Wednesday, August 03, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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Detoxifying self-deception

Acharya S can prove Jesus Christ never existed, and your preacher can't prove ‘He' did

By John Kaminski
skylax@comcast.net

Once you base your whole life striving on a desperate lie, and try to implement that lie, you instrument your own undoing.
- Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

It's like taking candy away from a baby. The candy's no good for the kid, but it will take him many years and much learning to realize the favor you did for him. In the meantime he'll whine about how mean you were and how wrong it was to do that. But when he's a healthy adult, because of the very thing you took away, he may actually develop the judgment and wisdom to thank you for what you did. In any case, he'll be much healthier.

So too with beliefs. If you believe in magic, that some special phrase will keep you safe from harm in all situations and even immunize you from death, you can't help but fail to perceive the true reality of the world before your eyes - that all things must pass, even though subtle aspects of us may journey onward through our offspring.

It's a beautiful system when you think about it, one that governs every living thing in the known universe. And every living thing is more than satisfied with it - in fact, prospers in its vital joy because of it - except one. Us.

Humans, normally very discerning in every aspect of their infinitely varied lives, possess absolutely no standards at all when it comes to one subject - death. It is often said that instinct is stronger than reason, and in all the realms of human endeavor, nowhere is this more evident than in the amusingly inventive strategies humans develop to pretend they don't really die.

The second most common human trait after survival is the urge to prosper and be secure, so it should come as no surprise that, very early on in our history, perceptive and enterprising people, upon recognizing this universal human need to deny that we die, rushed to develop and market products that satisfied the public demand to alleviate this fear. Every culture ever known to man left significant traces of this spiritual commerce.

You know the argument. Can we live our lives and accept that nothing follows? Or must we deceive ourselves and invent, with the power of our infinite imaginations, a way past this daunting wall of mortality. Well, the answer's in, and the human species has clearly opted for the unprovable hope. But exactly what is the price of this willful self-deception?

This is no attempt to demean many thousands of years of honest effort by sincere people to distill lessons essential to healthy living into practical codes of conduct that reinforce the cause of harmony and provide useful paths to peace of mind. But given the nature of our affliction, of the terror of death we all have that needs to be repressed for our own tranquility, it is not difficult to understand how those who wield these secret formulas for happiness might just be tempted to exploit them for their own selfish purposes. It's called the temptation of power, and I don't think I need to explain it to you.

Furthermore, given that this problem has a higher priority than any other we face in our entire lives, and also that to each of us, the effectiveness of the cure is far more important than the actual legitimacy of the method, this leaves us - as we know from history - with a situation ripe for exploitation.

Lastly, there is the little matter of actually knowing the secrets of the universe. This we consign to the province of priests, and we pay them to make us happy, to make up a story that ties up all these loose, bleak ends which we don't want to think about. But what if these beliefs hurt us in ways we don't realize. Even as they may make us comfortable with simple tales that magically explain everything, do we really understand what the concepts of communion and resurrection really mean in terms of how we relate to our neighbors and our world? What is the danger when logic is subsumed by the magic of religious belief?

First, we must understand the process by which people think.

There is alluring evidence that ancient cultures actually possessed much more realistic religions than our own contemporary society. And they were developed by studying the sky. During the day, it was obvious that all life depended on the beneficent properties of the Sun. And during the fearful night, humans studied the stars for their cues to survival, and projected their own thoughts onto these phenomena. These two things form the basis of all existing religions, according to Acharya S.

How do people think? We anthropomorphize everything. It is how we learned to understand things. We talk to our plants and our stuffed animals. We give them names. Thus is it has always been, with all perceived phenomena. This is how stars became people, or at least animals. From Amun Ra, piloting his boat of heaven across the sky all those centuries ago, to the Great Bear, whom we still see every night.

The Sun became Krishna. The moon Inanna. Their setting and disappearance created new gods reborn daily, or monthly or yearly. They all got names, different ones, depending on where you lived. Osiris. Tammuz. Orpheus. Mithra. Millions of names. Millennia passed. One day, after thousands of years of war and peace, of fighting and loving, of civilizations rising and falling, suddenly, after a Roman conclave of regional movers and shakers, the approved deity's name became Jesus. And he was still the Sun, and his disciples were the stars (the twelve signs of the Zodiac, actually).

Or so Acharya says, and I believe her. Why? Because it's logical. It's actual history. And though still myth, it is empirical rather than manipulative, a causative explanation rather than the magic trick of some unfathomable man who showed up one day and claimed he was God to people who wrote it all down and put it in a book called the Bible.

That's the short version. The long version is two thousand years of suppressed scholarship, kept secret because it simply didn't gibe with the propaganda organized religions produce to attract and addict adherents to their own particular interpretation of cosmic events and everyday life. But this more scientific explanation has always been out there, and reasonable, thinking people, who aren't blinded by their own fear and cowed by their own self-inflicted spiritual gurus, have always known about it.

And Acharya S. has gathered it, folded it neatly and logically into two encyclopedic volumes of scholarly excellence. These are titled "The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold" (1999) and "Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled" (2004). Both are published by Adventures Unlimited Press.

Look at the world today. Endless wars, festering hatreds, a multitude of government lies telling us the world is one way when we suspect that's not really the way it is. We should listen to our own voices and not blindly accept the smug statements of "authority" figures. How did we learn to do that? Guess. Just take a wild guess.

This story is not about taking your God away. Only an idiot would insist that men created the sunset, the orbits of the planets, or baby drool. This story is about analyzing the terminology you use to explain the way you see your life and the universe. And most of all, it is about the lies we have been told to keep us in our mental chains while those who control us - our preachers, priests, rabbis, mullahs, lamas and other assorted "holy" men - reinforce fear, abet slaughter, and profit mightily from the conspicuous lies that they promote as sacred gospel.

Sorry to be so blunt. You need to pay attention to this. The future of human society depends on your understanding what you are reading at this moment, and even that is kind of an understatement.

To our contemporary Christianized Western minds, the most astonishing thing Acharya S. proves beyond doubt in her two scholarly tomes is that the much-revered personality known as Jesus Christ is a completely contrived fictional character, and that Christianity has no substance whatsoever that was not stolen - created whole cloth out of pagan myths and traditions - from many of the world's more ancient religions.

How does she prove this?

• By telling you about the many other "saviors" who existed prior to the creation of Jesus, many of whom were born in late December of virgin mothers and were of divine origin, most of whom performed miracles, held high morals, healed the sick, were the catalysts for salvation, were called "Savior" or "Redeemer," and were crucified; whose legends all contain elements that were later plagiarized by unscrupulous Roman plutocrats when they got together to construct the Jesus myth as a method to usurp and unify preexisting creeds to better control their diverse and obstreperous masses.

• By analyzing all the contributions of known writers of that ancient time, through decades of study of the works of skeptical historians who have been researching this hoax for centuries, and observing that virtually none of these early historians ever mentions Christ or Christians, except for the works of a special few, and deeper analysis reveals these works to have been tinkered with, or outright fabricated, for the benefit of the manipulative politicians who created the most powerful mindlock human society has ever known.

• And by providing a detailed and accurate portrait of the actual evolution of religious myth, with a clear explanation of how all messiahs are merely anthropomorphic representations of the Sun, and how all the other mythological supporting characters, particularly when they are described in groups of 12, are merely personalities projected onto the stars.

This, not the debunking of the Jesus myth, is the overarching value of the book, and makes Acharya, in my sincere estimation, the ranking religious philosopher of our age, simply because she cuts through the sanctimonious crap and deals empirically and forthrightly with the facts.

But more than that, in this age of deliberate disinformation and mass mind control, the works of Acharya provide those who wish to think deeply about the nature of the human condition with a startling survey of priestly misbehavior and deliberate deception, which is what religion really is - a magic show that exploits people's need for answers to unanswerable questions.

As such, her works furnish us with an essential tool to help us understand why we are powerless against an onslaught of facile mass media that keep telling us things we know are not true. What the state does the church first perfected with threats, violence, and forcing us to believe in our inmost hearts things that were never true.

But it's the Jesus argument that gets everybody's attention.

Or, as Acharya puts it, " ... there is no evidence for the historicity of the Christian founder, that the earliest Christian proponents were as a whole either utterly credulous or astoundingly deceitful, and that said ‘defenders of the faith' were compelled under incessant charges of fraud to admit that Christianity was a rehash of older religions."

Let's start with legendary figures of far greater antiquity whose attributes appear to uncannily resemble the much later legend known as Jesus Christ.

"The Jesus story incorporated elements from the tales of other deities recorded in this widespread area of the ancient world, including several of the following world saviors, most or all of whom predate the Christian myth," Acharya writes.

These include (and I'll edit this list, because it's very long)

• Adad and Marduk of Assyria.

• Adonis, Aesclepius, Apollo, Dionysus, Heracles, and Zeus of Greece.

• Alcides of Thebes, divine redeemer born of a virgin around 1200 BCE.

• Attis of Phyrgia.

• Baal or Bel of Babylon/Phoenicia.

• Buddha and Krishna of India.

• Hermes of Egypt/Greece.

• Hesus of the Druids.

• Horus, Osiris, and Serapis of Egypt.

• Indra of Tibet/India.

• Ieo of China.

• Issa of Arabia, born of the Virgin Mary in 400 BCE.

• Jupiter/Jove of Rome.

• Mithra of Persia/India.

• Odin/Wodin/Woden/Wotan of Scandinavia.

• Prometheus of Caucasus/Greece.

• Quetzalcoatl of Mexico.

• Salivahana of southern India, "who was a divine child, born of a virgin, and son of a carpenter."

• Tammuz of Syria, the savior god worshipped in Jerusalem.

• Thor of the Gauls.

• Zoroaster of Persia.

Attis of Phrygia was born on December 25 of the Virgin Nana, and considered the savior who was slain for the salvation of mankind. His body as bread was eaten by his worshippers. He was crucified on a tree, descended into the underworld and was resurrected annually on March 25 as the "most high god," many centuries before Christianity was invented.

Buddha was born on December 25 of the virgin Maya, and his birth was accompanied by a special star, wise men and angels. He was baptized in water with the holy ghost present. He was resurrected and will return in the "latter days" to judge all men. His legends extend back more than a thousand years before Christ.

The Greek god of wine was actually a savior (as any drinker will tell you). Dionysus, born of a virgin, who rode in a triumphal procession on an ass, is considered by some scholars as the prototype of Christ.

The real model for all saviors, according to Acharya, was the Egyptian god Osiris. Quoting Barbara Walker, from "The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" (Harpers, 1983):

Of all the savior gods worshipped at the beginning of the Christian era, Osiris may have contributed more details to the evolving Christ figure than any other. Already very old in Egypt, Osiris was identified with nearly every other Egyptian god and was on the way to absorbing them all. He had well over 200 divine names. He was called the Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of Gods. He was the Resurrection and the Life, the Good Shepherd, Eternity and Everlastingness, "the god who made men and women to be born again." (Sir Wallis) Budge (once the preeminent Egyptologist) says, "From first to last, Osiris was to the Egyptians the god-man who suffered, and died, and rose again, and reigned eternally in heaven. They believed that they would inherit eternal life, just as he had done ...

Some claim Osiris lived up to 22,000 years ago. Acharya writes:

As Col. James Churchward naively exclaims, "The teachings of Osiris and Jesus are wonderfully alike. Many passages are identically the same, word for word."

Acharya also exhaustively compares the details of Krishna and Mithra, as well as Prometheus, Quetzalcoatl, and Serapis. The reader soon begins to realize that all these stories the same. Conclusion?

It is evident that Jesus Christ is a mythical character based on these various ubiquitous godmen and universal saviors who were part of the ancient world for thousands of years prior to the Christian era.

Now, once you realize that, you know you have to prepare for the onslaught of true believers, who, when you mention that Jesus was a fictional character, are going to come at you with every verbal weapon they have retained during their misguided and propagandized lives.

The Bible is not a valid historical document. It is work of political and philosophical propaganda, designed to deceive and control, and take advantage of people's need to have answers to questions that really have no answers, as far as human perception is concerned.

Often, fundamentalist Christians try to cite classical historical sources to buttress their unshakable belief that Jesus resurrected and (according to George Bush and the neocons) will return one day to blow up Jerusalem and lead his followers to a pleasant destination in the sky.

This may be the most valuable aspect of Acharya's work. She considers the name of every known historian of the period and explains why what Christian fanatics insist they said can't possibly be accurate.

Using thousands of footnotes from serious scholars over the many centuries, Acharya deftly explains all the revisions, interpolations and forgeries that allow some of the diehard faithful to argue that there actually is historical evidence of the existence of Jesus - when in fact there is not.

All the great first century historians - Pliny the Elder and Younger, Suetonius, Dio Chrysostom, Livy, Petronius, Plutarch, Seneca and many others whose works are still extant - never make any mention of the founder of Christianity.

Even though he lived in Jerusalem during the time Jesus was supposed to have existed, the well-known Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus of Alexandria never mentions Christ or Christianity even once. Acharya quotes religious scholar John Remsburg about Philo:

He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him.

The well-traveled Philo had pleaded the Jewish cause in Rome, knew of Pilate, the Essenes and the Therapeuts, yet never once mentioned Jesus or Christians.

As Acharya surmised: "One would think that if ... Jesus had suddenly appeared in Philo's homeland, during his life, when he was a sentient adult, Philo would not only have noticed but would have jumped for joy, and written reams about the glorious event, seeing the promises and prophecies of Israel fulfilled. It could not be more obvious that nothing of the sort happened during Philo's lifetime."

But most Christian apologists don't even know about Philo. The one historian they most often use to legitimize their claims that Jesus Christ was an actual historical personage is Flavius Josephus. And Acharya devotes a considerable amount of space demolishing those claims.

Josephus (37-95 CE) is the most famous Jewish historian of the time. Acharya writes:

... in the entire work of Josephus, which constitute many volumes of great detail encompassing centuries of history, there is no mention of Paul or the Christians, and there are only two brief paragraphs that purport to relate to Jesus. Although much has been made of these "references," they have been dismissed by scholars and Christian apologists alike as forgeries ...

Many scholars investigating the matter believe that single mention of Jesus in all of the works Josephus was forged - interpolated - centuries later by an unscrupulous Christian named Bishop Eusebius.

In her second book, Acharya recounts the analysis of Bible expert Dr. Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768):

Mattathias, the father of Josephus, must have been a witness to the miracles which are said to have been performed by Jesus, and Josephus was born within two years after the crucifixion, yet in all the works he says nothing whatever about the life or death of Jesus Christ; as for the interpolated passage it is now universally acknowledged to be a forgery.

But perhaps the most curious episode Acharya covers involves the Roman historian Tacitus, whose oft-cited passage about Nero persecuting the Christians is revealed as a fraud. And that leads to an interesting story so typical of the questionable construction of the Christian myth.

It seems that this particular mention by Tacitus, who lived in the first century CE, does not appear in literature until the 15th century, because numerous scholars have noted that not even the most ardent Christian apologists ever mentioned it until then. But that's not the worst part.

Perhaps the quintessential bogus reproduction of a classical source for devious Christian purposes resides the famous passage in "The Annals" by Tacitus that describes Nero blaming Christians for the burning of Rome. Unfortunately for the Roman church's propaganda machine, numerous experts have deduced that since neither Eusebius nor Tertullian nor any of the other devoted church fathers knew of the existence of this passage - because they surely would have mentioned it because it was so vividly sympathetic to their cause - it is likely that this entire book - The Annals of Tacitus, which is a staple of some classical libraries - is a 15th century forgery about a 1st century event meant to improve the nonexistent historical veracity of the Christian church.

But the history of real religion, ah, that's a different and happier story. Acharya quotes Indian scholar S. B. Roy from his "Prehistoric Lunar Astronomy":

To the ancients ... heaven was the land of gods and mystery. The sky - the Dyaus of the Rig Veda - was itself living. The stars were the abodes of the gods. The shining stars were indeed themselves luminous gods. Astronomy was the knowledge of not of heavenly bodies, but of heavenly beings.

"Astronomical or astrotheological knowledge reaches back to the dawn of humanity, appearing widespread and becoming highly developed over a period of millennia," Acharya writes, and after a thorough examination of the subject, concludes:

The church fathers and other Christian writers also acknowledged this astrotheology and its antiquity, but denigrated it as much as possible. Why? ... the knowledge about astrotheology would reveal the Christians' own religion to be Pagan in virtually every significant aspect .... the restoration of this knowledge is not to be despaired but rejoiced.

Summation:

The Christian religion - as well as its monotheistic cousins, Judaism and Islam - are all based on primitive vestiges from a dim past that certainly most of their adherents do not adequately understand and doubtless many of its top officials do not comprehend, either. These are cannibalism and child sacrifice.

The tangent to cannibalism can be clearly seen in the act of Holy Communion, in which the faithful are urged to swallow "the body of Christ." The example of child sacrifice occurs in the myth of "God" supposed sending his only son into the corporeal realm only to be tortured and murdered. This has always sounded to me like deep cover conditioning to indoctrinate believing dupes into being willing to die, or sending their children off to die, for their blessed country.

I don't know of any literature that adequately analyzes the psychological ramifications of these two symbolically barbaric acts. But I do know that billions of people have participated in these crazed rituals and based their lives on the veneration of them. And we see too clearly the results of the belief paradigm in the senseless murder of billions over the century generated by the blind and savage faith in this supposedly holy cause.

Though there are infinite examples, the two that initially come to mind are the centuries of slaughter in the Western hemisphere by Spanish conquistadores and British pioneers who regarded different-looking fellow humans as mere animals eligible for thoughtless extermination. And now, there are the perverse rape- murders of innocent Iraqis by drug-addled and uranium-poisoned American, British and Israeli heroes. Same ballgame, different day - every single bit of it directly attributable to this bloodthirsty Judeo-Christian legacy.

And I also know one other important thing in these matters. When you live your life convinced that reality is a certain way and base your life on it, your life will turn out to be exactly what you believe. I believe there is a direct connection between the great Christian lie that you will survive death if you do what the priest says, and the everpresent reality of violence in the world.

The church teaches you to believe in the infallibility of what its leaders say, and to follow their orders no matter what, or you will roast in the fires of hell. History shows us, clearly, that no matter what denomination, the church fathers have lied terribly and caused billions of needless deaths. This lying, sanctimoniously emulated by government leaders - be they kings or presidents - has transferred this supernatural authority to the secular realm, and allowed our leaders to dupe their populations into endless killing for what our leaders said was right, but for what were ultimately deceitful reasons because they were based on deliberate lies. Just like the Christian religion, and its monotheistic cousins.

The population's willingness to believe these lies relates directly to what their holy men told them - believe this, or you will suffer in hell for eternity.

What you believe is what you become, and this attitude engendered by the Christian church and its maniacal monotheistic counterparts have, with their transparent lies that have been swallowed by millions of gullible people, lived up to the impotent threats of their insincere promises by creating hell on earth to convince you that they are right.

This holy mindlock has never been more obvious - nor more lethal - than it is today, in the year 2005, in which a despotic U.S. president who insists he talks to God has killed and is killing hundreds of thousands people all over the world, for reasons that anyone with a whit of sense knows are lies.

The two voluminous, solidly referenced works of the woman known only as Acharya S - "The Christ Conspiracy" and "Suns of God" - provide a valuable first step for many bewildered believers who have come to disbelieve the doubletalk of their religious leaders in detoxifying the self-deceptive misinformation that most of us have been bombarded with throughout our lives.

This knowledge has always been known, but it has been suppressed by the spin machine that organized religion, conferring its corrupt grace on tyrants for centuries, has always censored. The real picture of our misguided Christian believer was probably best expressed by St. Augustine himself all those long and agonizing years ago, in this passage recounted by Acharya S:

... one of the most famed and respected Christian doctors was St. Augustine, who "stakes his eternal salvation" on his assertion that he preached the gospel to "a whole nation of men and women, who had no heads, but had their eyes in their bosoms."

• • •

Footnote: Just who exactly is Acharya S and why is she so hard to find? Really, it's because of the persecution she has been forced to endure because of her work. Right now, not even her publisher knows where she is. She has gone underground after several unpleasant incidents during the past few years, one of which was the kidnapping of her son, a crime that was happily resolved after some period of intense stress that may have involved a well-known New Age guru.

A study in contradictions, Acharya S is obviously a nom de plume for an archeologist, historian, mythologist and linguist who has the qualifications, courage, and integrity to so professionally and thoroughly debunk the collective religious spin machine. But to talk to Acharya S is markedly different than reading her work, about the like the difference between a biker chick and a college professor, leading some to speculate if the rough-edged radical and the creator of the meticulously argued and scholarly tomes which bear her name are actually the same person.

Nevertheless, her two meticulously footnoted books present the lay reader and professional historian alike with a stark assessment of the outright lies the Christian church has told about its namesake. You can order the books from http://www.adventuresunlimitedpress.com/ or find out more about Acharya at http://truthbeknown.com/

If you read these books, it's extremely doubtful you'll ever go to church again. And if you do, you must carry with you the reverberating question: What happens to you when you know that what you have believed in the deepest recesses of your own heart is false?

All this time, in the name of a bogus magic formula stolen from others and renamed with lie upon lie, billions have been slaughtered, and billions more about to be. Open your eyes, for the real God's sake, for the beauty of this universe that gives us life, that does not distinguish between man or beast, but gives everything that breathes this exquisite gift, with only one, single string attached - a string attached to everything that lives.

John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida and writes essays seen on hundreds of websites around the world. These stories have been collected into two anthologies, "America's Autopsy Report" and "The Perfect Enemy." In addition, "The Day America Died: Why You Shouldn't Believe the Official Story of What Happened on September 11, 2001," is a 48-page booklet written for those who still believe the government's phony version of the events of that tragic day. For information on his books, check out
http://www.johnkaminski.com/

Comment: It appears from John Kaminski's summary of the work of Acharya S that we are in agreement with her main arguments. Of course, until we read the books ourselves, final judgment is held in reserve. One area where we may have a different understanding is in the real origins of the Jesus myth as described in the book The Book of Q and Christian Origins by Burton L. Mack. Through work of textual analysis of the synoptic gospels, Mack uncovers the original text that is the foundation upon which the Christian Church was built. It is the voice of a teacher who was closer to Greek cynic philosophy than to Judaism. He probably wasn't Jewish at all.

Mack's work also shows how subsequent layers were added to the texts over time as the Jesus myth arose and solidified.

Acharya proposes that the Jesus of the gospels was likely a composite figure, and this may well be the way the gospels were constructed. Our work is to try to discern the thread of truth behind the lies, to uncover the esoteric truths hidden and obscured by the additional layers of lies as the Church formed and usurped the original teachings.

For more information on the historicity of Jesus, take a look at the review of The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins by Burton L. Mack. And then check out what the Most Dangerous Cult in the World has in store for us. Also check out Laura's series on Who Wrote the Bible for an objective look at the origins of the Book that is causing us so many problems today.

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Oldest known Bible to go online
BBC

A manuscript containing the oldest known Biblical New Testament in the world is set to enter the digital age and become accessible online.

A team of experts from the UK, Europe, Egypt and Russia is currently digitising the parchment known as the Codex Sinaiticus, believed to originally been one of 50 copies of the scriptures commissioned by Roman Emperor Constantine after he converted to Christianity.

The Bible, which is currently in the British Library in London, dates from the 4th Century.

"It is a very distinctive manuscript. No other manuscript looks like this," Scot McKendrick, the head of the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Department in the British Library, told BBC World Service's Reporting Religion programme.

"On each very large page, about 14-16 inches (34-37cm). It has a Greek text written in four columns.

"That's the really distinct feature of it - layers of text - it's one of the fascinating aspects of it and it shows us how the Biblical text developed over a certain period, how it was interpreted in those crucial early years of Christianity."

Stolen

The digitising project is particularly significant because of the rarity and importance of the manuscript.

The original document is so precious that it has only been seen by four scholars in the last 20 years.

The Codex Sinaiticus contains the whole of the Christian Bible; specifically, it has the oldest complete copy of the New Testament, as well as the Greek Old Testament, known as the Septuagint, which includes books now regarded as apocrypha.

It is named after the place it was written, the monetary of Saint Catherine in Sinai, Egypt, set beneath the mountain where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments.

It remained there until the middle of the 19th Century when a visiting German scholar, Constantin von Tischendorf, took parts of it away to Germany and Russia. To this day, the monastery officially regards it as stolen.

In total the codex is now in four portions, the largest of which - 347 of the 400 pages - is that at the British Library. The rest are split between Leipzig University Library, the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg, and the monastery.

Free website

All four institutions are co-operating to digitise the entire text, as well as using hyperspectral imaging to photograph it, in order to find any hidden or erased text.

"To do it also in infra-red or ultra-violet photography, as in forensics, you'll find out any hidden aspects of it as well," explained the British Library's digitisation expert Lawrence Pordez.

The British Library bought the codex from Russia for £100,000 in 1933
He added that a further advantage of using photographic of the manuscript to make a facsimile of it was that were "no chemicals involved".

"It's also faster to produce," he added.

For his part, Dr McKendrick said he estimated it would be about four years before the codex is fully available online.

This is to give time "to essentially photograph the manuscript, to conserve it, to transcribe anew the whole of the text, and to present that in a new form electronically".

The British Library will also develop a free website to present the manuscript.

The website will both "present the manuscript - just the facts as it were, the images and the transcription - but also interpret it for different audiences, from scholars right through to people who are just interested in this manuscript or in Christianity".

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Feds Says Chicago Carpenter Helped Nazis
By MIKE ROBINSON
Associated Press
August 2, 2005

CHICAGO - An aging Chicago carpenter should be stripped of his U.S. citizenship because he was a member of a police unit that helped the Nazis round up Ukrainian Jews for forced labor and death camps during World War II, federal attorneys argue.

"He acquiesced in conduct contrary to civilization and decency," government attorney Gregory Gordon told U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan as a civil trial against Osyp Firishchak began Monday.

Firishchak, 86, came to the United States after World War II, settled in Chicago and obtained American citizenship. But the Justice Department's Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations says he lied on his visa application and broke other rules.

The government says he joined the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police and helped in widespread roundups of Jews who were sent to forced labor camps and death camps after the Germans occupied Ukraine in 1941.

If Der-Yeghiayan rules against him, Firishchak would be stripped of his citizenship. The government then likely would seek to deport him.

Defense attorney James Maher III told the judge that Firishchak was never a member of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police and that there is no proof he did any of the things the government claims. Maher also said there is nothing to suggest Firishchak was dishonest on his visa application.

The government's first witness, Holocaust researcher Dieter Pohl, described what happened to the Jewish population in the city of Lviv at the hands of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police.

"There was constant violence against the Jews," Pohl said.

Firishchak's name of surfaced after the fall of the Soviet Union when the newly independent Ukraine opened its archives to Holocaust researchers.

Government attorneys acknowledged they have only a smattering of direct evidence that specific acts allegedly were committed by Firishchak. But they say they can prove he was part of the auxiliary police throughout the war and that the unit was instrumental in carrying out the Holocaust in Ukraine.

Comment: Firishchak's case is not the only recent story of the US government hunting alleged Nazis or those who helped them...

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Case of Ex-Nazi Living In U.S. Comes to a Head
By Richard A. Serrano
Los Angeles Times
Thursday, July 21, 2005

RACINE, Wis. -- Two government lawyers knocked at the door of a brick, ranch-style house here two years ago and, getting no answer, wandered around back. There they found an old man sitting alone on a patio chair. He wore a cap to shield himself from the afternoon sun. He noticed that one of the lawyers was pregnant, and he cleaned off another chair. Sit down, he said.

Josias Kumpf had been living in the United States for nearly half a century. He had been an American citizen for 40 years. He had married, raised five children and worked for 35 years stuffing sausage at a factory in Chicago. Retired and a widower, his health failing, he was living at his daughter's home in Racine.

His visitors were prosecutors from the Justice Department. They had come to inquire about his immigration status. There was a more urgent matter too, but before they could get to it, they recalled, Kumpf, 80, laughed out loud. He knew why they were there. Without prompting, he snapped them a "Sieg Heil'' salute. They talked for more than an hour, and Kumpf signed a four-page, 17-point, handwritten sworn statement that the lawyers drafted right there on the patio.

Yes, he had been a "soldier for Hitler.'' Yes, he had served in the feared Nazi SS corps and stood sentry over Jewish prisoners as an SS Death's Head guard in concentration camps in Poland.

But, he added, "I have nothing to hide. I don't do nothing to nobody. My fingers are clean.''

In May, Kumpf became the 100th former Nazi successfully prosecuted by the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations. A federal judge in Milwaukee ordered his citizenship revoked and, should his appeals fail, Kumpf will be deported.

The Justice unit was formed in 1979 to identify, hunt down and remove former Nazis who came into the United States after World War II. With a staff of lawyers and historians, the office found Kumpf after matching newfound Axis records and SS muster rolls with U.S. immigration documents.

In all such cases, federal officials are racing the clock. Just as America's WWII veterans are dying, so are those who fought on the other side. And so too are the concentration camp survivors who might be able to identify their persecutors.

As memories fade, accounts of individual atrocities become murky. So it may never be known for sure what role Kumpf played on Nov. 3, 1943, at the Trawniki labor camp in Poland.

This much is known: Jewish prisoners had been forced to dig a network of trenches and then lie down in them, naked. Guards machine-gunned them, a hundred at a time, until thousands filled the earth. Nazis blared music from the camp loudspeakers to drown out the cries all that morning, noon and night. When it was over, up to 10,000 corpses were set ablaze.

Kumpf says that he cannot be held responsible for what happened that day. But at least one survivor of Trawniki, Vivian Chakin of Beverly Hills, Calif., scoffs.

Chakin, like Kumpf, immigrated to this country; she too became a U.S. citizen and raised a family here. But she lost her parents and her only brother in the camps. She wants Kumpf gone.

"He had a good life. He had a family,'' said Chakin, 78. "That's what all my people never had. That's what my brother never had. So why not let him feel a little bit of the suffering? Shouldn't he be punished at last?''

Kumpf and his family will not discuss his past while he is appealing the deportation order. But his story is documented in depositions, sworn statements, historical records and other papers that make up the government's case to remove him.

An ethnic German, Kumpf was born April 7, 1925, in Neu Pasua, Yugoslavia. He attended the local Lutheran church and, after less than three years in school, he quit to help his father on their small horse farm. Like most in the town of 8,000, the Kumpfs were poor. [...]

The German army marched into Neu Pasua in fall 1942. Kumpf was 17 when he was ordered to report for duty at the local train station.

Any young man not boarding the train, Kumpf said, "would be put up against the wall.'' Some tried to run, and they "were brought back before the rest of us and shot.''

Valdis O. Lumans, a German historian retained by Kumpf's lawyer, said Kumpf "certainly was not one of the enthusiastic ones. He did not volunteer. They came and took him.''

The army made Kumpf a private and gave him a gray and green SS uniform. His hat had a skull sewn on it, as did the collar of his shirt. A Nazi tattoo was etched under his left arm. He was issued firearms and trained to use a rifle, a machine pistol and a light machine gun.

For 11 months, he served as a tower guard and sentry at several camps in Germany. Thousands of prisoners arrived by truck or rail. Thousands never left.

"I watch them, how they go,'' he said. Many went to the crematoriums. "I hear they put the people in and that's all,'' Kumpf testified. "They don't come out no more, that's what I hear.'' [...]

Elizabeth B. White, chief historian for the Office of Special Investigations, said that on March 21, 1956, Kumpf applied for an immigrant visa to enter the United States. He visited the U.S. consulate in Salzburg, Austria, and stated on his application that his place of residence from 1942 to 1945 was "German Army: Germany, Poland, France.''

During Kumpf's interview, White said, "he did not disclose his service as an armed SS Death's Head guard.'' Richard Bloomfield, then the U.S. vice consul in Austria, told prosecutors the system regrettably was lax.

Although Bloomfield could not specifically recall Kumpf, he processed countless visa applications. "I wouldn't ever have anybody admit he was a guard in a Nazi concentration camp,'' Bloomfield said. "That's why they got visas. They lied. But if I knew they had been a guard in a concentration camp, usually that would be a reason to deny it.'' [...]

Kumpf received an immigrant visa and, on May 25, 1956, entered the United States via New York. He settled in Chicago, and went to work at a Vienna Sausage factory.

Eight years later, he petitioned to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Again, he listed his past as "German Army, 1942 to 1945.'' Under oath, Kumpf told a U.S. immigration examiner in Chicago that he had served only as a combat soldier. On May 9, 1964, he received a certificate of naturalization. [...]

Prosecutors already had reviewed interviews of other SS guards taken by German authorities in the 1960s, when that country was beginning to confront its past. [...]

On May 10, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee revoked Kumpf's citizenship. He ruled that Kumpf had misrepresented himself to immigration authorities. "American citizenship,'' the judge said, "is bestowed only upon those who meet fundamental standards imposed by law.'' [...]

While he waits, his fate all but out of his hands, Kumpf often has trouble sleeping, frightened awake by nightmares. For years he had hoped to keep his secret about Trawniki, and in fact he told prosecutors that he never even told his wife or children.

But now, he said, it is too late. "I'm in trouble, more in trouble'' than ever, he said.

Comment: Prosecutors reviewed interviews of other SS guards taken by German authorities in the 1960s - and yet it has taken until now to find Kumpf? Obviously, the US government hasn't made a very big effort to hunt down Nazi war criminals since World War II...

Remember Project Paperclip?

1945: Project Paperclip is initiated. The U.S. State Department, Army intelligence, and the CIA recruit Nazi scientists and offer them immunity and secret identities in exchange for work on top secret government projects in the United States. In other words, while other American agencies are hunting down Nazi war criminals for arrest, the U.S. intelligence community is smuggling them into America, unpunished, for their use against the Soviets. The most important of these is Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler's master spy who had built up an intelligence network in the Soviet Union. With full U.S. blessing, he creates the "Gehlen Organization," a band of refugee Nazi spies who reactivate their networks in Russia. These include SS intelligence officers Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg (who massacred Jews in the Holocaust), Klaus Barbie (the "Butcher of Lyon"), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked with Eichmann) . The Gehlen Organization supplies the U.S. with its only intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next ten years, serving as a bridge between the abolishment of the OSS and the creation of the CIA. However, much of the "intelligence" the former Nazis provide is bogus.

In his incredibly well-researched book UFOs and the National Security State, Richard Dolan writes:

By September 1945, Nazis were arriving in America, despite immigration laws that barred their entry. That month, 150 scientists, including rocket and propulsion expert Wehrner von Braun, began work at military bases across the US. The project was originally named Overcast, and run by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), a committee within the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), which in turn answered to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). President Truman signed on to the project over the objection of his scientific advisor Vannevar Bush, who thought it was "unwise". In May 1946, after the project was renamed Paperclip, US Army intelligence officers in Germany, with JIOA knowledge, smuggled SS officers into the US. It soon became necessary to lie to the State Department on a regular basis, and JIOA essentially set its own agenda, keeping the important decisions to itself. Throughout 1946 and 1947, many scientists, doctors, engineers, and intelligence officers arrived for work at US installations, even while some of them were wanted for war crimes. Through deception and threats, the JIOA succeeded remarkably in falsifying many of their backgrounds. But while State was out of the loop, the KGB was not. Like the Gehlen organization in West Germany, Overcast/Paperclip was compromised from the beginning by Soviet infiltration.

The American press did its part to present a sanitized version of Paperclip to the American public. In late November 1946, the War Department issued a five-page press release favorably describing how German scientists were helping Americans at Wright Field. In December, Life and Newsweek gave the story national coverage. The Nazi past of many of the scientists somehow escaped notice, as did the strong undercurrent of hostility many Americans at Wright Filed had toward these "former" Nazis. All in all, it was perfectly orchestrated War Department propaganda posing as news.

Army intelligence (G2) countered dissent against Paperclip.

Given the above information, the timing of the recent prosecution of two naturalized US citizens in their eighties for lying about being involved with the Nazis is rather interesting. Given the sheer number of Nazis brought to the US under Paperclip decades ago, why deport a few of them only now?

One advantage in doing so would be to make the torture, atrocities, and violation of international law committed by the US in the war on terror seem less likely in the minds of the masses. After all, how could the US be prosecuting evil Nazis while at the same time committing horrible crimes that are straight out of Hitler's playbook?

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Fisking the "War on Terror"
Juan Cole
Informed Comment

Once upon a time, a dangerous radical gained control of the US Republican Party.

Reagan increased the budget for support of the radical Muslim Mujahidin conducting terrorism against the Afghanistan government to half a billion dollars a year.

One fifth of the money, which the CIA mostly turned over to Pakistani military intelligence to distribute, went to Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, a violent extremist who as a youth used to throw acid on the faces of unveiled girls in Afghanistan.

Not content with creating a vast terrorist network to harass the Soviets, Reagan then pressured the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to match US contributions. He had earlier imposed on Fahd to give money to the Contras in Nicaragua, some of which was used to create rightwing death squads. (Reagan liked to sidestep Congress in creating private terrorist organizations for his foreign policy purposes, which he branded "freedom fighters," giving terrorists the idea that it was all right to inflict vast damage on civilians in order to achieve their goals).

Fahd was a timid man and resisted Reagan's instructions briefly, but finally gave in to enormous US pressure.

Fahd not only put Saudi government money into the Afghan Mujahideen networks, which trained them in bomb making and guerrilla tactics, but he also instructed the Minister of Intelligence, Turki al-Faisal, to try to raise money from private sources.

Turki al-Faisal checked around and discovered that a young member of the fabulously wealthy Bin Laden construction dynasty, Usama, was committed to Islamic causes. Turki thus gave Usama the task of raising money from Gulf millionaires for the Afghan struggle. This whole effort was undertaken, remember, on Reagan Administration instructions.

Bin Laden not only raised millions for the effort, but helped encourage Arab volunteers to go fight for Reagan against the Soviets and the Afghan communists. The Arab volunteers included people like Ayman al-Zawahiri, a young physician who had been jailed for having been involved in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat. Bin Laden kept a database of these volunteers. In Arabic the word for base is al-Qaeda.

In the US, the Christian Right adopted the Mujahideen as their favorite project. They even sent around a "biblical checklist" for grading US congressman as to how close they were to the "Christian" political line. If a congressman didn't support the radical Muslim Muj, he or she was downgraded by the evangelicals and fundamentalists.

Reagan wanted to give more and more sophisticated weapons to the Mujahideen ("freedom fighters"). The Pakistani generals were forming an alliance with the fundamentalist Jamaat-i Islam and begining to support madrasahs or hardline seminaries that would teach Islamic extremism. But even they balked at giving the ragtag Muj really advanced weaponry. Pakistan had a close alliance with China, and took advice from Beijing.

In 1985 Reagan sent Senator Orrin Hatch, Undersecretary of Defense Fred Iklé and others to Beijing to ask China to put pressure on Pakistan to allow the US to give the Muslim radicals, such as Hikmatyar, more sophisticated weapons. Hatch succeeded in this mission.

By giving the Muj weaponry like the stinger shoulderheld missile, which could destroy advanced Soviet arms like their helicopter gunships, Reagan demonstrated to the radical Muslims that they could defeat a super power.

Reagan also decided to build up Saddam Hussein in Iraq as a counterweight to Khomeinist Iran, authorizing US and Western companies to send him precursors for chemical and biological weaponry. At one point Donald Rumsfeld was sent to Iraq to assure Saddam that it was all right if he used chemical weapons against the Iranians. Reagan had no taste in friends.

On becoming president, George H. W. Bush made a deal with the Soviets that he would cut the Mujahideen off if the Soviets would leave Afghanistan. The last Soviet troops departed in early 1989. The US then turned its back on Afghanistan and allowed it to fall into civil war, as the radical Muslim factions fostered by Washington and Riyadh turned against one another and used their extensive weaponry on each other and on civilians.

In the meantime, Saddam, whom the US had built up as a major military power, invaded Kuwait. The Bush senior administration now had to take on its former protege, and put hundreds of thousands of US troops into the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. The radical Muslim extremists with whom Reagan and Bush had allied in Afghanistan now turned on the US, objecting strenuously to a permanent US military presence in the Muslim holy land.

From 1994 Afghanistan was increasingly dominated by a faction of Mujahideen known as Taliban or seminary students (who were backed by Pakistani military intelligence, which learned the trick from Reagan and which were flush from all those billions the Reagan administration had funneled into the region). In 1996 Bin Laden came back and reestablished himself there, becoming the leader of 5,000 radical Arab volunteers that Reagan had urged Fahd to help come to Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

In the meantime, the US had steadfastly supported Israeli encroachments on the Palestinian Occupied Territories and the gradual complete annexation of Jerusalem, the third holiest city to Muslims.

Since the outbreak of the first intifada, Israeli troops had riposted with brutality. Even after the Oslo accords were signed, the size of Israeli colonies in the Palestinian West Bank and around Jerusalem doubled.

A steady drumbeat of violence against Palestinians by Israelis, who were stealing their land and clearly intended to monopolize their sacred space, enraged the Muslim radicals that had been built up and coddled by Reagan.

In 1998, al-Qaeda and al-Jihad al-Islami, two small terrorist groups established in Afghanistan as a result of the Reagan jihad, declared war on the United States and Israel (the "Zionists and Crusaders"). After attacks by al-Qaeda cells on US embassies in East Africa and on the USS Cole, nineteen of them ultimately used jet planes to attack the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

The Bush administration responded to these attacks by the former proteges of Ronald Reagan by putting the old Mujahideen warlords back in charge of Afghanistan's provinces, allowing Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to escape, declaring that Americans no longer needed a Bill of Rights, and suddenly invading another old Reagan protege, Saddam's Iraq, which had had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no threat to the US. The name given this bizarre set of actions by Bush was "the War on Terror."

In Iraq, the US committed many atrocities, including bombing campaigns on civilian quarters of cities it had already occupied, and a ferocious assault on Fallujah, and tortured Iraqi prisoners.

In the meantime, the Bush administration put virtually no money or effort into actually combatting terrorist cells in places like Morocco, as opposed to putting $200 billion into the Iraq war and aftermath. As a result, a string of terrorist attacks were allowed to strike at Madrid, London and elsewhere.

Fred Ikle, who had been part of the Reaganist/Chinese Communist effort to convince Muslim fundamentalist generals in Pakistan--against their better judgment-- to allow the US to give the radical Muslim extremists even more sophisticated weapons, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal urging the nuking of Mecca.

Then in July, 2005, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced that there was not actually any "War on Terror:" ' General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the National Press Club on Monday that he had "objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution." ' (Question: Does this mean we can have the Bill of Rights back, now?)

The American Right, having created the Mujahideen and having mightily contributed to the creation of al-Qaeda, abruptly announced that there was something deeply wrong with Islam, that it kept producing terrorists.

Comment: The last paragraph of this article by Juan Cole is sums up the state of the world today. But we must keep in mind that the threat of "Islamic terror", even if it is a product of the good ole US of A and its great pal Israel, serves the interests of governments the world over.

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Will the U.S. ever leave Iraq?
Al-Jaazerah
8/3/2005

Last week, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said a "fairly substantial" U.S. troop withdrawal could begin by next spring.

At the same time, Iraq's U.S.-backed interim prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, during Rumsfeld's visit to Baghdad, called for a speedy U.S. withdrawal from the country.

And last month, 82 Iraqi parliamentarians called for the U.S. withdrawal. But there was no media coverage.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that his visit to Baghdad was aimed at urging Iraqi politicians to finalize the country's constitution which the U.S. says could lead to a viable national government, which might allow it to pull out some of its forces, pleasing the American public and lessening pressures on U.S. troops.

It seems that the Bush administration has finally realized the growing domestic opposition to what is increasingly seen as a failed war.

Republicans fear that the turmoil in Iraq and rising U.S. casualties may hurt them severely in the 2008 elections. They want to distract, divide and deflate the American and the international anti-war opinion.

They decided to withdraw some U.S. forces this winter or spring, but at the same time they are looking for a way to stay.

The Bush administration is taking a great risk. The U.S.-led Iraqi "security forces" cannot defeat the Iraqi resistance alone. As the U.S. begins withdrawal steps, the Iraqi forces may become even weaker in morale. If Iraq falls into the hands of the resistance will the U.S. intensify its air war instead of ground troops?

The Pentagon's strategic plan for Iraq calls for establishing four major air bases from which U.S. mobile, rapid-reaction units and air power will permanently control the country and the entire oil-rich Middle East.

Imperial Britain once followed the same plan in Iraq.

Under the plan, about 200,000 U.S.-led Iraqi "sepoys" (native forces) and police will maintain order in urban areas, supported by a strong secret police force.

The whole strategy depends on the ability of the U.S. army to field reliable Iraqi security forces to defend the U.S.-run regime. Otherwise, even a partial U.S. pullout will be impossible.

Vice-President Dick Cheney's recent claims that Iraqi resistance fighters were getting weaker were absurd. They also prove how dangerously detached from reality the administration has become. In fact, the Iraqi resistance is growing in numbers and combat effectiveness.

Currently, there are about 200,000 resistance fighters in Iraq, not 20,000 as the White House claims. There are about 135, 000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Experience from the twentieth century's colonial wars shows that occupation forces need a 10:1 troop superiority to defeat the resistance.

Iraq's former intelligence services have infiltrated the U.S.-backed Iraqi regime and its security forces. As in Vietnam War, double agents inform the resistance about every U.S. military operation in advance.

Moreover, Iraqis don't register for the U.S.-run army or police out of patriotism, it's due to the fact that the war-torn country suffers 70% unemployment. Many recruits are thus unreliable, combat-adverse mercenaries who serve to earn money, not fight.

Under the current circumstances, the U.S. efforts to make Iraqis fight and die for the U.S.-run regime in Iraq will be even less successful than was "Vietnamization" in the 1970s. In fact, Iraqi forces appear to be falling apart faster than they can be mobilized.

Iraqization doesn't seem to work and this means that the U.S. will decide to stay indefinitely in Iraq to guard the isolated, embattled pro-American regime – this is exactly what happened in Afghanistan.

Peace movements should press the U.S. to support a peace envoy to hold peace talks with all elements of the Iraqi resistance. Washington should also prove that it has no strategic, economic or military interest in Iraq, stop backing the dominant Kurd-Shiite coalition against the Sunnis, and announce a full troop withdrawal timetable.

There are increasing numbers of Republican moderates who want the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, but neoconservatives are determined to remain in Iraq and the Middle East whatever it takes.

However, very few in Washington are willing to face the alternative to occupation: Declare victory, retreat, and leave Iraq to its own devices.

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China, Russia to Hold First Joint Military Exercise in August
By Joe McDonald
Associated Press Writer
Aug 2, 2005

BEIJING (AP) - China and Russia will hold their first joint military exercise Aug. 18-25 with nearly 10,000 troops in two sites on China's and Russia's eastern coasts, the Chinese Defense Ministry announced Tuesday.

The announcement highlights warming ties between Beijing and Moscow after decades of Cold War hostility. Their reconciliation has been driven in part by mutual unease at U.S. power and a fear of Islamic extremism in Central Asia.

The exercises with army, navy and air forces will take place on China's Shandong peninsula and in the Russian city of Vladivostok and in nearby waters, the Chinese Defense Ministry said. It didn't give any other details of planned activities.

The exercises are meant to "strengthen the capability of the two armed forces in jointly striking international terrorism, extremism and separatism," the Defense Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Plans for a joint exercise were first announced in December.

The Defense Ministry tried to reassure China's neighbors, saying the exercises "neither aim at any third party nor concern ... the interests of any third country."

Earlier Russian news reports suggested the exercises might be held near Taiwan, serving as a rehearsal for a Chinese invasion of the self-ruled island, which Beijing claims as part of its territory. The two sides separated in 1949, and China has threatened repeatedly to attack if the island pursues formal independence.

Russian news reports said Moscow also had asked to hold the exercises in China's Muslim-dominated desert northwest, which borders Central Asia, a region where both governments worry about possible threats from Islamic extremists.

The two governments have invited observers from other governments in the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security group led by Beijing and Moscow, the Defense Ministry said.

The group, meant to combat separatism and Islamic extremism in Central Asia, also includes Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Comment: "Combating Islamic extremism" indeed. We suppose that we are also to believe that the US invasion of Iraq was for the purposes of fighting Islamic terror? It would be nice if the authorities would give us some credit; but then again, does the average citizen merit it? The simple fact is that there is no organised "Islamic extremist" movement that could in any way threaten nations like China, the US or Russia. Any military collaboration between major powers other than the US are most likely for the purpose of mitigating the REAL threat posed to the world by America, Britain and Israel.

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Russian Authorities Fabricate Terrorism Cases Against Muslims - Rights Group

03.08.2005
MosNews

Leading Russian rights activists have accused authorities of fabricating criminal cases and falsely prosecuting people on Islamic-extremism charges in an attempt to show successes in fighting terrorism, the Associated Press news agency reports.

The campaign, launched after September's school hostage seizure, targets mostly Russian Muslims as well as Uzbeks, Tajiks and Kyrgyz residing in Russia, Vitaly Ponomaryov, head of the Central Asia program for the rights group Memorial said Tuesday.

Activists accused Russian agencies of illegally allowing Uzbek security officers to operate on Russian territory and to detain suspects.

"If one fights against terrorism ... by placing innocent people in custody, the number of terrorists and extremists will not decrease, and most likely it will encourage recruitment of additional forces into their ranks," Memorial activist Svetlana Gannushkina said.

A spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office declined to respond to the accusations, saying a statement would be issued later.

Russia has been hit by a series of terrorist attacks in recent years, including a simultaneous bombing of two passenger jets, a suicide bombing outside a Moscow subway station and the hostage seizure at the school in Beslan.

Gannushkina said Russian and Uzbek authorities had detained 14 people in the central Russian city of Ivanovo in June on charges of involvement in the May unrest in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan.

Uzbek troops violently suppressed an uprising in Andijan on May 13, later calling it a revolt by Islamic radicals. Since then, Uzbek authorities have been seeking the extradition of suspects from Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

Gannushkina contended, however, that only one detainee was in Andijan during the uprising, while the rest were acquaintances or business partners. One detainee is a Russian citizen, while another one is a Kyrgyz citizen who traveled to Ivanovo from Turkey to trade textiles, she said.

Citing unnamed officials close to the investigation, Ponomaryov also said that Uzbekistan issued extradition requests nearly one month after the men had been detained, meaning they were held in custody unlawfully.

Ponomaryov said a Memorial study conducted in some of Russia's 89 regions showed at least 23 extremism cases involving some 80 people have been fabricated since last fall. But he said the real number is estimated to be much higher.

Yelena Ryabinina, an activist with Civil Assistance, a group advocating refugees' and migrants' rights, said a man in the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk was sentenced to two years for being a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic organization outlawed in Russia.

The man was arrested after he sent open letters to Prosecutor General and Chairman of the Supreme Court saying he believed Hizb ut-Tahrir was a peaceful organization, she said.

Prosecutors later appealed for a harder sentence and the Supreme Court ordered a retrial.

Gannushkina warned that such a campaign was highly dangerous for a country, in which approximately 20 percent of the population describe themselves as Muslims.

Comment: The imposition of ever tighter controls over the population is a world-wide phenomenon. No country will be exempt, no people will be spared.

Sounds like an awful lot of trouble to go to simply for oil.

The Peak Oil coward tell us that it is because we will soon run out of oil and the collapse of society that will follow needs to be managed. Such an hypothesis is possible, but in spite of a general acceptance by most people that oil is a "fossil fuel", it has never been proven that oil is what is left of the dinosaurs. It may be abiotic. Another troubling point about the Peak Oil argument is that it has served to take a part of the movement of people who were investigating 9/11 and bring it into line with the same politics as Dick Cheney. While it doesn't prove anything, it is suggestive.

We think there is evidence that the general lock-down of the peoples of the planet is due to imminent climatic changes and major earth upheavals that the Powers that Be are fully aware of but are keeping from the general population to better manipulate and control them. When the food riots begin, the measures of repression will be fully operational. When society collapses, the leaders will be comfortable in their bunkers while the rest of us are left to fight over scraps.

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Hate crimes soar after bombings
Tuesday, 2 August 2005

Attacks on Muslims have soared in London since the 7 July bombings.

Police figures show there were 269 "religious hate" crimes, compared with 40 in the same period last year.

Most were verbal abuse or minor assaults, but also include damage to property, including mosques and have a great "emotional impact", police said.

Scotland Yard also said its manpower has been so stretched by the bombings investigation that work on major murder inquiries has "slowed to a trickle".

Increased attacks

Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said that in the first three days after suicide bombers killed 52 people and injured 700 more, there were 68 "faith hate" crimes in London.

During the same three days in 2004 there were none. [...]

Comment: Here we have explicit proof of the net result of the "war on terror". In the absence of any other explanation for the actions of the Bush and Blair governments, we can only conclude that their objective in waging this phony war, is to actually promote internal ethnic strife among their populations which they blame on muslim extremists that are in their pay and use as justification to ramp up further oppressive clampdowns on social freedoms.

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Muslims who hate us can get out, says Tory
GERRI PEEV
POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT

MUSLIMS who resent the British way of life should leave the UK, regardless of whether they are citizens or not, a senior Conservative said last night in comments that have heightened already tense community relations.

Gerald Howarth, the shadow defence minister, last night told The Scotsman that extremist Muslims who see the Iraq war as a conflict against Islam should be considered as treacherous as Soviet sympathisers during the Cold War. His remarkable claim shatters the tri-party consensus which Michael Howard, the Tory leader, sought to make with Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, and the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Howarth said yesterday that he is incensed by suggestions from Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, that Britain is "part of the problem" in Iraq - and said that the problem in the UK lies in fanatical Muslims living within our shores. [...]

Comment: As is the case in the US, there is no "anti-war" party in the UK. When a member of the "opposition" is "incensed" at the foreign secretary of the official war party for admitting that the presence of foreign troops in Iraq simply serves to exacerbate the suffering and death, what hope can there be for a peaceful future for any of us?

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Pentagon to Increase Domestic Surveillance for Counterterrorism

Monday, August 01, 2005
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

WASHINGTON - The Department of Defense has developed a new strategy in counterterrorism that would increase military activities on American soil, particularly in the area of intelligence gathering.

The move is sparking concern among civil liberties advocates and those who fear an encroaching military role in domestic law enforcement.

In an argument that eerily foreshadowed the July London terror attacks, the Pentagon in late June announced its "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Support," which would expand its reach domestically to prevent "enemy attacks aimed at Americans here at home."

The strategy, approved by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England (search ) on June 24, argues that the government needs a multi-layered, preventive approach to national defense in order to combat an unconventional enemy that will attack from anywhere, anytime and by any conceivable means.

"Transnational terrorist groups view the world as an integrated, global battlespace in which to exploit perceived U.S vulnerabilities, wherever they may be," reads the 40-page document that outlines the new plans.

"Terrorists seek to attack the United States and its centers of gravity at home and abroad and will use asymmetric means to achieve their ends, such as simultaneous mass casualty attacks," it said.

Critics say the fears raised by the Pentagon are being used as a justification for the military to conduct wider, more intrusive surveillance on American citizens.

"Do we want, as a free people, with the notion of privacy enshrined in the Constitution and based on the very clear limits and defined role of government, to be in a society where not just the police, but the military are on the street corners gathering intelligence on citizens, sharing that data, manipulating that data?" asked former Rep. Bob Barr (search ), R-Ga., a constitutional law expert and civil libertarian.

"This document provides a blueprint for doing just that." [...]

Comment: Of course the ordinary citizen does not want to see measures in place, but clearly the US and UK governments do. It is for this reason that they are actively promoting the war on terror and have long since resorted to covertly carrying out the terror attacks themselves.

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Americans Are Warned About Overseas Travel
By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 3, 2005; A16

The State Department issued an updated worldwide caution on terrorism yesterday, warning Americans about the threat of extremist violence against U.S. citizens and interests abroad.

The warning did not list countries, nor did department officials offer any additional specifics about threats. The statement said "current information" indicates that al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups are planning attacks against U.S. interests in "multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East."

The department's official caution, which supersedes an alert issued in March, said attacks against private and official targets could come in the form of assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings or bombings.

The targets could include places where Americans meet or visit, such as residential areas, hotels and restaurants, as well as places of worship, schools, clubs, business offices and public areas, the caution said. It also noted that "demonstrations and rioting" can occur with little or no warning.

As causes of concern, the department cited spillover from the U.S. intervention in Iraq in and outside the Middle East, as well as other recent terrorist attacks in Europe. "Ongoing events in Iraq have resulted in demonstrations and associated violence in several countries; such events are likely to continue for the foreseeable future," the statement said. "U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security."

For more information, Americans can check http://travel.state.gov or call 888-407-4747 in the United States or 202-501-4444 from abroad.

Comment: "While we can't give you any details - mainly because we don't have any - all Americans should be deathly afraid of traveling anywhere in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica. And whatever you do, DO NOT go to the North Pole. Unconfirmed nonexistent secret communications between Father Christmas and Osama bin Laden were possibly intercepted at some point in the recent past. Evil terrorists are just lurking in the shadows in every land awaiting the arrival of even one American to put their dastardly plans into action.

Such evil plans may include: assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, bombings, chemical warfare, biological warfare, nuclear holocaust, the triggering of Armageddon, reindeer hit-and-runs, poking people in the eye with sharp sticks, stealing Americans' identity documents, calling Our Great Leader President Bush a fascist, and even serving fries at McDonald's with a strange sauce resembling mayonnaise instead of the traditionally American ketchup. In fact, now that we think about it, Americans are encouraged to stop going out at all, lock your doors, bar your windows, and be sure to tune in to FOX News for the latest information on the Evil Terrorist Threat. Thank you, and may God bless our great nation, and preserve our wonderful freedoms!"

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Democratic Leadership Council drafts right-wing platform for coming elections
By Joseph Kay
28 July 2005

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) held its annual convention in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend, outlining its program for the upcoming 2006 mid-term elections and the presidential election in 2008. Speeches at the meeting and documents published in advance indicate that the Democratic Party plans to run an extremely right-wing campaign, particularly on the issues of "national security" and the war in Iraq.

Formed in the mid-1980s, the DLC is a dominant influence within the Democratic Party. It has been the main source of the "new Democrat" movement that has pushed the party to the right over the past two decades.

The main speaker at the convention was New York senator and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton accepted a post to head the council's new "American Dream Initiative," in which capacity she will travel the country promoting the DLC's views. This positions her as the frontrunner for the party's nomination in 2008. In courting the DLC, Clinton is following in the footsteps of her husband, who chaired the council from 1990 to 1991, before running for office.

Amid speculation that she could seek the same path to the White House, Hillary Clinton used her speech at the convention to dispel any notion that she would ever run as a "liberal" candidate. In using the DLC platform to call for a "cease fire" among the Democratic Party's different factions, Clinton was sending a clear signal to left forces within the party, such as Moveon.org: Even the slightest nod to anti-war sentiment will be opposed by the party leadership.

Also speaking were several others considered to be potential presidential candidates, including Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana, Governor Tom Vilsack from Iowa and Virginia Governor Mark Warner. Bayh is the DLC's former chairman, and Vilsack is its current chairman.

Clinton emphasized her commitment to creating "a unified, coherent strategy focused on eliminating terrorists wherever we find them" and "improving homeland defense." She envisioned a future society in which "we've put more troops in uniform, we've equipped them better, and we've trained them to face today's stress, not yesterday's." In calling for more troops, she repeated the main criticism that Democrats have directed against Bush's handling of the war in Iraq - that not enough forces were committed to guarantee victory.

Clinton also endorsed DLC ideas such as welfare reform, implemented by her husband, which has deprived millions of people of government assistance. She called for fiscal responsibility and repeated certain "cultural" themes designed to neutralize opposition from the extreme right. She urged passage of an "enforceable international ban on human cloning" and sounded notes from her recent campaign attacking violent video games. She called for all Americans to come together on the basis of "our faith in God and our shared values," while pledging to "reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions by promoting family planning and by strengthening our systems of adoption and foster care."

For Clinton, the speech is the continuation of an attempt to promote her right-wing credentials. In recent months, she has teamed up with former House speaker Newt Gingrich and current Senate majority leader Bill Frist on health legislation that would be amenable to big business. She has taken a post on the Senate Arms Committee to allow her to voice strong support for the war in Iraq and an increase in the number of troops in the military. In January, she made a speech calling for Democrats and Republicans to find "common ground" on the abortion issue.

The proposals advanced by Clinton and the other speakers at the convention were developed in several articles published in the most recent issue of the DLC's magazine, Blueprint.

In the lead article, "How America Can Win Again," Al From, the DLC's founder and CEO, and Bruce Reed, its president, voiced full support for the Bush administration's escalation of militarism under the pretext of a "war on terror." After September 11, the pair wrote, "for a brief, shining moment, country - not party - was all that mattered.... Four years later, we have won some important victories against terror and tyranny, in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the duty we owe to the victims of Sept. 11 - and to the cause of freedom - has not been fulfilled."

In the event of a Democratic electoral victory, the war would not merely continue; it would escalate. The authors criticized the administration for having "failed to arm us economically and militarily for a war that could go on for decades.... Iraq isn't the last war we'll have to fight, and we need a bigger army." They called for 100,000 additional troops in the US military - a demand that was repeated at the convention itself. This echoes a recent bill introduced by Senate Democrats, including Clinton and former vice-presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, for an additional 80,000 troops.

From and Reed sought to underscore the fact that on questions of foreign policy, they have no differences with the Republican Party. "Winning the war on terror," they wrote, "is too important for either side to spend all its time pointing fingers at each other. We're Americans first, and we should approach this war the way the American people do: They don't care which party wins, as long as America wins."

In an accompanying article, "Valuing Patriotism," Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a DLC affiliate, wrote that the Democratic Party's essential task is to forge closer ties to the military. "More than anything else," he wrote, Democrats "need to show the country a party unified behind a new patriotism - a progressive patriotism determined to succeed in Iraq and win the war on terror, to close a yawning cultural gap between Democrats and the military, and to summon a new spirit of national service and shared sacrifice to counter the politics of polarization."

While Democrats should criticize the Republicans for mistakes in waging the war - such as not having enough troops - Marshall declared that they should "also attend to the other side of the balance sheet. That side shows that our forces and their allies have toppled one of the world's most odious tyrants; upheld the principle of collective security; liberated a nation of 24 million; made possible Iraq's hopeful experiment in representative self-government; and changed the strategic equation in the Arab-Israeli conflict."

In a section on "Democrats and the military," Marshall noted with great displeasure that a disproportionate number of officers in the military identify themselves as Republicans. "How can Democrats start healing this breach? For starters, they can speak out against colleges that ban military recruiters or the Reserved Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) from their campuses."

Marshall also elaborated on the DLC's conception of a program of "national service," begun under President Clinton and his AmeriCorps program. "One way to put service on more young people's radar screens is to replace the Selective Service System [which registers American youth for any future military draft] with a new National Service System. Such a system would sign up women, as well as men, and encourage them to volunteer for military or civilian service. Another way to enlarge AmeriCorps would be to link federal student aid to national service. Under such an arrangement, only those who agree to serve would be eligible to receive Pell Grants or to apply for subsidized student loans."

There have been some calls from within the DLC to make this "service system" mandatory, essentially forcing all youth to engage in some form of military or "homeland defense" activity.

Various left-Democrat blogs have denounced Clinton's speech before the DLC as a capitulation before the right wing of the party and urged a return to the party's "roots." However, the views expressed by Clinton and the DLC are merely a continuation of the policy pursued by the party leadership. The Democrats have offered crucial support to the Bush administration in prosecuting the war, carrying out an assault on democratic rights, and pursuing right-wing economic policies.

John Kerry ran for president on the grounds that, unlike Bush, he would be able to win the war in Iraq. Kerry's loss stemmed from his inability to make any appeal to opposition sentiment. The conclusion that the party drew from this loss, however, was the necessity for moving even further to the right, seeking to intensify its collaboration with the Bush administration.

As anti-war sentiment grows - with recent polls indicating that 60 percent of Americans favor an immediate partial or complete pullout from Iraq - the Democratic Party responds by calling for an intensification of the war effort.

This divergence has deep social roots. The Democratic Party represents a section of the American ruling elite that, whatever its tactical differences with the Bush administration, agrees with the Republicans on all essential questions. This includes the use of military force to establish US global hegemony and the slashing of working class living standards and curtailment of democratic rights at home.

Comment: There is no political choice in the United States. The much heralded two party system represents the right and the extreme right, the really greedy rich and the greedy but sorta guilty rich, that is, those who kill and plunder with no regret, and those who have learned from history that if the marauding is too blatant, the riff raff will finally be pushed to revolt.

Might the Republicans be trying to provoke such a revolt in order to justify martial law? It is always such a shame to spend billions on new security toys if they stay in the closet and are never used. What's the point of having them if you can't go out and suppress dissent every once in awhile?

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U.S. suppressed footage of Hiroshima for decades
Wed Aug 3, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As the world prepares to mark the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Saturday, some American media experts see uncomfortable echoes between the suppression of images of death and destruction then and coverage of the war in Iraq today.

As author Greg Mitchell lays out in an article in Editor & Publisher this week, in the weeks following the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. authorities seized and suppressed film shot in the bombed cities by U.S. military crews and Japanese newsreel teams to prevent Americans from seeing the full extent of devastation wrought by the new weapons.

Tens of thousands died in each attack.

The U.S. military footage shot in color was classified as secret. It remained hidden until the early 1980s and has never been fully aired. The Japanese film shot in black and white was declassified and returned to Japan in the late 1960s.

Some of the images captured in the days after the bombings will finally be shown on a U.S. cable television channel as part of a documentary on Saturday.

"Although there are clearly huge differences with Iraq, there are also some similarities," said Mitchell, co-author of "Hiroshima in America" and editor of Editor & Publisher.

"The chief similarity is that Americans are still being kept at a distance from images of death, whether of their own soldiers or Iraqi civilians," he said.

Comment: Obviously this is a tried and tested strategy. By keeping the true nature of their wars for profit and power from the people, governments can easily ensure continued and unwitting public support for what is fundamentally fascist agression against innocent people.

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The Iraq Infection
Matthew Herper 08.02.05

NEW YORK - Military doctors are fighting to contain an outbreak of a potentially deadly drug-resistant bacteria that apparently originated in the Iraqi soil. So far at least 280 people, mostly soldiers returning from the battlefield, have been infected, a number of whom contracted the illness while in U.S. military hospitals.

Most of the victims are relatively young troops who were injured by the land mines, mortars and suicide bombs that have permeated the Iraq conflict. No active-duty soldiers have died from the infections, but five extremely sick patients who were in the same hospitals as the injured soldiers have died after being infected with the bacteria, Acinetobacter baumannii.

"This a very large outbreak," says Arjun Srinivasan, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. public health service and a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control. [...]

One of those infected in Iraq was Marine Cpl. Sean Locker. On July 10, he was attacked by a suicide bomber in a car while guarding a convoy. Shrapnel hit him in his nose, his right index finger and his right eye, blinding him. His left lung collapsed. But the worst damage was done to his left arm. It was amputated, and Locker says he knew it would be as soon as he looked down at it. "I tried to stay level-headed," he says.

Locker, 25, was flown to an army base in Landstuhl, Germany, and then to NNMC in Bethesda. There, doctors found that what was left of his arm after the amputation had been infected with Acinetobacter. For Locker, the prognosis was good, as two years of hard experience treating patients who had returned from war had taught doctors how to deal with the infection - and to prevent it from spreading to sicker patients. Using imipenem, one of three intravenous antibiotics effective against Acinetobacter, doctors are treating Locker's infection. He hopes to go home soon and buy a new truck. [...]

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Beware The Secret Heart Of The EU
By Ashley Mote
8-1-5

The EU's mindset is committed to the French vision of a social Europe. The catastrophic economic consequences over decades is largely ignored. Double-digit unemployment and sluggish growth is blamed on anglo-saxon market forces.

Amongst the political elite in Brussels, the fight over the constitution was about securing a social Europe. It was about entrenching control, not liberating enterprise.

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has publicly sided with the creation of an enterprise Europe. He realises that only by fundamental change can the EU's discredited Lisbon agenda be revived and a thriving knowledge-based economy achieved.

But the truth is - and he knows it - the incumbent bureaucracy is too strong, too deep-rooted, and too committed to a social Europe. They know, and he knows, that they will still be there long after he is gone.

We all know the EU is run by bureaucrats. But that's only the half of it. We all know the EU was created by European politicians 50 years ago. But that's only the half of it. We all hope the European Parliament has injected a degree of democratic accountability. But that's not even the half of it.

Facts coming to light in recent weeks paint a picture far worse. None of us knew the half of it. [...]

Comment: Here is a striking example of an analysis mixed with political spin. Europe is portrayed as a socialist monster headed by nameless bureaucrats, many of whom are French, no less, and we know the French are the enemy for the British and the Americans, who are steering Europe to a "social agenda": that is, defending health care, employees' rights, etc, all the bogeymen of the right, the neoliberals, the libertarians, and the rest who believe that only the free market can decide the fate of mankind, who think that the New World Order has to do with the UN and Europe and not the United States.

We agree that Europe has been and will continue to be a beast led by unelected bureaucrats with no effective democratic representation. Its origins lie in an economic treaty to liberalise trade. Its origins are mercantile. Further, many of the founding fathers of modern Europe were anti-communists with close ties to the US and the stay behind network. Among their US supporters and contacts were the Trotskyite Jewish intellectuals who later became the backbone of the neoconservative movement.

There may well be contradictions within the European bureaucracy between groups and points of view, with some working for closer ties with the US while others seek a certain distance from the Atlantic alliance. But regardless of the motivations of the bureaucrats in Brussels or Strasbourg, the existing machinery that is Europe is being constructed against its people. The rejection by the French of the proposed constitution was a strong statement against the existing structure because it is neither representative nor social.

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Vacationing Bush Poised to Set a Record

With Long Sojourn at Ranch, President on His Way to Surpassing Reagan's Total
By Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 3, 2005; A04

WACO, Texas, Aug. 2 -- President Bush is getting the kind of break most Americans can only dream of -- nearly five weeks away from the office, loaded with vacation time.

The president departed Tuesday for his longest stretch yet away from the White House, arriving at his Crawford ranch in the evening for a stretch of clearing brush, visiting with family and friends, and tending to some outside-the-Beltway politics. By historical standards, it is the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years.

The August getaway is Bush's 49th trip to his cherished ranch since taking office and the 319th day that Bush has spent, entirely or partially, in Crawford -- nearly 20 percent of his presidency to date, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio reporter known for keeping better records of the president's travel than the White House itself. Weekends and holidays at Camp David or at his parents' compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, bump up the proportion of Bush's time away from Washington even further.

Bush's long vacations are more than a curiosity: They play into diametrically opposite arguments about this leadership style. To critics and late-night comics, they symbolize a lackadaisical approach to the world's most important day job, an impression bolstered by Bush's two-hour midday exercise sessions and his disinclination to work nights or weekends. The more vociferous among Bush's foes have noted that he spent a month at the ranch shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when critics assert he should have been more attentive to warning signs.

To Bush and his advisers, that criticism fundamentally misunderstands his Texas sojourns. Those who think he does not remain in command, aides say, do not understand the modern presidency or Bush's own work habits. At the ranch, White House officials say, Bush continues to receive daily national security briefings, sign documents, hold teleconferences with aides and military commanders, and even meet with foreign leaders. And from the president's point of view, the long Texas stints are the best way to clear his mind and reconnect with everyday America.

"I'm looking forward to getting down there and just kind of settling in," Bush told reporters from Texas newspapers during a roundtable interview at the White House on Monday. "I'll be doing a lot of work. On the other hand, I'll also be kind of making sure my Texas roots run deep."

"Spending time outside of Washington always gives the president a fresh perspective of what's on the minds of the American people," White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters Friday. "It's a time, really, for him to shed the coat and tie and meet with folks out in the heartland and hear what's on their minds." [...]

Until now, probably no modern president was a more famous vacationer than Ronald Reagan, who loved spending time at his ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif. According to an Associated Press count, Reagan spent all or part of 335 days in Santa Barbara over his eight-year presidency -- a total that Bush will surpass this month in Crawford with 3 1/2 years left in his second term. [...]

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Oil Prices Hit New Heights on Supply Fears
By EDITH BALAZS
The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 3, 2005; 11:18 AM

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Oil prices briefly rose to new heights Wednesday in a rally traders attributed to concerns about refinery snags in the U.S. and rising global demand.

Also in the mix was a fresh weekly report from the U.S. Department of Energy that showed domestic inventories of crude oil grew slightly last week, while the commercial supply of gasoline fell sharply.

Light sweet crude for September delivery rose 31 cents to $62.20 a barrel Wednesday morning on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices had climbed as high as $62.50 a barrel, surpassing the previous intraday high of $62.30, set Tuesday.

The contract settled at $61.89 a barrel on Tuesday in New York, the highest closing price since trading began on the Nymex in 1983. On an inflation-adjusted basis, that is still below the all-time high set in 1981. Oil is now around 40 percent more expensive than a year ago. [...]

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Banker Leonard Ingrams Dies
The Independent
02 August 2005

Leonard Victor Ingrams, merchant banker and opera-festival director: born Hindhead, Surrey 1 September 1941; staff, Baring Bros 1967-81, managing director 1975-81; senior adviser, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency 1974-79, Chief Adviser to the Government 1981-84; OBE 1980; chairman, Deutschland Banking Corporation 1990-96; Chairman, Garsington Opera 1990-2005; chairman, Czech and Slovak Investment Corporation 1992-96; senior vice-president, Arab Banking Corporation 1996-98; partner, L.V. Ingrams & Co 1998-2005; married 1964 Rosalind Moore (one son, three daughters); died Stanwell, Surrey 27 July 2005.

Though he had a colourful and unusual career as a merchant banker and was even styled "Greatest of All Advisers" to the Saudi Arabian government, Leonard Ingrams will be remembered as the founder, with his wife Rosalind, of the Garsington Opera festival that takes place every summer at their Oxfordshire house. Ingrams was a man of many parts - a successful banker, an accomplished classicist, and someone with a keen sense of the comic possibilities of life. [...]

His mother, Victoria Ingrams, was the daughter of Queen Victoria's doctor, Sir James Reid. After the death of John Brown in 1883, he was the man closest to the Queen, who made him a baronet in 1897, but was angry when, two years later, he married (when he was nearly 50) Susan Baring, daughter of the first Lord Revelstoke and great-granddaughter of the prime minister Earl Grey. [...]

Ingrams met Rosalind Moore, the daughter of a diplomat, in 1961, the summer before she went up to Lady Margaret Hall. In 1964, just after his 23rd birthday, they married, and a year later they began their family with the birth of their first daughter, followed by a son and two more daughters.

Having gained a BLitt for his dissertation on Greek epigrams and taught for two years at Queen Mary College, London, Ingrams followed his great-uncle Maurice Baring, who was also a linguist and a musician, and joined Barings in 1967. Barings followed the common City practice of giving a job to any member of the family who was willing to start at the bottom. Shortly after taking up his position on a high stool, sorting the post in the mail-room, Ingrams took the unheard-of step of asking several of his cousin directors if he might not be invited to lunch. He proved good at the job, though, and rose rapidly, with postings to Paris, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna. Then, when the increase in oil prices caused money to pour into Saudi Arabia, he went there to advise the central bank on how to invest it. He explained his superlative Arabic title by saying he'd been in the right place at the right time:

I happened to be working for the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, and their oil reserves rocketed from nothing to billions and billions. It just took some taking care of.

He found time to make music while in Saudi Arabia, and took up the viola to complete a string quartet. In Jeddah he joined a circle of music-making that met on Monday evenings at the residence of the Dutch ambassador, conducted the Hejaz Choral Society and formed the Jeddah Concert Committee. While still abroad, he became Barings' managing director (he served from 1975 to 1981), and managed to fit in a sabbatical in Italy, where he studied the viola with Bruno Giuranna and Piero Farulli of the Quartetto Italiano. He and Rosalind bought a house near Siena. They were briefly, in 1979-81, back in England, where Ingrams expected, but did not get, a senior position in the international capital markets department of Barings.

In 1980 he was appointed OBE for services to British interests and the British community abroad. The next year he left the bank, many years before its dramatic collapse, to return to Riyadh as an adviser to the Saudi government. In all he had stayed 10 years in the Middle East, when in 1984 he returned permanently to England to become a director at a rival bank, Robert Flemings, where he remained until 1995. For the last several years he was based in London, where he ran a financial consultancy, L.V. Ingrams & Co, specialising in the Middle East. [...]

He was driving back on the motorway from a performance of Giulio Cesare at Glyndebourne last week, when he had a massive heart attack. Rosalind was able to steer the car from the passenger seat, until a passing motorist saw her plight, drove alongside her, and heroically helped her to stop the car.

Comment: Regarding the recent deaths of bankers Zankel and Duisenberg, a QFS member wrote:

On July 7th, while explosions in the London underground were drawing our attention, there was a report of men dressed as police executing people outside the HSBC, while telling people in the bank building not to look out the window or go outside for several hours. Who were they executing? Who are "they"?

HSBC grew out of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, "which was established in 1865 to finance the growing trade between China and Europe", according to their web site. That would have been the opium trade, I guess.

They have some interesting folks on their Board of Directors.

Is there some war going on behind the scenes about which we know little or nothing? Who are the players, and what are their objectives?

Regarding HSBC, another member wrote:

I talked to a friend in Europe today who is a close friend of some very senior people at HSBC in London. It seems that two men were shot in front of the building in Canary Wharf. All the staff were told to stay away from the windows and
were not able to leave the building "all day".

Interestingly, the rumor in HSBC is that the
government has issued a Section D notice (a gagging
order for the press and any witnesses - breach of
which results in jail) in respect of the incident.

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Twister clouds surprise residents
BBC
Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK

Funnel clouds have been spotted over parts of Bristol and Wiltshire.

The phenomenon on Monday night was hundreds of feet high and lasted up to 20 minutes - much longer than the average two minutes.

Mandy Doyle, who lives in High Littleton said: "It was the scariest thing I've ever seen. Something out of a movie."

Funnel clouds are similar to tornados, but are weaker and do not make contact with the ground.

Dorothy Gwinnell of Whitchurch, said her neighbour had rung her up and told her to look out the window.

"I was shocked. It was very long but it seemed to be moving quite slowly. It was kind of hovering overhead for about 15 or 20 minutes."

A mini-tornado was also seen passing over Trowbridge in Wiltshire.

No damage

PA weather forecaster Paul Knightley said it was not technically a tornado as it did not touch the ground.

"It wasn't going to cause much damage but I can imagine why people would have got excited.

"We actually had three or four funnel clouds and possibly one tornado yesterday across the country."

There were no reports of damage to property.

It comes one week after a tornado hit Birmingham, damaging buildings and uprooting trees.

Mr Knightley said Britain averaged about 33 to 35 tornadoes a year.

"If we got a few more Birminghams that would make us sit up and take notice.

"But people are just reporting these things more now and they have cameras and mobile phones to back up what they've seen."

Comment: A reader comments:

I like the comments at the end of this report...

"But people are just reporting these things more now and they have cameras and mobile phones to back up what they've seen."

I their eyes, its not a case of these type of phenomenon increasing but just a case of the public reporting them because of there techno gadgets to aid them now.

I'm sorry but that doesn't wash with me, good old 35mm cameras, landline phones & pen & paper reporting has been around for donkeys years & seeing something like this in a quiet sleepy English town or village, would make anyone jump up & take notice, whatever the era!

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Hackers prowess on display at Defcon conference
By GREG SANDOVAL, AP
08/01/05 22:08 EDT

LAS VEGAS - Even the ATM machines were suspect at this year's Defcon conference, where hackers play intrusion games at the bleeding edge of computer security.

With some of the world's best digital break-in artists pecking away at their laptops, sending e-mails or answering cell phones could also be risky.

Defcon is a no-man's land where customary adversaries - federal agents vs. digital mavericks - are supposed to share ideas about making the Internet a safer place. But it's really a showcase for flexing hacker muscle.

This year's hot topics included a demonstration of just how easy it may be to attack supposedly foolproof biometric safeguards, which determine a person's identity by scanning such things as thumb prints, irises and voice patterns.

Banks, supermarkets and even some airports have begun to rely on such systems, but a security analyst who goes by the name Zamboni challenged hackers to bypass biometrics by attacking their backend systems networks. "Attack it like you would Microsoft or Linux," he advised.

Radio frequency identification tags that send wireless signals and that are used to track a growing list of items including retail merchandise, animals and U.S. military shipments- also came under scrutiny.

A group of twentysomethings from Southern California climbed onto the hotel roof to show that RFID tags could be read from as far as 69 feet (21 meters). That's important because the tags have been proposed for such things as U.S. passports, and critics have raised fears that kidnappers could use RFID readers to pick traveling U.S. citizens out of a crowd.

RFID companies had said the signals didn't reach more than 20 feet (six meters), said John Hering, one of the founders of Flexilis, the company that conducted the experiment.

"Our goal is to raise awareness," said Hering, 22. "Our hope is to spawn other research so that people will move to secure this technology before it becomes a problem."

Erik Michielsen, an analyst at ABI Research, chuckled when he heard the Flexilis claims. "These are great questions that need to be raised," he said, but RFID technology varies with the application, many of which are encrypted. Encryption technology uses an algorithm to scramble data to make it unreadable to everyone except the recipient.

Also on hand at the conference was Robert Morris Sr., former chief scientist for the National Security Agency, to lecture on the vulnerabilities of bank ATMs, which he predicted would become the next "pot of gold" for hackers.

The Internet has become "crime ridden slums," said Phil Zimmermann, a well-known cryptographer who spoke at the conference. Hackers and the computer security experts who make a living on tripping up systems say security would be better if people were less lazy.

To make their point, they pilfered Internet passwords from convention attendees.

Anyone naive enough to access the Internet through the hotel's unsecured wireless system could see their name and part of their passwords scrolling across a huge public screen.

It was dubbed the "The Wall of Sheep."

Among the exposed sheep were an engineer from Cisco Systems Inc., multiple employees from Apple Computer Inc. and a Harvard professor.

An annual highlight of the conference is the "Meet the Feds" panel, which this year included representatives from the FBI, NSA and the Treasury and Defense departments. Morris and other panel members said they would love to hire the "best and brightest" hackers but cautioned that the offer wouldn't be extended to lawbreakers.

During the session, Agent Jim Christy of the Defense Department's Cyber Crime Center asked the audience to stand.

"If you've never broken the law, sit down," he said. Many sat down immediately - but a large number appeared to hesitate before everyone eventually took their seats.

OK, now we can turn off the cameras, Christy joked.

Some federal agents were indeed taking careful notes, though, when researcher Michael Lynn set the tone for the conference by publicizing earlier in the week a vulnerability in Cisco routers that he said could allow hackers to virtually shut down the Internet.

Lynn and other researchers at Internet Security Systems had discovered a way of exploiting a Cisco software vulnerability in order to seize control of a router. That flaw was patched in April, but Lynn showed that Cisco hadn't quite finished the repair job - that the same technique could be used to exploit other vulnerabilities in Cisco routers.

Cisco and ISS went to court to try to stop Lynn from going public, but Lynn quit ISS and spoke anyway. In the wake of his decision, Lynn has become the subject of an FBI probe, said his attorney Jennifer Granick.

Many at the conference praised Lynn.

"We're never going to secure the Net if we don't air and criticize vulnerabilities," said David Cowan, a managing partner at venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners.

And the vulnerabilities are plenty.

During his session on ATM machines, Morris said thieves have been able to dupe people out of their bank cards and passwords by changing the software in old ATM machines bought off eBay for as little as $1,000 and placing the machines out in public venues.

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Hacker forced new planet discovery out of the closet

10th planet found two years ago
By Nick Farrell
Monday 01 August 2005, 07:39

BOFFINS WHO discovered that there was a 10th planet in our solar system, had been sitting on the news for years until a hacker turned over their servers.

Michael Brown, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology, announced the discovery over the weekend. But according to the South African Sunday Telegraph, here, the briefing was hastily arranged after Brown received word that his secure website containing the discovery had been hacked. The unnamed hacker was threatening to release the information.

It transpired that Brown and his friends had been sitting on the information since 2003 when they snapped it with a 122cm telescope at the Palomar Observatory. However they couldn't confirm much about it until it was analysed again last January. So in the time honoured tradition of boffins everywhere they decided to keep the data from the common people until they knew a bit more.

Brown said that data is still being processed and it will take at least six months before astronomers can determine the planet's exact size. The planet seems to be about 1.5 times the size of Pluto, which is usually dubbed a planetoid because it is so small.

The find should further stuff up modern astrologers - they still have not got the hang of Uranus.

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Whitley Strieber
Posthuman Blues
Friday, July 29, 2005

Whitley Strieber has written his most expansive, bizarre online journal entry yet. As usual, it poses far more questions than it answers. And, for a metaphysical rallying cry, it's peculiarly insistent that readers who truly support his website send him money so they can access some superfluous "subscriber" material.

I like this paragraph:

"The implant also enables me to travel almost anywhere in space and time, or even outside of space time. It acts as a sort of accellerator [sic] of being, intensifying my ability to move out of my body and into many remarkable realms. It also causes me, at times, to hear the inner workings of the minds of other people, something that is so extremely different from what one might imagine that it is really hard to describe in words. It's not a common experience and has not entered language, which is why I can only talk about it indirectly."

Unfortunately, virtually all of Strieber's recollections and pronouncements are colored by this "indirect" quality. I'm not claiming Strieber is a fraud; I think he's experienced episodes of high strangeness. But I also think his mind tends to inflate the significance and meaning of his experiences, effectively "editing" them into a symbolic grammar amenable to intellectual analysis. In this sense, Strieber's bold declarations are probably about as valid as those of infamous "contactee" George Adamski, albeit rather more literary and in keeping with contemporary cosmological thought.

Strieber isn't the mild-mannered sage one might expect. I once emailed him to question an omission in a self-published book and was told to "quit nitpicking and absorb the philosophy." This is the kind of quip expected from an L. Ron Hubbard, not a man in touch with the universe's most elusive secrets. And as a writer with grand online pretensions, Strieber is curiously selective about the "news" items that grace his site's front-page. For example, I find it difficult to believe he's unaware of the very promising Roswell leads documented in Nick Redfern's powerfully argued new book "Body Snatchers In the Desert." Revealingly, Strieber has made a psychological investment in an alien explanation for Roswell -- a scenario that Redfern's research threatens to obliterate. Strieber's commitment to certain hoaxes is further evidenced in his new essay, which cites the late Col. Philip Corso, alleged government whistleblower whose book "The Day After Roswell" has been dismissed as make-believe by UFO researchers.

Strieber inhabits a universe of boundless subjectivity built upon a substrate of engaging memes. But his relevance to the disciplined UFO research he champions is increasingly tenuous. Which is too bad. For if he knows what he claims to know, his "subscribers only" approach to disseminating his revelations is at best manipulative and at worst harmful.

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Russian Researchers Claim to Have Solved Mystery of Crop Circles
Created: 03.08.2005 15:17 MSK (GMT 3), Updated: 15:17 MSK
MosNews

A group of researchers in Russia claim they have solved the mystery of crop circles, the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reports. According to them, plants bend as a result of microwave emissions caused by lightning strikes.

The newspaper described an experiment conducted by researcher Stanislav Smirnov who placed several stalks of cereals in a microwave oven with a glass of water. He said the stalks bent in exactly the same way as those usually found at crop circles. Smirnov said he now has to find out how microwave emissions appear on fields. He has a theory that they come from underground, but cannot prove it.

Another Russian researcher, Anatoly Arzyayev of the All-Russian Electrical Hardware Institute, said that the emissions are most likely a result of lightning strikes. He said that they got crop circles at a lawn in their institute 50 years ago when such research was unheard of.

"Two young workers and I were testing high-voltage hardware. The cable that we used to supply the current was hanging 10 meters above the ground when suddenly it discharged an artificial lightning strike on to the lawn below. And the grass bent in even clockwise circles," the researcher said. He added that they conducted several experiments and got crop circles of about 5 meters in diameter.

Another argument backing up this theory is the fact that real crop circles are often accompanied by so called lichtenberg figures - narrow strips of bent grass, usually left by a lightning strike.

Comment: So, two different "solutions" for crop circles. That solves everything!

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Bird Flu Threatens European Russia - Emergencies Ministry
Created: 03.08.2005 14:52 MSK (GMT 3), Updated: 14:52 MSK
MosNews

The Russian Emergencies Ministry has warned the outbreak of bird flu in Siberia may advance to the European part of the country in August, RIA Novosti reported, endangering both poultry and people.

The outbreak was first reported in Siberia in North Russia, and there is a danger of bird flu virus, H5N1, being carried to the European part of the country by migrating birds in the fall when birds fly from Siberia to the Black and Caspian Seas, the Emergency Ministry's report says.

As the H5N1 viruses have recently proved to be growingly pathogenic with poultry, there is a risk of outbreaks in birds that might result in the loss of 75-100 percent of poultry in the affected areas.

The Ministry also said there is a possibility of people becoming infected, especially farms workers.

The Ministry's experts also warn of the threat of foot-and-mouth disease from neighboring Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia, carried by infected migrating animals, RIA Novosti added.

There is also the possibility of isolated cases and mass outbreaks of swine fever, anthrax, leptospirosis and Newcastle disease in many of Russia's regions.

Bird flu comes in different strains, such as H5 and H7, which have nine different subtypes. The H5N1 subtype is highly pathogenic and can be passed from birds to humans, although there have been no cases of human to human transmission, Reuters adds.

More than 50 people have died in Asia from H5N1 since late 2003, raising fears it could mutate and trigger a global epidemic. The H5N1 strain has so far been officially confirmed in three Siberian regions of Novosibirsk, Altai and Tyumen.

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