Tuesday, March 29, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Duplicitious Quote of the Week

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's defense minister said Sunday that Palestinian security agents recently smuggled anti-aircraft missiles into the Gaza Strip from Egypt, according to officials - a development that would threaten a recent cease-fire between the two sides.

Can you spot the glaring error in the above? If you chose the words "cease-fire" and "two sides" then you get top marks. It seems that every so often Israel finds it necessary to "agree a cease fire" with the Palestinians which it soon violates for the specific purpose of provoking the Palestinians to carry out reprisals which are then labeled as the real "breaking of the cease-fire". Of course, none of this would be possible if it were not for the complete and utter contempt that the US and Western media show for the truth. Then again, we should not be surprised that such a deplorable state of affairs exists, given that the mainstream media is largely the property of Western governments.

In this most recent piece of anti-Palestinian propaganda, we are told that "Strella" anti-aircraft missiles were smuggled into Palestine by Palestinians security agents. Note that the accusation is not against Palestinian "militants" but the Palestinian Authority itself. This and other news out of Israel and Palestine gives us serious cause for concern, and may well signify that the time for the implementation of Sharon's plan to "open up" the conflict with the Palestinians may be drawing near.

Getting back to the above story. The fact that the alleged smuggled missiles were Russian "Strellas" is rather interesting. In one of the most notable Israeli "false flag" operations of recent times, the Mossad used Strella missiles in their framing of "al-Qaeda" for the attack on Jewish holiday makers at the Mombassa Paradise Hotel in Kenya in December 2002. See here and here for more details. It is not unreasonable to suggest then that that the announcement by the Israeli Defence Minister is a lie, which is not to say that Strella anti-aircraft missiles will not be used in the near future against Israeli targets, with the evidence, just like in Kenya, laid out for all the world to see. That question of who actually fired the missiles is, however, another matter altogether.

By looking at the various pieces of the puzzle, we see that things are moving quickly now in Israel. Sharon has overcome the last barrier to his Gaza pullout plan. By doing so he has assured himself of full US backing for the further annexing of Palestinian land in the West Bank. While the US and Western press are presenting the Gaza pullout as Sharon's peace gesture to the Palestinians, only those in serious denial about the nature of the Israeli leader believe that he is planning anything but further violence and bloodshed. Sharon may be pulling Jewish settlers from Gaza, but he is far from finished with the Palestinians that will be left behind.

For their part, representatives of Gaza's 7,000 illegal Jewish settlers are banging the drums of "civil war" claiming that they will resist any attempts by the IDF to remove them. It does not take much imagination to see how easily the pullout plan can be manipulated by the unscrupulous Sharon, not to foment civil war in Israel, but to realise his dream of all out war between Israel American Army and Gaza's 1.3 million Palestinian inhabitants.

Preparing for the Day After: Reinforcing Buildings in the Negev
Mar 28, '05
Israel National News

The IDF is preparing for what it sees as the dangers of the disengagement: a program for the reinforcement of roofs in the Negev – those that are considered to be within rocket range of nearby Gaza.

The buildings of nurseries, kindergartens and day care centers within several kilometers of Gaza will be protected, according to the new Home Front Command army program.

The Home Front Command Headquarters began preparations for the program within the past few days.

Western Negev regional and local council engineers met with IDF representatives last week to discuss the logistics of the plan. Yesterday, Home Front Command representatives toured the towns that are to be included in the program. The army requested a list of all the buildings that must be protected, as well as the building plans.

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The bulldozer won
By Aluf Benn

On April 11, Ariel Sharon will go to a victory party at U.S. President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. There is nothing politicians enjoy more than to gloat, and Sharon has a lot of reasons for celebrating his victory over the "rebels" who tried to stop his disengagement plan and failed; his victory over the doubters who eulogized his reign over and over; his victory over the left, which once haunted him and now organizes demonstrations in his honor; his victory over Tommy Lapid, who tried to leverage his political power and crashed twice.

But more than anything in Texas, Sharon will celebrate the victory of the bulldozer. At the heart of his conversation with the president will be strengthening the understandings regarding Israel preserving for itself the settlement blocs in the West Bank. Bush already accepted the principle last year. Now Sharon wants to make sure the American promise for an annexation of the blocs in the future is turned into permission to build, in exchange for the evacuation of settlers from Gaza and northern Samaria.

Sharon is sacrificing Gush Katif and risking domestic strife to achieve two goals: strengthening his power at home with the promise to "quit" the hated Gaza, and setting Israel's eastern border on the ridge lines that will expand the "narrow waist" around the Dan region and Jerusalem.

Sharon grew up in the era of the British mandate, and was educated on the "dunam after dunam" principles of practical Zionism. Ideology and sublime ideas never interested him, and even now he finds them difficult to understand and has contempt for them. For him, only power matters. What good is all Lapid's anti-religious preaching, if he folds and supports the budget at the moment of truth? The same holds true in the territories. Those who control the hill will win and dictate the future border.

Two years ago, Sharon updated the goals of the war with the Palestinians. His demand that they surrender unconditionally was replaced with a policy of strengthening the "blocs" and preparing for their annexation to Israel: Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel, Gush Etzion, Beit Arye. Ever since, Sharon has aimed unswervingly for that goal, with the planning of the fence, the construction permits and the land takeovers. He was correct in his assessment that if he promises to evacuate a few isolated settlements, the world will forgive his construction in the blocs. Sharon blames the latest dispute with Washington about the planned construction between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem on incautious chatter in Jerusalem.

Bush's letter from April 2004, which the administration reaffirmed over the weekend, shows that America is not interested in the abstract justice of the International Court in The Hague or the cries of the occupied Palestinians. Recognition of the "new realities on the ground" is the great victory of force, proof that Jewish settlement does set the border. It's all a matter of proportionality. If Gush Katif had 200,000 Jews, and not 7,000, nobody would be talking about evacuation. If they had built high rises there, like in Ma'aleh Adumim, and not greenhouses and villas, the map would be different.

Sharon's settlement bloc policies struck a profound chord in the center of the political map in Israel. Except for Peace Now and some shouters on the left, everyone is in love with Ma'aleh Adumim and Ariel. Ehud Barak, who wants to run against Sharon, is flanking him on the right and warning against losing the blocs because of too much of an appetite. Shimon Peres was furious about the "timing" of the announcement of new construction at Ma'aleh Adumim, but not about the principle. The coming elections, therefore, will be over who will better protect and preserve Ariel and Beit Arye.

Those who thought Sharon had turned into a leftist and began worrying about "the rights of the Palestinians" were very wrong. Sharon still believes the bulldozer and the housing units will set the border, with America's support and backing. The upcoming meeting in Crawford is meant to grant him further strength.

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Israeli militants warn of civil war over Gaza withdrawal

With the Israeli parliament clearing away a major obstacle in the way of the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s planned pullout from all 21 Gaza settlements and four in the West Bank this summer, defeating a call for a referendum, Israeli militants warned on Tuesday of a possible civil war.

By a vote of 72-39, the Knesset rejected on Monday a referendum bill to stop the planned pullout.

Sharon denounced the referendum proposal, describing it as a last-ditch effort by the settlers and their backers – many in his own Likud party – to stop the implementation of the Gaza withdrawal plan.

According to recently conducted polls, about two-thirds of Israelis are in favour of the withdrawal, the same proportion as the Knesset vote.

But Jewish settlers are redirecting their efforts to demonstrations and possible violence.

Thousands of Israeli settlers demonstrated outside the Knesset during the vote. But when the Israeli parliament announced its decision, the settlers seemed momentarily deflated, and leaders cancelled the second day of the planned 36-hour vigil, saying that they’re abandoning their efforts to try and persuade the parliament to change its decision.

However, their rhetoric heated up.

"The Knesset has voted for violence, for civil war, for the next political assassination in Israel," Yehuda Glick, once the spokesman for a government ministry, said, referring to the assassination of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 by one of the Jewish extremists who opposed Rabin’s compromises for peace.

"[Mr Sharon] has ruined chances of bringing the dis-engagement plan to the people for a decision and thus prevent a violent confrontation and a civil war," the Council of Jewish Settlements, known as Yesha said in a statement. "Yesha is moving its struggle to the people and the field and intends to stand ... to prevent the expulsion of Jews."

The council chairman, Bentzi Lieberman, told army radio yesterday "we will move to action in the streets" by mobilising 100,000 activists in the Gaza settlements and the West Bank", adding that while the council did not advocate violent resistance it might be hard to prevent.

"We greatly fear this. We warned that this might happen," he said.

With the referendum proposal’s being rejected and an expected approval of the 2005 state budget later this week, Sharon’s disengagement plan seems to have defeated all legal obstacles standing in its way.

Comment: As is the case for most of activist groups that have ever arisen anywhere around the world, the Jewish settlers in Gaza will be used to further the goals of their political leaders. In the above the settlers's spokesman makes reference to Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israeli PM who was allegedly murdered by an orthodox Jew angry at the peace deal he had agreed with Arafat in 1995. The idea of "people power" can effect genuine popular change is generally an illusion and usually forms a part of government propaganda to convince the people that they really have a choice. In the case of Rabin, while there may have been some Israeli citizens who were baying for his blood, the only people with the means to actually kill him were those closest to him. As it turned out, the real controllers of Israeli and US policy agreed that Rabin needed to go, and as in so many other cases, they blame was placed at the door of the orthodic Jews who had been publically calling for his "removal".

In the case of Sharon, there is little chance that he will meet an unexpected demise, simply because he has proven himself to be a ruthless and brutal murderer, and ruthlessness and brutality are essential if the long awaited destruction of all semitic people in the Middle East is to be accomplished.

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Flashback: Did Mossad kill Rabin?

Israeli journalist says slain PM was victim of a 'deep' conspiracy

Yitzhak Rabin was not killed by a fanatical, lone gunman as Israel's Shamgar Commission has found, claims Winnipeg-born investigative reporter Barry Chamish.

In an eerie replay of doubts raised about a lone gunman in the 1963 John Kennedy assassination, a conspiracy theory is emerging over Rabin's 1995 murder.

It's been hinted at by some Israeli media, and on CNN and NBC news broadcasts in the U.S. But Chamish, a freelancer who has also written extensively about UFOs, has made the investigation of Rabin's murder his life's passion.

He's compiled medical and ballistics reports and eyewitness accounts from Rabin's bodyguards and widow, and Israeli police, security agents, surgeons and nurses.

Chamish, who lives in Israel with his wife and children, has matched his and others' research with the Shamgar version of events and found glaring contradictions.

Chamish shared his ideas with an enthusiastic Toronto audience last week at the Canadian Zionist Centre on Marlee Ave.

This is what he concludes:

# "Official" assassin, Yigal Amir, was a fanatical, willing patsy run by an Israeli secret service dirty-trickster, Avishai Raviv.

# In what apparently was to have been a staged, unsuccessful assassination bid to rekindle Rabin's flagging popularity, Amir did fire a handgun into Rabin's back at close range at a Jerusalem rally on Nov. 4, 1995.

But Amir's very public act, caught on "amateur" video by one Ronnie Kempler, was a ruse because Amir fired a blank bullet. And he fired just one shot, not the alleged three.

# But the prime minister was indeed murdered in the following moments, Chamish says, and the fatal shot to Rabin's chest may have been fired in the very hospital operating room where he was miraculously reviving -- despite taking a bullet through the upper spine and lung and another through the stomach and spleen.

# The prime minister's limousine got "lost" for 81/2 minutes on what should have been a 45-second drive to hospital on clear streets cordoned off by police for the rally.

# Israeli police lab ballistics tests on shell casings found at the scene did not match Amir's gun.

# No blood was seen coming from Rabin at the scene, despite wounds to his lung and spleen, and none was found on the ground at the Amir shooting site.

# During that meandering drive to hospital by Israeli's most experienced prime ministerial chauffeur, Menachem Damti, Chamish suggests Rabin was shot twice with real bullets -- two 9mm, hollow-point bullets -- possibly from the handgun belonging to his own bodyguard, Yoram Rubin.

# Rubin's gun disappeared at the hospital and has not been found. Two bullets retrieved from Rabin's body went missing for 11 hours. Rubin later committed suicide.

# Chamish says the accounts of all three operating room surgeons who attended Rabin, plus those of nurses and police officers, confirm he sustained a massive chest wound and massive damage to his spinal cord in the lower neck area. Witnesses reported blood gushing from Rabin's chest when he entered hospital on a stretcher.

# But the official Shamgar Commission said those types of wounds did not occur. The doctors later fell dumb.

"All medical reports had Rabin shot in a completely different manner than the Shamgar commission claims," he said. "Amir did not shoot Rabin through the chest. He didn't (even) 'shoot' Rabin. That's not a conspiracy theory. That's a fact. What is happening here, is deep and is conspiratorial."

# Chamish also points to a court hearing where Amir blurted out: "If I tell the truth, the whole system will collapse. I know enough to destroy this country." Amir also shouted at the rally, according to witnesses: "It's nothing ... they're blanks. It's a toy gun."

# A secret service agent testified: "A policeman shouted, 'Calm down. They're blanks.' "

# Israeli policeman Moshe Ephron stated: "The shots didn't sound natural. If they were real shots, they should have sounded much louder."

# Leah Rabin stated her husband did not stagger and fall after apparently being shot at close range. "He was standing and looking very well," Leah Rabin stated.

Rabin's widow also said that she was kept from seeing her husband for a full hour and was told then by Israeli's security chief not to worry, that the whole thing was staged.

# The Kempler video shows that when shot by Amir, Rabin at first merely turns his head as if distracted by a noise. Then he looks to the front and moves forward, bending over. His bodyguard jumps on him and they fall to the ground. Seconds later Rabin is hurtled into his limousine.

"The driver turned right instead of going straight ahead and they killed him," Chamish charges.

# But a problem arose at the hospital -- where "Damti the Idiot," as Chamish calls him, finally arrived after stopping to pick up a cop "to get directions" -- Rabin started to revive.

That's when the perpetrators panicked and shot him in the chest, theorizes Chamish. An Israeli magazine, he says, has reported 17 nurses at that hospital later got death threats.

# There are other curious factors:

The amateur videographer keeps panning back and forth between Amir and Rabin, as if something is expected.

Yet Kempler's tape didn't surface publicly until two months after the murder. All that leads Chamish to believe it's all the work of the Shabak, Israel's renowned Mossad.

But if so, the Mossad blundered, he claims.

Amir's left arm holding the gun appears to be about six feet long. And when Amir re-enacted the crime in public for the court, he used his right hand to hold the gun.

"The Shabak ... superimposed the picture and they're so dumb, they didn't even get the hand right," Chamish said.

# Like JFK's "lone" assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, Amir also had spent years in the Soviet Union. Israeli spymaster Raviv controlled the "psychopath" Amir, Chamish says.

To convert a staged assassination attempt into a real hit required a top Israeli official's orders, Chamish says. He won't say whom he strongly suspects, but hints it was quite possibly from within Rabin's own party.

"In my opinion the order came from the U.S. ... Israeli leadership is not independent. It's been corrupted deeply," Chamish told the Zionist Centre gathering.

"We are murdering our own ... This has got to be solved and we've got to cleanse ourselves and start brand new.

"My country has sunk into such criminality. We've got a cancer ... If we don't take a broom and sweep out every politician from the Knesset, we are going to be destroyed," Chamish said.

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Gaddafi hits the nail on the head
By Jerusalem Newswire Editorial Staff
March 27th, 2005

JERUSALEM - Muamar Gaddafi, the always flamboyant Libyan leader, did not fail to deliver his usual dose of blunt views and wild theories when the leaders of the Arab world met in Algiers, Algeria last week.

But when addressing the issue of the Israeli-Arab conflict, Gaddafi managed to point out some glaring discrepancies typically glossed over by the media and those involved in the “peace” process.

“The Palestinians and the Israelis are stupid. Why? I'll convince you, and explain to you why they are stupid,” Gaddafi said from the podium on the closing day of the Arab League summit.

The Palestinian Arabs “are stupid because [Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip] were theirs. They were in their hands for 20 years. Why didn't they establish a state there?”

“The ‘West Bank’ was Jordan's, and Gaza belonged to Egypt since 1948. Why didn't you establish a Palestinian state then? Where was this problem until 1967?” the Libyan asked.

The so-called "Palestinian" Arab nation did not begin clamoring for sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) until those areas came under Israeli control as a result of the 1967 Six Day War.

Turning to the Israelis, Gaddafi said they were fools for not pressing their claim to Yesha from the very beginning.

“The Israelis paid no attention to the ‘West Bank’ and the Gaza Strip for 20 years, and showed no interest in them. They declared statehood and called it Israel in 1948, and put aside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

Apparently Israel “considered [these areas] dispensable and unimportant,” Gaddafi stated, and asked, “Why are they fighting for them now?”

These facts lead to a "moral, fundamental, and legal problem." Gaddafi said the only real solution was a single Jewish-Arab state he had previously dubbed Israstine.

Gaddafi went on to refute assertions that Ariel Sharon was an enemy of the Arab world, and said the Israeli prime minister was really an enemy of his own people.

Sharon "commits acts that lead to the murder of dozens and hundreds of Israelis," he said.

“Someone who brings upon his people such tragedies and massacres is an enemy of his people. His actions have negative consequences for the Israelis,” concluded Gaddafi.

Comment: Gaddafi asks some interesting questions, but if he knows them, he is not providing the answers. It seems likely, in terms of the bigger picture, Israel did not appropriate all Palestinian land because the current setup is much more conducive to all out war.

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U.S. Bases in Afghanistan Get $83M Upgrade
Monday March 28, 2005
Associated Press Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The United States is spending $83 million to upgrade its two main air bases in Afghanistan, an Air Force general said Monday, the latest indication that American forces will remain in the country for years.

Brig. Gen. Jim Hunt said the money was being spent on construction projects already underway at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, and Kandahar Air Field in the south. A new runway is being built at Bagram, the biggest Afghan airfield used by the U.S. military.

"We are continuously improving runways, taxiways, navigation aids, airfield lighting, billeting and other facilities to support our demanding mission,'' Hunt said at a news conference in the capital.

Afghan leaders are seeking a long-term ``strategic partnership'' with the United States, which expects to complete the training of the country's new 70,000-strong army next year.

It remains unclear if that will include permanent American bases in a region that includes Iran, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan and oil-rich Central Asia. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on a visit to Kabul earlier this month that Washington had not decided how long to keep troops here.

U.S. commanders have said they might reduce their 17,000-strong force this year if Taliban militants take up a reconciliation offer but forecast there will be a U.S. presence in Afghanistan for years.

Hunt said about 150 U.S. aircraft, which include ground-attack jets and helicopter gunships as well as transport and reconnaissance aircraft, were flying in and out of 14 airfields around Afghanistan. Other planes such as B-1 bombers patrol over Afghanistan without landing.

"We will continue to carry out the ... mission for as long as necessary to secure a free and democratic society for the people of Afghanistan,'' Hunt said.

Comment: $83 million of US taxpayers money to expand the world's biggest secret prison, where torture is a daily fixture for the many innocent people rotting away therein. Kind of makes you feel proud to be a human being, don't it?

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Nazis: Pioneers in medicine
March 23, 2005

Ours is a nation where a judge may not sentence Beltway sniper Lee Malvo to death, because he is too young to die, but can sentence Terri Schiavo to death, because she is too severely handicapped to live.

Schiavo continues the process of dying by starvation and dehydration, a method of capital punishment most would consider criminal if done to a pet.

This was the method used at Auschwitz to murder Father Maximilian Kolbe, the priest who volunteered to take the place of a Polish father of a large family, who was one of 10 the camp commandant had selected for execution in reprisal for the escape of a prisoner.

After being starved and dehydrated for days, Kolbe was injected by his Nazi captors with carbolic acid. He died a martyr's death, said the church that canonized him. That is what would have happened to Terri. Only she would have been denied the lethal injection by those watching her die.

That there arose a national outcry at the execution of Schiavo – so loud Congress and President Bush heard it and came to the rescue – is a sign America is not morally dead ... yet. But a culture of death has taken deep root in America's soul.

One wonders if our young, so many of them cheated of a knowledge of history in schools they are forced to attend, are aware of how closely our elites approximate, in belief and argument, the elites of Weimar and Nazi Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1920, Dr. Alfred Hoche, professor of psychiatry at the University of Freiburg, and Karl Binding, a law professor at Leipzig, authored "The Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life." They urged a national policy of assisted suicide for those "empty shells of human beings" – the terminally ill and mentally retarded, and those with brain damage and psychiatric conditions.

In October 1933, The New York Times quoted the Nazi minister of justice as saying that ridding Germany of such poor creatures would make it "possible for physicians to end the tortures of incurable patients, upon requests, in the interests of true humanity." "If we desire a certain type of civilization," said George Bernard Shaw, "we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit in."

In researching "The Death of the West," I discovered that the first episode of publicized "legal" killing of an innocent was the case of "Baby Knauer." The father of the little boy, who was blind, retarded and missing an arm and a leg, appealed to the Fuhrer for permission to have his son put to death. Hitler referred the matter to his physician, Karl Brandt. In 1938, permission was granted.

When war came in 1939, a program code-named "Aktion 4" went about systematically eliminating all "life unworthy of life" in the Reich. By 1940, scores of thousands had been put to death. Then, Bishop Clemens von Galen took to the pulpit of Munster Cathedral to damn Hitler's regime for "plain murder" and direct German Catholics to "withdraw ourselves and our faithful from their (Nazi) influence so that we may not be contaminated by their thinking and their ungodly behavior."

"Aktion 4" went underground. One of its graduates, Franz Stangl, would turn up two years later as commandant of Treblinka.

After the war, the German doctors who had carried out Hitler's orders in violation of the Hippocratic Oath were judged guilty of "crimes against humanity." The Dutch doctors who refused to cooperate in the Nazi program of eliminating "life unworthy of life" during the occupation of Holland were placed among the moral heroes of an immoral era.

Ironically, as the protest to save Schiavo built up steam over the weekend, The New York Times in its "Saturday Profile" warmly featured another Dutch doctor. Dr. Eduard Verhagen has, said the Times, become famous in Europe for having "presided over the medically induced deaths of four extraordinarily ill newborns."

"For his efforts to end what he calls unbearable and incurable suffering," wrote reporter Gregory Crouch, "Dr. Verhagen has been called Dr. Death, a second Hitler and worse – mostly by American opponents of euthanasia."

Verhagen describes himself as a bearer of peace and happiness to children. When these suffering little ones die, he says, "the child goes to sleep. ... It's beautiful in a way. ... They're children who are severely ill and in great pain. It is after they die that you see them relaxed for the first time. You see their faces in a way they should be for the first time."

Franz Stangl could not have put it better. Hitler's doctors may prove to have been the medical pioneers of 21st century.

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Judge in al-Hariri inquiry asks to quit
Wednesday 23 March 2005

An investigator into the assassination of Lebanon's former premier has asked to step down.

Michel Abu Arraj, the chief judge in the investigation, made the request before a UN report expected to criticise the Lebanese government's handling of the inquiry is published.

He asked to quit because he is exhausted and because of the "atmosphere of scepticism surrounding the investigation", Justice Minister Adnan Addum said on Wednesday.

The minister, accused by the anti-Syrian opposition of allegedly helping in a cover-up, said he would immediately nominate a new magistrate to be approved by the Supreme Judicial Council, which is to meet on Thursday.

The investigation into al-Hariri's assassination is at the core of the political turmoil in Lebanon.

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Lebanese officials reject UN report
Friday 25 March 2005

Senior Lebanese officials have rejected a UN report that blames Syria for tensions that led to the slaying of former premier Rafiq al-Hariri.

The officials on Friday said the UN mission exceeded its authority in accusing the government of negligence.

The report from a UN fact-finding mission was sharply critical of Syria and its allied Lebanese government, saying there was evidence Syria's president threatened al-Hariri with physical harm.

The report said that the Beirut government showed a lack of commitment to finding out who killed al-Hariri, bungling and outright manipulating the investigation.

Many Lebanese blame Syria and the Lebanese government for the slaying of al-Hariri - an opponent of Syrian domination - in a 14 February bomb blast. Damascus and Beirut deny any role in the killing.

Beyond mandate

Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmud Hamud said the UN fact-finding team, whose report was released on Thursday, had gone beyond its mandate.

"The (UN) mission had no authority to allow it to reach these conclusions," he said. "We see this as infringement on the role of the Lebanese government."

Still, he insisted that the government "welcomes all means" to find the truth about the killing.

Comment: The truth about Hariri's killing. Someone pass the link on to the UN.

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Be Proud of what you have Achieved
TBR News.org

The following speech was delivered at an antiwar rally in Sydney’s Hyde Park on March 20, 2005

The other day, the Aboriginal filmmaker Richard Frankland said this: "When you've got a voice, you've got freedom, and when you've got freedom, you've got responsibility. Negotiating with politicians doesn't work. You've got to change attitudes." That's the task for all of us here today. It's not an easy one. In fact, many good people in Australia and other countries believe their voice cannot possibly be heard: that the forces of bigotry and violence are far too powerful.

And yes, they are powerful. John Howard can lie repeatedly to the Australian people and get away with it – it seems. There is no Labor opposition in federal parliament. They've become a bad joke, to the point where Kevin Rudd, the opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, refuses to say anything critical of the government that is not immersed in crude sophistry.

We also know that those who are paid to keep the record straight, who are meant to challenge Howard's lies and uphold our right to freedom of speech, a freedom that is a cornerstone of any true democracy – I refer of course to the media: journalists, broadcasters – we know where they stand. We know that, apart from a few honorable exceptions, they are not merely craven and silent, but occupy a place in this society not dissimilar to the media in the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe.

Throughout my career I have reported, often undercover, from countries ruled by repressive regimes where dissidents would read me reports in the press that were no more servile and false than the reporting you read every day in the Murdoch papers in this country. In Eastern European states, for example, the papers had tame correspondents in Moscow who would parrot the Kremlin line. Now read the Washington correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, Michael Gawenda, and there is no difference. The same parroting of Bush's dangerous absurdities, such as his claims of bringing democracy to the Middle East – when the very opposite is true.

Considering this, we might ask: Is there no shame?

Is there no shame that, in its annual review of press freedom three years ago, the international media monitoring organization, Reporters Without Borders, placed Australia 41st in the world. Countries with greater press freedom were the following: Lithuania, Bosnia, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Bulgaria, Hong Kong. All these countries have either been run by dictatorships, or racked by war or by civil upheaval; yet in 2002 they had greater press freedom than Australia, which was just ahead of autocracies. None of this, or the reasons why, are ever mentioned at the numerous back-scratching awards ceremonies so beloved by the Australian media.

Honorable exceptions aside, supine journalists, like cynical opposition politicians, like corporate academics, represent unaccountable, violent power and a corrupt democracy that today offers us no more choice that between a McDonald's and a Hungry Jack's. But they do not represent us. And they don't speak for us. And they don't speak for humanity. And they don't speak for democracy. And they don't speak for all the moral decencies by which most people live their lives. In fact, they speak for the very opposite.

I may have first understood this when I reported from repressive Czechoslovakia, with its Stalinist regime, in the 1970s. The dissenters who spoke out in that country seemed so few, yet I wondered why the regime went to such lengths to silence them and attack them and sneer at them, usually via the state press. I put this question to the great protest singer Marta Kubisova, whose thrilling voice sang the anthems of the Prague Spring in 1968. Meeting me in secret, she replied by reading to me the words of one of her most defiant songs, written by a banned Czech group called the Plastic People of the Universe. I have abridged it slightly.

"They are afraid of the old for their memory,
They are afraid of the young for their innocence
They afraid of the graves of their victims in faraway places
They are afraid of history. They are afraid of freedom.
They are afraid of truth. They are afraid of democracy.
So why the hell are we afraid of them? ... For they are afraid of us."

What all of you should remember on this second anniversary of the brutal assault on Iraq is that you are not alone: that you are part of a great worldwide movement that refuses to accept the dangers and moral indecencies of Bush and Blair and Howard. Yesterday, all over the world, people like you expressed their defiance and anger at the unprovoked attack on Iraq, a defenseless country, and the killing of more than 100,000 people and the theft of their resources and the poisoning of their land: all of it justified by demonstrable lies. Go back to a speech John Howard made early in February 2003. He spoke for 53 minutes and lied about weapons of mass destruction at least 20 times: 20 lies in less than an hour. Even Bush and Blair would have trouble topping that.

Then he sent Australian troops off to take part in an invasion, which, under the universally acknowledged and respected terms of the Nuremberg judgment in 1946, the cornerstone of international law, was "a paramount war crime."

That's not my rhetoric, nor is it agit-prop. It's the law of civilized people. And it's our job to help people understand the great crime committed in their name, and how those who claim to speak for us, such as the media, have normalized the unthinkable: as if no crime has been committed, as if thousands of people have not been murdered, as if it was all merely a respectable adjustment of the "world order." My point is, they are not respectable; they may wear the suits of respectability and travel with their fawning courts, but they are prima facie criminals, be assured.

The other day, an ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] foreign correspondent was promoting his book of professional adventures in a Sydney bookshop. He told his audience that it was good to be back in a country where politicians at least didn't kill each other. That's true, but what he didn't say was that the same politicians collude in the killing of men, women, and children in other countries: in Fallujah, where the truth remains unreported in the so-called mainstream media in this country – including the ABC, which has allowed itself to be intimidated by the Howard government for giving us, now and then, a glimpse of the truth about Bush's criminal assault on Iraq.

The time is long overdue. That time is for journalists to break ranks and speak up. It's time for teachers to write on their blackboards that great truism of Milan Kundera: "The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." It's time for those who know the dangers, but who say nothing – academics, lawyers, union leaders, even members of Parliament – to break their silence before their own privileges are undermined by the steady assault on centuries-old, hard-won civil rights, vividly expressed in the abandonment of Australians tortured in other countries by their government and the locking up of people in this country indefinitely: indeed, the erosion of the bedrock of our justice system: innocent until proven guilty.

Above all, never forget how important and right you are. It is you, in company with millions all over the world, who have taught again the great lesson of democracy. You didn't stop the invasion of Iraq, but you and the millions like you, in Spain and Britain and France and Italy and Brazil and the United States, have alerted the world to the true darkness of the regime in Washington and its collaborators.

Never in my lifetime as a journalist have I known ordinary people all over the world to be more aware of the dangers and the issues that face us. Many can't be with us today; but their support is, I believe, a presence. Think back to the popular movement, much of it led by women, that prevented conscription being introduced in Australia during the First World War. Those campaigners also felt rather isolated at times; but they weren't: they were the voice of what was right.

Had it not been for you and your movement, I believe Iran and North Korea would have been attacked by now, and in the case of North Korea, nuclear weapons might have been used.

Be proud of these achievements: be proud that the seedy, violent power of Bush and Blair and Howard has been exposed by you and that behind their bravado, they are afraid of you, and of the millions like you, so, in the words of the song, why the hell should we be afraid of them?

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Zealotry and its victims
Times Perspective Columnist
March 27, 2005

Many of the men and women who have been holding vigils outside Terri Schiavo's hospice are exhibiting the worst of America's home-grown strain of religiously grounded ignorance and hypocrisy.

They clutch their Bibles and rosary beads and hold signs that proclaim it a moral duty to care about life for the vulnerable and disabled, but exhibit no such passion when Republican leaders declare the need to cut food subsidies and medical care for the needy while reducing taxes for the wealthy.

Voting patterns indicate that the more overtly religious someone is, the more likely he is to vote Republican; and Republicans are more likely than Democrats to shrink potentially lifesaving programs for the nation's poor and infirm. According to that logic, patients such as Terri Schiavo should be kept alive indefinitely regardless of their prognosis, but it is okay to cut the state Medicaid program that paid part of their medical expenses. The logic is about on a par with the acolytes of Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, who weep and moan for "dead babies" but vote for leaders who are perfectly happy to ignore the 8.4-million children who don't have health insurance. (Terry, by the way, was in charge of organizing political pressure to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube.)

How can people live with such internal contradictions?

It has to do with the suspension of rational thought.

Terry's followers are people who tend to take the Bible as literal truth. They apparently have no trouble reconciling the 3.5-billion-year-old fossil record with the creationist theory that the Earth is some 6,000 years old.

Understanding science involves logic, rigor and an appreciation for the value of evidence - which is not a world in which religious fundamentalists travel. Their belief that Schiavo would one day recover was not shaken when medical science determined that she was in a persistent vegetative state with part of her cerebral cortex having been replaced by spinal fluid. And they ignore complex public policy issues on the provision of social services that have life-and-death consequences for living people, in order to fight to save embryos in a petri dish.

In his book The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, author and neuroscientist Sam Harris says it is time we stop tiptoeing around religious zealots - of any faith or denomination - and start challenging their implausible world view.

"If history reveals any categorical truth, it is that an insufficient taste for evidence regularly brings out the worst in us. Add weapons of mass destruction to this diabolical clockwork, and you have found a recipe for the fall of civilization."

Harris is particularly worried about the rise of militant Islam. But his call is that we stop insulating all religions from the credulity tests we would normally apply to other fields of inquiry, such as physics and history.

In Deuteronomy 13:6-10, it is written that "if your brother" or "son or daughter" or "spouse" or "most intimate friend" tries to steer you toward worshiping another God, "you must kill him. . . . You must stone him to death." Similarly, the Koran 9:73 declares "make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites." Harris says those who follow the strict dictates of their religion, such as the Osama bin Ladens and Christian Armageddonists of the world, take such passages literally and look forward to the elimination of nonbelievers.

He puts the blame for allowing the perpetuation of these ancient blood decrees on religious moderates. Those who reject the murderous exhortations from these holy books, but refuse to denounce those who accept every word as a direction from God, are giving fundamentalists a pass, according to Harris. "By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally," Harris writes.

Those people in the middle, who think it is inappropriate to challenge the religious certainty of others, have allowed our country to be hijacked by irrational forces. In poll after poll, a large majority of Americans say they would not want to be kept alive as Terri Schiavo has been. But the elected branches of government are beholden to a vocal fringe of religious extremists, such as Douglas Scott, president of Life Decisions International - an organization devoted to destroying Planned Parenthood - who has declared that end-of-life directives are irrelevant. "Regardless of who thinks Terri would be better off dead, even if this included Terri herself, no one is permitted to take an action or inaction that will kill someone," Scott said in a statement.

By following the lead of fundamentalists, our nation has turned off course. It is time for religious moderates to start challenging the dangerous views of some of their brethren.

As Harris insightfully notes: "The only thing that permits human beings to collaborate with one another in a truly open-ended way is their willingness to have their beliefs modified by new facts. Only openness to evidence and argument will secure a common world for us." That would be a world in which fundamentalists are marginalized by their own closed minds and Terri Schiavo is allowed to rest in peace.

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Bush OKs First National Counterintel Plan
March 28, 2005
Earthlink News

WASHINGTON - President Bush has approved the nation's first counterintelligence strategy, directing the intelligence agencies to go on the offensive - together - against foreign and terrorist threats.

Counterintelligence is the government-wide effort to protect against foreign espionage and intelligence collection. But professionals in this narrow specialty concede the work has largely been done piecemeal by the 15 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, and often in reaction to intelligence that's already been lost.

Released Monday, the president's strategy directs the intelligence community to "identify, assess, neutralize and exploit the intelligence activities" of countries, terrorist groups and international criminal organizations who are out to harm U.S. interests. Bush signed the document on March 1.

It also calls on the agencies to protect U.S. intelligence collection and analysis methods from penetration and manipulation.

The 14-page unclassified version of the strategy lacked details and specifics, making it difficult to assess its impact. Intelligence officials have noted that much of the nation's intelligence focus has gone to fighting terrorism.

The strategy warns that terrorists can "gain significantly" with the support of other governments. That means "the intelligence services of these regimes can be links in the global terrorist support network."

National Counterintelligence Executive Michelle Van Cleave, whose office assembled the strategy for Bush, has argued for an offensive stance. "No longer will we wait until we have been harmed to act," Van Cleave said recently.

Created in 2002, her office is supposed to coordinate the government's far-flung counterintelligence activities.

The strategy says she'll work closely with the new national intelligence director to find the best way to protect against threats that include foreign intelligence services, terrorists, criminal enterprises and cyber intruders. They will examine whether to establish a center specifically focused on counterintelligence.

One counterintelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a key element of the strategy is "creative counterintelligence."

The official said that means maintaining such a strong system that enemies don't know if people who approach them with intelligence - like FBI spy Robert Hanssen - are truly disaffected government employees or double agents. Hanssen gave secrets to the Soviets for over 21 years.

"Since 1985, nearly 80 Americans have been arrested for crimes related to passing classified information to foreign governments," the strategy says. "These spies were able to operate undetected for too long with disastrous results."

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Our new nightmare: the United States of America
By Tom Allard and Louise Williams
March 29, 2005

Australians are as just as concerned about United States foreign policy as Islamic extremism and regard the US as more dangerous than a rising China, according to a new poll.

The Australians Speak: 2005 survey, commissioned by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, found 57 per cent of Australians were "very worried" or "fairly worried" about the external threat posed by both US foreign policy and Islamic extremism.

"We asked about a series of threats from the outside," said the institute's executive director, Allan Gyngell. "Most startling of all was the precise equivalence of Islamic fundamentalism and US foreign policy as a source of concern.

"The question is whether this is a response to a particular administration or a broader cultural drifting apart."

More than two-thirds - 68 per cent - said Australia took too much notice of the US in its foreign policy deliberations.

The findings would not be welcomed by the Howard Government, which has railed against perceived anti-Americanism and emphasised the importance of the alliance as the US takes a more unilateralist and activist posture in world affairs.

Comment: The Biggest Threat To Peace - Which country really poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003? TIME Europe asks for readers' views:

Survey Results:

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On-the-spot fines create a new class of 'semi-criminals'
By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent
28 March 2005

Thousands of people are being consigned to a new class of "semi-criminals" by Tony Blair's policy of on-the-spot fines for minor offenders, the Government was warned yesterday.

Penalty notices for disorder (PNDs), under which offenders are fined for misdemeanours such as drunkenness or littering, have become a new weapon in the Government's fight against petty crime and anti-social behaviour. Offenders are fined between £30 and £80, with the amount increasing by 50 per cent if they fail to pay within three weeks.

But in a withering assessment of the new system, coinciding with the first anniversary on Friday of the fines being introduced nationwide, a leading criminal justice think-tank accused the Government of "putting punishment before justice". The Crime and Society Foundation warned: "PNDs erode justice in the name of speedier punishment."

The foundation fears that people who pay such fines, in the mistaken belief that they are not an admission of guilt, could have the fact of payment used against them in future. Police can add their DNA, fingerprints and photographs to the national police computer even though they have not admitted any wrong-doing.

"This risks creating a new 'semi-criminal' class, those with no formal criminal record yet deemed to be offenders," it says.

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Amazon Knows Who You Are
Mar. 27, 2005
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Amazon.com has one potentially big advantage over its rival online retailers: It knows things about you that you may not know yourself.

Though plenty of companies have detailed systems for tracking customer habits, both critics and boosters say Amazon is the trailblazer, having collected information longer and used it more proactively. It even received a patent recently on technology aimed at tracking information about the people for whom its customers buy gifts.

Amazon sees such data gathering as the best way to keep customers happy and loyal, a relationship-building technique that analysts consider potentially crucial to besting other online competitors.

"In general, we collect as much information as possible such that we can provide you with the best feedback," said Werner Vogels, Amazon's chief technology officer.

But some privacy advocates believe Amazon is getting dangerously close to becoming Big Brother with your credit card number. [...]

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Indonesia earthquake wakeup call for world: UN

[World News] United Nations, March 29 : The UN has said although no tsunamis have been reported from the powerful 8.7 earthquake which hammered Indonesia's west coast, the shocks are a wakeup call for the world to speed up an early-warning system for the region.

Threatened areas yesterday received tidal wave warnings much faster than alerts during the December disaster, indicating that the systems worked far better this time, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told reporters a few hours after the quake hit the Indonesian island last night.

Death toll estimates in yesterday's quake varied widely from about 200 to 10 times that number. Though the tremor did not trigger tsunami, it was first time that the system was tested after the huge waves killed more than 200,000 people in December.

"My impression is that the system worked far better this time. Not only did we have surveillance and information sent out to the countries but we also had governments reporting out to local authorities," he said.

The UN offices throughout the area hit by last year's tsunami were immediately put on alert and the governments too acted fast in warning the people, he said.

Egeland said though no tidal wave was reported this time, the shocks were a wakeup call for an effective warning system. "We hope that now the international community will really speed up work on the early-warning system for the tsunami." "A little bit stronger earthquake this time [and] we could have another major tsunami in the middle of the night," he added. PTI

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Expert warns of third massive earthquake
UK Telegraph

Hundreds feared dead

An expert has warned that a third massive earthquake is likely to hit the Indian Ocean.

Last night's tremor off Sumatra, measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale, is the second after the Boxing Day tsunami which sent giant waves along the ocean's rim, killing abut 300,000.

Tsunami factfile

It makes a third more likely, Professor John McCloskey said.

The University of Ulster based Geophysics expert warned that yesterday's quake was likely to have added to the stresses on the earth's crust in the region.

Mr McCloskey, who studies earthquake dynamics, said: "The location of the latest quake is exactly were we warned it would be.

"We said there were two locations off Sumatra where the stresses had been increased by the Boxing Day earthquake and were likely to indicate another earthquake."

The fault line for the other site "runs right through the city of Banda Aceh" on the northern tip of Sumatra, he said.

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NY Post

March 29, 2005 -- Experts are amazed that yesterday's earthquake failed to generate a tsunami like the huge tidal wave that hit last December.

All the latest earthquak produced was a tiny wave, about 10 inches high, detected by a tide gauge on Cocos Island near Australia, about 1,500 miles south of the epicenter, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on Oahu.

"I'm baffled an earthquake this size didn't trigger a tsunami near the epicenter," said Robert Cessaro, a geophysicist at the center.

Center director Charles McCreery said earthquakes of at least 8.0 magnitude usually generate major tsunamis.

The latest event demonstrated "there's a whole world of uncertainty about trying to judge a tsunami based on the earthquake data," he said.

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Colliding Galaxy Yields First Anti-Gravity Propulsion Clue
Staff Reporter
India Daily.com

Anti-gravity propulsion is nothing new. But those who have worked with anti-gravity propulsion research know that creating lift is easy but creating lift that can be navigated is not easy. One reason that we do not use anti-gravity propulsion systems in unclassified flying crafts is that the navigation becomes extremely difficult. Even complex computer models are struggling to solve the puzzle.

25,000 light years away a colliding Galaxy provides the first clue to anti-gravity propulsion and the associated principles of navigation.

Called the Canis Major dwarf galaxy after the constellation in which it lies, it is about 25,000 light years away from the solar system and 42,000 light years from the center of the Milky Way. This is closer than the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, discovered in 1994, which is also colliding with the Milky Way.

Canis Major dwarf galaxy is one of the closest galaxies to the earth. It is colliding with our Milky Way. Our Milky Way is slowly and systematically taking away the stars from the Canis Major which is a much smaller galaxy.

When simulated in a computer it shows very clearly how our Milky Way have systematically taken stars away from Canis Major and grown approximately 1% more in mass at the expense of the smaller galaxy. Simulations show that, over a period of two billion years, the stream of stars lost from the Canis Major dwarf galaxy are able to wrap around the galaxy three times, giving rise to a complex structure which is seen as a immense ring of stars from Earth.

When the data was put in a knowledge base and the inference engine was asked to reverse engineer the model, it clearly showed how two gravitational sources can interact to transfer stars between them. It was absolutely astounding to note that the transfer is totally organized and controlled. The artificial intelligence system allows back calculating the model with which two colliding galaxies have interacted. They do not crash on each other, one is slowly absorbed by the other.

It provided the first clue to controlled navigation within the realm of anti-gravity propagation. The collision of the two galaxies is slow speed motion picture of how anti-gravity propulsion systems can work. Now the challenge is to port the model to work for terrestrial aircrafts and spacecrafts.

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