Thursday, July 28, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Secrecy. It is all around us. Obviously, governments make deals with each other that have little or nothing to do with what is finally released to the public. These agreements have codicils that remain hidden to the people they will affect. But in this, the agreements and the people who make them are no different than the rest of us. How much of our lives remain secret from even those we are closest to? How many secret gardens do we cultivate as our private retreats, those spaces we won't share with anyone?

Certainly, previous experience has shown that we cannot be open with everyone. We have most likely all had the experience of sharing an intimate thought or wish with another only to have it broadcast to the world, be it the schoolyard, office, or family reunion. Or you express a weakness to a spouse in an intimate moment only to find it being hurled back at you the next time voices are raised.

We learn to keep our real thoughts to ourselves. Sometimes, they may be minor things just to fit in or to not be singled out. If you worked in an office of Bush supporters, you would likely hesitate before talking about Michael Moore, the debacle in Iraq, much less raising the issue of official complicity in 9/11. To do so would mark you for as long as you worked with the same people. It would likely be detrimental to your work and your career. The consequence is that in this situation you wouldn't consider being completely open with these people because you know full well what the consequences would be. You are entirely correct in saying nothing.

But, then again, does the same thing apply if you are a journalist? We see the effects daily of silence in the US news media where the unspoken rule says you don't touch on the really important issues.

Knowledge of psychopaths and organic portals gives us a better understanding of why such personal silence is necessary and such public silence is almost inevitable. You can only be open, honest, and frank with people who have the capacity to return it in kind. In a society of psychopaths, where they set the rules, it is a constant fight to present the truth. Each attempt to speak the truth is an opening to attack. This fact alone should be enough to convince people that the press in the United States is not free, that free speech is a slogan behind which stands tyranny.

Learning and discerning with whom you can be honest and open and truly yourself is one of the basic skills we must all master. Secrecy as we live it now is based upon emotion. We are scared to open up, even in cases where we should. This fear in many cases is unwarranted, the remnant of a circuit laid in the brain at a younger age. In other cases, the fear may be justified. Learning to distinguish between the two takes time and a mastery of the emotions so that the facts can be viewed clearly without the chemical filter overlaid by the emotions. Journalists could leave the confines of the mainstream press and go out on their own, or network with like- minded individuals to work to uncover the reality the press tries so hard to obscure.

But what about those things you keep from the significant other in your life? Isn't the longing for love the longing to be with someone who accepts you for who you are, with all your strengths and frailties? The need to be yourself without the necessity of wearing a mask or watching your words, avoiding the feeling of walking on eggshells with every utterance? And the ability to allow the other the same?

It is hard, almost impossible to be that open, that trusting, but the moment we achieve it is unlike any other. Of course, then it passes, and some new "thing" happens and you lose it. The openness must be rebuilt. We find ourselves inventing excuses for our reclusion. The predator's mind takes over, emotion fueling the negative half of the intellectual centre, and we begin to calculate and weigh and measure everything we do and that is done to us, comparing to see who "wins", who gets the most, who is the better feeder. We withhold information because it gives us a leg up on the "opponent" -- but in this case, our "opponent" is the person with whom we are the most intimate.

A recipe for disaster and suffering.

Most people, we would guess, don't even feel the need for such openness and are happy to live in a world or a relationship where secrets are Standard Operating Procedure. Feeding is their natural state, and they have no need or desire to be anything else.

But what about the others? How can one live openly in a society that with each passing day is under tighter and tighter strictures, where the thought police are actively on the lookout for dissident ideas, where it appears the split between creativity and entropy is becoming more and more marked, and where, therefore, our most intimate relationships will come under its influence?

It should be obvious that in our closest relationships, there is a real problem if we cannot be open. If our spouses aren't ready to accept who we are, then we should question very seriously if we should be in the relationship. With our parents and siblings, it is different. We are there not by choice but through birth. One can certainly speculate that there are karmic lessons to be learned through our choice of families, but here on the ground, our lesson is learning to respect the free will of others and to defend our own. That means not imposing our ideas or offering them when they have not been sought.

But what does it mean to ask? Someone might ask you your ideas only to draw you out for an ambush. Clearly, there is a sincere asking and an insincere asking. Are we being asked because the questioner has a genuine interest in our thoughts and ideas? Will they allow themselves to be touched by our words?

Will we?

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Murder of Charles de Menezes - Classic Psychological Operation

Trauma - an emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person.

A report in today's UK Guardian newspaper tell us:

Brazilian did not wear bulky jacket

Relatives say Met admits that, contrary to reports, electrician did not leap tube station barrier

Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian shot dead in the head, was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police, his cousin said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the Metropolitan police, Vivien Figueiredo, 22, said that the first reports of how her 27-year-old cousin had come to be killed in mistake for a suicide bomber on Friday at Stockwell tube station were wrong.

"He used a travel card," she said. "He had no bulky jacket, he was wearing a jeans jacket.

the original reports that de Menezes was wearing a bulky jacket, failed to respond to police instructions and jumped the tube turnstiles all came from the Metropolitan police themselves and now appear to be completely false, or rather, they deliberately lied to cover their collective ass. So what then is the truth of this most disturbing incident? Well, let's look at a case history.

On January 30, 1972, soldiers from the British Army's 1st Parachute Regiment opened fire on unarmed and peaceful civilian demonstrators in the city of Derry, Northern Ireland. The marchers were demanding equal civil rights in terms of housing, jobs and education for the marginalised nationalist (Irish) population of Northern Ireland. The resulting death toll reached 13 with a number of others wounded. Among the dead were a 17 year old boy and a 65 year old man, most of the victims were shot in the back.

In the years since the atrocity, debate has raged about who to blame for the murders. Naturally, the British government initially carried out a whitewashed inquiry which exonerated the paratroopers and their CO and accepted the soldier's claims that they only responded after coming under fire. Since then, these claims have been proven to be false. A rather less biased inquiry was opened on 3 April 1999 in order to assess new information that had since come to light and is ongoing. The best result that can be expected from the inquiry is that it will rule that the British soldiers were to blame and that due to lack of discipline or the tension of the day or unknown variables, the soldiers lost control and simply opened fire indiscriminately. Most people will probably accept this as closure on the event. Such a ruling however, will leave the truth untold.

The British Paratroop regiment is acknowledged as one of the best trained and most disciplined of the British military. For this reason the idea that such a group of trained killers would arbitrarily and en masse disregard specific orders and fire on clearly unarmed civilians is hardly believable. The only reasonable explanation therefore is that the soldiers were acting on specific orders when they gunned down thirteen people that day - orders that, more than likely, originated in the psychological warfare department of the British military. Simply stated, the aim of such brutality towards the civilian population was collective psychological traumatisation, not only of those directly involved in the march, but also the wider nationalist population of N. Ireland who shared the aspirations of the marchers.

To this end, the operation was more or less successful, with the nationalist population of Northern Ireland left reeling from such apparently state-sponsored savagery in response to legitimate and reasonable demands. A possible secondary or parallel objective was to force the resurgent IRA into an organised campaign of paramilitary resistance to the British presence and stranglehold on the Northern Irish statelet, which is in fact what resulted. Lest we forget, from a military-industrial complex point of view, and despite the beliefs of the average citizen, war is desirable and good business practice. Military budgets must be justified after all.

Coming back to the murder of Charles de Menezes by British special forces on a London train last Friday; in the absence of any valid justification for the killing of this innocent man and taking into consideration that the Metropolitan police have now been exposed as having lied about the details of the murder, the only reasonable explanation is that this was a case of pre-meditated state-sponsored murder, designed to send a clear, if subliminal, message to the British public that they really should be afraid, and the "terrorist threat" may well be the least of their worries.

It is in the deliberate emotional traumatisation of the general public that governments find their greatest resource for the shaping of public opinion and the forcing through of policies which, under normal circumstances, would be immediately and intuitively rejected by the public.

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Ramping up the fear quotient
by William Bowles Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Day 6 of Open Season on those who are “darker than blue”

A sure fire way of keeping the spotlight off a murderous government that is neither believed nor trusted by the majority of the population, is to have a diversion of enormous magnitude caused by an enemy, preferably of an elemental kind (anarchists, communists, fanatics, fundamentalists, terrorists, take your pick).

Once you have a public fixated on this perceived enemy, it is necessary to maintain a constant level of fear and when necessary ramp it up, either though potential events (”not if but when”) or to exploit events that do occur by connecting the elemental enemy to the events, however tenuous the connection. If no real connection can be made, invent the connection. If necessary, invent a multitude of connections that can be announced and discarded at will. Nobody, least of all a complicit media will question why ‘connections’ come and go without explanation, everything is in flux in this world of illusions, where fact and fiction blur one into the other.

Aside from the many still as yet unanswered questions and contradictions surrounding who, exactly carried out the bombings of July 7, we now have the ‘failed bombings’ of July 21 to contend with, about which there are even more unanswered questions. Questions that the corporate/state media are not asking.

As with the July 7 attacks, initial police reports on the July 21 attacks were followed by contradictory police reports as to the exact nature of the ‘bombs’. Initially we were told the July 7 bombs used “military grade” explosives detonated with timers and there was no mention of ‘suicide bombers’ but then this changed to homemade explosives and the sudden appearance of “suicide bombers”. Then it returned to “military grade” explosives and back to timers. The July 21 attacks have gone through the same metamorphosis. Now it’s back to “homemade” explosives but the jury’s still out on the timers (that obviously didn’t work). The point here is that it’s not important how but that it stays in the headlines at all times, the objective; keep on ramping.

And we still have all the issues the police/security services have not adequately explained about July 7 including; why the four alleged suicide bombers bought return tickets, nor why they left explosives and weapons in their cars parked at the Luton ‘Park and Ride’ lot, nor why it took over a week to find the aforementioned weapons, nor why these alleged suicide bombers had ID with them, nor why they had no history of connection to so-called extremists, in spite of every effort to connect them to the aforementioned.

Then we had the ‘Egyptian’ connection, a story that vanished literally overnight. Remember that it was alleged that it was in the Egyptian guy’s apartment that the police allegedly found a bath tub full of acetone peroxide? Within hours of his name surfacing, the Egyptian foreign minister no less, was denying that he had any connection, a denial that was apparently immediately accepted by the British authorities.

I reported here that the rumour in and around Leeds University was that he was a spy keeping an eye on Egyptian and Arab students at the uni. Did he work for the Egyptian government I wonder, and was this why the Egyptian government was so quick to exonerate him? I note that he hasn’t been interviewed either by the police or the media, in fact he has effectively disappeared off the face of the planet, along with his alleged terrorist connection.

Then there was the 900 quid’s-worth of exploding perfume, allegedly purchased by Lindsay Germaine, one of the alleged suicide bombers, another story that came and went just as rapidly. Then there was the Pakistani ‘connection’, another story that came and went equally as rapidly especially after it was discovered that one of the alleged suicide bombers was misidentified by the Pakistani authorities.

Then it was the ‘madrassas’ connection. This too, came and went without any connection being established between the relevance of the madrassas to the July 7 bombing other than the alleged ‘brainwashing’ said to be conducted at these schools. The point here that needs to be emphasized, is that every time Muslim, Islam, schools, indoctrination, Quran, or any other ‘alien’ sounding word or connection is made, it reinforces every stereotype that the government and the media have implanted in the public’s mind about the nature of this elusive, ‘cunning’ and ‘evil’ enemy.

Where are all these allegations originating from? Why do the police insist in putting out one contradictory story after another? Surely, as with any criminal investigation, the police have clear rules concerning the reportage of investigations into criminal acts. We were told that the “largest forensic investigation in history” was being conducted following July 7, yet the rumours, often reported by the press as having a “police source” continued to emerge, only to be found wanting only hours or days later. Who is authorizing the release of this avalanche of disinformation? What kind of forensic investigation is it that puts out such an endless stream of crap?

And I have mentioned only a few of the plethora of stories that have appeared concerning who, how and why the July 7 bombings occurred. I’ve not mentioned the long list of names allegedly associated with the 4 dead men, that later we find, have no connection whatsoever. But it matters not, the damage has already been done. There are no retractions, no explanations.

So too with the July 21 attacks that went through same process. At first they were “nail bombs” where only the detonators went off, then they were “failed bombs” “similar to” the July 7 bombs, possibly made from the “same batch” of homemade explosive, allegedly the highly unstable acetone peroxide (see Wikipedia entry on this stuff). Then they miraculously metamorphosed back into nail bombs but still made with homemade (and apparently past its sell-by date) explosive. Bombs moreover, that are in police possession.

Is it credible that all four bombs failed to detonate? Is it credible that the alleged bombers followed exactly the same pattern, three on the tube and one on a bus if they are indeed part of some international conspiracy? The police then claimed that the (highly unstable, the BBC called it “volatile”) mixture of acetone peroxide (and what, Hugo Boss perfume?) “degraded”. But at the same time, we have been told that the July 7 bombings were planned months in advance by highly sophisticated members of ‘al-Qu’eda’ (Jack Straw the foreign minister on the same day, July 7). So are there two groups of bombers? Apparently not, at least according to the authorities, they are all part of the ‘international terror network’ run by ‘al-Qu’eda’.

Then we have the four photos released by the police of the alleged July 21 bombers, that so far nobody has come forward and identified. Is it credible that nobody can identify these four individuals? Do these people actually exist? Are they the ones responsible for the dud bombs? Will we ever find out? Don’t hold your breath over this or any of the other, dozens of questions surrounding these events.

Not so breaking news: two of the alleged July 21 attempted bombers have been identified and they are neither Asian nor Brazilian, but apparently from East Africa, possibly Somalia or perhaps Eritrea. So now yet another group of those who are ‘darker than blue’ are to be singled out as eligible for getting shot on sight. Apparently their bombs were in plastic sandwich containers, we even know the brand and size. And just in case, should anyone want to imitate them, the police have announced that they used six-and-a-quarter litre, clear, Delta brand family containers, with white lids, made in India. No doubt this announcement will be followed by cries for a boycott of Indian goods.

The media for its part, seems quite content to act as an unquestioning conduit for whatever rubbish the state puts out, not even bothering to correct the record (such as it is) when yet another scurrilous piece of disinformation bites the dust. In fact the media’s role in this entire affair has been, to put it mildly, shameful.

Take for example, the case of the assassinated Brazilian, who according the state and the press was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Initially the police issued a statement that was quite categorical about the fact that he was “directly linked” (chief of the Metropolitan police) to the July 21 attacks, although how they could know that, is beyond me, the body wasn’t even cold. There was no retraction until it became known that he was in fact a (Christian?) Brazilian, at which point his assassination turned into a “terrible tragedy” but one which the police refuse to apologise for. Had he in fact, been an Asian, then no doubt he would still be a convenient scapegoat for the state’s propaganda campaign to demonise those who are ‘darker than blue’.

The objective is clear; keep ramping up the ‘fear quotient’ in the minds of the public by issuing an endless flood of baseless accusations that keep the stories in the headlines and which have the additional advantage of sowing total confusion when one tries to find out what is really going on.

As long we don’t focus on Iraq, the poor of the planet (remember them?) or our rapidly disintegrating climate, all is well in the corridors of power. They can get on with blowing away people out of sight in distant lands, using really big bombs, safe in the knowledge that the mass of the public will now look at any Asian (or Asian ‘looking’) person wearing an I-pod and either overweight, cold or wearing a rucksack, as a potential suicide bomber, rather than focus on our government of terrorists and mass murderers. Mission accomplished?

Frankly, the July 21 attempts have all the hallmarks of a bunch of amateurs attempting to capitalize on the first and obviously professional outrages. Ask yourself if it seems credible that following the awful carnage of July 7, that such an obviously botched job was committed by the same group?

The point is, given the way the public have been conditioned to accept the idea of a global network of terrorists, out to destroy the ‘Western way of life’ (but not it seems the manufacture of plastic sandwich containers and hence a return to ‘pre-globalised days’ when sandwiches got wrapped up in wax paper), it matters little where they come from, or indeed what their real motives are. All that matters is that they have Muslim-sounding names, dark skins, they all need a shave and that they are enemies of ‘Western civilization’.

Afterthought: acetone peroxide is a liquid, so how come it didn’t all leak out of the sandwich containers? My feeling is that whoever attempted the July 21 bombings were either totally clueless about making bombs or, were set up to fail but frighten, making sure terrorists stayed in the headlines. Either way, the futility of such acts should be clear to anybody genuinely wanting to get the US or the Brits out of Iraq or any other countries the real terrorists have occupied.

A further postscript: I have been getting quite a few letters from readers who, like me, are desperate about the situation that the government has created here and want advice no less, from me on what we can do. It’s difficult to know how to answer such a question, for on the one hand, I don’t want to throw up my hands in abject defeat nor do I want to offer useless platitudes. But one thing is certain; knowing what is really going on and why, is the first step, that’s why an independent media is so vitally important.

Second, we have all been here before, several times in the past one hundred years and we all know what the outcome was every time; slaughter on an unimaginable scale preceded by witch-hunts and the deliberate demonisation of convenient segments of society. There is nothing new about the current situation. When the state itself feels itself under threat it will strike out using whatever means it has to hand. That there are a tiny minority who will resort to the use of acts of individual violence, is actually quite convenient for the state, for these can then be used to rationalise the use of the overwhelming violence of the state in ‘retribution’. Operation Kratos is but one of the inevitable outcomes with the state promising more to come.

There is no doubt that the failed and unpopular invasion of Iraq is a major reason, not for the bombings, but for the state’s reaction and the use of force and repression. But once again, I resist the urge to talk of ‘blowback’ as there is no evidence to directly connect any of the bombings to the situation in Iraq. Rather, the situation started with the concept of a ‘war on terror’ that once initiated set in motion a train of events with each step reinforcing the state’s terrible logic. Revealing the policies of the state as part of a historical process, in defence of capital is the key to understanding the situation.

Once this is accepted, the situation becomes transparent and the solution obvious; get rid of this government like they did in Spain for example. This might sound futile, we have after all, another five or even six years of the monstrosity that is the Labour Party and with no alternative on the horizon, there is no immediate solution.

But another thing history reveals is that situations can change with amazing rapidity. It is conceivable that a sufficiently large section of the public can come to the realisation that in order to avoid yet more July 7s and 21s, we have to abandon our imperial ambitions. Whether this will happen is of course unknown, but it is the only answer I have to the question, what can we do? Taking the first step is the most difficult and speaking out in opposition to the occupation of Iraq and our government’s imperialist policies and ultimately joining forces with others to speak out, is at least a positive step in the right direction.

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No Video of the 3 Bombers Inside the London Subway Cars before they blew up?
Dick Fojut – Global research July 25, 2005

Editor's note

At present, the London underground has an analogue video network and video transmission at 180 stations. Confirmed by new reports, there are close to two thousand video cameras which monitor London's Underground and mainline rail stations.

It is estimated that "the average Briton is caught on various cameras up to 300 times on a normal day." (The Age, 8 July 2005).

The key issue raised in this commentary refers to videocameras inside the underground carriages. In most European metro systems, the trains are equipped with a videowatch installation, with video cameras inside each carriage. The driver of the train is able to see inside each of the carriages, and the digital video files would be available to police investigators. Ed.

Comment by Dick Fojut

EVERY London bus and Underground train car has multiple Video Cameras!

The Police claim the bus videos malfunctioned, but made no similar claim about the video cameras in the Underground train cars. The Muslim men are claimed to have ridden from Luton to King's Cross where they split up to take separate trains. I've also read it takes about 25 minutes to ride from Luton station to where the bombs were detonated.

Therefore, there MUST be some 25 minutes continuous video of first four men, riding from Luton, then video of each (supposed) "Muslim" Bomber, seated with his rucksack on each of the 3 separate Underground cars, riding from King's Cross - to where the 3 bombs exploded SIMULTANEOUSLY!

If the London Police CANNOT produce those videos they SHOULD possess, the accused 4 men, 3 supposedly with rucksack bombs, were NOT on the Underground train cars, did NOT detonate bombs! And the Police are LYING.

The 3 young men from Leeds apparently were innocent "patsies" used in a "False Flag" phoney Blair Government instigated "terrorist" attack! They weren't suicide bombers, or deceived dupes. They WEREN'T on the trains!

Instead of 3 falsely accused Muslim "patsies," either unidentified "others" must have carried on and detonated the bombs - OR the bombs were ALREADY concealed under seats, or UNDER the subway cars - and detonated by REMOTE CONTROL!

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Has anything said by the London police been true?

Yet another (!) cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes has weighed in on his execution, and states that he was not wearing a bulky coat, but just a jean jacket, and did not leap the subway turnstiles (these are issues which could and should be answered by the release of CCTV tapes). If he wasn't wearing a bulky coat, and wasn't identified as one of the terror suspects when he left his flat, British authorities are left with no good reason for treating him as a terrorist, and in particular as somebody who could be subject to summary execution.

Letting him get on a bus if they thought he was a potential suicide bomber makes no sense, and then later deciding he needed to be executed in the Israeli style makes even less sense. All the emphasis on Israeli training seems to be misdirection, as they did not follow any of the logic of the Israeli approach. The Israeli method is supposed to permanently incapacitate the bomber before he can do any damage. It is also supposed to protect the police by using a long-distance shot.

Instead, the London police gave him a great deal of time to set off his bomb (after giving him a whole bus ride on which to do so), forced him into an area where the bomb would do more damage, fired shots at close range where the police would be in danger, fired shots that had the danger of setting off the bomb, and fired too many shots if the intent was simply to kill him. If they were learning from the Israelis, they didn't learn very well. The only fact which reconciles their allowing him on the bus, but later shooting him at such close range, is that they knew he in fact didn't have a bomb. If they knew he didn't have a bomb, what was their motive in executing him?

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No Video of the 3 Bombers Inside the London Subway Cars before they blew up?

by Dick Fojut
July 25, 2005

Editor's note

At present, the London underground has an analogue video network and video transmission at 180 stations. Confirmed by new reports, there are close to two thousand video cameras which monitor London's Underground and mainline rail stations.

It is estimated that "the average Briton is caught on various cameras up to 300 times on a normal day." (The Age, 8 July 2005).

The key issue raised in this commentary refers to videocameras inside the underground carriages. In most European metro systems, the trains are equipped with a videowatch installation, with video cameras inside each carriage. The driver of the train is able to see inside each of the carriages, and the digital video files would be available to police investigators.

EVERY London bus and Underground train car has multiple Video Cameras!

The Police claim the bus videos malfunctioned, but made no similar claim about the video cameras in the Underground train cars. The Muslim men are claimed to have ridden from Luton to King's Cross where they split up to take separate trains. I've also read it takes about 25 minutes to ride from Luton station to where the bombs were detonated.

Therefore, there MUST be some 25 minutes continuous video of first four men, riding from Luton, then video of each (supposed) "Muslim" Bomber, seated with his rucksack on each of the 3 separate Underground cars, riding from King's Cross - to where the 3 bombs exploded SIMULTANEOUSLY!

If the London Police CANNOT produce those videos they SHOULD possess, the accused 4 men, 3 supposedly with rucksack bombs, were NOT on the Underground train cars, did NOT detonate bombs! And the Police are LYING.

The 3 young men from Leeds apparently were innocent "patsies" used in a "False Flag" phoney Blair Government instigated "terrorist" attack! They weren't suicide bombers, or deceived dupes. They WEREN'T on the trains!

Instead of 3 falsely accused Muslim "patsies," either unidentified "others" must have carried on and detonated the bombs - OR the bombs were ALREADY concealed under seats, or UNDER the subway cars - and detonated by REMOTE CONTROL!

Comment: On 9/11, the videos from the security cameras were removed. We have yet to see any of them, only an out-of-focus, misdated selection from a security camera in the Pentagon parking lot. Now the missing video game appears to be reoccurring.

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London terrorists 'left 16 unexploded bombs'
15:44pm 27th July 2005

The London bombers left a stash of 16 unexploded bombs in a car, some packed with nails, it was revealed today.

Security experts believe the July 7 plot, which killed 56 people, may have been planned to be much larger and the explosives intended for a second strike.

The bombs were recovered from a car believed to have been rented by suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer, according to ABC News.

The vehicle was found five days after the attacks in Luton, where the bombers boarded a train to London.

Exclusive pictures obtained by the US network show some of the bombs flat-packed like pancakes, while others were packed with nails to use as shrapnel.

X-ray picture

An X-ray picture of one of the bombs shows nails bulging out of the side of a bottle-shaped bomb.

Security analyst Robert Ayers, told ABC: "Bombs don't kill by concussion. Small bombs, they kill by the blast effects of fragments of glass or metal, and this is designed to kill people."

He said he believed the explosives were left for a second strike.

The first pictures of the bloody wreckage deep in the London underground tunnels have also been obtained by ABC.

The extent of the devastation at Edgware Road station and on the train between King's Cross and Russell Square, where 27 were killed, was shown on World News Tonight.

Mr Ayers said you could see how the bomb had blown out the train's sides, and the roof had been blown to bits.

Police cordoned off the car park at Luton railway station as bomb disposal teams carried out several controlled explosions on the vehicle days after the first attack.

The bombers had reportedly bought a day-long parking ticket and it remains unclear whether they, or others, intended to return.

The photographs represent just the latest in a string of revelations about the London attacks made by the US media.

Most recently, a Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre report leaked to the New York Times revealed that three weeks before the attacks British intelligence officials concluded there was no group with the intent or capacity to attack the UK.

Comment: So, once more the London authorities give us some information that doesn't fit at all with the scenario they are elaborating of "suicide bombers" or even of dupes who were blown up by a mastermind to keep them silent. According to the latest info, the "bombers" left a stash of bombs in their car. If we grant for the moment the unverified assumption that it was the four accused who were in fact the bombers, and that the car with the bombs was in fact their car, two assumptions it is difficult to accept at face value given the number of lies that have come out of the Bush and Blair regimes since 9/11, the existence of other bombs in the car indicates an intention to return, while leaving open the question of why they would carry unused explosives with them. One assumes, following the logic of the Bush/Blair group that the explosives are to a bomber what a credit card is to the general public, and one doesn't leave home without it.

If they were intending to return to the car and their explosive cache, they weren't suicide bombers. They didn't mean to kill themselves. So the next hypothesis given to us by the authorities was that they were set up by a third party who knew they would die because the timers were not timers at all. They were set to explode. In this case, the bombs left in the car were left as incriminating evidence. If it were in fact a "Muslim terrorist" who was the mastermind, why would he wish to leave such evidence? The more evidence, the more clues available for forensic analysis, the greater the chance that the authorities would have a thread back to the brains behind the attack.

Does it make sense that the so-called mastermind would want to be found out?

It sounds more like the evidence is to sow a false trail. The early comments on the bombings suggested the explosives were military grade. Now we are hearing that they were fabricated out of expensive perfume purchased in shops whose purcahse left another trail. The explosives detonated in the rental car were not military grade.

It sounds more and more like a false trail.

Then there is the fact we mentioned on the Signs page yesterday that one of the bombs in the Tube appeared to have been under the carriage, not inside, because the metal in the hole in the floor was bent towards the inside of the carriage, not towards the outside.

Clearly, there are more questions than answers, but this does not prevent the authorities from continuing to whip up Bomb Hysteria.

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Ready to strike again
By Daniel McGrory, Richard Ford and Stewart Tendler
07/27/05 "The Times"

THE fugitive bombers who bungled their attacks on London’s transport system last week returned to their secret cache of explosives to rearm themselves for another assault, Scotland Yard believes.

Immediately after the bombings up to three of the men who tried to blow up three Tube trains and a bus were seen by a neighbour at the ninth-floor flat in New Southgate, North London, that they were using as a bomb factory.

Witnesses claim that some of the suspects made a second trip the next day to the flat where police yesterday found chemicals and bombmaking materials.

The men who lived at the flat, Muktar Said-Ibrahim, 27, who tried to bomb a London bus, and Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, the Warren Street attacker, were described by a neighbour who met them as looking “startled and dishevelled”. They fled shortly before police established last Friday that the flat had been used as a base.

It emerged last night that Ibrahim, 27, was granted a British passport despite a criminal record for violence. It also emerged that his parents identified him to police after CCTV pictures of him were released.

He was jailed by Luton Crown Court for five years when he was 17 for being part of a gang that carried out a series of muggings at knifepoint at Hertfordshire railway stations. One former friend said that he turned to radical Islam while in prison.

He qualified for early release in 1998 and is then alleged to have met Richard Reid, the jailed “shoe bomber”, at two London mosques. Reid, who was also a petty criminal, tried to blow up an airliner over the Atlantic in 2001.

Immigration officials disclosed that Ibrahim and Omar came to Britain as child refugees. Omar came from Somalia as a 10-year-old in 1992.

Ibrahim arrived with his parents in the same year from Eritrea, aged 14. Barely ten months ago, he swore allegiance to the Crown when he became a British citizen. Police are investigating how he was granted citizenship with a criminal record. A key condition for naturalisation is that applicants should be “of good character”. Officers also want to know if he applied for citizenship in order to obtain a British passort.

Nothing has been seen since of the would-be suicide bombers and police believe that they are being sheltered by supporters in London. They fear that they will break cover only to strike again.

Passport checks have been reimposed for everyone leaving the country in an attempt to prevent the four suspects from fleeing abroad. Controls were imposed after the first wave of bombings on July 7 and were back in place only four days after being lifted.

As Britain’s biggest manhunt went into its sixth day, detectives confirmed to The Times that they are convinced that a fifth bomber is on the loose. He is believed to have discarded his bomb in a park near Wormwood Scrubs prison. Scientists say that it contained the same type of explosives as those used in the botched attacks.

Detectives found “a substantial amount” of explosives in the towerblock at Curtis House, in bins and in a lock-up garage on the estate.

So much explosive has been discovered at different sites since the original July 7 attacks that killed 52 people, that police cannot be sure how much the cell possesses.

Armed police seized a car used by one of the bombers, which was found abandoned a few miles from the council flat that Ibrahim and Omar shared.Streets near the North Circular Road in East Finchley were sealed off as bomb disposal teams searched the white Volkswagen Golf.

Police told how Ibrahim was identified by his own parents. His family spoke of their shock at discovering their son’s involvement in terrorism and condemned his actions. “We are a peaceful family, having lived in this country since 1990,” a family statement said.

Police are still checking identifications of the other two men who took part in the attacks.

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said that senior officers had come close to allowing officers to fire on terrorist suspects seven times since the July 7 bombings. They had been asked to assess the risk of a terrorist 250 times in the past 20 days.

Doctors in London have been asked by police to alert them if they are consulted by any “young men of Asian appearance” with back injuries

Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Comment: The moral of this story is "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid. They are everywhere, ready to strike at anytime. This is not a test. Do not adjust your set."

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British police arrest nine men in bomb probe
By Michael Holden
July 28, 2005

LONDON - British police arrested nine men under anti-terrorism laws on Thursday as they intensified their investigation into two waves of attacks on London's transport system which have left London on high alert.

But a police spokeswoman said the suspects held in Tooting, south London, were not the three suspected bombers they still seek after the botched July 21 attacks on the capital.

Police held six at one address and three at another.

"We are still looking for three men," a police spokeswoman said. "Searches at the addresses are ongoing."

Detectives continued to question one of the suspected bombers in last week's botched attacks.

They hope Wednesday's arrest of Yasin Hassan Omar, 24, who they say planted a bomb on an underground train last week, will provide a breakthrough in the hunt for three other suspects whom they warn could attack again. [...]

Opinion polls show a majority of Britons fear Islamist militants could target their country in a sustained campaign. [...]

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The deadly nailbombs meant for London commuters
By Jenny Booth, Times Online
July 27, 2005

Shocking new images have emerged of unexploded bombs, some packed around with nails, which were found in a car left behind by the July 7 London bombers.

In total, 16 bombs were found in the red Nissan car parked at Luton railway station. It is is believed the car was rented in Leeds by Shehzad Tanweer, one of the four bombers who killed themselves and 52 others in a co-ordinated attack on three London Underground trains and a bus earlier this month.

The sheer number of devices has raised fears that the scale of the July 7 bomb plot was much larger than originally imagined.

The presence of nailbombs graphically illustrates that the bombing cell wanted to inflict the maximum possible pain, injury and risk of death on innocent London commuters, security analysts say.

"You see what is bulging on the sides of the bottle are nails. Many, many nails," said Robert Ayers, a security expert who was shown the pictures by the American ABC News channel last night.

"And the nails are put there so that when the bomb goes off, the nails will tear tissue and kill people in the area. Bombs don't kill by concussion. Small bombs, they kill by the blast effects of fragments of glass or metal, and this is designed to kill people."

Meanwhile police were continuing to question Yasin Hassan Omar, named by police as one of the would-be terrorists in the attempted second wave of London bombs on July 21. Omar is believed to have been on the run since a bomb failed to detonate on a tube train at Warren St station last Thursday. Three others, whose devices also failed to go off, are also wanted by police.

Omar was felled with a Taser stun gun after a scuffle with police officers who raided a house at 04.30. [...]

It is also understood that police have recovered a large amount of chemical compounds from a lock-up near the tower block which could have been used to make home-made explosives. Two other North London premises, in Finchley and Enfield, were raided by Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch this morning, although no arrests were made.

The body of the Brazilian man shot dead by police will be flown back to his home country tonight. Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, was shot eight times in the head at Stockwell Station on the London Underground on Friday.

Today his family said in a press conference that the electrician had acted as "training" for the security forces. They said that by shooting dead 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes the police had learned the wrong course of action - and were now using stun guns instead.

Alex Pereira, 27, said his cousin's death had given police a lesson they needed. "They learned, it means that my cousin was training. They killed one person to learn that lesson, I hope they never kill again."

He added: "They would never have learned this if my cousin had not died."

Comment: Supposedly, the officers shot Menezes in the head eight times because they didn't want to shoot his body in case he had a concealed bomb. Couldn't a stun gun potentially trigger explosives strapped to a suspected "terrorist"? We suspect that the only "lesson" learned in the killing of Menezes by British security forces was, "Shoot first, ask questions later... just in case".

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Sources: July 7 London Bomb Plot May Have Been Much Larger

London Investigators Find 16 Unexploded Devices in Attacker's Trunk, Sources Say
ABC News
July 27, 2005

LONDON - The plot for the July 7 transit bombings in London, which killed 56 people, may have been much larger than previously known, ABC News has learned.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell ABC News an additional 12 bombs and four improvised detonators were found in the trunk of a car believed to be rented by suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer. Police believe the bombers drove the car to Luton, where they boarded trains to London.

"I believe that the explosives left in that car were left there for a second strike," said Bob Ayers, a London-based terrorism consultant with expertise in demolition. "But the Metropolitan Police responded so quickly, they were able to get to the car and take control of the car before the second team could get the explosives and leave."

ABC News obtained exclusive photographs, which show the devastation left inside the London subway lines after the July 7 attacks.

"There is considerable damage there," said Ayers, who analyzed the photographs. "You can see it's blown out the walls, it's blown out the sides, it's blown the roof. That was a good size bomb that that man took down there and set off."

ABC News also obtained photographs, which offer a first glimpse of the bombs used in the attacks.

The bombs were made of homemade high explosives. The materials used are widely available products, such as peroxide. Some were packaged like pancakes, and others contained nails for use as shrapnel. An X-ray image of one of the bombs found in the attacker's car trunk shows the deadly concoction. [...]

British authorities are deeply concerned they are in a race against time against people who want to plan another attack.

ABC News' Pierre Thomas filed this report for "World News Tonight."

Comment: Isn't it interesting how ABC News, an American news agency, was able to obtain these "exclusive photographs" of the bombs and the mangled train even before British news outlets had them? The images are a wonderful means to terrify the US population into submission.

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White House denies access to Roberts' tax returns
Washington Post

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration will not give Senate investigators access to federal tax returns of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr., White House and congressional officials said Tuesday, a break with precedent that could exacerbate a growing conflict over document disclosure in the confirmation process.

Although nominees in recent decades were required to provide their three most recent annual tax forms, the administration will neither collect such documents from Roberts nor share them with the Senate Judiciary Committee, the officials said. Instead, the Internal Revenue Service will produce a one-page summary.

The White House Tuesday began releasing the first of 75,000 pages of documents stemming from Roberts' service as a lawyer in former President Ronald Reagan's administration two decades ago but refused to release papers from his time as deputy solicitor general under former President George Bush from 1989 to 1993. These papers, Bush aides said, concern internal executive branch deliberations that remain privileged.

Senate Democrats and liberal interest groups immediately assailed the decision to withhold the more recent files, sharpening a dispute over the nominee's record.

"A blanket statement that entire groups of documents are off limits is both premature and ill advised," eight Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee, led by ranking minority member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wrote in a letter to President Bush. The senators attached a list of 35 topics they want to see documents related to, including abortion, civil rights, Bob Jones University, death-squad investigations and school prayer.

The disagreement over access to decades-old government records flared as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suggested that, if confirmed, Roberts would not be bound by an earlier statement that the landmark 1973 ruling that established a woman's right to an abortion was settled law.

Gonzales told the Associated Press in an interview that "a Supreme Court justice is not obliged to follow precedent if you believe it's wrong."

White House press secretary Scott McClellan dismissed the Democrats' requests for documents as part of a political strategy outlined in media reports even before Roberts was nominated. "I hope Senator Leahy is not trying to demand documents that the president has not even seen as part of their lines of attack against the president," McClellan said. [...]

The change in policy on tax returns could fuel the debate. The Bush administration changed the policy in 2001, no longer requiring judicial nominees at any level to provide tax returns. Instead, the IRS performs a "tax check" of the past three years. "The reason we changed it was an effort to reduce the duplicative paperwork and streamline the process," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Tuesday.

In one of the documents released Tuesday, dated Feb. 16, 1982, Roberts offered suggestions to then-Attorney General William French Smith, who was girding for an appearance before conservatives unhappy with judicial nominations early in the Reagan administration. "It really should not matter what the personal ideology of our appointees may be, so long as they recognize that their ideology should have no role in the decisional process," Roberts wrote.

Comment: Secrecy is one of the hallmarks of the Bush Administration. It wants to elaborate policy and appoint its judges outside of the scrutiny of its "enemies". And as Bush himself put it, if you ain't with us, you're against us. Or as he put it after his "re-election", he was willing to reach out to everyone who agreed with him.

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Are Stupid White Men Really Stupid?
By Dom Stasi

"We have been children long enough. We must now unshackle our minds and begin acting as independent beings."
– Noah Webster, First American Dictionary

"ICH" - - Two framed pictures hang on my office wall. Each is accompanied by a timely message.

The frame atop holds a portrait of colonial patriot Samuel Adams. (Yes, the beer guy. My hero on so many levels.) Below the picture are his words, written at America's birth: "The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men."

When I look at the framed document and I see the idealized portrait - Sam Adams of the set jaw and steely eyes - I feel as though he is reaching across the centuries and speaking directly to me, admonishing me to beware the artifices of designing men.

Then I lower my eyes. What I see lowers my spirits as well. For immediately below the Sam Adams quote hangs another frame. This one contains a front page from the London Daily Mirror. Above the newspaper's headline floats another picture, this one of a befuddled-looking, newly "reelected" George W. Bush. The headline reads: "HOW CAN 59,054,087 PEOPLE BE SO DUMB?"

Now, while I've asked myself the same question innumerable times since November 4th, I'm not so sure the answer is as simple as the British tabloid would have us think. But think we must. So it is this lower frame, and the many messages and subtexts its simple words convey, on which I cannot help but concentrate my attention and this article.

If we're not dumb, then how can 59,054,087 people – Americans all - appear so dumb?

For what did cause so many of our countrymen to behave so strangely on Election Day, 2004, and thus to appear stupid – very stupid - in the eyes of the rest of the world? We are after all, the melting pot, the world's amalgam. Intelligence distribution is Gaussian.

To understand the Mirror's headline one must understand its readers. The headline is not an indictment of American intellect by jealous Europeans as xenophobic propagandists like Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh would have us think (Forgive the writer's indulgence. I've always wanted to use the words Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Think in the same sentence, if only to prove it could be done.)

No. By judiciously avoiding the word Americans in referring to the 2004 Bush voters, and simply calling them "people," what the Daily Mirror's headline does is articulate what seems an enigma to our foreign earth mates. To most of them America is smart enough, like it or not. America is the most commercially and scientifically advanced society on Earth, like that or not too, and ours is the only society we know that's made it off Earth as well. So, to them, the sheer unexpectedness of our apparent and hopefully temporary stupidity is what has the thinking world reeling – not our actual stupidity. Our countrymen's behavior has proven particularly vexing to Europeans. But they see this not as an American failure of intellect, but a human failure, thus the word people. So – unlike many of us - they're asking legitimate questions, so is their press.

Look at the 2004 election from their point of view. The vast majority of Americans are descended from European families, even those Americans who trace their heritage to Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Africa. European blood courses the veins of most Americans. European blood is shed on American battlefields. To a greater extent than all others combined, Europe is the foundation of American culture. In fact, even the most fundamental genetic science long ago proved our common lineage.

As such, Europeans do not hate America or Americans, quite the contrary. How could they? Neither do they think us stupid out of proportion to the world's general population. No. They see us as themselves, their brothers and sisters who've left behind abusive parents to strike out on our own. We proclaimed that we did not need kings and overlords. We can govern ourselves! we declared. And by extension, so could they. The familial metaphors are profound.

So, when it seems that we cannot, when we – we who are free to select from all of our extraordinary people not just some arbitrary nobility – still select inbred dynastic fools to lead us, when we allow the most commonplace of buffoons to guide the supertanker of state that is America, Europeans take notice. When we get it wrong twice, they feel the sense of failure and disappointment even before we do ourselves. They have no skin in the American game, so they don't fool themselves into denial. Their newspapers don't sell well here. Their journalists can be objective. We're cut from the same ancestral cloth. If we're stupid, then by extension so are they. Europeans realize this, so they ask, how can it be? Is it in our blood? Are white people genetically doomed to self destruction?

To many of my readers, these may appear radical musings, even for me. But I assure you, I do not arrive at them lightly. I spend a great deal of time abroad, particularly in the capitols of Western Europe, and not as a tourist. In fact not a month has passed this year that has not found me working in a foreign city: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Rome, Stockholm. Between times I might be in Oklahoma or Texas, LA or New York. I mediate among a very diverse group of humans, far more than most.

Wherever I may be, I drink the water, read the newspapers, or have them translated for me. I speak with my many friends in pubs and restaurants and coffee shops and the places where we work. I do this on both sides of the Atlantic, both sides of the Pacific. I watch their TV news programs. Many of my colleagues produce these programs, write these newspapers. I know what they think, and I know why they think it. Many of them consider their American journalistic counterparts cowards and whores. I find that I think it too. Sometimes I realize what's happening, then I fight it back. Other times not. For there is but one constant among the variables: whether I'm in Paris Texas, or Paris France, I'm American. England or New England: American! American to the bone.

But unlike their counterparts in the American media, my foreign friends ask valid questions. They ask the same questions more and more independent Americans are finally asking ourselves in the absence of a relevant corporate media here. For example, if it's accepted that it wasn't widespread American stupidity, then what was it that caused Americans to "reelect" little Bush, and by doing so allowing ourselves to be cheated out of our freedoms and liberties by the artifices of the designing men with whom he's surrounded himself?

What indeed. And, what caused so many Americans (59,054,087 if one believes the Daily Mirror and the vote count) to reward this profoundly failed president and his designing men with a second term? What motivated so many of our countrymen, after observing this guy, this mutant prince, this chronic incompetent whose proximate tenure proved him neither intelligent nor rational nor honest nor temperate, what caused us to unbridle such a dismal failure by providing him a docile, if equally corrupt legislative majority of more designing men to do his bidding and pillaging in our name? What blinded nearly 60 million Americans to the folly of casting their collective lot with big-money-globalists and against their own? against their nation's economy? against their families? against their freedoms? against their futures? against their civil liberties? against their – and our - blood-won civil Constitution?

Comment: Were nearly 60 million Americans blinded, or was the 2004 election rigged just like in 2000?

What persuaded a majority of the lowest income white guys from those areas the Europeans see as America's provinces (the red states) to enable and support federal policies intended to ultimately repeal the dividend tax? the estate tax? to impose a wartime tax refund for people (the noblemen) in the top 2% income bracket most of whom live in the blue states? What made agri-workers in the breadbasket states endorse the very president whose $200 billion in welfare to corporate farms will be spent to continue automating their jobs into oblivion? What inspired them to vote for economic programs that would provide an additional $70 billion in annual tax breaks to designing men who move American manufacturing jobs offshore? Why did lower-middle-income workers believe it would benefit them to redistribute their Social Security withholding to Wall Street (the blue heart of the bluest state) on the heels of a market collapse while the actual Social Security surplus edges toward two trillion dollars? Are the adjusto-tabs on their polyester baseball caps being pulled so tight that blood flow is cut off from their brains? These are the questions I'm asked.

It should be evident that stupidity alone would not account for this widespread illogic, though in speaking and corresponding with representative samples of any but the absolutely wealthiest Republican voters it becomes clear that if not stupidity alone, then willful ignorance as well is prevalent among them. But neither can these "attributes" alone account for such self-destructive behavior among so many millions of so called Americans. Even idiots have survival instincts. Even sheep recognize the slaughterer's shackle and pike.

What then? What specifically, caused a substantial majority of non-union, blue collar middle-income white males in this country to twice vote in favor of an economic plan that would reduce their overtime pay-rates, while diverting more billions of their earnings to the designing men who quietly consider themselves these working men's masters. Why did white collar white men vote against genetic research whose advancement would create countless American skilled jobs forever and healthier lives for their descendants? Was it their religious beliefs? If so, have not the sciences blessed this country as generously as all of the gods of all her religious factions combined? What made such Americans endorse a policy of spend and borrow that will inevitably send interest rates thought the sky, and eternally indebt their children to foreign banks? What? and what? and why? and why? ad infinitum.

Last month a Dutch woman asked me what caused 55% of white American women to endorse a policy wherein a bunch of (designing) men would be allowed to make these women's reproductive decisions for them? How do I answer that? How, when I wonder myself what it was that made these free American women willingly hand over control of their very bodies to a bunch of right wing creeps with little boy haircuts whom few of such women would deign to acknowledge in a social situation? How would you answer?

Last May I found myself engulfed by a Roman anti-Bush rally. Citizens of this city built from the spoils of conquest were demanding Bush and Berlusconi end their illegal war in Iraq. Afterwards, walking past a billboard showing the mud-caked and bloodied little feet of children killed in that war, I asked my companion to translate the caption below the disturbing picture. "The Work Of Bush," she answered.

Emboldened, she asked me a question – three questions. Why, she said, are so many American women quietly abiding the violent physical destruction of so many thousands of (Iraqi) children at the hands of a marauding army? Why have they not protested more vigorously? Did they not understand the unspeakable horror of such a rampage? I could not answer her.

After all, the infanticide's been proceeding unabated for three years now. Have such American women still failed to take notice, or do they just not care? I did not know then. I still do not. After all, 55% of white American women voted for Bush again.

Further, what motivated a staggering 78% of the most ardent and absolutely milky whitest American followers of Jesus to first enable and then endorse the murder of 128,000 innocents (so far) and the maiming of countless more of God's children, most of whom literally were women and children. What made them do so in the shadow of His very cross? This, while a comparable 75% of non-Christian American whites voted to end such brutality in 2004. Could it be that in the eyes of white evangelicals, humans lose their right to life once they're actually born? That makes sense.

What inspired a majority of white veterans - and this one hurts most on a personal level - those who know the stink of burned and rotting flesh, of cordite and kerosene, those who know what it means to feel your wingman's presence – to know absolutely – that he's on your flank, at your twelve, got your back no matter what the odds – what makes such vets allow lesser men, men who were not there when we turned around, yet reappear as if by magic whenever it's time to once more send our young to burn and rot, to kill and be killed on foreign soil based upon fear – fear and deception – what made most veterans support such scum? Have we too forgotten what was done to our generation by "men" such as these, safe in their Washington and Texas easy chairs? It appears we have. So soon. So very soon.

Elderly. What drove our white seniors to enrich those who consider the fixed-income elderly as excess baggage and a no-longer-useful element of society? What so enraged or so terrified Americans of the generation that faced down the Axis and the Soviets that they would vote for false security at the expense of the respite they've already paid for in blood, sweat, tears, money? What made these people throw in with those who will obviate their every social and financial contribution to our way of life by taking the money that American seniors themselves have set aside for an honorable and safe twilight of their glorious years. The fake conservatives in power today are uniformly on record as disdainful of anything "public," such as Social Security, Medicare, and aid for the disabled. They brag about it. So what, then, drove a majority of our Caucasian elderly to empower these savages who want to divert every public penny to war costs or to themselves thus leaving our social programs bankrupt – deliberately bankrupt? What?

The answers to these questions are many and varied. None of them are flattering. None of them reflect the actions of a smart, rational or informed electorate. Many of them represent dangerous reactions by a downtrodden, emerging, easily-frightened, and politically ignorant white middle America. All of them are an inherent threat to representative democracy. All of them remain unchanged by the facts of these last five abjectly dismal American years. All of them should be disturbing – very disturbing - to real Americans.

Europeans seem to understand the founding principles of our democratic republic better than we. What will it take to awaken the real Americans?

That's right, real Americans! By that I mean those of us – right, left, and center - who understand that representative democracy demands participation and who participate. (A "God Bless America" bumper sticker is not participation.)

By real Americans I mean those of us smart enough, aware enough, awake enough, American enough to know the difference between true patriotism and blind jingoism.

(A note to my legion of fuming detractors: after you look up the meaning of "jingoism," get all judgmental on me and scrawl another of your angry, pointless, and unimaginative name-calling diatribes, let me help you with your research by answering the inane assumptions and mostly irrelevant questions you've already been programmed to ask me: I am a white guy and in that despised top 2% of Americans in both income and IQ. I report every penny of my income, none of which is derived from writing or any other form of environmental pollution. I am not a pacifist. I'm a veteran and unlike your poop-suited war-president, my USAF crewmates remember me as I do them. I'm prone to political compromise in the public interest. I am not now, nor have I ever been a member of the Communist party. I have no prison record, and have never taken an illegal drug. I eat meat. I drink mostly coffee, beer and Jack Daniels and have since childhood. I dislike all wines except Champaign (from France!), which I especially enjoy in the company of one or more like-minded women (from anywhere). I'm not sure what latte is. In my teens I was a member of the Young Republicans. I once walked away from a job as US Foreign Service Officer because I would not engage in overt propaganda. I've three times held a Top Secret government security clearance, and three times I've obeyed its rule and its spirit to the letter. I've been married to the same long-suffering, amazing, and still beautiful gal for 40 years. My children respect and love me and even call me on the phone. I recognize wedge efforts at "gun control" as precisely that, but consider civil liberty a far more powerful weapon than any firearm – and one whose ownership is proportionally more threatened by this government's attempts at control. I am a real American. And yes, I am a Hollywood Liberal and damned proud of it. At least most of you got that right. So, if you must waste your time and mine by calling me names, call me that one. Just spare me the other crap. Come up with something new, and add a comma now and then – it won't use up that much of your crayon.)

As for the remainder of our countrymen and women, it should be apparent by now that few realize better than do I how tempting it is in this frustrating age to blame their apparent stupidity simply on actual stupidity. But, to do so would be a mistake. It would be a mistake that would mean their manipulators have manipulated you and me as well.

At this point things have gone too far to blame the still-widespread denial on stupidity: No WMD. No al-Qaeda connections to Saddam. Destruction of the world's oldest civilization for no plausible reason. Terrorism run rampant as we spend and kill mindlessly. No yellowcake. No aluminum tubes. The Downing Street memo. Traitors in the White House. Remember the Road Map? How about the mission to Mars? Ha! I could fill the page with this administrations lies and failures. But the point is this. Continued denial by Bush's supporters in the face of such evidence does not derive from their stupidity alone. It is much more serious than that, much more serious.

We must step back from our anger and realize this.

Most Americans – a substantive majority in fact, and whether liberal or conservative or anything in between – are neither stupid, nor do we all want different things from our government. What most of us want is honesty. We're not getting it. If we force them to give us that, the rest will follow. But only those capable of critical thought realize this.

Many Americans simply refuse to accept such a view. It's an ugly view of our beloved country. It's really ugly. There is so much that is already ugly in the world of those who allow others to think for them – the world of Fox "news" and Ann Coulter. For these easily-led people to accept that we Americans are the proximate cause of so much of the ugliness would test their self-discipline too rigorously. Accepting that our beloved country and its form of government have fallen victim to criminals represents a monumental psychological obstacle to them – a cognitive dissonance - not unlike that faced by the mother who won't accept that her child is the serial killer the police have been hunting. We've all seen such tragic people on the "news."

Making such ugliness even more difficult to accept, is that, just like the mother, to accept reality is to also accept that the killer came from her genes from her very womb. Similarly, the voter who enabled the Bush administration must accept some responsibility for the mass murder, the war crimes, the suffering that proceeded from their actions. So they stand in strident denial. They ride beside us on the freeway. They're the ones with the bumper stickers that say things like, "Power Of Pride," whatever that means. They can bellow all they want, what their jingoism says to me is they've put self above country. Whenever you see such a bumper sticker, it should say it to you as well.

To not accept the glaring reality of what has happened to our beloved representative democracy is to put self above country. To do that yet live under her sky is patently un-American. Like the rest of us, the now growing majority of us, these people too must put pride behind them and do what is right – what is right for America. Their mindless flag waving makes me sick. If they don't get what America means, then it is not their flag!

Comment: Indeed, it seems there are a growing number of Americans who are starting to ask the most difficult questions. It is therefore not surprising to see both the attacks themselves in London and how they are being used to emotionally beat the American people back into line.

Though the manipulators of media and government do count heavily on their base being a little light in the critical-thinking area, that's not stupidity. Laziness, credulity, naïveté? Yes. But not stupidity, not all of them, not even most. Be angry with that. It will allow you to focus on the right target. To focus on stupidity, however apparent it might seem, will be to waste your rage on the wind.

Add to this dissonance the realization that we've been raised and educated to expect "good government." Everything we've been taught about America since childhood is that it is the beacon of good government. How then can one accept that at the moment, ours is the most dangerously corrupt government in the world, run by a gaggle of universally failed incompetents? Has adding high treason to the crimes of this White House further cemented their base of adamant intractables?

How does one who loves his or her country accept that, especially when his or her vote contributed to the atrocity?

By facing it, that's how? By being an adult, that's how. By being an American, that's how! By being an American, that's how! By being an American, that's how! By being an American, that's how! How many times must it be said before it sinks in? Must we fall first? We surely will if America is left to the artifices of the designing men who've taken charge of her government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Conclusion: Though I cannot answer all of my European friends' questions any better than I can answer those I ask myself, what I do know is this. Many Europeans have conveniently forgotten that before us, they were history's fools. Many more have not. The latter realize that we are their families' descendants. Our ancestries are common. Our future is too. Europeans eat cheeseburgers. Americans eat pizza. The world has gotten very small. A terrorist's shrapnel kills all her people with comparable efficiency.

Thus, most Europeans do not think Americans are stupid. Neither do they want to think it. Inexperienced? Yes. Naïve? Yes. But not stupid.

Europeans see our countrymen's behavior for what it is: naïve nationalism. They see us as falling victim to the same propaganda that has devastated them throughout recorded history. Today's Americans – or half of us - are just the latest iteration of history's fools. They wonder if we too will be its victims? Will we follow the disastrous path to fear-bred despotism that our country's founders escaped? Have we already taken our first steps along that path?

Comment: And yet, at the same time, the leaders of several European countries are herding their respective populations into the same sort of corral in which the American people currently find themselves. The fact that the people don't agree with their leaders is inconsequential - fear will make the people toe the line. The questions is: Just how susceptible to said fear are most Europeans? Have they really learned the lessons provided by the long histories of their nations? If a terrorist attack hits France or Germany - where the vast majority of the population stood with their leaders against Bush and his imperialist crusade - will they see what is happening and stand up against the creeping fascism, or will they allow themselves to be scared into submission like a post-7/7 and 7/21 Britain? The vast majority of the British people also opposed Blair's participation in the "war on terror", and look at all the good it did them...

We must wake up and regain our country from the criminals, fools, and traitors who've assumed it. We must regain it for human posterity. We must regain it for our children. Yet, instead, we are close to falling victim to the same exploitation that caused our ancestors to lose control of their destinies in decades and centuries past.

The vast majority of Americans are honorable people. But Americans are people who've been lied to by those in positions of trust for so long and so often that they've lost their ability or their desire to recognize the truth. Our countrymen and women won't be brought back to rationality through anger. Only reason can accomplish that. And now, perhaps as no time before, as their leaders scramble and plot to save their own worthless skins, and do so with no thought of what their actions have done to the greatest country the world has ever known, perhaps, just perhaps, reasonable Americans are ready to put their pride behind them and literally, literally listen to reason.

I despise the hypocritical traitors of the corporate press, right-wing media, fundamentalist pulpit, and what today passes itself off for the Republican party as much as anyone can. My words have made that apparent. But we cannot let our anger become our enemy's weapon. For to do that would be to follow our European predecessors to ruin. If they are more aware than we, it is because they learned a very hard lesson from a very stern master: history.

Will our countrymen ignore that lesson? Now that would be stupid.

The Author Dom Stasi is a media executive and writer living in Los Angeles. Email

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McKinney reopens 9/11

Washington — Revisiting the issue that helped spur her ouster from Congress three years ago, Rep. Cynthia Mc­Kinney led a Capitol Hill hearing Friday on whether the Bush administration was involved in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The eight-hour hearing, timed to mark the first anniversary of the release of the Sept. 11 commission's report on the attacks, drew dozens of contrarians and conspiracy theorists who suggest President Bush purposely ignored warnings or may even have had a hand in the attack — claims participants said the commission ignored.

"The commission's report was not a rush to judgment, it was a rush to exoneration," said John Judge, a member of Mc­Kinney's staff and a representative of a Web site dedicated to raising questions about the Sept. 11 commission's report.

The White House and the commission have dismissed such questions as unfounded conspiracy theories.

McKinney first raised questions about Bush's involvement shortly after the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, generating a furious response from fellow Democrats in Washington and voters in Georgia, who ousted her in 2002.

"What we are doing is asking the unanswered questions of the 9/11 families," McKinney, a DeKalb County Democrat who won back her seat in 2004, said during the proceedings.

She rebuffed a reporter's repeated attempts to ask her why she would so boldly embrace the same claims that led to her downfall.

"Congresswoman McKinney is viewed as a contrarian," panelist Melvin Goodman, a former CIA official, said. "And I hope someday her views will be considered conventional wisdom."

Though she left the testimony and questioning of panelists to others, McKinney was the main attraction, presiding over more than two dozen participants, including the author of a book that claims the U.S. government had advance knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack and allowed it to happen, and Peter Dale Scott, who wrote three books on President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Georgia peanuts, Cokes and coffee were available to more than 50 attendees, whose casual dress was a decided change from the gangs of blue-suited lobbyists who usually crowd Capitol Hill hearings.

McKinney herself offered witnesses bottled water and found additional trash cans to place around the room.

Nearly a dozen 9/11 enthusiasts lined one side of the room, camcorders at the ready, broadcasting the hearing live over the Internet or recording it for later release. C-SPAN cameras documented the hearing, and a DVD recording of the proceedings will soon be available.

Ten people sat in a section reserved for family members of 9/11 victims.

"Nine-eleven could have been prevented," said Marilyn Rosenthal, a University of Michigan professor who lost a son in the attacks, echoing the premise of the hearing.

Panelists maintained that Bush ignored numerous warnings from the CIA, the Federal Aviation Administration, foreign governments and others who told him before 9/11 that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack the United States and that terrorists were likely to use hijacked airliners as weapons.

But why would the president or his administration want the 9/11 attacks to occur? Power, the panelists agreed.

In the wake of the attacks, the administration was able to greatly expand the president's power and the reach of the federal government, they said, but whistle-blowers and other potential witnesses who could have testified to the Sept. 11 commission about such things were either prevented from speaking or ignored in the commission's final report. Panelists called the commission's report "a cover-up."

"The American people have been seriously misled," said Scott.

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NY Fireman Lou Cacchioli Says 9/11 Comission Twisted His Words
Greg Szymanski
July 20 2005

New York fireman Lou Cacchioli looked the devil square in the eye the morning of 9/11. He stared him down, threw him aside and walked into the depths of hell like a true hero, knowing he may never walk out again.

Like a hero, he risked his life to save others, never once thinking about himself at a time when one wrong a turn, a slight move in the wrong direction, meant sure death.

Although he survived, a little bit of Lou Cacchioli died that tragic morning in the north tower. [...]

Four years later, Cacchioli hasn't talked much about the nightmare he lived on 9/11. First, he really didn't want to talk about. Next, he got tired of having his words twisted by the 9/11 Commission and finally, the New York media basically never sought him out to get the true account of what he saw and heard in the north tower right before the building collapsed.

Originally, on September 12, 2001, People Magazine ran a few short paragraphs about the 20-year veteran New York fireman hearing what sounded like bombs exploding in the north tower.

Short and sweet, that was it. A few short words about bombs exploding, but words that were repeated over and over again in story after story by writers and broadcasters who never even bothered to talk to him in the first place.

After that, a little angry and a little disgusted, he pretty much disappeared into the New York landscape, his story only appearing in an obscure book released called "American Spirit," and his 2004 testimony given in private to the 9/11 Commission never released to the public in the commission's final report.

So, it's safe to say Cacchioli's story, the story of an American hero, is probably unknown to most Americans even though 9/11 will be forever etched in everyone's hearts and souls for all time.

In a humble effort to set the 9/11 Commission's record straight and put the correct version of hero Lou Cacchioli's story back in the history books, here is the unedited version, better late then never, as told by the man in an extended telephone conversation this week from his New York home: [...]


Although the Marriot was a bad scene, the north tower looked like a war zone. When he entered the lobby, Cacchioli recalls elevator doors completely blown out and another scene of mass chaos with people running, screaming and being hit with debris.

"I remember thinking to myself, my God, how could this be happening so quickly if a plane hit way above. It didn't make sense," said Cacchioli.

At that point, Cacchioli found one of the only functioning elevators, one only going as high as the 24th floor, a twist of fate that probably saved his life.

"Looking back if it was one of the elevators that went higher, I wouldn't be here talking today," added Cacchioli.

As he made his way up along with men from Engine Co. 21, 22 and Ladder Co. 13, the doors opened on the 24th floor, a scene again that hardly made sense to the seasoned fireman, claiming the heavy dust and haze of smoke he encountered was unusual considering the location of the strike.

"Tommy Hedsal was with me and everybody else also gets out of the elevator when it stops on the 24th floor," said Cacchioli, "There was a huge amount of smoke. Tommy and I had to go back down the elevator for tools and no sooner did the elevators close behind us, we heard this huge explosion that sounded like a bomb. It was such a loud noise, it knocked off the lights and stalled the elevator.

"Luckily, we weren't caught between floors and were able to pry open the doors. People were going crazy, yelling and screaming. And all the time, I am crawling low and making my way in the dark with a flashlight to the staircase and thinking Tommy is right behind me.

"I somehow got into the stairwell and there were more people there. When I began to try and direct down, another huge explosion like the first one hits. This one hits about two minutes later, although it's hard to tell, but I'm thinking, 'Oh. My God, these bastards put bombs in here like they did in 1993!'

"But still it never crossed my mind the building was going to collapse. I really only had two things on my mind and that was getting people out and saving lives. That's what I was trained for and that's what I was going to do.

"I remember at that point in the stairwell between the 23rd and 24th floor, I threw myself down on the steps because of the smoke. It was pitch black, I had my mask on and I was crawling down the steps until I found the door on the 23rd floor."

When Cacchioli entered the 23rd floor, he found a "little man" holding a handkerchief in front of his face and hiding under the standpipes on the wall, used for pumping water on the floor in case of fire.

Leading the man by the arm, he then ran into a group down the hall of about 35 to 40 people, finding his way down the 23rd floor stairwell and beginning their descent to safety.

"Then as soon as we get in the stairwell, I hear another huge explosion like the other two. Then I heard bang, bang, bang - huge bangs – and surmised later it was the floors pan caking on top of one another.

"I knew we had to get out of there fast and on the 12th floor a man even jumped on my back because he thought he couldn't make it any farther. Everybody was shocked and dazed and it was a miracle all of us got this far." [...]


Cacchioli was called to testify privately, but walked out on several members of the committee before they finished, feeling like he was being interrogated and cross-examined rather than simply allowed to tell the truth about what occurred in the north tower on 9/11.

"My story was never mentioned in the final report and I felt like I was being put on trial in a court room," said Cacchioli. "I finally walked out. They were trying to twist my words and make the story fit only what they wanted to hear. All I wanted to do was tell the truth and when they wouldn't let me do that, I walked out."

"It was a disgrace to everyone, the victims and the family members who lost loved ones. I don't agree with the 9/11 Commission. The whole experience was terrible." [...]


Cacchioli spends a majority of his spare time hanging around the firehouse, trying to stay in touch with the department he loves and trying to lend a hand to some of the younger kids in the department.

"I talk to the kids and I want to make sure they are keeping up to snuff so they're ready if something happens," said Cacchioli, who also plays softball in the FDNY league, something he regularly did when he was on active duty. "I don't want to lose this connection because the fire department is a part of who I am and who I always will be."

Asked if he ever was pressured to keep quiet about his 9/11 experience, he added:

"Nobody has bothered me. I don't think I should be bothered. I know what happened that day and I know the whole truth hasn't come out yet. I have my own conscience, my own mind and no one, I mean no one, is going to force Lou Cacchioli to say something that didn't happen and wasn't the truth."

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The Patriot Act Four Years Later
US Congressman Ron Paul
July 25, 2005

Congress passed legislation last week that reauthorizes the Patriot Act for another 10 years, although the bill faced far more opposition than the original Act four years ago. I'm heartened that more members of Congress are listening to their constituents, who remain deeply skeptical about the Patriot Act and expansions of federal police power in general. They rightfully wonder why Congress is so focused on American citizens, while bin Laden and other terrorist leaders still have not been captured.

The tired arguments we're hearing today are that same ones we heard in 2001 when the Patriot Act was passed in the emotional aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. If the Patriot Act is constitutional and badly needed, as its proponents swear, why were sunset provisions included at all? If it's unconstitutional and pernicious, why not abolish it immediately? All of this nonsense about sunsets and reauthorizations merely distracts us from the real issue, which is personal liberty. America was not founded on a promise of security, it was founded on a promise of personal liberty to pursue happiness.

One prominent Democratic opined on national television that "most of the 170 page Patriot Act is fine," but that it needs some fine tuning. He then stated that he opposed the ten-year reauthorization bill on the grounds that Americans should not have their constitutional rights put on hold for a decade. His party's proposal, however, was to reauthorize the Patriot Act for only four years, as though a shorter moratorium on constitutional rights would be acceptable! So much for the opposition party and its claim to stand for civil liberties.

Unfortunately, some of my congressional colleagues referenced the recent London bombings during the debate, insinuating that opponents of the Patriot Act somehow would be responsible for a similar act here at home. I won't even dignify that slur with the response it deserves. Let's remember that London is the most heavily monitored city in the world, with surveillance cameras recording virtually all public activity in the city center. British police officials are not hampered by our 4th amendment nor our numerous due process requirements. In other words, they can act without any constitutional restrictions, just as supporters of the Patriot Act want our own police to act. Despite this they were not able to prevent the bombings, proving that even a wholesale surveillance society cannot be made completely safe against determined terrorists. Congress misses the irony entirely. The London bombings don't prove the need for the Patriot Act, they prove the folly of it.

The Patriot Act, like every political issue, boils down to a simple choice: Should we expand government power, or reduce it? This is the fundamental political question of our day, but it's quickly forgotten by politicians who once promised to stand for smaller government. Most governments, including our own, tend to do what they can get away with rather than what the law allows them to do. All governments seek to increase their power over the people they govern, whether we want to recognize it or not. The Patriot Act is a vivid example of this. Constitutions and laws don't keep government power in check; only a vigilant populace can do that.

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Military, Bush team clashed on questioning - report
Thu Jul 28,12:38 AM ET

NEW YORK - Senior U.S. military lawyers strongly disagreed in 2003 with an administration legal task force's conclusion that
President Bush had authority to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the New York Times reported.

Citing newly disclosed documents, the Times said in its Thursday editions that despite the protests, the task force concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law. The reason was the special character of the fight against terrorism.

The Times said that memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services took a sharply different view and warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American military personnel.

The memorandums were declassified and released last week in response to a request from Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, the newspaper said.

One memorandum written by the deputy judge advocate general of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. Jack. Rives, said several of the "more extreme interrogation techniques, on their face, amount to violations of domestic criminal law" as well as military law, the Times said.

The Rives memorandum also said the use of many of the interrogation techniques "puts the interrogators and the chain of command at risk of criminal accusations abroad," the Times reported.

The Times said the memorandums provide the most-complete record to date of how uniformed military lawyers were frequently the chief dissenters as government officials formulated interrogation policies.

Comment: Nevertheless, the torture policy was approved and implemented by the US military and intelligence agencies...

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Transcript Suggests CIA Involved in Abuse
Wed Jul 27,10:24 PM ET

DENVER - A National Guardsman testifying at a hearing for U.S. soldiers accused of killing an Iraq general said he saw classified U.S. personnel beat prisoners with a sledgehammer handle and mock the general's death, according to a transcript.

The transcript, obtained by The Denver Post, includes an exchange during the hearing that suggests the CIA was involved.

Sgt. 1st Class Gerold Pratt of the Utah National Guard said he saw unidentified U.S. personnel use the 15-inch wooden handle to hit prisoners.

"They'd ask you a question, and if they didn't like it, they'd hit you," he said, according to the transcript obtained this week by the Post under a court order. Pratt testified at the hearing in March.

The hearing will determine whether three soldiers from Fort Carson will stand trial for the death of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush during an interrogation in 2003.

The soldiers have denied wrongdoing and say commanders sanctioned their actions.

Most identifying information in the transcript was redacted, but one exchange suggests CIA involvement. "To your knowledge, SFC Sommer did not accompany any of these CIA folks?" defense attorney Capt. Michael Melito asked Pratt.

A CIA spokeswoman who declined to give the Post her name would not comment.

Pratt - who had run logistics at the detention facility near Qaim, a city in Iraq's western desert - said he recalled an official mocking the prisoners he was beating.

"Well, particularly after the general was killed. I don't remember the exact words, but he was mocking the fact that the general died," Pratt testified.

The Army said Mowhoush died of asphyxiation from chest compression. Documents in the case said he was killed with an electrical cord, and a Pentagon investigation reportedly says a soldier sat on Mowhoush as he was restrained headfirst inside a sleeping bag.

Previous testimony indicated the Iraqi general's body was badly bruised and he may have been severely beaten two days before he was suffocated.

Charged with murder are Chief Warrant Officer Jefferson Williams, Spec. Jerry Loper and Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, who was not part of the hearing. Final charges are pending against the fourth accused soldier, Sgt. 1st Class William Sommer.

The hearing officer has forwarded the case report, and Fort Carson's commander, Maj. Gen. Robert Mixon, will make the final decision on whether the soldiers will be court-martialed.

The soldiers could get life in prison without parole if they are convicted of murder.

Williams' attorney, William Cassara, said he was sure other officials were involved in prisoner abuse.

"I have no doubts that other government agencies used methods of interrogation that were much worse," Cassara said.

Comment: So, military lawyers battled against the use of torture, which would place the blame on the Bush administration or the CIA. In the cases of torture that have led to trials, however, it seems that senior military leaders are dumping the responsibility onto the lower-ranking members of the armed forces. Now this article is suggesting that the CIA is playing a large part in the torture of prisoners held by the US in the war on terror. Everyone is pointing the finger at someone else. Meanwhile, the madness continues: the Patriot Act was renewed more or less indefinitely, US citizens continue to be held without charge, and you can be sure that the CIA is still rendering prisoners to places like Egypt and Syria to be butchered and killed.

One thing is clear: it all started with 9/11, and 9/11 started because of Bush, the Neocons, and the Zionists. Therefore, any "news" that fails to address this key issue is not only not helping to find the truth, but is in fact part of the overall problem: the lies, the obfuscation, and the deception.

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Family says son was forgotten
Mark Dunn
Herald Sun
26 July 2005

AN Australian man imprisoned by the US military in Iraq for more than 18 months without charge has been forgotten by the Australian Government, his family claims.

Ahmed Aziz Rafiq was arrested with up to 150 other people in February last year during security sweeps in northern Iraq after bombings killed more than 100 people in the Kurdish city of Erbil.

Mr Rafiq, who was married just days before his arrest, told authorities he had travelled from Adelaide to Iraq to visit his father and seek a bride.

But the US military said he was part of the insurgency and is holding him at the Camp Bucca prison near Umm Qasr.

"They were saying he went to Iraq for jihad. That was just an allegation, there is no evidence of that. They could say anything," Mr Rafiq's uncle, Sameer Saaid, said.

Mr Saaid said the Australian Government had not responded to inquiries from the family a month ago.

But a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the Australian ambassador in Iraq, Howard Brown, met Mr Rafiq's father on July 3 to discuss the case.

The Australian Government in February said the US military said it was preparing to release Mr Rafiq because it no longer considered him a security risk.

The US subsequently withdrew that advice, saying it wanted to review the Rafiq case, and DFAT told the Herald Sun it would seek an urgent resolution of either charges against Mr Rafiq or press for his release.

IN a separate case, Australian dual national Ahmad Jamal, 22, of Sydney, is also being held in Iraq without charge since his arrest last November.

DFAT said it had no updated information on the Jamal case that could be released.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is holding Mr Jamal on allegations of links to the insurgency.

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The bomb and Karl Rove
By Jonathan Schell

Like every important government crisis, the outing of undercover Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer Valerie Plame by the President George W Bush's chief political adviser, deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, perhaps among others, must be seen in many contexts at once. (As all the world knows, Rove's aim was to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, who had publicly disproved the administration's claim that Iraq was buying uranium yellow-cake from Niger - a key element in the administration's justifications for the Iraq War.)

Howard Fineman of Newsweek and Sidney Blumenthal of the Salon website point to the broader story of Rove's habitual practice of defending his political clients by smearing their competitors and detractors. Blumenthal titles his piece "Rove's War" and Fineman speaks of "The World According to Rove". Frank Rich of the New York Times, on the other hand, suggests that the most important war to look at is the one in Iraq. He says that the injustice to the Wilsons and even to the CIA is secondary: "The real crime here remains the sending of American men and women to Iraq on fictitious grounds." In other words, what's important is not the "war" but the war.

Surely, they are all right. It's true that the harm to the Wilsons cannot be compared to the deaths of thousands in the misbegotten conflict, but it's also true that the resolution of the scandal is likely to have a lasting impact on American politics, and even on the American system of government. Perhaps the most important political question is whether the Bush administration is to be held accountable for any of its actions, or whether it now enjoys complete impunity and a free field of action to do whatever it likes - from waging war to designing and presiding over systems of torture to breaking domestic law. There are also other contexts to consider.

If Rich is right that the scandal is really about the Iraq War, then we have to ask what the war was about. The administration's chief answer is weapons of mass destruction and, more particularly, nuclear weapons. The atomic signature is scrawled all over the scandal. It is present, of course, in the uranium the president falsely said Iraq was seeking from Niger. And Plame, as it turns out, worked for the CIA on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. To defend its nuclear lies, the administration destroyed a (possible) source of nuclear truth.

The smear campaign thus did double damage in the nuclear-weapon field: it propped up, however briefly, the erroneous justification for the war, while shutting down authentic information on the broader problem. The nuclear issue popped up again in a State Department memo former secretary of state Colin Powell brought with him on Air Force One shortly after Wilson's op-ed piece appeared. It is now famous because the memo disclosed Plame's identity as Wilson's wife. Less noticed is that the bulk of the memo was devoted to rebutting the Niger uranium allegation.

This must be one of the most rebutted claims in history. Before Wilson ever spoke up, it had been disproved by several government agencies; the director of the UN's Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed ElBaradei; and, of course, the State Department. (As for Powell, in February 2003 he had told the UN Security Council, "My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.")

Whatever else the scandal is, it is also an episode in the six-decade history of the nuclear age. In the wake of the Cold War, many people imagined that nuclear danger had disappeared. A decade of utter neglect followed. Then, in 1998, the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests launched the two countries on a nuclear arms race. Soon other countries, including North Korea and Iran, were knocking at the door of the nuclear club. But it wasn't until September 11 that the neglected peril reared up again in the public mind - and returned to the center of policy. The fictional danger of an Iraqi bomb bursting in an American city was, of course, the chief justification for the war, but it was more than that. It was the linchpin of the broader policy of preventive military strikes - necessary, the president said, to forestall the hostile states from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. In his words, "As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed."

At the root of the policy was a radical reconception of the way to stop proliferation. Hitherto, the policy had been to address it by negotiation and disarmament treaties. Now it was to be addressed by military force. The decade of neglect had led to the most severe collision of nuclear policy with nuclear reality since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The Iraq war was the result, though not the only one. While the US military was looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, where there were none, it was in effect ignoring them in North Korea, which reportedly was either acquiring or expanding a nuclear arsenal, and in Iran, which was pressing forward down the nuclear path. It's worth recalling that the Vietnam War, too, was in part the product of misguided nuclear strategy. Policymakers, well aware that they could not win a nuclear "general war" with the Soviet Union in the Central European theater, hoped instead to win a "limited war" with conventional arms on the "periphery". When it went wrong, the consequence was the Watergate crisis, born directly of Richard Nixon's fury at antiwar protesters.

That chain of reasoning died with the Cold War, but nuclear danger lived on to produce new and possibly more dangerous illusions. The worst is that the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their associated technology and know-how can be stopped, or prevented in advance, by arms. Once that conclusion was accepted, mere hints of danger, wisps of fact and speculations became actionable, bomb-able. But if there is one thing in this world that cannot be bombed out of existence, it is an illusion. And illusions, when rigidly defended, breed encounters with the law. Thus did a mistaken revolution in nuclear policy, proceeding under the guise of the "war on terror", produce the lies that produced the war that produced the whistleblowing that produced the smears that produced the blown cover that produced the cover-up that produced the legal investigation that produced the political and legal crisis that now swirls around Karl Rove.

Jonathan Schell, author of The Unconquerable World, is the Nation Institute's Harold Willens Peace Fellow. The Jonathan Schell Reader was recently published by Nation Books. This article will appear in the forthcoming August 15 issue of The Nation Magazine.

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25 July 2005

WASHINGTON, July 25 -- Halliburton announced on Friday that its KBR division, responsible for carrying out Pentagon contracts, experienced a 284 percent increase in operating profits during the second quarter of this year.

The increase in profits was primarily due to the Pentagon's payment of "award fees" for what military officials call "good" or "very good" work done by KBR in the Middle East for America's taxpayers and the troops.

Despite the scandals that plague KBR's military contracts, the Pentagon awarded $70 million in "award" fees to the company, along with four ratings of "excellent" and two ratings of "very good" for the troop logistics work under the Army's LOGCAP contract.

The Pentagon has provided preferential treatment to Halliburton on a number of occasions, including the concealment from the public of critical reports by military auditors.

Audits conducted by the Pentagon's Defense Contract Audit Agency determined that KBR had $1 billion in "questioned" expenses (i.e. expenses which military auditors consider "unreasonable") and $442 million in "unsupported" expenses (i.e. expenses which military auditors have determined contain no receipt or any explanation on how the expenses were disbursed).

But the top Pentagon brass ignored these audits and rewarded KBR's work anyway.

Halliburton's earnings announcement comes on the heels of new reports showing the Iraq and Afghan wars have already cost U.S. taxpayers $314 billion and that another ten years of war will cost $700 billion.

In another coup for Halliburton, a federal judge this month decided that whistleblowers may not sue U.S. companies for fraud if payment for services was made in Iraqi, not U.S., money. Halliburton was paid over $1 billion in Iraqi oil money during the first 15 months of the occupation. The judge's ruling means the False Claims Act cannot be used to offer large rewards to corporate insiders who reveal wrongdoing or overcharges for services. The law is considered America's most successful deterrent against contractor fraud, but the judge's decision will help Halliburton and other contractors avoid tough scrutiny in Iraq.

Comment: Not of this should be surprising. After all, VP Dick Cheney is still receiving severance pay from the company he headed before taking the top spot with GW.

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LaRouche Warns:
Cheney's `Guns of August' Threaten the World
This release was issued on July 27 by the LaRouche PAC political action committee.

Lyndon LaRouche, on this Wednesday afternoon, issued an international alert, covering the period of August 2005, which is the likely timeframe for Vice President Dick Cheney, with the full collusion of the circles of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to unleash the recently exposed plans to stage a preemptive tactical nuclear strike against Iran. The danger of such a mad, Hitler-in-the-bunker action from the Cheney circles would be even further heightened, were the United States Congress to stick with its present schedule, and go into recess on July 30 until September 4. With Congress out of Washington, the Cheney-led White House would almost certainly unleash a "Guns of August" attack on Iran.

LaRouche based this assessment on a series of factors, reported to him over the recent days, beginning with the qualified report, from a former U.S. intelligence official, published in the American Conservative magazine, that Dick Cheney ordered the Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to prepare contingency plans for a conventional and tactical nuclear strike against hundreds of targets in Iran, in the event of a "new 9/11-style attack" on the United States. As EIR reported several months ago, the Bush Administration, under CONPLAN 8022, had already placed the relevant "mini-nukes" under the control of theater military commanders, as part of a new Global Strike doctrine, a doctrine originally conceived when Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s.

The recent bombings in London have provided Tony Blair with his own "Reichstag fire" incident, and the full resources of the British "liberal imperial" faction can now be expected to weigh in behind the brutish Cheney circles in Washington.

The most compelling evidence of this "Guns of August" plan, LaRouche emphasized in discussions with colleagues, is the pattern of eyewitness reports of Dick Cheney's state of mind. Cheney is living out an American version of "Hitler in the bunker," lashing out at Republican Senators who have dared to resist his mad tirades, accusing anyone who fails to follow his orders—including senior members of the United States Senate—of being "traitors" and worse.

And finally, LaRouche identified a series of reports from highly qualified Congressional, military, and intelligence community sources, who have confirmed the essential features of the original American Conservative account of Cheney's Strangelove schemes for a preemptive nuclear strike on Iran. These sources have emphasized that these Iran plans are not merely military contingency studies, but represent the policy intentions of Cheney.

Comment: Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe LaRouche has insider info, maybe he is just connecting the dots. Time will tell.

What is scary in forecasts such as this is that the world is in such a state that they are believable.

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MKs pass bill, pare down family reunification for Palestinians
Last update - 02:14 28/07/2005
By Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondent

The Knesset voted 59-12 Wednesday to grant citizenship to Palestinians married to Israeli citizens only if the Palestinian men are 35 and older and if the women are 25 and older.

The decision relates to an emergency measure that was due to expire July 31. According to that measure, Palestinians were banned altogether from becoming Israeli citizens under family unification policies.

Wednesday's decision, a vote on an amendment to the Citizenship Law, relaxes the emergency regulations by allowing some Palestinians to become citizens, but writes into law limitations on family unification that had previously been considered temporary.

The plenum decision comes after this week's Knesset Interior and Environment Committee vote in favor of the amendment.

MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz-Yahad) criticized the amendment as racist. She said it discriminates against Israeli Arabs and damages the value of equality.

Arab MKs also slammed the Knesset decision.

The Mossawa Center, an advocacy center for Israeli Arabs, said easing the citizenship restrictions was "insufficient."

"The law expands the citizenship authority of the Shin Bet and causes serious damage, primarily to children who will be separated from their parents and will no longer get welfare rights," the center said.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said the Knesset decision has already seriously damaged many families since March 2003, when the interior minister decided to freeze the naturalization process for Israeli-Palestinian couples.

Knesset reduces ability of Palestinians to sue state

The Knesset plenum on Wednesday approved amendments to the so-called "Intifada Law," which reduce to a minimum the ability of Palestinians to sue the state for damages incurred during the intifada.

The MKs voted 54-15 in favor of the second and third readings of the government-proposed amendments, with one abstention.

The amendments, which will be enacted retroactively from September 2000, effectively block Palestinians from submitting damage claims against the State of Israel.

MKs from the Likud, Labor, Shinui, Shas, National Religious Party and National Union parties voted in favor of the amendments. MKs from Meretz-Yahad and the Arab parties, as well as Labor MK Yuli Tamir, voted against, and Labor MK Danny Yatom abstained.

According to the amendments, Palestinians are allowed to sue for damages only in two types of cases: those in which an Israel Defense Forces soldier was convicted of traffic-related charges, and those in which a Palestinian was physically harmed while being held in military detention.

Palestinians are also permitted to appeal courts' rejections of compensation claims before a special committee.

The defense and justice ministries proposed the amendments after the court system was flooded by thousands of Palestinian damage suits against the state, totalling hundreds of millions of shekels.

The amendments have elicited harsh criticism from the left.

The amendments "place a stain on Israel's law books," said Meretz-Yahad MK Zehava Gal-On. "The state, in shaking off responsibility and [acting] negligently, is granting immunity to illegal actions by the security forces - and this is discrimination."

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Ghosts of the 1915 U.S. Invasion Still Haunt Haiti's People
by Edwidge Danticat
Miami Herald

On July 28, 1915, U.S. forces invaded Haiti, launching an occupation that would last 19 years.

The U.S. invasion came in the wake of President Woodrow Wilson's professed commitment to make the world safe for democracy. However, as soon as the Marines landed in Haiti, Wilson's administration remapped the country into police departments, shut down the press, installed a lame-duck government, rewrote the constitution to give foreigners land-owning rights, took charge of Haiti's banks and customs and instituted a system of compulsory labor for poor Haitians.

Those who resisted the occupation -- among them a militant peasant-run group called Cacos -- were crushed. In 1919, U.S. Marines in blackface ambushed and killed the Cacos' fearless leader, Charlemagne Peralte, mutilated his corpse and displayed it in a public square for days.

By the end of the occupation, more than 15,000 Haitians had lost their lives. A Haitian gendarmerie was trained to replace the U.S. Marines, then proceeded to form juntas, organize coups and terrorize Haitians for decades.

Although U.S. troops were officially withdrawn from Haiti in 1934, the U.S. government maintained economic control of the country until 1947.

Ninety years later, there are many, including some current foreign-policy experts, who maintain that Haiti, like recently occupied Iraq, should be declared a failed state. This could make way for another lengthy takeover. After all, some of the conditions that existed in Haiti in 1915 are still present today: rampant insecurity, political uncertainty, proximity to U.S. shores and concern for American interests, no small part of which is the fear of an exodus of boat people headed for Miami.

However, while Haiti tantalized the West at the beginning of the 20th century with an entryway to the Panama Canal and mineral, fruit, coffee and sugar resources, it seems to have little left to currently exploit except the desperation of a people, whose most basic needs have often been neglected by its own leaders.

Few Americans are aware that their country once occupied ours, and for such a long time. This is not surprising, for as one Haitian proverb suggests, while those who give the blows can easily forget, the ones who carry the scar have no choice but to remember.

While it takes American leaders and their armed enforcers just a few hours, days, weeks, months to rewrite another sovereign nation's history, it takes more than 90 years to overcome devastations caused by such an operation, to replace the irreplaceable, the dead lost, the spirits quelled, to steer an entire generation out of the shadows of dependency, to meet fellow citizens across carefully constructed divides and become halfway whole again.

The 1915-1934 U.S. occupation is not the only problem that Haiti has or has ever faced in the last nine decades. Yet it is one more hurdle that the country has had to overcome in a long and painful cycle of destruction and reconstruction, self-governance and subjugation.

Ninety years is a long span of time in the life of a woman or a man, but it is a short phase in the life of a country.

Iraq, take heed.

Edwidge Danticat, a native of Haiti, is the author of several novels, including, most recently, Anacaona, Golden Flower.

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Rumsfeld tells Iraqis to get on with it
July 28, 2005

BAGHDAD - Visiting US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Iraqi leaders to "get on with it" in preparing a new constitution, while an Iraqi official said US-led forces could hand over security for 10 cities by December.

Rumsfeld, on an unannounced visit to Baghdad, called on Iraqi leaders to draft and approve a constitution without delay, warning that any hold-up would fan the insurgency.

In a reminder of the unrelenting violence, at least 10 people were wounded in a mortar attack on a busy central Baghdad bus station, an interior ministry official said.

"Now's the time to get on with it," Rumsfeld told the travelling press as he flew in from Tajikistan for talks with Iraqi leaders and US commanders.

Any delay "would be very harmful to the momentum that is necessary." [...]

Rumsfeld said he would also discuss turning over control of the estimated 15,000 detainees in the country to Iraqis, and planned to press Iraqis to work on the legal status of US forces after a constitutional government is in place. [...]

A senior Iraqi security official said he believed US-led forces would hand over security in 10 major cities to Iraqi forces by December. [...]

The commander of US forces in Iraq, General George Casey, said he believed US forces could be reduced substantially by early next year. [...]

Rumsfeld urged the Iraqi government to get tougher with neighbouring Iran and Syria, and stop them harbouring insurgents or allowing foreign fighters across their borders.

He said the Iraqis "need to demonstrate that they are a big country, they are a wealthy country, that they have been around for a long time, and they don't like it."

Khalilzad echoed that, telling reporters that the Iraqi government must engage their neighbours and discourage them from pursuing "unhelpful" policies.

"Iraq is going to succeed. It's going to be an important country in this region. It's very important for the neighbours of Iraq to understand that, and establish good relations with an emerging, very powerful, successful country," he said.

"Iraqis are likely to remember who was helpful and who was unhelpful in this transition." [...]

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Sharon thanks Chirac, calls him a 'great leader'

PARIS, July 27 (AFP) - France and Israel marked their new-found friendship Wednesday as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saluted President Jacques Chirac as a "great leader" and thanked him for his combat against anti-Semitism.

Speaking before a working lunch at the Elysee palace, Sharon - who is on a three-day stay in France -- said he was "absolutely convinced that this visit will lead to an added reinforcement to relations between France and Israel."

"I would like to thank the French president for his firm struggle against anti-Semitism," he said. "Israel considers Jacques Chirac as one of the world's great leaders."

Sharon's remarks confirmed the widely-reported reconciliation between the two countries, after several years of mutual recriminations over French policy in the Middle East and a surge in attacks on the country's 600,000-strong Jewish minority.

"The least one can say is that relations were very chilly indeed. And that that is now all over," an aide to the Israeli leader told AFP in an off-the-record briefing.

"Israel and France want to use the opportunity to improve their bilateral relations in every field including military and strategic. Issues on which we share the same view have never been so numerous," the aide said.

"Israel is even in favour of a more significant role for France in settling the conflict with the Palestinians," he said.

Commentators said that major changes in the Middle East have convinced both countries that they share an interest in healing a rift that has soured relations for at least the last four years.

These include the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the election of his successor Mahmoud Abbas, the assertion of Lebanese independence and the withdrawal of Syrian troops -- and above all Israel's planned pull-out from Gaza in three weeks.

After viewing Sharon for many years as an archetypal hardliner, the French authorities have revised their view of the 77-year-old prime minister and now see him as a man capable of tough decisions for peace, commentators said.

"Ariel Sharon's determination and his personal investment in a risky political endeavour have superseded the less than flattering image of the man that prevailed in Parisian circles," said the conservative daily Le Figaro in an editorial.

Chirac, 72, was expected to praise Sharon for his initiative, but also to urge the Israeli leader to look beyond the Gaza pull-out to more confidence-building measures that can help relaunch the peace process with the Palestinians.

Sharon was later to see Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, and on Thursday he has talks with French Jewish leaders before flying home on Friday.

Franco-Israeli relations hit a low-point a year ago when Sharon said the climate of French anti-Semitism was so bad that all Jews there should emigrate "immediately" to Israel. Chirac's office retorted that the Israeli leader would be unwelcome in France until his remarks were clarified.

Since then Israeli politicians have regularly praised France's tough line in combating anti-Semitism, most of which is blamed on members of the country's five-million-strong Arab minority.

On Monday the French interior ministry released figures showing that the number of attacks and insults directed at Jewish targets had fallen dramatically over the last year -- 290 in the six months to June compared with 561 in the same period in 2004.

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Georgian Opposition Leader Says Grenade Attack on Bush Was Staged by Authorities

Created: 28.07.2005 15:51 MSK (GMT 3), Updated: 15:51 MSK

The leader of the Georgian opposition Labor Party said on Thursday that the grenade attack on U.S. President Bush in Tbilisi on May 10 was prepared and staged by Georgia’s secret services in a bid to improve the image of Georgian President Saakashvili and present him as a staunch fighter for democracy.

“On the basis of the analysis of the information I had received I want to announce for the whole world that the May 10 terrorist attack against Bush was carried out by Saakashvili’s special services in order to salvage the destroyed image of the dictatorship,” Russia’s RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Shalva Natelashvili as saying.

“By this Saakashvili wanted to make the media mention his name along with the U.S. president’s name as a man who fights for democracy and who is a victim of terrorism,” Natelashvili said.

The politician claimed that the suspected attacker, Vladimir Arutunyan, has been an agent of Georgia’s special services for many years and got his weapons from them.

After presenting this theory Natelashvili said that he would demand that Georgian investigators are not allowed to handle the case and that Arutunyan is handed over to American justice.

Vladimir Arutunyan was detained in Tbilisi on July 20 and charged with terrorism on July 26. He has pleaded guilty to tossing a hand grenade at the stage during George Bush’s public speech in Tbilisi on May 10. The grenade did not explode because it was wrapped too tightly in a handkerchief and the impact was too light to set off the primer.

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Russia’s Putin Wants Preventive Strikes Against Terrorists

Created: 27.07.2005 13:59 MSK (GMT 3), Updated: 13:59 MSK

President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian interior ministry to conduct preventive strikes against terrorists.

“Your activity in this direction should have a preventive character,” Putin was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying during a meeting with top interior ministry officials in the Kremlin.

“We understand the serious tasks that the Russian law enforcement agencies are currently facing, first of all, the interior bodies and internal troops.”

Putin added that recent strikes in London, Iraq, Turkey, Israel and Egypt, as well as “crimes against authority officials in Chechnya and Dagestan” show that terrorism remains the main global threat. “In this case, Russia will fulfill an important part of the joint work in the area of the fight against terrorism.”

Senior Russian Army officials have already spoken of the country’s right to carry out preventive strikes against terrorist. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in June that Russia is even ready to start a preventive war against other countries to avert terrorist threats.

“The right to the strike has been announced, and we reserve it for ourselves,” he said, adding that such a war is possible only if “we are 100 percent sure that the threat (to Russia) is right here and right now.”

In March, he said that Russia’s right to carry out such strikes is “supported by the UN Security Council resolution adopted after the tragedy in Beslan.”

Comment: The "war on terror" is indeed global. All global leaders are capitalising on it to justify "preventative strikes" against the threat du jour.

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Blast rips through train in northern India 2005-07-28 21:31:31

NEW DELHI, July 28 (Xinhuanet) -- An explosion ripped through Delhi-bound Shramjeevi Express in Uttar Pradesh in northern India on Thursday evening and casualties were feared.

The blast occurred in the general compartment of the train at around 5.25 p.m. in Harpal Ganj area, the Press Trust of India quoted railway sources as saying.

The train was approaching New Delhi from Patna, the capital of India's northeaster state of Bihar.

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When is initial not initial?
By David M Lenard
Asia Times

HUA HIN, Thailand - So far this week, the People's Bank of China (PBoC), China's central bank, has issued two major statements in an attempt to clarify questions that had arisen after last week's "Thursday surprise" revaluation of the yuan. The first statement, which gave written responses to questions submitted by the media, provided (on careful reading) several interesting insights into the thinking of the PBoC and the Chinese government as they transition the country to a new currency regime. But the most recent statement, whose official English translation was only posted on the central bank's website the afternoon of July 26, appears to be an attempt to counteract the effects of a widely quoted remark PBoC chairman Zhou Xiaochuan is said to have made during a July 23 TV interview, which many journalists interpreted as implying that further revaluations of the yuan were inevitable.

The 'initial' flap

On Saturday, July 23, PBoC chairman Zhou Xiaochuan (China's counterpart of Federal Reserve Bank chairman Alan Greenspan) was interviewed on China Central Television (CCTV), China's state-controlled television network. An account of the interview which appeared in the official People's Daily Online stated:

"Zhou said that [last week's foreign exchange reform] contains three key points: the yuan to US dollar pegging system is switched to a basket of foreign currencies, and at the same time the yuan floats according to market demand-supply relations; the exchange rate will be floating within a reasonable band; and an initial adjustment is made, that is, a 2% rise of [the yuan] in value against the US dollar."

It is not clear whether CCTV or People's Daily understood the implications in English of the phrase "initial adjustment", and it is certainly possible that the sense of Zhou's remarks might have been lost in the translation from Mandarin to English. But it is clear that many Western journalists, at various publications, including the Financial Times, Bloomberg, and Ireland's Finfacts, interpreted the "initial adjustment" language as a clear implication that further rises in the value of the yuan were inevitable.

This was no trivial misunderstanding. One of the biggest risks China courted when it decided to make last Thursday's revaluation so small (only 2.1%) was that speculators would react by purchasing large amounts of yuan in the belief that further revaluations would follow, yielding a nearly riskless profit. So the PBoC felt compelled to correct what it saw as a serious misinterpretation by the Western media of Zhou's remarks. The resulting "Solemn Statement by the Spokesman of the People's Bank of China" appeared on the PBoC website Tuesday, first in Chinese and then, several hours later, in English.

The 'solemn statement'

The statement complained that "certain foreign media [have] misled the public and even wrongly speculated that the revaluation of [the yuan] by 2% was only the first step in a series of adjustment[s]", then asserted pointedly: "First, a revaluation of [the yuan] by 2%, effective in the beginning of the exchange rate regime reform, does not in the least imply an initial move which warrants further actions in the future." The text then added: "Second, the 2% revaluation of [the yuan] was calculated and conducted to maintain the [yuan] exchange rate basically stable at an adaptive and equilibrium level." After a third point about "gradualism", the statement concluded with another veiled slap at the Western press: "The PBoC welcomes the attention and support on the reform of the [yuan] exchange rate regime from all walks of life, both at home and abroad, and is looking forward to responsible and objective coverage of the reform based on correct understanding."

Interestingly, an earlier Reuters report on the PBoC's statement, which was based on the Chinese version, was slightly more specific about the alleged misunderstanding; according to this version, the confusion centered on the object of the word "initial". The Reuters translation of the first point stated: "First, the initial 2% adjustment of the yuan exchange rate level referred to adjustment at the initial stage of the reform of the yuan exchange rate formation mechanism. That does not mean that the first-step adjustment was 2% and there will be further adjustments to follow." In other words, the adjective "initial" modified "stage of reform", not "adjustment". This interpretation seemed a bit hard to swallow in light of the English text which appeared in People's Daily, in which the word "initial" and the word "adjustment" are regrettably, and irrefutably, in proximity. Indeed, this version of the PBoC text was reminiscent of the frequent "he didn't say what you think he said" remarks by the various press secretaries of the late US President Ronald Reagan, whose oral utterances were notorious for their frequent divergence from the actual policies of his administration.

Did Zhou make a gaffe?

No firm conclusion can be made without parsing his remarks in Chinese and consulting various interpreters. The Reuters text implies that he did, but this may simply have been an error introduced by the Reuters interpreter. Irrespective of whether the misunderstanding was created by Zhou, Western journalists, or some combination of the two, the incident clearly showed how important China's central bank, and its chairman, have become to the world economy. For many years, Federal Reserve chairmen have understood the importance of being very cautious with their remarks: a single careless sentence from the Fed chairman can result in a frenzy of activity on financial markets worldwide. If nothing else, the "initial" episode showed that the chairman of China's PBoC now occupies a position of comparable importance to Alan Greenspan, and must be equally careful with his words.

David M Lenard is a correspondent for Asia Times Online in Thailand.

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Yuan hits high as tests waters
By Lu Jianxin
July 28, 2005

SHANGHAI - China's central bank on Thursday let the yuan close at its strongest level since last week's revaluation, apparently taking another small step toward the greater flexibility planned for its new trading system.

The yuan's 0.06 percent rise to 8.1080 per dollar was tiny by the standards of free-floating currencies but larger than any move since last Thursday's 2.1 percent revaluation.

"It was not quite an appreciation," said a dealer with a foreign bank. "But such tolerance showed the central bank is testing the waters for a wider trading box for the yuan." [...]

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Former Miami Commissioner Commits Suicide
6:56 am EDT July 28, 2005

MIAMI -- Suspended Miami Commissioner Art Teele fatally shot himself in the head in the lobby of the Miami Herald building late Wednesday afternoon.

Teele survived the shooting, and was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in extremely critical condition.

Teele, 59, had one gunshot wound to the head and before he was taken from the lobby, he had lost a great deal of blood, witnesses said.

According to witnesses, just after 6 p.m., Teele walked into the lobby, spoke calmly with a security guard and shook his hand. Then Teele took a pistol out of a bookbag and held it to his head.

The Herald's Web site says that Teele told the security guard to give a message to Herald columnist Jim DeFede. Teele said that he wanted DeFede to tell his wife that he loved her.

Then when police arrived, he pulled the trigger.

Employees of the newspaper said they heard one shot and the Herald building was immediately evacuated.

Miami rescue workers said that Teele was conscious while being transported to the hospital, and when asked to blink his eyes, he did so.

About two hours later, at 7:50 p.m., Teele was declared dead. His wife Stephanie was at his side when he died.

Defede was fired just hours after Teele's death because he allegedly recorded a phone conversation with Teele without the politician's permission.

In a statement released Wednesday night, Defede said, "In this tense situation, I made a mistake. The Miami Herald executives only learned about it because I came to them and admitted it. I told them I was willing to accept a suspension and apologize both to the newsroom and our readers. Unfortunately the Herald decided on the death penalty."

The former commissioner faced a series of troubles over the past few years, including federal charges for money laundering and mail and wire fraud.

In the most recent charges, Teele was accused of helping a minority company win more than $20 million worth of electrical contracts at Miami International Airport, when the work ended up actually being done by a much larger, non-minority company.

If he had been convicted on the federal charges, Teele could have faced up to 20 years in prison.

Teele was convicted in March of threatening a Miami-Dade police officer. He was also awaiting trial on other fraud charges in state court.

Local 10 learned that Teele was going to be arrested this week on other state charges.

In the introduction to a cover story that came out in the Miami New Times Wednesday, reporter Francisco Alvarado wrote:

"Art Teele is a man of very big appetites, and because of them he is now in very big trouble ... the once-powerful politician is possessed of a seemingly insatiable craving for all things illicit -- adulterous sex, illegal drugs, bribery and extortion."

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Forty Afghans deported on Franco-British flight
PARIS, July 27 (AFP)

A group of 40 Afghans have been deported on a flight organised jointly by the French and British authorities, the interior ministry in Paris said Wednesday.

The flight took off from Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris on Tuesday evening carrying 25 Afghans detained in France and 15 in Britain.

The two countries announced recently that they would collaborate in returning failed asylum-seekers to their countries of origin.

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Two men questioned in France re Madrid attacks
WERVICQ-SUD, France, July 26 (AFP)

Two men were taken in for questioning early Tuesday by police at a northern French town on the Belgian border as part of the inquiry into the 2004 Madrid bombings, according to a source close to the investigation.

At dawn, heavily armed police searched a house in a residential area of the border town of Wervicq-Sud, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) north of Lille.

A Moroccan man and his son with French nationality were taken to Lille to be placed in detention, the source said.

The names and address of the two men were found by Spanish police charged with the inquiry into the attacks on commuter trains in Madrid last year that killed 191 people. the source

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Payola Shocker: J-Lo Hits, Others Were 'Bought' by Sony
Monday, July 25, 2005
By Roger Friedman

I always say when people ask me that the so-called vipers of the movie business would not last a day in the record business. Now Eliot Spitzer's office has decided to prove the point.

"Please be advised that in this week's Jennifer Lopez Top 40 Spin Increase of 236 we bought 63 spins at a cost of $3,600."

"Please be advised that in this week's Good Charlotte Top 40 Spin Increase of 61 we bought approximately 250 spins at a cost of $17K …"

Ironically, it didn't help, as the memo notes that the company actually lost spins — or plays of the record — even though they laid out money for them.

See above: The internal memos from Sony Music, revealed today in the New York state attorney general's investigation of payola at the company, will be mind blowing to those who are not so jaded to think records are played on the radio because they're good. We've all known for a long time that contemporary pop music stinks. We hear "hits" on the radio and wonder, "How can this be?"

Now we know. And memos from both Sony's Columbia and Epic Records senior vice presidents of promotions circa 2002-2003 — whose names are redacted in the reports but are well known in the industry — spell out who to pay and what to pay them in order to get the company's records on the air.

From Epic, home of J-Lo, a memo from Nov. 12, 2002, a "rate" card that shows radio stations in the Top 23 markets will receive $1000, Markets 23-100 get $800, lower markets $500. "If a record receives less than 75 spins at any given radio station, we will not pay the full rate," the memo to DJs states. "We look forward to breaking many records together in the future." [...]

Comment: Payola is old news. What is interesting is to see this as an example of how our minds are molded, how our tastes are shaped.

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Nearly all of Illinois declared drought disaster
Wed Jul 27, 8:53 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Agriculture Department on Wednesday declared virtually all of Illinois a disaster area eligible for low-interest loans because of crops withered by this summer's drought.

Only one county -- Alexander County in the southernmost tip of the state -- is not included in the disaster declaration.

"I am very pleased that USDA is able to offer this assistance to Illinois farmers and ranchers struggling due to the drought and look forward to visiting with them in the near future," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a statement.

Illinois has been gripped by drought ranked as "extreme" or "severe" in recent weeks by the U.S. Agriculture Department's weather experts. State rainfall from March through June was just 8.5 inches, about half the normal level.

On Monday, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, requested federal disaster aid. He said more than 117,000 farmers statewide have reported production losses, including 74,000 who estimated the drought would destroy at least one-third of their crops.

Last year, Illinois was the nation's second largest corn producer, harvesting nearly 20 percent of the record 11.8 billion bushel U.S. crop. [...]

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Moderately strong earthquake hits Tokyo area
28 Jul 2005 12:06:22 GMT
Source: Reuters

TOKYO, July 28 (Reuters) - A moderately strong earthquake jolted eastern Japan and Tokyo on Thursday, the Meteorological Agency said, less than a week after a strong quake hit the capital, injuring at least 18.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the 7:15 p.m (1015 GMT) quake, which was measured at a preliminary magnitude of 5.1, and the agency said there was no danger of a tsunami.

Some bullet trains stopped but soon resumed operations, while Tokyo's Haneda airport briefly closed for runway checks.

The focus of the tremor was 50 km (31 miles) below the surface of the earth, in Ibaraki prefecture, slightly northeast of Tokyo, the Meteorological Agency said.

A Reuters witness said the quake shook Tokyo's National Stadium, which was packed with fans for a soccer match between Britain's Manchester United and Japan's Kashima Antlers.

The earthquake measured four on the Japanese intensity scale, which measures ground motion. A quake with that reading causes hanging objects to swing considerably and makes dishes in a cupboard rattle.

On Saturday afternoon, Tokyo was shaken by a 6.0 magnitude quake that halted trains for hours and briefly closed airports. It was not immediately known whether Thursday's quake was an aftershock. [...]

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Bulgaria unearths Thracian riches
Crown wreath found near Zlatinitsa
A crown wreath of gold was found among the ruler's belongings

Archaeologists in Bulgaria have unearthed the treasure-filled tomb of what is thought to be a Thracian king.

A golden crown, ring, armour and other artefacts dating back 2,400 years were found with the skeleton in a tomb near the south-eastern town of Zlatinitsa.

National Museum of History director Bozhidar Dimitrov said the Thracian king was a young ruler who was buried with two horses and a favourite dog.

Excavations of burial mounds across Bulgaria have unearthed similar finds.

But Professor Dimitrov says there is something different about this burial.

Ring clue

"He seems to have died suddenly," he told the BBC News website.

Ring found near Zlatinitsa
Lived in what is now Bulgaria, Romania, northern Greece and Turkey from around 4000 BC
Conquered by Rome in AD 46
Not thought to have had own alphabet
Described by Herodotus as "savage, blood-thirsty warriors"
Finds include ceramics, bronze, gold and silver jewels

"Like the Egyptians built pyramids and used them as temples before they died, the Thracian rulers built mounds. When they died they were buried inside and earth was piled up on top. But here there was no mound."

The bones are still being excavated and will be sent to Sofia for examination. But Professor Dimitrov says the ruler seems to be a young man in his prime who was given a lavish funeral.

As well as the crown wreath and animals, the tomb included decorated bronze, iron and copper armour and body wear, engraved with scenes from Greek mythology.

The large ring on his finger shows a Thracian ruler on a horse being crowned by a Greek goddess.

"This is important as in Thracian religion this is an obvious ritual for when someone is crowned king," said Professor Dimitrov.

Investigations are continuing as to the identity of the ruler. The professor's theory is that he was a ruler called Sevt, referred to in Greek writings relating to the period.

He said Sevt inherited a region from his uncle and, faced with a disgruntled local population, paid the Greek army to help take control.

But he says there were around 23 kingdoms in Bulgaria during the same period, so finding the exact identity will require further research.

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Scientists find genetic evidence for southern origin of modern humans in East Asia
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences
July 27, 2005

Genetic studies have provided evidence for an African origin of East Asian populations, but their prehistoric migration routes in the Asia region remain a long-standing controversy. On the basis of the genetic evidence generated so far, particularly from Y-chromosome data, CAS researchers recently discovered that early modern humans entered the region from its southern part, and then they made a northward migration about 25,000 - 30,000 years ago.

Researchers have been debating on modern human origins for a long time. Some of them, mostly archaeologists, believe that the abundant hominid fossils found in China and in other regions of East Asia show evolutionary continuity, not only in morphological characters, but also in spatial and temporal distributions. This observation implies that the evolution from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens and then to Homo sapiens sapiens (modern man), took place in East Asia as well as in Africa. On the other hand, the Out-of-Africa hypothesis, which suggests that local populations outside Africa were completely replaced by modern humans who originated in Africa, has been supported by extensive genetic evidence and by archaeological findings.

The hypothesis was reinforced in 2001 by a study of Y chromosomal DNA, in which an international consortium including Chinese researchers showed that East Asian populations migrated out of Africa and suggests that little or no interbreeding of Homo erectus and Homo sapiens occurred after the migration. However, the prehistoric peopling of East Asia by modern humans still remains controversial with respect to early population migrations, which is highlighted by genetic disparity found by previous genetic studies between the northern and southern populations of the East Asians. Geneticists speculate that the disparity must have something to do with the itinerary covered by the forebears of today's Eastern Asian people in their prehistory migration from the Grand Rift in the East Africa.

A recent study made by a research team headed by Prof. Su Bing from the CAS Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ) has shed new light on the issue. As reported in July 14 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, the researchers carried out a systematic genetic screening of the 2,332 male individuals sampled as 40 representative populations from East Asia by comparison of Y chromosome's genetic tags. Their study shows that the Y-chromosome haplogroup specific to East Asias is more diverse in southern population than their northern cousins and the southern population is found to have their own specific haplogroups while only part of East Asian specific haplogroups exist in the northern populations.

Based on these findings, the KIZ scientists came to a conclusion that the southern population should be the ancestral while the northern population was its posterity as a result of the former's migration from the south to the north which occurred about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago. In other words, the earliest inhabitants in the Orient had been the southern population originating from east Africa and then they migrated to the north. So the earliest migratory route of modern humans in East Asia should be from south to north.

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Roman legion founded Chinese city

Florence, July 25 - Roman soldiers who disappeared after a famous defeat founded a city in eastern China, archaeologists say .

The phantom legion was part of the defeated forces of Marcus Licinius Crassus, according to the current edition of the Italian magazine Archeologia Viva .

The famously wealthy Crassus needed glory to rival the exploits of the two men with whom he ruled Rome as the First Triumvirate, Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar .

Crassus decided to bring down the Parthian Empire - a fatal choice .

His forces were routed in 53 BC outside the Mesopotamian city of Carre - today's Harran - and he was beheaded .

According to the Roman historian Pliny, the Romans who survived were taken to a prison camp in what is now northern Afghanistan .

When Rome and Parthia sued for peace in 20 BC - 33 years after Crassus's last battle - all trace of the prisoners had disappeared .

The survivors of Crassus's legion became a mystery, walking ghosts in Roman legends. A Chinese historian in the Han Empire, China's second dynasty, provided an answer to the riddle in the early 3rd century AD .

The historian, Bau Gau, wrote that a Chinese war leader defeated a group of soldiers drawn up in typical Roman formation .

Crassus's old troops must now have been in their fifties and sixties .

Bau Gau said the foreigners were moved to China to defend the strategically important eastern region of Gansu, near today's city of Yongchang .

This is where the survivors founded the city of Liquian, the only site in China where the mark of Ancient Rome can be seen. 'Liquian' is said to mean 'Roman' .

The city has been virtually unknown outside China although hundreds of people visit it each year, admiring traces of defensive wallworks and pieces of broken pottery .

The number of visitors is certain to rise. Crassus, celebrated as the richest Roman of them all in pre-Imperial days, was never satisfied with his wealth and had an undying lust for glory .

Eighteen years before his doomed expedition to Parthia he put down a slave revolt led by the Thracian slave Spartacus. In Stanley Kubrick's epic film he was played by Laurence Olivier .

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Mystery Methane Maker
Wanted Dead or Alive
by David Tenenbaum
Astrobiology Magazine

The detections of methane in the martian atmosphere have challenged scientists to find a source for the gas, which is usually associated with life on Earth. One source that can be ruled out is ancient history: Methane can survive only 600 years in the martian atmosphere before sunlight will destroy it.

If the global concentration of methane on Mars is 10 ppb, then an average of 4 grams of methane is being destroyed every second by sunlight. That means about 126 metric tons of methane must be produced each year to ensure a steady concentration of 10 ppb.

There is an outside chance that the methane is being delivered to Mars by comets, asteroids, or other debris from space. Calculations show that micrometeorites are likely to deliver only 1 kilogram of methane a year -- far short of the 126-ton replacement level. Comets could deliver a huge slug of methane, but the interval between major comet impacts averages 62 million years, so it's unlikely that any comet delivered methane within the past 600 years.

If we can rule out methane delivery, then the methane must be manufactured on Mars. But is the source biology, or processes unassociated with life?

In hot water?

A small percentage of Earth's methane is made through non-biological ("abiogenic") interactions between carbon dioxide, hot water and certain rocks. Could this be occurring on Mars? Perhaps, says James Lyons of the Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCLA.

These reactions require only rock, water, carbon and heat, but on Mars, where would the heat come from? The planet's surface is stone cold, averaging minus 63 degrees C. Volcanoes could be a source of heat. Geologists think the most recent eruption on Mars was at least 1 million years ago -- recent enough to suggest that Mars is still active, and therefore hot deep below the surface.

A trickle of methane averaging 4 grams per second could come from such a geological hot spot. But any martian hot spot must be deep and well-insulated from the surface, since the Thermal Emission Imaging System on Mars Odyssey found no locations that are at least 15 degrees C warmer than the surroundings. However, Lyons thinks it's still possible that a deep body of magma could be supplying the heat.

In one computer model of simplified martian geology, a cooling body of magma 10 kilometers deep, 1 kilometer wide, and 10 kilometers long created the 375 to 450 degrees C temperature that drives abiogenic methane generation at mid-ocean ridges on Earth. Such a body of hot rock, Lyons says, "is perfectly sensible, there's nothing strange about it," because Mars probably retains some heat from planetary formation, much like Earth.

"It encourages us to think that this is a plausible scenario for explaining methane on Mars, and we would not see the signature of that dike (body of hot rock) on the surface," says Lyons. "That's the angle we are pursuing; it's the simplest, most direct explanation for the methane detected."

Past the Looking Glass

Although no one can rule out abiogenic sources for the methane on Mars, when you find methane on Earth, you are usually seeing the work of methanogens, ancient anaerobic microbes that process carbon and hydrogen into methane. Could methanogens live on Mars?

To find out, Timothy Kral, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas, began growing five types of methanogens 12 years ago in volcanic soil chosen to simulate martian soil. He's now shown that methanogens can survive for years on the granular, low-nutrient soil, although when grown in Mars-like conditions, at just 2 percent of Earth's atmospheric pressure, they become desiccated and go dormant after a couple of weeks.

"The soil tends to dry out, and we have been able to find viable cells; they are still alive, but they don't produce methane anymore," Kral says.

Methanogens need a steady source of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. While carbon dioxide is abundant on Mars, "hydrogen is a question mark," Kral says.

Vladimir Krasnopolsky, a research professor at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., detected 15 parts per million of molecular hydrogen in the atmosphere of Mars. It is possible that this hydrogen is escaping from a deep source in the martian interior which methanogens could use.

If methanogens are deep inside Mars, the methane gas they produce would slowly rise toward the surface. Eventually it could reach a pressure-temperature condition where it would get trapped in ice crystals, forming methane hydrate.

"If there were a subsurface biosphere, methane hydrate would be an inevitable consequence, if things behave as they do on Earth," says Stephen Clifford of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas.

And there's a fringe benefit, Clifford adds. Methane hydrates, "would be an insulating blanket that would substantially reduce the thickness of frozen ground on Mars, from several kilometers at the equator, to maybe less than a kilometer." In other words, methane hydrate would both store evidence of life and insulate any life that remained from the ultra-cold surface temperatures.

Although data on conditions a kilometer or so below the martian surface are non-existent, the growing picture of the complexity, size and adaptability of Earth's underground biosphere certainly improves the chance that life exists in comparable conditions inside Mars. Earth's underground biosphere is composed largely of microbes, some of which live at depths, pressures and chemical conditions once thought inhospitable to life.

Deep inside Mars may be a hardscrabble place to make a living, but methanogens are no wimps, Kral says. "They are tough, durable. The fact that they have been around probably since the beginning of life on Earth, and continue to be the predominant life form below the surface and deep in the oceans, means they are survivors, they are doing extremely well."

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