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 12, 2003
The last couple of days, we have deliberately focused on historical fact that the US has been on a campaign of misery and death across the planet for years. 9/11 and Bush's involvement in that terrorist act did not occur in a vacuum, but was merely following a long running precedent. The Bush Reich may have "upped the ante" by bringing the terrorism closer to home, but they are using the same tactics super powers have always used. To deny the historical facts, or to justify them for some obscure cruel reason, is proof of ignorance. With the information easily available, and the multitude of voices asking us to see, that blindness to truth, and trust in belief, requires an act of will - or lack of a soul.
Today, yet another statement of Bush's involvement in 9/11 is labeled as "hate speech".
If there were any question about the US/UK relationship, today's story that the British army is 100% dependent on the US makes it clear. The US war on terror claims are shown up for they lies they are, Mossad and the FBI respect no international boundaries in their torturous war on imaginary terrorists, France offers a vote of no confidence in the US' ability to fairly govern the internet, at least on its own, and Iraq really was about the oil, at least in part.
Today, we post the Nobel lecture by Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize winner. The media wrote her speech off quickly, stating in headlines that she was "taking a swipe at the US". We don't read it as taking a swipe. Even if she is, she is an equal-opportunity giver of "swipes", also taking to task fundamentalist Muslims. It appears from her speech that she is an advocate of free will, and it is highly recommended reading.
There is something about the name "Mohamed" that riles up US police and secret service agents. They hear the name and out come the handcuffs. We wonder why?
The rich and infamous in Washington convince themselves that all is going well in Iraq when an Iraqi symphony comes there to play. Congress pushes for a larger military. A flu outbreak is "widespread" in 24 states as the country breaks out a vaccine reserve held for the CDC. One school in Connecticut closes for two days as one third of the student body and many teachers are hit by flu-like symptoms. By popular request, we have prepared a Signs Supplement on the flu threat.
Negotiations have started in breaking the stalemate over the EU constitution. Would you trust Tony Blair as the "moderator" in the middle?
Nobel Lecture, Oslo, December 10, 2003
In the name of the God of Creation and Wisdom
Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Honourable Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I feel extremely honoured that today my voice is reaching the people of the world from this distinguished venue. This great honour has been bestowed upon me by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. I salute the spirit of Alfred Nobel and hail all true followers of his path.
This year, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a woman from Iran, a Muslim country in the Middle East.
Undoubtedly, my selection will be an inspiration to the masses of women who are striving to realize their rights, not only in Iran but throughout the region - rights taken away from them through the passage of history. This selection will make women in Iran, and much further afield, believe in themselves. Women constitute half of the population of every country. To disregard women and bar them from active participation in political, social, economic and cultural life would in fact be tantamount to depriving the entire population of every society of half its capability. The patriarchal culture and the discrimination against women, particularly in the Islamic countries, cannot continue for ever.
Honourable members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee!
As you are aware, the honour and blessing of this prize will have a positive and far-reaching impact on the humanitarian and genuine endeavours of the people of Iran and the region. The magnitude of this blessing will embrace every freedom-loving and peace-seeking individual, whether they are women or men.
I thank the Norwegian Nobel Committee for this honour that has been bestowed upon me and for the blessing of this honour for the peace-loving people of my country.
Today coincides with the 55th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a declaration which begins with the recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, as the guarantor of freedom, justice and peace. And it promises a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of expression and opinion, and be safeguarded and protected against fear and poverty.
Unfortunately, however, this year's report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as in the previous years, spells out the rise of a disaster which distances mankind from the idealistic world of the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2002, almost 1.2 billion human beings lived in glaring poverty, earning less than one dollar a day. Over 50 countries were caught up in war or natural disasters. AIDS has so far claimed the lives of 22 million individuals, and turned 13 million children into orphans.
At the same time, in the past two years, some states have violated the universal principles and laws of human rights by using the events of 11 September and the war on international terrorism as a pretext. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/219, of 18 December 2002, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1456, of 20 January 2003, and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2003/68, of 25 April 2003, set out and underline that all states must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism must comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights and humanitarian law. However, regulations restricting human rights and basic freedoms, special bodies and extraordinary courts, which make fair adjudication difficult and at times impossible, have been justified and given legitimacy under the cloak of the war on terrorism.
The concerns of human rights' advocates increase when they observe that international human rights laws are breached not only by their recognized opponents under the pretext of cultural relativity, but that these principles are also violated in Western democracies, in other words countries which were themselves among the initial codifiers of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is in this framework that, for months, hundreds of individuals who were arrested in the course of military conflicts have been imprisoned in Guantanamo, without the benefit of the rights stipulated under the international Geneva conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the [United Nations] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Moreover, a question which millions of citizens in the international civil society have been asking themselves for the past few years, particularly in recent months, and continue to ask, is this: why is it that some decisions and resolutions of the UN Security Council are binding, while some other resolutions of the council have no binding force? Why is it that in the past 35 years, dozens of UN resolutions concerning the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel have not been implemented promptly, yet, in the past 12 years, the state and people of Iraq, once on the recommendation of the Security Council, and the second time, in spite of UN Security Council opposition, were subjected to attack, military assault, economic sanctions, and, ultimately, military occupation?
Ladies and Gentlemen, Allow me to say a little about my country, region, culture and faith.
I am an Iranian. A descendent of Cyrus The Great. The very emperor who proclaimed at the pinnacle of power 2500 years ago that "... he would not reign over the people if they did not wish it." And [he] promised not to force any person to change his religion and faith and guaranteed freedom for all. The Charter of Cyrus The Great is one of the most important documents that should be studied in the history of human rights.
I am a Muslim. In the Koran the Prophet of Islam has been cited as saying: "Thou shalt believe in thine faith and I in my religion". That same divine book sees the mission of all prophets as that of inviting all human beings to uphold justice. Since the advent of Islam, too, Iran's civilization and culture has become imbued and infused with humanitarianism, respect for the life, belief and faith of others, propagation of tolerance and compromise and avoidance of violence, bloodshed and war. The luminaries of Iranian literature, in particular our Gnostic literature, from Hafiz, Mowlavi [better known in the West as Rumi] and Attar to Saadi, Sanaei, Naser Khosrow and Nezami, are emissaries of this humanitarian culture. Their message manifests itself in this poem by Saadi:
The people of Iran have been battling against consecutive conflicts between tradition and modernity for over 100 years. By resorting to ancient traditions, some have tried and are trying to see the world through the eyes of their predecessors and to deal with the problems and difficulties of the existing world by virtue of the values of the ancients. But, many others, while respecting their historical and cultural past and their religion and faith, seek to go forth in step with world developments and not lag behind the caravan of civilization, development and progress. The people of Iran, particularly in the recent years, have shown that they deem participation in public affairs to be their right, and that they want to be masters of their own destiny.
This conflict is observed not merely in Iran, but also in many Muslim states. Some Muslims, under the pretext that democracy and human rights are not compatible with Islamic teachings and the traditional structure of Islamic societies, have justified despotic governments, and continue to do so. In fact, it is not so easy to rule over a people who are aware of their rights, using traditional, patriarchal and paternalistic methods.
Islam is a religion whose first sermon to the Prophet begins with the word "Recite!" The Koran swears by the pen and what it writes. Such a sermon and message cannot be in conflict with awareness, knowledge, wisdom, freedom of opinion and expression and cultural pluralism.
The discriminatory plight of women in Islamic states, too, whether in the sphere of civil law or in the realm of social, political and cultural justice, has its roots in the patriarchal and male-dominated culture prevailing in these societies, not in Islam. This culture does not tolerate freedom and democracy, just as it does not believe in the equal rights of men and women, and the liberation of women from male domination (fathers, husbands, brothers ...), because it would threaten the historical and traditional position of the rulers and guardians of that culture.
One has to say to those who have mooted the idea of a clash of civilizations, or prescribed war and military intervention for this region, and resorted to social, cultural, economic and political sluggishness of the South in a bid to justify their actions and opinions, that if you consider international human rights laws, including the nations' right to determine their own destinies, to be universal, and if you believe in the priority and superiority of parliamentary democracy over other political systems, then you cannot think only of your own security and comfort, selfishly and contemptuously. A quest for new means and ideas to enable the countries of the South, too, to enjoy human rights and democracy, while maintaining their political independence and territorial integrity of their respective countries, must be given top priority by the United Nations in respect of future developments and international relations.
The decision by the Nobel Peace Committee to award the 2003 prize to me, as the first Iranian and the first woman from a Muslim country, inspires me and millions of Iranians and nationals of Islamic states with the hope that our efforts, endeavours and struggles toward the realization of human rights and the establishment of democracy in our respective countries enjoy the support, backing and solidarity of international civil society. This prize belongs to the people of Iran. It belongs to the people of the Islamic states, and the people of the South for establishing human rights and democracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen
In the introduction to my speech, I spoke of human rights as a guarantor of freedom, justice and peace. If human rights fail to be manifested in codified laws or put into effect by states, then, as rendered in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human beings will be left with no choice other than staging a "rebellion against tyranny and oppression". A human being divested of all dignity, a human being deprived of human rights, a human being gripped by starvation, a human being beaten by famine, war and illness, a humiliated human being and a plundered human being is not in any position or state to recover the rights he or she has lost.
If the 21st century wishes to free itself from the cycle of violence, acts of terror and war, and avoid repetition of the experience of the 20th century - that most disaster-ridden century of humankind, there is no other way except by understanding and putting into practice every human right for all mankind, irrespective of race, gender, faith, nationality or social status.
In anticipation of that day.
With much gratitude
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)--An award-winning drawing blaming President Bush for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was pulled from a small-town exhibit over "insurance issues" after a businessman withdrew his $300 prize and called the piece a form of "hate speech."
Artist Chuck Bowden's drawing, "The Tactics of Tyrants Are Always Transparent," won second place in the Redwood Art Association's annual fall exhibit, held earlier this month in Eureka, Calif. In the 11-inch-by-14-inch drawing, a crown and halo-topped Bush stands on a grave, his hand dripping with blood as bodies fall to the ground from the World Trade Center towers in the distance.
Bowden called it a tribute to those who lost their lives in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, and he acknowledged the piece was meant to place blame for the attacks squarely on the shoulders of the president.
But the work upset at least one sponsor. After Bowden's piece was deemed the second place winner by the lone judge, it was quietly bubble-wrapped and stuffed into a closet while 193 other works were prepared for the exhibit's public opening.
"They shouldn't call it 'open to art,'" Bowden said of the contest's original call for entries. "They should call it, 'open to Republican art' or 'open to closed-minded art.'" [...]
Friday 12 December
This has led critics to ask whether officials exaggerated their successes in the first place.
They highlight examples such as the cases of "dirty bomber" suspect Jose Padilla, Muslim Guantanamo Bay chaplain James Yee, a controversial colour-coded terror alert system and a foreigner registration scheme - all of which have fizzled to some extent since they were announced with much fanfare.
Critics also cite widespread investigations and large numbers of arrests in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks which led to few convictions.
"Certainly I believe that the administration is very good at press conferences and messages with respect to homeland security," Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a California Democrat on the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Homeland Security, said. "Much of it has been fluff, in my opinion.
Comment: The "War on Terror" serves to justify the Bush Reich's foreign expansion policies. It serves to strike fear into US citizens, rendering them mute and passive supporters of the murderous policies of their Fearless Leader. It is the endless war, the justification for eternal militarization.
Thursday 11 December 2003, 23:12 Makka Time, 20:12 GMT
Three hundred Iraqi army recruits have resigned from the first battalion set up by US occupation forces.
Only 400 soldiers are left on Thursday, following the mass walkout over terrible pay and conditions.
Salaries in the new army range from $50 a month to $180 for a colonel, a US occupation administration source said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official also confirmed there had been discipline problems – with some recruits refusing to obey instructions before resigning.
Comment: Yesterday it was about a third of the troops that had quit.
Wednesday 10 December 2003, 17:20 Makka Time, 14:20 GMT
Trumpeted as a unifying highpoint in US-Iraq relations, the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra has played before President George Bush and other Washington VIPs.
Iraqi musicians appeared to relish the chance of pulling a
"Tonight we also welcome the re-entry of Iraqi culture onto the world stage," US Secretary of State Colin Powell told hundreds of Washington grandees who had been allocated tickets to the sought-after gala.
He described the evening's concert which featured several original Iraqi compositions as "a symbol of normal life returning to the people of Iraq."
Comment: Ah, it is important that the rich can get their culture, important that their thoughts can turn away, if only for a moment, from the heavy responsibility of the butchery of civilians, the handing out of plunder, uh, contracts, to their cronies, and the exploitation of an entire people to seek solace and rest in the musical arts. Of course, the victims themselves might prefer something other than a "symbolic" return of "normal life," especially when this "return" takes places thousands of miles away in the heart of the occupying force. Symbolic, indeed.
12, 1:10 AM ET
The New York-based watchdog group said its research in Iraq between April 29 and June 1 in 10 cities was not intended to find out the number of civilian casualties but to focus on military tactics that caused them.
It said that while U.S.-led forces took precautions to spare civilians and uphold the legal obligations of warfare, different military practices in the ground war, the air war and the post-conflict period could have prevented civilian deaths. [...]
Comment: It is quite telling that a human rights watchdog group was not interested in discovering the number of civilian casualties. From other stories we have featured on the Signs page, it appears the real civilian death toll is at least ten times higher - and that doesn't include the hideous long-term effects of DU munitions on both Iraqi and American civilians.
Squitieri, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Members of Congress from both parties are pushing for the first significant increase in the size of the active-duty military in 16 years, despite resistance from the Pentagon.
Call-ups of part-time troops from the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve to fill the ranks in Iraq have intensified the bipartisan sentiment that the Pentagon doesn't have enough troops to fight an extended war on terrorism while keeping enough well-rested, well-trained troops ready for an emergency.
"Momentum is building in Congress for" an increase, says Harald Stavenas, a spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "Finally, everyone has come around to see enough is enough." [...]
Generates Criticism and Skepticism
The Hamburg court’s decision to release suspected 9/11 accomplice Abelghani Mzoudi, the man accused of involvement in the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and only the second person in the world to stand trial over the attacks, has drawn criticism and skepticism from authority figures involved in the investigation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.
[...] The decision was expected to infuriate the U.S. which previously praised the Germans for their work in the investigation into the Hamburg cell and their wider work in the "war on terror." However, when U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft was asked at a news conference about the Hamburg decision, he resisted the urge to condemn, choosing only to express his concern about the decision and to insist it would not jeopardize the prosecution of Moussaoui.
"I am disappointed this case in Germany has taken the turn it has taken," Ashcroft said. "Our system is literally constructed so that when we encounter a circumstance like they encountered in Germany, there are ways in which that is ...resolved at a higher level."
"We believe our system can work and work effectively, and we're proceeding forward on that basis," he added.
Comment: Yes, we saw how this system worked during the elections in 2000.
Younge in New York
An Arab-American waiter who reported for work at a presidential fundraiser last Friday was sent home because the US secret service believed he posed a security risk.
Mohamad Pharoan, a Syrian-born Muslim who entered the US in 1992 and became a citizen in 1996, was supposed to serve lunch at a banquet where George Bush raised $1m (£575,000) for his re-election campaign. He was escorted from the Hyatt Regency hotel in Baltimore, where he has worked for seven years, after just one question from a manager: "Is your name Mohamad?"
After initially denying involvement, the secret service admitted it was responsible for sending Mr Pharoan home. The decision was not taken because he was Arab or Muslim, it said. A spokesman said: "The problems stemmed from confusion over a work schedule."
Mr Pharoan said the rota had been distributed a week in advance and his name had been supplied to the authorities for background checks.
Friday December 12, 2003 10:46 AM
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The man arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of associating with al-Qaida has been identified as a Canadian citizen and college student of Somali descent, a newspaper reported.
The man arrested Tuesday was Mohammed A. Warsame, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reported on its Web site early Friday, citing law enforcement officials who requested anonymity.
PHOENIX (AP) - Face-scanning technology designed to recognize registered sex offenders and missing children has been installed in a Phoenix school in a pilot project that some law enforcement and education officials hope to expand.
Two cameras, which are expected to be operational next week, will scan faces of people who enter the office at Royal Palm Middle School. They are linked to state and national databases of sex offenders, missing children and alleged abductors.
An officer will be dispatched to the school in the event of a possible match, said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
"If it works one time, locates one missing child or saves a child from a sexual attack, I feel it's worth it,'' said Arpaio, a tough-talking sheriff who has previously gained notoriety for his chain gangs and prison-issued pink underwear.
Rights Group Probes US FBI,
Israeli Mossad Torture Claims
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is investigating claims that the US Federal Bureau of Investigations and Israel's Mossad agents are torturing Kenyan terrorism suspects.
KNCHR Chairman, Mr Maina
Kiai, said they had received complaints over handling of suspects
arrested mostly in Mombasa by the foreign agents.
Kiai said that it would be a delegation of a paramount duty to foreigners. He said US agents are known to torture suspects outside their homeland.
He said the agents move suspects to secret locations in other countries, where they are allegedly tortured to confess to allegations put to them. He added that the agents have no authority to arrest in foreign land.
Today Press Office of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (CRI) released a statement that the blast near Hotel National in Moscow was organized by Russian secret services. "Terrorism in Russia is organized and directed by Russian secret services and military intelligence for propaganda purposes."
The statement by CRI Foreign Ministry concerning today's events says: "It is true that Russian secret services are committing terrorist acts in Russia and other places; they are using their agents of Chechen ethnic background, but they are not succeeding in blaming the responsibility on the Chechen people and on the Government of Chechnya for the grave crimes that the Kremlin commits." [...]
Comment: Also see the article, 'Reichstag' to be set on fire? Seeing through the state-sponsored terrorism the author, Ruslan Isakov for Kavkaz-Center, "cynically" reports:
Perhaps cynical is not the right word. Many confuse the state of cynicism with stating the truth, and bandy the word around like a slur to drown out some bit of truth they desire not to hear.
Our professors have joked about it. We joke about it with our friends. But it's just a joke, a relic from the "bad old days." The draft is gone forever, isn't it? Think again...
Pentagon officials say the firm is not alleged to have profited from the overcharging, but it may have paid a local sub-contractor too much for fuel.
They said the Pentagon was working with KBR to resolve the fuel-pricing issue.
One defence official was quoted as saying there was no reason to believe the problems were anything other than "stupid mistakes" by the firm.
However, the BBC's Nick Childs at the Pentagon says it is being treated as an issue of serious concern.
The Pentagon also said the firm had been planning to charge $67m too much for another contract to supply cafeteria services.
The controversy comes at a difficult time for the Bush administration, which is under fire for limiting bids on a new round of Iraq contracts to countries which supported the US-led war there, says our correspondent.
Two Democrat congressmen raised questions about the prices Halliburton charges in October.
One of them, Henry Waxman of California, reportedly obtained government documents showing that Halliburton is charging an average of $2.64 per gallon to import fuel from Kuwait - more than twice as much as others are paying for Kuwaiti fuel.
The New York Times reported that Halliburton was receiving 26 cents a gallon for "overhead and fee," according to the Army Corps of Engineers.
An oil economist told the newspaper that was "a monopoly premium".
"I've never seen anything like it in my life," Phil Verleger, president of the consulting firm PK Verleger, told the newspaper.
Halliburton says that the dangers of transporting oil to Iraq make it necessary to charge high prices.
Halliburton was awarded a contract - for which it did not have to compete against other firms - to rebuild Iraq's oil industry.
The company has received $2bn in work since it was given the contract in March, the Reuters news agency reports.
Some of the fuel payments to Halliburton come out of the Development Fund for Iraq which is meant to pay for humanitarian efforts in the country.
Comment: This last sentence says it all...
Monday, December 8th, 2003
Dear Mr. Bush,
Well, it's going on two weeks now since your surprise visit to one of the two countries you now run and, I have to say, I'm still warmed by the gesture. Man, take me along next time! I understand only 13 members of the media went with you -- and it turns out only ONE of them was an actual reporter for a newspaper. But you did take along FIVE photographers (hey, I get it, screw the words, it's all about the pictures!), a couple wire service guys, and a crew from the Fox News Channel (fair and balanced!).
Then, I read in the paper this weekend that that big turkey you were holding in Baghdad (you know, the picture that's supposed to replace the now-embarrassing footage of you on that aircraft carrier with the sign "Mission Accomplished") -- well, it turns out that big, beautiful turkey of yours was never eaten by the troops! It wasn't eaten by anyone! That's because it wasn't real! It was a STUNT turkey, brought in to look like a real edible turkey for all those great camera angles.
Now I know some people will say you are into props (like the one in the lower extremities of your flyboy suit), but hey, I get it, this is theater! So what if it was a bogus turkey? The whole trip was bogus, all staged to look like "news." The fake honey glaze on that bird wasn't much different from the fake honey glaze that covers this war. And the fake stuffing in the fake bird was just the right symbol for our country during these times. America loves fake honey glaze, it loves to be stuffed, and, dammit, YOU knew that -- that's what makes you so in touch with the people you lead!
It was also a good idea that you made the "press" on that trip to Baghdad pull the shades down on the plane. No one in the media entourage complained. They like the shades pulled and they like to be kept in the dark. It's more fun that way. And, when you made them take the batteries out of their cell phones so they wouldn't be able to call anyone, and they dutifully complied -- that was genius! I think if you had told them to put their hands on their heads and touch their noses with their tongues, they would have done that, too! That's how much they like you. You could have played "Simon Says" the whole way over there. It wouldn't have been that much different from "Karl Says," a game they LOVE to play every day with Mr. Rove.
Well, if you're planning any surprises for Christmas, don't forget to include me. When I heard last week that you wanted to send a man back to the moon, I thought, get the fake goose ready -- that's where ol' George is going for the holidays! I don't blame you, what with nearly 3 million jobs disappeared, and a $281 billion surplus disappeared, and the USA stuck in a war that will never end -- who wouldn't want to go to the moon! This time, take ALL the media with you! Embed them on the moon! They'll love it there! It looks just like Crawford! You can golf on the moon, too. You'll have so much fun up there, you might not want to come back. Better take Cheney with you, too. Pretend it's a medical experiment or something. "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for every American who's sick and tired of all this crap."
Gethin Chamberlain Defence
BRITAIN is no longer capable of launching a major military action against another nation state without the help of the United States, the government conceded yesterday.
The admission, in the long-awaited defence white paper, coincided with the publication of a damning report on the handling of the war in Iraq and an accusation from the chairman of an influential Commons committee that British troops in Iraq had been "shamefully let down" by the government.
The report, published by the National Audit Office (NAO), described the campaign in Iraq as a significant military success but lambasted the government for sending troops into combat without adequate equipment, including weapons, ammunition, body armour and medical supplies.
The findings were described by Edward Leigh, the chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, as an "outrage".
"We expect the men and women of the armed forces to fight and maybe die for us. So it is an outrage that they could not expect all of the proper equipment, protection and even clothing to do the job we ask of them. They were shamefully let down," he said. [...]
But the white paper did indicate a drastic reappraisal of the country’s military capabilities. Britain, it said, could never again mount an independent campaign against another nation state.
"The most demanding expeditionary operations, involving intervention against state adversaries, can only plausibly be conducted if US forces are engaged, either leading a coalition or in NATO," it said.
"The significant military contribution the UK is able to make to such operations means that we secure an effective place in the political and military decision-making processes.
"To exploit this effectively, our armed forces will need to be inter-operable with US command and control structures, match the US operational tempo and provide those capabilities that deliver the greatest impact when operating alongside the US."
The first changes will see the army’s three heavy brigades cut to two, and the creation of a new light brigade.
Addressing the Commons, Mr Hoon said that in future, the emphasis would be on using technology to deliver the maximum military effect. He warned that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the threat posed by international terrorists, coupled with the consequences of failed or failing states, presented Britain with very real and immediate challenges.
European Union leaders have begun a crucial summit in Brussels on the organisation's new constitution, with the issue of voting rights to the fore.
Heads of state and government must reconcile the constitution with accords reached at a summit in 2000.
Spain and Poland have been resisting the loss of substantial voting powers promised them at the Nice meeting.
But the summit began with a major investment deal for the EU as it prepares to gain 10 new members in May.
[...] The new constitution, drafted over 17 months by a special convention, tries to redress the balance by introducing a "double majority" system of voting - seen to favour big states like Britain, France and Germany.
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has threatened to veto the new constitution if his country's votes are reduced.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who met him in Berlin, remarked that: "One cannot become a member of the European Union and want to start this membership with a veto."
Mr Blair is expected to insist on retaining the national veto in key policy areas such as taxation, legal systems, social security provisions and budgets.
Another contentious issue raised by Poland is the lack of any mention in the constitution of Europe's specifically Christian heritage and values.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's landmark summit to agree a first constitution was plunged into gloom almost as soon as it began on Friday as leaders stood their ground in a bitter battle over their nations' voting rights.
A last-ditch meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to seek a way out of the impasse brought "no breakthrough, no real movement," diplomats said. [...]
Tony Blair is meeting his European counterparts on Friday for what he says will be the start of "tough negotiation" on the EU constitution.
The prime minister arrived in Brussels armed with the "red line" issues on national sovereignty over which he has vowed the UK will not cross.
But Mr Blair said the decisions taken on the constitution had to be right for Europe as well as Britain.
Stephen Castle and Andrew Grice in Brussels
As Europe's leaders arrived in Brussels last night for their most difficult negotiations for years, the air was thick with threat and counter-threat. But there was agreement on one thing: Europe faces a long-delayed moment of truth.
At stake is not just the text of the European Union's first ever constitution but the future of a continent. Can it forge ahead together or will the EU split again, as it did so bitterly over war in Iraq? This morning the leaders of the EU's 15 present and 10 future member states find themselves staring over the precipice.
[...] Would a failure to agree matter? The answer is an emphatic yes.
From Germany and France come growing threats that, without a deal, they will create an inner core of countries dedicated to closer integration.Were this to happen it would be the ultimate failure of Mr Blair's strategy of "positive engagement" in the EU. For him the stakes are high today. The UK has its own "red lines" on keeping the national veto on tax and foreign policy.
What is needed this weekend is a spirit of compromise.
Comment: The Bushist lapdogs will do everything they can to scuttle the plans of France and Germany.
Stephen Castle in Brussels
Britain, France and Germany finally overcame US objections last night and struck a deal on European Union defence, ending months of wrangling over whether Europe's new military co-operation will rival Nato.
Under the agreement, the EU will be able to have an autonomous military planning capability, but that will not become a standing headquarters. The deal had been held up for days because of reservations from Washington which feared that such an arrangement might rival and undermine the transatlantic Nato alliance.
But tensions over the project began to subside last week when the hawkish US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, avoided criticising the plan. Washington is believed to be broadly supportive of the plan.
Berlusconi confident new EU defence plan will
'please' hostile US
European Union leaders Friday finalised independent defence plans inspired by Britain, France and Germany that officials said would finally win round a suspicious United States and NATO.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the latest version of the plans would now "please" Washington, whose fears of Europe's military direction were heightened by the vocal opposition of some EU nations to the war in Iraq. [...]
The latest version of the accord proposed by the EU's Italian presidency foresees setting up a unit linking EU military officers, who would be responsible for planning and carrying out independent operations. [...]
LONDON (Reuters) - The dollar hit 11-year lows against the pound and eyed record lows against the euro on Friday, as looming U.S. trade data focused attention on the United States' wide current account deficit. [...]
Azmi Bishara Al-Hayat 2003/12/11
If the dialogue over a truce between Palestinians and Israelis is genuine, then it must contain elements of mutuality and compel both parties to abide by the rules of this ceasefire. And if Israel, which is the strongest in this equation as well as the occupying force, does not contribute in the dialogue of ceasefire, then this truce will not be implemented on the ground.
Nobody can negotiate with Israel, and Israel negotiates with no one over the rules of truce, and it is proud of this. Thus, there is no real dialogue of truce and it is the right of Palestinians to choose efficient means of struggle and avoid useless ones.
Recently, the head of the Zionist regime’s Regional Settlements Council, Benhas Valerystein, warned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon against dismantling the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. He said if Sharon attempts to remove the settlements he will wage a war against the regime.
Valerystein told Radio Israel that dismantling the settlements is not acceptable under any condition.
The Zionist official made these remarks after some of the residents of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip visited Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to discuss the future of the settlements.
In this regard, the secretary general of the Jewish Settlements Council, Ze’evi Liberman, said that the decision to dismantle the settlements would be a violation of Sharon’s earlier pledge to legalize the settlements that have been constructed over the past ten years in the territories occupied in 1967.
According to an Israeli peace activist, the Zionist regime’s policy on settlements is just a ruse in which settlements are dismantled and then reconstructed.
In fact, some 400 Jewish settlements have been constructed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since the Zionist regime occupied the area in 1967.
The population of the settlements is estimated to be about 500,000. Most of the heavily subsidized settlers are armed and are regarded as the Zionist gendarmes of the outposts in the occupied lands.
Actually, most of the settlers are agents of the Israeli security and intelligence services who attack Palestinians while pretending to be ordinary people.
As a matter of fact, the settlements function as the Zionists’ forward bases during military actions against the Palestinians.
However, according to the 1993 Oslo Accords, all the settlements should have been removed by 2001, but the Zionist regime not only refused to do so, but actually doubled the number of settlements over the past eight years.
The settlers are so powerful that the Zionist prime minister makes no decisions on the future of the settlements without consulting them. About half of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) members have very close ties and relations with the settlers. Some Israeli MPs are settlers themselves and strongly support the expansion of the settlements.
At the end of the day, the Zionist regime is unwilling to remove the settlements because it uses them as a pressure lever in its dealings with the Palestinian Authority as well as in international political haggling.
In reality, due to vast government subsidies and huge investments, the settlements have become a powerful government within the Zionist government and a cancerous tumor in Palestine.
By Hamid Golpira
Adults go to war and little children suffer. This is the reality of the world we live in.
In the latest incidents, 15 children were killed in Afghanistan during the past week. Nine children were killed on Saturday when the U.S. military bombed a house in Ghazni province. A Taleban leader, who appears to have escaped, was the intended target. Six children were also killed by U.S. troops during an attack on a complex in Paktia province on Friday.
The United States has announced that it is investigating the incidents and the United Nations has called for inquiries, but the rest of the world hardly noticed what happened. People are becoming desensitized to violence.
War children are some of the most oppressed and most forgotten people on Earth. They suffer in silence. War orphans are left to fend for themselves.
The nature of war has changed drastically over the past 100 years. In the beginning of the 20th century, 90 percent of the people killed in wars were soldiers and only 10 percent were civilians. In most modern wars, 90 percent of the people killed are civilians and only 10 percent are soldiers. How did this come about? Is this deliberate genocide? The war on children definitely is genocide by any definition of the term. When warring parties take no precautions to prevent civilian casualties and use dehumanizing expressions like “collateral damage” to describe the killing of children, what else can one call it?
Violence and war are more psychologically damaging for children than for adults. This fact alone should convince all moral people that something must be done about this problem.
And now there is a new phenomenon, the child soldier. Children as young as 8 years old are forced to carry weapons, fight in battles, and commit atrocities in conflicts around the world.
Children are even being harmed before they are born and before they are conceived through the use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons, which cause genetic damage and birth defects. And the world is silent, for the most part. Who will stand up for the war children?
The powers that be implement their grand strategy. And the little children suffer.
Pakistani nuclear scientist freed after
Pakistani authorities Friday sent home one of two nuclear scientists who had reportedly been detained since early this month, saying they had finished "debriefing" the man. [...]
Yasin Chohan, a laboratory director at the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) uranium enrichment facility, returned home Friday morning, an associate of Chohan's family told AFP.
Chohan and KRL director Farooq Muhammad were taken from their homes early December and held for questioning, according to opposition politicians and local news reports.
Some reports quoted witnesses saying Caucasian men wearing bulletproof jackets took them from their homes, triggering accusations that United States intelligence agencies were involved.
Pakistani officials denied the pair were in custody, saying they were merely undergoing "personnel dependability and debriefing programs."
The Bush administration has reached new depths of pettiness with its decision to reserve Iraqi reconstruction contracts for companies from countries that supported the US-led invasion. As though Washington’s relations with several of its most important allies had not already suffered sufficient damage, this move can only serve to entrench the differences. Instead of taking steps to repair its ties with such key partners as France and Germany, the White House seems determined to widen and prolong an unnecessary rift that can only be detrimental to its own interests.
Friday 12 December 2003
Britain's Home Secretary David Blunkett is considering resigning from Amnesty International, of which he has been a member for 20 years, after the human rights group criticised new anti-terrorism legislation he has introduced.
As Home Secretary, Blunkett has been responsible for tightening security against possible violence following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Blunkett said he is considering leaving the London-based group on Thursday.
Amnesty said British emergency internment laws introduced in the wake of September 11 were a “perversion of justice.”
“This legislation has created a Guantanamo Bay in our own backyard," said Kate Allen, Amnesty's director for Britain, referring to the US military base in Cuba where alleged al-Qaida and Taliban fighters are being held.
hard-hitting report, Amnesty said the emergency legislation adopted
by Britain had created a "shadow" criminal justice system for
foreigners suspected of being "terrorists".
Chrystia Freeland and Carola Hoyos in London and Arkady Ostrovsky
Yukos, the embattled Russian oil group, could demand as much as
$5bn in payments and compensation from Russian billionaire Roman
Abramovich, as he seeks to unravel his merger with the company,
according to a leading shareholder.
The demands could make it more difficult for the oligarch to sell his stake quickly to an international oil company.
Earlier this week, Mr Abramovich called a halt to the merger between Yukos and Sibneft, the smaller oil company he controls. But Leonid Nevzlin, the second largest Yukos shareholder and a close ally of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the jailed former head of the company, warned that Yukos shareholders would insist on favourable terms.
"We are in no hurry," Mr Nevzlin told the Financial Times. "If there is a deal to undo the merger it must be open, transparent and equally favourable or unfavourable to both the major and the minority shareholders of Yukos."
Friday 12 December 2003
Seven Jewish settlers are reported wounded after they defied Israeli military orders and travelled to an occupied religious site in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, at least three Palestinians have been wounded in clashes with Israeli occupation forces.
In a pre-dawn attack near the site known to Jewish groups as Joseph’s Tomb, Palestinian fighters opened fire and threw an explosive device at a vehicle carrying a group of settlers, Aljazeera’s correspondent reported on Friday.
The group comprised members of the Bratslav Hasidic sect, Israeli media said. They had reportedly entered the tomb along with other worshippers to pray at the site and were attacked as they left.
An earlier report said that one of the settlers had died.
Clashes later broke out between Israeli troops called into the area and local resistance fighters, the correspondent said, but there were no reports of casualties
At least two of the Jews were taken to hospital but the others were arrested for entering the Palestinian area without Israeli army authorisation, the Haaretz newspaper’s website said.
Bratslav Hasidic Jews often ignore military orders and sneak into the site of the tomb to hold prayers, it added.
West Bank settlers are among the most extreme Jews and move around heavily armed.
calls for UN to govern internet
"The information society offers new opportunities, but like all new technological revolutions it also brings uncertainty," Raffarin told the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society, the world's first such meeting.
"It calls on us to establish international rules, which citizens can rely on," said the premier.
"For France, the UN is the major source of international rights, which must ensure peace and development. That also concerns the information society," he insisted.
According to Raffarin, these international rules must cover technical questions - such as the attribution of web addresses and management of domain names - as well as the protection of intellectual property.
This would guarantee "network security" and "deal with content while respecting freedom (of expression)."
The United States and other countries argue that governance of the internet should be left in private hands, namely the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-12 12:39:15
NEW YORK, Dec. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- The construction of the first new tower building began Thursday at the site of the destruction of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks after a ceremonial first beam was installed for the new 7 World Trade Center.
WAGNER, Associated Press Writers
LAS VEGAS - With the flu now spread to all 50 states and nearly half of those considered hit hard, the government is scrambling to ship 100,000 vaccine doses to combat shortages, hoping to head off what could become one of the worst outbreaks in years.
The number of states with widespread infections nearly doubled to 24 in the past week, and the season has not yet peaked nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Worried parents are rushing to find shots even though many local health departments and doctor's offices are either out or about to run out of the vaccine. [...]
She found 300 people waiting to get the vaccine at her daughters' pediatrician's office Saturday, but couldn't endure the three-hour line. She later got the vaccine from her mother, who is a nurse. [...]
Comment: Ah, hysteria... Worried parents are stampeding to get their children injected with a dangerous vaccine that offers no protection against the latest strain spreading across the country.
Flu forces public school to
COLCHESTER, Conn. -- A public high school closed Thursday afternoon because of an apparent outbreak of the flu.
Bacon Academy in Colchester sent students home at 12:30 p.m.
School officials said about 300 students, more than one-third of the student body, and 17 faculty members called in sick Thursday with flu-like symptoms. That was up from 175 student absences Wednesday. Officials said the school will be closed Friday as well. [...]
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Federal health officials said Thursday they have procured an extra 250,000 doses of influenza vaccine to help ameliorate shortages in some regions of the country.
All of the additional vaccine came from Aventis Pasteur, the largest flu vaccine manufacturer in the United States.
Last week, Aventis, of Swiftwater, Pa., and its competitor, Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., announced they had exhausted their entire supply of vaccine. But Aventis had been holding onto a reserve of 250,000 doses explicitly for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. [...]
Super-bug kills 18 in
More than 20 hospitals have reported the presence of the super-bug - named Acinetobacter Baumanii - which causes breathing problems in patients already weakened by other illnesses and is unaffected by most forms of anti-biotic, the ministry said.
A total of 112 cases have been detected, but the number is falling off as a result of a strict hygiene regime, the ministry said.
The French health system is under growing scrutiny after it failed to prevent more than 15,000 deaths in last summer's heatwave. It is suffering a severe manpower shortage as a result of the reduced 35-hour working week introduced by the last Socialist government.
Strong quake occurs near
coast of Taiwan
A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 occurred near the coast of Taiwan shortly after noon yesterday, the United States Geological Survey reported.
The quake, recorded at 11:38 EST, hit about 225km south of Taipei, according to Kathleen Gohn, USGS spokesperson, who said there were no early reports of casualties or damage.
The tremor was shallow, she said, and was "more than 20 times as strong" as the 4.5 quake that hit central Virginia, southwest of Washington, on Tuesday.
SHELBYVILLE, Indiana -- Bob and Brian Weddle have seen a rock or two in their line of work, but the home builders suspect what they found imbedded in foam insulation is a meteorite.
Last Updated Thu, 11 Dec 2003 18:51:55
MILAN, ITALY - Global climate change killed about 150,000 people in 2000 and deaths could double in the next 30 years if warming trends continue, the World Health Organization warned Thursday.
[...] Scientists link climate change to pollutants such as carbon dioxide emissions from cars and factories.
The WHO launched a study to gather the best scientific data on how global climate change may change rainfall patterns and seasons. The warming would affect agriculture, water-borne and insect-borne diseases.
After one of the hottest summers in recorded history, Germany’s forests have barely had time to recover before more bad news follows. The recently published Federal Forest Report states that only one third of all trees in Germany’s woods are healthy, around 31 percent of the country’s forestation, down from 35 percent 2002. High temperatures, long persistent dryness of soil and increasing ozone levels have particularly hit the nation’s oak trees with a reported 83 percent falling ill, an increase of 10 percent on 2002. The report ominously states that although things look bleak now the full extent of the damage will only be known in the next few years with tree damaging parasites boosted by this year’s weather conditions increasing in numbers.
[...] Whatever the reason, scientists have discovered many creatures living in Australia's harsh arid zone are giving males the flick and opting for all-female communities that reproduce by cloning themselves. [...]
The big advantage of sex, that theory suggests, is that it creates genetic difference between individuals, driving evolutionary competition. Offspring differ slightly from their parents and from each other, with some better suited than others to adapt to new circumstances.
Bynoe's gecko may be living proof - the clones have a higher deformity rate, and where the asexual and sexual types are found together the clones suffer heavier infestations of parasitic mites.
Kearney says he used that example to explain the Red Queen
hypothesis to a bemused outback station owner.
Dr David Whitehouse
Red-stained bones dug up in a cave in Israel are prompting researchers to speculate that symbolic thought emerged much earlier than they had believed.
Symbolic thought - the ability to let one thing represent another - was a giant leap in human evolution.
It was a mental ability that allowed sophisticated language and maths. [...]
Comment: You mean that pre-historic humanity may not have just been "howling savages"? See Michael Cremo's Forbidden Archeology. His site notes that, "From its initial release in 1993 to the present, Forbidden Archeology has shocked and delighted readers around the globe with a veritable encyclopedia of anomalous scientific evidence challenging the standard views on human evolution."
South Africa pulls the plug on Santa
Krefeld, December 10
The unidentified man, 33, was observed using his cover to sell his merchandise. Police said they found several grams of the drug after they arrested him.
A Dutchman spent half an hour behind bars because he refused to carry a shopping basket around his local supermarket. [...]
Mr Kijlstra was allowed to go home after he agreed to pay a £95 fine and stay out of the shop for 12 months. [...]
A 10-year-old girl is the new football commentator for one of Brazil's biggest radio stations. Gabriela Ferreira has been given the job by Itu, the biggest station in Sao Paulo.
Her father, a football coach in his spare time, found out about his daughter's ability when his team came back to win after she gave him some tips six minutes before the end of a match. [...]
Gabriela promises not to miss school due to her new job and fame.
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