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Copyright 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

World Trade Tower 'Controlled Demolition'?
MER Editorial

MIDDLEEAST.ORG - Washington - 15 June: MER has never before published this story, this 'conspiracy theory' if you will. Though under much pressure over the years to do so we always held back and never published anything about this 'possibility'...until today that is. But now the fact that a ranking former Bush Administration official, in fact the man who was the top government economist in the Labor Department on 11 September 2001, has now gone public saying 9/11 may have been a historic hoax and the World Trade Towers were 'most likely' destroyed by a 'controlled demolition', causes us to reconsider. This is far too important to simply dismiss at this point. At the least we conclude this story now deserves far more attention that it has gotten in recent days with nearly the entire corporate media focused on Michael Jackson and various frivolities while this paragraph -- published this week on the UPI wire from Washington in fact -- has hardly had any attention:

A former Bush team member during his first administration is now voicing serious doubts about the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9-11. Former chief economist for the Department of Labor during President George W. Bush's first term Morgan Reynolds comments that the official story about the collapse of the WTC is "bogus" and that it is more likely that a controlled demolition destroyed the Twin Towers and adjacent Building No. 7. Reynolds, who also served as director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas and is now professor emeritus at Texas A&M University said, "If demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the World Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an 'inside job' and a government attack on America would be compelling." Reynolds commented from his Texas A&M office, "It is hard to exaggerate the importance of a scientific debate over the cause of the collapse of the twin towers and building 7. If the official wisdom on the collapses is wrong, as I believe it is, then policy based on such erroneous engineering analysis is not likely to be correct either. The government's collapse theory is highly vulnerable on its own terms. Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three buildings."


We think an unprecedented international press investigation is now called for to match this unprecedented historical situation -- one totally independent of all governments, intelligence agencies, and pressure groups; and one bringing together a coalition of major international media from various political and national dispositions. What happened is a totally modern-day sui generis event with the greatest of history-changing consequences. Taking place so soon after Ariel Sharon came to power in Israel, and the Bush/Cheney Administration put so many former Israeli-Jewish lobby 'Neocons' in key power positions throughout Washington was suspicious from the start. But in the past we thought these suspicions had more to do with what the U.S. and Israeli governments really knew in advance, and what steps they were fast preparing to take whenever they had the excuse to do so regardless of the actual facts.

But now we have to add to the larger picture that there is quite a long history of major political/military deceptions and hoaxes originating both with the Israelis and from Washington. To mention just a few that history has so far unraveled includes the sinkings of the Maine and the Lusitania, the Lavon Affair, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the deceptions behind the 1967, 1982 and Gulf Wars, the Iraq-Kuwait-US invasion, the 'Oslo Peace Process', and most recently the 'Stealth Assassination' of Yasser Arafat after the assassinations of the senior Hamas leadership. Add to this historical brew quite a few other very suspicious developments that have come to light including the jubilant Israelis caught after photographing the WTC's collapse, all the unexplained developments in Lebanon, the blatant lies and cons surrounding the Iraq invasion including Colin Powel's testimony before the Security Council, and looking ahead at the moment the considerable preparations to take down Iran one way or another. And so we conclude that such an unprecedented situation on top of such already proven lies and deceptions dateline Washington, London, and Israel, all call for an unprecedented coalition of credible major media from many countries to come together for a White Paper investigation of 9/11 focusing on the following specific issues:

1) What really happened on 9/11 and who knew what in advance?

2) Had the U.S. government prepared in advance to exploit such an event as 9/11, whether the full story is now known or not, in order to pursue geostrategic goals decided upon in advance regardless of the actual facts of the situation?

3) What is known about the behind-the-scenes contacts and coordination between the U.S. and Israeli governments, and the crucial role played by the leading American Jewish Neocons who held key power and intelligence positions in Washington at the time of 9/11?

Comment: We extend a hand to the people at MER and say "Welcome aboard".

The left in the US has by and large refused to discuss the possibility that 9/11 was in inside job. They have tended to dismiss it out-of-hand as "conspiracy theory" -- and readers of this page will likely have a good idea of all the baggage that term carries with it. That is why we think this change of heart on the part of MER is significant.

A refusal to consider the possibility that Bush and his friends were behind the attacks of 9/11 and the deaths of nearly 3000 people has hampered the left and other progressive groups in fighting against the imposition of fascism on the American people. Without the understanding that the Bush Administration is capable of planning and carrying out an attack of that scale on its own people, one is seriously underestimating the opponent, permitting them to get away with murder. And we mean that literally. It has been particularly frustrating to see because groups like MER have done so much good work in cataloguing the litany of horrors brought upon people the world over by these same forces while denying that Cheney, Rumsfeld, and company would be capable of doing the same thing at home. What kind of a blind spot is that!

It raises another point: the appeal to and trust in authority. The triggering element in MER's decision to begin discussing 9/11 in these terms was the revelation that a former member of the Bush Administration has questions about the collapse of the three towers of the WTC, citing evidence that it seems more like a demolition than a collapse caused by the planes. Given no plane hit Building 7, that has always been an important hole in the official theory. So the evidence has been there for people who were willing to do the research and figure it out for themselves, who were not waiting for some authority figure to give the "conspiracy theory" his OK.

The 9/11 Truth movement has been bringing forward this evidence for years, presenting in great detail all the points where the data and the official story don't mesh. The evidence raised by Reynolds and so disturbing to MER has been discussed publicly for a long time. MER, unfortunately, appears to have changed its position because of the remarks of Mr. Reynolds, that is, because of who raised the questions, not based upon a reading of the evidence itself.

We do not think that this changes the importance of MER's decision. Perhaps they have had their doubts about the official story but were unwilling to discuss them in public because of a fear of being ostracised or dismissed as "conspiracy theorists", the death knell for "serious researchers".

We also applaud MER for seeing the important role of Israel in these events, a role that many 9/11 researchers refuse to admit. Of course, given its primary focus, MER is well-placed to know about the deceptions and false flag operations of Israeli intelligence.

Now that MER has decided there is enough evidence to begin to publicly raise these questions, we hope that other groups, such as ZNet and CounterPunch to name but two, will bring this same information to their readers, giving it the stamp of legitimacy that so many progressives in the US seem to need before confronting the biggest swindle and horror story of our time, before being able to open their eyes to reality and to see and think for themselves. To understand what is happening in Iraq today, one needs to understand 9/11. To understand how and why the last two presidential elections were rigged and stolen, one needs to understand 9/11. To understand that the situation in the US is far worse than the left has been willing to admit, one needs to understand 9/11. To understand how deeply the fascist beast has its talons sunk into the American political body, one needs to understand 9/11. To understand the true nature of the US/Israeli alliance, one needs to understand 9/11.

We hope, as well, that Mr. Reynold's remarks will be heard by the many Republicans who no longer recognise the GOP in its current incarnation, that they will find the courage to speak out against the ideologues who have taken over their party, and join in a movement to impeach Bush and those in his administration who are responsible for the war crimes committed in their name around the world and the murder of 3000 people at home. The full public hearing of the truth and the prosecution of the quilty for their crimes is the only true honour that can be paid to the victims.

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FBI inspector general's report: more evidence of government complicity in 9/11 attacks
By Patrick Martin
15 June 2005

A report released June 9 by the FBI's Office of the Inspector General raises new questions about the role of the US government in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The internal FBI study provides several important revelations about how US intelligence agencies ignored and even suppressed warnings in the period leading up to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Press accounts published within hours of the report's release gave a very distorted picture of the document, which runs to more than 400 pages. No follow-up reports, based on a thorough study of the text, have yet appeared in the mass media.

The initial media commentary invariably voiced the now-standard claim that the FBI and CIA were guilty of a "failure to connect the dots," due to bureaucratic lethargy, individual incompetence, inter-agency rivalries, even poorly performing software systems. This presentation of events is utterly unserious.

The US intelligence apparatus is the most powerful instrument for spying in the world, not a group of Keystone Cops. If it ignored warnings and suppressed information, a legitimate presumption is that it did so willfully. The question must be posed: did one or more agencies or high-level officials provide protection for known Al Qaeda associates who ultimately participated in the hijack-bombings?

Comment: A better and more accurate question might be: Did one or more agencies or high-level officials invent or enable Al-Qaeda in order to assign blame for the hijack bombings for which they themselves were responsible?

Exactly who knew what, and at what level of the government, is not yet clear. But the political benefits of 9/11 for the Bush administration are undeniable. It used the terrorist attacks as a lever to swing American public opinion behind a major shift in policy, both foreign and domestic. Without 9/11, it would have been politically impossible for the government to embark on military interventions in Central Asia and the Middle East and launch an unprecedented attack on civil liberties at home.

Comment: The designs for invasion and occupation of the Middle East were drawn up years before 9/11 in the PNAC document, and all they needed was a "new Pearl Harbor" type event in order to implement their plans. Further proof that the September 11th attacks were not only "allowed" by elements within the Bush administration, but likely planned and carried out by the very same cabal...

The Phoenix memo

The FBI internal report examines the three best-known episodes in which the bureau, which is the lead agency for counterterrorist activities within the United States, missed or ignored important signals of the coming terrorist attacks. Two of the cases involved local FBI agents who voiced suspicions that were disregarded or suppressed by FBI headquarters. In the third case, the CIA deliberately kept the FBI in the dark—with the assistance of certain FBI officials.

The first instance is the electronic memo of July 10, 2001 from Kenneth Williams, an FBI agent in Phoenix, Arizona, noting the number of students with ties to radical Islamic fundamentalists enrolled at local aviation training schools, and suggesting that a nationwide canvass of these schools be carried out to determine if there was a pattern.

The second is the bureau's response to the arrest of Zaccarias Moussaoui, an Islamic fundamentalist who was detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service after his attempts to obtain training on a Boeing 747 aroused suspicions at a Minneapolis-area flight school. Moussaoui was detained on immigration charges in early August 2001, but FBI headquarters blocked efforts by Minneapolis agents to pursue an investigation that could have identified other Al Qaeda operatives at US flight schools.

The third is the case of Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, believed to have participated in the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 77, which hit the Pentagon on 9/11. Despite being on a CIA watch list because of connections to Al Qaeda, the two lived openly in San Diego, California for a year or more. The CIA only notified the FBI of their presence in the US on August 27, 2001, 20 months after their arrival, and only two weeks before September 11.

Comment: All the "belief" in the world that these two men participated in the hijacking of AA flight 77 is irrelevant when one considers that all the available objective evidence clearly indicates that it was NOT a 757 that hit the Pentagon.

The chapter in the inspector general's report on the Phoenix memo (called an Electronic Communication or EC, in FBI jargon), reveals that the document was sent to the attention of six people at FBI headquarters and two more at the New York Division. The recipients included personnel and leadership of both the Usama Bin Laden Unit and the Radical Fundamentalists Unit, the latter comprising a separate group of agents assigned to investigate Islamist militants not directly affiliated to Al Qaeda.

None of the agents who received the EC took any serious action. Several did not even read it. The report attributes the inaction and inattention to the lack of resources committed to anti-terrorist activities in the summer of 2001. For instance, there was only a single research analyst assigned to the FBI's Bin Laden Unit in 2001, and she was transferred to another unit in July 2001.

One agent at a field office who was sent the Phoenix EC replied that it was "no big secret" that Arab men were receiving aviation training in the United States. (Williams's concern, however, was not over "Arab men," but rather individuals affiliated with radical Islamic fundamentalists who publicly justified terrorist attacks on US targets.) The FBI's New York Field Office, which had the lead role in counterterrorism, flatly rejected Williams's proposal for a more in-depth study of the flight school issue.

In passing, the inspector general's report notes that there was already considerable information "contained in FBI files about airplanes and flight schools at the time the Phoenix EC was received at FBI HQ." It mentions four examples, implying that many more could be cited.

One of these examples is the following: "In August 1998, an intelligence agency advised the FBI's New York Division of an alleged plan by unidentified Arabs to fly an explosive laden aircraft from Libya into the World Trade Center."

This previously unreported warning directly contradicts the claims, made repeatedly by Bush administration officials, especially Condoleezza Rice, that "no one could have imagined" hijacked airplanes being used as flying bombs against US targets.

The Moussaoui case

The entire chapter on Moussaoui, 115 pages long, is redacted from the version published last week, at the order of the federal judge who has been presiding over Moussaoui's terrorism trial. Only a few references to Moussaoui survive in other parts of the report.

A fuller analysis of this episode awaits the release of the redacted chapter, after Moussaoui's sentencing. But the gist of the situation is that local Minneapolis FBI agents asked for permission to conduct further inquiries, including searching Moussaoui's computer, while supervisors at FBI headquarters cited the necessity for a warrant from a special court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The supervisors refused to apply for the FISA warrant, saying the case did not meet the court's criteria.

In one passage, the inspector general's report cites a top FBI lawyer's statement that "he had never seen a supervisory special agent in Headquarters so adamant that a FISA warrant could not be obtained and at the same time a field office so adamant that it could." The report also notes that the Minneapolis field office sought an "expedited FISA," which "normally involved reports of a suspected imminent attack or other imminent danger."

While FBI supervisors were blocking action on Moussaoui, a CIA liaison officer in Minneapolis was reporting his arrest to the CIA. George Tenet, the CIA director, was briefed on the matter.

By the end of August, French intelligence officials had provided the US government with information on Moussaoui's connections to Islamic fundamentalist groups, but the FBI still took no action. Moussaoui, who was being held on immigration violations, was not even transferred from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to FBI custody until after September 11.

The San Diego hijackers

By far the most damning material in the FBI inspector general's report relates to Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, two of the 9/11 hijackers who lived in the San Diego area for much of 2000 and 2001. The report details at least five instances during this period when the FBI could have or should have become aware of their presence and purpose.

The two men entered the United States on January 15, 2000, flying from Bangkok, Thailand to Los Angeles International Airport. Mihdhar was a participant at a January 5, 2000 meeting of Al Qaeda operatives in Malaysia, where he and others were photographed by an unnamed intelligence service. These photos were supplied to the CIA.

The US National Security Agency had separately identified Hazmi as an associate of Mihdhar. The two men were tracked by the CIA traveling from Malaysia to Thailand.

CIA cables contemporaneously discussed Mihdhar's travel and the fact that he had a US visa in his Saudi passport. So intensive was the surveillance that agents obtained a photocopy of the passport and visa stamp and delivered it to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Two months later, the Bangkok CIA station identified Hazmi as Mihdhar's traveling companion and reported that he had traveled on from Bangkok to Los Angeles on January 15, 2000.

The most critical information about Mihdhar and Hazmi was withheld from the FBI for more than a year and a half. The FBI was informed about the Malaysia meeting as soon as it happened, and even about Mihdhar's presence at it. But there was no mention of his passport with a multiple-entry US visa, giving him easy access to American territory, where the FBI had the principal responsibility for counterterrorism. Nor did the CIA tell the FBI that Hazmi had actually entered the country, which would certainly have triggered an alert. The CIA itself did not put either man on any other security watch list.

Two weeks after their arrival in Los Angeles, Mihdhar and Hazmi moved to San Diego, apparently at the urging of a new acquaintance, Omar Bayoumi, a man once under FBI surveillance and believed to be an operative or asset of the Saudi intelligence service. He invited the two newly arrived Saudis to San Diego, where they rented an apartment in the complex where he lived. Bayoumi co-signed the lease and even wrote a check for the rent because the two had only cash.

In May 2000, the two men rented a room from another San Diego man who was an FBI informant, and who reported their arrival and their first names to his handler. The handler did not ask the last names or show any other interest.

The informant is not named in the inspector general's report, but he has been identified in previous press accounts as Abdussattar Shaikh, another Saudi immigrant. (Both Shaikh and his FBI handler, now retired, refused to speak with the FBI inspector general probing the bureau's response to 9/11, a remarkable circumstance that is recorded in the report only in a footnote, and without explanation.)

The actions of Hazmi and Mihdhar strongly suggest that they were being protected and were themselves aware of it. They conducted themselves, not as underground conspirators, trying to keep one step ahead of the most powerful spy apparatus in the world, but as men seemingly indifferent to threats to their security.

According to the FBI report: "... they did not attempt to hide their identities. Using the same names contained in their travel documents and known to at least some in the Intelligence Community, they rented an apartment, obtained driver's licenses from the state of California Department of Motor Vehicles, opened bank accounts and received bank credit cards, purchased a used vehicle and automotive insurance, took flying lessons at a local flying school, and obtained local phone service that included Hazmi's listing in the local telephone directory."

Even though this is not the first time the actions of Hazmi and Mihdhar have been detailed, one rubs one's eyes in astonishment at this passage. Hazmi could only have made himself more obvious if he had taken out an ad in the Yellow Pages under "T" for terrorist. But the CIA, which knew who he was, chose not to expose him to the FBI.

In June 2000, Mihdhar left the US, not returning until July 4, 2001, when he flew into John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Hazmi lived in San Diego for several more months, then moved to Phoenix and eventually the East Coast.

Following the bombing of the USS Cole in December 2000, interest in Mihdhar and Hazmi revived. A US intelligence source identified one of the participants in the January 2000 Malaysia meeting as the ringleader of the Cole attack, and the FBI, which had lead responsibility for the investigation, began to review all those who attended that meeting.

However, in discussions in January 2001 and again in May and June 2001, CIA officials did not tell the FBI that Mihdhar, now known to be associated with the suspected organizer of the Cole bombing, had a US visa, or that Hazmi, Mihdhar's associate, had entered the United States.

Much of this material in the report is difficult to follow, partly because of bureaucratic complexities, partly because of the large amount of redaction, apparently to conceal the nationality of the intelligence agency that had monitored the Malaysia meeting (most likely the Israeli Mossad). The inspector general's report cites cooperation by Malaysian, Thai and Yemeni security services without redaction.

Comment: This little tidbit, buried deep in this story, is most telling. Here we have two known al-Qaeda terrorists monitored by an "unnamed intelligence agency" (read Mossad) at a meeting in Malaysia, who then pass on this information to the CIA. The men travel freely back and forth and within the U.S., even though they are known terrorists, and the CIA withholds this information from the FBI. This strongly suggests that elements within the CIA, with direct help from the Israeli secret service, set up and were protecting these men from being apprehended by the FBI before they were needed to be used as plausible culprits for the 9/11 attacks.

The CIA finally told the FBI what it knew about Mihdhar and Hazmi on August 27, 2001, five days after the FBI had discovered independently, on August 22, that Mihdhar might be in the US, and the agency had opened its own investigation. The New York FBI office was notified, but the job of tracking down Mihdhar was assigned to a novice agent as his first intelligence case, an indication of the low priority given to the investigation. Only perfunctory steps to locate Mihdhar and Hazmi had been taken by September 11, when the two men boarded the American Airlines jet.

Indications of a CIA cover-up

The FBI inspector general's report reveals for the first time that the CIA not only failed to inform the FBI about Mihdhar, but that CIA officials intervened to suppress a memorandum drafted by an FBI agent detailed to the CIA-run Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC), who wanted to notify the FBI about the suspected terrorist with a US visa. The blow-by-blow account of this incident in the FBI report strongly implies a CIA cover-up.

The FBI agent, dubbed "Dwight" in the inspector general's report, drafted the memorandum, a Central Intelligence Report (CIR), on January 5, 2000, only hours after the Malaysia meeting had taken place. The same day, a CIA desk officer, dubbed "Michelle," relayed instructions from her supervisor barring distribution of the CIR to the FBI.

Three hours later, "Michelle" drafted and circulated an internal CIA cable which summarized the information on Mihdhar, including his multiple-entry US visa. This cable declared that his travel documents had been copied and passed "to the FBI for further investigation." This was a lie, which was later used by the CIA to substantiate its initial claim that it had notified the FBI about Mihdhar.

This cable could not possibly be an innocent mistake, since it was sent out after its author had relayed the instructions to "Dwight" that his memo to the FBI not be sent. Under questioning from the inspector general, no one at the CIA or the FBI could corroborate the claim in the cable by "Michelle" that the CIA had notified the FBI about Mihdhar—a claim that was diametrically opposed to what the CIA was doing in practice.

The report notes that the CIA initially withheld information about the existence of the January 2000 memorandum by "Dwight" from the inspector general's office. Quoting from the report:

"In February 2004, however, while we were reviewing a list of CIA documents that had been accessed by FBI employees assigned to the CIA, we noticed the title of a document that appeared to be relevant to this review and had not been previously disclosed to us. The CIA OIG [Office of the Inspector General] had not previously obtained this document in connection with its review. We obtained this document, known as a Central Intelligence Report (CIR). This CIR was a draft document addressed to the FBI containing information about Mihdhar's travel and possession of a US visa. As a result of the discovery of this new document, a critical document that we later determined had not been sent to the FBI before the September 11 attacks (see Section III, A, 4 below), we had to re-interview several FBI and CIA employees and obtain additional documents from the CIA. The belated discovery of this CIA document delayed the completion of our review."

The aggrieved tone is unmistakable. First the CIA withheld the document from the FBI, then the CIA attempted to conceal the existence of the document from the FBI's postmortem probe.

The cover-up was followed by a curious epidemic of amnesia. No one who worked on, received or read the draft CIR from "Dwight," including "Dwight" himself, could remember anything about it. Again the report:

"When we interviewed all of the individuals involved with the CIR, they asserted that they recalled nothing about it. Dwight told the OIG that he did not recall being aware of the information about Mihdhar, did not recall drafting the CIR, did not recall whether he drafted the CIR on his own initiative or at the direction of his supervisor, and did not recall any discussions about the reason for delaying completion and dissemination of the CIR. Malcolm said he did not recall reviewing any of the cable traffic or any information regarding Hazmi and Mihdhar. Eric told the OIG that he did not recall the CIR.

"The CIA employees also stated that they did not recall the CIR. Although James, the CIA employee detailed to FBI Headquarters, declined to be interviewed by us, he told the CIA OIG that he did not recall the CIR. John (the deputy chief of the Bin Laden Unit) and Michelle, the desk officer who was following this issue, also stated that they did not recall the CIR, any discussions putting it on hold, or why it was not sent."

Again, the tone of incredulity is clear. None of these people remember anything, and one of them actually refuses to be interviewed! And this is not about a minor matter, but concerns the first report on a man who was one of the 19 hijackers on 9/11.

A politically motivated whitewash

The FBI inspector general's report is, like all previous official investigations into the events of 9/11, a cover-up for the state apparatus. These investigations share one common feature: they completely exclude, a priori, any question of government complicity in terrorist attacks. Instead, we have the familiar litany of breast-beating over mistakes, complacency, inattention and inadequate resources.

Despite the all-purpose explanation that "mistakes were made," names are never named in any of these probes. No one is ever held accountable. No one is shamed or punished.

There is a definite reason for this: the US government does not want to generate a Watergate syndrome, in which punishment meted out at a lower level leads to people implicating higher-ups and focuses attention on the role of top officials.

There can hardly remain any serious doubt that a section of the American intelligence apparatus functioned as the guardian angels for at least some of the suicide hijackers. The question is: why?

Until there is an investigation of 9/11 by a genuinely independent body—one wholly free of the US military/intelligence apparatus—it is impossible to specify precisely the role of the government in these events.

Comment: Since the Sept 11th coup was pulled over on the American people, the power of the Bush Reich has become so consolidated and entrenched that it is purely wishful thinking to believe that a genuinely independent investigation into the events of 9/11 will ever happen.

But on the basis of a political analysis alone, it is clear that 9/11 did not come as a bolt from the blue. As in the investigation of any crime, a critical question to be posed is: who benefits? For powerful sections of the US ruling elite and its state apparatus, a major terrorist attack on US soil was anticipated, desired and, most probably, facilitated in order to provide the necessary climate of fear and patriotic fervor to implement a sweeping program of political reaction, both at home and abroad.

Without 9/11, there would be no US occupation of Iraq, putting an American army squarely at the center of the world's largest pool of oil. Without 9/11, there would be no US bases across Central Asia, guarding the second largest source of oil and gas. And without 9/11, the Bush administration would have been unable to sustain itself politically, faced with a deteriorating economy and widespread opposition to its tax cuts for millionaires and social measures to appease the fundamentalist Christian Right.

The Democratic Party is deeply implicated, supporting both the war in Iraq and the cover-up of the role of the state in the 9/11 attacks. The Clinton administration sought to provoke a confrontation with Iraq in 1998, but had to back off in the face of public opposition to a new war in the Middle East—opposition that was only overcome in the wake of September 11. Moreover, the connection between US intelligence agencies and reactionary Islamic fundamentalists like bin Laden goes back nearly two decades, involving Democratic and Republican administrations alike.

Despite its tactical differences with the White House and squabbles over positions of influence, the Democratic Party accepts the basic program of the Bush administration. Should the Democrats return to power, they would not withdraw US forces from Iraq or Central Asia, nor rescind Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, nor repeal the USA Patriot Act or attacks on democratic rights.

Comment: While this story still endorses the "official version" that 19 crazed Arab hijackers flew planes into the the Pentagon and Twin Towers, the FBI inspector general's report appears to be a kind of damage control of one U.S. intelligence agency protecting itself from the other.

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Morgan Reynolds' Nine Eleven Inside Job: Corporate Media Silence is Golden
Kurt Nimmo
Tuesday June 14th 2005, 6:55 pm

Are you surprised? The Morgan Reynolds story about nine eleven being an "inside job" has received nada coverage beyond the original UPI story—that is to say nada coverage in the corporate media (it was covered immediately by Conspiracy Planet and Collective Bellaciao and I'm sure other alternative news sites). Google news search results are pathetic. You'd think this would be a HUGE story—a former Bushite declaring it is distinctly possible America was attacked by its own government—but instead we get the following (posted on the KLAS TV site):

The Michael Jackson verdict is was the lead story across the world. The Jackson trial was found not just on tabloids but also more high-minded newspapers.

Since the story broke yesterday, the Jackson melodrama has returned 1,784 results on the Google News search engine.

Meanwhile, real news—news of national and international significance—is scoffed at by corporate toadies, for instance Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley. "Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence," Kinsley declared sarcastically about the Downing Street Memo story two days ago. Meanwhile, Michael Getler of the Washington Post deemed people concerned about Bush and crew planning an invasion, mass murder, and occupation without good reason "wing nuts" out on the edge of respectable opinion.

"What can reading USA Today tell us about the Downing Street Memo (DSM) story? Zip. Zilch. Nothing. At least that was the case for the first 38 days after the memo was published in London's Sunday Times. USA Today published not a word about it until June 8, 2005," writes Cynthia Bogard. "The Bush Administration successfully stymied almost all mainstream coverage of the issue until Reuter reporter Steve Holland's brave question at the joint Bush-Blair news conference on June 7. They had a lot of help from the White House press corps which, despite 19 daily briefings, asked Bush spokesperson Scott McClellan exactly two questions about the memo between May 1 and USA Today's first mention of it on June 8."

"USA Today chose not to publish anything about the memo before today for several reasons, says Jim Cox, the newspaper's senior assignment editor for foreign news. 'We could not obtain the memo or a copy of it from a reliable source,' Cox says. 'There was no explicit confirmation of its authenticity from (Blair's office). And it was disclosed four days before the British elections, raising concerns about the timing,'" writes Editor & Publisher.

Does Cox think Bush's poodle was going to hand deliver the memo to his office and also provide "confirmation of its authenticity"? And the fact British elections coincided with the release of the memo is completely irrelevant. Cox was, of course, fishing for excuses. The DSM is nothing less than an embarrassment for the corporate media because it so slavishly (and transparently) served as Bush's propaganda organ for perpetuating war crimes, telling us straight-faced such absurdities as Osama and Saddam were buddies, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the people who destroyed Iraq's weapons said otherwise, Saddam shopped around for yellowcake, model airplanes were deadly drones, Atta met with an Iraqi secret agenda in Prague, and other whoppers, all lies and dissembling chatter.

"If there's one thing left wingers love, it's a good, old-fashioned conspiracy. Give them a small nibble of a 'claim' of wrong doing against the current White House, conservatives, or Republicans, and the left wing fringe will pounce into action. Facts? Data? Evidence? Those items are simply minor inconveniences to their 'analysis' of right wing efforts to rule the world, steal elections, plant White House reporters, or a host of other perceived dirty deeds," scribbles Bobby Eberle for GOPUSA.

Claim my foot. Anybody with two brain cells to rub together understands Bush and crew lied, fabricated "intelligence," and planned the "war" against Iraq years ago. But since it wasn't covered by the "liberal" New York Times and the one-time (still-time no doubt) CIA asset (Operation Mockingbird) the Washington Post it is little more than an "old-fashioned conspiracy" by the "left wing fringe." Facts ain't facts unless they appear in the corporate media. I once had a former New York Times stringer tell me as much.

Naturally, the Morgan Reynolds story will go nowhere because the corporate media will ignore it. Down here in the nether regions of the "left wing fringe," the story will simply be more evidence that the Bush explanation for nine eleven is hogwash and it will add fuel to the speculation that the attacks were an inside job. Morgan Reynolds' story is so damaging that the corporate media will ignore it—crossing its fingers and hoping it will die—and shills like Michael Kinsley and Michael Getler will not even make sarcastic jokes about it like they did with the DSM story. For the corporate media, silence is golden.

For the rest of us, it is another arrow in our quiver.

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Just a Coincidence? Four of Jessica Lynch's Rescuers Have Died Mysteriously
Picasso Dreams

A few nights ago I saw a preview of Saving Jessica Lynch. It was all I could do to contain the gray matter.

I was extremely busy and without access to a computer during the "rescue." A week after Pfc. Lynch was returned to American custody, I heard incredulous stories of a heroic young soldier, Rambo-style shooting at the enemy until out of bullets, and who endured stab wounds and torture until she was dramatically rescued in perfect made-for TV fashion.

And then the BBC aired the infamous documentary, essentially labeling the Pentagon's version of events as a work of fiction. I trust the BBC over the Pentagon.

Sure enough, Pfc Lynch has selective amnesia and cannot remember the events of her capture and rescue, though that hasn't stopped her from a million dollar book deal with the NY Times most recent plagiarist du jour, Rick Bragg.

When the Department of Defense insisted on keeping up their official version of the rescue, I knew that inevitably some of Lynch's rescuers would be hushed. After all, here is a woman who endured a few broken limbs from a vehicle accident and is rewarded with a million bucks, while her rescuers continue to live without toilets and running water in a Depleted Uranium wasteland. Her Bronze Star has outraged many veterans. At some point even the threat of an untimely demise will not keep some disgruntled military folks from talking.

Eerily enough, four of Pfc. Lynch's rescuers and colleagues have met an early demise.

Petty Officer First Class David M. Tapper died of wounds received in Afghanistan. He took part in the rescue.

Lance Cpl. Sok Khak Ung was killed in a drive-by shooting. He was also part of the rescue team.

Spc Josh Daniel Speer died when his car crashed into some trees for no apparent reason. He was part of the rescue team.

Kyle Edward Williams, who worked in the same company as Lynch, died of "suicide".

"A Tucson man was shot to death outside a West Side hotel Wednesday after breaking into a vehicle and being confronted by its owner, an Army soldier, who shot him in the back and fled, police said Friday.

The soldier, Spc. Kyle Edward Williams, 21, was found dead outside San Diego on Thursday and officials believe he committed suicide with one of the seven firearms he had been carrying with him.

He left no note to explain the suicide or why he fired six shots at Noah P. Gamez, also 21, after spotting the man stealing an ice chest from his Jeep.

Williams spent seven months in the Middle East as part of the 507th Maintenance Company, the same unit as Pfc. Jessica Lynch, Army officials said.

He didn't have any disciplinary or mental health problems before he left Fort Bliss, Texas, at the end of September for 20 days of leave before moving to a new military job, the officials said."

But this statistically improbable occurrence is just a coincidence.

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House Votes to Limit Patriot Act Rules
Associated Press
June 16, 2005

WASHINGTON - Advocates of rewriting the USA Patriot Act are claiming momentum after the House, despite a White House veto threat, voted to restrict investigators from using the anti-terrorism law to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.

Wednesday's 238-187 vote came as lawmakers ramped up efforts to extend the Patriot Act, which was passed quickly in the emotional aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. When Congress passed the law, it included a sunset provision under which 15 of the its provisions are to expire at the end of this year.

Since the Patriot Act passed, liberals and libertarian-oriented conservatives have pressed for changes, citing privacy and civil liberties concerns. The administration has said weakening of the act would draw a veto from President Bush.

"No question, this is a real shot in the arm for those of us who want to make changes to the USA Patriot Act," said Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., sponsor of the provision that would curtail the government's ability to investigate the reading habits of terror suspects. He said the vote would help "rein in an administration intent on chipping away at the very civil liberties that define us as a nation."

The vote reversed a narrow loss last year by lawmakers concerned about the potential invasion of privacy of innocent library users. They narrowed the proposal this year to permit the government to continue to seek out records of Internet use at libraries.

The House is debating a $57.5 billion bill covering the departments of Commerce, Justice and State. The Senate has yet to act on the measure, and GOP leaders often drop provisions offensive to Bush during final negotiations.

The Justice Department said in a letter to lawmakers that as of March 30, federal investigators had not used the Patriot Act to obtain library or bookstore records but that the authority provides "an important tool for investigating and intercepting terrorism."

Comment: The authority to obtain library or bookstore records has supposedly never been used by the Bush administration. So basically, the Neocons' current argument goes something like this: "We absolutely must have this important tool in the war on terror because we never use it".

"It bodes well that the first vote Congress has taken on the Patriot Act this year has been in favor of liberty and freedom," said Gregory Nojeim, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Supporters of rolling back the library and bookstore provision said that the law gives the FBI too much leeway to go on fishing expeditions based on what people read. Innocent people could get tagged as potential terrorists based on what they check out from a library, critics said.

"If the government suspects someone is looking up how to make atom bombs, go to a court and get a search warrant," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

Supporters of the Patriot Act countered that the rules are potentially useful and argued that the House was voting to make libraries safe havens for terrorists.

"If there are terrorists in libraries studying how to fly planes, how to put together biological weapons, how to put together chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, ... we have to have an avenue through the federal court system so that we can stop the attack before it occurs," said Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla.

Comment: Terrorists in libraries studying how to fly planes?! Perhaps Feeney has never actually been to a library. The last time we checked, the kind of expertise required to carry out an attack of the order of the events of 9/11 was not by any stretch of the imagination available in public libraries. No one can learn how to skillfully fly a huge airliner by reading a book or two or watching a video. It is also ridiculous to suggest that one could acquire the necessary knowledge to construct a nuclear weapon by simply spending some time at the local library.

Last year, a similar provision was derailed by a 210-210 tie after several Republicans were pressured to switch votes.

In the meantime, a number of libraries have begun disposing of patrons' records quickly so they won't be available if sought under the law.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told Congress in April that the government has never used the provision to obtain library, bookstore, medical or gun sale records.

But when asked whether the administration would agree to exclude library and medical records from the law, Gonzales demurred. "It should not be held against us that we have exercised restraint," he said.

Authorities have gained access to records through voluntary cooperation from librarians, Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller said.

Comment: Oh, now we understand. The Bush Reich hasn't needed to use the law because some librarians have willingly cooperated. Now that far more librarians are refusing, something must be done to force them into compliance. But don't worry - today's developments are certainly no setback for the Neocons. Bush will veto the "weakened" act, and find some other way to give himself even more power. So much for exercising restraint...

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Enabling Evil: Bush's Willing Executioners
June 14, 2005

In 1996 Daniel Jonah Goldhagen published Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. His thesis is that the mass murder of Jews was not done on the quiet by a few Nazi fanatics. Instead, Goldhagen writes, by their complicity ordinary Germans were willing participants in the slaughter.

In other words, the German people as a people were guilty as well, because they accepted and permitted the slaughter of an ethnic group.

Goldhagen's thesis has had rough sledding. German newspapers in the Third Reich did not report on the progress of the Holocaust. Few Germans had the means or were willing to take the risks of listening to British broadcasts, which had no reporters on the German scene to investigate extermination rumors. By the time the Holocaust was underway, Hitler and the Gestapo had an iron grip on Germans and the German military. The potent German war machine had fallen victim to Nazi hubris and bitten off more of Russia than it could chew. Opposition to Hitler rose within the military. Generals hatched plots to assassinate Hitler, but every attempt failed.

If generals commanding armies could not overthrow Hitler, it is unclear what ordinary Germans could have done. They could not vote Hitler out, as the Enabling Act had made him a dictator. The Gestapo had put a stop to civil liberties, and there was no free press. And, of course, there was no Internet reporting hard facts that the toady German media covered up.

The situation in America today is quite different from wartime Germany. There is still a free press even though it is a toady corporate press without heart or courage.

Comment: Can a toady corporate press without heart or courage really be considered free?

There is an opposition party even thought it is a toady opposition.

Comment: There is an opposition party composed of a lot of Americans who who trying to fight the Bush regime. The problem is that any real efforts are undermined either by COINTELPRO operations or by the Bush government simply rewriting and/or bypassing laws in order to grow their power.

Bush is not a dictator even though a toady Congress has permitted Bush to accumulate power in the executive branch at the expense of both civil liberties and the separation of powers established by the Constitution. Americans have an abundance of hard facts available to them from a world press via the Internet. Americans have the weapons inspectors' reports, expert testimony, and now top secret British government documents leaked to the Sunday Times (London). The documents reveal that the British government regarded Bush's premeditated invasion of Iraq as illegal and had concerns that Prime Minister Blair and cabinet ministers could be brought up on war crime charges for participating in naked aggression. The documents reveal that Bush's decision to invade Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with the reasons he gave the US Congress and the American people and that the "intelligence" he cited to justify his invasion was concocted and fabricated.

If Germans were complicit, as Goldhagen claims, how can Americans avoid the charge of complicity in Bush's crimes against Iraq when Americans are in possession of such damning facts and have the power of impeachment? Why do Americans tolerate a liar and a war criminal as their president?

Why has Congress voted still more money for an illegal war launched in deception?

Why does the US military permit its human and physical resources to be squandered in a pointless war that has no strategy for victory and no timetable for withdrawal?

How can America be so dominated by a lame-duck president that it loses all sense of itself, its honor, and its purpose?

Americans are complicit in the deaths and maiming of thousands of American soldiers for no valid purpose. Americans are complicit in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi women and children as "collateral damage." No one knows how high the number is because the Bush administration does not regard Iraqi lives as worth counting.

Bush's war of deception has devastated Iraq. Cities and towns are in ruins. Infrastructure is destroyed. Half the population is unemployed. Pollution and disease are rampant.

By continuing to defend Bush's lies, right-wing talk radio, Fox "News", the Weekly Standard, National Review, the Wall St Journal editorial page, the NY Post, the NY Sun and the rest of the neocon establishment are Bush's willing executioners. The neocon media differs not at all from the Nazi propaganda machine. The neocon media fosters the same hatred and blood lust: kill the Iraqis, invade Syria, bomb the Iranians, devise "useable nukes" to subdue the Muslims, kill the American traitors who criticize our fuhrer, bend the world to our exceptional will.

How much more shame and complicity will Americans allow Bush and his neocon brownshirts to shovel onto their shoulders before Americans say "enough!" and remove from office the war criminal who has sullied America's good name?

Paul Craig Roberts has held a number of academic appointments and has contributed to numerous scholarly publications. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. His graduate economics education was at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

Comment: Perhaps the answers to these last questions depend upon the continuing success of the Bush regime's use of the "fear factor" in controlling the American populace.

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US senator stands by Nazi remark
Thursday 16 June 2005

A US senator has refused to apologise for comparing the actions of US soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to those of Nazis, while others have decried or defended the mandate and method used to hold prisoners there.

US Senator Dick Durbin on Wednesday refused to apologise for comments he made on the Senate floor referring to Nazis, Soviet gulags and a "mad regime" like Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Illinois Republican Party chairman Andy McKenna had demanded he apologise.

"Senator Durbin's comments come as a great disservice to our military personnel in Guantanamo," he said. "They are also a great disservice to all US soldiers and veterans who have fought, and continue to fight, to overcome evil regimes and spread democracy around the world."

Durbin did not plan to apologise for the comments, spokesman Joe Shoemaker said.

"This administration should apologise to the American people for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorising torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure," Durbin had said in a statement on Wednesday evening.


During a speech on Tuesday, Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, quoted from an FBI agent's report describing detainees at the naval base in Cuba as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings."

Durbin is not alone in his criticism.

Human-rights groups have long accused the administration of unjustly detaining suspects at the prison camp. Amnesty International last month called the detention centre the "gulag of our times" [...]

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Antiwar protesters face federal conspiracy charges
June 17, 2005

The U.S. federal government is prosecuting four Catholic peace activists from Ithaca, N.Y., after a state court jury refused to convict them last year for their antiwar protest at a local U.S. military recruiting station. The federal charges made against the activists include "conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States," a crime punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

"The federal government is clearly trying to make an example of these people and to intimidate future nonviolent protestors by charging these folks with conspiracy," said Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University, New Orleans, and an advising attorney for the activists.

On March 17, 2003, in protest of the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq, Danny Burns, Peter DeMott, and sisters Clare and Teresa Grady poured small bottles of their own blood on the walls, floor and an American Flag in the foyer of a military recruiting center in Lansing, N.Y.

Charged with criminal mischief, the activists, who have been dubbed the St. Patrick's Four, spent four days in jail and in April 2004 were tried at the Tompkins County Courthouse. During their weeklong trial, the defendants, all of whom have children, said they carried out their protest as Catholics and parents who wanted to warn members of the military and potential recruits about the illegality and immorality of the war in Iraq.

"As parents, we know the love of our children and hold deeply the belief that we are all God's children. It is never OK to kill another of God's children and it is especially grievous to send one's children, our children to another land to kill other children," said Clare Grady, a mother of two.

The jury voted 9 to 3 in favor of acquittal, leading some to conclude the case of the St. Patrick's Four was closed. But in February, a federal grand jury charged the four activists, all of whom were arrested during a previous demonstration at the Lansing recruiting station, with two counts of criminal trespass, destruction of government property and conspiring to induce "by force, intimidation and threat, officers of the United States to leave the place where their duties as officers of the United States are required to be performed."

Last month, Thomas J. McAvoy, senior U.S. district judge for northern New York, rejected the defendants' motion for dismissal and set a trial for Sept. 19 in Binghamton, N.Y. In his May 8 decision, McAvoy also ruled the defendants would not be allowed to cite international law as a justification for their actions at the recruiting station.

"This court offers no opinion on the war in Iraq as it is entirely irrelevant to this matter. Assuming an illegal war, it does not provide a justification for violating the criminal laws of the United States," he wrote.

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American Airlines Flight Diverted to Ill.
By Associated Press
Published June 14, 2005, 8:36 AM CDT

CHICAGO -- An American Airlines jet flying from New York to Seattle was diverted to Chicago on Monday evening after a suspicious item was found on board, authorities said. It turned out to be a radio.

A passenger saw the item in one of the plane's restrooms and told a flight attendant, said Chicago Police spokesman David Banks. The police bomb and arson unit and the FBI determined it was "an older-looking, Walkman-type radio," Banks said.

"It was a big to-do over nothing," Banks said. "If it weren't so serious, it would be laughable."

The 158 passengers and six crew members were evacuated after the plane landed at 8:30 p.m., said airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan. No one was hurt. [...]

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Black church leaders embarrass Bush over African aid shortfall
16 June 2005
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

Leading black US pastors have embarrassed the administration by questioning the sincerity of its commitment to increasing aid to Africa, dealing a blow to White House efforts to boost support for Republicans in a traditionally hostile constituency.

In a letter to the White House this week, the pastors demanded that George Bush give "ardent support" to Tony Blair's proposal that the leading industrialised countries would double official aid to the world's poorest continent over just five years.

A meeting with Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, in May appeared to confirm the administration's commitment to the Africa cause, but last week Mr Bush made clear he would stick to the smaller amounts specified by the so-called Millennium Challenge account, unveiled in 2002.

This ties aid to "good governance" and the embrace of market economics by recipient countries. The goal was to double core US development aid by 2005. But disbursements have been held up by bureaucracy, and pressures arising from the huge US budget deficit.

The Rev Eugene Rivers, one of the pastors, told the Los Angeles Times some of his colleagues were upset that Mr Blair, who had "stood by the President on Iraq at enormous political cost to himself ... did not appear to be receiving the same level of support when it came to Africa". In less than a month, Mr Blair hosts the Gleneagles G8 summit at which aid for Africa will be a key topic, and the President's move threatens to take some of the gloss off the recent agreement by the wealthiest industrial nations, based on a deal between Britain and the US. It forgives $40bn (£22bn) of official debt owed by 18 of the world's poorest countries, many in Africa.

The US is also at odds with most of its G8 partners for its reluctance to act on global warming, the other big theme of the summit. [...]

A rift with black religious leaders would be a political blow for Bush strategists. Republicans have fared poorly with African-American voters. But in 2004 Mr Bush significantly improved his showing compared to 2000, as he courted church communities, stressing his experience as a born-again Christian.

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Venezuela's Chavez Warns Soldiers of Plot
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday June 15, 2005 4:16 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned soldiers on Tuesday that government adversaries were trying to provoke divisions within the military and plotting to assassinate him.

Speaking at a Caracas military base, Chavez said that a military parade held annually on June 24 was canceled this year due to intelligence reports pointing to a purported plot to kill him. [...]

Chavez said the military parade had been canceled because radical government opponents were planning an attempt on his life that day. He said the purported plot did not involve active military personnel.

"The evidence is strong, the risk is very high," said Chavez.

Opposition leaders have scoffed at the president's repeated allegations that numerous assassination plots have been hatched by radical government opponents, including ex-army officers.

Critics claim Chavez uses the allegations to draw public attention away from this South American nation's most pressing problems, including a nationwide housing shortage, widespread poverty and high crime.

Chavez purged the military of suspected opponents following a short-lived 2002 coup.

"It's not from within the armed forces that are planning an assassination," Chavez said.

Chavez did not identify specific groups opposed to his left-leaning rule that might be behind the alleged campaign aimed at dividing the military.

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Indictment Shows Washington Is 'Israeli-Occupied Territory'

Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin's espionage case has uncovered a spy nest at the top
by Justin Raimondo
June 15, 2005

The indictment [PDF file] of Larry Franklin, the 58-year-old analyst who headed up the Pentagon's Iran desk, marks a milestone in the FBI's four-year-plus probe into Israel's covert activities in the U.S. The investigation predates 9/11 and involves some of the leading figures associated with planning and agitating for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The players: a hardline faction of the administration committed to "regime change" not only in Iraq, but throughout the Middle East. Skilled at the art of bureaucratic infighting and relentlessly determined, even as the neocons' plan for the invasion and occupation of Iraq was being implemented they were planning to put the next phase of their grand plan for the Middle East into operation: a confrontation with Iran.

At the Iran desk, Larry Franklin was the perfect patsy, the neocons' gofer who was in a position to not only fight for their policies but also to provide them with sensitive intelligence. And that's where the bureaucratic turf wars that raged throughout this administration, between the neocons and the "realists," crossed the line into… treason.

The indictment lists two unindicted co-conspirators, identifying them only as "CC1" and "CC2," but we know from numerous news accounts that they refer to Steve Rosen, AIPAC's longtime public policy director, and Keith Weissman, the lobby's Iran specialist. For two years, the indictment charges, Franklin "did unlawfully, knowingly, and willingly conspire, confederate, and agree, together with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to communicate, deliver, and transmit information relating to the national defense to CC-1 and CC-2, persons not entitled to receive such information, with reason to believe that such information could be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation."

That foreign nation is the state of Israel, a country passionately interested in U.S. policy toward Iran – and aggressively pursuing a campaign to glean all the information it can about the making of that policy in a clear effort to shape it. The indictment shows how the Israelis used AIPAC for that purpose. [...]

What was in it for Franklin? He is widely believed to be an ideological neoconservative and passionately devoted to Israel's cause, but there was also the chance for a promotion. After proving his usefulness to the Israelis, by the winter of February 2003 Franklin and Rosen were already talking about getting him a position on the National Security Council staff: Franklin would be "by the elbow of the president," said Rosen. Franklin asked Rosen to "put in a good word" for him, and Rosen said "I'll do what I can," remarking that their previous meeting had been "a real eye-opener."

From what we know about this particular breakfast meeting, Franklin handed over a draft of a presidential "finding," an internal policy paper that would set out the parameters of our actions vis-à-vis Iran. The indictment further relates that Franklin "disclosed to [Rosen] and [Weissman] national defense information relating to" the document.

Franklin and his AIPAC friends certainly acted like espionage agents. At one point, they met at Union Station in Washington, D.C., early in the morning:

"In the course of the meeting, the three men moved from one restaurant to another restaurant and then finished the meeting in an empty restaurant."

If these were just three guys out to discuss U.S.-Israel relations over lunch, why all the cloak-and-dagger stuff? They obviously suspected they were being followed: with justification, as it turns out. Franklin insisted on faxing materials to Rosen's residence rather than the AIPAC office: no need to take unnecessary risks.

They were careful when it came to the possibility of being followed but threw caution to the winds when talking on the phone. They probably never suspected the FBI was listening: after all, in order to tap someone's phone, the cops have to go to a real live judge and come up with some compelling evidence that it's necessary. Apparently, the FBI had no trouble meeting that standard.

Rosen was apparently quite a braggart: in a conversation with a journalist about the purloined internal policy paper, he confessed, "I'm not supposed to know this" and averred that it was a "considerable story." His braggadocio may be his undoing, however, as this conversation helps make the case that Rosen knew he was breaking the law.

Rosen and Weissman soon passed their prize acquisition directly over to the Israelis: on Aug. 15, 2002, Naor Gilon, chief political officer at the Israeli embassy in Washington, met with Franklin at a Washington, D.C., restaurant, where Gilon explained to Franklin that "he would be the appropriate person with whom the defendant should talk" – that is, if he had anything really pressing to say. A month later, Franklin called the embassy, and they handed him over to Gilon. They met again on Jan. 30, 2003, after months of playing phone tag, at an unspecified location near the Israeli embassy building in Washington, where they discussed Iran's nuclear program. They met regularly from February through May and throughout the summer, sometimes at the Pentagon Officers Athletic Club; the focus seemed to be on Iran's nuclear program and the U.S. response. At one point, Gilon arranged for Franklin to meet with "former" top Mossad official Uzi Arad, now head of the Herziliya Center in Israel. The three of them chatted about Iran's nukes.

There are intriguing references sprinkled throughout the indictment that provide the skeleton of a spy thriller: in late February of 2004, Gilon and Franklin exchanged phone calls "about certain foreign organizations." In June, they met at a Washington, D.C., coffeehouse where "Franklin provided [Gilon] with classified information he had learned from a classified United States government document related to a Middle Eastern country's activities in Iraq." Later that month, Gilon brought along "another official from Foreign Nation A," namely Israel, and Franklin provided additional information about the military situation in Iraq, as well as copies of a speech and a "list of questions that a senior United States government official was to give that day or the next before the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee." This has to mean the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations closed briefing on Iraq given by Colin Powell on June 23. At some point between December 2003 and June 2004, the two met at "an unknown location," where Franklin spilled the beans about "a weapons test conducted by a Middle Eastern country." [...]

After the June 26 meeting, Rosen and Weissman talked between themselves about the gold mine of information they had in Franklin: Rosen marveled at the "highly classified" nature of what he had told them and remarked that it was "quite a story." He also told Weissman: "Well, look, it seems to me that this channel is one to keep wide open insofar as possible." Weissman said he was going to be taking Franklin to a baseball game, to which Rosen replied: "Smart guy. That's the thing to do."

Yeah, especially if you're milking this guy for all the classified information he can lay his hands on. Befriend him. Make him feel comfortable, like part of a team – Israel's team, that is.

Aside from the unremarkable fact that Israel is spying on its alleged best friend, stealing our secrets and trying to influence policy in any way it can, why is any of this important? Because, as Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball point out in Newsweek:

"Franklin was known to be one of a tightly knit group of pro-Israel hawks in the Pentagon associated with his immediate superior, William Luti, the hard-charging and impassioned protegé of former House speaker Newt Gingrich. As deputy assistant secretary of defense for Near East affairs, Luti was a key player in planning the Iraq war. He, in turn, works in the office of Undersecretary Douglas Feith, a career lawyer who, before he became the Pentagon's No. 3, was a sometime consultant for Likud, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's political party."

Feith's staff is a nexus of neocon activity in this administration: they were the spark plugs behind the "Office of Special Plans," which fed phony "intelligence" on Iraq's alleged WMD to the White House and Congress via Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress and other equally dubious sources.

When the CIA wouldn't cooperate in cooking the intelligence according to the neocons' recipe for war, they simply set up their own parallel intelligence-gathering "rogue" operation, a "lie factory," as one article describing its activities put it, churning out half-baked rationales for invading Iraq.

This is a favorite neocon method: acting under color of authority of the U.S. government when they have no authorization or legal right to do so. [...]

Did the neocon network in Washington allow itself to become an instrument of Israeli espionage against the United States? Franklin's arrest and the disclosure of his activities – or some of them – in the indictment raises this question, albeit not for the first time. Who is "DoD employee A" – the one who referred Rosen to Franklin to begin with? And what about "DoD employee B," who inexplicably turned up at Franklin's first meeting with Rosen and Weissman?

It's just not credible that Franklin is alone in his disloyalty. He was and is part of a larger group actively committed to a very specific ideological bias, one that valorizes the role of Israel in spurring the U.S. to bolder action in the Middle East. That this agenda redounds to the advantage of the Israelis is due, we are told, to the natural confluence of interests, and is not the result of a determined effort – overt or covert – on the part of the Israelis. However, Franklin's arrest and the public revelation of his spying on behalf of Israel demonstrates once and for all that these denials are hogwash.

As AIPAC's top officials snuck around our nation's capital with Franklin in tow, meeting clandestinely and whispering secrets in the dark, that organization's role as a cover for Israeli covert activities was crystal clear to the FBI agents tailing them – and now we know it, too.

As AIPAC reached into the Pentagon and turned a highly placed official into a spy, promising to use the lobbying group's legendary influence to secure him a big promotion, Pat Buchanan's famous description of Washington as "Israeli-occupied territory" no longer seems over the top.

In ripping up and exposing Israel's Washington spy nest, federal prosecutors will be disturbing all kinds of unpleasant nocturnal creatures. If you pick up a big rock, you never know what's going to scuttle out – and this trial, scheduled to start Sept. 6, is sure to give us a few surprises. One thing that won't surprise me, however, is a widening investigation – and more indictments.

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U.S. freezes military ties, shipments to Israel
Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Bush administration has begun to block arms shipments to Israel and suspend joint programs after the two allies failed to resolve a dispute over arms sales to China.

U.S. officials said the Defense Department and Israeli representatives were unable to draft a memorandum of understanding that would halt Israeli weapons sales to China. They said the two sides could not agree on a supervision mechanism for Israeli arms exports.

Israel has agreed to increase government supervision of arms exports, the long-held turf of the Defense Ministry, Middle East Newsline reported.

But officials said the Israeli delegation refused to accept U.S. demands for increased access to Israeli negotiations with foreign militaries. The countries were said to have included India and Singapore, two leading clients of Israel's defense industry.

"This is certainly an issue that is being discussed between the United States and Israel, and we have made our concerns about the sale and transfer of defense equipment and technology to China known to Israel," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said on Monday.

Whitman refused to confirm a report by the Israeli daily Haaretz that the administration has demanded details of more than 60 military and security deals with China. He also did not address the Pentagon boycott of senior Israeli defense officials.

"We continue also to raise concerns with our allies, our friends and partners and look for them to take responsible approaches to arms sales to China, too," Whitman said. "This is broader than just Israel."

The failure to draft the MoU appeared to have heightened the crisis between the Pentagon and Israel's Defense Ministry. The Pentagon has boycotted high level meetings with Israeli officials since July 2004 in wake of Israel's efforts to upgrade the Harpy unmanned aerial vehicle for China.

Since then, the Pentagon has embarked on a process of escalating sanctions. They included the suspension of Israeli participation in the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Officials said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sought to resolve the crisis during his visit to the United States in late May. They said a week after Sharon's return, the United States informed Israel that it had been suspended from the JSF program.

In 2005, the administration began holding up arms deliveries to Israel, such as night-vision systems, and delayed a scheduled strategic cooperation session. Officials said the U.S. Army has stopped relaying information on a project to develop the Hunter-2 UAV, based on an Israeli-supplied platform. Northrop Grumman has been the prime contractor of the project for the U.S. Army.

The Pentagon has also refused to engage with three Israeli defense officials. They were identified as Defense Ministry director-general Amos Yaron, head of the ministry's New York-based procurement division Yekutiel Mor, and Sibat arms export chief Yossi Ben-Hanan. These officials were said to have been responsible for Israel's defense relationship with China.

Israeli defense sources said the Defense Ministry has responded to all of the Pentagon requests and still envisions an MoU by August 2005. But they acknowledged ministry opposition to the U.S. demands for increased transparency of arms deals and the dismissal of the three officials.

"The Defense Ministry is holding discreet and pertinent talks with the United States to solve the misunderstandings, which it does not believe need to make public," an Israeli Defense Ministry statement said.

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U.S. Grad Students Seen Hostile To Israel
The Jewish Week
Gary Rosenblatt - Editor and Publisher

New study reveals 'young elites' connect with Palestinian cause; study's method rapped.

A new survey of attitudes toward Israel among graduate students at top U.S. universities offers a disturbing, if not frightening, picture of increasing sympathy for the Palestinian cause and blame on the Jewish state for the lack of peace.

The report being issued this week by The Israel Project, a Washington, D.C.- based group seeking to strengthen Israel's image, finds that "tomorrow's leaders … are hostile to the Jewish state," a growing trend that could jeopardize American foreign policy toward Israel in the near future.

Titled "How The Next Generation Views Israel," the report was written by Frank Luntz, a pollster who has conducted a number of surveys on the attitudes of young people toward Israel and Jewish life for The Israel Project and other groups.

It was based on "face-to-face group interviews" Luntz conducted with nearly 150 students under the age of 30 in New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles. They attended law, business, journalism or government programs at Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Georgetown, George Washington, Johns Hopkins, the University of Chicago, Northwestern and UCLA.

Many of the students come from homes sympathetic to Israel, Luntz reported, but through exposure to university professors and mainstream media have grown "impatient" with Israel and emotionally connected to the Palestinian cause, to the point of rationalizing Palestinian suicide bombings and coming to see Israel as a "burden" to the United States rather than "an ally."

What's more, Luntz found a thin line between anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment among "these young elites," noting that "they may not be in the 'Zionism is racism' camp, but they're not all that far away." He said the students "view any U.S. support of Israel as generated by wealthy Jewish special interests rather than as a reflection of the national interest."

Compounding the problem, the report said, is that the students, predominantly left-of-center politically, are so opposed to President Bush that his support for Israel is seen as a negative factor.

In arguing that Israel is losing the image war, Luntz said the graduate students do not talk about Mideast issues with their Jewish friends, who they perceive as "indoctrinated" and "emotional."

In the eyes of the graduate students, Luntz said, "to support Israel as a Jew is to be narrow-minded and one-sided. To support the Palestinians is to be progressive and thoughtful."

He noted that many of the students said they changed their attitudes toward the Mideast conflict during their college and post-college years as they "learned more," in their words, about the situation from professors, Palestinians they met on campus and the media. The New York Times is the top source of news information, and the BBC is widely seen as well.

The students believe the American media is biased toward Israel, according to the report, and that Palestinians are making a greater effort toward peace than Israel.[...]

About half of the 50-page report offers advice on how to counter the dire situation, and Luntz urged pro-Israel groups and individuals to "express genuine recognition" that Palestinians have suffered, and to blame the problem on corrupt Palestinian leaders.

"If there is such a thing as a magic bullet" in terms of an effective response, Luntz said it is the fact that "America's future leaders hate Hamas and Islamic Jihad," and don't expect Israel to negotiate with them.

The message, according to Luntz, should be that the security fence and other forms of Israeli self-defense are necessitated by the violence committed by these terror groups, and that once they are removed, peace prospects will improve.

Luntz's report contained one overt jab at the approach of organizations like Israel21c, a U.S. group that emphasizes Israeli accomplishments in science, technology, medicine and other areas, and whose slogan is "Israel beyond the conflict."

In recommending advertising that emphasizes peace, tolerance and hope, Luntz criticized ads that only promote Israel's innovative accomplishments.

"You can't get beyond the conflict," he wrote, "until you get beyond the conflict," adding that focusing on scientific breakthroughs "will go unheard unless and until your audience hears and believes that Israel is a proponent of peace, an advocate for justice and a force for compromise."

An official of Israel21c said he only disagreed with the "proportionality" of Luntz's assessment, noting that "we need to address both the political and the positive pieces; it's not a matter of one or the other."

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The shocking face of anti-Semitism
By Marie Woolf
16 June 2005

At a West Ham cemetery yesterday: the 117th attack on a Jewish graveyard in 15 years

The graves of the two children - Rachel, aged 13, and Abraham, aged four and a half - had stood undisturbed side by side for almost 150 years. But yesterday their headstones lay smashed, the Hebrew inscriptions, etched on fine Portland stone, crumbling in the dust.

Only yards away on an intricately crafted tomb, the words "Jew Boy Dead. Ha Ha" were scrawled in marker pen. Swastikas defaced the headstones of some of the 87 graves desecrated at West Ham cemetery in east London, where generations of Jews have been buried since the mid-19th century.

Vandals wreaked a trail of destruction, smashing and kicking over headstones in an act which has shocked the Jewish community. The main target of the attack appeared to be a grand circular mausoleum, built in the 19th century by the Rothschilds, one of Britain's most prominent Jewish families.

It is the latest in a rising number of racially motivated attacks on Jewish cemeteries across Britain. This was the 117th Jewish cemetery desecrated in Britain since 1990 and the third to be discovered in a week.

On the wall of the Rainham Jewish cemetery in Essex, it was discovered yesterday, two giant swastikas and the words "Yids out" had been daubed in paint. Last week, vandals smashed 100 gravestones in a historic cemetery in Manchester.

The desecration is part of a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, including violent attacks on children and orthodox Jews. There were 532 anti-Semitic incidents last year, the highest since records began 20 years ago.

Earlier this week, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance said it was "concerned at the considerable and steady increase of anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom."

"While these incidents usually mirror tensions in the Middle East, representatives of the Jewish communities report there now seems to be a higher level of background violence against these communities," the report by the European human rights watchdog said. "Although manifestations of anti-Semitism continue to come from extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi groups, an increasing number ... is reportedly coming from Muslim fundamentalist groups," the report said.

"It has now regrettably become commonplace to desecrate Jewish cemeteries," said a spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which offers security advice to the Jewish community. "These acts must be treated seriously by the police and the judiciary should pass deterrent sentences in these cases." [...]

A clue to the identity of the those responsible was found on the side of an elegant mausoleum, where the words "A Hitler" and several swastikas were scrawled. A number of graffiti "tags", including "snow-man and Greedy" were scribbled alongside, suggesting that teenagers were involved. The scrawled swastikas were the wrong way round.

Members of the Jewish community said they had no doubt the motive was anti-Semitic. Directly next door to the Jewish cemetery is a communal graveyard that was left untouched.

Comment: Most acts such as these, when not part of a ploy by certain Jewish groups to garner sympathy for the abusive acts of the Israeli government, are not evidence of anti-Semitism, but rather evidence of racism. Jews are but one religious grouping in the UK that suffers such attacks and discrimination from the neanderthal section of society, but because we all, (including ordinary Jews) have been forced by the Jewish lobby groups and much of the mainstream press to relive the Jewish Holocaust on an almost daily basis and to believe that, because Jews are special, their suffering is somehow more meaningful than the suffering of non-Jews, we are all extremely sensitive and susceptible to the phrase "anti-Semitism".

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Defectors say China running 1,000 spies in Canada
Last Updated Wed, 15 Jun 2005 19:14:03 EDT
CBC News

Two Chinese defectors say the Chinese government has a network of more than 1,000 spies and informants in Canada.

The two men were diplomats in Australia, where they are now seeking political asylum. They say Australia and other countries such as the United States have Chinese spy networks operating inside them too.

The defectors say the spies and informants have orders to disrupt the Falun Gong movement, which China calls "a dangerous cult," and to steal commercial and scientific secrets.

Chen Yongleen, the first secretary of the Chinese consulate in Sydney, defected two weeks ago. He was followed a short time later by How Fungjing, a low ranking Chinese intelligence officer.

Speaking to Australian journalists, Chen and How accused the Chinese government of maintaining a large network of spies in Australia primarily to harass Falun Gong members and steal commercial secrets.

"They were monitoring the activities and report back and they take some activities against the democracy movement and the Falun Gong people," said Chen.

The defectors went on to say that the spying network extends to countries with large Chinese immigrant populations, including the U.S. and Canada. How said he'd worked in a group in the Chinese Public Security Bureau known as the 610 office, a special unit created in 1999 to monitor and disrupt the activities of the Falun Gong overseas.

How says Canada has more spies operating in it than any other country.

Businessman Joe Wang is convinced he's already had a run-in with Chinese intelligence agents in Toronto.

Wang is manager of NTDTV, a satellite television network that beams programming critical of the government directly into China.

Two months ago Wang says his Toronto office began receiving envelopes through the mail filled with a mysterious white powder. The outside of the envelopes were marked with the Chinese symbol for death and the words Falun Dafa.

"I'm pretty sure the Chinese consulate is behind this," Wang said.

The envelopes were turned over to the police. The powder in the first turned out to be boric acid.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa dismisses Wang's allegations and the allegation of the Chinese defectors in Australia as "pure fabrication."

However, former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya, finds them credible. During the mid-1990s, Juneau-Katsuya oversaw the CSIS Asian-Pacific desk. He says if Canadian intelligence agencies weren't preoccupied with Islamist terrorists these days they would realize the greatest threat to Canadian security comes from China.

Particularly in the theft of scientific and commercial data.

"We estimated at CSIS that we were losing $1 billion a month, $12 billion a year, due to industrial espionage," he said.

But Juneau-Katsuya does find the allegation that there are over 1,000 Chinese spies in Canada hard to believe. He says its more likely the majority are not trained spies but paid informants. But he says there's plenty of evidence to prove that Chinese intelligence agents use illegal methods to spy on and disrupt the Falun Gong.

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Counterterrorism tool takes aim at deceptive e-mails
Last Updated Tue, 14 Jun 2005 16:38:18 EDT
CBC News

A new approach to tracking e-mails has the potential to help nab terrorists, Canadian computer scientists say.

Every day, counterterrorism experts use a top-secret electronic intelligence gathering network called Echelon to intercept hundreds of thousands of private e-mails, faxes and phone calls, including in Canada.

Traditional intelligence surveillance programs search for a list of key words. But the large volume of e-mails and unsophisticated approach of searching for key words that terrorists likely know to avoid has hampered counterterrorism efforts.

At Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., David Skillicorn and his colleagues applied a new technique to tracking e-mails.

Computer scientists have long theorized that analysing word patterns in e-mails could reveal key figures in a group communicating over the net, without having to read each message.

"In 500,000 e-mails, you can't do anything without some kind of automated tool," Skillicorn said. "The trick is to pick out the top 1,000, even 100, you might want to look at it more detail."

Skillicorn's group honed in on a common feature of deceptive behaviour: people leaving a "signature" through their carefully chosen words when they practise to deceive. They've developed a surveillance program to detect deceptive word patterns in suspicious e-mails.

The team was able to test their approach after federal energy regulators in the U.S. unexpectedly posted 1.5 million e-mails from employees of the disgraced American energy conglomerate, Enron, on the web.David Skillicorn.

Since the Enron e-mails were sent before, during and after the accounting crisis, Skillicorn's team was able to track changes in the correspondence.

As the crisis deepened, the e-mails contained fewer personal pronouns, more negatives and simpler sentences as writers attempted to distance themselves from what they were saying, the researchers found.

"Mostly it's about looking for word patterns and seeing which ones are the most unusual," the computer scientist said.

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Arm border guards, Senate report urges
Last Updated Wed, 15 Jun 2005 20:07:57 EDT
CBC News

Canadian customs officers will be armed, cross-border shoppers will be able to bring back a lot more stuff duty-free, and a new Windsor-Detroit crossing will be built by 2011, if the government accepts the advice of a committee of Senators.

The 10th report of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence was released Wednesday in Ottawa.

Among the 28 recommendations of the report, titled "Borderline Insecure":

- The federal government should arm many of its 8,300 customs staff, who now carry only batons and pepper spray, unless it is prepared to station RCMP officers at Canada-U.S. border crossings.

- Within five years, Canadians shopping in the U.S. for as little as an hour should be allowed to bring back $2,000 US worth of goods without paying tariffs.

- The Canada Border Services Agency should stop the practice of letting inspectors work alone on some shifts at 139 land crossings by Dec. 31, 2007.

- Student employees and other casual workers with little training should not be allowed to work alone as border inspectors.

- The federal government grant itself special powers to "expedite" the completion of a new border crossing linking Windsor, Ont., with Detroit, Mich., by 2011.

The union representing customs officers welcomed the report, saying its recommendations are long overdue and would substantially increase both national security and the safety of its members. [...]

Comment: From Vive le Canada website:

The United States of America is committed to getting other countries to give U.S. authorities access to their private records and data banks, dictate how they run their countries, push for law and rights reforms that they would not consider in their own country and the US reciprocates in limited ways when it is convenient to them. This is due to their belief that the end justifies the means. The United States of America first, foremost and always number one. No matter what damage it causes as along it does not happen to them.

The question remains when all has been said and done, has Canada lost its sovereignty over its foreign and domestic affairs as to international trade due to its close trading relationship with the United States? That Canada can not exercise its democratic rights and move freely without fear because it has not gotten approval from and risking offending our neighbor / friend / family to the south of us. Have Canadian producers and suppliers become so tied to the high profits margins in the US that it is no longer profitable to look after Canada's own domestic market? Do Canadians really need to give up their privacy without legal protection and recourse in US courts? Are we to integrate all of Canada's resources, military as well as political and economically with the United States to the point that we will lose control over our national resources and economical systems because we have a smaller population then the US as well as a means to support US security? Will Canada in the end become to be a US protectorate and non citizens of North America with no voting rights or influence over our own destiny except for our local municipalities?

The matter of Canada/US relations the Canadian people have been the losers and their wishes for their country have rarely been followed by those entrusted to express those wishes. It seems to suggest, too, that US leaders have always had, and expressed, a clear interest in subordinating Canadian wealth and freedom to the needs and wants of the USA.

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N.B. army base sprayed with toxic chemicals
Last Updated Mon, 13 Jun 2005 22:00:55 EDT
CBC News

A herbicide considered three times more toxic than the cancer-linked Agent Orange was sprayed on a New Brunswick army base in 1966, CBC News has learned.

The government has only acknowledged the harm caused by spraying Agent Orange in 1966 and 1967 at CFB Gagetown. The Canadian military is paying compensation in two cases connected to the spraying.

But according to a U.S. army report, the lesser known but more deadly cousin of Agent Orange known as Agent Purple was also sprayed at the base.

Richard van der Jagt, a leukemia specialist at the Ottawa General Hospital, said a study published in the journal Nature estimates that Agent Purple contained three times the cancer-causing material found in Agent Orange.

"Purple is even more laced with dioxin. Dioxin is something we know to be cancer causing," he said.

"These are very toxic agents to human health, something to be very concerned about in public health."

U.S. forces sprayed Agent Orange to defoliate large areas of forest in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971. Use of the herbicide was stopped in 1971 after it was discovered to contain dioxin.

The Canadian military used the spray to clear foliage to prevent fires during artillery training and to clear the view for soldiers.

The federal government also allowed Americans to test the herbicide at the Canadian base during the Vietnam war.

CBC News has also learned that before Agent Orange was tested at Gagetown, the most dangerous ingredient of the herbicide was used as early as 1956 at the base.

A military briefing note to the New Brunswick cabinet shows the ingredient 2,4,5-T was sprayed on thousands of acres.

"Agent Orange and 2,4,5-T have been banned because of their known toxic effects and they've been banned for many years," said van der Jagt.

Earl Graves, who served in the Black Watch Regiment in the 1960s, said he didn't know the base was spraying Agent Purple or Agent Orange.

The retired sergeant, who is now president of the regiment's New Brunswick chapter, said the soldiers were told to cover their heads when the planes flew by.

"They were out in the exercise area and the planes flew over spraying and they were told to just put ponchos over their head, that it wouldn't hurt them," Graves said.

"A lot of us were out in the field. We did exercise, we were on the ground – especially the infantry – laying on the ground, eating the blueberries, drinking the water, swimming in the lakes, you name it."

Graves said 170 soldiers in his regiment died of cancer and many of them died young.

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Shooting leaves estranged couple dead, lawyer wounded
By Cara Rubinsky, Associated Press Writer | June 15, 2005

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- A former state trooper fatally shot his estranged wife, critically wounded her lawyer and then shot himself outside a courthouse where they were to attend a divorce hearing Wednesday morning, police said.

Retired Trooper Michael Bochicchio Jr., 47, of Torrington, died at Hartford Hospital Wednesday night, hospital spokeswoman Lee Monroe said. His 43-year-old wife, Donna Bochicchio, died at the scene.

Julie Porzio, 42, Donna Bochicchio's attorney in what friends said was a heated divorce and custody dispute, was listed in serious but stable condition at Hartford Hospital.

The shooting occurred just after 9:30 a.m. on the top deck of a city-owned garage behind the courthouse and overlooking Middletown's police department. Paul Tofil of East Hartford was working at an auto shop just below the parking deck. There were initially about eight gunshots, then a pause, and then another shot, he said.

Tofil said he thought someone was shooting off fireworks or trying to scare pigeons, but a man yelled down at them to call the police.

"This happened 30 yards away," he said. "It freaked me out. I couldn't believe it."

Michael Bochicchio came from a large family of police officers and troopers, friends said. He retired from the state police in 1998 after a 21-year career. He also worked for a private company providing security at federal courthouses, U.S. Marshal John Bardelli said.

"He was a wonderful person, a state cop for all those years. I don't know what went through his mind," said his uncle, Anthony Bochicchio Sr. "He was going through a bad divorce. He just snapped." [...]

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'Missing link' between madness and genius
By Amy Iggulden

Genius cannot exist without mental disorder, according to a study that names George Orwell, LS Lowry and Lewis Carroll among 21 artists who suffered a form of autism.

The psychiatric portrait of some of the most imaginative minds in history claims to prove the link between madness and greatness. Beethoven, Mozart, Hans Christian Andersen and Immanuel Kant are among the musicians, writers, painters and philosophers who have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.

Prof Michael Fitzgerald, a psychiatrist and expert in the syndrome that affects social relationships but not intellect, claims that people with Asperger's can have exceptional artistic creativity, as well as mathematical genius.

Einstein and other engineering geniuses have already been suggested as sufferers. Prof Fitzgerald claims that some of the same genes that cause Asperger's are a source of creative brilliance.

One of the characteristics of Asperger's is thought to be an inability to engage in creative play. But Prof Fitzgerald says the syndrome almost certainly drove Orwell, Lowry and Carroll to writing and painting as a form of "self-help".

"Asperger's and creativity are two sides of the same coin - you can't get one without the other," he said.

His claims are set out in The Genesis of Artistic Creativity, which is to be published later this month, and have already won support from The National Autistic Society.[...]

However, Prof John Geake, a researcher into cognitive creativity attached to Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University, was not convinced.

He said: "The truth is that most highly intelligent people are very competent at life."

Prof Fitzgerald, a psychiatrist at Trinity College, Dublin, has diagnosed more than 900 people with the syndrome since he began practising in 1974. For the study, he assessed the personalities of 21 geniuses against the criteria for Asperger's, using biographies and first-person recollections. He believes that Orwell displayed the social impairment, narrow focus, repetitive behaviour and clumsiness typical of the syndrome. And Beethoven, who was "clumsy", "emotionally immature" and "had an unusually large head" also fit the criteria for Asperger's. An expert on Beethoven, Dr Barry Cooper, said last night that he barely recognised the description of the composer.

"He was unkempt because his mind was on higher things," he said. "And I have never heard him described as emotionally immature."

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Daughter a "demon," says mother accused of drowning, beheading 6-year-old
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
By Sara Jean Green

King County prosecutors say a former White Center woman, believing her daughter was a "demon," drowned the 6-year-old girl in a bathtub, chopped off her head and threw her body from a bridge.

Samara Spann, 30, now living in California, was charged yesterday with first- degree murder in the slaying of her daughter Kyeimah on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1. Prosecutors say she killed her daughter because she believed she was possessed and "would not stay in bed and kept interrupting" a telephone conversation.[...]

According to charging papers, Spann drowned the 6-year-old in a bathtub in their former White Center rental home after seeking advice from someone who was interested in the occult. "She left the body in the house and went to stay in a motel in the Georgetown area of south Seattle for two days," the papers say.

On Jan. 2, Spann went to a local hardware store and purchased a chain, a padlock and an ax. She then returned to the home in the 10400 block of 10th Avenue Southwest, where she laid her daughter's body on a blanket and sheet in a hallway and cut off the girl's head, the papers say.

She put Kyeimah's body in a "laundry-type bin" and threw it from a bridge into the water below, according to charging papers.[...]

Some of Spann's former neighbors in White Center said she had become irate and irrational on New Year's Eve, when they heard her cursing and screaming for nearly an hour outside her home. Emma Ramirez, who lived next door, said Spann yelled racial obscenities at another neighbor.

Ramirez said Spann then went inside her home, walked onto her back porch and allegedly fired a gunshot about 1 a.m.

George Catalano, another neighbor, said someone called police to report the woman's screaming. Officers came out and talked to Spann, he said. When they left, she walked into the street and yelled an obscenity at police, Catalano said.

Though she had heard Spann yell at her children, Ramirez said she normally saw the woman meet Kyeimah at her bus stop. Sometimes, while skipping home from the bus stop, the girl would stop by Ramirez's house and show off her school work.

"She was a really friendly little girl," Ramirez said. "She was happy."

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Fluoride water 'causes cancer'

Boys at risk from bone tumours, shock research reveals
Bob Woffinden
Sunday June 12, 2005
The Observer

Fluoride in tap water can cause bone cancer in boys, a disturbing new study indicates, although there is no evidence of a link for girls.

New American research suggests that boys exposed to fluoride between the ages of five and 10 will suffer an increased rate of osteosarcoma - bone cancer - between the ages of 10 and 19.

In the UK, fluoride is added to tap water on the advice of bodies such as the British Dental Association. The Department of Health maintains that it is a cost-effective public health measure that helps prevent tooth decay in children.

About 10 per cent of the population, six million people, receive fluoridated water, mainly in the Midlands and north-east, and the government plans to extend this, with Manchester expected to be next. About 170 million Americans live in areas with fluoridated water.

The increased cancer risks, identified in a newly available study conducted at the Harvard School of Dental Health, were found at fluoride exposure levels common in both the US and Britain. It was the first examination of the link between exposure to the chemical at the critical period of a child's development and the age of onset of bone cancer.

Although osteosarcoma is rare, accounting for only about 3 per cent of childhood cancers, it is especially dangerous. The mortality rate in the first five years is about 50 per cent, and nearly all survivors have limbs amputated, usually legs.

The research has been made available by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a respected Washington-based research organisation. The group reports that it has assembled a 'strong body of peer-reviewed evidence' and has asked that fluoride in tap water be added to the US government's classified list of substances known or anticipated to cause cancer in humans.

'This is a very specific cancer in a defined population of children,' said Richard Wiles, the group's co-founder. 'When you focus in and look for the incidence of tumours, you see the increase.

'We recognise the potential benefits of fluoride to dental health,' added Wiles, 'but I've spent 20 years in public health, trying to protect kids from toxic exposure. Even with DDT, you don't have the consistently strong data that the compound can cause cancer as you now have with fluoride.'

Half of all fluoride ingested is stored in the body, accumulating in calcifying tissue such as teeth and bones and in the pineal gland in the brain, although more than 90 per cent is taken into the bones.

MPs who have recently voted against fluoridation proposals in Parliament include Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Michael Howard, the Conservative leader.

Anti-fluoride campaigners argue that the whole issue has become highly politically sensitive. If health scares about fluoride were to be recognised in the courts, the litigation, especially in the US, could be expected to run for decades. Consequently, scientists have been inhibited from publicising any adverse findings.

The new evidence only emerged by a circuitous process. It was contained in a Harvard dissertation by Dr Elise Bassin at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. The dissertation, completed in April 2001, obviously had merit because Bassin was awarded her doctorate.

However it has not been published. Environmental organisations were repeatedly denied access to it, and even bodies such as the US National Academy of Sciences could not get hold of a copy. Eventually two researchers from the Fluoride Action Network were allowed to read it in the rare books and special collections room at Harvard medical library.

Bassin told The Observer her work was still going through the peer-review process, and she hopes that it will then be published.

Dr Vyvyan Howard, senior lecturer in toxico-pathology at the University of Liverpool, has studied the new material.

'At these ages the bones of boys are developing rapidly,' he said, 'so if the bones are being put together abnormally because fluoride is altering the bone structure, they're more likely to get cancer. It's biologically plausible, and the epidemiological evidence seems pretty strong - it looks as if there's a definite effect.'

There is at present no understanding as to why males should be affected rather than females.

A Department of Health spokesman said that the latest evaluation of research in the UK had identified no ill effects of fluoride.

Comment: What a story; a glimpse into the backrooms of science. Are dissertations always this difficult get ahold of and read?

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'C.difficile' superbug is killing twice as many people as MRSA
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
16 June 2005

The hospital bug Clostridium difficile, which is sweeping through NHS hospitals, is killing twice as many people as MRSA.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 1,748 deaths recorded in 2003 in which C.difficile was mentioned on the death certificate. In 934 of those deaths, C.difficile was given as the underlying cause.

In the same year, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) was mentioned on the death certificates of 955 patients, in 321 of which it was given as the underlying cause.

The new figures for C.difficile were obtained in response to a parliamentary question by David Lidington, the Conservative MP for Aylesbury.

A spokesman for the staistics office said: "We occasionally carry out searches for any mention of a cause of death on death certificates because it gives a fuller picture."

C.difficile causes severe diarrhoea, and cases have doubled since 2001 to more than 43,000 in 2004. Some of the increase is due to better reporting. Deaths due to the bug, which occur mostly in the over 65s, rose 38 per cent between 2001 and 2003. [...]

The official toll of 12 deaths was challenged yesterday by the family of a man who died at the hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, after contracting the infection, but was not listed among the 12. Ernest Bruver died, aged 80, on 8 May 2004 after being admitted to hospital five weeks earlier with severe gastroenteritis.

The cause of death on his death certificate was given as (1) broncho- pneumonia and respiratory failure, and (2) C.difficile. But when his family contacted the hospital last week, managers denied that he had died from the infection. [...]

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Grenade blast leaves two dead
June 15 2005 at 04:49PM- Sapa-AP

St Petersburg, Russia - Two people died and seven others were wounded on Wednesday when a convicted man detonated a hand grenade in a courtroom in St Petersburg, a court official said.

The incident happened in the Primorsky district court when a judge completed reading the verdict in a trial of several police officers accused of abusing their authority.

One of the defendants found guilty detonated a grenade, killing himself and a security guard, a court secretary said on condition of anonymity.

Seven other people, including a judge, were admitted to hospital with serious wounds, she said.

It wasn't immediately clear how the man managed to bring the grenade into the court building.

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Blasts hit Russia petrol depot
Wednesday 15 June 2005, 10:57 Makka Time, 7:57 GMT

Two explosions have ripped through a petroleum storage depot outside Moscow, killing two workers and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people from nearby homes and a hospital.

Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Sergei Vlasov said on Wednesday that preliminary investigations indicated that a technical problem sparked the explosions at the depot in the town of Noginsk, about 60km east of Moscow.

The blasts ripped through a chemical laboratory at the depot at around 5.50am. The storage facility supplies the capital and its suburbs.

Two tanks of petroleum products inside the lab then caught fire, and the blaze spread to four nearby cargo rail cars that contained oil products.

Aljazeera has learned that about six tons of fuel were in the tanks at the time.

Two laboratory workers were killed and one was in critical condition, Vlasov said. [...]

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Afghans work to head off cholera epidemic
June 15, 2005, 1:48PM
Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan - Authorities chlorinated wells across the Afghan capital today amid fears the city of 4 million people was on the verge of a cholera epidemic.

The waterborne disease has killed eight or nine people and is suspected of infecting more than 2,000, said Fred Hartman, an epidemiologist with a U.S.-supported health project. Abdullah Fahim, an adviser to the health minister, put the death toll at six, up from three Tuesday.

Fahim said there was no reason to panic, but hospitals pitched dozens of tents on their grounds in case of a surge of patients.

The NATO-led international security force in Kabul used a radio station and a newspaper it controls to tell the public about sanitary steps that help avoid the disease, a potentially fatal intestinal ailment generally spread by contaminated water and food.

Fahim said all major water sources, including reservoirs, had been chlorinated. He said teams also had treated about 700 wells, which are the main source of water for many people in Kabul. He said the city is thought to have thousands of wells.

He said the outbreak of cholera and other waterborne diseases has been caused by heavy rains that raised the level of the groundwater which then mixed with sewage seeping from poorly maintained septic tanks.

"Kabul has no sewage system and septic tanks are close to wells and other water sources," Fahim said. "Water is easily contaminated."

Hartman said cholera bacteria had been detected in many wells around the city. [...]

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Indonesia records several new cases of polio
June 15 2005 at 04:25PM

Jakarta - Indonesia has reported five new polio infections, bringing to 39 the number of cases since the crippling disease re-emerged in the country last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday.

The United Nations health agency said in a statement that the five new infections were all found on the western side of Java island, in the same general area as the previous cases.

The outbreak is the first in Indonesia in a decade.

Indonesia inoculated 6.4-million children between May 31 and June 2 in a bid to stamp out the disease, which can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours. A second round of immunisation is planned for June 28-29, the statement said.

The first cases were reported in early May near the city of Sukabumi in West Java, 100km south of Jakarta.

WHO, which wants to halt the spread of polio worldwide in 2005, had said it expected a slight increase in the Indonesian total because authorities had been investigating a number of suspected cases.

The agency has battled a series of setbacks to its global campaign since Nigeria's northern state of Kano banned immunisation out of fear it could cause sterility or spread HIV/Aids. Vaccination resumed after a 10-month ban.

Indonesia is one of a number of countries where polio has re-emerged after being imported from West Africa. Saudi Arabia and Yemen have also suffered outbreaks.

The viral disease of the brain and spinal cord mainly affects children under five. Some cases are fatal.

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West Nile virus found in Evanston
Published June 15, 2005

COOK COUNTY, Illinois -- Two mosquito samples collected in Evanston tested positive for the West Nile virus, marking the first signs of the disease in Cook County this summer, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Tuesday.

The North Shore Mosquito Abatement District collected the samples on June 6, and they were tested by the Illinois Natural History Survey. Six mosquito samples have tested positive since May 1, when local and state health departments began testing for the virus.

Three positive samples were found in DuPage County. In Downstate Woodford and McLean Counties, several crows have tested positive for West Nile. No human cases have been reported. [...]

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Science, Bush-style
Wednesday, June 15, 2005

JUDGING by his position on global warming, it wouldn't be surprising if President Bush believes the Earth is flat and the Moon is made out of green cheese.

That's how far removed from scientific reality Mr. Bush is on global warming. His continued insistence that immediate action isn't warranted is irresponsible and dangerous.

He should have listened to Tony Blair last week when the British prime minister urged Mr. Bush to make reducing greenhouse gas emissions a top priority.

Mr. Blair's request came the same week that the National Academy of Sciences joined with its counterparts in 10 nations to issue an urgent warning on global warming. Participants included scientists from Russia, China, India, Brazil, Japan and Europe.

Their report said any further delays could eventually lead to dramatic environmental shifts causing floods, droughts, severe hurricanes and heat waves that could threaten millions of people.

Calling global warming "the greatest danger facing humanity," the scientists said the reality of climate change is now "sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action."

The Bush administration has its own take on science, however. If you don't agree with a scientific report, just change the wording.

The New York Times reported last week that Philip Cooney, while chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, made repeated changes in government reports on global warming, downplaying its risks and raising doubts about its validity.

Mr. Cooney is not a scientist. He's a lawyer and former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group that opposes government regulation.

But he reworded dozens of sentences. In one case, he changed "the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change" to "the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change."

In another instance, he added the words "significant and fundamental" in front of the word "uncertainties" to hype doubts about climate change.

His additions and deletions changed the meaning of the reports.

Mr. Cooney resigned his White House position last week, in the midst of a furor over his editing.

The administration's stubborn refusal to accept the obvious is a ploy to help friends in the energy industry who don't want to pay for pollution controls.

But the handwriting is on the wall. Some top companies, such as General Electric, are acknowledging that something must be done and soon. They want one national policy, instead of a growing mix of state and even local anti-pollution programs.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, wants California's greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 80 percent in the next 50 years. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has gotten 164 cities to sign a pledge to reduce emissions, including Newark, Bayonne, and several others in New Jersey. The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently unanimously endorsed the effort.

Mr. Bush should listen to the mayors and to Mr. Schwarzenegger, who said: "We know the science, we see the threat, and the time for action is now."

Even if the White House continues to drag its feet, the rest of the world will proceed. The Kyoto treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions is already law in 140 countries, though not in the United States.

But this nation is the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. Sooner or later, we must join in a global effort to fight global warming, since that's the only effective course to prevent further environmental damage.

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Chile earthquake leaves path of destruction
June 15 2005 at 10:35AM

Santiago - Boulders littered city streets and highways in northern Chile on Tuesday after a 7.9-magnitude quake caused landslides and wrecked homes, killing at least 11 people and injuring 200.

The quake in Chile's top mining district also cut off power and burst water mains in the port cities of Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta.

Chile's Emergency Bureau ONEMI said most of the quake's victims were killed in landslides.

One victim was a nine-month-old baby.

Television images showed streets littered with giant rocks in Iquique and dozens of collapsed adobe homes in nearby towns.

"Look, the church fell down, 15 houses are destroyed and 20 are uninhabitable. We've been out in the town square all night because it quaked all night. We don't have any food, water or power," said Mercedes Cruz, a resident of the town of Huavilla.

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Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake - OFF THE COAST OF AISEN, CHILE
2005 June 15 19:52:25 UTC

A strong earthquake occurred at 19:52:25 (UTC) on Wednesday, June 15, 2005. The magnitude 6.3 event has been located OFF THE COAST OF AISEN, CHILE. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Volcano emits dense ash
By John Ravelo
Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Anatahan's rumbling volcano emitted huge amounts of ash and steam yesterday, while tremor levels on the island remained high, days after its second strongest eruption in recorded history over the weekend.

The U.S. Geological Survey and the Emergency Management Office said dense ash rose to 20,000 feet in the air and moved westerly.

In a joint report released yesterday, the agencies said the ash plume extended about 435 nautical miles west of Anatahan. Beyond that, thin ash and volcanic smog spread northeast and southeast, reaching 850 nautical miles south-southwest and 915 nautical miles north of the island.

The agencies said seismicity on Anatahan remained "moderately high," citing the occurrence of small long-period earthquakes.

The volcano vented its fury over the weekend, spewing out thick clouds of ash to 45,000 feet, its second strongest eruption in recorded history. The volume of ash emitted by the volcano in that eruption has yet to be estimated. [...]

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Explosion forms new crater on Mexican volcano
June 15 2005 at 06:36PM

Mexico City - A new crater has formed on the Colima volcano in western Mexico following powerful eruptions, the Mexican newspaper El Universal reported on Tuesday.

Volcanologists discovered the crater during a monitoring flight over the 3 860-metre-high colossus. The scientists said that considerable amounts of volcanic boulders have piled up around the crater because of continuous explosions. A big rock is now protruding from the crater.

The director of the civil defence force in the Jalisco state, Luis Salazar Saborio, told the newspaper that the structural changes were a sign of the continuing explosiveness of the volcano. Eruptions at a level of past intensity, or even stronger, can be expected.

There is also a risk of debris avalanches, which could develop following heavy rains. [...]

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Flood death toll climbs to five
Wednesday, Jun 15, 2005

TAIPEI - As flooding overwhelmed towns and rural areas in the south, the death toll from four days of torrential rains rose to five, rescue officials said yesterday.

Officials at the Emergency Response Center counted three more victims late Monday, including a 15-year-old boy who was swept off his bicycle in Tainan County.

Other victims were a 73-year-old man buried by landslides in Pingtung County, and a 34-year-old Pingtung resident who died of electrocution after water swept through his home, center officials said.

On Sunday, a 65-year-old woman was killed when a landslide triggered by rains buried her house in Tainan County, and a 24-year-old motorist was swept away by floods in Kaohsiung County, the officials said.

Many residential areas in the south have been submerged in flood waters since Saturday. Several towns in Pingtung County have registered up to 100cm of rain over the past four days, the Central Weather Bureau said.

The heavy rains also wreaked havoc on traffic, with landslides cutting off roads near Alishan, officials said.

Television stations showed footage of rescue workers wading through swollen rivers, and people cleaning up their homes. Ferry services between southern Taiwan and the small island of Hsiao Liuchiu resumed after a three-day hiatus, allowing hundreds of tourists to return to China.

The Central Weather Bureau said torrential rains would continue to batter the south at least until the weekend, before expanding to central Taiwan. [...]

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Flood Kills One in Dusheti
2005-06-15 22:51:13

A woman died after flood hit Dusheti district in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region of northern Georgia late on June 15, Governor of the region Vasil Maglaperidze told Imedi television.

"Two hours of heavy rains caused mud flood in Dusheti itself, as well as in the villages of the Dusheti district. The scale of this disaster is much larger than of flooding which occurred in Dusheti couple of days ago," Maglaperidze said.

One man died and at least 40 houses were flooded overnight on June 14 after heavy rains there.

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Xinjiang flood
15/6/2005 7:27

(China) - A rare inundation killed three people and left four others injured in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Monday afternoon, the local government said yesterday morning. The huge flood following a one-hour rainstorm destroyed buildings and irrigation works in Huocheng County of Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture. The four injured were hospitalized and are out of danger.

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Heat swells calls for ambulances
Jun. 14, 2005. 01:00 AM

(Toronto) - Ambulance calls have spiked as the extreme heat alert entered its fourth day yesterday, the longest period of dangerous heat since Toronto implemented response plans to deal with such emergencies five years ago.

AccuWeather predicted temperatures would hit 28 C today before cooling off to 23 C tomorrow.

Toronto paramedics responded to 613 calls on Sunday, an increase of 75 calls over the average of the previous four Sundays, said Dean Shaddock, a community medicine program co-ordinator with the ambulance service.

Shaddock was speaking at a news conference called yesterday by the city's medical officer of health to warn people about the health dangers of the hot, humid conditions. [...]

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Wed Jun 15 2005 03:44:53

(Spain) - The drought conditions are it seems worsening rapidly in the Segura valley in the north of Spain. A continued lack of rain in the area has driven local reservoirs down to the current level of just 15.9% capacity. Minister for the Environment, Cristina Narbona, has commented that this year is proving the driest nationally for the past 60 years, and has warned too that it could be the first of an extended dry period. Nationally the reservoirs are now at 57.1% capacity – a fall of 1.1% over the last week.

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Inconstant Constants

Do the inner workings of nature change with time?
By John D. Barrow and John K. Webb
Scientific America
June 2005

Some things never change. Physicists call them the constants of nature. Such quantities as the velocity of light, c, Newton's constant of gravitation, G, and the mass of the electron, me, are assumed to be the same at all places and times in the universe. They form the scaffolding around which the theories of physics are erected, and they define the fabric of our universe. Physics has progressed by making ever more accurate measurements of their values.

And yet, remarkably, no one has ever successfully predicted or explained any of the constants. Physicists have no idea why they take the special numerical values that they do. In SI units, c is 299,792,458; G is 6.673 X 10^-11; and me is 9.10938188 X 10^-31 -- numbers that follow no discernible pattern. The only thread running through the values is that if many of them were even slightly different, complex atomic structures such as living beings would not be possible. The desire to explain the constants has been one of the driving forces behind efforts to develop a complete unified description of nature, or "theory of everything." Physicists have hoped that such a theory would show that each of the constants of nature could have only one logically possible value. It would reveal an underlying order to the seeming arbitrariness of nature.

In recent years, however, the status of the constants has grown more muddled, not less. Researchers have found that the best candidate for a theory of everything, the variant of string theory called M-theory, is self-consistent only if the universe has more than four dimensions of space and time--as many as seven more. One implication is that the constants we observe may not, in fact, be the truly fundamental ones. Those live in the full higher-dimensional space, and we see only their three-dimensional "shadows."

Meanwhile physicists have also come to appreciate that the values of many of the constants may be the result of mere happenstance, acquired during random events and elementary particle processes early in the history of the universe. In fact, string theory allows for a vast number--10500--of possible "worlds" with different self-consistent sets of laws and constants [see "The String Theory Landscape," by Raphael Bousso and Joseph Polchinski; Scientific American, September 2004]. So far researchers have no idea why our combination was selected. Continued study may reduce the number of logically possible worlds to one, but we have to remain open to the unnerving possibility that our known universe is but one of many--a part of a multiverse--and that different parts of the multiverse exhibit different solutions to the theory, our observed laws of nature being merely one edition of many systems of local bylaws [see "Parallel Universes," by Max Tegmark; Scientific American, May 2003].

No further explanation would then be possible for many of our numerical constants other than that they constitute a rare combination that permits consciousness to evolve. Our observable universe could be one of many isolated oases surrounded by an infinity of lifeless space--a surreal place where different forces of nature hold sway and particles such as electrons or structures such as carbon atoms and DNA molecules could be impossibilities. If you tried to venture into that outside world, you would cease to be.

Thus, string theory gives with the right hand and takes with the left. It was devised in part to explain the seemingly arbitrary values of the physical constants, and the basic equations of the theory contain few arbitrary parameters. Yet so far string theory offers no explanation for the observed values of the constants.

A Ruler You Can Trust

Indeed, the word "constant" may be a misnomer. Our constants could vary both in time and in space. If the extra dimensions of space were to change in size, the "constants" in our three-dimensional world would change with them. And if we looked far enough out in space, we might begin to see regions where the "constants" have settled into different values. Ever since the 1930s, researchers have speculated that the constants may not be constant. String theory gives this idea a theoretical plausibility and makes it all the more important for observers to search for deviations from constancy. [...]

Comment: Nevertheless, hyperdimensional physics is still widely considered to be taboo - unless, of course, one promotes something like string theory that seems to raise more questions than it answers.

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