Tuesday, June 07, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
Signs Logo
Printer Friendly Version
Fixed link to latest Page


P I C T U R E   O F   T H E   D A Y

Altocumulus the evening of 25 May 2005
© 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Arrogant Nation
Saturday 4th June 2005,
by Doug Soderstrom

THE arrogance of ignorance, a profoundly dangerous and ill-informed presumption that one's own people are better (wiser, morally and spiritually ascendant, and more capable) than others, seems rather well entrenched within the American populace. It is such that seems to have created a social-political environment that continues to encourage the American effort to build a World Empire. All of the elements are there, in fact, it seems that at this very moment, at the very dawn of the third millennium, the foundation has been laid. The people have been primed, the leadership (The Bush-Cheney Administration) is in place, and The Great American War Machine is ready to take action.

But how did things get to such a point? What was it that allowed our country to have become so arrogant? Was it our taming of The West? Was it our near annihilation of The American Indian, the original inhabitants of this country? Was it our ability to have been so successful in an enslavement of The African American people? Was it our capacity to have economically ravaged Central America and The Caribbean? Was it our capacity for technological development? How about our having bombed Viet Nam and Cambodia into near stone-age oblivion? Then there was our war with Iraq in 1991, and the fact that we were able to kill 350 Iraqis for every American soldier who died. And what about our ability to have been so good at polluting the earth's atmosphere setting the stage for a rather tragic warming of the world? Or the fact that four percent of the world's population has been so successfully able to have consumed 35% of the world's wealth? And what about the fact that we, no doubt, have the greatest military force in the history of the world, one that could destroy the entirety of the human race several times over? And what about our willingness to have thumbed our noses at nearly every institutional effort to resolve some of the world's most grave problems (The World Court, The Kyoto Treaty on Climate Change, The Anti-Ballistic Treaty with Russia, The 2001 UN Conference on Racism, as well as other international attempts to resolve pending world problems). And finally, we can bask in the glory of having been so successful in bringing peace, prosperity and security to a democratic Iraq!

So given "such a fine history"........ what is it about The American Citizen, on the eve of another Bush-Cheney four-year administrative reign, that qualifies him to be a candidate for such a grand design? What is it that seems to have paved the way toward empire? What is it about our own people that have made them so absolutely vulnerable, so inordinately willing to be led down the primrose path of a mad dash toward the building of a worldwide empire?

I would like to suggest that there are eight factors that have moved the American public to such a point. The first of which is an inclination toward ethnocentrism. Americans seem to be wracked with ethnocentric bias, a rather pride-filled tendency to reject anything that is not American, an attitude that leads our people to evaluate that which is American as better than that which is not of American origin. For example, it is common for Americans to believe that capitalism, the free enterprise system, is inherently better (more God-inspired) than any other economic arrangement, especially that of socialism which is, by many, considered to be evil and perhaps even devil-inspired. Also rather endemic is the presumption that Christianity is the one and only "right religion," the only theological system that will enable an adherent to enter "the pearly gates" of Heaven, condemning all other religions to the category of false faiths that necessarily lead to Hell. And, of course, given our country's current 9/11-oriented fear of another attack by "the terrorists," the converse of such a proposition is a resolute hatred of The Moslem Faith as well as those of The Middle East who tend to follow its precepts. Representatives of the conservative-fundamentalist Christian community such as Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have pretty well summed up these folks feelings.

A second factor that seems to have created conditions conducive to "the empire-rization" of our country is the undeniability of how we, as a nation, have apparently normalized the fact of violence, how we have essentially created a "culture of violence" as a more or less accepted way of life in America. I suggest that hidden within the American Mind is a rather peculiar attachment or, perhaps one could say, a kind of fondness for that of violence..... almost to the point that anyone who objects to the use of violence may be considered as either weak, impractical, Un-American, or perhaps even un-Godly. Such a willingness to conveniently disregard, or perhaps even to deny, what used to be the quintessential fact of the Christian faith (that we should not do unto others that which we would not have them do unto us) seems rather commonplace in "such a religious country" as that of America. As evidence for the normalization of (and likely the desensitization towards) violence in our country I offer the following: The fact that The United States is the only developed country in the world that allows the use of capital punishment, and especially that of a willingness to execute children under 18 years of age (sometimes as young as 14 years of age), a willingness to use physical punishment (spanking) as a fundamental aspect of parental discipline, our country's unwillingness to ban the use of handguns, the legalization of corporate practices that destroy the environment, the bastardization of the democratic nature of our union by allowing those with money to buy off those in the federal government, a general glamorization of violence in the media, the historical use of violence against minority groups (i.e. Native Indian Americans, Afro-Americans, women, homosexuals etc.), the increasing use of litigation as a form of violence, the legitimized use of violence in the advertising industry......... the tobacco company's efforts to advertise their products to children (in order to replace those they have already killed) along with a willingness to allow themselves to be used as a way of destroying political careers, the acceptance of violence as an essential aspect of the video game industry, an historical unwillingness for schools to deal with the problem of bullying, the belief that war is an acceptable way to deal with international conflict, a general feeling that protest against war (standing up for peace) is an Un-American activity, the tendency to euphemize the killing of innocent civilians (parents, children, and friends) by referring to them as "collateral damage," a rather confabulated attempt to condone impersonalized violence (killing people from afar...... as when people are slaughtered by missiles having been shot from hundreds of miles away), a rather fatuous belief that "might is right" (i.e. a belief that God has the "almighty right" to send anyone He wants to Hell, The Protestant Ethic's "damning" of those who are poor, an extraordinary belief that our country along with its military power has been blessed by God), and a tendency for "the conservative-fundamentalist Christian community" to condone violence as an essential religious value (as found in The Old Testament of The Holy Bible). Again the list could go on but I think the point has been made.

Third, there seems to be a rather troubling tradition of spiritual duplicity, a feigned sense of religious piety that has taken hold of The American People. An appalling capacity for Americans to disregard the plight of others, an absence of compassion (empathic concern) for those less fortunate than ourselves, an essential unwillingness for the American people to put themselves into the place of others who, by any objective standard, have faired far less well than those in our own nation. Based upon conversations in my classroom as well as with others "on the street," it appears to me that Americans are severely limited in their capacity "to place themselves into the shoes of others." For those of you who are older think about how most Americans felt when they discovered that nearly a quarter of a million Japanese (nearly all of them civilians) died as a result of our country having dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What were their feelings in regards to our firebombing of Tokyo in which 100,000 Japanese civilians died, or our incendiary bombing of Dresden, Germany in which nearly 300,000 German civilians were torched? And then more recently, how many of you have run into friends who have anguished over the nearly one million Iraqis (at least 500,000 of whom were children) who died as a result of our twelve-year economic embargo of Iraq, or the nearly 15,000 Iraqi civilians who have been killed as a result of our recent invasion of Iraq? Not to belittle the tragedy of nearly 3,000 Americans having lost their lives on 9/11, but how is it possible that our own people (many of whom refer to themselves as Christian) have such a deep concern for "those of their own kind" while simultaneously exhibiting such a pittance of empathic concern for the many more who have died at the hands of our own comrades? Unfortunately, such seems to be a rather moot point for the Christian community!

A fourth factor that has caused so many Americans to bask in the arrogance of their own ignorance is a relatively profound lack of knowledge in regards to world history. It is rather alarming how very little Americans seem to know about the history of our involvement in The Middle East. Based upon conversations with folks in my own community, it has become glaringly apparent that very few adults understand what it is that The United States could have done to cause their counterparts, those living in The Middle East, to have become so upset. I suppose that it has not occurred to many of these folks that The United States, over the past half century (ever since the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1947), has, along with Israel, a long track record of disregarding the rights of The Palestinian People, forcing them to live in a perpetual state of incarcerated poverty, that America has conspired to set up several "puppet governments" in The Middle East, that America has a history of supporting despotic Middle Eastern regimes, or that our country's involvement in the production of Middle East oil has lead to the impoverishment of millions of Middle Eastern citizens. Again the list could go on.

The fifth ingredient has to do with PNAC (The Project for the New American Century) that was established in 1997. Its purpose was to create a plan that would guide The United States of America into the 21st century in a manner that would benefit the interests and needs of our country in relation to, or perhaps even at the expense of, those of the rest of the world. According to PNAC's basic principals found on its official website it is stated that, "we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles. To be sure it was a neo-conservative plan as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz. Jeb Bush, Daniel Pearl, among others were signatories of PNAC. The document clearly states that the United States not only has the right to militarily dominate the world, but even more perilously suggests that our nation has a moral responsibility to do such a thing, reasoning that what is best for our country is quite obviously best for the remainder of the world. To say the least, such sounds amazingly ethnocentric if not downright evil!

A sixth factor that seems to have prepared the way toward empire is the infamous, 9/11 (September 11, 2001) attack upon New York City and Washington D.C. At such a point in time the American public was pretty much absorbed in a domestic struggle as to what to do about a failing economy. But then came 9/11, and everything changed! The precipitous economic downturn was causing a great deal of fear and anxiety. However, after that fateful day in September, panic began to take hold. If the stock market decline was "a left hook to the stomach," then 9/11 was, no doubt, the equivalent of having received "an absolutely crushing blow to the head" as this is the first time that the American People have been "brought to their knees" since the December 7, 1941 affair in Pearl Harbor. The result: A profound sense of insecurity that has seemingly swept the American mind. Consequently, the American public is being pressed to decide if they have the inner strength, essentially the moral courage, to move on, or are they going to allow themselves to wallow in pity? Are they going to allow themselves to become so terribly vulnerable, so distressingly dependent, so unashamedly weak that they will demand a leader (a strong man), someone to whom they can turn, someone they can trust to save them from ruin?

Seventh, the 9/11 event has seemingly moved our country into a time of great national peril, a time of immense fear, a fear of the death of much that we value; a fear that our economy is no longer under control (especially our country's ability to control the lifeblood of our economy.... the flow of oil), a fear that we, as a country, are not as safe nor as strong as we once thought, that we are no longer in control of world events that could well plunge our country into another world war, a fear that we may have reached the end of an era....... an inability to maintain our present standard of living, à la The American Dream, and the never ending hope for a better, more stable, world. All said, as a result of 9/11, The American Mind has a received a severe blow, one that, unless we are able to find our bearings, able to "get back on our feet," may have left us open to be manipulated by those who would very much like to use our insecurity as a launching pad to create a sense of safety that an American empire would seem to provide. Many have indicated that the need to be free is the driving force behind humanity. But I disagree. The one thing that no doubt trumps the desire for individual freedom is survival, the desire for just one more breath, the need to stay alive. As occurred in Germany in the years leading up to the beginning of World War II, the people were more than willing to shed their civil rights in exchange for a promise that they would be well taken care of by "their savior," Adolph Hitler. A question for thought: Could something such as this be occurring in the United States?

The concluding factor that seems to be moving our country toward empire is an apparent need for someone who might be able to save us from destruction. In the 1930's "that someone" was Adolph Hitler. However, in the year 2004, I believe "such people" to be George W. Bush and his neo-conservative companions. But why would I say such a thing? Well, in the 1930's, the German people were looking for (perhaps even begging for) someone who would be able to "save them" from disaster? It is my opinion that The United States, because of an insecurity-driven sense of fear, has allowed itself to be propelled into a rather similar situation in that of today's world. In attempting to link himself with that of the conservative-fundamentalist-evangelical Christian community, in wanting to convince these people that he is a true man of God, this community has come to accept George W. Bush as "their man," the one God has pre-ordained to lead them through "this time of great trial," the times leading up to Armageddon and the eventual return of Christ (The Rapture of The Church). Such has created conditions conducive to the rise of a neo-conservative power structure (exemplified by folks like George Bush, Carl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and others) that seems to be using the federal government as a means to a rather precarious end....... that of wanting to take possession of the American Mind, to be able to control The American People, in order that they might be used as pawns in their march toward world power.

It is the same group of despots who very methodically laid plans for that of The Homeland Security Act, Patriot Act I, Patriot Act II, and the once infamous Total Information Awareness Program...... all in order to protect us, The American People, from being destroyed by our enemies. However, what most do not realize is that the enacting of such legislation has lead to the destruction of many of our hard earned constitutional rights such as the government's right to: monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity; to secretly detain people without charges; prosecute librarians as well as others who keep records for having informed someone that their records had been checked by the federal government; monitor federal prison conversations between attorneys and their clients; deny Americans accused of crimes the right to retain a lawyer; search and even seize citizen documents without probable cause; jail an American citizen for an indefinite period of time while simultaneously denying him the right to have a trial; and to jail a citizen of this country, without the right to confront his accuser, even though he has not been officially charged with a crime (ReclaimDemocracy.org). At this point it seems pertinent to ask; who is the enemy......... "the terrorists" or the federal government itself?

Rather than having created a need to protect ourselves from such governmental intrusion, it seems that our response has been one of mindless complacency, an almost "do whatever you want to do" attitude. Such seems reminiscent of the people's response to Adolph Hitler's seductive invitation to the German People, "Give me your minds, and, in return, I will take care of you, I will make you safe." So this is the question that we, as a people, must be prepared to ask ourselves: Are we willing to lay aside the fact of our hard-earned constitutional rights, the fact of our freedom, the fact of our integrity, even more, the fact of a moral responsibility to think and decide for ourselves.......... or would it be better to settle for the pittance of a rather hollow Bush-Cheney promise that "the government" will take care of us, that they, just like some kind of gods, will protect us from being destroyed by our enemies......... A question not to be taken lightly!

So what does the foregoing mean? What does it mean that we have become so ethnocentrically arrogant, so open to the use of violence, so religiously crippled, so pervasively ignorant of our impact upon the world, so terribly frightened and insecure? Such I believe means that we, as a people, have allowed ourselves to have been set up, to have become rather ripe for the picking, to have become very ready and extremely well-prepared to be led by those in power (The Bush-Cheney Administration) into a jack-booted, goose-stepped march toward world empire, a determined attempt by our own country to dominate and to eventually rule the world.

But how could such a thing have happened? Much like the proverbial ostrich that stuck its head into the sand in order not to contend with reality, the American populace seems to have done much the same. Given such an arrogant ethnocentric orientation, we have come to believe that we are somehow superior to those of other nations. Through generations of conquest and appropriation we have been led to believe that our own understanding of world history, our interpretation of world events, our own rendering of our country's involvement in The Middle East is The Truth, the one, and only, correct explanation of what has occurred. And just imagine...... all of this in light of a rather profound degree of ignorance regarding what has really gone on in relation to our country's continued interference in Middle Eastern affairs. Given such an incredibly outrageous belief in our superiority, mired as it is in a sea of historical ignorance, it is no wonder that we, as a people, have become a living example of "the arrogance of ignorance." [...]

If I have learned anything it is the fact that "pride always cometh before the fall." It happened in Greece and then again in Rome. The consequences were similar for that of the French Empire as well as that of England. Then there was Hitler's Germany and that of the Russian Empire. Eventually, everyone of these nations, each one an aspiring empire, wanting to rule the world, folded like a house of cards giving way to the enormous weight of the ignorance of its own rather arrogant pride.

Consequently, I think that it is incumbent that we, as a people, ask ourselves if we might not be moving in such a direction, if we might not be moving in a direction similar to that of other nations that aspired toward that of world empire. Considering the pronouncements in PNAC that clearly indicate our country's desire to become the world's next great empire along with that of The President's policy of military preemption, a declared willingness to preemptively destroy anyone who is willing to challenge our authority to rule the world, the answer should be clear.

I suggest that there is only one thing that stands between what seems to be a rather mind-numbingly subservient willingness to surrender our civil rights to those in power, only one thing that could clear the way for an unimpeded grab for power, an outright takeover of our country by the neo-conservative power structure, and that is.............. a cataclysmic event such as a major chemical and/or nuclear attack by "the terrorists." Such, I believe, would be sufficient to frighten, sufficient to create the insecurity necessary for the masses to relinquish their right, even worse their moral responsibility, to run the country. Such a crisis might perhaps be enough for the people of our country to go on ahead and give "the green light" to the neo-conservative power structure to extend their efforts to establish a world empire....... and, of course, to do such a thing all in order to protect us from our enemies! However, there is little doubt that such a move would destabilize and thus inflame the world to the point that war, perhaps even an all out nuclear war, would become an inevitability!

I suggest that we, as Americans, had better think about such matters before it is too late. Think about what the world might perhaps be like if we abnegate our personal as well as collective responsibility to think and choose for ourselves by allowing "those in power" to do the thinking and choosing for us. We must remember that "those people in Washington" are not Gods, rather they are fallible human beings just like you and me...... people who, if we allow the arrogance of their ignorance to take charge we may well be led into the vast abyss of a third world war. We, as a citizenry, have a morally bound duty to demand that those who we have given the power to rule in our stead do so in a way that might serve the best interests of humanity, rather than the mere interests of any disparate nation or that of a conglomerate of multinational corporations. It is time that we, as citizens, stand up and take charge of our nation and do so in a manner that might enable our country to become a harbinger of peace, love, and justice; a beacon of light, an example for the rest of the world to follow.

Click here to comment on this article

How the Mighty Are Falling
By Jason Miller

Mom, apple pie and malevolent leaders

Somebody tell Karl Rove to drop the applause sign. The minions he manipulates are cheering for an America that does not exist. That abstract concept of America, and its embodiment of liberties and human rights, is a fiction. Norman Rockwell's portrayal of America was an idealistic perversion of a landscape, which for many, has been littered with oppression, bigotry, greed, torture and even murder. Goya's brutal painting "Duel with Cudgels" comes closer to capturing the essence of the underlying mean-spiritedness of that is very much a component of this nation. Bush, his Neocons, and the obscenely wealthy Oligarchs, who finance Republicans and Democrats alike, embody the face of America which is seldom portrayed by our flag-waving mainstream media. Yes, there is a dark, brutish aspect to this self-proclaimed beacon of freedom and liberty, and I am going to delve into it. Read on if you dare to take an introspective look at the darker aspects of our national identity.

Evil heritage

As early as 1661, American colonists began engaging in the slave trade. With the advent of the birth of our nation in the late 18th Century, even our hallowed Constitution legally endorsed the evil institution of slavery. Abolitionists who rose to oppose slavery, like John Brown, were executed as terrorists. Even an incredibly bloody Civil War and three Amendments to the Constitution were not enough to end American oppression of the black race. The specter of Jim Crow arose in the south in the 1890's. Its power did not dwindle until courageous leaders like Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King, Jr. arose in the mid Twentieth Century. Their tireless efforts forced the federal government to enforce human rights for the black race. Fear of the growing power of a minority led to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., a peaceful proponent of civil rights. One can make a strong case that the US government facilitated the assassination to stem the spread of King's "radical ideas". In today's America, racism hides behind a veil of "political correctness", and those who practice bigotry do so covertly, in a cowardly attempt to avoid legal consequences.

The Native Americans have not fared so well in America either, at least not since the Western Europeans invaded their continent. In 1830, the US Congress passed the "Indian Removal Act". This measure eventually enabled the federal government to resolve the problem of a growing population in the state of Georgia by moving the Cherokee Nation to the state of Oklahoma. In 1838, on the forced 1,000 mile march, 4,000 Cherokee men, women and children died in what is now known as "The Trail of Tears".

Tecumseh, a Shawnee leader who organized opposition to forced Native American colonization, showed his insight into the ugly aspect of America when he spoke to the Osage tribe in 1812. In his speech, he said, "Brothers, the white people are like poisonous serpents: when chilled, they are feeble and harmless; but invigorate them with warmth, and they sting their benefactors to death."

Thanks to Howard Zinn in Voices of a People's History of the United States for uncovering a telling quote from the Saturday Pioneer, a newspaper in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Ironically, L. Frank Baum, who also wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (an "American literary classic"), was the paper's editor in 1890, when the quote appeared. Shortly after the massacre at Wounded Knee, and the subsequent murder of Sitting Bull, Baum's paper wrote, "The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent....and the best safety of the frontier settlers will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians." The Saturday Pioneer had just defined the concept of "Manifest Destiny", the belief that America had the divine right and destiny to expand its borders across the North American continent and beyond.

We take what we want

Driven by a psychotic hubris, our leaders were convinced that America had the right and the duty to "civilize" the rest of our continent with our "superior" Democratic and Protestant ideals. Sound familiar? America began unleashing its imperialistic impulses on sovereign nations in 1846. President James Polk annexed Texas, and sent American troops to help this future state gain its independence from Mexico. Two years and 38,000 dead combatants later, America brought Mexico to its knees, and proudly included Texas, New Mexico, and California in its borders. Robbing the Native Americans of their land was not enough to satiate the appetites of our imperialist leaders for "White" conquest.

William McKinley came to office in 1896 to preside over a country that still had a ravenous appetite for expansion. Under McKinley, the US waged war against Spain in Cuba. America drove the Spaniards out, leaving a power vacuum that was quickly filled by greedy US corporations. 500,000 Filipinos were killed as America wrested the Philippine Islands away from Spain. Our government justified their deaths by proclaiming that the American victory would enable the US to civilize the savages in the Philippines. McKinley also arranged for the annexation of Hawaii and Puerto Rico during his unprecedented advance of the cause of Manifest Destiny.

The price of avarice

In the early Twentieth Century, Upton Sinclair and his fellow muckrakers cast bright lights into the shadowy corners of corporate America. There they exposed ruthless, avarice-driven exploitation and victimization of American workers and consumers. Sinclair's expose' of the corrupt and dangerous practices of the meat-packing industry, The Jungle, led to the passage of The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Prior to the efforts of Populists and Socialists like Sinclair, America's system of unbridled capitalism, enabled by laisez-faire economic policy by the federal government, allowed ruthless corporations to treat their workers like cattle. Greedy profiteers were also able to market their products to consumers with virtual disregard for quality and safety. Millions of Americans sustained injuries, worked in perilous, inhuman conditions, received grossly inadequate wages, or died as a result of corporate lust for profits. During the so-called Gilded Age, corporations reigned with an appalling disregard for humanity. However, pressure from muckrakers, Socialists, unions, and Populists eventually curtailed the power of the Oligarchs.

All is fair in love and war.....

Woodrow Wilson continued to justify American imperialism under his foreign policy of Wilsonian Democracy. Refining the notion of Manifest Destiny, Wilson asserted the necessity of America to employ any means necessary, including force, to install democracies in nations around the world. In large part, his doctrine rested on Kant's notion that democracies are less likely to be war-like than dictatorships or monarchies. Wilsonian Democracy propelled the US into World War I. How ironic that America, the self-proclaimed model for democracy, engaged in yet another war. Is this an indication that Kant's notion was inaccurate, or can one conclude that the US is not truly as democratic as the state-sponsored propaganda would have the masses believe? During the war, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, and other war protestors who violated the Sedition Act sacrificed their freedom for exercising their First Amendment rights. As they sat in prison for standing up to our imperialist leaders, over 100,000 Americans died in the "war to end all wars". Our government employed flag-waving propaganda and mandatory conscription to thrust millions of young men into the horror of war, yet those who protested in the "land of the free" were imprisoned.

Ask the Japanese citizens during World War II for their perspective on the "American Dream". After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the federal government employed curfews as a means to marshal control of the "enemy within". Bowing to pressure from business interests who wanted to eliminate Japanese-American competitors, the US government eventually made the decision to move 110,000 people of Japanese descent into ten relocation centers throughout the United States. Stripped of their homes, businesses, and possessions, they were interned behind barbed wire for over two years. Their alleged crime was disloyalty to America. Over 2/3 of them were American citizens born on American soil. Disgracefully, our government imprisoned them without a trial and without charging them with a crime. Guantanamo Bay is not without precedent. It is frightening that in a "free nation" like the United States that such a history could repeat itself without widespread public outcry.

Appetite for destruction

American leadership is still drunk with power, arrogance, and an insatiable appetite for the accumulation of wealth. Based on a statement of principles drafted in 1997, and a think-tank created to formulate ways to implement the principles, The Project for the New American Century paved the way for George Bush and his pack of Neocons to launch the unprovoked and unsubstantiated invasion of Iraq. Several of the war hungry Neocons, like Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney, signed the statement of principles. The events of 9/11 gave them the rationale they needed to initiate their aggression. Their imperial intentions are clearly outlined here. Their concluding paragraph states:

"Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.

What is perhaps equally disturbing is that a vast majority of the Democrats have made little tangible effort to challenge the illegal actions of Bush and the Neocons, making them complicit partners. Short of a few exceptions, like Bill Moyers, the mainstream media has forsaken their duty as the Fourth Estate. Rather than informing the American people of the truth about our corrupt and malevolent government, they bow to the pressure of their corporate masters and feed us versions of the truth that withhold details and present criminal act by our government in a benign manner. A British Member of Parliament recently showed the guts to openly challenge several of our venal Senators. When will our own elected representatives and members of the press show that kind of spine? Perchance most of them have simply sold out and become party to the "Dark Side" of our national identity.

The Bush administration has demonstrated its commitment to making the Twenty First Century the "American Century". However, the reality is that the invasion of a small country like Iraq has stretched our military to its limits. After two years of US military occupation, Iraq is still in a state of chaos, and many Iraqis want our military to withdraw. The sun is setting on the "American Empire" as Bush and his people desperately struggle to fan the dying embers and rekindle the flames. There are multiple countries with nuclear capabilities. China wields a great deal of economic power over the United States as it continues to parlay its colossal trade surplus into an opportunity to finance a large portion of the US debt. Terrorist acts, over-dependence on credit, and weaker nations with nuclear capabilities are proving to be the David to our Goliath. Redefining the term "debtor nation" with a $7.5 trillion national debt, America is bleeding red ink. The failing effort in Iraq is costing billions of dollars that this country does not have. America's dominance is rapidly diminishing.

Bush has launched a war with no end in sight against the "evil terrorists", an elusive, shadow target which cannot be definitively beaten. Perpetual fear and hatred of the "terrorists" motivate many Americans to support a seemingly endless war, and enable Karl Rove to manipulate the masses. The Neocons are free to pursue their policy of military proliferation of American interests to their hearts' content. However, the waning strength of this nation, coupled with the rising strength of nations like China, make this model unsustainable. Americans have been duped into following a ruinous course.

Hypocrisy and hubris....when do they end?

In 1997, with the advent of The Project for the New American Century, America laid out a publicly available plan for global domination. Historically, Americans have pursued a policy of aggressive global expansionism under the guise of altruism, the "right of manifest destiny", or under the pretext of protecting its regional interests. The United States flaunts its lofty Constitution and Bill of Rights, yet with each passing day continues to deny basic civil rights to homosexuals (5% of the US population). It defies the UN and Geneva Convention with alarming regularity. Americans earn an annual per capita income of $34,000.00 compared to the world per capita of $7,000.00. We consume 25% of the world's fossil fuels while 2 billion people in the world have no access to electricity. In 2000, the Bush regime installed itself to rule our Executive branch by manipulating the voting process. Had Jeb Bush not been the governor of Florida, Al Gore would be our president. Grossly abusing their ill-gotten power, Bush and his Neocons have engaged in a consistent pattern of false propaganda to manipulate public opinion. Their unilateral decision-making almost never shows regard for relationships with allies or the United Nations. Bush has consistently rewarded incompetents, war criminals, and deceitful individuals with promotions in his regime. America has some serious house-cleaning to do before we forcefully export our value systems to our neighbors.

In the spirit of advancing the cause of Protestant superiority, our Senate is now considering a bill heavily promoted by America's own religious radicals, the Religious Right. The Constitution Restoration Act would, for the purposes of judicial review, recognize "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government." And Bush really expects critical thinking people to swallow his Newspeak about "spreading freedom and liberty" around the world? With the virtually silent consent of the Democratic minority in Congress, Bush and the Neocons continue to pursue an evolved version of Manifest Destiny as they attempt to brutally force America's "Christian" and "Democratic" ways upon the American people, and upon the rest of the world.

Sweet little lies.... and crimes against humanity

Why were Americans surprised at the attack of 9/11? The Neocons have convinced many Americans that our nation was an innocent victim of attacks of "evil terrorists". How naive can a person be? America, in its supreme arrogance and imperialistic endeavors, has been enraging people in foreign nations for years. If the terrorists did actually carry out these attacks autonomously, America was far from innocent. Was it tragic? Yes. Do the perpetrators deserve to be punished severely? Yes. However, America has been provoking people and nations for many years. Those who died in the World Trade Center that day were certainly innocent victims, but America as a nation was not.

In saying "if the terrorists did actually carry out" 9/11, I intentionally left the culpability ambiguous. While there is little doubt that Bush, the Neocons, and other members of the obscenely wealthy Oligarchy knew that the strikes were going to occur and chose to allow them to happen, there is also compelling evidence that they actually orchestrated and perpetrated 9/11. David Ray Griffin advances that theory with clarity in 9/11 and the American Empire. The deaths of 3,000 American civilians in an attack that appeared to be carried out by terrorist representatives of the Middle East (with its coveted oil reserves) provided the Neocons and Oligarchs with a golden opportunity to mobilize the American people to engage in the invasion of Iraq, yet another scapegoat in this sick scenario. Given much of the world's justifiable hatred of America, it is unlikely that the terrorists needed much prompting by our leadership to carry out the attacks. Careful scrutiny of the evidence presented by Griffin, including the actions of our government before and after the strike, the nature of the strike on the Pentagon, and the collapse of the WTC towers, lends significant credibility to the idea that the Neocons and the Oligarchs were directly involved in the perpetration of the WTC tragedy.

Whether one believes the terrorists acted autonomously, or that the Neocons and Oligarchs sponsored the attacks, Bush, the Neocons and our other Oligarch leaders bear the responsibility for the deaths of the 3,000 Americans in the World Trade Center. Foreknowledge of the attacks and subsequent failure to defend our nation are crimes against the American people. Direct responsibility for the attacks represents an even more substantial crime. Both are grounds for impeachment, removal from office, and criminal prosecution.

Hope on the horizon

I still believe in the inherent decency of many of the people in the United States. Our Constitution is an unparalleled contract between citizens and government upon which to build a republic that fosters individual rights and freedom. A capitalistic economic system which includes government restraints and social welfare programs for the poor has proven to be beneficial to a majority of the American population in the past. Despite the ugly stains on our history, Americans made great evolutionary strides in the 20th Century toward realizing our tremendous potential for economic and social justice. However, under the Neocons, the Religious Right, and the Oligarchs, much of that progress is eroding. America is a nation comprised of millions of people and dynamics, and to expect it to live up to the idealized notions of truth, justice, and the American way would be unrealistic. Yet, the fact that the ideal is unattainable does not give us license to abandon the principles of our Constitution to the extent that we have. Americans have a choice. If enough people are willing to take an introspective look into the soul of our nation, and into our own souls, it is not too late to peaceably end the reign of the corrupt and restore America to a place of sanity, and dignity. People of conscience and critical thought need to stand up and say "enough" to the Oligarchs and Neocons. Together we can reclaim our nation and make it a true beacon of liberty!

Jason Miller is a 38 year old free-lance activist writer with a degree in liberal arts. He is a husband and a father to three boys. He earns his living as an account representative for a finance company. His affiliations include the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He welcomes responses at willpowerful@hotmail.com.

Click here to comment on this article

A 'no' to the new world order
Friday, June 03, 2005

The rejection of the European constitution by French and Dutch voters was the revolt of ordinary people against the excesses and uncertainties of globalization.

For most people, globalization, the economic driving force of the new century, is an abstraction -- a fancy, two-bit term for something they little understand. They feel its effects, however, in terms of lost jobs, the flood of immigrants and the threat to national identity posed by open borders, the diminished power of organized labor and -- what they fear most -- the predatory capitalism of American-style multinational corporations.

Each of these elements, in varying degrees, can be found in the decisive votes by which France and the Netherlands turned thumbs down on the European constitution. And, to a small but expanding degree, they can be found here, too.

The American complaint against the exporting of jobs to cheap labor markets like China and India is mild compared with the concern all across Western Europe, where unemployment ranges from 9 to 12 percent, but especially in France. The specter for the French was the symbolic "Polish plumber," the worker now free to move into Western Europe and compete for French jobs by accepting lower pay. (Sound familiar?)

Immigration is another irritant associated with worldwide free- market economics. It takes the form in Europe of an open border policy that has generated unwelcome immigration, especially Muslim immigration, an indigestible lump in the body politic of Christian Western Europe. The Times of London, calling attention to the murder of a Dutch politician by an Islamic extremist, said the Netherlands "is resentful of its million- strong Muslim minority and its intolerance, hostility to women's rights and refusal to integrate."

Here in the United States, Latino illegal immigration, mainly from Mexico, is the irritant. Volunteer groups, looking mighty like vigilantes, patrol the Arizona-Mexico border on the lookout for illegals. And the mayor of Fresno, Calif., has called for a moratorium on legal immigration until some coherent policy on newcomers can be crafted.

America has not encountered the unemployment plaguing Western Europe, not yet anyway. But there's fear of that prospect and reason to believe we're skirting the edge. Unemployment claims last week jumped to 250,000. And, oddly enough, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has just announced its "strong opposition" to the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Why? Because the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the Hispanic caucus supported, "has widened the gap between rich and poor," it concluded.

Here in the United States, it said, 47 percent of those receiving benefits for having lost jobs to NAFTA were Latino. And in Mexico, 1.3 million small farmers were forced off the land "because they were unable to compete with large multinational producers." It is precisely those unemployed farm workers, the caucus said, who "have become the undocumented immigrants of today."

Globalization is not reversible. It is the natural byproduct of the computer-driven information revolution that in turn promoted cooperation and consolidation in every major industry and ultimately the internationalization of those corporate giants. It's an American economic concoction, but with the collapse of communism, it was the only economic model that seemed to work.

But if globalization can't be reversed, it can be seriously slowed -- and will be if its corporate leaders, who increasingly dominate American government, don't show a more human face.

To flourish, globalization's giant corporations need a united Europe -- with one bureaucracy, one set of accommodating business regulations and a common currency. It can't survive on cheap Chinese labor alone. But if the polls have it right, the British, Swedes and Danes, like the Dutch and French -- the people, if not their political elites -- want no truck with a European constitution that threatens more dictation from the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. They know it's the price for playing in the globalization game, but they're no longer sure they want to pay it.

Already, there are signs that some in Western Europe are having second thoughts about their new common currency, the euro.

"In exchange for giving up the basic tenet of sovereignty -- the right to mint a currency and thereby manage the national economy -- the EU promised economic prosperity and full employment," economist Anatole Kaletsy wrote recently in the Times of London. "Instead, the single currency has condemned the eurozone to stagnation and mass unemployment."

It would behoove the giants of our globalized world to consider the social consequences of what they do. There's backlash building if they don't.

Click here to comment on this article

Scientific American Takes on the 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts
Written by Steven Plaut
Monday, June 06, 2005

While there are many reasons to believe that the political arena is in fact a circle and not a straight line, with the extremist Left sitting alongside the lunatic neonazi Right and sharing many of the same ideas and positions, nothing so clearly illustrates the "political circle" concept as well as the chasing by extremists of both the Right and Left after conspiracy theories related to 9-11.

The web is crawling with web sites that insist that bin Laden was a patsy and that al-Qaeda did NOT knock down the WTC and attack the Pentagon. So who then did? Usually it is some mix of the CIA, the Republicans, the "Illuminati", the Council on Foreign Relations (a favorite bugaboo of conspiracy nuts), and of course the Jews (and the Israelis).

Some of these "theories" are on the web sites of Holocaust Deniers (like Rense.com) and Stormtrooper-wannabes, while others are on the web sites of Far-Leftist marxies and "anarchists."

Among the leftwing lunatics who promote such nonsense is neofascist Dennis "Justin" Raimondo, editor of antiwar.com, who "proved" that Dem Joos knocked down the WTC because, on the day of the attack, some Israeli moving men were picked up for visa violations and one was found to have some cash in a dirty sock. Raimondo is convinced that no one could possibly have cash in a sock unless they were responsible for the 9-11 attack! Chronically-unemployed Counterpunch neonazi columnist and Ba'athist Uruknet spokesman Kurt Nimmo agrees. If you type "World Trade Center" and "conspiracy" into Google, you'll get more than 250,000 hits.

Now Scientific American has devoted a part of its newest issue to debunking conspiracy nonsense related to 9-11. The Scientific American piece was motived in part by the success of a lunabat book crayoned by a French left-wing activist, Thierry Meyssan's, about yet another 9-11 conspiracy "theory", L'Effroyable Imposture, which became an amphibian best-seller in 2002.

After noting some of the ludicrous pseudo-facts trotted out by the conspiracist fruitcakes, Scientific American sums things up thus:
'All the 9/11 conspiracy claims are this easily refuted. On the Pentagon "missile strike," for example, I queried the would-be filmmaker about what happened to Flight 77, which disappeared at the same time. "The plane was destroyed, and the passengers were murdered by Bush operatives," he solemnly revealed. "Do you mean to tell me that not one of the thousands of conspirators needed to pull all this off," I retorted, "is a whistle-blower who would go on TV or write a tell-all book?" My rejoinder was met with the same grim response I get from UFOlogists when I ask them for concrete evidence: Men in Black silence witnesses, and dead men tell no tales.'

Dr. Plaut is a professor of business administration at the University of Haifa, and the author of "The Scout," available from Gefen Publishing House.

Comment: Rather than attempt to refute this obvious piece of Israeli propaganda directly, the interested reader may want to take a look at the article "The Mechanical Popularity Of Lies" by Joe Quinn that addresses a similar argument in Popular Mechanics magazine point for point, then the reader can use critical thinking to decide for themselves.

Click here to comment on this article

Feds: Science paper a terrorist's road map

Health agency seeks to halt scholarly publication
Monday, June 6, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The federal government has asked the National Academy of Sciences not to publish a research paper that feds describe as a "road map for terrorists" on how to contaminate the nation's milk supply.

The research paper on biological terrorism, by Stanford University professor Lawrence M. Wein and graduate student Yifan Liu, provides details on how terrorists might attack the milk supply and offers suggestions on how to safeguard it.

The paper appeared briefly May 30 on a password-protected area of the National Academy of Science's Web site.

Journalists use that area of the Web site to get advance copies of articles slated for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

People who downloaded the Wein-Liu paper called the Food and Drug Administration for comment, and the FDA notified the Department of Health and Human Services, which asked the academy to stop the article's publication.

The paper "is a road map for terrorists and publication is not in the interests of the United States," HHS Assistant Secretary Stewart Simonson wrote in a letter to the science academy chief Dr. Bruce Alberts.

The paper gives "very detailed information on vulnerability nodes" in the milk supply chain and "includes ... very precise information on the dosage of botulinum toxin needed to contaminate the milk supply to kill or injure large numbers of people," Simonson wrote.

"It seems clear on its face that publication of this manuscript could have very serious public health and national security consequences."

Alberts wrote that acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Lester Crawford was joining him in the request to halt publication.

Officials of HHS and the academy said they are to meet Tuesday to discuss the article.

"The academy has been dealing with the issue of scientific openness versus national security since 9/11," said academy spokesman Bill Kearney.

"The academy [members] are strong advocates of scientific openness while ensuring that nothing is done to aid terrorists."

Kearney said the NAS routinely vets papers for security concerns before publishing them and had vetted the Wein-Liu paper.

After HHS raised concerns, the NAS decided to "take a step back and make sure that we weren't putting out anything that we're uncomfortable with," he said.

NAS is a private, nonprofit society of scientists and engineers chartered by Congress to advise the government on science and technology.

HHS spokesman Marc Wolfson said Wein showed a draft of his paper last fall to HHS staffers, who expressed concern about the level of detail in the paper.

"He, at that time, indicated that he was going to work it over a bit and he'd be back to us, back to HHS, if and when he submitted it for publication. That was the last we ... heard from him," Wolfson said.

Wein told CNN he would withhold comment until after the HHS and NAS meeting.

A week ago, The New York Times published an op-ed article by Wein outlining a possible attack scenario.

Under the most likely scenario, he wrote, a terrorist would buy toxin from an overseas black market laboratory, fill a one gallon jug with a sludgy substance containing a few grams of botulin, and pour it into an unlocked milk tank, or into a milk truck at a truck stop.

He wrote that the FDA guidelines for locking milk tanks should be made mandatory, and said the dairy industry should improve pasteurization to eliminate toxins.

Wolfson said he cannot recall another instance in which HHS has asked a scientific publication to withhold an article on national security grounds.

Click here to comment on this article

Terrorists 'using Guantanamo as a recruitment aid'
By David Usborne in New York
The Independent
06 June 2005

Senior Democrats are calling for the closure of America's detention centre in Guantanamo, Cuba, saying it has become a "propaganda and recruitment tool" for terrorists in the wake of continued allegations of prisoner abuse.

A leading senator, Joseph Biden of Delaware, suggested the time had come to consider a gradual closure of the facility, arguing its worsening reputation around the world was helping to recruit people bent on hurting the US.

"This has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world. And it is unnecessary to be in that position."

For a start, the senator argued, there should at least be an independent commission established to address the value of keeping Guantanamo. "The end result is, I think we should end up shutting it down, moving those prisoners."

"Those that we have reason to keep, keep. And those we don't, let go."

The White House spent the weekend trying to play down a Pentagon report confirming instances of abuse of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, at the camp in Guantanamo, chastising the media and placing the blame on a few rogue US guards acting in disregard of American policy.

The furore comes just two weeks after the Bush administration assailed Newsweek magazine for suggesting that guards had flushed a copy of the Koran down the lavatory. The magazine withdrew the claim, saying it was unsure of its sources but not before it had triggered anti-American rioting in Afghanistan and several other Muslim countries.

But, on Friday, the Pentagon concluded there had indeed been some scattered cases where the Koran had been desecrated in the facility, though none flushed in a lavatory. In one case, a guard's urine had splashed on a Koran. Also recorded were cases where the books had been kicked or stamped on by guards and interrogators or made wet when guards threw water balloons into cells.

The revelation triggered a familiar White House response. Blaming lower-ranking soldiers was also the strategy at the outbreak of the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"It is unfortunate some have chosen to take out of context a few isolated incidents by a few individuals," presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said in a statement from George Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. He noted that the report said there were in fact more cases of the book being desecrated by inmates than by guards. (Although why that should be is not explained.)

Conditions at Guantanamo, where suspects are held without charge and without access to legal representation, are rapidly becoming a public relations nightmare for the White House. Last week, Amnesty International likened the high-security facility to the Gulag, prompting a swift response from President George Bush. He called the characterisation "absurd".

Meanwhile, the President faced new difficulties in forcing through the confirmation of John Bolton as his choice for new US ambassador to the UN as reports emerged accusing him of unfairly forcing the resignation of a UN official in 2002 who was head of the international body responsible for monitoring chemical weapons proliferation around the world.

The Associated Press said Mr Bolton flew to Vienna to orchestrate the ousting of a Brazilian, Jose Bustani, from the directorship of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, in part because he was planning to send chemical inspectors into Iraq which threatened to get in the way of US plans to invade the country.

With British help, a vote to remove Mr Bustani succeeded by a hair's breadth but was later censured.

Click here to comment on this article

Bush urged: 'Never apologize' to Muslims

Administration officials reportedly inspired by classic John Wayne movie
June 7, 2005

Some members of the Bush administration have taken a cue from a classic John Wayne Western and are advising their boss to take the film's advice – "Never apologize" – when dealing with Muslims, reports geopolitical analyst Jack Wheeler.

In a column on his intelligence website, To the Point, Wheeler explains Wayne's "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," made in 1948, though lesser known than many of the star's films, includes what's been called one of the top 100 movie quotes of all time.

Wayne's character, Capt. Nathan Brittles, who is facing an Indian attack, advises a junior officer: "Never apologize, son. It's a sign of weakness."

It's that attitude that some employees of the Pentagon, State Department and White House are urging President Bush to take when dealing with charges of Quran desecration and other allegations from radical Muslims. They've even sent a DVD copy of the film to the commander in chief.

"Their numbers are small," explains Wheeler, "but they are seriously sick and tired of squishing-out to the hadjis (the nickname our soldiers give the Muslim terrorists in Iraq and their sympathizers – pronounced 'hah-geez,' referring to the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca called the hadj). These sympathizers now include not just rioters on Pakistani streets but Newsweek magazine and Amnesty International.

"'The more we kiss the hadjis' tushes, the more they denounce us and the less they respect us,' one of them told me. 'Just take a look at the DOD's procedures for the handling and inspecting of detainee Korans . You won't believe how impossibly respectful and careful they are. What good does this do us? All we get is lies, lawsuits and riots in return.'"

Wheeler says the goal of the John Wayne aficionados is to eliminate any "We're sorry" message in State Department cables and communiqués, National Security Council analyses, and Pentagon press briefings – "and inserting in their place, however subtly worded in diplo-speak, the message: 'If you don't like it, stuff it.'"

In his column, Wheeler quotes from a message the anti-apology staffers would like to see in a future Bush speech:

I want to make it very clear that neither this administration nor the American military nor the American people owe an apology whatsoever to the religion of Islam and its believers. The American people have every right to take enormous pride in the respect which our military treats believers in Islam, and in the fact that the American military is not just the most powerful but the most humanitarian fighting force in the history of humankind. It is the Islamic terrorists and their followers who owe us an apology for making war on us, and owe an apology to their fellow believers in Islam for making war on them.

Writes Wheeler: "So cross your fingers he takes the movie and the message to heart. The day the president of the United States announces that Muslims owe an apology to us and not the other way around will be the day we truly begin to win this war." [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Illegals shocked as judge actually puts them in jail

Texas jurist locks up offenders, deports them instead of freeing them with 'notice to appear'
June 6, 2005

A judge in Texas is shocking illegal aliens in the Brownsville area by actually jailing them and making sure they're deported rather than simply letting them go with a "notice to appear" – most of which are not honored.

The Brownsville Herald reported U.S. Magistrate Judge Felix Recio is getting tough with illegals caught crossing the Rio Grande, telling a group of Honduran immigrants last week to warn their buddies back home.

"I want you to tell all your friends in Honduras that if they come through Brownsville, Texas, they will not be paroled into the system, and they will be put in jail and deported," Recio told 18-year-old Jorge Enrique Vasquez Carrasco in open court as he handed him a jail sentence that could keep him locked up until space opens at an immigration facility and he is deported.

Under the typical scenario, illegals are issued a notice to appear, at which time they go on their way and begin their new life in the U.S. Federal statistics indicate 88 percent of aliens issued a notice don't show up for their hearings. Border agents near McAllen, Texas, have nicknamed the summons "notice to disappear" because they are so often disregarded.

A nearby Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center contracts with county jails when bed space reaches capacity.

"There is not a limit on how long a federal prisoner can stay in a county facility," ICE spokeswoman Letty Zamarripa told the Herald.

Zamarripa said criminals and detainees from "nations of interest" such as those that support terrorism are give priority when moved from county jails to federal facilities.

"We are removing detainees everyday," Zamarripa said of immigrants being deported from the facility. "We have two flights a week with room for 120 on each flight in addition to two buses leaving each week."

Nathan Selzer with the Valley Movement for Human Rights said "undocumented" immigrants, who he believes are committing "non-violent and victimless crime," are being put in danger when housed in the same jails as "real" criminals.

Selzer said U.S. immigration policy needs to be reformed.

"But that's in the hands of President Bush and Congress and they refuse to do so," Selzer is quoted as saying.

Click here to comment on this article

Mesan arrested in ricin probe
By Beth Lucas
East Valley Tribune
June 6, 2005

The FBI, Arizona Office of Homeland Security, National Guard and other terrorist-fighting organizations converged on the East Valley this weekend after police discovered the deadly biochemical ricin in Mesa.

Casey Cutler, 25, was arrested Saturday after a substance found in his possession tested positive as being ricin - a poison considered a terrorist threat. He was charged Sunday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix with violating federal law by possessing a biotoxin for use as a weapon, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Officials said they suspect the Mesa resident was not planning to use the poison for terrorism, but to carry out a personal vendetta.

"I want to stress that this is an isolated incident," FBI agent Keith Bennett said during a news conference Sunday. "There is no indication of other individuals involved. There is no indication we have any nexus to terrorism."

Officials would not describe what form the ricin was in but stressed it was a small amount and a low-grade form of the toxin that appears to have been fully contained.

Bennett said Cutler may have been planning to use the toxin on his personal enemies.

"There were individuals he had concerns with," he said. "It's believed that might have been the purpose."

On Friday, an acquaintance of Cutler's rushed to a local emergency room, fearing he'd been exposed and was sick from the ricin, Mesa Police Chief Dennis Donna said. The unidentified man proved to not have been exposed, but the information tipped off police.

The idea that ricin could be in Mesa brought together a wide range of federal, state and city officials, including Mesa police, the FBI, Arizona Office of Homeland Security, Arizona Department of Health Services, National Guard and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

"When you hear the word ‘ricin' after Sept. 11, (2001), your concern level rises," Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker said.

The state epidemiology lab tested the substance, verifying it was a form of ricin. A search of an apartment Cutler formerly rented, in the 1000 block of South Dobson Road in Mesa, revealed nothing.

Officials said they did discover some possible evidence during a second search of Cutler's more recent residence, in the 400 block of East Royal Palm Drive in Mesa, and are still testing what was collected. No one was available at the residence for comment.

David Engelthaler, state epidemiologist, said ricin poisoning cannot be passed from person to person, with direct contact with the toxin needed for contamination.

Made from the waste left when processing castor beans, ricin can be inhaled, ingested or injected.

Since no one Cutler was in contact with appears to have become ill, Engelthaler said it appears the ricin was safely isolated from the public.

A victim can die in a few days if exposed, he said, and there is no known antidote. The poison can be made in the form of a powder, mist, pellet or liquid.

Officials said they wanted to alert the public in the event someone has unknowingly been exposed. Hospitals also have been notified.

Still, they said such exposure is unlikely because of the small amount discovered.

"There has been no threat," Hawker said, applauding the agencies for their quick response and investigation. "It is not an airborne toxin."

Click here to comment on this article

OAS members balk at U.S. intervention plan
Tuesday, June 7, 2005

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida -- A U.S. proposal to intervene in Western Hemisphere nations to push democracy rankled the leaders of several South American countries debating the issue Monday at the meeting of the Organization of American States.

"There needs to be a dialogue rather than an intervention," said Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim. "Democracy cannot be imposed. It is born from dialogue."

The United States has not established how or where the OAS should intervene, but one likely target is Venezuela. The OAS also is concerned about political instability in Ecuador and Bolivia.

The Bush administration has accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of using his country's democratic institutions to impose authoritarian rule. Venezuela is a member of OAS.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rodriguez told reporters the proposal "seems as if it is aimed against a single country."

Representatives of the 34-nation OAS are in Florida for a three-day summit with the theme of "Delivering the Benefits of Democracy." It is the first time since 1974 that the annual meeting has taken place on U.S. soil.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who chairs the summit as head of the host delegation, said Sunday the Bush administration has a "renewed interest" in the OAS as a way to promote its global democracy agenda.

The U.S. proposal calls for the OAS to craft a mechanism within its Democratic Charter that permits the group to intervene in nations to foster or strengthen democracy.

In the 2001 charter, member nations pledged to protect one another's democracies.

The proposal has met opposition from countries other than Venezuela, including Bolivia and Chile, whose leaders see it as interfering in their internal affairs.

Chile introduced a counter-proposal backed by at least 10 other OAS nations, including Brazil.

The Chilean plan, described as offering a "middle-ground," asks OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza to study how the organization has used the Democratic Charter since its inception and recommend ways to make it more effective.

Venezuela's Rodriguez noted that as an oil exporter his nation has strong economic ties to the United States and warned that U.S. intervention efforts could jeopardize that economic relationship.

"We are not doing anything in order to change the policies, the decisions of the government of the United States. So we ask for the same treatment with Venezuela," he said.

The OAS has previously intervened in situations of political turmoil. In 2000, it sent an envoy to Peru following fraudulent elections. More recently, OAS countries formed a "Friends of Venezuela" group to mediate between the government and the opposition.

Insulza, who has embraced some of the Bush administration's ideas for strengthening the OAS to more actively promote democracy, said he did not believe the organization should intervene in any country without the agreement of that nation's government.

"We can never use any mechanism without the consent of the country," Insulza told reporters. "If the states don't want something, then nothing will be done."

The group, founded in 1948 to promote and defend democracy, has historically not been able to resolve crises in the hemisphere.

The OAS is particularly concerned about political strife in Ecuador. That nation's congress voted voted unanimously in April to remove President Lucio Gutierrez amid enormous public outcry against him.

Instability also lingers in Bolivia, where demonstrators are threatening President Carlos Mesa and calling for a constitutional overhaul. The Bolivian government has resisted OAS intervention.

In an address to the group Monday, President Bush did not mention the U.S. intervention proposal, but he pushed his vision of extending democracy worldwide.

"Bringing a better life to our people requires choosing between two competing visions," he said. "One ... is founded on representative government, integration into the world markets.

"...The other seeks to roll back the democratic progress of the past two decades by playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor and blaming others for their own failures to provide for their people."

Comment: The psychopath will generally accuse others of the crimes for which he himself is guilty. Just think about Bush's statement in light of Patriot Acts I and II, the Neocons' "us vs. them" mentality, and the blaming of China for the USA's current economic woes,

Click here to comment on this article

Christianity taking over planet?
April 28, 2005

What is the fastest-growing religion on Earth?

Most news reports suggest it is Islam.

But a new book makes a compelling case it is a new, or, perhaps, old form of biblically inspired evangelical Christianity that is sweeping through places like China, Africa, India and Southeast Asia.

In "Megashift," author Jim Rutz coins a new phrase to define this fast-growing segment of the population. He calls them "core apostolics" – or "the new saints who are at the heart of the mushrooming kingdom of God."

Rutz makes the point that Christianity is overlooked as the fastest-growing faith in the world because most surveys look at the traditional Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church while ignoring Christian believers who have no part of either.

He says there are 707 million "switched-on disciples" who fit into this new category and that this "church" is exploding in growth.

"The growing core of Christianity crosses theological lines and includes 707 million born-again people who are increasing by 8 percent a year," he says.

So fast is this group growing that, under current trends, according to Rutz, the entire world will be composed of such believers by the year 2032.

"There will be pockets of resistance and unforeseen breakthroughs," writes Rutz. "Still, at the rate we're growing now, to be comically precise, there would be more Christians than people by the autumn of 2032, about 8.2 billion."

According to the author, until 1960, Western evangelicals outnumbered non-Western evangelicals – mostly Latinos, blacks and Asians – by two to one. As of 2000, non-Western evangelicals outnumbered Westerners by four to one. He says by 2010, the ratio will be seven to one.

"There are now more missionaries sent from non-Western nations than Western nations," he writes.

This trend, says Rutz, has been missed by Westerners because the explosive growth is elsewhere.

Hundreds of millions of these Christians are simply not associated with the institutional churches at all. They meet in homes. They meet underground. They meet in caves. They meet, he says, in secret.

And what is driving this movement?

Miracles, he says.

"Megashift" attempts to document myriad healings and other powerful answers to the sincere prayers of this new category of believer, including, believe it or not, hundreds of dramatic cases of resurrections – not near-death experiences, but real resurrections of actual corpses.

"When I was a kid in Sunday school, I was really impressed that 3,000 people were saved on the Day of Pentecost," he writes. "I thought, 'Wow, that'll never happen again!"

But, Rutz says, it now happens around the globe every 25 minutes.

"By tomorrow, there will be 175,000 more Christians than there are today," he writes.

The essence of Rutz's book is about how Western Christians can tap into what he sees as a mighty work of God on Earth.

"Very few people realize the nature of life on Earth is going through a major change," he writes. "We are seeing a megashift in the basic direction of human history. Until our time, the ancient war between good and evil was hardly better than a stalemate. Now all has changed. The Creator whose epic story flows through the pages of Scripture has begun to dissolve the strongholds of evil. This new drama is being played out every hour around the globe, accompanied sometimes by mind-bending miracles."

Comment: And it's all thanks to God's emissary on earth, His Holiness George W. Bush...

Click here to comment on this article

Personal Data for 3.9 Million Lost in Transit
The New York Times
June 7, 2005

In one of the largest breaches of data security to date, CitiFinancial, the consumer finance subsidiary of Citigroup, announced yesterday that a box of computer tapes containing information on 3.9 million customers was lost by United Parcel Service last month, while in transit to a credit reporting agency.

Executives at Citigroup said the tapes were picked up by U.P.S. early in May and had not been seen since.

The tapes contained names, addresses, Social Security numbers, account numbers, payment histories and other details on small personal loans made to millions of customers through CitiFinancial's network of more than 1,800 lending branches, or through retailers whose product financing was handled by CitiFinancial's retail services division.

The company said there was no indication that the tapes had been stolen or that any of the data in them had been compromised.

Comment: How can the company be sure that the tapes haven't been stolen or that any data in them has been compromised if they don't know where the tapes are??

It was, however, the latest in a series of recent data-security failures involving nearly every kind of institution that compiles personal information - ranging from data brokers like ChoicePoint and LexisNexis to financial institutions like Bank of America and Wachovia to the media giant Time Warner to universities like Boston College and the University of California, Berkeley.

All these institutions have reported data breaches in the last five months, affecting millions of individuals and spurring Congressional hearings and numerous bills aimed at improving security in the handling of sensitive consumer information. The fear is that Social Security numbers, when combined with a consumer's name, address and date of birth, can be used by thieves to open new lines of credit, secure loans and otherwise steal someone's identity. [...]

CitiFinancial has notified the Secret Service, which is called whenever there is a compromise of financial data. The agency is investigating the incident, and CitiFinancial has begun sending letters to all 3.9 million customers advising them of the loss and offering them 90 days of free enrollment in a credit-monitoring service. Other institutions with data-loss problems have also offered free credit-monitoring services, some for as long as a year.

A spokesman for U.P.S., Norman Black, would not go into specifics on where or how the security system broke down, but said the courier was continuing its investigation. Mr. Black said blame ultimately lay with his company.

"They tendered us a package and expected it to be delivered in the reliable way that we always do," he said, "and we had to go back to them and tell them that we can't find it."

Mr. Black said that an exhaustive search of all U.P.S. facilities nationwide had turned up no sign of the package. "It's rare that it gets to the point where we can find no trace of it," he said.

A spokesman for Experian, Donald A. Girard, said he had never seen an instance of a shipment of this kind simply disappearing, although he added that he and other credit agencies had been encouraging financial institutions to convert from tapes to encrypted electronic delivery of data.

"Experian has been actively working for quite a while with all major data contributors to convert to electronic data transference," Mr. Girard said, "to mitigate risk in this process."

Ms. Hopkins of Citigroup said that most of the company's divisions already did this, and that the CitiFinancial unit is scheduled to convert to such electronic transfers in July.

She also said that the missing tapes, which were not encrypted, were created using mainframe-type computers and highly specialized hardware and software that would make it difficult - though not impossible - to extract data from them.

And Ms. Givens of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse said, "Your everyday dumpster diver may not know what to do with these tapes, but if these tapes ever find their way into the hands of an international crime ring, I think they'll figure it out."

Comment: Gee, with all these breaches in data security in the past several months, it looks like Big Brother might have to step in and save the day.

Click here to comment on this article

Abu's Secret Syrian Rendezvous: Another Bush Lie
June 04, 2005
Kurt Nimmo

Now they tell us:

"U.S. intelligence has no evidence that terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi visited Syria in recent months to plan bombings in Iraq, and experts don't believe the widely publicized meeting ever happened, according to U.S. officials," reports Knight Ridder.

So I'll toot my little self-righteous horn now-I said the "story" was bogus when it first appeared last month (see Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Syria: More Black Propaganda from the Bush Lie Factory).

How did I know this "news item" is a lie?

Because it was floated by "a top U.S. military official in Baghdad," thus allowing "top Bush administration and Iraqi officials" to increase "threats against Syria," a country high up on the Strausscon hit list. In light of the so-called Downing Street memo, everything the Bushcons say should be immediately considered suspect and checked and double-checked for veracity. It should be a standard operating procedure to reference Aesop's The Boy Who Cried Wolf when reading "stories" emanating from "top U.S. military officials."

If somebody in the Bush administration opens his mouth, you should assume a lie is about to be spoken. It is the only safe assumption, considering what has happened over the last four or so years.

"Three officials who said that the reports of Zarqawi's travels were apparently bogus spoke on condition of anonymity because intelligence matters are classified and because discussing the mistaken report could embarrass the White House and trigger retaliation against them."

In other words, even if Bush lies, or his desk jockeys in the Pentagon lie, they should be cut considerable slack because… well, because it will embarrass Dubya-never mind that such lies have so far resulted in the murder of a 100,000 or more Iraqis and a couple thousand U.S. soldiers. Not only is "retaliation" in order, so is a trip to The Hague (resplendent in orange jumpsuit and shackles) to face charges of committing crimes against humanity and waging aggressive war.

"The allegation by the U.S. military official in Baghdad that Zarqawi and his lieutenants met in Syria suggests that, despite the controversy over the Bush administration's use of flimsy and bogus intelligence to make its case for war in Iraq, some officials are still quick to embrace dubious intelligence when it supports the administration's case-this time against Damascus."

Let's call it the "Office of Special Plans Dog and Pony Show." It is not so much that "some officials are still quick to embrace dubious intelligence," but rather that they purposely create "flimsy and bogus intelligence" (lies) as a matter of course. In Bushzarro world, such premeditated lies resulting in mass murder are not considered an impeachable offense (while the sexual dalliance of a previous president is, probably because oral sex with an intern is more disturbing to Republicans than killing babies through malnutrition or cluster bombs).

"One of the U.S. officials said the initial report was based on a single human source, who has since changed his story significantly. Another official said the source and his information were quickly dismissed as unreliable by intelligence officials but caught the attention of some political appointees."

And yet this "story" received headlines and the fantasy that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi-who is dead and lives on as a useful folk tale for psychological warfare use-connived with the dastardly Syrians has become a pseudo-fact of the sort the corporate media thrives on (and the gullible American people believe, as they believe, sans any shred of evidence, that Osama and Saddam were buddies). As for "some political appointees," we should have a good idea of who these people are-the Strausscons who have criminally hijacked the foreign policy of the United States. In non-Bushzarro world, these folks would be fitted for orange jumpsuits-instead they are courted by the corporate media or become presidents of international loan shark operations.

"‘We are not aware of any information that suggests that Zarqawi met in Syria with his lieutenants in April,' a defense official said. ‘However, it doesn't preclude his having met with them most likely in al Anbar,' a largely Sunni Muslim province in western Iraq."

It also does not preclude his having met with the Aymara tribe on the Titicaca plateau in Peru.

"The Jordanian-born Zarqawi leads the al-Qaida in Iraq group, which has claimed responsibility for some of the country's deadliest bombings."

In fact, there is no proof al-Zarqawi is doing anything-expect possibly pushing up a tombstone somewhere in the Sulaimaniyah mountains of northern Iraq. And yet the corporate media is allowed to get away with reporting as fact a dead man heads up "al-Qaeda in Iraq," another fanciful campfire story contrivance with absolutely no basis in reality-the corporate media is simply allowed to pass off Bushcon lies as fact and they are rarely if ever taken to task for these obvious falsifications (in essence, passing off war propaganda, itself a punishable offense in the commission of war crimes).

Meanwhile, Michael Isikoff, a one-time peddler of sordid tales surrounding the above mentioned adolescent sexual romping of a former president, is roasted alive for telling the truth: it is a well-established Bushcon policy to splash the Koran with urine and torture dirt farmers to death in Bush's gulag (the same odious corporate media takes offense to the use of the word "gulag" to describe this far-flung operation that would make Tomas de Torquemada proud).

"Syria has long supported Palestinian terror groups that attack Israel, and Syrian officials have said they're unable to police the long border with Iraq. France and the United States sponsored a U.N. Security Council resolution that forced Damascus to withdraw its troops from Lebanon following the February assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri."

No explanation what "Palestinian terror groups" (i.e., Palestinians resisting the long-term and brutal occupation of their land stolen by the Israeli government and armed forces) have to do with the fairy tale that al-Zarqawi is in Iraq (or Syria and the Titicaca plateau in Peru). For some reason we are not told many Arabs-not simply Arab governments-support the struggle of the Palestinians who, under international law, have all the right in the world to resist occupation, as do the Iraqis. As well, the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri has nothing to do with Syria's alleged support for the chimerical al-Zarqawi, but then the point here is not to make sense but rather to demonize Syria, as required by the Likudite-Strausscon plan to "reshape" (i.e., bomb and terrorize) the Muslim and Arab Middle East.

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld issued a thinly veiled warning Wednesday to Damascus against providing harbor to anyone allied with Osama bin Laden's network."

Never mind that Rumsfeld has no evidence that Syria is harboring anybody, let alone a few hobgoblins from a tenebrous organization initially created and lubricated by the CIA-with more than a little help from Pakistan's malicious ISI-in order to kill Soviets and soften up Afghanistan for its glorious future as a highway for natural gas pipelines and cultivation plantation for opium (a major source of revenue for CIA black ops and Wall Street bankers).

"A U.S. official said experts at the Pentagon believe ‘the keys to the insurgency are external to Iraq' and that closing the Syrian and Iranian borders to the transit of Islamic extremists, weapons and cash would cripple the guerrillas."

Gibberish. Actually, the "keys to the insurgency" are indigenous to Iraq and nothing will "cripple the guerrillas" (short of nuking the entire country) and the only option for the United States is to pack up and leave, the sooner the better. No doubt millions of Syrians and Iranians support the resistance-as they support the resistance of the Palestinians against the settler state of Israel-but it would be certain suicide for the Iranian and Syrian governments to actively support the resistance, especially considering their status as primary targets on the Strausscon roster.

But never mind. Most Americans, immersed in years of Bushian doublespeak and back-to-back lies, are no longer able to discern reality from the grotesque machinations of Bushzarro world.

"Despite the charges that Syria is an important supporter of the insurgency, the U.S. Army has deployed only 400 U.S. soldiers to patrol a 10,000 square-mile area in northwest Iraq abutting Syria and Turkey, Knight Ridder reported this week."

In short, there needs to be more soldiers sent to Iraq. I suggest the editors and publisher of Knight Ridder donate the lives of their kids and leave the rest of us alone.

"Syria has been ‘the route of choice' for foreign jihadists trying to enter Iraq, but ‘putting too much focus on Syria could divert attention away from the much bigger problem: our inability, so far, to deal effectively with the insurgency's center of gravity inside Iraq,' said Wayne White, a veteran Middle East intelligence analyst who recently left the State Department."

Yes, and the Arizona-Mexico border is the "route of choice" for impoverished Mexicans entering the United States. Bush has yet to bomb Mexico City, although there are ludicrous accusations that al-Qaeda terrorists and even Chechens are entering the Land of the (formerly) Free from Mexico. Moreover, Mr. White is absolutely correct in his assessment, although he stopped far short of suggesting the obvious-the Iraqi resistance's "center of gravity" will eventually knock the United States on its ass, if it has not already.

"One official said many fanatics coming to Iraq to wage holy war cross from Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, which also borders Iraq."

In other words, you can't trust those damn Ay-rabs, no matter where they come from. No doubt there are "foreign fighters" in Iraq, albeit in small numbers, as the resistance is primarily an Iraqi affair, however this does not negate a pertinent fact never mentioned in the corporate media: what are now called "jihadists" were trained and financed by the United States. In fact, enougaring Muslims from around the world to converge on Afghanistan was a U.S. specialty under two U.S. presidents (Carter and Reagan).

No number of lopsided Knight Ridder stories can negate this fact, although this is hardly relevant, for as Bush has said repeatedly, they "hate our freedoms-our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other," never mind that Bush and Crew are dismantling many of these hallowed freedoms (in particular, the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments of the Constitution) and those who disagree with Bush are relegated to "free speech zones" (as somebody said recently, the whole country is a free speech zone) and the FBI and CIA are busy snooping on those of us who have the impertinence to disagree.

Click here to comment on this article

Iraq's Constitutional Process Slowing Down
Associated Press
Tue Jun 7, 1:57 AM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq - In the highly charged and fractious climate of today's Iraq, bringing together a representative group to write a new constitution is an enormous challenge. Producing a document that satisfies everyone may prove to be even more difficult.

Chief among the problems is the crucial question of how to include Sunni Arabs in the process to lend it credibility and meet U.S. demands.

But Sunni Arabs, politically marginalized because of their boycott of January's historic elections, are setting tough conditions for their participation in the constitutional process, slowing it down and raising tensions with the country's Shiite and Kurdish majority, which dominates parliament and the government.

Iraq's 275-member National Assembly has until Aug. 15 to draft the charter, which will be put to a nationwide vote two months later. If adopted, it will provide the basis for a general election by Dec. 15, concluding a U.S.-sponsored political process spanning nearly two years starting with the adoption in March last year of an interim constitution.

Riding on the proposed document is the future of Iraq, a potentially wealthy country prone to sectarian strife and secessionist sentiment because of deep ethnic and religious divisions.

"The goal is to arrive at a constitution that will be accepted in October," said Hummam Hammoudi, a Shiite cleric who heads a parliamentary committee mandated to draft the document.

"What we're after is a document that has a vision for Iraq's future, power-sharing and gives assurances to everyone that their rights are safeguarded and their chances are equal," he said.

Easier said than done.

Like virtually every aspect of public life in Iraq since
Saddam Hussein's ouster, sectarian politics cast a shadow on the constitutional process as soon as it got under way with the creation last month of Hammoudi's committee. The two-year, Sunni-dominated insurgency also bears on the process, indirectly giving some Sunni groups with ties to the insurgency some leverage.

If unhappy with the outcome, Sunni Arabs can vote against the proposed charter in the four provinces where they enjoy a majority. Under the interim constitution, if three of Iraq's 18 provinces reject the constitution by a two-thirds majority in the October referendum, parliament must be dissolved and a new election held.

Already, the Shiite majority on Hammoudi's 55-lawmaker committee have balked at Sunni Arab conditions for joining, including demands to admit as many as 25 Sunnis to the panel and give them voting rights equal to those enjoyed by lawmakers.

"We are the ones who have taken part in the electoral process and these are our exclusive rights," said Bahaa al-Aaraji, a Shiite deputy and the committee's coordinator.

"We already have started to write the constitution and will not wait for the Sunnis to give us their list of nominees," he said.

With little more than two months left before the deadline, he said 13 would be the ideal number of Sunni Arabs joining the committee. The 13, he explained, would join two Sunni Arab lawmakers on the committee, bringing the total to 15, the same number of Kurdish members. Iraq's Kurds and Sunni Arabs account for a similar share - about 20 percent - of Iraq's estimated 26 million people.

The committee's own set of conditions for accepting Sunni Arabs may not go down well either.

Former senior members of Saddam's now-disbanded Baath party will not be admitted, said al-Aaraji. Sunni candidates also must have a publicly stated "positive" attitude toward the political process and enjoy the support of their communities, he said.

Sunni leaders, meanwhile, are complaining that a counterinsurgency campaign by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces has poisoned the political climate. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's government, they insist, must introduce confidence-building measures to reassure the community and aid the constitutional process.

At least 1,000 terror suspects have been detained since the May 30 start of the crackdown, dubbed Operation Lightening and carried out by 40,000 Iraqi troops.

"Many injustices have befallen a large number of people as a result of the operation," said Ayad al-Samaraai, a senior official of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country's largest Sunni Arab party. "The way Operation Lightening is conducted is contributing to existing tensions. I fear the consequences," he told The Associated Press.

Another problem that could dog the process is conflicting interests.

For example, Iraq's Kurds want federalism enshrined in the new constitution to protect the autonomy they've enjoyed in their northern region since 1991. Shiites and Sunni Arabs see a strong federal system as a prelude to Iraq's breakup.

Al-Samaraai said Sunni Arabs who join the constitutional committee should have the right to vote in parliament, where Sunni Muslims have only 17 of the 275 seats.

Al-Aaraji rejected that demand as a "legal impossibility," but suggested Sunni Arabs would have a voice if the expanded committee had to have consensus on decisions.

Click here to comment on this article

"According to Security Sources" - the Israeli Media
Tanya Reinhart
Yediot Aharonot, May 24, 2005. Translated from Hebrew by Mark Marshall

In the 1960s there were many jokes in Israel about the "Voice of the UAR (United Arab Republic) from Cairo", which broadcasted news in broken Hebrew, written by spokesmen of the Egyptian regime. The absurdity of these broadcasts enhanced the credibility of the IDF spokesmen in our eyes. Today we ourselves are not all that far from the "Voice of the UAR", and in fluent IDF Hebrew.

On 9 May we heard that the Israeli army accidentally fired a shell into Lebanese territory. Hizbullah responded with a single Katusha shell carefully aimed at the industrial zone of the northern Israel town of Shlomi, which was deserted on the eve of Independence Day. At the end of that week, (May 13), the Israeli army announced that it was forced to shoot at Lebanese shepherds. Hizbullah claimed that the fire was directed at houses in the village of Shuba and returned fire, without casualties.

The IDF responded with tanks and aircraft, and announced that it had destroyed four positions, with casualties on the Hizbullah side. “Security sources” explained that Hizbullah was trying to provoke Israel into a confrontation, and even provided the analysis: Hizbullah was trying to consolidate its position in the approaching local elections in Lebanon. They assured us that Israel was making an effort not to get drawn into an escalation. The newspapers published and the columnists recycled this story and analysis in unison.

Only later, on the following week, did it emerge from Fishman’s column in the Yediot Ahronot Saturday Supplement that in reality “in Israel they decided … to test how high Hizbullah was willing to raise the flame this time.” For that reason, two of the positions that were destroyed were outside of the Har Dov sector, within which the conventions established following Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon allow the two sides to operate. But “Hizbullah did not take the bait and contented itself with twelve shells that landed outside of the Israeli army posts, without causing damage"(1). The Israeli army did not give up. At the end of the week it was forced once again to shoot at the anonymous shepherds, and to operate inside Lebanon. Once again the media reported only the Israeli army’s version. No analyst wondered whether it was Israel that was trying to heat up the north, and maybe even hinder Hizbullah in the elections in Lebanon.

Last Wednesday (18 May) there were several mortar attacks on Gush Katif. The “security sources”, followed by the media, explained that this was an attempt by Hamas to improve its position in the upcoming Palestinian elections, but that the Israeli army, for its part, was trying to maintain the calm. It seemed quite natural to all analysts and commentators that Hamas, like Hizbullah, believes that the way to consolidate its strengthening position and to do well in the approaching elections is to create a military confrontation with Israel and thus to incur the wrath of their own people, the USA, and the rest of the world.

No commentator bothered to mention the explanation that Hamas itself provided. A completely different version appeared in the British Guardian, for example. Hamas claims that it is responding to Israel’s constant violations of the Sharm al-Sheikh agreements. What ignited the current eruption was an incident that in their eyes was the Israeli army’s assassination of a Hamas activist at dawn on Wednesday, an incident that the army denies and describes as a “work accident” (i.e. the man blew himself up accidentally, while preparing explosives) (2). Even if the media cannot decide between contradictory versions of a specific incident, the fact still remains that the Sharm al-Sheikh understandings determine that Israel will stop all military actions against Palestinians. Nothing of this was realized. The Israeli army continues to arrest, to assassinate, to enter villages and to kill even children.

The political echelon above the army the Prime Minister is careful, for its part, to keep us occupied exclusively with the Disengagement. On Tuesday 17 May, the television news showed Sharon touring the Nitzanim area, rebuking those responsible for preparing the evacuation, and urging them to work without waiting for money or authorization. Only at the end of the week was it casually reported in the column of Barnea and Schiffer in Yediot Ahronot Saturday Supplement that “journalists were not invited on this tour. Instead a camera team from the government’s media office was assigned to the tour. The rebuke was nothing but a show for the camera.” (3)

The disengagement, as we know, has already been postponed from July to mid-August. When the previous date was set, the claim was that the evacuation had to be completed before the beginning of September, when the children of Gush Katif need to start school. It is likely that there are those who have begun to wonder whether the Disengagement will indeed take place. The Prime Minister found it necessary to produce a propaganda reel to strengthen the faith of the dubious, and it seems completely natural to everyone that the television will broadcast this government media film as independent news.

As with the "Voice of the UAR from Cairo", the spokesmen of the Israeli regime write the news, the media prints and broadcasts it, and the analysts recycle it. Those who insist on knowing what is really happening, must also read The Guardian and al-Jazeera daily.

(1) Alex Fishman, Yediot Aharonot Saturday Supplement, May 20, 2005
(2) Agencies in Gaza, Guardian, May 19, 2005.
(3) Nahun Barnea and Shimon Schiffer, Yediot Aharonot Saturday Supplement, May 20, 2005

Click here to comment on this article

Palestinian in court on charges aided terror group
Mon Jun 6, 2005

MIAMI (Reuters) - A Palestinian former university professor goes on trial Monday in a Florida federal court on charges of raising money for Palestinian suicide bombers in one of the most high-profile terrorism prosecutions in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Sami al-Arian, who is being tried in Tampa with three other men of Palestinian descent, is accused of supporting and raising funds for a terrorist group. He has said he is innocent and is being punished for his vocal advocacy of Palestinian rights.

The prosecution's evidence includes thousands of hours of tapped phone calls and intercepted fax messages, gathered during a decade of intelligence surveillance. The evidence became admissible as evidence in a criminal trial under the Patriot Act, which was passed after the Sept. 11 attacks to give authorities broader anti-terrorist powers and which has drawn criticism from civil liberties groups.

Al-Arian and the three others were arrested in February 2003 on charges of raising money for the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, which the United States lists as a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of over 100 people in Israel, including two Americans.

All four defendants could face life in prison if convicted of the charges, which include conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, money laundering and providing support for foreign terrorist organizations.

Al-Arian, 47, was a computer sciences professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa from 1986 until his arrest in 2003, which was announced by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as a high-profile move in Washington's declared war on terrorism, and in one of its goals, to track financiers of terrorism.

A U.S. resident, al-Arian was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents. He was one of the founders of a think tank, the World Islam and Studies Enterprise, and a charity, the Islamic Committee for Palestine, formed in the 1990s to support an independent Palestinian state.

The indictment charges he used the groups as fronts to funnel money to terrorists.

The case, which al-Arian's supporters view as an attack on free speech, became a political football in last year's U.S. Senate campaign in Florida.

Opponents accused one of the candidates, former University of South Florida president Betty Castor, of failing to act aggressively against al-Arian during her tenure at the school.

Castor, a Democrat who lost the race to Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, countered by noting that al-Arian had been a public figure with political ties until recent years.

Castor ads showed a photo of al-Arian with then-presidential candidate George W. Bush at a 2000 campaign appearance, and her supporters noted that al-Arian had attended a meeting on faith-based initiatives at the White House in 2001.

The prosecution has called hundreds of witnesses, many of them from Israel, and the trial is expected to last about six months.

Comment: Given the overarching influence that the Jewish lobby wields in the US, it is highly likely that that the case against al-Arian is political, with trumped up charges of "terrorism" constituting the excuse to bring the case before the courts. Clearly it would be a coup for organisations like AIPAC to successfully prosecute a Palestinian on terrorism charged when his only crime was to lobby for Palestinian rights. A few months before his arrest back in 2003, al-Arian wrote an article in his own defence, that appeared in Counterpunch...

Click here to comment on this article

Flashback: Fighting for Right of Dissent & Due Process
August 26, 2002
by Sami Al-Arian

It was the summer of 1976 when I took my first civics course, along with four other courses. I was 18 and determined to graduate in three years with an engineering degree. Class discussion on the first day centered on the Watergate scandal and the separation of powers. Having come from a region where authoritarian regimes and political repression thrive, I was fascinated with the American system of government. By the end of the week, the professor asked us to research what he called the "2 D's": dissent and due process, cornerstones of American democracy.

Looking in the Arabic-English dictionary, I could not find the word "due process." So I looked up the two words separately. Put together, they did not make much sense to me. It was many discussions later that I grasped this novel idea of the American justice system. Little did I know that two decades later, I would be in the national spotlight in a heated debate concerning the two D's.

By now, much of America has heard of my case. Pick up any newspaper, turn to any news channel or surf the Internet and you're sure to learn of the tenured University of South Florida professor under the threat of being fired for controversy stemming from activism for the Palestinian cause. Not only have many of these media reports frequently misrepresented the facts, but they are to a large extent responsible for my current predicament.

Moreover, in a number of ways my case is indicative of the status of civil liberties in post-9/11 America. In the wake of the attacks against our country, it is conceivable that public reaction to the misinformation about me would be frantic. It is distressing, however, that many in this country seized the moment of widespread fear to rehash accusations that a federal judge already had thrown out of court. Recent charges by USF are clearly politically motivated attacks on freedom of speech. All of these allegations have been rejected outright in a court of law.

In the case of my brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar, who was detained on the basis of secret evidence for nearly four years, immigration judge R. Kevin McHugh ultimately said the following concerning the organizations in question: "Although there were allegations that the ICP (Islamic Committee for Palestine) and WISE (World Islamic Studies Enterprise) were fronts for Palestinian political causes, there is no evidence before the court that demonstrates that either organization was a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. To the contrary, there is evidence in the record to support the conclusion that WISE was a reputable and scholarly research center and the ICP was highly regarded."

This same ruling was upheld by a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., and then-Attorney General Janet Reno, who all had access to the secret evidence. This did not stop irresponsible journalists from reaching their own conclusions. Throughout this ordeal, among other things, my views have been completely misrepresented.

I have never once in my life advocated the killing of innocent civilians. I abhor terrorism at all levels, against all people. I condemn all violence against civilians -- regardless of the faith of the perpetrators -- whether they are in pizza parlors, bus stations or refugee camps. It's wrong not only politically, but, more important, on religious, moral and ethical grounds.

Following the Sept. 11 tragedy, I was one of the first Muslim leaders to condemn the attacks and call for justice for the victims. Within a few days, our mosque and the Islamic Community of Tampa Bay collected more than $10,000 for the victims' fund in New York, and I led a blood drive during which 75 local Muslims participated. In addition, I presided over a three-hour ecumenical service where all Abrahamic faiths were represented. The Islamic teachings of cooperation, unity and tolerance for all faith communities became visible during this painful time.

Throughout much of my last 25 years, I've given hundreds of sermons and speeches, as well as participated in many debates and panel discussions. America's promise for me was to give equal opportunity to all points of view, whether popular or unpopular. This is the meaning of the first "D," the right to dissent. As a stateless Palestinian refugee, I appreciated the freedom and opportunity afforded to me to talk about the importance of ending the injustices done to the Palestinians.

As recent events have played out, however, I am very certain that I am being punished because of my speeches and political opinions of at least 10 years ago, none of which was ever brought into the classroom. If I had said "Death to God," even on campus, I would not be fired. Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, as recently as March of this year, has directly advocated violence and torture against the Palestinians without causing a stir. His job and his life were not threatened as a result of these words. Unpopular opinions, even offensive ones, are part of American intellectual life.

Certainly, in the heat of the moment, one may not use the best expressions, especially during impromptu presentations. I had such regrettable moments. However, on many occasions, some of my speeches were misquoted, mistranslated, or taken completely out of context.

Throughout this saga, I have made my positions on various issues clear to those who wish to know the truth. With regard to the Middle East conflict, I have repeatedly stated that Israel must choose two out of the following three points: maintaining its exclusively Jewish character, being a democratic state, and controlling all the territories. If it chooses the first two, then there would be a two-state solution, which the Oslo process attempted but failed to achieve with the persistence of the brutal occupation and constant expansion of illegal settlements. This option is called the 78-22 solution, a Jewish state on 78 percent of historical Palestine, and a Palestinian state on 22 percent of the land, including the West Bank, Gaza and Arab East Jerusalem. However, if Israel insists on maintaining control of the territories and adhering to democratic ideals, this would mean the one-state solution, which I've always preferred -- a bi-national, non-sectarian state. Palestinians would become full citizens and enjoy the same rights as Jews: one person, one vote as happened in South Africa. In addition, this would solve the right of return problem, as the one state would easily accommodate the return of refugees as well as Jews, the world over.

The third alternative, with which we are now faced, is an exclusively Jewish state that wishes to maintain illegal control of the territories against the will of its native population. As I'm sure all would agree, this situation has been untenable for some time, and will only grow worse unless one of the other two options is pursued.

Here at home, I have prided myself on being a champion for civil liberties and human rights. Over the years, I have constantly maintained the view that changes in government policy must be achieved from within the system. When Mazen was denied his right to a trial and illegally detained, our community formed coalitions, lobbied Congress, and met with editorial boards and administration officials to express our outrage at the use of secret evidence. By the end, we had made it a national issue, garnering more than 130 supporters on a bill in Congress to ban the use of secret evidence.

During the presidential race, the use of secret evidence became a national issue when then Gov. George Bush came out against this policy during the second debate, giving him the support of Arab and Muslim voters.

Sept. 11 should not be used in order to sacrifice this great tradition. In addition, the backlash against the Arab-American and Muslim communities in the United States in the aftermath of the horrible tragedy was wrong and must be condemned. Similarly, to exploit the atmosphere of fear and insecurity in order to silence me is also contrary to our values.

Since 9/11 -- and indeed, long before -- I have not said or done anything to justify the continuous onslaught against me. This fight for academic freedom, free speech and preservation of tenure is indeed a worthy struggle. I will continue the struggle and I appreciate the support I received from my family, friends and community, and the many professors, students, unions and countless others. We have no choice but to continue defending these rights. As Mark Twain once said, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time to pause and reflect."

Sami Al-Arian is a computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida who has been on forced paid leave for the past 11 months.

Comment: al-Arian is not however the only Americanised Palestinian to have fun afoul of the new "security" laws in the US. On the US west coast, the Bush administration has resurrected the 20 year old case of the "LA 8", apparently to conduct another test run of the draconian Patriot Act...

Click here to comment on this article

U.S. government tries to deport Palestinian activists
By Muna Coobtee
Committee for Justice Archives

The United States government has often silenced critics of its domestic and foreign agendas. This silencing campaign is directed most harshly at immigrant dissidents, many of whom have witnessed the brutal impact of U.S. foreign policies in their homelands. Throughout U.S. history, the government has imposed restrictive federal legislation to weed out those immigrants whose political activities challenge U.S. militarism and exploitation.

A prime example is the government's 1987 attempt to deport seven Palestinian activists and one Kenyan, who were arrested for advocating on behalf of the Palestinian liberation struggle. For almost eighteen years, the case of the Los Angeles Eight-often called the "LA8"-has revealed the political character of federal legislation supposedly aimed at "terrorism."

Although various courts have established that the LA8 engaged in completely legal acts, the government continues to seek deportation of two defendants, Michel Shehadeh and Khader Hamide. In July 2005, the prosecution will attempt to retroactively apply the USA Patriot Act to argue that eighteen years ago, by distributing pro-Palestine magazines, the LA8 were in fact providing "material support" to terrorists.

The legal battle

During the 1980s, many of the LA8 were local student activists who devoted themselves to organizing around the Palestinian struggle for justice. Not unlike student activists today, they distributed magazines on Palestinian issues, held educational forums and raised money for charities in their home country of Palestine.

On Jan. 26, 1987, the eight were arrested in their Los Angeles homes. Like a scene out of a Hollywood movie, the FBI surrounded Shehadeh's home before dawn with armored vehicles and helicopters, sent in armed agents, and arrested him at gunpoint while he was watching over his infant son.

Under the pretext of having volumes of secret evidence that would justify the deportation of the eight, the Immigration and Naturalization Service kept the student activists shackled and in solitary confinement at a maximum-security detention facility for nearly a month. The eight were released in February 1988, however, when the immigration court refused to hear the secret evidence. Those documents were soon made available to the attorneys for the LA8, who found that despite nearly three years of extensive FBI surveillance, there was no evidence of illegal activity.

With the original case in shambles, the eight were then charged with violating the now-repealed McCarran-Walter Act for possessing literature advocating "worldwide communism." The government claimed that the LA8 were representatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Palestinian Marxist organization that was one of the original members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

The government has openly admitted the political nature of the charges. William Webster, the director of the FBI at the time of the arrests, testified before Congress that the eight had not engaged in criminal activity and could not have been legally arrested if they had been U.S. citizens. The 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, however, made it a deportable offense for an immigrant or naturalized citizen to engage in activities deemed "subversive" by the government. Used during the McCarthy period as a tool of repression against communists and other political activists, the act was repealed by Congress after a federal court declared it unconstitutional in 1989.

Still, the repeal of the McCarran-Walter Act did not put an end to the government's harassment. It renewed the campaign to deport Shehadeh and Hamide using "anti-terrorist" laws. On several occasions the federal courts ruled that the LA8 had not been involved in criminal or terrorist activities-instead, the government had violated the First Amendment by selectively targeting the eight for constitutionally protected political activities.

Immigrants without constitutional rights

The seesaw legal battle was not over yet. In 1996, Congress denied the federal courts the authority to hear selective enforcement challenges to deportations, effectively legalizing the selective deportation of immigrants. Then, in a major setback for the eight, the Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that immigrants are not entitled to basic constitutional rights such as free speech, due process, equal protection and protection against selective prosecution. The shocking decision opened the door for immigrants to be deported on the basis of their political views. The LA8 were called back into immigration court where they were barred from arguing the constitutional deficiencies of the government's case.

Currently, the government is using the case of the LA8 to test the most repressive provisions of the USA Patriot Act. In September of 2004, the government brought charges against Shehadeh and Hamide for the distribution of Palestinian magazines and for raising funds for humanitarian aid in Los Angeles more than twenty years ago. The United States now claims that even though these activities were clearly legal at the time and protected by the First Amendment, they are deportable offenses under the Patriot Act.

The Patriot Act allows the deportation of foreign nationals for providing "material support" to any group of two or more that has threatened to use or has used a weapon with the intent to endanger person or property. Under the Patriot Act, it will be Shehadeh and Hamide, not the government, who will have the burden to prove that they did not know their activities would further terrorist activities. At no point will the government need to prove that the distribution of magazines provided "material support" to terrorist activity.

Comment: Did you catch that? In true fascist style, under the Patriot Act, the US government is free to accuse any of its citizens of any crime without providing a shred of evidence for its case. On the contrary, the accused must prove that they are not guilty of the trumped up charges, and if they are unable to do so, then they are guilty as charged. Now that's what we call "freedom"!

By making it illegal to raise funds for charities in their home countries or to advocate for any political movement abroad, the Patriot Act essentially bars immigrants from the constitutional right to free speech and association. Although immigrants like Shehadeh and Hamide never forget the suffering endured in their homelands, they are told by the U.S. government that they cannot do anything to bring relief to their people.

The upcoming July immigration hearing could have a large impact on the future of the LA8. The government must prove that the Patriot Act can be applied to the case. Prosecutors must also decide whether they will try to use the ancient McCarran-Walter Act.

Popular support for LA8 grows

For eighteen years, a people's defense movement has stood by the LA8, demanding that all charges be dropped. One activist organization, the Committee for Justice, plans to renew its educational campaign and bring about awareness for this important case, including the launching of a website in support of the LA8, planning of educational forums and organizing support rallies for this important hearing in July.

In a recent interview, Shehadeh described his continued role in the forefront of the solidarity movement for Palestinian national liberation and the movements for peace and justice in the United States. As a key organizer in the mass movement opposing the war and occupation of Iraq, Shehadeh said, "To not do anything ... would have been very dehumanizing … The only way that I have felt empowered and have persevered is to feel that I was part of a movement of struggle for the very rights we are being denied.

Comment: Just in the case the point is not clear. While the US government struggles to portray Palestinians in the US as terrorists, it refuses to prosecute or extradite proven (probably US-sponsored) terrorist, Posada Carriles. You see, terrorism is a rather strange concept. When it involves someone murdering innocent people on behalf of the US, it is not really terrorism.

Click here to comment on this article

Israelis unleash Scream at protest
Jun. 6, 2005. 07:15 AM

New weapon knocks crowds off feet
Sound blast triggers nausea, dizziness

JERUSALEM-The knees buckle, the brain aches, the stomach turns. And suddenly, nobody feels like protesting anymore.

Such is the impact of the Scream, the latest weapon in the Israeli army's high-technology toolkit.

Launched Friday afternoon near the West Bank village of Bil'in, after another in the almost daily demonstrations against Israel's controversial security barrier turned violent, Israel's secret weapon lived up to its billing, by most accounts.

Witnesses describe a minute-long blast of sound emanating from a white Israeli military vehicle. Within seconds, protestors began falling to their knees, unable to maintain their balance.

An Israeli military source, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, confirmed the existence of the Scream, or Tze'aka in Hebrew, in an interview yesterday.

"The intention is to disperse crowds with sound pulses that create nausea and dizziness," the Israel Defence Force spokesperson told the Toronto Star.

"It is probably the cleanest device we have ever had, when you compare it to rubber bullets or tear gas. It is completely non-lethal. It has no adverse effects, unless someone is exposed to the sound for hours and hours."

IDF officials said the technology was researched and developed over a span of five years as a result of "lessons learned" during the Israeli army's withdrawal from Lebanon.

"We had a situation during the Lebanon withdrawal where we had hundreds of people storming IDF positions," a military source said. "As a direct result, it was decided we needed the means for a more benign way to control crowds."

Army officials said the Scream might become an element in its strategy against Jewish settlers and their supporters in August, when the Israeli government begins uprooting 25 settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.

"We will use what we need to use during the disengagement, depending on the circumstances on the ground," the official said. "Nobody can foretell the future."

The IDF is saying little about the science behind the Scream, citing classified information. But the technology is believed to be similar to the LRAD - Long-Range Acoustic Device - used by U.S. forces in Iraq as a means of crowd control.

Hillel Pratt, a professor of neurobiology specializing in human auditory response at Israel's Technion Institute, likens the effect of such technologies to "simulated seasickness."

"It doesn't necessarily have to be a loud sound. The combination of low frequencies at high intensities, for example, can create discrepancies in the inputs to the brain," said Pratt.

"Basically, the brain receives a signal that your body has lost balance. You feel like you are tilting even when you are not. The discrepancies can cause headaches and nausea."

Pratt said such phenomena sometimes occur by accident. He remembers one instance in which office staff at an Israeli bank building fell ill after the installation of an industrial air conditioning unit.

"When everyone became nauseous, tests were conducted to find a contaminant. But nothing was found. Finally, acoustic tests were conducted, and a certain low-frequency sound was discovered," said Pratt. "It made people sick, all because of the way the noise of the new air conditioner resonated in that particular space."

Israeli and Palestinian activists are unsure what to make of the IDF's new machine. Some who were witness to the deployment on Friday said Palestinians have already learned to neutralize the Scream by stuffing cotton in their ears.

"Just before the sounds began, a Palestinian man I know from Bil'in gave me cotton for my ears. He said, `The Israelis are going to make a noise. This will help,'" said Lisa Nessan, an International Solidarity Movement activist from Ramallah.

"How did he know to do that? Obviously it must have been used at a previous demonstration. Or the Palestinians wouldn't have been prepared for it this time.

"I was lucky because the cotton seemed to filter out the problem. But I saw other people around me sit down because they couldn't keep their balance. I really don't know what to make of it. I've never seen anything like it before."

Arik Asherman, a leader of Rabbis For Human Rights, was cautiously optimistic the Scream could make a positive difference.

"We've been arguing for years that Israel should engage non-lethal approaches to crowd control. If this thing actually works without doing any permanent damage, that's a step forward."

But Asherman said Israeli officials would be wise to use the Scream sparingly, lest it become a tool to "sanitize dissent."

"We need to remind ourselves the problem is not the demonstrations, but what the demonstrations are about," he said.

"If this makes it any more difficult for Palestinians to express themselves in a non-violent way, that is problematic. The best way to disperse demonstrations is to deal with the actual issues."

Comment: From the point of view of the Israeli government, anything that makes it any more difficult for Palestinians to express themselves in a non-violent way can only be a good thing. You see, when Palestinians engage in non-violent protest, it is more difficult for the IDF to justify shooting large numbers of them, although they have certainly made strenuous efforts to overcome this inhibition. Whatever the case, it is certainly wonderful to see neanderthal man and modern machine in such harmony. Truly we must be nearing the pinnacle of human evolution.

Click here to comment on this article

Firms tag workers to improve efficiency
David Hencke
Tuesday June 7, 2005
The Guardian

Workers in warehouses across Britain are being "electronically tagged" by being asked to wear small computers to cut costs and increase the efficient delivery of goods and food to supermarkets, a report revealed yesterday.

New US satellite- and radio-based computer technology is turning some workplaces into "battery farms" and creating conditions similar to "prison surveillance", according to a report from Michael Blakemore, professor of geography at Durham University.

The technology, introduced six months ago, is spreading rapidly, with up to 10,000 employees using it to supply household names such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Boots and Marks & Spencer.

Article continues
Now trade unionists want safeguards to be introduced to protect worker privacy.

Under the system workers are asked to wear computers on their wrists, arms and fingers, and in some cases to put on a vest containing a computer which instructs them where to go to collect goods from warehouse shelves.

The system also allows supermarkets direct access to the individual's computer so orders can be beamed from the store. The computer can also check on whether workers are taking unauthorised breaks and work out the shortest time a worker needs to complete a job.

Academics are worried that the system could make Britain the most surveyed society in the world. The country already has the largest number of street security cameras.

Martin Dodge, a researcher at the centre for advanced spatial analysis at University College London, said: "These de vices mark the total 'disappearance of disappearance' where the employee is unable to do anything without the machine knowing or monitoring."

In his report for the GMB union, Prof Blakemore said the new technology was raising a host of ethical issues, with the danger that the computer was taking over the human rather than humans using computers.

There is also concern that the new technology might create new industrial injuries because of the need for workers to make repetitive move ments with their arms and wrists, similar to repetitive strain injuries caused by overusing computers.

But the companies say the system makes the delivery of food more efficient, cuts out waste, reduces theft and can reorder goods more quickly.

One firm, Peacock Retail Group, claims workers like the system. The company, which has a modern centre in Nantgarw, south Wales, where employees have 28 wearable computers and six mounted on trucks, says the system has a positive impact on team morale. "Everybody likes the wearables because they are comfortable and easy to use. The result is the team finds it easier to do the job," it says on the company website.

A spokeswoman for Tesco last night insisted that the company was not using the technology to monitor the staff and said it was making employees' work easier and reducing the need for paper.

But at the GMB's annual conference in Newcastle yesterday one of the union's national officers, Paul Campbell, said: "We are having reports of people walking out of jobs after a few days' work, in some cases just a few hours. They are all saying that they don't like the job because they have no input. They just followed a computer's instructions."

Paul Kenny, acting general secretary, said: "The GMB is no Luddite organisation but we will not stand idly by to see our members reduced to automatons. The use of this technology needs to be redesigned to be an aid to the worker rather than making the worker its slave.

"The supermarkets that rely on just-in-time shelf-filling rather than holding buffer stocks are incredibly profitable companies. They can well afford to operate a humanised supply team."

Other monitoring devices are being developed in the US, including ones that can check on the productivity of secretaries by measuring the number of key strokes on their word processors; satellite technology is also being developed to monitor productivity in manufacturing jobs.

Two London firms are considering using satellites to direct sandwich board holders, making sure they are not shirking and moving them to areas with more people.

Comment: Ah yes, more wonders of modern technology, helping to make life easier and, if possible, doing away with those needless human beings altogether.

Click here to comment on this article

Defense Tech

Just in case you were wondering whether or not the Pentagon was really serious about knocking other countries' satellites out of orbit, comes this item from C4ISR Journal. The Defense Department, it seems, has "launched a series of exercises designed to sharpen its understanding and management of counter-satellite operations."

The three-year Joint Space Control Operations-Negation (JSCO-N) program will help the Pentagon figure out which satellite-killers to buy, and determine which procedures to follow when knocking the orbiters out.

According to a report from the Pentagon's testing and evaluation office, the Defense Department wants to "target an adversary's space capability by using a variety of permanent and/or reversible means to achieve five possible effects: deception, disruption, denial, degradation and destruction..."

"The JSCO-N effort includes three 'field tests,'" C4ISR Journal's Jeremy Singer notes. "The first of those, Terminal Fury 05, was scheduled to take place in December, according to the report. It was to be followed by Terminal Fury 06 and Unified Endeavor 06."

Not surprisingly, the Pentagon refused to give details on the exercises. But, as Singer observes, "the Air Force has for at least the past few years been working on systems for neutralizing enemy satellite capabilities. The service announced in October 2004 that one such system, designed to disrupt satellite radio-transmissions, is now being fielded." In 2003, the Air Force released its "Transformation Flight Plan," which spelled out a number of anti-orbiter weapons, including "ground-based lasers, air-launched missiles and space-based radio frequency transmitters capable of disrupting or destroying other satellites."

Click here to comment on this article

Greenspan adds to yuan pressure
Tuesday, 7 June, 2005

US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has added his weight to calls for China to allow the yuan to trade freely against other currencies.

America has long argued that China artificially pegs the yuan below its true market value, so as to give Chinese exports an unfair advantage.

Mr Greenspan said he was sure that China would remedy the situation "reasonably soon".

Yet his Chinese opposite number Zhou Xiaochuan said it was some time away. [...]

'Domestic considerations'

Yet Mr Zhou insisted in response that China had to take into account its domestic economic needs, as well as the requirements of the global economy.

"As for the building up of international pressure, some of it is not out of economic considerations, some of it is politically based.

"This is not a favourable environment for China to put forward its reform and for its decision-making process."

Mr Zhou said the current fixed exchange rate helped maintain China's high levels of employment.

Click here to comment on this article

Finance ministers defend euro
Monday, 6 June, 2005

The euro zone has seen low interest rates Eurozone finance ministers have dismissed suggestions from Italian ministers that Italy might adopt another currency.

They rejected talk of a euro break-up as "absurd" and described suggestions that the Italian lira could be brought back as "stupidities".

Dutch finance minister Gerrit Zalm said he did not think it was a serious option for Italy to leave the eurozone.

"It would be far too costly in terms of interest rates."

Euro support

If we would discuss all sorts of stupidities.. we would have to add meetings to our meetings Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg Prime Minister

"The euro is always safe, no doubt" added the Spanish finance minister Pedro Soles.

Support also came from Austrian finance minister Karl-Heinz Crasser, who described the euro as "one of the biggest successes that we have with monetary union."

Two Italian ministers, Roberto Maroni, social affairs minister and Roberto Calderoli, reform minister, both members of the eurosceptic Northern League, have mooted the possibility of adopting a different currency.

Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg Prime Minister, said "if we would discuss all sorts of stupidities... we would have to add meetings to our meetings." [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Nepal land mine kills 37 on bus
Monday, June 6, 2005 Updated at 5:15 AM EDT
Associated Press

Kathmandu - At least 37 people were killed and dozens more wounded Monday when a crowded bus detonated a land mine planted by suspected communist rebels in Nepal's south, an army official said.

The bus, which was packed with passengers, was ripped apart as it was travelling on a rural highway near the village of Badarmude, an army official said on condition of anonymity. Army officials are not allowed to reveal their names in Nepal for security reasons. Thirty-seven people died and 72 others were wounded, some of them critically, the official said, adding that everyone on the bus was either killed or hurt in the explosion.

Police suspect the landmine was planted by Maoist rebels, who have been fighting since 1996 to abolish Nepal's constitutional monarchy and set up a communist state. The guerrillas claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong. More than 11,500 people have died in the fighting.

Click here to comment on this article

Woman killed for 'playing TV too loud'
June 6, 2005 - 2:06PM - AAP

A Sydney man stabbed his flatmate to death because she would not turn down the television or stereo while he was trying to sleep, a court has been told.

Jeffrey Dunn today pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to murdering his flatmate Jacqueline Dowd at Cartwright, in western Sydney, on March 12, 2004.

However, the 60-year-old pleaded guilty to manslaughter due to provocation.

Crown Prosecutor Paul Conlon, SC, said Dunn told police during an interview that he killed Ms Dowd, 42, because she would not turn the television or stereo off while he was trying to sleep.

"I tried to sleep and she turned the television on, then she turned the stereo on," Mr Conlon said Dunn told police.

"I said, 'look Jacqui if you don't shut up I'm going to kill you'."

The court was told the pair had lived together on and off since 1996 but the relationship was platonic.

Mr Conlon said they both drank heavily and on a daily basis, and at the time of her death Ms Dowd had a blood alcohol reading of 0.33.

The trial continues.

Click here to comment on this article

Earthquake jolts eastern Turkey
Monday 06 June 2005, 13:32 Makka Time, 10:32 GMT

An earthquake measuring 5.7 on the open-ended Richter scale has jolted the Kurdish-populated mountainous region in eastern Turkey, injuring 37 people.The epicentre of the quake, which struck at 10:41 am (0741 GMT), was in the town of Karliova in the province of Bingol, which was hit by a series of tremors measuring up to 5.9 on the Richter scale in March, the Istanbul-based Kandilli observatory said.

"Thirty-seven people with minor injuries were treated in hospitals," Bingol Governor Vehbi Avuc told NTV television.

"There was much panic and we are now trying to provide our citizens with psychological support."

The tremor destroyed a number of buildings that were already damaged in the earthquakes in March, Avuc said. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Rains leave 24 dead, more than 29,000 homeless in northeastern Brazil
(AFP) Jun 04, 2005

RIO DE JANEIRO - Three days of heavy rains have left 24 people dead and more than 29,000 homeless in Brazil's northeastern state of Pernambuco, authorities said Saturday.

A total of 134 homes were destroyed completely and 1,200 more were damaged by downpours that soaked the state June 1-2, said state civil defense major Luiz Filho.

Ten of the state's 185 urban jurisdictions were in states of emergency, he said.

Click here to comment on this article

Dissapearing Arctic Lakes Linked To Climate Change
(SPX) Jun 05, 2005

Fairbanks AK - Continued arctic warming may be causing a decrease in the number and size of Arctic lakes. The issue is the subject of a paper published in the June 3 issue of the journal "Science."

The paper, titled, "Disappearing Arctic Lakes" is the result of a comparison of satellite data taken of Siberia in the early 1970s to data from 1997-2004. Researchers, including Larry Hinzman with the Water and Environmental Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, tracked changes of more than 10,000 large lakes over 200,000 square miles.

"This is the first paper that demonstrates that the changes we are seeing in Alaskan lakes in response to a warming climate is also occurring in Siberia," said Hinzman, who has also compared satellite data of tundra ponds on the Seward Peninsula near Council, Alaska and found that the surface pond area there had decreased over the last 50 years.

In this latest study, comparing data from 1973 with findings from 1997-98, the total number of large lakes decreased by around 11 percent. While many did not disappear completely they shrank significantly. The overall loss of lake surface area was a loss of approximately 6 percent. In addition, 125 lakes vanished completely and are now re-vegetated. [...]

Click here to comment on this article


Coast leaving scientists with a sinking feeling
Houston Chronicle
June 5, 2005, 6:28PM

By century's end, much of southern Louisiana may sink into the Gulf of Mexico. The Texas coastline, including Galveston, could soon follow.

That's the sobering - and controversial - conclusion of a new report published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that finds the northern Gulf of Mexico is sinking much faster than geologists thought.

The report centers on the humble benchmark, a small metal disk bolted to the ground, that provides a standard elevation above sea level for land surveying and mapping as well as determining flood-prone areas.

But there's one problem with benchmarks: They don't give reliable elevation readings if they're sinking along with everything else.

That's what the geologists who wrote the NOAA report say is happening in Louisiana: The yardstick is broken. Instead of minimal geologic subsidence along most of the Louisiana coast, as previously thought, the state's entire coastal region is sinking at least 5 feet every century.

And although a number of local officials disagree with the report's conclusions about Texas, here's a scary thought: Similar forces could well be at work just a few miles south of Houston.

"Subsidence doesn't stop at the Texas border," said Roy Dokka, a co-author of the NOAA report and a Louisiana State University geologist.

A colleague of Dokka's in Houston, the editor of the Houston Geological Society Bulletin, is more blunt in his assessment of the report. "Galveston," says geologist Arthur Berman, "is history."

Flooding a major threat

The report already has ignited debate in Louisiana. If that state's coast continues to sink, its multibillion-dollar plan to protect coastal cities and wetlands from flooding has targeted the wrong problem, erosion. Every building on land certified as safe from flooding may, in fact, be in danger if Louisiana's benchmarks are flawed. And levees thought to protect New Orleans from a Category 3 hurricane might fail even if a moderate Category 2 storm struck the Big Easy.

Texas could have similar problems if its benchmark elevations are flawed. The National Hurricane Center bases its storm-surge models on benchmarks, as do emergency planners trying to determine when key evacuation routes might flood.

Houston felt the problem acutely during Tropical Storm Allison when benchmarks indicated that certain areas, such as some Texas Medical Center buildings, should not have flooded even in the torrent of rain produced by that storm.

"We know that a lot of benchmarks in Texas are inaccurate," said Gary Jeffress, a mapping specialist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Researchers: Dolphins use sponges as tools
Monday, June 6, 2005

WASHINGTON -- A group of dolphins living off the coast of Australia apparently teach their offspring to protect their snouts with sponges while foraging for food in the sea floor.

Researchers say it appears to be a cultural behavior passed on from mother to daughter, a first for animals of this type, although such learning has been seen in other species.

The dolphins, living in Shark Bay, Western Australia, use conically shaped whole sponges that they tear off the bottom, said Michael Kruetzen, lead author of a report on the dolphins in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"Cultural evolution, including tool use, is not only found in humans and our closest relatives, the primates, but also in animals that are evolutionally quite distant from us. This convergent evolution is what is so fascinating," said Kruetzen.

Researchers suspect the sponges help the foraging dolphins avoid getting stung by stonefish and other critters that hide in the sandy sea bottom, just as a gardener might wear gloves to protect the hands.

Kruetzen and colleagues analyzed 13 "spongers" and 172 "non-spongers" and concluded that the practice seems to be passed along family lines, primarily from mothers to daughters. [...]

Click here to comment on this article

Meteor shower sparks calls to police
07 June 2005

A meteor shower was visible throughout New Zealand last night, prompting calls to police about distress flares.

Inspector Kristy Meates said 10 calls were logged between 7pm and 7.40pm in the central and lower North Island. More calls were reported elsewhere.

Callers claimed to have seen "greeny-blue flares", but distress flares are red. The reaction was similar to that on August 3 last year when people reported seeing fireballs. They were thought to have been from the Perseid meteor shower, associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle.

Carter Observatory's senior astronomer Brian Carter said meteor showers were uncommon in June but not unheard of. They were made up of space matter entering Earth's atmosphere.

Such events were spectacular to watch but held greater significance if people saw meteors landing on the ground - something which happened rarely.

Click here to comment on this article

Six minutes of exercise 'as good as six hours'
June 7, 2005

Six minutes of intense exercise a week does as much good as six hours, according to a study.

People could cut their workouts from two hours a day, three times a week, to just two minutes a day and achieve the same results, claim researchers.

The two-minute workout requires cycling furiously on an exercise bike in four 30-second bursts.

Professor Martin Gibala, the author of the study, said: "The whole excuse that 'I don't have enough time to exercise' is directly challenged by these findings.

"This has the potential to change the way we think about keeping fit."

The study, published in this month's Journal of Applied Physiology, involved 23 men and women aged between 25 and 35 who were tested to see how long it took them to cycle 18.6 miles.

One group cycled for two hours a day at a moderate pace. The second biked harder for 10 minutes a day in 60-second bursts.

The last group cycled at an intense sprint for two minutes in 30-second bursts, with four minutes of rest in between each sprint.

At the end of the two weeks each of the three groups was asked to repeat the 18.6 mile cycling test. Every subject was found to have improved to the same degree.

Further tests showed that the rate at which the subjects' muscles were able to absorb oxygen also improved to the same level.

Click here to comment on this article

And finally...

Custom Officials Find 51 Live Fish Under Woman's Skirt
POSTED: 9:59 am EDT June 6, 2005

SYDNEY, Australia -- There must have been something fishy about the way she walked.

Customs officials said Monday they stopped a woman as she arrived Friday in the southern city of Melbourne on a flight from Singapore and found 51 live tropical fish allegedly hidden in a specially designed apron under her skirt.

"During the search customs officers became suspicious after hearing 'flipping' noises coming from the vicinity of her waist," the Australian Customs Service said in a press release. "An examination revealed 15 plastic water-filled bags holding fish allegedly concealed inside a purpose-built apron."

The species of fish was not immediately known, but customs officials warned they could carry diseases that could decimate Australian fish if they escaped into local rivers.

Customs officers will charge the woman once they establish what species the fish are. If convicted of smuggling wildlife, she faces a fine of up to U.S. $83,617 and could also get a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Click here to comment on this article

Readers who wish to know more about who we are and what we do may visit our portal site Quantum Future

Remember, we need your help to collect information on what is going on in your part of the world!

We also need help to keep the Signs of the Times online.

Send your comments and article suggestions to us Email addess

Fair Use Policy

Contact Webmaster at signs-of-the-times.org
Cassiopaean materials Copyright ©1994-2014 Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk. All rights reserved. "Cassiopaea, Cassiopaean, Cassiopaeans," is a registered trademark of Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk.
Letters addressed to Cassiopaea, Quantum Future School, Ark or Laura, become the property of Arkadiusz Jadczyk and Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Republication and re-dissemination of our copyrighted material in any manner is expressly prohibited without prior written consent.