Tuesday, August 30, 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

P I C T U R E   O F  T H E  D A Y

Cindy Sheehan, left, begins to cry as Anishinabi elder Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement puts gold stars on her warrior shawls presented to her at Camp Casey 2 near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, Monday, Aug. 29, 2005. Banks drove 1357 miles from northern Minnesota to present Sheehan with the Native American gift reserved for warriors. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

 

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For the first time, the Signs Team's most popular and discerning essays have been compiled into book form and thematically organized.

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  • The Human Condition
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Read them today - before the book burning starts!


On the Heels Of Death Threats Coming Out Of Washington, WTC Janitor Has Jersey City Apartment Burglarized
By Greg Szymanski
August 27, 2005

Journalist Wayne Madsen has left Washington over death threats and William Rodriguez, 9/11 truth-seeker, had his apartment burglarized. Both fit the description of the person supposedly targeted by the government.

Coming on the heels of reports today that government operatives are trying to assassinate someone highly critical of the Bush administration, William Rodriguez, the WTC janitor who has been speaking out across the nation about a 9/11 government conspiracy, came home to find his Jersey City apartment burglarized Saturday.

Rodriguez, who has damaging eye-witness testimony that bombs exploded in the WTC basement prior to the airplanes striking, said today his apartment was burglarized between 12:30pm and 7:50pm after retuning home and noticing his second-floor apartment door wide-open.

Rodriguez immediately filed a police report with Jersey City police, but there are no leads or suspects in the case, as neighbors also reported seeing nothing while Rodriguez was out.

"I came home to find my door open," said Rodriguez in a telephone conversation Saturday night from his apartment just after police left the crime scene. "They didn't destroy the place, but took my lap top with all my vital information, as well as one of my video cameras and all of my girl friend's jewelry, including an expensive engagement ring."

Rodriguez expressed concern over the burglary since earlier in the day he received a "warning email" from contacts close to Washington investigative journalist Wayne Madsen, who received credible information his life may be in danger.

Rodriguez was notified because he also fits the description of the potential government target, as the inside intelligence source that leaked the information to Madsen said the target was not specifically mentioned by name, but fits the description of both Madsen and Rodriguez.

"I just received this email this morning, warning that someone who fits my description is going to be targeted," said Rodriguez, concerning the communication highly sensitve communication he received from John Caylor, a friend of Madsen who is spreading the word to others potentially in danger.

"Now, the robbery in my apartment is highly suspicious, considering the timing of the email. I wonder just who is being targeted? I notified police about it and everybody needs to be careful."

Madsen, highly critical of the Bush administration, left Washington for several days and is taking the warning seriously while keeping his whereabouts secret.

"I am laying low for a few days," said Madsen in an email Saturday from an undisclosed location. "The threat, although not directly to me personally, was credible enough to leave D.C. for awhile."

Madsen, a former National Security Agency employee turned reporter, has been a thorn in the side of the Bush administration for his inside reports, revealing financial corruption linking the Bush administration to major foreign and domestic scandals, including 9/11.

Rodriguez has also been highly critical of the Bush administration lately, spreading his message across the country in numerous public speeches about his story about the 9/11 cover-up has been withheld from the American people by a systematic censoring of his words by the government and the media.

The long-time WTC head maintenance man holds key information literally destroying the government's officials story and theory about how jet fuel was solely responsible for bringing own the WTC.

What makes his eye-witness testimony even more damaging to the government is that it can be corroborated by numerous eye-witnesses who have also been censored by the government and media.

Although Rodriguez's story has been told freely without censorship overseas in a number of foreign markets, the American media as well as the 9/11 Commission has seen fit to suppress his story, a story that very well could lead to pinning the Bush administration with high-crimes related to the 9/11 cover-up.

The recent assassination threat coming from inside Washington has also been taken seriously by Rodriguez, who in the past has on numerous occasions turned down government bribes to keep him quiet.

Since 9/11, Rodriguez has remained steadfast in his determination to tell the truth despite the enormous odds, saying he owes it to all those who lost lives at the WTC, including more than 200 personal friends and acquaintances who perished on 9/11.

Rodriguez, the last survivor out of the North Tower before it collapsed, was declared a National Hero for his valiant efforts the morning of 9/11, saving hundreds of lives as he possessed one of the few master keys for the North Tower stairwell, using it to save many lives just before the tower collapsed.

But after being courted at the White House, Rodriguez quickly became a government target once officials realized he could not be bribed or bought-off.

The intelligence report received by Madsen and forwarded to Rodriguez this morning as a warning was sent to the Arctic Beacon.

Although the target wasn't mentioned by name, the profile fit both Madsen and Rodriguez as well as others who have been recently very critical of the Bush administration.

The warning sent to Madsen, causing him to flee Washington and perhaps linked to the Rodriguez burglary, reads as follows:

We have reason to think that a "project" will be undertaken against "someone" considered problematic now...not next week but NOW. That person is not specified but is in the US, in an apartment setting and lives alone. It is a "he" and he works via www. This information is specific to an intent but not specific to a person. The source is impeccable and you know my track record which have parallel sourcing.

The "project" will be assigned to "parallel contractors" who will make any action appear random and witnesses would suggest Middle Eastern in source. Actions would be carried out in or near the home. We do not hear things like this often (almost never) and so far every warning of this type has been within 24 hours of action and these warnings have proven 100% accurate in the past. We do not know of any direct reason for someone to use this source to provide wrong or misleading information or for use by those who are "contracting" this action. Your recent work and profile make us tell you this directly.

Please respond with a note that all is normal there. Please consider the warning we received as it can be applied to many including your self. It is possible that someone considers "us" linked in some way and that this warning may be a "deterrent" to work that some may not want completed. We have no reason to think this but I want to consider every possible angle and application to this warning.

Please consider what can be done while taking any measures you think necessary to avoid this "project". We consider this warning as coming with the highest level "authenticity" and purity of motive, but the subject and message subject and its specifications were too unusual to be sure of intent.

Madsen, Rodriguez and Caylor also wanted the report circulated in public since others who fit Madsen's similar profile may also be in danger.

Comment: Indeed, Wayne is wise to leave DC and "lay low" for awhile. A better idea might be to leave the U.S. After all, too many who have stood for the truth are already dead. If this continues, there will be no one left to speak out.

Immediately after 9-11, Laura wrote an article in which she asked the question: Who Benefits? The answer was obvious: Israel and the U.S. Neocons. Laura knew she was treading on a minefield and she was right. The campaign of defamation and lies was launched and has continued, unremitting, since that time. Few individuals in the alternative news field have experienced anything to equal it.

Laura responded to these attacks by writing Adventures With Cassiopaea. This research led to some horrifying conclusions about the Neocon agenda which have since become more generally known and discussed. She also published the now very popular studies in Psychopathy.

Following the Adventures Series, in the Spring of 2002, Laura began Signs of The Times and the smear campaign (the signature of the Neocons) ramped up. The reader might wish to review the Signs archives during those early years to get a good idea of why.

In late September of 2002, Laura decided that it was time to take off the gloves. Shortly thereafter, QFG published the work on Organic Portals. Laura was, apparently, getting way too close to the truth.

Laura's name and address was published on a Zionist website with a request for anyone who lived in her area to "take care of the problem." Death threats were received via email. Laura and Ark neither responded to these threats nor did they publish them. Signs of the Times continued on track.

In October of 2002, a death threat was received via snail mail. The letter itself and a discussion can be found HERE.

Over the next few weeks, a dead cat was found below Ark and Laura's bedroom window, and their dog was poisoned. Many agents provocateur and saboteurs joined QFG. Susceptible members were co-opted, false accusations were made to law enforcement authorities, and Ark and Laura were generally besieged on all sides.

Since Ark and Laura have a family with young children, the decision was made to leave the U.S. so as to be able to both protect the family AND continue to publish Signs of the Times as well as continue basic research.

Knowing that there was clear and present danger, Ark and Laura knew it was necessary to make their plans and their move under conditions of secrecy and with many false clues circulated as protection.

Upon arriving in France, Laura wrote and published MOSSAD and Moving Companies which immediately was translated into many languages and went around the world in less than a week.

The smear and defamation campaign ramped up to unprecedented levels. The same dynamic can be observed in the way the Neocons are handling the "Cindy Sheehan Problem." It was at this point that Ark and Laura were told by a source at the very highest levels of European government that they had "enemies in very high places."

Up to this point in time, Ark and Laura were unsure as to whether or not their attackers were just sick people taking advantage of a predatory opportunity or truly some sort of government COINTELPRO whose job it is to cast a light of lunacy on alternative research so that no legitimate researcher would dare to venture into such fields. At this point, it became clear that it was deliberate, institutional (i.e. government sponsored) COINTELPRO. This has since been affirmed, again, from sources at the highest levels of government.

In the past year and a half, especially after the Pentagon Strike was published, reaching over 500 million people (and still counting), it seems that the smear campaign has become more urgent and, consequently, more vicious and disgusting. Lies, half-truths, twists and distortions are all grist for the defamation mill.

Ark and Laura's struggle to survive and continue to work, to publish, to inform, has been repeatedly subjected to tricks and traps that have been set up by numerous agents provocateur and saboteurs. There have been covert threats and a "botched" attempt on Laura's life. Certainly, we are aware that we are not dealing with amateurs and that these events are more in the way of intimidation, that the last thing "they" want is to make a martyr.

Recently, again Ark and Laura's home address has been discovered and published with encouragement to fanatics to write hate mail with the hidden subtext that someone ought to "take care" of them. The only good thing about the current situation is that, at least in a European country, a person cannot be arrested in the dark of the night, disappeared into a black hole of legal non-existence such as Guantanamo or "rendered" to be tortured. Certainly, "foreign agents" can still do their dirty work on European soil if they can manage to get away with it, but it is less easy here, and there IS a network of protection.

In conclusion, we cannot make any specific suggestions as to how individuals such as Wayne Madsen ought to protect themselves. Each individual's situation is different. We can only say that there ARE forces in high places in European government that do support the propagation of truth. They are being pressured, no doubt - but thus far, they have managed to survive and God willing, they will prevail in the end. We also urge all of those who are laboring in the field to read and study our material on psychopaths, COINTELPRO, and related articles. Knowledge Protects.

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Muslims in Lodi believe mystery man who spoke of jihad was a federal mole in terror investigation
Demian Bulwa
SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, August 27, 2005

In the days after federal agents arrested five residents of Lodi in a terror investigation in June, a clean-cut young man who had befriended the suspects and had spent nights at their homes vanished.

He hasn't been seen in town since, and now members of Lodi's Muslim community suspect they know why: The man, who called himself Nasim Khan, was a government mole, they believe, an informer whose surreptitious tape recordings of one of the suspects are at the heart of the federal probe.

Community members said Khan, who is in his early 30s, sometimes spoke of "jihad" in what they now believe was an attempt to get others to express radical sentiments.

In his three years in Lodi, Khan -- who spoke fluent Pashto, Urdu and English -- forged deep ties in the Muslim community. He once lived in one of two apartments that overlook Lodi's mosque, helped set up a Web site for a Muslim school that was forming in the area and took the teenage son of one of the suspects to ride roller-coasters at Paramount's Great America in Santa Clara.

"He got me -- he convinced me he was an average guy," said a 23-year- old member of the Lodi mosque, who like many other members spoke on condition that he not be identified because he is afraid of drawing FBI scrutiny. "I was thinking he was just somebody who was interested in religion."

Federal prosecutors last week revealed they had a "cooperating witness" in Lodi. Without naming him, they said he had recorded scores of conversations with Hamid Hayat, a 22-year-old man accused of lying when he denied participating in a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. His father, 47-year- old Umer Hayat, is charged with lying about the same thing.

Hamid Hayat's attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, earlier this month received 47 audiotapes made by the "witness" that go back as far as August 2002.

By all accounts, Hamid Hayat and the "witness" were close friends. Several members of Lodi's Muslim community now say that friend was Nasim Khan, and a relative of the Hayats said Hamid Hayat identified the "witness" as Khan after learning of the content of the recordings.

The "witness" appears to be critical to the case. Prosecutors are using him in an attempt to connect Hamid Hayat to terrorism, while defense attorneys and some community members -- who say he was an aggressive provocateur in conversations -- are trying to find out more about him. Whether he is a civilian informant or an undercover agent could affect what information the defense is entitled to receive. [...]

The government portrays the "witness" in court filings as connecting Hamid Hayat to terror. According to an Aug. 19 court filing, Hamid Hayat "swore that he would go to jihad" in conversations recorded in March and April of 2003.

The filing alleges that Hamid Hayat, while on the phone from Pakistan in 2003, "advised the (witness) that he genuinely desired to attend a camp and strongly indicated in his final conversation with the (witness) that he had been accepted to 'training' and was going to attend the same after Ramadan in 2003."

The Hayats' attorneys say the "witness" was the aggressor in conversations, and some community members say he expressed an interest in "jihad." Mojaddidi said she expects that the tapes, when released in full, will not implicate her client in anything illegal. [...]

The use of informants and undercover agents in American mosques is not unusual, according to experts and published reports.

An FBI informant named Khalid Ibrahim Mostafa was a key witness in an investigation of seven Portland residents accused in 2002 of conspiring to join the Taliban in Afghanistan and fight against U.S. troops after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. All but one pleaded guilty, and the seventh was killed by Pakistani troops in 2003, authorities said.

Mostafa, an Egyptian-born mechanic, became an informant to avoid being charged in an unrelated case, according to the Oregonian. The newspaper reported that Mostafa presented himself as a fanatical Taliban supporter to targets of the Portland probe. In an interview with the newspaper, Mostafa said he did his patriotic duty.

"When an informant goes in and talks about jihad, and that you will be at the hand of Muhammad, and rattles sabers and builds up the religious fervor, to me that's a form of entrapment -- but legally it's not," John Ransom, a Portland attorney who represented one of the defendants who pleaded guilty in that case, told The Chronicle.

He added that the Portland and Lodi cases, as well as others, "seem to be following a pattern." [...]

Comment: Typical COINTELPRO. Alternative researchers in all fields ought to pay close attention to how this type of vectoring works.

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Not One More

The Peaceful Occupation of Crawford
By Cindy Sheehan
Sunday 28 August 2005

A photographer friend of mine went down to Crawford to the Pro-War, Anti-Peace rally today. There were about 1500 people there he said. He also said that it was the most "third reich" spectacle that he had ever seen in America.

My friend said that the speakers were whipping up the crowd into a frenzy of hatred for me (like they already didn't hate me?) and for the peace movement. My friend said that the entire theme of the rally was: "Cindy is killing American troops by her anti-American protest." Oh really, isn't George Bush killing innocent Americans and Iraqis by sending them to fight in an illegal and immoral war for power and greed? I think the real culprit is my neighbor: George.

I am really sad that there are still people in America who think that someone exercising her freedom of speech is anti-American. People who say we DON'T have the right to dissent are un-patriotic and un-American. My friend said that the rally was really the scariest thing he had ever seen. Except for one funny part when some people were walking through the crowd with a "Say No to War---except when a Democrat is President" (whatever that means???) sign. I guess the people at the rally only read the "Say No to War" part and they were ripping up the signs and chasing the gentlemen out. The unfortunate sign holders were trying to tell the counter-protesters that they were on Bush's killing side, but the crowd wouldn't hear them.

Our rally had about 2500 people jammed into the Camp Casey II tent. The speakers and music were awesome. Joan sang a few more songs. I told the crowd that I totally understand George Bush's noble cause for continuing the war: I have to kill more Americans because I have already killed so many. Then I posed the question to them that we will pose to Congress and the small minority of Americans (38-40%) who still believe in George's oil war. How many more lives are you willing to sacrifice before you bring the troops home? I led the crowd in a deafening chant of "Not One More," aimed at George's vacation home.

I kind of feel sorry for George; holed up in his ranch. Not being able to go out unless he flies over in his helicopter. If he drove out of the ranch, he would have to see people who disagree with him. But every time he leaves the ranch now, he faces people demanding answers to the question: What Noble Cause?

George is going golfing in Arizona on Monday, then to San Diego on Monday afternoon and Tuesday. Be sure we will have people in those locations bird dogging him. He deserves to be made uncomfortable: he is making the entire world more than uncomfortable.

We are relaxing a little bit tonight after the rally. A very nice young man who was wounded and put in a wheel chair by Bush's war on the same day Casey was killed came out tonight. He is spending his honeymoon with his new bride here at Camp Casey. Which reminds me...we are having 2 weddings here tomorrow: One at Camp Casey I and one at Camp Casey II. We have had so many children and babies come out too...it is the cycle of life.

I was visited by a 2nd Lt. from Casey's 2-5 Cavalry that told me to keep up the good work and Casey's old roommate came out from Ft. Hood to meet me. He may have to go back to Iraq soon. He hopes he doesn't have to since he will be out in 6 months, but he is pretty sure he will be stop-lossed.

It was so hot today in Crawford. So hot, it seemed like there wasn't enough air to breathe. Then a storm came and gave us some blessed relief.

Update: Some pro-war people came up to Camp Casey II around 10pm and Ann Wright had to call the sheriff because they were getting a little rowdy.

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BUSH UNBALANCED AS POLLS PLUMMET
By Bill Gallagher
Niagara Falls Reporter
August 30, 2005

DETROIT -- With George W. Bush, a certifiable madman, in power, it shouldn't be surprising that the rest of our republic is going bonkers. Bush, our commander in sleep, has spread the virus of neo-fascist fever and the bug is gripping our nation like the flu in February. The evidence is compelling.

The national commander of the American Legion demands an end to all "public protests" and "media events" against the war. Commander Thomas Cadmus declared, at the legion's convention in Honolulu, that "it would be tragic if the freedoms our veterans fought so valiantly to protect would be used against their successors today."

I get it. Here's what's wrong with America these days: freedom of speech, the freedom to peaceably assemble, and the right of people to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Those items found in the Bill of Rights are the scourges of our nation. Get rid of those damn freedoms at home and the Iraqis will start tossing rose petals at our troops.

The 4,000 American Legion delegates voted unanimously for a resolution declaring, "The American Legion fully supports the President of the United States" and "our armed forces" engaged "in the global war on terrorism" and "in protecting our values and way of life."

They apparently believe the First Amendment no longer reflects "our values," but the bloody, illegal and futile occupation of Iraq does. I didn't know there was that much beer in Hawaii.

But other veterans have a more sober and sane assessment of George W. Bush. Last week, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Salt Lake City, Bush repeated the great lie of our times -- that the war in Iraq is linked to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that the imperial war there makes us safer at home.

"The lesson of Sept. 11, 2001, is that we must confront the threats before they materialize," Bush said in his speech.

Bush speaking to the VFW gathering is like an Orthodox rabbi offering advice on pork recipes to a cooking class. Joyfully, not all the delegates were buying his fantasies. One of them, 73-year-old Bill Moyer, wore cardboard covers over his ears labeled "bullshit protectors."

Such irreverence sent Bush into an obscene tirade, according to a report in Capitol Hill Blue, an online journal that occasionally chronicles Bush's unhinged behavior. Bush refers to those who protest his war as "motherf---king traitors" and he was so enraged when he heard reports about the "bullshit protectors" that he screamed at his aides, "Tell those VFW assholes that I'll never speak to them again if they can't keep their members under control."

Capitol Hill Blue has long dealt with a topic that the corporate media won't touch -- Bush's mental fitness for the presidency and the behavior patterns associated with his addiction-damaged personality. The journal reports Bush's doctors are trying to control his dark moods with anti-depressant drugs.

While the Busheviks have sold the myth that their man is an affable "nice guy," the reality is that he is often vile and profane. His explosive temper is increasingly displayed. At a recent strategy session, discussing polls showing most Americans are now against the war and don't believe Bush, he reportedly bellowed to his staff, "I'm the president and I'll do whatever I goddamned please. They don't know shit."

George W. takes much more after his acerbic and vindictive mother, Barbara, than his more even-tempered father. The president's pattern of blame and denial and his rattled response to the criticism of his disastrous war are manifestations of his addiction-damaged and dangerous personality, according to psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank, author of "Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President." He sees Bush's history of substance abuse shaping him into a fear-driven bully. Confrontation -- like Cindy Sheehan's vigil -- unveils the real Bush.

"Actually confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would see the fear," Dr. Frank says.

When aides suggested Bush meet with Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq, Bush screamed, "I'm not meeting with that goddamned bitch. She can go to hell as far as I'm concerned," Capitol Hill Blue reports.

No one from the White House press corps will dare raise questions about the report. Most of them are content to attend Bush's barbecue for the media at Crawford, where all discussions are off the record.

None would dare mention passing Camp Casey as vans spirited them into Rancho Wacko to enjoy grilled catfish and potato salad with the president and first lady. They won't risk expulsion by asking questions about whether George W. is having reoccurring episodes of that mysterious pretzel-choking phenomenon.

Certainly, NBC White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell would never broach such a delicate topic. She's too busy pimping for the Busheviks and repeating their talking points. As the recent guest host of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews," O'Donnell referred to Sheehan and the demonstrators outside Bush's Crawford ranch as "anti-war extremists."

She made that characterization in an interview with former FBI agent Coleen Rowley, who is a Democratic congressional candidate in Minnesota. Rowley, unlike nearly all other Democrats, had the guts to visit Crawford and offer her support for Sheehan.

That prompted O'Donnell to question Rowley's decision, saying, "It was reported that Republican leaders in your state were thrilled that you had decided to align yourself with anti-war extremists. Do you think that will affect your race for Congress?"

Rowley didn't hesitate to put O'Donnell in her place. "Well, I will quickly correct the record that they are not anti-war extremists. The majority of people I saw in Crawford were actually veterans' groups," Rowley responded.

O'Donnell's pretty face looked perplexed, her vacuous mind grappling for a rejoinder.

"But, Coleen, they do oppose the war in Iraq, do they not?"

Rowley's 80-point IQ advantage over O'Donnell was apparent as she explained opposition to Bush's war does not make one an extremist. In fact, she said, the demonstrators in Crawford are "reflective of mainstream America in many ways."

Imagine the howl if O'Donnell referred to supporters of the war in Iraq as "radical warmongers." I'm sure General Electric, a major defense contractor and NBC's owner, would frown on one of its employees using such a characterization.

Remember, Coleen Rowley should have been given a medal for her courageous but frustrated efforts in trying to stop the 9/11 terrorists before they hijacked those airliners. She alerted her supervisors in the FBI about all those Saudi (not Iraqi) men taking lessons to learn how to fly jets. Her superiors ignored her warnings and the rest is tragic history.

The CIA's pre-9/11 intelligence failures are finally getting a scolding and the agency's inspector general has submitted a report to Congress on what went wrong and who was responsible. Accountability, however, is anathema in the Bush administration.

One of the big names targeted for criticism is former CIA director George Tenet. He rivals Condoleezza Rice as a slave to sycophancy and he was more than willing to do anything to please George W. Bush.

Tenet sold out his own agency when he took the rap for the bogus story that Iraq was trying to buy enriched uranium from Niger. Tenet famously told Bush that finding evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction would be a "slam dunk." He fouled out on that one, as he did in ignoring evidence al-Qaeda was planning something big.

Tenet is frantically trying to keep the wraps on the inspector general's report, so history will not note his mistakes and his already-tarnished reputation won't take another body blow.

The families of the 9/11 victims want the unvarnished truth told. They're demanding the immediate declassification and release of the report. They issued a statement saying, "To shield CIA officials from accountability and to continue to cover up deficiencies in that agency puts the safety of our nation at risk."

For his intelligence failures and fabrications, but most of all for unswerving loyalty to political policy-making, George W. Bush presented Tenet with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. I'm sure the apostle of assassination, the Rev. Pat Robertson, must be in line for the same honor.

CIA Director Porter Goss and the Republicans on Capitol Hill will do their best to deep-six the report, bury the truth and please the president.

The 9/11 cover-up, Cindy Sheehan's valiant witness to the truth, the futility of "staying the course" in Iraq, even Pat Robertson's insane musing -- it's hard to find any prominent leaders in the Democratic Party saying anything about those worthy topics.

Would just one of them venture off of Martha's Vineyard and their other summer haunts to express outrage, support or indignation? We have the worst president in American history and we hardly hear a peep from the Democrats.

I can understand the neo-fascist, Christian fanatics who dominate the modern Republican Party and form George W. Bush's base. They worship power and the political value of war. But what about people who know better?

Former Democratic senator Gary Hart wrote an eloquent op-ed piece in the Washington Post last week urging leaders of his party to stand for something. He chided the "tongue-tied" Democrats, too meek to challenge Bush.

"What will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on?" he asked.

Where are senators Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman? They all voted for Bush's war.

As long as those gutless Democrats are the party's "leaders," George W. Bush will continue his senseless war. People with sense are listening to Cindy Sheehan and following her admirable leadership.

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is gallaghernewsman@sbcglobal.net.

Comment: It is clear that expecting that the Democrats - or any politician, for that matter - will actually do something about Bush is wishful thinking at best. No one wants to stand up and become a target of the Bush regime, especially with the stories of rendition and torture that continue to spread even through the mainstream media. Sheehan's bravery and leadership in standing against Bush is therefore rather extraordinary. If more Americans do not begin to stand with her, a potential opportunity will be lost. Of course, we certainly do not expect Bush and his gang to go quietly, but doing nothing is a sure way to cement the Neocons' power. It is not hard to see how a psychopath like Bush would be furious with Sheehan, since she has displayed a level of real courage and leadership about which a puppet like Bush can only dream.

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A War of Words
By Tom Engelhardt
Tomdispatch.com
August 30, 2005

The language Bush has used in recent speeches about Iraq and Cindy Sheehan illustrates why his message (and approval rating) is starting to fail.

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
-- George Bush, "President Participates in Social Security Conversation in New York," May 24, 2005.

Forced from his five-week vacation idyll in Crawford by the mother of a dead boy he sent to war, the President has recently given two major speeches defending his war policies and, between biking and boating, held a brief news conference at Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, Idaho.

On August 22nd, he addressed the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Salt Lake City for 30 minutes; on August 24th, he spoke for 43 minutes to families of the Idaho National Guard in the farming community of Nampa, Idaho.

As his poll figures continue on a downward spiral, he has found it necessary to put extra effort into "catapulting the propaganda." Though he struck a new note or two in each speech, these were exceedingly familiar, crush-the-terrorists, stay-the-course, path-to-victory speeches. That's hardly surprising, since his advisors and speechwriters have been wizards of repetition.

No one has been publicly less spontaneous or more -- effectively -- repetitious than our President; but sometimes, as he says, you "keep repeating things over and over and over again" and what sinks in really is the truth rather than the propaganda.

Sometimes, just that extra bit of repetition under less than perfect circumstances, and words that once struck fear or offered hope, that once explained well enough for most the nature of the world they faced, suddenly sound hollow. They begin to sound… well, repetitious, and so, false. Your message, which worked like a dream for so long, goes off-message, and then what do you do?

This is, I suspect, exactly what growing numbers of Americans are experiencing in relation to our President. It's a mysterious process really -- like leaving a dream world or perhaps deprogramming from a cult. Once you step outside the bubble, statements that only yesterday seemed heartfelt or powerful or fearful or resolute truths suddenly look like themselves, threadbare and impoverished.

In due course, because the repetitious worldview in the President's speeches is clearly a believed one (for him, if not all of his advisors) and because it increasingly reads like a bad movie script for a fictional planet, he himself is likely to look no less threadbare and impoverished, no less -- to use a word not often associated with him -- pathetic and out of touch with reality to some of those who not so long ago supported him or his policies.

Under these circumstances, it's worth taking a close look at his recent speeches and comparing his linguistic landscape with that of Cindy Sheehan, at the moment a stand-in for the mute (and previously somewhat hidden) American dead from his war as well as an encroaching Iraqi catastrophe.

George's World of Words

George Bush's speech-world remains anchored in the defining moment of his life: the attacks of September 11th, 2001 (cited 5 times in his VFW speech, 4 times in Idaho). It offers a landscape of overwhelming threat, but also of remarkable neatness.

It paints a picture of a world embroiled in the first war of the 21st century, a war on a global scale, a war -- a word that peppers every statement he makes -- with multiple theaters ("from the streets of the Western capitals to the mountains of Afghanistan, to the tribal regions of Pakistan, to the islands of Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa").

In his vision of our planet, a vast struggle on the scale of the Cold War, if not World War II, is underway - a Manichaean battle between two clear-cut sides, one good, one evil, in which you are either for or against.

There can be no other choices between our mega-enemy, the terrorists, and us. As he put the matter in Idaho in reference to Iraq, the central theater in his global war, "The battle lines… are now clearly drawn for the world to see, and there is no middle ground."

The problem is that what the President "sees" and what Americans are now seeing seem to be diverging at a rapid rate. For George, the details matter not at all. You won't find any Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds at each other's throats in the President's Iraq, or unable to agree on a constitution, or at the edge of internecine warfare, or living in a country lacking electricity, oil, and jobs, or potentially installing an Islamic government in Baghdad allied to the neighboring Iranian fundamentalist regime, or any of the other obvious features of the present situation, most of which can finally be caught any night on the national news.

In his Salt Lake City and Idaho speeches, the only "Iraqi" George even mentioned was a Jordanian, "the terrorist Zarqawi," against whom, in at least the President's fantasy life and in his recent radio address, Sunni and Shia Iraqis actually come together in mutual defense in a touching show of national unity.

In the President's world, there is just them, the enemy, aka the terrorists, and us, the people who (in a nearly copyrighted phrase) spread freedom to the rest of the world. When you look, for instance, at his speech in Idaho, the word terror (war on, sponsored, will be defeated) is used 13 times; terrorist or terrorists (threats, attack, murdered, harbor a, cells, defeat the, converged on Iraq, defiance of the, have sworn havoc, can kill the innocent, victory over, were to win, will fail, Zarqawi), 33 times; and terrorism (safe haven for), once -- for a total of 47 uses. (Now that's repetition for you!)

However, in the remarkably equally balanced linguistic struggle between good and evil that weaves through the President's speeches, freedom (they despise our, spreading, spread the hope of, advancing the cause of, the march of) appears 37 times and, when free is thrown in, a triumphant total of 48 times.

In addition, while the terrorists skulk in the shadows, freedom is no passive thing. It confronts, defeats, prevails, and conquers. No wonder they despise it so. (In the shorter VFW speech, the linguistic balance remains the same: terror and its cognates: 33; freedom with its fleet of frees, 36.)

Add together the Idaho totals for the struggle -- 95 -- and you're talking about 1 out of every 48 words in that speech being either terror or freedom, with us or against us.

Admittedly, the President's speeches do sometimes show small signs of change at moments when reality forces its way onto the premises. For obvious reasons, for instance, weapons of mass destruction have disappeared from his speeches when the focus is Iraq (though mention Iran and…).

Recently, Cindy Sheehan made herself such a thorn in the Presidential side that his speechwriters were forced to let him acknowledge the actual numbers of American dead. ("We have lost 1,864 members of our Armed Forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 223 in Operation Enduring Freedom.") And the growing debate about withdrawal from Iraq, which began with unapproved statements from his own military, has forced the President's speechwriters to create a new jingle to describe our plan for the Iraqi future: "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."

In speaking off-the-cuff, as to the reporters in Donnelly last week, he repeats his usual words, phrases, and lines, mix-and-match style; still, it's easier in such a session (no matter how weak the questions lobbed at him) to sense an edge of confusion about how to make his world stand in some relation to reality.

For instance, in the Donnelly exchange, which lasted 12 minutes including the niceties -- "Q: Any fishing? THE PRESIDENT: I don't know yet. I haven't made up my mind yet. I'm kind of hanging loose, as they say. (Laughter.)" -- he offered this strange, new explanation for the development of terrorism in the Iraqi neck of the woods:

"[W]e had a policy that just said, let the dictator [Saddam Hussein] stay there, don't worry about it. And as a result of dictatorship, and as a result of tyranny, resentment, hopelessness began to develop in that part of the world, which became the -- gave the terrorists capacity to recruit."

However, in his speeches, those perfect artifacts from another universe, delivered only before the most receptive audiences, usually under campaign-like conditions, everything is as the President wants it to be.

There, at present, he inhabits a world that begins with the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 -- imagine how a Democrat might be pilloried for comparing the making of the already tattered "Islamic" constitution of Iraq (just hailed by Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who heads that country's ultra-conservative Guardian Council) to ours -- passes through World War II (where we successfully occupied two countries, Japan and Germany) and more or less ends in the glory days of the Cold War.

Missing, of course, is the one "small" conflict that, right now, is on everyone's mind all over Washington, not to say the U.S. -- Vietnam. You won't find that name, nor words like "quagmire" or "bogged down" either. The President's speech-world is a world of the will in every sense. (The terrorists typically try to break ours and get us to retreat.)

In Idaho, he used will, as in "will of the majority," 6 times, but the will of the willed act (we will not allow the terrorists, America will not wait to be attacked again, will confront emerging threats, will stay on the offensive, will fight, will win, will be on the hunt, will prevail) 34 times. There may never have been political speeches that used the word in all its senses (except as a document of bequeathment) so often.

In this tic, his speeches catch perhaps the most striking aspect of his administration since September 11, 2001 -- its driving urge to impose a worldview by force on the rest of the planet. In speeches like those in Utah and Idaho, he offers up a warrior's world of words. The word war itself appears in his Idaho speech 26 times, along with attack, attacks, attacked (11), fight, fighters, fighting (10) , battle lines, battlefronts (2), struggle (2), strike (2), and one of his absolute favorites, the phrase on the hunt or alternately hunt down (we will stay on the, side by side with Iraqi forces, our common enemies), used 3 times.

Of course, no war would be worth much if you didn't win (the war on terror, in Iraq), used twice, for which you need to defeat (the terrorists), wielded 9 times. In the President's speeches, the world of "the enemy" or "the terrorists" is imposingly frightening, terrifying enough to fit the bill for any Evil Empire.

Here is just a partial list of words associated with it from the Idaho speech:

  • Enemy (fight the, in our midst, across the globe, on many fronts): 6
  • Threat, threatened: 8
  • Fail (what terrorists will do in the end)/failed (as in, states -- what terrorists cause): 7
  • Brutal, brutality: 5
  • Violence (brutal, and extremism): 5
  • Kill: 5
  • Retreat (what they want us to do, back into the shadows): 5
  • Murder, murdered: murderous: 4
  • Destroy/Destruction (our way of life, havoc and, death and): 4
  • Hateful, hate-filled: 3
  • Dangerous (times, enemies): 2
  • Plotted, plotting: 2
  • Crushing/crushes (blow, all dissent): 2
  • Havoc: 2
  • Death: 2
  • Assassination: 2
  • Intimidation: 1
  • Extremism: 1
  • Evil (seen freedom conquer): 1.

Cindy's World of Words

For a long time, George had a knack for speaking to audiences and seeming so personal, no matter how large his crowds, impersonal the setting, or scripted his performance. It was this sense of him that Cindy Sheehan seems to have begun to crack open.

Put her words up against his -- she's willing to be no less repetitious, no less fierce in her view of the world -- and hers are the words that now feel personal, that come from the heart and cut to the bone, that connect. They seem like telegrams sent directly from reality, and from an irrefutable core of loss -- of lives, of safety, of security, of well-being -- that ever more Americans are beginning to fear is what George's world is all about.

That's undoubtedly why the normal set of right-wing attacks and smears launched against Sheehan, however successful against others in the past, have simply not penetrated. Who, after all, can deny the reality of the individual world of the mother of a war-dead son? And let's remember, we're talking about a woman who most distinctly does not live on a fantasy planet.

Here's how she describes Bush's newest reason to stay in Iraq -- to honor those who already died there: "Since the Freedom and Democracy thing is not going so well and the Iraqi parliament is having such a hard time writing their constitution, since violence is mounting against Iraqis and Americans, and since [George Bush's] poll numbers are going down every day, he had to come up with something."

Put that up against the President comparing the ethnic and religious horse-trading inside Baghdad's Green Zone to the American Constitutional Convention. To illustrate her language, I've taken two brief, recent passages she wrote around the time the President made his speeches in Utah and Idaho. The first is a mere 225 words on "Coming Back to Crawford"; the second, just over 1,000 words and entitled "One Mother's Stand". I've treated them as a single document. Place this set of words against the President's above:

  • Son/sons (my, their, have been killed): 6
  • Daughters: 1
  • [Her son] Casey (Camp, love of): 7
  • Mother/mom (to feel the pain we feel, Gold Star, regular): 8
  • Parent/parents: 2
  • Children (lose their, my other): 2
  • Country (our, my, an innocent): 4
  • Grief (unbearable): 1
  • Pain (as much as I am, feel the, and heartache, feel their): 4
  • Heartache: 1
  • Love/loved (of Casey, peace and, ones): 6
  • War (senseless, George Bush's, his, insane): 4
  • Invade (an innocent country): 1
  • Monstrosity (of an occupation): 1
  • Lies (his): 1
  • Misuse and abuse (of power): 1
  • Killed/killing (in George Bush's war, Americans, continue the): 6
  • Died (Americans have, my son, others who have): 5
  • Death/deaths (sent him to, meaningless): 3
  • Responsibility (the president's): 1
  • Accountable (hold George Bush): 1
  • Cojones (I do have the… to tell the world that our "emperor" has no clothes): 1

It seems that George Bush was right: "You got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in."

He (and his advisers and his speechwriters) simply forgot that others might also do the repeating.

The Wordless Dead Offer Their Own Form of Testimony

Increasingly, the American, if not Iraqi, dead are entering our world and, after a fashion, making themselves heard. Their eloquence lies in their very names, which appear daily in our papers, as they have for two years now.

Here, for instance, are the names of the American dead, all thirteen from Arcand, Elden to Seamans, Timothy, reported by the Pentagon for the three days beginning with the President's VFW speech and ending with his Idaho speech.

These were presented in a little box on an inside page of the New York Times with the following explanation: "The Department of Defense has identified [number] American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the deaths of the following Americans yesterday:"

August 23, 2005

BOUCHARD, Nathan K., 24, Sgt., Army; Wildomar, Calif.; Third Infantry Division. DOYLE, Jeremy W., 24, Staff Sgt., Army; Chesterton, Md.; Third Infantry Division. FUHRMANN, Ray M. II, 28, Specialist, Army; Novato, Calif.; Third Infantry Division. SEAMANS, Timothy J., 20, Pfc., Army; Jacksonville, Fla.; Third Infantry Division.

August 24, 2005

ARCAND, Elden D., 22, Pfc., Army; White Bear Lake, Minn.; 360th Transportation Company, 68th Corps Support Battalion, 43rd Area Support Group. CATHEY, James J., 24, Second Lt., Marines; Reno, Nev.; Second Marine Division. MORRIS, Brian L., 38, Staff Sgt., Army; Centreville, Mich.; 360th Transportation Company, 68th Corps Support Battalion, 43rd Area Support Group. NURRE, Joseph C., 22, Specialist, Army Reserve; Wilton, Calif.; 463rd Engineer Battalion. PARTRIDGE, Willard T., 35, Sgt., Army; Ferriday, La.; 170th Military Police Company, 504th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade. ROMERO, Ramon, 19, Pfc., Marines; Huntington Park, Calif.; Second Marine Division.

August 25, 2005

DÍAZ, Carlos J., 27, First Lt., Army; Juana Díaz, P.R., Third Infantry Division. HUNT, Joseph D., 27, Sgt., Army National Guard; Sweetwater, Tenn.; Third Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry. LIEURANCE, Victoir P., 34, Staff Sgt., Army National Guard; Seymour, Tenn.; Third Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry.

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Katrina kills at least 55 in Mississippi

New Orleans levee breaks; 80 percent of city flooded
CNN
Tuesday, August 30, 2005; Posted: 11:26 a.m. EDT

Authorities along the shattered Gulf Coast searched Tuesday for survivors and worked to rescue residents stranded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which is blamed for dozens of deaths and the destruction of countless homes and businesses.

The storm ripped ashore in Louisiana Monday morning with winds topping 140 mph before scourging Mississippi and Alabama.

Katrina caused widespread flooding across the region, and floodwaters were still rising Tuesday in New Orleans after a hole opened in a levee protecting the city.

The storm is blamed for at least 68 deaths and that toll is almost certain to rise.

"We know we've had some loss of life. We really don't know how much. There are credible accounts of 50 to 80 in Harrison County. Those are not confirmed, but they're credible," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Tuesday.

"And I hate to say it, I think there are going to be more."

A man in Biloxi told CNN affiliate WKRG-TV he believed his wife was killed after she was ripped from his grasp when their home split in half.

"She told me, 'You can't hold me,' ... take care of the kids and the grandkids..."

While Louisiana officials have not confirmed any deaths there, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said there have been reports of bodies floating in the floodwaters. Two storm-related traffic fatalities were reported in Alabama.

The storm killed 11 people last week when it made its initial landfall in Florida.

'This is our tsunami'

In Mississippi, streets and homes were flooded as far as six miles inland.

Barbour plans to make a helicopter tour of the hardest hit areas today.

In Biloxi, a 25-foot storm surge crashed in from the Gulf of Mexico on Monday and inundated structures there. Up to 30 people are believed to have been killed when one apartment complex on the beach collapsed in the storm.

"This is our tsunami," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway told the Biloxi Sun Herald newspaper, referring to the December 26, 2004, tsunami that killed more than 226,000 people in the Indian Ocean region.

In the daylight of Tuesday morning, the waters had receded in Biloxi, but debris littered the streets and the ground floors of several structures.

Cement trash cans used as barriers in front of buildings were strewn about like cardboard boxes, and paper scraps hung from the highest branches of the trees still standing.

CNN Correspondent Miles O'Brien, standing in front of the once-luxurious Beau Rivage casino, said at least a dozen gaming places were closed and damaged from Katrina -- costing the state $500,000 a day in lost tax revenues.

Charles Curtis, a Biloxi resident who works in a casino that is now split in half, said he and his wife stood on top of their refrigerator as the water rose around them.

"The Back Bay of Biloxi came through our front door," he said, referring to the shallow, marshy strip that borders the north of the city.

"We were ready to punch a hole through the ceiling if we had to" escape, Curtis said.

Hotel worker Suzanne Rodgers returned to her beachfront home near Biloxi, but, she told CNN, "there is nothing there. There's debris hanging from trees."

"All I found that belonged to me was a shoe," she said. "There's nothing left."

Separately, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency in Jackson confirmed five Katrina-related deaths, a spokeswoman said.

Water poured into New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain after a two-block-long breach opened overnight in a section of a levee that protects the low-lying city.

Nagin had said that about 80 percent of the city was flooded and that some areas were under 20 feet of water.

CNN's John Zarrella, in a hotel on Canal Street, said the water level was "much higher" than it had been during the height of Katrina's onslaught, rising all morning Tuesday and topping the sandbags meant to keep the water out of the building.

"Water has now filled the basement of the hotel," he said. "All of the entrances to our hotel are completely surrounded, and the water is slowly creeping up the side of the building.

"Yesterday during the hurricane, the water was no where near this high."

In the city's 9th Ward neighborhood, rescue efforts continued throughout the night, with authorities in boats plucking residents from submerged homes after water topped another levee.

CNN's Adaora Udoji, monitoring the rescue efforts, said authorities had ferried at least 500 people from their homes, flooded with as much as six feet of water. Some residents reported water rose so fast they did not have time to grab their shoes.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told CNN Monday that a 50-inch water main was severed during the storm, cutting the supply of drinkable water.

In Mobile, Alabama, the storm pushed water from Mobile Bay into downtown, submerging large sections of the city, and officials imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

An oil drilling platform broke away from its moorings and lodged under a bridge that carries U.S. Highway 98 over the Mobile River.

The Alabama National Guard activated 450 troops to secure Mobile. Two other Alabama battalions, or about 800 troops, were activated to assist in Mississippi.

When can I go home?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing to house "at least tens of thousands of victims ... for literally months on end," the agency's director, Michael Brown, said Monday night.

Veteran FEMA staffers who have surveyed the destruction are reporting some of the worst damage they have ever seen, he said.

Louisiana and Mississippi officials urged evacuees as well as those stranded by flooding from the storm to stay put.

"It's too dangerous to come home," said Blanco, who ordered state police to block re-entry routes to all but emergency workers.

The American Red Cross said it is launching the largest relief operation in its history.

More than 75,000 people are being housed in nearly 240 shelters across the region, and Red Cross President Marty Evans told CNN, "We expect that to grow" as people who can't return home seek somewhere to stay.

More than 1.7 million homes and businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida were without electricity, according to utility companies serving the region.

Katrina was downgraded to a tropical depression Tuesday. As of the 11 a.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center, Katrina was about 25 miles south of Clarksville, Tennessee, moving north-northeast at 21 mph.

On Katrina's way north Monday night through Mississippi, its outer bands spawned tornados in Georgia. Three twisters were reported there, one in central Peach County and two in the northwest counties of Carroll and Paulding. One person in Carroll County was critically injured.

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Hurricane Katrina could slow US economic expansion
By Michael Connor
Reuters
Aug 29, 7:21 PM (ET)

MIAMI - Hurricane Katrina may sting U.S. economic growth by choking energy supplies even as the damages caused by the storm spur massive rebuilding and emergency government spending.

Economists, while emphasizing that few concrete damage assessments have yet been made, said the major hurricane that struck the country's key Louisiana energy gateway would help sustain high oil, gasoline and natural gas prices.

A seasonal downturn in demand expected after next weekend and a higher-than-usual build-up in inventories ahead of the North American winter had led to forecasts energy prices might ease in coming months.

Some economists said U.S. gross domestic growth had been already showing signs of easing and may now slow more rapidly if fallout from Katrina boosts oil to $100 a barrel for a month, or U.S. gasoline prices to $3.50 a gallon, for a few months.

"The impact on the consumer spending in such a scenario would be very dramatic, cutting the growth rate by as much as 3 percent and push real GDP growth in the fourth quarter closer to zero," Global Insight said in a preliminary analysis.

The Lexington, Massachusetts, economics consultancy said that, if oil stayed at the current $65 to $70 level for a couple of more months because of energy flow disruptions, GDP growth would be cut 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter.

On Monday, at least two oil rigs were adrift in the Gulf of Mexico, where Katrina raged through offshore fields. Fearing the worst, oil companies had shut rigs and closed refineries along the coast. U.S. oil futures jumped nearly $5 a barrel in opening trade to touch a peak of $70.80 before settling back.

"It looks like the potential disruption has helped to further boost gasoline prices and that could be some additional headwind for the economy," said senior economist Patrick Fearon at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. in St. Louis.

Fearon said A.G. Edwards may later this week trim its forecast of a 4 percent annualized GDP rise in the third quarter.

The Economic Outlook Group in Princeton Junction, New Jersey, said Katrina's effect on energy prices would add to risks facing the U.S. economy and could prompt the Federal Reserve to skip a widely expected interest rate hike when it meets Sept 20.

"This is not to say they will not resume raising rates in November and December. It's just that Fed officials may want to evaluate the extent of Katrina's impact on business activity, consumer demand and on inflation pressures," Economic Outlook said.

Katrina, which last week hit south Florida, was expected to cause a total of $10 billion to $26 billion in insured damages, according to hurricane modeling firms. It could be the most expensive storm to ever hit the United States.

"There will be a lot of rebuilding that is going to need to occur. These things do spur GDP growth," said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics in Pepper Pike, Ohio.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago, said wages lost by workers and revenues missed at shops and other businesses would be generally short-lived and replaced by stepped-up demand for construction and other workers and higher sales at home-supplies outlets.

The storm may also have damaged the Port of Southern Louisiana, the world's fifth largest port by tonnage and the biggest in the United States, and may affect exports and imports of agricultural and other products, according to Swonk.

"Depending on the extent of damage, that will put pressure on other ports. A drought in the Midwest has slowed some barges and there could be some transitory impact on our GDP," Swonk said.

Freight railroads might pick up some of that transport business if the port is hobbled, she said.

Travel, leisure and gambling businesses in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama may lose some tourist visits to other U.S. destinations, such as Las Vegas and Florida, during the cleanup and rebuilding ahead, she said.

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Storms Vary With Cycles, Experts Say
By KENNETH CHANG
August 30, 2005

Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming.

But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught "is very much natural," said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.

From 1970 to 1994, the Atlantic was relatively quiet, with no more than three major hurricanes in any year and none at all in three of those years. Cooler water in the North Atlantic strengthened wind shear, which tends to tear storms apart before they turn into hurricanes.

In 1995, hurricane patterns reverted to the active mode of the 1950's and 60's. From 1995 to 2003, 32 major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater, stormed across the Atlantic. It was chance, Dr. Gray said, that only three of them struck the United States at full strength.

Historically, the rate has been 1 in 3.

Then last year, three major hurricanes, half of the six that formed during the season, hit the United States. A fourth, Frances, weakened before striking Florida.

"We were very lucky in that eight-year period, and the luck just ran out," Dr. Gray said.

Global warming may eventually intensify hurricanes somewhat, though different climate models disagree.

In an article this month in the journal Nature, Kerry A. Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote that global warming might have already had some effect. The total power dissipated by tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic and North Pacific increased 70 to 80 percent in the last 30 years, he wrote.

But even that seemingly large jump is not what has been pushing the hurricanes of the last two years, Dr. Emanuel said, adding, "What we see in the Atlantic is mostly the natural swing."

Comment: Despite all the evidence of climate and earth changes over the past several years, there are still some scientists who claim that the increase in natural disasters occurred because our "luck just ran out". So much for "expert scientists"...

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Gov. Bush Warns Residents Of Gas Shortages
Local6.com
10:25 pm EDT August 29, 2005

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Jeb Bush warned Florida could see shortages of gasoline in coming days as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

The hurricane roared through the nation's major gas refineries and shut down production of thousands of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bush said Florida has worked with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Petroleum Industry to bring significant supplies of gasoline into the state's ports.

But David Mica of the Florida Petroleum Council said it will take time before oil rigs and refineries are operating again.

Bush blames oil companies for keeping lower inventories than they have in the past and that makes shortages more likely. But Mica says the oil industry has produced record amounts of petroleum each of the last three years and that global demand has also increased to record levels.

Comment: Maybe Hugo Chavez can help out Gov. Bush...

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Venezuela to sell cut-price heating oil to U.S. poor
Reuters
Aug 29 10:39 PM US/Eastern

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on Monday his government plans to sell as much as 66,000 barrels per day of heating fuel from its U.S. Citgo refinery to poor communities in the United States.

The offer, made after populist Chavez held talks with U.S. civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, would represent 10 percent of the 660,000 bpd of refined products processed by Citgo. The deals would cut consumer costs by direct sales.

Venezuela's Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said officials were still working on the details on how the oil would be sold from Citgo, a unit of the state oil firm PDVSA.

"We are going to direct as much as 10 percent of the production, that means 66,000 barrels, without intermediaries, to poor communities, hospitals, religious communities, schools," Chavez told reporters at a press conference.

The world's No. 5 oil exporter, oil cartel OPEC member Venezuela is a key supplier to the United States, providing about 15 percent of all U.S. energy imports.

But relations between Caracas and Washington have become strained since left-winger Chavez was elected in 1998 promising social reforms.

Chavez, a former army officer who survived a coup in 2002, frequently accuses the U.S. of backing efforts to kill him or topple his government. U.S. officials dismiss those charges but say Chavez has become a threat to regional stability.

Comment: Here's a crazy idea: Chavez accuses the US of attempting to kill him and topple his government because that is exactly what they tried to do in 2002.

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Venezuela Wants Pat Robertson
AP
Aug. 29, 2005

CARACAS, Venezuela (CBS/AP) - President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that his government may ask the United States to extradite U.S. religious broadcaster Pat Robertson to Venezuela for suggesting American agents should kill him.

Earlier Sunday, Rev. Jesse Jackson offered support for Chavez, saying the televangelist's call for the Venezuelan leader's assassination was a criminal act.

The U.S. civil rights leader, who is on a four-day visit to Venezuela, called Robertson's statements "immoral" and "illegal." He urged U.S. authorities to take action, and said the U.S. government must choose "diplomacy over any threats of sabotage or isolation or assassination."

Sunday, speaking to foreign delegations attending a meeting of the Organization of American States in Caracas, Chavez said Venezuela will "exercise legal action in the United States" against Robertson.

"Calling for the assassination of a head of state is a terrorist act," said Chavez, an outspoken critic of President Bush who has forged strong relations with communist-led Cuba.

"We could even request his extradition," he added.

Chavez told OAS delegates that Venezuela would consider bringing the issue to United Nations if the U.S. government failed to cooperate.

Robertson's comments last week have increased already tense relations between Caracas and Washington. On his TV show "The 700 Club," Robertson said Chavez "is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another 200-billion-dollar war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America, later issued an apology. "Is it right to call for assassination?," said Robertson, in a statement issued after an international furor over his remarks earlier in the week. "No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."

Last Tuesday, the Bush administration swiftly distanced itself from Robertson's comments. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the remarks "inappropriate."

Venezuela has demanded a stronger condemnation of Robertson's remarks.

"We could offer him free psychiatric treatment ... but he could be a lost case" Chavez said sarcastically of Robertson and controversial statements the conservative commentator has made in the past.

Last year, Robertson said President Bush told him before the Iraq invasion: "We're not going to have any casualties," but that "the Lord told me it was going to be (a) a disaster and (b) messy." The White House issued denials.

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The Crucifixion of Christ, American Style
By Jerry Ghinelli
08/29/05

"ICH" -- "For God so loved the world..." he returned his only begotten son to the land where he shed his grace on thee.

Vindication for the faithful, rejoicing for the true believers, it was the second coming of Christ - and he was coming to America. Not to bring Armageddon, but to save mankind from Armageddon.

Jesus will make his first appearance at the intersection of the streets appropriately named "Liberty" and "Church" in New York City, located at what has come to be known as "Ground Zero."

Lower Manhattan was virtually shut down as millions of the faithful and curious flooded the streets to get a glimpse of the second coming of their lord and savior.

Even the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading as the crowds swelled from the Battery to midtown Manhattan. The joy and hope that Christ was bringing was palpable - breathtaking, you might say - in the near carnival-like atmosphere that was created in lower Manhattan.

Songs like "Amazing Grace" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" played from loudspeakers where the Twin Towers had once stood. American flags and crosses were everywhere.

Martin Luther King's "dream" was now a reality, as black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, young and old, "red staters" and "blue staters," even atheists and agnostics, all joined hands in love and friendship at this celebration of the second coming of the Prince of Peace.

The media frenzy was unprecedented.

It was "all Jesus all the time": round-the-clock coverage as priests, rabbis, and even an ayatollah appeared as expert commentators to explain what this all meant and what we should think.

Mel Gibson, who produced the film "The Passion of the Christ," was interviewed on so many television stations the joke was he must have a double. A female CNN reporter facetiously asked if the handsome Gibson's identical twin was married.

The night before, the new Pope, Benedict XVI, gave a rare interview with Mike Wallace from the CBS News show, "60 Minutes." And for good reason: This was to be "the greatest story ever told."

On vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, President Bush read a brief statement, calling the second coming of Christ a "miracle of faith," and formally welcoming him to America. Bush ended his remarks by declaring, "Let freedom reign and God bless America."

Christ had chosen to begin speaking at 8:46 a.m., the precise time when, on September 11, 2001, the first plane smashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

The clock in the corner of the TV screen read "Countdown to Jesus" as the minutes and seconds ticked away. It looked a little like we were about to launch the Space Shuttle, one reporter noted.

At exactly 8:46 a.m., there was a sudden, immediate, "deafening" silence, almost as if the world had ended. Then Jesus Christ appeared alone before a massive bank of microphones, placed just two blocks north of Ground Zero on a little street appropriately named "Trinity Place."

Looking much as he did two thousand years ago, the longhaired, bearded Jesus Christ, shabbily dressed in a robe and sandals, began to speak in a soft voice.

"Shalom, salaam and may peace be with you," he offered.

"I, Jesus of Nazareth, use this sacred ground to symbolize where nearly four years ago, at this exact moment, man's inhumanity to man was broadcast live for the entire world to bear witness to.

"Those who committed these barbaric acts thought of themselves as 'believers,' but only a believer in Satan could commit such a heinous act," said Christ.

The applause rang out like booming thunder, echoing off the skyscrapers along the narrow streets of lower Manhattan, and down the section of Broadway known as the Canyon of Heroes. Shouts of "hallelujah, hallelujah" sent goose bumps up people's arms. The faithful were not crying; they were sobbing. Some people fainted.

For the viewers at home, in the corner of TV screens a small woman provided sign language for the hearing impaired.

Christ continued. "But I come before America today, for she is the greatest danger to world peace since Genesis.

"To suggest that God, our father, would ever be on the side of an America - or any country, for that matter - which attacks poor, defenseless, impoverished people out of revenge, fear, ignorance or greed, contradicts everything I stand for today and, more importantly, died for two thousand years ago."

On the streets and watching at home and at work, the American people were in "shock and awe" at this blunt criticism from their lord and savior.

A few cheered, but Christ's condemnation of America's response to the evils of 9/11 and of their President, Bush - the born-again man of faith, leader of the greatest country on earth - drew immediate and harsh disapproval.

Christian conservatives went on the attack, charging that Christ was wrong to criticize Bush while he was fighting the evil forces of Satan in his divinely inspired worldwide crusade on the war on terror. Christ, as one remarked, seemed to speak with a French accent, and sounded a lot like a bleeding-heart liberal.

Fearing that Christ's message might undermine troop morale in Iraq and Afghanistan conservative Republicans launched an urgent campaign to - as they term it - "swift-boat" Christ.

"Swift-boat" is a new verb in the American lexicon, meaning "to smear in the name of truth, justice and freedom."

A Conservative evangelical group from the Bible Belt was quickly formed, named "The Twelve Veteran Disciples for Truth."

Using only their first names, Peter, Paul, James, John, Andy, Phil, Bart, Matthew, Simon, Thad, Tom, along with their spokesman, Judas, appeared together on Fox News to, as they stated, "to set the record straight."

They all claimed to have ancestors who served with Jesus back in the Middle East, and stated that his message of "love your enemies" was outdated and dangerous in these troubled times, when terrorists and evildoers lurk around every corner and can strike at any moment.

"George W. Bush is a strong and sincere proponent of Christianity, a strong advocate of using military force to attack - even pre-emptively attack - our enemies. Notice that I say 'attack,' not 'love'," said Judas.

Vice President Dick Cheney, appearing with former Georgia Senator Zell Miller before a uniformed military audience in Texas, suggested that Jesus' "love your enemy" message was a thinly veiled liberal euphemism that meant Christ wants to cut the defense budget and reduce the federal funding for the body armor badly needed by our brave young men and women in harm's way.

"Let he without sin cast the first spitball," Cheney mocked, to a standing ovation from the troops.

The American media, which loves simple soundbites to always entertain and sometimes inform, played Cheney's clever spitball line over and over ad nauseum.

One enterprising young Republican trademarked the term "Let he without sin cast the first spitball," embroidered it on t-shirts and is selling them on eBay, along with a scowling "have you hugged a terrorist today" teddy bear in a little turban.

On his daily radio program, Rush Limbaugh - the lord of the airwaves, the voice of the people, his excellency in broadcasting, revered by millions of "ditto heads" - asked whether the wounds Jesus suffered during his crucifixion had possibly been exaggerated.

According to Limbaugh: "Thorns are not lethal, and nails in your hands and feet can only cause flesh wounds."

Nails, Limbaugh went on with a chuckle, "should be an occupational hazard for Jesus Christ, the carpenter from Nazareth. "What's next, Christ building houses for the poor, along with the second most annoying liberal, that other bleeding heart carpenter, Jimmy Carter?" Limbaugh mocked .

Immediately after the show, on sale at www.rushlimbaugh.com were steel-toed workboots adorned with the American flag, a pair of "thorn-resistant" "holy" garden gloves (minus the holes), and a box of Band Aids with tiny red crosses should the gloves fail.

On his program, radical preacher and firebrand television evangelist Pat Robertson referred to Christ's "meek shall inherit the earth" remark as "communist infiltration and extremism."

He suggests, like Limbaugh, that the liberal Christ is soft on the freedom-hating Islamic evildoers who detest our values.

Robertson went so far as to say that Christ was dangerous, and posed the question "perhaps someone needs to take him out before he brings on Armageddon?"

President Bush, speaking to new Marine recruits at Paris Island, praised the Lord Jesus and thanked him for his sacrifices. The President, who speaks to God regularly, insisted, however, that God also put him on this earth during these dangerous times to do his will.

"Christ is my brother," Bush emphasized, "and brothers often have differences of opinion, that's all. Christ believes in turning the other cheek; I prefer an eye for and eye. Or, as we say in Texas - dead or alive," he said to applause from his troops.

"Semper fi," shouted Bush.

Bush declared, "Jesus has never been elected to any public office. I come to work every day as your Commander–in-Chief with war on my mind. Christ speaks of peace this and love that... all kinds of dangerous messages in the post 9/11 world, when we have been attacked by the evildoers who can't stand our freedoms," Bush said, to a standing ovation.

Bush ended his speech by reciting his own version of "The Lord's Prayer":

Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And never forgive the terrorists,
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into appeasement,
and deliver the U.S. from evil.
Amen.

The Democrats, eager to dispel rumors that they will forever be irrelevant, have got into the act.

Fearing that the compassionate Christ might be pro-life, they have set out to - as they term it - "Bork" Jesus.

Like "swift-boat," "Bork," taken from the name of the rejected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, has also become a verb meaning "to publicly destroy the character of those opposed to the Democrats' single issue of abortion."

Teams of lawyers paid for by the Democrats, many of whom, opponents allege, have never read a Bible, sworn on a Bible or seen a Bible except in a cheap motel room, are now scouring the Bible to determine whether Jesus, two thousand years ago, may have had an inappropriate relationship with Mary Magdalene and engaged in a sexual relationship with a subordinate.

Former President Bill Clinton advising the Democrats, as an expert in this area, stated emphatically, "Jesus did not have sexual relations with that women!"

With Clinton's declaration, Democrats ended the investigation and went back to their fund raising.

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal stepped in and was sharply critical of Christ's message that "the love of money is the root of all evil and that it would be easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

Greed, according to the Wall Street Journal is good; greed works; greed is what made America great.

They added that "to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" suggests that Christ is in favor of raising taxes to fund liberal social programs and increase handouts to welfare mothers.

Jewish groups, fearing that Christ - who was, after all, born in Bethlehem, Palestine - would be sympathetic to Palestinian suffering and thus would oppose increased military aid for Israel, labeled him anti-Semitic.

When reminded Christ was born Jewish they amended the label to "self-hating Jew."

Catholics, fearing that this time around not only would Christ clear the temples, but the churches too, were quietly distancing themselves from their lord and savior. With sky-rocketing insurance premiums caused by the lawsuits stemming from the church's sex scandal, Saturday Night Bingo is needed now more than ever and must not be interrupted.

President Bush's advisor and brain, Karl Rove, has denied reports suggesting he was the source of the leak that begs the question "when did Christ stop beating his gay wife." A defensive Rove vehemently denied he was the source and offered proof by reminding everyone that the Bush administration is clear in its opposition to gay marriage.

Sensing blood in the water, the Republican spin machine revved up to full throttle.

Ann Coulter, the "angelic"-looking "Republican Party Doll," appeared on The O'Reilly Factor in a pure white dress with a Victorian collar, her Rapunzel- like blond hair gleaming; under the set lighting. O'Reilly, complimented Coulter saying she reminded him tonight of "Glinda, the good witch of the north in the Wizard of Oz." However, some critics suggested she sounded more like the "wicked witch of the west" when she said: "...with his sandals, long hair and beard, Christ bore an eerie resemblance to Osama bin Laden." O'Reilly said nothing but nodded his approval.

But the coup de grace for Jesus was when Judas, the spokesman for "The Twelve Veteran Disciples for Truth," approached the Justice Department with evidence that the Middle Eastern–born, bearded Christ, who speaks Arabic and is in the US illegally, is a card-carrying member of Al Qaeda.

Judas charged that Christ was not the son of God, but rather the son of Allah.

With silver selling at about $6.80 an ounce (down 9.5 cents), thirty pieces of silver - about $200 - just doesn't buy what it did two thousand years ago. So Judas opted for "fifteen minutes of fame" instead.

He is scheduled to appear on "Oprah" tomorrow, "Larry King Live" at night and "Good Morning America" the next day.

President Bush has invited him to his State of the Union address in January, where he will sit beside Laura Bush.

All suggestions regarding book deals and movie rights are referred to Judas's agent at International Creative Management.

With Christ-approval numbers now in the single digits, and with compelling evidence from the "disciples for truth" that Christ is a member of Al Qaeda, he was arrested under the provisions of the US Patriot Act and whisked off to an undisclosed location.

The indigent, penniless Christ was represented in court by a public defender who appealed Christ's incarceration all the way up to the US Supreme court.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who is of Italian ancestry tracing back to ancient Rome, when speaking for the court refused to hear the appeal. In a tersely worded opinion for a unanimous court, he stated: "We wash our hands of this matter."

The High Court, however, then overturned the twenty-five-year sentence of convicted WorldCom (MCI) thief Bernard "Bernie" Ebbers, declaring that his rights under the 8th Amendment, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment, were violated.

Ebbers was immediately released back into society and received a hero's welcome in his hometown. Signs of "Give us Bernard" appeared everywhere.

Outside the court at Christ's hearing, one lone supporter of Christ held up a sign that read "crucify the sinless, and set the guilty free." He was immediately arrested.

Accompanied by his legal aid lawyer, Christ was returned to the courtroom from his undisclosed location, along with two other prisoners.

Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists and ankles, he looked gaunt and sad at his circumstances.

His public defender angrily referred to this proceeding as a "high-tech crucifixion." The public defender was immediately cited for contempt of court.

"You judge, you will be judged," Christ's lawyer reminded him.

Christ never spoke during the brief hearing, except when the judge asked him if he had any final words before sentencing. "Yes, your honor. Father, forgive them, again, for they know not what they do."

Amen.

Jerry Ghinelli writes essays exclusively for Information Clearing House and contributes his time and efforts as a private citizen, with the hope of encouraging readers to think more broadly about the important issues that threaten the peace and security of the world community. He welcomes all intelligent feedback, whether positive or negative, which should be sent to email@jerryghinelli.com, or visit http://www.jerryghinelli.com.

Copyright: Jerry Ghinelli. All rights reserved. You may republish under the following conditions: An active link to the original publication must be provided. You must not alter, edit or remove any text within the article, including this copyright notice.

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Bush's Pat Robertson Problem
By Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive
Posted August 30, 2005

Robertson's assassination call not only created a PR headache for Bush, but a policy one: it's now all the more difficult for the administration to take Chávez out.

Pat Robertson has apologized, sort of, for his outrageous comments encouraging the United States to assassinate Hugo Chávez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela. But those comments still pose a two-fold problem for Bush.

First, he's got to distance himself from this nut, even though Robertson and his bowl of nuts are about the only allies Bush has got left. His latest approval rating is down to 36 percent, the lowest of his presidency, according to the American Research Group.

And second, Robertson's remarks handcuff Bush, making the overthrow of Chávez more difficult to execute. Even before the reverend said, "Thou Shall Kill," Chávez was warning that Bush wanted to off him. So Robertson lent credence to Chávez's claim and burnished Chávez's reputation in Venezuela and beyond as a Latin American David confronting the Goliath up north.

I've believed for a long time that getting rid of Chávez is a priority for Bush and Cheney. After all, they supported the coup attempt against him back in 2002.

Here are some of the underlying issues: Venezuela is a big supplier of oil to the United States, and Chávez has threatened to cut off supplies. He's also seeking back taxes from foreign oil companies, threatening to boot them out if they don't pay up. He is an outspoken critic of Bush and an admirer of Castro. And he has expressed sympathy with guerrillas in Colombia and with the nonviolent movement in Bolivia against globalization.

This year, Bush officials have steadily raised the volume of rhetoric against him.

Condoleezza Rice, in her confirmation hearings as Secretary of State, called him "a negative force." Echoing Henry Kissinger's infamous line about Allende in Chile ("I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people)," Rice said that "leaders who do not govern democratically, even if they are democratically elected," need to be held accountable.

CIA Director Porter testified in March that Chávez was "very clearly causing mischief for us."

Rumsfeld denounced him for planning to buy 100,000 assault rifles from Russia.

One of Rumsfeld's aides recently called Chávez "a menace."

And Roger Pardo-Maurer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Western Hemisphere affairs, accused him of "downright subversion" in Latin America.

In June, the Bush Administration proposed to the Organization of American States a new policy that would have enabled that group to intervene militarily to "promote democracy" in Latin America. But many governments in the OAS balked at this, seeing it as a transparent threat against sovereignty in general and Venezuela, in particular.

Just last week, Rumsfeld, who doesn't have enough to do fighting insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, took time out to go to Latin America to try to isolate Chávez. The New York Times headlined its story on this, "Rumsfeld's Tour of South America Is Directed at Stability," when it may have been more focused on the destabilization of Venezuela.

Given this context, Robertson seems to have just gotten a little ahead of the curve, daring to say in public what Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice are probably muttering under their breath.

When your crazed friends start getting in the way of your crazed policy, it's a real shame.

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive.

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A snow job on 9/11?
By JOHN BERKOWITZ
Brattleboro Reformer
Saturday, August 27, 2005 - 2:15:43 AM EST

As we near the fourth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it's time for Vermonters and all Americans to take a closer look at what happened on that fateful day because so much has changed in our country and our world. War and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan has killed and maimed tens of thousands of Americans and 10 times as many Iraqis and Afghanis.

At home, we've lost important civil liberties, along with hundreds of billions of our tax dollars -- due to war costs and tax cuts mostly for the rich -- that are needed to meet urgent needs like health care, housing, veterans' programs, education, and environmental protection.

For two years after 9/11, I accepted the official story by the Bush administration and by the 9/11 Commission's report of a year ago. Nineteen Arab hijackers pulled off one of the biggest sneak attacks in history, while intelligence blunders beforehand, as well as confusion and bad communication that day by air defense officials, allowed it to succeed.

But now there are many, including myself, who question whether we've been told the full truth about what really happened. A Zogby poll a year ago found that half of New York City residents believed that the Bush administration knew about the attacks ahead of time and didn't stop them. This was not a partisan poll either -- half the respondents were Republicans.

Then last fall, a group of 9/11 victim family members, joined by prominent Americans, filed a complaint and petition with New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. It called on him to open a new and independent investigation of the crime to answer many of the lingering questions about the events of that day.

Another critic of the official story is David Ray Griffin, a retired professor of theology and an internationally respected Christian theologian and author. Like me, he was not inclined to believe in conspiracy theories. But after doing extensive research, he wrote two books on 9/11 in the past year and a half: "The New Pearl Harbor: Unanswered Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11" and "The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions".

Recently, he spoke at the National Press Club, and a speech he made at the University of Wisconsin was later broadcast nationally over C-Span.

He said the evidence has led him to conclude that the Bush administration was complicit in the attacks.

Why? To rally public support for its agenda of keeping the U.S. as the strongest world power in the 21st century, specifically by military and economic control of oil and gas reserves in the Mideast.

One of his key points is that the World Trade Center towers could not have collapsed due to fire. Fire has never, prior to or after 9/11, caused steel-frame buildings to collapse, even when the fires have been much more severe. In addition, the collapse of the towers exemplified all the standard features of collapses deliberately induced by explosives. For example, the collapses were straight down and at virtually free-fall speed.

There's also the question about the nearby 47-story building that collapsed about 5:30 p.m. It had not been hit by a plane, it had very small fires, and yet it also collapsed in the same manner. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's report said they couldn't explain this, and the 9/11 Commission failed to even mention it.

Griffin says the evidence indicates that this building, as well as the Twin Towers, was brought down by controlled demolition. Recently, Morgan Reynolds, the top economist in the Labor Department during Bush's first term, said the same thing in a Washington Times article, as did Kevin Ryan, a former executive at Underwriter Laboratories, the product safety compliance company that certified the fire-resistant steel used in the construction of the Twin Towers.

Griffin also concludes there's no way that our air defense system -- the best in the world -- could have been so incompetent that it failed to raise the alarm earlier about not just one but four separate plane hijackings.

In 67 consecutive suspicious incidents in the eight months prior to 9/11, interceptor planes were scrambled every time within 10 minutes. Some of his other unanswered questions include: Why was Bush allowed to stay in the Florida elementary school for 30 minutes after the attacks, placing himself and hundreds of schoolchildren at risk, unless the Secret Service knew that he wasn't a target? Why was the initial damage to the Pentagon far less than what would be expected from a Boeing 757?

And how could the alleged pilot, who could barely fly a small airplane, fly a jet on a complicated path that required a high degree of skill? It's painful to say, or even think about, but Griffin and I and many others are increasingly convinced that Bush and his top aides have lied about 9/11 in the same way that they have lied about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq's role in the terrorist attacks and about Social Security going bankrupt.

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others were all charter members in the late 1990s of a think-tank called the Project for the New American Century. One year before 9/11, they wrote that their plans could be more quickly realized if a "new Pearl Harbor" were to occur.

It's time for a new and fully independent investigation. If 9/11 was an inside job -- even partially -- then high crimes and treason have been committed by our own leaders, and they must be held accountable before many more thousands of soldiers and civilians die abroad, and our own country bleeds a slow death of unmet social and environmental needs.

I urge Vermonters to look closely at Griffin's work, and come hear him speak Oct. 11 and 12 in Brattleboro, Manchester, Montpelier or Burlington. For more info, contact SVFEEP at (802) 387-5127, svfeep@sover.net or www.svfeep.net .

John Berkowitz is director of Southern Vermonters for a Fair Economy and Environmental Protection.

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Anti-War Protesters Hateful and Ignorant
By Frank Salvato
CNSNews.com Commentary
August 26, 2005

If there is one thing I have come to know through all of my years working in politics. it is that liberals will always accuse their opposition of precisely the actions they are undertaking.

I suppose this could be viewed as some sort of convoluted effort to inoculate the issue they are attempting to manipulate, but the fact remains that if liberals are accusing a group of doing something, chances are they are doing it themselves; the louder they protest, the more they are involved.

Recently, my sister -- a good hearted, open-minded city-dweller -- forwarded an email to me she had received from an acquaintance. This email cited a left-wing website that called the "femanistas" to arms over the "fact" that the new Iraqi government had ceded all elements of women's rights to the rule of Islam and that the Bush administration had endorsed the move.

Of course, this propaganda is about as accurate and truthful as Scott Peterson's story about going fishing.

The truth of the matter is that the new Iraqi government is still struggling to achieve a draft of the new constitution, so there haven't been any laws passed or any rights rescinded.

In fact, one of the stumbling blocks keeping the new Iraqi government from achieving the goal of a new draft constitution is the role of Islam in the new government, an issue directly related to women's rights in that country.

The issue of whether Islamic law should be a component of government is a contentious topic among the Shiite, Sunni and Kurds, not to mention that there are quite a few elected women sitting in the new Iraqi congress, the very body creating the draft constitution.

I noted these facts when I replied to my sister and added that if her "friend" really wanted to help the women of Iraq preserve and perhaps increase their rights under the new Iraqi system of law, she would have a better chance of doing so if she pried herself out of the couch at Starbucks, stopped laying blame at the feet of our government for what other sovereign governments are doing and started her journey to Baghdad to protest outside of the Iraqi congress where her mouthing off would be more apropos.

The reply I received to my comments was typical of the liberal mindset. It completely ignored the truths that were presented in rebuttal and ignored the fact that not one statement posited in the initial email was based in truth. Instead, it addressed my "hateful tone."

Comment: Regarding the author's "hateful tone", note carefully the bold-faced text in the remainder of this article...

The irony that a self-righteous demagogue armed with half-truths and innuendo, who was herself spreading what can only be described as hate-filled speech about our country and our president, was pointed.

It added credence to my theory about liberals accusing their opponents of doing exactly as they are. The reality of the situation is that this disingenuous and inaccurate message is out there, adding to the misinformation that is fueling the partisan atmosphere in which we currently exist.

Until recently, I was fairly comfortable believing that the disinformation campaign of the liberal left, at its highest levels, was well organized and conceived by a keen and intelligent, albeit deceitful foe.

Whether the target was the War on Terror, judicial nominations, the economy or whether a fetus feels pain, I felt confident that the assassination of the truth for political gain being perpetrated by the Carvilles, Begalas, Clintons, Exleys and Ickes and of the world was a conflict that could be quelled by tactics of a cerebral nature, a high-stakes game of political chess, as it were.

Silly me; it looks like we're playing checkers.

The radically leftist, femi-Nazi group Code Pink Women for Peace -- the same group that supports the inane shrieking of Cindy Sheehan -- has taken to sponsoring anti-war protests directly outside the front doors of the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Walter Reed is a primary destination for those who have been wounded in battle and home to many soldiers who have suffered life-altering injuries. It is a place for healing and transition. At least, it was before Code Pink decided to exploit wounded soldiers for political gain.

The anti-war activists of Code Pink assemble every week with their props and propaganda to literally harass those who have given of themselves to provide the very freedoms that those of Code Pink use to hate.

They assemble with signs that read "Maimed for Lies" and "Enlist Here and Die for Halliburton." They line up fake caskets draped with American flags just outside the doors to the medical center tormenting soldiers who have lost brothers in arms. They chant slogans like "George Bush kills American soldiers," while recuperating soldiers and their families enter and leave the facility.

One protester, too much of a coward to give his real name, said to a Cybercast News Service reporter: "We know most of the George Bush supporters have never spent a day in uniform, have never been closer to a battlefield than seeing it through the television screen."

Evidently, this stunted intellect, who probably has never worn a uniform except perhaps that of the International Union of Socialist Youth, hasn't the cognitive skills to recognize the very real and overwhelming support for the president that exists in the Armed Forces, both active and retired.

That a group of people can be so narcissistic and narrow in their thinking as to invade a medical facility to abuse and mentally torture soldiers recuperating from the damages of war is despicable. But even more pathetic is the blind hatred that burns deep within their souls.

The ruse that the liberal left is displaying anger based in superior morality and intellect has been "outed" as the hate-filled ignorance it is. The tolerance of the left is dead.

So, if I had the chance to add one last thought to the comments I offered my sister's "friend," it would be this: The glory of freedom is not based in hate, it is based in opportunity. If you want to change the world, here's your opportunity. Don't waste it promulgating lies.

(Frank Salvato is managing editor of TheRant.us.)

Comment: It seems to us that the author should heed his own advice. In any case, we have received numerous messages on our forum about our "liberal bias". A previous poster wrote a nice piece on the word "liberal." Since we can't improve on it, we'll just quote it:

I notice that the word "liberal" is used by some here almost as though it were a bad word - a nasty "label." I also notice that the word "nazi" has been flung at the SOtT staff. This is truly bizarre when you consider the fact that the real Nazis were rabidly "anti-liberal." They, too, used the term "liberal" as if it were a bad word.

People often wonder how the Nazis actually came to power in a civilized and modern country when you consider that the Nazi regime was among the most criminal, barbarous and immoral that the world has ever witnessed. The fact is that the Nazis made huge efforts to present themselves as the defenders of conventional social and moral values. They presented themselves as guarantors of public decency and law and order. The Nazis suppressed homosexuals and pornography just as Bush and his coterie of Christocrats seek to do.

The daily reality of the Third Reich was a complex mixture of fear and bribery, terror and concessions, barbarism and appeals to conventional moral values which were employed in order to gain and maintain a grip on German society. Does that sound familiar?

I would like to show that the attacks and slurs on this board, demonstrate a striking similarity between Bush supporters and the Nazis.

Nazi activists gloried in violence and hate. Thousands of opponents of the Nazis were, indeed, rounded up and hanged as one poster has suggested ought to happen to the SOtT staff. Long before Germany was officially declared a one-party state, open political dissent had come to an end by virtue of the attacks of such individuals who had the power and support of the Nazis behind them.

Another interesting thing about Nazis was their extreme hatred of Communists. The communists of Germany tried to protest the intensification of the Fascist dictatorship in the city of Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) one morning. No sooner had the peaceful protesters assembled than about 500 Nazi Storm Troopers marched through the square. They tried to provoke the protesters to violence in ways similar to what the New York Police recently did to the anti-war protesters during the RNC. In Breslau, violence did erupt when the police began firing on the protesters, and this was used as a reason to ban the Communists and all rallies as a "threat to public order."

That evening, the Nazis celebrated their victory over the Communists by staging a huge demonstration of their own. Over 50,000 people took part in the center of Breslau. The square of the largest city in Eastern Germany became a sea of swastika flags and marching columns of brown-shirted storm troopers.

The Nazis didn't, at first, use direct state violence against their opponents. They used propaganda and people like Brian who later got a pat on the head and maybe a nice cushy position as a Storm Trooper - about the only place left where people had work and food.

The term "Liberal" could be used to describe both the Leftists and the Communists of Germany.

The Leftists of Germany were known as "Social Democrats." These were largely trade unions, worker's organizations and so on.

There was encouragement by the government for the violence against the "Left." Leading members of the left-wing parties were arrested as the various police forces and Nazi formations began to coordinate their activities. Attempts by the Social Democrats or Communists to hold election rallies were broken up with growing frequency. The left-wing press was suppressed, and by the time of the elections in Germany, violence from such individuals as Brian and his ilk (in the guise of Brown Shirts, Storm Troopers), as well as police repression, had combined to drive the Left from public view.

After the election, the Nazis turned their attention to rooting out and destroying the supporters of the now underground Left and Liberal parties. The once impressive supports of German Social Democracy, which had withstood Bismarck's attacks for fifty years, were destroyed piecemeal.

The campaign against the Left and Liberals was all the more effective because of its ambiguous nature. There was no single, decisive confrontation. It was carried out both within and outside of the existing legal structure just as we see happening in the U.S. today. The Leftists and Liberals essentially faced what were "spontaneous" attacks from "marauding bands" of Nazis just as marauding bands of Bushistas roam the internet and the streets of the U.S. These types of attack are quite effective because, essentially, the power of the State stands behind them.

Analysts suggest today that even if the Left and the Communists had been united, they would not have prevailed because once the Nazis and their conservatives controlled the State organs of power, as do Bush and his gang at present, the police and the army were used effectively to eliminate opposition.

If the history of the Nazi seizure of power teaches us anything, it is that there is little the Liberals can do to stop a powerful Right Wing movement that has mass support, allies in powerful places (such as the media), and control of the repression apparatus of the State.

Of course, the Liberals were not the only targets of the Nazis: there were the Jews. The assault of Germany's Jews took second place behind the attacks on the Left.

The Third Reich was only able to establish and maintain itself by being in a perpetual state of emergency. And mostly, they targeted "Liberals." It seems that a liberal then and now is anyone who values human life even if that human is different.

So, when you start flaming Liberals, Communists and the "Left," the only conclusion that can be drawn is that you are a Fascist - a Nazi.

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Netanyahu bids to oust Sharon after Gaza pullout
By Allyn Fisher-Ilan
Reuters
August 30, 2005

TEL AVIV - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's bitter rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, launched a bid on Tuesday to topple him as Likud party leader in a power struggle sparked by the evacuation of Gaza settlers.

Likud polls show ex-finance minister Netanyahu would rout Sharon in a primary if it were held soon, stirring speculation Sharon may break away from rightists and forge a new centrist party to run in an election due before November 2006.

Likud's hardline Central Committee is expected to stage a primary as early as November, a move that could reshuffle Israel's political deck and lead to an early general election. Sharon, 77, is aiming for a third term.

Netanyahu, 55, prime minister in 1996-99, resigned in protest this month over Sharon's evacuation of all 21 Jewish settlements from Gaza and four of 120 in the West Bank under a U.S.-backed plan to "disengage" from conflict with Palestinians.

Netanyahu is the hero of hardline nationalists in a split Likud, saying the pullout will imperil Israel by turning Gaza into an "independent terrorist base" rather than a model for Palestinian statehood as U.S.-led peace mediators hope.

"Ariel Sharon has gone a different way, the way of the left. Likud needs leadership that will repair the damage ... to our state. I believe I can do this and will stand for the Likud leadership and premiership," Netanyahu told a news conference.

The looming Likud showdown will be a culture clash as well.

It pits Sharon, a stout former general known for hardnosed leadership and distaste for messy debate, against Netanyahu, a U.S.-educated master of the soundbite who revived Israel's economy, although he is seen by some as prone to posturing.

While many in Likud see Netanyahu as truer to party principles than Sharon, cross-party polls have consistently shown Sharon to be the most popular and respected Israeli leader and more likely to win the next election at the party's helm.

SHARON HAS POPULAR MAJORITY

Most Israelis favor Sharon's security strategy, which entails ceding more West Bank settlements as part of any final peace deal with Palestinians but keeping the biggest settler blocs in the territory he sees as strategically vital.

Sharon stole a march on Netanyahu's announcement by lambasting his rightist rival on Monday as someone who quickly "panics and loses his cool" under pressure and calling him unfit to lead Israel in any peace process with Palestinians.

Netanyahu hit back on Tuesday: "You can judge by yourselves which one of us is under pressure, reacting to pressure."

"What the public wants to know is when will it get a prime minister who stops putting wind in the sails of terrorists and begins to demand things in return for concessions."

Sharon says his plan extracted isolated settlers from land Israel would not keep under any peace deal and won U.S. acquiescence in a permanent Israeli hold on major West Bank settlements within the Israeli consensus.

The primary vote would mark the first time an Israeli party has tried to topple a serving prime minister as its chairman.

Maariv newspaper columnist Ben Caspit said "bad blood was boiling" between Sharon and Netanyahu and predicted "one of the fiercest and dirtiest political battles Israel has ever known." [...]

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Asteroid's path could put Earth in its sights
By Dan Vergano
USA TODAY
Mon Aug 29, 6:34 AM ET

Astronomers are debating what to do about Earth's close encounter with an asteroid in 2029 and again in 2036 - passages that might be too close for comfort.

Apophis, a 1,059-foot-wide asteroid, has excited astronomers since it was spotted last year. After observing it for a while, scientists concluded that it has only a 1-in-8,000 chance of ever smacking into Earth. But even that slim chance has them talking and
NASA pondering how to keep track of it - just in case.

"The most likely turn of events is that it will miss us," says Steve Chesley of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which has monitored the asteroid since December as part of its normal watch over "near-Earth" asteroids. "We are prepared for the worst but certainly don't want to act too hastily." [...]

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Ice Age engravings found in Somerset
Press Association
The Guardian
Thursday August 18, 2005

A series of rare engravings, believed to date from the Mesolithic period, 10,000 years ago, have been discovered in a cave in Somerset.

The three abstract squares, thought to have been made with stone tools, were found in Long Hole cave in Cheddar by the University of Bristol Speleological Society.

The find follows the discovery of ancient inscribed crosses at nearby Aveline's Hole cave in February this year.

Experts have not been able to determine the meaning of the engravings yet, but say they are extremely important and one of only three examples of this kind of art to be discovered in Britain.

The society's team leader, Graham Mullan, said: "These engravings are not awfully exciting if you're into high art - they are three bunches of straight lines.

"But they are very important because we think they were created just after the end of the Ice Age.

"This period was very interesting as the environment was heating up and changing and this was affecting the types of animals living in the area.

Aveline's Hole, close to the cave, is believed to be the earliest scientifically dated cemetery. Some 20 skeletons, dating back between 10,200 and 10,400 years, were taken from the cave by the society in 1914. They were stored at Bristol University, but destroyed during a second world war raid.

Bob Smart, of Cheddar Caves, said: "We are delighted by this new discovery which is an excellent example of the importance Cheddar caves held for our ancestors."

The speleological society's research into the engravings is being carried out with the British Museum's department of prehistory and Europe.

Jill Cook, the deputy keeper in the department, said: "The new engravings are clearly ancient and comparable to early post glacial pattern panels found elsewhere in Europe.

"Their discovery will help breathe new life into this period."

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And Finally...

You can use the f-word in class (but only five times)
Daily Mail
09:58am 29th August 2005

A secondary school is to allow pupils to swear at teachers - as long as they don't do so more than five times in a lesson. A running tally of how many times the f-word has been used will be kept on the board. If a class goes over the limit, they will be 'spoken' to at the end of the lesson.

The astonishing policy, which the school says will improve the behaviour of pupils, was condemned by parents' groups and MPs yesterday. They warned it would backfire.

Parents were advised of the plan, which comes into effect when term starts next week, in a letter from the Weavers School in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.

Assistant headmaster Richard White said the policy was aimed at 15 and 16-year-olds in two classes which are considered troublesome.

'Tolerate but not condone'

"Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate (although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students can see the running score," he wrote in the letter

"Over this number the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson."

Parents called the rule 'wholly irresponsible and ludicrous'.

"This appears to be a misguided attempt to speak to kids on their own level," said the father of one pupil.

Should have do's and don'ts

Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "In these sort of situations teachers should be setting clear principles of 'do and don't'.

"They should not be compromising in an apparent attempt to please the pupils. This will send out completely the wrong message."

"Youngsters will play up to this and ensure they use their five goes, demeaning the authority of the teacher."

Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said the policy was based on 'Alice in Wonderland reasoning'.

"What next?" she asked. "Do we allow people to speed five times or burgle five times? You don't improve something by allowing it, you improve something by discouraging it."

'Praise postcards'

The 1,130-pupil school, which was criticised as 'not effective' by Ofsted inspectors last November, also plans to send 'praise postcards' to the parents of children who do not swear and who turn up on time for lessons.

Headmaster Alan Large said he had received no complaints about the policy. "The reality is that the fword is part of these young adults' everyday language," he said.

"As a temporary policy we are giving them a bit of leeway, but want them to think about the way they talk and how they might do better."

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