Wednesday, April 27, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Moon Rise
©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Today's Bible Quote
God writing under the pseudonym Jehovah or Yahweh
Deuteronomy 25:11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.
Comment: Ah, the culture of life.

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Who Is 'Queering' America And Why?
By Linda Kimball
MichNews.com
Apr 22, 2005

"The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart..." ~Eccl. 9:3

In the "American Dictionary Of The English Language, 1878," Noah Webster defined buggery as "a crime against nature; the unnatural and detestable crime of carnal intercourse of man or woman with a beast or of human beings unnaturally with each other; sodomy." And up until approximately 40 years ago all Americans believed that sodomy was unnatural and destestable and our society was such that it required people who engaged in it to keep that behavior out of 'sight,' and most importantly, away from our children. So how is it that in a relatively short time span Americans have not only come to accept sodomy as something 'natural, normal, and healthy' but are allowing their children to be instructed on how to become, in effect, 'buggerers'? The subversion and perversion of American social mores didn't occur either naturally or honestly. It was slyly contrived at by morally insane intellectuals and their acolytes.

Moral insanity is not to be confused with intellectual insanity, which is caused by chemical imbalances and such. Morally insane people retain their intellectual powers but set their will toward evil. They refuse to yield to the demands of their consciences and they discard their obligations of moral responsibiity towards everyone but themselves and the selfish ends they are in pursuit of. They follow dreams of their own fancy. They act as if truth were lies and lies were truth. Reality is redefined and redescribed to suit their pleasures and ungodly desires.

Comment: Sounds like a mighty fine description of the inhabitants of the White House, including the buggery part. Jeff Gannon, anyone? Bohemian Grove?

America's morally insane prevaricaters are the souless progeny of Lenin, who said, "(we) repudiate all morality that proceeds from supernatural ideas (religion).....everything is moral that is necessary for the annihilation of the old, exploiting social order..." (end quote) In other words, Natural Law, moral standards, truth, wisdom handed down through the ages, commonsense.....all are swept aside or perverted in favor of the evil whims, fancies, and lies conceived of in the corrupted minds of Lenin's maddened sons and daughters in order that they can annihilate America's traditional social order.

We know these blackhearted schemers in general terms like Leftists or Liberals. But more specifically, they are, for instance, neo-Marxist professors, activist judges, Hollywood actors/actresses, and the Dem. Progressive Caucus of the US House of Representatives. Read what the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) say with regards to the Progressive Caucus: (quote) "The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the US and a principle affilliate of the Socialist Internationalist. DSA's members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly socialist presence in American communities and politics. DSA is working in conjunction with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a network of more than 50 progressive members in the US House of Rep." (end quote) Among the Dem. Progressive Caucus members are Bernie Sanders, Pelosi, DeFazio, Waxman, and Lewis. Go here to see a complete list: http://www.rfcnet.org/archives/socialists.htm

The strategic goals being implemented within America by America's communist subversives were articulated in 1963 by the Hon. A.S. Herlong, Jr. of the Fla House of Representatives and are in the Congressional Record, Vol 109, 88th Congress, 1st Session. http://www.restoringamerica.org/
documents/45_goals_of_communism.html Among other things, they conspired to get control of our schools; to debase our culture by degrading all artistic expression {ie.dung art, vomit art, crosses upside-down in urine, shapeless sculpture, etc);to take control of media (entertainment and news sources); eliminate obscenity laws on the contrivance that they infringe on free speech; capture one or both political parties; break down cultural standards of morality by promoting porn and obscenity; present homosexuality, degeneracy, and promiscuity as 'normal, natural, and healthy" (note that homosexuality is bracketed with degeneracy); infiltrate churches and replace revealed religion with 'social religion'; discredit the Bible; eliminate prayer and all religious expression in schools on the ground that it violates 'separation of church and state" (which does not exist in our Constitution); discredit traditional family; encourage promiscuity and easy divorce."

The preceeding list is a damning indictment against America's blackhearted sons of destruction. It clearly evidences their cruel hypocrisy, gross deceptions, lies, and their outright evil. It also demonstrates how very successful they've been in underrmining and perverting our culture. In fact, they've been so sccessful that our culture has been turned into a sewer. We are not only a promiscuous, porn-saturated, fornicating, diseased culture of divorce, but one that celebrates 'buggery' and teaches it to its children.

Comment: While American culture is pretty much a sewer, we think the reasons are a little more complex than "communist conspiracy". After all, the corporations that own the media are heavy backers of that most Christian of presidents, GW. So while the corporate owners are supporters of Bush, they are secretly lefties.

There are many nasty games being played in the United States these days. One of the nastiest is the hypocrisy of the media. The news is completely dominated by the right, by Christians, by Zionists. Everything that appears on the news is shaped and played to pander to the policies of the Bush administration. People from the former Soviet bloc say the media is far worse in the US today than it was in the Soviet countries as far as being shills for official power. At the same time as the news is dominated by the right, it is true that the "entertainment" on US TV is playing to the basest instincts of the organic portal. This allows the right to scream and rant about how "liberal" the media is while set the agenda on the news. It is a slick trick. There is no defence for the waste products that wash across the screens of America's TVs and movie theatres. But they are being funded and distributed by the same people that take out billboard extolling GW as "Our Commander-in-Chief".

So we are not looking at a left-wing conspiracy; we are looking at right-wing hypocrisy. Jeff Gannon, anyone?

Ours has become a 'culture of death" wherein we mindlessly celebrate killing our unborn as a 'liberating right' while simultaneously celebrating the destruction of the traditional family via divorce. But we also celebrate with 'pride' the extinguishing of life through the depositing of it in the human bodies' 'repository for waste matter".

Comment: And the US goes into foreign countries that are no threat to the security of the US and bomb and kill innocent civilians. The culture of life indeed. The culture of life in the US is a culture where not even the basic needs of its population are taken care of: no health insurance, no guaranteed employment, a measly two weeks of vacation time, if you are lucky, a growing split between the richest and the rest of the country. These are manifestations not of a culture of life, but of a culture of entropy.

Further evidence of their heinous 'culture of death' victories over America's traditional culture can be seen in the mind-boggling statistics regarding the plague of STDs sweeping our nation. The ASHA (http://www.ashastd.org/stdfaqs/statistics.html) reported these statistics for 1998: approx. 65,000,000 cases of STDS, with relatively few curable at a cost of 8 billion a year to treat; 15,000,000 new cases every year; two thirds of all STDs are in the 25 or younger category; 1 in 4 occur in teens" (end quote) The CDC reported that it costs approximately $100,000 to treat just one AIDs patient, with an additional $20,000 yearly for drugs. Disease is not the only consequence of the bizarre social engineering that America's communists are subjecting our culture to. A growing contagion of sex crimes is another. Go here: http://www.obscenitycrimes.org/news/
Porn-Crime-Link-RWP.cfm to read about the links between porn and sex crime.

Looking at these deadly statistics, can we believe anything other than that the Left are insane monsters? They've knowingly unleashed the destructive forces of sexual license upon America knowing in advance what the deadly outcome would be. These are the maddened offspring of past and present genocidal murderers, butchers who are responsible for exterminating 100,000,000 plus people and counting: Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler (was a socialist), Pol Pot, Kim Jung II, and Castro.

Comment: According to the Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century, during the past 100 years there have been approximately 2 billion deaths (including civilians) resulting from war, tyrannical governments, and man-made famine. When these figures are broken down into deaths caused by Communism vs Capitalism, they are almost equal, with the figure slightly higher for Capitalism. Oops! Looks like the genocidal murderers aren't only Commies!

Furthermore, since when was the "Left" holding the positions of power in the US? The Republicans and the Democrats are two right-wing parties by the standards of the rest of the world. They are both beholden to corporate interests, both in the pocket of Israel. When was the last US socialist president in power? Or at the Department of Defense or in the State Department or heading the World Bank?

Either Kimball and her ilk live in a dream world or they are quite comfortable making things up. Then, again, the ten commandments don't prohibit lying.

And to promote and enforce their agenda of moral degeneracy, death, and destruction, America's communists formed up an army of organizations to do their bidding. Among just a fraction of these are the ACLU, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation); Lambda Legal, AFT (Am. Federation of Teachers), NEA (Nat'l Educators Assoc.); NOW; NARAL; Gay Straight Alliance Network; and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Educators Network). All of these, plus many more are boldly listed on the Communist Party USA website: http://www.cpusa.org/ The Human Rights Campaign, yet another 'gay' activist group, is found on various progressive websites, and it actively works against the appointment of strict Constitutionalist judges.

Comment: Wow! Those commies certainly were clever. I wonder if Mrs. Kimball thinks that the idea that Bush and gang were behind 9/11 is a "conspiracy theory"?

Americans,these evil people are teaching your children to become fornicating sodomites (buggerers). They don't care that your children are becoming diseased in the process. Keep in mind what Lenin, one of their "fathers" said to them: ".....everything becomes moral in pursuit of the annihilation of their (our) culture." Everything becomes 'moral', even turning children into diseased degenerates.

Our Founders knew well the dangers posed to societies in which sexual license, including sodomy florished. So feared was the corrupting influence of sodomy, that many states imposed the death penalty upon any man or woman who engaged in it (go to link at bottom of page for info).

Comment: So is she calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty for this horrendous crime? She has already labeled the "Left" as "insane monsters". The next step is to start rounding them up and putting them in front of firing squads. Why bother even putting them into jail?

In 1814, legal author John David Michaelis wrote:

"If we reflect on the dreadful consequences of sodomy to a state, and...the extent to which this abominable vice may be secretly carried on and spread, we cannot, on the principles of sound policy, consider the punishment as too severe. For if it once begins to prevail, not only will boys be easily corrupted by adults, but also by other boys; nor will it ever cease; more especially as it must thus soon lose all its shamefulness and infamy and become fashionable and the national taste; and then . . . national weakness, for which all remedies are ineffectual, most inevitably follow; not perhaps in the very first generation, but certainly in the course of the third or fourth. . . . To these evils may be added yet another, viz. that the constitutions of those men who submit to this degradation are, if not always, yet very often, totally destroyed, though in a different way from what is the result of whoredom. Whoever, therefore, wishes to ruin a nation, has only to get this vice introduced; for it is extremely difficult to extirpate it where it has once taken root because it can be propagated with much more secrecy . . . and when we perceive that it has once got a footing in any country, however powerful and flourishing, we may venture...to predict that the foundation of its future decline is laid and that after some hundred years it will no longer be the same . . . powerful country it is at present."

This bears repeating: "Whoever, therefore, wishes to ruin a nation, has only to get this vice introduced...."

Comment: Jeff Gannon, anyone?

We now know who is responsible for purposely introducing sodomy, promiscuity, obscenity, porn, and moral degeneracy in general into our culture, and to what ends they've done so. And now we must, with grim determination purge our culture of it, eject socialists from public office, and do everything that lies within our power to replace moral degeneracy with moral virtues.......honor, honesty, dignity, fortitude, personal responsibility and accountability, diligence, valor, integrity, fidelity, and self-sacrifice. We must return to America's founding moral anchor... our Christian based worldview.

Comment: When were there ever "socialists" in office in the US? Are they talking about Bernie Sanders? And what exactly does she mean "everything in our power"? The moral virtue of smoting your enemy? Or the moral virtue contained in our Bible reading for the day at the top of the page?

History shows that the so-called "moral anchor" of Christianity, both as it manifested in the US as well as in the rest of the world, was not so secure as she would have us believe. Remember the Inquisition? Remember the slaughter of America's native population? This moral anchor is about as moral as Bush's culture of life is about life.

"The general principles on which the fathers achieved independance were...the general principles of Christianity." ---John Adams

"The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His Apostles.....This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitution of government." ---Noah Webster

If we do not, our fate and the fate of our great nation will be to continue free-falling into an abyss of dementia, debauchery, disease, and impotency.

Shall this become us? "Our parents, worse than our grandparents, gave birth to us who are worse than they, and we shall in our turn bear offspring still more evil.' ---Horace (BS 65-8)

William Penn said, "If we will not be governed by God, we must be governed by tyrants."

We have two choices: God our Creator, or godless man with his infernal social engineering.

Comment: The great social experiment in the US, that of pushing the chasm between what is said and what is actually done to the most outrageous extremes to gauge the reaction of the population dulled by TV and Fox News, their personal relationship with Jesus and their literal interpretations of the Bible, is most marvelous to see. If someone had written a book describing what has happened over the last four years and published it prior to 9/11, no one would have believed it. They'd have called it "science fiction". There are so many levels between what most Americans believe and the actual truth, that there is room for many of them to be exposed and still the US will be doomed.

The Democrats are still considered a real opposition. Bush is considered to have gotten faulty information on Iraq, although a recent poll suggests more and more people are willing to consider that he lied. But how far is there yet to go from acknowledging that Bush lied about Saddam's WMD and an understanding that he and his crew, with the aid of their friends the Israelis, staged the attacks of 9/11 in order to implement the policy of war against the Arabs?

The end game has been cleverly set up, so cleverly that it bespeaks of an intelligence for dirty tricks beyond that of even Karl Rove. That is the ultimate truth about our situation, the one that has been so carefully hidden from us over the millennia. Yes, our ancestors have left us clues, but as we tend to see them as howling savages, so far removed from ourselves who are the height of human evolution, the pinnacle of the food chain, the most civilised people who have ever graced the surface of our planet, we ignore those messages in bottles. To our own peril.

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New Revelations About White House's Gay Hustler
by Paul Johnson 365Gay.com Washington Bureau Chief
Posted: April 26, 2005 8:30 pm ET

(Washington) Despite assurances by the Bush Administration that the gay hustler who posed as a journalist was given only limited access to the White House new evidence shows that over a two year period he visited 196 times.

James D. Guckert, who wrote under the name Jeff Gannon, was Washington bureau chief for Talon News, a conservative online news outlet associated with another Web site, GOPUSA.

Questions began to circulate within the White House press corps almost as soon as "Gannon" arrived on the scene.

During news conferences he was regularly called on for questions by President Bush. But, invariably "Gannon's" questions would show an extreme right-wing and often anti-gay agenda. On one occasion he asked Bush how he could work with Senate Democratic leaders “who seem to have divorced themselves from reality.”

White House press secretary Scott McClellan also would regularly call on "Gannon" whenever he would be under more aggressive, hostile questions from the press.

During last year's election campaign "Gannon" wrote in Talon that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry “might someday be known as ‘the first gay president.'"

He then noted that Kerry has enjoyed "a 100% rating from the homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Campaign since 1995 in recognition of his support for the pro-gay agenda.”

While the White House press corps winced at "Gannon's" lack of objectivity and began to wonder if he were an Administration "plant", John Aravosis, who operates the AMERICAblog Web site, began to probe his background.

Aravosis and other liberal bloggers discovered that "Gannon" was really J.D. Guckert and that he owned a number of extreme conservative websites. They also found that Guckert owned gay sex sites - all with a military theme and all offering his sexual services.

Following his exposure Guckert quit Talon and GOPUSA and Talon subsequently closed.

McClellan, responding to media questions earlier this year said "Gannon" received only infrequent day passes, and denied that he had been a GOP "plant".

But, Democrats in Congress took up the issue. Democratic Reps. Louise Slaughter of New York and John Conyers of Michigan filed a freedom of information request and were given Secret Service records of Guckert's visits.

Today's revelation that "Gannon" had visited the White House nearly twice weekly raises even more questions.

Comment: Sure does. What is going on behind closed White House doors?

Here's a comment from AmericaBlog:

[...]So in the end, why does this matter? Why does it matter that Jeff Gannon may have been a gay hooker named James Guckert with a $20,000 defaulted court judgment against him? So he somehow got a job lobbing softball questions to the White House. Big deal. If he was already a prostitute, why not be one in the White House briefing room as well?

This is the Conservative Republican Bush White House we're talking about. It's looking increasingly like they made a decision to allow a hooker to ask the President of the United States questions. They made a decision to give a man with an alias and no journalistic experience access to the West Wing of the White House on a "daily basis." They reportedly made a decision to give him - one of only six - access to documents, or information in those documents, that exposed a clandestine CIA operative. Say what you will about Monika Lewinsky - a tasteless episode, "inappropriate," whatever. Monika wasn't a gay prostitute running around the West Wing. What kind of leadership would let prostitutes roam the halls of the West Wing? What kind of war-time leadership can't find the same information that took bloggers only days to find?

None of this is by accident.

Someone had to make a decision to let all this happen. Who? Someone committed a crime in exposing Valerie Plame and now it appears a gay hooker may be right in the middle of all of it? Who?

Ultimately, it is the hypocrisy that is such a challenge to grasp in this story. This is the same White House that ran for office on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. While they are surrounded by gay hookers? While they use a gay hooker to write articles for their gay hating political base? While they use a gay hooker to destroy a political enemy? Not to mention the hypocrisy of a "reporter" who chooses to publish article after article defending the ant-gay religious-right point of view on gay civil rights issue.

Who in the White House is at the center of all of this? Who allowed this to go on in the People's House? Who committed the crime of exposing Valerie Plame? Jeff Gannon has the answers to these questions, and boy we know he loves to talk.

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Bush White House Gay Sex Scandal Stars Jeff Gannon
by URI DOWBENKO

The Bush White House gay sex scandal heats up, as new revelations show that fake reporter and male prostitute Jeff Gannon "slept over" on numerous occasions at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Gannon had previously advertised his services on the internet as a male prostitute "top" at $1200 per weekend.

White House overnight trysts were not uncommon, according to Secret Service logs of Jeff Gannon's White House entries and exits, requested by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) using the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).

Since "Jeff Gannon" has given the term "media whore" a whole new definition, the question arises -- could "Jeff Gannon" be President George Bush's Lewinsky albeit in gay apparel?

White House logs furnished by the Secret Service show that fake reporter Jeff Gannon (a.k.a James Guckert) stayed overnight at the White House on many occasions - even when press conferences or briefings were not scheduled.

These records reveal that the White House is like a Gay Roach Motel -- they check in but they don't check out.

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White House Briefly on Security Alert
The Associated Press
04/27/2005 11:35

WASHINGTON - Fears that an unidentified aircraft had entered restricted space near the White House prompted security officials to move President Bush from the Oval Office to an underground shelter Wednesday.

The brief scare lasted only a few minutes before officials determined it was a false alarm, White House counselor Dan Bartlett said. Some White House staff members were moved out of the West Wing and tourists were rushed from the East Wing.

"There was an indication that an aircraft has entered the no-fly zone,'' White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "There's an investigation to determine what it really was.''

Security officers toting shotguns took up positions around the White House compound during the incident.

"There was a report of a possible violation of restricted air space and it was cleared,'' said Lorie Lewis, a spokesperson for the Secret Service.

McClellan said Bush was working in the Oval Office at the time. Bush was taken to the underground bunker. He was there "a very short amount of time,'' McClellan said.

Vice President Dick Cheney was not at the White House at the time but arrived minutes after the scare ended.

Comment: On 9/11, even after Bush had been informed that a second airliner had struck the WTC buildings, he was not whisked away to safety. Instead, he sat in a Florida classroom as if nothing was wrong. Today, an unidentified aircraft allegedly entered restricted airspace, and Bush was immediately spirited away into an underground bunker.

Curious, eh?

It seems that on 9/11, Bush knew he was not in any immediate danger, whereas today's event was something completely different...

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Revolt or Revolution?
The French are At It Again
By DIANA JOHNSTONE
Paris, France
April 26, 2005
There are echoes of 1789 in the spring air. "Is this a revolt?" the powerful ask in consternation. "No, sire," comes the historic reply, "it's a revolution".

At least, if a revolution is a reversal of policy brought on by popular revolt against a self-satisfied, arrogant elite that has lost touch with people's lives and concerns, another revolution could indeed be brewing in France. If so, it starts in the ballot box, in the national referendum to be held next May 29 to ratify the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.

The French government is one of only nine out of 25 European Union members that have dared submit the Constitution to a popular referendum. The political and media elite never doubted that voters would obediently vote "yes for Europe". They were victims of their own Europhoria, which has made them deaf to the rising revolt of the masses against a policy of "competition über alles" that subordinates all human concerns to "the free market".

The awakening to reality began on February 4, when 82% of delegates in France's largest trade union confederation, the CGT, voted to endorse the "no". This was a blow to the CGT's own leadership, which had come out for "yes". The rumblings began to be heard in the ranks of the Socialist Party, whose first secretary François Hollande had railroaded through an internal party referendum which narrowly endorsed the Constitution before anyone had had time to read it.

A note of panic crept into the "yes" campaign as polls began to show the intention to vote "no" rising steadily above the crucial 50% mark. Jack Lang trotted out his vast stable of celebrities to endorse the "yes" position by their charismatic presence. Jacques Delors warned of "cataclysm". Everything from the memory of Auschwitz to Paris's bid for the 2012 Olympics has been evoked as proof of the need to approve this Constitution. Everything but the text itself.

For decades, citizens have been told that each new step in European construction was necessary to ensure peace and consolidate the European model of social solidarity. Now the French are waking up to the fact that they have been sold a bill of goods.

The post-World War II ideal of uniting Europe to prevent another war long since been attained. It is now being exploited to win assent to a project that threatens to link Europe to the external wars waged by the United States. Far from preserving the "European model", the Constitution has been designed to transform Europe into the vanguard free trade area in the neo-liberal globalization process.

Already, the 1992 Maastricht Treaty dictated strict monetarist discipline to the member States, ruling out not only socialism but even Keynesian economic policies. At the time of the September 1992 French referendum on that Treaty, few actually read it -- and those who did can understand why. It was not written to be read by the general public. It is highly unlikely that the French would ever have knowingly chosen the policies dictated by that Treaty. But a slim majority of voters, notably on the left, were won over by promises that after Maastricht established monetary union, the next thing on the agenda would be the long-awaited "social Europe". The opposite has happened. The obligation to follow EU rules has led to business failures, transfer of industries abroad, cutbacks in social services, reduced purchasing power and mass unemployment.

What's wrong with it

It is easy to find people who voted for Maastricht who vow not to make the same mistake twice. This time around they are reading the text, and drawing their own conclusions.

To mention just a few things they find wrong with this Constitution:

* No one is sure quite what it is. Jurists point out that it is just another international Treaty, not a real Constitution. But since it has been presented to the public as a Constitution, people naturally judge it as such.

* It is extremely long, 482 pages in the English version, in four main sections totaling 448 articles, plus an endless series of annexes and protocols. Except perhaps for jurists with time on their hands, reading it is rough going.
* Unlike any normal Constitution, it goes beyond defining institutional structure to spell out in considerable detail the policies the European Union must follow. The principal objective of the Union, which conditions all others, is "a highly competitive market economy" where "competition is free and undistorted". Experience shows that in practice, this means "undistorted" by State intervention on behalf of social equality.

* Only military spending is exempted from the imposed austerity. Article I-41, on the "common security and defence policy", calls for improvement of military capabilities, and specifies that "commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization". The European Union is tied to NATO, the United States' prime institutional instrument for controlling European foreign policy.

* Moreover, it is tied to current U.S. foreign policy doctrine, notably by the stress on combatting "terrorist attacks" (Article I-43) and on military contributions to the "fight against terrorism" (Article III-309). The missions foreseen mesh perfectly with U.S.-led foreign wars. The drafters of this text seem to envision the European Union as the "good cop" alongside the U.S. on the same worldwide beat.

* The Constitution is "concluded for an unlimited period" and can be amended (Article IV-443) only by an extremely tortuous process requiring unanimity of all Member States.

* The EU Charter of Rights -- supposed to be a main selling point -- falls short of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and most Western European national constitutions, including those of France, Italy and Germany. Example: where the French Constitution guarantees the right to work, in the sense of the right to gainful employment, the EU Constitution guarantees the right to look for work. The EU Constitution guarantees the "right to strike" not only to workers, but also to employers: thereby introducing "lockout" into French jurisprudence.

All this may look good to "new Europeans" in ex-Soviet bloc countries who are eager to swing from one extreme to the other. For the working class in Western Europe, it spells regression.

Public services

The primary focus of the revolt has been defense of public services. The vast majority of French people are attached to their public services as an essential factor in their high quality of life and social solidarity. France has perhaps the best medical system in the world, and with it the longest life expectancy. The Paris Metro is a model of urban transport. The railroad and postal systems are incomparably more efficient than the privatized systems in Britain and other countries. The country's resolutely secular school system and rich cultural life are indispensable elements of social cohesion.

To provide all citizens with equal access to such vital services as utilities, transport and postal communication, a broad base is needed to allow the proceeds from the most profitable operations to be used to cover the costs of less profitable operations, such as service to remote rural areas or disadvantaged populations.

This means government regulation. If such services are wide open to private capital, private firms will take over the profitable parts, leaving the non-profit operations to the State. They will be drastically reduced or shut down. By the laws of the financial market, private companies must use profits to pay their shareholders a better return than they can get on other investments. A narrow profit is not enough. In the private sector, serving the public is a slogan, not a necessity.

The Constitution's advocates lie outright when they claim that it protects public services. The starting point of the "non" campaign has been to expose this deception. The text never mentions "public services", and certainly no "right to public services". Article III-166 refers to "services of general economic interest":

"Undertakings entrusted with the operation of services of general economic interest or having the character of an income-producing monopoly shall be subject to the provisions of the Constitution, in particular to the rules on competition, insofar as the application of such provisions does not obstruct the performance, in law or in fact, of the particular tasks assigned to them. The development of trade must not be affected to such an extent as would be contrary to the Union's interest."

This passage introduces the "economic" fox into the chickencoop. As is frequently the case, the language is obscure, but can be read to give primacy to "the rules on competition" and the "development of trade". Article III-167 goes on to specify that "any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, insofar as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the internal market." The few exemptions mentioned do not include public services.

Enter Frankenstein

As luck would have it, just as the pre-referendum campaign was getting underway, public attention was drawn to a draft Directive on liberalization of services that perfectly illustrated the implications of the "internal market where competition is free and undistorted" (Article I-3). Known by the name of its author, EU Commissioner Frits Bolkestein, a former head of Shell Oil and a right-wing Dutch political leader, it soon won the nickname of the "Frankenstein directive". The main feature of this proposed legislation is the "principle of origin". Services sold abroad would submit to the rules of their country of origin. This means that companies in France or Germany, for instance, could hire services from Poland or Slovakia under the lower wage and looser professional standards of the "country of origin".

The "social Europe" promised by politicians for years would mean harmonizing social standards upwards, eventually aligning all Member States with those having the highest levels of worker protection, wages and benefits. The United Kingdom -- whether Labor or the Conservatives -- has persistently blocked all such attempts. Now, the Bolkestein directive makes it quite clear that the thrust is toward bringing standards down to the lowest levels.

This would wipe out the social gains of over a century in countries such as France, Germany and Belgium. It would also imperil France's public services, by forcing them to compete with cheaper offerings from poorer countries, outside French regulations.

Conservative and Socialist leaders alike in France fell over themselves condemning this directive. The catch is that when it was first introduced last year, those same leaders endorsed it heartily. This purely opportunist change of heart could not fool anyone.

To add to the embarrassment of the "yes" faction, there was Mr. Bolkestein himself, almost the perfect caricature of the arrogant reactionary. He, who was the first Dutch political leader to openly complain of Muslim immigration in his country and who fiercely opposes Turkey's entrance into the EU, blasted the French as "nationalist" for distorting his name as "Frankenstein". To illustrate the merits of his directive, Bolkestein told a French audience that he would be delighted to import a Polish electrician, since it was hard to find one where he has a vacation home in northern France.

The mayor of the nearest town wrote to Bolkestein sympathizing with his plight, and pointing out that the French had invented a remedy for his woes: the yellow pages of the telephone directory, where he could find at least 13 electricians. The local members of that trade thereupon demonstrated their presence by cutting Bolkestein's current. This is the sort of direct action the French tend to relish.

Bolkestein's appearance was so counterproductive as to help compensate for the media blackout of serious "no" arguments. Yet some polls indicate that most journalists disagree with their editors and publishers and plan to vote "no".

Enthusiastic "black sheep"

This is just another indication of the deep split between rulers and ruled. The groundswell for the "no" has come from the grassroots, with a proliferation of neighborhood meetings examining the text. In Paris, activist groups have sprung up distributing leaflets critical of the Constitution at Metro stations, and report that two out of three passersby stop to discuss the issue. Television gives considerable news time to trivial pro-Constitution appearances of leaders of the conservative UMP, the Socialist Party and the Greens (whose party very narrowly endorsed the "yes"), while remarkably well-attended and enthusiastic meetings for "no" go unreported. On April 14, while President Jacques Chirac was warning a selected group of young people on an evening-long television show that if France rejects the Constitution she will be the "black sheep" of Europe, an enthusiastic crowd packed the big Zenith theater in Paris for a "non de gauche" meeting organized by the French Communist Party (PCF). Speakers included dissident Socialists and Greens, Trotskyists, Left Republicans, and a range of grass roots activists. The hero of the anti-globalization movement, José Bové, reminded the audience that in 1789, French peasants stormed the chateaux without waiting to see what the rest of Europe thought or did. When France has a great progressive idea it can take it to the world.

What idea? In the simplest terms, it was expressed by an academic, Marie-José Mondzain, when she said that a growing majority of citizens reject a world where everything and everybody can be bought and sold. They are those who have neither much to sell nor the fantasy of being able to buy everything, and those who prefer to spend their lives giving and sharing. She had clearly struck the right note with the audience, which rose to its feet in a long standing ovation.

Six days later, Socialists crowded into a Paris gymnasium in defiance of their Party leaders with the slogan, "This time it's NO". Both meetings displayed the same resolute rejection of neoliberalism, the same electric enthusiasm, sustained applause and standing ovations for speakers. But this gathering was perhaps even more promising. In case the "no" wins, there is a chance that the revolt might overtake the Socialist Party itself, which has a real possibility of influencing the future course of France and Europe. And the dissident Socialists promise to unite their campaign with others, the PCF, Greens, and above all ATTAC ("Association pour la Taxation des Transactions Financières pour l'Aide aux Citoyens"), whose advocacy of an international Tobin tax has blossomed into a full-scale critique of neo-liberal globalisation, and which has been the main "think tank" for the present revolt.

What next?

What will happen if the "no" wins?

ATTAC president Jacques Nikonoff observed that contrary to the official alarmism, the European Union will go on functioning according to most recent of its treaties, the Treaty of Nice, until 2009. The juridical situation will be unchanged. Politically, the French "non" will create a salutary shock wave through Europe. It will stimulate a real debate on basic economic issues that have been muffled for twenty years by "TINA" -- there is no alternative. The worst measures will be stalled, or at least not written into an iron Constitution. The prospect will open to enact radical transformation in the foundations of the EU -- upwards social harmonization, the universal right to social services, a progressive industrial policy, opposition to all forms of neocolonialism, cancellation of Third World debt, dissolution of NATO, etc.

The most active of the dissident Socialists, Henri Emmanuelli, made the point that European leaders had created an impossible mess by rushing unprepared into "irresponsible" enlargements. When the Union was enlarged to take in Greece, Spain and Portugal, considerable funds were allocated to help bring them up to European standards. No such measures were taken for the new Eastern European members. This inevitably has led to competition for jobs and industry instead of solidarity between Member States. Emmanuelli noted that the United States pumps up its economy by massive deficit spending -- pouring the money into the military. In contrast, the EU could have invested constructively in raising standards in its new Member States -- but this is prohibited by the rigid budget balancing rules laid down in Maastricht. The ban on deficit spending has led to stagnation and tension between Member States.

In an effort to quell the rebellion in the ranks, François Hollande hauled out the scarecrow Jean-Marie Le Pen. In fact, Le Pen has been relatively inconspicuous recently. This, suggested Hollande, was because dissident Socialists "were doing Le Pen's work for him" by opposing the Constitution. Hollande even went so far as to ask French television to invite Le Pen and other far right-wingers to defend the "no". The "no" must be stigmatized as a far right, nationalist rejection of "Europe".

The blackmail, "you agree with the National Front", does not seem to be working. If anything, it is deepening the bitter division among Socialists. As for the argument, "a yes vote is a yes for Europe, a no vote is against Europe", this is also worn out. As a young trade unionist put it, "our generation has grown up with Europe. There is no question of saying yes or no to Europe. The question is: what sort of Europe?"

Moreover, it should be reasonably obvious that the present course of tearing down social benefits in the name of "Europe" is leading to a backlash. Emmanuelli warned that those who thought we could just go on indefinitely allowing unemployment to rise in countries like France and Germany had forgotten the past. Unregulated competition leads inevitably to a revival of nationalism. The best way to block the rise of the extreme right in Europe is to vote "non".

A more positive constant theme, very particular to this country, is the reference to France's revolutionary tradition. Most French people really don't want a society based on "a highly competitive free market"; they'd rather go back to "liberté, égalité, fraternité". At the large meetings one can feel the same wave of excitement and confidence: we've done it in the past, and we can do it again! France will show the way to a progressive, social Europe that can really be a model for the world!

Against this, the "yes" camp argues with authority (Elizabeth Badinter: "the leaders who wrote this Constitution know better than the common run of mortals"), celebrity (Jack Lang's reality show of big names), outright deception (pretending that this Consitution protects public services) and fear: "you can't vote like Le Pen! what will the neighbors think?"

For twenty years, Le Pen has been used as a bogeyman by the official left to cover its own steady retreat to the right. Now it seems that a reinvigorated left may be prepared to stand on its own principles, without the bogeyman. Le Pen can retire.

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Chirac, Schroeder meet on EU constitution, cooperation
www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-27 04:01:46
PARIS, April 26 (Xinhuanet) -- French President Jacques Chirac and visiting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder presided over on Tuesday the 5th French-German cabinet meeting devoted to European constitution and bilateral industrial cooperation.

In a joint statement approved by the cabinet meeting and released by the French presidential Elysee palace, France and Germany reaffirmed "their belief that when the constitutional treaty comes into effect, it will be an important step in terms of asserting Europe's weight in the international arena and reinforcing its ability to act for peace and security in the world."

"Our two countries are pleased that, for the first time in the history of the European Union, the community of fate between the member states will be embodied in a constitution," the statement said.

The constitution will help reinforce "the sphere of activity of European defense through the expansion of the scope of the Union'smissions," it said.

The statement came one month ahead of a crucial May 29 referendum in France on the EU constitution, while some 20 recent surveys all showed that the majority of French voters would reject the European constitutional treaty, which must be approved by all the 25 EU member states.

During the joint news conference after the cabinet meeting, Chirac called on French to vote "yes" at the May 29 referendum over the EU constitution, saying it "will allow France to be stronger in Europe and will strengthen Europe's position in the world."

He warned that if the French "no" camp wins the referendum, France would take "responsibility for interrupting 50 years of European construction ... France will find itself on the platform while the train passes us by if the 'no' camp triumphs."

Schroeder also pled for the yes to the referendum, saying that France, being the "berceau" of the European idea, "should remain loyal to its promises."

"In both the political and economic arenas, Europe's voice would lose strength, it would have trouble making itself heard, it would be weaker," Schroeder said.

"I remain confident, I think that in France and Germany, the 'yes' will win out ... as far as I'm concerned, it's not just a question of reasoning but a question of heart," he added. [...]

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email : The Green Zone Must Die
Rory Carroll
Monday April 25, 2005
The Guardian

The green zone must die. On that point everyone agrees: the Americans who created it, the foreigners who shelter in it, the parliamentarians who sit in it and, not least, the insurgents who bomb it.

This fortress by the Tigris, home to the US and British embassies and Iraqi government offices, is an unloved, unlovely complex created two years ago as the nerve centre of the occupation. Purely on aesthetic grounds you have to sympathise with those who rain rockets and mortars on to its sandbagged reinforced-concrete roofs.

US diplomats say they look forward to Baghdad becoming secure enough to no longer warrant a special zone. "This place most evidently sucks and one day we will get rid of it," said one. He sighed. "But for now we have to keep it. There is no alternative."

What bothered him was the symbolism of US forces still occupying Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace when Iraq was supposed to be a sovereign state. Coalition commanders now bristle at the term "occupation". The green zone, so named because of the trees and grass on this side of the river, is in reality a maze of 12ft concrete slabs, razor wire and bunkers.

The foreign contractors, troops and diplomats who call it home savour the relative safety and a couple of discreet pubs, but complain about cabin fever. Hungry for dispatches from the real world, they quiz visitors about "out there" and fantasise about entering it. The 10,000 Iraqis who also live in the zone need passes to enter and must negotiate several checkpoints, as if they are in quarantine.

In the red zone, known to inhabitants as the rest of Iraq, fortress-like creations have enfolded the hotels, offices and homes of westerners and government officials. They are as ugly as the green zone but do not arouse the same loathing.

Most foreign journalists live outside but we are compelled, grumpily, to visit to interview politicians and diplomats. Entering and leaving, we and our drivers and interpreters are potential targets for assassins and kidnappers.

On the way in there are five security checks, apparently more than for the White House. Some frisks are more thorough than others. "Mmmm, that's the only sexual thrill I've had in quite a while. Thank you, thank you kindly," one colleague told an Iraqi guard.

The convention centre which hosts the national assembly is worn and gloomy but the reason we hate it so is the lack of any cafe, vending machine or drinking water. People bring in Pringles and Coke, but as stashes dwindle they scoff behind pillars to avoid sharing.

Fed up with security hassles and occupation symbolism, the assembly voted earlier this month to move into a building occupied by the defence ministry in the red zone. There is talk of moving the Americans to the airport, itself a fortress, and reopening bridges and roads to ease the capital's traffic jams.

Last week an assembly member named Fattah al-Sheikh said he was roughed up and humiliated by US troops on his way in. One allegedly grabbed him by the throat, another handcuffed him, and a third kicked his car.

"I was dragged to the ground," he told parliament, weeping. "What happened to me represents an insult to the whole national assembly that was elected by the Iraqi people. This shows that the democracy we are enjoying is fake."

Denouncing Americans comes naturally to an ally of the militant cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, but Sheikh's story outraged the entire assembly and it adjourned in protest. Brigadier General Karl Horst of the 3rd infantry division expressed regret and promised "a thorough investigation".

Some checkpoint GIs are models of courtesy and cheer, who dip into Arabic phrase books. Others stare blankly and bark orders. Once I overheard a sergeant instructing a private about a queue of shuffling Iraqis. "If one of them goes nuts, shoot him." His comrade's eyes brightened. "Yesssss!"

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Italians Begin Probe into Agent's Death
Scotsman

Prosecutors in Rome will begin inspecting a car pierced by gunfire in Iraq when American soldiers mistakenly killed an Italian intelligence agent at a Baghdad checkpoint last month.

The Toyota Corolla was flown aboard an Italian air force cargo plane from Baghdad to the Practica di Mare air base near Rome where the prosecutors will inspect it, a base spokesman, Capt. Diego Simondini, said today.

The anger Italians felt over the March 4 shooting of Nicola Calipari – a hero for having just won the release of hostage Giuliana Sgrena – flared anew this week after reports that US investigators concluded American soldiers bear no blame for the “friendly fire” death.

On Tuesday, Premier Silvio Berlusconi told Parliament the US-led probe was not over.

As Italy and the US try to resolve differences over the conclusions, prosecutors are going ahead with their own probe.

Testimony from the two survivors of the shooting – an agent who was driving the Toyota and the ex-hostage – have clashed from the start with the US military’s account.

The Americans maintain soldiers at the temporary checkpoint near Baghdad fired warning shots in the air, then shot at the engine block because the car was going too fast.

The survivors insist they saw a beam of warning light virtually at the same time gunfire erupted, and the Italian military intelligence agent has testified he was driving slowly.

Analysis of the gunfire damage to the vehicle is expected to provide crucial information about how close the soldiers were to the car and from what angle they fired. Photos of the car shown on Italian TV show its side windows shattered and bullet holes on the side of the vehicle.

Berlusconi sought on Tuesday to quell an outcry over the reported US conclusions. Hours later, US Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged the Italians who participated in the joint probe have not signed off on the report.

The Americans are hoping for a joint report.

Calipari and the other agent had picked up the Toyota at Baghdad airport for their mission to obtain Sgrena’s release, and were heading to the airport to fly back to Rome with her.

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Iraq death car arrives in Italy
BBC
The car in which an Italian secret agent died shielding a hostage from US "friendly fire" in Iraq has arrived in Italy for investigators to inspect.

An Italian air force cargo plane delivered the Toyota Corolla to a base near Rome days after reports suggested America had cleared its soldiers.

Rome is still investigating the death of agent Nicola Calipari, who died as his car approached a US checkpoint.

Ex-hostage Giuliana Sgrena called the reported findings a "slap in the face".

Prosecutors are due to examine the car at the Practica di Mare air base, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Testimony from Ms Sgrena, a journalist for communist newspaper Il Manifesto, and a second intelligence agent who also survived, appears to conflict with what US soldiers said about the shooting.

Analysis of bullet damage to the vehicle is expected to provide key data on how close the soldiers were to the car and from what angle they fired.

The Italians had been heading for Baghdad airport after Ms Sgrena's liberation.

'Insult'

Pentagon officials are hoping for a joint report into Calipari's death but they had to acknowledge on Tuesday that Italian prosecutors had not completed their investigation.

DIFFERING ACCOUNTS
Italian agent Nicola Calipari, shot dead by US troops in Iraq
US military: Car approaches checkpoint at high speed
Troops attempt to tell driver to stop with arm signals, lights and warning shots
Soldiers shoot into engine
Italian government: Italy makes all necessary contacts with the US for safe passage
The driver stops immediately when a light flashes 10m away
At the same time, shots are fired into car for 10-15 seconds

Reports that US investigators had found their troops "not culpable" caused outrage in Italy.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi apologised to parliament for the "unfortunate leak" suggesting the investigation was over.

For Giuliana Sgrena, freed on 4 March with Calipari's help after being held for a month by Iraqi militants, the leaked US findings were "incredible".

"The greatest disappointment would be if our authorities were to accept this insult without reacting," she said.

"All the words said about Calipari would turn into hypocrisy... and Nicola would have been our government's hero just for one day."

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Italy will not sign off on report
Rejects US finding on Iraq killing
By Associated Press | April 27, 2005

WASHINGTON -- While US investigators have concluded that American soldiers who shot and killed an Italian intelligence officer at a Baghdad checkpoint followed instructions for dealing with potential threats, Italian government said the inquiry will continue.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged yesterday that Italian officials who participated in the investigation have still not signed off on the report's conclusions. They provided no details about the report at a Pentagon briefing.

But a senior US defense official said the investigation into the March 4 friendly fire shooting is expected to raise concerns about the rules of engagement in Baghdad. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been finished.

''My latest information is that they have not come to a final agreement on a joint report," Rumsfeld said of US and Italian investigators.

''It's an investigation, it was done together, intimately, and I think that we'll just have to wait and see what they come out with," he added. [...]

Comment: So if this investigation was done so "intimately" as Rumsfeld tries to portray, why is it that the car is only now arriving in Italy, more than six weeks after the shooting?

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THE ROVING EYE
They shoot journalists, don't they?
By Pepe Escobar

Many uncomfortable, unanswered questions remain over the killing on March 4 of Italian secret intelligence agent Nicola Calipari by American soldiers near Baghdad airport, immediately after Calipari had negotiated the release of Giuliana Sgrena, the unembedded correspondent from Il Manifesto, a communist Italian daily, who had been held hostage for one month and was wounded in the US firing.

On Monday, a report leaked to Reuters and Agence France-Presse correspondents at the Pentagon, in the afternoon (dead of night in Europe, to prevent major reaction), quoted unnamed army sources as saying that an investigation had cleared US soldiers of any wrongdoing.

According to the leak, American soldiers followed rules of engagement to the letter and therefore were not to blame. The Pentagon ruled that its soldiers used hand and arm signals, flashed white lights and fired warning shots to try to stop the Toyota Corolla carrying Sgrena and Calipari, which was "speeding" toward "a checkpoint". The soldiers then shot into the Toyota's engine block when the driver did not stop. Calipari was not part of the engine block, but he was shot anyway: a "horrible accident".

The driver of the car has insisted that the Toyota had been driving slowly (no more than 40km/h), and had received no warning from the American soldiers, and that the Italians had advised the Americans they were carrying diplomatic personnel.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that Italian officials who participated in the investigation had not signed off on the report's conclusions. They provided no details about the report. "My latest information is that they have not come to a final agreement on a joint report," Rumsfeld said of US and Italian investigators.

In an interview by the Tg3 newscast in Italy on Monday night, Sgrena said: "It seems to me that in this way the Italians are to be blamed for everything, and this is also a slap in the face of the Italian government."

What really happened
The Sgrena case - or hit, as many Italians put it - has convulsed a country overwhelmingly against the war on Iraq, not only because of the tragic death of Calipari but because it has revealed in graphic detail to Italians and Europeans the grim reality faced by ordinary Iraqis, Sunni or Shi'ite. Iraqi civilians are now kidnapped by the hundreds. Iraqi civilians are routinely shot at by young, nervous American soldiers at checkpoints - as any correspondent who has covered Iraq knows so well. Iraqi civilian deaths are not even acknowledged by the Pentagon (remember Myers: "We don't do body counts").

Independent journalist Naomi Klein had a long conversation with Sgrena - hit by a four-inch (10-centimeter) bullet that injured her shoulder and punctured her lung - when she was still convalescing at a Rome military hospital after returning to Italy on March 5. Klein then gave an extensive interview to Democracy Now! about the meeting. To start with, Sgrena affirms she was not traveling on the road the Pentagon says she was. And there was no US checkpoint ordering them to slow down.

Sgrena says she was on a secure road - used by diplomats and US officials - that comes straight from the Green Zone in central Baghdad. Saddam Hussein used this road to go from his top presidential palace straight to the then-named Saddam International Airport. This is a secured road connecting the Green Zone with the huge Camp Victory military base attached to Baghdad's airport. Sgrena told Klein, "I was only able to be on that road because I was with people from the Italian Embassy." This explains why Sgrena "thought we were finally safe, because the area where we were was under the control of the United States".

Anybody who has covered the Iraq war has known - or has seen - checkpoint hell, where nervous American soldiers fire on anything that moves. The Toyota Corolla with Calipari and Sgrena was hit by only between eight and 10 rounds. Both Calipari and Sgrena were sitting in the back seat. Calipari was hit by a direct shot in the temple.

There was no checkpoint, Sgrena told Klein. "It was simply a tank parked on the side of the road that opened fire on us. It was not a checkpoint. They didn't try to stop us, they just shot us. They have a way to signal us to stop, but they didn't give us any signals to stop and they were at least 10 meters off the street to the side."

The crucial part is that Sgrena says the Toyota was shot from behind - which contradicts the Pentagon version of soldiers shooting in self-defense. According to Klein, "Sgrena really stressed that the bullet that injured her so badly came from behind, entered through the back of the car. And the only person who was not severely injured in the car was the driver, and she said that this is because the shots weren't coming from the front ... They were driving away."

This might explain why the Pentagon apparently blocked the Italian government from inspecting the Toyota, even though the Italian government had bought the car from the rental agency after the shooting.

Sgrena is 100% sure: "It was not self-defense. The soldiers were to the right of us on the side of the road, they started to shoot from the right and kept shooting from behind. Most of the shots came from behind. Calipari was shot from the right and I was shot in the shoulder from behind. When we stopped, they were behind us. We could see that all the back windows of the car were broken from behind ... They didn't try to stop the car and they shot at least 10 bullets at the level of people sitting inside the car. If Calipari had not pushed me down they could have killed me."

Calipari was a top agent and leading Middle East negotiator working for Sismi (Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare), the Italian equivalent of the US Central Intelligence Agency. He had already refused the idea of a raid by the US Delta Force ("too dangerous") to rescue Sgrena. He went the negotiation route - and he secured Sgrena's release, in all probability, according to reports, via an US$8 million ransom paid in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (the Silvio Berlusconi government in Italy denies it). The Bush administration, as is well known, does not negotiate with "terrorists".

Calipari had also a few months ago negotiated the freedom of the so-called two Simonas, Simona Torretta and Simona Pari. When they came back to Italy, the two Simonas not only denounced the US occupation, but praised the Iraqi resistance. Not exactly a popular script in Washington.

You report, we decide
The Foxification of US - and global - media has a corollary: the Pentagon considers independent journalism an act of subversion. An investigation by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders has reached the same conclusions. Most covering the war on Iraq remember how the Pentagon intentionally targeted the media-saturated Palestine Hotel in Baghdad on April 8, 2003, killing a Ukrainian and a Spanish journalist. Four months later, the US Army absolved itself from any possible mistake. Eason Jordan, a top CNN executive for more than a decade, was forced to resign after saying that the Pentagon targeted journalists in Iraq. As far as the Sgrena tragedy is concerned, Reporters Without Borders has called for a UN-led independent investigation - to no avail.

Ann Cooper, executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said, "We are deeply troubled by the reported disagreement between US and Italian officials." The CPJ calls for "a thorough and credible investigation to determine what happened, who is responsible, and what steps are being taken to prevent similar incidents from occurring again in the future". The CPJ has conclusively determined that at least nine journalists and two media workers have been killed by the US military in Iraq since March 2003. At least four journalists were killed at checkpoints.

The Berlusconi government at first said the Pentagon had not been fully briefed on the Italian negotiations to liberate Sgrena. Then Gianfranco Fini, the Italian foreign minister, was forced to acknowledge "differences" between the US and Italian versions. Fini admitted that Calipari was issued US military passes and was in contact with the US military leadership. But he refused the possibility of an ambush as "nonsense". On the night of the shooting, according to Fini, the US military knew about the Toyota (the Pentagon says no) because it had been informed by the top local Italian liaison official, General Mario Marioli. But the military didn't know the car was carrying Sgrena, Fini said.

The joy of absolution
There may be endless speculation over the circumstances surrounding the death of Nicola Calipari. But there are two things the case has accomplished. 1) The Berlusconi government is now toeing the Bush line: there will be no negotiations to liberate any possible future Italian hostage. 2) For any independent journalists, Iraq is now the ultimate minefield. It's virtually impossible to guarantee the safety of any non-embedded journalist, so that means no independent reporting.

Once the report is officially released, absolving the US military of any wrongdoing, one can expect the matter to end there, certainly as far as the US and Italian mainstream media are concerned, and the Pentagon will proceed with its occupation of Iraq, far from prying eyes.

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Gallup: 50% of Americans Now Say Bush Deliberately Misled Them on WMDs
By E&P Staff
Published: April 26, 2005 11:45 AM ET

NEW YORK Half of all Americans, exactly 50%, now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Gallup Organization reported this morning.

"This is the highest percentage that Gallup has found on this measure since the question was first asked in late May 2003," the pollsters observed. "At that time, 31% said the administration deliberately misled Americans. This sentiment has gradually increased over time, to 39% in July 2003, 43% in January/February 2004, and 47% in October 2004."

Also, according to the latest poll, more than half of Americans, 54%, disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while 43% approve. In early February, Americans were more evenly divided on the way Bush was handling the situation in Iraq, with 50% approving and 48% disapproving.

Last week Gallup reported that 53% now believe that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was "not worth it." But Frank Newport, editor in chief at Gallup, recalled today that although a majority of the public began to think the Vietnam war was a mistake in the summer of 1968, the United States did not pull out of Vietnam for more than five years, after thousands of more American lives were lost.

Comment: Uh oh. Looks like it's time for Karl to call out the black ops boys once again.

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U.S. troops may have killed Canadian in Iraq: reports
Last Updated Wed, 27 Apr 2005 04:17:45 EDT
CBC News

OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs is investigating whether U.S. troops killed a Canadian on the weekend in Iraq.

A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman confirmed to the CBC on Tuesday that a Canadian, whom she did not identify, died on Saturday.

A source told Broadcast News that Ali Alwan may have died after U.S. forces "tracked" a target, using a helicopter gunship.

Comment: So US troops kill a Canadian, or shoot at Guiliana Sgrena and kill the Italian security agent, or kill a journalist, it makes the headlines. How many Iraqi civilians are dying every day, or died in Fallujah?

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The Case Against Alan Dershowitz: Dershowitz vs. Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
- by Regan Boychuk

Alan Dershowitz is a well-known lawyer and professor at Harvard law school, a prolific author, and makes regular appearances in the media. When it comes to Israel, he is particularly outspoken and taken quite seriously within certain segments of the North American mainstream. Whether he deserves to be taken seriously is another issue altogether. In a recent talk at York University in Toronto, Canada, Professor Dershowitz repeated many of the controversial claims of his recent book,[1] but one struck me as – even by his standard – exceptionally far-reaching. In the course of arguing that Israeli authorities no longer torture Palestinians, Dershowitz claimed he had a long conversation with the Israeli human rights organization, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), in which PCATI not only conceded that there was no longer any torture for them to investigate, but that they refused to change their name because it helped them attract media attention.[2]

Although organizers of his lecture wore shirts arrogantly proclaiming, “Dersh knows more than you”, I decided to check his claim. First, I visited PCATI's website (www.stoptorture.org.il) and immediately found its July 2003 report containing 48 affidavits testifying to the continued use of torture against Palestinians by Israeli authorities. More than three years after Professor Dershowitz claims torture had stopped, PCATI reported: “Each month, the ill-treatment reaching the level of torture as defined in international law is inflicted in dozens of cases, and possibly more. In other words – torture in Israel has once more become routine.”[3] And after Professor Dershowitz claims PCATI conceded torture had ended, PCATI was still reporting that “Instances of torture, abuse, prisoners held incommunicado and excessive violence against [Palestinian] detainees continue to grow in both numbers and severity”, while “interrogators and perpetrators of torture, their commanders and superiors enjoy impunity.”[4]

These reports didn’t exactly corroborate Professor Dershowitz’s story so, next, I contacted PCATI to confirm his allegation. “Dershowitz’s claim that he had long conversations with PCATI and that we reported that there is no longer any torture in Israel,” I was told by PCATI’s Orah Maggen, “is totally false. We never met with him or spoke with him directly. I did meet him at the Knesset [Israel’s parliament] when he spoke at the Law and Constitution Committee [but] I, and representatives of other human rights NGOs challenged most of what he said about torture, the role of human rights NGOs and other issues.”

When I reported PCATI's denial to Professor Dershowitz, he replied: “During my conversation at the Knesset I asked the representative of the committee [Orah Maggen] why they kept their name, despite their acknowledgement that torture was no longer a significant issue? She responded – I remember clear as day – as follows: 'You have no idea how difficult it is to get attention to any human rights issues in this country. Maintaining our organizational name, with the word torture, is essential to getting needed attention.' I had an extensive argument with her about that tactic, focusing especially on the international implications and the misleading nature of the name outside of the country. I am certain she remembers the conversation because it was quite heated. It also took place in front of numerous witnesses.”

When I emailed PCATI Dershowitz's “clear as day” recollection, Ms. Maggen replied that it is true that there was a heated exchange with others present, but “All other statements made by Professor Dershowitz are blatantly false and utterly preposterous… Neither I nor any other representative of PCATI acknowledged, claimed or in any way stated that torture is no longer a significant issue. On the contrary, it is our claim that the systematic and large-scale torture and ill treatment of Palestinian detainees and prisoners continues to this day.” She further stated that, “Neither I nor any other representative of PCATI ever stated that we kept our name to ‘get attention’ for any reason whatsoever. Considering the fact that torture is still widespread and that PCATI has its hands full struggling against the torture and ill treatment of Palestinian detainees (and others) by Israeli authorities, the claim regarding statements we supposedly made about our organization's name is totally absurd.” Finally, she concluded that Dershowitz's claim was “shocking in its audacity.”

In fact, however, it is on par with Dershowitz's claim in The Case for Israel, that the Israeli government has a “generally superb record on human rights,” and that “Israel’s record on human rights is among the best in the world”.[5]

What's “clear as day” from this little episode is that Dershowitz's every word should be taken with a mountain of salt.
*Regan Boychuk is a graduate student in political science at York University in Toronto, Canada and gets irritated when people get away with lies. reganboychuk@hotmail.com

Notes:

[1] Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003).

[2] Alan Dershowitz, public lecture at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 14 March 2005.

[3] Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, “Back to a routine of torture: Torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees during arrest, detention, and interrogation”, July 2003, p. 11, .

[4] Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, “Preventing torture: Legal advocacy, legislative activism & public outreach: A narrative report”, [Draft] 2004, p. 1.

[5] Dershowitz, The Case for Israel, pp. 204, 199. Despite Dershowitz’s fervent attempts to prevent its publication, readers can soon find what promises to be a thorough debunking of The Case for Israel in Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history (Berkeley, CA: University of California, June 2005).

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Anti-pullout Israelis to stage mass rally in Gaza
www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-27 16:50:01

JERUSALEM, April 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Tens of thousands of anti-pullout Israelis planned to stage a mass rally in a Gaza settlement bloc Wednesday, local newspaper Ha'aretz reported.

Some 600 buses hired by the Gush Katif settlement Council are expected to bring in about 30,000 people, while those arriving in their own vehicles are going to be directed by police to the area.

Police sources estimated the number of protesters will reach 50,000 to 80,000.

The protesters hoped that mass demonstrations in Gush Katif will persuade the government to scrap the disengagement plan to withdraw all 21 Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip and four of 120 from the West Bank.

"If 100,000 people come, the prime minister (Ariel Sharon) and his plan will have a problem," said Itzik Iliya, a settlers leader in Gaza, told the paper.

Yesha (a settlers group) leader Pinchas Wallerstein said "every politician will have to take into account the meaning of the numbers who arrive in Gush Katif."

Thousands of visitors have poured in Gush Katif since the start of the Passover holiday last Saturday, in a bid to beef up protester presence.

The army and police have not yet decided when they will declare the entire area off limits to non-resident.

Under the evacuation-compensation law, any Israeli citizen who remains inside the Gaza Strip after the planned pullout will be subject to arrest.

The plan was delayed by three weeks to Aug. 15 to avoid clashing with a traditional Jewish mourning period which ends on Aug. 14.

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Palestinian, Israeli killed in West Bank
Tuesday 26 April 2005, 12:03 Makka Time, 9:03 GMT

The family of a Palestinian taxi driver has accused Israeli forces of murdering him in cold blood in the West Bank after he ran over and killed an Israeli at an army checkpoint.

Israeli troops, erecting a makeshift roadblock at the northern entrance to Hebron, shot and killed Iyad Eid Dwaik, 30, after he hit an Israeli soldier in what witnesses and relatives said was a traffic accident.

Palestinian witnesses said a taxi driver ran over the Israeli after dark at a dimly lit checkpoint near the West Bank city of Hebron, killing him.

They said Israeli soldiers later shot the driver dead. Dwaik was riddled with bullets before he was transferred to a nearby Palestinian hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Surprise roadblock

"The soldiers set up a surprise roadblock and some soldiers were standing right in the middle of the road. He simply couldn't stop his car at a few second's notice," said relative Basim Dwaik.

"They murdered him before even asking any questions," he told Aljazeera.net.

The Israeli occupation army said an Israeli reservist soldier was killed in the incident.

An army spokesman said soldiers were not sure if the incident was a traffic accident or a "terrorist act". The army was investigating the incident, he added.

Israel Radio said no weapon was found in the Palestinian car, and the driver had no known links to resistance groups.   [...]

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Hundreds of Palestinians held hostage by Shin Bet
4/25/2005 4:15:00 PM GMT

Hundreds of Palestinian administrative detainees, held hostage at Kitziot, a notorious Israeli desert detention camp, called on the international community on Monday to intervene to secure their release.

During a separate telephone interviews with the detainees, imprisoned indefinitely without even knowing their charges or facing trial, said that Israel was using them as "political hostages."

"None of us has been brought before a court a law, our life and fate depend on the whims of the Israeli Shin Bet," said Abu Yasser Ahmed, an administrative detainee from the al-Khalil region, referring to Israel's main domestic intelligence agency.

Samir, another detainee from al-Khalil, accused the Israeli authorities of "tormenting the internees and their families."

"When the three month or six month-period expired and we thought that we would be freed, the Israeli authorities would just renew the internment for another three or six months."

Currently, 1200 Palestinians are held at Israelís Kitziot detention camp, as political hostages, with the aim of exerting pressure on the PA and the Palestinian society at large, according to Palestinian sources.

During the past few month, hundreds of Palestinian political leaders and potential candidates were detained by the Israeli army.

Most them are affiliated with anti-occupation group, Hamas.

Meanwhile, Rateb Muhaissen, a lawyer for Mandela society concerned with the Palestinian captives' affairs, reported on Monday that Palestinian women and minors held in the Israeli Talmund prison were enduring tragic conditions due to the prison authorityís repressive measures.

The cells in which the Palestinian detainees are held are extremely narrow and unventilated, Mr. Muhaissen said, adding that the cells are seething with harmful insects and rodents which would bring dermatological diseases to those prisoners.

The detainees are also served rotten meals, which worsened their health conditions, the attorney said.

Mr. Muhaissen, moreover, stated that the Israeli guards were practicing physical and psychological torture against those inmates.

The attorney also said that the prison authority denied the sick ones the necessary medication needed in their case.

Mr. Muhaissen finally quoted the detainees as pleading with the human rights societies to intervene and try to end their ordeal.

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Syria completes troops withdrawal from Lebanon
www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-27 07:49:43
BEIRUT, April 26 (Xinhuanet) -- An official ceremony was held near the Syrian border on Tuesday to mark the completion of withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

Top military officials from the two countries participated in the farewell ceremony at a Lebanese army air base at Rayak in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

The gathering was meant to announce the end of Syria's 29-year military presence in its smaller neighbor. [...]

Comment: Next move is Bush's...was this what he was discussing with Sharon in Crawford two weeks ago?

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Fireball lights up the sky
By DEAN PRITCHARD, STAFF REPORTER
Wed, April 27, 2005

A huge meteor exploded over the Manitoba sky early Saturday evening, rattling windows and leaving a fire trail visible from Minnedosa to Arborg. "People that actually saw the fireball described it as a flaming baseball that had an orange trail of flames and smoke behind it that went shooting across the sky and exploded," said Scott Young, astronomer for The Manitoba Museum Planetarium.

Young said the planetarium started receiving a flood of phone calls after the meteor blazed through the atmosphere about 7 p.m.

EXPLODED

Young estimated the meteor was the size of "a large suitcase" before it exploded upon entering the Earth's atmosphere.

"It was big enough that it gave off so much energy it could be seen in broad daylight, which is the rare part of it. The explosion tells us that it was a fairly big object that basically exploded in the upper atmosphere so that any pieces from it could be scattered over a wide area."

Young wants to hear from anyone who saw the meteor fall to Earth. The more reports the planetarium receives, the better the odds of narrowing down where exactly the meteor fragments landed.

"We have to find a way to narrow down the search area because right now we have a 100 kilometres by 50 kilometres to scan and if you are looking for a rock the size of your fist in the middle of April, good luck," he said.

Only seven meteorites have ever been recovered in Manitoba.

Anyone who saw the meteor can call the [planetarium at 956-2830 or e-mail a report to skyinfo@manitobamuseum.ca.

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Meteor sighting thrills astronomers
Last Updated Apr 26 2005 05:22 PM CDT
CBC News

WINNIPEG Ė Local stargazing experts have been fielding dozens of calls from people who spotted a massive meteor in the daytime sky over western Manitoba on Saturday.

Scott Young of the Manitoba Museum's planetarium says calls are coming in "fast and furious" from people who saw or heard the meteor, which passed over Riding Mountain before exploding high over the St. Ambroise area, north of Portage la Prairie.

"About half the people only heard it because of the sonic boom Ė the explosion Ė and people were thinking maybe it's a plane crash or something like that. They ran outside and would see this cloud of smoke that was expanding in the upper atmosphere that was visible for tens of minutes," says Young.

"The people who saw it described it as a flaming baseball or a Roman candle with all sorts of flames and trailing smoke arching across the sky and then detonating in a final explosion. Sounds like a spectacular sight."

Young says this type of thing doesn't happen very often.

"We've been trying to find other references to meteors that were bright enough to be seen in the daytime, and there's a handful throughout all recorded history in the Prairies at all. There was one in Manitoba maybe 20 years ago," he says.

"It's a very rare kind of thing. Most of the meteors that we see at night are just little grains of sand, and a really bright one might be the size of a marble. But this was probably the size of a suitcase."

Young hopes more people will contact him to say where they were and what direction they were looking when they saw the space rock hurtling through the sky, so he can pinpoint the exact details of the meteor's path.

"What we need to do is get a bunch of reports, put them all together and that will help us narrow down the search area for looking for pieces," he says. "Almost certainly this event would have produced at least one sizeable chunk of meteorite which would have made it to the ground, and we'd like to find it."

Comment: A huge meteorite sighting over Manitoba on Saturday, and another over Long Island two days later. What was once a rare, once-in-a-lifetime event, is now becoming so commonplace it almost seems as if the sky is falling all around us. Like a strong summer shower that begins with the occasional raindrop felt here and there, these rocks now falling from the sky could well be signalling the beginning of a deluge of space debris headed our way.

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Marco residents get big 'boom,' rude awakening
By BILLY BRUCE,
April 26, 2005

(Florida) - It wasn't a tsunami rolling ashore, or an earthquake, or a terrorist attack or a bank robbery.

But it might have been a sonic boom that gave some Marco Island residents a rude awakening Monday, giving a shaky start to an otherwise weather-perfect day.

Larry Laporte of Detroit was asleep at his brother's home on Magnolia Court off Bald Eagle Drive when he heard a loud explosion, similar to what Floridians hear when a space shuttle approaches the state for a landing.

Only problem is, there was no shuttle scheduled for a Monday landing.

The big boom rattled windows and shook foundations at homes and businesses, witnesses reported.

"You could see things move . . . garage doors," Laporte said. "We were quite surprised. We didn't know whether we should go ahead and get in the boat to wait for the tsunami."

Laporte called the Marco Island Police Department, where employees also experienced the noisy interruption.

Michele Nichols and Rhonda Cox, who carry out police duties in the department's reception area at San Marco Road and Heathwood Drive, fielded as many as 12 calls from alarmed residents, Police Chief Roger Reinke said.

Reinke at first suspected that an automobile accident had occurred just outside his shop on busy San Marco.

"The noise did prompt me to check the intersections near the station to determine if there had been a crash," Reinke said. "One of the popular theories is that it was a sonic boom caused by a military aircraft training over the Gulf of Mexico. We have not been able to verify that."

It might have been an Air Force jet training on a practice route from Homestead Air Force Base, the chief acknowledged, but didn't pass up a chance for jest.

"It's the big bang theory," Reinke joked. "The universe is expanding. Or maybe the cauldron under Yellowstone Park finally exploded."

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Actress criticized for questioning Sept. 11 attacks
Last Updated Tue, 26 Apr 2005 19:25:47 EDT
CBC Arts

NEW YORK - The website of actress Maggie Gyllenhaal has been flooded with negative posts after she suggested the U.S. is partly to blame for the Sept. 11 attacks.

Gyllenhaal, 27, said in an interview last week that America "is responsible in some way" for the suicide skyjackings.

Her comments came prior to the debut of The Great New Wonderful, a film about New Yorkers coping with the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001.

Her official site was choked with critical posts, prompting the editor to turn off the electronic forum.

"I have taken away the comments system, because it's gotten too outta hand," the editor wrote.

In a statement, the star of such films as Secretary and Donnie Darko said Sept. 11 was "an occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America's role in the world. Because it is always useful as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict."

"Not to have the courage to ask these questions of ourselves is to betray the victims of 9/11," she added, saying she grieves for "everyone who suffered and everyone who died in the catastrophe."

In another message, the site's editor stressed that the young performer did not say the U.S. deserved the attacks.

Gyllenhaal plays Emma in The Great New Wonderful, one of a number of movies soon to land in theatres or currently in production that touch on Sept. 11. [...]

Comment: Regular readers of the Signs page and other alternative news sites are well aware of the high probability of U.S. government complicity in the Sept 11th attacks. Yet consider the massive negative reaction this actress received from her fans when she merely mentioned that U.S. foriegn policy might in some indirect way be responsible for bringing these attacks upon American soil.

This shows how divorced from the truth most average Americans are as to the actual culprits behind the September 11th. The media is dominated by government propaganda, news from other countries doesn't make it onto the nightly news unless it has to do with US presence in other countries, they are brought up to consider the US as the end all and be all, and whenever alternate voices appear that attempt to deliver real news, COINTELPRO goes into overtime to discredit or divert the source. Only 18% of the US population supported Bush in the Terry Schiavo case. Over 50% think he's lying about Saddam's WMD. Obviously many Americans do not support the Bush agenda. But they are, as John Kaminski put it in the article we posted yesterday, like deer frozen in the headlights.

Because of that, they are for the most part incapable of confronting 9/11 head-on.

Elements within the U.S. and Israeli governments staged the biggest fraud against the American people and got away with it. 3,000 of thier own citizens were murdered for political gain, and most citizens will go to their grave, never for a moment doubting the official version to be true. It is left to a small minority of people who refuse to take government propaganda at face value, are courageous enough to do research, ask important questions, and to continue to publish the truth of this fraud for as long as they are able. May these numbers grow in the days ahead.

This was her first statement according to the fan site:

"I think what's good about the movie is that it deals with 9/11 in such a subtle, open, open way that I think it allows it to be more complicated than just 'Oh, look at these poor New Yorkers and how hard it was for them,' because I think America has done reprehensible things and is responsible in some way and so I think the delicacy with which it's dealt with allows that to sort of creep in."

This was her official statement on her previous statement:

" 9/11 was a terrible tragedy and of course it goes without saying that I grieve along with every American for everyone who suffered and everyone who died in the catastrophe. But for those of us who were spared, it was also an occasion to be brave enough to ask some serious questions about America's role in the world. Because it is always useful, as individuals or nations to ask how we may have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to this conflict. Not to have the courage to ask these questions of ourselves is to betray the victims of 9/11."

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A word for fear
Thursday April 21, 2005
Gali Weinreb and Hanan Lifshitz

It isnít science fiction, claims SDS; it's possible to spot terrorists by reading their thoughts.

Shabtai Shoval got his idea while watching Vanilla Sky, a movie set in a futuristic world, where it is possible to identify criminals before they commit crimes, on the basis of their intentions. Shoval left the cinema with one question on his mind, Was it possible to create such a system in today's reality and using today's tools? After consulting friends in the Israeli Security Agency (ISA, formerly known as the General Security Services or GSS), Israel Police, and the high-tech industry, and with polygraph, investigations, terrorism, and software experts, he concluded that it was possible.

This was the foundation of SDS, which has already begun cooperating with the US Transportation Security Authority (TSA) to build a system for spotting suspects at US airports, even when there is no solid evidence that they're about to commit a crime - no explosives, knife, or even forged documents. [...]

"SDS utilizes the principles of the polygraph, but our system is not, and isnít meant to be, a polygraph, for several reasons," says Shoval. "The first reason is that the polygraph is designed to spot a lie. But a terrorist is trained to persuade himself that he is not lying, and his concept of a lie isnít always the same as that of the person conducting the test. It's a cultural thing. Our system therefore doesnít try to catch a lie, but the fear of being caught."

Does a terrorist about to commit suicide show emotional patterns indicating fear, even fear of being caught? Shoval claims that the defense forces' experience of terrorists shows that the fear is there.

Testing the limits of the reasonable

[...] Against what does SDS calibrate the fear of being caught?

One of the company's critical assets is a collection of words in dozens of languages that trigger a different response in a suspect linked somehow to the world of terrorism, compared with the response of a person with no link.

Shoval gives the example of the Hebrew word "tadrikh" (briefing). "A person about to carry out a terrorist attack usually undergoes a briefing. A person who hasnít had a briefing that has to be concealed will react apathetically to this word. Another example is Semtex, an explosive that only a few people are exposed to.

"Our advantage, assuming that the system is installed in a major US airport, is that we're exposed to thousands of people from every culture, who speak every language. We can build a profile of a response by a 'reasonable Pakistani', or a 'reasonable Iranian' to a string of our words. The system constantly examines and learns this reasonable response.

"We look for two gaps. One is the difference between the interviewee's responses to our special words and the reasonable response to these words. The other is the difference between the interviewee's response to suspicious words and the response to ordinary words. We're not catching drug traffickers, smugglers or pedophiles, only people planning to carry out terrorist attacks."

SDS's system is built differently from a polygraph. Instead of attaching electrodes, a lengthy procedure that puts an interviewee under pressure, skin conductivity is tested through the palm of the hand. The interviewee places his or her hand on the machine, and with the other hand selects the language for the questions. The interviewee is shown a range of words, including the suspect words, and his or her response to them is measured. The test takes three minutes. "The US Department of Homeland Security's policy is to test only 20% of aliens, depending on their country of origin. On the basis of this condition, 20 terminals are enough for a large airport," says Shoval.

Tests at US airports

The Department of Homeland Security is the body that buys airport surveillance systems. SDS recently marked a major achievement, winning a Department of Homeland Security tender for testing a system for identifying suspects at an airport. The tender means money from the Department of Homeland Security, and opportunities to conduct trials at US airports.

Under Department of Homeland Security procedures, the system may point to 4% of people passing through an airport as suspects. Suspects are handed over to human interrogators. The 4% range is, of course, a lot larger than the number of terrorists passing through airports, and is the figure that enables SDS to take its system out of the realm of science fiction into reality. The system does not spot terrorists. It spots suspects.

"Globes": You look for suspicious responses, but people are different from one another. Maybe a suspect is mentally disturbed, or merely weird? Maybe his response will be different from that of other people of his nationality, because his parents were immigrants?

Shoval: "In such a case, we'll see a very different response from that of other people of his nationality, but we won't see an exceptional response to the special words. His responses to all the words will be equally odd."

Can a terrorist develop a response to beat the system?

"Terrorists donít know our special words, which we constantly change, nor do they know the 'reasonable response', against which they're compared. It will therefore be very difficult for them to train. A terrorist can try to teach himself to mute his responses, or even take a tranquilizer. But in that case, his response will be different from that of other people of his nationality."

What if a terrorist doesnít chose his native tongue, in order to avoid the special words?

"He will respond differently from the way the average English-speaker responds, both because it isnít his native tongue, and because he won't understand some of the words. It's impossible to outsmart this machine; anyone who tries to be clever is screwed."

What about someone who's very interested in terrorism, but isnít a terrorist? Maybe he's a member of Pakistani security?

"It's possible, although not at all certain, that such a person would be a suspect within the 4% permissible range. If he is, he'll have to explain himself to the human interrogator."

How is the system tested? After all, you can't collect terrorists to consent to being tested.

"So far, we've only tested and calibrated the system on Israelis. As I said, the goal is to create a system that tests the fear of being caught, so some of the subjects were given a mission, and others werenít. The system was able to identify the subjects who were given a mission. We later specifically tested stressful missions, such as taking something from the boss's office. The system identified the people carrying out the stressful mission."

The Department of Homeland Security allows you to suspect 4% of legitimate people. What is your margin of error in the other direction. Is the system certain of catching every terrorist, or will one periodically get through?

"We believe that maybe one out of dozens of terrorists can slip through the system. It's not perfect, but that's how it is with security - you can only do your best. You want things to make as difficult as possible for terrorists. If 50 terrorists are caught and one gets away, we'll be pleased, and so will the authorities."

Donít tell the terrorists how it works

Shoval previously worked for the Ministry of Defense, and was director of Comverse Technology's (Nasdaq: CMVT) TVGate division. Ziggi Horowitz, former chief of the police's polygraph unit and now the head of a polygraph institute, worked in the same building. They developed SDS's system together. Another partner in the company is Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amiram Levin, formerly deputy head of the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations (Mossad) and IDF OC Central Command, and now a businessman.

The field is very hot, and there must be other companies mulling similar ventures.

"As far as I know, there are no systems that even come close to working on the same principle. There are systems that try to spot a lie through voice frequencies, but it hasnít yet been proved that voice is an effective physiological index of intent. Another system is trying to spot excitement through body temperature, but what if the terrorist has taken a tranquilizer? None of these systems is as specific as ours. Even if someone were to read this article and decide to imitate us, he would face at least a two to three-year development hurdle."

Have you patented the method?

"We havenít. What's a patent after all? It means that you must disclose your know-how in full, and then someone can copy you, and, at best, you can sue him. In addition, although terrorists will have trouble confounding the system, it's foolish to give them as much information as possible, as required in a patent. In fact, the law permits a suit even without a patent, if there is proof of theft of intellectual property. We gain nothing from a patent."

What's your next step?

"Luckily, we're in an all-or-nothing field. The Americans know that if they order the system only for JFK Airport, all the terrorists will switch to another one. The closure must be either hermetic, or nonexistent. Therefore, if the Department of Homeland Security chooses to work with SDS, we'll hold an IPO the next day.

"Later, we can adapt the system to examine suspects in other areas: criminals; drugs; and employee loyalty in security positions. But the software will have to be adapted for these purposes."

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Courts brace for bankruptcy deluge
Bob Quick | The New Mexican
April 24, 2005

Court officials, lawyers and credit counselors are preparing for a rush of bankruptcy filings after President Bush last week signed a new law making it harder to escape debt through Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

Bankruptcy specialists are also striving to understand the new legislation, which some analysts say favors creditors and requires debtors to repay much of what they previously had been allowed to write off.

The new law is expected to take about six months to go into effect.

"This is a very, very big change in the bankruptcy world," said Norman Meyer, clerk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albuquerque. "Everybody is trying to figure it out right now, and nobody has precise answers."

One of the results of the new law will be an increase of the number of bankruptcy filings under the old law.

"Everybody thinks there's going to a rush to file, including us at the court," Meyer said. "We believe we will see an increase in filings over the next six months -- the question is how much of an increase. Nobody is willing to stick their neck out. There's all sort of guessing going on."

For the first three months of 2005, 2,526 bankruptcies were filed statewide. That compares with 2,398 filed in the first quarter of 2004 and 2,634 filed in the first quarter of 2003.

For all of 2004, 9,360 bankruptcies were filed, the second highest number ever. The record was in 2003, when 9,967 bankruptcies were filed.

Meyer said his "gut reaction" is that there will be at least 500 additional bankruptcy cases filed in coming months, perhaps as many as 1,000 more than usual. "We had about 9,500 bankruptcy cases filed in all of last year," he said.

Most of those were Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings. "We're primarily a 7 court," Meyer said. "Almost 90 percent of our filings are for Chapter 7."

Once the new law goes into effect, the number of Chapter 7 filings, which allows for filers to discharge their debts in return for the forfeiture of certain assets, is expected to drop.

That's because of a means test called for by the new law. Only filers with income below the median level of their state would be allowed to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7. Those making more than the median would be required to file Chapter 13, which calls for repayment of debts.

[...] And since Chapter 13 calls for a hearing in front of a judge and a payment schedule the judge needs to approve and then ensure it is implemented, "it will double the case loads for our judges," Meyer said. "We're very concerned about our ability to handle cases across the state."

As for the possibility of new bankruptcy judges to help out, "Congress hasn't approved a new bankruptcy in 13 years," Meyer said. "It's not as if they hand them out every year."

The immediate effect of the new law, according to Santa Fe bankruptcy attorney Doug Booth, is that "people will be rushing like crazy to my office to file before the new law kicks in. In the long run, we'll be doing more Chapter 13s."

Booth, who has practiced bankruptcy law for 25 years, called the new law "a convoluted nightmare" that requires, among other things, mandatory credit counseling for those seeking to file bankruptcy.

"That's proven to be useless and even destructive in the past," Booth said. "Most of the counseling services are owned by the credit-card industry."

[...] "It is poor people who are victims of this bill," he said.
Lobato agreed. "The focus of the new law is not really to allow people to rid themselves of debt," she said. "The focus is to force people to pay their credit card debt and even force them to pay off loans on cars they purchased within 30 months of filing." [...]

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Veterans talk of struggle at home
Thursday, April 21, 2005
By M.L. LYKE
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

BELLINGHAM -- Jacked-up in combat, they find the thrill is gone back home. The adrenaline won't pump. There's no edge -- so the Iraq veterans go looking for one.

"I've tried jumping off bridges and cliffs just to get a little rush -- but there's nothing there," says Byron Anderson, a 22-year-old Marine who, with two other Iraq veterans, discussed life before and after war at a community forum in Bellingham earlier this week.

The Streetcorner Forum, led by Bridget Cantrell, a mental health counselor who works with veterans, focused on how communities can help ease the transition from military to civilian life for returning soldiers. Two follow-up sessions will look at families' experiences with their returning soldiers (Tuesday) and resources available to vets and families (May 3). Meetings are 7 to 9 p.m. at the Senior Activity Center Auditorium, 315 Halleck St. in Bellingham.

Cantrell, co-author of a reintegration workbook for troops coming home called "Turning Your Heart Toward Home," warned the audience to avoid making any sudden noises, a first lesson in being mindful of soldiers' psyches. Loud noises can trigger reflexive combat reactions.

All three soldiers -- one National Guardsman and two Marines -- have struggled with combat stress issues, including sleeplessness, social isolation, outbursts of anger, difficulties with jobs and relationships. They described for the audience of about 30 how they left for war as one person and came back another.

"I'm like night and day," said Michael Colon, a 35-year-old National Guard sergeant who once prided himself on his work as a medic with search-and-rescue teams. No more. "I'm so desensitized now, I just laugh. I have no compassion left."

All three said they have had trouble relating to peers. "How many of my friends know what a dead body looks like after a week?" asked Aaron, a 22-year-old Marine reservist who is studying history and ancient languages at Western Washington University. The lance corporal asked that his last name not be used.

The three described what it was like "in country" -- the 130-degree-plus heat, the roadside bombs, the sniper attacks on convoys -- and the personal battles they've fought back home. Unable to sleep, Aaron said he often pulls all-nighters -- or drinks himself into a stupor, passes out, and wakes up in time to get to class. "I drink like a fish," he said.

The soldiers also described a new sense of self-reliance, of being able to face anything after combat in Iraq. "If the friggin' house falls down on me, I've got a knife, I can go find water, I can go find food. Nothing's going to get in my way," Aaron said.

He challenged the audience to think hard about the statement "I support the troops -- but not the war."

"There's an attempt to disconnect the two," he said. "But supporting us is tantamount to supporting our mission."

Asked how communities can support troops coming home, Anderson advised civilians to be ready to listen if they ask questions.

"Don't ever tell us what we saw," he said.

"We know what we saw."

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Blast rips through Myanmar market
Tuesday 26 April 2005, 18:32 Makka Time, 15:32 GMT

An explosion at a busy market in the central Myanmar city of Mandalay has killed two people and wounded 16.

The blast on Tuesday in the military-run southeast Asian nation comes less than a week after a convoy was attacked in the south of the country, killing eight people and wounding 15.
   
"The explosion was on the ground floor of Zaygyo Market. People nearby heard the single explosion around 4.15pm (0945 GMT)," said an official from the Mandalay general hospital.
   
She said two young women were killed and 16 others were wounded in the blast, which appeared to come from a store room.
   
There was no immediate comment from government officials on the cause of the blast. [...]

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Sri Lanka train crash kills dozens
Last Updated Wed, 27 Apr 2005 01:23:03 EDT
CBC News

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - A passenger train has smashed into a bus in northwestern Sri Lanka, killing at least 50 people, officials fear.

Between 25 and 40 confirmed deaths and dozens of injuries had been reported within a few hours of the accident, which happened just after 8 a.m. local time.

But officials said they'd had reports that at least 50 people had died.

Police and railway officials said the bus driver appeared to have ignored warning signs as the train approached.

Witnesses said he tried to beat it across the tracks at a level crossing in the town of Polgahawela, about 60 kilometres northeast of Colombo.

The train was travelling from the capital to the city of Kandy , while the bus was headed toward Colombo.

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Another Japanese train derails, one hurt
irishexaminer

A passenger train hit a trailer at a crossing in northern Japan and derailed today, injuring at least one person, police said. The driver of the trailer was slightly hurt, and the first car of the express passenger train derailed, said Takayuki Muto, spokesman for Ibaraki Prefectural Police.

There were no immediate reports of additional injuries. The trailer was stalled at the crossing after one of the wheels came off. The driver of the trailer pulled an emergency alarm at the crossing, but the train was unable to stop in time, Muto said. No further details were immediately available.

The reported accident in Nimori, 50 miles northeast of Tokyo, came a day after a major train wreck in western Japan killed 73 people.

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Third train accident in Japan
Wednesday, April 27, 2005 Posted: 1:36 AM EDT (0536 GMT)

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- In a week that has already seen Japan record its worst train accident in 40 years, another incident has further marred the country's normally trouble-free rail system.

A minivan collided with a commuter train in Yokohama early Wednesday, seriously injuring the driver of the vehicle, police said.

No injuries were reported among the 130 passengers on board the train.

The van crashed into the side of the train, operated by Sagami Railway Company, at a crossing at about 9 a.m. (midnight GMT).

It was the third accident this week after Monday's derailment of a train in central Japan, which killed at least 90 people and injured 456.

On Tuesday a truck driver was injured when a train ran into his semitrailer that had stalled at a crossing north of Tokyo. [...]

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Clerk shoots five dead at Chinese co-operative
irishexaminer

A former clerk at a credit co-operative shot five people dead and then killed himself after robbing the co-operative in northern China, the government said today.

The killings happened yesterday at the Xiangchenggu Credit Co-operative in Qiuxian County in Hebei province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It identified the killer as Wang Yanjun and said he shot five employees after he "snatched a sum of 100,000 yuan (Ä9,300". It said he then shot himself.

The report didnít explain why Wang shot himself or give other details. It said the incident was still under investigation.

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Two cases of flesh-eating disease found in Manitoba
By ALLISON DUNFIELD
Tuesday, April 26, 2005 Updated at 2:54 PM EST
Globe and Mail Update

Two people in Manitoba have been stricken by flesh-eating disease, and one has died, a report from the province's health department said Tuesday.

The cases were both found in the community of Sioux Valley, Man., near Brandon in the western part of the province.

Manitoba Health, Health Canada and the Brandon Regional Health Authority are investigating the incidents, the release said.

"As a precaution, identified close contacts of the cases have been given antibiotics and member of the community are being advised to see their health-care provider promptly if they have symptoms of infection."

The disease is not fatal if it is diagnosed and treated early. [...]

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Western Romania declares emergency after flash floods
Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 26 Apr 2005

BUCHAREST, April 26 (AFP) - Flash floods in western Romania have damaged thousands of homes and swamped vast stretches of farmland, leading Bucharest to declare a regional state of emergency on Tuesday.

More than 140 towns in the north and west of the country have been hit by several days of flooding, with swollen rivers destroying several bridges.

President Traian Basescu travelled to the worst-hit Timis region, where the rains have wrecked more than 1,300 homes and 30,000 hectares (75,000 acres) of farmland, pledging 60 million euros (77 million dollars) of aid to the region. [...]

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Jawbone hints at earliest Britons
By Paul Rincon
BBC News science reporter
A piece of jawbone that has lain in Torquay Museum, Devon, for nearly 80 years could be the oldest example of a modern human yet found in Europe.

The Kent's Cavern specimen was thought to be about 31,000 years old, but re-dating shows it is actually between 37,000 and 40,000 years old.

However, the early dates lead the team behind the research to wonder if the jawbone is actually from a Neanderthal.

A new examination of the fragment along with DNA analysis could sort this out.

The fragment of maxilla (upper jaw) containing three teeth was unearthed in Kent's Cavern, Torquay, in 1927 during an excavation by the Torquay Natural History Society.

Sir Arthur Keith, who was then Britain's leading anatomist, identified the specimen - known as Kent's Cavern 4 - as that of a modern human (Homo sapiens). It has by and large been accepted as such ever since.

The real significance of Kent's Cavern 4 was not recognised until the 1980s, when radiocarbon dating revealed its age to be 31,000 years old.

Glue contamination

However, the recent discovery that the bone had been strengthened with paper glue (probably soon after it was excavated) placed that radiocarbon age in doubt.

Now, Roger Jacobi of the British Museum and Tom Higham of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit have obtained new radiocarbon dates for animal bones in cave sediments just above and just below where the jaw fragment was found.

Of the handful of modern humans older than 28,000 years known from Europe, only the now questioned Kent's Cavern 4 and the 34-36,000-year-old remains from Pestera cu Oase in Romania have been directly dated.

Direct dating gives an absolute age for the find and the rocks in which it is buried. The alternative, relative dating, only says whether a find is older or younger than something else.

If the Torquay discovery is from Homo sapiens, says Dr Higham, "it would be the oldest directly dated modern human in Europe".

"The re-dating of this specimen puts it at the very dawn of the arrival of modern humans in Europe. So early, in fact, that it makes us wonder if it is from a modern human or from a Neanderthal," he told the BBC News website.

DNA analysis

Further research on the jawbone fragment is planned with the aim of answering this question.

Chris Stringer, of London's Natural History Museum, and Erik Trinkaus, of Washington University in St Louis, US, will carry out a physical examination of the specimen to see if it carries any features diagnostic of either modern humans or Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis), their close cousins.

Tooth samples will also be sent to the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, where researchers will carry out DNA analysis.

In either case, the specimen will occupy an important place in the European prehistoric record.

If the jawbone is Neanderthal, it will be the first "classic" Neanderthal confirmed in mainland Britain. Early Neanderthal teeth dating to about 200,000 years ago have been found at Pontnewydd, Wales.

But if Kent's Cavern 4 is found to come from an early modern human, or Cro-Magnon, the implications would be even more astounding.

"People have been arguing that [modern humans] may have been in eastern Europe early but they certainly weren't in western Europe," Professor Stringer told the BBC News website.

"If Kent's Cavern does turn out to be a modern human, it would mean some of them at least had come across very early.

"That would mean that in Britain and in western Europe, there was at least 10,000 years of overlap between Neanderthals and modern humans."

The pattern of bones and artefacts found at Kent's Cavern also provides clues to what was going on there.

"The cave is being used on a massive scale by spotted hyenas as a den. There are huge numbers of gnawed bones and layers of coprolites [droppings]. So the hyenas are being interrupted by humans coming in to spend the night and have a meal. I doubt they're really living in the cave," said Dr Jacobi.

The maxilla is associated with stone tools, but the researchers cannot yet determine the type of tool technology to which they belong.

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Spielberg says aliens likely our friends
DAVID GERMAIN
Associated Press
Posted on Tue, Apr. 26, 2005

LOS ANGELES - When the aliens finally arrive, Steven Spielberg expects them to be galactic good Samaritans like E.T. rather than the malevolent marauders of "War of the Worlds."

"I have to certainly believe what my heart tells me. That the first time there is a meeting of the minds between extraterrestrials and human beings, it's going to be friendly," Spielberg told The Associated Press in an interview looking ahead to his "War of the Worlds" saga, starring Tom Cruise.

Spielberg has covered the spectrum on alien behavior, from the mysterious yet ultimately benevolent explorers of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" to the cuddly munchkin of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" to the manipulative abductors in his miniseries "Taken."

With "War of the Worlds," based on H.G. Wells' science-fiction classic, Spielberg presents monsters from above intending to snuff out humankind. The film, due out June 29, substitutes space invaders of unknown origin for the Martians of Wells' book.

While Spielberg's latest aliens are bad guys, that does not mean he has turned pessimistic on the prospects of buddying up with off-worlders. Given the level of technology required for interstellar travel and the long star trek required to reach Earth, Spielberg figures aliens inevitably would come in peace.

"I can't believe anybody would travel such vast distances bent on destruction. I believe anybody who would travel such vast distances are curious explorers, not conquerors," Spielberg said. "Carrying weapons a hundred-thousand light-years is quite a schlepp. I believe it's easier to travel 100,000 light-years with their versions of the Bible."

So why does Hollywood tend toward first-contact stories of war and mayhem? First, it's more fun to show aliens blowing away puny earthlings rather than shaking hands and sitting down to a nice meal.

Second, it's more a reflection on human nature than extra-terrestrial nature.

"We tend to project our own human aggression into outer space," Spielberg said. "It doesn't necessarily mean there is aggression out there."

Comment: Yeah, right.

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