Thursday, June 30, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Obsessive Fantasies of Unlimited Success and Power

A recent news item where a 19 year old 'straight A' English student brutally murdered his elderly parents describes the symptoms of the condition that the boy suffered from:

Brian Blackwell's actions were driven by obsessive fantasies of unlimited success and power - a symptom of his narcissistic personality disorder.

A feature of narcissistic personality disorder is for sufferers to fly into a rage if their fantasy world is threatened.

Sufferers of Narcissistic Personality Disorder have a grandiose sense of self- importance and entitlement and can fly into a rage if that sense is challenged.

They are manipulative, confrontational, show a lack of empathy and are pre-occupied with success, power, brilliance, ideal love and beauty.

The boy was caught because he lacked the resources and perhaps the awareness to cover up his crime. It is generally as a result of cases such as this one that the general public gets a close look at this "condition" known as narcissism or psychopathy. Yet imagine for a moment that Brian Blackwell was the CEO of a corporation or a member of the government of one of the world's most powerful nations. In such a case, he would be in a much better position to not only cover up his crime, but to cover up the fact that he was a psychopath. Armed with access to a controlled press and with a national security apparatus at his beck and call, he could commit the most heinous crimes on a massive scale and still convince most of the world that he was an good and decent individual.

The mass of evidence that have been collected over the past 4 years, suggests that most members of Bush's cabinet, and those individuals and groups that hold the reins of power in the US, collectively suffer from narcissism and/or psychopathy, although to say that these people "suffer" from this condition, or indeed that it is even a "condition" is not entirely accurate. When such psychopaths hold positions of near absolute power it is those on the receiving end of their "grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement" that suffer. Given the resources at their disposal to con the public and cover up their crimes and the fact they all share the same narcissistic vision, the general public is unaware that their leaders are manipulative, confrontational, unable to feel empathy and are pre-occupied with success and power.

In short, by the basic human standards by which most people live their lives, most of the "leaders of the free world" are seriously flawed and deranged individuals who poses a very clear and present danger to us all.

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Bush 'exploited 9/11' in Iraq plea
Julian Borger in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor
Thursday June 30, 2005
The Guardian

Doubts cast on success of speech in halting slide against conflict

Leading Democrats yesterday reacted angrily to President George Bush's address to the nation, accusing him of "exploiting the sacred ground" of September 11 by attempting to link the Iraq war with the terrorist attacks.

In his prime-time speech at Fort Bragg military base, the president mentioned September 11 five times in 30 minutes as he argued that withdrawal from Iraq would leave the US open to more terrorist attacks.

The twitchy mood in Washington was underscored yesterday when the White House was briefly evacuated - and Mr Bush moved to a safe location - in the latest aviation alert to hit the capital. The all-clear was rapidly sounded when the airspace rogue proved to be an innocuous private aircraft.

Instant polls after Mr Bush's speech suggested that he might have solidified support among the largely Republican audience who watched the performance, but it was unclear whether he had made headway against a steadily advancing tide of scepticism about the justification for the war.

Democrats argued that he had offered no new ideas on how to beat the insurgency.

They pointed to the administration's lack of credibility over Iraq in the wake of post-war inquiries that found no weapons of mass destruction and no substantive prewar links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.

Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House of Representatives, said Mr Bush was trying to "exploit the sacred ground of 9/11, knowing that there is no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq".

In his speech, Mr Bush did not repeat his administration's prewar claims of a direct Iraqi role in the September 11 attacks. Instead, he suggested that the insurgents shared a common "totalitarian ideology" with al-Qaida, and that if they were not defeated in Iraq they could use the country as a base from which to launch terrorist attacks on the US homeland.

Senator John Kerry, Mr Bush's opponent in last November's election, said the speech represented the administration's third rationale for the 2003 invasion.

"The first, of course, was weapons of mass destruction. The second was democracy, and now, tonight, it's to combat the hotbed of terrorism," he told CNN.

"But most Americans are aware that the hotbed of terrorism never existed in Iraq until we got there." [...]

Comment: Of course, the simple fact that should, by now, be patently clear to all sane individuals is that the "insurgency" in Iraq is largely made up of ordinary Iraqi men and ex-Iraqi army men who are fighting a US force of occupation in the same way that countless other indigenous populations have done in the face of imperialist agression. The juicy irony then is to found in the fact that it is the Iraq "insurgents" that are fighting for true freedom and representative Democracy while the Bush regime and its US military thugs, despite the lies and propaganda, are the real totalitarian ideologues and murderous terrorists.

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Bush Speech Blurs Fact With Propaganda
Julian Borger in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor
Thursday June 30, 2005
The Guardian

September 11 has been George Bush's rhetorical trumpcard since he climbed the rubble of the World Trade Centre and rallied rescue workers through a megaphone nearly four years ago.

Many believe that was his finest hour and he attempted to invoke the same spirit in his speech on Tuesday night.

With five mentions of September 11 in his 30-minute address, Mr Bush attempted to weld the Iraq insurgency to the battle with al-Qaida in the public's mind, where the two have been drifting apart.

He spoke of the shared "totalitarian ideology" of the Iraqi insurgents and Osama bin Laden's organisation.

The best way to take these enemies on was "to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home", he said.

This time, Mr Bush said, the US would not "wait to be attacked".

Failure in Iraq would leave that country a haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on the homeland, just as Afghanistan had been.

Finally, the insurgents were trying "to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September 11 2001".

Critics were quick to point out that several of those links were more a consequence of the Iraq invasion than a justification for it.

The connections described by Mr Bush at Fort Bragg were more conceptual than the close relationship described by the White House before the war.

The prewar rhetoric portrayed that relationship as long and deep. Dick Cheney, the vice-president, who took the lead in making the claims described evidence of the relationship as "overwhelming".

Mr Cheney said in late 2001 it had been "pretty well confirmed" that the lead September 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2000.

Mr Bush said in October 2002: "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and gases."

He also pointed to the alleged presence of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian Islamist militant in Baghdad, and of a radical Sunni group, Ansar al-Islam, in Kurdistan as further proof of the connection.

Those alleged connections crumbled under postwar scrutiny. (Ed: That is, they can only have been deliberate lies)

Investigations by the Senate's intelligence committee and by the September 11 commission of inquiry found no evidence of an operational alliance between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein. There did seem to have been contacts in Sudan and Afghanistan in the 1990s but they did not lead to a "collaborative relationship", the commission found.

The al-Qaida detainee who claimed Iraqis had given the group chemical and biological weapons training retracted his testimony, and Zarqawi's links with Bin Laden appeared to have been loose before the war but much firmer as a consequence of it.

In an intercepted message to al-Qaida leaders in January 2003, Zarqawi offered to "swear fealty" to Bin Laden in return for support for his group in Iraq, suggesting that no such bond existed between them before the invasion.

Washington's attempts to link Saddam with al-Qaida and September 11 have been a source of strife between Britain and America since before the war.

London did not say so publicly at the time but senior MI6 officials were furious at the prewar attempts to make the connection.

British intelligence officials warned ministers that an invasion of Iraq would increase the threat posed by al-Qaida sympathisers, an outcome that was reflected in the president's speech on Tuesday.

Despite the dearth of evidence of a solid link since the war, the picture of the relationship remains muddy in the US.

Mr Cheney, in particular, has refused to retract his war claims and has continued to hint at hidden connections between Saddam and Bin Laden.

Robin Hayes, a Republican congressman from North Carolina, appeared on television yesterday claiming to have seen secret evidence of Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks which he could not share.

Such cryptic claims were widely rejected as groundless yesterday, but Mr Bush's more subtle rendering of the alleged Iraq-Bin Laden axis will serve to blur the hard lines between fact and propaganda.

Comment: Ah yes, the old "bluring of the hard lines between fact and propaganda", a favorite pastime of Hitler and Goebbels.

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Bush Flops in Prime-time
by Mike Whitney

The Bush prime-time fiasco was the biggest presidential pratfall in the history of the office. Bush was expected to lay out a new vision that would soothe the jittery nerves of the country but, instead, ladled out the same tired bromides he's used for the last 5 years. Even his worshipful audience of servicemen and women slumped into stunned silence as the Commander in Chief exhumed the pitiable rhetoric of the Vietnam era. The reverberations of Westmoreland's "light in the tunnel" speech resonated through the Fort Bragg auditorium as Bush blathered on about "no timetable" and "staying the course". The oratory offered no explanation for why the nation continues to slip beneath the Iraqi quicksand.

"The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror. The war reached our shores on September 11, 2001. The terrorists who attacked us and the terrorists we face murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent," Bush moaned.

Nothing new here; just the same threadbare platitudes reiterated in the familiar Bush-drawl.

"Our mission in Iraq is clear. We are hunting down the terrorists. We are helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror."

"Terrorists"? Even the polls show that most Americans now understand that the insurgency is mainly comprised of Iraqis, so why invoke the terrorists?

"Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom... They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well."

Now the speech begins to take shape and we can see that the expectant nation will not get a straight answer, just more nattering about the scourge of terrorism.

"The terrorists know that the outcome will leave them emboldened or defeated. So they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction. And there is no limit to the innocent lives they are willing to take." Let's far, the terrorists, as Bush likes to call the Iraqi resistance, has killed 1,700 American servicemen. Bush's Legions, on the other hand, have killed more than 100,000 Iraqis. Who are the terrorists?

"The terrorists can kill the innocent but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11," Bush crooned.

At this point the camera scanned the audience of glowering servicemen; some of whom looked glazed by the rhetoric and others who still looked hopeful that they would hear something that might clarify why they were headed back to the Iraqi hell-hole. Nothing Bush said would ease their burden.

. "progress is being made. We are improving roads and schools and health clinics and working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity and water. Together with our allies, we will help the new Iraqi government deliver a better life for its citizens."

"Progress"? By every objective standard, things are worse now then they were under Saddam (which was confirmed by a recent UN report). Power is normally on from 3 to 6 hours a day, hospitals lack essential medicines and supplies, cholera and typhoid have broken out in areas of the capital, there's been an up tick in mysterious cancers (depleted uranium?), sewage and sanitation are worse than before the war, clean water is scarce, and unemployment has skyrocketed to 70%.

The new Iraqi government is "building the institutions of a free society, a society based on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and equal justice under law;" the very same "institutions" that are currently under fire at home by the Bush Administration.

"There will be tough moments that test America's resolve. We are fighting against men with blind hatred and armed with lethal weapons who are capable of any atrocity.. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001."

9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11, and, oh, by the way, did I mention 9-11?

So far, the only people to use "lethal weapons" (WMD) in Iraq have been the US Army. The same rule applies to Bush's charge that the Iraqi resistance is "capable of any atrocity". Perhaps, he should review his notes on Abu Ghraib and Falluja and decide who was really responsible.

"And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens!" Bush boomed.

Ah, yes; the old canard of the Islamic hordes swooping across the Great Plains, ravaging our women and wiping out our precious consumer culture. Just 2 weeks ago the LA Times reported that the CIA allowed two of the 9-11 terrorists to enter the country and intentionally withheld the information from the FBI. In other words, the "killing of our citizens" occurred because someone at the highest level of law enforcement was ordered to "stand down" and let the threat materialize.

"And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces."


A shameless plug for the military?

"Be All You Can Be" in 115 degree heat covered in sand fleas ducking mortar rounds?

Wouldn't it have been nice if Bush had honored that "higher calling" and showed up for his service in the Alabama National Guard instead of absconding on a coke-binge to some undisclosed location?

"Well, it has been difficult. And we are prevailing...May God bless you all."

"Prevailing"? Not according to Senator Chuck Hagel, who admitted just last week that the US was "losing in Iraq" and that "The White House is completely disconnected from reality;" a view that is shared by a larger part of the American public every day. Those fears were not allayed by Bush's predictable 35 minutes of inane chatter.

Bush had his work cut out for him last night. He had to articulate a clear strategy for resolving the current firestorm in Iraq. He failed to do that; relying instead on demagoguery and the frayed imagery of a global war on terror. The American people deserve better.

He produced no plan, no strategy, and no vision; just a continuation of the same trends; the steady erosion of national confidence, a precipitous decline in credibility, and the daily loss of life.

Death by a thousand cuts.

Already, the polls have signaled what we all should have anticipated. Democrats and liberals didn't watch the speech; they've had it with the Dear Leader. All Bush had to do was win over "the faithful"; the Republicans and conservatives who still want to believe in him, but are waiting for a straight answer.

They didn't get one last night.

Comment: A reader posted the following comments on our Signs Guestbook:

::In response to Bush's speach at Ft. Bragg::

Signs comment states: true psychopathic form...accused the "insurgents" of the crimes for which his administration is guilty of committing or ordering.


I agree that this is an accurate assessment of the speech. In this light it is interesting to watch old speeches from Bush and his father. It seems as though they are actually telling us what they are doing and what they plan to do. An example would be when they claimed Al-Qaida was 80% complete on plans for a new terror attack.

Given the connections I've learned from SoTT and Cass there appears to be another way to view the speech. That is that Bush is actually talking about the Mossad. If this is all part of a plan to finish the Jew Agenda that was started in WWII, then the current administration may be a large part in bringing about that plan.

I heard reports that Bush told Putin he "was going to handle the Israel issue".

Here's a quote from the speech:

"Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington, and Pennsylvania."

In this light, does it not appear as though he's talking directly about the Mossad?

Take the following link. Can't prove it one way or another but I wouldn't put it past them.

If this is true maybe Bush is protecting America from this by agreeing to help take out the Arab countries that are in the way of the realization of Greater Israel. Granted, I'm not so naive to think he's protecting America for us poor folks. But he could actually be "telling the truth" to the elite within his cabal through these speeches.

Take this further comment from the speech...

"Their aim is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression -- by toppling governments, by driving us out of the region, and by exporting terror.

To achieve these aims, they have continued to kill -- in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, and elsewhere."

Sure, to those uninformed it sounds like he's talking about those scary Al-Qaida guys. But knowing what we do, could he possibly be simultaneously talking about the Mossad and Israel? (and of course his own cabal)

Now look at the Jewish controlled Press in America. Poll numbers are shown extremely low (45% approval ratings). And check out this poll from MSNBC.

Do you believe President Bush misled the nation in order to go to war with Iraq?

94% said yes (out of 61,000 responses)

Preparing for the next attack?? Jewish/American relations on the rocks??

The puzzles are fun, no?

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Bush's speech on Iraq draws smallest audience in US: survey 2005-06-30 13:13:37

LOS ANGELES, June 29 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush's latest address to call Americans to stand firm in Iraq drew the smallest US TV audience of his tenure, according to a study released in New York on Wednesday.

Nielsen Media Research, a media tracking company headquartered in New York, US, said that an estimated 23 million television viewers tuned in to Bush's half hour speech on the Iraq war on Tuesday night. [...]

In a news release issued from its headquarters in New York Wednesday, the company said the number was 8.6 million viewers below Bush's previous low as president, his August 9, 2001, speechon stem cell research, which was carried on six networks.

By comparison, his May 1, 2003 speech from the deck of an aircraft carrier declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq averaged 48.4 million viewers.

Bush garnered the biggest US TV audience of his presidency -- 82 million viewers on nine networks -- when he addressed a joint session of the US Congress nine days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks on America.

Comment: From a reader:

Bush spoke tonight "selling" his war policy. I wasn't listening because of book club, but then I wouldn't have listened anyway. [My husband] did hear it and the commentary afterward. All agreed Bush was speaking to those who support his war and wasn't persuasive to the rest of us. What a mess.

Many commentators have referred to Bush's recurring use of 9/11 to justify the war in Iraq. They point out his frequent referral to 9/11 during Tuesday night's speech, might go a bit further and see that the two events are inextricably linked in Bush's own mind. Such a link makes perfect sense when you know that 9/11 was an inside job pulled off as a joint operation by the US and Israel. Without 9/11, Bush would not have been able to go to war against Saddam. There would have been no invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was the "new Pearl Harbor" so desperately needed by the neocons to justify their aggression.

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Iraqi Resistance Replies To Bush Speech: Sets Terms For U.S. Surrender

Rafidan-The Political Committee
The Mujahideen Central Command (MCC)
Baghdad- The Republic of Iraq

Release No. 14

Title: Bush……..Why the Hurry?!?!

Peace to you by the Grace of God,

We solute the dear resistance factions and May god be your protector.

The War Criminal Rumsfield has spoken of lies when he claimed negotiations, for he today curls in Pain.

We Rafidan, represent part of the resistance factions, confirm only to reinforce a driven nail in this war criminal's head, that there is no such word "negotiation" in our political agenda. We have a phrase though, that calls to fight the invaders till their defeat, & war criminals are to be brought to justice, Iraq is to be compensated for the losses, & revenge must be taken from all those who supported the sanctions & the annihilation of the Iraqi people & their army.

Let us all ask ourselves, why Rumsfield, Rice, & Blair, reiterated this lie in a synchronized manner!

Before Two Years, Bush:

- Declares war on us, & the congress rejoices, the congress rises and falls seven times to express their support to this tyrant.

- He acquired media statistics that declare 85% support from his people who are waiting for Iraq to be annihilated from this planet. (Today, we know where he got his figures!)

- This tyrant issued many laws which reduce freedom & all were silent!

- He insults the U.N. & governments till they recited his prayers and submitted to his will in support of his so called war on terror.

- He cried for the innocent lives taken on 9/11, everyone believed him, despite all the evidence that the stunt was prepared by his CIA and the Zionists and patsies.

Where is Bush Today?

- The congress shouts, where are the WMDs? Why did we lose 2000 of our soldiers and 12,000 injured as admitted by the pentagon, where were 200 billion Dollars spent, which companies made the profits? Then the congress demands the resignation of Rumsfield!

- His new figures claim 60% of his people urge for a quick withdrawal from our land.

- Proceedings for a popular war tribunal have already begun in Istanbul and in European Cities!

- His Generals need 10 to 12 years and 150 thousand soldiers on continued Duty & over one trillion Dollars every five years & want to leave the whole world to deal with the Iraqi Resistance!

- His alliances crumble and his partners in crime flee gradually.

- Blair is defeated in Parliament and will be relieved from his party within a year!

- Europe, The Russians, the Chinese are watching the raging tired and bleeding American bull, and are rejoicing the strikes of the resistance in heart. Before the final blow!

- His soldiers flee the fields to live as refugees, to form groups of influence, along with pilots who call for the refusal of active duty in protest to the lies told.

- Bush today begs for international assistance and talks are held worldwide and round the clock to find what one can, of contributors who may fund the puppet governments of Ayad Allawi and Jafari, no one wants to invest!

What Happened?

When Rumsfield visited Baghdad lately, quietly, like the coward thief he is, he met with his secret army which he quietly established in 2002 from 130 criminals and with the cost of 140 million dollars of an annual budget. Among them is the former American Ambassador & James Styles, The hit squad leader from the Salvador. & Steve Castle the head of the Sabotage and assassination forces in Bolivia, & Colombia, he is today the advisor of the puppet Persian interior minister they have appointed in Baghdad.

The Summary of their meetings was, simply, that it is not possible to bring defeat to the resistance. The best solution is to seek a political way out, or to withdraw, under U.S. conditions.

As for the cause of their depression, it is due to the fact that they have tried all the tricks of the trade in their books. Assassinations, Sabotage, market fires, unemployment, sectarian agendas, lack of electricity, cutting water supplies, blowing water pipelines, poisoning water reservoirs & food reserves, mixing wheat with heavy metal powders, but the Iraqis were patient, and have found the remedy to this disease!

Rumsfield was surprised, due to the resignation of Paul Wolfowitz, his accomplice in crime after failing to find a solution that may set aside the firepower of the resistance. For he has not yet forgotten the night we forced him to run for his life in his under pants from the Rashid Hotel in the early days of the occupation. The news broadcasters may remember his humiliation! It seems that he convinced his master that as a Zionist that he is, he is more capable in reducing the world population and put those who remain alive in dept to America for as long as they live using the world bank!

Suddenly, the American Administration, were surprised due to their stupidity that Iran did not respect the secret deal they agreed upon. In cooperating to bring stability at least in the southern areas of Iraq, Iran has extended its interests to increase their influence to other Gulf States, like Bahrain where we see the continued sectarian demonstrations and in Saudi Arabia, where Shiites reside in Hasa and Dammam, also oil rich areas! These areas are now boiling with sectarian agendas and with the direction of Qumm in Iran and under the supervision of Persian Sistani.

Today the Pentagon has discovered that there is a doomed future to the oil rich area and the future explosive environment lurking in the dark corner ahead. Especially after the eventual discovery that they just made in finding out that Iraq, is the true black hole that will pull this Middle East to an anarchy which know one can predict it's end!

Here, the European Community entered in fear and compromised with the bush administration to accept & recognize the puppet governments in return for political solutions.

Rumsfield also found a solution which he thinks may save him!

The return to the Kissinger method in Vietnam, when he requested negotiations, he began bombardment!

He began with the destruction of Al Qaem, Karabila, in his spear operation, and instructed his puppet Persians in the appointed government to initiate operation thunder, to kidnap, kill and imprison! He also used the Dagger operation of "Rustum" ( Persian General who lost the battle of Qadisiah against the Arabs in history) to stab the innocent day and night in the streets, cars, and markets. Then he requested to negotiate; for he seeks knowledge of the secrets that bring life to the Iraqi resistance, who are it's true leaders? who will sell out and accept treason? Why do they prefer Iraq as a future than the current and running bank accounts? Why can they not be bought?

Thus, Negotiations are the new lie of the weapons of mass treason!

We predict more air raids and destruction of our cities and villages. More killing and kidnaps, just as they did in Vietnam and Algeria before they fled. This in return, gives us the right to use all the types of weapons in our arsenal because American Fascism will not be defeated easily and the fight will continue to be fierce for some time and bloody too!

We also predict, that the son of all criminals Ayad Allawi will be re-awarded control of the rudder of treason along with Chalabi, Sistani, and Badr Militia. Because they are all now, in one boat, on their journey of defeat. Allawi, is now performing and visiting Arab Governments which continue to treat him as a prime minister still, by orders of their American Embassies.

What Does Rafidan Say?

1- We have forced the invaders now to recognize our existence and naming clearly the Iraqi Resistance and thus have forced the general media to follow suite.

2- We have rendered useless the enemies high tech space weaponry and satellites and are hunting them down on our land at the time of our choosing.

3- Because they practice crimes and kill people indiscriminately, this gives us the right to reply with weapons they cannot imagine we will present to all our sons in order to bring the defeat of the American Fascists administration starting from Sharnaka 2 and Masamir 4 ?!?!

4- As long as the invaders destroy our nation, then there is no reason to stop any Iraqi or Arab abroad from striking back in their countries of residence or at enemy bases in occupied Kuwait or Jordan!

Finally, Do you really want to Negotiate? We Accept, But under our Conditions!

- All enemy troops are to withdraw to the occupied city of Kuwait.
- Then we sit under the exact same tent, that Schwarzkopf erected at Safwan, only this time it is to be erected in Matlaa the generally known and accepted borders of Iraq, and with the authorization of our new government, which will be declared soon at the correct timing from our Baghdad, we will negotiate your surrender !

We have the Oath of God!!!

The Political Party
The Mujahideen Central Command
Baghdad the 20th of Jamadi first 1426 H
The 27th of June 2005 M

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'New weapon' downed US Chinook in Afghanistan
Abc News Online
Thursday, June 30, 2005. 5:50am (AEST)

The Taliban claims to have used a new weapon to shoot down a US military helicopter in a remote region of Afghanistan.

The 17 US troops, including special forces, aboard the Chinook helicopter that crashed after being hit by ground fire in an anti-militant operation are believed to have died, a US official said.

The casualties from Tuesday's crash would be the heaviest for US forces in an incident linked to hostile fire in Afghanistan since they invaded to overthrow the Taliban in 2001.

"We presume that all were lost," said a US official in Washington, who asked not to be identified, when asked if all those aboard - including elite US Seals Special Operations troops - had been killed in the crash.

The official said that the twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook was believed to have been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in mountainous terrain near the border with Pakistan, an attack claimed by Taliban guerrillas.

Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi said fighters shot down the aircraft in the village of Shorak using "a new type of weapon" he did not describe.

"This is a huge success for the Taliban," he said, adding that the fighters had video of the crash and would post photographs on their web site.

The US military said the Chinook crashed in remote and mountainous Kunar province on Tuesday afternoon while bringing troops to reinforce soldiers in an anti-Al Qaeda operation.

It was hit by ground fire as it approached its landing zone and crashed about one to two kilometres away, US military spokesman Colonel Jim Yonts told a news briefing in Kabul.

He said fighting continued in the area on Wednesday involving a large force of US-led troops and a "very determined enemy".

In early June, the US military said a helicopter had been attacked in Uruzgan province by a suspected surface-to-air missile.

Such weapons, supplied by the US, were used to great effect by guerrillas fighting Soviet occupiers in the 1980s, but the Taliban have not been known to use them. [...]

Comment: On the day Bush spewed more of the same old lies about the war on Iraq on US television and refused to address the very real and rapidly growing concerns of many Americans, US soldiers in Iraq were quite possibly killed by weapons supplied by the US itself. After all, the US is the largest arms supplier in the world. What better way to profit handsomely than to sell US weapons to the "bad guys", and then declare war and profit again from supplying weapons to the US military and reconstructing the conquered nation?

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Bush OKs Shake-Up of Spy Agencies
Associated Press
Thu Jun 30, 1:40 AM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush granted the new national intelligence chief expanded power over the FBI on Wednesday and ordered dozens of other spy agency changes as the White House heeded a presidential commission that condemned the intelligence community for failures in Iraq and elsewhere.

But almost as soon as the details were unveiled, the White House was defending itself against suggestions that the moves were simply adding more bureaucracy without making changes that could have prevented misjudgments like those made on Iraq.

"It's an unfair characterization to say it's simply a restructuring," said Bush's homeland security adviser, Frances Fragos Townsend, who led the 90-day review of the recommendations from the president's commission on weapons of mass destruction. "It's a fundamental strengthening of our intelligence capabilities."

The White House said it endorsed 70 of the 74 recommendations from the commission, which was led by Republican Judge Laurence Silberman and former Democratic Sen. Charles Robb and conducted a yearlong review of the 15 intelligence agencies. Bush formed the commission under pressure after the top U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq resigned and started a firestorm of controversy over the accuracy of the prewar Iraq intelligence.

In its scathing 600-page report released in March, the commission called the spy community "dead wrong on almost all of its prewar judgments" about Iraq's weapons.

Robb called the White House's broad acceptance of the commission's proposals "truly extraordinary."

Among the most significant changes the White House offered Wednesday, the Justice Department will be directed - with congressional approval - to consolidate its counterterrorism, espionage and intelligence units under one new assistant attorney general for national security.

The White House ordered the creation of a National Security Service inside the FBI. And Bush sought to strengthen the hand of the new national intelligence director over the FBI, giving him expanded budget and management powers over the bureau.

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union said the FBI's new security service would lead to an "erosion of constitutional protections against law enforcement actions."

But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said, "Every law enforcement official within the FBI is going to remain under the supervision of the FBI director and, ultimately, the attorney general."

The White House will also have the national intelligence director, John Negroponte, establish a National Counter-Proliferation Center that will coordinate the U.S. government's collection and analysis of intelligence on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons - a task now performed by many national security agencies.

Negroponte's top deputy, Gen. Michael Hayden, said the center would only have 50 to 100 employees, thereby avoiding some insiders' worries of "brain drain" as new offices tap into existing ones.

A number of Bush administration critics welcomed the reforms.
President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, called the changes to Negroponte's authority over the Justice Department and the counterproliferation center "very positive."

"All of this is moving boxes to some degree," said Berger. "I do think that in this case organization is important. ... The real test is how it is implemented."

While the White House portrayed the changes as a near universal endorsement of the commission's recommendations, some suggestions were not completely followed.

For instance, the commission said Negroponte should not be part of the president's morning intelligence briefing. But Hayden said he or Negroponte still attend the secretive daily sessions.

In other moves, the White House also:

- Issued an executive order allowing the freezing of any financial assets in the United States of citizens, companies or organizations involved in the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The order designates eight organizations in Iran, North Korea and Syria.

- Created a new national coordinator for human intelligence, or classic spycraft, who would guide clandestine activities of the entire intelligence community.

- Asked Congress to reform its oversight of the intelligence community, a controversial proposal that could provoke turf wars and other difficulties on Capitol Hill.

Hayden acknowledged that some of the changes, such as those aimed at improving intelligence analysis, will take years to institute. However, he said others, including the human intelligence chief, could be implemented within two months.

House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., and the panel's top Democrat, California Rep. Jane Harman, praised the White House's moves as steps that will help ensure policy-makers get "accurate, timely and actionable intelligence."

Yet, in an interview, Harman said the issues still require "sustained attention" to ensure that Negroponte isn't "forever fending off turf attacks."

The White House said three of the commission's recommendations require further study, including one that would have called for accountability reviews within three intelligence offices under fire for mistakes in the prewar Iraq intelligence. Hayden noted the recommendation focused on organizational accountability and said reviews were under way.

Another recommendation, regarding the management of covert action, was rejected and remains classified.

Following the advice of blue-ribbon panels, numerous changes have been made to the intelligence community since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Many were contained in a sweeping intelligence reform law passed by Congress in December.

"I think we now know what the shape of the animal is going to be," Berger said, "and we have to make sure that the animal is ready to hunt."

Comment: The line between the FBI and CIA seems to have become even more blurred. We are reminded of one of Hitler's favorite tactic s: he would give several officials the same task and let them duke it out and race against each other to come up with a "better" solution. Everyone was so busy competing against each other for Hitler's favor that they had far less time to think about overthrowing him.

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Mystery planes continue to circle over Lodi
By Layla Bohm
News-Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, Jun 29, 2005 - 08:59:03 am PDT
A Cessna 182 flies over Lodi. The plane, which is owned by a Delaware company, is one of at least two that have been circling over the city for nearly four weeks. (Courtesy photo by Ken Cantrell)
The white plane, with its baby blue striping, spends hours and days circling over Lodi. But the plane isn't from the city. It's not even from California.

The plane has traveled all the way from Delaware to move in slow circles over Lodi. It hasn't exactly blended in.

The city is small enough that when a medical helicopter makes one pass overhead, citizens look up. When gang problems flare and local police officers team up with the California Highway Patrol to make use of a helicopter, police dispatchers are besieged with calls from citizens.

So, when white planes began circling over Lodi about four weeks ago -- around the same time scores of FBI agents converged on the city to conduct a terrorism investigation -- people took notice.

"He's doing something. He's doing some reconnaissance," said Lodi resident and pilot Arlene Farley, who even got out binoculars to peer up at one of the planes.

What the planes are doing remains a mystery, though most people believe the activity coincides with the FBI investigation that led to the arrests of five Lodi men. In other parts of the country, small planes have flown in circles over cities also under investigation on ties to domestic and international terrorism.

How long will the planes stay in Lodi?

What are they doing?

Where are they from?

Can they really see anything from that high up in the sky?

Assuming they're government-run, how much are they costing taxpayers?

Some of those questions go unanswered as local and federal officials remain mum.

At least one question, however, is partially answered -- though that leads only to more mysteries.

One of the planes circling over Lodi is registered to a Delaware company. Northwest Aircraft Leasing Corp. is based in Newark, Del., according to Federal Aviation Authority records.

The company lists an address, but it only leads to a box inside a mailing store, located in a town with a population of a little more than 28,000.

Northwest Leasing isn't listed on the Better Business Bureau's Web site, but it does reveal that several other businesses, including online weight loss programs, share the same address. One says it has a "Dept. 357," another simply uses the numeral sign. An appliance sales company lists "PMB 319," otherwise known as a mailbox.

Employees at a dime store down the street and with the city's building department both said the East Main Street building isn't big enough to have "suites."

Newark isn't a large town, and the state of Delaware isn't that big, either. However, doing business in the state is easy: Incorporating a business only starts at $89, and annual franchise taxes can be as low as $60, according to Web sites offering to help potential business owners get started.

"When companies lease their aircraft out of Delaware, it's because they don't have to pay taxes out of Delaware," said Ross Dubarry, operations manager for Hayward Executive Airport.

Officials remain silent

A Lodi businessman and public figure, who didn't want his name used because he thought people would think he was crazy, said he called the Federal Aviation Authority to ask about the planes and was told that the pilots were likely listening to cell phone conversations and using infrared to track people. He was also told the planes were flying out of the Hayward airport.

When given the tail number of the Delaware-owned plane, Dubarry -- who is new to the area and didn't know where Lodi was -- initially said it sounded familiar and that the plane was being housed at the airport. After consulting a computer for several minutes, though, he told a reporter that there was no record of the plane.

Area airports had no record of the plane, either.

Local and federal law enforcement officials also aren't saying much.

FBI spokeswoman Angel Armstrong wouldn't comment on the cell phone and infrared tracking information that the local businessman heard about from the FAA. [...]

When police officers heard that the planes flying over Lodi were tied to an unknown corporation in Delaware, they weren't surprised.

They joked that the planes overhead are watching their every move, and that if a reporter dug far enough, she'd just vanish one day. They also didn't want their names published.

It's not likely that the planes will suddenly do away with local journalists, but when reporters for the New York Times began investigating planes operated by private corporations with no real addresses, their search ultimately led to the CIA.

According to a May article of more than 2,500 words, citizens had agreed to let government officials list shells corporations in their name, and the businesses then operated aircraft. The planes were coincidentally flown to places around the world when suspected terrorists happened to be moved.

Are the Cessna 182s flying over Lodi getting ready to whisk people away to a far-off place, or perhaps Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? That's probably not likely for now, since the five men arrested in Lodi have not been charged with terrorism.

Two men are charged with lying the FBI agents about their participation or knowledge of terrorist training camps in Pakistan. Three other men are held solely on immigration violations.

In the meantime, FBI agents continue to swarm Lodi, and the planes continue to circle. [...]

Surveillance ideas

For the most part, the planes are flying in continuous circles to the left, which could indicate that they're equipped with forward-looking infrared, known as FLIR.

According to a March 2003 publication of Fields of View -- put out by FLIR Systems, which sells the surveillance equipment -- FLIR can be used in fixed wing planes just like the ones flying over Lodi. Using it, a plane flies in left-hand circles over the area under surveillance, using thermal imaging to track people.

The publication recommends using a Cessna 182 -- the same type of plane flying over Lodi.

Could that be what the planes are doing up there? Perhaps.

In the last few years, circling planes seem to have accompanied federal terrorism investigations. Portland, Ore., and Bloomington, Ind., were among two cities where citizens called police and local media.

In Lackawanna, N.Y., where six men were detained in a similar terrorism investigation in September 2002, Cessna planes were used to track e-mails, cell phones and wireless Internet activity, as well as keeping track of some suspects, Police Chief Dennis O'Hara said. [...]

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Italian intelligence knew of CIA plan to kidnap imam: report
Thu Jun 30, 4:33 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The CIA informed Italy's intelligence service it planned to kidnap an Islamic leader in Milan two years ago, The Washington Post said quoting current and former CIA veterans.

Neither Italy or the United States have officially acknowledged the abduction, which made the news on Friday when the Corriere della Sera daily in Rome reported that a judge had issued arrest warrants for 13 CIA agents.

The abduction has fueled anti-US feelings in Italy.

Osama Mustafa Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, was seized in a street of Milan on February 17, 2003, by two Italian-speakers claiming to want to check his identity. He has been missing since, the Corriere reported.

Hassan was the former imam of a Milan mosque which had been placed under close watch following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

The CIA agents are suspected of abducting Hassan and transferring him to the US military base at Aviano in northern Italy, and from there to an Egyptian jail, where his entourage claim he was tortured during interrogation.

Italian Judge Chiara Nobili issued at the request of the anti-terrorist division of the state prosecutor's office, the Corriere said.

The CIA agents targeted included the alleged head of the operation, who was an accredited diplomat with the US consulate in Milan at the time, the Italian newspaper wrote, quoting reports by Milan magistrates.

The Central Intelligence Agency "told a number of people" about its kidnapping plan, but "certainly not the magistrate, not the Milan police," an unnamed CIA veteran told The Washington Post.

The agents said the CIA station chief in Rome -- who has since retired but remains undercover -- briefed and sought approval from his counterpart in Italy for the operation.

However, the daily said it was unclear how far up the chain of command the information was shared or whether the office of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was aware.

The Milan operation, the CIA officials said, was conceived by the Rome CIA station chief, organized by the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, and approved by the CIA leadership and by at least one person at the National Security Council.

They also said it was standard practice for the CIA and its Italian counterpart to agree to keep official silence on the covert kidnapping operation if it became public.

Knowledgeable intelligence officials told the Post that the CIA has conducted more than 100 such apprehensions since September 11.

Comment: This article is obviously an attempt by the US to say, "We didn't do anything wrong! They knew what we were up to!"

If elements of Italian intelligence and/or the Italian government were aware of what the CIA was up to, perhaps more arrest warrants should be issued. After all, while Berlusconi is best buddies with Bush, the Italian people don't seem to be nearly as supportive of US policy as their psychopathic leader.

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US faces prison ship allegations
Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 19:46 GMT 20:46 UK

The United Nations says it has learned of serious allegations that the US is secretly detaining terrorism suspects, notably on American military ships.

The special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, said the claims were rumours at this stage, but urged the US to co-operate with an investigation.

He said the UN wants lists of the places of detention and those held.

The comments come five days after the UN accused the US of stalling on their requests to visit Guantanamo Bay.

Investigators have been asking to visit the jail in Cuba to carry out checks into allegations of human rights abuse.

The UN said for over a year there had been no response to its requests, and it would begin an inquiry into alleged abuses with or without US co-operation.

Washington had yet to grant their request, Mr Nowak said.

He told the BBC there were a number of allegations from reliable sources that the US was holding terrorist suspects in secret places of detention, including vessels abroad.

He said that according to the reports, the ships were believed to be in the Indian Ocean.

Mr Nowak said the charges of secret detention camps were very serious, amounting to enforced disappearances.

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UN investigates secret US prisons 2005-06-30 16:33:02

BEIJING, June 30 -- United Nations human rights experts have begun investigating allegations that US terror suspects are being held in secret locations.

This includes the questioning of former terrorist suspects released from the United States detention.

UN special expert on torture, Manfred Nowak, made the comment Wednesday in Vienna.

Nowak is also director of the Vienna-based Ludwig Boltzmann Human Rights Institute and is one of several independent human rights experts appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

Nowak cited "persistent and credible" reports of US secret prisons holding terrorist suspects on ships in international waters. But, he said the UN human rights experts need more evidence to prove such reports.

He told Austrian Broadcasting Company earlier that the US might also have other secret prisons on US ships in the Indian Ocean to hold terrorist suspects, in addition to the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Comment: We put a very high probability on the existence of these secret detention centres. We'd be extremely surprised if they do not exist, as it would go against the facts that we have in hand about Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, reports of secret flights ferrying prisoners from one detention centre to another, as well as the recent news of the CIA kidnapping people in Italy. It seems that this is simply how the game is played.

The memos written by Alberto Gonzales justifying the use of torture certainly showed no concern for the civil or human rights of the detainees under American "care". Cheney's absurd remarks that the prisoners at Gitmo are "living in the tropics" betrays the kind of arrogance and smugness that all leading figures in the administration have shown since 9/11.

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Bush administration back in the fake-news producing business

Three dozen pro-CAFTA propaganda segments distributed to radio, TV stations
Chicago Tribune
June 17, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has churned out three dozen radio and television news segments since the first of the year that promote a controversial trade agreement with Central America opposed by labor unions, the sugar industry and many members of Congress, including some Republicans.

Amid an intense debate over government-funded efforts to influence news coverage, the pre-packaged reports have been widely distributed to broadcast outlets across the country for easy insertion into newscasts.

About a third of the reports deal specifically with the politically powerful sugar industry, which has emerged as the major obstacle to the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.

In one radio segment, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said that passing CAFTA should be an easy decision for members of Congress.

"I can't imagine how any senator or House member from ag country could stand up and vote against CAFTA," Johanns said. "It makes no sense to me. It's voting against our producers."

In another radio segment promoting CAFTA, Allen Johnson, a top U.S. trade official, dismissed the sugar industry's "dire forecasts" about CAFTA's impact as "a Chicken Little sort of thing that isn't real."

The issue of the government's vast public relations apparatus trying to influence the public is hardly new. The Bush administration has taken that practice to aggressive levels on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to education and trade policy.

The USDA's CAFTA reports were produced while the administration was dealing with the fallout over its practice of paying journalists to tout administration policies. One television commentator, Armstrong Williams, was paid $240,000 to champion the administration's education plans.

Critics contend that such policies blur the line between government propaganda and legitimate reporting, and the Government Accountability Office described the prepackaged news reports as "covert propaganda" if the government agency doesn't clearly identify its role in the production of the report. [...]

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The lobbyists' scandal: The secret world of Washington

By Rupert Cornwell
UK Independent
30 June 2005

The Capitol's grubby secret is the swarm of lobbyists in a sea of money, washing around the Congress and Senate. But one lobbyist may have just over-reached himself.

It all began in 2000 when the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians, grown rich on the operations of casinos on their tribal land, decided they needed some allies in Washington to help protect their wealth from competitors. Not unreasonably, they chose to retain the services of Jack Abramoff, the king of Washington lobbyists. What happened next has become an American morality tale of our times.

Over the next two years, the Choctaws paid Mr Abramoff and his colleague Michael Scanlon some $15m (£8.3m). Alas, the esteem was not reciprocated. In a series of e-mails, the pair referred to the Choctaws and other Indian tribal clients as, among other things, "troglodytes" and "monkeys". Of that $15m, it is alleged, Mr Abramoff and Mr Scanlon channelled off up to $7m.

Some of the money went to pay off a debt from Abramoff's days as a B-movie producer in Hollywood. Some went to finance a golfing trip to St Andrews for Tom DeLay, his most influential friend in Congress. Some, it seems, went for the lobbyists' own enrichment, under a system referred to in the e-mails as "Gimme Five". Over the past 12 months, the saga that has unfolded in a series of hearings by the Senate Indian Affairs committee, has transfixed Washington. "Simply and sadly, it is a tale of betrayal," says John McCain, the panel's chairman, distinguished only by the lobbyists' "insatiable greed" and their "utter contempt" for their clients.

Comment: Remember, Psychopaths and Narcissists are "manipulative, confrontational, show a lack of empathy and are pre-occupied with success, power."

Lobbying is Washington's grubby secret. In the city of ceremony and empire, peace and war, it is the unspoken business of the shadows. Some say lobbying is part of the democratic process. Others claim it is legalised bribery, even downright corruption. But love it or loathe it, it is the way Washington works.

Comment: political life in Washington, the seat of the US government, operates on legalised bribery and downright corruption. What a surprise!

Usually you hear little about the cajolings and threats, the quiet meetings, the lavish lunches and junkets that lubricate American politics. But every once in a while something comes along to open the system to the thing it hates most: daylight. The case of Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon and a clutch of Indian tribes which paid them $82m is one of those somethings.

Mr Abramoff claims he was doing nothing illegal, that the Indians got value for money and his only sin was to have been too good at his job. But now his career, indeed his liberty, are under threat, as the FBI investigates allegations of massive fraud. The affair has cast a dark cloud over Mr DeLay, the former pesticide salesman from Texas who is now House majority leader, known on Capitol Hill as "The Hammer". Some even believe the scandal could mark the beginning of the end of this era of Republican dominance. [...]

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Generation Chickenhawk
Max Blumenthal
The Nation

As I settled in my seat for an afternoon of speeches at the College Republican National Convention, I felt something crunch. It was an empty can of Busch Light, one of many strewn across the paisley-carpeted floor of the banquet hall in northern Virginia's Crystal City Gateway Marriott. All around me sat the Republican Party's future leaders: fresh-faced, nondescript white guys in blue suits, and slender blond girls in miniskirts and snug-fitting blazers, some with halter tops underneath.

[...] The high point of the day, however, belonged to the movement's favorite red-diaper baby, David Horowitz. Horowitz reminded his fawning audience that he could "be sitting at home in the coastal mountains of California, watching horses and rabbits run across my neighbor's yard." Instead he chose to appear for free before a bunch of College Republicans because, as he told them, "The future of the free peoples of the world depends on the Republican Party--and ultimately it depends on you."

In the past year, Horowitz has barnstormed universities across the country, organizing smear campaigns against leftist professors, advising conservative students on tactics to harass their perceived opponents and all the while raking in massive lecture fees. At the College Republicans' convention, Horowitz harped on his time-tested theme: "Universities are a base of the left. Universities are a base for terrorism." [...]

In interviews, more than a dozen conventiongoers explained why it is important that they stay on campus while other, less fortunate people their age wage a bloody war in Iraq. They strongly support the war, they told me, but they also want to enjoy college life and pursue interesting careers. Being a College Republican allows them to do both. It is warfare by other, much safer means. [...]

I chatted for a while with Collin Kelley, a senior at Washington State with a vague resemblance to the studly actor Orlando Bloom. Kelley told me he's "sick and tired of people saying our troops are dying in vain" and added, "This isn't an invasion of Iraq, it's a liberation--as David Horowitz said." When I asked him why he was staying on campus rather than fighting the good fight, he rubbed his shoulder and described a nagging football injury from high school. Plus, his parents didn't want him to go. "They're old hippies," Kelley said.

Munching on a chicken quesadilla at a table nearby was Edward Hauser, a senior at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas--a liberal school in a liberal town in the ultimate red state of Texas. "Austin is ninety square miles insulated from reality," Hauser said. When I broached the issue of Iraq, he replied, "I support our country. I support our troops." So why isn't he there?

"I know that I'm going to be better staying here and working to convince people why we're there [in Iraq]," Hauser explained, pausing in thought. "I'm a fighter, but with words."

At a table by the buffet was Justin Palmer, vice chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans, America's largest chapter of College Republicans. In 1984 the group gained prominence in conservative circles when its chairman, Ralph Reed, formed a political action committee credited with helping to re-elect Senator Jesse Helms. Palmer's future as a right-wing operative looked bright; he batted away my question about his decision to avoid fighting the war he supported with the closest thing I heard to a talking point all afternoon. "The country is like a body," Palmer explained, "and each part of the body has a different function. Certain people do certain things better than others." He said his "function" was planning a "Support Our Troops" day on campus this year in which students honored military recruiters from all four branches of the service.

Standing by Palmer's side and sipping a glass of rose wine, University of Georgia Republican member Kiera Ranke said she played her part as well. She and her sorority sisters sent care packages to troops in Iraq along with letters and pictures of themselves. "They wrote back and told us we boosted their morale," she said.

By the time I encountered Cory Bray, a towering senior from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, the beer was flowing freely. "The people opposed to the war aren't putting their asses on the line," Bray boomed from beside the bar. Then why isn't he putting his ass on the line? "I'm not putting my ass on the line because I had the opportunity to go to the number-one business school in the country," he declared, his voice rising in defensive anger, "and I wasn't going to pass that up."

And besides, being a College Republican is so much more fun than counterinsurgency warfare. Bray recounted the pride he and his buddies had felt walking through the center of campus last fall waving a giant American flag, wearing cowboy boots and hats with the letters B-U-S-H painted on their bare chests. "We're the big guys," he said. "We're the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit."

When 25-year-old candidate Mike Davidson emerged in the center of the room, the party fell to a hush. [...]

His candidacy has been endorsed by Representative David Dreier and Ann Coulter, who hailed him as a pioneer of "the new McCarthyism." And with good reason. Last February, in a Horowitz-inspired redbaiting operation, College Republicans at Santa Rosa Junior College in Northern California posted fliers on the doors of ten professors' offices bearing a red star and a warning quoting a 1950s-era state education code forbidding "the advocacy and teaching of communism." One professor's crime was displaying a poster for the film Fahrenheit 9/11 in his office window. Soon after, a press release appeared on the California College Republicans' website identifying the stunt as "Operation Red Scare." [...]

Comment: This next generation of Republicans is following in the footsteps of the current leaders, all Chickenhawks. None of the big guns of the Republican Party fought in Vietnam, with the exception of John McCain. The others found deferment after deferment to keep themselves out of shooting range of the supposed enemies of freedom.

The self-centred arrogance of their responses to why they weren't willing to put their lives in line with their ideologies must be reassuring for Rove. The replacements are on track....

Which brings us to the next issue, that of class. Many Americans have the belief that there's is a classless society, born from individual effort, not birth and money. Is this true?

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Class Consciousness Matters

Belief in the myth of the self-made man has made many ordinary people suckers for the right-wing pitch.

By David Moberg, In These Times. Posted June 30, 2005.

The myth of the self-made man is American culture's own special heart of darkness, helping to explain both its infectious optimism and ruthless greed.

The idea holds enough truth and seductiveness to make it easy to forget its delusional dangers. To reprise Marx's famous formulation, individuals, like humankind, do make their own personal history, but not under conditions they choose. But in America, we choose to ignore the caveat about conditions at our peril.

The myth, or belief, that people are solely what they make of themselves is useful to keep in mind while reading two ongoing series: the New York Times' on class and the Wall Street Journal's on social mobility. Both focus attention on a truth about American society that runs counter to most people's deep-seated beliefs: There is less social mobility in the United States now than in the '80s (and less then than in the '70s) and less mobility than in many other industrial countries, including Canada, Finland, Sweden and Germany.

Yet 40 percent of respondents to a Times poll said that there was a greater chance to move up from one class to another now than 30 years ago, and 46 percent said it was easier to do so in the United States than in Europe.

Although the news about social mobility has not been widely reported, it is generally recognized that inequality has grown over the past thirty years. The Times series highlights how much the super-rich have made out like, well, bandits.

While the real income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans fell from 1980 to 2002, the income of the top 0.1 percent--making $1.6 million or more--went up two and a half times in real terms before taxes. With the help of the Bush tax cuts, the gap between the super-rich and everyone else grew even larger.

The American people accept this, it is argued, because they think not only that there's more social mobility than there is, but also that they'll personally get rich. Indeed, a poll in 2000 indicated that 39 percent of Americans thought they were either in the wealthiest one percent or would be "soon." The Times poll was slightly less exuberant: 11 percent thought it was very likely they would become wealthy, another 34 percent somewhat likely.

"It is okay to have ever-greater differences between rich and poor, [Americans] seem to believe," David Wessel wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "as long as their children have a good chance of grasping the brass ring."

This view is problematic. First, the greater the inequality, the less likely the possibility of mobility. Increased inequality worsens the large disparities in resources that families can devote to education -- resources that are increasingly important for both entering many careers and for social mobility. A college degree, it should be stressed, is important not just because of the knowledge acquired, but because college serves as a class-biased sorting mechanism for entry to certain jobs. In contrast, the record suggests that countries with greater equality also have greater mobility. Substantive equality creates more equality of opportunity.

But even if there were mobility, such inequality would be problematic. Is it fair that society's wealth be divided so unevenly? Isn't there a decent standard of living -- rising as economies become wealthier -- to which everyone who "works hard and plays by the rules," in the Clintonian formulation, should be entitled? Great social disparity means that the financially well-off use their money and greater political leverage to protect their privilege rather than to design policies for the common good.

In defense of the rich getting richer, former Bush economic advisor Gregory Mankiw wrote in response to the Times series that the richest increased their share when the economy boomed; so if we want prosperity, let the plutocrats prosper. But the economy grew faster in the first three decades after World War II when equality was increasing than in the next three decades when equality was decreasing. In any case, if the income from growth is captured by the very rich, as it largely has been for a couple decades, this path to prosperity offers little to most people.

Also, with high inequality, even the pretense of community declines, social conflict increases and society functions more poorly. Individual mobility is not the only way to improve one's lot. Social solidarity and working together can improve everyone's lot.

This brings us back to the self-made man. It becomes clear, as the Times series is titled, that "class matters," just as race, gender and other accidents of history matter. The social class into which someone is born largely defines one's class as an adult, and both make a difference in how healthy or how long-lived the person will be, especially in the absence of universal health insurance. It influences access to education and to jobs.

The myth of the self-made person, however, encourages the person who succeeds to think his good fortune is due entirely to his work and genius. For this reason businessmen in the United States have historically been more anti-union and hostile to government than their counterparts in Europe. And the myth makes those who fail blame themselves.

According to recent polls, American workers -- worried more about job insecurity, rising costs of education, health care expenses, the availability of insurance, pension failures and social security privatization -- are increasingly looking for stronger social action to provide security. They are deeply skeptical about the globalization that has increased inequality and insecurity. Like the French vote on the European Union constitution, a U.S. referendum on globalization might well divide along class lines. The irony is that taking responsibility as a society to guarantee more stability and equality -- by regulating the global economy and establishing universal guarantees of health care, education, and retirement security -- can provide citizens with more individual freedom.

For now, the realm of freedom for most Americans remains constricted to the shopping mall, where they can buy their identities. Both the Journal and Times point to the rapid growth of personal credit as one way that Americans have continued to buy while earnings have stagnated. Former United Auto Workers official Frank Joyce even sees the rise of credit cards as undermining workers' interest in unions. Income, earned or borrowed, obviously greatly differentiates people's lives, even if a working class consumer can only indulge in a box of luxury chocolates or sub-luxury car. And the growing differences in income are exacerbated by growing but unmeasured differences in health insurance, as well as various business perks such as free cars or expense accounts.

But the focus on income ignores the even greater inequalities of wealth. Wealth provides security. As the Times series points out, the better-off consistently talk of making choices while working class individuals talk about feeling trapped. Kids from wealthy families can take unpaid internships, spend a year abroad or experiment with careers; kids from working class families are likely to stick with a summer job that pays the bills and provides health insurance, thus failing to finish college.

More important, wealth and class are issues of power. Aaron Kemp, who lost his job when Maytag shifted production from Illinois to Mexico and Korea (see "Maytag Moves to Mexico," January 17), remarked, "I never remember even thinking about what class I was in until after the plant closing announcement and layoff. And then you begin to think about what class you're in." Rather than manners or fashion, class ultimately has more to do with who has the power to make such decisions and the powerlessness of the majority. These crucial aspects of class--social, political and economic power--have been missing from the series.

It might have been good for the Times to run an excerpt of Michael Graetz and Ian Shapiro's new book, Death by a Thousand Cuts. It recounts how the super-rich worked with ultra-conservatives to demonize and possibly eliminate the estate tax, which they renamed the "death tax." As William Gates, Sr., father of Microsoft Bill, often argued on behalf of the tax, the very rich accumulate their wealth not simply because of what they did but because of the society in which they lived, and they have a debt to that society. And the heirs of such wealth are the antithesis of self-made men.

The rich used their political power, their money and the right's shameless, mendacious hucksters to protect their riches, at the expense of society. But belief in the myth of the self-made man--abetted by the feckless incompetence of Democratic opposition--made many ordinary people suckers for the right-wing pitch. Class matters, but so does consciousness of class. That's another, longer story.

David Moberg is a senior editor of In These Times.

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Big Dreams, Big Hopes
By Barack Obama, AlterNet. Posted June 30, 2005.

[...] So let's dream. Instead of doing nothing or simply defending 20th-century solutions, let's imagine together what we could do to give every American a fighting chance in the 21st century.

What if we prepared every child in America with the education and skills they need to compete in the new economy? If we made sure that college was affordable for everyone who wanted to go? If we walked up to those Maytag workers and we said "Your old job is not coming back, but a new job will be there because we're going to seriously retrain you and there's life-long education that's waiting for you -- the sorts of opportunities that Knox has created with the Strong Futures scholarship program.

What if no matter where you worked or how many times you switched jobs, you had health care and a pension that stayed with you always, so you all had the flexibility to move to a better job or start a new business? What if instead of cutting budgets for research and development and science, we fueled the genius and the innovation that will lead to the new jobs and new industries of the future? [...]

Comment: While we don't think that there is any possibility of such a vision actually coming to pass within the USA, we offer these ideas because they show that things could be different. If American society is organised as Obama describes elsewhere in his speech, it is because choices have been made, choices to favour a small group at the expense of others.

Therefore ideas such as the above throw into relief that it does not have to be that way. We could make other choices. If we have not made those choices, then we must look at our world and understand why.

Obviously, the US is not the only country organised that way. It is Standard Operating Procedure everywhere. In a world with psychopaths setting the values and willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top, we have the society we see around us. Without ridding the world of psychopathy, it isn't going to change. This is the world of the organic portal, after all. In fact, it is their world. Those who wish to see justice and social equality will have to somehow find themselves another world.

For more on how we think it might be possible to do that, we point you to Laura's book The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive, as well as our public discussion group CassChat.

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Iran leader linked to 1979 hostage crisis
June 30, 2005 09:13 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At least four Americans held hostage
in the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran said on
Thursday they recognized Iran's president-elect as one of the
ringleaders from the crisis, a claim denied in Tehran. [...]

Comment: Does this mean he's one of them thar trr'ists? Hell! Let's invade!

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Flashback: British spy op wrecked peace move
Martin Bright, Peter Beaumont and Jo Tuckman in Mexico
The Observer
Sunday February 15, 2004

A joint British and American spying operation at the United Nations scuppered a last-ditch initiative to avert the invasion of Iraq, The Observer can reveal.

Senior UN diplomats from Mexico and Chile provided new evidence last week that their missions were spied on, in direct contravention of international law.

The former Mexican ambassador to the UN, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, told The Observer that US officials intervened last March, just days before the war against Saddam was launched, to halt secret negotiations for a compromise resolution to give weapons inspectors more time to complete their work.

Aguilar Zinser claimed that the intervention could only have come as a result of surveillance of a closed diplomatic meeting where the compromise was being hammered out. He said it was clear the Americans knew about the confidential discussions in advance. 'When they [the US] found out, they said, "You should know that we don't like the idea and we don't like you to promote it."'

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Stray Plane Sets Off Evacuation Of Capitol
By Allan Lengel and Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 30, 2005; A02

The U.S. Capitol was evacuated last evening after a small plane flying at a rapid clip entered Washington's restricted airspace and prompted a scramble by federal officials to launch fighter jets and other aircraft to intercept the plane.

The urgency of the evacuation order diminished after about two minutes as the pilot of the twin-engine turboprob aircraft responded quickly to the interception and changed course, federal officials said.

Still, the intrusion -- the second in about six weeks in which a small plane violated the airspace -- disrupted a Senate vote and prompted authorities at the White House to move President Bush to a more secure location.

As a result of the recent incidents, Bush administration officials are discussing the possibility of extending the restricted airspace around Washington, said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"While there was no danger to potential strategic targets,'' the official said, yesterday's incident and one in May involving a plane from Pennsylvania caused concern that fighter jets might not have enough time to intercept potentially dangerous aircraft.

The Beech King Air 350, registered to Standridge Color Corp. of Social Circle, Ga., was heading southwest at 6:18 p.m. when it was intercepted by F-16 fighters that escorted it to Winchester, Va., federal authorities said.

The pilot responded "very quickly," said Mike Kucharek, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. In that respect, yesterday's incident differed from the May 11 incident, in which the pilot of a Cessna initially failed to respond to flares launched by fighter jets or hand signals from Black Hawk helicopter crews.

Yesterday, senators were voting on a measure concerning travel to Cuba when the Capitol's alarm system of flashing white lights and whooping sirens sent them scurrying for the exits about 6:30 p.m. Lawmakers, staff members, tourists and others dashed down marble stairways and through every available exit. Outside, they followed police orders to move north, toward Union Station.

This time, however, the mood seemed more relaxed and orderly. Capitol Police officers appeared calm.

At the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan said authorities were notified about 6:30 p.m. of the airspace violation, which triggered a red alert, the highest in its security system. Bush was "relocated" to a more secure location, McClellan said without elaborating.

McClellan said the alarm was called off before a full evacuation could begin. "We started to relocate some staff," he said. "The alert level did go red, but within a matter of a couple minutes it was back down to yellow." [...]

The pilot's name could not be learned last night, but a Standridge Color official said the man is a pilot for the company, which makes plastics. "This was not intentional whatsoever," Hal Wells said. Wells said the pilot had dropped off employees in Delaware and was headed to Ohio to pick up other employees.

A federal official said radio communication between the pilot and authorities indicated that the pilot ended up in the restricted area while trying to avoid bad weather. The Secret Service said the pilot was released last night after questioning. An FAA spokeswoman said the matter is under investigation.

Comment: Again, this is pathetic. The government of the "greatest power on earth" runs in terror from every shadow!

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U.S. to give Israel $1b in post-pullout aid
6/29/2005 12:00:00 PM GMT

Israel will evacuate all 21 settlements in Gaza as well as four other enclaves in the West Bank

The United States plans to give Israel an additional one billion dollars in a post-withdrawal aid package to develop the Negev in the south and the Galilee in the north, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing U.S. officials.

The White House is still waiting for Israel to present a detailed plan before it approves the "substantial" funding, U.S. administration sources said.

"It's not clear yet over what period and how it would be divided between the Negev and the Galilee," said one official about the aid package, which would be part of next year's U.S. budget.

Developing the two regions was discussed during Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's meeting with Bush in Crawford, Texas in April this year.

"The Prime Minister believes that developing [the] Negev and the Galilee regions is vital to ensuring a vibrant economic future for Israel. I support that goal and we will work together to make his plans a reality." Bush said.

The office of the Israeli Vice PM Shimon Peres has urged the U.S. to aid in infrastructure projects in the regions, which have sizable Arab minorities.

Israel also wants the U.S. to help in the process of relocating military bases, including training and hi-tech units in the Negev, as well as aid for improving education, infrastructure and employment in the Beduin sector there.

"The Israeli government is not only one of disengagement from Gaza, but also one of engagement in the Negev and Galilee," Peres said.

Under the disengagement plan, Israel will evacuate all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip as well as four other enclaves in the northern West Bank in mid-August.

"It's a special circumstance. Israel's taking upon itself huge burdens," the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein said of expanding the U.S. aid to Israel.

"It's aid because it's a critical part of where to put the displaced people [following disengagement], and the United States is committed to helping Israel."

The total U.S. aid to Israel in 2004 totaled $2.853 billion, the vast majority of which went to the Israeli army. The grants were accompanied by $3 billion in loan guarantees.

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Israeli army seals off Gaza strip
Last Updated Thu, 30 Jun 2005 08:53:25 EDT
CBC News

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers have stormed a hotel in the Gaza Strip in order to remove 150 Jewish extremists, who had barricaded themselves inside for several weeks.

The ultra-nationalists had vowed to make the derelict Palm Beach Hotel their base of operations to protest Israel's planned pullout from the Gaza.

The move comes as the Israeli military sealed off the Gaza Strip to keep out Jewish extremists after violent clashes in the region in recent days.

"There is intelligence information that more extremist groups are moving toward the Gaza Strip with the intention of strengthening their friends and to escalate the provocative acts," said the army in a statement.

The settlement of Gush Katif in the Gaza has been fortified in recent days with hundreds of ultra-nationalist settlers bused in by organizers.

Jewish militants fought Israeli forces and Palestinians on Wednesday. They also scrapped with Israeli soldiers over the weekend ahead of the country's official withdrawal from all Gaza and four West Bank settlements.

During Wednesday's scuffle, a group of Jewish youths were caught on video beating a Palestinian boy unconscious. The incident sparked widespread outrage across Israel with some questioning why the youths weren't arrested on the scene. Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra said police were investigating what he called a "lynching."

"There is no connection between Judaism and those who carried out this," said Shaul Yahalom, a politician from the National Religious Party.

Israel's disengagement from the West Bank and Gaza is slated for mid-August. In the meantime, the army has also isolated the settlements to stop residents from travelling between the colonies.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Haaretz newspaper that he is cracking down on the extremists.

"This is an act of savagery, vulgarity and irresponsibility ... every measure must be taken to end this rampaging."

Disgruntled settlers also tried to tie up traffic throughout Israel, blocking several major intersections, spilling oil and nails on a highway.

Comment: Yup, it sure is handy for Sharon to have a group out there that is even more bloodthirsty than he is. Very handy.

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UK trained Uzbek troops weeks before massacre
Richard Norton-Taylor
Thursday June 30, 2005
The Guardian

British military advisers trained Uzbek troops in "marksmanship" shortly before a massacre in which hundreds of people were killed.

The training was part of a larger programme funded by Britain despite concerns expressed by the Foreign Office at the time over the Uzbekistan government's human rights record.

A group of Uzbek military cadets were given a "coaching course" in marksmanship by British soldiers in February and March this year.

In May, Uzbek forces massacred up to 500 men, women and children in the town of Andijan. Uzbek troops used military Land Rovers in the operation.

It is not known whether any Uzbek military students or officers trained by Britain were involved in this or any other operation against civilians.

Details of Britain's military training programme in Uzbekistan have been given by Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, in answers to parliamentary questions from the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, Michael Moore.

Over 100 Uzbek military personnel were trained by the British military advisory and training teams between October last year and March, at cost of £175,000. The courses included "field training" and instructor training, as well as coaching in marksmanship. Uzbek soldiers, including senior officers, have also been trained in Britain, in courses ranging from peacekeeping to "war-fighting". [...]

Comment: Now doesn't that just give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside? Of course, this is but one of many examples where "free and democratic" Western governments have aided and abetted brutal regimes when it serves their interests to do so. Think about this, and think about it in terms of the invasion of Iraq and the entire "war on terror" and what it is actually being used for. But more than anything else, do yourself a favor and stop believing government propaganda. You'll feel much better for it!

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One in six countries facing food shortage
John Vidal and Tim Radford
Thursday June 30, 2005
The Guardian

One in six countries in the world face food shortages this year because of severe droughts that could become semi-permanent under climate change, UN scientists warned yesterday.

In a stark message for world leaders who meet in Gleneagles next week to discuss global warming, Wulf Killman, chairman of the UN food and agriculture organisation's climate change group, said the droughts that have devastated crops across Africa, central America and south-east Asia in the past year are part of an emerging pattern.

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Future Climate Could be Hotter than Thought - Study
UK: June 30, 2005

LONDON - Global temperatures in the future could be much hotter than scientists have predicted if new computer models on climate change are correct, researchers said on Wednesday. [...]

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a rise in global temperatures from a doubling of carbon dioxide could be in the range of 1.5-4.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. But according to calculations by Andreae and his team, the upper figure could be as high as 6 degrees.

"That's quite a lot," the professor from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany said in an interview. [...]

He admitted it was a situation of high scientific uncertainty. But if his calculations are correct, climate change in the 21 century could reach the upper extremes or exceed the IPCC estimates.

"Such a degree of climate change is so far outside the range covered by experience and scientific understanding that we cannot with any confidence predict the consequences for the Earth system," Andreae said in the journal.

Scientists have warned that severe climate change could lead to a rise in sea levels, flooding, severe droughts and the loss of crop and animals species.

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Thousands evacuated in post-drought Australia rain
By Paul Tait
June 30, 2005

SYDNEY - Two people were missing and about 3,300 people evacuated from rising floodwaters in eastern Australia on Thursday after storms lashed areas which had been suffering under the nation's worst drought in a century.

In the New South Wales state farming town of Lismore, about 600 km (370 miles) north of Sydney, 3,000 people began leaving their homes before floodwaters in the nearby Wilson River hit an expected peak of more than 10 meters (33 feet) late on Thursday.

Strong winds and flash flooding from storms overnight also caused widespread damage in neighboring Queensland state.

A search for a man and woman missing after their car was swept from a flooded causeway in Coomera on the Gold Coast tourist hub was suspended late on Thursday.

Lifeguards on jetskis had earlier joined police in searching for the couple, feared drowned.

Several other people were rescued from stranded cars and some homes were damaged but there were no injuries, officials said.

State Emergency Services spokesman Phil Campbell said at least another 325 people had been evacuated in small towns north of Lismore on the Tweed river near the border with Queensland.

Just two weeks ago farmers were dancing in the rain after downpours delivered the first heavy showers in more than four years to large areas of drought-ravaged eastern Australia. Australia is the world's second-largest wheat exporter after the United States and a major supplier to Asia and the Middle East. [...]

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Storm Expert: Hurricane Danger on the Rise
Associated Press
Wed Jun 29, 6:24 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Hurricane activity has increased and is likely to remain high for a decade or more, the head of the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.

From the 1970s to the mid-1990s the number of hurricanes was low, Max Mayfield told the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, but now frequency is increasing "and this period of heightened activity could last another 10 to 20 years."

Memories are still fresh of the four hurricanes that battered Florida last year. Forecasters predict 13 named storms, including seven hurricanes, could possibly threaten the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts this year.

Indeed, Tropical Depression Bret is currently producing heavy rains in Mexico.

Mayfield said the cyclic increase in tropical storms is made more dangerous because of the growth in coastal populations in recent years. An estimated 85 percent of coastal residents have never experienced a major hurricane, he said. [...]

Asbury H. Sallenger of the U.S. Geological Survey added that the lack of experience with storms in recent years has resulted in construction of buildings that may not be able to stand up to them.

He pointed out the collapse of a five-story building in Orange Beach, Ala., when it was undermined by Hurricane Ivan.

Of special concern are the Florida Keys and New Orleans, where many people live in low-lying or below-sea-level areas that cannot be easily evacuated, Mayfield said. [...]

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Spanish Parliament becomes fourth country to allow gay marriage
10:08 AM EDT Jun 30

MADRID, Spain (AP) - Legislators on Thursday voted to make traditionally Roman Catholic Spain the world's fourth country to give same-sex couples many of the same rights as heterosexual spouses. [...]

In debate before the vote, Zapatero noted that the Netherlands and Belgium have already legalized gay marriage and Canada is expected to do so this summer.

"We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last," he told the chamber. "After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality."

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Mauritanian tried in 'universal jurisdiction' test

NIMES, France, June 30 (AFP) - The trial of a Mauritanian military officer for torture opened in his absence Thursday in France's first ever application of the doctrine of 'universal jurisdiction', according to which foreigners can be prosecuted for crimes committed anywhere in the world.

Ely Ould Dah, 42, was not in the court in the southern town of Nimes, having fled France in 2000 several months after his arrest.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcomed Ould Dah's trial on charges of "torture and acts of barbarism" as an important step to establishing the right to try certain types of crime -- such as torture and crimes against humanity -- in foreign

"This trial takes place thanks to the obstinacy of the victims as well as the FIDH," said the organisation's president Sidiki Kaba.

Ould Dah, who is today a major in the Mauritanian army, is alleged to have tortured two black officers in 1991 after they were accused of taking part in a plot against President Maaouiya Ould Taya.

In July 1999 he was detained in France while on a training course in the city of Montpellier. He was granted conditional release in September and fled back to Mauritania in unclear circumstances the next April.

The doctrine of 'universal jurisdiction' has been making inroads into international law ever since the detention of Chilean former president Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998.

Several cases have been launched in European courts -- including one citing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Belgium -- but in practice it is proving difficult to bring them to trial.

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Over the limit

Leaps of faith into the realms of Tolkien and The X-Files are vital if science is not to become boring and die. Henry Gee favours a journey into the unknown

Henry Gee
Thursday June 30, 2005
The Guardian

A hundred years ago today, a manuscript arrived at the German science magazine, Annalen der Physik. Its title was Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper (On the electrodynamics of moving bodies) and the author was an office worker called Albert Einstein.

The paper is easy to follow and contains neither experiments nor references. Yet this one paper established the constancy of the speed of light, the demolition of "luminiferous ether" as a substance held to fill all space, and established the theory of relativity.

It starts with a single insight from which all else follows - that the connection we make between the notion of time and what we read on a clock is only provisional.

We have to take into account that all our judgments in which time plays a part are always judgments of simultaneous events. If, for instance, I say, "That train arrives here at seven o'clock," I mean something like this: "The pointing of the small hand of my watch to seven and the arrival of the train are simultaneous events."

It is no surprise that this insight was made by a commuter. But this imaginative leap reminds us that all worthwhile science rests ultimately on such leaps of faith. Science starts with a hypothesis, that is, a "what if" question. What if I mix these two chemicals together, rather than those? What if we assume that time is a fluid medium, not tied to the hands of a clock? What then would we find out? In the act of creating a hypothesis we conjure a fantasy universe in which we let our minds roam ahead. If we are scientists, we assume that our invented world has the rules of the real world, relaxed sufficiently only to explore the consequences of our hypothesis.

A capacity for fantasy is something we should encourage in scientists. But this notion has been lost by those whose self-imposed task it is to drill the public in the discipline of science. In August 1998, the Independent newspaper published an astonishing denunciation of the fantastic by John Durant, professor of the public understanding of science at Imperial College. The occasion was the release of a movie, The X-Files, based on the TV series in which FBI agents investigate sundry paranormal phenomena. Durant's argument was that we should avoid such flummery, cleaving to prescribed facts that he and his colleagues would obligingly set out for us.

Durant was wrong to worry that every person who watches The X-Files believes in flying saucers. People enjoy imagining things beyond their experience, and working out what their reactions might be were they to encounter them, an ability of which any proponent of science education might approve. Were we all to take Durant's advice and believe only those things that he and his colleagues tell us are true, (simply because they, the authorities, tell us so) science would die.

In this context, Einstein has less in common with Durant than with, of all people, JRR Tolkien. As Tolkien says in his essay On Fairy Stories, belief in the fantastic requires the audience to suspend disbelief, otherwise the effect will be spoiled. After all, a hypothesis has to be tested before it can be admitted.

When I told people I planned to write a book on Tolkien's universe from a scientific standpoint, they either remarked that I would not have enough material (evidently wrong), or pointed to Gandalf's denunciation (in The Lord of the Rings) of the reductionist urges of the traitor Saruman - that he who takes something to bits to discover how it works has left the path of wisdom. The easy equation of Gandalf with Tolkien resembles that of time and clocks. Any more than the most cursory reading of Tolkien shows he had a deep respect for science. What Tolkien objected to was the misapplication of science for the purposes of wealth creation, domination or the acquisition of power.

Science, like well-crafted fantasy, is not about the known, for that is boring. Science is about exploring the limits of the unknown and trying to peer further into the gloom. In his essay The Monsters and the Critics, Tolkien argued that scholars of Beowulf had spent too much time excavating the ancient epic for clues about linguistics, and not enough appreciating it as a story.

As scientists, we must set our courses into the unknown. The monsters, said Tolkien, are what we should be looking at.

Comment: Exactly. Science must look at the fringes, at the anomalies, because it is there that the theories do not fit the facts. If you only look at things that are already explained, your chances of finding something new are, we would suggest, slimmer.

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African sands 'set for upheaval'

One of the first studies to examine how climate change might alter the land surface of Africa has been published by scientists from Oxford University.

Their research details how the immense dunefields of the Kalahari could be stirred up by global warming.

The investigation, reported in the journal Nature, warns that large areas of currently productive land could become engulfed by shifting sands.

"The social consequences of these changes could be drastic," they say.

The team, led by Professor David Thomas, urges politicians in the region not to pursue development policies that might exacerbate the coming problems, turning currently semi-arid areas into desert.

"We've seen in Botswana, for example, with European Union support, an enormous growth in livestock production using groundwater. That in itself has put great pressure on the Botswana landscape," Professor Thomas told BBC News.

"[The shifting sands] will make those Western-sponsored programmes very unsuccessful into the future." [...]

These dunes punctuate 2.5 million sq km of Africa - from the northern end of South Africa, right up through Angola, Botswana and Namibia, to western Zimbabwe and western Zambia.

They were built up thousands of years ago and are now reasonably well covered by vegetation.

But Professor Thomas and colleagues found that no matter which general climate model data they used, their simulator came out with projections for dramatic increases in dune "activity" - they will start to erode and move as precipitation falls and wind speeds increase.

The southern dunefields of Botswana and Namibia become activated by 2040, while the more northerly and easterly dunes in Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia begin to shift significantly by 2070.

By the end of the 21st Century, all the dunes from South Africa to Zambia and Angola are likely to be reactivated.

Changing world

Tens or even hundreds of thousands of people would be affected by such changes, the team said.

"The Kalahari is a large area that supports a reasonably big rural population that lives by farming," Professor Thomas explained.

"It's these people who are vulnerable to their currently savannah-like environment becoming a rather more hostile, active, dune landscape than it is today.

He added: "There has been little work done on how the landscape is likely to evolve under climate change impacts.

"We've had a lot of work done on ice-cap melt and glacier retreat; there's been a lot of interest in changes around coastlines, particularly Europe and North America, and the low-lying islands of the Pacific, of course. But relatively little concern has been expressed with regard to the way the landscapes of Africa are likely to change in the 21st Century.

"What we're saying here is that these landscapes are potentially very dynamic and they can kick in with a form of activity that is rather hostile to farming."

The leaders of the major industrial countries, known as the G8, meet in Scotland on 6 July to discuss African development and climate change.

Last week, an alliance of 21 UK-based charities and environment groups issued a report which claimed any G8 strategy to alleviate poverty in Africa was doomed to failure unless urgent action was taken to halt climate change.

Comment: How nice of the leaders of these countries to get together and discuss Africa. It is certainly telling that the problems of Africa are being discussed by the eight Western powers and not the Africans themselves. That gives a clear insight into where the real power 'in' Africa resides, doesn't it?

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WHO says fear of global bird flu pandemic easing
Last Updated Wed, 29 Jun 2005 18:32:58 EDT
CBC News

International scientists have downgraded the risk of an imminent bird flu pandemic, hailing as "very good news" indications that the virus has not mutated.

A team of experts from Britain, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States left Vietnam Tuesday after judging the threat posed to humans by the H5N1 strain to be lower than previously thought.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said last year that millions of people could die if the avian virus mutated to become easily transmissible between humans.

In Manila last month, the WHO called on countries around the world to press ahead with preparations for a flu pandemic, after a first study in the country showed signs of greater risk of human to human transmission.

But the latest, most advanced study in Vietnam did not find the virus had changed.

"The most important thing is that we could rule out that there was an immediate, imminent pandemic," said Hans Troedsson of the WHO. "Since the virus is widely spread, the risk is still there but not as imminent as we initially might have suspected," he added.

In spite of the encouraging news, the WHO advises the international community to stay on guard, saying influenza viruses are inclined to change frequently.

Vietnam has confirmed an additional case of human infection, bringing to 60 the number of people who have tested positive there since December.

A total of 54 people have died from the H5N1 strain in the region, including 38 Vietnamese, 12 Thais and four Cambodians.

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U.S. mad cow case was Texas-born
Last Updated Wed, 29 Jun 2005 21:09:40 EDT
CBC News

American officials say the second case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, in the U.S. was a cow born, raised and slaughtered in Texas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the diagnosis on Friday but had to wait for DNA analysis to confirm the cow's origin.

The USDA says the cow was killed at a pet food plant after it was determined to be unfit for human consumption.

"The testing and traceback efforts may yield further information as to how this animal became infected," said USDA chief veterinarian John Clifford in a statement on the department's website.

"The safety of our food supply is not in question ... American beef is among the safest in the world."

Officials say the 12-year-old cow couldn't stand on its own feet.

At its age, the cow could have have contracted the disease before a regulation was introduced banning feed that included animal parts.


Comment: Other reports suggested the cow had been missing since late in the year 2000 until it was recently found grazing in the Oval Office.

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Number of dengue cases in Singapore rises in June 2005-06-30 21:42:32

SINGAPORE, June 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Some 610 dengue cases were found in Singapore in the first three weeks of June while the number of cases for the whole month of May was 611, Channel News Asia reported Thursday night.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) attributed the rise to the warmer weather in June, which is expected to continue through July and August.

The report quoted the NEA as saying that the number of dengue cases from January to the third week of June was nearly 5,000, more than double the number in the same period last year, and only one death has been reported up to now. [...]

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Earthquake rattles southern New Zealand
July 1, 2005

A moderate earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 rattled southern New Zealand this evening, but police said there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The quake was centred 140km west of the farming and tourism town of Te Anau and occurred some 33km below the earth's crust, the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences said.

It said the temblor, strong enough to cause major damage and injury in a built-up area, was likely to have been felt in mainly rural Southland and Central Otago on South Island.

The region has been hit by a series of quakes in the past two years, including one of magnitude 7.0 which rattled buildings and tossed appliances and goods from shelves.

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Earthquake jolts Omidiyeh city in Omidiyeh city
Thursday, June 30, 2005 - ©2005

LONDON, June 30 (IranMania) - An earthquake jolted surrounding areas of Omidiyeh city, southwestern province of Khuzestan, on Wednesday night. It was measuring 4.1 degree on Richter scale, according to IRNA.

According to the report of seismography center of Geophysics Institute affiliated to Tehran University, the tremor occurred at 22:30 local time (18:00 GMT) and its epicenter was at 30.94 latitude and 49.58 longitude.

There is no immediate report on possible casualty or damages.

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