On the one hand, all of the above ties in nicely with Bush's stated goal of "spreading freedom and democracy" around the world and we might even be forgiven for supporting it if it were not for that fact that, by now, it is clear that "spreading democracy" is simply the excuse used by the Bush administration to justify an international resource grab.

Many politicians themselves have often stated that it is simply not possible to export democracy to a country. Democracy must grow up organically within its own society if it is to be a just and fair system of government. The imposition of democracy, just like the impostion of dictatorship, generally requires the sort of brutal opression and wholesale slaughter of the indigenous population that we are currently witnessing in Iraq and, very often, the "democracy" hat results bears many of the hallmarks of dictatorship.

It appears that there is simply no way to stop the inexorable march of the US covert intelligence and military machine as it seeks to effect regime change in countries of strategic import around the world. In the last few years Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon and now Kyrgyzstan have all fallen in the face of the interference and manipulations of the American government. In Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan the US already had a sufficient presence to allow its agents to provoke "revolutions" that were largely bloodless.

Afghanistan and Iraq however were not so accommodating and required an international frame up leading to full scale invasions to get the job done. As for Lebanon; all that was required there was the 'deft touch' of the Israeli Mossad to blow Rafik Hariri's cavalcade to smithereens and pin the blame on Syria to reignite ethnic and religious tensions, the flames of which have been thrice fanned in the past week through the use of more Mossad 'false flag' car bombs, the most recent occuring yesterday:

Beirut blast kills two

This is the third attack in a Christian area in the past week

A huge bomb explosion has rocked an industrial area in a mainly Christian neighbourhood in east Beirut, killing two people and injuring eight.

Saturday's was the third blast in a Christian district in a week and is certain to heighten fears of renewed communal strife at a moment when Lebanon is politically paralysed.

The scene was described by one witness as "an apocalyptic sight", as fire engines and ambulances rushed to the scene under a huge cloud of black smoke.

Beirut has been jittery since 11 people were injured when a bomb exploded beneath a car in the Christian suburb of Jdaida on 19 March, an attack that was followed by another bomb blast in Kaslik on Wednesday that killed three people. [...]

The use of the quote "an apocalyptic sight" in the above it too much to ignore and we can't help but wonder if millions of "dispensationalist" Christians aren't drooling at the very thought.

Another report in the news today undoubtedly has provoked lots of drooling (or is that slathering) among the members of Sharon's right-wing Israeli Likud party:

Lebanon Defenceless Without Syrian Military

Lebanon's defence minister has warned that the country's forces will be incapable of filling the void left by the Syrian army if it withdraws completely.

"The forces of the Lebanese army are not sufficient to replace the Syrians who might leave the Bekaa Valley (in eastern Lebanon), where they are now concentrated, for good," Defence Minister Abd al-Rahim Murad said on Friday.

"The members of the army are too young to be able to carry out a task that has until now been handled by seasoned soldiers and their numbers are insufficient because we have recently reduced the length of compulsory military service from a year to six months," he added.

It is widely understood that one of the main reasons for the presence of the Syrian military in Lebanon was to not only protect Syria against an Israeli attack through Lebanon, but to protect all sections of Lebanese society from a repeat of the atrocities of the 70's and 80's, such as occurred at the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila where Christian militias were invited by then defence minister Ariel Sharon to slaughter thousands of innocent men, women and children.

Now that Hariri is dead and the blame has been successfully planted at Syria's door, it won't be long before Damascus is directly "invited" to join in the regime change frenzy. In Washington, plans are already being made for the big party:

US officials hold talks with exiled Syrian opposition figures


American officials held a meeting with exiled Syrian opposition figures in Washington to review means of "weakening the Syrian regime," a London-based newspaper reported on Saturday. [...]

Of course, any analysis of past, present and prospective regime 'changees' would be incomplete without including Iran. Unfortunately for its 68 million inhabitants, it would seem that Iran is not 'ripe' for a "grass roots revolution" and, like Iraq, somehow, someway, an excuse for a full scale assault by the US military will have to found.

It is unlikely that another bogus terrorist attack in the US would be helpful at this stage, and anyway, the US has already played its part in setting the scene for "Armageddon". It's time for Israel to step up, take center stage and pave the way to the final conflagration. As such, our prediction is that Israel will show its appreciation to the US power elite for keeping Israeli involvement in 9/11 under wraps by sacrificing a few thousand of it's own citizens, and many more Iranians, in the interest of bringing regime change to Iran.

In the meantime, Bush, Cheney et al will continue to play the "Iran has WMDs" card, despite the fact that even the Washington Post is hightlighting the extreme hypocrisy and duplicity that seems to define the government of the "greatest democracy on earth".

Past Arguments Don't Square With Current Iran Policy

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 27, 2005; Page A15

Lacking direct evidence, Bush administration officials argue that Iran's nuclear program must be a cover for bomb-making. Vice President Cheney recently said, "They're already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas. Nobody can figure why they need nuclear as well to generate energy."

Yet Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and outgoing Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz held key national security posts when the Ford administration made the opposite argument 30 years ago.

Ford's team endorsed Iranian plans to build a massive nuclear energy industry, but also worked hard to complete a multibillion-dollar deal that would have given Tehran control of large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium -- the two pathways to a nuclear bomb. Either can be shaped into the core of a nuclear warhead, and obtaining one or the other is generally considered the most significant obstacle to would-be weapons builders.

Iran, a U.S. ally then, had deep pockets and close ties to Washington. U.S. companies, including Westinghouse and General Electric, scrambled to do business there.

"I don't think the issue of proliferation came up," Henry A. Kissinger, who was Ford's secretary of state, said in an interview for this article.

After balking initially, President Gerald R. Ford signed a directive in 1976 offering Tehran the chance to buy and operate a U.S.-built reprocessing facility for extracting plutonium from nuclear reactor fuel. The deal was for a complete "nuclear fuel cycle" -- reactors powered by and regenerating fissile materials on a self-sustaining basis.

That is precisely the ability the current administration is trying to prevent Iran from acquiring today. [...]

The Ford administration -- in which Cheney succeeded Rumsfeld as chief of staff and Wolfowitz was responsible for nonproliferation issues at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency -- continued intense efforts to supply Iran with U.S. nuclear technology until President Jimmy Carter succeeded Ford in 1977.

That history is absent from major Bush administration speeches, public statements and news conferences on Iran.

"It is absolutely incredible that the very same players who made those statements then are making completely the opposite ones now," said Joseph Cirincione, a nonproliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Do they remember that they said this? Because the Iranians sure remember that they said it," said Cirincione, who just returned from a nuclear conference in Tehran -- a rare trip for U.S. citizens now.

As a final note; we mentioned that the events currently unfolding in Kyrgyzstan are almost a carbon copy of events in Ukraine earlier this year. As with Kyrgyzstan, the fight for control of the Ukraine was being waged by the US and Russia through their respective candidates. America's favorite was Victor Yushchenko, who finally prevailed at the polls in no small part because of the allegations that he had been poisoned as part of a "dirty tricks" campaign by the Russians. Today, the UK Telegraph carries an interesting report which cites the claims of a Austrian doctor who treated Yushchenko. The doctor claims that Yushchenko condition was not the result of poisoning.

I received death threats, says doctor who denied that Ukrainian leader was poisoned

By Bojan Pancevski in Vienna

A senior doctor ousted from the Vienna clinic where Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian president, was treated for dioxin poisoning, claims that his life was threatened after he cast doubt on the diagnosis.

Dr Lothar Wicke, the former clinical director at the Rudolfinerhaus, said that the clinic came under intense pressure from Mr Yushchenko's entourage to diagnose poisoning, even when there was no apparent evidence.

Mr Yushchenko, 50, first claimed that he had been poisoned in September last year. He suffered severe stomach pains and disfiguring facial lesions while campaigning in Ukraine's bitterly fought presidential election against Viktor Yanukovych, the rival pro-Kremlin candidate.

At the time, doctors believed that his symptoms may have been caused by food-poisoning or a mysterious virus. On September 9, Mr Yushchenko checked into the prestigious clinic in Austria. Initially, it could not confirm the cause but in December, it backed the poison theory.

Speculation that the politician was the victim of a dirty tricks campaign helped him to victory in the elections on December 26.

Dr Wicke remains uncomfortable about the role played by the Rudolfinerhaus in the drama. "The first two times Mr Yushchenko was examined, there was no evidence of poisoning whatsoever," Dr Wicke, 64, said. Yet, to his dismay, persistent leaks from the clinic suggested that the politician had indeed been poisoned.

Dr Wicke said: "I was directly involved, and I can tell you that the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Vienna did not find any traces of poisonous agents in his blood. If there is no poison, there cannot be poisoning and there was no trace of it whatsoever."

Dr Wicke declined to speak at length about the dismissal case but asked if his dismissal was linked to the Yushchenko case, he said: "I will restrain from commenting but, given the facts, you will certainly not find it difficult to make your own conclusion.

"The official announcement said I left of my own free will but that wasn't the case."

He also declined to comment on speculation that Mr Yushchenko was actually suffering from stress and that he was treated by American doctors. It is also thought that the clinic in Vienna might have been used as a smokescreen.

"It was announced during Yushchenko's third visit to Vienna that he had been poisoned but I had been removed from the case by then. I don't know what evidence was taken into consideration," Dr Wicke said.

Dr Korpan said last week that several international laboratories had confirmed that Mr Yuschenko had been poisoned. "There is a reason why Dr Wicke disputed the poisoning diagnosis but it is not a medical one. It will be revealed later," he said. "I can only say that the whole thing is worth writing a book about."

The obvious question here is: how far is an individual prepared to go in their bid for power? Would you accept temporary disfigurment if it assured you the top position in the Ukrainian government?

Click here to comment on this article

Columbia "Unbecoming"
A European Student's Experience at Columbia
March 26, 2005

Before studying at Columbia University I hadn't thought much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Coming from Europe I had no specific links to the area. Then, after finishing my undergraduate degree in Europe and enrolling at Columbia as a graduate student, what struck me most was just the opposite of what some are complaining of nowadays: that is, how fanatically pro-Israel Columbia was.

After being at Columbia for a while it occurred to me that international organisations and the UN, on the one hand and Columbia and New York, on the other hand, functioned in parallel universes. At international fora and assemblies, which I followed for my studies, Israeli repression was condemned, and countless resolutions requesting Israel to abide by international law were blocked by the US. At Columbia arguments were concocted to defend Israel. I have been to many universities in many different countries and I have to say that, by far, I have never attended a more closed-minded campus than Columbia. And I am not saying this merely on account of the density of Israeli army T-shirts that can be regularly observed there.

By fall 2000 at the beginning of the second intifada, fanatical supporters of Israel sought violently to repress anybody defending the Palestinians. Students belonging to the Middle Eastern group at the Law School were practically spat upon, their tables overturned, etc. - occurrences that in Europe would be inconceivable. On the other hand, maybe due to international condemnation of Israeli policies, a debate was finally opening up on campus. Because they no longer dominate one hundred percent of public discussion, fanatical supporters of Israel on campus claim that their voices are "stifled" and that they are "unwelcome" and "silenced."

Consider these recent incidents, which I personally witnessed. When Palestinian students on the main campus distributed flyers by spring 2002 to commemorate the 1948 "nekhba" (disaster), a crowd of Hillel fanatics approached them shouting "terrorists." Had they said that to me or to any other person and had I been in the Palestinian students' shoes, it would have ended up in a fistfight. But it was the Palestinian students and not the Hillel provocateurs who showed extreme restraint. When Dr Mustafa Barghouti (who just finished second in the recent Palestinian elections) came to Columbia to give a talk in November 2003, two Hillel fanatics began to harass him during the Q&A session, heaping ridicule on his presentation as "this wonderful display of propaganda" and charging that "you Palestinians feel like victims, but how about all the weapons you get from Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah?" They then demonized Arabs in the rudest form that I have ever seen. "Thank you for the compliment about my propaganda," Barghouti replied, "but actually we are still learning about this - from you know who." When Barghouti mentioned the 4,000 Palestinians killed one of the Hillel fanatics laughed. A lady stood up and very angrily told them at least not to show their scorn for the victims publicly. When they continued to laugh, a professor told them to shut up. I wonder if that is what is meant by "silencing students who offer opposing views" - that is, rightly telling them to show a little bit of respect towards the keynote speaker and victims of the conflict, just as Israelis expect respect to be shown for their 1,000 dead since 2000. No such vulgarity was on display every time Benjamin Netanyahu came to the Business School to give a talk during the previous years.

It also bears comparing the "silencing" to which the late Professor Said was subjected at Columbia. His life was constantly threatened, so much so that he was put under police surveillance. But this silencing wasn't meant to stifle discussion, didn't lead to any public investigation and wasn't a cause of concern by New York politicians.

Then there's the stifling of dissenting voices by fanatical Zionist professors at the Law School. Some of them seem to spend all of their waking hours concocting legal alibis in defense of Mother Israel, much like Communist Party hacks did for Mother Russia in the 1930s. For example, at the height of the Israeli incursions of 2002, Professor George Fletcher put forth the long discredited notion that UN Resolution 242 "did not compel Israel to leave all territories." This masterful piece was published in the New York Times as some kind of intellectual breakthrough. Never mind that 242 emphasizes "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war." Other law school professors are avid proponents of Israel exceptionalism - that is, human rights protections like the prohibition on torture must be afforded to everyone except victims of Israeli policy.

And, while it is perfectly legitimate to write a paper on the injustices committed against the Palestinian population for a specific class on Human Rights (at the student's risk with respect to the grade), those wishing to conduct more thorough research on the topic after the J.D. degree, for which the assistance of a professor is necessary, have been told that "while the subject may be worth-while, there is no current interest among the faculty."

The truth is that Columbia is the last refuge of self-delusional Zealots for Zion. It is precisely when the ideological walls protecting this haven began to crumble that they started shouting about "silenced" and "stifled" voices and anti-Semitism. One doesn't hear this nonsense on European campuses because the zealots know the battle has been lost there: the truth is out about what Israel has done to the Palestinians. But in the U.S. the hope is that by whipping up enough hysteria they can still win here. If they do, it won't be because what they're saying is true but because the rest of us were, yet again, "silenced" and "stifled."

In what there has been mounting interest indeed especially after the events of September the 11th has been classes dealing not only about the Middle East, but about Islam. And in substantial cases pro-Israel students have enrolled in these classes not so much out of curiosity or interest, but as a means to confirm their prejudices and as a way of finding valuable "new" arguments to prove their pro-Israeli stand against "pro-Palestinians". You could hear pro-Israel defenders vigorously arguing "but the Qu'ran says this or that" to prove their point that Palestinians or Arabs or Muslims are less civilised or that the Qu'ran justifies atrocities or that Islam is a malignant religion, all as a result of having attended one class on the issue. The point also needs to be make that these classes have been attended by "students" having "worked" for the CIA or other federal agencies.

Classes dealing with Iran have also been a favourite selection of pro-Israel students. And many have used those classes to try to garner sympathy for Israel or to offer a partisan political expose or to simply show scorn for that country. I remember very vividly attending one of these classes where the presentation by a pro-Israel student shifted from Iran to the defense of anything Israel does and the criticism and outright scorn for the Palestinian Authority, Arafat, Arabs, Muslims and the like. In fact I do not recall the name of Iran being mentioned even once in the presentation. In Europe such an incident would not have happened. The Professor would have nicely told the student that the defense of Israel did not constitute the topic for the class. At Columbia, Professors, afraid that pro-Israeli students would claim to be "silenced" do not offer resistance and succumb like doves.

In the very same class in a different session pro-Israel students vigorously disputed the universally accepted assertion made by the foreign-born Professor that "Palestinians are oppressed". The Professor, for fear of reprisals, did not dwell on the issue and barely defended himself while the "silenced" students angrily and vociferously protested. That European students came to the rescue of the Professor and initiated a debate after the class was over defending what the professor mentioned in passing suggests that it is not the pro-Israel students but the Professors and anyone voicing any sort of criticism of Israel who are silenced. The European students were accused by their pro-Israeli counterparts of "being anti-Semites." Of course I forgot that Palestinians are not oppressed because it is Palestinian tanks that populate Israeli roads, Palestinian helicopters that bomb Jerusalem and Haifa, Palestinian bulldozers that destroy houses in Tel Aviv and American made Palestinian F-16 that target Israeli militants.

Columbia unbecoming? Of course the United States and Israel constitute the "axis of good" and Muslim countries find themselves more often than not in the axis of evil, but does that offer a valid explanation for the fact that the student body specially at the Law School is composed from very few students from Muslim countries and practically none from the Arab world ? Or that more than half of the accepted candidates into the S.J.D program every single year are Israelis, a country of 6 million people in a world with 6 billion inhabitants? Of course Israeli students are generally very focused and capable but should they monopolize each year more than half of the candidatures for the doctoral degree in law? Are there no law students in the Arab or Muslim world or Africa or other places? Maybe Columbia is truly unbecoming but not for the ones who claim so.

Some of the few students coming from Muslim countries, not necessarily Arabs and not Arab Americans who obviously are used to the prevalent pro-Zionist ambiance, have privately confided to me that the undisguised pro-Zionist mood at the university and specifically at the Law School is something "unbearable" and "without parallel anywhere [they] have been". Even in some cases some confessed to me that they were considering transferring to "other less pro-Zionist schools". An American girl of Middle Eastern origin enrolled in a dual program (meaning that she would share the time for her degree between a school in Europe and Columbia, thereby considerably reducing the time spent at Columbia) told me very frankly that "I am very happy that this is my last year here, I could not stand another year in this place". So maybe Columbia is truly unbecoming. But for reasons quite opposite of those alleged.

It is a fact that this constant denial of justice and justification of anything that Israel does turned Columbia and NY in general into the last self-delusional haven for zealots. It is precisely when this area of "safety" was beginning to be eroded by more students coming to terms with reality that these pro-Israeli students (and those who were behind them) started running out of arguments, felt increasingly cornered and had to turn to the ultimate argument, "stifling of voices", and eventually, sooner or later it had to be pronounced, "anti-Semitism". The ADL has decisively contributed to the debate. That the ADL intervened in the matter and solicited "punishment" against professors offering different views not in accord with Zionist myths to President Bollinger suggests that these students were not that "silenced" or "discriminated". The production of a video by a Boston-based pro-Israel group implies that these students have decided to take recourse to outside sources to vent their frustrations. And also that they possess considerable resources and outside backing in their campaign to smear Columbia University. [...]

Muslims and Islam, especially after September 11th have been vilified, insulted and defamed in the press and also in academic circles, including Columbia. For example at the Law School right after the attacks of September the 11th pro-Israel Law Students tried to present a movie by Steve Emerson, who has been notorious for waging jihad on the religion of Islam. Emerson for example was quick to blame islamists for the Oklahoma bombings of 1995 and his thesis and opinions have been widely discredited. Had it not been for the protests of a few Muslim students at the Law School the video would have been projected in the failed attempt to identify Palestinian resistance to occupation with radical Islamic Al-Qaida terrorism which has been a long desired goal of the right-wing Israeli government and its defenders (including those at Columbia). September the 11th offered a great opportunity to discredit and deligitimize the Palestinian discontent against the occupation and pro-Israeli groups tried to take advantage, even if they failed miserably.

That Columbia succumbed to outside pressure from a well-organized financially powerful group with a very notorious Israeli exculpatory policy and which seeks to persecute anyone daring to criticise that country's policies may lead us to think that the freedom of academic institutions in the US is subordinated to financial and economic interests. The resources groups like the ADL possess in order to carry out their witch hunt are enormous. The ADL should serve to protect the memory of the Holocaust and real anti-Semitism. Much the opposite the ADL is one of the organisations that actively promotes the amalgamation of the criticism of Israel and anti-semitism, which are completely different issues.

The professors being criticized are, in fact, just the closest thing Columbia has to creating a reasonable debate about the Middle East on campus and in New York as a whole. That is why they are being penalized. They are also reprimanded for expressing what the majority of the world thinks. At a time when the gap between what the rest of the world and what the U.S think has never been so wide in the Middle East conflict and in other many situations. [...]

What has happened is simply that Israeli supporters, who have run out of arguments to justify the military occupation and all it entails, when confronted with an incipient debate on a Zionist campus have felt they were pushed into a corner out of which there is no exit. It remains extremely difficult to justify dispossession and injustice in the inter-connected world we live in nowadays. What is especially troubling for pro-Israeli supporters is that not only Arab or Middle Eastern students, few at Columbia and specially absent from the Law School, but also European students and increasingly American students have started to complain against Israeli violations on campus. Pro-Israeli students have been caught off-guard or have been left without arguments. And they have resorted to powerful outside groups and lobbies to come to the rescue. Calling the current atmosphere at Columbia as a "bias" against Israel and favoring the Palestinians is just a self-delusional ploy, aimed at shifting responsibility to the others, justifying the unjustifiable.

Marc Robert is the pseudonym of a student at Columbia University.

Comment: It is important to remember that all Israelis are not Zionists, just as all Americans are not right wing Christians. Many Jews despise the actions of Sharon and his Zionist crew. Having said that, the Zionist influence is extraordinary both inside Israel and in most other parts of the world.

In the US, bias in favor of Zionist policies is not exactly unique to Columbia University, and neither are the actions of pro-Zionist lobbying groups. The Zionists exert an enormous influence on American politics. One very obvious piece of evidence to support such a statement is the fact that the US has vigorously defended Israel in the international community for quite some time. When the rest of the world was ready to say "enough is enough" to the Zionists currently controlling Israel, the US always stepped in and blocked any and all efforts. While Zionist influence is certainly visible in other nations, the only one Israel really needs at the moment is the world's sole remaining superpower: the US of A.

At some point in the future, this relationship will no doubt change rather drastically. While the Neocons are using fundamentalist Christians to further the goals of Bush and the gang, the Zionists scream "Holocaust!" and "anti-Semitism!" at the drop of a hat. The Christians believe that Armageddon is just around the corner, and they are anxious to hop on a cloud and ride up to heaven with Jesus when he makes his next appearance. Fundy Christians expect Jews to either convert or be "left behind". The Zionists who have hijacked Judaism obviously have other plans for Christians in mind. It is clear that there isn't enough "room" for both the Jews and the Christians. Among hard core believers, each group believes that the other is dead wrong and in for a rude awakening. Some friendship!

Perhaps this article is an indication that the first cracks in the relationship are starting to show. When either the Zionists or the fundies/Neocons are backed into a corner, you can bet that the fireworks - both literally and figuratively - will start in earnest.

Click here to comment on this article

Bush praises fallen security guard
Derrick Brun
Saturday, March 26, 2005

WACO, Texas (AP) -- President Bush on Saturday praised Minnesota high school security guard Derrick Brun for saving countless students by bravely confronting the teenage gunman who shot and killed him.

"Derrick's bravery cost him his life, and all Americans honor him," Bush said in his first public comments about Monday's shootings on Minnesota's Red Lake Indian reservation. [...]

Some American Indians have complained that Bush did not respond publicly to the shooting for four days. His first communication with the community came Friday morning in a five-minute telephone call to Floyd Jourdain Jr., chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa.

In contrast, President Clinton publicly expressed his condolences within hours of the shootings that left 15 dead at Columbine High School in 1999.

Click here to comment on this article

For Russians, Police Rampage Fuels Fear

One Town Draws Attention to Widespread Torture and Killings
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, March 27, 2005; Page A01

BLAGOVESHCHENSK, Russia -- In this town in central Russia, last Dec. 10 was a cold, snowless Friday opening the holiday weekend when Russia celebrates its constitution. The rights enshrined in that document, as well as many residents of Blagoveshchensk, were about to take a beating.

At 11 p.m., the main street, a long drag of crumbling apartment blocks and street-level stores, seemed eerily quiet to Anastasia Rozhenkova when she emerged from a friend's apartment. In the darkness, Rozhenkova, 19, hurried to a store to buy some cigarettes while her husband lingered over his farewells.

"From nowhere, people wearing black masks grabbed me and twisted my hands behind my back," Rozhenkova recounted in an interview. "They pushed me onto the ground and kicked me."

In those first moments, Rozhenkova said, she didn't know if she was being mugged by thieves or kidnapped by terrorists: "I was in shock, terrified." But as she was dragged to a nearby bus, her lip and nose swelling from the kicks, her calves and thighs burning from baton strikes, Rozhenkova realized she was not in the hands of bandits.

She had been arrested.

Between Dec. 10 and Dec. 14, hundreds of Blagoveshchensk residents were arrested and beaten by local police and masked special forces from the regional Interior Ministry, according to people and officials here. The sweep, designed to crack down on what the authorities said were assaults on police officers and a spiking crime rate in the town of 30,000 people, turned into a police riot.

The violence ranks among the most graphic illustrations of the failure of Russian police to embrace the rule of law since the fall of the Soviet Union, and the state's inability or unwillingness to impose it on them. The abuses have fueled a profound crisis of public confidence in the criminal justice system, at a time when the government of President Vladimir Putin seeks to galvanize citizens to fight terrorism, crime and corruption. [...]

The regional prosecutor's office has accepted more than 200 complaints from residents and so far has found that 120 residents are "injured parties" entitled to legal redress, according to the Interior Ministry. Most of those detained, like Rozhenkova, were held for one night.

A Not Uncommon Story

For human rights groups and legal scholars, Blagoveshchensk is unusual only for its scale and the fact that the regional Interior Ministry admitted to widespread violations. Every year, in huge numbers, Russians are beaten, tortured and sometimes killed by the police, according to reports by human rights and government agencies, opinion polls and revelations from high-profile cases.

According to a nationwide survey published this month by the Levada Center in Moscow, 71 percent of respondents said they didn't trust the police at all while 2 percent thought the police act within the law. That number approaches zero when people working in law enforcement and their families are factored out of those likely to have been surveyed. In a separate poll this month by the Public Opinion Foundation, 41 percent of Russian respondents said they lived in fear of police violence. [...]

Police brutality extends well beyond the breakaway republic of Chechnya, where widespread human rights violations have been documented in 10 years of armed conflict.

In the Volga River city of Nizhniy Novgorod in 2002, for instance, Dmitry Ochelkov, 26, said police had covered his face with a gas mask with the air supply cut off, according to the human rights group Committee Against Torture, a U.N. body. Activists say this is a fairly common interrogation practice known as the "little elephant."

In the republic of Tatarstan in 2003, a number of juvenile offenders reported being submerged in water from toilets while others said they had rags shoved down their throats. And in Moscow last year, a man the police suspected was a terrorist was beaten so badly while in custody that his wife was subsequently unable to identify his corpse.

"Such cases are typical and widespread," said Olga Shepeleva, a lawyer at the Demos Research Center for Civil Society in Moscow, which monitors police abuse. "There is nothing exceptional about them."

Murder 'Victim' Turns Up

In September 1998, Alexei Mikheyev confessed to the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl in Nizhniy Novgorod after what he said was nine days of torture, including electric shock, in a local police station. In an interview, he said he felt as if his body was exploding when the wires, which were attached to his earlobes, were turned on.

When Mikheyev was brought to the prosecutor's office after that, he retracted his statement. He was then sent back to the police station for further questioning on the instruction of a prosecutor. Faced with more physical abuse, he said, he threw himself out a third-floor window, breaking his back; he now walks with the aid of crutches and sometimes uses a wheelchair.

The girl he allegedly killed returned home the day after his suicide attempt. She had disappeared with a group of partying young people.

In the intervening years, prosecutors were reluctant to press charges against the police officers involved. They dropped 23 preliminary investigations and reopened their probes only after Mikheyev's lawyers exposed legal irregularities in the decisions to drop the case, according to Igor Kalyapin, chair of the Committee Against Torture in Nizhniy Novgorod, which took up Mikheyev's case. "Prosecutors sabotage these cases," he said.

The investigation was reopened for the 24th time late last year, after the European Court of Human Rights agreed to hear the case.

"When the European Court intervened, an order came down from the prosecutor general's office to investigate the case and charge somebody," said Kalyapin. Four policemen are under investigation, he said. Requests to the prosecutor's office to provide someone to discuss the case did not lead to an interview. [...]

"The prevalence of abuse suggests that roughly 6.2 million Russian adults are victimized by police violence in a two-three year window," Theodore P. Gerber of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Sarah E. Mendelson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington wrote in a draft paper scheduled for publication this fall. "These numbers are in fact quite staggering and imply that police abuse is indeed widespread even commonplace in contemporary Russia." [...]

Comment: Only a few short years ago, Putin and Bush were best buddies. This type of article would never have appeared in a mainstream American newspaper back then. Now, Bush visits Putin and ironically points out that Russia is sorely lacking in the democracy department. While we do not doubt that humans rights abuses take place in Russia, what about human rights violations in the US? What about the torture and rendition of prisoners in the war on terror? From detainment without trial or even criminal charges, to torture, to the Patriot Acts, the US is heading quite rapidly down the road that Russia is already traveling. Obviously, the media still won't go there.

It is clear that the recent stories about China and Russia indicate a growing polarization of major world powers. One might suspect that Russia and China, among other nations, will be presented as the "bad guys" in the not too distant future, even as civil liberties and the remaining shreds of justice in the US completely evaporate.

Click here to comment on this article

Fresh details emerge of Iraqis' abuse by American soldiers
By David Randall in London and Andrew Buncombe in Washington
The Independent
27 March 2005

Damning evidence of American soldiers abusing detainees at another prison in Iraq was made public yesterday. It details how prisoners were "systematically and intentionally mistreated" at a military base in Mosul, culminating in the death of one. Nobody was court-martialled over the abuse.

An investigation by a US officer after a prisoner's jaw was broken found that inmates were hit with water bottles, made to do exhausting physical exercises until they collapsed, deprived of sleep, subjected to deafening heavy metal music and had cigarette smoke blown into sandbags they were forced to wear as hoods. One soldier said troops "always harassed the hell out of detainees"; another said that at times "the detainees would get so scared they would piss themselves".

In December 2003 a prisoner died after four days of continuous punishment. According to the documents, which were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, mistreatmentwas not confined to Abu Ghraib jail, where abuse and sexual humiliation of inmates caused worldwide outrage last year.

The facility at Mosul was run by the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division. In a memo, the investigating officer said: "There is evidence that suggests the 311th MI personnel ... engaged in physical torture." His report in January 2004 said prisoners' rights under the Geneva Conventions had been violated.

The investigation was triggered by the case of Salah Salih Jassim, 20, who had his jaw broken in detention. He was not a suspect but had been arrested along with his father, an officer in Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen militia. Mr Jassim was held in a room with 70 other prisoners. Deafening heavy metal music was played and guards sounded bullhorns beside their heads. Mr Jassim said: "All night they were throwing water on us and making us stand and squat. From the night to the next day ... they were beating us."

The report said: "The detainees had sandbags over their heads that were marked with different crimes, leading the guards to believe that the particular detainee committed that particular crime." The bag on Jassim's head was marked "IED" ­ the acronym for the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed hundreds of troops. Soldiers in the room when Mr Jassim's jaw was broken all said they did not see the incident and the investigation was unable to determine which guards were at fault. None was punished.

The newly released records also had details of other abuse investigations.And last week, the US reopened an inquiry into how an Iraqi government scientist died while in detention. Mohammad Munim al-Izmerly, 65 when he died on 31 January 2004, is the only known weapons scientist to have died in US custody. The family commissioned an Iraqi post mortem, which found he died of a blow to the head.

Click here to comment on this article

Pentagon Will Not Try 17 G.I.'s Implicated in Prisoners' Deaths
March 26, 2005

WASHINGTON, March 25 - Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army.

Investigators had recommended that all 17 soldiers be charged in the cases, according to the accounting by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The charges included murder, conspiracy and negligent homicide. While none of the 17 will face any prosecution, one received a letter of reprimand and another was discharged after the investigations.

To date, the military has taken steps toward prosecuting some three dozen soldiers in connection with a total of 28 confirmed or suspected homicides of detainees. The total number of such deaths is believed to be between 28 and 31.

In one of the three cases in which no charges are to be filed, the commanders determined the death to be "a result of a series of lawful applications of force." In the second, the commanders decided not to prosecute because of a lack of evidence. In the third, they determined the soldier involved had not been well informed of the rules of engagement.

A spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigation Command, Chris Grey, said in a statement: "We take each and every death very seriously and are committed and sworn to investigating each case with the utmost professionalism and thoroughness. We are equally determined to get to the truth wherever the evidence may lead us and regardless of how long it takes."

Human rights groups and others have criticized the military for not pursuing prosecution more aggressively.

The accounting was the most detailed the military has yet made public of the deaths of prisoners in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of the 28 deaths investigated, 13 occurred in American detention centers in those countries and 15 occurred at the point where prisoners were captured. Only one occurred in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which has been known until now as the site of the most extensive abuses by American military personnel.

The 28 deaths include two cases involving members of the Navy Seals, which are still being investigated by the Navy, according to military officials. They also include a prisoner in Marine Corps custody whose death resulted in the conviction of two marines on charges including assault and dereliction of duty, according to a Marine spokesman.

Not included in the 28 are three other deaths of prisoners involving marines but under investigation by the Navy. [...]

Comment: The culture installed from the top, through decisions of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, through the legal advice of Gonzales and the self-righteousness of Bush, is one of violence. The leaders responsible for this climate have already been exonerated. Perhaps the decisions in these cases were necessary to prevent a rebellion among the troops. The double standard might lead to discontent that could prevent the successful completion of the neocon's plans to conquer the Arab world for Israel.

Then again, the investigators may believe that their soldiers did no wrong.

Let us note, however, that US refusal to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court, and its insistence that countries who wish to do business with the US sign waivers stating clearly that they will not prosecute US citizens before said court, does raise questions as to whether the whole thing was planned in advance.

Coincidence? We think not.

There is also the revelation that one of the soldiers will not be prosecuted because he "had not been well informed of the rules of engagement." We take it then that the fact that the soldier did not know that to unlawfully kill another person is a crime means that he cannot be prosecuted. Has anyone heard of this law being applied ANYWHERE else at ANYTIME throughout history, other than where there is a case for pleading insanity of diminished responsibility?? A complete coherent citizen, in possession of all facilities simply claims that they did not know that murder was a crime and they get away with it!!?

Perhaps Bush, Cheney, Rumsfled etc. are just establishing a precedent in the courts for when it is their turn to stand trial.

Click here to comment on this article

France puts ex-Guantanamo inmate in detention
March 25, 2005

PARIS - A French appeals court ordered that a prisoner released from the US military base in Guantanamo be detained in a ruling Friday that overturned a judge's decision two weeks ago to let him go free, his lawyer said.

Redouane Khalid, 36, was placed in provisional detention, the attorney, Paul-Albert Iweins, said.

He was released March 12 despite being placed under criminal investigation by France's top anti-terrorist judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, along with former Guantanamo prisoner, Khaled Ben Mustapha, 33, who remains in custody.

The court Friday confirmed the detention of Ben Mustapha.

"The court is taking the position of the prosecutors, who don't consider that Guantanamo ever existed," Iweins told journalists. "Even the Russians" have freed their nationals returned from the infamous US base, he said.

Kahlid, Ben Mustapha, and another man, Mustaq Ali Patel, were the last three French citizens held at the Guantanamo base. Four others were returned in July and are still in jail as their case unfolds.

Patel was released without charge on March 9, two days after the three arrived in Paris aboard a French military flight. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

EU accuses Israel of violating "road map" peace plan


The EU foreign policy chief Solana accused Israel of violating the "road map" for Middle East peace

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana accused Israel of violating the internationally-backed “road map” for Middle East peace by planning to expand the largest settlement in the occupied West Bank.

"The High Representative expresses his concern after the Israeli decision to issue building permits for the E1 project in Maaleh Adumim," Solana said in a statement.

"This decision contravenes the commitment of the parties to abstain from any unilateral measure that could affect the final settlement as the Quartet recalled in London on March 1," he said, referring to the group of international brokers; the United States, Russia, the EU and the United Nations.

He added that the EU expects the Israeli government to “abide by its obligations as set out in the road map”, which demands Israel to stop all settlement activity and evacuate all unauthorized outposts in the occupied territories.

The peace plan, adopted in 2003, states reciprocal steps by the Israelis and the Palestinians, leading to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Israel is expected to suspend all settlement activity in the first stage, in exchange for security measures which newly elected Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas is implementing.

Israeli sources said on Monday that the government plans to build more than 3,500 new homes connecting the settlement of Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

The Maaleh Adumim is located between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea on land seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.

The Palestinians say that expanding the Maaleh Adumim will cutt off east Jerusalem, which they want as a capital for their future state.

Despite international calls to freeze the settlement construction, Sharon has rejected a suspension, and is also pressing ahead with building work at two other settlements; Gush Etzion and Ariel.

The international community considers all Israeli settlements as illegal and a huge obstacle to peace.

Click here to comment on this article

Rice: US Still Supports Partial West Bank Retention for Israel
By VOA News
27 March 2005
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Washington remains firm in its commitment to support Israeli plans to retain large Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank as part of any final peace deal with Palestinians.

Ms. Rice told Israeli radio Sunday that while the United States "will not prejudice the outcome of final status negotiations...existing major Israeli population centers will have to be taken into account."

However, Secretary Rice has expressed concern over one West Bank settlement. She says Israeli plans to build thousands of additional homes in a settlement Maaleh Adumin, near Jerusalem could threaten peace with the Palestinians, and is at odds with American policy.

Palestinians say the project would cut access to East Jerusalem where they hope to establish the capital of a future state.

Comment: Yup, the Yanks are the brokers in the middle, the one's who are going to make certain that the Palestinians get what's coming to them.

Click here to comment on this article

Israeli Spy Back At Work In The Pentagon

New York Daily News

WASHINGTON - The alleged Pentagon "mole" accused of feeding information to the country's top Jewish-American lobby group for Israel was back on the job yesterday after seven months in legal limbo.

Larry Franklin, the Iran analyst at the Pentagon caught up in an FBI sting, "is a Defense Department employee" but his current job was unclear, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Franklin came under fire last year after he allegedly was caught passing classified information to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which bills itself as the "most influential foreign policy organization on Capitol Hill" with 85,000 activists.

The FBI then allegedly turned Franklin, who set up AIPAC officials in a sting by passing on phony secrets.

Two senior members of AIPAC - Steve Rosen and Kevin Weissman - were suspended and four others were called before a Virginia grand jury investigating the group, but no indictments have been handed up so far.

An AIPAC spokesman declined to comment on Franklin or the status of Rosen and Weissman. "We just don't comment on personnel matters," the spokesman said.

Comment: So what's the big deal? Franklin has simply returned to his old job with all the other Israeli spies in the US Defence Department.

Click here to comment on this article

A venue for murder plots

By Kamau Ngotho

Oasis Club was first exposed as the place where danger and pleasure mixed freely by British espionage writer Gordon Thomas, in a 2003 book, Gideon’s Spies.

The author describes the club as the place where Kenya’s business community and international spy agents could drink all night in its gloomy interior. In the process, he says, they would take a bar-girl to one of the rooms outback after her medical certificate confirmed she was free of venereal diseases.

On the activities of foreign spies at the club, Gordon says: "They were not there for the cold beer or what the club advertised as the hottest girls in all Africa. These men worked for intelligence services fighting to gain a foothold in east and central Africa, where only Britain’s MI6 had secretly operated."

He describes the ‘strangers’ as Chinese in safari suits, slab-faced Russians and men whose nationality could have been of any country around the Mediterranean basin. He identifies them as belonging to the Chinese Secret Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Soviet KGB, and Israel’s Mossad.

The Oasis Club, says the British author, had become part of the battle for the hearts and minds of African revolutionaries. Within the club’s stifling atmosphere, plots were hatched, deals made and targets identified for execution or destruction. Some victims would be ambushed driving on a dirt road and others killed in their beds. One day it would be a KGB agent, the next a CSIS spy. Each side blamed the other for what Mossad had done.

Back at the Oasis Club, the nights would continue as before, with new plans being made around the bamboo tables with rain rolling off the hills and beating the tin roof, now replaced with red tiles.

Comment: See this link for our research into Mossad involvement in Kenya and the attack on the Mombassa hotel in 2002 that was blamed on "al-Qaeda".

Click here to comment on this article

The GoogleSmear as Political Tactic
Juan Cole
Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Google search has become so popular that prospective couples planning a date will google one another. Mark Levine, a historian at the University of California Irvine, tells the story of how a radio talk show host called him a liar because he referred to an incident that the host could not find on google. That is, if it isn't in google, it didn't happen. (Levine was able to retrieve the incident from Lexis Nexis, a restricted database).

It seems to me that David Horowitz and some far rightwing friends of his have hit upon a new way of discrediting a political opponent, which is the GoogleSmear. It is an easy maneuver for someone like Horowitz, who has extremely wealthy backers, to set up a web magazine that has a high profile and is indexed in google news. Then he just commissions persons to write up lies about people like me (leavened with innuendo and out-of-context quotes). Anyone googling me will likely come upon the smear profiles, and they can be passed around to journalists and politicians as though they were actual information.

Recently Steven Plaut, an Israeli defender, at the University of Haifa, of the terrorist groups around the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, was commissioned by Horowitz (and probably others of that circle) to do yet another hatchet job on me, the second in just a few months. I replied to the earlier smear at my blog.

Plaut cited the earlier smears and rightwing bloggers as authorities. (One smear now becomes a "citation" for the next one!)

The GoogleSmear references a body of falsehoods. It creates a nexus of links that increase the chance that the smear will come to the top of a google search.

Many thanks to Matthew Barganier for pointing out that Plaut just made up allegations against me, of having published an op-ed in the New York Times in which I am supposed to have praised the Syrian elections (?) and spoken against democracy. He must have been imbibing something illegal when he came up with that complete fantasy. Although Plaut at length removed the falsehoods from the page when repeatedly challenged, he did not apologize or issue a formal correction. Moreover, he posted the false allegation to a bulletin board under an assumed name (just to be sure that future GoogleSmears can reference the now-missing paragraph, elsewhere on the Web).

Thanks also to Justin Raimundo for his acerbic dissection of Plaut's tripe.

The GoogleSmear depends on subtle changes of wording that make the individual sound like an idiot. For instance, in one column, I wrote that "much of the Arab world has a formal peace treaty with Israel." Egyptians constitute about a third of the Arabs, and with Jordan account for some 75 million persons. Over a third of the Arab population would be "much", and the statement is perfectly correct. Moreover, the whole Arab League offered Israel a comprehensive peace only 2 years ago, which doesn't sound like they want to destroy Israel, as the Zionist Right keeps alleging. Anyway, in the GoogleSmear version, it is implied that I said that a "majority" of Arab "states" have a peace treaty with Israel, which is not true (though the way things are going, it may soon be. Oman, Qatar and others are threatening to break from the Arab League consensus, as Egypt and Jordan have already done).

The Zionist far right is also upset that I pointed out that Palestinian and Hizbullah terrorism had its roots in Israeli military occupation of other people's land. They argue that this thesis is invalidated by the military occupations that have not produced terrorism, as with Tibet in China.

But in fact the Chinese occupation of Xinjiang has produced some small terrorist movements. And the Chinese government certainly saw the Kampa revolt of 1959 to be a terrorist action. There are intervening variables in these matters, in any case. For instance, the Tibetan population was not socially mobilized (had low levels of literacy, urbanization, industrialization, modern communications, etc.), which reduced its organizational capacity.

Another stupid thing in Plaut's GoogleSmear (there are so many) is a typical 189 Fallacy argument. The Zionist Right maintains that you can't criticize Israeli violations of basic human rights and international law until you first criticize all the other 188 countries in the world. Plaut's variation is to bring up the Sudan. (There are lots of massacres, deaths and tragedies in the world that I don't have time to cover in my little blog; indeed, Iraq most often exhausts my time and energies all by itself.) As with the Zionist Right generally, he makes the mistake of racializing the Sudan problems, using anti-Semitic language accusing "Arabs" of killing thousands of "black Africans."

But the "Arabs" of the Sudan are black (some are brown or lighter shades of black, but not by any means all, and anyway so are e.g. Eritreans just to the south). The Sudanese "Arabs" just speak Arabic or identify with the Arabs. It isn't a matter of US-style race, which is based on color. Moreover, the people of Darfur are Muslims and many know Arabic. So the massacres in Darfur are not about "Arabs" versus "black Africans." They are between two groups of Muslim black Africans.

I defy anyone to tell me which is the "black African" and which the "Arab" Janjawid in these pictures.

The rightwing Zionists want to racialize the Sudan conflict in American terms, as "Arab" versus "black African" because they want to use it to play American domestic politics, and create a rift among African-Americans and Arab-Americans. Both of the latter face massive discrimination in contemporary society, and they should find ways of cooperating to counter it. What is happening in Darfur is horrible with regard to the loss of life and the displacement of persons, but the dispute is not about race. It is about political separatism and regionalism.

I am well aware that the GoogleSmear and other techniques of propaganda may well succeed. Horowitz and his minions are funded to the tune of millions, and I am just one lone individual. And, maybe it is even dangerous to tangle with someone who admires Kahane and his followers.

But as of September 11, I'm not going to stand by and let extremists of any stripe drag my country into danger, as the Likud Party is doing. Silence is not an option.

Comment: Ah, the GoogleSmear. A tactic of which we, too, have been the victim. Along with death threats and other forms of intimidation. Speaking out against Zionist control of the US media, its influence in the Bush Reich, the double standard applied to Israel, the phoney equivilence of any criticism of Israel with "anti-Semitism", the genocide of the Palestinians, references to the similarities between the situation in the occupied territories and apartheid, all of these will bring down the warriors of the arrogant and blood-thirsty god Yahweh upon your head.

But, upon consideration, one can also see the GoogleSmear in a different light. Anyone who is willing to believe such slanders is most likely not ready to hear what we have to say in any case. Then again, most of the Americans who contribute to this page left their country when the Bush agenda was clear, thinking that it was better to continue to fight than wait for the brown shirts to come and haul them away. Those who stayed to fight in Nazi Germany ended up dead without changing a thing.

Looking at the situation in the United States, the possibility to avoid another full-fledged fascist state, we are not very optimistic.

First: 9/11. How many Americans are willing to even consider the idea that the attacks of September 11, 2005 were an inside job, planned and carried out in order to further the neo-con and Israeli agenda? In not looking the events of 911 in the face, and this includes those who are resolutely anti-Bush, they underestimate the enemy. They do not acknowledge the lengths that these people will go to implement their plans.

These are people who would plant a nuclear device in an American city and then blame Osama or the Iranians or whoever might be the Evil Dictator of the Week.

Second: Control of the population through diversion. One argument against the idea that the US is already fascist is that the government has not yet resorted to open warfare on its population. There is still the façade of democratic government. However, given the greater penetration of media such as film and television than in Germany or Italy during the years of fascism, there may never be the need to such actions. The body politic is asleep, dreaming soundly of pop stars and celebrity heart-break while their country is destroyed around them. We have no doubt that should the need arise, the example cases such as arresting and handcuffing ten-year olds or holding people accused of being terrorists indefinitely with no right of law will quickly become the norm. The test cases floated in the media are serving as a psychological softening of the target population, getting them ready to accept even greater restrictions on their civil liberties. If they weren't then you would see people protesting their horror at these facts.

Where are the protests?

Third: Economic collapse. Many pundits and commentators in the alternative media are expecting a major economic "readjustment" in the next year. They argue that the US cannot possibly continue on with its current debt. It no longer is a country that produces anything of value, with an economy driven by consumption fueled by ever greater private debt. An economic collapse will leave Americans without savings, out of work, out of home, all sucked up into the black hole of the richest few percent. Such a collapse has in the past marked a noticable increase in radical activities and mass movements among those affected.

Will that be the sign for the brown shirts? Or will the Bush Reich succeed in managing the collapse in such a way as to blame it on a foreign enemy, thereby welding together an even stronger military force to continue its foreign campaigns...all in the name of saving the American way of life?

Or will the brainwashing of too many hours of Fox News and Fox TV, mixed with a frequency fence erected to separate people from their own thoughts, leave the population incapable of any reaction at all?

Four: The Christian Right. Here we have a force of some 50 million adults, not counting their inculcated children, who believe that the end of the world is nigh, that Jesus will be returning to save the believers and remove them from this earth before the Tribulations begin...or during or after, depending upon of which sect one is a member. For these people, anything that seems to be leading to a collapse of society, from warfare to the environment to the economy, is a Good Thing, a Holy Thing, another Sign that Jesus is on his way to save the righteous, and, perhaps more importantly, to punish the heathen. These people support Bush and his war mongering. They believe anyone who doesn't is a traitor and an atheist.

Put these four elements togther and you have a potent concoction for chaos and catastrophe.

And where are the white knights? Who is there to change the situation if not the Americans themselves? And we have just seen what state they are in: denial for those who oppose Bush; hysterical, Armageddon preaching for those who support him.

What those who are horrified at this flourishing of entropy must keep in mind, however, is this: we live in a non-linear world. Small acts can have effects beyond our ability to foresee. Standing for the Truth in one's own life can lead to change on the macroscopic level. Whether or not one succeeds is not as important as taking a stand for Truth with the understanding that if it is to live at all in this world, it must live through us.

One stands for the Truth because that is who one is.

Click here to comment on this article

Blair clashes with Cabinet over Wolfowitz nomination
Nick Mathiason
Sunday March 27, 2005
The Observer

Tony Blair has clashed with Cabinet members in a bitter row over the nomination of the neo-conservative US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, as president of the World Bank.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn is said to be furious that Blair kept him in the dark over the nomination, which was announced by President George Bush two weeks ago.

Benn has written to the Prime Minister outlining his frustrations. Sources close to Gordon Brown describe the Chancellor as 'incandescent' over the nomination. Blair was aware of Bush's plans for a month before they became public, and declined to tell either the Chancellor, who is a key IMF figure, or Benn, a World Bank board member.

Article continues
But a Blair aide said the Prime Minister was 'comfortable' with the architect of the Iraq war taking the helm of the world's most important poverty alleviation institution, which dishes out loans of $20 billion each year.

European leaders are unlikely to block Wolfowitz's appointment if the British government supports him. He is expected to be confirmed boss of the World Bank at its spring meeting next month. But Europe's leaders are trying to negotiate for a European deputy to Wolfowitz and there are suggestions the Americans have agreed to back Pascal Lamy, the former European Union trade commissioner, as the next director general of the World Trade Organisation in a behind-the-scenes deal.

There are plans for European development ministers to quiz Wolfowitz on Wednes day and he will be formally interviewed by World Bank board members, including Benn, on Friday.

Wolfowitz has cited his experience as US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 1982 to 1986, and as ambassador to Indonesia during the Reagan administration's final three years in the late 1980s.

But details are emerging of how he pandered to Indonesia's dictator, Suharto, who seized power in 1965-66 through a slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. Rather than express pro-democracy arguments, Wolfowitz did little to stop the military's illegal occupation of East Timor, which resulted in more than 200,000 deaths. He also spent time helping to secure lucrative contracts for US business interests.

Comment: Deal-making. We'll grudgingly accept your nominee if you accept ours. Do the Europeans really believe that the Wolfie will lose his spots?

Click here to comment on this article

Fort Bragg Officer's Hiccups, Death A Mystery
7:31 pm EST March 26, 2005

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- The family of a Fort Bragg officer recently back from Iraq said Capt. Terrance Wright seemed to hiccup almost constantly for weeks before he died earlier this month.

The Army said Wright died of an unknown illness shortly after returning from Iraq in February. His body was found in a Fayetteville motel room on March 2.

Wright's mother, Sandra Wright, and an aunt, Karen Wright, said Wright had been a healthy 33-year-old before he deployed to Iraq in November. It was his second tour in Iraq.

Karen Wright said she spoke to her nephew in Iraq in early February.

"He could not speak one sentence without hiccuping," she said.

Wright was seen by doctors in Germany and at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., before being sent to a doctor at Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg last month, said Capt. Kevin Broadnax, an Army casualty assistance officer.

Federal privacy laws bar the Army from saying why Wright was being seen at Womack, hospital spokeswoman Shannon Lynch said.

An autopsy performed on Wright's body by Womack doctors was inconclusive, Lynch said. The hospital is waiting for the results of toxicology tests, she said. [...]

Karen Wright said the last time anybody reported seeing her nephew was Feb. 25, five days before his body was found.

On that day, according to Sandra Wright, a captain in his battalion said she asked her son if he was feeling all right. Capt. Wright had been sweating profusely, Sandra Wright said she was told. [...]

Capt. Wright's death follows the deaths of two North Carolina soldiers who died after returning from the Middle East and experiencing flu-like symptoms.

State epidemiologist Jeffrey Engel said the deaths of Special Forces Capt. Gilbert A. Munoz and Army Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Rogers, a reservist, were related only in their timing.

Munoz, 29, appears to have had a bacterial infection and the flu, Engel said. He died of pneumonia Feb. 9. Rogers, 37, died on Feb. 14, just two days after he began feeling ill, his wife said.

Click here to comment on this article

Potomac Watch: No-casket-photo rule angers slain soldier's mother
March 26, 2005

WASHINGTON -- A single red rose in hand, Karen Meredith leans over her son's simple white stone marker at Arlington National Cemetery.

Tears fall before words.

It's her first visit since she buried 1st Lt. Kenneth Michael Ballard, a fourth-generation soldier, last fall.

Still fresh, like the soil churned behind her son's grave for another row of dead, is her anger. Anger at the way the Pentagon refused her sole wish when her son was killed by a sniper last May to photograph his casket returning from Iraq.

Meredith wanted to capture the way fellow soldiers respectfully draped the American flag across the casket, tucking the sides just so, and the way an honor guard watched over him as he was unloaded from a cargo plane.

But the Pentagon firmly said "no." It was against regulations and would violate the privacy of family members of other slain soldiers.

"It's dishonorable and disrespectful to the families," said Meredith. "They say it's for privacy, but it's really because they don't want the country to see how many people are coming back in caskets." [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Massive Protest in Taiwan Against China Law
By Alice Hung
Sat Mar 26, 7:23 AM ET

TAIPEI - Hundreds of thousands of people chanting "Oppose war, Love Taiwan" joined President Chen Shui-bian Saturday to protest against China's anti-secession law that sanctions the use of force against the island.

Chen's ruling Democratic Progressive Party hopes the protest will draw international attention to the new law and put pressure on China to scrap it.

Organizers said 1 million people joined the show of people power against Beijing's military threat, but Taipei police estimated the crowd at just over 240,000.

"I am here to protest against a barbaric China which looks down upon the Taiwanese people," said 70-year-old businessman Fan Wen-yi, adding he was not affiliated to any political party and had never participated in a protest before. "The anti-secession law, simply put, is a law that authorizes war."

The protestors chanted slogans and waved green flags that read "democracy, peace, protect Taiwan" as they marched toward the presidential office from 10 locations around the capital, symbolizing the 10 clauses of the anti-secession law. [...]

The rally dispersed peacefully after a giant red balloon in the shape of a sea-urchin, symbolizing Chinese missile threats, was deflated. [...]

Click here to comment on this article


Rich Spohr, SATC
March 18, 2005

Interesting developments in the markets....The nation's largest mortgage player Fannie Mae (FNM) is now circling the drain. Over the last 6 months FNM has dropped over 31%. Thats a $23 Billion dollar LOSS.

Fannie is not merely the second largest financial entity in the country, after Citibank. Via her mortgage securitization, she's the engine of Real Estate Asset Inflation, the motor of Bubble II.

With a balance sheet larger than the Federal Reserve's, Fannie is arguably a larger creator of money and credit than the Fed itself.

Make no mistake: Fannie is a vital keystone of the US Ponzi Pyramid economy. If this Engine of Asset Inflation is shut down, the Fed will face grim choices in replacing Fannie's firehose-like credit creation.

But the Fannie collapse is only the beginning, not the end, of a dismal process.

Fannie is SCREAMING DANGER to anyone who will listen.

The warning is not just about FNM stock. It's about ALL paper securities, including the dollar.

The nation's largest insurer and Dow member (AIG) is under a major investigation with it's CEO forced to resign. AIG, formerly one of the largest manipulators of the Silver market has dropped 30% in the last 6 months alone, vaporising some $6 billion dollars in shareholder value.

The nation's largest employer, best-known company, major mortgage player and Dow member General Motors (GM) is also circling the drain. GM has given up 44% of it's value or $12.5 billion dollars recently. Today, 3-18-05, a prominent Bloomberg economist recommended GM file Chapter 11 Bankruptsy.

Our nation's largest bank and Dow member (Citibank) has been ordered by the Federal Reserve to halt acquisitions to get their financial and accounting house in order so as not to cause a derivitives meltdown.

The biggest players in our financial economy are teetering on the brink, yet the Dow is still less than 3% off recently set 3-year highs. Are all these problems fully offset by a 3% drop?

Click here to comment on this article

Life expectancy for the French increases to 80
By John Lichfield in Parir
The Independent
25 March 2005

In the week of the centenary of Jules Verne's death, the news has a poetic ring. Every French baby born in 2005 can expect to be around the world for 80 years.

After stalling for a few years, French life expectancy is rising sharply again, especially for women. For the first time, normal life expectancy in France has crossed the 80-year barrier.

Women can expect to live for 83.8 years (compared to 81 in Britain). French men now live to 76.7 (76 here). The figures prove what many have long suspected: that the French are secretly a Very Happy People and that France is, whether it admits it or not, a well-balanced and well-run country. "This is good news because it is a symptom of a society which is going well," said Claudine Attias-Donfut, a sociologist who specialises in the problems of old people. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Winter rains bring out rare desert flowers in California
March 27, 2005 at 7:17 AM
Associated Press
March 27, 2005

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - The usually brown landscape of California's Joshua Tree National Park has lots of green, yellow and blue this spring.

The reason? Winter storms that dumped up to 15 inches of rain on the normally dry desert area about 140 miles east of Los Angeles.

Park officials say more than 750 species of flowers can be found in the 800,000-acre park, and they expect all of them to bloom this year because of the rain.

They call it a rare event but say it's happened before.

This has been one of the wettest seasons on record in southern California.

Click here to comment on this article

Easter Bunny Gets Pummeled by Boy at Mall
Sat Mar 26,12:59 PM ET

BAY CITY, Mich. - The Easter Bunny is hopping mad. Bryan Johnson, who portrays the furry character at the Bay City Mall, says he was pummeled in an unprovoked attack on the job. Police say the attacker was a 12-year-old boy who sat on Johnson's lap the day before the March 18 incident.

Johnson, 18, suffered a bloody nose. He kept his cool during the attack, deeming it inappropriate for the Easter Bunny to fight back. But he's not willing to forgive and forget.

"They (the sheriff's deputies) told me it was up to me, and I feel that the boy should be prosecuted," Johnson told The Bay City Times. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Teen Arrested for Attack on Mall Bunny in Rotterdam


ROTTERDAM, N.Y. A teenager has been arrested on charges of attacking an Easter Bunny at a mall in upstate New York.

Police in Rotterdam, near Schenectady, say the 16-year-old jumped the bunny, causing 600 dollars in damage to the bunny's suit.

There's no word on the motive for the attack.

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.