Wednesday, September 21, 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

Bush Has No Exit Plan for Iraq, Say Americans
Angus Reid
September 20, 2005

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Many adults in the United States think George W. Bush has not formulated an explicit strategy for bringing an end to the coalition effort in Iraq, according to a poll by the New York Times and CBS News. 72 per cent of respondents believe their president has not developed a clear plan for getting American troops out of Iraq.

The coalition effort against Saddam Hussein's regime was launched in March 2003. At least 1,899 American soldiers have died during the military operation, and more than 14,300 troops have been injured.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - regarded as al-Qaeda's top commander in Iraq - has reportedly carried out several attacks and kidnappings. Iraqi officials estimate that 116 Iraqi forces and 346 Iraqi civilians were killed in the first 17 days of September in bombings, drive-by-shootings and other violent incidents.

Last month, Bush ruled out removing American soldiers from Iraq, declaring, "An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations. So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror." 32 per cent of respondents believe all U.S. troops should be removed from Iraq, while 27 per cent urge for a reduction in the number of soldiers.

On Sept. 18, British defence minister John Reid said the country would be willing to increase its 8,500-soldier contingent in Iraq, saying, "We don't need (more troops) at the moment, but if that's necessary, of course we would do that. There's no quitting and running, we're there until the job is done."

Comment: British leaders may not want to quit and run, but the false flag operations conducted by their intelligence folks certainly leave something to be desired. 007 would not be impressed:

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Iraq police militants 'must go'
Wednesday, 21 September 2005
BBC News

"Rogue elements" in Iraq's police force must be rooted out, the head of the multi-national force in Basra has said.

Colonel Bill Dunham told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he wants to work with Iraqi authorities "to weed them out".

This comes after the British Army said it had to rescue two of its soldiers after they were arrested in Basra and handed to Shia militants by police.

UK defence chief John Reid is to discuss Basra tensions when he meets Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari.

Chief of staff Col Dunham told BBC News of the need to "reinforce the good parts" of Iraq's police service.


Iraqi interior minister Baqir Solagh Jabr has disputed the British military's account of how it freed the captured soldiers on Monday.

He told BBC News the men never left police custody or the prison building in Basra, were not handed to militants and that the British Army acted on "rumour" when it stormed the prison looking for them.

The army says it rescued the soldiers from a house in Basra where they were taken by militants after the police ignored an order from the interior ministry to release them.

The Iraqi government has launched an inquiry into events surrounding the arrest of the soldiers, both thought to be members of the SAS elite special forces.

Iraq's national security advisor, Muwafaq al-Rubaie has admitted security forces and police in "many parts of Iraq" had been penetrated by insurgents.

He told the BBC's Newsnight programme Iraq now had "a very scrupulous, very meticulous vetting procedure" to "clean our security forces, as well as stop any penetration in future from the insurgents or the terrorists".

He conceded he did not know the extent of the infiltration.

But he criticised the use of force in British operation to free the captured soldiers, saying: "They could have been freed in a much more peaceful, much more friendly and amicable way than that."

Tory MP Desmond Swayne, a territorial army officer who has served in Iraq, welcomed the recognition that the police had been infiltrated, saying: "We did all know it was going on."

"There has to be a much more concerted effort to purge the security forces and to ensure that they are properly trained."

Mazin Younis, chairman of the Iraqi League in Britain, described Monday's operation as a "mess".

He told BBC News: "We are an occupying force in Basra. We took authority. We have been there enjoying a couple of years of quiet, no insurgency.

"There wasn't a single reconstruction project in Basra. People... put a lot of faith in us. But we offered them nothing, absolutely nothing. And now we have started dealing with them as an enemy."

Comment: Ah yes, the sanitization of the news. Yesterday, in the initial hours after the event, several reports cited the fact that the two British agents wore full Arab dress, were driving a car full of explosives, and shot dead two Iraqi policemen. Today the story has been effectively spun in such a way as to present the Iraqi police as the bad guys.

What seems to be clear now is that the two British agents were on a covert mission to plant a "suicide car bomb" when they were apprehended by Iraqi police who were just fulfilling their specified role of attempting to stop such attacks. When cornered, the British agents shot two policemen and were then arrested.

Naturally, the British government was extremely concerned that these two men not be interrogated and risk the exposure of the reality of who is behind many of the terror attacks in Iraq (and by implication many other so called terror attacks around the world).

So, the British military spin machine went into action.

By claiming that the men had been handed over to "insurgents" the British military could plausibly claim that men needed to be "rescued" rather than face the consequences of their actions. The fact that the Iraqi interior minister has made it clear that this claim is completely untrue and that the men were being held by official Iraqi authorities the entire time appears to be irrelevant to most mainstream news outlets. Of course, this is merely more evidence for the fact that the mainstream media CANNOT be trusted and that the discerning news readers would do well to look elsewhere, to those news sites that are not comprised by their allegiance to 'big business' or 'big government', for their daily dose of reality.

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Who's Blowing Up Iraq? 

New evidence that bombs are being planted by British Commandos 
By Mike Whitney

"The Iraqi security officials on Monday variously accused two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or TRYING TO PLANT EXPLOSIVES." - Washington Post, Ellen Knickmeyer, 9-20-05; "British Smash into Jail to Free Two Detained Soldiers" 

In more than two years since the United States initiated hostilities against Iraq, there has never been a positive identification of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. 


That doesn't mean that he doesn't exist; it simply suggests that prudent people will challenge the official version until his whereabouts and significance in the conflict can be verified. 

At present, much of the rationale for maintaining the occupation depends on this elusive and, perhaps, illusory figure. It's odd how Al-Zarqawi appears at the precise coordinates of America's bombing-raids, and then, miraculously vanishes unscathed from the scene of the wreckage. This would be a remarkable feat for anyone, but especially for someone who only has one leg. 

Al-Zarqawi may simply be a fantasy dreamed up by Pentagon planners to put a threatening face on the Iraqi resistance. The Defense Dept has been aggressive in its effort to shape information in a way that serves the overall objectives of the occupation. The primary aim of the Pentagon's "Strategic Information" program is to distort the truth in a way that controls the storyline created by the media. Al-Zarqawi fits perfectly within this paradigm of intentional deception. 

The manipulation of information factors heavily in the steady increase of Iraqi casualties, too. Although the military refuses "to do body counts"; many people take considerable interest in the daily death toll. 

Last week, over 200 civilians were killed in seemingly random acts of violence purportedly caused by al-Zarqawi. But, were they? 

Were these massive attacks the work of al-Zarqawi as the western media reports or some other "more shadowy" force? 

One member of the Iraqi National Assembly. Fatah al-Sheikh, stated, "It seems that the American forces are trying to escalate the situation in order to make the Iraqi people suffer.. There is a huge campaign for the agents of the foreign occupation to enter and plant hatred between the sons of the Iraqi people, and spread rumors in order to scare the one from the other. The occupiers are trying to start religious incitement and if it does not happen, then they will try to start an internal Shiite incitement." 

Al-Sheikh's feelings are shared by a great many Iraqis. They can see that everything the US has done, from the of forming a government made up predominantly of Shi'ites and Kurds, to creating a constitution that allows the breaking up to the country (federalism), to using the Peshmerga and Badr militia in their attacks on Sunni cities, to building an Interior Ministry entirely comprised of Shi'ites, suggests that the Pentagon's strategy is to fuel the sectarian divisions that will lead to civil war. Al-Zarqawi is an integral facet of this broader plan. Rumsfeld has cast the Jordanian as the agent-provocateur; the driving force behind religious partition and antagonism. 

But, al-Zarqawi has nothing to gain by killing innocent civilians, and everything to lose. If he does actually operate in Iraq, he needs logistical supporting all his movements; including help with safe-houses, assistants, and the assurance of invisibility in the community. ("The ocean in which he swims") These would disappear instantly if he recklessly killed and maimed innocent women and children. 

Last week the Imam of Baghdad's al-Kazimeya mosque, Jawad al-Kalesi said, that "al-Zarqawi is dead but Washington continues to use him as a bogeyman to justify a prolonged military occupation... He's simply an invention by the occupiers to divide the people." Al-Kalesi added that al-Zarqawi was killed in the beginning of the war in the Kurdish north and that "His family in Jordan even held a ceremony after his death." (AFP) 

Most Iraqis probably agree with al-Kalesi, but that hasn't deterred the Pentagon from continuing with the charade. This is understandable given that al-Zarqawi is the last tattered justification for the initial invasion. It's doubtful that the Pentagon will ditch their final threadbare apology for the war. But the reality is vastly different from the spin coming from the military. In fact, foreign fighters play a very small role in Iraq with or without al-Zarqawi. As the Center for Strategic and International Studies 
(CSIS) revealed this week in their report, "Analysts and government officials in the US and Iraq overstated the size of the foreign element in the Iraqi insurgency.. Iraqi fighters made up less than 10% of the armed groups' ranks, perhaps, even half of that."
The report poignantly notes that most of the foreign fighters were not previously militants at all, but were motivated by, "revulsion at the idea of an Arab land being occupied by a non-Arab country." 

The report concludes that the invasion of Iraq has added thousands of "fresh recruits to Osama bin Laden's network;" a fact that is no longer in dispute among those who have studied the data on the topic. 

The al-Zarqawi phantasm is a particularly weak-link in the Pentagon's muddled narrative. The facts neither support the allegations of his participation nor prove that foreigners are a major contributor to the ongoing violence. Instead, the information points to a Defense establishment that cannot be trusted in anything it says and that may be directly involved in the terrorist-bombings that have killed countless thousands of Iraqi civilians. 

Regrettably, that is prospect that can't be ignored. After all, no one else benefits from the slaughter. 

(Note: Since this article was written, the Washington Post has added to our suspicions. In an Ellen Knickmeyer article "British Smash into Iraqi Jail to free 2 detained Soldiers" 9-20-05, Knickmeyer chronicles the fighting between British forces and Iraqi police who were detaining 2 British commandos. "THE IRAQI SECURITY OFFICIALS ON MONDAY VARIOUSLY ACCUSED THE TWO BRITONS THEY DETAINED OF SHOOTING AT IRAQI FORCES or TRYING TO PLANT EXPLOSIVES." 

Is this why the British army was ordered to "burst through the walls of an Iraqi jail Monday in the southern city of Basra".followed by "British armored vehicles backed by helicopter gun-ships" ending in "hours of gun battles and rioting in Basra's streets"? (Washington Post) 

Reuters reported that "half a dozen armored vehicles had smashed into the jail" and the provincial governor, Mohammed Walli, told news agencies that the British assault was "barbaric, savage and irresponsible." 

So, why were the British so afraid to go through the normal channels to get their men released? 

Could it be that the two commandos were "trying to plant explosives" as the article suggests? 

An interview on Syrian TV last night also alleges that the British commandos "were planting explosives in one of the Basra streets". 

"Al-Munajjid] In fact, Nidal, this incident gave answers to questions and suspicions that were lacking evidence about the participation of the occupation in some armed operations in Iraq. Many analysts and observers here had suspicions that the occupation was involved in some armed operations against civilians and places of worship and in the killing of scientists. But those were only suspicions that lacked proof. The proof came today through the arrest of the two British soldiers while they were planting explosives in one of the Basra streets. This proves, according to observers, that the occupation is not far from many operations that seek to sow sedition and maintain disorder, as this would give the occupation the justification to stay in Iraq for a longer period. 

[Zaghbur] Ziyad al-Munajjaid in Baghdad, thank you very much. Copyright Syrian Arab TV and BBC Monitoring, 2005" 

And then there was this on Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, 9-19-05: Interview with Fattah al-Shaykh, member of the National Assembly and deputy for Basra. 

"The sons of Basra caught two non-Iraqis, who seem to be Britons and were in a car of the Cressida type. It was a booby-trapped car laden with ammunition and was meant to explode in the centre of the city of Basra in the popular market. However, the sons of the city of Basra arrested them. They [the two non-Iraqis] then fired at the people there and killed some of them. The two arrested persons are now at the Intelligence Department in Basra, and they were held by the National Guard force, but the British occupation forces are still surrounding this department in an attempt to absolve them of the crime." 

Copyright Al Jazeera TV and BBC Monitoring, 2005 (Thanks to Michel Chossudovsky at Global Research for the quotes from Al Jazeera and Syrian TV) 

Does this solve the al-Zarqawi mystery? Are the bombs that are killing so many Iraqi civilians are being planted by British and American Intelligence? 

We'll have to see if this damning story can be corroborated by other sources.

Comment: As we noted on yesterday's Signs page, the two Britons appear to be SAS agents. Whitney asks perhaps the most important question: Who benefits? As he points out, the elusive al-Zarqawi certainly does not benefit from slaughtering women and children. The US and British governments do benefit. When you add in the poorly planned and executed London bombings that bore the marks of MI5, you are left with one big mess that clearly gives the game away for those who are paying attention.

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Flashback: How US fuelled myth of Zarqawi the mastermind

By Adrian Blomfield outside Fallujah

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader believed to be responsible for the abduction of Kenneth Bigley, is 'more myth than man', according to American military intelligence agents in Iraq.

Several sources said the importance of Zarqawi, blamed for many of the most spectacular acts of violence in Iraq, has been exaggerated by flawed intelligence and the Bush administration's desire to find "a villain" for the post-invasion mayhem.

US military intelligence agents in Iraq have revealed a series of botched and often tawdry dealings with unreliable sources who, in the words of one source, "told us what we wanted to hear".

"We were basically paying up to $10,000 a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq," the agent said.

"Back home this stuff was gratefully received and formed the basis of policy decisions. We needed a villain, someone identifiable for the public to latch on to, and we got one." [...]

Comment: With this information, it is certainly disingenuous for any commentator to claim or assume that Western intelligence agencies were unaware of the fact that they were getting bogus information or that a "failure of intelligence" was the issue.

It is obvious that, at least in the upper echelons of such agencies, it was no secret that the 'intelligence information' about alleged terrorists such as al-Zarqawi was completely false, yet it served their purposes to present it as fact. After all, by now no one should be in any doubt that fooling the masses is the main agenda of Western "democratic" governments.

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Iraq images shock Britain, but Blair is safe
By Peter Graff
20 Sep 2005 16:00:34 GMT

LONDON - A burning British soldier scrambles out of his flaming tank as angry Iraqis hurl rocks and petrol bombs. The striking images from Basra are splashed across the front page of nearly every British newspaper.

A few months ago British Prime Minister Tony Blair might have suffered the fallout. Now, safely re-elected for a third and final term, the war in Iraq can no longer bring him down.

"The pictures are very dramatic, and I think it's possible for opponents of the government to get some mileage.

But it will not shake the government," said Wyn Grant, professor of politics at Warwick University in Britain. "The election is over." But it can still change the way history remembers Blair.

London says it will keep its 8,500 troops in Iraq as long as they are needed and the Iraqi government wants them there.

Comment: Since the US is really the occupying power in Iraq, what London really means is that it will keep its 8,500 troops in Iraq as long as the Bush government wants them there.

But the signs are that Britain's Iraq adventure is in its endgame. A leaked memo signed by Defence Secretary John Reid in July envisioned bringing most of them home over the next year.

London has also promised to take control of a NATO force in Afghanistan next year, and most military experts expect its Iraq operation would have to be reduced to free up the forces.

Political analysts say the British prime minister will not want history to recall he abandoned the country he chose to invade, nor to leave his likely successor in a fix over Iraq.

"It does effect his legacy adversely. Because then people will associate his premiership with Iraq first and foremost," said Grant at Warwick University.

Blair is expected to hand over to his heir apparent, Finance Minister Gordon Brown, some time in the next 2 to 3 years, and analysts say both would be keen to have the troops home safely before the transition.

"(Otherwise) it creates a difficult situation for Gordon Brown to inherit, which I don't think Blair wants to do." From British officials, the message is: nothing has changed.

"The strategy continues to work toward the creation of a fully democratic Iraq," Blair's spokesman said.

"British armoured vehicles being attacked by a violent crowd, including with petrol bombs, makes graphic television viewing," Britain's commander on the ground, Brigadier John Lorimer, said in a statement.

"But this was a small unrepresentative crowd: 200-300 in a city of 1.5 million." Iraq experts said the riots in Iraq on Monday, which occurred during an operation to free two British soldiers Britain said were held by militia, show the situation in cities under British control is far worse than London has so far acknowledged.

"A myth had been perpetrated that the Brits are great and everything's OK in Basra. But the softly-softly approach was not nation-building," said Toby Dodge, an Iraq analyst at Queen Mary's College, University of London.

Comment: Note how no mention is made in this Reuters article about the "soldiers" being dressed in Arab clothing, firing at civilians, or using a civilian car packed full of explosives.

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Extended tours of some US military units eyed in Iraq: Pentagon
Mon Sep 19, 1:56 PM ET

WASHINGTON - US military planners are considering extended tours of duty for some units in Iraq if more US troops are needed for the upcoming elections there, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Lawrence DiRita, the defense department's chief spokesman, said it was "entirely possible" commanders would want to boost the force in Iraq beyond its current level of 140,000.

"And I guess the thinking at the moment is, if we did need more and it was based on rotations, how would that work?" he said.

"And what would the impact be on units that might wind up getting extended a week or two beyond their one year?"

DiRita denied, however, that the reassessment of force levels was prompted by a surge in suicide bombings that have killed more than 200 civilians in Iraq over the past week.

"That's not a good way to determine how good or bad things are, by how many things are exploding," he told reporters.

Comment: So, by DiRita's reasoning, a country could be routinely devastated by multiple bomb attacks that kill numerous civilians, and that could actually mean that things are going well in that nation...

"It's a bigger, sort of expansive understanding of where do we have forces that are particularly capable and where do we want to bolster those forces," he said.

Planners are looking at extending the tours of some units to avoid situations in which they would be handing over their duties to inexperienced relief units during the election period, he said.

Commanders have warned of escalating violence ahead of the October 15 referendum on Iraq's bitterly contested constitution, which is supposed to be followed by national elections on December 15.

Pentagon officials indicated in August that US force levels in Iraq could go up to as high as 160,000 during the election period.

But Lieutenant General John Vines, the number two commander in Iraq, on September 2 told reporters that more Iraqi security forces were trained and ready for this election than the last. He said 140,000 US troops was "about right."

Those forces include two battalions of the 82nd Airborne Division that were ordered deployed to Iraq last month for four months to help beef up security for the elections.

Vines spoke as the US military at home was swinging into action in response to Hurricane Katrina amid intense criticism of the slow federal response to the disaster in New Orleans and the gulf coast.

The numbers of US troops deployed for the Katrina disaster duty has since begun to come down. From a high of 72,000, they were down to 54,000 on Monday, Pentagon officials said.

DiRita insisted, however, that there was no connection between US force levels in Iraq and the US Gulf coast. [...]

Rumsfeld has since ordered a study of the lessons learned from Katrina that will consider, among other things, a greatly expanded military role in domestic disasters of that magnitude.

"I think one of the principle lessons is that in a disaster of a certain scale, there is no other department of government that can provide the resources and the planning and the advanced thinking than this department," DiRita said.

Comment: After the military has "saved" the US from a few disasters or terror attacks under the direction of some General Honore-type characters, it will be easy to slip them into the local law enforcement role.

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Galloway's Frankness Invigorates, Shocks Americans 
By John Nichols
Capital Times

Americans who are familiar only with the almost always empty words - and often empty heads - of this country's political leaders can be a little shocked by George Galloway's pronouncements. 

The British parliamentarian, who came of age in the brawling political landscape of his native Scotland, where a quick wit and a savage debating style are prerequisites for electoral success, does not mince words in the manner that most American pols do.

Consider Galloway's statement in response to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath:

"The scenes from the stricken city almost defy belief. Many, many thousands of people left to die in what is the richest, most powerful country on Earth. This obscenity is as far from a natural disaster as George Bush and the U.S. elite are from the suffering masses of New Orleans. The images of Bush luxuriating at his ranch and of his secretary of state shopping for $7,000 shoes while disaster swamped the U.S. Gulf Coast will haunt this administration.

In the most terrible way imaginable they show to the whole world that it is not only the lives of people in Baghdad, Fallujah and Palestine that Bush holds cheap. It is also his own citizens - the black and poor people left behind with no food, water or shelter. This is not simply manslaughter through incompetence, though the White House's incompetence abounds. It is murder - for Bush was warned four years ago of the threat to New Orleans, as surely as he was warned of the disaster that would come of his war on Iraq...

His is the America of Halliburton, the M-16 rifle, the cluster bomb, the gated communities of the rich and of the billionaires he grew up with in Texas. There is another America. It is the land of the poor of Louisiana, it is the land of the young men and women economically conscripted into the military. It is the land of the glorious multiethnic mix that was New Orleans, it is the land of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and of great struggles for justice."

That's not exactly a politically correct response to the crisis, at least not in George Bush's America of muted debate and sappy bipartisanship. But it is one that will ring true with a significant proportion of the American population, as have Galloway's pronouncements with regard to the war in Iraq.

Galloway, who will appear at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Wisconsin Union Theater on the UW-Madison campus, became an instant hero to many opponents of the U.S. occupation of Iraq when the previously little-known member of the British Parliament flew to Washington to appear before the Senate's Permanent Committee on Investigations.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., a headline-grabbing conservative who is trying to position himself for a presidential run, had accused Galloway and other European figures of opposing the Iraq war because they had received "oil for food" program kickbacks from Saddam Hussein. In fact, Galloway had successfully challenged the same accusations in Britain and gone on to win a stunning victory in that country's May 5 election. So Galloway jumped at the chance to go before Coleman's committee, which he did in a remarkable May 17 appearance.

After rebutting Coleman's charges - "Mr. Chairman, I am not now, nor have I ever been an oil trader, and neither has anyone been on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one, and neither has anybody on my behalf." - Galloway turned the tables on his accuser, tearing into the senator with a fiery attack on the war and its proponents:

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed 1 million Iraqis, most of them children. Most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to be born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies," Galloway informed the fool on Capitol Hill.

I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaida. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end but merely the end of the beginning.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong, and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies."

Coleman couldn't get out of the hearing room quick enough. The senator had met more than his match, and he quickly changed topics.

For his part, Galloway was stunned by Coleman's lack of preparation for the confrontation.

"The senator's performance was pitiful, embarrassing. He did not know the first thing about the matters he was raising," says Galloway, who has clashed with some of the ablest legislators on the planet. "When I was told that Mr. Norm Coleman has presidential ambitions, I thought: I fear for America. I fear for the world. This man is not prepared to be a senator, let alone the leader of the most powerful country in the world."

If Galloway was dismayed by the quality of American politicians, he was heartened by the response of the American people. He received more than 20,000 e-mails from Americans in just the first few days after his appearance before the committee. So high was the interest that he has now penned a book on the incident, "Mr. Galloway Goes to Washington" (The New Press), and his tour this month of the U.S. is drawing unprecedented crowds. (More than 1,000 people attended his debate this week in New York with war backer Christopher Hitchens.)

Galloway is enjoying the chance to expound on his views before American audiences, even if he is sometimes frustrated by the determination of his critics to paint him as the Beast of Britain.

He laughs at the claim that he is a "friend" of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, noting that he met Hussein only twice - "exactly the same number of times that (Secretary of Defense) Donald Rumsfeld met him," Galloway notes. "The difference," he adds, "is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns."

Galloway's impression of Saddam is far more nuanced than that of American politicians or commentators. But his is hardly a favorable view.

"I found him to be a man who is capable of rational and irrational actions, which I think is the nature of dictatorship," he explained.

To accusations that his militant opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq means that he supports terrorism, Galloway responds that he is opposed to the killing of innocents by any group or any means - "be it a suicide bomber or a bomb dropped from an airplane flying overhead." He rejects the notion that the United States or Great Britain ought to decide whether the insurgents in Iraq are "legitimate" representatives of popular sentiment in that country, arguing instead, "It is the height of imperialism to suggest that the Iraqi insurgency is legitimate or illegitimate."

What he will suggest, however, is that the only way to sort out the mess in Iraq is for occupying forces to exit the country. To those who tell him that withdrawal of foreign troops would lead to chaos, Galloway replies, "From what I see, there is quite a lot of chaos there now."

That's Galloway. Quick of wit and unapologetic, he is the antidote to the American politician.

After being expelled from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party, he formed a new party, Respect, and then beat one of Blair's closest allies in parliament. He decries the stilted debate and the "corrupt duopoly" of American politics, which sees many Democrats echoing the lines of a Republican president.

But Galloway takes his anti-imperialism seriously. When asked whether he thinks American war foes should work within the two major parties or go the independent or third-party route, he says, "It's not for me to say whether you need a new party in the United States. We determined in Britain that an alternative was needed. What I can say is that the whole world has suffered because the debate in the United States has been inadequate. One of the reasons I am here is to stir it up."

That George Galloway will surely do.

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times.

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The Gitmo Hunger Strikers

Let Them Die or Let Them Go
September 20, 2005

I have a word of advice I would like to offer Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon chieftains who currently preside over the 200 or more hunger-strikers at Guantanamo Bay, 20 of whom are near death. For God's sake, let them die.

What more could you possibly want from them?

They've already provided you with the subjects you needed for your newly-perfected sense-deprivation techniques and your sadistic methods of torture. They supplied you with the lab-rats for your new drugs, your improved methods of psychological torment, and your sexually-deviant abuses. Now, let them die. The experiment is over. Show that there is some speck of humanity left in your withered heart by allowing these men to pass away with dignity; the dignity you deprived them of in life.

The hunger-strike has been going on for 6 weeks. That means that a considerable number of the prisoners are undergoing the latter phases of physical deterioration. Many are probably vomiting blood by now and too weak to either walk or stand on their own. Their liver and kidney-functions have begun to fail and their vision has begun to weaken; putting additional pressure on the heart to continue working while the body is slowly devouring itself.

Let them die.

If the Pentagon allowed the media to visit Guantanamo, they would see the emaciated, skeletal victims of Bush's war on terror, the proof that America now oversees Nazi-like death camps. But, the media has shown little interest in the suffering of the prisoners even though it is widely acknowledged that many were randomly rounded up by warlords in Afghanistan and ransomed to the Americans.

So far, only one newspaper in the country, "The Minnesota Daily", has spoken out on behalf of the prisoners on their editorial page. The newspaper stated:

"While morality and ethics are abstract ideas, justice is more concrete, hence why there are laws. Guantanamo and the actions that have been taken by our government against the detainees violate the Geneva Convention, the Bill of Rights, and our Constitution. Justice is not merely a conditional idea."

The Minnesota Daily is the solitary voice in the media-wilderness to defend the essential rights of these casualties in Bush's war, but with little effect. Washington's justice has nothing to do with mercy or rehabilitation, but with punishment alone.

There won't be any cameras or journalists at Guantanamo. The face that America sees is the tan-and-rested visage of President Fraudster offering his soothing commentary on another part of the globe destroyed by his recklessness. The pictures of Bush's dungeons are left on the cutting-room floor with the other unflattering footage of American brutality. That certainly won't change now.

The prisoners follow in the long tradition of hunger-strikers from Gandhi to Bobby Sands. Their demands are simple. They want the ability to challenge the terms of their imprisonment in court.

That's it; the most basic of all human rights, to be informed of the crime for which they are being held and the opportunity to defend themselves against those charges. It's a right that they are entitled to under international law, but have been denied by Washington.

The Pentagon has done nothing to address the inmates' demands and steadfastly refuses to meet with their leaders. Instead, they have taken the low-road by hand-cuffing and putting leg-irons on the sickliest and force-feeding them intravenously or through nose-drips.

Let them die.

The United States has established itself well-beyond the rule of law; a rogue state that refuses to comply with even the minimal standards of decency required under the Geneva Conventions. Guantanamo Bay is the administration's ultimate achievement; a torture-gulag devoted to the cruel and inhuman treatment of its enemies; an icon to lawlessness and savagery.

The administration now asserts its power over death itself; a final means of humiliating its victims and perpetuating their suffering. Rumsfeld's feeding-tubes are the last slim thread that tethers these men to a lifetime of detention, abuse, and hopelessness. Let them die or let them go!

Mike Whitney can be reached at:

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The People with the Blood-Soaked Hands

Will Neocon Fanaticism Destroy America?
September 20, 2005

The "cakewalk war" is now two and one-half years old. US casualties (dead and wounded) number 20,000. As 20,000 is the number of Iraqi insurgents according to US military commanders, each insurgent is responsible for one US casualty.

US troops in Iraq number about 150,000. Obviously, US troops have not inflicted 150,000 casualties on the Iraqi insurgents. US troops have perhaps inflicted 150,000 casualties on the Iraqi civilian population, primarily women and children who are the "collateral damage" of the "righteous" and "virtuous" US invasion that is spreading civilian deaths all over Mesopotamia in the name of democracy

What could the US have possibly done to give America a worse name than to invade Iraq and murder its citizens?

According to the September 1 Manufacturing & Technology News, the Government Accounting Office has reported that over the course of the cakewalk war, the US military's use of small caliber ammunition has risen to 1.8 billion rounds. Think about that number. If there are 20,000 insurgents, it means US troops have fired 90,000 rounds at each insurgent.

Very few have been hit. We don't know how many. To avoid the analogy with Vietnam, until last week the US military studiously avoided body counts. If 2,000 insurgents have been killed, each death required 900,000 rounds of ammunition.

The combination of US government owned ammo plants and those of US commercial producers together cannot make bullets as fast as US troops are firing them. The Bush administration has had to turn to foreign producers such as Israel Military Industries. Think about that. Hollowed out US industry cannot produce enough ammunition to defeat a 20,000 man insurgency.

US military analysts are beginning to wonder if the US has been defeated by the insurgency. Increasingly, Bush administration spokesmen sound like "Baghdad Bob." On September 19 the Washington Post reported that US military spinmeister Major General Rich Lynch declared "great success" against the insurgency that had just inflicted the worst casualties of the war, including a three-day mortar attack on the "safe" Green Zone.

Anthony Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, says: "We can't secure the airport road, can't stop the incoming (mortar rounds) into the Green Zone, can't stop the killings and kidnappings." The insurgency controls most of Baghdad and the Suni provinces.

With its judgement lost to frustration, the US military has 40,000 Iraqis in detention--twice the number of estimated insurgents. Who are these detainees? According to the Washington Post, "Many of the men detained in Tall Afar last week were rounded up on the advice of local teenagers who had stepped forward as informants, at times for what American soldiers said they suspected amounted to no more than settling local scores."

Obviously, the US, not knowing who or where the insurgents are, is just striking blindly, creating a larger insurgency.

The Iraq government, despite being backed by the US military, is unable to control movements across the Iraqi - Syrian border. So the Bush administration has passed the buck to Syria. Puny Syria is declared guilty of not doing what the US military cannot do.

Adam Ereli, the demented US State Department spokesperson, denounced the Syrian government for "permitting" insurgents to cross the border. The US government cannot prevent a steady stream of one million Mexicans from illegally crossing its border each year, but Syria is supposed to be able to stop a couple hundred foreign fighters from sneaking across its border.

Ereli misrepresents Syria's inability to be "an unwillingness" which indicates that Syria is consorting with terrorists, not only in Iraq, but also in Lebanon and Palestine. Does this sound like Syria being set up for invasion?

According to news reports, at Ted Forstmann's annual meeting of movers and shakers last weekend, US Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, predicted that US troops will soon enter into Syria. Simultaneously, the Bush administration is desperately trying to orchestrate a case that it can use to attack Iran.

Stalemated in Iraq, the White House moron intends to attack two more countries.

At the Human Rights Conference on September 9, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, described Americans as "people with blood-soaked hands."

"Who are the terrorists," asked Mahathir, the Iraqis or the Americans?

The entire world is asking this question.

Paul Craig Roberts has held a number of academic appointments and has contributed to numerous scholarly publications. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. His graduate economics education was at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at:

Comment: 900,000 rounds per dead "insurgent"... The two primary possibilities that come to mind here are that either US forces have killed a lot more than 2,000 "insurgents", or they have in fact killed only 2,000 Iraqis, and their aim is so bad that it simply defies belief.

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Dodging the Costs of the Warfare State 
By Norman Solomon 

The New York Times began this week with an editorial that typifies the media mind-set of the warfare state. 

Monday's editorial warns of dire consequences from a growing deficit that has been boosted by tax cuts -- in combination with "the pre-Katrina priorities laid down by Mr. Bush." Those priorities include a U.S. military budget that has reached half a trillion dollars per year. But the Times editorial does not devote a single word to military spending or the Iraq war. 

Why not mention the option of an American pullout from Iraq, where the U.S. war effort has already drained $200 billion from taxpayers? Well, those who determine editorial positions at the New York Times -- and the other major newspapers in the country -- cannot bring themselves to call for a quick end to the U.S. military role in Iraq. 

Fierce criticism of White House policies is routinely compatible with support for militarism. When the Times condemned the Bush administration's handling of hurricane relief in a Sept. 2 editorial, the final paragraph included this unequivocal sentence: "America clearly needs a larger active-duty Army." 

Now, fiscal conservatives in Congress are squawking about what federal expenditures for the Gulf Coast will do to the deficit. Contradictions between humane rhetoric and death-machine spending are more glaring than ever. The domestic economic toll of U.S. militarism should be on the table -- not swept under the rug. 

The people of the United States are far ahead of politicians in Washington and top editors in the New York Times building. On Saturday, the Times reported the results of a poll it had just completed in tandem with CBS News. Nationwide support for the Iraq war has fallen to an all-time low. ("Only 44 percent now say the United States made the right decision in taking military action against Iraq.") And the survey also found: "With Hurricane Katrina already costing the federal government tens of billions of dollars, more than 8 in 10 Americans are very or somewhat concerned that the $5 billion being spent each month on the war in Iraq is draining away money that could be used in the United States." 

The enormous financial burden of continuing with U.S. military intervention in Iraq is an issue that could be devastating for the right-wing zealots who now hold state power along Pennsylvania Avenue. But liberal elites who refuse to call for swift withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq -- whether congressional leaders of the Democratic Party or members of the New York Times editorial board -- are in no position to hammer on that issue. 

The public should be hearing, much more often, the kind of insights that were expressed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953: "Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron." 

It's up to the antiwar movement to directly address the connections between war spending and economic distress that the latest Times/CBS poll says are matters of concern for more than 80 percent of the public. Along the way, the largesse for the Pentagon's corporate contractors can be put in the context of militarism that is killing many Americans and many more Iraqis. This moment in history offers a crucial opportunity to widen opposition to the Iraq war -- and the entire warfare state. 

Norman Solomon is the author of the new book "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death." For information, go to:

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Former White House Official Arrested

Former Administration Official Charged With Concealing Ties to Lobbyist Jack Abramoff
Associated Press Writer
Sep 19, 2005

WASHINGTON -  A former Bush administration official was arrested Monday on charges he made false statements and obstructed a federal investigation into his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to court documents and government officials.

David Safavian, then-chief of staff of the General Services Administration and a former Abramoff lobbying associate, concealed from federal investigators that Abramoff was seeking to do business with GSA when Safavian joined him on a golf trip to Scotland in 2002, according to an FBI affidavit and the officials.

At the time, FBI agent Jeffrey A. Reising said in the affidavit, a lobbyist identified separately as Abramoff had enlisted Safavian's help in trying to gain control of 40 acres of land at the Federal Research Center at White Oak in Silver Spring, Md., for a private high school that Abramoff helped establish and supported.

For his part, Safavian edited a letter the lobbyist was preparing to send to GSA, and arranged and attended a meeting involving a GSA official, the lobbyist's wife and others to discuss leasing the property, the affidavit said.

Abramoff told his wife to use her maiden name at the meeting because Safavian sought to play down Abramoff's involvement, the affidavit said, citing an e-mail from Abramoff.

Safavian was given clearance to go on the August 2002 golf trip after telling GSA's ethics officer that the lobbyist "has no business before GSA," the affidavit said.

Nine people, including Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, made the trip and played golf on the fabled Old Course at St. Andrews. Safavian paid $3,100 for the travel, "in the exercise of discretion," he said, as quoted in the affidavit. The total cost was more than $100,000, the affidavit said.

Safavian moved to the Office of Management and Budget last year, becoming the administration's top procurement official. He resigned that post, effective Friday, OMB spokesman Alex Conant said.

No one answered the phone at a listing for Safavian in Alexandria, Va. [...]

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Iran to have nuclear bomb in six months, says Israel
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem and Rupert Cornwell in Washington
21 September 2005

Israel is seeking to rally international support for a tough United Nations stand against Iran's nuclear ambitions with a warning that it could have the knowledge to produce a nuclear bomb "within six months".

As Israel tried to stiffen resolve among the members of the International Atomic Energy Agency who are meeting in Vienna, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urged the US to take the lead in ensuring Iran was brought before the UN Security Council "as soon as possible".

Mr Sharon told Fox News that Iran was "afraid of a Security Council meeting and sanctions that might be taken against them".

Mr Sharon appeared to indicate that Israel was not contemplating a unilateral military strike on a nuclear plant in Iran, of the sort it carried out on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. While acknowledging that Israel cannot "live with" Iran as a nuclear military power, he added: "I don't think [it] is the sole responsibility of Israel. I think this only can be an international pressure on Iran."

But Mr Sharon underscored the urgency of concerted international pressure on Iran by declaring that when Iran solved "technical problems" in developing a nuclear weapon "we then will reach a point of no return". Without giving evidence, Sylvan Shalom, Israel's Foreign Minister, implied that it could be as early as next year. He told a meeting of Jewish leaders in New York: "According to our people, security and intelligence, they are very, very close. It may be only six months before they will have that full knowledge." [...]

Comment: Would this evidence-less claim about Iran's nuclear weapons be anything like the Israeli, US and British government's claims about Saddam having WMDs?

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Russia opposes EU move against Iran
Wednesday 21 September 2005

Russia has opposed an EU draft that seeks to have Iran referred to the UN Security Council and warned against escalating the standoff with Tehran

The European Union turned up the pressure on Iran with a draft resolution on Wednesday reporting Tehran's nuclear programme to the United Nations Security Council.

The draft recommends that the Security Council urge Iran to allow the IAEA to inspect any sites it wants to visit, whether or not Iran is legally bound to do so.

It also wants the council to tell Iran to resume both talks with the EU and a freeze of sensitive nuclear work that Tehran ended last month.

Russia and China have, however, said the UN nuclear watchdog can handle the issue.

Russian warning

Russia, which as a permanent, veto-wielding member of the Council could block any action, warned against antagonising Iran.

"While Iran is cooperating with the IAEA, while it is not enriching uranium and observing a moratorium, while IAEA inspectors are working in the country, it would be counter-productive to report this question to the UN Security Council," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted on Wednesday as saying.

"It will lead to an unnecessary politicising of the situation. Iran is not violating its obligations and its actions do not threaten the non-proliferation regime," he said in a speech in San Francisco reported by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Russia is building a $1 billion nuclear reactor for Iran and sees it as a key ally in the Middle East.

Big Three

"The Russians are blocking the resolution," said a diplomat from one of the EU Big Three countries - France, Britain and Germany. "If we don't get them on board, or at least abstain, I don't think our resolution will be voted on."

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator reacted angrily, warning that Tehran might pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and resume uranium enrichment if reported.

"If you use the language of force Iran will have no choice but to ... leave the framework of the NPT ... and to resume enrichment," Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told a news conference.

But Vice President and head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran Gholamreza Aghazadeh said on the sidelines of the IAEA meeting that Iran was not considering withdrawing from the treaty.

"Leaving the NPT is not on the agenda," he said.

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Rita Upgraded to Category 3 Hurricane
Associated Press
September 21, 2005

KEY WEST, Fla. - Residents of the Florida Keys exhaled after Hurricane Rita largely spared the island chain, while those in Texas and already-battered Louisiana fretted the strengthening storm could become a Katrina-esque monster and target them by week's end.

Rita was upgraded to a Category 3 storm early Wednesday with 115 mph winds and forecasters said it could further intensify, sparking an order for mandatory evacuations in New Orleans and Galveston, Texas.

Federal officials told Gulf Coast residents to begin bracing for a blockbuster storm. "Up and down the coastline, people are now preparing for what is anticipated to be another significant storm," President Bush said.

Acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison told reporters that the agency has aircraft and buses available to evacuate residents of areas the hurricane might hit. Rescue teams and truckloads of ice, water and prepared meals were being sent to Texas and Florida.

"I strongly urge Gulf coast residents to pay attention" to the storm, he said.

Stung by criticism of the government's slow initial response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush signed an emergency declaration for Florida and spoke with Texas Gov. Rick Perry about planning for the storm's landfall.

Rita created relatively few problems along the Keys, where thousands of relieved residents who evacuated are expected to begin returning in earnest on Wednesday.

During daytime hours, several stretches of the Keys highway, U.S. 1, were barricaded because of water and debris; by nightfall, only one small problem area remained and the entire highway was passable, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

There were reports of localized flooding, and some sections of the Lower Keys were still without power early Wednesday. But the storm's raging eye did not hit land.

"It was fairly nothing," said Gary Wood, who owns a bar in Marathon, about 45 miles northeast of Key West. "It came through and had a good stiff wind, but that was about it."

In Key Colony Beach, an oceanfront island off Marathon, Mayor Clyde Burnett said a restaurant and hotel were damaged by water and wind, but that widespread problems simply didn't arrive as expected.

Visitors ordered out of the Keys will be invited back Friday, and virtually all other voluntary evacuation orders in South Florida were lifted after Rita roared past.

Now, all eyes following Rita are turning toward the Gulf - where the hurricane is causing new anxiety among Katrina victims in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

At 2 a.m. EDT, Rita's eye was about 145 miles west of Key West. The storm was moving west at 14 mph - a track that kept the most destructive winds at sea and away from Key West.

"There's still plenty of warm water that it needs to move over in the next couple days. The forecast is favorable for further intensification," said Michelle Mainelli, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.

Those were words that Gulf coast residents certainly did not want to hear. Even those who had survived major hurricanes were getting ready to leave, not wanting to challenge Rita's potential wrath or cling to hope that they'd be spared in the same manner the Keys were.

"Destination unknown," said Catherine Womack, 71, who was boarding up the windows on her one-story brick house in Galveston. "I've never left before. I think because of Katrina, there is a lot of anxiety and concern. It's better to be safe than sorry."

About 80 buses were set to leave the city Wednesday bound for shelters 100 miles north in Huntsville. The buses were part of a mandatory evacuation ordered by officials in Galveston County, which has a population of nearly 267,000. [...]

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Hurricane Center May Run Out of Names
By Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 19 September 2005 12:15 pm ET

Before the 2005 hurricane season is done, you might read about Hurricane Alpha.

Each year, 21 common names are reserved for Atlantic Basin hurricanes, with the list arranged alphabetically and skipping certain letters. Rita is the 17th named storm in the Atlantic Basin this year. There are only four left.

So what will officials do after tropical storm Wilma develops, assuming it does?

"We go to the Greek alphabet," said Frank Lepore, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.

This gives the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations agency responsible for choosing hurricane names, 24 more names to work with, from Alpha to Omega, and including such names as Omicron and Upsilon.

Could happen

This season started out as the busiest ever, with 4 named storms by July 5. It never really let up.

"The August update to Atlantic hurricane season outlook called for 18 to 21, so I would hope it doesn't go any higher than that, but it's a possibility," Lepore said. [...]

The twenty-one names reserved each year (the letters q, u, x, y and z are not used) are recycled every six years, minus those retired (such as Hugo and Andrew and, you can bet, Katrina). When a name is retired, the WMO chooses a new name to replace it.

The year with the most documented tropical storms was 1933, when there were 21 in the Atlantic Basin, but this was before hurricanes were routinely named. Activity is known to wax and wane in cycles that last decades. But some studies have suggested that global warming may be causing increases in hurricane intensity and frequency. Many scientists are skeptical.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

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France to call for EU intervention into Hewlett-Packard job cuts plan 2005-09-21 03:44:52

 PARIS, Sept. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- France is to call on European Union to intervene into Hewlett Packard (HP)'s plan to cut 6,000 jobs in Europe, including 1,240 in France, local media reported on Tuesday.

"Given the importance of the plan throughout Europe, President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday asked the (French) government to appeal to the European Commission," Chirac's spokesman quoted him as saying at a meeting of government ministers on employment.

Chirac was said to tell his ministers to find an appropiate response to HP's plan and has demanded that the group must show "full respect" for labor laws in France.

HP said on September 12 it would cut 1,240 jobs of the 4,800 workforce in France by 2008 but would try to do it through voluntary layoff to avoid the costs of direct redundancies.

California-based HP employs 45,000 people in Europe, half of them in Germany, Britain and France.

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Strong earthquake jolts Japan
21/09/2005 07:59  - (SA) 

Tokyo - A strong earthquake hit northern Japan on Wednesday, the Meteorological Agency said, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The magnitude-5.9 quake struck at 02:30 GMT and was centred near Kunashiri island, the agency said. It said there was no danger of tsunami waves.

Kunashiri is one of four islands north of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island, controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan. It is about 950 kilometres north of Tokyo.

The quake was felt strongly in Kushiro in Hokkaido, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

Japan sits at the juncture of four tectonic plates - or moving slabs of the earth's outer crust - and is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries.

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Strong Earthquake Again Rocks Aceh
September 21, 2005 10:02 AM

BANDA ACEH, Sept 21 (Bernama) -- A strong earthquake rocked four districts in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD) Province on Tuesday evening, but there were no reports about human casualties and meaningful material damage, according to a ANTARA report Wednesday.

The quake, measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale, was felt by residents in the province's capital, Banda Aceh, and in the districts of Aceh Besar, Aceh Jaya, and West Aceh at 10.00 pm, the news agency quoted Head of Mata Ie Geophysics and Meteorology agency Syahnan as saying.

The epicenter was located at 4.77 degrees of north latitude and 94.67 degrees east longitude in a depth of 30 km and 111 km from the western part of Banda Aceh, he said.

Over the past week, Banda Aceh and its surroundings had been hit by two tremors.

Meanwhile, some residents of Calang (Aceh Jaya district) and Meulaboh (West Aceh regency) told ANTARA that many rushed out of their houses and sought shelters following the tremors.

In response to what the people said, Syahnan said: "This Tuesday evening's quake is felt stronger in the two areas because they may be closer to its epicenter."

In Dec 26, 2004 earthquake, which was followed by tsunamis, at least 250,000 people in 13 regencies were killed and went missing. More than 120,000 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged.

Last year's earthquake was measured at 8.9 on the Richter scale.

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Hundreds sleep in the open as tremors strike Azores
21/09/2005 - 11:07:37

Hundreds of mid-Atlantic Azores Islanders slept in the open overnight fearing a major earthquake after 17 tremors were recorded, island authorities said today.

Civil Protection Service spokesman Capt. Serafim Carneiro said no injuries were reported, though the biggest tremor had a preliminary magnitude of 4.

All the tremors were felt by people on Sao Miguel, the largest of the volcanic archipelago’s nine islands.

Many people opted to sleep under blankets and tents in parks and town squares, while dozens of elderly people took shelter in a school gymnasium, Carneiro said in Ponta Delgada, the capital of Sao Miguel. The weather was warm and dry, he said.

Officials said the quakes caused some abandoned houses to collapse and some drystone walls crumbled.

Schools on Sao Miguel were expected to stay closed as a precaution, but Carneiro said most people were returning home this morning as the seismic activity subsided.

“The tremors are starting to fade out now. Things are starting to get back to normal,” he said.

Small earthquakes are common in the Azores, which have a population of about 237,000 people.

The islands are about 930 miles off the west coast of Europe. The last major quake in the Azores, in 1998, killed 10 people and injured about 90.

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Indonesian Capital May Be Facing a Bird Flu Epidemic (Update1)
Sept. 21 (Bloomberg)

Indonesia's capital Jakarta and its surrounding areas may be facing a bird flu epidemic after at least four people died from the disease, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono said.

The government plans to spend 134 billion rupiah ($13 million) this year to cull poultry in the affected areas, Apriantono said in a phone interview in Jakarta.

"It may be right that it is an epidemic in Jakarta and Tangerang,'' which is 25 kilometers (16 miles) west of the capital, Apriantono said. "So that's why we are concentrating on our efforts in Jakarta and Tangerang.''

Indonesia confirmed its first bird-flu deaths on July 20, after a man and his two daughters died from the virus. The fourth human fatality, a 37-year-old woman, was confirmed to have been killed by bird flu on Sept. 10, Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said on Sept. 16.

Avian influenza has infected more than 100 people in Asia and killed about half of them since 2004, three health agencies, including the World Health Organization, said last month.

More than 140 million chickens have been slaughtered in Asia because of concern that H5N1 virus may mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans.

As humans are unlikely to have immunity to a mutated strain of H5N1, the World Health Organization is concerned it may trigger an influenza pandemic like the one that led to more than 40 million deaths worldwide in 1918. All cases of human infection in Asia are believed by health officials to have come from animals.

'Huge Problem'

Indonesia also plans to draft a law that will allow it to punish farmers who refuse to kill their poultry, Apriantono told reporters yesterday after a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss ways to halt the spread of the avian influenza virus.

"The problem is so huge and the international community's capacity to reach each and every chicken farmer is very small,'' Benni Sormin, assistant country representative for the Food and Agriculture Organization in Indonesia, said in an interview.

The Indonesian government has set up a polymerase chain reaction lab to test blood samples for the H5N1 virus in eight provinces. The technique, which is known as PCR, is used to create copies of specific fragments of DNA. PCR amplifies a single DNA molecule into billions of molecules.

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'Fireball' lights up night sky

Callers alert Coast Guard
September 21, 2005

If you were in the right place at the right time along the Space Coast on Tuesday night, you would have seen a light show -- possibly a meteor or space junk.

From Fort Pierce to about five miles south of Jacksonville, reports came in to Coast Guard offices starting about 7:30 p.m., said Dan Yates, a Coast Guard petty officer in Port Canaveral.

Yates said one caller who was walking his dog near the Sebastian Inlet described the object as "huge, like a giant fireball."

The caller said he looked toward the Atlantic Ocean and saw the object disappear into the sea.

Bart Lipofsky, a professor of physics and astronomy at Brevard Community College, said it more than likely sailed over the horizon instead of splashing down. He added many witnesses often make the same visual mistake.

Yates said callers to the Coast Guard station thought a boater might have been in trouble. "A lot of people thought it might have been a flare that might have gone up," Yates said of other callers.

Babs Angel, a public affairs spokeswoman for Patrick Air Force Base, said no local military activity was taking place Tuesday night.

The Coast Guard in Brevard received more than 17 calls throughout the evening from residents and two police agencies, Yates said.

The Coast Guard base near Jacksonville also received calls.

"It's kind of new to all of us. We're not used to meteors coming down at the beach," Yates said of that possibility.

Lipofsky was teaching a class Tuesday night and missed out on the show. When told of the range at which the object was seen, he said: "Well, if it's a meteor, that's quite a fireball.

"Another possibility is it could've been space junk coming out of orbit."

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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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