Thursday, August 18, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." - Cindy Sheehan


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©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

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The world's largest prison camp
It seems that Israel wants to lock up Gaza and throw away the key
Paul McCann
Published: 16 August 2005

There is a Bedouin village - breezeblock shanties built on sand dunes - in the north of the Gaza Strip that has been overlooked by the army watchtowers of the Jewish settlement of Nisanit. On most nights during the intifada, soldiers in these watchtowers fired down into the alleys of the village, keeping everyone hemmed into their homes at night. On occasion, children, disorientated and panicked by the firing, had been known to run out of their shacks and into the line of fire.

There were many randomly-firing watchtowers surrounding the Israeli settlements in Gaza. They have killed hundreds of Palestinians, both militant and innocent, and are hated by the local population. Their removal this week, along with the settlements themselves, will rightly be a moment of celebration. But just because the most visible and oppressive signs of the Israeli occupation will be gone, no one should be under the illusion that Gaza will cease to be the world's largest prison camp.

Last week, the Israeli cabinet has decided that it would maintain troops on the border between Gaza and Egypt for the foreseeable future - along the so-called Philadelphia corridor. It was from a watchtower on this border that peace activist Tom Hurndall was shot in 2003. The same cabinet meeting also decided that Israel must continue to control who enters and exits Gaza through Egypt and proposed a new border crossing at Kerem Shalom where Israel, Gaza and Egypt meet. This busy cabinet meeting also decided that it would allow Gaza to have three miles of territorial waters - after that Israel would control the sea. It had already been decided that Israel will continue to control Gaza's airspace.

Earlier this year, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the guardian of international humanitarian law, sent the Israeli government a confidential position paper making clear that the removal of the Israeli troops and settlers from Gaza will not end the occupation. The paper stated: "Israel will retain significant control over the Gaza Strip, which will enable it to exercise key elements of authority. Thus ... it seems at this stage the Gaza Strip will remain occupied for the purposes of international humanitarian law."

It is a view backed by the highly respected Harvard Programme on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. In a legal brief prepared for the donor community, the programme's director wrote: "The partial redeployment of Israel's military presence in and around the territory is not the controlling factor in international law to determine the end of occupation ... The end of occupation rests essentially on the termination of the military control of the Occupying Power over the Government affairs of the occupied population that limits the people's right to self determination."

Why this matters is made clear in the disengagement resolution passed by the Israeli government last summer. That states: "The completion of the [disengagement] plan will serve to dispel claims regarding Israel's responsibility for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip." But if it is still the occupying power, then in law Israel has very specific responsibility for the welfare of the population of Gaza. If the occupation is seen to have ended, then it can wash its hands of all 1.3 million of them.

At the moment Israel talks of improving conditions at the notorious Erez crossing from Gaza into Israel, where thousands of Palestinian cheap labourers are routinely humiliated and crushed in pens for hours before they can get into Israel to work. But in the longer term it seems Israel wants to lock up Gaza and throw away the key. Shaul Mofaz, the Minister of Defence, and Ehud Olmert, the Deputy Prime Minister, have both gone on record this summer as saying that no Palestinian workers will be allowed into Israel from 2008. The wording of the disengagement bill states there are to be no labourers "in the longer term".

At the G8 summit the international community promised to invest £1.72bn in Gaza. But without access to the outside world, these funds will do little to improve life or create permanent jobs. If Gaza is to feel the benefits of disengagement, the fishermen need to be able to fish, merchants to travel and import and crucially, after 38 years of enforced integration with Israel's economy, labourers will still need to work on the building sites of Tel Aviv and Ashkelon.

Otherwise the watchtowers of Gaza will only have moved a few hundred metres and no doubt will soon fire down once more on Palestinians - both militant and innocent.

Comment: So the Gaza pullout is another in a long string of conjobs pulled by the Israelis on the Palestinians and the rest of the world, although it is doubtful the Palestinians were ever fooled. The main public for the great, humanitarian gesture on the part of the war criminal Sharon is the American and European populations, to convince them that he is a "man of peace" caught between the extremist settlers and the extremist animals the rest fo the world calls the Palestinians.

But the press is lapping it up, all those shots of the "poor" settlers being thrown out of their homes. Call them land grabbers living in illegal settlements and it sounds a bit different, doesn't it? Bring up the hundreds of thousands of dollars they are being paid to leave their homes, and it is something else. Just compare the media coverage to the media play the bulldozing of Palestinian homes in this next article:

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Watching the Gazan Fiasco
The Shame of It All

August 17, 2005

A great charade is taking place in front of the world media in the Gaza Strip. It is the staged evacuation of 8000 Jewish settlers from their illegal settlement homes, and it has been carefully designed to create imagery to support Israel's US-backed takeover of the West Bank and cantonization of the Palestinians.

There was never the slightest reason for Israel to send in the army to remove these settlers. The entire operation could have been managed, without the melodrama necessary for a media frenzy, by providing them with a fixed date on which the IDF would withdraw from inside the Gaza Strip. A week before, all the settlers will quietly have left ­with no TV cameras, no weeping girls, no anguished soldiers, no commentators asking cloying questions of how Jews could remove other Jews from their homes, and no more trauma about their terrible suffering, the world's victims, who therefore have to be helped to kick the Palestinians out of the West Bank.

The settlers will relocate to other parts of Israel ­ and in some cases to other illegal settlements in the West Bank ­ handsomely compensated for their inconvenience. Indeed, each Jewish family leaving the Gaza Strip will receive between $140,000 and $400,000 just for the cost of the home they leave behind. But these details are rarely mentioned in the tempest of reporting on the "great confrontation" and "historical moment" brought to us by Sharon and the thieving, murderous settler-culture he helped create.

On ABC's Nightline Monday night, a reporter interviewed a young, sympathetic Israeli woman from the largest Gaza settlement, Neve Dekalim - a girl with sincerity in her voice, holding back tears. She doesn't view the soldiers as her enemy, she says, and doesn't want violence. She will leave even though to do so is causing her great pain. She talked about the tree she planted in front of her home with her brother when she was three; about growing up in the house they were now leaving, the memories, and knowing she could never return; that even if she did, everything she knew would be gone from the scene. The camera then panned to her elderly parents sitting somberly amid boxed-up goods, surveying the scene, looking forlorn and resigned. Her mother was a kindergarten teacher, we are told. She knew just about all of the children who grew up here near the sea.

In the 5 years of Israel's brutal suppression of the Palestinian uprising against the occupation, I never once saw or heard a segment as long and with as much sentimental, human detail as I did here; never once remember a reporter allowing a sympathetic young Palestinian woman, whose home was just bulldozed and who lost everything she owned, tell of her pain and sorrow, of her memories and her family's memories; never got to listen to her reflect on where she would go now and how she would live. And yet in Gaza alone more than 23,000 people have lost their homes to Israeli bulldozers and bombs since September 2000 -- often at a moment's notice ­ on the grounds that they "threatened Israel's security." The vast majority of the destroyed homes were located too close to an IDF military outpost or illegal settlement to be allowed to continue standing. The victims received no compensation for their losses and had no place waiting for them to relocate. Most ended up in temporary UNRWA tent-cities until they could find shelter elsewhere in the densely overcrowded Strip, a quarter of whose best land was inhabited by the 1% of the population that was Jewish and occupying the land at their expense.

Where were the cameramen in May 2004 in Rafah when refugees twice over lost their homes again in a single night's raid, able to retrieve nothing of what they owned? Where were they when bulldozers and tanks tore up paved streets with steel blades, wrecked the sewage and water pipes, cut electricity lines, and demolished a park and a zoo; when snipers shot two children, a brother and sister, feeding their pigeons on the roof of their home? When the occupying army fired a tank shell into a group of peaceful demonstrators killing 14 of them including two children? Where have they been for the past five years when the summer heat of Rafah makes life so unbearable it is all one can do to sit quietly in the shade of one's corrugated tin roof -- because s/he is forbidden to go to the sea, ten minutes' walking distance from the city center? Or because if they ventured to the more open spaces they became walking human targets? And when their citizens resisted, where were the accolades and the admiring media to comment on the "pluck," the "will" and "audacity" of these "young people"?

On Tuesday, 16 August, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that more than 900 journalists from Israel and around the world are covering the events in Gaza, and that hundreds of others are in cities and towns in Israel to cover local reactions. Were there ever that many journalists in one place during the past 5 years to cover the Palestinian Intifada?

Where were the 900 international journalists in April 2002 after the Jenin refugee camp was laid to waste in the matter of a week in a show of pure Israeli hubris and sadism? Where were the 900 international journalists last fall when the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza lay under an Israeli siege and more than 100 civilians were killed? Where were they for five years while the entire physical infrastructure of the Gaza Strip was being destroyed? Which one of them reported that every crime of the Israeli occupation ­ from home demolitions, targeted assassinations and total closures to the murder of civilians and the wanton destruction of commercial and public property- increased significantly in Gaza after Sharon's "Disengagement" Plan - that great step toward peace - was announced?

Where are the hundreds of journalists who should be covering the many non-violent protests by Palestinians and Israelis against the Apartheid Wall? ­Non-violent protesters met with violence and humiliation by Israeli armed forces? Where are the hundreds of journalists who should be reporting on the economic and geographic encirclement of Palestinian East Jerusalem and of the bisection of the West Bank and the subdivision of each region into dozens of isolated mini-prisons? Why aren't we being barraged by outraged reports about the Jewish-only bypass roads? About the hundreds of pointless internal checkpoints? About the countless untried executions and maimings? About the torture and abuse of Palestinians in Israeli prisons?

Where were these hundreds of journalists when each of the 680 Palestinian children shot to death by Israeli soldiers over the last 5 years was laid to rest by grief-stricken family members? The shame of it all defies words.

Now instead report after report announces the "end to the 38 year old occupation" of the Gaza Strip, a "turning point for peace" and the news that "it is now illegal for Israelis to live in Gaza." Is this some kind of joke?

Yes, it is "illegal for Israelis to live in the Gaza Strip" as colonizers from another land. It has been illegal for 38 years. (If they wish to move there and live as equals with the Palestinians and not as Israeli citizens they may do so.)

Sharon's unilateral "Disengagement" plan is not ending the occupation of Gaza. The Israelis are not relinquishing control over the Strip. They are retaining control of all land, air and sea borders including the Philadelphi corridor along the Gaza/Egypt border where the Egyptians may be allowed to patrol under Israel's watchful eye and according to Israel's strictest terms. The 1.4 million inhabitants of Gaza remain prisoners in a giant penal colony, despite what their partisan leaders are attempting to claim. The IDF is merely redeploying outside the Gaza Strip, which is surrounded by electrical and concrete fences, barbed wire, watchtowers, armed guards and motion censors, and it will retain the authority to invade Gaza on a whim. Eight thousand Palestinian workers working in Israel for slave wages will soon be banned from returning to work. Another 3,200 Palestinians who worked in the settlements for a sub-minimum-wage have been summarily dismissed without recourse to severance pay or other forms of compensation. Still others will lose their livelihoods when the Israelis move the Gaza Industrial Zone from Erez to somewhere in the Negev desert.

The World Bank reported in December 2004 that both poverty and unemployment will rise following the "Disengagement" even under the best of circumstances because Israel will retain full control over the movement of goods in and out of Gaza, will maintain an enforced separation of the West Bank and Gaza preventing the residents of each from visiting one another, and will draw up separate customs agreements with each zone severing their already shattered economies-- and yet we are forced to listen day in and day out to news about this historic peace initiative, this great turning point in the career of Ariel Sharon, this story of national trauma for the brothers and sisters who have had to carry out the painful orders of their wise and besieged leader.

What will it take to get the truth across to people? To the young woman of Neve Dekalim who can speak her words without batting an eyelash of embarrassment or shame? As the cameras zoom in on angry settlers poignantly clashing with their "brothers and sisters" in the Israeli army, who will be concerned about their other brothers and sisters in Gaza? When will the Palestinian history of 1948 and 1967, and of each passing day under the violence of dispossession and dehumanization, get a headline in our papers?

I am reminded of an interview I had this summer in Beirut with Hussein Nabulsi of Hizbullah ­ an organization that has had nothing to do with the movement for Palestinian national liberation whatsoever, but one that has become allied with those it sees as the real victims of US and Israeli policies and lies. I remember his tightly shut eyes and his clenched fists as he asked how long Arabs and Muslims were supposed to accept the accusations that they are the victimizers and the terrorists. "It hurts," he said in a whispered ardor. "It hurts so much to watch this injustice every day." And he went on to explain to me why the Americans and the Israelis ­ with their monstrous military arsenals ­ will never be victorious.

Jennifer Loewenstein will be a viisiting Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University beginning this fall. She can be reached:

Comment: When the facts are spelled out, the situation is clear. Pity not the poor settlers who will be moved from one illegal settlement to another. Rid your mind of the notion that the occupation of the Gaza strip is ending; it isn't. It is only changing its form, and not very subtlely at that.

But the press will continue to inundate us with those pictures of families being removed from their homes, and we will be expected to sympathise with all they are giving up in order to have peace. And it is all a lie.

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Palestinians fear 'big prison' after Gaza pullout
Wed Aug 17, 2:27 PM ET

BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip - Not far from the evacuated Israeli settlement of Dugit, Palestinian residents of Beit Lahiya village are torn between joy and bitterness, with some fearing they may end up in "a big prison."

The pessimistic argue that Israel will maintain a grip on the land, air and sea borders around the Gaza Strip after it has completed its pullout of 21 Jewish settlements there.

"How can I rejoice when we are going to find ourselves in a big prison?" asked Abdullah Ghobn, whose 11-year-old son and six of his cousins were killed earlier this year by Israeli tank shelling fired from the northern Gaza Nissanit settlement checkpoint.

"We are paying the price of the occupation. Our happiness will only be complete when all occupation forces and settlers have left Palestinian territory," he said morosely.

Twenty-year-old Zaki Ghobn, who saw his brother ripped apart by the same tank shelling, was equally bitter.

"How can we be glad when the soldiers are only pulling back a few hundred meters? They will still be deployed very near us. We will remain their hostages, within reach of their gunfire."

He said he doesn't believe in the pullout, saying that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "is making fun of us and of Arabs."

"A true pullout means a total pullout, especially from border crossings, so that we can create an independent and sovereign state on our sea and our territory," Ghobn said.

But in contrast, his neighbour, 30-year-old Amine Abu Halima, said he is happy because he was able to walk on his land for the first time since Dugit was evacuated and Palestinian security forces were deployed there.

"I am going to finally be able to cultivate the land," he said, the land which allowed his family to earn a good living in earlier times, before the settlers moved in.

He is glad to see the settlers go because "they made our lives more difficult."

"It's the beginning of a new era for us. We hope to be able to grow and export our own goods through our passages and not via the Israelis like in the past," he said.

But like other farmers, Halima must wait to start working his land until one month after all the settlements have been evacuated.

Many said they felt safer since Palestinian security forces arrived and set up tents facing Dugit, where they watched some 60 settlers being evacuated.

"All Palestinians want every inch of their land to be liberated, and we consider this pullout a beginning, not an end, as far as establishing our state goes," said Ahmed Kamel Abu Khussa, 45.

"We deserve it because our people have suffered from Israeli occupation for a long time," he said.

"I won't be able to believe it until the day these settlers leave and we can go back to our land, he said, regretting that the land had since been transformed into "desert" by the Israeli army.

But ever optimistic, he added: "We will plant again and transform our land into paradise."

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Drudge Report Flash
Wed Aug 17 2005 21:51:56 ET

"We are not waging a war on terror in this country. We're waging a war of terror. The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush!"

So declared Cindy Sheehan earlier this year during a rally at San Francisco State University.

Sheehan, who is demanding a second meeting with Bush, stated: "We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now." [...]

Comment: Sheehan is of course referring to the use of depleted uranium munitions, which create radioactive dust that is absorbed into the human body. And the US's own such nuclear weapons aren't just killing Iraqis - they are killing US troops as well.

"If George Bush believes his rhetoric and his bullshit, that this is a war for freedom and democracy, that he is spreading freedom and democracy, does he think every person he kills makes Iraq more free?"

"The whole world is damaged. Our humanity is damaged. If he thinks that it's so important for Iraq to have a U.S.-imposed sense of freedom and democracy, then he needs to sign up his two little party-animal girls. They need to go to this war."

Comment: So, what is Sheehan's solution to this problem?

"We want our country back and, if we have to impeach everybody from George Bush down to the person who picks up dog shit in Washington, we will impeach all those people."

Comment: The mainstream media focuses on Sheehan's use of swear words while ignoring the content of her discourse. Yes, Bush is the biggest terrorist in the world, the one with the biggest army, turning young men like Casey Sheehan into killers for the new Christo-Zionist Reich.

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Voice of the White House
August 15, 2005

"There is a great flap in the Rove quarter here inside the Monkey Palace. While the Imperial President is taking a long vacation from his serious duties in Texas, Rove and his evil dwarves are doing their very best to trash Cindy Sheehan , the mother who lost a son in Iraq and whom the thoroughly arrogant and stupid President will not talk to. The ongoing plan is to get Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Coulter and Drudge and his pin headed friends to trash her. Rove calls this the "Grass-Roots Response" task force and orders have been issued to the Friends in the Media to go ahead. Faked interviews with obscure White House staffers disguised as grieving parents of the recently killed in Iraq have been going on in the basement for a week now and I happened to blunder into one. If it wasn't so sick, it would be funny. This is just like something out of 'Wag the Dog' but in the case of Rove, it would be 'Grease the Pig.' Then these faked sound bites are sent off to paid media employees at the various networks: CNN, FOX, NBC and others to be played on prime time as "growing public outrage" at the "lies and self-seeking" efforts on the part of Ms. Sheehan and a "gang of left- wing Bush haters" and "anti-military left-wingers."

I have seen one of the scripts that O'Reilly is supposed to read, and will read, believe me, and it reads like something Dr. Goebbels would have trouble with it's so fake. Rumor around here has it (Bush is not here but his any friends are) is that he was ranting around his very bad taste "ranch house" that he wanted "that goddam bitch" arrested but since the media is now involved, the sight of Secret Service goons dragging off a Gold Star mother in front of the cameras is too much for anyone else (but Bush and Rove) to take. The Rove people, via the FBI, have been dredging the files looking for something…anything…bad to use against her. The slobbering Drudge would be given reports of jay walking, overdue library books, bad school grades or whatever these perverts can dig up. Well, to those of you fools who voted for him, George W. Bush is your man, not ours and you are stuck with him. You can wear the little flags or the crosses in your lapel but you still stink and shine like a dead mackerel in the moonlight."

See our Inside the White House archive.

Comment: Let's face it: smearing Cindy Sheehan is certainly not beyond Bush, Rove, and whole corrupt White House gang. Just look at what they did when they "cleaned house" at the CIA, or when they recently fired a four-star general for adultery even though his divorce proceedings had already begun. Then think about what they did to poor Jessica Lynch to drum up support for the Iraq war...

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Flashback: Rescued soldier: I was used
From Chris Ayres in Los Angeles
August 09, 2005

JESSICA LYNCH, the former US army supply clerk who became a national icon after her capture and rescue during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, says she was "used" by the Pentagon to "show the war was going great".

Ms Lynch, 22, told Time magazine: "I think I provided a way to boost everybody's confidence about the war . . . I was used as a symbol. It doesn't bother me anymore. It used to." Ms Lynch says that her book, I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, will "set the record straight".

Ms Lynch said that the television movie of her life was inaccurate. Ms Lynch said that she hopes to become a teacher. In a few weeks she begins classes at West Virginia University, where her tuition fees have been paid for by the state.

Ms Lynch, from Palestine, West Virginia, was a private in the US Army when she was captured in Iraq on March 23, 2003, near al-Nasiriyah, a crossing point over the Euphrates River. She suffered two spinal fractures, nerve damage and a shattered right arm, right foot and left leg when her Humvee crashed during a firefight.

Eleven other soldiers in her unit were killed in the ambush. She was rescued from an Iraqi hospital by US forces on April 1, 2003 - the first rescue of an American prisoner of war since the Second World War.

However, accounts of Ms Lynch's rescue were contradictory and it was claimed that the rescue was staged.

Comment: Getting back to the Sheehan story: right on cue, the pro-Bush mouthpieces have begun to implement Rove's alleged campaign...

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US right targets anti-war mother
Gary Younge
The Guardian
Wednesday August 17, 2005

Rightwing criticism of a bereaved mother who is camped outside President George Bush's Texas ranch in protest at the conflict in Iraq intensified yesterday as her campaign struck a nerve with growing anti-war opinion in the country.

Pro-war commentators characterised her as a "nut" who was being manipulated by the left. The internet gossip Matt Drudge inaccurately claimed that Cindy Sheehan "dramatically changed her account" of one meeting she had with Mr Bush. That claim was then picked up by Fox News and repeated on Slate's website by the columnist Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens accused Ms Sheehan of "spouting piffle" and lambasted her protest as "dreary, sentimental nonsense".

Personal attacks on her were set to grow yesterday after her husband of 28 years filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences". Patrick Sheehan, who was her high school boyfriend, is seeking a share of insurance money and benefits awarded by the US government after their soldier son's death in Iraq.

Ms Sheehan, 48, whose vigil in Crawford, Texas, has attracted huge media coverage throughout the US, has become a lightning rod for both pro- and anti-war campaigners during the past two weeks.

Her son Casey was killed when his unit was attacked by insurgents in Baghdad in April 2004. She wants to meet Mr Bush to discuss the war.

Several other parents who have lost their children in the conflict have joined her protest, as polls show public opposition to the war growing. However, Ms Sheehan has constructed a formidable media machine of her own.

TrueMajority, an anti-war group founded by Ben Cohen, one of the founders of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, has hired a Washington public relations firm to work with Ms Sheehan. And Joe Trippi, the man largely credited with Democratic hopeful Howard Dean's early success in last year's presidential election campaign, organised a conference with Ms Sheehan and liberal internet bloggers.

Despite her domestic rift, Ms Sheehan, from Vacaville, California, refuses to leave her makeshift peace camp in Crawford, which has been dubbed, "Camp Casey" until Mr Bush meets her.

The president, who is spending his summer holiday at the ranch, has expressed sympathy for her, but refuses to meet her. He did however send the national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, and the deputy White House chief of staff, Joe Hagin, to talk to her for 45 minutes.

Comment: There is no way Bush would meet with Sheehan. The meeting could not be scripted. Bush would have no control, and the psychopath cannot stand to have his decisions questioned.

Ms Sheehan was not impressed. "I think they thought I'd be very impressed and intimidated that these two high-level officials came to talk to this little grieving mother, and that I'd leave," she said.

Her presence has become a growing problem for the White House, which does not wish to seem heartless to a bereaved mother, but does not wish to be seen giving in to a demand from anti-war protesters.

Tension increased around her campsite yesterday after a pickup truck ran over wooden crosses erected at it, and residents petitioned county leaders to prevent large gatherings near the president's ranch.

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Fair? Balanced? A Study Finds It Does Not Matter
Published: August 18, 2005

THE share of Americans who believe that news organizations are "politically biased in their reporting" increased to 60 percent in 2005, up from 45 percent in 1985, according to polls by the Pew Research Center.

Many people also believe that biased reporting influences who wins or loses elections. A new study by Stefano DellaVigna of the University of California, Berkeley, and Ethan Kaplan of the Institute for International Economic Studies at Stockholm University, however, casts doubt on this view. Specifically, the economists ask whether the advent of the Fox News Channel, Rupert Murdoch's cable television network, affected voter behavior. They found that Fox had no detectable effect on which party people voted for, or whether they voted at all.

An appealing feature of their study is that it does not matter if Fox News represents the political center and the rest of the media the liberal wing, or Fox represents the extreme right and the rest of the media the middle. Fox's political orientation is clearly to the right of the rest of the media. Research has found, for example, that Fox News is much more likely than other news shows to cite conservative think tanks and less likely to cite liberal ones.

Comment: Gee, that's a shocking revelation!

Fox surely injected a new partisan perspective into political coverage on television. Did it matter?

The Fox News Channel started operating on Oct. 7, 1996, in a small number of cable markets. Professors DellaVigna and Kaplan painstakingly collected information on which towns offered Fox as part of their basic or extended cable service as of November 2000, and then linked this information to voting records for the towns. Their sample consists of 8,630 towns and cities from 24 states. (Because many states do not report vote tallies at the town level, they could not be included in the sample.)

Local cable companies adopted Fox in a somewhat idiosyncratic way. In November 2000, a third of the towns served by AT&T Broadband offered Fox while only 6 percent of those served by Adelphia Communications offered it. Fox spread more quickly in areas that leaned more to Republican candidates, but the imbalance was only slight. Furthermore, looking within Congressional districts, the likelihood that a town's cable provider offered Fox in 2000 was unrelated to the share of people who voted for Bob Dole, the Republican candidate for president in 1996, or the residents' educational attainment, racial makeup or unemployment rate.

Because Fox News started just before the presidential election in 1996 and was hardly available at the time of that election, a major question is whether the introduction of Fox in a community raised the likelihood that residents voted for George W. Bush over Al Gore in the 2000 election, as compared with the share who voted for Bob Dole over Bill Clinton in the (pre-Fox) 1996 election.

Disregarding third-party candidates, Professors DellaVigna and Kaplan found that towns that offered Fox by 2000 increased their vote share for the Republican presidential candidate by 6 percentage points (to 54 percent, from 48 percent) from 1996 to 2000, while those that did not offer Fox increased theirs by an even larger 7 percentage points (to 54 percent, from 47 percent).

When they made statistical adjustments to hold constant differences in demographic characteristics and unemployment, and looked at differences in voting behavior between towns that introduced and did not introduce Fox within the same Congressional district, the availability of Fox had a small and statistically insignificant effect on the increase in the share of votes for the Republican candidate. Thus, the introduction of Fox news did not appear to have increased the percentage of people voting for the Republican presidential candidate. A similar finding emerged for Congressional and senatorial elections.Voter turnout also did not noticeably change within towns that offered Fox by 2000 compared with those that did not.

By the summer of 2000, 17 percent of Americans said they regularly watched the Fox Cable Channel, and another 28 percent said they watched it sometimes. These numbers approached the viewership of the Cable News Network at the time.

Certainly many Democratic sympathizers feared that Fox gave Republican candidates an advantage. Al Franken, for example, called Fox "a veritable all-news Death Star" in Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Why was Fox inconsequential to voter behavior?

One possibility is that people search for television shows with a political orientation that matches their own. In this scenario, Fox would have been preaching to the converted. This, however, was not the case: Fox's viewers were about equally likely to identify themselves as Democrats as Republicans, according to a poll by the Pew in 2000.

Professors DellaVigna and Kaplan offer two more promising explanations. First, watching Fox could have confirmed both Democratic and Republican viewers' inclinations, an effect known as confirmatory bias in psychology. (Borrowing from Simon and Garfunkel, confirmatory bias is a tendency to hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest.) When Yankee and Red Sox fans watch replays of the same disputed umpire's ruling, for example, they both come away more convinced that their team was in the right. One might expect Fox viewers to have increased their likelihood of voting, however, if Fox energized both sides' bases.

The professors' preferred explanation is that the public manages to "filter" biased media reports. Fox's format, for example, might alert the audience to take the views expressed with more than the usual grain of salt. Audiences may also filter biases from other networks' shows.

The tendency for people to regard television news and political commentary as entertainment probably makes filtering easier. Fox's influence might also have been diluted because there were already many other ways to get political information.

Alan B. Krueger ( is the Bendheim professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University.

Comment: There, see? The pro-Bush Fox network is having absolutely no effect on anyone. Please go back to sleep, and don't forget to take your antidepressants.

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Sacrifice? Count Me Out

If You Supported the War, Pay For It
By Ted Rall

"ICH" -- -- NEW YORK-- "If America is truly on a war footing," Thom Shanker asks in the New York Times, "why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?" Military recruiters are coming up short of volunteers, yet neither party is pushing for a draft. No one is proposing a tax increase to cover the $60 billion annual cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars. There are no World War II-style war bond drives, no victory gardens, not even gas rationing. Back here in the fatherland, only "support our troops" car ribbons indicate that we're at war--and they aren't even bumper stickers, they're magnetic. Apparently Americans aren't even willing to sacrifice the finish on their automobiles to promote the cause.

"Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice, except us," the paper quotes an officer who just returned from a year in rose-petal-paved Iraq. "[Symbolic signs of support are] just not enough," grumbles a brigadier general. "There has to be more," he demands. "The absence of a call for broader national sacrifice in a time of war has become a near constant topic of discussion among officers and enlisted personnel," the general claims.

Northwestern University professor Charles Moskos says: "The political leaders are afraid to ask the public for any real sacrifice, which doesn't speak too highly of the citizenry."

To which I say: Screw that. It's not my duty to suffer for this pointless war. I've been against it all along, and you can stick your victory garden where the desert sun can't penetrate.

I was among hundreds of thousands of Americans who marched against invading Iraq in early 2003. Tens of millions cheered us on. The largest mass protest movement in history (so designated by the Guinness Book of World Records) brought together pacifists, humanists and people like me. We knew Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. We didn't believe that the same White House that propped up dictatorships in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia--that had, when it suited them, supported Saddam--could possibly be interested in liberating the people of Iraq. When we scrutinized coverage of the CIA's prewar analyses, we found that there wasn't any. There were only reports dating back to 1998, ancient history in the intelligence business. We absolutely didn't trust Dick "cakewalk" Cheney's breezy predictions.

Bush and Cheney ignored our concerns. Instead of building a solid case and bipartisan political consensus, they bullied and lied to Congress and the UN to scam us into this unwinnable war. Who can blame them? They work for ExxonMobil and Halliburton, not the American people. But they, not us, broke Iraq. It can't be fixed, it's not our fault and it's not our problem. There's no reason to relinquish our creature comforts to back their grubby little oil grab.

The most galling aspect of this fiasco is that it was entirely predictable. I know; I predicted it. Here's my column written back in July 2002:

"Most experts expect Iraq to disintegrate into civil war after an overthrow of Saddam's oppressive Ba'ath Party," I wrote. "Opinion of the United States is now at an all-time low among Muslims around the world. Going after Iraq will make matters worse. Why give radical anti-American Islamists even more political ammunition with which to recruit suicide bombers and attract the financial donations that fund their assaults?"

I'm no genius, but even I could see that this war was doomed eight months before the invasion:

"Do the Kurds deserve a homeland? Sure. Would Iraq be better off without Saddam? Probably. But if we're smart, we won't be the ones to blow over this particular house of cards. We have too much to lose and too little to gain in the mess that would certainly ensue."

Did I call that one or what?

David Hendrickson, a scholar at Colorado College, tells the Times: "Bush understands that the support of the public for war--especially the war in Iraq--is conditioned on demanding little of the public." Of course, Bush himself hasn't given up a second of vacation or a single donated dollar, much less one of his hard-partying daughters, to the "war effort." Sacrifice is a hard sell down here among the citizenry when we don't see it starting where it should start, among our leaders.

I'm already sacrificing too much for a war I always believed was stupid and wrong. I'm paying three dollars a gallon for buck-fifty gas and walking through gauntlets of over-armed National Guardboys at airports and bus stations. I'm in greater danger than ever before of getting blown up by a pissed-off fanatic. And I dread the giant tax hike we'll eventually need to pay off Bush's deficit. But these aren't enough sacrifices for Bush and his vainglorious generals, who are planning "a Civilian Reserve, a sort of Peace Corps for professionals...a program to seek commitments from bankers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, electricians, plumbers and solid-waste disposal experts to deploy to conflict zones for months at a time on reconstruction assignments, to relieve pressure on the military."

If you voted for Bush, here's your chance to plant your butt where your ridiculous car magnet is, smack dab in the middle of the Sunni Triangle. Good luck.

Ted Rall, America's hardest-hitting editorial cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate, is an award-winning commentator who also works as an illustrator, columnist, and radio commentator. Visit his website

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Courthouse Jackboots
Corrupted Justice

August 18, 2005

Wonder of wonders! A Louisiana prosecutor has been disciplined by the Louisiana Supreme Court for withholding exculpatory evidence in order to get a death sentence for a 16-year old. The witness who obligingly picked the suspect out of a lineup had told the police that she was not wearing her glasses or contact lens at the time of the shooting, but her admission did not reach the defense attorney.

According to Susan Finch, reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, this is the first time in Louisiana history that an erring prosecutor has been punished.

It is not much of a punishment--a three-month suspension to be waived unless he commits another ethics violation within the next year. But the prosecutor, Roger Jordan, is upset that the high court has blemished his reputation and is asking the court to reconsider.

Jordan claims that he did not knowingly violate the rule that requires prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. He says the rule is "vague" and that in applying the rule to him the court legislated from the bench.

Jordan's claims tell us a lot about the state of prosecutorial ethics. The legal prohibition against withholding exculpatory evidence is ancient. But prosecutors today are judged by conviction rates, not by ethical behavior.

Conviction rates are believed to be a sign that prosecutors are protecting society from criminals, serving justice and being budget effective. To get high conviction rates, prosecutors engage in a wide variety of behavior that would have shocked earlier times. They suborn perjury, reward false testimony, withhold exculpatory evidence, and force defendants to incriminate themselves with plea bargains by piling on charges until the defendant or his lawyer gives up.

Jordan's whining about vague rules and blemished reputation is hypocritical in view of the treatment prosecutors hand out to their victims. Last February prosecutors convicted New York defense attorney Lynne Stewart of violating a letter from the Department of Justice (sic) telling her the conditions on which she could represent her client! There is no statute or regulation behind the letter.

How was Stewart to know that it was a felony to disobey a prosecutor's letter?

Not content with this absurdity, prosecutors convicted the translator that Stewart used in order to communicate with her client. The prosecutor claims that the translator knew that Stewart was disobeying the letter telling her how to represent her client. But if a defense attorney did not know that the Justice (sic) Department could legislate criminal law by writing an attorney a letter, how would a translator know, assuming he even saw the letter.

Regulators and prosecutors create crimes by how they interpret regulations. Defendants don't know they have committed a crime until a prosecutor springs his interpretation on them. You can't get laws more vague than this.

Martha Stewart was sent to prison for allegedly lying to a prosecutor about a non-crime, and she wasn't even under oath. She was a victim of the prosecutor's desire to gain name recognition with a high profile case in order to run for political office.

Prosecutors are in the process of criminalizing the protections that were put in our legal system to protect the innocent, such as the attorney-client privilege. We have reached the point where an attorney who does too good of a job defending his client can be indicted for aiding and abetting a criminal.

Prosecutors have destroyed the rule of law and put rule by prosecutors in its place.

Decades ago attorney generals such as Robert Jackson told prosecutors that they had a twofold duty: to the law and to the defendant. Their job, he told them, was to serve justice through a fair trial, not to gain a conviction at all cost.

Prosecutors no longer hear such instructions. Defendants, whether innocent or guilty, quickly learn that they are not going to get a fair trial and that a jury will not be presented with a fair case.
Defendants incriminate themselves with a plea bargain, because the penalties from going to trial are much heavier.

In 95 out of 100 cases, the evidence against the defendant is never tested in court. This has corrupted police work. It is easier to round up the usual suspects than to solve a case. High recidivism rates may simply reflect the practice of rounding up those with records.

A good indicator of the corruption of the criminal justice system is the departure of compassion. I can remember when prosecutors would investigate the defendant's side of the story and when police were helpful and used judgment in exercising their authority. Now they go out of their way to ruin people. In the news recently, police arrested two little boys, seven and eight years old, for fighting. They handcuffed and booked the children. Police traumatized a twelve year old girl by handcuffing and booking her for eating a french fry in a Washington DC metro station.

Recently a father was arrested for child abuse because he had his two year old with him when his truck broke down at 3 AM. The father was put in jail and the kid was put in custody. Whatever stress the father was under was certainly worsened by the poor judgment of the police.

The days are long gone when the police would have called a tow truck and given the father and baby a ride home.

Comment: These incidents are part of a larger plan of controlling the population. The fear must be spread so that people become accustomed to obeying authority without a second thought.

The shooting of de Menezes in the London Tube in another example. Shoot first, ask questions later. The public in the UK now knows that the cops will shoot to kill. They have been told that other innocents may die.

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Edwardian summer

Welcome to the second age of globalisation, and the labour practices of Victorian mill owners
Larry Elliott
Thursday August 18, 2005
The Guardian

Crinoline and croquet are out. As yet, no political activist has thrown themselves in front of the royal horse on Derby Day. Even so, some historians can spot the parallels. It is a time of rapid technological change. It is a period when the dominance of the world's superpower is coming under threat. It is an epoch when prosperity masks underlying economic strain. And, crucially, it is a time when policy-makers are confident that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Welcome to the Edwardian summer of the second age of globalisation.

Spare a moment to take stock of what's been happening in the past few months. Let's start with the oil price, which has rocketed to more than $65 a barrel, more than double its level 18 months ago. The accepted wisdom is that we shouldn't worry our little heads about that, because the incentives are there for business to build new production and refining capacity, which will effortlessly bring demand and supply back into balance and bring crude prices back to $25 a barrel. As Tommy Cooper used to say, just like that.

Then there's the result of the French referendum on the European constitution, seen as thick-headed luddites railing vainly against the modern world. What the French needed to realise, the argument went, was that there was no alternative to the reforms that would make the country more flexible, more competitive, more dynamic. Just the sort of reforms that allowed Gate Gourmet to sack hundreds of its staff at Heathrow after the sort of ultimatum that used to be handed out by Victorian mill owners. An alternative way of looking at the French "non" is that our neighbours translate "flexibility" as "you're fired".

Finally, take a squint at the United States. Just like Britain a century ago, a period of unquestioned superiority is drawing to a close. China is still a long way from matching America's wealth, but it is growing at a stupendous rate and economic strength brings geo-political clout. Already, there is evidence of a new scramble for Africa as Washington and Beijing compete for oil stocks. Moreover, beneath the surface of the US economy, all is not well. Growth looks healthy enough, but the competition from China and elsewhere has meant the world's biggest economy now imports far, far more than it exports. The US is living beyond its means to the tune of $60bn a month, but in this time of studied complacency a current account deficit worth 6% of gross domestic product is seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.

And so it goes on. Iraq is not another Vietnam, the bombs in London on 7/7 had nothing to do with Tony Blair's support for George Bush, rocketing oil prices do not mean a return to the recessions of the mid-1970s and early 1980s. Relax. Don't worry. These guys know what they're doing. Here in the UK, the government boasts proudly about its stewardship of the economy, when all the evidence is that activity collapses like a punctured souffle as soon as action is taken to restrain property speculation. Britain's manufacturing sector is a hollowed-out shell, claimant-count unemployment has risen for six months in a row, the Bank of England is at war with itself over whether interest rates should be cut, and the only person who believes there is not a gaping black hole in the public finances is the chancellor of the exchequer, of whom very little has been seen or heard since the election.

In this new Edwardian summer, comfort is taken from the fact that dearer oil has not had the savage inflationary consequences of 1973-74, when a fourfold increase in the cost of crude brought an abrupt end to a postwar boom that had gone on uninterrupted for a quarter of a century. True, the cost of living has been affected by higher transport costs, but we are talking of inflation at 2.3% and not 27%. Yet the idea that higher oil prices are of little consequence is fanciful. If people are paying more to fill up their cars it leaves them with less to spend on everything else, but there is a reluctance to consume less. In the 1970s, unions were strong and able to negotiate large, compensatory pay deals that served to intensify inflationary pressure. In 2005, that avenue is pretty much closed off, but the abolition of all the controls on credit that existed in the 1970s means that households are invited to borrow more rather than consume less. The knock-on effects of higher oil prices are thus felt in different ways - through high levels of indebtedeness, in inflated asset prices and in balance of payments deficits.

Back in 1914, there was a good case for saying that peace and prosperity would go on indefinitely. There had not been a major war involving all the great powers for 100 years, and the price level in Britain was lower in the year that the first world war started than it was in the year of Waterloo. New inventions and technology that would shape the 20th century - the motor car, the aircraft, the cinema - were being developed. Yet the following three decades did not see the final flowering of the first age of globalisation but its disintegration. Only after two world wars and a global slump was it accepted that warning signs had been there long before the assassination at Sarajevo but been tragically ignored.

History does not always repeat itself. It may be different this time, with the second age of globalisation avoiding the pitfalls of the first. There are those who point out, rightly, that modern industrial capitalism has proved mightily resilient these past 250 years, and that a sign of the enduring strength of the system has been the way it has apparently shrugged off everything - a stock market crash, 9/11, rising oil prices - that has been thrown at it in the half decade since the millennium. Even so, there are at least three reasons for concern. First, we have been here before. In terms of political economy, the first era of globalisation mirrored our own. There was a belief in unfettered capital flows, in free trade and in the power of the market. It was a time of massive income inequality and unprecedented migration. Eventually, though, there was a backlash, manifested in a struggle between free traders and protectionists, and in rising labour militancy.

Second, the world is traditionally at its most fragile at times when the global balance of power is in flux. By the end of the 19th century, Britain's role as the hegemonic power was being challenged by the rise of the United States, Germany and Japan while the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires were clearly in rapid decline. Looking ahead from 2005, it is clear that over the next two or three decades, both China and India - which together account for almost half the world's population - will flex their muscles.

Finally, there's the question of what rising oil prices tell us. The emergence of China and India means global demand for crude is likely to remain high at a time when many experts say production is about to top out. If supply constraints start to bite, any declines in the price are likely to be short-term cyclical affairs punctuating a long upward trend. In those circumstances it would be the height of folly to assume that there will be no economic consequences or that there will not be an intense - perhaps even bloody - struggle for the resource that more than any other has shaped the modern world.

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Fire Dept Tape Invalidates Key Points Official 911 Story
By Robert Anderson

Most people -- or certainly many people, especially in the U.S. -- believe the complete structural failure and total collapse of the World Trade Center towers was caused by the combustion of large quantities of jet fuel, dispersed and ignited after "hijacked" jets crashed into each tower on Sept. 11, 2001. That is the scenario promulgated to the far corners of the globe by official U.S. government sources.

Interestingly, jet fuel -- somewhat similar to common kerosene and not much different than charcoal lighter fluid -- burns at roughly 875 degrees. Whether a little or a lot of fuel is burned, it still burns at roughly the same temperature. Now: Think about all the kerosene burning in all those kerosene heaters (and lanterns), constructed primarily of thin, low-grade, steel sheet metal. Think about all those kerosene heaters burning merrily away, with temperatures perhaps approaching 875 degrees at the hottest. Think about how parts of all those kerosene heaters would then turn into bubbling pools of melted steel before the horrified eyes of countless poor souls who had no idea the fuel used in their heaters would actually "MELT" the heaters themselves.

Of course, this does NOT happen -- which gives us a pretty good idea that what had been sold far and wide by the U.S. government and innumerable media outlets as the "cause" of the trade center towers' collapse is in fact absolute fiction and fantasy, without the slightest shred of scientific fact or collaborative evidence and testimony to support such monstrous and utter nonsense. Hardened steel such as that used in the WTC beams and girders needs temperatures of approximately TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED (2,800) degrees to actually melt, and temperatures approaching 2,000 degrees to turn bright red and soften,

The official version of the collapse of the WTC towers is -- again -- that burning jet fuel eventually melted or liquefied the massive and seriously hard steel beams of the WTC tower(s), to the point where the beams all gave way, unilaterally and simultaneously throughout both the gigantic structures and causing their total and nearly instantaneous collapse. Well, if such doesn't happen with kerosene heaters, you can bet it doesn't happen to huge steel-beamed buildings -- and indeed it never has; especially when the fires which supposedly "caused" such total structural failure had in fact long since largely burned themselves out.

In fact, nearly a year after the monumental and treacherous catastrophe which struck lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, an audio tape of firefighter communications was finally released -- which proves that the actual conditions at and near the point of impact in the north WTC tower only moments before the building's collapse were totally inconsistent with the conditions which had to have existed for the official version to be even minimally correct.

Firefighters who had reached the eightieth floor of the north tower reported they were eyewitnesses to fact much of the fire caused by burning jet fuel had by then largely burned out, although some burning and smoldering areas still remained. Not once did firefighters on site at "ground zero" of ground zero indicate the slightest concern that fires were still burning at an intensity which threatened their own or others' safety -- certainly not that conditions were so severe that the very integrity of the entire structure itself was threatened! On the contrary: they indicated that conditions were controllable: that they planned to conduct survivors safely out of the building, and to then bring in equipment and personnel to extinguish any remaining burning/smoldering areas.

And what, exactly, does all this mean? It means that the total structural failure of the two massive, superbly-engineered/designed edifices known as the WTC towers did NOT result from jet fuel flash-fires burning at under 900 degrees Fahrenheit -- when steel used in WTC construction needed temperatures over THREE TIMES HIGHER to actually "MELT."

And THIS means that the towers were in fact toppled by use of BOMBS or similar methods.

And THIS means that a stupendously far-reaching conspiracy and cover-up -- involving the highest levels of US government -- lies behind the 9-11 "attacks on America".

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Officer Says Military Blocked Sharing of Files on Terrorists
New York Times

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 - A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly.

The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the bureau.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview on Monday night that the small, highly classified intelligence program, known as Able Danger, had identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohamed Atta, and three other future hijackers by name by mid-2000, and tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the Washington field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share its information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 attacks were still being planned.

"I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued," Colonel Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the F.B.I. in 2000 and early 2001.

He said he learned later that lawyers associated with the Special Operations Command of the Defense Department had canceled the F.B.I. meetings because they feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States.

"It was because of the chain of command saying we're not going to pass on information - if something goes wrong, we'll get blamed," he said.

The Defense Department did not dispute the account from Colonel Shaffer, a 42-year-old native of Kansas City, Mo., who is the first military officer associated with the program to acknowledge his role publicly.

At the same time, the department said in a statement that it was "working to gain more clarity on this issue" and that "it's too early to comment on findings related to the program identified as Able Danger." The F.B.I. referred calls about Colonel Shaffer to the Pentagon.

The account from Colonel Shaffer, a reservist who is also working part time for the Pentagon, corroborates much of the information that the Sept. 11 commission has acknowledged it received about Able Danger last July from a Navy captain who was also involved with the program but whose name has not been made public. In a statement issued last week, the leaders of the commission said the panel had concluded that the intelligence program "did not turn out to be historically significant."

The statement said that while the commission did learn about Able Danger in 2003 and immediately requested Pentagon files about it, none of the documents turned over by the Defense Department referred to Mr. Atta or any of the other hijackers.

Colonel Shaffer said that his role in Able Danger was as liaison with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, and that he was not an intelligence analyst. The interview with Colonel Shaffer on Monday was arranged for The New York Times and Fox News by Representative Curt Weldon, the Pennsylvania Republican who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a champion of data-mining programs like Able Danger.

Colonel Shaffer's lawyer, Mark Zaid, said in an interview that he was concerned that Colonel Shaffer was facing retaliation from the Defense Department, first for having talked to the Sept. 11 commission staff in October 2003 and now for talking with news organizations.

Mr. Zaid said that Colonel Shaffer's security clearance was suspended last year because of what the lawyer said were a series of "petty allegations" involving $67 in personal charges on a military cellphone. He said that despite the disciplinary action, Colonel Shaffer had been promoted this year from major.

Colonel Shaffer said he had decided to allow his name to be used in part because of his frustration with the statement issued last week by the commission leaders, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton.

The commission said in its final report last year that American intelligence agencies had not identified Mr. Atta as a terrorist before Sept. 11, 2001, when he flew an American Airlines jet into one of the World Trade Center towers in New York.

A commission spokesman did not return repeated phone calls on Tuesday for comment. A Democratic member of the commission, Richard Ben-Veniste, the former Watergate prosecutor, said in an interview on Tuesday that while he could not judge the credibility of the information from Colonel Shaffer and others, the Pentagon needed to "provide a clear and comprehensive explanation regarding what information it had in its possession regarding Mr. Atta."

"And if these assertions are credible," Mr. Ben-Veniste continued, "the Pentagon would need to explain why it was that the 9/11 commissioners were not provided this information despite requests for all information regarding Able Danger."

Colonel Shaffer said he had provided information about Able Danger and its identification of Mr. Atta in a private meeting in October 2003 with members of the Sept. 11 commission staff when they visited Afghanistan, where he was then serving. Commission members have disputed that, saying that they do not recall hearing Mr. Atta's name during the briefing and that the name did not appear in documents about Able Danger that were later turned over by the Pentagon.

"I would implore the 9/11 commission to support a follow-on investigation to ascertain what the real truth is," Colonel Shaffer said in the interview this week. "I do believe the 9/11 commission should have done that job: figuring out what went wrong with Able Danger."

"This was a good news story because, before 9/11, you had an element of the military - our unit - which was actually out looking for Al Qaeda," he continued. "I can't believe the 9/11 commission would somehow believe that the historical value was not relevant."

Colonel Shaffer said that because he was not an intelligence analyst, he was not involved in the details of the procedures used in Able Danger to glean information from terrorist databases, nor was he aware of which databases had supplied the information that might have led to the name of Mr. Atta or other terrorists so long before the Sept. 11 attacks.

But he said he did know that Able Danger had made use of publicly available information from government immigration agencies, from Internet sites and from paid search engines like LexisNexis.

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Yergin on the oil 'shortage'
Wednesday, August 17, 2005

If you're enjoying the massive increase in the profits of the oil companies caused by the conspiracy to force up the price of oil by talking about shortages and crises, you might not enjoy what Daniel Yergin has to say (my emphasis in bold):

"Our new, field-by-field analysis of production capacity, led by my colleagues Peter Jackson and Robert Esser, is quite at odds with the current view and leads to a strikingly different conclusion: There will be a large, unprecedented buildup of oil supply in the next few years. Between 2004 and 2010, capacity to produce oil (not actual production) could grow by 16 million barrels a day - from 85 million barrels per day to 101 million barrels a day - a 20 percent increase. Such growth over the next few years would relieve the current pressure on supply and demand."


"This is not the first time that the world has 'run out of oil.' It's more like the fifth. Cycles of shortage and surplus characterize the entire history of the oil industry."


"The growing supply of energy should not lead us to underestimate the longer-term challenge of providing energy for a growing world economy. At this point, even with greater efficiency, it looks as though the world could be using 50 percent more oil 25 years from now. That is a very big challenge. But at least for the next several years, the growing production capacity will take the air out of the fear of imminent shortage. And that in turn will provide us the breathing space to address the investment needs and the full panoply of technologies and approaches - from development to conservation - that will be required to fuel a growing world economy, ensure energy security and meet the needs of what is becoming the global middle class."

Yergin is the author of "The Prize", an excellent history of the oil industry. I wouldn't mind this oil-shortage scam so much if it was the first time they've tried it, but they keep pulling it again and again and we keep falling for it. Some people think the oil crisis of the 1970's was engineered in order to make the North Sea oil commercially viable, and thus keep Britain from going bankrupt. Technology keeps advancing, and higher oil prices just allow oil sources to be developed that were formerly not profitable. The big oil companies are making billions and billions of dollars in record profits, selling the same amount of oil as always, all on the basis of fooling us again into believing there is an incurable shortage. We're told that the price is going up due to supply and demand, when most of the increase is due to the falling real value of the American Dollar (another reason to start pricing oil in terms of a stable currency like the Euro). Since the main problem facing the world today is global warming caused by our burning too much fossil fuel, a shortage of oil is probably the best news the world could have, but we are unfortunately stuck with having enough oil for the foreseeable future. Of course, another foolish war on any country in the Middle East would change things considerably.

Comment: "Peak Oil". It's a sham.

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State Dept. Warned of Poor Iraq Planning
Wed Aug 17,11:14 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The State Department warned U.S. Central Command before the invasion of Iraq of "serious planning gaps" for postwar security, according to newly declassified documents.

In a memorandum dated Feb. 7, 2003 - one month before the beginning of the Iraq war - State Department officials also wrote that "a failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally."

The documents were acquired by George Washington University's National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act. They were posted on the research group's Web site Wednesday and first reported by NBC News.

The February 2003 memo was written by three State Department bureau chiefs for Undersecretary Paula Dobriansky. The authors wrote, "We have raised these issues with top CENTCOM officials and General Garner." Retired Army Gen. Jay Garner was the first U.S. administrator in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The bureau chiefs warned that there could be "serious planning gaps for post-conflict public security and humanitarian assistance between the end of the war and the beginning of reconstruction."

A State Department report to Congress nine months into the war offered a more optimistic assessment. The Dec. 15, 2003, report said: "Iraqis are playing an increasing role both in routine civil policing and in combating the terror and sabotage ... . More and more Iraqis are coming forward with intelligence information that helps the Coalition conduct increasingly successful operations to prevent planned terrorist attacks, capture insurgents and seize weapons caches."

"At the same time," the report said, "the insurgents have used more sophisticated tactics."

The authors also acknowledged that "restoring public safety remains more challenging than dealing with ordinary crime."

State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper declined to comment on the newly released documents Wednesday night.

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700 more US troops head for Iraq to guard prisons 2005-08-18 10:21:26

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (Xinhuanet)-- Responding to the need to manage a rising number of detainees in Iraq, the Pentagon announced Wednesday that it will send an additional 700 troops to that country.

The deployment is specifically aimed to bolster prison operations, said Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman.

"The basic fact driving this deployment is the steady rise of the prison population," he said.

The number of prisoners held in US military detention centers in Iraq has more than doubled since the autumn, climbing from 5,400 in September to more than 10,800 now, according to the latest Pentagon figures.

The surge has filled existing prisons to capacity and prompted commanders to embark on an unanticipated prison expansion plan.

US Military attributed the influx of detainees to intensified counterinsurgency operations by Iraqi as well as US forces.

However, local analysts said the rising prison population also reflects the persistence of the insurgency itself.

Under the deployment plan, a battalion of 700 soldiers from theUS 82nd Airborne Division will head for Iraq over the next two months.

The unit will engage in a number of detention-related operations, such as securing the area around a prison compound or transporting detainees from one prison to another.

Bryan Whitman, another Pentagon spokesman, stressed that the move does not indicate that the Pentagon has decided to temporarily increase US troop levels in Iraq to secure Iraq's constitutional referendum in October and governmental elections inDecember.

The US military currently runs three main detention centers in Iraq and a fourth prison is under construction.

US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last month that hewants the Iraqi government to move toward assuming full responsibility for detainee security and control.

But no date has been set for such a transfer.

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Cypriot plane crash mystery deepens with reports of last-minute rescue bid
Last Updated Thu, 18 Aug 2005 07:34:06 EDT
CBC News

Broadcast reports from Greek defence officials on Wednesday said a crew member or passenger may have made a last, desperate attempt to save a Cypriot passenger jet before it slammed into a mountainside north of Athens, killing all 121 people aboard.

However, Greece's government and military officials refused to comment on the reports until the end of an investigation, heightening speculation about what caused the mysterious crash of the Helios Airways flight from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Athens.

In London, the British pilots' union urged Greek authorities to release preliminary findings for the sake of the aviation industry.

"There have been several apparently conflicting reports and a number of statements that just don't add up," Capt. Mervyn Granshaw, head of the British Airline Pilots' Association, said without elaborating. "There is a concern in our industry to learn, as quickly as possible, what happened ... If there is too much delay, the speculation will increase."

From the very beginning, the Greek government has said the cause of the crash was likely technical failure and not terrorism. But with so many unanswered questions, industry experts said Wednesday it was too soon to tell.

"Until they can absolutely rule it out, they've got to consider a terrorist act or some sort of sabotage as a potential factor," said Richard Healing, former member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Two Greek air force F-16 jets were scrambled after the Boeing 737 lost radio contact over the Aegean Sea. The F-16 pilots reported seeing the pilot's seat empty and the co-pilot slumped over the controls, possibly unconscious, according to the Greek government.

The government also said the F-16 pilots saw two unidentified people in the cockpit trying to regain control of the plane. Authorities have not released the fighter pilots' account of the passenger jet's final 23 minutes of flight or how it crashed.

But Greek state-run and private media, quoting anonymous Defence Ministry officials, have said the F-16 pilots also saw someone in the cockpit -- probably a man -- take control of the plane as it flew in a gradually descending holding pattern, apparently on autopilot, at about 11,000 metres near Athens airport.

That person then banked the plane away from Athens, lowering it first to 600 metres and then climbing back up to 2,100 metres before the plane apparently ran out of fuel and crashed.

For those manoeuvres to happen, someone who knew how to work the airplane had to have been in control, said Paul Czysz, emeritus professor of aeronautical engineering at St. Louis University. The lack of air-traffic control contact also was suspicious, he added.

"Obviously, he didn't want to contact the tower," he said. "It's happened before."

According to the media accounts, the person flying the Helios plane made an effort to land in the mountainous terrain. By that time, the plane had been flying for about an hour and a half beyond its scheduled arrival time -- and twice as long as a normal flight from Cyprus to Athens.

The reports also said the person at the controls was likely 25-year-old flight attendant Andreas Prodromou, whose relatives have said he had a pilot's licence. Chief investigator Akrivos Tsolakis has confirmed someone apart from the pilot and co-pilot on board was qualified to fly an aircraft, but would not elaborate.

The Helios flight was declared "renegade" when it failed to respond to radio calls shortly after entering Greek airspace, clearing the way for Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis to order the F-16s to shoot it down if it was deemed a threat to populated areas.

But government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos insisted there was no such threat, and that Caramanlis did not consider that option.

Magnus Ranstorp, director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said it was a close call.

"There hasn't been any situation like we saw recently with the Greek case where you were so close to taking this decision," Ranstorp said.

A team of six medical examiners has been trying to determine whether anything on board the plane made the passengers and crew lose consciousness before the crash.

Autopsy results on 26 bodies identified have shown passengers and at least two crew members -- including the co-pilot -- were alive, but not necessarily conscious, when the plane went down.

Investigators are also looking into claims the plane had technical problems in the past.

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Bird flu case detected at chicken farm in east Japan 2005-08-18 21:32:49

TOKYO, Aug. 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Chickens at a farm in Konosu, Tokyo's neighboring Saitama Prefecture in east Japan, have tested positive for bird flu virus, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said Thursday.

The virus detected is of the H5 variety but is considered to bea weaker type because no mass deaths have occurred at the farm, according to the ministry.

The Saitama prefectural government has decided to cull the farm's 98,300 chickens and ban the transfer of chickens and eggs within 5 kilometers from the farm, which produces eggs for processed food.

Japan reported an outbreak of bird flu, the first in the country since 1925, in Yamaguchi Prefecture last December.

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West unwittingly pushes Russia and China to rapprochement - expert
14:30 | 18/ 08/ 2005

MOSCOW, August 18 (RIA Novosti) - A wave of criticism from the West has intensified Russia's and China's sense of strategic isolation, which is pushing them toward rapprochement, a Canadian military expert on East Asia told a popular Russian daily Thursday.

Speaking to Vremya Novostei about Peace Mission-2005, Russian-Chinese war games in the Far East, Yihong Zhang said the exercises showed that Russia and China trusted each other more now than they did in the past.

The expert said China was deliberately exaggerating the degree of its rapprochement with Russia because Beijing took the view that the exercises could be used to threaten Taiwan, and send a warning to Japan and the United States. Zhang said the move had been successful, as some newspapers in Hong Kong and Taiwan had already written that Russia would help China annex Taiwan.

However, Zhang said he was convinced this would not happen because Russia had no such commitments to China, and if a conflict broke out around Taiwan, Russia would not take on Japan and the U.S.

However, he said the exercises were politically advantageous for Russia. According to the expert, Russia and China have had more clashes with the West, and the exercises have given them an opportunity to remind the West of their military might.

The expert said stronger military ties between Washington, Japan and South Korea would ensue as a reaction to Moscow-Beijing military rapprochement.

Zhang said Americans might also invite Russia to take part in a similar war game in the Far East to ease their allies' concerns about a Chinese-Russian alliance. A similar proposal may also come from Japan - with due account for the country's legislation, which prohibits its soldiers from traveling overseas, the newspaper said.

The expert said the exercises had both political and military significance, as it was important for both armies to organize military cooperation, including in management, control, liaison and reconnaissance.

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Russia, China launch first major wargames amid US concern
Thursday August 18, 2:46 PM

Russia and China launched their first-ever joint wargames in a show of military might they insisted was not aimed at any other country after the United States expressed concern.

Washington, which has indicated unease over the pace of China's military build-up, is not attending as an observer but said it is closely monitoring the drills, warning they should not undermine regional stability.

The week-long exercises involving 10,000 troops, naval ships, bombers and fighter planes began in the Russian city of Vladivostok and will later move to the Yellow Sea and the area off the Jiaodong peninsula in eastern China.

Chinese defence officials said they would focus on the ability of Russian and Chinese forces to fight separatism and terrorism, while strengthening mutual trust between two of the world's major powers. [...]

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Iran warns EU over nuclear pressure
Wed Aug 17, 1:31 PM ET

TEHRAN - Senior Iranian officials warned the European Union to stop pressuring the Islamic republic to limit its nuclear activities and setting conditions for future negotiations.

"After re-starting the activities at Isfahan, we stress that we should have the continuation of negotiations without any pre-conditions," said Manouchehr Mottaki, nominated as Iran's new foreign minister under hardline President Mahmood Ahmadinejad.

Iran is at loggerheads with the international community after resuming uranium ore conversion, the precursor to the ultra-sensitive process of uranium enrichment, at a facility near Isfahan.

The step ended a nine-month freeze agreed during talks with Britain, France and Germany -- who have been trying to convince Iran to abandon atomic energy technology that could also provide it with the capability to build a bomb.

But Mottaki told the student news agency ISNA that "Iran's transparent, logical and legal handling (should) convince the European side to join negotiations."

A similar warning was made by the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Mohammad Saidi.

"The rougher and faster these countries make the game, the more decisive we become to operate the rest of our nuclear facilities," he told ISNA.

Accused by the United States of seeking nuclear weapons, Tehran insists it has the right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But Iran has so far maintained its suspension of uranium enrichment at its Natanz facility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has called on Iran to halt all nuclear fuel cycle work and the UN watchdog is to report September 3 on Tehran's compliance with international safeguards.

Iran has refused to backtrack, despite the risk of being referred to the UN Security Council.

"Legally the IAEA is not in a position to talk about a violation," Saidi said, calling on the Europeans to deal with Iran's nuclear issue "logically and not to jeopardize and agitate the region." [...]

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Two Chicago Cops Charged With Battery
Associated Press
August 18, 2005

CHICAGO - Two Chicago Police officers have been charged with battery and official misconduct after one allegedly punched a suspected shoplifter and the other was accused of yanking a 14-year-old girl's ponytail after suspecting her of shoplifting, the police superintendent said Wednesday.

Both incidents were caught on store surveillance cameras while officers were questioning the suspects, Police Superintendent Philip Cline said.

"Based on what I saw, the offender posed no immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others in the room," Cline said. He said the officers' behavior was "unacceptable."

Larry Guy and Alexandra Martinez, both 11-year veterans of the department, were charged Tuesday with battery and official misconduct. Guy also was charged with attempting to obstruct justice.

Martinez allegedly slapped and pulled the ponytail of the teenage girl suspected of shoplifting at a J.C. Penney store in April. Guy allegedly punched and shoved a 21-year-old man suspected of shoplifting at a Target store in June. [...]

The misconduct charge is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and the other charges are misdemeanors, each punishable by up to a year in prison.

Cline has also started proceedings to fire the two officers. [...]

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US senators: Global warming obvious in far north
Aug 17 7:04 PM US/Eastern

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Fresh from visits to Canada's Yukon Territory and Alaska's northernmost city, four U.S. senators said on Wednesday that signs of rising temperatures on Earth are obvious and they called on Congress to act.

"If you can go to the Native people and walk away with any doubt about what's going on, I just think you're not listening," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democrat Hillary Clinton of New York told reporters in Anchorage that Inupiat Eskimo residents in Barrow, Alaska, have found their ancestral land and traditional lifestyle disrupted by disappearing sea ice, thawing permafrost, increased coastal erosion and changes to wildlife habitat.

Heat-stimulated beetle infestation has also killed vast amounts of the spruce forest in the Yukon Territory, they said.

Such observations provide more ammunition in the fight for a bill, co-sponsored by McCain and Connecticut Democrat Joe Lieberman, to cap U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, McCain said. That bill has repeatedly failed to pass the Senate.

"People around the country are going to demand it," McCain said. "It's the special interests versus the people's interest."

The United States is the biggest emitter of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, which many scientists have linked to global warming. [...]

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One quarter of China's farmland hit by pests
Wed Aug 17, 9:24 AM ET

BEIJING - Rice, the main staple for the majority of China's 1.3 billion people, is under threat with one quarter of the nation's farmland hit by pests and diseases this year.

The situation is so serious that Agriculture Ministry officials have organized a meeting calling for extraordinary measures to be taken, the Xinhua news agency said.

A total of 31.3 million hectares of rice fields, or 24 percent of the nation's entire cultivated area, had been hit by plagues and disease as of last month, according to the agency.

The affected fields are concentrated in 13 major rice production areas in the fertile south of the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture had earlier warned that some two million hectares of farmland and 25 million hectares of grassland would be attacked by locusts this year.

To deal with the challenge, the ministry has called for local governments to strengthen prevention and treatment measures in order to fight against rice pests and diseases, and ensure a good grain harvest in autumn.

The ministry has ordered local agriculture departments to monitor for pests and diseases, and, once they have been detected, to take resolute quarantine measures to prevent them from spreading, according to the agency.

It has also told its grassroots cadres to guide farmers in their areas to adopt the right kind of pesticides to ensure effective prevention and treatment of rice diseases.

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Crocodile blood may yield powerful new drugs

Tests show reptile's immune system prevents life-threatening infections
12:13 p.m. ET Aug. 16, 2005

SYDNEY - Scientists in Australia's tropical north are collecting blood from crocodiles in the hope of developing a powerful antibiotic for humans, after tests showed that the reptile's immune system kills the HIV virus.

The crocodile's immune system is much more powerful than that of humans, preventing life-threatening infections after savage territorial fights which often leave the animals with gaping wounds and missing limbs.

"They tear limbs off each other and despite the fact that they live in this environment with all these microbes, they heal up very rapidly and normally almost always without infection," said U.S. scientist Mark Merchant, who has been taking crocodile blood samples in the Northern Territory.

Initial studies of the crocodile immune system in 1998 found that several proteins (antibodies) in the reptile's blood killed bacteria that were resistant to penicillin, such as Staphylococcus aureus or golden staph, Australian scientist Adam Britton told Reuters on Tuesday. It was also a more powerful killer of the HIV virus than the human immune system.

"If you take a test tube of HIV and add crocodile serum it will have a greater effect than human serum. It can kill a much greater number of HIV viral organisms," Britton said from Darwin's Crocodylus Park, a tourism park and research center.

Britton said the crocodile immune system worked differently from the human system by directly attacking bacteria immediately an infection occurred in the body.

"The crocodile has an immune system which attaches to bacteria and tears it apart and it explodes. It's like putting a gun to the head of the bacteria and pulling the trigger," he said. [...]

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