Monday, April 04, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Due to technical difficulties, yesterday's page (April 3rd) was not uploaded until this morning. It can be accessed here: April 3, 2005 Signs of the Times.

DU Death Toll Tops 11,000

Nationwide Media Blackout Keeps U.S. Public Ignorant About This Important Story
By James P. Tucker Jr.
American Free Press
March 26, 2005

The death toll from the highly toxic weapons component known as depleted uranium (DU) has reached 11,000 soldiers and the growing scandal may be the reason behind Anthony Principi's departure as secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department.

This view was expressed by Arthur Bernklau, executive director of Veterans for Constitutional Law in New York, writing in Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter.

"The real reason for Mr. Principi's departure was really never given," Bernklau said. "However, a special report published by eminent scientist Leuren Moret naming depleted uranium as the definitive cause of 'Gulf War Syndrome' has fed a growing scandal about the continued use of uranium munitions by the U.S. military."

The "malady [from DU] that thousands of our military have suffered and died from has finally been identified as the cause of this sickness, eliminating the guessing... The terrible truth is now being revealed," Bernklau said.

Of the 580,400 soldiers who served in Gulf War I, 11,000 are now dead, he said. By the year 2000, there were 325,000 on permanent medical disability. More than a decade later, more than half (56 percent) who served in Gulf War I have permanent medical problems. The disability rate for veterans of the world wars of the last century was 5 percent, rising to 10 percent in Vietnam.

"The VA secretary was aware of this fact as far back as 2000," Bernklau said. "He and the Bush administration have been hiding these facts, but now, thanks to Moret's report, it is far too big to hide or to cover up."

Terry Johnson, public affairs specialist at the VA, recently reported that veterans of both Persian Gulf wars now on disability total 518,739, Bernklau said.

"The long-term effect of DU is a virtual death sentence," Bernklau said. "Marion Fulk, a nuclear chemist, who retired from the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, and was also involved in the Manhattan Project, interprets the new and rapid malignancies in the soldiers [from the second war] as 'spectacular' - and a matter of concern.' "

While this important story appeared in a Washington newspaper and the wire services, it did not receive national exposure - a compelling sign that the American public is being kept in the dark about the terrible effects of this toxic weapon.

Comment: What about the Iraqis whose cities and homes have been coated in DU dust, resulting in much higher cancer and birth defect rates? The horrible DU deception doesn't affect just Americans - it also affects all those against whom the US has applied its "smart" weapons.

It is not surprising that this story did not receive nation-wide attention in the US and many other countries. With the Neocons taking full advantage of the controlled mainstream media, pushing through draconian laws, and equating dissent with a lack of patriotism, the lack of awareness of the average American regarding topics such as DU armaments can hardly be seen as shocking.

There is a certain risk associated with declaring, "We were fooled! They kept us in the dark!" The question then becomes: Who is "they"? In the case of Iraq's WMDs, "they" has become the CIA. This agency is the same one that was pressured by the Bush administration to give intelligence "friendly" to the Neocon crusade. The problem obviously lies with the Bush administration itself, and not the intelligence agencies - at least not to the extent that we have been told. When the public realizes that it has been fooled, emotions heat up and a scapegoat must be found. How easy it was for Bush and the gang to twist the truth yet again and provide the CIA as a scapegoat, accompanied by the same lack of evidence that characterized the claims of Saddam's WMD stockpiles... Same song, different verse.

The American public is indeed being kept in the dark about a great many subjects. The problem, however, does not rest solely with those in power. While the Bush gang may make every effort to keep the average citizen in the dark, those same individuals allow themselves to be kept in the shadows. The simple fact of the matter is that the data required to see what is really going on in the world is readily available - most people just don't want to see it. Frankly, we don't blame them, because it ain't pretty.

We allow ourselves to be hoodwinked until we learn how to see when we are being fooled. The simplicity of this solution is quite obvious, yet quite overlooked since we all convince ourselves that when a liar lies again to escape an earlier deception, he must be telling the truth. We assume automatically that others are like us, remaining ignorant of the number of psychopaths in power, or even how a psychopath differs from "ordinary" folks. We would also never even think to consider that maybe being a psychopath is pretty standard in this world.

While the reasons behind our automatic assumptions about this world and its inhabitants may involve a complex mix of cultural, social, and other types of programming, the solution can be summarized in two words: "Knowledge protects". Think about it. What if the majority of Americans had been aware of all the information presented on sites such as Signs of the Times? They would have been aware of DU for a few years now. The name "Ariel Sharon" would mean a lot more than just "America's friend who is battling those evil Palestinian terrorists".

The important factor is not necessarily where one gathers information, but how it is analyzed and utilized. Gathering data from multiple sources, comparing it, analyzing it against known facts, and coming to some hypothesis which can then be tested against more data on an ongoing basis - this method is perhaps the only way to find the truth of any matter. The key ingredient in the process is the continual work to eliminate any bias for or against any of the subject matter. While the entire process is not easy, it can be done. The alternative is for us all to go back to sleep and let chaos and control rule our lives as we dream of something better that will never be.

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Cut off from our own souls

Corporate devolution and the end of humanity
By John Kaminski

"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities also has the power to make you commit atrocities."
- Voltaire (1694-1778)

Everyone who knows me knows I won't be preaching any kind of old time religion anytime soon. And yet, the problem that we seem to have lost our souls seems to be the main problem in the world right now.

I have lately been fond of saying religion doesn't help anyone see God, doesn't help anyone connect with the divine or sacred aspects of things, which is just another way of saying that religion ultimately blocks us from appreciating the finer things in life, things that usually can make us happy. The most important is an objective respect for all life.

Religion actually prevents all that. It's a terraforming of the mind that permits only acceptable rituals, etched-in-stone prescriptions for all life's situations. As a consequence, we condemn things that make other people happy. Two random examples that come to mind are love between homosexuals and appreciating people whose skin color is different from our own. I don't want to veer off into either of those subjects, but I just want to ask what right does any of us have to make judgments on things that are really none of our business.

Aren't kindness and compassion the ultimate currency? When the time comes to die you will think they are - count on it.

Religion creates an archetypal behavioral template for the distribution of misinformation. If people accept religion, they're more likely to embrace authoritarianism, which is why the neocons embrace the evangelicals. Religions belong to the Dark Ages. Ultimately, religious people cannot perceive reality, because they're fogged in by a false template of default auto-suggestions. Also, religion provides them with a license to be irresponsible and duplicitous, because they think they will be "forgiven."

As one philosopher whose name I've now forgotten once suggested, religion doesn't teach you how to be good, it only teaches you how to pretend to be good.

Several items that have crossed my cyberdesk in the last day all stick in my mind as some kind of vortex by which to understand what is happening to us all at this time.

They involve the brainwashing aspects of religions and, judging by the behavior of American soldiers in Iraq, also the loss of our souls. But mostly they show why you can't rely on religion to find your soul.

The first, from Russia, was forwarded by a respected pagan philosopher and titled "The secret of Jewish circumcision and the meaning of the Jewish skull cap." For purposes of the point I am trying to make, I will cull some of its thoughts:

It should be pointed out here that the Jews are not the only bio-robots among us. Majority of people do not demonstrate individual thinking or behavior and can be easily programmed. Their heads can easily be filled with stereotypes, which those in power select for the crowd programming and control. And most people are not even aware that they are being programmed and turned into the bio-robots.

Control of information can be effected by limiting available information, by selectively withholding information, falsifying, feeding selective information that presents distorted view of the world and so on.

If a person is open to such manipulations of the information field around him, he would ... think that his decisions and actions are made independently. And yet he is a bio-robot ... being programmed by someone else.

Why the Jewish baby boys are circumcised on the eighth day?

The secret to this lies in the occult knowledge. Levites possess that knowledge. And incidentally, they do not perform circumcision on their own babies, they do that only to their "livestock" - the Jews.

During the first eight days only three lower Chakras are developed. All the higher Chakras remain undeveloped in the body of a circumcised Jew. In other words - a circumcised Jew is only half a person - with mutilated soul and brain.

Jewish circumcision ritual produces real bio-robots that cannot tell the difference between good and evil, and who cannot be reprogrammed.

We have all seen that religious Jews wear a skull cap. The meaning of it is very profound - that skull cap covers the highest, seventh human chakra - Sahasrara, which is located at the top of the head. The Jews close it, thus cutting themselves off the Cosmos. Note that the Catholic Pope and the highest catholic priests also carry skull caps. If you try to talk with a circumcised Jew about philosophy, you would encounter such fanaticism, that it would be senseless to continue the conversation. That's what it means to be dealing with a bio-robot!

Chakra of the third eye is not developed among contemporary Europeans, in this respect the Jews are no different from the others. But in ancient times this Chakra was well developed among a much greater percentage of people.

One of the most important human chakras is Anahata (heart). Practically all normal people feel it. Probably every language has an expression, "I can feel it with my heart." And it is true that people can feel many things with their heart. It can feel trouble, suffer, feel pains of conscience, shame, to feel fear, to love, to hate, to feel compassion, pity, to be able to commiserate, to feel good and evil . A person without a developed heart Chakra is rude, compassionless, "heartless." All circumcised Jews are like that.

If you try to tell the circumcised Jew about these feelings, he would not understand you. He would think that you are either a fool or an actor. It is probably similar to trying to describe colors to a color-blind person. It should be noted that Jesus from Nazareth, who called himself Christ, was also a Jew, who was circumcised on eighth day. (Luke 2:21)

Yes, I know, that's a load to contemplate. Do your best. Your future depends on it. And there's more.

My friend Professor Minja, the distinguished Serbian thinker, furnished me a short essay which I spent all day reading and rereading, and even after I had pored over it, I could not underestimate its impact or its importance. It was the foreword to a new book, for which I do not have the publishing information, but is titled "A New World is Possible," by Dunja and Ljubodrag Simonovic.

The most dramatic truth is: capitalism can survive death of the man as a human and biological being. For capitalism a "traditional man" is merely a temporary means of its own reproduction. "Consumer-man" represents a transitional phase in the capitalism-caused process of mutation of man towards the "highest" form of capitalistic man: a robot-man. "Terminators" and other robotized freaks which are products of the Hollywood entertainment industry which creates a "vision of future" degenerated in a capitalist manner, incarnate creative powers, alienated from the man, which become vehicles for destruction of man and life. A new "super race" of robotized humanoids is being created, which should clash with "traditional mankind", meaning with people capable of loving, thinking, daydreaming, fighting for freedom and survival – and impose their rule over the Earth. Instead of the new world the "new man" is being created – who has been reduced to the level of humanity which cannot jeopardize the ruling order.

Exactly so. This is precisely what's happening in our world today.

The Simonovics explain: "The final stage of a combat between mankind and capitalism is in progress." Our "technical civilization" is creating a "dehumanized and denaturalized man," a description that reminded me of the warning issued by the great and largely inscrutable French Situationist philosopher Guy Debord ("The Society of the Spectacle') more than 40 years ago, when he ranted about "society's real unreality" sliding humanity into a "generalized autism."

The Simonovics further explain: "Capitalism has eradicated the man from his (natural) environment and has cut off the roots trough which he had drawn life-creating force. Cities are 'gardens' of capitalism where degenerated creatures 'grow'. Dog excrement, gasoline and sewerage stench, glaring advertisements and police car rotating lights that howl through the night – this is the environment of the 'free world' man. By destroying the natural environment capitalism creates increasingly extreme climatic conditions in which the man is struggling harder and harder to survive – and creates artificial living conditions accessible solely to the richest layer of population, which cause definitive degeneration of man as a natural being. 'Humanization of life' is being limited to creation of micro-climatic conditions, of special capitalistic incubators – completely commercialized artificial living conditions to which degenerated people are appropriate."

If that doesn't describe our post 9/11 condition I don't know what does. We live in a society that deliberately misses the point of just about everything. We argue about sports and brands of religion while our government kills hundreds of innocent people every day, and when people like me try to point that out to you, many of you get very upset and run and hide. How difficult is it for you to admit we have been robotized?

A few more mindbusters from the Siminovics (for whom I will get the publishing information, because this is one book I plan to read):

Capitalism systematically destroys the man's ability and need to raise essential questions about his own (social) existence, as well as his potentials to provide answers to them. Almost the entire media space is controlled by those who destroy life and marginalize the essential while attributing crucial dimension to the marginal. "Sensational affairs", "historical matches", media "star" shows, "spectacular" Hollywood films and TV soap operas – become the vehicle for averting of people's attention from the issue which determines survival of mankind or its idiotization. Blocking of conscience and giving vent to the man's repressed being, his growing discontent, fear, anxiety – and insemination of man by the ruling spirit of capitalism wherefrom the "positive man" should be born – this is the essence of the "spectacle". Therefore the growing importance of sport.

The story of the "American dream" is over. Assassinations of Martin Luther King, of John Lennon and other numerous people who fought for the human world – have clearly demonstrated that the notion of "a better society" represented the greatest threat to the ruling capitalist groups for it provided a possibility for development of a political platform that could direct the growing discontent of the oppressed toward creation of a new (righteous) world. The major goal of the capitalist propaganda machinery is to kill the people's hope that the future is possible and that fighting for it does make sense.

Ideologists of capitalism represent things as if nothing serious was going on – as if the world were not brought to the very edge of total ruin.

It is not any more the fear of the man that has to face his own unavoidable natural death, but the anxiety of the man who has to confront the increasingly realistic possibility of destruction of life on Earth, and consequently of mankind itself.

Capitalism has not only deprived the man of his spiritual homeland (Heimatlosichkeit) but also of his vital environment through annihilation of nature and of man as biological being; it does not only deprive the man of his human essence, but questions his survival.

So .... with those two heavy stories percolating in my brain, the third element of today's picture of the world came crashing down on me in yet a third e-mail. It was Paul Rockwell's story about what Army reservist Aiden Delgado saw during his stint at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and provides as clear as picture of what America has become - and what all Americans are responsible for - as anything I have read.

What Rockwell quoted the soldier as saying about "the breakdown of moral order within the U.S. military, a pattern of violence and terror that exceeds the bounds of what is legally and morally permissible in time of war," is actually something quite worse - it is the breakdown of civilization enthusiastically triggered by the leaders of the American armed forces. Rockwell quoting Delgado:

The worst incident that I was privy to was in late November. The prisoners were protesting nightly because of their living conditions. They protested the cold, the lack of clothing, the rotting food that was causing dysentery. And they wanted cigarettes. They tore up pieces of clothing, made banners and signs. One demonstration became intense and got unruly. The prisoners picked up stones, pieces of wood, and threw them at the guards. One of my buddies got hit in the face. He got a bloody nose. But he wasn't hurt. The guards asked permission to use lethal force. They got it. They opened fire on the prisoners with the machine guns. They shot twelve and killed three. I know because I talked to the guy who did the killing. He showed me these grisly photographs, and he bragged about the results. "Oh," he said, "I shot this guy in the face. See, his head is split open." He talked like the Terminator. "I shot this guy in the groin, he took three days to bleed to death." I was shocked. This was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. He was a family man, a really courteous guy, a devout Christian. I was stunned and said to him: "You shot an unarmed man behind barbed wire for throwing a stone." He said, "Well, I knelt down. I said a prayer, stood up and gunned them all down." There was a complete disconnect between what he had done and his own morality.

Originally writing in Motion Magazine, Rockwell asked Delgado: "The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr tell us that, with the sanction of the state, driven by nationalism, moral, decent individuals become killers and torturers in groups. You attribute the break of restraint to racism. When did the process of dehumanization of Arabs begin?"

Delgado recounted the words of his own commander.

"Now don't go tell the media that you're going over there to kill some ragheads and burn some turbans." Everybody laughed, and he laughed with them. I remember standing there in formation, having grown up in Egypt. And I was thinking: "Oh, my God, this is going to be a disaster. Our commander has this anti-Arab attitude even before we go over." The commander would give lectures about Islam. He said that Muslims advocate a holy war against us, that Islam promotes perpetual war. I've been surrounded by Muslims for a decade, exposed to their culture. He is wrong.

So now we see the complete prostitution of human society manifesting its evil face as basic American policy. And as well, as the unquestioning attitude of most Americans.

You see now unadorned the complete and ugly truth. You may not turn to your religion for help because your religion has blocked your own compassion, and perhaps by circumcision (or perhaps one of many other things) has blocked your ability to see with your heart and discern what is truly right from what is truly wrong.

Your allegiance to trivial capitalist folly has atrophied your ability to perceive what are the truly important things as you pile up those electronic trinkets to keep yourself from admitting the love you do not have.

You have been turned into a mind-controlled robot by the two things you have relied upon most for guidance - your God and your country.

So what will you do on that one day soon when the gun barrel is pointed at you? Your prayers and patriotism will be meaningless, because they have been the very causes of your misery.

Will you wake up then, when it is too late? Or will you wake up now, when it is not?

Comment: Kaminski has hit on a topic of the utmost importance. Few people are willing to consider the idea that half of humanity may be nothing more than robots. Fewer still are willing to consider that they, themselves, are nothing more than robots until they learn how not to be. No one wants to think that we may have to work to "grow a soul", so to speak. In considering the idea that there may in fact be two different races of humans, it is important to note that there are most likely no clear racial or religious divisions. The trauma of circumcision and religious programming are by no means limited to Jews, for example. On the other hand, is it possible that some ethnic or religious groups have been more targeted by the powers that be? Based on past wars and genocide - which includes the persecution of those considered "too open-minded" - the answer is very likely "yes". In fact, in an America where the official culture seems to be one of psychopathy, where game theory dictates that those who act the most selfishly rise to the top, how can the reality not involve the type of degeneration Kaminski addresses?

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66 Former Officials Line Up Behind Bolton
By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
Sun Apr 3, 5:12 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, ex-CIA Director James Woolsey and 64 other retired arms control specialists and diplomats are lined up in support of John R. Bolton, whose nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has stirred controversy.

In a letter being delivered Monday to Sen. Richard G. Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, other committee members and congressional leaders, they said the attack on Bolton is really an attack on President Bush's policies.

Last week, 62 critics of Bolton signed a letter calling for his rejection by the Senate, especially because of his opposition to the United States signing a number of arms control treaties.

Bolton supporters said his stance "reflects a clear-eyed necessity of the real limits" of accords with other nations that demand one sided terms from the United States. They included Max Kampelman and Edward Rowny, arms control negotiators in the Reagan administration. [...]

Comment: In other words, we are meant to believe that Bolton is a good choice for US ambassador to the UN because he favors one-sided agreements and lots of big guns, two things which are the antithesis of what the UN is supposed to be all about.

The counterattack, organized by Frank Gaffney, a Pentagon official in the Reagan administration said Bolton "has distinguished himself throughout a long and multifaceted career."

It suggested critics of Bolton positions on various arms control treaties are "misdirected" because his views "are identical" to those of Bush and that "their differences seem to be with a man twice elected by the American people to design and execute security policies, rather than with one of his most effective and articulate officials in advancing those policies."

Comment: Talk about missing the point! If someone who shares Bush's pro-US and fascist views is appointed as ambassador to the UN, the US will never consider the international community regarding any actions taken against "terrorists and those countries that harbor them". It is clear that the US continues to pose an ever-increasing threat to the rest of the planet. Meanwhile, the rest of the planet doesn't even seem to notice - yet.

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If You Build It, They Will Kill
By Nicholas Turse
April 4, 2005

However bad the times may be for American tanks or troops, it's springtime for ever-conglomerating American munitions makers.

Lets face it, making war is fast superceding sports as the American national pastime. Since 1980, overtly or covertly, the United States has been involved in military actions in Grenada, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Haiti, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Liberia, Sudan, the Philippines, Colombia, Haiti (again), Afghanistan (again) and Iraq (again) and that's not even the full list. It stands to reason when the voracious appetites of the military-corporate complex are in constant need of feeding.

As representatives of a superpower devoted to (and enamored with) war, it's hardly surprising that the Pentagon and allied corporations are forever planning more effective ways to kill, maim, and inflict pain -- or that they plan to keep it that way. Whatever the wars of the present, elaborate weapons systems for future wars are already on the drawing boards. Planning for the projected fighter-bombers and laser weapons of the decades from 2030 to 2050 is underway. Meanwhile, at the Department of Defense's (DoD's) blue-skies research outfit, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), even wilder projects -- from futuristic exoskeletons to Brain/Machine Interface initiatives -- are being explored.

Such projects, as flashy as they are frightening, are magnets for reporters (and writers like yours truly), but it's important not to lose sight of the many more mundane weapons currently being produced that will be pressed into service in the nearer term in Iraq, Afghanistan, or some other locale the U.S. decides to add to the list of nations where it will turn people into casualties or "collateral damage" in the next few years. These projects aren't as sexy as building future robotic warriors, but they're at least as dangerous and deadly, so lets take a quick look at a few of the weapons our tax dollars are supporting today, before they hurt, maim, and kill tomorrow.

Set Phasers on Extreme Pain

Recently, the Air Force Research Laboratory called for "research in support of the Directed Energy Bioeffects Division of the Human Effectiveness Directorate." The researchers were to "conduct innovative research on the effects of directed energy technologies" on people and animals. What types of innovative research? One area involved identifying "biological tissue thresholds (minimum visible lesion) and damage mechanisms from laser and non-laser sources." In other words, how excruciating can you make it without leaving telltale thermal burns? And a prime area of study? "Pain thresholds." Further, there was a call for work to: "Determine the effects of electromagnetic and biomechanical insults on the human-body." Sounds like something out of Star Trek, right? Weaponry of the distant future? Think again.

In a Tomdispatch piece last spring, I mentioned a "painful energy beam" weapon, the Active Denial System, that was about to be field-tested by the military. Recent reports indicate that military Humvees will be outfitted with exactly this weapon by the end of the year.

I'm sad to report that the Active Denial System isn't the only futuristic weapon set to be deployed in the near-term. Pulsed Energy Projectiles (PEPs) are also barreling down the weaponry-testing turnpike. They are part of a whole new generation of weapons systems that the Pentagon promotes under the label "non-lethal." The term conveniently obscures the fact that such weapons are meant to cause intense physical agony without any of the normal physical signs of trauma. (This, by the way, should make them -- or their miniaturized descendents -- excellent devices for clandestine torture).

PEPs utilize bursts of electrically-charged gas (plasma) that yield an electromagnetic pulse on impact with a solid object. Such pulses affect nerve cells in humans (and animals) causing searing pain. PEPs are designed to inflict "excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometers away" No one knows the long-term physical or psychological effects of this weapon, which is set to roll-out in 2007 and is designed specifically to be employed against unruly civilians. But let's remember, the Pentagon isn't the Food and Drug Administration. No need to test for future effects when it comes to weapons aimed at someone else.

20th Century Weaponry for 21st Century Killing

Just recently the Department of Defense's Defense Contracting Command-Washington put out a call for various technologies capable of "near-immediate transition to operations/production at the completion of evaluation." In other words, make it snappy.

In addition to a plethora of high-tech devices, from laser-sights for weapons to battlefield computers, the U.S. Special Operations Forces had a special request: 40mm rifle-launched flechette grenades. For the uninitiated, flechettes are razor-sharp deadly darts with fins at their blunt ends. During the Vietnam War, flechette weaponry was praised for its ability to shred people alive and virtually nail them to trees. The question is, where will those Special Ops forces use the grenades and which people will be torn to bits by a new generation of American flechettes. Only time will tell, but one thing is certain -- it will happen.

The Special Ops troops aren't the only ones with special requests. The Army has also put out a call to arms. While Army officials recently hailed the M240B 7.62mm Medium Machine Gun as providing "significantly improved reliability and more lethal medium support fire to ground units," they just issued a contract to FN Manufacturing Inc. produce a lighter-weight, hybrid titanium/steel variant of the weapon (known as the M240E6). And these are just a few of the new and improved weapons systems being readied to be rushed onto near-future American battlefields.

Shell Shock

Obviously, the military is purchasing guns and other weapons for a reason: to injure, maim, and kill. But the extent of the killing being planned for can only be grasped if one examines the amounts of ammunition being purchased. Let's look at recent DoD contracts awarded to just one firm -- Alliant Lake City Small Caliber Ammunition Company, L.L.C., a subsidiary of weapons-industry giant Alliant Techsystems (ATK):

Awarded Nov. 24, 2004: "a delivery order amount of $231,663,020 as part of a $303,040,883 firm-fixed-price contract for various Cal .22, Cal .30, 5.56mm, and 7.62mm small caliber ammunition cartridges." Work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2006.

Awarded Feb. 7, 2005: "a delivery order amount of $20,689,101 as part of a $363,844,808 firm-fixed-price contract for various 5.56mm and 7.62mm Small Caliber Ammunition Cartridges." Work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2006.

Awarded March 4, 2005: "a delivery order amount of $8,236,906 as part of a $372,586,618 firm-fixed-price contract for 5.56mm, 7.62mm, and .50 caliber ammunition cartridges." Work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2006.

You and I can buy 400 rounds of 7.62mm rifle ammunition for less than $40. Imagine, then, what federal purchasing power and hundreds of millions of dollars can buy!

Alliant Ammunition and Powder Co. is also making certain that, as the years go by, ammo-capacity won't be lacking. In February 2005, Alliant was awarded "a delivery order amount of $19,400,000 as part of a $69,733,068 firm-fixed-price contract for Services to Modernize Equipment at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant" -- a government-owned facility operated by ATK. Alliant notes that this year it is churning out 1.2 billion rounds of small-caliber ammunition at its Lake City plant alone. But that, it seems, isn't enough when future war planning is taken into account. As it happens, ATK and the Army are aiming to increase the plant's "annual capacity to support the anticipated Department of Defense demand of between 1.5 billion and 1.8 billion rounds by 2006." Think about it. In this year, alone, one single ATK plant will produce enough ammunition, at one bullet each, to execute every man, woman, and child in the world's most populous nation -- and next year they're upping the ante.

The Military-Corporate Complex's Merchants of Death

Once upon a time, a company like ATK would have been classified as one of the world's "Merchants of Death." Then again, once upon a time -- we're talking about the 1930s here -- the Senate was a place where America's representatives were willing to launch probing inquiries into the ways in which arms manufacturers and their huge profits as well as their influences on international conflicts were linked to the dead of various lands. Back then, simple partisanship was set aside as the Senate's Democratic majority appointed North Dakota's Republican Sen. Gerald P. Nye to head the "Senate Munitions Committee."

While today's fawning House members can barely get aging baseball heroes to talk to them, the 1930s inquiry hauled some of the most powerful men in the world like J.P. Morgan, Jr. and Pierre du Pont before the committee. Even back in the 1930s, however, the nascent military-industrial complex was just too powerful and so the Senate Munitions Committee was eventually thwarted in its investigations. As a result, the committee's goal of nationalizing the American arms industry went down in flames.

Today, the very idea of such a committee even attempting such an investigation is simply beyond the pale. The planning for futuristic war of various horrific sorts, not to speak of the production and purchase of weapons and ammunition by the military-corporate complex, is now beyond reproach, accepted without question as necessary for national (now homeland) security -- a concept which long ago trumped the notion of national defense.

The Future Is Now

While the military-academic complex and DARPA scientists are hard at work creating the sort of killing machines that a generation back were the stuff of unbelievable sci-fi novels, old-fashioned firearms and even new energy weapons are being readied for use by the American imperial army tomorrow or just a few short years in the future. In February 2005, Day & Zimmerman Inc., a mega-company with its corporate fingers dipped in everything from nuclear security and munitions production to cryogenics and travel services, inked a deal to deliver 445,288 M67 fragmentation hand grenades (which produce casualties within an effective range of 15 meters) to the Army in 2006. In which country will a civilian will lose an eye, a leg, or a life as a result? Weapons made to kill are made to be used. This year ATK's Lake City Army Ammunition Plant will produce 1.2 billion rounds of ammunition at the DoD's behest and the company proudly proclaims, "Approximately 75 percent of the ammunition produced annually is consumed."

With all those exotic pain rays, flechettes, super-efficient machine guns, and rounds and rounds of ammunition readied for action -- and they represent only a small part of the spectrum of weaponry and munitions being produced for war, American-style -- more people are sure to die, while others assumedly will experience "intense pain" from PEPs weapons and the like. Back in October of last year, a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, knocking on thousands of doors throughout Iraq, demonstrated that an estimated 100,000 civilians had already died violently as the direct or indirect consequence of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The main cause of these deaths: attacks by coalition (read as "U.S.") forces. The future promises more of the same.

No one should be surprised by these figures -- though many were (and many also continue to deny the validity of these numbers). It's obvious that, if you build them; they will kill. And you thought that we were supposed to "err on the side of life"?

Nick Turse is a doctoral candidate at the Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He writes for the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice and regularly for Tomdispatch on the military-corporate complex and the homeland security state.

Comment: What no one seems to want to consider is that much of the "civilian control" hardware and urban combat training given US troops could very well be used on Americans themselves. Right now, the war is "over there", but if nothing changes in the march towards fascism in the USA, the war will come home in a very personal way. Bush, the Neocons, and the Zionists running the US did not pass draconian laws just for fun - they intend to use them all at some point.

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The US forces, like the Crusaders before them, are prisoners in their own fortresses
Robert Fisk – The Independent April 2, 2005

I drove Pat and Alice Carey up the coast of Lebanon this week to look at some castles. Pat is a builder from County Wicklow, brave enough to take a holiday with his wife in Beirut when all others are thinking of running away. But I wanted to know what he thought of 12th-century construction work.

How did he rate a crusader keep? The most beautiful of Lebanon's castles is the smallest; a dinky-toy palisade on an outcrop of rock near the village of Batroun. You have to climb a set of well-polished steps – no handrails, for this is Lebanon – up the sheer side of Mseilha castle and then clamber over doorsills into the dark, damp interior.

So we padded around the battlements for half an hour. "Strongly made or they wouldn't still be here," Pat remarked. "But you wouldn't find any company ready to put up the insurance. And in winter, it must have been very, very cold."

And after some minutes, he looked at me with some intensity. "It's like being in a prison," he said.

And he was right. The only view of the outside world was through the archers' loopholes in the walls. Inside was darkness. The world outside was cut off by the castle defences. I could just see the splashing river to the south of the castle and, on the distant horizon, a mountainside. That was all the defenders – Crusaders or Mamlukes – would have seen. It was the only contact they had with the land they were occupying.

Up at Tripoli is Lebanon's biggest keep, the massive Castle of St Gilles that still towers ominously over the port city with its delicate minarets and mass of concrete hovels. Two shell holes – remnants of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war – have been smashed into the walls, but the interior of the castle is a world of its own; a world, that is, of stables and eating halls and dungeons. It was empty – the tourists have almost all fled Lebanon – and we felt the oppressive isolation of this terrible place.

Pat knew his Crusader castles. "When you besieged them, the only way to get inside was by pushing timber under the foundations and setting fire to the wood. When they turned to ash, the walls came tumbling down. The defenders didn't throw boiling water from the ramparts. They threw sand on to the attackers. The sand would get inside their armour and start to burn them until they were in too much pain to fight. But it's the same thing here in Tripoli as in the little castle. You can hardly see the city through the arrow slits. It's another – bigger – prison."

And so I sat on the cold stone floor and stared through a loophole and, sure enough, I could see only a single minaret and a few square metres of roadway. I was in darkness. Just as the Crusaders who built this fortress must have been in darkness.

Indeed, Raymond de Saint-Gilles spent years besieging the city, looking down in anger from his great fortress, built on the "Pilgrim's Mountain", at the stout burghers of Tripoli who were constantly re-supplied by boat from Egypt. Raymond himself died in the castle, facing the city he dreamed of capturing but could not live to enter.

And of course, far to the east, in the ancient land of Mesopotamia, there stand today equally stout if less aesthetic barricades around another great occupying army. The castles of the Americans are made of pre-stressed concrete and steel but they serve the same purpose and doom those who built them to live in prisons.

From the "Green Zone" in the centre of Baghdad, the authorities and their Iraqi satellites can see little of the city and country they claim to govern. Sleeping around the gloomy republican palace of Saddam Hussein, they can stare over the parapets or peek through the machine-gun embrasures on the perimeter wall – but that is as much as most will ever see of Iraq.

The Tigris is almost as invisible as that stream sloshing past the castle of Mseilha. The British embassy inside the "Green Zone" flies its diplomats into Baghdad airport, airlifts them by helicopter into the fortress – and there they sit until recalled to London.

Indeed, the Crusaders in Lebanon – men with thunderous names like Tancred and Bohemond and Baldwin – used a system of control remarkably similar to the US Marines and the 82nd Airborne. They positioned their castles at a day's ride – or a day's sailing down the coast in the case of Lebanon – from each other, venturing forth only to travel between their keeps.

And then out of the east, from Syria and also from the Caliphate of Baghdad and from Persia came the "hashashin", the "Assassins" – the Crusaders brought the word back to Europe – who turned the Shia faith into an extremist doctrine, regarding assassination of the enemy as a religious duty.

Anyone who doubts the relevance of these "foreign fighters" to the present-day Iraq should read the history of ancient Tripoli by that redoubtable Lebanese-Armenian historian Nina Jidejian, which covers the period of the Assassins and was published at the height of the Lebanese civil war.

"It was believed that the terrorists partook of hashish to induce ecstatic visions of paradise before setting out to perform their sacred duty and to face martyrdom…" she writes. "The arrival of the Crusaders had added to … latent discontent and created a favourable terrain for their activities." Ouch.

One of the Assassins' first victims was the Count of Montferrat, leader of the Third Crusade who had besieged Acre in 1191 – "Saint Jean d'Acre" to the Christians – and who met his death at the hands of men sent by the Persian "terrorist" leader, Hassan-i Sabbah. The Assassins treated Saladin's Muslim army with equal scorn – they made two attempts to murder him – and within 100 years had set up their own castles around Tripoli. They established a "mother fortress" from which – and here I quote a 13th century Arab geographer – "the Assassins chosen are sent out thence to all countries and lands to slay kings and great men."

And so it is not so hard, in the dank hallways of the Castle of St Gilles to see the folly of America's occupation of Iraq. Cut off from the people they rule, squeezed into their fortresses, under constant attack from "foreign fighters", the Crusaders dreams were destroyed.

Sitting behind the loophole in the castle at Tripoli, I could even see new meaning in Osama bin Laden's constant references to the Americans as "the Crusader armies". The Crusades, too, were founded on a neo-conservative theology. The knights were going to protect the Christians of the Holy Land; they were going to "liberate" Jerusalem – "Mission Accomplished" – and ended up taking the spoils of the Levant, creating petty kingdoms which they claimed to control, living fearfully behind their stone defences. Their Arab opponents of the time did indeed possess a weapon of mass destruction for the Crusaders. It was called Islam.

"You can see why the Crusaders couldn't last here," Pat said as we walked out of the huge gateway of the Castle of St Gilles. "I wonder if they ever knew who they were fighting."

I just resisted asking him if he'd come along on my next trip to Baghdad, so I could hear part two of the builder's wisdom.

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Michael Rivero

You should be! You've been lied to. Your tax money has been taken from you and spent under false pretenses. Your children have been sent off to kill and be killed in an illegal war launched with lies. You who fought in the war and think you came back home healthy, well, you've been lied to as well. Your health is all downhill from here (ask any Vet from Desert Storm), and your children will have a higher incidence of birth defects because that depleted uranium isn't as harmless as you were told it was. And those VA medical benefits you were promised? That was a lie too. Are you angry yet?

And those of you who sold your better judgment for a free hot-dog and a flag at a Clear Channel sponsored pro-Bush rally, well, you were lied to as well, and worse, made to look totally stupid before the rest of the world. The media which walked right past peace demonstrations to video tape the Clear Channel party plastered your face across the TV sets of the planet, waving your flag and shouting "Sig WMD! Sig WMD" and singing "Dubya Dubya Uber Alles" or something to that effect. And here you stand now, with egg on your collective faces, finally facing up to what your more intelligent neighbors knew all along; There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush made a total fool of you. The whole world is laughing at you. Those lacking the courage to admit they were wrong will no doubt descend into the ranks of fanatical "true believers", ready to drink the Kool-Aid for his highnessness der Dubyer. For the rest of you brave enough to admit you were fooled, are you angry yet?

And for you Congressional types reading this web site (and I know that many of you do), Bush made total jackasses out of you as well. Under the Constitution, which you are sworn to uphold, only Congress can declare war. Changing the name to "police action" or "battle" does not get you off of the hook. When our army marches into another nation to take it over, that's a war by any meaningful definition of the word. So, you passed a bill that authorized the President to send in the military to Iraq, but ONLY if the President could prove that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction in defiance of UN Resolution 1441. The President said he had proof, and you did not check him on it. And now that the world knows that the President did not actually have any such proof, the world knows that the US Congress failed in their job. You were had, used, swindled, conned, etc. Bush bypassed you. He got his illegal war right past you. The President has made the entire Congress look like weak and impotent idiots and fools before the rest of the world for not exercising due diligence over a serious matter like war. Are you angry yet?

Our media has tried to teach us all that hate and anger are bad. Anger must be "managed". Hate of any and all kinds must be suppressed. Well, I am here to tell you that certain hates and angers are not only justified, they are essential. I hate drug dealers, don't you? I hate liars, don't you? You're a sucker if you don't. I hate spies who use deception to trick our nation into doing things it ought not to be doing. Hate and anger helped drive the British out of the colonies 1776. Hate and anger fueled the victory of WW2, which is why Bush, with his lies, tried to trick us all (or at least the gullible ones) into hating and being angry at a designated target for invasion.

I am very angry. #$%^#%$ anger management, I am pissed off! And if you carry any of the blood of those who made this nation what it is today you have to be angry too. You should be angry. You must be angry. Because right now there is a battle about to start over whether this nation will continue to be ruled by those who lie, or whether the liars will be kicked out. Whether we will have honest government or not. Whether we will be slaves to liars, or free citizens with honorable and respectful and fair government.

Be angry. Be very angry. Hate liars. Focus your anger on them. Drive them from office and from the media. There is no other choice but permanent servitude.

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Death of Pope Preempts Misery of Iraq
Kurt Nimmo

Predictably, the death of Karol Wojtyla, also known as Pope John Paul II, has crowded out other news stories, for instance:

U.S IGNORED WMD REALITY IN IRAQ. "By the time President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein of the deadly weapons he was allegedly trying to build, every piece of fresh evidence had been tested-and disproved-by U.N. inspectors, according to a report commissioned by the president and released Thursday," the Washington Post reports early today. In other words, Bush groomed a passel of lies and passed it off as a pretext to invade a sovereign nation and kill more than 100,000 innocent Iraqis. Now the Strausscons wants to blame this defective intelligence-i.e., lies-on the CIA and the "intelligence community."

Fact of the matter is, Cheney and the Strausscons knew precisely what they were doing and that's why they created the Office of Special Plans, essentially a lie factory designed to produce "Feith-based intelligence," a malodorous bouquet of falsification and prevarication, a natural extension of "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," a venomous shibboleth written for Israeli settler leader Benjamin Netanyahu by leading Strausscons Richard "Prince of Darkness" Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and his wife Meyrav. Naturally, none of this is mentioned in the Post article. Instead, we are told the CIA is to blame. Of course, the CIA deserves condemnation, but not for Strausscon lies.

The "IAEA disputed CIA claims that Iraq was trying to buy black-market aluminum tubes for a nuclear program. The IAEA assessment, which turned out to be accurate, was first shared with U.S. intelligence in July 2001," writes the Post. But if not for Strausscon friendly Judith Miller and Michael Gordon at the New York Times, this CIA wet dream would have never seen the light of day. Bush's tubular excuse for what would eventually become mass murder of a 100,000 Iraqis was trumpeted by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, VP Dick Cheney, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and ultimately Bush himself in a saber-rattling lie fest before the United Nations. (See Tim Dickinson's West Wing Pipe Dream for details.) Naturally, as we now know, Bush's tubular excuse was nothing but a lie floated expressly to scare the hell out of gullible Americans and set the stage for mass murder.

If we are to believe the Post, it was all the fault of the CIA and Cheney's cherry-picking operation never existed.

BRITAIN GETS COLD FEET. "Britain plans to reduce the size of its military force in Iraq from 9,000 to 3,500 soldiers within 12 months, as part of a phased withdrawal from the war-torn country," reports al-Jazeera. Since Bush lapdog Tony Blair is up for election on May 5 and, according to Frank Luntz of the Times Online, in "years of polling voters, I have never found the public mood in Britain so disgruntled and disillusioned," the withdrawal announcement has near perfect timing. If we are to believe Lt. Gen James Conway of the U.S. Marines, the U.S. may start removing soldiers from Iraq as well, as Iraqis are "starting to take control of their own situation," or it is hoped they will soon, anyway. Conway may as well wish for a pony. Naturally, a big fat caveat is attached to Britain's announcement: "Troop numbers in Iraq are continually kept under review and we will remain in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi authorities to provide security assistance for the Iraqi forces. We are not going to speculate on future troop levels and timescales," a Ministry of Defense spokesman told al-Jazeera. Is it possible everything is contingent on Blair's re-election?

IRAQ AND KUWAIT, OIL BUDDIES. Remember when Saddam Hussein accused Kuwait of stealing its oil with horizontal drilling and listed this as one of the reasons for invading the sheikdom in 1990? Another reason was that the Iraqis considered Kuwait an artificial contrivance, once a province of Iraq (that is until the Brits came along and lopped it off in 1923 and got themselves a handsome "oil concession" in 1934). In September, 2000, Iraq once again made the accusation that Kuwait was stealing some 300,000 barrels of oil per day, worth about $3 billion a year at the time. That was then, this is now. "A joint Kuwait-Iraq commission is looking at how to regulate oil production from a field covering their joint territories, reported AFP. Officials said the options were either to form a joint production company or to hire a foreign company for production." Freedom has its advantages.

SWISS "RAPPORTEUR" STATES THE OBVIOUS, IRAQI KIDS MALNOURISHED. In Bushzarro world, truth is hated and maligned. John Zarocostas, reporting for the Moonie owned Washington Times, says the Bushcons are all atwitter over the "anti-American rhetoric" (i.e., truth) of Jean Ziegler, "a longtime critic of the United States who is the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food." Zarocostas reports that in "a report [issued by the UN's Commission on Human Rights], the Swiss professor of sociology blamed the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq for nearly doubling malnutrition among children younger than 5." Kevin E. Moley, U.S. ambassador, gave Ziegler heck for the report. "First, he has not visited Iraq; secondly, he is wrong," declaimed Moley. "So we wish Jean Ziegler, in all his reporting, would stick to the facts, but in his case it would leave him little to say."

Ziegler is dismissed by the Moonie Times as a commie, "a member of the executive committee of Socialist International who teaches at the University of Geneva, [and] was appointed in September 2000 by the former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson."

"Acute malnutrition among Iraqi children under five years of ago had doubled since the US invasion and occupation two years ago," Doug Lorimer of Green Left writes, summarizing the UN Commission on Human Rights report. "Reporting the results of a study conducted last November by the Norwegian-based Fafo Institute for Applied Social Science, Ziegler told the 53-nation commission that more than a quarter of Iraqi children did not get enough to eat. According to the institute, last year 7.7% of Iraqi children under five suffered acute malnutrition, compared to 4% prior to the March 2003 US-led invasion…. Some 6.5 million Iraqis, 25% of the entire population, remain highly dependent on food rations according to the UN's World Food Program. A WFP report released last May said that just under half of that figure were so poor that they have to resell part of their food rations to buy basic necessities such as medicine and clothes. A further 3.6 million Iraqis, 14% of the population, would become food insecure if the rationing system were discontinued."

Recall, before the twin invasions of the Iraqi people by the Bush Cosa Nostra-punctuated with more than a decade of murderous sanctions-Iraqi was a modern nation with a high standard of living, subsidized health care, education, food, and rent-in short, even under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, Iraq was the envy of the Arab world. Bush Senior, Bubba Clinton, and Bush the Junior worked long and hard to make Iraq one of the poorest countries in the world.

A PARASITE NAMED JEBEL ALI FREE ZONE AUTHORITY. Killing 100,000 Iraqis (following the murder of more than a million over the previous decade) is good for business, as the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority, or Jafza, informs us. Jafza will participate in the "Rebuild Iraq 2005? exhibition in Amman, Jordan, according to AME Info, billed as the "ultimate Middle East business resource," sponsored by the likes of Shell Markets Middle East, CNN International, and UPS, to name but three. AME Info looks out for the interests of a large "customer base," including such corporations as Citibank, DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Microsoft, Motorola, and others.

"The show, which is in the second year running, is a highly specialized show that focuses on the rebuilding of Iraq's critical infrastructure in electricity, water, oil, health, transportation, agriculture, and telecommunications sectors," reports AME Info. "The show is also the central rally point for buyers, manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors, as it gives them direct access to decision makers from government bodies, organizations and companies who are involved in the economic rebirth of Iraq."

In other words, a gaggle of fantastically wealthy corporations chomping at the bit to cash in on the misery of the Iraqi people (see the previous news item), as directed by "government bodies," that is to say the United States and the puppet government installed in Baghdad. As previously noted, no "economic rebirth" would be necessary in Iraq if the Bush Cosa Nostra criminal organization, with more than a little help of the United States Congress, had not twice invaded Iraq and imposed medieval siege sanctions on it.

History is nowhere to be found when vulture corporations gather to pick over the bones of victimized people in the third world. Bush I and II engineered the destruction of Iraq's "critical infrastructure in electricity, water, oil, health, transportation, agriculture, and telecommunications" expressly for the sake of the waiting vultures.

"President Bush [Senior] ordered the destruction of facilities essential to civilian life and economic productivity throughout Iraq," Mohamed Ahmad Aljanabi wrote for the Institute for Policy Research and Development. "Of the facilities targeted, some were: electric power generators, water system reservoirs, food processing and storage facilities, oil wells and pumps, rice factories, just to mention a few. The U.S. assault left Iraq in a near apocalyptic condition, as reported by the first United Nations observers after the war. The intention and effect of the bombing of civilian life and activities was to systematically destroy Iraq’s infrastructure, leaving it in a 'pre-industrial' condition," in short, leaving it to be "rebuilt" by the likes of Bechtel, Halliburton, and presumably the parasites-in-waiting in Jordan, a conclave salivating over the prospect of making profits on the misery of millions of victims.

"Visitors and exhibitors alike would be able to witness the offerings of Jafza, some of which that are aimed exclusively for nurturing Iraqi businesses and providing support for Iraqi businessmen who want to do business with the rest of the world," says a no-nonsense Abdalla Al Banna, Marketing Manager for Jafza. "The prospects for growth in Iraq is unprecedented [bombing usually does that], as key stake holders from all over the world have understood the vast economic potential of the country. Reconstruction of Iraq is top priority for the countries in the region and the world community at large, as its immediate beneficiaries will be the millions of Iraqis, who will see a significant improvement in the quality of their lives." Of course, in order to improve "the quality of their lives," Iraqis, under the neolib-neocon scheme, will need money. However, as a study by the college of economics at Baghdad University reported last year, unemployment in Iraq is around 70%. "The number of people out of work in Iraq has been on the rise since the then US administrator Paul Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army, security organizations and the Ministry of Information-a decision that made hundreds of thousands of people unemployed at the stroke of a pen," al-Jazeera reported last August.

One has to wonder, however, what Jafza and its multinational participants are smoking. So long as the U.S. occupies Iraq there will be no peace and no opportunity for the neolib-neocon camarilla and its corporate "customer base" to profit from the premeditated destruction of Iraq. In fact, if Bush and Crew realize the Strausscon master plan-generational war delivered to Muslims everywhere, especially in the Middle East-resistance will spread and the chance Bechtel and General Motors will "rebuild" what Bush-Clinton-Bush bombed will be about as likely as a sunny day in Hell.

Meanwhile, we have the solemnization of Pope John Paul II to consider, an event likely to chew up the rest of the week as the pontiff will be on display and then buried at St. Peter's Basilica Grotto on Friday. Events in Iraq will surely take a backseat-in fact, they will pretty much disappear from the corporate media radar screen entirely.

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Oil Strikes New Record
By Joanne Collins, Reuters
April 4, 2005

MELBOURNE - Oil prices raced to an all-time peak on Monday, climbing toward $58 a barrel as OPEC signaled it would discuss a second output rise to try to quell the market's rally.

U.S. light crude hit a record $57.79 a barrel, surpassing Friday's high of $57.70, which was triggered by a forecast that prices could spike above $100 due to robust global demand and tight spare capacity. [...]

"I would have thought prices would struggle to go much higher. The market fundamentals suggest lower prices," said Mark Pervan, an analyst with Daiwa Securities in Melbourne.

"I think they will struggle to get over $60 in the next couple of weeks -- that is a big psychological barrier." [...]

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Israel Boycotts Peace Conference
Christopher Bollyn – American Free Press March 13, 2005

Mainstream Media Mum on Meeting

Unreported in the corporate controlled press, the Israeli boycott of the recent international Middle East peace summit in London illustrates why the Israel-Palestine conflict remains stuck in a quagmire after 57 years and who is ultimately responsible.

Although Israel stayed away, its hard-line government dictated the conference agenda and terms of discussion. Foreign ministers and high-level delegations from 23 nations and six international organizations convened in London on March 1 to try and advance the "peace process" between the Palestinians and Israelis. The attendees included the newly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan,Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the European Union's (EU) foreign policy chief Javier Solana and World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn. Representatives from the UN, EU, the United States and Russia-the "Quartet" members who drafted the current peace plan known as the "road map"-were also present for the one-day conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center.

Despite the presence of so many high-level delegations, the international gathering, which Blair had originally hoped would be, or lead to, a peace conference, was unable to advance the peace process even one step because the chief antagonist of the conflict in Palestine, the Israeli government, simply boycotted the conference.

This, however, went unreported in the U.S. mainstream media. (And in the British press too. Ed.)

"Israel refused to send anyone to the gathering," Rick Kelly reported on the web site "The Likud-Labour coalition government of Ariel Sharon opposed Blair's planned conference when he first floated it after Bush's reelection last November. As far as Israel was concerned, any discussion on its own obligations or on 'final status' issues related to the road map, the future of East Jerusalem, the borders of any Palestinian state, or the right of return for refugees was illegitimate.

"With the Bush administration's full support, Sharon insisted that the only subject open for discussion was how to best whip the Palestinian Authority (PA) into line," Kelly wrote. "The British prime minister quickly altered the character of the assembly to meet these demands. It was not even possible to call the gathering a conference, only a meeting."

Sharon has always avoided international Middle East conferences, out of fear of being forced to withdraw from the occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza. Rather than comply with international law and UN resolutions calling for Israeli withdrawal, Sharon continues to obstruct peace efforts by demanding that the PA disarm groups resisting Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

Rather than report that the Sharon government had boycotted the international conference, the controlled press in the United States shifted its focus to the question of Syria's military presence in Lebanon and U.S. demands for a complete Syrian withdrawal.

The Palestinians had protested, saying the conference would do nothing to press Israel to meet its obligations or fulfill existing commitments to ease the occupation or end the expansion of settlements.

"The London non-event on Palestine was a superb exercise in obfuscation," The Dawn wrote. "Boycotted by Israel, the meeting did not even make a passing reference to the real issue-the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories."

Palestinian personal income has fallen by 40 percent in the past few years and nearly half the Palestinians live "below the poverty line." More than 600,000 Palestinians in the occupied territories "cannot even afford the basic necessities for subsistence," according to a recent World Bank report titled "Palestinian Economic Crisis."

It should be noted that the changes, demanded by the Israeli government, to the conference's final declaration were made before the foreign ministers and delegates had even convened on March 1.

The final declaration was drawn up in advance in close consultation with the Sharon government. Sharon's closest adviser, Dov Weisglass, reportedly met twice with aides to Blair in the two weeks prior to the meeting and forced several changes to the prepared text.

Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper reported that Weisglass had visited London the week before the conference and asked that the Palestinian commitment to security be strengthened in the document.

The original draft had stated that Palestinian reform should be met by "reciprocal action by Israel in relation to its own commitments." Sharon, however, objected to this and had the statement changed so that the conference participants merely "urged and expected" Israeli action.

"Dutifully, Mr. Blair supported Mr. Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan, but neither he nor Miss Rice regretted Israel's boycott of the conference," The Dawn reported.

"Instead, they laid emphasis on reforms and for the Palestinian Authority to act against those responsible for the recent Tel Aviv bombing. The real issues - the right of return for Palestinian refugees, halting settlement activity, dismantling settlements already built, condemning the Israeli massacre in Jenin, the blowing up of Palestinian houses, and giving a date for the withdrawal of Israeli troops - were not even discussed," it wrote.

When the conference opened, the drastic changes to the agenda demanded by Israel had reduced Blair's original peace conference to a mere "meeting." It is not "a peace conference," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, "nor will it deal with the final status issues in the road map but we believe it is a vital practical step towards restarting the road map process."

Consequently, none of the real underlying issues of the conflict in Palestine were discussed. As demanded by Israel, Palestinian President Abbas was issued a list of demands for political, security, and economic reform, designed to demonstrate the PA's readiness to suppress resistance to the Israeli occupation.

"That the Israeli government could dictate the terms of an international meeting that it boycotted speaks volumes as to the real nature of the relationship between London, Tel Aviv, and Washington," reporter Kelly noted.

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Hezbollah says blasts serve Israel
UPI – April 2, 2005

Lebanon's Hezbollah said Saturday the recent series of blasts in the country served the "Zionist enemy."

The Shiite group said in a statement that the four explosions that struck the northeastern, predominantly Christian areas, in the past three weeks were aimed at planting sedition and division among the Lebanese.

The organization demanded the perpetrators of the bombings be found and punished, saying those who carried out the attacks were "serving the Zionist enemy and its schemes."

It warned against the "dangers of the repercussions of such acts, which target the security, stability and civil peace" of Lebanon.

Hezbollah's statement came a day after an explosive device blew up in the parking lot of a commercial center in the Christian area of Brummana, 12 miles northeast of Beirut.

The latest blast, said to have included 55 pounds of explosives, slightly injured nine people, including an American and a Kuwaiti whose identities were not revealed.

It destroyed 12 cars, damaged more than 50 shops, a sports club, a social club and two large warehouses.

Comment: Last week the Israeli government officially honored several of its citizens who were involved in blowing up US and British-owned buildings in Egypt in 1952 and blaming it on Muslims. Israel has a long history of carrying out such "false flag" operations in various countries around the world. Of these, the most notable was the 9/11 attacks, an Mossad operation in league with Israeli members of the US government, and military-industrial complex.

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Jewish terror attack feared
By Amit Ben David and Ronnie Shaked
Rabbi David Meir Druckman. Who's under that hat and beard?
Police tighten security around Temple Mount amid concerns that Jewish extremists could target Muslims in bid to stall pullout; IDF official says terrorists may use planned right-wing rally as pretext to resume violence

JERUSALEM - The police are tightening security around the Temple Mount amid fears that far-right extremists may attempt to target the holy Muslim site in a bid to stall the Gaza pullout.

Special sensors and closed-circuit cameras are expected to be installed at sensitive areas and security has been stepped up at the site.

Meanwhile, senior IDF intelligence officer Yossi Kuperwasser warned terrorists could use a planned right-wing rally at the Mount as a pretext to end the current lull in violence.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas "wants to act against the (terror) groups, but can't," Kuperwasser told the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Monday.

Officials monitoring Jewish extremists

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad may view the plan to bring 10,000 people to the site on April 10 as a reason to resume terror attacks.

Muslims have already announced they would block the rally with their bodies, while the Jerusalem police said they would only allow small groups of Jews to visit the Mount, in accordance with current regulations.

The defense establishment is monitoring hardcore far-right activists, a group believed to number some 500 persons. Only some have access to arms but all have a common goal: to carry out terror acts in a bid to achieve political goals.

The greatest concern involves dozens of anonymous activists, who until recently had been unknown to police.

Better-known right wing activists such as Noam Federman, Itamar Ben Gvir, and their associates have long been under the surveillance of the Shin Bet and police.

Electronic security system

Last week, police announced several far-right extremists have been banned from the Temple Mount in a bid to prevent possible clashes.

In response to increasing threats on the Mount, the Internal Security Ministry and police forces decided to set up a system of electronic sensors at a cost of about NIS 100 million (about USD 23 million).

The sensors are to be installed around the walls of the mount and are designed to alert security forces in the event of an attempted in the area. However, Police are skeptical as to whether the massive security plan would in fact be put into effect before the planned Gaza pullout slated for July.

The Temple Mount - a volcano

For years the Temple Mount has been viewed as a "volcano" that may erupt at the slightest provocation, leading to severe local and international ramifications.

The Shin Bet is seriously preparing for the possibility that right-wing activists may try to engulf the area in flames as part of their efforts to thwart the disengagement plan.

Senior security officials warned Sunday that Jewish extremists might attempt to target the Temple Mount.

"Attacking the Temple Mount could result in a massive response against the State of Israel not just by the Palestinians, but by the entire Islamic world," one official said.

He said the defense establishment is making every effort to foil any attempt to disrupt the calm at the Temple Mount and has stepped up its intelligence and security forces.

Possible scenarios

Police have examined a series of deadly scenarios in recent months, including the following:

* Mortar attack on the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives
* An explosive device at the entrance to the Temple Mount
* An explosive drone aimed at targeting worshippers
* Grenades attack on worshippers
* Gunfire directed at worshippers

Comment: What's that you say? A quick and easy way to ignite war in the Middle East? Sounds like just what Sharon has been waiting for!

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Israel dumps 10,000 tonnes of garbage in West Bank
4/4/2005 1:30:00 PM GMT

An Israeli firm is preparing to use the West Bank quarry to dump 10,000 tonnes of garbage a month

Israeli authorities plan to dump garbage in Abu Shusha quarry, between the Palestinian city of Nablus and the Jewish settlement of Kedumim, ignoring international laws governing the occupied territory, an Israeli newspaper said on Monday, adding that the move will imperil Palestinian water supplies.

Although it hasn't got a government approval for the project yet, an Israeli firm is preparing to use the West Bank's largest quarry to dump at least 10,000 tonnes of garbage a month, Haaretz daily said.

Israeli and Palestinian officials couldn't be reached for comment.

According to Haaretz report , the dump is against international pacts that prohibit using any occupied lands unless it benefits the local population.

The project, sponsored by a settler-owned firm, will pollute the Mountain Aquifer, one or the main sources of fresh water for Israel and the West Bank, the paper said.

Comment: If there were ever a symbolic act to convey to the world Sharon's feelings about Palestinians and their aspirations to a state of their own, then this is surely it.

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Assassinated Israeli premier Rabin's grave desecrated
Sun Apr 3, 7:14 PM ET

JERUSALEM - The graves of the assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and two other historic Jewish figures were desecrated at the weekend by vandals who scrawled hate slogans on the tombstones, police said.

One of the slogans written on Rabin's grave in Jerusalem's Mount Herzl cemetery read "Murderous Dog", of a man who came to be hated by the extreme right for signing the Oslo autonomy accords with the Palestinians.

He was shot dead at a peace rally in Tel Aviv in November 1995.

The tomb of his wife Lea Rabin, which lies just next to that of her husband, had also been desecrated with a similar slogan.

Meanwhile, the word "Hitler" was scrawled in black paint on the tombs of Theodore Herzl, the original visionary of Zionism, as well as that of David Ben Gurion, who founded Israel in 1948.

The inscription "Hitler, the brain" was also found on the graves of a dozen Israeli soldiers buried in the cemetery.

Political leaders have voiced fears that the atmosphere of incitement which marked the build-up to the killing of Rabin is being replicated by opponents of the plan to pull Jewish settlers out of the occupied Gaza Strip beginning this summer.

According to Israeli Channel Two television, three surveillance cameras filmed the vandals who desecrated the graves of the Rabins and the police are attempting to identify them.

Israeli public radio reported that the preliminary police investigation indicated the perpetrators were likely mentally deranged.

"A state that does not know how to assure the security of its leaders, a state that also does not manage to preserve their graves," was how the anti-settlement movement Peace described the vandalism.

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Government wiretaps, searches up 75 percent
The Associated Press
April 1, 2005

Increase follows expanded powers for terror investigation

WASHINGTON - The government requested and won approval for a record number of special warrants last year for secret wiretaps and searches of suspected terrorists and spies, 75 percent more than in 2000, the Bush administration disclosed Friday.

Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella revealed the figure in an annual report to Congress. Last year's total of 1,754 approved warrants was only slightly higher than the 1,724 approved in 2003. But the number has climbed markedly since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as authorities have moved aggressively against terror suspects. In 2000, there were 1,003 warrants approved under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Since passage of the Patriot Act, the FBI can use such warrants in investigations that aren't mostly focused on foreign intelligence.

Operating with permission from a secretive U.S. court that meets regularly at Justice headquarters, the FBI has used such warrants to break into homes, offices, hotel rooms and automobiles, install hidden cameras, search luggage and eavesdrop on telephone conversations. Agents also have pried into safe deposit boxes, watched from afar with video cameras and binoculars and intercepted e-mails.

Details about some FBI surveillance efforts last year emerge from court records spread across different cases. But only a fraction of such warrants each year result in any kind of public disclosure, so little is known outside classified circles about how they work.

Last year, for example, the FBI used a special warrant to search the home of Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield, who was jailed in May after his fingerprint was incorrectly matched to one found on a bag of detonators near the scene of train bombings in Spain that killed 191 people in March 2004. He was released after the FBI admitted its mistake.

The Justice Department acknowledged the search as part of a lawsuit Mayfield has filed against the U.S. government in which he contends his rights were violated by his arrest and by the investigation against him.

Comment: 1,754 potential violations of American's civil rights, the details of all but one kept secret, and that one was a "mistake". Kind or reassuring is it not? And people still say that America is not already a police state.

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Torture and repression exposed in holiday paradise of Maldives
By Daniel Howden
The Independent
02 April 2005

Behind its picture postcard façade, the Maldives are being run as a "secret dictatorship" engaged in "arbitrary arrest, detention and torture", according to a human rights report.

The Indian Ocean archipelago, a favourite luxury holiday destination for well-heeled Westerners, relies on a culture of repression and fear to prop up a brutal regime, said the report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights, entitled Maldives: The Dark Side of Life.

The former British protectorate, which gained independence in 1965, has established itself as one of the world's premier upmarket holiday spots, marketing itself as "The sunny side of life".

The Maldives boast a string of five-star resorts charging up to £3,000 a night, guaranteeing rest, relaxation and pampering amid white sands and palm-fringed beaches. Life for the population of 300,000 is less sweet.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, in power since 1978, has banned opposition parties. The country's three newspapers are run by two cabinet ministers and the president's brother-in-law, while Mr Gayoom controls television and radio.

Tourist dollars are the lifeblood of the island republic's economy, but horrific human rights abuses are being committed within earshot of tourists, according to the Delhi-based rights centre.

The report highlighted the fate of up to 20 political prisoners held without trial and the deaths of four inmates at the Maafushi Island prison in September 2003. It alleges that guards responded to a protest over conditions by beating one prisoner to death, then shooting dead three and wounding 15 in the ensuing riot. The President, who is under increasing international pressure to make reforms, has promised multi-party democratic elections "within one year." [...]

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Nuclear dump site scientists probed for fudged e-mails
Sunday, Apr 03, 2005, Page 7

Government employees studying whether Yucca Mountain would be a suitable place to bury nuclear waste acknowledged in e-mail messages to each other that they had made up details about how they had done their research in order to appear to meet quality standards, according to some of the e-mails made public on Friday.

Some of the frank exchanges included instructions to erase them.

The Energy Department, which is trying to open a waste repository at the site, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, announced the existence of the e-mail messages two weeks ago.

On Friday, a subcommittee of the House Committee on government Reform released dozens of pages of the messages.

One analyst wrote that a computer program had generated data that he could not explain, so he withheld it from the quality assurance department, known as QA.

"Don't look at the last 4 lines. Those are a mystery," wrote the scientist.

"In the end I keep track of 2 sets of files, the ones that will keep QA happy and the ones that were actually used," he wrote.

B. John Garrick, the chairman of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, a group of independent experts established by Congress to monitor the Energy Department, said it was too soon to draw conclusions but that "it is disturbing to see such loosely framed discussions between scientists."

Falsifying work

The theme running through the messages was that employees were performing work that they did not believe would meet the standards set by the quality assurance inspectors, and were sometimes falsifying their work in ways that they believed would satisfy the inspectors.

One scientist wrote that he feared he would be "taken to the cleaners" by the inspectors because his work did not refer to an established procedure laid out in a scientific notebook, and he asked if he should create such a notebook "and back-date the whole thing??"

'Sound science'

The Energy Department and the White House had said repeatedly that their recommendation of the site was based on "sound science." [...]

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Woman killed in church sword attack
Krysia Diver in Stuttgart
Monday April 4, 2005
The Guardian

A woman was killed and three people seriously injured when a man wielding a samurai sword ran amok in a German church yesterday.

Reports of the attack at the Methodist Christus church, in Stuttgart, shook the normally quiet local Tamil community. The alleged attacker, a 25-year-old man of Tamil origin, was arrested.

A police investigator, Michael Kuehner, said the man had been motivated by "personal reasons", adding that he had made unspecified threats before Easter.

The attack took place at the start of an afternoon service for around 65 Tamil people, including many children. A police spokesman, Hermann Karpf, said: "He is believed to be a Tamil, and the service was also a Tamil service."

The church was cordoned off last night. A large pool of blood, rubber gloves and clumps of hair lay on a street corner. Police confirmed that a 43-year-old woman had died, and that three other victims had suffered serious chest, heart and arm injuries.

Police used pepper spray to overcome the suspect. "As far as we know, there is no political background to the case," Mr Karpf said.

A witness, who asked not to be named, was sitting on his balcony near the church when the attack took place: "I heard screaming and crying and when I looked up, there were people covered in blood running out of the church. [...]

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N.J. Rain Causes Flooding, Evacuations
By BRUCE SHIPKOWSKI, Associated Press Writer
Sun Apr 3,11:38 PM ET

TRENTON, N.J. - Heavy rains drenched parts of New Jersey over the weekend, flooding low-lying areas and causing thousands of people to evacuate homes threatened by the rising water.

The heavy rains began Saturday and persisted until midday Sunday, prompting acting Gov. Richard J. Codey to declare a state of emergency. Authorities urged hundreds of residents in each of six counties to leave low-lying areas and closed some state offices Monday near the Delaware River.

"We haven't had any major or traumatic problems so far, and that's what we're hoping to avoid with the evacuations," said Art Charlton, public information officer for Warren County.

Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer ordered the evacuation of a neighborhood known as "The Island" late Saturday. Gas and electric service was shut off to homes, while displaced residents were offered space at a high school shelter.

Palmer said residents would not be allowed to return until at least Wednesday, and further evacuations may be needed.

In northern New Jersey, moderate to major flooding was expected in seven rivers. All the rivers had crested by early Sunday, and most were expected to reach at least 2 feet above flood levels before slowly receding Monday.

Some larger rivers, such as the Delaware, were expected to continue rising through at least Monday afternoon.

Trenton city spokesman Kent Ashworth said officials expected the Delaware to crest higher than it did last September, when the remnants of Hurricane Ivan forced thousands of residents to flee their homes for several days.

In Pennsylvania, several people had to be rescued by boat Sunday after rising floodwaters forced the evacuation of about 200 homes in Northampton County. The water reached nearly the level of traffic lights in the community of Easton, flooding many downtown buildings.

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Bad Wildfire Season Feared in West
By ANGIE WAGNER, Associated Press Writer
Sun Apr 3, 5:43 PM ET

It was a dry, warm winter across the Northwest, with experts in some areas saying they can't remember the last time the snowpack was this low. It was just the opposite in the Southwest, with record winter rainfall that flooded deserts and caused murderous landslides.

Strangely, both face the same worry: Conditions are ripe for a bad wildfire season. Along with the dry forests in the Northwest, all that rain in the Southwest has fed lots of tall grass and brush that will become tinder when it dries this summer.

Ordinarily, when April arrives, Jack Owen considers himself lucky if any homeowners call his firm to remove brush from around their houses. But in this dry year in Oregon, his Wildfire Fuels Reduction is grinding up trees and bushes as fast as it can.

By this time last year, Owen's company in Bend had only done $1,200 in business. This year, edgy homeowners already have given the company $18,000 worth of work.

"At this time last year, one reason I didn't have much business was too much snow on the ground," he said.

Despite the rising threat, money for firefighting is expected to be tight.

"It's a concern, but we've implemented a significant number of cost management measures with our incident management teams and folks out there on the fire line looking at what we can do to cut our costs," said Alice Forbes, assistant director of operations for the Forest Service at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has already authorized more than $1.2 million for firefighters and equipment.

Some governors fear fewer National Guard troops will be available to fight fires because of the war in Iraq, though Rose Davis, spokeswoman for the fire center, said plenty of other firefighters will be available. [...]

In parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, the snowpack is only about 25 percent to 50 percent of normal. The U.S. Drought Monitor, which tracks conditions across the country, rates vast tracts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho as "exceptional drought," the worst of five drought categories.

"In a lot of places, there's no comparison," Tom Perkins, a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said of the snowpack. "It's never been this low before."

The fire season in the Northwest could start as soon as late May. [...]

Southern California had its second-wettest rainy season on record, and rainfall in Arizona was well above normal. The snowpack in California's southern Sierra Nevada was 53 percent above average, and the Arizona Snowbowl ski area on northern Arizona's highest mountain reported a seasonal total of 37 feet of snow. [...]

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AgileTV presents Promptu voice controlled television
24 March 2005

AgileTV is aiming to change the way people watch TV, with a voice controlled television remote control.

The Promptu remote is designed to replace a conventional remote control and includes a "Talk" button and a built-in microphone, together with an infra-red receiver used in conjunction with an existing cable box.

The remote control translates spoken commands into speech features that are sent the receiver and then to a small runtime application in the set-top box. The actual voice recognition is performed at the cable head-end on commodity PC based Linux systems. This can be tuned to regional accents and can include a large vocabulary database. The response is returned in around a second, and an on screen prompt indicates when the command has been understood.

The remote control can be told to change channel by name or number, or show programme selections by up to 75 pre-defined categories. This perhaps demonstrates the problem of genre classification for television programmes and displays a certain North American bias. So there are currently categories for Cheerleading and Rodeo, but only one for Performing Arts, which might indicate something about the intended market.

It comes with a handy reference card that helpfully explains "You can also find an actor in an Adult program by saying 'Find Adult Actor' and the actor's name".

Voice control always seems to be a feature of visions of the future. While not dismissing its potential application for ensuring accessibility, the Promptu approach still requires a remote control and the user needs to hold down the Talk button when giving commands. However, the real advantage is that it may eliminate the requirement for keyboard entry when searching for titles, or adult actors.

Promptu is currently on trial by Comcast and Time Warner in the Philadelphia region. Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts has been quoted as calling it "one of my favourite new pieces of technology".

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