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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

©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Killing Our Kids

Every parent knows the feeling of seeing one of their children in pain, sick, gazing up with a beseeching look of "Make it stop!" It has been often remarked that it is unnatural for a parent to outlive a child, the gut-wrenching heartache, the visceral screaming from deep within, the anguished cry of "Why!"

Cindy Sheehan is transmuting her agony at the loss of her son by demanding that the culprit, George W. Bush, be held accountable, that he take the time to acknowledge her suffering and answer the simple question of "Why?" She speaks to all parents; we all recognise her pain as it lives in a dark corner of all of our imaginations.

One of the propaganda goals when a country goes to war is the successful transformation of the enemy from human being with hopes and fears, family and friends just like ourselves, into sub-human monsters who eat their young. Brutalised to consider the enemy as wholly other, we no longer care about their losses, about the mothers and fathers weeping at the deaths of their young men and woman. We no longer care when we hear that as many as one million Iraqi children died as a result of the US-backed and UN-imposed sanctions after the first Gulf War. "We think it was worth it," infamously responded Madeleine Albright on CBS in 1996.

When you kill a country's children, you are killing its future.

Every town in France has a cenotaph with the names of the children sacrificed during the First World War. To what?

Yet there is a more subtle killing of our children that goes on every day, the killing of the spirit that happens in school. Curious children, open to the world, are turned into consumers and cogs in the corporate machinery, learning how to sit still, follow orders, respond to bells like Pavlovian dogs, memorise and recite, and refrain from asking questions. What they don't learn how to do is think.

Most people who pass through American schools don't even learn how to read. As John Taylor Gatto points out in his book The Underground History of American Education:

The National Adult Literacy Survey represents 190 million U.S. adults over age sixteen with an average school attendance of 12.4 years. The survey is conducted by the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey. It ranks adult Americans into five levels. Here is its 1993 analysis:

  1. Forty-two million Americans over the age of sixteen can’t read. Some of this group can write their names on Social Security cards and fill in height, weight, and birth spaces on application forms.

  2. Fifty million can recognize printed words on a fourth- and fifth-grade level. They cannot write simple messages or letters.

  3. Fifty-five to sixty million are limited to sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade reading. A majority of this group could not figure out the price per ounce of peanut butter in a 20-ounce jar costing $1.99 when told they could round the answer off to a whole number.

  4. Thirty million have ninth- and tenth-grade reading proficiency. This group (and all preceding) cannot understand a simplified written explanation of the procedures used by attorneys and judges in selecting juries.

  5. About 3.5 percent of the 26,000-member sample demonstrated literacy skills adequate to do traditional college study, a level 30 percent of all U.S. high school students reached in 1940, and which 30 percent of secondary students in other developed countries can reach today. This last fact alone should warn you how misleading comparisons drawn from international student competitions really are, since the samples each country sends are small elite ones, unrepresentative of the entire student population. But behind the bogus superiority a real one is concealed.

  6. Ninety-six and a half percent of the American population is mediocre to illiterate where deciphering print is concerned. This is no commentary on their intelligence, but without ability to take in primary information from print and to interpret it they are at the mercy of commentators who tell them what things mean. A working definition of immaturity might include an excessive need for other people to interpret information for us.

Think about it. "Ninety-six and a half percent of the American population is mediocre to illiterate where deciphering print is concerned."

That is such an astonishing figure.

What are we doing to our children?

How did it happen?

Gatto offers some insight.

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History of Modern [American] Education
John Taylor Gatto

The Makers of Modern [American] Schooling

The real makers of modern schooling weren't at all who we think.

Not Cotton Mather.

Not Horace Mann.

Not John Dewey.

The real makers of modern schooling were leaders of the new American industrialist class, men like:

Andrew Carnegie, the steel baron...

John D. Rockefeller, the duke of oil...

Henry Ford, master of the assembly line which compounded steel and oil into a vehicular dynasty...

and J.P. Morgan, the king of capitalist finance...

Men like these, and the brilliant efficiency expert Frederick W. Taylor, who inspired the entire "social efficiency" movement of the early twentieth century, along with providing the new Soviet Union its operating philosophy and doing the same job for Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany; men who dreamed bigger dreams than any had dreamed since Napoleon or Charlemagne, these were the makers of modern schooling.

If modern schooling has a “Fourth Purpose,” there must be an earlier three.

Traditional forms of instruction in America, even before the Revolution, had three specific purposes:

  1. To make good people
  2. To make good citizens
  3. And to make each student find some particular talents to develop to the maximum.

The new mass schooling which came about slowly but continuously after 1890, had a different purpose, a "fourth" purpose.

The fourth purpose steadily squeezed the traditional three to the margins of schooling; in the fourth purpose, school in America became like school in Germany, a servant of corporate and political management.

We should reveal the mechanism of mind control training, habits, and attitudes.

Children were literally trained in bad habits and bad attitudes!

Teachers and principals, “scientifically”certified in teachers college practices, were made unaware of the invisible curriculum they really taught.

The secret of commerce, that kids drive purchases, meant that schools had to become psychological laboratories where training in consumerism was the central pursuit.

Since bored people are the best consumers, school had to be a boring place, and since childish people are the easiest customers to convince, the manufacture of childishness, extended into adulthood, had to be the first priority of factory schools. Naturally, teachers and administrators weren't let in on this plan; they didn't need to be. If they didn't conform to instructions passed down from increasingly centralized school offices, they didn't last long.

In the new system, schools were gradually re-formed to meet the pressing need of big businesses to have standardized customers and employees, standardized because such people are predictable in certain crucial ways by mathematical formulae. Business (and government) can only be efficient if human beings are redesigned to meet simplified specifications. As the century wore on, school spaces themselves were opened bit by bit to commercialization.

These processes didn't advance evenly. Some localities resisted more than others, some decades were more propitious for the plan than others. Especially during and just after national emergencies like WWI, the Depression, WWII, and the Sputnik crisis, the scheme rocketed forward; in quieter moments it was becalmed or even forced to give up some ground.

But even in moments of greatest resistance, the institutions controlling the fourth purpose—great corporations, great universities, government bureaus with vast powers to reward or punish, and corporate journalism—increasingly centralized in fewer and fewer hands throughout the twentieth century, kept a steady hand on the tiller. They had ample resources to wear down and outwait the competition.

The prize was of inestimable value--control of the minds of the young.

After 1900 the new mass schooling arenas slowly became impersonal places where children were viewed as HUMAN RESOURCES. Whenever you hear this term, you are certain to be in the presence of employees of the fourth purpose, however unwitting. Human resource children are to be molded and shaped for something called "The Workplace," even though for most of American history American children were reared to expect to create their own workplaces.

In the new workplace, most Americans were slated to work for large corporations or large government agencies, if they worked at all.

This revolution in the composition of the American dream produced some unpleasant byproducts. Since systematic forms of employment demand that employees specialize their efforts in one or another function of systematic production, then clear thinking warns us that incomplete people make the best corporate and government employees.

Earlier Americans like Madison and Jefferson were well aware of this paradox, which our own time has forgotten. And if that is so, mutilation in the interests of later social efficiency has to be one of the biggest tasks assigned to forced schooling.

Not only was the new form of institution spiritually dangerous as a matter of course, but school became a physically dangerous place as well.

What better way to habituate kids to abandoning trust in their peers (and themselves) than to create an atmosphere of constant low-level stress and danger, relief from which is only available by appeal to authority? And many times not even then!

Horace Mann had sold forced schooling to industrialists of the mid-nineteenth century as the best "police" to create moral children, but ironically, as it turned out in the twentieth century, big business and big government were best served by making schoolrooms antechambers to Hell.

As the twentieth century progressed, and particularly after WWII, schools evolved into behavioral training centers, laboratories of experimentation in the interests of corporations and the government. The original model for this development had been Prussian Germany, but few remembered.

School became jail-time to escape if you could, arenas of meaningless pressure as with the omnipresent "standardized" exams, which study after study concluded were measuring nothing real.

For instance, take the case of Bill Bradley. . .

 and George W. Bush,

two of the four finalists in the 2000 presidential race. Bradley had a horrifying 480 on the verbal part of his own SATs, yet graduated from Princeton, won a Rhodes Scholarship, and became a senator; Bush graduated from Yale, became governor of Texas, and president of the United States—with a mediocre 550.

If you can become governor, senator, and president with mediocre SAT scores, what exactly do the tests measure?

Perhaps they sort out good scientists from bad? If so, how is it that both the scientists principally involved in the Human Genome Project have strange scholarly backgrounds to say the least!

Francis S. Collins, the head of the public portion, was homeschooled, never followed any type of formal curriculum, and is a born-again Christian.

Craig Venter was a very bad boy in high school, a surfing bum who nearly flunked out, and he didn't go to college after graduation, but into the U.S. Army as an enlisted man before being shipped off to Vietnam!

As you'll learn when you read The Underground History of American Education the new purpose of schooling—to serve business and government—could only be achieved efficiently by isolating children from the real world, with adults who themselves were isolated from the real world, and everyone in the confinement isolated from one another.

Only then could the necessary training in boredom and bewilderment begin. Such training is necessary to produce dependable consumers and dependent citizens who would always look for a teacher to tell them what to do in later life, even if that teacher was an ad man or television anchor.

The rationale, history, and dynamics of Fourth Purpose school procedure are carefully examined in The Underground History of American Education.

Comment: We have talked before of the plans implemented by people like the Rockefellers in the early decades of this century. In our new book, 911: The Ultimate Truth, we discuss the existence of the Institute for Higher Mathematics at Princeton and how it was stuffed with important Jewish scientists prior to the war while poor Jews were left to die. So we are aware of the process that Gatto describes in his work.

It is no accident that the American people have been dumbed down over the decades. It is part of a larger plan. Obviously, we don't think that everyone involved in the planning of the US educational system was consciously part of a larger conspiracy. Having limited knowledge of why the schools were organised as they were was enough: we need automatons for our factories and for our offices. For most people, there didn't need to be any other reason. It is only with the benefit of hindsight and history that we can see that these pieces are part of a much larger plan, an even more sinister plan. But to understand the depths, one needs an understanding of hyperdimensional reality, the highly probable hypothesis that we are not the top of the food chain, that we are someone else's experiment. See Laura's The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive for more on this.

But let's look again at Gatto's description of US schooling. The following is taken from an article that appeared in Harpers in 2003.

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How public education cripples our kids, and why
By John Taylor Gatto
John Taylor Gatto is a former New York State and New York City Teacher of the
Year and the author, most recently, of The Underground History of American
Education. He was a participant in the Harper's Magazine forum "School on a Hill,"
which appeared in the September 2001 issue.
I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn't seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren't interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were.
Boredom is the common condition of schoolteachers, and anyone who has spent time in a teachers' lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, the dispirited attitudes, to be found there. When asked why they feel bored, the teachers tend to blame the kids, as you might expect. Who wouldn't get bored teaching students who are rude and interested only in grades? If even that. Of course, teachers are themselves products of the same twelve-year compulsory school programs that so thoroughly bore their students, and as school personnel they are trapped inside structures even more rigid than those imposed upon the children. Who, then, is to blame?
We all are. My grandfather taught me that. One afternoon when I was seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the head. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's. The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if possible. Certainty not to be trusted. That episode cured me of boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to pass on the lesson to some remarkable student. For the most part, however, I found it futile to challenge the official notion that boredom and childishness were the natural state of affairs in the classroom. Often I had to defy custom, and even bend the law, to help kids break out of this trap.
The empire struck back, of course; childish adults regularly conflate opposition with disloyalty. I once returned from a medical leave to discover that all evidence of my having been granted the leave had been purposely destroyed, that my job had been terminated, and that I no longer possessed even a teaching license. After nine months of tormented effort I was able to retrieve the license when a school secretary testified to witnessing the plot unfold. In the meantime my family suffered more than I care to remember. By the time I finally retired in 1991, I had more than enough reason to think of our schools-with their long-term, cell-block-style, forced confinement of both students and teachers-as virtual factories of childishness. Yet I honestly could not see why they had to be that way. My own experience had revealed to me what many other teachers must learn along the way, too, yet keep to themselves for fear of reprisal: if we wanted to we could easily and inexpensively jettison the old, stupid structures and help kids take an education rather than merely receive a schooling. We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness-curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids to truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then.
But we don't do that. And the more I asked why not, and persisted in thinking about the "problem" of schooling as an engineer might, the more I missed the point: What if there is no "problem" with our schools? What if they are the way they are, so expensively flying in the face of common sense and long experience in how children learn things, not because they are doing something wrong but because they are doing something right? Is it possible that George W. Bush accidentally spoke the truth when he said we would "leave no child behind"? Could it be that our schools are designed to make sure not one of them ever really grows up?
Do we really need school? I don't mean education, just forced schooling: six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years. Is this deadly routine really necessary? And if so, for what? Don't hide behind reading, writing, and arithmetic as a rationale, because 2 million happy homeschoolers have surely put that banal justification to rest. Even if they hadn't, a considerable number of well-known Americans never went through the twelve-year wringer our kids currently go through, and they turned out all right. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln? Someone taught them, to be sure, but they were not products of a school system, and not one of them was ever "graduated" from a secondary school. Throughout most of American history, kids generally didn't go to high school, yet the unschooled rose to be admirals, like Farragut; inventors, like Edison; captains of industry like Carnegie and Rockefeller; writers, like Melville and Twain and Conrad; and even scholars, like Margaret Mead. In fact, until pretty recently people who reached the age of thirteen weren't looked upon as children at all. Ariel Durant, who co-wrote an enormous, and very good, multivolume history of the world with her husband, Will, was happily married at fifteen, and who could reasonably claim that Ariel Durant was an uneducated person? Unschooled, perhaps, but not uneducated.
We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think of "success" as synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, "schooling," but historically that isn't true in either an intellectual or a financial sense. And plenty of people throughout the world today find a way to educate themselves without resorting to a system of compulsory secondary schools that all too often resemble prisons. Why, then, do Americans confuse education with just such a system? What exactly is the purpose of our public schools?
Mass schooling of a compulsory nature really got its teeth into the United States between 1905 and 1915, though it was conceived of much earlier and pushed for throughout most of the nineteenth century. The reason given for this enormous upheaval of family life and cultural traditions was, roughly speaking, threefold:
1) To make good people. 2) To make good citizens. 3) To make each person his or her personal best. These goals are still trotted out today on a regular basis, and most of us accept them in one form or another as a decent definition of public education's mission, however short schools actually fall in achieving them. But we are dead wrong. Compounding our error is the fact that the national literature holds numerous and surprisingly consistent statements of compulsory schooling's true purpose. We have, for example, the great H. L. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not
to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.
Because of Mencken's reputation as a satirist, we might be tempted to dismiss this passage as a bit of hyperbolic sarcasm. His article, however, goes on to trace the template for our own educational system back to the now vanished, though never to be forgotten, military state of Prussia. And although he was certainly aware of the irony that we had recently been at war with Germany, the heir to Prussian thought and culture, Mencken was being perfectly serious here. Our educational system really is Prussian in origin, and that really is cause for concern.
The odd fact of a Prussian provenance for our schools pops up again and again once you know to look for it. William James alluded to it many times at the turn of the century. Orestes Brownson, the hero of Christopher Lasch's 1991 book, The True and Only Heaven, was publicly denouncing the Prussianization of American schools back in the 1840s. Horace Mann's "Seventh Annual Report" to the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1843 is essentially a paean to the land of Frederick the Great and a call for its schooling to be brought here. That Prussian culture loomed large in America is hardly surprising, given our early association with that utopian state. A Prussian served as Washington's aide during the Revolutionary War, and so many German-speaking people had settled here by 1795 that Congress considered publishing a German-language edition of the federal laws. But what shocks is that we should so eagerly have adopted one of the very worst aspects of Prussian culture: an educational system deliberately designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students appreciable leadership skills, and to ensure docile and incomplete citizens in order to render the populace "manageable."
It was from James Bryant Conant-president of Harvard for twenty years, WWI poison-gas specialist, WWII executive on the atomic-bomb project, high commissioner of the American zone in Germany after WWII, and truly one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century-that I first got wind of the real purposes of American schooling. Without Conant, we would probably not have the same style and degree of standardized testing that we enjoy today, nor would we be blessed with gargantuan high schools that warehouse 2,000 to 4,000 students at a time, like the famous Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado. Shortly after I retired from teaching I picked up Conant's 1959 book-length essay, The Child the Parent and the State, and was more than a little intrigued to see him mention in passing that the modem schools we attend were the result of a "revolution" engineered between 1905 and 1930. A revolution? He declines to elaborate, but he does direct the curious and the uninformed to Alexander Inglis's 1918 book, Principles of Secondary Education, in which "one saw this revolution through the eyes of a revolutionary."
Inglis, for whom a lecture in education at Harvard is named, makes it perfectly clear that compulsory schooling on this continent was intended to be just what it had been for Prussia in the 1820s: a fifth column into the burgeoning democratic movement that threatened to give the peasants and the proletarians a voice at the bargaining table. Modern, industrialized, compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of these underclasses. Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever re-integrate into a dangerous whole.
Inglis breaks down the purpose - the actual purpose - of modem schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier:
1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.
2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.
3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records. As in "your permanent record." Yes, you do have one.
4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further. So much for making kids their personal best.

5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races." In short, the idea is to help things along by consciously attempting to improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit - with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments - clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes. That's what all those little humiliations from first grade onward were intended to do: wash the dirt down the drain.

6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. To that end, a small fraction of the kids will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.

That, unfortunately, is the purpose of mandatory public education in this country. And lest you take Inglis for an isolated crank with a rather too cynical take on the educational enterprise, you should know that he was hardly alone in championing these ideas. Conant himself, building on the ideas of Horace Mann and others, campaigned tirelessly for an American school system designed along the same lines. Men like George Peabody, who funded the cause of mandatory schooling throughout the South, surely understood that the Prussian system was useful in creating not only a harmless electorate and a servile labor force but also a virtual herd of mindless consumers. In time a great number of industrial titans came to recognize the enormous profits to be had by cultivating and tending just such a herd via public education, among them Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.
There you have it. Now you know. We don't need Karl Marx's conception of a grand warfare between the classes to see that it is in the interest of complex management, economic or political, to dumb people down, to demoralize them, to divide them from one another, and to discard them if they don't conform. Class may frame the proposition, as when Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, said the following to the New York City School Teachers Association in 1909: "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks." But the motives behind the disgusting decisions that bring about these ends need not be class-based at all. They can stem purely from fear, or from the by now familiar belief that "efficiency" is the paramount virtue, rather than love, liberty, laughter, or hope. Above all, they can stem from simple greed.
There were vast fortunes to be made, after all, in an economy based on mass production and organized to favor the large corporation rather than the small business or the family farm. But mass production required mass consumption, and at the turn of the twentieth century most Americans considered it both unnatural and unwise to buy things they didn't actually need. Mandatory schooling was a godsend on that count. School didn't have to train kids in any direct sense to think they should consume nonstop, because it did something even better: it encouraged them not to think at all. And that left them sitting ducks for another great invention of the modem era - marketing.
Now, you needn't have studied marketing to know that there are two groups of people who can always be convinced to consume more than they need to: addicts and children. School has done a pretty good job of turning our children into addicts, but it has done a spectacular job of turning our children into children. Again, this is no accident. Theorists from Plato to Rousseau to our own Dr. Inglis knew that if children could be cloistered with other children, stripped of responsibility and independence, encouraged to develop only the trivializing emotions of greed, envy, jealousy, and fear, they would grow older but never truly grow up. In the 1934 edition of his once well-known book Public Education in the United States, Ellwood P. Cubberley detailed and praised the way the strategy of successive school enlargements had extended childhood by two to six years, and forced schooling was at that point still quite new. This same Cubberley - who was dean of Stanford's School of Education, a textbook editor at Houghton Mifflin, and Conant's friend and correspondent at Harvard - had written the following in the 1922 edition of his book Public School Administration: "Our schools are ... factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned .... And it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down."
It's perfectly obvious from our society today what those specifications were. Maturity has by now been banished from nearly every aspect of our lives. Easy divorce laws have removed the need to work at relationships; easy credit has removed the need for fiscal self-control; easy entertainment has removed the need to learn to entertain oneself; easy answers have removed the need to ask questions. We have become a nation of children, happy to surrender our judgments and our wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments that would insult actual adults. We buy televisions, and then we buy the things we see on the television. We buy computers, and then we buy the things we see on the computer. We buy $150 sneakers whether we need them or not, and when they fall apart too soon we buy another pair. We drive SUVs and believe the lie that they constitute a kind of life insurance, even when we're upside-down in them. And, worst of all, we don't bat an eye when Ari Fleischer tells us to "be careful what you say," even if we remember having been told somewhere back in school that America is the land of the free. We simply buy that one too. Our schooling, as intended, has seen to it.
Now for the good news. Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks and traps are fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they'll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology - all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.
First, though, we must wake up to what our schools really are: laboratories of experimentation on young minds, drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants. Don't let your own have their childhoods extended, not even for a day. If David Farragut could take command of a captured British warship as a pre-teen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of twelve, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself to a printer at the same age (then put himself through a course of study that would choke a Yale senior today), there's no telling what your own kids could do. After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I've concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven't yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.

Comment: It all fits, doesn't it? The United States has the population that was needed to support George Bush and the war on terror. It can be argued, of course, that the population got the president that reflects their own level of being, their state of awareness. This is where a study of history is necessary, where one must put together the jigsaw puzzle that stretches back thousands of years to the time when Yahweh spoke to Abraham, also known as Moses. You didn't know they were one and the same person? Then you are missing an important piece of the puzzle.

But, then, it is absurd to think that there exists a conspiracy of such cunning and cohesion that it could last for five thousand years or more!

To which we reply, "Hyperdimensions. Beings who can move through space-time as easily we move through our own homes."

But we have moved from our initial subject, our children.

Or have we?

What kind of a world are we bequeathing to our children? In what kind of world are they being raised? If we continue to deny and block out the fundamental fact of our existence, the one piece of the puzzle that makes sense of the terror and violence, what hope will they ever have of understanding what is happening to them, their friends and family, as well as the other 6 billion people with whom they share the planet?

If we do not give them the intellectual tools coupled with the emotional strength and security to go their own way, to think through problems on their own, refusing to go along with the crowd because it is the easy thing to do or the socially necessary thing to do, how will they ever be able to deal with the struggles and suffering that life provides? But we live in a narcissistic society, a self-perpetuating prison of the emotions and our psychic structures that mechanically reproduces itself as generation after generation sets a example for the next based upon stunted emotional development and the enshrining of the self and the satisfaction of its basest desires as the pinnacle of evolutionary and technological progress. And most people don't know any better. Not only that, they are on some level, because of their programming, incapable of understanding it. The circuits that have been laid down are hard to destroy. It takes courage and will power to do so.

There is much evidence that children pass through certain, specific developmental stages as they grow. There are moments in a child's life when these circuits are being laid. If the circuit is not laid as it should be at the appropriate step, then that lack will be felt throughout the child's life. In reflecting upon the "scientific" manner in which the American school system was planned and organised in its perfection of the perfect control mechanism for creating sheep, we wonder whether the knowledge of developmental stages was used in order to purposefully stunt and inhibit the growth of what Woodrow Wilson called "this very much larger class". We think that it is likely.

Gatto speaks of schools turning our children into children, of extending their childhood. Ariel Dorfman touches on the infantilisation at the heart of the mass media and what he calls industrial culture in his book The Empire's Old Clothes. In his conclusion he writes:

It's no accident that this infantile core emerges time and again in these essays dealing with some of the major successes of mass media culture. It has been constantly observed that the culture industry, tailored to answer to the simultaneous needs of immense groups of people, levels off its messages at the so-called lowest common denominator, creating only that which everybody can understand effortlessly. This common denominator (as has been pointed out frequently) is based on a construct of -- what else? -- the median, quintessential North American common man, who has undergone secular canonization as the universal measure for humanity. What has not been so clearly stated is this: When that man is reduced to his average, shaved of his adult faculties and conflicting experiences, handed a solution that suckle and comfort him, robbed of his future, what is left is a babe, a dwindled, decreased human being.

Perhaps it is inevitable that the consumer should be treated as an infant, helpless and demanding, in societies such as ours. As a member of a democratic system, he has the right to vote and the even more important right to consume; but at the same time he is not really participating in the determination of his future or that of the world. People can be treated as children because they do not, in effect, control their own destiny. Even if they feel themselves to be utterly free, they are objectively vulnerable and dependent, passive in a world commandeered by others, a world where the messages they swallow have originated in other people's minds. [pp 199-200]

Dorfman's book considers the effects of American industrial culture on what was then known as the Third World. He writes:

Since those communities, classes, races, continents, and individuals who don't fit the official mold tend to be viewed as "children", as incomplete beings who haven't yet reached the age of maturity, it is children's literature, or the infantilization of mass market adult literature, which forms the basis for the entire process of cultural domination. Henry Kissinger, the whiz kid of international politics, put it in those terms when he justified the intervention of the CIA in the overthrow of my country's legitimate president by saying, "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people". [p. 8]

We see that this same attitude extends towards the people of the United States itself, that those in control consciously think of and treat their co-citizens as children, as immature, as incapable of running their own affairs. Not only that, they have organised the entire society based upon and to perpetuate that idea.

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20% of Seniors Flunk High School Graduation Exam
By Duke Helfand
LA Times Staff Writer
October 1, 2005

Nearly 100,000 California 12th graders - or about 20% of this year's senior class - have failed the state's graduation exam, potentially jeopardizing their chances of earning diplomas, according to the most definitive report on the mandatory test, released Friday.

Students in the class of 2006, the first group to face the graduation requirement, must pass both the English and math sections of the test by June

The exit exam - which has come under criticism by some educators, legislators and civil rights advocates - is geared to an eighth-grade level in math and to ninth- and 10th-grade levels in English.

But the report by the Virginia-based Human Resources Research Organization showed that tens of thousands of students, particularly those in special education and others who speak English as a second language, may fail the test by the end of their senior year despite remedial classes, after-school tutoring and other academic help.

Teachers, according to the report, said that many students arrive unprepared and unmotivated for their high school courses and that their grades often reflect poor attendance and low parental involvement.

The group reviewed the test results as part of a report ordered by the Legislature when it instituted the exit exam several years ago.

Among its findings: 63% of African Americans and 68% of Latinos in the class of 2006 have passed both parts of the exam.

By comparison, 89% of Asians and 90% of whites have passed. The report recommended that the state keep the exam but consider several alternatives for students who can't pass.

"Clearly, we need to have some options for these students," said Lauress L. Wise, the firm's president, in a telephone interview with reporters.

The state, for example, could allow seniors to submit portfolios of work that demonstrate mastery of English and math, the report's authors suggested.

The report also proposed that schools allow students to spend an extra year in high school or earn diplomas by completing special summer school programs in lieu of the exam.

Additionally, the state could establish alternate diplomas or graduation certificates for students who pass part of the exit exam, the group said.

But California's superintendent of public instruction, Jack O'Connell, said he opposes any change that would diminish the worth of a high school diploma.

"It's important to keep one core principle front and center: awarding a student a diploma without the skills and knowledge to back it up does the student a disservice," said O'Connell, who added that his staff would study the options outlined in the report.

The exit exam was originally slated for students in the class of 2004. But disappointing passing rates prompted state education officials to push the requirement back two years. The state also shortened the test from three days to two.

Students get several opportunities to pass the exam in high school, and they have to correctly answer only a little more than half of the questions to succeed.

Even so, the exam has come under legal attack by disability rights advocates who fear the effect on special education students; just 35% of such students have passed both parts of the exam so far. [...]

Opponents of the exam said that it penalizes minority students and those in low-income communities whose overcrowded schools often lack experienced teachers and other necessary resources.

"It's unfair to give this test because of the unequal school system we have," said Edgar Sanchez, who teaches U.S. history at Washington Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles. "Every day I see students go through conditions of overcrowding. Sometimes students don't have a desk to sit at." [...]

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Signs Economic Commentary
Donald Hunt
October 3, 2005

Friday was the last day of the third quarter of 2005, so let's review the numbers for the quarter and for the year.

The U.S. dollar closed at 0.8319 euros, up 0.2% from 0.8306 for the week, down 1.0% from 0.8400 for the quarter and up 12.6% from 0.7390 for the year. Oil closed at $66.24 a barrel, up 3.2% from $64.19 last week and up 12.7% from $58.75 at the end of Q2 and up 52.5% from $43.45 for the year. Oil in euros was 55.11 euros a barrel, up 3.4% compared to 53.31 a week ago and up 11.7% from 49.34 at the end of the second quarter and and up 71.7% from 32.09 at the beginning of the year. Gold closed at 472.20 dollars an ounce on Friday, up 1.0% from $467.40 a week earlier and up 10.0% from $429.30 for the quarter and up 8.0% from $437.10 for the year. In euros, gold closed at 392.66 euros an ounce, up 1.1% from 388.21 last week and up 8.9% from 360.51 for the quarter and up 21.8% from 322.32 for the year. The gold/oil ratio closed at 7.13 barrels of oil per ounce of gold, down 8.3% from 7.28 last week and down 2.4% from 7.31 for the quarter and down down 41.1% from 10.06 for the year. In the U.S. stock market, the Dow closed at 10,568.70, up 1.4% from 10,419.59 last week and up 2.6% from 10,303.44 at the end of the second quarter and down 3.5% for the year so far from 10,783 on December 31, 2004. The NASDAQ closed at 2151.69 on Friday, up 1.6% from 2,116.84 on the previous Friday and up 4.6% from 2057.37 at the end of Q2 and down 1.1% from 2175 at the beginning of the year. The yield on the ten-year U.S. Treasury note closed at 4.33 percent, up from 4.25 the week before, up from 4.04 at the end of the second quarter and 4.22 on Dec. 31, 2004.

Here are some charts showing trends for 2005:

The big story for the year so far is the rise in the price of oil and gold.  Oil rose 53% in dollar terms and a whopping 72% in euros. The euro lost ground against the dollar so far this year, falling 12.6%, something I did not predict at the beginning of the year.  This in spite of the fact that the United States is in the process of losing two wars, wars which were financed by borrowing money from foreign central banks.  Some of this loss in value for the euro may end up being attributed to the rise in the price of oil, which must be purchased in dollars, but some may be due to the fact that European voters have wisely rejected neoliberal prescriptions for their societies, causing consternation among the elite. If the euro lost, however, that did not mean that the dollar gained, since the dollar lost 8% of its value compared to gold.  The euro lost 22% of its value compared to gold.

The United States was able to keep its economy from crashing during the third quarter of 2005, in spite of the ongoing disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan and the embarrassing fiasco in New Orleans.  At the end of the previous quarter I wrote the following:

Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley is now saying that the bubble-like asset inflation economy of the United States could go on for a while longer, making the ultimate reckoning even worse:

I suspect the US interest rate climate is likely to remain surprisingly benign and, therefore, supportive of yet another wave of debt-intensive asset inflation.  As a result, the housing and bond bubbles could well continue to expand, allowing asset-dependent American consumers to keep on spending.  US economic growth, in that climate, may well remain surprisingly firm -- even in the face of $60 oil.  All this would be a textbook example of another period of "bad growth" -- the last thing an unbalanced US and global economy needs.  Likely by-products of another spate of bad growth include more debt, further reductions in income-based saving, and an ever-widening current account deficit.  Eventually, the balance-of-payments constraint will take over -- triggering a renewed weakening of the dollar and a sharp back-up in real interest rates.  But the emphasis, in this case, is on the word "eventually."

It looks like Roach was right. But it also looks like the "eventually" is here, with interest rates rising and the dollar weakening (against gold).

Why is gold rising so sharply now?  No paper currency looks good at the moment. Take the Yen, for example:

Japan's National Debt Hits US$ 7.1 Trillion

Japan's government debt, already the highest in the industrialized world, rose 1.7 per cent to a record high of 795.8 trillion yen ($7.1 trillion US) at the end of June, according to a report released by the Finance Ministry.

The latest figure marked an increase of 14.3 trillion yen from the end of March, the ministry said Thursday. The amount is equivalent to about 6.24 million yen ($55,900) for every Japanese.

Japan has relied on government bond issues to make up for falling tax revenues, turning into one of the world's most indebted countries.

Japan's public debt burden is almost 160 per cent of its GDP and already the highest in the industrialized world.

As Kevin at Cryptogon put it:

How does this show stay up on a day to day basis? HOW!? Japan is keeping the U.S. afloat by buying up U.S. debt. But who's buying Japanese debt to the tune of 7.1 trillion?

Don't get caught without a chair when the music stops playing.

And the euro is in bad shape as well. Marshall Auerback has this to say concerning the German election and the recent increases in the price of gold:

Political fragmentation induced by economic malaise and high unemployment has finally tipped the euro zone's largest economy into a full-blown political crisis.  Although gold has long been viewed as the correlative of a weaker dollar, we have always felt that its long term viability as a genuine safe haven alternative rested on a broadening loss of confidence in paper currencies in general.  To the extent that Germany's current political stalemate creates further long term doubts about the future viability of the euro zone, it helps to underpin the gold price in euro terms. 

Let us be clear:  there is no imminent prospect of the European Monetary Union imploding.  But the euro zone economies have continued to grow very slowly, probably not much more than 1% a year. Unemployment in Germany is 10% and is almost as high in the rest of much of Europe. France, Germany and Italy are all running significantly higher deficits than the original Stability pact authorized and they have a mockery of the agreement's legitimacy as a consequence.  And the increased doubts about the euro's long term viability are creating a highly propitious psychological backdrop for bullion.

...For all of the talk of Chancellor Schröder's unexpected success in converting an anticipated landslide defeat into a Parliamentary cliffhanger, the reality is that both major parties performed abysmally, as smaller parties ate into their traditional constituencies. In fact, this election marked the first time since 1949 that the SPD and CDU failed to garner more than 70 per cent of the votes collectively.  The result appears to reflect the disillusionment of the German electorate with the tired and overused idea of "reform," correctly understanding that there is not much if anything in it for them the way it was presented by either of the two major parties.  As such the outcome represented a repudiation of Germany's political class. It amounted to a declaration by the voters that the solutions on offer for Germany's problems and the ideas on offer for Germany's future were unacceptable.

At some point the German electorate could well put two and two together and realize that it is this very political class which junked the D-mark, and legislated away arguably the most successful experiment in post-war monetary management without even the hint of a referendum.  This is a problem for Germany's leadership and for the other member states, because the single currency project has over-promised and under-delivered.  Indeed, the manner in which Germany's post-war monetary institutions and currency were casually discarded is symptomatic of the profoundly undemocratic nature of the European Union itself. Its concept of democracy amounts to the will of the collective trampling down individual national interests - a collective without even a language in common, which also explains why the French and Dutch voters in the roundly rejected referenda on the European Constitution held earlier this year. Denied similar opportunities to express their views on the constitution and the single currency before it, Germany's voters have taken the only route open to them and rejected their leadership. 

What does this mean for the euro and gold? Criticism of the single currency project has long been a taboo topic in Germany, although this is no longer the case in other euro zone countries.  The issue of euro withdrawal has been broached in Italy, of all countries.  Ironic, because Rome has effectively had a free ride in the euro zone's integrated bond markets for years, obtaining Germanic levels of interest rates (as a consequence of Germany's historic record of fiscal prudence), despite maintaining historically retaining profligate levels of public sector expenditure and debt to GDP ratios well in excess of most of the other founding member states in the monetary union. 

But were Italy to withdraw ultimately from the euro zone, this would expose other countries to Italian competition, especially as this would almost certainly be accompanied by a significant devaluation of the newly restored Lira.  Other countries with a dominant manufacturing base, such as Germany, would almost certainly come under pressure and the whole system could, in these circumstances come under threat.   Where would investors turn at that juncture?  The resultant financial chaos could be considerable, given the lack of a "plan B" in the event that monetary union came under threat.

To a limited degree, the markets already intuit this.   It is noteworthy that the start of gold's most recent rise has been coincident with the French and Dutch referendum results on the EU constitution last spring.  Germany's political crisis has provided yet another blow to confidence in the euro zone and whilst the euro may be under no imminent threat of dissolution, its manifold structural weaknesses are becoming increasingly evident to the markets.  Gold's rise is a politically incorrect reminder that the euro zone rests on the tenuous foundations of bureaucratic legerdemain, with no economic, cultural or political anchorage to sustain it longer term.

The fundamental problems of the dollar have been well-documented, with snowballing deficits reaching the point where even Alan Greenspan says, of a Republican government, that the deficits are "out of control."   After last week, with the indictment of U.S. House Majority leader Tom DeLay for political money laundering, the ongoing investigations into DeLay's close associate, Jack Abramoff for a whole range of gangster-like activity, including murder of a former business partner, the SEC investigation into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for massive inside trading, and the mysterious drop in the stock price of Diebold, you have the real possibility of a complete falling away of any confidence by the U.S. population in the government, now seen more in terms of an organized crime takeover.

Since the rest of the world has already lost confidence in U.S. political leadership, the only reason the dollar has any value is pure fear.

With the present moment being so precarious, the near term future looks frightening.  Contrary to the initial reports, Hurricane Rita has seriously damaged the U.S oil refining and shipping infrastructure, an infrastructure already insufficient to meet demand.  Here is what one industry insider (anonymous) was quoted as saying on Urban Survival:

OK, it's bad. There are dozens of rigs and platforms damaged, missing or sunk. Katrina put the whammy on production platforms, and Rita slammed the drilling rigs...Some of the rigs are upside down, others are twisted and destroyed, still others are just plain gone...either sunk or drifting.

As I have been telling anyone willing to listen, there really is no such thing as Peak Oil, as far as I can tell. The real problem is a complete lack of infrastructure for moving and refining oil and gas, as well as a serious shortage of drilling rigs, tankers and refineries. The situation was close to dire before the storms. It is critical now.

Over the past couple of decades, there has been little investment in tankers, new drilling rigs and refineries. As a consequence, we may be running out of gasoline while drowning in oil. This is the cause of the disconnect recently between pump price and barrel cost. All the storage areas are full of oil, the problem is there is no scalable means to refine it and/or ship it. Even starting this minute, the supply can not be increased by even one percent for the next three to five years.

Should the next storm hit shipping, I can almost guarantee the pump lines we recently saw in Houston will be nationwide. I am fairly sure that we will see them by Christmas, as it is. A cold winter will virtually ensure radical price hikes in natural gas, electricity and heating oil.

While this may sound alarmist, I assure you that I am taking the best information from offshore interests, as well as what I know about the industry into account. The outcome will most likely not be pleasant, and the time frame for the unpleasantness to start is about one month, maybe slightly more. When you hear Bush taking steps to limit gasoline usage in the White House and encouraging people to conserve, you can bet that he knows what's coming.

...These are just prudent suggestions. I see no reason to panic about the situation. It will progress quickly, but those who are looking for the signs will know when things start to go down hill. Until you have spent days looking for a gas station, or gone grocery shopping when nothing was on the shelves, or gone five days without electricity during a heat wave, you can not appreciate the situation.

...To summarize, the GOM (Gulf of Mexico) oil and gas industry has been hit pretty hard. ALL oil and 80% of natural gas production is shut in. Four refineries are seriously damaged, needing about a month or more to repair. Dozens of rigs and platforms are sunk, missing or damaged. There is currently about a month's supply of refined petroleum products in storage, and they are decreasing rapidly. Your readers would do well to consider prudent preparations for a severe disruption in energy by year's end.

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Galloway: "Zionists Not Jews"
Daniel Kahtan – Totally September 30, 2005

The controversial leader of the Respect Party George Galloway this week provoked a fresh wave of condemnation after he launched a stinging attack on Zionism and Israel during a radio interview in America.

The MP, who this year won the Bethnal Green and Bow Parliamentary seat in a bitter contest with Labour’s Oona King, was denounced by community leaders and political peers for his comments which suggested Zionists had effectively engineered anti-semitism.

During the show, broadcast on stations across the US and online Galloway declared that, “Israel and dirty tricks have a long history,” denouncing it as a “little settler state on the Mediterranean” whose purpose was to “act as an advanced guard in the Arab world.”

Responding to interviewer Alex Jones’ claims that Zionists funded Hitler because “they said he’s going be good, he’s going to persecute Jews and he likes our plan of Palestine”, Galloway stated, “This is the thing about Zionism. It has nothing to do with Jewishness. Some of the biggest Zionists in the world are not Jews…. These people have used Jewish people.”

He added: “They created the conditions in the Arab countries and in some European countries to stampede Jewish people out of the countries that they had been living in for many hundreds of years and stampede them into the Zionist state.”

Labour Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman, who has been derided by Galloway as “Israel’s MP on Merseyside,” said: “I think this is just another demonstration of George Galloway’s total hostility towards Jewish national identity and self-determination.”

Eric Moonman, President of the Zionist Federation, added to the condemnation, accusing Galloway of “manipulating many of the facts”.

He continued: “He has created a relatively new bogey for him, which is the non-Jewish Zionist. I think in short that one must never overestimate the power of his words but we must not underestimate the way in which he can influence groups of people who are somewhat naive about the Middle East and Zionism. It’s depressing that the Jewish people and friends of Zionism are having to justify themselves and argue their corner.”

Stan Urman, Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, a group which represents the 856,000 of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, dismissed Galloway’s claims. He said: “How does one explain pogroms in 1912 and 1932 well before the establishment of the State of Israel? They were part of an orchestrated campaign by Arab governments to use their Jewish population as a weapon in their struggle against the creation of the State of Israel. His comments do not stand the test of historical fact.”

While Downing Street said it had “no intention of validating these well-known views of George Galloway with any comment, ” Galloway himself told the Jewish News: “I stand by all those comments. Everything I have said there is fact and there are shelves full of books to prove it. I believe that Zionism has exploited the Jewish people as much as the Palestinian people and has turned the people of Einstein and Epstein into one apparently represented by Sharon and Netanyahu.”

Comment: Finally, someone has the courage to state the glaringly obvious: the people in control of Israel and the destiny of the Jewish people are NOT Jews and certainly do not have the interest of the Jewish people at heart - quite the opposite. Contrary to the comments by so-called "Jewish groups", Galloway's comments do indeed stand the test of historical fact. Galloway makes it clear that this cabal of non-Jewish "Zionists" have been manipulating the Jewish people for generations, and the pogroms against the Jews in the early 20th century were orchestrated by these very people. Indeed, as Galloway says, Hitler was manipulated by them to provide the right conditions for the creation of a Jewish state where Jews could be corralled and forced into perpetual war with the indigenous Arab population.

It is sad to see the same old boring rhetoric coming from certain Jewish groups and politicians who, regardless of the facts being presented to them, label any criticism of the state of Israel or "Zionist" aspirations as "anti-Semitism. Galloway, like us, has made it clear that he is concerned for ordinary Jewish people and the trap that is being set for them, yet again. How can anyone suggest that such a stance is evidence of anti-Semitism i.e. a hatred of Jews??

Eric Moonman, a "terrorism expert" who appears from time to time on Britain's Sky News and President of the Zionist Federation, sums up the real reason behind these attempts to obscure the truth when he states:

"I think in short that one must never overestimate the power of his words but we must not underestimate the way in which he can influence groups of people who are somewhat naive about the Middle East and Zionism."

Indeed, there are many people, ordinary Jews included, who are very naive about the Middle East and "Zionism" and there are no depths that people like Moonman will not sink to ensure that the truth about "Zionism" remains buried, or defamed as "anti-Semitism".

For a complete account of the real origins of Zionism and the future of the Middle East, readers are strongly encouraged to buy Laura Knight-Jadczyk's seminal work: The Secret History of the World.

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Britain recruited terrorists, Meacher claims
Asian News – September 30, 2005

AN astonishing claim that M16 recruited Muslim extremists in Britain for terror training abroad has been made by Oldham MP and former cabinet minister Michael Meacher.

Mr Meacher also suggest that a British Muslim held under sentenced of death in Pakistan for beheading a US journalist is being kept alive because he was a British double agent.

The Oldham West and Royton MP makes these sensational claims in an article for Asian News' sister paper, The Guardian.

The former Environment Secretary claims that Britain's 'overseas' security organisation, M16, set about recruiting UK Muslims directing them to support US efforts to overthrow communist governments in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia. He highlights a Delhi-based research foundation that estimates anything up to 200 UK Muslims could have undergone training in overseas terrorist camps under the protection of the Pakistani secret service, the ISI, who were backing the armed Islamic insurrection against the Afghan communist regime and its Soviet backers.

He writes: "During an interview on Fox TV this summer, the former US federal prosecutor John Loftus reported that the British intelligence had used the al-Muhajiroun recruit Islamist militants with British passports for the war against the Serbs in Kosovo."

The now disbanded al-Muhajiroun group held meetings in Manchester after 9/11 praising the courage of the suicide bombers and claimed to be helping UK Muslims to fight US troops in Afghanistan.

Mr Meacher also highlights the case of UK-born Muslim Omar Saeed Sheikh, sentenced to death for the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

Mr Meacher writes that Sheikh has been allowed 32 appeals against his sentence, the last being adjourned "indefinitely". He says the same Delhi foundation describes Sheikh as a British agent.

Mr Meacher adds: "This is all the more remarkable when this is the same Omar Sheikh who, at the behest of General Mahmood Ahmed, head of the ISI, wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, the leading 9/11 hijacker, before the New York attacks, as confirmed by Dennis Lomel, director of FBI's financial crimes unit."

Mr Meacher’s argument is that the UK and US security service do not want a proper investigation into these links because it would expose how they encouraged and helped to recruit Islamic 'warriors' when it suited their purposes but that these same forces eventually turned on the west, inflamed by what they saw as anti-Islamic occupations and pro-Israeli international policies.

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Bali II: Another Elusive Terror Mastermind on the Loose
Kurt Nmmo

Azahari bin Husin, said to be the explosives “mastermind” behind the Bali bombings this past weekend, has a very interesting background. He is not your average rural madrassa religious fanatic or “al-Qaeda” goat herder of the sort captured in Afghanistan. Husin is a “former university lecturer and gifted mathematician,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “He returned home to obtain his degree, and at the end of the 1980s went to Reading University in England, where he impressed his tutors so much they persuaded him to stay on to complete a doctorate.” Husin’s future was promising as a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia at Skudai in the southern state of Johor—and then he suddenly experienced a fanatical religious “epiphany” under the sway of the late Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Bashir, followers of the Darul Islam ideology and co-founders of Pondok Ngruki and eventually Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamic separatist movement supposedly dedicated to the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Southeast Asia.

I say “supposedly” because there are doubts (never mentioned in the western corporate media) about the legitimacy of Jemaah Islamiyah, as I noted in an earlier blog entry (subsequently posted on the Muslim Public Affairs Committee website).

According to Sayed Abdullah, who operates an intelligence services firm in Indonesia, “It is clear that the CIA and the Mossad have infiltrated such organizations [Jemaah Islamiyah, Hamas, and Hezbollah].” Abdullah told Kazi Mahmood of IslamOnline the he believe it “is obvious the CIA and the Mossad, assisted by the Australian Special Action Police (SAP) and the M15 of England, are all working towards undermining Muslim organizations in an attempt to weaken the Muslims globally.”

Abdullah believes the Bali bombing of 2002 was “an operation clearly financed and assisted by the CIA and Mossad, made use of Muslims to carry out the final act…. Those Muslims were not innocent since they took the bait handed over by the CIA and the Mossad to bomb Bali and to avenge against the U.S. war on the Muslims in Afghanistan.”

The Indonesian expert argued said that “to achieve this, the CIA used one of its operatives, Omar Al-Faruq, an Arab living in the U.S. who speaks Arabic and knows a little about Islam and who was sent to Indonesia to infiltrate the so called terrorist groups.

He said that Al-Faruq initially infiltrated the Laskar Jihad, a group of Muslim volunteers fighting for the safeguard of the Maluku’s during the conflict of the Island.

When the Laskar was winded down by its leader, Al-Faruq was sent to join the Mujahideen Council of Indonesia (MMI), created and headed by jailed Indonesian Islamic leader Abu Bakar Basyir, added Sayed Abdullah.

“After he failed to be a member of the MMI and failed to get to Basyir, he decided to work on the followers of Basyir. It is then that he came into contact with some of the Bali bombers and this is how the whole Bali operation was conducted,” according to the Indonesian intelligence expert.

He claimed that Australia, the U.S. and even Taiwan knew that Bali was to be bombed but they did nothing about it.

As noted in yesterday’s entry here, Omar Al-Faruq “was assigned to infiltrate Islamic radical groups and recruit local agents within these groups” for the CIA. “After the CIA obtained complete data on this matter, they then made Al-Faruq disappear. It’s common in intelligence world,” former Indonesian State Intelligence Coordinating Board chief A.C. Manulang told Tempo Interactive in September, 2002.

Azahari bin Husin’s British connection should be examined, especially in light of the revelations that Haroon Rashid Aswat, the so-called mastermind of the 7/7 London Bombings, worked for British Intelligence, as noted by former Justice Department prosecutor and terror expert John Loftus on, of all places, Fox News. Steve Watson wrote for Infowars on August 2:

John Loftus went on to spell out that British Intelligence and the US dept of Justice had protected Haroon Rashid Aswat: “Back in 1999 he came to America. The Justice Department wanted to indict him in Seattle because him and his buddy were trying to set up a terrorist training school in Oregon… we’ve just learned that the headquarters of the US Justice Department ordered the Seattle prosecutors not to touch Aswat… apparently Aswat was working for British intelligence…”

This information is startling and again highlights how Al Qaeda exists as an organized body only where the intelligence services have created, funded and employed it. Loftus points out that several weeks before the London Bombings, Aswat was again located by the South African Intel agency but again allowed to slip away, this time to London:

“He was a British intelligence plant. So all of a sudden he disappears. He’s in South Africa. We think he’s dead; we don’t know he’s down there. Last month the South African Secret Service come across the guy. He’s alive… the Brits know that the CIA wants to get a hold of Haroon. So what happens? He takes off again, goes right to London. He isn’t arrested when he lands, he isn’t arrested when he leaves… He’s on the watch list. The only reason he could get away with that was if he was working for British intelligence. He was a wanted man.”

In similar fashion, Azahari bin Husin managed to elude capture in late 2003. Indonesian security officials “say Indonesian police were close to catching him in late 2003 in a swoop on Pekanbaru, capital of Sumatra’s Riau province, and opposite Singapore,” explains the Sydney Morning Herald. “Azahari was there, but slipped through the dragnet unrecognized.” He was able to do this because he is “[l]ong-haired and lean-faced” and bears “little resemblance to the one photograph police have of him.” Obviously, Husin shares the same mercurial nature as Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

It would seem the Brits and the United States have greasy fingers when it comes to capturing potentially dangerous Islamic fanatics and al-Qaeda operatives. In fact, they are simply recycling trusted intel operatives (or their painstakingly engineered reputations).

Of course, considering “al-Qaeda” (appropriately earning the moniker “al-CIA-duh”) is a documented CIA-ISI-MI6 asset, the “escape” of key “terrorists” such as Azahari bin Husin is not only logical, it is mandatory if state-sponsored terrorism is to be used as a form of psychological warfare against unwitting populations in need of manipulation (since most normal people recoil from the prospect of forever war and need to be reminded of the specter of terrorism). Since we have no evidence Bin Husin actually exists—he was last seen prior to the first Bali bombing—the corporate media, regurgitating spook generated mythologies, is now free to turn the former mathematician and university lecturer into a world-class terrorist on par with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Like Orwell’s Emmanuel Goldstein, Azahari bin Husin lives on as an effective bogeyman, an effective (if illusive) villain in a constellation of Islamic villains, an evasive apparition one step ahead of the law and thus forever a possible threat—or at least a threat until our rulers decide they no longer have use for him (as they apparently no longer have use for Osama bin Laden now that nine eleven is established folklore and the irrefutable foundation of the supposed war on terrorism).

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Bush administration found involved in illegal 'covert propaganda'
Sat Oct 1, 4:14 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The administration of President George W. Bush broke the law as it resorted to illegal "covert propaganda" in trying to sell its key education initiative to the public, US congressional investigators have found.

The finding, made public by the Government Accountability Office on Friday, added to a plethora of big and small ethics scandals besetting the administration and its top Republican allies and putting them on the defensive one year before congressional elections.

The investigation was ordered by Democratic Senators Edward Kennedy and Frank Lautenberg earlier this year, in the wake of reports the Education Department had paid newspaper columnist and television commentator Armstrong Williams thousands of dollars to help promote the No Child Left Behind Law.

The 2002 bipartisan measure established new testing requirements for public schools designed to ensure that students achieve an acceptable level of proficiency in reading and mathematics.

But the law came in for strong criticism from local officials and teachers' unions, who argued it did not provide sufficient funds to implement the reforms.

Under the deal, Williams produced a series of radio and television shows as well as wrote newspaper columns under his own name highlighting what he saw as the benefits of the law.

But in doing so, he failed to disclose the government paid him for these activities 186,000 dollars (150,000 euros) through Ketchum Inc., a public relations firm, according to the GAO report.

"This qualifies as the production or distribution of covert propaganda," said the investigative arm of Congress. "In our view, the department violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition when it issued task orders... without requiring Ketchum to ensure that Mr Williams disclosed to his audiences his relationship with the department."

Newspaper syndicate Tribune Media Services canceled Williams' column in January.

In addition, the department placed with the firm a total of 21 orders for producing unattributed videos showcasing the education initiative that were made to look like normal television reports and were slated for distribution to TV networks as bona fide news stories.

There is no word if any of these clips actually made it to the air.

Congressional investigators pointed out that under US law, "an agency must inform the viewing public that the government is the source of the information disseminated."

The report also suggested the administration may have illegally shifted nearly 38,500 dollars within its budget to pay for its propaganda campaign.

In statements that followed the GAO report, Senator Kennedy and Lautenberg demanded the misused money be returned to the government.

"The taxpayer funded propaganda coming from the White House is another sign of the culture of corruption that pervades the White House and Republican leadership," argued Kennedy.

The finding comes as the Republican establishment in Washington finds itself embroiled in a series of scandals ranging from the indictment of House majority leader Tom DeLay on charges related to his fundraising activities to allegations of preferential treatment of contractors helping victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist is facing an investigation into a questionable stock sale, while the probe into the illegal disclosure of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame took a new twist Friday, after it was revealed that Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Richard Cheney's chief of staff, was one of the sources of information about her.

Plame's name was leaked to the press in 2003 after her husband publicly disputed Bush's claim that Iraq sought to buy uranium ore from Niger as part of its drive to build nuclear weapons.

Comment: Not to worry - the Bush administration will no doubt fire a few people here and there, reorganize a bit, reassure the public, and then carry on with their plans as if nothing had happened.

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Drudge Report
SUN OCT 02, 2005 21:04:37 ET

Choking back tears, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF star Donald Sutherland warned this week: President Bush "will destroy our lives!"

The star of the new ABC drama, which follows the first woman President of the United States, lashed out at the real White House during a dramatic sit down interview with the BBC.

Sutherland ripped Bush and his administration for the war and Hurricane Katrina fallout.

"They were inept. The were inadequate to the task, and they lied," Sutherland charged.

"And they were insulting, and they were vindictive. And they were heartless. They did not care. They do not care. They do not care about Iraqi people. They do not care about the families of dead soldiers. They only care about profit."

At one point during the session, Sutherland started crying: "We stolen our children's future... We have children. We have children. How dare we take their legacy from them. How dare we. It's shameful. What we are doing to our world."

Sutherland went on rip Karl Rove's "methods and means" against people like Cindy Sheehan.

"We're back to burning books in Germany," Sutherland said of NBC's editing out of Kanye West's comment on Bush during a hurricane relief telethon.

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Iraq war delayed Katrina relief effort, inquiry finds
By Kim Sengupta
The Independent
Published: 03 October 2005

Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.

The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to "sneak off post" to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission.

The shortcomings in dealing with Katrina have rocked George Bush's administration. Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has resigned from his post and polls show that a majority of Americans feel the President showed inadequate leadership.

The report was commissioned by the Office of Secretary of Defence as an "independent and critical review" of what went so wrong. In a hard-hitting analysis, it says: "The US military has long planned for war on two fronts. This is as close as we have come to [that] reality since the Second World War; the results have been disastrous."

The document was compiled by Stephen Henthorne, a former professor of the US Army's War College and an adviser to the Pentagon who was a deputy-director in the Louisiana relief efforts.

It charts how "corruption and mismanagement within the New Orleans city government" had "diverted money earmarked for improving flood protection to other, more vote-getting, projects. Past mayors and governors gambled that the long-expected Big Killer hurricane would never happen. That bet was lost with Hurricane Katrina."

The report concludes that although the US military did a good job in carrying out emergency missions, there were some serious shortcomings.

The report states that Brigadier General Michael D Barbero, commander of the Joint Readiness Training Centre at Fort Polk, Louisiana, refused permission for special forces units who volunteered to join relief efforts, to do so. General Barbero also refused to release other troops.

"The same general did take in some families from Hurricane Katrina, but only military families living off the base," the report says. "He has done a similar thing for military families displaced by Hurricane Rita. However, he declined to share water with the citizens of Leesville, who are out of water, and his civil affairs staff have to sneak off post in civilian clothes to help coordinate relief efforts." The report says deployment in the Iraq war led to serious problems. "Another major factor in the delayed response to the hurricane aftermath was that the bulk of the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard was deployed in Iraq."

Comment: That's funny, because the Bush administration stated quite emphatically that the problem was not caused by troop shortages resulting from the occupation of Iraq...

"Even though all the states have 'compacts' with each other, pledging to come to the aid of other states, it takes time, money and effort to activate and deploy National Guard troops from other states to fill in".

Mr Henthorne's report states: "The President has indicated several times that he wants the US military to take a more active role in disaster management and humanitarian assistance."

"There are several reasons why that will not happen easily. (1) Existing laws will not allow the police powers the military will need to be effective. (2) The military is not trained for such a mission and (3) the 'warfighter insurgency' within the US military does not want such a mission and will strongly resist it. Not one civil affairs unit was deployed for either hurricane."

The report concludes: "The one thing this disaster has demonstrated [is] the lack of coordinated, in-depth planning and training on all levels of Government, for any/all types of emergency contingencies. 9/11 was an exception because the geographical area was small and contained, but these two hurricanes have clearly demonstrated a national response weakness ... Failure to plan, and train properly has plagued US efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now that failure has come home to roost in the United States."

Comment: So the Katrina debacle was the fault of Michael Brown, the New Orleans city government, and now the military. Even though he is Commander in Chief, Bush is not implicated in the least. The "obvious solution" for which we are all no doubt being prepared is the restructuring of the military, new recruiting efforts, and the elimination of the very definite lines that prevent federal troops from intervening in local affairs.

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Gas prices may last six months
USA Today
10/3/2005 12:05 AM

The nation's energy chief says it will take six months for U.S. energy production and prices to return to pre-hurricane levels, and he hints at energy shortages in the interim.

That's the most blunt and pessimistic estimate yet of how long the energy disruptions caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita will affect the USA. But it could help Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman sell Americans on a conservation campaign he plans to detail Monday.

"How long before we return to normal? It's hard to know, because we have not yet got an assessment" of damage from Rita, Bodman said in an interview with USA TODAY on Friday. He said it will be two to three weeks before the assessment is done.

"We're going to go through a very challenging time the next six months, is my guess," Bodman said. "Most of us have viewed energy availability as a kind of right of citizenship," he said, and might have to rethink that as refineries are restarted, pipelines repaired and natural gas processing resumed. "Both in terms of gasoline availability and (prices of) natural gas and heating oil, we're going to have some problems."

Hurricane Katrina swept the Gulf of Mexico and hit shore near New Orleans on Aug. 29. Rita followed Sept. 24, hitting the Texas coast west of Katrina's landfall. The two storms temporarily closed all Gulf oil operations and most natural gas operations, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service.

Only 2% of Gulf oil production had resumed by the weekend, MMS reported, and 21% of natural gas production. The Gulf supplies 29% of U.S.-produced oil and 19% of U.S.-sourced natural gas.

The nationwide average for unleaded regular gasoline is $2.92, AAA said Sunday. That's up about 30 cents from before Katrina hit.

Gasoline supplies are being supplemented by increased shipments from overseas. But natural gas, the heating fuel for most Americans, can't easily be shipped. Industry and government forecasts say that tight gas supplies could result in heating bills nearly doubling.

Keeping prices down "could be challenging if we get exceptionally cold weather," warns Paula Reynolds, CEO of big gas supplier AGL Resources. That could use up the cheaper gas that utilities have in storage and require them to replace it with today's high-price natural gas, passing the increase to users.

The government conservation plan will ask Americans to turn off lights, change thermostat settings, drive slower, insulate homes and take other steps.

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Bush picks loyalist for Supreme Court
October 3, 2005

WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush nominated White House counsel and longtime loyalist Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, a move that may shape legal battles on divisive issues like abortion for decades.

If confirmed by the US Senate, she would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the nine-seat high court and often a critical swing vote on volatile matters that divide Americans.

Miers "has devoted her life to the rule of law and the cause of justice. She will be an outstanding addition to Supreme Court of the United States," the president said with her at his side in the Oval Office of the White House.

The court wields enormous influence over American life as the final arbiter of the US Constitution and ultimate court of appeal, and has ruled on issues like abortion, the death penalty, and same-sex marriage. Justices are named for life but can step down.

The nomination came as Bush grappled with some of the poorest approval ratings of his presidency, battered by soaring gas prices, the war in Iraq, and the widely criticized response to killer Hurricane Katrina.

Miers, 60, has never served as a judge, but has been a close aide to Bush ever since he was governor of Texas. She would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the court and third in its history.

"If confirmed, I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong and to help ensure that the courts meet their obligations to strictly apply the laws and the Constitution," she said.

Her nomination came as newly confirmed US Chief Justice John Roberts, Bush's pick to replace the late William Rehnquist, formally took up his duties as the high court opened a new session. [...]

"I believe the senators of both parties will find that Harriet Miers' talent, experience and judicial philosophy make her a superb choice to safeguard the constitutional liberties and equality of all Americans," he said.

"I ask the Senate to review her qualifications thoroughly and fairly and to vote on her nomination promptly," said the president.

Bush paid special tribute to Miers's groundbreaking roles as the first woman hired at one of the top law firms in Dallas, Texas; the first woman to become president of that firm, and the first woman to be elected president of the Dallas Bar Association.

As a high-powered trial lawyer, Miers represented such firms as Microsoft and Walt Disney.

The largest abortion rights group in the United States, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), immediately expressed concern about the nomination and she must be clear about her position on abortion.

Comment: Harriet Miers, Bush's former personal attorney, is indeed rather close to him. From the February 24, 2004 Signs page:

Three sources told biographer J. H. Hatfield that Bush was performing community service on the orders of a judge. A Yale classmate said, "George W. was arrested for possession of cocaine in 1972, but due to his father's connections, the entire record was expunged by a state judge whom the older Bush helped get elected. It was one of those 'behind closed doors in the judges' chambers' kind of thing between the old man and one of his Texas cronies who owed him a favor ... There's only a handful of us that know the truth."

If the record of an arrest was expunged, Bush apparently received the equivalent of Youthful Offender status at the age of 26.

Another Bush associate told Hatfield, "I can't and won't give you any new names, but I can confirm that W's Dallas attorney remains the repository of any evidence of the expunged record. From what I've been told, the attorney is the one who advised him to get a new drivers license in 1995 when a survey of his public records uncovered a stale, but nevertheless incriminating trail for an overly eager reporter to follow." [...]

Newsweek (July 9, 2000) reported that the Bush campaign "launched a secretive research operation designed to scour all records relating to his Vietnam-era service" while preparing for Bush's 1998 re-election campaign. They paid Dallas lawyer Harriet Miers $19,000 to review the records.

In 1998, retired National Guard officer Bill Burkett said that in the spring of 1997, Bush's chief of staff James Allbaugh asked Major General Daniel James to assemble Bush's Guard records so that Bush aides could review them. Days later, Burkett says he saw about twenty pages from Bush's military files in a trash can.

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Anti-government strikes to tie up France Tuesday

PARIS, Oct 2 (AFP) - Widespread disruption to business and travel is expected in France on Tuesday, as left-wing parties join trade unions in a call for strikes and protest marches against the government of President Jacques Chirac.

Hundreds of thousands are predicted at some 140 demonstrations across the country, as protesters demand pay increases, investment in public services, an end to privatisations, and the withdrawal of a new jobs contract that makes it easier for employers to hire and fire.

In Paris, where the biggest march is planned during the afternoon, only around half of metro and bus services will be running as normal, and a third of suburban commuter trains, the state-owned transport companies RATP and SNCF said.

Some 60 percent of TGV fast trains will be operating across the country, and a lower proportion of local trains. However international Eurostar and Thalys train services to London and Brussels will not be affected.

Some disturbances are also expected to air travel, especially on short-haul flights. Air France said long distance routes should operate as per schedule. Many motorways will be free of charge as toll staff stay away.

Widespread work stoppages are likely in the public sector, notably in national and local government, schools and post offices, but unions said many private businesses will also be hit as staff give vent to growing concerns over job security and the cost of living.

The five union federations that called the day of action were boosted by an opinion poll in L'Humanité newspaper -- which is close to the Communist party -- showing that 74 percent of the public have sympathy with their cause.

Another survey in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper indicated that 57 percent have "confidence" in the union movement -- an increase of eight points from early last year.

The protests also received backing in a rare show of unity from the main parties of the left and far-left, which said in a statement that action was necessary "to break with the reactionary and ultra-liberal logic of the government".

The Socialist, Communist, Green and Communist Revolutionary League parties demanded the abrogation of a new jobs contract -- introduced recently by decree by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin -- as well as "measures to stop large scale redundancies and corporate relocalisations, and an end to bargain basement sell-offs of state companies."

The protests come at a sensitive time for de Villepin, who has been rocked onto the back foot by a crisis over the privatisation of the state-owned SNCM ferry company which serves Corsica and north Africa from ports on the Mediterranean coast.

Plans to sell off the heavily-indebted concern sparked days of violence in Corsica, a near-blockade of the island, and the shut-down of the country's largest port of Marseille. Though action was taken this weekend to re-open communications, the situation remains highly volatile.

Comment: The French are not acting like children. They are demanding a say in their future, refusing the neo-liberalism that is being foisted upon them by their leaders. They voted down the neo-liberal constitution in May, they are taking to the streets tomorrow.

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Deadly bacteria detected in US capital during anti-war march
Sun Oct 2,12:54 PM ET

A deadly bacteria listed among bioterrorism agents was detected in the US capital last month during a mass protest against the Iraq war, a top health official said.

District of Columbia Health Director Doctor Gregg Pane told WTOP Radio late Saturday that biological agent monitors on the National Mall, an esplanade in downtown Washington, gave positive readings for a small amount of tularemia on September 24 and 25.

The sensors are operated by the Department of Homeland Security, but officials were not notified of the potential hazard until Friday, according to Pane.

"We've stepped up our surveillance and have notified doctors in the area about what to look for," Pane told the radio station.

He urged people who were at the Mall last weekend and who have been experiencing symptoms of pneumonia to immediately seek medical help, but added that there was no evidence that anyone had been affected by the bacteria.

First Lady Laura Bush was among those visiting the affected area at the time.

Tularemia, which is caused by the bacterium francisella tularensis, can occur naturally and is usually found in animals, especially rodents, rabbits and hares, according to federal health officials.

Symptoms include sudden fever, headaches, diarrhea, joint pain, cough and progressive weakness.

But the disease can be fatal if it is not treated with the right antibiotics, officials said.

Bacteria casing tularemia was very infectious, with between 10 and 50 micro-organisms usually enough to bring down an adult.

Although francisella tularensis could be isolated and grown in a laboratory, manufacturing an effective aerosol weapon would require considerable sophistication.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that national security officials believe the bacteria was probably not intentionally spread.

"There is no known nexus to terror or criminal behavior. We believe this to be environmental," the paper quoted Russ Knocke, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, as saying.

But federal health officials remain on alert for outbreaks of the disease far away from Washington because of the numbers of visitors to the capital last weekend.

Thousands of opponents of the war in Iraq from all around the country converged on the National Mall on September 24.

Organizers put the number of participants at more than 300,000, while police said, unofficially, the protesters probably numbered a little over 100,000.

The same day the Mall hosted the 2005 National Book Festival, a massive book signing extravaganza which was hosted by First Lady Bush.

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Bird flu jumps transmission barrier in humans
By Tom Clifford, Assistant Editor
Published: 1/10/2005, 07:48 (UAE)
DUBAI - Bird flu has broken the transmission barrier and jumped from human to human, according to the World Health Organisation.

Most cases have been bird to human but transmission between people increases fears of a global pandemic.

The acknowledgement came on a day when the organisation had to backtrack on the number of potential deaths forecast from a bird flu pandemic created by widespread human-to-human infection.

Dr David Nabarro said on Thursday, less than one day into his new role as the UN coordinator for global readiness against an outbreak, that measures taken by the world today would determine whether bird flu ended up killing five million or as many as 150 million people.

The figure of 150 million deaths was quickly played down by the WHO yesterday.

"There is obvious confusion, and I think that has to be straightened out. I don't think you will hear Dr Nabarro say the same sort of thing again," WHO influenza spokesman Dick Thompson told a news briefing.

The UN health agency said it has warned countries to prepare for a death toll of up to 7.4 million.

The 1918-19 'Spanish flu' outbreak, the most lethal flu pandemic so far recorded, claimed 50 million lives, far more than the 15 million killed in the First World War.

But the flu has jumped the barrier of human-to-human transmission.

"There have been four, maybe five cases of humans getting it from other humans," Thompson told Gulf News from the organisation's Geneva headquarters.

"All of these have been in Asia. But it is important to note that it was not passed on to more humans. The chain ended at those four or five who caught it."

The world has coped with pandemics before, Thompson said.

Seasonal flu normally kills up to 500,000 in any year.

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Earthquake shakes Israel
By Stan Goodenough
October 3rd, 2005

Israelis preparing to see out the old year and welcome in the new with the sound of shofar blowing Monday felt their country shaking as a 4.3 scale earthquake struck the region.

Originating just after 7 AM near the northern Jordan Valley town of Bet She'an, the quake shook beds and buildings, momentarily frightening people before subsiding as quickly as it had begun.

According to the Geophysical Institute of Israel, the tremor was felt in Nahariya, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Rehovot. People in Jerusalem told Jerusalem Newswire they had felt the quake too.

No injuries or damages were reported.

Israel’s location alongside the massive Syrian-African rift means the country frequently experiences earthquakes as two tectonic plates rub against one another.

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Typhoon, quake leave Taiwan shaken, stirred

Storm reportedly injures dozens of people, could hit China next
Sunday, October 2, 2005 (11:46 GMT)

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- As typhoon Longwang approached Taiwan, a moderate earthquake shook the island, prompting some residents to flee their homes.

Nature's double-whammy left 36 people injured from the storm, according to local media reports, but no one was reported hurt by the quake, a magnitude 5.4 -- capable of moderate damage.

Longwang made landfall on Taiwan's eastern coast Sunday at 5:50 a.m. (5:50 p.m. ET Saturday) with wind gusts over 125 mph (201 kph) and heavy rains. Sustained winds were clocked at about 83 mph. Longwang means dragon king in Chinese.

The storm forced officials to shut down public transportation, and it was expected to strengthen and possibly make landfall a second time in mainland China after crossing the Taiwan Strait.

Forecasters said up to 16 inches of rain had fallen along the northern and central portions of the eastern coast, especially in mountainous areas.

Some 187,909 homes were without power, the fire administration told Reuters.

Before landfall, Longwang was a supertyphoon with wind gusts over 150 mph.

Hurricanes are defined as typhoons when they develop west of the international date line, an imaginary time-zone border drawn north and south through the Pacific Ocean, largely along the 180th meridian.

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2 die, thousands flee as El Salvador volcano erupts 2005-10-02 14:30:09

MEXICO CITY, Oct. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- The Santa Ana volcano, El Salvador's largest, erupted on Saturday after being dormant for more than a century, leaving at least two dead people and forcing more than 2,000 others to flee home.

The volcano, also known as the Ilamatepec volcano, located 66 kilometers west of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, started on Saturday morning to belch out thick plumes of ashes, which reached more than 15 kilometers into the sky.

Soon after the volcano began casting hot rocks and ash from itscrater,military emergency sirens blasted to signal an immediate area evacuation of the hamlets in the coffee growing area, where some 20,000 people live.

Salvador's Interior Minister Rene Figueroa said that two peoplewere killed as 200 residents fled the hamlet of Palo Campana, which lies just two kilometers from the crater.

The police said that at least seven people were injured by red hot rocks hurled into the air by the eruption.

Officials with the National Emergency Committee said 2,250 people had been evacuated from the danger zone by 1 p.m. local time (1900 GMT).

A red alert had been declared in a four kilometer (2.5 mile) radius around the volcano while a lesser "yellow alert" was issuedfor nearby areas.

The volcano, which is 2,381 meters above sea level, last eruptedin 1904.

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Flash Flooding in Kansas Traps Many
Associated Press
Sun Oct 2, 5:14 PM ET

GRANTVILLE, Kan. - A storm dumped up to a foot of rain over parts of northeast Kansas on Sunday, sparking flash flooding that left people stranded in homes and cars, emergency officials said.

No serious injuries were reported, but emergency crews used airboats to navigate fast-moving floodwaters that damaged many homes.

About a foot of rain fell overnight in Jefferson County, and up to 10 inches was reported in Jackson County. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declared an emergency in four counties.

"The water in the creeks came up, and the homes are surrounded," said Don Haynes, Jefferson County's director of emergency services. "Who plans for this kind of rain?"

Emergency officials did not have an estimate of how many people had been rescued, but reports from several officials indicated there were at least two dozen. A voluntary evacuation order was issued for Rossville, a town of 1,070 people in Shawnee county. Shelters were being opened.

One of the rescued was Dennis Stanwix, 49, of Grantville. An airboat picked up Stanwix, his wife, daughter and daughter's friend Sunday morning. He said he was awakened by his phone and when he looked out the window saw nothing but water.

"I knew we were in big trouble," he said.

Ann and Will Roberts were sleeping in their small house in Grantville when their 6-year-old daughter, Danni, awoke them Sunday morning.

"The picnic table is floating," Ann Roberts recalled the girl saying.

A nursing home in Leavenworth County was evacuated, and the Kansas Highway Patrol rescued a man off his car on a highway, Moser said. A mobile home also was reported to have washed away in Jackson County, but the home's resident escaped safely.

The rains closed nearly all roads in Jefferson County, with as much as 3 feet of water reported on Kansas 24. But it was receding under sunny skies by noon, said Gayle Bickel, chief of Township Fire District No. 1.

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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 in October 2005, readers can pre-order the book today at our bookstore.

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