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Author Brings Out Biblical Guide Designed with Teen Girls in Mind
By Mary Rettig
April 13, 2005

(AgapePress) - The author of a new magazine-style book for teenage girls says she wants young girls to find a spiritual foundation to counter the world's harmful influences.

TeenVirtue looks like the latest teen fashion magazine. It is glossy and upbeat, contains quizzes, and talks about boys; but it also provides scripture and deep spiritual truths. Vicki Courtney, author of TeenVirtue, says her daughter was a major factor in the design of the book.

"My daughter is 14, almost 15," Courtney notes, "and she [advised] me when I began to write the book -- it was originally supposed to be a book. One day she just said, 'Mom, girls are really not reading books. Moms keep buying them for us but we're not reading them.' So I wanted to write something that was effective -- that would not only be read but be passed around."

Comment: While we applaud any efforts to combat the kind of twisted BS that most teenage girls' magazines peddle, it seems that the owner of "Teen Virtue" is not without her own agenda. Consider what the magazine understands to be the "significant issues that young girls face:"

Beauty - Check

Boys - Check

Sex - Check

Friends and family - Check

Having a solid relationship with Christ - eh, is that a new boy band member?

The author of the magazine, Vikki Courtney, organises "Yada Yada Junior events" for High School girls in the US which Courtney describes thusly:

Picture a thousand 3rd-6th grade girls and moms squeezing into a sanctuary and worshipping together. Picture them attending workshops such as "Are you an alien?," "Girl Politics," and "Pretty as a princess." Picture them screaming out in unison, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" during a main assembly time. Picture them playing the "Pure or Lure Fashion Game" for cool prizes. Picture them flooding the altar at the end of the event to sign a virtue pledge, some holding hands with their mothers, others praying alone on bended knee. Most importantly, picture God showing up in full force and touching hearts, one girl, one mom at a time.

Attendees to the Yada Yada events describe what they learned:

I learned that if you believe that Jesus died for our sins you can go to heaven.

I learned that you can't become a true "princess" until you meet your "prince"…Jesus!

So what's it gonna be? Allow your daughters to read standard teenage magazines that teach women to be sex objects, or allow them to read "Teen Virtue" that teaches them to worship religious objects and believe in a god and religion that are predominantly fictitious?

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Religious right plan Democrat-bashing 'Justice Sunday'
16 April 2005
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

Bill Frist, the Republican leader of the US Senate and strongly tipped to run for the presidency in 2008, is to join a broadcast with right-wing Christian evangelicals in which Democrats will be accused of "standing against people of faith" by seeking to block George Bush's judicial nominations.

Mr Frist has agreed to join a number of prominent Christian conservatives for a service next weekend to be beamed live from a "mega-church" in Kentucky to churches around the US and on the internet. The event, organised by the Family Research Council (FRC), has been dubbed "Justice Sunday".

A flyer for the event says that the filibuster - a process whereby a party in the minority can "talk out" a bill and ensure there is no time to pass it - is "being used against people of faith". The flyer does not name the Democrats but the party has used the device to prevent Republicans confirming 10 of Mr Bush's judicial nominations.

Mr Frist says his Republican majority may change senate rules to require that only a simple majority is needed to confirm a nomination. At the moment 60 of the 100 senate votes are required. Democrats say that they would respond to such a "nuclear option" by bringing senate business to a standstill.

The senator's spokesman told The New York Times: "Senator Frist is doing everything he can to ensure judicial nominees are treated fairly and that every senator has the opportunity to give the President their advice and consent. He has spoken to groups all across the country to press that point."

The FRC is one of several Christian organisations trying to use the Republican domination of Washington to pass conservative and right-wing legislation. The battlegrounds for such groups are the issues of gay marriage and abortion.

The group's website declares: "The FRC champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilisation, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society ... Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society."

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Flashback: And the Verdict on Justice Kennedy Is: Guilty
By Dana Milbank
Saturday, April 9, 2005

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is a fairly accomplished jurist, but he might want to get himself a good lawyer -- and perhaps a few more bodyguards.

Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or worse.

Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism, said Kennedy's opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles "is a good ground of impeachment." To cheers and applause from those gathered at a downtown Marriott for a conference on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," Schlafly said that Kennedy had not met the "good behavior" requirement for office and that "Congress ought to talk about impeachment."

Next, Michael P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said Kennedy "should be the poster boy for impeachment" for citing international norms in his opinions. "If our congressmen and senators do not have the courage to impeach and remove from office Justice Kennedy, they ought to be impeached as well."

Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence. But then, these are scary times for the judiciary. An anti-judge furor may help confirm President Bush's judicial nominees, but it also has the potential to turn ugly.

A judge in Atlanta and the husband and mother of a judge in Chicago were murdered in recent weeks. After federal courts spurned a request from Congress to revisit the Terri Schiavo case, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) mused about how a perception that judges are making political decisions could lead people to "engage in violence."

"The people who have been speaking out on this, like Tom DeLay and Senator Cornyn, need to be backed up," Schlafly said to applause yesterday. One worker at the event wore a sticker declaring "Hooray for DeLay."

The conference was organized during the height of the Schiavo controversy by a new group, the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. This was no collection of fringe characters. The two-day program listed two House members; aides to two senators; representatives from the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America; conservative activists Alan Keyes and Morton C. Blackwell; the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's parents; Alabama's "Ten Commandments" judge, Roy Moore; and DeLay, who canceled to attend the pope's funeral.

The Schlafly session's moderator, Richard Lessner of the American Conservative Union, opened the discussion by decrying a "radical secularist relativist judiciary." It turned more harsh from there.

Schlafly called for passage of a quartet of bills in Congress that would remove courts' power to review religious displays, the Pledge of Allegiance, same-sex marriage and the Boy Scouts. Her speech brought a subtle change in the argument against the courts from emphasizing "activist" judges -- it was, after all, inaction by federal judges that doomed Schiavo -- to "supremacist" judges. "The Constitution is not what the Supreme Court says it is," Schlafly asserted.

Former representative William Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) followed Schlafly, saying the country's "principal problem" is not Iraq or the federal budget but whether "we as a people acknowledge that God exists."

Farris then told the crowd he is "sick and tired of having to lobby people I helped get elected." A better-educated citizenry, he said, would know that "Medicare is a bad idea" and that "Social Security is a horrible idea when run by the government." Farris said he would block judicial power by abolishing the concept of binding judicial precedents, by allowing Congress to vacate court decisions, and by impeaching judges such as Kennedy, who seems to have replaced Justice David H. Souter as the target of conservative ire. "If about 40 of them get impeached, suddenly a lot of these guys would be retiring," he said.

Vieira, a constitutional lawyer who wrote "How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary," escalated the charges, saying a Politburo of "five people on the Supreme Court" has a "revolutionary agenda" rooted in foreign law and situational ethics. Vieira, his eyeglasses strapped to his head with black elastic, decried the "primordial illogic" of the courts.

Invoking Stalin, Vieira delivered the "no man, no problem" line twice for emphasis. "This is not a structural problem we have; this is a problem of personnel," he said. "We are in this mess because we have the wrong people as judges."

A court spokeswoman declined to comment.

Comment: We here at Signs Central have been rendered almost speechless by the above article. Anybody who cannot see the Cultic lunacy in evidence in the remarks and behavior of the people discussed in the above article must be dead physically or spiritually. We are witness here to the same moral depravity that fueled the Crusades, the Inquisition, Hitler and his Nazis.

But let us attempt to make a couple of points here.

To start off with, it was easy to see that the media frenzy surrounding Terri Schiavo was utilized by the present administration in a very clever way: to lead to elimination of any judicial oversight of the Executive branch of the government. It was clear that it was going to be used as a platform for doing away with the democratic checks and balances system created by the American Founding Fathers. As we noted at the time, if Bush and Co. WANTED to save Schiavo, they could have done so quite easily. Terri Schiavo was worth more to George Bush and the neocons dead than alive. Too bad the Christian Cultists who are planning their "Democrat Bashing Sunday" don't realize how cleverly they are being played.

Nevertheless, to have our predictions about the Schiavo case manifest so soon and so BLATANTLY is still shocking and sickening.

It seems that, according to these Monsters, these Disciples of Satan (for that is what they are!), refusing to execute kids who have made terrible errors of judgment (it could be YOUR child!) is an impeachable offense!

But certainly, lying about Saddam Hussein's non-existent connection to al- Qaeda is NOT an impeachable offense! Excuuuuuse us!?

Citing international norms in judgments - norms that are an integral part of CIVILIZED humanity - is an impeachable offense, lying about Saddam's non- existent Weapons of Mass Destruction is not. Excuuuuuse us!?

Reading "the country's "principal problem" is not Iraq or the federal budget but whether "we as a people acknowledge that God exists" simply staggers the mind and renders the Signs Team almost speechless with horror at how far into the pit of Moral Insanity these people have fallen.

We don't think we have ever read anything more insane than "a Politburo of "five people on the Supreme Court" has a "revolutionary agenda" rooted in foreign law and situational ethics. Vieira, his eyeglasses strapped to his head with black elastic, decried the "primordial illogic" of the courts.

Talk about your "primordial illogic." It is the classic tactic of the psychopath: Blame your victim of that which you, yourself, are guilty. Accuse your victim of what you, yourself, are doing!

What is even scarier is the fact that these lunatics actually get the press coverage and real Human Beings with SOULS, do not.

One thing that occurs to us as we consider this Monster, Phyllis Schlafly - God Forbid that she should have children and pass on her psychopathic genes! - is that America turned out in amazing numbers last November.

People don't turn out in such numbers to vote when the status quo is okay. Historically, it has only been when they are really unhappy with things that they are galvanized to vote. And I do not, for one minute, think that it was a whole slew of Christian Nazis that turned out, either.

This means that overwhelming numbers of Americans turned out to vote AGAINST Bush, not FOR him!

The problem was, since Bush and Co already had control of the election process, from recording the ballots to counting them, it was a foregone conclusion that Bush would be "elected." This gang will not be dislodged by any election process that is not conducted and monitored by impartial international experts.

In the article quoted above, Vieira quoted Stalin who said: "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." When you consider that Stalin said something else: "It is not those who vote who have the power. The power belongs to those who count the votes", put together with the horrifying spectacle recounted above, you get a good idea of where America is going. The journalist excused Vieira by saying that "Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence," but we don't think so. America can expect purges soon - lethal purges of any who do not toe the Party line. In fact, yesterday's Signs reported exactly that:

Roundup Nabs More Than 10,000 Fugitives

An anti-judge furor may not only help confirm President Bush's judicial nominees, but it also may ensure that Bush is granted the powers of Fuhrer.

Now, let's consider the Schiavo case for a moment. As we have written, in this case, we think that disconnecting the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo was murder. We also think it was SET UP that way! Terri Schiavo was not in a "persistent vegetative state." Yes, she was brain damaged and severely disabled, and those elements were utilized to whip the Christian Right to a flaming frenzy.

Let's get this straight right now: if Terri Schiavo had been in a PVS, we would have been the first to advocate pulling the plug. Signs is pro-choice even if we are not crazy about the idea of abortions per se. We think that prevention is a better policy. But better to have an abortion than an unwanted child. Women have the right to decide if they will bear children or not. It's that simple.

But the point we want to make is this: It took a long time for an issue with such clear-cut lines to come along that gave us an accurate set of polling parameters with which to measure the facts regarding the real numbers of Americans who support BUSH & CO....

The fact is: when polls were taken asking if Americans approved of what the president and the congress had done regarding Terri Schiavo's pathetic plight, 82% DISAPPROVED.

Let me repeat that: EIGHTY TWO percent of Americans DISAPPROVED!

What does that tell us?

It tells us loud and clear that all of the religious right and radical right put together comprises a MINORITY of about 18% of the American People.

Yes indeed: the CULT getting all the press attention, the CULT that is destroying America by using it in an INSANE attempt to take over the World is, like Hitler's disciples, a MINORITY.

So, why don't we hear more about the REAL MAJORITY of Americans?

The problem is: The Zionist controlled Media.

Though Americans demonstrated against Bush and his war by the millions, nationwide, just last month, in more than 800 cities and towns from coast to coast, no one in America, let alone abroad, heard one word about it in the media.

America is NOT a Nation of Monsters like Phyllis Schlafly, Michael P. Farris, Edwin Vieira, Alan Keyes, Morton C. Blackwell; Roy Moore; and Tom DeLay.

America is a Nation being destroyed by Monsters who are supported by a small, lunatic fringe who get the media coverage.

Isn't that the same tactic that was used by Adolf Hitler? By Saddam Hussein?

ALL Americans are NOT the willing followers and supporters of Bush & Co. The Zionist controlled Media and the Zionist controlled Administration is setting America up to be hated by all the world. This global hatred is constantly being fueled and spread until it cannot be stopped, which is exactly what the Zionists controlling Bush & Co. want.

Americans who have Love and Empathy for all humanity and who are horrified to see what America has become must UNITE and form bonds of trust, communication, reason, common cause, and TRUTH that will help us to find the ways and means, as peacefully as possible, to get these psychopaths who are destroying America and other countries, who aim at nothing less than the ownership and destruction of the entire Earth, confined in a way and a place where they can never again do to humanity what they are doing now.

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Robert Fisk: Our presidents and prime ministers are poseurs. Where are the Great Men of today?
16 April 2005
UK Independent

Bush may think he is Churchill, but he cannot really compare himself to his dad, let alone to our Winston

Before Egyptian President Anwar Sadat set off for his journey to Jerusalem in 1977, he announced to the world that he did not intend to live "among the pygmies". This was tough on pygmies but there was no doubt what it revealed about Sadat. He thought he was a Great Man. History suggests he was wrong. His 1978 Camp David agreement with Menachem Begin of Israel brought the Sinai back under Egyptian control, but it locked Sadat's country into a cold peace and near-bankrupt isolation. He was finally called "Pharaoh", a description Sadat might have appreciated had it not been shouted by his murderers as they stormed his military reviewing stand in 1981.

The Middle East, of course, is awash with kings and dictators who are called - or like to imagine themselves - Great Men. Saddam Hussein thought he was Stalin - evil, unfortunately, is also for some a quality of greatness - while George Bush Senior thought Saddam was Hitler.

Eden claimed that Nasser, when he nationalised the Suez Canal in 1956, was the Mussolini of the Nile (though Mussolini was not Great, he thought he was).

Yasser Arafat claimed that Hashemite King Hussein of Jordan, when he died, was Saladin, the warrior who drove the Crusaders out of Palestine. The truth was that the Israelis had driven the Hashemites from Palestine. But Hussein was on "our" side and the Plucky Little King, when he died of cancer in 1999, was immortalised by President Clinton who said he was "already in heaven", a feat that went unequalled until Pope John Paul II made it to the same location before his funeral this month.

I listened to much of the tosh uttered about this hopelessly right-wing pontiff when he was dying, and read a good deal of the vitriol that was splashed on him a few days later. I agree with much of the latter. But he was the one prominent world figure - being of "world" importance is not necessarily a quality for greatness, but it helps - who stood up against President Bush's insane invasion of Iraq. With absolute resolution, he condemned and re-condemned the illegality of the assault on Iraq in a way that no other prominent churchman did. Good on yer, Pope, I remember saying at the time - and it would be churlish of me to forget this now. But a Great Man?

In truth, our world seems full of Little Men. Not just Sadat's "pygmies". Gaddafi may be a "statesman" in the eyes of our Trot of a foreign secretary - this was just before the Libyan dictator was found to be plotting the assassination of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia - but anyone who can seriously suggest that a joint Israeli-Palestinian state might be called "Israeltine" is clearly a candidate for the men in white coats. Indeed, it raises the question: are there any Great Men in the Middle East?

And, are there any Great Men in the world today?

Where - this is a question I've been asked by several readers recently - are the Churchills, the Roosevelts, the Trumans, the Eisenhowers, the Titos, the Lloyd Georges, the Woodrow Wilsons, the de Gaulles and Clemenceaus?

Our present band of poseur presidents and prime ministers cannot come close.

Bush may think he is Churchill - remember all that condemnation of Chamberlain's 1938 appeasement we had to suffer before we invaded Iraq? - but he cannot really compare himself to his dad, let alone our Winston.

Bush Junior looks like a nerd while his friends - Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest - actually look disreputable.

Chirac would like to be a Great Man but his problem is that he can be mocked - see France's equivalent of Spitting Image.

Blair has a worse impediment. He has become a mockery of himself, slowly assuming the role of his clergyman namesake in Private Eye - to the point where the latter simply became no longer funny. Blair's self-righteousness and self-regard would have earned him my Dad's ultimate put-down of all pretentious men: that he was a twerp. And my Dad, I should add, kept Churchill's portrait over the dining room fireplace.

Sacrifice obviously has something to do with it. To get bumped off for your good deeds - preferably "making peace", although many of those at work on the "peace" project seem to have spent a lot of time making war - is clearly a possible path to Greatness. Thus Sadat does have a chance. So does Yitzhak Rabin of Israel. And so, through sickness, King Hussein and - in more theatrical form - the last Pope, although my Mum died of the same illness with much less drama and pomp. Those who successfully fight their countries' occupiers get a look in; de Gaulle again, Tito again, maybe Ho Chi Minh but not, apparently, the leaders of the Algerian FLN and most definitely not the lads from the Lebanese Hizbollah. And we all know how Arafat went from being Superterrorist to Superstatesman and back to Super-terrorist again.

In the Middle East, I do have a soft spot for President Khatami of Iran. A truly decent, philosophical, morally good man, he was crushed by the political power of his clerical enemies set up by Ayatollah Khomeini. Khatami's "civil society" never materialised; had it blossomed, he might have been a Great Man. Instead, his life seems to be a tragedy of withered hope. I mention Khomeini and I fear we have to put him in the list. He lived the poverty of Gandhi, overthrew a vicious dictatorship and changed the history of the Middle East. That his country is now a necrocracy - government ruled by and for the dead - does not, sadly, change this.

Yet this raises another dark question? Why do we stop only a generation or two ago? Why stop at the First World War? Where now, we might ask, are the Duke of Wellingtons and the Napoleons, the Queen Elizabeths, the Richard the Lionhearts, and yes, the Saladins and the Caesars and the Genghis Khans?

Oddly, the list of Great Men doesn't usually include Gandhi, whom I would think an obvious candidate for all the right reasons. He was palpably a good man, a peaceful man, and freed his country from imperial rule and was assassinated.

Nelson Mandela would be among my candidates for all the obvious reasons (his objections to Bush not being the least of them). Nurse Edith Cavell - "patriotism is not enough" - who was shot by the Germans in the First World War, and Margaret Hassan, the supremely brave and selfless charity worker butchered in Iraq, must be in my list - proving, of course, that we should also ask: where are the Great Women of our age? Rachel Corrie, I'd say, the American girl who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer as she stood in its path to protect Palestinian homes in Gaza. And how about Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear whistleblower?

And yes, all the humble folk - little people, if you like - who did what they did, whatever the cost, not because they sought Greatness, but because they believed it was the right thing to do.

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Reports: Airport Security Hasn't Improved
By LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer
April 16, 2005

WASHINGTON - Security at U.S. airports is no better under federal control than it was before the Sept. 11 attacks, a key House member says two government reports will conclude.

The Government Accountability Office - the investigative arm of Congress - and the Homeland Security Department's inspector general are expected to soon release their findings on the performance of Transportation Security Administration screeners.

"A lot of people will be shocked at the billions of dollars we've spent and the results they're going to see, which confirm previous examinations of the Soviet-style screening system we've put in place," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., told The Associated Press on Friday.

Mica chairs the House aviation subcommittee and was briefed on the reports.

The TSA won't comment on the specifics of the reports until they are released, spokesman Mark Hatfield Jr. said. [...]

Comment: It will be interesting to read the findings on the performance of the TSA. We certainly don't expect anything to change for the better. There simply aren't enough people who really see what is going on in the US. If anything, the findings will be used to restructure or even eliminate the TSA (see next article) in order to centralize power in the hands of the Neocons and implement even more controls. The fact that it is all an obvious scam to clamp down on Americans' civil liberties will be quickly and easily swept under the carpet.

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Flashback: TSA slated for dismantling

White House asks agency's director to step down
By Sara Kehaulani Goo
11:32 p.m. ET April 7, 2005

The Transportation Security Administration, once the flagship agency in the nation's $20 billion effort to protect air travelers, is now slated for dismantling.

The latest sign came yesterday when the Bush administration asked David M. Stone, the TSA's director, to step down in June, according to aviation and government sources. Stone is the third top administrator to leave the three-year-old agency, which was swiftly created in the chaos and patriotism following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The TSA absorbed divisions of other agencies such as Federal Aviation Administration only to find itself now the victim of a massive reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security.

The TSA has been plagued by operational missteps, public relations blunders and criticism of its performance from both the public and legislators. Its "No Fly" list has mistakenly snared senators. Its security screeners have been arrested for stealing from luggage, and its passenger pat-downs have set off an outcry from women.

Under provisions of President Bush's 2006 budget proposal favored by Congress, the TSA will lose its signature programs in the reorganization of Homeland Security. The agency will likely become just manager of airport security screeners -- a responsibility that itself could diminish as private screening companies increasingly seek a comeback at U.S. airports. The agency's very existence, in fact, remains an open question, given that the legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security contains a clause permitting the elimination of TSA as "distinct entity" after November 2004. "TSA, at the end of the day, is going to look more like the Postal Service," said Paul C. Light, a public service professor at New York University and a Brookings Institution scholar who has tracked the agency since its birth in February 2002. Light calls the TSA "one of the federal government's greatest successes of the past half century," and likens it to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the late 1950s, which was also born amid great public excitement to serve an urgent national need.

More narrow role

But TSA's time in the spotlight is over and it should now step back to serve a more narrow role, Light said. "It's a labor-intensive delivery organization that is not going to be making many public policy decisions. Its basic job is to train and deploy screeners," he said.

Bush administration officials say they don't expect the demise of TSA, adding they will know little about the future of the agency until new Homeland Security Sec. Michael Chertoff completes his review of the department, which will likely prompt a major overhaul.

"TSA has taken significant steps to enhance the nation's transportation and aviation security over the course of the past two years and TSA continues to have the confidence, not only of nation's air travelers, but of departmental leadership, to continue in this important mission," said Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse. "Secretary Chertoff is open to adjustments in the way that DHS does business but will not advocate for or against any change until a thorough review of the changes are complete." The review is expected to be completed in May or June. The government has pumped more money into airline security than any other Homeland Security effort. Much of it goes toward salaries for more than 45,000 security screeners at over 400 airports. Travelers know TSA mostly by its operations at the airport security checkpoint, a highly public role that magnifies the agency's smallest blunders and often forces it to have to defend itself. [...]

Bit by bit, however, the agency's responsibilities have steadily dwindled amid a succession of directors. Many of its operations have been folded into the Department of Homeland Security, which it joined in 2003. TSA scrapped early plans to create a broad law-enforcement division. The air marshals, who lobbied to leave the agency, were transferred to the department's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division -- to the dismay of TSA leaders. Next, the explosives unit left. Now, the agency's high-tech research labs in Atlantic City are also going to another division of the department. [...]

'Selectee' list

Stone, 52, believes the exercise shows that TSA still serves a critical role in the nation's intelligence network. He has told new Homeland Security Sec. Michael Chertoff that he hopes the agency will keep this role. Airlines have complained that hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent passengers, and even pilots, have been added to TSA's "selectee" list or that some names are confused with those on the "No Fly" list, subjecting travelers to delays and hassles at the airport.

At a February meeting between TSA and 18 major carriers, airline representatives were asked who had crew members on the list and "they all raised their hands," said one airline source who was present. Airline officials said crew members on the list must be stripped of their badges and cannot perform their duties, according to TSA rules.

Stone said "one or two" pilots who are approved to carry guns in the cockpit have been put on the selectee list in the past year. He said he recalls a "handful" of other pilots who have been added to the selectee list because they were involved in "outrageous" incidents. He cited an incident last year in which an intoxicated pilot punched a patron at a restaurant and threatened him.

"We take all of these incidents seriously and we work to resolve them quickly because we know that people's livelihoods are at stake," said TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield. [...]

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NSA jobs to flow into San Antonio
L.A. Lorek
Express-News Business Writer
04/15/2005 12:00 AM CDT

TEXAS - The National Security Agency, the nation's cryptology branch, has leased the former Sony chip plant in Northwestern Bexar County and plans to hire at least 1,500 employees, NSA officials said Thursday.

Even more jobs could be added as the site develops in several phases, according to the NSA.

Nationwide, the NSA is hiring up to 4,500 employees through 2008 and some of those employees will be located here, according to an e-mail message from Ellen Cioccio, an NSA spokeswoman.

The NSA already has about 2,000 people at Lackland AFB's Medina Annex.

In addition, a group of experienced analysts will transfer from NSA's Fort Meade, Md., headquarters to San Antonio. They will be here to train the military and new civilian employees, Cioccio said.

One of the government's most secretive branches, the NSA, whose agents are known as the code breakers and the code makers, performs foreign intelligence gathering, analysis and reporting missions supporting combat commanders and national level decision makers in the United States and abroad.

The San Antonio NSA office includes personnel from the Army, Marine Corps., Navy, Air Force and the civilian Defense Department.

"NSA is expanding its presence in San Antonio as part of our transformation efforts and as a result of the lessons learned from our global war on terrorism experiences," according to Cioccio.

San Antonio beat out sites in Georgia and Hawaii for the NSA expansion project. San Antonio was chosen because the NSA already has a large, growing presence here. [...]

The new NSA site, at Loop 410 and Military Drive, consists of two connected buildings that contain office and research and development space totaling about 475,000 square feet. Those buildings could be expanded by several thousand more square feet.

In addition, Office Properties Trust plans to buy 43 more acres around the 50-acre Sony Campus. The campus has the ability to accommodate three more buildings and its developers eventually expect the site to exceed 1 million square feet, making it the city's second largest office park after USAA's headquarters on the North Side.

The developers need to do some remodeling to the site to accommodate the NSA operations, which are expected to begin moving in this fall. [...]

The site will be a major intelligence campus of the NSA and one of the largest campuses outside of Fort Meade, where the NSA has between 20,000 and 30,000 employees and operates like a small city.

The NSA must expand outside of Washington because they've run out of room at their current site, Bamford said. The San Antonio site will also help diversify the agency and not make them as vulnerable in the event of an attack, he said. [...]

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Wall Street stocks suffers worst single day in two years 2005-04-16 06:11:45

NEW YORK, April 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Wall Street stocks suffered their worst single day on Friday in about two years as investors deeply concerned about the nation's economy and corporate earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 191.24 points, or 1.86percent, to 10,087.51 points. The Dow fell 125 points Thursday and 104 points Wednesday. The broader market also ended lower. The Nasdaq composite index declined 38.56 points, or 1.98 percent, to 1,908.15 points, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 19.43 points, or 1.67 percent, to 1,142.62 points.

For the week, the Dow fell 3.57 percent, the S&P 500 shed 3.27 percent, and the Nasdaq dropped 4.56 percent. The three major gauges were also at their lowest points of 2005, with the Dow falling 6.45 percent, the Nasdaq down 12.29 percent and the S&P losing 5.72 percent.

A disappointing industrial growth report triggered Friday's sell-off. The Federal Reserve said the nation's overall industrial production rose 0.3 percent in March, up from 0.2 percent in February, but the increase came only from utility production due to a colder-than-expected month, and manufacturing and other industrial sectors showed losses for the first time in six months. Investors worried that higher energy and materials costs were affecting manufacturing growth.

Meanwhile, International Business Machine Corp.(IBM) reported lower-than-expected earnings, which led to the widespread fears that technology spending would be substantially worse than expected this year.

Among Friday's gainers were Citigroup Inc., which rose 35 cents to 45.75 dollars after beating analysts' expectations for its quarterly profits, and General Electric Co. climbed 25 cents to 35.75 dollars after the company posted a 25 percent rise in first-quarter profits.

However, IBM tumbled 6.94 dollars to 76.60 dollars after missing market's forecasts for its quarterly earnings. IBM was also the biggest loser on the Dow.

On the NYSE, declining stocks outnumbered advancers about 4 to 1, and the trading volume was 2.18 billion shares.

In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.2907 dollars from 1.2827 and the British pound climbed to 1.8914 dollars from 1.8818 late Thursday. The dollar was traded at 107.76 dollars, down from 108.12, 1.2015 Swiss francs, down from 1.2124, and 1.2475 Canadian dollars, up from 1.2417.

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By James P. Tucker Jr.
American Free Press

The Internal Revenue Service is reeling under the tax rebellion, as unpaid taxes reach $300 billion,according to outraged tax collectors.

Do-It-Yourself Tax Cuts: The Crisis in U.S. Tax Enforcement by economist Max Sawicky found the tax rebellion "encompasses about 15 percent of all taxes owed to the government - or about one dollar of every six owed in individual and corporate taxes."

Unfortunately, Sawicky views this news as bad.

Most of the unpaid taxes - at least $250 billion of the total $300 billion - results from taxpayers either underreporting income or claiming too many deductions, he said. About $30 billion of the unpaid total is from nonfiling and another $32 billion results from underpayment.

Individuals in the so-called tax honesty movement account for the lion's share, the report found. Underreporting of individual income accounts for $150 billion to $187 billion in unpaid taxes, while another $30 billion is from underreported corporate income, $66 billion to $71 billion from payroll taxes, and $4 billion from death and excise taxes.

"The tax enforcement system has become so dysfunctional that it is now its own worst enemy," Sawicky said.

Many Americans "are dealing themselves a do-it-yourself tax cut."

Sawicky and others called for more funding for IRS enforcement efforts.

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Americans yearn for simpler taxes as deadline passes
Saturday April 16, 3:31 PM

Clutching bulging envelopes with paperwork they had spent hours to compile, thousands of Americans performed the yearly ritual of rushing to the nearest post office to beat the dreaded midnight deadline for filing their tax returns.

The traditional last-minute scramble, which forces the postal service to put up for one night with very "unpostal hours," marked the end of a three-and-a- half-month tax collection period designed to bring the US treasury about two trillion dollars in revenue. [...]

As usual, there was no shortage of complaints about the US tax system being unwieldy and tilted toward serving the interests of the rich.

But in an unusual break with tradition, this year the chorus of those disaffected was joined by none other than Treasury Secretary John Snow, who insisted that the US tax code "has grown larger, bulkier, more burdensome and lethargic with every passing year."

"The code is so filled with loopholes, exceptions and lengthy explanations that individuals and businesses spend more than six billion hours every year on paperwork and other tax headaches," Snow complained in an online chat with taxpayers.

According to government figures, the yearly ritual now costs the country roughly 130 billion dollars, nearly two-thirds of which are being forked over by individual taxpayers who spend hundreds of dollars on lawyers, professional tax preparers, software packages and other devices to give Uncle Sam his due.

On average, it took every American about 25 hours this year to prepare his or her tax return, the statistics show.

So far, President George W. Bush, who last year campaigned for re-election on the promise to simplify the US tax system, has not formally endorsed any of the proposals bandied around by experts and pundits inside and outside the US capital. [...]

The United States has a progressive tax system that establishes six various tax rates for people with various income levels, with 35 percent being the highest and 10 percent the lowest.

Some have suggested the country's economy would be better served by a flat tax rate of 15 or 17 percent that would apply to everybody. [...]

Setting a good example, the White House reported Friday that the president and First Lady Laura Bush had already paid 207,307 dollars in federal income taxes this year on income of 672,788 dollars coming mainly from Bush's salary and the couple's investments.

Vice President Richard Cheney and his wife made nearly twice as much, reporting 1,328,678 dollars in income last year -- and 393,518 dollars in federal taxes.

Curiously, the vice president's take included 194,852 dollars paid to him by Texas-based oil service company Halliburton accused of receiving lucrative no-bid contracts in Iraq and of overcharging the US government.

Cheney, who served as Halliburton's chief executive from 1995 to 2000, has a deferred compensation arrangement with the firm.

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G7 Officials Say World Can Adapt to Higher Oil
Glenn Somerville
April 16, 2005

WASHINGTON - The world must adjust to persistently high energy prices, according to finance chiefs from rich nations who met on Friday amid financial market unease about the global expansion's durability. [...]

Energy costs were a key topic for talks that resume Saturday morning while a stepped-up Bush administration campaign to get China to scrap its currency's tight tie to the U.S. dollar would be an important sub-text.

A British Treasury official said pricey oil would "dominate" the talks. "It is one of the biggest risks to the economic outlook," the official said.

Germany's Finance Minister Hans Eichel agreed, saying the global economic situation looked worse than "half a year ago."

But U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow told Bloomberg television the G7 was preparing for an era of more costly energy and could handle recent rises that topped $58 a barrel before falling back to around $50.

"These prices are out of line and I'm confident there will be adaptations to these prices, both in terms of the supply side and the demand side," Snow said. [...]

European G7 sources and Japanese officials agreed that ministers would talk about readying the world to live with permanently costlier energy.

There was palpable concern in financial markets as the G7 members gathered. Economic worries sent the Dow Jones industrial average skidding 191.24 points to end at 10,087.51. [...]

Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui said economies need to get used to costlier oil.

"We may be at a turning point where policies in industrialized economies must focus on boosting productivity while emerging economies must use resources more efficiently," he told reporters.

The G7 is made up of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Not present but on everyone's minds was China -- by some measures already the second-largest economy in the world -- since the G7 badly wants Beijing to modify its currency regime to curb the huge trade deficit in the United States. [...]

The issue of debt relief for the world's poorest nations, a thorny patch at the last G7 gathering in February when Britain and the United States clashed about how to proceed, is expected to again generate heat but little light.

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Bank says Saudi's top field in decline
By Adam Porter in Perpignan, France
Tuesday 12 April 2005, 13:52 Makka Time, 10:52 GMT

Speculation over the actual size of Saudi Arabia's oil reserves is reaching fever pitch as a major bank says the kingdom's - and the world's - biggest field, Gharwar, is in irreversible decline.

The Bank of Montreal's analyst Don Coxe, working from their Chicago office, is the first mainstream number-cruncher to say that Gharwar's days are fated.

Coxe uses the phrase "Hubbert's Peak" to describe the situation. This refers to the seminal geologist M King Hubbert, who predicted the unavoidable decline of oilfields back in the 1950s.

"The combination of the news that there's no new Saudi Light coming on stream for the next seven years plus the 27% projected decline from existing fields means Hubbert's Peak has arrived in Saudi Arabia," says Coxe, referring to data compiled by the International Energy Association's (IEA) August 2004 monthly report.

Problematic effects

The Canadian bank is the latest in a line of oil opinion-makers to speak out about.

Others, notably banker Matt Simmons and the head of the Association for the study of Peak Oil (Aspo), Colin Campbell, have called into question the validity of its stated reserves, supposedly 258 billion barrels.

If Gharwar, the world's biggest field, is seen to be in decline, as Coxe says, the effects could be problematic. Markets could panic, forcing prices up, creating shortages and profoundly affecting the world economy.

"The kingdom's decline rate will be among the world's fastest as this decade wanes," predicts Coxe. "Most importantly, Hubbert's Peak must have arrived for Gharwar, the world's biggest oilfield."

Coxe dismisses Saudi claims that the country can produce extra capacity to satisfy surging demand. He notes that Saudi promises to increase production last year failed to materialise. Aramco had pledged an extra 500,000 barrels of oil immediately and an extra 5 million bpd by 2012.

He says the markets had "assumed this first flow would be a half million barrels daily of the benchmark Saudi Light, the high-end product that any oil refinery can process. Instead ... the new oil was heavy, sulphurous oil that only a few refineries had the spare capacity to use".

Continuing, he asks: "What about those 5mbpd of new production by 2012? It turned out that only 2.5 million barrels would be net additions to Saudi output: Declines from existing fields will slash production by 2.5 million bpd."

Saudi response

Saudi Aramco's chief executive officer Abd Allah Jumaa denies anything of the sort is happening.

"We have ambitious expansion plans to boost our capacity ... [and] raise our production capacity to 15 million barrels a day... We are confident that we can maintain these production rates for about half a century"

Saudi Aramco's chief executive officer Abd Allah Jumaa
"We have ambitious expansion plans to boost our capacity to 12 million bpd and also have a long-term crude development scenario that would raise our production capacity to 15 million barrels a day. We are confident that we can maintain these production rates for about half a century," he says.

However, Campbell noted that in 1990 Saudi Arabia, along with other Opec producing countries, notably Kuwait, revised their reserve estimates overnight.

This was in order to pump more oil as part of Opec's quota arrangement. The more reserves you claimed to have, the more money you made.

Same reserves

Saudi Arabia announced "a massive increase from 170 to 258gb in 1990. It had evidently decided to follow Kuwait's practice of reporting original, not remaining reserves," Campbell says.

Since that time, despite pumping around 9mbpd, Saudi Aramco says the size of its reserves have not only remained the same but increased slightly from 258gb to 259gb thanks to better extraction techniques.

However, Simmons believes Gharwar, responsible for about 5mbpd of Saudi output, may have been damaged by poor management.

Pumping large amounts of oil at the maximum rate can damage the geological structure of the field, usually referred to as "rate sensitivity". Basically the hole falls in on itself, making large amounts of oil within it un-extractable.

Lack of transparency

The rising speculation among analysts may ultimately be the fault of the Saudis. The lack of outside independent scrutiny has created space for sceptics such as Coxe to question their facts and figures.

In 2005 alone, the OECD, the G7, the IEA and the IMF have all openly called for increased transparency over oil reserve calculations, mainly from Middle Eastern states.

The market cannot hope to understand its current position without knowing how much oil lies in reserve. This is at the heart of much of the current oil market's problems.

But Coxe's figures may even be on the sympathetic side. According to Saudi Aramco's own statistics, existing Saudi fields deplete by 600,000 to 800,000bpd each year. If such levels are maintained until 2012, Saudi depletion will have reached a minimum of 4.2mbpd.

Water injection

In other words - by their own admission - Saudi Arabia will have added only 800,000bpd of supply in the next seven years. That is the best-case scenario.

To put these rates into context, the IEA predicts a year-on-year rise of 1.6mbpd by the fourth quarter of 2005.

One factor contributing to the scrutiny the Gharwar field faces is the huge amount of water injection used. Water is pumped into an ageing oilfield in order to maintain high pressure inside.

This allows the oil to be pumped out at the original constant rate. Eventually, however, the water reaches the well-head, and the field effectively dies.

Coxe goes on to ask why new Saudi fields, not just ageing ones, are also water injected.

"As if that weren't bad enough news, the Saudis claim they need at least $32 a barrel to justify new production, because ... new production ... requires water flooding. Water flooding on newborn Saudi wells? Isn't water flooding [the] Viagra of ageing wells?"

Abd Allah on the other hand states that it is modern techniques, not water injection, that will let Aramco meet any future demand.

"We are confident that we can extend [our] success well into the future given continued advances in exploration and production technologies and the fact that vast relatively unexplored areas exist in the kingdom with potential hydrocarbons to be discovered."

Canada oil link

While the Bank of Montreal weighing in on the prospects of Gharwar depletion is noteworthy, it should be pointed out that the bank is financially involved with the Albertan oil sand deposits.

The Albertan "sands" are deposits of sticky oil and sand, traditionally too costly to extract, which are now receiving great attention as conventional oil prices rise.

Coxe is extremely bullish on prospects of companies working in Alberta.

"The Alberta oil sands companies aren't like other oil companies," he says.

These companies are, of course, potential alternatives to Saudi oil. But Coxe ends up painting a bleak picture.

"With Opec's excess capacity ... tapped out, oil consumers have lost their security blanket against petro-chills. Free markets ... can be messy and unpredictable, little people can get hurt."

As debate over Gharwar intensifies, pressure on Saudi Arabia to independently reveal its actual size will come from many sources.

Now, for the first time, a major bank has joined that chorus. The arguments over the world's biggest oilfield are set to stay.

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Oil Reserves Are Increasing
by George Crispin
April 6, 2005

Eugene Island is an underwater mountain located about 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1973 oil was struck and off-shore platform Eugene 330 erected. The field began production at 15,000 barrels a day, then gradually fell off, as is normal, to 4,000 barrels a day in 1989, Then came the surprise; it reversed itself and increased production to 13,000 barrels a day. Probable reserves have been increased to 400 million barrels from 60 million. The field appears to be filling from below and the crude coming up today is from a geological age different from the original crude, which leads to the speculation that the world has limitless supplies of petroleum.

This really interested some scientists. Thomas Gold, astronomer and professor emeritus of Cornell held for years that oil is actually renewable primordial syrup continually manufactured by the earth under ultra hot conditions and tremendous pressures. This substance migrates upward picking up bacteria that attack it making it appear to have an organic origin, i.e., come from dinosaurs and vegetation. As best I have found so far Russian scientists support his position, at least that petroleum is of primordial origin. There is now plenty of evidence around proving the presence of methane in our universe. It is easy to see it as a part of the formation of the earth. Under the right conditions of temperature and pressure, it converts to more complex hydrocarbons.

Roger Andersen, an oceanographer and executive director of Columbia's Energy Research Center proposed studying the behavior of this reservoir. The underwater landscape around Eugene Island is weird, cut with faults and fissures that belch gas and oil. The field is operated by PennzEnergy Co. Andersen proposed to study the action of the sea bottom around the mountain and the field at its top and persuaded the U S Dept of Energy to ante up ten million which was matched by a consortium of oil giants including Chevron, Exxon, and Tex Corp. This work began about the time 3-D seismic technology was introduced to oil exploration. Anderson was able to stack 3D images resulting in a 4D image that showed the reservoir in 3 spatial dimensions and enabled researchers to track the movement of oil. Their most stunning find was a deep fault at a bottom corner of the computer scan that showed oil literally gushing in. "We could see the stream," says Andersen. "It wasn't even debated that it was happening."

Work continued for five years until funds ran out and they were unable to continue. With the world having 40 years of proven reserves in hand it is difficult to interest the major oil producers in much exploration, let alone something done merely for research, and so far from the current accepted theory of a fossil origin for oil.

Similar occurrences have been seen at other Gulf Of Mexico fields, at the Cook Inlet oil field, at oil fields in Uzbekistan, and it is possible this accounts for the longevity of the Saudi Arabian fields where few new finds have been made, yet reserves have doubled while the fields have been exploited mercilessly for 50 years.

Not only can the doom and gloomers not show us running out of the natural resources we recycle, but now there appears to be good odds of a limitless supply of petroleum working its way up to where we can capture it.

A caveat: Gold's theory is not yet accepted by all scientists, probably all the more reason to trust it.

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The Secret Relationship Between Israel and Oil: What the US Media Hides
by Wendy Campbell
Oct. 5, 2004

I have found that there is nothing more inspiring than taking a trip, especially to a foreign country where I leave behind my daily routine, including e-mails and the internet, to get to think outside the box and to get a chance to write down my thoughts.

The moment of inspiration for me to start writing this article on my latest trip (to Baja Mexico) came moments after I stepped into the Alaska Airlines jet and picked up the complimentary issue of The Wall Street Journal. Generally I avoid mainstream media these days since I know it is mostly pro-Israel propaganda as well as blown-up sensationalist stories, such as the case of Scott Peterson, which are meant to distract people from the more important issues of our time, such as the US foreign policy, for example.

The article in the Wall Street Journal, dated September 21, 2004, that rankled me into finally writing this article, which has been brewing in my mind for some time, was one by Jeffrey Ball entitled "As Prices Soar, Doomsayers Provoke Debate on Oil's Future". The sub-title was: "In a 1970's echo, Dr. Campbell (no relation to me!) Warns Supply Is Drying Up, but Industry Isn't Worried".

Now let me explain to you that I have already come to the conclusion a while ago that this controversy about the "shortage of oil" is being pushed forward by mostly pro-Israel forces for their own narrow agenda that has nothing to do with the vast majority of the American people's interests.

Even in this article, it is explained that: "Dr. Campbell is at the center of a small but suddenly influential band of contrarians known as the "peak oil movement". Their general thesis is that the world is running out of oil and quickly. They have been saying this for years, yet most experts believe that there is no need for panic, noting that new sources are constantly being discovered. Some experts even claim that oil supplies are self- renewing.


Is it a coincidence that Dr. Campbell is "suddenly influential"? No, it is not. Even the Wall Street Journal is playing into the game of making Dr. Campbell "suddenly influential" with this article.

Why is the US media pushing Dr. Campbell, a man who lives in a tiny Irish village, into the limelight? Because the media, which is run by pro-Israel forces, want people like Dr. Campbell to be in the limelight is why.

And you may ask, why is that? Well, because Dr. Campbell's views help support the pro-Israel agenda of that other "suddenly influential band of contrarians", known as the NeoConservatives. The NeoConservatives are mostly Zionist Jews, headed by Paul Wolfowitz, who qualify as Israeli-Americans, and who are now openly directing US foreign policy almost completely. Christian Zionists such as Bush and Cheney have jumped on their bandwagon. Of course, it looks even more convincing when a non-Jew such as Dr. Campbell, puts forward claims that will lend support to the pro-Israel agenda.

People whose voices the US media wants you to hear will be heard. Conversely, people whose voices and actions the US media want to hide, will go into the memory hole. It's only an illusion that we have a free and democratic press here in the US. Personally, I think it's about time to press for the right to vote for affirmative action laws with regards to specifically the US mass media and our US foreign policy department, both of which have a hugely disproportional percentage of Israeli-Americans in them.

The over-representation of Israeli-Americans in US newsrooms tends to undermine journalistic integrity. When the news media consistently manipulates public sensibilities with a bias favoring a foreign country such as Israel, American democratic values and institutions are compromised, as well as Americans' ability to objectively and independently access the situation. America needs more non-Zionists (ie. people ineligible for Israeli citizenship) in high news and government positions to safeguard our own national interests against foreign interests. Whoever shapes public opinion has an unfair advantage politically. It serves as the government's propaganda mouthpiece, but only when the government does as the media wants. Conversely, it has to power to bring politicians down who are not pro-Israel enough, often simply by ignoring them or by pulling out something unsavory from his or her dossier to suddenly put into the limelight. It works kind of like blackmail, actually.

The news establishment is termed by some to be "The Fourth Estate", meaning the fourth branch of American government, after the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. This mighty, and in many ways, secretive, consolidated collection of media networks manages the American mind, shaping public opinion. American public opinion is the world's second most powerful super-power, but it's too bad that it is managed by the narrow interests of the elite controllers of the "free" and "democratic" media. Thank God for the internet, although "they" are franticly trying to control this last bastion of liberty as well.


First of all, I'm sure many of you are aware of the notion put out there by political pundits (who are most likely pro-Israel) that the US somehow needs Israel in the Middle East to be its stationary "aircraft carrier" to act as the "tough cop" looking out for American interests in that region, specifically with regards to oil.

Let me ask you these few revealing questions.

When has Israel EVER sent any troops in to lend us a hand in ANY war the US has waged in the Middle East? Pretty amazing, especially when you consider that any wars the US has waged on the Middle East has been at the prodding of Israel and Israeli-Americans, particularly the NeoConservatives.

Have you ever noticed that gas is actually cheaper than bottled water?

Have you noticed or read the reports that the price of gas has not risen in keeping with inflation? Adjusted for inflation, gasoline today would have to sell for around $3.50 a gallon to the match prices Americans paid in 1981. And this does not factor in the additional savings in consumption we enjoy since today's cars get nearly twice the gas mileage of cars produced only 25 years ago.

Do you realize that the Arab world needs to sell its oil even more than we need to buy it from them?

Did you know the US gets oil from many other countries including Mexico, Venezuela, Canada, etc. besides a few Middle Eastern countries? Actually, both Russia and Canada supply the US with quantities of oil comparable to Saudi Arabia. And what about the fact that there are more and more discoveries of new oil resources throughout the world? And that many geologists say that oil is actually a renewable resource? Even this Wall Street Journal article that sparked my writing this article gave many examples of how geologists scoff at Dr. Campbell's prediction of an "oil crisis" looming ahead.

Even in Michael Moore's Arab-bashing, misleading, "daring" documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11", he made it clear that the Saudis are heavily invested in some sectors of American business, and that the Saudis are and always have been very cooperative with the US government, with the exception of the "oil crisis" of 1973, which I will discuss later in this article. It is well- known that the despotic Saudi government caters to the US government, so much in fact that the Saudi government is not popular with a vast majority of its own people, who see their government as selling out to the American government, which supports Israel's brutal persecution of the Palestinian people. In fact, the Saudi government risks being overthrown by its own people because of their government's relationship with the US. Osama bin Laden was thrown out of his country Saudi Arabia, his assets frozen in banks there, and he was ex-communicated from his family, because he advocates the overthrowing of the Saudi government for cooperating with the imperialistic, materialistic, Zionist-dominated US government, which has thousands of American troops stationed on Saudi soil, a key sticking point with bin Laden.

By the way, did you notice how Michael Moore didn't even mention the word "Israel"? Or "Zionism"? Or even "NeoConservatism" in his documentary? Not surprising. His agent is top Hollywood Jewish Zionist Ari Emmanuel whose brother is Rahm Emmanuel, who served in the Carter administration, and is currently a hyper pro-Israel senator in Illinois.

Another interesting note about Moore's documentary: he even pointed out how none of the Saudis could reap any financial benefits from the war on Iraq, unlike American companies such as Halliburton. So his whole Arab-bashing approach basically backfires. It shows how cowardly Moore is in the face of Zionist Hollywood, not to mention how greedy he obviously is to go for the big bucks, which toeing the Zionist line assures anyone in the worlds of US media and politics. It's ever so convenient and "somehow" politically "acceptable" to scapegoat Arabs and Muslims in Zionist Hollywood and US media.

Consider this as well: does it make any sense whatsoever to spend over $200 BILLION on the war on Iraq to get control of Iraqi oil for US interests? Especially when we could easily buy it, if we needed to? Not to mention the war's cost in human lives and alienating much of the world in the process? The "War for Oil (for US interests)" fable is a completely ridiculous and outrageous lie!


What is the connection between Israel and Arab oil, and where does the US fit into this picture?

First of all, the ethno-centric Jewish state of Israel is a small, resource- poor country, with no natural oil resources, and is almost completely dependent on US support in the form of not only massive financial support (billions of US tax dollars yearly) but US military and political cover as well. Israel, quite simply, would not survive as the apartheid, imperialistic, war-mongering Jewish state that it is, without the massive support of the US government. Israel is surrounded by well-deserved, self- made enemies thanks to the initial injustice of the UN unilaterally giving away Arab land that was not theirs to give away in the first place to Eastern European Zionist Jews who have been committing ethnic cleansing and persecution of the indigenous non-Jewish Palestinians ever since 1948. Since that time, Israel has continued to aggressively steal even more Arab land and has blatant ambitions to control the entire Middle East, using the power and might of the United States.

If more Americans were truly aware of how racist and imperialistic Israel is, they would most likely demand that our government stop supporting Israel at all until it is transformed into a true democracy for all regardless of religion, race or gender, as the world pressured South Africa to transform from an apartheid country to a true democracy ten years ago. If more Americans knew how support of Israel increases anti-American sentiment worldwide and ensures endless unjust wars, they might very well question their government's support of Israel. There are many reasons for Americans to question their government's support of Israel including first and foremost for real financial and security concerns as well as our country's hard-won reputation as a democracy for all, regardless of religion, race or gender.

The fact is that the pro-Israel, Zionist-dominated US media very rarely even mentions the topic of Israel outside of incidents that involve Palestinian suicide bombers, which then make the screaming front page headlines. The footage of the aftermath of such an attack is played over and over again, back to back on ZNN (oops! I meant to write CNN!) and Fox News and all the other US media. These isolated attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers are thus over-reported while the context in which these desperate acts occur is usually completely ignored. The on-going brutal persecution of the non- Jewish Palestinian people, including the killing of innocent civilians and children, since 1948 by the Israeli army goes almost totally unreported and is generally veiled from view by the American public.


Most Americans don't even know what Zionism is. In a nutshell, it is a racist, nationalistic, political ideology conceived by Theodor Hertzl, an Austrian Jew in the 1890s, that maintains that there must be a Jewish state in Palestine, although that means and always has meant policies of ethnic-cleansing, apartheid and general persecution of the indigenous non-Jews of that land, the Arab Muslim and Christian Palestinians. In a nutshell, advocates of this racist Zionist ideology are driving our US foreign policy. What ever happened to separation of synagogue/ church and state? Isn't it time to openly discuss this? Why are double standards allowed for Israel and for Zionists?

However the US media does not want Americans to even think about these things, never mind discuss them! Certainly, the pro-Israel media does not want Americans to question our government's support of Zionist Israel. That is why there is never any mention in mainstream US media of the Israeli connection to 9-11, to the war on Iraq, to the so-called "war on terror", and to the subject of Israel's quest for oil. This intentional covering up by the Zionized US media of the Israeli connection to anything that impacts the US negatively has been going on for decades.


And nothing proves to me that the US media has been covering for Israel and still covers for Israel (refusing to show the negative effect for Americans of the US government's "special relationship" with Israel) more than this article about the "oil crisis". Here is a specific case in point:

Does anyone remember that time during 1973 when there was such an "oil crisis" that there were really long lines at all the gas stations and when gas was actually rationed out at the gas stations so that you could only get gas every other day, depending on whether or not your license plate ended in an even or an odd number?

I do remember that time vividly. I didn't know why it was happening at the time, but I know exactly why now. And it's not because I got "enlightened" by the pro-Israel US media.

Here is how this Sept. 21, 2004 Wall Street Journal article by Jeffrey Ball (who obviously passed the required litmus test of being pro-Israel enough to work in the US media) presented the "oil crisis" of 1973, in such a manner that still puts a veil of the Israeli connection to that event even today. Here is a direct quote:

"Then in 1973, the Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) tightened their spigots, and the world panicked. The result: high prices, long lines and frequent shortages at gas stations across the U.S. and Europe."

There was exactly no mention of the context of why OPEC "tightened their spigots" in 1973. No mention at all.

Are you ready for the Israeli connection to this crisis that is almost uniformly covered up by the pro-Israel US media?

Here it is: In 1973, Egypt went to war against Israel in order to win back the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had stolen six years earlier in Israel's infamous pre-emptive "Six Day War" in 1967 against her neighboring countries.

In that pre-emptive 1967 war, Israel not only stole the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, but also part of southern Lebanon, which Israel has since relinquished, and the Golan Heights from Syria, which is still being occupied to this day by Israeli forces, as well as The Palestinian Territories: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, now generally referred to as The Occupied Territories. Pro-Israel forces generally prefer to refer to the Occupied Territories as the "disputed territories".

Egypt appeared to be winning its retaliatory war against Israel in 1973, so Golda Meir, the American-Israeli Prime Minister of Israel at the time, worked with American-Israeli Henry Kissinger to pressure the US government to come to Israel's rescue, which it did.

Therefore in a show of solidarity with Egypt, the Arab countries of OPEC "tightened their spigots" of gas and oil for export to the U.S.

There you have it: the real reason for the "oil crisis" of 1973. But the pro- Israel US media does not want Americans to realize that support for Israel has many negative effects on the lives of Americans, which includes potential politically induced "oil crises", such as was obviously the case in 1973.

Pro-Israel forces in this country and around the world want to minimize the power of Arab countries which is mostly due to their oil resources. Therefore the pro-Israel forces are relying on the US government to directly control these resources primarily for Israel via wars, campaign contributions and a manipulative media. Pro-Israel people detest going to the gas station, because every time they pump gas into their cars, they angrily believe they are helping Arab Muslims ("terrorists"), whose land and resources Zionists view somehow as rightfully theirs. But of course, they don't want the non-Zionist or unaware-of-it-all Americans to resent their US government's support for Israel which can possibly mean paying more for gas in a future politically induced "oil crisis", as it did in 1973.

Another example of the Israelization of America: have you been to the airports lately? The kinds of procedures at the US airports that you have been experiencing lately have always been the "norm" in Israel. This is a prime example of how Israel's "war on terror" has SOMEHOW become America's "war on terror" and how it directly impacts the lives of Americans. The "war on terror" is NOT about democracy. It's an imperialistic war which will have no end if the Zionists (anyone who is pro-Israel) have their way, because it is unjust and breaks International Laws.

There is another aspect of the Israeli connection to the war on Iraq, which many people wish to believe is all about oil for the US, rather than the Zionist ideology that is actually the driving force behind the push for a war on the entire Middle East, which began with Afghanistan, and moved onward to Iraq, and threatens to expand to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and even Syria, which is not an oil exporting country (which just goes to show once again: it's not just about the oil!)


The fact that American-Israelis in our government are endeavoring to use the war on Iraq as a way for Israel to gain control over oil in the Middle East is rarely reported in the Zionized mainstream US mass media, however it has been reported in Jewish newspapers with Jewish readership as well as in Israeli papers.

A case in point is the fact that American-Israelis in our government want to "re-open" or re-instate, the pipeline that used to exist between Iraq and Palestine, which is now specifically Haifa, Israel. When Israel was created in 1948, that pipeline was re-directed by Iraq to Syria. Now pro-Israel forces are actively seeking to cut off the pipeline to Syria and re-direct it to Haifa, Israel. For more information on this, please do a Google-search using such keywords such as "Iraq oil pipeline to Haifa Israel" and see what you come up with, or check out this link here.

Just as Israel's connection to the war on Iraq has been kept out of the US mainstream mass media (as you may have noticed, Israel has not even been mentioned as one of our "allies" in the war on Iraq !), this choice nugget of information with regards to Israel's ambition to get a basically free supply of Iraqi oil is also kept out of view for the vast American public consumption.

I could go on about all this (and, yes, there is much more) but I will stop here.

You get the picture, I hope. You won't get it from the Zionized US mainstream media.

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Book Review by Wendy Campbell:

"By Way of Deception" by Victor Ostrovsky, ex-Mossad agent
Marwen Media

6/3/04 Victor Ostrovsky, author of "By Way of Deception", was a high-ranking member of the Mossad, Israel's ultra-secret intelligence department similar to the CIA, for several years before his sudden departure due to finding himself the fall guy for an embarrassing oversight by his superiors. He left Israel disillusioned, even disgusted, to return to his country of birth, Canada, and then courageously penned the extraordinary account of his experience while working for the Mossad. Ostrovsky's revelations about the duplicitous-often criminal-activities of the Mossad, is an exceptionally interesting read, especially for anyone who has become suspicious of the United States' unconditional support of Zionist apartheid state of Israel.

In 1990, the government of Israel tried in vain to prevent this book from being published, as it includes surprisingly detailed accounts of the Mossad's nefarious deeds, such as the many "false flag" operations (committing crimes and then making it look like others were responsible, such as Palestinian militants, for Israel's political advantage), extensive espionage inside the United States, extra-judicial assassinations around the world, just to name a few.

Recent Israeli Spy Activity in the U.S.

The subject of the Mossad and general Israeli espionage is quite relevant now that there are more and more reports coming out about the apparent abundance of Israeli spies in the U.S, allegedly more than from any other country. For instance, by now most Americans, who follow politics at all, know about the Israeli spies detained around 9-11, especially the ones known as the "dancing Israeli spies"(do a Google search).

Lately there are even reports about the FBI investigating some of the NeoCons such as Perle, who is Israeli-American, with regards to the Chalabi and other related issues with regards to the false information about WMD and an alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda used as excuses to lead the US to the pre-emptive and unnecessary war on Iraq. There now are also reports about the Mossad connection with regards to the torture and prisoner abuse at the now infamous Iraqi jail Abu Ghraib. It's all getting rather murky, this American-Israeli "connection" whereby American troops are being "taught" by Israeli military on various "techniques" and "methods" of fighting the so-called "war on terror".

There have also been recent reports of the questionable activities of Israeli spies being caught in the U.S. including one that is especially troubling. First reported in the Jacksonville-Florida Times-Union newspaper on May 22, 2004, two Israeli spies were detained for questioning by the FBI for trying to get access into nuclear submarine base in Georgia, near the site of the upcoming three-day G-8 Summit. The week before in Tennessee, two Israeli spies were arrested in a rural area where nothing exists except for two active nuclear power plants, and a third under construction. During a high-speed chase, it was reported that the Israelis were seen throwing things out of the window including a bottle, which tests later revealed contained a mixture of Astromid 18, Gluconic acid and water, perhaps "an agent for growing some kind of bug" according to a chemist who spoke with Mad Cow Morning News. (

Is there possibly a "false flag" operation being planned by the Mossad in the US right now? Just think of what the US media's headlines would be if the Israeli spies stealthily caused a big explosion at the G-8 Summit or anywhere else for that matter. There'd likely be claims from the Zionist- dominated US media and government that it had something to do with Al Qaeda. The Al Queda are always the politically convenient "usual suspects" trotted out by our government and media on which to forcefully focus all the blame for "terror". Can you imagine if the spies caught near the nuclear submarine base in Georgia were Saudis, Libyans or Palestinians, instead of Israeli? That story would be headline news from the New York Times to the LA Times and every paper in between, as well as CNN and Fox News! But since the spies were Israeli, the story was willfully suppressed. It's just another example of the Zionist-controlled US media's pro-Israel bias, and a glaring bias at that. It should not be ignored, and it must not be ignored.

Although "By Way of Deception" was originally published in 1990, Ostrovsky's stunning revelations paint a very dark picture about the mindset of Israel's ruling establishment and its persistent tendency to view all the rest of the world's nations as potential adversaries. Indeed, the Mossad's motto is "By way of deception, thou shalt do war."

Endless war for Israel

As someone who has become immersed in the study of the Palestine-Israel conflict since 9-11, as well as having then become an activist for Palestinians' human rights since then, I found that many of Ostrovsky's revelations confirmed what I have already learned about Israel-most importantly, that Israel is not a friend of the USA or any other country for that matter. Israel is simply out for itself. [...]

Along with all the various "false flag" operations the Mossad commits in order to create trouble between the U.S. and Arab / Muslim countries, as well as acerbating conflicts between other countries, the Mossad also supplies illegal weapons to all kinds of terrorist groups around the countries, on both sides of the various conflicts around the world, for profit and just to keep the world off balance, while padding their pockets with lots of gold. [...]

Zionists' Abuse of Their "Victimhood"

Have you noticed how in keeping with the Zionist tradition of Holocaust- worship needed to keep the world's sympathy for its victims flowing endlessly, there seems to be several instances of self-fabricated "anti- semitic" hate crimes lately? For instance, Kerri Dunn, a professor at Claremont McKenna College in southern California, recently was found guilty of spray-painting and vandalizing her own car to make it look like some "anti-semitic" nutball did it. And how about recent similar staged "anti- Semitic" incidents in France? There are also other reports of so-called "anti-Semitic" acts which have been found suspect of being fraudulently self- made in order to magnify the Zionists' constant complaints about "the rise in anti-Semitism", as if it comes out of nowhere. As if Zionist behavior is always above reproach.

It fits a pattern that began with the birth of the Jewish nationalistic movement known as Zionism in the late 1890's. [...] Zionists sought to paint a picture where Jews are always being persecuted so therefore the world must give them special treatment--- such as a country somewhere else, not in their backyard, mind you, but somewhere where people don't have lots of money or political clout, somewhere where the world doesn't know much about or care much about, somewhere like…Palestine. [...]

Hopefully soon public opinion will pressure the leaders of the world to stop looking the other way. After all, it's the moral thing to do, isn't it? After all, isn't it true that today's Jewish Zionists nurture Victimhood and an angry resentment over how the world looked the other way when the Nazis persecuted Jews during WWII? Then why should the world look the other way while the Zionist Jews in Israel persecute the Palestinians? The obvious answer, to most people of conscience, is that people should NOT look the other way.

Some Direct Quotes and Revelations From the Book

Here are some revealing and important out-takes from the must-read book "By Way of Deception" by Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy:

"We were told to do what was good for us and screw everybody else"… "You know what Israelis say: "If they weren't burning us in WWII, they were helping, or if they weren't helping, they were ignoring it." Ostrovsky goes on to provide many instances that show how this mindset was manifested, often at the expense of others' lives.

Ostrovsky questions this mindset: "Does the fact that Jews suffered give us the right to inflict pain and misery on others?"

He was taught that "Israel is a nation of warriors", and points out that Israel has ended up with a "government that is 70 per cent generals." "Mossad regards the whole world outside of Israel as a target, including Europe and the United States."

Mossad Recruits Jews to Act as "Sayanim" or Spies for Israel Ovstrovsky described in detail how the Mossad recruits Jewish people worldwide, to act as Mossad's assistants, also known as "sayanim"(plural). Any Jewish person can be a "sayan" (singular), "to help Israel" as long as they are 100% Jewish. These volunteers have penetrated many of the world's governments.

It is, as Ostrovsky points out, problematic that "the Mossad does not seem to care how devastating it could be to the status of the Jewish people in the diaspora if it were known. The answer you get if you ask is: "So what's the worst that could happen to those Jews? They'd all come to Israel? Great."

This is yet another example of how the Zionist agenda actually knowingly helps to create a climate for what is termed as anti-Semitism, to try to legitimize the existence of an exclusive Jewish state, even at the expense of others, such as the Palestinians, whose land has been largely expropriated.

As many of us realize, the primary question for Israel and Zionists seems to be, as Ostrovsky notes in this book: "Is it good for the Jews? Forget about policies, or anything else. That was the only thing that counted, and depending on one's answer, people were called anti-Semites, whether deservedly or not."

The Holocaust Is a Zionists "Tool for Separation"

Ostrovsky also had some interesting things to say about the Holocaust: "I know the Holocaust was one of the gravest things to ever have happened to the Jews: Bella's (his wife's) father, for one, spent four years in Auschwitz and most of her family was eliminated by the Germans. But remember, that close to 50 million other people died, too. Germans tried to eliminate the Gypsies, various religious groups, Russians and Poles. The Holocaust could have been, and I think should have been, a source for unity with other nations rather than a tool for separation." However, the Jewish state of Israel is a closed society committed to segregation and equal rights only for Jews. [...]

Ostrovsky recounts various instances where the Mossad sought to prevent any peace initiative between the Palestinians and the Israeli government, by giving false information to the CIA about Palestinians preparing for a major war against the Israelis, when during those times this was indeed false information. I surmise, for instance, that the 2003 remote bomb-killing of the three American envoys to Gaza was the work of the Mossad, since only Israel benefited from it, and no Palestinian group claimed responsibility for it, which they usually do (unlike the Mossad). [...]

Ostrovsky reveals how the Mossad routinely doctors up "documentation to authenticate the "threat" to Israel from the Palestinians", feeding it to the media to report to the world. It is not uncommon for the Mossad to actually assassinate important people involved with negotiating the "peace process", such as in the case of Palestinian rights advocate Naim Khader, which is recounted in this book.

Ostrovsky provides more details about the Israeli media: "There is a committee of editors, called the Vaadat Orchim, of all the media outlets in Israel that meets regularly with government officials for background briefing on current events. Israeli television is government controlled, as is all but one rogue radio station, so that broadcasting is never a problem to control." Doesn't it sound like our U.S. government and media are following Israel's example (or lead)? I wonder why. Could it be because there are many of Israel's operatives in our media and government?

Mossad Deliberately Floods CIA with Vague Info

It was also telling to read about the way in which the Mossad deliberately floods the CIA with so much generalized information so as to render it confusingly vague. The information therefore becomes basically useless, as it is so general and non-specific, but also lets the Mossad off the hook with regards to accusations of not warning the US of terror attacks.

As in 9-11?[...]

Israel is fine with letting Americans get hit by others whom Israel considered their enemies, because that way, they figure, then the Americans will be induced to fight Israel's enemies directly for them. Isn't it a pity how our government unconditionally supports such a fair-weather "friend" such as Israel with billions of US tax dollars and political cover, allowing itself to be so manipulated, and for such unjust causes such as Zionist imperialism and colonialism, which has now somehow become America's causes as well? It's more than a pity. It's criminal.

Please recall how some of the Al Qaeda operatives supposedly involved with the 9-11 attack lived in Hamburg, with Israeli spies living nearby some of them? What a "coincidence" that as Ostrovsky points out "The Mossad love Hamburg, first for the good working relationship with the local anti-terrorist police and intelligence"…

Mossad's Heavy Presence in the USA

Although Israel claims not to have Israeli spies in the U.S., according to Ostrovsky, indeed there is a very deep undercover unit of the Mossad by the name of "Al" which is the Hebrew word for "above" or "on top", operating especially in New York and Washington, where they have rented apartments all over those places, installed with listening devices. [...]

Armed Jewish Defense Groups in the USA and Worldwide

The following information is really scary. You know how we are always told by our media how there are Al Qaeda cells operating in the U.S.? Well, read this about Jewish Zionist ‘cells', or "Jewish defense groups": "Arbel's department was responsible for setting up Jewish defense groups called "frames", or "misgorot", all over the world, now including some parts of the United States, where anti-Semitism is considered a threat."

And these "frames" are apparently armed to the teeth. "Israel does not sell the weapons directly to these foreign frames, but it does provide arms indirectly in a round-about arrangement with known arms dealers." One can legitimately worry about these "frames"- are they only for defensive reasons, or are they also perhaps formed for some future offensive action? [...]

Obviously, it will take some time and/or some miracles to turn US foreign policy on Israel around, but it will be turned around eventually, I'm sure. However, please note how some of our so-called leaders are claiming that "anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism", even while many Jews themselves reject the racist, nationalist ideology of Zionism. Please visit the website of the Ultra Orthodox Jewish group the Neturei Karta for more information on just one of many Jewish organizations that believes that Zionism is the exact opposite of Judaism.

Recently, some US politicians, such as those who pander shamelessly and slavishly to those at the AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) conference, actually used Sharon-style language threatening that "anti- Semites" will be "rooted out" "wherever they are" and "anti-Semites" are a "cancer" on society, right after saying that "Anti-Zionists are anti- Semites."! Next thing you know, they will be claiming "All anti-Zionists and anti-Semites are terrorists."! This seems to be an emerging new version of a kind of fascistic McCarthyism and a dictatorial attempt to squelch any criticism of apartheid Israel. Can you imagine if activists against apartheid in South Africa were threatened with being called "terrorists"? It's almost laughable. On top of that, how hypocritical for Israelis to call Palestinian terrorists, where Zionist gangs committed acts of terror such as the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946 in Jerusalem to scare off the Brits, killing 72 Arab civilians and British soldiers, while wounding many more. Menachim Begin oversaw this act of terror and later became a prime minister of Israel.

Still more on the topic of the "Jewish defense groups": "The main job (of the Mossad's "frames" set-up department) is to help the leaders of the Jewish communities outside Israel plan for their own security. Part of this is done through the "hets va-keshet" or "bow and arrow", Israel's paramilitary youth brigades. Often youths from other countries are brought over (to Israel) to spend the summer learning about security, picking up such skills as completing obstacle courses, pitching tents, and learning how to use a sniper rifle and Uzi assault rifle." Doesn't this all seem eerily similar to Hitler's Youth Brigade?

In the epilogue of the book, Ostrovsky asserts "we do know that, had the Mossad been more forthcoming with intelligence concerning American and other western hostages, the entire Iran-Contra might never have happened."

U.S. Support for Israel Is Isolating the U.S. from the Rest of the World

It is no wonder that Victor Ostrovsky, who is a man of conscience, who happens to be Jewish, finally left the Mossad and Israel after getting disillusioned and disgusted with its propensity for enmity towards the whole world. The worst thing about it is that my country the United States of America has been increasingly blindly and unconditionally siding with Israel and thereby not only supporting daily crimes against humanity, but becoming isolated, just as apartheid Israel is, from the rest of the world's nations. The US and apartheid Israel are isolated from the rest of the world, just like apartheid South Africa was quite rightly isolated, until it was pressured to become a true democracy with equal rights for ALL regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

Endless war and unilaterally demanding unconditional support from the rest of the world while selfishly exploiting it, is simply in a word, evil, the opposite of good.

I hope that as American citizens of all creeds and ethnicities become more and more aware of just what kind of country Zionist Israel is, that they too will abandon any support, moral or financial for Israel and demand that our leaders do the same, until apartheid Israel, like the formerly apartheid South Africa, is transformed into a true democracy with equal rights for all, including for the indigenous non-Jewish Palestinian people who must also be allowed their inalienable right to return to their ancestral homeland, Palestine-Israel. There must be no double standards for anyone or any country; in fact, it may be time to reconsider America's generous policy of allowing dual citizenship to Israeli-Americans.For more information, on Israeli spies in the U.S., check out: and For info on the "Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict", check out

Although the Jewish state of Israel tried to prevent his book from getting published, it was indeed published in the U.S. and Canada and became a best- selling hit. Although one might think that the Mossad might actually want to kill him after publishing such a revealing book, they instead declared that they would try to break Ostrovsky economically. You can do a Google search on him to learn more about this very interesting man, who is an accomplished professional artist.

"By Way of Deception" by Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy was published first in 1990 by St. Martin's Press, is available from The following recommendation for this book is from Amazon's website: Editorial Reviews: From Library Journal

"Intelligence agencies should never try to ban books about themselves. Like Peter Wright's Spycatcher (Penguin USA, 1987), which was suppressed in Britain , this book on Israel's legendary spy organization by a former Mossad katsa or case officer has ended up on the New York Times best seller list. Among the controversial revelations that led Israel to seek a ban (which was quickly overturned in the United States and Canada) is Ostrovsky's charge that the Mossad refused to share knowledge of a planned suicide mission in Beirut, resulting in the deaths of 241 U.S. Marines in 1983. Another New York Times best seller, Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman's Every Spy a Prince ( LJ 7/90), provides more reliable details on Israel's spy network." -Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"

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Deconstructing Hollywood Mind-Control:
Subliminal Propaganda Sleazes Onto The Big Screen
By Mark Green and Wendy Campbell

Edison may have invented the 'motion picture', but Jewish immigrants from Europe "invented Hollywood". Remarkably, in the century since Meyer, the Warner Brothers and a handful of other Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants who began the 'studio system', Hollywood maintains a distinctly Yiddish accent. Some critics, however, posit that Hollywood doesn't play fair, since it employs the mesmerizing power of cinema to manipulate the mindset of complacent viewers. How? By relentlessly injecting sordid scenarios and denigrating images of once respected American archetypes and institutions. Recent targets: the Catholic Church and , as usual, Arabs.

For just one very recent example out of many, is the comic-book styled action film "Sin City". Here, many of the villains are sporting multiple crucifixion crosses, a symbol held sacred by many Christians, and mixed in with a smattering of swastikas. Indeed, the film's arch-villain turns out to be a satanic, cannibalistic Catholic cardinal! OK, this is fictional entertainment, but Hollywood knows that these scenarios have a visceral, even subliminal, impact. That's basically why we don't see any Hollywood- fabricated demons sporting stars of David, a symbol revered by many Jews, not do we see any 'rabid rabbis' dished up for popular entertainment.

The unspoken code of Tinseltown is this: Jewish archetypeds and religious sensitivities are to be respected. Others may be casually smeared. [...]

For the ambitious film-maker, it's important to remember these three things: One: Jews remain at the top of the Hollywood food chain. Two: They intend to remain there. Three: Don't' forget those first two things.

Not unless you are very rich and famous, such as Mel Gibson, for one mega example. The Weinstein brothers of MiraMax declined to distribute Mel Gibson's film "The Passion", fearing it would offend the sensibilities of many Jews and /or fan the flames of "anti-Semitism". However, the Weinstein brothers have no problem with producing or distributing films such as "Sin City" nor even Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" since he didn't mention Israel or neocons or Zionism at all, and he threw in plenty of gratuitous Arab-bashing.

Like it or not, the "gate-keepers" of American mass media are disproportionately of Jewish stock. Though they famously disdain "white racism", prevailing Hollywood customs affirm aggressive white Jewish networking. The results are nothing less than astonishing.

America, it's now acknowledged by many, has come to "think Jewish", as attitudes have 'magically" shifted on matters such as race, 'minority rights', school prayer, abortion rights, celebrating "the holidays", and "promoting our values" via an aggressive mission to imporse democracy in all Mid-East countries except for the ethnocentric Jewish state of Israel.

OK, Israel may qualify as a "democracy" in the same way the white, apartheid South Africa did, but there's one huge difference: concerted interevention from around the world finally brought the segregated Apartheid country of South Africa to its knees. White racial discrimination was declared "evil". Interestingly, Jewish activists played a decisive role in that campaign. But incredibly, Jewish Israelis and international Zionists, both Jewish and now so-called Christian Zionists, suffer no similar intense pressure, except by a growing grassroots movement of human rights and peace activists, who, thus far, lack any real significant political clout. Without apology, Israel and its supporters get to play by their own rules.

It's no accident that America's expanding global militancy implicitly hold the "security" of the Jewish state as its centerpiece. And with the help of vital U.S. aid, Israel militarily maintains its commitment to a segregated society, with hellish consequences for the indigenous non-Jewish Palestinians.

How are the highly placed "friends of Israel" able to bamboozle so much of the world?

Through a complicated but interconnected array of media and grass-roots propaganda, political pressure, complex legalisms, victimhood identity via The Holocaust, and raw political muscle.

In today's America, just an allegation of "anti-Semitism" can damage the career of public figures. And to fortify this taboo, Americans are regularly fed a hefty ration of Holocaust lore.

As a sidebar, here's an additional fact that would be funny if only it wasn't true: Holocaust "experts" are almost all Jewish. Does their collective obsession produce scholarship, or an appetite and license to propagandize? In any case, for the latest Holocaust news, one need simply to turn on the TV or pick up any "major" newspaper. Yet an accurate telling of the Jewish experience in American should spotlight not suffering or persecution, but success, acceptance, privilege and influence. Jews are America's preeminent success story.

Although reportedly less than 3% of our population, Jewish per capita income is unsurpassed, as is their presence at our nation's top universities and think tanks. As noted, American Jews make up a majority of Hollywood's ruling class and beyond that, Jewish "over-representation" is an accomplished fact in law, medicine and general media, including print and TV.

This is no small matter.

With the average American watching over four hours of TV or film every day, and perusing the mainstream newspapers and magazines, these figures are evidence of a profound ethnic imbalance in the management and dissemination of news and information. For America's Jews, this translates into formidable political power.

The enduring fact remains that who ever owns and controls the media, can also leverage public opinion, and from there, government policies.

Indeed, Jewish media mavens have the means to easily advance their particular viewpoint of history, with far reaching consequences. And with the Jewish state of Israel embroiled in a condition of near-perpetual war since its founding in 1948, the question must be posed: might many of our country's most accomplished editors and story-tellers, who qualify as Israeli-Americans, have at least a minor conflict of interest?

Put another way: how can they NOT?

After all, Israeli "security" remains the essential focus of organized Jewry.Countless pro-Israel organizations famously apply incessant pressure on government officials, political parties, candidates, journalists and fellow "tribe-members" to lobby on Israel's behalf, since billions of dollars in U.S. aid are harnessed to advance the Jewish state's regional hegemony.

Consequently, maintaining a public willingness to favor America's present interventionist, (pro-Israel/anti-Arab-non-Jewish) foreign policy is an essential component in any scenario culminating in The Final Zionist Solution. It's essential therefore that American gentiles "think correctly" on key Jewish issues.

Thus, when Jewish interests are at stake, good and evil are neatly drawn (preferably in clear, unambiguous fashion) so that American consumers of news and entertainment can easily and passively draw the proper conclusions. Thus Arabs (particularly Palestinians) are "terrorists", Nazi demonology is a growth industry, and Holocaust Revisionism (widely misrepresented as "Holocaust Denial") is being peddles as a threat to global security. In fact, in numerous "free, Western democracies", such as Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, for example, to question the version of The Holocaust promoted by Zionists, including the six million figure and the gas chambers, is an actual crime punishable by fines and imprisonment. Ernst Zundel was deported from the U.S., ostensibly on "visa violations", to Canada where he spend two years in solitary confinement.

Then, he was just recently was deported to solitary confinement in a German jail. His crime? Publicly questioning these aspects of the Holocaust. Who's next? Organized Jewry, progenitors of "speech codes" on countless American campuses, are raising the bar from censoring to criminalizing speech. A balanced view of history does matter, yet when the facts don't fit, the media gate-keepers can purposefully misinterpret, obfuscate or simply overlook them. This may explain why, for instance, there is so little media interest in the annihilation of 20 million anti-Bolshevik Russians preceding WWII. After all, 20 million Russians KILLED BY THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT is the all-time tsunami of war crimes. But who were the perpetrators? Where are they now? The average American simply knows nothing about the 'over- represented' Jewish role in Communism's pernicious rise. Of course, this oversight is no accident.

Considering that over 275 million humans have perished in wars during the past century, America's nurtured obsession with, and elevation of, Jewish suffering in Europe during WWII might be seen as a peculiar idiosyncrasy. Indeed, many surmise that the American Mind is indeed under Zionist management. The irony of our nation's preoccupation with Jewish war causalities during WWII 55 years after the fact becomes even more repellent when we consider the horrendous, ONGOING persecution of gentiles in Palestine-Israel under Jewish occupation. The fundamental Palestinian crime: living in Palestine-Israel without the proper Jewish DNA. As for American cinema, there has been a sea of changes in the past generation. There's now a multicultural array of celebrities, including many Jewish ones. On the downside, Christianity doesn't get the kind of coverage it enjoyed when Frank Capra was directing.

Thus, we are treated to seeing an array of stock Christian con artists, whores and criminals. As for Arabs, they're still welcome to play terrorist schemers, religious fanatics, or just plain unsavory characters. This is the mean-spirited side to "American" film that goes unacknowledged and unchallenged. Recently, after reading several glowing reviews, we succumbed to seeing the afore-mentioned over-praised, over-hyped, action-revenge movie, "Sin City". Directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, with "special guest director Quentin Tarantino", "Sin City" is a gritty, sexy, violent and surrealistic foray into a stylized, comic-book version of post-modern urban mayhem. By contemporary standards of blood-letting, this film delivers far more than its share, but there's probably worse in circulation.

"Sin City's" denigration of Christian icons, however, approaches new excesses, something that was also very evident in Tarantino's previous "Kill Bill" movies. Not only do many of the villains in this hyper-violent yarn wear gaudy necklaces and earrings hung with Christian crosses, even multiple layers of them, "Sin City" manages to associate blue eyes with depravity, although for Hollywood, that's nothing new. The two heroic characters (and they were not wearing any Christian crosses, or swastikas, of course) where portrayed by Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis. It's Willis' character who finally manages to kill the the evil Catholic priest.

At any rate, we can rest assured that Hollywood shall likely refrain from depicting Jews in such a negative fashion. As for the rest of us, we are not supposed to complain. In fact, we're not even supposed to NOTICE, since it might indicate a racial loyalty which for anyone else except for Jews, is a modern sin. This very real double standard speaks volumes about who holds real power in contemporary America [...]

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Ex-Lawmakers Accuse House of Protecting DeLay
Fri April 15, 2005
By Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ten former Republican U.S. lawmakers on Friday urged a reversal of new House of Representatives ethics rules that they charged were changed to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay from further investigation.

In an open letter to Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the former lawmakers said the rule changes early this year, which make it more difficult to probe an ethics complaint, must be reversed "to restore public confidence in the people's House."

"We felt grave concern when the Republican leadership changed the ethics rules ... We saw it as an obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay," the letter said.

The letter came as Democrats stepped up their campaign against the Texas Republican, whom they have made a top target in next year's congressional elections, with a new Web site highlighting allegations about him.

The former Republican lawmakers offered no judgment about recent ethical questions facing DeLay, but wrote that there was a consensus in their districts that "previous admonishments to Mr. DeLay for casting discredit on the House were well merited."

DeLay was admonished by the House ethics committee last year on three separate matters involving what critics denounced as strong-armed political tactics.

In recent weeks, DeLay, who has denied wrongdoing, has been confronted with questions about ties to lobbyists, foreign trips funded by outside groups and use of campaign funds. [...]

Many fellow House Republicans have publicly rallied to DeLay's side, agreeing with him that he has become the victim of unfair partisan attacks.

Some, however, have voiced private concerns, particularly about a continuing grand-jury probe in Texas that indicted some DeLay associates last year on charges of illegal fund-raising. [...]

In addition to McCloskey, other signers of the letter included Mark Andrews of North Dakota, a moderate who served in the House and Senate between the 1960s and 1980s.

Others, all of whom served in the House in the same era were: John Buchanan of Alabama; M. Caldwell Butler of Virginia; Paul Findley of Illinois; Bud Hillis of Indiana; James Johnson of Colorado; Richard Mallary of Vermont; Wiley Mayne of Iowa, and G. William Whitehurst of Virginia.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled a web site on Friday to serve as a "clearinghouse for information" about allegations about the Texas Republican.

The site, headlined "Tom Delay's House of Scandal," can be found at

"I think the American people will find this useful," James Carville, who was a political strategist for former President Bill Clinton, said in helping the committee announce the site.

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Flashback: The two faces of Rumsfeld
Randeep Ramesh
Friday May 9, 2003
The Guardian

2000: director of a company which wins $200m contract to sell nuclear reactors to North Korea

2002: declares North Korea a terrorist state, part of the axis of evil and a target for regime change

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, sat on the board of a company which three years ago sold two light water nuclear reactors to North Korea - a country he now regards as part of the "axis of evil" and which has been targeted for regime change by Washington because of its efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Mr Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m (£125m) contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defence secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration.

The reactor deal was part of President Bill Clinton's policy of persuading the North Korean regime to positively engage with the west.

The sale of the nuclear technology was a high-profile contract. ABB's then chief executive, Goran Lindahl, visited North Korea in November 1999 to announce ABB's "wide-ranging, long-term cooperation agreement" with the communist government.

The company also opened an office in the country's capital, Pyongyang, and the deal was signed a year later in 2000. Despite this, Mr Rumsfeld's office said that the de fence secretary did not "recall it being brought before the board at any time".

In a statement to the American magazine Newsweek, his spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said that there "was no vote on this". A spokesman for ABB told the Guardian yesterday that "board members were informed about the project which would deliver systems and equipment for light water reactors".

Just months after Mr Rumsfeld took office, President George Bush ended the policy of engagement and negotiation pursued by Mr Clinton, saying he did not trust North Korea, and pulled the plug on diplomacy. Pyongyang warned that it would respond by building nuclear missiles. A review of American policy was announced and the bilateral confidence building steps, key to Mr Clinton's policy of detente, halted.

By January 2002, the Bush administration had placed North Korea in the "axis of evil" alongside Iraq and Iran. If there was any doubt about how the White House felt about North Korea this was dispelled by Mr Bush, who told the Washington Post last year: "I loathe [North Korea's leader] Kim Jong-il."

The success of campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have enhanced the status of Mr Rumsfeld in Washington. Two years after leaving ABB, Mr Rumsfeld now considers North Korea a "terrorist regime _ teetering on the verge of collapse" and which is on the verge of becoming a proliferator of nuclear weapons. During a bout of diplomatic activity over Christmas he warned that the US could fight two wars at once - a reference to the forthcoming conflict with Iraq. After Baghdad fell, Mr Rumsfeld said Pyongyang should draw the "appropriate lesson".

Critics of the administration's bellicose language on North Korea say that the problem was not that Mr Rumsfeld supported the Clinton-inspired diplomacy and the ABB deal but that he did not "speak up against it". "One could draw the conclusion that economic and personal interests took precedent over non-proliferation," said Steve LaMontagne, an analyst with the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington.

Many members of the Bush administration are on record as opposing Mr Clinton's plans, saying that weapons-grade nuclear material could be extracted from the type of light water reactors that ABB sold. Mr Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and the state department's number two diplomat, Richard Armitage, both opposed the deal as did the Republican presidential candidate, Bob Dole, whose campaign Mr Rumsfeld ran and where he also acted as defence adviser.

One unnamed ABB board director told Fortune magazine that Mr Rumsfeld was involved in lobbying his hawkish friends on behalf of ABB.

Comment: Rumsfeld? Double Dealing? Never!

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Nuclear watchdog 'worried' by activity at Iraqi sites
15/04/2005 - 21:01:24

The United Nations nuclear watchdog expressed concern today at the removal of equipment and "significant dismantling" at 37 key sites in Iraq previously monitored for potential nuclear activity.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency also said satellite imagery has revealed that at least one site where contaminated rubble from Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme had been buried has been extensively excavated.

IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei said these assessments "need to be followed up through verification in Iraq in order for the agency to draw conclusions".

ElBaradei's six-month report to the council said IAEA inspectors are ready to resume verification in Iraq if directed by the council and made clear there were many sites to look at.

Since 2003, ElBaradei said, the IAEA has analysed satellite imagery of 141 of the 175 locations it previously identified as primary sites that contributed to Saddam's clandestine nuclear programme, or had technical capabilities to restart a nuclear programme. Analysts were looking for changes in the infrastructure of the sites, he said.

"This assessment has revealed significant dismantling and removal activities at 37 of the most capable sites since March 2003," he added.

The IAEA also focused on sites where wrecked equipment from Iraq's former nuclear programme had been stored or discarded, he said.

Getting UN nuclear inspectors back into Iraq remains a problem.

IAEA inspectors left Iraq just before the March 2003 US-led war, along with inspectors searching for biological and chemical weapons.

The Bush administration then barred all UN inspectors from returning, deploying US teams instead in what turned out to be an unsuccessful search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Nonetheless, IAEA teams were allowed into Iraq in June 2003 to investigate reports of widespread looting of storage rooms at the main nuclear complex at Tuwaitha, and in August 2004 to take an inventory of "several tons" of natural uranium in storage near Tuwaitha.

The Iraqi government has been campaigning to stop using Iraqi oil revenue to pay the UN weapons inspectors, calling them "irrelevant" and costly.

ElBaradei also expressed concern in his last report in October at the disappearance of high-precision equipment that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

In late October, ElBaradei released an Iraqi report on the disappearance of 377 tons of high explosives from the al-Qaqaa site south of Baghdad, including HMX which can be used to ignite a nuclear weapon.

Investigations were promised, but ElBaradei said in today's report that "to date, IAEA has received no additional information that could shed light on this matter".

Comment: Given that it was US inspectors that scoured all of these Iraqi sites, and the fact that most of the landmass of Iraq is now under use control, is it reasonable to think that the "significant dismantling" at these sites is being conducted by anyone other than agents of the US government? The big question however is: for what purpose? What use might the US or Israel make of "wrecked equipment from Iraq's former nuclear program"? "Evidence" of Iran's nuclear infringements perhaps?

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Snake Oil Salesman Farah Sells Info on Terrorist Attacks
Kurt Nimmo
April 13, 2005

Danger, danger, Will Robinson! Evil Islamic terrorists, having deliberately infected themselves with the Ebola-like Marburg disease, are on the loose and are bent on spreading "the plague to the West, according to a report in the premium, online, intelligence newsletter Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin."

It'll cost you about $200 to learn more.

You'd think Mr. Farah would post this information as a public service-but no, he wants to charge you big bucks to learn more. Nothing sells online newsletter subscriptions like the prospect of terrorists spreading Marburg, a form of hemorrhagic fever that "inflicts deadly internal bleeding" on its victims.

Farah's come-on teaser posted on the WorldNetDaily site reveals nothing about terrorists-beyond a screaming headline: Fear bio-terrorists may spread plague-and simply regurgitates information about a Marburg outbreak in Angola and the United Nations ceasing operations there. "The Marburg virus is believed to have originated in Africa's monkey population, with the first known transmission to humans in 1967," concludes the editor of WorldNetDaily, and then follows this with a subscription link to "Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin." If you want to know more about the terrorism angle and maybe how to protect yourself and your family, you'll have to cough up nearly 200 bucks.

I can't help but think about David Horowitz when I read such nonsense. Far right-wingers such as Farah and Horowitz consider terrorism and anti-Americanism a nice way to scare up some extra change, sort of a 24/7 pledge drive to save America from the likes of Osama, Michael Moore, and small-time bloggers such as yours truly, who was actually taken to task recently on Horowitz's blog for the sin of criticizing and parodying his absurd database, Discover the Network, a smear portal that attempts to make a connection between the likes of Barbara Streisand and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and also for supposedly expressing "sympathies for the enemy," that is to say allowing an Italian website to re-post my blog entries. According to Horowitz and his nasty little Zionist scrivener, Steven Plaut, I am a fan of Saddam Hussein. In fact, as a fan of Ronald Reagan, Horowitz is closer to Saddam Hussein-who the Bedtime for Bonzo cum president shared a "close relationship" with-than I will ever be.

I don't know how much money Joseph Farah makes on his WolrdNetDaily and online newsletter operation, the former described by Farah as "the largest independent news site on the net." For some reason Farah does not believe his site is "conservative," even though it shamelessly shilled for Republicans and Bush during the last so-called "election." So vehement was Farah and Crew to get Bush back in the White House, "WND columnist and author Bob Kohn fabricated evidence that Senator John Kerry was having an affair with a New York Times reporter," according to Media Matters for America (see previous link). " news reports have repeated discredited charges against Kerry's Vietnam war record; distorted a speech by progressive financier and philanthropist George Soros; and claimed that weapons of mass destruction were discovered in Iraq." Such dirty tricks are common for "conservatives," who are in fact Strausscon variants. (Note: I am not a fan of either Kerry or Soros, who I believe are the flip side of the neocon-neolib coin.)

Incidentally, as if to make sure we understand Farah and Horowitz play by the same rules and are interested in raking in as much cash as possible on baseless and imaginary terrorist threats, Horowitz's FrontPageMagazine carried Farah's news-item-cum-advert yesterday. Note: an extensive search of Google's news site returns absolutely zilch on this so-called story. In order to read more about this scary campfire story, you have to shell out almost $200 to Farah.

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Conservative Lawmaker: DeLay Should Quit
By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - One of Congress' most conservative members on Friday became the second House Republican to urge Majority Leader Tom DeLay to step aside because of the ethics scrutiny he's facing.

"If the majority leader were to temporarily step aside so that these trumped up charges can be dealt with in a less hostile environment, as they have proven to be an unnecessary distraction, it may be a productive move," said Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.

Tancredo's comments come after Connecticut Rep. Chris Shays, a moderate Republican, urged DeLay to resign from his leadership position at the beginning of the week. Also, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, said DeLay needs to answer questions about his ethics.

Tancredo, elected in 1998, said he believes all charges against DeLay, R- Texas, "lack merit" and are "being leveled in the hopes of bringing him down and with him, the Republican majority."

Tancredo is known in the House for his tough stand on immigration and has 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union for votes and his position on issues.

DeLay has been dogged by questions for months about his overseas travel, corporate fundraising in 2002 for Texas legislative campaigns, campaign payments to family members and his connections to a lobbyist now under federal investigation.

Some GOP colleagues have suggested his continuing ethics controversy is harming the GOP, while others say the criticism has been orchestrated by Democrats and their liberal allies.

DeLay has said he is eager to appear before the leaders of the House ethics committee and give "everything I have" in connection with allegations of misconduct. Spokesman Dan Allen provided a similar comment Friday and cited a list of accomplishments by House Republicans with DeLay as majority leader.

Before DeLay can meet with the ethics committee, Democrats and Republicans must resolve a deadlock over rules Republicans pushed through the House. Democrats oppose the changes.

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Billions for War, Garage Sales for Soldiers

The Pentagon spends billions to fight the Iraq War, yet US soldiers are forced to rely on parents and charity to purchase essentially military gear.
By Mike Reizman

It didn't occur to me at the time, but I could have watched the March 19th anti-war protest in John Wayne's shoes, so to speak. From the "legendary cement" in the forecourt of Mann's Grauman's Chinese Theatre, there was a nice view of Hollywood Boulevard engulfed in protesters. John Wayne, who left behind his boot prints and an impression of his fist, probably would've been peeved at the sight (though it's impossible to know for sure). I found it cheery.

This was the end of the march, on a day full of light rain. A group of us had gathered in Grauman's star-packed sanctuary for farewells. I looked around briefly at the cement slabs, noticing the prints of Joan Blondell, Marion Davies, and Mary Pickford. Back in the street, protesters, holding signs, banners, and umbrellas, faced the day's speakers, who stood amplified on a flatbed blocked from our view. [...]

Obviously, not everyone against the war feels able to participate in an anti- war demonstration. About two months ago, I saw this classified ad in a Southern Californian newspaper (not Hollywood): Support Our Soldier For Deployment!! Garage Sale! Saturday 7am-?

The mother of this since-deployed soldier told me outright that Bush lied to start the war. But she felt constrained. "You see," she said emotionally, "…I'm torn because I feel that I have to support my son… I don't talk a lot about it to him or my husband, the way I truly feel, because you know it's just too hard when they support it and I don't. It's hard.

"So, that's why I'm going to use my energy this next year, besides prayer, in writing to whoever I need to write to, and call to whoever I need to call to, to have them lift the Stop-Loss. And hopefully he'll come home sooner if that happens. So that's a positive way I think rather than protesting the war. I would never do that because I'd feel like that would be going against my son."

Her son is 26 years old. He's been in the Army for 5 ½ years, serving in South Korea and at two posts in the United States. His ETS date, the end of his term of service, was supposed to be in November 2005. The Stop-Loss policy has extended it three months to February 20, 2006, though it's perfectly legal for the Army to keep him in Iraq even longer.

The Stop-Loss policy is often called the "backdoor draft." It's the legal mechanism that stops soldiers and reservists from leaving the military. Recruitment and re-enlistment numbers are down. Stop-Loss is one method the Army is using to keep up troop strength in Iraq.

Private Citizens Have Become Quartermasters

For fiscal year 2006, the Bush administration requested $438.8 billion for the Defense Department and the nuclear weapons functions of the Department of Energy (Center For Arms Control and Non-Proliferation). Appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are separate from those budgets. The Pentagon estimates that it is now spending approximately $5.6 billion per month on those wars.

In spite of all that money, worried parents and support groups across the country have bought body armor and other necessities for their loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Texas non-profit organization called Supplied to Survive was founded to supply Marines in Iraq with items you'd expect the military to provide, such things as telescopic rifle and machine-gun sights, infrared blackout filters for Humvee headlights, GPS sets, vehicle tow straps, socks, toothpaste and toothbrush sets, batteries, moist wipes, etc. The organization's largest donor, a "Platinum Corporate Partner," gave $10,000.

In contrast, those two worried parents who held the garage sale had a modest wish list, and they weren't expecting any corporate donors. Six families from their church had donated the usual garage sale cast-offs. Hoping to raise $1,000, they netted $500 at the end of the day.

It can get expensive gearing up for war. Their son also has to support his wife, a one-week old baby and an 18-month old. As his father explained, the army supplies some money for clothing and personal-care items, "but it appears it's not enough."

Their son had already been issued body armor. With the garage sale money, they wanted to enable him to buy whatever items he still needed from his unit packing list. His father also wanted to buy him a small digital camera. It was not for personal snapshots of the war, but "for work," as his son put it. There was talk of buying extra uniforms, though it was not clear whether they would purchase any.

His parents also wanted to make sure he had a large enough supply of personal hygiene items. In transition to Iraq, there might not be too much time to buy any soap, vitamins, toothpaste, etc. Their son's sergeant recommended Flintstone's vitamins as a money saver -- a nettling suggestion to his mother. Though no vitamins are specifically formulated for the extreme stress of war, Flintstone's vitamins, kid's vitamins for her son going off to war, simply weren't good enough. She would make sure he had a supply of good comprehensive vitamins.

Out of the $500 from the garage sale, her son told me that he wanted to buy four high-powered spot lights, one each for his team's humvees. He'd also spend a small amount on extra patches (i.e., badges) for his uniforms and jacket. The Army provides the basics: name, U.S. Army, rank, and unit patches. All other patches are extra, but not required.

Mainly, he wanted to take extra cash with him as a backup for his team. The other guys were taking extra cash too. They wanted money for whatever might come up. Somebody might need a patch or socks, or a jacket, or maybe somebody might need a flak vest for more protection.

Dodd vs. DOD

In case you think that private purchases of combat gear have been rare, consider the Dodd amendment to the FY2005 National Defense Authorization Act. Senator Chris Dodd, the author of the amendment, explained, "This amendment was adopted after troubling reports surfaced that our men and women in uniform were digging deep into their own pockets or relying on charitable giving to buy such life-saving gear as bullet proof vests, vehicle armor, and medical supplies."

The Dodd amendment provides "reimbursement for certain protective, safety, or health equipment purchased by or for members of the armed forces deployed" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Claims can be made up to $1,100 for items purchased between September 11, 2001 and July 31, 2004.

The Pentagon was required by law to set up the reimbursement program by February 25, 2005. It has yet to comply. In early March, Senator Dodd sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asking for an explanation.

Sound Off

If you think that Stop-Loss is unfair, or want to pressure the Pentagon to fulfill its legal obligation to set rules and standards for the reimbursement program, click herefor the Pentagon's comment page.

Send a letter to:
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Mike Reizman is a writer, photographer, and web-based bookseller. He can be reached at

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Wanted: Complete Asshole for U.N. Ambassador

John Bolton has left a trail of alienated colleagues and ridiculed ideas. He's a shoo-in for Senate confirmation.
by Jason Vest
April 14th, 2005

Truly righteous indignation is rare in Washington, and in that respect former State Department intelligence chief Carl Ford Jr.'s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday was about as good as it gets. Ford's sterling reputation as analyst-coupled with his staunchly conservative, pro-Bush/Cheney credentials-made it impossible for anyone to question his veracity or his judgment as he described U.N. ambassador hopeful John Bolton as a "quintessential kiss-up, kick-down kind of guy" and a "bully" whose "serial abuse" of subordinates causes so much "collateral damage and personal hurt" that he's unworthy of any high office.

Injection of no-bullshit language into normally staid Senate proceedings aside, Ford's testimony also seemed a potentially heady moment for Bolton- loathing Republicans, who, armed with Ford's ammo, were presented with a rare opportunity to show some spine. Alas, wishing does not make it so: Surrendering senatorial prerogative in the name of deference to presidential desire, committee chair and well-known Bolton foe Dick Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, all but put his nuts in a jar stamped "To W and Dick, w/love from our end of Pennsylvania Ave to yours." On par with Lugar was Rhode Island Republican Lincoln Chafee, whose public antipathy to Bolton has been such that some expected him to mount a zealous opposition that might even culminate with a vote against the nominee. Rather than channel his inner Mr. Smith, Chafee said he was "inclined" to support Bolton as Ford's testimony was "focused on one incident," and was not part of a "pattern."

Committee Democrats, however, stated they had depositions from other intelligence officials that show a pattern of similar behavior in recent years. Whether those testimonies will ever be revealed is anyone's guess. But when it comes to gauging if Bolton is in fact a chronic bully who's so off-putting that he shouldn't be anywhere near one of America's most important and prestigious diplomatic jobs, it's worth looking back a little further than his recent stint at the State Department-where, in news reports of years past, words like "brusque," "abrasive" and "caustic," appear near Bolton's name with some regularity.

As some may recall, Bolton entered public life in the Reagan Administration, arriving at the White House first and then the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1982 as general counsel. Despite having no foreign policy or development experience, Bolton seemed to have the right stuff, and within a year had risen to become USAID's assistant administrator for policy and programs. At a 1982 conference of the International Fund for Agricultural Development-an organization where, as the Christian Science Monitor put it, "power blocs that hardly ever seem to agree" found unusual common ground-Bolton, according to officials present at and familiar with the conference, alienated many by announcing "with inappropriate gusto," as one put it, cutbacks in U.S. support for the organization.

After his stint at USAID, Bolton went in 1985 to Ed Meese's Justice Department as Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs-in effect, Justice's lobbyist in Congress. By 1988, according to Washington lawyers and published accounts, Bolton was itching to leave government service for the world of high-priced lobbying. Yet Bolton stayed on at Justice, moving laterally to head the department's civil division, for a reason almost unheard of in a town that worships at the altar of the revolving door: No one would hire him to work as a lobbyist.

Why? According to a March 1988 Legal Times article, while many of the dozen- plus lobbying firms Bolton interviewed with acknowledged his formidable intellect, they nonetheless saw him as a liability on account of an "abrasive and combative tone [that has] cost him friends on Capitol Hill." As one source told the paper, "There's a demeanor that's required, and he doesn't have it." Or, as a longtime member of the D.C. bar puts it: "You can take up for your administration and toe its line before Congress without being an asshole. Bolton seemed to think being an asshole was essential to his job. And the fact that he was an asshole on a number of issues that would have made anyone advocating them seem like an asshole to begin with didn't help."

Indeed, in his time as Justice's man on the Hill, Bolton championed with enthusiastic causticity such dubious Reagan Justice Department positions as: the denial of financial recompense to Japanese-American survivors of WWII internment camps; the dubious assertion of executive privilege by Reagan during William Rehnquist's chief justice confirmation hearings, when Congress asked for memos written by Rehnquist as a Nixon Justice Department official; the framing of a draconian anti-illegal immigrant bill as an essential drug war measure, despite the DEA's own figures showing that less than 5 percent of drugs entering the U.S. came in through illegals; and, perhaps most memorably, the unapologetic stonewalling of committees investigating Iran-Contra.

He also issued Justice Department conflict-of-interest rules for special prosecutors-rules that were quickly withdrawn, as they had almost nothing to do with ensuring the integrity of independent counsels, and just about everything to do with shutting down several investigations that were inconveniencing the Reagan administration. In a press release unauthorized by his superiors, Bolton viciously lashed out at lawmakers and independent counsels alike, directing particular vitriol in the direction of Alexia Morrison, the independent counsel investigating former Justice Department official Theodore Olson. (Though cited for contempt, Olson would ultimately escape prosecution and go on to spearhead the notorious anti-Bill Clinton "Arkansas Project," and eventually become George W. Bush's solicitor general.)

As Bolton shifted to the head of Justice's Civil Division in 1988, it seemed to many in Washington that he couldn't possibly do anything more to endear him to Congress less. Yet he promptly became then representative Pat Schroeder's whipping boy for trying to fire a Civil Division lawyer. The lawyer's firing offense, in Schroeder's view? Trying to take maternity leave.

Still not fully recovered from a difficult pregnancy, on January 25, 1988, Joan Bernott, a 10-year Justice Department veteran, had requested an extended leave at her doctor's urging. Bolton not only denied it, but threatened Bernott with dismissal and legal action. "He hasn't just denied my request for leave, he has issued reprisals against me, accused me of fraud, asked me to sign waivers of confidentiality of all my medical records," Bernott told The New York Times, adding that Bolton "has demanded that my physicians answer 27 questions-probing details of their opinion and my medical condition" in addition to nixing her next assignment.

"Mr. Bolton's approach to maternity leave is: get pregnant, get interrogated, get fired," Schroeder, a Democrat of Colorado, wrote in a letter to then attorney general Ed Meese. Bolton also took the position that Bernott had no legal recourse, and sent her a letter actively discouraging her from retaining counsel. Both Bernott's attorney and Schroeder disagreed-as, ultimately, did Bolton's more compassionately conservative superiors at Justice, who granted Bernott both her leave and her job.

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The CIA's Kidnapping Ring

U.S. ally Uzbekistan teaches interrogators how to boil suspected terrorists to death
by Nat Hentoff
April 15th, 2005

U.S. law and international conventions bar sending prisoners to another nation unless there are strong assurances of humane treatment. The CIA says with a straight face that it gets those assurances before delivering suspects to jailers in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Pakistan-countries that have such abysmal human rights records that promises of decent treatment are a joke.[ Editorial, Los Angeles Times, March 11]

But of course they're out of control, there's only so much we can do. [Porter Goss, director of Central Intelligence, quoted by Democratic congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts in a letter to his colleagues, March 8]

During a White House press conference on March 16, George W. Bush was asked: "Mr. President, can you explain why you've approved of and expanded the practice of what's called 'rendition'-of transferring individuals out of U.S. custody to countries where human rights groups and your own State Department say torture is common for people under custody?"

The president: "[In] the post-9-11 world, the United States must make sure we protect our people and our friends from attack. . . . One way to do so is to arrest people and send them back to their country of origin with the promise that they won't be tortured. That's the promise we receive. This country does not believe in torture."

Question: "As commander in chief, what is it that Uzbekistan can do in interrogating an individual that the United States can't?"

George W. Bush repeated his talking point: "We seek assurances that nobody will be tortured."

Actually, there is much that U.S. interrogators can learn from their counterparts in Uzbekistan on how to break down prisoners. One of the CIA's jet planes used to render purported terrorists to other countries-where information is extracted by any means necessary-made 10 trips to Uzbekistan. In a segment of CBS's 60 Minutes on these CIA torture missions (March 5), former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray told of the range of advanced techniques used by Uzbek interrogators:

"drowning and suffocation, rape was used . . . and also immersion of limbs in boiling liquid."

Two nights later on ABC's World News Tonight, Craig Murray told of photos he received of an Uzbek interrogation that ended with the prisoner actually being boiled to death!

Murray, appalled, had protested to the British Foreign Office in a confidential memorandum leaked to and printed in the Financial Times on October 11 of last year:

"Uzbek officials are torturing prisoners to extract information [about reported terrorist operations], which is supplied to the U.S. and passed through its Central Intelligence Agency to the U.K., says Mr. Murray."

Prime Minister Tony Blair quickly reacted to this undiplomatic whistle- blowing. Craig Murray was removed as ambassador to Uzbekistan.

On the BBC (October 15), Steve Crawshaw, director of the London office of Human Rights Watch, spoke plainly about George W. Bush's continual, ardent assurances that this country would never engage in torture:

"You can't wash your hands and say we didn't torture, but we will use what comes out of torture."

CIA director Porter Goss also engages in what George Orwell called doublespeak. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 17, Porter Goss said, "The United States does not engage in or condone torture."

As for our ally Uzbekistan, run by the merciless dictator Islam Karimov, Philip Stephens, a forthright columnist for the Financial Times, noted on October 19:

"Uzbekistan provides a vital base for U.S. operations in neighbouring Afghanistan. U.S. financial aid [to Uzbekistan] provides a bulwark against Russian influence." And-dig this-an October 16 Financial Times editorial points out that because the Bush administration supports the barbaric government of President Karimov, the U.S. "has given [Karimov] the confidence to sell a long-running campaign against internal dissidents as part of the campaign against Al Qaeda."

In 2003, Fatima Mukhadirova sent photographs of her son - who was tortured to death in an Uzbek prison - to the British embassy. As reported in Muslim Uzbekistan (February 12, 2004): "His teeth were smashed, his fingers were stripped of nails, and his body had been cut, bruised and scalded." His mother was put on trial "for attempted encroachment on the constitutional order" to convince her to shut up about what was done to her son. (She was subsequently convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.)

Meanwhile, Porter Goss told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 17 that one of the CIA's own techniques, waterboarding, is "an area of what I call professional interrogation techniques."

As Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch, noted in a March 21 letter to The New York Times: "Waterboarding, known in Latin America as the submarino, entails forcibly pushing a person's head under water until he believes he will drown. In practice, he often does. Waterboarding can be nothing less than torture in violation of United States and international law.

"Mr. Goss, by justifying the practice as a form of professional interrogation, renders dubious his broader claim that the C.I.A. is not practicing torture today."

I cannot resist repeating what George W. Bush said on the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (June 26, 2003): "The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States . . . in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture." Let's start at home.

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'Diplomatic Assurances' Allowing Torture
Growing Trend Defies International Law
(New York, April 15, 2005)

Governments in Europe and North America are increasingly sending suspects to abusive states on the basis of flimsy "diplomatic assurances" that expose the detainees to serious risk of torture and ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

The 91-page report, Still at Risk: Diplomatic Assurances No Safeguard against Torture, documents the growing practice among Western governments-including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands-of seeking assurances of humane treatment in order to transfer terrorism suspects to states with well-established records of torture. The report details a dozen cases involving actual or attempted transfers to countries where torture is commonplace.

"Governments that engage in torture always try to hide what they're doing, so their ‘assurances' on torture can never be trusted," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "This is a very negative trend in international diplomacy, and it's doing real damage to the global taboo against torture."

States that offer such assurances include some of the most abusive regimes in the world-Syria, Egypt and Uzbekistan. Transfers have also been effected or proposed to Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Russia, and Turkey, where certain people-for example, suspected Islamists, Chechens, or Kurds-are singled out for particularly brutal abuse. Torture is banned under international law. No exceptions are allowed, even in times of war or national emergency. The ban includes the absolute prohibition on transferring people to places where they face a risk of torture. [...]

The new report follows the April 2004 Human Rights Watch report "Empty Promises": Diplomatic Assurances No Safeguard against Torture, and draws on new case material from North America and Europe, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands. As the cases show, evidence is mounting that people who are returned to states that torture are in fact tortured, regardless of diplomatic assurances. And courts are increasingly recognizing the problem, and subjecting diplomatic assurances to greater scrutiny. Officials in the United States recently acknowledged the transfer of an undisclosed number of suspects to countries where torture is a serious human rights problem, claiming they received diplomatic assurances prior to the transfers. But in an increasing number of those cases-so-called "extraordinary renditions"-the suspects have credibly alleged that they were tortured. [...]

# In Canada, the government's "security certificate" regime permits deportations of alleged terrorism suspects to places where they are at risk of torture. To stem criticism in some of these cases, the Canadian government has sought assurances against torture from receiving states such as Egypt and Morocco.

# The December 2001 expulsions of two Egyptian asylum seekers from Sweden based on assurances against torture caused a national scandal in Sweden after the men credibly alleged that they had been tortured and ill-treated in Egyptian custody. The Swedish government denies any responsibility for the men's treatment in Egypt.

# The government of the United Kingdom is reportedly in negotiations with the Algerian and Moroccan governments to allow the transfer of terrorism suspects on the basis of assurances that they would not be tortured. But people labeled "terrorists" in those countries are routinely targeted for abusive treatment, including torture.

# Governments in the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany, have also sought assurances to effect extraditions to countries such as Turkey and Russia, where terrorism suspects are at heightened risk of abusive treatment in detention.

"Governments that are using diplomatic assurances know full well that they don't protect against torture," said Roth. "But in the age of terror, they're convenient. Only pressure from the public in Europe and North America can stop this negative trend." Governments rely on a variety of devices to transfer suspects to other countries, including renditions, removals, deportations, extraditions and expulsions. But none of them is legally permissible if the person to be transferred is at risk of torture on return. "If these suspects are criminals they should be prosecuted, and if they're not, they should be released," said Roth. "But shipping them off to countries where they'll be tortured is not an acceptable solution."

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The day Michael Howard met his match
By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor and Arifa Akbar
16 April 2005

A Jewish immigrant confronted Michael Howard on a radio phone-in show and warned the Tory leader that his incendiary remarks on asylum and immigration would cause more racially motivated attacks.

The public exchange yesterday came as Mr Howard focused the Conservative election campaign for the third successive day on immigration and asylum, one of the few issues on which the Tories are hurting Labour in the polls.

Federico Mazandarani, 51, tackled Mr Howard about his own Jewish family history as refugees in Britain when the Conservative leader appeared on BBC Radio 4's Election Call.

"Every time Mr Howard opens his mouth and talks about foreigners who are invading this country in the words that he does ... he is making life impossible for us," said Mr Mazandarani.

"Every time Michael Howard speaks about immigration, I get abused on the streets by the general public. This issue has absolutely been the bane of my life in this country for 32 years. I'm sick and tired of having politicians inflating this issue."

Another caller accused Mr Howard of xenophobia. Mr Howard replied: "I reject that absolutely. I will not be accused of racism. My grandmother was actually killed in the Holocaust."

Mr Mazandarani, a dance teacher, who lives in Forest Gate, east London, later told The Independent that like Mr Howard's own grandparents, he was a Jewish refugee who found safety in Britain. "I am the grandson of a chief rabbi, from Iran. If I had any power then I would throw him out of the faith. He is offending everything I consider sacred in the Jewish faith. He is typical of the children of immigrants who are born in this country who completely negate the torture and misery of their parents."

He came to Britain in 1972 at the age of 18 as a student. "When the Iranian revolution began in 1978, I applied as a political refugee to stay in this country. I was studying in Newcastle upon Tyne and within the first three months of my arriving there, I was beaten up in a totally unprovoked attack because of my dark complexion. Over the past 32 years, I have been attacked 28 times, with most of these being racist attacks."

Mr Mazandarani said he had voted Conservative for the Mayor of London, and said he was not a member of any party. "In 1997 [after Labour came to power] I would perhaps get abuse by the public about once a year. Now I am abused about three times a week.

"In the past three to four weeks, I have felt far greater hostility from the general public than the weeks before or the years before, since immigration has become an election issue. My Jewishness is not written on my face but my dark complexion and my accent makes me stand out."

Hannah Ward, a spokes-woman for the Refugee Council, said: "Anecdotally, it does appear that the more politicians talk about immigration issues the more hostility there is towards immigrants. It also seems that the general public's fears about immigrants goes up. It is important the issue is debated. But there is relentless hostility against immigrants. The debate must be balanced."

The Conservative leader was unrepentant, however, and claimed he was speaking for ordinary people in Britain. "I think it's common sense to say we've got to bring immigration and asylum under control," he said.

In a speech in Watford on Britishness, Mr Howard said he was astonished by Labour's reaction when he had spoken out against the abuse of planning laws and the Human Rights Act by travellers. Labour had claimed there was a "whiff of the gas chamber" about his remarks.

"These reactions go to the very heart of what's wrong in our country," he said. "The victims have become the aggressors and the aggressors have become the victims. It's this kind of madness that is creating a growing gulf between the people and the new establishment."

Mr Howard said the Tories were more in touch with the British people on the issue of immigration than Labour. He warned that political correctness threatened to force decent, ordinary people into being "intimidated into silence".

"The British public deserves to be heard. I'm talking about real people, with real concerns, whose voices are simply not heard."

Last week migrant groups warned party leaders to restrain their remarks for fear of provoking racial attacks. Labour ministers fear that the Tory attack on immigration is winning over working-class Labour voters to the Tories.

Last night, NHS managers attacked Mr Howard for whipping up public fears over the MRSA bug. In North Yorkshire, leaflets from Mr Howard claimed there had been 247 MRSA cases at the local hospital in the past year when there had only been six.

Dame Gill Morgan, the confederation's chief executive, said: "We are concerned public fears may have been raised by the Conservative Party letter about MRSA rates.

A Tory spokeswoman said the mistakes were due to a typographic error and there was no intention to mislead voters.

Two lives


was born in 1953 in Tehran, and left Iran for Britain at the age of 18 to study architecture. But he ended up reading interior industrial design at Newcastle Polytechnic.

His father was sent away by his grandfather, a chief rabbi, at the age of seven to make his own fortune. He worked at a bicycle shop and studied to become a doctor and a pharmacist and ran a pharmacy in Tehran until his death in 1982, at the age of 75. Federico completed his degree at Newcastle and in 1980-81 completed a postgraduate certificate in teaching mathematics, drama and dance. He is now a dance teacher in Forest Gate, London.


was born on 7 July 1941 into a Jewish family in south Wales. His father, Bernard, had left Romania, and set up clothes shops in Llanelli and Carmarthen.

Mr Howard attended Llanelli Grammar School and Cambridge University where he first read economics before switching to law. He was president of the Cambridge Union in 1962. He was called to the Bar in 1964 and was appointed a QC in 1982.

A year later he became Tory MP for Folkestone and Hythe. He was a cabinet minister, including Home Secretary, from 1990. He was elected Tory leader in 2003.

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Record £12m payout for Jewish woman betrayed by bank to Nazis
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
15 April 2005

The niece of an Austrian sugar tycoon whose wealth was handed to the Nazis by a Swiss bank is to get $21.8m (£11.6m) compensation, the largest settlement of its kind. Maria Altmann, 89, and other descendants, won the award in a case a New York court said was "a striking example of the wide- spread betrayal of Jewish clients by Swiss banks".

Before the Second World War, the refinery near Vienna owned by Mrs Altmann's extended family provided a fifth of Austria's sugar. It was used, among other things, to make the country's famous pastries.

But in 1938, amid growing evidence of what the Nazis had in store for Jewish families such as Mrs Altmann's, they turned to a respectable Swiss bank and set up a trust fund to protect their business. That Zurich-based bank utterly failed the family, the court ruled, because it swiftly sold the business to a Nazi sympathiser for a fraction of its value. Mrs Altmann's once wealthy family were forced to flee Austria.

Yesterday's ruling said: "Having marketed themselves to the Jews of Europe as a safe haven for their property, Swiss banks repeatedly turned Jewish- owned property over to the Nazis to curry favour with them."

The payment to Mrs Altmann and other descendants of her uncle Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer and Otto Pick - the two men who owned the refinery in the riverside town of Bruck - is by far the largest in an awards process that is distributing $1.25bn paid by Swiss banks in 1998 to settle a massive class action lawsuit. The banks were accused of violating the trust of their Jewish customers and handing over their savings, bonds and property to the Nazis. The biggest previous payout was $4m.

More than $50bn has been paid by various banks and companies since the war to settle claims relating to Holocaust-era crimes. [...]

The 1998 settlement fund overseen by the US District Court in Brooklyn followed the class action by Holocaust survivors and their families who sued Credit Suisse, UBS AG and other Swiss banks, accusing them of stealing, concealing or sending to Nazis hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Jewish holdings.

Roger Witten, a lawyer for UBS and Credit Suisse, said claims that Swiss banks had been involved in the "systematic appropriation" of the assets of Holocaust survivors had been rejected by several commissions. He told The New York Times: "These allegations are false."

Comment: Strange that a Jewish woman can get £12 million 50 years later, yet the family of the journalist killed by Jewish soldiers can't even get the criminals punished...

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Israel clears officer of killing journalist who had white flag
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
15 April 2005

The British government formally protested to Israel after the army officer who opened fire when the film-maker James Miller was shot dead in Gaza two years ago was acquitted of disciplinary charges.

The decision by the head of Israel's Southern Command to clear the officer overturned a recommendation by the military advocate general that he should be severely disciplined. Mr Miller was killed in Rafah in 2003 while walking back to his lodgings displaying a white flag and clearly identifying himself to troops as a journalist.

The officer acquitted yesterday has admitted opening fire and a 79-page report by Brigadier-General Avihai Mandelblit, the advocate general, held that the first lieutenant in the Bedouin Desert Reconnaissance Battalion had fired in clear breach of army rules of engagement.

Mr Miller's widow Sophy said the decision "makes a mockery of Israeli claims that they follow due process where IDF soldiers have acted criminally and outside their own rules of engagement".

Mr Miller's family had been bitterly disappointed when they were told at a meeting with General Mandleblit in Tel Aviv last month that the officer would not be prosecuted because of a lack of ballistic evidence proving the bullet which killed Mr Miller came from the officer's weapon. But they - and British officials - were assured that the advocate general was recommending a stiff disciplinary sentence.

Baroness Symons, the Foreign Office minister, has summoned Zvi Heifetz, the Israeli ambassador in London, on Monday to protest at the decision and urge that it be reversed, a message also strongly conveyed in a letter last night by Simon McDonald, the British ambassador in Tel Aviv, in a letter to Shaul Mofaz, Israel's Defence Minister.

Yesterday, Baroness Symons said she was "shocked and saddened" by the decision by the Brigadier-General Guy Tzur, the Southern Command chief of staff. The Israeli army said General Tzur decided that under the conditions then - including "frequent terrorist attacks; thick darkness and earlier that same day the soldiers were fired at by anti-tank missiles" - the shooting was "reasonable". The family's lawyers are seeking reversal of the decision. .

Mr Miller, an award-winning documentary maker who had been working on a film about Palestinian children caught up in the conflict, was shot while walking openly with two colleagues to their apartment.

They were carrying a white flag with a torch shone on it, their helmets were clearly marked "TV" and they called out that they were British journalists as they approached an armoured personnel carrier to ask permission to leave. Israeli claims of heavy fire between Palestinians and Israeli troops at the time were disproved because an Associated Press cameraman filmed the incident.

Mrs Miller said the family believed there had been no "genuine will" to uncover the truth because the site of the shooting had not been secured for forensic investigation. It was bulldozed three days later and Israeli authorities took 11 weeks to impound the guns involved in Mr Miller's death for ballistic examination.

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U.S. Curbs Israeli Role in F-35 Plane Development
Fri Apr 15, By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has curbed Israel's involvement in development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the biggest warplane program ever, because of its arms deals with China opposed by Washington, U.S. defense officials said on Friday.

"There are some types of technology and information involved in the Joint Strike Fighter that we are not comfortable sharing until we resolve the technology and security issues," an official, who declined to be named, said.

The United States and Israel have been at odds for years over advanced technology transfers to China. Washington fears some sales could tilt the balance of power and make it more difficult to defend Taiwan, which Beijing deems a renegade province.

In recent months, Pentagon leaders have been angered in particular by what they consider an upgrading of spare parts for China's fleet of Israeli- supplied Harpy attack drones.

"Technology has made its way inappropriately to China via Israel," the official said. "There have been many violations of technology transfer agreements."

Both he and two other defense official who discussed the matter declined to spell out details of the alleged breaches.

The curtailment of Israeli participation in the Joint Strike Fighter coincides with a U.S. drive to keep the European Union from lifting its 16- year-old embargo on China arms sales. [...]

Israel is a minor participant in the F-35 program, which is being developed by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corp. with eight full-fledged foreign partners who have already put up funds: Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.

On Feb. 14, 2003, Israel signed a letter of intent to contribute an estimated $50 million to the program, which is building a family of fighter/attack jets, including conventional take-off and landing models for the U.S. Air Force and short take-off vertical landing for the U.S. Marine Corps and Britain's Royal Navy. [...]

Comment: Since Israel exists on the charity of the U.S., one wonders where they got the money to back up this "letter of intent?"

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Lebanese premier starts forming cabinet
Saturday 16 April 2005, 15:28 Makka Time, 12:28 GMT

Lebanon's new prime minister, Najib Miqati, has begun talks to form a cabinet amid rising hopes for prompt elections.

His appointment on Friday came after his pro-Syrian predecessor Umar Karami resigned twice in six weeks, leaving the country without a government as it confronted its deepest political crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 war.

The United States and European Union voiced hope that the naming of Miqati, a wealthy telecommunications businessman and former minister of public works, would ensure that legislative elections are held as planned by the end of May.

US President George Bush issued a stern reminder to Syria, the main powerbroker in Lebanon for almost three decades, to complete its troop pullout from the country before the elections.

US warning

"When I say, get out of Lebanon, I mean out of Lebanon with all your troops and all your security services and all the people trying to influence that government. It is in the world's interest that Lebanon be allowed to have free elections, because a free society will help spread the peace," he said.

Comment: Would that the world stand up to the Bush Führer and say the same thing.

The European Union said it hoped a new cabinet would be formed "at an early date... and urges the Lebanese authorities to proceed without delay to free, fair and transparent elections on schedule."

Lebanon has been without a government since Karami resigned at the end of February under the weight of huge protests sparked by the assassination of his predecessor Rafiq al-Hariri in a massive Beirut bomb blast.

In the upheaval that followed al-Hariri's killing on 14 February, the international community succeeded in pushing Syria to promise an end to its 29-year military presence in Lebanon by 30 April, although it remains a powerful political influence.


Miqati, a family friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, was meeting former prime ministers on Saturday and was due to start parliamentary consultations on Monday, facing an end of April deadline to call elections.

"I come with an open hand and an open heart so that we can all cooperate in the interests of Lebanon," the 49-year-old Sunni Muslim said after his selection.

"We are facing a new period... a return to democracy," he said, pledging to be a "symbol of moderation and national unity."

He told top-selling Al-Nahar newspaper he intended to form a "restricted government that could hold elections as soon as possible" and would sack security service chiefs before a UN commission arrives to probe al-Hariri's murder.

Lebanon's opposition, which found a powerful new voice after the killing of al-Hariri, blamed the attack on the pro-Syrian regime and its political masters in Damascus and had been demanding the sacking of top security officials.

Miqati was chosen over Damascus protege President Emile Lahud's candidate, outgoing Defence Minister Abd al-Rahim Murad, amid signs of cracks among loyalists allied to Syria.

Miqati support

The opposition, which expects to win the elections and had warned of more mass street protests if a government was not formed soon, decided to back Miqati after he pledged to meet some of their demands and despite his links to Syria.

"We have undoubtedly entered the era of the settlement of the crisis. There is a danger of instability... which prompted us to choose a prime minister who is close to all parties, including the Syrian leadership and doctor Bashar al-Asad."

Al-Hariri's sister, MP Bahia al-Hariri, met with Lahud for the first time since her brother's killing to back Miqati's nomination.

"We were facing two things: either to enter constitutional vacuum or offer a compromise, and this is what the opposition chose," she said.

In further signs of reconciliation, Walid Jumblatt met for the first time in Paris on Friday with his former wartime foe, exiled Christian leader Michel Aun.

Aun, who plans to return home next month, told Al-Safir he had agreed with Jumblatt to join the next government.

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Europe, US: Rekindled romance?
By Soumayya Ghannoushi
Thursday 14 April 2005, 13:40 Makka Time, 10:40 GMT

There is much symbolism in the fact that the American president's first foreign trip of his second term took him across the Atlantic, not to Britain, Poland or Italy, but to Old Europe.

Bush had dinner and talks not with Tony Blair, or Silvio Berlusconi, but with Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, whom Washington rightly holds guilty for stripping its invasion of Iraq of the UN backing that would have lent it some legitimacy in the eyes of many.

But for all the buzz of excitement the visit has created in a Europe eager to let bygones be bygones, there is little hope of this revival of American diplomacy healing the ongoing transatlantic rift.

That a string of high-ranking American officials would make their way to Europe would have been virtually unthinkable two years ago.

Neither would charm, courtesy and cheerfulness have been the adjectives one would have readily used to characterise the American state secretary, defence secretary or president.

But in Europe the hawks were all dovish smiles, from Condoleezza Rice and Bush to Donald Rumsfeld.

But much has happened since Rumsfeld sneered at Old Europe, or the founding countries of the European Union, for not falling in line behind the US-led invasion of Iraq.

The absurdly simple invasion the neo-conservative administration promised the world turned out to be absurdly long, arduous, costly and brutal.

The "liberated" Iraqis did not greet their American "liberators" with roses as Richard Perle, a fellow hawk, had prophesied. Neither was imposing control over the conquered country a "cakewalk".

And the threat of weapons of mass destruction was spectacularly exposed as a figment of the US administration's fertile imagination. In short, all Washington's calculations were found to be scandalously false, all its predictions unfounded.

The "liberators" were not even given a chance to celebrate their victory over Saddam's wretched ragtag army.

Daily mass demonstrations were soon followed by daily attacks that penetrated even the walls of the Green Zone fortress behind which American officials and their Iraqi sidekicks sheltered.

Rather than the promised sweet smell of freedom, Iraqi cities reeked with the stench of death. Iraq was now a euphemism for anarchy, chaos, insecurity and carnage. America was mired in its biggest guerrilla war since Vietnam.

As the US death toll mounted (topping 1500 according to US defence figures, albeit a mere footnote in comparison with the tens of thousands slaughtered Iraqis), so did the cost of maintaining the occupation (a staggering $156 million).

Struggling in the Iraqi quagmire, the US had no alternative but to turn to the United Nations and Europe for assistance, having denounced the one as "irrelevant" and the other as "old".

Bush's return to Old Europe reflects in essence the limits of military power no matter how potent it may be. For all their grandeur and might, superpowers cannot dispense with allies and partners.

The burden of the world is much too heavy to be borne by the American giant alone

Bush's return to Old Europe's chilly embrace is not the result of a pang of conscience. It is a question of necessity not choice.

But if the depth of its crisis in Iraq was the chief factor in dragging the neo-conservative team back to the international bodies it had turned its back on, it certainly was not the only one.

Amidst growing resistance to US global dominance either on the part of the Chinese, who are steadily moving towards the accumulation and assertion of their economic and military power, or that of the Russians who recently announced the development of a new generation of strategic weapons, along with the gradual exhaustion of the overstretched American military force scattered in bases across an increasingly chaotic world, the US found itself unable to maintain its isolationist unilateralism and compelled to renew forsaken alliances.

This must not, however, be taken as a sign that Washington's hawks have abandoned the fundamentals of their foreign agenda. Indeed, little appears to have changed about Bush's message except its tone.

All he and his rightwing team have said since their visit to Europe indicates that they have not relinquished their commitment to a unipolar world order where the US enjoys unrivalled full-spectrum dominance unhampered by international laws and obligations.

For the achievement of this end, the US had found it necessary to place itself outside the regime of international law through declaring the use of pre-emptive strikes as the basis of its 2002 National Security Strategy, thereby repudiating the system of absolute state sovereignty that governed international relations since 1648.

Unipolarism remains the axis of US foreign strategy. The difference today is one of means not ends. Military power is now corroborated with the instrument of diplomacy.

This is confirmed by the appointment of John Bolton as the US ambassador to the UN and nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank, both staunch opponents of international institutions and fierce champions of American unilateralism.

Bush's keynote speech of his European tour reflected the same obsession with the Middle East region, the cornerstone of the expansionist US foreign strategy.

As he put it, "The future of our nations and the future of the Middle East are linked." This neo-imperialism is now pursued under the banner of emancipating the region from the iron grip of its despotic states, which, according to Bush, necessarily fall under one of two categories: "failed" or "rogue".

The Europeans, better acquainted with the labyrinthine socio-political landscape of the region, thanks to their not-so-distant colonial past, are, however, not too enthusiastic about Bush's unbridled rhetoric of "spreading the untamed fire of freedom" to the region.

If ignited, they fear, the flame of freedom might consume more than the despised Arab regimes. Despotic, outmoded, decadent and sclerotic as they are, these regimes dispose of an essential virtue: their proven talent for maintaining "stability", a euphemism for safeguarding foreign interests at the expense of their own populace.

In the Middle East, democracy spells danger.

Beneath the appearance of reconciliation and unity, the US and the old continent are set apart by a cluster of differences that stem from two irreconcilable visions of the shape and structure of the world order.

The US does not see Europe as it would want to be seen, a partner in a multi-polar world, but as a useful bolster for its position in a unipolar world.

Europe, with the exception of Britain still torn between the two continents, is actively seeking to strengthen its political and economic capabilities, which serves as a source of anxiety for the US in its quest for global hegemony.

As David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, put it, for the US, a united, internationally active Europe "raises important strategic questions".

In the eve of Bush's visit to Europe, Schroeder declared to a Munich defence conference that Nato was no longer the main forum for transatlantic discourse.

Insisting that the organisation undermines Europe's status as a partner to the US, he added: "The same applies to the dialogue between the European Union and the US, which in its current form does justice neither to the union's growing importance, nor to the new demands of transatlantic cooperation."

A few days after Bush's conciliatory visit, the US Congress issued a blunt warning to the EU over its plans to lift its arms embargo on China imposed in 1989 after Tiananmen Square, with Richard Lugar, head of the Senate foreign relations committee, threatening to stop military technology sales to the EU.

China's military spending, it must remembered, is increasing by double digits every year, to the extent that analysts predict that within 10 years it would overhaul Russia as the second-largest military power after the US.

But Europe's involvement in China is a cause of concern to the US on an economic level too. Central banks, led by the People's Bank of China, are in fact financing about 75-85% of the US current account deficit (a gigantic $164.7bn), which is causing the Central Bank of China to suffer rising economic losses in view of the continuing devaluation of the dollar (a capital loss equivalent to 10% of Chinese GDP).

In the climate of Chinese-European rapprochement, the US rightly fears that China may decide to move into the strong Euro as an alternative reserve currency, particularly since Europe is already a bigger market for Chinese goods than the US.

This would spell trouble to the US, as an increasing number of central banks across the world are shifting from the dollar to the European single currency, making it harder for the US to finance its massive current account deficit.

Even where the two appear to speak in harmony, as on the question of Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon, they remain committed to divergent agendas and strategies.

To the Americans, wresting Lebanon from Syria is essential for the removal of Hizb Allah's political cover (which France has objected to including in the European list of terrorist organisations) as a prelude to its planned attack on the Iranian regime.

To the French, however, reclaiming Lebanon is part of France's ongoing struggle to regain its influence in its old colonies.

Lebanon would be the foothold France needs to restore its declining Francophone project in the Middle East in the face of a rampant Anglo-Saxonism.

Far from obediently trailing the American giant, the world appears to be pressing in the opposite direction.

The world order, as we knew it for over a decade, seems to be disintegrating into a multitude of powers, each striving to bolster its economic and political mechanisms, strengthen its military capabilities, and assert itself in the face of an avaricious American hyper power.

What final shape this process of polarisation would assume we cannot foretell. What we do know, however, is that our world is moving towards greater resistance to American global hegemony, greater instability and greater chaos.

Soumayya Ghannoushi is a researcher in the history of ideas at the School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London.

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Chirac: 'No' vote on E.U. benefits U.S
PARIS, April 14 (UPI)

A "no" vote to the European Constitution would weaken the EU and benefit the United States, warned French President Jacques Chirac, Thursday.

Appearing on a live televised debate with a group of 83 young French citizens aged 18-30, Chirac replied during two full hours to questions from the public, trying to promote a "yes" vote.

Chirac said a European constitution is important to help build a stronger Europe in the face of other powers.

"Europe must be strong, it must have the power to survive in tomorrow's world," said the French president.

Chirac said that France and Europe would in the future face other super powers such as the United States, China, Russia and even Brazil and the rest of Latin America.

The French will vote May 29 in a national referendum if they should support the European constiturion. For the moment, the "no" appears to have a slight edge.

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Chirac given thumbs down over plea for 'oui'
PARIS, April 15 (AFP)
French President Jacques Chirac failed to persuade sceptical voters to support the landmark EU constitution in a crucial upcoming referendum despite an impassioned televised appeal, commentators said Friday.

"Chirac struggles", read the front-page headline of the popular daily Le Parisien, while the conservative Le Figaro entitled its commentary: "A missed opportunity".

In a high-stakes two-hour live television appearance late Thursday aimed at jumpstarting the flailing 'yes' campaign, Chirac warned that a 'no' vote would weaken France's influence and make it the "black sheep" of the European Union.

He insisted the treaty could not be renegotiated if the 'no' camp were to prevail, but ruled out resigning should voters reject the text on May 29.

"The head of state may not have succeeded," Le Figaro said in its editorial.

"Jolted by a badly designed TV program, he never got the chance to develop his arguments, other than to say that Europe would not be liberal, that we would be spared the Anglo-Saxon model and that we should not be afraid."

Speaking to a group of 80 young adults handpicked for the occasion, Chirac said France's influence in Europe would be diminished and European integration brought to a halt should voters reject the constitution.

"The reality is that you would have 24 countries that voted yes and then the black sheep that blocked everything", he said.

"France would be considerably weakened," he warned, adding that within Europe, "France would cease to exist politically."

"European construction would stop," he said, adding: "The argument that we could renegotiate (the treaty) is not a serious one."

"Let's not be afraid," he urged the audience. [...]

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Saudi crown prince, Chirac hold private lunch
Thu Apr 14, 3:51 PM ET

PARIS - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and de facto ruler Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz held private talks with French President Jacques Chirac over lunch on the last day of a two-day official visit to Paris.

Following the hour-long meeting, Abdullah told journalists that "there are absolutely no disagreements between France and Saudi Arabia, on any matters."

When asked about the political future of Lebanon, the Saudi crown prince said: "Lebanon is a country that is very dear to us. Lebanon and Syria are brother countries, and brother countries must be able to count on each other."

After the February 14 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, who was close to both Chirac and Saudi leaders, Paris and Riyadh stepped up pressure on Damascus to pull its troops out of Lebanon.

For his part, the French president described his lunch with Abdullah as "perfect, as always, given the traditional, long-standing and very strong friendship between Saudi Arabia and France."

Before they sat down to lunch at the Elysee presidential palace, Chirac and Abdullah toured the Islamic arts section of the Louvre museum.

Abdullah, who was the guest of honor at a state dinner hosted by Chirac on Wednesday, later arrived at Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's Matignon offices for private talks and a dinner.

After his visit to France, Abdullah was to spend several days in Morocco before heading to the United States for talks on April 25 with US President George W. Bush at his Texas ranch, and then on to Canada.

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Russia eyes Rice visit to end drift in US ties
Yahoo News

Russia wants to steer relations with the United States back onto solid footing after months of drift and will tell US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week that it remains a reliable partner in areas of strategic importance for both countries, experts say.

While the two countries have found themselves either in direct opposition or taking approaches of nuanced difference on issues ranging from controversial elections in Ukraine and Iraq to Iran's nuclear program, Russia will stress that these divergences are outweighed by common interests.

Chief among them is prosecution of the so-called international war on terrorism -- a cause denounced by liberal critics in both countries as a license to jettison basic civil liberties -- and its attendant fight against spread of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin met US President George Bush in Bratislava in February, "the US was in a very critical mood and wanted to give Russia a spanking," according to Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy director for the Moscow-based Institute for USA and Canada Studies.

That meeting followed muscular diplomatic exchanges between the two countries over revolts in ex-Soviet republics that replaced Moscow-backed regimes with pro-Western leaders and came amid pointed US questioning of political reforms pushed by Putin that critics regard as anti-democratic.

But the Bratislava "spanking" was averted and "Condoleezza Rice will now judge whether it was right or not to put off this spanking" and whether Russia is indeed, as Putin has promised, staying true to democratic principles - even if adapting them to suit Russian realities, Kremenyuk said.

He and many other political insiders here cited fragmentary and unconfirmed information that in exchange for US assent to limit criticism of Putin's domestic political agenda, the Russia leader granted US inspectors unprecedented secret access to some of Russia's nuclear weapons facilities.

"More than anything else, Bush fears that terrorists could get hold of nuclear weapons from Russian sources because of weak security controls," Kremenyuk said. "The Americans are prepared to pay to make sure these weapons are safeguarded, but want to verify this security for themselves." [...]

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Shiites flee Iraqi town after gunmen seize hostages
Yahoo News

Iraqi Shiites were fleeing the town of Al-Madain south of Baghdad after gunmen rounded up more than 80 residents and threatened to kill them.

"Gunmen are going around with loudspeakers demanding that all Shiites leave the town," said Captain Haitham Mohammed of the Iraqi army who fled Madain with several people to the city of Kut further south.

"They have detained more than 80 people, including women and children, and they are threatening to kill them unless Shiites leave."

Mohammed said many Iraqi soldiers and police officers have changed into civilian clothing and have fled the mixed Sunni-Shiite town on the Tigris river 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of the capital.

"Gunmen have ringed the town," said Khodeir Abbas, 72, who fled with 10 members of his family.

A distraught Abbas Mahmoud, 47, a labourer in Madain's market said: "I fled the town fearing they would kill me if I stayed."

Dozens of families from Madain, which is built on the site of the ancient city of Ctesiphon, were arriving on Saturday in Kut, 200 kilometres (120 miles) south of Baghdad, an AFP correspondent said.

The road linking Baghdad with Kut is among the most dangerous in the country where several beheaded bodies have surfaced in recent months.

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Berlusconi in a Corner as Ally Quits Italy Government
By Francesca Piscioneri, Reuters
April 15, 2005

ROME - An Italian coalition party announced on Friday it was quitting the government in a move likely to force Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to resign and seek a fresh mandate from parliament.

Sparking the worst political crisis of Berlusconi's four years in office, the Union of Christian Democrats (UDC) said its four ministers would leave the cabinet and urged the prime minister to form a new administration with new policies.

Berlusconi, who is determined to serve a full five-year term, due to end in spring 2006, has previously said he would not accept a major overhaul of his center-right coalition. But after the UDC decision he said all options were open.

"I am completely unworried because as far as I'm concerned, I haven't ruled anything out," he told reporters, adding in his famously self-confident style: "You're not going to get rid of me that easily."

The political crisis was triggered by local elections earlier this month in which the government parties lost 11 of the 13 regions up for grabs in a sign of voter discontent over months of economic stagnation.

The centrist UDC party said the unexpectedly heavy defeat meant the government needed a radical revamp in personnel and policies if it wanted to win general elections slated for 2006.

Berlusconi rejected the demand and UDC leaders decided on Friday to quit the cabinet in an effort to force him into a U-turn, said European Affairs Minister Rocco Buttiglione, a UDC member.

"The leadership of the UDC has approved a document to withdraw its team from the government and reiterates that the party secretary should work for the creation of a new government ... headed by Berlusconi," said Buttiglione.

The UDC indicated that if Berlusconi refused the request the party would continue to support his coalition in parliament. But that "external support" would leave Berlusconi exposed, without a formal majority in either the upper of lower houses of parliament.


Berlusconi must now decide whether to try to forge ahead with the three remaining major coalition partners or start talks with the UDC on the formation of a new administration.

Alternatively he could resign and refuse to head a new government. Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi would then have to decide whether to call a snap general election or else try to put together an alternative administration.

Between meetings with leaders from his coalition on Friday, Berlusconi refused to be drawn on what he may do.

Piero Fassino, leader of the main opposition party, the Democrats of the Left, called on Berlusconi to resign.

"The decision by the UDC to withdraw its ministers creates a political crisis that cannot be hidden or disguised," Fassino said in a statement. "The prime minister must resign today."

The UDC's leader, Deputy Prime Minister Marco Follini, initially called for a snap election after the regional election rout, saying that would be the most "politically honest" move.

After a cabinet crisis meeting on Thursday where he rejected the UDC's demands, the premier was characteristically bullish.

"I'm not afraid of crises," he told reporters. "If others betray the way Italians voted, that's not my business."

Berlusconi swept to power in 2001 at the head of a four-party coalition, promising to reform hidebound Italy. But the economy has struggled to grow during the last four years and the government's popularity has steadily declined.

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Head of Russian Jewish Congress Proposes Rapid Reaction Force - Paper
Created: 15.04.2005 17:20 MSK (GMT 3), Updated: 17:54 MSK, 4 hours 34 minutes ago

Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov has met with the president of the Russian Jews Congress, Vladimir Slutsker, to discuss measures to prevent anti-Semitism in Russian society.

Last week, Slutsker proposed the idea of establishing a rapid reaction force to defend Russian Jews, Kommersant newspaper wrote on Friday. Speaking at the business club session, he said such groups could be "called on a 24-hour phone to defend Russian Jews from violent attacks." It was, however, not clear whether he discussed this proposal with Ustinov or not.

Earlier, Russia's top rabbi Berl Lazar met with Ustinov to discuss a letter sent to the Prosecutor General's office calling for a ban on Jewish organizations. The prosecutor general told Lazar the problem could not be solved with legal methods alone, and an expert group must consider all aspects.

The paper cited the congress press service as saying that Slutsker's meeting with Ustinov had no connection to Lazar's, although they discussed "measures to prevent xenophobia, religious hatred and anti-Semitism in society". Ustinov and Slutsker found that the whole of society, representatives of religious confessions and state power should make efforts to "cultivate tolerance, respect towards people of different nationality and belief".

The prosecutor general's press service declined to comment on the meeting, as did the congress' press service.

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Is the World Ready for a Black Pope?
By Philip Pullella
April 15, 2005

VATICAN CITY - On crosses and paintings in Catholic Churches throughout Africa, Jesus is depicted as black -- a suffering man on a suffering continent.

Now some say the time may have come for cardinals to consider a black African for the papacy when they enter the conclave on Monday.

"I think that an African pope would show the world that the Catholic Church is no longer a white or European institution but a truly universal Church that includes all races, all cultures and all nationalities," said Father Tom Reese, a leading Church historian.

"I think it would be a positive thing," Reese, an American Jesuit who is author of the book "Inside the Vatican" and editor of the U.S. Jesuit weekly America, told Reuters.

The leading African candidate is Cardinal Francis Arinze, a 72-year-old Nigerian who has worked at the Vatican for more than 20 years, mostly as the pope's point man for Islamic relations.

While he is not the only African candidate, his combination of Vatican knowledge, theological conservatism, pastoral experience and deep spirituality makes him the favorite. [...]

Is the world and the Catholic Church ready for a non-white pope?

"I think the real question is how would an African be accepted by the rest of the Church ... We still have a lot of racism," said Reese. "I personally think that any Catholic who cannot accept a black pope doesn't belong in the Catholic Church."

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Ecuadoran president declares state of emergency amid mass protests
Fri Apr 15
Yahoo News

Ecuadoran President Lucio Gutierrez has declared a state of emergency in the capital and suspended the country's Supreme Court following mass protests against recent judicial reforms.

The emergency declaration, which curbs individual liberties and empowers the government to take extraordinary measures to quell unrest, also covers the province of Pichincha.

In a televised address to the nation, Gutierrez said he was compelled to take such a drastic measure in order to maintain calm and stability in the country.

The unrest was sparked by a bid by the ruling party to restructure the nation's Supreme Court undertaken at the end of last year.

The reform, pushed through Congress by the ruling majority in early December, was immediately blasted by the opposition as an attempt by the government to establish its control over the nation's highest court and set off a new round of political maneuvering in an effort to undo the reforms.

Congress was set to meet on Tuesday to consider the future of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, about 10,000 people have been protesting in the streets of Quito since Thursday, banging pans and other cookware and demanding the president's resignation.

"Lucio out!" chanted the demonstrators. "Yes to democracy, no to dictatorship!"

"We will continue these peaceful protests until the Gutierrez government falls," declared Paca Velasco, the owner of a popular Quito radio station and one of the organizers of the demonstrations.

Several labor unions have launched a series of 24-hour strikes, blaming the president for attempts to manipulate the high court in order to consolidate his power. Some schools have closed, but banks have remained open.

But the strikes have not affected the country's second-largest city, Guayaquil, and therefore were seen as a setback for the opposition.

The protesters have been infuriated by the Supreme Court's decisions not to put on trial former presidents Abdala Bucaram, who ruled Ecuador from 1996 to 1997, and Gustavo Noboa, who was president from 2000 to 2003.

Bucaram had lived in exile in Panama while Noboa had found refuge in the Dominican Republic.

But the court decision has allowed the former leaders, both allies of Presidentr Gutierrez, to return to Ecuador in early April.

"I am a nuclear bomb for the Ecuadoran oligarchy," Bucaram declared, pointing out he planned to run for president again.

In his earlier speech, Gutierrez said he will not allow lawmakers to reform the Supreme Court through a simple congressional resolution, insisting that new changes should take place after consulting the people.

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Teens Plead Guilty to Killing Grandparents
By ERRIN HAINES, Associated Press Writer
Thu Apr 14, 7:01 PM ET

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. - A 15-year-old girl and her ex-girlfriend pleaded guilty Thursday to stabbing her grandparents to death last summer so the young couple could be together.

Holly Harvey told the judge that while she was knifing her 73-year-old grandmother, "my eyes were closed the whole time."

Harvey pleaded guilty to two counts of malice murder and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. She will not be eligible for parole for 20 years. Sandy Ketchum, 16, was sentenced to three life terms, to be served concurrently.

Shortly after the teens' court hearings, authorities arrested a man and charged him with murder for allegedly giving the girls crack and marijuana that they smoked the day of the killings.

Sarah Collier and her husband, Carl Collier, 74, were each stabbed numerous times Aug. 2 inside the couple's house outside Atlanta.

As part of her plea, Harvey detailed how she killed the couple.

She said she and Ketchum had stayed out all night, then spent the morning of the killings listening to music in her basement bedroom. That was when Ketchum suggested stealing the grandparents' truck "to get something to calm us down," Harvey said.

"'We'll have to kill them to do that,'" Harvey said she responded.

"But I didn't mean nothing by that," she told Judge Pascal English.

Ketchum first suggested hitting them in the head with a lamp, then suggested getting a knife, Harvey said. "I got the biggest knife I could find out of the kitchen," she said, adding that they practiced stabbing a mattress to see if the knife was sharp enough.

When the grandparents came downstairs to get a suitcase, Harvey said she stabbed her grandmother.

Harvey said her grandfather pinned her down, and she stabbed him in the chest. She chased him as he ran upstairs and tried to call for help, pulling the phone out of the wall, Harvey said.

"He grabbed the knife and I thought he was going to stab me," Harvey said. She said she took the knife from him and started attacking him.

When the judge asked Harvey why she did it, the teen said, "For Sandy," and added, "So that we could be together."

Ketchum's hearing was much shorter. She was not forced to detail the crime because she had immediately cooperated with authorities and showed signs of remorse, officials said. She was prepared to testify against her former friend, had the case gone to trial. [...]

The girls were arrested the day after the killings at a beach house on Tybee Island, about four hours away. Police say they found a to-do list of sorts scrawled in ink on Harvey's arm: "kill, keys, money, jewelry."

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Utah Man Pleads Guilty to Murdering Wife
Fri Apr 15
Yahoo News

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A Utah man pleaded guilty on Friday to killing his wife after she learned that he had lied about getting into medical school, avoiding a high-profile trial set to begin next week.

"I intentionally shot Lori Hacking in the head with a .22 rifle," Mark Hacking told Judge Denise Lindberg.

Hacking, a 28-year-old hospital orderly, had been charged with the first- degree murder of his wife, Lori, but had entered a not guilty plea last October. [...]

The courtroom was packed for Friday's hearing. Both his and Lori's families were in attendance but Mark Hacking, shackled and wearing a brown prison jump suit, made no eye contact with anyone except the judge and his attorney. [...]

In exchange for Hacking's guilty plea, prosecutors dropped three obstruction of justice charges. Prosecutors said they would ask for the maximum of life in prison when Hacking is sentenced on June 6.

The case drew national attention when Lori Hacking, 27, was reported missing on July 19 by her husband, who said she did not return from a morning jog.

Police quickly focused on Mark Hacking as a suspect.

Hacking had told family and friends they were preparing for a move to North Carolina where he was to enter medical school. Records later showed he had not even graduated from college.

After entering a psychiatric hospital shortly after his wife disappeared and while the search for her was still underway Mark Hacking confessed to his brothers.

In October police found Lori Hacking's badly decomposed body in a landfill. The .22 rifle has never been found.

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Climate change wreaking havoc with seasons
By Matthew Beard
The Independent
15 April 2005

Climate change is playing havoc with the timing of the seasons and could drastically alter the landscape, according to one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind.

Frogs have begun spawning in Britain as early as October, oaks are coming into leaf three weeks earlier than they were 50 years ago and there were an unprecedented 4,000 sightings of bumblebees by the end of January this year.

Scientists, who also noted that people were mowing their lawns earlier, have concluded that spring now arrives ahead of schedule.

The findings were submitted to scientists at the UK Phenology Network by hundreds of paid observers across the country and have been combined with environmental data over three centuries. The study is bound to intensify calls for tighter controls on environmental pollution linked to climate change.

The report, published yesterday in the BBC Wildlife Magazine, provides startling evidence of how nature is reacting to rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. Authors of the report have calculated that spring starts around six days earlier for every 1C temperature rise but not all species are affected in the same way.

For example for every 1C temperature rise, oak trees come into leaf 10 days earlier compared to four days earlier for the ash, its main competitor for space.

In an example of the ecological balance being upset, these changes also affect caterpillars, which are developing earlier to meet the need to feed on the trees' young leaves. This may also have an effect on the migratory patterns of birds that feed on the insects, which can more readily adapt to climate change.

"The findings suggest that there won't be a smooth progression towards a warmer climate, with all species advancing in unison, but rather that different responses may disrupt the complex linkages in nature," said Tim Sparks, one of the report's authors.

The authors predict more drastic changes if, as expected, global temperatures rise between 2C and 6C.

It is now warmer than at any point in the past 1,000 years and nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred in the past decade.

England's beech woods may disappear along with animals such as Scotland's capercaillie and snow bunting - both birds which prefer a cold environment.

The landscape may also change because of shifting rainfall patterns, more extreme weather and rising sea levels, the report predicts. Arable farming may migrate to the west as parts of East Anglia become too dry to cultivate.

"Climate change will affect our wildlife but nature is difficult to predict" said Mr Sparks. "What is clear is that we need to act now if we are able to help the natural world to survive and adapt to future change."

Under a warming climate, Britain may be invaded by new animals and plants. Among birds, the candidates include the black kite, cattle egret and hoopoe. There may also be new moths and butterflies, including the mazarine blue butterfly and the black-veined white butterfly.

More evidence of change


The long-winged conehead, formerly restricted to the south coast, has moved 60 miles north.


A migrating species that is now spending the winter in the UK.


Spawning has occurred before Christmas for several years in milder parts of Cornwall. Researchers have discovered dozens of cases in October and as far north as Northern Ireland.


Activity in winter is aided by exotic flowers but scientists have logged 4,000 reports of bees in January in what is called a "significant change" in behaviour.


Flowering is no longer restricted to spring with it being spotted on Christmas Day. There are similar changes with the white dead-nettle.


In the past 50 years the oak has come into leaf three weeks earlier. In southern England leaves now emerge in late March.


Now grows all year with 7 per cent of respondents to the survey in Scotland cutting their grass in winter.

Comment: Don't miss our Climate and Earth Changes Supplement, a compilation of news stories about climate change and its effects covering 2002 to the present day.

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Colorado State University
April 2005

We foresee an above-average hurricane season for the Atlantic basin in 2005. Also, an above-average probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is anticipated.

We have adjusted our forecast upward from our early December forecast and may further raise our prediction in our later updates if we can be sure El Niño conditions will not develop.

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More than 40,000 take refuge as Indonesian volcano continues rumbling

JAKARTA: More than 40,000 people living beneath the volcanic shadow of Mount Talang in western Indonesia have been evacuated as it continued spewing hot ash on Saturday, officials said.

Around 43,100 residents from seven subdistricts had fled the slopes of the 2,572 meters (8,438 feet) volcano on Sumatra island since it began spewing ashe on Tuesday, said Mas Ace Purbawinata of the Vulcanology Office.

"We are continuously monitoring this volcano since it is still on its highest alert level and continues erupting hot ash. Local officials have evacuated some 41,000 people from the immediate vicinity of the volcano," he told AFP.

Local officials had sealed off an area of five kilometers (three miles) to visitors and residents from Mount Talang's three craters.

Mount Talang is among 11 rumbling volcanoes that are under close watch for possible new disasters by vulcanologists.

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A minor earthquake jolts southern Iran
Saturday, April 16, 2005 - ©2005

LONDON - A minor earthquake hit the city of Lar in this southern province Saturday morning. According to IRNA, it was measuring 3.4 degrees on the Richter scale.

According to the seismological base of Geophysics Institute of Tehran University, the tremor occurred at 07:06 hours local time (0236 GMT).

The base registered the epicenter of the quake at the outskirts of Lar, located in 27.91 degree latitude and 54.29 degree longitude.

There are no reports of damage to property caused by the quake.

Iran is situated on some of the world's most active seismic fault lines and quakes of varying magnitudes are of usual occurrence.

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20 convicted Australian pedophiles tried to travel to tsunami-hit countries: Report

CANBERRA: About 20 convicted Australian pedophiles unsuccessfully tried to travel to Indonesia and Thailand immediately after the Dec. 26 tsunami to prey on vulnerable children, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

The pedophiles were recorded on a new Australian child sex offender register which requires them to tell police where and when they intend to relocate or travel, The Weekend Australian newspaper said.

Police alerted Indonesian and Thai authorities that the men intended to visit early this year and those governments denied them visas, Western Australia state police Det. Sgt. Martin Voyez told the newspaper.

"After the tsunami, a large number of Indonesian and Thai children were displaced and became very vulnerable," Voyez was quoted as saying.

"This attracted a higher number of pedophiles to those areas than usual."

The newspaper did not say how many pedophiles would usually apply to travel to those countries.

Voyez told the newspaper Indonesia and Thailand always denied entry to registered pedophiles. He wasn't immediately available for comment on Saturday.

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Wendy's Doubles Chili Finger Reward to $100,000
Fri Apr 15

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Wendy's International Inc. on Friday doubled to $100,000 the reward it is offering for information on the origin of a human finger found last month in a bowl of chili at one of its restaurants.

In a statement, Wendy's President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Mueller said the company's franchisees and employees have "done nothing wrong, yet they are paying a severe price with sales down significantly" in the San Jose, California, area where the incident occurred.

Some of the franchisees have laid off workers or reduced workers' hours, the company said.

"Our brand reputation has been affected nationally," Mueller added. "We are determined to find out what really happened in this incident."

Wendy's has said repeatedly that its own investigation into the matter found no evidence of any finger or hand accidents among any of its workers or suppliers. The workers also passed lie detector tests, the company said on Friday.

Anna Ayala, the woman who said last month she found a finger in her bowl of Wendy's chili, is no longer pursuing a legal claim against Wendy's, the company said, citing media reports. She is also no longer being represented by San Jose personal injury attorney Jeffrey Janoff, who had been handling her case, his office said on Friday.

Ayala could not immediately be reached for comment.

Media reports last week said Ayala's home in Las Vegas was searched by the police as part of the investigation into the incident. San Jose police officials said a search warrant had indeed been issued but declined to give further details on either the location or outcome of the search.

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Zoo Wants Chimpanzee to Stop Smoking
Fri Apr 15, 8:39 AM ET

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African zoo is trying to persuade its star chimpanzee to kick a bad smoking habit.

Charlie, a grown male chimp and the Bloemfontein Zoo, has been picking up cigarettes thrown to him by visitors and smoking them -- a habit he probably picked up by observing humans, zoo officials told the SAPA news agency on Thursday. [...]

Charlie is not the only smoking chimpanzee. A zoo in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou reported last year that one of its chimps had taken up smoking and was desperately bumming cigarette butts off visitors.

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Scientific Conference Falls for Gibberish Prank
Fri Apr 15
By Greg Frost

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) - A bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference in a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jeremy Stribling said on Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers -- "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" -- was accepted for presentation.

The prank recalled a 1996 hoax in which New York University physicist Alan Sokal succeeded in getting an entire paper with a mix of truths, falsehoods, non sequiturs and otherwise meaningless mumbo-jumbo published in the journal Social Text.

Stribling said he and his colleagues only learned about the Social Text affair after submitting their paper.

"Rooter" features such mind-bending gems as: "the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning" and "We implemented our scatter/gather I/O server in Simula-67, augmented with opportunistically pipelined extensions."

Stribling said the trio targeted WMSCI because it is notorious within the field of computer science for sending copious e-mails that solicit admissions to the conference.

"We were tired of the spam," Stribling told Reuters in a telephone interview, adding that his team wanted to challenge the standards of the conference's peer review process.

Nagib Callaos, a conference organizer, said the paper was one of a small number accepted on a "non-reviewed" basis -- meaning that reviewers had not yet given their feedback by the acceptance deadline.

"We thought that it might be unfair to refuse a paper that was not refused by any of its three selected reviewers," Callaos wrote in an e-mail. "The author of a non-reviewed paper has complete responsibility of the content of their paper."

However, Callaos said conference organizers were reviewing their acceptance procedures in light of the hoax. Asked whether he would disinvite the MIT students, he replied: "Bogus papers should not be included in the conference program."

Stribling said conference organizers had not yet formally rescinded their invitation to present the paper.

The students were soliciting cash donations so they could attend the conference and give what Stribling billed as a "randomly generated talk." So far, they have raised more than $2,000 over the Internet.

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Former VA officer writes 'The Chillicothe UFO Chronicles'
1983 experience is basis for book
Gazette Staff Writer

Tim Hammond, a former officer for the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center, just wanted to do his job.

As the first black officer hired at the local VA in 1982, Hammond, who now resides in Dayton, is still trying to uncover what happened when lights appeared in the sky during his watch in 1983. He also has fought the stigma of being crazy like his former chief thought he was, Hammond said.

"I received written notices from the chief about it ... In the meantime, I had VA employees coming forth to give me more information," Hammond said.

The culmination of Hammond's research has evolved into a book named "The Chillicothe UFO Chronicles" which he expects to be available within the next few months through Xlibris, an online publisher.

Hammond's experience with the supernatural began late one night in 1983 when a ward nurse called security about lights in the sky. As he approached the building, he said he saw yellow lights coming nearer to the building.

"I knew to look up to the sky (because of the call). Otherwise, I probably would have driven right by it," Hammond said.

"It reminded me of a Xerox machine and it was almost like there were images being reflected back to that craft ... It was very scary. I got out of the cruiser and started to run."

After the incident, Hammond, now 48, worked at the VA until 1987 and continued researching similar occurrences. He said some departments at the hospital had been reporting sightings since 1959 and while he was working there, two more occurrences were reported to him in 1986.

His curiosity about the occurrence he witnessed has never left him and it took therapy, he said, to rid himself of nightmares about that 1983 night.

"I would wake up at 3 and 4 a.m. screaming ... I was worried my neighbors would hear me and think I was crazy, but other times I hoped they would (hear me) so they could help me," Hammond said.

Hammond's nightmares have dwindled down to just one in the past seven years, he said. However, during that time his research has continued and has now culminated in his book, the second time Hammond has had his work published.

"The Public UFO Illuminator Research Package" was published in 1991 and is part of the "William E. Jones UFO Collection" at The Ohio State University Library.

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Fear envelopes jail as 4 inmates die in succession
Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 10, 2005

Editor's Note: Published on page A20 of the April 10, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao, Philippines -- Fear continues to grip some 50 prisoners of the City Reformatory Center with the death of an inmate due to "cardiac arrest" on Wednesday, the fourth in less than a month.

Medical findings showed they died of heart failure but prison officials expressed doubts after tales of horror by inmates, who claimed to have witnessed and experienced the presence, in various occasions, of ghosts, a white lady, children playing, a giant creature and other eerie sights, cropped up, said city jail warden Insp. Panga Arab.

Arab said Rikki Mohammad Talilisan, 25, died while being rushed to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center.

Arab earlier sought the intervention of Islam and Catholic clerics following the death of the first three inmates prior to the observance of Holy Week.

Confirmed dead due to the so-called "cardiac pulmonary arrest" were Moki Sinsuat (March 14), Sherwin Tanghal (March 16), and Jaime Cardines (March 19), all in their early 20s.

"Before their death, they've been talking about seeing supernatural beings. Could it be that these inmates had been victims of witchcraft?" Arab asked.

Despite religious rituals aimed at driving out evil spirits, the reformatory center accounted for another puzzling death of a young inmate, jail guards commented.

Arab and the guards said they believed the presence of a huge balete tree at the jail compound could be the source of the horror stories.

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