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"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." - Cindy Sheehan

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©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte


Wilma Strengthens to Category 5 Hurricane
Associated Press Writer
October 19, 2005

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras - Hurricane Wilma strengthened into a Category 5 monster early Wednesday packing 175 mph winds, and forecasters said a key reading of the storm's pressure showed it to be the most powerful of the year.

Wilma was dumping rain on Central America and Mexico, and forecasters warned of a "significant threat" to Florida by the weekend.

The storm's power multiplied greatly over the last day. It was only Tuesday morning that Wilma grew from a tropical storm into a weak hurricane with 80 mph winds.

Wilma's pressure readings Wednesday morning indicated that it was the strongest hurricane of the season, said Trisha Wallace, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Wilma had a reading of 892 millibars, the same reading as a devastating unnamed hurricane that hit the Florida Keys in 1935.

Comment: In another AP article, we read:

Its confirmed pressure readings Wednesday morning dropped to 882 millibars - the lowest ever measured in a hurricane in the Atlantic basin, according to the hurricane center. The strongest on record based on the lowest pressure reading is Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, which dipped to 888 millibars.

"We do not know how long it will maintain this Category 5 state," Wallace said.

Jamaica, Cuba, Nicaragua and Honduras were getting heavy rain from the storm, though it wasn't likely to make landfall in any of those countries, she said. Forecasts showed it would likely turn toward the narrow Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico's Cancun region - then move into the storm-weary Gulf.

By 2 a.m. EDT, the hurricane was centered about 170 miles southwest of Grand Cayman Island and about 400 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. It was moving toward the west-northwest at nearly 8 mph, according to the Hurricane Center.

"It does look like it poses a significant threat to Florida by the weekend. Of course, these are four- and five-day forecasts, so things can change," said Dan Brown, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.

Wilma already had been blamed for one death in Jamaica as a tropical depression Sunday. It has flooded several low-lying communities and triggered mudslides that blocked roads and damaged several homes, said Barbara Carby, head of Jamaica's emergency management office. She said that some 250 people were in shelters throughout the island.

While some Florida residents started preparing by buying water, canned food and other supplies, hurricane shutters hadn't gone up yet in Punta Gorda, on Florida's Gulf coast, and no long lines had formed for supplies or gas.

Still, Wilma's track could take it near that city and other Florida areas hit by Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 storm, in August 2004. The state has seen seven hurricanes hit or pass close by since then, causing more than $20 billion in estimated damage and killing nearly 150 people.

In Mexico, the MTV Latin America Video Music Awards ceremony, originally scheduled to be held Thursday at a seaside park south of Cancun, was moved up one day to avoid possible effects from Wilma.

The storm is the record-tying 12th hurricane of the season, the same number reached in 1969; 12 is the most in one season since record-keeping began in 1851.

On Monday, Wilma became the Atlantic hurricane season's 21st named storm, tying the record set in 1933 and exhausting the list of names for this year.

The deadly season has already witnessed the devastation of Katrina and Rita in the past two months, which killed more than 1,200 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Honduras and its neighbors already are recovering from flooding and mudslides caused earlier this month from storms related to Hurricane Stan. At least 796 people were killed, most of them in Guatemala, with many more still missing.

The government of flood-prone Honduras warned that Hurricane Wilma posed "an imminent threat to life and property of the people of the Atlantic coast." Neighboring Nicaragua also declared an alert.

Honduran President Ricardo Maduro declared "a maximum alert" along the northern coast and his office said emergency personnel and resources had been sent to the area, where evacuations were possible.

In Nicaragua, national disaster prevention chief Geronimo Giusto said the army, police and rescue workers were being mobilized and evacuation points readied.

Authorities in the Cayman Islands earlier called an alert.

Forecasters said Wilma should avoid the central U.S. Gulf coast that was devastated by Katrina and Rita. "There's no scenario now that takes it toward Louisiana or Mississippi, but that could change," said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center.

The six-month hurricane season ends Nov. 30. Wilma is the last on the list of storm names for 2005; there are 21 names on the yearly list because the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are skipped.

If any other storms form, letters from the Greek alphabet would be used, starting with Alpha, for the first time. Storms have gotten alphabetical names only in the past 60 years.

There have been 10 late-season hurricanes of Category 3 or higher since 1995.

Comment: The Sun-Sentinel included the following details:

Wilma, the season's record-tying 12th hurricane, intensified to a strong Category 5 storm Wednesday morning, and it was forecast to reach the Gulf of Mexico on Friday afternoon after marching northwest across the Caribbean.

The expansive system was projected to accelerate toward Florida's Gulf Coast and strike near Naples by Saturday evening, potentially as a Category 4 with 145 mph winds.

From there, Wilma might barrel just south of Lake Okeechobee and emerge in the Atlantic near Stuart, possibly retaining 115 mph strength, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami-Dade County.

"There isn't much between Cape Sable and Miami to slow it down," hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said. "Plus, you have Everglades water, which is very warm. We could easily be dealing with a Category 3 on this side of the state."

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Thousands evacuated as dam threatens to burst in Massachusetts
Oct 18, 2005

Police evacuated several thousand people from the Massachusetts city of Taunton as a dam threatened to burst and send a 10-foot (three-meter) surge through the downtown area.

Officials said heavy rainfall over the past week had placed enormous pressure on the wooden Whittendon Pond Dam which controls water flow along the Mill River that passes through Taunton.

If the dam was to fail, officials said a second dam further upstream would also likely collapse, emptying two lakes at the same time.

"If the dams go, they're expecting a 10-foot surge," said Taunton Police Department spokesman Eric Nichols.

"So anybody along that Mill River watershed area and anybody downtown has been evacuated," said Nichols, who put the number of displaced people at 5,000 people.

Taunton, which lies just south of Boston, has a population of close to 50,000 people.

All businesses, schools and government offices, including the court and city hall were closed.

In an effort to control the situation, engineers were carefully releasing water through both dams.

Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said it could be some time before the evacuees could return home.

"It could go on for days," Judge said of the efforts to relieve the pressure on the dam.

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Polar regions take center stage in climate crisis
By Jeremy Lovell
Wed Oct 19, 1:02 AM ET

LONDON - World scientists are aiming to spell out in graphic detail the threat of flooding faced by millions of people from America to Asia as global warming melts the polar ice caps.

A major coordinated study of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets intends not only to lay the bald facts before world leaders but offer courses of action.

"We want to be more prescriptive," said David Carlson, head of International Polar Year (IPY) starting in March 2007.

The two year study, announced on Wednesday by the International Council for Science (ICSU), will be the first coordinated probe in 50 years of the ice-bound ends of the earth under the onslaught of climate change.

ICSU is a non-governmental organization whose members include the national science academies of 103 countries.

"Part of the reason scientists stay in the comfort zone is that they can always say: 'well we don't know enough,"' Carlson told Reuters. "We are going to take away the uncertainty.

"If we come out of this and say 'we still don't know enough' then we will not have done our job," he added in an interview.

Scientists say the earth's temperature will rise by at least two degrees centigrade this century due to greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels for transport and electricity, putting millions at risk from extreme weather and rising oceans.

A new United Nations' report states that up to 50 million people could become environmental refugees from floods and famines due to climate change within five years. [...]

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Billions of dollars short, U.S. must scale back Iraq reconstruction
By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Tue Oct 18, 6:51 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration cannot fulfill all its grand promises to rebuild Iraq because soaring security costs, mismanagement and poor planning have cost billons of dollars, federal auditors said Tuesday.

Some projects - including those to provide clean water for Iraqis - have been cancelled as a result.

In one case, security costs for a U.S. Agency for International Development program on economic reform increased from $894,000 to $37 million, an auditor told Congress. And hundreds of millions of dollars is being diverted to pay for training for Iraqis and for the maintenance of new facilities - expenses overlooked in the initial U.S. planning for the reconstruction, auditors said.

Add to that the rising prices for materials, cost overruns and delays, and there's far less money to rebuild Iraq as the Bush administration envisioned, said Stuart Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. He called the shortfall "the reconstruction gap."

"Though the causes may be numerous and valid, the existence of the gap simply means that the completion of the U.S.-funded portion of Iraq's reconstruction will leave many planned projects on the drawing board," Bowen told the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations.

Bowen said he'd know how big the reconstruction gap is in two weeks.

A 2003 World Bank estimate said it would cost $56 billion to rebuild Iraq's aging and war-damaged infrastructure while the U.S. government committed to spend $29 billion, Bowen said. But he added that the estimate didn't take into account rising security costs or "losses from mismanagement, corruption and general inefficiency."

The Bush administration expected Iraqi oil revenues to help foot the bill. Instead, Iraq is spending $300 million a month to import refined gasoline because it doesn't have enough refineries, Bowen said. One potential pot of money - the $30 billion United Nations Iraqi oil-for-food program - is about $8 billion short because of thievery and poor recordkeeping, he said.

Fixing Iraq's oil infrastructure will cost $30 billion more than originally thought, said Joseph Christoff, the director of international affairs for the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Security costs continue to be a major problem.

In July 2005, 34 percent of reconstruction spending went to pay for security, up from 23 percent a year earlier, Christoff said. Two power generation programs - worth about $15 million - were cut, and sewer repairs in central Iraq were stopped for four months because of security cost overruns, according to the GAO.

The U.S. government has scaled back spending to provide clean water from $4 billion to $1.2 billion, Bowen said. Three of the four major clean-water projects were cancelled.

The Bush administration also didn't plan or budget money for maintenance or for training Iraqis on the new high-tech equipment the United States bought, Bowen and Christoff said.

In June, more than a quarter of the large new sanitation projects - worth $52 million - weren't working because of a lack of training and maintenance, Christoff said.

More than $350 million has been diverted from reconstruction to maintenance, and that's merely a start, Bowen said.

"What we hand over has to endure for democracy to endure," Bowen said.

In a related development, congressmen from both parties blasted the Department of Defense's acting inspector general, Thomas Gimble, because his agency quietly pulled all its auditors and criminal investigators out of Iraq a year ago, a fact Knight Ridder reported on Monday. Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Shays, R-Conn., called it "a bad decision."

"You're not fulfilling your responsibilities," Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, told Gimble. "You're not doing what you're supposed to be doing in protecting the troops. You're not doing what you ought to do to protect U.S. taxpayers." [...]

Comment: Given the number of no-bid reconstruction contracts given to US companies associated with the Bush administration, it looks like either the plan was never to actually succeed in rebuilding Iraq, or the Bush administration is pretty much incompetent. Either way, Iraqis and Americans alike lose.

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The Mindless American: A Tragedy In The Making
By Doug Soderstrom

As a result of nine-eleven's jarring impact upon our nation, journalists have discovered a near paranoid rise in retaliation against individuals attempting to expose governmental malfeasance. Increasingly government officials have begun punishing individuals for nothing more than reasoned attempts to inform the American public concerning: How the military has systematically abused (tortured) foreign detainees; How the government intentionally withheld evidence suggesting that an attack upon the United States by Al Qaeda had been eminent; How the military has begun to wage war upon soldiers who, in good conscience, have come to believe that it is wrong for them to kill in a war that, according to international law, is illegal, one that, the reasons for going to war, were fabricated by the President of the United States; How the United States has a sixty-year history (1945-2005) of assassinating foreign leaders who have chosen not to support the government's foreign policy goals, initiating the overthrow of duly-elected foreign democracies, while simultaneously supporting brutal authoritarian dictatorships all in order to fill the coffers of America's military-industrial complex, an egregious imperialistic force with but one goal: To take command of the world economy.

As a result, many of these individuals have been incarcerated, accused of being a traitor, of having sided with the enemy, told that their career will be destroyed, and threatened with extended imprisonment. Accordingly, on September 21, 2005, U.S. immigration officials banned Robert Fisk, an internationally renowned British journalist, on his way to deliver a speech in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from entering the United States of America due to incisive criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war. No doubt such a scenario has, and is, being repeated many times over in our country. A rather sad fact for a president who has chosen to make such a big deal about the oft-quoted ideals of "freedom and democracy!"

But even more shameful is the fact that there are people who seem not to care that such things are taking place in our country; a rather ignorant crowd of jingoes more comfortable choosing to sit back pretending that everything will be just fine, a people with apparently little regard for the facts. As a behavioral scientist, I am grieved at what appears to be a near pandemic of disinterest in what is happening to our country.

Given the election of George Walker Bush as our president, our country made it quite clear that it is pleased to have as its president a scoundrel, a true terrorist, one more than willing to bully the rest of the world, as opposed to having chosen a real man, one that humanity might embrace as a man of true character (someone like Jimmy Carter), an individual committed to doing what is best for the world (rather than what is most profitable for those running the petrol, armament, pharmaceutical, and construction industries), one with a desire to do what must be done in order to create a more humane world, one of peace, justice, and love. Although we claim to be a Christian nation, having chosen George Walker Bush to be the leader of our nation is a scandal beyond belief, one that mocks the very name of one whose life embodies that which we have been said to believe.

However, now that I am well into my seventh decade of life and very near retirement, I have come to the conclusion that the world basically sucks, that there are few who seem to have the investigative courage to take a good hard look at things that, if discovered, would no doubt destroy one's image of a land that can do no wrong, one that they believe has somehow received the eternal blessing of God. So I must ask: How is it that we have become such a mindless nation, a society populated by deadheads, folks who seem to have little desire to look beyond the thinly-veneered surface of life?

As a behavioral scientist, it appears that a vast share of folks in our nation have chosen to relinquish a quality no doubt essential to authentic human life..... an existential responsibility to think for themselves, an ontological need to discount the petty concerns that drive the minds of those directed by triviality. It seems that such individuals have become so fantastically preoccupied with, essentially enamored by, the norm of what others think, they have effectively relinquished, through a process of cognitive foreclosure, the capacity to think for themselves. Having become so extremely alienated from the core of their own being, they have little choice but to follow the crowd's madding need to forge a symbiotic attachment to, in essence relationship with, a society, that for all practical purposes has become the basis of their own identity, the bedrock of their very being. Having done so, the image they have forged for themselves (who they believe themselves to be) has become every bit as fabricated, every bit as disconnected from reality, as their image of society. So in wanting to have at their disposal a more a positive image of themselves, they have been left with little choice but to construct a glorified image of society; an image of what they wish society would have been rather than what it has, in fact, turned out to be. Something like having chosen to have built an ego-incased frame constructed upon the shifting sands of inane social rumor and outright public lies...... truly a flight of fancy bordering on the absurd!

Very few would disagree with the proposition that in Hitler's Germany there was a determined effort to brainwash the people so they might support Mein Fuhrer's efforts to conquer the world. However, what if one were to suggest that much the same is occurring in the United States of America, that there has been a determined effort through the socializing influence of our schools, the government, the mass media, the churches we attend, even that of our own parents, to pressure us into believing (just as Hitler) that our country has received the blessing of God, and because of this, we therefore have not only the right, but more importantly, through the use of military weapons, a divine responsibility to see that the world acquiesces to our needs and expectations. Just as Hitler in the 1930's prepared his countrymen to accept the authoritarian control of the Nazi government, much the same may well be occurring in the United States. Just as Hitler indoctrinated his people to believe that Germany had the right to conquer the world, George Walker Bush "in the name of freedom and democracy" may well be doing the same (preparing the American people to support his administration's imperialistic drive to dominate the world).

Behaviorally, it is clear that citizens, from cradle to grave, are primed to conform to the dictates of those in power, instructed never to question the validity of what those who would like to take control of our lives have to say. Most Americans have no idea; that what we are fed by the news media (televised and paper-print news) is nothing more than a portrayal of what powerful corporations (those who pay the salaries of those who run mass media) want us to believe, that what happens to pass as education is as often as not mere propaganda (e.g. that Americans are the good guys and their enemies are, without exception, always the bad guys), that what we learn in church may have very little or nothing to do with the truth, that what our parents teach us may be nothing more than an accumulation of their own personal biases...... no doubt a rather subtle modification of what they were taught by their parents. And through such a process, governments and nations around the world wield control as to what their citizens, believe, value, and do.

And, of course, in our own society, the primary way most of us are controlled, the way the vast majority of us are forced "to tow the line," is through the ominous threat of being fired. Something like this: If you are interested in keeping your career on track, that you would like to keep your job, then you ought to consider the following in order to assure your employer that you deserve the right to keep your job; get married and have a couple of kids, become a member of a social club (such as the Lions Club, the Kiwanis Club, or the Rotarians), be a good capitalist, be a patriotic citizen who loves his country, and make sure that you attend a local church so that everybody will know that you believe in God almighty. However, if, for whatever reason, you decide that you would like to become a rebel, that you would like to begin thinking for yourself, then you'd better brace yourself for trouble, because there is a reasonable likelihood that you will be fired! You see, in America, there is a rule of thumb concerning the working world which basically says that those who do what they are told to do are likely to keep their jobs, whereas those who tend to think for themselves, tend to buck the system, (tend not to do what they have been told to do) end up jobless, powerless, and left to fend for themselves on the mean streets of society.

But why? Why does such a thing occur? Why would America the beautiful, land of the free, do such a horrible thing to its own citizens? The answer is quite simple: Knowing that knowledge is power; the secret is control, controlling the out flow of information, making sure that citizens know no more than they "are supposed to know," making sure that they remain relatively uninformed, making sure that they are given "just enough" that they will go along with, peacefully accept, the premise that they are well informed, that they have a good idea of what is going on. It is necessary then that the government keep the people from learning the truth. Keep them from even wanting to know the truth. Put the fear of God into them to the extent that they will never question what they have been told to believe. You see, those in power may say that they want their citizens to be educated, to be well informed as to what is going on, however, such is simply not the case. Ask yourself this question: What happens to those of us (teachers, preachers, philosophers, writers, journalists) who do not "tow the line," those intent upon proposing alternate ways of looking at the world? Look at what happened to Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi, even Socrates. I mean, really now, who among us wants to be crucified, assassinated, forced to drink hemlock....... wants to risk the possibility of losing one's job, the ability to put food on the table for one's family? However, just in case you do not believe me, try this on for size...... the next time you go to work tell the boss that you are an infidel (that you have grown up and no longer believe in God), that you have decided to become a socialist (that capitalism essentially sucks), that you no longer give a shit about your country (that you have decided to become a rebel, an actively-participating antiwar protestor), and then see what happens. Do you get the point?

There are many (Robert Fisk, Cindy Sheehan, Sybil Edmunds, Bunnatine Greenhouse, Coleen Rowley, Captain Ian Fishback, Col. Anthony Shaffer, Kevin Benderman, Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Camilo Mejia, among others) who have illustrated the courage to risk their jobs, their careers, their reputations, their marriages, their wealth, imprisonment, and, in some cases, even that of their own sanity. But the sad fact is that for every hero out there, there are literally thousands of citizens (each who no doubt consider themselves to be conscientious, hard-working individuals who have a sincere belief in God and a loyal commitment to their country) who yet, for whatever reason, detest men and woman such as these who have shown the moral gumption to put their lives on the line for no other reason than to make a stand for that which is right, a willingness to tell anyone, everyone who is willing to listen, that it is a far better thing for one to have sacrificed his own life so that others might see, than to have chosen to remain silent ensuring the blind pretense that all is well, that there is nothing to worry about, that Big Brother will no doubt take good care of us as long as we simply keep our mouths shut and do exactly as we are told.

Postscript: The most dangerous thing one can do is to tell the truth...... the sentence for which, one way or the other, is always death!

Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D.

First posted at

Update - October 25, 2005 :

We received the following today from Doug Soderstrom, author of the above article:

"Recently, it was brought to my attention that Robert Fisk, the renown reporter of The Independent, was not banned from entering the United States. Such was no more than an unfortunate rumor multiplied many times over on the internet. If I had pursued the information a bit more diligently, I would have realized that Mr. Fisk had not been banned from entering the United States, but was, in fact, simply detained from entering the U.S., at that particular moment in time, due to the solitary fact that Mr. Fisk did not have a "biometric passport," which is now required of all citizens from nations like that of the UK on a visa waiver program. For that mistake I offer a sincere apology first of all to Mr. Fisk, for whom I have the greatest degree of respect as an investigative journalist, and secondly to those who so diligently took the time to read my article........ all in order that I as an undoubtedly fallible human being might continue to do my best to tell "the truth" the best that I can."

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White House Watch: Cheney resignation rumors fly
By Paul Bedard
US News and World Report
Posted 10/18/05

Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It's certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario," said a Bush insider. "And if that should happen," added the official, "there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated – another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP."

Said another Bush associate of the rumor, "Yes. This is not good." The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.

"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide. Many White House insiders, however, said the Post story and reports that the investigation was coming to a close had officials instead more focused on who would be dragged into the affair and if top aides would be indicted and forced to resign.

"Folks on the inside and near inside are holding their breath and wondering what's next," said a Bush adviser. But, he added, they aren't focused on the future of the vice president. "Not that, at least not seriously," he said.

Comment: On the other hand, Cheney continues to have health problems and would be a prime target for replacement by the first African-American female VP. In the grand scheme of things, Cheney appears to be a puppet just like Bush. We would also note that no one is really talking about Bush being targeted for indictment. Cheney could take the blame, take a nice job heading up the Halliburton/KBR "reconstruction" efforts, Bush walks away looking squeaky-clean, and the American people believe justice has been done.

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Casualties of the Bush administration
By Nick Turse
Asia Times
October 18, 2005

In late August 2005, after 20 years of service in the field of military procurement, Bunnatine ("Bunny") Greenhouse, the top official at the US Army Corps of Engineers in charge of awarding government contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, was demoted. For years, Greenhouse received stellar evaluations from superiors - until she raised objections about secret, no- bid contracts awarded to Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) - a subsidiary of Halliburton, the mega-corporation Vice President Dick Cheney once presided over. After telling Congress that one Halliburton deal was "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career", she was reassigned from "the elite senior executive service ... to a lesser job in the civil works division of the corps".

When Greenhouse was busted down, she became just another of the casualties of the Bush administration - not the countless (or rather uncounted) Iraqis, or the ever-growing list of American troops, killed, maimed, or mutilated in the administration's war of convenience - but the seemingly endless and ever-growing list of beleaguered administrators, managers, and career civil servants who quit their posts in protest or were defamed, threatened, fired, forced out, demoted, or driven to retire by Bush administration strong-arming. Often, this has been due to revulsion at the president's policies - from the invasion of Iraq and negotiations with North Korea to the flattening of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the slashing of environmental standards - which these women and men found to be beyond the pale.

Since almost the day he assumed power, George W Bush has left a trail of broken careers in his wake. Below is a list of but a handful of the most familiar names on the rolls of the fallen:

Richard Clarke: Perhaps the most well-known of the Bush administration's casualties, Clarke spent 30 years in the government, serving under every president from Ronald Reagan on. He was the second-ranking intelligence officer in the State Department under Reagan and then served in the administration of George H W Bush. Under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush, he held the position of the president's chief adviser on terrorism on the National Security Council - a cabinet-level post. Clarke became disillusioned with the "terrible job" of fighting terrorism exhibited by the second president Bush - namely, ignoring evidence of an impending al-Qaeda attack and putting pressure on to produce a non-existent link between al- Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. (His memo explaining that there was no connection, said Clarke, "got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. Do it again.'") After 9/11, Clarke asked for a transfer from his job to a National Security Council office concerned with cyber-terrorism. (The administration later claimed it was a demotion). Quit, January 2003.

Paul O'Neill: A top official at the Office of Management and Budget under presidents Nixon and Ford (and later chairman of aluminum giant Alcoa), O'Neill served nearly two years in George W Bush's cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury before being asked to resign after opposing the president's tax cuts. He, like Clarke, recalled Bush's Iraq fixation. "From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go," said O'Neill, a permanent member of the National Security Council. "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this.'" Fired, December 6, 2002.

Flynt Leverett, Ben Miller and Hillary Mann: Respectively, Senior Director for Middle East Affairs on President Bush's National Security Council (NSC); a CIA staffer and Iraq expert with the NSC; and a foreign service officer on detail to the NSC as the Director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs. They were all reportedly forced out by Elliott Abrams, Bush's NSC Advisor on Middle East Affairs, when they disagreed with policy toward Israel. Said Leverett, "There was a decision made ... basically to renege on the commitments we had made to various European and Arab partners of the United States. I personally disagreed with that decision." He also noted, "[Richard] Clarke's critique of administration decision-making and how it did not balance the imperative of finishing the job against al-Qaeda versus what they wanted to do in Iraq is absolutely on the money ... We took the people out [of Afghanistan in 2002 to begin preparing for the war in Iraq] who could have caught [al-Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri]." According to Josef Bodansky, the director of the Congressional Task Force on Terror and Unconventional Warfare, Abrams "led Miller to an open window and told him to jump." He also stated that Mann and Leverett had been told to leave. Resigned/fired, 2003.

Larry Lindsey: A "top economic adviser" to Bush who was ousted when he revealed to a newspaper that a war with Iraq could cost $200 billion. Fired, December 2002.

Ann Wright: A career diplomat in the Foreign Service and a colonel in the Army Reserves, she resigned on the day the US launched the Iraq War. In her letter of resignation, Wright told then-secretary of state Colin Powell: "I believe the administration's policies are making the world a more dangerous, not a safer, place. I feel obligated morally and professionally to set out my very deep and firm concerns on these policies and to resign from government service as I cannot defend or implement them." Resigned, March 19, 2003.

John Brady Kiesling: A career diplomat who served four presidents over a 20- year span, he tendered his letter of resignation from his post as political counselor in the US Embassy in Athens on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. He wrote:

... until this administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer. The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security.

Resigned, February 27, 2003.

John Brown: After nearly 25 years, this veteran of the Foreign Service, who served in London, Prague, Krakow, Kiev and Belgrade, resigned from his post. In his letter of resignation, he wrote: "I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq. The president has failed to: explain clearly why our brave men and women in uniform should be ready to sacrifice their lives in a war on Iraq at this time; to lay out the full ramifications of this war, including the extent of innocent civilian casualties; to specify the economic costs of the war for the ordinary Americans; to clarify how the war would help rid the world of terror; [and] to take international public opinion against the war into serious consideration." Resigned, March 10, 2003.

Rand Beers: When Beers, the National Security Council's senior director for combating terrorism, resigned he declined to comment, but one former intelligence official noted, "Hardly a surprise. We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel[ligence] resources and the relationships with our allies." Beers later admitted, "The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure ... As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out." Resigned, March 2003.

Anthony Zinni: A soldier and diplomat for 40 years, Zinni served from 1997 to 2000 as commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command in the Middle East. The retired Marine Corps general was then called back to service by the Bush administration to assume one of the highest diplomatic posts, special envoy to the Middle East (from November 2002 to March 2003), but his disagreement with Bush's plans to go to war and public comments that foretold of a prolonged and problematical aftermath to such a war led to his ouster. "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption," said Zinni. Failed to be reappointed, March 2003.

Eric Shinseki: After General Shinseki, the army's chief of staff, told Congress that the occupation of Iraq could require "several hundred thousand troops", he was derided by then deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz. Then, wrote the Houston Chronicle, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "took the unusual step of announcing that General Eric Shinseki would be leaving when his term as army chief of staff end[ed]." Retired, June 2003.

Karen Kwiatkowski: A lieutenant colonel in the air force who served in the Department of Defense's Near East and South Asia (NESA) Bureau in the year before the invasion of Iraq, she wrote in her letter of resignation:

...[W]hile working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asia and Special Plans (USDP/NESA and SP) in the Pentagon, I observed the environment in which decisions about post-war Iraq were made ... What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of "intelligence" found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Hussein occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Retired, July 2003.

Charles "Jack" Pritchard: A retired US Army colonel and a 28-year veteran of the military, the State Department, and the National Security Council, who served as the State Department's senior expert on North Korea and as the special envoy for negotiations with that country, resigned (according to the Los Angeles Times) because the "administration's refusal to engage directly with the country made it almost impossible to stop Pyongyang from going ahead with its plans to build, test and deploy nuclear weapons." Resigned, August 2003.

Major (then Captain) John Carr and Major Robert Preston: Air Force prosecutors, they quit their posts in 2004 rather than take part in trials under the military commission system Bush created in 2001, which they considered "rigged against alleged terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba". Requested and granted reassignment, 2004.

Captain Carrie Wolf: A US Air Force officer, she also asked to leave the Office of Military Commissions due to concerns that the Bush-created commissions for trying prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were unjust. Requested and granted reassignment, 2004.

Colonel Douglas Macgregor: He retired from the US Army and stated: "I love the army and I was sorry to leave it. But I saw no possibility of fundamentally positive reform and reorgani[z]ation of the force for the current strategic environment or the future ... It's a very sycophantic culture. The biggest problem we have inside the ... Department of Defense at the senior level, but also within the officer corps - is that there are no arguments. Arguments are [seen as] a sign of dissent. Dissent equates to disloyalty." Retired, June 2004.

Paul Redmond: After a long career at the CIA, Redmond became the Assistant Secretary for Information Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. When, according to Notra Trulock of Accuracy in Media, he reported, at a congressional hearing in June 2003, "that he didn't have enough analysts to do the job ... [and] his office still lacked the secure communications capability to receive classified reports from the intelligence community ... [t]hat kind of candor was not appreciated by his bosses and, consequently, he had to go." Resigned, June 2003.

John W Carlin: According to the Washington Post, Carlin, the "Archivist of the United States was pushed by the White House ... to submit his resignation without being given any reason, Senate Democrats disclosed ... at a hearing to consider President Bush's nomination of his successor." "I asked why, and there was no reason given," said Carlin, but the Post reported that some had "suggested Bush may have wanted a new archivist to help keep his or his father's sensitive presidential records under wraps". Although he had stated his wish to serve until the end of his 10-year term, and 65th birthday in 2005, Carlin surrendered to Bush administration pressure. Resigned, December 19, 2003.

Susan Wood and Frank Davidoff: Wood was the Food and Drug Administration's Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and Director of the Office of Women's Health; Davidoff was the editor emeritus of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine and an internal medicine specialist on the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee. Wood resigned in protest over the FDA's decision to delay yet again, due to pressure from the Bush administration, a final ruling on whether the "morning-after pill" should be made more easily accessible - despite a 23-4 vote, back in December 2003, by a panel of experts to recommend non-prescription sale of the contraceptive, called Plan B. In an email to colleagues, Wood, the top FDA official in charge of women's health issues, wrote, "I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled." Days later, Davidoff quit over the same issue and wrote in his resignation letter, "I can no longer associate myself with an organization that is capable of making such an important decision so flagrantly on the basis of political influence, rather than the scientific and clinical evidence." Wood: Resigned, August 31, 2005. Davidoff: Resigned, September, 2005.

Thomas E Novotny: A deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services and the chief official working on an international treaty to reduce cigarette smoking around the world, Novotny "stepped down," claimed Bush administration officials, "for personal reasons unrelated to the negotiations"; but the Washington Post reported that "three people who ha[d] spoken with Novotny ... said he had privately expressed frustration over the administration's decision to soften the US positions on key issues, including restrictions on secondhand smoke and the advertising and marketing of cigarettes." Resigned, August 1, 2001.

Joanne Wilson: The commissioner of the Department of Education's Rehabilitation Services Administration, she quit, according to the Washington Post, "in protest of what she said were the administration's largely unnoticed efforts to gut the office's funding and staffing" and attempts to dismantle programs "critical to helping the blind, deaf and otherwise disabled find jobs". On February 7, 2005 the Bush administration announced that it would close all RSA regional offices and cut personnel in half. Resigned, February 8, 2005.

James Zahn: According to an article by Robert F Kennedy, Jr in the Nation magazine, Zahn, a "nationally respected microbiologist with the Agriculture Department's research service," stated that "his supervisor at the USDA, under pressure from the hog industry, had ordered him not to publish his study" which "identified bacteria that can make people sick - and that are resistant to antibiotics - in the air surrounding industrial-style hog farms"; and that "he had been forced to cancel more than a dozen public appearances at local planning boards and county health commissions seeking information about health impacts of industry mega-farms". As a result, "Zahn resigned from the government in disgust." Resigned, May 2002.

Tony Oppegard and Jack Spadaro: Oppegard and Spadaro were members of a "team of federal geodesic engineers selected to investigate the collapse of barriers that held back a coal slurry pond in Kentucky containing toxic wastes from mountaintop strip-mining". According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this had been "the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of the Eastern United States". Oppegard, who headed the team, "was fired on the day Bush was inaugurated ... All eight members of the team except Spadaro signed off on a whitewashed investigation report. Spadaro, like the others, was harassed but flat-out refused to sign. In April of 2001 Spadaro resigned from the team and filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the Labor Department... he was placed on administrative leave - a prelude to getting fired." Two months before his 28th anniversary as a federal employee, and after years of harassment due to his stance, Spadaro resigned. "I'm just very tired of fighting," he said. "I've been fighting this administration since early 2001. I want a little peace for a while." Oppegard: Fired, January 20, 2001. Spadaro: Resigned, October 1, 2003.

Teresa Chambers: After speaking with reporters and congressional staffers about budget problems in her organization, the US Park Police Chief was placed on administrative leave. Then, according to CNN, just "two and half hours after her attorneys filed a demand for immediate reinstatement through the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent agency that ensures federal employees are protected from management abuses", Chambers was fired. "The American people should be afraid of this kind of silencing of professionals in any field," said Chambers. "We should be very concerned as American citizens that people who are experts in their field either can't speak up, or, as we're seeing now in the parks service, won't speak up." Fired, July 2004.

Martha Hahn: The state director for the Bureau of Land Management, "responsible for 12 million acres in Idaho, almost one-quarter of the state" for seven years, Hahn found her authority drastically curtailed after the Bush administration took office. She watched as the administration blocked public comment on mining initiatives and opened up previously protected areas to environmental degradation. After she locked horns with cattle interests over grazing rights, she received a letter stating she was being transferred from her beloved Rocky Mountain West to "a previously nonexistent job in New York City". "It's been a shock," she said. "I'm going through mental anguish right now. I felt like I was at the prime of my career." Hahn was told to accept the involuntary reassignment or resign. Resigned, March 6, 2002.

Andrew Eller: Eller "spent many of his 17 years with the US Fish and Wildlife Service protecting the [Florida] panther. But when his research didn't jibe with a huge airport project slated for the cat's habitat - and Eller refused to play along - he was given the boot," wrote the Tucson Weekly. "I was fired three days after President Bush was re-elected," said Eller. "It was obviously reprisal for holding different views than [US Fish and Wildlife Service] management on whether or not the panther was in jeopardy, and pointing out that they were using flawed science to support their view." Fired, November 2004.

Mike Dombeck: The chief of the Forest Service resigned after a 23-year government career. In his resignation letter, the pro-conservation Dombeck stated, "It was made clear in no uncertain terms that the [Bush] administration wants to take the Forest Service in another direction ..." Resigned, March 27, 2001.

James Furnish: A political conservative, evangelical Christian, and Republican who voted for George W Bush in 2000 as well as the former Deputy Chief of the US Forest Service (who spent 30 years, across 8 presidential administrations working for that agency), Furnish resigned in 2002 due to policy differences with the Bush administration. "I just viewed [the administration's] actions as being regressive," said Furnish. In acting according to his conscience, instead of waiting a year longer to maximize retirement benefits, Furnish lost out on about $10,000 a year for the rest of his life. Resigned, 2002.

Mike Parker: In early 2002, Parker, the director of the Army Corps of Engineers testified before Congress that Bush-mandated budget cuts would have a "negative impact" on the Corps. He also admitted to holding no "warm and fuzzy" feelings toward the Bush administration. "Soon after," reported the Christian Science Monitor, "he was given 30 minutes to resign or be fired." In the wake of the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Parker's clashes with Mitch Daniels, former director of the Office of Management and Budget, can be seen as prophetic. Parker remembered one such incident in which he brought Daniels, the Bush administration's budget guru, a piece of steel from a Mississippi canal lock that "was completely corroded and falling apart because of a lack of funding," and said, "Mitch, it doesn't matter if a terrorist blows the lock up or if it falls down because it disintegrates - either way it's the same effect, and if we let it fall down, we have only ourselves to blame." He recalled of the incident, "It made no impact on him whatsoever." Resigned, March 6, 2002.

Sylvia K Lowrance: A top Environmental Protection Agency official who served the agency for over 20 years, including as assistant administrator of its Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance for the first 18 months of the Bush administration, Lowrance retired, stating, "We will see more resignations in the future as the administration fails to enforce environmental laws." She said, "This Administration has pulled cases and put investigations on ice. They sent every signal they can to staff to back off." Retired, August 2002.

Bruce Boler: An EPA scientist who resigned from his post because, he said, "Wetlands are often referred to as nature's kidneys. Most self-respecting scientists will tell you that, and yet [private] developers and officials [at the Army Corps of Engineers] wanted me to support their position that wetlands are, literally, a pollution source." Resigned, October 23, 2003.

Eric Schaeffer: After 12 years of service, including the last five as Director of the Office of Regulatory Enforcement, at the Environmental Protection Agency, Schaeffer submitted a letter of resignation over the Bush administration's non-enforcement of the Clean Air Act. He later explained:

In a matter of weeks, the Bush administration was able to undo the environmental progress we had worked years to secure. Millions of tons of unnecessary pollution continue to pour from these power plants each year as a result. Adding insult to injury, the White House sought to slash the EPA's enforcement budget, making it harder for us to pursue cases we'd already launched against other polluters that had run afoul of the law, from auto manufacturers to refineries, large industrial hog feedlots, and paper companies. It became clear that Bush had little regard for the environment - and even less for enforcing the laws that protect it. So last spring, after 12 years at the agency, I resigned, stating my reasons in a very public letter to Administrator [Christine Todd] Whitman.

Resigned, February 27, 2002.

Bruce Buckheit: A 30-year veteran of government service, Buckheit retired in frustration over Bush administration efforts to weaken environmental regulations. When asked by NBC reporter Stone Phillips, "What's the biggest enforcement challenge right now when it comes to air pollution?," the former Senior Counsel with the Environmental Enforcement Section of the US Department of Justice, and then Director of EPA's Air Enforcement Division, was unequivocal: "The Bush Administration." He went on to note that "this administration has decided to put the economic interests of the coal fired power plants ahead of the public interests in reducing air pollution." Resigned, November 2003.

Rich Biondi: A 32-year EPA employee, Biondi retired from his post as Associate Director of the Air Enforcement Division of the Environmental Protection Agency. He stated, "We weren't given the latitude we had been, and the Bush administration was interfering more and more with the ability to get the job done. There were indications things were going to be reviewed a lot more carefully, and we needed a lot more justification to bring lawsuits." Retired, December 2004.

Martin E Sullivan, Richard S Lanier and Gary Vikan: Three members of the White House Cultural Property Advisory Committee, they all resigned from their posts to protest the looting of Baghdad's National Museum of Antiquities. In his letter of resignation, Sullivan, the Committee's chairman, wrote, "The tragedy was not prevented, due to our nation's inaction," while Lanier castigated "the administration's total lack of sensitivity and forethought regarding the Iraq invasion and the loss of cultural treasures". Resigned, April 14, 2003.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, eyes began to focus on FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the political appointees running it. What had happened to the professionals who once staffed FEMA? In 2004, Pleasant Mann, a 17-year FEMA veteran who heads the agency's government employee union told Indyweek:

Since last year, so many people have left who had developed most of our basic programs. A lot of the institutional knowledge is gone. Everyone who was able to retire has left, and then a lot of people have moved to other agencies.

Disillusionment with the current state of affairs at FEMA was cited as the major cause for the mass defections. In fact, a February 2004 survey by the American Federation of Government Employees found that 80% of a sample of remaining employees said FEMA had become "a poorer agency" since being shifted into the Bush-created Department of Homeland Security. What happened to FEMA has happened, in ways large and small, to many other federal agencies. In an article by Amanda Griscom in Grist magazine, Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, made reference to the "unusually high" rate of replacement of scientists in government agencies during the Bush administration. "If the scientist gives the inconvenient answer they commit career suicide," he said.

However defined, the casualties of the Bush administration are legion. The numbers of government careers wrecked, disrupted, adversely affected, or tossed into turmoil as a result of this administration's wars, budgets, policies, and programs is impossible to determine. Although every administration leaves bodies strewn in its wake, none in recent memory has come close to the Bush administration in producing so many public statements of resignation, dissatisfaction, or anger over treatment or policies. The aforementioned list of casualties includes among the best known of those who have resigned or left the administration under pressure (although not necessarily those who have suffered most from their acts). Perhaps no one knows exactly how many government workers, at all levels, have fallen in the face of the Bush administration. Those mentioned above are just a few of the highest profile members of this as yet uncounted legion, just a few of the names we know.

Nick Turse works in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University and as the Associate Editor and Research Director at He writes for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Village Voice, and regularly for Tomdispatch on the military-corporate complex, the homeland security state, and various other topics.

(Copyright 2005 Nick Turse)

Comment: There are some indications lately that the American people are awakening from their slumber - or at least their silence...

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Scott McClellan Says Helen Thomas Opposes 'War on Terrorism'
By E&P Staff
Published: October 13, 2005

NEW YORK - Questions today from longtime White House reporter Helen Thomas caused White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to declare that she opposes the war on terrorism. His response caused one of Thomas's colleagues, Terry Moran, to leap to her defense.

Here is the exchange from the official transcript:

THOMAS: What does the President mean by "total victory" -- that we will never leave Iraq until we have "total victory"? What does that mean?

McCLELLAN: Free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East, because a free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions --

THOMAS: If they ask us to leave, then we'll leave?

McCLELLAN: I'm trying to respond. A free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the broader Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions of al Qaeda and their terrorist associates. They want to establish or impose their rule over the broader Middle East -- we saw that in the Zawahiri letter that was released earlier this week by the intelligence community.

THOMAS: They also know we invaded Iraq.

McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, the President recognizes that we are engaged in a global war on terrorism. And when you're engaged in a war, it's not always pleasant, and it's certainly a last resort. But when you engage in a war, you take the fight to the enemy, you go on the offense. And that's exactly what we are doing. We are fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here. September 11th taught us --

THOMAS: It has nothing to do with -- Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

McCLELLAN: Well, you have a very different view of the war on terrorism, and I'm sure you're opposed to the broader war on terrorism. The President recognizes this requires a comprehensive strategy, and that this is a broad war, that it is not a law enforcement matter.


TERRY MORAN: On what basis do you say Helen is opposed to the broader war on terrorism?

McCLELLAN: Well, she certainly expressed her concerns about Afghanistan and Iraq and going into those two countries. I think I can go back and pull up her comments over the course of the past couple of years.

MORAN: And speak for her, which is odd.

McCLELLAN: No, I said she may be, because certainly if you look at her comments over the course of the past couple of years, she's expressed her concerns --

THOMAS: I'm opposed to preemptive war, unprovoked preemptive war.

McCLELLAN: -- she's expressed her concerns.

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Americans' anger at an all-time high

Americans have become increasingly frustrated with their President's Iraq policy.

According to most recent surveys, just 28 percent of Americans think the president is doing a good job, the lowest in a decade. But pollsters say that even without running a poll; just wandering down to the local coffee shops you will see the amount of anger and frustration as a result of Iraq war, the mounting casualties, skyrocketing energy prices and the government's policy.

"More and more Americans are angry," says retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2004. "They are angry about the president's incompetence and his general unwillingness to acknowledge with some humility that he has made some terrible and tragic mistakes regarding the mission in Iraq."

Last month, thousands of American anti-war protesters, carrying signs that read "Bush Lied, Thousands Died," and "End the Occupation," rallied in Washington and other U.S. cities demanding the return of U.S. troops and the end of Iraq war. It was the largest gathering since the war began in March 2003.

"We believe we are at a tipping point whereby the anti-war sentiment has now become the majority sentiment," said Brian Becker, national coordinator for ANSWER, a famous antiwar group.

It's not just the Democrats or liberals who're angry at Bush's policy, but also conservatives and Republicans show increasing dissatisfaction with Bush's policy.

Steven M. Warshawsky, a conservative commentator says that "Bush clearly has retreated from the promise he made to the country on September 20, 2001, the night he declared the War on Terror".

"The entire conceptual framework underlying the Bush Doctrine has been replaced, in just a few short years, with a Vietnam-era retread. RIP the Bush Doctrine."

"Our country today finds itself more bitterly divided than at any time since the Viet Nam War. From the party of the loyal opposition on down, we have been what I suspect is a silent majority of dissenters. But the time for silence is now over," says Jeff Birkenstein in Counterpunch. "The silence is ending and the people are beginning to make their voices heard."

Comment: There never was a "time for silence". The only reason people remained silent was because the Bush administration put the fear of god into them with the accounts of enemy combatants, extraordinary rendition, and torture.

We all see the wide gap between what Bush's administration states and battlefield realities. Contrary to the U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's prewar prediction that the fighting "could last six days, six weeks, I doubt six months," most of the U.S. military deaths took place since Bush declared "major combat" was over in May 1 2003.

There has long been frustration among the Americans, but what's new today is that frustrations about Bush's Iraq policy are being voiced by those who originally backed and encouraged the war.

An editorial at The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, says that "In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed its soldiers," "we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let him. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes."

"For us to be loyal Americans, we can't be random and hypocritical about it. For years, being American has supposedly meant being unified as one and supporting equality on all levels, from gender to class to race. The land of the free and the equal seems to be the land of the confused and the phony. Let's get it together."

The Americans need to step back and think, is their president taking their nation to prosperity or to hell? [...]

Comment: The only question that remains is what will happen to Bush and his advisors? Even if Bush is removed from power - which still seems unlikely at this point - who will replace him? No matter who is sitting in the big chair in the Oval Office, he or she is still just a puppet. The Powers that Be will not release their grip on the US so easily.

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The All-New Devil's Dictionary!

21st Century Definitions for the Neo-Age
by Douglas Herman
Exclusive to STR
October 17, 2005

This is a tribute to the Civil War officer, author and newsman, Ambrose Bierce, who originally compiled The Devil's Dictionary.

America. Noun. Former republic, reportedly founded 1776, but which foundered soon thereafter. An exemplary idea, a belief better realized in abstract than actuality.

Anti-Semitism. Noun. Mistrust of Jews by non-Jewish people. Not to be confused with Semitism, the outright hatred and hostility of Semitic Jews and Arabs for each other. See Zionism.

Bush. Noun. Prolific shrub, non-native plant beloved by many for purely decorative purposes. Invasive, fast growing and tends to take over a garden. Shade tolerant.

Christianity. Noun. 2,000 year-old religion originally based on gentle non-violence. Now a worldwide cult transformed by conquest, persecution, money-making and cronyism. See Zionism.

CSI. Acronym (Crime Scene Investigation) Also, refers to the detectives obsessed with digging up the details but oblivious to the crime. TV characters, "CSI," continually absorbed with digging up bones while the unburied carcass of their country decays under their noses. See NineOneOne.

Democratic Party. Archaic English. Defunct influence group. Now less powerful than PETA but featuring neutered males and spayed females nonetheless.

Elections. Controlled means of persuading the powerless to stand in line and prove their gullibility.

Evildoers. Anybody not with the US (and more than half of all Americans, according to recent polls). All foreigners, foreign-born, foreign-looking people, or the group Foreigner. All doers and thinkers of evil.

Government. Less than organized crime but on a larger scale. Uses strong arm methods where possible but prefers the lure of promotions, patriotism, bribes, medals, judgeships, cabinet positions and high senate offices, to secure unquestioning allegiance.

Government Appointment. A high bureaucratic post bestowed upon someone woefully unqualified by someone equally so. Lately, the higher the post, the least qualified the person.

Hollywood. Movie factory town. Manufactures blockbusters with predictable plots, cardboard characters, silly dialogue and explosive special effects. Prefers films that feature superheroes--mostly cartoon characters--foiling crimes and criminals that resemble nothing or no one who ever existed.

Homeland Security. Cardboard castle created to install false sense of security on citizenry with heads in the sand.

Hurricanes. Nature's acts of terrorism, mostly named for foreigners. Osama Bin Laden suspected mastermind.

Iraq. Mythical Garden of Eden and site of new Indiana Jones movie sequel entitled, Temple of Doom and Gloom.

Jihad. A foreign act of violent terrorism, religious inspired, wholly unrelated to pre-emptive strikes, unlawful occupation or nation-building.

Kean Commission. Belated glimpse into events loosely related to 9-11attack. Conducted by wealthy appointees overly concerned with arcane details, questioning key witnesses allowed to avoid pertinent testimony, finally buried under mountains of paperwork which resulted in a bestselling book.

Lottery. Legalized gambling by state government ostensibly for the benefit of public education, which magically never materializes. AKA "Lotto," a form of addictive, non-prescription medicine. See Money.

Money. Fictitious wealth created by fictitious states and often called currency. Money is neither liquid nor solid but a vapor, or gas, pumped into the pockets of the populace to induce them to sleep. A pleasant, narcotic feeling occurs, "to have money," and entire populations are thus controlled by colorful pieces of paper. An addictive substance - See Lottery - and side effects can be lethal: delusions of grandeur, ambition, murder, even treason.

MSM. Acronym (Mainstream Media). Happy lapdogs. Overfed pets who guard the nation. They sniff at felons, whimper at scoundrels, and wag their tails while the whole household is emptied. Satisfied at last, they lick their balls, confident the doorknobs are secure.

Nation-building. Conquest and occupation of one nation by another, for its own good.

NeoCons. Future convicts in a perfect world, role model in this one.

NineOneOne. (9-11) Formidable attack on US urban areas, never fully investigated (See CSI). Crime scenes hastily wrapped in flags, ribbons and black bunting and then hurriedly swept away when mainstream media (MSM) not looking. Forensics painstakingly examined the DNA at Fresh Kills but never examined the motives, means and opportunity of masterminds who benefited (See Government).

Osama Bin Laden. AKA Usama or OBL. Mastermind terrorist and World's-most-wanted-criminal. Tall, bearded, ascetic Muslim who once lived in a cave. Evidently possesses superpower, since able to thwart FBI, CIA, NORAD and Pentagon. Reportedly invisible.

Pre-emptive Strike. Noun and verb. Democracy-building through creative bombardment. Military incursion to stop proliferation of weapons through use of superior weapons. See War.

Rap. Rhyming ghetto jargon intended to shock the mainstream, mostly white, society. Set to loud, monotonous music difficult to dance to. Meant to establish a voice for poor or powerless minorities but wholly adopted by poor and powerless white kids, who play it loudly after conquering poor and powerless countries.

Shock & Awe. Creative military jargon for quick air strikes using fancy expensive weapons instead of boring diplomacy. Also expected reaction- - "shock & awe"--of next generation of Americans when bill for weaponry falls due.

Talk Radio. Blather for white people stuck in traffic who cannot rhyme or rap. Propaganda outlet for huddled masses who imagine they enjoy political power with the state but assuredly do not.

Televangelist. Animated actor in tailored suit with a gift of gab and a TV time slot. Capable of generating millions, allegedly for the Glory of God. Claims to knows Jesus personally; claims spiritual rebirth; claims to speak for God and vice versa (mostly the former). Allegedly Protestant (dating from the protests of Martin Luther), televangelists protest little nowadays. Should God and the state ever clash, actor always chooses the state - without protest.

See Christianity.

Television. Contrived, artless programming for morons, by morons and about morons. Created to sell consumer products to over-indulged morons, not least of all the sale of acceptable ideas, societal behavior and political candidates.

War. Profitable enterprise thought up by think tanks, lobbyists, talk radio hosts, bored heads of state and religious nuts (Or anyone not directly involved in the fighting), for use of tax money extorted from otherwise peaceful citizens. War is the disease of the state disguised as a healthy, lawful enterprise.

WASP. The insects at the top of the food chain. Omnivorous, they can eat anything and often do. What they do not eat, they own. Except Zions and Catholics.

Zionism. New age mystic cult, mostly Jewish but also Wasp. Core beliefs are money-making, cronyism, conquest, control of MSM and Madonna, and of course, debased spirituality. Motto is, "By way of deception thou shalt make war." See (modern) Christianity.

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US to crack down harder on illegal immigrants
October 19, 2005

WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush signed a new budget for the US Homeland Security department that sharply boosts funding to fight illegal immigration, as the department's head said they would now expel without exception all illegal immigrants.

The bill totaled 30.8 billion dollars in discretionary spending, 1.8 billion dollars higher than the current year's budget.

Of the total, 7.5 billion dollars is committed to fight the rising number of illegal immigrants in the country.

"We've got to strengthen security along our borders to stop people from entering illegally," Bush said.

"We're going to make this country safer for all our citizens," he said.

The government will also make stronger efforts to search out and deport illegal immigrants already in the country, Bush said. [...]

Bush's statement followed comments by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff earlier Tuesday that his department aims to expel all illegal immigrants without exception.

"Our goal at DHS (Homeland Security) is to completely eliminate the 'catch and release' enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions," Chertoff told a Senate hearing. [...]

The Homeland Security budget includes 2.3 billion dollars for the US Border Patrol, and millions of dollars for increasing and improving border fences and technological surveillance. The increased budget will enable the government hire 100 more immigration department agents and 250 investigators.

Prison space will be expanded by about 10 percent, or 2,000 beds, to accommodate the expected increase in apprehensions of illegal immigrants who are not Mexicans.

Chertoff told senators that currently a non-Mexican illegal immigrant caught trying to enter the United States across the southwest border has an 80 percent chance of being released immediately because of the shortage of holding facilities.

"We are moving to end this 'catch and release' style of border enforcement by reengineering our detention and removal process," Chertoff said.

Bush meanwhile explained a separate strategy for Mexicans, who comprise by far the largest number of illegal immigrants in the country.

Rather than just forcing captured immigrants back over the border, under a new program called "Interior Repatriation", the US will fly or bus Mexican illegal immigrants all the way back to their hometowns. [...]

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INTELLIGENCE REPORT: US "private military contractors" already in-country to "deal with" Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Frias...
Published: Saturday, October 15, 2005
Bylined to: Reporters

Intelligence agencies are revealing that US private military contractors, active in Colombia "under various contract umbrellas, including counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency" are building up to yet another attempted coup d'etat against Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.

Carefully described as "private military contractors" (a.k.a. hired mercenary killers), the PMCs are known already to have conducted several incursions across the Colombia-Venezuela border to link up with rebel units of the Venezuelan military operating along the border badlands between the two countries.

Senior officials at the US Pentagon have authorized the intruder operation as part of a plan to make it appear that Chavez is militarily assisting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

  • The US mercenaries have also established close links with right-wing Colombian paramilitaries (AUC) and their associated drug cartels to smuggle weapons into Venezuela.

Attached to the Pentagon's Joint Staff, a Colombian General is participating in a joint foreign military "interaction plan" sponsored by the US Defense Department in Washington D.C. to coordinate "force development" and "scenario simulation" invasive techniques at the behest of the US Joint Staff Command.

Intel sources also say that an Opus Dei (Roman Catholic) espionage and political assassination team operating in the United States is in the background of a case where a former Marine aide, Leandro Aragoncilla ... a US Vice Presidential staffer and FBI agent ... has been accused of espionage at the White House.

Aragoncilla was arrested recently on charges of illegally obtaining classified documents from US Vice President Dick Cheney's office and FBI computer which were passed to Philippine opposition figures linked to Opus Dei in the Philippines in preparation for a coup d'etat against that country's President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Opus Dei elements are known also to have played a major role in supporting the April 2002 coup d'etat against Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Frias which continues a wider espionage and political black bag operation with support and logistics approved by highest levels within the Pentagon and the FBI.

A classified intelligence report leaked to this e-publication shows that the espionage ring has operating out of US Vice President Dick Cheney's office with the implicit approval from within the Bush administration.

Intel sources are also revealing more paper trails linking George H. W. Bush to the now defunct Al Taqwa ("Fear of God") bank operated on behalf of Osama Bin Laden, his family, and some of his closest business associates. 

The network of Swiss-based terrorist financiers is also linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and prominent European fascist leaders. The Al Taqwa bank was headquartered in the Italian Swiss enclave Campione d'Italia and had offices in the Bahamas. It ceased operations after assets were blocked by a US Treasury Department order, its assets were frozen by the Swiss government, and its banking license was revoked by the Bahamas.

Al Taqwa subsequently changed its name to Nada Management Organization. Al Taqwa and a complex web of affiliate front companies and brass plates in Switzerland, the Bahamas, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Jersey, Isle of Man, Turkey, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, the United States (Delaware and Texas), Germany, Belgium, Albania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Austria, Bahrain, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Liechtenstein were reportedly involved in funding terrorist operations around the world, including the procurement of nuclear material from the former Soviet Union through Baltic intermediaries.

According to a EUROPOL diagram obtained by WMR, these companies included Iksir Holding, SA (Italy), Asat Trust (Liechtenstein), Iksir Ltd. (Bahamas), Gulf Center (Italy), NASCO (Turkey), Nasreddin International Group (Liechtenstein), Akida Bank (Bahamas), MIGA (Switzerland), and Nasreddin Foundation (Liechtenstein).According to intelligence sources in the United States and Europe, the Al Taqwa network intersected with tranches in Geneva and the Isle of Man that involve front companies associated with George H. W. Bush and Enron: Topaz Liberty, Bluelake World, and Potomac Capital.

Iranian fraudster and neocon Pentagon contact Manucher Ghorbanifar, Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi and members of the Bin Laden family are reportedly linked to Geneva-based Potomac Capital ... a front company created by George H. W. Bush when he was CIA Director in 1976.

  • Interestingly, it was George W. Bush, who, in November 2001, cited Al Taqwa as part of Al Qaeda's money-laundering activities.

However, Bush's neocon allies at The Washington Times and World Net Daily quickly altered course and drew attention away from Al Taqwa's Saudi and Kuwaiti investors and began to erroneously link Al Taqwa to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Further criminal investigations of Al Taqwa's principals were also quickly dropped.

Potomac Capital appeared on the radar screen of Federal investigators during the Iran-Contra investigation conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Al Taqwa connection to weapons of mass destruction proliferation, Bin Laden, and George H. W. Bush and his business associates stands as another reason the George W. Bush administration leaked the CIA's Brewster Jennings & Associates counter-WMD network. The CIA counter-proliferation team was getting uncomfortably close to tying members of the Bush family and their business associates to the same financial networks that fund Osama Bin Laden and his "Al Qaeda" network.

Intel sources have also traced a possible second connection between the Swiss network connected to George H. W. Bush and other 9/11 hijackers.

The first connection concerned hijacker Fayyaz Ahmed and a US$50,000 check he received from a tranche connected to the Swiss network. The second is the listing of Ahmed Mesfer Ahmed Alghamdi as a shareholder of Al Taqwa on a Central Bank of the Bahamas document dated April 15, 2000. Ahmed Alghamdi and Hamza Alghamdi were two of the Saudi hijackers on board United Flight 175, which struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Saeed Alghamdi was one of the hijackers on board United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after being shot down by US military fighter planes (according to an NSA employee who was on duty in the National Security Operations Center on the morning of 9/11).

According to the FBI, the Alghamdi hijackers used a number of aliases. Ahmed Alghamdi used the names Ahmed Saeed Saleh Alghamdi, Ahmed Mohammed Alghamdi, Saeed Alghamdi, Ahmed Saleh, and Juan Poncho Bennett. Hamza Alghamdi used Saleh Alghamdi Hamzah. Saeed Alghamdi used Mohsalih Alghamdi, Mokhlidmazid Almotairi, Saeedayed Alghamdi, and Saeed H. Alghamdi. Other Alghamdis wanted by the FBI for involvement with "Al Qaeda" include Nora Alghamdi, Ali A. Alghamdi, Abdulrahman Alghamdi, Othman Alghamdi, Sadda Alghamdi and Tareqsaeed Alghamdi. Now, more information has been gleaned from knowledgeable intelligence sources about the secret UNOCAL, Enron, and Taliban negotiations over the Central Asian Gas pipeline (CentGas). The source of the $10 billion was the Saudi Royal family and the recipient was Enron's LJM1 off-the-books partnership, also known as LJM Cayman, LP. LJM1 was primarily set up to finance the CentGas pipeline deal. Convicted Enron Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Andrew J. Fastow was the managing member of the LJM1 partners. In addition to Barclays, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was also allegedly used to transfer the $10 billion to the Enron account.

Two criminal investigations in New York are getting close to exposing a major Bush family and associates' international money-laundering operation that has spanned more than a generation and has been used to illegally fund US elections since the Nixon era.

According to CIA sources, most Bush family assets are tied up in off-shore accounts that are masked from investigators through the use of pass through companies and secretive interlocking board directorships.

The investigations of the secret Bush money tranches are coming to the fore as New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer focuses in on the scandal involving Maurice "Hank" Greenberg and the inflation of the worth of American Insurance Group (AIG) through shady affiliates, including AIG reinsurer Coral Re of Barbados.

Greenberg was the CEO of AIG but was forced to step down amid the Spitzer probe. AIG was founded from Asia Life/CV Starr, a Shanghai-based international import/export and insurance firm founded in 1919 by Cornelius V. Starr, an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operative in Southeast Asia during World War II.

AIG's largest shareholder is Starr International Company (SICO), an off-shore corporation incorporated in Panama with headquarters in Bermuda.

  • Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who prosecuted President Clinton, is the nephew of Cornelius Starr.

Greenberg inherited the CEO job and Chairmanship from Starr as well as the $3.5 billion Starr Foundation.

Another probe by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau is focused on long-time Bush backers Sam and Charles Wyly of Texas and a Bank of America off-shore account in the Isle of Man. According to intelligence sources, that probe is getting very close to an Isle of Man multi-billion dollar account controlled by the Bushes through an off-shore contrivance known as Five Star Trust.

Charles Wyly serves on the board of the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO). Critics have charged that hundreds of millions of dollars of UTIMCO's $11 billion in public funds have been steered to investment funds run by Bush family friends and supporters. A number of UTIMCO's past and current directors are members of George W. Bush's "$100,000 Club." These include, in addition to Wyly, former UTIMCO chairman Tom Hicks, a vice chairman of Clear Channel and head of Muse, Tate & Furst, Inc.; L. Lowry Mays, the chairman of Clear Channel; former Texas Representative and current lobbyist Tom Loeffler (who received illegal laundered campaign contributions from the failed Vernon Savings & Loan); A. W. Riter, a former chairman of NCNB Bank in Tyler, Texas; A. R. "Tony" Sanchez, Chairman of Sanchez-O'Brien Oil & Gas, owner of the Texas border-based International Bank of Commerce and the failed Tesoro Savings & Loan; and Woody Hunt, Chairman of Hunt Building Company. Some of UTIMCO's investments were directed to firms with close ties to Bush "Pioneer" contributors Lee Bass (Bass Brothers Enterprises), Henry Kravis (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts), and Charles Wyly (Maverick Capital Fund), as well as George W. and H.W. Bush (The Carlyle Partners II Fund, managed by The Carlyle Group).

Texas money laundering is the tip of an Bush family financial iceberg that extends below the surface to shady financial deals around the globe. However, investigators who dare venture into Texas will have their jobs cut out for them. The Bushes have been major recipients of campaign cash from senior partners the largest law firms in Texas -- Vinson & Elkins, Baker Botts (law firm of James Baker III), Andrews Kurth (the law firm of contentious US District Judge Priscilla Owen), Jenkins & Gilchrist, Haynes Boone and Bracewell & Patterson -- that have also been involved in defending those Texas companies and principals who have benefited from massive illegal financial flows.

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London Bombing ringleader, Haroon Rashid Aswat – double agent for MI6?
Published on 23 August 2005
Christopher BERRY-DEE

In a lengthy statement that will send shockwaves around the world, John Loftus, a terrorism expert and a former prosecutor for the US Justice Department, has publically revealed that the so called mastermind of the 7/7 London Bombings, Haroon Rashid Aswat, is a British ‘Intelligence Asset'.

A TNC US-based source has sent us extraordinary fully verifiable information, along with a filmed interview during which Loftus makes his accusations.

We are double-checking with our contact – a former long-time colleague of former FBI Counter Terrorism Special Agent and Al-Qaeda hunter, John O'Neill, who died in the 9/11 Twin Towers disaster.

Former Justice Dept. prosecutor and terror expert, John Loftus, revealed that the so-called Al-Muhajiroun group, based in London had formed during the Kosovo crisis, during which Fundamentalist Muslim Leaders (Or what is now referred to as Al Qaeda) were recruited by MI6 to fight in Kosovo.

Loftus stated that "...back in the late 1990s, the leaders all worked for British intelligence in Kosovo. Believe it or not, British intelligence actually hired some Al-Qaeda guys to help defend the Muslim rights in Albania and in Kosovo. That's when Al-Muhajiroun got started."

In a blistering attack on MI6 John Loftus went on to spell out that British Intelligence and the US Dept of Justice had protected Haroon Rashid Aswat:

"Back in 1999 he came to America. The Justice Department wanted to indict him in Seattle because him and his buddy were trying to set up a terrorist training school in Oregon... we've just learned that the headquarters of the US Justice Department ordered the Seattle prosecutors not to touch Aswat... apparently Aswat was working for British intelligence."

This story has been around for some weeks, the TNC reports, but it has always been ‘dressed up' as a slight ‘difference of opinion' between the FBI and MI6, with the Home Office claiming that they have been reluctant to hand Aswat over to the US authorities because he is a British national.

But, senior US intelligence officials are said to be fuming, claiming that everytime they got close to detaining Aswat, wherever he is in the world, he slips through the net.

Loftus claims in an unprecedented attack on MI6 that this is startling and again highlights how Al Qaeda exists as an organized body only where the intelligence services have created, funded and employed it. Loftus points out that several weeks before the London Bombings, Aswat was again located by the South African Intel agency but was again allowed to slip away, this time to London:

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

Loftus' information is also backed up by the New York Times and CNN who reported on this incident, however, the internet link to the London Independent's article has mysteriously disappeared.

If proven, the ramifications of John Loftus's claims – and he is supported by many FBI agents – could be that the London bombings could have been prevented if Haroon Aswat had been taken into custody long ago.

TNC's US source writes:

"It is now believed that British born Haroon Rashid Aswat was the brains behind the London attacks on July 7th in which 56 died and 700 were wounded. During the investigation of the London attacks the British police and American intelligence sources were able to determine that Aswat had received on his portable telephone a score of calls from the four suspects in the July 7th London attacks. The Times asserts that Aswat stated that he had been a bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden. This would have made him the 2nd highest- ranking Al Qaeda member in Britain. Haroon Rashid Aswat was an aide to the cleric, Abu Hamza Al-Masri. Abu Hamza was listed by USA intelligence sources as a suspected terrorist financier because of links to the Islamic Army of Aden, an Al Qaeda-associated group and the 2000 attack on the U.S. warship the USS Cole in Yemen. For 10 years Aswat had associated with militant Muslim groups and had been to Khalden, the Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Haroon Rashid Aswat is also known to have ties to South Africa and Johannesburg and suspected of involvement in planning the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

"Aswat had long been the object of US and British intelligence surveillance. Haroon Aswat had entered to Zambia on July 6, 2005. He was arrested on July 20, 2005 in Lusaka for "terrorist activities" and "infringements with the rules of immigration".

Loftus added:

"This is the guy [Aswat], and what's really embarrassing is that the entire British police are out chasing him, and one wing of the British government, MI6 or the British Secret Service, has been hiding him. And this has been a real source of contention between the CIA, the Justice Department, and Britain…he is a double agent.

The CIA and the Israelis all accused MI6 of letting all these terrorists live in London not because they're getting Al-Qaeda information, but for appeasement. It was one of those you leave us alone, we leave you alone kind of things."

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Israel redraws the roadmap, building quietly and quickly

Settler population grows as Sharon grabs more West Bank land than he
returned in Gaza
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
The Guardian
Tuesday October 18, 2005

At the northern edge of Jerusalem, on the main road to the Palestinian city of Ramallah, three towering concrete walls are converging around a rapidly built maze of cages, turnstiles and bomb-proof rooms.

When construction at Qalandiya is completed in the coming weeks, the remaining gaps in the 8m (26ft)-high walls will close and those still permitted to travel between the two cities will be channelled through a warren of identity and security checks reminiscent of an international frontier.

The Israeli military built the crossing without fanfare over recent months, along with other similar posts along the length of the vast new "security barrier" that is enveloping Jerusalem, while the world's attention was focussed on the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon's removal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip.

But these de facto border posts are just one element in a web of construction evidently intended to redraw Israel's borders deep inside the Palestinian territories and secure all of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and to do it fast so as to put the whole issue beyond negotiation. As foreign leaders, including Tony Blair, praised Mr Sharon for his "courage" in pulling out of Gaza last month, Israel was accelerating construction of the West Bank barrier, expropriating more land in the West Bank than it was surrendering in Gaza, and building thousands of new homes in Jewish settlements.

"It's a trade off: the Gaza Strip for the settlement blocks; the Gaza Strip for Palestinian land; the Gaza Strip for unilaterally imposing borders," said Dror Etkes, director of the Israeli organisation Settlement Watch. "They don't know how long they've got. That's why they're building like maniacs."

At the core of the strategy is the 420-mile West Bank barrier which many Israeli politicians regard as marking out a future border. Its route carves out large areas for expansion of the main Jewish settlements of Ariel, Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion, and expropriates swaths of Palestinian land by separating it from its owners.

In parallel, new building on Jewish settlements during the first quarter of this year rose by 83% on the same period in 2004. About 4,000 homes are under construction in Israel's West Bank colonies, with thousands more homes approved in the Ariel and Maale Adumim blocks that penetrate deep into the occupied territories. The total number of settlers has risen again this year with an estimated 14,000 moving to the West Bank, compared with 8,500 forced to leave Gaza.

Israel is also continuing to expand the amount of territory it intends to retain. In July alone, it seized more land in the West Bank than it surrendered in Gaza: it withdrew from about 19 square miles of territory while sealing off 23 sq miles of the West Bank around Maale Adumim.

Israel's strategy is to "strengthen the control over areas which will constitute an inseparable part of the state of Israel", the prime minister said after the Gaza pullout.

Last month, he told a meeting of his Likud party allies that it was important to expand the settlements without drawing the world's attention. "There's no need to talk. We need to build, and we're building without talking," he said. A few days later, one of the prime minister's senior advisors, Eyal Arad, publicly advocated "a strategy of unilaterally determining the permanent borders of the state of Israel".

The greatest impact of recent Israeli actions has been in and around Jerusalem, as Israel stepped up construction of the wall along the most controversial part of its route.

"What we are seeing is an acceleration of construction of the barrier," said David Shearer, head of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem.

"Because of the barrier, Jerusalem is being sealed off from the rest of the West Bank. Movement in Jerusalem will be with a magnetic card and a sophisticated system of gates. The access the Palestinians have enjoyed to their places of worship, to some of the best schools, to hospitals is now going to be severely restricted."

The concrete wall through Jerusalem carves out Arab enclaves in the city, restricts the growth of non-Jewish neighbourhoods and separates some 200,000 Palestinian residents from the occupied territories.

East Jerusalem will be further isolated from the rest of the West Bank by moves to link the city with Maale Adumim settlement using the barrier to mark out a boundary. The effect will be to entirely surround the Arab areas of Jerusalem with large Jewish neighbourhoods and to push Israel's frontier almost half way across the West Bank, virtually severing the north and south of the Palestinian territory at its narrowest point.

Organisations such as the International Crisis Group say it could have potentially explosive consequences. "Current policies in and around the city will vastly complicate, and perhaps doom, future attempts to resolve the conflict by both preventing the establishment of a viable Palestinian capital in Arab East Jerusalem and obstructing the territorial contiguity of a Palestinian state," it said in a recent report.

"The measures currently being implemented are at war with any viable two-state solution and will not bolster Israel's safety; in fact, they will undermine it, weakening Palestinian pragmatists, incorporating hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on the Israeli side of the fence, and sowing the seeds of growing radicalisation."

In recent years, both sides have generally accepted that a negotiated agreement would leave the main settlement blocks close to Jerusalem in Israeli hands. Last year, Mr Bush wrote to Mr Sharon assuring him that Israel would not be expected to return to the 1967 borders "in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres".

But Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer fighting legal cases over the barrier, said the government has worked to make those realities on the ground as extensive as possible while foreign governments shied away from criticism of Mr Sharon for fear of jeopardising the Gaza pullout.

"It's clear what's happening. It's clear the wall is used to designate the border that Sharon thinks he can get with the Americans," he said.

Mr Sharon appears to be counting on continued silence from America and European capitals because he faces a general election next year that Washington would like to see him win over his main challenger on the far right, Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinian leadership believes Mr Sharon has little incentive to negotiate because the Palestinians will not agree to surrender their claim to East Jerusalem or the large areas of land he wants to annex.

But Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli cabinet minister and a peace negotiator, said that a lack of pressure from Washington and other members of the Quartet overseeing the "roadmap" peace plan leaves Mr Sharon free to redraw Israel's borders.

"The commitment to the roadmap is a big joke. It's hot air all the time," Mr Beilin said.

"I'm very pessimistic. I see the big gap between the speeches - how high the roadmap is on the agenda and how foreign governments say they have to deal with it - and nothing is happening on the ground. Nothing. Sharon just does what he wants."

Comment: During last month's pullout in Gaza, many Palestinians and people all over the world hailed the move. Now we can see quite clearly that as usual, the entire operation was merely a distraction. "By way of deception, thou shalt do war"...

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P.A denies Israeli reports of Al Qaeda infiltration into Gaza Saed Bannoura
IMEMC & Agencies - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Palestinian Ministry of Interior and National Security, on Wednesday, denied reports published by the Israeli military intelligence claiming that ten members of Al Qaeda network infiltrated into the Gaza Strip through the Sinai desert.

Tawfik Abu Khousa, the ministry's spokesperson, said that the Israeli claims are part of its extensive media campaign against the Palestinian Authority ahead of Abbas' visit to the United States.

"Such statements are meant to fail the efforts Abbas is making to end the conflict", Abu Khousa said, "Israel aims to increase the international pressure on Abbas and the P.A".

Also, Abu Khousa stated that the P.A is conducting extensive efforts in order to maintain law and order, and control the security situation in spite that it lacks weapons and ammunition and other equipments.

Abu Khousa reported that the Palestinian security devices will conduct in the near future, a wide-scaled operation against outlaws, drug dealers, and all sorts of chaos and insecurity.

The P.A will also evacuate the lands which were illegally controlled by some groups and residents in the evacuated settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, is expected in Washington on Thursday. He is expected to demand the American President, George W. Bush, to pressure Israel in order to dismantle all illegal settlements outposts, and to help in ending settlement expansion in the West Bank.

A senior Israeli source reported that Abbas will be facing "tough questions" regarding the security situation, and ending the attacks carried by Palestinian factions against Israeli targets.

The source added that the visit will not have and "surprising results" which could weaken the Israeli position.

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Likely course of UK bird flu pandemic revealed
Press Association Wednesday
October 19, 2005
A bird flu pandemic is likely to last three to five months in the UK, but with the possibility of further waves, the government is to reveal today.

The government's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, is to issue new plans to tackle the expected pandemic this afternoon.

Guidance for GPs will also warn that the peak of an outbreak is likely to be higher and come earlier than during previous pandemics, it was reported on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

After the initial outbreak there will be a long and shallow "tail", according to the programme.

Vaccines will be given on the basis of medical need - except for medical staff, who will be vaccinated routinely.

Patients will - as far as possible - be kept out of doctors' waiting rooms, where they could infect others, the programme reported.

Experts, including Sir Liam, have said that it is inevitable that a flu pandemic will emerge and that it could kill more than 50,000 people in the UK alone.

It is widely accepted that the most likely route of a pandemic will be when avian flu in birds mutates so it easily spreads from person to person.

Concern has grown in the last week after cases of the potentially lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu were confirmed in Romania, Turkey and Russia - moving ever closer to the UK.

The government first published its UK Influenza Pandemic Contingency plan in March and announced the purchase of 14.6m courses of the Tamiflu antiviral drug.

Since 2003, around 120 people worldwide have been diagnosed with the H5N1 strain, leading to 60 deaths.

Bird flu has also been confirmed in Greece, but is not yet known if this is the H5N1 strain.

Yesterday the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said that Europe was responding "swiftly and efficiently" to the potentially lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu.

He was speaking after a meeting of EU foreign ministers was briefed by the EU health commissioner, Markos Kyprianou.

Mr Straw said: "We want to reassure people across Europe about this - we are working together as closely as we can."

Mr Kyprianou urged member states to step up efforts to meet World Health Organisation requirements for minimum stockpiles of seasonal virus vaccine - enough to treat at least 25% of the population.

"We are not at that level yet," said the commissioner.

A long-scheduled meeting of EU health ministers in Hertfordshire on Thursday and Friday will also discuss bird flu.

Mr Kyprianou said the talks would discuss a possible flu pandemic and assess current contacts with the pharmaceutical industry to step up production of drugs.

"Antivirals is the first line of defence, and vaccines is the second. We have to step up our manufacturing capacity," he said. "We have not reached levels of preparedness that we should have reached."

But he insisted the two issues of seasonal flu and the confirmed cases of the H5N1 strain were "completely different".

While those in high-risk groups are being urged to get their seasonal flu vaccine as usual, the jab would not be effective in a pandemic.

Every year in the UK seasonal flu kills between 12,000 and 18,000 people, mainly the sick and elderly.

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M6.2 earthquake jolts Tokyo 2005-10-19 21:34:12

TOKYO, Oct. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- A fairly strong earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale hit Tokyo and surrounding area Wednesday evening.

The quake, which occurred at around 8:44 p.m. (1144 GMT), was also measured a maximum intensity of lower 5 on the seven-level Japanese seismic scale, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

The quake's focus was about 40 kilometers below sea off Ibaraki prefecture north of Tokyo, the agency said.

The agency said there is no fear for a tsunami.

There has been no immediate report about casualty.

An experimental nuclear reactor run by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Ibaraki prefecture halted its operation automatically after the quake, according to Kyodo News.

Narita airport near Tokyo briefly shut its runways following the quake. The quake also suspended trains in some regions.

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Minor earthquake hits San Francisco region
Associated Press
The Geysers (US), October 19, 2005

A small earthquake has struck The Geysers, about 130 kilometres north of San Francisco.

The 4.0-magnitude quake was recorded at 5:05 pm local time about 8 km northwest of The Geysers in northern Sonoma County last evening, according to preliminary reports from the US Geological Survey.

There were no reports of injuries or damage, a sheriff's department staffer said.

The Geysers is located near a volcanic field where subterranean steam builds up and helps make the area seismically active, according to the USGS.

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Earthquake again jolts Pakistani cities Islamabad
Oct 19, IRNA

Aftershocks of moderate intensity early Wednesday shook many parts of northern Pakistan and Islamabad, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage to property, the metrological department said.

An officer in the metrological department in Peshawar, Mohammad Ishtiaq, said that a 5.8-magnitude quake was felt at 7:33 a.m., the strongest of hundreds of aftershocks since the October 8 earthquake.

The quake caused panic among the people, who rushed out of their homes and buildings.

A second aftershock, nearly as strong at 5.6 magnitude, followed at 8:16 a.m. The tremors were also felt in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The metrological department says that more aftershocks would be felt from time to time and asks the people to keep themselves away from buildings which have cracks.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Army, civilian and foreign teams are busy undertaking relief activities in the affected areas.

The Pakistan Army says efforts are under way to deliver relief goods to affected areas through animals or by foot where roads are still closed due to landslides.

The earthquake had a good impact on the bitter relations between Pakistan and India as President Pervez Musharraf made a surprise announcement yesterday to allow people from the Indian part of Kashmir to cross into the Pakistani side to help in relief activities.

India responded positively by welcoming President Musharraf's offer.

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Asian earthquake death toll to reach 80,000
(Filed: 19/10/2005)
The Telegraph

The death toll from the South Asian earthquake could rise to 80,000, according to new casualty figures released by regional officials in Pakistan.

Reports from Pakistani-held Kashmir and the country's North West Frontier Province suggest the real cost of the October 8 quake is significantly higher than the official death toll of 42,000, given by the Pakistani government.

Asif Iqbal Daudzai, information minister for the North West Frontier Province, said 37,958 people died in the province and 23,172 were injured after the 7.6 magnitude quake.

The figures were based on reports from local government and hospital officials in the area, he said.

Earlier this week, Sikander Hayat Khan, prime minister of Pakistan-held Kashmir, said that at least 40,000 people died in that region alone in the earthquake.

India has reported 1,360 deaths in the part of Kashmir that it controls.

The death toll is likely to rise further if life-saving medical supplies and cold-weather tents are not brought to the victims of the devastating quake.

Several million people have been made homeless by the natural disaster, and face a brutal Himalayan winter without adequate food and shelter.

Aid agencies say the public response to the disaster has not been enough to meet the needs of those in the affected areas.

Meanwhile, residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir made the first phone calls to the Pakistani side of the Himalayan territory in 15 years, trying to find out what's become of loved ones.

New Delhi cut communications between its Jammu-Kashmir state and all of Pakistan in 1990 in an effort to hinder an Islamic insurgency.

Pakistanis have been able to direct calls to Indian Kashmir.

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Guatemalan landslides unearth bones
Last Updated Tue, 18 Oct 2005 11:55:53 EDT
CBC News

Mudslides triggered by hurricane Stan have unearthed human bones in a Guatemalan village, raising speculation they could be part of a mass grave from the country's long civil war.

Carlos Ajcum says he noticed the bones after hurricane Stan swept away the earth from one corner of his home in the western highland village of Las Nubes.

Neighbours may have had family members who were kidnapped during the country's 36-year civil war, says Ajcum.

Guatemala's civil war erupted in 1960 following a military revolt against the autocratic government of Gen. Ydigoras Fuentes. He came into power after a CIA-backed dissident coup overthrew former president Jacobo Arbenz.

Marked by human rights atrocities, the conflict left more than 100,000 people dead and created one million refugees. It formally ended in 1996.

It hasn't been proven that the area is a mass grave from the civil war, but it was home to a military base during the 1980s. In the past, other mass graves have been found near other Guatemalan military bases.

Rudy Castillo, with the office of the country's Human Rights Prosecutor, is involved in the investigation. He confirms a human leg bone and shoulder bone blade were found under the house. He says there are more bones under the house.

With many people still unaccounted for, Castillo hopes an investigation will give people some answers. Castillo hopes the investigation will begin within two weeks in case future landslides destroy the evidence.

The early October landslides crashed over villages, leaving thousands of people dead or missing.

Comment: It's ironic that at the same time the pseudo-Saddam goes to trial for his crimes against humanity, old evidence of American crimes against humanity is unearthed in Guatemala.

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'Zombie worms' found off Sweden
Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 23:22 GMT 00:22 UK

A new species of marine worm that lives off whale bones on the sea floor has been described by scientists.

The creature was found on a minke carcass in relatively shallow water close to Tjarno Marine Laboratory on the Swedish coast.

Such "zombie worms", as they are often called, are known from the deep waters of the Pacific but their presence in the North Sea is a major surprise.

A UK-Swedish team reports the find in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Adrian Glover and Thomas Dahlgren tell the journal the new species has been named Osedax mucofloris, which literally means "bone-eating snot-flower".

"They look like flowers poking out of the whale bone. The analogy goes a bit further because they have a root system that goes into the bone," Dr Glover, a researcher at London's Natural History Museum, told the BBC News website.

"The part of the animal that is exposed to the seawater is covered in a ball of mucus, so they are quite snotty. That is probably a defence mechanism." [...]

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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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