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

P I C T U R E   O F  T H E  D A Y

©2005 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Iran 'has proof' of British role in bombings
Middle East Online

Iranian FM says information shows Britain is seeking to create insecurity in Islamic republic.

TEHRAN - Iran said Thursday it has proof that Britain was involved in a double bomb attack last week that killed six people and injured more than 100 in the restive southwestern city of Ahvaz.

"Information obtained by the concerned organs show that Britain is the main accused in the recent events," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told state television.

"The information shows that Britain is seeking to create insecurity in our country by interfering in our internal affairs," he added, warning that the consequences "could be worrying for the British."

The British embassy in Tehran immediately denied the allegations.

"We reiterate our total rejection of these accusations, as well as our condemnation of these terrorist attacks," a senior British diplomat said.

"We have made it clear to the Iranian authorities that the British government and British forces in Iraq stand ready to assist in preventing attacks of this kind."

On Saturday, a double bomb attack killed six people and injured more than 100 in Ahvaz, the capital of the oil-rich Khuzestan province, and on Tuesday police said they had defused a large bomb planted under a bridge in the city.

Several Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have already said that Britain was a suspect - but had generally stopped short of claiming they possessed evidence directly implicating Britain.

Ahvaz, dominated by ethnic minority Arabs, has been hit by a wave of unrest this year, including riots in April and a series of car bombings prior to Iran's presidential election in June.

The Iranian allegations come in the wake of similar allegations made by Britain concerning Iran's alleged interference in Iraq.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior officials have said there is evidence of an Iranian connection to a series of deadly attacks on British troops in southern Iraq. [...]

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Flashback: British Government's Agent Provocateurs Exposed


There is a saying of sorts that "if you are going to do something, do it well", and given the serious consequences, nowhere is that more true than when you plan to engage in criminal activity. Today in Basra, Southern Iraq, two members of the British SAS (Special Ops) were caught, 'in flagrante' as it were, dressed in full "Arab garb", driving a car full of explosives and shooting and killing two official Iraqi policemen.

This fact, finally reported by the mainstream press, goes to the very heart of and proves accurate much of what we have been saying on the Signs of the Times page for several years.

The following are facts, indisputable by all but the most self-deluded:

Number 1:

The US and British invasion of Iraq was NOT for the purpose of bringing "freedom and democracy" to the Iraqi people, but rather for the purpose of securing Iraq's oil resources for the US and British governments and expanding their control over the greater Middle East.

Number 2:

Both the Bush and Blair governments deliberately fabricated evidence (lied) about the threat the Saddam posed to the west and his links to the mythical 'al-Qaeda' in order to justify their invasion.

Number 3:

Dressed as Arabs, British (and CIA and Israeli) 'special forces' have been carrying out fake "insurgent" attacks, including 'car suicide bombings' against Iraqi policemen and Iraqi civilians (both Sunni and Shia) for the past two years. Evidence would suggest that these tactics are designed to provide continued justification for a US and British military presence in Iraq and to ultimately embroil the country in a civil war that will lead to the breakup of Iraq into more manageable statelets, much to the joy of the Israeli right and their long-held desire for the establishment of biblical 'greater Israel'

Coming not long after the botched London bombings carried out by British MI5 where an eyewitness reported that the floor of one of the trains had been blown inwards (how can a bomb in a backpack or on a "suicide bomber" INSIDE the train ever produce such an effect), more than anything else today's event in Basra highlights the desperation that is driving the policy-makers in the British government.

British intelligence would do well to think twice about carrying out any more 'false flag' operations until they can achieve the 'professionalism' of the Israeli Mossad - they always make it look convincing and rarely suffer the ignominy of being caught in the act and having the faces of their erstwhile "terrorists" plastered across the pages of the mainstream media.

The REAL face of "Islamic Terror" - Two SAS agents caught carrying out a false flag terror attack in Basra, Iraq September 20th 2005.

Official: British troops freed in jailbreak


BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A British armored vehicle escorted by a tank crashed into a detention center Monday in Basra and rescued two undercover troops held by police, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN.

British Defense Ministry Secretary John Reid confirmed two British military personnel were "released," but he gave no details on how they were freed.

In a statement released in London, Reid did not say why the two had been taken into custody. But the Iraqi official, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, said their arrests stemmed from an incident earlier in the day.

The official said two unknown gunmen in full Arabic dress began firing on civilians in central Basra, wounding several, including a traffic police officer. There were no fatalities, the official said.

The two gunmen fled the scene but were captured and taken in for questioning, admitting they were British marines carrying out a "special security task," the official said.

British troops launched the rescue about three hours after Iraqi authorities informed British commanders the men were being held at the police department's major crime unit, the official said.

Iraqi police said members of Iraq's Mehdi Army militia engaged the British forces around the facility, burning one personnel carrier and an armored vehicle.

Video showed dozens of Iraqis surrounding British armored vehicles and tossing gasoline bombs, rocks and other debris at them.

With one vehicle engulfed in flames, a soldier opened the hatch and bailed out as rocks were thrown at him. Another photograph showed a British soldier on fire on top of a tank.

"Many of those present were clearly prepared well in advance to cause trouble, and we believe that the majority of Iraq people would deplore this violence," Reid said. [...]

From the Washington Post

Iraqi security officials on Monday variously accused the two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or trying to plant explosives. Photographs of the two men in custody showed them in civilian clothes.

When British officials apparently sought to secure their release, riots erupted. Iraqi police cars circulated downtown, calling through loudspeakers for the public to help stop British forces from releasing the two. Heavy gunfire broke out and fighting raged for hours, as crowds swarmed British forces and set at least one armored vehicle on fire.

Witnesses said they saw Basra police exchanging fire with British forces. Sadr's Mahdi Army militia joined in the fighting late in the day, witnesses said. A British military spokesman, Darren Moss, denied that British troops were fighting Basra police.

From China View (originally pooled from the BBC)

Iraqi police detained two British soldiers in civilian clothes in the southern city Basra for firing on a police station on Monday, police said.

"Two persons wearing Arab uniforms opened fire at a police station in Basra. A police patrol followed the attackers and captured them to discover they were two British soldiers," an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua.

The two soldiers were using a civilian car packed with explosives, the source said. He added that the two were being interrogated in the police headquarters of Basra.

The British forces informed the Iraqi authorities that the two soldiers were performing an official duty, the source said. British military authorities said they could not confirm the incident but investigations were underway.

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Flashback: Who's Blowing Up Iraq? 

New evidence that bombs are being planted by British Commandos 

By Mike Whitney

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Flashback: How US fuelled myth of Zarqawi the mastermind

By Adrian Blomfield outside Fallujah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Murdoch sells lunch date on eBay
Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is selling himself as a lunch date for $25,000 on the internet site eBay to raise money for a Jerusalem technology college.

The chairman of News Corporation has posted an advert on the site setting a starting price of $25,000.

The winning bidder will be treated to lunch with four friends at the company's New York headquarters.

Mr Murdoch has long-established links with the Israeli hi-tech industry, the UK's Guardian newspaper reports.

News Corp's satellite TV anti-piracy division NDS has a large presence in the country, the newspaper says.

"The winning bidder and four friends will have the unique opportunity to dine with their host, Mr Murdoch and know that 100% of their winning bid will benefit the world class academic institution, the Jerusalem College of Technology," the eBay posting said.

The online auction begins on 3 November and will last for a week.

News Corp owns media companies around the world, including Fox news and the New York Post newspaper in the US, and the Sun and the Times newspapers in the UK.

Comment: Hmmm...

The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), whose main campus, Machon Lev, is situated on the slopes of a Jerusalem hillside, is one of only four academic colleges in Israel that accredit students in engineering fields. JCT is a pioneering concept: it embodies advanced education in the applied sciences together with Judaic studies, in meaningful harmony.

This dual programme of high technology with advanced Judaic studies is mandatory, with Bible studies occupying almost half of the daily study time of all students.

The college quickly earned a reputation as a leading academic institute and began participation in the Israel Defense Forces deferment programme (atuda) for gifted students. Today JCT leads all Israeli academic institutes in its percentage of atuda students. Many of these students later pursue careers as officers in specialized army units, in their area of expertise.

So why exactly is Rupert Murdoch taking such a personal interest in what is clearly a school that produces right wing fundamentalist Israeli engineers and army personnel? Might this be evidence of the truth of what Dr. Kevin MacDonald states in his "Culture of Critique"? That a seriously disproportionate percentage of the US media is biased in favor of Israel?

Would the "winners" of the $25,000 lunch with Murdoch be happy that "100% of their winning bid will benefit the world class academic institution, the Jerusalem College of Technology" if they knew that their money will directly further the bloodthirsty goals of genocidal madmen-in-the-making like Ariel Sharon? Goals which include the murder of American military personnel...

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History Proves That Israel Will Kill US Military Personnel

Many people on the internet are watching the killings of US military personnel in western Iraq's border region, and are taking note of how the killings only benefit the Israeli program to take the war into Syria. This article is a very good primer on how this is happening.

However, many naive and well-intentioned folks say that it is insane to believe that Israel would kill US military personnel.

After all, these folks believe the Zionist propaganda about how Israel is a best friend of the United States.

For these people, the best thing to do is to look back in time and study the historical record of Israel's attack on the USS Liberty, to realize that Israel has no qualms about killing US military personnel.

USS Liberty Massacre

On June 8, 1967, Israel attacked the USS Liberty in international waters. The Israelis killed 34 sailors and injured 172 more in a particularly heinous attack that involved intense aerial strafing, torpedo boats, and napalm from Israeli jets.

Miraculously, the Israelis did not sink the Liberty, and the Israeli treachery has been exposed.

Israel's objective with the Liberty attack, had it went off successfully for Tel Aviv, was to blame the attack on Egypt, so that the United States would jump into the Six Day War on the side of the Israelis.

For further study on how the killings of US troops in western Iraq point to an Israeli intelligence false-flag provocation program, designed to enrage the United States to attack Syria, one should study the articles linked below.

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US soldiers 'desecrated Taliban bodies'
James Sturcke and agencies Thursday October 20, 2005

Senior US military officials launched an investigation today into claims that US soldiers desecrated the bodies of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan as part of a propaganda campaign.

Australian investigative news programme Dateline broadcast a film which appeared to show US soldiers burning the bodies of two fighters and using their charred and smoking corpses as a taunt to nearby Islamic militants.

The programme, which aired last night, depicted what was described as a US psychological operations team broadcasting over a loudspeaker toward a village thought to be harbouring Taliban fighters and sympathisers.

According to a transcript of the program, the soldiers faced the bodies towards Mecca in a deliberately provocative move and set them on fire. One said: "Wow, look at the blood coming out of the mouth on that one, fucking straight death metal."

A message was then broadcast over a loudspeaker in the local dialect which, according to the freelance cameraman, Stephen Dupont, embedded with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, said: "Attention, Taliban, you are all cowardly dogs. You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be."

The cremation of bodies is not part of Islamic tradition, which calls for remains to be washed, prayed over, wrapped in white cloth and buried within 24 hours. Mr Dupont said the burnings happened on October 1 outside the southern village of Gonbaz, near the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

"This alleged action is repugnant to our common values," Major General Jason Kamiya said in a statement from the US base in Bagram, Afghanistan. "This command takes all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behaviour seriously and has directed an investigation into circumstances surrounding this allegation."

Afghanistan's government demanded that those responsible be punished and senior Islamic clerics warned that anti-US demonstrations were likely to break out.

"This is against Islam. Afghans will be shocked by this news. It is so humiliating," said Faiz Mohammed, a Muslim leader. "There are very, very dangerous consequences from this. People will be very angry."

The US military said its army criminal investigation division had opened an investigation into alleged misconduct that included "the burning of dead enemy combatant bodies under inappropriate circumstances".

General Mohammed Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan defence ministry, said those responsible must be punished.

The footage did not show the messages being broadcast, though it did show some military vehicles fitted with loudspeakers and playing loud music.

Mr Dupont said the soldiers who burned the bodies said they did so for hygiene reasons. However, Mr Dupont said the incendiary messages later broadcast by the US army psychological operations unit indicated they were aware that the cremation would be perceived as a desecration.

"They used that as a psychological warfare, I guess you'd call it. They used the fact that the Taliban were burned facing west [toward Mecca]," he told SBS. "They deliberately wanted to incite that much anger from the Taliban so the Taliban could attack them ... That's the only way they can find them."

The SBS report suggested the deliberate burning of bodies could violate the Geneva conventions governing the treatment of enemy remains in wartime. Under the conventions, soldiers must ensure that the "dead are honourably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged".

The rules also state that bodies should not be cremated "except for imperative reasons of hygiene or for motives based on the religion of the deceased".

Comment: Remember the outcry in April 2004 when four "U.S. security contractors" were killed, their bodies burned and hung from a bridge in Fallujah?

U.S. Army: 'We will respond' to contractor killings

Thursday, April 1, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Top U.S. officials in Baghdad Thursday decried the killings of four U.S. security contractors in Fallujah, vowed to hunt down the perpetrators and promised to pacify the restive anti-U.S. hotbed.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a U.S. Army spokesman, said "we will be back in Fallujah. It will be at the time and place of our choosing. We will hunt down the criminals."

"Quite simply, we will respond," Kimmitt said.

"We are not going to do a pell-mell rush into the city," Kimmitt said. "It's going to be deliberate. It will be precise and it will be overwhelming. We will not rush in to make things worse. We will plan our way through this and we will re-establish control of that city -- and we will pacify that city."

"I suspect that most Iraqi people were as horrified," Kimmitt said.

How many more atrocities have been carried out by the "liberating" US forces that the US military has quickly covered up, or the US media has chosen not to report on? When the four US contractors were killed, the US military retaliated by blanket bombing the city of Fallujah, where up to 150,000 people still lived. Thousands of innocent men, women and children were slaughtered as a reprisal for the killing of four US hired guns, whose job it was to arbitrarily "take out" Iraqi "insurgents".

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Spain issues warrant for U.S. soldiers
Last Updated Wed, 19 Oct 2005 15:53:45 EDT
CBC News

A judge in Spain has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers in the shelling of a hotel in Baghdad that killed a Spanish journalist.

High court Judge Santiago Pedraz issued the warrant on Wednesday for Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt.-Col. Philip de Camp, then of the U.S. 3rd Infantry.

Jose Couso, of the Spanish television network Telecinco, died on April 8, 2003, after a U.S. tank fired on the Hotel Palestine, where many foreign journalists were staying during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The shelling – which took place a day before the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime – also killed a Ukrainian cameraman working for Reuters and seriously injured three other journalists.

It was captured in TV footage and sparked worldwide controversy, as some critics – particularly in the Arab world – accused the United States of deliberately targeting journalists to try to intimidate them.

On the same day, U.S. bombs hit the Baghdad office of the Arab satellite news channel Al-Jazeera, killing a correspondent.

A U.S. investigation has cleared the men of any wrongdoing, saying that the soldiers believed they were returning fire in both incidents.

Journalists at the Palestine Hotel have said that no one was firing from the building and the TV footage didn't record any gunfire.

The judge said he issued the warrants because the United States refused to co-operate with the investigation, ignoring repeated requests to take statements from the suspects or let Spanish authorities interview them.

The arrest warrants will be submitted to the international policing organization Interpol.

Comment: The high number of journalists killed or abducted in Iraq suggests strongly that the US has had it in for reporters who took their jobs seriously and who wanted to tell the true story of "democracy" coming to that battle-ridden country.

Will the US soldiers ever come to trial and face justice? We doubt it, but at least the judges are taking the case seriously. If other countries were to start doing the same, including prosecuting US leaders under war crimes laws, they might be able to make it uncomfortable for these killers to travel.

And, they would be standing up for the truth.

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Guardian journalist abducted in Baghdad
Ewen MacAskill Thursday October 20, 2005 The Guardian

The Guardian's Iraq correspondent, Rory Carroll, was last night missing after being kidnapped by gunmen in Baghdad. Carroll, 33, an experienced foreign correspondent, had been conducting an interview in the city with a victim of Saddam Hussein's regime. He had been preparing an article for today's paper on the opening of the former dictator's trial yesterday.

Carroll, who was accompanied by two drivers and a translator, was confronted by the gunmen as he left the house where he had been carrying out the interview. He and one of the drivers were bundled into cars. The driver was released about 20 minutes later.

Carroll has been in Iraq since January. He volunteered for the assignment and his coverage has been critical of the US-led coalition. Before Iraq, he had been the paper's correspondent in Africa, based in Johannesburg, since 2002. In the previous three years he had been based in Rome, where he covered the aftermath of the Kosovo war.

He was born in Dublin, attended university there and worked for various Irish papers before moving to London. He has an Irish passport. The Irish government was last night in contact with its embassies throughout the Middle East to try to secure help in finding him.

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian's editor, said: "We're deeply concerned at Rory's disappearance. He is in Iraq as a professional journalist - and he's a very good, straight journalist whose only concern is to report fairly and truthfully about the country. We urge those holding him to release him swiftly - for the sake of his family and for the sake of anyone who believes the world needs to be kept fully informed about events in Iraq today."

Comment: If Rory Carroll is not released unharmed, then there can be only one conclusion - he has not been kidnapped by any legitimate Iraqi insurgency. As we have said on many occasions in the past, what sense does it make for Iraqi resistance fighters to murder western citizens who are sympathetic to their cause? It ONLY makes sense when we realise that such high profile kidnappings and murders serve the US, British and Israeli agenda of demonising the Iraqi resistance. The CIA, MI5 and the Israeli Mossad all employ foreign "mercenaries" who are paid large sums of money to carry out "to order" kidnappings and fake beheadings. As we said, if Rory Carroll is not returned safely, then the most obvious place to look for the culprits are among the aforementioned Western intelligence agencies and the people in their employ.

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'I am the president of Iraq. I do not recognise this court'
Jonathan Steele Thursday October 20, 2005 The Guardian

Arguments and scuffling as defiant Saddam appears on mass murder charge

Combative and truculent, Iraq's former dictator, Saddam Hussein, argued with the judge and scuffled with security guards yesterday, when he went on trial for mass murder in a Baghdad courtroom that was as much a theatre as a forum for justice. Beamed across the Middle East on television, the trial marked the first criminal proceedings against an Arab leader in modern times.

Echoing the defiance he showed when first charged last year, Saddam refused to give his name when asked to confirm his identity. "I am the president of Iraq," he said. "You know me," he told Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, a Kurd. When the session opened, he stood and asked Amin: "Who are you? I want to know who you are."

Denouncing the American invasion and making it clear he was appealing to a world audience, he said: "I do not respond to this so-called court, with all due respect to its people, and I retain my constitutional right as the president of Iraq." Brushing off the judge's attempts to interrupt him, he declared: "Neither do I recognise the body that has designated and authorised you, nor the aggression, because all that has been built on a false basis." Later he objected to being referred to as "former" president.

Five black-robed judges sat in the specially-built courtroom in the marble building that once served as the National Command Headquarters of the Ba'ath party in what is now the fortified Green Zone. Only the presiding judge's face was seen on TV. His name had come out in the media earlier.

The broadcast was subject to a deliberate 30-minute delay to allow for control over what went out and give the authorities the chance to censor Saddam's comments. After the three-hour hearing, the judge adjourned the trial until November 28, saying that around 30 or 40 witnesses had not come to Baghdad for the trial. "They were too scared to be public witnesses. We're going to work on this issue for the next sessions," he told Reuters. At the start of the hearing the judge called the accused - Saddam and his seven co-defendants - into the courtroom one by one. The ex-president was the last to enter, looking gaunt. He motioned to the escorts to slow down a little. After sitting, he greeted his co-defendants.

The judge read the defendants their rights before listing the charges, and told them that they face possible execution if convicted. The charges relate to the killings and executions of more than 140 Shia men from the village of Dujail, put to death after a failed assassination attempt on Saddam in 1982. The case was chosen on the grounds that it should be easier to prove he ordered it than better-known atrocities such as the gassing of thousands of Kurds in Halabja in 1988.

Comment: Fact number one: during his 30 year reign, the real Saddam Hussein employed several look-alikes that would take his place for certain public functions where a threat to his life was suspected or in the case that the real Saddam simply couldn't be bothered. For their efforts, these men were well rewarded - it was a job after all.

Fact number two: the US and Israeli government would NEVER allow the real Saddam Hussein to have his day in court, simply because he could present a case against Israel and the US that would be far more damning than any case they could bring against him. In fact, this is REAL reason that the charges brought against "Saddam" involve executions of Shia men from the village of Dujail and not the claim that Saddam gassed the Kurds. If the gassing charge were to be brought, a major part of the evidence presented would involve the fact that the US government at the time supplied the Iraqi military with the gas.

Fact number three: The real Saddam Hussein was a major international player with dozens of investments in Western companies that ran into the billions of dollars. As such he was a member of the global elite and entitled to the appropriate treatment. The idea that the real Saddam Hussein would or could have ended up hiding in a hole in the ground to be later "dug up" by US Marine grunts is laughable, particularly when we realise that such ignominious treatment was not even visited on Saddam's lower-level generals and Baath party members.

In short, the man who appeared today in the US-sponsored Kangaroo court is almost certainly NOT the real Saddam Hussein, but rather one of Saddam's several "body doubles" who is simply continuing to work at his long standing job of playing the part of Saddam Hussein, a role for which he continues to be handsomely paid, even if he has a new employer.

See our article "The Capture of Saddam Hussein - Another US Intelligence Farce" for more on this story.

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Rumsfeld Spars With Chinese Officers
Thursday October 20, 2005 11:46 AM
By ROBERT BURNS AP Military Writer

BEIJING (AP) - In a rare face-to-face encounter with an American defense secretary, a small group of Chinese officers held a spirited and sometimes pointed debate Thursday with Donald H. Rumsfeld over the two countries' clashing views about the size and meaning of China's military buildup.

Stressing a theme that he repeated throughout his three-day visit to Beijing, Rumsfeld told students and faculty at the Academy of Military Science that the United States and other countries are concerned not so much that China is expanding its military but that it has been vague about why.

``China of course is expanding its missile forces and enabling those forces to reach many areas of the world well beyond the Pacific region,'' Rumsfeld said in opening remarks before engaging in a give-and-take session with several officers, including the head of the military academy.

``Those advances in China's strategic strike capability raise questions, particularly when there's an imperfect understanding of such developments on the part of others,'' Rumsfeld added. A day earlier he visited the headquarters of China's strategic missile forces - the first by a foreigner.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said later, ``We have said on many occasions that China's move to step up its defense capability is quite legitimate and reasonable.''

Kong also said the two countries had ``agreed to step up military exchanges and relations, especially on military institution education and visits of warships.''

Later Thursday, Rumsfeld flew to Seoul, South Korea, where he was attending an annual meeting of U.S. and South Korean defense officials Friday to review their alliance and its recent turbulence.

The Pentagon has begun pulling thousands of U.S. troops out of South Korea, where it has maintained a contingent of about 37,000 troops for decades - a legacy of the Cold War amid concern that communist North Korea might attempt to reunite the two Koreas by launching an all-out attack.

Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, commander of U.S. forces in Korea, told reporters Thursday evening that by the end of this year 8,000 of the 12,500 troops designated for withdrawal will have left South Korea.

A brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, which is the main U.S. Army combat force in Korea, has already moved to Fort Carson, Colo., after serving a yearlong tour in Iraq. LaPorte said there is no current intention to reduce the American force beyond the 12,500 already designated to go.

In an interview with American reporters traveling with Rumsfeld, LaPorte said the South Korean government wants to review the command arrangement for the combined U.S.-South Korean military force that is under South Korean control during peacetime but would switch to U.S. control if war broke out.

``It is natural for a country, as it develops capabilities, to want to become more predominant in their own national security,'' LaPorte said. ``So this is a natural evolution. We have supported the Republic of Korea for 50 years. They have the 12th largest economy in the world. So it's natural for them to say, `Listen, we appreciate the support we received; we are now capable of doing more things and taking a more predominant role.'''

In Beijing, Rumsfeld made a point on several occasions of saying that China appears to be understating the size of its defense budget, and that this has created suspicions about its intentions.

During his give-and-take at the Academy of Military Science, a Chinese officer challenged him on this point, saying the defense budget had been rising in part to make up for insufficient defense investments in the past. The exchange was recounted for reporters later by Lawrence Di Rita, Rumsfeld's spokesman, who was present. Reporters were required to leave the room shortly after the question-and-answer session began.

The Chinese officer asked Rumsfeld why he was bothered by the budget increases, and Rumsfeld said he was not worried, although he went on to complain that China had been sending mixed signals about its interest in improving relations with the United States, according to Di Rita's account.

Rumsfeld accused China of teaming up with Russia to pressure Uzbekistan into telling U.S. forces to leave Uzbekistan last summer and of excluding the U.S. military from a search-and-rescue exercise in Hong Kong.

Another Chinese officer challenged Rumsfeld on the Uzbekistan matter, saying the Pentagon was at fault for being insufficiently open about what its forces were doing in Uzbekistan and how long they intended to stay, according to Di Rita. Rumsfeld denied that U.S. purposes there were unclear.

Comment: So, let's get this straight. The US currently has about 140,000 troops stationed in Iraq. They have 37,000 troops in South Korea, not too far from China. They are reducing that to just under 25,000 but have no intention of reducing them any further. The US is leading a force of 20,000 in Afghanistan, of which almost 90% are American soldiers. These troops are all within spitting distance of China, and we haven't counted the others in Asia, nor its nuclear port in Singapore, nor the base in Okinawa. The US has bases in over 130 countries around the world. There are only 191 countries in the UN! Here's a look at a study of US bases published in January 2004.

It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases -- surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries -- and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.

These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2003 Base Status Report fails to mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo -- even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by Kellogg, Brown & Root. The Report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, although the U.S. military has established colossal base structures throughout the so-called arc of instability in the two-and-a-half years since 9/11.

For Okinawa, the southernmost island of Japan, which has been an American military colony for the past 58 years, the report deceptively lists only one Marine base, Camp Butler, when in fact Okinawa "hosts" ten Marine Corps bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in the center of that modest-sized island's second largest city. (Manhattan's Central Park, by contrast, is only 843 acres.) The Pentagon similarly fails to note all of the $5-billion-worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years. [Chalmers Johnson, America's Empire of Bases.]

An article published by the San Francisco Chronicle, states:

According to the Pentagon's Manpower Report, before Sept. 11, 2001, there were 255,000 U.S. military personnel in 153 countries. According to, that number was closer to 350,000 as of early February. Johnson calculates that if civilians and dependents are added in, the number is 531,000.

And that was PRIOR to 9/11! Remember, there are only 191 countries in the UN. That means the US has a military presence in over 3/4 of the world's countries, and military bases in almost as many! These facts speak for themselves. What is the country with military all over the world? China or the US?

Furthermore, the US has a military budget that is larger than the next twelve countries combined.

And Rumsfeld has the gall to question China about ITS military expenditures! He has the nerve to say that it "raises questions"???

You can just imagine the little smirk on his face as he raises the issue, knowing it will upset his hosts and knowing as well the absurdity of his remarks. Is this a perfect example of psychopathy, or what?!?!

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Yushchenko says joining NATO is Ukraine's strategic goal
2005-10-20 13:00:04

KIEV, Oct. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said Wednesday that gaining full membership in NATO accords with his country's national interests and is an unswerving strategic goal.

During a meeting between top Ukrainian and NATO sec urity officials, Yushchenko said NATO membership would give his country substantial benefits, according to the Ukrainian National Information Agency.

Yushchenko said Ukraine hopes to fully join NATO and the European Union, which he claimed will guarantee Europe's safety and stability.

Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, has been seeking entry into the military alliance over the past years.

In 2002, the then President Leonid Kuchma first announced the country's wish to join NATO. Yushchenko reiterated the goal after taking office as president in early 2005.

NATO membership "is a powerful incentive for the transformation of society, aimed at deepening democracy, strengthening human rights and freedoms," Yushchenko said at Wednesday's meeting, which was also participated by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

The alliance has repeatedly said Ukraine must first reduce and modernize its bloated military, prove its democratic credentials and fight corruption.

De Hoop Scheffer said NATO is ready to assist Ukraine "wherever and whenever necessary" to implement the reforms."

"Reforms are essential, and they have to be done," he said, adding that NATO's door will always be open to Ukraine.

The NATO chief also said next year's parliamentary vote in Ukraine, if free and fair, "would be considered a milestone."

Some analysts predict that Ukraine could receive an invitation to join the alliance during NATO's 2008 summit.

Comment: And how would the US react if Russia put missiles back on Cuba?

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Virginia Company Admits Paying 'Oil-for-Food' Bribes (Update2)

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- A Virginia company admitted in state Supreme Court in New York that it paid $440,000 in kickbacks to Iraqi officials as part of the United Nations ``oil-for-food'' program.

Midway Trading, based in Reston, Virginia, pleaded guilty to grand larceny charges and agreed to pay a $250,000 fine, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said today.

``The oil-for-food program was set up as a way for the Iraqi people to receive humanitarian goods and not to line the pockets of the ruling party,'' Morgenthau said.

Created by the U.N. Security Council as an exemption to sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the program allowed Iraq's former dictator, Saddam Hussein, to sell $64 billion worth of oil from 1996 until the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Hussein skimmed more than $17 billion from the program through oil smuggling and graft involving humanitarian goods, U.S. congressional investigators said in November.

Morgenthau said Midway won the right in late 2000 to buy $42 million worth of oil from Iraq through Bulf Oil, a Romanian company, as part of the oil-for-food program. He said Midway funneled the bribes to Iraqi government officials through a Bulf employee.

Prosecutors did not identify the Bulf employee who sent the Midway bribes to Iraq or say which Iraqi officials received the money.

`Saddam's Family'

``It's a reasonable assumption that it went to members of Saddam's family,'' said Assistant District Attorney Dan Castleman, who heads the investigations unit.

Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who headed an inquiry into the oil-for-food program, told the U.N. Security Council in September that the international body ``has been weakened'' by mismanagement and corruption of the program.

Morgenthau said today that there was no evidence of corruption on the part of U.N. officials relating to the Midway transaction. Midway falsely represented to U.N. officials that no bribes had been paid, he said.

Comment: Remember last spring when the George Galloway came to Washington to testify in the so-called oil-for-feed scandal? It came out several days prior to his appearance that it was American companies who benefited the most from the programme; it wasn't Galloway, it wasn't the French, it was the Yanks.

The neocons have been using the so-called scandal as a means of attacking UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. And guess who has been a major player in these smear campaigns? Judith Miller, the intrepid "reporter" for the New York Times.

Small world, eh?

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Miller was WHIG operative--CONFIRMED!
Submitted by lambert on Wed, 2005-10-19 23:06.

Corrente was right on the money. Yesterday’s conspiracy theory is today’s news. Read on:

We wrote then:

7. I suggest that Times management—Keller, Sulzberger—was embedded in the disinformation campaign run by the White House Iraq Group, that Miller was their operative, and Libby was their handler. Of course, their White House handler wouldn’t have been crass enough to offer them money; the access to power, and the promise of scoops, would have been enough. The scoops were to come from Chalabi. (It doesn’t matter whether the White House still had faith in Chalabi; what matters is that the Times did).

The Daily News reports today (here via The Amazin’ Froomkin:

WASHINGTON - It was called the White House Iraq Group and its job was to make the case that Saddam Hussein had nuclear and biochemical weapons.

Besides Rove and Libby, the group included senior White House aides Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James Wilkinson, Nicholas Calio, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley. WHIG also was doing more than just public relations, said a second former intel officer.

“They were funneling information to [New York Times reporter] Judy Miller. Judy was a charter member”, the source said.

So, among the 50 stories that WHIG planted in the runup to the war, some were from Judy “Kneepads” Miller.

One dot connected.

Our remaining dots at the Times are Keller and Sulzberger. And doesn’t this story put all Judy’s claims that “I can do whatever I want,” and “running amok,” and being in the “driver’s seat” in a new light, doesn’t it?

Surely it’s obvious that when she says that, she’s protecting Keller and Sulzberger? As well as her ability to “eat lunch in this town” and travel to conferences and pontificate on freedom of the press?

The Plame story is a sideshow; it’s the tape on the Watergate doors.

The real story is the WHIG: A massive domestic covert operation, a disinformation campaign run directl from the White House, to “fix the facts and the intelligence around the policy” by planting stories in the press to lead the country into war.

Comment: So was the smear campaign against Kofi Annan plotted out by these same people? The appointment of UN-hater John Bolton as US ambassador is suggestive.

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By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Bill Bennett and Bob Bennett are brothers.

Bill Bennett is the social conservative pundit.

Bob Bennett is the white-collar criminal defense lawyer.

Bob Bennett is the lawyer for New York Times' reporter Judith Miller.

As you might recall -- and how could you forget? -- Bill Bennett took to the airwaves a couple of weeks ago espoused that "you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." He then quickly added, "That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

Of course, Bill Bennett was talking about street crime.

If he were to address the issue of white collar and corporate crime -- the kind that his brother Bob defends every day for a very nice living -- then he might have said something like -- "you could abort every white male destined to go to Harvard Business School, and your crime rate would go down."

Now that would be impolite.

But the reality is that crimes committed by the powerful -- both in government and in corporations -- inflicts far more damage on society than all crime committed by the powerless.

Let's take the crimes of Harvard Business School graduate George Bush.

The President's cronies are being investigated for leaking classified information to various reporters, including to Judith Miller.

(By the way, we agree with Patrick Buchanan who was on MSNBC's Hardball Show last night and observed that Bush and Cheney's real success in the whole Judith Miller/Valerie Plame episode was turning "the New York Times, the newspaper of record in this country, into a propaganda organ for the war party.")

Why not an investigation for war crimes?

In the words of former Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson -- whom newly confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts says he "admires" -- the supreme international crime is the war of aggression.

And guess who are the architects of the most recent war of aggression?

George Bush and Dick Cheney and their associates.

With an assist from Congress -- including Presidential hopefuls John Kerry and Hillary Clinton -- which for voted to authorize the war.

Do you see any of the architects of the illegal war in Iraq on trial for mass murder?

Why not?

If putting Saddam on trial for mass killing is a good thing, then putting the architects of the most recent war of aggression is a good thing too.

(And by mass killing we mean approaching 2,000 young Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis in an unjustifiable war of aggression.)

Comment: The 2000 figure is vastly below the true figure, as the US doesn't count those soldiers who are flown out of Iraq to die. The real figure is over 7000.

Despite the wave of crime by the powerful that has swept over the country in recent years -- and inflicted far more damage on society that all street crime combined -- when people with the institutional megaphones like Bill Bennett use the word "crime," they mean street crime.

(When Bob Bennett talks about crime, he invariably means white-collar and corporate crime -- but that's because his clients are paying him big bucks to clear their names.)

As a result, this bias has been hard wired into our brains.

Here's a quick test.

We will write down a word.

And you tell us the first image that comes to your mind.



Okay, and the first image to come to your mind?

Do you conjure up a black kid in New Orleans wading through the waters with DVDs stuffed in his pockets?

Why not Conrad Black, also known as Lord Black of Crossharbour?

Lord Black is under investigation along with his associates -- by the same Patrick Fitzgerald who is investigating the Bush leak affair -- of looting $400 million from Hollinger International, the esteemed publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post, among myriad other publications.

A special 513-report on the looting at Hollinger, issued by Richard Breeden, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, called Black's management team at Hollinger a corporate kleptocracy.

That would be a bureaucracy of kleptomaniacs. (Credit for the looter imagery goes to Joe Loughran, a Republican white-collar crime pundit we interviewed recently.)

So the image of a looter is that of the black kid with some DVDs stuffed into his coat pocket.

And not of Lord Black of Crossharbour?

And the image of the war criminal is that of Saddam Hussein.

And not George Bush?

And Bill Bennett says that if we aborted all of the black kids, the crime rate would go down?

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, <>. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor,, and on the steering committee of the Center for Corporate Policy. Mokhiber and Weissman are co-authors of On the Rampage: Corporate Predators and the Destruction of Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Comment: See, those blacks, it's crime against property, while that other stuff is just someone stealing money. And it isn't armed robbery like those folks that go into banks with guns and stuff. See, it is just a little playing with the figures here and there. What's violent about that?

Other than the ruined lives of the people whose life savings are stolen, like in Enron. But it isn't like that destruction of lives happens all at once as in a real tragedy like last year's tsunami or Hurricane Katrina. That's what makes it a tragedy; it's when it happens all at once. Those folks at Enron, that went on for months. If they had been careful, they should have known not to trust the psychopaths at Enron. They didn't know they were psychopaths? That's their fault, see, they weren't knowledgeable investors.

[Irony, here, readers...]

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Bush credibility haunts Rice testimony
By PAMELA HESS UPI Pentagon Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced a skeptical and at times combative Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday in her first hearing on Iraq before the panel since she assumed office.

Comment: Shock! horror! You mean the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was actually giving Condi somewhat of a hard time for the fact that she has consistently lied to the American people and the world about everything from what the Bush administration really knew about the 9/11 attacks to the real reason that the the US military is in Iraq today. Wonders will never cease. Word has it that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will soon be "gently ribbing" Ariel Sharon for ordering the slaughter of 3,000 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps in 1982.

Rice's problem is an ironic one: the reality in Iraq is finally catching up to Bush administration rhetoric, but the White House's ability to tell the story is hamstrung by its compromised credibility on the war.

Comment: Translation from journalistic mumbo jumbo to plain english: The American public is slowly becoming aware that everything they have been told about Iraq by the Bush government has been one blatant lie after another. As a result, the American public are disinclined to believe ANYTHING that comes out of a member of the Bush administration's mouth. Hence Condi's problem. No one believes her because everyone with two eyes can now see that she is a liar.

Senator after senator - Republican and Democrat - counseled Rice to speak plainly about Iraq to the public, more often, to shore up faltering support for the war. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicates 51 percent of the people don't think removing Saddam Hussein from power was worth the cost in U.S. lives and treasure; 58 percent want to reduce the number of American troops; and 56 percent are now less confident of a successful conclusion to that war. A recent Pew poll shows 41 percent of the people think the war in Iraq has increased the chance of a terrorist attack on the United States. Only 25 percent think it has diminished the chance.

Comment: Senator after senator, who all have already sold their souls to the Bush cabal, are franticly trying to get Condi to say something about Iraq that will not eventually be proven to be a lie. Unfortunately, Condi is stuck between Iraq and a hard place: if she tells the truth she, and the entire Bush cabinet, will be out of a job. If they continue to lie, reality will intrude and they will increasingly be shown up for the liars that they are. What to do? Oh, just fumble on with non-sentences and circular rhetoric and hope that a major earthquake soon hits the Western seaboard and distracts everyone from the lies of the Bush administration.

"The gap between the rhetoric of the administration and the reality the Americans see on the ground has created a credibility chasm," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. [...]

Comment: The sad fact is that most people, even reasonably well-educated people, read the above comment from Senator Biden and do not understand what he is saying. For the purposes of clarity we shall provide the following translation from political mumbo jumbo to plain English. What Senator Biden was REALLY saying was:

"Most Americans with two brain cells to rub together can now see that the Bush administration has been lying through its teeth for the past 4 years and simply do not believe them anymore." This whole "people seeing the lies" thing really is a problem isn't it.

Rice Wednesday tacitly acknowledged the fact that there have not been enough U.S. troops for the "holding" mission by heralding the achievements of Iraqi forces who now do that job. [...]

Comment: Rice also did not "let on" that the US now effectively owns Iraq and has systematically disenfranchised the Iraqi people.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., traced the public's "walk away from the administration" to what she considers repeated inaccuracies about issues surrounding the war - the claim that Iraq had chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; that the war would be completed in six months; that the U.S. military would be greeted as liberators; that the rebuilding would be an "affordable endeavor"; that the U.S. share of rebuilding would be limited to just a couple of billion dollars; and most recently that the insurgency is in its "last throes."

Comment: Ah yes, "repeated inaccuracies", not "blatant lies".

"The administration created false expectations not just for the American people, but also for the Iraqi people," Boxer said. "Madame Secretary, our country is sick at heart of the spin and the false expectations."

Boxer charged that Rice, last weekend, added a new layer of subterfuge to the debate over Iraq when she said on NBC's Meet the Press that the reason the United States invaded Iraq was because of the attack on September 11. Rice said rather than just going after the Afghanistan-based al Qaida, the Bush administration decided to go against the root cause of extremism, which meant building a democratic Middle East.

Comment: Indeed, more "subterfuge" or "blatant lies" as they are commonly known.

"Let me tell you, if the people of the United States of America knew at the time that our mission was to rebuild the entire Middle East, which you have several times called a malignancy ... if that was what the war was about -- the first war and even the second war -- they would have walked away from this administration long before they've walked away. And they are gone," Boxer said.

Comment: Indeed. So here's a crazy idea, lets get rid of the Bush administration, now that they have been outed as a bunch of lying psychopaths.

Rice clung to the administration's refusal to specify a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. By her reasoning, saying when U.S. troops would pull out would only encourage the insurgents to keep fighting until that date. To win they don't need to beat the United States, just outlast it.

Comment: Yes, what a terrible thing it would be if the Iraqi freedom fighters were to keep fighting until they had ousted the oppressive US military-industrial complex from their country.

However, senators from both sides of the aisle sought potential withdrawal dates that reflect projected success in establishing a functioning Iraqi government and security force. They argue that by refusing to discuss rough timetables, it leaves the impression the United States intends to remain in Iraq as a foothold in the Middle East - something that fuels the Iraqi insurgency and probably influences foreigners to join or support al Qaida as well.

"That's what undercuts our credibility," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-WI. "People naturally are a little bit suspicious of a country that invades another country... They wonder if we're not there for some other reason. And you've heard the reasons -- oil, or domination of the Middle East."

Rice rejected that rationale.

Comment: Of course she did! Rice, and her friends in the Bush administration, reject the truth at every opportunity!

"I simply don't agree our its our presence feeding the insurgency," she said, contradicting a statement to the contrary by the top U.S. general in Iraq last month. "We've been very clear that we don't want to stay. That's a different matter than giving a timetable for when we think we will leave."

"I have no doubt it's going to be on a reasonable time frame," she said [...]

Comment: Oh yes? Could this be yet another big fat whopper? We'll let Condi field that one...

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Rice: U.S. May Still Be in Iraq in 10 Years
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer Wed Oct 19, 2005

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declined on Wednesday to rule out American forces still being needed in Iraq a decade from now. Senators warned that the Bush administration must play it straight with the public or risk losing public support for the war.

Pushed by senators from both parties to define the limits of U.S. involvement in Iraq and the Middle East, Rice also declined to rule out the use of military force in Iran or Syria, although she said the administration prefers diplomacy.

"I don't think the president ever takes any of his options off the table concerning anything to do with military force," Rice said. [...]

"One thing the Vietnam generation learned is no foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. And we haven't gotten that informed consent in terms of them knowing what they're signing on to from here on out," Sen. Joseph P. Biden Jr., D-Del., told Rice. [...]

Comment: EXACTLY! This is why the Bush administration have been going to such lengths to ensure that the American people remain completely UNINFORMED about what is really going on. That way, they can sustain their aggressive and illegal foreign policy without fear of reprisal from the people that they are tasked with serving. Although we have it from a good source that Bush and Co have a rather different understanding of what "serving the American people" actually means.

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Bush Calls Recent Woes 'Background Noise'
Oct 20, 2005 By TERENCE HUNT AP White House Correspondent

President Bush vowed Thursday to avoid the "background noise" of investigations and political problems to focus on the nation's needs.

"The American people expect me to do my job, and I'm going to," he said.

With his political stock falling and several allies under investigation, Bush tried to keep focus on the nation's business at a Rose Garden news conference with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.[...]

Even with a foreign leader at his side, it was hard for Bush to ignore the contretemps of Washington. He was asked about his political problems in general, and one in particular: the troubled nomination of Harriet Miers to be a Supreme Court justice.[...]

A federal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity, putting the White House on edge as the fate of two senior advisers hang in the balance. Bush's long-serving political confidant, Karl Rove, and a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, are key figures in the inquiry.

Former House Leader Tom DeLay faces conspiracy and money-laundering charges in Texas. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's stock transactions are being scrutinized by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bush's political woes came into focus with a natural disaster: the sluggish response of state, local and federal governments to Hurricane Katrina dented his aura of sure-footed leadership. He has sought to recover politically by promising a massive relief effort on the Gulf Coast.

Asked how he is dealing with such a full plate, Bush said: "There is some background noise here, a lot of chatter, a lot of speculation and opining, but the American people expect me to do my job and I'm going to."

He also said, "part of my job is to work with others to fashion a world that will be peaceful for future generations. I've got a job to do to make sure the economy continues to grow. I've got a job to make sure there is a plausible reconstruction plan for cities affected by Katrina."

Polls show six in 10 Americans disapprove of Bush's job performance and even more believe the country is headed on the wrong course. Support for the president's handling of the Iraq was has also plummeted as the mood of the nation has soured.

Comment: Yes indeedy, it's business as usual in Bushland, where he is still the commander in chief, regardless of the fact that most of the world sees him and his administration as the most inept and corrupt ever. Btw, for those who have been yearning for a calling to account, here's something to tide you over..

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US to name new security coordinator to Palestine
2005-10-20 23:53:13

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush, ata joint press conference with visiting Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on Thursday, said that in the coming days he will name a newsecurity coordinator to replace outgoing General Kip Ward.

"In the coming days, I will be naming our new coordinator to build on the progress General Ward has made," Bush said.

"This person will take on an enhanced mission to help President Abbas and the Palestinian authority carry out their responsibilityto end terror attacks, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, maintain law and order and one day provide security for their own state," Bush added.

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Flood hits Vietnam's southern city
2005-10-20 22:08:25

HANOI, Oct. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- The floodwater caused by rainstorms hit Vietnam's southern Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, Vietnam News Agency reported Thursday.

Water tides in the Hau River, which hit a peak of 2.2 meters or 0.5 meters above the third and highest warning level on Wednesday, have broken four sections of dykes and submerged most of the transport system in the city. In Some areas water is 0.5 meters above the surface, said the report.

The flood has caused many traffic accidents and brought about health problems to hundreds of families.

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Bullets, Unemployment and Bankruptcy: James McMurtry Makes It in Dayton
October 20, 2005

The song met the town. Last Sunday night James McMurtry performed "We Can't Make It Here" (see 9/30/05 for all the lyrics) at the Canal Street Tavern in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton gets mentioned in the song as the hollowed-out shell of manufacturing that it is.

The crowd of 100 punctuated "We Can't Make It Here" with hoots, hollers, claps, "yeah's" and "right on's." The man was testifyin'. The song, which came midway through the show, received the longest ovation I've ever seen for a song that wasn't a regular-show closer or an encore.

Dayton's 5,700 Delphi automotive workers will lose their jobs unless they agree to have their wages slashed by 60-70%. Had a Delphi executive been in the bar that night he would have been ripped to pieces and thrown out on the street without a twinge of remorse. The crowd's joy of hearing the truth, mixed with anger at capitalist reality, was palpable all through "We Can't Make It Here." Think anybody's going to clap for the lies, irrelevancies and misdirections of CNN, Fox News or the New York Times?

Stephen King has called "We Can't Make It Here" the best protest song since Dylan's "Masters of War." I think of it as a companion piece to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message." A crack world book-ended with a crank world. Not much has changed -- don't push us because we are close to the edge and we can't make it here anymore. God, how I wish we'd get pushed over that edge.

The day before McMurtry played, the Dayton Daily News told us:

1) Ohio leads the nation in bankruptcy filings

2) Ohio leads the nation in mortgage failures and home foreclosures with Montgomery County (Dayton) tops in the state

3) the Dayton Metro area is second only to the Detroit Metro area for employment declines in the past year

Comment: And, to top it all, it was in Ohio where Bush and his bandits stole the election a year ago. Kinda like they were rubbing it in, isn't it?

One day the American working class is going to exercise, in Henry Miller's words, our "legitimate bloodlust." One day workers won't be freezing their asses off in a picket line outside of a factory; they' ll be occupying the factories and they'll have their spouses and lovers and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and children and guns and dogs with them. And they'll be daring the cops to take them on. And the cops will back down. And if it happens at just one plant it will spread like wildfire all over the country and the working class will announce that things are going to be different from this moment on. The world can't get well until the American working class gets well; the whole world waits for us to ignite a revolution and dispossess the capitalist class.

The day after McMurtry played, the DDN reported on the last minute record-setting crush of bankruptcy filings. Clerk of Courts Michael Webb for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court covering Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus said his staff was "excited about it. They think it's a part of history."

That's the only kind of history that capitalist America is capable of making. One day the 50 millionth American will have no health insurance. One day soon the 2,000th American soldier will be killed in Iraq. One day $1 trillion of our taxes will have been spent on the Iraq crime. And more and more of us "can't make it here anymore." Thanks, James McMurtry, for giving this country its true national anthem.

After reading the bankruptcy article I was out the door to my no-benefit driving job where the cost of fuel is killing us worse than the wage cuts we've also eaten in the past year and where most drivers can't afford health insurance and most have either been through bankruptcy or should go through it but are too proud to file but who all happen to be the hardest working, hustling people I've ever worked with in my life... It's time for me to drive up and down I-75 and move your shit, capitalist tapeworms. One day, we won't be moving; you will. You'll be shagging your asses to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, one step/jet ahead of a bullet, a blade or bare hands.

Randy Shields lives in Vandalia, Ohio. He can be reached at:

Comment: You can download McMurtry's song at Compadre Records.

As for the calls to revolt in this piece, while it expresses the palpable anger of many Americans, it isn't the way to go. How many times have people tried that path in the past? And what have we got. More of the same. It is time to get off the political highway, with all roads leading to more of the same, and work on ourselves as individuals. Change has to start at home, within ourselves.

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Chavez and Chirac affirm 'common vision'

PARIS, Oct 19 (AFP) - Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Jacques Chirac of France met in Paris on Wednesday and agreed to further develop their already close ties.

The meeting, which officials of both countries hailed, was expected to raise hackles in Washington, which is particularly at odds with the leader of oil-rich Venezuela.

During their hour-long meeting "the two presidents examined bilateral economic relations and in particular looked at issues concerning, oil, energy, infrastructure and tourism," Chirac's spokesman Jerome Bonnafont said.

"They decided to set up an organised mechanism for dialogue to further develop economic and industrial cooperation between the two countries," he added.

It was the third time the two had met this year.

French oil giant Total has a strong presence in Venezuela and could double its output from 200,000 to 400,000 barrels a day after several billion dollars were invested, Chavez said in Paris in March.

Venezuela currently produces 3.1 million barrels of oil a day. It is the world's fifth largest exporter and the only country in Latin America to be a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel.

Half of its production goes to the US, providing 15 percent of that country's consumption.

Relations between Caracas and Washington, however, are strained, not least by Chavez's close ties to Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Chavez, while standing accused of having a destabilising influence on his neighbours, has often accused the US government of plotting his overthrow. He recently called the US a "terrorist" state.

Although Franco-US relations have calmed somewhat since the row over the Iraq war, Paris and Washington still have their differences.

This week brought disagreement over World Trade Organisation negotiations on agriculture subsidies and over a proposed UNESCO convention on "protecting cultural diversity" that Washington opposes in the belief that France and other countries will use it to justify barriers to Hollywood film exports.

The Venezuelan leader came to France with a 40-strong delegation of industrialists and on Thursday a meeting with French business leaders is planned.

Trade between the two countries in the first half of this year stood at 235 million euros (280 million dollars) with the balance tilted in favour of Venezuela, thanks to its exports of oil and derivative products to France.

During the mini summit Chirac reiterated that France and the European Union supported regional integration in Latin America as a "boon for stability and economic and social progress," according to Bonnafont, who said the French president noted Venezuela's recent accession to MERCOSUR, the common market of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Earlier Wednesday, Chavez lunched with French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who spoke of the "common vision between the two countries."

Villepin added, in an impeccable Spanish he learnt growing up in Caracas, that "relations between France and Venezuela are very good and we are looking to develop our cooperation on all levels."

"I think the next few months and years are going to prove very important in the cooperation between our two countries," he added.

Chavez met Chirac in March in Paris, and then again in August on the French island of Martinique, where the two paid their respects to 152 French passengers who died aboard a chartered plane that crashed in Venezuela.

"This third meeting of the year shows the close, human and personal relationship that unites the two leaders," the Venezuelan ambassador to Paris, Roy Chaderton Matos, told AFP.

Comment: Raise hackles in Washington, indeed.

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Pakistan earthquake death toll rises to 79,000 Leader promises housing for homeless
By Matthew Pennington, Associated Press | October 20, 2005

BALAKOT, Pakistan -- Pakistan's death toll soared to 79,000 yesterday from South Asia's earthquake after a survey of one of the two hardest-hit Pakistani regions -- making it one of the deadliest quakes in modern times.

More aftershocks rattled the region, sending up huge clouds of dust from steep-sided mountain valleys where villages lie in pieces. During a helicopter tour of the ruins, the president, General Pervez Musharraf, promised new, quake-ready houses for the homeless.

In remote mountains, a steady flow of injured villagers continued to seek medical attention. Many had infected wounds, untreated since the Oct. 8 temblor, and had to rely on relatives to carry them for hours on foot to makeshift clinics.

Sixty helicopters were dropping relief supplies, and mule trains were pushing into areas where no helicopters can land.

''Many people out there, we are not going to get to in time," said Rob Holden, the UN disaster coordinator in Pakistan's part of Kashmir. ''Some people who have injuries don't have a chance of survival."

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Strong Earthquake Hits Northeastern Japan
Wednesday October 19, 2005 5:31 PM
The Guardian

TOKYO (AP) - A strong earthquake rocked northeastern Japan late Wednesday, shaking buildings in Tokyo and nearby areas and briefly shutting down train lines. Two people were reportedly injured.

The earthquake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5, was centered 30 miles below the sea off the coast of Ibaraki prefecture, about 70 miles northeast of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There was no danger of a tsunami, officials said.

The quake shook 20 of the country's 47 prefectures, said Takeshi Hachimine, a spokesman for Japan's Meteorogical Agency. He said the region should brace for aftershocks measuring at least magnitude 5.0 over the next few days.

A woman in Ibaraki cut her nose after falling out of her bed, while another slightly injured her hip near Tokyo, according to the Kyodo News agency. Police spokesman Meihan Toyoshima said no serious injuries had been reported.

A nuclear power plant in Tokaimura near the quake zone shut down automatically, but there appeared to be no damage, Toyoshima said. Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Kiyoto Ishikawa said electricity to about 600 homes in Ibaraki was cut off following the quake, but restored in less than a minute.

Officials at Tokyo's Narita international airport said its runways were shut down after the quake but reopened in about 10 minutes.

High-speed train services north of Tokyo were suspended but quickly resumed, according to the company's information hot line.

It was the second jolt in the area in recent days. A 5.1 quake outside Tokyo on Sunday shook the capital region and injured two people.

Japan, one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, sits atop four tectonic plates. The last major earthquake to hit Tokyo killed some 142,000 people in 1923.

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4.1 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes San Diego Coast

Quake An Aftershock Of Sunday's Earthquake

POSTED: 8:04 am PDT October 19, 2005 UPDATED: 8:33 am PDT October 19, 2005

SAN DIEGO -- A light earthquake struck Wednesday in the ocean 19 miles southeast of San Clemente Island, the Caltech Seismological Laboratory reported. The quake struck at 1:51 a.m. with a preliminary magnitude of 4.1, said Pasadena-based Caltech seismologist Nick Scheckel, adding it was an aftershock of the magnitude 4.9 temblor recorded in the same area at 2:11 p.m. Sunday.

Officials in public safety agencies in more than a half-dozen coastal cities in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties said they had received no reports of injuries or damages in the aftermath of the quake, and National Weather Service meteorologists said it generated no unusual wave activity.

Caltech placed the epicenter at 48 miles west of Mission Beach and 49 miles south-southeast of Avalon, where a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department employee said she felt only very slight shaking. The quake apparently was not linked to the light shakers that struck near Cabazon, north of Palm Springs, Monday night and early Tuesday, Caltech reported.

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Earthquake aid efforts hindered by image ban
19 October 2005
Source: Nature

Pakistan's government has forced international agencies to remove from their websites satellite pictures of the areas hit by the 8 October earthquake.

A senior official at the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters told Nature that Pakistan feared the images might compromise security in Kashmir — territory that has long been fought over by India and Pakistan.

International aid agencies were obliged to comply, said the official, because they need the government's cooperation to help those affected by the earthquake.

But local relief organisations need access to the images to pinpoint badly affected areas and navigable roads.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the United States in August, academics and Internet users rapidly gathered vast amounts of satellite data, which relief workers could view using software freely available online.

But since the Pakistan earthquake, Internet users have not been able to do as much. This has led Pakistani relief workers to write to organisations such as NASA, pleading for access to updated images

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China, Europe report new bird flu outbreaks
Last Updated Wed, 19 Oct 2005 12:49:24 EDT
CBC News

China reported a fresh outbreak of a deadly strain of bird flu on Wednesday amid new reports of the avian illness in Russia, Romania and Macedonia.

China's state news agency, Xinhua, reported Wednesday that 2,600 birds died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in the country's northern region.

Xinhua said the birds were discovered in a breeding facility near the village of Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. The news agency didn't provide any details other than to say that the "epidemic is under control."

China had earlier outbreaks of bird flu this year in Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Tibet.

In neighbouring Russia, agricultural officials are waiting for final confirmation of the H5N1 strain in wild ducks near Moscow. Hundreds of birds died suddenly in the country's Tula region, about 200 kilometres south of the capital.

If the tests are positive, it would be the first time the virus has shown up west of the Ural Mountains, in what is European Russia. Authorities have already killed 60,000 birds to stop the spread of the disease in earlier outbreaks.

European Union officials said Wednesday that bird flu is suspected in a small village in southern Macedonia. Macedonia borders Greece, where another bird flu outbreak is under investigation.

Macedonia officials plan to kill 10,000 chickens to contain the outbreak. In Romania, tests have confirmed the deadly H5N1 virus in a second location in the eastern Danube Delta region.

The strain was first confirmed in the same region last weekend. As many as 45,000 birds were destroyed.

The Danube delta is Europe's largest wetlands and a major migratory area for wild birds between Europe and Africa.

Health officials stress that the H5N1 strain of avian flu is not easily transmitted between human beings, and that all human cases have taken place in Asia among people are in close contact with birds on a regular basis.

The illness has killed 60 people in Asia since 2003.

Scientists fear the H5N1 could mutate into a form that could be passed between humans, causing a global flu pandemic.

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Ukraine orders emergency measures to fend off bird flu
2005-10-20 10:49:43

KIEV, Oct. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko ordered the government on Wednesday to take emergency measures to prevent avian flu from entering Ukrainian territory, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

The report said that Yushchenko in a decree ordered the creation of a commission in three days to formulate measures and approve precautionary plans by the beginning of next month.

Yushchenko asked the government to tighten monitoring of poultry imports and prevent smuggling of avian products. The country's meat processing factories, stocking and trading places should also be put under strict scrutiny.

The president also said in the decree that the government at all levels should offer sufficient financial and material support to the fight against bird flu.

The concerns over bird flu have grown in Ukraine after the appearance of the deadly H5N1 virus in neighboring Romania and nearby Turkey. Greece also discovered a case of bird flu on Monday.

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The Excuses Begin to Fly: Bush and Avian Flu
October 19, 2005

No one knows if or when an avian flu pandemic will hit the world. But we do know that this is a serious possibility, and that the consequences could be catastrophic: tens to hundreds of millions dead worldwide; millions dead in the US; economic damage that could lead to another major depression as workers die and others cease working out of fear and the need to take care of ill family members. Perhaps starvation would set in as the economy slowed and transportation ceased for large infected area.

Given these possibilities, one would think that any government would make preventing and preparing for this potential catastrophe a major priority. It's therefore nice to see that, for the Bush administration, avian flu is a priority. However, the priority isn't preparing for it but preparing to spin the government's failure to prepare.

Take this new article on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt's trip to Asia, the origin of this disease [Official: Preventing Pandemic Impossible]. Secretary Leavitt of the "see no obstacles" Bush administration proclaims defeat in advance.

"Can we create a network of surveillance sufficient enough to find the spark when it happens, to get there fast enough?" he said. "The chances of that happening are not good."

But will the US do all it can to prevent the spread of the disease? A no-brainer would be for the US and other wealthy nations to set up a fund to reimburse livestock breeders whose birds become infected. Since breeders sometime hide ill birds because of fears of economic devastation if they are detected and the rest of the breeder's stock is culled, common sense would indicate that the world has an interest in making sure that this compensation is more than adequate. So is the US moving full steam ahead to create such a fund? The Secretary made it clear the US intended to do little:

"He said the U.S. government was considering ways to help offset the economic loss to Asian farmers forced to slaughter infected flocks, but help would be limited. Without subsidies, poor farmers resist killing their sickened livestock."

While prevention is the best hope for the world, once a pandemic starts, public health strategies for coping are three-pronged: vaccination; use antiviral drugs; and quarantine. None of these approaches is a panacea, of course, and there are questions as to the degree of effectiveness of vaccination and antiviral drugs. There are also open questions regarding the best strategy to deal with flu epidemics.

As for vaccination, some efforts seem to be underway. Thoughtfully, the "United States may help finance some of the $100 million production burden." "May?" "Some of the burden?" This hardly seems like an all out effort to prepare for potential catastrophe. And let's not forget that that $100 million price tag is for vaccine for the United States only. Other wealthy industrial countries also will make preparations to vaccinate at least some of their populations. But what of the several billion people living in countries too poor to shoulder this cost on their own? Evidently they are simply to be left to get infected and die in their millions. In addition to the immorality of this, it will be a disaster for prevention in the United States and the other industrial countries. An epidemic left unchecked in large parts of the world will be a breading ground for the virus and for the development of modified forms of the virus which we may be less protected by vaccine. So any reasonable strategy for dealing with the virus would be based upon considering the entire world as an interconnected system. But not, evidently, that of the Bush administration.

Another important tactic is preparing stockpiles of antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, to treat people when they become infected. So is the Bush administration doing all it can to get as many doses of these drugs as possible? These drugs are protected by patent, interfering with the ability of multiple companies to devote their resources to manufacturing them. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has made the obvious suggestion that these patents be suspended in the interests of protecting millions of people. Secretary Leavitt's response is that U.S. intellectual property rights would not allow such action. No urgent call for suspending those rights in an emergency from the administration that has deemed virtually no human right worth protecting as it pursues its GWOT (Global War on Terror).

As for quarantine, the Secretary says the country isn't ready, but hasn't outlined a detailed approach to make it ready. Obviously, such an approach should be developed in close coordination with the career professionals in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state public health agencies whose job it is to protect the public from health dangers. However, President Bush's main idea was to propose giving the military, those experts in preserving the health of the public, a key role in imposing quarantines. As usual, the administration is more concerned with using the potential crisis to advance its agenda of militarizing American society than with actually preventing or coping with the crisis.

Never fear, however. Should a pandemic hit these shores Secretary Leavitt has already outlined the administration's excuse. It's all the fault of those other people, those individuals, families and public officials who were too shortsighted to prepare:

"People have not exercised adequate personal preparedness to last more than three or four days in their normal environment without going to the store," he said. "What's the responsibility of communities? What's the responsibility of families? Is it important that the mayor of a small town be thinking about a decision between Tamiflu and a swimming pool?"

I guess all that's needed is to trade in that swimming pool for a stock of the (unavailable) Tamiflu. If you don't, the catastrophe, should it occur, is your fault, just as those selfish people in New Orleans are responsible for their suffering as they refused to evacuate and their local officials neglected to ask for FEMA's assistance.

Stephen Soldz, a researcher and psychoanalyst, is Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is a member of Roslindale Neighbors for Peace and Justice and founder of Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice. He maintains the Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report web page. He can be reached at:

Comment: There is something really curious about all the media play the bird flu is getting. We are informed day after day as it progresses across Asia towards Europe. It has now reach Macedonia and Rumania. Where will it strike next?

Given the really poor job our governments and media do in keeping us informed and in protecting our best interests, one needs to step back and ask "Just what is going on here?"

We do not doubt that the bird flu will come and will hit many, many people. But do we really think that anything will be done to protect us? What is really in those vaccinations they will be shooting into the old and the young?

We were treated this summer, during Bush's extended holiday hiding from Cindy Sheehan on his ranch, to the information that he was reading, and a book on the flu epidemic of 1918 at that! Whew! George reads a book and it makes headline news!

Isn't that a little odd? Obviously, someone wants us to know that Bush is studying up on the subject. Coming as it does when the rest of his administration appears to be unraveling at the seams, we wonder why here? Why now?

Are we being set up? Obviously.

But is someone also setting up George for a fall?

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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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