Monday, June 13, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Copyright 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Signs Economic Commentary
Donald Hunt
June 13, 2005

The euro closed last week at 1.2106 dollars, down 1.1% from 1.2236 the prior week. That would put the dollar at 0.8261 euros compared to 0.8173 the previous Friday. In the U.S. stock market the Dow closed at 10,512.63, up 0.5% from the previous week's close of 10,460.97. The NASDAQ closed at 2,063.00 on Friday, down 0.4% from 2,071.43 the week before. The yield on the ten-year U.S. Tresury Bond closed at 4.04% up from 3.98% the previous Friday. Oil closed at $53.23 a barrel, down 4.1% from last week's $55.40. In terms of the euro, oil would be 43.97 euros a barrel down 3.0% from 45.28 on the previous Friday. Gold closed at $426.40 an ounce, up 0.07% from the previous Friday's close of $426.10. On Friday and ounce of gold would buy 8.01 barrels of oil compared to 7.69 (up 4.2%) a week earlier.

The past few weeks have seen two remarkable rebellions against globalization and the neoliberal project. That of the EU and that of Bolivia. If anyone is looking for a definition of neoliberalism, this one's good:

Building on simulations of traditional precepts of liberal democracy, neoliberalism has forged a new synthesis or hybrid that effectively rationalizes, celebrates, and promotes the globalization process and the increasing globality of industrial production, commercial trade, financial integration, and information flow. It has brought to the fore a new global class of economic and political entrepreneurs who operate not only transnationally but also at the national, regional, metropolitan, and local scales to foster those conditions that facilitate the freedoms of global capitalism: increasing privatization of the public sphere, deregulation in every economic sector, the breakdown of all barriers to trade and the free flow of capital, attacks on the welfare state and labor unions, and other … And it is carried forward in a series of familiar spin-doctoring slogans having to do with the magic of the market, the ineffectiveness of Big Government, the triumph of capitalism, the emergence of a borderless world, and a whole slew of "end-ofs" - of history and geography, of socialism and the welfare state, of ideology itself. (from Edward W. Soja, Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publising, 2000, p. 216)

In Bolivia, the government was brought down by massive protests calling for the nationalization of that impoverished country's natural gas reserves. According to Tom Lewis

Ordinary working Bolivians are fighting to get rid of the stranglehold that transnational corporations have on Bolivia's economy. They are also fighting to strip power away from a political elite who they view as in bed with the transnationals--as vendepatrias (corrupt officials willing to sell off Bolivia's patrimony on the cheap).

Ever since the popular victory achieved during Cochabamba's Water War in April 2000--when mass struggle defeated a plan to privatize the city's water system--the struggle of the Bolivian people has focused mainly on reclaiming workers' and citizens' control of Bolivia's natural resources. The experience of throwing U.S.-based Bechtel out of Cochabamba--and of then turning the city's water service over to the elected representatives of a citizens' and workers' self-management team--inspired the confidence and determination of Bolivia's disenfranchised majority.

Here's Bill Van Auken:

There is hardly any need for an outside spark to ignite the social powder keg existing in Bolivia, South America's most impoverished country. According to Bolivia's National Institute of Statistics, 64 percent of the urban population lives in poverty, while in the countryside conditions are even worse, with 80 percent in poverty. More than one-third of the country lives on less than two dollars a day, while the infant mortality rate - 95 for every 1,000 births - is worse than much of Africa.

The conception that the country's wealth should be utilized to benefit its people rather than fatten the profits of foreign oil conglomerates has gripped the masses. This is not - to use the words of George W. Bush at his speech at the OAS this week - the product of a "false ideology," but rather a conclusion drawn from intensely bitter experience with free-market policies and wholesale privatization.

The conception that the struggles that have shaken Bolivia in recent weeks are the product of "outside agitation" by Chávez is an echo of the longstanding US view that every movement against social oppression and every challenge to the interests of US-based multinationals represents a "communist conspiracy." This police-state ideology guided a US policy of support for military dictatorships and savage repression in Latin America for over 50 years. Noriega's comment is a warning that the Bush administration is prepared to resort to these methods once again.

In Europe, the populist revolt against the reforming (neoliberal) Brussels bureaucrats was both a blow for democracy and a blow against the neoliberal project. In the words of a neoliberal sympathizer, Marshall Auerback:

Jean Luc Dehaene, a former Belgian PM, exhibited comparable contempt for popular opinion: In a BBC interview last Monday, Mr Dehaene made the extraordinary remark that the results in France were meaningless because the electorate was not voting against the constitution, but against the French government. Common sense suggests that on the contrary, they were voting precisely against the constitution, a project of politicians such as Dehaene who are determined to pursue an unpopular agenda with or without popular consent. This notion also appears to be confirmed by the British newsmagazine, The Economist, which noted that five of the top 10 best-selling non-fiction books in France were about the Constitution. Millions of people watched television shows discussing it. A huge percentage of respondents in public opinion polls were familiar with its content. There was huge voter turnout (70 per cent) and people had a very good idea of what the issues were.

This obliviousness to public opinion has been the flaw at the heart of the whole "European Project" right from the start. It is scarcely remembered now that France only barely ratified the introduction of the euro in a vote so tight that its adoption by a few tenths of a percentage point gives lie to the word, "democracy" that lifts so carelessly off the lips of the most undemocratic of politicians.

The dirty little secret of European Monetary Union is that there has never been a proper debate on the pros and cons of the single currency union within the member states. Like so much else in regard to the EU, it was imposed from above. Yet this is a debate that must occur because the European Monetary Union and its attendant institutions, such as the European Central Bank, ultimately cannot succeed in the absence of open, public discussion and acceptance, in lieu of bureaucratic imposition.

It is said that politicians in particular and the democratic process in general cannot be trusted with economic policy formulation because they lead to decisions that have stimulating short-term effects (for example, reducing unemployment via higher government spending) but are detrimental in the longer term (a notable example is a rise in inflation). But comprehensive rejection of the constitution has proved to be an outlet for discontent extending well beyond this particular issue; French and Dutch voters have now shown us the limits of pure technocratic economic management in an environment divorced from political reality.

On the other hand, to debate the appropriateness of a single currency union at this juncture may engender unintended results. It is extraordinary to consider, for example, that the German people never had the opportunity to express their views in a referendum as to whether they ought to abandon one of the most successful post-war monetary regimes in favour of an untried and untested currency. Even if one makes allowances for Germany's traditional post-war phobia of being perceived as "bad Europeans", it is almost certain that most would have voted to retain the D-mark, had they been given the opportunity to express themselves in a proper democratic forum.

Already, there are stirrings of euro discontent emerging at the margins in Germany as well as Italy. The referendum results in France and the Netherlands appear to have lit a match on a tinder box of huge continent-wide disenchantment. Consider what is happening to the now discredited EU constitution in the wake of the French and Dutch referendum results: Four separate polls in Denmark and a survey in the Czech Republic indicated the two countries could both vote No in referendums on the constitution. Bild, a leading German tabloid, showed overwhelming hostility in Germany to the constitution. Of the 390,694 readers who responded, 96.9% said they would vote no if a referendum were held there.

In the United States, the elite, led by U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, are trying to present an optimistic view of the United States and the world economy. They are able to do this thanks in part to the recent rise in the value of the dollar compared to the euro. There are a couple of questions to ask, however. First, is the dollar rising or is the euro falling? Second, if the dollar is rising, is the rise the beginning of a new trend or just an interruption of an existing one?

Taking the second question first, here is Stephen Roach, lead analyst of Morgan Stanley:

The interest rate conundrum is challenging enough. But now the dollar is springing back to life in the face of America's record current account deficit. In my view, this defies both the history and the analytics of the classic current account adjustment. Is this just another example of a world turned inside out, or is it a head-fake likely to be reversed?

Despite rebounding nearly 3% from its low this January, the broad dollar index is still down about 13% from peak levels hit in early 2002. The dollar's descent is a logical outgrowth of America's massive current account deficit. The only problem is that it hasn't fallen nearly enough to make a dent in the US external imbalance. A comparison with trends in the late 1980s underscores this conclusion: During that earlier period, America's current account deficit peaked out at 3.4% of GDP and the broad dollar index fell nearly 30% over the three-year period, 1985-88. With our estimates placing the US current account deficit at about 6.5% in 1Q05, it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to see the external shortfall rise into the 7-7.5% range over the next year. In other words, today's current account problem is easily twice as bad as it was back in the 1980s but the US currency has fallen by less than half as much as it did back then. On that simple basis, alone, the dollar has plenty more to go on the downside.

I have long maintained that the dollar can't do the job alone in correcting America's current account imbalance. Two reasons come to mind -- the first being that the impact of currency fluctuations on real trade flows and inflation seems to have diminished over the past decade. Trends over the past three years underscore this observation: The US trade deficit has continued to widen fully three years into what had been a 15% dollar depreciation, whereas inflation has remained generally subdued over this same period. By this time in the dollar's downtrend of the late 1980s, both trade and inflationary impacts were evident. I suspect that the diminished impact of currency swings in the current climate stems importantly from the increasingly powerful forces of globalization, as low-cost offshore price setters (i.e., China) constrain domestic pricing leverage -- even in the face of currency swings and concomitant fluctuations in import prices. That suggests, of course, the impacts of currency fluctuations could show up more in corporate profit margins than in generalized inflation.

But the second and far more important reason that the dollar can't solve America's trade and current account problem is that it doesn't get directly at the most critical ingredient of the imbalance -- excess imports, which are, in turn, an outgrowth of excess US domestic demand. One number says it all:

In March 2005, US imports were fully 54% larger than exports. In my view, there is no conceivable dollar adjustment -- or should I say no politically acceptable dollar adjustment -- that would eliminate America's excess import problem. The only effective way to temper an import overhang of this magnitude lies in a real interest rate adjustment that would squeeze excess consumption -- and its import content -- out of the system. At a minimum, this would entail a normalization of real US interest rates -- both short and long. Specifically, I believe that would require the term structure of real rates to move upward by about two percentage points from present rock-bottom levels. Not only would that hit the interest-sensitive components of domestic demand -- consumer durables, capital spending, and residential construction -- but it would also cool off frothy asset markets and the wealth-dependent consumption (and imports) such market excesses are fostering.

In this context, America's current account adjust requires a combination of currency and real interest rate adjustments -- both a weaker dollar and a normalization of real interest rates. This underscores an important tradeoff: To the extent that one of the ingredients in this external adjustment equation doesn't deliver its fair share, the burden of rebalancing should then be transferred to the other part of the equation. Therein lies the case for a significant further weakening in the US dollar. In my recently revised view of US interest rate prospects, America's long overdue normalization of real rates is likely to be aborted (see my 30 May dispatch, "Rethinking Bonds"). In the face of the coming China-led slowdown in global growth and its collateral impacts on reduced inflationary expectations, a decidedly pro-growth and market-friendly Fed is unlikely to have much of an appetite for additional monetary tightening. Moreover, the combined impacts of a global growth shortfall and further declines in commodity prices point to a likely compression in the inflationary premium embedded at the long end of the yield curve. As I now see it, given the urgency of a US current account adjustment, further dollar depreciation is a logical outgrowth of such a benign climate in the bond market.

Of course, precisely the opposite is now happening. After an orderly three-year descent of about 5% per year, the broad dollar index has been edging higher over the past four months. This momentum has accelerated in the days immediately after the French and Dutch rejection of the EU constitution. Market participants have taken this political verdict as negative feedback on the future of European integration and the reforms and efficiency enhancement such convergence was long thought to deliver… However, given my concerns over the US current account deficit and my reassessment of the US interest rate prognosis, I do not agree with Stephen that the dollar's structural decline is over. By my count, this is the fourth trading rally in the dollar's recent 39-month downtrend. Like the first three, I believe this one will also fade as the power of the US current account adjustment regains its prominence as the dominant macro theme shaping foreign exchange markets. In the absence of an upward adjustment to US real interest rates, I believe this possibility is even more compelling than might have otherwise been the case.

The next downleg of the dollar should be very different from the first one. The euro has borne the brunt of the dollar's decline over the three years ending January 2005. Most Asian currencies -- especially the yen and renminbi -- were completely unscathed. If the dollar resumes its downward descent, as I suspect, that will have to change. Not only do I look for a politically driven change in Chinese currency policy that would allow for an RMB revaluation, but I also suspect that the yen-dollar cross-rate could move into the mid-90s. The Japanese currency has been virtually unchanged on a broad trade-weighted basis over the entire span of the dollar's adjustment. If the Japanese recovery is finally for real, as official Japan seems to be signaling, then yen appreciation should be a natural outgrowth of that healing. If the Chinese and Japanese currencies strengthen, most other Asian currencies should follow suit -- with the possible exception of the Korean won, which has already moved a lot. I've said it from the start: Global rebalancing is a shared responsibility. It is high time that Asia participate in the adjustment process.

…Of course, currency markets are also highly sensitive to swings in investor sentiment. And with the benefit of hindsight, we should have known that the dollar was about to surprise on the upside. …Nevertheless, I think this counter-trend rally will be short-lived. The imperatives of global rebalancing -- underscored by America's massive current account deficit in conjunction with an aborted adjustment in US real interest rates -- points to nothing less. If I'm wrong and the dollar continues to defy gravity in a low interest rate climate, you can forget about global rebalancing. In that case, global imbalances will continue to mount and asset markets could become all the frothier. Sadly, the endgame would then be ever more treacherous.

Addressing the first question (Is what we are seeing a strengthening of the dollar or just a weakening of the euro?), there does seem to be a piling on of attacks against the whole concept of the euro after a couple of years of euro-enthusiasm (which I confess I have shared). Now people are looking at the EU and the Euro on their own terms, not in comparison to the United States, and, in the aftermath of the defeat of the proposed EU constitution in France and the Netherlands, many of the assumptions behind the EU and the euro have proved questionable.

The roots of euro-enthusiasm lay both in the hope of the gains to be had in harnessing and coordinating the advanced economies of western Europe with the cheaper labor and more flexible work arrangements in eastern Europe and in the hope for a political (counterweight to the American Empire as well as in plain old pessimism about the prospects for the dollar given the suicidal policies of the Bush administration). The problem is that for the fulfillment of the economic promise of the EU depended on the member countries adopting the neoliberal agenda: cuts in social benefits, increases in work hours, offshoring of jobs to the periphery, etc., all of which would understandably not be supported by the public in the advanced economies of Europe. On the other hand, the fulfillment of the political promise of the EU depended on it following its own path, distinct from the neoliberalism of the United States.

Marshall Auerback concludes that the rise of the dollar recently can be attributed to the fall of the euro bull-market sentiment. More importantly, though, he concludes that all paper currencies are vulnerable. So far, the price of gold has risen ony in terms of the dollar, not so much in terms of euros. According to Auerback, this could change:

In the past we have described the problems of the US economy ad nauseum. We have also highlighted the problems of the yen and the structural problems inherent in the existing European Monetary Union. Although the euro zone as a whole suffers less from the debt disease prevalent in both the US and Japan, it has largely "earned" its spurs on the foreign exchange markets as a consequence of being the least bad major paper currency alternative. Its acceptance has, until recently, continued unabated, largely by virtue of not being the dollar, as opposed to any intrinsic merits.

Generally speaking, most currency choices faced by market practitioners today are comparable to Keynes's notion of market speculation: to paraphrase Keynes, one is not seeking to adjudge the most beautiful currency in absolute terms, but merely seeking to guess what the market's will judge to have the best relative merits . In other words, paper currencies are only "relatively" attractive vis a vis each other and not genuinely attractive as ultimate stores of value. The current problems of the euro (as well as the longstanding problems of the dollar) illustrate that phenomenon.

This points the way toward a potential major paradigm shift in relation to gold, long viewed simply as another variant of the "anti-dollar" theme. Symptomatic of this shift in thinking is the Financial Times, a publication which has usually been viscerally hostile to gold as a legitimate reserve currency asset. In an editorial last April, however, the FT came to a fairly stunning conclusion:

"In truth, there are good reasons for selling all three of the world's main currencies. But could they all fall? Yes, against either gold or the Chinese renminbi. In recent years, gold has been a useful hedge against the dollar, but not against the euro or yen. Meanwhile, the U.S., Japan, and the EU would all like to see the renminbi revalue, but so far, the Chinese are not playing."

The current travails of the euro may change the perception of gold as a barbarous relic from a bygone era For the FT, which has been known as a very anti-gold publication, to come to this conclusion means that many people who have long viewed bullion as economically irrelevant are likely reassessing their viewpoint. This could well point the way forward for gold, notwithstanding the many travails its holders have experienced over the past two decades. Often, seismic shifts in thinking unfold in slow-motion, and are often masked by other "noisier" events, such as the French and Dutch referendums. The "noisier events", however, could well be catalysing a far more profound change in financial thinking. The rejection of the EU's constitution in France and the Netherlands, therefore, may well have initiated something well beyond the control of today's paper currency custodians, much to their ultimate horror no doubt.

As for our watch on the timing of the popping of the real estate bubble in the United States, there was a disturbing article published last week on MSNBC, disturbing because it is so reminiscent of articles published in the late 1990s during the peak of the dot com bubble. Only this time the article is about someone making lots of money trading real estate in Florida at home rather than a stock day-trader making lots of money trading tech stocks at home:

Buying into 'virtual realty'

Investors go online to buy into hot housing markets

By Scott Cohn
CNBC June 9, 2005

Location is the most important thing in real estate, they say, but if you're looking to invest in real estate, but don't want to travel to any of the hot markets, the Internet has created a "virtual realty" just in time for the housing boom.

Take Mike Bozzo, for example. He owns a successful welding business in Dayton, Ohio. But every day, when he gets to his office, the first place he goes to is Florida.

"I like to spend about an hour looking at different properties," Bozzo says, adding that he visits a number of different real estate sites every day. "This is something I'm looking to do for the future of my family."

Bozzo says his Florida Web surfing is pay off. Over the last four years, he has made well into six figures by buying and selling Florida real estate online, and almost all of it has been sight unseen.

Indeed, a condominium Bozzo bought four years ago for about $220,000 is now selling for two and a half time that amount. One he bought earlier this year for $279,000 is on the market today for $379,000.

Mike Bozzo isn't alone. With the housing market booming, 22 million people are visiting real estate Web sites every month. But before you jump on the Internet and start buying, beware - this is still a risky business, and it's made even riskier by doing it on the Internet.

Bozzo confines his surfing to Naples, Fla. Not just because housing has appreciated 93 percent there in the last five years, but also because he's been going there since he was a teenager and he knows the area.

"I'm a very detail-oriented person, and that's the way I approach it," said Bozzo. "I think that's important - that you understand the area that you're getting involved with."

And Bozzo doesn't only use the Internet to find properties through the Web sites of several local realtors. He also uses it to research tax assessments and recent sales - information that's readily available online. And he always gets a properties inspected, and has a realtor he trusts in Naples who'll check out the property in person if necessary.

Real estate expert John Reed says that's important.

"The due diligence still has to be done," said Reed of Real Estate Investor's Monthly. "And if you're going to trust somebody else to do it, you better know that person really, really well."

Bozzo hopes to retire on his real estate profits, which may be another benefit to investing this way…

Articles like these are a sure sign of an impending bursting of the real estate bubble.

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William Kingdon Clifford

In 1876, William Kingdon Clifford wrote two essays entitled "Ethics of Belief" and "Ethics of Religion", both of which were fiercely critical of religious thought and practice. The first of these two essays caused repercussions because it contained Clifford's famous conclusion:

"It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything on insufficient evidence."

Clifford placed, without compromise, the responsibility for what we believe on each and every one of us. In his essay, Clifford introduces the topic of "The Duty of Inquiry" with a parable:

A shipowner was about to send to sea an emigrant-ship. He knew that she was old, and not over-well built at first; and that she had seem many seas and climes, and often needed repairs. Doubts had been suggested to him that possibly she was not seaworthy. These doubts preyed upon his mind, and made him unhappy; he thought that perhaps he ought to have her thoroughly overhauled and refitted, even though this would put him to great expense. Before the ship sailed, however, he succeeded in overcoming these melancholy reflections. He said to himself that she had gone safely through so many voyages and had weathered so many storms that it was idle to suppose that she would not come home safely from this trip also. He would put his trust in Providence, which could hardly fail to protect all these unhappy families that were leaving their fatherland to seek for better times elsewhere. He would dismiss from his mind all ungenerous suspicions about the honesty of builders and contractors. In such ways he acquired a sincere and comfortable conviction that his vessel was thoroughly safe and seaworthy; he watched her departure with a light heart, and benevolent wished for the success of the exiles in their strange new home that was to be; and he got his insurance money when she went down in mid-ocean and told no tales. What shall we say of him? Surely this, that he was verily guilty of the death of those men. It is admitted that he did sincerely believe in the soundness of his ship; but the sincerity of his conviction can in no way help him, because ha had no right to believe on such evidence that was before him.

Clifford goes on to state that we do wrong to ourselves and to Man by allowing ourselves to be credulous when there is the possibility for us to question further and seek truth.

Bertrand Russell read Clifford's published papers: Common Sense of the Exact Sciences when he was just fifteen. He later wrote that:

Clifford was much more than a mathematician: he was a philosopher of considerable merit in what concerned the foundations of mathematical knowledge ... he saw all knowledge, even the most abstract, as part of the general life of mankind, and as concerned in the endeavour to make human existence less petty, less superstitious, and less miserable.

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Inspired Thought Of The Week

Since General Motors is planning to lay off 25,000 workers in the US, they should all be given jobs at Gitmo where, according to Rumsfeld, they would never have to worry about layoffs again.

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How Philosophy Overcomes Propaganda
Norman D. Livergood

"See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
George W. Bush

In this essay, we'll explore how the embodiment of the Perennial Tradition 1 called philosophy overcomes indoctrination, brainwashing, and conditioning. Every advanced teacher within the Perennial Tradition has provided insight into how false communication--propaganda, lies, deception, and mind-control-- can be defeated.

Of all the varied embodiments of the Perennial Tradition--the Hermetic Writings, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Jewish Wisdom Tradition, the Pythagorean System, Esoteric Christianity, Neo-Platonism, Sufism, European Gothic Cathedrals, the Cambridge Platonists, the 18th Century Enlightenment-- Plato's writings constitute the most potent, comprehensive, and detailed exposition of the Perennial Tradition still extant. It is through study of Plato's works that we will explore the domain of communication. [...]

Plato's writings help us to understand that the chasm between us and arcane reality is not entirely bridgeable by ordinary sensation. Naive realism assumes that we see, hear, feel, touch, or taste this reality and thereby know its true and complete essence. This view fails to take into cognizance the many "filters" between us and the enigmatic reality.

Part of what each of Plato's dialogues reveals is how widespread ignorance of reality actually is, how extensive and common the delusion is that we understand reality because we sense something we call "the external world" and act on it in ways which seem to prove our complete grasp of its essence. We fail to recognize the myriad distorting elements between us and reality, assuming that our naive grasp of the external world brings complete comprehension.

Plato's dialogues only make sense to persons who have committed themselves to the search for wisdom (philosophy), because they've recognized that there are vast continents of ignorance within their psyche which they need to illuminate. Only if they have an intense desire to understand the veiled aspects of reality will Plato's philosophy have any appeal for them. [...]

"This morning my good friend and confidant . . . alerted me to your document on Plato's philosophical struggle against tyranny. Like everyone else I am suffering from the insanity of the present system and the way you presented the theme of the struggle for truth helps me better understand the overall situation and my little place in the food chain."

"Thank you for your excellent article----it now explains the reason why Plato's Republic is quiety being pulled from library shelves. God forbid, we the masses, should be taught virture and goodness. That is not in keeping with the takeover of our Republic and the moral decay which is happening, every day, from this evil cabal, in the form of 'entertainment.'" [...]

At a time when millions of Americans fail to see the evil of the criminal cabal and its Bush II puppet junta, rediscovery of the insights of the Platonic philosophy--enabling us to overcome propaganda and brainwashing--is of crucial importance: our personal and social lives depend on it.

In an era of mass propaganda, deception, and murder--of American soldiers and Afghans and Iraqis--what might appear mere "philosophical" issues, such as truth and dialectic, can now be seen to be critical powers of discernment we must develop if we're to survive. [...]

We begin the dialectical process by relating these issues to present difficulties. We can legitimately call George W. Bush's statement in his State of the Union speech a LIE when he said: "There are weapons of mass destru ction in Iraq." There were no weapons of mass destruction--as determined by American weapons inspectors themselves. So Bush lied.

The issues can become clouded only if we allow the Bush junta propagandists to operate without challenge. We must set the terms of discourse, not allowing the Bush indoctrinators to define the issues or the concepts. The terms we're investigating possess commonly acknowledged meanings:

1. To lie: 5

* to express an innacurate or false statement

* to convey an untruth

* to make an untrue statement which may or may not be believed by the speaker

2. A lie:

* an untrue or innacurate statment that may or may not be believed true by the speaker

* something that misleads or deceives

* something intended or serving to convey a falsehood

3. Truth: 6

* conformity to fact or actuality

* reality, actuality

* that which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence

Karl Rove and his legion of falsifiers and deceivers (throughout the mainstream media outlets, all owned by right-wing extremists) make such statements as these:

* "A statement is not a lie if it was caused by incomplete or false

* "I don't believe Bush lied."

* "Bush mispoke--but he didn't lie."

* "Bush didn't intend to deceive, so what he said wasn't a lie."

The purpose of all these Bush junta obfuscations is to redefine a lie as the truth. The statement Bush II made in his State of the Union address was untrue: there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Bush lied. It doesn't matter if there were--or weren't--innacurate or false intelligence reports about the WMDs; Bush's statement was still a lie.

It is of no significance what Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity feel about whether or not Bush lied; their feelings don't change the fact that Bush lied. Lying doesn't necessarily involved the intent to deceive; if a statement served to convey a falsehood it is a lie. We can't know what Dubya's intentions were, since those are subjective (and he doesn't have the moral fibre to admit them), but from his track record the most compelling hypothesis would be that he knew he was lying and intended to deceive the American people into an unnecessary, murderous war.

Any person interested in being honest has the responsibility of determining if what he says is true. If you don't know whether something is true or false, then you indicate that you don't know and make it clear that you're merely putting forward a likely hypothesis (as in the paragraph above). That is not what Dubya did. He deliberately and expressly made a statement which was false. [...]

In the twenty-first century, we must make certain to set the field of inquiry and controvert the criminal cabal's deliberate prevarications and dissimulations:

* Bush is a great leader

* Bush started the Iraq war to bring democracy to the Iraqi people

* Americans must sacrifice their freedom for security

* The criminal cabal had no complicity in 9/11

* Spending over $1 trillion on the Iraq war is good for America

* Social Security is in genuine difficulty and Bush has only good intentions in trying to solve the problems

* Bush did not lie about weapons of mass destruction

The present enemies of truth and justice believe they can call a lie a truth; an aggressive, senseless, unnecessary war a struggle against terrorism; an illiterate moron a great leader; and the destruction of America through fascism, deficit spending and militarism, sound policies. They believe they can call anything whatever they want to and the American people will accept it. [...]

When trying to dialogue with persons in the present era, we must limit our efforts to persons committed to honesty and truth, asking the same question Socrates did in the Cratylus:

"Is there anything which you call speaking the truth and speaking falsehood--is there true speech and false speech?"

Dialogue is only possible with those persons who genuinely believe there is objective Truth--beyond personal belief, feeling, or desire. [...]

At present, it would be impossible to dialogue with Bush junta members or any of their fellow-travelers (media propagandists and brain-dead, reactionary citizens), since they simply have no commitment to truth whatsoever. They will tell any lie and commit any atrocity which leads to their goals: power and wealth. Even if one were the host of a radio or TV interview program, trying to dialogue with a person such as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfield, Condoleeza Rice, or Karl Rove would be a total waste of time. Their entire output would be nothing but sophistry and propaganda: lies, obfuscations, and posturings.

A person like Hermogenes can believe that truth can be expressed in words without knowing how to express truth in words. But if a person doesn't believe there is a reality named "truth," then there is no purpose in engaging in dialectic--searching for truth--when they don't believe there is truth.

Some people say they believe there is truth, when what they really believe is that each person's beliefs express an individual, subjective truth. This is the denial of the reality of Truth, which is invariable, not subjective, possessing a fixed reality of its own, as Socrates explains.

"It is clear that things have some fixed reality of their own, not in relation to us nor caused by us; they do not vary, swaying one way and another in accordance with our fancy, but exist of themselves in relation to their own reality imposed by nature." [386e] [...]

Entities and actions have a fixed nature and are not subjective in the sense of having a reality relative to a person's beliefs. A name is, Socrates explains, an instrument for separating one kind of reality from another, a horse from a human, for example. Each name refers to a fixed reality. Even if we change a name referring to a specific reality, the reality is the same.

If a propagandist such as Dubya, with the clear intention of deceiving, gives the false name of democracy to the forms of government in America and Iraq, he's still referring to the same, objective realities: American plutocracy (the rule of the wealthy) and Iraqi puppet government. False and deceptive names are used by indoctrinators to try to fool heedless people into believing they're referring to a reality (true democracy: a government for the people) when they're not. [...]

The search for truth is a serious matter, and Socrates is engaged in an earnest investigation into questions of critical importance--then and now. It's possible for a society to become so relativistic and intellectually bewildered that people lose the ability to comprehend reality. War is seen as peace. Tyranny is seen as sound government. An illiterate, degenerate President is seen as a great leader. Ignorance becomes suicidal. Intentional unawareness becomes lethal. [...]

Part of what Socrates is investigating is the phenomenon of our possessing a knowledge of reality in our very being. Entities have a definite, unique composition; one thing is not another thing. We know, primordially, when we are in our right mind, whether a name correctly or incorrectly refers to a particular reality. Mind control, propaganda, and social conditioning can so corrupt the human mind that it does not function correctly; then lies are taken for truth, our destroyers are taken for beneficent leaders. But even when programmed by an oppressive regime, humans retain some connection to their primordial awareness of reality.

The American mind is very far gone: people suffer from generalized possession 9 and hysteria 10-- the loss of the ability to use our senses and our minds. But there is still a preexistent, ineradicable power of understanding in even the most subverted personality that can be awakened.

There has to be this primordial ability to understand reality because we recognize when a name correctly or incorrectly refers to a particular entity. If we required a name in order to recognize a reality, then we would never have been able to know realities and know when names are correct. [...]

As we examine instances of government, for example--America, Britain, fifth century BCE Athens, the 1776 Constitution of Pennsylvania--we find that none of them contains the total reality which we primordially know to be Good Government.

Intuitively, we recognize that Good Government does not involve a leader lying to the people, a regime supporting only the rich and impoverishing the poor. With each investigation of a particular government, we find a specific aspect of the reality--Good Government--we apprehend in our inner being. Thus there must a complete totality, a wholeness--Good Government--to which the particulars point and which they embody partially. There must be Forms of which Plato spoke. Unless there were Forms, we could not name, since naming presupposes the existence of unchanging natures by reference to which names are meaningful and correct.

We recognize that the form, Good Government, is embodied partially in each of these particular instances of government. What we experience are partial and ever-changing embodiments of Good Government only. But this very actuality implies a changeless, eduring reality embodied in all the instances and containing the perfection of the Idea or Form. [...]

When we use the words "Good Government" in speaking to people, they intuitively know what those words mean. That implies, as we've seen, that they have a primordial knowledge of the reality of Good Government. If humans didn't possess a preexistent awareness of realities--including Forms-- then we could not communicate, since human communication presupposes meaning. [...]

With Socrates' enlightened use of dialectic the dangers of everyday discourse are countered. In common verbal interchange a word such as "Democracy" can cease to serve its natural function of pointing to a reality we all know. The word "Democracy" is uttered by Bush continually, but is no longer used to make manifest a specific nature. It is simply tossed back and forth between people who have a vague feeling that it means something posit ive but have no genuine grasp of the reality to which it refers. Bush propagandists deliberately misidentify the word "Democracy" so that it ceases to serve the function of referring to genuine Democracy.

Even a reality such as "right speech" is known by people intuitively. So someone who uses words in any way he pleases is not speaking correctly. A person must speak according to the way in which things are correctly spoken of, in the way that words refer to a specific reality that we know.

We must regain the understanding, taught by Perennialist sages throughout the ages, that there is a magic in language which contributes to human evolution. Language in some way creates the very world in which we live. Words and concepts point to realities beyond the sensory world and assist us in making contact with a higher dimension.

Intangible Ideas, in Plato's conception--supersensible realities beyond human thought--are appropriated through words, as birds in our hands, and released by the act of discernment, setting the birds free. These Ideas reside in the words independent of the books or the sounds in which the words are encased.

Humans today are rapidly losing the intellectual ability to realize or be concerned that their very lives are threatened by the loss of the ability to use language to understand and communicate. As Thomas Jefferson made clear, "no people can be both ignorant and free." [...]

Contemporary Bush junta propagandists do not even feel the need to disguise their deliberate lies and deceptions. In a recent speech to a captive audience (people screened to ensure Republican sympathies), Bush indicated that his job was "catapulting the propaganda" about Social Security. The Bush junta now broadcasts propaganda disguised as "news stories," witholds vital information from members of Congress, and lies with impunity at every turn.

Even though many Americans have been taken in by this propaganda, we can be sure--as Plato's dialogues demonstrate--that there is still some primordial understanding of enduring realities in all humans. A heartening example of this awareness is now manifesting in the increasing number of Americans who are seeing Bush's war on Iraq as a war crime perpetrated for oil, American corporate profits, and the restructuring of the Middle East. Their awakening to this reality means that the Bush military is now having immense difficulty in recruiting men and women as cannon fodder for their senseless wars of aggression.

The awareness of the essence of Good Government is also reawakening in Americans in increasing numbers. Ultimately, this preexisstent knowledge of reality will make it clear to Americans that the criminal cabal that has seized their government is working against the best interests of U.S. citizens. In our arsenal against the current tyranny, one of our most potent weapons is a penetrating understanding of the wisdom embodied in Plato's dialogues.

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Report: CIA official blocked Sept. 11 memo

WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Justice Department says a CIA official blocked a memo warning the FBI two Sept. 11 hijackers had entered the country before the attacks.

The memo, prepared by an FBI agent on the CIA's special Osama bin Laden unit, was meant to be transmitted in January 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. The information could have helped agents track down the al-Qaida operatives before the attacks took place, the Times quoted U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the Justice Department report as saying.

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine released the report after winning a court battle against officials involved with the case of alleged would-be hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui. The officials had attempted to block release of the report, claiming it could compromise the outcome of his case. The section on Moussaoui was deleted from the released report.

The report said it was not known why the CIA official, identified by the fictitious name "John," put a hold on the warning.

Comment: Allow us to be so bold: This most recent piece of evidence pointing to US government complicity in the 9/11 attacks adds to an already overwhelming and damning case. How much more evidence is needed? What will it take for the world to sit up and take notice?

The fact that the case against the US government and military has NEVER been presented to the American and world public strongly suggests that there is something VERY, very wrong with the US mainstream press. The nature of the problem? US journalists and the media empires that employ them do not work for the American people, they work for the US government.

Whether people like it or not, we are dealing with a conspiracy of massive proportions. It is no longer a matter of speculation that 9/11 was carried out by a faction of the US government in league with members of the Israeli government and intelligence agency Mossad, it is a matter of concrete, irrefutable FACT.

That wars have been deliberately instigated by governments for the purpose of personal profit is a matter of record. Documents released under the freedom of information act prove categorically that the then US government KNEW IN ADVANCE that the Japanese Navy was going to attack Pearl Harbor and they allowed it to happen in order to generate the public outrage that would justify an American entrance into WWII. During the 1960's the US Joint Chiefs of Staff devised a plan to bomb American commercial airliners and blame Cuba in order to justify a military assault on the Castro government. Such operations are called "False Flags", for obvious reasons, and they are a staple part of government intelligence agency activities.

It is in this light that the 9/11 attacks should be viewed. All of the evidence suggests that factions of the US and Israeli governments developed a plot to frame Arab patsies as the hijackers of the four planes on September 11th 2001. As many informed commentators have stated, there is absolutely NO WAY that a bunch of Arabs operating out of a cave in Afghanistan could have carried off an attack of the size and complexity of 9/11. Such an operation would have REQUIRED the resources of a nation state with the complicity of large sections of the US government and military command.

These are the facts. They are irrefutable. We are not dealing with a conspiracy theory. We are dealing with a very real and very frightening CONSPIRACY to fool the American people into GIVING UP their Freedom and Democracy, and all in the name of PRESERVING Freedom and Democracy.

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Police State
Capitol Hill Blue

Some really scary things are happening around here these days.

Congress has become a place of great incivility and rancor, which threaten to undermine any hope of legislative remedy to a myriad of problems, from Social Security to soaring health-care costs to immigration to a steadily crumbling manufacturing base once the envy of the world.

But perhaps the most frightening prospect for Americans is an unfettered national police force with the sole discretion to determine who can be investigated as a potential terrorist. That's the impact of little-known proposals to greatly expand the powers of the FBI, permitting its agents to seize business records without a warrant and to track the mail of those in terrorist inquiries without regard to Postal Service concerns.

Because the government can label almost any group or individual a terrorist threat, the potential for abuse by not having to show probable cause is enormous, prompting civil libertarians to correctly speculate about who will guard against the guardians. Up until now the answer was the Constitution as interpreted by the judiciary. But it is clear that sidestepping any such restriction is the real and present danger of the post-9-11 era.

A wise man, the late Sen. John Williams of Delaware, once counseled that any proposed legislation should be regarded in the light of its worst potential consequence, particularly when it came to laws that enhance the investigative and prosecutorial powers of the government at the expense of civil rights. This is most likely to occur in times of national stress, when the Constitution is always vulnerable to assault _ i.e., the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The scenario Williams warned about runs something like this.

You are innocently standing on a street corner waiting to cross when you are approached by a complete stranger who politely, but in a low voice, asks directions to a certain address or area. You, of course, are utterly unaware that the person is under surveillance in a terrorist investigation. You respond in a friendly manner. And although the exchange takes only a few seconds, it is enough to make those following the suspect curious about you. You are identified and a background check reveals that you or your spouse has a relative of Middle Eastern extraction or that you recently traveled to a Middle Eastern country or that you contributed to a charity bazaar sponsored by a church or group under suspicion of passing money through to a terrorist cause.

Suddenly, you are caught in a major inquiry, your personal business records are seized and your mail is tracked. It doesn't take long for your friends and neighbors to learn that you are being investigated, and the result of that is predictable. You and your family are shunned. Your business begins to dwindle and before the nightmare has ended, which can take months, your life is in shambles. The truth never catches up with the fiction and the bureau, which has difficulty in saying the word "sorry," leaves you high and dry, twisting slowly in the wind.

Think it can't happen that way? Well, it does all the time. Ask the lawyer in Oregon whom the FBI misidentified as having taken part in the terrorist bombing of the Spanish railway. Ask any number of persons since Sept. 11, 2001, arrested and detained for months without charges or counsel before they were released.

If that isn't enough to satisfy you about the inadvisability of these proposals, think back to the Cold War days when the most casual acquaintance with a group or person on J. Edgar Hoover's anti-communist watch list could land one in water hot enough to make life miserable for a long time _ maybe even put him or her on one of the infamous blacklists.

If you weren't around in those times, read about them. One thing you will learn quickly is that the sole determination of who or what had communist inclinations belonged to the FBI. Even then, however, Congress was smart enough not to rescind the checks and balances that protect our civil liberties. Federal law-enforcement officers outside the FBI have complained of late about the bureau's penchant for seizing jurisdiction over almost any crime by relating it to terrorism.

Both of these over-reactive proposals are as fearsome as the threat of another al Qaeda attack, for they accomplish the same thing: the intrusion on and disruption of the rights of Americans. Like portions of the Patriot Act, which are rightly being challenged by conservatives as well as liberals, they are medicine worse than the cancer.

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FBI holds US-Pakistani father, son on terror rap
Thu Jun 9, 2005
By Jenny O'Mara

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - The FBI has arrested a Pakistani-American father and son living in California after the son admitted to attending an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Hamid Hayat, 23, and his father, Umer, 45, of Lodi, 35 miles south of state capital Sacramento, were taken into custody over the weekend. Both men are being held in Sacramento on charges of lying to federal authorities.

"We believe through our investigation that various individuals connected to al Qaeda have been operating in the Lodi area in various capacities," Keith Slotter, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Sacramento, told reporters.

These involve "individuals who have received terrorist training abroad with the specific intent to initiate a terrorist attack in the United States and to harm Americans and our institutions."

The United States has launched numerous terrorism prosecutions with great fanfare since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, although many cases later fizzled out.

Two other men were arrested in Lodi for violating terms of their visas, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Dean Boyd. The men have been identified as Muhammad Adil Khan -- an imam at Farooqia Islamic Center -- and Shabbir Ahmed, also an imam in Lodi, an administration source said.

"We are a peace-loving people; we have never done anything to violate the laws of the United States," a fellow Islamic leader, Taj Khan, told reporters in Lodi. "We love this country as much as anyone else."


According to an FBI affidavit, Hamid Hayat told agents he attended an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan for about six months in 2003 and 2004. "Hamid further stated that he and others at the camp were being trained on how to kill Americans," the affidavit said.

"Hamid advised that he specifically requested to come to the United States to carry out his jihad mission," the document said. "Potential targets for attack would include hospitals and large food stores.

During weapons training, photos of President Bush and other high-ranking U.S. political figures were pasted onto targets.

Neighbor Leslie Korb, who lives across the street, said Umer Hayat, who called himself Michael, drove an ice cream truck and had recently completed a course to become a welder. He said Umer had said the family went to Pakistan because the mother needed a liver transplant. "He was very cordial," he said. "I've never seen anything unusual."

Comment: So is this lack of anything unusual evidence that these "terrorists" are really good at their jobs, or is it evidence that these people are simply victims of the burgeoning paranoid Police State that is mentioned in the previous article? Refer to our report last week on the cases of other American citizens who have been framed as "terrorists" by the US government and its inappropriately named Office of Homeland Security.

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Video: GOP Chairman Walks Out of Meeting

A Reader Comments


Re: GOP Chairmain Walks Out of Meeting

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.

Video of the above event may be found here (Quicktime, 17MB).

It is as depressing as MP Galloway's recent testimony was invigorating.

If history books ever get written about this "time" and place, the above scene will merit some mention I think; any semblence of an opposition to Bush Reich's Patriot Act II uttering its last words in the hallowed halls of congress.

Comment: Several US citizen "terrorists" have been recently arrested, and now the opposition to the Bush Reich's plans and policies is being silenced. We highly recommend watching the above video, for it is a clear illustration of how liberty dies.

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Patriot Act Push Angers Some on Right
By Tom Hamburger
LA Times
June 12, 2005

WASHINGTON - A closed-door vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week to expand law enforcement powers under the USA Patriot Act is prompting sharp criticism from some conservative leaders who are otherwise among the most vocal allies of President Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress.

The conservative leaders - who have formed a coalition with critics on the left, including the American Civil Liberties Union - vowed to press their concerns in coming days with public statements, rallies and radio advertisements in key congressional districts.

The conservatives, including former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) and political activists who have been long-standing critics of the anti-terrorism law, lashed out with particular force last week against the White House, members of Congress and Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales. They said they had expected a more open review of the Patriot Act in which lawmakers considered some limits in order to safeguard civil liberties.

The conservatives complained that the Senate panel had moved in secret to expand the act. They are particularly upset about proposed "administrative subpoenas" that would let the FBI obtain a person's medical, financial and other records in terrorism cases without seeking a judge's approval.

Their criticism gathered force as Bush devoted two public events last week to pressing Congress to renew parts of the act due to expire at the end of this year.

The White House and the congressional leadership generally enjoy enthusiastic support from conservative activist organizations, though the Republican base has experienced profound disagreements over the decision to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare and over the general expansion of government under President Bush.

But now, said conservative activist Grover Norquist, every major conservative grass-roots organization has expressed concern about expanding the Patriot Act. He emphasized that his concern was directed not at the White House but at Congress. Other conservative leaders, however, are aiming their criticism at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

"It is a slap in the face to the Constitution," said Barr, who leads a bipartisan coalition calling for limits on the act.

Passed six weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Patriot Act was intended to give law enforcement more power to fight terrorism. But Barr and other critics say the law goes too far and gives federal investigators unbridled power that endangers civil rights. The proposed "administrative subpoenas" approved by the intelligence panel last week would "wipe away the 4th Amendment" protection against unreasonable searches, Barr said.

Barr also accused the president of giving "the back of his hand" to concerns about constitutional protections "that so many have fought and died for." [...]

Although Barr, Keene and a handful of other well-known conservatives are working with groups on the political left to limit the Patriot Act, Keene rejected arguments from the left that "there is a Republican plot to deprive of us of our rights. The fact is, this is what governments do," regardless of who is in power, particularly in time of war. [...]

Barr voted for the bill when he was in Congress and, like Keene, he insists he wants most of the 16 expiring sections renewed. In testimony on Capitol Hill, Barr said his coalition sought modest modifications of the law, such as limiting the length of time and number of targets covered by a roving wiretap. [...]

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Dean Tells Dems: 'People Want Us to Fight'
Jun 11, 6:49 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Howard Dean said Saturday that positive responses from key supporters have reinforced his determination to keep talking tough. Some congressional Democrats have suggested that the party chairman should tone down his rhetoric.

"People want us to fight," Dean told the national party's executive committee. "We are here to fight."

Over the past week, Dean described Republicans as "pretty much a white, Christian party" and said many in the GOP "never made an honest living."

Several Democratic lawmakers distanced themselves from their chairman. Republican officials called on him to apologize. After weathering the criticism, Dean forged ahead with the GOP scolding at the meeting of Democratic National Committee leaders.

Yet some Democrats say the former Vermont governor should not remain the center of attention.

"Privately, people have said they don't want Howard Dean to become the story because we have more important issues to talk about," said Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000.

"But publicly we will continue to give Howard Dean our strong support," she said.

One of Dean's predecessors at the DNC, Don Fowler said, "The controversy over this statement or that statement is a blip and only a blip." But Fowler complained about leading Democrats who aired their gripes last week. "Even if they don't like it, they should have enough sense not to make those comments," Fowler said.

At the session in a downtown hotel, Dean accused Republicans of trying to suppress the vote, selling access to the White House for lobbyists and basically being dishonest with the public.

"The reason the Republicans are in trouble is because there are so many cases where they say one thing and do something else," Dean said.

He said President Bush's education initiative, the "No Child Left Behind" program, cuts school spending and a clean environment plan, the "Clear Skies Initiative," permits more pollution.

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee said Dean would rather sling mud than discuss serious matters.

"Dean's inflammatory rhetoric makes it clear that Democrats have no vision and would rather pander to the maniacal fringe than talk about the important issues facing our country," Tracey Schmitt said.

Comment: So, what do you do when your opponent starts revealing all your dirty secrets? You don't refute his claims with facts - you call him crazy!

On political fundraising, the DNC trails the Republican Party by more than 2-to-1 despite Dean's reputation as a potent fundraiser. The Democrats have raised almost $19 million so far this year. [...]

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Ministers were told of need for Gulf war 'excuse'
Michael Smith – The Sunday Times London June 12, 2005

Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.

The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair's inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was "necessary to create the conditions" which would make it legal.

This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.

"US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia," the briefing paper warned. This meant that issues of legality "would arise virtually whatever option ministers choose with regard to UK participation".

The paper was circulated to those present at the meeting, among whom were Blair, Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, and Sir Richard Dearlove, then chief of MI6. The full minutes of the meeting were published last month in The Sunday Times.

The document said the only way the allies could justify military action was to place Saddam Hussein in a position where he ignored or rejected a United Nations ultimatum ordering him to co-operate with the weapons inspectors. But it warned this would be difficult.

"It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject," the document says. But if he accepted it and did not attack the allies, they would be "most unlikely" to obtain the legal justification they needed.

The suggestions that the allies use the UN to justify war contradicts claims by Blair and Bush, repeated during their Washington summit last week, that they turned to the UN in order to avoid having to go to war. The attack on Iraq finally began in March 2003.

The briefing paper is certain to add to the pressure, particularly on the American president, because of the damaging revelation that Bush and Blair agreed on regime change in April 2002 and then looked for a way to justify it.

There has been a growing storm of protest in America, created by last month's publication of the minutes in The Sunday Times. A host of citizens, including many internet bloggers, have demanded to know why the Downing Street memo (often shortened to "the DSM" on websites) has been largely ignored by the US mainstream media.

The White House has declined to respond to a letter from 89 Democratic congressmen asking if it was true - as Dearlove told the July meeting - that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" in Washington.

The Downing Street memo burst into the mainstream American media only last week after it was raised at a joint Bush-Blair press conference, forcing the prime minister to insist that "the facts were not fixed in any shape or form at all".

John Conyers, the Democratic congressman who drafted the letter to Bush, has now written to Dearlove asking him to say whether or not it was accurate that he believed the intelligence was being "fixed" around the policy. He also asked the former MI6 chief precisely when Bush and Blair had agreed to invade Iraq and whether it is true they agreed to "manufacture" the UN ultimatum in order to justify the war.

He and other Democratic congressmen plan to hold their own inquiry this Thursday with witnesses including Joe Wilson, the American former ambassador who went to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium ore for its nuclear weapons programme.

Frustrated at the refusal by the White House to respond to their letter, the congressmen have set up a website - - to collect signatures on a petition demanding the same answers.

Conyers promised to deliver it to Bush once it reached 250,000 signatures. By Friday morning it already had more than 500,000 with as many as 1m expected to have been obtained when he delivers it to the White House on Thursday., another website set up as a result of the memo, is calling for a congressional committee to consider whether Bush's actions as depicted in the memo constitute grounds for impeachment.

It has been flooded with visits from people angry at what they see as media self-censorship in ignoring the memo. It claims to have attracted more than 1m hits a day., another website, even offered $1,000 to any journalist who quizzed Bush about the memo's contents, although the Reuters reporter who asked the question last Tuesday was not aware of the reward and has no intention of claiming it.

The complaints of media self-censorship have been backed up by the ombudsmen of The Washington Post, The New York Times and National Public Radio, who have questioned the lack of attention the minutes have received from their organisations.

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Web of cold-blooded lies

PARIS -- In July 2002, the head of MI-6, Britain's secret intelligence service, briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cabinet on U.S. plans to attack Iraq.

Sir Richard Dearlove ("M" to James Bond fans) reported that U.S. President George Bush had decided to invade oil-rich Iraq in March 2003, in a war "to be justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."

Translation: The U.S. and British governments would concoct charges against Iraq to justify war.

After Britain's attorney general warned that unprovoked invasion of Iraq would violate international law, Dearlove opined with oily cynicism, "If the political context were right, people would support regime change." Translation: Use propaganda and scare tactics to whip up war fever.

British and U.S. intelligence agencies were ordered to produce "evidence" to justify a war. In the U.S., faked "evidence" and grotesque lies were fed to the frightened public by pro-war neo-conservatives and frenzied national media. The U.S. Congress clapped for war like trained seals.

In October 2002, Bush actually claimed in a national speech that Iraqi "drone" aircraft were poised to shower germs and poison gas on America. Vice-President Dick Cheney insisted this absurd allegation was the "smoking gun" that justified invading Iraq. Blair ordered his cabinet to support the invasion.

Bush, in his subsequent State of the Union speech, warned that Iraq was importing uranium from Niger to build nuclear weapons aimed at the U.S. This ludicrous claim was based on a forged document. The forgery was back-channelled to the Pentagon through neo-fascists in Italian military intelligence.

And so it went. Lie after lie. Scare upon scare. Fakery after fakery, trumpeted by the tame media that came to resemble the lickspittle press of the old Soviet Union. Ironically, in the end, horrid Saddam Hussein turned out to be telling the truth all along, while Bush and Blair were not.

MI-6's smoking-gun memo, revealed for the first time last month in London by the Sunday Times, would have forced any of Europe's democratic governments to resign in disgrace. But not Bush and Blair. Far from it. Though hounded over his Iraq lies by Britain's media, Blair squeaked through a tight election thanks only to the pathetically inept opposition Conservatives, who also backed the Iraq war.

By contrast, U.S. mass media amply confirmed charges of bias and politicization levelled against them by first ignoring the MI-6 memo story, then grudgingly devoting a few low-key stories to the dramatic revelation. Front pages, meanwhile, featured outing of the Nixon era's "Deep Throat," who, it turned out, was part of a cabal of Nixon-haters rather than a selfless patriot.

In retrospect, former president Richard Nixon's misdeeds appear trivial compared to Bush's illegal, unnecessary and catastrophic war against Iraq, which has so far killed some 100,000 Iraqis and Americans, cost $275 billion US, and made America's name mud around the globe.

But as Nazi bigwig Herman Goering observed correctly, a government can get away with anything provided it scares its citizens enough.

France and Germany both knew from their own intelligence services that the Anglo-U.S. accusations against Iraq were nonsense and Saddam was no threat to anyone save his own miserable people.

That is why they refused to join the war in spite of U.S. threats and tempting offers of oil concessions in postwar Iraq. Britain readily accepted.

The U.S. ordered its intelligence services to shut their eyes, toe the White House party line and accept as genuine patently false reports about the Mideast from known disinformers and self-serving sources that wanted to see Iraq destroyed.

But don't just blame Bush and Blair. VP Cheney, CIA boss George Tenet (aka "Dr. Yes"), Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and other senior administration officials who promoted falsehoods over Iraq and war fever were just as guilty of deceiving and misleading the American people and Congress.

Kudos go to Blair's former foreign secretary, Robin Cook, who refused to be party to the lies and resigned. No senior U.S. official had the guts or ethics to follow Cook's admirable example.

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White House official who edited global warming reports resigns

Saturday, June 11, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former oil industry lobbyist who changed government reports on global warming has resigned in a long-planned departure, the White House said Saturday.

Philip Cooney, who was chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, left Friday, two days after it was revealed that he had edited administration reports on climate change in 2002 and 2003.

His departure was "completely unrelated" to the disclosure, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.[...]

Based on documents provided to the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group that helps whistle-blowers, The New York Times first reported Wednesday that Cooney made changes in several federal environmental reports. The changes tended to emphasize the uncertainty of evidence that greenhouse-gas emissions are causing global temperatures to rise.

Cooney, a lawyer without a background in science, once headed the oil industry's lobbying on climate change.

The White House defended the changes, saying they were part of the normal, wide-ranging review process and did not violate an administration pledge to rely on sound science.

Comment: More lies from the Bush gang. Ho hum. All in a day's work. Lies, lies, lies.

How about calling them "Freedom lies"? That has a nice ring to it.

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'Freedom fries' lawmaker's U-turn
Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 01:32 GMT 02:32 UK

A pro-Iraq war US congressman who campaigned for French fries to be renamed "freedom fries" is now calling for US troops to return home from Iraq.

Republican Representative Walter Jones is to introduce legislation demanding a timetable for the withdrawal.

The renaming of fries in Capitol Hill's cafeterias in March 2003 expressed disapproval among some US lawmakers with France's opposition to the war.

French toast was also re-branded "freedom toast".

"I voted for the resolution to commit the troops, and I feel that we've done about as much as we can do," Mr Jones said on US network ABC.

"I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there."

He said his change of heart about the war came after he attended the funeral of a US sergeant killed in Nasiriya, Iraq, in April 2003. Mr Jones said he was moved by the soldier's widow who read out her husband's last letter.

"And that really has been on my mind and my heart ever since," he said.

Mr Jones, who represents North Carolina, has written condolences letters to the families of more than 1,300 servicemen killed in Iraq, and photographs of those killed in action are posted outside his congressional office.

Comment: The US was going to war and the US Congress was voting to change the name of French fries on the menu. Think about it. If that doesn't fill you with disgust at the sham that is democracy in the US today, what will it take?

It is clear from our reader mail that many, many Americans see that Bush is an inveterate liar. They see that the Democratic Party in Congress has rolled over and is playing dead. They are frustrated. They don't know what to do.

One thing is to discuss these issues with others. Break through the self-imposed censorship that says that these things can't be talked about. You'll be surprised how many others will be likely to agree but who are afraid to speak, afraid to be judged by the Bush Brown shirts.

The climate of fear must be broken. Your voice must be heard. Speak up.

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Affront to our civil liberties
Jun 11, 2005, 08:53

(UK) - The more we learn about the Government's plan for pay-per-mile motoring, the more shocking and frightening it becomes.

This project will involve the most intrusive system for spying on the citizens ever proposed in a civilised state. Hitler and Stalin would have relished such a scheme.

High overhead, 24 hours a day, satellites will monitor the movements of all 30 million vehicles in Britain.

We will be unable to make the shortest journey without the trip being seen, logged and duly billed.

Britain's speed-trap cameras will become redundant overnight. Any breaches of the speed limit could be detected from thousands of miles in space and duly punished by computer-generated fines.

You may wish to see a new church, join a social club or visit the headquarters of a political party. All will be known. All will be logged.

This is an Orwellian nightmare. It is astonishing and deeply depressing that politicians who were raised in a liberal, freedom-loving society could even contemplate such a thing.

And yet where is the opposition to it? Where are the MPs defending British liberties?

We are told that all the major political parties support this spy-in-the-sky scheme. The BBC, slavishly toeing the Downing Street line, describes the project as requiring "political courage".

Poor, bemused Joe Public is left as uninformed and powerless as ever.

How did such a scheme come to be? Did it appear in any party election manifesto? Was it mentioned in a single pre-election speech?

Of course not. This draconian affront to our civil liberties has simply gone through on the nod. The right of the state to know every detail of our private lives is taken for granted.

This state-spy project has been launched in the guise of protecting the environment and reducing gridlock.

And if you believe that, you'll believe anything. [...]

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Blood Group
Global Eye
By Chris Floyd
Published: June 10, 2005

The history of politics is the history of factions jostling for power, by methods seldom peaceful and rarely, if ever, honest. War is by far the preferred means of obtaining and augmenting domination of the political landscape and the enrichment of the ruling clique.

Sometimes this means violent civil strife within the state itself. At other times, the political tool of war is directed outwards, at some demonized enemy who poses a "threat" -- which is almost always exaggerated or illusory -- to national survival. Without fail, the warmongering faction's political opponents are identified with the enemy, either as direct agents or, more often, as unpatriotic abettors whose criticism of the rulers gives "aid and comfort" to the foe.

Blood is an excellent sealant for factional unity. Once lives have been taken in pursuit of the faction's interests, which are invariably dressed up in the rhetoric of moral purpose, it becomes much harder for the faction's members to question or quit the cause. To do so means confessing not just to error but to complicity in murder. Few are those who can face such a stark unmasking. Self-deception is vital coin in the economy of factional partisanship.

Of course, some factions are more venal, more violent and more ambitious than others. Many factions are content with a mere piece of the action, a cut of the spoils. Although occasionally they might win through to the top rank of power, they don't seek to eliminate all their rivals and establish permanent rule. But history provides many examples of ruthless factions whose thirst for control is unlimited. They seek and will accept no less than a profound transformation of state and society into the image of the faction itself, using any method to achieve this goal. They will begin with peaceful means but will not balk at bloodshed if required. And of course, to impose a narrow partisan vision on an entire society inevitably requires mass bloodletting in the end.

By no means are such towering ambitions always unsuccessful. This is one of the great unspoken truths of history: In many different places and times, empires, caliphates, dynasties and other systems of factional dominion have been established through enormous evil -- and then persisted in power for centuries, lauded as honorable, legitimate governments. In time, their domination comes to be seen as a fact of nature, the way things are. There is no other way to think, to operate, to exist outside the parameters imposed by the ruling worldview.

Western civilization is founded upon this kind of enduring factional triumph. Octavian, the teenage adventurer adopted by his distant kinsman Julius Caesar, parlayed the chaos of Rome's partisan strife into supreme power, using corruption, deceit, betrayal, murder, civil war and foreign conquest as his political instruments. With a bloody single-mindedness and a scope that would not be seen in Europe again until the 20th century, he subsumed the entire state into his faction, merging and equating the two, leaving nothing outside the new reality created by his violent success.

There was no ideological, moral or even genuine political content at the heart of his faction. Its only goal was power, Octavian's personal power, from which his adherents hoped to obtain offices, land, loot and prestige -- or protection from the ravages of other factions. Only later, on the razed ground of total victory, was this remorseless, murderous game mythologized into a selfless crusade for national security, for order, liberty, prosperity and, yes, for "family values." Only then, when the dead lay rotting by the hundreds of thousands, was the young man accorded the lofty title that carried him into history as a beacon of civilization: Augustus. The system he established so brutally was maintained -- with equal brutality for all who opposed it -- for more than 1,400 years.

At first glance, it might seem absurd to compare this grand figure of world history to the gang of apish, third-rate poltroons now camped out along the Potomac. But although Octavian's faction contained a handful of remarkably able figures, for the most part it was a collection of schemers, time-servers, cynical money-men, stunted ideologues, bootlickers, propagandists and thugs. Through bribes, threats and the reflected glory of Caesar's name, Octavian was able to augment his tawdry crew with the fearsome military power of many legions. Armed might -- and the willingness to use it without remorse or moral compunction -- is always the decisive factor in politics.

The brutal system of torture, corruption, lawlessness and war established in Washington by the faction of President George W. Bush is now backed by the greatest military power in history, able to wipe whole nations from the face of the earth in minutes. With the illegal invasion of Iraq and the illegal imprisonment of thousands of people in its global gulag, this faction has shown its willingness to use military force without remorse or moral compunction in pursuit of its openly-stated totalitarian vision: "full-spectrum dominance" over geopolitical affairs coupled with a radical "transformation" of domestic government into a centralized, militarized "instrument of national power" that breaks down "the old, rigid divisions between war, peace, diplomacy, conflict and reconstruction," as Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld outlined last month. This "instrument" is designed not for the people's benefit but to provide "maximum flexibility" for the commander-in-chief -- whose powers are not subject to U.S. or international law, says Bush's legal team.

Is such a faction, so steeped in blood and lies, so ravenous for domination, ever likely to resign its power voluntarily through free, unfixed elections? Or will it not seek to extend its rule, by any means necessary, into the years and centuries beyond?

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Civil libertarians concerned over proposed NSW counter-terrorism laws
The World Today - Friday, 10 June , 2005 12:20:00
Reporter: Brendan Trembath - (Australian Broadcasting Co.)

ELEANOR HALL: Civil liberty groups in New South Wales are warning today that proposed new counter-terrorism laws could turn New South Wales into a police state.

They're raising the alarm about legislation that the Carr Government has introduced into the State's parliament, which would allow police to secretly search homes and offices to target terrorists.

The civil libertarians say they're concerned that the laws could be misused, with one of their biggest fears being that secret searches could be used to plant false evidence.

In Sydney, Brendan Trembath reports.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The New South Wales Government wants to give police the power to search any premises secretly so as not to tip-off suspected terrorists they're investigating.

The Government argues terrorist groups are especially secretive, more so than other criminals.

But it's not a strong enough argument for civil libertarians, who worry covert searches could be wide open to abuse.

CAMERON MURPHY: I don't think that this provides any further assistance in any effort to combat terrorism. What it does do is open up the way for further police corruption.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Cameron Murphy is the President of the Council for Civil Liberties.

So-called "sneak and peak" warrants have not been used in Australia, but have overseas, from time to time in the United States, especially to investigate drug dealing.

Law enforcement researchers say the warrants are attractive to law enforcement groups, but menacing to the courts.

Cameron Murphy from the Civil Liberties Council says the US experience discredits their use.

CAMERON MURPHY: The first line of defence against police corruption is knowing that the police have a warrant, and that they're in your premises, and knowing what they're searching for. Otherwise, what's to stop a police officer planting something, then going and obtaining a warrant based on the outcome of the sneak-and-peek warrant to seize that and prosecute somebody.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The secret search warrants proposed in New South Wales would be issued by the Supreme Court. The court would be closed for such applications so media scrutiny is hampered.

Police or Crime Commission officers would have to report back to the court on the result of the search.

The occupant would be informed of the search eventually, though it may be as long as two years later.

The main proponent, New South Wales Attorney General Bob Debus, says police need wider powers to preserve the element of surprise.

BOB DEBUS: I just want to emphasise in this context, Mr Speaker, that these powers have got nothing to do with secret policing.

Secret policing involves the exercise of powers by police without independent oversight, without accountability, and those sorts of powers might involve the surveillance of law abiding members of the community who are considered suspect in some way due to their social or their political leanings. Indeed, that term secret policing evokes the fear of the knock on the door in the middle of the night that has been known in totalitarian societies like Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union.

These powers are not secret policing powers.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: David Vaile from the Australian Privacy Foundation says if the law passes, the real test of its fairness will be how closely the use of the warrants is supervised by the courts.

DAVID VAILE: So that it's not just somebody gets a suspicion about something and decides that without much further scrutiny they'll just go off and order these activities, which start to sound, I must say, very much like the sort of thing you'd expect in a traditional police state.

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Snooping agency assumes anti-terror role

OTTAWA (CP) - Canada's secret eavesdropping agency is undergoing its biggest expansion in decades as it takes on a greater role in the fight against terrorism.

The clandestine Communications Security Establishment, a wing of the Defence Department that snoops on foreign conversations and messages, has made its primary mission the countering of dangerous extremists.

Staff levels at the Ottawa-based CSE are expected to jump to 1,650 from about 950 before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

The spy agency's annual budget will reach $220 million by 2007-08, a 57 per cent increase over pre-9/11 levels.

"Over the past year, CSE has significantly expanded its security intelligence focus and collection capabilities," says a recent federal report on national security projects.

At CSE's unassuming headquarters, computer whizzes, mathematicians and language specialists sift and sort intercepted data to help analysts create reports for other government security agencies.

Military listening posts across the country assist CSE's efforts to eavesdrop on suspected spies, terrorists and other criminals as well as process information helpful to Canada's foreign policy interests and soldiers posted abroad.

Intelligence provided by CSE "has been directly responsible for helping to protect Canadian troops in Afghanistan from terrorist attack," agency chief Keith Coulter recently told a Commons committee.

"I can also say that CSE has provided intelligence on foreign terrorist targets used to protect the safety and interest of Canadians and our closest allies."

Coulter credits new powers in the Anti-Terrorism Act, ushered in following Sept. 11, that give CSE more flexibility.

As a foreign intelligence agency, CSE is still forbidden from focusing its spy efforts specifically on Canadians. However, the act permits the defence minister to authorize CSE operations even if doing so risks intercepting some communications, such as a phone call, involving Canadians.

Should this happen, the law allows CSE to use information deemed essential to international affairs, defence or security. [...]

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Journalist freed five months after kidnapping
Last Updated Sun, 12 Jun 2005 16:42:05 EDT
CBC News

A French journalist and her Iraqi assistant have been released after being held hostage for five months.

Florence Aubenas, a reporter for the daily Libération, and her interpreter and guide, Hussein Hanoun, are in good health, France's foreign minister said.

Aubenas, 44, arrived at an airstrip west of Paris Sunday aboard a plane chartered by the French government.

President Jacques Chirac greeted Aubenas with a kiss on the cheek after she landed in Villacoublay.

She hugged her family then told reporters that she had been tied up and blindfolded in a cellar for months.

The journalist, who appeared relaxed and made jokes, said her captors had untied her recently and let her watch French television networks. She said she was very moved to see that a ticker on the news program was still counting off her days of captivity – then at 140.

"You're so happy to see that, when you're all crouched over on the ground," she said. "That's why it was so important to me to thank absolutely everybody here."

In Baghdad, more than 60 friends and relatives gathered to hug and kiss Hanoun, throwing a huge feast in his honour.

The two went missing after leaving their Baghdad hotel on the morning of Jan. 5.

There had been little word of their fate, just a video of the journalist released in March by the group claiming to hold the pair. Looking distraught, Aubenas pleaded for help.

Before Aubenas landed, French Ambassador Bernard Bajolet described her as "thinner but surprisingly vivacious and smiling."

"She got through this ordeal with exceptional courage," he said.

About 150 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq, but many more Iraqis have been held captive.

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U.S. army trains Africans to fight desert militants
Fri Jun 10, 2005
By Nick Tattersall

DAKAR (Reuters) - One thousand military experts from the United States are training soldiers from nine West African countries as U.S. fears grow that an Algerian militant group allied to al Qaeda is broadening its base in the region.

The exercise, meant to help stem weapons smuggling and stop militants finding havens around the Sahara desert, began this week in Mali, Niger, Chad, Algeria and Mauritania, where an Islamic fundamentalist group killed 15 soldiers last week.

A posting on an Islamist Web site said Algeria's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) carried out the dawn raid on a remote Mauritanian military post, the first time the GSPC has claimed responsibility for an attack outside its homeland.

The attack near Mauritania's border with Mali and Algeria surprised some U.S. military observers who believed the GSPC had been largely contained and raised fears the group was increasingly ready to strike out into new territory.

"Now they've added Mauritania to their list, so this is another notch on the belt. They're broadening their base... they've got more bona fide as a trans-national organization," said a U.S. military official who closely follows the region.

"We've stood up and said we're going to fix the problem and they've stood up and said we are the problem. So it's going to be an interesting race to see who comes out on top."

The U.S. European Command (EUCOM) is running the joint military training, known as Operation Flintlock and planned before the Mauritania attack. It aims to help countries plan and execute their own counter-terrorism strategies as well as peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

Around 3,000 African soldiers will be schooled in basics such as marksmanship, small-unit tactics and land navigation as well as airborne operations and human rights law.


The Sahara is infamous for banditry but the world's top energy consumer also fears Islamic extremists, civil war, political anarchy and piracy near the Gulf of Guinea, which it hopes will supply a quarter of its oil imports within a decade.

As part of Flintlock, Senegal will host an exercise with soldiers from nine countries, including Nigeria, Morocco and Tunisia, in which they will jointly solve a terrorism scenario.

"In the past the focus has been within their own borders. Now the focus is much more regional," EUCOM's Major Holly Silkman said on Friday.

Flintlock aims to build on training by U.S. Marines and Special Forces last year in the deserts of Niger, Chad, Mali and Mauritania, part of a Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorist Initiative (TSCTI) expected to cost the United States $100 million over five years.

Some U.S. officials privately acknowledge the main concern is protecting Nigeria, the continent's biggest oil producer, the region's only OPEC member and the main destination for U.S. investment in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa.

But critics say Washington's increasingly high-profile involvement in security in West Africa risks fueling a growing resentment of U.S. foreign policy and radicalizing some in a region largely known for moderate forms of Islam. Think-tank International Crisis Group has cautioned that a military policy which offers no alternative livelihoods to already marginalized nomadic populations in countries around the Sahara risks exacerbating the threat Washington wants to curb.

Comment: Now that the Middle East game has begun, it is West Africa's turn. Wherever oil and gas exist in significant quantity, there lie "US interests".

Of course, an excuse is needed, something to justify a US presence/invasion - enter the "terrorist threat". "al-Qaeda", that arch enemy and perennial boogey man for the US, are operating in some African nations, we are told. Who can verify it? No one, other than those with plunder on their minds. Bizarrely, every time the US takes action against "terrorists", it somehow manages to increase the likelihood that the "terrorist" threat will spread.

Coincidence? We think not.

It really is rather simple you see. The formula has, by now, been tested enough that US intelligence agencies can be almost assured of success. It goes something like this:

The US declares that there is a "terrorist threat" in some part of the world (usually the Muslim world). In reality however, there is no terrorist threat in that specific region - but not for long.

By sending US troops into a region to antagonise and inflame anti-US and pro-Muslims sentiment, the US government actually creates some semblance of the "terrorist threat" that did not previously exist. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

It is exactly the same as covertly attacking someone who you claim is your enemy, but who, in reality, is not. When he retaliates against your attack, you point to his retaliation as proof that he was your enemy all along and that you are therefore justified in attacking him.

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Mossad Chief: U.S. to Be Mired in Middle East in Perpetuity
by William Norman Grigg
June 10, 2005

According to Ephraim Halevy, former chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence service and current national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, plans have been made for a substantial U.S. military presence in the Middle East lasting decades.

"The U.S. campaign in Iraq was perceived [in the Middle East and Washington] as a signal of long-term American commitment to do whatever is required and to 'stay in the neighborhood' for as long as needed," commented Halevy in a lengthy op-ed column carried by the April 24 issue of Ha'aretz. High-ranking U.S. policymakers have "raised the idea of establishing an American trusteeship regime in the areas of the Palestinian Authority, if it should turn out that the Palestinians are not ripe for self-rule. That arrangement would require an American operational military presence along Israel's border with the Palestinian territories."

"Speaking in a semi-closed forum during a visit to Israel a few months ago," continued Halevy, "Bill Kristol, one of the most influential 'neocons' [neoconservatives] in the United States, noted in this connection that the American presence in Europe after World War II lasted for nearly 60 years. Israelis who are trying to promote a role for NATO in the region, in one form or another, are actually promoting a generation-long American presence."

U.S. entanglement in the Middle East in the name of "democracy" has further destabilized the region and made violent fundamentalist revolution more likely, especially in Saudi Arabia. "In [an early April] visit to the United States," comments Halevy, "I was told by several well-informed observers that should one of the more severe scenarios come to pass, the United States will have no choice but to deepen its presence in the Middle East. To that end, it will have to renew the draft, to ensure that there are enough forces to deal with developing situations in countries like Saudi Arabia."

Comment: An ex-Head of Mossad and current National Security Advisor to Sharon would certainly be in a position to know the minds of the Washington NeoCons. It is not unreasonable to suggest that a plan that involves a decades-long US military presence n the Middle East must surely also have been in the planning for decades. It is no secret that, in the early 1980's under Reagan, many of the same staunchly pro-Israel NeoCons that currently occupy positions of power in the Bush administration were, in league with their Israeli couterparts, calling for an extensive restructuring of the Middle East map.

An ambitious report entitled "A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s," which appeared in the World Zionist Organization's periodical Kivunim in February 1982 disclosed a strategy aimed at making the whole of the Middle East a kind of "living space" for Israel. The report, drawn up by Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist and formerly attached to the Foreign Ministry of Israel, set out the scenario of the "division of Iraq" in these terms:

Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria… Iraq is, once again, no different in essence from its neighbors, although its majority is Shi'ite and the ruling minority Sunni. Sixty-five percent of the population has no say in politics, in which an elite of 20 percent holds the power. In addition there is a large Kurdish minority in the north, and if it weren't for the strength of the ruling regime, the army and the oil revenues, Iraq's future state would be no different than that of Lebanon in the past… In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.

Israel Shahak, The Zionist Plan for the Middle East; from Oded Yinon's "A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties" Published by the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc. Belmont, Massachusetts, 1982 Special Document No. 1 (ISBN 0-937694-56-8);

In this case, the 9/11 attacks take on a whole new meaning. No longer can they be considered a freak occurrence, but rather as part of a decades-old plan, if not the core event that would open the door to the plan's full implementation.

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Outgoing chief warns extremist Jews could open fire during Gaza pullout
08:30 PM EDT Jun 12

RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTIJERUSALEM (AP) - Jewish extremists could open fire on troops during this summer's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, or even carry out a suicide attack to kill the prime minister, the outgoing chief of the Shin Bet security service warned in interviews published Friday.

Avi Dichter, who last month ended a five-year term as head of the Shin Bet, said Jewish extremists who have no qualms about firing on Israeli soldiers and police are currently holed up in a Gaza Strip hotel, which he predicted would be the final stronghold of resistance to the evacuation.

"Suicide attacks are not limited to the Palestinians. There can be Jewish suicide attackers. Their first target is the prime minister," Dichter told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.

"We have no experience dealing with such extremists," said Dichter, who wielded great power in Israel during his tenure. He told the newspapers he was seriously considering entering politics.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza and four West Bank settlements is set to begin in August.

An opinion poll published in Yediot Friday showed Israeli support for the Gaza withdrawal has dropped to 53 per cent from a high of 69 per cent in February. Opposition to the plan has risen from 27 per cent to 38 per cent, according to the poll. The survey, taken Thursday, questioned 501 people and had a margin of error of 4.4 per cent. [...]

Even if there is no Israeli-Palestinian violence during the pullout, Dichter forecasted massive looting in the settlements if Israel doesn't either sell the homes to the Palestinians or destroy them.

The army recently said the homes should be left intact despite a Cabinet decision to demolish them, but Dichter said he disagrees with the military's position.

"If it's a matter of Jewish property at the time of the exit, it has to be razed to the foundations. Otherwise, there will be a festival of looting .†.†. masses will swarm in to take the roof tiles and the faucets from the Jews," Dichter told the Haaretz daily.

"The Palestinian policeman who will stop them has yet to be born, and the idea of putting in an international force is simply a joke" because it wouldn't be able to "stop the wave," Dichter said.

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Iraqi police find 28 bullet-riddled bodies - victims believed to be Sunnis
12:25 AM EDT Jun 13

PAUL GARWOODBAGHDAD (AP) - Iraqi police Sunday found the bullet-riddled bodies of 28 people - many thought to be Sunni Arabs - buried in shallow graves or dumped streetside in Baghdad. Also on Sunday, the U.S. military announced the killing of four more soldiers Sunday, pushing the American death toll past 1,700.

The bodies were discovered as the Shiite-led government pressed to open disarmament talks with insurgents responsible for a relentless campaign of violence, which has taken on ominous sectarian overtones with recurring tit-for-tat killings.

A crackdown by Iraqi security forces in Baghdad and offensives carried out by U.S. forces in western Iraq have had only had a temporary effect in blunting the cycle of carnage in which at least 940 people have died since Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his government six weeks ago. [...]

Lieut. Ayad Othman said a shepherd found the bodies of 20 men on Friday in the Nahrawan desert, 30 kilometres east of Baghdad.

"All were blindfolded and their hands were tied behind their backs and shot from behind," Othman said. "The assassins excavated a hole and buried them inside it and seven were found naked."

Witnesses claimed the slain men were Sunnis, according to a statement from the influential Sunni organization, the Association of Muslim Scholars. No details were provided to support the claim, but the association said it had begun an investigation.

Eight other slain men were found shot in the head Sunday in two different locations in Baghdad's predominatly Shiite northern suburb of Shula, police Capt. Majed Abdul Aziz said. The bodies could not immediately be identified.

"The interior minister keeps saying security is getting better, but everyday we hear of 20 bodies killed here and other 20 bodies found there," said Salih al-Mutlak, head of the prominent umbrella Sunni body, the National Dialogue Council.

The grisly discoveries were announced two days after 21 men were found slain Friday near Qaim, on the lawless Syrian frontier about 320 kilometres west of Baghdad. [...]

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5 explosions in Iran claim 10 lives 2005-06-13 08:45:57

TEHRAN, June 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Five bomb explosions took place in Iran on Sunday, killing ten people and injuring nearly 40, five days ahead of the presidential elections.

The latest explosion occurred at the Shohada-Safa juncture near the Imam Hussein Square in central Tehran at about 20:20 local time (1550 GMT) when a small bomb went off, killing at least two people and wounding four others, state media said.

The official IRNA news agency quoted residents as saying that shortly after the blast police and fire fighters arrived at the scene and there might be another bomb set nearby.

"Police are trying to defuse a bomb," a witness said.

Tehran's explosion came just several hours after four bombs blew up in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, killing eight people and injuring scores.

The explosions in Ahvaz, capital of the oil-rich Khuzestan province bordering Iraq, took place near four crowded locations separately, including the governor's office, a civilian residence center, a public service agglomerate with some financial institutions and a governmental organizations' center, a source told Xinhua by phone.
Rescue workers are moving body of a victim in the explosion into the ambulance.

It has not been proven yet that the Tehran explosion is related to those in Ahvaz.

The serial explosions happened just five days ahead of Iran's ninth presidential elections.

Gholam Reza Shariati, deputy governor of Khuzestan, told state television after the four explosions in Ahvaz that the explosions were aimed to damage the country's integrity and undermine the elections.

"We cannot say for now who were behind the attacks, and it is still under investigation, but certainly they cannot reach their aim of spoiling the elections," Shariati said.

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North Korea, Iran in talks on nuke facilities: report
13 June 2005 0806 hrs - CNA/ir

NEW YORK - North Korea and Iran are reportedly in secret talks to build underground bunkers to hide Iranian clandestine nuclear weapons project.

Britain's Sunday Telegraph quoted Japan's Kyodo news agency as saying that Pyongyang and Tehran are discussing whether the North Koreans will build the bunkers for the Iranians or act as advisers to Iranian construction companies. Construction experts had arrived in Tehran to survey Iranian requirements, the report said.

The experts include a senior North Korean specialist in underground construction who helped to design the bunkers that contain Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programmes.

Iran has tried to build its own underground facilities but these were quickly discovered by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

Now, Tehran wants help to build a large new network of tunnels and caves at a secret location in central Iran.

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Venezuelan president blames Bush for Bolivia crisis 2005-06-13 10:25:39

CARACAS, June 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday blamed his US counterpart George W. Bush for the crisis in Bolivia, saying Bush's "poisoned medicine" of free-market democracy has been rejected by Latin America.

Chavez said the protests in the Andean nation were sparked by popular opposition to capitalist free-trade policies advocated by Bush.

He condemned as "poisoned medicine" Bush's speech to the Organization of American States last week, in which he recommended a mix of representative democracy, integration of world markets and individual freedoms.

"That is what is killing the peoples of Latin America ... This is the path of destabilization, of violence, of war between brothers," Chavez said in a "Hello President" weekly television and radio program.

Calling Bush "Mr. Danger," Chavez added, "We, the people of Latin America are saying 'No Sir, Mr. Danger,' your poisoned medicine has failed."

Also in the broadcast, Chavez said Venezuela will take the United States to an international court if it does not extradite an exile with Cuban origin wanted by Caracas for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner.

Chavez said the US authorities had no excuse not to grant the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, who was indicted in Venezuelain the 1970s for involvement in the 1976 terrorist attack on a Cubana de Aviacion airliner which killed 73.

Posada, with Venezuelan citizenship, escaped from prison in 1985. He was arrested in Miami, southern US, in mid May, for having entered the US territory illegally.

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Is there a conspiracy against Russia?
June 10. (RIA Novosti)

MOSCOW, - Many Russians view the eastward advance of NATO and "color" revolutions in former Soviet countries of the CIS as interconnected events. Is there a conspiracy against Russia?

Writer Alexander Prokhanov and Alexander Yakovlev, head of the Democracy foundation, shared their opinions on this score in a weekly, Argumenty i Fakty, in the run-up to Russia Day on June 12.

The West's geostrategic objective is to weaken Russia, to prevent it from becoming a superpower again, and to turn it into a compliant donor. This is why Russia is being surrounded by security cordons and "hostile regimes" are being established around it. "So, there are all the elements of a conspiracy," Prokhanov said.

According to him, the attack against Russia includes the introduction of foreign standards and values in Russian society. "Hollywood is as important as the CIA in this attack, and the eastward advance of NATO is as important as young Russian men wearing T-shirts with the American flag," the writer said. "And the consequences of this attack are unpredictable."

Yakovlev said there was certainly a conspiracy against Russia, but it involved Russian bureaucrats who were "greedy, corrupt and despised their own people." He said the goal of this collusion was personal power and enrichment.

"In the past, we blamed everything on the Jews, [but] now it is the turn of Americans," said Yakovlev, a "hero" of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika. "If you watch Russian television regularly, you get the impression that the U.S. has nothing to do other than plot against Russia."

Yakovlev was shocked by the results of a poll according to which 80% of Russians view America as the country's main enemy. "Russia and the Soviet Union never fought the U.S. Not a single Russian soldier was killed by an American and vice versa," he said. "And now this shocking result. But if you ask anyone what the U.S. did to him or her personally, they will have no answer."

On the whole, if there is a conspiracy against Russia, "the main conspirators are we ourselves," Yakovlev said.

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Blast derails Moscow-bound train
Sunday 12 June 2005, 11:24 Makka Time, 8:24 GMT

A Russian passenger train travelling from the Chechen capital to Moscow has been derailed by an explosion, according to the Interfax news agency.

Emergencies Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said two carriages went off the track about 150km from Moscow, causing injury to about 10 passengers - two of whom needed hospital treatment.

"The train driver said that the explosion took place in front of the engine," Beltsov said, adding that the bomb had left a one-metre deep crater.

Earlier reports had said some passengers heard a loud bang before the derailment. [...]

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Grenade explosions reported near Spain's Zaragoza airport 2005-06-10 18:53:06

MADRID, June 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Two grenades exploded near Spain's Zaragoza airport on Friday after warning call in name of ETA, Spanish media reported.

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A porn star at the presidential dinner
Friday, Jun 10, 2005
By Kelly Boggs

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)--What is the difference between a prostitute and a porn star? A porn star, it seems, can attend a fundraising dinner hosted by the National Republican Congressional Committee. The word is still out on the prostitute.

If all goes as planned, "adult film actress" (can you say oxymoron?) Mary Carey will accompany her boss, hardcore pornographer Mark Kulkis, at the 2005 President's Dinner and Salute to Freedom June 14.

While the purpose of the event is to raise money for the NRCC which, according to its website, exists to support the election of Republicans, one of the main reasons guests are forking over $2,500 a plate is to dine with President Bush.

In the case of Carey and Kulkis, the pair hopes their $5,000 will also translate into positive public relations.

Carey describes herself as an aspiring politician. She was one of 135 candidates who ran for governor of California in the 2003 recall election. Her platform included taxing breast enhancements, making lap dances tax deductible, using porn stars as "goodwill ambassadors" and installing web cameras throughout the governor's mansion.

Prior to the dinner, Carey plans to officially announce her candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of California. "Since Arnold [Schwarzenegger] is a Republican, I thought this dinner would be a great networking opportunity for me."

Carey indicated she was looking forward to meeting Karl Rove because, "Smart men like him are so sexy." She also added she hopes to persuade Rove to support "gay marriage."

Kulkis, president of Kick (expletive) Pictures, sees the invitation as a way of gaining credibility for the porn industry.

"Republicans bill themselves as the pro-business party," Kulkis said, according to WorldNetDaily. "Well you won't find a group of people more pro-business than pornographers." He added, "We contributed over $10 billion to the national economy last year."

Kulkis also sees the dinner as an opportunity to challenge the stereotypes of porn workers. "We're not the freakish demons people make us out to be," Kulkis said. "I'm not a creep with a coke spoon around his neck. I'm a regular guy."

Regular guy? Yes, of course, how silly of me to not realize that all regular guys shamelessly exploit women for profit.

What is going on with the Bush administration? Earlier this year it was the First Lady cracking risque jokes at the White House correspondents' dinner. Now purveyors of degrading hardcore porn will be dining with the party that champions family values. What's next, mud wrestling on the White House lawn?

It is worth noting that Carey is known for more than just her "acting." She also makes appearances at "gentlemen clubs."

In April, Carey (real name: Mary Ellen Cook) was one of five people arrested at a strip club in a suburb of Tacoma, Wash. The Associated Press reported that all were accused of violating an adult cabaret ordinance, which included "getting too close to patrons and others" as well as "touching themselves in a sexual manner."

When asked about the presence of the porn peddlers, NRCC spokesperson Carl Forti downplayed the situation. "There are going to be about 6,000 in the ballroom," he told WorldNetDaily. "It's not like it's some kind of one-on-one dinner."

Forti added, "They've paid their money. No matter what they do, the money is going to help elect Republicans to the House."

Thank you, Mr. Forti, for clearing things up for folks, like myself, that voted for the president this past November. If I understand the explanation correctly, economics trumps ethics. To put it another way, money talks -- even money gained by prostituting the glorious gift of sex -- and everything else walks.

"Lighten up," you might say. "After all Jesus spent time among prostitutes." Yes, He did. However, His purpose was to bring positive change to their lives and empower them to walk away from a degrading occupation. And, I might add, He did not charge them $2,500 for the privilege of dining with Him.

The Bush administration should urge the NRCC to return the pornographers' money and rescind the invitations. It would send the message that while the porn industry might be legal, it is not credible or ethical.

If the porn star shows up at the President's dinner, I think we will have the answer concerning the presence of prostitutes.

Comment: So what happened to the "family values" ticket that Bush ran on in 2004? What happened to "Jesus" and holier than thou? Was it all just for show? Was it all a ploy to manipulate the electorate into thinking that Bush was a decent Christian? We are no prudes, but the hypocrisy here is palpable.

We have read a conservative blogger's commentary on this. He says it shows how Republicans are tolerant. They may not agree with you, but they won't change tables. He says that within the Republican Party:

there’s a Christian ethic that seems to be widely held by Republicans. Christians refer to it by the glib shorthand, “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” It’s a pretty — hold your gasps, please — liberal way of looking at the world. The idea is basically that while I might not approve of what you do, that doesn’t stop me from including you in my life socially, professionally or whatever. This idea means that being a porn star — a profession of which countless conservatives certainly do not approve — does not automatically disqualify a person from being a member of the Republican Party. Republicans might not care for her chosen line of work, but we’re happy to sit down and share a meal with her.

This is, to me, the textbook definition of the word “tolerance.” To be tolerant means that you can coexist with somebody even if you don’t approve of everything that person says, does or believes. It’s the key to a civil society.

We are certain that this is true for a good many Republicans. Unfortunately, it is not so true of the people who are in charge at the moment. Certainly, they'll take money from anyone who contributes, but how tolerant are they of people who see through their lies? Who know that they were responsible for 9/11?

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Police: Miss. Teen Kills Father Over Snack
Mon Jun 13, 2:14 AM ET

McCOMB, Miss. - Authorities say a disagreement over a frozen snack led a McComb teenager to fatally shoot his father and threaten his mother. Curtis McCray Jr., 16, was arrested and charged with murder last week after allegedly shooting Curtis McCray Sr. with a shotgun from about 20 feet away, the Pike County Sheriff's Department said.

Investigator David Haywood said the shooting occurred after the teen was punished for being involved in a minor wreck, and the boy became enraged when his parents returned home eating Sno-Balls and there wasn't one for him.

The teen then allegedly threatened his mother, Gloria, with the gun before speeding away in the family's car and leading authorities on a one-hour high-speed chase through three counties, Haygood said. [...]

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Earthquake Rocks Matata and BOP (New Zealand)
Monday, 13 June 2005
Selwyn Manning - Scoop Auckland

An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter Scale occurred five kilometers from Matata and was felt throughout the Bay Of Plenty.

The Earthquake was shallow with a focal depth of 8 kilometers beneath the earth's surface.

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Magnitude 5.6 Earthquake Jolts Area From Mojave to Mexico

June 13, 2005
By Ashley Powers and Steve Hymon
Times Staff Writers

Residents are shaken, but there are no reports of serious injuries or damage.

A moderate earthquake with an epicenter about 20 miles south of Palm Springs jolted residents from north of the Mojave Desert to south of the Mexican border Sunday morning, but officials said there were no reports of serious injuries or damage.

"We're a two gas station town … and neither one fell down," said Kalev Kulbin, a firefighter with the Riverside County Fire Department's station in Anza, a rural community about six miles northwest of the quake's epicenter in a remote area of dry rolling hills.

The magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook a normally quiet section of the San Jacinto fault zone, Southern California's most active, which runs from near San Bernardino to the southeast near the Salton Sea, said Anthony Guarino, a seismic analyst at Caltech. That placed it within a few miles of a 5.1 magnitude quake that struck on Oct. 30, 2001, and not far from the 6.6 magnitude Superstition Hills quake of 1987, Guarino said.

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Update: New mad cow scare in US
Monday, 13/06/2005

In the United States, cattle producers fear their beef could be shunned again by other countries.

US Agriculture Department (USDA) testing of three suspect cows has returned a positive result for mad cow disease for one of them, as Matt Kaye reports.

"USDA says the possible second US case of mad cow disease was in an older Texas cow that couldn't walk, but they don't know if it was imported, as was a cow of Canadian origin in Washington state confirmed positive for mad cow disease in 2003.

"Brain samples from the latest animal will be sent to the world's top mad cow lab in Weybridge, England, for final testing.

"USDA secretary Mike Johanns told reporters: "I feel very strongly that this information should not impact our discussions with Japan, Korea or Canada."

Mr Johanns argues US beef is safe, though the greatest fear is another global shutdown of markets to the US, as in 2003. [...]

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Three New Bird Flu Cases Reported in Vietnam

Three new cases of the bird flu have been reported in Vietnam. The number of cases since December has now risen to 52. Eighteen of the patients have died from the disease.

One of the infected was described as a 30-year-old man while the other two were women whose age was not disclosed.

Trinh Quan Huan, head of the Health Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, told Reuters, 'All the three have been infected in relation to sick poultry. Their condition is not serious and by now the 30-year-old man has been discharged.'

The two sick women were still being treated in a Hanoi hospital. [...]

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122 Are Killed by Flood and Fire in China
Published: June 12, 2005

BEIJING, Sunday, June 12 (AP) - A torrential flood hit a school in northeast China and swept 91 people - most of them children - to their deaths, while a fire in the south raced through the top floors of a hotel and killed 31 people, the state media reported Sunday.

The authorities in Beijing were struggling to handle the disasters thousands of miles apart, trying to overcome faulty communication in the flood zone and vowing to send an emergency team of investigators to the hotel fire.

Friday's flood inundated a school in Shalan, in China's northeastern province of Heilongjiang. Eighty-seven of the victims were students and the rest were villagers, the official New China News Agency said. Some 352 students - all between 6 and 14 years old - and 31 teachers were in the school, the agency said.

In China's far south, a fire engulfed the top three floors of a hotel, killing 31 people, the state media said. The fire broke out at noon on Friday at the Huanan Hotel in Shantou, a city in Guangdong Province about 180 miles northeast of Hong Kong. It swept through the top stories of the four-story building, the reports said.

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Update: China school flood may have killed 200
13:49 AEST Mon Jun 13 2005

A flood that swept through a primary school in China's north-west may have killed as many as 200 people.

Local resident Liu Zixia, whose own daughter drowned in the flood, says there are 90 refrigerators at the local funeral home and most of them contain the bodies of two children.

The official death toll is 92, including 88 children, with 17 people missing.

The Shanghai Morning Post says villagers staged sit-ins over the weekend and blocked major roads to protest at the inefficiency of the rescue operation.

It says many villagers had already found their children's bodies by the time the rescue teams arrived.

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Death toll rises to 35 in Colombian flood 2005-06-12 11:05:31

BOGOTA, June 11 (Xinhuanet) -- At least 35 people have died in floods and mudslides caused by winter weather in Colombia since April, the local press reported Saturday.

The six latest deaths occurred in the coffee-producing Axis region in the city of Manizales, and in Villa Maria, which were hit by mudslides, official sources said.

The most serious case occurred in Manizalez, capital of Caldas Department, where a mudslide buried two houses, with four persons, including two children, inside.

In the rural area of Villa Maria, two people died after a mudslide toppled two houses while 30 others were evacuated.

In Manizales, two houses collapsed and 50 more were evacuated because of a possible explosion of a vehicle that carried gas tanks.

Weather experts forecast that the rain season in the Andean country will last until late June.

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Rising flood waters on Prairies endanger rare shore birds
Last Updated Fri, 10 Jun 2005 14:45:38 EDT
CBC News

A dramatic rise in river levels is threatening an endangered species of bird that nests on the shores of Lake Diefenbaker in Saskatchewan.

There are an estimated 115 piping plover nests buried in the sand at the Saskatoon-area lake, but more than half of them could be wiped out by rising water levels in the days ahead, said Glen McMaster of the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority.Piping plovers scoot along the sand.

"This water is going to be rising so quickly that many of these nests will be flooded," said McMaster, an ecologist with the watershed authority's habitat protection branch.

The problem stems from the recent torrential rainfalls in Alberta, which are pushing water along the South Saskatchewan River into the lake.

Earlier this week, forecasters predicted that lake levels could rise as much as three metres by the end of June. [...]

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Climate change 'will prolong' drought conditions
Saturday, June 11, 2005. 6:47am (AEST)

Leading environmentalist Professor Tim Flannery has warned that Australia is now entering long-term climate change, which could cause longer and more frequent droughts.

He also predicts that the ongoing drought could leave Sydney's dams dry in just two years.

Professor Flannery, who is the director of the South Australian Museum, has told ABC TV's Lateline that global warming is threatening Australia's chance of returning to a regular rainfall pattern.

"Three major phenomena are depriving Australia of its rainfall," he said.

"One of them is just simply the shifting weather patterns as the planet warms up, so the tropics are expanding southwards and the winter rainfall zone is sort of dropping off the southern edge of the continent."

He says the second phenomena is disturbances in the ozone layer.

"That is causing wind speeds around Antarctica to increase and, again, drawing that winter rainfall to the south," he said.

The third phenomena, which Professor Flannery says is the most worrying, is the recurring El Nino weather pattern.

"That's occurring as the Pacific Ocean warms up, and we're seeing much longer El Ninos than we've seen before and often now back-to-back el Ninos with very little of the La Nina cycle, the flood cycle, in between," he said.

Professor Flannery says that all adds up to back-to-back droughts, and if he had a say he would ration water use.

"If you think there's only a 10 per cent chance that this rainfall deficit's going to continue for another few years, you'd be pulling out all stops to preserve water," he said.

"Because every litre you use now on your car, or your garden or whatever else, you might want to drink in a year's time." [...]

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Heat wave kills at least 65 in India
13 June 2005 0224 hrs - AFP /ls

BHUBANESWAR, India - The death toll due to the heatwave sweeping most of central and southern India climbed to at least 65 on Sunday with 30 new deaths reported from eastern Orissa state, officials said.

At least 54 people have died in Orissa where vast swathes of the rural landscape have seen temperatures soaring to 49 degrees Celsius (120.2 degrees Fahrenheit) The worst affected districts were Titlagarh and Talcher with the elderly and children making up most of the dead, said a state government official who requested anonymity.

He said authorities were investigating whether more people may have died as unofficial reports have put the death toll at over 100 in the state.

Forecasters say the heat wave is likely to last another two days.

The other heat-related deaths were reported in western Maharashtra and southern Andhra Pradesh states where more than 1,400 people died due to severe heat conditions in 2003.

India's seasonal monsoon rains hit the southernmost state of Kerala last week but it would take another fortnight for them to reach the sun-scorched central and northern states, according to weather forecasters.

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Heat wave could be start of summer-long trend
Last Updated Sun, 12 Jun 2005 22:33:51 EDT
CBC News

As people in Ontario and Quebec suffer through the first heat wave of the season, Environment Canada is projecting abnormally high temperatures this summer across the country.

"The dice are loaded to give you a warmer summer, so get used to it," said David Phillips, a spokesman for the agency.The darker the colour on this map, the more likely an area is to see above-average temperatures this summer, according to Environment Canada.

"We're going to see a lot of this, this summer."

It's been more than five days since Southern Ontario and parts of Quebec first faced temperatures that approached or topped 30 C – which felt like 41 because of the humidity.

That's about 10 degrees hotter than normal.

Environment Canada said that on Sunday, temperatures reached 30 C in Toronto, 31 C in Ottawa and 32 C in Montreal. [...]

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How 7,000-year-old temples reveal the elaborate culture of Europe
By Cahal Milmo
11 June 2005

The construction of the temples of Nickern, on the site that is now Dresden, puts the first civilisations of Europe at the forefront of early human endeavour to master nature.

Some two millennia before the first stones were laid for the pyramids of Egypt, humanity's preoccupation, from the forests of Germany to the plains of Pakistan, was ­ both literally and figuratively ­ to place roots in the soil.

Archaeological evidence suggests that by the fifth millennium BC, tribes in regions such as Baluchistan, on the site known as Mehrgarh, in the north- western corner of the Indian sub-continent, and the Samarrans in Mesopotamia were establishing farms and permanent communities.

In Egypt, crops such as flax, cotton and barley were being grown from about 5000BC in villages where herds of sheep and goats were also kept. The discovery of early traces of agriculture in New Guinea from about the same time indicate that across the globe humans were starting to sculpt their landscape.

Dr John Robertson, a Washington University-based anthropologist, said: "There is much of this period that we still don't understand, but humanity was beyond the stage of hunting down prey and smearing itself with the entrails." [...]

Archaeologists have struggled to pinpoint and outline the development of the first farming communities, because the evidence that they left behind is scanty at best. But the picture that is often drawn of the European context is that an increasingly sophisticated farming culture, with its base in Mesopotamia, roughly the area occupied by present-day Iraq and Syria, was radiating outwards across the Middle East towards the outer reaches of Europe.

On the Orkney islands, complex stone structures such as the Knap of Howar, the earliest standing dwellings to be found in north-west Europe, date from about 3500BC.

Stone, however, is durable and tends to stay in place. By contrast, it has been difficult for archaeologists to establish the degree of sophistication of the civilisation that built the Nickern temples ­ more than a millennium before the Orkney structures ­ using timber and earth.[...]

In Nickern, the people who were building their own grand places of worship manufactured ceramic statues of humans and animals ­ as did the inhabitants of Mehrgarh in Baluchistan ­ although there is as yet little evidence of the beliefs that drove this practice.

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Found: Europe's oldest civilisation

By David Keys, Archaeology Correspondent
11 June 2005

Archaeologists have discovered Europe's oldest civilisation, a network of dozens of temples, 2,000 years older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids.

More than 150 gigantic monuments have been located beneath the fields and cities of modern-day Germany, Austria and Slovakia. They were built 7,000 years ago, between 4800BC and 4600BC. Their discovery, revealed today by The Independent, will revolutionise the study of prehistoric Europe, where an appetite for monumental architecture was thought to have developed later than in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

In all, more than 150 temples have been identified. Constructed of earth and wood, they had ramparts and palisades that stretched for up to half a mile. They were built by a religious people who lived in communal longhouses up to 50 metres long, grouped around substantial villages. Evidence suggests their economy was based on cattle, sheep, goat and pig farming.

Their civilisation seems to have died out after about 200 years and the recent archaeological discoveries are so new that the temple building culture does not even have a name yet.

Excavations have been taking place over the past few years - and have triggered a re-evaluation of similar, though hitherto mostly undated, complexes identified from aerial photographs throughout central Europe.

Archaeologists are now beginning to suspect that hundreds of these very early monumental religious centres, each up to 150 metres across, were constructed across a 400-mile swath of land in what is now Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and eastern Germany.

The most complex excavated so far - located inside the city of Dresden - consisted of an apparently sacred internal space surrounded by two palisades, three earthen banks and four ditches.

The monuments seem to be a phenomenon associated exclusively with a period of consolidation and growth that followed the initial establishment of farming cultures in the centre of the continent.

It is possible that the newly revealed early Neolithic monument phenomenon was the consequence of an increase in the size of - and competition between - emerging Neolithic tribal or pan-tribal groups, arguably Europe's earliest mini-states.

After a relatively brief period - perhaps just one or two hundred years - either the need or the socio-political ability to build them disappeared, and monuments of this scale were not built again until the Middle Bronze Age, 3,000 years later. Why this monumental culture collapsed is a mystery.

The archaeological investigation into these vast Stone Age temples over the past three years has also revealed several other mysteries. First, each complex was only used for a few generations - perhaps 100 years maximum. Second, the central sacred area was nearly always the same size, about a third of a hectare. Third, each circular enclosure ditch - irrespective of diameter - involved the removal of the same volume of earth. In other words, the builders reduced the depth and/or width of each ditch in inverse proportion to its diameter, so as to always keep volume (and thus time spent) constant.

Archaeologists are speculating that this may have been in order to allow each earthwork to be dug by a set number of special status workers in a set number of days - perhaps to satisfy the ritual requirements of some sort of religious calendar.

The multiple bank, ditch and palisade systems "protecting" the inner space seem not to have been built for defensive purposes - and were instead probably designed to prevent ordinary tribespeople from seeing the sacred and presumably secret rituals which were performed in the "inner sanctum" .

The investigation so far suggests that each religious complex was ritually decommissioned at the end of its life, with the ditches, each of which had been dug successively, being deliberately filled in.

"Our excavations have revealed the degree of monumental vision and sophistication used by these early farming communities to create Europe's first truly large scale earthwork complexes," said the senior archaeologist, Harald Staeuble of the Saxony state government's heritage department, who has been directing the archaeological investigations. Scientific investigations into the recently excavated material are taking place in Dresden.

The people who built the huge circular temples were the descendants of migrants who arrived many centuries earlier from the Danube plain in what is now northern Serbia and Hungary. The temple-builders were pastoralists, controlling large herds of cattle, sheep and goats as well as pigs. They made tools of stone, bone and wood, and small ceramic statues of humans and animals. They manufactured substantial amounts of geometrically decorated pottery, and they lived in large longhouses in substantial villages.

One village complex and temple at Aythra, near Leipzig, covers an area of 25 hectares. Two hundred longhouses have been found there. The population would have been up to 300 people living in a highly organised settlement of 15 to 20 very large communal buildings.

Comment: Myth tells us that the Earth has seen previous civilisations to that which was born in Mesopotamia. Science more often than not doesn't like to go there. Evidence for the mythological Atlantis or other ancient civilisations is locked away or destroyed. We recently received an email from a man who was on an expedition to Iran in the 1970's. He said they uncovered skeletons with skulls that were shaped similarly to the Ica skulls of Peru. When they notified the authorities, the authorities came out and beat the skeletons to dust.

For a more balanced view of the possibilities of ancient civilisations, see Laura Knight-Jadczyk's book The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive.

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