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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

George H.W. and Barbara mingle with the "little people"



Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans
By E&P Staff
September 05, 2005 7:25 PM ET updated 8:00 PM

NEW YORK Accompanying her husband, former President George H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them."

The former First Lady's remarks were aired this evening on National Public Radio's "Marketplace" program.

She was part of a group in Houston today at the Astrodome that included her husband and former President Bill Clinton, who were chosen by her son, the current president, to head fundraising efforts for the recovery. Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama were also present.

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost everyone I've talked to says we're going to move to Houston."

Then she added: "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

Comment: It seems old Babs has let the cat out of the bag. All the talk of the Bush government letting the poor people of New Orleans rot both before and after Katrina struck doesn't seem like a "conspiracy theory" anymore, does it?

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Halliburton Hired To Do Storm Cleanup
Housten Chronicle
Sept. 1, 2005, 8:30PM

The Navy has hired Houston-based Halliburton Co. to restore electric power, repair roofs and remove debris at three naval facilities in Mississippi damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Halliburton subsidiary KBR will also perform damage assessments at other naval installations in New Orleans as soon as it is safe to do so.

KBR was assigned the work under a "construction capabilities" contract awarded in 2004 after a competitive bidding process. The company is not involved in the Army Corps of Engineers' effort to repair New Orleans' levees.

Comment: Why are we not surprised?

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New World Orleans: Microcosm for the "New America"

Special report on the elite police state takeover
Steve Watson
September 5 2005

Imagine an America where everyone is displaced. It's survival of the fittest as all law and order has broken down. Martial law has been declared with 24 hr curfews, Posse Comitatus has been overturned and there are troops on the streets shooting anyone who disobeys their orders. Thousands and thousands of people are starving but the authorities will not allow aid in any significant amounts. Large crowds are quelled with the use of sonic lasers, whilst overhead drone aircraft monitor the area, checking for any anomalous activity.

Any form of Local and State government has been abandoned and officials have been forcibly removed against their wills. The elite infiltrators of the Federal Government watch on from afar, in control of everything, answering to no one and getting fat off the profits of their own corrupt inactivity which brought about the situation in the first instance. They like it that way, it suits them down to the ground, why should they do anything to improve the situation?

This is the nightmare situation of a New World Order takeover in America. It is what we have been warning the world about for years. It is no longer some distant possibility on the horizon that our children may have to endure and fight against, it is here, it is now. New Orleans is a testing ground for this exact scenario, all this is going on there now. We are witnessing in New Orleans, the construction of a microcosm for a "New America" and a New World Order.

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break

The overriding issue that is simply being ignored by the mainstream media is that it was the federal government itself that lowered the guard in cutting off key funding to protect Louisiana from natural disasters.

The New Orleans district of the US Army Corps of Engineers bore the brunt of a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding for fiscal year 2006.

The Army Corps of Engineers sought $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans, while the White House slashed the request to about $40 million. Congress finally approved $42.2 million, less than half of the agency's request

The Bush administration has been cutting funding for federal disaster relief funds since 2001 while doubling funding in other areas to pump up the biggest growth in government for decades, easily outstripping that of Bill Clinton.

A report from the Best of New Orleans news website outlines the details.

"...Among emergency specialists, 'mitigation' -- the measures taken in advance to minimize the damage caused by natural disasters -- is a crucial part of the strategy to save lives and cut recovery costs. But since 2001, key federal disaster mitigation programs, developed over many years, have been slashed and tossed aside. FEMA's Project Impact, a model mitigation program created by the Clinton administration, has been canceled outright. Federal funding of post-disaster mitigation efforts designed to protect people and property from the next disaster has been cut in half. Communities across the country must now compete for pre-disaster mitigation dollars."

The Bush administration's move to merge FEMA with Homeland Security meant that the two had to compete for funding. Straightforward projects that would have massively reduced the devastation we are now seeing, such as raising houses, were cast aside in favor of anti-terrorism measures.

In early 2001, FEMA issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City!. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war.

Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana was quoted on June 8, 2004 in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, as saying "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us".

Ultimately, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is directed, along with 15 other agencies, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "It is FEMA who is really calling the shots and setting priorities here," Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, commander of the corps has said.

Much of the Netherlands lies below sea level and after the 1953 flood which killed 1,800 people, the Dutch launched a major flood prevention program called the Delta Plan. Engineers fortified dykes and bolstered other water defenses against a future disaster and there hasn't been one since. Had a similar project been in place for New Orleans and had Bush not cut the funding, the misery and turmoil being visited on that area would have been avoided.

Not only is the Bush Administration directly responsible for the ferocity of this disaster, the blame also lies with Clinton. 10 years ago, the Clinton administration cut 98 flood control projects, including one in New Orleans, saying such efforts should be local projects, not national.

A $120 million hurricane project, approved and financed annually from 1965 was killed by the Clinton administration after being approved by the Army Corps of Engineers. It was designed to protect more than 140,000 West Bank residents east of the Harvey Canal.

The New York Times has reported that there were vivid reasons to push for the greatest level of protection. One was Hurricane Betsy, a midgrade storm that swamped much of New Orleans in 1965. In 1969, Hurricane Camille, the second-most-powerful Atlantic storm recorded, passed within 60 miles and demolished the Mississippi coast.

Bob Sheets, a meteorologist who directed the National Hurricane Center until retiring in 1995, has said that he and other federal forecasters gave hundreds of talks about storm risks, and New Orleans was always the case study for catastrophe since the 1970s. He has said of the city officials: "Essentially they did nothing."

Despite all this, In an interview on Thursday the 1st September, on "Good Morning America," President Bush said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

Furthermore, the mainstream media, despite several reports emerging to the contrary, republished Bush's comments. The New York Times declared that "The response will be dissected for years. But on Thursday, disaster experts and frustrated officials said a crucial shortcoming may have been the failure to predict that the levees keeping Lake Pontchartrain out of the city would be breached, not just overflow."

This April 2005 article in Popular Science proves that Bush's comments were grossly inaccurate. "At 20 feet below sea level, new Orleans is a prime target. An ambitious new levee system would decrease the risk."

As World Net Daily reported, a year ago, New Orleans reviewed its hurricane disaster plans after Hurricane Ivan gave the city a major scare forcing the evacuation of nearly 1 million people from the area. Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin both acknowledged after the Ivan near miss they needed a better evacuation plan.

Even the AP noted at the time, "New Orleans dodged the knockout punch many feared from the hurricane, but the storm exposed what some say are significant flaws in the Big Easy's civil disaster plans." The big flaws were that there simply were no civil disaster plans and FEMA had no intention of developing any.

So it is clear that Officials at the Army Corps of Engineers and emergency managers and hurricane experts knew for years, that the levees surrounding the New Orleans area were built to withstand only a relatively weak Category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Katrina, a Category 4 mega-storm, thus had devastating consequences. Still funding was slashed and the disaster was allowed to happen.

When The Levee Breaks I'll have no place to stay

In the aftermath of the disaster it has become obvious that the Government has no interest in alleviating the suffering and helping to restore civility in the region.

In particular FEMA, which has endlessly drilled for such situations, has been a key hindrance. After the authorities in Baton Rouge had prepared a field hospital for victims of the storm, FEMA sent its first batch of supplies, all of which were designed for use against chemical attack, including drugs such as Cipro, which is designed for use against anthrax. The London Guardian reported, "We called them up and asked them: 'Why did you send that, and they said that's what it says in the book'," said a Baton Rouge official.

Yet don't think for one second that FEMA is simply incompetent. FEMA is criminally negligent. FEMA has done nothing to aid the situation, in fact there have been reports that FEMA has cut emergency communication lines and has been turning back fuel and water supplies being sent by outside agencies such as Wal Mart. This is because the Federal Government wants complete control over the situation.

Even American Red Cross officials have said that FEMA authorities would not allow them to deliver aid. "The Homeland Security Department has requested and continues to request that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans," said Renita Hosler, spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

Even Jack Cafferty, the CNN anchor known for his straight-talking, has declared: "I remember the riots in Watts. I remember the earthquake in San Francisco. I remember a lot of things. I have never seen anything as badly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people in that Superdome down there? It's a disgrace. And don't think the world isn't watching."

Former FEMA officials have admitted that Government disaster officials had an action plan if a major hurricane hit New Orleans. They simply didn't execute it when Hurricane Katrina struck. Ronald Castleman, the former regional director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and John Copenhaver, a former FEMA regional director during the Clinton administration who led the response to Hurricane Floyd in 1999, said they were bewildered by the slow FEMA response.

We even have blogs from former New Orleans residents who have managed to get to safety. One exclaiming that:

"There are supplies sitting in Baton Rouge for the folks in New Orleans, but the National Guard has the city surrounded and is not letting anyone in or out. They are turning away people with s[QUOTE]upplies, claiming it is too dangerous...Our goverment is KILLING the people of New Orleans. This is the message I am now sending to all major media sources, national and worldwide, as well as posting to email lists, blogs, etc. The story is getting out that the people there are not getting supplies, but the truth of WHY is not. "

The LA Times interviewed a survivor who said, "The only thing the authorities have given us is a bunch of false hope,". she had survived Tuesday through Friday on scavenged scraps of food inside the cavernous hall. "They just left us here to die."

The Federal response was further criticised by New Orleans deputy police commander W.S. Riley who reported to AFP that Guardsmen 'played cards' as the chaos unfolded and many were dying. He stated that for three days there was no assistance. "The guard arrived 48 hours after the hurricane with 40 trucks. They drove their trucks in and went to sleep."

There have also been suggestions that part of the levee around N.O. was dynamited after the first section broke in an attempt to prevent Uptown (the rich part of town) from being flooded. Apparently they used too much dynamite, thus flooding part of the Bywater.

Reports and comments from officials today have indicated that President Bush's visit is nothing more than a staged photo op.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time. The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF. [War And Piece]

"2 minutes ago the President drove past in his convoy. But what has happened in Biloxi all day long is truly unbelievable. Suddenly recovery units appeared, suddenly bulldozers were there, those hadn't been seen here all the days before, and this in an area, in which it really wouldn't be necessary to do a big clean up, because far and wide nobody lives here anymore, the people are more inland in the city...The extent of the natural disaster shocked me, but the extent of the staging is shocking me at least the same way. With that back to Hamburg." [Daily Kos]

White House officials do not deny that they craft elaborate events to showcase Bush, but they maintain that these events are designed to accurately dramatize his policies and to convey qualities about him that are real.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans has called for the firing of FEMA director Michael Brown and has heavily criticized the government for its awful response.

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard has charged that Federal bureaucrats have 'Murdered' the Flood Victims in New Orleans. Yet Broussard also stated that "FEMA needs more congressional funding. It needs more presidential support . . . FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do."

FEMA is now simply a federalized front group for the corrupt money hoarding Department of Homeland Security, the Orwellian titled agency that has nothing to do with security and everything to do with limiting the freedoms of people all over the country. Local officials no longer have any authority and have been forcibly evacuated, even despite the fact that they wished to stay and oversee the recovery efforts.

Mayor Nagin has also said that the National Guard's Blackhawk helicopter carrying the sandbags to plug the hole in the levee on 17th St. Canal was intentionally diverted away. Nagin was quoted as demanding to federal officials "Get Off Your Asses And Do Something". Nagin is clearly paranoid about the whole situation, is running around playing the part of the good cop to FEMA's bad cop. This sets the table for FEMA to sweep in and heroically save the day at a later date. Nagin has also warned "If the CIA slips me something and next week you don't see me, you'll all know what happened."

Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good

Martial law was declared in New Orleans midday Tuesday 30th August. Posse Comitatus has been overturned and the National Guard has authorization to shoot and kill anyone they deem to be "hoodlums". Governor Kathleen Blanco has declared that "These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well trained, experienced, battle tested and under my orders to restore order in the streets,".

This is a microcosm of the New America. The LA Times reported that "their mission simply, is to turn New Orleans into a police State - to "regain the city" as 1st Sgt. John Jewell has said. Police have been ordered to stop saving lives and start saving property by shooting anyone who attempt to get food and water. The police are looting themselves to stay alive whilst the ordinary people are starving. This is the new police state America.

Some of the most sophisticated military equipment used in the Iraq war to quell the insurgency is now being used in New Orleans. We have continually highlighted how such equipment was developed specifically for domestic use and now this has come to pass. Five Silver Fox "unmanned aerial vehicles," or UAVs, equipped with thermal imaging technology to detect the body heat of storm survivors, have been deployed in New Orleans.

Also being deployed are acoustic devices for crowd control and disaster communications, sonic Laser equipment that is currently in use in Iraq. The device uses magnets approximately 6 inches tall and 9.25 inches wide to convert electrical pulses into sound waves, and is capable of aiming sound precisely for thousands of feet. This allows for the ability to blast out orders that can be heard for miles and allows for crowds to be fired upon and dispersed by soundwaves.

Those who fall in line with the curfews and the orders are still treated like criminals in this New America. Footage has shown that men women and even children are being separated and thoroughly frisked and searched before being rescued. It seems that survival comes second to being a civilian subject.

The ground troops have begun "combat operations" "to take this city back" in the aftermath from those they have termed "insurgents". These are terms also being used in Iraq, but now they fit perfectly here to describe anyone who disobeys or does not fall in line in the New America. The troops have declared their shock at having to shoot at US citizens and being shot back at, yet the majority of these people are deliberately being deprived of food and water by the federal authorities, they are desperate and have been forced into this situation.

Those who were grabbed in the immediate aftermath were shipped into the Superdome and simply left there without any aid. This represents nothing more than a concentration camp as starving and thirsty refugees were not allowed to leave, trapped until the authorities deemed it appropriate to move them.

The media covering the event have been appalled by this activity and the reality of the New America it seems is sinking in in some instances. Fox reporter Geraldo Rivera was filled with tears in his eyes and his voice fluttered with sorrow as he made an on-air plea to authorities to allow the estimated 30,000 storm victims at the center to be allowed to move to a safer, cleaner area. "Let them walk out of here, let them walk the hell out of here!"

Checkpoints have been set up throughout the area to make sure no one leaves and no one gets in without the say so of the federal authorities. It is clear that an emergency response should not be conducted this way. It is also clear that this is no ordinary emergency response. This is a blueprint, a litmus test for the New America, the police state, the New World Order.

When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move

Whilst the disaster evolves it has already been decided who will restore order and who will reap the profits of the lucrative cleanup contracts. Dick Cheney affiliated Halliburton have again been rewarded that task as they have so many times. After 9/11, in Afghanistan and in Iraq Halliburton and the elite government infiltrators reap the rewards again and again. Last week Alex Jones joked on his how that Halliburton may get the contract to clean up - the sad reality is that even the things we joke about are now coming to pass every time.

The agenda is clear, they allow the disaster to happen, or they manufacture the disaster in the case of 9/11, and then they reap the financial rewards first and the control mechanism rewards that categorize their New America a little later.

It has also emerged that FEMA Outsourced the disaster plans to political cronies and major donors. They outsourced the hurricane recovery planning to the Baton Rouge-based consulting firm Innovative Emergency Management (IEM), Inc. IEM's team partners for the more than $500,000 contract are Dewberry of Arlington, VA, URS Corporation of San Francisco, and James Lee Witt Associates. Witt was FEMA Director under Bill Clinton. IEM's president is Madhu Beriwal. The company was founded in 1985. Dewberry and URS are engineering firms. IEM is also a Defense Department contractor and has contracts with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) along with team members Booz Allen Hamilton and Lockheed Martin.

These people all have their hands in the honey pot, they benefit from such tragic events, wars and disasters every time

Going down... going down now... going down...

We have seen recently the precedent being set for the eventuality we now see unfolding. The constant ratcheting up of fear based control through the exploitation of terror attacks and terror alerts. The technology that we have monitored through its development stages is now being put into place.

Everything we have covered over the last few years is becoming an actuality in New Orleans at this time. We can only report it further and get the important information out in place of controlled mainstream media that refuse to or are prevented from reporting the real issues.

This is a major event in the agenda for a New America and a New World Order and it may be a make or break one.

This New America is being controlled by corrupt elite criminals who seek to achieve the degradation and enslavement of humanity through war, "revolution," sickness, starvation, depression, and now "natural" disaster. A disaster has been turned into a drill for martial law. This is not an accident. It is part of a relentless process of demoralization designed to make the people accept tyranny and excessive control over their lives.

Comment: Assuming that the "war on terror" is really about having control over the US population, and that climate and Earth changes will continue to accelerate, Katrina was certainly the ideal opportunity for a "trial run"...

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'Weather nerd' in Indiana warned New Orleans mayor
By Andrew Adam Newman
The New York Times
Published: September 4, 2005, 8:35 PM PDT

One of the earliest and perhaps clearest alarms about Hurricane Katrina's potential threat to New Orleans was sounded not by the Weather Channel or a government agency but by a self-described weather nerd sitting on a couch in Indiana with a laptop computer and a remote control.

"At the risk of being alarmist, we could be 3-4 days away from an unprecedented cataclysm that could kill as many as 100,000 people in New Orleans," Brendan Loy, who is 23 and has no formal meteorological training, wrote on Aug. 26 in his blog. "If I were in New Orleans, I would seriously consider getting the hell out of Dodge right now, just in case."

Loy's posting that Friday afternoon came three days before the hurricane struck and two days before the mayor of New Orleans, Ray C. Nagin, issued an evacuation order. Posts over the next several days, in aggregate, seem now like an eerie rewriting of the tale of Chicken Little, in which the sky does in fact fall.

In the cooperative and competitive world of blogs, Loy's has gotten some serious praise. Mickey Kaus, whose kausfiles blog is featured on Slate.com, wrote on Friday that "Loy's blog for the past week is a pretty extraordinary document," adding that "it should maybe be in the Smithsonian, if you can put a blog in the Smithsonian."

Glenn Reynolds, who blogs at Instapundit.com, linked to Loy's Web site several times beginning on Aug. 26. That's the Internet equivalent of a northeaster, and all over, blogs started linking to Loy's. (Jeff Masters and Charles Fenwick, among others, also gave early and dire warnings about New Orleans on their highly trafficked weather blogs.)

According to Blog Pulse from Intelliseek, which measures blog links, Loy's was the most frequently cited nonnews source among hurricane-related blogs. On Aug. 28, it was ranked 14th among most frequently linked-to sites of all sorts.

That was more weight than Loy, who weighs 160 and is 6 foot 2, is accustomed to throwing around. A second-year law student at Notre Dame, he began blogging in 2002--writing about football (his blog's name combines Notre Dame's football team, the Fighting Irish, with that of his college team, the Trojans of the University of Southern California), his cats, his dog, his fiancee Becky, the Red Sox, politics, "The Lord of the Rings" and weather.

"Hurricane Hugo was the first storm that I paid attention to, when I was 7 or 8," he said in a telephone interview from South Bend, Ind. "I found them fascinating and became kind of a weather nerd, watching the Weather Channel religiously." Loy joined online discussions with other hurricane watchers, and monitored the National Hurricane Center's Web site, whose satellite pictures he regularly posts and analyzes on his blog.

He called for Mayor Nagin to issue an evacuation order days before the mayor issued one, and his posts on the subject grew increasingly agitated. "It's definitely true that I am more willing to pull the trigger," he acknowledged, "because I don't have to deal with the consequences if they had had an evacuation and the storm hadn't hit. It's easy for me to sit here and say, 'Everyone leave.'"

He derives little pleasure from being proved right. "The results are so dire, and I knew they would be so dire, that I was fervently praying that I'd be wrong. There's always some vindication that comes from being right, but I would much rather have been wrong and be getting 1,000 hits a day now instead of 25,000."

Classes started last week, and Loy has put an end to all-night blogging. Recent entries have been as likely to be about his cats or football as Katrina. He will keep chasing hurricane information, but he says that if a hurricane approached him, he would heed his own advice.

"As much as I'm enthralled by high waves and strong winds," he said, "I understand the powers of these things. I might leave the computer running and have a Webcam hooked up and hope the power didn't go out so I could see what was happening from a remote location, but I wouldn't stick around."

Comment: If a 23-year-old law student with no formal meteorological training could predict the outcome of the storm, surely federal officials knew exactly what they were doing when they failed to commence rescue operations - especially since Bush issued early disaster declarations for Mississippi and Louisiana. The idea that state and local governments needed to request help from the federal government is completely absurd. The Bush administration has rarely - if ever - paid any attention to what state and local governments or the people themselves actually want. They are too busy attempting to "create reality" to actually notice reality itself. Furthermore, New Orleans mayor Nagin and Louisiana governor Blanco made numerous public requests for help in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, yet the Bush administration did nothing for four days despite early preparations. When a couple of hundred thousand people are ill, starving, and dying in a devastated city, does a ridiculously powerful president like Bush really need to wait for an official signed document requesting aid before he lifts a finger? And if he does, what does that say about his concern for the average citizen since he has previously never required anyone's approval to do anything?? Bush's refusal to act makes him look even more like a dictator and a psychopath since his inaction demonstrates a blatant disregard for the lives of the people of the US. We doubt anyone would be complaining if the US president had ordered the rescue operations to start immediately after the storm ended. In that case, the worst thing anyone could say would be that he was using the storm relief efforts to regain some "political capital". The fact that he missed such a golden opportunity would seem to indicate that there are bigger plans afoot with which the Powers that Be are more concerned.

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If You have Nothing, You are Nothing

80,000 Rodney Kings in New Orleans
September 5, 2005

Racism in America doesn't dress up in a cowl and flowing white robes anymore. Instead, it dons an immaculate blue suit and tie and conceals itself behind the lofty language of democracy, freedom and human dignity; but, it's racism all the same.

We've seen an explosion of racism in America since George Bush took office. It started out after 9-11 and was aimed exclusively at Muslims; a vulnerable group with a paltry voice in government. The administration took full advantage of their political weakness by tossing whomever they chose in prison without due process and without concern for their personal health or safety. Many, of course, were brutalized and traumatized by a system that still boldly touted human rights from the presidential podium.

It was all lies.

The cruelty and inhumanity has steadily escalated over the last five years; the predictable outcome whenever sadism and arrogance replace the rule of law. The chronicle of abusive treatment at American facilities across the globe is vast and extensive, and stories abound of the imaginative and finely-detailed methods of maximizing human suffering. Although they may have failed at everything else, the Bush administration has proved to be an astute practitioner of torture.

The primary target of these crimes has been Muslims. There are no Christian or Jewish inmates at either Guantanamo nor Abu Ghraib. In fact, there are especially lenient laws for Israeli spies who steal top-secret information from the Pentagon and pass it on through their respective lobbies. Both of the indicted leaders of AIPAC, the American-Israeli lobby, have been released on bond while Muslims, who have been charged with no crime at all, continue to languish in Guantanamo Bay. This is the current state of America's apartheid judicial system.

New Orleans adds a new chapter to the Bush digest of calculated bigotry. While the wealthy white families were able to beat a hasty retreat out of doomed city, the poor and black were left to sink in the toxic stew unleashed by America's greatest natural disaster.

No one who saw the televised footage of the Convention center and the Superdome had any misgivings about what they were seeing. America's long-lost companion, racial-hatred, had stuck its ugly head up into the camera lens and was pouring out onto living rooms across the land.

Bush critic Michael Moore may have summarized the feelings of the nation best when he noted, "C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport"..."Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh!"

Moore's right; the brunt of the catastrophe was directed at society's cast-offs; the poor and black who couldn't simply load up the $40,000 SUV and take off. They were left to face the rising waters and the government neglect without any prospect of real assistance. When you can't buy your way out, you're left to rot; that's how the "invisible hand" of the free market operates. The message is clear; if you have nothing, you are nothing.

Americans have been patting themselves on the back for years about the great strides that have been made in civil rights and social justice. It's all rubbish. Just take a look at the faces of the people who were left to drown in the noxious soup of a force-4 hurricane. We all know who these people are; they are the "other America"; the America that is scrupulously kept out of the media so that the narrative of prosperity, equality and justice can flood the airwaves like the effluent coursing down Bourbon Street. Nothing has been accomplished in civil rights. Even the band-aid programs like bussing, welfare and affirmative action have been dismantled by people who believe that we all begin life on a level playing field.

What nonsense.

There's no level playing field anymore than there is "compassionate conservatism"; Bush proved that by withholding food and water from starving people for 3 days.

What we all saw last week on national TV was the moral equivalent of the Rodney King beating multiplied times 30,000; that's the number of people locked away in the feces-infected Superdome. It gave us a good look into America's dark-heart, where the evil secret we keep tucked-away in a vault can always be denied; racism.

Abandoning those people during a national tragedy was the most blatant, despicable act of racism I've seen in my 53 years of life. The beating of Rodney King pales by comparison.

Presently, the African Americans who were stranded in New Orleans are being trundled off to the four corners of the Western states where they'll be disposed of quietly in filthy encampments or religious facilities. Their rage and frustration sent shivers of distress through the body politic and put a hefty dent in our collective sense of self-esteem. Once again, Bush and his vindictive troupe have proved that it is always possible to sink ever-lower in the bottomless well of moral corruption.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

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Blessed are the Rich...

Beatitudes for this New American Century
September 5, 2005

Blessed are the theoreticians of "Shock and Awe" and the architects of the war who were ready to cleanse the Middle East of evil-doers-for they will call each other the sons of God.

Blessed are the cheerful, congenial, and judiciously flattering journalists at the height of their careers-for they shall be called upon repeatedly at the informative White House press conferences.

Blessed are the Halliburtons, Boeings and ESSI-for they shall inherit what is due them as the conscientious war-profiteers they enthusiastically are.

Blessed are the ingenious corporate leaders who oversee the global exporting of our values and culture-for theirs is the Kingdom of Profit, Power, and Prestige.

Blessed are the Administration officials who play hardball, break the law, but still somehow achieve their strategic objectives-for they shall obtain mercy, pardon, and invitations to offer commentary on CNN.

Blessed are those elite Americans who hunger and thirst for luxury and the ever-increasing freedom to do whatever the hell they want-for they shall be filled even more than they can possibly imagine.

Blessed are the members of the patriotic Congress and Senate-for, even though their children will never know the glory of dying for their country on the battlefields of the Sunni Triangle, those same sons and daughters will still know the grandeur of graduating from Harvard, Yale, or Stanford.

Blessed are the pure in ideology-for they shall see our enemies (Arab-looking, Muslim, conniving and plotting) on every street corner and do whatever they can to destroy them.

Blessed are the visionaries of the oil companies-for they shall be supremely comforted by the annual profit report.

Blessed are those media pundits, perspicuous intellectuals, and ecclesiastical moderates who sing the praises of the nation's leaders-for they shall be invited to all the best Washington parties.

Blessed are the astute proponents of the emerging just-torture theory-for they are defending the uniquely divine rights of America.

Blessed are the rich, who experience rapture with each glance at their portfolios-for this new American century is all for their happiness.

And so blessed are you, Mr. President, and Mr. Vice-President, and Mr. Secretary, and Mr. And Ms. Everybody Else Who is Along for this Noble Ride of Plunder, blessed are you when your soldiers' mothers say all manner of truth about you, and when more and more of the citizens gather to oppose you, Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward tonight on FOX News.

Mark Chmiel is author, most recently, of The Book of Mev. He works with the Center for Theology and Social Analysis (www.ctsastl.org) in Saint Louis, Missouri. He can be reached at: MarkJChmiel@aol.com

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God Lashes Out at Bush

Almighty Tells US President "You Blew It"
September 5, 2005

George, you call yourself a Christian. You claim that you invaded Iraq because I told you to. You say that you were anointed to lead America.

George, don't you remember that My greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself? I sent Hurricane Katrina to test you, so that you could show Me and the world that you truly are compassionate, as you claim, that you truly are a capable leader, as you claim, that you truly listen to Me and carry out My will.

Instead, you showed the world your callous indifference, and your inability or unwillingness to assume leadership in a time of crisis. Your failure has cost thousands of lives, people who could have been rescued and sustained. Your failure has further besmirched the reputation of your government, which has shown itself to be an unfeeling and incompetent bunch, caring only about enriching themselves and gathering power.

Do you not recall My words:

Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

But your response to My test, hurricane Katrina, was to ignore the victims and instead do some political fundraising, and then send in the Marines when law and order broke down.

You failed the test, George.

You blew it.

Carol Wolman, MD is a psychiatrist and antiwar activist. She can be reached at: cwolman@mcn.org

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Has Katrina saved US media?
By Matt Wells
BBC News, Los Angeles
Monday, 5 September 2005, 16:48 GMT

As President Bush scurries back to the Gulf Coast, it is clear that this is the greatest challenge to politics-as-usual in America since the fall of Richard Nixon in the 1970s.

Then as now, good reporting lies at the heart of what is changing.

But unlike Watergate, "Katrinagate" was public service journalism ruthlessly exposing the truth on a live and continuous basis.

Instead of secretive "Deep Throat" meetings in car-parks, cameras captured the immediate reality of what was happening at the New Orleans Convention Center, making a mockery of the stalling and excuses being put forward by those in power.

Amidst the horror, American broadcast journalism just might have grown its spine back, thanks to Katrina.

National politics reporters and anchors here come largely from the same race and class as the people they are supposed to be holding to account.

They live in the same suburbs, go to the same parties, and they are in debt to the same huge business interests.

Giant corporations own the networks, and Washington politicians rely on them and their executives to fund their re-election campaigns across the 50 states.

It is a perfect recipe for a timid and self-censoring journalistic culture that is no match for the masterfully aggressive spin-surgeons of the Bush administration.

'Lies or ignorance'

But last week the complacency stopped, and the moral indignation against inadequate government began to flow, from slick anchors who spend most of their time glued to desks in New York and Washington.

The most spectacular example came last Friday night on Fox News, the cable network that has become the darling of the Republican heartland.

This highly successful Murdoch-owned station sets itself up in opposition to the "mainstream liberal media elite".

But with the sick and the dying forced to sit in their own excrement behind him in New Orleans, its early-evening anchor Shepard Smith declared civil war against the studio-driven notion that the biggest problem was still stopping the looters.

Comment: Speaking of looters, check out this video that shows New Orleans police officers "looting" a Wal-Mart alongside other residents.

On other networks like NBC, CNN and ABC it was the authority figures, who are so used to an easy ride at press conferences, that felt the full force of reporters finally determined to ditch the deference.

As the heads of the Homeland Security department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) appeared for network interviews, their defensive remarks about where aid was arriving to, and when, were exposed immediately as either downright lies or breath-taking ignorance.

And you did not need a degree in journalism to know it either. Just watching TV for the previous few hours would have sufficed.

Iraq concern

When the back-slapping president told the Fema boss on Friday morning that he was doing "a heck of a job" and spent most of his first live news conference in the stricken area praising all the politicians and chiefs who had failed so clearly, it beggared belief.

The president looked affronted when a reporter covering his Mississippi walkabout had the temerity to suggest that having a third of the National Guard from the affected states on duty in Iraq might be a factor.

It is something I suspect he is going to have to get used to from now on: the list of follow-up questions is too long to ignore or bury.

And it is not only on TV and radio where the gloves have come off.

The most artful supporter of the administration on the staff of the New York Times, columnist David Brooks, has also had enough.

He and others are calling the debacle the "anti 9-11": "The first rule of the social fabric - that in times of crisis you protect the vulnerable - was trampled," he wrote on Sunday.

"Leaving the poor in New Orleans was the moral equivalent of leaving the injured on the battlefield."

Media emboldened

It is way too early to tell whether this really will become "Katrinagate" for President Bush, but how he and his huge retinue of politically-appointed bureaucrats react in the weeks ahead will be decisive.

Government has been thrown into disrepute, and many Americans have realised, for the first time, that the collapsed, rotten flood defences of New Orleans are a symbol of failed infrastructure across the nation.

Blaming the state and city officials, as the president is already trying to do over Katrina, will not wash.

Beyond the immediate challenge of re-housing the evacuees and getting 200,000-plus children into new schools, there will have to be a Katrina Commission, that a newly-emboldened media will scrutinise obsessively.

The dithering and incompetence that will be exposed will not spare the commander-in-chief, or the sunny, faith-based propaganda that he was still spouting as he left New Orleans airport last Friday, saying it was all going to turn out fine.

People were still trapped, hungry and dying on his watch, less than a mile away.

Black America will not forget the government failures, nor will the Gulf Coast region.

Tens of thousands of voters whose lives have been so devastated will cast their mid-term ballots in Texas next year - the president's adopted home state.

The final word belongs to the historic newspaper at the centre of the hurricane - The New Orleans Times-Picayune. At the weekend, this now-homeless institution published an open letter: "We're angry, Mr President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry.

"Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been, were not. That's to the government's shame."

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U.S. Appears to Have Avoided Massive Oil Supply Problems
New York Times
September 5, 2005

As Americans began heading home from the Labor Day weekend, gasoline stations today continued to report spot shortages, but the country appeared, at least as of this afternoon, to have avoided the massive supply problems that some had feared.

Throughout the weekend, station attendants and analysts said they saw unrelenting demand from drivers who were worried they would find themselves stranded, were panicked by rumors about service stations closing early, or both.

Officials said they continued to make progress in resuming the production and distribution of gasoline and other fuels, which was severely disrupted by Hurricane Katrina last week. But they noted that most refineries and oil production in and along the Gulf of Mexico remained shut down for the seventh day in a row.

Gasoline demand was heaviest along busy thoroughfares between big population centers and vacation destinations, often knocking out several gasoline stations along heavy traffic routes for hours to days at a time.

"It could three or five stations on one stretch running out, that's a fairly real situation that is happening," said Justin McNaull, a spokesman for AAA, formerly known as the American Automobile Association.

Mr. McNaull added that his group had not received any reports of motorists stranded in tourist destinations unable to return home because they could not refuel. "The challenge that gas station operators are having now is not knowing when the next shipment is coming and how much they will be getting," he said. [...]

Nationally, the average retail price for gasoline was $3.057 a gallon this morning, up from $2.867 on Sunday and $2.307 a month ago, according to AAA.

In the New York region, prices seemed to range from $2.95 a gallon to $3.75 a gallon, according to a spot survey done by the staffs of Senators Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and John Corzine, Democrat of New Jersey. Both politicians called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate gasoline price increases and suggested it might help to lift the federal gasoline tax at least temporarily.

Gasoline supplies will likely remain tight through much of the coming week if not longer, industry officials and analysts said, as refiners slowly resume operations in the gulf region. It can take several days to restart those facilities, because of the danger of explosions and other accidents.

Of the 10 refineries that were shut down by the storm initially, eight have not resumed operations, two are restarting and hope to be operational in the coming days, and three still do not have electricity, the Energy Department said on Sunday.

At least four refiners that produce about 5 percent of the nation's gasoline and other oil-based fuels have sustained significant damage and could be out of commission for a month or more for repairs, officials and analysts said. Among them are ConocoPhillips' Belle Chase, La. facility; Exxon Mobil's Chalmette, La. plant; and ChevronTexaco's large refinery in Pascagoula, Miss. [...]

Comment: In other words, while there don't seem to be any gas shortages, pump prices will probably remain high for at least several weeks.

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An Embarrassment of Riches
By Jonathan Tasini
September 6, 2005

The estate tax affects only the richest 2 percent of Americans. But Congress wants to repeal it to make sure its "base" doesn't pay another penny.

We have a new caucus on Capitol Hill: the chazer caucus. For those of you who might not be hip, chazer is the Yiddish word for pig. As in, "Gee, that person has so much [fill in the blank], to grab for more is just being a chazer."

Which brings me to a lead footsoldier in the chazer caucus, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl. Right after Labor Day, Kyl will attempt to bring to a vote a bill that would repeal the estate tax. When some really rich person croaks, their assets get transferred to their heirs, who, God forbid, have to pay taxes when the estate gets to a certain level.

The chazer caucus has been brilliant in framing the estate tax as a "death tax" hurting poor family farmers. But that turns out to be nonsense. As the good folks from OMB Watch point out, "An incredibly tiny number of family farms are actually impacted by the estate tax." A new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that "if the current exemption level of $1.5 million per individual ($3 million for a couple) were in effect in 2000, then only 300 family farms would have had to pay any estate taxes. The report further estimates the number of family farms impacted would have dropped to a mere 65 farms nationwide with an exemption of $3.5 million ($7 million per couple), the level the exemption will be in 2009."

This tax hits only the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. The Coalition for America's Priorities underscores the fact that this tax hits a tiny portion of the population: "In 2001, over half of all estate taxes were paid by 3,502 people with estates larger than $5 million -- representing the top 0.14 percent of all Americans."

The estate tax stayed largely unchanged until 2001, when the current president took office. What's truly amazing is that the estate tax is supposed to disappear by 2010, and then be reinstated in 2011 -- as one of the gimmicks that was part of the Bush tax cuts.

And what's the cost of giving the richest Americans more cash? In the first 10 years, the U.S. Treasury will lose between $750 billion and one trillion dollars, forcing more cuts in education, Medicare and other key social programs -- not to mention piling on more debt for future generations. This is an unconscionable raid on the public treasury by people already benefiting from the Bush tax cuts.

It shows what a pickle we are in that the forces of light who are fighting complete repeal are suggesting one possible compromise. Instead of completely eliminating the estate tax, the compromise deal would raise the exempted estate tax to $3.5 million and $7 million for couples. But why compromise? Why shouldn't people sitting on several millions dollars be forced to pay the current tax on estates? One thing that we forget in the debate over taxes is that the wealth of the richest in our society is not a natural phenomena or due to pure skill -- society makes multi-billion dollar public investments in areas such as infrastructure and education that make it possible for the rich to pile up their wealth. Think of taxing estates as simply a modest payback for public services rendered -- the reason most people pay taxes on their paychecks.

The Republicans will probably hold all 55 of their chazer caucus supporters in line by simply demanding party loyalty, though there are some attempts being made to lean on John McCain, George Voinovich (Ohio), Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island), Susan Collins (Maine), and Olympia Snowe (Maine) to buck Majority leader Bill Frist by arguing the fiscal insanity of letting millionaires get away with more money from the U.S. Treasury at a time of record deficits.

It's pretty certain that the Republicans also have three Democrats: Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas) and the Nelson boys. Bill Nelson (Florida) signed on as a co-sponsor of Sen. Jon Kyl's repeal bill; Lincoln has long been for full repeal and her pet policy is unlimited exemptions for farms and business, which is awful tax policy. Ben Nelson (Nebraska) gives as his excuse that he has a tough re-election next year -- but he's been off the reservation for a long time. So Frist already has 58 votes to end debate and crush a filibuster -- just two votes shy.

The other Democrats who apparently are most ripe to topple are: California's Dianne Feinstein, who is personally rich, so I guess this is her looking after her heirs; Mark Pryor, who sees this as a way to suck up to his home-state Arkansas Wal-Mart heirs; Evan Bayh, who has to court financial contributors for his presidential run; and Mary Landrieu, who won a close re-election in Louisiana thanks to the low-income black voters who will take the biggest hit from the repeal. By the way, Landrieu, Bayh and Pryor all voted for the bankruptcy bill earlier this year -- yet another bill that hurt average working families but helps the well-connected and powerful (in this case, the credit card industry).

What's striking to me is the complete inability of the Democratic side (read: Harry Reid) to demand party loyalty on this crucial issue and call for a solid vote against the repeal and for sustaining the filibuster. And if morality isn't enough of an argument, those considering joining the chazer caucus can seek solace in the public polls showing a majority of people against full repeal.

If Kyl can't get his full repeal past a filibuster, he's going to try another maneuver: a "compromise" bill, which would make permanent the exemption at $5 or $10 million but also drop the tax rate for the estates that have to pay to an effective rate of 6 percent -- similar to a sales tax. This is a back-door repeal because it would cost up to 93 percent of the full repeal proposal.

U.S. Action did an amazing chart, which shows us this: If the repeal passed, the $45 billion going back to the richest people in the country could provide health insurance for more than 22 million children. So there's the choice: more money for rich people or health coverage for children. To all the masses of people of faith, including those sanctimonious chazer caucus senators like Rick Santorum and Bill First, I ask: Wonder what Jesus would say on that?

Jonathan Tasini is president of the Economic Future Group. His blog Working Life chronicles the labor movement and other issues affecting American workers.

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Terrorism ruled out as Indonesian crash deaths rise to 150
September 6, 2005

MEDAN, Indonesia - Investigators are hunting for clues in the wreckage of the crashed jetliner in northern Indonesia as the airline ruled out terrorism in the disaster which killed at least 150 people.

The Mandala Airlines Boeing 737-200 plunged into a suburb of Medan Monday seconds after taking off from the city's airport. A total of 103 of the 117 people on board died and 47 people on the ground also perished.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono flew into Medan to attend the burial of North Sumatra Province governor Rizal Nurdin, who was killed in the crash, Indonesia's worst for eight years.

Provincial spokesman Edi Sofyan said the president would visit the crash site, where investigators from the National Transportation Safety Committee were sifting through the charred carcass of the plane and collecting debris.

Setio Raharjo, a member of the eight-man team, told AFP the black boxes -- the flight recorder and cockpit voice recorder, which contains the last communication between the pilot and control tower -- had been recovered.

He said the engines would be taken to Jakarta to determine if the crash was caused by engine failure, while the plane's recorders would be sent to the United States, Taiwan or Australia for analysis.

Investigators have yet to offer any information about the possible cause of the crash, while Rahajaro said the investigation should take seven to 10 days.

Indonesia has a history of Islamic extremist terrorism, including the 2002 bombings on the resort island of Bali, but Mandala Airlines spokesman Det Elfisra said foul play was unlikely.

"There are no signs of terrorism," Elfisra said.

Newspapers expressed concern about airline safety in Indonesia, saying a price war between low-cost operators was cause for concern at a time when the cost of fuel and spare parts was rising.

"If this absurdity is maintained, surely sacrifices have to be made. In Indonesia, it has become a common matter that passengers, including safety, are being sacrificed," Media Indonesia said. [...]

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U.S. Submarine Collides With Cargo Ship in Gulf
The Associated Press
Published: Sep 5, 2005

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - A U.S. Navy submarine collided early Monday with a Turkish merchant ship in the Gulf, the U.S. Navy reported. No one was hurt on either vessel.

The USS Philadelphia was traveling on the surface of the Gulf when it hit the Turkish-flagged M/V Yaso Aysen, a cargo ship, at around 2:00 a.m. local time, the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain reported in a statement.

No sailors or merchant seamen were injured, the Navy said.

The Philadelphia was conducting surface operations on its way to Bahrain for a scheduled port visit, the Navy said.

The submarine continued to Bahrain where inspectors will check it for damage. There were no immediate reports of damage to the Turkish ship.

The Navy statement did not say exactly where the collision took place.

The Philadelphia is part of a fleet of U.S. and allied navy vessels patrolling the Gulf, conducting what are called "maritime security operations" against weapons and drug smuggling.

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Theater fire kills 29 in Egypt
September 6, 2005

BENI SUEF, Egypt - A candle fell over and set fire to a crowded theater in the Egyptian town of Beni Suef on Monday night, killing at least 29 people and injuring 38, officials and survivors said on Tuesday.

The candle, a prop in the play Hamlet at an experimental theater festival in the town, set fire to carpeting and spread rapidly to the rest of the building, they said. Beni Suef is in the Nile valley, 100 km (60 miles) south of Cairo.

Adel Hassan, the producer, said about 100 people were watching the Shakespeare play in a small auditorium with only one exit.

"All the people rushed to the exit and struggled to get out. But the fire spread very rapidly and many of them just couldn't get out in time," he told reporters.

Hassan was speaking in Beni Suef Hospital, where he was receiving treatment for burns to his face and arms.

Sixteen of the injured have serious burns of at least 60 percent, hospital officials said. Fifteen of the dead have yet to be identified.

The one-storey theater, attached to the town's state-run cultural center, was burned to the ground within an hour of the outbreak of the fire at about 10.30 p.m. (1930 GMT).

Mohamed Safwat, head of the local public prosecution office, told reporters he had ordered an immediate investigation.

The state news agency MENA said 70 people had escaped unhurt from inside the building. Earlier reports said the candle had first set fire to curtains and the wooden stage.

Magdy Wissa, one of the actors, said the theatrical troupe from Port Said in northeastern Egypt was taking part in a Festival of Theater Clubs that opened on Saturday.

The candles were props brought on toward the end of the second act, added Wissa, who was also injured.

Health Minister Mohamed Awad Tag Eddin arrived in the town early on Tuesday to visit the injured, who included 14 members of the troupe.

Fire regulations in public buildings, and other safety regulations, are laxly enforced in Egypt.

A fire on a crowded train killed at least 350 people near Cairo in 2002.

Earlier on Monday, a bus drove into an irrigation canal near Minya, a town south of Beni Suef. Officials said seven people were killed and 20 were missing and believed drowned.

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U.S. Influence 'Too Much'
Dahr Jamail
Inter Press Service
September 05, 2005

London - U.S. influence in the process of drafting a constitution for Iraq is excessive and "highly inappropriate", a United Nations official says.

"It is a matter of public record that in the final weeks of the process the newly arrived U.S. ambassador (Zalmay Khalizad) took an extremely hands-on role," Justin Alexander, legal affairs officer for the office of constitutional support with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) told IPS. "Even going so far as to circulate at least one U.S draft."

Alexander, who oversaw the recent proceedings in Baghdad added: "This involvement was highly inappropriate for a country with 140,000 soldiers in country."

Zaid al-Ali, a legal expert who also oversaw the drafting process in Baghdad, made a similar case at a meeting at the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies in London.

"There are three ways in which the occupation intervened in the context of Iraq's constitution-writing process," he said. "Firstly, the occupation authorities selected and affected the makeup of the commission that was charged with drafting Iraq's transitional law, and its permanent constitution. Second, the occupation determined the limits and parameters within which the constitution was to be drafted. Third, the occupation authorities intervened directly in order to safeguard its interests in the context of the constitutional negotiations."

Al-Ali said it was significant that one article in the draft constitution on foreign military bases was dropped from the final version. "One article contained in a previous draft provided that setting up foreign military bases in Iraq was to be forbidden, and that the only way in which this could be deviated from would have been by a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament."

Al-Ali said "this article was dropped from the final draft of the constitution."

An alliance including the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars and the large movement of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said it rejected the draft and a "political process which had been led by occupiers and their collaborators."

The group said in a media statement: "We consider this draft as a next step of this process which does not represent the peoples' will." The alliance also expressed "major suspicions about the honesty of the next referendum, which will take place under occupation and with neither international nor Arabic and Islamic supervision."

Dr. Marinos Diamantides, senior lecturer in law at the University of London, said the entire drafting process could be illegal under international law.

"One could argue the entire process is against the law," Diamantides told IPS. "According to the 1907 Convention (the convention for the pacific settlement of disputes), the occupying power has a duty to maintain the legal system of the country it occupies. This is the first time ever that an occupying power has dismantled the internal law system of the country it occupies."

He also pointed out that ironically the Sunnis now have power to derail the upcoming referendum vote by a two-thirds vote in three provinces. That power was originally intended to give Kurds power to veto the constitution.

When Iraq's Kurdish and Shia dominated parliament recently approved the draft, Sunnis immediately began campaigning for a 'no' vote in the upcoming October referendum. If the draft were to pass the referendum, it would be followed two months later by election for a government.

At least four provinces are predominantly Sunni, and Sunni clerics have urged their followers to reject the draft if it does not meet Sunni demands.

Adding further complexity to the already muddled situation, former UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq during the sanctions Denis Halliday believes that even the United Nations has no place in occupied Iraq.

"The UN doesn't have a position in Iraq today," Halliday told IPS. "Once the invasion took place, the UN became collaborators with the enemy (the United States)."

Halliday, who had resigned from his UN post in protest against "genocidal sanctions" added: "This lesson should have been learned in August, 2003 when our office in Baghdad was blown up, as we were collaborators. The UN has simply become a tool of the U.S., and Iraqis can no longer distinguish between the U.S. and the UN."

Justin Alexander said Iraq might need a new constitution. "If Iraq creates a progressive and effective constitution and laws to implement the constitution, then this could benefit Iraqis. But in the absence of mutual reconciliation and an end to the occupation this is all futile."

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Evidence from Israeli soldiers forces inquiries into deaths of Palestinians
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
The Independent
06 September 2005

The Israeli Defence Forces have opened 17 investigations into lethal shootings of Palestinians after former soldiers made a series of testimonies about incidents in which they say the deaths should have been prevented.

The investigations were opened after the "Breaking the Silence" organisation collected hundreds of testimonies from ex-soldiers. They wanted to talk for the first time about incidents from their military service during the second intifada that had disturbed or angered them.

In one testimony, a former staff sergeant in an elite unit claims a brigade commander told his men that "every kid you see with a stone, you may shoot him" on the grounds that a stone is a "murder weapon" and the commander had seen a woman being hit by a stone.

In a second case, a former first sergeant in another elite unit of the famous Golani Brigade told The Independent how a 16-year-old boy was shot dead in Nablus. He was picking up a stone to throw at troops less than three months after men in the unit had complained to officers that they lacked the non-lethal weapons or the clear rules of engagement needed to handle stone-throwing teenagers.

Some of the graphic descriptions have raised serious questions over whether the military's rules of engagement are drawn tightly enough to prevent avoidable civilian deaths.

One former naval captain has testified on video that, when he was in charge of a reconnaissance vessel off the coast of Gaza entrusted with bombarding militant and security-force targets in the Strip during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, he and other officers were briefed that he wanted at "least two terrorists every night". The former officer testified: " He said: 'I want two dead every night'."

Avichai Sharon, a spokesman for Breaking the Silence, served in an elite unit of the Golani and carried out arrests in the West Bank. He told how, on a mission in February, his squad was in an open-backed, partially armoured vehicle when a "pretty scary" incident of brick-throwing occurred. He said: "Two guys were sitting in the back ... [and] out of instinct started shooting. One was a machine-gunner, the other a regular sharpshooter. They took some shots. I have no idea whether someone was hurt out there ... We just continued driving. We didn't know if we hit someone or we didn't hit someone."

Mr Sharon continued: "We got back from that mission, back to base. We had a debriefing. If I remember correctly, it was with our squad officer. And we told him a lot of the guys said the rules of engagement are not clear enough in this kind of situation. That we don't have any rubber bullets or tear gas or any alternatives other than our lethal weapons to use; and if we had tear gas we would have solved all the problems."

He said the men "never got a reply" but that, in an incident two or three months later, the squad was surrounding a house, also in Nablus, when teenagers began throwing stones at their vehicle and a nearby tank. They were initially ordered to shoot in the air and, after the "regular game ... of cat and mouse", to shoot in the legs. "One of the guys securing the alley was standing at the corner. He shot. He aimed at one of the kid's legs and, at exactly the same second, the kid bent down to pick up a stone. Instead of getting hit in the leg, he got hit in the chest, over there."

Mr Sharon said the unit then heard on the radio that the boy ­ between 14 and 16 ­ had been killed. "And then we just went back. We finished our operation and continued our daily routine. There was no questioning. Of course, no one thought there should be any change in the rules of engagement or that there should be any kind of change in the equipment we use."

While charges by Palestinians of indiscriminate killing of civilians during more than four years of conflict from October 2000 are commonplace, it is only recently that former soldiers, encouraged by Breaking the Silence, have testified in this way.

Mr Sharon, whose organisation is calling for an independent public-inspection committee into the army, claimed last night that " these testimonies expose the heart and soul of what is going on in Israel's forces". He added that the rules of engagement for each operation were not written down but passed down orally.

An IDF spokesman said last night that the military prosecutor-general laid down clear procedures for investigating incidents in which persons "not involved in terrorism" were killed or hurt, and that there was a clear system in which field leaders, up to brigade commander, investigated each incident.

Although critical of some aspects of Breaking the Silence, the army had opened investigations into 17 incidents cited in their testimonies. The spokes-man said that one of his "qualms" about the organisation had been that it had come forward with its claims long after the incidents took place. Six of the investigations had been shelved for lack of evidence. He added: "The IDF operates within our democratic legal system and shares one and the same framework." He said its procedures were similar to those of the civil police.

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China outlines its terror problem
September 6, 2005

BEIJING -- A top Chinese counter-terrorism official said Monday East Turkistan forces in the country's far west posed the largest current and future terrorist threat.

The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China's province in Central Asia, has had more than 260 incidents involving the three forces (terrorists, separatists and extremists) over the past decade, killing 160 people and wounding 440 others, according to Chinese government data.

Zhao Yongchen, deputy director of the Anti-Terrorism Bureau under the Ministry of Public Security, says terrorist activities not only jeopardize China, but pose a threat to regional security and stability.

The official was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying terrorist threats faced by China over the past 10 years with were mainly activities of East Turkistan terrorist forces operating inside and outside its territory. The forces, Zhao claims, have become part of the worldwide terrorist network.

Zhao stated many members of the East Turkistan movement receive military training in terrorist bases in Central and South Asia.

"They have close ties and even align with terrorist groups including the Taliban, the Uzbekistan Islamic Liberation Movement and al-Qaida," he said.

The three forces openly encourage extremists within China to conduct terrorist activities at kindergartens and government agencies, as well as attack Chinese armed forces with explosives and poison.

Comment: China then offered the following clarification:

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China says no double standard on terrorism
September 6, 2005

BEIJING -- A senior Chinese law enforcement official said there should be no double standards in the fight against terrorism, state-run media reported Tuesday.

Zhao Yongchen, the deputy director-general of the Anti-Terrorism Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, made the comment during a panel discussion at the 22nd Law of the World Congress under way in Beijing.

Saying China was against all forms of terrorism, Zhao said the international community must "adopt a shared position against terrorism and take legislative, administrative, judicial and other necessary measures to resolutely combat it."

China's position is that "no country, party or individual group should employ double standards based on political or other selfish intentions while dealing with terrorism."

Zhao said, "On the contrary, countries should join their efforts to harshly condemn brutal atrocities against human rights carried out by all terrorists and terrorist groups."

He said efforts need to be made to prevent the spread of terrorist and extremist ideologies that promote violence, racism, nationalism and religious hatred. China opposes the linking of anti-terrorism policies with specific religions and nationalities, he said.

"One can't resolve conflicts or contradictions between different civilizations through rigorous counter-terrorism measures including military operations," Zhao noted.

He believes anti-terrorism strategies should become a new beginning of dialogue and cooperation as well as a new driving force for mutual progress and prosperity in various civilizations.

Comment: China seems to be declaring that they will not go along with Bush's crazed "war on terror" that has seen the demonisation and persecution of Muslims as well as the invasion of a few sovereign nations...

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Medium Earthquake In West Coast Of Western Sumatra
September 06, 2005 21:39 PM

KUALA LUMPUR -- A medium earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale occurred at 9.52am, Tuesday in the west coast of western Sumatra near Nias Island, 610km from Kuala Lumpur.

According to the Meteorological Services Department, the earthquake occurred at 0.1 degrees south and 97.2 degrees east.

Tremors may not be felt in peninsular Malaysia, it said in a statement here.

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Minor Earthquake Hits Northeastern Kentucky
9:33 am EDT September 6, 2005

SHARPSBURG, Ky. -- No major damage or injuries were reported from an earthquake that hit northeastern Kentucky on Monday.

Jason Moran, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in Jackson, said there was one report of objects knocked off a shelf.

Moran added that the 2.5-magnitude quake hit at 4:02 p.m. Monday. He also said the epicenter was about seven miles northeast of Sharpsburg, in Bath County.

The information was relayed to the National Weather Service in Jackson from the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.

Kentucky State Police in Morehead have not received any reports of damage or injuries.

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Changes in Saturn Rings Baffle Scientists
AP Science Writer
Mon Sep 5, 7:18 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - New observations by the international Cassini spacecraft reveal that Saturn's trademark shimmering rings, which have dazzled astronomers since Galileo's time, have dramatically changed over just the past 25 years.

Among the most surprising findings is that parts of Saturn's innermost ring - the D ring - have grown dimmer since the Voyager spacecraft flew by the planet in 1981, and a piece of the D ring has moved 125 miles inward toward Saturn.

While scientists puzzle over what caused the changes, their observations could reveal something about the age and lifetime of the rings.

Cassini-related discoveries were discussed Monday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's division of planetary sciences in Cambridge, England.

"I don't think Saturn's rings will disappear anytime soon, but this tells us how the rings are evolving and how long they might last, " deputy project scientist Linda Spilker said in a telephone interview from England.

Scientists are interested in Saturn's rings because they are a model of the disk of gas and dust that initially surrounded the sun. Studying them could yield important clues about how the planets formed from that disc 4.5 billion years ago.

The ring observations were made this summer. The $3.3 billion Cassini mission, funded by NASA and the European and Italian space agencies, was launched in 1997. Cassini is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

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Weird Animals In Weird Ley Line Weirdness
The Londonist
September 05, 2005

What the Bellamy is going on with our fauna? Over the past few weeks, we've brought you tale after tail concerning the increasingly exotic nature of the capital's wild animals. To recap, we've had the Beast of Bexley, the crocodile-turtle type thing in the River Lea and a plague of red-eared terrapins in Mill Hill.

And most recently of all, we highlighted the Amazonian giant centipede (Scolopendra gigantean), which ‘shocked' Islington resident Aaron Balick found behind the back of his TV.

Now once is a happenstance, twice is a coincidence, three times is a conspiracy. But four exotic animals in just two months...well, that starts to look very suspicious. Smelling a rat, and assorted other creatures, we dusted off the Londonist large-scale A-Z. What we discovered left us shell shocked. Plotting the locations of the four types of beast leads to the perfectly straight line you see in the illustration above.

What can it all mean? A nexus of animal-kind? A harbinger of Armageddon? An axis of weevil? If further evidence be needed, this ley line of flamboyant creatures passes suspiciously close to the north of Hampstead Heath, where flocks of escapee parakeets are commonly found.

Well, admittedly, we've been going a bit heavy on the caffeine lately, but something fishy is going on here. We'd be feeling a little edgy if we were living in Golders Green or Stepney right now.

The conspiracy starts here…

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And Finally...

Study finds bad teeth linked to poverty
September 4, 2005

LONDON -- A study finds that children in the richer parts off Britain tend to have much healthier teeth than those in poorer areas.

The British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry said that the areas with the best dental health were in the south and Midlands, while those with the worst were in Wales, Scotland and Northern England, The Observer reported.

Glasgow and Lanarkshire in Scotland; Preston, Bolton and Blackburn in Lancashire; Knowsley in Merseyside and Bradford in West Yorkshire, all former industrial areas where poverty is now common, were in the bottom 10. The study found that 5-year-olds in poor areas had an average of four teeth missing or decayed while the average was half a tooth in areas like the Weald in Kent and the Suffolk Coast.

"The reason poorer children have worse teeth is a poorer diet," said Aubrey Sheiham, professor of dental health at University College London.

A conference Monday at University College considers how to improve dental health in poorer areas.

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NEW! Signs Commentary Books are Now Available!

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

These books contain hard hitting exposés into human nature, propaganda, psyop activities and insights into the world events that shape our future and our understanding of the world.

The six new books, available now at our bookstore, are entitled:

  • 911 Conspiracy
  • The Human Condition
  • The Media
  • Religion
  • The Work
  • U.S. Freedom

Read them today - before the book burning starts!

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