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Man Claims UFOs Will Soon Appear Over Las Vegas
May 28, 2005

Our newsroom gets dozens of press releases every day from people who think they've got a good story for us. But we've never seen a "media alert" quite like this one. It says: "Beginning next week, spaceships will appear overLas Vegas," summoned on-demand by a man who claims he's in touch with an alien power. News 3's Steve Crupi reports.

This sounds strangely reminiscent of "The Amazing Kreskin." Three years ago Kreskin got worldwide attention when he predicted that UFO's would appear over Las Vegas . But no surprise, it turned out to be a publicity hoax. Now, we have a man who calls himself a prophet, predicting alien activity, and he swears this is no hoax.

From the driveway of his downtown apartment, Ramon Watkins is waiting for UFOs. "There are spaceships right now, parked around the planet." On his web site, he goes by the name Prophet Yahweh and says the existence of extraterrestrial life will soon become obvious to everyone. "I know you guys are skeptical, and I don't blame you man." He has a computer filled with home videos that he claims prove his power to summon strange objects in the sky. And he says within the next 45 days something big is coming. "At least one of those days a gigantic spaceship is to set up over Las Vegas for a day and a half."

Watkins tried to give us a demonstration of his abilities, but we watched and waited, and all we saw was an airplane.

"We tried, it's a no-show."

Watkins says the aliens won't attack us the way they do in the movies, but he says their intentions are anything but friendly. "And they're here, to take over, it's just that simple."

"Should people be taking shelter and running away from Las Vegas if the ships are coming?"

Kreskin got it wrong three years ago; Prophet Yahweh says stay tuned, he is on a mission to prove all skeptics wrong. Ramon Watkins says he will be discussing his UFO prediction at length when he appears as a guest on Coast-To-Coast, a radio talk show, Friday night.

Comment: While Watkins, who calls himself "Yahweh", drew a blank on this particular occasion, he appeared to be spectacularly successful on a separate occasion when he was put to the test by Nevada's ABC "Action News 13". According to the report, the ABC interviewer picked the time and place for the challenge. Nothing happened until after "yahweh" "prayed" for a sighting, at which point an orange orb appeared high in the sky and seemed to head off towards Nellis AFB, only to return later to give the cameras another glimpse. A video of the ABC News report can be accessed by clicking here. (Note: requires Windows Media Player)

The object was clearly not a conventional craft and the fact that it headed towards Nellis AFB is highly suspicious. "Yahweh" claims to have summoned over 1500 UFOs since 1979, which of course begs the question as to why he is getting such mainstream media attention at this particular point in time. There have been literally countless reports of UFO sightings over the past several decades (not to mention centuries). All enquiries into these have been stonewalled by successive governments, despite the overwhelming evidence that there really is something out there. The problem with any future disclosure by government and its media of the 'nuts and bolts' reality of UFOs therefore should rightly give rise to accusations that we are being toyed with.

That the mainstream US media should be giving airtime to an actual 'on demand' sighting of a UFO at this particular point in time (all of it sanctioned by government of course) seems to tie in with a report we published earlier this year on something called "the Merlin Project" which was featured on Fox News' Alan Colmes Radio Show:

Predictions for the Future

December 31 2004

There was an extremely interesting hour on last night's FOX News Live with Alan Colmes when guests Paul Guercio and George Hart came on to discuss something called the Merlin Project which is, supposedly, a scientific way of predicting the future.

I listened to the entire segment twice and still don't quite understand their theory or how it works but, to quote one of them (it was nearly impossible to distinguish which voice belonged to whom), George Hart, a noted scientist, came up with a computer program that "taps into patterns that are in the universe, time and geometry patterns."

Alan asked them for some predictions for the coming year. Unfortunately, the news does not look good.

Here are their predictions for 2005 and beyond:

Something out of the ordinary starts in the next year or two and culminates at the end of the decade.

At the end of 2005, something profound will happen. They're not sure what, exactly, it may be but it could be an asteroid strike or a massive UFO invasion. (Comment: I swear to you, these guys sounded scientific, not flaky.)

In 2008-2009, something even more profoundly changing will happen that will affect about 4 out of 6 people. Something like a pandemic.

Osama bin Laden will be "in strength" in 2005 and 2006.

Something very peculiar will happen to Saddam Hussein. "He could be sprung loose or perhaps even re-emerge as part of the new government."

The Iraqi elections; "First go round will be useless" but about halfway through the year there could a civil war. We could get a government in January that says they want us out.

The second Bush administration: Bush will be "teetering on the edge of disaster and he'll be lucky to be in office for a full four years."

We'll see.

According to the Merlin web site the background to the Merlin project is:

Physicist, Dr. George Hart first hears Futurist, Paul Guercio with Dr. David Brudnoy on WBZ Radio in Boston in October 1988 and is intrigued with Paul's theory of "Time-Patterns" since it parallels his own extensive research as a highly respected theoretical physicist and inventor of the excimer laser.

In January 1989 Dr. Hart comes to Paul's office for a professional consultation. The consultation never took place and instead, the two researchers spent six hours comparing notes on time-related anomalies. The MERLIN Project evolved from a series of five meetings over the subsequent six months.

The MERLIN Project is officially born on July 4, 1989 after Dr. George Hart offers to design software built around Paul Guercio's Theory of Time. A team of SDI (Star Wars) physicists is recruited to design the MERLIN Project software, which becomes known as TimeTrak.

According to its designers Merlin is:

a computer-based forecasting technology that combines equations derived from planetary time cycles with past historical data and blends that information into a chronograph(r) or Timetrak(r) that plots the chronology of future events. It was created by Boston-based futurist Paul Guercio and physicist Dr. George Hart excimer laser co-inventor and currently a BMDO contractor performing work related to GPS test target characterization of the TMD-GBR radar and interceptor laser radar technology development.

MERLIN was initially developed in the summer of 1989. In the fall of the same year, the collapse of the Honicker government in East Germany and subsequent dissolution of the entire Soviet Union, was MERLIN's first and most prescient call to date. The chronographer for the various East European and Balkan satellites (Romania, Albania; various heads of state, etc.) were so unstable and dramatic that we initially thought that if accurate, we were either previewing World War III or the complete collapse of communism. Both seemed equally remote at the time. But clearly a series of unprecedented events was at hand. Then, remarkably, the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended. Abruptly, with barely a whimper. MERLIN had spotted and captured what few analysts had dared to suggest. Just like that.

It seems that MERLIN went on to notch up repeated successes in predicting major political, social and economic events throughout the 90's to the extent that the Pentagon became interested:

"In 1995, the MERLIN creators were approached by a Strategic Planning Office of the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff and asked to provide a long-range forecast and timetable for potential incidents of domestic terrorism over the following seven years. This "white paper" which was submitted in July 1995, included indications of a significant threat culminating in the Fall of 2001, which we now know to be the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon."

So how exactly does MERLIN "predict the future"? Hart and Guercio explain further:

MERLIN sifts through an immense field of tidal intervals in the Universe looking for points of convergence and resonance patterns. In essence, it is a very sophisticated (pattern) detection system (the particular patterns it has been taught to identify are at the moment, proprietary, for obvious reasons.) What we have discovered, however, suggests that "time" has a kind of genetic- like code and behaves much like a musical score.

Think of it this way. Time, in conjunction with your DNA coding influences the relative likelihood of you developing (for instance) early onset coronary artery disease or cancer while not being the ultimate cause/effect mechanism.

Our research suggests that "time" may have a similar genetic-like aspect, when vectored from a particular point in the past and then projected forward. A unique "wave-form" composed of it's own, original array of tidal movements, a little like a symphony. Events as we know them, may be a convergence point for a series of unseen clocks that you helped set into motion (or were set into motion) years before and are now (all) "chiming" simultaneously. The magnitude of the resulting "event" may be determined by the number and sheer size, i.e. interval/duration of the converging curves. The more clocks chiming, the bigger the event that occurs.

MERLIN was designed to "keep track" of these various tidal clocks and output a picture of the resulting convergence pattern in the form of a graph with "realtime" correspondences. A kind of "timetable of the future!"

MERLIN doesn't make predictions anymore than weather computers do. They keep track of converging weather systems, giving the meteorologist a jumping- off point to speculate (often badly) about tomorrow's weather. MERLIN does the same thing with Time! We then attempt to draw conclusions about how that period will playout in the real world. So far, our ability to pinpoint actual turns in realtime events and individuals lives, has been pretty remarkable.

But, it's the TIME SCHEDULE of change, its duration (and often it's magnitude) that MERLIN finds. Not the particulars of circumstance.

For those of you who are Market-oriented, it would be like having the NYSE (market) volume charts, in advance. You'd know the time coordinates of the change and it's size, just not the direction!

And that suggests another intriguing possibility. We may affect, even control to some extent, the particular circumstances that occur, just not the time schedule (or relative impact.)

Pretty interesting eh? What makes it all the more interesting is the fact that one of the co-founders of the Merlin project is Dr. George Hart, a US Naval Research Laboratory physicist and inventor of a variation on the excimer laser, used commercially in eye surgery and which no doubt has some very interesting military applications given that the ONR funded its development. However, developing cutting edge medical technologies is not the only area to which Dr. Hart has dedicated his time:

George Hart specialized in the application of supercomputers to the mathematical modeling of systems exhibiting extremely complex behavior. As a highly respected Pentagon consultant, he continues to work on the next generation of Strategic Defense Initiative The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) is a system proposed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983 to use space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear missiles. It was first dubbed "Star Wars" by opponent Dr. Carol Rosin, a former spokesperson of Wernher von Braun who was instrumental in the development of ballistic missiles.

The other half of the "brains" behind MERLIN is Paul Guercio:

a nationally-respected futurist and a long-time student of traditional and esoteric predictive systems. His 25 years of research into the Psychical Sciences and subsequent collaboration with Dr. Hart directly resulted in the creation of the MERLIN Project. His clients include many prominent business people, politicians and celebrities.

We are further told that:

the software alone does not make specific predictions regarding the precise nature of a forthcoming event or episode. It cannot provide a detailed forecast for the actual circumstances to occur. Those forecasts require review by an experienced analyst with a solid working knowledge of the cast of characters and overall context of the situation.

So the question is: just who is the "experienced analyst" that fleshes out the probable future events? Is it the "esotericist and futurist" or the "Naval physicist with significant experience in the application of supercomputers to the mathematical modeling of systems exhibiting extremely complex behavior", and from what standpoint do they make such detailed predictions?

Interestingly, we are told that Dr. Hart is currently involved in the next generation of the Reagan era "Star Wars" programme which has been scaled back, or rather compartmentalised, since the end of the cold war.

On December 16, 2002 President Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive which outlined a plan to begin deployment of operational ballistic missile defense systems by 2004. The following day the U.S. formally requested from the UK and Denmark use of facilities in Fylingdales, England, and Thule, Greenland, respectively, as a part of the NMD program. The projected cost of the program for the years 2004 to 2009 will be 53 billion U.S. dollars, making it the largest single line in The Pentagon's budget.

In 2003, NMD was changed to GMD (Ground-Based Missile Defense), to differentiate it from other missile defense programs, such as space-based, sea-based, or high-altitude intercept programs.

On July 22, 2004, the first ground-based interceptor was deployed at Ft. Greely, Alaska. The system will be declared operational with the emplacement of five additional interceptors in September. The system will provide "rudimentary" protection; the Pentagon's chief weapons evaluator estimated its likely effectiveness to be perhaps only 20 percent.

What seems to be true then about the entire concept of a "National Missile Defence" programme is that is was, and to this day remains, completely unfeasible, leading us to the conclusion that, like so many other government programmes, its main purpose was to perpetuate the fear factor among the American and world population while at the same time generating vast sums of money for our "leaders". But could there be something else behind the whole idea of the "weaponisation of space"?

In Dr. Hart's bio above, the names Carol Rosin and Wernher von Braun are mentioned. Dr Carol Rosin was the first woman corporate manager of Fairchild Industries (former US defence contractor) a Space and Missile Defense Consultant and the spokesperson for Wernher Von Braun (former VP of Fairchild) in the last years of his life. She founded the Institute for Security and Cooperation in Outer Space in Washington DC and has testified before Congress on many occasions about space based weapons.

In an interview with Steven Greer (of the Disclosure Project) in 2000 for Nexus magazine, Dr. Rosin details a plan, revealed to her by Von Braun, to justify weapons in spaced based on hoaxing an extraterrestrial threat:

"When I was a Corporate Manager of Fairchild Industries from 1974 through 1977, I met the late Dr Wernher Von Braun. We first met in early 1974. At that time, Von Braun was dying of cancer but he assured me that he would live a few more years to tell me about the game that was being played- that game being the effort to weaponize space, to control the Earth from space and space itself. Von Braun had a history of working with weapons systems. He escaped from Germany to come to this country and became a Vice President of Fairchild Industries when I had met him. Von Braun's purpose during the last years of his life, his dying years, was to educate the public and decision-makers about why space-based weapons are dumb, dangerous, destabilizing, too costly, unnecessary, unworkable, and an undesirable idea, and about the alternatives that are available.

As practically a deathbed speech, he educated me about those concepts and who the players were in this game. He gave me the responsibility, since he was dying, of continuing this effort to prevent the weaponization of outer space. When Wernher Von Braun was dying of cancer, he asked me to be his spokesperson, to appear on occasions when he was too ill to speak. I did this.

What was most interesting to me was a repetitive sentence that he said to me over and over again during the approximately four years that I had the opportunity to work with him. He said the strategy that was being used to educate the public and decision makers was to use scare tactics That was how we identify an enemy. The strategy that Wernher Von Braun taught me was that first the Russians are going to be considered to be the enemy. In fact, in 1974, they were the enemy, the identified enemy. We were told that they had "killer satellites". We were told that they were coming to get us and control us-that they were "Commies."

Then terrorists would be identified, and that was soon to follow. We heard a lot about terrorism. Then we were going to identify third-world country "crazies." We now call them Nations of Concern. But he said that would be the third enemy against whom we would build space-based weapons. The next enemy was asteroids. Now, at this point he kind of chuckled the first time he said it.

Asteroids- against asteroids we are going to build space-based weapons.

And the funniest one of all was what he called aliens, extraterrestrials. That would be the final scare. And over and over and over during the four years that I knew him and was giving speeches for him, he would bring up that last card. "And remember Carol, the last card is the alien card. We are going to have to build space-based weapons against aliens and all of it is a lie."

I think I was too naïve at that time to know the seriousness of the nature of the spin that was being put on the system. And now, the pieces are starting to fall into place. We are building a space-based weapons system on a premise that is a lie, a spin. Wernher Von Braun was trying to hint that to me back in the early 70's and right up until the moment when he died in 1977.

The last card that was being held was the extraterrestrial enemy card.

The intensity with which he said that, made me realize that he knew something that he was too afraid to mention. He was too afraid to talk about it. He would not tell me the details."

Which brings us back to the predictions of MERLIN for the year 2005. The various factors involved in producing the prognostications include the expertise of Dr. Hart in mathematically modeling systems exhibiting extremely complex behavior, his knowledge of space-based weapon systems - most notably lasers - coupled with the input of the Strategic Planning Office of the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff and a guy who has allegedly spent 25 years studying traditional and esoteric predictive systems and planetary time cycles. The result of such a blend of science, mysticism and government agenda producing the "prediction" that either aliens or a few space rocks may well invade earth this autumn.

The real question, however, that should be troubling all those who place any faith in the skill of MERLIN and its operators is whether or not the predictions are an example of creating our own reality, or actually determining some predetermined "future". As the public faces of the project say themselves in relation to their predictions: "we (humanity) may affect, even control to some extent, the particular circumstances that occur". History would seem to show however that the potential for we the people to create our own reality has been continuously co-opted by the controllers of this world who pre-empt any bright ideas we might have by giving us the 'facts' in advance, and bumping off anyone that exhibited an overzealousness in refuting those 'facts'.

Coincidentally, (and we use that word with a complete lack of sincerity) Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" arrives in cinema's on June 29th, right at the time of the predicted 'real deal' over Las Vegas and San Francisco, which, if a UFOs really do show up, will no doubt provoke in movie goers a disturbing sense of confusion over which reality is the real one. For your edification, and so that you are forearmed with the knowledge of how best to interpret any visitations this summer, below are some quotes from trailers of the upcoming "War of the Worlds" movie.

"On June 29th prepare for the event that will change your world."

"No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own. That as men busied themselves about their various concerns they observed and studied. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of their empire over this world. Yet across the gulf of space intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us."

"I know you wanna fight, I know it seems like you have to, but you don't you don't."

"The last war on earth wont be started by humans"

Conversely, you can inform yourself about the true nature of the "Aliens" and "UFOs" by reading the relevant material on this site, or better still, purchase some of our books.

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Exploit the Rift
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 25 May 2005

Members of the Republican Party's political action corps pride themselves on discipline and adherence to the line. Most of the time they are very good at this, which explains to a degree their ascendancy of late. All of a sudden, however, that discipline has started to crack, and the outlines of a full-fledged civil war within the ranks of the GOP are beginning to become manifestly clear.

The public rift started several weeks ago, when Majority leaders Frist and DeLay dragged the rest of the party along on the demented sleigh-ride that was the Schiavo affair. Messrs. Frist and DeLay assumed, wrongly, that the American people would happily accept the idea that Congressmen should serve as mother, father, husband, wife, doctor and priest on matters of life and death as they pertain to medical decisions. When some 80% of the public rejected this concept out of hand, according to every poll, the cracks began to publicly appear.

This actually started as a private rift back in November. The 'movement conservatives' - read: fundamentalist evangelical activist Christian base of the GOP - believed they were the ones who single-handedly delivered electoral victory to Bush in the last election, and were set upon being paid back for their efforts. This expected payback amounted to the assumption that the GOP majority in Congress would take up all the issues dear to the movement conservative heart.

The problem arose when a good number of the old-school conservatives within the GOP decided they didn't really want the fundamentalists driving the bus. These old-school conservatives were likewise developing a significant disgust for the so-called leadership of the neo-conservatives in the White House and Pentagon, who had led the party into the bottomless blood-well of Iraq.

The old-schoolers were facing a significant challenge, because the neo-cons have been using the fundamentalists as shock troops, 'useful idiots' who helpfully carry the combined banners of 'freedom,' patriotism, and the One True Faith in order to obscure the neo-con's larger, less-palatable and incredibly dangerous geopolitical goals. We saw this repeatedly during the last election season.

The tension grew as, time and again, Congress failed to rally to the various movement conservative banners that were raised. Finally, the movement conservatives got sick of waiting, and plunged headlong into the Schiavo mess in order to promote their 'culture of life' ideals. In fact, this was a warning shot fired across the GOP's bow, with Frist and DeLay standing as point-men for their own reasons - DeLay needs the fundamentalists help to avoid going to prison for a whole rainbow of ethics violations, and Frist needs them because he wants to run for President in 2008.

Well, history records the outcome of that effort. When the movement conservatives' desires met public opinion on the matter of Schiavo, the sound was like two icebergs colliding in the North Atlantic. All of a sudden, the old-school conservatives found themselves lumped in with the fundies who drove the bus off the cliff. Approval ratings for Congress plummeted to the low 30s, and the Democrats had been handed an unexpected public relations coup.

Flash forward to the recent filibuster fight. Majority Leader Frist stapled himself to the cause of getting rid of the filibuster come hell or high water as yet another Schiavo-esqe kowtow to the movement conservatives whom, he believed, would catapult him into the Oval Office. The old-school conservatives watched all this unfold with growing disgust and, in a moment of Caesarian calculation, stabbed their majority leader in the back by cutting a deal with the Democrats behind Frist's back to preserve the filibuster.

Understand what this means. For many liberals and progressives, this deal was profoundly unpalatable, because the deal itself included allowing a vote on three wildly unacceptable nominees to the appellate bench. There is no way to paint this with a rosy glow, yet the broader view may provide succor beyond the simple fact that the filibuster was preserved, and the terms under which it can be used remain in the hands of the Democrats.

Simply put, the movement conservatives had their lunch eaten by the old-schoolers on the matter of the filibuster. Mr. Frist lost control of his caucus, and the so-called 'moderates' who broke ranks even had the temerity to scold Mr. Bush, reminding him that the Senate does, in fact, have the right and requirement to advise and consent on nominees. Furthermore, the movement fundamentalists were slapped down because they dared to tamper with Senate tradition.

This was the first public shot fired in the GOP civil war, a battle between the movementarians and the old-schoolers. Within hours, this one battle became several battles. The day after Frist lost control of his caucus, 50 GOP House members defied Bush's promised veto and piled onto an impressive majority that passed legislation approving stem cell research. Bush, whose threatened veto was yet another political sop to the movement conservatives, expected his threat to kill this legislation, but it didn't by a long chalk.

Suddenly, George has a problem. Stem cell research is very popular among the folks, and can help millions of Americans afflicted with a wide variety of diseases. Take diabetes for one example. There are 18.2 million Americans suffering from diabetes today, a lot of them children. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 213,000 people will die of diabetes this year alone.

The total annual economic cost of diabetes in 2002 was estimated to be $132 billion, amounting to one out of every 10 health care dollars spent in the United States. Right now, diabetes has no cure, though the people suffering from it have been hearing for years that a cure is right around the corner. Stem cell research could provide that.

George is going to have a hell of a time explaining to these people why Jesus says they can't be cured.

And then, of course, there was Mr. John Bolton. Bolton's nomination as UN Ambassador exposed yet another fault line within the GOP ranks, as seemingly loyal Republicans balked at voting for him after hearing the details of his working relationship with his peers, among other things. The seemingly guaranteed approval of Bolton has been thrown into a cocked hat, and will serve as yet another battle front between the movementarians, backed by the neo-cons, and the old-schoolers.

Beyond the filibuster brawl, Mr. Bolton and the looming stem-cell crunch is the matter of Social Security reform. Many old-school conservatives are leery of the Bush plan to overhaul this program, probably because they can do simple math. The plan, because of this resistance, has appeared dead in the water for weeks, and yet the White House keeps pushing. Bush, for his part, actually asked Republicans on Tuesday to "resist pressure from constituents" and support his plan. Big talk for a guy who doesn't have to run again.

The lingering election beef. Schiavo. The filibuster deal, which earned the following reaction from the president of the Iowa Christian Coalition: "We'll educate people in the caucuses, and this is not going to do them a lot of good in terms of their presidential aspirations." The stem cell fight, the 50 Republican defectors in the House, and the threatened veto. Bolton. The looming brawl over Social Security reform. The once-mighty GOP coalition is fragmenting before our very eyes.

Those who have watched the White House and Congress run roughshod over the best traditions and ideals of this nation can do two things while this fight unfolds: Sit back and enjoy the rift, or exploit it.

I vote for Option B.

The time has come to mount a bull-throated charge to get American troops out of Iraq. Eleven U.S. troops have died in the last 48 hours, bringing the total to 1,647. Billions and billions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into the sand to no avail. The public dialogue on Iraq is paralyzed, locked between those who believe we have to stay and those who think slogans like 'Out Now!" with no plans to augment the sentiment are the only proper response. It is Vietnam all over again.

Rather than leave the dialogue stuck in this rut, the time has come to develop an intelligent, effective plan for the removal of troops from Iraq and the delivery of that nation back into the hands of the people who live there. Democratic leaders Reid, Pelosi and Dean must be made to see this as the only intelligent choice. More to the point, Republican old-schoolers who are disgusted with the neo-cons and their 'useful idiot' movementarian shock troops can be brought on board as a part of their insurgency against their rotten leaders.

Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son to this Iraq mess, knows in her heart this is possible. "Members of Congress know that Iraq is a mistake," Sheehan wrote me on Tuesday night. "I know, because I have spoken to many members of the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans alike, who all acknowledge that Iraq is a catastrophe. Eleven of America's children have been senselessly killed in the last 24 hours. Hundreds have been killed since the Duelfer Report that said that Iraq had no WMD and couldn't have had them for about a decade."

"Dozens of our nation's children have been needlessly murdered since the 'smoking gun' memo from Great Britain dated 23 July, 2002, was exposed at the beginning of this month," continued Sheehan. "My son, Casey, was killed after 'Mission Accomplished' on 01 May 2003. How many innocent Iraqis have been killed? We don't know, because we don't count them. It is time to end the selfish and destructive partisan politics that infect our government and are responsible for so much death and devastation in Iraq. It is time for every member of Congress to look in their hearts and cry out for an end to the immoral and illegal occupation of Iraq."

"It has been encouraging to me," continued Sheehan, "to see that conscientious Republicans have begun to split with their party line on such things as the Bolton nomination and the so-called 'nuclear option.' It is time that Republican members of Congress break with their party and their President on the issue of Iraq, and work with like-minded Democratic members of Congress to get our troops out of the quagmire as soon as safely possible. Tragically, for too many American and Iraqi families, it is way past time."

Exploit the rift. The time is now.

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French fries protester regrets war jibe
Jamie Wilson in Washington
The Guardian
Wednesday May 25, 2005

It was a culinary rebuke that echoed around the world, heightening the sense of tension between Washington and Paris in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. But now the US politician who led the campaign to change the name of french fries to "freedom fries" has turned against the war.

Walter Jones, the Republican congressman for North Carolina who was also the brains behind french toast becoming freedom toast in Capitol Hill restaurants, told a local newspaper the US went to war "with no justification".

Mr Jones, who in March 2003 circulated a letter demanding that the three cafeterias in the House of Representatives' office buildings ban the word french from menus, said it was meant as a "light-hearted gesture".

But the name change, still in force, made headlines around the world, both for what it said about US-French relations and its pettiness.

Now Mr Jones appears to agree. Asked by a reporter for the North Carolina News and Observer about the name-change campaign - an idea Mr Jones said at the time came to him by a combination of God's hand and a constituent's request - he replied: "I wish it had never happened."

Although he voted for the war, he has since become one of its most vociferous opponents on Capitol Hill, where the hallway outside his office is lined with photographs of the "faces of the fallen".

"If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong," he told the newspaper. "Congress must be told the truth."

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Bush's war comes home

His dream of dominating every government institution in tatters, the US president is already plotting his revenge
Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday May 26, 2005
The Guardian

President Bush's drive for absolute power has momentarily stalled. In a single coup, he planned to take over all the institutions of government. By crushing the traditions of the Senate he would pack the courts, especially the supreme court, with lockstep ideologues. Sheer force would prevail. But just as his blitzkrieg reached the outskirts of his objective, he was struck by a mutiny. Within the span of 24 hours he lost control not only of the Senate but temporarily of the House of Representatives, which was supposed to be regimented by unquestioned loyalty. Now he prepares to launch a counterattack - against the dissident elements of his own party.

Bush's wonder weapon for total victory was a device called the "nuclear option". Once it was triggered, it would obliterate a 200-year-old tradition of the Senate. The threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate of his appointments to the federal bench would set the doomsday sequence in motion. The Senate Republican majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, would call for a change in the rule, and a simple majority would vote to abolish the filibuster. Bush's nominees would sail through.

Unlike the House, the Senate was constructed by the constitutional framers as an unrepresentative body, with each state, regardless of population, allotted two senators. Currently, the Republicans have 55 senators who represent only 45% of the country. The Senate creates its own rules, and the filibuster can only be stopped by a super-majority of 60 votes. Historically, it was used by southern senators to block civil rights legislation. In the first two years of the Clinton presidency, the Republicans deployed 48 filibusters, more than in the entire previous history of the Senate, to make the new Democratic chief executive appear feckless. The strategy was instrumental in the Republican capture of the Congress in 1994. By depriving the Democrats of the filibuster, Bush intended to transform the Senate into his rubber stamp.

For many senators the fate of the filibuster was only superficially about an arcane rule change. And shameless hypocrisy was the least of the problem. (Frist, like most Republicans in favour of the nuclear option, had enthusiastically filibustered against Clinton's court nominees, 65 of which were blocked from 1995-2000.) If Bush succeeded he would have effectively removed the Senate's "advice and consent" on executive appointments, drastically reducing its power.

Over the weekend, two elders, Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, and Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, pored over the federalist papers, written by the constitutional framers, to refresh their thinking about the inviolability of the Senate. On Monday, seven Republicans and seven Democrats signed a pact that preserved the filibuster under "extraordinary" circumstances and allowed several of Bush's appointments to be voted on.

The mutiny is broader than is apparent. More than the seven Republican signatories supported the accord, but they let the others take a public stance without revealing themselves. Bush's radicalism offended their conservatism. Eisenhower would be their preferred model for a Republican president. These Republican senators are the equivalent of the Republicans on the supreme court, Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, who are conservative but operate without ideology, and hold the balance against the aggressive rightwing justices.

The day after Bush was frustrated by Republicans in the Senate, 50 Republicans in the House deserted him on the issue of stem cell research. His policy limiting scientific work is a sop to the religious right that views the stem cell question as an extension of abortion. Debate in the House was marshalled by Republican majority leader Tom DeLay, who argued that Bush's policy must be supported because "Jesus of Nazareth" began life as an embryo. Bush promised to veto the stem cell bill passed with massive Republican defections, the irony of his opposition to the filibuster unmentioned.

The compromise pact in the Senate on the filibuster hardly postpones the coming storms. The White House intends to push judicial nominees that the Democrats are almost certain to filibuster. With the elimination of the nuclear option, the filibuster may also be used against Bush's supreme court appointments. Evangelical religious right leaders denounce Republican senators as sell-outs. One of the most influential, James Dobson, has cursed one of the silent compromise supporters, Senator Trent Lott, the former Republican majority leader from Mississippi, as a Judas, and Lott has called Dobson "quite unChristian".

Meanwhile, the conflict has focused attention on the Republican presidential succession of 2008, pitting Bill Frist - positioning himself as the darling of the right - against cantankerous John McCain, one of the Republican magnificent seven. Within the party, metal is scraping on metal. But the more the resistance, the more Bush presses forward. His unilateralism abroad has been brought home, with a vengeance, to his partisan wars.

In federalist paper number 69 (perhaps re-read by Byrd and Warner), Alexander Hamilton concludes his examination of the differences between the "qualified" powers of the US presidency and the "absolute" powers of the king of Great Britain: "The one has no particle of spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and governor of the national church! What answer shall we give to those who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each other? The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a monarchy, and a despotism."

Comment: It has been clear for years that the GOP was being overtaken by so-called Conservatives who had little in common ideologically with the historical meaning of the political term. Of course, they called themselves neo-conservatives to draw the distinction. The neocons are radicals out to change government, not to "conserve" it.

As the articles above describe, it looks as if the old guard of the party have had enough. The troops are revolting. The "moderate" Republicans and the Democrats may be able to form a centrist coalition against the crazies of the Bush Reich.

And then what?

If the fundamentalists who feel themselves on the verge of long-term power and the establishment of an American theocracy see their dream taken away, how will they react? Does their piety include a recognition that their political opponents have the right to rule?

And even if the fundamentalists and neocons retire gracefully, are there any members of this coalition who will look into the truth of 9/11? Are there any members of this coalition who will look at the role played by the US in the world? Or will they simply try and remove some of the sharp edges from America's image abroad? Start consulting more with their allies? Be a little more friendly at the UN? Give the appearance that things have changed, the radical crazies have been removed, the American democracy works, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah?

George H.W. Bush is himself among the supposed old-style, Ivy League, Eastern elite.

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Freedom's just another word for dodging tough questions
May 27, 2005

The news from Washington is like a bad Broadway show, the kind that promises to make you laugh and cry and be better than "Cats."

The comedy came first. On Monday, President Bush stood beside Afghan President Hamid Karzai for a "Joint Press Availability."

Asked if the Iraqi insurgency was getting more difficult to defeat militarily, Bush answered with a classic Dubya-ism.

"No, I don't think so," he said, "I think they're being defeated. And that's why they continue to fight."

It's the sort of answer that makes you pause and scratch your head for just long enough to give him a chance to change the subject. He's quite masterful at doing this, which made me wonder if he hadn't taken Karzai aside before the press conference and whispered in his ear, "Listen, Hammie, these reporters are tricky. You better let me handle 'em. I've got 'em wrapped around my finger with this whole newspeak war-is-peace idea Karl found in some book from the 1980s."

But Bush's Orwellian logic -- good for only a cynical chuckle -- was definitely not the comic high point of the afternoon. Instead, for sheer free press-thwarting brilliance, Karzai easily won the day.

After the two men made some opening remarks, talking about the glories of bringing democracy to Afghanistan, Bush announced, "And in the spirit of the free press, we'll answer a couple of questions."

Afghanistan's 'free' press

The first question dealt with the military's treatment of Afghan prisoners of war. It was full of facts and details and built-in follow-ups, so you could tell the reporter asking it would probably never get called on again. And, after this rocky start, Bush decided to let the American reporters cool their heels for a while.

"Somebody from the Afghan press?" he asked next.

There was an awkward silence, which Karzai gamely tried to fill in by asking, "Anybody from the Afghan press? Do we have an Afghan press?"

Then he spotted the single reporter his government had permitted to travel outside Afghanistan.

"Oh, here he is," Karzai said, as the room filled with the not-quite-warm laughter of people who suspect they might actually be the butt of a joke but aren't sure.

It turned out, National Public Radio journalist David Greene reported later, there were nine other Afghan reporters who were to have followed Karzai on his U.S. visit but, at the last minute, the Karzai government decided to withhold their travel permits for fear the journalists might try to escape their troubled homeland.

Bush seemed genuinely surprised that the Afghan reporters weren't there -- American journalists had been asked to fill in their empty seats -- so it seems that Karzai forgot to mention to his good friend that the whole free press thing has a slightly different meaning in the burgeoning democracy that is Afghanistan.

I imagine they had a pretty good laugh about that one.

And I bet Bush was jealous.

Making a grown man cry

Later in the week, the comic first act on Pennsylvania Avenue gave way to a tragic second act on Capital Hill.

Reports are divided as to whether Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) was crying or just fighting back tears as he spoke on the Senate floor on Wednesday. But either way, he was obviously very emotional as he begged his Republican colleagues to reconsider their party line support of John Bolton, the Bush nominee for ambassador to the United Nations.

"I know some of my friends say, 'Let it go, George. It's going to work out,' " Voinovich said. "I don't want to take the risk. I came back here and ran for a second term because I'm worried about my kids and my grandchildren."

It was also clear that Voinovich was worried for his political life. Conservative groups are already running ads against him, and Bush allies have been busily trashing him to anyone who'll listen.

The pressure, Voinovich told one interviewer, has been "overwhelming."

Listening to Voinovich's desperately cracking voice was utterly heartbreaking. And so was this line, written by Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Sabrina Eaton after the close of the senator's speech: "With that, Voinovich returned to his seat and fidgeted with a yellow highlighting pen until he regained his composure."

Anyone who has ever cried at work knows exactly what that moment felt like, trying so hard to fight back tears that it only makes you cry more. It is the loneliest feeling in the world.

'Cats,' at least, was quick

I think we heard the Bush administration in full voice this week, laughing at those who ask questions, wringing tears from those who would dare dissent.

If it were a Broadway show, you could buy a ticket, watch the show and then walk out into the open air. But this is our real life, and there are not even fire exits.

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Conclusions of The Barcelona Session of the World Tribunal on Iraq
Barcelona, May 22, 2005
IraqSolidaridad 05-26-05

The International Tribunal on Iraq, constituted in Barcelona (for members see below), joins a series of sessions that began in Brussels in March 2004 and will finish in June 2005 in Istanbul. Sessions have been held in Berlin, Stockholm, Hiroshima, Rome, New York and other cities. Before the war a session of the Permanent Tribunal of the People was held in Rome about the illegality of armed intervention in Iraq.

The facts considered by this Tribunal have their roots in the long history of colonization of the Near and Middle East and of the control of the oil production by the European nations and, more recently, by the USA. Control over oil production has become a prime factor in determining military strategies, the setting up of military bases and eventually the resources of the war.

Various justifications -such as the lack of democracy in the region and the fight against terrorism, not to mention the false accusation of the possession of weapons of mass destruction-, serve as the pretext for armed interventions. The messianic speech by President Bush and his neoconservative advisors also give us the idea that this is a conflict of civilizations, and even of religions.

Also, the so called economical, social and political reconstruction of Iraq by the occupying power that has involved the privatization of economical activities in favour of mainly USA interests, the destruction of rural agriculture in favour of exportation, the privatization of public services such as health and education, correspond to the orientation of the neoliberal global model promoted by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The dramatic consequences of this logic are: injustice, crime, violation of people's rights, suffering and death, as it happened before in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Columbia and in many other places in the world. This is why the war in Iraq isn't only a criminal aggression against the people, but also the result of a global project that concerns all humanity. If the project that is being carried out in Iraq isn't stopped, there is a real danger of it extending to other countries of the region.

The Tribunal has heard the testimonies of Iraqi citizens, men and women who have travelled purposely to Barcelona to explain to the Tribunal the present reality in Iraq (see list below). The Tribunal has underlined the courage and civil merit of these witnesses that have constituted the fundamental principle of the pronunciation of the Tribunal. They represent the most varied field of the society of their country, workers, health, education, journalism and the defence of human rights. For this reason, and because of their immediate knowledge of the reality, their testimonies are of the maximum credibility and have allowed the Tribunal the access to rigorous and true information.

And so we conclude:

1. The invasion and occupation of Iraq and the process of transition designed by the occupants was not aimed at the government of Iraq, but against the State of Iraq. To the illegality of the attack and the invasion we must add the illegality of the measures contrary to the rules of international law that ban any changes to the judiciary statutes of the invaded territory, or the usurping of the sovereignty of the occupied State, including its natural resources. All these measures were adopted during the Provisional Authority of the Coalition, directed by Paul Bremer, with the intention of these changes becoming permanent.

2. According to international law, the occupation caused by armed conflict is a factual situation. Its existence or non-existence doesn't depend on a formal declaration, not even on behalf of the Security Council of the United Nations. The title of occupant derives from the real authority, because this authority constitutes the basis of the occupant's responsibility. The occupying power and its allies apparently continue in Iraq at the request of the transitional Iraqi government. Facts show that there is no subordination of the multinational force to the government, but to the US command. The final authority, not only the military but also the civil power, and the effective control of the territory resides in the USA Government and in the thousands of advisors dependant on its embassy in Baghdad.

3. The dismantling of the productive structure of Iraq and the savage introduction of the market economy, the privatization of agriculture, industry and services and in particular the impossibility of the Iraqi people to benefit from their prime resource - oil - mean a flagrant violation of international law and the privation of the basic rights of the Iraqi people.

4. Many of the facts that have been put forward in Barcelona constitute war crimes, as defined in article 8, paragraphs1 & 2 of the statute of the International Criminal Court. They also constitute crimes against humanity as defined in article 7 of the same statute. These crimes are as much the responsibility of the occupying power as that of the individuals that commit them, allow them to happen, or aid the culprits.

5. The invasion and occupation of Iraq, against sovereignty, individuals and collectives of the Iraqi people, give full legitimacy to the resistance, which according to article 51 of the United Nations Chart expresses the right to legitimate defence, constituting the only guarantee to a free and democratic future.

6. In the same way all forms of terrorism that only prejudice the construction of this future are categorically rejected.

7. The recuperation of the full sovereignty of Iraq must first undergo the immediate removal of all the occupier's military contingents, the dismantling of its bases and the ceasing of its repressive rule. Whilst this removal does not take place the local authorities will lack a minimum legitimacy and its political and legal decisions, particularly the implantation of a new constitution, will not be valid. Only after this withdrawal will a new plural and truly independent political power be formed. This will not be the product of formulas of designation or of elections orientated by external agents and will not be subject to trusteeship and so restricted in its attributions.

8. The setting up of guarantees of full and effective respect of human rights, as well as the demands of responsibility for all the acts committed by the occupier -including the material and moral compensation of the people that have suffered violations of their fundamental rights- is indispensable.

9. Full recuperation of political sovereignty is the first step towards the recuperation of economical sovereignty. Only a truly free government can adopt effective policies aimed at the dispensation of help, the normalization of the services, the remission of privatizations, the end of corruption and compensation for the destruction.

The Tribunal agrees to send its report to the United Nations, to the government of the occupying powers, to the Spanish Government and to the Generalitat de Catalunya, to the European Union Commission and to the person responsible for Political Security and Defence of the European Union.

And finally, the Tribunal hopes that citizens from all over the world will maintain their solidarity with the people of Iraq, their sensitization in relation with the violations of human rights and their will to fight in favour of peace.

Barcelona, May 22, 2005

Comment: As an example of the independence of the new Iraqi government, consider this report which tells us that the new and "sovereign" Iraqi government has sentenced a former Iraqi captain to death for the 'crime' of fighting US occupation forces. Now that's what we call an independent and representative Iraqi administration.

All points made by the International Tribunal on Iraq are factually correct, yet there is little chance that any of it will be heeded by the maniacs in the US government. The lies will continue to stream from the White House, Pentagon and the US mainstream media, and the people of the world will continue to be frogmarched ever closer to the edge of the cliff. Unless, of course, the aliens come and save us all first, which would truly be a fate worse than death.

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The Insufferable Silence
Anthony Wade,
May 24, 2005

How much is enough America? How much is enough before we stand up collectively and say, "No more". America has become sedated, tranquilized by a corporate media that keeps the truth from coming to light on an everyday basis. Anesthetized to the point that when the vilest acts perpetrated in the war on terror are being carried out by us, we just flip the channel to see if we can see who is left on American Idol. What has happened to our collective conscience when in latter day America we spend more time worrying about the freak show that is the Jackson trial then what atrocities are being committed in our name.

That is right America; this war is fought in your name, my name, and the names of every other citizen who resides in this country. Do you even remember why? Do you care anymore? Tens of thousands of people have died, over 1,600 of our own and do you even remember why? Does their blood scream out to you, as it does to me, as an American, as a Christian, as a human?

If not, then maybe the latest story out of Afghanistan will shake our collective conscience. You remember Afghanistan don't you? That was where this great war started. We were told it was where the big bad guy, bin Laden was. As it turns out, as soon as we had him surrounded, we let him go. We continued though to bulldoze through the country and install our puppet government in the name of democracy. The reality was a little more stark, as this resulted in the return of Afghanistan is the world's chief supplier of heroin. That aside, we were told that Afghanistan was a great example of the success of the war on terror. The real terror however, has been going on after the great victories.

As reported this week, on Friday, there was another incident of prisoner abuse that resulted in the deaths of two suspects. These reports usually break on Friday, so the media can ignore them and then switch subjects come Monday. Just another shot of anesthesia for the American populace. The deaths are not only disgusting, but they now represent what we have become, what our legacy is.

Mr. Dilawar was a quiet man with a wife and daughter who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The place was Afghanistan and the time was during the Bush Wars. Driving his taxi past a base used by American troops, Camp Salerno, which had been the target of a rocket attack that morning; was his undoing. In a land dominated by an unrelenting foreign power, us, Mr. Dilawar was promptly picked up for interrogation. His crime was DWA, driving while Afghani. Mr. Dilawar was not an imposing man, standing only at 5 foot nine inches and weighing 122 pounds. That mattered not to his captors, us, who immediately labeled him as non-compliant. Apparently non-compliant is not a label you want in a U.S. prison in Afghanistan.

His torture started with over 100 strikes to his legs in a 24 hours period, while he was shackled standing up. Three days later, he began his fourth interrogation. His hands were slapped back up every time they fell below his head. They were falling of course because of the beatings and shackled positions he had been forced to endure for the past three days. He was violently shoved against a wall multiple times, because he could not sit in a chair as instructed by his tormentors, us. Of course he could not sit because of the state of his legs, battered over 100 times in a day. After 15 minutes of this, he was so weak he could not get up so they stood him up. It was then that the Sergeant stepped back and kicked him fiercely in the groin. Seemingly unsatisfied by this "interrogation", the Sergeant then instructed them to leave the battered Mr. Dilawar chained to the ceiling with a black hood over his head.

Soon, he was crying out for mercy when his captors investigated. He said he needed to see a doctor because of his legs. The attending MP said he was ok and just trying to get out of his restraints. The next morning began his final interrogation. Mr. Dilawar was incoherent. The treatment was similar. He was beaten some more, choked with his black hood, and all in the name of you an I. By that time the next day, God had granted Mr. Dilawar the peace his captors, us, refused to give him for so many days. There was zero intelligence gathered and it appears the man had done nothing wrong.

The autopsy confirmed that death was cause by the blunt trauma to his legs which in the word of one of the coroners, were basically pulpified. Did you get that America? They beat this 122 pound man in his legs so badly that the tissue turned into pulp. The coroner compared the injuries to someone getting run over by a bus.

Mr. Dilawar was one of two murdered prisoners from that prison at that time. I will not review the horrific details of the other, except to say that it is no less violent and no less despicable. Most of the troops working there had decided that Dilawar was innocent before the final interrogation that took his life. They killed him anyway. They killed him in your name. They killed him in my name. By God, they killed him in Christ's name and that is what has to stop.

George Bush goes to great lengths to tell us about his Christianity. Some say it is what clinched the last election for him. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, not war. I have read the Bible and did not come across the word pulpify. There is nothing Christian about this war. Yet Pastors all over this country support this man and his policies of death and torture. It has to stop.

We were told that these wars are to protect us. Bush has done a masterful job of connecting two countries that have little to do with terror and making them the central point for his wars. The only thing that made Afghanistan central to terror was Osama bin Laden and he has not been there since we first got there and let him escape. Iraq had nothing to do with it at all and thousands have died because of nothing. In your name.

How much will be enough for you? Monday will bring a new day and a new opportunity for the media to ignore this story, which should be the only story. There will be a new witness in the Jackson fiasco. There will be more developments in the nuclear showdown in the Senate. Even if they manage to get around to it, will they simply tell us more fairy tales of bad apples? How many Lyndie England's will it take to make you say no more? How many more Charles Graner's will it take to break through this silence? How many more before we all realize it is not a couple of bad apples but the farmer that is to blame. When you draft memos designed to render the Geneva Convention "quaint", you are the root cause of the bad apples. When you outsource torture you are the primary cause of the bad apples. When you invade countries that have nothing to do with terrorism and ally with countries that support it, you are the only cause of the bad apples. You are the bad apple.

Bush will continue to make grand speeches that defy the very facts that are occurring every day. His media machine will support it, and keep giving you the sedatives you are used to. Somewhere in a poor country that we have annihilated though, someone else will be killed in your name. They will be killed in my name. Where is the outrage? Why is there nothing but silence?

Will there be any outrage for a country that pretends to act in the cause of morality but behaves with no morality guiding it? Will there be any outrage for a President that claims to talk to God and then perpetrates such blinding evil upon mankind? Will there be any outrage that our media has sold us out?

Will there be any outrage for Mr. Dilawar, a 122 pound innocent taxi driver from Afghanistan, murdered in your name, for the cause of freedom. Or will there just be more of this insufferable silence.

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CIA man saw detainee abuse

San Diego, May 25, 2005 - A CIA official testified he witnessed the "pummelling" of a detainee at a Navy Seal base in Baghdad in 2003, but a former Seal who beat the prisoner said he was acting on instructions from the CIA.

The differing accounts were offered as the court-martial of Navy Seal Lieutenant Andrew Ledford got under way on Tuesday. Ledford, accused of charges including assault, dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer, faces a maximum of 11 years in military prison if convicted.

The CIA official, who was shielded from public view, testified he recalled seeing a small crowd gathered around a Seal who was landing blows on the back of the prisoner who lay face down.

The CIA official described it "as a kind of pummelling" and called it an isolated incident during his year in Iraq. He said his senior officer notified a Seal commander at the scene to get control of his men and halt the abuse.

"I never saw anything like that prior with this unit or any other unit and I never saw anything like that again," the CIA official said.

Prosecutors have cited the October 20 2003, beating as one of three examples of detainee abuse committed by members of a Seal platoon commanded by Ledford. The allegedly beaten prisoner was not named.

The former Seal, Dan Cerrillo, said he beat the prisoner because he believed he was subject to the orders of "the people we're not supposed to talk about" - an apparent reference to CIA agents who often worked on missions with the Seals to capture suspected insurgents and other so-called high-value targets.

"The interrogator would say make him talk and I would try to make him talk," Cerrillo said. He said he struck, pushed and shoved the hooded and handcuffed detainee's head into the sand about 10 to 15 times using what he characterised as a mix of moderate and heavy force.

Cerrillo, who served under Ledford and received a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained in Iraq, was one of eight members of Seal Team Seven who received administrative punishment earlier this year for their roles in detainee abuse. He left the navy this month and works for a private security company.

The only alleged attack that resulted in the death of a detainee involved Manadel al-Jamadi, a suspect in the bombing a month earlier of Red Cross offices in Iraq that killed 12 people. Cerrillo and other platoon members allegedly kicked, punched and stuck al-Jamadi with their rifle muzzles at an army base. They also posed for photos with the hooded and handcuffed detainee.

Al-Jamadi died on November 4 in a shower room at Abu Ghraib during a CIA interrogation. Documents show that army guards said al-Jamadi died while suspended by his wrists, which were handcuffed behind his back.

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The Stench of "Progress"
May 25, 2005

The Torture and the Lies Continue

"He was a murderer from the beginning , and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it."
The Gospel according to St John, VIII, 44.

". . . the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time . . .violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation , cruel treatment and torture . . ."
Geneva Convention, Article 3.

At his travesty of a press conference on April 28 Bush said "I believe we are making good progress in Iraq . . ." If the man really believes this he is either in a state of delusion amounting to terminal mental incompetence or totally in the hands of Machiavellian puppeteers who are feeding him false information. If he does not believe it, he is a liar. Your call.

Examination of the situation in Iraq shows that the Bush administration's position is desperate. His occupation forces cannot guarantee the safety of a traveler on the only road between the airport and Baghdad city. It is impossible for foreigners to venture outside the US fortress called the Green Zone without a platoon-size bodyguard and helicopter gunships, and even then they are in extreme danger. The US military cannot provide security for citizens in the capital city of the country Bush invaded in the name of freedom or whatever lie it was that he and his fellow liars told at the time of their preparations for war. (Some squalid deceit about Iraq being responsible for 9/11 and having imaginary Weapons of Mass Destruction, wasn't it?)

On the day Bush made his imbecilic boast about progress the US soldiers killed in Iraq were Private Robert Murray, Lieutenant William Edens, Specialist Ricky Rockholt, Sergeant Timothy Kaiser, and Sergeant Eric Morris. That's progress?

Think about it: "Tell me, my dear, who was your daddy?" "My daddy was a soldier and he was killed in Baghdad the day the President of the United States said he was making good progress in Iraq."

In April, up to the time of that insanely perky speech, 40 other American servicemen died in Iraq and 126 were wounded. That's progress? Perhaps Bush means it is progress when the number of dead includes more Iraqi soldiers than American soldiers.

And while on the subject of American soldiers, did you read Bob Herbert's account in the New York Times of his talk with one of the seemingly few honorable soldiers who have been in Iraq? Aidan Delgado told Mr Herbert that "Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvees and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians . . . They'd keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads." That's liberation, Bush-style, and it makes Iraqis feel secure and free and grateful to their liberators to the point that when a suicide bomber blew the hell out of Baghdad city center on May 12 the surviving bystanders threw stones at American soldiers who arrived on the scene. (That revealing incident wasn't shown on US television.)

* * *

After he lied about the "progress" he is making in Iraq, Bush announced that "the Iraqi people are beginning to see the benefits of a free society. Nevertheless there are still some in Iraq who are not happy with democracy. They want to go back to the old days of tyranny and darkness [and] torture chambers . . . ."

Little Bubba Bush, that smirking, complacent, self-righteous, pitiable twit, must know that the Iraqi people are living right now under tyranny and in darkness and with torture chambers. The only difference is that the torture chambers are being operated by US soldiers. And he must know that hundreds of people are being tortured around the world in the cause of his "free society". Bush does not read books so cannot be familiar with 'Inside the Wire' by former US soldier Erik Saar who saw much of the depravity and vileness at Guantanamo Bay -- but this doesn't excuse him from responsibility for the atrocities being carried out under his orders.

Harry Truman -- the model of the ordinary decent person the vulgar and ignorant Texas glitterati despise -- had the sign "The Buck Stops Here" in the Oval Office. But the pathetic little wind-up dummy now sitting there relies on his care assistants to make sure that "The Buck Stops As Low As I Can Get It to Stop". Bush personally signed the instrument demoting a brigadier general for permitting the torture in Abu Ghraib, but his arrogant Pentagon manipulators say there can be no blame attached to the much more senior officers who were not only aware of the torture jamboree but tried to deny and disguise the loathsome atrocities that were committed in the name of Bush Freedom.

They are liars, the lot of them. Right up the chain of Command.

There are many examples of full-scale deceit in the recent past, including the appalling lies about how Pat Tillman was killed by the enemy when in fact senior officers knew perfectly well he was killed by his own side in a military disaster that disgraced the entire profession of arms and especially the United States Army.

The lying goes on, and we were told two weeks ago that 125 "rebels" had been killed by Marines in western Iraq, without a shred of evidence that this was so. Did that number include any of the civilians who were slaughtered when 500 pound bombs missed their targets? Did it include civilians killed when tanks and artillery and helicopter gunships pounded their villages?

According to 'Stars and Stripes', the US military newspaper, the recent Operation Matador was "aimed at smuggling routes and safe houses for foreign fighters arriving in Iraq through the western desert border area". It was hailed as a success by every US news outlet, except the papers in small towns in which there are relatives of the nine dead and over 40 wounded Marines. Matador was not a success, of course : it was a bloody shambles in which an unknown number of nomads, farmers and their families, anti-US fighters and ordinary cross-border food and gasoline smugglers were killed. Most of the guerrillas just melted away to fight again another day, having gained more recruits from the towns and villages that were utterly destroyed by those the civilian population now regard as the enemy : the US occupation force. But it is vital for Bush propaganda that the best possible story be told about all military operations, or there might be questioning of the Great War Leader. The mind-benders in Washington believe that to admit unsavory truth is to admit weakness. At all costs this must be avoided.

Imagine a general telling the truth if he might forfeit promotion by doing so. OK, so that's hard. The last general who did it was the honorable Major General Taguba who seems to be one of the few honest senior officers in the whole damn' military. He headed the inquiry into the conduct of the infamous 800 Military Police Brigade, and he tore it to well-deserved shreds. But he could not refer to or comment on responsibilities of officers superior to Brigadier General (now demoted to Colonel) Janis Karpinski because his focus was directed solely at the MP brigade. And no wonder, because the inquiry was set up by the most incompetent officer in Iraq : the Commander, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, who was not about to give broad terms of reference to an investigation that would reveal him as a bungling nitwit.

And now we learn about the vile happenings in Afghanistan since the US invasion. On May 20 The New York Times published details about vicious torture and eventual murder of helpless captives. Before the story was broken by the Times it was denied by every spokesperson and the slimy "sources who spoke on conditions of anonymity" that there had been disgusting brutality. And of course they were believed. After all, the people who suffered torture at the hands of American soldiers were by that time in the Nazi-style hell of Guantánamo Bay. And those who had been tortured to death by ordinary American boys -- "Support Our Torturing Troops" -- were . . . ,well, dead.

On May 21 Bush declared that Afghanistan which "once knew only the terror of the Taliban is now seeing a rebirth of freedom . . . " That is freedom, Bush-style, of course : freedom for US occupation troops to torture and murder prisoners. It is unlikely the Taliban would have agreed entirely with the American soldiers who tortured citizens to death in their country, but there is a certain disgusting similarity between them. The Taliban persecuted people out of religious frenzy, and US soldiers torture people for fun.

It was a joke to these US soldiers that their helpless captives died lingering deaths, suffering hellishly for days from soldiers' fists and feet and dogs before merciful release. The documents given to the Times include one terrifying quotation concerning one of the tortured and murdered men : "Everyone heard him cry out and thought it was funny." We are now told that the men were "young and poorly trained", as if this could be justification for torture and murder. "Oh, excuse me while I ram this broomstick up your ass, but I'm young and poorly trained". Tim Golden's opening sentence in the Times sums it up : "Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him". Can you imagine this? Are we really talking about soldiers of the American Army? The slogan "Support Our Troops" has taken on a new meaning.

After the murders committed by these dozens of US soldiers, "Military spokesmen maintained that both men died of natural causes, even after military coroners had ruled the deaths homicides". But what else can we expect? The commander-in-chief tells lie after lie after lie, so his subordinates follow his example.

While Erik Saar is reviled and sent hate mail by rabid 'Christian' dumdums because he told the truth about torture, US generals are considered heroes in spite of telling lies to Congress about torture. The topsy-turvy world of the Bush zealots is revealed in all its tawdry squalor by this reversal of morality. Reveal the truth and suffer -- but tell lies and prosper. The only thing that matters is the Bush vision of the world, and he must be supported at all costs. (After all, millions of Americans, including at least one three star general, believe that Bush was appointed president by God.)

The generals are not just liars. They are evil and disgusting apologies for humanity, just like the Marine who murdered - who deliberately blew the head off - an unarmed, semi-conscious, wounded man lying on the floor of a mosque. (There can be no doubt about it : there is video film of the whole ghastly atrocity.) Predictably enough, the generals protected him, and he was not charged with any sort of wrongdoing, which sends the message to the Iraqi people and the world that US soldiers can murder with impunity.

On May 5 Bush declared "They [al Qaeda] hate freedom, and they hate people who embrace freedom And they're willing to kill innocent Iraqis because Iraqis are willing to be free. Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country." Yes indeed : Iraqis are certainly sick of foreign people coming to their country and trying to destabilize their country. The foreigners of whom they are sick are American troops. Iraqis hate the Bush administration because its arrogant swaggering bullies in uniform break down house doors at dead of night and terrorise women and children. They hate Bush and all he stands for because his soldiers spray bullets at innocent Iraqis without fear of disciplinary action. They and the people of Afghanistan hate and fear everything about Bush because his troops have tortured and murdered helpless people. They will hate America forever. This is the Bush legacy to the world.

The fact that the US military system permitted the undeniable murder of a helpless man to be dismissed without any judicial proceedings is not surprising in the Bush era. The murderer, after all, was killing for Bush freedom. But the system was quick to deal with a young sailor, Pablo Paredes, who refused to board his ship last December to go to the war on Iraq. He was making the point that the war is illegal, and there was no question of him being a coward. In fact he knew perfectly well that the military machine would have no mercy on him. He was, if you like, the moral equivalent of a suicide bomber, because he hurt only himself. (The military prosecutors claimed he was a publicity-seeker who considered using drugs to obtain a discharge : the usual lies and smears.)

Pablo Paredes was court-martialed and sentenced to three months' hard labor. He never told a lie to the US Congress. He didn't pile naked people in heaps and set dogs on them. He didn't blow the head off a helpless unarmed man. He didn't torture an Afghan taxi-driver to death and laugh about it. He was entirely non-violent and decided to follow his conscience rather than remain under command of a proven liar.

But if you tell lies to Congress, or murder a defenseless wounded man, or torture prisoners to death in any number of hideous ways, and if you try to conceal such war crimes, you will be protected as far as the Bush machine can manage to do so, because that's Bush Freedom and Bush Progress. Forget about abiding in the truth or following the Geneva Conventions. There's no promotion, power or profit in taking that route.

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Marines Drop Murder Charges Against Lieutenant Accused of Killing Two Iraqis
The Associated Press
May 26, 2005

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) - A Marine Corps general dismissed murder and other charges Thursday against a lieutenant accused of killing two Iraqis without justification, the military said.
The decision by Maj. Gen. Richard Huck, commander of the 2nd Marine Division, ends the prosecution of 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, a former Wall Street trader who rejoined the Marines after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The best interests of 2nd Lt. Pantano and the government have been served by this process," the Marine Corps said in a statement.

Pantano had been accused of premeditated murder for what prosecutors maintained was the unjustified killing of two suspected insurgents in 2004 near Mahmudiyah, Iraq.

Prosecutors alleged Pantano intended to make an example of the men by shooting them 60 times and hanging a sign over their bodies - "No better friend, no worse enemy," a Marine slogan.

Pantano contended he acted in self-defense after the men disobeyed his instructions and made a menacing move toward him.

An investigating officer had concluded in a report to Huck that murder charges should be dropped against Pantano.

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Unarmed Iraqi Cooperated, Then Shot, Soldier Testifies
Associated Press
Thursday, May 26, 2005; Page A17

FORT HOOD, Tex., May 25 -- An unarmed Iraqi cooperated with American troops searching his house and said "USA good" minutes before he was shot to death, a former U.S. soldier testified Wednesday at his onetime squad leader's murder trial.

Jason Pizer testified that the Iraqi was alive with Army Staff Sgt. Shane Werst when Pizer went to a translator to check the Iraqi's identification against a list of suspected insurgents.

Pizer said he radioed back to Werst to confirm the man was on the list. He said he then heard Werst say, "Expecting contact," and then the sound of gunfire. Pizer said he returned to the house and found Naser Ismail's body on the floor.

Werst, 32, is charged with premeditated murder and obstruction of justice in the January 2004 shooting of Ismail, which prosecutors say was in retaliation for a mortar attack that killed an Army captain earlier that day. Werst could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted.

Capt. Mark Santos, his defense attorney, said in opening statements that Werst shot Ismail because the Iraqi lunged at Pfc. Nathan Stewart and reached for his weapon. He said Werst was following the rules of engagement because he thought Stewart's life was in danger.

Stewart testified Tuesday that Werst became enraged and repeatedly shot Ismail because he thought the man had lied about his identity. After the shooting, Stewart said, Werst pulled out a non-U.S. military gun, fired it at a wall and told Stewart to get the Iraqi's fingerprints on the weapon. Werst later reported Ismail had fired first.

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Media Disinformation and the Nature of the Iraqi Resistance
by Ghali Hassan May 2005

The flurry of news, hypotheses, and disinformation about the nature of the Iraqi Resistance against the Occupation continues unabated.

How much of this is managed propaganda against the Iraqi Resistance?

According to both the Western mainstream media and the alternative media, the U.S. is "building democracy" and fighting "terrorism" in Iraq.

The distortions of reality and lack of oppositional media leave people in the West, Americans in particular, ill informed.

The Western media diligently diverts public attention from the illegal Occupation of Iraq and the responsibility of the U.S./Western governments for the horrendous crimes committed against the people of Iraq.

Western journalists and pundits are the main agents of this distorted propaganda. The aims are to portray the Iraqi Resistance as violent "religious fanatics" isolated from the rest of the population and to advocate for ongoing occupation.

Time and again, the public have shown to be less tolerant to the old cliché of "religious fanatics". By contrast, people around the world have a record of supporting national resistance movements.

In other word, portraying the Iraqi national Resistance movement as a collection of "religious fanatics" and "foreign" fighters "with nothing to lose" is the Occupation's way of discrediting the Iraqi Resistance and denying the Iraqi people their legitimate right to fight for freedom and national sovereignty.

Amply documented, the pretexts for the war and the Occupation were based on fake intelligence. Hence, the U.S. and its "allies" are in the process, through media disinformation, of not only legitimizing the Occupation, but also of creating new pretexts for the maintenance of continued US military presence.

The most common pretext in the media reports is that U.S. forces are invited to stay in Iraq to prevent civil war and "maintain stability".

But like the pretext of WMD, there is no evidence to support these U.S. sponsored lies.

There is a U.S-engineered stalemate with no one with a majority to govern effectively. The US installed "government" is powerless, dominated by the same groups of expatriates who lobbied for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The U.S. is pitting Iraqis against each other and creating a climate of fear.

In this regard, the creation, arming and financing of 'ethnic militias' and death squads by U.S. forces is designed to create ethnic divisions and provoke sectarian violence among Iraqis.

These US sponsored militia groups are:

The Kurdish Peshmerga whose leaders supported the U.S. invasion and Occupation.

The Iranian-trained Badr Brigades,

The armed wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) led by Ibrahim Al-Jaaferi of the Da'wa party,

The INC militia of Ahmed Chalabi, and the INA militia of Iyad Allawi.

All these groups are involved in terrorist activities against Iraqi civilians. The latter three groups, entered Iraq on the back of U.S. tanks, without valid Iraqi citizenship papers.

The Kurdish militia are the Occupation's most loyal collaborators, receiving arms and money from their masters. Together with the occupying forces, they are responsible for wide scale atrocities in Iraqi towns and villages.

Together with the Peshmerga, Israeli Mossad agents and U.S. forces, the militia groups went on systematic killings of thousands of prominent Iraqi academics, scientists, politicians and religious leaders. They also participated in the atrocity and total destruction of Fallujah, which is depicted as "the storming of Fallujah" in most mainstream media. The city was completely destroyed and still a ‘no go zone' for Iraqis. Other Iraqi towns and cities have not escaped this deliberate destruction.

Their crimes have never been investigated, and no one has been arrested. In fact the Bush Administration is protecting these criminals elements and encouraging their crimes.

Former U.S. administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer at the behest of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Deputy of Defence Paul Wolfowitz and Ahmad Chalabi initiated the murderous policy termed "DeBaathification".

The Bush Administration is not only supporting this murderous policy, it introduced the "El Salvador option" of murdering Iraqi dissidents through the appointment John Negroponte as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.

Chalabi who never lived in Iraq before the invasion, stated that he, "wants to raise Iraq from the ground and build ‘new' Iraq". What is taking place in Iraq today is a U.S-instigated criminal atrocity.

In addition to the daily intrusive and aggressive house raids being conducted by U.S. soldiers Iraqis also witness daily, routine street patrols.

Journalist Ken Dillian of Knight Ridder wrote:

"All day long, the soldiers pointed their guns at Iraqi civilians, whom they called ‘hajis'.... Wary of ambushes, they rammed cars that got in the way of their Humvees. Always on the lookout for car bombs, they stopped, screamed at, shoved to the ground and searched people driving down the road after curfew - or during the day if they looked suspicious".

According to a recent report by the U.S. Project on Defense Alternatives:

"Strong majorities in the Sunni and Shiite community oppose the occupation – and significant minorities have registered support for attacks on US troops. ‘What drives these attitudes more than anything else', says the report's author, Carl Conetta, ‘are nationalism, the coercive practices of the occupation, and the collateral effects of military operations'".

The report, Vicious Circle: The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq, notes U.S. occupation abuses many Iraqis every day. Iraqis face: "Constant foreign military patrols - about 12,000 per week; Ubiquitous (and too often deadly) vehicle check-points; Raids -- 8,000 total since May 2003; and Citizen round-ups -- 80,000 detained since April 2003". People have only one option left: Resistance.

All resistance movements have been required to respond with armed resistance to defend against military aggression and occupation. Iraq is not different.

Violent resistance arises from violent military occupation.

How the Media depicts the Resistance

It is easy for the U.S. "Left" and "Liberals" to pontificate about ‘non-violent' resistance, but what is at issue is the violence committed by the occupying forces. It is a clear case of double standards and distortion of the underlying facts. It also points to a lack of solidarity on the part of those "progressive" groups in the West, who put the onus on the Iraqi people, who are defending their homeland against US imperial aggression.

It should be borne in mind that the U.S. "is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today", and all acts of violence and destruction in Iraq have occurred under the radar of U.S. forces.

The U.S. press and Western media are focusing on civilians casualties with a view to discrediting the Iraqi Resistance.

Regrettably, much of the coverage of the Iraqi Resistance in the Western media has focused on the U.S-created phantom groups of Al-Zarqawi and Al-Qaeda, described as "radical Islamists" or "suicide bombers". Yet despite the media hype, there exists no substantial evidence that these groups are active inside Iraq. Most of the attacks on the occupying forces are carried out by the main Iraqi Resistance groups, and very few of these attacks were on civilians.

Western media are only interested in car bombings that kill civilians. The reality is that occasionally the bombs missed their intended targets, which are the U.S military convoys. Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies notes in this regard that 77 percent of all attacks were against military targets of the U.S. and "Coalition Forces", and only 4.2 per cent of these attacks were led in civilian areas.

According to Iraqi sources, in contrast to Western media accounts, most of the terrorist acts such as kidnappings and hostages attributed by the Western media to Iraqi "insurgents" were carried out by the U.S-created militias.

These reports also point to the role of U.S. and Israeli (Mossad) intelligence, which are involved in a process of distorting the image of the Resistance. There is, in this regard, a growing body of analysis which suggests that the various acts of violence and kidnappings attributed to the Resistance are part of a deliberate and conscious propaganda effort by the occupying forces to distort reality. (See References below)

The strategy is to absolve the U.S. of any crimes and legitimize a prolonged Occupation. "Whenever major terrorist operations happened, it was mostly with US knowledge or involvement. Israel's Mossad planned major terror operations in Iraq, recruiting 2,000 mercenaries before the war and sending them to various Iraqi cities to offer protection and support to the occupation forces", reported the Egyptian, Al-Ahram Weekly.

The hidden agenda is to blame the Iraqi Resistance for these attacks. In other words, the intelligence operation essentially consists in demonizing the Resistance movement, thereby weakening public support for it.

Who is behind the violence in Iraq? U.S. forces and their Israeli agents together with the main militia groups, which now form the core of the new Iraqi army, police and security forces. People have often been found dead after the police and security forces have arrested them. According to Adnan Al-Duliemi, head of the Muslim Endowment, a religious organization that supervises mosques and Muslim shrines, Iraqi Police Forces were "complacent about, even complicit with those killings". He called on the "government to open an investigation into the killings.

The U.S. and its allies have much to gain from a divided Iraq embroiled in sectarian violence. No investigation of these police killings has been conducted and the Occupation forces together with the Western media blamed this orchestrated police violence on the Iraqi Resistance.

These fabricated stories are fed into the Western news chain. They are used to portray the U.S fighting one group of Iraqi (Muslim) fanatics who see the U.S. as "infidel", rather than as a violent occupier.

Western media reports on Iraq are then linked up with 9/11 stories, namely that the U.S. had been attacked on 9/11, and that this war is "justified". This type of reporting, which consists in dehumanizing the Iraqi Resistance, is aimed at a receptive Western audience, which shares the perpetrators frame of reference, to exploit an overarching climate of fear and prejudice, and in the process encourage more racism and Islamophobia.

Part of the alternative media seems to have joined the bandwagon. Several alternative media commentators have depicted the Iraqi Resistance in much the same way. According to to an Iraq dispatch from Patrick Cockburn of CounterPunch, who is embedded with the Kurdish Peshmerga:

The strength of the armed resistance is misunderstood outside Iraq. It has always been fragmented. Unlike the National Liberation Front in Vietnam or the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, it is not well organised…They have no political wing. The fanatical Sunni fundamentalists, commonly called the Salafi or the Wahhabi, see Iraqi Shias [sic] and Christians as infidels just as worthy of death as any US soldier. When American forces damaged two mosques in Mosul in the fighting last November, the resistance blew up two Iraqi Christian churches. Such sectarianism makes it impossible for the resistance to become a truly nationalist movement, but there are four or five million Sunni Arabs a strong enough base for an insurgency". (CounterPunch, May 13, 2005).

No corroborating evidence, no names, and no concrete documentation, however, are provided regarding the "fragmented" nature of the Iraqi Resistance aside from anecdotal news items, which invariably tend to downplay the violence of the Occupation, not to mention the crimes and atrocities committed by US forces.

Moreover, why should the Iraqi Resistance be modeled on the Vietnamese NLF or the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which Western journalists tend to romanticize, in order to cast a bad light on the Iraqi Resistance? Both, the IRA and the NLF were also involved in countless violent acts, which resulted in civilian casualties.

While imperial occupations have a similar logic, the circumstances of countries and their people are different. The Iraqi Resistance targets Iraqi collaborators, who side with the US led Occupation, because they are rightly considered to be "spies and traitors." (Incidentally, this pattern of executing "collaborators" was also followed by the French Resistance during World War II.)

It is important to remember that without popular support, which is the basis of any national resistance movement, the Iraqi Resistance would not be able to operate. Of significance, is that after two years of U.S. brutality and violence, Iraqi Resistance groups have been able to integrate, modify their methods and fight effectively against the biggest military machine in history.

While there are foreign volunteers fighting alongside Iraqis, there is no evidence of "foreign fighters" such as the Salafi and Wahhabi sects (of Saudi Arabia) in the Resistance movement. This is part of the U.S.-created Al-Zarqawi myth, much more useful than the myth of WMD.

Moreover, the Occupation forces themselves have yet to provide concrete evidence of these "foreign fighters", let alone evidence to substantiate the presence of Al-Zarqawi. From an Iraqi perspective, the "foreigners" in Iraq are U.S. soldiers and mercenaries from Britain, Italy, Australia, South Korea and Japan, etc.

Moreover, there is, in this regard, a clear distinction between "insurgents" and "resistance". The term "insurgents" used profusely by mainstream and alternative journalists alike tends again to denigrate the resistance, while upholding the legitimacy of the Occupation, which is directed against the "insurgents".

In a subsequent dispatch from Iraq, Cockburn wrote:

"Many of the resistance groups are bigoted Sunni Arab fanatics who see Shia [sic] as well as US soldiers as infidels whom it is a religious duty to kill. Others are led by officers [sic] from Saddam's brutal security forces. But Washington never appreciated the fact that the US occupation was so unpopular that even the most unsavoury groups received popular support…[U.S. forces] massive firepower meant they won any set-piece battle, but it also meant that they accidentally killed so many Iraqi civilians that they were the recruiting sergeants of the resistance". (CounterPunch, 16 May 2005)

And what evidence is offered in support of these assertions? While the US led occupation is intent on fomenting social divisions and religious hatred, there is ample evidence of a mass movement where Sunnis and Shiites have in fact joined hands in opposing the US led occupation.

This over-armed military machine is unpopular because it kills so many Iraqi civilians "accidentally". Remember, that more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians, most of them innocent women and children have been killed and continue to be killed "accidentally".

And the total destruction of the vibrant city of Fallujah, and the killing of more than 6,000 innocent civilians, using napalm bombs deliberately designed to kill many civilians in densely populated areas, is just by "accident". The rate of civilian deaths in Iraq under U.S. Occupation is far greater than anything perpetrated by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

U.S. forces are provided with "immunity" from prosecution, making it very easy for them to kill Iraqis with institutionalized impunity, as if Iraqis were not even human beings. The criminal practice emanates from the Pentagon, it is created by the U.S. government to encourage U.S. recruits into more wars of aggression.

All Iraqis, including the Resistance leaders and leaders of the influential Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), and others have rejected the attacks against civilians and has blamed U.S. forces and their allies for orchestrating the violence.

Mr. Harith Al-Dhari, the head of the AMS, publicly blamed the Badr Brigades for the recent spate of killings of Sunni Muslim clerics in the country. "The parties that are behind the campaign of killings of preachers of mosques and worshippers are…the Badr Brigades. [They] are responsible for the escalating tensions", Mr. Al-Dhari told Al-jazeera. "Which religion allows anyone to kill more than 100 Iraqis, destroy 100 families and destroy 100 houses?" …."Who are those people who do this? Where did they come from?...[This] is a conspiracy to defame the reputation of the Iraqi [R]esistance by wearing its dress and using its name falsely", Cleric Ahmed Abdul Ghafour Samarrae told Edward Cody of The Washington Post in 2004. "Any action targeting civilians is forbidden under any circumstances", Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr told AFP. "The occupiers are trying to sow division among the Iraqi people, but there are no Sunnis and Shi'ites. Iraqis are one. It is not acceptable to direct to the Sunnis the allegations of ugly acts committed by the occupier against the Shiites", said Al-Sadr.

As I wrote previously, the Resistance is a homegrown movement of several Iraqi groups taking directions from members of their respective communities.

Whatever the religious and political affiliation of the Resistance, the main aim is the liberation of Iraq from U.S. forces.

"[The Resistance] intellectual tendencies are usually described as a mixture of Islamic and pan-Arab ideas that agree on the need to put an end to the US presence in Iraq", wrote Samir Haddad and Mazin Ghazi of the Baghdad weekly Al-Zawra.

"These groups have common denominators, the most important of which perhaps are focusing on killing US soldiers, rejecting the abductions and the killing of hostages, rejecting the attacks on Iraqi policemen, and respecting the beliefs of other religions", added Haddad and Ghazi.

According to Molly Bingham writing in the Boston Globe, a journalist and a fellow at Harvard University, who spent some time with a group of Resistance fighters in Iraq:

"I met Shia [sic] and Sunnis fighting together, women and men, young and old. I met people from all economic, social, and educational backgrounds…The original impetus for almost all of the individuals I spoke to was a nationalistic one".

Embedded journalism

Embedded journalism is an obvious source of disinformation. It fosters false optimism regarding US military presence. It means reporters are only present where American troops are active, though US forces seldom venture into much of Iraq. Embedded correspondents bravely covered the storming of Fallujah by US marines last November and portrayed it as a US "military success." (Counter Punch, 16 May 2005).

Other proponents of the Occupation are those who "opposed" the war, but are in favor of America's imperial vision of "democracy". The deceptive argument pushed by the Western media is that the Occupation will lead to "democracy" and help Iraqis. This line of reasoning is also advocated by several alternative media sources. In a recent article in AlterNet which claims to "provide readers with crucial facts and passionate opinions", senior editor of AlterNet, Lakshmi Chaudhry wrote:

"We can't simply turn our backs on the million of Iraqis – who lack basic necessities like, water electricity food or medical care…. It is immoral for us to leave them to die in the cross fire of a violent civil war fuelled by extremists that we created…We must take the president at his word and force him to deliver on the promise of freedom." (AlterNet, 06 January 2005).

In other words, should "Progressives" trust George Bush's "messianic mission" and "stay the course" in Iraq to "promote democracy" and "prevent" civil war; anything short of this, would be "immoral". This lie is from George Bush's own pack of lies. It is not only supported by rightwing pundits and pro-war advocates but also by part of the U.S. Liberal "anti-war" movement, which points to the "insurgents" as the primary source of violence in Iraq. The reality is that the so-called U.S. "democratic occupation", is a euphemism for imperialist occupation and oppression.

Concluding remarks

The people of Iraq have rejected to live under U.S. Occupation and voted against the U.S. presence in their country.

The Western media distorts what is happening in Iraq in order to provide legitimacy to Washington's agenda.

The majority of Iraqis (nearly 98 per cent) want the U.S. forces to leave their country, and 92 percent of Iraqis see the Americans as imperial occupiers rather than "liberators".

Clearly, Western journalists and pundits have shown that they lack an accurate understanding of Iraq's history and Iraqi society.

Most reports out of Iraq have been from a Western perspective, and rarely from an Iraqi perspective.

It would take Westerners a long time to understand the situation in Iraq today, including the general relationship between Islam and politics. Historically, Islam and politics in Iraq and many other Muslim countries have been inseparable. "Thus, the demand for the separation of religion and state in Muslim countries is more than secularist; it is openly [anti-Islam]", wrote the French academic Gilbert Achcar. Even Saddam Hussein, identified with Islam as part of the battle against imperialism.

Today's Islam, however, is largely secular and concerned more with political and social issues rather than religious.

Unfortunately, the common line among Western media, pundits and politicians alike is always the same: a consistent miscomprehension of Iraqi society and politics. There is also no mention of the roles of the Occupation forces, the CIA and Israeli Mossad agents in orchestrating the current violence against the Iraqi people.

U.S. forces and their allies have needlessly killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. Iraqi men, women and children are routinely imprisoned, abused and tortured, by U.S. forces in daily house-to-house searches, humiliation being conducted by U.S. forces.

The ceaseless attacks and aerial bombings by U.S. forces have destroyed Iraq's infrastructure and people's property. Iraq's education system has been destroyed, health care services are on the brink of total collapse as a result of U.S. war and Occupation.

To defend their country, the Iraqi people have a legitimate right to resist, and use all forms of resistance to this war and occupation. Any resistance to the current imperial aggression is legitimate resistance.

"International law grants a people fighting an illegal occupation the right to use 'all necessary means at their disposal' to end their occupation and the occupied are entitled to seek and receive support".

As I write these lines, U.S. forces are bombing Iraqi civilians in their homes. In the town of Qaim, on the Syrian border, U.S. forces have besieged the town for many days. Residents told IPS by telephone: "all the fighters here are Iraqis from this area". The ongoing abuses by U.S. soldiers had provoked people into confronting the occupying forces. "The fighters are just local people who refuse to be treated like dogs," one resident said. "Nobody wants the Americans here", added another resident. Many innocent civilians have been killed and the city centre "has been almost completely destroyed", including the city hospitals and schools. "[The Americans] are using warplanes, mortar shells and tanks to shell the city indiscriminately, hurt citizens and bomb the houses with warplanes". Like the atrocity of Fallujah, the silence of the Western media is deafening, while Iraqi cities and towns are destroyed one by one.

It appears that the common agenda of Western governments led by the U.S. and Britain is the revival of the old Western colonialism masked in the fake rhetoric of "democracy" and "liberation". Like Western governments, Western media have bought into the so-called "federation of Iraq", a euphemism to divide Iraq into colonies controlled by Western powers.

Once again the media have failed to report the US led policy of ethnic cleansing, conducted by Kurdish terrorist groups from northern Iraq, particularly from the city of Kirkuk. Thousands of Iraqi (Arabs and Turkomans) families, who lived for generations in northern Iraq, are forced by armed Kurdish Peshmerga to flee their homes and seek sanctuaries further south. Today, the ethnic cleansing of Iraqis is comparable to that conducted against the Palestinian people in 1948 by Zionist terrorists. The fact that Israeli commandos are in northern Iraq training the Kurdish militias in the art of land dispossession is a case in point.

Sectarianism and ethnic tensions in Iraq "are not a product of cultural differences. They are the product of a history of imperialism and colonialism in the region and domestic Iraqi politics". "This applies as much to the Arab-Kurd tension as it does to the Sunni-Shias [sic]", wrote Rami El-Amine of Left Turn magazine. Iraq is a mosaic society. "There is no history of communal strife or civil war in Iraq, and the degree of socioeconomic integration and unity of purpose amongst the Iraqi people is often underestimated. There is also a powerful secular tradition in Iraq that transcends all religions and sects", said Dr. Sami Ramadani of London Metropolitan University.

Iraqis are united against the Occupation. If there is any divide, this "divide, already narrower in Iraq than in some parts of the Arab world, is by all accounts shrinking each day that Iraqis agree their most immediate problem is the occupation", wrote The Washington Post correspondent R. Chandrasekaran. Only two years ago, Iraqi Christians, and Muslims lived together in harmony despite their religious and political differences. If there is any division between Iraqis today, the division has been created quite deliberately by the U.S. Occupation.

The April 19, 2005 demonstration of more than 300,000 Iraqis in Baghdad alone (the largest in Iraq for many decades), jointly organized by the Al-Sadr movement and the Association of Muslim Scholars, showed that all Iraqis are united against the US Occupation and terrorism. This unity contradicts the West's perception of Iraqis as a divided society and rejects the occupiers' imperialist policy of 'divide and rule'.

Sadly, neither the "alternative" nor the mainstream media has George Galloway's courage to stand up against an unjust war and tell the truth about Iraq and the crimes committed against the Iraqi people.

As a result of media disinformation, many people in the West, Americans in particular, continue to support an illegal war of "crimes against humanity" perpetuated in their name.

The Western media should follow an ethic of moral responsibility toward the Iraqi people and provide impartial and accurate information to the outside world.

Instead of serving as propaganda agents for imperial power and an unjust war against the Iraqi people's right to self-determination, the Western media would do well to hold the governments behind the US led coalition accountable for this illegal act of aggression.

Those who are responsible for this murderous crime against the Iraqi people should face, with their accomplices, war crimes trials similar to those conducted by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

The only peaceful solution to the chaos in Iraq is the full withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Ordinary Iraqis and the Iraqi Resistance groups will continue to resist the Occupation until the U.S. leaves Iraq. No amount of U.S. firepower will quell the desire of the people of Iraq to achieve sovereignty and national independence.

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Son of Minn. State Lawmaker Killed in Iraq
Associated Press
May 28, 2005

ST. PAUL - The son of a Minnesota state senator was killed in
Iraq when his helicopter was shot down, officials said. It was the second tour in Iraq for Chief Warrant Officer Matt Lourey, 41, who flew helicopters with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division - though his mother, Sen. Becky Lourey, and other relatives opposed the war and had tried to talk him out of it.

"He didn't want to die, but nonetheless he signed up for military service and he understood what that meant," said his brother, Tony Lourey.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, a brigadier general in the National Guard, where he also serves as a chaplain, said he was notified Friday morning by a military official of Lourey's death Thursday, and was asked to give word to his mother.

She had already found out from a relative, and left the Capitol abruptly to go home to Kerrick, about 50 miles south of Duluth.

"Every time a helicopter crash would occur, Becky would come to see me," Johnson said. "We would talk and pray and were hopeful it was not her son."

Becky Lourey ran for governor in 2002 and has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate next year. Most legislative meetings were called off after the news.

In an e-mail statement, Becky Lourey and her husband, Eugene, said they were overwhelmed with grief and sadness. "We are proud of our son and everything he stood for," they said. "This war has touched all of us as a state, a nation, and a world community. Now, it has touched our own family at home." [...]

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Vets Criticize Timing of Statue's Unveiling
Associated Press
May 28, 2005

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. - Maj. Robert Rogers, the frontiersman whose 18th century manual on guerrilla warfare has become a blueprint for Army Ranger fighting tactics, is getting what some consider a long-overdue honor: a statue in his memory. But some veterans believe unveiling the monument on Memorial Day is insensitive because Rogers was loyal to England during the Revolutionary War.

"I think it's a travesty that we would think about honoring a person, especially someone who fought against us, on that day," said Bob Bearor, who served in the Army's 101st Airborne Division in the 1960s. "It's a sacred day. ... Let's honor our dead who died for our country." [...]

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Stun Gun Ends Standoff With Man on Crane
Associated Press
May 28, 2005

ATLANTA - A 56-hour standoff with a homicide suspect perched on a construction crane ended peacefully early Saturday when police shocked him with a stun gun as he reached for a cup of water, authorities said.

"Apparently, he was thirsty," police spokesman Sgt. John Quigley said.

Carl Edward Roland, 41, got onto the 18-story crane around 5 p.m. Wednesday and told police he was thinking of killing himself by jumping, authorities said.

The standoff unfolded above Atlanta's busy Buckhead neighborhood, an area filled with clubs and restaurants. Lunch and dinner crowds, taking advantage of summer-like weather, have packed restaurant patios with clear views of the standoff.

Roland was wanted by the Pinellas County, Fla., sheriff's department in the death of ex-girlfriend Jennifer L. Gonzalez, 36, whose body found Tuesday. An arrest warrant affidavit accuses Roland of strangling Gonzalez and dumping her body in a pond behind the apartment complex where she lived.

Two days earlier, Roland told acquaintances he believed Gonzalez was cheating on him and asked them if they could get him a firearm so he could kill her, according to the affidavit.

During the standoff negotiations, Roland accepted a jacket from police, which he used to beat back the chill at night and the sun during the day, but he refused offers of food and water.

But early Saturday, Roland stepped toward an officer to get some water, and the officer used a Taser on him, said Alan Dreher, Atlanta's assistant police chief.

Roland showed mixed emotions during the negotiations, Dreher said.

"At times he was calm. At times he was cordial. At times he was irate. At times he was argumentative. It just depended on the situation," he said.

Roland was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and police expected to charge him with crimes in Atlanta and Florida. Hospital officials said he was in good condition.

Since March, the Clearwater, Fla., man had quit his job as a software salesman and filed for bankruptcy. Roland said he owed $10,500 in federal taxes and more than $13,000 on credit cards, court records show.

Comment: There, see? Tasers save lives! Support your local taser-wielding storm troopers today!

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Amnesty slams Israel 'war crimes'
Wednesday, 25 May, 2005
BBC News

Amnesty International has accused Israel of committing war crimes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The rights group's report for 2004 says Israeli forces have killed some 700 Palestinians - including 150 children - mostly in unlawful circumstances.

The report lists "reckless shooting, shelling and air strikes in civilian areas... and excessive use of force".

It also condemns the killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinian militants and violence by Jewish settlers.

"Certain abuses committed by the Israeli army constituted crimes against humanity and war crimes," Amnesty's report says.

"The deliberate targeting of civilians by Palestinian armed groups constituted crimes against humanity," it adds.

An Israeli opposition MP has requested an urgent parliamentary debate on the report.

But an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman denied the charge of war crimes and said Amnesty's analysis appeared "one-sided".

The report says Palestinian armed groups killed 109 Israelis, including 59 civilians and eight children, in suicide bombings, shootings and mortar attacks.


Amnesty's accusations against the Israeli army include unlawful killings, torture, extensive and wanton destruction of property, obstruction of medical assistance and targeting of medical personnel.

Amnesty also says Israel has continued to use Palestinians as "human shields" during military operations, "forcing them to carry out tasks that endangered their lives", despite an injunction by Israel's high court banning the practice.

The report accuses Israel of offering impunity to soldiers and settlers who commit crimes against Palestinians.

"In the overwhelming majority of the thousands of cases of unlawful killings and other grave human rights violations in the previous four years, no investigations were known to have been carried out," the report says.

"The Israeli army and police ... routinely increased restrictions on the local Palestinian population in response to attacks by Israeli settlers," it adds.

Dire situation

In addition to the report's focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Amnesty criticises a number of regimes in neighbouring Arab countries.

Scene of Palestinian suicide bombing in Beersheba
Palestinian suicide bombings are "crimes against humanity"

Egypt and Syria are blamed for systematic torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners.

In Saudi Arabia, Amnesty highlights killings by security forces and armed groups, exacerbating the "already dire human rights situation in the country".

Jordan is said to have made scores of political arrests, amid reports of torture and ill-treatment in custody.

In Iraq, the report says US-led forces committed gross human rights violations, including unlawful killings, arbitrary detention and torture.

Armed groups in Iraq are similarly blamed for targeting civilians, hostage-taking and killing hostages.

Comment: The time for Amnesty to stop acting like an impotent stooge of the world's governments and begin to tell it like it is, is long past. Amnesty needs to make it absolutely clear that, while Iraqis, Afghanis and Palestinians fight back, they are merely fighting back against the predations of the US and Israeli government and military. Such attacks cannot be placed on an equal footing with the crimes of Bush and Sharon. If a person insists on carrying out unprovoked violent attacks on me and my family, am I to be condemned and sent to jail along with him if I fight back?

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Israel blocks Islamic Movement's participation in London meet
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel has prevented the deputy chairman of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Sheikh Kamel Khatib, from taking part in a conference on the right of return, which is scheduled to take place in London this weekend.

Khatib was summoned to the Nazereth police headquarters on Thursday, where he was told that the meeting is being organized by agents hostile towards Israel and that his participation in the conference would be illegal.

"The investigator told me that if I go, the score would be settled upon my return, by detention or a harsher measure," Khatib said.

After consulting with his lawyers, Khatib decided not to go abroad, and cancelled his flight, which was to have departed Thursday afternoon.

"The state of Israel claims to be democratic, where one has the right to freedom of expression. But I feel like I'm in a banana republic," Khatib said angrily.

Slated to attend the conference are Abed al-Bari Atwan, the editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, who is known for his radical approach towards Israel, and Muhammad Dejani, a Palestinian historian from Cairo.

"These aren't terrorists. This is an academic conference with well-known individuals," Khatib said.

Comment: As more and more of the truth about the true nature of the fourth Reich masquerading as the Israeli government comes to light, the Israeli government's attempts to cover up the fact that is is obviously a racist regime simply forces it to take further draconian measures, which in turn serves to further expose it for what it is.

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Palestinian Youth Shot and then handcuffed for 10 days in Hospital
By Miri Chason

Palestinian youngster seriously hurt by IDF fire is handcuffed at hospital. Human rights group: Khayar Baraghoti physically unable to escape; army: youngster is dangerous

PETACH TIKVA - A 17-year-old Palestinian has been hospitalized in handcuffs for the past 10 days, a move that has drawn the ire of human rights group Physicians for Human Rights .

Khayar Baraghoti, who sustained serious injuries as Palestinians were hurling stones and Molotov cocktails, can barely move and is physically unable to escape, the human rights group says.

The youngster's father, Muhammad, told Ynet his son sustained injuries to his intestine and liver.

"We don't know what exactly happened there, but we were told…the army arrived at the village and shot two boys who were hurling stones and Molotov cocktails," he said. "We didn't know they were talking about Khayar. We waited for him and he didn't come home, until they told us the army took him to Beilinson (hospital) in serious condition."

Muhammad said he initially faced problems in his attempt to secure special permits for him and his wife to visit his son at the hospital, but the matter was subsequently resolved and both father and mother were able to visit their son.

"Yesterday he started talking a little bit. Right now he's like a baby – it's difficult for him to talk, but God be blessed, the situation is progressing," the father said. "The problem is that his hands are tied and it's very difficult for him."

Kind words for IDF

Muhammad has no qualms with the soldiers watching over his son, but said things can be made easier for Khayar.

"I explained it to the soldier standing guard and he understood the problem, but it's an order from above," Muhammad said. "I understand him. He's merely a 20-year-old who does what they tell him. He said (my son) is a dangerous prisoner. I know my kid, he never gets in trouble, he's a good kid."

Despite the tragedy, the father also had kind words for the IDF, which decided to bring his son for treatment in Israel

"If they would have taken him to a hospital in Ramallah, he might have been dead by now," he said.

The army, meanwhile, said the injured youngster constitutes a danger to those around him and must be kept handcuffed.

"Notably, the (handcuffs) do not undermine the medical treatment…and his doctors did not protest the handcuffing," the IDF said.

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IDF troops take over Palestinian family's home to watch soccer
By Reuters

Israel Defense Forces soldiers barged into a Palestinian home and commandeered its television room so they could watch a soccer match, a military source said on Friday after a TV report on the incident.

Footage on Channel 10 TV showed broken furniture and windows in the room of the house in the West Bank city of Hebron where the television station said the troops watched Wednesday's Champions League final between AC Milan and Liverpool.

The Palestinian family living in the house said the soldiers caused the damage. The military source confirmed five soldiers entered the dwelling to view the match but said they stayed only for a few minutes and did not break anything.

Nonetheless, the source said, the commander of the squad had been suspended.

"The military takes a severe view of such incidents," the source added.

Palestinian teenager Anan al-Zrayer said he was walking down the street when soldiers asked him if his family had a television set and a satellite dish.

"I said 'yes,' and told them we don't have Israeli channels. (After they entered the house,) I gave them the remote control and they carried out a search. We were kicked into another room," he said.

Another Hebron resident said it was not the first time that soldiers had taken over Palestinian houses to watch television.

Khigaji al-Batch said about two weeks ago, 11 soldiers entered his home and stayed through the night.

"They are using our houses like a cinema," Batch said.

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'Wall in capital could trigger war'
May. 23, 2005

Speakers at a Hebrew University symposium on the separation barrier warned on Monday that the wall currently under construction in Jerusalem could undermine all hopes of peace and trigger a new war.

The symposium was sponsored by the Middle East Unit of the Truman Institute.

Rami Nassrallah, a member of the International Peace Cooperation Center, charged that the current route of the separation wall in Jerusalem is only the first stage in an alleged plan to split the Palestinian population in the area and create a "Jewish Jerusalem" rather than a "united Jerusalem."

Nassrallah warned that in the future Israel might build a fence which would only annex the Old City and the nearby Palestinian neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah and the east Jerusalem commercial district.

"The government will tolerate a maximum of 100,000 Palestinians in [Israeli] Jerusalem," Nassrallah predicted. "Israelis will fall in love with this kind of separation, but it will mean the end of [any chance of] peace."

Kobi Michael, a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, said the institute had suggested several possible scenarios with regard to the consequences of the construction of the wall. "I call one of them the Fence War," he warned. "We could face war around and because of the fence."

Jerusalem attorney Danny Seidemann, head of the left-wing Ir Amim organization, said there was no way to divide a city of Jerusalem's size in a "good" way.

He said the current wall, with a few exceptions, was planned to follow the boundaries of Jerusalem that were established after the Six Day War, when large rural areas near Jerusalem in the West Bank were annexed to the city. But those borders were a fiction, he continued. There was no logic to them and they arbitrarily cut through villages and neighborhoods, officially separating some Palestinians from others. Now, he added, "Israel is turning the fiction of Jerusalem's borders into concrete."

Seidemann said some Israeli leaders tried to persuade the government to divide Jerusalem along demographic lines, but it rejected the idea. A total of 60,000 Palestinians who live within the Jerusalem city limits according to the official boundaries will end up on the West Bank side of the wall according to the current route.

Seidemann said he represented some of the Palestinians who have been shut out of the city and are fighting in court to get back in. It was not because they wanted to be part of Israel but because they were afraid they would become impoverished, as so many West Bank Palestinians are, if they were cut off from the city.

Seidemann rejected the government's claim that the separation barrier was a temporary measure and could be torn down as soon as Israel and the Palestinians agreed on their mutual borders. According to the construction plans for the E1 scheme in the area between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem, Israel intends to build massive housing along the route of the fence. The housing, he said, would be the real fence and it would be permanent.

Seidemann warned that the consequences of the fence could be disastrous for Israel. It could radicalize the Jerusalem Palestinian population, which has so far been relatively quiet; it could arouse international censure because of the humanitarian problems it causes the Palestinian population; and it could threaten the chances of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

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Dance idol blasted for anti-Israeli quotes

Israel Prize winner and well-renowned Israeli dance choreographer slammed for telling Canadian newspaper Israeli army commits "war crimes" in the West Bank; He said he expressed personal opinion
By Itamar Eichner

TEL AVIV - The foreign ministry blasted a renowned prize-winning Israeli dance choreographer on Thursday for telling a Canadian newspaper that Israeli troops commit "war crimes" against the Palestinians, saying his words were harmful to the image of the Jewish state.

Ohad Naharin, currently in Montreal to choreograph a ballet, had told the Montreal Gazette that he volunteers as an interpreter for a women's organization that supervises military checkpoints in the Palestinian territories, where Palestinians often complain of humiliation and abuse by soldiers.

"I continue to do my job when people are participating in war crimes about 20 kilometers away from me," he told the newspaper on Wednesday, referring to army activity in the West Bank.

A source in the foreign ministry told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that Naharin's words were damaging to Israel, especially in light of him being a former winner of the prestigious Israel Prize.

"This is an unfortunate quality of people of culture, art and academia," a source said. "When they leave the country, they attack it and allow themselves to say things they wouldn't dare tell Israeli media. We are not opposed to criticism, but to accuse Israel of war crimes is very grave."

The army mans dozens of checkpoints and small roadblocks all over the West Bank and says they are essential for stopping potential suicide bombers from reaching Israeli towns and Jewish settlements.

Naharin, who Israelis have often accused of being pro-Palestinian, said in response that his words reflected his personal opinion as a citizen.

"I did not see the interview, but I imagine I was quoted for saying things I've already said many times in the past, such as the fact that most of us, Palestinians and Israelis alike, are becoming the innocent victims of our leaders and that evil, paranoia and lack of heart prohibit us from changing the twisted reality that we live in," he said.

Naharin, 53, is best known in Israel for his performances with the Batsheva Dance Company, where he's worked since 1990 as a dancer and artistic director. A former student at the Julliard School of Music, the Israeli native has performed with major dance companies in Europe, Australia and the United States.

Comment: In Israel, as in the United States -- and most other countries -- telling the truth can provoke uncomfortable consequences for the speaker. We live in the world of the lie. Governments lie, corporations lie, the television lies, our friends lie, our mates lie, and we lie -- to others and, most importantly, to ourselves. As long as this lying continues, what hope can there be for a world of truth? But where to begin when the lying becomes too much to handle?

Begin with yourself, begin by stopping the lying internally. Do you know yourself? Do you see yourself as others see you? Or do you tell yourself stories that are fictions? As we have seen over and over again, telling the truth to others can get you into serious trouble. Start with yourself. As you root away the lies to yourself, the knowledge of what to say to others will appear.

There are many people with whom it is pointless to discuss the many questions raised by the official story of 9/11. We do so here at Signs of the Times because we want the site to be a manifestation of the truth as we see it, always open to correction and refinement as our knowledge and understanding deepens. But if one works in an office with a boss who is pro-Bush, it would likely be career suicide to discuss the truth of 9/11. Your boss isn't asking for the truth and couldn't handle it if he heard it. Most people are happy to continue living in the illusion. They want nothing else. Let them. It is their choice, their expression of free will to buy into someone else's lies, to, in effect, give up their free will.

With family and friends it is harder. Maybe they say they are interested in the truth, however, when they hear opinions that do not agree with their own, they get upset, hostile, and aggressive. They may do whatever they can to divert you from your own work and research. Is it smart to be open with people like this, even if they are family?

In many ways, learning how to deal with other people is the fundamental work we have in front of us. Dealing with people, those with whom we share this world, forms a great part of the lessons to be learned. We can't avoid it, we can't hope we'll catch the fast train to another realm where these problems don't exist, unless and until we learn to correctly discern the many shades of giving and taking in the here and now. If we don't, if we skip a year so to speak, we may well find ourselves ill-prepared for the lessons we'll be facing in our new class.

But as long as we lie to ourselves, we'll make no progress. We'll not correctly see the landscape before us. We'll misjudge ourselves, our ability to correctly discern the creative and the entropic and how to interact with the people around us. Our errors will continue to make trouble and demand energy that could be better used moving ahead. Until we learn a lesson, it will be repeated and repeated and repeated until we get it right.

The only way forward, then, is to see ourselves as we truly are and strike out the root of the lie that infests our predator's mind while learning through hard experience how to discern the sincere desire for truth in others. It begins at home, in the soul's home in this world, ourselves.

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Both Palestinians and Israelis will benefit from a boycott

The racist and colonial policies echo apartheid, and call for a similar response
Ronnie Kasrils and Victoria Brittain
Wednesday May 25, 2005
The Guardian

Last October, 13-year-old Iman al-Hams was shot and wounded by an Israeli army unit in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, despite being identified as a little girl, and wearing a school uniform. Iman was machine-gunned by the unit's commander. She had 17 bullets in her body, and three in her head, a Palestinian doctor told the Guardian. Iman is one of 654 Palestinian children to have been killed in the occupied territories since September 2000. Several were killed as they sat at their desks in class. Three and a half thousand children have been wounded. Over 300 are in Israeli prisons.

In South Africa's state of emergency of the mid-1980s, declared in response to a nationwide campaign of protest, 312 children were killed, over 1,000 wounded, 2,000 children under 16 were detained without trial, thousands more arrested, hundreds fled into exile, and a generation was marked for life. The Rev Desmond Tutu wrote about one child, Johnny, whom he saw after some time in police custody: "I wanted to cry, I was filled with a blazing anger against a system that could do this to a child ... Johnny's case alone ought to be enough to fill any decent person ... with revulsion and indignation."

Iman's is such a case, 20 years on. Archbishop Tutu has described the situation of the Palestinians under occupation as worse than South Africa under apartheid. In July 2004, the international court of justice ruled that Israel's 280 mile wall, the latest burden on Palestinians, was illegal. But Israel, like the old South Africa faced with international disapproval, simply ignored it.

Twenty years ago, 496 British academics responded to an appeal from the African National Congress leaders in exile after two academics were served with banning orders. They signed a letter calling for an academic boycott of South Africa. Today, some in the new generation of British academics feel they cannot accept Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, the policies that brought the wall, and a new generation of children suffering like those South African children whose wounds of mind and body never healed.

Iman and Johnny will never go to college. But some of the Israeli soldiers implicated in crimes like the one that killed the little girl are university lecturers who serve in the occupation army reserve forces every year, and who otherwise go about their academic "business as usual" for the rest of the year. No Israeli academic institution has ever severed its organic ties with the military-security establishment in protest. None has issued a public statement condemning the grave violations of Palestinian human rights. This is part of the reason why Palestinians have called upon the world to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

The volcanic political response to the decision by the Association of University Teachers (AUT) in Britain to impose an academic boycott on Israeli universities has dismissed the crucial comparison between Israel and South Africa, which was the main motive behind the Palestinians' call for boycott. Israeli universities are not being targeted for boycott because of their ethnic or religious identity, but solely because of their complicity in the Israeli system of apartheid, which many see as sufficiently analogous to its defunct predecessor in South Africa to warrant sanctions.

In the occupied territories, Israel maintains a strict racial and colonial segregation between Israeli Jewish settlers and the native Palestinians (Muslims and Christians). The former group enjoys economic benefits, special roads, heavily subsidised and more heavily protected housing, and full political rights. Even under apartheid there were never whites-only roads. There was never a comparable prolonged siege, or curfews, that cut off black people from each other. Palestinians, on the other hand, are under a military occupation that kills and destroys, but also continuously dispossesses them of their lands for the benefit of Jewish settlers.

The desire for an ethnic-religious majority of Israeli Jews has seeped across from the occupied territories to permeate the Israeli "national" agenda, which increasingly views Palestinian citizens of Israel as a "demographic threat", as former prime minster Binyamin Netanyahu phrased it. The Palestinian minority in Israel has for decades been denied basic equality in health, education, housing and land possession, solely because it is not Jewish. The fact that this minority is allowed to vote hardly redresses the rampant injustice in all other basic human rights. They are excluded from the very definition of the "Jewish state", and have virtually no influence on the laws, or political, social and economic policies. Hence their similarity to the black South Africans.

In addition, and related to the demographic question, Israel continues to deny Palestinian refugees, who were ethnically cleansed during the 1948 war, their right to return to their lands and properties. Israel bases its position, which is contrary to fundamental human rights provisions and international law, on its right to preserve its Jewish ethnic-religious supremacy. No other country in the world today dares to claim any similar right.

In response to all this, how many Israeli academic institutions have criticised the racist and colonial policies of the state? How many Israeli academics have conscientiously objected to military service in the occupied territories? How many university lecturers have publicly opposed the occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land? Professors Ilan Pappe and Tanya Reinhart stand out, leading a few Israeli academics in calling for support for the Palestinian academics' call for selective academic boycott.

The boycotts and sanctions ultimately helped liberate both blacks and whites in South Africa. Palestinians and Israelis will similarly benefit from this non-violent campaign that Palestinians are calling for.

· Ronnie Kasrils is minister for intelligence in the South African government and a former commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe, military wing of the African National Congress. He is writing in his personal capacity. Victoria brittain is a journalist.

Comment: The embargo on South Africa was a complete economic embargo on the country. What is being proposed here is simply the boycotting of Israeli universities, and yet even that is too much for the Zionists. If it takes hold here, the boycott may build.

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The Plot to Stigmatize "51 Documents" on
May 25, 2005

On May 4th, an article, "Board's Amazon Appeal," appeared on Jewish News, a Zionist website. It reported that the Board Of Deputies Of British Jews, pro-Zionist religious Jewry's central organization, had complained to Amazon re a book I edited, 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis.

I wrote the Board. It responded. I answered their critique & challenged them to publicly debate the issue. Below is the Jewish News article and the correspondence between me & the Board.

The Holocaust is being heavily memorialized this year, the 60th anniversary of the end of WW ll. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan attended the opening of Israel's new museum at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Institute. NYC's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, running for reelection, was Bush's official representative. Documentaries have appeared on TV re differing aspects of Nazism & the atrocity.

Although historians have examined Nazism in detail in all its complexity, the present general public, world-wide, is interested in little more than the Holocaust, the Jews as victims. Few, Jew or gentile, know anything about the range of Jewish politics in the Hitler era.

What happened to the Jews is constantly utilized in Zionist propaganda as justification for the creation of the Israeli state, the silver lining around the dark cloud of desolation. That's the tip off that there is something missing: What did the Zionists do for the Jews? There is no 51 Documents: Zionist Resistance to the Nazis.

The Board's attempt to discredit my book with Amazon, and their response to me, permitted me to briefly document some of my charges. But this is no substitute for delving deeper into the controversy. For this, I recommend looking at my 1st book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, in conjunction with 51 Documents, which contains complete texts of much of the material cited in the earlier work. Zionism in the Age of the Dictators is out of print, but is on the internet at <>.

I must thank the Board. Its crude attempt to discredit the book with Amazon backfired. They have put some of their later-day rationalizations for such collaboration out there for the world to see. Now they will have to debate me, or demonstrate, once & for all & forever, that they don't dare defend Zionism's shameful politics during Jewry's desperate hour. [...]

51 Documents includes complete evidentiary texts re Zionist-Revisionist connections to Germany, Italy and Japan, 1933-41, cited in Zionism in the Age of the Dictators. That the Likud has a fascist history, likewise "gives an extra edge of topicality" to 51 Documents' charges in 2005, the 70th anniversary of Mussolini's October 1935 invasion of Ethiopia.

October also is the 10th anniversary of the 1995 Million Man March, the largest demonstration in Black American History. The Millions More Movement, the majority of Black intellectual, political and religious leaders, has called for another march on Washington. The Ethiopian anniversary will naturally be commemorated at the gathering.

A jailed veteran of the Black civil rights movement, I will be there. The demonstration has been denounced by Abe Foxman of America's Anti-Defamation League and Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee, thus focusing Black attention onto Zionism. I intend to satisfy their interest by providing documentation of Zionism's alliances with white racists, including Zionist-Revisionism's passionate support for Mussolini's poison-gas war. [...]

In 1936, Revisionist financial director Wolfgang von Weisl declared that, "Although opinions among the Revisionists varied, in general they sympathized with Fascism.... He, personally, was a supporter of Fascism, and he rejoiced at the victory of Fascist Italy in Abyssinia as a triumph of the White races against the Black."

Promptly accepting my challenge to debate would give your Board and its Israeli colleagues an opportunity to put rebuttal of my documentation in front of the Black world, prior to the MMM event. That's more advantageous to Zionism than waiting until after the damage is done and hoping to repair it.

On the other hand, the public will understand failure to accept my challenge to mean that the Board cannot defend Zionism before the bar of history. This will permit me to, in effect, debate an empty chair, a debate Zionism must always lose.

In any case, I am sending this email to you on Monday, May 23rd. If I do not get a reply from you by May 31, expressing interest in a debate, I will assume that the Board rejects the project and will so inform the public.

As a report of your intervention with Amazon is already on the internet, I am also making our present correspondence, my note of May 12th, yours of May 17th and this note, immediately available to the public, while looking forward to your reply.

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Interview with Professor Norman Finkelstein
Reporter: Jennifer Byrne
Friday 27th May 2005 (19h07)

Professor Finkelstein is the author of a new book The Holocaust Industry which is causing angst and anger among Jews worldwide. Jennifer caught up with him in London.

Transcript Broadcast: July 25, 2000

Byrne: Norman Finkelstein, thank you for joining us

Finkelstein: My pleasure.

Byrne: If there is, as you claim, a holocaust industry, what made you take it on?

Finkelstein : My main aim in taking on the holocaust industry is I do believe my parents endured colossal suffering during the Second World War. I think that what they endured deserves to be remembered, not to be cheapened, and I also believe that there are important lessons of both a historical and a moral kind that one can learn from their experience. That it wasn't, so to speak, it wasn't, completely in vain. At least I don't want to believe that. And so I felt, both as a personal tribute to my parents, fairly recently passed away, as well because I am a politically engaged individual, committed to the idea that you can learn something substantial from what they endured, for those two reasons I decided to write the book.

Byrne: You wrote this book, as you say, as the child of holocaust survivors, and you've been given a pretty savage reception. Could anyone who wasn't, have survived the sort of vitriol and attack that's been directed your way?

Finkelstein: I think to be perfectly candid, it is true to say that given my, so to speak - and I know it sounds like an ugly expression, but I'll use it - given my holocaust credentials, I command a certain amount of immunity which a non-Jew probably wouldn't command. And probably couldn't survive the onslaught. So I am benefiting from that, but I think that's all the more reason why I should be doing it, because of the questions are important, and I can raise them in a way in which a non-Jew couldn't.

Byrne: What comprises the holocaust industry, in your view?

Finkelstein: The holocaust industry frankly at this point it's almost a conglomerate, which has elements in media, in publishing. Jewish organisations which in my view are extorting large sums of money from European governments. It embraces a large number of contacts in American life.

Byrne: Isn't this a version of what people used to call, anti-Semites used to describe as the Jewish conspiracy?

Finkelstein: I'm not sure - of course that criticism has been levelled against me, but let's take a book that came out prior to my own... Peter Novick's, The Holocaust in American Life, which many people have compared favourably with my own book. And Peter Novick frankly says well the holocaust occupies a central place in American life, because Jews occupy a central place in the media. Let's not kid ourselves about that. So I don't see why simply reporting sociological facts constitutes being part of a holocaust, or claiming that there is a Jewish conspiracy.

Byrne: But you know perfectly well that even that description, that the reason the Jewish issues get so much attention is because....

Finkelstein: That's one reason.

Byrne: .... there's a dominance in the media. That's offensive to media.

Finkelstein: Well, you see this is a problem for me. Let's say you were to report as a sociological fact that for young people between the ages of 18 and 29, one out of every four black young people in America is somehow implicated in the criminal justice system. That's a sociological fact. Now the explanations for the fact may be different. But to simply report the facts, it doesn't seem to me is in and of itself anti-Semitic.

Byrne: But the view is, the argument may be that whatever your intentions, the sort of facts you're raising, the allegations you're making, could be used by anti-Semites with vicious effect.

Finkelstein: I agree, and again, I don't want to pretend to this kind of self righteousness, I agree that may be a problem. But when one intervenes in a real world, you have to balance out concerns. And for me the bigger concern now is that the holocaust industry has become the main fomenter of anti-Semitism in the world today.

Byrne: How so?

Finkelstein: Because of its ruthless extortion tactics, in order to extract compensation monies in Switzerland, in Germany, and now eastern Europe. If you take for example the case of Poland, the holocaust industry is demanding roughly in the order of 50 billion dollars in compensation from Poland. That sum of money will leave Poland broke, and in doing so they are throwing peasants off their land, tenants out of their homes, school children out of schools, that's what they're doing.

Finkelstein: Yes, and I think what's particularly egregious about these practices - let's take the concrete example of Poland. My mother's father owned a tobacco store in Warsaw. My father's father owned a small lumber mill in Warsaw. The holocaust industry has declared itself the legitimate heir of all the assets of the Jews who were killed during World War II. So they're claiming my mother's father's tobacco store and my father's father's lumber mill as theirs. That they're the legitimate inheritors. They never asked me, they never asked my brothers. We would not approve of evicting these Polish people from their homes. So I think the claim they're making is on a false pretext. They are not the legitimate heirs. That's my family, not theirs. And they're doing it without the knowledge of Jews.

Byrne: You're claiming it's not just a matter of extortion of German and Swiss institutions, you're claiming further that the people making the extortionate claims are frauds, aren't you?

Finkelstein: Well I think there are two issues, as the title of my last chapter reads, it's a double shakedown, because the governments of Europe are being asked to pay, or forced to pay huge sums of money, and then the actual survivors of Nazi persecution never see that money. If I could just state one example quickly. Throughout the Swiss banks affair, the holocaust industry was saying day in and day out, we need the money now, needy holocaust victims are dying every day, ten thousand are dying every month. The Swiss bankers said let's wait to see the result of the international audit, and whoever deserves the money should get it and whoever doesn't should not. The holocaust industry said no, we need the money now, we need the money now, survivors are dying.

Byrne: Are you actually saying they're not representing the survivors, that they want the money for themselves?

Finkelstein: Well, let me just finish. In August 1998, a settlement was reached for 1.25 billion dollars, with the Swiss banks. Now two have elapsed, we're approaching the second anniversary in August 2000. Of that 1.25 billion dollars, not one dime, not one nickel, not one penny has been distributed to the actual survivors. Nothing.

Byrne: So who's taking the money. In that case, okay, it's not available, but who is getting the holocaust compensation?

Finkelstein: The Jewish organisations want the money and they claim to be acting in the name of the Jewish people when they solicit the money, but they never give it to the actual victims.

Byrne: But this industry - I mean your claim it's also fostered, a spurious concept.

Byrne: So who should get the money?

Finkelstein: In my view, at this point, as I've stated in the book, there are probably, roughly speaking, a handful of survivors left in the world today. We're talking about maybe between five and fifteen, maybe twenty thousand, survivors of the Nazi death camps, survivors of the slave labour camps and so forth. A handful. The holocaust organisations have accumulated huge sums of money. Edgar Bronfman [?] stated in January 2000 that the World Jewish Congress has accumulated, roughly, he said, seven billion dollars in compensation.

Byrne: Which has since been denied, hasn't it?

Finkelstein: Has it?

Byrne: Yes, I mean it's been denied, but you're still making the allegation.

Finkelstein: I wasn't aware. I'd be grateful if you'd show me where the denial appears. That's quite a lot of money that can easily be distributed among the survivors and they could live a very happy life, what remains of their life.

Byrne: But why are you defining the victims so narrowly. I mean isn't.. you're just saying only those who survived the camps, but surely people whose property was stolen, or who lived a miserable life because they lost their loved ones... Aren't these victims also?

Finkelstein: Well, I'll say I define it, first of all the way it was conventionally described, defined, until recent years, and second of all I define it in that way out of respect to my parents' suffering. For example I occasionally bring up the holocaust website at home, and a young man writes from Tel Aviv, he says I was in Tel Aviv during the war, but my grandmother died in Auschwitz, therefore I consider myself a holocaust survivor.

Byrne: But isn't that... it's almost like saying you can't be, you can only be a pure blooded Indian or a pure blooded Aboriginal, if you have a proportion....

Finkelstein: No, because I think this is - to describe yourself as a holocaust survivor if you were in Tel Aviv or Minneapolis during the war, that's the grossest form of holocaust trivialisation.

Byrne: What, you have to have been in the camps?

Finkelstein: Well, that normally was meant to describe... to pick somebody. Well, now it's extended to the point where somebody who says I was in Tel Aviv, but my grandmother died, I'm a holocaust survivor. If that fellow had said that to my mother to her face, I'm quite sure she'd have given him a brisk slap. I mean how dare you. You're in Tel Aviv, I'm in Majdanek and you're telling me it's the same experience. That's trivialisation. that's morally grotesque. And if definitions are going to have any moral content, if they're going to have any moral content, then we can't allow for this promiscuous expansion of the term, so that it includes, as I understand Israel Singer claims, every Jew in the world who was alive during the Hitler years, since Hitler purportedly targeted all of world Jewry, every Jew who survived, even if he or she was in Hawaii, Alaska, or Minneapolis, he or she is a holocaust survivor. I think that's the worst kind of holocaust revisionism.

Byrne: How would you then answer those who might say to you, you are trivialising and negating my own suffering? I mean the fact that I survived a labour camp, or the fact that my property was stolen.

Finkelstein: Well labour camps were considered this - let's just give a personal example to illustrate what I mean. My parents, my mother and father, were in the Warsaw Ghetto from 1939 to 1943. When the Ghetto uprising was suppressed they were taken from the Ghetto to Majdanek concentration camp, and from Majdanek concentration camp, my father was taken to Auschwitz, and my mother was taken to two slave labour camps. And a typical holocaust survivor was considered somebody who'd experienced the ghettoes, the concentration camps, or the work camps, the slave labour camps. And as I write in the book, they often experienced them in sequence. And that's actually the experience of my parents, as it was for many.

Byrne: Without disrespecting that experience, would you accept that for some it is unseemly to be so insistent about this is the kind of experience you have to have had? That people do feel aggrieved.

Finkelstein: Well, I think, you know, many people in the world have experienced expropriation of property. I mean let's be for real. If we were to use that standard, then every Palestinian who was expelled from the state of Israel experienced a holocaust. Now Palestinians don't make that claim any more - I mean that's just pure trivialisation. And words should have meaning. I'm not a religious person, so I'm not going to say they should have a sacred meaning - but they should have a morally substantive meaning. And a holocaust survivor should not come to now symbolise anyone who was in any way connected with anyone who was connected with someone who was and so on and so forth. That's trivialisation. And it should be, in my opinion, repudiated.

Byrne: Why do you think it has taken such a long time for someone at a popular level to take this on, to argue this case?

Finkelstein: I think that's an excellent question. And I think it returns to something you asked me earlier. Namely, it's very difficult, especially in the moral climate in the United States, to raise these questions without immediately being branded something - a holocaust denier, a holocaust revisionist, an anti-Semite, and so forth.

Byrne: A fellow traveller of David Irving, which I've heard said about you.

Finkelstein: And of course, if you're Jewish, the charge of being a self-hating Jew. And I guess it's I suppose, as I've said on a number of occasions, I was exceedingly close to my parents. And I also have, over the years, I think I've gotten a fairly thick skin about these issues, because this is not the first time I've engaged in a kind of, so to speak, exposee of what I consider dishonest scholarship or in this case more than scholarship, a whole dishonest industry. And so I'm better equipped for many of things to handle, which frankly
-and I know my detractors are saying now, become a beneficiary of the holocaust industry, but frankly is not a particularly pleasant experience, especially when you get hurled in your direction kinds of epithets which are frankly unpleasant.

Byrne: It is a fair point though, isn't it, that in writing this book you have yourself become a beneficiary of the holocaust industry you condemn.

Finkelstein: Well as I've said, we have to be morally honest about these questions. I'm politically on the left, no question about it. I oppose sweatshops, I oppose exploitation of labour in the third world. If you look at the clothes I'm wearing now, you can say but Professor Finkelstein, what a hypocrite you are, your shoes are made from slave labour in Thailand, your pants are made from slave labour in Burma, your shirt was made from slave labour in Haiti. Aren't you a beneficiary of the system that you're condemning, the capitalist system. And aren't you a beneficiary. And to be morally honest, you have to answer yes, I am. You do become implicated in the very systems that you are opposing. And the only thing that you can do under those circumstances is to remain, or try to remain honest to yourself.

Byrne: Or contribute the benefits from your book to a charity?

Finkelstein: Allow me just to finish. Faithful to your beliefs, and hope that you're not being corrupted in the process. As to the benefits of my book, I published with a very tiny publishing house, Verso Books, which I understood yesterday, and I hope he won't kill me for saying this, have had a great difficulty paying royalties to their authors, because they're a tiny publishing house. I don't expect benefits. I earn - I'm not - I don't want to claim I'm a scholar of great stature, but I have made a certain reputation for myself, I've published several books, I've never been able to get a permanent teaching job. And my income in the United States is, you'd have to translate into Australian dollars, but I earn, in a good year, between fifteen and eighteen thousand dollars a year. I mean I live below poverty in my income. And I don't think anyone who's familiar with my track record can seriously make the claim that I do what I do for profits. You know, frankly speaking, money just doesn't figure largely in my world view. It just is not.

Byrne: Your book has been described as revolting, nauseous, destructive, among other epithets. Are you conscious of the genuine grief and affront it may cause in some quarters?

Finkelstein: First of all I have to wait and see what the final verdict is on the book. So far the attack on my book are, I think, fairly predicable, from people who in many ways are beneficiaries of this industry. And the things I have to write in the book are, I admit they're quite ugly, I'm the first one to systematically go through the record in the Swiss banks and come to an altogether different conclusion. You know, people have said well Professor - they don't call me Professor Finkelstein, they call me Norman, they say Norman, look you're a person of the left, you hate capitalism, you oppose capitalism, and yet you're defending Swiss bankers and you're defending German industrialists, what's going on here. And I said that, look, if you want to radically redistribute the world's wealth, I'm all for it. And if you want to expropriate, as Marx said, the expropriators, you know, the bankers and the industrialists, I'm all for it. But I'm not for dirtying, besmirching my parents' memory to do it. I don't think you should turn my parents' suffering and the suffering of the Jews who endured the Nazi holocaust and those, the few who managed to survive, I don't think you should turn it into part of a shakedown industry. I find that morally so repugnant that I am going to defend Swiss bankers when the historical record supports them. I'm for the redistribution of wealth, because I think it's a moral, a moral responsibility to feed the hungry of the world. But I'm not for it simply because I hate Swiss bankers.

Byrne: But in holding - with great respect - your memory of your parents, as an argument for what you've done, isn't that in a way like the people you describe, the members of the holocaust industry, holding the suffering of Jews before them? We can't assail you on that, but does it really justify what you've done and the pain and grief it may cause people?

Finkelstein: I'm not sure why trying to uncover an accurate record of the suffering that Jews endured, and making that record part of the legacy, not just of the Jewish people, but something from which all of humanity can benefit, I recoil from the claims of the holocaust industry, that we should never compare. As I said in my introduction, the credo of my mother was to always compare. Wherever she saw suffering, she reached out in a compassionate way, and sought to identify in the suffering of others, the elements of her own suffering. She would never have said do not compare. And so my view is, why is trying to restore an accurate, correct view of what happened, and treating that experience in a compassionate way, from which the rest of humanity can benefit, why should that upset people?

Byrne: Well, can I read you just an example. This might be why. You describe the holocaust industry as an industry to extort money from Europe, and it has shrunk the moral stature of their martyrdom to that of a Monte Carlo casino.

Finkelstein: Exactly.

Byrne: These aren't compassionate words. These are very sharp, polemical words.

Finkelstein: Right. And that's exactly what I felt or feel has happened. That the suffering my parents have endured has now been turned into an extortion racket. And so I think in exposing these people, and finally ridding them from Jewish life, and American political life generally, you're doing a benefit for the Jewish people, and not just the Jewish people, by doing so. Yes, these are sharp words for my view an extremely egregious organisation.

Byrne: Just go back to what we were talking about with the uniqueness. Do you accept that the holocaust was a uniquely frightful, a uniquely hideous, ugly, racist period of history? Or was it not unique at all in your view?

Finkelstein: I think at the risk of sounding trivial - and I recognise this can come across as trivial - every historical event has unique features, as well as features in common with other historical events. The normal procedure of any scholar - and not even a scholar - a layperson, is when you look at a historical event, as I'm sure you recall from grade school, you look for similarities and differences, you look for continuities and you look for discontinuities. These are the ordinary procedures. And as I said at the end of my book, my wish would be that the Nazi holocaust be restored as a rational object of inquiry.

Byrne: But not a uniquely monstrous event?

Finkelstein: I don't know how you would quantify or qualify something as uniquely monstrous.

Byrne: Six million Jewish lives, concentration camps.

Finkelstein: Would you prefer to have then in a gas chamber in Auschwitz or ground zero at Hiroshima? How do you compare? What's the basis for the comparison? I call Plato in my introduction and he says you can't compare the misery of any two people. And I have to say that to even embark on that kind of enterprise, to me means already taking the first steps in a morally degrading undertaking. My parents would never, looking at the bloated belly of a child in Central Africa, or looking at the incinerated flesh of a Vietnamese girl, they would never say, Norman, that's terrible, but don't compare it to us. What a morally repugnant stance to take.

Byrne: You must know though that that is precisely one of the things in your book that has most upset and outraged many Jews, because they claim the holocaust was unique.

Finkelstein: I think that how Jews have now come to conceive the Nazi holocaust is in part, but not completely, in part, a result of the kinds of propaganda that's churned out by the industry. But I can assure you, speaking now from personal experience, that that's not the universal or the only way to interpret the Nazi holocaust, and perhaps here I am making a personal statement, but I have to be, I have to be adamant that that's plainly not the lesson that my parents imparted. And I think the lesson my parents imparted is maybe not the only one, but certainly should be part of the discussion and the debate.

Byrne: Just finally, what in your view, is the motive behind those who comprise what you would call the holocaust industry? Why are they doing it if not for good reasons?

Finkelstein: I said at the beginning of the book that I think that a lot of the motive behind this holocaust industry is political, in large part though not entirely, to deflect criticism of the state of Israel and its - let's not use euphemism, because I don't usually - its crimes against the Palestinian people, and I think there are, you know, other sorts of motives. But I want to emphasise, and I suspect we're coming to the end now, I want to emphasise one point, which is perhaps didn't come across as clearly as I wished in the book, I don't think these people care at all about the Nazi holocaust. I don't think they care at all about Israel, I don't think they care at all about the Jewish people. They showed no interest in Israel before the June '67 war, before Israel became an American ally and it was convenient to be pro-Israel. They showed no interest for the survivors before June 1967, and to this day - and I get the calls daily and I remember the anguish of my mother in the last years of her life - if they showed any interest, if they had any concern, even a jot, for the Nazi holocaust, its memory, and those few who managed to survive, would they be stealing the compensation monies from them.

Byrne: So you're saying it's greed?

Finkelstein: I'm saying that as the same sociological standards we'd apply to any other group, we should apply here, people are motivated by interest.

That's not a shocking revelation. People are motivated by the desires for privilege, for power, for profit. Those are not shocking revelations. Anyone who's had any experience in life knows these things. So why should we be shocked that those who claim to represent the Jewish people, those who wrap themselves sanctimoniously in a mantle of needy holocaust victims, why should we be shocked that they may actually be moved by the same impulses as most mortals.

Byrne: Why would you be surprised that people who aren't big institutions, who aren't members of the Jewish lobby in America, would be terribly distressed by much of what you write.

Finkelstein: I would admit, again, I don't want to pretend to this kind of ingenuousness or naivety, yes, I think people would be shocked, but sometimes I think it's useful to shock people out of a stupor. You know, if I had written a dry academic tract, it would have gotten six reviews within a very narrow academic community. And in some ways, I consider the book a wakeup call, because it should tell Jews that something terrible is happening. Did the Japanese do this to Hiroshima? Did African-Americans do this to slavery? To turn it, the worst national tragedy the Jewish people experienced throughout human history, to turn into theme parks, to turn it into just the cheapest, crassest propaganda, you have to reflect, what is going on here. And it's a reflection at least in my case that's still grounded in the fundamental belief that there is something useful to be learnt. You'll laugh if I say my friends have been telling me for 20 or 30 years, Norm, it's time to move on. Let's do some new topic. And so this has been a central motivating factor for me, because I could divine from my parents that there was something there that if you probed it in a rational and honest way, you can learn a lot.

Byrne: Okay, you've set the bomb, you've thrown it, are you ready for the fallout?

Finkelstein: I'll say it again. I was exceedingly close to my parents. They invested their entire lives in giving myself and my brothers a good education, and they lived for their children. And I owe it to them.

Byrne: Is that a yes? Is that a yes?

Finkelstein: It means I weather the storm knowing, as I do, that I did my best to give an honest interpretation, as I say in my acknowledgments, an honest interpretation of my parents' legacy.

Byrne: Norman Finkelstein, thank you very much.

Finkelstein: Thank you.

Byrne: Thanks for joining us.

Finkelstein: Thank you very much.

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Iran says U.S., Israel are the real nuclear threats
By Louis Charbonneau
Sat May 28,12:26 AM ET

UNITED NATIONS - The United States and Israel represent the real nuclear threat to the world, not Iran, Tehran's chief envoy to the
United Nations said on Friday after an abortive conference on controlling nuclear weapons.

Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the U.N., said the United States never intended to scrap its nuclear arsenal, despite promising to eventually disarm when it signed the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the landmark arms control pact.

Zarif, in an interview with Reuters, said Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, was the threat to the Middle East region. "There is unanimity on the threat that is posed not only by Israeli nuclear weapons but by its aggressive policy (in general)," he said.

Washington is backing efforts by Britain, France and Germany to persuade Tehran to halt its nuclear fuel program, which they fear may be intended to make atomic bombs. Iran denies this, insisting its program is peaceful.

Zarif dismissed as hollow U.S. pledges in 1995 and 2000 reaffirming its commitment to scrap its nuclear arsenal. "The U.S. never had any intention of living up to its commitments under Article 6 of the treaty," he said.

In Article 6 of the NPT the five treaty signatories with nuclear weapons -- Russia, the United States, France, Britain and China -- agreed to eventually disarm.


Zarif said U.S. attacks on Iran's nuclear program were a "smoke screen to divert attention from its violations" that included a U.S. willingness "to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states."

Every five years the 188 members of the NPT meet for a month to review the landmark treaty. The 2005 review ended on Friday without any agreement on how to improve the accord. Many delegates blamed both Washington and Tehran for what they described a failure of the conference to do anything.

Washington worked hard to prevent the conference -- which works by consensus -- from approving any documents that refer to its 1995 and 2000 pledges to disarm, while Iran blocked anything that referred to it as a proliferation threat and NPT violator.

The conference approved a document that merely listed the agenda and the participants.

Egypt also worked hard to prevent any substantive conclusion from the conference when it saw it had no chance of focusing criticism on Israel's assumed atomic arsenal.

"Israel is the threat to the region," he said. "It is one of the great ironies of our age that a country outside the framework of legality in the area of nonproliferation is one of the countries that is the most active participants against Iran," he said.

Like atomic-armed India and Pakistan, Israel has never signed the NPT. It neither admits nor denies having the bomb, Israel is estimated to have some 200 nuclear warheads.

Comment: Zarif has a point when he says that US promises to disarm were hollow. The simple fact is that the US is pushing for newer, smaller nuclear weapons along with bunker-busting "mini-nukes" while simultaneously pushing for the nuclear disarmament of those nations targeted in the Neocon/Zionist "war on terror".

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Car bombs, shooting kill 11, wound 70 in Iraq
May 28, 2005

BAGHDAD - Two suicide car bombs exploded outside a joint U.S.-Iraqi military base near the northern town of Sinjar on Saturday, killing five people and wounding at least 45, a hospital official said.

Witnesses told the official the bombs exploded in quick succession at the entrance to the base, which is just south of Sinjar, in the northwest of Iraq, close to the border with Syria.

Most of those wounded were labourers at the camp or Iraqi troops, they said.

The blasts followed a car bomb attack on an Iraqi police convoy in Tikrit late on Friday which killed two civilians and wounded 24 people, including nine police, Jalal Khoshi, a doctor at the local hospital said.

He said an ambulance driver carrying the wounded to hospital had also been shot and killed, but it was not immediately clear by whom.

South of Baghdad, outside the town of Hilla, unknown gunmen stopped a car carrying five Iraqi soldiers and opened fire, killing four of them and seriously wounding one, a spokesman for the Hilla police said.

There has been an upsurge in violence over the past month, with mostly Sunni Arab guerrillas stepping up their two-year-old insurgency since a new Shi'ite-led government was formed.

Nearly 700 Iraqis have been killed in car bomb blasts, ambushes and shootings since the beginning of May, while more than 60 U.S. troops have also died in the same period.

As well as the sustained high number of attacks on Iraqi security forces, there has been an increase in sectarian killings, with Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims dying in tit-for-tat attacks.

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Bomb blasts in Indonesian Christian town kill 21
Sat May 28, 5:09 AM ET

TENTENA, Indonesia - Two bombs ripped through a busy market in a Christian town in eastern Indonesia on Saturday, killing up to 21 people in an attack likely to raise fears sectarian bloodshed could again break out in the region.

The explosions left a trail of blood and destruction in the lakeside town of Tentena, on the eastern island of Sulawesi, part of an area where three years of Muslim-Christian clashes killed 2,000 people until a peace deal was agreed in late 2001.

Periodic unrest has flared since, but Saturday morning's attack was among the worst. Tensions rose after the bombings, with hundreds of residents converging on the local hospital and destroyed outdoor market, demanding police find the killers.

The official Antara news agency, quoting local government officials, said the death toll was 21. Police earlier told Reuters it was 19.

A local hospital official said 32 people were wounded, many seriously. One toddler was among the dead, officials said.

Crowds of people banged their hands on the local police chief's car when he arrived on the scene soon after the attacks, but there was no violence.

"The situation is getting tense," Andi Asikin, the mayor of Poso town not far from Tentena, told El Shinta radio station.

"People are upset because their families are victims. Crowds of people who are relatives of the victims are condemning the act. They are demanding officials hunt the perpetrators."

Police on the scene said the bombs comprised high explosives, adding that the blasts could be heard 12 km (7 miles) away. The second explosion came 15 minutes after the first, and was the bigger of the two, residents said.

The roofs of shops near the market were torn off and food and goods scattered over a wide area in Tentena, 1,500 km (900 miles) northeast of Jakarta. Windows in a police station were blown out.

Much of the past Sulawesi violence focused on nearby Poso in a conflict that drew Muslim militants from groups such as the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah, a Southeast Asian network blamed for numerous bomb attacks across Indonesia.

Some 85 percent of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslim. But in some eastern parts, Christian and Muslim populations are about equal in size.

Picturesque Tentena, famed for its churches and surrounded by clove-covered hills, lies 40 km (25 miles) to the south of Poso. Police were checking vehicles leaving Tentena, while security had been tightened. Most shops had closed.

"I was standing in front of a store when suddenly there was an explosion. I lost consciousness," said one victim, Jonathan, from his hospital bed after being wounded by shrapnel.


Religious figures called the bombings an act of terrorism.

"The people behind this do not want Poso to be safe," said priest Renaldi Damanik.

Police said one suspicious package was found nearby after the explosions, but added it was not a bomb.

The two explosions follow heightened warnings from Western governments about terrorist attacks in the world's most populous Muslim nation, although few foreigners venture to the Poso region because of its history of bloodshed.

On Thursday, the United States closed all its four diplomatic missions in Indonesia because of a security threat.

Comment: A security threat, or a tip? The only groups that benefit from an attack on Christians that is blamed on muslims are the Neocons and Zionists.

Attacks against Western targets and blamed on Jemaah Islamiah include blasts at Bali nightclubs in October 2002 that killed 202 people, mostly foreigners, and one last September outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta that killed 10.

The Tentena bombings follow an attack by gunmen on a police post in the Moluccas islands further to the east that killed five police this month.

The Moluccas islands, 2,300 km (1,440 miles) east of Jakarta, were also the scene of vicious communal fighting between Muslims and Christians from 1999 to 2002 that left more than 5,000 dead. A peace agreement was reached there in early 2002.

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ETA bomb warning at Franco's burial place in Spain
May 28, 2005

MADRID - Spanish police said on Saturday they were investigating a report that Basque guerrilla group ETA had placed a bomb in the Valle de los Caidos, the burial place of dictator Francisco Franco near Madrid.

The warning, issued in the name of ETA, which is seeking a separate homeland, was given to Basque-language newspaper Gara, a police spokesman said.

"Security forces are inspecting the area," he said.

No further information was immediately available.

Gara is the usual channel used by ETA to give bomb warnings, as happened earlier this week when a bomb exploded in Madrid wounding more than 50 people.

Valle de los Caidos, a huge mausoleum to the northwest of Madrid, was hewn out of a mountainside over nearly two decades by Republican prisoners after Spain's 1936-1939 civil war.

It houses the remains of Franco, the fascist dictator who brutally repressed Basques in his rule of more than 30 years.

The bomb warning followed the release on bail on Friday of Arnaldo Otegi, the leader of the outlawed Basque party Batasuna. He had been ordered held on suspicion of belonging to the armed separatist movement.

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A restraint of liberty

Faced with a choice between market freedom and human life, governments have chosen to preserve the former
George Monbiot
Tuesday May 24, 2005
The Guardian

The British government recognises two kinds of freedom. There is the freedom of the citizen, which it appears to perceive as a threat to good order. It has permitted (through the Serious Organised Crime Act) the police or courts to ban any public protest. It is introducing identity cards, restricting immigration, seeking to curb the right of habeas corpus and extending antisocial behaviour orders.

Then there is the freedom of business. Though the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise are already incapable of dealing with tax evaders, Gordon Brown is cutting 10,000 of their staff. Tony Blair is trying to destroy the European working time directive, which prevents companies from working their employees to death. The draconian measures in the Queen's speech restraining the citizen were immediately followed by a promise to deregulate business. The government is prepared to micro-manage us, while leaving the more powerful agents - the corporations - free to manage themselves.

Like the patricians in Coriolanus, Tony Blair will "repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain the poor". For business to be free, we must be kept in check.

This isn't, according to the high priest of this religion, how it was meant to be. Adam Smith held that market freedom was desirable for one reason: that it improved people's lives. Where he perceived that it had the opposite effect, he called for restraint. "Those exertions of the natural liberty of a few individuals, which might endanger the security of the whole society, are, and ought to be, restrained by the laws of all governments," he wrote. Governments have "the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it".

Such warnings were of course ignored. Sixty years later, John Clare surveyed the devastation wrought by the new liberties. "Thus came enclosure - ruin was its guide / But freedom's clapping hands enjoyed the sight / Though comfort's cottage soon was thrust aside / And workhouse prisons raised upon the site."

But the most breathtaking contradiction of the past week was the prime minister's demand for respect: for everyone except those whose lives we are destroying. We might no longer be allowed to wear hooded tops in public places, but we will remain free to kill the people of south Asia.

Though Tony Blair has acknowledged that climate change will radically alter human existence, there were no new proposals to tackle it in the Queen's speech. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics last week show that greenhouse gas emissions from flights by UK residents almost doubled between 1990 and 2003, while emissions from private cars rose by 14%. Britain's carbon dioxide production is supposed to fall to 80% of 1990 levels by 2010, but even before the air transport figures are counted, it has risen in the past two years. Only government intervention could put us back on course, but Blair has already filled up his legislative programme: his contribution to solving the problem will now, it seems, be rhetorical.

It is not just that we are free to kill other people; market freedom constrains us to do so. The economy is so organised as to make it almost impossible to do the right thing. If your village isn't served by public transport and there is nowhere safe to cycle, you have, for all the talk of freedom to drive, no choice. If the superstores have shut down all the small shops, you must give your money to a company whose purchasing and distribution networks look like a plan for maximum environmental impact.

So we are encouraged by the market and left free by the law to inflict the most grievous harm that any group of people has ever inflicted on any other. There are several good reasons for supposing that climate change, within the course of this century, will throw the world into food deficit. The glaciers of the Himalayas, which feed the great rivers watering the farmland keeping Asia alive, are disappearing. As the temperature rises, plant growth in the tropics is likely to slow down: already this appears to be happening to rice crops in the Philippines. Drought zones are expanding: even in the early 1990s the nomadic people I worked with in east Africa were complaining that the 40-year famine cycle had been compressed to four or five.

Already, with a net food surplus, some 800 million people on earth are permanently malnourished. With a net food deficit, this figure could rise into the billions. We will be responsible for this. By the time we reach the end of our lives, every one of us, however kind and mild and well-meaning we might be, will have been responsible for the equivalent, in terms of human suffering, of a medium-sized act of terrorism.

Climate change reverses Smith's central dictum: that "by pursuing his own interest [a man] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it". Now the interests of global society will be served primarily by restraint.

Everything we thought was good turns out also to be bad. It is an act of kindness to travel to your cousin's wedding. Now it is also an act of cruelty. It is a good thing to light the streets at night. Climate change tells us it kills more people than it saves. We are killing people by the most innocent means: turning on the lights, taking a bath, driving to work, going on holiday. Climate change demands a reversal of our moral compass, for which we are plainly unprepared. It is hardly surprising that no government really wants to confront us. It is left to Greenpeace, which occupied the Range Rover factory last week, to restrict the exercise of market freedom that Blair refuses to touch.

As Gordon Brown, the man who keeps the markets free, says, "what is morally wrong cannot be economically right". In terms of raw GDP, Adam Smith's "perfect liberties" are economically right. No one who has understood the threat of climate change could fail to see that they are also morally wrong.

The Economist argued recently that the best means of solving this problem is through greater market freedom: this, of course, is the cure it prescribes for all ills, even before it has investigated the nature of the disease. The problem is that the deaths of people in Bangladesh or Somalia cost us nothing: we have no financial incentive to minimise them. Carbon trading, in its current form, rewards the polluting companies most responsible for the problem. It reminds me of the contract won by Degussa, a company which had supplied Zyklon B to the gas chambers, to provide the protective coating for Berlin's Holocaust memorial: they are profiting twice from mass death.

We can deal with climate change only with the help of governments, restraining the exertions of our natural liberties. So far, however, when confronted with a choice between the two sacred commodities - market freedom and human life - the one they have chosen to preserve is market freedom.

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Why the French are saying non
By Guardian Unlimited / Europe 02:23pm
- Jon Henley in Paris

It ain't over 'til la grosse dame chante, as they don't say in French, but every French opinion pollster now believes it will be a remarkable upset if the nation votes yes to the European constitution on Sunday.

So what was it all about? Why are France's voters about to reject a constitution that France asked for, negotiated tooth and nail (getting almost all of what it wanted in the process) and wrote (a former president, Giscard d'Estaing, chaired the convention that drafted it)?

A treaty that, moreover, undeniably strengthens France's position within the EU and incontestably marks major advances over the union's previous efforts on some of the human rights issues France holds particularly dear: it defines, for example, racial and sexual equality and the protection of children, as goals for the whole union.

It's a big question, and there are almost as many answers as there are French voters who intend to say "non". For my final French blog of the week, with two days to go before R-day, here (in no particular order) is a doubtless incomplete list of Why Just Over Half The French Are Saying Non. It's been a great debate.

It is partly because:

- They detest their current government and are reluctant to vote for anything that it proposes

- They are fed up with their entire political class, on both right and left, which they feel is arrogant, self-serving, removed from real life and has refused to listen to their concerns for too long

- They believe the treaty is a blueprint for an ultra-liberal, Anglo-Saxon Europe that will promote unfettered capitalism

- They believe it will degrade French public services and cost French jobs

- They feel that when the president, the government and the mainstream opposition combine to trumpet the merits of something and to implicitly denounce its opponents as half-wits who have understood nothing, it is their moral duty to revolt

- They feel ditto, but even more strongly, when virtually every newspaper, TV and radio commentator more or less explicitly backs the constitution and expresses amazement at the very possibility of a no vote

- They are worried about the expanded (and expanding) union and about its impact on their lives, particularly the arrival in France en masse of the key bogeyman of this debate, the Polish plumber (don't even mention the Turkish taxi-driver)

- They believe the French social model is preferable to any other, is at threat, and is worth defending

- They have finally been asked to give their opinion on a Europe that they feel has been constructed more or less behind their backs, and they're damned well going to give it

- They remember that every time over the past decade that a French politician has had to make a difficult announcement, he has blamed Brussels

- They do not feel that saying no will weaken France's position in Europe, because they think it will trigger a tidal wave of comprehension and support in a great many other countries leading to a "salutary crisis" that will eventually create a better, more social Europe

- They believe the text of the treaty can be renegotiated to take account of France's concerns and objections

- They reject the argument of European institutional chaos, saying the treaty of Nice will continue to apply for as long as necessary until the mess is sorted out

- They feel they are not anti-European, just anti the Europe they perceive as enshrined in this constitution, so voting no is actually a pro-European act

- They recognise that the yes camp ran a rubbish campaign led by a president and a prime minister with zero credibility and a Socialist party that could not make its mind up, and whose sole argument for far too long was to say no to the no

- They realise that from the start, the yes was on the defensive rather than the offensive; it admitted the text was "not perfect" and (on both left and right) was never comfortable handling the fundamental issue (very sensitive in France) of economic liberalism

- They are reacting belatedly to the fact that no French politician has ever dared tell them that France will, in one way or another, have to adapt at some stage to the phenomenon of globalisation, and that it will probably involve some degree of pain

- Their very French instinct (and, up to a point, it's one to be proud of) is: Resist

- They subscribe to the notion that "le compromis n'est pas français"

- Being French, and not living in a colourless Anglo-Saxon world, they were itching for the mother of all ideological debates, the one that would finally pit the true socialism against wicked liberalism, and the treaty gave them the perfect opportunity because its clauses are open to interpretation (that's the point of them, of course - they are not supposed to be doctrine)

All that said, the bottom line seems, with plenty of exceptions, to be that if your socio-professional situation allows you to feel that, on the whole, the future is an opportunity, you will probably vote yes. If, on the other hand, your socio-professional situation leaves you feeling threatened and anxious, you will probably vote no.

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French 'are champion holiday-takers'

PARIS, May 26 (AFP) - The French are the champion holiday-takers, enjoying an average 39 days of annual leave from work, according to a new study, carried out in six major western nations, which was published Thursday.

The poor old US worker languishes at the bottom of the holiday heap with just 12 days off per year, according to the study carried out by the US Harris Interactive-Novatris research institute.

Among the other countries included in the survey, the Germans came out second best with 27 days annual holiday, followed by the Dutch (25), the British (23) and the Canadians (21).

The study, published by the on-line travel agents Expedia France,
pointed out that the French figure included an average of nine days given to employees here as recompense for working more than the statutory 35-hour week.

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Member of Terrorist Group Deported
Associated Press
May 28, 2005

WASHINGTON - A member of a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida has been deported to Pakistan after being detained for over a year, Homeland Security investigators said Friday.

Pakistani native Khamal Muhammad told authorities he was an armed guard and cook for Harakat ul-Mujahidin - designated by the State Department as a terrorism organization associated with al-Qaida.

Muhammad, 23, was living in the San Francisco area when he was arrested in January 2004 for overstaying his visa by eight months, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of the Homeland Security Department.

He entered the United States in 2001, a year after ICE officials said he trained to use pistols, rifles and grenades in a Harakat ul-Mujahidin camp in Afghanistan. The leader of Harakat ul-Mujahidin is believed to be a close ally to Osama bin Laden, ICE officials said.

The Justice Department did not pursue criminal charges against Muhammad. "Knowledge or connection to a terrorist activity may not be sufficient to prove a terrorism crime," said Justice spokesman Kevin Madden.

Comment: Exactly. The problem is that this simple fact has not stopped the Bush administration in the past. Do a little research and try to find one "terrorist" prisoner who has been successfully prosecuted in a legal manner by US authorities with hard evidence of a crime. There is a very good reason why the Bush administration must resort to detention without charge under the "enemy combatant" label or renditioning prisoners to other countries...

"Sometimes the best alternative from a national security standpoint is to pursue other disruption efforts, including removal from the United States."

Muhammad was held on immigration charges for 15 months before being sent back to Pakistan last week, ICE officials said. "We brought all the charges that we could, using the administrative authorities that we have," ICE spokesman Dean Body said Friday.

Muhammad was deported May 17. Separately, ICE deported another Pakistani man the same day after he finished serving a 16-month sentence for lying to federal agents about the whereabouts of a militant leader.

Hamid Sheikh, 41, had refused to help federal agents in Philadelphia locate Agha Ali Abbas Qazalbash, who authorities said is a member of a militant Shia organization in Pakistan. The group, Sipah-e-Mohammed Pakistan, was outlawed in Pakistan in August 2001.

Both cases "demonstrate how ICE is prioritizing for removal those individuals who pose threats to our national security," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Garcia said in a statement Friday.

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Fake Left Anti-War Groups Out Themselves
by : Ben Frank
Friday 27th May 2005

You know, I hate to be accusatory, but there comes a time when you've got to call people out on their bogus logic. This incredible smoking gun memo just came out, now we KNOW that Bush Lied to start the war and that all the WMD threats were bogus, the neocons were 'fixing the facts' to sell it to the gullible American public. Why aren't all honest members of Congress raising hell? Troops are still dying every day - dying so Bush the Liar can save face - we need to stop this NOW. Immediate action is called for, protests now to Demand Congressional Action.

It is up to US to Demand Action from Congress

And what do US anti-war groups think? These 'progressive leaders' have called for protests Sept 24-26.

Huh? Why September?

Bush lied, it's all come out, they stole $9 billion and didn't investigate, they spread radioactive waste across Iraq, and they PLANNED THE WAR IN 2002!!!

This equates to pre-meditated murder on a mass scale. How much proof does one need? They lied, they're looting, sinking our kids in debt - it's sick... and the biggest US anti-war groups plan a protest this fall? All those kids that are going to die between now and then... it's ok because you're busy til late September?

Where is the logic in waiting 4 months? It's too hot in the summer? College kids are getting summer jobs? What possible reason could they have to protest in September, rather than right NOW!

To me, it just seems logical that this call for a late September protest is a Cointelpro action. Cointelpro (peace group infiltration) was real in the '70s, and everything Bushco is doing today is much worse than what Nixon did in the '70s... It is entirely possible, and judging by their actions probable, that the biggest 'anti-war' groups are infiltrated, if not setup by Cointelpro type influences.

It's not too hard a leap to make... they lied to start the war, they knew they couldn't fool everybody with the mass media lies, so they setup phony protest groups to divert and weaken the movement. If you think this is 'conspiracy theory' fine, but back it up with logic - why should we wait until Sept 24th, why should we allow another 2 troops to die everyday?

Anti-war Groups that have called for a protest in late Sept. (as of 5/25):

* - Never heard of 'em before, but this was the first email I received calling for 'unity' rally in late September.

* A.N.S.W.E.R. also has a call for a National Day of Action June 13th: Send Posada to Venezuela. ?! (Ever notice that ANSWER always manages to get their protests covered on national tv (C-span)- and the rallies always fail to provide important facts, fail to make a real case to the tv audience. ANSWER loves cheerleading chants- very easy for the public to dismiss.)

* United for Peace and Justice- here's part of their statement:

"It's time to hold all pro-war politicians accountable for the deaths, the destruction, the lies, and the toll on our communities from the illegal and immoral Iraq war!" join us in September?!

Simply put, does Karl Rove want us to protest now, or in September? Why are the anti-war groups siding with Karl Rove? That's two of the largest anti- war groups in America, UfPJ and ANSWER, both committing to wait until September to protest. Why? (Note: 'Progressives' have scheduled the Take Back America conference in DC next week as well. Activists from around the country will travel to DC and whadda-ya-know, their Reps won't be there as it's Home District Week. fyi- there's another one the week of July 4th)

Here is an alternative to waiting until September 24th to raise your voice.

Take the Time to Give Congress A Piece of Your Mind!

Can't make it to DC, that's fine - all CongressCritters are returning home next week, from Memorial Day, May 30 until Friday June 3rd. There should be informed citizens in every state, giving their "Reps" and earful. There are millions of Republicans and Democrats disgusted with what Bush has done to America, they would all be in the streets if they just knew when and where to be.

Every State is going to have a Memorial Day ceremony, attended by a Senator or Congressman... why not show up with a few friends and ask them some questions?

-Why didn't they investigate the 'lost' $9 billion?

-Why did they stiff our troops $2 billion for Health care?

-Why did they vote for a "Soviet-style" National ID Card?

-Why are they still giving halliburton more cost-plus contracts?

-Why don't they care about The Memo and it's grave implications?

-Why is lying about a dress impeachable, but lying to start a war is

"Do something dammit! Use your power as a Senator to commandeer a tv station, let's replace the sitcoms with the truth and save our country!"

Every member of Congress swore to uphold the Constitution. Lying to start a war is as bad as it gets - impeachment proceedings should begin immediately. If they don't hold Bush Accountable, those members of Congress are guilty of treason, and they too, must be held accountable. If possible, go to their office and give them an earful next week! ;-)

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Military Analysts Who Lived in Aluminum Fairy Land Rewarded
Juan Cole
Saturday, May 28, 2005

Two Army analysts who mistakenly claimed that aluminum tubing bought by Iraq was for centrifuges to enrich uranium received job performance awards during the past 3 years. When the specifications of the tubing were finally shown to the International Atomic Energy Commission in March of 2003, Mohammed ElBaradei was able to falsify the allegation within 24 hours, issuing a statement that tubing with those specifications could not be used for uranium enrichment. If Elbaradei could see the falsehood of the claims almost immediately, it is not plausible that US analysts could not.

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Why Iran's nuclear weapons don't matter

The [Ohio class] submarine has the capacity for 24 Trident missile tubes in two rows of 12. The dimensions of the Trident II missile are length 1,360cm x diameter 210cm and the weight is 59,000kg. The three-stage solid fuel rocket motor is built by ATK (Alliant Techsystems) Thiokol Propulsion. The US Navy gives the range as "greater than 7,360km" but this could be up to 12,000km depending on the payload mix. Missile guidance is provided by an inertial navigation system, supported by stellar navigation. Trident II is capable of carrying up to twelve MIRVs (multiple independent re-entry vehicles), each with a yield of 100 kilotons, although the SALT treaty limits this number to eight per missile. The circle of equal probability (the radius of the circle within which half the strikes will impact) is less than 150m. The Sperry Univac Mark 98 missile control system controls the 24 missiles.

The 14 Trident II SSBNs carry together around 50 percent of total U.S. strategic warheads. (The exact number varies in an unpredictable and highly classified manner below a maximum set by various strategic arms limitation treaties.) Although the missiles have no pre-set targets when the submarine goes on patrol, the SSBNs are capable of rapidly targeting their missiles should the need arise, using secure and constant at-sea communications links. The Ohio class are the largest submarines ever built for the U.S. Navy, and are second only to the Russian Typhoon class in mass and size. A single submarine carries the destructive power more than nine times greater than all Allied ordnance dropped in WWII.

Only the whales and dolphins know where these submarines are when they are out on patrol. Not even the president knows their exact location. "Somewhere in the Pacific."

When the Soviet Union achieved nuclear parity with the United States, the Cold War had entered a new phase. The cold war became a conflict more dangerous and unmanageable than anything Americans had faced before. In the old cold war Americans had enjoyed superior nuclear force, an unchallenged economy, strong alliances, and a trusted Imperial President to direct his incredible power against the Soviets. In the new cold war, however, Russian forces achieved nuclear equality. Each side could destroy the other many times.This fact was officially accepted in a military doctrine known as Mutual Assured Destruction, a.k.a. MAD. Mutual Assured Destruction began to emerge at the end of the Kennedy administration. MAD reflects the idea that one's population could best be protected by leaving it vulnerable so long as the other side faced comparable vulnerabilities. In short: Whoever shoots first, dies second.

If Iran needs to be invaded, and occupied, to prevent them from ever developing and possibly using a nuclear weapon against the mainland United States, then our parents and grandparents wasted untold billions in producing nuclear weapons and submarines to defend against just such a threat. And we want our money back.

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Saudi Arabia's King Fahd Hospitalized
May 28, 5:14 AM (ET)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - King Fahd, whose efforts to strengthen ties between Saudi Arabia - the world's largest oil exporter - and the United States provoked the wrath of Islamic militants, was hospitalized Friday, apparently suffering from pneumonia.

Fahd's half brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, has been Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler since Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995. Abdullah is expected to become king should Fahd die.

Fahd's hospitalization triggered reports that an emergency had been declared in the kingdom. Officials said on condition of anonymity that an alert had been declared and that military leaves had been canceled or at least discouraged. However, this was firmly denied by the Interior Ministry.

"This is absolutely not true," ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki said. "There's no canceling of leaves and no state of emergency or anything."

Saudi television station Al-Ekhbariya reported that Abdullah assured Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a phone call late Friday that Fahd's health was good and that the medical examinations were going normally.

The official Saudi Press Agency said that Fahd, who is believed to be 82, was admitted to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh for unspecified medical tests.

But reports of Fahd's deteriorating health had been blamed for sending the Saudi stock market tumbling 5 percent earlier in the week. Friday's news that he was taken to a hospital helped push crude oil futures to near $52 a barrel ahead of the U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend, the start of the American summer driving season.

Saudi Arabia's strategic importance as the holder of the world's largest oil reserves and the fact that it is home to Islam's two holiest shrines means even a stable succession could impact world markets and have widespread political fallout.

Asked about the king after a speech in San Francisco, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she did not know the extent of his health problems.

"He has in fact had some health problems for quite a long time. We have an excellent relationship with Crown Prince Abdullah," Rice said.

With the portly, goateed Fahd only a figurehead in the last decade, it has been Abdullah who has overseen the kingdom's crackdown on Islamic militants after followers of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden launched a wave of attacks. Abdullah tried to rebuild relations with the United States in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks; 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.

At one Riyadh coffee shop Friday, patrons flipped from channel to channel on a television set, intently seeking information on Fahd's condition.

"This is all we're talking about tonight," said one man who would give his name only as Khaled. "Everyone is talking about what is going on. ... We're waiting for more news."

On the streets, there was no sign of an increased security presence.

One official said doctors believe the monarch has pneumonia. The official requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of his position.

A royal office official said the king had a fever and "water in his lung" but was expected to leave the hospital soon. He did not elaborate. [...]

During his rule, Fahd brought the kingdom closer to the United States. His most significant action was a step that enraged many Islamic extremists - allowing the basing of U.S. troops on Saudi soil after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. [...]

In 1981, when he was still a crown prince, Fahd proposed a plan calling for Israel to withdraw from all Arab territory occupied in 1967, including Arab East Jerusalem. According to that plan, Israeli settlements built on Arab lands after 1967 would be dismantled. The West Bank and Gaza Strip would come under U.N. control for a limited period, after which an independent Palestinian state would be set up with Jerusalem as its capital.

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Cuba to continue fighting terrorism, US hostility: Castro 2005-05-28 11:26:15

HAVANA, May 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro said his country will continue fighting terrorism and the hostile policies of the United States.

Cuba will insist that extremist anti-government figure Luis Posada Carriles, who was arrested in the United States, be brought to trial for his crimes against the island, said Castro, as cited Friday by local state-run daily Granma.

Posada, considered by Havana as a terrorist, was supposedly arrested in the United States because of his illegal entry into the US territory.

Castro said last week that the arrest of Posada in the United States was only a farce as the accused is in the payroll of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

He also said that Cuba, which faces a constant harassment by the United States, has the capacity to handle its internal affairs, including the raising of the living conditions of its people.

Cuba said Posada is involved in an attack on a Cuban airliner in 1976 that exploded while flying over the waters of Barbados. The tragedy killed 73 people. He was also involved in a series of bomb attacks in Havana in 1997, which led to the death of an Italian vacationer.

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The most dangerous idea on earth?
By Stephen Cave and Friederike von Tiesenhausen Cave
May 27 2005

It is easy to see how you could be tempted. It might start with genetically screening your children for a lower risk of a hereditary cancer. Or perhaps with a pill that promised to keep your memory fresh and clear into old age.

But what if, while you were having your future children engineered to be cancer-free, you were offered the chance to make them musically gifted? Or, if instead of taking a memory-enhancing pill, you were offered a neural implant that would instantly make you fluent in all the world's languages? Or cleverer by half? Wouldn't it be difficult to say no? And what if you were offered a whole new body - one that would never decay or grow old?

A growing number of people believe these will be the fruits of the revolutions in biotechnology expected this century. And they consider it every individual's right to take advantage of these changes. They think it will soon be within our reach to become something more than human - healthier, stronger, cleverer. All we have to do is live long enough to be around when science makes these advances. If we are, then we may just live forever.

This idea, known as transhumanism, is steadily spreading from a handful of cranks and Star Trek fans into the mainstream and across the Atlantic. But it is an idea that Francis Fukuyama, famed for proclaiming the end of history when US-style liberal democracy triumphed in the cold war, has described as the most dangerous in the world.

In a world at war with terrorism, divided by religious fundamentalism and haunted by racism, sexism and countless other prejudices, how is it that transhumanism has earned the hotly contested title of the most dangerous idea on earth?

According to Nick Bostrom's "The Transhumanist FAQ", transhumanists believe "that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase". With the help of technology, we will be able to enhance our capacities far beyond their present state. It will be within our reach not only to live longer, but to live better.

Bostrom, a lecturer at the University of Oxford and the intellectual spearhead of the transhumanist movement in the UK, sees it as the natural extension of humanism - the belief that we can improve our lot through the application of reason. In the past, humanism has relied on education and democratic institutions to improve the human condition. But in the future, Bostrom claims, "we can also use technological means that will eventually enable us to move beyond what some would think of as ‘human'".

Transhumanists are utopians. They foresee a world in which our intellects will be as far above those of our current selves as we are now above chimpanzees. They dream of being impervious to disease and eternally youthful, of controlling their moods, never feeling tired or irritated, and of being able to experience pleasure, love and serenity beyond anything the human mind can currently imagine.

But dreams of eternal youth are as old as mankind and no dreamer has yet escaped the grave. Why transhumanists believe they are different - and why Fukuyama considers them so dangerous - is because their hopes are based on technologies that are already being developed.

Around the world, there is a growing number of patients who are being helped through the insertion of electrodes and microchips into their brains. These "brain-computer interfaces" are returning sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. They are even enabling the completely paralysed to control computers using only their thoughts.

According to computer scientist and writer Ramez Naam, it is only a matter of time before we can plug these interfaces into the higher brain functions. We will then be able to use them not only to heal but to enhance our mental abilities. Naam foresees a world in which we can do away with paraphernalia such as keyboards, accessing the enormous power of computers using our thoughts alone. It is the stuff of comic books: he predicts super-normal senses, X-ray vision, and sending e-mails just by thinking about it. We could lie in bed surfing the internet in our heads.

In his new book, More Than Human, Naam pins down the defining belief of transhumanism: that there is no distinction between treatment and enhancement. Practically and morally, they are a continuum. In a breathless account, he details the astonishing advances in medicine over the past 20 years. And he shows how the same technologies that could cure Parkinson's or give sight to the blind could also transform the able-bodied.

An ultra-liberal technophile, Naam gushes that "we are the prospective parents of new and unimaginable creatures". He is at his best when indulging his futurological visions, skipping through some of the trickier moral and social questions. He prophesies a revolution in human interaction whereby we can send pictures or even feelings direct into each other's brains and can read the thoughts of those too young, stubborn or sulky to communicate. Extrapolating from technologies that are already being developed, he argues that there will come a time when we are all linked together through a single worldwide mind.

In the self-consciously sober prose of the Transhumanist FAQ, a free online publication found on the World Transhumanist Association's website (, Bostrom describes a yet more radical dream: that the integration of brains and computers will one day enable us to leave the confines of our grey matter altogether. The ultimate escape from the deterioration that flesh is prone to would be to have our minds "uploaded" on to new bodies made of silicone. Our new metal brains would be composed of super computers that would run our thought processes many times faster than their fleshy equivalents. We could even make back-ups of our minds and have ourselves reloaded in the event of emergencies.

The FAQ also pins the hopes of transhumanists on areas of research which are now only in their infancy, such as nanotechnology. Theorists believe that one day nanotechnology will enable us to build complex objects atom by atom. These nanotech "assemblers" would work like computer printers but in three dimensions. Just as a machine now will print out whatever we ask it to in two dimensions, in the future, these assemblers will, like a magic lamp, instantly create whatever we ask - anything from diamond rings to three-course dinners.

The holy grail of nanotechnology is to use it to help us live longer and healthier lives. With the ability to move atoms and molecules around, it will be possible to destroy tumours and rebuild cell walls and membranes. Ultimately, all diseases can be seen as the result of certain atoms being in the wrong place and therefore could be curable by nanotech intervention.

Transhumanists also foresee nanotechnology contributing to a second scientific revolution this century - the development of superintelligence. We will one day be able to build computers that can radically outperform the human brain. These superintelligent systems will not only be able to do sums faster than we can, but could be wiser, funnier and more creative. As the FAQ puts it, they "may be the last invention that humans will ever need to make, since superintelligences could themselves take care of further scientific and technological development".

But even the most optimistic of trans-humanists recognises that not all of these breakthroughs will happen tomorrow. So in order to be around to see this new dawn, many of them are investing in expensive insurance policies. For a few thousand pounds, you can ensure that as soon as you are declared dead, your body will be flown to one of the US's growing number of cryonics institutes. There your cadaver will be frozen in liquid nitrogen and thawed only when medical technology is capable of undoing the ravages of whichever disease caused your demise.

Needless to say, cryonics may not work - currently, the technology does not exist to reverse the damage caused by freezing, let alone lethal cancers. But there is no question that it will improve the odds of a comeback compared with the conventional alternative: rotting in a grave. As Bostrom puts it, "cryonics is the second worst thing that can happen to you."

The more laborious approach to sticking around long enough to become transhuman involves changing to a radically healthier lifestyle. In Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, published in the UK this month, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil and physician Terry Grossman offer a 450-page step-by-step guide to achieving immortality.

Like Bostrom and Naam, Kurzweil and Grossman are wowed by the potential of new technologies such as genetic engineering and artificial intelligence, and they sketch the ways in which they might add to the human life span. But for the ageing baby boomer generation to which they belong, keeping going long enough to reap these benefits is a real and pressing concern. The bulk of their book is therefore dedicated to a detailed compilation of cutting-edge health advice.

Although many of their recommendations - such as to eat more veg and take more exercise - are the stuff of all our New Year's resolutions, others are not for the half-hearted. They prescribe a regime of "aggressive supplementation" which would transform any kitchen into a pharmacy. For some vitamins they advocate between ten and 100 times the current recommended daily allowance. But despite its extraordinary ambitions, Fantastic Voyage is serious and extensively researched. Combined with the boldness of its prescriptions, this puts it in a league above most other health books on the shelf.

There is a long and colourful history of those who have striven for physical immortality, from the advocates of ingesting precious metals to the supporters of pickling oneself in wine. The one thing these advocates have in common is that they are now all 6ft under. To many, transhumanism will seem a continuation of this age-old and egoistic quest, updated with the modish language of science fiction.

But to transhumanists it is a mission to save the world. Every week, one million people die on this planet. So instead of bans and moratoria, transhumanists want to see greater investment in the kind of research that could make death through disease and old age entirely avoidable. In Kurzweil and Grossman's words, "even minor delays will result in the suffering and death of millions of people." For them, this makes it a moral imperative.

Fukuyama disagrees. He counsels humility before meddling with human nature. In last September's Foreign Policy magazine article, when he labelled transhumanism the world's most dangerous idea, he argued that "the seeming reasonableness of the project, particularly when considered in increments, is part of its danger." We might not all buy the fruits of transhumanism wholesale, but "it is very possible that we will nibble at biotechnology's tempting offerings without realising that they come at a frightful moral cost."

In his sophisticated and deeply researched book Our Posthuman Future, Fukuyama expands his case, arguing for caution on two main grounds. First, he believes the transhumanist ideal is a threat to equality of rights. Underlying the idea of universal human rights, he argues, is the belief in a universal human essence. The aim of transhumanism is to change that essence. What rights may superintelligent immortals claim for themselves? "What will happen to political rights once we are able to, in effect, breed some people with saddles on their backs, and others with boots and spurs?"

Fukuyama's second argument is based on what he calls the miraculous complexity of human beings. After hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, we cannot so easily be unpicked into good qualities and bad. "If we weren't violent and aggressive," he argues, "we wouldn't be able to defend ourselves; if we didn't have feelings of exclusivity, we wouldn't be loyal to those close to us; if we never felt jealousy, we would also never feel love."

Fukuyama's answer to the threat of transhumanism is straightforward: stringent regulation. Despite the current deregulatory mood in America, his views chime with those of the anti-abortion right, a core constituency of the Bush administration. When President George W. Bush first came to power, he set up his Council on Bioethics to, as he put it, "help people like me understand what the terms mean and how to come to grips with how medicine and science interface with the dignity of the issue of life and the dignity of life, and the notion that life is - you know, that there is a Creator".

Members of the president's Council on Bioethics, on which Fukuyama sits, are widely credited with crafting Bush's stem cell policy, which saw a ban on federal funding for research on new stem cell lines. This propelled the question of regulating biotechnology to the top of the political agenda. During the Democratic Party Convention last year, presidential candidate John Kerry mentioned stem cell research more often than unemployment.

Much of the transhumanist literature has been written in response to Fukuyama's book and the edicts of the president's Council. Permeating their work is the sense that technologically they are advancing steadily, but politically the bio-conservatives are holding the centre ground. They therefore oscillate between proselytising the good news that technology is soon to free us from the bonds of mortality and plaintively arguing for the right to use this technology as they see fit.

In Citizen Cyborg, James Hughes maps what he sees as these emerging parties in bio-politics and their relationship to the ideologies and isms of the 20th century. A transhumanist, he nonetheless believes it is possible to find a middle way between the libertarians who advocate a technological free-for-all and the bio-conservatives who want the lot banned. He places himself within the traditions of both liberal and social democracy, arguing that "transhumanist technologies can radically improve our quality of life, and that we have a fundamental right to use them to control our bodies and minds. But to ensure these benefits we need to democratically regulate these technologies and make them equally available in free societies."

Contrary to Fukuyama, Hughes does not believe that the biotech wonders of the transhumanist era will create new elites. He argues that they could even strengthen equality by empowering those who are currently downtrodden: "a lot of social inequality is built on a biological foundation and enhancement technology makes it possible to redress that."

But despite his support for some regulation of transhumanist inventions, Hughes, like Naam, is unrelentingly technophile. At times this becomes a naive utopianism, such as when he claims that "technology is about to make possible the elimination of pain and lives filled with unimaginable pleasure and contentment." He rightly argues that in Our Posthuman Future, Fukuyama "treats every hypothetically negative consequence from the use of technology with great gravity, while dismissing as hype all the possible benefits". Unfortunately, he does not always recognise when he is mirroring that very mistake.

The biotechnology revolution has caused Fukuyama to revise his contention that we have reached the end of history - history rolls on, but driven by scientists instead of kings. What all these writers have in common is the firm belief that the biotech era will shake up the old political allegiances and create new dividing lines. On one side will be those who believe such meddling unnatural and unwise. On the other, those who want to take the offerings of the biotech revolution and become something more than human. Won't you be tempted?

Comment: Only if you worship the material universe and are unable to perceive anything else to life other than physical self-aggrandisement.

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Death Could Be Averted By 'Downloaded Brains', British Futurologist Says
London (AFP) May 22, 2005

Death could become a thing of the past by the mid-21st century as computer technology becomes sophisticated enough for the contents of a brain to be "downloaded" onto a supercomputer, according to a leading British futurologist.

However, he told the Observer newspaper on Sunday, this technology might be expensive enough to remain the preserve of the rich for a decade or two more.

Among other eyebrow-raising predictions by Ian Pearson, head of the futurology unit at British telecommunications giant BT, is the prospect of computer systems being able to feel emotions.

This could eventually involve such things as aeroplanes being programmed to be even more terrified of crashing than their passengers, meaning they would do whatever possible to stay airborne.

While the predictions might sound outlandish, they were merely the product of extrapolations drawn from the current rate at which computers are evolving, Pearson said in an interview with the newspaper.

"If you draw the timelines, realistically by 2050 we would expect to be able to download your mind into a machine, so when you die it's not a major career problem," he said.

"If you're rich enough then by 2050 it's feasible. If you're poor you'll probably have to wait until 2075 or 2080 when it's routine.

"We are very serious about it. That's how fast this technology is moving: 45 years is a hell of a long time in IT."

As an example of the advances being made, Pearson noted that Sony's new PlayStation 3 computer games console is 35 times as powerful as the model it replaced, and in terms of processing is "one percent as powerful as a human brain".

In views which those of a religious persuasion might find hard to handle, Pearson said the next computing goal would be to replicate consciousness.

"Consciousness is just another sense, effectively, and that's what we're trying to design on a computer," he said.

"Not everyone agrees, but it's my conclusion that it's possible to make a conscious computer with superhuman levels of intelligence before 2020."

One of the "primary reasons" for such work would be to give computers emotions, Pearson said.

"If I'm on an aeroplane I want the computer to be more terrified of crashing than I am so it does everything to stay in the air until it's supposed to be on the ground."

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2 epidemics spreading among livestock and birds, China says
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Fri, May. 27, 2005

BEIJING - After stonewalling for weeks, China acknowledged Friday that two epidemics had spread among its animal and bird populations, renewing questions about its readiness to provide prompt information about infectious disease.

The belated announcement came amid fresh criticism that China's disease-surveillance system is inadequate to deal with an avian flu virus that scientists say may turn into a global pandemic among humans.

An outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease, which causes livestock to waste away, was detected in cattle in five regions of China, leading animal-health experts to slaughter 4,383 head, the nation's chief veterinarian, Jia Youling, said at a news conference.

Rumors had spread in rural areas about the outbreak as animal-health agents began culling cattle and spreading disinfectant along roads. But the matter was subject to a news blackout, and journalists were barred from affected regions. As recently as this week, officials said they knew nothing about a hoof-and-mouth contagion.

Jia defended the belated announcement about the epidemic among dairy and beef cattle.

"There is nothing strange about the delay of 20 days," Jia said. "It takes quite a while after discovering a disease to confirm it. ... We have controlled the epidemic."

Highly contagious hoof-and-mouth disease affects cloven-hoofed animals, such as pigs, cattle, sheep, goats and deer. It doesn't affect humans.

China came under fierce criticism in 2003 for its slow and secretive response to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which sprang up in southern Guangdong province and spread to 30 countries, killing more than 770 people, mostly in Asia. Since then, China has pledged to be more open about outbreaks of infectious disease.

In another announcement, Jia said avian flu had killed 1,000 migratory wild birds in the northwestern province of Qinghai, but that it hadn't spread to poultry or humans. The toll marked a fivefold increase from previous reports China had offered to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

Earlier this week, authorities dispatched experts to vaccinate 3 million chickens, ducks and other poultry in Qinghai, a sparsely populated province in the Himalayan steppes that's a migratory route for birds between Central Asia and India. Jia said the wild birds found dead include bar-headed geese, cormorants and great black-headed gulls.

An aggressive virus, avian flu has been plaguing poultry and wild birds in about a dozen countries in Asia over the past two years. While the virus hasn't yet mutated to allow human-to-human transmission, it's killed about 40 people who came in contact with poultry. Scientists say it's only a matter of time until a virulent new strain of the virus, known as H5N1, begins to spread among humans.

An international weekly science journal, Nature, devoted a special issue this week to the threat of a global avian-flu pandemic among humans. It criticized China's lack of transparency and preparedness to deal with avian flu.

"There is little doubt that China will be in deep trouble if the flu pandemic were to strike in the next few years. It has a moral obligation to its own people, and to the world, to rectify the situation as soon as possible," wrote a virologist, David Ho, of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Rockefeller University in New York City.

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Flu pandemic looms, experts warn world

Many millions will die if Southeast Asian bird virus mutates to lethal form, spreads
Sabin Russell, Chronicle Medical Writer
Thursday, May 26, 2005

A lineup of leading infectious disease experts warned Wednesday that the world is unprepared for the health and economic consequences of an outbreak of pandemic influenza that could spring from a lethal strain of bird flu now ravaging poultry flocks in Southeast Asia.

In commentaries published in the British science journal Nature, doctors used some of the strongest language yet to suggest that the bird flu virus known as H5N1 could mutate into a form easily transmitted among people, creating a strain capable of killing millions.

"This virus has the potential to trigger the next pandemic, which, judging from history, is well overdue," wrote Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md. "Clearly, there is much to be accomplished, and time is of the essence."

Flu pandemics are global outbreaks of virulent influenza caused by a viral strain so different from those of prior years that the human population has no natural resistance to it.

The 1918 Spanish flu was such a pandemic, and it killed an estimated 20 million to 100 million people around the globe. The H5N1 virus has worried flu experts since 1997, when it first appeared in the Hong Kong chicken markets as a lethal virus dubbed bird Ebola. After it infected 18 people, killing six of them, Chinese authorities ordered the slaughter of 1.5 million chickens, abruptly stopping the outbreak.

In December 2003, H5N1 re-emerged in Southeast Asia and has killed millions of birds and 53 people. Efforts to contain the virus by culling birds have failed. The virus is being spread by wild ducks, which carry the virus but don't die of it.

In an interview, Fauci said the purpose of the Nature commentaries is to draw more world attention to the problem. "The ingredients (for a pandemic) are starting to accumulate," he said. "This is a situation that might go away this season, but it's not going away forever."

Fauci said that federal spending on influenza preparedness has increased to $419 million from $40 million over the past five years but concedes he is not satisfied with the United States' current level of readiness. [...]

In another Nature commentary, famed virologist Dr. David Ho of New York's Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center argued that China needs to confront the emerging threat of bird flu openly. "The world, China included, must respond as if the next pandemic is imminent," he wrote. Ho estimated that up to 207,000 Americans could die in it. "What will the death toll be in China?" he asked.

Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, warned in his Nature paper of the economic consequences of a major pandemic.

"The world today is much more vulnerable to the collapse of trade than it was in 1918," he wrote. He dubbed the potential economic fallout "pandemic shock."

Osterholm wrote that an H5N1 pandemic strain could rival the devastation of the 1918 pandemic. Industrialized nations reliant on "just in time" delivery of health care goods do not have enough medical supplies to care for the sick. "Nor are there detailed plans on how to handle the dead bodies whose numbers will soon outstrip our ability to process them," he wrote.

Osterholm said the world's leading economic powers need to confront the problem directly at the forthcoming G8 meeting in Scotland. He calculates that, with the world population swelled to 6.5 billion, a flu strain as lethal as the one in 1918 could kill 180 million to 360 million people worldwide.

Also an expert in terrorism, Osterholm observed that there were ample warning signs that an event such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was possible. Those warnings were fully recognized only after the fact.

"People like myself are often seen as scaremongers," he said, "but I'm afraid we are doing this all over again."

Comment: It seems that the WHO is being prepared for the battle against the new "unstoppable diseases" that are being created:

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WHO gains new powers to tackle disease
By Frances Williams in Geneva
Financial Times
May 24 2005 03:00

The 192 members of the World Health Organisation yesterday approved international rules giving the WHO sweeping powers to tackle disease outbreaks and other health threats.

The WHO said the need for new international health regulations had been underlined by the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and the more recent bird flu epidemic in Asia. The current regulations, introduced half a century ago before the days of mass air travel and global mobility, cover only cholera, plague and yellow fever.

Comment: During the aftermath of the events of the September 11, 2001, Americans were shackled with some of the most draconian laws against freedom ever devised by the passing of laws known as "The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act" which says, in part:

"The public health authority may isolate or quarantine, pursuant to Section 604, any person whose refusal of medical examination or testing results in uncertainty regarding whether he or she has been exposed to or is infected with a contagious or possibly contagious disease or otherwise poses a danger to public health.

"To prevent the spread of contagious or possibly contagious disease the public health authority may isolate or quarantine, pursuant to Section 604, persons who are unable or unwilling for reasons of health, religion, or conscience to undergo vaccination pursuant to this Section"

This means that Bush signed an Executive Order authorizing quarantine for the United States when this deadly flu hits their country. No one will be able to enter or leave. And what happens to the people inside the borders of the U.S. after that is anybody's guess.

In short, the U.S. is being prepared as one giant Concentration Camp.

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First-Ever Seattle Heat Warning Issued
Associated Press
May 28, 2005

SEATTLE - Make that an iced coffee. While the Northeast was bidding farewell to unseasonable temperatures in the 40s, residents of the northwest corner of the nation dusted off the sunscreen and shorts Friday as the National Weather Service issued its first-ever heat advisory for Seattle.

The advisory covering the urban corridor from Tacoma north to Everett was prompted by a second day of record temperatures. Friday's high of 89 degrees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport broke a 33-year-old record for the date. Thursday's high - also 89 degrees - broke a 58-year-old record.

Phyllis Cameron, 92, planned to keep cool with lots of iced tea and a few gin-and-tonics. "I'm just going to enjoy it on the chaise on my deck," said the lifelong Seattle resident.

The weather service, however, was advising that people should drink lots of water, stay indoors and out of the sun, and check on relatives and neighbors.

The advice didn't seem to be taking. Winter-pale flesh was on display in the city's parks, and the streets were packed with people drinking iced coffee.

Seattle is among the cities added this year to the weather service's excessive heat program. A heat advisory means conditions could lead to heat stress in some people and a warning indicates a higher possibility that people will get sick or die.

The organizers of the annual Northwest Folklife music festival welcomed the heat, which boosted attendance for the normally slow first day. Concertgoers crowded into Seattle Center, enjoying the music, the sun and a giant fountain shooting cool water 120 feet into the air.

Last year it rained, said Rafael Maslan, 20, a festival board member.

Seattle-area temperatures were expected to cool over the weekend, and Weather Service meteorologist Dustin Guy said the heat advisory would not be renewed for Saturday.

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Climate change means learning to live with floods, tsunamis: experts
Fri May 27, 3:05 PM ET

NIJMEGEN, The Netherlands - Dikes and dams will not be enough to stop the deluge. With climate change, people will have to learn to live with floods and tidal waves, scientists at an international conference said.

"We have gone from the point of defending ourselves from flooding to managing floods and learning to live with them," said Eelco van Beek, who was among the 300 experts attending a conference in the Dutch city of Nijmegen.

During the past two years, more than 600 floods have been recorded in the world, causing the deaths of 19,000 people and damage valued at about 25 billion dollars (20 billion euros).

The figures do not include the deaths of some 273,000 people when a tsunami hit the countries bordering the Indian Ocean last December.

The conference in the Netherlands brought together scientists and humanitarian specialists to try to find ways of handling inundations, whether from the sea or rivers.

"It is time to say good-bye to the traditional approach of making ever higher dikes and ever stronger pumps," said Melanie Schultz van Haegen, the Dutch state secretary for water management.

A purely defensive strategy is "untenable, especially because of the difficulty of defending against the consequences of climate change," she said.

Pioneers in the fight to control water, the Netherlands now prefers to allow rivers to overflow into specific spill-over zones.

As for crises such as the Asian tsunami, the conference called for a global alert and prevention system, including the means to reach people who do not have access to mass communication such as the Internet or telephones.

In Africa, for example, transistors have been handed out to residents in certain areas at risk of flooding so they can get the alerts. The operation is set to be extended to southeast Asia.

"These systems can give an alert for all types of disasters because a tsunami does not hit just once in their lives," said Avinash Tigay, the Indian director for water management issues at the
World Meteorological Organization.

Comment: To see just how chaotic the planet is becoming, be sure to read our Climate and Earth Changes supplement.

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Earthquake jolts north Iran
Tehran, May 26, IRNA

An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale hit suburbs of the northern city of Astara in the Caspian Sea province of Gilan Thursday morning.

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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Underwater Volcano Found Near Samoa
Thu May 26 08:43:07 2005 Pacific Time

WOODS HOLE, Mass, May 26 (AScribe Newswire) -- An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Oregon and University of Sydney, has discovered an active underwater volcano near the Samoan Island chain about 2,400 miles southwest of Hawaii.

During a research cruise to study the Samoan hot spot, scientists uncovered a submarine volcano growing in the summit crater of another larger underwater volcano, Vailulu'u. Researchers explored the unique biological community surrounding the eruption site, and were amazed to find an "Eel City," a community of hundreds of eels.

This new volcano, dubbed Nafanua after the ferocious Samoan goddess of war, did not exist just fours years ago, according to co-chief scientists Stan Hart, a geochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) , and Hubert Staudigel, a geologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. With a growth rate averaging eight inches per day, the volcanic cone has rapidly formed since the scientists' last expedition to this area in May 2001. Nafanua now stands at 300 meters, or nearly 1,000 feet.

"To actually have a documented case of an underwater volcano that has been constructed within a known period of time is very rare--this is one of those cases," said Hart. Scientists were tipped off to the volcano's existence when they profiled the seafloor of the Vailulu'u crater using multi-beam mapping. Existing maps of the seafloor in the area gave little indication that this volcano existed. When sound beams were directed into the crater this time, they measured an unusually shallow depth. These interesting results prompted further investigation of the area using the manned submersible Pisces V--a seven-foot sphere that can to dive to more than 6,000 feet, operated by NOAA's Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory.

The water surrounding the volcanic cone is extremely turbid due to hydrothermal activity and the vigorous vents that produce this volcanic "fog" are obscured, according to Staudigel. Although visibility from the submersible was less than 10 feet, the researchers were able to observe the unique biological community surrounding the newly formed volcanic cone. Much of Nafanua is covered with yellow "fluff," microbial aggregations that are produced by microscopic life feeding on chemical energy from the volcano's hydrothermal system. ---As this international team explored the area, they discovered a number of large communities of eels inhabiting the fragile cavernous rock pillars surrounding the hydrothermal vent area. As the submarine landed near this area, scores of eels, each approximately one foot long, emerged from the rock caves and crevices. The scientists named this novel marine hydrothermal community "Eel City."

"At this point we do not know why we found such extensive eel communities surrounding this volcano--it's a mystery that we hope to learn more about on future cruises," Staudigel said.

Within decades, continued growth of Nafanua could bring the summit of this volcano from its current depth of 600 meters to a depth of approximately 200 meters--close enough to the sea surface that it could provide a potential hazard to ocean navigation and coastal communities. Such hazards may include the explosive reaction between red-hot lava and seawater, or tsunamis that may be caused by the collapse of the newly built volcano.

"It is a good idea for us to keep our eyes on this area, but there is no real reason for concern about immediate danger," said Hart.

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Earthquake pushes up cluster of 10 new islands near Sumatra
The Asahi Shimbun

The March earthquake that struck near Nias island off Sumatra was so powerful that it created about 10 new islands, Japan's Geographical Survey Institute said.

Researchers, led by Mikio Tobita, spotted the new islets on images taken by the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite, GSI officials said earlier this month.

The March 28 temblor had a magnitude of 8.7, but unlike the Dec. 26 quake off Sumatra, it did not trigger killer tsunami.

GSI researchers said they compared images taken in February with those from April. They found the seabed near the northwestern coast of Nias island upheaved about 2 meters due to crustal movements caused by the quake.

This created about 10 new islands ranging in length from 100 meters to 1.5 kilometers, they said.

The quake also pushed the northwestern coastline out to sea by up to 1 km, they said.(IHT/Asahi: May 28,2005)

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Two moderate quakes jolt Iranian cities
Friday, May 27, 2005 - ©2005

LONDON, May 27 (IranMania) - Two moderate earthquakes jolted cities in Iran's northeastern and southeastern provinces on Friday but have left no reported damage or casualties, IRNA reported.

An earthquake measuring 4.1 degrees on the Richter scale hit the city of Raz in the northeastern province of North Khorasan on Turkmenistan border early Friday.

According to the seismological base of the Geophysics Institute of Tehran University, the tremor occurred at 00:22 hours local time (0752 GMT on Thursday).

The quake was felt in an area at Raz outskirts, located in 38.06 degree latitude and 57.70 degree longitude.

Meanwhile, an earthquake measuring 3.7 degrees on the Richter scale jolted the city of Zarand in the southeastern province of Kerman early on Friday.

The seismological center of the Geophysics Institute registered the tremor at 00:05 hours local time (0735 GMT on Thursday) at Zarand's outskirts.

There are no reports of damage to property caused by the quakes, the report added.

Zarand was hit by a strong 6.6 magnitude earthquake on February 22, 2005, which claimed over 600 lives and leveled some 20 villages.

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

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Some of Bulgaria's flood-hit areas declare emergency 2005-05-28 20:03:13

SOFIA, May 28 (Xinhuanet) -- Heavy rains have swept across Bulgaria over the past days, with some areas of the hardest-hit central-east part having declared emergency, Bulgarian media reported Saturday.

Torrential rains began to slam Bulgaria on Wednesday, with the rainfall in some areas of the central-east part hitting a 30-year high.

The heavy rains caused mountain torrents in central Lovenchi, swamped 10 villages, cut off power and displaced 500 families in Osem and Vit, and cut road links north Ruse.

In southeast Smolian, egg-size hailstones destroyed large areasof crops and damaged many houses.

The towns of Ruse and Lovechi have declared emergency due to the usual rainfall. Relief supplies are being sent to the flood-hit areas.

Bulgarian meteorological bureaus have urged more flood-pretection measures, saying the rainfall would continue for several days.

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