Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions.... The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen."
If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!
December 7, 2003
"'We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defence of our great nation.'" - George W. Bush, as quoted by Bob Woodward in Bush at War
"'It can't happen here' is always wrong: a dictatorship can happen anywhere." - Karl Popper
Today is the 62nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that led to the US declaring war on Japan, Italy, and Germany and entering the Second World War.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. If it works, why change tactics. Getting a country into a war the population doesn't want is easy, as we see here, and as we experienced again in Korea, Vietnam, and more recently, in the events of September 11, 2003.
But there continue to be people who refuse to admit that governments act this way, especially one as "democratic" as the US of A.
Wake up, people. The curtain of darkness is falling. As Bob Dylan put it, "It ain't dark yet, but it's getting there..." Of course, he sang that in 1997...As the world burns today: In true fascist style, Britain is now unsure about transferring British detainees from the Guantanamo prison camp. The Blair gang is worried it might have to free the captives due to a lack of evidence. Apparently, this doesn't bother the people of the UK or the US. Many Germans weren't bothered by Hitler's actions, either...
Speaking of fascist style, be sure to check out our flashbacks, one of which is a checklist. The US meets every requirement. The other flashback describes the current methods used on the US populace, which are perhaps more evident now then when the article was written last spring.
Ashcroft has taken control of the Justice Department's secret spy court. Rumsfeld says not to worry about a shortage of battle-ready troops, since he's going to change the rules and shorten the soldiers' down time. That'll go over real well with the already disgruntled troops. Speaking of soldiers, the draft may be back sooner than you think.
US tourists, Christians who support Israel no less, are paying $5,500 for a course in learning to live under terror. They are being hosted in Hebron in the occupied territories by illegal Jewish settlers who want to give them a taste of what it is like to live under terror. We'd have thought the Palestinians would be better at explaining that than the occupiers, but the trip is organised so that the Americans will never meet a Palestinian.
The US expresses regret at the deaths of nine children in Afghanistan. An old quote from Madeleine Albright helps us understand the true meaning of regret. The Israelis assure the Canadian government that the Canadian of Palestinian origin being held in an Israeli prison is not being "mistreated." History tells us what kind of "treatment" the Israelis believe is appropriate for Palestinians.
The blizzard that hit the US North-East yesterday was only the hors-d'oeuvre. More expected today, and it will also hit the Maritime provinces in Canada. The blanket of lies is being covered by a blanket of snow.
The EU is set to ratify a security pact that is seen to be in opposition to Bush's policy of preemptive attacks.
Sniper shootings in Ohio, a tropical storm, Germany says melting ice caps will swamp cities around the world, other scientists have rather chilling predictions for Europe due to global warming, and much more in today's Signs.
NYPD: Explosives vanish
Police in New York City have issued a department-wide alert for officers to be on the lookout for missing explosives powerful enough to bring down a commercial jetliner.
Newsday reports the explosive, called Primasheet, vanished at New Jersey's Newark International Airport in early September.
Officials with the Port Authority originally "said they did not think terrorists had anything to do with its disappearance and that their investigation was focused on who signed the explosive in and out of the agency's training center at the Newark airport," the paper stated.
The explosives, often used for demolition projects, were last seen as a police K-9 Unit trained bomb-sniffing dogs aboard a Continental Airlines plane.
The NYPD alert describes the missing explosive as a half-inch-thick slab of sheets, with each sheet measuring four inches square. It goes on to say Primasheet "requires the use of a commercial or military detonator in order to function," according to Newsday.
Distributed by Valley Associates in Ontario, Canada, the explosive is waterproof and moisture-proof, and "can be applied in strips directly on the target."
According to the company's website, the sheets "can be easily cut to any desired shape and applied with an adhesive. The flexible sheet can be applied as strips or diamond shapes directly on the target or used to improvise linear shape charges."
Dec 7,12:00 AM ET
TIRASPOL, Moldova -- In the ethnic conflicts that surrounded the collapse of the Soviet Union, fighters in several countries seized upon an unlikely new weapon: a small, thin rocket known as the Alazan. Originally built for weather experiments, the Alazan rockets were packed with explosives and lobbed into cities. Military records show that at least 38 Alazan warheads were modified to carry radioactive material, effectively creating the world's first surface-to-surface dirty bomb.
The radioactive warheads are not known to have been used. But now, according to experts and officials, they have disappeared. [...]
Secretary blocks return of Guantanamo Bay
The United States had offered to send at least some of the nine Britons held at the US military base in Cuba back to Britain for trial, but a decision on their future was being delayed because government ministers here were split over the proposal, The Sunday Times said.
The prospects of an early resolution had been clouded after Blunkett warned that any proceedings in British civilian courts would probably end with acquittals through lack of admissible evidence, the paper reported.
It added British intelligence chiefs were concerned that any agreement to return the men could result in potentially dangerous al-Qaeda supporters being allowed to go free at a time when the authorities are nervous amid fears of a terrorist attack in Britain. [...]
A Home Office source added: "The home secretary wants the men to be treated fairly but he doesn't want them in Britain without there being a tight legal hold on them."
Comment: Let's see if we have this straight: First Britain wants the British Guantanamo detainees transferred home. Now they say they don't want them transferred because the detainees could be dangerous al-Qaeda operatives who would most likely be acquitted - due to a lack of evidence - of charges never filed against them in the first place.
In other words, the British government knows that what the US is doing is blatantly fascist and illegal, but Blair and his thugs want their piece of the pie, and by golly they'll do anything to get it - including trampling on the rights and freedoms of their own citizens.
It appears there IS a war on terrorism going on right now. But the real terrorists are not al-Qaeda operatives hiding in dark corners; they are the people who wear fancy suits and are frequently featured on the evening news. The less we speak out against them, the more complicit we are in the heinous acts they commit in our name.
The hearing for a Muslim Army chaplain charged with mishandling classified materials was delayed because others in the military accidentally mishandled classified materials in his case, defense officials said Wednesday.
Army Capt. James Yee was to face the military version of a preliminary hearing Tuesday at Fort Benning, Ga., on charges he violated security rules at the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But it was postponed after prosecutors discovered Monday that the legal staff at Guantanamo mistakenly put a classified document into investigation packets delivered to Yee’s attorney and to the hearing officer, said Army Lt. Col. Bill Costello of the U.S. Southern Command.
"It’s ridiculous," said Yee’s attorney, Eugene Fidell, asserting the development illustrates the government has a weak case that should be dismissed. [...]
There is a windowless room on the seventh floor of the US Department of Justice building in Washington. Few people know what happens within its walls. This is the home of America’s most secretive court: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISAC). We need to know about it because what it does or doesn’t do has a great impact on the "war against terror" and American civil liberties.
Congress established FISAC in 1978 as a Cold War tool to conduct secret domestic investigations of alleged enemy agents. In those days it had little to do, but today it is one of the principal centers for the government’s counter-terrorist efforts. It is where the Justice Department requests "warrantless warrants," authorizing the FBI to conduct secret domestic wiretaps and other snooping. Justice obtained 113 secret emergency search or electronic-surveillance authorizations from FISAC in the year after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, compared to 47 in the 23 years since the court’s founding.
The court was originally established as part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), but is now incorporated into the USA Patriot Act, which was rushed through Congress without hearings six weeks after Sept. 11. The act is staunchly defended by Justice, which would like to see its mandate expanded, while civil libertarians continue to raise legal, moral and ethical questions about many of its provisions.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court, now William Rehnquist, appoints the seven judges presiding over FISAC, all of whom are semi-retired federal judges. Atop FISAC is the previously unknown Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court of Review (FISACR), which adjudicates disputes between FISAC and Justice. Its three judges, presently conservatives appointed by the chief justice under former President Ronald Reagan, are also semi-retired federal judges. Until recently FISACR had nothing to do, and heard its first appeal regarding implementation of the Patriot Act in 2003.
When Congress approved of the original FISA, it put up a wall between intelligence and law enforcement agencies after domestic spying scandals during the 1960s and 1970s. Federal intelligence agencies are forbidden from conducting domestic investigations, and FISA continued to require strict court supervision over domestic intelligence efforts. The USA Patriot Act broke down these barriers and loosened standards for obtaining warrants. Backed by the new provisions, US Attorney General John Ashcroft dispatched a memorandum to FBI Director Robert Mueller and senior Justice Department officials outlining ways to make it easier for investigators in espionage and terrorism cases to share information from searches or wiretaps with FBI criminal investigators.
However, FISAC found, unanimously, that Ashcroft had pushed the envelope too far. His proposed procedures had lowered the barrier between criminal investigations and intelligence gathering, and their provisions for sharing information between the two domains did not adequately prevent misuse of information in criminal cases. The ruling by the court came in a case in which the Justice Department approached FISAC to authorize surveillance of an American citizen who was alleged to be "aiding, abetting or conspiring with others in international terrorism." [...]
EU security pact highlights transatlantic power
Amid simmering transatlantic tension over EU defence plans, Europe will approve a landmark security pact this week modelled on a post-9/11 US doctrine -- but highlighting deep-seated differences of view on the use of power.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will present the unprecedented Security Strategy to foreign ministers Tuesday as they begin a final frenzy of talks on Europe's first-ever constitution, climaxing in an EU summit Friday where it will be formally approved.
"September 11 revealed a world more complex and more dangerous," said Solana in a recent speech, while indicating that the Iraq crisis was the real trigger for the security initiative. [...]
The first version was based on the US National Security Strategy (NSS), approved by Washington in September 2002 as a direct response to 9/11 and setting out President George W. Bush's changed view of the world.
Bush's infamous commitment to the principle of pre-emption -- of striking before being struck -- triggered a storm of debate in Europe which fueled much of the language of the first draft.
But such language is absent from the final EU document, where the significantly watered-down phrase "preventive engagement" is at the heart of the European strategy paper, and in stark contrast to the tone of the US pact. [...]
The Assassination Of
The film vividly portrays the inconsistencies in government officials' reactions to Ryazan, and their later attempts to consistently blame the Chechens. Questions about the possible involvement of the special services are raised. [...]
A US soldier was killed and two others were injured when a patrol came under attack in northern Iraq.
A roadside bomb was detonated as an American convoy passed through the centre of Mosul at around midday, Master Sgt. Kelly Tyler said. [...]
In Mosul on Saturday, three gunmen shot and killed an Iraqi policeman on his way to work. The victim was a 24-year-old recent graduate of a police academy that has received support and guidance from coalition forces. [...]
The US military announced on Saturday that troops operating in the area around Mosul captured 10 people who allegedly were planning attacks against coalition forces, and six involved in selling black-market weapons.
· Key contract decisions postponed again
Oliver Morgan, industrial editor
Halliburton, the engineering group formerly run by US vice-president Dick Cheney, has been given $1 billion worth of reconstruction work in Iraq by the US government without having to compete for it, thanks to repeated delays in opening up a key contract to competition.
The Houston-based company was controversially awarded a contract to repair Iraq's damaged oil infrastructure without competition in February.
The cost-plus contract means the amount spent by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which is running the work, is open-ended, rather than being fixed at the outset, because the scope of the damage was unknown. The USACE described the contract as a 'bridge to competition', but original plans to award the work competitively in August have repeatedly slipped. So far, $1.7bn has been made available to Halliburton for the work.
Figures obtained from the USACE by Democrat Congressman Henry Waxman indicate that on 21 August, around the time the contract should have been opened to competition, the amount made available to KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary involved, was $704m. Since then the total has risen by $1.011bn.
Waxman said: 'Since August, when the follow-on contracts were supposed to be awarded, the administration has obligated more than $1bn to Halliburton under the oil infrastructure contract. These inexplicable delays may be good for Halliburton; they are costing taxpayers a bundle.'
The figures have emerged as the UK Government and contractors reacted with dismay to news this week that competitive tendering had again been pushed back to between 15 December and 17 January. Previously it was delayed to mid-October, late October, then year-end.
www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-06 13:09:17
BAGHDAD, Dec. 6, (Xinhuanet) -- The top U.S. administrator in Iraq (news - web sites), L. Paul Bremer, warned Friday that attacks against coalition forces will likely escalate over the next few months as the occupation authority prepares for a transfer of sovereignty to a new Iraqi government.
The warning came after a roadside bomb hit a U.S. military convoy in Baghdad, killing one soldier, the military said. Two Iraqi civilians also died and 13 were injured, hospital workers said.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Bremer said former members of Saddam Hussein's intelligence agencies were now assuming an increasingly prominent role in the insurgency. He predicted an upsurge in attacks in coming months.
Comment: Gee, we wonder why. Could it have anything to do with this:
www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-06 17:43:15
BAGHDAD, Dec. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- The US military campaign against guerillas have caused wide-spread destruction to civilians in US-occupied Iraq.
A farmer from the city of Baquba, 60 km north of Baghdad, said US troops had burned large areas of citrus orchards in the city, which were suspected to be guerilla hideouts.
Baquba and its surrounding areas are well-known for best citrus orchards in Iraq. The 200,000 residents of the city mainly live on the plant.
The Saudi-funded London-based "Asharqal-Awsat" daily, in its Baghdad edition Thursday front-paged an awful photo showing an Iraqi old woman standing in front of her house destroyed by US troops in al-Hawija, about 250 km north of Baghdad.
The coalition troops have recently conducted a massive search for insurgents, including a senior figure of the former Saddam Hussein regime, in this small town.
In the past eight months, the US forces equipped with tanks, helicopters and other heavy weapons, have carried out a series of operations in Iraq to hunt so-called loyalists to Saddam.
From the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to Saddam's hometown Tikrit, few cities and towns escaped different levels of destruction.
Observers call all the spoilage and devastation disastrous consequences of turning Iraq into the "central front" in the war against international terrorism as US President George W. Bush put it.
During Saddam's 24-year rule, his army bulldozed thousands upon thousands of hectares of fruitful orchards in towns such as Dujail and Khalis, razed Kurdish villages in northern Iraq to put down armed resistance against his autarchy.
Observers say the policy of "collective punishment" by US troops will not win the hearts and minds of the 25-million Iraqi people. On the contrary, it is bound to fuel further anti-occupation resistance.
Salameh Nematt Al-Hayat 2003/12/4
The decision of the U.S. administration to spend 21 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq reflects the strategic importance that Iraq has for Washington, in the context of its political agenda in the Middle East. America has never given this amount of foreign aid before, even with the Marshall plan for rebuilding Europe after World War II, where only 13.3 billion dollars were allocated for it, which equals 100 billion dollars under the present rates. With respect to the population, the amount of the American planned aid is equivalent to 900 dollars for the Iraqi individual, compared to 375 dollars (under the present rates) that America had allocated to the Europeans in the framework of the Marshall plan. The American aid to Iraq is seven times as much as the annual aid to Israel, and is also 20 times more than the American aid to rebuild Russia. According to these considerations, this means that the Republican administration at the White House considers its plan in Iraq today as much more important than helping Europe face the communist threat after World War II, or than supporting Israel, or guaranteeing the non-collapse of a nuclear country like Russia.
[...] The fact is that the size of American investment in Iraq, disregarding its revenues and possible or expected associations, reflects a great American bet to make a regional change that starts in Iraq and does not stop at its borders. As for those who are wagering on the failure of the American project, they should watch out that the size of the financial, political, and militarily American investment in Iraq is big, and in fact, it is big to the extent that one can exclude the idea of accepting failure in the near future.
Sunday 07 December 2003, 13:17 Makka Time, 10:17 GMT
The Israeli architect of the Geneva Initiative, Yossi Beilin, is hoping that the goodwill generated by the unofficial peace move will catapult him to the leadership of a new left-wing political party.
Beilin, who failed to win a seat in the last general election, is hoping to revive not only his own political fortunes but that of the Israeli left by merging his small Shahar faction with the larger Meretz party in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
Beilin will take on Meretz MP Ran Cohen for the leadership of the party in primaries scheduled to take place in February.
Sunday 07 December 2003, 12:24 Makka Time, 9:24 GMT
Israel has warned it would reject any agreement by Palestinian factions which stops short of a total cessation of resistance attacks.
A source close to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government said on Sunday they would not accept "half-measures".
The remarks came as Palestinian groups said they agreed to a conditional halt to resistance attacks within Israel, following talks in Cairo aimed at securing a complete stop to anti-occupation attacks.
The final statement, drafted by representatives of 12 factions, did not refer to ending attacks on occupation soldiers and settlers in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
It was issued on Sunday at the end of truce talks in the Egyptian capital.
It blamed Israel for the failure of a previous unilateral truce declared by Palestinian factions in June which collapsed after Israel assassinated a leading Hamas member two months later.
"The participants reiterate their conditional readiness to avoid attacking civilians," said the communique.
Lisa Reed is nervous. Wearing only a light T-shirt and combat trousers she is on patrol through the deserted Arab streets of Hebron.
After an upsurge in shootings and suicide bombings the Israeli army has imposed a daytime curfew on Hebron's Palestinian population: today the streets are empty and eerily quiet.
Lisa is a part-time dental nurse from Newport News, Virginia. She has never been to Israel or the Palestinian territories before - much less been on an armed patrol of an Arab city under military curfew.
She is acutely aware that she has no body armour - no flak jacket or helmet - to protect her from Palestinian gunmen in the shuttered buildings, which surround her. At this moment she feels a very long way from home.
Lisa Reed is one of a unique new group of "Terror Tourists". She and four other American men have signed up for Operation Shiloh - an intensive five-day course in counter-terrorism run by Israeli entrepreneurs Yehoshua Mizrachi and Jay Greenwald in association with commandos from the country's Special Forces.
The aim is to equip ordinary American men and women with military survival skills in the event of a terrorist attack on their homes or neighbourhoods.
"We set up Operation Shiloh in the wake of 11 September," says Mr Greenwald.
"We were in New York when the Twin Towers were hit and we saw that there was a real gap in people's knowledge about what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. And we figured that since Israel has been attacked since its birth, this is this best place for people to learn those skills."
The 11 September attacks have left a deep and intractable sense of personal fear in the minds of ordinary American citizens.
From the moment of its launch earlier this year, Operation Shiloh was inundated by applicants: ordinary men and women ready and willing to pay the $5,500 course fees.
"I'm your typical average American mum," says Lisa Reed. "I'm not involved with the police, I'm not involved with the military: I'm a Christian who supports Israel but primarily I want to know what I can do to protect myself and my family from a terrorist attack on my neighbourhood."
From the hundreds of initial applicants, Mr Mizrachi and Mr Greenwald selected a handful to take part in the inaugural course this summer.
Which is how Lisa Reed - together with her husband, Jeff, and his brother, Don, plus a successful Virginia Beach real estate broker and a former IT consultant from Colorado - found herself preparing for an armed patrol in the locked-down streets of Hebron.
Hebron is one of the most dangerous cities on earth. Located in the heart of the Palestinian territories - the hotly disputed land Israel is under intense international pressure to hand over to the Palestinians - it is the stronghold of Hamas, among the most violent of all Palestinian militant groups.
This year alone 30 people have died and 38 more been wounded on its streets.
Comment: And were these illegal Jewish settlers or Palestinians? Is Hebron dangerous for the Israelis, who don't live there, or the Palestinians who do? What this writer calls the "Palestinian territories" are the "occupied territories." Occupied by whom? By Israel, of course. The Palestinians are subjected to curfew, as this article notes.
Hebron's 150,000 population is predominantly Arab: just a few hundred Jewish settlers refuse to abandon their homes inside the ancient city walls.
Comment: So it would seem that it is the Palestinians who are more at risk, wouldn't it?
Israeli soldiers on every street corner scour the streets and buildings from behind heavily fortified bunkers.
The participants in Operation Shiloh are to patrol its streets to give them - according to the course organisers - a sense of what life is like for the Jewish residents.
Comment: Yes, indeed. You, too, can know what it feels like to be part of an occupying force! For only $5,500!
Both men live in nearby Jewish settlements threatened with destruction by the US-backed peace plan known as the roadmap: their political agenda dominates the entire course.
Comment: The Israeli settlements that are threatened are settlements that are illegal according to international law! SO the two organisers of the course are illegal Israeli settlers.
Throughout the five-day course, Lisa Reed and her fellow Terror Tourists will fire machine-guns, learn hand-to-hand combat and take part in mock attacks by Israeli commandos pretending to be Arab terrorists.
The Palestinian Authority condemns Operation Shiloh - but is powerless to stop it. And Mr Mizrachi and Mr Greenwald have deliberately constructed the course to protect the Terror Tourists from ever meeting a single real-life Palestinian.
Last Updated Sat, 06 Dec 2003 18:16:20
OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham apologized Saturday for the statement made by a spokesman who said that Canada will rebuke the Israeli ambassador in Ottawa.
On Friday, Foreign Affairs spokesman Reynald Doiron said Israeli Ambassador Haim Divon would be told his comments about Canadian citizen Jamal Akkal were improper.
[...] But on Saturday, Graham backed away from the idea that Divon will be scolded. "I'm sorry if there has been the impression" that the ambassador will be reprimanded, he said. Rather, Divon will be consulted about his statements.
[...] Graham said the facts of Akkal's case will come out in court in Israel.
Comment: Looks like the Zionist presence in Canada is too strong for a politician to ignore it...
Last Updated Sat, 06 Dec 2003 14:54:07
JERUSALEM - Israel's foreign affairs minister "totally rejects" reports that his country is mistreating a Canadian man being held for allegedly planning attacks on Jewish targets in Canada.
Jamal Akkal, 23, who was arrested in November under suspicion of working with the Islamic militant group Hamas, told Canadian officials he's being deprived of sleep and subjected to lengthy interrogations.
Akkal's lawyer, Jamil al-Qhateb, claimed the Israelis psychologically tortured his client by keeping him awake for 20 days. He said Akkal then had to sign a confession written in Hebrew, a language he doesn't speak.
"Israel totally rejects any allegation that he is being mistreated, and the Canadian authorities have been informed all along," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled said Saturday.
"It must be noted that he is being held on suspicion of very serious allegations concerning both Israel and Canada," Peled said.
Comment: Of course the Israelis don't think they are "mistreating" the prisoner, a Canadian of Palestinian origin. Their occupation of Palestine and the history of Israel shows very clearly what Israelis think is proper treatment for the Palestinians: occupation, confinement, torture, brutality, murder, destruction of their crops and livelihood, humiliation, starvation...
Rumsfeld suggests changing army readiness
standards to reflect wartime
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged the effect on military readiness of simultaneous operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but said US forces should be held to a different standard in a time of war.
Returning from a visit to troops in both countries, Rumsfeld was responding to reports that four army divisions will be rated at the lowest levels of readiness for up to six months as they rest and refurbish equipment after punishing deployments. [...]
He said the standards the army now uses were formed during peacetime, and may not reflect the changed conditions the United States is in with major operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism. [...]
UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE/TED RALL
NEW YORK--When I was a kid, standing around the post office waiting for my mom to buy stamps, I entertained myself by flipping through the "wanted" notices clipped to the bulletin board. I was impressed by the fact that most of the people who'd done bad things didn't look all that evil in their mug shots. Mostly the felons looked tired. And poor. You could tell from their frayed collars.
Mixed in with the accused murderers, kidnappers and mail fraud conspirators (this was the post office, after all) were local kids wanted for dodging the draft. Their profiles didn't look anything like those of men wanted for tri-state killing sprees. The sections dedicated to "prior convictions" were blank and the government didn't have fingerprints for them. Draft evaders' photos came from their high school yearbooks where everyone turned a little to the right, grinning with optimism and framed by shaggy early '70s haircuts. Nevertheless, the message was clear. As far as the government was concerned, evading service in Vietnam was as bad as boosting a bank.
Whenever the feds needed more cannon fodder, they interrupted primetime sit-coms to broadcast a draft lottery. Two guys wearing American flag lapel pins would turn a metal tumbler and pluck out slips of paper bearing birthdays from 18 years earlier. "If you were born on April 4, 1951, you have 30 days to report to your local Selective Service bureau."
Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery" wasn't nearly as creepy.
"How long has this war been going on?" I asked my mom while Uncle Walt recited body counts along with the closing value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Born in 1963, I must have been about 8.
"Pretty much since you were born," she replied. Then she corrected herself. "Well, really even before that."
"Will it end before I turn 18?"
"I don't know. Probably not. I hope so."
They stopped the draft when I was 10; we lost the war two years later. I never had to resolve the terrible dilemma that drove those kids on the wanted posters to flee to Canada. Were they pacifists or were they wimps? Everyone knew that Vietnam wasn't winnable. Was it wrong to refuse to die for nothing, or was it good sense?
Was defending the corrupt South Vietnamese regime of President Nguyen Van Thieu "fighting for your country"? Even if a war was both winnable and moral--World War II, say--was forcing a human being to risk death and dismemberment a form of slavery? [...]
In early November, the Pentagon website DefendAmerica.mil put out a call for applicants willing to serve on Selective Service System draft boards. "Serve Your Community and the Nation--Become a Selective Service System Local Board Member," the ad read. "If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 local and appeal boards throughout America would decide which young men who submit a claim receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service, based on federal guidelines." Noting that the SSS hopes to fill its 8,000 draft board slots by spring 2005, many journalists are wondering aloud whether the Bush Administration plans to reinstate forced conscription of 18-to-26-year-olds after the election, just on time for invasions of Iran, Syria and/or North Korea.
Reports of a big uptick in the draft agency's budget from '03 to '04 abound, yet the feds claim that ramping up Selective Service is part of "the routine cycle of things." "There are no secret discussions," says SSS spokesman Pat Schuback. "We aren't doing any planning that we don't do on a routine basis." Yet they refuse to issue a categorical denial. A February Surprise, perhaps? [...]
This much is certain: If Bush resumes his neocolonial landgrab after "re"election, he'll have to bring back the draft. And a new generation of young men, ordered to disrupt their lives to feed the vanity and bank accounts of a cabal of gangsters, will ponder whether to flee or fight.
The US military is investigating after nine children died in an American air raid in eastern Afghanistan.
An A-10 aircraft struck a site south of Ghazni, 100 miles south west Kabul, where a "known terrorist" was believed to be hiding.
Army Major Christopher West admitted: "At the time we initiated the attack, we did not know there were children nearby." [...]
The military is sending a team of investigators to the site to determine if US forces were at fault.
Comment: What is there to determine? An A-10 swooped in and bombarded the area, resulting in the deaths of 9 innocent children. How could US forces not be at fault?
The UN has called for a swift inquiry into the "profoundly distressing" deaths of nine children in a US bombing in Afghanistan.
"This incident, which follows similar incidents, adds to a sense of insecurity and fear," special UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said in a statement.
The US has admitted mistakenly killing the children on Saturday in a strike on a suspected "terrorist".
A spokesman said the US military regretted the loss of innocent life.
Comment: Sure they regret it, the same way Madeleine Albright "regretted" the loss of 500,000 Iraqi children due to the UN embargo on Iraq.
FLASHBACK: Inverted Totalitarianism
[...] While the Nazi totalitarianism strove to give the masses a sense of collective power and strength, Kraft durch Freude ("Strength through joy"), inverted totalitarianism promotes a sense of weakness, of collective futility. While the Nazis wanted a continuously mobilized society that would not only support the regime without complaint and enthusiastically vote "yes" at the periodic plebiscites, inverted totalitarianism wants a politically demobilized society that hardly votes at all. Recall the President's words immediately after the horrendous events of September 11: "Unite, consume and fly," he told the anxious citizenry. Having assimilated terrorism to a "war," he avoided doing what democratic leaders customarily do during wartime: mobilize the citizenry, warn it of impending sacrifices and exhort all citizens to join the "war effort."
Instead, inverted totalitarianism has its own means of promoting generalized fear; not only by sudden "alerts" and periodic announcements about recently discovered terrorist cells or the arrest of shadowy figures or the publicized heavy-handed treatment of aliens and the Devil's Island that is Guantánamo Bay or the sudden fascination with interrogation methods that employ or border on torture, but by a pervasive atmosphere of fear abetted by a corporate economy of ruthless downsizing, withdrawal or reduction of pension and health benefits; a corporate political system that relentlessly threatens to privatize Social Security and the modest health benefits available, especially to the poor. With such instrumentalities for promoting uncertainty and dependence, it is almost overkill for inverted totalitarianism to employ a system of criminal justice that is punitive in the extreme, relishes the death penalty and is consistently biased against the powerless.
Thus the elements are in place: a weak legislative body, a legal system that is both compliant and repressive, a party system in which one party, whether in opposition or in the majority, is bent upon reconstituting the existing system so as to permanently favor a ruling class of the wealthy, the well-connected and the corporate, while leaving the poorer citizens with a sense of helplessness and political despair, and, at the same time, keeping the middle classes dangling between fear of unemployment and expectations of fantastic rewards once the new economy recovers. That scheme is abetted by a sycophantic and increasingly concentrated media; by the integration of universities with their corporate benefactors; by a propaganda machine institutionalized in well-funded think tanks and conservative foundations; by the increasingly closer cooperation between local police and national law enforcement agencies aimed at identifying terrorists, suspicious aliens and domestic dissidents.
What is at stake, then, is nothing less than the attempted transformation of a tolerably free society into a variant of the extreme regimes of the past century. In that context, the national elections of 2004 represent a crisis in its original meaning, a turning point. The question for citizens is: Which way?
FLASHBACK: Fascism Anyone?
The 14 characteristics are:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidat es, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
December 7, 2003
BY CHARLES LAURENCE NEW YORK -- The mere presence in his elegant office of a clean ashtray, unsullied by cigarette stubs, has ignited a fiery row between the editor of Vanity Fair and New York's rabidly anti-smoking mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
Graydon Carter has accused Bloomberg of harassment after the mayor's tobacco brigade -- inspectors from the city's health department -- raided the magazine's Times Square building no fewer than three times, apparently aiming to catch Carter smoking illegally.
During the most recent raid, Carter and his cigarettes were out of the office, but the inspectors noticed the unused ashtray. They issued a ticket and fined Conde Nast -- the parent company of Vanity Fair -- $200. Carter has consistently ridiculed Bloomberg's laws, which ban smoking in all bars, restaurants and public gathering places, in addition to all offices or anywhere people are employed.
Ashtrays are also outlawed lest they encourage people to smoke. Of 2,300 summonses issued since the Bloomberg Law came into force in May, more than 200 have been for "ashtray violations."
Carter said: "This is harassment on the part of Mike Bloomberg. ... They are allowed to come into your office looking for an ashtray. The city actually spent money training them on how to identify one. [...]
Comment: No warrants are necessary for these raids, due to the fact that they are called, "Safety Inspectors." An Orwellian term if there ever was one. Fascists are never difficult to find it seems. Those who smoke may enjoy reading Musician Joe Jackson's opinion piece in the Telegraph.
07:10 AM EST Dec 07
ABUJA, Nigeria (CP) - A Commonwealth subcommittee appeared to come to a consensus Saturday on how to deal with suspended member Zimbabwe and should report back to the full assembly Sunday, Prime Minister Jean Chretien said after taking part in the meeting.
PARFITT IN MOSCOW
FORCES loyal to Vladimir Putin were expected to be on their way to an overwhelming victory today as Russians went to the polls to support a party with little in the way of a manifesto other than slavish devotion to the president. [...]
Analysts agree this projected victory for Kremlin-friendly parties would give the president extreme leverage on parliamentarians and tempt him to ram through unpopular laws that tally with his authoritarian image as a former KGB spy who favours a strong hand.
Respected commentator Andrei Piontkovsky said: "Mr Putin is building a police state and he makes no bones about it."
Leonid Sedov, a senior researcher with the VTsIOM-A independent polling agency, agreed: "The president’s total dominance combined with a pseudo multi-party Duma is a sure guarantee that the current course being charted toward a police state, controlled by an authoritarian head of state and the law enforcement agencies, will prevail for 10 to 12 years." [...]
Dec 7 2003
REPORTER: So what do you think of Africa? PHILIP: I will pass on that, if you don't mind
From Paul Gilfeather In Abuja, Nigeria
Last Updated Sat, 06 Dec 2003 21:07:10
MONTREAL - A solemn memorial service was held in Montreal Saturday to mark the 14th anniversary of a mass murder that prompted tighter gun laws in Canada and the controversial national firearms registry.
About almost 1,000 people braved the cold as they gathered at Place du 6-Décembre, a park dedicated to the 14 women who were killed at the Ecole polytechnique. Another 12 students were injured in the shooting.
[...] On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine, 25, walked into the engineering school with a semi-automatic rifle and, according to witnesses, shouted "I want the women. I hate feminists. You're all a bunch of feminists!"
Lepine confronted 60 engineering students in their classroom and separated the men from the women. He told the men to leave the classroom, threatening them with his rifle.
ALLAN HALL IN KASSEL
IS surely one of the most gruesome tales of modern times, and
tomorrow further grisly evidence will be served up in a German
court where self-confessed cannibal Armin Meiwes is standing trial
for butchering, barbecuing and eating his victim.
The trial has brought into sharp focus the activities of a macabre world which, in the words of the defendant, is inhabited by "many hundreds of others like me". [...]
(MAINE) -- A seventh-grade social studies teacher in Presque Isle who said he was barred from teaching about non-Christian civilizations has sued his school district, claiming it violated his First Amendment right of free expression. [...]
Cole alleged that complaints by "a small group of fundamentalist Christian individuals" led to the creation of a curriculum "which never mentions religions other than Christianity and never teaches the history of civilizations other than Christian civilizations."
"He can't even teach the history of anti-Semitism (or the) history of ancient Greece," said Cole's lawyer, A.J. Greif of Bangor.
"How can you explain the evolution of democracy in the Western world without talking about ancient Greece? He can't talk about all the influences of the Indian, Japanese or Chinese cultures."
Superintendent Gehrig Johnson said on Tuesday that he had not seen the lawsuit, but he noted that the curriculum has been "developed by teachers across the district and adopted by the SAD 1 School Committee."
"Teachers are expected to follow the curriculum," he added. [...]
Comment: Can book burning be far behind?
SPENCER, Associated Press Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Authorities closed nearly half of the beltway around the city for two hours after dusk Saturday as federal agents investigating 14 shootings there used lasers to take ballistic measurements. [...]
PETTERSON, Associated Press Writer
Highways and sidewalks turned treacherous Saturday for the millions of people living in the Northeast as the region's first big storm of the season piled up a foot of blowing snow, grounding airline flights, taking a bite out of pre-Christmas shopping, and canceling SAT exams.
At least eight deaths were blamed on the storm, and police urged people to just stay home. [...]
Snow fell at a rate of about an inch an hour at Binghamton, N.Y., and the National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for parts of Maine, Connecticut, southeastern New York and New Jersey. Stiff wind blew the snow sideways in places and whipped up rough surf along the coast. [...]
"What we're seeing now is the tip of the iceberg," meteorologist Roger Hill of Worcester, Vt., said Saturday morning. "The beast is going to be here shortly." [...]
A huge snow storm has blanketed much of the eastern United States, causing hazardous conditions.
At least three people were reported to have died in weather-related accidents and hundreds of flights were cancelled.
Up to two feet (0.6m) of snow is expected to fall over several states - including Massachusetts and Vermont - on Sunday, forecasters have warned.
The National Weather Service said heavy snow and strong winds would continue until the storm headed out to sea.
'Worse to come'
Massachusetts saw some of the heaviest snow fall and Boston's Logan Airport was forced to cancel hundreds of flights.
"We've gone through the hors d'oeuvres of this storm but the main course is still to come," public affairs officer for Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Peter Judge told Reuters news agency.
"The ugly part will get us tonight."
Last Updated Sun, 07 Dec 2003 0:20:45
HALIFAX - The storm that has blasted the U.S. Northeast on Saturday is expected to make life miserable in the Maritimes on Sunday.
"We could get a heavy snowstorm of up to 30 centimetres in many parts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I.," said Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Steeves.
Thousands have abandoned their homes as Tropical Storm Odette lashed the Dominican Republic with torrential rains.
Odette was expected to see up to 15 inches of rain falling on parts of the Dominican Republic and neighbouring Haiti. [...]
More than 10,000 people were evacuated from low-lying south-western areas, said Julian Pena, governor of Barahona province.
It was the second time in less than a month that heavy rains have forced Dominicans from their homes.
Three weeks ago, rainstorms soaked the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, overflowing rivers banks and creating landslides and flash floods that killed seven people and forced thousands to leave.
Geoffrey Lean Environment Editor
Measures to fight global warming will have to be at least four times stronger than the Kyoto Protocol if they are to avoid the melting of the polar ice caps, inundating central London and many of the world's biggest cities, concludes a new official report.
The report, by a German government body, says that even if it is fully implemented, the protocol will only have a "marginal attenuating effect" on the climate change. But last week even this was thrown into doubt amid contradictory signals from the Russian government as to whether it will allow the treaty to come into effect. [...]
By EMILY BACKUS
MILAN, Italy (AP) -- Western Europe might actually get colder as a result of global warming, because the melting Arctic ice cap is cooling off the warm ocean current that is largely responsible for Europe's mild weather, scientists and environmentalists said.
If the ice cap in Greenland and the Arctic continues to melt at its current rate, Europe's temperatures would take a sharp dip after five or more decades of increasingly warm weather. That turnaround could spell trouble for regions that by then will have adapted to more tropical conditions, the experts told reporters Friday at a U.N. climate change conference here. [...]
Bamber also said that in the next five years, Europe could expect increasingly hazardous conditions in the Alps. Last summer was the first ever that the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc were closed for fear of rocks loosened by melted ice and snow.
And during Europe's record heat wave this summer, 10 percent of the "permanent" ice in the Italian Alps melted away, said Damiano Di Simine, president of the Italian chapter of the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps.
He told reporters that 53 billion cubic feet of fresh water had been lost, a resource critical to northern Italy's water-intensive crops, like rice.
"But every year we lose large quotas of water, between 5 and 10 percent of the Alpine ice, so within about 20 or 30 years, well lose it all," he said.
Earlier this week, the United Nations Environment Program issued a report saying that global warming was threatening the world's ski resorts, with melting snow at lower altitudes forcing the sport to move higher and higher up mountains, and threatening to make downhill skiing disappear altogether at some resorts. [...]
"The hardest and most fundamental problem to be overcome is the U.S. at present," Hare said. "And unless and until the U.S. starts to move, everyone else will be that much slower."
He is being called by an ex-intelligence spy who is challenging a Ministry of Defence attempt to silence him.
Freddie Scappaticci, who denies being the Army agent Stakeknife, has also been summonsed by Sam Rosenfeld, 41, who once worked undercover gathering intelligence on the IRA in Ulster and the Republic.
Outside the Royal Courts of Justice, he said: "I want the truth. It's time the truth about all this collusion was known."
The case is due to be heard on December 17.
Sir John is in charge of the marathon inquiry into allegations of collusion between the security forces and republican and loyalist paramilitaries, and has confirmed he is to question an agent known as Stakeknife. They have yet to meet. [...]
Henry McDonald, Ireland
A British Army agent has been threatened with imprisonment for writing to the Queen about security force collusion with terrorists in Northern Ireland.
English businessman Sam Rosenfeld spied on republicans for the Army's secretive Force Research Unit between 1990 and 1993. The 41-year-old builder worked his way into the company of IRA and republican dissidents in the Fermanagh and Tyrone areas during the early 1990s.
But he has since turned on his FRU handlers and taken them to the High Court in London, claiming that he was abandoned by Army intelligence officers. He also alleges he has devastating information about collusion between the FRU, loyalists and agents inside the IRA, who were allowed to murder in order to protect their cover.
The Ministry of Defence has now threatened Rosenfeld with two court injunctions to stop him going public about his work for FRU in the Irish border region.
He received his latest injunction order last Thursday, when MoD officials left court papers at his door. But Rosenfeld claims the most bizarre threat so far has been in the form of a threat to jail him for writing to the Queen about his case.
'I decided to write to the Queen because she is the Head of State, the upholder of our constitution. I wanted to tell that her armed forces in Northern Ireland were allowing murders to take place, letting their agents kill with impunity. That was 1 June 2002. Ten days after my letter, I had an invitation from the MoD to visit them. The threats to have me jailed are because of my letters to the Queen exposing collusion,' he said yesterday. [...]
A report due out next week set to reveal the hidden hand behind one of Ireland’s worst terror atrocities
Mackay, Home Affairs Editor
BRITAIN is faced with being blamed for colluding with loyalist terrorists this week in the worst single atrocity in the history of the Irish Troubles – the Dublin and Monaghan bombings which took place in May 1974 and claimed the lives of 33 people and injured 240.
A report by Justice Henry Barron on the bombings has already been seen by the Irish Cabinet and Taoiseach, and has been forwarded to the Irish parliamentary Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights. It will be published by the committee on Wednesday this week.
The Irish government says there will be minimum alterations to the report but some names will be deleted. The findings of the report are likely to be massively damaging to diplomatic relations between the UK and the Irish republic.
Dr David Whitehouse
En route to Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft has caught another glimpse of the ringed planet that is growing more detailed with time.
The spectacular image was taken on 9 November when the spacecraft was 111 million kilometres (69 million miles) from the planet.
It shows details in the rings and atmosphere not seen in its last image taken a year ago, as well as five of Saturn's icy moons.
Newly-discovered asteroid 2003 XJ7 flew past Earth on Dec. 6th only 150,000 km away (less than half the distance to the Moon). At closest approach, the 20-meter wide space rock was about as bright as a 13th magnitude star and an easy target for backyard telescopes. It is fading quickly, however, as it recedes from Earth. By Dec. 8th, the brightness of 2003 XJ7 will plummet to 23rd magnitude--practically undetectable.
Serving as space-age sleuths tracking spy satellites high above Earth, a band of sky-watchers scattered around the globe are offering their insights into a clandestine cargo launched Tuesday atop an Atlas rocket from California.
Linked by the Internet, the hobbyists eagerly awaited the launch ever since a similar rocket mission in 2001 resulted in something highly unexpected. [...]
DJ's mummified body found behind wall in
This week, police found the mummified body of Eduardo Sanchez entombed behind a wall in the basement of the popular nightclub, 14 months after he was last seen alive.
While the case is reminiscent of an Edgar Allan Poe story, police say there was no foul play in the 21-year-old's death, just the lingering question of what exactly he was doing behind the wall where he became trapped and died. [...]
Twenty-one white rats have competed in the 19th annual Xtreme Rat Challenge.
The event, formerly known as the Rat Olympics, was held at the Nebraska Wesleyan University in the US.
Hundreds of people turned out to see the rodents compete in five events - hurdles, long jump, rope climb, tightrope walk and weightlifting.
began in 1974. The university was forced to change its original
name after it was threatened with a lawsuit from the US Olympic
Remember, we need your help to collect information on what is going on in your part of the world!
We also need help to keep the Signs of the Times online.
Check out the Signs of the Times Archives
Fair Use Policy
Contact Webmaster at signs-of-the-times.org