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"Here we're talking about plastic knives and using an American Airlines flight filed with our citizens, and the missile to damage this building and similar (inaudible) that damaged the World Trade Center."

Rumsfeld speaking from the Pentagon in an interview with Parade Magazine Oct 12, 2001

"And I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon"

- Rumsfeld speaking to US Troops in Iraq December 24, 2004



Hustler asks "What if Everything You Know about 9/11 is Wrong?"

by Bruce David and Carolyn Sinclair
Hustler magazine
August 2005

We all know what happened on September 11, 2001 - Osama bin Laden inspired 19 Muslim extremists to hijack commercial airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. But what if it didn't happen that way at all?

David Ray Griffin is a professor of theology, a well-respected scholar and author of more than 20 books, including The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions and The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11. Griffin maintains that the evidence contradicts the government's official story and that, so far, nobody's come up with a theory that can account for all of the facts.

At HUSTLER we believe the murder of 2,986 innocent people demands hard questions and digging deeper. We're especially troubled by the collapse of Building 7, but we're determined to keep an open mind. As such, we sit down with Griffin to discuss what appear to be disturbing inconsistencies with the government's story.

HUSTLER: You've compiled a record of the facts-but are they beyond dispute?

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: I simply gather research that has been done by others, a lot of it based on mainline stories from The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Guardian and so on. These reports tend to, more or less, contradict the official theory.

You say there's reason to question the government's official position on Osama bin Laden.

One problem with the official theory of the attacks being pulled off entirely by the 19 men named as al Qaeda terrorists is that six of them have, subsequently, shown up very much alive. This has been reported in the BBC, but not in the American mainstream press. One guy even walked into the U.S. Embassy and asked what was this nonsense about his having died on 9/11?

What are some other problems with the official story?

The government had every reason to know this was going to happen. There were some 52 warnings of the attack, many of which the Bush Administration didn't see fit to have released until after the inauguration. A little bit came out during the 9/1 1 hearings. For example, Condoleezza Rice-who had been describing the famous August 6, 2001, memo from British intelligence as merely historical in nature-was forced to admit that the title of it was "Bin Laden Determined to Strike within the United States." Many people have thought that was the strongest evidence of foreknowledge-but not at all.

Another example involves David Schippers, the attorney who prosecuted Bill Clinton and is highly thought of in Republican circles. Schippers says he called up Attorney General John Ashcroft repeatedly to tell him that FBI agents were warning of an attack, that they knew the date and said it was going to be in Lower Manhattan. Schippers couldn't get the Attorney General's office to call him back. The New American, a conservative political magazine, interviewed these FBI agents and confirmed their story.

Further evidence of foreknowledge involves the Secret Service's seeming to not only know the attacks were coming, but know who was targeted and who was not. That morning [of September 11], Bush was in a classroom in Sarasota, Florida, publicizing his education program. After the second building was struck, there could be no doubt the country was under attack. Yet Bush just sat there for about ten minutes.

Many people have criticized the President for not getting up immediately and going into commander-in-chief mode, but really, the Pentagon handles these things. Standard operating procedure dictates the Secret Service should have sprung into action and whisked Bush out of the classroom, into a car and away to some secure location.

The Secret Service should have assumed that the President would be the next target and at least take action as if that might be the case. The head of the FAA had just reported that there were 11 planes unaccounted for; and so there might have been 11 hijacked planes at that time. Yet the Secret Service did nothing. Bush went on national TV at about 9:30 for a prescheduled talk, and then they got in the limousine and went in the caravan on the normally scheduled route to the airport. When they got to the airport, they hadn't even called ahead to make sure there was jet fighter cover for Air Force One.

What are some of the contradictions involving the attacks?

One involves the story about the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. We had three buildings collapse there, the North Tower [WTC I], the South Tower [WTC 2] and Building 7 [WTC 71. Each was a high-rise steel-frame building. Now, steel-frame high-rise buildings have never in the history of the universe been brought down by fire. And yet on this day, three of them were allegedly brought down by fire. There have been experiments with buildings raging with fire. In the experiments, fire made them sag a little, but never caused them to collapse. [See Madrid high-rise fire, page 34.] And yet on 9/11 these three buildings, which had relatively small fires in them, collapsed.

People have the image of the South Tower in their minds, and they think, Oh, these were towering infernos. But most of the jet fuel exploded outside of the South Tower, which produced the really dramatic effect. But you have to remember, that effect only lasted for a few seconds, and the fuel burned up very quickly. In the South Tower there was relatively little fuel to feed the fire inside; so it would have had to be feeding on carpets, on desks and things like that. And yet the South Tower collapsed in less than an hour after it was hit.

The collapse of Building 7 is particularly unusual, and yet the 9/11 Commission never mentions it once in their report. Somehow fire got started in Building 7, which is two blocks away and was never hit by a plane. There was no jet fuel inside to feed the fire. There are photographs that show only small fires on floors 7 and 12 of this 47-story building. And yet at 5:20 in the afternoon it comes collapsing down in exactly the same way as the other buildings.

Now I stress in the same way because they all came straight down into their own footprint for the most part. They collapsed very quickly, within about ten seconds. That's amazing when you think about it, that fire could produce that kind of effect, just like controlled demolition. In fact, on that very night, Dan Rather-viewing the collapse of Building 7-blurted out, "It looked just like one of those controlled demolitions."

Further evidence of Building 7 being brought down by controlled demolition came from Larry Silverstein, the man who had recently taken a lease on the entire complex. In a PBS documentary from September 2002, Silverstein said he told the fire commander that the smartest thing to do was "pull it." Next, he says, they "made that decision to pull" and watched the building collapse. Pull is a term commonly used to describe using explosives to demolish a building. Silverstein allegedly made almost $500 million in profit from the collapse of Building 7.

If the Twin Towers did come down by controlled demolition, wouldn't they have to be wired for the event well in advance of the attack?

They would have had to be wired, and then closer to the time [of the attack] the explosives would actually have to be placed. Several people who worked in the towers reported that there were times [shortly before the attack] when a certain part of one tower or the other was sectioned off for several days, and no one could go there except these special workers who were called "engineers." So it does appear that there could have been this kind of advance planning and that there would have been time to do this.

Also, because of terrorist alerts, they had been taking bomb-sniffing dogs through the buildings, checking for explosives. There is a report that the bomb-sniffing dogs were called off the weekend prior to 9/11.

Are there also inconsistencies involving the hijacked aircraft?

Let's start with Flight 77, which is credited with crashing into the Pentagon. There are many problems with the official story, which is that it took off from Washington, D.C., went west, then got hijacked, then turned around and came hack. Somehow it flew through American airspace, toward the Pentagon for about 40 minutes, without being detected.

Our multi-trillion-dollar defense system proved to be worthless. Even more striking, whatever hit the Pentagon hit the West Wing. These terrorists are supposedly so brilliant that they defeat this trillion-dollar system, and yet they didn't know that the West Wing was the worst part of the Pentagon to hit because all the top brass and Rumsfeld, whom you would presume they would want to kill, were in the East Wing.

Secondly, the West Wing was being renovated. It had been reinforced; so fire would not spread from the West Wing to the other parts, causing much less damage. Furthermore, very few regular workers were there because of the renovation. Most of the people killed were civilian workers, not Pentagon employees. We were told that the facade of the West Wing was hit by this Boeing 757, which weighs 100 tons and was going 300 miles per hour. Yet the facade of the West Wing didn't collapse until a half hour later. Photographs taken by a Marine and an AP photographer show there was a relatively small hole in the facade. And we're supposed to believe the 757, with a 120-foot wingspan and 40-foot-high tail, went through there. The wreckage should he out on the yard, but the photographs show no Boeing visible.

Were aircraft parts ever found in the Pentagon wreckage?

'There is clearly good evidence that plane parts were photographed in the Pentagon. But that they were parts from a Boeing 757 is highly and vigorously contested by many students of 'this event. What passes for the official story is that somehow this airplane hit the building, went into this tiny hole, which forced the wings back, and so they folded up and slipped inside the building.

The fire chief in charge of putting out the fire was asked if he saw any plane parts inside. He said no big pieces, no fuselage, no engine, nothing like that. So the people who try to defend this story respond by saying the fire was so hot it vaporized the plane. It not only melted the steel and the aluminum, but it vaporized them; and that's why they disappeared.

We've since learned that a lot of the bodies in the WTC were so destroyed that they were not able to identify them using any modern techniques. Yet this fire in the Pentagon that was hot enough to vaporize steel and aluminum left the bodies so they could be identified.

If the government did allow or enable the 9/11 attacks, what is the motivation?

The September 11 attacks are being used as the excuse for virtually everything the Bush/Cheney Administration is doing. Although Iraq had nothing to do with it-everybody agrees on that now-9/11 was used as the basis for this war. These guys had been champing at the bit to attack Iraq since 1992.

In 1997 some of them formed The Project for the New American Century, a think tank that claims to promote American global leadership. This organization involved Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld and many others who became central members and ideologues of the Bush Administration. In 2000 the group produced a report titled "Rebuilding America's Defenses" that outlines transforming the military and points out that this will be very expensive.

Since the Cold War is over, the report said, we don't have that excuse to keep military spending up. Many were talking about cutbacks on defense, i.e. military spending. Americans won't be willing to pony up money for defense unless there's an event that makes them feel insecure and threatened by external forces. Therefore, according to the report, any transformation of military affairs will go rather slowly, "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event-like a new Pearl Harbor."

You've suggested that we will know what happened on 9/11 when those in power are arrested or forced to give sworn testimony. Who should that be?

Cumulative evidence would seem to suggest that it was people such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Meyers who probably would have led the activities. Somebody had to give stand-down orders. Standard FAA operating procedures involve contacting the military if there's any sign a plane may have been hijacked, if a plane goes radically off course and they can't call it back, or if it loses radio contact or the transponder's turned off.

The FAA calls the military, which calls the nearest Air Force base, which sends out jet fighters. They typically scramble a couple of fighters; and they have a regular routine where they tell the pilots you've been intercepted, follow me. If they won't comply, then the military pilot requests permission to take more drastic action. None of that happened on September 11. Not a single plane was intercepted. Normally, this occurs within about 15 minutes after signs of problems. In the case of Flight 77, after almost 40 minutes, there's no jet fighter on the scene.

But it gets more problematic. In the-first few days we got three different stories about why there were no interceptions. The first story Meyers and NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command] told was that we didn't send planes up until after the Pentagon was hit. In other words, an hour and a half went by before any planes were scrambled. That story created lots of questions, and so they immediately changed it. On September 18, NORAD came out and said we did send up fighters, but the FAA was slow in contacting us, and we tried to get there in time, but didn't make it.

Then researchers examined the timelines. Those jets can go from scramble order to 29,000 feet in 2.5 minutes and fly 1,850 miles an hour, which means they should have arrived in time, even if the FAA was late.

With the 9/11 Commission, we get a third story from the military, which is the FAA didn't notify us late; they didn't notify us at all. More precisely, they had only nine minutes notice with Flight 11, the first flight, and no notice about the other three flights until after they had crashed. Of course, this ignores the fact that the military has a radar system by their own account that is far superior to that of the FAA. But for now this is the official story.

Are there also inconsistencies regarding Flight 93, the airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania?

With the first three flights the question is, why weren't they intercepted or possibly shot down? With Flight 93 the question is, why does it seem the government shot this plane down after it appeared the passengers were about to wrest control of it? There was a certified pilot aboard as a passenger who would have been able to bring the plane down safely. You would have had live people, presumably live hijackers, to interrogate.

There's an enormous amount of evidence that Flight 93 was shot down. The government denied it. It's strange that they did, because they could have said, "This plane was heading toward the Pentagon or the White House, and we were protecting Washington, doing our job." For some reason they chose to deny that they had shot it down; and that became the official story. In the 9/11 Commission Report they do big-time damage control and remove the possibility that it could have been shot down by changing the timelines rather drastically.

Everybody knows and agrees that Cheney gave the shoot-down order. Prior to the 9/11 Commission Report, we were led to believe that permission was given at about 9:45. Many news reports suggest that the shoot-down order was given before 10 a.m. By his own testimony, Cheney was in charge, down in the underground bunker-the emergency operation center.

Norman Mineta, Secretary of Transportation, testified that when he got down to the underground bunker at about 9:20, Cheney was already there and had been there for some time. That supports the view that he got down there at least by 9:15. The 9/11 Commission ignores that evidence and says Cheney didn't get there until almost 10 a.m. and issued the order after 10:lO a.m. They conclude the military couldn't possibly have shot down Flight 93 because it went down at 10:03 or 10:06.

Standard operating procedures don't require a call from the President; the Pentagon chain of command can do it. So Rumsfeld, Meyers or a subordinate could have done it. In any case, they created the idea that only the President or the Vice President could order it. This is one of the biggest lies in the 9/11 Commission Report.

Do you think the truth will ever come out?

It is extremely difficult to get the truth to come out in America because the mainstream media are not only co-opted, but accomplices in these matters. This is understandable because we have a corporate-owned media.

Take NBC, for example, which is owned by General Electric, one of the major producers of military equipment in the world. It's very unlikely you're going to get some reporter on NBC to expose this stuff. Thus far we've seen nothing about this in any mainstream magazine, newspaper or television show in this country.

An international commission with prestigious people would be able to command attention-so much so that even the American press would be unable to ignore it.

Among the many Web sites devoted to this topic are 911Research.com, WTC7.net and 911Truth.org.

Comment: David Ray Griffen's The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11 is an excellent summary of the evidence showing the official story is more absurd than the so-called "conspiracy theories". He calmly goes through the evidence -- published in the mainstream media -- that contradicts the story that 19 Arab terrorists were responsible.

His book is the one to give to people who can't believe that "our government" would do such a thing but who are open to learning more.

For more on Griffen see our article The Bush Administration and 9/11 - 100 Reasons For Dissent.

For our analysis of 9/11, check out Comments on the Pentagon Strike.

And, of course, don't forget the video that has been seen by over 300,000,000 people: Pentagon Strike!

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TV show depicts 9/11 as Bush plot
By Tom Goeller
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A fictional crime drama based on the premise that the Bush administration ordered the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington aired this week on German state television, prompting the Green Party chairman to call for an investigation.

"I think absolutely nothing of the conspiracy theory that has been hawked in this series. I hope this particular TV movie will be discussed very critically at the next supervisory board meeting of ARD [state television]," said Green Party Chairman Reinhard Buetikofer, who acknowledged that he had not seen the show.

Sunday night's episode of "Tatort," a popular murder mystery that has been running on state-run ARD-German television for 35 years, revolved around a German woman and a man who was killed in her apartment.

According to the plot, which was seen by approximately 7 million Germans, the dead man had been trained to be one of the September 11 pilots but was left behind, only to be tracked down and killed by CIA or FBI assassins.

The woman, who says in the program that the September 11 attacks were instigated by the Bush family for oil and power, then is targeted, presumably to silence her. The drama concludes with the German detectives accepting the truth of her story as she eludes the U.S. government hit men and escapes to safety in an unnamed Arab country.

As ludicrous as it may sound to most Americans, the tale has resonance in Germany, where fantastic conspiracy theories often are taken as fact.

Comment: We do not doubt that the story sounds ludicrous to some Americans. Yet it seems that there are many Americans who are able to see the lies, but with Bush and Gang having control of the media and judiciary, they know that they risk their lives and their families' safety if they speak out...

Many Germans think, for example, that the 1969 moon landing was faked, and a poll published in the weekly Die Zeit showed that 31 percent of Germans younger than 30 "think that there is a certain possibility that the U.S. government ordered the attacks of 9/11."

Comment: Many Americans also theorize that the moon landing was faked and that the Bush government had a significant role in 9/11. In both cases, Germans are not alone in their suspicions since there is a great deal of evidence that contradicts the official versions of events. Regarding 9/11, watch the Pentagon Strike for starters.

In fact, three of the hijackers who seized control of commercial airlines on September 11, 2001, including the ringleader, Mohamed Atta, purportedly had ties to a Hamburg, Germany-based al Qaeda cell.

Comment: And yet, strangely enough, all the German trials of 9/11 "terrorists" seem to end in acquittal due to a rather conspicuous lack of evidence... In contrast, the trials of suspected terrorists in the US don't - oh wait, we forgot: The US doesn't give accused terrorists a fair trial; it throws them to the wolves of Guantanamo, Syria, Egypt, or Uzbekistan to be tortured and/or killed.

ARD, and ARD-produced television shows, are funded by a monthly tax on German televisions. The network plays a role similar to the British Broadcasting Corp., or the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States, which is nominally independent but funded by taxpayers.

"Tatort," which translates to "Crime Scene," is a drama with a rotating cast of actors solving mysteries in weekly episodes set throughout Germany.

The U.S. Embassy in Berlin was not impressed with the latest episode, which seemed to use haunting Arabic music to portray Arabs and Muslims as innocent victims of American aggression.

"Any claim or suggestion that the United States government was behind the 9/11 disaster is absolutely absurd and not worthy of further comment," said Robert A. Wood, spokesman for the embassy.

A German diplomat in Washington said no one in Germany took the plot seriously because it was "pure fiction."

"It was so out of line with what people really think," the diplomat said, adding that the episode does not deserve further comment.

Comment: This German diplomat obviously does not represent the German people very well...

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The View From The Other Side of the Tracks
Dick Gordon
Show Originally Aired: 6/10/2005

Small town America is seeing a new front in the historical struggle for equality. Civil rights leaders say it's a form of residual segregation and it's showing up in places like California, Ohio and North Carolina.

Many towns are becoming ever more prosperous, while their original minority neighborhoods are still kept outside city limits. In some cases the black and Latino neighborhoods are all but encircled by big homes, but left without sewer pipes, police and fire protection.

In places like Pinehurst NC, long-time residents have septic tanks leaking up through their lawns while they live next door to a golf course so pristine it hosts the U.S. Open. Some local elected officials argue the disparity is not deliberate. It just reflects the natural course of development and they can't afford the bill.

Comment: "Residual segregation"? How about structural segregation? How about deep-seated, socially conditioned, and officially sponsored and promoted segregation?

They can't afford to put sewers into the poor neighborhoods? And how much was given in tax incentives to the developers of the "pristine" golf courses? "Sorry, ma'am. Can't do anything about it. It's just the natural course of development!"

Until the stench begins to waft over through pristine golf links and the well-to-do begin to complain. Then they'll find a solution. They'll fine the homeowners!

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Losing Our Country
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: June 10, 2005

Baby boomers like me grew up in a relatively equal society. In the 1960's America was a place in which very few people were extremely wealthy, many blue-collar workers earned wages that placed them comfortably in the middle class, and working families could expect steadily rising living standards and a reasonable degree of economic security.

But as The Times's series on class in America reminds us, that was another country. The middle-class society I grew up in no longer exists.

Working families have seen little if any progress over the past 30 years. Adjusted for inflation, the income of the median family doubled between 1947 and 1973. But it rose only 22 percent from 1973 to 2003, and much of that gain was the result of wives' entering the paid labor force or working longer hours, not rising wages.

Meanwhile, economic security is a thing of the past: year-to-year fluctuations in the incomes of working families are far larger than they were a generation ago. All it takes is a bit of bad luck in employment or health to plunge a family that seems solidly middle-class into poverty.

But the wealthy have done very well indeed. Since 1973 the average income of the top 1 percent of Americans has doubled, and the income of the top 0.1 percent has tripled.

Why is this happening? I'll have more to say on that another day, but for now let me just point out that middle-class America didn't emerge by accident. It was created by what has been called the Great Compression of incomes that took place during World War II, and sustained for a generation by social norms that favored equality, strong labor unions and progressive taxation. Since the 1970's, all of those sustaining forces have lost their power.

Since 1980 in particular, U.S. government policies have consistently favored the wealthy at the expense of working families - and under the current administration, that favoritism has become extreme and relentless. From tax cuts that favor the rich to bankruptcy "reform" that punishes the unlucky, almost every domestic policy seems intended to accelerate our march back to the robber baron era.

It's not a pretty picture - which is why right-wing partisans try so hard to discredit anyone who tries to explain to the public what's going on.

These partisans rely in part on obfuscation: shaping, slicing and selectively presenting data in an attempt to mislead. For example, it's a plain fact that the Bush tax cuts heavily favor the rich, especially those who derive most of their income from inherited wealth. Yet this year's Economic Report of the President, in a bravura demonstration of how to lie with statistics, claimed that the cuts "increased the overall progressivity of the federal tax system."

The partisans also rely in part on scare tactics, insisting that any attempt to limit inequality would undermine economic incentives and reduce all of us to shared misery. That claim ignores the fact of U.S. economic success after World War II. It also ignores the lesson we should have learned from recent corporate scandals: sometimes the prospect of great wealth for those who succeed provides an incentive not for high performance, but for fraud.

Above all, the partisans engage in name-calling. To suggest that sustaining programs like Social Security, which protects working Americans from economic risk, should have priority over tax cuts for the rich is to practice "class warfare." To show concern over the growing inequality is to engage in the "politics of envy."

But the real reasons to worry about the explosion of inequality since the 1970's have nothing to do with envy. The fact is that working families aren't sharing in the economy's growth, and face growing economic insecurity. And there's good reason to believe that a society in which most people can reasonably be considered middle class is a better society - and more likely to be a functioning democracy - than one in which there are great extremes of wealth and poverty.

Reversing the rise in inequality and economic insecurity won't be easy: the middle-class society we have lost emerged only after the country was shaken by depression and war. But we can make a start by calling attention to the politicians who systematically make things worse in catering to their contributors. Never mind that straw man, the politics of envy. Let's try to do something about the politics of greed.

Comment: If you live in the States and you've noticed that things have gotten harder, not easier, during the course of your lifetime, you're right. You're not dreaming. Behind the myth of the US not being a "class society" we find the facts as given by Krugman and in the article on "residual segregation". Of course the US is a class society, and with the exception of a few years when US economic and political power was strong enough to pass along the fruits of its pillage of the rest of the world to its own workers, these class contradictions and tensions have been evident. They go right back to the years following the American Revolution with the Shay Rebellion.

Of course, the country was still expanding within its current borders for much of that history. Space was available for pioneers to go out and make it on their own, to escape the social structures of the original colonies. Yet in 1861, the Civil War began and millions of Americans killed each other in a fight between the industrialised north and the rural and slave-owning south. There was a class basis to that slaughter. Over 500,000 lost their lives during the conflict either on the battlefield or due to disease and other consequences of the war. Over 400,000 were wounded.

Of course, the Civil War is ancient history and modern man is so much more civilised as the millions of deaths from war in the last 100 years so amply demonstrate.

Returning to Mr. Krugman, US history shows that the post-war rise of the middle class was the blip in the graph, it was the anomaly. None of the factors are in place for a return to those golden years. The US may be the lone superpower, but it's economic and military power is overstretched. There won't be the same amounts of money coming in that could be trickled down to the less fortunate - those 99% who haven't seen their incomes double or triple. Other countries are less willing to sell off their natural resources to the consuming countries without demanding something in return. And if the leaders don't make those demands, then the population may well to it in their own name, as events in Bolivia are showing us.

Americans may continue to ride around in their SUVs, purchased through a remortgage of the house, oblivious to the changes occurring behind the scenes, that is, behind the screens of their televisions and computers, but sooner or later it will catch up with them. Rather than blame the 1% who are pulling the strings, they'll be told to blame it on the Arabs or some other bogeyman of the hour. And most of them will believe it. Those who don't will be under the watchful eye of the Department of Homeland Security, ready to be carted away should they attempt to organise to protect themselves.

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GOP Chairman Walks Out of Meeting
By JIM ABRAMS
The Associated Press
Friday, June 10, 2005; 11:03 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Republican chairman walked off with the gavel, leaving Democrats shouting into turned-off microphones at a raucous hearing Friday on the Patriot Act.

The House Judiciary Committee hearing, with the two sides accusing each other of being irresponsible and undemocratic, came as President Bush was urging Congress to renew those sections of the post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism law set to expire in September.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the panel, abruptly gaveled the meeting to an end and walked out, followed by other Republicans. Sensenbrenner declared that much of the testimony, which veered into debate over the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, was irrelevant.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., protested, raising his voice as his microphone went off, came back on, and went off again.

"We are not besmirching the honor of the United States, we are trying to uphold it," he said.

Democrats asked for the hearing, the 11th the committee has held on the act since April, saying past hearings had been too slanted toward witnesses who supported the law. The four witnesses were from groups, including Amnesty International USA and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, that have questioned the constitutionality of some aspects of the act, which allows law enforcement greater authority to investigate suspected terrorists.

Nadler said Sensenbrenner, one of the authors of the Patriot Act, was "rather rude, cutting everybody off in mid-sentence with an attitude of total hostility."

Tempers flared when Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., accused Amnesty International of endangering the lives of Americans in uniform by referring to the prison at Guantanamo Bay as a "gulag." Sensenbrenner didn't allow the Amnesty representative, Chip Pitts, to respond until Nadler raised a "point of decency."

Sensenbrenner's spokesman, Jeff Lungren, said the hearing had lasted two hours and "the chairman was very accommodating, giving members extra time."

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, speaking immediately after Sensenbrenner left, voiced dismay over the proceedings. "I'm troubled about what kind of lesson this gives" to the rest of the world, he told the Democrats remaining in the room.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, in a statement, said the hearing was an example of Republican abuse of power and she would ask House Speaker Dennis Hastert to order an apology from Sensenbrenner.

Comment: If it wasn't obvious before that dissent is not allowed in the US, it is now. The Patriot Act I and II are here to stay, and the march towards fascism continues. It appears that slowly but surely, the Democratic party will vanish as the illusion of the two-party system dies under the Neocon jackboot.

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Dean's Zeal Is Looking Like Zealotry, Some Fear
By Richard Simon
Times Staff Writer
June 10, 2005

WASHINGTON - When Howard Dean was chosen to head their party, Democrats looked forward to the benefits of his bristling energy and zest for political combat.

But at a private meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill, a number of worried Senate Democrats warned Dean that he had been going overboard and needed to choose his words more carefully.

The former Vermont governor and unsuccessful presidential candidate recently referred to the GOP as "pretty much a white, Christian party" and declared that a lot of Republicans have "never made an honest living in their lives."

Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) said that at the Capitol Hill meeting, "there couldn't be any doubt that there was some concern, even by Dean himself," about how his comments had been received.

The meeting had been scheduled to discuss party strategy before Dean's controversial comments.

Also Thursday, two Democrats seen as rising stars - Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee and Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner - made a point of distancing themselves from Dean's remarks.

Ford, who plans a Senate run next year, said on the Don Imus radio show that if Dean could not "temper his comments, it may get to the point where the party may need to look elsewhere for leadership, because he does not speak for me."

Ford later told The Times that Dean was "leading us in a direction that makes it difficult to win…. His leadership right now is not serving any of us very well." [...]

Dean, in a speech Monday in San Francisco, said Republicans were "not very friendly to different kinds of people. They are a pretty monolithic party…. It's pretty much a white, Christian party."

A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 82% of Republicans identified themselves as white Christians. For Democrats, the figure was 57%. Given those findings, some people defended Dean's comment. But many criticized it as divisive. [...]

Political analysts agreed that Dean's recent comments could hurt Democrats. "Every time he makes an outrageous remark, other Democratic leaders have to answer questions about it," said John J. Pitney Jr., a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College. "So instead of talking about their best issues, they're talking about their loose cannon."

"He's throwing them off message." [...]

Comment: Dean is branded a "zealot" for making a statement that was confirmed by a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. While his actions are certainly helping the conservative Republicans in control of the US, Sensenbrenner's recent actions at the Patriot Act debate look a lot more like zealotry than Dean stating the obvious.

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Security contractor says Marines abused him and other contractors in Iraq
AP
6/11/2005 4:28 AM

RENO - Security contractors were heckled, humiliated and physically abused by U.S. Marines in Iraq while jailed for 72 hours with insurgents, one of the detainees said Friday.

"We were being held with terrorists," says Mat Raiche, an ex-Marine detained by current Marines in Iraq as a contractor.

"It was disbelief the whole time. I couldn't believe what was happening," said Matt Raiche, 34, an ex-Marine who was one of 16 American and three Iraqi contractors detained at Camp Fallujah last month.

"I just found it crazy that we were being held with terrorists, that we were put in the same facility with them," he told The Associated Press in an interview at his lawyer's office. "They were calling us a rogue mercenary team."

Defense officials disclosed on Thursday that the security guards for Charlotte, N.C.-based Zapata Engineering were detained for three days after they fired from trucks and SUVs on Iraqi civilian cars and U.S. forces in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad.

The military has denied the contractors were abused. No charges have been filed against any of the contractors, who the military said were separated from suspected insurgents.

Company president Manuel Zapata said the only shot fired by his workers was a warning blast after they noticed a vehicle following them.

Raiche, of Dayton, Nev., said the contractors were stopped and taken into custody on May 28. He said a Marine told him that shots had been fired, and Raiche told him, "It wasn't us."

Raiche said several of the contractors were interrogated before they were released June 1 with no official explanation for their detention.

Raiche said guards intimidated the detainees with dogs, made them strip and told them to wear towels over their heads when they went to the restroom so insurgents in the facility would not recognize and harm them, Raiche said.

One of his colleagues was slammed to the ground by a guard, he said.

"His head bounced off the asphalt." Raiche said. "He told me he heard one guard say to another, 'If he moves, let the dog loose.'"

Raiche said his colleague told him that a guard then reached down and "squeezed his testicles so hard he could barely move."

When Raiche first arrived at the facility, he said a guard ordered him to the ground and put a knee in his back. He said he heard one Marine say, "How does it feel now making that big contractor money?"

Raiche said the Marines handcuffed them with "zip lock ties." When the detainees complained they were so tight they were losing circulation in their hands, they were cursed at and told to shut up, Raiche said.

Raiche returned to Reno on Thursday night. He said he had been in Iraq for about two years before returning to Nevada earlier this spring, then headed back to Iraq on May 2.

An estimated 20,000 Americans, many of them former military personnel, are believed to be working in Iraq for contractors. More than 200 private workers have died in Iraq.

Zapata Engineering contracts frequently with the Defense Department and Zapata said he was waiting for completion of the investigation before he draws conclusions about how the military treated his workers.

Comment: It seems the Bush family's private army and the official US military aren't getting along so well...

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12 dead as bombs shatter Baghdad calm
AFP
June 11, 2005

BAGHDAD - At least 12 people were killed in two Baghdad bombings that shattered the relative calm in the capital since US and Iraqi forces launched a joint sweep for insurgents three weeks ago.

In the countryside just to the south, dubbed the Triangle of Death for its insurgent violence, 11 Iraqi construction workers were killed when gunmen attacked their minibus, police said.

Ten people died when the first Baghdad blast tore through a Shiite neighbourhood, shortly before a night-time curfew came into effect and as US and Iraqi officials warned against complacency despite counter-insurgency successes.

A pregnant woman, her unborn child and husband were reportedly among the dead.

In the second blast, at least two members of the elite Wolf Brigades died and 21 were wounded when a suicide bomber walked into their central Baghdad barracks, striking the vanguard of those trying to bring peace to the capital.

A patriotic song regularly broadcast on Iraqi television says that members of the fearless brigade "disarm bombs with their teeth".

The police commando unit had come to the capital as part of Operation Lightning, a major offensive launched amid fanfare in May and reportedly involving 40,000 Iraqis forces.

Even before the fresh blasts, a US commander had warned of the likelihood of renewed violence despite the arrest of 1,000 suspected insurgents in the massive sweep.

"The enemy is pretty frustrated and looking for the opportunity to have large-scale coordinated attacks. That could happen within the week, but it won't last weeks or even days," he said, because "they don't have public support."

"The insurgency is weaker than it was last year, weaker than a few months ago, but it's not about to wither up and die. By the nature of insurgency, it takes a long time."

The bullet-riddled corpses of two brothers and a cousin were found on a main road in south Baghdad, after they were lured from their homes by men in police uniforms the night before, an interior ministry official said.

Three police commandos were killed in a drive-by shooting, while a US patrol killed two insurgents after they also came under fire from a passing car. [...]

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said Thursday that Operation Lightning would soon be expanded to other cities and justified it by the "exceptional circumstances" facing the country.

"All countries facing the same exceptional circumstances as
Iraq will resort to similar measures," Jaafari told reporters.

His spokesman, Leith Kubba, warned earlier this week that Iraqis had to bear the cost of the operation to root out insurgents from the capital, involving stepped-up checkpoints, raids, searches and arrests.

"It's not an easy thing and there is a price to be paid," said Kubba.

"Fighting these criminal networks ... and eradicating them will not happen with a knockout blow, but rather it will be a slow death and it will happen with continuous efforts to isolate them."

Almost 700 people died in a frenzy of car bombings and other attacks in May, one of the bloodiest months since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Comment: Given that May was one of the bloodiest months since the US invaded Iraq, it hardly seems likely that the "insurgents" are getting frustrated. They are thriving.

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Comment: The next two articles give some indication of the quagmire in which the US has gotten itself in Iraq. The second article gives some evidence that the quagmire was a necessary first step to the dismemberment of Iraq.

Building Iraq's Army: Mission Improbable
Project in North Reveals Deep Divide Between U.S. and Iraqi Forces

By Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, June 10, 2005; A01

BAIJI, Iraq -- An hour before dawn, the sky still clouded by a dust storm, the soldiers of the Iraqi army's Charlie Company began their mission with a ballad to ousted president Saddam Hussein. "We have lived in humiliation since you left," one sang in Arabic, out of earshot of his U.S. counterparts. "We had hoped to spend our life with you."

But the Iraqi soldiers had no clue where they were going. They shrugged their shoulders when asked what they would do. The U.S. military had billed the mission as pivotal in the Iraqis' progress as a fighting force but had kept the destination and objectives secret out of fear the Iraqis would leak the information to insurgents.

"We can't tell these guys about a lot of this stuff, because we're not really sure who's good and who isn't," said Rick McGovern, a tough-talking 37-year-old platoon sergeant from Hershey, Pa., who heads the military training for Charlie Company.

The reconstruction of Iraq's security forces is the prerequisite for an American withdrawal from Iraq. But as the Bush administration extols the continuing progress of the new Iraqi army, the project in Baiji, a desolate oil town at a strategic crossroads in northern Iraq, demonstrates the immense challenges of building an army from scratch in the middle of a bloody insurgency.

Charlie Company disintegrated once after its commander was killed by a car bomb in December. And members of the unit were threatening to quit en masse this week over complaints that ranged from dismal living conditions to insurgent threats. Across a vast cultural divide, language is just one impediment. Young Iraqi soldiers, ill-equipped and drawn from a disenchanted Sunni Arab minority, say they are not even sure what they are fighting for. They complain bitterly that their American mentors don't respect them.

In fact, the Americans don't: Frustrated U.S. soldiers question the Iraqis' courage, discipline and dedication and wonder whether they will ever be able to fight on their own, much less reach the U.S. military's goal of operating independently by the fall.

"I know the party line. You know, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, five-star generals, four-star generals, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld: The Iraqis will be ready in whatever time period," said 1st Lt. Kenrick Cato, 34, of Long Island, N.Y., the executive officer of McGovern's company, who sold his share in a database firm to join the military full time after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "But from the ground, I can say with certainty they won't be ready before I leave. And I know I'll be back in Iraq, probably in three or four years. And I don't think they'll be ready then."

"We don't want to take responsibility; we don't want it," said Amar Mana, 27, an Iraqi private whose forehead was grazed by a bullet during an insurgent attack in November. "Here, no way. The way the situation is, we wouldn't be ready to take responsibility for a thousand years."

Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto, commander of the 42nd Infantry Division, which oversees an area of north-central Iraq that includes Baiji and is the size of West Virginia, called the Iraqi forces "improved and improving." He acknowledged that the Iraqis suffered from a lack of equipment and manpower but predicted that, at least in his area of operation, the U.S. military would meet its goal of having battalion-level units operating independently by the fall.

"I can tell you, making assessments, I think we're on target," he said in an interview.

U.S. officers said the Iraqis had been particularly instrumental in obtaining intelligence that led to the detention of several suspected insurgent leaders in the region. They said it was unfair to evaluate the Iraqi forces by U.S. standards.

"We're not trying to make the 82nd Airborne here," Taluto said.

Overall, the number of Iraqi military and police trained and equipped is more than 169,000, according to the U.S. military, which has also said there are 107 operational military and special police battalions. As of last month, however, U.S. and Iraqi commanders had rated only three battalions capable of operating independently.

Two Washington Post reporters spent three days traveling with the Americans and the Iraqis, respectively. The unit was selected by the U.S. military. The journey revealed fundamental, perhaps irreconcilable differences over everything from the reluctance of Muslim soldiers to search mosques and homes to basic questions of lifestyle. Earlier this year, for instance, the Americans imported Western-style portable toilets that the Iraqis, accustomed to another style, found objectionable. In an attempt to bridge the difference, the U.S. military installed diagrams depicting proper use of the "port-a-johns."

The differences clash across a landscape that has grown increasingly violent since Iraq's Jan. 30 parliamentary elections, when U.S. commanders made the training of the Iraqi forces their top priority. In Taluto's region, insurgents set off five car bombs in February; there were 35 in May. Over that period, 1,150 roadside bombs were planted, according to division statistics.

Last week, U.S soldiers from 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, and Iraqis from 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, clambered into their vehicles to patrol the streets of Baiji. The Americans drove fully enclosed armored Humvees, the Iraqis open-backed Humvees with benches, the sides of which were protected by plating the equivalent of a flak jacket. The Americans were part of 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor Regiment of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

As an American reporter climbed in with the Iraqis, the U.S. soldiers watched in bemused horror.

"You might be riding home alone," one soldier said to the other reporter.

"Is he riding in the back of that?" asked another. "I'll be over here praying."

'Preschoolers With Guns'

The Iraqi soldiers were a grim lot, patrolling streets where they lived and mosques where they worshiped. As they entered their neighborhoods, some of them donned black balaclavas and green scarves to mask their identities. They passed graffiti on walls that, like the town, were colored in shades of brown. "Yes to the leader Saddam," one slogan read. "Long live the mujaheddin," said another. Nearly all the men had received leaflets warning them to quit; the houses of several had been attacked by insurgents.

"Don't you dare move!" shouted Cpl. Ahmed Zwayid, 26, pointing his gun at an approaching car.

The men spoke of the insurgents with a hint of awe, saying the fighters were willing to die and outgunned them with rocket-propelled grenades and, more fearsome, car bombs. Zwayid, a father of three, looked in disgust at his own AK-47 assault rifle, with a green shoelace for a strap.

"We fire 10 bullets and it falls apart," he said. Zwayid patted a heavy machine gun mounted in the bed of the Humvee. "This jams," he said. "Are these the weapons worthy of a soldier?" He and others said it was a sign of the Americans' lack of confidence in them.

"We trust the Americans. We go everywhere with them, we do what they ask," he said. "But they don't trust us."

Up ahead, McGovern conducted his own tour of Baiji's panorama of violence. He pointed out "dead man's grove," a stand of trees the Americans recently bulldozed because it was used to conceal bombs, and "dead man's road," a dangerous stretch of highway. A nearby lot was strewn with jagged pieces of car bomb.

"Honestly, I don't think people in America understand how touchy the situation really is right now," McGovern said. "We have the military power, the military might, but we're handling everything with kid gloves because we're hoping the Iraqis are going to step up and start taking things on themselves. But they don't have a clue how to do it."

Asked when he thought the Iraqi soldiers might be ready to operate independently, McGovern said: "Honestly, there's part of me that says never. There's some cultural issues that I don't think they'll ever get through."

McGovern added that the Iraqis had "come a long way in a very short period of time" and predicted they would ultimately succeed. But he said the effort was still in its infancy.

"We like to refer to the Iraqi army as preschoolers with guns," he said.

An hour later, the men returned to Forward Operating Base Summerall, a sandy expanse behind concrete barricades and concertina wire a few miles outside town. They followed U.S. military protocol: Each soldier dismounted from the vehicle and cleared his weapon. Zwayid stayed in the truck, handed his gun to a friend and asked him to clear it.

"Get down and clear your own weapon!" Cpl. William Kozlowski shouted to Zwayid in English.

Zwayid answered in Arabic. "That's my weapon," he explained, pointing to his friend.

"Corporal, you're a leader!" Kozlowski shouted back. "Take charge!"

Zwayid smiled at him. "What's he saying to me?" he whispered.
Searching for Respect

Charlie Company collapsed at 9:15 a.m. on Dec. 5. A gray Chevrolet Caprice packed with explosives detonated among a crowd of Iraqi soldiers during a shift change. Among the five dead was Capt. Mohammed Jassim Rumayidh, the company commander. His death prompted all but 30 of the company's 250 soldiers to quit; many took their weapons with them.

The bombing coincided with the arrival of a battalion of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. The unit began rebuilding the Iraqi company from scratch. The Americans initially sent a small group of soldiers to work with the Iraqis. That changed after the Jan. 30 elections. Cato said the unit received a flurry of orders from commanders to make the training of Iraqi security forces "our main effort."

The battalion dispatched McGovern's platoon, about 35 soldiers, to work exclusively with the Iraqis. But the effort was immediately beset by problems. Due to a mixup in paperwork, dozens of Iraqi soldiers went without pay for three months. Many lacked proper uniforms, body armor and weapons. To meet the shortfall, U.S. forces gave the Iraqis rifles and ammunition confiscated during raids in Baiji. Of six interpreters assigned to the company, two quit and two others said they were preparing to.

"They've come a long way in a short period of time," Cato, the Alpha Company executive officer, said of the Iraqi soldiers. "When we first got here, soldiers were going to sleep on the objective. Soldiers were selling their weapons when they went out on patrol. I was on missions when soldiers would get tired, and they would just start dragging their weapons or using them as walking sticks."

The men are housed at what they call simply "the base," a place as sparse as the name. Most of the Iraqis sleep in two tents and a shed with a concrete floor and corrugated tin roof that is bereft of walls. Some have cots; others sleep on cardboard or pieces of plywood stacked with tattered and torn blankets. The air conditioners are broken. There is no electricity.

Drinking water comes from a sun-soaked camouflage tanker whose meager faucet also provides water for bathing.

"This is the shower of the National Guard, Baiji Division," said Tala Izba, 23, a corporal, as others laughed.

"Mines, car bombs and our duties, and then we have to come back to this?" said another soldier, Kamil Khalaf.

Pvt. Aziz Nawaf, 23, shook his head. "At night, I'm so hot I feel like my skin is going to peel off," he said.

Almost to a man, the soldiers said they joined for the money -- a relatively munificent $300 to $400 a month. The military and police forces offered some of the few job opportunities in town. Even then, the soldiers were irate: They wanted more time off, air-conditioned quarters like their American counterparts and, most important, respect. Most frustrating, they said, was the two- or three-hour wait to be searched at the base's gate when they returned from leave.

The soldiers said 17 colleagues had quit in the past few days.

"In 15 days, we're all going to leave," Nawaf declared.

The two-dozen soldiers gathered nodded their heads.

"All of us," Khalaf said. "We'll live by God, but we'll have our respect."

But the Americans said the Iraqis hadn't earned respect. "As Arab men, they want for us to think that they're just the same as us as soldiers, that they're just as brave," Cato said. "But they show cowardice. They'll say to me, 'I wasn't afraid.' But if you're running, then you were obviously not just afraid, you were running away."

Divided by Culture

Last month, three trucks filled with two dozen soldiers from Charlie Company were ambushed near a Tigris River bridge. Instead of meeting the attack, the Iraqis fled and radioed for help. The Americans said the Iraqis told them they had lost 20 men, had run out of ammunition and were completely surrounded.

When a U.S. quick reaction force arrived, the area was quiet and the Iraqi soldiers were huddled around their trucks. Four were missing; it was later learned that they had hailed taxis, gone home and changed into civilian clothes. One soldier, the company's senior noncommissioned officer, refused to come out for several hours, saying he continued to be surrounded by insurgents.

After the incident, McGovern said he summoned an interpreter, asked him to translate the soldier's words verbatim and "disgraced" the Iraqi soldiers.

"You are all cowards," he began. "My soldiers are over here, away from our families for a year. We are willing to die for you to have freedom. You should be willing to die for your own freedom. If you continue to run away from the enemy, the enemy will continue to chase you. You will never win."

McGovern asked the interpreter, Nabras Mohammed, if he had gone too far.

"Well, you shouldn't have called them women, and you shouldn't have called them" wimps, Mohammed told him.

"Of course they were scared," said Cpl. Idris Dhanoun, 30, a native of Baiji with two years in the security forces, who defended his colleagues. "The majority of them haven't seen fighting, they haven't seen war, they haven't been soldiers. The terrorists want to die. A hundred percent, they want to die. It's jihad. They want to kill themselves in the path of God."

Shortly after the ambush, a sniper shot a U.S. soldier standing on the roof of a police station, inflicting a severe head wound. The Americans suspected that the fire had come from the nearby Rahma mosque. American and Iraqi troops surrounded the building. Fearful of inflaming resentment, U.S. soldiers ordered their Iraqi counterparts to search the mosque. They initially refused, entering only after McGovern berated them.

"But I don't know if they searched it that well. They were still tip-toeing when they were in there," said Sgt. Cary Conner, 25, of Newport News, Va., who was among the first soldiers on the scene.

U.S. forces then ordered the Iraqis to arrest everyone inside the mosque, including the respected elderly prayer leader. The Iraqi platoon leader refused, U.S. soldiers recalled. The platoon leader and his men then sat down next to the mosque in protest.

"We wanted to tell the Americans they couldn't do this again," Dhanoun said.

In a measure of the shame they felt, the men insisted they had not entered the mosque.

"You can't enter the mosque with weapons. We have traditions, we have honor, and we're Muslims," Dhanoun said. "You enter the mosque to pray, you don't enter the mosque with guns."

At 4:30 a.m. Monday, the men of Charlie Company and the entire U.S. battalion -- some 800 soldiers -- set out in a convoy for west Baiji. The Americans used night-vision goggles to see in the dark. The Iraqis had glow sticks. Before the troops had left the base, an Iraqi driver plowed into a concrete barrier, momentarily delaying the convoy.

U.S. commanders said the involvement of the Iraqis on the mission -- a series of raids to crack a bomb-making cell -- was critical to its success. But the Americans clearly have lowered their expectations for the Iraqis' progress.

"Things are going to change according to their schedule, not our politics back home," said Sgt. Jonathan Flynn, 36, of Star Lake, N.Y. "You can't just put an artificial timetable on that."

Along dirt roads bisected by sewage canals, the men of Charlie Company crouched, their weapons ready. Before them was their home town, dilapidated and neglected. Cpl. Amir Omar, 19, gazed ahead.

"Look at the homes of the Iraqis," he said, a handkerchief concealing his face. "The people have been destroyed."

By whom? he was asked.

"Them," Omar said, pointing at the U.S. Humvees leading the patrol.

Comment: But Bush continues to tell us that everything is just going fine. If there is more and more fighting, it is because the "insurgents" are on the verge of defeat.

This article chronicles the tensions between the Iraqis who see the Americans living in air-conditioning while they sleep on cardboard, see the Americans in a shielded Humvee while they are sitting exposed to gunfire. The cultural divide is as vast as the devastation.

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THE ROVING EYE
Exit strategy: Civil war
By Pepe Escobar

"In reality, the electoral process was designed to legitimize the occupation, rather than ridding the country of the occupation ... Anyone who sees himself capable of bringing about political reform should go ahead and try, but my belief is that the occupiers won't allow him."
- Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr

As Shi'ites and Kurds fought for three months to come up with an Iraqi cabinet, it is emerging from Baghdad that soon a broad front will emerge on the political scene composed of politicians, religious leaders, clan and tribal sheikhs - basically Sunni but with Shi'ite participation - with a single-minded agenda: the end of the US-led occupation.

This front will include, among others, what we have termed the Sinn Fein component of the resistance, the powerful Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) and the Sadrists. It will refuse any kind of dialogue with new Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and his government unless there's a definite timetable for the complete withdrawal of the occupation forces. Even the top Marine in Iraq, Major General Stephen Johnson, has admitted, "There will be no progress as long as the insurgents are not implicated in a political process."

But the proliferation of what many moderate Sunnis and Shi'ites suspect as being Pentagon-organized black ops is putting the emergence of this front in jeopardy. This is obvious when we see Harith al-Dhari - the AMS leader - blaming the Badr Brigades (the armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution - SCIRI - in Iraq, a major partner in the government) for the killing of Sunni Arab clerics.

Breaking up Iraq
Several Iranian websites have widely reported a plan to break up Iraq into three Shi'ite southern mini-states, two Kurdish mini-states and one Sunni mini-state - with Baghdad as the seat of a federal government. Each mini-state would be in charge of law and order and the economy within its own borders, with Baghdad in charge of foreign policy and military coordination. The plan was allegedly conceived by David Philip, a former White House adviser working for the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC). The AFPC is financed by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has also funded both the ultra-hawkish Project for a New American Century and American Enterprise Institute.

The plan would be "sold" under the admission that the recently elected, Shi'ite-dominated Jaafari government is incapable of controlling Iraq and bringing the Sunni Arab guerrillas to the negotiating table. More significantly, the plan is an exact replica of an extreme right-wing Israeli plan to balkanize Iraq - an essential part of the balkanization of the whole Middle East. Curiously, Henry Kissinger was selling the same idea even before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Once again this is classic divide and rule: the objective is the perpetuation of Arab disunity. Call it Iraqification; what it actually means is sectarian fever translated into civil war. Operation Lightning - the highly publicized counter-insurgency tour de force with its 40,000 mostly Shi'ite troops rounding up Sunni Arabs - can be read as the first salvo of the civil war. Vice President Dick Cheney all but admitted the whole plan on CNN, confidently predicting that "the fighting will end before the Bush administration leaves office".

But the destiny awaiting this counter-insurgency may be best evaluated by comparing it to Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 classic, The Battle of Algiers - one of the most influential political films ever, and supposedly a "must see" at the Pentagon. The French in Algeria in the early 1960s did indeed break the back of the guerrillas - but in the end lost the Algerian war. Talking about Vietnamization - the precursor to Iraqification - the Vietcong's Tet offensive in 1968 was lethal, but the counter-insurgency - Operation Phoenix - was even more lethal. In the end, though, the US also lost the war.

There's no Operation Phoenix going on in Iraq. The US has little "humint" (human intelligence), so it is incapable of penetrating the complex resistance tribal net - and not only because of its cultural and linguistic shortcomings. Even a west Baghdad neighborhood such as Adhamiyah is essentially an independent guerrilla republic. The daily, dreadful car-bombing litany will persist: whatever intelligence it comes across, the Pentagon does not share it with the Iraqi police, and the Iraqi police for its part is not exactly the best.

The US also does not have sufficient troops - so it has to resort to doomed Iraqification, using Shi'ites and Kurds to fight Sunnis. And to top it all, the US is blocked in the political sphere, because the real intelligence victory would mean convincing Sunni Arabs of the legitimacy of the political process: it's not going to happen, with only two Sunni Arabs in the 55-member committee in charge of drafting the new Iraqi constitution, and with Shi'ite death squads killing Sunni Arabs.

Militia inferno
In Iraq's current militia inferno, some are more respectable than others. The 100,000-strong Kurdish pershmerga are not forced to disarm because they are American allies. The Sadrists' Mehdi Army on the other hand is regarded as a bunch of thugs because it responds to the maverick Muqtada al-Sadr - whom the Pentagon still considers an enemy. Iraq's Interior Ministry is infested by at least six separate militias - half of them responding to former prime minister Iyad Allawi's pals. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, is busy praising the pershmerga. Abdul-Salam al-Qubeisi, an AMS spokesman, doesn't skip a beat, saying that Talabani is following "US policies to prolong the struggle in Iraq and turn it into an Iraq-Iraq conflict". In other words: he unmasks Iraqification.

The Badr Brigades - renamed Badr Organization - for its part is accused by the AMS of giving intelligence to the notorious Wolf Brigade, still another militia (or, euphemistically, "elite commando unit") operating in the Interior Ministry but under a top SCIRI official.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the SCIRI leader and eminence grise behind Jaafari, went on record vociferously defending the Badr. In a priceless linguistic stretch mixing Bushism with Arab nationalism, Hakim said that "forces of evil" are trying to "sully the reputation of nationalist movements like Badr so that they can achieve goals that do not serve the interests of the Iraqi people".

One wonders whether Pentagon black ops are also part of these "forces of evil". In October 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld invented a secret army - one of his pet projects. According to the Pentagon's Defense Science Board, the goal of Rumsfeld's army - the 100-member, US$100 million-a-year Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG) - would carry out secret operations designed to "stimulate reactions" among "terrorist groups", thus exposing them to "counter-attack" by the P2OG. The stock in trade of Rumsfeld's army is assassinations, sabotage, deception, the whole arsenal of black ops. Iraq is the perfect lab for it. "Iraqification" means in fact "Salvadorization". No wonder old faces are back in the game. James Steele, leader of a Special Forces team in El Salvador in the early 1980s, is in Iraq. Steve Casteel, a former top official involved in the "drug wars" in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, is also in Iraq. He is a senior adviser in - where else - the Interior Ministry, to which friendly militias are subordinated.

Guerrillas forever
For all their complex, interlocking strands, it is the Sunni Arab guerrillas who are now operating almost like a united front. Their full thrust is against what is denounced as a puppet government controlled by the US and its "foreign allies" - exiles, pro-Iranian Shi'ites and splittist Kurds. Guerrilla leaders admit the reality of superior American firepower, which should be fought with "the ideals of pure Islam" - courage, piety, abnegation, spirit of sacrifice. "Victory" is the struggle itself.

This essentially means, for most groups, the absence of any alternative political project - no possibility of guerrillas as a whole adhering to a Sunni-Shi'ite united political front. The military strategy of the guerrillas is to prevent any possibility of normalization: or, to put it another way, to force the Sunni Arab population to accept their methods. It may be impossible for the resistance to become an Iraqi nationalist movement; but it may rely on 5 million Sunni Arabs as a very strong base for a prolonged, successful guerrilla war. They certainly have the means to destabilize the country for decades, if they're up for it.

From an ideological point of view, the guerrilla leaders must have analyzed the degree of dependence of Jaafari's government, and concluded that the Americans will not go away. And even if the Americans did decide to leave, this would be a major problem because it would shatter the unity of so many guerrilla groups with different agendas, but with a common goal of ousting the occupiers.

Rival branches of the former Ba'ath Party now have the upper hand in the resistance - although they don't control it wholesale. Despite all the internal wrangling - from fervent pro-Syrians in the red corner to those in favor of political accommodation in the blue corner - they are united by the same objectives. They have a lot of money, stashed before the fall of Saddam Hussein; they have legions of former Republican Guard and Mukhabarat (intelligence) officers (the guerrillas have at least 40,000 active members, plus a supporting cast of 80,000); they have loads of weapons (at least 250,000 tons remaining); they can enjoy a non-stop flow of financing, especially from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf; and they can count on crucial tactical support by a few hundred Arab jihadis.

Who gets the oil?
Sunni Arabs and Kurds are virtually on the brink of civil war in northern Iraq: the daily situation in both Kirkuk and Mosul is explosive - ambushes, assassinations, car bombings - but scarce information filters south to Baghdad and to the outside world. Kirkuk is nominally under Kurd control. But what the Kurds want most of all is to control Northern Oil - part of the Iraqi National Oil Co, in charge of the oilfields west of Kirkuk. Sunni Arabs say "over our dead bodies". No wonder the key local battlefield is the oil pipeline crossing Kirkuk province: it was blown up again this Wednesday.

Mosul, a big city of almost 1.8 million people on the banks of the Tigris, is still controlled by Sunni Arabs (70% of the population) and remains the epicenter of Arab nationalism and a major guerrilla base. Kurds there maintain the lowest of profiles. Both the guerrillas and the police come from the very powerful Sunni Shammar tribe. The Pentagon favors the Kurds - helplessly, one might say: they are the only US allies. US intelligence in Mosul depends on Kurdish intelligence: one more recipe for civil war. As if this was not enough, most Shi'ites - 60% of Iraq's population - now firmly believe they are facing a Machiavellian plot by the US, the Kurds, the Sunni Arabs or all of the above to rob the Shi'ites of political power.

The national liberation front
The major Iraqi resistance groups are not in favor of targeting innocent Iraqi civilians. Many groups have political liaisons who try to tell the world's media what they are fighting for. Considering that American corporate media exclusively reproduce the Pentagon line, there's widespread suspicion - in the Middle East, Western Europe, Latin America, parts of Asia - of American media complicity in the occupation, incompetence, racism, or perhaps all of the above.

The antidote to the Iraqi militia inferno should be a united Sunni-Shi'ite political front. Former electricity minister Ayham al-Samarie told the Associated Press that at least two guerrilla groups - the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Army of Mujahideen - were ready to talk with the Jaafari government and eventually join the political process. The conditions though are explicit: a set date for the American withdrawal.

Against all odds, a national liberation front is emerging in Iraq. Washington hawks may see it coming, but they certainly don't want it. Many groups in this front have already met in Algiers. The front is opposed to the American occupation and permanent Pentagon military bases; opposed to the privatization and corporate looting of the Iraqi economy; and opposed to the federation of Iraq, ie balkanization. Members of the front clearly see through the plan of fueling sectarianism to provoke an atmosphere of civil war, thus legitimizing the American presence. The George W Bush administration's obsession in selling the notion that Iraqis - or "anti-Iraqi forces", or "foreign militants" - are trying to start a civil war in the eastern flank of the Arab nation is as ludicrous as the myth it sells of the resistance as just a lunatic bunch of former Ba'athists and Wahhabis.

The Bush administration though is pulling no punches with Iraqification. It's a Pandora's box: inside one will find the Battle of Algiers, Vietnam, El Salvador, Colombia. All point to the same destination: civil war. This deadly litany could easily go on until 2020 when, in a brave new world of China emerging as the top economy, Sunni Arabs would finally convince themselves to perhaps strike a deal with Shi'ites and Kurds so they can all profit together by selling billions of barrels of oil to the Chinese oil majors. If, of course, there is any semblance of Iraq left at that point.

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Iran halts nuclear activity: IAEA
www.chinaview.cn 2005-06-11 15:30:26

Beijing, June 11 -- The UN nuclear watchdog has verified that Iran has kept its word by freezing all sensitive nuclear work.

Experts from the UN nuclear watchdog have inspected an underground uranium enrichment plant in Iran and verified that the country has kept its word by freezing all sensitive nuclear work there.

A team from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz in central Iran on Thursday.

The agency is expected to inform the IAEA's 35-member board of governors at next week's quarterly meeting that Iran has kept its promise about halting sensitive work.

Mohammed Saidi, the deputy chief of international and planning affairs at the Iranian department for atomic energy, said the IAEA team was not hindered in their inpection of the facilities.

The IAEA is also scheduled to inspect Iran's nuclear facilities in Isfahan Saturday.

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CounterPunch Diary
Thomas Friedman's Imaginary World

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
June 10 / 12, 2005

If it's Monday, it must be Bangalore. Thomas Friedman's back in India and the mysterious subcontinent exercises its usual sorcery on the wandering pundit, eliciting paragraphs of ecstatic drivel, as it has from so many Times-men.

My favorite remains a post-Christmas dispatch, published onDecember 27, 2002, by the NYT's resident correspondent in India at the time, Keith Bradsher. It was a devotional text about neoliberalism's apex poster boy at the time, Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of the state of Andhra Pradesh, Time's "South Asian of the year", hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "a model for fellow state leaders".

After composing a worshipful resume of Naidu's supposed achievements, Bradsher selected for particular mention a secret weapon that the canny reporter deemed vital to Naidu's political grip on Andhra Pradesh. "Naidu and his allies", Bradsher disclosed to the NYT's readers, "speak Telugu, a language spoken only in this state and by a few people in two adjacent states." What Bradsher was saying was that Naidu spoke the same language as the nearly 80 million other inhabitants of Andhra Pradesh. It was as though someone ascribed Tony Blair's political successes in the United Kingdom to his command of English.

Apart from Naidu's wondrous fluency in his native tongue, Bradsher fixed upon other achievements likely to excite an American business readership: "Mr. Naidu," he confided, "has succeeded in raising electricity prices here by 70 per cent" and "has enacted a law requiring union leaders to be workers from the factory or office they represent Andhra Pradesh has also relaxed some of the restrictions on laying off workers".

A couple of years later, in May 2004, the posterboy pal of Bill Gates, Bill Clinton and the World Bank's then chief, John Wolfenson, endured the verdict at the polling booth of his fellow Telugu speakers. The verdict was harsh. The very poor, the not-so-poor, farmers, rural women, inner city-dwellers, all stated conclusively that life had got worse in Andhra Pradesh, prices were unconscionable and the Naidu was a fraud. Naidu's elected coalition plummeted from 202 seats to a quarter of that number. He and his party were ignominiously tossed from office.

I remembered Bradsher's excited commendation of Naidu's hikes in the price of electricity and his anti-union rampages when I read the reports filed by U.S. correspondents and pundits from Paris, after the French Non! to the EC proposed constitution a couple of weeks ago. It was striking how many of them, presumably without any direct orders from the owners of their publications, started lecturing the French in the tones of nineteenth-century Masters of Capital.

The "Non", they howled, disclosed the cosseted and selfish laziness of French workers. On inspection this turned out to mean that French workers have laws protecting their pensions, health benefits, leisure time and other outlandish buttresses of a tolerable existence. No one was more outraged than Friedman, a man who, we can safely surmise, does have health benefits, enjoys confidence about his retirement along with a robust six-figure income plus guaranteed vacations plus a pleasant ambulatory existence living in nice hotels, confabbing with CEOs, and lecturing gratified businessmen on their visionary nature and the virtues of selfishness.

From Bangalore Friedman issued a furious rebuke. "French voters are trying to preserve a 35-hour work week in a world where Indian engineers are ready to work a 35-hour day. Next to India, Western Europe looks like an assisted-living facility with Turkish nurses." I guess it does, though "engineers" is rather a dignified label to fix on the cyber-coolies ­ underpaid clerical workers ­ who toil night and day in Bangalore's call centers. But if you want a race to the bottom of the sort Friedman calls for, you don't have to travel too far from Bangalore, maybe ­ though any direction will do ­ north-east into the former realm of posterboy Naidu to find an Indian reality compared with which the so-called IT breakthroughs in India are like gnat bites on the hide of one of those buffaloes you see in photos in articles headlined "Timeless India Faces Change".

In the Naidu years at least 5,000 Indian farmers committed suicide. Across India, they're still killing themselves. (A Kisan Sabha ­ farmers' union ­ survey of just 26 households in Wayanad, in northern Kerala, that had seen suicides shows a total debt of over Rs. 2 million. Or about Rs. 82,000 per household (which is the equivalent of just under $2,000. The average size of these farms is less than 1.4 acres. And a good chunk of that debt is owed to private lenders.)

Millions more lives millimeters from ruin and starvation. For hundreds of millions of poor Indians, Friedman's brave new world of the 90s meant globalization of prices, Indianization of incomes. The state turned its back on the poor. Investment in agriculture collapsed as rural credit dried up. As employment crashed in the countryside to its lowest ever, distress migrations from the villages ­ to just about anywhere ­ increased in tens of millions.

Foodgrain available per Indian fell almost every year in the 90s and by 2002-03 was less than it had been at the time of the great Bengal famine of 1942-43. New user fees sent health costs soaring, and such costs have become a huge component of rural family debt.

Newly commercialized education destroyed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of women, as families, given the narrowed options, favored sons over daughters. Farm kids simply dropped out. Even as the world hailed the Indian Tiger Economy, the country slipped to rank 127 (from 124) in the United Nations Human Development Index of 2003. It is better to be a poor person in Botswana, or even the occupied territories of Palestine, than one in India.

Remember, India has a billion people in it. Maybe 2 per cent of them get to fly in a plane or go online. Around 10 per cent are well off, another 10 per cent doing okay. On the most optimistic count we're left with over half a billion of the poorest people on the planet. You could build call centers every mile from Mumbai to Bangalore, stuff teenagers with basic American slang in there working Friedman's stipulated 35 hours a day servicing American corporations and you wouldn't make a dent in the problem, which is that you can't dump an agricultural economy, build a couple of Cyberabads and say with any claim to realism that a New and Better India has been born. New, yes. Better, no.

The trouble is, the Indian press, along with the visiting foreigners ­ forgets about that half billion. A Lakme India Fashion Week gets 450-500 journalists covering it. But with the exception of Sainath, now at the The Hindu, not a single Indian newspaper has a full time correspondent on the agrarian crisis beat, or poverty and deprivation beat.

India has done well in some senses at IT. But this is not a parable of private enterprise unchained. The topmost --­ elite of elite ­ Indian technologists / engineers come from a handful of institutions known as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT). Most of the Silicon Valley people are from there.These are entirely state-set up, state funded institutions. Not a single one of them is private (established or owned. Now, there are alumni in the US pushing to privatize the very institutions that gave them everything.

As Sainath remarked to me, "It's is not as though there's Indian genius in software / IT ­ but almost none of this has been directed towards, has even sought to address basic problems of India. There are several such areas where Indian expertise (including from that very state of Andhra) could do wonders for some classes of poorer Indian. (Eg: traditional fishermen could have their boats fitted very cheaply with tailor made devicesthat would make a huge and often life-saving difference. Artisans could bypass middlemen through online exhibitions and marketing and so on.) To the extent this happens at all, it is very minimal, extremely tiny. Neither governments nor corporates nor NRI millionaires have shown much interest in this. On the other hand, look at the amount of effort that goes into IT trivia.

Most western correspondents only travel south west from Bangalore to Kerala to deride as "hidebound" a state that elected a Communist government in 1957, distributed land to the poor, has decent health stats, near 100 per cent literacy. In recent years the neoliberals have been running thing there too and in early June this year, in a by-election, voters gave their opinion on such matters as recent efforts to privatize education. Normally elections in Kerala are razor thin affairs. This by-election saw the Congress Party candidate shattered by a Communist Party (Marxist) in the Left Democratic Front who won with a margin over the Congress candidate of more than 40,000 votes, a Kerala record. The LDF is reckoned as a cinch to win the Kerala elections next year.

Take the Kerala result, throw in the rejection of Naidu and the BJP coalition last year and you get a pretty good picture of what large numbers of Indians don't like, namely Friedmanism in any shape or form, whether they read his columns in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, or even his crude version of English. [...]

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Liberty veterans file war crimes brief
By Philip Turner
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

Washington, DC, Jun. 10 (UPI) -- Surviving members of the USS Liberty, a ship that was attacked by Israel almost 40 years ago, said Friday they filed a report with the secretary of the Army about war crimes they said were committed against them.

"It is now incumbent upon the United States government to take action for the vindication of the survivors of this attack, but most importantly for those who lost their lives," said Moe Shafer, a board member of the Liberty Veterans Association. "To continue doing nothing sends a message to the rest of the world that they may attack U.S. personnel without fear of reprisal."

The official Naval inquiry into the case of the Liberty says the June 8, 1967, attack, which lasted over two hours in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, was accidental. The Liberty Veterans Association, however, says the ship was attacked deliberately.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity, told United Press International, once the brief was formally received, the secretary of the army would go through it "detail by detail."

"An investigation followed the attack in 1967. The testimony of sailors and other investigation produced an exhaustive list of findings -- 600 pages worth," she said. "The government of Israel accepted responsibility and it was deemed no further investigation was needed."

Congress has never officially investigated the case of the Liberty and survivors of the attack, which killed 34 and wounded more than 173, say more needs to be done.

"Every other maritime incident has resulted in many investigations," said Shafer. "It is long past time."

Several survivors of the incident spoke about the events aboard the Liberty and the years since. Shafer said everyone who survived the attack was threatened with imprisonment.

"We have been muzzled by our own government," he said.

Richard Larry Weaver, a seaman who was on deck force during the attack, said while recovering from his wounds in a stateside hospital, a three-star admiral told him, "You'll be imprisoned and we'll lose the key if you say anything about this."

"There I was, 21 years old -- scared to death," Weaver said. "I stayed scared for 25 years."

Weaver said aside from the physical wounds that have required him to have 29 major surgeries, the fact the government has ignored the sacrifices of friends who died was the most painful.

"I've had sons and daughters of my friends on the Liberty ask me what their dad looked like -- what kind of a guy he was," said Weaver. "I make a challenge to President Bush to make a stand -- to stand with the Liberty."

No one in Congress has taken side with the veterans' brief. Ernie Gallo, a surviving member of the Liberty, said politicians have swept the issue under the rug for almost 40 years.

"There is no doubting that this was an Israeli attack," he said.

The attacks took place in international waters during the Six-Day War between Arab states and Israel. Survivors of the Liberty say Israelis fired at rescuers who tried to pick up survivors. Israel's official stance is that there was no flag flying on the deck of the Liberty and it was mistaken for a similar Egyptian ship.

Joseph Lentini, a survivor, however, said some of the technology that stood out on the ship would have made it unmistakable.

"There was no other ship in the world that looked like the Liberty," he said.

Lentini said recently released tapes from Israeli jets that flew overhead before the attack show the Liberty was identified as a U.S. ship by the flag flying on the mast and sailors who were sunbathing.

Shafer said Liberty veterans have been trying to get their story out for many years. The survivors first began meeting in 1982 after, Shafer said, they had grown up a little bit and were not as frightened by what might happen if they discussed the incident publicly. But, he said, the media did not take to their story and many of them were made to look anti-Semitic for their remarks about attack.

"We're not here to shoot darts at any country -- we just want to set the record straight," said Shafer. "We are just seeking to have the appropriate charges brought against the perpetrators of the attack."

Rear Adm. Merlin Staring, a retired former judge advocate general of the Navy, was involved with the initial inquiry into the attack in 1967. He said that after he questioned some of the conclusions of the report it was taken from him and he never saw it again. He never questioned where the report went because he feared for his career.

"The only investigation was the one that was prejudiced from the start and it covered up the true facts of the USS Liberty," said Staring.

Weaver, who lives in Maui, Hawaii, said he was baffled no president had taken a stand to recognize what happened 38 years ago.

"I had the best view of our flag flying that day -- I was right there looking at it -- I lived it," he said about Israel's position the ship was mistaken for an Egyptian vessel. "I have always said, that on that day, we were a ship sailing without a country."

Comment: And all to protect Zionist interests...

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NYT reporter: You don't have to be an anti-Semite to despise and fear Israel...
A short talk by Kennett Love
June 19, 2004

Ladies & gentlemen, David Irving, Michael Santomauro, good evening.

You don't have to be an anti-Semite to despise and fear Ariel Sharon. You don't have to be an anti-Semite to perceive that the United States of America has lost control of its politics to a Jewish lobby that puts Israel's interests above our own American interests. That loss would not be of paramount concern if Israel's interests were the same as – or even vaguely similar to -- our American interests. And you don't have to be an anti-Semite to oppose and fear George W. Bush and the cruel war in Iraq into which he and the neo-cons and the evangelical fundamentalist Christian cults have led America with lies.

I cite the victory of Zionist Jewish money in the defeat of popular congressional incumbents in the Alabama and Georgia primaries for the national elections. Worse yet, and more recently, I cite the Pavlovian pro-Israel foot-licking adherence of John Kerry to the pro-forma platform vows of the Bush administrations -- father and son -- and the cowardly, continuing congressional caucus touting their grossly partisan support for Israel against nearly the entire Muslim world and in defiance of public opinion in Europe and the rest of the Americas.

Israel's [Zionist] character and policies are criticized and courageously opposed by many of its Jewish citizens. But Israel's character and policies are diametrically opposed to American principles.

1. Israel is racist. Its law of return applies only to Jews born of Jewish mothers. It is not the only democracy in the middle east because it is not a democracy. The Arabs and other non-Jews under Israeli control are second class citizens at best. We have abated our racism and we enforce severe laws against it.

2. Israel is terrorist. It was founded on terror. It applied terror to make Arabs flee, across unfixed and non-legal borders, and then declared them to have forfeited their property and homes. Israel confiscated their possessions after their terrified flight and shot many of them when they tried to retrieve family jewelry. They were barred from return in favor of the influx of Jews. One of Israel's most horrendous acts was the massacre of hundreds of women, children, and old men at Deir Yasseen in the course of the war of conquest which began to escalate in 1947. The bodies were thrown down the village well. The young men were at work in the fields. The UN mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, was assassinated while trying to establish borders in accord with the 1947 UN partition of Palestine. The murder was never solved. Israel never seriously investigated it. It was apparently an act of terror to get more territory for Israel. Israel proclaimed itself an independent state in 1948 on May 15, as part of Israel's permanent campaign to kill or expel all non-Jews in Palestine, -- Armenians, Greek orthodox Christians, and Roman Catholics among them -- Sharon led an invasion into Lebanon in 1982 and personally shepherded the massacre of nearly 1,000 Palestine refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatilla outside of Beirut. Only a few weeks ago a Sharon cabinet minister told the New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg there were "innocent men among the Palestinians, but they are collectively guilty; we will have to kill them all."

This genocidal policy was born in 1897 in the mind of Theodore Herzl, author of Der Judenstaat [the Jewish State] and the founder of modern political Zionism. He used the term "transfer of populations". That has been a constant Israeli policy, resembling our own killings and forced relocations of native Americans.

3. Israel is theocratic. Our tradition is to separate church and state. Let me insert here that our traditions and our principles are often violated. Our president is a born-again evangelical who claims god told him to attack Saddam Hussein. He did -- with enormous bunker-busting bombs that inflicted incalculable "collateral damage". An estimated 10,000 Iraqis died, but we have not counted.

4. Iraq was targeted at the prompting of the Jewish neo-cons because Iraq, unlike Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon is still officially at war with Israel. Iraq fired missiles at Israel in the gulf war of Bush the father. This war is pre-emptive, a war of choice, not defense and now we are stuck with it.

5. Israel is a vigorous, anachronistic colonialist power. The world sees our "special relationship" with Israel as a partnership in crusading, conquering colonialism. We serve Israel as armorer, banker, diplomatic protector, and relentless vetoer of UN efforts to curb Israel's violations of international laws.

The UN's founding charter in 1945 prohibited using force or the threat of force to acquire territory. Just two years later Israel began doing just that in "liberating" Palestine from hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in what it called its "war of liberation" in 1947 – 1948 and in its stunning pre-emptive wars and massacres against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in 1967 and Lebanon in 1982.

It seized upon its triumph in 1967 to occupy the West Bank and Gaza. They kill and demolish homes and institutions with appalling heartlessness and insultingly ignore our timid remonstrances.

They run the special alliance; we don't. Some alliance! They don't bother to make a pretense of loyalty nor even compromise out of courtesy. They look the other way when we oppose nuclear programs in Syria, North Korea, China, India, and Pakistan. They made us look the other way while they built a formidable nuclear and missile armory of their own. They corrupted an American citizen named Pollard to steal our secrets for years and scolded us bitterly for sending him to prison for life instead of letting him "return" to the Jewish State.

In their 1967 war they ambushed our electronic surveillance ship, the "Liberty", in broad daylight with aircraft guns and bombs, motor torpedo boats, even a submarine, crippling the ship and killing some 35 of its crew and wounding dozens more. Israel pressed the day-long attack in the face of oversize American flags and radio identifications and may-days. Israel has given no explanation or expression of regret and has balked inquiry into the incident. And so have we. President Johnson called off a rescue sortie by the sixth fleet. Survivors of the "liberty" attack have stubbornly sought to learn the reasons why.

It is time we ended the "special relationship". It hasn't even a name or agreement to govern its conduct.

President George Washington warned against such a special alliance in his farewell address, saying:

"the nation which indulges toward another in habitual hatred or in habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. ... sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification."

..."in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils! ... real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests."

President Truman in 1947 broke the 150-year-old spell of president Washington's warning against entangling alliances by launching the Marshall plan of aid for Western Europe and the Truman Doctrine to block communist influence in Greece and Turkey.

Israel is touchy about its "legitimate right to exist", citing most frequently the story of god's covenant with Abram, later Abraham, made before Abram had departed from ur of the Chaldees, his ancestral birthplace in what is now Iraq. The story begins with god's promise of his favor for Abram and his descendants (genesis 12 passim):

"now the lord had said to Abram, get thee out of thy country, ... unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, ..." when Abram had reached Canaan, north of Palestine, god appeared to him again and said: "unto thy seed will I give this land." There was no mention of a covenant until genesis 15:18, when the lord said to Abram: "unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the River Euphrates."

The story has god giving land and other promises to Abram right and left. The details differed widely from promise to promise. Years later Joshua, the first conqueror of Palestine, quoted a surprisingly frank admission from god:

"I have given you a land for which ye did not labor, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which ye planted not do ye eat."

I suggest that these stories came down in recitations from the days of mythology, all of it folklore, through centuries when Zeus and Venus and Athena were as real as Jehovah and Noah or Abraham or Moses – "an ancient time" as E.l. Doctorow put it, "when no distinction was possible between fact and fiction, ... as in homer. As in genesis."

Both parties to a covenant must be alive at the signing. When I covenanted to buy an apartment in New York while I was in Egypt covering the 1973 war for ABC my lawyer told me later that the deal was delayed until he thought to listen to a radio to hear my live broadcast.

The Muslims, although Abraham appears as Ibrahim in the qur'an, reject the idea that the covenant has any legal standing giving the Jews any right to trespass on the land of the Canaanites or the Palestinians or the Lebanese or the Syrians and the Egyptians. There is no independent evidence that Abraham ever existed, ever crossed the line between mythology and history. So the Abrahamic covenant has no firm basis in law. Perhaps in tradition.

And the brutal colonialist conduct of Israel is certainly not an acceptable underpinning for a "legitimate right to exist". Our reputation in the world has been tarred and feathered by our total and uncomplaining support of Israel's illegal occupation of nearly all of Palestine.

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Israelis and Palestinians given a shocking taste of each other's lives
Donald Macintyre
The Independent
11 June 2005

A baby is thrown like a frisbee and children vie for a suicide vest as the conflict hits the stage.

There's a telling moment in the discussion after the performance of Plonter. A man asks the cast crossly why the settler women depicted in the play in long dresses and hats of the sort worn by many religious Jewish women, all "look the same".

No more so, the Jewish director, Yael Ronen, points out, than the mourning Palestinian women grieving over the death of an 11-year-old boy. Or, says one of actors, Asaf Pariente, the equally stereotyped keffiyeh-clad Hamas gunmen who promise eternal vengeance after an Israeli soldier shoots the child dead. Caught out, the audience member lets a rueful half smile, in what just might be sudden self-awareness, flit across his face.

This play, set against the dark background of occupation and intifada, repeatedly challenges its audience to realise that the "others" are individuals too. At the climax of the piece ­ "Imbroglio" in English ­ the haunted Israeli soldier who has helped to cover up the killing, suddenly sees the Palestinian mother and her child in his living room. "Can't you see there are people there?" he asks his uncomprehending, and of course, unseeing wife.

It's one of the oldest of all dramatic devices. But the line has a double meaning, half of which is a resonant appeal to understand the suffering on the other side of the psychological, as well as increasingly the physical, wall separating Israelis from Palestinians.

Without an initial script, Plonter is the outcome of an intense and extraordinary collaboration between Ronen, 29, and a talented cast of young professional Israeli Arab and Jewish actors, who improvised, argued and finally bonded for seven months to create a work that confronts, often painfully but sometimes with savage humour, its audiences with the human realities on both sides.

The sketches weaving together the lives of an Israeli and Palestinian family, each tormented in its own way by the conflict, linger in the memory long after the performance at Tel Aviv's Cameri Theatre ends: the Palestinian husband goaded by his wife over his apparent passivity in the face of their son's death; the young Israeli woman trying to reach out to her soldier husband after her own stridently left-wing activist sister has accused him of being a "war criminal"; the Palestinian man on a bus who angrily confronts his suddenly terrified fellow passengers by stripping down to his underpants.

The versatile cast set out to confront the complexities of the conflict. For the mainly left-wing Jewish actors, for example, this meant, says Ronen, understanding soldiers and settlers as well as Palestinians. "The first thing we had to do was to destroy every opinion we had about the conflict," she says. "We wanted to expose our own ignorance and prejudice, our lack of knowledge of ourselves and others."

"We had to try and be neutral and not emotional," says Ashraf Barhoim, an Arab actor who, in one of several cross-overs, plays an Israeli soldier as well as the suspected suicide bomber.

Thus, a settler couple whose child is killed in a Palestinian attack are treated with sympathy; on the other hand a group of settler women evading a soldier trying to evacuate them by throwing a baby like a frisbee from hand to hand until he is, shockingly, dropped, makes a highly charged point about the involuntary exposure of children to the conflict. As does one of the most disturbing scenes: a group of Palestinian children vying, as if in a game, for a suicide vest to avenge their dead 11-year-old schoolfriend.

Ronen says the cast did not, as they worked on the play, think much about the audience "or whether people would be angry with it". But she agrees that it is Israelis who have the most to learn from Plonter.

"Unlike for Palestinians what's happening is not a matter of everyday life for them. They have the privilege of behaving as if [the occupation] didn't exist every moment of the day, until, that is, a terror attack comes to their doorstep and then they say 'What do you want from us, why are you trying to kill us.'" For a symbolic taste of Palestinian life, theatre-goers arriving at the play have to submit their ID to two aggressive actors in soldiers' uniforms.

It has already been shown to Arab and Jewish schoolchildren, in an experiment that the Cameri is busily seeking sponsorship to expand.

The play doesn't seek to come up with a detailed peace plan. But the cast are united by an anti-occupation ethos; they are of a generation marked as teenagers by the rising hopes and then the crushing disappointments of the Oslo agreement era.

Despite the darkness of much of the work, and her own admission that the audience probably "only come half-way with us", Ronen suggests there are some grounds for optimism in the mutual understanding the cast built among themselves through "real honesty and real dialogue" in rehearsal. "Of course if we can do it, and the audience get involved, they will be able to do it too." She cites one minor example. In one scene, the dead Palestinian child's distraught mother ­ compellingly played by Raida Adon, composes herself for the TV cameras to say how happy and proud she was to have a "martyred" son before lapsing back into inconsolable grief.

Ronen says that in the discussion after one performance a Jewish high school pupil aged 16 "said that she had seen this so often before, but now she understood what the mother was really feeling".

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Ethnic Cleansing in Jerusalem, Israeli Style
By Paul Findley

Israeli authorities are carrying out a process in East Jerusalem that accurately be described as ethnic cleansing. It is plainly geared to uproot Palestinians from an area that historically has been known as Arab East Jerusalem and convert it into an integral, permanent part of the capital of the Jewish state.

The scandalous process is recognized and deplored by the major news media in Britain and elsewhere and even by some newspapers in Israel, but it is predictably ignored in the United States. Still worse, Washington provides the financial, political and military support without which the cleansing could not go forward.

B'Tselem, a private organization of Israelis concerned about human rights, calls it "a policy of quiet deportation." In its report, subtitled Revocation of Residency of East Jerusalem Palestinians, the group notes that "perhaps thousands of people have been forced to leave" and warns that the worst is still to come.

The squeeze is not new; it has been underway for years, first under Labor Party leadership, intensified by the Likud Party when Menachem Begin became prime minister, and hardened recently in two major steps, first by the government of Labor's Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, then by their Likud successor, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The first stage was a slow, little-noticed process of attrition, during which Jewish settlements that now ring East Jerusalem were built. The next was tightening the noose against Palestinians through two measures: control of entry into the city and restriction of construction permits.

For years, Israel has virtually prohibited Palestinians from remodeling old housing or constructing new. Only a handful of building permits-about 150 a year- are divided among the 155,000 Palestinians who until recently constituted the majority population. More than 20,000 families are virtually homeless.

At the same time, Palestinians who leave east Jerusalem for any reason can expect harassment when they attempt to return. Some of them, even those who have lived in Jerusalem all their lives, are denied re-entry.

Those who left for holidays sometimes find it impossible to return. Families are divided, some members are able to stay in East Jerusalem and others kept out.

Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem are exempt from municipal taxes for five years and then benefit from a reduced rate. Because of this bias, Palestinians living there pay taxes that are five times higher than many settlers.

The effect of these demographic pincers is rising anger, despair, and violence-or, as Israeli officials always characterize it, "terrorism."

The real terrorism is inflicted on the Palestinians, who live in constant fear of bulldozers leveling their homes without anything remotely resembling due process, eviction on the pretext that home repairs were made without proper permits, or confiscation for road construction or other public purposes.

And the latest form of terrorism is the voiding of Palestinian identity cards. Before Shimon Peres left the office of prime minister, he had already begun the use of identity cards-or lack thereof-as the main instrument of deportation from East Jerusalem. Under Netanyahu, the instrument has become razor sharp. It now threatens to sever much of the remaining population of Palestinians from their homelands.

The Israeli Interior Ministry says that all identity cards must be renewed by August of this year, a deadline that will give officials almost unlimited opportunity to refuse renewal and force Palestinians on short notice to move elsewhere in the West Bank.

Patrick Cookburn of the Independent, a respected London newspaper, writes, "In two months' time, in a move likely to have more effect on the fate of Jerusalem than the building of a Jewish settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim, Israel will start a meticulous examination of the right of every Palestinian resident to remain in the city. Those who are not issued the coveted Jerusalem identity card will have 15 days to leave."

The independent recites grim experiences that are likely to be replicated thousands of times in the next few weeks. For example: "Olga Matri Hana Yoaqim, 63, who has seven children, was born in Bethlehem but has lived in [Jerusalem] with her husband since 1952. 'In September 1995 I went to replace my identity card at the Interior Ministry office in East Jerusalem,' she aid. The clerk cut up her card and told her to come back in two weeks. When Mrs. Yoaqim returned, the clerk told her, 'You don't have an identity card. Co to the West Bank.'

"Her husband went back to the ministry 20 times but was refused. Mrs. Yoaqim said, 'I suffer from diabetes and have kidney problems. When I go to a clinic or hospital, they want to see my identity card. Because I have none, I can't receive treatment.'"

Even Palestinians who have moved from the Old City to adjoining suburbs are in deep trouble. B'Tselem reports, "Some 18 months ago, the Interior Ministry began to revoke the residency status of persons who moved outside the municipal borders of Jerusalem."

Palestinian residency problems began the moment Israeli forces took control of East Jerusalem in the June 1967 war. Over 50,000 Palestinians have been denied permanent residency rights because they were away from home in June 1967, for whatever reason, or moved, even temporarily, to a different location.

Young people often find their residency rights blocked when they attempt to return from attending schools overseas. Only Palestinians bearing proof that they, or their parents, have resided in East Jerusalem since 1967 can move freely to and from the city, and now even that right is in jeopardy. The Palestinians may enter East Jerusalem only if they receive special permits from Israeli authorities.

This policy sharply restricts religious practice, as a practical matter blocking most Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza from visiting holy places in Jerusalem.

It stands as a cynical reversal of Israel's long-proclaimed guarantee that all people will have free access to religious places in Jerusalem. A civil rights attorney, Eliahu Abrams, put it bluntly: " It is a true crisis in human rights. Israel is forcibly getting rid of Palestinians not by pulling them out by the hair, but by quiet, slow, sophisticated deportation."

He says the "essence of the new policy is to demand that all Palestinians who cannot give documentary proof that they have always lived in Jerusalem must leave. According to The Independent, Israeli officials sometimes demand as many as 12 different documents before a Palestinian can secure a new identity card.

Former Congressman Paul Findley (R-IL) is the chairman of the Council for the National Interest.

Comment: Although this article is now several years old, the process of attrition and encirclement used by the Israelis to drive the Palestinians out of Jerusalem has only increased. With the apartheid wall separating what is left of the Palestinian neighborhoods from the rest of the city, the recent condemnation of a Palestinian neighborhood to become a park, on top of the measures discussed above, the Israelis are engaging in ethnic cleansing from the oh, so, sacred ground of Jerusalem, a city that has shown no archealogical verfication of the claims made in the Bible for the existence of the throne of David and Solomon.

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Ridley Scott's Crusades Strikes a Chord in Lebanon
Screening Kingdom of Heaven in Beirut

June 10 / 12, 2005
By ROBERT FISK

Long live Ridley Scott. I never thought I'd say this. Gladiator had a screenplay that might have come from the Boy's Own Paper. Black Hawk Down showed the Arabs of Somalia as generically violent animals. But when I left the cinema after seeing Scott's extraordinary sand-and-sandals epic on the Crusades, Kingdom of Heaven, I was deeply moved--not so much by the film, but by the Muslim audience among whom I watched it in Beirut.

I know what the critics have said. The screenplay isn't up for much and Orlando Bloom, playing the loss-of-faith crusader Balian of Ibelin, does indeed look--as The Independent cruelly observed--like a backpacker touring the Middle East in a gap year.

But there is an integrity about its portrayal of the Crusades which, while fitting neatly into our contemporary view of the Middle East--the moderate crusaders are overtaken by crazed neo-conservative barons while Saladin is taunted by a dangerously al-Qa'ida-like warrior--treats the Muslims as men of honour who can show generosity as well as ruthlessness to their enemies.

It was certainly a revelation to sit through Kingdom of Heaven not in London or New York but in Beirut, in the Middle East itself, among Muslims--most of them in their 20s--who were watching historical events that took place only a couple of hundred miles from us. How would the audience react when the Knights Templars went on their orgy of rape and head-chopping among the innocent Muslim villagers of the Holy Land, when they advanced, covered in gore, to murder Saladin's beautiful, chadored sister? I must admit, I held my breath a few times.

I need not have bothered. When the leprous King of Jerusalem--his face covered in a steel mask to spare his followers the ordeal of looking at his decomposition--falls fatally ill after honourably preventing a battle between Crusaders and Saracens, Saladin, played by that wonderful Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud--and thank God the Arabs in the film are played by Arabs--tells his deputies to send his own doctors to look after the Christian king.

At this, there came from the Muslim audience a round of spontaneous applause. They admired this act of mercy from their warrior hero; they wanted to see his kindness to a Christian.

There are some things in the film which you have to be out here in the Middle East to appreciate. When Balian comes across a pile of crusader heads lying on the sand after the Christian defeat at the 1187 battle of Hittin, everyone in the cinema thought of Iraq; here is the nightmare I face each time I travel to report in Iraq. Here is the horror that the many Lebanese who work in Iraq have to confront. Yet there was a wonderful moment of self-deprecation among the audience when Saladin, reflecting on his life, says: "Somebody tried to kill me once in Lebanon."

The house came down. Everyone believed that Massoud must have inserted this line to make fun of the Lebanese ability to destroy themselves and--having lived in Lebanon 29 years and witnessed almost all its tragedy--I too founds tears of laughter running down my face.

I suppose that living in Lebanon, among those crusader castles, does also give an edge to Kingdom of Heaven. It's said that Scott originally wanted to film in Lebanon (rather than Spain and Morocco) and to call his movie Tripoli after the great crusader keep I visited a few weeks ago. One of the big Christian political families in Lebanon, the Franjiehs, take their name from the "Franj", which is what the Arabs called the crusaders. The Douai family in Lebanon--with whom the Franjiehs fought a bitter battle, Knights Templar-style, in a church in 1957--are the descendants of the French knights who came from the northern French city of Douai.

Yet it is ironic that this movie elicited so much cynical comment in the West. Here is a tale that--unlike any other recent film--has captured the admiration of Muslims. Yet we denigrated it. Because Orlando Bloom turns so improbably from blacksmith to crusader to hydraulic engineer? Or because we felt uncomfortable at the way the film portrayed "us", the crusaders?

But it didn't duck Muslim vengeance. When Guy de Lusignan hands the cup of iced water given him by Saladin to the murderous knight who slaughtered Saladin's daughter, the Muslim warrior says menacingly: "I did not give you the cup." And then he puts his sword through the knight's throat. Which is, according to the archives, exactly what he did say and exactly what he did do.

Massoud, who is a popular local actor in Arab films--he is known in the Middle East as the Syrian Al Pacino--in reality believes that George Bush is to blame for much of the crisis between the Muslim and Western world. "George Bush is stupid and he loves blood more than the people and music," he said in a recent interview. "If Saladin were here he would have at least not allowed Bush to destroy the world, especially the feeling of humanity between people."

Massoud agreed to play Saladin because he trusted Scott to be fair with history. I had to turn to that fine Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf to discover whether Massoud was right. Maalouf it was who wrote the seminal The Crusades through Arab Eyes, researching for his work among Arab rather than Crusader archives. "Too fair," was his judgement on Kingdom of Heaven.

I see his point. But at the end of the film, after Balian has surrendered Jerusalem, Saladin enters the city and finds a crucifix lying on the floor of a church, knocked off the altar during the three-day siege. And he carefully picks up the cross and places it reverently back on the altar. And at this point the audience rose to their feet and clapped and shouted their appreciation. They loved that gesture of honour. They wanted Islam to be merciful as well as strong. And they roared their approval above the soundtrack of the film.

So I left the Dunes cinema in Beirut strangely uplifted by this extraordinary performance--of the audience as much as the film. See it if you haven't. And if you do, remember how the Muslims of Beirut came to realise that even Hollywood can be fair. I came away realising why--despite the murder of Beirut's bravest journalist on Friday--there probably will not be a civil war here again. So if you see Kingdom of Heaven, when Saladin sets the crucifix back on the altar, remember that deafening applause from the Muslims of Beirut.

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Evangelical Christians Fight for a Church
By Stephen Boykewich
Moscow Times Staff Writer
Friday, June 10, 2005. Issue 3185. Page 1.

Dozens of evangelical believers stood stunned on Tverskaya Ploshchad across from City Hall, their protest banners lying in police vans, their pastor being carted off to a holding cell.

"This time it was pretty," Yelena Purshaga said last Thursday. Her husband, Alexander Purshaga, is the pastor of the Emmanuel church.

"You should have seen the way it was yesterday," she said on June 2.

The church had sought -- and thought it received -- permission to hold a weeklong demonstration across from City Hall over the loss of land that it had hoped to use to build a house of worship.

But on May 30 and June 1, police and OMON special forces violently broke up the demonstrations, throwing women and children to the ground and swearing at them, parishioners said. One of them, Marina Karandayeva, raised her sleeve to show an ugly ring of bruises around her arm.

For Emmanuel's believers, it was the latest indignity in a decade-long struggle to build a church for their 1,000-member Moscow parish. For some religious liberty organizations, it was further evidence of a mounting, and in some cases violent, trend to persecute Protestant religious minorities.

In mid-May, a group of young men stormed into the Moscow office of the Russian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith, a main umbrella organization for evangelical churches in Russia, and announced that they had been sent to "beat sectarians."

At about the same time, Perm regional authorities said they wanted to buy back a former palace of culture building that had been sold to an evangelical church -- a decision that came after the church was criticized by the local Russian Orthodox bishop, the mayor of Perm and city legislators. A Baptist home church went up in flames in an apparent arson attack in the Moscow region town of Lyubuchany in September.

Emmanuel's saga began in 1994, when it applied for land to build a church in Moscow. Protestant church membership was growing rapidly at the time, thanks in part to a 1991 law on religious organizations that has since become far more restrictive.

In 1996, the church was granted a plot on Prospekt Vernadskogo, and spent "many millions of rubles" over the next few years preparing the project, said Alexander Purshaga, who is both Emmanuel's chief pastor and president of the Russian Assemblies of God, an organization that includes 38 other parishes nationwide.

But when the Moscow parish was ready to start construction in 1999, authorities in the local administrative district said that residents opposed the project.

"We went out to collect signatures," Yelena Purshaga said. "We did everything by the book: last names, addresses, passport numbers. People knew us because of the charity work we had done with orphans and veterans. Out of the 10,000 people we asked, 6,000 said they weren't against construction."

The church was then abruptly told that the land had been previously promised to the city government for public use, Alexander Purshaga said.

Over the next five years, a series of alternative sites were offered to the church and retracted for various reasons. In 2003, Emmanuel managed to buy a house of culture on Ulitsa Bogdanova in southwest Moscow but was later denied permission to renovate it.

Lawrence Uzzell, president of International Religious Freedom Watch, said Emmanuel was far from alone in its plight. "Securing a meeting space is probably the most common type of problem that Protestant organizations in Russia have," Uzzell said.

Protestant churches throughout Russia have complained that owners of theaters and former cultural palaces have refused to let them rent rooms for religious services because of the opposition of local Orthodox priests or bishops, he said.

"In effect, Orthodox clergy were being given veto power over their competitors," Uzzell said.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II's chief spokesman, Mikhail Moiseyev, denied such practices.

Regarding Emmanuel's difficulties, he said: "Construction in Moscow is a problem for everyone. If in this case there are problems, it's by no means connected to the Orthodox Church."

He noted, however, that "more than once the most holy patriarch has expressed the idea that the activities of many religious groups -- evangelists, neo-charismatics, pentacostals, whatever they call themselves -- have absolutely no historical tradition beneath them and are alien to Russian spiritual life."

Emmanuel's members disagree. Protestants have been active throughout territory of the former Soviet Union for over a century. The Russian Assemblies of God have been registered in the country since 1933, and the families of both Purshagas have worshiped in evangelical churches for generations.

"They ask us who our foreign sponsors are," Yelena Purshaga said. "They say we've come from America to bring a democratic revolution. We don't want anything of the kind. All we want is the land they promised us." [...]

Comment: While their concern may be misplaced, Russian officials are obviously aware of the US habit of inciting "democratic revolutions" in other countries.

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Indictment: Saudi Pair in Colo. Kept Slave
By MELISSA TRUJILLO
Associated Press
June 11, 2005

AURORA, Colo. - A Saudi Arabian couple was in custody Friday, accused of turning a young Indonesian woman into a virtual slave, forcing her to clean, cook and care for their children while she was threatened and sexually assaulted.

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Homaidan Al-Turki, 36, and his wife, Sarah Khonaizan, 35, on charges of forced labor, document servitude and harboring an illegal immigrant.

Al-Turki also faces state charges including kidnapping, false imprisonment and extortion, as well as 12 charges of sexual assault. His wife faces some of the same charges. The two could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Phone messages left Friday for their individual lawyers were not immediately returned.

U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Jeff Dorschner said the Indonesian woman, who is in her 20s, came to the United States with the couple legally to perform domestic chores. But her U.S. visa was hidden from her by Al-Turki and Khonaizan, according to Thursday's indictment.

The woman was controlled by "a climate of fear and intimidation" that included sexual abuse and the belief that she would "suffer serious harm" if she did not perform her tasks, the indictment said.

The woman is believed to have lived with the couple from 2000 until November 2004, according to authorities. Dorschner said she is not in custody.

Authorities said the couple owed the woman nearly $93,000 in unpaid wages.

A neighbor, Vicki Lisman, said she believed the couple has four children - three young girls and a teenage boy. In the summer, the mother and children would go to Saudi Arabia while the father stayed in Colorado, she said.

Lisman said she had no idea another woman lived with the family.

"There was certainly a sense of normalcy with the house and the family," she said.

Al-Turki worked at Al-Basheer Publications and Translation in Denver. No one answered the company's phone Friday.

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Many in U.S., Canada View China as a Threat
By WILL LESTER
Associated Press
Sat Jun 11, 2:52 AM ET

WASHINGTON - China's growing political power and influence on the world economy has many people in North America concerned, polling suggests. Substantial numbers of people in Canada and the United States worry that China's emergence is a threat to world peace and worry about China's impact on the economy in their own countries.

Two-thirds of Americans and half of Canadians say they fear that "China is a serious threat" to jobs in their own countries, according to polling done by Ipsos-Reid. Just over half of Americans, 54 percent, and nearly half of Canadians say they are concerned about the level of Chinese investment in their countries.

Tensions have been increasing between various countries and China recently over its trade surplus, surging textile imports and problems with product piracy.

"It's clear that Americans are concerned about the emergence of China as a world power," said Darrell Bricker, Ipsos' president of public affairs for North America. "Canadians, on the other hand, see it as much an opportunity as a threat."

Bricker said Canadians view increased trade with China as a way of balancing Canada's current reliance on the United States. [...]

As China gains economic and political clout internationally, a sizable group of people in both Canada (42 percent) and the United States (31 percent) said they agreed with the statement that "China will soon dominate the world." [...]

Comment: The US is running around expanding the empire by invading and occupying Arab nations, and yet China is viewed as a the country that will soon "dominate the world"...

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Retailers testing biometric payments
By Ryan Holeywell
UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

Washington, DC, Jun. 10 (UPI) -- Piggly Wiggly Carolina finds itself on the forefront of technology.

The Charleston, S.C., subsidiary of the national grocery-store chain this week completed the first phase of a program to equip all 120 of its stores with biometric scanners -- units that allow customers to leave their wallets at home and instead use their fingerprints to help pay for groceries.

Pay By Touch, the company in San Francisco that is providing Piggy Wiggly with the technology, has developed a system that allows consumers to place their fingers on scanners, which would replace credit cards or debit cards. The machinery scans a fingerprint, converts it to a numerical algorithm, matches that data with information stored in Pay By Touch's database, and presents customers with an on-screen wallet listing their credit and debit accounts.

"When we deploy (Pay By Touch) in grocery stores, we find shoppers happily enrolling," Shannon Riordan, director of marketing for Pay By Touch, told United Press International in an interview. "They try it, they put their finger down and they're hooked." [...]

"The cost is plummeting as quickly as the technology for the scanners improves," Riordan said. She explained that five years ago the scanners cost $2,000, but today the price has dropped to $50. [...]

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A seismic upheaval among Latin America's Indians

The crisis in Bolivia has put the continent's entire balance of power in question

Richard Gott
Saturday June 11, 2005
The Guardian

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the mid-16th century on the immense plains of the bleak plateau that forms the westerly part of what is now Bolivia, they paused for a while at a settlement not far from the rim of a great canyon. At 12,000ft they found it too cold, and they made their permanent base in the relative shelter of the slopes below and founded the city of La Paz.

The village of El Alto on the high plateau, which 30 years ago was home only to the capital's international airport, has now become a huge metropolis of nearly a million Indians, driven there over the past 20 years by the irresistible force of neoliberal economics. The prevailing economic system, devised by US economists in the 1980s, succeeded in destroying the country's agricultural system and its embryonic industries, and closing down the state-owned tin mines - once the source of the wealth of Spain. This predictable disaster brought hundreds of thousands of workless but highly politicised families to live at the gates of the capital city, from where they have been able to hold it to ransom at will. Others migrated to the lower regions of the country, to the Chapare, to grow the profitable crop of coca leaf, the base of cocaine.

Only one road connects La Paz with the outside world, and it has been controlled since the middle of May by the irate Indians of El Alto. Every capital city in Latin America is much the same: a tiny enclave of unbelievable privilege surrounded by a gigantic swamp of poverty. But nowhere is this clash of cultures so vivid, so dramatic and so desperate as between the wealthy canyon of La Paz, home to the heirs of the original white settlers, and the freezing high plateau of El Alto, housing the breeze-block shanties of the expropriated indigenous population.

The demands of the Indians have been uncompromisingly radical. They make no mention of work or food, education or health. They have only two specific requests: a new constitution that would recognise the part that they should play in the government of the country (in which they form more than 60% of the population of 8 million), and the return to the hands of the state of the country's reserves of oil and gas.

Oil was nationalised in Bolivia first in 1937, a year before the Mexican wells were expropriated that were once Lord Cowdray's, and again in 1970. The shell of the state company, YPFB, still exists, and most Bolivians remain implacably hostile to foreign ownership, but private oil companies have kept coming back. When immense reserves of natural gas were discovered in the 1990s, some 50 trillion cubic feet at the last estimate, Bolivia became ever more attractive to external predators, its reserves second only to those of Venezuela.

The government and the companies (British Gas and Spain's Repsol among them) were keen to get the gas out of the ground and down to the coast, to be shipped off to California. Others, notably the spokesmen for the Indian majority, thought that the gas might be better used to fuel Bolivia's own industrial development. The government's attempts to secure the export of the gas through Chile, Bolivia's traditional enemy (ever since, in the 1880s, the Chileans seized the territory through which the gas pipeline would have run), ended in October 2003 when violent protests in El Alto led to the overthrow of President Sánchez de Losada, Bolivia's last elected president. This week's events have been an almost exact replay, with the resignation of the stop-gap president, Carlos Mesa, after prolonged Indian demonstrations and roadblocks had made the country ungovernable by his regime. Something new was required.

The chief emerging protagonist in the next stage of Bolivia's drama is Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian from the high plateau who became the organiser of the coca growers in the Chapare, in the headwaters of the Amazon. From this base of desperate landless peasants and politicised former tin miners, he has become a national figure, allying the socialist rhetoric of the traditional Bolivian left with the fresh language of the indigenous population, now mobilised and angry.

A man in his 40s, a leftist of great charm and charisma, Morales leads the Movement Towards Socialism, and is an outspoken supporter of Castro's Cuba. He is also a favourite son of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, whose wider ambition has been to replicate the revolution of Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan who liberated the countries of the Andes from Spanish control in the 1820s and whose name is immortalised in that of Bolivia. The Americans have accused Chávez of providing Morales with assistance at the presidential election in 2002 (in which he came second), and this would hardly be unusual since all parties in Bolivia depend on external patrons, whether from Europe or the US. Morales has certainly taken a leaf from Chávez's book in demanding the holding of a constitutional assembly to draft a new constitution. This was Chávez's triumph in 1999, modernising and radicalising the country with a single blow before the forces of opposition could mobilise to prevent him.

The crisis that came to a head on Thursday night, as the congress met to accept President Mesa's resignation in the old colonial capital of Sucre (away from the protesters in La Paz), was a triumph for the Indians. The danger had been that the presidency would fall to Hormando Vaca Díaz, the president of the senate and a wealthy white landowner from the lowland eastern region, centred on the city of Santa Cruz. He had the support of the largest parties in congress but was opposed by the Indians. The area around Santa Cruz is the principal wealth-producer of the country, with the soya fields of agribusiness on the surface, and oil and gas underground. This is the land of more recent white settlers, rich and racist, who have been opposed to the political emergence of the Indian majority in the western high lands, and to the Indian resistance that has emerged to challenge them in the lowlands. The organisation of the elite white groups has been asking for autonomy - some even argue for independence - and has unilaterally called for a referendum on this issue in August.

Everyone knew that Vaca Díaz was unacceptable to the Indians and, under pressure from the leaders of the armed forces and the Catholic church, he declined the task. So too did Mario Cossio, the second constitutional choice. It fell to the third in line, Eduardo Rodríguez, president of the supreme court and a man without political affiliation, to take up the challenge. Fresh elections will be held before the end of the year, and Morales's demand for a constituent assembly is on the agenda.

If Morales eventually emerges as Bolivia's elected president, the entire relation of forces in the countries of the Andes will be changed, since comparable indigenous movements in neighbouring countries are also demanding their proper share of power. Yet there have been many false dawns. Observing events in Bolivia, an experienced Brazilian has suggested, is like "watching the train of history pass by on many occasions without the Indians ever securing a ticket to ride". Not since the end of the 18th century has such a seismic upheaval occurred among the continent's indigenous peoples. This time things may be different.

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Reconquering the Collective Patrimony of the Nation
Recovering Bolivia's Oil and Gas
By OSCAR OLIVERA

Petroleum and natural gas are riches found in our territory; they represent national wealth. The presence of oil and gas provides an objective condition that can permit the expansion of the national economy and the raising of the quality of life and work using our own Bolivian resources. Bolivia possesses a great wealth of petroleum and natural gas, but these resources do not currently benefit the Bolivian people. Despite the current situation, these deposits are important for the future economic viability of Bolivia.

The sheer value of the oil and gas is important to the future of the Bolivian economy. The 52.3 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in Bolivia-reserves presently in the hands of foreign capitalists-are minimally worth $120 billion.1 This means that financial resources exist in Bolivia for improving the living conditions of the whole population. The resources exist for job creation, better salaries, and expanding free services.

One hundred twenty billion dollars is an extraordinary amount of money. Such funds can enable the creation of a new productive base that could halt the country's decline and rescue it from industrial and commercial insignificance. The resources exist to modify the structure of national production by broadening its industrial base, improving the transportation system, and diversifying the economy. Better yet, it could build the economy without the foreign loans or favors that always end up submerging us in greater dependency.

But as long as this wealth belongs to foreign businessmen who have appropriated resources that belong to others, these dreams remain unfulfilled. Foreign capitalists are getting rich, and intend to go on getting rich, from these resources. They restrict the possibilities that this wealth, which should belong to us, might be used to benefit the lives of all Bolivians. The capitalists, whether local or foreign, puts profits and her or his own personal benefit above the collective and national interest. The transfer of wealth to private and foreign hands is the fate that has befallen the collective national patrimony.

What could be a source of rebirth for the productive capacity of the nation is, for now, only a source of profits and private fortunes for a handful of capitalists. The private ownership of petroleum and natural gas by these businessmen constitutes, without any doubt, the strangulation of one of the greatest opportunities the nation has ever had to finance and to sustain the type of productive growth that can benefit the population, satisfy our needs, and fulfill our right to a dignified communal life.

We have economic wealth, but this wealth is not under our control. We have the potential to make a great technological and productive leap that could benefit working people-the real owners of the gas and oil. Yet those who stand ready to benefit are foreign businessmen and their local commercial and political associates who have handed over to foreign capital what belongs not to them but to all Bolivians.

Bolivia's possession of natural gas and petroleum, because of their world-wide use, is what most strongly ties the national economy to world trade and foreign investment. The principal consumers of Bolivia's hydrocarbons are businesses, governments, and citizens of other nations, particularly those in neighboring countries. Moreover, it is estimated that by the end of 2000 direct gas-related foreign investment in Bolivia originating from extremely powerful multinational companies will total $1.4 billion, equivalent to 20 percent of our GDP.2

The management and control of these resources, whatever option is adopted, needs to take into account how petroleum and natural gas link us to world trade. We need to realize that these commodities speak within the international economy as objects of trade embody the commercial value of natural wealth. The presence of private foreign interests is also observed in their production and management.

A third economic implication is that gas and oil, along with water, are the sources of energy upon which the nation depends. With our technical knowledge, gas and oil will nourish the long-term development of the national economy. Any strategy for national economic and social development in the context of the global interdependence of nations-whether a business strategy, or a community-based strategy of self-management-requires, if the nation's relative autonomy and material viability are to be sustained, the ability to control the wealth embodied in hydrocarbons. Today, such strategic resources are controlled by business consortiums whose only goal is rapid private gain. These groups stand in the way of the possibilities we have, as a country, for productive development and autonomy in matters of economic policy.

On the basis of this economic and political analysis two things become clear. First, the country must recover the control and management of its hydrocarbon resources. This is perhaps the nation's last best chance to materially revolutionize the country's productive infrastructure and improve the working and living conditions of the Bolivian people.

Second, we should understand that no possibility exists for autarkic development of our resources in isolation from the rest of the world and the dominant economic interests. We do not need to lie down and roll over. However, for as long as the hegemony of the bosses and the transnational power of the great capitalist enterprises survive, our economic policy must conquer spaces of self-government and economic autonomy which connect to other spaces of autonomy, resistance, and economic self-management in other nations. In truth, only the mid-term and long-term quest for an interdependent globalization of workers' autonomy and economic self-management can eventually furnish the moment in which ordinary working people can enjoy the use of their wealth.

When we talk about recovering our national patrimony, the central questions remain: Who or what is the "nation"? What would it mean to recover the control and management of hydrocarbon resources "for the nation"? Who decides the meaning, and who authorizes the voice, of the "nation" that will take charge of the reappropriation of natural wealth?

Up until now, the entity that incarnated the nation, its authority, and its sovereignty has been the state. From the 1940s to the 1990s, the state has attributed to itself the power to represent the nation, its destiny, and its political sovereignty. In particular, a bureaucratic, political elite has spoken in the name of the state and claimed to embody the state. On this basis it also claimed to speak in the name of the nation. Hence, for almost fifty years the destiny of the nation has been confused with that of the state; the property of the nation has been confused with the property of the state; the welfare of the nation has been confused with the welfare of state functionaries and government administrators; and the sovereignty of society over its own resources has been confused with the state's monopoly of the economy, culture, and collective wealth.

That which claimed to possess the voice of the nation was, at bottom, nothing more than a form of state capitalism. It sacrificed the collective resources of society to enrich a caste of politicians and military officers. They, in turn, fattened up and paved the way for the current elite. This elite, in turn, spearheaded the transnational privatization of petroleum and natural gas.

That is why, after sixty years of social struggles to reconquer our natural resources, it is impossible to return to the old state bureaucracy's strategy for recovering the nation's wealth. We have seen that nationalization, in the end, prepared the conditions for the denationalization of our collective wealth. The opposite of the cataclysmic privatizations and de-nationalization of transnational capitalism is neither state capitalism nor state property. Both options concentrate control of collective wealth in the hands of a few: in the first case, the corporate bosses; in the second, the state ministers, government functionaries, and lawyers. In both cases, tiny castes and elites-in the name of the free market or the patria (homeland)-appropriate the collective patrimony of Bolivian society for their private use. Both, in their own ways, monopolize social wealth without the decisions and will of ordinary working people.

It becomes a question of countering both forms of privatization-the private property of the transnationals and the private property of the state-with forms of social, economic, and political organization. It is a question of organizing working people, ordinary people, and people who do not live off the labor of others and having them take into their own hands the control, use, and ownership of collective and communal wealth. The true opposite of privatization is the social reappropriation of wealth by working-class society itself-self-organized in communal structures of management, in assemblies, in neighborhood associations, in unions, and in the rank and file.

For the true nation not to be supplanted by the market or the state, the working class, both urban and rural, and the marginalized and economically insecure of the nation-in other words, the overwhelming majority of society-must assume control over the wealth embodied in hydrocarbons. And they must do so through assembly-style forms of self-organization at the neighborhood, regional, and national levels. The sovereignty of the nation should not be alienated by the state or its administrative bureaucracy. The nation must enact a self-representation; it must self-govern through autonomous structures of participation that socialize responsibility for public life. The recovery of patrimony for the nation, the international articulation of the nation, and the form in which economic and political sovereignty is exercised is something that must be decided, implemented, and administered by all of us who do not live off the labor of others.

Now, the mere description of this concept of the nation, as the direct exercise of social sovereignty by all workers, is not enough to make it happen in reality. It requires a lengthy process of reconstituting the social fabric of solidarity, trust, and mutual support among the poor, among urban and rural workers, among the ordinary working inhabitants who maintain this country. It requires an effort to rebuild, broaden, and improve the old network of solidarities that neoliberalism has destroyed over the last twenty years. Though a difficult and possibly long road, it remains the only road by which power and control over our natural and social patrimony can be administered by plebeian and working-class Bolivia itself. The other road, state re-nationalization, is certainly quicker and easier, but clearly would mean a swapping of one set of elite expropriators for another.

The events known as the Water War in Cochabamba demonstrates that the construction of ties of self-organization, rebellion, and dignity can advance rapidly if one knows how to connect different sources of discontent and overcome the fear and the separation that isolate us and render us powerless. The Water War in Cochabamba is an example of the recuperation of natural resources by working people. Everyone mobilized; everyone assumed responsibility for recovering our patrimony; everyone deliberated in town meetings and assemblies; everyone offered their lives and their food to resist the military repression; everyone made themselves responsible-through their local, regional, and state assemblies-for controlling, directing, and administering water as a collective resource.

The same thing should happen with petroleum and natural gas. If we do not want the bosses and politicians to steal our children's future, we should help transform the suffering and weariness that has broken out all around us into a force for decision, for coming together, and for mobilization. Today there is great discontent because this gigantic wealth that lies beneath our feet passes right out from under our noses and leaves us stuck in economic misery and desperation. And the gas we buy is priced as if it were flown in from Iraq. Hence, there exists a predisposition to struggle. What we need to do is to create networks of groups that can build social unity, in which individual anger and disillusionment can be converted into collective mobilization, democratic discussion, decision-making, and collective action.

It is necessary to reinforce the consciousness and conviction that Bolivia's petroleum and natural gas belong to us-to you, to our parents and children, to the factory worker and the craftsman, to the peasant and the communal worker. The responsibility lies with all of us to take charge of the use and management of our oil and gas.

The formation of a new Coordinadora-the Coalition in Defense and Recuperation of Gas and Hydrocarbon Resources-could be a step toward reconstituting the fabric of working-class society. The committees or coalitions comprising the Gas Coordinadora would have as members any citizen, neighborhood group, housewife, or wage worker, and their goal would be to unite and to channel social discontent and collective demands. A word of caution: these groups cannot be allowed to become the top-down operations of a few who want to shine in front of the TV cameras.

The Water Coordinadora in Cochabamba proved able to emerge on the scene of struggle with such force because, starting five years earlier, organizational structures were built from below-from every peasant union, factory union, and outlying neighborhood. These structures had clear objectives: to defend what belongs to the collective; to defend social rights; to defend traditional customs and practices grounded in assembly-based self-governance; and to promote effective collective mobilizations. Only this patient work-ant-like, honest, clear, and committed-could have resulted, years later, in the only workers', peasants', and popular organization that has proven itself capable of throwing out a foreign corporation, defeating the state, and, for one week, replacing the state with forms of assembly-style self-government.

With petroleum and natural gas, one must go further and extend this kind of endeavor to the national level. But one must still start from below. Without that method, the recovery of our natural resources and national consciousness will remain impossible.

A version of this essay was originally delivered by Oscar at a seminar held in La Paz on June 30, 2000.

Endnotes

1. Kevin G. Hall. "Bolivians Vote to Boost Control of Gas Reserves," Washington Post, July 19, 2004. (September 2004). These figures are based on the exchange rate of the dollar in summer 2000 and prices of $2.30 per 1000 cubic feet of gas.

2. "Las Prioridades y Perspectivas del Desarrollo en Bolivia,"

"Our participation should not be reduced to the few seconds it takes to deposit our votes in the ballot box. Marches, protests, road blockades, and building occupations are neither adventurous lunacy nor destabilizing conspiracies against democracy. They are simply actions available to ordinary people..."

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The Facebook.com: Big Brother with a smile
Daniel Abrahamson | June 9 2005

Imagine a computer database which catalogued your entire social network: the email, home address, and sensitive details of all your friends, and consequently, all of their friends in a massive interlinked web. What if this service also archived all of your personal preferences on everything from books to movies to music? And if it also categorized your political views, club associations, previous jobs, educational background, and who you are dating?

How about if this information was available not only to government spooks but the general public free of charge?

Sounds like a hellish vision of the future, right? But this program is not the devilish spawn of DARPA’s Total Information Awareness program, nor the secret plans of “private” data miners like Choicepoint or Axciom.

The Beast system is here right now. And worst of all, people are voluntarily giving up this information, with some updating their profile every day with their latest personal details.

Welcome to TheFaceBook.com. Founded in February 2004, it currently operates on 800 college campuses cataloging the details of its 2.8 million users. According to the Boston Globe, “the free network…boasts that on average it attracts 80 percent of a school’s undergraduate population as well as a smattering of graduate students, faculty members, and recent alumni.”

For example at Boston University, 14,007 of the school’s 15,846 undergraduates have joined and volunteered their most intimate details. According to the statistics, approximately 60 percent of users log in daily, with 85 percent logging in weekly.

And just to make sure you can join the fun, TheFaceBook.com is busy adding more than 50 campuses a month as well as expanding to high schools and international institutions.

Call it Big Brother with a consumer-friendly smile.

So who do we have to thank for this? According to the official story, TheFaceBook was founded by 3 students from the CIA’s favorite breeding ground of Harvard University. Their first $500,000 in funding came from Peter Thiel, founder and former CEO of Paypal.

Thiel is also a former columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a graduate of Stanford University, the home of NSA computer research and CIA mind control projects like MK ULTRA. He is an avowed neocon and globalist whose book “The Diversity Myth” received praises from William Kristol, Christopher Cox, Edward Meese, and Linda Chavez. Thiel sits on the board of the radical right-wing VanguardPAC and he personally donated $21,200 to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign for governor.

At a June 24, 2004 conference, Thiel remarked “I think the only way that the world can become unified in some sense is through technology. Technology is driving us towards a single, seamless humanity.” Surely John Poindexter and the architects of the cashless society control grid would agree.

Yet TheFaceBook.com’s connections to the shadowy world of black ops don’t stop there. They recently received $13 million in venture capital backing from Accel Partners. James Breyer, the manager of Accel, sits on the board of National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) alongside Gilman Louie, head of In-Q-Tel.

The CIA set up In-Q-Tel in 1999, with the goal of fostering companies that provide “data warehousing and mining” in a “secure community of interest.” Further goals include “profiling search agents” which are “self-sustaining, to reduce its reliance on CIA funding.” Sounds like an exact description of TheFaceBook.

After all, what better way to spy on potential radicals and student activists than with a program so seemingly innocuous? TheFaceBook already categorizes users on a scale from “Very Liberal” to “Very Conservative” allowing for easy government profiling. Additionally they can search for anyone who lists the wrong keywords, like “anarchist,” “protest” “New World Order,” or any other thought crime. And with the click of a button, they have your picture, address, and the names and information of all your friends.

TheFaceBook is the devil in sheep’s clothing. It is leading the vanguard of the “consumer friendly” Big Brother targeting young people, specifically college and high school students. While pretending to be a harmless and fun service, TheFaceBook is a dark foray into psychological profiling, where the cryptocracy wants to know every detail of your life and track your location at every moment.

Unfortunately, this is part of a larger plan to spy on students. In March, AOL, a company that has admittedly handed over emails and web logs to the FBI and NSA, announced a new privacy policy for their popular AIM instant messenger program used predominately by students. It said “You waive any right to privacy." Civil liberties advocates immediately warned users that all their conversations could be tapped by AOL, which uses an Illuminati all-seeing eye as their logo. But with so much MTV to watch and so many Britney Spears songs to memorize, it seems few of them are listening.

Last week the CIA announced they would be hiring students to spy on campus activists and report the information back to headquarters. In actuality this has probably been going on far before the official announcement.

Eventually all of this information will be stored in pentabyte databases and linked to our microchipped National ID card. But before they can implant Verichips into our hands and solder BrainGate chips into our brains, they must weed out the “student troublemakers” with the help of programs like TheFaceBook and AIM.

Civil liberties advocates are so busy protesting the PATRIOT Act that they have ignored the insidious spy networks right under our noses. The same college students who list themselves in the ACLU club on TheFaceBook are blind to the danger of announcing their affiliation to the world.

TheFaceBook.com is nothing more than COINTELPRO with slick packaging. It is part of a new breed of spy networks designed to profile students for the next phase of martial law. The Bush regime is a megalomaniacal cabal of mass murderers who want to crush all internal dissent, and like all dictatorial regimes, the first place they will look is students.

Of course with the ECHELON network already spying on all phone calls and emails, there is really nowhere to hide. So in the meantime I am using TheFaceBook to my advantage. I have listed myself as a “Very Conservative” intern at the Dan Quayle Library with a penchant for books by Oliver North.

After all, maybe I have entered the right keywords and the CIA will come recruit me as one of those new student spies.

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Texas girl with cancer taken from parents

Boston.com
June 10, 2005

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas --Child welfare officials seized a 12-year-old cancer patient from her parents, saying they were blocking radiation treatment that doctors say she needs. During a court hearing Wednesday, Michele and Edward Wernecke asked that doctors be barred from giving radiation therapy to their daughter Katie until a hearing next week to determine whether she will stay in state custody.

They say their daughter's cancer is in remission and they object to her getting the radiation treatment after undergoing a round of chemotherapy. Katie has Hodgkin's disease, a type of cancer involving the lymph nodes.

Juvenile court Judge Carl Lewis said he would rule on the request Friday.

Last week, authorities issued an Amber Alert to gain temporary custody of Katie after receiving an anonymous tip about possible neglect. She was found with her mother at a family ranch, about 80 miles west of Corpus Christi near Freer, on Saturday.

She remains at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she is undergoing tests, officials said. State Child Protective Services says her life could be in danger without further cancer treatment.

Michele Wernecke was arrested on charges of interfering with child custody and was released Monday after posting $50,000 bond.

The Werneckes' three sons were placed in a foster home.

Speaking Thursday on NBC's "Today" show, Michele Wernecke said her daughter's illness is unique and should be treated as such.

"I think they should treat her for what her body calls for and not standard protocol. Nobody will look at that," she said. "Not every cancer is the same. Nobody understands that. Her body is not standard, and her cancer is not standard."

The couple, members of the Church of God, have said they oppose blood transfusions unless they were from Katie's mother. But the couple's attorney, Daniel Horne, said religion wasn't at issue in the fight over cancer treatment.

Rather, they believe doctors haven't been upfront about Katie's care and have not answered all their questions about the side effects of the radiation.

"This issue is about parental rights, not about religious rights," Horne said. "They just want to be informed of her treatment. They want to be involved in this."

Katie was diagnosed with cancer in January. In a videotaped statement recorded by her parents, Katie said she's feeling better.

"I don't need radiation treatment. And nobody asked me what I wanted. It's my body," she said.

Comment: Clearly the US state HAS the authority to override parents decisions concerning their children, making clear that all citizens, in essence, are the property of the state. Now and again, we see this fact proven in examples like the above. So far, there has been no cause for the state to make this fact clear to the wider population, but given the path that the Bush regime appears to be following, we strongly suspect that such a time will surely come.

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Russian Investigators Probe Biological Weapons Link to Hepatitis Outbreak
09.06.2005
MosNews

An investigation is checking whether the mass outbreak of hepatitis A in the Tver region near Moscow could be linked to the biological weapons sector. At the moment 363 people are in hospital, NewsRu.Com reported Thursday. Some newspapers have linked the outbreak to the recent murder of Russia’s leading specialist in bio weapons.

The outbreak began at the end of May in the Tver region and has now reached the neighboring region of Smolensk, agencies report. It was initially blamed on the local drinks industry, whose products revealed some colon bacillus.

The investigation is still considering several versions, among them biological weapons.

Some sources link Wednesday’s murder of Anti-Microbe Therapy Institute director Leonid Strachunsky, who specialized in creating microbes resistant to biological weapons, to the hepatitis outbreak, NewsRu.Com added.

Strachunsky was found dead in his hotel room in Moscow, where he came from Smolensk en route to the United States. He had been hit on the head with a champagne bottle, and some of his possessions were missing.

In spite of the seeming simplicity of the crime, the investigators are looking for a connection between the murder of the leading bio weapons researcher and the hepatitis outbreak in Tver, the Moskovsky Komsomolets paper reports.

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US checking possible 2nd case of mad cow disease
www.chinaview.cn 2005-06-11 11:27:59

WASHINGTON, June 10 (Xinhuanet) -- The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said Friday it is checking a possible new case of mad cow disease, with additional tests to be done for confirmation.

The possible new case, in a beef cow, is one of the three suspected animals that were previously tested negative for mad cow disease. They were tested again with a different technology at the request of the USDA's Inspector General who was reviewing the department's mad cow testing program. The results showed one animal tested positive.

The meat of the animal that tested positive did not enter the food or feed chain, said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

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Russia Ready for Pre-Emptive Strikes to Avert Terrorist Threat — Defense Minister

Created: 10.06.2005 18:19 MSK (GMT 3), Updated: 19:56 MSK, 20 hours 24 minutes ago
MosNews

Russia is ready to start a preventive war against other countries to avert terrorist thereats, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in an interview with Russian weekly Profile.

“The right to the strike has been announced, and we reserve it for ourselves,” Ivanov warned. But he stressed, however, that a preventive war is possible only on one condition: “If we are 100 percent sure that the threat (to Russia) is right here and right now,” he explained.

Speaking on the “threat issue”, Ivanov pointed out in particular that the possible placement of NATO military bases on the territory of the Baltic countries will be considered the military threat not only to Russia, but to a number of CIS states. At the same time he supposes that even some CIS countries, for instance, Ukraine, may become NATO member states within a decade.

Nevertheless, Sergei Ivanov pointed out that Russia currently does not have direct enemies as it used to 50 years ago. He recalled that China, India and the U.S. are the country’s main partners at the moment, while the Kremlin shares most views on foreign policy issues with France and Germany.

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Japanese Police Question Student Bomber
By NATALIE OBIKO PEARSON
Associated Press
Sat Jun 11, 7:30 AM ET

TOKYO - Police questioned an 18-year-old student on Saturday about why he threw a homemade bomb into a high school classroom in southern Japan, wounding 58 teenagers when the gunpowder-filled jar exploded, spraying the room with glass shards and nails.

News reports said the boy told police he made the explosive using instructions found on the Internet and had planned the attack because his "pride had been hurt" repeatedly by other students and that he "had a grudge."

One male student was seriously injured with cuts to his legs and abdomen, and another student broke his finger in the attack Friday at Hikari public high school in Yamaguchi. The other injuries were minor.

Police said the boy fashioned the bomb from a glass bottle filled with a combination of gunpowder and other substances.

The more severe injuries were caused by several dozen nails which were stuffed into the bottle along with gunpowder stripped from firecrackers and connected to a crude fuse, Asahi TV and the Mainichi newspaper reported. Public broadcaster NHK said he told police he used instructions from a Web site to make the bomb.

The suspect was arrested soon after the attack on charges of assault. But police have not ruled out the possibility of raising that charge to attempted murder, the Yomiuri newspaper said. [...]

School officials and news reports described the boy as quiet, courteous and a conscientious student who never skipped class and had an academic record "above average." [...]

But they also described a loner who was often bullied since middle school and was extremely withdrawn. [...]

Last June, an 11-year-old schoolgirl stunned the country when she murdered her sixth-grade classmate with a box-cutter because of a spat over the Internet. The incident prompted many Japanese to question whether adults were being vigilant enough about children's use of the Internet.

NHK reported there have been other incidents recently of teens using the Web to get information on building handmade bombs.

Last October, a 15-year-old middle schooler in central Tokorozawa city was arrested after being caught trying to make a bomb using an iron pipe stuffed with gunpowder taken from fireworks. In 2002, a 16-year-old youth set off a timed explosive in fire hose storage box at a Tokyo station, NHK said.

"The Internet has made it relatively easy to access this kind of information," for children, said Akio Kokubu, vice president of the Internet Association of Japan, but added that efforts to restrict Web access will alone not solve the problem.

"How to we tackle this problem? That is a problem that children, their parents and society as a whole must face up to and think about," he said.

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French men yearn to become pregnant
AFP

PARIS, June 9 (AFP) - Maybe it's that mix of hot Latin blood and cool Cartesian intellect, or perhaps is just a collective guilty conscience.

Whatever the cause, nearly 40 percent of French men told a recent survey that they would, science permitting, like to become pregnant.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos and published in the current issue of Children Magazine (Enfants Magazine), showed that 38 percent of the more than 500 fathers of children up to seven interviewed by phone said they would like, or would have liked, to be the one to carry their offspring to term.

A slightly higher percentage of women respondents liked the idea of their spouses taking on
the nine-month job.

The magazine did not compare the overlap - whether women whose mates expressed deep maternal yearnings would welcome the prospect.

The survey carried other signs that parenting is not what it used to be in the country that spawned one of the all-time feminist classics, Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex".

Eighty-six percent of the fathers queried said they were ready "to take a paternity leave of several months to live their fatherhood more intensely," provided it caused "minimal financial impact."

And 71 percent said they were prepared to "take a year-long sabbatical" or "request to work part time."

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Flash Flood Hits China School, Killing 64
AP
June 11, 2005

BEIJING - The death toll from a flash flood that hit a primary school in northeast China rose to 64 on Saturday, as information began trickling out from the remote area a day after the tragedy.

The torrent Friday in Heilongjiang province swept 62 students to their deaths, plus two villagers, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Water from heavy rains swept down a mountain and inundated the Chang'an Primary School at about 2 p.m. Friday, reports have said.

Some 352 students, all between 6 and 14 years old, and 31 teachers were in the school when the waters struck, the reports said.

Initial reports said 29 people were killed, and authorities announced the dramatically higher death toll Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile in the country's south, officials were shoring up the banks of rivers already swollen by weeks of rain - with more rain on the way. [...]

In China's far southern provinces of Yunnan and Hainan, however, drought has scorched crops, threatened livestock and left millions without enough drinking water, Xinhua said.

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Rare earthquake felt here, but causes no damage
By Michael Lewis - Staff writer
The Franklin Press Online

North Carolina -- Macon County is on the map - the earthquake map.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a micro earthquake at 5:50 a.m. in Franklin Wednesday morning, measuring 2.6 on the Richter Scale in the Rabbit Creek area.

Residents in areas like Sanderstown and Holly Springs reported their houses shuddering early Wednesday, and Maconians as far out as Olive Hill past the airport heard the noise.

While no damage was reported, many witness accounts claim loud booms were heard, along with other accounts of houses shaking.

Macon County EMS assistant director David Key says he and emergency services personnel surveyed the scene.

"We pinpointed the location with a GPS unit," he says, "It looks just like it always did - no sign of anything."

Tyler Clark, chief geologist with the N.C. Geological Survey, says it's a wonder anyone at all knew about the small quake.

"I would be very surprised if there was any damage," he says, adding that he was amazed anyone even knew the quake occurred.

Clark and his team keep track of seismic activity in North Carolina. He says even minor damage usually doesn't occur until a 2.8 quake or higher happens.

"It (a 2.6 rumble) would be barely felt," he says.

The depth of the earthquake cannot be determined, due to its mild nature.

"They weren't able to pinpoint the accuracy of depth since it was so small," Clark says.

North Carolina does not have a network of detection centers unlike Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia, where earthquake activity is much higher.

"We rely on our neighbors, the Southeastern Seismic Network," Clark says.

The reason North Carolina doesn't have as much detection capability as their neighboring states is simple - there just aren't many earthquakes.

Clark speculates that the activity in Macon on Wednesday is probably related to a large fault line in eastern Tennessee. Unlike major fault lines on the West Coast, this one is not visible since it resides deep underground.

"We know very little about it because of that," Clark says.

Mapping of past earthquakes shows a multitude of tremors along the Tennessee fault line.

"There are no known faults in North Carolina," Clark says.

Activity along the fault line in Tennessee causes what Clark refers to as "popping" - small spontaneous quakes all over the southeast region.

"It's constantly pulling apart," he says.

While the quake here may have been small, it was at least big enough to make the books. Many times, Clark says they get phone calls from folks who report activity, but with no seismic recording of the event, they often are forgotten.

"This is an official earthquake," he says. "There's no doubt about that."

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Avalanche threat lingers in mountains of western U.S.
By TOM GARDNER
The Seattle Times
Friday, June 10, 2005

Summer is fast approaching, but the threat of avalanches lingers in many Western mountain ranges where it's been an unusual season for one of nature's more unpredictable phenomena.

Since late October, at least 27 people have died in the United States in avalanches, which is about the average. (An Alaskan student died earlier this month climbing Mount Logan in Canada's Yukon. )

What's unusual is that two of the deaths occurred in developed ski areas, including the most recent one last month in Colorado and another in January when a teenager was swept off a ski lift near Las Vegas.

In the previous 19 years, just three of the 416 known avalanche deaths in the nation - well below 1 percent - occurred within ski areas, according to the National Avalanche Center, in part because resort operators patrol their slopes. [...]

Last month's slide at Arapahoe Basin near Breckenridge, Colo., occurred in the morning when snow usually is more stable. But in this case warm overnight temperatures had melted the snowpack, creating heavy wet slabs of snow, according to Scott Toepfer of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

In southern Nevada, an expert said there may have been no way to predict the slide that killed a 13-year-old snowboarder at Mount Charleston.

"When this avalanche released, it was unprecedented," said Doug Abromeit, director of the U.S. Forest Service's National Avalanche Center in Ketchum, Idaho, who investigated the slide.

While forecasting avalanches is nearly as unlikely as predicting an earthquake, there are conditions that accompany slides, according to Bruce Tremper, director of the U.S. Forest Service Avalanche Center in Salt Lake City.

Almost all avalanches occur on slopes of 35 to 45 degrees and are most likely after a heavy snowfall is followed by clear weather that lets ice crystals form, producing an unstable layer below the next heavy snow.

Wind also forms drifts and cornices that are avalanche-prone.

While most avalanches occur from late fall through early spring, two climbers were killed in an avalanche on Mount Rainier last June. Two years earlier, three climbers perished in a June slide at Alaska's Denali National Park. A Colorado slide killed a climber as late as July 5, 1997. [...]

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Arlene Soaks Florida, Gathering Strength
By BILL KACZOR
AP
Jun 10, 8:35 PM (ET)

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. - A strengthening Tropical Storm Arlene soaked parts of Florida as its center moved toward the northern Gulf Coast, stirring memories of last year's devastating hurricane season.

Forecasters said Arlene, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named tropical storm, could become a weak hurricane before making landfall in the Deep South late Saturday, with the worst weather arriving east of the storm's center.

Arlene was then expected to move along the Mississippi-Alabama line, possibly reaching Tennessee by Sunday afternoon.

Tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches were posted from Florida to Louisiana, as Arlene's top sustained winds reached 60 mph, up from 45 mph earlier in the day. The wind speed was likely to increase, but forecasters said the biggest impact would be heavy rain.

Residents in flood-prone areas along the Gulf Coast were urged to move to higher ground. In the vulnerable marshes south of New Orleans, bulldozers were moved into place in case water from a storm surge breaks through a levee.

In Pensacola Beach, where many residents are still living in government trailers because of damage from last year's Hurricane Ivan, residents eyed the forecast warily.

Margie Wassner, 57, said she planned to ride out Arlene with friends inland in Pensacola.

"It's pretty scary to me. I just kept hoping that we wouldn't have anything, but I don't know. It's awfully early in the year to be having this," she said.

Jeff Jackson, a real estate agent in Gulf Shores, Ala., worried that Arlene's rain could undo some of the beach erosion repairs under way in his town since February.

"Coming so close to Ivan, it's got people a little edgy," he said.

Arlene passed Cuba's westernmost tip early Friday, bringing heavy rain, gusty winds and rough seas to the region. A Russian exchange student died after being pulled from the rolling waves off Miami Beach early Friday, officials said.

At 5 p.m. EDT, Arlene's poorly defined center was about 345 miles south-southeast of Pensacola. The storm was moving north at about 17 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. Wind and rain extended 150 miles to the north and east from the storm's center.

The Florida Panhandle was battered last year by Ivan, one of the four hurricanes to strike the state within a few weeks. Florida was also struck by Charley, Frances and Jeanne, and together the four storms caused about 130 deaths in the United States and were blamed for $22 billion in insured damage.

Hurricane season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

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Cassiopeia A: Dead But Not Quiet
By Michael Schirber
Space.com Staff Writer
09 June, 2005

An echo has been detected around a star whose death was witnessed 325 years ago. The reverberation - emanating out in light, not sound waves - implies that the stellar remnant let out a burst of energy some 50 years ago.

The dead star in question is Cassiopeia A, whose explosion or supernova was witnessed by Tycho Brahe in 1572. Situated 10,000 light years away, astronomers believe a dense neutron star is all that is left of the original star.

This neutron star remnant was thought to be resting in peace, that is, until this recent discovery of a light echo in infrared images taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

"We had thought the stellar remains inside Cassiopeia A were just fading away," said Oliver Krause of the University of Arizona. "Spitzer came along and showed us this exploded star, one of the most intensively studied objects in the sky, is still undergoing death throes before heading to its final grave."

The evidence for this postmortem activity first came in a Spitzer test image that showed glowing dust features around the dead star. Later observations found that the tangled features had moved outward - apparently at the speed of light.

In actuality, the dust hadn't moved, but instead the light waves that were exciting the dust had spread out further. This light echo is the largest one ever observed and the first to be seen around a long-dead star.

By tracing the echo's light waves backwards, the researchers inferred that some sort of bang occurred on the neutron star back in 1953.

This recent activity may mean that Cassiopeia A is an exotic type of neutron star, called a magnetar. These strange objects have surfaces that rupture and quake, letting loose tremendous amounts of high-energy gamma rays.

"Magnetars are very rare and hard to study, especially if they are no longer associated with their place of origin," said George Rieke of the University of Arizona. "If we have indeed uncovered one, then it will be just about the only one for which we know what kind of star it came from and when."

Further observations with Spitzer may reveal more about Cassiopeia A's life after death. Rieke and Krause were two of the authors on a paper describing the observations in this week's issue of the journal Science.

"We had no idea that Spitzer would ever see light echoes," Rieke said. "Sometimes you just trip over the biggest discoveries."

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New solar storm shakes space weather theory
ScienceBlog.com

January 2005 was a stormy month--in space. With little warning, a giant spot materialized on the sun and started exploding. Between January 15th and 19th, sunspot 720 produced four powerful solar flares. When it exploded a fifth time on January 20th, onlookers were not surprised.

They should have been. Researchers realize now that the January 20th blast was something special. It has shaken the foundations of space weather theory and, possibly, changed the way astronauts are going to operate when they return to the Moon.

Sunspot 720 unleashed a new kind of solar storm.

Scant minutes after the January 20th flare, a swarm of high-speed protons surrounded Earth and the Moon. Thirty minutes later, the most intense proton storm in decades was underway.

"We've been hit by strong proton storms before, but [never so quickly]," says solar physicist Robert Lin of UC Berkeley. "Proton storms normally develop hours or even days after a flare." This one began in minutes.

Proton storms cause all kinds of problems. They interfere with ham radio communications. They zap satellites, causing short circuits and computer reboots. Worst of all, they can penetrate the skin of space suits and make astronauts feel sick.

"An astronaut on the Moon, caught outdoors on January 20th, would have had almost no time to dash for shelter," says Lin. The storm came fast and "hard," with proton energies exceeding 100 million electron volts. These are the kind of high-energy particles that can do damage to human cells and tissue.

"The last time we saw a storm like this was in February 1956." The details of that event are uncertain, though, because it happened before the Space Age. "There were no satellites watching the sun."[...]

"CMEs can account for most proton storms," says Lin, but not the proton storm of January 20th. According to theory, CMEs can't push material to Earth quickly enough.

Back to the drawing board: If a CME didn't accelerate the protons, what did?

"We have an important clue," says Lin. When the explosion occurred, sunspot 720 was located at a special place on the sun: 60o west longitude. This means "the sunspot was magnetically connected to Earth."

He explains: The sun's magnetic field spirals out into the solar system like water from a lawn sprinkler. (Why? The sun spins like a lawn sprinkler does.) The magnetic field emerging from solar longitude 60o W bends around and intersects Earth. Protons are guided by magnetic force fields so, on January 20th, there was a superhighway for protons leading all the way from sunspot 720 to our planet. [...]

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Our North loses the Pole
CanWest News Service
June 9, 2005

After centuries in Canada, the roaming magnetic North Pole has crossed into international waters, en route to Siberia

YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. - Sometime in the last year, a longtime friend turned its back on Canada and was last spotted heading for Siberia.

For centuries, the magnetic North Pole was ours, a constant companion that wandered the rolling tundra and frozen seas of our Arctic.

But no more.

A Canadian scientist who recently returned from a trip to measure the Pole's current location says it has now left Canadian territory and crossed into international waters.

"I think the Pole has probably just moved past the 200-nautical-mile limit," said Larry Newitt, head of the Natural Resources Canada geomagnetic laboratory in Ottawa. "It's probably outside of Canada, technically. But we're still the closest country to it."

In May, Newitt and his instruments landed on a patch of frozen ocean at 82.5 degrees North to make a more precise measurement of the magnetic Pole's position.

The pole, which, unlike the geographic North Pole, is in constant movement, has been within modern Canadian borders since at least the 1600s -- the time of Shakespeare and Sir Isaac Newton.

In 1904 it was measured just off the northern tip of Nunavut's King William Island by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, and since then has moved in a north to northwesterly direction at a stately 10 kilometres per year.

But in 2001, scientists discovered that it was picking up the pace, suddenly charging ahead -- and toward the edge of Canadian territory -- at more than 40 kilometres per year.

This year, bad weather prevented Newitt from reaching the actual location of the pole, and he hasn't completed the analysis of his observations. But he got close enough to make two measurements, and says it appears the pole is farther away than expected, and moving even faster than before.

"We landed at two places at around 83 North, and it certainly appears the pole is probably closer to 84 North," he said. "That means that the pole is still continuing to accelerate."

If the pole continues its current course, it will shoot across the top of Earth and end up in Siberia by mid-century.

But the pole's movements are difficult to forecast, since its location depends on a terrestrial magnetic field that is produced by extremely complex forces deep inside Earth. Those forces, at their simplest, drive a churning mass of molten iron that rises and falls on convective currents more than 3,000 kilometres below the planet's surface. The movement of that iron conducts and produces the magnetic field, whose poles are located fairly close, although still often thousands of kilometres away from, the geographic poles.

Curiously, the speed with which the pole moves could be related to dramatic events like the massive earthquake that caused last December's devastating tsunami. That quake was big enough to alter the shape of Earth and jar the planet into a slightly different axis of rotation. It also had enough power to jolt the molten iron that powers the magnetic field, and could be partly responsible for magnetic "jerks" that are propelling the magnetic North Pole, Newitt said.

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Close encounters of the fluttering kind: a rise in bird attacks
By Patrik Jonsson Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

RALEIGH, N.C. – US Postal carrier Keith Cooper is used to dogs sneering from behind metal gates. He's used to uncivil people who expect to find something in their mailbox and then don't.

But this week, as he trundled across Boylan Heights in this Southern city, he ran into a new problem: rambunctious birds. "I was ducking this way, then ducking that way, trying to get away," Mr. Cooper says, recalling a few frenzied seconds where beaks flashed like tiny daggers. "I had no idea what was going on." It turned out to be an entire Tippi Hedron day. He wasn't divebombed just once, but three times in three different parts of the city.

Nor is Cooper the only one seemingly in the flight path of B-52 birds these days. For some inexplicable reason, from Houston to Washington, it's been the year of aggressive mockingbirds, crows, hawks, and even woodpeckers.

To a noticeable degree, especially by those getting strafed, it seems like Alfred Hitchcock, the reality series.

Some of the incidents are, admittedly, a bit scary. One Houston lawyer this spring found himself getting pecked in the face. Even worse, police had to close down an entire downtown Houston street in late May after gang of grackles attacked pedestrians, knocking some of them down.

"Birds, they're on the sidewalk, but they're usually not attacking people," says Bea McCann of the Houston Police Department. She notes that the recent attacks were the first she's ever heard of in the city.

In Washington, bloggers last week were busy cataloguing the adventures of an aggressive hawk that was buzzing cars.

In upstate New York, a high-strung woodpecker has destroyed dozens of car mirrors - angered, apparently, by his own image and racking up insurance premiums.

"There's been an increase in the number of times that people report incidents like, 'I had this weird thing happen where a bird attacked me,' " says Alicia Craig, director of the Bird Conservation Alliance in Indianapolis.[...]

Birds in mythology

Birds, of course, are both romanticized and reviled in mythology and popular culture, from their tiny singsong chirps and eager pecking of crumbs in "Mary Poppins" to their flapping hordes in Hitchcock's film.

Mythology is full of them. And humans confront their beauty - or their unsavory parting gifts - in one way or another almost every day.

It's not surprising then, that they've been frequent, even complex, characters in literature and film. Director Mel Gibson, for one, used vultures to disturbing effect as they crowded around Jesus on the Cross in "The Passion of the Christ."

To be sure, the significance of an attacking bird has deep folkloric roots.

Some cultures see birds as souls occupying the liminal space between heaven and earth. Others consider them harbingers - often of doom.

"To Taoists, for example, birds indicate the violent uncontrollable primordial willfulness of the 'barbarians,' " says William Doty, a religion professor at the University of Alabama and the editor of Mythosphere magazine.

To Cooper, the point isn't something philosophical about the barbarians. It's just a matter of delivering the mail free of danger or ... doo-doo.

He vows that neither snow, nor sleet, nor songbird will keep him from his appointed duty. And he's developed his own pragmatic way to deal with any threats from above, through experience.

"My advice if you're attacked is, just take a step back and move slowly away," he says.

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It's raining frogs in Serbia
07/06/2005 15:04 - (SA)

Belgrade - Thousands of tiny frogs rained on a town in northwestern Serbia, Belgrade daily Blic reported on Tuesday.

Strong winds brought storm clouds over Odzaci, 120km north-west of Belgrade, on Sunday afternoon, but instead of rain, down came the tiny amphibians, witnesses said.

"I saw countless frogs fall from the sky," said Odzaci resident Aleksandar Ciric.

The frogs, different from those usually seen in the area, survived the fall and hopped around in search of water.

Belgrade climatologist Slavisa Ignjatovic described the phenomenon as "not very unusual".

"A wind resembling a tornado can suck in anything light enough from the surface or shallow water. Usually it is just dust, but sometimes also larger objects," Ignjatovic told Blic. - Sapa-dpa

Comment: Frogs are not the only thing that the area of the former Yugoslavia is famous for. Back in 1984 something else appeared 'out of thin air', shocking locals and having a profound effect on Christianity the world over...

On June the 24th, 1981 (Feast day of St. John the Baptist) six children in the farming village of Medjugorje, in what was then central Yugoslavia reported seeing a vision of the "Blessed Virgin Mary" atop a hill called Podbrdo. The next day at precisely the same time they reported seeing Her again and this time speaking with Her.

According to the testimony of the six young parishioners, since June 24, 1981 the "Blessed Virgin Mary" has been appearing every day in the parish of Medjugorje. On that day the visionaries were frightened by Our Lady's appearance and ran away. The following day, June 25th, they responded to Our Lady's call and went to the hill of apparitions, where for the first time they prayed and conversed with her. Therefore, that day is celebrated as the anniversary of the Queen of Peace, the way Our Lady introduced herself.

All the visionaries live in the parish of Medjugorje, except Marija Pavlovic who now lives in Italy and comes periodically to Medjugorje.

 

Ivanka Ivankovic (15)

Ivanka Ivankovic - Elez was born in 1966. She had the daily apparitions from June 24, 1981 till May 7, 1985. On that day Our Lady confided to her the last of ten secrets. Our Lady told her that for her entire life she will have an apparition every year on June 25, the anniversary of the apparitions. And so far it has been just that way.

Vicka Ivankovic (16)

Vicka Ivankovic was born in 1964. Our Lady appeared to her for the first time on June 24, 1981. Daily apparitions still continue for her, and Our Lady has confided nine secrets to her.

Marjana Dragicevic (16)

Mirjana Dragicevic - Soldo was born in 1965. She had daily apparitions from June 24, 1981 till December 25, 1982. On the last day of her apparitions Our Lady told her that for the course of her entire life she will have an apparition once every year - on her birthday, March 18. Our Lady has also confided ten secrets to Mirjana.

Ivan Dragicevic (16)

Ivan Dragicevic was born in 1965. Our Lady has appeared to him every day from June 24, 1981 until today. Also to him Our Lady has confided nine secrets.

Maria Pavlovic (16)

Marija Pavlovic - Lunetti was born in 1965. Our Lady appeared to her for the first time on June 25, 1981. She also now has daily apparitions. Every 25th day of the month, Our Lady through her, directs her message to the parish and to the world. So far Our Lady has confided nine secrets to her.

Jakov Colo

Jakov Colo was born in 1971. He has daily apparitions since June 25, 1981 until today. Our Lady appered to Jakov for the last time on September 12, 1998 and confided the tenth secret to him. She also told him that she would appear to him each year on the feast of the birth of her Son.

But before we all rush to convert to Christianity in an effort to save our souls, we should pause to consider the wonders of our technological age. While it may not be able to provide an explanation for falling frogs, NASA and the US Defence department have, for many years, been conducting research into ways to conjure up very realistic apparitions - now what would they want to do that for?...

Making Three-Dimensional Holograms Visible From All Sides

Three-dimensional virtual reality displays could be viewed without visual aids.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

A technique for projecting holographic images to make both still and moving three-dimensional displays is undergoing development. Unlike older techniques based on stereoscopy to give the appearance of three-dimensionality, the developmental technique would not involve the use of polarizing goggles, goggles equipped with miniature video cameras, or other visual aids. Unlike in holographic display as practiced until now, visibility of the image would not be restricted to a narrow range of directions about a specified line of sight to a holographic projection plate. Instead, the image would be visible from any side or from the top; that is, from any position with a clear line of sight to the projection apparatus. In other words, the display could be viewed as though it were an ordinary three-dimensional object. The technique has obvious potential value for the entertainment industry, and for military uses like displaying battlefield scenes overlaid on three-dimensional terrain maps.

An essential element of the technique is the use of block of silica aerogel as the display medium. Silica aerogel is an open-cell glass foam with a chemical composition similar to that of quartz and a density as low as about one-tenth that of quartz. The sizes of cell features are of the order of 100 Å. Silica aerogel is a suitable display medium because it is nearly completely transparent, with just enough scattering and reflection to enable the generation of a real image.

The figure illustrates a conceptual application in which a three-dimensional topographical map would be displayed by fusing images projected into a block of silica aerogel from four separate holograms. One could use static holograms to project still images, either alone or in combination with computer-generated holograms to project moving or still images. A computer-generated hologram would be downloaded into a large liquid-crystal, which would be illuminated by a laser projection apparatus to display the holographic image in the aerogel block. For example, the terrain image could be projected from static holograms, while a computer-generated hologram would be used to depict a vehicle moving on the terrain.

This work was done by Frederick Mintz, Tien-Hsin Chao, Peter Tsou, and Nevin Bryant of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.nasatech.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category.

When Seeing and Hearing Isn't Believing

By William M. Arkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, Feb. 1, 1999

"Gentlemen! We have called you together to inform you that we are going to overthrow the United States government." So begins a statement being delivered by Gen. Carl W. Steiner, former Commander-in-chief, U.S. Special Operations Command.

At least the voice sounds amazingly like him.

But it is not Steiner. It is the result of voice "morphing" technology developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

By taking just a 10-minute digital recording of Steiner's voice, scientist George Papcun is able, in near real time, to clone speech patterns and develop an accurate facsimile. Steiner was so impressed, he asked for a copy of the tape.

Steiner was hardly the first or last victim to be spoofed by Papcun's team members. To refine their method, they took various high quality recordings of generals and experimented with creating fake statements. One of the most memorable is Colin Powell stating "I am being treated well by my captors."

"They chose to have him say something he would never otherwise have said," chuckled one of Papcun's colleagues.

A Box of Chocolates is Like War

Most Americans were introduced to the tricks of the digital age in the movie Forrest Gump, when the character played by Tom Hanks appeared to shake hands with President Kennedy.

For Hollywood, it is special effects. For covert operators in the U.S. military and intelligence agencies, it is a weapon of the future.

"Once you can take any kind of information and reduce it into ones and zeros, you can do some pretty interesting things," says Daniel T. Kuehl, chairman of the Information Operations department of the National Defense University in Washington, the military's school for information warfare.

PSYOPS seeks to exploit human vulnerabilities in enemy governments, militaries and populations. Digital morphing — voice, video, and photo — has come of age, available for use in psychological operations. PSYOPS, as the military calls it, seek to exploit human vulnerabilities in enemy governments, militaries and populations to pursue national and battlefield objectives.

To some, PSYOPS is a backwater military discipline of leaflet dropping and radio propaganda. To a growing group of information war technologists, it is the nexus of fantasy and reality. Being able to manufacture convincing audio or video, they say, might be the difference in a successful military operation or coup.

Allah on the Holodeck

Pentagon planners started to discuss digital morphing after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Covert operators kicked around the idea of creating a computer-faked videotape of Saddam Hussein crying or showing other such manly weaknesses, or in some sexually compromising situation. The nascent plan was for the tapes to be flooded into Iraq and the Arab world.

The tape war never proceeded, killed, participants say, by bureaucratic fights over jurisdiction, skepticism over the technology, and concerns raised by Arab coalition partners.

What if the U.S. projected a holographic image of Allah floating over Baghdad? But the "strategic" PSYOPS scheming didn't die. What if the U.S. projected a holographic image of Allah floating over Baghdad urging the Iraqi people and Army to rise up against Saddam, a senior Air Force officer asked in 1990?

According to a military physicist given the task of looking into the hologram idea, the feasibility had been established of projecting large, three-dimensional objects that appeared to float in the air.

But doing so over the skies of Iraq? To project such a hologram over Baghdad on the order of several hundred feet, they calculated, would take a mirror more than a mile square in space, as well as huge projectors and power sources.

And besides, investigators came back, what does Allah look like?

The Gulf War hologram story might be dismissed were it not the case that washingtonpost.com has learned that a super secret program was established in 1994 to pursue the very technology for PSYOPS application. The "Holographic Projector" is described in a classified Air Force document as a system to "project information power from space ... for special operations deception missions."

War is Like a Box of Chocolates

Voice-morphing? Fake video? Holographic projection? They sound more like Mission Impossible and Star Trek gimmicks than weapons. Yet for each, there are corresponding and growing research efforts as the technologies improve and offensive information warfare expands.

Whereas early voice morphing required cutting and pasting speech to put letters or words together to make a composite, Papcun's software developed at Los Alamos can far more accurately replicate the way one actually speaks. Eliminated are the robotic intonations.

The irony is that after Papcun finished his speech cloning research, there were no takers in the military. Luckily for him, Hollywood is interested: The promise of creating a virtual Clark Gable is mightier than the sword.

Video and photo manipulation has already raised profound questions of authenticity for the journalistic world. With audio joining the mix, it is not only journalists but also privacy advocates and the conspiracy-minded who will no doubt ponder the worrisome mischief that lurks in the not too distant future.

"We already know that seeing isn't necessarily believing," says Dan Kuehl, "now I guess hearing isn't either."

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