Monday, July 25, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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War on Terror Becomes War on Citizenry
SOTT

The shooting in London on Friday of Charles de Menezes by the British Metropolitan police is indeed a watershed. To the unemotional observer able to dispense with the propaganda, there can be only one conclusion - the terrorists and Western government authorities have teamed up to wage a war on innocent civilians. No one should doubt the psychological trauma inflicted upon the British public by the London bombings and the murder of de Menezes, nor the message that it delivers to their collective unconscious.

How has it come to this? How do we explain the rationale behind these attacks on the British public by alleged Islamic terrorists when a majority of British citizens were against the Iraq invasion and consider their Prime Minister a war criminal? Is al-Qaeda really determined to murder and maim the citizens of all Western nations and thereby alienate anyone that might possibly be sympathetic to their cause?

Of course, some would say that the terrorists' believe that they can force a change in British and American foreign policy by murdering the citizens of those countries, but surely the response of the Bush and Blair regimes to the 9/11 attacks should have convinced the terrorists that such attacks are counterproductive to their cause and simply serve to strengthen the hand of people like Bush, Blair and Sharon to deepen their stranglehold on the Middle East.

Digging a little deeper for a reasonable explanation, we remember that we have been told that the terrorists not only hate Western governments for their exploitation of Middle Eastern nations and their populations, but they apportion equal blame to Western peoples for electing their leaders. But are we to believe that these terrorists who, by definition are well-versed in the workings of Western politics, are unaware that the British, and particularly the American, public have been effectively disenfranchised by the lies, propaganda and manipulation of their elected (or in some cases unelected) officials? Can anyone reasonably blame the British or American public for the actions of their political leaders when those leaders have, at every turn, lied to them about their real intentions? Is it logical to punish the British public for British troop involvement in the Iraq war when Blair openly lied and went as far as to fabricate evidence to convince the unwitting public that Saddam was about to attack them?

Indeed, it is all the more perplexing that the terrorists murdered 56 British civilians at a time when Blair was embroiled in the bogus Iraq war intelligence scandal and the growing public outcry may well have cut short his third term. Now however, thanks to the terrorists who we presume would like nothing better than to see Blair removed from office, the traumatised British public have run back into the arms of their militaristic government for protection and will no doubt be more amenable to further British involvement in the overall war on Islamic terror and Islam itself.

In the final analysis then, it seems we are forced to conclude that the terrorists are just a bunch of crazed fanatics, plain and simple, and no amount of analysis will ever find rhyme or reason for their actions. But even then, such a pat answer fails to satisfy in the face of evidence that seems to suggest otherwise. Take for example the fact that, on several previous occasions, al-Qaeda has stated that it is the US and British occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan that has precipitated these terror attacks. Indeed, not only do the terrorists appear to have a very definite goal and rationale for their atrocities, they are evidently far from insane when it comes to planning and carrying out such attacks. The hijackings of September 11th 2001 involved a level of co-ordination and skill that is certainly not in keeping with the idea that they were perpetrated by a group of insane madmen inspired by the puerile rantings of fundamental Islam.

Thankfully, we can find an answer if we use some real logic, analysis of the facts and a little background research. It is a little-known yet publicly available fact that the British, American and Israeli governments have in the past considered using, or actually used, false flag terror operations to achieve a specific goal.

The Northwoods document show how the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the US drew up plans to bomb an American civilian airliner and then pin the blame on Cuba as a way to garner public support for a US military overthrow of the Castro government.

In Northern Ireland, on several occasions agents of the British government carried out attacks against the security forces that were later blamed on the IRA. The British government also covertly murdered innocent civilians of the Irish Republic in order to ensure that legislation that would be damaging to the IRA would be passed in the Irish parliament. (This point has particular relevance to the recent London bombings which have cleared the way for legislation to be passed that will lead to the introduction of ID cards for British citizens, legislation which had been in serious doubt before the bombings.) The 1974 Guilford (England) pub bombings is another case in point. In the aftermath of the attacks, the British government extracted confessions through torture from four innocent Irish citizens who were incarcerated for 17 years as IRA terrorists and then released when their innocence was proven. The real perpetrators of the attacks have never been caught, and it seems today that the greatest suspicion must fall on British intelligence.

In 1967 during its six day war with its Arab neigbours, the Israeli government ordered the bombing of the USS Liberty while it was stationed off the Israeli coast. The attack was carried out by the Israeli air force with full awareness that they were attacking a US ship. At least part of the goal it seems was to pin the blame on the Egyptians and thereby involve the US in Israel's war. Israeli intelligence has also been exposed in attempting to set up phony al-Qaeda terrorist cells in Palestine as a way to demonise legitimate Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Indeed, there is much evidence to show that Israeli intelligence played a central role in the formation of Palestinian resistance group Hamas as a way to offset the influence of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Coming back to the London bombings, as we have noted here on Signs of the Times, there remain serious doubts about the British government's claim that al-Qaeda operatives carried out the attacks of 7th July 2005. Initial reports stated that British police had warned the Israeli embassy in London before the bombs exploded, a claim which British police later refuted claiming that it was the Israelis who had informed them. Either way, it seems clear that the security apparatus of either Israel or Britain had advance warning of the attacks.

Indeed, like the 9/11 attacks where at least 7 of the 19 alleged hijackers (who all perished in the attacks of course) were later found to be quite alive and eager to tell the world, one of the four alleged London bombers has spoken up from Pakistan where he lives and claimed that he too is alive and well. Combine that fact with reports that the four alleged bombers may have been "tricked" into carrying out the operation (and we have to ask "by whom) and the report that at least one of the bombers had been assessed by MI5 as posing "no threat", and a very different picture of the real reasons for, and perpetrators of, the London bombings starts to emerge.

The beleaguered war criminal Blair remains in power, British citizens will soon be 'tagged' with biometric ID cards, the phony "war on terror" for profit and power continues unabated and an innocent Brazilian man who ran from police and then surrendered and lay down on the floor of a train was shot five times in the head by agents of the British government tasked with protecting the British people. We have all been warned; the war on terror is real, whether we agree or not, and our governments will not hesitate to murder innocent civilians to prove their point.

Submit or die seems to be the message.

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Cheney's Plan: Nuke Iran

Stand athwart the apocalypse, and shout: "No!"

July 25, 2005
by Justin Raimondo

A recent poll shows six in ten Americans think a new world war is coming: the same poll says about 50 percent approve of the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Somewhat inexplicably, about two-thirds say nuking those two cities was "unavoidable." One can only wonder, then, what their reaction will be to this ominous news, revealed in a recent issue of The American Conservative by intelligence analyst Philip Giraldi:

"The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing – that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack – but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections."

Two points leap out at the reader – or, at least, this reader – quite apart from the moral implications of dropping nukes on Iran. The first is the completely skewed logic: if Iran has nothing to do with 9/11-II, then why target Tehran? As in Iraq, it's all a pretext: only this time, the plan is to use nuclear weapons. We'll wipe out the entire population of Iran's capital city because, as Paul Wolfowitz said in another context, "it's doable."

The other weird aspect of this "nuke Iran" story is the triggering mechanism: a terrorist attack in the U.S. on the scale of 9/11. While it is certain that our government has developed a number of scenarios for post-attack action, one has to wonder: why develop this plan at this particular moment? What aren't they telling us?

I shudder to think about it.

The more I look at it, and the more I think of it, the more I sense a monumental evil casting its shadow over the world, and I have to tell you, it makes me wonder how much more time I want to spend on this earth. In my more pessimistic moments, I doubt whether we can avoid the horrific fate that seems to await us just around the next corner, the next moment, looming over the globe like a gigantic devil stretching its wings and blotting out the sun.

It seems to me that the question of whether life is really worth living anymore is inextricably bound up with the question of whether or not these madmen can be stopped. If not, then the only alternative is to live it up while we can and laugh defiantly in the face of the apocalypse. Why write columns, why comment at all, if we can't have any effect on the outcome? On the other hand, some ask

"Surely the New York Times and the Washington Post can find a lede here: 'US has plan to nuke Tehran if another 9/11.' Can we get at least a bloody story out of this?"

Might I suggest another lede?: "Armageddon approaches." Or perhaps, for the literary-mind secularists among us: "After many a summer dies mankind."

Where oh where is the "mainstream" media on this? That's a laughable question, because the answer is heartbreakingly obvious: they are nowhere to be found, and for a very good reason. As the Valerie Plame case is making all too clear, the MSM has been a weapon in the hands of the War Party at every step on the road to World War IV. It's an American tradition. As William Randolph Hearst famously put it to an employee in the run-up to the Spanish-American conflict of 1898:

"You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war."

Any objective examination of the Anglo-American media's role as a megaphone for this administration's "talking points" would have to conclude that the Hearst school of journalism has been dominant since well before the invasion of Iraq. Aside from the post-9/11 hysteria that effectively swept away all pretenses of a critical stance, the MSM was well acclimated to simply reiterating the U.S. government line on matters of war and peace all through the Clinton era, when friendly media coverage of the Balkans and numerous other Clintonian interventions habituated the press corps to a certain mindset. By the time the Bush administration set out on a campaign of deception designed to lie us into invading and occupying Iraq, the MSM was largely reconciled to playing the role of the government's amen corner.

With the U.S. and British media in the pocket of the Powers That Be, what hope is there that the American people – who don't believe anything if they don't see it on television – will awaken to the danger in time? Again, in my more pessimistic moments, there doesn't seem to be any such hope: television news seems firmly in the camp of the War Party, and the "mainstream" print media also doesn't seem a likely venue for this kind of reporting.

On my more optimistic days, however, I almost believe it's possible to outflank the War Party on the media front – because the Internet is a mighty weapon that will defeat them in the end. A recent Pew study shows that this is not just a technophilic fantasy:

"The Internet continues to grow as a source of news for Americans. One-in-four (24%) list the internet as a main source of news. Roughly the same number (23%) say they go online for news every day, up from 15% in 2000; the percentage checking the Web for news at least once a week has grown from 33% to 44% over the same time period.

"While online news consumption is highest among young people (those under age 30), it is not an activity that is limited to the very young. Three-in-ten Americans ages 30-49 cite the Internet as a main source of news.

"The importance of the Web for people in their working years is even more apparent when the frequency of use is taken into account. One-third of people in their 30s say they get news online every day, as do 27% of people in their 40s. Nearly a quarter of people in their 50s get news online daily, about the same rate as among people ages 18-29."

What this means is that we can put the news the MSM won't cover – e.g., the story about Cheney's Dr. Strangelove plan to strike Iran – on the front page of Antiwar.com and potentially reach one-in-four Americans. Last month we had over 2 million readers; this month is headed toward the same range – and that's in summertime, a traditionally slow time for us. Yet we're setting new records.

This, it seems to me, is the only reason for hope: a strategy of doing an end run around the mass media. We must mount a last desperate attempt to stand athwart the apocalypse shouting "No!" The alternative doesn't bear thinking about.

Never for a minute did any of us who founded Antiwar.com imagine we would one day be front and center in a twilight struggle to protect the country and the world from such a monumental evil, and yet here we are, a band of hobbits up against all the dark powers of Mordor. Without getting any more melodramatic than is absolutely unavoidable, I can only note that we've come a long way on our quest to rid the world of this particular Ring of Power, and the battle seems to be reaching some sort of dramatic climax. As to whether or not the Cheney-neocon-War Party axis of evil will be defeated in the end, no one can confidently predict at the moment. Yet one thing does seem clear: as long as Antiwar.com is around, we have at least a fighting chance.

I want to thank each and every one of our readers who have supported us down through the years, even as I remind them that their future support is even more vitally important than ever before. Together we can beat the War Party – but not without constant vigilance. We stand on the watchtower just as long as you, our readers and supporters, keep us there. I hope and trust we will continue until the end – whatever that end may turn out to be.

Comment: The trouble is, the powers that be know full well that the Internet is a way to get out information under the radar.

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Web of Deceit: How Internet Freedom Got the Federal Ax, And Why Corporate News Censored the Story
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
by Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D.

The days are now numbered for surfing an uncensored, open-access Internet, using your favorite search engine to search a bottomless cyber-sea of information in the grandest democratic forum ever conceived by humankind. Instead you can look forward to Googling about on a walled-off, carefully selected corpus of government propaganda and sanitized information "safe" for public consumption. Indoctrinated and sealed off from the outer world, you will inhabit a matrix where every ounce of creative, independent thinking that challenges government policies and values will be squelched. Just a wild conspiracy theory, you say? No longer can this be rationally maintained.

Federal government--from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to the White House--and corporate mainstream media have worked cooperatively to quietly block open access to cyberspace. Seizing its infrastructure, corporate mainstream media have censored and covered up its logistical moves—including lobbies in Congress and the FCC, the filing of suits in state and federal courts, and quid pro quo with the highest government officials--to commandeer, monopolize, and turn the Internet into an extension of itself. From Fox News to CNN, there has been dead silence as the greatest bastion of democracy in history is being torn down and resurrected in its own image. Now, as the corporate newsrooms remain mum, it has gotten the green light from the highest federal court in the land.

On June 27, 2005, in a 6 to 3 decision (National Cable & Telecommunications Association vs. Brand X Internet Services) the United States Supreme Court ruled that giant cable companies like Comcast and Verizon are not required to share their cables with other Internet service providers (ISPs). The Court opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, was fashioned to serve corporate interests. Instead of taking up the question of whether corporate monopolies would destroy the open-access architecture of the Internet, it used sophistry and legally- suspect arguments to obscure its constitutional duty to protect media diversity, free speech, and the public interest.

The Court accepted the FCC's conclusion reached in 2002 that cable companies don't "offer" telecommunication services according to the meaning of the 1996 Telecommunication Act, which defines telecommunication purely in terms of transmission of information among or between users. According to the FCC, cable modem service is not a telecommunications offering because consumers always use high speed wire transmission as a necessary part of other services like browsing the web and sending and receiving e-mail messages. The FCC maintained that these offerings are information services, which manipulate and transform data instead of merely transmitting them. Since the Act only requires companies offering telecommunication services to share their lines with other ISPs (the so-called "common carriage" requirement), the FCC concluded that cable companies are exempt from this requirement.

However, the FCC's conceptual basis for classifying cable modem services as informational was groundless. Not even the FCC could deny that people use their cable modems to transmit information from one point to another over a wire, regardless of whatever else they use them for. The FCC's classification could not possibly have provided a reasonable interpretation of the 1996 Telecommunication Act since it was inconsistent with it. Section 706 (C) (1) of this Act defines "advanced telecommunications capability"

without regard to any transmission media or technology, as high-speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications using any technology.

Broadband cable Internet offers "advanced telecommunications capability" since it clearly fits this legal definition. Therefore, cable modem service must legally be regarded as telecommunications service.

To classify it as an information service is instead to treat high-speed broadband Internet as though it were similar to cable services such as Fox News and CNN. These networks send information down a one-way pipe unlike Internet transmissions, which, in contrast, are interactive, two-way exchanges resembling telephone conversations. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made this quite clear in its decision in AT&T v. Portland:

Accessing Web pages, navigating the Web's hypertext links, corresponding via e-mail, and participating in live chat groups involve two-way communication and information exchange unmatched by the act of electing to receive a one-way transmission of cable or pay-per-view television programming. And unlike transmission of a cable television signal, communication with a Web site involves a series of connections involving two-way information exchange and storage, even when a user views seemingly static content. Thus, the communication concepts are distinct in both a practical and a technical sense. Surfing cable channels is one thing; surfing the Internet over a cable broadband connection is quite another.

The Supreme Court had to strain to find some alleged legal basis to defer to the FCC's classification of high-speed Internet as an information service. So it put the entire weight of its argument on the FCC's claim that cable companies do not "offer" the telecommunication aspects of its services to consumers. Instead, it "offers end users information-service capabilities inextricably intertwined with data transport." Justice Scalia, writing the minority opinion in Brand X, analogized, you might as well say that a pizza service doesn't deliver pizzas because it also bakes them! Countering with its own analogy, the majority rationalized that you might as well say that a car dealership "offers" engines to consumers because it offers them cars. According to the majority's perspective, since the finished product is the car and not the engine, it makes more sense to say they offer consumers cars rather than engines. Similarly, it argued, the finished product that cable modem customers seek is Internet services such as being able to surf the net, not simply a transmission over a wire. [...]

The main alternative to high speed Internet (broadband) via cable is presently slower modem connectivity via Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service over telephone lines. Telephone companies have traditionally been required by government to share their lines with other ISPs, thereby assuring greater competition and diversity in content. But the Court has now given the FCC the right to abandon this common carriage requirement to render it consistent with the broadband cable industry; and, as FCC Chair Kevin Martin has already given the nod to the telephone companies, it should only be a matter of time before the telephone lines are also deregulated and alternative, independent commercial ISPs are banished altogether from cyberspace.

Broadband and DSL are therefore on their way to becoming extensions of corporate mainstream media. In fact, the companies that have taken control of the Internet are themselves part of an intricate web of corporate media ownership. For example, Time Warner and Comcast, have recently purchased Adelphia. Moreover, companies such as Google are in a strategic position to become front men for mainstream corporate Internet. This financially prosperous dot com, which now rivals Time Warner in net worth, has advertising relations with Verizon and partnerships with companies such as News Corp. There have also been a number of documented instances in which Google has engaged in questionable censorship practices. It is therefore no stretch to imagine this company taking its place as gatekeeper of a government-friendly mainstream corporate Internet.

The logistics of this well organized assault on American democracy by corporate mainstream media can be summed up in this one simple principle: Whoever controls the conduit controls the content. Media broadcast corporations like CBS, ABC, and NBC control the spectrum that carries their broadcasts; they are therefore able to determine the content of their programming. Cable TV news networks like News Corp's Fox News and Time-Warner's CNN own the cables that carry their news shows, and therefore can control what passes as "news." Gigantic radio empires like Clear Channel and Infinity have crowded out the smaller broadcasters and now determine the content of mainstream radio. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, now on a campaign to restrict "liberal" programming, controls National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). Colossal media corporations like Time Warner, which also own mainstream movie distribution companies, also control the content of the movies most Americans watch. Publishers of books are also part of this intricate corporate media web. For example, News Corp. owns Harper-Collins.

All of these companies have interconnected corporate boards with a relatively small number of officers. And they have well entrenched business relationships with the government, for example, dependence on government officialdom for the content of their news reports; enormous financial incentives to receive government contracts (for example, General Electric's NBC has interests in military contracts to produce jet engines); interests in government deregulation of media ownership caps and cross-market ownership, and lucrative tax incentives. As a result of this intricate web of quid pro quo, the mainstream media is to America what Pravda used to be for the now defunct Soviet Union: disseminators of an array of government-friendly, self-censored, whitewashed propaganda.

When the London Times leaked the so called "Downing Street Memo," the Internet buzzed with how Americans were deceived and lied to about the Bush Administration's reasons for going to war in Iraq. While at first, the mainstream media gave scant attention to this memo, the shockwaves sent out from the Internet were simply too strong to be ignored indefinitely. Even so, the mainstream broadcast media, from NBC's Chris Matthews to Fox's O'Reilly, still ignored the substance of the memo (namely that "the facts" about the threat to U.S. security posed by Saddam Hussein were being "fixed" to fit a policy of preemptive war). Instead, it focused on peripheral issues (such as whether the Bush Administration had an exit plan) and it largely dismissed the memo as "nothing new."

So what if the Internet blogs were themselves walled off and thereby prevented from sounding the alarm in the first place? No American would then have even been aware of the memo's existence! And the Bush Administration would have avoided being placed in the position of answering to the American people. Without a free Internet, Americans are therefore vulnerable with no defense against media and government propaganda. The government is protected against the people instead of conversely. Walled off from a free Internet, America is walled off from the truth, and there is no longer freedom in America.

The mainstream media have systematically played down the Supreme Court's decision to deregulate broadband cable Internet just as it has ignored the Downing Street Memo. The decision was not even mentioned by cable TV networks like Fox and CNN. The New York Times covered it only on the bottom of C1 of the business section while the details of the BTK killer got front page press along with other decisions handed down by the Supreme Court on June 27 (including the Grokster file sharing case). The Palm Beach Post, which is published by Cox--another mainstream media company in the cable business--didn't cover it at all. Censoring stories that have potential to subvert corporate and government interests has already become the rule in this brave new world of corporate media coverage. And with open-access Internet now on its last leg, things promise to get even worse. Unless we are prepared to do something about it before it's too late!

What can we, the people, do to save the Internet from becoming the latest casualty of the corporate mainstream media?

Americans can no longer afford to sit back and permit others to defend freedom of speech for them. We are all the victims of the same concerted effort by the corporate political establishment to amass power and wealth for the few at the expense of the many. We can no longer afford to wait until all of our outlets of free speech have been shut down. The collective American voice can be a powerful one. There is great strength in numbers.

This power can be harnessed if we all take the time to write letters to our congress persons, letting them know our opposition to corporate monopolistic control of the Internet. History has shown that these protests can produce change. In 2003, when it was deluged with millions of letters from constituents protesting the FCC's deregulation of corporate media ownership rules, Congress responded by legislatively reducing the FCC's proposed market ownership cap. Now, with the demise of open-access Internet hanging in the balance, this problem of media consolidation is more crucial than ever. By our collective efforts, we can make a difference.

You should also send e-mail messages, including chain messages, to friends and associates alerting and educating them about the attack on the free architecture of the Internet. You can also join organized efforts such as the Center for Digital Democracy's Digital Destiny Campaign, a grass roots effort to protect Internet freedom and diversity. Other organizations like the Free Press have well organized and successful outlets for making your voice heard in Washington.

While they last, you should support diversity in search engines by using alternative independent, search engines. Google is not the only comprehensive search engine, and by supporting alternatives, we make it harder for one search engine to usurp the authority of others. Given that there are biases internal to the selection criteria of search engines, reliance on one engine to the exclusion of all others renders us more vulnerable to organized attempts at censorship, propagandizing, and control over what we can know.

You should also contact your federal, state and municipal leaders and let them know that you are concerned about the effects of corporate media consolidation of the Internet and that you would like to see municipal Internet service ensuring access for all residents of your community. Dominant cable and telephone companies have successfully lobbied state legislatures to forbid such competition and there have been at least fourteen states that have already banned or restricted municipal telecommunications utilities, and bills are presently being introduced in other states outlawing the offering of free or discounted access to Internet service by municipalities. A bill has also been introduced in the House that would prohibit such community and municipal services. You can join the Free Press initiative against it. On the other hand, the Community Broadband Act has been introduced in the Senate that would protect the right of communities to offer affordable broadband access.

Defenders of deregulation of corporate media have always pointed to alternative technologies in order to justify further deregulation. Before the present deregulation of Internet, the FCC pointed to the Internet to justify further deregulation of commercial broadcast TV and radio. Now the friends of deregulation, including the Supreme Court itself in the Brand X decision, are claiming that there are other platforms like wireless terrestrial and satellite as well as municipal Internet. But if the future resembles the past, these too will fall under corporate control with the help of the federal government. To see this you need only consider who now owns the satellites and controls the spectrum for wireless Internet and how vigilant mainstream corporate media have been in attempting to thwart the development of municipal and community Internet. It is therefore essential that we stand firm in our conviction and not fall for the old line. Affordable, uncensored Internet for all Americans is presently in danger of becoming a pipe dream. Unless we act now, the outlook for survival of democracy in cyberspace is dismal, and it grows dimmer with each successive conquest by mainstream corporate media.

A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION

Elliot D. Cohen is a media ethicist and author of many books and articles on the media and other areas of applied ethics. His most recent book on the dangers of corporate media is News Incorporated: Corporate Media Ownership and Its Threat to Democracy (Prometheus Books, March 2005).

Comment: Obviously, attacks on freedom cannot be waged openly. On the surface, decisions such as the one described above seem to be mere business technicalities that have no apparent effect in a domain such a freedom speech, but as the analysis shows, it could have far-reaching effects. We have had our own instances of censorship: first from PayPal when they closed our account with no warning, and then with funny changes in our Google rankings as the company rewrites its ranking algorithms. Other sites have seen their pages disappear completely from Google search returns.

So it is not a question of "if" they Internet will be sanitised, it is a question of "when".

Given the rulers of our planet are going to clamp down on free speech and the global opposition networks that have come into existence because of the Internet, the following question, posed by John Kaminski, is ever so pertinent.

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Are you prepared for World War Three?

When that defining moment finally comes, will you have the time to remember what you could have done to stop it?

By John Kaminski
skylax@comcast.net

Let's pretend, just for the moment, that this is a hypothetical question.

Let's pretend, just for argument's sake, in the comfort of your own easy chair, in front of your own big screen TV, just a few easy steps away from your favorite, anxiety-reducing snacks in your refrig, that this is just an academic exercise in geopolitical and psychological speculation, a polite brainstorming session that imaginary participants might conduct if certain coincidental worst case scenarios were to come to pass ... all at the same time.

And let us acknowledge, in the calm certainty of our own typically secure routines, that any resemblance of this imaginary debate to actual persons and events living or dead may not be purely coincidental.

OK? Got it? Pretend it's hypothetical. Just for fun. Then let's begin.

Are you ready for World War Three?

What kind of pathetic paranoid poppycock is that? What IS this? Another Y2K drill? Much ado about nothing, I think.

Remember. You're pretending it's hypothetical. You agreed.

Oh, all right. Let's see. Mmmmmm .... of course I'm not ready. Nobody is ready for World War Three. You CAN'T get ready for that.

What will you do when it happens?

Sit here and be vaporized, I guess. What could anybody do?

So ... does that mean you're not ready?

Of course I'm not ready for World War Three! Is anybody ready for World War Three?

Yes, I think there are some people who are ready?

Oh yeah? Who?

Well, three types of groups, at least. First, there are the people who are already victims of major wars, the people in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Colombia, not to mention Burma, the Philippines, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Congo, and certain other countries, people who are already scavenging in often-radioactive garbage dumps just to make ends meet; many of their relatives or children have already been killed by invaders, and they're just living hand to mouth, not caring whether the food they eat or the things they find might be radioactive or not, because when your expected life span is only a few more weeks or months, you don't much care about those things. Survival becomes a day-by-day operation. If the superpowers who have these weapons destroy themselves by using them, that would be good news for the folks routinely diving in dumpsters.

Second, there are the people who plan and wish to execute nuclear wars. They have already built themselves secure bunkers miles beneath the earth's surface. There are many in the U.S. and Europe. The figure they can ride it out, and they have a new, secret technology that actually detoxifies radioactive contamination, but they're keeping it under wraps until after the Big One so then they can come out when the coast is clear and continue making scads of money doing two things: cleaning up radioactive rubble and repossessing real estate whose owners have been obliterated, are slowly and agonizingly died of radiation poisoning, or simply have scampered off to more hospitable climes.

Third, there are the people who saw it coming and had the foresight to move to remote locations in the Southern Hemisphere. As long as widespread nuclear explosions didn't trigger a pole shift, those in the lower Southern Hemisphere would be relatively safe from the nuclear winter that will follow World War Three and render the entire Northern Hemisphere completely uninhabitable. The winds in the world are pretty much hemisphere specific, so that the winds that blow around the world in the Northern Hemisphere don't cross over into the southern, and vice versa, although with the magnitude and volume of these explosions in all-out nuclear war, there is bound to be some crossover.

Humph. Sonofagun. You have this all worked out, don't you?

What will you do when it actually happens?

When what actually happens?

When World War Three actually happens.

How will I find out about it?

Well, there are several ways you could find out about it. If you lived in an urban area like New York or Beijing or Cairo or Teheran, you'd probably find out about it when you saw a flash of light brighter than anything you've ever imagined, but it would last for only a millisecond and then you'd see nothing ever again. If, like most people, you lived in towns moderately close to these cities, you'd probably feel these humongous thumps and wonder why your house was disintegrating all around you. If you lived way out in the sticks you'd start to see these radiant atmospheric flashes, feel relatively gentle ground tremors, and then in a few hours you'd see a smoky blackness creeping toward you from the direction of the cities that would grow blacker and blacker as the hours passed. Depending on each person's individual perceptual skills, it would be a matter of minutes or hours before you realized you would never see the sun again, because you will never survive the abject cold that would be produced by the sun being blotted out for probably from five to 15 years, except, as I said before, in extremely lucky places in the way Southern Hemisphere. Didn’t you ever wonder why all those Israelis are buying up huge chunks of real estate in Patagonia?

You mean I won't see something on television and be able to briefly feel a pang of remorse about someone else being killed far away, and then be able to put it out of my mind so I could watch Monday Night Football with my usual intense focus?

Not likely. Here’s a variation on the initial question. What would you do if you got information that you really believed and trusted that World War Three was about to start in a few months? What steps would you take to prepare yourself?

How would I know I could trust the information?

Well, you’d hear it from the sources you always trusted. Your newspapers, your TV, maybe even from some particularly reliable Internet site.

But would I believe it? Would I be willing to give up everything I’ve worked for all my life, and just bolt into the wild blue yonder because I read something some journalist, no matter how well connected, might have just dreamed up?

Well, let’s say you had an inside source in the secret government, and he told you about the plan. Let’s say you regarded it as having the authenticity of all those insider stock tips he’d given you over the years that had made you a bundle. Someone who could discourse effortlessly on Masonic kingpin Albert Pike’s 1871 prediction that there would be THREE World Wars and final one would begin in the Middle East and erase both Zionized Christendom and Islamic world in one mighty stroke. And someone who had scary connections with alphabet intelligence agencies.

Yes, I see. What would I do? Hmmm.

Would you run, or would you try to alert others?

Oh dogbiscuits! You know what it’s like to tell people that you really know what’s going on, and that they don’t. They think you’ve got marbles rattling around in your brain, and they just ignore you, at best. At worst, they call Homeland Security and the men in the little white coats with the large guns show up at your door. At least, you become socially ostracized for not going along with what everybody else believes.

So which would you do?

Well, I guess I’d try to find out if the tip was real or not, and if I determined it WAS real, I’d try to alert the most important people I know to see if they could do something about it.

What would make you decide if the tip was real or not?

Well, our best sources are on TV, I think. At least that’s what everybody believes. Most people don’t believe something is really real unless they see it on television.

So you’re saying that what you see on TV is actually real?

No, I’m not that naive. I know stuff that appears on the news is often shaded by those who own the TV networks to inflict the spin they want to put on most world events. Hell, that’s how we got in all those wars.

So what if someone on TV, highly reputable, came on and predicted all-out nuclear war? Would you act on that?

Probably not. I wouldn’t believe him.

OK, say you were certain of the tip you received being real. Then what would you do?

I’d call the police, then my congressperson.


And what would you do if they all said you were nuts? And then they said they knew who the bad guys really were, because they had this evidence that they couldn’t really tell you about because of National Security, but they were going to nuke them all to smithereens.

I don’t know. Cry? Or run into the street screaming.

OK, one more question. If you had the power to impact a large number of people and the money to arrange some effective plan of action to the catch the people who were planning to use nuclear weapons, and you were certain that they were going to carry out their plan on the basis of at least 50 years of continuing atrocities perpetrated against innocent people which they later blamed on completely innocent patsies, what would you do ..... ?

John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida and whose works are seen on hundreds of websites around the world. These have been collected into two anthologies, “America’s Autopsy Report” and “The Perfect Enemy.” He has also written the best-selling booklet, “The Day America Died: Why You Shouldn’t Believe the Official Story of What Happened on September 11, 2001,” which is aimed at those who still believe the government’s story of what happened on that tragic day. For more information go to www.johnkaminski.com

Comment: What would you do?

In the years prior to Hitler coming to power, the government in Germany had a policy of appeasement. They would bring in less harsh measures than Hitler was proposing in opposition in an attempt to deflate his arguments. In the name of fighting authoritarianism, the government passed authoritarian laws.

Sound familiar?

After Hitler came to power, there were many Germans who saw he would lead the country to war. There were people outside of Germany who also could read the writing on the wall, or, the signs. However, for the monied class, the Bolsheviks were the bigger threat, and rather than fight fascism, they aligned with it to combat Bolshevism. British PM Chamberlain promised the world "Peace in our Time" after signing the Munich agreement in 1938.

Most Germans and most people following the events wanted to believe that everything was OK, that the threat had been met and war had been averted. They wanted to get on with their lives and believe that the lessons of a "World War" had been learned between 1914 and 1918 -- that it would never happen again.

We know how it ended: 65 million dead.

Many people have written us since the London bombings on July 7 to say that it seems the heat has been turned up. They feel a difference. Before those first bombings, the Downing Street memo had outed Bush and Blair for the liars we knew they were. While the mainstream press in the US successfully buried the event by not reporting it, through the Internet, the news was being spread. The Valerie Plame/Karl Rove affair in the US was putting pressure on the White House, to the point that press conferences for White House spokesman Scott McClellan were becoming aggressive. The dormant press corp, smelling blood, roused itself from its post 9/11 stupor and was suddenly awake with sharpened tongue and pencil. The Live 8 concert had put focus on the plight of Africa, and the G8 conference was going to have to say something about it, even if they have no intention of stopping the profitable looting of the continent.

Just over two weeks later, see how the situation has changed.

  • Who is talking about Africa?
  • The Patriot Act was just given a go-ahead by the House of Representatives and is off to the US Senate, becoming enshrined as the permanent law of the land in the US.
  • Bush's choice for the Supreme Court is a man who recently overruled the lower court in the case giving the president the power to imprison who he wants, when he wants, for as long as he wants, with no recourse to the American judicial system.
  • The biometric ID cards that had been successfully stopped earlier this year in the UK are back on the agenda, even though top British officials have admitted that they wouldn't have stopped the bombings in London.
  • Reader reports from the UK tell us that the mood in the pubs and workplaces is getting dark. The anti-Muslim rhetoric is increasing, with calls for nuking them and throwing them out of the UK.
  • A second "bombing" occurred last week in London that almost seems as if it was set up to show that, through its ineptitude, we are dealing with crazy Muslims and not Mossad.
  • An innocent Brazilian was chased through the Tube prior to being gunned down. The government and the police express their sorrow at this event, but warn us that it may well happen again because shooting to kill is the only way to keep us safe.
  • New Yorkers will be subjected to random bag searches in the city's subway system.
  • US congressmen are calling for a nuclear response.
  • Zionists in the US are accusing Blair of being soft of terrorism.

A QFS member from the UK wrote us with this remark:

And they're combining two threads nicely here in the U.S. As I turned on CNN this morning I heard, "What makes suburban teens become murderous jihadists? The internet is the lifeblood of terrorists."

The implication is that the 'net is the primo recruitment tool and that kids become terrorists was as commonly as kids drop out of school.

Those who have been paying attention are also aware that the period of the Bush Reich has also been accompanied by a tremendous increase in earthquakes, volcanoes, weird weather, locusts, and new diseases. Perhaps some people have even wondered if there is some relationship between events in human society and events in the Earth. Is the chaotic energy of hatred and violence generated by mankind mirrored by a growing violence from Mother Earth?

The following exchange occurred between Laura and the C's in 1998, years before the Bush Reich upped the ante:

Q: (L) Is there a comet cluster that was knocked into some
kind of orbit of its own, that continues to orbit...
A: Yes.
Q: (L) And in addition to that comet cluster, there are also
additional comets that are going to get whacked into the
solar system by the passing of this brown star?
A: Yes.
Q: (A) I understand that the main disaster is going to come
from this comet cluster...
A: Disasters involve cycles in the human experiential cycle which corresponds to the passage of comet cluster.
Q: (A) I understand that this comet cluster is cyclic and
comes every 3600 years. I want to know something about
the shape of this comet cluster. I can hardly imagine...
A: Shape is variable. Effect depends on closeness of
passage.
Q: (L) So, it could be spread out... (A) We were asking at
some point where it will be coming from. The answer was
that we were supposed to look at a spirograph.
A: Yes.
Q: (A) Now, spirograph suggests that these comets will not
come from one direction, but from many directions at once.
Is this correct?
A: Very good!!!
Q: (A) Okay, they will come from many directions...
A: But, initial visibility presents as single, solid body.
Q: (A) Do we know what is the distance to this body at
present?
A: Suggest you keep your eyes open!
Q: (A) I am keeping my eyes open.
A: Did you catch the significance of the answer regarding time table of cluster and brown star? Human cycle mirrors cycle of catastrophe. Earth benefits in form of periodic cleansing. Time to start paying attention to the signs. They are escalating. They can even be "felt" by you and others, if you pay attention.

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US Right turns on Blair for being 'soft on terror'
By Alec Russell in Washington
(Filed: 25/07/2005)

The American Right, for four years a fount of rapturous praise for Tony Blair, is showing signs of falling out of love with Britain over what it sees as its soft and ineffective record on terrorism.

The July 7 bombings prompted outpourings of sympathy from Americans. But the media coverage of the bombings was marked by a tone of frustration at London's record of tolerance for Islamist preachers. This has intensified on the Right in the wake of Thursday's botched attacks.

Two prominent articles in the latest edition of The Weekly Standard, the neo-conservative journal with close ties to the Bush administration, have laid into Britain's domestic approach to fighting terrorism.

Under the headline "Letter from Londonistan" Irwin Stelzer concludes that British policy amounts to "easy entry for potential terrorists" and "relative safety from deportation and detention as enemy combatants".

He concludes that Mr Blair is the "prisoner of a dominant political class that is preventing Britain from responding to the threat the nation faces".

Another article suggests President George W Bush's administration take the dramatic step of ending the 1986 visa waiver programme which allows Britons and citizens of most other western European states three months in the US without a visa.

"The transatlantic crowd in Washington might rise in high dudgeon at the damage this could do to US-European relations," writes Reuel Marc Gerecht, a security analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think-tank which primed many of the radical ideas of the Bush administration.

But, he said, warnings that this would lead to the swamping of embassies and consulates by visa applicants should be ignored.

"American-European relations were just fine when we required all Europeans to obtain visas before crossing our borders … Issuing visas to Europeans would be an annoying inconvenience for all; it would not, however, be an insult."

Calls for such drastic action, first raised in a column in the New York Times, are to date confined to the media. Officials say the Bush administration has not raised the issue and that rather it has just offered to help in any way it can.

Officials also point out that consular authorities proved no defence against the perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist attacks, as Mr Gerecht concedes.

But his frustration at British policy is shared by swaths of influential Americans, both on the Right and in the intelligence community.

The Heritage Foundation, another prominent Right-wing think-tank, last week called on Britain to strengthen its anti-terrorist laws and consider withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights.

It also wants Britain to adopt a policy of zero-tolerance against radical Islamic preachers.

Comment: All of the sources cited by the Telegraph are part of the Zionist network in power in the US. They see the US and its allies as tools to implement the Zionist plan for a Greater Israel. If the Arab states must be destroyed, so be it, therefore we see a concerted campaign in the media to portray the Arabs and Muslims are crazy, blood-thirsty beasts, while Israelis are just like you and me, fighting to hold on to civilisation in the face of the savages.

A look at history shows that it is the Zionists that are the savages. Israel was stolen from its inhabitants, the Palestinians, by "terrorism" led by men who later became Israel's leaders. This terrorism against Palestinians continues to this day, although Israel has so warped public opinion in the US and Britain that it is seen as the justified use of massive force to preserve Israel's security. The building of a massive wall, cutting off the Palestinians from their land, is seen as "normal" and "necessary".

But what is the truth of this image of "Muslim = terrorist" that we see propagated in the media? In the following long article, the author throws some light on the facts and raises some disturbing questions that the Zionists in the new fascist axis of the US, the UK, and Israel, will never answer.

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The Myth of the Suicide Bomber
By "impatient"

Why "Suicide Bombing" Must be a Myth and What Purposes it Really Serves 

After reading The Logic of Suicide Terrorism--It’s the Occupation, Not the Fundamentalism by Robert Pape, the main idea that we come away with is that suicide bombers are real, very real indeed. Though we were promised a revelation of the logic, these questions remain: 

  • If the purpose of a suicide-terrorist attack is not to die, but to kill and to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the target society, why do they die? 
  • If the purpose of the suicide bomber is to end the occupation of his country, why is the suicide tactic not as old as war and territorial occupation itself? 
  • If the purpose of the suicide bomber is to end the occupation of his country and to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the target society why are the targets so disparate and scattered, without a clear relation to the occupation? 
  • Why are suicide bombings publicized before any proof is brought by investigation? 

For me these questions underline the illogical nature of suicide bombings. I believe to find logic you have to see the suicide bomber as a fabrication of the Zionists for their own purposes: 

  • To demonize Islam 
  • To make Muslims look stupid, fanatical, and murderous. 
  • To create worldwide terrorism that they can claim has nothing to do with Israel, but everything to do with Islam. 
  • To attack those who think themselves to be allies, but are not, e.g. America, Spain, Britain. 
  • To shift the blame for any bombing Zionists perpetrate onto the Muslims, simply by calling it a suicide bombing. 
  • To control public opinion in favor of Israel as the most grieved victim of terrorism. 
  • To justify apartheid in Israel. 
  • To justify war in the Middle East with the spoils of war accruing to themselves, while the costs are borne by their “allies”. [...] 

Israel Uses the Myth as a Cover to Attack "Allies" 

[Israel uses the suicide bomber myth as a cover] to attack those who think themselves to be allies, but are not, e.g. America, Spain, Britain. 

In 1983 Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon. The US and France had peacekeeping forces in place near the Beirut airport. The US had a naval presence off the coast. Early one Sunday morning, simultaneously, both the French and American Marine barracks were bombed. The story was that a truck had come at high speed through a gate and exploded, killing hundreds of Marines. As the two bombings were simultaneous one wonders why so little is said about the French barracks especially if we are to think there were simultaneous “truck bombs”; it would have been a neat trick. 

Suicide was not mentioned in the original reports, in 1983, but in the twentieth anniversary reports the bombing of the US Marine barracks was said to have been done by a “suicide bomber”, and elsewhere the words “terrorist suicide bombing” were used. So by 2003 a simple bombing had become a suicide bombing. I think that change is significant. 

Using Professor Pape’s logic of suicide terrorism applied to the situation in Lebanon we should wonder why the occupying Israeli force was not targeted rather than the French and Americans who were on the periphery as peacekeepers. Just because a target is handy does not make it strategically worthwhile. If the planning was so tight that simultaneous truck bombs could hit these two marginal targets, why not use that expertise and tonnage to hit the one perfect target? 

The Israelis had prior knowledge of a truck being outfitted to carry a very large bomb but did not warn the Americans.(déjà vu) This was reported by Mossad operative, Victor Ostrovsky in his book By Way of Deception. The odd thing about this story is not that the Israelis neglected to warn the Americans, but that they could even imagine that the Americans would be the target rather than themselves. Why would they think that? The Israelis use the deception of admitting some knowledge as a way of deflecting suspicion away from themselves as perpetrators. In this case the admission of prior knowledge reveals more than disregard, it reveals an inconsistency that makes me believe they were the bombers. 

Israel's Suicide Bomber Myth is an Organic Process With Three Components: Reality, Fantasy and Purpose 

[KingKangaroo:] If Israel did invent the suicide bomb, why did they wait so long to use the tactic at home? 

The invention of a myth does not happen in a meeting of the Knesset, nor does it come out of the imagination of one person or a think tank. It is an organic process that is a mix of reality, fantasy, and purpose

A good example of this organic process is the example I gave earlier of the bombings in 1983 of the US and French military barracks at the Beirut airport. I believe it was Israel that carried out the attacks. The Israelis did not want the US and France to intermeddle in Israel’s attack on the Palestinians who had fled to Lebanon. The US and France were their allies, so an attack could not be seen to come from the Israelis. The bombing was done under the pretense that two truck bombs were detonated simultaneously as they ran into the barracks. Of course the trucks, if there were any, were demolished, and the drivers, if there were any, were blown up. The story of who did the bombing was in the hands of the Israelis who fabricated the whole thing to cover themselves. 

So the Israelis had the purpose to make their meddlesome allies leave. The reality was the bombing, and the fantasy was the fabrication that hid the truth. Today this would be called a “suicide bombing”; in 1983 it was not. You can see that it is only the characterization that has changed, not the action. 

I do not know the event that marks the beginning of the suicide bomber myth. Bombings can be made suicidal retroactively, making it even more difficult to pinpoint its beginnings. One thing I can say with confidence is that it was not an actual suicide that prompted the new formula, but almost serendipitously the Israelis found the suicide twist to their terrorism myth to be very useful.. 

The primary use of the suicide bomber myth is to demonize the Palestinians. Israel had fought three successful wars against the inhabitants of Palestine in 1948, 1967, and 1973. The Palestinians had been disarmed, dispossessed, and forced into refugee camps in Gaza, Jordan, and the West Bank. After 1973 what the Israelis had on their hands was akin to Indian Reservations in the US, but with millions of people in the small territory. This did not satisfy the Israelis who wanted the whole lot to move into neighboring countries leaving Israel to the Israelis. 

The injustice and inequality of this situation was too obvious for the Israelis to pursue their goals without condemnation by the world. It was pathetic to listen to Israelis whine about being threatened by the awful Palestinians who wanted to “push Jews into the sea”. It was necessary to make these rag-tag Palestinians look menacing, dangerous, and fanatical to justify Israel’s continued expansion and relentless punishment of these defeated people. 

Blaming the Palestinians for terrorist actions, like the murder of the Israeli Olympic athletes at Munich, was Israel’s original ploy, but ambitious actions like that were costly and difficult. Gradually the elaborate terrorism of Abu Nidal gave way to the modest but equally effective suicide bomber. The purpose of making the Palestinians look wantonly murderous, unpredictable and fanatical is realized by this myth, justifying all manner of retribution and Israel’s continued expansion. This ogranic process goes on. As we speak, the myth of the Palestinian suicide bomber is taking on its new form in London; as it has in Madrid, Kenya, Tanzania, New York and other farflung places -wherever the [Israelis/Zionists] find it useful. 

The Fairy Tale Blocks Serious Questions 

The moment people stop believing in the suicide bomber fairy tale, the sooner they'll start to ask some serious questions. 

Remember how we all used to believe the holocaust tales? There are all those pictures, all that testimony, all those books written, all those memorials built. It is in textbooks and encyclopedias. It is taught in school. 

Can't we handle the possiblity that the "Islamic fundamentalist, suicide bomber" may also be a lie? We should look at everything with the same skepticism we developed in dealing with the holocaust myth, especially those things that come from the same source. [...]

Treason and the Myth 

[Mariner:] Since the U.S. Intel people know this - IF the Israelis masterminded the bombing of the Marine Barracks - they know it and are engaged in Treason by not making it known. 

A fine example of such treason is the case of the USS Liberty. Knowledge went beyond Intelligence all the way to LBJ who gave the order for the rescuers to turn back. 

The Intifada is Real and Justified, Not to Confuse with the Suicide Bomber Fable 

Of course the Palestinian resistance is real and thoroughly justified. It is the fabricated "suicide bomber" that I seek to discredit. The myth is used to make the Palestinians and Muslims look stupid and effete. It is also the method by which they are set up as patsies for every act of terrorism Israel chooses. The forty foot high security wall replete with guard towers was justified by the myth of the “suicide bomber”. Don’t confuse this cheap fable with the true courage of real people. 

It is Very Hard and Rare to Overcome Survival Instinct and Commit Suicide 

[MrSpock:] The suicide bomber as a fabrication of the Zionists? How? Who dies? 

Muslims, and sacrificial others. Part of what makes the "suicide bomber" preposterous is that no important Jewish target has ever been hit. 

Suicide is absolutely unnatural; it is an aberration in creatures whose instinct is to survive. It is not easy to override that instinct. It is so contrary to instinct that stories of suicide for a cause are few and always make us marvel: the samurai who falls on his sword as penance for a loss in battle, the kamikaze pilot who knows he goes to certain death, the Roman who prefers death by his own hand to the humiliation of being killed by his enemies. There have been Christian and Buddhist martyrs who use suicide as a demonstration of belief and/or protest. All these are distinct from the unwilling martyrdom of dying in conflict. 

The fact that suicide for a cause is so exceptional in our history is one thing that makes me question the burgeoning phenomenon of the “Muslim suicide bomber”. The Japanese Kamikaze pilot is understandable as a cultural phenomenon with roots in the concept of the samurai, but again, this is so exceptional that we look in awe on those whose sense of duty is so strong. Can we find a similar antecedent for this peculiar type of martyrdom among Muslims in these last fourteen centuries, keeping in mind the difference between dying in battle and an intentional suicide? I don't think so. 

Are there any other instances of intentional martyrdom in all our history that have been met with such cruel derision and mockery as the “Muslim suicide bomber” of our time? Doesn’t such a reaction by itself make this case extraordinary? 

That suicide for a cause is anti-instinctual, exceedingly rare, and when found, traceable to its cultural antecedents, makes me very skeptical that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such cases would spring forth quite suddenly in a people, no matter what the provocation. 

Professor Pape tries to avoid the question of religion in his article because he wants us to think that the occupation of territory in the Middle East is sufficient to cause this phenomenon. It cannot be. And Gabor would like to make the case for Islam as the sufficient cause of suicide bombing, and that cannot be either, for many of those purported to be suicides are not religious. 

As for the Palestinian family whose son or daughter is said to have been a suicide bomber, are they not very much like families everywhere whose children die in battle? They desperately want to see that the death meant something, had some good in it. That is not hard to understand. Also familiar to all are the leaders who praise the dead, speaking of their heroism. It keeps up morale. 

Neither of us has access to evidence for or against suicide bombings and cannot hope to prove anything one way or the other. What I have tried to do is look at it historically, psychologically, and rationally. I stand by my assertion that the “Muslim suicide bomber” is a myth. As you said about the Muslims, “They don't deny the suicide bombers, they are trying to explain it.” I am trying to explain it too, it needs a lot of explaining. 

The Vulgar 72 Virgin Myth [Has No Basis in Islam] 

[Judson:]...[the parents] desperately want to see that the death meant something, had some good in it. That is not hard to understand 

How many times have you heard an American bring up the idea that suicide bombers are motivated by the thought of 72 virgins waiting for them in heaven? What audacious and gratutitous cruelty, how heartless, how vulgar. Is that what they would like to say to the parents of a son or daughter who has been killed in the struggle against the Zionists? And how much more horrible is it to think that they were not suicides but homicides? Americans should keep their smutty fantasies to themselves. 

The Suicide Bomber Never Really Hurts the Enemy 

[grizzle:] No important Jewish target has ever been hit. Kind of like the IRA isn't gunning for the queen and family. 

Not quite. Take the example that is in this morning’s news: 

A suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of teens near a shopping mall in the seaside city of Netanya on Tuesday, killing himself and two others in the second such attack since a truce was declared five months ago. ...The blast went off shortly before 7 p.m. near the Sharon Mall in Netanya. Police said a preliminary investigation indicated the bomber blew himself up among a group of teenagers crossing a busy intersection. 

Unidentified teenagers crossing a street is not an important Jewish target. But this is typical for bombings in Israel. The victims are often not even Israelis, let alone important Israelis. Reports of victims and damage are deliberately vague, merely giving an impression, not facts or pictures. Asian and South American workers, other Palestinians, and what seems to be a favorite target - Russian immigrants are the usual victims. 

After thinking carefully about suicide as a tactic and putting yourself in the place of a person contemplating this ultimate sacrifice – how would you choose a target to make your death worthwhile - useful to force an end to the occupation of your country? Would you blow yourself up in a shopping mall toy store, the entrance to a super market, a bus stop, near a hitchhiking post, in a restaurant frequented by foreigners, outside a shopping mall? It may not be possible to get through the security to hit the Knesset while in session, but surely you could come up with something better than a mall toy store. 

The pathetic nature of the targets reinforces the idea that Muslims are stupid. But for me it reinforces the doubt that Muslims are suicide bombers. 

The Suicide Hijacker--Similar Myth 

[grizzle:] Palestinian vs Israeli is not 9/11 or 7/7. I doubt Muslims were involved in the latter two, unless they were the non-religious CIA shill type. 

I do not believe that Muslims were involved in 9/11, but wasn't the notion of the suicide bomber the direct antecedent of the suicide hijacker? I believe there were no hijackers involved in 9/11. But for all those who buy the hijacker scenario the preparation they have been given to believe that Muslims have no qualms about suicide leads directly to the conclusion that Muslims must be the culprits. 

Palestinian vs. Israeli is not 9/11, 7/7, 3/11, USS Cole, Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings, the shoebomber, Beslan school, suicide bombings in Iraq, etc. If they are not Palestinian vs. Israeli, perhaps the Israeli part of the equation is what should be examined. The Israelis invented and perpetuate this myth, complete with the bombed-out bus tour of Europe and the US. It is not hard for them to come up with these tales, just think for a moment about the absolutely Byzantine concoctions provided by very ordinary Jews as they manufacture their holocaust tales. 

Muslims Did Not Use Suicide as a Method in Previous Wars 

[MrSpock:] So the person believes that he won't really die, only go "to another place". Isn't that what all religion is all about? Of course it is. Muslims just happened to "activate" this belief in a larger than average percentage. 

Islam has been around for 1400 years. Is suicide a religio-cultural tradition? Looking only at history in the last 150 years can you point to suicide as a method of fighting the enemy? The French experience with Muslim terrorists in Algeria had its bombers, but no suicide bombers. The English experience in fighting the Arabs in 1918 in Iraq was fierce, but no suicide bombers. Israel has been fighting the Palestinians since 1948, where are the Muslim suicide bombers in those years between 1948 and 1985? If it were a religious predilection it would not have made a sudden appearance in Israel within the last twenty years. Islam is a worldwide religion, fighting battles in places far from the Palestinian conflict – before 1985 where were the Muslim suicide bombers outside of Israel? 

In addition, it is the case that many of the so-called suicide terrorists are not religious. How can a religion induce a person to commit suicide with the promise of honor in heaven if that person is not a believer? 

You agreed with my statement “Suicide is absolutely unnatural; it is an aberration in creatures whose instinct is to survive. It is not easy to override that instinct.. But just to add another dimension to our survival instinct, think of what you know about mothers. Is it not the case that protection of her young is primary? It is not difficult for us to imagine a mother who sacrifices herself for her child, we can understand that. But can we imagine a mother of two small children ready to commit suicide for a cause? A mother would not have the inducement of “72 virgins waiting on the other side” as Muslim haters mockingly cite. 

Getting involved in a case by case dispute over hundreds, possibly thousands of these reports is not possible for us. I am just not willing to accept at face value the reports of suicide bombers coming out of the Middle East for all the reasons I have discussed. I do not have to present an alternative explanation for every death that has been attributed to a suicide bomber to cast doubt on the stories. It would be akin to disputing the six million figure for the holocaust by examining each of the six million. The story can be undercut in other ways. I have tried to do that. 

Embarrassing Reality Check



Robert Pape
Ph.D., Chicago, 1988
Major Areas of Interest:
Selected Publications:
- The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" in APSR (2003);
- Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War;
- "Explaining Costly International Moral Action: Britain's Sixty-Year Campaign against the Atlantic Slave Trade" (with Chaim Kaufmann) in International Organization (1999).

Robert A. Pape is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago specializing in international security affairs. His publications include
Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War (Cornell 1996), "Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work," International Security (1997), "The Determinants of International Moral Action," International Organization (1999). His commentary on international security policy has appeared in The New York Times, New Republic, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, as well as on Nightline, ABC News with Peter Jennings, and National Public Radio. Before coming to Chicago in 1999, he taught international relations at Dartmouth College for five years and air power strategy for the USAF's School of Advanced Airpower Studies for three years. He received his Ph. D. from the University of Chicago in 1988 and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Betta Kappa from the University of Pittsburgh in 1982. His current work focuses on the effect of technological change on conflict and cooperation among major powers and the theory and practice of suicide terrorism.

Impatient says: When suicide terrorism is exposed as a hoax won't all these accolades be a little embarrassing? I mean, really - The Theory and Practice of Suicide Terrorism? I''m afraid it is worse than being an expert in Gender Issues and is right up there with Holocaust Studies. Passé doesn't quite describe how it will look when the truth is known.

Epilogue by Cyte

The Koran states that the punishment for murder is execution unless the survivors waive it. The punishment for suicide is eternal Hell and there is no way out.

I once met a suicide-promoting cleric in an Arab country and listened to him for a while. He was not an Arab, but he wanted to look like one. He spoke like one. He coordinated with local intelligence and the Mossad. And nobody touched him. He talked to young men about suicide. He was a suicide talk trainer. The boys talked about suicide and were all incarcerated, but the Israeli myth of the suicide bomber was born.

I don't think that there are suicide trainers, but suicide-talk trainers. I believe that videos declaring intent to go on a suicide mission are staged under drugs or under torture.

===============
Liberty Forum poster "impatient" presented compelling arguments on this thread that the suicide bomber is a myth and cannot exist in reality. "Impatient" refuted professor Robert Pape's research on the subject. I have only weaved his comments together and added section headings, an epilogue and a few comments between square brackets.
Cyte

Comment: We repeat once again a citation from a report written by elite US army officers at the Army School of Advanced Military Studies that gave the following description for Mossad:

"Wildcard. Ruthless and cunning. Has capability to target US forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act." [Washington Times, September 10, 2001]

Notice the date. We have no doubt that there are many elements in important posts within the US government and military that are horrified by what the neocons are doing. Where many commentators are hoping these Patriotic elements will soon do something about the Bush Reich, we think the history of US intelligence activities doesn't amke that much of a democratic alternative. There have been many countries overthrwn, their leaders assassinated, and their people put into poverty by these so-called Patriotic elements before the neocons tooks over the reins of power.

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The "Magic Bomb" Theory
by Mark Faulk

This is a story about disappearing terrorists, nonexistent bags, and botched investigations, but most of all, this is a story about magic bombs.

It's Crime Scene Investigation 101. It's the basic law of physics. It's so elementary, my dear Watson, that even a dancer who was dazed from the shock of being seated directly over the spot where one of the bombs was planted in the London tube carriage two weeks ago could figure it out.

In a seemingly innocuous article in the British newspaper Cambridge Evening News, 32 year-old dance instructor Bruce Lait, in an interview from his hospital bed, said that "The policeman said 'mind that hole, that's where the bomb was'. The metal was pushed upwards as if the bomb was underneath the train. They seem to think the bomb was left in a bag, but I don't remember anybody being where the bomb was, or any bag."

Read that last part again, very slowly, and let it sink in. "The metal was pushed upwards as if the bomb was underneath the train." "They seem to think the bomb was left in a bag, but I don't remember anybody being where the bomb was, or any bag."

And the British authorities on the crime scene missed that, and just assumed that it was a carry-on bomb? C'mon, how many times have you seen that bad TV show where the eccentric detective figures out that the crime was an "inside job" because the glass was outside the broken window, not inside where it should have been. I repeat: Crime Scene Investigation 101. Basic physics.

While describing the scene, Lait said about he and his dance partner Crystal Main, "Out of that whole carriage, I think Crystal and I were the only ones who were not seriously injured, and I think we were nearest the bomb."

He went on to describe those sitting closest to him and Main when the bomb went off. "I remember an Asian guy, there was a white guy with tracksuit trousers and a baseball cap, and there were two old ladies sitting opposite me." He described the woman whose body was lying on top of him when he regained consciousness as a "middle-aged woman who had blonde curly hair, was dressed in black, and could have been a businesswoman."

Again, play close attention here. "We were nearest the bomb." An Asian guy, a white guy, two old ladies, and a blond businesswoman......and two dancers.

So.....if the bomb was in a bag carried on by the terrorist, how could two dancers be "nearest the bomb"? And why didn't the person who was the closest eyewitness see the bomber, or even ANYONE, sitting where the bomb went off? Why was the metal pushed upwards if the bomb was inside of the train carriage?

Let's put this in perspective, piece by piece:

"The metal was pushed upwards as if the bomb was underneath the train."

"I don't remember anybody being where the bomb was, or any bag."

"We were nearest the bomb."

An Asian guy, a white guy, two old ladies, and a blond businesswoman......and two dancers.

Here we go again. Another terrorist event with more questions than answers, questions that the major media (yet again) aren't even asking.

Hell, I'll even take a stab at answering them:

The metal was pushed upwards because THE BOMB WAS UNDERNEATH THE TRAIN.

Lait didn't remember seeing anyone, or a bag that could be holding a bomb, near the point of detonation because there was no bomber sitting there, there was no bag. THE BOMB WAS UNDERNEATH THE TRAIN.

An Asian guy, a white guy, two old ladies, and a blond businesswoman......and two dancers. There was no Islamic radical, no Mideastern terrorist sitting in that carriage. THE BOMB WAS UNDERNEATH THE TRAIN.

Dance partners Bruce Lait and Crystal Main were nearest the bomb.....again, no Islamic radical, no Mideastern terrorist sitting in that carriage. THE BOMB WAS UNDERNEATH THE TRAIN.

We were praised by some, and criticized by others, for posting an article by Jeff Buckley (entitled "London Calling") the day after the first London bombings two weeks ago that questioned the motives behind the bombings, and that asked readers to view the inevitable "official government response" with a healthy grain of skepticism.

Here's how Jeff so aptly put it:

"So, when you see the headlines dominated by this story and the mounting evidence of lies, deception, and treason being forever pushed to the back burner, be sure to ask yourself, 'Who benefits from this?' Before you throw your support behind administrations that only have doublespeak, deceit, and death to show for their efforts, be sure to ask yourself, 'Who benefits from this?' And, before you allow yourself to be steamrolled and swept away by the inevitable surge of jingoistic retaliatory euphoria, be sure to ask yourself, 'Who benefits from this?'"

"Who benefits from this?"

So here we are, barely two weeks (and another "symbolic" bombing episode) later, and the voices of the Far Right are busy spinning this as yet another excuse for the war in Iraq.....even though the suspected terrorists are Pakistanis. (Sound familiar? The 9/11 terrorists were mostly from Saudi Arabia, so...."Let's bomb Iraq!")

"Who benefits from this?"

Here we are barely two weeks later, and the disciples of doublespeak are busy blaming a group of suicide bombers with carry-on bags, even though those who died are the most unlikely group of "suicide bombers" ever to commit an act of terrorism.

"Who benefits from this?"

Here we are barely two weeks later, and Bush and Company is using the London bombings to.....successfully.....push through the renewal of the Patriot Act. "Screw the Constitution, they're bombing us!"

The official spinmeisters are either ignoring the signs that something is just not right here, or dismissing those of us who are questioning the official response as the usual bunch of fringe conspiracy theorists.

Well guess what? If we don't keep asking the hard questions, and demanding honest, straightforward answers to those questions, then no one will. They've deceived us a million times before, and if honest Americans....and Englanders....don't continue to hold our public officials accountable for their actions and demand the truth, then they will continue to spoon feed us lie after lie after lie....until we eventually all suffocate under the weight of mass deception. And THAT'S the Faulking Truth.

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British boy wrongly labelled as London bomber

Dawn Monitor

AN INTERVIEW of a British teenager broadcast on a Pakistani television network has thrown into doubt investigators’ claims that all the three London bombers of Pakistani descent visited Pakistan last year. According to the investigators, the three bombers had died in the July 7 attacks.

But 16-year-old Hasib Hussain, a namesake of one of the putative bombers and of Pakistani descent, said in the interview that a photograph of a passport purporting to show bomber Hasib Hussain, 19, was his, and not that of the ‘bomber’.

The photo, together with documents showing that Hasib and two other bombers visited Pakistan last year, was published in newspapers on Monday.

“I first saw my photograph on Channel 4 [British TV network) and I was terrified,” Hasib Hussain, the teenager said in the interview with the ARY network on Thursday.

“I didn’t want people looking at me saying ‘hey, you are supposed to be dead’,” he said, “or someone saying that there goes the London bomber.”

On Monday, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said Hasib Hussain, carrying a British passport, had arrived in Karachi from Riyadh on July 15 last year.

The father of Hasib (the interviewee) said that the family had indeed visited Karachi last year.

He urged the British and Pakistani authorities to clear up the confusion.

An FIA official told the BBC: “We have nothing to say on the matter at this stage.” —BBC

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British Cops trained in Israel
Michel Chossudovsky | July 25 2005

"Operation Kratos": London Met Police Special Operations Unit "Shoot to Kill"

The cold blooded murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, in the Stockwell underground was no accident. London Metropolitan Police had approved a policy of "shoot to kill":

"a controversial tactic deployed only in the most extreme circumstances but one police have been preparing to use for the last two weeks.".

The shoot to kill policy was undertaken under the auspices of "Operation Kratos", named after the mythical Spartan hero. It was carried out by the London Metropolitan's elite SO19 firearms unit often referred to as the Blue Berets. The latter are described as the equivalent to the US SWAT teams, yet in this particular case, they were not wearing uniforms.


The training of the S019 marksmen was patterned on that of Israel. They had been briefed "by officers who had been to Israel to meet their counterparts there and pick up tips gleaned from the experience of dealing with Hamas bombers".

"During the Kratos briefings, the Met team were told that, contrary to their normal arms training, they should fire at the head rather than the chest. Although the chest is easier to hit, it is not as reliable in causing instant death, giving a bomber a chance to detonate his device.... "(The Scottish Daily Record, 23 July, 2005).

The "Israeli counterparts" refers to Israel's National Police (INP), Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) and Israel's Ministry of Internal Security. But the police antiterrorist operations conducted by the INP against Hamas and Islamic Jihad are carried out in close coordination with the Military (Israeli Defense Force) and Mossad. Israel has also collaborated in the training of members of the FBI and the LAPD. Top law enforcement officers of the FBI were trained in Israel under a program sponsored by the The Jewish Institute for National Security.

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Met chief warns more could be shot
Rosie Cowan, Vikram Dodd and Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday July 25, 2005
The Guardian

Britain's most senior policeman remained defiant last night over the new "shoot-to-kill" policy for dealing with suspected suicide bombers, despite the killing last week of an innocent man by armed officers.

Sir Ian Blair, the Scotland Yard commissioner, apologised to the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the 27-year-old Brazilian who died after being shot five times in the head at close range by police on board a tube train at Stockwell, south London, on Friday.

But he admitted more people could die at the hands of police marksmen in the escalating battle against terrorism. Openly discussing the shift in police tactics for the first time, Sir Ian defended the policy of "shoot to kill in order to protect", saying it was necessary to shoot suspects in the head if it was feared they might trigger devices on their body.

"The Metropolitan police accepts full responsibility for this," he said. "To the family I can only express my deep regrets. What we have got to recognise is that people are taking incredibly fast-moving decisions in life threatening situations. There is no point in shooting in someone's chest because that is where the bomb is likely to be. There is no point in shooting anywhere else if they fall down and detonate it. The only way to deal with this is to shoot to the head."

The block of flats in Tulse Hill, south London, where Mr Mr De Menezes lived, was under surveillance following the discovery of its address in a rucksack containing one of four bombs which failed to explode in the capital last Thursday.

He was followed for several miles by undercover officers. According to eyewitnesses, he bolted after being confronted by armed officers at the tube station, resulting in a chase and him being shot on the train. Mr De Menezes' family branded the police "stupid and incompetent", insisting they had no reason to suspect him.

Alex Pereira, his cousin, said: "He was 100% good guy who never did anything wrong and had no reason to run. What the police have shown is that they are incapable and stupid." [...]

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Britian Says Man Killed by Police Had No Tie to Bombings
July 24, 2005
By ALAN COWELL

LONDON, July 23 - Scotland Yard admitted Saturday that a man police officers chased and shot to death at point-blank range in front of horrified subway passengers on Friday had nothing to do with the investigation into the bombing attacks here.

Senior investigators and officials of the Metropolitan Police said the man was believed to be South American; it was not known whether he was Muslim. No explosives or weapons were found on the man's body after the shooting, police officials said.

The incident sent shock waves through the country's 1.6 million Muslims, already alarmed by a publicly acknowledged shoot-to-kill policy directed against suspected suicide bombers. And it has dealt a major setback to the police investigation into suspected terrorist cells in London.

"This really is an appalling set of circumstances," said John O'Connor, a former police commander. "The consequences are quite horrible."

Azzam Tamimi, head of the Muslim Association of Britain, said: "This is very frightening. People will be afraid to walk the streets, or go on the tube, or carry anything in their hands."

The admission by the police that it had killed a man not involved in the investigation revived and fueled an already tense debate over the arming of British police officers. It also came after a series of police misstatements since July 7, when four bombing attacks on three subway trains and a double-decker bus in London killed 56 people, including the four suicide bombers, and injured hundreds of others.

On Thursday, four more attackers attempted to bomb three other subway trains and a bus, but their bombs failed to explode. On Friday, plainclothes police officers staking out an apartment followed a man who emerged from it, then chased him into the Stockwell subway station and onto a train. The man tripped and the police officers in pursuit fired five rounds at point-blank range.

After the shooting, Sir Ian Blair, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said, "The information I have available is that this shooting is directly linked to the ongoing and expanding anti-terrorist operation."

The police then issued images taken from closed circuit television cameras of four men suspected of carrying out the failed attacks on Thursday and said that, while the man they shot may not have been one of the men in the photographs, he was still being sought as part of their investigation. "The man shot at Stockwell station is still subject to formal identification and it is not yet clear whether he is one of the four people we are seeking to identify and whose pictures have been released today," a statement said Friday.

"Nevertheless the man who was shot was under police observation because he had emerged from a house that was itself under observation because it was linked to the investigation of yesterday's incidents." the Friday statement said.

"He was then followed by surveillance officers to the station. His clothing and his behavior at the station added to their suspicions," the statement added, apparently referring to reports that the man was wearing bulky jacket on a summer day.

Throughout Saturday, the police refused to give any further details. Then, in the late afternoon, Scotland Yard issued a statement contradicting the earlier police comments.

"We believe we know the identity of the man shot at Stockwell Underground station by police, although he is still subject to formal identification," the new statement said. "We are now satisfied that he was not connected with the incidents of Thursday, 21st July."

Comment: Notice this bureaucratic language! "We're satisfied that was not connected"! And the man's parents? His family? Are they "satisfied" that their son was gunned down by mistake in order to make Britons "free"?!

The statement repeated that the man had been seen emerging from an apartment house under police surveillance and had been followed by officers.

"For somebody to lose their life in such circumstances is a tragedy and one that the Metropolitan Police Service regrets," the statement said. It said the police had started a formal inquiry.

So far in the investigation, the police have detained two suspects. It was not clear whether those men were among the four caught on security cameras.

Laudemar Aguyar, press officer for the Brazilian Embassy in London, said Saturday night that he had been in touch with Scotland Yard about the slain man's identity after receiving "a large number of inquiries" from reporters, both in the British and the Brazilian press.

Asked if Prime Minister Tony Blair would address the issue, a spokeswoman at 10 Downing Street who spoke under civil service anonymity rules said Mr. Blair was "kept updated on all developments, but this is a matter for the Metropolitan Police. We have nothing to add." Prime Minister Blair was spending the weekend at his country residence, Chequers.

But with the nation tense and jittery after the repeat attacks and the shooting itself, Mr. Blair was expected to confront political passions likely to be inflamed by what his critics are depicting as excesses of a war on terrorism.

"This policy is another overreaction of the government and police," said Ajmal Masroor, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Britain.

Adding to the tensions, both the government and the police have sought the support of British Muslims to assist in the inquiry.

"This will turn people against the police, and this is not good," said Mr. Tamimi, of the Muslim Association. "We want that people stay beside the police. We need to convince the people to cooperate, but for this, the police have to come out with clear information and new plans."

Civil rights groups also seemed likely to demand new curbs on the police at precisely the moment officers have been given far more of a free hand to pursue the investigation into the bombings.

"No one should rush to judgment in any case of this kind, especially at a time of heightened tension," said Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, a civil and human rights group, calling for a "comprehensive and independent investigation" into the events.

She acknowledged, however, that officers faced "knife-edged, split-second decisions often made in times of great danger."

The Friday shooting itself was all the more shocking because it happened in full view of passengers aboard a stationary subway train at Stockwell station. Mark Whitby, a witness, said three men pursued another man into the car, and one man with a handgun fired five times.

In a country used to unarmed police officers, the shooting seemed to be a stark turning point - one that seemed even more portentous after the police admission on Saturday.

The killing revived a never-resolved debate among the public and the police over the arming of officers. In one recent case, officers faced trial after shooting a man carrying a wooden table leg in the mistaken belief that he was armed.

Some police officers authorized to carry weapons now say they prefer not to because of the risk of prosecution if they make mistakes.

Normally British police officers are under orders to give ample warming and, if they have no choice but to open fire, to aim to wound. However, according to London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, that has given way to a shoot-to-kill policy in some circumstances.

"If you are dealing with someone who might be a suicide bomber, if they remain conscious they could trigger plastic explosives or whatever device is on them. And therefore overwhelmingly in these circumstances it is going to be a shoot-to-kill policy," he said after the shooting Friday, but before the acknowledgement by the police that the dead man was not part of the investigation. Police guidelines for dealing with suspected suicide bombers recommend shooting at the head rather than the body in case the suspect is carrying explosives.

Except in Northern Ireland, at airports and nuclear facilities, British police officers are not routinely armed. A small percentage of officers - roughly 7 percent in London - have weapons training, which is also required for the use of Taser stun guns, available to nearly all police forces. As routine weapons, officers carry a baton and a tear-gas-like spray. Of more than 30,000 officers in London, around 2,000 are authorized to carry weapons, a Scotland Yard spokesman said, speaking anonymously under police rules.

Even before Saturday's police statement, Britons had been bracing to see how their vaunted sense of fair play and civil rights survives the onslaught by attackers and the measures to combat it.

"Many civil liberties will have to be infringed to impose the requirement on all communities, including Britain's Muslims, to destroy the terrorists before they destroy us," the author Tom Bower wrote in The Daily Mail on Saturday.

The country's Muslim minority has expressed vulnerability to a backlash since it was announced that the July 7 bombers were all Muslims, three of them British-born descendants of Pakistani immigrants in the northern city of Leeds. Groups linked to Al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for both sets of attacks.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission said it feared that "innocent people may lose their lives due to the new shoot-to-kill policy of the Metropolitan Police."

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "While we accept that the police are under tremendous pressure to apprehend the criminals who are attempting to cause carnage on the streets of London, it is absolutely vital that utmost care is taken to ensure that innocent people are not killed due to overzealousness."

A survey taken among British Muslims in The Daily Telegraph before the police statement on Saturday found that 6 percent thought the July 7 attacks were justified, while 24 percent sympathized with the motives of the bombers.

The rash of attacks, incidents, alarms and arrests has rocked a city that, even during the days of I.R.A. attacks was used to being warned in advance about bombings. Indeed, after several years of an I.R.A. truce in mainland Britain, the howl of police sirens, the popping of gunfire and the thud of explosives has ended a mood of complacency underpinned by Britain's relative prosperity.

Just three weeks ago, London's Hyde Park filled with 200,000 people for the celebrity-studded concert "Live 8" concert in support of Africa's poor. And the city's spirits soared when London won the contest to host the 2012 Olympic games.

Now, after the bombings on July 7, the attempts on July 21, and the shooting incident, the city seems far less sure of itself.

"The realization that the events of July 7 were not an isolated conspiracy has changed the way that we travel on the city's public transport system, probably forever," Damian Whitworth wrote in The Times of London, recounting how "suspicion, fear and panic spread like a virus" through the subways.

In The Guardian, Ros Coward wrote, "Yesterday's event was another in a series that is transforming Londoners' familiar home patches into alien, unfamiliar territory."

"There seems to be a state of denial about the pervasive sense of fear that exists in London at the moment," The Independent said.

At the same time, British authorities are facing unusually frank criticism from officials and leaders of some Muslim states about their tolerance of radical Islamist clerics and others on their soil.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador, said in a radio interview on Friday that it was a "true criticism" to say Britain had offered sanctuary too easily. "Allowing them to go on using the hospitality and the generosity of the British people to emanate from here such calls for killing and such I think is wrong."

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan also noted that some Islamis groups banned in Pakistan "operate with impunity" in Britain.

Don Van Natta Jr., Stephen Grey, Souad Mekhennet and Hélène Fouquet reported from London for this article, and William K. Rashbaum from New York.

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7/21 "Bombers" Caught on Camera
The Guardian
July 22 2005

Police have released CCTV images of four men they "urgently need to trace" in connection with yesterday's failed bombings on three tube trains and a bus in London.

Image 1: Oval tube station
The first photograph shows a young man apparently fleeing after leaving a bomb at Oval tube station. He is wearing a dark top with the slogan New York and a zip near the neckline. The sleeves are rolled up to his elbows and he has a dark T-shirt underneath. The man, who has a shaven head or very short hair, is wearing pale baggy trousers and dark footwear as he makes his way along an underground station passageway. The image was taken at 12.34pm on July 21 and police believe he travelled northbound from Stockwell to the Oval. The top was later found in Cowley Road, Brixton, south London.

Image 2: No 26 bus, Hackney
The second photograph shows a middle-aged man with a moustache and wearing a grey T-shirt with a palm tree on it, standing on the top deck of the No 26 bus. He is also wearing a white baseball cap and a dark jacket and trousers. The image is timed at 12.53 - 37 minutes before the bus driver reports hearing a bang followed by a smell of smoke coming from the upper deck. He got off the bus at Hackney Road at about 1.06pm.

Image 3: Westbourne Park tube station
The third photograph shows a man leaving Westbourne Park underground station at about 12.39pm on July 21. He is wearing a dark shirt, which appears to be dark blue and has at least three buttons undone from the neck down. Underneath he is wearing another top. He has short cropped hair, a slightly receding hairline and what looks like a beard and moustache. Police said he had travelled northbound on the Victoria Line.

Image 4: Warren Street tube station
The photograph of the fourth suspect showed a man at Warren Street underground at 12.21pm on July 21. He was wearing a dark shirt and trousers. Police believe he ran from the station.

Comment: A QFS member comments:

Just woke up to face another day of global nonsense.

First thing I've taken a look at is the four photo releases of the alleged terrorists on the run, and captured by cctv.

Whats wrong about these photos to me,is that these pictures show nobody else in the photograph,meaning there is no one else around.

This is London where talking about here, I used to live there. There are people everywhere.

Not on these photos.

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85% BLAME BOMBS ON WAR IN IRAQ
25 July 2005
By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent

AN overwhelming 85 per cent of people blame the Iraq invasion for the London bombings, a Daily Mirror/GMTV poll reveals today.

The survey is a hammer blow to Tony Blair, who insists Britain's role in the war had nothing to do with the 7/7 terror attacks.

His words were greeted with incredulity by critics who are convinced Muslim anger on Iraq has fuelled Islamic extremism. And now that view has been borne out by our YouGov poll

In all, 23 per cent said the war was the main reason for the London bombings. Another 62 per cent believe that while Iraq was not the principle cause, it did contribute to the reasons behind the atrocities.

Just 12 per cent said there was no real link. Yet the Prime Minister said after the most recent incidents: "The people who are responsible for terrorist attacks are the terrorists."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Defence Secretary John Reid have also rejected any connection between Iraq and the terror strikes.

Their denials came despite a leaked report from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre which said: "Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of terrorist-related activity in the UK."

The respected think-tank Chatham House also contradicted Mr Blair, stating: "The situation over Iraq has imposed particular difficulties for the UK. It gives a boost to the al-Qaeda network's propaganda, recruitment and fund-raising."

The poll also reveals the public's view that MPs and politicians should postpone holidays while the four failed bombers remain at large.

Last Thursday, as four men tried and failed to wreak havoc at the Oval, Shepherd's Bush, Warren Street and on the No26 bus, MPs quit Westminster for an 80-day holiday.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke finally agreed yesterday to delay his break. Downing Street will not comment on the PM's plans.

Our poll shows that 65 per cent believe MPs should remain at their posts, rising to 70 and 71 per cent for Mr Blair and Mr Clarke.

Despite the tragic blunder at Stockwell station when innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead, public support for the police remains high. Seven out of 10 back the shoot-to-kill policy. A similar number say they trust the police and security services to stop future terror attacks. A majority, 71 per cent, believe there is nothing more police could have done to stop the bombings

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Bomb Scare Empties NYC's Penn Station
The Associated Press
Sunday, July 24, 2005; 10:07 PM

NEW YORK -- A bomb scare emptied the nation's busiest commuter rail station Sunday for about an hour, disrupting service on trains and subways.

The midday threat at Pennsylvania Station arose after someone threw a backpack at an Amtrak ticket agent and said it was a bomb, said Marissa Baldeo, a spokeswoman for New York City Transit.

It was a false alarm, and service on all lines was restored by early afternoon.

Amtrak spokeswoman Sarah Swain said railroad police had detained a man, but she did not know whether he had been arrested.

The incident came days after a second bombing attack in London, which prompted New York police to start random inspections of subway riders' bags.

Travelers seemed to take the disruption in stride.

Tim Allen, a Londoner headed from New York to Boston, said he endured similar false alarms at home recently. "This is the second time this has happened in two-and-a-half weeks to me," he said.

The service disruption affected Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and some New York subway lines.

Also Sunday, a double-decker tourist bus was evacuated in midtown Manhattan after a bus company supervisor became suspicious of five male passengers with "stuffed" pockets. The supervisor called police, who handcuffed the men and searched about 60 passengers before determining there was no threat.

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Pressure on U.S. to Use More Surveillance
By ROBERT TANNER
Jul 23, 1:38 PM (ET)

NEW YORK - Pressure is building for greater use of video cameras to keep watch over the nation's cities - particularly in transportation systems and other spots vulnerable to terrorism - after the bombings in London.

The calls have come over the last few weeks as British investigators released surveillance footage of the bombers in the deadly July 7 attacks and then put out frames of suspects in Thursday's failed attacks.

"I do not think that cameras are the big mortal threat to civil liberties that people are painting them to be," Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony A. Williams said Friday.

He's not alone. While privacy advocates question their effectiveness, Sen. Hillary Clinton called for New York City subway officials to install more cameras, even though officials said some 5,000 cameras are already in use across all modes of city travel. In Stamford, Conn., Mayor Dan Malloy said it's time to revisit a 1999 ordinance that limited cameras to watching traffic.

In many other spots around the country, cameras already are in place.

"In general, I think we're getting used to cameras. Hey, that's just the way the world is," said Roy Bordes, who runs an Orlando, Fla.-based security design consultant firm.

Consider these recent developments:

- Chicago now has at least 2,000 surveillance cameras across its neighborhoods, after leaders last year launched an ambitious project at a cost of roughly $5 million. Law enforcement says they've helped drive crime rates to the lowest they've seen in 40 years.

- In Philadelphia, where the city has increasingly relied on video surveillance, cameras caught an early morning murder which ultimately led to the capture of a suspect. Police say the accused is now a suspect in an unsolved murder from 1998.

- Homeland Security officials last week announced they would install hundreds of surveillance cameras and sensors on a rail line near the Capitol at a cost of $9.8 million, months after an effort by local officials to ban hazardous shipments on the line.

In most cases prior to the last few years, street crime - not terrorism - was the driving factor behind the cameras. There has also been a boom in traffic-monitoring cameras, and huge reliance on surveillance cameras in private business, especially in retail establishments like convenience and department stores.

Security experts say that technology hasn't yet caught up with hopes for the equipment, however.

They point out that despite London's huge network of cameras, the bombings weren't prevented. In those two cases, the cameras have only helped in the investigations.

One significant weakness is that the images caught by camera can't automatically link to a list of known terrorist suspects - not that that would have helped in London, as men identified as bombers weren't on any watch lists.

"I haven't heard of anything being successful that allows us to prevent something by flashing up on a screen somewhere a positive identification of someone on a terrorist database," said Jack Lichtenstein with ASIS international, a Washington-based organization of security officials. Still, "that's where we're headed," he said.

Privacy advocates say the London bombings should persuade policymakers to stay away from surveillance rather than invest in it. It doesn't prevent terrorism, and at best only encourages terrorists to shift their target, they argue.

"Let's say we put cameras on all the subways in New York City, and terrorists bomb movie theaters instead. Then it's a total waste of money," said Bruce Schneier, author of "Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World."

It's not much more likely to catch a terrorist than the random searches that New York officials have begun conducting on subways, he said. Better to spend money on intelligence resources to prevent attacks and emergency training to respond to them, he said.

But in Stamford, Conn., a city on a train line that runs to New York, Mayor Malloy said potential targets like trains, hospitals and water reservoirs should all be monitored, with regulations to guard against snooping on private homes, parks and other unlikely targets.

Comment: Why stop with video surveillance of only trains, hospitals, and water reservoirs? Heck, let's let the government put cameras in every room in our homes! After all, if you aren't a terrorist, you have nothing to hide - right?

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Isn’t it time we accepted the truth about Bush?
By Sylvester Brown
Of the Post-Dispatch
07/21/2005

BACK IN THE EARLY 1980s, comedian Richard Pryor used to tell a story about a woman, so in love with her man, she tolerates his obvious indiscretions. Once, after catching her beloved in bed with another woman, Pryor told how the man persuaded the woman he did nothing wrong.

“Who you gonna believe — me or your lying eyes?” the man asked.

While listening to the comedy routine recently, I finally figured out why President George W. Bush has managed to deflect scrutiny and backlash for his actions. Most Americans, it seems, look upon Bush like starry-eyed lovers. No matter what he’s done or what’s happened on his watch, most refuse to see their “man’s” reckless behavior for what it is.

I have to give Bush credit for mastering the “Who you gonna believe ...” posture.

“I won the election fair and square,” he argued back in 2000, dismissing charges of voter manipulation in the state governed by his younger brother.

Forget the flimflam, sleight-of-hand, word manipulation Bush used to justify invading Iraq — a country he claimed possessed a cache of nuclear and chemical weapons. It wasn’t about WMDs, he later told us with a straight face. We’re fighting for more democratic, nobler causes.

And what about those “secret memos” that were all the buzz in Europe? Weeks ago a London newspaper said the notes demonstrated that Bush and his British ally, Tony Blair, “manufactured” a crisis to push for war in Iraq.

Memos, schlemos. Bush simply pretended the allegations in the memos were old and irrelevant news.

The American media took his cue and relegated the secret memo affair to the back pages or ignored it altogether.

A news story about a politician who vengefully jeopardized the life of a government agent — now that’s juicy stuff. Surely such a story, even if remotely true, would signal the end of any political career.

Not Bush’s. Apparently, his love affair with the American public far outweighs dangerous indiscretions. And, believe me, this case has plenty of damaging indiscretions.

Bush’s top political adviser revealed the identity of a CIA agent to a reporter. The vice president’s chief of staff confirmed it. The agent happened to be married to the same diplomat who debunked Bush’s claim that Iraq tried to purchase nuclear materials from Africa.

One reporter, Judith Miller, is in jail for refusing to reveal her sources. Another, Matthew Cooper, avoided prison when his employers gave his notes to prosecutors. The two sources identified by Cooper, political adviser Karl Rove and staff member Lewis “Scooter” Libby, are still working at the White House.

Shouldn’t we have more of a problem with this? We Americans screamed louder about a stained dress than we have about this national security mess. Where’s the call for congressional investigations and impeachment hearings?

Of course, the president will use every trick in the smooth-talking handbook to dissuade us from believing our “lying eyes.” He’ll probably tell us to “stay the course” and beat back the partisan smear campaigns of the “liberal media.”

Most of us starry-eyed Americans will buy every morsel of it, too. We’ve invested too much in this relationship to start asking difficult questions now.

But there comes a time when enough is enough. Some polls show the love affair with Bush may be wearing thin. A new poll from the Pew Research Center indicates Bush’s ratings for “trustworthiness and leadership” have declined significantly since 2003. And a Wall Street Journal and NBC News poll showed that 45 percent of the respondents gave Bush low marks for “honesty and straightforwardness.”

Even the most gullible fool for love wakes up, eventually. Some are beginning to believe their “lying eyes.”

Comment: And so it becomes a race between people catching up to what they actually perceive yet repress and the mounting campaign of fear on the part of the real global terrorists in Washington, London, and Tel Aviv. The more questions that are asked, the more bombings will go off to take our attnetion off the lies. As Justin Raimondo pointed out above, they have plans for how to respond to the next 9/11 event: nuke the hell out of Iran.

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Signs Economic Commentary

Donald Hunt
July 25, 2005

The dollar closed at 0.8293 on Friday, down 0.2% from last Friday’s close of 0.8308.  That put a euro at 1.2058 dollars, compared to 1.2036 dollars a week earlier. Oil closed at 58.65 dollars a barrel, up a percent from $58.09 the previous Friday.  In euros, oil would be 48.64 a barrel, up 0.8% from last week’s 48.26 close. Gold closed at 425.40 dollars an ounce, up 0.9% from $421.70  a week earlier. In terms of euros, that put an ounce of gold at 352.79 euros, up 0.7% from last week’s 350.37. The gold/oil ratio closed at 7.25 barrels of oil to an ounce of gold, down 0.14% compared to 7.26 on the previous Friday. In the U.S. stock market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10,651.18, up 0.1% from 10,640.83 a week earlier. The NASDAQ closed at 2,179.74, up 1% from the previous Friday’s close of 2,156.78. The yield on the ten-year U.S. Treasury bond closed at 4.22 percent, up five basis points from 4.17 a week earlier.

The big news economically last week was the announcement by the Chinese government that they will remove the dollar peg from their currency and peg it instead to a basket of currencies.  While it is too early to say what the consequences of this universally anticipated move will be, most observers think that it will lead to a weakening in the dollar and a rise in U.S. interest rates and inflation.  The question is when and how bad. Here’s Paul Krugman:

By Paul Krugman

Thursday's statement from the People's Bank of China, announcing that the yuan is no longer pegged to the dollar, was terse and uninformative - you might say inscrutable. There's a good chance that this is simply a piece of theater designed to buy a few months' respite from protectionist pressures in the U.S. Congress.

Nonetheless, it could be the start of a process that will turn the world economy upside down - or, more accurately, right side up. That is, the free ride China has been giving America, in which the world's richest economy has been getting cheap loans from a country that is dynamic but still quite poor, may be coming to an end. It's all about which way the capital is flowing. Capital usually flows from mature, developed economies to less-developed economies on their way up. For example, a lot of America's growth in the 19th century was financed by investors from Britain, which was already industrialized. A decade ago, before the world financial crisis of 1997-1998, capital movements seemed to fit the historic pattern, as funds flowed from Japan and Western nations to "emerging markets" in Asia and Latin America. But these days things are running in reverse: capital is flowing out of emerging markets, especially China, and into the United States. This uphill flow isn't the result of private-sector decisions; it's the result of official policy. To keep China's currency from rising, the Chinese government has been buying up huge quantities of dollars and investing the proceeds in U.S. bonds. One way to grasp how weird this policy is would be to think about what a comparable policy would look like in the United States, scaled up to match the size of our economy. It's as if last year the U.S. government invested $1 trillion of taxpayers' money in low-interest Japanese bonds, and this year looks set to invest an additional $1.5 trillion the same way.

…The question is what happens to us if the Chinese finally decide to stop acting so strangely. An end to China's dollar-buying spree would lead to a sharp rise in the value of the yuan. It would probably also lead to a sharp fall in the value of the dollar relative to other major currencies, like the yen and the euro, which the Chinese haven't been buying on the same scale. This would help U.S. manufacturers by raising their competitors' costs. But if the Chinese stopped buying all those U.S. bonds, interest rates would rise. This would be bad news for housing - maybe very bad news, if the interest rate rise burst the bubble. In the long run, the economic effects of an end to China's dollar buying would even out. America would have more industrial workers and fewer real estate agents, more jobs in Michigan and fewer in Florida, leaving the overall level of employment pretty much unaffected. But as John Maynard Keynes pointed out, in the long run we are all dead. In the short run, some people would win, but others would lose. And I suspect that the losers would greatly outnumber the winners. And what about the strategic effects? Right now America is a superpower living on credit - something I don't think has happened since Philip II ruled Spain. What will happen to our stature if and when China takes away our credit card?

This story is still in its early days. On the first day of the new policy, the yuan rose only 2 percent, not enough to make any noticeable difference. But one of these days Chinese dollar purchases will trail off, and we'll find ourselves living in interesting times.

Politically the week also saw the visit of the Indian prime minister to Washington, leading to the announcement of a deal for the United States to help India develop peaceful nuclear energy capabilities, a move widely seen as a move by the United States to increase the prominence of India in the world, to strengthen the new alliance between the United States and India and to promote India as a counterweight to China in the world. Here’s Keith Jones http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/jul2005/ind-j22.shtml:

In a joint statement Monday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush proclaimed “their resolve to transform the relationship between their countries” into a “global partnership.” For several years now, Indian and US officials have been speaking of an Indo-US “strategic partnership,” including increased economic, scientific, technical and military ties. That this partnership has suddenly taken on global dimensions, with Bush and Singh touting it as a means to “promote stability, democracy, prosperity and peace throughout the world,” points to the rapidly shifting world geo-political and economic landscape. The Bush administration is anxious to court India, hoping that through increased Indo-US economic, geo-political and military linkages, India can be transformed into a viable counterweight to China and one malleable to US objectives and pressure. Buoyed by India’s emergence as a major center for outsourced business processing, research and manufacturing operations and the country’s growing military prowess, India’s economic and political elite is eager, meanwhile, to lay claim to world-power status, including a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

One can imagine the discussions in Washington: “Let’s have an alliance of Christians, Jews and Hindus against the Moslems!”  This begs the question:  Which way will the Confucians turn?  To complicate matters in Asia, India has also been repairing relations with China, relations which used to be cool, to say the least.  During the Cold War, U.S.-India relations were also cool, but that has been changing since the 1990s.  Keith Jones again:

With the end of the Cold War and the growing crisis in India’s economy created by its relative isolation from the resources of world economy, the Indian bourgeoisie has since 1991 pursued a radically different strategy, aimed at soliciting foreign investment so as to make India a cheap-labor haven for world capital. The dismantling of the traditional nationally regulated economy and accompanying assault on the limited concessions made to the working class and oppressed masses in the first decades after independence has been accompanied by a major shift in India’s foreign policy. The US has emerged as India’s single largest trading partner and foreign investor and increasingly New Delhi and Washington have developed a gamut of ties, including joint military exercises.

The US for its part has increasingly embraced India as an ally. Already under the Clinton administration there was a major change in the US attitude towards South Asia, with Washington tilting away from Pakistan and toward India. Because of its apprehensions about the growing power of China, the Bush administration from the time it came to office in 2001 sought to place relations with India on a new plane. The US decision to invade Afghanistan and subsequent revival of Washington’s close relations with Pakistan, especially the Pakistani military, complicated the Bush administration efforts to draw India into a “strategic partnership.” But leading figures in the administration have indicated—as exemplified by Rice’s offer of help in making India a “world power”—that the pursuit of a partnership with India is central to its world geo-political strategy. In May, the number three man in the State Department hierarchy, Nicholas Burns, the Undersecretary for Political Affairs, said of US-Indian relations, “I think you’ll see this as a major focus of our president and our secretary of state, and it will be the area of greatest dynamic change in American foreign policy.”

India’s economy has been developing exremely fast since it’s decision to align with the United States. Economically what does the United States get from India? Cheap engineering labor for its corporations which strengthens U.S. corporate competitiveness and weakens U.S. labor power.  But that can’t go too far without provoking a backlash as well as too much domestic economic weakness (the corporate elite seem to want the “just right” amount of domestic economic weakness for the time being).  What India can do for the United States labor market (and for its strategic interests as well) is purchase advanced weaponry (whose manufacturing plants cannot be off-shored, for obvious reasons).

However, the most important feature of this week’s joint statement was an agreement between Washington and New Delhi that has as its aim the removal of the international ban on sales of civilian nuclear technology and fuel to India that has been imposed since 1974, when India first exploded a nuclear device.

The Bush administration stopped short of recognizing India, which officially proclaimed itself a nuclear weapons state in 1998, as a state having the legal right to possess nuclear weapons (a violation of the terms of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty). But it has effectively announced that it favors India being accorded a special status in the international treaty and regulatory system governing nuclear technology—what the Bush-Singh statement calls a “responsible state with advanced nuclear technology”—so long as India agrees to certain restrictions and international oversight of its civilian nuclear program and the “other nuclear countries” and the US Congress agree. Indian government officials are proclaiming the statement a major advance. Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran boasted to a media briefing, “What has been achieved is recognition by the US that, for all practical purposes, India should have the same benefits and rights as a nuclear weapons state.”

India, which is heavily dependent on foreign oil, is eager to expand its nuclear power generation capacity and for this needs greater access to foreign nuclear technology and fuel. A second major consideration for both New Delhi and Washington is the fact that the sanctions imposed on India for being outside the international nuclear regulatory regime have included prohibitions on the sale of advanced US military equipment. The US-based intelligence report Stratfor says official Pentagon leaks have said India is poised to make up to $5 billion in purchases from US arms manufactures once the sanctions are lifted, including advanced anti-submarine and anti-missile technology to protect its Indian Ocean fleet.

The Bush administration has a double purpose in seeking to boost arms sales to India. Needless to say, it wants to boost the US arms industry, but it is also extremely anxious to render India dependent on US military technology.

In non-economic news the London Bombings remained the main story.  The political push given the war on terrorism by the London bombings may be a plus for Bush’s gang in the  short term, but the whole War on Terrorism will only highlight the precarious nature of the United States Empire: the dominant military power and the worlds greatest debtor nation.  Here is Marshall Auerback http://www.prudentbear.com/internationalperspective.asp:

For all of the good news emanating from the US recently, it is worth bearing in mind the huge ongoing financial strains the country continues to experience, as it seeks to confront the scourge of global terrorism.  

…Much has been made of the improvement sustained in the May trade figures.  But let’s keep this in context.  As William Greider, national affairs columnist for The Nation, noted: “The United States is heading for yet another record trade deficit in 2005, possibly 25 percent larger than last year's. Our economy's international debt position - accumulated from many years of tolerating larger and larger trade deficits - began compounding ferociously in the last five years. Our net foreign indebtedness is now more than 25 percent of gross domestic product and at the current pace will reach 50 percent in four or five years .”  

What about the fiscal position?  Last year, talk of rising `twin deficits' was widespread at the height of dollar pessimism. Markets generally tend to be less tolerant of external deficits when they are seen as being driven by the public sector.

However, in recent months the Federal deficit appears to be showing signs some dramatic improvement (a point that CEA head Ben Bernanke made last Wednesday). In the past three months, the 12 month running deficit has contracted by a $109bn to `just' $D335bn. In 3 month moving average terms, net tax receipts have risen a striking 21% year over year whilst net outlays have risen just a little over 6% year over year.  

On the other hand, it is worth considering this “improvement” in the context of the overall 2004 Financial Report of the United States Government (the full document being available as a PDF file at www.fms.treas.gov/fr/04frusg/04frusg.pdf). The table published in the Overall Perspective on page 11 shows an $11.1 trillion annual deterioration in the government's net worth. As an aside, it is worthwhile noting the GAO's auditor's letter as to why they will not certify the statements.  Explaining the discrepancy, financial analyst John Williams notes the following:  

“The government's GAAP-based accounting generally is as used by Corporate America. It includes accrual accounting for money not yet physically disbursed or received but that otherwise is committed. The largest differences come from the bookkeeping related to Social Security and Medicare, where year-to-year changes in the net present value (discounted for the time value of money) of any unfunded liabilities are counted. In contrast, traditional deficit accounting is on a cash basis. It counts the cash received from payroll taxes (social Security, etc.) as income, but it does not reflect any offsetting obligations to the Social Security system. 

For nearly four decades, officially sanctioned accounting gimmicks have masked federal deficit reality. Surpluses in trust accounts, such as Social Security, have been used to obscure the true shortfall in government spending. With less than one tenth of the actual deficit being reported each year, a cumulative negative net worth for the U.S. government has built up in stealth to a level that now tops $45 trillion, with total obligations of $47.3 trillion (more than four times annual GDP). The problem has moved beyond crisis to an uncontrollable disaster that threatens the existence of the U.S. dollar and global financial stability.”  

If increased revenues come as a consequence of increased debt growth, then this doesn’t really resolve the underlying problem.  Indeed, the most frightening thing about this long time build-up in debt is that it has largely occurred during a time of comparative political tranquillity…  But, as events over the first part of the new century have demonstrated, this comparatively peaceful interregnum is now over and the tab for the US has mounted accordingly.  

During Vietnam, the defence budget reached a peak of $439 billion (in inflation adjusted FY 2005 dollars).  This budget supported about 550,000 troops in Vietnam, but it also kept hundreds of thousands of other troops forward deployed in Europe, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Okinawa, and Guam; it funded a rotation in base in US to support these forward deployments, and funded hundreds of nuclear warheads on alert in missile silos, submarines at sea, and airplanes in the air. 

Now compare this commitment to that of Iraq: To support the war in  and Afghanistan, the United States will have a larger budget than at the peak Vietnam year, even if one removes the effects of inflation.  The FY 2005 budget is in excess of $500 billion (in comparable FY 2005 dollars), once one factors in the $80 billion supplemental recently appropriated for Iraq.  But America’s military is only about one-third the size of that fielded during Vietnam. 

Weapons are projected to age even faster than during the Clinton Administration as the Bush Administration contemplates more cutbacks in future production (e.g., Joint Strike Fighter).  US forces are clearly overstretched by a deployment of only 150,000 troops deployed to Iraq and about 15,000 deployed to Afghanistan as evidenced by the coercive personnel retention policies, such as the now notorious “stop-loss.”  Militarily, America's forces are stretched too thin in Iraq, and they are showing signs of getting bogged down in a self-protection mode much like the Turks did in WWI.

That is a startling analogy:  the Turks in World War I.  That war saw the end of the once powerful Ottoman Empire.  In the Paul Krugman column quoted above, he compares the U.S. empire to the Spanish Empire of Philip II.  If American elites are starting to make these analogies, the situation must be dire.

And while basic needs of the fighting troops are not being met in a war of choice -- armour plate being the most infamous, the courtiers at the Pentagon are merrily throwing money at all sorts of cold-war inspired weapons (e.g., new attack submarines, ballistic missile defence, the F-22 and Joint Strike Fighters, the V-22 Tilt Rotor, etc.) which cannot possibly alleviate the situation for American troops enmeshed in a real Fourth Generation War. 

That fact tells us that the people in charge of the war do not care about the people fighting it. They care only for the financial health of the corporations making money off the slaughter.

…Add to this, the near-guaranteed loss of much of what's left of the none-too-impressive "coalition" in Iraq in the next year -- the Italians have reiterated their intention to begin withdrawing their troops in September, the Poles have made similar noises, the Spanish are already out and even the British are planning a major drawdown relatively soon under the guise of redeploying in Afghanistan, hopefully to be replaced by the Australians.  Consequently, the Bush administration is soon likely to find itself, standing very much alone in its mission, with a major domestic and international recruitment crisis on its hands. 

According to The Guardian, the US military has stopped battalion commanders from dismissing new recruits for drug abuse, alcohol, poor fitness and pregnancy in an attempt to halt the rising attrition rate in an army under growing strain as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  What’s next, emptying the jails?

…Of course, the tragedy of the London bombings may well prove useful to Bush, by recasting him again as a “war President”, even though it is interesting to contrast the respective approaches adopted in London and Washington to their respective terrorist attacks.  The former seem far more inclined to treat this as a policing action, as opposed to a war (using the vocabulary of war, and the inflammatory “you’re either with us, or against us”, frankly co-opts tens of millions of Muslims into the camp of the west’s enemies, even though they might loathe some of the more odious leaders who head regimes in the Islamic world).  

But as Europe begins to seem a more possible epicenter for further terrorist attacks, this may well provide further underpinning to the dollar, even though the war itself is now one of the major sources of imperial overstretch, which will ultimately undermine the greenback.

These are all dollar bear points for the medium to longer term.  As we noted last week, the ongoing improvement in the Euroland data might point to a more immediate inflexion point in regard to the euro/dollar cross, as the markets begin to dismiss the notion of an imminent cut in the ECB discount rate.  Last week, it was Germany whose data consistently surprised to the upside (and continues to do so to judge from an unexpectedly strong measure of investor confidence in the latest ZEW survey, which rose to a 10-month high of 37 in July from 19.5 in June).  This week, it is France, where industrial production rose by 0.3% mom in May, posting the first increase in 4 months. Manufacturing production grew a more robust 0.5% mom; capital and intermediate goods were particularly strong. 

The OECD’s composite leading indicator also points to a broadening of global economic activity.  Soon to retire European Central Bank Chief Economist Otmar Issing has consistently iterated that the outlook for inflation in the dozen nations sharing the euro has deteriorated in the past month, suggesting the bank sees no scope to lower interest rates:  “The outlook for prices has clearly worsened since June,” when the ECB last revised its inflation forecasts, said Issing in a dinner speech in Frankfurt last Thursday. Rates are still “appropriate” and  “borrowing costs present no obstacle to growth in the euro region, rather quite the opposite,” said Issing.

So in many respects, the dollar’s current “success” on the foreign exchange markets appears to contain the seeds of its own destruction.  Improved revenues appear largely a product of debt financed activity, which in turn are generating revenue gains that are probably unsustainable in the longer run.  The strains of military overstretch is likely to exacerbate the problem and appear set to get worse as the “coalition of the willing” gradually becomes the “coalition” of the one.  The dollar’s strength, therefore, appears no more than a summer respite.  By the autumn, things may well look different to the forex markets again.

What makes the situation even more unstable is the breakdown of U.S. social structure with the polarization of society into extremes of rich and poor (or scared to death of becoming poor).  Joseph Kay reflects on the polarization shown by two stories on one page of the Wall Street Journal.

A tale of two classes

By Joseph Kay
20 July 2005

Sometimes the real character of social relations in the United States manages to find its way into pages of the American press. Such was the case in Tuesday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal. The front page of the newspaper’s Marketplace section featured two articles, which when combined give a sense of the class division that cuts across American society. In “Keeping Up is Hard to Do,” Kris Maher tells the story of Mark and Donna Bellini, a typical working class couple from Pennsylvania. The Bellinis, who have two teenage sons, have a combined income of about $60,000 a year, which is roughly the median annual income for married couples. Indeed, the Bellinis are in many ways a very typical American family. However, this does not by any means guarantee them a stable living, and the Bellinis live under constant financial strains and the burden of debt. Maher notes that over the past several years, Mark Bellini’s pay has stagnated: “Mr. Bellini, a 51-year-old line technician for Comcast Corp., hasn’t received a pay increase in three years, since 2002. His wages have been stuck at $19.10 an hour while overall consumer prices have risen 8%.” The cost of basic necessities, particularly food and gasoline, has risen at a higher rate, and gas prices alone have jumped 55 percent since 2002.

The case of Mr. Bellini highlights an important fact: despite all the talk of an economic recovery and a resumption of growth, the conditions faced by most workers, even those who have not been laid off, have grown progressively worse. “Despite an economy growing at roughly 4%, healthy corporate profits and low unemployment levels, annual wages of workers in nonmanagerial positions—representing about 80% of the US work force—rose 2.7% in June from a year ago,” Maher writes. These increases have been entirely wiped out by inflation. In the most recent period, real wages have actually fallen.

As a consequence, fewer workers are able to amass any significant savings or put money away for retirement. Instead, they have been forced deeper and deeper into debt. For the Bellinis, more worrisome than the different life changes they have had to make to cut back on costs is the fact that “the couple counts almost no savings, and they haven’t, as once planned, been able to start a college fund for their two teenage sons. ‘The sense of security is gone,’ Mrs. Bellini says.” In order to get by, both Donna and Mark work full-time jobs, with Donna recently increasing her weekly hours from 24 to 38, at $10 an hour. After income and payroll taxes, the couple takes home about $3,200 a month, all of which is consumed by various expenses — utilities, a mortgage, property taxes, food and insurance, gasoline, clothing and other costs. Their credit card debts amount to $6,000, or the equivalent of nearly two months of take-home pay. Like so many American families, the couple lives “from paycheck to paycheck.” As Maher writes, Mr. Bellini “admits he doesn’t have a single dollar in his wallet and won’t until he receives his paycheck two days later.”

What will happen if something unexpected happens—a layoff, a health problem or a car accident? When considering the problems faced by the Bellinis, one understands the sudden surge in bankruptcy filings in recent years.

How is it possible to prepare for the future—including college costs and retirement funds—when current pay just barely covers current costs? Like many workers, Mr. Bellini has been forced to take loans against his 401(k) retirement account in order to pay bills. This, combined with a declining stock market, means that the Bellinis have less than $60,000 saved for retirement, the equivalent of only one year of their current income.

On the same page of the newspaper, Carol Hymowitz entitles her column: “To Rein in CEOs’ Pay, Why Not Consider Outsourcing the Post?” She begins by pointing out that while corporations have done everything they can to cut labor costs, including the outsourcing of jobs to countries around the world, pay for American CEOs has continued to rise, reaching levels far in excess of pay for executives anywhere else.

CEO pay—including salaries, bonuses and stock options—at major corporations routinely reaches into the tens of millions of dollars, hundreds of times more than the average worker at these same companies.

These pay packages are often justified on the grounds that they are necessary to retain top-quality executives. “What is galling,” Hymowitz responds, “is how rarely, even in a time of heightened governance sensitivity, compensation is linked to performance. Newly named CEOs are guaranteed a trough of money before they’ve done any work. When they fail and are dismissed, they are handed even more money.”

…Carly Fiorina, who had no trouble with poverty while CEO of Hewlett-Packard, nevertheless really hit the jackpot when she got pushed out earlier this year. Hymowitz notes that her severance package is $14 million, plus a $7 million cash bonus and $23.4 million in stocks and a pension.

Former Morgan Stanley CEO Phil Purcell received a severance and retirement package valued at more than $100 million when he got kicked out. “Former [Morgan Stanley] Co-President Steve Crawford is walking away with two years of severance estimated at $32 million after 3½ months on that job,” Hymowitz writes. Purcell’s package amounts to nearly 2,000 times the amount of money the Bellinis have in their combined retirement accounts.

While Hymowitz points to these figures, she is at a complete loss to explain why something so irrational—such as the handing out of massive severance packages to failed CEOs—should be so prevalent. Reflecting the general bewilderment of the media establishment and a section of the ruling elite itself, she can only make an appeal at the end of her column for corporate boards that are more responsible.

In fact, the difficult situation of the Bellinis and the extreme wealth of the Purcells and the Fiorinas are inextricably linked. They are two facets of the same underlying process. On the one hand, the ruling elite in the US has responded to the crisis of American capitalism by furiously escalating attacks on workers, driving down wages, downsizing and outsourcing. On the other hand, under conditions in which the position of American manufacturing has plunged and profitable production has become more and more problematic, the corporate elite has increasingly resorted to outright theft.

When most people are struggling financially, when soldiers are sent to far away lands without the proper equipment, when the government is going broke and is rapidly becoming a failed state that cannot provide any of the basic functions to its citizens, what do you call it when failed CEO’s walk away with tens of millions of dollars in severance and moderately successful ones who sell their company to a larger predatory company walk away with hundreds of millions? It can only be described as massive theft, as plunder. The question to ask is why are they stealing so much now?  Are they trying to purchase survival from the coming cataclysm? Are they attempting a staged crash followed by a grabbing of all world assets for pennies on the dollar? Or is it just compulsive greed and self-delusion?

Perhaps a glance at the news today will help us arrive at some answers.

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Catholic dissent over mystery of the pregnant Madonnas

Italian author claims paintings are linked to suppression of Knights Templar

John Hooper in Rome
Saturday July 23, 2005
The Guardian

An Italian author has stirred controversy within the Roman Catholic church with a new theory linking one of the most intriguing traditions in western art to the suppression of the enigmatic Knights Templar.

A string of artists working from the middle of the 14th century near Florence painted the Virgin Mary as they imagined her to have been while she was pregnant. The best-known of these swelling Madonnas is by the great 15th century Tuscan artist Piero della Francesca. It shows an apparently dejected mother-to-be with one hand resting on the burgeoning front of her maternity gown.

Piero della Francesca's fresco, preserved in a cemetery chapel at Monterchi, near Arezzo, was not just the high point of the tradition. It virtually brought it to an end.

Carvings and sculptures of pregnant Marys have a longer history before and after the early Renaissance. But the painting of them by artists of stature is almost entirely confined to Tuscany in the 130 years ending around 1467, when Piero della Francesco is reckoned to have created the fresco at Monterchi.

In a 40-page booklet published last month, Renzo Manetti, a Florentine architect and author of several works on symbolism in art, argues that this is no coincidence.

"Florence was a major Templar centre and these Madonnas start to appear soon after the suppression of the knights in 1312," he told the Guardian this week. The first by a celebrated artist is attributed to Taddeo Gaddi and dated to between 1334 and 1338.

"In virgin and child paintings, the child symbolises wisdom, knowledge, truth. So what the pregnant Madonnas represent is a temporarily hidden truth," Mr Manetti said.

The Knights Templar were a military-religious order founded in the early 12th century to defend the kingdom the crusaders had carved out in the Holy Land. From modest beginnings, the order grew to wield immense political and financial power not only in the Holy Land, but also in Europe.

Pope Clement V ordered its dissolution after a campaign to discredit the order which saw bogus confessions extracted by the use of often ferocious torture. Two years after the pope issued his decree, the last grand master of the Knights Templar was burned at the stake on an island in the Seine in front of Nôtre Dame cathedral.

Controversy still rages over what secret knowledge, if any, the surviving Templars and their lay associates preserved. The question surfaced most recently in Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, where it is held to be evidence that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children whose descendants have survived to the present.

If that theory is to be believed, then Mr Manetti's interpretation raises the issue of which Mary is being depicted by the creators of the pregnant Madonnas. Mr Manetti, a practising Catholic, dismisses The Da Vinci Code as "based on a complete misunderstanding" of early Christian writings.

But with leading figures in the church denouncing The Da Vinci Code as subversive, sensitivity among clerics to anything that echoes its contents is acute. And Mr Manetti's theory has run into vigorous criticism from the priest whose church in Florence houses Gaddi's pregnant Virgin.

In a 15-page article due to appear soon in the diocesan periodical, Father Giovanni Alpigiano argues for the traditional view that the expectant virgins represent the theological concept of incarnation. There is "no arcane secret" attached to Gaddi's Mary, he insists, despite her cryptic, knowing expression.

"Great care needs to be taken in attempting to rewrite the history of art or literature solely with the help of esoteric clues," Fr Alpigiano adds. An account of his counter-blast was splashed over the best part of a page in Avvenire, the national daily newspaper owned by the Italian bishops' conference.

Yet a prominent Catholic cleric, Monsignor Timothy Verdon, took part in the launch of Mr Manetti's booklet. Mgr Verdon, the American-born canon of Florence cathedral, is a distinguished Renaissance scholar and the author of monographs on, among others, Piero della Francesca. "My own approach is that one should always look for the most universally accessible meaning," he said yesterday. "Works of Christian art are meant to be understood by all-comers. But, that said, I find [Manetti's] work interesting, stimulating. It puts one back in touch with a range of possibilities that might otherwise be forgotten."

Mr Manetti said: "I wouldn't want to say that Piero and the other artists who painted the pregnant Madonnas were secret Templars, but they may well have been sympathisers".

Mr Manetti said there was evidence to suggest that a group of former warrior monks and their associates in Florence had founded a new order, of St. Jerome, which was generously endowed by rich Tuscan families who had previously been close to the Templars.

As the dispute gathers momentum, one question remains so far unanswered. What does Mr Manetti believe was the true secret these great artists thought they were alluding to?

Mr Manetti is not telling. But he will be publishing a full-length book on the subject later this year.

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Ferocious Heat Maintains Grip Across the West
July 23, 2005
By JOHN M. BRODER

PHOENIX, July 22 - A relentless and lethal blanket of heat has settled on much of the western United States, forcing the cancellation of dozens of airline flights, threatening the loss of electrical power, stoking wildfires and leaving 20 people dead in Phoenix alone in just the past week.

Fourteen of the victims here are thought to have been homeless, although the heat also claimed the life of a 97-year-old man who died in his bedroom, a 37-year-old man who succumbed in his car and two older women who died in homes without air-conditioning.

Daytime highs in Phoenix have remained near 110 degrees for more than a week, and municipal officials acknowledge that it is almost impossible to deal with the needs of the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people living on the streets. The city has barely 1,000 shelter beds, and hundreds of them are available only in the winter.

The lack of preparation for the homeless here is obvious to those sweltering on the sidewalk outside the Society of St. Vincent de Paul relief center in a zone of desolation between the office towers of downtown Phoenix and the State Capitol.

"I'm dying out here," said a homeless man in his 40's who goes by the name of Romeo, crouched in a sliver of shade on a littered sidewalk while waiting for a handout meal and a bottle of water. "The police are making us move all over the place. Where do they expect us to go? They need some more shelters."

The Phoenix police and private social service agencies have been passing out thousands of bottles of water donated by grocery chains and individuals. But the fierce heat continues to take a toll.

"We've not seen anything like this before," said Tony Morales, a Phoenix police detective. "We get heat-related deaths every summer, usually 5 to 10 deaths through the whole summer, but nothing like this."

In Maricopa County as a whole, which includes Phoenix and its suburbs, 21 people died of heat exposure all of last year, just one more than the city's toll in the last several days.

Officials of the National Weather Service estimate that more than 200 heat records have been broken in the West during the last two weeks. On Tuesday, Las Vegas tied its record for any date, 117 degrees. Reno and other locations in Nevada have set records with nine consecutive days of temperatures at 100 or higher. The temperature in Denver on Wednesday reached 105 degrees, making it the hottest day there since 1878. The highest temperature for the entire region during the heat wave has been 129, recorded at Death Valley, Calif.

The weather forced airlines to cancel more than two dozen flights this week, remove passengers from fully loaded planes, limit the number of tickets sold on some flights and take other measures to withstand the heat.

The reasons for that are related to engineering. Aircraft manufacturers have customarily set temperature limits at which their planes can be safely operated. (The limits are lower at higher altitudes, as in the Rocky Mountains, and higher at lower altitudes, as in the desert that surrounds Las Vegas.) High temperatures mean aircraft engines must take in more air in order to create the greater thrust the planes need to leave the ground. But airplane makers also have limits on the amount of thrust that an engine can produce. If the engines exceed those limits, they may not perform properly. At that point, aircraft manufacturers advise, the airlines should remove weight from planes - either passengers or cargo - or, in the worst cases, not fly at all.

United Airlines canceled seven United Express flights out of Denver on Wednesday, when the record-tying temperature there exceeded the operating limit for the carrier's propeller planes, said a spokesman, Jeff Green. "It was just so extreme, and stayed on so long, that we had to cancel flights," Mr. Green said.

America West canceled 22 flights out of its Las Vegas hub this week, 11 each on Monday and Tuesday. The temperature of 117 there was approaching the limit for America West's regional jets: 117.26, above which they should not fly, said Linda Larsen, a spokeswoman for Mesa Airlines, which operates the flights for America West.

On the other hand, Southwest Airlines, one of the biggest carriers operating in Las Vegas and Phoenix, has not canceled any flights because of the heat, a spokesman said. And Frontier Airlines merely refused to fly any pets.

The extraordinary heat has lasted for many weeks in the Southwestern desert, where it has exacted a high price in lives along the Mexican border. Officials of the United States Bureau of Customs and Border Protection say 101 illegal migrants have died of heat so far this fiscal year, which runs from October through September. That compares with 95 heat-related deaths in all of the previous 12 months.

Twenty-one border crossers have died in Arizona just since July 1, said Salvador Zamora, a spokesman for the border agency. The agency has stepped up its efforts to rescue migrants from the heat, using trucks and helicopters to aid people in distress in the brutal sun.

Here in Phoenix, where the issue of rescue involves the homeless, Moises Gallegos, the city's deputy director of community services, said that space was available in downtown shelters but that some of the homeless refused to use it. Some are drug or alcohol abusers who do not want to be tested and treated, a condition for entry, and others are mentally ill and refuse all offers of help, Mr. Gallegos said.

But some private social service agencies contend that there is a critical lack of shelter space here, and criticize officials for not opening a 500-bed city-owned homeless shelter that is used only in the winter.

"We need a year-round overflow shelter," said Terry Bower, director of the Human Services Campus Day Resource Center.

Elsewhere in Arizona, firefighters are struggling to contain a swarm of 20 wildfires around the state, most sparked by lightning, including a 60,000-acre blaze northeast of Phoenix that shut several major highways. Across the West as a whole, 32 large wildfires are burning, fueled by the heat, dry conditions and a profusion of brush created by the winter's heavy rains, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

And in California, the state's Independent System Operator, which handles the flow of power to three-quarters of California customers, declared a Stage 2 emergency on Thursday and Friday, the first in two years. Stage 2 means that utilities are within 5 percent of their maximum production of electricity and that interruption of power to some customers is possible.

Stephanie McCorkle, a spokeswoman for the Independent System Operator, said the emergency was in effect for Southern California and asked residents to conserve electricity. Ms. McCorkle said the system had experienced 14 consecutive days in which demand in Southern California was near capacity.

"The Bay Area is not hot, and that has been our saving grace," she said. "L.A. is sizzling."

Craig Schmidt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's regional headquarters in Salt Lake City, said records had been falling across the Western states since the heat wave started on July 12.

In Phoenix, it was at least 110 every day from July 11 to 19; on Friday the temperature peaked at 108.

There may be some relief in sight, though: monsoons are moving into the area. The rain and cloud cover will cool things down a bit, officials said, but humidity will rise, prolonging the misery.

"Throughout the Western states - you have to estimate, but more than 200 records have probably been broken, and that's just talking daily records," Mr. Schmidt said. "These records are no fun to break."

Among the most remarkable was the one in Las Vegas, where the 117-degree reading on Tuesday matched the record for any date, set in 1942. The 95-degree low on Tuesday was also a record for Las Vegas, as was the average temperature that day, 104 degrees.

In Death Valley, meanwhile, the temperature never dropped below 100 degrees in two 24-hour periods.

Mr. Schmidt attributes the heat to a high pressure system that refused to budge.

"This one went on for so long, because there's a very strong ridge of high pressure centered over Utah and Arizona," he said, "and it kept the monsoon moisture from working its way northward. That usually cools things off with thunderstorms and clouds."

Andy Bailey, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Las Vegas, said: "It's probably fair to say what just wrapped up was probably the most intense heat wave the city's ever seen. We had a string of four days where it was 115 or above."

Now, however, the region is facing a new threat from the expected summer monsoons and thunderstorms, Mr. Bailey said.

"We're concerned with flash flooding today and tomorrow," he said.

Micheline Maynard contributed reporting from New York for this article, Katie Zezima from Boston and John Dougherty from Phoenix.

Comment: Two years ago, Europe was in the midst of a deadly drought. Over 14,000 people died in Fance alone. Check out our Climate Change Supplements for articles from that period. This year the drought is in the United States. We thought we'd commemorate the occasion by reprinting this particularly vicious editorial from the Washington Post:

Can't Stand the Heat?

Editorial
The Washington Post
Thursday, August 14, 2003; Page A18

TO LISTEN TO THE FUSS Europeans are making about their weather, anyone would think that it was actually hot over there. In Paris, shops have experienced a run on electric fans. In Sweden, a male bus driver showed up for work in a skirt after his company informed him that he was not allowed to wear shorts. In Amsterdam, zookeepers are giving iced fruit to their chimpanzees to cool them off.

Okay, so maybe it's a bit warmer than usual. Temperatures across the continent have shot up into the 90s and once or twice have topped 100 degrees in London and Paris. But is this really hot -- hot enough to close businesses, hot enough to cancel trains (the tracks might buckle), hot enough to wax nostalgic for the summer rain to which some Europeans, notably residents of the British Isles, are more accustomed?

Last time we checked, the weather here in Washington was in the upper 80s, which is average to low for this time of year. Temperatures in Houston and Dallas in the past couple of days have topped 100, as they usually do in summer. Yet somehow, no one's talking about extraordinary measures being taken by Texans or Washingtonians. On the contrary, President Bush, who qualifies as both, by some measures, is currently mocking the press corps by pretending to enjoy jogging in the Texas heat. Not all Europeans may want to go this far -- but maybe they will now at least stop turning up their noses at those American summer inventions they've long loved to mock: The office window that doesn't open, the air conditioner that produces sub-arctic temperatures and the tall glass of water, served in a restaurant, filled to the brim with ice.

Comment: I don't know how many times a day we say it: we wonder how it can get worse, how anything the psychopaths who rule the world can do could ever shock us again. Then we come across some incident, some comment, that shows us that we haven't hit bottom yet.

From our windows, the fields are brown. The summer's crops are dead. Lost. Looking at the wooded hills across the way, you would think it was fall. The leaves have turned brown and are beginning to fall. Only it is August, and we missed the colours of fall. Other places are not so lucky. Their forests are ablaze. They are witnessing the yellows, reds, and oranges of autumn as an intense fire.

Are these the colours of The Fall?

Where is simple human decency? Three thousand people have died in France due to this heat. The Editors of The Washington Post, with its reputation as the "Number 2" paper in the US after The New York Times, amuse themselves. You can almost hear the locker room humour in their offices, about "European wimps", "that's what they get for drinking wine, not beer", and on and on.

It is as if, for one uncontrolled moment, we were offered a glimpse behind the curtain.

The rulers of the world, sitting in the air conditioned offices, fueled by the oil plundered from "foreigners", are not touched by the natural world and either its beauty or its harshness.

Or so they think.

The remarks remind me of another remark, now infamous: "Let them eat cake."

Can any of our readers imagine the Washington Post writing an article about the dead in Arizona, perhaps suggesting it is the fault of the homelss for not having the good sense to live in air conditioned homes?

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Triple-Digit Temperatures Scorch Midwest
By NATHANIEL HERNANDEZ
Jul 25, 12:52 AM (ET)

CHICAGO (AP) - Sweat-drenched city workers checked on senior citizens Sunday and shuttled people to cooling centers as temperatures surpassed the 100-degree mark here for the first time in six years.

Chicago was among scores of cities suffering amid a scorching heat wave that blazed a path across parts of the upper Midwest.

By late afternoon, temperatures at Midway Airport had reached 104 degrees, just one degree lower than the highest temperature ever recorded in the city, according to the National Weather Service.

Other parts of the Midwest also reached triple-digit temperatures. Temperatures hit 102 degrees in St. Louis and 101 in Iowa City, Iowa.

The skyrocketing temperatures prompted Chicago officials to implement an emergency response plan that was honed after 700 people died during a July 1995 heat wave. An automated calling system began contacting 40,000 elderly residents at 9 a.m. to inform them about the heat.

"If you looked at who died in 1995, it was not triathletes, it wasn't people at ballparks, it wasn't people at outdoor festivals, it was the elderly who were living alone," said Dr. William Paul, acting commissioner of the city's Department of Public Health.

Chicago Fire Department spokeswoman Rosa Escareno said three people appear to have died Sunday from heat-related injuries, but she added that it would be days before causes of death would be confirmed. The Cook County medical examiner's office said Sunday night that they had not attributed any deaths to the weather.

Sunday's broiling heat came on the 71st anniversary of the highest temperature ever recorded in Chicago. The mercury hit 105 degrees at O'Hare International Airport on July 24, 1934, said Bob Somrek, a weather service meteorologist.

The weather service issued an excessive heat warning that was to remain in effect until Monday for most of central and eastern Missouri, as well as western portions of Illinois.

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Earthquake hits Aceh, Indonesia
www.chinaview.cn 2005-07-25 03:01:07

JAKARTA, July 24 (Xinhuanet)-- An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale rocked Bumi Serambi Mekah, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam in Indonesia late Sunday, prompting panic in some areas but no casualties or significant damage were reported, an Indonesian official said.

The quake was centered about 33 kilometers below the Banda AcehSea, some 435 kilometers west of Banda Aceh, capital of Aceh Province at 22:42 p.m. (local time), said Edison Gurning of the National Meteorology and Geophysics Agency.

"So far, there are no reports of victims or damage but the earthquake did spark panic among the population, with many rushing out of their homes," Edson was quoted as saying by local press reports.

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Earthquake Hits Tokyo
By AP

TOKYO -- A magnitude-6.0 earthquake shook the Tokyo area yesterday, injuring at least 27 people, rattling buildings across the sprawling capital and temporarily suspending flights and train services.

The earthquake struck at 4:35 p.m. and was centred about 90 kilometres underground in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo, Japan's Meteorological Agency said. There was no danger of tsunami, the agency said.

The quake was the strongest to hit the capital since 1992 as measured on Japan's sliding scale of tremor intensity, the Kyodo News agency reported.

The quake injured at least 27 people, including five people hit by a falling signboard at a supermarket in neighbouring Saitama prefecture, Kyodo said. There were some 50 cases of people briefly trapped in elevators.

The Meteorological Agency gave the quake an initial reading of magnitude 5.7 but later upgraded its strength.

Power in eastern Japan was not disrupted but Tokyo's main international airport in Narita briefly closed its runways. Bullet trains between Tokyo and western coastal areas also were suspended, but air and train services resumed later in the evening.

Tokyo has not suffered a major earthquake since a 1923 temblor that killed 140,000 people, but experts say the capital is overdue for another strong quake. A government report last year said a powerful earthquake under Tokyo could kill as many as 12,000 people and destroy 850,000 homes.

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Major earthquake hit India's Nicobar Islands

ASSOCIATED PRESS
10:59 a.m. July 24, 2005

NEW DELHI – A major earthquake of at least 7.0 magnitude hit India's southern Nicobar Islands on Sunday, prompting Thailand to issue a tsunami warning for the region devastated by December's earthquake and tsunami.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damages. No tsunami has been reported. The islands are in the Indian Ocean between India and Thailand.

The National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., reported an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude hit near the Nicobar Islands. The quake was centered about 80 miles west of Misha, Nicobar Island.

The earthquake was of magnitude 7.2, struck at 9:12 p.m. and was centered in Nicobar, said I. B. A. Rao, a duty officer in New Delhi's Meteorology Department.

The quake also jolted the southern Indian state of Madras.

"There is nothing to worry about," India's Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said.

The region was the worst hit in India by the Dec. 26 tsunami that killed about 180,000 people in 11 countries.

Thailand's warning was for the Indian Ocean.

"There can be a local tsunami, but no such activity has been noticed in the region," said S. K. Bhatnagar, deputy director-general of India's Meteorology Department in New Delhi.

Samir Acharya, head of a nongovernmental organization in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said: "Everything is fine. I haven't heard of any damage."

"My driver ran up to my house and said some people had come out on the roads," said Acharya, who works with the Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology.

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Tokyo earthquake a foretaste of expected disaster
25 Jul 2005 08:10:01 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Isabel Reynolds

TOKYO, July 25 (Reuters) - A strong earthquake that struck Tokyo at the weekend, paralysing public transport for hours, should act as a useful wake-up call for one of the world's most quake-prone cities, disaster experts said on Monday.

The biggest quake in 13 years struck just east of the capital on Saturday, injuring 37 people and triggering chaos in Tokyo's transport network. Highways were closed, subways disrupted and trains halted for hours, leaving many stranded, hundreds of them overnight.

Worried friends and relatives were unable to reach people in Tokyo because mobile phone networks had to limit calls due to overload.

The damage from the magnitude 6.0 quake was a tiny fraction of what can be expected when a tremor 10 or more times more powerful hits the capital -- something seismologists say could happen at any time.

But Saturday's earthquake could help highlight problems in planning, experts say.

"This was a relatively small quake, but if it acts as an alarm call, it is a good thing," said Yoshimitsu Okada of the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention in Tokyo.

Last week a panel of experts warned that Tokyo's preparations for the expected major earthquake were not sufficient.

The panel urged government ministries to draw up plans on how to continue operating after a quake and said they should have at least three days' worth of food and water to hand. Among other recommendations was subsidised fire-proofing for the city's many wooden houses, which could cut the death toll from fires sparked by a quake.

Tokyo's last major earthquake in 1923 killed more than 140,000 in the capital and surrounding area, many of them by fire.

"I wasn't surprised by the problems. In fact I think we got off lightly," said Professor Kiyoshi Ito of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University.

"I think the next focus is going to be dealing with the aftermath of a quake. It's easy enough to stop an elevator, for example, but how do you get it going again?" he said.

Many Japanese were shocked that nearly 50,000 elevators ground to a halt as the quake struck, in dozens of cases trapping people inside.

"Elevators are a blind spot in our cities," the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said in an editorial on Monday. "This earthquake has taught us that we need to work out how we can stop them and how we can rescue the people inside."

Experts urged individuals not to leave all preparations up to the government.

Commuters need to learn the route home from work so that they can walk if necessary, Ito said -- no mean feat where many people live two hours by train from their workplace.

Map publisher Shobunsha issued a new map on Monday aimed at helping people to walk home from school or work, listing potential dangers as well as places they may find drinking water and resting spots.

Even rearranging the furniture at home could be vital.

"In the Kobe earthquake, most people who died were suffocated when pieces of furniture fell on them," Okada said. "The absolute minimum you can do to preserve your life is not to put any tall items of furniture in your bedroom."

In 1995, a strong quake hit the city of Kobe 435 km (270 miles) west of Tokyo, killing more than 6,400 people.

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Melting Greenland glacier may hasten rise in sea level
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 25 July 2005

Scientists monitoring a glacier in Greenland have found it is moving into the sea three times faster than a decade ago.

Satellite measurements of the Kangerdlugssuaq glacier show that, as well as moving more rapidly, the glacier's boundary is shrinking dramatically - probably because of melting brought about by climate change.

The Kangerdlugssuaq glacier on Greenland's east coast is one of several that drains the huge Greenland ice sheet. The glacier's movements are considered critical in understanding the rate at which the ice sheet is melting.

Kangerdlugssuaq is about 1,000 metres (3,280ft) thick, about 4.5 miles wide, extends for more than 20 miles into the ice sheet and drains about 4 per cent of the ice from the Greenland ice sheet.

Experts believe any change in the rate at which the glacier transports ice from the ice sheet into the ocean has important implications for increases in sea levels around the world.

If the entire Greenland ice sheet were to melt into the ocean it would raise sea levels by up to seven metres (23ft), inundating vast areas of low-lying land, including London and much of eastern England.

Computer models suggest that this would take at least 1,000 years but even a sea-level rise of a metre would have a catastrophic impact on coastal plains where more than two-thirds of the world's population live.

Measurements taken in 1988 and in 1996 show the glacier was moving at a rate of between 3.1 and 3.7 miles per year. The latest measurements taken this summer show it is now moving at 8.7 miles a year. [...]

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Signs Point to Global Influenza Oubreak - WHO Warning
SWITZERLAND: July 25, 2005

GENEVA - Indonesia's first human bird flu case, coupled with more birds dying elsewhere including Russia, are signs a long-dreaded global influenza pandemic may be approaching, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Friday.

Health officials fear the virus will mutate and mix with human influenza, creating a deadly pandemic strain that becomes easily transmissible and could kill millions of people.

Margaret Chan, WHO's new director for pandemic influenza preparedness, said there had been no known sustained human to human transmission of the deadly virus, but called for stepping up disease surveillance among poultry and humans worldwide.

Indonesia this week confirmed its first death from the virus, which has so far killed more than 50 people since late 2003 in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, roughly half of the known cases.

An Indonesian government official was confirmed as having died of the H5N1 bird flu virus, but results of laboratory tests on his two young daughters who also died are still awaited.

"This is more evidence for us to be concerned about developments in the region," Chan told a news briefing.

"This is perhaps the only time since 1968, which was the last pandemic, that we are getting signs, symptoms and warnings from nature ... More and more birds are dying in different parts of the world -- this is the kind of signals, and early warnings that we are referring to."

Russia this week said it had discovered a disease in poultry in a remote village in Siberia, its first suspected case of bird flu. Around 300 birds died and specimens are being analysed.

RISK LEVEL THREE OF SIX

Chan, a former health director of Hong Kong who helped contain its bird flu and SARS outbreaks of 1997, said the WHO's risk assessment of a global pandemic still stood at three on a scale of six.

"We need to be very vigilant and look for early signals or signs of sustained human to human transmission," she said. "We need to advise people from farm to table on what actions they can take or can advise communities to take to reduce that risk."

Mixed poultry trading -- where ducks, geese, chickens and sometimes pigeons are sold side-by-side at market -- can be an "enabling environment for the virus to mutate", Chan said.

Recommended measures include separating poultry, vaccination of poultry, and other biosecurity measures on farms, she said.

"Our experience is that if you are prepared for a pandemic you get less impact in terms of mortality and morbidity and social and economic disruption," she said.

Chan also said that the WHO, a United Nations agency, was still pressing China to allow international laboratories to examine specimens from birds in Qinghai, where the H5N1 virus has killed more than 5,000 birds from five species.

The WHO is urging China to test the other 184 species in the area, fearing birds which appear healthy could also spread the disease. This would help understand the evolution of the virus and inform public health decisions, according to Chan.

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Albatross chicks attacked by mice
By Jonathan Amos
BBC News science reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, 24 July, 2005, 23:41 GMT 00:41 UK

"Supersize" mice are eating seabird chicks alive on Gough Island, one of the most important seabird colonies in the world, UK conservationists report.

The rodents are taking out one million petrels, shearwaters and albatrosses each year on the UK Overseas Territory, in the South Atlantic.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says the mice infestation puts some species in danger of extinction.

It hopes to find ways to control or even eradicate the rodents.

"Successful eradications in the past have used poisons, particularly in New Zealand; that is one option," said Dr Richard Cuthbert, a biologist with the RSPB.

"There are also potential diseases for mice we could introduce - the equivalent of myxomatosis for rabbits," he told the BBC News website. [...]

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