Monday, September 19, 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


Copyright 2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Signs Economic Commentary
Donald Hunt
September 19, 2005

Gold closed at a price not seen in 17 years on Friday: $462.90 an ounce, up 2.1% from the previous week's close of $453.40. The U.S. dollar closed at 0.8174 euros, up 1.4% from last week's close of 0.8058 euros. That put the euro at 1.2234 dollars compared to 1.2410 a week ago. The price of gold, then went up even more in euros, closing at 378.37 euros an ounce, up 3.6% from 365.35 a week earlier. Oil closed at 63.00 dollars a barrel, down 1.7% from $64.08 at the previous week's close.  Oil in euros would be 51.50 euros a barrel, down only 0.3% from 51.64 the week before. The gold/oil ratio closed at 7.35 on Friday, up 3.8% from 7.08 the previous week. In the U.S. stock market, the Dow closed at 10,641.94, down 0.3% from10,678.56 a week earlier. The NASDAQ closed at 2160.35 for the week, down 0.7% from 2,175.51. The yield on the ten-year U.S. Treasury note closed at 4.27%, up 15 basis points from 4.12 a week earlier and up 24 basis points over the last two weeks on clear inflation fears.

Ominously, gold has reached a 17-year high on inflation fears (a euphemism, perhaps for "fear of a complete currency collapse").  Also influencing the price of gold was the clarity with which the weakness of the U.S. government was exposed with Katrina and the Iraq War.

Gold settles at new 17-year peak

U.S. benchmark gold futures closed at a 17-year high on Friday as robust demand for bullion and jitters over inflation and the U.S. economy stoked a buying spree in the precious commodity for a second straight day.

December delivery gold on the New York Mercantile Exchange's COMEX division climbed $4 to end at $463.30 an ounce. The session high at $464 was the loftiest level for a most-active futures contract in New York gold since June 1988.

Gold's rally this week has added $10, or 2.3 percent, to the December gold contract.

Prices extended gains after first hitting a 17-year peak on Thursday as money from investment funds and independent traders continued to flow into the market, traders and analysts said.

"The inflation signals are getting to be stronger and stronger and that's what is attracting the buying," said Frank Aburto, a broker at Rosenthal-Collins Group in New York. "And it is not over yet."

Gold, seen as a classic hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty, has benefited from record crude oil and gasoline prices and doubts about U.S. economic strength and the dollar, especially after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Higher energy costs, already hitting U.S. citizens hard, will hit even harder when the cold weather hits. Economically, Katrina came at a time so precarious that it may push the U.S. economy over the edge. As Jeff Berg put it:

[H]ad Katrina passed through say at the end of Clinton's term she very likely would have been a storm the status quo would have weathered . But coming as she does when America's balance sheet is in such a precarious position* is sure to pique the interest of those very influential members of the elite that concern themselves with such mundane matters as how things get paid for. When this is added to the administration's culpability in weakening New Orleans defenses, and America's ability to come to the aid of its own citizens in times of a national emergency, it is very likely to shake the faith of even the most devout members of the BAU parties. (BAU: business as usual)

*This analysis assumes that America is particularly vulnerable at this time because its debt-to-asset and debt-to-GDP ratios as well as its national debt, the percentage of its national debt that is foreign held, its budgetary deficit and capital accounts deficit are all at their highest levels in American history. Furthermore they are also higher than the levels experienced by countries that have subsequently crashed such as Argentina in 2001, Russia in 1991 and America in 1929.

Here's a succinct explanation of why the economy will crash sooner rather than later by two short sellers, Lee Mikles and Mark Miller interviewed in Barrons (quoted in James Wolcott's blog:

Barron's asks: "Why do you think we are at an inflection point?

"Mikles: Bottom line, the consumer is broke and he doesn't know it yet. But he is about to find out. All the buckets that propelled consumer spending are empty now, whether it is the increase in mortgage debt, the increase in consumer debt or the reduction in the savings rate. No one statistic will tip the scale at the end of the day. But one very obvious and very curious statistic is that we have dipped into a negative savings rate for the first time. That is not only unsustainable, it is sustainable only for a few months. That's important to note because it tells you consumers are borrowing money to make debt payments. The U.S. consumer has become payment driven. He is driven not by the aggregate amount of debt he possesses but by the amount of the payment. And now the consumer has not only taken his savings rate to nothing, it has turned negative.

"Miller: Every month there is some increase in consumer borrowing that has to occur just for the consumer to stay level. The consumer is treating his balance sheet much the way the government is treating theirs, but, of course, the consumer can't create currency like the government can. The point is the consumer cannot continue to borrow to make his debt-service payments for very long. How did we get here? We got here because of the huge differential between wage growth and what we spend and what we consume.

"Q: What about the argument that consumers may not be saving but the appreciation they have seen on their houses is a form of savings?

"Mikles: The consumer doesn't know he is broke because his house hasn't stopped going up yet. It hasn't starting going down, it just hasn't stopped going up. Once it stops going up, the consumer will immediately -- and I mean a matter of months -- find out that he is, in fact, broke."

The point that every United States citizen should take to heart, though, is that the people in charge at the moment do not care about any of this.  They see Katrina as a stroke of luck economically and a political difficulty that can be survived.  Why? Here's the "Voice of the White House:"

First, all of the poor blacks (and other unproductive and non-spending individuals) will be forced out of their sodden homes because of ‘health reasons.' Then, if fires don't level whole poor neighborhoods, FEMA will order these buildings raised to the ground as 'unhealthy" and 'uninhabitable.'

The owners, or residents, will have been dispersed throughout the country but will be duly notified by a proper advert placed in an obscure official New Orleans legal paper that the houses are being torn down and that the owners will be liable for the costs of destruction. Naturally, these people will not read the legal notices and their houses will be smashed flat and the remains put into trucks and used for landfill somewhere else.

Following this, liens will be placed on the property for the costs of tearing down the homes and again, the owners will not be aware of this and will not pay. The vacant lots will then be siezed by the authorities for non-payment and put up for sale. And a cartel, already formed, will purchase these vacant lots for five cents on the dollar and after this, the government will proudly announce that "new, affordable, housing will be built for the citizens of New Orleans."

Bids will be let, contests held for the designing of attractive buildings and much hype will follow with, no doubt, a smirking President telling the world, and potential voters, that he and his people are indeed showing rare compassion and concern for the dispossessed. Of course, 'affordable housing' does not mean cheap housing and the new homes, built out of government (read taxpayer) money will be sold, or leased, through another government agency, to affluent members of the middle class, businesses and others. In one stroke, undesirable welfare blacks will be chased off of valuable lands and the many friends of the current Administration will become further enriched.

As far as the helpless and exploited exportees are concerned, the President will thank, on behalf of the American people, all those wonderful communities who now house and clothe the dispossessed and newly-homeless of New Orleans and, most especially, pay for their food and living out of local, and not Federal, funds.

And of course, the levees will quickly be rebuilt, by Republican-friendly and well-paid contractors, and New Orleans, like the phoenix, will be reborn  from the shit-filled mud, commerce will blossom and thanks to FEMA and the President, the Administration will be much richer on a personal basis.

Here is Al Martin :

Governor Blanco of Louisiana, and Mayor Nagin of New Orleans are playing the good cop against Bush's bad cop. They kept saying – Where is the cavalry and when are they coming?

Why? Because they stand to profit the most from casinos. They're going to be receiving the preponderance of bribes that are paid out locally. Payback money, etc. So this is a good bargaining chip for them.

Then the road will be clear for New Orleans to become the new Vegas, the Vegas of the Gulf.

How convenient. A hurricane displaces a Black BOVOB [Burned-Out Victims of Bushonomics] population, that now gets dispersed because this is a population that has nothing -- no skills, nothing, and that has always relied on government assistance programs. And yet you notice how reticent the government, particularly FEMA and OEM, have been about mentioning the facilities where these people are going.

…They are going to FEMA-controlled facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and other states where they will be detained for at least five months. This plan to disperse 200,000 or more people across the nation will keep them under federal control in discreet facilities. Notice how reticent the federal government has been in even publicly announcing where the facilities are located that these people are going to be housed in.

Former KGB General Yevgeni Primakov warned us of the establishment of American Gulags, when he said that it requires only an incident and the political will to establish them.

Could these then be the new plantations that everybody can look forward to? If you are a BOVOB, this is the new plantation. And it doesn't distinguish between Black, White or Latino. There is no color barrier. If you have been declared seditious, which means anti-Bush and you are an economically unproductive citizen, your credit rating is below a certain level, and you don't have a job, or whatever, then it's the CILF for you. These are the new improved Civilian Inmate Labor Facilities, the New Plantation or the American Gulag.

And if you think that this means Hillary, forget it. She doesn't have a prayer. They're not going to let go. Because everybody in this country is now concerned about hanging on to what they got. Even if that means that there's got to be 3 million or 30 million or who knows how many millions of BOVOBs put discreetly out of sight on federal lands in controlled facilities -- so no one has to see them or be interested in them or have them in your face.

Bushonomics, after all, creates victims -- victims of its own economics. And ultimately you have to have someplace to put these people.

As long as we have a new imperial senate, we might as well have a new slave caste. With the top 1% of the population now controlling 70% of the nation's private wealth, at some point you have to have facilities to put the victims.

Bushonomics is a trickle-up form of economics. Eventually everything will trickle up from the bottom 10 or 20%, so there is nothing left to trickle up from them. And then, what do you do with these people?

You can't generate enough new jobs in the economy, particularly unskilled or semi-skilled labor jobs. When you combine this with the Bushonian job exportation program to seek higher productivity in the economy, you're creating, effectively, a new slave caste here. Ultimately you have to have the ability to house them, to control them and to get something productive out of them without damaging an already fragile economy, which incidentally was made fragile by your very own economic policies.

How do you make these people pay for themselves and be productive, without damaging the economy? You can't put them into the economy and take away jobs from loyal citizens. Ultimately you have got to put them in work camps.

On Friday, Sept 9, Tom DeLay's most recent pronouncement with regards to Hurricane Katrina in an interview with a CNBC reporter, when asked -- Who ultimately would be in charge of distributing the $51.4 billion in Hurricane Katrina aid voted by the Senate today, Tom DeLay admitted that he didn't have a clue as to who would be in charge of it, but that certainly some of it would be wasted.

Readers should be reminded of the fraud in the Iraq War slash fund headed by Paul Bremer. He got away with a reported $9 billion with no accountability.

Now we don't know how much it is going to be absconded with, but even DeLay came out and said that some would be wasted.

Earlier last week, the GAO came out with its final audit on the federal spending on the four hurricanes' relief in Florida last year. The federal government had spent $5.5 billion in federal relief monies in Florida, of which, the GAO points out, $3.9 billion cannot be accounted for.

So -- if the Bushonian fraction holds true, approximately $37 billion of this $51 billion would be defrauded.

That's why Dick Cheney was smiling when they showed him in New Orleans. They were interviewing him and he was saying how awful it is, and he had a team of 6 guys from Halliburton with him.

Among other things, Fascism is economic suicide.  Everything of value goes to the war machine (and to enrich the circle of insiders) and eventually gets consumed in a great conflagration. Fascism is the political embodiment of the Entropic Principle or of Freud's Death Drive, the rejection of creativity and change and the ultimate desire for obliteration, for stillness, for non-existence. Just look at some pictures of Germany or Japan in late 1945 and 1946.

The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and radical psychiatrist Felix Guattari write of the "paradox of fascism,"

…the way in which fascism differs from totalitarianism. For totalitarianism is a State affair… Even in the case of a military dictatorship, it is a State army, not a war machine, that takes power and elevates the State to the totalitarian stage. Totalitarianism is quintessentially conservative. Fascism, on the other hand, involves a war machine. When fascism builds itself a totalitarian State, it is not in the sense of a State army taking power, but of a war machine taking over the State. A bizarre remark by Virilio puts us on the trail: in fascism, the State is far less totalitarian then it is suicidal.  There is in fascism a realized nihilism. Unlike the totalitarian State which does its utmost to seal all possible lines of flight, fascism is constructed on an intense line of flight, which it transforms into a line of pure destruction and abolition…

Suicide is presented not as a punishment but as the crowning glory of the death of others. One can always say that is is just a matter of foggy talk and ideology, nothing but ideology. But that is not true. The insufficiency of economic and political definitions of fascism does not simply imply a need to tack on vague, so-called ideological determinations. We prefer to follow Faye's inquiry into the precise formation of Nazi statements, which are just as much in evidence in politics and economics as in the most absurd of conversations. They always contain the "stupid and repugnant" cry, Long live death!, even at the economic level, where the arms expansion replaces growth in consumption and where investment veers from the means of production toward the means of pure destruction… A war machine that no longer had war as its object and would rather annihilate its own servants than stop the destruction.  (Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1987, pp. 230-1)

Deleuze and Guattari here quote a passage from Paul Virilio that shows how little chance we have to avoid the final end with any sort of normal political opposition to the Bush regime arising from disgust at its reaction to the disaster:

"It was in the horror of daily life and its environment that Hitler finally found his surest means of governing, the legitimation of his policies and military strategy; and it lasted right up to the end, for the ruins and horrors and crimes and chaos to total war, far from discharging the repulsive nature of its power, normally only increase its scope. Telegram 71 is the normal outcome: If the war is lost, may the nation perish. Here Hitler decides to join forces with his enemies in order to complete the destruction of his own people, by obliterating the last remaining resources of its life-support system, civil reserves of every kind (potable water, fuel, provisions, etc.)." (from Paul Virilio, L'insécurité du territoire, ch.1)

The sick feeling people in the U.S. and around the world feel now watching the "horror of daily life" in New Orleans on their television screens comes from the deep feeling that we will all be experiencing this soon, and that with each degradation the grip of those in power will grow stronger.  And Fascism is now being welcomed by the populace in the United States as a solution to the problems that it itself has caused, when the media and public were relieved when the U.S. military occupied a U.S. city.  The sick, slavish fawning over military leaders is another feature of Fascism.  Here is Bill Van Auken:

US media hails martial law general in New Orleans

By Bill Van Auken
13 September 2005

The abject failure of American capitalist society in face of the human tragedy in New Orleans, and the disaster's exposure of the stark social polarization in the US, have proven deeply unsettling for the ruling elite and the more comfortable sections of the upper middle class.

In search of reassurance, the media has latched onto an unlikely hero—the US Army general who is overseeing what amounts to martial law in New Orleans, directing thousands of heavily armed troops in this largely deserted American city littered with floating corpses.

The media is systematically promoting Lt. Gen. Russel Honore. He is portrayed as the antidote to the miserable incompetence and negligence exhibited by every level of government in the first four days following the hurricane, when the poor, the elderly, the sick and infant children were left literally to die in the streets without aid.

Anyone who has lived in countries which have a history of military coups (e.g., Latin America, Pakistan, etc.) know that initially, military takeovers of government are welcomed.  The military is seen as "able to get things done" and as less susceptible to corruption than the civilian government.  That is why the display of incompetence by FEMA was deliberate, in my view.

Honore was first hailed by New Orleans' Democratic Mayor Ray Nagin as "one John Wayne dude," a characterization that the television networks, followed by the print media, gleefully echoed. Now he is the subject of lengthy panegyrics in the press, extolled as the city's savior. Among the sickest and most fawning of these tributes was a piece published Monday in the "Style" section of the Washington Post.

"There's the swagger, and that ever-present stogie," it reads. "There's the height and heft of his physique. And that barking voice with its font of perhaps impolitic obscenities... not to mention his penchant for not suffering fools, as is the prerogative of a three-star general."

No cliché is spared in extolling the martial law commander. He doesn't speak, he "barks." He doesn't walk, he "strides." He is, the Post reporter tells us, "a soldier's soldier, the man you want in the trenches with you, the kind of man who'll cover your back."

The tone of the article, written by Post reporter Lynne Duke, is that of a lovesick schoolgirl, lacking a shred of objectivity, much less critical skepticism. Duke's colleagues working the story in New Orleans may have a somewhat more jaundiced view of the general, having been subjected to harassment and restrictions at the hands of the military.

Honore's "barking" has not infrequently been directed at anyone questioning the government's role in New Orleans. A prominent target of his "impolitic obscenities" has been reporters asking why relief did not come sooner.

…As head of the military's Task Force Katrina, Honore played a principal role in engineering an intervention that delayed any significant aid to the tens of thousands of people left without water, food, shelter or medical assistance during those first horrific four days.

His agenda was that of the Pentagon, which ordered the city sealed—no relief in, no evacuees out—until the military could intervene with overwhelming force to impose law and order and defend private property. He acted on the basis of plans and doctrines designed not for relief of human suffering, but suppression of civil unrest. The result was many more needless deaths. All this is conveniently forgotten in the media's lionizing of the "take-charge" general.

…[A] piece entitled "‘Man of Action' What City Needed," released Sunday by the Associated Press, was even more explicit. "To troops, he's the ‘Ragin' Cajun,' an affable but demanding general barking orders to resuscitate a drowning city," the article declared. "To his country, he's an icon of leadership in a land hungry for a leader after a hurricane exposed the nation's vulnerability to disasters."

The content of these articles is both ridiculous and ominous. It would seem that those who seek to shape public opinion in America are promoting the idea that the country's immense problems—and its "hunger for a leader"—may be answered by the rise of a military man on horseback.

There is an objective basis and a profound political logic behind such conceptions. The "vulnerability to disasters" of which the AP speaks is the product of more than a quarter century of attacks on social programs in general, and civilian disaster relief capabilities in particular.

Meanwhile, spending on the military has been exempted by Democrats and Republicans alike in their attacks on "big government," leaving the Pentagon the only agency with the resources to mount a response to an event like Katrina. FEMA (Federal Emergency Relief Agency), which is ostensibly in charge of such operations, proved itself utterly unprepared and ineffectual, in the end serving primarily as a stalking horse for the military, diverting and blocking aid until there were sufficient "boots on the ground."

While FEMA had made no serious preparations for responding to the catastrophe, the Pentagon had a well-rehearsed strategy and the troops to implement it. In tandem with the growth of militarism abroad and the attacks on democratic rights at home, the US military has made extensive preparations for the takeover of American cities and the imposition of martial law throughout the country.

It is not merely a matter of turning to the military out of expediency, however. There are deep concerns within America's financial oligarchy about the country's political stability. The gulf separating the super-rich at the top of the economic ladder—who control both major parties—and the great majority of American working people has become so great as to render any form of democracy unworkable.

The storm that hit New Orleans brought this social chasm starkly into the open and, with it, the potential for social upheavals. The greatest fear within the American establishment is that out of this deepening crisis there will emerge a mass political challenge to the profit system. These are the conditions in which a martial law general is being offered as an "icon of leadership."

The shameless promotion of General Honore must serve as a political warning. There is no significant section of the US ruling elite that is committed to the defense of democratic rights and the maintenance of democratic forms of rule. To defend its vast wealth and power against the social demands of the majority, the American plutocracy is prepared to resort to the methods of police-military dictatorship.

In other ominous news, Delta and Northwest airlines filed for bankruptcy in order to get out of pension and health insurance payments to their retirees, clearly demonstrating the end game of deregulation:

The bankruptcy filings, with their brutal implications for tens of thousands of workers, are themselves the culmination of a process of unrestrained profiteering and self-enrichment that was set in motion by the deregulation of the US airline industry in 1978. Nearly thirty years later, it is abundantly clear that what was billed as encouraging competition and unleashing the dynamic impetus of the "free market" was a means of plundering the assets of the airlines for the benefit of the financial elite.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been destroyed, wages and benefits have been repeatedly slashed, and now the pensions and health provisions of retired workers are being wiped out, while a small fraternity of corporate CEOs gorge themselves with multi-million-dollar salaries and bonuses.

Since deregulation was initiated—under the Democratic administration of Jimmy Carter—major airlines have disappeared entirely, such as Braniff, Pan American, Trans World Airlines and Eastern. The removal of government regulation has encouraged, not efficiency, but irrationality and chaos in the organization of routes and the setting of fares. Passengers, especially the vast majority who cannot afford the exorbitant price of first class tickets, are now handled little better than cattle, crammed into overcrowded cabins and, on most flights, denied a meal.

The airlines themselves have become milch cows for CEOs who enrich themselves at the expense of their own companies. Northwest Chairman Gary Wilson, for example, the largest single shareholder, has been dumping his own stock hand over fist. The Wall Street Journal reported June 13 that, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Wilson cut his stake to 1.75 million shares from 4.34 million between March 31 and the first week in June.

Al Checchi, a former co-chairman who worked with Wilson to acquire Northwest in 1989, sold $26.4 million worth of Northwest stock between January and June, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

These top executives and company insiders dumped their stock knowing that in so doing they were worsening the financial position of the company and making bankruptcy filing all the more likely. While they were protecting their own fortunes, they were demanding ever more draconian sacrifices from their employees.

The living standards of workers, the comfort and safety of passengers and the general public interest have all been subordinated to the naked drive for profit, and unscrupulous asset-strippers and speculators such as Frank Lorenzo and Carl Icahn have risen to the heights of corporate power.

With the latest bankruptcy filings, the final act in the drama is unfolding, as the airline industry undergoes a further consolidation, resulting in a few mega-airlines which will cut all unprofitable routes, close down hubs and ratchet up ticket prices to previously unheard of levels.

The bankruptcy of Northwest and Delta is one more expression of the failure of the profit system. The same fundamental tendencies of social dysfunction and decay that have found an appalling expression in the needless destruction of lives and communities from Hurricane Katrina take another socially destructive form in the chaos and collapse of the airline industry.

In what cannot have been a surprise, but is being presented as one, U.S. consumer confidence fell to the lowest level since the last Bush recession in 1992, a fall that will help to make the economic collapse more likely, a matter of months if not weeks away.

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Student Arrested After Pilot Uniform Found
The Associated Press
Friday, September 16, 2005; 11:39 PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A university student from Egypt was ordered held without bond after prosecutors said they found a pilot's uniform, chart of Memphis International Airport and a DVD titled "How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act" in his apartment.

Comment: Some company actually makes DVDs on how airline captains should look and act??

The FBI is investigating whether Mahmoud Maawad, 29, had any connection to terrorists. He is awaiting trial on charges of wire fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number.

Maawad, who is in the United States illegally, told the judge during a hearing Thursday that he is studying science and economics at the University of Memphis.

"My school is everything. I stay in this country for seven years; I stay for the school," he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker said Thursday that the airport-related items were found during a Sept. 9 search.

"The specific facts and circumstances are scary," Parker said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Thomas Anderson ruled that Maawad be held without bond.

"It is hard for the court to understand why he has a large concentration of those (aviation) items, and nothing else to indicate Mr. Maawad plans to stay in the community," Anderson said.

Maawad had ordered $3,000 in aviation materials, including DVDs titled "Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings," "Airplane Talk," "Mental Math for Pilots" and "Mastering GPS Flying," FBI agent Thad Gulczynski testified.

The company reported Maawad to authorities when he didn't pay for $2,500 of merchandise it had delivered, Gulczynski said.

Comment: Like the 9/11 hijackers, Maawad must be one of the most unintelligent and incompetent "terrorists" the world has ever seen. Clearly, an operation on the scale of 9/11 could not have been successfully accomplished by a gang of such individuals. The organization, the convenient clues left behind - like the unharmed passport sitting atop a pile of rubble - that implicate "Arab terrorists", and the professionalism of the attacks speak volumes about who was really behind them. Parker betrays the true purpose of this event when he says, "The specific facts and circumstances are scary." Be afraid, be very afraid...

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Saddam conducted rebellion by secret mail network
Sun Sep 18, 3:40 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein used a secret mail network to try to stoke a rebellion against US-led forces in the time between his downfall in April 2003 and his capture in December that year.

Often switching locations in an attempt to avoid his enemies, Saddam "fired off frequent letters filled with instructions for his subordinates," the weekly news magazine Time says in its issue to appear Monday, quoting "current and former" intelligence officials.

Some letters "were pathetic," it says.

"In one, he explained guerrilla tradecraft to his inner circle, how to keep in touch with one another, how to establish new contacts, how to remain clandestine.

"Of course, the people doing the actual fighting needed no such advice, and decisions about whom to attack, when and where were made by the (insurgency) cells," which were supplied with money, arms and logistical support by Saddam's minions, it says.

On the other hand, Saddam did make a strategic decision that changed the course of the insurgency, which has since widened beyond its original Baathist core to include religious extremists, nationalists and individuals angered by the US occupation.

"In early autumn (of 2003), he sent a letter to associates, ordering them to change the target focus from coalition to Iraqi collaborators, that is, to attack Iraqi police stations," the report says.

Saddam is to go on trial next month before the Iraqi Special Tribunal over a 1982 massacre in a Shiite village north of Baghdad following an attempt on his life there.

The sources interviewed by Time were gloomy about the war and critical of President George W. Bush's preparations for the aftermath of the conflict.

"The officers believe it's a war fought with insufficient resources and a war that almost all of them now believe is not winnable militarily," Time says.

Comment: This article is hardly surprising given Bush's popularity slump at the moment, which is due in large part to the debacle in Iraq. Obviously, the mainstream media is still in the Bush administration's back pocket to a large extent, even if they have been rather critical of his performance of late. In fact, the negative press Bush has received recently may go a long way towards bolstering his administration's lies about the war on terror. The people of the US will believe that the press is still free since they criticise the president, and blatant propaganda like this article will be more readily accepted by many.

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US destination address required for passengers travelling to the US
Singapore Airlines

From 4 October 2005, the United States government requires all visitors to provide a US destination address prior to their departure.

If you are travelling to the US from this date, please note the following:

- The address you provide must include a zip code.
- If you are providing a hotel address, it must include the hotel name, street name,  city and state; a zip code is also preferred.
- If you are joining a cruise ship, provide the vessel and cruise names, and the US city of embarkation.
- If you are in transit, provide your final country of destination, the carrier or vessel name, and number.
- If you are hiring a car, provide the intended address of your first night in the US.

Please have this information with you during booking or prior to your departure, as you will be asked to provide your destination address in the US.

Travellers who are exempt from having to provide a US destination address include US citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs). However, LPRs must provide their Alien Registration Number.

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About 200 go on hunger strike in Guantanamo
Mon Sep 19, 2:13 AM ET

WASHINGTON - A hunger strike at the US military's prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has unsettled senior commanders and produced the most serious challenge yet to the military's effort to manage hundreds of terrorism suspects.

Quoting unnamed lawyers and officials, The New York Times newspaper said as many as 200 prisoners -- more than a third of the camp's population -- have refused food in recent weeks to protest conditions and prolonged confinement without trial.

While military officials put the number of those participating at 105, they acknowledge that 20 of them, whose health and survival are being threatened, are being kept at the camp's hospital and fed through nasal tubes and sometimes given fluids intravenously, the report said.

The military authorities were so concerned about ending a previous strike this summer that they allowed the establishment of a six-member prisoners' grievance committee, said the Times.

But the committee was quickly disbanded.

The reports quotes Major Jeffrey Weir, a spokesman at the base, as saying the prisoners who are being fed at the hospital are generally not strapped to their beds or gurneys but are in handcuffs and leg restraints.

A 21st prisoner at the hospital is voluntarily accepting liquid food, the report said.

Major Weir said the prisoners usually accept the nasal tubes passively because they know they will be restrained and fed forcibly if necessary, the paper reported.

"We will not let them starve themselves to the point of causing harm to themselves," The Times quotes the major as saying. On at least one occasion, he said, a prisoner was restrained and forcibly fed.

The paper said one law enforcement official who has been fully briefed on the events said senior military officials had grown increasingly worried about their ability to control the situation.

A senior military official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, described the situation as greatly troublesome for the camp's authorities and said they had tried several ways to end the hunger strike, without success, The Times reported.

Comment: Here's an idea: stop torturing them and give them all fair trials.

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Clinton launches withering attack on Bush on Iraq, Katrina, budget
Sun Sep 18, 4:03 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Former US president Bill Clinton sharply criticised George W. Bush for the Iraq War and the handling of Hurricane Katrina, and voiced alarm at the swelling US budget deficit.

Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors, Clinton said the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq "virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction."

The Iraq war diverted US attention from the war on terrorism "and undermined the support that we might have had," Clinton said in an interview with an ABC's "This Week" programme.

Clinton said there had been a "heroic but so far unsuccessful" effort to put together a constitution that would be universally supported in Iraq.

The US strategy of trying to develop the Iraqi military and police so that they can cope without US support "I think is the best strategy. The problem is we may not have, in the short run, enough troops to do that," said Clinton.

On Hurricane Katrina, Clinton faulted the authorities' failure to evacuate New Orleans ahead of the storm's strike on August 29.

People with cars were able to heed the evacuation order, but many of those who were poor, disabled or elderly were left behind.

"If we really wanted to do it right, we would have had lots of buses lined up to take them out," Clinton.

He agreed that some responsibility for this lay with the local and state authorities, but pointed the finger, without naming him, at the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA boss Michael Brown quit in response to criticism of his handling of the Katrina disaster. He was viewed as a political appointee with no experience of disaster management or dealing with government officials.

"When James Lee Witt ran FEMA, because he had been both a local official and a federal official, he was always there early, and we always thought about that," Clinton said, referring to FEMA's head during his 1993-2001 presidency.

"But both of us came out of environments with a disproportionate number of poor people."

On the US budget, Clinton warned that the federal deficit may be coming untenable, driven by foreign wars, the post-hurricane recovery programme and tax cuts that benefitted just the richest one percent of the US population, himself included.

"What Americans need to understand is that ... every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts," he said.

"We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else."

Clinton added: "We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense."

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Tropical Storm Churns Toward Florida Keys
Associated Press Writer
Sep 19 4:37 AM US/Eastern

KEY WEST, Fla. -- Hotel workers secured pool chairs and umbrellas, tourists boarded buses out of town and lines of vehicles snaked out of the lower Florida Keys as Tropical Storm Rita churned toward the exposed island chain.

Rita, which strengthened Sunday into a tropical storm with sustained winds of 50 mph, was forecast to be in the Straits of Florida between the Keys and northern Cuba on Monday, possibly as a Category 1 hurricane, forecasters said.

The entire Keys was under a hurricane warning. Rainfall totals of 6 to 15 inches were possible in the Keys, with 3 to 5 inches possible across southern Florida. Storm surges of 6 to 8 feet above normal tide levels were predicted to batter the Keys.

Officials issued evacuation orders Sunday for visitors - but not residents - from the Seven Mile Bridge near Marathon to Key West, including the Dry Tortugas.

"We're happy to get out of here before the storm comes," said Joan Taylor, 73, of Midland Park, N.J., who was planning to fly out of Key West on Monday.

The stream of vehicles leaving the Keys on Sunday included RVs, cars towing boats and thousands of motorcycle riders who left an annual gathering a day early. U.S. 1, the lone highway in the Keys, was packed.

Gov. Jeb Bush declared a state of emergency for Florida, which gives the state authority to oversee evacuations and activate the National Guard, among other powers.

Despite the evacuation order, however, some hotels and restaurants in Key West remained open, and few businesses were boarded up Sunday night.

In the Bahamas, which could be struck by Rita first, few on Mayaguana Island bothered to board their windows or stock up on emergency supplies as they normally would for a hurricane, said Earnel Brown, manager of the Baycaner Beach Resort.

"I don't expect that much trouble," Brown said. "I don't think we're going to have that much damage from it."

At 2 a.m. EDT, Rita was centered about 275 miles east-southeast of Nassau, Bahamas, and about 545 miles east-southeast of Key West. It was moving to the west-northwest near 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Long-range forecasts showed the system moving into the Gulf of Mexico late in the week as a hurricane, then possibly approaching Mexico or Texas.

But forecasters warned those across the U.S. southern coast that long-term predictions are subject to large errors. That means that areas ravaged by Katrina should be watching the storm.

Rita is the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. That makes this season the fourth busiest since record keeping began in 1851 - 21 tropical storms formed in 1933, 19 developed in 1995 and 1887 and 18 formed in 1969, according to the hurricane center.

Four hurricanes struck Florida last year, killing dozens of people and causing $19 billion in insured losses in Florida. Hurricane Dennis brushed by the Keys in July, flooding some Key West streets, toppling trees and knocking out power, before slamming the Florida Panhandle.

Florida was also hit this year by Hurricane Katrina. Eleven people died there.

Farther out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Philippe formed late Sunday well east of the Lesser Antilles. At 11 p.m., Philippe had maximum sustained winds near 75 mph, and was centered about 390 miles east of the Leeward Islands and was moving to the north-northwest near 8 mph.

The hurricane season started June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

Comment: Meanwhile, Katrina is still making waves in the US:

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A Bright Spot in Bush World Amid the Miserable Failures on the Same Planet
Cindy Sheehan
Huffington Post

It has been one month and one week since I sat in a ditch in Crawford, Tx. I can hardly believe it when I think of it myself. So much has happened in that time, and really, so little.

I got to Camp Casey III in Covington, La today, after getting up at 3am to head for the airport. Now it is 3am the next day and we are driving in a car to try and find a hotel to sleep anywhere around Jackson, Miss. I was prepared to be shocked by what I saw in Louisiana, but I guess one can never really fully prepare for such devastation and tragedy. After living in a country your entire life it is so difficult to see such callous indifference on an immense scale. When I reflect on how the mother of the imbecile who is running our country said that the people who are in the Astrodome are happy to be there, it angers me beyond comparison. The people in LA who were displaced have nice, if modest homes that are perfectly fine. I wonder why the government made them leave at great expense and uproot families who have been living in their communities for generations.

After we arrived at Camp Casey III, we took the Veterans for Peace "Impeachment Tour Bus" into New Orleans after stopping at the distribution center to pick up some supplies in Covington. The stench and the destruction are unbelievable. I saw some hurricane zones in the panhandle of Florida last year that were pretty bad but that couldn't have prepared me for this.

I saw in the paper that George Bush said the recovery in the Gulf States would be "hard work." That's what he said about sending troops to Iraq and looking at the casualty reports everyday: "It's hard work." That man has never known a day of hard work in his life. The people on the ground in Covington scoffed at George's little junket to Louisiana yesterday. He stayed in the French Quarter and a Ward that weren't even damaged a bit. The VFP took me to the city of Algiers on the West Bank. The part of Algiers we went to was very poor and black. The people of Algiers know what hard work is.

Algiers had no flooding. All of the damage was from winds. There are trees knocked over and shingles off of roofs. There are signs blown over and there was a dead body lying on the ground for 2 weeks before someone finally came to get it. Even though Algiers came through Katrina relatively unscathed, our federal government tried to force (mostly successfully) the people out of the community. Malik Rahim, a new friend of ours and resident of Algiers, told us stories of the days after the hurricane. The government declared martial law, but there was no effective police presence to enforce it. Malik said the lawlessness was rampant. People were running out of food and water and they were being forced to go to the Superdome. They didn't want to go to the Superdome, because their homes were pretty intact: they wanted to stay and have food and water brought to them. A town of 76,000 people dwindled down to 3,000. The die hards were rewarded last Wednesday when the VFP rolled into town with food and water. The Camp Casey III people were the first ones to bring any relief to Algiers. The people who were supposed to look after its citizens, our government, failed them.

In Algiers, in the space of 2 short weeks, Malik and his community has opened a clinic which also doubles as a food and supply distribution center. We need more help in Algiers. Malik and the other dozens of fine volunteers are planning on opening 2 more clinics in Algiers and Malik would dearly love someone to give him a flat bottomed boat so he can go to the flood drenched poor communities that still have not been helped and bring them food, supplies, and medical attention. Medical professionals are dearly needed. Malik has also set up a communications center in an apartment next to his house which is for the community to use. The aid that is being given in Algiers is completely driven by the needs of the community. They have a saying in Algiers: Not Charity, Solidarity.

The citizens of Algiers desperately needed help and hope before the hurricane. When I think of how many other poor neighborhoods are being decimated and made so desperate and hopeless by the failed policies of the Bush administration, it makes me so angry. But when I see what the people of Algiers are doing to help themselves and the people of America are doing to help them help themselves, it gives me hope. I think Algiers can be a model for all of our communities.

One thing that truly troubled me about my visit to Louisiana was the level of the military presence there. I imagined before that if the military had to be used in a CONUS (Continental US) operations that they would be there to help the citizens: Clothe them, feed them, shelter them, and protect them. But what I saw was a city that is occupied. I saw soldiers walking around in patrols of 7 with their weapons slung on their backs. I wanted to ask one of them what it would take for one of them to shoot me. Sand bags were removed from private property to make machine gun nests.

The vast majority of people who were looting in New Orleans were doing so to feed their families or to get resources to get their families out of there. If I had a store with an inventory of insured belongings, and a tragedy happened, I would fling my doors open and tell everyone to take what they need: it is only stuff. When our fellow citizens are told to "shoot to kill" other fellow citizens because they want to stay alive, that is military and governmental fascism gone out of control. What I saw today in Algiers lifted up my spirits, but what I also saw today in Algiers frightened me terribly.

The people who are running the clinic in Algiers gave me a list of desperately needed supplies:

- Blood pressure medication---properly packaged.
- Allergy medication---properly packaged
- Vitamin B
- Pens, paper, sharpies, index cards
- Glucometers and test strips
- Full O2 tanks
- Power strips and extension cords
- Non-DEET insect repellent
- Mini bottles of Hand Sanitizer
- A copy machine is urgently needed
- People: Call: 512-297-1049

Send supplies to:
Fed Ex or UPS
Veterans for Peace Ch 116
C/O 645 Kimbro Dr.
Baton Rouge, La. 70808

Mark them: For the Medical Clinic in Algiers

The children in Algiers have also been out of school. Malik would like to open a school and they need school supplies and teachers.

I have a testimony from a doctor that came to Louisiana to help that I will post tomorrow. The failure in every level of our government is criminal negligence. Tens of thousands of families in our country have been devastated because of the incompetence and callousness of our so-called leadership. America is stepping up to the plate to help Americans. America stepped up to the plate to hold George accountable for the abomination in Iraq. One thing George has taught us is that we are self-sufficient and we have a country that is worth fighting for and we are not going away.

I was told that Pat Boone was on a conservative radio talk show in San Francisco (yes they do exist) with Melanie Morgan (who has a vendetta against me) and he told the listeners that after we "stole the supplies" from the Red Cross, we gave them to the "enemies of America who are like the people who want to fly airplanes into our buildings."
Boone says that we were giving them to enemies of America, because we were distributing the supplies from a Mosque. First of all, accusing me of stealing is slander, I think, and second of all: we were helping Americans. Just because their government abandoned them, we shouldn't feed them and give them medicine and supplies? I thought Pat Boone was supposed to be a Christian man? Thirdly, isn't Freedom of Religion one of our Constitutional guarantees?

It is a Christ-like principle to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless. That's what is happening in Algiers and other places in Louisiana...but by the people of America, not the so-called "Christians" in charge. If George Bush truly listened to God and read the words of the Christ, Iraq and the devastation in New Orleans would have never happened.

I don't care if a human being is black, brown, white, yellow or pink. I don't care if a human being is Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or pagan. I don't care what flag a person salutes: if a human being is hungry, then it is up to another human being to feed him/her. George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power. The only way America will become more secure is if we have a new administration that cares about Americans even if they don't fall into the top two percent of the wealthiest.

Comment: We aren't holding our breath. Now it looks like the Bush administration will use Katrina in exactly the way we suspected:

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Military May Play Bigger Relief Role
AP Military Writer
Sep 17 2:59 PM US/Eastern

WASHINGTON - President Bush's push to give the military a bigger role in responding to major disasters like Hurricane Katrina could lead to a loosening of legal limits on the use of federal troops on U.S. soil.

Pentagon officials are reviewing that possibility, and some in Congress agree it needs to be considered.

Bush did not define the wider role he envisions for the military. But in his speech to the nation from New Orleans on Thursday, he alluded to the unmatched ability of federal troops to provide supplies, equipment, communications, transportation and other assets the military lumps under the label of "logistics."

The president called the military "the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice."

At question, however, is how far to push the military role, which by law may not include actions that can be defined as law enforcement - stopping traffic, searching people, seizing property or making arrests. That prohibition is spelled out in the Posse Comitatus Act of enacted after the Civil War mainly to prevent federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said, "I believe the time has come that we reflect on the Posse Comitatus Act." He advocated giving the president and the secretary of defense "correct standby authorities" to manage disasters.

Presidents have long been reluctant to deploy U.S. troops domestically, leery of the image of federal troops patrolling in their own country or of embarrassing state and local officials.

The active-duty elements that Bush did send to Louisiana and Mississippi included some Army and Marine Corps helicopters and their crews, plus Navy ships. The main federal ground forces, led by troops of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., arrived late Saturday, five days after Katrina struck.

They helped with evacuations and performed search-and-rescue missions in flooded portions of New Orleans but did not join in law enforcement operations.

The federal troops were led by Lt. Gen. Russel Honore. The governors commanded their National Guard soldiers, sent from dozens of states.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is reviewing a wide range of possible changes in the way the military could be used in domestic emergencies, spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Friday. He said these included possible changes in the relationship between federal and state military authorities.

Under the existing relationship, a state's governor is chiefly responsible for disaster preparedness and response.

Governors can request assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If federal armed forces are brought in to help, they do so in support of FEMA, through the U.S. Northern Command, which was established in 2002 as part of a military reorganization after the 9/11 attacks.

Di Rita said Rumsfeld has not made recommendations to Bush, but among the issues he is examining is the viability of the Posse Comitatus Act. Di Rita called it one of the "very archaic laws" from a different era in U.S. history that limits the Pentagon's flexibility in responding to 21st century domestic crises.

Another such law, Di Rita said, is the Civil War-era Insurrection Act, which Bush could have invoked to waive the law enforcement restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act. That would have enabled him to use either National Guard soldiers or active-duty troops - or both - to quell the looting and other lawlessness that broke out in New Orleans.

The Insurrection Act lets the president call troops into federal action inside the United States whenever "unlawful obstructions, combinations or assemblages - or rebellion against the authority of the United States - make it impracticable to enforce the laws" in any state.

The political problem in Katrina was that Bush would have had to impose federal command over the wishes of two governors - Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi - who made it clear they wanted to retain state control.

The last time the Insurrection Act was invoked was in 1992 when it was requested by California Gov. Pete Wilson after the outbreak of race riots in Los Angeles. President George H.W. Bush dispatched about 4,000 soldiers and Marines.

Di Rita cautioned against expecting quick answers to tough questions like whether Congress should define when to trigger the president's authority to send federal troops to take charge of an emergency, regardless of whether a governor agreed.

"Is there a way to define a threshold, or an anticipated threshold, above which a different set of relationships would kick in?" Di Rita asked. "That's a good question. It's only been two weeks, so don't expect us to have the answers. But those are the kinds of questions we need to be asking."

Comment: Let's see if we have this straight: Bush screwed up in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. As a result, he will probably be awarded the power to send in federal troops in violation of "very archaic" laws like Posse Comitatus. Considering the powers given Bush in the Patriot Act, overturning Posse Comitatus would be a minor feather in his cap. Nevertheless, it is another small step towards open fascism in the US.

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Relief Head Questions New Orleans Timeline
Associated Press Writer
Sep 17 5:16 PM US/Eastern

NEW ORLEANS - The mayor of New Orleans has set up an "extremely problematic" timeline for allowing residents to return to the evacuated city, which is still threatened by a weakened levee system, a lack of drinkable water and heavily polluted floodwaters, the head of the federal relief effort said Saturday.

Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen said federal officials have worked with Mayor Ray Nagin and support his vision for repopulating the city, but he called Nagin's idea to return up to 180,000 people to New Orleans in the next week both "extremely ambitious" and "extremely problematic."

"Our intention is to work with the mayor ... in a very frank, open and unvarnished manner," Allen told The Associated Press in an interview at Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Baton Rouge.

Nagin has announced that the city's Algiers section, the Garden District and the French Quarter would reopen over the next week and a half, bringing back more than one-third of the city's half-million inhabitants. All the areas to be reopened were spared Katrina's flooding. Electricity and clean water have been restored to some sections.

Allen said a prime public health concern is the tap water, which in most of the city remains unfit for drinking and bathing. He said he was concerned about the difficulties of communicating the risk of using that water to people who return and might run out of the bottled water they brought along.

"The water that's there is only good for firefighting and flushing," he said.

Another concern, Allen said, was the risk of another storm hitting the region, threatening an already delicate levee system and possibly requiring residents to be evacuated again.

"Something less than a Category 4 storm is going to present significant issues that might require the evacuation of the general population. You want to make sure you have your arms around how you will do that," he said.

Allen called on the mayor to be "mindful of the risks" and said he would inform Nagin of his concerns when they meet on Monday.

Allen was not the only official with doubts about the mayor's plans.

The mayor's homeland security director, Terry Ebbert, backed away from Nagin's promise on Friday, saying only that the city would assess the situation in the French Quarter from "day to day." Asked repeatedly whether that meant it could open sooner or later than Sept. 26, he declined to elaborate.

Ebbert said the city's recovery depends on getting businesses reopened, but he said the repopulation of the city was being done "in a progressive manner" to ensure the safety and health of residents. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was planned.

Meanwhile, some business owners were being allowed back into the city Saturday to get a head start on opening the rollicking bars, stores and restaurants that keep the good times rolling in New Orleans.

Margaret Richmond stood watching, tears streaming down her face, as members of the 82nd Airborne Division used a crowbar to try to pry open the door of her looted antiques shop on the edge of the city's upscale Garden District.

The store, Decor Splendide, had been looted in the chaotic days after Katrina struck. Antique jewelry, a cement angel with one wing broken off and lamps were lying scattered on the floor. Someone had wedged a piece of metal in the door to jam it closed, hoping to deter other looters.

"What they didn't steal they trashed," Richmond said, gazing through a window of her shop, before the soldiers were able to break open the door. "They got what they could and ruined what they left."

Business owners, facing damage that could take months to repair, said hopes for a quick recovery may be little more than a political dream.

"I don't know why they said people could come back and open their businesses," said Richmond, whose insurance policy will cover the lost merchandise. "You can't reopen this. And even if you could, there are no customers here." [...]

These neighborhoods were the lucky ones. They never flooded. Still, nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina, about 40 percent of the Big Easy was under water.

But that is down from 80 percent after the storm, and engineers say water is dropping rapidly. While water in some low-lying areas had been as deep as 20 feet, the deepest water in the city Friday was 5 feet, exposing still more of the dead.

The death toll along the Gulf Coast rose to 816, including 579 in Louisiana.

Security will be tight in the reopened neighborhoods, with Nagin and others vowing never again to let New Orleans slip into the lawlessness that gripped the city in the days after the storm. This week, he warned potential looters that soldiers carry M-16 rifles "and they might have a few bazookas we're saving for spec people."

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Blair calls BBC coverage 'full of hate of America': Murdoch
Sat Sep 17, 6:35 PM ET

NEW YORK - British Prime Minister Tony Blair has complained privately to media tycoon Rupert Murdoch that the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina carried an anti-American bias, Murdoch said at a conference here.

Murdoch, chairman of the media conglomerate News Corporation, recounted a conversation with the British leader at a panel discussion late Friday hosted by former president Bill Clinton.

"Tony Blair -- perhaps I shouldn't repeat this conversation -- told me yesterday that he was in Delhi last week. And he turned on the BBC world service to see what was happening in New Orleans," Murdoch was quoted as saying in a transcript posted on the Clinton Global Initiative website.

"And he said it was just full of hate of America and gloating about our troubles. And that was his government. Well, his government-owned thing," he said of the publicly owned broadcaster.

Murdoch went on to say that anti-American bias was prevalent throughout Europe.

"I think we've got to do a better job at answering it. And there's a big job to do. But you're not going to ever turn it around totally," said Murdoch, one of three media magnates who spoke at Clinton's "Global Initiative" forum on peace and development.

The former US president, who held his conference to coincide with the United Nations summit in New York, agreed that the BBC's coverage was lacking.

While the BBC's reports on the hurricane were factually accurate, its presentation was "stacked up" to criticize President George W Bush's handling of the disaster, Clinton said.

"There is nothing factually inaccurate. But ... it was designed to be almost exclusively a hit on the federal response, without showing what anybody at any level was doing that was also miraculous, going on simultaneously in a positive way," Clinton said.

Blair's remarks, as reported by Murdoch, are sure to aggravate the already difficult relations between the prime minister's government and the BBC. [...]

A former BBC foreign correspondent and MP, Martin Bell, defended the BBC's coverage of the hurricane and alleged that Blair was trying to curry favor with a powerful media owner who controls important British newspapers.

"Tony Blair was telling Murdoch what he wanted to hear because he needs Murdoch's support," Bell was quoted as saying by British media.

The BBC said it had received no complaint from Downing Street about its coverage.

Blair's office declined to comment.

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Lawmakers Ask CIA to Open Sept. 11 Report
Associated Press
Sun Sep 18, 1:05 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The leaders of the House Intelligence Committee want CIA Director Porter Goss to provide a public version of his agency's hard-hitting report on the failures leading up to Sept. 11, 2001.

In a letter made public Friday, Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., and the panel's top Democrat, California Rep. Jane Harman, asked Goss to reveal as much of the report from his inspector general as possible.

"We believe the public has a right to know if people should be held accountable for those failures as a result of gross negligence or misconduct," Hoekstra and Harman wrote on Sept. 6. "More importantly, the public also should know what steps should be taken in the future for the CIA to address the findings of the report."

Spanning hundreds of pages, the report calls for disciplinary reviews for former CIA Director George Tenet and current and former officials who were involved in faulty intelligence efforts before the attacks.

The report was sent to Congress last month. Limited details have been provided by anonymous officials.

"The office of the inspector general developed this report over two years. During that same time period, much has been done at CIA and throughout the intelligence community to improve and reform the way we do business," agency spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise Dyck said.

She would not comment further on whether the report would be declassified.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has also sent a letter to Goss requesting the report's declassification. An aide declined to provide a copy of the correspondence.

A spokeswoman for the Senate committee's top Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, said he supports Roberts' request.

Such bids for disclosure could put Goss in a tight spot. As a chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he helped lead a congressional inquiry into the attacks and requested the inspector general's investigation. However, a public report could attract more negative attention to the agency, which has come under fire for 9/11 and the prewar intelligence on Iraq.

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Venezuela's Chavez wants UN out of United States
By Irwin Arieff
Thu Sep 15, 8:17 PM ET

UNITED NATIONS - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez used the United Nations on Thursday to fire a broadside at the United States, saying the world body should move out of New York over the war in Iraq.

In a speech to the U.N. world summit, he also said the United States had failed its own people in its response to Hurricane Katrina, accused Washington of fueling terrorism and faulted it for its doctrine of pre-emptive military strikes.

"Today we know there were never weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but despite that, and going over the head of the United Nations, Iraq was bombed and occupied. So the United Nations must be pulled out of the United States," Chavez said.

The three-day New York summit was convened to mark the United Nations' 60th birthday by laying out a plan for multilateral action in the new century on terrorism, human rights, development, peacebuilding and U.N. management reform.

Chavez branded the plan "illegal" for failing to respect anti-poverty goals set by a U.N. summit in 2000 and said the United Nations instead needed drastic overhaul.

"The United Nations has outlived its model. It's not just a question of bringing about reform. The 21st century requires profound changes," he said.

Among changes he advocated were expansion of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council, which has global authority over matters of international peace and security; strengthening the role of the secretary-general, and eliminating the council veto granted the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France.

Chavez noted bitterly that U.S. television evangelist Pat Robertson, a strong supporter of President George W. Bush who called for Washington to assassinate him, remained a free man. Robertson later apologized for his remark.

"This is an international crime, terrorism," Chavez said.

Ties between the United States and Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, have been cool since Chavez came to power in 1998, ushering in social reforms and forging close ties with communist Cuba.

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Chavez: U.S. Plans to Invade Venezuela
Sat Sep 17, 3:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday he has documentary evidence that the United States plans to invade his country.

Chavez, interviewed on ABC's "Nightline," said the plan is called "Balboa" and involves aircraft carriers and planes. A transcript of the interview was made available by "Nightline."

He said U.S. soldiers recently went to Curacao, an island off Venezuela's northwest coast. He described as a "lie" the official U.S. explanation that they visited Curacao for rest and recreation.

"They were doing movements. They were doing maneuvers," Chavez said, speaking through a translator.

He added: "We are coming up with the counter-Balboa plan. That is to say if the government of the United States attempts to commit the foolhardy enterprise of attacking us, it would be embarked on a 100-year war. We are prepared." [...]

To prove U.S. intentions to invade Venezuela, Chavez offered to send "Nightline" host Ted Koppel maps and other documentation.

"What I can't tell you is how we got it, to protect the sources, how we got it through military intelligence," he said.

In the event of a U.S. invasion, Chavez said the United States can "just forget" about receiving any more oil from his country.

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Chavez Revolts in UN: I will Speak as much as Bush
By Anadolu News Agency (aa)
Published: Saturday, September 17, 2005

The speech by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in United Nations General Assembly on Thursday turned into an anti-American show.

Chavez, who defined the US as a "terrorist state" in his speech, said Washington does not respect the UN General Assembly resolutions and asked the organization, therefore, to leave this country.

Venezuelan president reminded some suggested Jerusalem as the new place for the UN headquarters; he received high applause in the middle of his speech.

As the world leaders were asked to speak for five minutes and when Chavez kept talking, the presiding diplomat passed him a note that his time was up.

The Venezuelan leader threw the note on the floor and said, "If Bush could speak for 20 minutes at Wednesday's opening session, so can I," and spoke for 20 minutes. At the end, Chavez's remarks got the loudest applause of the summit.

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President Chavez's Speech to the United Nations
By: President Hugo Chavez

Your Excellencies, friends, good afternoon:

The original purpose of this meeting has been completely distorted. The imposed center of debate has been a so-called reform process that overshadows the most urgent issues, what the peoples of the world claim with urgency: the adoption of measures that deal with the real problems that block and sabotage the efforts made by our countries for real development and life.

Five years after the Millennium Summit, the harsh reality is that the great majority of estimated goals - which were very modest indeed - will not be met.

We pretended reducing by half the 842 million hungry people by the year 2015. At the current rate that goal will be achieved by the year 2215. Who in this audience will be there to celebrate it? That is only if the human race is able to survive the destruction that threatens our natural environment.

We had claimed the aspiration of achieving universal primary education by the year 2015. At the current rate that goal will be reached after the year 2100. Let us prepare, then, to celebrate it.

Friends of the world, this takes us to a sad conclusion: The United Nations has exhausted its model, and it is not all about reform. The XXI century claims deep changes that will only be possible if a new organization is founded. This UN does not work. We have to say it. It is the truth. These transformations – the ones Venezuela is referring to - have, according to us, two phases: The immediate phase and the aspiration phase, a utopia. The first is framed by the agreements that were signed in the old system. We do not run away from them. We even bring concrete proposals in that model for the short term. But the dream of an ever-lasting world peace, the dream of a world not ashamed by hunger, disease, illiteracy, extreme necessity, needs-apart from roots - to spread its wings to fly. We need to spread our wings and fly. We are aware of a frightening neoliberal globalization, but there is also the reality of an interconnected world that we have to face not as a problem but as a challenge. We could, on the basis of national realities, exchange knowledge, integrate markets, interconnect, but at the same time we must understand that there are problems that do not have a national solution: radioactive clouds, world oil prices, diseases, warming of the planet or the hole in the ozone layer. These are not domestic problems. As we stride toward a new United Nations model that includes all of us when they talk about the people, we are bringing four indispensable and urgent reform proposals to this Assembly: the first; the expansion of the Security Council in its permanent categories as well as the non permanent categories, thus allowing new developed and developing countries as new permanent and non permanent categories.

The second; we need to assure the necessary improvement of the work methodology in order to increase transparency, not to diminish it.

The third; we need to immediately suppress - we have said this repeatedly in Venezuela for the past six years - the veto in the decisions taken by the Security Council, that elitist trace is incompatible with democracy, incompatible with the principles of equality and democracy.

And the fourth; we need to strengthen the role of the Secretary General; his/her political functions regarding preventive diplomacy, that role must be consolidated. The seriousness of all problems calls for deep transformations. Mere reforms are not enough to recover that "we" all the peoples of the world are waiting for. More than just reforms we in Venezuela call for the foundation of a new United Nations, or as the teacher of Simón Bolívar, Simón Rodríguez said: "Either we invent or we err."

At the Porto Alegre World Social Forum last January different personalities asked for the United Nations to move outside the United States if the repeated violations to international rule of law continue. Today we know that there were never any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The people of the United States have always been very rigorous in demanding the truth to their leaders; the people of the world demand the same thing. There were never any weapons of mass destruction; however, Iraq was bombed, occupied and it is still occupied. All this happened over the United Nations. That is why we propose this Assembly that the United Nations should leave a country that does not respect the resolutions taken by this same Assembly. Some proposals have pointed out to Jerusalem as an international city as an alternative. The proposal is generous enough to propose an answer to the current conflict affecting Palestine. Nonetheless, it may have some characteristics that could make it very difficult to become a reality. That is why we are bringing a proposal made by Simón Bolívar, the great Liberator of the South, in 1815. Bolívar proposed then the creation of an international city that would host the idea of unity.

We believe it is time to think about the creation of an international city with its own sovereignty, with its own strength and morality to represent all nations of the world. Such international city has to balance five centuries of unbalance. The headquarters of the United Nations must be in the South.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are facing an unprecedented energy crisis in which an unstoppable increase of energy is perilously reaching record highs, as well as the incapacity of increase oil supply and the perspective of a decline in the proven reserves of fuel worldwide. Oil is starting to become exhausted.

For the year 2020 the daily demand for oil will be 120 million barrels. Such demand, even without counting future increments - would consume in 20 years what humanity has used up to now. This means that more carbon dioxide will inevitably be increased, thus warming our planet even more.

Hurricane Katrina has been a painful example of the cost of ignoring such realities. The warming of the oceans is the fundamental factor behind the demolishing increase in the strength of the hurricanes we have witnessed in the last years. Let this occasion be an outlet to send our deepest condolences to the people of the United States. Their people are brothers and sisters of all of us in the Americas and the rest of the world.

It is unpractical and unethical to sacrifice the human race by appealing in an insane manner the validity of a socioeconomic model that has a galloping destructive capacity. It would be suicidal to spread it and impose it as an infallible remedy for the evils which are caused precisely by them.

Not too long ago the President of the United States went to an Organization of American States' meeting to propose Latin America and the Caribbean to increase market-oriented policies, open market policies - that is neoliberalism - when it is precisely the fundamental cause of the great evils and the great tragedies currently suffered by our people: The neoliberal capitalism, the Washington Consensus. All this has generated is a high degree of misery, inequality and infinite tragedy for all the peoples on his continent.

What we need now more than ever Mr. President is a new international order. Let us recall the United Nations General assembly in its sixth extraordinary session period in 1974, 31 years ago, where a new International Economic Order action plan was adopted, as well as the States Economic Rights and Duties Charter by an overwhelming majority, 120 votes for the motion, 6 against and 10 abstentions. This was the period when voting was possible at the United Nations. Now it is impossible to vote. Now they approve documents such as this one which I denounce on behalf of Venezuela as null, void and illegitimate. This document was approved violating the current laws of the United Nations. This document is invalid! This document should be discussed; the Venezuelan government will make it public. We cannot accept an open and shameless dictatorship in the United Nations. These matters should be discussed and that is why I petition my colleagues, heads of states and heads of governments, to discuss it.

I just came from a meeting with President Néstor Kirchner and well, I was pulling this document out; this document was handed out five minutes before - and only in English - to our delegation. This document was approved by a dictatorial hammer which I am here denouncing as illegal, null, void and illegitimate.

Hear this, Mr. President: if we accept this, we are indeed lost. Let us turn off the lights, close all doors and windows! That would be unbelievable: us accepting a dictatorship here in this hall.

Now more than ever - we were saying - we need to retake ideas that were left on the road such as the proposal approved at this Assembly in 1974 regarding a New Economic International Order. Article 2 of that text confirms the right of states to nationalizing the property and natural resources that belonged to foreign investors. It also proposed to create cartels of raw material producers. In the Resolution 3021, May, 1974, the Assembly expressed its will to work with utmost urgency in the creation of a New Economic International Order based on - listen carefully, please - "the equity, sovereign equality, interdependence, common interest and cooperation among all states regardless of their economic and social systems, correcting the inequalities and repairing the injustices among developed and developing countries, thus assuring present and future generations, peace, justice and a social and economic development that grows at a sustainable rate."

The main goal of the New Economic International Order was to modify the old economic order conceived at Breton Woods.

We the people now claim - this is the case of Venezuela - a new international economic order. But it is also urgent a new international political order. Let us not permit that a few countries try to reinterpret the principles of International Law in order to impose new doctrines such as "pre-emptive warfare." Oh do they threaten us with that pre-emptive war! And what about the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine? We need to ask ourselves: Who is going to protect us? How are they going to protect us?

I believe one of the countries that require protection is precisely the United States. That was shown painfully with the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina; they do not have a government that protects them from the announced nature disasters, if we are going to talk about protecting each other; these are very dangerous concepts that shape imperialism, interventionism as they try to legalize the violation of the national sovereignty. The full respect towards the principles of International Law and the United Nations Charter must be, Mr. President, the keystone for international relations in today's world and the base for the new order we are currently proposing.

It is urgent to fight, in an efficient manner, international terrorism. Nonetheless, we must not use it as an excuse to launch unjustified military aggressions which violate international law. Such has been the doctrine following September 11. Only a true and close cooperation and the end of the double discourse that some countries of the North apply regarding terrorism, could end this terrible calamity.

In just seven years of Bolivarian Revolution, the people of Venezuela can claim important social and economic advances.

One million four hundred and six thousand Venezuelans learned to read and write. We are 25 million total. And the country will - in a few days - be declared illiteracy-free territory. And three million Venezuelans, who had always been excluded because of poverty, are now part of primary, secondary and higher studies.

Seventeen million Venezuelans - almost 70% of the population - are receiving, and for the first time, universal healthcare, including the medicine, and in a few years, all Venezuelans will have free access to an excellent healthcare service. More than a million seven hundred tons of food are channeled to over 12 million people at subsidized prices, almost half the population. One million gets them completely free, as they are in a transition period. More than 700 thousand new jobs have been created, thus reducing unemployment by 9 points. All of this amid internal and external aggressions, including a coup d'etat and an oil industry shutdown organized by Washington. Regardless of the conspiracies, the lies spread by powerful media outlets, and the permanent threat of the empire and its allies, they even call for the assassination of a president. The only country where a person is able to call for the assassination of a head of state is the United States. Such was the case of a Reverend called Pat Robertson, very close to the White House: He called for my assassination and he is a free person. That is international terrorism!

We will fight for Venezuela, for Latin American integration and the world. We reaffirm our infinite faith in humankind. We are thirsty for peace and justice in order to survive as a species. Simón Bolívar, founding father of our country and guide of our revolution swore to never allow his hands to be idle or his soul to rest until he had broken the shackles which bound us to the empire. Now is the time to not allow our hands to be idle or our souls to rest until we save humanity.

Translated by Néstor Sánchez

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Fadi Madi and the Suppression of Muslim and Arab Thought
By Genevieve Cora Fraser

He resides in Lebanon, deported from his adopted home in Germany.  Though the injustice of his arrest and deportation has been cleared by a German Court, he continues to live in a forced separation from his German wife. He once was a prosperous businessman, today his resources are dwindling and his health is deteriorating. His name is Fadi Madi.  What was his crime?  He attempted to organize an open conference in his adopted country, Germany, to discuss the problems now facing the Muslim and Arab world.

Yes, the Thought Police are alive and well and living throughout the world.  The target du jour is the Muslim-Islamic and Arab point of view.  Examples are wide-spread and growing of persecution and even arrest for raising money for Islamic-based charities that deal with the plight of displaced and occupied Arab populations, writings that expose the injustice, and most taboo of all – discussion involving resistance tactics that attempt to secure a just peace.  Fadi Madi was captured within the oppressor's drag-net as part of the so-called global war on terrorism.  He now fears for his life though he prides himself on saving lives, not plotting to take them.

Yes, Fadi Madi is not alone in his dilemma.  Not too long ago I attended a supper of the New England chapter of Sabeel, the organization of Ecumenical Liberation Theology which boasts Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and a host of other main-stream religious affiliations.  Under discussion was their last conference, held in Massachusetts, where they were turned into Homeland Security for daring to discuss the horrors associated with the Occupation of Palestine and peaceful resistance tactics such as divestment from Israel.  In that instance no-one was arrested, perhaps because conference attendees included WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) of prominence in their communities.  Yes, even in America where free speech is a guarantee, intimidation tactics are rampant and growing.

Last year I wrote an article that began, "Like a carrier pigeon landing on my windowsill, Fadi Madi suddenly appeared in my in-box bearing an urgent message with the subject heading: ‘Struggle with Fadi Madi.'"  On September 14, 2005, I received another email but this time it was from his wife, Rabia, asking me to write a follow-up article.

The original message I received a year ago was addressed "TO ALL MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS FREEDOM FIGHTERS - ANTI WAR MOVMENTS - PEACE HUMANITY JUSTICE MOVMENTS."  According to the email, Fadi Madi had planned and advertised an Arab-Islamic conference in Berlin (Germany) and for this activity was arrested, detained, severely beaten and sent back to his native country Lebanon, despite his German citizenship based on his marriage to a German wife.  I had no knowledge of Fadi Madi prior to the email and to this day have no idea how he obtained my email address.  But after conducting a Google media search I was impressed by his credentials as someone who had managed the release of several Japanese captured by resistance forces in Iraq, and so I decided to further publicize his plight.

   It was clear that the title of his conference, "International Movement against American and Zionist Globalization and Supremacy" had triggered his downfall.  I also discovered an interesting article published by The Daily Star out of Beirut.  "The Web site for the conference posts the declaration of what it calls the Berlin Call 2004, describing American and Israeli occupation of Arab land as terrorist and barbaric," Cilina Nasser, the reporter for the Daily Star reported.  "We say a clear and loud 'no' to colonialism, slavery, Zionism, racism, imperialism and American hegemony," said the Call. "We say a clear and loud 'yes' to the liberation of all occupied territories and countries struggling against the American-Zionist hegemony and occupation," it stated.  "Although the statement mentions a call for establishing a ‘worldwide popular resistance movement for freedom and independence and for a just peace,' it does not specify the methods of such a resistance and whether it supports a military campaign to fulfill its goals," Nasser stated.  "The Call also aims at establishing an Islamic-European dialogue to secure and strengthen the rights of Arab and Muslim communities in Europe.

According to Fadi's German wife, Rabia, she recently was made aware of my article as it appeared in the online newspaper, Scoop NZ last October.  In her first email to me she wrote, "I am his wife, still waiting, that he may come back after even our highest court decided, that he didn't do anything wrong and criminal and that he is no terrorist.  But that is not enough for politicians and what they (are) doing at the moment is to refuse the Court appointment in his case to come back.  It was said, not before 2006." 

Rabia wrote that "he is still sitting in Beirut and waiting and cannot work or do anything. Still he tries to raise his voice for the oppressed but he is himself in bad condition now.  With this he is not alone in our western societies. Just in Germany they are not following the law anymore. They are fighting Muslims wherever they can. Close schools, send people away who didn't do any wrong. But that is the old racism in this country nothing more."

Rabia Madi is German by birth and converted to Islam eight years ago.  She married Fadi about five years ago.  "I was political active in my young years until I realized that it is a dirty business," she emailed me.  She wrote that for many years she "lived a typical life of successful businesswoman and spent a lot of money, not thinking much about others."   

Mrs. Madi was a real estate agent.  It was from this perspective that she came to realize that her fellow Germans are not ready for foreigners and still afraid of what they perceive to be strange things and cultures. "It is very difficult to find a landlord who accepts a colored person or foreign person from Africa, Afro-Americans or people from Turkey. Most people want only Germans in their flats," she commented.

According to Rabia, "The racism in Germany as well as anti-Semitism is very high."  It is her belief that racism in her country "is more the fear of foreign culture."  This attitude makes her feel ashamed.  But before she converted to Islam, before she "came to know from this side many different people from different cultures I was the same. I didn't know much about others and I didn't think at all about problems in Palestine or elsewhere. I just didn't know," she wrote. "Now I know that there are many different cultures, but when you come to know a single person from any place in this world, we all have the same ideas, little problems or wishes as everyone in this world. We are not really that different."

She went on to explain that in Germany there are many people who have emigrated from Turkey to find work, but they have no chance to truly integrate into German society because even when it comes to finding a home they are relegated to the worst flats which "no German would take."  But what is worse they are forced to pay a lot of money for rent.  As a result ghettos developed. But as long as they lived there without causing any trouble, "it was ok. We say here ‘Ahmed my vegetable seller may stay, the others can go home.'  Rabia claims that typically Germans have only accepted foreigners as workers.  This has held true even when it involved a professor from the "Max Planck Institute or a manager from big firm, it was the same.  Even from states of European Union, from Italy or Spain.  Now at least that has changed a bit, because no one wants to tell, that he doesn't want any foreigner, even Europeans," she wrote.  "But still some people make advertisement, that they only want German tenants, although that is forbidden."

Rabia noted that when she first became a Muslim she spoke openly about Islam and was engaged in activities in the years 1998 to 2000.  At that time she believed that people were interested in hearing about the religion and of people from other cultures and many participated in multicultural events.  It was possible to wear a hijab and to walk freely on streets without encountering people who responded to her with angry looks. However, as has been said so many times, "after 9/11 it changed a lot.  In the first weeks and months after that, it was really dangerous to go as a woman alone with hijab."  Eventually things got better.  "But now people look angry at you, they don't accept Muslims anymore."  She now wonders if the former openness was merely a pretense, otherwise how could such a change occurred?

"It is frustrating to see, that all attempts to start dialogue was just worth nothing.  It was only on the surface, that people seemed to change, to learn about foreigners and to accept them," Rabia stated.  "What before was not possible to say in public about foreigners, is now all possible, if they are not Jewish. Judges who should be neutral just tell you that they are against foreigners.  I had some policemen who had been looking for flats, but only houses without foreigners there.  This would be incredible for other countries, but in Germany it will never change I guess," she admitted. "It is the same problem as we had before. We only thought it has changed, but that is not true."  Today it is possible again to state clearly that you don't like foreigners.  Rabia believes this is due to the media and the politicians who create fear of foreigners.  "But it is not only against Muslims I would say. It is the same for Africans, for Serbs, Croatians etc."

         As for her 44 year old husband, Fadi Madi, he was the chairman of the trade company ULFIT, United Lebanese Finance and International Trade and spent many years working from Kuwait and later from the USA, first in Michigan, then New York.  He dealt with financial interests of large trade companies in financing business between companies and countries.  His last projects had been "in preparation between a government and bank about a big area for hotels at the seaside of that country, an electrician factory in Sudan and a hospital in an African country."  He had tried to find a bank in Europe for the projects, but they involved long term negotiations.  "All has stopped through that act from Germany," Fadi's wife charged. "Also the trust is damaged of course, because his clients don t know what is the truth."

Fadi had also worked from Switzerland, Sweden, Kuwait, and France as well as the United States before he came to Germany.

"He is Muslim, but very open minded and correct with everyone," Rabia said in defense of her husband.  "He is straight in his opinion and not belonging to any group. There had been offers from different groups and states to work for them, but he never gave up his responsibility for his own mind and actions.  He pays a high price for that, but he wouldn't change that." Rabia believes that it was Fadi's independence that positioned him to successfully negotiate for the release of the Japanese held hostage in Iraq.  "But he never made big thing out of this," she wrote.

"Now to the case of my husband," Rabia continued.  "Fadi was living in NY as a financial broker before we got married. He was a businessman.  I didn't want to live in the USA so he came to Germany."  After arriving in Germany he started his company but never forgot his people in South Lebanon, the place of his birth and wanted to help as much as he could while remaining outside of Lebanon.  After Israel left South Lebanon he even was asked to run for parliament, but it didn't work and he came back to Germany. He was in business with Arab financial projects, for example big projects to built infrastructure in African countries or hospitals and those things.  But after 9/11 it was not possible for him to work in this field, because no one wanted to invest in Arab countries or vise versa no Arab wanted to keep his money in UK or USA.  So it was quite a hard time, but he is one who never complains and so he spent more time for the struggle in Palestine and later in Iraq," Rabia stated.

Fadi took part in many conferences and meetings around the world and from this experience came up with a plan to organize a "congress."  The conference was to have taken place last year in Germany, Rabia wrote.  He even believed that German politicians would support him.  Rabia admits that his thinking was naive.  The case against him developed from a media attack on the conference orchestrated by the Jewish Simon Wiesenthal Centre and their request to Germany's Interior Minister to stop the congress, because "it would only be a meeting of terrorists.  There had been some politicians and activists and well known people who wanted to join," but the minister used that politically, she claimed.

"They stopped him at the airport and didn't allow him to enter Germany. They didn't allow him to see a lawyer, who was waiting in airport and they treated him bad.  Fadi also has serious health problems which were made worse by his detention. "He had no witnesses to prove that all what he said afterwards was like that, but we know, that the police in airport treats foreigners very bad. We had even some cases where people died there.  He is a very straight person, so he didn't accept to stop his activities and political work and they expelled him," Rabia stated.  "My husband did all this not as a Muslim, but as an activist for peace. He is Muslim but not a fundamentalist."  Rabia claims that his fault is that he doesn't understand German and he hadn't sufficiently realized that the mood in Germany had changed and that Muslims and Arabs no longer had "good cards" to play in such an atmosphere. 

The day after Fadi was detained at the airport, German officials prohibited the congress from opening, despite the fact that the other organizers had already canceled it.  Some wanted to start a criminal investigation against him.  "But our highest court decided, that his website didn't contain any criminal parts," furthermore the attorney general was not permitted to start a criminal investigation and was forbidden to search in his personal things and papers. Although our highest court found him innocent, he is still in Lebanon because the court, who has to decide in foreigner affairs whether he may come back" has informed them that a decision will not be made this year. "The German law says clearly, that he has the right to come to his wife," she claimed.  "But they just put the case away to let him wait.  We tried to get him in as an urgent case because we need to live together and because he needs medical treatment. The judge refused that and told us that this even would make him think not to let him in anymore because of his health, because he only would use the social system.  But we are paying a lot of money for this social system and it is our right to use it, as the judge will do himself."

"We have a lot of illegal police actions in mosques every week now. Secretly police tell us that it only done to show action and those mosques who fight against in court still get the answer it was illegal, but that doesn't help and media only report about the actions not that it was wrong."  Rabia also claims that though he was exonerated by the highest court, following the court decision, no statement has been forthcoming that Fadi Madi is innocent, that he did no wrong, and that he is not a terrorist.

As politicians score their political points no one concerns themselves about the fate of innocent people who are affected by the racism, Rabia complained.  It is not only hard for her to be separated from her husband, "he cannot work or do anything from there. He cannot travel to any European state."  His personal life has for all intents and purposes been stopped.  Today many foreigners have been sent out "without reasons and asked to fight" against it from outside. "This costs a lot of money and many lawyers say we cannot take the case."


Following his wife's emails, Fadi contacted me to say that what happened to him at the Berlin and Frankfurt airports has made him so wary he is afraid to step outside in Beirut even to buy cigarettes.  He fears that the Israeli Mossad is after him and may want to kill him.  This fear is based on what happened to him due to his defense of the Palestinian and Iraqi people, he claims.  He is still very shaken by the incident and asks how in Europe and especially in Germany he could have been made to endure such horrific treatment.

Fadi asserts that they first took "my holy book Koran from my hand and they put (it) under the feet of the inhuman lady who issued the statement to send me back to Lebanon… after (that) they did all bad things to me on my way to Beirut to take off all my clothes and keep me naked in 10-degree temperature in a very cold room at the airport."  According to Fadi they treated him like an animal and forced him to collect his clothes by his teeth.  He was told that he could return to Germany if he made the statement that "there is no occupation in Iraq and Palestine.  Madi states that authorities at the airport allowed agents from Mossad and the US Army to investigate and hurt him "to drop me more then 6 times from the chair to the floor… I ask to see or talk with any lawyer but they refuse even to (let me) talk with my wife."

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Franco-US 'misunderstanding' is over

PARIS, Sept 18 - The "misunderstanding" that has clouded Franco-US relations for the past three years is "behind us," the American ambassador to Paris told a Sunday newspaper here.

"There was a misunderstanding with France and the French," Craig Stapleton told Le Journal du Dimanche in remarks published in French, adding that he was "sure that all that is behind us."

"It is true that our two governments have economic and political disagreements, but the coordination and work done together have helped overcome the differences," he told the weekly, noting the French offer of aid to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

France and the United States "have the same values and the same interests," said the envoy, who took up his post in July.

French President Jacques Chirac led international opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

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German coalition struggle begins
Germany is facing weeks of political uncertainty after Sunday's election failed to produce a clear winner.

Coalition talks will begin later this month - but neither of the main parties is enthusiastic about the idea of uniting in a "grand coalition".

Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) got 35.2%, only three seats more than their main rivals.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has refused to admit defeat after his Social Democrats (SPD) got 34.3%.

Both he and Mrs Merkel say they have a mandate to be chancellor.

Mrs Merkel urged the SPD on Monday to "accept that they are not the strongest party" and enter talks on forming a broad coalition under her leadership.

But SPD chairman Franz Muentefering insisted that Mr Schroeder had won the voters' trust and called on other parties - apart from the new Left - to build a new SPD-led coalition.

Pre-election opinion polls had suggested that Mrs Merkel would be the clear winner.

The BBC's William Horsley in Berlin says a CDU-SPD "grand coalition" could lead to instability or gridlock as the two sides differ sharply over how to revive Germany's economic fortunes.

Economic gloom

Investors' dismay was reflected in the markets on Monday, with Frankfurt's benchmark Dax index losing 2% in early trading, and the euro down more than 1% against the US dollar.

The campaign was dominated by concerns about the sluggish economy and high unemployment.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso urged German leaders on Monday to "find as soon as possible a stable solution for Germany", because "without a dynamic Germany, Europe cannot recover".

Mrs Merkel voiced disappointment with the result, but insisted she was still on course to become the country's first woman chancellor.

Meanwhile, Mr Schroeder said he could not understand how the CDU "stakes a claim to political leadership from a disastrous election result".

Coalition options

The CDU's intended coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), did well with 9.8%, giving them 61 seats. But that is not enough to secure a joint majority.

German political experts are poring over a host of other possible coalitions.

The Left party, newly formed from disenchanted SPD members and former communists, took 8.7% (54 seats), and the Greens, Mr Schroeder's coalition partner, won 8.1% (51 seats).

Turnout was 77.7%.

Results from a final seat in the city of Dresden will be decided on 2 October, although that will not tip the balance of power.

Voting was delayed there because of the death of a candidate.

There is speculation about a possible "traffic light" coalition - never tried before - between the SPD, Greens and the FDP.

FDP leader Guido Westerwelle ruled that out on Sunday, but he could face pressure to reconsider.

Meanwhile, a new left-wing coalition of the SPD, Greens and Left party looks unlikely, commentators say.

A coalition deal must be reached before 18 October, the deadline for the new parliament to sit and choose a new chancellor.

If there is no deal, the only way out would be a fresh election.

The CDU slumped from a 20-point lead in opinion polls when Mr Schroeder called an early election about six weeks ago.

Germany's President, Horst Koehler, will be called on to assist in the painful business of putting a coalition together.

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Shoreline Spotted on Saturn's Moon Titan
Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
Sat Sep 17, 5:00 PM ET

The idea of a large sea on Saturn's moon Titan was all but ruled out after the Cassini mission found no evidence early in its mission.

But a new image shows what scientists think is a shoreline with bays and channels feeding liquid into a possible sea.

Scientists have long speculated that Titan might contain liquid methane or other hydrocarbons. The chemistry resembles prebiotic Earth, but Titan lacks liquid water. Nonetheless, earlier this month another group of researchers speculated that Titan might actually harbor life today.

"This radar data is among the most telling evidence so far for a shoreline," said Steve Wall, radar deputy team leader from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The image, released Friday, shows a distinct division between a bright and apparently rough region and and dark and smooth area.

"This is the area where liquid or a wet surface has most likely been present, now or in the recent past," Wall said. "Titan probably has episodic periods of rainfall or massive seepages of liquid from the ground."

"We also see a network of channels that run across the bright terrain, indicating that fluids, probably liquid hydrocarbons, have flowed across this region," said Dr. Ellen Stofan, Cassini associate radar team member from Proxemy Research in Laytonsville, Md.

Combined with other radar images taken on previous Cassini passes of Titan, scientists have identified two distinct types of drainage features. One type is long and deep, suggesting fluids flowing over long distances. Another is in a denser network that suggests rainfall.

"It looks as though fluid flowed in these channels, cutting deeply into the icy crust of Titan," said Larry Soderblom with the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz. "Some of the channels extend over 100 kilometers [60 miles]. Some of them may have been fed by springs, while others are more complicated networks that were likely filled by rainfall."

More imaging is planned on future passes by the icy moon.

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Meteoric encounters of the seventh kind
From Kalyan Ray
September 17, 2005

New Delhi - Two months before Janmashtami, a fireball from the sky fell on the farm of Mubeen in Bhuka village in west Rajasthan.

Being a blind, Mubeen, son of Ramdhan Sindhi, could not see the fireball, caused by a meteorite, but the event on June 25 was witnessed by his family - members who saw a flash of light and cracking sound. The bright tail was seen from Jodhpur, 110 km north-east from Bhuka.

Next day, the meteorite was retrieved from the fields and handed over to police. A further search could not find out any more fragments.

The story could have ended there had it not been for two Jodhpur-based researchers, Dr K L Srivastava and Dr J Swadia from J N V University, who also caught a glimpse of the trail.

They contacted other planetary scientists to find out answers of a puzzling phenomenon - why on earth the meteorites prefer a small area in western Rajasthan as starting from 1991, there were seven observed fall of meteorites in the same zone.

"This looks to me as very significant. Earlier I used to think that it is statistical variation but every new meteorite centred around Jodhpur, makes me think that there is something unusual," Dr Narendra Bhandari, who has just retired from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad after shaping the scientific goals for India's moon mission and analysed the meteorite events, told Deccan Herald.

The other six meteorites fell in the zone at Didwana (August 12, 1991), Lohawat (October 30, 1994), Devri Khera (October 30, 1994), Piplia Kalan (June 20, 1996), Itawa Bhopji (May 30, 2000) and Bhawad (June 6, 2002).

Since only about 126 falls have been observed all over India in the past two centuries, this frequency of fall - one in every two years - in a small area of Rajasthan is anomalously high. In comparison, only eight falls have been reported from the rest of India during the past 15 years,

A major difference on June 25 last was that the meteorite was an iron meteorite with high iron content, unlike the six previous meteorites which were stony.

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Man builds up 30,000 volts of static electricity
Friday, September 16, 2005. 12:18pm (AEST)

Victorian authorities believe a man built up at least 30,000 volts of static electricity in his jacket simply by walking around the western Victorian city of Warrnambool yesterday.

The man left a trail of scorch marks and molten plastic behind him.

It was yesterday afternoon when Frank Clewer walked into a Warrnambool business and got his first shock.

"It sounded almost like a firecracker or something like that," he said.

"It was at the reception area. Within say, around five minutes, the carpet started to erupt," he said.

Burns the size of 10-cent pieces were left on the carpet where Mr Clewer had been standing.

The Country Fire Authority evacuated the building and those around it, fearing the power could cause larger electrical problems.

But Mr Clewer's worries continued when he got back in his car.

"I actually scorched a piece of plastic I had on the floor of the car," he said.

Scientist Karl Kruszelnicki says it is likely the electrical build-up was caused by a number of factors, such as the synthetic clothes the man was wearing.

"This poor guy has built up static electricity thanks to an unfortunate combination of insulating clothes that he's wearing, static, synthetic clothes, just walking along and he's just building up this static charge everywhere," Dr Kruszelnicki said.

"I've read of it but I've never heard of it here in Australia."

The CFA has Mr Clewer's jacket and says it is continuing to give off voltage.

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Early morning temblor rattles Santa Cruz, Santa Clara counties
Mercury News

A minor earthquake shook Santa Cruz County and also was felt in Santa Clara County just after midnight Sunday, according to U.S. Geological Survey spokeswoman Stephanie Hanna.

The 3.1-magnitude earthquake was centered 6 miles north of Boulder Creek, just 15 miles south of San Jose City Hall.

An aftershock with a magnitude of 1.2 hit the area at 4:56 a.m.

The earthquake occurred in an area that is hit frequently by minor earthquakes and is in the San Andreas Fault zone, Hanna said.

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NEW! 9/11: The Ultimate Truth is Available for Pre-Order!

On the fourth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Laura Knight-Jadczyk announces the availability of her latest book:

In the years since the 9/11 attacks, dozens of books have sought to explore the truth behind the official version of events that day - yet to date, none of these publications has provided a satisfactory answer as to WHY the attacks occurred and who was ultimately responsible for carrying them out.

Taking a broad, millennia-long perspective, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's 9/11: The Ultimate Truth uncovers the true nature of the ruling elite on our planet and presents new and ground-breaking insights into just how the 9/11 attacks played out.

9/11: The Ultimate Truth makes a strong case for the idea that September 11, 2001 marked the moment when our planet entered the final phase of a diabolical plan that has been many, many years in the making. It is a plan developed and nurtured by successive generations of ruthless individuals who relentlessly exploit the negative aspects of basic human nature to entrap humanity as a whole in endless wars and suffering in order to keep us confused and distracted to the reality of the man behind the curtain.

Drawing on historical and genealogical sources, Knight-Jadczyk eloquently links the 9/11 event to the modern-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also cites the clear evidence that our planet undergoes periodic natural cataclysms, a cycle that has arguably brought humanity to the brink of destruction in the present day.

For its no nonsense style in cutting to the core of the issue and its sheer audacity in refusing to be swayed or distracted by the morass of disinformation that has been employed by the Powers that Be to cover their tracks, 9/11: The Ultimate Truth can rightly claim to be THE definitive book on 9/11 - and what that fateful day's true implications are for the future of mankind.

Published by Red Pill Press

Scheduled for release on October 1, 2005, readers can pre-order the book today at our bookstore.

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