Thursday, June 09, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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This Reuters photo of June 4th carried the caption: "Friday June 3, A boy lies in Balad, Iraq, hospital after he got wounded in a suicide car bomb attack on a Sufi religious ceremony."

Of course, the irony of a young, innocent Iraqi victim of Bush's "war on terror" lying in an Iraq hospital with a US Flag emblazoned across his shirt was either lost on, or ignored by, Reuters.

Controversy, Conjecture and Conspiracy Theories
By Khadija Abdul Qahaar

In the three and one half years that this so-called war on terrorism has raged on, I continued to be utterly dismayed at the amount of controversy, conjecture and conspiracy theories that continue to be embraced by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Comment: While the Jihad Unspun website sometimes does a good job reporting on stories in Iraq and Palestine that are deliberately left out of western mainstream news sources, this biased and factually incorrect editorial does a real disservice to Muslims the world over by downplaying the very real conspiracy between the Mossad and CIA in their creation of al-Qaeda and complicity in the 9/11 attacks.

While it is safe to say that most people don’t believe the US military and the mainstream press that dutifully follows along, it is astounding when facts are presented, that a whole host of chatter, gossip and speculation continues even from those who claim to be among the most pious Muslims.

Comment: Notice the author gives a great deal of credence to "the facts" as his website presents them, but fails to acknowledge the many other pieces of data that overwhelmingly support the "conspiracy allegations" that he so vehemently denies.

From the time I started JUS, not a week goes by that we don’t receive an email from a Muslim or a non-Muslim that continues to believe that Sheikh Osama Bin Laden is connected to the CIA, that 911 was a CIA (or Mossad) operation and that Al-Qaeda doesn’t exist! While we may be able to justify why non-Muslims think this way, the Muslims have got to stop believing this conspiracy nonsense!

Comment: Speaking of facts, perhaps the author is unaware of the following stories printed in the alternative media;

His first allegation of "conspiracy nonsense" has to do with Sheikh Osama Bin Laden being connected to the CIA.

Bin Laden's, CIA roots. How We Created Our Own Terror

His second allegation of "conspiracy nonsense" is directed towards the idea that both the Mossad and CIA had a hand in the September 11th attacks.

The MOSSAD Happy Dance

His final allegation of "conspiracy nonsense" has to do with the claim that al-Qaeda doesn't exist. While there seems little doubt that an organization called "al-Qaeda" does exist, as a creation of the CIA, it certainly doesn't exist in the way it is presented to the public by western news sources.

Debunk the myth of Al Qaeda

The Power of Nightmares

While the Panac document give us real clues to the American agenda, over the past three years we have translated and archived under our Inside Bin Laden’s Department, hundreds of pages of material so that Muslims and non-Muslims understand where and how this conflict started, with some material dating back to 1994.

Comment: Here we assume the author is referring to the PNAC (or Project for a New American Century) document called Rebuilding America's Defenses which outlined the future Middle East invasion and calls for a "new Pearl Harbour" type event to get the public behind the American war machine.

The conspiracy theories that have been spun are easily sold to the Muslims; they are buying it hook, line and sinker because its is a means they can sit on their rear ends and not have to participate in the battles that are raging while still benefiting from a higher living standard and better lifestyle outside the Middle East.

Interestingly, the Muslims in the Middle East blame Mossad and the Muslims in the West blame the CIA. Neither is correct. The Al-Qaeda Strategic Plan To the Year 2020 (currently on our front page) clearly shows that they have a plan too and this plan dates back to Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s Declaration of War in 1996, long before the Panac document!

Comment: 1996 is four years before the PNAC document was written. However, the CIA was training and financing bin Laden and his al-Qaeda fighters way back in the 1980's when the Afghani's were at war with the Russians.

The fact that the US hasn't caught Bin Laden is because they aren't looking.

Comment: Horse hockey! They haven't caught Bin Laden because he is far more valuable as a propaganda tool and wandering free as the ultimate boogeyman designed to frighten the sleeping American populace, than he would ever be caught and put behind bars. In fact, odds are, if he is still a CIA asset, they are probably well aware of exactly where he is right now.

Of course they want war; the US is so arrogant that they think they can use "terrorism" to take over the Middle East but thank goodness a few Muslims understand their obligations. Alhamdulilah, we have the soldiers of Allah and Allah is the best of planners.

Even when presented with direct facts, the Muslim will cry conspiracy. Last week’s press release by Al-Qaeda in Iraq stating the Sheikh Abu Musab Zarqawi had been injured is a prime case and point. Al-Qaeda has always been factual in their statements but of course the US military, the DOD, the MOD, mainstream press and even the Muslims went to town on this. When news finally broke yesterday that Al-Zarqawi was back in command of the jihad in Iraq, it barely made news at all and as I write this there are still reports that Zarqawi is dead! While it is easier to spin a story than it is to retract it, why is it that some still believe the incorrect?

We all know the US war on Afghanistan was planned before 911, we know there was no WMD in Iraq, we know that Syria, Lebanon and Iran are next and we know that war is coming to the whole Middle East to establish greater Israel. And we all know the "war on terror" is a means by which the Fathers of Terrorism can accomplish this. After all the lies that have been told, how can any sane person believe that the US government, Britain, its allies who should have long ago packed their bags, are telling them the truth and how can they believe a feudal mainstream press?

Ted Turner once said that the days of big production crews would end and today’s politically controlled media would end because you and I with DVD cams would be out on the street capturing the real news and he was absolutely right. If you want real news, you don’t go to the US military that have a 50 year history of lying or mainstream news that care about what their stock is worth from advertising revenue, not the reader. Yet even now, with uncensored news sources, all the history of where the conflict came from published, footage and first hand reports, how can Muslims continue to insult the Mujahideen by believing these engagements are carried out by the CIA or Mossad or refer to all those defending Muslims lands as "resistance fighters"? [...]

It really isn’t rocket science to know that something is wrong when people start flying jets into skyscrapers but it is surely much easier to cope with if we blame it on "terrorists’ or dream up conspiracy theories rather than look at where the breakdown has come the resulted in these incidents. The worse part is, the longer America keeps killing the more hatred is being fueled. This cowboy mentality to resolving problems is incomprehensible. In fact, the West as a whole dismisses that they have had any hand in creating the backlash of violence that can directly be attributed to a wicked American foreign policy aimed at the resource rich Middle East that is specifically designed to further the military industrial complex. [...]

The conspiracy theories are hogwash and it’s time to support our Mujahideen brothers as Allah commands us to. If by presenting the real truth of this war labels JUS as a "mouthpiece for CIA propaganda" because the Muslims refuse to believe that Sheikh Osama bin Laden does not work for the CIA or Mossad, that 911 was not the work of the US government or Mossad or that Sheikh Abu Musab Zarqawi is not a mythical character, then it's time to take a reality check.

If at least one Muslim comes to know the truth and rises to their obligation through our work, then I know in my own conscience that I, and those with me, are doing our part to serve to the best of our ability the Lord of the Worlds, which is collectively, our first and only consideration.

Comment: It appears that by downplaying very real conspiracies as "nonsense", and encouraging western Muslims to support Osama's jihad against the west, that is exactly what Jihad Unspun most likely is; "a mouthpiece for CIA propaganda"...

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Disinformation: CIA Posing as Al-Qaeda?
08/21/03: ICH

(Liberty Forum) This professionally managed website [Jihad Unspun] with eyecatching design and graphics and daily news features, video store and reporters emerged on the net sometime after Sept. 11th 2001.

What really struck me as odd was all the professional glitz of the website as well as its deliberate attempt to look Arabic . . .

From what I know of pro-jihad websites, they operate on a shoestring budget, provided they happen to find volunteers and donors who are willing to risk being deported and detained. They get kicked off from ISP to ISP and use cheap frontpage templates. Real Jihad websites try to imitate the West in web design rather than coming up with colors that seem to resemble the robes of a sand dune shape and Arabic shaped English text. One such authentic website was the one run by a well known Saudi dissident, More about Azzam later.

Now getting back to Jihadunspun (JUS), the Related links tab first displayed the address of some Muslim name in British Columbia Canada. So right in our backyard we have a semi Al Qaeda operation which unlike Azzam doesnt even lose its ISP, let alone get shut down.

Next, take a closer look at the website.....This is a very sophisticated operation and I am sure that even some of its own Muslim reporters have no clue what is going on. . . .

But again, as the graphic on its homepage portrays Bush on one side and Binladen on the other. For an agitated Muslim as well as reactionary goyim, the NWO reinforces the assertion it made on Sept.11th by bringing down those towers by "heated jet fuel ": The war of civilisations is on : Binladen after grandly bringing down the towers now seeks to further his Jihad on the West.

Secondly, unlike other genuine Jihad sites, there is not even a whisper of conspiracy regarding Sept 11th on this site. In other words,

1. The goyim must continue hunting "Al Qaeda"

2 The muslims should resume the "jihad" on the West inaugurated by Binladen.

OR IN OTHER WORDS, NWO/ JEWISH CABBAL/ ILLUMINATI /SATAN/ CIA AGENDA! Notice how the tab "The players" has only Bush Binladen and Co. whereas the Real players are simply missing.

There is also another purpose. Suppose Bush is having a real unpopular moment. Jihadunspun could furnish another lab doctored video/audio recording of Binladen urging war on Americans. This will serve to distract and at the same time emphasise the need for a war. With its Al Qaeda credentials, few would doubt the source.

Here is what I found in a Chicago Tribune article

Some Web watchers, including Katz, believe the U.S. government may be using the Internet jihad to spy. They speculate that Jihad Unspun, an English-language site that appears to promote terror, may be a CIA creation, designed to find out who visits or orders videos glorifying bin Laden.

A lengthy notice on Jihad Unspun denies the allegations, saying the site is "a labor of love for Allah." Bruce Kennedy, identified on the site as editor in chief, said by e-mail that Jihad Unspun's operators "are not doing any interviews with American press at this time." A CIA spokesman denied the site has any connection to the agency.

Labour of love for Allah? Doesnt that sound a bit too wannabe muslim? Trust me, the muslims I know have Allah an established factor. They dont take in this "pleasing the emperor style which more depicts stereotypes of muslims.Why do I get the same feeling when I bumped into a male posing as 16/f/nyc?

Another tidbit.....a buddy of mine started liking JUS and decided to get involved on its fancy forums. Whatever got into him, the first article he posted was about How the CIA backed Saddam. Next day, he discovers he is a non-entity! no invalid p/w or email simply says he is not a member! If you guys have time, try it out. Post some hard stuff on the CIA and tell me here how long you lasted.

Here is some interesting stuff I found in the contact information under domain name lookup.

Jihad Unspun
Bruce Kennedy, #300 - 1497 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, BC V7T1B8 Canada
1 604 913 2241, Fax: 1 604 913 2240

Interesting.....who is Bruce Kennedy? That would be a name I would like to keep as a handle. Well, as I have said before, some time back there was a muslim name and address in British Columbia (Canada). It seems the muslim paypal screwed it up or something so now they got this all white American convert to try explain where all the expertise and $$$ are coming from.

The website is hosted by two servers, one is a rather unheard of server in NWO backyard Canada
GT Group Telecom Services Corp. -Pacific
20 Bay Street, Suite 700
Toronto ON

Apart from, These creatures even have $$$ to keep registered in their name on another Canadian server
Shaw Communications Inc.
Suite 800
630 - 3rd Ave. SW

Now do you suppose These Canadian Companies would be interested in hosting pro-Al Qaeda websites?

In addition, both servers are hosted through YOURGALAXY.COM which seems to be some newfangled business AGAIN in British Columbia Canada for providing streaming video support for JUS Binladen videos! Here is what I found about YOURGALAXY.COM

E-Tech Computers Inc.
#3080 - 8888 Odlin Cres.
Richmond, British Columbia V6X 3Z8

Boy thats a lot of $$$.....if JUS is a genuine Jihad Site, then the Saudis must be pouring in money like sand.

Now here's what happened lately..... Genuine Jihad site smelt something wrong in wannabe jihadi site JUS and sounded the alarm by publishing articles titled "JUS is CIA". Since Azzam is widely read, it had to be closed, or it would be the end of an expensive well orchestrated operation. For reasons unknown, was instantly shut down and has been offline since then.

In order to counter the damage done by, JUS published some damage control, which can be best described as the work of some other "Bruce Kennedy" whose experience with Islamic Arabs is Lawrence of Arabia movies and Tintin comics. Dont be impressed by the dropping of Koranic verses and Arabic lines. You can get Pakistani muslims@ 5$ an hour to do that. I am posting the whole article just in case JUS deletes it from its website noticing clumsiness.


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The Fix Was In

Did Bush Deliberately Deceive America About Iraq?
June 6, 2005

We have reached a point where all but the most delusional enthusiasts of the Iraq war have now acknowledged that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion and likely for over a decade preceding the war. Fox News and the President were slow to acknowledge this fact, but now have.

Unfortunately, it seems this rare consensus has lulled many into failing to ask the follow-up question: why were the President and other high-ranking administration officials so definitive in their statements that Iraq possessed WMD? This question is not of a merely historical significance: we deserve to know whether these statements were the result of a "massive intelligence failure" as some have contended or a deliberate deception of the Congress and the American people.

Essentially, the question boils down to what lawyers call "mens rea". Before a defendant can be convicted of a crime the judge or jury must find not only that the defendant committed the wrongful act but also did so with a state of mind indicating culpability. In the case of a fraud, the jury must find that there was intent to deceive. In the case of Iraq, the weight of evidence continues to accumulate indicating that the American people and Congress may well have been the victims of a deliberate deception.

On page A26 of the Sunday, May 22 edition of the Washington Post, under the headline "Prewar Findings Worried Analysts," we learned that four days before the President made the now retracted claim that Iraq was trying to buy "significant quantities" of uranium from Africa, the National Security Council thought this case was so weak that it put out a frantic call for new intelligence.

In the same article, we learned that before an Oct. 7, 2002 Presidential speech in which the President claimed there was a potential threat to the U.S. by Iraq through unmanned aircraft "that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons," and a contemporaneous claim to Congress by Vice President Cheney and then-CIA Director George Tenet that this was the "smoking gun" justifying the war, " the CIA was still uncertain whether the [source of the information] was lying."

On page A1 of the Saturday, May 28 edition of the Washington Post, under the headline "Analysts Behind Iraq Intelligence Were Rewarded", we learned that the analysts who pushed the now discredited claim that Iraq's purchase of aluminum tubes was for the purpose of furthering a nuclear weapons program, have been richly rewarded for this conspicuous failure, receiving job performance rewards in each of the three years since this grave error.

The same article quotes "some current and former officials" as generally stating "the episode shows how the administration has failed to hold people accountable for mistakes on prewar intelligence."

Early this morning on the Associated Press wire, under the headline "Bolton Said to Orchestrate Unlawful Firing," we learn that the President's nominee to be Ambassador to the United Nations once again exercised his unique diplomatic talents, flying "to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved." The diplomat's sin? He was "trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war."

Thus, absent any contradictory evidence, in the past two weeks alone (leaving out the reports of the last three years), we have a pretty clear pattern. This Administration had a cover story, namely that a clear and present danger to the United States was posed by Iraq's WMD, for something they knew they wanted to do: go to war with Iraq. Those who brought forward the weight of evidence disputing these claims were first ignored and later punished. Those who assisted in the cover story were rewarded.

Sounds like the intelligence and facts were being "fixed" around the policy, as the Downing Street Minutes claim. That sounds like deliberate deception to me.

John Conyers represents the Michigan's 14th Congressional District.

Comment: It seems that the pressure on the Bush administration is mounting...

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Papers Reach Iraq Boiling Point
By Greg Mitchell
Editor & Publisher
Posted June 8, 2005

Many of the nation's newspaper editorialists have roused themselves from seeming acceptance of the continuing slaughter in Iraq to voice outright condemnation of the war.

Suddenly there seems to be something in the air -- the smell of death? Or something in the water -- blood? In any case, this past week, widely scattered newspaper editorialists roused themselves from seeming acceptance of the continuing slaughter in Iraq to voice, for the first time in many cases, outright condemnation of the war.

While still refusing to use the "W" word in offering advice to Dubya -- that is, "withdrawal" -- some at least are finally using the "L" word, for lies.

Memorial Day seemed to bring out the anger in some editorial writers, who at that time are normally afraid to say anything about a current conflict that might seem to slight the brave sacrifices of men and women, past and present. Maybe it was the steadily growing Iraqi and American death count, or the increasing examples of White House "disassembling" (to quote the president this week), or the horror stories emerging from Gitmo.

Or perhaps it's a hidden trend that might have even more impact than the rest: the writing on the wall spelled out by plunging military recruitment rates. That only adds to the sense that, overall, the Iraq adventure has made America far less safe in this world.

For whatever reason, it's possible that more than a few editorial pages may finally be on the verge of saying "enough is enough." Perhaps they might even catch up with their readers, as the latest Gallup polls find that 57% feel the war is "not worth it," and nearly as many want us to start pulling out troops, not sending more of them.

There were numerous signs of editorial unrest in the past week, too many to cite. The Sun of Baltimore, in its Memorial Day editorial, declared: "If the president truly wished to honor their memory, he would demonstrate to the nation that the government that has botched so much of the war at least has some inkling as to how to draw it to a successful conclusion -- so that the dead will not have died in vain." The Minneapolis Star-Tribune called Iraq "an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns. ... President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes."

Steve Chapman, syndicated columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune (and generally considered a conservative), on Thursday declared: "The dilemma the U.S. faces in fighting the insurgents is that military methods are not enough to solve the problem and may make it worse. If the movement is a reaction to the U.S. military presence, keeping American troops in Iraq amounts to fighting a fire with kerosene.

"That explains why the longer we stay, the more suicide attacks we face. And it suggests that the only feasible strategy is to withdraw from Iraq and turn the fight over to the Iraqi government. The alternative is to stay and keep doing what we've been doing for the last two years. But that approach has shown no signs of fostering success. It only promises to raise the cost of failure."

But perhaps the most powerful denunciation came from an unlikely source, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. An editorial in that Hearst paper this past Wednesday, just after Memorial Day, really thundered, and deserves reprinting here:

President Bush was among the 260,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery when he said it. But it was clear Monday that the president was referring to the more than 1,650 Americans killed to date in Iraq when he said, 'We must honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives; by defeating the terrorists.'

Bush insists on clinging to the thoroughly discredited notion that there was any connection between the old Iraqi regime -- no matter how lawless and brutal -- and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

U.S. military action against an Afghan regime that harbored al-Qaida was a legitimate response to the 9/11 attacks. The invasion of Iraq was not.

As of Memorial Day 2003, Bush had declared major combat operations at an end, predicted that weapons of mass destruction would be found and that U.S. forces were in the process of stabilizing Iraq. One hundred sixty U.S. troops had died.

The U.S. death toll has grown more than tenfold. No weapons of mass destruction were found. More than 700 Iraqis have been killed since Iraq's new government was formed April 28.

Bush said of the insurgents at a news conference yesterday, 'I believe the Iraqi government is plenty capable of dealing with them.'

Of course, this is the same president that assured the world that military intervention in Iraq was a last resort and that the United States would make every effort to avoid war through diplomacy. Giving lie to that as well is the so-called Downing Street War Memo, which shows that as early as July 2002, 'Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD ... the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.'

Perhaps all presidents' remarks in military graveyards are by nature self-serving. But few have been so callow as the president's using the deaths of U.S. troops in his unjustified war as justification for its continuance.

At the close of the editorial online, the paper polled readers, asking if they thought it was "time to begin the careful but quick withdrawal of American forces from Iraq?" These highly unscientific surveys usually should be ignored. But the result in this case, from over 2,600 votes, was so one-sided it deserves mention: Nearly 92% called for the beginning of a pullout.

Comment: It is difficult to see how the Neocons will be able to continue their war on terror without some major event to convince the masses to get back into line behind Bush.

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Liberate America!

25 Reasons to Impeach George W. Bush
June 6, 2005

Among other things, the U.S. Declaration of Independence is a lengthy bill of particulars against the "abuses and usurpations" of King George III. If the revolutionary founders had had their own government, Jefferson would have used his writing skills to frame an impeachment bill. Among the "abuses" T.J. cited was the King's refusal to "Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good." If the colonists were riled enough over taxes on stamps and tea to shake the world with revolution, what will their inheritors do with the "usurpations" of our present Chief Executive? As Jefferson wrote, "Let facts be submitted to a candid world":

1. He lied us into war in Iraq. According to the U.S. media-ignored British "Downing Street Memo," he "fixed" intelligence around a pre-determined policy of preemptive war. Results: 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths; about 1800 U.S. soldiers dead in two wars, 100s of thousands wounded and traumatized.

2. Under his watch, the U.S. suffered its worst terrorist attack on its soil. He opposed an official investigation, then stalled for months on testifying before a hand-picked committee. Finally testified behind closed doors.

3. He was "elected" under dubious circumstances in 2000.

4. He was "elected" under dubious circumstances in 2004.

5. He has approved (and his Attorney General Gonzales has re-defined) torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and elsewhere, while simultaneously opposing the International Criminal Court established to check such abuses. According to Amnesty International, the United States has established a Soviet-style "gulag" of torture around the world.

6. He failed to support the Kyoto Protocols, reducing greenhouse gases, but worked to open up Alaska's ANWR to drilling-despoiling an eco-system and increasing greenhouse gases.

7. He chose Halliburton toady Dick Cheney to be his running mate-twice.

8. He has attempted to pack the courts with ideologue-judges intent on overthrowing Roe v. Wade, and institutionalizing the police-state abuses of Patriot Acts I and II.

9.His "No Child Left Behind" education policies have replaced learning with testing and allowed military recruiters access to our schools, cajoling our children with military options before their minds have had a chance to open, question and challenge.

10.He is attempting to dismantle the Social Security system that has ensured "peace and freedom" for tens of millions of working Americans for seven decades ("peace" of mind and "freedom" from economic crises)-- rights hard-won by Labor and Progressives in decades-long struggles.

11. He has allied himself with Right-wing ideologues to curtail or abolish stem-cell research vital to the conquest of debilitating and fatal diseases.

12. He has failed to develop a coherent energy policy-except to prosecute wars for other peoples' resources. He fails to acknowledge the reality and impending disasters of Global Warming.

13. He has continued the Globalization project of his predecessors: outsourcing jobs, hollowing our middle class.

14. He has undermined the legitimate protective protocols of the C.I.A., politicizing the agency, awarding positions on the basis of ideological orthodoxy rather than merit and astute analysis.

15. He has subjugated his Administration to Neocon ideologues like Richard Perle, William Kristol and Douglas Feith; men who have endorsed the "settlement," expansionist and Wall-them-in policies of Ariel Sharon, sowing the seeds of anti-Arab racism, war and destruction in the Middle East for generations to come.

16. In spite of his rhetoric about freedom and democracy, he has allied himself with dictators in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt and elsewhere. He has increased the flow of arms to these states and others, fomenting instability, turmoil and war.

17. He chose Rumsfeld as DoD Secretary twice, in spite of Rumsfeld's obvious failure to adequately plan for the post-Saddam era in Iraq, inducing massive "collateral damage," the looting of ancient treasures, and infrastructure destruction in a country we were legally and morally bound to rehabilitate.

18. He endorses the weaponization of space, "Rods from Gods," and other exotic, Star-Wars technologies to establish a twenty-first century American global empire that is doomed to create an arms race with China and other opposing coalitions, sowing discord and wasting the resources of the world.

19. He has presided over the most egregious media consolidation in the nation's history. While we have had "yellow journalism" and other media abuses throughout our two centuries of Republic/Empire, we have never suffered the consolidation of power that we have today. He has presided over the emasculation and cowering of PBS, while his disinformation troops have peddled fraudulent stories and comments to "reporters" like Judith Miller, Armstrong Williams and Jeff Guckert-"Gannon," poisoning the well of information, adding to the general confusion and Goebbelsization of our news.

20. He lied about, misled, or misunderstood the astronomical costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He continues to do so, diverting tax money for education, health care, the EPA, transportation and social infrastructure into war-making and destruction.

21. He has continued and enlarged the depraved Clinton policy of using depleted uranium on the battlefield; a policy bound to cause massive suffering and death to Americans and others for generations to come.

22. He has alienated our traditional allies and more than a billion Muslims around the world. He has ransacked the good will extended to the nation after the 9/11 attacks, leading a crusade of vengeance and reprisal, most often against innocents, judging without sufficient evidence, arrogating to himself a crooked, self-righteous Texas sheriff's power to execute without justice.

23. Under his watch, millions more Americans have been added to the ranks of the uninsured while health-care costs have exploded. His answer to these and other pressing social problems appears to be faith-based charities-in other words, preaching to the choir while stealing from the pews.

24. Under his watch, the North Koreans have, apparently, developed eight nuclear weapons and Israel has continued to increase and refine its arsenal-now estimated as high as five hundred.

25. He has murdered the English language.

Gary Corseri has published 2 novels, 2 poetry collections, the Manifestations anthology [edited], and his work has appeared at CounterPunch,Common Dreams, The New York Times, Village Voice, Axis of Logic, Dissident Voice, Redbook and elsewhere. His dramas have been presented at PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He can be reached at:

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Bush Open to Possibly Closing Gitmo Camp
The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 8, 2005; 11:23 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Wednesday left open the possibility that the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be shut down.

"We're exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America," Bush told Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto in an interview.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know of anyone in the administration who was considering closing Guantanamo.

The military provides "a stable and secure and safe environment," he told reporters traveling with him in Norway. "Information gained from detainees there has saved the lives of people from our country and from other countries." [...]

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Partners in Crime: Friendly Renditions to Muslim Torture Chambers
June 6, 2005

Rendition is one of those words that bureaucracies craft to hide official monstrosities. As an artistic term, rendition means "a performance of a dramatic role." Webster's 1913 dictionary defines rendition as "the act of surrendering fugitives from justice at the claim of a foreign government." In its brand new usage, rendition has come to mean surrender of aliens. It is a quasi-legal practice under which US intelligence agencies "render terrorists" to friendly governments, mostly in the Islamic world, for detention and interrogation and more.

Ghastly stories have surfaced how Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and other Muslim states abuse and torture rendered men, inflicting more indignities on them than Muslim inmates have suffered at Guantanamo. Beatings, physical suspensions, electric shocks, and other cruel and degrading treatments have been reported. International human rights groups claim that in Uzbekistan two rendered prisoners were boiled to death. Renditions are now firmly associated with America, torture and Muslim states. (See, Jeffrey St. Clair's Torture Air.).

More than anything else, the law (or lawlessness) around renditions is most intriguing. Rendered men cannot be lawfully extradited because they have committed no crime in the Muslim state to which they are rendered. Sometimes, the friendly government has no clue about the identity or activities of the person before he is rendered. Sometimes, the rendered man is not even a national of the receiving state. Hence the contrast between extradition and rendition is vivid. Extradition is an open procedure under which a fugitive is lawfully sent to a requesting state where he has committed a serious crime. Rendition is a covert operation under which even an innocent person may be forcibly transferred to a state where he has committed no crime. It is like a bully dispatching a helpless prey to another bully in another town.

Rendition is not even deportation. A person may be deported under US immigration laws for a variety of reasons including charges of terrorism. Deportation however implies that the person is in the United States. Rendition is not territorial. US agencies can abduct a Muslim anywhere in the world and render him to a friendly government. In December 2003, US agents pulled Khaled el-Masri from a bus on the Serbia-Macedonia border and flew him to Afghanistan where he was drugged and tortured. But the man was a tad lucky. Though born in Lebanon, el-Masri had obtained German nationality. Germany came to his rescue for he was no terrorist. El-Masri was released, though he would still be languishing in Afghan torture chambers if he were, say, the national of a Muslim state that does not care.

Defying international treaties and US laws, rendition works on dark fringes of legality. The Torture Convention specifies that no signatory state shall expel, return or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture. The Convention is so strict in its prohibition of torture that it allows no exceptions under which any such transfer may be justified. Additionally, it is a crime under US laws to commit torture outside the United States. If the victim dies of torture, the crime is punishable with death. It is also a crime for US officials to conspire to commit torture outside the United States. Under both the Convention and US laws, therefore, rendition is strictly prohibited if the rendered person would be subjected to torture.

Sadly, such has become the nature of law in the United States that fertile minds trained in top law schools can find believable exceptions to even clearest provisions of law. Law is a game and talent lies in finding loopholes. Accordingly, the laws against shipping detainees to torture chambers tickle the legal imagination of government lawyers and, surely, they find ways to dodge legal texts. To escape the reach of law, US agents seek verbal assurances from friendly governments that no torture would be committed. Friendly governments nod and receive the cargo. No one winks an eye but all know the script. As soon as men are thrown into torture chambers, lips are sealed. US agencies do not ask and friendly governments do not tell what is being done to "terrorists."

One might ask why the US is abducting and rendering men to friendly states. There are many answers. Sometimes, men are rendered because they have nothing more to tell to US agents but still out of caution they cannot be freed; it is cheaper for the US to detain these men in Muslim prisons than here in America. Sometimes, the rendered men need 'pressure' to disgorge their stories, and the torture techniques employed in friendly states are just perfect to do the job. Sometimes, men are rendered as a loyalty test, just to make sure that Muslim intelligence agencies are indeed supportive of the US war on terror. Sometimes, it is safer to tuck away minor terrorists elsewhere because lawsuits in America may pester for truth and embarrass the government. No such pestering exists in friendly Muslim states where pro-American, autocratic governments are well removed from public accountability and would love to oblige their friends and masters.

And for American neo-conservatives, rendition stories are fun. Don't be surprised if at dinner tables, they drink and laugh and talk about Muslims degrading Muslims. Some of them are even talking about closing the Muslim prison at Guantanamo. Thomas Friedman of New York Times, who vigorously supported the neo-conservative invasion of Iraq, recently wrote a column suggesting that the Guantanamo camp be shut down for it has become "corrosive" for America's standing abroad. Many good-hearted Americans who have nothing to do with neo-conservatives also favor the closure of this eyesore.

Ironically, though, the timing for shutting down the Guantanamo Gulag is near perfect. The inmates have emptied their minds and their spirits are broken beyond repair. They are no longer useful though they are still considered dangerous. The time is ripe for their renditions. Men in orange, shown coiled in fetal position, will perhaps go home where, surely, no Quran will be desecrated but where their limbs will be hung on hooks, their genitals will be shocked with erratic electricity, and their fingernails will be plucked off with primitive pliers. America will get rid of its guilt, claiming moral superiority over the rest of the world. And the name of Islam will be further smeared with barbaric details coming from torture chambers, serving America, but maintained by friendly governments in not Kafir but Muslim states.

Ali Khan is a professor of law at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. His book, A Theory of International Terrorism, will be published in 2005 by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. Send comments to

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Nixon's empire strikes back

Bush's imperial project has succeeded by learning the chief lesson of Watergate - muzzle the press
Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday June 9, 2005
The Guardian

The unveiling of the identity of Deep Throat - Mark Felt, the former deputy director of the FBI - seemed to affirm the story of Watergate as the triumph of the lone journalist supported from the shadows by a magically appearing secret source. Shazam! The outlines of the fuller story we now know, thanks not only to Felt's self-unmasking but to disclosures in the Albany Times Union of upstate New York, unreported so far by any major outlet. Felt was not working as "a disgruntled maverick ... but rather as the leader of a clandestine group" of three other high-level agents to control the story by collecting intelligence and leaking it. For more than 30 years the secrecy around Deep Throat diverted attention to who Deep Throat was rather than what Deep Throat was - a covert FBI operation in which Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward was almost certainly an unwitting asset.

When FBI director J Edgar Hoover died on May 2 1972, Felt, who believed he should be his replacement, was passed over. The Watergate break-in took place a month later. As President Nixon sought to coerce the CIA and FBI to participate in his increasingly frantic efforts to obstruct justice, Felt, who had access to raw intelligence files, organised a band of his most trusted lieutenants and began strategic leaking. The Felt op, in fact, was part of a widespread revolt of professionals throughout the federal government against Nixon's threats to their bureaucratic integrity.

Nixon's grand plan was to concentrate executive power in an imperial presidency, politicise the bureaucracy and crush its independence, and invoke national security to wage partisan warfare. He intended to "reconstitute the Republican party", staging a "purge" to foster "a new majority", as his aide William Safire wrote in his memoir. Nixon himself declared in his own memoir that to achieve his ends the "institutions" of government had to be "reformed, replaced or circumvented. In my second term I was prepared to adopt whichever of these three methods - or whichever combination of them - was necessary."

But now George Bush is building a leviathan beyond Nixon's imagining. The Bush presidency is the highest stage of Nixonism. The commander-in-chief has declared himself by executive order above international law, the CIA is being purged, the justice department deploying its resources to break down the wall of separation between church and state, the Environmental Protection Agency being ordered to suppress scientific studies and the Pentagon subsuming intelligence and diplomacy, leaving the US with blunt military force as its chief foreign policy.

The three main architects of Bush's imperial presidency gained their formative experience amid Nixon's downfall. Donald Rumsfeld, Nixon's counsellor, and his deputy, Dick Cheney, one after the other, served as chief of staff to Nixon's successor, Gerald Ford, both opposing congressional efforts for more transparency in the executive.

With perfect Nixonian pitch, Cheney remarked in 1976: "Principle is OK up to a certain point, but principle doesn't do any good if you lose." During the Iran-contra scandal Cheney, a Republican leader in the House of Representatives, argued that the congressional report denouncing "secrecy, deception and disdain for the law" was an encroachment on executive authority.

The other architect, Karl Rove, Bush's senior political aide, began his career as an agent of Nixon's dirty trickster Donald Segretti - "ratfuckers" as Segretti called his boys. At the height of the Watergate scandal, Rove operated through a phoney front group to denounce "the lynch-mob atmosphere created in this city by the Washington Post and other parts of the Nixon-hating media".

Under Bush, the Republican Congress has abdicated its responsibilities of executive oversight and investigation. When Republican senator John Warner, chairman of the armed services committee, held hearings on Bush's torture policy in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib revelations, the White House set rabid House Republicans to attack him. There have been no more such hearings. Meanwhile, Bush insists that the Senate votes to confirm John Bolton as US ambassador to the UN while refusing to release essential information requested by the Senate foreign relations committee.

One of the chief lessons learned from Nixon's demise was the necessity of muzzling the press. The Bush White House has neutralised the press corps and even turned some reporters into its own assets. The disinformation on WMD in the rush to war in Iraq, funnelled into the news pages of the New York Times, is the most dramatic case in point. By manipulation and intimidation, encouraging an atmosphere of self-censorship, the Bush White House has distanced the press from dissenting professionals inside the government.

Mark Felt's sudden emergence from behind the curtain of history evoked the glory days of the press corps and its modern creation myth. It was a warm bath of nostalgia and cold comfort.

Sidney Blumenthal is former senior adviser to President Clinton and author of The Clinton Wars

Comment: Watergate was a manipulation. Everyone involved was manipulating, from Nixon to Woodward to the various sources supplying "inside information" to the press. The manipulations continue as different spins are given to the news that "Felt was Deep Throat". Some people think that Woodward's Navy background is an indication that he was involved in a plan cooked up by the Office of Naval Intelligence. Blumenthal refers to a "covert FBI operation" and has Woodward as the "unwitting asset".

We think Washington's intelligence community is not a monolithic entity. There are different groups and factions in different departments, each with their own set core of beliefs and goals. Perhaps on the highest levels, they are all working for the same masters, perhaps not. No doubt many of them are useful idiots, unaware of the real goals.

For these reasons, getting to the bottom of a "scandal" like Watergate is not easy. Felt himself was actively involved in setting up the COINTELPRO operation of the FBI, so he was no principled defender of liberty. And while he may have been one of Woodward's sources, Deep Throat may well have been a fiction, the symbol of many different sources.

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Deep Throat's Other Legacy
By Colbert I. King
Saturday, June 4, 2005; Page A17

[...] Felt's devotion to J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI caused him, I believe, to place the bureau ahead of the Constitution and his own faithfulness to the Bill of Rights.

Felt's Watergate heroics notwithstanding, he was also on board when the FBI's series of covert action programs against Americans was well underway. He was a high FBI official when the bureau, arrogating unto itself the role of judge, jury and vigilante, trampled with impunity on the rights of citizens. Felt was there when the FBI sought to get teachers fired, when it tried to stop people from speaking on campus, when it prevented the distribution of books and newspapers and when it disrupted peaceful demonstrations and antiwar marches. Those shameful activities are cited in stark detail in Book III of the April 1976 Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities of the United States Senate. In the name of protecting national security and preventing violence, the FBI tried to promote factionalism and violence between groups it regarded as domestic threats. It planted informants to spread false rumors, labeled innocent people as "snitches" and passed along derogatory information to the families and friends of investigative targets, sometimes through anonymous letters or telephone calls. These despicable actions were carried out under COINTELPRO, an FBI acronym for "counterintelligence program."

Mark Felt knew all about it. [...]

Lest there be any misunderstanding, Felt was not a passive observer as FBI agents conducted clandestine and illegal operations against innocent Americans. As The Post stated in Wednesday's editorial, Felt "was convicted of (and later pardoned for) authorizing illegal acts in pursuit of leftist radicals in the early 1970s." Here's the rest of the story.

When Felt was the No. 2 official in the FBI, he and Edward S. Miller, chief of the bureau's intelligence division, authorized burglaries at the homes of friends and relatives of members of the radical Weather Underground. The break-ins were illegal and a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Felt and Miller were prosecuted in 1980 for their unconstitutional invasion of privacy by John W. Nields Jr., later chief House counsel to the Iran- contra hearings and earlier chief counsel to the 1977-78 House investigation of Korean influence-peddling in Congress. [...]

Felt and Miller, after an eight-week trial, were convicted of conspiracy for authorizing illegal searches and fined a total of $8,500. The Post stated in an editorial at the time [Dec. 15, 1980]:

"The crime of which they were convicted by a jury is a serious one. It grew out of one of the more tawdry episodes in federal law enforcement -- the burglaries of private homes by FBI agents in pursuit of opponents of the war in Vietnam. . . . The dimensions of the wrongdoing by the FBI in those days - - and before -- are far larger than the specifics of the case against Messrs. Felt and Miller. The 'black bag jobs' were only part of a system of so-called law enforcements that ignored the principles of individual rights and personal privacy that are at the heart of this nation's political legacy."

Four months later, without talking to the prosecution, consulting the judge or conducting the customary Justice Department review, President Ronald Reagan, asserting that Felt and Miller were motivated by "high principle to bring an end to the terrorism that was threatening our nation," pardoned the two high-ranking FBI officials.

To be sure, Mark Felt's role as "Deep Throat" earned him a place in history. So, however, did his complicity in COINTELPRO, the FBI's dirty little secret war against Americans.

Comment: So, hey, what's a little lying compared to breaking and entry? No wonder the Bush gang have no qualms about making stories up to justify their wars and violations of human rights. They are motivated by "high principle to bring an end to the terrorism that was threatening our nation."

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Yakety Yak: Mark Felt, Serial Civil Rights Violator, and CIA Asset Bob Woodward
Kurt Nimmo
June 08, 2005

Finally, for all the good it will do, we are hearing about the real Mark Felt, not the Watergate "hero," in the corporate media. Colbert I. King, writing for the Washington Post, makes mention of Felt’s grubby fingerprints smudged on the Constitution, telling us COINTELPRO was launched in the "name of protecting national security and preventing violence" when in fact it was undertaken primarily to get rid of critics of the government, opponents of the Vietnam war, and people who were sick and tired of being treated like second and third class citizens (African-Americans, Native Americans, and Puerto Rican nationalists).

In fact, as King notes, "the FBI tried to promote factionalism and violence" between these groups, in other words, much of the above mentioned violence was the product of the FBI and its agents and freelancers. Tried nothing—in fact they did a smash up job.

Reading the corporate media, you get the impression Felt’s hands-on management of the trampling the Bill of Rights was a minor infraction, something unfortunately required to stop a bunch of anti-American miscreants from endangering national security. It is treated as an isolated incident, a product of the times (the words "Weather underground" are invariably tossed around, as if millions of people in opposition to the Vietnam War were bomb- throwers and bank robbers).

In fact, COINTELPRO was simply one act in a larger history of government subversion of constitutional rights. It can be argued that the government has cracked down on dissidents since the founding of the republic, beginning with George Washington dispatching 12,000 troops to Pennsylvania in order to put down the Whiskey Rebellion (an insurrection in opposition to taxation but also a lightning rod for settlers of the region for a variety of grievances).

John Adams contrived the Sedition Act (1798) for "criticizing federalist policies" and made it a crime to publish any "false, scandalous and malicious" writing against the government, the Congress, or the President "with intent to defame" them or bring them "into contempt or disrepute or to stir up sedition," a law directly in conflict with the First Amendment, which states "Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."

Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus (a violation of Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution) during the Civil War and had opponents who "had done nothing worse than bad-mouth the president," as David Greenberg writes, locked up in federal jails and stockades. "Overall between 10,000 and 15,000 people were incarcerated without a prompt trial."

On 16 May, 1918, Congress passed the U.S. Sedition Act (following the Espionage Act of 1917), making it a crime to "print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States," thus criminalizing thousands of people opposed to U.S. entry into the First World War.

"Some corporations and political leaders used sedition laws to crush trade unions," writes John J. Dwyer. "Historian Walter Karp recalled a woman who wrote to a newspaper during the war that ‘I am for the people and the government is for the profiteers’ received a ten-year prison sentence. Federal agents seized a motion picture, The Spirit of ‘76, because the ‘portrayal of the American Revolution had cast British redcoats in an unfavorable light.’ That film’s producer, too, received ten years in prison."

The labor and political leader (and presidential candidate) Eugene Debs was convicted and sentenced to serve ten years in prison and disenfranchised for life, losing his citizenship, after delivering an anti-war speech on June 16, 1918. Anarchist Emma Goldman and others were arrested, convicted, and eventually deported for organizing against the war.

In 1940, the Smith Act was passed. It criminalized speech and activism. "Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover, immensely proud of his leading role in the government’s nationwide persecution and deportation of radicals and immigrants during the 1919 Palmer Raids, suggested to President Harry Truman in 1948 that the Smith Act be used against the Communist Party and its sympathizers," writes Michael Steven Smith. "The successful use of the Smith Act by the Truman administration against the top leaders of the Communist Party drove a large stake into the heart not only of the Party but of every organization in which the Communists had been active and influential. Not least of the indirect casualties was the newly formed Progressive Party."

Although progressives were crippled by the Smith Act, it did not do enough damage for the government. "When congressional investigations, political trials and other traditional legal methods of repression failed to counter the growing movements of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, and even helped fuel them, the FBI and police moved outside the law," explain Mike Cassidy and Will Miller.

Thus COINTELPRO was created.

The FBI and Mark Felt "used secret and systematic methods of fraud and force, far beyond mere surveillance, to sabotage constitutionally protected political activity. The purpose of the program was, in FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s own words, to ‘expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit and otherwise neutralize’ specific groups and individuals."

Thanks to Reagan’s pardoning of Mark Felt, the old man is not locked up in a federal penitentiary for violating the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of people. It is disgusting to see video of this vile old man smiling and waving from the door of his home—and almost as disgusting to witness the corporate media sucking it up.

Meanwhile, ever the shameless opportunist, Bob Woodward "is racing out a book on Felt’s story" because "Felt is really old and full of contradictions in his recounting of the Deep Throat tale," according to Bob Rosner (no doubt Woodward will "fix" these "contradictions" so they jive with the official version of events). "Woodward wrote a long article in The Washington Post recently about how Felt took him under his wing when Woodward was a young officer in the Navy. He gave him career advice for many years. As the No. 2 guy in the FBI, Felt met repeatedly with Woodward to help steer his investigation into the Nixon administration. Felt risked his career to deliver the story of a lifetime to Woodward."

Now isn’t that special.

No mention here of Woodward’s stint working for the CIA in Navy intelligence (or as a CIA recruiter) and his earlier membership in Yale’s Book and Snake (described by Lisa Pease as "a cut below the more infamous Skull and Bones," the secret society where Bush and Kerry once romped with select members of the ruling elite). "Whatever his background, whatever his connections, one cannot trust what Woodward says as fact," writes Pease. "Given his role in the Watergate cover-up, and the misrepresentations in his own work, it remains to us a huge mystery why this man is treated with the reverence he is. Considering his behavior, his background, his credibility, and his connections, we now feel compelled to [ask] who is Bob Woodward? Whom does he serve? Is his career sustained for the purposes of those with a ’secret agenda’?"

As Pease documents, there are plenty of fishy things about Woodward’s Deep Throat story and many of the details are downright silly. Considering Woodward’s intelligence background (and his none other than meteoric rise as a reporter at the Washington Post and Post publisher Philip Graham’s connections to the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, as documented by Alex Constantine), it is fair—in fact, a more than safe assumption—to say we are not getting the whole skinny on the Mark Felt Deep Throat story. There is more to it than a senile old man, a serial violator of civil rights, wanting to get his fifteen minutes of fame as he peers into the grave.

Now Bob Woodward, as a chronicler for the ruling elite and plutocracy, will write the official version of what happened and the role Mark Felt supposedly played in those events.

Point is, you cannot trust these guys—serial violators of civil liberties and CIA newspaper reporters—far as you can throw them.

Comment: And the American people aren't even ready to throw them out of office...

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Mock Terror Attack Staged at Pentagon
June 9, 2005

WASHINGTON - Mock bombs and armed assaults at the
Pentagon on Wednesday capped what officials described as the largest and most complex terrorism-response exercise ever held at the nation's military headquarters.

The exercise, designed to test the response of military, federal and local police and emergency services to a terrorist attack at several nearby locations, was code-named Gallant Fox III. It involved more than 20 agencies and 900 people. Volunteers from the
American Red Cross played the victims, their screams echoing at the Pentagon's bus terminal late Wednesday morning.

The attack began with armed terrorists assaulting the Pentagon and taking hostages, while their associated bombed a bus nearby. Military stun grenades, called flashbangs, were used to simulate the bombs.

These events were followed by another bombing and assault at the nearby cluster of buildings known as the Navy Annex, then a third bombing at a Defense Department office in Crystal City, a complex of office towers in Arlington, Va., a short distance from the Pentagon.

Police and firefighters on the scene approached each of the bombing sites slowly, taking several minutes to reach the wounded, said Brett Eaton, a Pentagon spokesman.

They moved cautiously out of fear of exposure to chemical, biological or radiological weapons, as well as secondary bombs terrorists sometimes set to kill those responding to the initial bombing.

No secondary bombings or unconventional weapons were part of the exercise, but officials called the cautious response the correct one for such a situation.

Twenty-five people were counted as killed in the simulation. More were injured and taken to local hospitals as part of the exercise. As for the mock terrorists, they were all captured or killed, Eaton said.

Comment: Right, just like the elusive Osama Bin Laden...

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Army Headed to Recruiting Shortfall
The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 8, 2005; 11:24 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Army appears likely to fall short of its full-year recruiting goal for the first time since 1999, raising longer-term questions about a military embroiled in its first protracted wars since switching from the draft to a volunteer force 32 years ago.

Many young people and their parents have grown more wary of Army service because of the likelihood of being dispatched on combat tours to Iraq or Afghanistan, opinion polls show. U.S. troops are dying at a rate of two a day in Iraq, more than two years after President Bush declared that major combat operations had ended.

The Army says today's economy offers attractive alternatives to many high school and college graduates.

The recruiting statistics appear to bear that out. Officials said Wednesday that although the Army will not release its numbers until Friday, it fell about 25 percent short of its target of signing up 6,700 recruits in May. The gap would have been even wider but for the fact that the target was lowered by 1,350.

The Army said it lowered the May target to "adjust for changing market conditions," knowing that the difference will have to be made up in the months ahead.

The Army also missed its monthly targets in April, March and February - each month worse than the one before. In February it fell 27 percent short; in March the gap was 31 percent, and in April it was 42 percent. [...]

Comment: Tomorrow's ruined economy may offer even more attractive alternatives to the average American...

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Gallic genius will save France says Villepin
Jon Henley in Paris
Thursday June 9, 2005
The Guardian

France's new prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, refused yesterday to push the country down the road towards free-market reform, saying "Gallic genius" would help put back on its feet a "suffering, impatient and angry" nation that has failed to adapt fully to a changing world.

In a speech to the packed lower house of the national assembly, Mr Villepin said his top aim was to cut the country's stubborn 10%-plus unemployment rate and announced €4.5bn (£3bn) of extra money to achieve it.

But he insisted that an increasingly heated public debate about the shortcomings of France's high-tax, high-protection social model compared with the more liberal Anglo-Saxon system was irrelevant.

"In a modern democracy, the debate is not between the liberal and the social, it is between immobilism and action," he said. "Solidarity and initiative, protection and daring: that is the French genius."

The part-time poet and former foreign minister added: "My government will be guided by one principle: the imperative of justice; by one criterion: the general interest; by one aim: to improve the lot of every French man and woman."

His speech came as speculation mounted in France over Tony Blair's plans for the British presidency of the EU, which starts next month.

Many commentators have said the British prime minister will seek to capitalise on the crisis after the French and Dutch rejection of the EU constitution by trying to persuade "old Europe" to modernise its creaking social systems.

"Tony Blair will try to convince his partners that the policy ... of flexibility and solidarity that has been followed with success in Britain ... can also serve Europe," Le Monde said yesterday, adding that "Blairism" is taboo in France, despite the concrete responses it has offered to unemployment and globalisation.

Mr Villepin said he was convinced France was still committed to Europe and its vote was "not a signal of French isolation". But he acknowledged that the country was at "an exceptional moment in its history" and that his first duty was to "look reality in the face".

France faced a difficult situation, he said: "While the world is undergoing unprecedented change, Europe is divided and the process of adaptation in France is lagging behind ... We have to get this country working again."

Polls showed most French voters rejected the EU treaty in their May 29 referendum because they feared it would lead to more unemployment, and were unhappy with the social and economic situation. Many on the left also felt the constitution enshrined a free-market vision of Europe at odds with France's social ideals.

Sociologists have also said the referendum result was a huge vote of no confidence in France's political and administrative elite, and particularly in President Jacques Chirac, who is seen as having presided over the country's slide over the past 10 years.

Mr Villepin will take no comfort from a new poll yesterday showing that 65% of the French were pessimistic about the country's political situation, 79% felt the new government would be unable to do anything about unemployment in the near future, and 72% thought social unrest was "certain" or "likely" to mount over the next few months.

Most economists believe the key to getting France back to work is reform of the country's inflexible, over-protective labour laws. But France's powerful public sector unions warned the prime minister this week that any attempt to water down jobs legislation would prompt protests.

Mr Villepin said he was setting aside an extra €4.5bn for job creation next year and unveiled a series of steps to boost job creation by small and very small businesses. These include encouraging firms with fewer than 10 workers to hire more people by cutting social charges and paperwork.

He also ordered France's job centres to redouble their efforts to find jobs for the one in four young people who are out of work, and said that penalising the hiring of unemployed workers over 50 would be scrapped. France currently has among the worst unemployment rates in Europe for the under-25s and over-55s.

Among other measures, Mr Villepin announced a major increase in public infrastructure projects such as new railway lines and motorways, and said tax cuts pledged by Mr Chirac in his 2002 election campaign would be suspended to help pay for the job creation measures. "All the spare money in the budget will go on jobs," he said. "All the energy of my government will be thrown into this battle."

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When Rimbaud meets Rambo

The new French Prime Minister's grandiose poetic style won't cut much ice with the White House action men

June 04, 2005
Ben MacIntyre

"A SINGLE VERSE by Rimbaud," writes Dominique de Villepin, the new French Prime Minister, "shines like a powder trail on a day’s horizon. It sets it ablaze all at once, explodes all limits, draws the eyes to other heavens." Here is a rather different observation, uttered by George Bush Sr in 1998, that might stand as a motto for his dynasty: "I can’t do poetry."

In that gulf of sensibility lies the cultural faultline of our times. For George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld words are blunt instruments, used to convey meaning, not feeling. Actions speak louder. The President of France, by contrast, rocked by the rejection of the EU constitution, has attempted to shore up his Government by appointing a poet as his Prime Minister, a patrician intellectual in the French romantic mould, a true believer in the transcendental and redemptive power of words.

These are the polar extremes of poetry, Rimbaud in one corner and Rambo in the other: the French patron saint of sensitive, tortured adolescents alongside the monosyllabic American action man.

M de Villepin’s poetry — four volumes so far — is a triumph of French style over substance, a torrent of adjectival acrobatics: grand, uplifting and painfully obscure. He speaks in a grandiloquent style that delights French audiences, but baffles most English-speakers. His high-flown rhetoric before the United Nations in the build-up to the Iraq war ("We are the guardians of an ideal") marked him as the political and cultural antithesis to the US, and his appointment is intended to send the message that French exceptionalism is alive and well.

M de Villepin has set himself 100 days to restore French self-confidence, to infuse France with a sense of its poetic destiny: "We need a heart that beats for everyone." For this poet, practical considerations are secondary. As he wrote in his recent 823-page treatise on French poetry: "What does it matter where this path leads, nowhere or elsewhere, if the furrow continues flowering, if the flash of lightning still inflames the night . . . If the poet still consumes himself, he refuses the enclosures of thought, certainties, to camp in the heart of the mystery, in the living spirit of the flame."

To which the American response will be a resounding: "Whatever." The Bush White House does not do poetry. At a Nato summit in Prague, Donald Rumsfeld was once forced to sit though a performance of modern dance and poetry. Asked for his reaction afterwards, he shrugged: "I’m from Chicago."

Les Anglo-Saxons — as Villepin likes to categorise America and Britain — have seldom mixed poetry and politics. There have been numerous British writer-statesmen, but no poet-politician of note. Clement Attlee scribbled self-mocking limericks, but can you imagine Tony Blair penning anything more poetic than pop lyrics? John Prescott might have been invented for the purposes of doggerel: "There was a young man from ’ull/ Who usually spoke total bull . . ." Abraham Lincoln and John Quincy Adams were both published poets, but in modern times the only president-poet was Jimmy Carter. His 44-poem collection Always, as brave as it is bad, was received with thinly disguised and richly deserved mockery: "The geese passed overhead/and then without a word/We went down to a peaceful sleep/Marvelling at what we’d seen and heard." John F. Kennedy commissioned Robert Frost to deliver a poem at his inauguration, and Bill Clinton had Maya Angelou do the same. But poetry does not stir the soul of President Bush, unless you count the Bible and George Jones singing A Good Year for the Roses.

To the Anglo-Saxon mind there is something dodgy, even dangerous, in the man who rules the world by day and writes verses by night. As W.H. Auden wrote: "All poets adore explosions, thunderstorms, tornados, conflagrations, ruins, scenes of spectacular carnage. The poetic imagination is not at all a desirable quality in a statesman." Indeed, the precedents are not happy ones, for there is a peculiar link between frustrated poetic ambition and tyranny: Hitler, Goebbels, Stalin, Castro, Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh all wrote poetry. Radovan Karadzic, fugitive former leader of the Bosnian Serbs, once won the Russian Writers’ Union Mikhail Sholokhov Prize for his poems. On the whole, you do not want a poet at the helm.

Comment: The Anglo-Saxon speaks...and Auden was an Anglo himself. We prefer the poet's explosions to those created by the non-poets Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. Explosions in verse don't kill. Explosions in Iraq do.

Yet in France, proof of a refined literary consciousness is a prerequisite of high office, and the virtue that eclipses sin. When François Mitterrand died, French commentators touched only briefly on such aspects of his career as wartime collaboration, cynical political opportunism and obsessive adultery, while devoting acres of print to his love of books and remarkable literary output. Every French politician is expected to produce a trophy bouquin. Before writing the ailing EU constitution, former President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing penned sensitive novels.

M de Villepin has placed himself firmly in the tradition of French diplomat-poets. In the preface to his 2003 book he effused: "This eulogy owes nothing to artifice or chance. It has ripened inside me since childhood. From the bottom of my pockets, stuck to the back of my smock, hidden in the corner of abacuses, poetry gushed out." That statement immediately earned him a nomination as Poseur of the Year by a New York newspaper.

His appointment is certain to increase the accusations of pretentiousness from the American side, and philistinism from the French. The chasm has never been wider, or more in need of a bridge. America’s public image could benefit from a sense of imaginative wonder, a little more Rimbaud and a lot less Rambo. Anglo-Saxon mockery is the essential antidote to Left Bank belle lettrism, which too often uses poetic complexity to state the obvious, or nothing at all.

George Bush and Dominique de Villepin might learn much from each other, but no amount of translation could allow them to speak the same language. In the aftermath of 9/11, M de Villepin walked through Manhattan: "In the flayed city, facing the raging winds, I called upon the words of Rimbaud, Artaud or Duprey. At such a grave hour, how could one not think of these thieves of fire who lit up, for centuries, the furnaces of the heart and the imagination, of thirst and insomnia, to build an empire only within oneself." Mr Bush also surveyed the city, but did not think of poetry or imagination: he invaded Afghanistan.

Comment: Exactly.

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Non, Neen, Angelene!
Why Defenders of the "Oui" are Wrong
June 7, 2005


Since French-bashing is more fashionable than Dutch-bashing, the Dutch "neen" has not come in for such furious denunciation as the French "non". Both votes express mixed motives, and the mixture of motives may well be somewhat different from one country to the next. It seems that the left revolt against free market dogma played a proportionately greater role in France, and the objection to immigration and the prospect of Turkish membership a more prominent role in the Netherlands. But both votes said "stop!" to a process of "European construction" that has been going on for too long over people's heads. The common denominator was a last-gasp effort to save democracy from Eurocracy.

Except for its author, former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, hardly anybody in the "yes" camp really seemed to like the Constitution all that much. What horrifies the Eurocrats the most is the upsurge of what they tend to call, not democracy, but "populism" -- a pejorative term for roughly the same thing. Democracy is when voters approve what their leaders propose, "populism" comes when voters have ideas of their own. So it is "populism" that has unexpectedly halted what was supposed to be a smooth, uninterrupted construction of a mammoth European economic and political powerhouse -- free of inner conflict, free of national identity and free of popular revolt. The European Union was designed to be a gigantic lid over the melting pot. But the pot is still boiling, and the lid is wobbling.

Yes, the "no" vote augurs a time of political turmoil for Europe. The artificial consensus is broken, and there is no new consensus behind the "no". This is dangerous, as life is more dangerous than stagnation.

The "Cupidity" of the French working class

In a petulant article distributed by AlterNet, Ian Williams accused the French of "cupidity" for voting "non" to the European Constitution, and described American left solidarity for this choice as "blinkered". The rejected Constitution, says Williams, "guarantees rights undreamt of by any liberal in the United States". This may be true, but such rights, and even more, are already guaranteed by French and other constitutions and charters which remain intact.

Williams asks rhetorically of the American left, "How can so-called liberals in a country that has 45 million uninsured citizens dismiss a document that ensures the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment?"

This is a truncated citation. The full sentence from Article II-95 reads: "Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment ­ under the conditions established by national laws and practices ." [My emphasis.] All this really says is that "right of access" (a vague term) will continue to be governed by national laws, which at present provide largely reimbursed health care to French patients but not to those in Portugal. Article III-278 (7) reaffirms "the responsibilities of the Member States for the definition of their health policy and for the organisation and delivery of health services and medical care". Rejecting this provision does not deprive anyone of health coverage.

In France, salaried workers, farmers, the jobless, those with the lowest incomes voted heavily "non" while the higher the income, the greater the percentage of "oui". The "cupidity" of the French, deplored by Ian Williams must have been the "cupidity" of the French working class (80% no). This indeed contrasts with the generosity of the United States working class, which in large numbers votes against its own interests in favor of politicians who cut social services and provide huge tax cuts for the super-rich. Does Williams consider that in France, the wealthy classes are less guilty of "cupidity" since they overwhelmingly voted "yes"? Apparently so, and the workers who fear for their jobs, the unemployed on the edge of despair, the middle classes who see their costs rising and benefits shrinking, show a lack of civic responsibility by thinking of their own selfish interests, instead of trying to please all those beaming corporation executives, decision-making politicians and movie stars who had their hearts set on the Constitution Treaty.

Differing motives

The very worst of all reasons for condemning the "non" vote is the "guilt by association" charge. Ian Williams considers that the fact that leftists "voted 'no' alongside Le Pen's racists and fascists" is a "sight that should at least give U.S. progressives some pause for thought".

In short, Le Pen should set the agenda for leftists: if he says "yes" they should say "no", and vice versa. This is absurd. Every winning vote is the product of misunderstandings and contradictory motives. To point to an obvious historic example, FDR's New Deal, which was supported by the U.S. Communist Party, won elections only thanks to the votes of Southern Democratic Party racists. Should the left have rejected social security for that reason? Only autocratic choices can be based on a single motive. Democratic choices are always the product of mixed motives.

In any case, the constant fuss about Le Pen is symptomatic of political impotence. The individual, Jean-Marie Le Pen, is an old-fashioned nationalist who specializes in provocative oratory, a sort of political clown who is currently fading. His only real political function for the past 20 years has been to enforce the politically correct consensus against him. In terms of organization and program, he is not even a "fascist", but simply a reactionary with a snowball's chance in hell of ever coming to power. There are many more truly dangerous politicians in the respectable mainstream.

The Myth of the EU Challenge to the U.S. Superpower

Williams blamed "French communists and leftists for their success in frustrating a multinational challenger to U.S. global dominance".

The notion that the Constitution would amount to a bold challenge to the United States was indeed a favorite selling point of the "yes" camp. The constitution was supposed to be the necessary (and perhaps even sufficient) condition enabling the European Union to assert itself as a "counterweight" vis-à-vis the United States.

Asked which is the most powerful argument in favor of voting "yes" for the treaty establishing a European Constitution, the French centrist party leader François Bayrou replied: "The world is dominated by American power, rivaled by Chinese power. Do we want to accept the domination of those empires, of their social model? Or do we also want to count in defending our values?"

Socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn put it more bluntly : "We need the European constitutional treaty to counter American hegemonism".

This argument was no doubt sincere. But the plain truth is that the dream of a political Europe on the U.S. model, able to act as a united, rival superpower, was already a thing of the past. The advocates of a strong United States of Europe were long since outfoxed by the British "Trojan horse", which pushed successfully for an enlarged EU that could only be a big open market. U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld's rude reference to "new" and "old" Europe pointed to a real split between nations whose governments identified with Europe and those more closely tied to Washington. The botched Constitution was supposed to make up for an overly hasty enlargement by tightening the bonds. But it was already too late.

The death knell of politically unified Europe, the old dream of the original geographic core group (France, Germany, the Benelux States), was sounded just one year ago when Britain vetoed their choice for E.U. Commissioner and imposed Juan Manuel Barroso, a conservative Portuguese former Maoist who had studied in the United States. Barroso's youthful Maoism was of the variety aimed mainly at combating the Communists and leftists who made Portugal's 1974 anti-fascist revolution and their friends in the African liberation movements. In his choice of Commissioners to run the EU "government", Barros heavily favored the small countries of "new Europe" and neoliberal free marketeers.

If the "counterweight" claim was not valid, the French leftists were quite right to ignore it. The claim was contradicted by the text of the Constitution itself. The European Constitution ties the European Union to NATO, the main instrument of U.S. domination of Europe, and even to its current crusade: the "war against terrorism". What more could Washington want? That Europe and its member States are deprived of any possibility of defining and pursuing a clair and effective independent foreign policy? Well, the proposed constitution would do precisely that, by obliging all member States to go along with a foreign policy decided unanimously. A perfect recipe for paralysis.

War and Peace

Far from fearing the European "rival superpower", the United States has consistently supported European construction in the way it has developed, that is, as a big market economically open and politically harmless. The influence of the business community has progressively shoved aside the influence of the European federalists, whether they realized it or not. Economic strength and political weakness go hand in hand, as business lobbies rather than electorates dictate policies.

The original rationale of European unification was to bind together essential German and French industries so tightly that war between them would be impossible. As a further guarantee, the trans-Atlantic guardian angel would link the military forces of the former belligerants in a single alliance under its leadership. Many European Atlanticists have shared the belief that this double bond -- economic and political unification of Europe, plus U.S. management of security -- is the only way to ensure peace and prosperity for their countries.

Regarding peace, this would be more convincing had the United States drawn the same lesson from two world wars as the majority of Germans, French and Italians who, having suffered from destruction, foreign occupation and defeat, genuinely wanted to renounce war. The same applies to the Russians who, while finally victorious, had suffered the greatest human and material losses.

The problem is that for the United States, the lesson was not at all the same. In the American (and even British) mythology, the Second World War was the "good war" by which Good crushed Evil, thanks to U.S. military power, with the blessing of an interconfessional God. And they are ready to start over again.

A dangerous contradiction lies in the fact that this Europe, pacified by its own warlike excesses, feels secure entrusting the leadership of its military affairs, via NATO, to that superpower of European origin which for its part has not at all given up making war. The paradox is that this Europe which has given up making war against itself now risks being drawn by its U.S. protector into endless war against the rest of the world.

Ironically, the hasty eastward enlargements of the European Union owe a lot to a growing, unspoken rivalry with the United States. The pro-Europeans have long insisted on the need to "deepen" the Union before enlarging it. That is a simple matter of good sense: one can spoil everything by going too fast. Instead, they agreed to the rash incorporation of the Baltic States, with Rumania and Bulgaria coming up next. Certain of those countries (notably the Baltic States) seem to feel permanently threatened by Russia, despite Russia's voluntary peaceful withdrawal. But Western leaders know perfectly well that Russia is not a threat. In reality, the E.U. enlargement to the East has much more to do with rivalry with the United States, whose influence is already predominant in those countries and which is strengthened by the enlargement of NATO. Of course, eastward EU enlargement must strengthen the influence there of Western European countries, but at the price of the European Union's weakened independence from the United States.

The End of History Postponed Once More

A constitutionalized European Union has been the latest "end of history" Utopia. This super-corporation Europe, run by bureaucrats carrying out the recommendations of lobbyists (the real collective power in Brussels), is meant to cleanse Europe of politics. Because politics, and especially "populism", are condemned as the source of fascism, of communism, and thus of the Gulag and Auschwitz. The people must be locked in an economic straitjacket where they can no longer do any harm. They must be neutralized, so the elites can run things undisturbed.

It takes a heavy dose of Utopian illusion to believe that a meaningful single foreign policy capable of challenging the United States could be agreed upon by consensus among 25 (and more to come) European countries. Such a Europe is incapable of challenging U.S. dominance. In the sixty years since the end of World War II, the only European leaders to have openly defied U.S. international policy were Olof Palme in Sweden and French President Charles de Gaulle at the time of the Vietnam war, and Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder and the Belgian leaders at the time of the invasion of Iraq. They had their people solidly behind them, and could therefore be uppity. It is inconceivable that a European foreign minister, who must follow the instructions of 25 governments from Portugal to Estonia, could ever be so bold.

As for the economy, if, as Margaret Thatcher claimed, "there is no alternative" to her type of policies, everyone will end up there anyway, so why insist? On the other hand, if alternatives are possible, people must be free to develop them. The plain truth is that "Europeans" do not all agree by consensus on every possible issue, economic or political. Forcing them into a false unity can only kill their enthusiasm and initiative. The European "Superpower" is the dream of a small layer of business and political leaders.

It is excellent that European states have renounced war between themselves and moved to cooperate closely in many areas. This process can continue without a "constitution". Europe's richness is in its diversity, which should not be strangled by a fear of "nationalism" and "populism". It is clear that, as things stand today, the majority of French people value social services above an unrestrained free market capitalism. Perhaps the British (but this is not certain) prefer to put free market capitalism above social services. Well, why not? Why not keep the European ties loose enough to allow social and economic experimentation? Let Europe's peoples cooperate with each other, and with non-European peoples, when and as they want, in search of more just and viable economic and social solutions.

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Fair-Weather Friends
US Denies French Fighters Emergency Landing Rights
June 7, 2005

Talk about fair-weather friends!

When nine French fighter jets and a weather plane from a French carrier taking part in a joint exercise with Canadian Naval forces in the Atlantic off New Jersey ran perilously low on fuel last Friday because of a freak storm that prevented them from returning to their ship, they figured, no problem. They weren't too far from the U.S. mainland, and so they could just land at McGuire AF Base in southern New Jersey.

No dice, the Francophobe U.S. military told them. According to a State Department source, quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, they were denied landing rights at the facility.

Faced with the choice of ditching their planes or finding an alternative landing site, the French pilots, with the help of frantic State Department and Federal Aviation Administration officers, managed to arrange landing permission at the commercial airfield in Atlantic City, though this necessitated delaying and rerouting several commercial flights because of the number of planes that were coming in at once.

No national American media mentioned this stunning--and potentially life-threatening--breach of basic air etiquette by the U.S. military. And not for lack of knowing about it: many news organizations covered the whole thing as a humor item, focusing on the French pilots spending a night in the debauchery of America's East Coast Vegas.

Even the Inquirer, which did report on the incident with at least a modicum of seriousness, failed to go to the Pentagon and ask the obvious question: Why were ten planes from a European ally denied emergency landing rights at a fully equipped and prepared U.S. Air Force base when they were in danger of crashing from lack of fuel? (I did make that call, and was referred to the media relations office at McGuire, where a spokeswoman denied that the French planes had been turned away-a direct contradiction of the story out of the State Department. She had no answer when asked whether the French pilots had requested permission to land at the airbase.)

It boggles the mind to think that this nail-biting incident could have been the result of Pentagon pique at France for having refused to go along with the Bush Iraq War plan, but one is hard-pressed to come up with an alternative explanation.

Even Soviet planes, at the height of the Cold War, weren't turned away in emergencies.

And this was an ally.

At least the people of Atlantic City were gracious hosts to the plucky French pilots, reportedly offering them meals and hotel rooms.

One wonders what the American reaction would be if a French military airport turned away American pilots in similar circumstances-or what the French reaction would have been if the planes hadn't made it safely to Atlantic City.

Comment: An illustration of the small-mindedness and rancorous nature of the Bush gang. Once you get on their bad side, forget about ever making it up.

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Denmark allows CIA planes enter airspace 2005-06-09 10:59:05

STOCKHOLM, June 8 (Xinhua) -- Denmark will not prohibit planes of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States carrying terror suspects from flying across its airspace, nor will it be responsible for such flights' violation of related international laws, a senior official said Wednesday.

Given the complexity of the case, Denmark cannot shoulder the responsibility for the consequence of such flights, said Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, quoted by reports from Copenhagen.

The CIA planes enter Danish airspace under the status of civil planes, and Denmark cannot prohibit such civil flights as it is against related international laws, he added.

Denmark's left-wing alliance urged the government to take action to prevent CIA planes of terror suspects from flying over its sky after the Danish newspaper Politiken revealed that the CIA had made at least 16 such flights via the Danish airspace since 2001.

The alleged terror suspects had been transported by CIA-chartered planes to countries outside the US for torture and trial, for which the International Red Cross had repeatedly lodged protests before the US government, according to the newspaper.

Other reports said since the US launching of a global anti-terror war, the CIA has made approximately 100 flights carrying terror suspects to foreign countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and Uzbekistan for trial.

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Spain supports prosecution of US soldiers 2005-06-09 11:28:04

MADRID, June 8 (Xinhuanet) -- The Spanish government supports a Spanish judge's investigation into and prosecution of three US soldiers implicated in the shooting of a Spanish TV cameraman two years ago in Baghdad, Spanish Minister of Justice Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar said Wednesday.

At a press conference held here, Aguilar said the Spanish government is to assist High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz in his investigation.

He also expressed regret over the US refusal to question the three soldiers under the pretext that such investigation should be conducted by a judge of a third country.

Spanish cameraman Jose Couso, who worked for Telecinco, was killed along with a Ukrainian cameraman when a US tank fired directly onto a hotel housing foreign journalists during the 2003 assault on Baghdad.

Judge Pedraz was entrusted on Tuesday by the Reporters Without Borders group to question and bring to justice the three US soldiers implicated in Couso's death. These soldiers were accused of "offense against the international community."

If found guilty, the three soldiers would face 10 to 15 years in jail under Spanish law, said Aguilar.

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UN alert as nuclear plans go missing
Ian Traynor in Vienna
The Guardian
Thursday June 9, 2005

Electronic drawings that give comprehensive details of how to build and test equipment essential for making nuclear bombs have vanished and could be put up for sale on the international black market, according to UN investigators.

The blueprints, running to hundreds of pages, show how to make centrifuges for enriching uranium. In addition, the investigators have been unable to trace key components for uranium centrifuge rigs and fear that drawings for a nuclear warhead have been secreted away and could be for sale.

Inspectors at the UN's nuclear authority, the International Atomic Energy Agency, have been investigating the worst nuclear smuggling racket ever uncovered, headed by the Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. The operation was discovered two years ago to be selling sensitive nuclear technology to Libya and Iran.

A senior official said several sets of blueprints for uranium centrifuges - the so-called P-1 and more advanced P-2 systems which were peddled by the Khan network - have gone missing.

"We know there were several sets of them prepared," said the official. "So who got those electronic drawings? We have only actually got to the one full set from Libya. So who got the rest, the copies?

"We have no evidence they were destroyed. One possibility is another client. We just don't know where they are."

A European diplomat privy to western intelligence on the Khan network added: "This is what keeps people awake at night. It's very sensitive. The fact that there are [nuclear] proliferation manuals kicking around is deeply disturbing."

The blueprints detail how to manufacture the components for a uranium centrifuge, what materials are needed, how to assemble the machines, and how to test them. The centrifuges are the main route to producing bomb-grade uranium. Uranium concentrate is converted into uranium hexafluoride gas which can be spun through cascades of centrifuges at super-high speeds to be enriched to weapons grade.

"The big question is who else got this stuff [apart from Iran and Libya]," the European diplomat said.

Another diplomat pointed out that the Khan network was based in the Middle East and that Khan was known as the father of the Islamic bomb. He suggested that Syria and Egypt could be potential customers for the materials if they were still being offered.

Khan is a national hero for creating the Pakistani nuclear bomb but is under house arrest in Islamabad since confessing to heading the network and being pardoned in February last year. [...]

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N Korea has nuclear bombs, building more: official
Thursday, 09 June , 2005, 06:51

Washington: North Korea has a stockpile of nuclear bombs and is building more such weapons, the country's vice foreign minister Kim Gye Gwan said in a US television interview.

"I should say that we have enough nuclear bombs to defend against a US attack," the North Korean official told ABC News when asked how many nuclear bombs it possessed.

Asked whether Pyongyang was building more nuclear bombs, Kim said: "Yes."

His open admission about North Korea's nuclear weapon ambitions further clouds efforts to bring a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear crisis gripping the Korean peninsula.

Washington believes North Korea possesses one or two crude bombs and may have reprocessed enough plutonium for half-a-dozen more, from spent fuel rods at its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

The Stalinist state also has an arsenal of missiles. It fired a long-range missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean in 1998.

Kim, North Korea's chief negotiator in six-party talks designed to wean the hardline communist state from its nuclear weapons program, would neither confirm or deny that North Korea had a missile capable of hitting the mainland United States.

He was also non-committal when asked about North Korea's ability to put a nuclear warhead on its long range missiles.

"I want you to know that our scientists have the knowledge, comparable to other scientists around the world," he said. "You can take it as you like."

But Kim stressed that North Korea "don't have any intention at all of attacking the US." [...]

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Algeria blast kills 13 guards, wounds six
09 June 2005 0755 hrs

ALGIERS : Thirteen communal guards fighting armed Islamists in Algeria were killed and six wounded when a bomb exploded under their truck more than 400 kilometres (250 miles) south of Algiers, Algerian dailies reported late Wednesday on their web sites.

The truck carrying 19 guards on their way to take part in a security force mopping-up operation was blown up on a track near the village of Ain Rich, 180 kilometres (110 miles) southwest of the town of M'Sila, the newspapers said.

Twelve communal guardsmen died on the spot, a thirteenth dying later on the way to hospital. [...]

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Bomb explodes outside Indonesian cleric's house
08 June 2005 1150 hrs

JAKARTA : A small bomb exploded Wednesday at a house rented by an Indonesian Muslim preacher who was once detained for two years without trial in Malaysia for alleged involvement in terrorism, a fellow activist said.

No one was injured in the blast on the outskirts of Jakarta, said Irfan Awwas, chairman of the hardline group Indonesian Mujahedin Council. The preacher, Muhammad Iqbal, also known as Abu Jibril, was being questioned by police, Awwas told AFP.

"We condemn this heinous terror attack. We suspect that police are trying to twist facts by putting the blame on the victims," he said.

Awwas said police searched the house after the explosion, which occured in the grounds near the garage. An AFP photographer at the scene said the blast caused no damage to the house. [...]

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20 killed in Ethiopian political unrest
Wednesday, June 8, 2005 Updated at 6:36 AM EDT
Associated Press

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — Ethiopian security forces opened fire Wednesday on stone-throwing protesters in the central business district, and a human rights group said at least 20 people were killed.

Abebe Terfe, executive secretary of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, said 20 people were killed in a third day of protests over election results. The claim could not immediately be verified, but the group has supplied reliable information in the past.

An Associated Press reporter saw 11 bodies packed into a room in the city's main hospital, many with gunshot wounds, and was told they represented only some of the casualties. Doctors at another hospital reported two dead bodies were taken to that facility.

The government's spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment after the shooting; no other officials were available. [...]

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Chinese mine accidents kill at least 30
Last Updated Wed, 08 Jun 2005 09:47:34 EDT
CBC News

Poison gas and explosions in two mines in China killed at least 30 people on Wednesday, government media reported.

At least 21 people were killed when poison gas leaked into an underground work area at the state-owned Zijiang coal mine in Lengshuijiang city in central Hunan province, state television said.

A government report released in May criticized mine safety at the Zijiang site and 60 other state-owned coal mines.

Nine others were killed in an explosion in an iron mine at Shahe City, in Hebei Province, the state news agency Xinhua said.

Another explosion earlier Wednesday above-ground at the same site injured eight people.

The world's deadliest coal mines are in China, which has suffered a series of mine disasters.

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Three Teens Arrested After Dog Mutilated And Killed

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (AP) -- A dog was stolen from a Presque Isle home, mutilated and killed in what police Chief Naldo Gagnon described as "a horrific crime."

Two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old, whose names were not released, have been charged with aggravated animal cruelty and theft, police said. Two of the teens were on probation from the Mountain View Juvenile Correction Facility in Charleston for prior felony crimes.

A court date for the teenagers is set for Aug. 4. The youths are being held at a state youth detention center or are under house arrest.

Police said a 4-year-old female mixed breed dog was stolen from a local resident, tied near a fallen tree late last week and was cut, stabbed and sliced. There were also signs of blunt force trauma. Police said the dog was left in a bike path near Presque Isle High School and an elementary school.

"We get complaints of abuse to animals, but not like this," Gagnon said Tuesday. "It's quite a horrific crime."

Detective Wayne Selfridge said the dog trusted humans and offered no resistance, even during the assault. The motive for the crime was cited as "wanting to kill something not human," the detective said.

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Ontario passes tough no-smoking legislation
Last Updated Wed, 08 Jun 2005 19:23:36 EDT
CBC News

Ontario has passed a bill the government says is the strictest anti-tobacco legislation in North America. [...]

Comment: We'll have a comment on this as soon as we come back from our smoking break.

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Religious hatred bill is unveiled
Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK

Controversial plans to make incitement to religious hatred illegal are being unveiled by the government.

Critics say the re-introduced bill - which bans insulting words or behaviour intended or likely to stir up religious hatred - will stifle free speech.

But ministers have pledged the new law will not affect "criticism, commentary or ridicule of faiths".

If it mirrors racial hatred laws, the maximum sentence for those found guilty will be seven years in prison.

The bill will apply to comments made in public or in the media, as well as through written material.

Freedom of speech

The government says the legislation is a response to the concerns of faith groups, particularly Muslims.

The Muslim Council of Britain has welcomed the move, arguing that the courts have already extended such protection to Sikh and Jewish people.

Sher Khan, a council spokesman, said to protect some groups but not others contravened the European Convention on Human Rights.

"This is not protection of faith, it is a protection of those who are attached to a particular identity marker," Mr Khan said.

Rabbi Jacqueline Tabick, chairwoman of the World Congress of Faith, also said the legislation was necessary. [...]

Comment: The sponsors of the bill say that it will not affect "criticism, commentary or ridicule of faiths". Certainly there are few things in life that are more deserving of ridicule than organised religion. This one promotes the worshipping of the dead man on a stick, that one has the idea that God gave them the exclusive use of a piece of real estate in the Middle East three thousand years ago, while another has a range of gods and divides people into castes, and they all engage in ritualistic behaviour that indoctrinate their followers into submissive attitudes towards the religious authorities.

Great for social control, not so good if you want to be an independent and critical thinker.

Great for inspiring people to brutal acts of war against the heathen, not so good if you are working for peace on earth.

But to what degree do you trust the lawmakers to really recognise that "criticism, commentary or ridicule of faiths" are excluded from prosecution under the bill? How often do we find that people think "criticism, commentary or ridicule of faiths" is OK until one of their own cherished beliefs becomes the object of that ridicule? Look at the way "anti-Semitism" has been redefined to included any criticism of Israel. Look at how "anti-American" is being redefined to mean anyone who criticises the Bush regime.

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Was Jesus killed by a blood clot?
Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK

Jesus may have died from a blood clot in his lungs, Israeli doctors believe.

Dr Benjamin Brenner from Rambam Medical Centre bases his theory on New Testament and contemporary religious sources about the crucifixion.

He believes Jesus developed a deep vein thrombosis in his legs while nailed to the cross, which then travelled from his legs to his lungs and killed him.

Other scientists dismissed the theory. Bible scholars said the spirituality behind Jesus' death was more important. [...]

Comment: Speaking of ridicule... There is no proof of any sort that Jesus was born, lived, and died as described in the New Testament. The only "proof" comes from the Gospels themselves, not exactly an objective or independent source. However, here we have people going on about how he died as if the question was established, confirmed, verified, and not open to question. We're talking of belief or wishful thinking here, not knowledge, yet it is treated as if it were knowledge.

Where else do we see this is our world today?

Oh, yeah: Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and a handful of Arab terrorists brought down the WTC!

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Hundreds of geese dead from bird flu in China: Hong Kong officials
09 June 2005 0321 hrs

HONG KONG - Hundreds of geese in China's northwestern Xinjiang region have died from bird flu, Hong Kong authorities said they were told by their Chinese counterparts on Wednesday.

"It was understood that there were about 1,042 geese with signs of illness, of which 460 died," the Hong Kong government information service reported late Wednesday, citing a spokesman for the city's Health, Welfare and Food Bureau. "The spokesman said mainland authorities informed the bureau this afternoon that dead geese were found in an individual farm in Tacheng in Xinjiang," the statement issued late Wednesday said.

It said 13,000 birds were culled and Xinjiang authorities took other measures including isolation and disinfection.

"Mainland authorities also carried out vaccination immediately at all poultry farms in the nearby areas and the situation had now been brought under control," the Hong Kong statement said.

The outbreak in Xinjiang follows the deaths from H5N1 of more than 1,000 migratory birds last month in Qinghai southeast of Xinjiang, the first confirmed outbreak in China in nearly a year from the H5N1 virus.

A Chinese veterinary official said then that the disease was spreading along a western China migratory bird route that stretched from South Asia to Central Asia and flew over the Himalayas through the Tibet and Qinghai regions. Xinjiang and Qinghai border Tibet.

The H5N1 virus has been fingered as a possible new strain of flu that could be devastating to humans if it genetically mutates and develops the capacity to be transmitted from human-to-human.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that if this happens it could trigger a new human flu pandemic, potentially killing up to 50 million people worldwide.

So far, a total of 54 deaths have been recorded from H5N1 in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. [...]

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France prevents bird flu virus spreading to humans 2005-06-09 11:26:59

PARIS, June 8 (Xinhuanet) -- France has done a lot of work to prevent a possible massive spread of bird flu to human beings, French government health consultant Didier Houssin said on Wednesday.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the bird flu virus has acquired the capacity to be transmitted to human beings, although its animal-to-human and human-to-human transmission capacity is still limited at the current stage, said Houssin.

Hospitals across France are now well-prepared to host a 10- to 46-percent increase in patients in case of a possible outbreak of the virus among humans and a large team of medical personnel is ready to render home services, he said.

France currently has a reserve of 13.8 million doses of antiviral drugs and more is under production, he added.

Moreover, the country has purchased about 40 million doses of vaccine and more than 10 million masks, which will be ready for use by 2006, when maneuvers against a massive bird-flu outbreak among humans will be staged, he said.

According to reports, H5N1 bird flu has caused 54 human deaths since 2003. It is yet to know what changes the virus has experienced in birds before it was transmitted to humans.

Fearing that the virus might become adapted to human bodies, the WHO has asked countries around the world to adopt preemptive measures against massive outbreaks among humans.

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6.3-magnitude earthquake strikes off Sumatra coast, Indonesia 2005-06-08 20:26:25

JAKARTA, June 8 (Xinhuanet) -- An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of Sumatra on Wednesday, however, it was not immediately clear if there were any casualties or damage, the website of English-language daily Jakarta Post reported.

The tremor was centered 270 kilometers southwest of Medan, North Sumatra, and was recorded at 2:34 p.m. (0634 GMT), said the paper.

The quake prompted panic on the island off Simeulue which was hit by massive tremors earlier this year, witnesses said.

Inhabitants of Sinabang, the main town on the island of Simeulue, rushed out of their homes and offices and gathered in the streets after the tremor hit, witnesses said.

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Earthquake craters appear in Trang
June 8 (TNA)

TRANG, – The latest earthquake to hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra recently has caused massive earth craters to appear in Thailand's southern province of Trang, Provincial Governor Naret Jitsucharitwong confirmed today.

Several houses in Wang Wiset district reported cracks today, while officials from the Department of Mineral Resources have discovered four-metre deep soil craters.

The limestone soil of the area is particularly prone to earthquake-related subsidence, as limestone is characterized by air bubbles under the soil.

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8 June 2005 (15:30 UTC 2)

Kalamata, GREECE - An earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale was recorded in the sea region south of Methoni in Messinia, Peloponnese southern Greece, at 9:05 am today. The tremor was especially felt in the city of Kalamata alarming the people.

Seismologists characterized the phenomenon as regular and pointed out that such earthquakes are recorded often in the region and local residents should not be alarmed. No damages were reported to police.

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Quake may be 'imminent' warns tsunami expert
By Richard Macey
June 9, 2005 - 6:04AM

A scientist who predicted the second Indonesian earthquake fears a third devastating jolt, powerful enough to cause another major tsunami, is "imminent".

The waves could sweep north-western Australia, reaching as far as Perth.

John McCloskey, of the University of Ulster, said building the Indian Ocean tsunami warning system was "an urgent priority".

"Don't take the foot off the gas. This is very urgent work."

In mid March, Professor McCloskey warned that the Boxing Day quake, which triggered the tsunami that killed 300,000 people, had shifted tectonic stresses to another spot on Sumatra's geological fault line.

He predicted a second strong quake, noting many did not believe lightning could strike twice. "But with earthquakes it's exactly the opposite ... I quite honestly hope we're completely wrong."

He wasn't. The second quake, measuring 8.3, struck on March 28 near the Simeulue and Nias islands, killing 2000 people.

In a new study, published in Nature, Professor McCloskey's team reports that "stresses imposed by the second rupture have brought closer to failure" another zone "immediately to the south, under the Batu and Mentawai islands".

"The historical record and the experience of the Sumatra-Andaman and Simeulue-Nias events indicate that a tsunami could be a possibility."

Professor McCloskey told the Herald it would likely strike near the Mentawai islands, triggering a repeat performance of the 8.5 quake of 1833. "The 1833 earthquake is probably a reasonable model. It did trigger a tsunami and there were many casualties. That's the type of earthquake we fear it definitely could be."

Professor McCloskey noted that the 1833 tsunami reached north-western Australia. Next time "the waves would be felt in Perth," he said, adding he could not say how strong they would be.

It was impossible to say when it would happen, but the evidence, including historical data, showed it could be within 30 years, following the pattern of the 1833 and 1861 Sumatra quakes.

"It may be sooner. We must assume it's imminent and behave accordingly. We can't bury our heads in the sand." [...]

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Earthquake measuring 5.5 points on the Richter scale hits Taiwan, causes no damage
XIANGGANG (Hong Kong), June 8 (Itar-Tass)

An earthquake measuring 5.5 points on the Richter scale occurred in the northeastern part of Taiwan on Wednesday, the Chinese main seismological agency said.

The quake epicenter was located in the marine zone off the coastline of the Hualien county.

There was no immediate information about damage or casualties.

Taiwan is one of the most seismically dangerous areas in East Asia.

Taiwan's worst earthquake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, occurred in September 1999 and claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people.

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Volcano blast prompts evacuation in Mexico
(AFP) Jun 07, 2005

MEXICO CITY - Colima volcano erupted explosively overnight, prompting the evacuation of a nearby town, Juan Barragan, civil defense authorities said Tuesday.

Forty-five residents moved voluntarily away from Colima, 500 kilometers (300 miles) west of Mexico City, Civil Protection said in a statement.

Other towns are far enough away to be safe from the volcano, known to be active for 500 years.

The volcano exploded twice in 48 hours, officials said, once sending an enormous plume some 4,500 meters (15,000 feet) into the air.

The blast set an all-time record in strength and altitude for Colima.

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Sofia in the Grip of Emergency State

Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofianski has announced a state of emergency as of Tuesday noon because of the heavy rains and floods soaking the capital city for the last few days.

After many towns and cities to the north of Bulgaria were plunged under water for the whole last week, the bad weather has creeped to the south making many rivers spilling over their banks.

Thousands of houses and farmland were engulfed by the mass inundations that have reached the outskirts of Sofia city as well. [...]

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Drought-Hit Portugal Battles Large Wildfire As Temperatures Soar
(AFP) Jun 07, 2005

Lisbon - More than 200 firefighters backed by a water-dropping helicopter and nearly 60 vehicles were on Tuesday battling a large wind-fueled wildfire in drought-hit Portugal, emergency services workers said. [...]

Portugal, which is suffering though its worst drought in decades, is currently sweltering through a heatwave.

The national weather office has issued a heat warning for eight of the country's 18 regions because of forecasts that temperatures there would hover near 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) over the next few days.

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