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"Stink Bug" of the Genus "Georgus Bushus" Noted for its ability to create a formidable stink when feeling vulnerable or exposed

Lessons In Crass Deception

The Big Question today folks is: "How much more are you going to take?"

Shock! Horror! An all new presidential commission has revealed, yet again, that Saddam had no WMDs and that the fault lies with the US intelligence community's inability to communicate intelligence!

Now, we all have two choices. We can either sit back and take this BS, or we can stand up and condemn it far and wide. But before we decide, let's look at some facts:

Prior to the illegal invasion of Iraq, the IAEA, you know, the guys who have spent their ENTIRE LIVES working in the field of WMDs and their proliferation, said that, after many months spent combing the entire surface of Iraq and digging deep into Saddam's weapon manufacturing facilities, there were probably no WMDs in Iraq. They told the world, "Iraq has no WMDs". Those words fell on deaf ears in Washington, mainly because without WMDs there could be no reason for an invasion of Iraq. As the weeks passed the job of convincing the world was getting more and more difficult. Finally, Rumsfeld hit on an ingenious approach:

Rumsfeld: Lack of evidence could mean Iraq's hiding something

Yes indeedy, the greasy old codger was actually claiming that the IAEA's report stating that there were no WMDs in Iraq, was actually evidence in itself that Saddam really DID have WMDs. Rummy stated:

"The fact that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq's WMD program could be evidence, in and of itself, of Iraq's noncooperation," we do know that Iraq has designed its programs in a way that they can proceed in an environment of inspections and that they are skilled at denial and deception."

Rumsfeld said the United States and the United Nations have no obligation to prove that Iraq has continued efforts to develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Instead, he said, Iraq must prove that it has abandoned them.

Imagine if we were to apply this logic in a criminal investigation. In such a case, anyone could accuse anyone else of a crime, using the fact that there is no evidence that they committed the crime as evidence that they did commit a crime, based on the idea that people are quite inventive and also often lie, so the person is probably lying and has probably hidden the evidence that they committed the crime. Not only that, but the person themselves must prove to the court that they did not commit the crime. If they cannot prove this, then they are guilty of committing the crime.

Sounds a little unreasonable, does it not?

Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, got in on the act too with similarly bizarre logic when he stated in July 2003:

"I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."

Needless to say, the mangled thinking coming out of the White House was evidence that the Bush administration was getting "kinda antsy" at the whole "lack of WMDs" argument.

So what to do? Well, when in doubt, call in the CIA. Surely "the agency", possessing some of America's most fervent patriots, could be relied on to perform above and beyond the call of duty and come up with the goods? Just to make doubly sure, Dick Cheney stormed over to CIA headquarters, not once, not twice, but ten times to offer some "direction". Now that the evil IAEA had to some extent put the kabosh on the "Saddam has WMD" angle, Cheney decided that a Saddam Osama link was the next best thing.

"So Saddam and Osama were buddies, right? Queried Cheney

Er..."no, not really, more like enemies actually" came the reply.

Cheney's blood pressure shot up a few bars.

"OK, what about Al-Zarqawi, didn't he get treatment at a Baghdad hospital?" Cheney probed.

"Em.. sort of" informed Tenet.

"Well then, that's it!" exclaimed Cheney "they're obviously in bed together!"

"Well, ok" quoth Tenet "just as long as they are in separate beds and the beds aren't in the same room, or even the same house. In fact, al-Zarqawi is happier spending time in bed with the Iraqi Kurds, you know, the ones that are in direct opposition to Saddam."

At this point, Cheney blew his top his face crimson his jowls quivering with rage.

"Look, what you need to provide is politically acceptable results, Prime Minister Sharon and the guys in the Pentagon will NOT accept any conclusions that tend to prove that Saddam poses no threat to the US and is NOT involved with any terrorist network! OK!?"

Tenet slinks off, feeling strangely disturbed as a result of his encounters with the Vice President.

Well, the CIA dutifully tried their best, but, in the end, the job of making a case for Saddam's WMD's was just too far "out there" for even the most imaginative minds in the CIA. The problem you see was the complete lack of evidence. It's one thing to ask your spooks to "skew" the evidence, but what if there isn't even any evidence to skew?

Former CIA Chief George Tenet realised that, while he had a responsibility to support the megalomaniacal cravings of the Washington Neocons, he also had the CIA's reputation to think of. He was understandably reluctant to make his agency synonymous with dodgy intelligence, and he perhaps had some precognition that, if, or rather when, the whole thing blew up in their faces, the Neocons would surely pass the buck. Which, in fact, is exactly what the Presidential Commission has "revealed" today.

In the end, Colin Powell was forced to humiliate himself at the UN in February 2003 by presenting an inevitably pathetic case for an invasion of Iraq which included badly drawn pictures and a plagiarized grad student essay. Of course, that didn't stop the plan from going ahead. Not to be outdone however, once the war had been "won", the Bush administration turned their attention back to the intelligence agencies that had "failed" them, ousting Tenet before instituting a radical overhaul and placing Bush-man Porter Goss in the top position. One major benefit of course is that the Bush administration can now, and forever more, shift the blame for its criminal behavior onto the "intelligence community" and, at the same time, justify a concentrating of power over all intelligence into the hands of seasoned war criminals like John Negroponte.

Where will it all end? More than likely in "Armageddon", or something like that. Bet you can't wait.

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Flashback: CIA official 'sacked over WMD'
09/12/2004 16:20

WASHINGTON - A sacked CIA official is suing the agency for allegedly retaliating against him for refusing to falsify his reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to support the White House's pre-war position, The Washington Post said on Thursday.

Described as a senior CIA official who was sacked in August "for unspecified reasons," the plaintiff's lawsuit appears to be the first public instance of a CIA official charging that he was pressured to produce intelligence to support the US government's pre-war contention that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a grave threat to US and international security.

"Their official dogma was contradicted by his reporting and they did not want to hear it," said Roy Krieger, the officer's attorney.

CIA spokesperson Anya Guilsher told the daily she could not comment on the lawsuit, adding: "The notion that CIA managers order officers to falsify reports is flat wrong.

"Our mission is to call it like we see it and report the facts."

Krieger wrote a letter requesting a meeting with CIA director Porter Goss due to "the serious nature of the allegations in this case, including deliberately misleading the president on intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction", said the daily quoting from the letter.

The US overthrew the Iraqi dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in April 2003, but has found no WMDs in Iraq.

The US government has acknowledged some of its pre-war intelligence may have been faulty.

The plaintiff, whose identity is blacked out in the lawsuit as well as any reference to Iraq, is of Middle Eastern descent, worked 23 years in the CIA, much of them in covert operations to collect intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, said the daily.

The lawsuit alleges that the CIA investigated alleged sexual and financial improprieties by the plaintiff "for the sole purpose of discrediting him and retaliating against him for questioning the integrity of the WMD reporting ... and for refusing to falsify his intelligence reporting to support the politically mandated conclusion" of matters that are redacted in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit requests that the plaintiff be restored to his former position in the CIA and received compensatory damages and legal fees.

Comment: How quickly America forgets. The White House is blaming the intelligence services now, and yet, the intelligence agencies DID give good intell - the White House just didn't want to hear it. Cheney and gang "cooked the intell" that they are now blaming on the CIA...

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Flashback: Bush bullied CIA in order to dupe us

Jay Bookman,
Atlanta Journal Constitution

February 05, 2004

The latest line from Secretary of State Colin Powell and others is that the Iraq war was such a just cause that we would have invaded even if we had known beforehand that no weapons of mass destruction existed.

To some, that might sound like a feeble effort to downplay a massive intelligence failure. I think it's more than that. I think it's the truth.

In effect, the Bush administration is now admitting that WMD were never the reason for the war. They chose to invade Iraq not to protect us from anthrax or nuclear attack, but because they hoped that an invasion would inspire new respect for U.S. power and would allow us to use Iraq as a base from which to transform the entire Arab world.

In the fall of 2002, however, administration officials recognized that honesty was not the best policy. Americans would never support an unprovoked war based on some grandiose ambition and dubious strategic benefit. If Bush officials wanted war, they needed to terrorize the American public into supporting it, and they seized upon the CIA's assessment of Iraqi WMD as the perfect tool for achieving that goal.

But first, the intelligence agencies had to be whipped into playing along.

While the CIA believed that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, it had also concluded that his stockpiles posed little danger to us or the rest of the world. That widely held view was captured perfectly in remarks by Powell on Feb. 24, 2001:

"Frankly, [sanctions] have worked," Powell told an Egyptian press conference. "[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

To get its war, the administration had to transform what it knew to be a minor, contained annoyance into a threat big enough to scare the American people. The solution it hit upon was ingenious: They fabricated a link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden.

Once again, though, the "realists" at the CIA posed a problem. They knew that no such link existed, and they naively thought their job was to be honest about what they knew. So, CIA Director George Tenet told Congress that it was highly unlikely that Saddam would ever give WMD to terrorists, and CIA analysts confirmed that Saddam and bin Laden were far from allies and, in fact, hated and distrusted each other.

That was true, but back then, the administration was more interested in fear than truth. It began a campaign to force the CIA to toe the company line, a campaign focused in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office. Pressure was exerted in private, including visits by Cheney to cross-examine analysts at CIA headquarters. It took place in public, as well, as mouthpieces in the conservative press attacked the CIA as Saddam-loving apologists. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld even created a whole new intelligence office to reinterpret evidence "overlooked" by the fools at CIA.

Inevitably, the agency gave in, with surrender coming in the form of a letter from Tenet that grudgingly allowed for the possibility of a bin Laden-Saddam link. That was all the administration needed.

"Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam," President Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address. "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."

A similar sequence of events can be traced involving Iraq's nuclear program. The CIA's honest assessment was that "Iraq has probably continued at least low-level theoretical R&D associated with its nuclear program," but little more.

Again, postwar analysis has confirmed the accuracy of that claim, but again, the administration didn't want accuracy. It wanted scary. It cowed the CIA and other agencies into silence, allowing Cheney, Bush and others to warn that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear program, had sought to buy uranium, had tried to acquire ways to enrich that uranium. None of that was true, but it served its purpose.

Looking back, then, the real scandal is not what the CIA got wrong. The real outrage is how much it got right, but was muzzled from telling us.

Jay Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor. His column appears Thursdays and Mondays.

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Flashback: There was no failure of intelligence
Sidney Blumenthal
February 5, 2004
The Guardian

Before he departed on his quest for Saddam Hussein's fabled weapons of mass destruction last June, David Kay, chief of the Iraq Survey Group, told friends that he expected promptly to locate the cause of the pre-empti ve war. On January 28, Kay appeared before the Senate to testify that there were no WMDs. "It turns out that we were all wrong," he said. President Bush, he added helpfully, was misinformed by the whole intelligence commu nity which, like Kay, made assumptions that turned out to be false.

Within days, Bush declared that he would, after all, appoint a commission to investigate; significantly, it would report its findings only after the presidential election.

Kay's testimony was the catalyst for this u-turn, but only one of his claims is correct: that he was wrong. The truth is that much of the intelligence community did not fail, but presented correct assessments and warn ings, that were overridden and suppressed. On virtually every single important claim made by the Bush administration in its case for war, there was serious dissension. Discordant views - not from individual analysts but f rom several intelligence agencies as a whole - were kept from the public as momentum was built for a congressional vote on the war resolution.

Precisely because of the qualms the administration encountered, it created a rogue intelligence operation, the Office of Special Plans, located within the Pentagon and under the control of neo-conservatives. The OSP r oamed outside the ordinary inter-agency process, stamping its approval on stories from Iraqi exiles that the other agencies dismissed as lacking credibility, and feeding them to the president.

At the same time, constant pressure was applied to the intelligence agencies to force their compliance. In one case, a senior intelligence officer who refused to buckle under was removed.

Bruce Hardcastle was a senior officer for the Middle East for the Defence Intelligence Agency. When Bush insisted that Saddam was actively and urgently engaged in a nuclear weapons programme and had renewed production of chemical weapons, the DIA reported otherwise. According to Patrick Lang, the former head of human intelligence at the CIA, Hardcastle "told [the Bush administration] that the way they were handling evidence was wrong. " The response was not simply to remove Hardcastle from his post: "They did away with his job," Lang says. "They wanted only liaison officers ... not a senior intelligence person who argued with them."

When the state department's bureau of intelligence and research (INR) submitted reports which did not support the administration's case - saying, for example, that the aluminum tubes Saddam possessed were for conventi onal rocketry, not nuclear weapons (a report corroborated by department of energy analysts), or that mobile laboratories were not for WMDs, or that the story about Saddam seeking uranium in Niger was bogus, or that there was no link between Saddam and al-Qaida (a report backed by the CIA) - its analyses were shunted aside. Greg Thielman, chief of the INR at the time, told me: "Everyone in the intelligence community knew that the White Hou se couldn't care less about any information suggesting that there were no WMDs or that the UN inspectors were very effective."

When the CIA debunked the tales about Niger uranium and the Saddam/al-Qaida connection, its reports were ignored and direct pressure applied. In October 2002, the White House inserted mention of the uranium into a spe ech Bush was to deliver, but the CIA objected and it was excised. Three months later, it reappeared in his state of the union address. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice claimed never to have seen the original CIA memo and deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley said he had forgotten about it.

Never before had any senior White House official physically intruded into CIA's Langley headquarters to argue with mid-level managers and analysts about unfinished work. But twice vice president Cheney and Lewis Libby , his chief of staff, came to offer their opinions. According to Patrick Lang: "They looked disapproving, questioned the reports and left an impression of what you're supposed to do. They would say: 'you haven't looked at the evidence'. The answer would be, those reports [from Iraqi exiles] aren't valid. The analysts would be told, you should look at this again'. Finally, people gave up. You learn not to contradict them."

The CIA had visitors too, according to Ray McGovern, former CIA chief for the Middle East. Newt Gingrich came, and Condi Rice, and as for Cheney, "he likes the soup in the CIA cafeteria," McGovern jokes.

Meanwhile, senior intelligence officers were kept in the dark about the OSP. "I didn't know about its existence," said Thielman. "They were cherry picking intelligence and packaging it for Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld t o take to the president. That's the kind of rogue operation that peer review is intended to prevent."

CIA director George Tenet, for his part, opted to become a political advocate for Bush's brief rather than a protector of the intelligence community. On the eve of the congressional debate, in a crammed three-week per iod, the agency wrote a 90-page national intelligence estimate justifying the administration's position on WMDs and scrubbed of all dissent. Once the document was declassifed after the war it became known that it containe d 40 caveats - including 15 uses of "probably", all of which had been removed from the previously published version. Tenet further ingratiated himself by remaining silent about the OSP. "That's totally unacceptable for a CIA director," said Thielman.

On February 5 2003, Colin Powell presented evidence of WMDs before the UN. Cheney and Libby had tried to inject material from Iraqi exiles and the OSP into his presentation, but Powell rejected most of it. Yet, for the most important speech of his career, he refused to allow the presence of any analysts from his own intelligence agency. "He didn't have anyone from INR near him," said Thielman. "Powell wanted to sell a rotten fish. He had decided there was no way to avoid war. His job was to go to war with as much legitimacy as we could scrape up."

Powell ignored INR analysts' comments on his speech. Almost every piece of evidence he unveiled turned out later to be false.

This week, when Bush announced he would appoint an investigative commission, Powell offered a limited mea culpa at a meeting at the Washington Post. He said that if only he had known the intelligence, he might not have supported an invasion. Thus he began to show carefully calibrated remorse, to distance himself from other members of the administration and especially Cheney. Powell also defended his UN speech, claiming "it reflected the best judgments of all of the intelligence agencies".

Powell is sensitive to the slightest political winds, especially if they might affect his reputation. If he is a bellwether, will it soon be that every man must save himself?

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Bush administration chastised as 'dead wrong' by panel on prewar intelligence on Iraq
Katherine Shrader Canadian Press
March 31, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a scathing report, a presidential commission said Thursday that America's spy agencies were "dead wrong" in most of their judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the war and that the United States knows "disturbingly little" about the weapons programs and threats posed by many of the nation's most dangerous adversaries.

The commission called for dramatic change to prevent future failures. It outlined more than 70 recommendations, saying that President George W. Bush must give John Negroponte, the new director of national intelligence, broader powers for overseeing the nation's 15 spy agencies.

It also called for sweeping changes at the FBI to combine the bureau's counterterrorism and counterintelligence resources into a new office. [...]

"We conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," the commission said in a report to the president. "This was a major intelligence failure."

The main cause, the commission said, was the intelligence community's "inability to collect good information about Iraq's WMD programs, serious errors in analysing what information it could gather and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions rather than good evidence.

"On a matter of this importance, we simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude," the report said.

Looking beyond Iraq, the panel examined the ability of the intelligence community to accurately assess the risk posed by America's foes. [...]

"Our review has convinced us that the best hope for preventing future failures is dramatic change," the report said. "We need an intelligence community that is truly integrated, far more imaginative and willing to run risks, open to a new generation of Americans and receptive to new technologies."

The report urged Bush to give more authority to Negroponte, his new director of national intelligence, overseeing all of the nation's 15 spy agencies. [...]

The panel recommended that Bush demand more of the intelligence community, which has been repeatedly criticized for failures as various investigations have looked back on the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the U.S.

"The intelligence community needs to be pushed," the report said. "It will not do its best unless it is pressed by policy-makers - sometimes to the point of discomfort."[...]

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Pope hovering close to death, but lucid, serene
April 1, 2005

VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II hovered close to death after receiving last rites following a devastating heart attack as senior cardinals prepared Catholics around the world for his demise.

The pope's condition was "very serious" after deteriorating dramatically following the heart attack, septic shock and a urinary tract infection, the Vatican announced early Friday, but by midday he had rallied somewhat and his condition was reported to be "stable".

John Paul II is "fully conscious," lucid and "extremely serene," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told a news conference at 12:30 pm (1030 GMT), adding that he had received his closest advisers in separate meetings at his bedside.

But a visibly moved Navarro-Valls, the papal spokesman for over 20 years, made no attempt to hide his concern, even as thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square to pray for the 84-year-old pope in what many believe to be his final hours.

"I'm trembling because I can feel that this time he may not make it," said Maria Abbate, a 50-year-old Italian woman standing in the large sun-filled St. Peter's square.

"The fact that he did not go to hospital means that he is ready to die," said Abbate. [...]

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Terri Schiavo Dies, 13 Days After Her Feeding Tube Is Removed
By Mike Schneider Associated Press Writer
Published: Mar 31, 2005

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (AP) - Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman who spent 15 years connected to a feeding tube in an epic legal and medical battle that went all the way to the White House and Congress, died Thursday, 13 days after the tube was removed. She was 41.

Schiavo died at 9:05 a.m. at the Pinellas Park hospice where she lay for years while her husband and her parents fought over her in what was easily the longest, most bitter - and most heavily litigated - right-to-die dispute in U.S. history.

The feud between the parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, and their son-in-law continued even after her death: The Schindlers' advisers said Schiavo's brother and sister had been at her bedside a few minutes before the end came, but were not there at the moment of her death because Michael Schiavo would not let them in the room.

"And so his heartless cruelty continues until this very last moment," said the Rev. Frank Pavone, a Roman Catholic priest. He added: "This is not only a death, with all the sadness that brings, but this is a killing, and for that we not only grieve that Terri has passed but we grieve that our nation has allowed such an atrocity as this and we pray that it will never happen again."

Dawn Kozsey, 47, a musician who was among those outside Schiavo's hospice, wept. "Words cannot express the rage I feel," she said. "Is my heart broken for this? Yes."

She left no written instructions, but her husband argued that his wife told him long ago she would not want to be kept alive artificially. His in-laws disputed that, saying that would have gone against her Roman Catholic faith, and they contended she could get better with treatment. They said she laughed, cried, responded to them and tried to talk.

In Washington, the president said he was saddened by the death.

"The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak," Bush said. "In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in favor of life." [...]

Gov. Jeb Bush said that millions of people around the world will be "deeply grieved" by her death but that the debate over her fate could help others grapple with end-of-life issues.

Comment: With the death of Terri Schiavo, it is hard not to think about the perverted nature of the way in which the final days and hours of an already incapacitated human being were turned into a lurid spectacle for the American public to witness. Despite our technologically evolved society, in terms of morality, or dare we say, "spirituality", as a species it is clear that we have progressed little from the time of our neaderthal ancestors.

Every day, humans continue to kill and maim each other in the most barbarous ways. No country on earth is exempt from the shame that this exhibition of our collective inhumanity brings. Yet in most countries, while man's inhumanity to man shows no signs of abating, it is only in America that killing has been turned into "reality TV".

The Chinese government, for but one example, makes little attempt to hide its human rights abuses, thereby avoiding adding hypocrisy to its list of crimes. It is, however, the way in which Terri Schiavo was killed ("allowed to die"), when contrasted with the "democracy and freedom" that the US claims to embody, that makes her death one of the most sickening and obscene manifestations of the worst aspects of human nature.

If there were ever a situation where one could say that humanity had gone as far as it was ever going to go, it would be the moment when hundreds of millions of people were enduced to publically watch their government execute by starvation, over a period of 13 days, a helpless and incapacitated woman.

We have indeed reached the pinnacle of human evolution, but only if "pinnacle" is undestood to mean "limit", because, for a species such as ours, there can only be one destiny.

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Wolfowitz Gets OK as World Bank President
By Lesley Wroughton, Reuters
Thu Mar 31, 5:05 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The World Bank unanimously approved Paul Wolfowitz as its president on Thursday despite quiet misgivings by some members over his role as the Bush administration's architect of the Iraq war.

The outcome had already largely been decided by the governments of the bank's major shareholder nations before the 24-member board met for a vote by consensus.

Wolfowitz, 61, the U.S. deputy defense secretary, will overlap with current bank chief and Clinton appointee James Wolfensohn before taking the reins of the biggest funder of development projects in the poorest nations on June 1.

"It is humbling to be entrusted with the leadership of this critically important international institution," Wolfowitz, who had sought to convince his new global constituency he was more multidimensional than his hard-line image, said in a statement.

He said the next six months would be important for development policy decisions, before a September U.N. summit to measure progress toward global poverty reduction goals.

Wolfowitz also said he understood the urgency of helping ease the bank's poorest borrowers' debt burdens, and improve infrastructure and regional integration if poverty was to be properly tackled.

While many had fumed privately at President Bush's nomination of the prominent conservative, not a single European government spoke out against his candidacy. Sources said grumbling was kept low in part because of European jostling for top jobs at other global agencies.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian official was the only nominee for the World Bank job, which by informal agreement is headed by an American. The top post of the International Monetary Fund usually goes to a European.


The Bush administration said it looked forward to working with Wolfowitz, who has promised member countries he will not force U.S. policies on the bank.

"The mission of the World Bank is of vital importance to our country and the world, as this year's focus on development and accelerating action in Africa by the G-8 and the U.N. highlights," the White House said in a statement.

Britain, the bank's other large shareholder, described Wolfowitz as "a distinguished individual with a great deal of international experience." [...]

One of Wolfowitz's first tasks will be to fill management slots left vacant over the past year, as the Bush administration made clear it would replace Wolfensohn.

Development experts and commentators have been willing to give Wolfowitz the benefit of the doubt as he takes over at an organization that many feel has lost its way.

"Let us see his decisions and then judge him on performance rather than on ideology," said former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, co-chairman of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.

Comment: As an architect of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, Wolfowitz has already clearly demonstrated that his "performance" leaves something to be desired...

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Cheney's Oil Change at the World Bank
By Jim Vallette
Tue, 29 Mar 2005

Cheney moves to take control of development coffers through his main man

He wasn't in the room when President George W. Bush announced it recently, but somewhere, Vice President Dick Cheney must have been smiling - well, smirking - when the commander-in-chief's voice coupled the improbable name Paul Wolfowitz with the title "President of the World Bank."

Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz have long worked hand-in-glove on a global quest for U.S. domination over world affairs. This latest action is as bold as the invasion of Iraq two years ago.

Dick Cheney, a long-time beneficiary of World Bank largess, has moved to take ownership of the world's development coffers through his man, Wolfowitz. For his part, Wolfowitz will have a chance to extend his Iraq reconstruction theories to the global level. These concepts mostly involve U.S. control over energy resources. While the Bank, over which the U.S. holds de facto veto power, has done a lot for the nation's oil interests over the years, his nomination is a clear signal that the administration craves more.

"Wolfowitz's words and deeds are antithetical to World Bank pretenses of multilateralism and development," said long-time World Bank critic John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies. "Between this and John Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the UN, it's March Madness on Pennsylvania Avenue."

Like others in the Bush administration, Wolfowitz is consistent. In and out of office, he has articulated a clear vision of U.S. being the world's only superpower, fueled by free-flowing Persian Gulf oil.

Flash back to the early 1990s. Dust settled where the Berlin Wall once stood. The old world order was gone. Then-Defense Secretary Cheney tabbed Wolfowitz - his Assistant Secretary for Policy - to plan new national security strategies that reflected the preeminence of corporate quests in the extension of U.S. military might. Wolfowitz and Cheney prioritized defending Middle East oil fields, which they said "ranks above South America and Africa in terms of global wartime priorities." Wolfowitz fine-tuned this new world order in, writing: "In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region's oil."

After Cheney and Wolfowitz left office following the first President Bush's defeat at the polls, both men continued to push for U.S. corporate access to global oil resources. Cheney, through his stint as CEO of Halliburton, parlayed his political connections into company deals in democracy-rich places like Burma and Turkmenistan. "The problem is that the good Lord didn't see fit to always put oil and gas resources where there are democratic governments," he grumbled to his critics. He had the World Bank, which financed projects in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Chad, and Kazakhstan, to thank for some part of his Halliburton paycheck.

Wolfowitz, meanwhile, articulated the intellectual side of their shared agenda. As dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, he gravely predicted the world's fate with Middle East oil resources threatened by Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. In 1994, he expressed the new preemptive doctrine, saying "By and large, wars are not constructive acts: they are better judged by what they prevent than by what they accomplish."

His was the clearest voice in a chorus of ex-Reagan and Bush officials calling upon Clinton to strike Hussein as the decade progressed. "The Persian Gulf with its vital oil resources is critical to us," he told Jim Lehrer in 1996. "That's absolutely central to constructing the kind of world that will be safer in the next century."

Wolfowitz started warning European governments and oil companies doing business with Iraq. "Companies that want to develop Iraq's enormous oil wealth should line up with a government of free Iraq instead," he wrote in 1997.

He sought congressional support for a plan to install Ahmed Chalabi's Iraq National Congress in Southern Iraq, and lashed out at European countries that opposed military measures. The French and Russians, he testified in September 1998, should understand "that the fabulous - and they are fabulous - oil resources of Iraq… will be ultimately in the control of a Government of Free Iraq."

Cheney and Wolfowitz placed their bets on Saddam's demise. With another Bush in office, they rolled the dice.

Wolfowitz never really emphasized eliminating global poverty - the World Bank's stated mission - as a national strategic priority. Bush points to Wolfowitz's stint as U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia as proof of his "commitment to development." But as an envoy he obsessed about gaining U.S. corporate access to Indonesia's energy resources in the 1980s, at a time when strongman Suharto banned opposition, and skimmed plenty from World Bank and other development finance groups.

Wolfowitz's main "development" experience is actually in post-invasion Iraq. After the invasion, he stomped through Europe, demanding that its governments cancel Iraq's debt. When Europe balked, he signed an order saying that anyone not involved in the military coalition would be barred from Iraq reconstruction contracts. A recent Inspector General audit of coalition reconstruction funds found the coalition "did not establish or implement sufficient managerial, financial, and contractual controls to ensure (development) funds were used in a transparent manner. Consequently, there was no assurance the funds were used for the purposes mandated by" the UN.

But Cheney and crew, with the unbounded joy of spring, remain on the charm offensive, trying to secure the economic crown jewel.

Cheney and Wolfowitz understand that global hegemony requires control over the three pillars of power: military, political, and economic. The World Bank sets the terms of global development. When developing countries started demanding a decrease in U.S. political power in the institution, when the Bank balked at supporting Wolfowitz's reconstruction and debt cancellation plans for Iraq, and when a Bank-commissioned study recommended getting out of the oil business, the World Bank became a natural target for a hostile takeover.

Cheney wants in. There's no stopping him now, unless Europe, industrialized Asia, and the Global South decide to put up a fight.

Jim Vallette is research director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network) at the Institute for Policy Studies and an analyst at Foreign Policy In Focus, where this article originally appeared. He is the co-author of numerous studies about international finance and U.S. oil interests, including the December 2004 report, A Wrong Turn from Rio: The World Bank's Road to Climate Catastrophe and the 2000 examination, Halliburton's Destructive Engagement: How Dick Cheney and USA-Engage Subvert Democracy at Home and Abroad.

Comment: Despite Cheney's ambitions and the approval of Wolfowitz for the World Bank position, it seems that the powers that be have other plans for Wolfy...

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Wolfowitz Turns Down World Bank Post to Accept Papacy
Breaking News Now

US Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who was appointed head of the World Bank yesterday, shocked pundits and the White House this morning by turning down the post in favor of an offer from the Roman Catholic Church to assume the papacy after the death of Jean-Paul II. A shaken Scott McClellan, Bush's Press Secretary, refused to answer questions at a brief appearance shortly after hearing the news, raising questions about rumors of a split between the administration and the neocons.

Reports from Israel say that Ariel Sharon was "jubilant" that his close friend and advisor, Wolfowitz, was assuming such an important post. "Let the crusade begin!" Mr. Sharon was reported to have told his cabinet.

A Vatican spokesman said the move was done to curb any accusations of anti-Semitism within the Church. Another official, speaking off the record, suggested that the move was designed to show Christians everywhere that the Catholic Church was prepared to do everything in its power to help bring on the Apocalypse, attempting to head off criticisms from the fundamentalist churches in the United States who believe the Roman Church is soft on Satan.

Update: President Bush has issued a statement in which he has given his full support to Wolfowitz. "He'll look great in those robes and he's offered to let me borrow the Popemobile when I play golf!" said an excited Bush, whose boyish enthusiasm was evident.

Bush also said he hopes the Church will not prolong the suffering of the current Pope, Jean Paul II, and will remove his feeding tube. "Life is much too precious to be wasted on the dead," he said. When an Italian journalist pointed out that Jean-Paul II was still conscious, Bush jokingly asked if he was from Il Manifesto, the communist paper whose reporter Giuliana Sgrena was attacked by US forces after her liberation in Baghdad.

Bush denied any split between his administration and the neoconservatives, and said that had he known the Papacy was open, he would not have tendered Wolfowitz's name for the World Bank.

"Our savior was Jewish, and my gut tells me that putting a Jew as Pope will lead to a new beginning in Christianity, one that will bring the glory of Armageddon to the Holy Lands and then to the world. Paul has been an ardent defender of this policy as part of my administration, and I have no doubt he will continue to play an important role at the Vatican."

Comment: While our initial reaction was that this was a very bad April Fool's joke, subsequent investigation on Italian web sites has confirmed it. Obviously the US media, controlled as they are, will not want to publicise this event. We suspect that the Vatican will go through the motions of the Papal Election and present the "new Pope" as a little-known cardinal from somewhere in Eastern Europe or Central Asia.

Other reports are saying that Wolfowitz has been under the influence of certain colleagues with connections to Opus Dei and that he has recently converted to Catholicism.

An earlier report that the board of the World Bank had offered to allow Wolfowitz to run their organisation while undertaking his Papal functions was denied by a World Bank spokesperson, although she did admit that the board had given it considerable thought given that the Bank and the Catholic Church have similar interests in the plight of the world's poor.

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Bush names US Navy secretary as deputy defense secretary 2005-04-01 10:16:55
WASHINGTON, March 31 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush announced Thursday he intends to nominate Navy Secretary Gordon England to be deputy secretary of defense, the No. 2 civilian job at the Pentagon.

Bush chose England to succeed Paul Wolfowitz, who was approved on Thursday as the next president of the World Bank. The nomination requires Senate confirmation.

England, 67, previously held the position of Navy secretary from 2001 until 2003. He was appointed deputy secretary at the Homeland Security Department in January 2003, but returned to the Navy post nine months later.

Before joining the Bush administration, England, worked at General Dynamics Corporation as executive vice president. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland and his master's from the M.J. Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University.

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Bulgaria plans full withdrawal from Iraq before year-end 2005-04-01 15:34:56

SOFIA, April 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Bulgaria's government has decided to cut the number of soldiers in Iraq ahead of summer elections and withdraw completely from the country by the end of the year, Bulgarian daily Trud reported on Friday.

"The government proposes parliament allow the Bulgarian light infantry battalion to fulfill, until Dec. 31, its mandate for maintaining security and stability in Iraq," government spokesman Dimitar Tsonev told reporters on Thursday.

With the approach of general elections this summer, Bulgarian public opposition to the Iraq War has raised pressure on the government to bring home its some 500 soldiers stationed there.

According to the newspaper report, the government decided to reduce Bulgaria's troops in Iraq to 400 just before the general elections on June 25 and then withdraw completely before yearend.

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American Foreign Policy - Pure Evil? Or Just The American Way?

Just to make it absolutely and positively CLEAR about the general nature of successive US governments and their policy towards the inhabitants of this planet:

Afghanistan. Just about every Western citizen, most particularly Americans, when asked for their opinion on Afghanistan will come up with something along the lines of, "cruel treatment of women, brutal fundamentalist Islamic Taleban, no education, no music", followed up by "US military, under the command of President Bush, liberated the Afghan people who now enjoy many more liberties."

Of course, none of us should be surprised to learn that the above is, at best, an extremely subjective interpretation of the facts, at worst an out and out lie. Recently, Laura Bush graced Afghan soil and declared:

"It's very hard to imagine the idea of denying girls an education, of never allowing girls to go to school"

The only conclusion that we can draw from such a comment is that Laura is not much of a history fan, particularly the history of the latter part of the 20th century which concerns US foreign policy in Central Asia. If Laura had bothered to delve into the harder to find history books, she would have discovered the real reason that Afghan women were treated like cattle throughout the 1980's and 90's.

In 1973 Dr. Mohammad Daoud declared a new Republic of Afghanistan, ousting the monarch government of Mohammed Zaher Shah in a bloodless coup d’etat. Daoud was an extreme conservative and ruled as absolute dictator. In response to the oppressive policy of the new regime the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan PDPA was formed. On April 26, 1978 Daoud's ordered the arrest of almost the entire leadership of the PDPA. The progressive masses in Kabul saw the arrests as an attempt to annihilate the PDPA, just as the military junta had done to the workers' parties in Chile in 1973 (with US backing). An uprising by the lower ranks of the military freed the popular party leader, Nur Mohammad Taraki. Within a day, Daoud was overthrown and a revolutionary government proclaimed, headed by Taraki.

According to the CIA's own casebook in Afghanistan:

Before the revolution, 5 percent of Afghanistan's rural landowners owned more than 45 percent of the arable land. A third of the rural people were landless laborers, sharecroppers or tenants.

Debts to the landlords and to money lenders "were a regular feature of rural life." An indebted farmer turned over half his crop each year to the money lender.

"When the PDPA took power, it quickly moved to remove both landownership inequalities and usury." Decree number six of the revolution canceled mortgage debts of agricultural laborers, tenants and small landowners.

The revolutionary regime set up extensive literacy programs, especially for women. It printed textbooks in many languages-Dari, Pashtu, Uzbek, Turkic and Baluchi. "The government trained many more teachers, built additional schools and kindergartens, and instituted nurseries for orphans," says the country study.

Before the revolution, female illiteracy had been 96.3 percent in Afghanistan. Rural illiteracy of both sexes was 90.5 percent.

By 1985 there had been an 80-percent increase in hospital beds. The government initiated mobile medical units and brigades of women and young people to go to the undeveloped countryside and provide medical services to the peasants for the first time.

Among the very first decrees of the revolutionary regime were to prohibit bride-price and give women freedom of choice in marriage. "Historically," said the U.S. manual, "gender roles and women's status have been tied to property relations. Women and children tend to be assimilated into the concept of property and to belong to a male."

Before the revolution abride who did not exhibit signs of virginity on the wedding night could be murdered by her father and/or brothers.

After the revolution, young women in the cities, where the new government's authority was strong, could tear off the veil, freely go out in public, attend school and get a job. They were organized in the Democratic Women's Organization of Afghanistan, founded in 1965 by Dr. Anahita Ratebzada.

The revolution and the establishment of the social government under Taraki challenged the old fundamentalist Islamic order. Afghanistan was slowly being turned into a progressive and libertarian country with a somewhat secular government providing equal rights for all.

What was the US government's response?

The CIA began building a mercenary army, recruiting feudal Afghan warlords and their servants for a "holy war" against the "communists", who had liberated "their" women and "their" peasants. Washington spent billions of dollars every year on the war.

Now remember, the reforms in Afghanistan began in 1978 and were gaining pace over the following years.

In an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski in "Le Nouvel Observateur" Jan 15-21, 1998, p.76, Brzezinski tells us:

Brzezinski: According to the official version of history,
CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

The "pro-Soviet regime" mentioned here was the socialst government of Tariki that was advocating women's rights and education for all.

Question: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

Brzezinski: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to
intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

The fact is that the Russians were enticed to intervene in Afghanistan because of the aforementioned aid and weaponry that the the US was supplying to the Feudal warlords who were seeking to overthrow the socialist government of Taraki - the one that had begun to reform and open up Afghan society.

Question: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, in substance: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalists, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

So not only did the US successfully give Russia its "Vietnam" it also succeeded in removing the socialist government of Tariki, replacing it with the regime of the Feudal warlords, you know, the ones that promote the murdering of women if they are not virgins on their wedding night.

Question: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Indeed, not only does the US government allege that Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace, but they also allege that the 19 hijackers on September 11th 2001 were trained, aided and abetted by the Taleban warlords that the US essentially placed in power.

If only we could encourage Laura Bush to expose herself to the truth about Afghanistan's history she might find it a little easier to "imagine how the idea of denying girls an education, of never allowing girls to go to school", can come about.

Heck! We might even get her to understand why, despite the "liberation" bestowed on the Iraqi people by her husband, twice as many Iraqi children are now going hungry than under Saddam...

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Nearly twice as many Iraqi children going hungry since Saddam's ouster, U.N. expert says
By Jonathan Fowler, Associated Press, 3/30/2005 12:39

GENEVA (AP) Malnutrition among the youngest Iraqis has almost doubled since the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, a hunger specialist told the U.N. human rights body Wednesday in a summary of previously reported studies on health in Iraq.

By last fall, 7.7 percent of Iraqi children under 5 suffered acute malnutrition, compared to 4 percent after Saddam's ouster in April 2003, said Jean Ziegler, the U.N. Human Rights Commission's special expert on the right to food.

Malnutrition, which is exacerbated by a lack of clean water and adequate sanitation, is a major killer of children in poor countries. Children who survive are usually physically and mentally impaired for life, and are more vulnerable to disease.

The situation facing Iraqi youngsters is ''a result of the war led by coalition forces,'' said Ziegler, an outspoken Swiss sociology professor and former lawmaker whose previous targets have included Swiss banks, China, Brazil and Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

Overall, more than a quarter of Iraqi children don't get enough to eat, Ziegler told the 53-nation commission, which is halfway through its annual six-week session.

The U.S. delegation and other coalition countries declined to respond to his presentation, which compiled the findings of studies conducted by other specialists.

In reporting the 7.7 percent malnutrition rate for Iraqi youngsters, the Norwegian-based Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science said in November that the figure was similar to the levels in some African countries.

Iraq was generally regarded as having good nutrition rates in the 1970s and 1980s, but problems emerged when the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The United Nations later began an oil-for-food program, which allowed Iraq to sell oil to buy food and medicine. That was credited with nearly doubling the Iraqi population's annual food intake and halving malnutrition among children.

Ziegler did not mention the role of Iraq's insurgency in the nutrition problem, something often cited by aid groups.

Late last year, Carol Bellamy, head of UNICEF, said the violence hampers the delivery of adequate supplies of food.

Ziegler also cited an October 2004 U.S. study that estimated as many as 100,000 more Iraqis many of them women and children had died since the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq than would normally have died, based on the death rate before the war.

''Most died as a result of the violence, but many others died as a result of the increasingly difficult living conditions, reflected in increasing child mortality levels,'' he said.

The authors of the report in the British-based medical journal The Lancet researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad conceded their data were of ''limited precision.''

Ziegler also told the commission he was concerned about hunger in North Korea, Palestinian areas, Sudan's conflict-ravaged Darfur region, Zimbabwe, India, Myanmar, the Philippines and Romania.

Worldwide, he said, more than 17,000 children under 5 die daily from hunger-related diseases.

''The silent daily massacre by hunger is a form of murder,'' Ziegler said. ''It must be battled and eliminated.''

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UN rights expert charges US using food access as military tactic
Thu Mar 31,12:59 PM ET

GENEVA - A UN human rights expert sharply condemned the invasion of Iraq and the global anti-terror drive, accusing the US-led coalition of using food deprivation as a military tactic and of sapping efforts to fight hunger in the world.

"The situation of the right to food in Iraq is of serious concern," the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, said in a report to the UN human rights commission.

The report also highlighted "widespread concerns about the continued lack of access to clean drinking water" and allegations by British campaigners that water sources were deliberately cut off by coalition forces.

"Those are the allegations, but what is proven is that at Fallujah, denial, the blockade imposed on food and the destruction of water reservoirs was used as weapon of war," Ziegler told journalists.

He insisted that the practice was a "clear violation" of the Geneva Conventions and delivered a firm condemnation of any attempt to deny food or water supplies.

The UN expert insisted he was not judging the legitimacy of the invasion or the tactics used by military forces.

"I am simply maintaining a firm condemnation, very firm, of the humanitarian consequences of this strategy and the military tactics applied since March 2003 by the occupying forces," he said.

Citing previous studies reported last year, the report said that "acute malnutrition amongst Iraqi children under the age of five has almost doubled from four percent to 7.7 percent," since Saddam Hussein was toppled.

A US official said Ziegler's comments were "unfortunate."

"First he has not visited Iraq, secondly he's wrong," said US ambassador Kevin Moley.

Moley said the rise in malnutrition rates began in 2002 and 2003 under Saddam Hussein's regime, and the rates were still lower in Iraq than "throughout the Arab world."

"He's taking some information that in itself is difficult to validate and juxtaposing is own views which are widely known about the war in Iraq and suggesting the two are linked," he told journalists.

"Vaccination rates, food aid have improved dramatically since the fall of Saddam Hussein," the US envoy added.

Overall efforts to tackle terror groups and the invasion of Iraq had also drained precious resources away from fighting hunger in poor countries when they should be doing the opposite, the UN expert said.

The wide-ranging report on global food rights also warned that more people could die as aid programmes in crisis areas, notably in Africa, were obliged to cut down food deliveries.

The World Food Programme had cut food rations by about one third in February 2004, bringing them "drastically under" international minimum nutritional standards, according to Ziegler.

"This will bring higher mortality in the camps, because aid is being redirected towards the 'War against Terror.' This is unacceptable," he added.

Ziegler's report said the resources spent on "the international 'Alliance against Hunger' remain pitiful, when compared to the billions of dollars spent on the 'War against Terror.'"

"The amount of aid being provided for development and famine relief is falling, as money is redirected towards strengthening national security and the fight against terrorism."

"Yet the fight against terrorism should incorporate efforts to reduce hunger, poverty and inequality," it added.

Ziegler urged authorities in Iraq to ensure that reconstruction was carried out "in ways that address chronic malnourishment and do not undermine the future food security of the Iraqi people."

Comment: Humankind's current course works out rather well for the powers that be. Resources diverted into the war on terrorism from humanitarian programs serve a dual purpose: the crusade against "terrorists" and the coincident march towards fascism are well-funded, and the poor peoples of the world are starved to death. The only thing "better" than fascism is fascism and population control all in one easy move! Toss in a few genetically engineered super-plagues, and you have a marvelous recipe for world domination - or total disaster.

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Israel Officially Honors Terrorists
In an astounding act of shamelessness that is tantamount to a confession that fake terror attacks form an integral part of its foreign policy, the Israeli government yesterday officially honored the nine Israelis who carried out the false flag operation in 1954 known as the Lavon affair:

Israel honors Egyptian spies 50 years after fiasco

After half a century of reticence and recrimination, Israel on Wednesday honored nine Egyptian Jews recruited as agents-provocateur in what became one of the worst intelligence bungles in the country's history.

Israel was at war with Egypt when it hatched a plan in 1954 to ruin its rapprochement with the United States and Britain by firebombing sites frequented by foreigners in Cairo and Alexandria.

But Israel hoped the attacks, which caused no casualties, would be blamed on local insurgents collapsed when the young Zionist bombers were caught and confessed at public trials. Two were hanged. The rest served jail terms and emigrated to Israel.

Embarrassed before the West, the fledgling Jewish state long denied involvement. It kept mum even after its 1979 peace deal with Egypt, fearing memories of the debacle could sour ties. [...]

Firstly, we should note that the agents involves are called "spies" as opposed to "terrorists", yet their actions are indistinguishable from the actions of the modern day Arab groups that Israel is so quick to label "terrorists". In 1954 Colonel (later President) Nasser was negotiating with Britain over the evacuation of Britain's giant military bases in the Suez Canal Zone. Israel was vehemently opposed to such a move and immediately decided on a way to prevent it. Colonel Benyamin Givli, then head of Israeli intelligence, ordered his intelligence operatives to carry out a series of bombings and attacks on American and British property in Cairo. The desired result was that the blame for the attacks would be put on the Muslim Brotherhood leading the Americans and British to assume that there was too much internal opposition to Suez withdrawal and that the fledgling government of Nasser was not one they could trust.

The first bomb went off, on 2 July, in the Alexandria post office. On 14 July their agents, in clandestine radio contact with Tel Aviv, fire-bombed US Information Service libraries in Cairo and Alexandria. That same day, a phosphorous bomb exploded prematurely in the pocket of one Philip Natanson, nearly burning him alive, as he was about to enter the British-owned Rio cinema in Alexandria.

His arrest and subsequent confession led to the break-up of the whole ring-but not before the completion of another cycle of clandestine action and diplomatic failure. On 15 July President Eisenhower assured the Egyptians that 'simultaneously' with the signing of a Suez agreement the United States would enter into 'firm commitments' for economic aid to strengthen their armed forces. On 23 July --anniversary of the 1952 revolution-- the Israeli agents still at large had a final fling; they started fires in two Cairo cinemas, in the central post office and the railway station. On the same day, Britain announced that the War Secretary, Antony Head, was going to Cairo. And on 27 July he and the Egyptians initiated the 'Heads of Agreement' on the terms of Britain's evacuation.

This whole episode came to be known as the 'Lavon Affair', for it had been established in the Cairo trial that Lavon, as Minister of Defence, had approved the campaign of sabotage. However, six years after the event, the real truth came out that Lavon was innocent and it was the old terrorist and then Israeli Prime Minister David Bengurion and his young proteges who were exposed as the real culprits during a forgery trial in September 1960, where a witness divulged that he had seen the faked signature of Lavon on a document relating to a 1954 'security mishap'.

Since then, Israel has gone on to carry out numerous similar false flag operations designed to demonise its enemies, provide justification for several wars waged on its behalf by America, the continuation of billions of dollars in "aid" from US taxpayers and its inhuman treatment of the Palestinian people.

At this late stage in the game, it appears that the Israeli government no longer cares that the world knows that it fully supports the tactic of covertly attacking its friends and blaming it on its enemies. Perhaps we should all take them at their word and, from now on, view world events, and particularly events in the Middle East, from the perspective of "who benefits".

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Israeli army uses ambulance to move weapons
3/31/2005 7:43:00 AM GMT

This is not the first violation of the Geneva Conventions to be reported about the Israeli army

The Israeli army uses ambulances vehicles to move troops and weapons in military operations against the Palestinians, a violation of the Geneva Conventions, Israeli sources revealed.

"The occupation troops, in blatant violation of the Geneva Convention, have used ambulances in conducting military operations against the Palestinians", according to the Israeli television's 10th channel.

"The Israeli authorities said that they used to cover any medical symbols on the ambulances before conducting any military operation, but such an allegation was denied by hundreds of Israeli physicians and soldiers", the channel added.

The channel also interviewed several reserve soldiers whose faces were blocked out to protect their identity.

"I and other members of my unit saw soldiers with their weapons, bulletproof vests and helmets climbing into military ambulances," one of the reservists said.

"The use of ambulances is against the Geneva Convention which Israel has signed. Moreover, once ambulances are used for military objectives they become a legitimate target," said Doctor Rafi Waldman, a member of the organisation Doctors for Human Rights.

Israel accused the Palestinians in the past of using UN ambulances to move fighters and weapons.

And the Israeli authorities released footage last October of what they claim to be a Palestinian fighter loading a rocket launcher onto a United Nations ambulance.

But later, they admitted that the alleged weapons were actually stretchers.

Israeli settlers steal Palestinian’s horses

A group of Jewish fanatics and armed settlers from the Etmar settlement stormed Palestinian farms at the West Bank village of Aqrabah, last night and took four horses, local sources said.

"Settlers from the nearby Etmar Jewish settlement have stolen the four horses, and I informed the Palestinian civil liaison officers who in turn informed the Israeli side about the incident", Ghalib Mayadmeh, Aqrabah mayor said.

And the Israeli authorities did not take any serious steps to bring the stolen horses back to the Palestinians, he added.

"Despite the increase in settlers' attacks, exploiting the calming down situation, the occupation forces haven't given any attention to such aggressions", Mr. Mayadmeh said.

Also Wednesday Israeli troops stormed the town of Aseerah Al Shamaliah, north of Nablus, destroying a number of Palestinian homes.

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Zap! 68-year-old man gets shock of a lifetime when Cheney comes to town
March 31, 2005 01:47 PM

Those three "No Blood for Oil" types turned away from the Bush rally in Denver last week may have had their civil rights abused -- but at least they didn't try to get around the presidential motorcade.

They could have gotten some impromtu electroshock therapy.

That's what happened to an unfortunate soul here in the Philly area on Monday, when police wouldn't let him and his son drive the last half-block to his house or park his car and walk. The reason? Their street was blocked for Dick Cheney's motorcade, on his way to a fundraising event for Bucks County GOP congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.

Some words were exchanged, and the next thing you know Jay Saddington, of Warwick, Pa., was zapped with 50,000 volts from a police stun gun.

The apparently very threatening Saddington is 68 years old.

"I'm a fairly respectable citizen, and they treated me like I was a bank robber or killer," Saddington said. "I was really bent out of shape about this whole thing."

Police in Warwick insist that Saddington and his 32-year-old son wouldn't take directions from the cops and used a series of expletives. They charged the two with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. [...]

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Ann Coulter causes stir at KU

Heckling, standing ovations interrupt right-wing commentator
By Mike Belt, Journal-World
Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter was greeted with a mixture of standing ovations and heckling after she took center stage Tuesday night at Kansas University's Lied Center.

As soon as she stepped up to the microphone, Coulter fired off one zinger after another about liberalism while promising to answer questions from left-wing members in the audience who could "thrash their way to a coherent thought."

"I've come to find I like liberals a lot more," Coulter said early in her speech. "They're kind of cute when they're cold, shivering and afraid."

Comment: Spoken like a true psychopath! It is particularly curious that Coulter accuses her opponents of having to "thrash their way to a coherent thought" when it is obvious that her speech was centered around riling up the emotions of the audience instead of attempting any kind of rational, coherent dialogue.

Coulter spoke as the 37th J.A. Vickers Sr. Memorial Lecture Series lecturer to a crowd estimated by KU officials at about 1,800 people. The lectures, which began in 1971, were established through a gift to the Kansas University Endowment Association by the Vickers family of Wichita.

Coulter received several standing ovations during her speech, but she also found herself interrupted several times by a small, scattered group of hecklers.

"I think there are some people in the audience who meant to be at the sexual reorientation class down the hall," Coulter said, in response to the heckling.

Comment: Then she uses another tried and true tactic: insulting and belittling her opponents.

Moments later Coulter stopped and called for assistance from students when hecklers started in again and no one of authority was seen trying to stop them.

"Could 10 of the largest College Republicans start walking up and down the aisles and start removing anyone shouting?" Coulter asked. "Otherwise, this lecture is over."

Several people responded, leaving their seats to confront the hecklers, and verbal confrontations erupted in parts of the auditorium. One of those who answered Coulter's call was Michael Conner, a Shawnee freshman.

"All I did was say they shouldn't stop her from speaking," Conner said of confronting some audience members in the back of the auditorium.

Comment: When some audience members take the bait and respond to her insults and name-calling, she then demands that such individuals be removed or she's going to leave. At that point, there was absolutely no chance for a balanced and constructive question and answer period, because anyone who dared to take a stand against Coulter had been removed or silenced out of fear.

Later, when heckling broke out again, a couple of uniformed KU Public Safety Department officers appeared and escorted about six people out of the auditorium.

Coulter resumed her critical remarks, calling Sen. Ted Kennedy a "human dirigible" and the Democrats' "spiritual leader." She also made fun of the Democrats' dalliance with filmmaker Michael Moore and former presidential candidate John Kerry, who she said got away with telling "big, fat, enormous lies."

Despite Kerry's loss, Democrats think their political stances and ideas just "need new labels for their bottles," Coulter said.

She also blasted the nation's judicial system for its handling of the Terri Schiavo case. "We no longer have a single check on the judiciary," she said.

Comment: Don't worry, Ann - soon there won't be any checks on the judiciary. Heck, at the rate things are going in the "Land of the Free" there probably won't be a judiciary at all...

Coulter's appearance spurred mixed emotions among those who came to see her. About a dozen protesters stood outside the center before her speech, carrying signs bearing quotes from her books and columns. Ron Warman Jr. dressed up in a clown suit to express his dislike of Coulter.

Comment: Note that the comment the author makes is not that Coulter's appearance resulted in rational discussion between grown-ups, but rather than it "spurred mixed emotions".

"I think she's a clown or a witch," the 45-year-old Lawrence man said.

Some of the protesters, such as Robert Richardson, said they were members of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics.

"We're just not open-minded enough to like Ann Coulter," Richardson, 28, of Lawrence, said.

Others, such as Mollie Devine, 26, said she was a big fan of Coulter.

"I love her," the Lawrence woman said. "She doesn't back down. She's also funnier than the other (conservative) columnists."

Comment: Indeed, Coulter reminds us of one of the armored bulldozers that the Israelis use to run over the homes and lives of the Palestinians and those who try to help them.

Mary Anne Smith, 38, said she welcomed a chance to hear a noted right-wing conservative speak.

"We hear so much of the liberal side in Lawrence," she said. "I'm excited she came here, and this is not a very easy place to come."

John Altevogt, a conservative GOP activist from Wyandotte County, also welcomed Coulter.

"Ann Coulter is logical, rational and an independent thinker," he said. "In essence, everything the left hates in their womenfolk."

Comment: Apparently, insulting those who do not agree is considered logical, rational, and independent thinking these days in America.

Unhappy with controversy

Others said they were displeased with the hecklers, including brothers Richard and Alfred Dyer, who sat in front of a few hecklers they described as acting like children.

"I think they did a disservice by heckling her," Alfred Dyer, 54, Tonganoxie, said.

"She's got a right to be treated in a civilized manner," Richard Dyer, 53, Lawrence, said.

Comment: Don't the "liberals" she insults also have the right to be treated in a civilized manner?

John Hoopes, 46, Lawrence, said the event reminded him of watching the "Jerry Springer Show."

Comment: The Jerry Springer Show appeals to our basic emotions and animal nature. Ann Coulter uses the same tactic. Bush and his gang use the same tactic. They use the tactic because it works. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

Coulter was paid $25,000 for her appearance, which was paid from the Vickers endowment fund, said Toni Dixon, director of communications for the KU School of Business. State and university money were not used, she said.

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Screened Audiences, Fake News Promote Bush Agenda

Bush, Government Manipulate Media
Helen Thomas, Hearst White House columnist
March 31, 2005

President George W. Bush has learned to use the bully pulpit that is the powerful prerogative of all presidents.

But this president has tried to tweak that power in ways that expand the definition of "managed news."

Let's start with his national campaign to change Social Security.

As he travels around the nation to make his pitch that Social Security is in a crisis, the president is limiting his congregation to screened, sanitized audiences. Why does he sermonize on the subject only to carefully selected audiences?

These are people who are vetted to make sure they agree with the president's views. If they pass that test, the local Republican Party or the groups sponsoring the event then issue tickets to the so-called "town meetings" or "conversations with the president."

Asked why the president speaks only to his supporters, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush's intention is to "educate" the people. He probably meant "indoctrinate."

Is this the president of all the people -- or just some of the people who agree with him?

It's bizarre. He's preaching to the choir, hardly the way to "educate" the public.

Controlling his audience was a prime goal of Bush's 2004 presidential campaign, when anti-war protesters were barred from his public appearances. People who openly disagreed with him were hustled out of the hall.

Comment: Gee, where did we hear about this sort of thing recently... The previous article, perhaps?

We're now seeing the same audience control when Bush speaks about Social Security. The Secret Service and White House aides apparently spend a lot of time trying to handpick those permitted to hear him.

Bush seems satisfied that he has made Social Security a worry to people. That's the goal of his sky-is-falling campaign. But the president is not ready to handle genuine dialogue on the subject or deal with those opposed to his plan to partially privatize the government pension program.

Every administration tries to manage the message that the news media convey to the public about presidential policies, problems and successes. But the Bush White House is pioneering new methods that steer message management into outright government propaganda.

The New York Times on March 13 published an in-depth report on how the administration is cranking up its public relations campaign to manipulate broadcast news by distributing pre-packaged videos prepared by several federal agencies, including the Pentagon.

These videos use phony reporters to tout the administration's position on major issues. Thinly staffed TV stations are only too happy to receive the free videos, which they then pass along to viewers without any acknowledgement that the images and messages are government issue.

Spokespersons for the major TV networks say they would never disseminate government-prepared videos for their news broadcasts. But some financially strapped affiliates apparently are willing to air them without identifying the source.

The government agencies say it is up to the broadcast stations to attribute the origin of the report, if they want to do so.

This practice is far over the ethical line. Shame on both the government agencies and those TV stations.

The Government Accountability Office -- a congressional investigative unit -- has ruled that such government videos represent "covert propaganda." The GAO declared that agencies may not produce pre-packaged news reports "that conceal or do not clearly identify for the television viewing audience" that they were made by the government.

But the White House rejected that opinion and handed reporters a memorandum from the Justice Department and the Office of Management and Budget directing the federal agencies to ignore the GAO verdict.

The memo contended that the GAO did not distinguish between propaganda and "purely informational" news reports and claimed there was no requirement for a federal agency to label its disguised broadcasts.

This is consistent with the administration's other outrageous exercise in propaganda, which took the form of paying a few columnists and broadcasters, such as Armstrong Williams, to promote administration programs.

Williams pushed the Education Department's "No Child Left Behind" program without disclosing that he was on Uncle Sam's payroll.

The president called a halt to paying pundits, saying "there needs to be a nice independent relationship between the White House and the press."

He needs to pay more attention to other administration actions that threaten that independence.

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George W. Bush, the Frightened Man
Thu Mar 31st, 2005
William Pitt

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.

-Eric Hoffer

When I went to New York City this past summer to cover the GOP convention, I remember being awed by the degree of security surrounding Madison Square Garden. There were fences to control the fences, fifty cops on every corner, none of whom knew what the others were telling people to do, a half-dozen passes of needed to get twenty feet in any direction, and that was before you even got inside the door.

I saw the same thing when I went to DC to cover the Inauguration. The capitol was an armed camp, a sea of Bush supporters surrounded by tens of thousands of protesters. At one point, I stopped for 30 seconds next to a squad car to check my cell phone, and was immediately confronted by three cops asking me what I was doing. Amusingly, the security fences and cops decided not to give those protesters One Big Spot to congregate, and instead spread them out like butter across the entire route. The effect was to make the protests seem much larger than they were - and they were big - while forcing the Bush folk to elbow past them every six feet for the entire length of Pennsylvania Avenue.

All those fences. All those guns. All those cops. At first, it seemed like an arguably necessary precaution; these were, after all, the two cities to take the hit on 9/11. But the longer I stayed, the longer I looked around, and the closer I observed the behavior of Bush and his people, I came to a sad conclusion: This security was not about keeping us all safe from terrorists, but was about keeping Bush safe from his own people. The President of the United States is flatly terrified of the citizens he would supposedly lead to some supply-side promised land. He is scared to death of us.

Some positive proof of this came down the wires on Tuesday, when a report surfaced about three people who were removed from a supposedly 'public' town hall meeting with Bush. According to the report, the Secret Service hustled them out because their car had a "No Blood for Oil" bumper sticker on it. The three said they had obtained tickets to the event through the office of Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO), had passed through security and were preparing to take their seats when they were approached by a Secret Service agent who asked them to leave.

Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for Americans United, described the incident accurately: "They're screening the people who are allowed to come and then they're profiling them in the parking lot," he said. "It's quite extraordinary, and disappointing."

'Disappointing' is a mild word. 'Disgusting' would be a better one. George W. Bush is petrified of his own people, and his security goes to extraordinary and wildly expensive pains to make sure that only a hand-picked few, the elect, can get near him to shower him with love and affection.

Where is all this heading? This isolation of the President from the world, from his own people, from any information that does not jibe with his pre-formed opinions? Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower from the Nixon scandals, has some thoughts on the matter he shared in an interview with

I think our democracy is going to be tested to the breaking point by some very dark days ahead and before long. I do expect there to be another major terrorist event. Ports, the nuclear power plants and the chemical factories are extremely vulnerable to an attack. To a considerable event, the war against terrorism has been a hoax because the president has not only spent so much money on the war in Iraq, but because the war in Iraq virtually subverts the war on terror. You cannot reduce the appeal and the strength of Al Qaeda while we occupy Iraq. You can only strengthen it, and strengthening it is what we've been doing steadily for the last couple of years. This is the worst public policy decision making, most antidemocratic and most inclined to be authoritarian, I would say, since the Nixon administration, but Nixon was confronting a Democratic House and Senate and a relatively liberal population in media 40 years ago. John Mitchell and John Connolly and Nixon himself had quite authoritarian instincts, but they weren't allowed to act on them, and to the extent that they did act on them -- it brought them down.

Virtually all the things Nixon did against me that were illegal to keep me from exposing his secret policy are now legal under the Patriot Act. Going into my doctor's office to get information to blackmail me with, wiretaps without warrants, overhearing me--all legal now. The CIA supplied the burglars in my doctor's office with disguises and with cameras and they did a psychological profile on me. That was illegal then, legal now.

I would have said that one thing that Nixon did against me was not yet legal and that was to bring a squad of a dozen Cuban-American assets of the CIA up from Miami to beat me up or kill me on May 3rd, 1973 on the steps of the Capitol. Right now there's at least one Special Forces team under control of the White House operating in this country to take 'extra legal actions'. Now, that sounds to me like a White House-controlled death squad. And that is what the White House sent against me. It's not clear whether the intention was to kill me then, the words were to 'incapacitate Daniel Ellsberg totally'. When I asked their prosecutor, 'does that mean to kill me?'. He said, 'The words were 'to incapacitate you totally.' But he said, 'You have to understand these guys that were CIA assets never use the words 'kill'.'

I think that's the kind of thing we do have in our future, especially when there's another terrorist attack. In that case, I think we'll see enacted very quickly a new Patriot Act, which I'm sure has already been drafted which will make the first Patriot Act look like the Bill of Rights, and the Bill of Rights will be a historical memory.

It is not terrorism that motivates George, or patriotism, or even profiteering. It is fear, pure and simple: Fear of the truth, fear of the world, fear of any data that collides with his faith-based bubble-encapsuled worldview, and fear most of all of the people he would represent.

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you. Now we know, and the knowledge is deeply and profoundly disturbing.

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Student Arrested in Plot to Blow Up School
By CAROLYN THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer
Thu Mar 31, 6:59 PM ET

BUFFALO, N.Y. - A 15-year-old boy who had shown strong interest in the Columbine school shootings has been arrested for allegedly plotting to blow up his high school, authorities said Thursday.

The high school sophomore had assembled bomb-making materials including gunpowder and fuses, and a search of his home showed that the boy was seemingly fascinated with the Columbine massacre, officials said. Authorities found downloaded autopsy reports on Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, crime scene photos and pictures of the weapons.

The student talked about his plans with other students, who alerted officials at his high school outside Buffalo. He was arrested March 23.

"He had stated an intent to blow up the school," District Attorney Frank Clark said. "He had purchased the gunpowder, he had primers, he had the pipes which had already been bored out, he had the ball bearings."

The boy also wrote an essay for his English class this year suggesting Klebold and Harris were rebelling against an oppressive atmosphere, authorities said. [...]

The teen told investigators that he was planning the attack for his senior year and that the intent was not to hurt anyone, but to show police they were not adequately protecting people, authorities said.

But the prosecutor expressed doubts about the student's intentions.

"He had all the makings of the bomb as of last week, so his professed intent not to do it for two years rings a little hollow," Clark said. As for not hurting anyone, "it's a rather incongruous explanation," he said. [...]

The boy's arrest came two days after a shooting in Minnesota in which a 16-year-old boy killed nine people, including seven at the high school, before killing himself.

Comment: Is the increase in school and workplace shootings simply the result of too much television, or could there be another possible explanation?

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Teen pleads guilty to attacking girlfriend for her Kerry support
By Missy Stoddard
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 31 2005

Steven Soper had his life all mapped out.

The 18-year-old from Lake Worth had been accepted into the Army and planned to enlist after graduating this spring from Santaluces High School.

But the plan came apart in late October when he attacked his girlfriend after learning she planned to vote for Sen. John Kerry in the presidential election.

Soper pleaded guilty Wednesday to false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery and resisting arrest without violence. Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga sentenced Soper to 90 days in jail followed by five years of probation and 100 hours of community service. The judge ordered Soper to write a letter of apology to 18-year-old Stacey Silveira, whom he dated for two years, according to Silveira. Soper is also required to complete a batterers' intervention program, undergo psychological and substance abuse evaluations and complete any recommended treatment.

Silveira's neighbor west of Boynton Beach called 911 on Oct. 26 after seeing Soper carrying Silveira as she screamed "no, no, no," Assistant State Attorney Tim Beckwith said. Soper pointed a knife at Silveira and threatened to kill her, he added. A deputy found evidence of a struggle inside the home, including a broken pot.

Soper dragged Silveira, kicking and screaming, into her house before throwing her to the floor and spitting on her, police reports said. Soper reportedly bit Silveira and then placed a knife in her hand and told her to kill him, because a vote for Kerry would mean he would die anyway.

The couple's relationship had been volatile at times, defense attorney Michael Salnick said, but it became violent when Soper learned of his girlfriend's decision to support Kerry. [...]

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Jump-plagued NYU shuts dorm balconies
Celeste Katz
NY Daily News
March 30, 2005

New York University is cutting off balcony access in two high-rise dorms in a bid to prevent student suicides, school officials said yesterday.

At least four NYU students have jumped to their deaths since 2003, though none from dorm balconies.

"You're looking at ways to prevent lethal suicide attempts," said Dr. Christopher Lucas, an NYU associate professor of psychiatry who backs the plan.

Entries to balconies at the Carlyle Court and Coral Towers dorms will be adjusted to open just 4 inches, allowing ventilation but no access.

"I don't know how much good that's going to do," said Patty Johnson, program director of the national suicide awareness group SAVE.

The university already has taken measures to prevent impulse and copycat jumps. After a student on hallucinogenic drugs jumped to his death inside the atrium of the Bobst Library just weeks after a suicide there, NYU blocked access to the library's high balconies with glass panels.

At Coral Towers on Third Ave., students had mixed feelings about the new restrictions. "I think it's okay as a short-term solution, but in the long term, you obviously have to address the root of suicide, which is depression," said April Gu, 20, an economics major.

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Mahathir: US dollar collapsing
The Star Online

B.K. SIDHU, MUGUNTAN VANAR and RUBEN SARIO at the International CEO conference in Kota Kinabalu

THE US dollar is facing an imminent collapse, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned yesterday.

The former prime minister told a conference of some 650 chief executives from 30 countries in Kota Kinabalu that a standard gold currency was the best alternative for international trade.

The dollar was only retaining some value because of fears of a global economic catastrophe if it was rejected as a currency of trade, he said in his keynote address, Leadership in the Age of Uncertainties – The Effect of Global Events in Business.

“But the catastrophe will come one day, because even the most powerful country in the world cannot repay loans amounting to US$7 trillion,” Dr Mahathir said at the closing of the three-day international CEO conference.

“The uncertainty is with the timing, not whether it will collapse.”

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad taking a closer look at handicraft exhibited at the International CEO's Conference 2005.
Noting that the dollar had devalued by as much as 50% against the yen, he said it was doubtful if the greenback could recover to its old strength. Instead, it would continue to slide, as the present American administration under President George W. Bush did not consider deficits worth reducing.

Dr Mahathir said, due to America’s huge deficit, the US currency had no backing, but continued to be in use because some people still accepted payments in dollars.

“But there will come a time when we will switch away from the dollar, and we have suggested the use of gold for international trade,” he said.

He added that if companies did not want to be “short changed”, they should insist on payments in alternative currencies such as the euro, or be paid in US dollars but in euro-equivalent in value.

Dr Mahathir later told reporters that he was giving his personal views after having studied the current depreciation of the dollar.

“Unless they (Americans) change their president and have a more responsible president who will try to reduce the deficit, they will have serious trouble with the US currency,” he said.

On whether Malaysia should reject the use of the greenback for trade, he said it was up to the Government to decide.

“But it has to be seen if the US will be responsible enough, and start to reduce its deficit,” he added.

Dr Mahathir said he believed central banks worldwide were reducing their US dollar reserves, and he suspected that Bank Negara was also switching to other currencies.

He also said that local companies going abroad should form an association open to credible members who can deliver the job.

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Goldman sees oil price 'super spike' to $105 a barrel
Thursday March 31, 05:58 PM

NEW YORK - Oil prices have entered the early stages of trading that could lead to a 'super spike' with the potential to move prices to $105 per barrel, enough to meaningfully reduce energy consumption, according to a Goldman Sachs analysis.

The call, which would mean a possible doubling of oil prices from their current level, sent crude back above $55 per barrel for the first time in a week. The contract for May delivery was last quoted up 2.4 percent at $55.30, having earlier touched a high of $55.55.

'The strength in oil demand and economic growth, especially in the United States and China, following a year of $40-$50 per barrel WTI oil has surprised us... The reason for this adjustment in view is that persistent high prices are improving the financial position of key oil exporting countries and could serve to keep potential revolution at bay,' said analyst Arjun Murti.

Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at, said $105 oil is technically possible but not likely for at least 3 years and only if a major supply disruption, such as a halt to imports from Saudi Arabia, occurred.

'The timing of the report was conducive to the rally,' Flynn said. 'It's just another reason to be long. There's no doubt we're in a new bull market for crude oil.'

John Kilduff, energy risk analyst Fimat USA, agreed that the $105 price assumes a major supply disruption in Saudi Arabia or a Venezuelan embargo on shipments to the U.S.

'I don't know how they get to that number, short of a significant supply disruption event occurring,' he said.

'It's more reflective, to be fair, of the psychology of the energy market right now that there's going to be tremendous demand growth in the late third and the fourth quarter of this year. That's going to put the producers of crude oil in an extremely challenging position in terms of meeting that demand, and that's what is being priced in right now.'

Analyst Kevin Kerr of Kerr Trading International said the Goldman call was irresponsible and 'clearly an attempt to talk up the market on nothing more than hot air. Goldman has huge speculative energy positions and they have no interest in watching it go down right now.'

Goldman's previous 'spike' high for oil was $80 a barrel. The brokerage also raised spot forecasts for WTI spot oil - West Texas Intermediate spot oil, the benchmark crude that trades daily on the New York Mercantile Exchange -- to $50 for 2005 and $55 for 2006. Its previous forecasts were $41 in 2005 and $40 in 2006.

Murti also said earnings consensus for oil and gas companies ought to grow by 21 percent and 35 percent, respectively in 2005 and 2006, as those stocks stand to outperform the broader market.

The return could be 80 percent if prices hit a super spike, he said.
Murti recommends adding to positions in the oil sector 'at current prices, on a pullback, or even after rallies,' and raised 2005 and 2006 earnings estimates across the board.

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Super-rich hide trillions offshore

· Study reveals assets 10 times larger than UK GDP
· Exchequers deprived of hundreds of billions in tax
Nick Mathiason
Sunday March 27, 2005
The Observer

The world's richest individuals have placed $11.5 trillion of assets in offshore havens, mainly as a tax avoidance measure. The shock new figure - 10 times Britain's GDP - is contained in the most authoritative study of the wealth held in offshore accounts ever conducted.

The study, by Tax Justice Network, a group of accountants and economists concerned at the escalating wealth held in offshore locations, shows that the world's high-net-worth individuals earn $860 billion each year from their assets.

But there is growing alarm among regulators and campaigners because exchequers worldwide are missing out on at least $255bn of tax each year. Governments appear unable, or unwilling, to prevent the rich employing aggressive strategies to minimise their tax liabilities.

The OECD this weekend confirmed that international tax avoidance is a growing problem that troubles governments not just of rich countries, but middle-income ones as well.

'This is one of the defining crises of our times,' said John Christensen, co-ordinator of the Tax Justice Network and a former economic adviser to the Jersey government. 'One of the most fundamental changes in our society in recent years is how money and the rich have become more mobile. This has resul ted in the wealthy becoming less inclined to associate with normal society and feeling no obligation to pay taxes.'

James Jones, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, said: 'In this country, we have created a culture of tax avoidance. The current debate is pandering to a culture of consumption and avoidance. We need a much better debate than the political parties are currently giving us.'

Individuals such as Rupert Murdoch, Philip Green, Lakshmi Mittal and Hans Rausing - among the world's richest men - all make extensive use of tax havens.

There is nothing illegal about placing assets and cash offshore, but campaigners are promising to attack tax avoidance by the world's richest people in much the same way that they currently target environment and trade issues.

The $11.5trn does not include the vast amount of money stashed in tax havens by multinational corporations, which are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to run rings round the authorities.

The Tax Justice Network study has drawn from data supplied by the Bank of International Settlements, Merrill Lynch and McKinsey. Richard Murphy of Tax Research, who co-authored the report, said: 'No one has tried to calculate a number like this before. To ensure the credibility of our data, we have only used information already in the public domain and produced by some of the most authoritative sources in the world.

'In addition, we tested our conclusions against three independent sources of information, and all seem to substantially agree, giving us a high degree of confidence in the conclusions.'

'Gordon Brown and the British government are ideally placed to act on offshore tax avoidance, since so many of the banks and tax havens that facilitate these processes have British links,' said Charles Abugre, Christian Aid's head of policy.

'Only last week, the Commission for Africa called for an immediate doubling of aid to Africa to help it meet the Millennium Development Goals. And yet here is a potential source of revenue that even the most responsible governments are doing little to tap into.'

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EU Imposes Duties on U.S. Imports to Protest Byrd Law

March 31 -- The European Union will impose duties on U.S. imports to retaliate against a U.S. law that has handed American companies including Timken Co. and U.S. Steel Corp. more than $1 billion in tariffs collected from foreign rivals.

The U.S. Byrd Amendment, ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization, is designed to compensate industries hurt by foreign goods ``dumped'' in the U.S. at below-market prices. President George W. Bush has said the U.S. plans to abide by the WTO judgment.

EU sanctions in the form of an extra 15 percent duty on goods including paper, textile and machinery will be imposed May 1 after "the continuing failure of the U.S. to bring its legislation into conformity with its international obligations,'' the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, said today in a statement in Brussels.

The move adds to trans-Atlantic trade tensions at a time when the EU and U.S. are battling over aid for aircraft makers Airbus SAS and Boeing Co., the EU is challenging tax breaks for U.S. exporters worth $4 billion a year and the U.S. is fighting European resistance to new gene-engineered crops.

U.S. makers of steel, ball bearings, honey and candles are the main beneficiaries of the Byrd Amendment, in force since 2000. Total payouts to the U.S. companies would rise as high as $1.6 billion in the current fiscal year unless the law is repealed, the EU says.

The Geneva-based World Trade Organization gave the EU, Canada, Brazil, Japan, India, South Korea and Mexico the right to retaliate against the U.S. law Nov. 27. To avoid penalizing European importers, the 25-nation EU is singling out products where the U.S. share of imports into the bloc is 20 percent or less.

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Americans' Incomes Rise Solidly
Mar 31, 12:07 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON - Americans' incomes, bolstered by strong gains in hiring, rose by 0.3 percent in February while consumer spending climbed at an even faster pace of 0.5 percent, the government reported Thursday.

Comment: In other words, the already enormous personal debt level in the US rose again in February.

The Commerce Department said the gain in spending followed a much smaller 0.1 percent increase in January and reflected the fact that auto sales rebounded last month after having fallen in January.

The 0.3 percent rise in incomes was attributed to a surge of 262,000 new jobs in February, the biggest increase in four months. Further solid gains in both incomes and consumer spending are expected in the months ahead as the consumer continues to be a driving force in the economy. [...]

Comment: In other words, the ever-increasing debt spiral is what is expected to keep the US economy going, along with foreign investment primarily from China and Japan...

On Wall Street, a new jump in oil prices outweighed the good economic data. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 29 points at mid-day. [...]

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 20,000 to 350,000 last week.

Comment: Did you notice the direct contradiction between the following two statements?

"Americans' incomes, bolstered by strong gains in hiring, rose by 0.3 percent in February..."

"...the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 20,000 to 350,000 last week."

So, which is it??

It was the highest level for jobless claims in 11 weeks. However, the four-week moving average for claims rose by a more modest 8,500 to 336,000 last week, a level still low enough to signal continued job creation in the economy. [...]

Comment: If this article is the only "good news", the US economy is in big trouble. But don't worry, because the US will soon have a fabulous multi-billion dollar anti-missile defense system that doesn't even really work.

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U.S. to Float Giant Missile-Defense Radar to Alaska
By Jim Wolf, Reuters
Wed Mar 30, 3:37 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The United States is readying an ultra-sophisticated radar system to float slowly around the world to Alaska where it will play a key role in a multibillion-dollar project to shoot down incoming ballistic missiles.

The 2,000-ton Sea-Based X-Band Radar is to be hoisted aboard a platform as large as two football fields this week or next, depending on wind and weather in Corpus Christi, Texas, where it has been under initial sea trials.

The radar is designed to track and distinguish long-range ballistic missiles from decoys that could be used in an attack on the United States.

After being assembled and tested extensively in the Gulf of Mexico, the entire structure will set sail on a five-to seven-month trip around Cape Horn at the tip of Latin America and into the Pacific bound for Alaska's Aleutian islands.

"It will likely leave for its long journey some time between June and August," said Richard Lehner of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, which is developing a multilayered shield against warheads that could carry chemical, germ or nuclear weapons.

The rig, capable of making 7 knots under its own power, should putter in to its primary base at Adak Island, in the Aleutians, by the end of the year, Lehner said. Details of its route and its escorts are not being disclosed publicly for security reasons, he said. [...]

Boeing Co. is the prime contractor for the so-called Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, and Raytheon Co. manufacturers the high-powered X-Band radar, which can use 69,632 multi-sectional circuits to transmit, receive and amplify signals, according to Raytheon.

Once the radar is mounted on the platform, a modified oil drilling rig, the setup will tower 282 feet from its keel to the top of the radar dome and displace nearly 50,000 tons while under way and fully crewed.

The main deck measures about 230 feet by 390 feet, too wide to pass through the Panama Canal, Lehner said.

It will be linked to the system's nerve center in Colorado Springs and to a total of 18 ground-based interceptor missiles due to be deployed by the end of this year at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

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US draws up list of unstable countries
By Guy Dinmore in Washington
March 28 2005

US intelligence services are drawing up a secret watch-list of 25 countries in which instability might lead to US intervention, according to officials in charge of a new office set up to co-ordinate planning for nation-building and conflict prevention.

The list will be composed and revised every six months by the National Intelligence Council, which collates intelligence for strategic planning, according to Carlos Pascual, head of the newly formed office of reconstruction and stabilisation.

The new State Department office amounts to recognition by the Bush administration that it needs to get better at nation-building, a concept it once scorned as social work disguised as foreign policy, following its failures in Iraq.

But advisers say its small budget of $17m requested from Congress this year and $124m in fiscal 2006 reflects a lack of commitment. They say the administration remains divided about the merits of nation-building and the international institutions that do it.

Mr Pascual told a conference last week on reconstructing and stabilising war-torn states that the NIC would identify countries of “greatest instability and risk” to clarify priorities and allocate resources. The watch-list was classified, according to a spokesperson. However, another official gave the example of Nepal, saying it was the subject of a study on fragile states by USAid, the government aid agency. USAid declined to comment.

Although Mr Pascual, a former ambassador, will lead the co-ordination between civilian agencies and the Pentagon, officials stressed the new office did not mean the US was bent on nation-building through military action.

Mr Pascual said conflict prevention and postwar reconstruction had become a “mainstream foreign-policy challenge” because of the dangers of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

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Homeland Security Begins US-VISIT Biometric Exit Pilot
March 31 /PRNewswire/

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that beginning yesterday, foreign visitors departing from
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are required to follow
checkout procedures before departing on their flight. Visitors are asked to provide their two index fingerscans and hold for a photo as part of a pilot program to test and evaluate an automated biometric exit process. US-VISIT procedures apply to all visitors (with limited exemptions) entering the United States.

Most visitors experience US-VISIT's biometric procedures -- a digital, inkless fingerscan and digital photograph -- upon entry to the United States. Now, if they leave from an airport or seaport that has an exit capability like that of Atlanta, they must also check out

The exit pilot program has been operating for a number of months in
Baltimore/Washington International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport a nd the Miami International Cruise Line Terminal.

US-VISIT entry procedures are currently in place at 115 airports, 15
seaports and in the secondary inspection areas of the 50 busiest land ports of entry. By December 31, 2005, US-VISIT entry procedures will be implemented in the secondary inspection areas of all remaining land ports of entry. To date, more than 23 million foreign visitors have been processed through US-VISIT without adversely impacting wait times [...]

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Girl's death inspires tracking bill

Published March 23, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - Outraged by the murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, state lawmakers are rushing to introduce legislation that would require sexual offenders to wear tracking devices.

The devices could be programmed to alert law enforcement agencies if a sex offender went near a school or the home of a child.

"I think it's absolutely essential we have that control over anyone who is a sexual offender," said Rep. Charles Dean, R-Inverness, who plans to introduce legislation today in the House Criminal Justice Committee. "Particularly if the crime involves children."

Senate President Tom Lee and House Speaker Allan Bense have expressed support for the Global Positioning System devices, which are already used in some Florida counties and several other states, including Massachusetts and Georgia.

But Lee stressed that he did not want a "lynch mob mentality" to take hold in the Senate and wanted members to gather facts and "take our time."

Legislators still must determine who would be required to wear the devices, which include ankle bracelets and a machine resembling a large pager.

With some 50,000 sexual offenders and predators in Florida, it was unclear whether the devices would be used for all offenders or only sexual predators, who are judged likely to repeat their crimes.

Also unclear is whether offenders would be required to wear the devices only while on probation, or for an indefinite period.

The push comes just days after John Couey, 46, was charged with capital murder by Citrus County authorities in the death of Jessica Lunsford.

Couey has an extensive criminal record and was designated a sexual offender in 1991 after a conviction for an attempted lewd act on a 5-year-old girl in Kissimmee. Couey was on probation for a different crime when he was arrested in Jessica's murder.

Dean, the former sheriff of Citrus County, said he was outraged Couey was allowed to roam so freely. Couey failed to check in with probation officials in November, but wasn't tracked down until after Jessica was murdered. [...]

Comment: This bill is under consideration to make all Floridian sexual offenders wear a tracking device for life while back in public after release from jail. The tracking device includes a bracelet around the ankle, and a monitor worn on the waist. While we are not about to discuss the rights or wrongs of forcing sexual offenders to be permanently tracked by law officials, the concept carries with it some worrying implications for the future of law enforcement for all Americans.

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No survivors after US military plane crashes in Albania - ministry spokesman
April 1, 2005

TIRANA - All nine US military personnel died when their plane crashed in an isolated snow-covered area of Albania, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

"None of the US military personnel has survived the accident," said spokesman Agim Doci.

All nine bodies were found aboard the wreckage of the C-130 transport plane after the aircraft struck a mountain late Thursday after apparently flying too low in an uninhabited region near the town of Gramsh, 150 kilometers (95 miles) south of the Albanian capital Tirana.

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Quake site faces super volcano
01/04/2005 08:22 - (SA)
Sydney - As Indonesians struggled to recover from the second deadly earthquake to strike them in three months, an Australian expert warned on Friday that the country faced the prospect of a "super volcano" eruption that would dwarf all previous catastrophes.

Professor Ray Cas of Monash University's School of Geosciences said the world's biggest super volcano was Lake Toba, on Indonesia's island of Sumatra, site of both the recent massive earthquakes.

Cas told Australian media on Friday that Toba sits on a faultline running down the middle of Sumatra - just where some seismologists say a third earthquake might strike following the 9.0 magnitude quake on December 26 and Monday's 8.7 temblor.

Those quakes occurred along faultlines running just off Sumatra's west coast and created seismological stresses which could hasten an eruption.

Cas said Toba last erupted 73 000 years ago in an event so massive that it altered the entire world's climate.

"The eruption released 1 000 cubic kilometres of ash and rock debris into the atmosphere, much of it as fine ash which blocked out solar radiation, kicking the world back into an ice age," he said.

'Will definitely erupt'

The scientist said super volcanos represented the greatest potential hazard on earth, "the only greater threat being an asteroid impact from space".

"A super volcano will definitely erupt," he said.

"It could be in a few, 50 or another 1000 years but sooner or later one is going to go off."

Other super volcanos are found in Italy, South America, the United States and New Zealand - where Mount Taupo could be ready for eruption.

"It has a big eruption every 2 000 years, and it last erupted about 2 00 years ago," Cas said.

The potential death toll from a super volcano eruption "could reach the hundreds of thousands to millions and there are serious implications on climate, weather and viability of food production", Cas said.

"The big problem is a lot of the volcanoes that potentially could erupt are perhaps not monitored to the degree that they should be, and of course we learnt that lesson from the Boxing Day tsunami disaster," he said.

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Magnitude 5.0 Earthquake - OFFSHORE CHIAPAS, MEXICO

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Magnitude 5.5 Quake - SIMEULUE, INDONESIA

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4,000 teachers die of AIDS in South Africa last year 2005-04-01 16:10:10

JOHANNESBURG, April 1 (Xinhuanet) -- More than 4, 000 South African teachers died of HIV and AIDS complications last year, while 45,000 more -- 12.7 percent of the teacher workforce -- are HIV-positive, according to a local press report on Friday.

A survey released by the Human Sciences Research Council said that no fewer than 11 South African teachers died of HIV and AIDS complications every day last year.

Of those who died of AIDS, 80 percent were younger than 45 and 33.6 percent between 25 and 34.

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Flu Pandemic Coming, U.S. Not Prepared
Infectious Diseases Society Of America

Immediate action is needed to prepare the United States for a deadly pandemic of influenza, the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) is telling policymakers.

In meetings with congressional and administration leaders, IDSA has explained that the H5N1 "bird flu" spreading in Asia has the potential to develop into a pandemic like the one that claimed more than half a million American lives in 1918. Even if this strain does not emerge as a pandemic, infectious disease experts agree that another flu pandemic is just around the corner. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts even a "mild" pandemic could kill at least 100,000 people if the nation is not prepared. [...]

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