Thursday May 12, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Carte Blanche for the Terror Cops

Senate Gives Dept. Homeland Security Power to Waive All Laws
May 11, 2005

In passing the Iraq War Supplemental yesterday, the Senate also gave the Secretary of Homeland Security the power to waive any and all law in the course of building roads and barriers along the U.S. borders -- without limit and with no checks and balances. The measure is part of the "REAL ID Act of 2005," the controversial immigration bill attached by the House as a rider to the Iraq war supplemental.

The consequence of this decision is that Congress has given one man a license to waive any law, for any reason or for no reason at all. Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security, now has the power to simply waive away laws that protect the environment, safeguard public health, ensure consumer and workplace safety, prevent unfair business practices, and ban discrimination -- at his sole and unreviewable discretion.

There is too much at stake to grant any government officials the power to waive all law. Immediately at stake, of course, are current environmental protections in the vicinity of the borders, but even more is at stake. These fences and roads will not build themselves -- they must be put in place by workers, who could lose all their workplace safety protections as well as their rights to collective bargaining or even overtime pay. This new power comes completely without limit; every law, from child labor to ethical contracting, can now be waived.

Congressional supporters of this measure would like us to believe that this measure means only that DHS can speed up completion of one small stretch of fence in the "Smuggler's Gulch" area near San Diego. Nothing could be further from the truth. This measure is written so that Michael Chertoff will have unlimited authority to waive all law in the course of building roads and barriers and removing obstacles to the detection of illegal immigrants, and it applies anywhere in the vicinity of the borders. Earlier versions of this provision would have limited its scope just to environmental laws and just to Smuggler's Gulch, but the version now passed by both houses of Congress applies everywhere along the borders and applies to all laws on the books.

We expect government officials to execute the law. No government agency should be above the laws that preserve America's democracy. Congress has granted the Secretary of Homeland Security unbridled authority to act however he sees fit, without consequence, accountability, and any opportunity for judicial review.

Robert Shull is Director of Regulatory Policy at OMB Watch.

Comment: Well, golly! The Bush administration could even use enemy combatant slave labor to "securitize" the borders. This story should erase any doubts about the dead seriousness of the Neocon gang when it comes to locking down US borders.

Upon hearing about Chertoff's new powers, Bush reportedly exclaimed, "Now wait just a cotton-pickin' minute! I am the dictator here!!"

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The film US TV networks dare not show
Thursday May 12, 2005
The Guardian

Adam Curtis has recut his explosive war on terror documentary The Power of Nightmares into a feature film - and is taking it to the festival. But he's no Michael Moore, he tells Stuart Jeffries

[...] He was asked to trim half an hour off his three-hour series so that it could be shown at Cannes as a film by the festival's artistic director Thierry Frémaux, who in turn had been lobbied by Tom Luddy, who runs the Telluride Film Festival, and Bertrand Tavernier, the great French director and documentary maker. "I know they both liked the BBC series I did before, called The Century of the Self [about the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the US]." Was it hard to edit the series for Cannes? "If you spend six months making three films that you think have a coherent argument, you become convinced that there is nothing that can come out because it's all so wonderful," he says. "But I think the new version works - it has been updated and it makes the argument more powerful." Are you looking forward to being feted on the Côte d'Azur? "I don't know what to expect. I've never been to Cannes before. It's not really a place for the likes of me."

His documentary took as its starting point the year 1949, when two men who would prove massively influential to the establishment of Islamic terror groups and to the neo-Conservative American tendency that now dominates Washington were both in the US. One was an Egyptian school inspector called Sayyid Qutb whose ideas would directly inspire those who flew the planes on the attacks of September 11. Qutb's summer visit to Colorado revolted him so much - he could see nothing there but decadent materialism - that he went home thinking that modern liberal freedoms were eroding society's bonds and that only a radical Islam could prevent its destruction. Meanwhile, in Chicago, an obscure political philosopher called Leo Strauss was developing a similar critique of western liberalism (though without the Islamic answer to individualism's purported ills). He called on conservative politicians to invent national myths to hold society together and stop America in particular from collapsing into degraded individualism. It was from such Straussian reflections that the idea that the US's national destiny was to tilt against seeming foreign evils - be they the Soviet bloc or, later, fundamentalist Islam - was born.

But the film is even more incendiary for its analysis of what Curtis controversially insists is the largely illusory fear of terrorism in the west since 9/11. Curtis argues that politicians such as Bush and Blair have stumbled on a new force that can restore their power and authority - the fear of a hidden and organised web of evil from which they can protect their people. In a still-traumatised US, those with the darkest nightmares have become the most powerful and Curtis's film castigates the media, security forces and the Bush administration for extending their power in this way. "It has really touched a nerve with people who realise something is not quite right with the way terrorism has been reported."

For these reasons, one might well think that The Power of Nightmares would provide a usefully chastening corrective to the prevailing orthodoxy if it were shown on US television. But it seems extremely unlikely that it will be. While a two-and-a-half -hour film version is to be given a prime-time Cannes screening, and while the original three-hour series will be shown tonight on al-Jazeera along with a live interview with the director, US telly has run scared from showing it. "Something extraordinary has happened to American TV since September 11," says Curtis. "A head of the leading networks who had better remain nameless said to me that there was no way they could show it. He said, 'Who are you to say this?' and then he added, 'We would get slaughtered if we put this out.'" Surely a relatively enlightened broadcaster like HBO would show it? "When I was in New York I took a DVD to the head of documentaries at HBO. I still haven't heard from him." He has little hope that he will.

Did the BBC have similar com punction about commissioning the series? "No. And the response from viewers was overwhelmingly positive. Ninety-four per cent of the emails were in favour." That said, some comments on the BBC message boards for Curtis are less enthusiastic. Iain Foster from Portsmouth wrote: "I have sat through your documentary tonight. I hope your programme is shown again following the next terrorist attack. You sound like the hedgehog who claims that cars won't hurt you!!!! I'm amazed!!!!!!!" But the repeat screenings for the series on the BBC show a very different attitude towards The Power of Nightmares from what is prevalent on US TV. "What happens on US TV now is that you have a theatre of confrontation so that people avoid having to seriously analyse what the modern world is like - perhaps because of the emotional shock of September 11," says Curtis. "People take so-called left or right positions and shout at each other. It's almost like the court of Louis XIV - people taking elaborate positions and not thinking very much."

And yet the documentary's success in being selected for Cannes has resulted in Pathé buying up distribution rights to exhibit The Power of Nightmares in cinemas around the world. "They think there's a massive market for this." As a result, there is every possibility that his film will be shown in American cinemas, though Curtis worries that it will as a result become marginalised to art houses. As with the Channel 4 drama Yasmin about a Muslim Yorkshirewoman's travails in post 9/11 Britain, it seems important that the topical Power of Nightmares be seen by as many people as possible rather than savoured by a relatively small number of aesthetes in indie houses. "I work in TV because it's a more powerful medium and it reaches more people. It would be good for it to be shown on American TV, though they might think it's a bit dull to stimulate discussion. Are they too frightened to have the debate?"

Curtis argues that there is a huge appetite for a serious critical analysis of the post-9/11 geopolitical world in the US. "It has been shown at the Tribeca and San Francisco film festivals. All the shows were sold out. There were queues around the block, and the discussions were extraordinary. Sometimes I would just sit back and let the audiences discuss it. But I was quite shocked that the audiences, very well-educated people mostly, did not know about Qutb, whose thinking, which was developed under torture in Egyptian jails, was a direct influence on Zawahiri, al-Qaida's number two. "

How will al-Jazeera's audience respond to the uncut version tonight? "No idea." Perhaps Osama will be tuning from his mystery hideout in Pakistan? "I'm sure he'd find it enlightening."

Comment: We recommend The Power of Nightmares to anyone who hasn't seen it. Although Curtis does not go far enough (he still doesn't believe that 9/11 was in inside job), he lays out clearly the way fundamentalist Islam and the neocon ideology work together to create an atmosphere of fear that can be used by our leaders to manipulate us.

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Coffee, Tea or Torture?

Non-Stop to Uzbekistan
May 11, 2005

It's probably just because we have a shortage of good jails. Otherwise being a country concerned with human rights we'd not consider it.

Back in 2001 there was a human rights report by the U.S. Department of State. It described life in jails in Uzbekistan and no one reading the report would wish incarceration in that country on even the most heinous of criminals. The New York Times' description of the report says that the police routinely tortured prisoners. Some of the methods employed included "beating, often with blunt weapons and asphyxiation with a gas mask." That was, of course, only the view of the State Department. According to the Times, human rights groups included even more horrific description of torture such as applying electric shock to genitalia, plucking off toenails and fingernails with pliers and, perhaps least appealing of all, boiling body parts. The reports failed to indicate whether or not the boiled parts were attached to the person before boiling.

Following release of that report, 9/11 occurred and within a week Mr. Bush suggested that Uzbek militants posed a threat to the world. Given the comments made about Afghanistan at the same time, Uzbekistan was understandably nervous and anxious, one suspects, to avoid the wrath of the Burning Bush who was promising to avenge the events of 9/11 with all his might. Within a short time Uzbekistan gave the U.S. the right to use a military base on Uzbekistan's border with Afghanistan. In return Uzbekistan was promised a handsome aid package. The fact it had recently been accused of boiling body parts of prisoners (presumably while still attached) was not a matter of concern for Mr. Bush. It was for Congress, however.

Congress said that the money could not be released unless its president, Islam Karimov, followed through on promises he'd made about human rights in his country when visiting the White House in 2002. In a photo in the New York Times showing him shaking hands with Mr. Bush the caption said that Uzbekistan was welcomed as a partner in the fight against global terrorism. Congress thought it would be nice if the alliance were more than a pretty picture in a newspaper. It required certification by the State Department, semi-annually, assuring that progress was being made. It received that assurance when in May, 2003, the State Department issued a memorandum stating that Uzbekistan had made "substantial and continuing progress" in human rights, specifically describing torture as one of the areas in which progress had been made. It did not mean there was more torture-it meant there was less. It was wrong.

In June, 2003 Human Rights Watch described the death of Otamaza Gafarov. Mr. Gafarov died in prison on May 3. Authorities attributed his death to a heart attack. According to Human Rights Watch, those who helped prepare his body for burial observed a large head wound apparently caused by a sharp object, bruising to the back of the head, rib cage, chest and throat and scratched hands. The infliction of those wounds might well have given him a heart attack. His death and other abuses did not go unnoticed by the State Department.

In January, 2004, the State Department announced that Uzbekistan had not met international human rights standards. In July the United States cut off $18 million in military and economic aid to Uzbekistan. This probably seemed harsh to Uzbekistan, coming as it did, less than two years after its president had been a guest at the White House. It was welcomed by those concerned with human rights.

Tom Malinowski, who is a human rights analyst for Human Rights Watch, observed that: "This is the first time that the administration has allowed a lack of progress on human rights to have a significant impact on its relationship with a critical security partner in that part of the world."

The news is of course wonderful. We won't give Uzbekistan any more money until it quits torturing prisoners. The only thing we are presently willing to give it is people. According to a recent report in the New York Times, it is believed that the C.I.A. is sending some of the people it has captured to Uzbekistan. The people it is sending are terror suspects. Estimates are that as many as 150 suspected terrorists have been sent abroad to a number of countries, including Uzbekistan. Asked about the practice one official refused to say whether prisoners went to Uzbekistan but he did say reassuringly that: "The United States does not engage in or condone torture." That explains why the aid was cut off. It doesn't explain why prisoners get sent there. That is probably none of our business. It should be.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: or through his website:

Comment: Not everyone in the US has to worry about being able to cross locked down borders. Those who are accused of being terrorists and declared enemy combatants will get a free trip across the border to countries like Uzbekistan.

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Home from Iraq

What it's like to be afraid of your own country
By Molly Bingham
Tue, 10 May 2005 05:07:33 -0500

This article is adapted from a speech given by photojournalist Molly Bingham at Western Kentucky University last month.

We spent 10 months in Iraq, working on a story, understanding who the people are who are fighting, why they fight, what their fundamental beliefs are, when they started, what kinds of backgrounds they come from, what education, jobs they have. Were they former military, are they Iraqi or foreign? Are they part of al-Qaida? What we came up with is a story in itself, and one that Vanity Fair ran in July 2004 with my text and pictures. [My colleague Steve Connors] shot a documentary film that is still waiting to find a home. But the basic point for this discussion is that we both thought it was really journalistically important to understand who it was who was resisting the presence of the foreign troops. If you didn't understand that, how could you report what was clearly becoming an "ongoing conflict?" And if you were reading the news in America, or Europe, how could you understand the full context of what was unfolding if what motivates the "other side" of the conflict is not understood, or even discussed?

Just the process of working on that story has revealed many things to me about my own country. I'd like to share some of them with you:

Lesson One: Many journalists in Iraq could not, or would not, check their nationality or their own perspective at the door.

One of the hardest things about working on this story for me personally, and as a journalist, was to set my "American self" and perspective aside. It was an ongoing challenge to listen open-mindedly to a group of people whose foundation of belief is significantly different from mine, and one I found I often strongly disagreed with.

But going in to report a story with a pile of prejudices is no way to do a story justice, or to do it fairly, and that constant necessity to bite my tongue, wipe the smirk off my face or continue to listen through a racial or religious diatribe that I found appalling was a skill I had to practice. We would never walk in to cover a union problem or political event without seeking to understand the perspective from both, or the many sides of the story that exist. Why should we as journalists do it in Iraq?

Lesson Two: Our behavior as journalists has taught us very little. Just as in the lead up to the war in Iraq, questioning our government's decisions and claims and what it seeks to achieve is criticized as unpatriotic.

Along these lines, the other thing I found difficult was the realization that, while I was out doing what I believe is solid journalism, there were many (journalists and normal folks alike) who would question my patriotism, or wonder how I could even think hearing and relating the perspective "from the other side" was important.

Certainly, over the last three years I've had to acquire the discipline of overriding my emotional attachment to my country, and remember my sense of human values that transcend frontiers and ethnicity. And with a sense of duty to history, I needed to just get on with reporting the story. My value of human life and rights don't fluctuate depending on which country I'm in. I don't see one individual as more deserving of fair treatment than another. . . .

Now, I realize I'm in Kentucky, a state with many military connections, and there are many of you here who may have served, or have family members who serve, and let me take this moment to say that I have the utmost respect and sympathy for the American soldiers overseas right now, particularly in Iraq. They have been sent on a most difficult mission, to quell a population that will not be quelled, in a land awash with weapons.

The American military is being used to find a solution to what is essentially a political problem, an equation that rarely adds up well. As if that were not enough, our soldiers have been sent with insufficient resources to protect themselves. In my mind, that is all inexcusable.

Lesson Three: To seek to understand and represent to an American audience the reasons behind the Iraqi opposition is practically treasonous.

Every one of the people involved in the resistance that we spoke to held us individually responsible for their security. If something happened to them - never mind that they were legitimate targets for the U.S. military - they would blame us. And kill us. We soon learned that they had the U.S. bases so well watched that we had to abandon our idea of working on the U.S. side of the story-that is, discovering what the soldiers really thought about who might be attacking them. There were so many journalists working with the American soldiers that we believed that that story would be well told. More practically, if we were seen by the Iraqis going in and out of the American bases, we would be tagged immediately as spies, informants and most likely be killed.

Comment: Oh! Now we understand. You see, everything occurring in Iraq today is the fault of the Iraqi people. We are supposed to believe that the US had every right to swoop down upon Iraq and blow up men, women, and children. We are meant to think that there is nothing wrong with US forces effectively kidnapping, imprisoning, and torturing innocent Iraqis. Surely the US military and its civilian leadership is also not responsible in the least for failing to restore basic services like water and electricity after so effectively obliterating them in the initial invasion. Finally, we imagine that we are also supposed to believe that the blame for the leveling of Fallujah should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the average Iraqi.

As terrifying as that was to manage and work through, there was another fear that was just as bad. What if the American military or intelligence found out what we were working on? Would they tail us and round up the people we met? Would they kick down our door late one night, rifle through all our stuff and arrest us for "collaborating with the enemy?" Bear in mind that there are no real laws in Iraq. At the time that we were working, the American military was the law, and it seemed to me that they were pretty much making it up as they went along. I was pretty sure that if they wanted to "disappear" us, rough us up or even send us for an all expenses paid vacation in Guantánamo for suspected al-Qaida connections, they could do so with very little, or even no recourse on our part.

I could go into a long litany of the ways in which the American military has treated journalists in Iraq. Recent actions indicate that the U.S. military will detain and/or kill any journalist who happens to be caught covering the Iraqi side of the militant resistance, and indeed a number of journalists have been killed by U.S. troops while working in Iraq. This behavior at the moment seems to be limited to journalists who also happen to be Arabs, or Arab-looking, but that is only a tangential story to what I'm telling you about here.

The intimidation to not work on this story was evident. Dexter Filkins, who writes for The New York Times, related a conversation he had in Iraq with an American military commander just before we left. Dexter and the commander had gotten quite friendly, meeting up sporadically for a beer and a chat. Towards the end of one of their conversations, Dexter declined an invitation for the next day by explaining that he'd lined up a meeting with a "resistance guy." The commander's face went stony cold and he said, "We have a position on that." For Dexter the message was clear. He cancelled the appointment. And, again, this is not meant as any criticism of the military; they have a war to win, and dominating the "message," or the news is an integral part of that war. The military has a name for it, "information operations," and the aim is to achieve information superiority in the same way they would seek to achieve air superiority. If you look closely, you will notice there is very little, maybe even no direct reporting on the resistance in Iraq. We do, however, as journalists report what the Americans say about the resistance. Is this really anything more than stenography?

And many American journalists often refer to those attacking Americans or Iraqi troops and policemen as "terrorists." Some are indeed using terrorist tactics, but calling them "terrorists" simply shuts down any sense of need or interest to look beyond that word, to understand why indeed human beings might be willing to die in a violent struggle to achieve their goal. Pushing them off as simply "insane, wild Arabs" or "extremist Muslims" does them no service, but even more, it does the U.S. no service. If we as Americans fail to understand who attacks us and why, we will simply continue on this same path, and continue watching from afar as a war we don't understand boils over.

Lesson Four: The gatekeepers - by which I mean the editors, publishers and business sides of the media - don't want their paper or their outlet to reveal that compelling narrative of why anyone would oppose the presence of American troops on their soil. Why would anyone refuse democracy? Why would anyone not want the helping hand of America in overthrowing their terrible dictator? It's amazing to me how expeditiously we turn away from our own history. Think of our revolution. Think of our Founding Fathers. Think of what they stood for and hoped for. Think of how, over time, we have learned to improve on our own Constitution and governance. But think, mostly, about the words I just used: It was our decision and our determination that brought us where we are now.

Recall Patrick Henry's famous speech encouraging the Second Virginia Convention, gathered on March 20, 1775, to fight the British, "Give me liberty or give me death!" Why is it that we, as Americans, presume that any Iraqi would feel any differently? If the roles were reversed, do you think for a moment that our men wouldn't be stockpiling arms and attacking any foreign invader with the temerity to set foot on our soil, occupy our buildings of government and write us a new constitution?

Comment: The author's comments here are rather interesting. Earlier in the article, she wrote that those involved in the Iraqi resistance were "legitimate targets" of the US military...

Wouldn't we as women be joining with them in any way we could? Wouldn't the divisions between us - how we feel about President Bush, whether we're Republican or Democrat - be put aside as we resisted a common enemy?

Then why is it that this story of human effort for self-determination by violent means cannot be told in America? Are we so small, so confused by our own values that we cannot recognize when someone emulates our own struggle? Even if it is the U.S. that they are struggling against? I want to be careful to explain that I am not saying that the Iraqis fighting against us are necessarily fighting for democracy, but they are fighting for their right to decide for themselves what their nation looks like politically.

Lesson Five: What it's like to be afraid of your own country.

Once the story was finished and set to come out on the street, I was rushing back to the States - mostly because we could no longer work once the story was published - and I found I was scared returning to my own country. And that was an amazingly strange and awful feeling to have. Again, you could call me paranoid, but the questions about what might happen to me once in America - where at least I would have more rights - kept racing through my brain. I'm still here, so you could say that my frantic mental gymnastics about what could happen to me in my own country were paranoid anxieties.

But I would turn that question around:

How many other American journalists, perhaps not as secure in their position as I, have thought to do a story and decided that it's too close to the bone, too questioning of the American government or its actions? How many times was the risk that our own government might come in and rifle through our apartment, our homes or take us away for questioning in front of our children a factor in our decision not to do a story? How many times did we as journalists decide not to do a story because we thought it might get us into trouble? Or, as likely, how often did the editor above us kill the story for the same reasons? Lots of column inches have been spent in the discussion of how our rights as Americans are being surreptitiously confiscated, but what about our complicity, as journalists, in that? It seems to me that the assault on free speech, while the fear and intimidation is in the air, comes as much from us-as individuals and networks of journalists who censor ourselves-as it does from any other source.

We need to wake up as individuals and as a community of journalists and start asking the hard and scary questions. Questions we may not really want to know the answers to about ourselves, about our government, about what is being done in our name, and hold the responsible individuals accountable through due process in our legal or electoral system.

We need to begin to be able to look again at our government, our leadership and ourselves critically. That is what the Fourth Estate is all about. That's what American journalism can do at its zenith. I also happen to believe that, in fact, that is the highest form of patriotism-expecting our country to live up to the promises it makes and the values it purports to hold. The role of the media in assisting the public to ensure those values are reflected in reality is undeniably failing today.

Go ahead, take a hard look in the mirror, ask the questions - if there is something in our nation that needs repair or change, that is how it will get done, by asking those questions, getting answers and reporting them.

We still have the freedom in this country as individuals and as journalists to defend the rights enshrined in the Constitution, to defend the values that we as individuals still hold dear - so why aren't we doing it? Are we scared? If we're scared, then who will be there to defend those rights and values when it is proposed that they be taken away?

I still believe in that country that I love so dearly, the place I think of when the words "freedom," "opportunity," "liberty," "justice" and "equality" are spoken on lips, but I want it to be a country I see, hear and feel every day, not one that lives in my imagination.

It's time we looked in the mirror and began to take responsibility for what our country looks like, what our country is and how it behaves, rather than acting like victims before we actually are.

Or do I need to start facing the reality that all I love and believe in is simply self-delusion?

Molly Bingham, a Louisville native, was detained in 2003 by Iraqi security forces and held in Abu Ghraib prison from March 25 to April 2, 2003. Eighteen days after her release, she returned to Iraq to pursue stories for The New York Times, The Guardian of London and others.

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Iraqi Insurgents "Demolish" US Marine Squad
By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, May 12, 2005; A01

Marines Who Survived Ambush Are Killed, Wounded in Blast

HABAN, Iraq, May 11 -- The explosion enveloped the armored vehicle in flames, sending orange balls of fire bubbling above the trees along the Euphrates River near the Syrian border.

Marines in surrounding vehicles threw open their hatches and took off running across the plowed fields, toward the already blackening metal of the destroyed vehicle. Shouting, they pulled to safety those they could, as the flames ignited the bullets, mortar rounds, flares and grenades inside, rocketing them into the sky and across pastures.

Gunnery Sgt. Chuck Hurley emerged from the smoke and turmoil around the vehicle, circling toward the spot where helicopters would later land to pick up casualties. As he passed one group of Marines, he uttered one sentence: "That was the same squad."

Among the four Marines killed and 10 wounded when an explosive device erupted under their Amtrac on Wednesday were the last battle-ready members of a squad that four days earlier had battled foreign fighters holed up in a house in the town of Ubaydi. In that fight, two squad members were killed and five were wounded.

In 96 hours of fighting and ambushes in far western Iraq, the squad had ceased to be.

Every member of the squad -- one of three that make up the 1st Platoon of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment -- had been killed or wounded, Marines here said. All told, the 1st Platoon -- which Hurley commands -- had sustained 60 percent casualties, demolishing it as a fighting force.

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Two Amigos And Their Gulag Archipelago
By Lou Dubose
May 12, 2005

Jack Abramoff won’t make the May 12 Salute to Tom DeLay banquet at the Capitol Hilton.

That doesn’t seem fair.

For decades the two men—one an Orthodox Jewish lobbyist and Republican Party rainmaker, the other a fundamentalist Christian Congressman and Republican Party rainmaker—were a team. Raising money. Handicapping races. Supporting candidates. Lining up K Street support for Republican candidates and legislation. Playing the world’s best golf courses. But mostly raising money—a political forte the two men shared.

Oddly, it’s because of the money that Abramoff is not welcome at the DeLay tribute. Jack got a little carried away. He is currently under investigation by a multi-agency task force, U.S. attorneys, and two Washington, D.C., grand juries regarding $82 million he and former DeLay press aide Mike Scanlon billed (or bilked from) six Indian tribes. Sen. John McCain is running a similar investigation out of Senate Indian Affairs.

Abramoff, a top-tier Washington lobbyist, and Scanlon, who at the time was operating his own public relations firm, billed their American Indian gaming clients at rates that stunned Washington’s lobbying cultures. They pocketed much of the $82 million because it wasn’t billed by Abramoff’s lobbying firm but by Scanlon’s small shop. But a big chunk of it went to Republican Party campaign committees. Scanlon, for example, contributed $500,000 to the Republican Governors Association in 2002. Abramoff raised $100,000 for George W. Bush’s last two presidential campaigns (and served on Bush’s White House transition team.) He also gave at least $30,000 to Tom Delay’s political action committee (and was a member of DeLay’s “kitchen cabinet”).

DeLay is completely entangled in Abramoff’s Indian scheme and even took a $70,000 golf trip on the tribes’ tab. And accepted tens of thousands of Indian gaming contributions. But long before they discovered American Indians, these guys were doing Micronesians on a remote Pacific archipelago. Captured from the Japanese in World War II, the Northern Marianas was for a quarter of a century a United Nations trust governed by the United States. In 1975 it became the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI). Suddenly it was a sweatshop haven, exempt from U.S. import laws yet unregulated by U.S. labor law. Apparel shops could pay $3.05 an hour, dodge the most basic workplace safety regs and still stick “Made in the U.S.A.” tags on clothing sold to Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, Calvin Klein, Liz Claiborne, J.C. Penney and other retail outlets.

Sweatshop owners and the islands’ governor feared intervention 10 years later: Retain my services as a lobbyist and you get access to Tom DeLay.

He was working a seller’s market. There had been signs that Washington was not happy with labor conditions on the islands. Reagan administration officials, never a group to worry too much about labor conditions, were first to complain. Then, in 1992, a Bush I administration official told a congressional committee the garment industry in the Commonwealth was built on a foundation of cheap alien labor, favorable tariff treatment, tax breaks, rebates and other assistance underwritten by the federal government.

All true. All utterly understated.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands was a for-profit American labor gulag. Women were flown in from China, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other underdeveloped countries. They lived 10 or more to a room in workers’ compounds surrounded by fences topped by razor wire. Privacy was sheets suspended between cots. Sanitation was poor. Women queued up at the single bathroom, faucet and shower provided them.

They often worked 70-hour weeks and received no overtime pay. At times, some worked around the clock for two or even three days to meet production quotas. They had little choice. Many workers spent much of their first year paying off the $5,000 to $7,000 they had paid labor recruiters to book their jobs and transportation.

In 1992, San Francisco Congressman George Miller began investigating working conditions on the islands. In the same year, the U.S. Department of Labor fined five garment factories $9 million in back wages for 1,200 workers who had been locked in worksites and barracks and required to work 84-hour weeks with no overtime. It was the largest fine the department ever levied. In 1995, the Philippines, not exactly a country with a reputation for defending workers’ rights, began denying visas to Philippine citizens bound for labor camps in the Commonwealth. By mid-1997, the Clinton administration was moving to impose federal labor standards on the commonwealth. The president himself wrote to the governor, warning that “certain labor practices in the islands are inconsistent with our country’s values.”

By then the government of commonwealth had retained Abramoff—at the time one of the hottest lawyer/lobbyists on K Street. That connected the government to the good offices of then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay.

DeLay delivered.

When Governor Froilan Tenorio visited Washington in 1997, DeLay stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and told the story of the Marianas Miracle:

“Governor Tenorio did not come to Washington looking for taxpayer benefits, welfare or handouts. He came to promote market reforms. During his administration, Governor Tenorio has actively pursued and courted businesses around the globe to open shop on the CMI. Like President Reagan in the 1980s, Tenorio has kept taxes low. Low tax rates have actually increased productivity, which in turn increased revenue for the government of the CNMI…The economic changes that have taken place in the CNMI have been nothing short of miraculous.”

He didn’t mention working conditions or the $9 million fine.

Abramoff also delivered. He paid for part of the trip for Tom and Christine DeLay, and their daughter Danni Ferro, to spend Christmas 1997 and New Years' Eve at the Saipan Hyatt. They were accompanied by 14 staffers, including Scanlon, who would later help Abramoff elect his candidate for speaker of the house in the Commonwealth. Airfare alone was $75,778. But it was chump change. Abramoff and his law firm billed the Marianas $9 million. He even booked some work for a friend, right-wing Rabbi David Lapin, who pocketed $1.2 million for an eight-day ethics course he taught in the Marianas. The high cost must have had something to do with the difficulty of imposing ethical standards on such a wild place.

DeLay even took a tour of the garment factories. When a reporter asked him about sweatshop conditions DeLay said the factories were air-conditioned. “I didn’t see anybody sweating.”

At a New Year’s Eve banquet at the Hyatt, DeLay toasted “one of my closest and dearest friends, Jack Abramoff, your most able representative in Washington, D.C.” He then warned the factory owners and elected officials about the Clinton administration.

“You are up against the forces of big labor and the radical left. Dick Armey and I made a promise to defend the islands’ present system. Stand firm. Resist evil. Remember that all truth and blessings emanate from our Creator. God bless you and the people of the Northern Marianas.”

God blessed them. Wages in the Marianas remained $3.05 an hour. Abramoff would return the compliment DeLay paid him at the New Year’s eve party, later telling a group of cheering Young Republicans that, “Tom DeLay is who we all want to be when we grow up.”

It’s too bad Jack can’t be on the podium to share that sentiment with the crowd gathered in Washington to honor his old friend.

Comment: Unfortunately for the American people and many others around the world, it is ethically challenged people like Delay that dominate the US government, and have done for many, many years.

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Bolton's Yellowcake
Ray McGovern
May 11, 2005

What role did John Bolton play in the Bush administration's efforts to manufacture the intelligence needed to justify the invasion of Iraq? As it turns out, a hidden but important role. Remember the "yellowcake from Niger?"

Briefly reported last week in Steve Clemons' The Washington Note was that a Congressional subcommittee, citing a State Department inspector general's report, found that Bolton ordered and received updates on the notorious "Fact Sheet" of Dec. 19, 2002 that claimed Iraq had been trying to procure uranium "yellowcake" from Niger. In other words, John Bolton played a key role in ordering that discredited intelligence be used to support the president's case for war, three months before the attack on Iraq.

A Plan To Fix The Facts

The leaked document was first published by the London Sunday Times on May 1, in which the head of British intelligence told Prime Minister Tony Blair that President George W. Bush had decided to make war on Iraq. The date, you will remember, was July 23, 2002—long before the president consulted Congress, and long before any intelligence was cooked up to "justify" such a decision.

The official minutes of that meeting show that the U.K. intelligence chief, Richard Dearlove, just back from consultations in Washington with then-CIA director George Tenet and other officials, announced matter-of-factly that the attack on Iraq is to be "justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction." British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is quoted as confirming that Bush has decided on war, but interjects ruefully that the case for WMD was "thin." Not a problem, says Dearlove, "Intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."


But how does this kind of "fixing" play out? Insights leap out of recently declassified email messages from the office of Undersecretary of State John Bolton, archdeacon of politicization. I was particularly struck today to learn from the Washington Post that Bolton's principal aide and chief enforcer, Frederick Fleitz, is actually a CIA analyst on loan to Bolton. In this light, his behavior in trying to cook intelligence to the recipe of high policy is even more inexcusable. CIA analysts, particularly those on detail to policy departments, have no business playing the enforcer of policy judgments, have no business conjuring up "intelligence around the policy."

Fleitz must have flunked Ethics and Intelligence Analysis 101. Or perhaps the CIA does not offer the course any more. This is the same Fleitz who "explained" to State Department's intelligence analyst Christian Westermann that it was "a political judgment as to how to interpret this data [on Cuba's biological weapons program] and the I.C. [intelligence community] should do as we asked."

Emails released more recently show Fleitz acting as stalking horse for Bolton to make sure the intelligence fit the policies Bolton was pushing. Fleitz is furious that State Department intelligence experts feel it their duty to demur on Bolton/Fleitz judgments regarding the efficacy of missile export controls against China. Fleitz, whose home office at CIA is the one which gave us "high confidence" judgments on the presence of WMD in Iraq, apparently ordered up analysis from CIA to suit his boss' strongly held judgment that the controls on exports to China were deficient.

Not surprisingly, Bolton liked the analysis that was served up by Fleitz' CIA colleagues and told him to pass it to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. But State's intelligence analysts had the temerity to do their job, and attached a cover memo taking the opposite position, viewing the export controls positively. Questioned on this by Senate staffers last week, Fleitz admitted that his experience in his CIA home office gave him a personal stake in how the analysis was treated. This is doubly inappropriate.

The idea of seconding intelligence analysts to policy departments dates back almost three decades to a time when many analysts found themselves working in a vacuum, blissfully unaware of policymakers' interests and needs. The analysts' (otherwise laudable) search for relevance has now swung the pendulum too far in the other direction, with folks like Fleitz "cherry-picked" by folks like Bolton to "support" policy in wholly inappropriate ways. That top CIA officials allow the Boltons of this administration to get away with that shows CIA managers to be weak, witting and willing accomplices in this corruption of the intelligence process.

Enter The Yellowcake

The Fleitz technique is one way to Boltonize intelligence, but there are other ways to counter attempts by intelligence analysts to "tell it like it is," when "like it is" needs to be "fixed" around a policy. Just go around the analysts.

An instructive example of this can be seen by harkening back to a key juncture in the saga on Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction," in which Bolton achieved his aims by simply cutting State Department intelligence analysts out of the flow.

Painful as it is to bring up the embarrassing canard about Iraq seeking uranium in Niger, that sad chapter illustrates how Bolton operates when he knows he cannot bully intelligence community analysts to come up with the desired "analysis." Before President Bush's key speech on Oct. 7, 2002 setting the stage for Congress' vote on the war three days later, then-CIA director Tenet personally intervened to prevent the president from using spurious "intelligence" on the alleged attempts to acquire "yellowcake" (slightly enriched uranium) from Africa.

Just two months later, however, this canard reappeared in an official State Department "Fact Sheet" dated Dec. 19, debunking Baghdad's submission to the U.N. Security Council accounting for Iraqi weapons programs. The "Fact Sheet" directly cited the "yellowcake" deal as proof that Saddam Hussein was lying to the United States about his nuclear program (which had been "reconstituted" only in the rhetoric of Bolton's patron, Dick Cheney).

Small problem: State's intelligence analysts had long shared CIA's skepticism about that report. Indeed, in the National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 1, 2002 they had branded it "dubious."

What accounts for new life being injected into this canard? We learned some time ago from a former senior Bush State Department official that the impetus came from Bolton's office. And now we have documentary proof, thanks to a State Department Inspector General investigation, the results of which were shared with a congressional subcommittee. In sum, when Bolton realized that the Iraq-Niger report itself left most analysts holding their noses (even before it was established that it was based on crude forgeries), his office inserted the bogus story into the official State Department "Fact Sheet" without clearing it with the department's own intelligence analysts. Easy.

This strongly suggests that it was also no accident that a month later the yellowcake fable found its way into the president's state-of-the-union address. Bolton's rogue operation ensured the subsequent embarrassment of one and all when the head of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed El Baradei declared the reports "not authentic," forcing both White House officials and George Tenet to apologize.

Bolton kept his head down during all this, doing all he could to disguise his involvement in the "Fact Sheet" misadventure. Indeed, the House Committee on Government Reform's Subcommittee on National Security found that "the State Department deliberately concealed unclassified information about the role of John Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, in the creation of a fact sheet that falsely claimed that Iraq sought uranium from Niger."

In a letter of Sept. 25, 2003, State told the subcommittee that "Bolton did not play a role in the creation of this document." However, subcommittee investigators subsequently obtained access to a State Department Inspector General report that showed that Bolton not only ordered that the Fact Sheet be created, but also received updates on its development.

Later, Bolton fell back on his default modus operandi-the by-now-familiar attempts to fire for their insolence analysts, managers, senior U.N. officials—it doesn't matter. Late last year, Bolton led a one-man, one-country vendetta aimed at preventing the well-respected El Baradei from getting another term as Director of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency. That quixotic campaign was unprecedented in its vindictiveness and won the U.S. no friends.

And this is the president's nominee for ambassador to the United Nations. Remarkable.

Ray McGovern spent 27 years as a CIA analyst and is a founding member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of 50 former intelligence community members formed in January 2003. He now works at Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC.

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Star Wars film mirrors themes of post 9/11 world

William S. Kowinski

In the hubbub surrounding "Revenge of the Sith," the latest and last Star Wars film, George Lucas has made no secret of saying the theme of this film and the prequel trilogy it completes is "how a democratic society turns into a dictatorship, and how a good person turns into a bad person."

A pop culture phenomenon like "Star Wars" has an inevitable relationship to other cultural currents of its time. This is especially true of Lucas' films, since the story within their space opera is political: the rise and fall of an empire.

The first "Star Wars" burst onto screens in 1977 when science fiction films were rare and dour. After Vietnam and Watergate and with the Cold War superpowers still facing off, the future seemed doubtful. The anti-hero ruled the screen.

Lucas came up with a simple, revolutionary concept: injecting heroic mythological themes into a fantasy world -- Joseph Campbell directs Flash Gordon.

"Star Wars" edged the old innocent virtues with contemporary knowingness in recognizable new heroes: Hans Solo, the swaggering mercenary with hidden heart, and Princess Leia, the damsel in distress who runs the war room and shoots the bad guys. Soulless technology became personable in the robots, C- 3PO and R2D2. But the true hero was Luke Skywalker, all impulse and openness.

Lucas captivated audiences on another level with an astonishing premise: The Force, which emanated from all life and was accessible to all, although present more strongly in some. The Force had a good side, accessed by the Jedi knights, like Obi Wan Kenobe, serving the rebel alliance.

It also had the dark side, represented by Darth Vader, serving the Imperial Empire and its powerful hooded emperor. The Force not only added an all-purpose explanation for fantastic accomplishments but also had a mystical and spiritual dimension largely absent from a 1970s American culture dominated by the linear materialism of economics and science.

In the third film of this trilogy, "Return of the Jedi," the empire was overthrown by Luke Skywalker and an underdog alliance with more virtue than technology in a final battle fought partly in space, and partly on a green world that looks very much like Eureka (Humboldt County).

It was a satisfying ending. Released in 1983, its message inspired New Age advocates and environmentalists as well as President Ronald Reagan, who began referring to the Soviet Union as the evil empire and proposed a missile defense system that was quickly dubbed "Star Wars."

But Lucas had a larger, more complex and less comfortable story in mind. Darth Vader, the black-clad, half-machine villain skulking in the darkness, turned out to be the evil father of Luke Skywalker and his twin sister, Leia. Even though Vader turns away from the dark side before he dies, the question of how an evil father becomes good was raised. The new prequel trilogy demonstrates the reverse: how good is the father of evil.

Beginning with "The Phantom Menace" in 1999, Lucas explores the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, who becomes Darth Vader in "Revenge of the Sith." (The Sith are revealed as the dark side equivalent of the Jedi.)

In between chat on the mechanics of filmmaking (the Bantha is really an elephant in costume), Lucas reveals how deliberate his thematic thinking has been. The evil empire figures wear black and white because they represent a black-and-white world view of self-righteous certainties. The rebels are clothed in earth-tones, representing organic complexities. The same situations and motifs recur purposefully. The difference is in the choices characters make.

In "Jedi" we saw Luke reject the temptations of the dark side's power by restraining his anger and hate. The entire prequel trilogy may be seen as a demonstration of how someone makes the opposite choice, and Lucas has clearly tried to make Anakin Skywalker sympathetic as well as strong. [...]

Moreover, Lucas is clear about the paths to the dark side: The hunger for more and more power serving a possessiveness and greed that include surrender to revenge and to the emotional demands of what Buddhists call attachment.

The prequel trilogy says that hot-blooded righteousness in a hero is not enough, for it is too easily perverted. Like all cautionary tales, this is a call to consciousness. Like all tragedies, it tells us that even born heroes have human flaws that mirror their society's faults.

That's a lot for a film series to bear, especially one wrapped up in the animated noise of a tech-crazy age and partly pitched to children. This film, Lucas warns, is darker than any of its predecessors, showing Anakin Skywalker's descent into Hell (almost literally, in the fires of a volcanic planet.) The birth of Luke and Leia could add a different emotional dimension.

How well this theme is expressed remains, like the film itself, to be seen. Will anyone now want to hear the film's message? In America, the audience seems split between angry triumphalism and forlorn, global-cooked dread. It's the rapture red staters versus the apocalyptic blues.

Perhaps the biblical imagery of hellfire will attract the religious right, suspicious of the New Age pantheistic/Buddhist sound of the Force. But even Lucas will probably not be surprised if this essentially moral message is lost or, as in the Reagan '80s, co-opted

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Sharon meets 'Jews for Jesus' follower
The Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, interested in shoring up his standing in the influential US Evangelical Christian community, met eight leading Evangelical figures Tuesday, including Jay Sekulow, a high profile Messianic Jew.

Sekulow, who runs a conservative civil liberties group called the American Center for Law & Justice that was set up by evangelist Pat Robertson, is considered close to US President George W. Bush and was one of three strategists charged by the White House with the task of getting Bush's controversial court nominees through the Senate.

An official in the Prime Minister's Office said Sharon was unaware of Sekulow's Jewish background.

"These are hard-core Republicans very supportive of Israel," the official said. "When they come here, we don't ask what their religion is. The man is willing to do a lot for the state of Israel."

Sekulow is also the host of a daily radio show aired on some 550 stations.

Among the others in the delegation were Paul Crouch, the founder and President of the world's largest Christian television network, the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), Michael Little, the President and Chief Operating Officer of The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

The meeting was very friendly, the officials said, with the delegation coming to "show solidarity for Sharon."

"We want you to know that we stand behind you in efforts to bring peace," an official in Sharon's office quoted Haggard as telling Sharon.

Haggard told Sharon that the official policy of the organization he represents is "to support the state of Israel come hell or high water. We are staunch supporters. We believe that you were chosen by God to lead the people of Israel in this difficult period. We fully support you, because we believe it is God's will."

He said that Bush used those exact words – support for Israel 'come hell or high water' – during a meeting the President had with Evangelical leaders prior to November's elections.

The main purpose of the delegation's visit, according to officials in the Prime Minister's Office, was to help market Israel to the enormous Evangelical community abroad. These officials noted Evangelical tourists continued to visit Israel through the recent violence, just as they did even when scud missiles wee falling during the first Gulf war.

Sharon, according to a spokesman, told the delegation to "keep praying, it seems to help."

Comment: So how does one reconcile standing behind a known war criminal like Sharon in his efforts to bring peace (supposedly with the Palestinians) with supporting said war criminal "come hell or high water" and the belief that the war criminal was appointed by God? Clearly, these all-too-powerful American Christian fundies are desirous of only one thing: the return of "Jesus", which, according to their insane beliefs in a text (the bible) that is of wholly human origin, can only come about after the wars of "Armageddon" that will, we are told, take place in the Middle East when the forces of "the Lord" (Christian fundies) will defeat the forces of "darkness" (Muslims).

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Flashback: Onward, Christian Soldiers

Louise Witt, Salon, January 3, 2003

One can't blame Jerry Falwell for feeling invincible these days. Religious conservatives fasted and prayed that antiabortion candidates would win in November; Falwell believes their prayers were answered when the Republicans won control of the 108th Congress.

Christian conservatives believe they tipped the close Senate elections to the GOP in Georgia, Minnesota and Missouri (though they lost a heated run-off in Louisiana). And Falwell gives much of the credit to fierce campaigning by President Bush, himself a born-again Christian, in the final days before the election. "His work brought out the religious conservative vote, which elected the people we want to have in office," Falwell says. "No one in the world would deny that the religious conservatives certainly played a major role in regaining Republican control of the Senate. It's encouraging to think that if we get people out, we can make a difference every time, just like in the election of Ronald Reagan."

Former President Bill Clinton and other Democrats may blame voters' preoccupation with terrorism and the impending war with Iraq for their party's midterm loss, but the Christian fundamentalists weren't distracted. With messianic zeal, they focused on a plan to control the nation's political agenda by securing the Senate. Many give credit to political strategist Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition who is now chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. Now, as the 108th Congress readies to begin its work, it's clear that the religious right will press the most conservative agenda in recent American history -- and it's clear, too, that Falwell and other conservatives have faith they will achieve their goals.

The agenda is so controversial that it has created deep divisions even in Bush's White House. Though such internal dissent is usually hidden, it flared into the open late last year when John DiIulio, a top policy adviser who departed in frustration, ripped the influence of the religious right on Bush. Thus far, however, the president has done little to discourage the troops of the religious right from their radical mission to make the government and judiciary agents for the moral cleansing of America. In their vision, churches would be given government funds to carry out social services. Prayer would be allowed -- and encouraged -- in public schools. Israel would be backed virtually without question in its conflict with the Palestinians because that would fulfill a prophecy portending the second coming of Christ. Foreign countries would have to pass a moral litmus test to receive U.S. aid.

The American "Christian Right" is firmly entrenched in the White House and the Pentagon. They have succeeded in creating hell on Earth by shaping world events to conform to their distorted and erroneous beliefs about the Bible, bringing about a self-fulfilling prophecy of Armageddon

The conflict in the Middle East, and the "War on Terrorism", have their roots in British religious fanaticism. There would be no modern state of Israel if not for the "British Israel theory", a belief that the British, Americans and several other European nations are the lost 10 Tribes of Israel. British Israel theory is based on so-called "Bible prophecies" concerning Israel in "the last days", after which Jesus Christ is supposed to return to earth in a murderous, vengeful rage in the battle of Armageddon, rewarding his true believers, while punishing "evildoers"

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Israeli hospitals used old and mentally infirm as human guinea pigs
By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
(Filed: 10/05/2005)

Patients in Israeli hospitals, among them the elderly, children and the mentally infirm, have been used as guinea pigs in medical experiments without permission from their legal guardians, according to the country's main government watchdog.

Geriatric patients had their fingers inked to give fingerprints authorising the tests even though they suffered from senile dementia and would not have known what they were doing.

Some children had their eardrums deliberately pierced so that a drug, not approved for medical use anywhere else in the world, could be applied. Such tests needed approval but the hospital did not apply to the ministry.

In another case, a painful procedure using a needle to draw urine from the bladder for testing was performed without the necessary ministry approval.

Unlicensed drugs and invasive procedures were also used on patients, sometimes by researchers who were not even doctors. In one clear conflict of interest the researcher was employed by the commercial company selling the procedure.

And even though any fatality during such clinical tests should be reported to the ministry within 48 hours, it took researchers more than a week to pass on the information in 21 out of 37 deaths. Some took more than a month.

The image of helpless victims being experimented on is especially sensitive in Israel because of the horrors inflicted on Jewish prisoners of Auschwitz by its Nazi camp doctor, Josef Mengele.

The tests carried out in Israeli hospitals, however, bear no comparison with the sadism of the man known as "the Angel of Death".

The disturbing revelations shocked Dan Naveh, the country's health minister, although he has been criticised for a lack of urgency on the issue of medical testing. After eight years' work, a bill to control experimentation is still not finished.

The findings filled more than half of the 106-page annual report on Israel's health ministry drawn up by Eliezer Goldberg, the state comptroller.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the comptroller found the ministry guilty of negligence and carelessness in supervising the hospitals where tests were carried out.

The paper reported that the violations were worst in geriatric, rehabilitation and psychiatric hospitals.

At the Harzfeld Rehabilitation Hospital, a 101-year-old woman and a 91-year-old woman included in a medical trial signed consent forms without a relative or a legal guardian giving written approval.

In other tests at the same hospital, seven patients "signed'' consent forms with only their inked fingerprint.

Israel is committed to following the 1964 Helsinki Declaration on biomedical experimentation, a code of practice drawn up by the World Health Organisation.

Israel's government ombudsman found routine abuses of the Helsinki Declaration's principles at a number of hospitals across the country.

The report also said that in some cases hospitals provided insurance for the practitioners carrying out the tests but not the patients. Existing guidelines say trial patients must be given adequate insurance.

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Patients were guinea pigs and didn't know it
By Ran Reznick
Mon., May 09, 2005

The State Comptroller's Report features a laundry list of grave oversights and continuous negligence on the part of the Health Ministry and public hospital management regarding their supervisory role in the performance of thousands of experiments and research studies in which hospital patients were subjects. Bodily harm and even death were potential outcomes of some of these experiments.

According to the report, the Health Ministry ignores its legal obligation to maintain control and enforce regulations pertaining to this sensitive issue. The ministry does not strictly supervise the documentation of all experiments and ignores some of the information that it receives from these hospitals, including the reporting of many deaths and unusual incidents that occurred in conjunction with illegally authorized experiments.

The Health Ministry's failures in this arena is one of the gravest and most significant reports published by the comptroller's office regarding health-care. The comptroller calls for far-reaching, significant changes on the part of the Health Ministry in response to the outcome of this investigation. Moreover, the report criticizes the ministry's legal department for failing, over the past eight years, to complete vital legislation pertaining to experimentation on human subjects in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for such experiments.

According to the comptroller's report, thousands of individuals participated in hospital research studies and medical experiments that were not authorized in accordance with the law. In some cases, no consent was obtained from the elderly and children who participated in these experiments. In other cases, illegal, partial consent was granted, based on the incomplete knowledge of all aspects of the experiment on the part of the elderly, mental patients, and children.

Committees to control experimentation with human subjects were established in hospitals in accordance with Health Ministry protocol implementing the Helsinki Accord signed in 1964, in response to human experiments conducted by the Germans in World War II. These committees, the comptroller found, authorized many experiments, conducted by physicians, including genetic experiments and research studies involving drugs not yet certified for use in Western nations. According to the law, these experiments must also be authorized by national Helsinki committees acting in conjunction with the Health Ministry. Moreover, some of the experiments, performed on children and mental patients, were potentially harmful to their health.

The comptroller noted that unusual occurrences or deaths in conjunction with experiments must be reported completely and swiftly (immediately to hospital authorities and within 48 hours to the hospital committee that oversees experiments), because there is a vital need to decide quickly whether the untoward outcome is associated with the experiment, and whether the experiment should be ceased or modified. According to the Health Ministry, a hospital director must establish a committee to investigate every death connected with a medical experiment, and the probe's conclusions must be reported to the ministry within a week.

Late reporting

The comptroller's investigation revealed that most deaths are reported to the committee at a very late date. In 2003, for example, 90 percent of the 37 deaths of patients involved in medical experiments were reported to relevant hospital committees after the required date. In some cases, it took a month to eight months to report a death.

The hospital committee of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer was unaware of 25 unusual incidents or deaths that occurred in 88 drug experiments conducted that year, or did not report them to the Health Ministry in accordance with the law. Three deaths and three grave incidents took place which involved patients suffering from congestive heart failure, and two deaths involved patients exposed to experimental chemotherapy. Moreover, the committee authorized the use of an experimental drug for the treatment of breast cancer when physicians failed to report that there were 31 unusual incidents associated with the use of the same drug in other hospitals.

Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv reported the establishment of only one committee to investigate the death of one experimental subject, despite the fact that there were 18 deaths associated with 12 medical experiments between the years 2001-2004.

The Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, owned by the Kupat Holim HMO and including the Hartzfeld Geriatric Rehabilitation Hospital in Gedera, was cited with the most serious incidents of illegal experimentation on dozens of elderly patients. The comptroller called these cases "extremely grave," and the Health Ministry has set up a committee to investigate this affair, as published in Haaretz.

The Kaplan and Hartzfeld Hospitals were involved in several questionable incidents, said the comptroller, led by the April, 2003 authorization of an experiment, including subjects at Kaplan, age 80 and above, to examine the effectiveness of an invasive procedure involving the introduction of a needle into the bladder. The committee granted its permission although the Health Ministry's authorization was also required, and despite a refusal on the part of a director of two departments at Hartzfeld to conduct the experiment on the patients in her units. The department director refused because of the risks of bleeding and infection resulting from introduction of the needle.

The comptroller found that 40 percent of the individuals who signed a consent form to participate in this experiment - five of them with a fingerprint - suffered from cognitive difficulties impairing their ability to provide informed consent. The comptroller noted that Kaplan officials responded to their investigation by insisting that a geriatric physician examined the participants and determined that they were capable of providing informed consent. However, the comptroller found no evidence that this medical examination took place.

The comptroller also found that two women died after participating in this experiment, and that they had suffered from severe infections of the urinary tract. However, the leading investigator at Kaplan did not report either death to the hospital committee or to the Health Ministry, and a legally required investigation committee was not established.

In another experiment conducted at Kaplan and Hartzfeld, 90 elderly patients were given a low dose of iron. Documentation of that experiment disappeared, and a female participant in that experiment also died without the provision of a timely report to the Health Ministry and without the establishment of an investigative committee at the hospital.

According to the comptroller, several patients died in another experiment at Hartzfeld but the physician who led the investigation did not readily report his conclusions to the investigative committee or the Health Ministry. He provided a report only after the ministry demanded that he do so, in response to a request by the commercial company that initiated the experiment.

The comptroller discovered that Helsinki committees in public hospitals engage in almost no regular supervision of experiments that they authorize, despite their legal obligations, and they do not always establish committees to investigate the deaths of experimental subjects. Moreover, the comptroller found that most patients who participate in medical experiments are promised full insurance coverage, outlined and signed in their consent form, but that these claims are misleading because the nation only insures the physician who conducts these experiments. The comptroller also found serious problems with the way that the information in the consent form is provided to patients who must indicate that they have full knowledge and are willing to participate in a medical experiment.

At Wolfson Hospital in Holon, 90 children were the subjects of an experiment in which remaining blood samples from tests were used, and experiments were performed on the placentas of 50 new mothers without the consent required by the Health Ministry.

The Health Ministry demands the consent of subjects in any experiment that includes the publication of medical records identifying them by name. The comptroller's report found that an experiment was conducted at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, and two other hospitals, where 8,800 subjects did not provide signed consent, and hospital administration and the Health Ministry did not authorize the experiment. The comptroller also found that, according to a Health Ministry committee, founded in response to an article by Akiva Eldar in Haaretz, Beilinson Hospital authorized an experiment in 1995 to prevent smoking in 20 patients, but the experiment was expanded to include 4,000 additional subjects without authorization. These subjects did not sign a consent form as required. Moreover, some of the subjects suffered from light to severe physical side effects that were not reported to a physician but to a psychologist.

The comptroller found that many subjects participated in experiments when they were not fit to be subjects, and without knowledge of vital information in the consent form or without the consent of those who were legally responsible for them. Such was the case in the Be'er Yaakov government psychiatric hospital, the Hartzfeld Geriatric Rehabilitation Hospital in Gedera, the Shalvata Psychiatric Hospital in Hod Hasharon, and the Geha Psychiatric Hospital in Petah Tikva.

Ministry responds

The Health Ministry responds that it considers clinical trials to be one of the most sensitive subjects, and therefore, the ministry treats the subject with the utmost concern. Ministry administration decided to tighten supervision and quality control pertaining to medical experimentation over a year ago. The resulting document outlines all types of experimentation and provides detailed protocol and guidelines regarding supervision. The ministry is presently distributing a memo regarding legislation pertaining to experiments on human subjects (the Helsinki committee).

Comment: This story is not the first time that the Israeli's have been found to engage in illegal medical experiments:


100,000 Radiations - A Review

By Barry Chamish

On August 14, at 9 PM, Israeli television station, Channel Ten, broke all convention and exposed the ugliest secret of Israel's Labor Zionist founders; the deliberate mass radiation poisoning of nearly all Sephardi youths.

The expose began with the presentation of a documentary film called, 100,000 Radiations, and concluded with a panel discussion moderated by TV host Dan Margalit, surprising because he is infamous for toeing the establishment line.

Film Details:

100,000 Radiations, released by Dimona Productions Ltd. in 2003.

Producer - Dudi Bergman
Directors - Asher Khamias, David Balrosen

Panel Discussion Participants

A Moroccan singer was joined by David Edri, head of the Compensation Committee for Ringworm X-Ray Victims, and Boaz Lev, a spokesman for the Ministry Of Health.


In 1951, the director general of the Israeli Health Ministry, Dr. Chaim Sheba flew to America and returned with 7 x-ray machines, supplied to him by the American army.

They were to be used in a mass atomic experiment with an entire generation of Sephardi youths to be used as guinea pigs. Every Sephardi child was to be given 35,000 times the maximum dose of x-rays through his head. For doing so, the American government paid the Israeli government 300 million Israeli liras a year. The entire Health budget was 60 million liras. The money paid by the Americans is equivalent to billions of dollars today. To fool the parents of the victims, the children were taken away on "school trips" and their parents were later told the x-rays were a treatment for the scourge of scalpal ringworm. 6,000 of the children died shortly after their doses were given, the many of the rest developed cancers that killed them over time and are still killing them now. While living, the victims suffered from disorders such as epilepsy, amnesia, Alzheimer's disease, chronic headaches and psychosis.

Yes, that is the subject of the documentary in cold terms. It is another matter to see the victims on the screen. ie. To watch the Moroccan lady describe what getting 35,000 times the dose of allowable x-rays in her head feels like.

"I screamed make the headache go away. Make the headache go away. Make the headache go away. But it never went away."

To watch the bearded man walk hunched down the street.

"I'm in my fifties and everyone thinks I'm in my seventies. I have to stoop when I walk so I won't fall over. They took my youth away with those x-rays."

To watch the old lady who administered the doses to thousands of children.

"They brought them in lines. First their heads were shaved and smeared in burning gel. Then a ball was put between their legs and the children were ordered not to drop it, so they wouldn't move. The children weren't protected over the rest of their bodies. There were no lead vests for them. I was told I was doing good by helping to remove ringworm. If I knew what dangers the children were facing, I would never have cooperated. Never!"

Because the whole body was exposed to the rays, the genetic makeup of the children was often altered, affecting the next generation. We watch the woman with the distorted face explain, "All three of my children have the same cancers my family suffered. Are you going to tell me that's a coincidence?"

Everyone notices that Sephardi women in their fifties today, often have sparse patchy hair, which they try to cover with henna. Most of us assumed it was just a characteristic of Sephardi women. We watch the woman on the screen wearing a baseball-style hat. She places a picture of a lovely young teenager with flowing black hair opposite the lens. "That was me before my treatment. Now look at me." She removes her hat. Even the red henna can't cover the horrifying scarred bald spots.

The majority of the victims were Moroccan because they were the most numerous of the Sephardi immigrants. The generation that was poisoned became the country's perpetual poor and criminal class. It didn't make sense. The Moroccans who fled to France became prosperous and highly educated. The common explanation was that France got the rich, thus smart ones. The real explanation is that every French Moroccan child didn't have his brain cells fried with gamma rays.

The film made it perfectly plain that this operation was no accident. The dangers of x-rays had been known for over forty years. We read the official guidelines for x-ray treatment in 1952. The maximum dose to be given a child in Israel was .5 rad. There was no mistake made. The children were deliberately poisoned.

David Deri, makes the point that only Sephardi children received the x-rays.

"I was in class and the men came to take us on a tour. They asked our names. The Ashkenazi children were told to return to their seats. The dark children were put on the bus."

The film presents a historian who first gives a potted history of the eugenics movement. In a later sound bite, he declares that the ringworm operation was a eugenics program aimed at weeding out the perceived weak strains of society. The film now quotes two noted anti-Sephardi racist Jewish leaders, Nahum Goldmann and Levi Eshkol.

Goldmann spent the Holocaust years first in Switzerland, where he made sure few Jewish refugees were given shelter, then flew to New York to become head of the World Jewish Congress headed by Samuel Bronfman. According to Canadian writer Mordecai Richler, Bronfman had cut a deal with Prime Minister Mackenzie King to prevent the immigration of European Jews to Canada.

But Levi Eshkol's role in the Holocaust was far more minister than merely not saving lives. He was busy taking them instead. From a biography of Levi Eshkol from the Israeli government web site:

"In 1937 Levi Eshkol played a central role in the establishment of the Mekorot Water Company and in this role was instrumental in convincing the German government to allow Jews emigrating to Palestine to take with them some of their assets - mostly in the form of German-made equipment."

While world Jewry was boycotting the Nazi regime in the '30s, the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem was propping up Hitler. A deal, called The Transfer Agreement, was cut whereby the Nazis would chase Germany's Jews to Palestine, and the Labor Zionists would force the immigrants to use their assets to buy only German goods. Once the Jewish Agency got the German Jews it wanted, those they secretly indoctrinated in the anti-Judaism of Shabtai Tzvi and Jacob Frank, they let the Nazis take care of the rest of European Jewry. The Holocaust was a eugenics program and Levi Eshkol played a major role in it.

The Moroccan lady is back on the screen. "It was a Holocaust, a Sephardi Holocaust. And what I want to know is why no one stood up to stop it."

David Deri, on film and then as a panel member, relates the frustration he encountered when trying to find his childhood medical records.

"All I wanted to know was what they did to me. I wanted to know who authorized it. I wanted to trace the chain of command. But the Health Ministry told me my records were missing."

Boaz Lev, the Health Ministry's spokesman chimes in, "Almost all the records were burned in a fire."

So let us help Mr. Deri trace the chain of command. But now I must intrude myself in the review. About six years ago, I investigated the kidnapping of some 4500, mostly Yemenite immigrant infants and children, during the early years of the state. I met the leader of the Yemenite children's movement, Rabbi Uzi Meshulum, imprisoned for trying to get the truth out. He was later returned home in a vegetative state from which he has not emerged. He told me that the kidnapped children were sent to America to die cruelly in nuclear experiments. The American government had banned human testing and needed guinea pigs. The Israeli government agreed to supply the humans in exchange for money and nuclear secrets. The initiator of Israel's nuclear program was Defence Ministry director-general Shimon Peres.

Rabbi David Sevilia of Jerusalem corroborated the crime and later, I even saw photos of the radiation scars on the few surviving children, and the cages the infants were shipped to America in.

Just over five years ago I published my belief on the internet, that Israel's Labor Zionist founders had conducted atomic experiments on Yemenite and other Sephardi children, killing thousands of them. Almost three years ago, I published the same assertion in my last book, Save Israel!. I suffered much scorn for doing so. However, I was right.

We return to the documentary. We are told that a US law in the late '40s put a stop to the human radiation experiments conducted on prisoners, the mentally feeble and the like. The American atomic program needed a new source of human lab rats and the Israeli government supplied it.

Here was the government cabinet at the time of the ringworm atrocities:

Prime Minister - David Ben Gurion
Finance Minister - Eliezer Kaplan Settlement Minister - Levi Eshkol
Foreign Minister - Moshe Sharrett
Health Minister - Yosef Burg
Labor Minister - Golda Meir
Police Minister - Amos Ben Gurion

The highest ranking non-cabinet post belonged to the Director General Of The Defence Ministry, Shimon Peres.

That a program involving the equivalent of billions of dollars of American government funds should be unknown to the Prime Minister of cash-strapped Israel is ridiculous. Ben Gurion was in on the horrors and undoubtedly chose his son to be Police Minister in case anyone interfered with them.

Now, let's have a quick glance at the other plotters, starting with the Finance Minister Eliezer Kaplan. He handled the profits of the operation and was rewarded for eternity with a hospital named after him near Rehovot.

But he's not alone in this honor. The racist bigot Chaim Sheba, who ran Ringworm Incorporated, had a whole medical complex named after him. Needless to say, if there is an ounce of decency in the local medical profession, those hospital names will have to change.

Then there is Yosef Burg, who the leaders of the Yemenite Children's movement insist was the most responsible for the kidnappings of their infants. As Health Minister, he certainly played a pivotal role in the Ringworm murders. That would go a great way to explaining the peculiar behavior of his son, the peacemaker, Avraham Burg.

Let us not forget Moshe Sharrett, who had Rabbi Yoel Brand arrested in Aleppo in 1944 for proposing a practical way to save 800,000 Jews trapped in Hungary. Sharrett's most cited quote is, "If Shimon Peres ever enters this government, I will tear my clothes and start to mourn." Several Yemenite Children activists told me Sharrett was referring to the kidnapping of the Yemenite children when he made this statement.

And other amateur historians have told me that Levi Eshkol openly and proudly announced his belief in the tenets of Shabtai Tzvi, but try as I have, I haven't tracked down a citation. However, we do know of Eshkol, that during the period of the radiations, he served first as Settlement Minister, then took over from Kaplan as Finance Minister. From his bio:

"In 1951 Eshkol was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Development, and from 1952 to 1963 - a decade characterized by unprecedented economic growth despite the burden of financing immigrant absorption and the 1956 Sinai Campaign - he served as Minister of Finance. Between 1949 and 1963, Eshkol also served as head of the settlement division of the Jewish Agency. In the first four years of statehood, he was also treasurer of the Jewish Agency, largely responsible for obtaining the funds for the country's development, absorption of the massive waves of immigrants and equipment for the army."

In short, Eshkol was the person most responsible for Israel's immigrants, the ones he sent to radiation torture chambers.

Finally, there is Golda Meir. We don't know her role, but she was in on the secret and rewarded for it. Note that every prime minister thereafter until 1977, when the honorable Menachem Begin was elected, came from this cabal. And note also, that no one from what is called the Right today, was privy to the slaughter of the Sephardi children.

Apply that lesson to a contemporary fact: It is the descendants of these butchers who brought us the Oslo "peace" and are determined to wipe out the settlers of Judea, Samaria and Gaza as surely as they had dealt with the inferior dark Jews who came into their clutches fifty years before.

Now try and imagine it is 1952 and you are in a cabinet meeting. You will be debating whether to send the Yemenite babies to America for their final zapping, or whether to have them zapped here. That is what the Luciferian, satanic Sabbataian founders of our nation were prattling on about when they got together to discuss the affairs of state.

After the film ended, TV host Dan Margalit tried to put a better face on what he'd witnessed. Any face had to be better than what he had seen. He explained meekly, "But the state was poor. It was a matter of day to day survival." Then he stopped. He knew there was no excusing the atrocities the Sephardi children endured.

But it was the Moroccan singer who summed up the experience best. "It's going to hurt, but the truth has to be told. If not, the wounds will never heal."

There is one person alive who knows the truth and participated in the atrocities. He is Leader Of The Opposition Shimon Peres, the peacemaker. The only way to get to the truth and start the healing is to investigate him for his role in the kidnapping of 4500 Yemenite infants and the mass poisoning of over 100,000 Sephardi children and youths.

But here is why that won't happen. It is a miracle that 100,000 Radiations was broadcast at all. Clearly though, someone fought for it but had to agree to a compromise. The show was aired at the same time as the highest-rated show of the year, the final of Israel's, A Star Is Born. The next day, there was not a word about 100,000 Radiations in any paper, but the newly-born star's photo took up half the front pages. That's how the truth is buried in Israel, and somehow, these tricks work. The same methods were used to cover up the Rabin assassination.

However, a few hundred thousand people saw the film on their screens and they will never forget the truth. If the Rabin assassination doesn't bury Labor Zionism for good, then 100,000 Radiations eventually will.


A decent background piece on the subject of the Ringworm Holocaust is found at:

I cover the subject and explain the motivations for the evil on my new audio CD and video called The Dirty Secrets Of Oslo.

I'm getting my first reactions and they are strong. Here are two:

"I've listened to your CDs twice so far, and will do so again. You speak truth. I know that."

"Hi Barry,
I have listened to your CD twice now. You need to somehow get this word out. I don't know how. After listening to this, I have more admiration and respect for you than ever. You have managed to put things together in the right perspective. You have broken into something that answers many questions that I have always had. We have to get this word out somehow. If you can think of anything that I can do to help you, please do let me know."

To see or hear my 90 minute lecture last May in Denver on the real "peace" process, just write me at $20 will get you one, $32, both.

And as usual, you can order my English books, Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin, Israel Betrayed, The Last Days Of Israel and Save Israel! by writing me at the same address.

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I heard the director of the film interviewed on Israel Channel One TV on Feb. 16, while not catching his name. However, the interviewer's name is David Witztom and he said, "You are making claims for a horrible conspiracy," and indeed he was.The American government paid the equivalent of $50 billion in today's terms for the experiments and the cost could not have exceeded a few million dollars at most. The rest of the $50 billion is unaccounted for. Needless to ask, was the American government so concerned about ringworm in Israeli immigrant children that it paid $50 billion to treat the fungus?

The authorities are using the excuse that in 1948, x-rays were a common treatment for head ringworm and that 35,000 times the exposure was standard practise. This is nonsense. The standard treatment was ultra-violet light on the hair and the danger of x-rays was very well understood after nearly 60 years of use. The film director noted that the x-ray technicians knew the kind of blast the children were receiving and would not stay in the same room when the dose was administered.

The children were often taken out of classrooms and told they were going on a sightseeing trip. They were taken to the x-ray rooms without parental consent and given the blast of radiation at the top of their heads. Most were sickened, many died. Over 100,000 children represents literally the entire generation of Israeli Sephardi children exposed to fatal levels of radiation. Ringworm was merely the excuse, and a poor one, for a massive death ray program.

Why were the Sephardi children so victimized? For the same reason the Sabbataian Labor Zionists let the Jews of Poland perish in the Holocaust. Because they were righteous and religious. For Sabbatainism to triumph, all Jews had to be cleansed from the world but those who could be trained and indoctrinated in the anti-Judaistic evil of Shabtai Tzvi. To those believing in Shabtai Tzvi, burning the Jews of Europe and radiating those of the East was a fulfillment of their master's grand vision.

Bringing terror to Israel in the name of peace is their latest step in the annihilation of the Jews. If they have their way, all of Israel will be radiated and eradicated in the name of the devil Shabtai Tzvi and his living disciples, dwelling in the "peace" camp.

Comment from a Reader: Chamish fails to mention that it was not only Sephardim children who were exposed to this radiation in the 50's. Unsurprisingly, Palestinian children were also exposed, but Chamish does not mention this. This came to my attention 3 or 4 years ago when it became clear that there were many in the village I was living in in Galilee who were applying for compensation because of this...

Comment: To understand why Sephardic Jews are targeted for destruction now, as they were during WWII by the Zionist/Khazar Jews, read the Mongols Series...

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The Collapse of Academic Freedom in Israel

Tantura, Teddy Katz and Haifa University
May 11, 2005

On April 22, the Association of University Teachers in the United Kingdom voted to boycott the University of Haifa in Israel. Supporters of the boycott referred to the university's treatment of one of its staff, Dr. Ilan Pappe, in the controversy over an MA thesis which had been written by Teddy Katz about events in 1948 in the Palestinian coastal village of Tantura, a few miles south of Haifa.

The boycott decision has led to a media storm in both Israel and the United Kingdom. The debate is ongoing -- opponents of the boycott have collected the twenty-five signatures needed to call a special emergency conference to discuss the boycott again; this meeting will be held on May 26.

I should declare, up front, that I have been tangentially involved in the Katz affair: I attended the court proceedings as a member of the public and I have recently finished translating Katz's thesis into English. However, my interest in the events at Tantura in 1948 goes back much further.

In the summer of 1954, six years after the Israelis conquered the village of Tantura, I spent the summer in Kibbutz Nachsholim, which had been established on the ruins of the village less than one year after its conquest. I was then a counselor in the Youth Movement, Hanoar Ha'oved. In accordance with the custom of those days, by which older teenage members of the movement used to spend the summer months working voluntarily in a kibbutz, my group of grade 11 students had been sent to Nachsholim.

We were warmly welcomed and accommodated in the old Arab houses that dotted the shoreline of what used to be Tantura. Some of the kibbutz members, particularly bachelor males not much older than my youth movement kids, used to spend most of their evenings mingling with us. During one of these get-togethers, a girl from my group turned to one of the kibbutz members and asked about the houses in which we were living. "What are these houses?", she asked. "Who used to live here and where are these people now?"

A short silence ensued and then one of the older kibbutz members changed the subject by saying: "Lets not talk about this. It is just too complicated". A warning light was switched on at the back of my head: "Something bad has happened here". However, I didn't do anything to inquire further. I went on with my life and actually forgot the whole incident -- but the realization that something untoward had happened there lingered on.

More than forty years later, when the Teddy Katz affair began to unfold, I was immediately reminded of the incident in Nachsholim/Tantura in the summer of 1954.

Teddy Katz, a member of Kibbutz Magal and a native of the city of Haifa, initially planned to do his Master's thesis on the events in Haifa during the 1948 war. His supervisor, Kais Firro (and not Ilan Pappe as many seem to believe), discouraged him from choosing this topic, because of the relative abundance of such material. Instead, he suggested that Teddy should focus on some of the villages south of Haifa and their fate during the 1948 war.

As a result, in 1998, Katz submitted to the University of Haifa an MA thesis that focused on the fate of several Palestinian villages, in particular, Ein Razal, Um el Zeinat and Tantura. The thesis was approved and given a rating of 97%, the highest rating for a thesis that I have ever heard of. In 1999, Teddy Katz was awarded an MA (research) degree from Haifa University.

In collecting data for his thesis, Katz relied heavily on the use of oral testimony as one of his basic methodological approaches. He interviewed over one hundred Israeli and Palestinian individuals who were in these villages or were connected to these villages during the 1948 war.

From the evidence he collected, Katz concluded that, during the conquest of Tantura by the Israeli Jewish forces in late May 1948, a large number of individuals had been murdered, possibly up to 225. Katz estimated that about 20 had been killed during the battle for Tantura and that the rest, both civilians and captured fighters, were killed after the village had surrendered, at a time when they were not armed in any way. (Since many believe that Katz concluded in his thesis that a massacre took place in Tantura, it is important to note that, in fact, the word "massacre" did not appear in the thesis.)

In late January 2000, Teddy Katz was interviewed by Amir Gilat, a journalist from a mass-circulation Israeli newspaper, Ma'ariv, which subsequently published a long article summarizing the findings in Katz's thesis. The claim that a massacre took place in Tantura appears for the first time in the Ma'ariv article.

A short while after the publication of the article in Ma'ariv, a group of veterans from the "Alexandroni" Brigade, the army unit that had attacked and captured Tantura, sued Katz for libel. The veterans were represented by Giora Erdinast, an attorney who is the son-in-law of one of the veterans and who is reputed to have acted on the veterans' behalf in a pro bono capacity. Teddy Katz was represented by Avigdor Feldman, a well-known human rights lawyer in Israel.

The court proceedings began in December 2000. The allegations against Katz centered on the claim that the thesis contained misquotations and that there were discrepancies between some of the oral testimony recordings and what was described in the thesis. Between six and nine such discrepancies were discovered. For example, in one of these instances Katz quoted an Alexandroni veteran as having used the word "Nazis" whereas, in fact, he had used the word "Germans". In another instance, Katz reported that a Palestinian witness "saw" an incident whereas, in fact, he had said that he "heard" the incident. (In fairness to Katz, it should be noted that some of the tapes were barely audible and, in some cases, the speakers used barely decipherable dialect terms from the regional variant of Palestinian Arabic. Considering this, most "discrepancies" seem, in fact, more like reasonable interpretations.)

It is important to note that, about two months prior to the onset of the court proceedings, Katz, who was under severe financial pressure emanating from the expenses of the case, had received a donation of $8000 from Palestinian sources. This amount was given to Katz by Faisal Husseini who was then the Palestinian Authority representative in Jerusalem. Katz needed, at that point, to immediately deposit NIS30,000 before the case could proceed and the need for additional funds had become particularly acute when a fundraiser evening in the progressive Tzavta Club in Tel Aviv failed to raise the amount required.

The fact that Katz received funds from the Palestinians became known only late in 2002, following the seizure of documents during the now infamous police raid and "conquest" of Orient House, the Palestinian Headquarters in East Jerusalem. (The raid was directed by Uzi Landau, the militant, right-wing Likud member who was, then, the Minister of Internal Security.) Ironically, this revelation came to light approximately one month prior to the submission of Katz's revised thesis, a revision which, as we shall see, was caused by Haifa University's decision to suspend his degree after the court case.

Now back to the case.

Katz himself was the first and only witness to testify in the trial. At the end of the second day of proceedings, something rather shocking happened: Katz agreed to an out-of-court settlement, signing an "apology" in which he admitted that what had happened in Tantura was not a "massacre" -- this word was used in the apology and denying it seems to have been the entire point. The irony is that the real issue, whether civilians and unarmed ex-fighters were killed after the surrender, did not play a role. All that the veterans seem to have wanted was an apology for usage of the word "massacre", a word which, it should be repeated, never appeared in Katz's thesis.

The document was signed late at night (around 11:45 PM), at a meeting which involved one of Katz's non-litigating lawyers, Amatzia Atlas, who also happens to be Katz's cousin. Katz's chief attorney, Avigdor Feldman, was not there and was not aware of this development.

According to Katz, he already had second thoughts about what he had done as he traveled away from the meeting in a taxi. These misgivings were conveyed to Atlas right there and then. Apparently, Atlas convinced Katz to "sleep on it" and see how he felt in the morning. Also, according to Katz, a Haifa University lawyer who was present during the signing of the agreement told Katz's wife (who was also present): "Tell him to sign and just continue his studies for his doctorate".

It is important to note that, according to Katz, in the period of approximately twelve hours from the signing of the agreement to the resumption of the court session, he spoke to only two other people -- one close personal friend and Adam Keller, the spokesperson of Gush Shalom.

At the beginning of the court session next morning, the presiding judge, Drora Pilpel, announced that the case was closed, to the stunned silence of many of those present in the courtroom, who were not aware of the happenings of the night before. She explained that an out-of-court settlement had been signed and that it had been examined and approved by the court.

At that point, attorney Feldman rose and told the judge that Katz would like to make a statement. Permission was given and Katz explained to the court that he had signed the settlement in a moment of weakness which he now deeply regretted. Furthermore, he felt that he wouldn't be able to live with this decision since it did not represent what he really felt about his work. He pleaded with the court to give him permission to retract his "apology" and continue to defend himself against the libel suit.

The attorney acting for the Alexandroni veterans asked the court to reject Katz's request and, after several hours of deliberation, Judge Pilpel announced her decision not to allow Katz to back out of the settlement. She made it crystal clear that her decision related only to her conviction that a contract between parties must be respected. She emphasized that her decision did not relate in any way to the content, accuracy or veracity of the libel suit. Katz appealed to the Supreme Court who, in turn, upheld the decision of the judge of the lower court for exactly the same reasons.

As part of the signed settlement, Katz was obliged to publish an "apology" in the press. Katz now refused to do so, since it would not represent his true feelings about the case. The attorney acting for the veterans then published the "apology" himself and proceeded to seize Katz's car as repayment for the publication cost. To avoid seizure of his car, Katz paid.

A lot has been written about the reasons that caused Katz to "collapse" and sign an "apology" which he obviously did not believe in. In this context, one must note that the pressure of the libel case was seriously deleterious to Katz's health. He suffered a mild stroke and was altogether in poor mental and emotional health. Several members of his family, including his wife, his children and his cousin, the lawyer Amatzia Atlas, pressured him to settle, since they were actually worried for his life. Following the termination of the court case, I had the opportunity to discuss this issue with Katz's wife and son. They both confirmed the fact that at that point all they had wanted was to reduce the pressure and protect Teddy's health.

Following the court case, Haifa University appointed a committee of four to "re-inspect" Katz's thesis. The deliberations which led to this appointment are not clear. The university has never explained by what procedural rules it was able to re-open consideration of the status of a thesis that had already been approved and awarded a rating of 97%.

The committee reported that it found some major errors. For example, it stated that the thesis "failed at the stage of presenting the raw material for the reader's judgment, both in terms of its organization according to strict criteria of classification and criticism, and in terms of the apparent instances of disregard for the interviewees' testimony." There was a sharp debate, among the members of the committee, as to whether "Katz's distortions" were politically motivated and deliberate.

It is worth repeating that, as far as I am aware, the university never explained the legal and procedural justification for this development in accordance with a pre-existing rule-book. This is particularly relevant since it is clear that Katz's thesis was not "re-inspected" as a result of an internal academic complaint, or on the basis of academically-based information presented formally to the faculty by a qualified and authorized academic body, or as a result of a complaint from any person who launched such a complaint as a result of an academic scrutiny of the thesis. Instead, it appears that evaluation of the thesis was re-opened on the basis of some allegation that arose from an aborted legal case and that the action did not follow established and formal rules of academic procedure.

Because of this committee's report, Katz's degree was "suspended" (requests were actually made to libraries to remove the thesis from their shelves) and he was offered a chance to revise and resubmit his thesis. Katz accepted the "offer" and significantly revised his thesis both by significantly increasing the number of people interviewed as well as by imposing major changes in the style and structure of the thesis. In order to avoid the possibility of claims of discrepancies between oral testimony and its representation in the thesis, Katz included a large number of verbatim testimonies in the thesis. Naturally, that caused a major expansion of the thesis. (The resultant total length in Hebrew was just under 600 pages and over 800 pages in the English translation). It also made for a somewhat cumbersome and tedious document. Ironically, this very attempt to avoid criticism resulted in new criticisms about the quality of the text and the writing.

Late in 2002, Katz submitted his revised thesis to Haifa University.

In an unprecedented move, Haifa University appointed an anonymous examining committee of five. Despite the supposed anonymity of the committee, the identity of some or all members of the committee soon began to circulate in cyber-space -- the source of the leak(s) is not known. The fact that the names of the committee members were freely circulating made it clear that the presumed "secrecy" of the deliberations was destroyed. At the same time, it became clear that some members of the committee were not in a position to claim objectivity and lack of bias.

The assessment of Katz's revised thesis by the five members of the committee was highly divergent. Two members actually accorded it a very acceptable grade of 85% and 83%. Two others failed it decisively (awarding 40% or so). The fifth committee member gave it a grade of 74%. Haifa University now took another most unusual step -- it averaged the marks awarded by the committee members. This dubious statistical procedure resulted in a mark in the mid-70s percentage range, a mark that was just 1% point below the acceptable level for an MA thesis at Haifa University.

On the basis of the results of this highly unusual and dubious process, Haifa University rejected Katz's thesis and denied him the Research MA degree that should have been conferred on him had the thesis been deemed acceptable. Since Katz had completed all the course and assignment requirements, however, Haifa University had no choice but to award him (reluctantly, I suspect) a "non-research" MA degree.

Finally, it is of some interest that, among several others, two senior writers on the period of the 1948 war have subsequently concluded that Katz's claim about the events in Tantura is not without merit. Tom Segev concluded his article on the issue by saying that, while Katz may not have been without fault as a historian, the events he reported probably happened. Benny Morris decided that a significant number of Tantura villagers had been killed after the surrender of the place and concluded that they were unarmed or disarmed when killed.

The judgment by Morris is particularly interesting, since he has a methodological objection to the admissibility of oral historical evidence. (When, earlier, he had been asked to come to Katz's assistance, he refused because Katz had relied on oral testimony.) In an interview in the Jerusalem Report, Morris contended that, while he is not sure whether what happened in Tantura was actually a massacre, he was now convinced that atrocities, rapes and killings were committed by the troops in Tantura.

To my knowledge, despite the fact that several faculty members at Haifa University expressed to me their dismay about the treatment Katz received from their university, the only one to defend Katz publicly was Ilan Pappe.

Zalman Amit grew up in Israel, migrated to Canada and now divides his time between the two countries. A professor emeritus at the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology in Concordia University, Montreal, he asked to be added to the Campus Watch blacklist of academics.

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Tensions between U.S. and Muslims reaching new highs, say analysts
07:03 AM EDT May 12

WASHINGTON (CP) - Far from abating since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, tensions between the United States and Muslims appear to be reaching a fever pitch. A new report Wednesday documented a sharp increase last year in hate crimes and civil rights violations against Muslims living in the country.

Comment: What a curious way to start off this article. Why is it surprising that tensions between the US and Muslims have increased since 9/11? After all, the US is only helping them to become free, right? Those Muslims are so ungrateful for the sacrifices being made by the US troops occupying their country and killing their people.

And allegations that American soldiers desecrated Islam's holy book by flushing a Qur'an down a toilet at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, provoked deadly protests in Afghanistan.

There are also new allegations of sexual abuse and degrading treatment of Guantanamo prisoners this week, fuelling perceptions provoked by last year's scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison that there's broad support in the U.S. military for torturing detainees in the war on terror.

Author and academic Muqtedar Khan, on staff at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Clinton, Mich., says favourability ratings toward Muslims among Americans were not significantly negative for some time after the Sept. 11 attacks but started going down in 2003.

He blames increasingly tense relations on anti-Islamic rhetoric from right-wing religious groups in the U.S. and a small segment of Muslims bent on reinforcing violent stereotypes.

"Sometimes I'm really frightened when I see all this hate speech out there. The Internet is full of it," said Khan.

"Somebody has to stand up and challenge the extremist rhetoric in every community. And Republicans should be telling the Christian right to stop demonizing Islam."

Comment: Dream on.

The backdrop for Americans is widespread fear of another big hit. There was a false alarm Wednesday when military jets scrambled to intercept a plane that mistakenly veered into restricted airspace near the White House.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wednesday that hate crimes against Muslims rose 52 per cent to 141 last year and civil rights violations jumped 49 per cent to 1,522.

The council also blames anti-Muslim Internet traffic and radio broadcasts for fuelling an atmosphere of hate that's leading to more complaints of unreasonable arrests, verbal harassment, employment discrimination and religious discrimination like community opposition to mosques.

"Whenever there is a beheading or an act of terrorism overseas that involves Muslims, we see a rise in reported incidents here," said spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.

Comment: Given there are many questions concerning the true identity of these "Islamic terrorists" and the role of Mossad in Iraq, we can ask whether or not the beheadings are not intended to stir up resentment against Muslims.

On the other side, said Khan, the continuing flow of prisoner abuse reports is providing fodder for anti-Americanism among Muslim extremists.

"They seem to delight in it. Now they have a stick to beat the U.S. It cuts to the core of what Americans claim their values are, including the protection of human rights," he said.

"It allows Muslims to say they are hypocrites. For some people, it's a confirmation of the dark side of America."

Comment: Should we be surprised? Aren't these acts doing exactly that, showing the true face behand the mask of American democracy?

Newsweek reported this week that internal FBI e-mails allege Guantanamo interrogators flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash.

And an army spokesman confirmed 10 interrogators have already been disciplined for mistreating prisoners, including one woman who took off her top and sat on a detainee's lap.

This week, U.S. soldier Erik Saar is publishing a first-hand account on events inside the base.

Saar, an Arabic speaker who translated during interrogation sessions, told the BBC recently that bizarre sexual abuses at the prison camp have set dangerous precedents and are doing massive damage to America's image in the Muslim world.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded Wednesday that the U.S. government launch a public investigation of the Qur'an allegation.

At least four people were killed in Jalalbad, Afghanistan, on Wednesday after police opened fire on hundreds protesting the reported desecration.

An internal military investigation led by air force Lt.-Gen. Randall Schmidt is expected to report soon on Guantanamo abuses, but many don't have high hopes for impartiality in the report.

It doesn't help that no top officials were faulted for the horrific treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, said Jameel Jaffer, staff lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York.

"There's a large amount of disgust out there. Why it hasn't translated yet into holding senior officials accountable, I don't know."

Comment: He doesn't know? Why? Is that really so hard to answer?

Former U.S. brigadier-general Janis Karpinski was demoted last week in the Abu Ghraib scandal, the highest-ranking officer to be punished.

Yet the army said in a statement that "no action or lack of action on her part contributed specifically to the abuse of detainees" and her demotion was blamed in part on an old shoplifting charge that she failed to report.

"I guess the message is 'No' to shoplifting and 'Yes' to war crimes," said Jaffer.

Dalia Hashad, a lawyer and an advocate at the ACLU, said the prison abuses and general detentions of Muslims have altered what was once an immediate kneejerk backlash against in the U.S. after Sept. 11.

"Now we have to consider that the U.S. government is creating a sub-class of citizens. This has become a way of operating for the government," she said.

"This is a routine system of law enforcement, not a panicked emergency. It's a path and a system (where) profiling has become entrenched and there's an automatic assumption of criminality."

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Four dead after anti-American riots erupt in Afghanistan
Randeep Ramesh, south asia correspondent
Thursday May 12, 2005
The Guardian

At least four people were killed and dozens injured in a riot in eastern Afghanistan yesterday after police fired on demonstrators protesting about reports that the Qur'an had been desecrated by US soldiers in Guantanamo Bay.

Offices in Jalalabad were set on fire, shops sacked and consulates and UN buildings attacked by rioters, according to witnesses. Police fired to disperse crowds several times and army helicopters were said to have "buzzed" the crowds. Doctors in the city confirmed that four people had died.

This was the second day of protests in the city sparked by claims in Newsweek magazine that interrogators in Cuba, where hundreds of prisoners captured in Afghanistan are held, kept copies of the Qur'an in toilets, and "in at least one case flushed a holy book down the toilet". The US state department said it was investigating the claims.

About 2,000 students, chanting "death to America", protested in the city on Tuesday, demanding an apology from the US. Thousands more turned out yesterday, with schoolchildren and residents said to have taken part.

The trouble began when a coalition convoy was pelted with stones. "Police opened fire in the air to control the mob, and some people were injured," Jalalabad's police chief, Abdul Rehman, told Reuters.

The violence soon became out of control as cars were smashed and set ablaze. The demonstrators also attacked the Indian mission, and the BBC reported that the Pakistani consul's house had been burned down. There were reports that the protests had spread to the city of Khost, with hundreds of students taking to the streets.

The protesters also denounced Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, destroying a picture of him and shouting "death to America's allies" and "death to Karzai", as well as "death to Bush". "We don't want America, we don't want Karzai, we want Islam," they shouted.

Jalalabad is 80 miles east of the Afghan capital, Kabul, and lies on the road to the Khyber Pass, on the Pakistani border.

Comment: Call us skeptical, but it seems a little odd that Afghanis have saved their rioting for the first reports of Americans flushing the Koran down the toilet. Logically, one would think that the fact that the transformation of Afghanistan into a US protectorate with a US proxy government and President installed would be more likely to cause civil protests. Then again, who says that there have NOT been many protests about the presence of US troops in Afghanistan that have somehow escaped the attention of the international press. Obviously, it is much in keeping with the the Bush administration's portrayal of Muslims as "crazed fundamentalists" to only report those protests where they are heard to shout "we want Islam!".

Another report tells us that the riots are continuing with at least three more killed today.

The Pakistani daily, "Dawn" elaborates:

“Uncountable people attacked the consulate, we took refuge in the neighbour’s house,” a Pakistani diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

In a second day of protests, the crowd went on the rampage chanting slogans including “Death to America” as well as burning the Stars and Stripes and effigies of US President George Bush, witnesses said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the riots showed the “inability” of the war-shattered country’s institutions to deal with such situations, but added the demonstrations at least meant democracy was flourishing.

The unrest in Jalalabad began as a peaceful protest by medical university students but numbers swelled to between 5,000 and 10,000 and the demonstration descended into violence, witnesses and a local police source said.

Yes indeed, in the warped mind of US puppet President Karzai, "Democracy" is all about the people burning down buildings and getting shot dead for their efforts rather than having a sovereign and representative government.

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American Blasphemy Against Koran Sparks Riot, Protests in Afghanistan, Pakistan
Juan Cole
Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Guardian reports that news (from Newsweek) that US soldiers desecrated the Koran--and at one point flushed pages of it down the toilet as a technique for humiliating and breaking detainees at Guantanamo--has provoked a second day of protests and then rioting in Jalalabad, this time with loss of life. On Tuesday, 2000 students had demonstrated. On Wednesday, 5,000 to 10,000 university, medical and K-12 students came out, and then they went on the attack, including against US troops. Four died and 70 were injured

"At least four people were killed and dozens injured in a riot in eastern Afghanistan yesterday after police fired on demonstrators protesting about reports that the Qur'an had been desecrated by US soldiers in Guantanamo Bay. Offices in Jalalabad were set on fire, shops sacked and consulates and UN buildings attacked by rioters, according to witnesses. Police fired to disperse crowds several times and army helicopters were said to have "buzzed" the crowds. Doctors in the city confirmed that four people had died."

Pakistan's Dawn is more explicit about the "offices" attacked:

Police in Jalalabad opened fire earlier on Wednesday to break up an enraged mob of several thousand people that torched the governor’s house, the Pakistani consulate and several foreign aid agencies, witnesses said. Workers in the Pakistani consulate were forced to take refuge in a nearby house as protesters torched the building. “Uncountable people attacked the consulate, we took refuge in the neighbour’s house,” a Pakistani diplomat said on condition of anonymity. In a second day of protests, the crowd went on the rampage chanting slogans including “Death to America” as well as burning the Stars and Stripes and effigies of US President George Bush, witnesses said. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the riots showed the “inability” of the war-shattered country’s institutions to deal with such situations, but added the demonstrations at least meant democracy was flourishing.

Uh, Hamid, this incident does not show a flourishing democracy. In democracies people achieve change through the ballot box and political discourse, not by burning buildings down.

Jalalabad is an eastern Pushtun city in the main, and the attack on Pakistan's consulate presumably means that the Taliban and their cousins now view Pakistan as a proxy for the United States.

The Koran desecration has also stirred Pakistani politicians to protest. Opposition politician and former world-class cricketer Imran Khan called for an end to Pakistan's military cooperation with Washington unless President Bush apologizes for what was done to the Muslim holy book. The lower house of parliament suspended business on Monday to discuss the issue. ' "We are fighting for them as a frontline state in the war on terrorism and they are desecrating our holy book. This is too humiliating,” said the leader of the opposition, Maulana Fazlur Rehman. '' Fazlur Rahman is actually pro-Taliban and pro-al-Qaeda, and he is seizing on this incident to argue that Gen. Pervez Musharraf is a US lackey and isn't not even getting basic respect in return.

Pious Sunni Muslims consider the Koran to be the very word of God, which pre-existed the material world and was inscribed on a celestial "Tablet." The Koran itself says,

"That is indeed a noble Qur'an
In a Book kept hidden
Which none toucheth save the purified,
A Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds."
-Surat Al-Waq`ia

Muslims are not to touch a copy of the Koran when they have not performed their purifying ritual ablutions (washing in a special way with water), called wudu`.

In secular American society, I suppose the shock value here could only be hinted at if we imagined someone flushing a small American flag down the toilet. But probably we can't imagine it at all.

The technique of humiliating Muslims as a way of "breaking" them for interrogation has often veered toward torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and it wasn't effective as a technique. The Israeli flag was also used at one point, apparently. The US military has a tradition of such humiliations, going back to treatment of the Filipino Muslim rebels in the early 20th century. But there is a difference between humiliating Muslim prisoners and humiliating Islam.

Whatever goddam military genius came up with the bright idea of flushing the Koran down the toilet at Guantanamo should be court-martialed, and Bush had better get out there apologizing before this thing spirals further out of control.

Comment: Bush better get out there and apologise??? What are the chances of that? Cole still doesn't understand that there is a very high probability that the neocon strategy is precisely to inflame passions, provoke civil war in Iraq and a larger conflagration in the Middle East.

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House panel votes to ban women from some combat support jobs
By Rick Maze
Army Times staff writer
May 11, 2005

A House subcommittee voted Wednesday to keep women out of combat support jobs that could lead to direct-combat involvement, which is banned, but there is a sharp division about the ramifications of the vote.

The amendment - to be attached to the 2006 defense authorization bill - was adopted by the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee by a 9-7, party-line vote.

Republicans who supported the amendment said they were just providing guidance for assigning women as the Army restructures units.

Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., the personnel subcommittee chairman, said the provision is aimed at new combat support companies within the modular force structure. He offered it, he said, on behalf of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the House Armed Services Committee chairman

In Iraq today, women assigned to combat support companies in the 3rd Infantry Division are not allowed to accompany their units when they deploy to the front lines - the Army's way of adhering to the ban on women in direct combat roles.

The amendment doesn't close any military occupational specialty to women that isn't already closed, McHugh said, and it doesn't change any Army directive or policy.

Of the 17,000 military women serving in Iraq today, just 31 are in assignments that would be prohibited if the proposal became law, he said. As written, the prohibition would apply only to assignments made after the provision were enacted, which is unlikely before late summer.

Committee aides working for McHugh and Hunter said affected women could be in the maintenance, supply or food service specialties who are assigned to combat support companies. But Democrats who opposed the amendment said they aren't certain it is as narrow as McHugh claims.

Rep. Vic Snyder of Arkansas, the subcommittee's ranking Democrat, said he believes the medical, combat engineer and military police fields also could fit the description, potentially affecting thousands of women in combat support and combat service support units. [...]

"We have had no hearings on this issue," Snyder said. "No reports have been brought to our attention citing evidence that having women in these roles is currently causing a problem for our military.

"If the chairman has different information that this committee has not had the opportunity to review, he is urged to share it. Otherwise, there seems to be very little evidence to suggest we move so suddenly on such a contentious provision."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., said lawmakers also should keep in mind that debate about the bill is affecting troops in combat. "It is sending a bad message to women in Iraq and to the men who serve with them," she said.

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Bush not told about plane scare until after biking
Thursday May 12, 3:15 PM

WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush was not told for nearly an hour while he finished a bike ride about a breach in White House airspace on Wednesday that prompted the highest alert since the September 11, 2001, attacks, the White House said.

The White House said the Secret Service held off informing the president because he was not in danger and White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush was satisfied with how the situation was handled.

Bush was about a half-an-hour into his ride at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland when an unidentified Cessna airplane came near the White House, sending the Secret Service scrambling to evacuate Vice President Dick Cheney and move First Lady Laura Bush to a secure location.

McClellan said the president's Secret Service detail was informed about the plane at about 11:59 a.m., when the decision was made to raise the threat level at the White House to "yellow."

Fighter planes were immediately scrambled to intercept the plane, and the threat level at the White House was raised all the way to "red" before the "all clear" was given at 12:14 p.m.

McClellan said Bush was informed about the incident around 12:50 p.m. at the end of his ride. He left the reserve around 12:57 p.m. and returned to the White House at around 1:30 p.m., well after the security scare had ended.

"The president was never in danger and the protocols in place after September 11 were followed," McClellan said. "The president has a tremendous amount of trust in his security detail and they were being kept apprised of the situation as it developed."

Bush had left the White House at about 11:03 a.m. and had arrived at Patuxent for the bike ride at 11:34 a.m.

"Given such circumstances and the fact that the plane turned away from the White House, the decision was made to inform the president upon conclusion of his bike ride," McClellan said.

McClellan later added, "there is always a review of the response to a situation of this nature."

Comment: Let's see if we have this straight: On 9-11, two airliners slammed in the WTC towers, and something hit the Pentagon. Another airliner was shot down over Pennsylvania. Over two and half years later, the US is buried in a "War on Terrorism", and Americans are encouraged to never forget the events of 9-11.

Despite all these facts, Bush was not informed yesterday that a small airplane had violated restricted airspace over Washington, causing a "red alert" and a mass of terrified people running madly for cover. Bush, who presents himself as America's protector against the evil terrorists, wasn't even informed about the event until almost an hour after it happened. What was Bush doing during all the chaos? Why, he was riding his bicycle.

We are reminded of the morning of September 11th when the "president" calmly sat in a grade school reading a book with a bunch of students - even after he was told about the attacks.

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Cuban 'bomber' seeking US asylum was on CIA payroll: documents
Wed May 11, 6:30 PM ET

MIAMI - Declassified documents released this week link a Cuban terror suspect seeking US asylum to a 1976 Cuban airliner bombing, and show he was for years on the CIA's payroll.

The CIA paid Luis Posada Carriles 300 dollars a month in the 1960s, and the anti-Castro Cuban worked for the CIA at least from 1965 until June 1976, according to documents made public Tuesday by the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington.

An FBI document from November 3, 1976 quotes an informant as saying Posada Carriles was in a group that discussed the bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane, in which 73 persons died.

And another FBI document from October 7, 1976, a day after the attack, cited an informant as practically admitting that Posada Carriles and another man, Orlando Bosch, planned the Cubana bombing.

In mid-April, an attorney for Posada Carriles, a staunch foe of communist Cuban President Fidel Castro, said that his client was seeking asylum in the United States.

However, the United States has denied knowledge of his whereabouts, while Cuba and Venezuela said they want him extradited.

Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have railed at US
President George W. Bush arguing his "war on terror" is a farce if the United States gives asylum to the fugitive Posada Carriles.

On Monday, US State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters in Washington: "In terms of where he presently is, I think it's fair to say we don't know."

"That is a big lie," Chavez said Wednesday in Brasilia.

"One of the biggest terrorists in the world is living in the United States. That is Posada Carriles," Chavez said. [...]

Comment: Here we beg to differ with Mr. Chavez. George Bush is a much bigger terrorist than Carriles.

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North Korea nuclear fears deepen
By Anna Fifield in Seoul
Financial Times
May 12 2005 03:36

North Korea NuclearNorth Korea on Wednesday said it had removed thousands of spent fuel rods from its Yongbyon nuclear plant, a key step in a weapons programme causing increasing anxiety in Washington.

Amid fears that Kim Jong-il's regime might try to assert itself by testing a nuclear weapon, North Korea's central news agency quoted the North Korean foreign ministry as saying Pyongyang had "recently completed the process to withdraw 8,000 spent fuel rods from the 5MW experimental nuclear power plant".

Although there is no way of knowing whether the North Korean claim is accurate, the statement underlines the rapid deterioration in the already-difficult relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

The report declared that North Korea was "taking measures to enhance our nuclear arsenal for self-defence purposes to cope with the political atmosphere".

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, refused to comment directly on Pyonyang's claim but said: "Provocative statements and actions by North Korea only further isolate it from the international community." [...]

Comment: Isn't McClellan's statement a bit like the pot calling the kettle black?

The North last month shut down its reactor at Yongbyon, 100km north of Pyongyang, sparking fears that the plutonium fuel rods would be reprocessed to create nuclear weapons.

The Bush administration has become impatient with North Korea's refusal to resume discussions about its weapons programmes while the rogue state continues to make ever more provocative claims to try to force the US to meet its demands.

There is speculation that Washington has a June deadline for negotiations to restart before it takes tougher measures, such as referring Pyongyang to the United Nations Security Council for possible economic sanctions.

But some analysts think Mr Kim will try to pre-empt any US action with an inflammatory gesture of his own, including perhaps a nuclear test. US satellites have recently recorded digging and building in the Kilju area, considered a likely site for a test.

Comment: GASP! Not DIGGING AND BUILDING!!! After all, when have US analysts ever been wrong about other countries' WMD stockpiles?

North Korea has claimed to have "weaponised" the previous batch of 8,000 rods, potentially yielding eight nuclear bombs. While Wednesday's statement did not say Pyongyang would turn the latest cache into weapons, removing the rods is the first step towards manufacturing more bombs.

Operations at the Yongbyon plant had been frozen under the agreed framework the regime signed with the Clinton administration in 1994 but were restarted when the Bush administration cancelled the agreement in December 2002.

Just as North Korea has been deliberately vague on the state of its weapons manufacturing process, leaving analysts and governments to assume the worst, yesterday's statement was made against an unclear background.

The North's main Rodong Shinmun newspaper this week said the US was "making a fuss" by spreading reports that the state was preparing for an underground nuclear test although it did not deny a test was possible.

Comment: There is another country that is deliberately vague about its WMD's - especially nuclear weapons: Israel. Strangely enough, the Neocons and Zionists in the Bush administration don't seem to be the least bit concerned about Israel's weapons.

In other North Korea propaganda - er, news:

North Korean children play a shooting game with a toy gun aiming at a portrait of U.S. President George W. Bush at Namjun kindergarten in Shinwiju, Pyongan-Budo, North Korea. The photo was released by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 9, 2005. (Reuters)

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US real wages fall at fastest rate in 14 years
By Christerpher Swann in Washington
Republished from The Financial Times
Thu, 12 May 2005 08:20:38 -0500

Summary: In the wake of United Airlines being cleared to shed pension plans to avoid bankruptcy, its becoming obvious that corporate executives pad their golden parachutes while getting more stingy with honoring the loyalty of their labor force. Many economists feel that US corporations need to start being more generous if economic growth will remain strong.

Employers are calling the shots when it comes to wages.

Real wages in the US are falling at their fastest rate in 14 years, according to data surveyed by the Financial Times.

Inflation rose 3.1 per cent in the year to March but salaries climbed just 2.4 per cent, according to the Employment Cost Index. In the final three months of 2004, real wages fell by 0.9 per cent.

The last time salaries fell this steeply was at the start of 1991, when real wages declined by 1.1 per cent.

Stingy pay rises mean many Americans will have to work longer hours to keep up with the cost of living, and they could ultimately undermine consumer spending and economic growth.

Many economists believe that in spite of the unexpectedly large rise in job creation of 274,000 in April, the uneven revival in the labour market since the 2001 recession has made it hard for workers to negotiate real improvements in living standards.

Even after last month's bumper gain in employment, there are 22,000 fewer private sector jobs than when the recession began in March 2001, a 0.02 percent fall. At the same point in the recovery from the recession of the early 1990s, private sector employment was up 4.7 per cent.

"There is still little evidence that workers are gaining much traction in their negotiations," said Paul Ashworth, US analyst at Capital Economics, the consultancy. "If this does not pick up, it raises the prospect of a sharper slowdown in consumer spending than we have been expecting." [...]

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Blair pledges new 'yob' crackdown
Thursday, 12 May, 2005

Yobbish behaviour in Britain's streets and schools will not be tolerated, Tony Blair has insisted as he set out his priorities for a third term in office.

"Respect towards other people is a modern yearning as much as a traditional one," said Mr Blair.

He put much of the blame on parents, saying he could bring in laws but could not raise people's children for them.

He told his monthly news conference that the need for more respect was a key lesson from the election campaign.

Family focus

Mr Blair said the end of deference and preference did not mean society did not have any rules.

He said people were fed up with street corner and shopping centre thugs, with binge drinking, vandalism and graffiti.

A very small minority of people were making the law-abiding majority "afraid and angry".

"I want to send a very clear signal from Parliament, not just the government, that this type of disrespect and yobbish behaviour will not be tolerated any more," said Mr Blair.

He said there were deep seated cause of nuisance behaviour.

They were "to do with family life in the way that parents regard their responsibility to their children, in the way that some kids grow up generation to generation without proper parenting, without a proper sense of discipline within the family".

He continued: "I cannot solve all these problems... I can start a debate on this and I can legislate. What I cannot do is raise someone's children for them." [...]

Comment: Good parenting is all about setting a good example is it not? Given the example that Blair has set to the world with his war for profit on the Iraqi people, Blair has certainly set a very poor example to the world on the subject of "respect towards other people". As such, we doubt that many right-thinking UK citizens would ever want Blair to raise their children for them.

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Senate accuses Galloway, Pasqua over Iraq oil
Thu May 12, 2005
By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate committee said on Thursday British parliamentarian George Galloway and former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua benefited from the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq, a charge both men denied.

A report by the committee said Galloway had been given "allocations" for 20 million barrels of oil while Pasqua got 11 million barrels, with the personal approval of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Under the program, which let sanctions-clamped Iraq sell some oil to buy basic goods, such allocations could be sold on to traders for up to 30 cents a barrel.

Both men denied the allegations and said they were not new.

Galloway, newly elected to the British Parliament as a left-wing anti-Iraq war independent after Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party expelled him over his views on the conflict, said the claims were absurd.

"This is a lickspittle Republican committee acting on the wishes of (President) George W. Bush," said Galloway.

"Why am I not surprised? Let me repeat: I have never traded in a barrel of oil or any vouchers for it," he said, adding he had written to the committee to rebut the allegations but had not received a response.

Blair, asked if Britain would investigate the allegations, said on Thursday: "We've no plans to do that."

Comment: At least Blair realises that to pursue these spurious US government-inspired allegations against Galloway would be complete folly. It is not surprising, however, that the Bush administration have immediately sought to smear Galloway following his victory as an anti-war independent in last week's British general election. Galloway stands against everything that Bush and his NeoCon handlers hold dear. In attempting to discredit him, it appears that there is no level they will not stoop to, including resurrecting more than two-year-old disproved allegations that his admirable act of magnanimity in bringing little Mariam Hamza to Glasgow in 1998 for the leukemia treatment which US imposed sanctions prevented her from receiving in her native Iraq was a front for receiving oil kickbacks from Saddam.

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British MP Galloway agrees to testify before US Congress UPDATE
05.12.2005, 12:40 PM

LONDON (AFX) - British member of parliament George Galloway has agreed to testify before the US Congress next week following allegations he received oil-based kickbacks from former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime, his spokesman said today.

A spokesman for Norm Coleman, chairman of the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations, said the senator 'would be pleased' to have Galloway appear at a May 17 hearing into the claims.

'There will be a witness chair and microphone available for Mr. Galloway's use,' said the spokesman, Tom Steward.

Asked how Galloway had responded to the invitation, his spokesman said he was keen.

'Mr Galloway said: 'Book the flights, let's go, let's give them both barrels',' the spokesman said, adding 'That's guns. not oil.'

'Assuming we get visas and flights sorted, we are going there to confront the Joe McCarthy committee,' he added, referring to the 1950s senator who led anti-communist hearings.

The US committee said earlier today it had 'detailed evidence' that under the Saddam-era UN oil-for-food program, Iraq gave 20 mln barrels of oil in allocations to Galloway.

Galloway, who set up his own left-wing Respect Party after being expelled from the Labour Party of Prime Minister Tony Blair after criticising the government's involvement in the Iraq war, branded the accusation a 'big lie'.

He also said he had sought to contact the committee about the allegations.

Comment: The slander campaign against Galloway continues. Using faked documents, he was accused of receiving money from Saddam Hussein. He quit Parliament. His name cleared when it was clearly established that the accusatory documents were phoney, he just won reelection. Now the battle has moved from the UK to the US Congress. Not one for mincing his words, the Galloway appearance next week, should it happen, promises to be a good bit of theatre. He's already compared it to the McCarthy anti-communist witch-hunt of the fifties.

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Iran decides to resume uranium enrichment soon 2005-05-12 15:58:20

TEHRAN, May 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran has decided to resume uranium enrichment activities soon despite a stern warning from the European Union and the United States against it, a top Iranian nuclear official said Thursday.

"We are going to restart a small part of the suspended nuclear activities, maybe some of those in the uranium conversion facility near Isfahan," Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted by state television as saying.

Aghazadeh said activities related to centrifuges might also be resumed, but he did not reveal the exact date of the resumption.

Tehran is expected to submit a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, on Thursday officially announcing it will resume enrichment-related activities.

This move came in defiance of a warning by Washington and the EU to refer Iran's case to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions if it resumed enrichment activities.


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Britain Warns of Possible UN Action Against Iran
By Michael Drudge
12 May 2005

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says Britain would support the consideration of U.N. sanctions against Iran if Tehran carries out a threat to resume controversial work on its nuclear program.

Mr. Blair made his comments amid signs that Iran's European negotiating partners are growing tired of the impasse over Iran's efforts to process uranium that could fuel a nuclear energy plant, or an atomic bomb.

Mr. Blair told a news conference the United Nations should consider sanctions against Iran if it resumes conversion of uranium ore.

"We certainly will support referral to the U.N. Security Council if Iran breeches its undertakings and obligations," Mr. Blair said.

Comment: "Here, boy. Come on! Speak! ... Good dog."

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Bush's Troubling FDR 'Apology'
By Robert Parry
May 12, 2005
Consortium News

At the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat, George W. Bush upstaged celebrations of the Victory in Europe by making – and demanding – selective apologies from the victorious Allies for what happened after World War II.

Bush, who almost never admits his own presidential mistakes, apologized for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s supposed acceptance of a divided Europe at Yalta and taunted Vladimir Putin to apologize for Soviet abuses during the Cold War. Bush also tossed out a few more U.S. historical apologies, such as regretting slavery, to put Putin on the spot.

But Bush’s V-E Day speech on May 7 contained a dangerous and deceitful subtext that nearly everyone in the ever-clueless U.S. news media missed as they fell over themselves to praise the president’s performance on his European trip.

Bush’s troubling message was that the only real U.S. mistake in the Cold War was not to aggressively challenge the Soviet Union right after the defeat of Germany, even if that meant vastly more bloodshed. Bush also expressed no regret for some of the most egregious U.S. actions in the Cold War, such as complicity in genocide in Guatemala, state terrorism in Chile or the fearsome death toll in the Vietnam War.

By his silence on those points, Bush suggested that he saw nothing wrong in the Cold War’s most brutal anticommunist strategies, except that they weren’t ruthless enough. If Bush could go back in time, he would have been an ally of Gen. Curtis LeMay and other hard-line anticommunists who favored crushing the Soviet Union at all costs, including the risk of nuclear war.

Yalta Lie

In Bush’s FDR apology, he also revived an old right-wing canard about the Yalta conference where Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin reached agreement about principles to govern the post-war world.

Contrary to the right-wing myth that the Yalta agreement simply ceded control of Eastern Europe to the Soviets, it actually foresaw a transitional period during which the Allies would help “the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges of Nazism and Fascism and to create democratic institutions of their own choice.”

The 40-year division of Europe developed in the following years as Cold War tensions worsened. The United States focused on preventing a communist victory in Greece and on assuring electoral victories for anticommunist parties in Western Europe, while the Soviet Union clamped down on political freedoms in Eastern Europe. [See Jacob Heilbrunn’s “Once Again, the Big Yalta Lie,” Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2005.]

In his May 7 speech, Bush extrapolated from his distorted historical analysis of Yalta to justify his invasion of Iraq and other potential actions in his pursuit of a new world order.

“We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability,” Bush said about the Yalta agreement. “We have learned our lesson; no one’s liberty is expendable. …And so, with confidence and resolve, we will stand for freedom across the broader Middle East.”

‘Democracy’ Redefined

In other words, the bloody chaos in Iraq – including more than 1,600 dead U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of dead Iraqis – has not shaken Bush’s faith in the neoconservative strategy of worldwide “democratic” revolution, whatever the cost.

The U.S. press corps also continues it unwillingness to question the sincerity of Bush’s supposed commitment to “democracy,” even though Bush himself gained power after losing the popular vote in Election 2000 and stopping a recount in Florida. He then joked, “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier – so long as I’m the dictator.” [For more, see’s “Bush & Democracy Hypocrisy.”]

What’s also left out is that the neoconservative definition of democracy bears little resemblance to the word’s traditional meaning, that of an informed electorate freely debating and deciding policies in the public interest.

To the neocons, the term “democracy” means a government that accepts “free market” economics and has some democratic trappings, even if information is systematically manipulated or repression exists behind the scenes.

Though the U.S. press corps often presents Bush’s “democracy” strategy as a radical break from the “real-politik” past, the Bush Doctrine actually fits well with the traditions of the Cold War when Washington reacted hostilely to the popular will when it threatened U.S. interests.

So, despite flowery rhetoric about “liberty,” Bush and the neocons – just like their predecessors in the Cold War – are disdainful of “democracy” when the people elect “irresponsible” populists like Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti or Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. In 2002, the Bush administration welcomed a short-lived coup against Chavez. In 2004, Washington backed a coup that forced Aristide into exile.

Similarly, during the Cold War, U.S. administrations worked to overthrow democratically elected governments in a number of countries, including Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), the Congo (1961) and Chile (1973). Sometimes elected leaders were killed, like Patrice Lumumba in the Congo and Salvador Allende in Chile.

In nearly all these cases, the putchists followed their coups with brutal dictatorial regimes that kept the population in line through torture, imprisonment and murder. During these depredations, the U.S. government helped the dictators or looked the other way.

Different Speech

If George W. Bush truly wanted to make democracy more than a rhetorical device, he would have given a very different speech at the V-E Day anniversary in the Netherlands. He would have twinned his call for Moscow’s apologies with admissions of Washington’s anti-democratic excesses of the Cold War.

Bush would have apologized to the people of Iran for the CIA’s sponsorship of the 1953 coup; he would have begged forgiveness from Guatemala’s population for a quarter-century of repression that included genocide against Mayan tribes in the highlands; he would have expressed remorse over the tens of thousands of murdered, tortured and disappeared in Central America, South America and Africa; he would have voiced regret for the millions who perished in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. [For more details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

If Bush had given that speech, he might have achieved enough moral high ground to squeeze an apology out of Putin for Soviet repression in Eastern Europe, especially the invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.

But Bush didn’t apologize for U.S. excesses in the Cold War and the reason appears obvious: he doesn’t consider them to be excesses.

That also may explain why Bush has shown no inclination to hunt down and arrest anti-Castro Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who reportedly has been hiding in South Florida for the past six weeks. Posada, who has been linked to terrorist attacks over three decades, is wanted in Venezuela for allegedly masterminding the 1976 in-air bombing of a Cubana airliner, killing 73 people.

Although U.S. inaction on the 77-year-old Posada muddies up the “moral clarity” of the War on Terror, Bush won’t crack down on Posada or other anticommunist Cold War terrorists. Bush apparently accepts the right-wing view that terrorism directed against Fidel Castro’s Cuba doesn’t deserve the same moral condemnation as other terrorism.

So even as Bush demands that countries around the world arrest and extradite terrorists regardless of political concerns, he is unwilling to live by the same rules in the United States. [See’s “Bush, Posada & Terrorism Hypocrisy.”]

Voting Abuses

One could argue, too, that if Bush really believed in “democracy,” he never would have dispatched thugs to Florida in November 2000 to intimidate vote counters or have sent his lawyers to the U.S. Supreme in December 2000 to stop a state-court-ordered recount of votes. [See’s “Bush’s Conspiracy to Riot” and “So Bush Did Steal the White House.”]

On the contrary, Bush would have joined Al Gore in insisting on a full-and-fair recount so the American people and the world would see a true commitment to the principles of democracy, where the people’s will is more important than who wins.

In 2002-03, a leader who truly cherished the principles of democracy would have told his supporters to respect dissidents who questioned the justification for the Iraq War. He would have resisted any temptation to win an important policy debate by impugning the patriotism of Americans who disagreed with him. [See’s “Politics of Preemption.”]

In 2004, such a leader would have vigorously objected when his political allies besmirched the war record of his political opponent. [See’s “Reality on the Ballot.”] A real pro-democracy leader would demand that his opponents get a fair shot at winning national elections and would fire political aides who muse about establishing a de facto one-party state. [See’s “Bush’s ‘Transformational’ Democracy.”]

He would order his party’s apparatchiks to bend over backward to avoid electoral dirty tricks. He would want to ensure that all votes are counted, especially those of African-Americans who suffered from centuries of racial prejudice, as Bush noted in his V-E Day speech. He would want America’s democracy to be the gold standard for the world.

If Bush were that true champion of democracy, he would insist, too, that his supporters do nothing to intimidate the nation’s news media. For instance, he would not have appointed a conservative ideologue, like Ken Tomlinson, to oversee public broadcasting with the goal of discouraging tough journalism in the name of “balance.”

Bush also would not have sat by silently as his supporters pressed for the dismissals of CBS journalists who had correctly reported on Bush’s shirking of his National Guard duty as a young man.

Even though the journalists did fall short in verifying the authorship of a memo that accurately summarized Bush’s actions, a leader truly committed to democracy would have admitted that the facts were true and warned against the chilling effect from firing journalists in that sort of dispute. Four “60 Minutes” producers did lose their jobs and Dan Rather was pushed out as evening news anchor over the memo.

Challenging Putin

For some Americans, one of the most painful moments of the V-E Day events came when Russian leader Putin was interviewed on CBS’ “60 Minutes” and launched into a lecture that included genuine criticisms of the U.S. democratic process.

Russia’s authoritarian leader cited how Bush’s allies on the U.S. Supreme Court had appointed him president over the electoral will of the American people and how American journalists had lost jobs for criticizing the U.S. president.

A visibly perturbed CBS interviewer, Mike Wallace, challenged Putin on his last claim by getting Putin to admit that he was referring to Dan Rather. “On our TV screens, we saw him resigning,” Putin said. “We understood that he was forced to resign by his bosses at CBS. This is a problem of your democracy, not ours.”

Defensively, Wallace pounced on Putin’s reference to Rather. “He still works for CBS News,” Wallace said. “He continues to work as a matter of fact on ’60 Minutes.’”

Wallace’s comment, however, was disingenuous. Putin was far closer to the mark in noting that Rather was forced into early retirement from his powerful CBS anchor slot and that four CBS producers were ousted amid a clamor for their heads from Bush’s defenders.

In dozens of cases over the past five years, when Bush could have stood up for democratic principles inside the United States, he didn’t. Instead, he has approached all political issues with scorched-earth strategies that enlist angry supporters who never grow tired of acting the part of the victim while shouting down weaker political opponents.

Nevertheless, when Bush steps onto the world stage and professes his love of democracy, U.S. journalists know that they can’t afford to show any skepticism. If they did, they would face denunciations from Bush’s minions as unpatriotic, un-American or “liberal.” Jobs would be lost; careers would be ruined.

So, the United States marches forward into a Brave New World where Washington’s international policies are virtually beyond criticism at home, where George W. Bush is the wise and idealistic leader, where history can be changed or ignored to suit his purposes, and where “democracy” becomes the justification for doing pretty much whatever the leader wants.

Comment: Yup, that's were its going. Or, rather, where it has already arrived. When are journalists like Parry going to realise that the situation is far worse than he thinks? When will they start to consider the truth about 9/11?

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Pressure on yuan revaluation won't work 2005-05-12 16:50:25

BEIJING, May 12 -- China's central bank said it will not bow to external pressures to revalue its currency and blamed the United States for creating a negative environment for any eventual loosening of the yuan peg.

The comments by People's Bank of China (PBOC) vice governor Wu Xiaoling came a day after billions of dollars of speculative money was let loose on forex markets worldwide after very confused reports that China would revalue the currency on May 18.

"Originally there was a pretty good environment (for reform)," Wu said. "It is not proper to say that the reform direction of the Chinese government is being carried out under pressures from outside."

She especially targeted pending legislation in the US Congress which threatens to impose a 27.5 percent tariff across the board on Chinese imports if Beijing does not loosen the peg within six months.

This pressure has resulted in rampant speculation that currency reform could come sooner rather than later, prompting a flood of hot money into Chinese assets, especially property, in expectation of a yuan appreciation, she said.

It has also hamstrung the government's macro-reform policy.

"We are making efforts in our work (to reform the forex regime) but we never thought that in the first quarter of this year that they (the US Congress) would put out such a plan," Wu said.

The PBOC said Wu's comments were made in an interview with the Japanese press on April 27 but they only appeared on the bank website Thursday after forex markets went wild Wednesday following the reports of an imminent revaluation.

The central bank forcefully rejected those reports late Wednesday but the damage had been done before the markets finally calmed down.

China has fixed its yuan currency in a narrow band at around 8.28 to the dollar for the past decade. And major trading partners claim that at that level it gives Chinese exports an unfair advantage. [...]

Comment: The economic bomb is not far off. The players are jockeying for position before it goes off to do their best to ensure they aren't the ones facing the main force of the blast.

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34 bases on worst toxic waste sites list
By John Heilprin, Associated Press Writer | May 12, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Thirty-four military bases shut down since 1988 are on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of worst toxic waste sites -- most of them for at least 15 years -- and not one is completely cleaned up.

As the latest base-closing commission begins its work, an examination by The Associated Press shows EPA concerned with incomplete pollution cleanups at more than 100 Defense Department facilities. Other military-related cleanups are being led solely by states.

Of the $23.3 billion in costs from four previous rounds of base closures and realignments, the Pentagon has spent $8.3 billion so far on pollution cleanups and other compliance with environmental laws, congressional investigators say. EPA officials say it will be at least a decade before many are completed -- at a cost the government estimates will reach an additional $3.6 billion. [...]

Hard-to-remove contaminants include trichloroethylene, a cleaning solvent linked to cancer, as well as asbestos-tainted soil, radioactive materials and leaded paint. [...]

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Type 2 diabetes increasing dramatically among kids
Last Updated Wed, 11 May 2005 17:18:06 EDT
CBC News

TORONTO - The number of children getting Type 2 diabetes has jumped 15-fold since 1990 due to obesity, poor nutrition and lack of exercise , a study published on Wednesday said.

And Canada is one of the global hotspots for the trend, along with New York, Taiwan and New Zealand, the report in the May issue of the Journal of Pediatrics said.

The report's authors, Dr. Orit Pinhas-Hamiel of Sheba Medical Center in Israel and Dr. Philip Zeitler of the University of Colorado, stressed that health officials and educators must urgently develop strategies to reverse the sedentary lifestyles spreading the disease.

The report reviewed published research on childhood and teenage diabetes between 1978 and 2004.

It found three per cent of children in North American First Nations communities had Type 2 diabetes by 1990. The rate has since ballooned to 45 per cent.

The authors found that 70 per cent of new cases among First Nations Americans are classified as Type 2 diabetes.

The Pima Indians in Central Arizona have the world's highest recorded rate of Type 2 diabetes in adults – 5.1 per cent of teenagers aged 15 to 19 – besides high rates of obesity. The rate for Canada's Ojibwa-Cree is pegged at 3.5 per cent for the same age group.

There is a close tie between the rate of Type 2 diabetes among adults in a specific population and the appearance of it in children and adolescents, the authors wrote.

But the disease rate is not limited to First Nations communities. It's a global trend, said the report, noting 80 per cent of new cases of childhood diabetes in Japan are Type 2.

"It is not limited to certain ethnic groups, nor to particular regions, but has now become universal," the authors wrote.

And they said that as many as half the young people with disease may not be aware of it, which could seriously damage their heart and kidneys.

Diabetes is a leading cause of heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and amputation. It kills more than 40,000 people a year in Canada.

Type 2 diabetes was originally thought to be confined to adults. It was not as common as Type 1 among young people.

In Type 2, weight gain, poor nutrition and lack of exercise reduce the ability of insulin manufactured by the body to control levels of sugar, producing a condition called insulin resistance. [...]

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Magnitude 6.2 Earthquake - PACIFIC-ANTARCTIC RIDGE
2005 May 12 11:15:34 UTC

A strong earthquake occurred at 11:15:34 (UTC) on Thursday, May 12, 2005. The magnitude 6.2 event has been located near the PACIFIC-ANTARCTIC RIDGE. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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China facing "apocalyptic" summer of severe drought and floods
Tue May 10, 2:47 AM ET

BEIJING - China is facing an "apocalyptic" summer of severe drought and floods, a leading weather expert has warned, with water supplies and grain production under threat.

"China may face a grim situation from seasonal floods or drought this year with potential damage worse than that of last year," said Qin Dahe, a top official at the China Meteorological Administration.

"There will be much fear of a bad harvest this year."

Qin was speaking during a national televised conference on summer weather forecasting and services, said the China Daily, which reported him as saying China faced an "apocalyptic" situation.

He warned the probabilities of weather-related disasters were high with the rainy season already underway in parts of south China while the national flood season was imminent.

Thousands of people die every year from floods, landslides and mudflows in China, with millions left homeless.

While some parts of the huge country suffer massive rainfall, other parts are ravaged by drought, with drinking water and grain yields hit.

Qin said most of western and northeast China as well as parts of south China are in the midst of their worst drought in 50 years and no end was in sight, while huge rain belts were forecast for other areas.

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How to float like a stone
David Adam, science correspondent
The Guardian
Wednesday May 11, 2005

What goes up no longer has to come down. British scientists have developed an antigravity machine that can float heavy stones, coins and lumps of metal in mid-air. Based around a powerful magnet, the device levitates objects in a similar way to how a maglev train runs above its tracks.

Peter King, a physics professor at Nottingham University, said: "We can take an object and float it in mid-air because the magnetic forces on the object are enough to balance gravity."

The device exploits diamagnetism. Place non-magnetic objects inside a strong enough magnetic field and they are forced to act like weak magnets themselves. Generate a field that is stronger below and weaker above, and the resulting upward magnetic force cancels out gravity.

Scientists have used diamagnetism to make wood, strawberries and, famously, a living frog fly. "That force is strong enough to float things with a density similar to water, but not things with the density of rocks," Prof King said. To make their machine more powerful, the team added an oxygen and nitrogen mixture, a paramagnetic fluid. Inside the magnet, the mixture helps objects to float.

The researchers, who announce their results today in the New Journal of Physics, are working with Rio Tinto to develop the technique to sort precious stones from soil. The US space agency Nasa is also interested as it offers a cheaper way for zero gravity research.

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Robots master reproduction

Modular machine assembles copies of itself in minutes
By Andreas von Bubnoff
Republished from Nature
Wed, 11 May 2005 22:42:06 -0500

Humans do it, bacteria do it, even viruses do it: they make copies of themselves. Now US researchers have built a flexible robot that can perform the same trick.

It's not the first self-replicating robot ever built, says Hod Lipson of Cornell University, who led the study. But previous machines with the capacity for copying themselves have been very simple, often spreading out in only two dimensions. And more complex devices existed only in computer simulations, not reality.

Lipson's robot, which is made of four cubes stacked on top of each other, has a flexible, three-dimensional design. "There is a whole world of possible machines," says Lipson, pointing out that you could make much more complex robots in the same way simply by using more cubes.

The researchers envisage machines that automatically repair themselves, making them ideal for use in hazardous environments such as outer space. The current version of Lipson's robot isn't quite up to that futuristic goal. But it is a good step forward, says Moshe Sipper, a self-replication expert at Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel.

Cubic copy

Lipson's robot consists of four cubes, each 10-cm to a side, which are sliced diagonally into halves that can rotate against each other. This allows the robot to change shape, he reports in Nature1. Provided it is fed with cubes, the robot can create a copy of itself within a few minutes.

To build a replica, a ‘parent' robot bends down and places its own uppermost cube on the table next to it. This becomes the base of the ‘child' robot. The parent then picks up a new cube, using electromagnets powered from contacts on the surface of the table, and stacks it on top of the child base. During this process, the child bends down to help the parent add cubes whenever it becomes too tall for the parent to reach. In the end, two four-cube columns stand next to each other.

Lipson says the cubes contain the electronic equivalent of DNA: a microprocessor with a memory of the robot's body plan and instructions on what to do during self-replication. By adjusting this information, it should be possible to make reproducing machines in any number of shapes or sizes, says Lipson. A robot made up of hundreds of much smaller blocks would have a huge number of shape options available to it. [...]

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