Friday, June 17, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Truth-Seeking - An Often Solitary Endeavour

Photograph By John Livingston

Moderate Quake Shakes Southern California
Thu Jun 16, 6:54 PM ET

YUCAIPA, Calif. - A moderate earthquake shook most of Southern California Thursday, startling people and knocking items off shelves and desks, but there were no immediate reports of significant damage or injuries.

The early afternoon quake had a magnitude of 4.9 and was centered near Yucaipa in San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. About 25 aftershocks followed in a little over an hour, the strongest estimated at magnitude 3.5.

Residents reported shaking from Los Angeles to San Diego and in counties to the east. Rock slides were reported on Highway 38 in the San Bernardino Mountains.

"All of a sudden I heard a loud rumbling sound, kind of like thunder," said Nick Brandes, 25, manager of a store in Yucaipa. "At the front, all the customers were in a panic. They were all just in a hurry to get out."

Andrea Cabrera, an employee at the Walgreens drug store in Yucaipa, said the store "just had a few items falling, that's all." Customers "were just stunned, and they just stood there," she said.

The Los Angeles Fire Department received no immediate reports of major damage, spokesman Brian Humphrey said. None of
Southern California Edison's 4.6 million customers lost power.

It was the third significant quake to hit California this week: A magnitude-5.2 quake shook Riverside County on Sunday, and a magnitude-7.0 quake struck Tuesday under the ocean 90 miles off Northern California.

Thursday's quake occurred near the San Andreas Fault but not on it, said Lucy Jones, scientist in charge of the U.S. Geological Survey office in Pasadena. She said the quake was not a direct aftershock from Sunday's temblor.

"This is not an unusual level of earthquake activity," Jones said of the state's recent quakes.

Channon Kelly, 31, was eating her lunch in downtown Los Angeles when Thursday's quake hit.

"I almost jumped out of my seat," Kelly said. "I'm starting to get freaked out. We've had so many in the last week, the one Sunday and then in Northern California. I could hear the windows rattling and feel it all at the same time."

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The Big Quake Question: What Comes After Four?
By David Pierson and Ashley Powers
LA Times
June 17, 2005

A 4.9 magnitude earthquake centered in San Bernardino County rattled a large section of Southern California on Thursday, the third significant temblor to hit the state in less than a week.

While the quake did not cause major injuries or damage, it shook nerves across the region just two days after a 7.2 quake off the Northern California coast prompted a tsunami warning and four days after many residents were jolted awake by a 5.2 quake centered near Anza.

A steam shovel, left, pushes debris off the roadway, south of Crescent City Calif., March 29, 1964, after a Tsunami struck causing extensive damage. Coastal dwellers in far northern California and southern Oregon knew to take it seriously when tsunami sirens sounded after a 7.0-magnitude offshore earthquake, Tuesday, June 14, 2005, and thousands of people were safely evacuated within minutes. Many here still remember the 1964 tsunami that killed 15 people along this stretch of the Pacific Coast. And while there were no destructive waves after Tuesday night's temblor, experts Wednesday praised the decision to announce a tsunami warning for the entire West Coast - better safe than sorry, they said. (AP Photo/File)

Then around 11 p.m. Thursday, a quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 rattled the ocean floor off Northern California, 125 miles west of Eureka. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

It was not strong enough to generate a tsunami warning, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Geological Survey said.

It was, however, probably an aftershock from Tuesday's quake in the area, she said.

Seismologists said that they found no immediate connection between the other quakes. But they were studying whether the Thursday afternoon quake, north of Yucaipa, could be linked to Sunday's Anza quake because they occurred 25 miles apart.

Officials said Southern California usually experiences quakes of this magnitude several times a year, but acknowledged that it's rare for them to occur so close together.

"It is unusual. But we've seen it before," said Caltech seismologist Kate Hutton, noting that quakes often come in clusters over periods of years - a phenomenon that scientists cannot fully explain.

The series of earthquakes was enough to revive anxious chatter Thursday of the coming Big One, a massive quake along the San Andreas fault. Hutton and other experts said they can understand the concern.

"I can empathize why people feel that," added Lucy Jones, the scientist in charge of the U.S. Geological Survey's Southern California office. "We don't handle randomness well. We like to make patterns. The chances are we expect two 'fives' in a week once every 10 years. It's been very quiet. During the '80s, we had earthquakes every day from 1987 to 1994. People are out of habit. They've been lulled down."

The last time the state experienced a similar earthquake cluster was 1986, when the Bishop area was hit by a series of quakes of up to 6.1 in magnitude. Experts said the biggest concern is that smaller quakes could trigger large quakes. Thursday's quake occurred along an as-yet-undetermined "splinter fault" near the San Andreas.

Seismologists said there was a 1-in-20 chance that Thursday's quake was a foreshock - a quake that precedes another quake of magnitude 5 or greater. Such quakes usually occur within hours of each other, but can occur as far apart as five days.

"There's a small chance that this was a foreshock, but it's probably not," Hutton said.

Both this week's Inland Empire quakes occurred near the San Andreas fault, a wide gouge in the Earth's crust where tectonic plates grind against each other. Thursday's quake was centered 8 miles from the fault, while the Anza quake was roughly 25 miles away, along the San Jacinto fault.

The San Andreas, long considered by scientists as a likely source of a catastrophic temblor, has erupted before, causing the great quake of 1906 that devastated San Francisco.

The entire San Andreas fault system is more than 800 miles long and extends 10 miles deep. Scientists say the San Andreas and other faults are storing up energy that is released in an Earth shuddering explosion when the plates slip against one another.

Scientists speculate that earthquake clusters result when energy has been stored for long periods and is released periodically.

"The biggest earthquakes relieve stress," Jones said. "They transfer energy. It relieves stress out of the Earth. When that happens, the Earth relaxes and it stops producing so many small earthquakes."

Also this week, a magnitude 7.8 temblor hit Chile on Monday, killing at least 11 people, and a magnitude 6.8 quake struck the Aleutian Islands off Alaska on Tuesday. Both were preceded and followed by smaller quakes.

Some scientists believe one earthquake can shake loose, or trigger, another nearby or elsewhere in the world. But officials expressed doubts that the Chile or Aleutian Islands quakes were related to those in Southern California because of the distance.

For all their ability to describe the size and location of quakes, scientists acknowledge that there is still much they don't know. Some say that the San Andreas and San Jacinto faults are overdue for large earthquakes, but they cannot say when.

Thirty years ago, seismologists believed they were on the cusp of discovering how to predict earthquakes.

Today, few scientists hold out such hope.

"In terms of earthquakes, the question now is: Will they ever be predictable?" Jones said.

"We know the big picture. But why the earthquake happened today and not yesterday, or last year, or 10 years ago, we just don't know. We also don't know what makes them stop."

Many Southland residents find this uncertainty troubling.

"I think this is leading up to the Big One," said Mentone resident Cora Embry, who grabbed her young son and ran from her home when the shaking began Thursday.

"I feel a big earthquake coming. They say there is no such thing as earthquake weather, but there is."

Thursday's first temblor struck about 1:53 p.m., three miles northeast of Yucaipa, 72 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The quake, which struck roughly eight miles below ground, triggered rock slides in the San Bernardino Mountains and injured at least one Lake Arrowhead woman when it sent a chandelier crashing onto her head.

In areas close to the epicenter, residents described a shock that almost buckled their knees, caused large panes of glass to shiver and sent furniture pounding against the floor.

While seismologists characterized the earthquake as small - it was strong enough to toss items from shelves and crack walls, but not big enough to damage buildings - residents who lived near the epicenter said it seemed larger.

Redlands resident Susan Mosher was home studying for the bar exam when her dogs began barking, and the interior living room wall began cracking.

"We've had a lot of earthquakes - this is the first one that scared me," Mosher said.

Residents throughout the Los Angeles Basin felt a quivering.

Scientists suggested that the shaking may have seemed much more severe than it was because Southern California is coming off a long period of relative calm, seismically speaking.

"We've had a very quiet decade," Jones said. "We live in earthquake country and we should remember that."

Times Staff Writers Monte Morin, Jia-Rui Chong, Jennifer Delson, Susana Enriquez, Sara Lin, Lance Pugmire, Stephanie Ramos, Susannah Rosenblatt, Joel Rubin, Andrew Wang and Daniel Yi contributed to this report.

A Reader Comments:

This article goes back and forth, on one hand admitting this current quake swarm may be ominous, and then on the other hand using the usual calming phrases to make it seem like business as usual. I lived in Southern Calif. for 35 years, through many serious quakes, and yes, I got used to them. But, if I still lived there... I'd be very nervous right now.

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4th Significant Earthquake Shakes Calif.
June 17, 2005

EUREKA, Calif. - Just hours after a moderate earthquake shook most of Southern California, a strong quake struck off the state's northern coast to become the fourth significant shaker to jolt California this week.

Neither quake Thursday caused serious damage. One person was injured.

A 6.4-magnitude temblor hit about 125 miles off the coast of Eureka around 11:30 p.m., rattling the ocean floor. In the afternoon, a 4.9-magnitude quake struck east of Los Angeles, startling people and knocking items off shelves and desks. [...]

Four significant quakes have hit California this week: A magnitude-5.2 quake shook Riverside County on Sunday, and a magnitude-7.2 quake trembled Tuesday under the ocean 90 miles off Northern California.

Stephanie Hanna, spokeswoman for the U.S. Geological Survey, said Thursday night's quake was likely an aftershock from Tuesday's shaker. [...]

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2005 June 17

A moderate earthquake occurred at 02:37:36 (UTC) on Friday, June 17, 2005. The magnitude 5.4 event has been located in NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA.

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Climate change plan for G8 summit diluted after Blair's US visit
By Saeed Shah
The Independent
17 June 2005

The "plan for action" to tackle climate change for the G8 summit next month has been drastically watered down following Tony Blair's visit to Washington, according to a leaked draft.

The new text has been stripped of commitments to fund programmes that appeared in a previous leak of the communiqué, which was dated 3 May. In the new document, of 14 June, some key phrases appear only in square brackets, indicating that their inclusion is in dispute, while other important sentences have been taken out altogether.

In this week's version, even the phrase "our world is warming" has been placed in square brackets. The sentence, referring to the rise in the earth's temperature: "We know that the increase is due in large part to human activity" has been relegated to square brackets, as has: "The world's developed economies have a responsibility to show leadership."

Catherine Pearce, the international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "The new text is really attacking the whole science on climate change. The previous text was weak but at least it recognised the science. The US administration has hacked the text to pieces. I just don't know where we can go from here."

Stephen Tindale, the executive director of Greenpeace and a former adviser to Tony Blair, said: "President Bush is an international menace. Blair says climate change is the gravest threat we face but it seems his friend in the White House refuses even to admit the world is warming." [...]

Ms Pearce said: "Every reference to the urgency of action or the need for real cuts in emissions has been deleted or challenged. Nothing in this text recognises the scale or urgency of the crisis of climate change. If they can't do better than this, the outcome of G8 summit will be worse than hot air: it will be a backward step in international climate change policy, simply adding to climate injustice." [...]

The May text had a number of commitments for expenditure of unspecified amounts, which have disappeared from the new version. So have previous G8 commitments, for instance, to fund developing countries to "assess opportunities for bio-energy" and "a fund to enable developing countries to participate in relevant international research projects" are gone. Also deleted are previous monetary commitments to "the development of markets in sustainable energy" in poor countries and funding for "fully operational regional climate centres in Africa".

Analysts said the new text amounted to a serious blow for Tony Blair, who has made progress on climate change one of the two big themes for the meeting of world leaders due to be held at Gleneagles Hotel in July - the other being help for Africa. A spokeswoman for Downing Street, said: "We don't comment on any leaked document. We are focussed on the action that gets delivered at the G8 and we not provide a commentary on on-going discussions."

The Bush administration has consistently questioned the mainstream climate science that shows the world is warming due to human activity. It wants to wait for unspecified technological breakthroughs to solve the problem.

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'Child sacrifices in London'
By Richard Edwards Crime Reporter, Evening Standard
16 June 2005

Boys from Africa are being murdered as human sacrifices in London churches.

Police believe such boys are trafficked from cities such as Kinshasa where they can be bought for a little as £10.

The report, leaked ahead of its publication next month, also cites examples of African children being tortured and killed after being identified as "witches" by church pastors.

The 10-month study was commissioned after the death of Victoria Climbié, who was starved and beaten to death after they said she was possessed by the devil.

The aim of the Met study was to create an "open dialogue" with the African and Asian community in Newham and Hackney. In discussions with African community leaders, officers were told of examples of children being murdered because their parents or carers believe them to be possessed by evil spirits. Earlier-this month Sita Kisanga, 35, was convicted at the Old Bailey of torturing an eight-year-old girl from Angola she accused of being a witch.

Kisanga was a member of the Combat Spirituel church in Dalston. Many such churches, supported mainly by people from West Africa, sanction aggressive forms of exorcism on those thought to be possessed.

There are believed to be 300 such churches in the UK, mostly in London.

The report was put together by an expert social worker and lawyer for the Met after talking to hundreds of people in African communities in a series of workshops. It uncovered allegations of witchcraft spells, child trafficking and HIV-positive people who believe that by having sex with a child they will be "cleansed".

An extract reads: "People who are desperate will seek out experts to cast spells for them.

"Members of the workshop stated that for a spell to be powerful it required a sacrifice involving a male child unblemished by circumcision. They allege that boy children are being trafficked into the UK for this purpose."

It adds: "A number of pastors maintain that God speaks through them and lets them know when someone is possessed.

"It is therefore their duty to deliver the child or adult from the evil spirit.

"After much debate they acknowledge that children labelled as possessed are in danger of being beaten by their families.

"However, they would not accept they played a role in inciting such violence."

Last month Scotland Yard revealed it had traced just two out of 300 black boys aged four to seven reported missing from London schools in a three-month period.

The true figure for missing boys and girls is feared to be several thousand a year.

The report says there is a wide gulf between these communities and social services and protection agencies with many people in ethnic communities scared to speak out.

The report concludes police face a "wall of silence" when dealing with such cases.

Experts differ on the merits of the Scotland Yard report. [...]

"It is people in positions of power and money that are manipulating poor people."

Comment: The above article, which presents child abuse in the UK as largely an African immigrant phenomenon, smacks of damage control by the establishment in the UK, particularly given recent revelations of UK police and high-level official involvement in a pedophile ring that covered up abuse allegations against the man responsible for the infamous Dunblane school massacre.

The claim, made by former paramedic Sandra Uttley, who is going to the European Court of Human Rights to demand a new inquiry into the tragedy, holds open the possibility that Thomas Hamilton (the killer) was used to provide children for the enjoyment of members of the UK elite and was then somehow manipulated to kill himself and the very children that were being abused in order to ensure that the truth never came to light.

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Gitmo called death camp
By Rowan Scarborough
June 16, 2005

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat has compared the U.S. military's treatment of a suspected al Qaeda terrorist at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay with the regimes of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot, three of history's most heinous dictators, whose regimes killed millions.

In a speech on the Senate floor late Tuesday, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, castigated the American military's actions by reading an e-mail from an FBI agent.

The agent complained to higher-ups that one al Qaeda suspect was chained to the floor, kept in an extremely cold air-conditioned cell and forced to hear loud rap music. The Justice Department is investigating.

About 9 million persons, including 6 million Jews, died in Hitler's death camps, 2.7 million persons died in Stalin's gulags and 1.7 million Cambodians died in Pol Pot's scourge of his country.

No prisoners have died at Guantanamo, and the Pentagon has acknowledged five instances of abuse or irreverent handling of the Koran, the holy book of Muslims.

After reading the e-mail, Mr. Durbin said, "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. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

Comment: The details of abuse from the e-mail to which Durbin is referring are tame compared to other reports of torture conducted by the US and its "allies" at places like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib...

Mr. Durbin also likened the treatment of terror suspects at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to authorize the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

"It took us almost 40 years for us to acknowledge that we were wrong, to admit that these people should never have been imprisoned. It was a shameful period in American history," Mr. Durbin said. "I believe the torture techniques that have been used at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and other places fall into that same category."

The White House yesterday reacted angrily to Mr. Durbin's remarks.
"It's reprehensible, as Defense Secretary [Donald H.] Rumsfeld said, to suggest that the Guantanamo Bay facility is anything like a gulag or a mad regime or Pol Pot," White House spokesman Trent Duffy told The Washington Times.

"It is reprehensible, has no place in the current debate, and as we've seen over several years, the detainees in Guantanamo Bay are being treated humanely," he said.

Comment: How can one have a debate when one side is dictating to the other what can and cannot be discussed??

"What this is is a disservice to any man and woman serving in the U.S. military who's putting their life on the line each day, because they're trying to paint all military with a broad brush because of the actions of perhaps a few bad apples, who are being punished severely."

Comment: The "few bad apples who are being punished severely" seem to have been the low-ranking patsies. Military and civilian leaders, including Bush and Rumsfeld, were completely off limits in the "prosecution" of the continuing abuse and torture committed by US forces. While Janice Karpinski was demoted, several other complicit leaders were actually promoted for their efforts. From The Guardian:

Despite Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo - not to mention Iraq and the failure of intelligence - and the various roles they played in what went wrong, Rumsfeld kept his job; Rice was promoted to secretary of state; Alberto Gonzales, who commissioned the memos justifying torture, became attorney general; deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz was nominated to the presidency of the World Bank; and Stephen Cambone, under-secretary of defence for intelligence and one of those most directly involved in the policies on prisoners, was still one of Rumsfeld's closest confidants. President Bush, asked about accountability, told the Washington Post before his second inauguration that the American people had supplied all the accountability needed - by re-electing him. Only seven enlisted men and women have been charged or pleaded guilty to offences relating to Abu Ghraib. No officer is facing criminal proceedings.

The truth is that there is no need for anyone to "paint all military with a broad brush" because the facts speak for themselves. Notice also how the focus of the torture issue is shifted away from Bush administration officials by the White House itself and the blame is placed squarely on the military.

At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld spokesman Larry Di Rita said of Mr. Durbin's remarks: "I didn't hear what he said, but any such comparison would obviously be outrageous and not remotely connected with reality."

Comment: It is interesting that the Bible that the Bush gang claims to believe in describes their activities - and their fate:

13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; [9-11?] and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

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Pro-Gitmo Stories Appear In US Media
By David Goldberg

[...] Two days ago, I received a call from a friend in New York that many American newspapers were 'encouraged' to post articles AGAINST closing Guantanamo.

I thought that such idea is insane as I did not read such articles before in the US media before, and besides, as a result of the BBC documentary we already know the majority of the Guantanamo prisoners are innocent Afghani citizens who were sold by the Pakistanis to the American forces.

Since my New York friend is usually correct, I set a Google Alert on the word Gitmo and waited. I did not have to wait long... It seems that overnight America was flooded with a major propaganda wave. The wave of evil and hate campaign sweeping America via your Zionist controlled press is mind-boggling.

How could America have stooped to such a level? Is intellectual honesty gone? How could this White House destroy anything which resembles ethics?

And Americans, by their silence, become a part of it.

I went through my Google email and collected for you some of the articles from just the last two days. And these articles circulated on many, many other papers... This is filth of the highest order:

Close-Up Shop At Gitmo? Such talk should be flushed (Subscription) - Amarillo, TX

Close Gitmo? Be Careful What You Wish For
Los Angeles Times - CA

Close Gitmo? Bad Idea! - Washington, DC

Senate GOP: Closing Gitmo Not The Answer
ABC News - USA

Stand Firm For Gitmo

Washington Times - Washington, DC

Close Gitmo? Hell, No!
Pardon My English - Salem, MA

No Good Reason To Close Gitmo - Washington, DC

Gitmo By Any Other Name Is Still Necessary
Town Hall - Washington, DC

Gitmo Camp Should Stay Open
Sioux City Journal - Sioux City,IA,USA

Trying To Get - And Get Used To - Gitmo

Washington Examiner - Washington,DC

Going Gonzo Over Gitmo
Men's News Daily - Guerneville,CA,USA

Close Gitmo?
National Review Online - New York, NY

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Halliburton to build new $30 mln Guantanamo jail
Thu Jun 16, 7:21 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Halliburton Co. unit will build a new $30 million detention facility and security fence at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States is holding about 520 foreign terrorism suspects, the Defense Department announced on Thursday.

The announcement comes the same week that Vice President
Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the jail after U.S. lawmakers said it had created an image problem for the United States. [...]

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Dumbocracy - The Silence Of Americans
By Kirwan

CONGRATULATIONS America: It seems that we have succeeded where no one else would ever want to go! This nation took a settled Republic and dismembered its form of government turning this democracy into something that looks a lot more like Dumbocracy - and then has had the temerity to wonder why the world thinks we're crazy.

Many writers, including this one, have been trying to figure out why Americans do not react to what this nation is doing in the world today, both at home and abroad. Perhaps the answer is much simpler than many of us imagined.

Initially it appeared that Americans were either just asleep or were willfully blind to all that is and was being done in our name.

It appears that the population is behaving like a herd of dumb animals, slavishly following orders from a certifiable "leader" who has no qualifications, no leadership skills, and no accompanying track record that could ever have justified the failures of GWB in the office that he now occupies.

His "cabinet" has been filled with equally unqualified people who collectively have no experience in military matters, or in the administration of anything meaningful or real. So why does this nation credit this spoiled offspring from a truly criminal family, this AWOL coward who ran away on 911 instead of doing anything at all to interrupt the attacks of that day? WHY has Bush not yet explained himself to the nation or the world?

In the mid nineteen-thirties Sinclair Lewis wrote "It Can't Happen Here" and in that novel he concluded: "Where in all history has there ever been a people so ripe for a dictatorship as ours!"

Even today the US Senate cannot bring itself to apologize to the victims of lynching - 4,743 people killed (illegally) between 1882 and 1968," and we call ourselves a civilized nation! We have taken a dire situation and intensified the risks, destroyed the impediments that might have slowed the rise of anarchy, and all the while we have remained deaf, dumb and blind to what we are creating - WHY?

If the dead of all those wars we entered into - to "Make the World Safe for Democracy" were to be heard on this subject the chorus would be deafeningly opposed to our present course of action. Yet the public in its bubble world of profits and power continues on the one sure path that will bring death and ruination to all the Outlaws say they represent.

These men and women who died in our wars would not applaud what has been done with the sacrifice they did not really choose to make. In WWII 50 million died, for this?

In the two wars we have going now, there are officially over 1700 dead, and there have been over a hundred-thousand exposed to Depleted Uranium and the malignancy of that disease that continues to kill long after the guns have been silenced: this affects not only the GI's but their families as well - yet the public is still not concerned enough to demand real answers from those who got us into this situation.

How many more must die before we begin to scream ENOUGH? What's the magic number here 2,000, 10,000 - 20,000 dead? Who decides what that weighty number will be, who will stand against this injustice, not just for our dead but also for all the people that have been maimed or displaced or killed because of our belligerence?

Why is it so hard for Americans to understand that the people we kill for the OUTLAWS all have families, dreams and would have had futures, had we not slaughtered them, too!

Why do we seemingly not want to know who is responsible for pulling the strings on our homegrown Outlaws - the thugs who sign the orders - then lie about the facts of what they have done and continue to do hourly? One reason that seems to hold a lot of sway is that Congress no longer makes our laws, they've sold that privilege to the highest bidders.

The Government of the United States of America is now of, by and for the Corporations. These are the same corporations, the Corporatocracy, to whom the people of the USA have bequeathed a literal and legal eternal life, while at the same time allowing their own corporate "best interests" to override the needs and interests of the very citizens who made all that largess possible. All the terms of any agreements that the workers for such companies signed on for - are now subject to nullification at the whim of the corporations. The retirement funds, the health-care, and the long-term interests of those who made the profits happen, now represent nothing but "excessive costs" to the corporations that are failing on all fronts, because they have destroyed any incentive for anyone besides the upper-level managers to profit from their existence.

But it gets worse. Americans gave the newly minted outlaw corporations the legal right to exist - now those corporations have no further need for working Americans, because now they have foreign markets to buy their outsourced products, so the public here is overripe to become nothing more than a wage-enslaved herd of animals to be directed and controlled by what suits the corporations - at each and every turn in their corporate schedule for hegemony.

The answers to the above questions are not pretty, but it goes something like this. War is GREAT for business and it's especially good for stockholders, people with jobs at those corporations who hold the SECRET no-bid contracts, and for insiders. Normally Wars are good for the initiating country for the profits that are generated by that action. In this case, since the jobs have been outsourced, down to and including the manufacture of American Flags in China - this nation has actually lost millions of jobs because of the war, and its demands upon our outsourced corporate legions whose profits have never been greater. All this while the public was told to "just go shopping!"

Perhaps it is understandable if the above is the real reason why so many refuse to "know" what's going on - this could explain many things. For instance if the above is true, then it would definitely be understandable that many would indeed fear for the loss of their jobs, or the loss of the income generated in their 401K's, or their stock portfolios - IF they were to publicly demand accountability from those who created 911 and then started these wars to cover-up their crimes. No wonder all the little lambs chose silence over protest: that is what the "smart-money" always does!

Congratulations are in order - it took real perseverance to turn this democracy on its head, and to learn to worship Outlaws while we are killing everything that we have always professed to "believe in." Welcome to the Dumbocracy of the New United States of the Corporatocracy. We have created a prison of the mind that will destroy any rational thoughts we ever had of being human. Maybe, we have become nothing more than pod people without the capacity for critical thought. We have abdicated all that we would each have brought to being viable beings, opting instead to live as footnotes in the margins of the lives of faceless, soulless corporations. In the final analysis we are destroying all that makes each of us valuable - to ourselves or to others.

Think about it - do you really want to be the excuse given for the USA to continue to live as the world's sole Dumbocracy? Break the Silence - NOW!

- kirwan


Jim Mortellaro

Kirwan -

You ask too much of our people. They no longer have a will. No longer have strength of spirit. No longer. And I'm not so sure that you are correct. That Americans fear for their jobs, etc. Maybe not as much as you credit them.

Maybe it's just a loss of interest and of strength of will. Maybe Americans are so dumbed down by their own media, by the "Free Press," dumbed down by the lies of their elected officials and those who seek public office, by their elected 'leaders,' that they are of the mistaken opinion that they will make it all better. After all, is not that the reason "The People" elected them?

Of course, this is all a cop out. Americans are merely lemmings, following the piper piping the same old worn out tunes, same promises which are rarely or never kept. Maybe.

One thing is certain, Kirwan, to ask that The People break their silence now, is foolish beyond measure. For they will not. The time for a silent revolution, a revolution aimed at changing the corrupt politicians in our government, ruled by money, not by their constituencies, has passed us by.

Only a real revolution will change us. And we've not the guts for that.

Those of us who want just that are too damned old. Those of us who do are too damned frightened. The rest of us just don't give a damn.

So much for speaking out.

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An Open Letter to US Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq

I was a soldier for most of the time between 1970 and 1996. I signed out on my retirement from 3rd Special Forces in Ft. Bragg. I had also served in 7th Special Forces, on three Ranger assignments, with Delta for almost four years, as a Cavalry Scout for a while, and in the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantryman. I started my career in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

I thugged around in eight different places in East Asia, Latin America, and Africa, where I pointed guns at people. Like you, I was an instrument of American foreign policies ­ policies controlled, then as now, by the rich.

In the course of that career, I heard everything you have heard and felt everything you have felt about "loyalty."

Tricky thing, loyalty.

Nowadays, when I talk with some of you, or when I hear conversations recorded with you, I hear many who have very serious reservations about these wars of occupation. I had more than reservations from the get-go about Iraq and Afghanistan, and I opposed them as hard as I could, and so did millions of other people around the world.

But that brain-dead piece of sh*t in the White House who is legally your boss, and all his handlers, starting with Vice President Dick "Halliburton" Cheney they sent you to do this thing anyway.

They talked themselves into believing this would be ­ and these are their words ­ a cakewalk. They surrounded themselves exclusively with others who echoed what was already in their minds; and they punished and villified and isolated anyone who told them what they didn't want to hear. Because they made up their minds to conduct these invasions years ago, and with the attacks of September 11 ­ in which Iraq's role was exactly nothing ­ they figured now was their chance to conduct the re-disposition of the old Cold War military into their new plan to build permanent bases in Southwest Asia.

Since they'd made up their minds, they didn't want to hear anything except rosy scenarios for their plans, because these reptile-minded, preppy gangsters are like spoiled children who can't abide anyone f*cking up their toy-emperor fantasies.

But when those fantasies did get f*cked up, by the realities they ran so hard to escape, they continued to pursue their grim agenda in spite of the mounting consequences, because they don't pay those consequences.

If I had my way, we would issue the whole shriveled, manicured lot of them their assault rifles, put them aboard an Air Force transport, tighten the leg straps on their static line parachutes, and boot their sorry asses out from 800 feet right over the middle of Ramadi ­ where they could drop their harnesses in the street and explain democracy to the locals.

But that's just ranting, because I do so despise them. I hate people who get away with sh*t just because they have money and power. And I hate people who sacrifice the lives of others to amplify or protect that power.

But I'm not telling you anything. You all already know by now what generation after generation has learned the hard way. When the rich start their wars, it's not the rich that get sent to fight them. Yeah, a few go get their time as part of putting together a political career, but we know who does the heavy lifting.

And in these conversations that many of you have with me and thousands of other people, we hear you say ­ more and more often now ­ that you know this war is wrong, but that you have to "do your job," because you are loyal to your buddies; because you feel that you have to back them up; and because if you don't go, someone else will have to. And I respect that sentiment.

But I have to challenge this loyalty thing, and I do it out of respect for you, and because I care about you, and because my own son is back there for his second go-around.

A young friend of mine, Patrick Resta, who recently returned from Iraq, and who is now a member of an organization called Iraq Veterans Against the War, recently told me, "My platoon sergeant tried to get us to violate the Geneva Convention, and when we resisted, he threatened us with punishment. He told us that 'the Geneva Convention doesn't exist in Iraq, and that is in writing at the Brigade level.'"

You all know that this is bullsh*t, and if you didn't know, let me give you a news flash about some ­ not all, but some ­ military lifers; and this is coming from a military lifer. Some of them are dumber than dog sh*t. Some of them say things when they don't have the foggiest f*cking idea what they are talking about. Some of them will say any goddamn thing to get you to do what they want you to do.

But then again, there was a memorandum that came down that suggested the Geneva Conventions were void in Iraq. It didn't come from the Brigade level, though; it came from f*cking George W. Bush's office. And it's a lie. That's why they sat there in front of Congress before they made the author of that memo into the Attorney General of the United States ­ get your head around that­ and denied that they meant it.

But it is a lie.

You do not have to follow illegal orders EVER, under any circumstances, and you ARE bound by International Law. You should also be bound by what you know is right, by your sense of plain common decency.

One of the ways they will get you to do things that you will not want to live with for the rest of your lives is to impose that group-think on you. If one of us is guilty, we are all guilty. And "what happens in Iraq stays in Iraq." This is one of the many ways they take that buddy-to-buddy loyalty and twist it into a way to control you, even when they are trying to get you to violate the law and not only the formal law, but to violate what you know is right, to violate your own conscience and jeopardize your own peace of mind for the rest of your life.

And I'm telling you that you do not owe them or anyone else that kind of loyalty.

They know that many of you know that you were sent to do this thing for a pack of lies about weapons of mass destruction and mushroom clouds over New York City and phony al Qaeda connections (and then when that fell apart, you were there to deliver democracy at gunpoint). So they know that many of you can't stay committed to this violent occupation out of loyalty to that gang of thugs in Washington DC, who are busy every day at home undermi ning the same Constitution you swore to protect (from all enemies foreign and DOMESTIC).

They know that you know that plenty of the officers are out there trying to get new fruit salad medals on their Class-A uniforms, and bucking for promotion, by risking your asses on pointless glory patrols. So they know t hat they can't rely on the loyalty of many of you to the chain of command any more either.

Where do they have to go with this, then, after all? What do they tell you?

"You get out there on that Humvee, and face those IEDs ­ together, as loyal buddies."

"You get out there and ransack people's houses in the middle of the night, and make their babies cry ­ together, as buddies."

"You get out there and set up a road block without Arabic signs or interpreters and get put into that situation where you are tense and don't know, and you shoot up that car and kill parents in front of their children, an d you have to live with that for the rest of your lives ­ together, because you are loyal buddies."

"You get out there and lose life, limb, or eyesight face mental and physical ailments for the rest of your lives together, as an act of loyalty to your buddies."

That's the pressure you have on you today. Cover your buddies, and for some of you, go to Iraq so someone else doesn't take your place.

But let's look at the bigger picture here, and for that I'll take you back to Vietnam, before many of you were born. We heard this same bullsh*t then. Almost verbatim. And do you know what one of the main contributing fac tors was for getting us out of that war?

We quit being good soldiers.

The United States military got to the point where it was no longer an effective fighting force, because US soldiers quit taking orders. It got to the point where an officer who was using his men's bodies to chase medals might find himself on the wrong end of a Claymore mine. Now I'm not advocating that again, and I hope we can stop this before it goes that far.

The other thing many soldiers did was become part of the political resistance at home. They looked at this question of looking out for their buddies and for fellow soldiers in the short term, but staying ina barbaric and immoral war. And they realized that the best thing they could do for their buddies ­ not as soldiers, but as human beings ­ was to enlist in the opposition to the war and bring it to an end.

In the process, many of them discovered that it took a lot more endurance and a lot more courage to oppose the war than it did to demonstrate that macho bullsh*t they were expected to display as they continued to do terrible things to those other human beings whose country they occupied.

Here's how you can exercise a deeper loyalty to the troops there now, and to all those who will continue to go as long as this obscenity continues:

Do everything you can to stop the war.

Question every order, and base those questions on the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare. Let them see you keeping a detailed journal of your experience. Send your stories home in letters. Open up discussions about the legitimacy of the war when you are in your billets, even if it does spark controversy. Spread around information you get about the war from sources other than those loud-mouthed news-mannequins on FOX. And email or mail your anonymous membership in to Iraq Veterans Against the War. The link is at the end of this letter.

The day this war stops and they put the last of you on an airplane home, is when you will never again have to smell that fresh-blood smell that stays in your head for hours after you've loaded someone onto a stretcher or rolled them into that big Ziploc bag. The day will come when you all pull out, because this was a losing proposition from the outset, but Bush and his crew were too f*cking stupid to know it.

The best thing is that this war of occupation ends sooner than later, and ­ as an exercise of loyalty to your own conscience, of loyalty to those who are there and those who may go there, and loyalty to the principle of human decency ­ you can find ways to hasten that day. You can find ways to bring closer the day when the Iraqis can get on about the business of taking control of their own destiny, and you and your buddies can sleep in security and comfort in your own homes, play with your children, make love with your partners, and walk down familiar streets unencumbered by the rattling luggage of war.

If bringing this day closer for all of you is the goal, how much more loyal can you get?

Yours for walking unencumbered,

Stan Goff

US Army (Retired)

Stan Goff is the author of "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti" (Soft Skull Press, 2000), "Full Spectrum Disorder" (Soft Skull Press, 2003) and "Sex & War" which will be released approximately December, 2005. He is retired from the United States Army. His blog is at

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US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war
By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
The Independent
17 June 2005

American officials lied to British ministers over the use of "internationally reviled" napalm-type firebombs in Iraq.

Yesterday's disclosure led to calls by MPs for a full statement to the Commons and opened ministers to allegations that they held back the facts until after the general election.

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.

But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. "The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you," he told Mr Cohen. "I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position."

Mr Ingram said 30 MK77 firebombs were used by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the invasion of Iraq between 31 March and 2 April 2003. They were used against military targets "away from civilian targets", he said. This avoids breaching the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which permits their use only against military targets.

Britain, which has no stockpiles of the weapons, ratified the convention, but the US did not.

The confirmation that US officials misled British ministers led to new questions last night about the value of the latest assurances by the US. Mr Cohen said there were rumours that the firebombs were used in the US assault on the insurgent stronghold in Fallujah last year, claims denied by the US. [...]

The Iraq Analysis Group, which campaigned against the war, said the US authorities only admitted the use of the weapons after the evidence from reporters had become irrefutable.

Mike Lewis, a spokesman for the group, said: "The US has used internationally reviled weapons that the UK refuses to use, and has then apparently lied to UK officials, showing how little weight the UK carries in influencing American policy." [...]

Comment: If the psychopathic Bush administration considers any nation and its leader to be an "ally" in the war on terror, you can bet that it is merely a relationship designed to benefit the US. World leaders like Blair may be surprised to find that the chip in the big game that they were given by the Neocons is completely worthless. Other leaders may hope that in befriending Bush, they may be able to influence his decisions. In both cases, we would point out that numerous world leaders thought the same thing about Hitler.

In any case, the rabbit hole always goes deeper than we can imagine. While UK Defence minister, Adam Ingram, is telling the truth when he says that the US used Napalm in Iraq, he is lying when he claims he was not aware of the fact, unless of course he, like Bush, does not read the papers...

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Nov 28 2004
By Paul Gilfeather Political Editor

US uses banned weapon

US troops are secretly using outlawed napalm gas to wipe out remaining insurgents in and around Fallujah.

News that President George W. Bush has sanctioned the use of napalm, a deadly cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel banned by the United Nations in 1980, will stun governments around the world.

And last night Tony Blair was dragged into the row as furious Labour MPs demanded he face the Commons over it. Reports claim that innocent civilians have died in napalm attacks, which turn victims into human fireballs as the gel bonds flames to flesh.

Outraged critics have also demanded that Mr Blair threatens to withdraw British troops from Iraq unless the US abandons one of the world's most reviled weapons. Halifax Labour MP Alice Mahon said: "I am calling on Mr Blair to make an emergency statement to the Commons to explain why this is happening. It begs the question: 'Did we know about this hideous weapon's use in Iraq?'"

Since the American assault on Fallujah there have been reports of "melted" corpses, which appeared to have napalm injuries.

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Bush policies blocked as US mood on Iraq sours
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington
The Independent
17 June 2005

As American and Iraqi casualties on the ground mount relentlessly, President George Bush is in growing political trouble, with Republicans as well as Democrats questioning his handling of a war that has never been less popular here.

In the most visible protest, the veteran Democratic congressman John Conyers organised a forum on the so-called "Downing Street Memo", the July 2002 British Government document indicating that the Bush administration had already made up its mind to invade Iraq, and that intelligence was being "fixed" to fit that policy.

Six weeks after it was leaked in the British press, the memo has belatedly become a hot topic in Washington. Mr Conyers was to present a petition from more than 100 of his Democratic colleagues in the House, signed by 500,000 people, demanding that Mr Bush explain himself.

The White House has haughtily brushed aside this criticism, saying the memo contains nothing new, and again dismissing charges that the intelligence process was politically manipulated. But the administration may find it more difficult to deal with bipartisan demands for an exit timetable for the 140,000 US troops in Iraq.

One of the sponsors of the congressional resolution is Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Democrat and staunch opponent of the war, who ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. More worrying for the White House, another sponsor is the North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, a strong backer of the invasion (and an author of the 2003 "freedom fries" campaign against France in Capitol Hill cafeterias). [...]

There is an increasingly sour mood in America, much disillusioned with Mr Bush, and inclined to share Mr Conyers' belief that "we got into a secret war we hadn't planned, and now we're in it we can't get out". [...]

Mr Bush's approval ratings have tumbled further, to just 41 per cent, the lowest level of his presidency. One reason is dissatisfaction with the economy, most notably the soaring cost of petrol. But the biggest reason is Iraq, which threatens to undermine his second-term strategy. [...]

But in the past month alone, 80 US soldiers and more than 700 Iraqis have died and the Pentagon admits that the violence is as bad as a year ago. Even some of its allies blame the White House for not telling the truth about the extent of the insurgency. "We always accentuated the positive and never prepared the public for the worst," Senator Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said.

The President's signature policy - the campaign to part-privatise social security - has hit a brick wall. "Exit Policy on Social Security is Sought," was a Washington Post headline, above a report explaining how senior Republicans were urging the White House to quietly drop the measure, since it had no hope of passing.

Other Bush policies are also under attack. In a rare act of defiance, the Republican-led House voted by 238 to 187 to scrap a provision of the Patriot Act, which allows the FBI to check library and bookstore records in anti- terrorism inquiries. The President vows to veto any such change, just as he promises to "stay the course" on Iraq, and to press ahead with social security reform. But the line is growing more difficult to hold.

Last night, Senate Democrats planned to block for a second time a floor vote to confirm John Bolton as the next US ambassador to the United Nations, until the White House releases more information on its embattled nominee.Other Republicans are demanding closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, although the White House says it is vital for security.

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Conyers issues statement in advance of hearing; 122 Dems onboard
June 16, 2005

Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) issued this statement in advance of his hearing on the Downing Street documents:

Few issues are more important under our constitutional form of government than the decision to go to war and place our soldiers lives at risk.

It is no insignificant matter when in the fall of 2002 President Bush told us that war would be his last resort. It is not unimportant when on March 6, 2003, the president promised us, "I've not made up [my] mind about military action."

Over the last two months, the veracity of those statements has - to put it mildly -- come into question:

  • On May 1, the London Times released the now infamous Downing Street Minutes, in which the head of Britain's intelligence agency reported "military action [by the U.S.] was now seen as inevitable ... and "intelligenc e and facts were being fixed around the policy." A former senior U.S. official subsequently told Knight Ridder that the minutes were "an absolutely accurate description of what transpired."
  • On May 29, further documents were released revealing that in the summer of 2002, British and U.S. aircraft had doubled their rates of bombing in Iraq, in an apparent attempt to provoke an excuse for war.
  • Last Sunday, the London Times released six new British documents corroborating the Downing Street Minutes and indicating that as early as March of 2002, our government had decided it would be "necessary to create the conditions" to justify war.
  • Today Newsweek is reporting that two high ranking British Officials confirmed that by 2002, Iraq's nuclear weapons program was "effectively frozen" and there was "no recent evidence" tying Iraq to international terrorism.

If these disclosures are true - and so far no one from the Bush Administration has bothered to respond to our letters -- they establish a prima facie case of going to war under false pretenses. This means that more than 1,600 brave Americans and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis would have lost their lives for a lie.

That is why we are here today. That is why 122 Members of Congress -- which as of today includes the Minority Leader -- have asked the president to explain his actions. That is why more than 550,000 Americans are joining with us in demanding answers from the Administration.

We are here because many of us find it unacceptable for any Administration - be it Democratic or Republican - to put our troops in harms way based on false information. The fact that our intelligence turned out to be flawed in no way absolves those who would intentionally mislead our nation or its allies.

We can't do anything in this hearing to change the facts on the ground in Iraq today, but we can pledge today to do everything within our power to find out how we got here and make sure it never happens again.

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White House Press Secretary Mocks 'Downing Street Memo'
Editor and Publisher
June 16 2005

NEW YORK With a hearing about to begin on Capitol Hill on the so-called Downing Street Memo, hosted by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), reporters at today's White House briefing by Press Secretary Scott McClellan naturally raised the subject, albeit briefly.

Rather than ask about details or implications of the 2003 internal British document -- which seemed to suggest that the Bush administration was determined to go to war against Iraq and that intelligence would be “fixed” to support it -- the correspondents wondered if the White House was ever going to respond to a letter authored by Conyers and signed by 88 of his colleagues asking for information about the memo.

A transcript of two separate exchanges follows:


Q: Scott, on another topic, has the President or anyone else from the administration responded to the letter sent last month by Congressman John Conyers and signed by dozens of members of the House of Representatives, regarding the Downing Street memo? Has the President or anyone else responded?

McCLELLAN: Not that I'm aware of.

Q: Why not?

McCLELLAN: Why not? Because I think that this is an individual who voted against the war in the first place [Conyers] and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed. And our focus is not on the past. It's on the future and working to make sure we succeed in Iraq.

These matters have been addressed, Elaine. I think you know that very well. The press --

Q: Scott, 88 members of Congress signed that letter.

McCLELLAN: The press -- the press have covered it, as well.

Q: But, Scott, don't they deserve the courtesy of a response back?

McCLELLAN: Again, this has been addressed….


Q: Scott, on John Conyers, John Conyers is walking here with that letter again, as you have acknowledged from Elaine's comment. But 88 leaders on Capitol Hill signed that letter. Now, I understand what you're saying about him, but what about the other 88 who signed this letter, wanting information, answers to these five questions?

McCLELLAN: How did they vote on the war -- the decision to go to war in Iraq?

Q: Well, you have two -- well, if that's the case, you have two Republicans who are looking for a timetable. How do you justify that?

McCLELLAN: I already talked about that.

Q: I understand, but let's talk about this.

McCLELLAN: Like I said --

Q: Well, just because -- I understand -- but if you're talking about unifying and asking for everyone to come together, why not answer, whether they wanted the war or not, answer a letter where John Conyers wrote to the President and then 88 congressional leaders signed? Why not answer that?

McCLELLAN: For the reasons I stated earlier. This is simply rehashing old debates that have already been discussed.

Comment: Solid smoking gun proof that they lied to the American people to start a war that killed 1700 American troops and at least a hundred thousand Iraqis and they call it 're-hashing an old debate' - these monsters' arrogance is only matched by their blood lust and perversion.

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Nail It to the White House Door

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 15 June 2005

Almost five hundred years ago, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church, initiating a sequence of events which forever altered the geometry of global religion, politics and power. Luther's Theses began with the words, "Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg."

Another document is going to be nailed to another door on Thursday, June 16th. This door opens not to a church, but to the White House. This document is freighted with hard truths, stern demands and nearly a million names. This document, once nailed up, likewise carries with it all the possibilities of change.

Very slowly, and after an embarrassing gap of silence from the news media, the American people have come to hear about the Downing Street Minutes. This document, once confidential but leaked by a British version of Deep Throat, describes in plain language the manner in which the Bush and Blair administrations planned to manipulate their way into an invasion of Iraq. The Minutes describe how intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of invasion, and that a pretense for war had to be manufactured in order to paint a veneer of legitimacy over what everyone involved knew was a patently illegal military action.

Subsequent secret documents have followed the release of the Downing Street Minutes, further exposing the lies, distortions and moral convolutions put forth by the offices of Bush and Blair in their rush to war. According to these documents, which have been verified as genuine by the British government, the decision to invade Iraq was made as early as April 2002, months before anyone in America or Britain became aware that such an act was even being considered.

This April 2002 decision was made between Bush and Blair at a summit in Crawford, Texas. The fact that the decision to invade had been made so early shatters all the mealy-mouthed protestations of Bush and his people, who spent those months before the attack preaching peace and international cooperation while sharpening their knives behind closed doors.

One document, a briefing paper partnered with the Downing Street Minutes, states bluntly that British officials knew an invasion would be illegal, but had no choice but to figure out a way to frame it as legal, because Bush was going into Iraq no matter what and would use British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia to do so. This would make Britain complicit in the invasion even if they decided not to send troops, and so it was "necessary to create the conditions" which would make it legal.

How does one go about creating the conditions for legality? By framing facts and intelligence around the policy, of course. The word "Lie" does not appear in any of the released documents, but the need to lie, the decision to lie, in order to justify war permeates every word.

This document also exposes the Bush administration's rhetorical nonsense about "supporting the troops" by describing how their war plans did anything but. In a section of this briefing paper titled "Benefits/Risks," the authors wrote, "Even with a legal base and a viable military plan, we would still need to ensure that the benefits of action outweigh the risks. A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point."

Virtually silent. 1,706 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq thanks to the virtual silence of the Bush administration, for a total of 1,891 "Coalition" soldiers dead. Multiply that number by at least ten to count the wounded and maimed. Twenty-five American soldiers have been killed in the last week alone. Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed and wounded, and the car bombs continue to explode on a daily basis.

The decision to make war at all costs, the decision to lie about the reasons for going to war, the massive trans-Atlantic effort to make an illegal act appear legal, and the astounding fact that more effort went into manufacturing a political pretext for invasion than went into planning for the invasion and aftermath, all of this led us into the horror-show that is this occupation.

The American military has all but conceded the fact that this war is lost. "I think the more accurate way to approach this right now is to concede that this insurgency is not going to be settled, the terrorists and the terrorism in Iraq is not going to be settled, through military options or military operations," Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, chief American military spokesman in Iraq, said last week. "It's going to be settled in the political process." There are no more viable military options. The war is lost. It is going to be settled in the political process.

So be it.

On Thursday, June 16th, Rep. John Conyers will hold a hearing to investigate and expose the facts revealed by the release of the Downing Street Minutes and the other documents. A variety of witnesses will be called to describe the contents of these documents, and to describe what has been done to Iraq, and to us all, by this administration. Lurking in the corners of the hearing will be a phrase - "High Crime" - that aptly describes what has taken place.

The Conyers hearing will be held on Thursday at 2:30pm EST in room HC-9 in the Capitol Building in Washington DC. This is a small room, so any overflow of public viewers will be directed to the Wasserman Room in the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.

At 5:00pm EST, a rally will take place in Lafayette Park, at the gates of the White House. Rep. Conyers will speak, along with Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son Casey in Iraq in April 2003, as Bush was unfurling his "Mission Accomplished" banner. The hearing and rally have been organized by the After Downing Street coalition, a collection of more than 120 organizations and news outlets that came together for the purpose of nailing the facts of the Downing Street Minutes to the White House door.

That, just before the opening of the rally on Thursday, is exactly what will happen. Several weeks ago, Rep. Conyers published a letter demanding answers from the Bush administration regarding the Minutes. That letter has been signed by more than one hundred Congresspeople, and by nearly a million American citizens. Rep. Conyers will personally deliver this letter and all those signatures to the White House on Thursday.

Jawaharlal Nehru, who with Mahatma Gandhi successfully freed India from British colonial rule, once said, "A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the sound of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance."

Thursday, June 16th, may see such a moment come to pass. It has been a long time coming, and so much remains to be done if the terrible damage of these last years is to be repaired. But a moment is before us. Let us see where this moment takes us.

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There is nothing new in a government lying to their people to start a war. Indeed because most people prefer living in peace to bloody and horrific death in war, any government that desires to initiate a war usually lies to their people to create the illusion that support for the war is the only possible choice they can make.

President McKinley told the American people that the USS Maine had been sunk in Havana Harbor by a Spanish mine. The American people, outraged by this apparent unprovoked attack, supported the Spanish American War. The Captain of the USS Maine had insisted the ship was sunk by a coal bin explosion, investigations after the war proved that such had indeed been the case. There had been no mine.

Hitler used this principle of lying to his own people to initiate an invasion. He told the people of Germany that Poland had attacked first. The Germans, convinced they were being threatened, followed Hitler into Poland and into World War 2.

FDR claimed Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack. It wasn't. The United States saw war with Japan as the means to get into war with Germany, which Americans opposed. So Roosevelt needed Japan to appear to strike first. Following an 8-step plan devised by the Office of Naval Intelligence, Roosevelt intentionally provoked Japan into the attack. Contrary to the official story, the fleet did not maintain radio silence, but sent messages intercepted and decoded by US intercept stations. Tricked by the lie of a surprise attack, Americans marched off to war.

President Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin to send Americans off to fight in Vietnam. There were no torpedoes in the water in the Gulf. LBJ took advantage of an inexperienced sonar man's report to goad Congress into escalating the Vietnam.

It is inescapable historical reality that leaders of nations will lie to their people to trick them into wars they otherwise would have refused. It is not "conspiracy theory" to suggest that leaders of nations lie to trick their people into wars. It is undeniable fact.

This brings us to the present case.

Did the government of the United States lie to the American people, more to the point, did President Bush and his Neocon associates lie to Congress, to initiate a war of conquest in Iraq?

This question has been given currency by a memo leaked from inside the British Government which clearly indicates a decision to go to war followed by the "fixing" of information around that policy. This is, as they say, a smoking gun.

But the fact is that long before this memo surfaced, it had become obvious that the US Government, aided by that of Great Britain, was lying to create the public support for a war in Iraq. [...]

In the end, the real proof that we were lied to about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. That means that every single piece of paper that purported to prove that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was by default a fraud, a hoax, and a lie. There could be no evidence that supported the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction because Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. In a way, the existence of any faked documents about Iraq's WMDs is actually an admission of guilt. If one is taking the time to create fake documents, the implication is that the faker is already aware that there are no genuine documents.

What the US Government had, ALL that they had, were copied student papers, forged "Yellow Cake" documents, balloon inflators posing as bioweapons labs, and photos with misleading labels on them. And somewhere along the line, someone decided to put those misleading labels on those photos, to pretend that balloon inflators are portable bioweapons labs, and to pass off stolen student papers as contemporary analysis.

And THAT shows an intention to deceive.

Lawyers call this "Mens Rea", which means "Guilty Mind". TV lawyer shows call it "Malice aforethought". This means that not only did the Bush Administration lie to the people and to the US Congress, but knew they were doing something illegal at the time that they did it.

All the talk about "Intelligence failure" is just another lie. There was no failure. [...]

The President of the United States and his Neocon associates lied to the people of the United States to send them off on a war of conquest. [...]

Defenders of the government will point to the cases listed at the top of the page as proof that lying to the people is a normal part of the leader's job and we should all get used to it. And because "Everybody does it" th at we should not single out the present administration. But this is madness. We do not catch all the murderers, yet when we catch a murderer, we deal with them as harshly as possible, in order to deter more murderers.

Right now, we have the criminals at hand. and, while other leaders in history have lied to start wars, for the first time in history, the lie stands exposed while the war started with the lies still rages on, to the death and detriment of our young men and women in uniform. We cannot in good moral conscience ignore this lie, this crime, lest we encourage future leaders to continue to lie to use to send our kids off to pointless wars. Lyin g to start a war is more than an impeachable offence; it the highest possible crime a government can commit against their own people. Lying to start a war is not only misappropriation of the nation's military and the nati on's money under false pretenses, but it is outright murder committed on a massive scale. Lying to start a war is a betrayal of the trust each and every person who serves in the military places in their civilian leadershi p. By lying to start a war, the Bush administration has told the military fatalities and their families that they have no right to know why they were sent to their deaths. It's none of their business.

Our nation is founded on the principle of rule with the consent of the governed. Because We The People do not consent to be lied to, a government that lies rules without the consent of the governed, and ruling without the consent of the governed is slavery.

You should be more than angry. You should be in a rage. You should be in a rage no less than that of the families of those young men and women who have been killed and maimed in this war started with a lie.You need to be in a rage and you need to act on that rage because even as I type these words, the same government that lied about Iraq's nuclear weapons is telling the exact same lies about Iran's nuclear capabilities. The writing is on the wall; having gotten away with lying to start the war in Iraq, the US Government will lie to start a war in Iran, and after that another, and after that another, and another and another and another because as long as you remain silent, and as long as you remain inactive, the liars have no reason to stop.

As long as you remain inactive, the liars have no reason to stop.


"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" . --Edmund Burke [...]

So, I want YOU to copy this article off, post it everywhere. This article is placed in the public domain. Mail it to your friends. Then send it to your local media and your Congresscritters and have everyone you know do the same. Get on the phones. Flood their offices. [...]

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- "The Declaration of Independence"

Comment: Neither is there anything new about the US going to war to pursue the interests of the Israeli government.

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Israel-US relations 'in crisis'
BBC News

Israeli arms sales to China have provoked a "crisis" in relations with the US, according a senior Israeli parliamentary official.

Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs and defence committee, made the remarks in an interview on Israel radio.

The sales have angered the US government which fears its own technology may could be used against Taiwan.

The US provides $2bn (£1.1bn) of military aid to Israel every year.

Washington has refused to negotiate with Israel on the issue of the Chinese arms deal for months.

The US has also imposed sanctions on the Israeli defence industry, according to media reports. [...]

Comment: Israel-US relations 'in crisis'? Really? Congress has a very strange way of showing it...

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U.S. demands U.N. to carry out reforms
By IMEMC Staff - Saturday, 11 June 2005,

The US Congressional House International Relations Committee, on June 8, approved a bill that calls for specific reforms at the United Nations.

Congress demanded the United Nations General Assembly to stop what it called, “unilateral decisions against Israel”, Israeli news website Yedioth Ahronot reported.

The bill described the Palestinian resistance to the occupation as terrorism and described its actions against the Palestinians as self-defense. [...]

The measure, which passed in the committee by a vote of 25 to 22, includes several critical proposals which would, allow the United States to withhold dues payments if the United Nations does not make a series of operational reforms. [...]

Comment: Every single resolution (all of them non-binding) that the UN has passed in relation to Israel's treatment of Palestinians has been entirely appropriate and accurately reflected the status of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

William Blum’s "Rogue State" (2003) provided a random selection from the seventies and eighties of the U.S. and Israel’s consistent assault, on not only the Palestinians, but the Geneva Convention’s human rights articles and international ethics. Cast your eye over an adapted list of United Nation resolutions which indicate exactly where their true interests lie: [abstentions not included]

Res. No: 33/110 Yes/No vote: 110-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Palestinian living conditions.

Res. No: 33/113C Yes/No vote: 97-3 (US, Israel, Guatemala)
Subject: Condemnation of Israeli human rights record in occupied territories.

Res. No: 34/46 Yes/No vote: 136-1 (US)
Subject: Alternate approaches within the UN system for improving human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Res. No: 34/90A Yes/No vote: 112-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Demand that Israel desist from certain human rights violations.

Res. No: 34/113 Yes/No vote: 120-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Request for report on the living conditions of Palestinians in occupied Arab countries.

Res. No: 34/133 Yes/No vote: 112-3 (US, Israel, Canada)
Subject: Assistance to Palestinian people.

Res. No: 34/136 Yes/No vote: 118-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Sovereignty over national resources in occupied Arab territories.

Res. No: 34/160 Yes/No vote: 122-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Include Palestinian women in agenda on UN conference on women.

Res. No: 35/13E Yes/No vote: 96-3 (US, Israel, Canada)
Subject: Requests Israel to return displaced persons.

Res. No: 35/75 Yes/No vote: 118-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Condemns Israeli policy regarding the living standards of Palestinians.

Res. No: 35/122C Yes/No vote: 118-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Israeli human rights practices in occupied territories

Res. No: 35/174 Yes/No vote: 120-1 (US)
Subject: Emphasising human rights of nations and individuals.

Res. No: 36/15 Yes/No vote: 114-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Demand that Israel cease certain excavations in East Jerusalem.

Res. No: 36/27 Yes/No vote: 109-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Condemns Israel for its bombing of an Iraqi nuclear installation.

Res. No: 36/73 Yes/No vote: 109-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Condemns Israeli policy regarding the living conditions of Palestinian people.

Res. No: 36/87B Yes/No vote: 107-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Establishment of a nuclear-free weapons zone in the Middle East.

Res. No: 36/96B Yes/No vote: 109-1 (US)
Subject: Urges negotiations on the prohibition of chemical and biological weapons.

Res. No: 36/120A Yes/No vote: 121-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Rights of the Palestinian people.

Res. No: 36/120B Yes/No vote: 119-3 (US, Israel, Canada)
Subject: Palestinian rights.

Res. No: 36/120E Yes/No vote: 139-2 (US, Israel)

Subject: Status of Jerusalem.

Res. No: 36/133 Yes/No vote: 135-1 (US)
Subject: Declares that education, work, healthcare, proper nourishment, national development etc. are human rights.

Res. No: 36/146A Yes/No vote: 141-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip.

Res. No: 36/146B Yes/No vote: 121-3 (US, Israel, Canada)
Subject: Rights of displaced Palestinians to return to their homes.

Res. No: 36/146C Yes/No vote: 117-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Revenues derived from Palestinian refugees’ properties.

Res. No: 36/146G Yes/No vote: 119-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Establishment of University of Jerusalem for Palestinian refugees.

Res. No: 36/147C Yes/No vote: 111-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Israeli violations of human rights in the occupied territories.

Res. No: 36/147F Yes/No vote: 114-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Condemns Israel’s closing of Universities in the occupied territories.

Res. No: 36/173 Yes/No vote: 115-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Permanent sovereignty over national resources in occupied Palestine and other Arab territories.

Res. No: 39/9 Yes/No vote: 134-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Cooperation between the UN and The League of Arab States.

Res. No: 39/49D Yes/No vote: 121-3 (US, Israel, Canada)
Subject: Convening a Middle East peace conference.

Res. No: 39/95A Yes/No vote: 120-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories.

Res. No: 39/95H Yes/No vote: 143-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Condemns assassination attempts against Palestinian mayors and calls for apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators.

Res. No: 39/224 Yes/No vote: 146-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Economic and social assistance to the Palestinian people.

Res. No: 41/91 Yes/No vote: 17-1 (US, Israel)
Subject: Need for result-oriented political dialogue to improve the international situation.

Res. No: 42/69 Yes/No vote: 145-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Calls upon Israel to abandon plans to remove and re-settle Palestinian refugees of the West Bank away from their homes and property.

Res. No: 42/159 Yes/No vote: 153-2 (US, Israel)
Subject: Measures to prevent international terrorism, convene a conference to define terrorism and to differentiate it from the struggle of people for national liberation.

As can be seen, on almost every UN resolution that called for a condemnation of Israeli assassinations of Palestinians or which attempted to improve the lot of the opressed Palestinian people, the US stood with Israeli in opposing justice and peace.

See "Fallen Stars" for more.

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The Patriot Act's Watchdog
A BuzzFlash Interview
June 17, 2005

Bernie Sanders was the only member of the House to vote against the original Patriot Act. Now he's the favorite bet to become the next Senator from Vermont.

There's no stopping Bernie Sanders. The only Independent (I) member of the House of Representatives, he sponsored the amendment that declawed some of the most invasive provisions of the Patriot Act, namely the parts that allowed federal agents to snoop into library and bookstore records without a warrent. Sanders is the favorite bet to become the next Senator from Vermont, replacing the only Independent member of the Senate, Jim Jeffords. In fact, the last poll showed him with an average of a 40 point lead over two potential Republican opponents.

What does all this prove? That if you stand up for what you believe in and keep fighting for it, and don't back down, you earn the respect of your constituents. In the case of Sanders, Vermont has only one Congressional Representative, so his Congressional constituents will be the same people as his Senate constituents.

Americans like someone with backbone and a couple of fists ready to do battle -- and someone who isn't wishy-washy. Not to mention, Bernie's a pro-democracy, pro-working class kind of guy, without apologies. That's why they love Bernie in the Green Mountain State.

Buzzflash: On June 10, there was a meeting of the Judiciary Committee chaired by the Republican chairman from Wisconsin, James Sensenbrenner, at which Congressman Conyers invited witnesses to speak to how the Patriot Act is not going well, and is violating American civil liberties. Congressman Sensenbrenner summarily gaveled the meeting to a close because he didn't like the way it was going, meaning that people were objecting to the Patriot Act, and this was getting on television.

We [at Buzzflash] have very strong feelings about the so-called Patriot Act. We view this as a power play by the Bush Administration to gain powers that would be centralized in the Executive branch and not subject to any checks and balances. As you're aware, in the Senate they had a secret meeting recently about the Patriot Act in which they discussed giving the FBI subpoena powers without having to go through the courtroom. What is your whole take about where we're at with the Patriot Act?

Congressman Sanders: I voted against the Patriot Act. I've introduced, I think, the first legislation to start amending the Patriot Act, which is to take libraries and bookstores out of Section 215. By the way, that was brought to the floor of the House last summer, and at the end of the regulation time, we had won that vote. Tom DeLay kept the rolls open for another twenty minutes and twisted some Republican arms. And we ended up losing it by a 210-210 vote. [That amendment went before the House again on Tuesday and we won 238-187!]

The whole idea of the Patriot Act does concern me very, very much. We do have to be vigorous in protecting the American people from terrorism, but I do not believe that you have to undermine Constitutional rights in order to do so. The Bush Administration's position on civil liberties has been a disaster, not just with the USA Patriot Act, but also moving toward a national ID card, their desire to make sure that the PBS becomes a Republican outlet, the fact that they entertained an extreme right-wing blogger in the White House conference room to allow softball questions to be asked, the fact that it is extremely difficult for members of the opposition to get amendments heard on the floor of the House. There has been a huge abuse of power on the part of the Republican leadership. The Patriot Act is just another step that will chip away at Americans' Constitutional rights.

On the Senate side they are mulling over the FBI being given subpoena powers without having to get the approval of a judge.

I totally disagree with it. In the Congress a number of provisions are up for being sunsetted. The Senate has not sunset anything. In fact, they've expanded the rights of the government to get information from Americans without judicial review. Obviously, that is moving in exactly the wrong direction.

This is a real centralization of power in the Executive branch. The FBI, of course, works for the Executive branch. How much of a threat is that?

You have the most secretive Administration probably in the history of this country, an Administration which claims to be "conservative," but in fact is right-wing extremist. Honest conservatives believe in the decentralization of power. Power back to the states, back to local communities. This Administration, more than any that we can remember, wants power for itself, wants to do away, time after time, with judicial review, has an Attorney General who wrote a recommendation regarding and approving detainee torture, is sending prisoners to other countries to be tortured, has run a very bad process in Guantanamo, to say the least. Obviously, in terms of civil liberties, this is a very dangerous Administration, and we've got to fight back as vigorously as we can. [...]

Buzzflash: Your neighboring state, New Hampshire, has the motto, "Live free or die." The Republican Party traditionally, looking back forty, fifty years ago, was known for trying to preserve states' rights and opposing the concentration of power in Washington. It seems the Bush Administration has kind of turned that on its head.

Congressman Sanders: You're absolutely correct, and this is not widely talked about. I'm on the Financial Services committee, and we see this every day there. I am not a conservative, but conservatism is a respectable philosophy which has given power back to local communities. Conservatives don't like a big federal government. That happens not to be my point of view, but it is an intellectually honest point of view. That is not - underlined - not - what Bush is.

Bush is a right-wing extremist. Wherever they can, they will seize power for the Administration. We see it in terms of issues dealing with financial matters, and a dozen others - we talked about civil liberties before - where they are prepared to preempt states' rights. This medical marijuana thing just the other day is a perfect case in point. Some people think that medical marijuana is a good idea. Some people think it's not a good idea. If a state votes for that, why is Bush pushing the federal government to overturn that? But he does this in every instance. So the point must be made that Bush is many things, but a conservative he is not. He is rather a right-wing extremist who is pushing a hard right ideology, and in instance after instance, is trying to consolidate power in Washington.

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EU extends deadline for ratifying constitution

European Union leaders have extended the November 2006 deadline for ratifying the EU constitution, seeking to salvage the treaty by arguing a period of reflection was needed following its rejection in French and Dutch referenda.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, speaking on behalf of EU leaders, said they accepted the treaty would not be ratified by all 25 nations by November 2006, as previously planned. But he said late yesterday that with more time, voters could be persuaded to fall in line.

“There must be a period of reflection, explanation and debate,” he said. “The process of ratification continues. There will not be a renegotiation because there was never was a ’Plan B.’ But there is a ’Plan D’ for dialogue and debate.”

“I am optimistic it will be possible to persuade people the constitutional treaty is the right instrument for the future.”

As part of the strategy to salvage the treaty by buying time, Denmark announced it would indefinitely postpone its referendum on the charter. Portugal announced early today it also would put its vote on hold.

EU leaders apparently fear other countries could follow the French and Dutch “nos” if made to vote by the previous November 2006 deadline.

Juncker said countries would now be allowed to hold their votes when they judged the moment to be “opportune”. Some countries may not be able to “give us a good response before mid-2007,” he said.

Comment: "Presuading the population to fall in line". This is the vision of "democracy" possessed by EU leaders. When the "right response" from citizens is not forthcoming, the power "elite" simply decide to think up new ways to extract it. The actual problems that people have with the constitution are apparently irrelevant.

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Fatal riot in rural China caught on video

Film spotlights farmers' fight to hold on to their land

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Friday June 17, 2005
The Guardian

Video footage of a deadly clash between farmers and gangs employed by a Chinese electricity company to turf them off their land has been released, providing startling evidence of local conflicts normally kept hidden or denied.

The video, acquired by the Washington Post from a local farmer, shows a gang of young men armed with pipes and shovels as they charge a huddle of peasant protesters who have refused to abandon their land to developers.

After a short one-sided battle, a single farmer is left on the ground, where he is beaten senseless by an assailant armed with a pole. Soon after the cameraman is attacked. There is an explosion, the sound of gunshots and screams of "Run!", then the images suddenly end.

According to the Beijing News, six villagers and one attacker were killed in the incident and at least 48 people were injured, eight of them seriously. The fighting, which occurred last Saturday, was reportedly the latest and most violent of several assaults by up to 300 thugs who were hired by a local utilities company to force the peasants off their land.

Tensions had been simmering since 2003, when the villagers refused to accept an offer from Hebei Guohua Power, a state-owned company which wanted to build a storage facility on their land, about 140 miles south-west of Beijing.

Although local officials approved the sale of the property, the farmers refused to budge. Many have been living in tents on the land ever since, despite increasingly violent attempts to force them to move.

In April during one attack in the middle of the night, the villagers captured a hostage, Zhu Xiaorui.

The 23-year-old told the Washington Post he had been paid 100 yuan (£7), armed with a metal pole and told to "teach a lesson" to the farmers. [...]

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FDA Panel Recommends Heart Drug for Blacks
Fri Jun 17, 3:22 AM ET

WASHINGTON - A drug targeted specifically for black Americans with heart problems is on track to become the first drug in the U.S. marketed to a specific racial group.

A clinical trial of the heart failure medication BiDil in black Americans was halted early when it became apparent that those using it did better than those who did not.

The Food and Drug Administration's cardiovascular drug advisory panel voted 9-0 on Thursday in favor of allowing sales of BiDil.

Comment: One has to wonder what other genetic traits in specific groups have been isolated, and to what end...

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It's Official: Drunks Have Small Minds
Jun 15, 2005, 00:07

New research is beginning to explain how the brains of alcoholics become smaller and lighter compared to those of non-drinkers, and what functions may be lost due to chronic drinking.

Scientists believe a number of factors - including alcohol's toxic byproducts, malnutrition, even cirrhosis of the liver - interact in complex ways to cause brain damage.

A compilation of studies on alcohol-related brain shrinkage presented by researchers at a symposium in Germany last fall is being published Wednesday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The researchers used human and animal studies to map the damage.

Alcohol appears to be particularly damaging to the "white matter" or "hard wiring" -- fat-insulated nerve fibers that allow brain cells to rapidly communicate with other parts of the brain -- according to Dr. Clive Harper, a professor of neuropathology at the University of Sydney in Australia and organizer of the symposium.

Alcoholics can also have shrinkage or retraction of dendrites. These shorter connective fibers allow each nerve cell to "talk" with as many as 10,000 neighboring neurons at a time.

"The most important permanent structural change is nerve-cell loss," Harper said. "Some nerve cells cannot be replaced - those in the frontal cortex, the cerebellum and several regions deep in the brain."

A separate study on mice, published in the same journal but not one of the symposium reports, showed that continuous drinking for as little as eight weeks can produce deficits in learning and memory that continue for up to 12 weeks after drinking stops.

"The learning and memory deficits we found in our mice ... affect all types of learning and memory," said Susan Farr, an associate professor of medicine at St. Louis University and an author of the study. "We found deficits in every type of task we tested the mice in."

Previous studies had suggested that mice had to drink steadily for six months or more to experience permanent deficits.

"Drinking doesn't just produce a hangover," said D. Allan Butterfield, a professor of biological and physical chemistry at the University of Kentucky. "Chronic drinking may lead to permanent cognitive deficits," he added, noting that the findings should be of particular concern to college students who engage in binge drinking.

Comment: And US presidents...

Farr said it's difficult to make precise comparisons between the alcohol dosing of 8-week-old mice and humans.

"This would be equivalent to a human that drank six to eight beers or a bottle of wine every day for six years, and could experience learning and memory deficits for up to nine years after they stopped drinking," she said.

But Harper said many studies show that some brain functions improve with abstinence over time.

"Although working memory, postural stability and visual-spatial ability may continue to show impairment for weeks to months with sobriety, with prolonged sobriety, these brain functions can show improvement."

Harper also noted that, in animal experiments, dendrites that shrink with chronic alcohol use "have been shown to grow and spread again after periods of abstinence - weeks to months - and have been accompanied by improved brain function."

Although it is widely accepted that a predisposition to alcoholism has a genetic component, researchers are still trying to assess how much the physical damage from alcohol further affects the wiring of addiction.

For instance, one study based on autopsies found that genes controlling the manufacture of proteins that help produce nerve insulation - myelin - were suppressed in the brain tissue of alcoholics compared with such genes in non- alcoholics.

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Mutilated cow found near Paradise Hill

He stops short of pointing the finger at aliens, but Ray Riguidel swears what he saw in his pasture last Friday evening couldn’t have been done by humans or animals.

Kirk Sibbald
Wednesday June 15, 2005

Lloydminster Meridian Booster — He stops short of pointing the finger at aliens, but Ray Riguidel swears what he saw in his pasture last Friday evening couldn’t have been done by humans or animals.

Riguidel, 68, has been farming near Paradise Hill his entire life. During that time he’s lost his share of cattle under various circumstances, but the 10-year-old cow he lost this weekend was far different from the rest.

The udder was gone, one eye and ear had been removed and the sex organs were torn away. The remaining 50 or so cattle in the pasture had congregated as far away from the corpse as possible.

There were no tire tracks or footprints. There was no sign of a struggle.

Perhaps most bizarre, however, was a glaring lack of blood despite the numerous and carefully crafted incisions into the carcass.

“When you see a cow go down, you go look, but I didn’t have to look twice,” said Riguidel. “There was a guy with me, and we both popped our eyes.

“I’ve heard about (cow mutilations) before, but it never really sunk in,” he said.

“But it’s sunk in now. It’s real.”

Cow mutilations are a relatively recent phenomenon, with the earliest documented cases dating back to the mid-1900s. While cows have been the main targets in the cases reported throughout North America, less frequent victims have included deer, elk, horses, lambs and dogs.

In some cases, UFO sightings have been reported near the mutilation sites. And even though skeptics will scoff at these extra-terrestrial accounts, no surveillance team has ever come up with any rational explanation for what took place. [...]

Although Larre didn’t put much faith in extra-terrestrial life before this incident, he doesn’t think these stories are so far-fetched any more.

“If you haven’t seen it, I wouldn’t expect anyone to believe it. But if you really see one for yourself, and you understand what coyotes will do, you know it’s not predators,” he said. “Some people say it’s from up above, and I don’t know. I’m not going to say it is or it isn’t. But when you see absolutely no clues and no reason, you really have to wonder.”

Riguidel said he plans to leave the rotting corpse in his pasture to see if any birds or animals will start feeding on the carcass. But since Friday, nothing other than some interested neighbours and a few flies have even come close.

Comment: Does this story pique your interest? If so, you will undoubtedly find Laura Knight-Jadczyk's book "High Strangeness" a fascinating and edifying read.

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