Thursday May 26, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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The Light Fades, A Storm Approaches

© 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Nancy Pelosi Speech to American Israel Public Affairs Committee

WASHINGTON, May 24 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at their 2005 Policy Conference last night. Pelosi discussed the relationship between the United States and Israel and the continued effort for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Below are her remarks:

"Thank you, Amy Friedkin, my dear friend for so many years. Californians, North and South, are proud of your great leadership at AIPAC. And to Bernice Manocherian, President of AIPAC, thank you. All who care about peace in the Middle East are grateful for your strength and wisdom in guiding AIPAC. As a native of Baltimore, I take special pride of your incoming President, Howard Friedman, who will continue in the tradition of outstanding leadership at AIPAC. "I also want to acknowledge all of the students who are here. It is great to see so many young people taking such an interest in public affairs, especially on one of the critical issues of our time: peace in the Middle East.

"This spring, I was in Israel as part of a congressional trip that also took us to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. One of the most powerful experiences was taking a helicopter toward Gaza, over the path of the security fence. We set down in a field that belonged to a local kibbutz. It was a cool but sunny day, and the field was starting to bloom with mustard. Mustard is a crop that grows in California, and it felt at that moment as if I were home. "And then we were told that the reason we had to land in that field, as opposed to our actual destination, was because there had been an infiltration that morning, and they weren't sure how secure the area was. And that point alone brought us back to the daily reality of Israel: even moments of peace and beauty are haunted by the specter of violence. "While in Israel, we met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice Premier Shimon Perez. From them and from other leaders, we heard something I had not heard in a long time: cautious optimism. This was an attitude quite different from the one that confronted us when I spoke to AIPAC two years ago. "One thing, however is unchanged: America's commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel is unwavering. America and Israel share an unbreakable bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship. "Prime Minister Sharon's leadership of Israel at this crucial time has been remarkable. He has brought Israel through an extremely challenging period, and now he has made the difficult decision that it is in Israel's national security interest to disengage from Gaza.

"In the next few months, Israeli settlers will be evacuated entirely from Gaza and from four settlements in the northern West Bank. This courageous decision is gut-wrenching for Israel.

"Israel's decision can be a decisive milestone on the road to peace. If the Palestinians agree to coordinate with Israel on the evacuation, establish the rule of law, and demonstrate a capacity to govern, the world may be convinced that finally there is a real partner for peace.

"Any progress on the Roadmap for Peace must be based on real change on the ground, as evidenced by the establishment of an accountable, and reconstituted Palestinian security force that prevents terrorism, not promotes it. "Fortunately, Palestinian Authority President Abbas is no Yasir Arafat. He has condemned terrorism in Arabic, stating that it prolongs the day that the Palestinian goal of statehood can be achieved, and, at least as significant, stating that terrorism is immoral. He has begun to restructure the security services. All that is commendable.

"But he has not removed Arafat's corrupt cronies from positions of power, nor has he moved to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. That is, I am sorry to say, cause for concern. President Abbas has said his goal is to establish the rule of law, but he has done nowhere near enough to realize that vision, and now he is confronted with a huge challenge: by the end of summer, Israel will be out of Gaza.

"Can Gaza become a pilot case for self-government for a Palestinian state? Or will it become a terrorist haven, a launching pad for rockets into Israel? "President Abbas must act, for his own good, against those he must know are his enemies and are the enemies of the aspirations of the Palestinian people. "The United States, just as Israel, wants to see him succeed. That is why I was so pleased when President Bush dispatched Jim Wolfensohn to help with the Gaza withdrawal. It is why I supported additional aid to the Palestinians in the Emergency Supplemental bill that recently passed Congress.

"There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist.

"The greatest threat to Israel's right to exist, with the prospect of devastating violence, now comes from Iran. For too long, leaders of both political parties in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it has plowed ahead with its nuclear and missile technology.

"Proliferation represents a clear threat to Israel and to America. It must be confronted by an international coalition against proliferation, with a commitment and a coalition every bit as strong as our commitment to the war against terror. "The people of Israel long for peace and are willing to make the sacrifices to achieve it. We hope that peace and security come soon - and that this moment of opportunity is not lost. As Israel continues to take risks for peace, she will have no friend more steadfast that the United States.

"In the words of Isaiah, we will make ourselves to Israel 'as hiding places from the winds and shelters from the tempests; as rivers of water in dry places; as shadows of a great rock in a weary land.' "The United States will stand with Israel now and forever. Now and forever."

Comment: Pelosi's comments provide further evidence that there is only one 'party' in the US - The NeoCons. Pelosi perfectly parrots the NeoCon line of "any enemy of Israel is an enemy of the US". Pelosi unashamedly lauds AIPAC, a central player in Israeli spying in the US as evidenced by last year's "Franklin affair" where a Larry Franklin, a high level Pentagon employee, was accused of passing Pentagon secrets to Israeli intelligence. Pelosi is a traitor. The Honorable House Democratic Leader also seems to be somewhat confused about the history of the Middle East. She states:

"there are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist"

Pelosi not only openly lies about the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also attempts to manipulate her audience with the boring old rant about Israel's "specialness" and "right to exist". The fact is that Israel has asserted its right to exist by trampling on the rights of the indigenous Palestinians. If, as she claims, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel's fundamental right to exist, the fact is that Israel has established its "homeland" on Palestinian territory and Israel's right to exist and the occupation of Palestinian land are therefore inextricably linked.

There is more to the matter however.

Sharon could have peace with the Palestinians in the morning if he so chose. But peace with Palestinians was never on the agenda. It is clear that Sharon, backed by rabid American "Zionist" politicians like Pelosi, has only one aim for the Palestinians: their complete destruction through a manipulated and manufactured war. The invasion of Iraq, widely recognised as having been carried out at the behest of Israel, was the first step in preparing for just such a war. As Pelosi intimates in her comments above, Iran is now the chosen 'threat du jour' to Israel's "right to exist". Clearly there is a grand plan that has been many years in the making. While the details may change from day to day based on the fluctuating conditions in the Middle East, all out war is still very much on the agenda.

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Sharon’s vow to help Abbas just for show: Analysts

Analysts believe that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's pledge in Washington to bolster the peace process, notably by freeing 400 prisoners, is widely seen back in Israel as nothing more than a ploy to impress George Bush on the eve of the U.S. president's summit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

When Sharon held talks with Bush last month at his Texas ranch, Sharon tried hard to paint Abbas as the villain of the peace but the strategy backfired when Bush emphasised his confidence in Abbas at a joint press conference with Sharon.

When the Israeli leader made the same argument at a meeting with U.S. Senate majority leader Bill Frist earlier this month, the Republican promptly met with Abbas and hailed him as a "bold leader".

In a speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Tuesday, Sharon attempted a change in tactics by promising to "do our utmost to cooperate with the new Palestinian leadership and will take the needed measures to help Chairman Abbas.

"We are willing to help Chairman Abbas as much as we can, as long as we do not risk our security. That is the red line."

He then pledged to release 400 Palestinian prisoners soon after his return to Israel and said that he was willing to hand over responsibility for security responsibility to the Palestinians in more parts of the West Bank.

However, both “pledges” were agreed on at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit between Sharon and Abbas back in February.

"Sharon's declarations are all just for show," Akiva Elder, a columnist for Israel's Haaretz daily, said. "On the ground, there has been no change. What he announced yesterday should have already been done after Sharm el-Sheikh but hasn't been.”

Israel has already transferred security control in two West Bank cities but have so far held back from making a similar move in three other cities on the grounds that resistance groups have not been disarmed.

Though five hundred prisoners were released soon after February's summit the promised second batch of 400 releases has yet to be put into effect.

Palestinian cabinet minister Ghassan Khatib was also unimpressed with Sharon's announcement, claiming it was "pure propaganda because he is in the United States.

"Since Sharm el-Sheikh, Israel has arrested more than 400 Palestinians," the planning minister told AFP.

"Sharon wants to show the United States he is ready to implement what they want, but he just talks without anything happening on the ground."

A senior Israeli foreign ministry official agreed that Sharon's comments were part of a show designed to impress Washington.

"Sharon says that he wants to cooperate with the Palestinians and that it is the Palestinians who are balking at this," the official said.

"We are dealing with the Palestinians like a teacher with a naughty schoolboy, when in reality it is Israel that does not want to work with the Palestinians on the pullout" of settlers from the Gaza Strip this summer.

The Palestinians remain deeply sceptical over the pullout from Gaza, saying it is designed to circumvent the roadmap and negate pressure on Israel for a more comprehensive pullout from the West Bank.

"As we have stated several times in the past, we want from the United States a clear political position for the implementation of the roadmap, as well as economic support," Abbas said.

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Forced to drink urine, drink or die
IMEMC & Agencies
Tuesday, 24 May 2005

After the horrific story of soldiers abusing two Palestinian workers, and forcing one of them to drink the soldiers’ urine until he fainted, one of the soldiers stood in court and admitted to the hidden truth which even the press was shy to say, “What we did was inhuman”.

The extreme brutality which revealed a hidden face of the Israeli army was revealed during the trial of the soldiers who abused the workers and forced one of them to drink their urine.

The event took place on September, 2004 when soldiers based at a military checkpoint in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, stopped Sameeh Rahhal, 22, from Bethlehem, and Firas al-Bakry, 22, from Hebron, and other workers.

The soldiers claimed that the workers were ‘illegally’ staying in Jerusalem and decided to “punish them”. And took them to an abandoned hotel, which the army was using as a military post.

There, at the ‘hotel’ the abuse and cruelty of the soldiers was exposed on its highest level.

Sameeh said in his testimony that soldiers forced him to choose between having his hands and legs broken or drinking the soldiers' urine.

“Soldiers at first stopped us, along with dozens of workers, then they drew a lot on our card, randomly choosing two, and released the other workers”, Sameeh said.

Comment: Very definite shades of Nazi Germany

Sameeh and Firas were forced – in what Israeli soldiers called 'entertainment' – to choose one from three paper notes inside a box.

The “Game’ which soldiers chose to play, included three sorts of punishments; breaking hands, legs and drinking from bottles filled with the soldiers' urine.

“I told them I will not do it, and they attacked me and sprayed my face with one of the urine bottles, I pushed one soldier away from me, then six soldiers attacked me and pointed their M-16 rifles in my face, this time I had to choose between drinking urine and death”, Sameeh added.

He had to drink the urine until fell unconscious, after that soldiers left him there on the ground until he was found by other civilians near the checkpoint, and was transferred to the Abu Dees clinic, where his stomach was emptied of the urine, and he was then moved to Beit Jala Hospital.

An Israeli military court convicted Nier Levy, the commander of the unit, of abusing the workers and sentenced him to 14 months, and one year on parole.

Apparently, abusing a Palestinian in this inhuman way and degrading him to this level, is not worth more than this sentence the commander received.

The courts’ ruling read that Levy, along with other soldiers, identified as Ariel Simhayev, Alexander Meropolsky, Robert Schneider and Yussi Moshiashiviely, jumped over the two workers, clubbed them, then one of the soldiers inserted his rifle top in the mouth of Sameeh and said, “When I say I will shoot, I mean I will shoot”.

The soldiers also found a piece of soap on Sameeh’s bag, and forced him to ‘paint’ his face with it, and rub it with sand, as if he was washing himself.

Later on, the soldiers told him to jump from a high window, but he said that it’s too high, and then they ordered him to jump from a lower window, which caused several injuries, and forced him to drink the urine until he fell unconscious.

Sameeh was transferred to a clinic in Abu Dis, and received medication to clean his stomach, and then he was transferred to Bethlehem Governmental Hospital.

Simhayev was sentenced to 7 and a half months, Schneider was sentenced to eight months, Moshiashiviely was sentenced to four months in public service, ‘since he did not directly participate in the event’, but did not file a report against the soldiers who warned him not to, while Meropolsky was not sentenced yet.

Israeli soldiers, manning the random checkpoints throughout the occupied Palestinian territories often force Palestinians to go through such 'entertainment', as a civilian in Hebron suffered multiple fractures in his limbs when he was forced to go through the same choices Sameeh had to choose from.

Yet, military checkpoints remain there, in every part of Palestine, separating the cities from each other, and even from their surrounding villages which depend on these cities socially and economically.

On these checkpoint, residents were forced to undress, to dance, to stand in the son or rain for several hours, sick residents and even ambulances transferring urgent cases have to wait their until they are allowed to pass, yet they might not be allowed to.

Several residents died after Israeli troops prevented him from reaching hospitals, even unborn babies have to suffer from these checkpoints, and die, those infants were sentenced to death, even before they saw the light of this world, even before they managed to know what it is like, out there!

One of these cases was the fetus of Amnah Abdul-Karim Safadi, 19, from a village near Nablus; the baby died before being born because the mother was denied access to the hospital at Huwwara checkpoint. She was delayed for 5 hours before she could access Alitihad hospital in Nablus.

Comment: What "peace" is the Israeli government going to offer Palestinians when it clearly believes that they are less than animals? Of course, it would appear that this belief is shared by many in the American government and among the US' Christian Fundamentalists...

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Evangelicals Joining Gaza Pullout Protest
Adam Dickter - Staff Writer

In what is likely the largest turnout against Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan to date in the U.S., thousands jammed the streets around Baruch College Sunday blasting the prime minister’s pullout plan.

In an effort to reach beyond the Jewish community to gain traction in the fight against Israel’s Gaza disengagement, a major pullout opponent has signed up a group of Bible Belt Baptist ministers who see the plan as an affront to God’s will to join some 100 American Jews on a sojourn to Israel next week.

The ministers hope to spend three days with the soon-to-be-vacated Jewish settlers in Gaza on a mission organized by Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind to depart on June 5.

“The Bible says that land belongs to the Jews,” the Rev. James Vineyard of the Windsor Hill Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, said in an interview. “The Lord, God of Israel, is not going to look favorably on the giving-away of one grain of sand.”

Rev. Vineyard last month organized a demonstration in Crawford, Texas, against disengagement when President George W. Bush hosted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He belongs to a coalition of Jewish and Christian Zionists, Yedidim for Israel — or dear friends of Israel — that opposes all concessions to the Palestinians. Rev. Vineyard said he recently raised more than $50,000 to create a DVD for churches and synagogues explaining opposition to the Gaza plan.

After Hikind invited him to participate in the mission, Rev. Vineyard said he consulted with his friend, Benny Elon, a Knesset member who recently resigned as minister of tourism, and Elon encouraged him to go.

Also participating in the mission are Rev. Vineyard’s son, the Rev. Merle Vineyard, a missionary stationed on Africa’s Ivory Coast, as well as the Rev. Danny Dodson of Center, Texas; Pastor Cecil Ballard of Marion, Iowa; the Rev. Bryan Sharp of Pacific, Mo.; and the Rev. Joseph Buckly Consford.

The ministers’ move comes as thousands of Gaza pullout protesters jammed the streets Sunday around Baruch College on 23rd Street, where Sharon was addressing 1,500 Jewish leaders supporting the disengagement. It was the largest show of force to date by the anti-pullout movement in the United States, much of which is centered here.

Hikind said he was undaunted by the proselytizing activities of the Evangelical ministers, a source of concern to some Jewish organizations that are skeptical about fundamentalist Christian support for Israel.

“As far as I know they are not directly involved in [proselytizing],” Hikind said. “They are coming on this trip to show their support for Gush Katif [the settlers’ bloc in Gaza], and that’s the beginning or the end of the conversations I have had with him.”

Rev. Vineyard said that in 28 years at his 3,000-member congregation, he has “never had a Sunday when we haven’t had someone saved and somebody baptized.” But he said he had never baptized a Jewish proselyte.

“I don’t go to Israel to win souls,” he said. “I go to keep America from going down the tubes.

“If America causes Israel to give away Gush Katif, Israel goes down the tubes, and as goes Israel, so goes America.”

Rev. Vineyard said he believed that Sharon, about whom he had once spoken enthusiastically, has agreed to give up Gaza as part of a deal with left-wing politicians and judges in order to end an investigation into his campaign finances and business dealings that was aborted last year.

Speaking at Sunday’s protest rally, Hikind expressed frustration that more Jewish leaders had not signed on to his trip.

“It is easier for me to find Baptist ministers than rabbis,” he said in a booming voice. [...]

In addition to Hikind’s trip, Americans for a Safe Israel is planning a 10-day trip to Israel beginning Sunday to protest the disengagement. But it is not clear whether the Israeli army will allow the groups into Gaza after announcing that the area would be closed to non-residents after Passover.

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Rumsfeld Laments Global Reach of War News
Associated Press
May 26, 2005

PHILADELPHIA - One of the military's new wartime challenges is dealing with global media that can instantly spread around the world information that may be false or damaging to U.S. interests, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

The United States needs to respond to anti-American messages with greater agility and speed if it is to win the ideological struggle with Islamic extremists, Rumsfeld said in a speech to members of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

"We'll need to develop considerably more sophisticated ways of using these new means of communication that are now available to reach the many and diverse audiences," he said.

Rumsfeld didn't delve deeply into specifics in his brief talk with members of the civic group. But in the recent past, news outlets have broadcast messages from terrorist groups, or reported stories that have fueled rage against Americans in the Muslim world.

"This is really the first war in history that is being conducted in an era of multiple global satellite television networks, 24-hour news outlets with live coverage of terrorist attacks, disasters and combat operations," Rumsfeld said.

He said U.S. officials must also deal with "a global Internet with universal access and no inhibitions, e-mail, cell phones, digital cameras wielded by anyone and everyone" and "a seemingly casual disregard for the protection of classified information, resulting in a near continuous hemorrhage of classified documents, to the detriment of the country."

The defense secretary was among those who complained earlier this month following deadly riots in Afghanistan after Newsweek published a story that U.S. interrogators desecrated a copy of the Quran at Guantanamo Bay. The magazine later retracted the story amid questions about its truthfulness.

Comment: By "anti-American messages", Rumsfeld is no doubt referring to those new sources that still attempt to offer a more accurate view of his war on terror. The solution is obvious: even more secrecy, more control over the media, more propaganda, and a clampdown on those pesky internet news sources like Signs of the Times and news blogs.

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Give Rumsfeld the Pinochet Treatment, Says US Amnesty Chief
May 26, 2005
by Jim Lobe

If the administration of President George W. Bush fails to conduct a truly independent investigation of U.S. abuses against detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, foreign governments should investigate and prosecute those senior officials who bear responsibility for them, the head of the U.S. chapter of Amnesty International said Wednesday.

Speaking at the release of Amnesty's annual report, William Schulz charged that Washington has become "a leading purveyor and practitioner" of torture and ill-treatment and that senior officials should face prosecution by other governments for violations of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture.

Among those officials, Schulz named Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director George Tenet, and senior officers at U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Abu Ghraib, Iraq.

"If the U.S. government continues to shirk its responsibility, Amnesty International calls on foreign governments to uphold their obligations under international law by investigating all senior U.S. officials involved in the torture scandal," said Schulz, who added that violations of the torture convention, which has been ratified by the United States and some 138 other countries, can be prosecuted in any jurisdiction.

"If those investigations support prosecution, the governments should arrest any official who enters their territory and begin legal proceedings against them," he added. "The apparent high-level architects of torture should think twice before planning their next vacation to places like Acapulco or the French Riviera because they may find themselves under arrest as (former Chilean dictator) Augusto Pinochet famously did in London in 1998."

Schulz also called on state bar associations to investigate administration lawyers who helped prepare legal opinions that sought to justify or defend the use of abusive interrogation methods for breach of their professional and ethical responsibilities.

He cited, in particular, Vice President Dick Cheney's general counsel, David Addington; Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes; and top officials in the Justice Department's Office of General Counsel, one of whom, Jay Bybee, has since been confirmed as a federal appeals court judge.

"A wall of secrecy is protecting those who masterminded and developed the U.S. torture policy," Schulz said. "Unless those who drew the blueprint for torture, approved it, and ordered it implemented are held accountable, the United States' once-proud reputation as an exemplar of human rights will remain in tatters."

Schulz's appeal for foreign governments to take the initiative coincided with the launch of a bipartisan drive endorsed by some 350 attorneys and legal scholars urging the administration to establish an independent commission to address the allegations of abuse and torture, including an assessment of the responsibility of senior administration officials and military officers.

"By establishing an independent bipartisan commission to fully investigate the issue of abuse of terrorist suspects," said John Whitehead, who served as deputy secretary of state in the Ronald Reagan administration, "Congress and the president have a unique opportunity to send a message to the rest of the world that the United States is committed to respecting the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings, whether they are U.S. citizens or prisoners of war.” [...]

Since the abuses first came to light with the publication of photos of prisoners at Abu Ghraib 13 months ago, the Pentagon has carried out dozens of reviews, courts-martial, and disciplinary proceedings. But virtually all of them have dealt only with the responsibility of the soldiers who carried out the abuses or their immediate superiors.

The failure to address the responsibility of officials and officers at the top of the command chain, particularly in light of the disclosure of memos which appeared to authorize at least some of the tactics carried out against detainees, has provoked repeated demands by human rights groups to appoint an independent commission to conduct a thorough examination. Last summer, the 400,000-lawyer American Bar Association joined Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in those demands.

But the Bush administration has rejected them, arguing that the Pentagon's own efforts to investigate and prosecute abuses were adequate. The Republican leadership in Congress has also paralyzed efforts by Democratic and some Republican lawmakers to create a commission.

The refusal to investigate translates into effective "tolerance" for torture and mistreatment, Schulz said, resulting not only in the spread of such practices but also in the destruction of U.S. credibility when it assails other countries, such as Syria or Egypt, for human rights violations.

"It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. government itself to use the very torture techniques that it routinely condemns in other countries," he said. "When the U.S. government then calls upon foreign leaders to bring to justice those who commit or authorize human rights violations in their own countries, why should those foreign leaders listen?" [...]

Other documents released Wednesday by the ACLU provided accounts of beatings, planned suicide attempts, hunger strikes to protest mistreatment, and sexual assaults, including an incident in which a female guard fondled a detainee's genitals while he was held down by male guards.

"The United States government continues to turn a blind eye to mounting evidence of widespread abuse of detainees held in its custody," said ACLU director Anthony Romero. "If we are to truly repair America's standing in the world, the Bush administration must hold accountable high-ranking officials who allow the continuing abuse and torture of detainees.

Comment: While the attempts by the ACLU and Amnesty to call to account those high level Bush administration officials that have clearly sanctioned the torture of innocent men, women and children is admirable, the control that these same people exercise over all aspects of American political life means that the world's public are unlikely to ever see any prosecutions.

As for the idea of "repairing America's standing in the world"; the simple truth is that the only standing America ever really had in the world was based upon lies and propaganda that covered up the unsavory truth that has recently been exposed for all to see.

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The Tillman Scandal: 'Newsweek' Error Bad, Pentagon Lying OK?
By Greg Mitchell
(May 24, 2005)

In the week after the magazine's retraction, where is the comparable outrage over the military's cover-up of the "friendly fire" death of Pat Tillman? His family is angry, but why is there so little attention on the press and public also being misled? And where is a Scott McClellan lecture on ethics and credibility?

-- Where, in the week after the Great Newsweek Error, is the comparable outrage in the press, in the blogosphere, and at the White House over the military's outright lying in the coverup of the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman? Where are the calls for apologies to the public and the firing of those responsible? Who is demanding that the Pentagon's word should never be trusted unless backed up by numerous named and credible sources?

Where is a Scott McClellan lecture on ethics and credibility?

The Tillman scandal is back in the news thanks not to the military coming clean but because of a newspaper account. Ironically, the newspaper in question, The Washington Post -- which has taken the lead on this story since last December -- is corporate big brother to Newsweek.

The Post's Josh White reported this week that Tillman's parents are now ripping the Army, saying that the military's investigations into their son's 2004 "friendly fire" death in Afghanistan was a sham based on "lies" and that the Army cover-up made it harder for them to deal with their loss. They are speaking out now because they have finally had a chance to look at the full records of the military probe.

"Tillman's mother and father said in interviews that they believe the military and the government created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a patriotic response across the country," White reported.

While military officials' lying to the parents have gained wide publicity in the past two days, hardly anyone has mentioned that they also lied to the public and to the press, which dutifully carried one report after another based on the Pentagon's spin. It had happened many times before, as in the Jessica Lynch incident.

Tillman was killed in a barrage of gunfire from his own men, mistaken for the enemy on a hillside near the Pakistan border. "Immediately," the Post reported, "the Army kept the soldiers on the ground quiet and told Tillman's family and the public that he was killed by enemy fire while storming a hill, barking orders to his fellow Rangers." Tillman posthumously received the Silver Star for his "actions."

The latest military investigation, exposed by the Post earlier this month, "showed that soldiers in Afghanistan knew almost immediately that they had killed Tillman by mistake in what they believed was a firefight with enemies on a tight canyon road. The investigation also revealed that soldiers later burned Tillman's uniform and body armor."

Patrick Tillman Sr., the father -- a lawyer, as it happens -- said he blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public. "After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," he told the Post. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."

"Maybe lying's not a big deal anymore," he said. "Pat's dead, and this isn't going to bring him back. But these guys should have been held up to scrutiny, right up the chain of command, and no one has."

Mary Tillman, the mother, complained to the Post that the government used her son for weeks after his death. She said she was particularly offended when President Bush offered a taped memorial message to Tillman at a Cardinals football game shortly before the presidential election last fall.

Newsweek made a bad mistake in its recent report on Koran abuse at Guantanamo. But it was a mistake, not outright lying. Yet the same critics who blasted the magazine -- and the media in general -- are not demanding that same contrition or penalties for anyone in the military.

One Newsweek critic after another has asked in the past week that the media come up with just one case where they erred on the side of making the military look good, not bad. One hopes the Tillman example takes care of that request, though there are, of course, many others.

It is worth looking back at how Steve Coll of the Washington Post last December described the early weeks of the Pentagon spin on Tillman:

"Just days after Pat Tillman died from friendly fire on a desolate ridge in southeastern Afghanistan," Coll wrote, "the U.S. Army Special Operations Command released a brief account of his last moments.

"The April 30, 2004, statement awarded Tillman a posthumous Silver Star for combat valor and described how a section of his Ranger platoon came under attack.

"'He ordered his team to dismount and then maneuvered the Rangers up a hill near the enemy's location,' the release said. 'As they crested the hill, Tillman directed his team into firing positions and personally provided suppressive fire. ... Tillman's voice was heard issuing commands to take the fight to the enemy forces.'

"It was a stirring tale and fitting eulogy for the Army's most famous volunteer in the war on terrorism, a charismatic former pro football star whose reticence, courage and handsome beret-draped face captured for many Americans the best aspects of the country's post-Sept. 11 character.

"It was also a distorted and incomplete narrative, according to dozens of internal Army documents obtained by The Washington Post that describe Tillman's death by fratricide after a chain of botched communications, a misguided order to divide his platoon over the objection of its leader and undisciplined firing by fellow Rangers.

"The Army's public release made no mention of friendly fire, even though at the time it was issued, investigators in Afghanistan had already taken at least 14 sworn statements from Tillman's platoon members that made clear the true causes of his death.

"But the Army's published account not only withheld all evidence of fratricide, but also exaggerated Tillman's role and stripped his actions of their context. ... The Army's April 30 news release was just one episode in a broader Army effort to manage the uncomfortable facts of Pat Tillman's death, according to internal records and interviews."

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Sick strategies for senseless slaughter
By John Kaminski - May 24, 2005

The cat is out of the bag now.

It happened quite by accident, as most revelations do. And it is seen by most of the world as the most revolting of the American/Israeli atrocities in the past few years, although it's hard to prioritize that claim because of the level and frequency of barbaric acts that are committed on a regular basis by those affluent automatons who call themselves the good guys.

Yet everyone but the comatose American populace — blinded by its Orwellian media and stupefied by its demented diet of physical and mental poisons — can see it.

So permit me to spell it out for those cowardly people who say they're living in the freest country on Earth, but absolutely refuse in their silent ignorance to see the blood they're spilling. No country that condones deliberate torture for any reason can ever be trusted.

The first hint came in Imad Khadduri's "A warning to car drivers" written in Arabic and posted on on May 11. The dispatch was quickly picked up by two of the most realistic and reliable news sites on the Web,, which I try to read every day, and, which I try to read every week, since it offers less breaking and more analytical news. I consider these two sites essential to keeping up with the real news of the world, and highly recommend that you monitor them, too.

Khadduri recounted a scam that opens up a clear window to seeing who is perpetrating all this inexplicable violence in Iraq. Beyond the American attempt to pacify an outraged and abused nation through demonic destruction, and beyond the Iraqi attempt to resist this totalitarian takeover by a foreign conqueror, there are more than numerous acts of violence that simply can't be understood by straightforward explanations.

I mean, when a mosque blows up and Americans blame Islamic terrorists, whether Sunni or Shiite, it makes no sense. Muslims never blow up their own houses of worship. Or when reporters sympathetic to either the Iraqi cause of freedom, or even just general principles of international justice, are suddenly assassinated and the blame is placed on often imaginary Islamic extremists whose perspective is supported by these writers, how can anyone believe that Muslims did it, even thought this is what the Zionist American press and government continue to insist.

So who’s doing all these demented deeds? As if we didn’t know ....

Khadduri’s report went like this:

“A few days ago, an American manned check point confiscated the driver license of a driver and told him to report to an American military camp near Baghdad airport for interrogation and in order to retrieve his license. The next day, the driver did visit the camp and he was allowed in the camp with his car. He was admitted to a room for an interrogation that lasted half an hour. At the end of the session, the American interrogator told him: ‘OK, there is nothing against you, but you do know that Iraq is now sovereign and is in charge of its own affairs. Hence, we have forwarded your papers and license to al-Kadhimia police station for processing. Therefore, go there with this clearance to reclaim your license. At the police station, ask for Lt. Hussain Mohammed, who is waiting for you now. Go there now quickly, before he leaves his shift work”.

The driver did leave in a hurry, but was soon alarmed with a feeling that his car was driving as if carrying a heavy load, and he also became suspicious of a low flying helicopter that kept hovering overhead, as if trailing him. He stopped the car and inspected it carefully. He found nearly 100 kilograms of explosives hidden in the back seat and along the two back doors.

The only feasible explanation for this incident is that the car was indeed booby trapped by the Americans and intended for the al-Khadimiya Shiite district of Baghdad. The helicopter was monitoring his movement and witnessing the anticipated “hideous attack by foreign elements”.

The same scenario was repeated in Mosul, in the north of Iraq. A car was confiscated along with the driver’s license. He did follow up on the matter and finally reclaimed his car but was told to go to a police station to reclaim his license. Fortunately for him, the car broke down on the way to the police station. The inspecting car mechanic discovered that the spare tire was fully laden with explosives."

If this were the only example of this type I heard, I might have let it pass as just a story. But it wasn’t.

There was also the sorry tale of the Iraqi man who saw American soldiers plant a bomb which shortly thereafter exploded, and when he said so out loud for all to hear, he was hauled away, never to be seen again.

This story was reported on arguably the most authentic and riveting source of news from Iraq, the heart-rending "Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq," which is compiled by someone known only as Riverbend or Iraqi Girl. Again, recommended reading.

She recounts, "the last two weeks have been violent ....

The number of explosions in Baghdad alone is frightening. There have also been several assassinations — bodies being found here and there. It's somewhat disturbing to know that corpses are turning up in the most unexpected places. Many people will tell you it's not wise to eat river fish anymore because they have been nourished on the human remains being dumped into the river. That thought alone has given me more than one sleepless night. It is almost as if Baghdad has turned into a giant graveyard.

The latest corpses were those of some Sunni and Shia clerics — several of them well-known. People are being patient and there is a general consensus that these killings are being done to provoke civil war. Also worrisome is the fact that we are hearing of people being rounded up by security forces (Iraqi) and then being found dead days later — apparently when the new Iraqi government recently decided to reinstate the death penalty, they had something else in mind.
But back to the explosions. One of the larger blasts was in an area called Ma'moun, which is a middle class area located in west Baghdad. It’s a relatively calm residential area with shops that provide the basics and a bit more. It happened in the morning, as the shops were opening up for their daily business and it occurred right in front of a butcher’s shop. Immediately after, we heard that a man living in a house in front of the blast site was hauled off by the Americans because it was said that after the bomb went off, he sniped an Iraqi National Guardsman.

I didn’t think much about the story — nothing about it stood out: an explosion and a sniper — hardly an anomaly. The interesting news started circulating a couple of days later. People from the area claim that the man was taken away not because he shot anyone, but because he knew too much about the bomb. Rumor has it that he saw an American patrol passing through the area and pausing at the bomb site minutes before the explosion. Soon after they drove away, the bomb went off and chaos ensued. He ran out of his house screaming to the neighbors and bystanders that the Americans had either planted the bomb or seen the bomb and done nothing about it. He was promptly taken away.

The bombs are mysterious. Some of them explode in the midst of National Guard and near American troops or Iraqi Police and others explode near mosques, churches, and shops or in the middle of sougs. One thing that surprises us about the news reports of these bombs is that they are inevitably linked to suicide bombers. The reality is that some of these bombs are not suicide bombs — they are car bombs that are either being remotely detonated or maybe time bombs. All we know is that the techniques differ and apparently so do the intentions. Some will tell you they are resistance. Some say Chalabi and his thugs are responsible for a number of them. Others blame Iran and the SCIRI militia Badir.

In any case, they are terrifying. If you're close enough, the first sound is a that of an earsplitting blast and the sounds that follow are of a rain of glass, shrapnel and other sharp things. Then the wails begin — the shrill mechanical wails of an occasional ambulance combined with the wail of car alarms from neighboring vehicles… and finally the wail of people trying to sort out their dead and dying from the debris.

Then there was this one.

On May 13, 2005, a 64 years old Iraqi farmer, Haj Haidar Abu Sijjad, took his tomato load in his pickup truck from Hilla to Baghdad, accompanied by Ali, his 11 years old grandson. They were stopped at an American check point and were asked to dismount. An American soldier climbed on the back of the pickup truck, followed by another a few minutes later, and thoroughly inspected the tomato filled plastic containers for about 10 minutes. Haj Haidar and his grandson were then allowed to proceed to Baghdad.

A minute later, his grandson told him that he saw one of the American soldiers putting a grey melon size object in the back among the tomato containers. The Haj immediately slammed on the brakes and stopped the car at the side of the road, at a relatively far distance from the check point. He found a time bomb with the clock ticking tucked among his tomatoes. He immediately recognized it, as he was an ex-army soldier. Panicking, he grabbed his grandson and ran away from the car. Then, realizing that the car was his only means of work, he went back, took the bomb and carried it in fear. He threw it in a deep ditch by the side of the road that was dug by Iraqi soldiers in preparation for the war, two years ago.

Upon returning from Baghdad, he found out that the bomb had indeed exploded, killing three sheep and injuring their shepherd in his head. He thanked God for giving him the courage to go back and remove the bomb, and for the luck in that the American soldiers did not notice his sudden stop at a distance and his getting rid of the bomb.

"They intended it to explode in Baghdad and claim that it is the work of the 'terrorists', or 'insurgents' or who call themselves the 'Resistance'.

I decided to expose them and asked your reporter to take me to Baghdad to tell you the story. They are to be exposed as they now want to sow strife in Iraq and taint the Resistance after failing to defeat it militarily.

Do not forget to mention my name. I fear nobody but God, as I am a follower of Muqtada al-Sadir."

The background and admission of guilt for such satanic shenanigans was clearly outlined in Frank Morales' piece on "The Provocateur State: Is the CIA Behind the Iraqi 'Insurgents' and Global Terrorism" clearly demonstrates how Donald Rumsfeld said he was going to do exactly what these three sorry episodes show he actually did.

Morales writes:

Back in 2002, following the trauma of 9-11, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld predicted there would be more terrorist attacks against the American people and civilization at large. How could he be so sure of that? Perhaps because these attacks would be instigated on the order of the Honorable Mr. Rumsfeld. According to Los Angeles Times military analyst William Arkin, writing Oct. 27, 2002, Rumsfeld set out to create a secret army, "a super-Intelligence Support Activity" network that would "bring together CIA and military covert action, information warfare, intelligence, and cover and deception," to stir the pot of spiraling global violence.

We never got the full story on those ghastly beheadings of Nick Berg and others. Nor have we ever understood who killed the American mercenaries in Fallujah that eventually precipitated one of the great slaughters in history. Nor have we ever been able to discern if Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is actually a real person or just another bin Ladenesque boogeyman. Nor if the al-Qaeda website which claims responsibility for various atrocities is not really run by the CIA.

Provoking this type of violence also further conceals the sinister genocide the Israelis continue to perpetrate on the hapless Palestinians, which is exactly its point, as is the entire Iraq invasion and destruction, and as was the inside job mass murder on 9/11 in New York City. The purpose of all these despicable acts is to conceal what the Israelis and the Americans have been doing all along to the entire Arab world, namely enslaving and destroying it.

There is not now nor ever was an Arab terror threat. That was all invented by Rothschild, Rockefeller, Kissinger, Brzezinski, Bush, Cheney, Sharon, Zakheim, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams and Warren Buffett. These people are all traitors to not only their countries but to humanity in general, and should all be slammed and RICOed into Guantanamo immediately.

And so should the government officials, media lackeys, and ordinary citizens who, by their complicity or their ignorance, support them.

The main point in understanding these deliberate provocations to prevent peace is to understand how the American capitalist system, now hijacked by billionaires with no trace of conscience, thrives on war and profits from the misery of others.

The neocon murder menace has been for months ratcheting up the hyperbole about why we need to invade Iran — which some predict will happen in June — and just this week, rumors of troop movements in the Caribbean and lockdowns at Florida military bases appear to augur an imminent invasion of oil-producing Venezuela.

The overall plan is to create hell on Earth, and we are succeeding. By our silent complicity and cowardly reluctance to oppose and stop this homicidal behavior in the name of profit, we are all accessories to mass murder and the destruction of human society, not to even mention the extinction of individual human freedom and the God-given right to be safe and secure in the homes of our choice.

So now that you know, what are you going to do about it? You know if you do nothing, these same things will one day happen to you.

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Of Cabbages and Kings
May 26, 2005
by William S. Lind

Two weeks ago, a small, single-engine plane inadvertently strayed into the closed air space above Washington. The result was panic. Both the White House and the Capitol were evacuated, with police shouting "Run! Run!" at fleeing staffers and visitors. Senators and congressmen abandoned in haste the floors of their respective Houses. Various RIPs (Really Important People) were escorted to their Fuehrerbunkers. F-16s came close to shooting the Cessna down.

The whole episode would have been funny if it weren't so sad. As an historian, I could think of nothing other than the behavior of an earlier profile in courage, the Persian king Darius, at the battle of Issus. As the Roman historian Arrian described it,

"The moment the Persian left went to pieces under Alexander's attack and Darius, in his war chariot, saw that it was cut off, he incontinently fled – indeed, he led the race for safety … dropping his shield and stripping off his mantle – even leaving his bow in the war-chariot – he leapt upon a horse and rode for his life."

Not surprisingly, Darius' army was less than keen to fight to the death for its illustrious leader. As one British officer said, commenting on U.S. Marines' love of running for exercise, "We prefer our officers not to run. It can discourage the troops."

I suspect that more than a few of our soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, enjoying as they do a daily diet of IEDs, ambushes and mortarings, were less than amused at watching Washington flee from a flea. More importantly, what message does such easy panic send to the rest of the world? Osama bin Laden has whole armies trying to kill him, but as best I know he has shown no signs of fear. Here again we see the power of the moral level of war. In cultures less decadent than our own, few men are likely to identify with leaders who fill their pants at one tiny blip on a radar screen.

The episode also reveals what has become one of the main characteristics of America's "homeland defense:" a total inability to use common sense. We have already seen that in our airport security procedures, our de facto open borders immigration policy, and the idiotic "PATRIOT Act." Here, it seems that no one was willing to act on the obvious, namely that if a small plane is approaching Washington, it is probably because the pilot got lost (which pilots do frequently). Why? Because to bureaucracies what is important is not external reality but covering your own backside politically. Putting on shows serves that purpose well, even if the shows make us look like both fools and cowards.

There was also a message to the American people in the Cessna affair, and from a Fourth Generation perspective it was not a helpful one. The message was that the safety of the New Class in Washington is far more important than the safety of other Americans. As the first really serious terrorist incident is likely to show, America remains ill-prepared either to prevent or to deal with the consequences of a suitcase nuke or an induced plague. Not only will ordinary people die in large numbers, but it will be realized in retrospect that many of the deaths could have been avoided had the New Class cared about anyone other than itself. But, of course, it doesn't.

As I have said many times before, what lies at the heart of Fourth Generation war is a crisis of legitimacy of the state. In America, that crisis can only be intensified by any instance where the Washington elite draws a distinction between itself and the rest of the country. When the same people who have sent our kids to die in Iraq and left our borders wide open run in panic because of a Cessna, the American people get the message: Washington is "them," not "us." At some point, that gap may grow wide enough to swallow the state itself. Kings who become cabbages, like Darius, end up history's losers.

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Helen Thomas vs. Scott McClellan: Round 3,628
May 25, 2005

MR. McCLELLAN: That's all I have to update at this moment. And with that, I'll be glad to go to your questions.

Q: The other day -- in fact, this week, you said that we, the United States, is in Afghanistan and Iraq by invitation. Would you like to correct that incredible distortion of American history --

Comment: Note that the emphasis in the above statement is not ours; it is included in the original White House transcript of the press conference.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we are -- that's where we currently --

Q: -- in view of your credibility is already mired? How can you say that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I think everyone in this room knows that you're taking that comment out of context. There are two democratically-elected governments in Iraq and --

Q: We're we invited into Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: There are two democratically-elected governments now in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments, and we are there today --

Q: You mean if they had asked us out, that we would have left?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, Helen, I'm talking about today. We are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments --

Q: I'm talking about today, too.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and we are doing all we can to train and equip their security forces so that they can provide for their own security as they move forward on a free and democratic future.

Q: Did we invade those countries?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve. [...]

Comment: Perhaps the only reason that Helen Thomas hasn't been sent to Guantanamo is so that Bush administration officials like Rummy can complain that the press is hurting the war on terror. Little old lady or not, she'll get her turn, along with many others, if Rumsfeld and the rest of the Neocons have their way.

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US terror laws 'creating a new generation of the disappeared'
By Kim Sengupta and Anne Penketh
The Independent
26 May 2005

The United States is condoning torture and abuse in the name of the war on terror, setting up a latter-day Gulag and creating a new generation of the "disappeared", according to Amnesty International.

A report from the human rights group accuses governments from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe of systematic and often brutal erosion of civil rights.

But its most scathing criticism is directed at the US, for using the 11 September attacks as an excuse to ignore international law, and for creating a network of supplicant nations to "sub-contract" illegal detention and mistreatment.

Britain is also criticised for attempting to put its soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond the reach of human rights laws and, on occasion, "blindly following the United States" down the path of abuse.

Amnesty criticises British ministers who have tried to justify the use of evidence in courts obtained through mistreatment. The organisation's secretary general, Irene Khan, said: "To argue that torture is warranted is to push us back to the Middle Ages."

Comment: Well, sure - that's the idea. Bush and gang will be "royalty", and the rest of us will be their servants.

The international community failed to answer calls for help when mass abuse was taking place, Amnesty says.

In the Sudanese region of Darfur, the United Nations stopped short of describing the violence against civilians as genocide. Amnesty says the UN was "held hostage" to Russian arms-trade interests and Chinese oil interests when it debated Sudan.

There had been a similar lack of action in other parts of Africa, including Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the international community seemingly impotent to act against human rights abuse.

Ms Khan said the rest of the world took its lead from the US. "Guantanamo has become the Gulag of our time, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law."

The US Defence Department responded to the report, saying that "the detention of enemy combatants is not criminal in nature, but to prevent them from continuing to fight against the United States".

It said review tribunals "provided an appropriate venue for detainees to meaningfully challenge their enemy combatant designation", and added that abuse allegations were investigated.

Comment: Note that US leaders don't ever really defend themselves against the allegations of torturing prisoners and violating international law. No facts or evidence is provided to support the government's denials of wrongdoing. With the complicity of the mass media, all that is required is an endless repetition of the same lies. Mass denial in the minds of the majority of the people does the rest of the work.

Of course, many Americans are fighting the creeping fascism...

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Librarian stands up to FBI

Refuses to turn over list of users who checked out bin Laden book
May 26, 2005

A librarian in Washington state stood up to the FBI after it demanded internal patron information – and she won.

Joan Airoldi, director of the library district in Whatcom County, Wash., between Seattle and Bellingham, told her story in an op-ed piece in USA Today.

"It was a moment that librarians had been dreading," Airoldi writes in the opening of her column.

She explains that in June, an FBI agent stopped into one of the district's branches and requested a list of people who had borrowed a biography of Osama bin Laden.

"We said no," Airoldi wrote.

"We did not take this step lightly. First, our attorney called the local FBI office and asked why the information was important. She was told that one of our patrons had sent the FBI the book after discovering these words written in the margin: 'If the things I'm doing is considered a crime, then let history be a witness that I am a criminal. Hostility toward America is a religious duty and we hope to be rewarded by God.'"

It turns out that quote is quite similar to a line from a bin Laden statement uttered during a 1998 interview.

The library told the FBI it would have to go through legal channels to request the information, which it did. A week later, the agency served a subpoena on the library demanding a list of everyone who had borrowed the book since November 2001.

Wrote Airoldi: "Our trustees faced a difficult decision. It is our job to protect the right of people to obtain the books and other materials they need to form and express ideas. If the government can easily obtain records of the books that our patrons are borrowing, they will not feel free to request the books they want. Who would check out a biography of bin Laden knowing that this might attract the attention of the FBI?"

Comment: What a wonderful way to make sure the population remains uninformed and easily hoodwinked!

The library trustees, Airoldi explained, had to balance privacy rights with its desire to help the government fight terrorism. It decided to fight the subpoena in court, and 15 days later the FBI dropped its demand.

Airoldi mentioned the experience heightened her sensitivity to the ramifications of the USA Patriot Act:

"There is a shadow over our happy ending. Our experience taught us how easily the FBI could have discovered the names of the borrowers, how readily this could happen in any library in the USA. It also drove home for us the dangers that the USA Patriot Act poses to reader privacy."

The librarian explains that since the passage of the Patriot Act in October 2001, the FBI has the power to go to a secret court to request library and bookstore records considered relevant to a national security investigation. It does not have to show that the people whose records are sought are suspected of any crime or explain why they are being investigated. In addition, librarians and booksellers are forbidden to reveal that they have received an order to surrender customer data.

Concludes Airoldi: "Fortunately for our patrons, we were able to mount a successful challenge to what seems to have been a fishing expedition. If it had returned with an order from a secret court under the Patriot Act, the FBI might now know which residents in our part of Washington State had simply tried to learn more about bin Laden.

"With a Patriot Act order in hand, I would have been forbidden to disclose even the fact that I had received it and would not have been able to tell this story."

In an e-mail praising Airoldi, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership warned of what it perceives as Patriot Act dangers.

"If somebody else's margin scribble in a library book is enough to put you on the FBI's suspect list, then do you have more liberty or less?" the group asks. "Secret courts with unreviewable court order powers – are these more a feature of free countries or of police states?"

The firearms group, believing "conservative" commentators are too supportive of the Patriot Act, concluded: "We salute Library Director Joan Airoldi's courage, and that of her library's board, in standing up for the rights of Americans. We challenge the conservative media community to applaud Ms. Airoldi also. Regretfully, we expect the conservative media folks to ignore the story totally, and that is a sad commentary indeed."

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Flashback: 'N.Y. Times' Gets Documents on Post-9/11 Saudi Flights from U.S.
By E&P Staff
March 27, 2005

NEW YORK It appears that filmmaker Michaeol Moore was on to something after all. Newly released government records reveal previously undisclosed flights and a very active role by the FBI in helping Saudis to leave the United States immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed," The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act suit against the Justice Department by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group. It provided copies to the Times.

The Times reports: "The Saudi families, in Los Angeles and Orlando, requested the F.B.I. escorts because they said they were concerned for their safety in the wake of the attacks, and the F.B.I. -- which was then beginning the biggest criminal investigation in its history -- arranged to have agents escort them to their local airports, the documents show.

"But F.B.I. officials reacted angrily, both internally and publicly, to the suggestion that any Saudis had received preferential treatment in leaving the country. ...

"The material sheds new light on the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and it provides details about the F.B.I.'s interaction with at least 160 Saudis who were living in or visiting the United States and were allowed to leave the country. Some of the departing Saudis were related to Osama bin Laden."

The chartered flights were arranged when many flights in the United States were still grounded, and were featured in Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." White House officials have strongly denied any special treatment for the Saudis, calling such charges irresponsible and politically motivated.

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch have major passages deleted. But the records show that prominent Saudi citizens left the United States on several flights that had not been previously disclosed.

Comment: So the FBI, i.e. the Bush government, was concerned for the welfare of members of Bin Laden's family just a few hours after the 9/11 attacks. This fact alone speaks volumes about the true nature of the 9/11 attacks and the resulting bogus "war on terror".

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FBI has secret docs it's reticent to give up

Judge ordered disclosure of info on informants that could shed light on Oklahoma City tragedy
May 25, 2005

The FBI says it has located 340 documents related to the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, documents that could reveal damaging information about what the agency and its informants knew about the mass murder plot, reports the McCurtain Daily Gazette.

According to the report in the McCurtain County, Okla., paper, the documents address the monitoring of the bombing by FBI informants, Alabama attorney Morris Dees and Dees' organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Writes reporter J.D. Cash in the Gazette: "If proven true, the ramifications of such disclosures would be far-reaching. Not only could the discovery of these documents lead to additional arrests and prosecutions in the OKC bombing case, but evidence of a cover-up of a sting operation involving the FBI and a private charity could ruin a number of careers of highly placed individuals."

The documents are part of an extensive filing made in federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday. A court order was obtained by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue, the plaintiff in a Freedom of Information suit against the Oklahoma City FBI office, the Gazette reported. Trentadue has been seeking evidence in the untimely death of his brother, whose body was found beaten and slashed while the inmate awaited a parole violation hearing.

Trentadue believes his brother was tortured and killed by government agents who mistakenly thought he was involved with executed killer Timothy McVeigh and others in a string of bank robberies and the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.

After learning the FBI was involved in a sting operation with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Trentadue, the Gazette reports, sought a copy of two teletypes from former FBI Director Louis Freeh that discussed the undercover operation "that proved the FBI knew in advance McVeigh's plans for bombing a federal building."

The FBI initially denied it had the teletypes, but after Trentadue produced redacted copies of them, he went to court to force the FBI to cough up copies of their original un-redacted versions.

On May 5, U.S. District Court Judge Dale A. Kimball ordered the FBI to turn over un-redacted copies of two teletypes sent by Freeh to a select group of FBI field offices, including the OKBOMB task force in Oklahoma City. Kimball's order also included instructions to perform an extensive search for other records involving McVeigh, his alleged co-conspirators and informants working for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The paper reported that, according to a Jan. 4, 1996, teletype, Freeh disclosed the Southern Poverty Law Center had an informant at the white supremacist Elohim City compound when McVeigh called the facility requesting assistance with his plans. The teletype said the call was made on April 17, 1995 – 48 hours before a truck bomb destroyed the Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 persons and injuring 500 more.

For years, the FBI has repeatedly denied the agency had any prior knowledge of the bomb plot.

The FBI now says it has found 340 documents that could also link the SPLC to McVeigh, Elohim City and members of the Aryan Republican Army.

On Monday, the FBI proposed several alternatives to turning over the documents listed in Kimball's order, saying it did not have time to comply with the judge's order to turn over the material Trentadue is seeking by June 15.

Said an agency representative: "In the past, the backlog in the FOIPA Section has been exacerbated by the high volume of administrative appeals that will require review and response by the FBI's FOIPA Section personnel. … At the present time, the FBI is involved in over 150 pending lawsuits in various federal district and appellate courts throughout the United States."

The agency further argued that revealing the elements of its intelligence-gathering operation at Elohim City would not be in the best interests of the nation.

Comment: No doubt. If the people actually knew what agencies like the FBI have done in their name...

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Oklahoma -Ten Years On and Still The Truth Lies Buried
SOTT Analysis
April 19, 2005

"Coincidences just aren't coincidences, there's some reason for it."

So said former FBI agent Danny Coulson in an April 17th Fox news report which investigates (to the extent that Fox news really investigates anything) the possiblity that McVeigh and Nichols were not alone in their alleged plot that blew up the Alfred P Murrah Building in Oklahoma on April 19th 1985, which killed 168 people.

The Fox report tell us:

One month after the bombing, authorities demolished what was left of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Officials said the implosion was a necessary part of the psychological recovery for the citizens of Oklahoma City. But critics question the FBI's tactics and argue the building came down too soon and the implosion is one piece of a government cover-up.

Survivor VZ Lawton remembers the events after the attack.

"I was in my office at my desk signing papers and all of a sudden the building began to shake," said Lawton. "The lights went out, debris started falling and then something hit me on the head and knocked me out before the truck bomb ever went off."

The above paragraph is the most interesting of the entire Fox report, yet Fox completely ignores it, preferring to continue on with its implications that the "Aryan Republican Army" were the hidden accomplices and that the US government, for some reason, does not want this revealed to the public. The fact that a survivor of the explosion reported that the building began to shake and debris started to fall BEFORE McVeigh's alleged fertiliser truck bomb went off, is apparently not interesting to the pundits at Fox. The report reveals a number of other rather interesting facts which Fox either overlooks or attempts to use to further its "domestic terrorism" schtick. For example:

"Pictures made from surveillance video at the Regency Tower Apartments are the only images related to the attack that have been released to the public.

Oklahoma City attorney Michael Johnston said the FBI was not given all the tapes from as many as twenty-five cameras that he says were in and around the Murrah Building.

"If they're really non-consequential, it wouldn't hurt anything. If indeed they show something I think the American public, after a decade, has the right to know," he said.

Johnston, on behalf of twenty-five victims' families, filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for all of the surveillance videos. FOX News also filed a FOI request. The FBI has denied both cases on account that the case is still open.

We wonder how many other videotapes of defining "terror" moments in US history the FBI has stashed away. Yet it was not only video tape evidence that the FBI refused to release in the Oklahoma bombing case, they also refused to hand over more than 3,000 pages of documents to the defence lawyers of Timothy McVeigh, who was subsequently executed by the US government. Pat Shannan of American Free Press has done much research into the events of the Oklahoma bombing and we present below an excerpt of his article FEDERAL MURDER INC. TIED TO OKC TERROR BOMBING:

It has been nearly 10 years since Oklahoma City's Murrah building was blown apart one quiet April morning. Contrary to news reports, the persons found guilty and sentenced for the Murrah bombing atrocity could not have been solely responsible. An Oklahoma City police sergeant became aware of this before anyone else, apparently during the first hour of rescue. He paid for that discovery with his life.

Yeakey, an African-American hero if there ever was one, was a giant of a man with a heart as big as the rest of him. As the first cop on the Murrah building scene following the explosions, he became a crusader for truth.

There is a memorable news photo of his 6-foot, 3-inch, nearly 300-pound frame sprinting down NW 5th Street toward the building on one of the many rescue missions he performed that ugly day. He worked for 48 hours without sleep.

After numerous private investigators produced evidence of multiple explosions, unexploded bombs being hauled away by the authorities, and the incapability of an ammonium nitrate fuel oil bomb to cause the kind of devastation seen in downtown Oklahoma City, a giant government cover-up became obvious.

But Yeakey knew it long before the rest of us. Only a couple of hours into the rescue, Yeakey became painfully aware of something disturbing. Did he somehow figure out that the building had been blown from the inside and that the news reports were fabrications?

Did he overhear a strange conversation from some of the many Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) agents who were on the scene sooner than they should have been?

Whatever it was, Yeakey was upset. He called his wife that morning crying, "It's not true. It's not what they are saying. It didn't happen that way."

Yeakey ran back and forth into that concrete mess of bricks and mortar all day long and continued beyond exhaustion, far into the night.

In a cadre of heroes that day, Yeakey's performance was outstanding. On May 11, the following year he was scheduled to receive the Medal of Valor from the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD). He never got it. He was murdered on May 8, 1996, in the country, two and a half miles west of the El Reno Penitentiary. His body was found a mile from his blood-soaked car.

The official report said "suicide." However, many people who knew Yeakey have questioned that, as the inside of Terry's private automobile was described by witnesses as looking like someone had "butchered a hog" on the front seat. There was much blood on the back seat, too, but little or none where his body was found a mile away.

More suspiciously, his private bombing reports were missing from his car and have never been found.

According to the report, while still inside his Ford Probe that he had parked on a lonely country road, Yeakey slashed himself 11 times on both forearms before cutting his throat twice near the jugular vein. Then, apparently seeking an even more private place to die, he crawled 8,000 feet through rough terrain and climbed a fence before shooting himself in the head with a small caliber revolver, which he apparently took with him to the hereafter.

Independent investigators speculated that had Yeakey shot himself with his own gun, a Glock 9mm, there would have been significantly more damage to his head than was evident.

What appeared to be rope burns on his neck, handcuff bruises to his wrists, and muddy grass embedded in his slash wounds strongly indicated that he had some help in traversing his final distance.

However, the information about the victim undergoing a violent beating prior to his "suicide" was left off the medical examiner's report.

The bullet's entrance wound was in the right temple, above the eye. It went through the policeman's head and exited in the area of the left cheek, near the bottom of the earlobe line. The trajectory was from a 40-45 degree angle above his head. There were no powder burns.

According to unnamed officers, 40 or more law enforcement personnel were at the scene combing the area for the "suicide" weapon, but were unsuccessful for more than an hour.

But after an FBI helicopter landed at the scene carrying FBI SAC Bob Ricks, "Yeakey's weapon" was suddenly discovered only five minutes later. Of course, it was not Yeakey's police issue handgun, and the description of the weapon has never been made public, but the official record immediately became that of "suicide."

Yeakey had told friends that he was going out of town to hide or secure "evidence of a cover-up of the bombing by federal agents."

The case of Sgt. Terry Yeakey is only one of a myriad of dramatic stories that could be told - stories just waiting for Hollywood, but out of bounds for public consumption.

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By Pat Shannan
American Free Press

Amazing New Evidence Emerges in Oklahoma Bombing

A recent raid on the one-time home of Terry Nichols has uncovered more evidence implicating federal agents in the bombing of Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.

A source has told AFP that bomb components discovered at the former home of the OKC bombing accomplice have been linked to a federal informant who investigators believe lied during the trial of Timothy McVeigh, who was executed after his conviction in the bombing.

There are now serious allegations that the FBI, using an informer as a conduit, supplied McVeigh and Nichols with the blasting components the two used to construct explosive devices, one of which may have been employed in the tragic Oklahoma City bombing.

Although there was much recent media hoopla surrounding the March 31 FBI raid on Nichols's vacant home in Herington, Kan., the entire story, which is not being told by the mainstream media, suggests evidence of federal government complicity in events leading up to the OKC tragedy.

While the media reported that previously undiscovered explosives were found on the raid at Nichols's home, adding further fuel to widespread public belief that Nichols - and McVeigh - were solely responsible for the OKC bombing, there's much more to the story than meets the eye.

In fact, AFP has learned that Nichols himself apparently leaked the information about the previously undiscovered cache in his Kansas home.

Why Nichols did so is the real story behind the story that the media seems to be keeping under wraps. Nichols's apparent goal in sharing this information was to provide information not only to bust the man who allegedly supplied the material, an FBI informant named Roger Moore - Nichols being certain that Moore's fingerprints would be on the material - but also to expose the FBI's role in supplying Moore the material in the first place.

Those familiar with the details of the case say Nichols has evidently come to conclude - as have many independent investigators - that he (Nichols) and McVeigh were being manipulated prior to the bombing by federal authorities in what was intended to be a "sting" the feds would use as "proof" of their skill in tackling domestic "terrorist threats" from "radical right wing extremists."

However, it is believed, the sting went awry, possibly manipulated by others outside the loop, and the bombing occurred.

Now, in prison for life, Nichols evidently hopes to expose the role that Moore and his live-in girlfriend, Karen Anderson, played in the events.

Moore and Anderson gave testimony in the federal trial, helping to convict Nichols. But independent investigators have said all along - contradicting the FBI's reliance on Moore and Anderson - that their testimony was obviously perjured.

The problem for Nichols, though, is that the record has shown that Moore was an admitted FBI informant as long as a decade ago and may be still protected.

Moore, a Royal, Ark. gun dealer, claimed to have been robbed by McVeigh and Nichols of some 66 guns, cash and gold coins in November 1994. The FBI and federal prosecutors claimed that the proceeds were used to finance the OKC operation.

However, the defense team undermined that theory by producing a signed motel receipt proving McVeigh was in Akron, Ohio, on the date in question. This did not keep either the prosecutors or the news media from repeating the robbery story. It is still widely believed.

Moore, who used the alias "Bob Miller," according to Nichols, later changed his story and said that it definitely was not McVeigh and Nichols who had robbed him, but he apparently was attempting to plant the opposite impression at the time. Townspeople remembered Moore going from barroom to barbershop the week of the alleged robbery, describing McVeigh and asking if anyone had seen him in the area.

At the time, Moore was a confidential informant for two FBI agents named Ross and Hayes, out of the Hot Springs office. The two were the same agents who discovered the "stolen" guns in a sack behind the house trailer of Michael Fortier in Kingman, Ariz., a few days after the bombing.

Fortier was later implicated in the conspiracy and is serving a 20-year sentence. AFP has learned that the FBI had the information as early as March 1. Agents had received this information purportedly from the mouth of Nichols through an oftused informant named Gregory Scarpa, who is a convicted mobster serving a long stretch with Nichols in Florence, Colo.

At first, FBI officials scoffed at the idea, but then sent a polygraph expert to the prison on March 4. He concluded that Scarpa was lying.

Scarpa then called private investigators he had worked with in the past and, during a seven-hour meeting on March 10, showed a letter in Nichols's handwriting attesting to his claim.

Not trusting the FBI, the investigators worked through a contact, who had high-level Homeland Security connections.

Then, on March 11, Scarpa provided the authorities with the address of the house and detailed descriptions of the location of the explosives.

Nichols had allegedly told Scarpa that he hid this second cache 10 years ago to be used as a follow-up to the Oklahoma City blast.

On March 31, the FBI finally made its move - calling in the Topeka bomb squad, evacuating the immediate neighborhood, and cordoning off a three-block area.

They worked through the night and into the next day.

The FBI would not confirm that its agents found anything, but mainstream news organizations were told by Oklahoma City's FBI office that explosive devices were found. What little surfaced in a period of predictable news frenzy, was that the FBI was embarrassed for not having found this material 10 years ago.

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CIA overseeing 3-day war game on Internet
AP Technology Writer
May 26,

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The CIA is conducting a secretive war game, dubbed "Silent Horizon," this week to practice defending against an electronic assault on the same scale as the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks.

The three-day exercise, ending Thursday, was meant to test the ability of government and industry to respond to escalating Internet disruptions over many months, according to participants. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the CIA asked them not to disclose details of the sensitive exercise taking place in Charlottesville, Va., about two hours southwest of Washington.

The simulated attacks were carried out five years in the future by a fictional alliance of anti-American organizations, including anti-globalization hackers. The most serious damage was expected to be inflicted in the war game's closing hours.

The national security simulation was significant because its premise - a devastating cyberattack that affects government and parts of the economy with the same magnitude as the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackings - contravenes assurances by U.S. counterterrorism experts that such far-reaching effects from a cyberattack are highly unlikely. Previous government simulations have modeled damage from cyberattacks more narrowly.

"You hear less and less about the digital Pearl Harbor," said Dennis McGrath, who helped run three similar war games for the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College. "What people call cyberterrorism, it's just not at the top of the list."

The CIA's little-known Information Operations Center, which evaluates threats to U.S. computer systems from foreign governments, criminal organizations and hackers, was running the war game. About 75 people, mostly from the CIA, gathered in conference rooms and reacted to signs of mock computer attacks.

The government remains most concerned about terrorists using explosions, radiation and biological threats. FBI Director Robert Mueller warned earlier this year that terrorists increasingly are recruiting computer scientists but said most hackers "do not have the resources or motivation to attack the U.S. critical information infrastructures." [...]

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By Robert I. Friedman

The World Trade Center bombing is the legacy of the CIA's disastrous policy of arming the mujahedeen in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Not only have Afghan war veterans been implicated in the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, but mujahedeen warlords also have become the world's biggest heroin producers, according to experts in the international drug trade.

The CIA's arms shipments and training program for the mujahedeen became one of its most massive covert operations, costing at least $2 billion, far surpassing U.S. support for the Nicaraguan contras. If anything, the battle for Afghanistan motivated the CIA more than the war against the Sandinistas. In Nicaragua, the CIA fought Soviet proxies. In Afghanistan, the enemy was the Soviet army, which invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.

Support for Nicaraguan and Afghani "freedom fighters" became the cornerstone of the so-called Reagan Doctrine-an attempt not just to contain Communism but to roll it back. While the contras were mostly a collection of former dictator Anastasio Somoza's street thugs, in Afghanistan the rebels were Islamic extremists and narco-terrorists who hated America as much as they despised the Godless Russians.

Billions of dollars of CIA money, matched by billions from Saudi Arabia (a quid pro quo for receiving AWAC surveillance planes over the adamant protests of the pro-Israel lobby), were passed through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International to the Afghan rebels. The bank was also used to channel funds to the contras. But no matter how much money the Afghan rebels received it never seemed to be enough. In order to augment their funds, rebel chieftains began to grow poppies, refine opium into heroin, and sell the drug in the U.S. and Europe. In 1979, Pakistan and Afghanistan exported virtually no heroin to the West. By 1981, the drug lords, many high-ranking members of Pakistan's political and military establishment, controlled 60 per cent of America's heroin market. "Trucks from the Pakistan army's National Logistics Cell arriving with CIA arms from Karachi often returned loaded with heroin-protected by ISI [Pakistan's internal security service] papers from police search," wrote Alfred McCoy in The Politics of Heroin (Lawrence Hill, 1991).

Of the seven rebel mujahedeen leaders who operated from base-camps in Peshawar, by far the most dominant is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received more than $1 billion in covert U.S. aid. Hekmatyar was an obscure Islamic fanatic before he was tapped by the CIA. Today, his forces are nine miles from Kabul, where until recently he was engaged in bloody battles against the Afghan army-indiscriminately raining tens of thousands of rockets and artillery shells on the nation's capital. A March 7 Pakistani-brokered peace accord named Hekmatyar Afghan's prime minister-designate.

All through the 1980s, Hekmatyar received accolades from the U.S. press, even though Asia Watch, among others, published gory reports about his human rights abuses. Hekmatyar brutally murdered rivals, then had their corpses ritually mutilated. "He really did dominate the Afghan refugee camps and was known among the refugees as being willing to retaliate against anyone who challenged his political authority," McCoy, a professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin, told the Voice. Only after the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989 did The New York Times criticize Hekmatyar's "sinister nature." The Times, however, never bothered to tell its readers that Hekmatyar is also among the world's biggest heroin dealers, a distinction he has enjoyed for nearly a decade. A May 1990 front-page article in The Washington Post charged that U.S. officials had ignored Afghani complaints of heroin trafficking by Hekmatyar and Pakistani intelligence. Some experts now believe that Hekmatyar will vastly increase Afghanistan's opium harvest when he becomes prime minister. "There were preliminary reports about six months ago based on interviews with UN personnel in the region that Afghanistan by itself could produce 3000 tons of opium," says McCoy. "Now that's nearly equivalent to the world's supply no matter how you calculate it. It's one little country and it's going to double the world's supply all by itself."

It's easier-and far more profitable-for the 4 to 5 million Afghans returning home from the refugee camps in Pakistan to plant poppies than rebuild their war-shattered economy, says McCoy. Afghanistan's agriculture was destroyed by the war and it will take a lot of nurturing to revive the groves of oranges, its principal cash crop before the war. Poppies need little tending and they will guarantee peasants an almost immediate income. "Opium is the ideal solution," says McCoy. "They can put it in and in six months they've got a harvest." But while Hekmatyar has inundated the U.S. and Europe with the potent powder, U.S. officials have remained silent.

Ruined citrus crops, a plague of heroin, and hundreds of thousands of casualties didn't deter the CIA from its holy war against communism in Afghanistan. "On the afternoon of February 15, 1989, the champagne began flowing at CIA headquarters," wrote Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Tim Weiner in Blank Check, a book about covert operations. "A rare exultation filled the air. After fifteen years of failure and humiliation, the Agency had won a famous victory. The last Soviet troops had left Afghanistan. The Agency's biggest covert action since the height of the Vietnam war had achieved its goal. The CIA had won its jihad."

The real winners, of course, are Hekmatyar and the tens of thousands of Islamic holy warriors -- trained and financed by the CIA -- who are today locked in a life and death struggle with America. According to this week's New Yorker, it was Hekmatyar who "most likely" introduced Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman to the American and Pakistani intelligence officials who were orchestrating the Afghan war when the sheikh visited Pakistan just prior to moving to Brooklyn in May 1990. As the Voice previously reported, the CIA almost certainly facilitated the sheikh's entry into the United States as a reward for helping the mujahedeen-despite his presence on a State Department terrorism watch list. Mahmud Abouhalima, an Afghan war vet and the sheikh's driver, has been indicted for his alleged involvement in the World Trade Center bombing. The wreckage and death caused by the blast is a depressing coda to the end of the Cold War. And thanks to the CIA's favorite freedom fighters, heroin addiction is again on the rise in America.

Comment: Not mentioned in the above is the fact that, in supporting the"mujahedeen", the CIA facilitated the overthrow of a Democractically elected Afghan government in the mid 1970's that was committed to stamping out fundamentalist Islam in the country. We are also now aware of the fact that these same Mujahedeen that were financed and trained by the CIA, later became known to the Western world as "the Taliban", a group whose very existence was recently used to justify the bombing, invasion and appropriation of the entire country of Afghanistan. We should also remember that the Islamic fundamentalists that were financed in Afghanistan throughout of the 70's, 80's and 90's by the CIA are known to us today as "al-Qaeda".

From Serendipity:

CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: "We'll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us." The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination.

These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator's security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be "communists" [or these days "terrorists"] but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.

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US House passes 491-billion defense bill with new money for Iraq war
Thu May 26, 3:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a 491-billion-dollar defense bill that contains new funds for the war in Iraq, but it rejected an attempt to force on the Bush administration a timetable for withdrawing troops from the country.

By a vote of 390-39 late Wednesday, lawmakers passed the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act that establishes spending ceilings and policies for the Pentagon and other agencies on matters ranging from military pay to weapons procurements to missile defense.

"This bill strikes the right balance," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert. "It shows that we're being responsible with taxpayer dollars while providing the tools needed to protect America from terrorists."

But just weeks after Congress signed off on more than 81 billion dollars to finance this year's military operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan, the House threw another 49.1 billion on the table.

The new funds will be used to equip army Humvee vehicles with armor plates to protect soldiers from roadside bombs, and purchase more night vision devices as well as improvised explosive device jammers, a new invention the military plans to use in its anti-insurgency campaign.

Facing a shortage of new National Guard and reserve recruits, lawmakers wrote in provisions that recommend increasing US Army and Marine Corps active duty personnel by 10,000 and 1,000 respectively and add hefty financial incentives for those serving in the ranks.

The measure provides for a 3.1-percent pay raise for all members of the armed forces and bolsters a monthly hardship benefit paid in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan by 150 percent.

But the House defeated an amendment that would have compelled the administration of President George W. Bush to lay out a specific timetable for pulling out from Iraq.

The amendment, proposed by California Democrat Lynn Woolsey, a firm opponent of the war, called on the president to develop a plan for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and submit it to Congress.

"Its time to give Iraq back to its own people," Woolsey said in the run-up to the vote. "And its time to truly support our troops -- by bringing them home."

Her motion, however, was rejected 128-300.

The bill also calls on the Pentagon to develop a new class of nuclear submarines, allocates millions for new aircraft and ships, and boosts the budget for the controversial national missile defense program by 100 million dollars.

It also authorizes four million dollars for continued research on "bunker buster" munitions, including their nuclear versions. [...]

In what is certain to become an irritant to China, the bill requires the defense secretary to launch a senior-level military exchange program with Taiwan to "preserve stability" across the Taiwan straits.

It also bars the Pentagon from awarding contracts to foreign companies selling weapons and military hardware to China, while offering incentives to those who refrain from such trade.

Women's groups claimed victory because the House dropped language that would have barred female soldiers from serving in military units that engage in direct combat. According to women's rights activists, this provision would have cost women more than 20,000 army jobs.

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Iraqi to deploy 40,000 troops in Baghdad
May 26, 2005

BAGHDAD - Iraq's defense minister announced a massive security operation on Thursday that will see more than 40,000 Iraqi troops deployed in the capital to hunt down insurgents and their weapons.

Sadoun al-Dulaimi said the force would include troops from the interior and defense ministries. It would be by far the largest anti-insurgent operation carried out in Baghdad by Iraqi security forces.

"We will divide Baghdad into seven main areas, and the number of the forces who will take part in the operation from the interior and the defense ministry will be more than 40,000 security men," he told a news conference.

He said it would be the first phase of a security crackdown that could eventually cover the whole country.

"We will also impose a concrete blockade around Baghdad, like a bracelet around an arm, God willing, and God be with us in our crackdown on the terrorists' infrastructure. No one will be able to penetrate this blockade," Dulaimi said.

"You will witness unprecedentedly strict security measures."

Comment: Gee, just like in a police state... In fact, it sounds like the old Iraq is back - only this time, its government is a true puppet of the Bush regime.

Interior Minister Bayan Jabor, appearing at the same news conference, said the operation was designed to change the government's stance when it came to the two-year-old insurgency.

"These operations will aim at turning the government's role from defensive to offensive," he said.

Comment: Jabor then remarked that he was confident that, with the wonderful training given to Iraqi security forces by the experienced US military and CIA, he was quite confident that all "insurgents" would be tortured and "disappeared" in a timely manner.

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Report: Calif. Sheriff Deputized 86 Friends
May 26, 2005

LOS ANGELES - A sheriff and one of his top aides deputized 86 of their friends, relatives and political contributors without checking their backgrounds, handing them limited arrest powers and guns in some cases, according to a newspaper investigation.

Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona and former Assistant Sheriff Donald Haidl named the volunteers in 1999, the year after Carona was elected, despite concerns raised by a county attorney and the state Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The background checks were completed only last year, sheriff's officials said.

Carona defended the appointments in an e-mail response to questions from the newspaper.

"Like any organization, the first group of individuals we reach out to for support and assistance is friends and family of the members of the organization," Carona wrote.

Of the 86 appointees, 29 contributed to Carona's campaigns in 1998 and 2002. Others hosted fund-raisers for Carona or his philanthropy, the Mike Carona Foundation.

Carona denied that the appointments were political favors.

Some had ties to Haidl, including a brother, sister, nephew and two other relatives, along with private pilots, a personal secretary and other employees of Haidl's auction company, the Times said

The commission removed the names of all the deputies from its database, meaning it no longer recognizes them as peace officers, after finding most had not completed training required by state law.

A Sheriff's Department audit determined that six were performing police duties and they were ordered to stop. Four who received department-issued guns returned them.

Fourteen, however, still have concealed weapons permits and 56 retain their badges and identification cards, the newspaper said.

Carona told the Times that the deputies who retain their badges pose no public risk.

The newspaper studied documents obtained through public records requests and provided by other sources and conducted interviews with appointees and sheriff's officials, some of whom spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

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Bird flu virus 'close to pandemic'
Mark Honigsbaum
Thursday May 26, 2005
The Guardian

Expert warns estimate of 7.5m global deaths is optimistic

A leading scientist warned yesterday that the avian flu virus is on the point of mutating into a pandemic disease and says that current estimates that such a pandemic could cause 7.5m deaths may understate the threat.

His warnings come as experts writing in today's edition of Nature voice concerns about the world's inability to manufacture sufficient vaccines for a pandemic and warn of the impact that the virus - H5N1 - could have on the global economy.

In an accompanying editorial Nature argues that so far such warnings have "fallen on deaf ears". It backs a call by Prof Osterhaus and his colleagues at the Erasmus Medical Centre, in Rotterdam - one of the world's leading virus research labs - for a global taskforce to strengthen agencies on the ground.

There have been 90 human infections in south-east Asia , from which 54 people have died. But while culling and the vaccination of poultry appears to have slowed outbreaks in Thailand and other parts of south-east Asia, this year Vietnam has seen a worrying number of human infections in the same family groups. According to Prof Osterhaus such clustering could mean the virus is becoming more efficient at infecting humans - a precondition for a pandemic.

Another concern are reports which emerged from China last weekend that H5N1 was responsible for the deaths of 178 migratory geese at a wildfowl reserve in the western province of Qinghai earlier this month. Prof Osterhaus says the geese's deaths could be another indication that the virus is mutating and becoming more virulent. The problem is that countries such as China and Vietnam are not providing animal and human health officials with enough data, leaving scientists in the dark.

According to the WHO, within a few months of the pandemic 30 million people would need to be hospitalised, and a quarter could be expected to die. In his Nature commentary, Prof Osterhaus describes current estimates that a pandemic could infect 20% of the world's population and cause 7.5m deaths as "among the more optimistic predictions of how the next pandemic might unfold".

Such pandemic viruses emerge every 30 years or so. The most virulent was the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which is believed to have claimed 40 million lives worldwide. By contrast the 1957 Asian flu pandemic and 1968 Hong Kong flu claimed less than one million lives each. Prof Osterhaus wants the WHO, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health to set up global teams of vets, medics, virologists and agriculturalists to respond rapidly to outbreaks.

His comments are backed by the other experts in Nature, who also criticise the WHO and international efforts to develop vaccines against H5N1 and other strains of avian influenza.

According to Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota, antiquated vaccine manufacturing systems mean that countries like the US are unable to protect their populations against annual flu strains, let alone pandemic ones.

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Power cut plunges Moscow into traffic chaos, stranding thousands
Wed May 25, 3:00 PM ET

MOSCOW - A massive power outage caused chaos in Moscow, stranding around 20,000 people in underground metro tunnels, disrupting traffic above ground and leaving large sections of the Russian capital and nearby regions without electricity.

Traffic lights went out, creating enormous jams. Trolley buses and trams ground to a halt. Mobile phone networks crashed.

More than 20 medical establishments switched to generators, one of Moscow's stock exchanges suspended trading and Russia's largest retail bank, Sberbank, reported operating difficulties.

The blackout, blamed on an accident at an ageing Soviet-era power plant in the south of the bustling metropolis, struck most of south Moscow and outlying areas some 300 kilometres (186 miles) away, striking at about 11:00 am (0700 GMT).

Between 1.5 and two million people were affected, the head of the United Energy Systems (UES) electricity monopoly, Anatoly Chubais, said.

Several days into an early summer heatwave, 1,500 people were reported to have been stranded in lifts, while many thousands struggled to find places in overcrowded buses, or flag down the remaining taxis. Traffic was crippled by the breakdown of 236 traffic lights.

Moscow's deputy mayor, Vladimir Resin, said there was a danger that raw sewage would be released into the Moskva River. "Can you imagine what this means, especially when it's this hot?" he was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

All rescue services and emergency medical services were put on standby, an official at the ministry for emergency situations told RIA Novosti. Military electricity reserves were made available for civilian use, the agency said. The government went into an emergency meeting.

Resin said electricity would be fully restored throughout Moscow by around 2:00 p.m. (1000 GMT) Thursday, Interfax said. It was not clear how long problems would continue in neighbouring towns.

UES spokeswoman Margarita Nagoga blamed the outage on an accident at the Chagino power plant, which runs on equipment installed more than four decades ago.

According to Nagoga, a small fire had already erupted in the Chagino plant the evening before, but was quickly extinguished. "However, in the end the age of the technical equipment caused the current accident, which employees were not able to stop."

A UES executive said several consecutive days of hot weather may have played a role. [...]

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Earthquake jolts north Iran
Thursday, May 26, 2005 - ©2005

LONDON, May 26 (Iranmania) - An earthquake hit suburbs of the northern city of Astara in the Caspian Sea province of Gilan Thursday morning. It was measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale, according to IRNA.

The seismological base of Geophysics Institute of Tehran University recorded the tremor at 06:29 hours local time (0159 GMT).

The tremble was registered at Astara outskirts, in an area located in 38.40 degree latitude and 48.64 degree longitude.

There was no report on possible damage to properties caused by the earthquake

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Little-known fault threatens big LA disaster-study
25 May 2005

WASHINGTON, May 25 (Reuters) - A little-known fault that runs under Los Angeles into its suburbs could cause the costliest earthquake in U.S. history and kill as many as 18,000 people if it shifts, geologists said on Wednesday.

The Puente Hills fault has caused quakes of magnitude 7.2 to 7.5 at least four times in the past 11,000 years, said the teams at the U.S. Geological Survey and the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California.

This is rare, but building codes and emergency planning should take the risks into account, the quake experts said.

"As an individual, your odds of dying of a heart attack or an auto accident are much greater than of dying from this earthquake," said Ned Field, a USGS researcher who led the study.

"That being said, there are other sources of earthquakes throughout the region, and it's not a question of if, but when, so everyone should take necessary safety precautions."

The Puente Hills fault runs under Los Angeles County and adjacent to Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

A quake of magnitude 7.2 to 7.5 would kill anywhere between 3,000 and 18,000 people, would displace between 142,000 and 735,000 households, and cause up to $250 billion in property damage, the researchers report in the journal Earthquake Spectra.

That would make it the costliest disaster in U.S. history, the researchers said.

The estimates come from 18 different possible quake scenarios, all presuming that the rupture occurs at 2 p.m. on a weekday.

The fault runs under older commercial and industrial structures, they said, while the areas damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which killed 33 people, were mostly wood-frame residential structures.

"One of the main goals of this study was to use our improved knowledge of seismic hazards in Southern California to evaluate -- and hopefully reduce -- the uncertainties in this type of risk analysis," said Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center.

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Major Losses of Up to $250 Billion Projected for Earthquakes on Puente Hills Fault Under Los Angeles
Released: 5/25/2005

Potential earthquakes on the Puente Hills fault beneath the Los Angeles area could result in 3,000 to 18,000 fatalities, 142,000 to 735,000 displaced households, and more than $250 billion in total damages, according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) research.

The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) is a consortium funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the USGS. SCEC involves over 400 scientists at more than 50 research institutions, and is headquartered at the University of Southern California (USC).

The new research results, published in the May 2005 issue of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute's Earthquake Spectra, were based on shaking scenarios created using newly available software for seismic hazard analysis developed by SCEC and the USGS, coupled with HAZUS loss-estimation software developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Puente Hills fault was discovered in 1999. In 2003, a study led by SCEC researchers at USC found that the fault had ruptured at least four times in the last 11,000 years, with magnitudes ranging from 7.2 to 7.5. To determine probable losses from such earthquakes on the Puente Hills fault, the authors of the new study created 18 different scenarios depicting different possible shaking levels throughout the region. The authors noted that it is vital to understand that the loss scenarios themselves are somewhat uncertain because of the many variables involved in predicting ground shaking, including whether the full fault ruptures or just part of it. Also, the formal quantification of loss estimates is still a challenging and imprecise science, even using the best available models and scientific data.

USGS researcher Ned Field, the lead author of the study, said that although the scenarios show that the vast majority of losses will occur in Los Angeles County, directly over the rupture surface, tangible losses are also predicted for San Bernardino and Orange counties located east and south of the Puente Hills fault. The losses predicted for this event are greater than those experienced during the 1994 Mw 6.7 Northridge earthquake, both because of the higher potential magnitudes and because the heavily shaken area during Northridge was mostly wood-frame residential structures, whereas Puente Hills sits under older and more vulnerable commercial and industrial structures.

The authors also emphasize that a full Puente Hills fault rupture is a rare event, occurring once every 3,000 years or so. "In fact," said Field, "as an individual your odds of dying of a heart attack or an auto accident are much greater than dying from this earthquake." "That being said," Field added, "there are other sources of earthquakes throughout the region, and it's not question of if, but when, so everyone should take necessary safety precautions. With USGS science, we are striving to prevent these natural hazards from becoming disasters." Furthermore, he said, a Puente Hills earthquake would have widespread impact, so it's also up to emergency and public policy officials to plan accordingly.

"Quantifying earthquake risk is difficult and fraught with many uncertainties," said Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, and a co-author of the new study. "One of the main goals of this study was to use our improved knowledge of seismic hazards in Southern California to evaluate ­ and hopefully reduce ­ the uncertainties in this type of risk analysis."

The researchers determined a probable range of estimated losses by averaging losses predicted under each scenario and model. The scenarios all assumed an earthquake occurring at 2 p.m. during a weekday, when many people are at work. The number of casualties would be significantly less if an earthquake were to occur on the fault at night when most people are at home. Their results showed that:

  • The estimated number of fatalities could range between 3,000 and 18,000, with an average of 7,600. Northridge, with a Mw of 6.7 resulted in 33 direct fatalities, and the 1995 Mw 6.9 Kobe, Japan earthquake resulted in 6,348 fatalities.
  • The total number of injuries could range between 56,000 and 268,000, or an average of about 120,000.
  • The number of displaced households ranged from 142,000 to 735,000, with an average of 274,000.
  • Relief agencies would have to provide short-term public shelter for 42,000 to 211,000 people, with an average or 80,000 people needing short-term public shelter.
  • The amount of debris generated by such an earthquake would range between 30,000 and 99,000 tons, averaging 51,000 tons.

These projections assume that no efforts have occurred that would improve infrastructure so as to reduce earthquake losses before the earthquake happens, Jordan noted, adding, "If society chooses to invest in mitigation, many of these losses could be avoided."

"The Puente Hills blind thrust loss estimation results illustrate how much we have been able to learn about the complexities of earthquakes, the associated ground shaking, and their societal effects," said Kaye Shedlock, program director in NSF's division of earth sciences, which funds SCEC. "These results also help clearly focus what we still need to learn to mitigate the loss of life and the economic impacts from earthquakes."

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Floods Devastate Colorado Trailer Park
Associated Press
Thu May 26, 3:48 AM ET

HESPERUS, Colo. - A river in southwestern Colorado spilled over its banks Wednesday, sending fast-moving water into a trailer park and forcing families to scramble through thigh-deep water to protect their belongings.

"It was scary. It sounded like we were sleeping in the river," Louise Suazo said as water from the swollen La Plata River rushed under her home.

Several rivers in southwestern Colorado are cresting this week after days of hot weather and melting snow. Water levels are expected to remain high through the Memorial Day weekend,
National Weather Service hydrologist Brian Avery said.

"It's not over and it won't be over until at least next week," he said.

In neighboring Utah, a missing elderly woman was found dead Wednesday in an ordinarily moderate creek sent rushing by melting snowpack. Cynthia Lark, 76, has dementia and was thought to have wandered away.

In Hesperus, 240 miles southwest of Denver, dead trees and other debris forced the La Plata over its banks and into the Pinewind Trailer Park. Residents slogged through the water to dig diversion ditches, hoping to steer the water away from propane tanks and electrical wiring.

Six of the homes either were surrounded by water or had water flowing beneath them. Gas service was turned off, and most residents had lost phone service.

Avery said most major flooding has been in southwestern Colorado, where the water is reportedly the highest it has been since the regional drought began about six years ago.

Avery said authorities were concerned boaters, rafters and kayakers would be drawn to high rivers, despite dangerous and icy conditions.

"We're trying to encourage people to be very safe or just avoid the water altogether," Avery said.

Rescue workers have pulled 18 people from the Animas River in the past five days and county officials planned to monitor popular bridges after a 23-year-old man was rescued - and arrested - after jumping into the torrent from a bridge Tuesday. He was dared by friends to leap.

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Sudan women feed babies leaves to avoid starvation
By Matthew Green
Thu May 26, 2005 03:19 AM ET

PALIANG, Sudan - Mothers in southern Sudan are feeding their children leaves to stop them starving to death after rich countries failed to heed months of appeals to prevent the region's worst food crisis in seven years.

Young women on Thursday crushed foliage torn from trees then boiled it over fires outside their huts, draining the green-tinged water before their children devoured their sole meal for the day with their hands.

"I'll get diarrhea from eating this, but there's nothing else," said Nyankir Malek, 35, chomping on bitter leaves used as food of last resort in southern Sudan.

"You can see how thin we are," she said, fiddling with an ivory bangle around her wrist. "This is all we have had to eat since January."

One four-year-old boy sprawled naked on the earth after collapsing from hunger, his breath coming in faint gasps.

"He refused to eat the leaves," said his mother, Dit Bol, 30, speaking at a feeding center in the village of Paliang, some 250 km (160 miles) northwest of the southern town of Juba.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," she said, as other infants wailed with hunger in the shade of a nearby tree.

Mothers like Bol said failed rains and a surge in cattle raiding have ruined their harvest in the Bahr el Ghazal region, facing its worst food shortages since a famine seven years ago killed at least 60,000 people.

"We're seeing the worst malnutrition levels since 1998," said Patrick Murphy, medical leader at a hospital run by humanitarian agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in the nearby town of Marial. "Death from malnutrition is a danger."

The U.N. food relief agency says donors have given only a fraction of the aid Sudan needs this year, warning that hunger could enflame tensions as former rebels attempt to implement a January peace deal ending 21 years of war with the government.

"On a child you can see an old man's face," said Desma Anindo Maina, a medical assistant with MSF weighing emaciated children in a sling at the outdoor feeding center. [...]

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Plane crashes in Congo, 26 missing
Thursday, May 26, 2005

KINSHASA, Congo -- Twenty-six people are missing and feared dead after a plane crashed in eastern Congo, an aviation official has said.

The plane went missing shortly after takeoff Wednesday and was found by U.N. helicopters Wednesday night in the dense forests near Walungu, said Raymond Sangara, coordinator of Congo's civil aviation authority.

All 21 passengers aboard were Congolese traders, including women and children, said Sangara. The pilot was Russian and the four crew members were Ukrainian, he said.

The conditions of those on the plane were not known, and a search for survivors was expected to begin soon, Sangara said.

The plane had lost contact with the radio tower three minutes after leaving the eastern town of Goma. It was bound for Kindu, some 240 miles southwest, but never arrived.

Walungu is about 75 miles south of Goma, and further east of the flight path.

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'Dr Death' ordered life support off?
By Michael Perry
Wed May 25,10:36 AM ET

SYDNEY - A doctor turned off a woman's life support ventilator in an Australian hospital because the director of surgery, dubbed "Dr Death," wanted her bed to operate on another patient, an inquiry has heard.

The government-sanctioned inquiry in the Australian state of Queensland is examining the deaths of 87 patients treated by Indian-trained Dr Jayant Patel.

Patel was director of surgery at Queensland's regional Bundaberg Hospital in 2003-04, despite negligence findings against him in two U.S. states that resulted in restrictions on his U.S. medical license.

Patel left Australia in March, 2005. His whereabouts are unknown.

Bundaberg Hospital's head intensive care nurse, Toni Hoffman, told the inquiry in the city of Brisbane Tuesday that hospital staff had tried to hide patients from Patel, whom they nicknamed "Dr Death" because of his botched surgery.

"All the nurses in intensive care were seeing these patients dying every day and we couldn't do anything," Hoffman told the inquiry according to transcripts available on Wednesday.

"We'd taken to hiding patients. We just thought 'What on earth can we do to stop this man', she said. [...]

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Is happiness a con?
The Independent
25 May 2005

You've got the dream job, the big house, the perfect partner - life is sweet. Here's something to wipe the smile off your face, says Mairi MacLeod

Look through the self-help section of any bookshop, and you'll find hundreds of titles along the lines of 101 Ways to Happiness. Life coaches, advertising and some therapies all capitalise on our obsession with the pursuit of happiness. But do we truly want happiness itself that much? As George Bernard Shaw once said: "A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth." Why, then, do we constantly strive for some sort of utopia? What is happiness for?

For the evolutionary psychologist Daniel Nettle, of the University of Newcastle, the relevant question is about how the pursuit of happiness can help us to be successful at survival and reproduction. In his new book, Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile, Nettle suggests that although people believe they will be more happy in the future, they in fact seldom are; that societies don't get happier as they get richer; and that people are consistently wrong about the impact of future life-events on their happiness.

"If you ask people what they want from life and what they like, you get two entirely different sets of answers," Nettle says. "People may like to take a walk in the park, or play with their kids and so on, but what they want might be to get a promotion, earn more money and buy a bigger house."

The trouble is that when we attain the things we're aiming for, we don't get happier, we just want more - a fact that has been demonstrated by the Los Angeles economist Richard Easterlin in a survey of young Americans. He asked participants to list the items they thought they would need for a good life. Their responses tended to include a house, a car and so on, but what they actually possessed usually fell short by a couple of items.

The study was then repeated on the same people 16 years later. Unsurprisingly, their lists of ingredients for a happy life now included a couple more items than had appeared on the originals. But the gap between reality and true happiness or satisfaction stayed fairly constant, regardless of how many items people obtained. [...]

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