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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

Sheehan's Anti-War Campaign Now in D.C.
Associated Press
September 21, 2005

WASHINGTON - Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan pledged Wednesday to "force change to happen" during protest speeches outside the White House and Capitol.

Sheehan arrived in Washington after a three-week cross-country bus tour that began near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. She is expected to participate in an anti-Iraq war rally Saturday that organizers hope could draw tens of thousands of people.

Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed last year in Iraq, wants Bush to explain why he sent the United States to war and say what steps he will take to end the conflict.

"This is where we will force change to happen because we the people of America are the checks and balances on this government," she said. "And we will end this war."

Sheehan's one-woman protest in Texas this August re-energized the anti-war movement as well as supporters of the U.S.-led invasion and of American troops serving in Iraq. Rallies in opposition to the anti-war protesters also are set for this weekend in the capital.

"I think she should go home," said Leslie Denunzio, a tourist from Los Angeles who was standing outside the White House when Sheehan's contingent arrived to drop off a letter addressed to Bush.

Gold Star Families for Peace, which was co-founded by Sheehan, planned to begin airing television ads that would run on CNN in Washington and the Fox News Channel nationwide for several weeks, beginning Thursday.

The group Win Without War purchased ads for Thursday's editions of 14 newspapers, including The Washington Post, The Denver Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today.

Comment: It's funny how Katrina steered all media attention away from Sheehan's efforts, and now the anti-Iraq War rally on Saturday will most certainly be overshadowed by Rita's arrival at the US coastline. Rita may have other effects, as well:

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Rita a substantial threat to Gulf oil-EIA
By Chris Baltimore
September 21, 2005

WASHINGTON - Hurricane Rita could have a "substantial impact" on U.S. Gulf Coast refineries, a situation that the nation's already tight gasoline market cannot afford, the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Hurricane Rita was packing 150 mph winds as it churned through the Gulf of Mexico, with computer models forecasting landfall south of Houston on Saturday.

Comment: At the moment, Rita's winds have increased to 165 mph, and its predicted path will take it right over Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch...

"There's a risk that we could have a substantial impact on further refineries," EIA Administrator Guy Caruso told a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on gasoline prices. "We clearly cannot afford any further disruptions in gasoline production and capacity."

Caruso's remarks echoed worries expressed by oil market traders.

Four large refineries in the Gulf Coast region, which together account for about 5 percent of U.S. capacity, remain out of service from Hurricane Katrina last month.

Soon after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi on August 29, the nationwide average retail gasoline price jumped to $3.07 per gallon, nearly tying the inflation-adjusted high of $3.12 set in 1981.

Earlier on Wednesday, the EIA said Rita could threaten up to 18 Texas oil refineries that have a combined capacity of 4 million barrels per day, or nearly one-fourth of the nation's total refining capacity.

"While not all of this capacity would be affected under any scenario, it does point out how much refining capacity is at risk," the EIA said in a weekly oil market report.

Texas has 26 refineries, with 18 located near the Gulf of Mexico coastline, it said.

Marathon Oil, Valero Energy Corp. and BP Plc were among refiners that shut down or reduced operating rates at Texas refineries to prepare for Rita.

Thousands of workers were also evacuated from offshore drilling rigs and production platforms as a safety precaution.

"People were worried post-Katrina, as we have real tight product supply," said Jamal Qureshi, analyst at PFC Energy. "Now we have a hurricane heading for the bigger part of the coastal refinery center, threatening to blow a huge hole in products supply."

Valero, the nation's biggest refiner, said Rita's impact could be a "national disaster" and unleash retail gasoline prices above $3 a gallon.

Wholesale gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled at $2.0531 a gallon on Wednesday, up 7.65 cents. The futures price hit a record $2.92 a gallon soon after Katrina hit.

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Rita may be 'national disaster': oil CEO
Wed Sep 21, 2005

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Valero Energy Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Greehey said Hurricane Rita's impact on U.S. crude oil production and refining could be a "national disaster."

"If it hits the refineries, and we're short refining capacity, you're going to see gasoline prices well over $3.00 a gallon at the pump," Greehey said in a Tuesday night interview.

Valero became the largest U.S. refiner earlier this year when it completed the purchase of Premcor Inc. Valero operates refineries in Port Arthur, Houston, Texas City and Corpus Christi, Texas -- all potentially in the path of Hurricane Rita.

"It's going to be coming across the (U.S.) Gulf (of Mexico)," Greehey said. "There's a lot of oil platforms, oil rigs, (natural) gas platforms, gas rigs. It could have a significant impact on supply and prices, and then, depending on what it does to the refineries, there are still four refineries that are shut down. So this really is a national disaster."

Refineries in Houston and Texas City process 2.3 million barrels of crude oil or 13.5 percent of daily U.S. refining capacity. The Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, refineries account for another 1.1 million barrels in refining capacity.

Based on Rita's current forecast path Texas City, Houston, Port Arthur and Beaumont could be lashed by high winds and heavy rains from Rita's northeast quadrant, which often packs the highest winds in a hurricane.

Valero announced on Wednesday morning it would reduce production at its Houston and Texas City refineries to prepare for the hurricane.

"You've got refineries that will start shutting down in anticipation of the hurricane, and then if any of them have permanent damage, we're going to be dependent on imports. Following Katrina, this is really serious."

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Rita could equal $5 gas

The timing and strength of the latest storm could cause worse spike at the pumps than Katrina did.
By Chris Isidore
September 21, 2005: 5:46 PM EDT

NEW YORK - Remember when gas spiked to $3-plus a gallon after Hurricane Katrina? By this time next week, that could seem like the good old days.

Weather and energy experts say that as bad as Hurricane Katrina hit the nation's supply of gasoline, Hurricane Rita could be worse.

Katrina damage was focused on offshore oil platforms and ports. Now the greater risk is to oil-refinery capacity, especially if Rita slams into Houston, Galveston and Port Arthur, Texas.

"We could be looking at gasoline lines and $4 gas, maybe even $5 gas, if this thing does the worst it could do," said energy analyst Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover. "This storm is in the wrong place. And it's absolutely at the wrong time," said Beutel.

Michael Schlacter, chief meteorologist at Weather 2000, said Rita now appears most likely to hit between Port Arthur and Corpus Christi, Texas, sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

Just about all of Texas's refinery capacity lies in that at-risk zone. (For a look at's coverage of Hurricane Rita, click here.)

"There is no lucky 7-10 split scenario to use a bowling analogy," he said. "If you're [a refiner] within 200 miles, you're going to feel the effect."

Compounding Katrina's impact

When Katrina hit, 15 refineries, nearly all in Louisiana and Mississippi, with a combined capacity of about 3.3 million barrels a day were shut down or damaged, according to the Energy Department. That represented almost 20 percent of U.S. refining capacity.

Within a week, almost two-thirds of that damaged capacity had resumed some operations, according to the department. But four refineries with nearly 900,000 barrels a day of capacity are still basically shut down.

If Rita hits both the Houston-Galveston area, as well as the Port Arthur-Beaumont region near the Texas-Louisiana border, that could take out more than 3 million barrels of capacity a day, according to Bob Tippee, editor of the industry trade journal Oil & Gas Journal in Houston.

"Before Katrina, the system was already so tight that the worst-case scenario was for a disruption that took 250,000 barrels of capacity out of the picture. That would have been considered a major jolt," said Tippee.

"We're already in uncharted territory now. We can't project what happens from another shot the size of Katrina or worse."

Part of the problem is that skilled crews needed to make refinery repairs are already busy trying to fix the Katrina damage. That would extend recovery time from Rita.

"[Rita] could have a significant impact on supply and prices -- this really is a national disaster," Valero Energy CEO Bill Greehey in an interview with Reuters Tuesday evening.

Gas not the only concern

Problems could spread beyond the gas pumps.

Tippee said that natural-gas prices could see a further spike, since so many of the offshore platforms off of Texas produce natural gas, not crude oil.

And while gasoline imports have helped bring gas prices down from record highs, there isn't as much potential for heating-oil imports, he noted.

"Gasoline tends to obscure everything, especially since we aren't paying heating bills right now," said Tippee. "But we were already looking at a winter fuel problem. We're about to take another hit that will cause a lot of problems."

Schlacter said even the oil platforms off the Louisiana Gulf Coast, which are not likely to take a direct hit from Rita, could be affected by large waves churning up the Gulf of Mexico as the storm passes to the south. Waves of as much as 40 to 50 feet could hit the platforms off the Texas Coast, he estimated.

Tippee said that production across the Gulf is already being affected by oil companies pulling workers off platforms ahead of the storm. And it's not just domestic oil being interrupted.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the nation's largest gateway for overseas oil, stopped accepting deliveries of its 1.2 million barrels of oil a day Wednesday afternoon due to high seas, LOOP spokeswoman Barb Hesterman told Reuters. She said the disruption was expected to be "for a short time."

But if Katrina is any guide, it could take several days after Rita passes for production to resume even at oil and gas platforms that escape damage. [...]

Comment: On the one hand, it would seem that given the precarious position of the US economy, Rita could finish what Katrina began in terms of bringing down the financial house of cards in the USA. On the other hand, we have seen that the Bush administration is doing everything it can to keep the economy propped up.

Still, when Americans start regularly paying $3, $4, or $5 a gallon to fill their tanks, when heating oil prices skyrocket, or when there are shortages of some goods due to high fuel prices, something must eventually give.

Interestingly enough, we are also only a few weeks away from the new, more strict bankruptcy law taking effect in the US. Many have suspected for awhile now that the opportune moment to crash the economy will be after the new law takes hold, since the average citizen will no longer have an easy and convenient tool to erase her debts...

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China Unlikely to Cut Venezuela's U.S. Oil
Associated Press
Tue Sep 20, 7:17 PM ET

WASHINGTON - China's increased interest in the Venezuelan oil industry is unlikely to have any effect on U.S. supplies, a top State Department official said Tuesday.

China, the world's second largest petroleum consumer, has stepped up investment throughout Latin America, including increased buying of Venezuela's oil.

Charles Shapiro, a senior Western Hemisphere specialist at the State Department, told a Senate panel looking at China's role in Latin America that it would be economically painful for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to make good on a reported threat to cut off oil shipments to the United States.

Comment: The "threat" was in response to evidence Chavez claims to have that the US may be planning an invasion of Venezuela. From an interview with ABC News:

CHAVEZ: I'm telling you that I have evidence that there are plans to invade Venezuela. Furthermore, we have documentation: how many bombers to overfly Venezuela on the day of the invasion, how many trans-Atlantic carriers, how many aircraft carriers need to be sent to (inaudible) even during (inaudible).

Recently, an aircraft carrier went to Curacao (inaudible) the fact that the soldiers were on leave.

That's a lie. They were doing movements. They were doing maneuvers. All on documentation. The plan is called Balboa, where Venezuela is indicated as an objective.

And in the face of that scenario, I said that if that actually happens, the United States should just forget the million and a half barrels of oil. Because everyday since I've been in power for seven years, we haven't missed it even one single day -- just one day, when we were overthrown. We were overthrown by that coup -- oil sabotage -- which was supported by Washington...

Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, said Chinese imports represent only a fraction of the 1.4 million barrels of oil the United States buys daily from Venezuela.

The export of Venezuelan oil to the United States, he said, is "a market-driven decision that is in the interests of both the seller and, like any market-driven decision, it's in the interest of the buyer."

Viewed as a business decision, the United States has several advantages over China in Venezuela's eyes, Shapiro said. It takes much longer for the fuel to reach China: Chinese ports are three weeks from Venezuela, he said, while U.S. ports are four days away.

He also noted that U.S. refineries are specially designed to refine heavy Venezuela crude oil, while Chinese refineries "would require an investment of billions of dollars."

Overall, China's investment in Latin America and the Caribbean is small: $8.3 billion at the end of 2004, the Chinese say, compared with more than $300 billion in U.S. investment. But the Chinese portion is growing.

Shapiro said the United States is working to make sure China knows that "rules are important. Because China has investments in Latin America, it should have an interest in the stability of Latin America. We want to ensure that Chinese investors and Chinese exporters compete on a level playing field with U.S. investors and U.S. exporters." [...]

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Government: Man Wanted Bush Assassinated
Associated Press Writer
Sep 20 1:16 PM US/Eastern

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A suspected terrorist accused of conspiring to assassinate President Bush said he proposed the plot but it wasn't pursued, and he was frustrated that other members of his al-Qaida cell lacked initiative, according to prosecutors.

A government motion unsealed this week by a federal judge reveals new details in the case against Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 24, who is scheduled to go on trial next month.

Prosecutors say the Falls Church resident has admitted joining al- Qaida while attending college in Saudi Arabia and that he discussed numerous terrorist plots, including plans to assassinate Bush and hijack airplanes. Abu Ali says he was tortured into giving a false confession by Saudi authorities and that U.S. officials aided the torture. His lawyers are asking to have the confession tossed out.

The motion says that Abu Ali was asked to research the location of U.S. nuclear power sites for possible attack. The request was made by the second-highest ranking al-Qaida operative in Saudi Arabia, Sultan Jubran Sultan al-Qahtani, according to the motion.

Also, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Laufman writes in the motion that Abu Ali was frustrated and bored during a stay at an al-Qaida safe house "because his fellow al-Qaida cell members did not appear sufficiently motivated to suit the defendant's terrorist zeal."

Abu Ali's lawyers did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

In an initial interrogation by Saudi authorities, Abu Ali said that after a May 2003 al-Qaida attack in Riyadh he organized the cell into a more structured daily regimen at the safe house "because, as I said to the guys, we were wasting our time sleeping and engaging in idle chit chat." The attack killed 39 people, including nine Americans.

Prosecutors said Abu Ali's admission that he proposed the Bush assassination plot came in response to a question posed by Saudi authorities at the request of the FBI.

When Abu Ali was asked, "Were you tasked to assassinate the President?" he replied, "I came up with the idea on my own, but it did not get beyond the idea stage. I wanted to be the brain, the planner, just like (reputed Sept. 11 attack masterminds) Mohammed Atta and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad."

The government motion was in response to defense claims that the case against Abu Ali should be thrown out because the confession was obtained through torture and that U.S. authorities acted in concert with the Saudis. The government contends that Abu Ali's June 2003 arrest, interrogation and confession resulted from an independent Saudi crackdown on al-Qaida following the Riyadh bombings and that FBI requests to question Abu Ali directly were rejected.

Abu Ali's Saudi interrogators have already given depositions in which they testified that Abu Ali was relaxed and well cared for when he confessed. Defense lawyers objected to the depositions, saying the interrogators would be under pressure to lie about Abu Ali's treatment.

The government denies that Abu Ali was mistreated and says he invented the torture allegation to escape justice.

"The defendant in this case represents one of the most dangerous terrorist threats that America faces in the perilous world after Sept. 11, 2001: an al-Qaida operative born and raised in the United States, trained and committed to carry out deadly attacks on American soil," Laufman wrote.

Comment: Is he as dangerous as all the other "al-Qaeda operatives" who are being held without charge and without being given fair trials? While torturing false confessions out of "detainees" is nothing new for the US under Bush, this time the victim was "born and raised in the United States". Ever so slowly, the focus continues to shift away from evil terrorists "over there" and onto the illusionary threat from so-called homegrown terrorists. The result is fewer liberties and more surveillance:

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FAA to propose cameras, wireless devices in planes
Wednesday, September 21, 2005; Posted: 11:26 a.m. EDT (15:26 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The latest post-September 11 security change for commercial planes may be cameras in the cabin and wireless devices for flight attendants to alert the cockpit crew to an emergency.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to propose those ideas Wednesday and then take public comment before deciding whether to mandate the changes, The Associated Press has learned.

The plan is to give pilots a better idea of what's happening in the cabin. The September 11 hijackers gained access to the flight desk after attacking flight attendants in the cabin.

"The purpose of monitoring is to identify anyone requesting entry to the flight deck and to detect suspicious behavior or potential threats," the FAA said in a notice to be published on Wednesday.

Airlines would have the option of using other ways to meet the requirement. Peepholes could be installed in the cockpit door, for example. Flight attendants could key the existing crew alert systems in a specific way to alert pilots of a security breach or unusual behavior.

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots, supports the idea of using cameras to monitor passengers.

"Pilots have no way of knowing what's going on behind the door," said Capt. Denis Breslin, spokesman for the organization.

Pilots are less sure about the use of wireless devices. Among other things, they're concerned that the devices might allow people to send false alarms to pilots, Breslin said.

Association of Flight Attendants spokeswoman Corey Caldwell said her organization favors cameras and wireless devices. She doesn't believe false alarms pose much of a problem.

The government has made numerous changes to boost security since the September 11, 2001, attacks, including hiring a federal work force to screen passengers, adding many more undercover federal air marshals, forbidding items such as box-cutters from the cabin, and requiring airlines to install bulletproof doors on the cockpit.

David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, said cameras add another layer of security. Asked whether some might oppose cameras on privacy grounds, he said, "Any concerns about privacy are groundless because the cabin crew can see passengers all the time already."

The FAA would allow two years to install the cameras or come up with an alternative. The agency estimates the total cost of installing video systems would be $185.5 million over 10 years.

Federal safety officials have recommended installing cameras in the cockpit as a way for accident investigators to review pilots' performance after a crash. Pilots have strongly objected to that use for cameras because of privacy concerns.

Comment: Bulletproof cockpit doors were a brilliant idea, especially since the 9/11 hijackers allegedly took over airliners full of people with boxcutters...

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Make it easier for retirees to move south of the border
By Walter Russell Mead
Wed, Sep. 21, 2005
Mercury News
As debates over Social Security and Medicare heat up, Americans might feel like doing what the old urban myth says the Inuit do: Ship the old folks out on the ice floes. It's cheap, simple and good for the polar bears.

It is also, arguably, a bit coldhearted. So here's a warm and loving alternative that the U.S. government should endorse: Send the old people to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

By one estimate, almost 20 percent of gross domestic product will go to seniors by 2030. Baby boomers are the first generation of grasshoppers in U.S. history. Their parents and grandparents, scarred by the Depression, scrimped and saved. The boomers put it on plastic. With private household savings rates near all-time lows, bills are coming due and the facts are increasingly clear: Some boomers not only won't be able to afford the retirement they dream of, many won't even be able to afford the retirement they fear.

The cost of retirement is also going up. In 1940, the median price for a house in Arizona was less than half the national average. Today, with two generations of retirees swelling its population, Arizona's housing costs are well above the national average. Prices at assisted-living facilities are rising at more than twice the rate of inflation.

There are simple, though not painless, steps individuals can take to improve their prospects. Put the plastic away for a while, pay down debts, build up savings. Delaying retirement a few years gives you higher Social Security payments, lets you squirrel some money away and allows any investments you already have more time to grow. And you can always develop a more realistic set of expectations: Do they have to be golden years? What's wrong with silver?

But don't underestimate the economic wisdom of migration. [...]

Still, helping seniors move to where costs are low could give Medicare a boost while giving seniors more choices. To that end, the federal government should smooth the path for seniors looking to retire abroad. Congress should pass legislation to allow Medicare to cover eligible seniors using certified, inspected and qualified providers. Medicare payments should be lower to these providers, reflecting different cost levels.

The executive branch should negotiate retirement agreements with neighboring countries to provide an appropriate legal framework for millions, possibly tens of millions, of U.S. seniors moving south.

These policies would be a godsend for U.S. neighbors. Regional retirement agreements would create millions of new jobs. The influx of retirees would finance badly needed new infrastructure and vastly enhance medical services.

For the United States, this does more than reduce Medicare costs and allow more seniors to have higher living standards. Creating millions of new jobs in Mexico and beyond would reduce flows of illegal immigrants across the border. It would raise wage levels in neighboring countries, reducing low-wage competition for U.S. jobs and increasing the market for U.S. products. U.S. business, including health care companies, real estate developers and retailers, could follow their customers into new and lucrative markets abroad.

This is not a Democratic or a Republican program. It cuts spending, expands choice, promotes market-based development abroad and protects some of our most important entitlement programs.

Let's do it.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author, most recently, of "Power, Terror, Peace and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk.'' He wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times.

Comment: Given that the CFR is a key player in the formulation of US government policy, the above is a good example of the mind set of the people that currently occupy the halls of power in Washington. Not only does Mead's retiree plan belie the contempt with which U.S. government officials view such "useless eaters" as their senior citizens, his comments about the plan being " godsend for U.S. neighbors" also points to the disdain and arrogance with which such people view the rest of the world.

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Harvard Will Cooperate With U.S. Military
The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 21, 2005; 3:38 PM

BOSTON -- Military recruiters will be officially welcomed at Harvard Law School this year after all. Whether they are next year likely depends on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Harvard has reversed, at least for now, its policy of barring the Pentagon from using the law school's career services office for recruiting. Harvard, like many other law schools, contends the Pentagon's "don't ask don't tell" policy on gays violates the guidelines on nondiscrimination that the school requires of recruiters on campus.

A decade-old federal law, called the Solomon Amendment, requires campuses to offer full recruiting access to the military or risk losing federal grants. But that law is in limbo.

Last year, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals sided with law schools who had sued to overturn the law on free speech grounds.

After that decision, most law schools said they would continue to follow the law pending a final ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear the case in December. Harvard, however, reverted to its old policy and did not offer formal recruiting cooperation last spring.

Comment: Given the new-and-improved Bush-friendly Supreme Court, we already know how the court will rule...

But in an e-mail sent to students late Tuesday, Dean Elena Kagan said the Pentagon had warned Harvard it would enforce the law despite the 3rd Circuit ruling, potentially costing the university - and especially its research-intensive medical and public health schools - hundreds of millions of dollars. Overall, about 15 percent of the university's budget comes from the government.

On Wednesday, a group of Harvard faculty announced they had filed a brief to the Supreme Court urging the law be overturned. A separate consortium of law schools also planned to file a brief laying out separate arguments against the law.

Last week, three law schools, including New York Law School, were listed in the federal register as ineligible for federal funds for denying full cooperation to military recruiters, according to Kent Greenfield, a Boston College law professor active in the case opposing the law. But all three were "stand-alone" law schools that were not putting other parts of their universities at risk of losing federal money.

Yale Law School also has reinstated its policy denying formal access to military recruiters, but it is protected by a separate injunction from a federal judge that prevents the Pentagon from enforcing the policy there.

HLS Lambda, a group representing gay law students at Harvard, posted a statement on its Web site saying the group wished the university had more actively opposed the law, but applauded Kagan for barring recruiters last November.

The organization said the Solomon Amendment goes against the Pentagon's best interests by keeping urgently needed people out of military service.

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Mexico minister dies in air crash
BBC News
Thursday, 22 September 2005

The man leading the fight against the Mexican drug trade, Public security Minister Ramon Martin Huerta, has been killed in a helicopter crash.

He was among nine people who died when their aircraft went down in mountains near Mexico city, President Vicente Fox has confirmed.

The head of the federal police, Tomas Valencia, was also among the dead.

Mr Huerta, a close friend of Mr Fox, was on his way to visit a maximum security jail when the crash happened.

The cause is unclear, but the weather in the area was poor. [....]

Comment: You really have to love the investigative talents of the mainstream press. When an important politician involved in fighting the war on (CIA controlled) drugs in South America dies in an anomalous aircraft crash, the best these intrepid news reporting corporations can come up with is that "the weather in the area was poor."

Of course, that is not to say that bad weather does cause aircraft to crash, but when the occupants of the aircraft are members of an important political group who are pursuing an agenda that is clearly at odds with that of another political group, we can safely say that in 9 out of 10 'crashes', poor weather is the last place anyone should be looking.

Are we dealing with a lack of intelligence and common sense here, or could it really be true that the mainstream media is far from 'fair and balanced'...

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The Enemy and the Nuremberg Principles
By Robert Thompson
Sep 19, 2005

The Enemy and the Nuremberg Principles

As we all should know, one of the first significant acts of the infant United Nations Organisation was the setting up of the Nuremberg Tribunal to try former Nazi high officials.

Everyone agreed, as they now do, to say that we should oppose terrorism, that something had to be done about such vile crimes, but it was necessary first to define the offences which were alleged to have been committed.

The Nuremberg Principles

These definitions had been framed to serve as the foundation for the Tribunal which was to be set up in Nuremberg (in German, Nuernberg), a highly significant choice of place since it had served as the site for some of Adolf Hitler's biggest popular triumphs. It was at Nuremberg that Hitler managed to persuade the German people to follow his criminal path. As a result, the rules were called the "Nuremberg Principles" (hereinafter each individually called a "Principle" together with its number). They remain valid as the simple basis for our understanding of what are the most serious crimes under international law.

We now have to oppose terrorism, including massive state terrorism, which makes one ask whether or not the old definitions, dating from 1946, would apply to today's circumstances, with particular reference to the behaviour of the leaders and high officials of nations which are members of the United Nations.

Three particular crimes are defined in Principle VI, namely:

(a) Crimes against Peace:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances ;

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

(b) War crimes:

Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;

(c) Crimes against humanity:

Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

Comment: As regards the above, consider the words of U.S. General Boykin from 2003.

"Well you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his," said Lt Gen Boykin. "I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol." "Our spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus. [...] We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name".

Principle VII adds:

Complicity in a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

There we see what are considered to be crimes against international law unanimously accepted by the United Nations Organisation, but we also want to know who can be considered to have committed such crimes and this point is covered in Principles I to IV, which state:

Principle I

Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.

Principle II

The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed that act from reponsibility under international law.

Principle III

The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from reponsibility under international law.

Principle IV

The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Dealing with persons accused of such crimes is dealt with in Principle V which provides :

Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

The Record of the Bush Administration

There are insistent voices raised around the world regarding potential criminality among the present administration in the United States of America (hereinafter referred to as the "USA"), and we therefore have to go back over the history of this administration which has been in power, after a very dubious election and with certain fairly minor modifications, since January 2001.

This administration team (to which I shall hereinafter refer as the "Bush Administration") came to power in the USA with aims which had previously been drawn up by an amorphous group of persons and interests commonly and conveniently known as the "neo-conservatives", or "neo-cons" for short. The Bush Administration still holds absolute power over the finances, the armed forces and the liberties of the USA. 

Among the aims for the Bush Administration, prepared well in advance of the election, the neo-cons had made detailed plans to invade Iraq, which they saw as being the place where there were enormous reserves of oil, and with whose unpleasant ruler the USA, under Mr George H.W. Bush, had fallen out for reasons which remain unclear. This disagreement can be the subject of further study, but we are here considering the present Bush Administration, and must not go off at a tangent.

We await with some impatience a future full and careful investigation into the events leading up to the horrors of 11th September 2001, but what is certain is that the Bush Administration showed weakness and stupidity in its reaction, even if it did not, contrary to the belief of some, fully understand what had happened. For those of us living in countries where violent terrorist activity had for many years been financed and armed either by the government of the USA or, with its benevolent permission, by highly organised groups of persons based in the USA, this seems odd, but this did not lessen our sadness and sorrow at the hideous waste of innocent life in New York and elsewhere. Although ordinary citizens in the USA and their successive governments seem to have allowed such activities to continue against others for so long, we are not so vicious as to look upon their being visited upon the USA as a just retribution.

However, after a few days of vacillation, the Bush Administration decided to use these attacks by persons unconnected with Iraq, where they were ruthlessly kept powerless, as an excuse to carry out their long-planned war against the Country. They used dubious Iraqi exiles, including the infamous Mr Ahmed Chalaby, still sought by Jordan for an affair of bank fraud, to persuade influential people to believe that invading troops would be received with flowers. They deliberately ignored the expert advice and opinion which was available in order to obtain the agreement of doubting fellow members of the Administration and almost every legislator in the USA to their schemes.

We now come to the question of possible criminality on the part of leading members of the Bush Administration, including the President himself, and we have to examine what happened and which provisions apply to them. I have many years experience of criminal law in both France and in England and also of international law, but none whatever of the internal law in the USA, whether Federal or in any individual state, since I have never crossed the Atlantic. I propose therefore to limit myself to the Nuremberg Principles, as a touchstone of what is a crime under international law, and leave matters of municipal law to lawyers qualified in the USA.

The Defendents

I have taken a handful of those involved as specimens rather than examining the record of every person within the Bush Administration, for the simple reason that I do not know enough about so many of the persons under general public accusation, so I have limited these comments to the following:

  • George Walker Bush

  • Mr Richard Cheney

  • Mr Colin Powell

  • Mr Donald Rumsfeld

  • Mr Paul Wolfowitz

  • Dr Condoleezza Rice

The Crimes

Taking first the offences defined in Principle VI, the known facts as reported (even by their supporters in the media) lead to the inevitable conclusion that, although there is doubt about the guilt of Mr Colin Powell, the others were all involved in :

(a) Crimes against peace, in that they planned, prepared, initiated and waged a war of aggression against Iraq in violation of the international agreement as contained in clearly worded Security Council Resolutions ;

(b) War crimes, in that they were party to the ill-treatment and deportation of civilians, and prisoners of war, such as those who were, and still are, sent to Guantanamo Bay from Afghanistan and elsewhere - they were also all involved in the destruction of cities, towns and villages in Iraq. It is probable that this also includes the use in Abu Ghraib of methods applied at Guantanamo Bay to break down the morale of prisoners.

(c) Crimes against humanity, in that they were involved in the the murder and extermination of civilians in Iraq, as in Fallujah, and the deportation of civilians from Afghanistan and elsewhere to Guantanamo Bay.

It seems unnecessary to go into further details of their crimes, since they have even boasted of what they have done and taken full responsibilty for them.

It is then appropriate to turn to their possible guilt under Principle VII, where things look even worse. Here even Mr Powell seems to have become as guilty as the others, perhaps out of misguided loyalty - but that could only be the basis for a plea in mitigation rather than for a defence as to guilt.

All the suggested defendants have colluded in the crimes committed in Iraq and against people captured in Afghanistan or elsewhere, and are thus guilty under the Principle.

In addition, over a much longer period, they have all been guilty of complicity in the crimes committed by the Zionist invaders, with whom Mr Wolfowitz is perhaps the most closely implicated, against the indigenous people of Palestine.

GWB has even gone so far as to describe the well-known criminal, Mr Ariel Sharon (who is guilty of almost every crime defined in Principles VI and VII), as a "man of peace", which would in the case of a man of normal intelligence require a great deal of explanation on his part. In mitigation, it would no doubt be pleaded that he never understood that there was a difference between a war of aggression and peace, but that would be on the basis of diminished responsibility since it would be virtually impossible to argue on behalf of GWB a total lack of guilt.

In other words, I consider that the persons listed are all guilty of very serious crimes as defined in the Nuremberg Principles, and I would be happy to see them brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which the USA quite understandably refuses to recognise. Among their accomplices outside the USA, it would be appropriate to include both Mr Sharon and Mr Anthony Blair, neither of whom appears to have any conscience when it comes to giving massive support to state terrorism by the USA or the Zionists.

For the sake of clarity, I would confirm that I cannot see any reason not to include the actions of all these persons in the definition of the terrorism against which the United Nations have agreed to fight.

I therefore leave it to any who are so kind as to read these lines to judge whether or not these persons as criminals under international law.

Editor's Note: Robert Thompson, an Axis of Logic columnist, has served as an international lawyer since the 1960s. He continues to consult as a patron with the pan-European charity Fair Trials Abroad (FTA). The FTA helps European Union citizens facing trial in jurisdictions other than their own. He has never stopped studying and reflecting upon many aspects of international law, both public and private. As an authority on international law, we have asked him to write an opinion regarding the possible criminality of George Walker Bush, et. al.

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Federal Reserve Boosts Interest Rates
AP Economics Writer
Sep 21 2:16 AM US/Eastern

WASHINGTON - The decision of the Federal Reserve to keep raising interest rates in the face of a devastating hurricane means one thing to many economists: Rates will keep going up and are likely to head higher than previously expected.

Analysts saw the quarter-point rate increase by the Fed on Tuesday and the explanation for why it was needed as a clear signal that the central bank is growing more concerned about inflation.

The Fed pushed its target for the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, up for the 11th time in the past 15 months, raising it to 3.75 percent. That was the highest level since August 2001.

In response, commercial banks began raising their prime lending rates by a corresponding amount, to 6.75 percent, the highest in more than four years. These rates are used for many short-term consumer loans, including some credit cards and popular home equity lines of credit.

The Fed's rate increase came even though some analysts had suggested it might pause to allow time to see how big a hit the economy would sustain from Hurricane Katrina, the country's costliest natural disaster.

Instead, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his colleagues said Katrina's widespread devastation would not prove to be a "persistent threat" to the economy.

However, the central bank did worry about the persistent rise in energy prices this year, including a renewed surge after Katrina shut down Gulf Coast oil and natural gas production.

"Higher energy and other costs have the potential to add to inflation pressures," Fed officials said in the statement explaining their latest move.

Many analysts said that statement and the Fed's decision to go ahead with another rate increase showed the central bank will be focusing in coming months on what it perceives as its primary mission - making sure inflation pressures do not get out of control.

Analysts said Fed officials raised interest rates at this meeting even though they know that the economy is going to show some significantly weaker statistics over the next month.

"If you raise interest rates in the face of what you know will be some pretty awful economic numbers, you must have a lot of confidence about the economy's ultimate recovery and a lot of concern about inflation," said Lyle Gramley, a former Fed board member and now senior economic adviser at Schwab Washington Research Group.

Many economists are forecasting that Katrina will slash as much as a full percentage point off growth in the second half of this year and trim job growth by as much as 400,000 over the next four months.

Comment: And now Rita may take another chunk off the growth rate...

However, private analysts agree with the Fed's assumption that the effects will be temporary, with the weakness this year followed by higher growth next year, reflecting what could be $200 billion spent on recovery and rebuilding efforts.

All that spending will have a stimulative effect on the economy and is likely to further raise worries about inflation at the Fed.

"Washington will pump massive amounts of aid into the Katrina-affected areas boosting economic activities," said economist Sung Won Sohn, president of Hanmi Bank in Los Angeles.

The Fed began raising rates in June 2004 at a time the federal funds rate was at a 46-year low of 1 percent.

Its goal has been to raise the funds rate to a neutral level where it is neither stimulating nor depressing economic growth. While it has never said what that neutral level is, many analysts have said they believe it is somewhere between 4 percent and 4.5 percent.

However, based on the Fed's comments on Tuesday, some analysts said they are raising their expectations for where the Fed might stop. Gramley said he would not be surprised to see a funds rate at 5 percent or even higher next year.

Other analysts said they believed the Fed would pause sooner, but not before raising rates at Greenspan's final three meetings on Nov. 1, Dec. 13 and Jan. 31, meaning a funds rate of 4.5 percent at the end of January.

That would mean significant increases in consumer rates as well since banks' tie their prime lending rate to moves in the federal funds rate.

While 30-year mortgage rates have stayed below 6 percent for most of this year at some of the lowest rates in four decades, that is expected to be coming to an end. The current 5.74 percent for a 30- year mortgage is forecast to be pushing 6 percent by the end of this year and could be around 6.75 percent by the end of 2006.

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Sony to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide
BBC News
Thursday, 22 September 2005

Electronics giant Sony has announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide as part of a restructuring programme.

The job cuts, which represent about 7% of the company's workforce, will be achieved by March 2008, the firm said.

About 4,000 jobs will go in Japan, with the remaining 6,000 cuts overseas. The company will also close or sell 11 of its 65 manufacturing plants.

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Is Pakistan Selling Out?

General Musharraf and the Recognition of Israel
September 20, 2005

It appears that General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military dictator since October 1999, is on a mission to legitimize Israel: and he is going about it with the zeal of a new convert.

On September 1, 2005, Pakistan's foreign minister met his Israeli counterpart in Istanbul. This was followed by a meeting between General Musharraf and members of the American Jewish Congress in New York.

Earlier, the General praised war-criminal Ariel Sharon as "a great soldier and courageous leader" for pulling out illegal and often murderous Jewish settlers from the Gaza.[1] Moreover, after the two "courageous leaders" shook hands in New York, the Pakistani General told reporters, "And that's very good." [2] Very good? The question is, for whom?

The General wants Pakistanis to believe that recognizing Israel will be good for their country. His minions in the government and media argue that this is a pragmatic, even daring, measure that finally breaks free from the 'archaic sentimentalism' about the Ummah ­ a 'vague concept' according to one columnist. Is this true? Or is the Pakistani dictator surrendering the national interest in order to perpetuate his own grip on power? This question deserves our sober consideration.

The claim that General Musharraf is acting in Pakistan's national interest strains credulity. The General has found regime salvation in what the US calls its 'war against global terrorism.' Instantly, on the night of September 11, he had seen the opportunity in America's putative war against terrorism ­ and seized it with both hands. Musharraf's compact with his American mentors was transparent. The US would support the General, and he would join America's 'war against global terrorism.'

This compact has been hugely profitable for the General. And he has never missed an opportunity to peddle its ethereal advantages for Pakistan even as he continues to surrender his nation's core values and interests. His method is simple. He has redefined Pakistan's 'national interest' to coincide with that of the United States. As he put it in June 2003, during a visit to Washington, "Whatever we are doing, we are doing in our national interest, and fortunately our national interest coincides with those of the United States, which is the beauty of our relationship."

The General's gains are clear; but what has Pakistan lost? Pakistan surrendered its territorial sovereignty to the US, handing over Pakistan's airspace and land bases to be used in a war against a friendly neighbor, Afghanistan. As a result, Pakistan lost the 'strategic depth' it had created in Afghanistan ­ though, not with the best means ­ by handing over Afghanistan to its strategic adversaries, the Northern Alliance and India. On its eastern border, Pakistan stopped supporting the resistance in Kashmiri. In 2003, after the American invasion of Iraq, the General tried desperately to send Pakistani troops to police the US occupation of that country, but, thankfully, that move was defeated by Pakistanis.

On the domestic front, the General has been supporting the US 'war against terrorism' by promoting a new-fangled ideology of 'enlightened moderation,' no doubt a product of neoconservative think tanks in the US. This is an attempt to shift Pakistan away from its core values of Islamic governance, law, morality and justice. The primary targets of this campaign are the madaris (the Islamic schools) and the Ulama, the historical safeguards against Western imperialism and state tyranny in Islamic countries. Now the US wants to destroy them under the pretext that they are 'breeding grounds of terrorism.'

The move to recognize Israel is merely the latest in the series of capitulations Pakistan has witnessed since September 11, 2001. It is an Israeli demand advanced through the agency of the US government. The General is being asked to give proof positive of his partnership in the 'war against global terrorism' by reversing Pakistan's strategic opposition to the unnatural creation of Israel. Pakistan's founding father had described Israel as the "illegitimate child of Western imperialism." Under Israeli-US pressure, the General is determined to turn Pakistan into an instrument for promoting Israeli ambitions in the Islamic world.

Much of Pakistan's media is now swamped with writers staking putatively 'nationalist' positions on the question of recognizing Israel. Suddenly, these writers are beginning to discover endless ­ and vital ­ advantages that will begin to flow to Pakistan once it normalizes relations with Israel. It only remains for these deluded Pakistanis now to celebrate the ancient ties ­ going back to Abraham ­ that have always bound the two fraternal nations. If the Zionists themselves were making Pakistan's case for recognition, they could not have sounded more specious.

If the narrow nationalism that is being peddled in Pakistan to justify recognizing Israel were genuine ­ if Pakistani nationalism ever had a spine ­ it would remain suspect. It would be suspect because it fails to recognize the deep connections that bind the security and the welfare of Islamic countries. When Islamic governments ignore these connections, and stand individually on their sickly nationalisms, they encourage and facilitate the imperialist attempts of the United States and Israel ­ among others ­ to subjugate these countries, to pick them off one by one.

In this connection one may recall the disastrous experience of the Arabs with their 'nationalism.' At the outbreak of the WWI, the Ottomans allied themselves with the Germans in order to neutralize longstanding British and French imperial designs against their state. When the Turkish entry in the war threatened their position in the Arab world, the British sought to incite an Arab rebellion against the Ottomans. The Arab chieftain of Hijaz ­ Sharif Hussein of Makka ­ was picked for this service with promises of an Arab kingdom. These early Arab 'nationalists' even agreed to hand over Palestine to the Zionists. What did these gullible Arab nationalists receive in return for their betrayal of the Islamic Ottomans who had staunchly refused to cooperate with the Zionists? A vivisection of the eastern segment of the Arab world into paltry Arab fiefdoms, mostly controlled by the British, French and, later, the Americans. In addition, they helped to create Israel, which would engage in ethnic cleansing and endless wars against the Arabs into the indefinite future.

Let the Pakistanis also consider momentarily the implications of an Iran driven by nationalism alone to normalize relations with Israel. What if the two then joined hands with India to try to balkanize Pakistan? Drafting blinkered 'nationalist' arguments ­ or with appropriate inducements from Israel and India ­ the Iranians too could begin to see plenty of advantages in an alliance with Israel against Pakistan. Yet, the present rulers of Iran, a country whose claims to nationalism are more firmly grounded than Pakistan's, have remained steadfast in their support of the Palestinian cause. They understand that in the long run Iranian security depends on the success of Palestinian resistance to Israeli expansionism.

What are the much-trumpeted 'national' interests that Musharraf hopes to advance by recognizing Israel? One common argument starts by noting, with apparent alarm, the growing economic and military ties between India and Israel. Pakistan, it is argued, can neutralize these Indian gains by normalizing relations with Israel. The wishful thinking in this argument is quickly exposed. With its light-weight economy ­ currently, 12 percent of India's, and shrinking ­ Pakistan cannot even dream of matching the attractiveness of Indian markets for Israeli exporters. India's trade with Israel ­ including trade in military hardware ­ will continue to grow rapidly even with Pakistani recognition of Israel.

If anything should alarm Pakistan, it is not India's growing trade relations with Israel. After all, Israel is a mere one-third of one percent of the world economy. If India is our most serious adversary, economically and militarily, Pakistanis should rather worry about the rate at which they have been falling behind India in economic size, living standards, education, science, technology, and democratic institutions. Could the General make a start by eliminating the last deficit ­ in democratic institutions?

A second argument maintains that Pakistan can begin to mobilize Israel's powerful lobbies in the US, in particular AIPAC, for its own interests. All it has to do is normalize relations with Israel. The naiveté of this argument borders on stupidity. Yes, Israel hankers for legitimacy which only Islamic states can give it. It is the key that will unlock the doors to Israeli penetration of the economies of Islamic countries; this will allow Israel to undermine the Islamic resistance to Zionism from within these countries. Surely, Israel will dangle the moon before gullible Pakistani generals and diplomats. But recognition is like virginity. Once Pakistan loses it, Israel will move to its next Islamic victim.

It is worth recounting here what one Pakistani newspaper ­ Daily Times ­ claims is Pakistan's chief leverage over Israel. It writes that "Pakistan will remain strategically more important [to Israel] as a Muslim state than India as a buyer of [Israeli] arms. India has offered itself as a partner in war; Israel actually needs a partner for peace in the Middle East." It is hard to fathom why Israel would turn to Pakistan ­ a country in South Asia ­ if it needs a partner for peace in the Middle East. Equally stunning, this newspaper has wholly bought into the Israeli canard that they had no partners for peace ­ even after the Oslo accords. Israel's expansionist agenda depends on ethnic cleansings and wars. It has never lacked for Arab states eager to capitulate ­ once it defeated the Arab armies in 1948. Peace has never served Israel's expansionist logic.

The General has repeatedly argued that there is no moral case now for denying legitimacy to Israel. If the Palestinians can recognize Israel, he demands, why should Pakistanis insist on being "more Palestinian than the Palestinians?" On moral consideration, this argument has no validity. Does a crime become legitimate if its victim ­ left undefended by society ­ 'accepts' his victimization? The Palestinian recognition of Israel amounts to nothing more than this. Abandoned by the world community ­ including the Muslims ­ some Palestinian factions chose the path of negotiation with their tormentors. In negotiations too, the Palestinians continue to reap a bitter harvest. Yet, instead of offering substantive support to the Palestinians, Pakistan's military rulers seek to legitimize Israeli crimes ­ on the plea that the victims have done the same. This cannot be deemed moral: instead, it is moral cowardice in the extreme.

The deluded Pakistanis who urge recognition must be told ­ and told repeatedly ­ that Israel has only one strategic interest in Pakistan. Israelis look upon Pakistan as a target for attack and dismemberment, and this for two reasons. As the second largest Islamic country ­ by far the largest in West Asia ­ it could someday challenge Israeli ambitions in West and Central Asia. More urgently, Israel views Pakistan as a potential nuclear threat. In either case, Pakistan interests Israel primarily as a target ­ a target for its F-16s, missiles and nuclear arsenal. This proposition holds regardless of how cravenly Pakistan seeks to befriend Israel. Israel will not tolerate a united and nuclear-armed Pakistan. Let Pakistanis ignore this incontestable fact only at their peril.

In closing, I would like to state ­ for the record ­ what I believe are the conditions which Israel must satisfy before the Islamic world ­ or indeed, the world ­ can willingly grant it legitimacy. Israel must dismantle its apartheid structure and remove all the barriers to the return and rehabilitation of the Palestinians it has pushed out of their homes since 1948. Once these conditions have been fully met, Israel ­ under whatever name ­ will cease to be an imperialist project. It will lose its expansionist logic. It can then become a native of the Middle East, and live at peace with its Muslim neighbors.




M. Shahid Alam teaches economics at a university in Boston. Some of his previous essays are available in a book, Is There An Islamic Problem (IBT Books, 2004). He may be reached at

Comment: Musharaf has been bought off by Bush. Pakistan is to receive aid from Washington, but only if they implement Washington's politics. Given the role Pakistan played as intermediary between the cabal in the Pentagon and Osama bin Laden, it is hardly likely that the country will reverse its course now.

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Jordan slams Sharon's claim to Jerusalem

By Ryan Jones
September 21st, 2005

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has responded with outrage and farcical counterclaims to Jewish assertions of a historic and religious right to the city of Jerusalem.

Last week, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the United Nations General Assembly Jerusalem is the “eternal undivided” capital of the nation of Israel, and a city the Jews have always held most dear.

On Monday Jordan's Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs blasted both Sharon and the UN over what it called “a statement full of lies and falsehoods.”

“How could this world organization allow a war criminal to review lies based on false claims and biblical legends in Palestine,” the committee wondered in an official statement released to the press. [...]

Comment: "Prince of New York" and 9/11 "Savior" ex-New York Mayor Rudolf Giuliani recently stated about Sharon:

"I have tremendous admiration for your prime minister. I think he's one of those really unusual people that knows how to put the good of the country in front of everything else," Giuliani said in response to a question from The Jerusalem Post at a press conference held Wednesday night.

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Europeans Drop Harsher Stance on Iran
Thursday September 22, 2005

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - The European Union on Thursday offered to delay its drive to bring Iran before the U.N. Security Council for its suspect atomic activities if Russia and China will agree to a new resolution that criticizes Tehran for violating nuclear commitments.

If an agreement is not reached, however, the EU, backed by the United States, planned to force a vote on the tougher resolution.

The new U.S.-backed European offer was contained in a text threatening Tehran only with referral to the Security Council at a later date. The previous EU draft resolution - which also remained on the table - urged the 35 nations on the International Atomic Energy Agency board of directors to report Iran to the U.N.'s highest decision-making body during the board's current session.

Neither version mentions sanctions, in recognition that veto-wielding Security Council members Russia and China were opposed.

Diplomats familiar with the West's strategy said the Europeans were keeping both options alive, urging the more than a dozen board members opposed to referral to accept the toned-down version or face the prospect of having the board vote on the earlier hard-line text. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

While not directly asking for Security Council referral, the new text finds Iran in noncompliance of commitments to the IAEA that would normally warrant such action. [...]

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To say we must stay in Iraq to save it from chaos is a lie
Simon Jenkins
Wednesday September 21, 2005
The Guardian

This is a fiasco without parallel in recent British history. Iraqis must run their country: we've made enough mess of it already

Don't be fooled a second time. They told you Britain must invade Iraq because of its weapons of mass destruction. They were wrong. Now they say British troops must stay in Iraq because otherwise it will collapse into chaos.

This second lie is infecting everyone. It is spouted by Labour and Tory opponents of the war and even by the Liberal Democrat spokesman, Sir Menzies Campbell. Its axiom is that western soldiers are so competent that, wherever they go, only good can result. It is their duty not to leave Iraq until order is established, infrastructure rebuilt and democracy entrenched.

Note the word "until". It hides a bloodstained half century of western self-delusion and arrogance. The white man's burden is still alive and well in the skies over Baghdad (the streets are now too dangerous). Soldiers and civilians may die by the hundred. Money may be squandered by the million. But Tony Blair tells us that only western values enforced by the barrel of a gun can save the hapless Mussulman from his own worst enemy, himself. [...]

The British government - and opposition - is in total denial. Ministerial boasts can't conceal the gloom of private briefings. Blair has done what no prime minister should do. He has put his soldiers at a foreign power's mercy. First that power was America. Now, according to the defence secretary, John Reid, it is a band of brave but desperate Iraqis entombed in Baghdad's Green Zone. He says he will stay until they request him to go, when local troops are trained and loyal and infrastructure is restored. That means doomsday. Everyone knows it.

Iraqis of my acquaintance are numb at the violence unleashed by the west's failure to impose order on their country. They are baffled at the ineptitude, the counter-productive cruelty of the arrests, bombings and suppressions. They are past caring whether it was better or worse under Saddam. They know only that more people a month are being killed than at any time since the massacres of the early 1990s. If death and destruction are any guide, Britain's pre-invasion policy of containment was far more successful than occupation.

Infrastructure is not being restored. Baghdad's water, electricity and sewers are in worse shape than a decade ago. Huge sums - such as the alleged $1bn for military supplies - are being stolen and stashed in Jordanian banks. The new constitution is a dead letter except the clauses that are blatantly sharia. These are already being enforced de facto in Shia areas.


The alleged reason for occupying Iraq was to build security and democracy. We have dismantled the first and failed to construct the second. Iraq is a fiasco without parallel in recent British policy. Now we are told that we must "stay the course" or worse will befall. This is code for ministers refusing to admit a mistake and hoping someone else will after they are gone. By then the Kurds will be more detached, the Sunnis more enraged and the Shias more fundamentalist. A hundred British soldiers will have died.

America left Vietnam and Lebanon to their fate. They survived. We left Aden and other colonies. Some, such as Malaya and Cyprus, saw bloodshed and partition. We said rightly that this was their business. So too is Iraq for the Iraqis. We have made enough mess there already.

British soldiers may indeed be the best in the world. But why then is Blair driving them to humiliation?

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Teen Kills Family Members, Dies in Crash
Associated Press
Wed Sep 21, 1:57 PM ET

ELKHORN CITY, Ky. - A 17-year-old who was sent home from school for being intoxicated shot his parents and grandmother to death, then died in a crash after police attempted to pull him over on a highway, authorities said. Another driver also was killed.

The teen was identified Wednesday as Matthew Hackney of Elkhorn Creek, a senior at East Ridge High School who authorities said had never been in trouble. School officials said the student had taken prescription painkillers.

Hackney was cited for public intoxication at the school Tuesday and released to the custody of his parents, State Police Lt. Bobby Johnson said.

That afternoon, a friend of the youth notified authorities of the shootings.

"He just told me he killed them," Christa Coleman, 18, told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "He said they had caught him with drugs and weed at school today. They had a drug test and he failed it, and when they tried to arrest him, he ran."

She said Hackney asked her if he could hide out at her home for a few days "and I told him, 'No way.'"

The bodies of Ivan Hackney, 47, Shirley Hackney, 44, and Wilma Hackney, 63, were found at the teen's home, Johnson said. Mike Maynard, a paramedic for the Elkhorn City Ambulance Service, said they were all shot multiple times, apparently with a large-caliber rifle.

Johnson said state troopers spotted Hackney on a highway and attempted to stop him, but Hackney lost control and crashed head-on into a pickup truck, killing Terry A. Taylor, 41, an Elkhorn City employee.

Pike County School Superintendent Frank Welch said the teen told an assistant principal that he had taken five Ultrams, a prescription painkiller. "I don't think at this point in time they know exactly where he got them," Welch said.

Hackney had never been in trouble at the school before, and students, teachers and administrators were devastated, Welch said.

"It's just a tragedy," Welch said. "When you talk to the teachers and the people who knew him, they say there wasn't a better student who ever went through that school than him."

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Speedy but spiritual: British cleric unveils '100-Minute Bible'
Wed Sep 21, 7:21 AM ET

LONDON - Business folk are used to reading executive summaries of important documents, and now would-be Christians are to have the same privilege, in the form of a chopped-down Bible that can be read in under two hours.

A Church of England vicar was on Wednesday unveiling his self-styled "100-Minute Bible", an ultra-condensed edition of the Christian holy book which claims to neatly summarise every teaching from the Creation to the Revelation.

The Reverend Michael Hinton was launching his work at Canterbury Cathedral in southern England, the headquarters of the Anglican Church.

Publishers the 100-Minute Press say the book has been written for those who want to know more about Christianity but who do not have the time to read the original in full.

"This is a book for adults and has been written in a style to encourage readers to keep turning the pages, but without resorting to any literary gimmicks," said Len Budd from the publishing firm.

"As the bible itself, the 100-Minute Bible should be a bestseller."

Comment: Hinton reportedly considered naming his new book "The Happy Meal Bible".

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Penguin wars: French wildlife film sparks US religious skirmish
Tue Sep 20,10:38 AM ET

WASHINGTON - From the Pledge of Allegiance to abortion and the siting of stones inscribed with the Ten Commandments, secularists and the religious right have fought bruising battles for the American soul in recent years.

To this lengthening list, another can be added: the penguin.

The cause is a French wildlife documentary, "March of the Penguins", which has been the surprise blockbuster of the American movie summer.

The feature-length film by Luc Jacquet recounts the heroic life of the Emperor penguin, a species that battles against extraordinary conditions in Antarctica.

Blizzards, gales and a chill reaching to -40 degrees C (-40 degrees F) are only a few of the obstacles thrown in the penguins' way.

After laying their single eggs, the females trudge in single file to feeding grounds 110 kilometers (70 miles) from their breeding site.

For two months, the male sits on the egg to keep it warm and let the chick hatch, awaiting the return of the female bringing food for their offspring.

Only when the mother returns does the father then make his own trek to the distant coast to ease his own hunger.

Like audiences elsewhere, Americans have applauded this film, entranced by its photography and stunned by the flightless birds' epic fight.

But "March of the Penguins" has become more than a wildlife hit -- it is on track for becoming the most politically-contested movie in America since "Fahrenheit 9/11," Michael Moore's take on President George W. Bush's war on terror.

Little do they know it, but the penguins have been seized upon by conservative Christians as a parable of family virtues, a role model for men, an argument against abortion and convincing proof that Darwin was wrong.

The movie is "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child-rearing," film critic Michael Medved told The New York Times last week.

For devout Christians, he suggested, "This is the first movie they've enjoyed since 'The Passion of the Christ'. This is 'The Passion of the Penguins.'"

"March of the Penguins" has taken at least 37 million dollars, making it the most successful French film in America after the 66 million dollars reaped by Luc Besson's English-language sci-fi movie "The Fifth Element" in 1997.

One Christian organisation, the 153 House Churches Network, raves over the film as proof of the glory of God. It is organising workshops in which families are invited to homes and cinemas to see the film.

Christians can be inspired by exemplary "dedication, cooperation and affection" between the mating penguins and the loyalty and perseverance of the father, says Mari Helms, reviewing the movie on

Rich Lowry, editor of the right-wing publication the National Review, urged young conservatives to check out the documentary.

"It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy," he said last month. [...]

Secularists point out that emperor penguins have a freewheeling sexual life and that homosexuality among penguin species is quite common.

"These penguins get around. They switch mates with each new mating season, which makes for some pretty slutty birds -- and change the operative question from 'What Would Jesus Do?' to 'Who Would Jesus Do?'" notes Sheerly Avni on

A deeper question is whether the penguins survive as a result of evolutionary pressure or divine will.

"It is hard not to see the theological overtones in the movie... Beauty, goodness, love and devotion are all part of nature, built into the DNA of the universe," said Maggie Gallagher, a columnist with

But, Washington Post columnist George Will asked, "If an Intelligent Designer designed nature, why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins?

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Mysterious Stars Surround Andromeda's Black Hole
Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer,
Tue Sep 20, 2:00 PM ET

Stars race around a black hole at the center of the Andromeda galaxy so fast that they could go the distance from Earth to the Moon in six minutes.

The finding, announced today, solves a mystery over the source of strange blue light coming from Andromeda's center. But it generates a new puzzle: The stars' phenomenal orbital velocity suggests they should never have formed in the first place.

Astronomers first spotted the blue light near Andromeda's core in 1995. Three years later, another group determined that the light emanated from a cluster of hot, young stars. Nobody knew how many were involved.

New data from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal more than 400 blue stars that formed in a burst of activity roughly 200 million years ago, astronomers said.

The stars are packed into a disk that is just 1 light-year across.

That's amazingly compact by cosmic standards. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). The nearest star to our Sun is about 4.3 light-years away.

Unlikely setup

"The blue stars in the disk are so short-lived that it is unlikely in the long 12-billion-year history of Andromeda that such a short-lived disk would appear now," said Tod Lauer of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. "We think that the mechanism that formed this disk of stars probably formed other stellar disks in the past and will trigger them again in the future. We still don't know, however, how such a disk could form in the first place. It still remains an enigma." [...]

Common activity?

The new observations also provide clinching evidence that Andromeda's central dark object is a black hole and not something else. It packs a mass of 140 million suns, the new study finds.

Ultimately, the strange goings-on in Andromeda may turn out to be commonplace.

"The dynamics within the core of this neighboring galaxy may be more common than we think," Lauer said. "Our own Milky Way apparently has even younger stars close to its own black hole. It seems unlikely that only the closest two big galaxies should have this odd activity. So this behavior may not be the exception but the rule. And we have found other galaxies that have a double nucleus."

Hubble is a cooperative effort between NASA and the European Space Agency.

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Magnitude 6.2 Earthquake - KURIL ISLANDS
2005 September 21 02:25:07 UTC

A strong earthquake occurred at 02:25:07 (UTC) on Wednesday, September 21, 2005. The magnitude 6.2 event has been located in the KURIL ISLANDS. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Second quake in two days hits Ethiopia: Magnitude 5.0
2005 September 22 03:12:33 UTC

A moderate earthquake occurred at 03:12:33 (UTC) on Thursday, September 22, 2005. The magnitude 5.0 event has been located in ETHIOPIA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

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Small quake rattles WA
September 22, 2005
The Australian

A SMALL earthquake has rattled windows and shaken crockery in Western Australia's wheatbelt region, seismologists said today.

The magnitude four quake was recorded at 6.46am (WST) today, about 275km north of Perth near the town of Kalannie, GeoScience Australia said.

Three aftershocks – registering up to 3.5 on the Richter scale – were also felt by locals.

But the tremors were unlikely to have caused any damage, seismologist Trevor Allen said.

"They would have been felt for a distance of 50km from the epicentre, which was 15km north of Kalannie," Mr Allen said.

"The initial earthquake probably would have shaken crockery on shelves and rattled windows."

Mr Allen said WA's wheatbelt region experienced a lot of earthquake activity, although scientist were unsure why.

A series of 20,000 earthquakes was recorded near the town of Burakin, 20km east of Kalannie, over an 18-month period in 2001-02, he said.

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EU moves to tighten bird flu defences
22/09/2005 - 13:51:55

Senior veterinary and human health experts from around the European Union met together for the first time today to co-ordinate efforts to contain the spread of Asia’s deadly bird flu epidemic.

The EU said the experts said the talks focused on addressing the threat of a “possible human pandemic” developing from the avian influenza outbreak.

A statement said the experts want to “establish a synchronised rapid reaction for vets and doctors in the event of an avian influenza outbreak in the EU”.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has swept through poultry populations in large swathes of Asia since 2003, killing at least 63 people and resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of birds. Most human cases have been linked to contact with sick birds. But the World Health Organisation has warned that the virus could mutate into a form that can easily spread among humans, possibly triggering a global pandemic that could kill millions.

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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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