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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


An American in chains

James Yee entered Guantanamo as a patriotic US officer and Muslim chaplain. He ended up in shackles, branded a spy. This is his disturbing story
James Yee and Aimee Molloy
The Sunday Times
October 09, 2005

My cell was 8ft by 6ft, the same size as the detainees' cages at Guantanamo. Barely a week ago I had received a glowing evaluation for my work as the US army's Muslim chaplain among the "Gitmo" prisoners. Now I was the one in chains.

It was my turn to be humiliated every time I was taken to have a shower. Naked, I had to run my hands through my hair to show that I was not concealing a weapon in it. Then mouth open, tongue up, down, nothing inside. Right arm up, nothing in my armpit. Left arm up. Lift the right testicle, nothing hidden. Lift the left. Turn around, bend over, spread your buttocks, knowing a camera was displaying my naked image as male and female guards watched.

It didn't matter that I was an army captain, a graduate of West Point, the elite US military academy. It didn't matter that my religious beliefs prohibited me from being fully naked in front of strangers. It didn't matter that I hadn't been charged with a crime. It didn't matter that my wife and daughter had no idea where I was. And it certainly didn't matter that I was a loyal American citizen and, above all, innocent.

I was accused of mutiny and sedition, aiding the enemy and espionage, all of which carried the death penalty. I was regarded as a traitor to the army and my country. This was all blatantly untrue - as would be proved when, after a long fight, all the charges against me were dropped and I won an honourable discharge from the army.

I knew why I had been arrested: it was because I am a Muslim. I was just the latest victim of the hostility born the moment when the planes flew into the twin towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

My real "crime" had been that I had tried to ensure that the suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters detained in the Gitmo cages were given every opportunity to practise their religion freely, one of the most fundamental of American ideals.

I had monitored the atrocious treatment meted out by the guards. And I had come to suspect that my appointment as the prisoners' chaplain was simply a piece of political theatre.

When reporters came to Guantanamo on the media tour, everyone had always wanted to talk to the Muslim chaplain. I had told them the things that the command expected me to say. We give the detainees a Koran. We announce the prayer five times a day. We serve halal food. Everything I said had been true. But it certainly wasn't the full story.
I HAVE NOT always been a Muslim. I am a third-generation American - my grandparents left China in the 1920s - and as a child in New Jersey I grudgingly attended Lutheran church services with my mother.

On holiday after graduating from West Point, however, I met a young woman who was intrigued by Islam. I began to read about it and eventually converted. Then, after the US army sent me to Saudi Arabia and allowed me to visit Mecca, I wondered why there were no Muslim chaplains in the US military.

My father had taught me as a boy that America promises all people an opportunity to lead an extraordinary life. By becoming a Muslim chaplain in the summer of 2000, after four years' study in Damascus, I saw myself fulfilling this opportunity. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.

Six months after the September 11 attacks I was asked if I would like to work at Camp X-Ray, the new detention centre at Guantanamo Bay. I said that it would be difficult: Huda, my Syrian wife, was still adjusting to life in America and Sarah, our daughter, was in the throes of the "terrible twos". It turned out, however, that I had no choice.

By the time I got to Guantanamo, Camp X-Ray was too small for the number of prisoners coming in. When I saw its remains I couldn't believe that humans were once held here. It looked like a cattle yard. There were hundreds of cages in rows. The only protection from the blistering sun was a tin roof. Dozens of enormous rodents crawled throughout the camp. I was told that these were banana rats and would attack if provoked.

The new prison, Camp Delta, consisted of 19 blocks, each holding 48 detainees in individual open-air cells with steel mesh walls. Like other military personnel, I was briefed that the detainees were among the most dangerous terrorists in the world. We were told that many of the prisoners were responsible for the attacks of September 11 and would strike again if given the opportunity.

I expected to come face-to-face with hundreds of Osama Bin Ladens, but most prisoners were friendly. There were approximately 660 from dozens of countries, including Britain.

An English-speaking Saudi detainee named Shaker was eating a military "Meal Ready to Eat" or MRE when I first met him. MREs often led to constipation. "Chaplain," Shaker called out. "You know what we call this lunch we eat every day? Meals that Refuse to Exit."

Shaker said that he had settled in London after marrying a British woman. They had three children and his wife had given birth to his fourth child after he was captured. "My youngest son, we named him Faris, I've never seen," he told me. "My wife doesn't know anything about what happened to me and I'm so worried about her."

I got to know three men from Britain particularly well: Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul. Ahmed, the most talkative, told me that they had grown up
together in Tipton, near Birmingham. Their families were close and the men were like cousins. All three told me they had never committed a crime and that their arrests had been a serious mistake.

The man in overall charge was Major General Geoffrey Miller, a slight but self-confident Texan in his late fifties. He was later sent to Iraq to make recommendations on improving intelligence collection at Abu Ghraib prison in the months before it became infamous for the maltreatment of its inmates.

If there was trouble with the prisoners, guards were supposed to restore order calmly. But Miller said when visiting Camp Delta or whenever seeing troopers around the base: "The fight is on!" This was a subtle way of saying that rules were relaxed and infractions were easily overlooked.

Miller was a devout Christian. In one of the first private conversations that he and I had, he invited me for a stroll under the watchtowers and told me that several of his friends and colleagues had been killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.

He had felt a deep anger towards "those Muslims" who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon - such anger, he explained, that he had sought counselling with a chaplain. I appreciated his candour but I sensed there was a subtle warning behind his words.
THE WORST punishment for prisoners was a "forced cell extraction" by a group of six to eight guards called the Initial Response Force. The troopers called it IRFing.

I witnessed my first IRFing after a military policeman had performed the "credit card swipe" - pressing his fingers inside a detainee's buttock crack to look for a weapon. This type of physical contact is not acceptable under Islamic law and the detainee had pushed the guard away. But prisoners were not allowed to touch an MP and immediately eight guards were summoned.

They put on riot protection gear - helmets, heavy gloves, shin guards and chest protectors - before forming a huddle and chanting in unison, getting themselves pumped up. Still chanting, they rushed the block, their heavy boots sounding like a stampede on the steel floor. Detainees throughout Camp Delta started to yell and shake their cage doors.

When the IRF team reached the offending detainee, the team leader drenched him with pepper spray and opened the door to his cell. The others charged in. He was no match for eight men in riot gear. The guards used their shields and bodies to force him to the floor. With his wrists and ankles tied, he was dragged down the corridor to solitary confinement.

When it was over the guards high-fived each other and slammed their chests together like professional basketball players - an odd victory celebration for eight men who took down one prisoner.

IRFing was used with extraordinary frequency. Seemingly harmless behaviour could bring it on: not responding when a guard spoke or having two plastic cups in a cage instead of the regulation one. Invasive body searches occurred daily and were a constant source of tension leading to IRFing. I came to believe that the searches were done solely to rile the detainees. The prisoners had been locked in cages for several months in a remote area of Cuba. What could they possibly be hiding?

Violent episodes were increasing. In one incident a guard had hauled off a handcuffed detainee whom he was beating on the head with a handheld radio. By the time I arrived the detainee had been taken to the hospital, but his blood was fresh on the ground and what appeared to be large pieces of flesh were soaking in it.

Bad as this violence was, many soldiers discovered a weapon far more powerful than fists: Islam. Because religion was the most important issue for nearly all the prisoners in Camp Delta, it became the most important weapon used against them.

Guards mocked the call to prayer and rattled doors, threw stones against the cages and played loud rock'n'roll music as the prisoners prayed.

Knowing that physical contact between unrelated men and women is not allowed under Islamic law, female guards would be exceptionally inappropriate in how they patted down the prisoners or touched them on the way to the showers or recreation. Detainees often resisted and were IRFed.

The guards knew that Muslims believe that the Koran contains the actual words of God and is to be treated with the utmost respect. I never heard of an incident where a detainee hid anything dangerous in the Koran; doing so would be considered an insult. Yet the guards shook the prisoners' Korans violently, broke bindings, ripped pages and dropped the
book on the floor, all on the pretext of searching them.

Some of the worst complaints that I received were about what was happening inside the interrogation rooms. Some of the translators - Muslim military personnel like me - told stories about female interrogators who would take off their clothes during the sessions. One would pretend to masturbate in front of detainees. She was also known to touch them in a sexual way and make them rub her breasts and genitalia. A translator who had witnessed this woman's behaviour told me that her supervisor had told her to tone down the tactics but had not disciplined her.

Translators with the Joint Intelligence Group (JIG) also confirmed that some prisoners were forced to prostrate themselves in the centre of a satanic circle lit with candles. Interrogators shouted at them, "Satan is your God, not Allah! Repeat that after me!"

I came to believe that the hostile environment and animosity towards Islam were so ingrained in the operation that Miller and the other camp leaders had lost sight of the moral harm we were doing.

I began to keep a record of the atrocities that I was hearing about. But the more time I spent on the blocks the more aggressive many of the guards became towards me. I was authorised to have unescorted access and to speak with detainees in privacy. But guards eavesdropped on my conversations, standing very close and attempting to intimidate me. Most refused to move away.

"I've been told to stay within one arm's length of you at all times," one guard told me.

When an administrative assistant in the navy chaplain's office showed me a slanderous and hatefilled diatribe against Muslims that was to be inserted into a weekly newsletter to hundreds of Christian military personnel on the base, I decided it was time for action.

It began, "Egyptian Muslim Mohammad Farouk hated Christians . . . in an attempt to obey the Koran and please Allah, Mohammad and his friends began to assault and harass Christians in their village . . ." It claimed that the Koran instructs Muslims to espouse violence and hatred, the opposite of the truth.

Yet Vincent Salamoni, a Catholic priest who worked as the naval command chaplain, only grudgingly complied with the advice from the Christian chief chaplain on the base not to distribute this material. Salamoni said that he felt it was necessary first to find out if the Koran did instruct Muslims to kill Christians.

In briefings to newcomers to the base, given with the express support of the operations staff, I tried to dispel the principal myth that all Muslims are terrorists. Little did I understand that by trying to educate my colleagues about the need for religious tolerance, I was encouraging them to suspect me.

Although I had been ordered to prepare the presentation by the command, the fact that I talked knowledgeably about Islam was enough to lead some of them to question my loyalty.

Captain Jason Orlich, an army reservist who had taught in a Catholic school before arriving in Guantanamo to take charge of intelligence and security for detention operations, sat in my briefing on his first day and asked: "Is he on our side or is he on the enemy's side?" As I was to discover much
later from court documents, he made it his mission to keep an eye on me. Nor was I the only one under suspicion: Muslim colleagues - all loyal Americans - were spied on and bugged.

When I got together with other Muslim personnel on the base, our conversation routinely turned to what appeared to be open religious hostility.

Ahmad al-Halabi, a young airman who helped me with the detainees' library of religious books, told me that he had been given a copy of a CD widely circulated by the troopers. Among the images on it was a phoney Playboy cover showing Muslim women in provocative dress and poses, and another depicting Muslim men engaged in anal sex during prayer. He suspected that the disc had originated in the security section headed by Orlich, who appeared in several photographs on the disc.

All of us on the base knew that, like the detainees, we were likely to be under surveillance wherever we were. Watch what you're saying, soldiers would joke, because the "secret squirrels" are listening. We never knew exactly who they were, but the government agencies represented on the island included the FBI, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Army Counterintelligence and the CIA. Nothing was off limits. Our e-mails were read, our telephone calls were monitored and everything we said had the potential of being overheard.

I had a feeling that our Muslim Friday prayers, attended by about 40 in a small room at the chapel complex of the camp, were under surveillance. Men in khakis and polo shirts - the common uniform of the FBI and CIA - would stand just outside, watching to see who came and went. I sometimes asked if they wanted to join us but they always declined, offering no explanation of their presence. A translator confirmed that a man sitting outside was an FBI agent he had worked with in interrogations.
WHEN I was given a larger apartment to live in, I called some of the guys to come over and share evening prayers in my spare bedroom. Afterwards we hung around in my living room and had sodas and snacks. Before long, evening prayers at my house became a frequent occasion and word spread among the Muslim personnel that anyone who wanted to join us was welcome. People started turning up with tasty Middle Eastern food. I did not realise what the repercussions would be.

Many months later I learnt the facts from court documents.

People initially became suspicious of me because of the presentation that I gave during the newcomers' briefing. Stories quietly began to circulate about me and my fellow Muslim personnel. We were too sympathetic to the plight of the detainees and too critical of how the MPs treated the prisoners. We prayed together on Friday afternoons. Orlich even noted that Ahmad was seen to be "shadow boxing" as he left the chapel.

"I found that to be odd," Orlich told a military investigator.

The accusations were retold and exaggerated in back yards and on the beaches during the hot Cuban evenings, fuelled by boredom and discount vodka. Some troopers adopted names for us: "the Muslim clique" and, far more disturbing, Hamas, after the Palestinian organisation.

Did these soldiers truly believe the things they were saying about us and were they truly threatened by the fact that we practised our religion? Or were they just caught up in the pervasive anti-Muslim hostility that defined the mission? I believe that those who accused us of being "radical Islamists" were unable to see that someone can be a Muslim and not be a terrorist.

Most of the Christian soldiers at Guantanamo practised their religion regularly and attended weekly services. Miller was rarely missing from the front row of the chief chaplain's service, which gave it an unstated command emphasis.

Three Christian chaplains hosted weekly Bible studies where soldiers met to discuss their faith. I am sure that they believed this made them better people and better soldiers and helped to ease the tremendous strain of life at Guantanamo. Why couldn't they see that we were simply doing
the same?

For months Orlich watched me and the other Muslims who regularly attended my religious services. He was particularly concerned with Ahmad whose "case" was assigned to Lance Wega, a young civilian agent from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Investigators twice surreptitiously entered Ahmad's living quarters. They took photographs of the house, copied his telephone records and mirrored the hard drive on his computer.

Microsoft was instructed to store Ahmad's e-mails and records of his internet activity without his knowledge.

"You are requested to not disclose the existence of this request to the subscriber or any other person," the letter to Microsoft stated. "Any such disclosure could subject you to criminal liability for obstruction of justice."

Many Muslim personnel came to me to share concerns that things just didn't feel right. Staff Sergeant Mohammad Tabassum, a no-nonsense type of guy in his mid-forties, told me that he had been cleaning out a cupboard in his house on the base and discovered a listening device hidden inside.

Ahmad then told me that his security clearance had been suspended. He was the last person I thought would come under suspicion; he was a loyal American and an exceptional soldier, the best translator in the camp.

When Ahmad's tour of duty came to an end, he left with great excitement, heading for Syria to be married. He and his fiancée had been forced to postpone the wedding when his deployment at Guantanamo was extended. His mother, who had recently recovered from cancer, was to meet Ahmad at the airport in London and then fly with him to Damascus.

A few days after Ahmad left, however, we heard that he had been arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, when he got off the plane from Guantanamo. Nobody knew why or what had happened to him.

After a few weeks news arrived that Tariq Hashim, an air force captain who had been on the same plane, had also been arrested. The FBI had taken both of them. Then we had heard that another member of our prayer group, Petty Officer Samir Hejab, a navy cook, had been arrested as he left Guantanamo at the end of his deployment.

Suddenly it seemed as if every Muslim at Guantanamo was being detained on reaching American soil. Were we all going to be arrested and jailed without explanation?

In the midst of this confusion, I decided that it was time for me to take a break from Guantanamo. Every trooper was allowed a short vacation and by late August I was ready for mine. I felt overjoyed at the idea of seeing my family again. But I also was growing more concerned by the day that something suspicious was happening behind the scenes.

"Have you heard anything about Muslim personnel being arrested recently?" I asked Orlich.

He looked me in the eye. "Nothing," he told me.

"The situation is strange," I said to him. "There's a lot of rumours and I'm wondering if I'm next."

Orlich smiled and put his hand on my shoulder, "Now why would anyone want to arrest you, chaplain?"

I persisted: "Because I am the Muslim chaplain and the one who leads these three missing Muslims in prayer."

Orlich just laughed off my concerns.

My wife said she had my gun in one hand and two rounds in the other

I still don't understand how the misguided suspicions of a few inexperienced soldiers led to the ordeal that changed my life, tore apart my family and destroyed my career.

While my plane headed home to the US on September 10, 2003, representatives of at least five government agencies awaited me at the Jacksonville air station: FBI, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, US Customs and Border Protection and Army Counterintelligence.

After my arrest I was sure that General Miller would order my release. He ran a tight ship and he was a tough leader, but he was a general and he would therefore be fair. But when I was at last arraigned at a pre-trial hearing, I was presented with a memorandum signed by Miller that stated: "Chaplain Yee is known to have associated with known terrorist sympathisers."

He added: "Yee is suspected of several extremely serious crimes, including espionage, which potentially carries the death penalty."

I was too cut off from the world to know that the news of my arrest had broken and that the government was slandering me in the press. There were reports that I had contact with Syrian government officials, that I was affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and that I had been found with maps of Guantanamo and names of the detainees and interrogators.

Sometimes I wondered if I would go crazy trying to deal with the situation and being locked in solitary confinement for what turned out to be 76 days. If it were not for my military training and my religion, perhaps I would have.

After a month I learnt that I was not going to be charged with spying, sedition or aiding the enemy after all but with the "slap on the wrist" charges of taking classified information to my housing quarters and of transporting classified material without the proper container. But my hopes quickly vanished when my lawyer told me that the army was saying that more serious charges might still be brought.

I discovered that I was in the same prison as Yasser Hamdi, an American-born Saudi who was allegedly captured fighting US forces in Afghanistan, and Jose Padilla, who was arrested in Chicago on suspicion of belonging to Al-Qaeda and participating in a plot to detonate a dirty bomb in the United States. Both were deemed enemy combatants. Did this mean I was, too?

At another pre-trial hearing, investigators claimed I was part of a spy ring. The press repeated false information from anonymous government sources that it was one of the most dangerous spy rings to be discovered in the US military since the cold war.

The army was doing far more harm to me privately. Martha Brewer, an agent with the Department of Defence Criminal Investigative Service, went to my apartment near Seattle and told Huda, my wife: "Your husband is not the person you think he is. He's having an affair with three women."

She produced photographs of me with female colleagues on social occasions at Guantanamo in what was clearly a desperate attempt to turn Huda against me. Although these photographs would have been acceptable to most people, Brewer clearly understood that given her traditions, Huda would be particularly upset to see me photographed with women. Huda later told me she was so distressed that some days she couldn't get out of bed and all she could do was cry.

On November 25, with no serious charges in sight, I was suddenly released from custody. But the same day news bulletins announced that I was being charged with adultery (a criminal offence in the military) and with downloading pornography on a government computer. By revealing the new charges on the day of my release from prison, the army had captured the story.

I called Huda and had one of the most difficult experiences of my entire ordeal. She told me that when she had learnt of the new accusations, she had searched out my Smith & Wesson .38 special handgun, which I kept on the top shelf in my cupboard, hidden from view.

"I'm holding it in one hand," she told me, "and two rounds in the other."

"Put it down," I said firmly, fear rising inside of me.

"Tell me how to use it," she whispered. She said that she couldn't deal with this any longer and wanted to be free from everything - the media, the scrutiny, the idea that the United States government could be doing this to our family. It was not the first time that Huda had suggested a desire to die since my arrest, but it had never gone this far.

I didn't know what to do. She hung up and when I called back several times, she didn't answer. Finally I called the local police department. They sent officers to our apartment, who took Huda to a nearby hospital against her will. She was released after several hours, but the police kept the gun. I could not be with her. I was forbidden to leave my military base.

In February last year my lawyers reached a deal with the army that the criminal charges would be dismissed and I would resign my commission with a recommendation for an honourable discharge from Miller and other senior officers. Even so, the military continued to whisper that I was indeed a threat to the nation but it was somehow in the interest of security to drop the case against me. Miller found me guilty of adultery and possessing pornography and formally reprimanded me. Two months later - by which time my case had become a cause celebre - I won an appeal against his decision.

After the charges against me were dropped and it became obvious that the government had erred, many newspaper editorials were written to demand that the military issue an apology.

Of course I want an apology, but it will not restore my marriage which has suffered irreparable damage from the vindictive claims that the military made. Nor will it give me back my job as a Muslim chaplain in the army - a job that allowed me to fulfil my dream of serving both God and country.

Adapted from For God And Country by James Yee with Aimee Molloy to be published by PublicAffairs, a member of the Perseus Books Group, on November 3 at £14.99. Copies can be ordered for £12.09 with free delivery from The Sunday Times BooksFirst on 0870 165 8585

Comment: Imagine that: a third-generation American has his life destroyed for no other reason than his religion - and this in the country that believes it is has the most religious freedom of any nation in the world. When Yee did nothing illegal, charges were fabricated and he was placed in solitary confinement for 76 days while the US government worked on destroying his marriage. Men like James Yee are the "terrorists" that everyone fears. What sort of a life can Yee possibly have now?

The clearly racist, "patriotic", fundamentalist Christian fanatics who are driving prosecutions under the blanket of the "War on Terror" certainly will not have stopped checking up on Yee. He writes, "The military continued to whisper that I was indeed a threat to the nation but it was somehow in the interest of security to drop the case against me". In other words, the harassment of Yee will no doubt continue. Where does he go? His life in the US is in ruins. If he returns to the Middle East, he could be recaptured and more false charges could be brought against him. Yet another US citizen's life has been obliterated for nothing more than a bunch of lies told by the Bush administration after 9/11.

After reading this account - and others before it on past Signs pages - we must again ask the questions: Who are the real terrorists? Who benefits from the senseless destruction of this innocent American's life? And just how much longer are average Americans - and indeed the citizens of many other nations - going to just sit back and pretend like everything is okay in the Land of the Free?

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US, Israeli game theory duo win economics Nobel
By Patrick Lannin
October 10, 2005

STOCKHOLM - An American and an Israeli won the 2005 Nobel prize for economics on Monday for their work on "game theory," which can help explain and resolve trade and business conflicts, and even play a role in avoiding war.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences gave the 10 million crown prize to Thomas Schelling and Robert Aumann for work that has found uses in "security and disarmament policies, price formation on markets, as well as economic and political negotiations."

Aumann, 75, was born in Germany but is an Israeli and U.S. citizen who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Schelling, 84, teaches at the University of Maryland.

"Game theory" is the science of strategy and attempts to determine what actions different "players" -- such as trading partners, employers, unions or even organized crime groups -- should take to secure the best outcome for themselves.

Game theory work has won the Nobel before. John Nash, the mathematician whose life was portrayed in the movie "A Beautiful Mind," won the economics prize with two others in 1994.

"I think game theory creates ideas that are important in solving and approaching conflict in general," Aumann told the awards ceremony by telephone from Israel.

Asked whether it could help solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said: "I do hope that perhaps some game theory can be used and be part of this solution."

Comment: It's already being used. See comments below...

Schelling told Reuters by telephone from his home in Maryland that he was glad to have his work recognized.

"I'm a student of cooperation and conflict, I'm not really a game theorist...I would not try very hard to make the case that what I do is economics," he said.


Schelling, whose career began with work on the U.S. Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe after World War Two, has applied game theory to global security and the Cold War arms race.

In particular, he has tried to explain how a taboo around nuclear weapons after the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 itself became a factor in deterring their use after World War Two, even as both sides of the Cold War amassed big nuclear arsenals.

In a 1978 work, Schelling also used examples from everyday life, such as the difficulty in trying to get ice-hockey players to overcome their fear of being at a competitive disadvantage and wear helmets, even though it would protect their heads.

Aumann was cited for his analysis of "infinitely repeated games" to identify what outcomes can be maintained over time.

"Insights into these issues help explain economic conflicts such as price wars and trade wars, as well as why some communities are more successful than others in managing common-pool resources," said the Academy citation.

Aumann had not decided what to do with the prize money. "I am totally overwhelmed. I had absolutely no idea," he said.

He told a news conference in Jerusalem that game theory had become a cornerstone of economics worldwide.

"This is a badge of honor for this branch of science, for game theory," he added.

The economics prize was not one of the original awards for medicine, physics, chemistry, peace and literature set up in the will of Swedish dynamite millionaire Alfred Nobel in 1895.

It was added to the list in 1968 in memory of Nobel by the Swedish central bank.

Comment: Laura Knight-Jadczyk wrote an interesting explanation of game theory in Chapter 35 of the Adventures Series:

Now, back to Games: Game theory stands on two theorems: von Neumann's "min-max theorem" of 1928, and Nash's equilibrium theorem of 1950. Von Neumann's ideas are the cornerstone of games of pure opposition, or "two-person zero-sum games" as they call them in mathematical terms. As it happens, two person games have no real relevance in the real world. It wasn't until Nash came along, that the distinction between cooperative and noncooperative games was introduced.

Cooperative games are games in which players can make enforceable agreements with other players. That is to say, as a group they can fully commit themselves to specific strategies. Noncooperative games posit that collective commitment is impossible. There are no enforceable agreements. By expanding the theory to include games that involve a mix of cooperation and competition, Nash opened the door to applications of game theory to economics, political science, sociology, and even evolutionary biology. We have noted that Morse Peckham must have been seriously influenced by the ideas of games in his role as a "social historian."

In general, the outcome of a game for any one of the players depends on what all the other players choose to do and vice versa. This means that such games are "interdependent." Games like tic-tac-toe, hangman, and chess involve one kind of interdependence because each of the players moves in turn and has a chance to be aware of the moves of the other and to analyze them before making his or her own move. In such cases, each player will look ahead to possible moves and how they will affect him, he will try to assess the likelihood of these various moves by the other player, and will then reason "back" to his current situation, and pick a move based on these analyses. In such games, the players have to anticipate and assume not only the strategy of the other player, but how that other player will respond to his next move, and so on. The players best strategy can be determined by looking ahead to every possible outcome. In chess, these calculations are too complex, so the players only look ahead a few moves at a time and constantly adjust their strategy based on their experience of the other player.

Games like poker, on the other hand, consist of simultaneous plays wherein the players are ignorant of the other player's current state or possible actions. They are forced to think "I think he thinks that I think that he thinks that I think…" and so on. Each must figuratively put himself in the place of the other player and try to calculate the outcome, including his own move.

Such games, where there is a lack of information which leads to a logical circle that just goes around and around, are what is dealt with by Nash's concept of equilibrium wherein each player picks his best move based on the idea that each of the other players will also pick a "best move," or will have a "best situation" from which to play.

The problem is: the way the theorem is described is very confusing because of the jargon. Nash defined equilibrium as "a situation in which no player could improve his or her position by choosing an alternative available strategy, without implying that each person's privately held best choice will lead to a collectively optimal result." But the bottom line is this: Nash's equilibrium states that each player ought to assume that the other player is out to screw him royally, is probably in a position to do so, and he must therefore use the strategy that is optimal - which is either to submit completely because he knows he doesn't have a good position or a good move available, and the other guy is going to decimate him, or - assuming his position is such that he just can't lose - to screw the other player firstest and mostest.

Today, Nash's concept of equilibrium from strategic games is one of the basic paradigms in social sciences and biology. And he got a Nobel prize for coming up with this idea.

Nash, Shapley, Shubic, and McCarthy, along with another student at Princeton invented a game involving coalitions and double-crosses. Nash called the game "Fuck You, Buddy." It was later published under the name "So Long, Sucker." Nash and the gang created a complicated set of rules designed to force players to join forces with one another to advance, but ultimately to double-cross each other in order to win. The point of the game was to produce psychological mayhem, and apparently, it worked. Sylvia Nasar records that McCarthy remembers losing his temper after Nash cold-bloodedly dumped him on the second-to-last round and Nash was absolutely astonished that McCarthy could get so emotional. "But I didn't need you anymore," Nash kept saying over and over again.

Keep this game in mind because it is the essence of Nash's ideas: to force cooperation to advance, followed by a big double cross in which only one player is the winner.

Sounds a lot like the current day craze of "survival" shows, yes? Which of course, leads us to wonder what kind of "programming," or example such things are setting up as models for human behavior. More importantly: why?

Nash's game theory was all the buzz at RAND even before he arrived there under contract. RAND had been, prior to Nash's ideas, preoccupied with games of total conflict between two players, as defined by von Neumann, since that seemed to fit the problem of nuclear issues between two superpowers. However, as weapons got ever more destructive, the idea of all-out war was seen as a situation in which both players might have a common interest. Bombing the enemy back to the Stone Age no longer made any sense because it could lead to a war of complete extermination on both sides.

Von Neumann had long believed that RAND ought to focus on "cooperative games." That is, games ought to be played "sequentially." Games should involve "moves" based on information, such as in chess or tic-tac-toe. Players ought to communicate and discuss the situation and agree on rational, joint action. In such games, there is cooperation and collaboration, and an umpire around to enforce the agreement.

Economists, however, did not like Von Neumann's ideas. They said that it was like saying that our only hope for preventing a dangerous and wasteful arms race lay in appointing a world government with the power to enforce simultaneous disarmament. As it happens, a One World Government, composed of member nations, was a very popular idea among mathematicians and scientists at the time.

But the social scientists, the economists, were doubtful of the idea that any nation, much less the Russians, would cede sovereignty to such an organization. In other words, in cooperative game theory, who's going to force the other side to cooperate?

But Nash came along and solved the problem. He demonstrated that noncooperative games COULD have stable solutions. In short, one "player" could have a strategy in which they "force players to join forces with one another to advance, but ultimately to double-cross the other players in order to win."

To put this in practical terms: a One World Government might be advocated by a major player, promoted, setup, and all the other players might follow the rules - but that one player has every intention of BEING the One World Government and overthrowing the powers of all the other players at the last instant.

Now, just what government in the world today seems to be playing Nash's strategy? Take your time. There's no hurry.

Nash's theory inspired the most famous game of strategy of all social scientists called The Prisoner's Dilemma, which goes as follows: Imagine that the police arrest two suspects and interrogate them in separate rooms. Each one is given the choice of confessing, implicating the other, or keeping silent.

No matter what the other suspect does, each suspect's outcome - considered alone - would be better if he confessed. If one suspect confesses, the other ought to do the same and thereby avoid the harsher penalty for holding out. If one of them remains silent, the other one can confess, cut a deal for turning state's evidence, and the one who remains silent gets the whammy. Confession, or "cooperation," is the "dominant strategy." Since each is aware of the other's incentive to confess, it is "rational" for both to confess.

And here we come to the realization of the power of the psychopath and how Game Theory is being "used" against us. You see, the psychopath, having no conscience, does not have the ability to "imagine" the consequences of the noncooperation in terms of being able to "feel" it. Without this ability to imaginatively feel the consequences, he is virtually fearless, and can therefore direct his behavior according to his own fantasized outcome with no regard whatsoever to reality, remembered experiences, the imagined experiences of others, and so forth. That is to say, for the psychopath, rationality is determined by virtue of the idea that it is self-serving to the max. "Rationality" is the assumption that everyone else is looking out for number 1, and to hell with everybody else.

NEVER confessing, thus becomes the psychopath's "dominant strategy."

The reader will probably immediately see the dynamic of human relations involving a psychopathic personalities and a "normal" human. Psychopaths, having no conscience, always play their dominant strategy which is totally "rational" without the influence of emotions conjured up by imagination. They do not modify their behavior or choices based on emotion or consideration for the feelings or motivations of others. They will implicate the normal person in the "prisoner's dilemma," and will refuse to confess their own guilt, because they simply have no ability to perceive hurting another as morally reprehensible. This is the psychopath's "dominant strategy." They will never, in such a situation, consider cooperation.

Normal people, on the other hand, having conscience and emotion, will make choices based on imagination reinforced by emotion. In some cases, in the prisoner's dilemma, they will refuse to confess out of loyalty to the other, never realizing that the other might be a psychopath who has not only refused to confess his own guilt, has undertaken to make a deal for himself by implicating the other. Some people may even confess in order to "save" the other person from suffering pain, never realizing that they have been manipulated into this role by a psychopath who is all the while saying "Yes, he did it! I am innocent!" when, in fact, the truth is the exact opposite.

It's easy to see that in any interaction between a psychopath and a normal person with full range of emotions, the psychopath will always "win."

Two of the scientists at RAND set up some experiments using a couple of other scientist-contractors as "guinea pigs. They wondered if real people playing the game would be mysteriously drawn into the "equilibrium strategy. They ran the experiment 100 times. Nash's theory predicted that both players would play their "self-serving" strategies even though playing their "cooperative" strategies would have left both better off. As it turned out, the results of these trials did not turn out according to Nash's theory. Why? Because the two scientists tended to choose cooperation more often than cheating. Once they had realized that players ought to cooperate to maximize their winnings, that is the strategy they chose.

When Nash learned of the experiment he wrote:

The flaw in the experiment as a test of equilibrium point theory is that […] there is too much interaction. […] One would have thought them more rational. [Quoted by Nasar, op. cit.]

In short, the players had consciences and this contributed to their choice of maneuvers.

At RAND, Nash devised a model of negotiation between two parties whose interests neither coincide nor are exactly opposed. It is a classic example of what we see taking place in our world today:

Stage One: Each player chooses a threat and says "this is what I'll be forced to do if our demands are incompatible and we can't make a deal."
Stage Two: The players inform each other of the threats.
Stage Three: Each player chooses a demand that he thinks is worth agreeing for. If the deal doesn't guarantee him that, at least, no deal.
Stage: Four: If the deal is made (under threat, mind you), both players get what they want. If not, the threats must be executed. This means, don't threaten what you really can't deliver, and always deliver what you threaten.

Nash showed that each player has an "optimal threat," or the threat that ensures the deal no matter what the other player chooses.

Again, do we see this style of play in operation today? Either in terms of politics, or in terms of the relations between government and the people?

Now, coming back to psychopaths: it is fairly easy to see that they often manipulate others to join forces with them in order to help them to advance, but ultimately, when they don't "need them anymore," they double-cross the other in order to win. The result is deliberate psychological mayhem.

In short, it isn't even necessary for a grand and logistically complex government mind control program to be in operation in order to produce the conditions necessary to ultimately enforce total controls on humanity. It is only necessary to have strategically placed psychopaths in the population, to train and influence selected ones in particular ways through what would be seen on the surface as "ordinary means," and simply calculate the fact that they will always operate with their dominant strategy - serving self.

I expect that the reader is beginning to make all kinds of connections regarding how Game Theory may be being utilized to bring the world to heel. [...]

After reading the above excerpt, think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Think about the "cooperation" between Israel and the US, and how the fundamentalist Christians who are driving much of US policy believe that when the end of the world arrives, any Jews who do not convert to Christianity will basically be wiped out. Isn't it interesting that an Israeli and an American won the Nobel prize for their work on game theory?

Think about the "allies" of the US in the War on Terror who seem to be working alongside the Bush gang despite frequent protests from their own people. How many of these leaders have been promised a chip in the big game? How many of them are expecting to be double-crossed by the Bush regime, and are therefore planning their own double-cross?

Game theory is indeed about far more than just economics.

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Explosives Found Near Tech Dorms
Valerie Hoff
NBC News 11
10/10/2005 10:01:40 PM

ATLANTA - Three explosive devices found in a courtyard between two Georgia Tech dormitories on the East Campus Monday morning were part of a "terrorist act," an Atlanta police official said.

One of the devices exploded, injuring the custodian who found them inside a plastic bag. Two others were detonated by a bomb squad.The custodian suffered ringing to the ears and was treated at a local hospital. The events led to a temporary evacuation Monday morning.

"It is a terrorist act at this point and depending on the outcome of the investigation it potentially could become a federal violation as well," said Major C.W. Moss of the Atlanta Police Department.

Under Georgia state law, a terroristic act is described as the release of a "hazardous substance," specifically for "the purpose of causing the evacuation of a building" with "reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror."

The custodian found the three devices about 9 a.m. in a plastic-type garbage bag, Moss said. When he picked up the bag, one exploded, as it was designed to do when handled. The explosives were made up of chemicals placed inside plastic bottles and could have seriously injured someone, officials said. Numerous agencies were on the Georgia Tech campus to search for suspects.

"It will be a joint investigation between the Atlanta Police Department, the Georgia Tech Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Every possible lead will be followed," said Major Moss.

About 100 students were evacuated from the Cloudman and Glenn dormitories, according to school spokeswoman Amelia Gambino.

Comment: This is the second university to be hit recently by "terrorist bombings":

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Is Lack Of Big Media Coverage Of Oklahoma Explosion OK?
Public Eye
October 10, 2005

Has there been more happening at the University of Oklahoma than hazing and all-nighters? The blogosphere, led by Michelle Malkin, has been chronicling the suspicious explosion at the University of Oklahoma just over a week ago, and wondering why the big media doesn't appear interested.

According to most reports, Joel Hinrichs III was a young man with a history of depression who used a homemade explosive device to commit suicide just 100 yards or so from the school's football stadium, which was filled with over 80,000 people at the time. Officials were quick to call the incident a suicide, but rumors and reports of Hinrichs' attempts to buy large quantities of ammonium nitrate and ties to the Muslim community have raised a lot of questions and the answers thus far are not forthcoming.

The Oklahoma Daily, OU's independent campus paper, lays blame on the FBI today for the confusion:

Remember, the FBI has commandeered this investigation. In doing so and by not telling anyone anything, they are only allowing the events of Oct. 2 to be misinterpreted over and over by people who are firm in believing something that is false and terribly dangerous.

For example, unsubstantiated claims that Hinrichs had been frequenting the Norman mosque have managed to seep onto television news broadcasts even though everyone we have contacted at the mosque says Hinrichs was never seen there.

So who is lying? Inherently, people should perceive the unfounded news broadcasts as the liars, but that doesn't always happen. And even if only one person sees and believes such a report there or online, word of mouth can transmit that "truth" to hundreds or thousands within a matter of days.

Which is why it is undeniably the duty of the FBI to break its unctuous vow of silence and talk to somebody. The longer the feds delay in doing so, the more they become equally responsible for misinformed social reactions as the hacks who started these rumors in the first place.

Many, Malkin included, have wondered where the MSM is on this story. As the Oklahoma Daily editorial notes, local television has covered it and a quick Google search turns up (sometimes conflicting) reports in local and regional newspapers but no major media outlets appear to have picked up the story yet. We asked CBS News national editor Bill Felling, who told us the network is looking into the story. Let's hope so, it's one worth airing, whatever the facts are.

Comment: Yesterday, an LA neighborhood was hit by an explosive device:

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Explosive found at Midvale
By Richard Clough
October 10, 2005

LOS ANGELES - A calm and quiet Westwood was briefly disrupted Friday afternoon when the Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad inspected and detonated an explosive device found within the Midvale Plaza apartment complex on the 500 block of Midvale Avenue.

After responding to a call made at 11:13 a.m., the bomb squad arrived at 527 Midvale Ave. to find "an improvised explosive device" in the building's open-air courtyard, said Grace Brady, a spokeswoman for the LAPD.

No injuries were reported, but authorities have been slow to release details about the incident and the device.

Residents said they first heard a small explosion sometime between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday, but most said they went back to sleep. It was not until a resident found an explosive device later that morning that the police were called.

Police cars, FBI vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks and parking-enforcement vehicles blocked access to the street, and police officers restricted nearby pedestrian traffic while the bomb squad inspected the device. About 15 people waited at the corner of Midvale Avenue and Ophir Drive until they were allowed to return to their apartments near where the explosive was found.

Neither the apartment building nor nearby buildings were evacuated, but Paul Robi, a detective with the FBI bomb squad, said the squad executed "a moderate evacuation," which amounted to telling residents to stay off their balconies and in their apartments. Curious onlookers who stepped onto their balconies said they were immediately told to go back into their apartments.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the bomb squad remotely detonated the device. A low boom was audible for about a one-block radius, and several people who live across the street said they felt their apartments shake.

Beau Gillman, a second-year business economics student who lives across the street, said he heard shouts of "fire in the hole" before he heard and felt the explosion.

About five minutes later, police reopened the street to vehicles and pedestrians.

Most of the residents interviewed said they were aware of the situation, but they did not feel afraid or threatened. Most were surprised that someone would put an explosive in a Westwood apartment building.

Several residents said their apartments were briefly searched after the incident, but they said the searches did not appear to specifically target any residents. They also said it appeared to be apartment management who conducted the searches, though Midvale Plaza managers refused to comment.

Nancy Greenstein, director of the UCPD community services division, said UCPD officers were not on the scene Friday, but they routinely investigate suspicious packages. None of the recent calls to the department have revealed actual explosive devices, she said.

Comment: Strangely enough, no mention has been made of these bombings as the work of "American al-Qaeda"...

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Lawyer: Taped Beating Subject Wasn't Drunk
Associated Press Writer
October 10, 2005

NEW ORLEANS -- A 64-year-old man who was repeatedly punched in the head by police in an incident caught on videotape was not drunk, as police have alleged, and put up no resistance as he was being pummeled, his lawyer said Monday.

The man, a retired elementary school teacher, had returned to New Orleans only to check on property he owns in the storm-ravaged city, and was out looking to buy cigarettes when he was arrested Saturday night in the French Quarter, the lawyer and the man's father said.

Police have alleged that Robert Davis was publicly intoxicated.

A federal civil rights investigation was opened into the incident. Davis is black. The three city police officers seen on the tape are white. Police spokesman Marlon Defillo said race was not an issue.

Two city officers accused in the beating, and a third officer accused of grabbing and shoving an Associated Press Television News producer who helped document the confrontation, pleaded not guilty on Monday to battery charges.

After a hearing at which trial was set for Jan. 11, officers Lance Schilling, Robert Evangelist and S.M. Smith were released on bond. They left in cars without commenting.

The three were suspended without pay Sunday, Defillo said. [...]

The APTN tape shows an officer hitting Davis at least four times in the head outside a bar. Davis twisted and flailed as he was dragged to the ground by several officers. Davis's lawyer said his client did not resist.

"I don't think that when a person is getting beat up there's a whole lot of thought. It's survival. You don't have a whole lot of time to think when you're being pummeled," Bruno said.

Davis was kneed and pushed to the sidewalk with blood streaming down his arm and into the gutter. The officers accused of striking Davis were identified as Schilling and Evangelist.

Bruno said his client suffered fractures to his cheek and eye socket, and scrapes and bruises, but was expected to recover.

He added that his client was a recovering narcotics abuser who hadn't had a drink or taken drugs in "years and years. He was not taking anything."

Davis is a retired teacher who has lived in New Orleans for about 30 years, said his father, David Davis, 87, of Columbus, Ohio.

The elder Davis said his son had gone to New Orleans over the weekend to visit his own house and a couple of others that he owns with his wife, also a retired teacher.

"They were there looking things over, trying to find out what happened to their property," David Davis said. "That's probably the reason he was walking around the French Quarter." [...]

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British troops in Iraq to be cut by 500 in November: minister
Mon Oct 10, 2:46 PM ET

LONDON - Britain said it will cut its military presence in Iraq by around 500 troops to 8,000 next month as it closes two small bases and hands over some training duties to the Iraqi security forces.

Defence Secretary John Reid told the House of Commons that the changes involve having 7 Armoured Brigade take over from 12 Mechanised Brigade.

"The total number of troops in Iraq following the deployment of 7 Armoured Brigade will be around 8,000," Reid told the first session of the House of Commons since it returned from its 80-day summer recess.

"This is about 500 fewer than at present, reflecting the closure of two small bases in Basra, the transfer of some training tasks to the Iraqi security forces and structural differences between the two brigades," Reid said.

"These are relatively minor adjustments, however, and will not affect the activities being carried out by the United Kingdom forces," he said.

Reid has long said he hopes to begin the process of withdrawing British troops from Iraq within the next year as Iraqi security forces become better trained.

However, he also repeated Britain's determination to keep troops in Iraq as long as the government in Baghdad needs the US-led coalition forces, which invaded Iraq in March 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Britain would not "abandon Iraq before it is ready to stand on its own two feet," Reid said. [...]

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Iraq rebuilding slows as U.S. money for projects dries up
By Rick Jervis
Mon Oct 10, 7:33 AM ET

On paper, the Iraqi Army barracks was a gleaming example of the future Iraq. The plans called for a two-story, air-conditioned barracks housing 850 soldiers, a movie theater, classrooms, basketball courts, a shooting range, even an officer's club.

But when the $10 million project in southern Iraq is finished this month, it will fall far short of those ambitious plans. The theater, classrooms, officer's club, basketball courts and shooting range have all been scrapped. The barracks will be one story instead of two.

The reason for scaling back the barracks? The U.S. government is running out of money. The higher than expected cost of protecting workers against insurgent attacks - about 25 cents of every reconstruction dollar now pays for security - has sent the cost of projects skyward.

The result: Some projects have been eliminated and others cut back.

"American money has dried up," says Brent Rose, chief of program/project management for the Army Corps of Engineers in southern Iraq.

And tracking the billions of dollars that flooded into a war zone in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion has proved difficult, too. Nearly $100 million in reconstruction money is unaccounted for.

The ultimate price of a slowdown in Iraq's reconstruction could be steep. U.S. strategy here is based on the premise that jobs and prosperity will sap the strength of the insurgency and are as important as military successes in defeating terrorists.

"A free and prosperous Iraq will be a major blow to the terrorists and their desire to establish a safe haven in Iraq where they can plan and plot attacks," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said last week.

But there are signs that some of the early momentum is gone, particularly for big infrastructure projects. The Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works initially planned to use U.S. funds for 81 much-needed water and sewage treatment projects across the country, says Humam Misconi, a ministry official. That list has dwindled to 13.

Canceled projects include the $50 million project that was supposed to provide potable water to the second-largest city in the Kurdish region, and a $60 million water treatment plant in Babil province, which would have served about 360,000 residents, Misconi says.

Some progress has been made. More than 2,800 projects have begun since the transfer of sovereignty last summer, and 1,700 of those have been completed, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. They include refurbished schools, new police stations, hospitals, bridges and new roads.

It is the larger, more expensive projects such as water treatment plants, sewage networks and power grids that are being cut back.

Comment: Is there anything the invading US forces didn't destroy??

Congress appropriated $18.4 billion for Iraq reconstruction in November 2003, but last year nearly $5 billion of it was diverted to help train and equip Iraq's security forces as the insurgency grew in strength.

And the security costs keep increasing. Originally estimated at 9% of total project costs, security costs have risen to between 20% and 30%, says Brig. Gen. William McCoy Jr., commander of the Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq.

Power outages throughout Iraq

By 2003, Iraq's infrastructure was run down after years of United Nations-mandated sanctions and neglect. Rebuilding it has proved tougher than first envisioned. Nearly half of all of Iraqi households still don't have access to clean water, and only 8% of the country, excluding the capital, is connected to sewage networks.

Comment: That's funny, because most ordinary Iraqis claim that things were never this bad under Saddam...

And despite progress in fixing Iraq's antiquated oil production system, the country's oil wells produce about 1.9 million barrels of crude oil a day, lower than 2003 levels and well under the 3.5 million barrels Iraq was producing before the 1991 Gulf War.

Iraqi households still endure about 10 hours a day of power outages. In Baghdad, the power is out about 14 hours a day, according to the Electricity Ministry. Iraqi power plants are now generating nearly 4,800 megawatts, up from 4,400 before the U.S.-led invasion.

The increase hasn't been enough to keep up with demand. Since the end of the war, demand for electricity has increased by about 60% as Iraqis have bought new refrigerators, televisions, air conditioners and satellite dishes, says a Corps of Engineers spokesman.

The lack of dramatic economic progress has hurt efforts to win over Iraqis, says Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Unemployed young men are more easily drawn into the ranks of the insurgency than those with jobs.

Comment: The Army Corps of Engineers claims that Iraqis are running out and buying new refrigerators, televisions, air conditioners, and satellite dishes, and yet in the next paragraph we read that there has not been any dramatic economic progress. We wonder how Iraqis can afford all those new toys given the constant attacks, crumbling economy, and job shortages?

And if other Iraqis don't see an improvement in their daily lives, they may sympathize with rebels. "The economy is not helping us win the war," O'Hanlon says.

The U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority originally set a goal of employing 50,000 Iraqis on reconstruction projects, but the target wasn't achieved, according to a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In August, unemployment and underemployment were estimated at 50%, the report said. [...]

Western contractors can't visit projects without elaborate planning and preparation.

On a recent morning at Camp Adder, the fortified base near here where the Corps of Engineers is housed, a team of engineers huddled around the armored Ford SUVs of an Erinys International security team for the daily briefing. The Army Corps hires private security firms, such as Erinys, to take them to sites.

The civilian and military engineers are briefed before being ferried by the guards in a convoy of three vehicles. A guard sits in the back of the last vehicle, his assault rifle trained on any car that gets too close. [...]

"Reconstruction in Iraq has been slower, more painful, more complex, more fragmented and more inefficient than anyone in Washington or Baghdad could have imagined," said Rep. Jim Kolbe, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, during a subcommittee meeting last month. .

Much of the security cost is buried in "cost-plus" contracts in which companies get reimbursed for all costs plus a percentage of those costs as a fee.

All 11 multinational firms working on projects through the Iraqi Project and Contracting Office have "cost-plus" contracts, says Karen Durham-Aguilera, the office's director of programs.

One "cost-plus" project is the water treatment plant under construction here, which is managed jointly by London-based AMEC and California-based Fluor Corp. The project was originally estimated to cost $80 million, according to Army Corps of Engineers records.

But the original Iraqi subcontractor pulled out after he was threatened. Delays, drive-by shootings and land-acquisition snags followed, driving security and other costs up, according to Corps officials and records. The project's estimated completion cost rose to $200 million, the corps said.

Comment: In other words, as ordinary Iraqis continue to suffer, Western corporations are making out like bandits...

AMEC officials declined to comment. Bob Fletcher, Fluor's director of water programs, disputed the corps' figures but would not elaborate on the project's cost.

Iraqi contractors, not saddled by steep security costs, say they can do the work for less. The Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works is using Iraqi funds to build two similarly sized treatment plants in Karbala and Kut, says the ministry's Misconi. Combined cost of both projects: $185 million.

"We keep saying, 'Give us the money and we could do it better, cheaper,'" Misconi says. "Estimated cost of security on the Nasiriyah project is $54 million. We could build a whole new plant with this amount of money."

Salty water

As funds run dry, some projects are being handed over to Iraqis. In Najaf, for example, Army Corps officials bought parts to upgrade the city's electrical distribution system, including transformers, lines and wires, then handed them to local construction officials for them to do the work, saving millions on labor, security and administrative costs, McCallister says.

In the next few years, Najaf will benefit from 30 projects costing $100 million in U.S. taxpayer money, including new hospitals, clinics and police stations, McCallister says. But bigger projects, such as water treatment plants and electrical grids, are too expensive to launch, he says.

"Will (the projects) make a difference? Yes," McCallister says. "Will it make a major, major difference? No. We could continue putting three times that much money into that city."

The refurbished hospitals and new clinics in town are nice, says Abdul Hussein Ali, 52, a retired hospital worker living in Najaf with six children. But what would bring real joy, he says, is water that doesn't pour into his sink cloudy and salty and needing chemicals to purify.

"The water here is as salty as the desert," he says.

"Since the start of the war to today, you cannot say there has been remarkable change," Ali says. "The situation is improving, but very, very slowly."

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Ex-Iraqi Officials Sought in $1B Theft
Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 11, 1:50 AM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq has issued arrest warrants against the defense minister and 27 other officials from the U.S.-backed government of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi over the alleged disappearance or misappropriation of $1 billion in military procurement funds, officials said Monday.

Those accused include four other ministers from Allawi's government, which was replaced by an elected Cabinet led by Shiite parties in April, said Ali al-Lami of Iraq's Integrity Commission. Many of the officials are believed to have left Iraq, including Hazem Shaalan, the former defense minister who moved to Jordan shortly after the new government was installed.

For months, Iraqi investigators have been looking into allegations that millions of dollars were spent on overpriced deals for shoddy weapons and military hardware, apparently to launder cash, at a time when Iraq was battling a bloody insurgency that still persists.

Comment: Translation: The US government handsomely rewarded the members of the first puppet government in Iraq after the invasion.

In Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated a car full of mortars near an entrance to the fortified Green Zone on Monday, killing a U.S. soldier and six Iraqis in one of a string of insurgent attacks in which at least 13 other Iraqis also died.

Gunmen opened fire on a convoy carrying delegates from the Arab League in Baghdad during the organization's first visit to Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The league has met resistance from Shiite and Kurdish leaders as it tries to piece together a reconciliation conference with Sunnis. A policeman was wounded in the shooting, but no one in the delegation was hurt.

The violence comes five days ahead of Iraq's key vote on a new constitution, which Kurds and the majority Shiites largely support and the Sunni Arab minority rejects. Sunnis are campaigning to defeat the charter at the polls, though officials from all sides have been trying up to the last minute to decide on changes to the constitution to swing Sunni support.

Whether the constitution passes or fails, Iraq is due to hold elections for a new parliament on Dec. 15. The corruption allegations are a blow to Allawi as he tries to assemble a coalition of moderates to run against the current ruling Shiite-led coalition in the election in a bid to get back into the government.

With strong U.S. backing, Allawi was named head of the first transitional government after the U.S. returned sovereignty to Iraq in June 2004, but his Iraqi List party did poorly in January parliamentary elections that swept the Shiite-Kurdish coalition into power.

Besides Shaalan, warrants were issued against Allawi's labor, transportation, electricity and housing ministers, as well as 23 former Defense Ministry officials, said al-Lami, who heads Iraq's De-Baathification Commission, part of the Commission of Public Integrity.

He did not name all the officials, and Shaalan and the ministers could not be reached for comment.

An attempt was under way to strip Shaalan, a member of parliament, of his immunity from prosecution. Parliament met Monday to do so but did not have a quorum.

"The warrant was issued against Shaalan due to the corruption allegations regarding the missing $1 billion in the Iraqi Defense Ministry. As soon as his immunity is lifted, the country where he is now living will be asked to extradite him to Iraq," al-Lami said, without naming the country.

In Monday's worst attack, a suicide bomber drove his car toward a U.S-Iraqi checkpoint at an entrance to the Green Zone - the most fortified sector of Baghdad, where government offices and the U.S. Embassy are located behind a maze of blast walls and checkpoints.

Iraqi police opened fire on the car as it approached, and it detonated. The car was packed with 11 mortar rounds and 60 pounds of explosives, Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams said.

A U.S. soldier was killed in the blast, the military said. Three Iraqi policemen and three Iraqi civilians were also killed, said Capt. Qassim Hussein said.

The American death brought to 1,956 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Within an hour of that explosions, suicide attackers set off car bombs in two other parts of Baghdad, though they caused no death. One hit near a police station, wounding four officers and leaving the twisted wreckage of the vehicle and the bomber's body lying on the pavement near a billboard advertising the constitution with the slogan, "Iraq: A Promising Future."

Also Monday, a video was posted on an Islamic Web site showing purported Iraqi militants shooting dead two Iraqi policemen. The Ansar al-Sunnah Army said it carried out the executions, but the claim could not be immediately verified.

In earlier scenes, the victims were shown sitting blindfolded. The men said they were captured while traveling from Baghdad to the northern city of Kirkuk. The group said the two were captured after a battle that killed 10 other policemen.

In other violence:

Four policemen were killed in shootings in Baghdad. In Kirkuk, a city 180 miles north of the capital, four Iraqi soldiers were killed in two separate roadside bomb attacks, police said.

Further north, two Sunni Arab political leaders, an Iraqi soldier and an Iraqi policeman died in separate drive-by shootings in Mosul, officials said.

A roadside bomb blast killed an Iraqi policeman in the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

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SEALs Launching Public Recruiting Effort
Associated Press
October 10, 2005

CORONADO, Calif. - The Navy SEALs prefer to operate in the shadows, but the Pentagon's need to increase the ranks of the elite terrorist-hunting commando force is prompting an unusually splashy recruiting effort.

Navy SEAL Mitchell Hall, who won a Bronze Star in 2001 in Afghanistan, hopes to use the upcoming Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii to spread the word about the need for more recruits.

The competition will make the 31-year-old chief petty officer a spokesman for the community of self-described quiet professionals and put him in front of the cameras he spent years avoiding.

The change in recruiting methods comes amid the Pentagon's increasing reliance on special operations and the call for a 15 percent increase in SEALs over the next several years.

The SEALs have a legendary reputation as an elite, highly skilled fighting force, but it is hard to find candidates with the necessary physical conditioning.

Just to get a chance to try out, SEAL recruits must swim 500 yards, then breeze through a series of push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups and run 1.5 miles - all within strict time limits. This year, 500 of the 823 SEAL recruits - or 60 percent - failed the test in the first days of boot camp.

"We can't survive on that any longer," said Master Chief Petty Officer Andy Tafelski, 51, who has a key role in the recruiting effort. "The pipeline has to become more efficient."

For the SEALs, who consider themselves the best of the best, lowering their standards is out of the question.

Hall, 31, will be competing in the Oct. 15 Ironman - a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon - wearing a blue jersey emblazoned with a Navy SEAL insignia. He won the Navy SEAL's Superfrog Triathalon in September and now his goal is to finish among the top 100 in Hawaii's Ironman.

"When I'm out there at hour five or whatever it is, and I feel like I'm hurting pretty bad, I've had experience with the same things doing activities in the SEALs," he said.

To boost the SEALs' ranks, the Navy is also working with recruiters to begin testing potential SEALs before they get to boot camp and making sure they have the physical skills. Mentors will work with those who qualify to prepare them for what comes next.

Every SEAL must finish one of the world's toughest entrance exams, a six-month training program that typically weeds out three of every four candidates.

The Navy also is creating a SEAL rating - a formal job description - that should allow candidates to more quickly begin formal SEAL training. Previously, SEALs - the name stands for Sea, Air, Land - had to attend school to learn traditional jobs held by Navy sailors.

Driving the changes is the need to add 400 men by fiscal 2008, bringing the total number of SEALs from 2,600 to about 3,000. Special operations units in the Army and Air Force also are planning to increase their ranks, and U.S. Special Operations Command is offering bonuses of up to $150,000 to keep the most experienced operators from bolting to the more lucrative private sector.

The SEALs are looking to the fill the grueling Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training program at Coronado, outside San Diego, to its full capacity of 850 students - something that has never happened, Tafelski said.

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Merkel looks for German government that can bridge divisions
Tue Oct 11, 1:58 AM ET

BERLIN - Germany's chancellor-in-waiting Angela Merkel will turn to the task of building a coalition government capable of injecting new life into the country's ailing economy.

Merkel is set to become the first woman chancellor in Germany's history at the head of a power-sharing administration of her Christian Democrat alliance and the Social Democrats.

She won her personal duel with Gerhard Schroeder, who stood down on Monday after seven years in power, but the price she will have to pay for her new position is a government loaded with his Social Democrats.

The Financial Times Deutschland newspaper said on Tuesday that Merkel would have to work "in the worst possible conditions", holding together a fractious administration.

The Tagesspiegel newspaper said she "will find it hard to govern as she intended", but an editorial also hailed the remarkable rise to power of Merkel who grew up in the communist former East Germany.

"It is a turning point, a truly historic moment because of Merkel's background," it said.

There was however little celebration in the air as Merkel, 51, announced a deal on Monday which removed the main obstacle to formal negotiations on a coalition government which could last until mid-November -- many Christian Democrats believe they should have won the election on September 18 by a clear margin after leading in opinion polls for weeks.

Instead, they secured only a four-seat advantage over the Social Democrats, a wafer-thin margin which has forced the conservatives to make wide-ranging concessions in order to secure her nomination as chancellor.

The deal to end three weeks of political limbo will see the Social Democrats take eight ministries, including the powerful portfolios of foreign affairs, finance, labour and justice, as well as health, aid and cooperation, transport and environment, party sources said.

The Christian Democrats would have six -- economy, interior, defence, agriculture, education and family.

Edmund Stoiber, the state premier of Germany's most wealthy region Bavaria, confirmed he would be taking over the economy job.

"I believe I can draw on my experience in Bavaria to create a dynamic economy for the whole of Germany," Stoiber said.

Other posts are less clear-cut.

Peter Struck, a Social Democrat and currently the straight-talking defence minister, may switch to become foreign minister to replace Joschka Fischer, according to some reports.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, the wheelchair-bound close confidante of the former chancellor Helmut Kohl, is rumoured to be in line for a return to the interior ministry where he was in charge from 1989 to 1991.

And the so-called poisonned chalice of the cabinet, the finance ministry, may go to Peer Steinbrueck, the former Social Democrat state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia.

At least Merkel will not have to deal with Schroeder, who is not expected to play any role in the government.

Whoever ends up around the cabinet table, Merkel will have a delicate balancing act on her hands and the pastor's daughter will have to draw on all the experience she gained on the way up the ranks of the male-dominated Christian Democratic Union.

She faces formidable economic challenges, with unemployment of more than 11 percent chief among them.

"The coalition government must create jobs," Merkel admitted on Monday.

Economists hope a stable government will be able to take a fresh look at the country's federal system, simplify the tax system and get its public finances in order, although they warn only a watered-down version of Merkel's reform programme will survive the coalition negotiations.

"The hope that Germany would be a shining European example for accelerated reforms has been dashed," said Bank of America economist Holger Schmieding.

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Nervous start for a leader on thin ice
From Roger Boyes in Berlin
Times Online

GERMANY'S first female Chancellor looked like a nervous schoolgirl yesterday, chewing her nails and typing out text messages before announcing that, yes, she had carried off the prize. "I'm fine, in a good mood," she said in a voice drained of enthusiasm.

There has never been a German Chancellor so hemmed in, so weak. Half her Cabinet will be made up of Social Democrats who have shown her nothing but contempt. Other key ministries will be occupied by old rivals, such as Edmund Stoiber, the Bavarian premier.

Everything hinges on her ability to persuade ordinary people of the need for reform. Yet nothing in her career so far indicates a populist touch.

Frau Merkel is a physicist, and her dearest wish is to lead a government of technocrats. "She would like to remove the sting from politics," said a Social Democrat close to Gerhard Schröder, the outgoing Chancellor, "which goes to show that she has missed the point. We are in it for the sting." Frau Merkel has no regional powerbase. She is disliked in her native eastern Germany and not completely understood in the west of the country. As a Protestant divorcée, she still has problems of acceptance by the conservative wing of her Christian Democrats.

Unlike her male counterparts in the party, she did not rise through its youth wing and create a network. Her political training was in the communist Free German Youth, where she was an enthusiastic organiser. All her tactical skills, her ability to freeze out challengers, derive from that.

She is remarkably friendless. Her closest ally remains her second husband, Joachim Sauer, a misanthropic scientist with a distaste for journalists and even politicians. Many of the men she will be appointing to her Cabinet bear grudges against her. She needs them now; they do not need her.

As a girl, Angela Merkel learnt to be cautious. Her father, as a pastor in East Germany, was under close scrutiny and so she became a chameleon at school, a conformist. She avoids open confrontation and waits her chance. Together with her circle of women advisers, she plots out moves in advance. The real skill needed to head a grand coalition, however, is the ability to improvise.

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Up to 2.5m Pakistanis homeless after quake
By Jo Johnson in New Delhi and Farhan Bokhari in Bissian, northern Pakistan
Financial Times
October 10 2005 18:35

Up to 2.5m Pakistanis have been left homeless and more than 30,000 are feared dead from the earthquake that struck south Asia at the weekend, according to estimates from aid agencies and government officials.

"We think there are at least 4m very vulnerable people in the affected area, of whom between 1m and 2.5m are severely affected, without a shelter for the night," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswomen for the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The UN agency will on Tuesday launch a three-month "flash appeal", calling for supplies of "winterised tents and blankets", with many of the displaced now having spent three nights without shelter.

Estimates of the likely death toll rose sharply again on Monday when Faisal Saleh Hayat, Pakistan's minister for Kashmir affairs, said more than 30,000 had died in the Pakistani-administered half of Kashmir alone. A further 7,000 people are reported to have died in Pakistan's adjacent North-West Frontier province. More than 800 people have also died in Indian-controlled Kashmir. This compares with President Pervez Musharraf's tentative estimate on Sunday of 15,000-20,000 fatalities across Pakistan and intensifies the pressure on Pakistan's military ruler as he faces one of his greatest challenges since he seized power in 1999. Gen Musharraf has taken personal responsibility for the relief operation, wearing his military uniform instead of the civilian garb he adopted recently. Pakistan on Monday also accepted an offer of assistance from India, following Gen Musharraf's warning at the weekend over accepting aid from its neighbour.

Though Pakistan's foreign ministry said there was "no possibility" of joint relief operations with India, Islamabad said it would accept New Delhi's offers of tents, food, medicine and supplies for earthquake-hit areas in the Pakistani portion of Kashmir.

Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, directed the supplies "on a very urgent basis", according to Shyam Saran, India's foreign secretary.

Both the offer of aid and its receipt hold political significance for both countries, which have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir. Both countries have moved to improve relations in the past year.

About 75 per cent of buildings in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, were reduced to rubble by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake. Many of the survivors need to be housed in pre-fabricated homes within a month to avert many deaths in sub-zero temperatures, a senior Pakistani government official warned on Monday night.

The official said Pakistan was considering a summit of key prospective donors. The US on Monday pledged $50m in aid, the use of eight helicopters and four large military transport aircraft.

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West's response condemned as slow and inadequate
By Elizabeth Davies and Jan McGirk in Islamabad
The Independent
11 October 2005

Western governments rushed to step up their pledges for the earthquake relief effort after their initial response to the disaster was condemned as slow-moving and financially inadequate.

The United States, which was under pressure to increase a pledge of $500,000 (£280,000) considered almost derisory by many Pakistanis when it was made over the weekend, announced it intended to give $50m in emergency aid.

The gesture, intended to make up for the resentment caused by an initial pledge which, along with the British offering of £100,000, was labelled as "peanuts" by Qazi Hussain, the leader of the Pakistani opposition party Jamat Islami, was greeted as a major boost to the struggling relief effort.

Britain, too, increased its initial pledge to £1m for the effort, which the Government stressed would again be increased in coming days.

"The magnitude of this disaster is utterly overwhelming," Ryan Crocker, the American ambassador, said from Pakistan as he received an American transport plane full of blankets, plastic sheets and jerry cans. "We have under way the beginning of a very major relief effort," he said.

But, in a clear echo of the international response to the Boxing Day tsunami in south-east Asia, the generous donations of private businesses and individuals have caused eyebrows to be raised over government pledges which, initially at least, were regarded as relatively low.

A donation of $500,000 made by Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong's richest business tycoon, is equal to half of the British Government's increased pledge, and five times the amount it originally wanted to give.

So far, international donors have announced tens of millions of dollars in aid. But, again echoing the tsunami relief effort, aid agencies were quick to draw attention to the shortfall which almost always occurs between pledges made by governments in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and the total money that eventually arrives.

As well as the American and British pledges, the European Union has deployed aid workers to stricken parts of Pakistan and allocated €3.6m (£2.47m) in initial aid. In the Arab world, Kuwait has donated $100m and Yemen has said it will send two aid planes. South Korea, for its part, announced it would provide $3m in aid, while a 46-member search and rescue team including 18 medical officers from Malaysia was due to leave yesterday for Pakistan. Malaysia has also pledged $1m in aid. Australia lifted its contribution from $380,000 to $4.2m, with the possibility of more if it was needed.

Pakistan said Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Spain had sent sniffer dogs to help with the rescue efforts, while specialist rescue teams were sent over the weekend by Britain, France, China and Turkey. Germany, Japan and the Netherlands have also sent help.

But it was Washington's pledge, increased tenfold from its original offering of $100,000, that went some way to placating those in Pakistan who had recognised the initial pledge as woefully inadequate.

(Sri Lanka, one of the most serious victim of the tsunami and still struggling to rebuild itself, has also pledged $100,000.) "The initial announcement was a joke," said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, a Pakistani political analyst at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, pointing to the politically sensitive nature of the US/Pakistani relationship. It is very unusual for American aircraft to fly in Pakistan, and Islamabad, faced with vehement opposition to the US-led "war on terror" has forbidden American forces to operate on its soil. "Every move of the United States is judged here on political grounds. It was a rare opportunity for the United States to show that it's a true friend of Pakistan," said Mr Rais.

It is not likely to have escaped Washington's notice that its response to this latest disaster could be key in improving perceptions of the United States in Pakistan, an Islamic nation where many harbour deep resentment over the United States' invasion of Afghanistan and the Iraq war. In the wake of the tsunami, the US military was given a warm reception in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Aid donors

Britain: £1m
United States: £50m plus helicopters
European Union: €3.6m plus aid workers on the ground
United Nations: $100,000
Kuwait: $100m
South Korea: $3m
Malaysia: $1m
Australia: $4.2m
Sri Lanka: $100,000

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Amazon rainforest suffers worst drought in decades
By Terry Wade
October 10, 2005

MANAQUIRI, Brazil - The worst drought in more than 40 years is damaging the world's biggest rainforest, plaguing the Amazon basin with wildfires, sickening river dwellers with tainted drinking water, and killing fish by the millions as streams dry up.

"What's awful for us is that all these fish have died and when the water returns there will be barely any more," Donisvaldo Mendonca da Silva, a 33-year-old fisherman, said.

Nearby, scores of piranhas shook in spasms in two inches of water -- what was left of the once flowing Parana de Manaquiri river, an Amazon tributary. Thousands of rotting fish lined the its dry banks.

The governor of Amazonas, a state the size of Alaska, has declared 16 municipalities in crisis as the two-month-long drought strands river dwellers who cannot find food or sell crops.

Some scientists blame higher ocean temperatures stemming from global warming, which have also been linked to a recent string of unusually deadly hurricanes in the United States and Central America.

Rising air in the north Atlantic, which fuels storms, may have caused air above the Amazon to descend and prevented cloud formations and rainfall, according to some scientists.

"If the warming of the north Atlantic is the smoking gun, it really shows how the world is changing," said Dan Nepstadt, an ecologist from the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Research Institute, funded by the U.S. government and private grants.

"The Amazon is a canary in a coal mine for the earth. As we enter a warming trend we are in uncertain territory," he said.

Deforestation may also have contributed to the drought because cutting down trees cuts moisture in the air, increasing sunlight penetration onto land.

Other scientists say severe droughts were normal and occurred in cycles before global warming started.


In the main river port of Manaus, dozens of boats lay stranded in the cracked dirt of the riverbank after the water level receded. Pontoons of floating docks sit exposed on dry land. People drive cars where only months ago they swam.

An hour from where it joins the Rio Negro to form the Amazon River, the Rio Solimoes is so low that kilometers (miles) of exposed riverbank have turned into dunes as winds whip up thick sandstorms. Vultures feed on carrion.

Another major Amazon tributary, Rio Madeira, is so dry that cargo ships carrying diesel from Manaus cannot reach the capital of Rondonia state without scraping the bottom. Instead, fuel used to run power plants has to be hauled in by truck thousands of kilometers (miles) from southern Brazil.

Dry winds and low rainfall have left the rainforest more susceptible to fires that farmers routinely start to clear their pastures.

In normal dry seasons, rains arrive often enough to put out blazes that escape from farms and spread to the forest. This year, the forest is catching fire and staying aflame.

In Acre state, some 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of forest have burned since the drought started and thick black smoke has on occasion shut down airports.

"It's illegal to burn but everyone around here does it. I do it to get rid of insects and cobras and to create fresh grass for my cows," a man who would only identify himself as Calixto said while using bundles of green leaves to smother flames and control fires near a highway.


The drought has also upset daily life in communities scattered throughout the basin's labyrinth of waterways.

"We closed 40 schools and canceled the school year because there's a lack of food, transport and potable water," said Gilberto Barbosa, secretary of public administration in Manaquiri. People whose wells have dried up risk drinking river water contaminated by sewage and dead animals.

Sinking water levels have severed connections in the lattice of creeks, lakes and rivers that make up the Amazons motorboat transportation network.

Many people in Manaquiri's 25 riverine communities are now forced to walk kilometers (miles) to buy rice or medicines.

Cases of diarrhea, one of the biggest killers in the developing world, are rising in the region. Many fear stagnant water will breed malaria. In response, the state government has flown five tons of basic medicines out to distant villages.

It will be two more months before the river fills again during the rainy season. Even then, residents fear polluted water will float to the top, causing sickness and economic plight.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Manuel Tavares Silva, 39, who farms melons and corn near Manaquiri, a town 149 km (93 miles) from Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state.

Comment: There's absolutely nothing wrong with the planet - no, really!

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Snowstorm Drops 20 Inches in Colorado
Associated Press Writer
October 10, 2005

DENVER - A powerful storm that dropped up to 20 inches of snow in parts of Colorado knocked out power Monday to thousands of people, closed an 80-mile stretch of a major highway and trigged rock slides in the foothills. [...]

Authorities closed the main east-west route across Colorado, Interstate 70, from Denver east to Limon. Seventy miles of U.S. 24 from Limon southwest to Colorado Springs were also closed. A day earlier, the Red Cross opened a shelter for stranded travelers.

The storm cut off power to 25,000 homes and businesses in Denver when power lines snapped and transformers failed, Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Henley said. [...]

Power had been restored by Monday to about 2,000 homes and businesses in Breckenridge.

Dozens of schools closed or were opening late, including three in the Denver area that closed because of power failures.

Two children were hospitalized with minor injuries after a school bus slid backward down a steep embankment south of Denver, Douglas County schools spokeswoman Carol Kaness said.

In southwestern Colorado, rain associated with the storm system was believed to have triggered two rock slides in San Miguel County, including one that shut down a lane of Colorado 145 near Telluride. No injuries were reported. Steady rain also caused two rock slides in Boulder Canyon northwest of Denver, forcing the closure of one lane of Colorado 119 and damaging a car. No one was hurt.

The National Weather Service had predicted up to 4 feet of snow in the southern Colorado mountains, but some of the snow melted and the precipitation turned to rain, leaving an accumulation of about a foot.

Snowfall amounts ranged from 20 inches in Breckenridge to 12 inches in Strasburg, about 20 miles east of Denver. [...]

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Yahoo puts news, blogs side by side
By Eric Auchard
Tue Oct 11, 1:24 AM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - Yahoo Inc. said on Monday it will begin featuring the work of self-published Web bloggers side by side with the work of professional journalists, leveling distinctions between the two.

Yahoo News, the world's most popular Internet media destination, is set to begin testing on Tuesday an expanded news search system that includes not only news stories and blogs but also user-contributed photos and related Web links.

The move will further stoke the debate between media traditionalists who want to maintain strict walls between news and commentary and those who argue such boundaries are elitist and undervalue the work of "citizen journalists."

Blogs, short for Web logs, are easy-to-publish Web sites where millions of individuals post commentary from political analysis to personal musings, creating a grassroots publishing medium that challenges the authority of established media.

Yahoo said its move to combine professionally edited news alongside the work of grassroots commentators promises to enrich the sources of information on breaking news events.

"Traditional media doesn't have the time and resources to cover all the stories," Joff Redfern, product director for Yahoo Search said. "It really does add substantially to what you are looking at when you are looking for news."

Yahoo has, in effect, created a three-tier system for finding news that starts with the links to top ten stories and related photographs produced by mainstream news organizations on the main Yahoo News site.

Readers searching for further details will be taken to a second-level news site, which splits the page between news from 6,500 professional sources and links to the hundreds of thousands of blogs available from its syndication service.

Thus the expanded search stops short of blurring all lines between edited news and self-publishing.

"We do try to demarcate what is mainstream media and what is user-generated content so that there is no confusion there," Redfern said.

Those choosing to dig still deeper can click on "More Blog results..." to be taken to purely user-generated news from blogs, photos and links. This allow the user to search 10 million blogs listed on Yahoo's blog tracking service. [...]

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And Finally...

Apply for CIA/Mossad False Flag Jobs Online!
Fri Oct 7,10:49 AM ET

DUBAI - Al Qaeda has put job advertisements on the Internet asking for supporters to help put together its Web statements and video montages, an Arabic newspaper reported.

The London-based Asharq al-Awsat said on its Web site this week that al Qaeda had "vacant positions" for video production and editing statements, footage and international media coverage about militants in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Chechnya and other conflict zones where militants are active.

The paper said the Global Islamic Media Front, an al Qaeda-linked Web-based organization, would "follow up with members interested in joining and contact them via email."

The paper did not say how applicants should contact the Global Islamic Media Front.

Al Qaeda supporters widely use the Internet to spread the group's statements through dozens of Islamist sites where anyone can post messages. Al Qaeda-linked groups also set up their own sites, which frequently have to move after being shut by Internet service providers.

The advertisements, however, could not be found on mainstream Islamist Web sites where al Qaeda and other affiliate groups post their statements.

Asharq al-Awsat said the advert did not specify salary amounts, but added: "Every Muslim knows his life is not his, since it belongs to this violated Islamic nation whose blood is being spilled. Nothing should take precedence over this."

The Front this week issued the second broadcast of a weekly Web news program called Voice of the Caliphate, which it says aims to combat anti-Qaeda "lies and propaganda" on major global and Arab television channels such as CNN and Al Jazeera.

Last month it issued an English-language video on the Internet called Jihad Hidden Camera which showed sniping and bombing attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, and carried comical sound effects as well as laugh tracks.

Al Qaeda and other groups have increasingly turned to the Internet to win young Muslims over to their war against Western-backed governments in Arab and Muslim countries.

Islamist insurgents fighting U.S. forces and the U.S.-backed government in Iraq have often posted slick montages of their military activities, including beheadings of hostages, on the Internet.

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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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