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 16, 2003
The United States of America is officially over.
True, as we have extensively documented, many of the freedoms that defined the US in the minds of many people around the world were illusory, but those same illusions could be called upon in a court of law, or inspire millions to demand the freedoms given them by law to be given them in actuality. No longer.
While gullible US citizens were busy cheering the capture of US employee, Saddam Double, they did not notice that Bush had signed a bill in secret, the full contents of which are secret, the very day before. On Saddam Sunday, the headlines around the world were splashed with the visage of Saddam Double, and few noticed that the empire had declared open war on its own citizens. Before, the tactics against US citizens and people around the world were illegal and conducted under the cover of darkness. Bush's controllers have decided it was time for the next stage of empire, and fearing that souled US citizens may not go along with their plans have decided to fully implement Operation Jackboot. Saddam Double was merely part of Operation Slight of Hand used by these black magicians.
If you cannot see that everything to do with America and it's politicians and politics is a lie, then the conclusion is simply that you cannot see. The events that we are witnessing are merely the results of plans laid down decades ago. The masses are never privy to this kind of information of course, their role is not to know such things but to merely maintain the illusion that such plans do not exist, that there are no conspiracies, and that everything is rosy in this world of ours.
So "Saddam" is captured. Like a ventriloquists dummy sitting atop the knee of Rumsfeld, he will soon regail us with shocking words and revelations no doubt, admitting to all sorts of things, not least of which will be that there really were WMD's, but they were moved to Syria...
Life in liberated Iraq continues, any Iraqis that don't like it will be beaten until they do like it. Freedom of speech is now a mainstay of Iraqi life, so is duct tape for those that happen to use their freedom of speech to say the wrong things.
Iraqi policemen are enjoying the fruits of liberation, including the freedom to choose not to accompany US forces on missions, on pain of being blown up inside their police stations. Yes indeed, the sound of freedom is ringing out loud and clear in Iraq, and can be heard whenever there is a lull in the massive explosions that result from the CIA and Mossad backed attacks. Employment is on the up also in Iraq, just apply to any of the Israeli-owned companies that are dominating the marketplace, they will be happy to consider you for employment, as long as you are not an Arab.
So the Saddam Circus rolls on, with the whole world adding their 15 minutes of commentary. But will the Bush Reich really want the truth to come out in a fair trial? We doubt it.
Representative Jim McDermott is accused of "crazy talk" for suggesting that the timing of Saddam's capture is just too convenient. But it appears he isn't so crazy after all...
Australia wants to send journalists to jail. Well, that is better than killing them, we suppose. How many have met accidents in Iraq?
An Indian news source claims Pakistani president Musharraf faked the recent assassination attempt on him. As America's perpetual war marches on, Bush repeats his meaningless statements about Saddam being a threat to the US. Israel, meanwhile, reveals that it planned to assassinate Saddam after the first Gulf War. Sharon hints that all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip will soon be abandoned.
The Internet is insecure. Rather than getting rid of Microsoft software, the folks in charge will end up doing away with the Internet. The Milky Way is growing, and science asks if time travel is possible.
"There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies." - Walter Lippmann
WASHINGTON -- President Bush has signed legislation making it easier for FBI agents investigating terrorism to demand financial records from casinos, car dealerships, and other businesses.
The changes were included in a bill authorizing 2004 intelligence programs. Most of the details of the bill are secret, including the total cost of the programs, which are estimated to be about $40 billion. That would be slightly more than Bush had requested.
Bush signed the bill Saturday, the White House announced.
The bill expands the number of businesses from which the FBI and other US authorities conducting intelligence work can demand financial records without seeking court approval.
Under current law, "national security letters" can be issued to traditional financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, to require them to turn over information. The bill expands the definition of financial institution to include other businesses that deal with large amounts of cash.
Supporters of the change say it will help authorities identify money laundering and other activities that fund terrorism. But some lawmakers and civil liberties advocates say the change does not provide enough safeguards to ensure that authorities will not violate the privacy of innocent people.
In other provisions, the bill:
Comment: "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
"If the U.S. really believes that supporting terrorists makes you as guilty as the terrorists themselves, then it would have to put on trial most of its military and political leadership over the last handful of administrations, and more." - Peter McClaren
"Terrorism has replaced Communism as the rationale for the militarization of the country, for military adventures abroad, and for the suppression of civil liberties at home. It serves the same purpose, serving to create hysteria." - Howard Zinn
"There is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country where the police were allowed to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country where the government is entitled to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your e-mail communications; if we lived in a country where people could be held indefinitely based . . . on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, the government would probably discover and arrest more terrorists, or would-be terrorists.... But that wouldn't be a country in which we would want to live." - Senator Russ Feingold
"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Perhaps, you have a responsibility to be informed, to know for yourself. To know the truth. And then, perhaps you must decide with your own conscience and you r personal energy and your resources what you should do." - Isabel Allende
Randolph T. Holhut
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Comedian and political activist Barry Crimmins thinks next year will be "the summer of hate" - the moment when the opposition to everything that the Bush administration stands for will reach a boiling point.
But if you think that the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City next September is going to become a festival of protest against President Bush, it's not going to happen.
Why? All you have to do is look back at what happened in Miami last month at the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) summit meeting. What we saw was a prototype for handling protest that should chill the marrow of every American.
About $8.5 million in federal money paid for the more than 40 different local, state and federal law enforcement agencies deployed in Miami. The money came from the $87 billion "War on Terror" funding package passed by Congress in October. That money also financed the purchase of mobile water cannons, armored vehicles, tear gas, rubber bullets, taser guns and body armor for the Miami-Dade police.
Reporters were "embedded" with police and for the most part, they stuck to the script that Miami police chief John Timoney laid out for them. The anti-FTAA protesters were "punks," "troublemakers" and "knuckleheads" that were "coming in to terrorize and vandalize our city" and he would "hunt them like a hawk picking mice off a field," Timoney vowed.
The Miami City Council helped Timoney by passing an ordinance a couple of days before the demonstrations that banned the assembly of groups of eight or more. The ordinance, a blatant violation of the First Amendment right of free assembly, was conveniently timed to expire on Nov. 27, after the protests were over. [...]
Combine militarized policing with a total disregard for civil liberties, and what was seen in Miami will almost certainly be repeated in New York next September. I fear that we may see violence on an unprecedented scale, something that would make the police riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago look tame by comparison. [...]
According to an FBI memo that was leaked to The New York Times, the bureau is asking local law enforcement agencies to gather intelligence on the anti-war movement. The FBI supposedly is concerned that "terrorists" might use protests to distract law enforcement agencies to launch an attack somewhere else. Investigating, infiltrating and harassing anti-war groups - something that the FBI routinely did from the 1960s through the 1980s - apparently now is part of President Bush's "war on terror." [...]
Comment: "Americans cannot teach democracy to the world until they restore their own." - William Greider
There's a sort of Peter Principle at work here. Laurence Peter wrote that in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. Perhaps we can postulate that in a foreign policy establishment committed to imperialist domination by any means necessary, employees tend to rise to the level of cruelty they can live with. [Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, by William Blum]
"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - William Blum
"It is a paradox that the nation that did so much to articulate and codify human rights in its foundation documents has so consistently resisted the effective functioning of an international framework to protect these principles and values." - Amnesty International
FLASHBACK: Nightmares for many are very, very scary
Nearly 14 million US adults suffer recurring nightmares each evening. [...]
Comment: "Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear - kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor - with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it ..." - US General Douglas MacArthur
"You know the one thing that is wrong in this country? Everyone gets a chance to have their fair say." - President Bill Clinton
"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." - Former CIA Director William Colby
"Fascism: a system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism." - American Heritage Dictionary
WAR IS PEACE
Benjamin Duncan in Washington DC
Few laws in recent history have sparked as much controversy as the USA Patriot Act, passed by Congress less than two months after the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Federal law enforcement officials justified introducing the sweeping new measure as a necessary tool to investigate the lives of "suspected terrorists".
Yet, in doing so, they aroused the ire of numerous civil liberties organisations which denounced the law as an assault on the basic freedoms of ordinary citizens.
Many Arab and Muslim Americans feared the statute would target their communities.
[...] In an effort to break down the veil of secrecy surrounding the law, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in August of 2002.
The ACLU asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI for statistical information on their use of the new surveillance powers granted under the Patriot Act.
Early this year, the DOJ finally provided a response that ACLU attorneys deemed less than satisfactory. Many of the pages sent were blacked out under the rubric of classified information.
In the United States last year there were over 11,000 deaths by firearms. No other nation comes even close to matching this appetite for death. That is eight thousand more than died on 9/11, but about the same number as those innocent Iraqi civilians that perished by our actions in Gulf War II. And the costs to society from injuries and death due to firearms you ask? More than $60 billion. Those who produce instruments of death in this country are not ignorant, however; they know the statistics, they simply brush them aside. [...]
Today, the U.S. is responsible for 40% of all worldwide weapons’ sales. Tanks, fighter jets, artillery, helicopters, missiles, landmines, machine guns, mortars, bullets, grenades, guns, you name it, Guns’R’U.S. has it. Our nation supplies the world in instruments of death. The United States’ Military Industrial Complex (MIC) makes a killing from death, suffering and destruction. It exists only if people die. Its signature is everywhere; in the millions of landmines buried worldwide and the millions of amputee victims, many of them children. It can be seen in civil wars that ravage the developing world, from Africa to Asia to Latin America. From sea to shining sea, our weapons we can see, from the exponentially growing threat of WMDs – many of which were distributed at one time by our own government – to the military hardware of tyrants and dictators, war criminals and warlords.
The MIC’s front for assuring continual human violence is the US government, the Pentagon in particular. President Bush has just granted the Pentagon a military budget of $400 billion dollars for the next fiscal year. That’s $400,000,000,000.00. This, of course, does not include our little warmongering expedition to the Fertile Crescent, which by last estimates had already cost an additional $160 billion more. With so much of our money going to the Department of War one has to wonder where our priorities are. Certainly not in education, healthcare or in the creation of jobs.
The Pentagon and the Military Industrial Complex are one and the same, having morphed over time to form the most lethal killing institution the world has ever seen. Through a sliding and revolving door that turns citizen soldiers into armament industry executives and company officers into military policy makers, the MIC has embedded itself into the military branch of the US government, thereby assuring itself of unlimited contracts, access, information and profit. Military industry executives and lobbyists have also slithered deep into top administration positions, occupying vitally important posts that decide national and foreign policy. Ex top government officials now sit on boards of today’s biggest suppliers of military might.
One need only look to the Carlyle Group to find the marriage between government and MIC. George Bush the First had until recently sat on the board of this powerful yet clandestine group. This intertwined dancing tango of cronyism is exactly what Eisenhower warned about. Like a virus MIC has spread itself throughout the hallways of the Pentagon, penetrating from top to bottom through the disease called greed. Now one and the same, the Pentagon and MIC have a common interest, motive and ability to shape how funds are used and wars are waged.
The Pentagon is the Department of War, not Defense. It is in business to kill, kill, and kill some more. Without war, violence and weapons there is no Pentagon. And so to survive, to remain a player, wars must be created, weapons must be allocated, profits must be made and the Military Industrial Complex must continue exporting and manufacturing violence and conflict throughout the globe. And, as always, in the great tradition of the United States, enemies must exist. Indians, English, Mexicans, Spanish, Nazis, Koreans, Communists and now the ever-ambiguous Terrorists. [...]
We are told our nation is in imminent danger, that we are a mushroom cloud waiting to happen. And so we fear, transforming our mass uneasiness into nationalistic and patriotic fervor, wrapping ourselves up in the flag and the Military Industrial Complex. We have fallen into the mouse trap, becoming the subservient slaves of an engine run by greed, interested not in peace but constant war, constant killing and constant sacrifice to the almighty dollar. Brainwashed to believe that War is Peace we sound the drums of war, marching our sons and daughters to a battle that cannot be won either by sword or gun.
We are programmed to see the world as a conflict between "Us" versus "Them", "Good" versus "Evil," that we must inflict death on those who are not with us and on those against us. The MIC prays on our human emotions and psychology, exploiting human nature and our still fragile memories of the horrors of 9/11, manipulating us to believe that what they say and do is right for us all. We unite behind one common enemy, fearing for our lives, complacent and obedient, blindly descending like a plague of locusts onto foreign land, devastating, usurping, conquering and devouring those who have been deemed enemies of the state, those who harbor and live among them, "evilones," "evildoers" and "haters of freedom," all for the sake of profit and pillage, ideology and empire. Power unfettered and unleashed, our freedoms die and are released
The so-called "War on Terror" is but a charade, a fear-engendering escapade, designed to last into perpetuity, helping guarantee that the Military Industrial Complex will grow exponentially in power. It is a replacement for a Cold War long ago since retired and unable to deliver a massive increase in defense spending. Terrorists and the countries that harbor them have replaced the Soviet Union and Communists as enemy number one. With a war that may go on indefinitely, pursuing an enemy that lives in shadows and in the haze of ambiguity, the MIC will grow ever more powerful, conscripting hundreds of thousands of our youth, sending them to guide, operate and unleash their products of death.
Rumblings of bringing back the draft are growing louder, and if you think your children and grandchildren will escape it, think again. In a war without end, in battles that do not cease, the MIC will need human flesh from which to recycle those who perish and fall wounded. Empire building needs bodies and drones to go with military might, instruments of death need trigger fingers and human brains, and, with so many expendable young men and women being conditioned in this so-called "war on terror," MIC will continue its reprogramming of citizen soldiers from peaceful civilians to warmongering killing machines. After all, "War is Peace." [...]
While we look over our shoulders for terrorists and evildoers, the world ominously looks directly at us with both eyes intently focused on the armies of the "Great Satan" and the "Evil Empire," not knowing which nation will be attacked or on whom the storm of satellite-guided-missiles will rain down on next. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In becoming pre-emptive warmongers, we are also becoming victims of our own making, helping assure a swelling wrath of revenge, resentment and retaliation against us. If we kill we will be killed, if we destroy we will be destroyed. The MIC is leading us down a steep canyon of fury, making us a pariah, a rogue country in the eyes of the world. We are becoming that which we fear most, a terrorist state. As political scientist and ex-marine C. Douglas Lummis has said, "Air bombardment is state terrorism, the terrorism of the rich. It has burned up and blasted apart more innocents in the past six decades than have all the anti-state terrorists who have ever lived. Something has benumbed our consciousness against this reality." Today we are seen, along with Israel, as the greatest threats to world peace. When hundreds of thousands throughout the planet call Bush "the world’s number one terrorist," that less than admirable distinction is automatically imputed onto the nation as a whole and the citizens in particular. This can be seen in the world’s perception and treatment of us today.
When the day comes, not too far in the future, when one of our metropolitan cities goes up in a mushroom cloud or in a vapor of suffocation or when tens of thousands of citizens die of biological or chemical demons, we must dive deep into our national psyche and question why we allowed those in power to guide us down the road of cause and effect, action and reaction. And, in the end, we must realize that those same WMDs we once so gleefully created and exported have come back to our shores, haunting us and our children for the suffering we have helped spread onto the world through our idleness, impotence to act and automaton-like acquiescence. [...]
Could it be remotely possible that our foreign policy, our support for puppet dictators and monarchs, our quest for empire and resources and our unyielding military, financial and political support of the dehumanization of the Palestinian people by Israel all leads to the subjugation, injustice, humiliation and misery of hundreds of millions of people? Could this be why we are so hated throughout a world where billions have nothing while we bathe in the spoils of abundance? As long as MIC acts in our name, as long as it plunders humanity we will be hated.
Ghandi once said that "an eye for an eye only leads to more blindness." If that is so, then our nation is on a collision course with an ominous black hole whose darkness we shall not escape and whose exit we will never again see.
FLASHBACK: PRIVACY ROW IN THE SKIES
by Gordon Thomas
President Bush and the European Union are on a head-on collision course over Washington’s plan to introduce the largest surveillance system ever used on civilian populations. The American Civil Liberties Union has called it "a surveillance monster that will not make anyone safer". [...]
Kevin Poulsen, SecurityFocus
If a rapid-fire series of announcements from cable and telecom bigwigs last week confirms that Voice over IP (VoIP) has a future as a mainstream consumer technology, it's worth noting that the electronic surveillance mavens in the FBI and Justice Department saw it coming.
On Thursday, AT&T announced plans to deliver consumer Internet telephony services to the top 100 markets in the first quarter of 2004. Earlier in the week, Time Warner Cable announced a strategic partnership with Sprint and MCI to offer residential VoIP service around the country. And on Monday, Qwest Communications International began rolling out VoIP services to customers in Minnesota. In a statement, Qwest CEO Richard Notebaert declared: "The future of voice communications will be based on the Internet."
The announcements came on the heels of a day-long public forum held 1 December at the FCC to address the most contentious issue surrounding VoIP: whether or not it should be subject to the same government regulations as traditional wireline telephone services. Two days after that public forum, according to FCC filings, FBI officials had a more private meeting with half-a-dozen FCC staffers to reiterated the Bureau's view on the matter: VoIP should be regulated - at least enough to ensure that the FBI can listen-in.
At issue is the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), the Federal law that required telephone companies to modify their networks to be wiretap-friendly for the FBI.
CALEA created a vast electronic surveillance infrastructure that gives the government quick-and-easy access to telephone conversations, with prior court authorisation. But in the absence of any clear ruling that the law applies to Internet access providers, the FBI's been forced to use special tools and equipment, like its 'Carnivore' DCS-1000 packet sniffer, to perform Internet surveillance.
So last year, the FBI and Justice Department began lobbying the FCC to find that broadband companies are telecommunications carriers, and thus subject to CALEA. Last March, the bureau zeroed in on Voice over IP when it opposed a bid by entrepreneur Jeffrey Pulver to win an FCC declaration that his peer-to-peer Internet telephony service Free World Dialup is an "information service", and thus not subject to telecom regulations.
And in October the FBI opposed a similar effort by Vonage Holdings, after a federal judge in Minnesota ruled that the company's VoIP service could not be regulated by the state, and the company sought the same nod from the FCC.
Regulators are believed to be near a decision, and at least one commissioner has come down squarely on the FBI's side of the debate. "First, we must understand the concerns raised by DOJ and FBI that classifying Vonage's VoIP as an information service severely undercuts CALEA," said commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, at last week's FCC forum. "They say that call content and caller identification could evade lawful electronic surveillance, and that VoIP jeopardizes the ability of federal, state, and local governments to protect public safety and national security against domestic and foreign threats."
"Public safety," Adelstein added, "is not negotiable."
Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
The archive of internal correspondence from the politically-connected ATM giant Diebold - which is bidding for many electronic voting contracts across the US - is a gift that keeps on giving. Diebold has its own answer to critics who want a verifiable paper trail. Incredibly, the e-voting terminals don't leave behind such information.
It plans to make the modifications so expensive that city and state officials balk at the cost.
JOURNALISTS face up to five years' jail if they report detailed circumstances surrounding the detention and questioning of terrorism suspects, under new ASIO laws passed in Parliament late last week.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock believes the secrecy provisions "enhance" Australia's national security and counter terrorism capabilities and "protect" the effectiveness of intelligence gathering. But media organisations and Greens senator Bob Brown have warned that the limitations on the reporting of ASIO activities threaten democracy.
U.S. Troops Disperse
Pro-Saddam Protest in Tikrit
TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) -
U.S. soldiers Monday used batons to break up a demonstration in
Tikrit to protest against the capture of Saddam Hussein near his
hometown, witnesses said.
"God is Greatest, America is the enemy of all peoples," they shouted with their fists raised.
Shortly afterwards U.S. soldiers charged the protest, beating and arresting some protesters, the witnesses said.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military.
The Rise of a New Dictatorship in
The forcible shutting down of the Al-Arabiya news channel in Baghdad is the first act of a new dictatorship shedding its teeth in the increasingly undemocratic Iraq.
What is a dictatorship? A classic definition clarifies that it is "a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)."
Let us examine the situation in Iraq.
There is a US-appointed government called the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). It is comprised of foreign-bred, foreign-educated, foreign-financed autocrats. Most do not carry Iraqi citizenship, but US, British and Australian passports. Most had never set foot in Iraq before April of this year.
All are protected by their local security guards and a heavy US security detail. Some of the council members have their own private little armies. Galal Talabani and Masoud Barazani, both rival Kurdish leaders, maintain highly-equipped armies of peshmerga who at one point fought Saddam’s armies, and at several junctions, one another. Ahmad Chalabi, who is wanted on charges of fraud and embezzlement in neighboring Jordan (he was sentenced to 20 years in absentia), has his own army of Iraqi opposition who were trained by the CIA and wear American-made uniforms and wield American-made weaponry.
They claim to represent the Iraqi people, but the average Iraqi had never heard of them before they arrived on US transport planes from Kuwait in April.
They are such a squabbling lot that they share a rotating presidency. They are not bound by laws or a constitution. Any opposition to the IGC is dealt with swiftly. In the wake of Saddam’s demise, some 300 newspapers and magazines sprouted in the "new, free" Iraq. Some focused on social issues, while others focused on the rights of Iraqi minorities, such as the Assyrians or the Sabaeans.
Some, however, took the courageous step of cherishing their new-found freedom and launched political newspapers. Almost immediately, they were warned not to criticize the IGC nor take a position calling on Iraqis to resist working with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).
During the past summer, journalists coming out of Iraq spoke of harassed Iraqi editors and writers, the trashing of print shops, and the arresting of independent Iraqi writers. Threats of security were cited – sounds eerily familiar to the classic version of Arab despotic regimes.
In September, an Iraqi editor who fiercely criticized the IGC, the US forces and Saddam’s former regime was shot dead while standing on his roof. No formal investigation was launched, no one detained. US forces simply blamed "former regime terrorist elements" and shrugged their shoulders. Mosul residents, however, painted a far more dire picture. They claimed that the murdered editor was killed because he was on the verge of detailing corruption charges against IGC members.
Since September, three newspapers in Mosul were shut down; other newspaper editors feared for their lives and gave up their quest for a free press. Eleven newspapers have been shut down in Baghdad.
During the same period, 16 journalists have been killed in Iraq. Fourteen of those have been killed by direct US action.
The Al Jazeera all-news channel says its reporters and cameramen have been arrested 18 times while on assignment in Iraq since the beginning of the war in March. Imagine the outrage had Iran detained a CNN crew, or had Saudi Arabia interrogated a FOX reporter. Every editorial in North America would have screamed bloody murder and called for independent investigations and sanctions against those nations, and called for freedom of access and freedom of the press.
In Iraq, which is meant to be on its way to a pluralistic democracy, as President Bush has envisioned, the rules are different. No freedom of the press just yet, no dissent, no public outcry. Just behave like good little redheads and we won’t hurt you.
On the 12th of November, The New Zealand Herald reported the following:
American soldiers handcuffed and firmly wrapped masking tape around an Iraqi man’s mouth as they arrested him today for speaking out against occupation troops.
Asked why the man had been arrested and put into the back of a Humvee vehicle on Tahrir Square, the commanding officer told Reuters at the scene: "This man has been detained for making anti-coalition statements."
[...] The most direct evidence that the attacks will not stop with Saddam's arrest comes from the town of Khazimiya, near Baghdad, where the military says a car bomb exploded outside an Iraqi police station early Sunday, killing at least 10 people and wounding many more.
That was just about 12 hours after the capture of Saddam Hussein.
There is considerable controversy over the incident, with many local residents telling journalists they saw a U.S. fighter jet shoot a missile at the station at the height of morning traffic. A police officer who was wounded in the attack told one reporter that the police had refused to accompany U.S. troops on a raid earlier that morning, and he believed the attack was revenge. The local hospital also says the death toll is considerably higher than the Americans claim.
Last Updated Tue, 16 Dec 2003 5:42:28
BAGHDAD - U.S. soldiers killed at least 11 Iraqis who attacked their convoy in a town north of Baghdad, American military officials said Tuesday. [...]
Tue Dec 16, 2:54 AM ET
BAGHDAD (AFP) - US forces shot dead at least four Iraqis in two towns west of the capital, where protestors angered by the capture of Saddam Hussein stormed regional government offices.
The shootings took place Monday night after rioters put up Saddam Hussein posters in the mainly Sunni Muslim towns of Ramadi and Fallujah. [...]
McDermott in Hot Water for Saddam
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., who earned headlines across the globe last year for criticizing President Bush while in Baghdad, is enmeshed in a new controversy over remarks he made about the capture of Saddam Hussein.
In an interview Monday with a Seattle radio station, McDermott said the U.S. military could have found the former Iraqi dictator "a long time ago if they wanted."
Asked if he thought the weekend capture was timed to help Bush, McDermott chuckled and said, "Yeah. Oh, yeah."
McDermott went on to say, "There's too much by happenstance for it to be just a coincidental thing."
When interviewer Dave Ross asked again if he meant to imply the Bush administration timed the capture for political reasons, McDermott said: "I don't know that it was definitely planned on this weekend, but I know they've been in contact with people all along who knew basically where he was. It was just a matter of time till they'd find him.
"It's funny," McDermott added, "when they're having all this trouble, suddenly they have to roll out something."
State Republicans immediately condemned McDermott's remarks, saying the Seattle Democrat again was engaging in "crazy talk" about the Iraq war. [...]
Saddam could be offered deal
The Iraqi figures also said that, even if the number of concealed weapons of mass destruction is not large, Saddam will certainly know who he appointed to take charge of the operation and in what area the weapons are being stored.
The possibility that Saddam transferred some of the weapons to Syria was raised on the eve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, when satellite pictures showed convoys moving from Iraq to Syria. It is still unknown precisely what was transported in these convoys, but it is clear that this was a secret operation between Iraq and Syria.
Comment: There would be no need to interrogate this "Saddam" in order to get these answers from him, the US has already decided that this is going to be his story. Soon we will be told that, after all there really were WMD's in Iraq! See we told you! It's just that they were smuggled out before we got there, and taken to...guess where... Syria! So guess where we are going to invade next??"
"Good morning, Bozo!" squeaked a little voice from the filing cabinet behind me. Oh no, I thought to myself. That pesky crystal ball has woken up again.
"Back again so soon?" I replied. "I suppose you’ve come back to gloat. You predicted the outcome of the war perfectly."
"What didja expect, I’m a crystal ball. I know everything."
"Okay, then tell me what happened to all those weapons of mass destruction that the Americans were supposed to find in Iraq?"
"That’s too easy. Even a bum like you should be able to figure that out. I’ll give you a hint: what does Saddumb usually do with weapons he wants to keep out of American hands?"
"Well, in the Gulf War he ordered pilots to fly their MIG fighters to airfields in Iran to prevent them from being destroyed. As I recall, the Iranians never gave them back."
"Do you mean he’s sent his chemical and biological weapons to Iran?"
"No, you dummy. The Iranians obviously can’t be trusted. Besides, he wanted to give’em to the folks who’d use’em."
"Do you mean the terrorists? Did he give them to Osama Bin Laden."
"Of course not. Old Bin Hadit is a flake. Anyway, he’s on the run. Saddam put them into the hands of the real terrorists. Besides, he could only deliver the stuff by road. The Americans controlled the skies."
"Do you mean Syria? Do you mean he gave the stuff to the Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations in Syria and Lebanon? How?"
"Before the war, you dimwit. The arsenal of banned weapons was hauled in giant tankers from Iraq to Syria after dark in the first week of March. Saddumb paid Syrian President-forever Baashar Assad thirty-five million bucks for safe passage to the Bekkaa Valley in Syrian-controlled Lebanon. That’s where the real bad guys are. Yeah, yeah. I know what your next question is. The tankers were buried in a field. Bulldozers covered ’em up and leveled the ground. A few days later local farmers planted the field with poppies. Poppies? How didja think the terrorists fund their organizations, anyway!"
"Wow! So that’s why Colin Powell read the riot act to Baashar Assad."
"I don’t suppose you know the whereabouts of Saddam and his sons."
"Of course. They’re in Belarus. They’re guests of Belarus’s dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Saddam’s paying big bucks for a villa in a walled military compound 10 miles west of Minsk. And I mean big bucks. The compound is guarded by a phalanx of surface-to-air missiles and two security cordons. The inner cordon consists of members of Lukashenko’s Praetorian guard and Saddam’s personal bodyguards. The outer cordon consists of Belarus secret police commandos."
- Turn on the TV, - my wife, alerted by a phone call, yelled from the kitchen. On the screen was George W. Bush's mug photo with a caption reading 'Bush - the former dictator is arrested'.
I can't deny it was a moment of great elation. Indeed, Mr Bush deserved to be arrested and tried - for his invasion of sovereign Iraq and Afghanistan, for the thousands of dead and tortured men and women wherever he took his War on Islam, for his support of ENRON, and for his doubtful role in September 11. In light of the Patriot Act which gave the government broader surveillance authority and erased the traditional American liberties, and for the unconstitutional way he got to the White House, Mr Bush can indeed be called 'a dictator'. But 'former'? Had the people of the United States shown themselves the worthy heirs to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, risen up in arms and removed the tyrant?
Alas, no such luck. The former dictator referred to was, of cause, the deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. What an anticlimax! Pictures of the humiliated Hussein, bearded, tired, confused, treated like a captured tiger in a Zoo, were repeating endlessly. He opened his mouth, and we were forced to look in. He looked human and frail; too human, his dishevelled beard and large innocent eyes make him akin to Leo Tolstoy or Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Indeed, if in December 1941, Hitler's army had not been stopped by the 39 Red Guards of Panfilov on the outskirts of Moscow, this would have been the fate of Joseph Stalin; to be brought in an iron cage to Berlin and presented as 'the captured, bloody dictator'. And it would have been Mao Zedong's fate, too, had the Chinese soldiers not stopped General Macarthur's hordes on the banks of Yalu River in 1950. Vae victis, woe is defeat, especially a defeat to the ruthless and arrogant enemy.
I crossed the street to a Palestinian café, where Jerusalem artists and teachers mingle with villagers on business in the big city over backgammon and cardamom coffee. Gloom was hanging over the low tables like a rain cloud in the December air. The Palestinians were distressed and spoke in hushed tones. Their best feelings were hurt by the dishonourable display of the captive ruler. Whether one liked Saddam Hussein or not, he was the legitimate President of a great Arab nation, and his humiliation was the humiliation of all Arabs.
He was not the first captured ruler in the world's bloody and long history. More than 800 years ago, the great West European Crusader princes were captured by a victorious Arab army. Then, however, the Arab commander, Saladin, treated the captives courteously. He did not parade them with an open, red-painted mouth in front of his troops. But Chivalry and Honour, so dear to an Arab heart, are not American virtues: the US dared to attack Iraq only after ten years of UN sanctions disarmed it.
The Palestinians had additional reasons to worry. Iraq was a big and independent Arab country. It was by no means a counterbalance to the united might of Israel and the US, but its existence could stay the Zionist hand from particularly wild actions. In 1948, Iraqi volunteers stopped the Israeli army expelling the Palestinian residents of Jenin and Nablus, and saved them from the fate of homeless refugees. In 1973, the Iraqi presence stopped Israelis moving on to Damascus. Since then, the Iraqis have supported Palestinians, collecting money to sent to Palestinian widows and orphans of the resistance.
But the American-installed regime in Baghdad is rabidly anti-Palestinian and pro-Israeli. Ahmad Chalabi, the American protégé, called to establish friendly relations with Israel; plans to send Iraqi oil to Haifa refineries are being discussed, and the occupation forces expelled Palestinian refugees from their temporary homes in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein could not do much; his anti-Islamic policy did not endear him to religious Arabs, but he was a friend, and an independent Arab voice.
Israelis in a nearby pub were excited. For them, Hussein's capture was good news politically and economically. Since the US-led victory, the Israeli companies have aggressively moved into Iraq. "All inquiries about doing business in Iraq are referred to a select list of intermediaries issued by the American authorities", I was told by an Australian businessman. "All are Jewish and most of them are Israeli. Heading the list is the Israeli law firm that Douglas Feith (an American extreme-Zionist official) is a partner in". The Iraqi Jews have presented multi-billion dollar claims for properties they claim were confiscated from them. Hussein's capture will undermine the Iraqi resistance and allow the Israelis to increase their share of the war spoils.
But Israeli politicians foresee an even better outcome. "Deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein could be offered a deal in which he would give his captors information on how he smuggled some of the weapons of mass destruction into Syria," said the military observer of the Israeli daily Haaretz. "In exchange, he would face life imprisonment and not be executed for war crimes", It will save George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair' bacon, following accusations that they lied to their people to justify war. More important, it would accomplish an old wish of Israeli leaders: the US tanks would roll into Damascus. With the conquest of Syria, the next stage of the Middle East subjugation to Israel would be complete, and the road to Saudi oil riches would be open.
In short, Hussein's capture will not bring peace to Iraq and the Middle East. Most probably,it will be used to jump-start the new round of war in the troubled area.
Tuesday 16 December 2003, 13:38 Makka Time, 10:38 GMT
Captured Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has allegedly provided intelligence information leading to the capture of more former government figures and insights into the escalating resistance.
Since Saddam's capture, US Army teams from the 1st Armoured
Division have captured one high-ranking former government
official-who has yet to be named-and that prisoner has given up a
few others, said US Army Brigadier General Mark Hertling on
American officials said interrogations of Saddam, whose current location remains unknown, would focus on getting intelligence on the resistance, which has dogged occupation troops.
Saddam is expected to provide useful insights into the escalating resistance in Iraq, according to a US commander.
US commanders have predicted that the fighters may be spurred to fight even harder in the short term, perhaps only to prove that Saddam meant little to them.
[...] Celebrations that erupted in Baghdad and elsewhere on Sunday at the news of Saddam's capture, appeared to dissipate on Monday and Tuesday. Only small groups of Communist Party supporters were seen celebrating in the capital.
Protesters have rallied in several Iraqi towns in a show of support for Saddam, casting doubts on claims by the US-led coalition that the people of Iraq universally welcomed his arrest.
In the ousted leader's hometown of Tikrit, about 700 people demonstrated on Monday against his capture, chanting "Saddam is in our hearts, Saddam is in our blood."
US soldiers and Iraqi policemen yelled back: "Saddam is in our jail." One protester was reported to have been killed in clashes that broke out between baton-wielding occupation forces and students, reported our correspondent.
A group of Arab lawyers has cast doubt on the Iraqi authority's ability to give Saddam Hussein a fair trial.
Hasan Majally, head of the Jordanian Union of Lawyers, told Aljazeera.net on Monday that the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council "does not possess the potential to establish a just and professional court".
But Majally said his organisation hoped to defend Saddam Hussein if he were put on trial.
"Defending President Saddam is defending international legitimacy because we believe that occupation is the ugliest experience man can go through," he said. "He [Saddam] and everyone on this earth put on trial has the right to defend himself. "I think when President Saddam finds out that the committee which will defend him is comprised of Arab lawyers from different Arab countries he will accept because he is a pan-Arab figure."
Majally said he would expect the US to block his group's efforts. "However, I think they [Americans] are fully aware that they do not need another scandal."
Comment: The US cannot afford a trial of Saddam where the truth emerges. The truth of Saddam is that he was backed, supported, paid, and encouraged in his monstrous ways as long as he was of strategic use to the United States in the Middle East. When the Kurds were gassed, the US waited years before making a fuss. While Iraqis were tortured and murdered in Saddam's Iraq, US companies such as Halliburton continued their business dealings. Those of you who read this page regularly would have seen the famous photo of Saddam shaking hands with Donald Rumsfeld in Baghdad in 1983.
Stephen R. Shalom
Saddam Hussein is one of the world's great monsters. Nothing would be more welcome than to have him put on trial, a trial which could offer Iraqis and the world an honest accounting of his many crimes. However, as so often happens, when a trial is organized by those who are themselves guilty of serious crimes, truth is not the goal. Instead the historical record is falsified to make the one monster seem uniquely blameworthy and the ones running the show above criticism.
We saw this pattern in the Tokyo trials following World War II, where the crimes of Japanese officials were documented in gruesome detail (except for the biological warfare programs, which Washington wanted to use for itself and except for the involvement of the emperor, who was to serve U.S. purposes during the occupation), while the crimes of the victors, such as the horrific fire-bombing raids and the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were disregarded. Likewise, Panamanian ruler Manual Noriega was a thug who certainly belonged in the dock. But when the U.S. military invaded Panama in violation of international law and seized him for trial in the United States, there was no intention by the kidnappers that the trial be a forum for revealing the long-time ties between Noriega and the U.S. government, and particularly between Noriega and former CIA director George H. W. Bush.
It is a matter of principle in Washington that Americans not be held to the same international standards as others. Thus, the U.S. refuses to endorse the International Criminal Court and demands that its allies give up their right to invoke the jurisdiction of the court when U.S. citizens are involved. But those of us who truly care about justice ought to demand that Saddam Hussein be tried before a court that is in no way subject to U.S. control or manipulation. Only in that way can the real truth come out.
Already, however, much of the media is falling into line in framing the crimes of Saddam Hussein. For example, the Washington Post website offered a summary of "Events in the Life of Saddam Hussein" from the Associated Press. But the chronology was seriously incomplete. Below is that chronology, corrected to include -- indented and in brackets -- some of the most serious omissions.Comment: We encourage our readers to read the chronology presented in Shalom's article. It shows how the US press presents a falsified account of Saddam's history by removing any reference to his work with the CIA.
A senior US official has made clear it is likely to be some time before Saddam Hussein is put on trial.
He said a decision on how the former Iraqi leader might be prosecuted had to be taken first, and a mountain of evidence sifted through.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for a fair and open trial for Saddam Hussein, and said that the UN remained opposed to the death penalty.
[...] Saddam Hussein is now being held for interrogation at an undisclosed location, but the International Committee of the Red Cross says it hopes the US military will allow a visit so that it can check on his conditions.
The US says that Saddam Hussein is being treated according to the Geneva Convention, but has not yet confirmed that he is considered a prisoner of war.
The Washington official, who refused to be named, has defended the decision to show pictures of Saddam Hussein undergoing a medical examination.
He said it was allowed under the Geneva Conventions in order to maintain peace and security, and it was not just an attempt at humiliation.
www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-16 12:55:41
STOCKHOLM, Dec. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- The capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will not bring any help in tracking down weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, the former United Nations chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix said here on Monday.
This is partly because Saddam had repeatedly denied such existence in Iraq and partly because Iraq has gone through fairly close inspections, Blix told the Swedish news service TT.
Monday 15 December 2003, 20:07 Makka Time, 17:07 GMT
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin says France is keen to carve out a key role in aiding Iraq and is prepared to write off some of the war-torn country's debts.
Speaking on Monday at a meeting of the Paris Club, countries and agencies with claims on indebted countries, de Villepin told reporters that France could help establish an agreement to reduce Iraq's debt, by 2004.
France chairs the Paris Club, as well as being a creditor itself, Paris said that it was optimistic about the prospects of a deal to reduce Iraq's debt burden.
"France could in those circumstances envisage debt write-offs that would be suitable and in line with Iraq's financing capacity," Villepin said.
Iraq's has an estimated debt of $40 billion, owed to countries that make up the 19 Paris Club countries.
Sources close to the Paris Club said recently there were two
major prerequisites to any Paris Club deal, a fully recognised
government in Iraq and a basic agreement between Baghdad and the
(IMF) on Iraq's economic strategy.
Members of the Iraqi delegation that was in Paris, welcomed the French offer to push for debt relief with the Paris Club.
"We asked France to show some initiative to the Iraqi people, and they were forthcoming," said Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's interim foreign minister.
"This is a gift... We hope other European countries will now act like France," said Jalal Talabani, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council and head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
Russia, another major creditor, appealed on Monday for a debt deal to be worked out under the auspices of the Paris Club, clearly keen to ensure that every creditor gets a fair share of whatever money is paid back in the end.
Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2003/12/16
He started with a stone and ended in a stone. But he did not end before leaving one million victims behind, and almost destroying his country and the region. In the museum of revolution, there was a wall called "Saddam Hussein's struggle." He started as a knife-murderer, and gradually shifted to pistols, machine guns, mortar weapons, and so on. When we first heard of him after the attempted assassination of Abdulkarim Qassem in 1959, we found out that he hided in a "hole" after the attempt had failed, and it is the party's name for what is known to be a safe house, as some people say. Saddam Hussein ended the same way he started, in a scorpion or a foxhole, along with two machine guns, a pistol, American dollars, rats and mice.
If the occupation accomplished nothing but this, it would still be enough. But we hope, now that Saddam has finally fallen, that the occupation ends with him, and that Iraq returns to being a democratic country for its people, for the Arabs, and for the world.
We already knew that Saddam Hussein was an ignorant monster, but when he escaped and vanished at the end of the war, we were able to add that he is also a coward. Today, we found out that he is a coward twice, for he surrendered without fight or shame.
[...] What matters now is the future of Iraq and the region, and it is one that does not include occupation forces; the future of the region does not include Ariel Sharon, because if this war criminal comes after that war criminal, the region would have been put on the road of peace.
Once again, the occupation forces have accomplished a great mission that nobody else would have been able to do. But this accomplishment does not put off the fact that war was undergone for false reasons, and these lies that were used to excuse war, are growing stronger with every passing day.
Nothing good can come out of what was built on lies, and those who have planned the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein are the enemies of Arabs and Muslims as much as they are the enemies of Saddam. What remains is for independence not to fall along with Saddam, and for us not to go out from the disaster of the former regime, in order to get into a bigger disaster. There are important Iraqis in the governing council, Arabs and Kurdish, Shiites and Sunnites and Christians, and there are traitors and thieves. It is up to the Iraqis themselves to separate between wheat and tares.
They are the only ones able to accomplish this mission, and to open the doors of freedom, democracy and luxury to the citizens of the region as well as to themselves. As for the coward that got lost, he is cursed in life and cursed in the hereafter. He was tough on the weak, and a failure in front of the strong; he was a second-class ruler over first-class people. He came back to the hole he came from. And when he was removed from the pit, he did not shoot a single bullet.
A coward in a hole with rats and mice, and the house reflects his resident.
Abdulwahab Badrakhan Al-Hayat 2003/12/15
Finally, Saddam Hussein got what he wanted ever since his invasion of Kuwait: to have the Americans talk to him.
[...] There is nothing in the history of Saddam Hussein that the Arab world needs to be sorry for, because he was obstinate and made mistakes, ventures, and committed crimes that never brought any good to the Arabs. The only thing we can be sorry for is that the end of the dictator did not come at the hands of the Iraqis themselves, and the American power that strove to help them was an occupation force before the capture of Saddam, and will remain an occupation force after that; and it is only natural for it to use his capture, as it had previously used his mistakes, ventures and crimes during his ruling. No other tyrant was this efficient to a foreign power as was Saddam, and the United States owes him a lot since he made of its invasion of the region and the heart of the Arab world something easy, gave it the easiest military victories, enabled it to redraw the map of the region and gave it pretexts it could never have dreamt of to implement its own caliber of good and evil on the world, and to prove the factuality of its stupid policies.
Monday 15 December 2003, 18:01 Makka Time, 15:01 GMT
The humiliating images of Saddam Hussein's capture by US forces risk increasing Arab support for the Iraqi resistance and sharpening their appetite for revenge, analysts said on Monday.
felt extremely humiliated," said Egyptian writer Sayyid Nassar, who
interviewed Saddam three weeks before the US-led invasion of Iraq
on 20 March. "I felt it was not only a humiliation of Arabs but of
"It's also a humiliation for all Arab leaders and a message telling them that he who does not enter the poultry yard of the Americans will experience the same fate," he said.
Saddam's arrest "will not destroy the Iraqi resistance against the US occupier," and will encourage "feelings of Arab solidarity with the Iraqi fighters," he predicted.
"On the contrary, the resistance will grow and change shape," he warned.
"There will be a kind of creativity in acts of resistance, which will diversify and intensify to wash away their shame," he said.
The Egyptian Islamist lawyer Muntasir al-Zayyat agreed that Saddam's capture would "open the door wide to the resistance."
"It is true that we all deplored the humiliating way Saddam was arrested and his capture added to the feelings of frustration. However, the positive side is that it will intensify the resistance," he said.
"All opponents of Saddam, who refused to fight the American occupier for fear of being counted among the former president's supporters, will no longer hesitate to join the resistance," Zayyat said.
"The image that former president Saddam Hussein gave during his arrest by American occupation forces is a painful and shocking image," said Ibrahim Nafie, the editor in chief of the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram. "It's an image that no Arab wished for the president of one of the most important Arab states," Nafie wrote.
The Iraqi political analyst Ali al-Dabbagh, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, said Arabs were shocked and humiliated because of the "collapse of a myth" which forced "Arabs to face their sad reality and impotence.
"Many were those who were shocked that this 'hero', whom the media covered with a halo and glorious titles like the 'valorous', did not resist" US forces coming to arrest him, Dabbagh said.
"Suddenly, Arabs saw the true face of Saddam: a dwarf who did not have the courage to resist or even commit suicide as he had for so long claimed he would do," Dabbagh said.
"Such a confrontation with reality and the humiliation felt by his arrest by foreigners invites us to self-criticism and review ideas which force the Arab people to follow the propaganda (of their regimes) without examining things," he said.
The dictator's capture will cut his ties with his supporters and end their operations, "but will not wipe out the extremist groups which are pursuing their attacks," Dabbagh said.
The editor in chief of the Iraqi newspaper Al-Nahda, Jalal Machta, shared his opinion. "Saddam Hussein was like these gods of the pre-Islamic era, when animists fashioned an idol with date paste, then ended up eating the statue they worshipped," he said.
Saturday December13 th, 2003 will go down in history as a day all Arabs will remember with bitterness and astonishment. The Iraqi strongman, who terrorized his country and neighbors for more than three decades, was seized by US forces dramatically without any resistance on his part. Unlike his two sons, who resisted till the very last bit of life in them, this has been a great disappointment to all those supporters he had scattered throughout the Arab world, who expected from the fallen leader.
The head of Iraq’s Interim Governing Council, Adnan Pachachi, described Saddam’s capture as despicable, adding "showing him being examined by the US military doctor was provocative to the entire Arab public – what makes me wonder is that why he did not resist [US forces] or at least try to commit suicide?"
[...] Ali Al Bayati, member of the Higher Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, asserted to Al Bawaba that "the Iraqi nation knows very well that Saddam was a coward, and if he had any courage he would have at least committed suicide…but no, he was captured like a scared rat – and that is the real Saddam."
Last Saturday was a day for the world to remember, however not only because Saddam Hussein was captured, but because the US violated another principle of the Geneva Convention, which explicitly states how prisoners of war are to be treated. This act, however, seems to have been intentional as the US wanted to send a strong message to the Arab world - this is your hero and he is in our hands, surrendered and collaborating.
The news of Saddam’s capture was also of great importance to the Arab public as he is the first Arab modern-day leader to get captured and humiliated by the US army (or any other foreign army for that matter).
Analysts concur that attacks will continue and that opposition will benefit from having Baathist weight lifted
Compiled by Daily Star staff
Freed of the ignominious hand of Saddam Hussein, the anti-US guerrillas fighting occupation may grow stronger, winning more support from people who had no love of the ousted dictator, experts and analysts said Monday.
"The capture of Saddam Hussein will give the resistance greater strength," predicted Hassan al-Ani, who teaches political science at Baghdad University.
BAGHDAD—A defiant Saddam Hussein laughed in the faces of his accusers during an extraordinary confrontation with a quartet of Iraqi officials on the weekend.
[...] Summoned on Sunday to identify the man they spent decades opposing, governing council members Rubaiye, Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi, pre-Saddam-era foreign minister Adnan Pachaci and Shiite Muslim politician Adel Abdel Mahdi said Saddam forcefully dismissed one charge after another, at one point laughing out loud.
[...] Rubaiye said Saddam turned to the Americans in the room as if to appeal to their mercy during the heated exchanges.
"When we were asking him difficult questions and throwing accusations reminding him of his crimes, he was looking at Ambassador Bremer and General Sanchez as if he was asking the Americans to protect them," Rubaiye said. "He felt safer with the Americans. I think that indicates he is probably co-operating with the Americans."
Last Updated Mon, 15 Dec 2003 18:54:09
SARAJEVO - Bosnian Muslims say the arrest of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein only underscores their frustration over the West's failure to capture Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb wartime leader, has been indicted on charges of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in The Hague.
Political commentators in Sarajevo say the capture of Saddam shows there is a failure of will to arrest Karadzic.
The former head of the Bosnian Serb army, Ratko Mladic, also remains at large.
Saddam and Ashcroft worked together to support terrorism
When the White House released its Sept. 12 "white paper" detailing Saddam Hussein's "support for international terrorism," it caused more than a little discomfort in some quarters of Washington.
The 27-page document--entitled "A Decade of Deception and Defiance"--made no mention of any Iraqi ties to Osama bin Laden. But it did highlight Saddam's backing of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), an obscure Iranian dissident group that has gathered surprising support among members of Congress in past years. One of those supporters, the documents show, is a top commander in President Bush's war on terrorism: Attorney General John Ashcroft, who became involved with the MKO while a Republican senator from Missouri.
The case of Ashcroft and the MKO shows just how murky fighting terrorism can sometimes get. State Department officials first designated the MKO a "foreign terrorist organization" in 1997, accusing the Baghdad-based group of a long series of bombings, guerilla cross-border raids and targeted assassinations of Iranian leaders. Officials say the MKO--which originally fought to overthrow the Shah of Iran--was linked to the murder of several U.S. military officers and civilians in Iran in the 1970s. "They have an extremely bloody history," says one U.S. counterterrorism official.
But the MKO, which commands an army of 30,000 from bases inside Iraq, has tried to soften its image in recent years--in part with strong backing from politically active Iranian-Americans in the United States. The MKO operates in Washington out of a small office in the National Press Building under the name the National Council of Resistance of Iran. According to the State Department, the National Council of Resistance is a "front" for the MKO; in 1999, the National Council itself was placed on the State Department terrorist list. But National Council officials adamantly deny their group has earned the terror label and have aggressively portrayed itself to Washington lawmakers as a "democratic" alternative to a repressive Iranian regime that itself is one of the world's leading sponsors of terrorism. "You're talking about a really popular movement," says Alireza Jafarzadeh, the National Council's chief Washington spokesman, who insists that the MKO "targets only military targets."
Only two years ago, these arguments won sympathy from Ashcroft--and more than 200 other members of Congress. When the National Council of Resistance staged a September 2000 rally outside the United Nations to protest a speech by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, Missouri's two Republican senators--Ashcroft and Chris Bond--issued a joint statement of solidarity that was read aloud to a cheering crowd. A delegation of about 500 Iranians from Missouri attended the event--and a picture of a smiling Ashcroft was later included in a color briefing book used by MKO officials to promote their cause on Capitol Hill. Ashcroft was hardly alone. Among those who actually appeared at the rally and spoke on the group's behalf was one of its leading congressional supporters: Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Torricelli.
That same year, Senator Ashcroft wrote a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno protesting the detention of an Iranian woman, Mahnaz Samadi, who was a leading spokeswoman for the National Council of Resistance. The case quickly became a cause celebre for the MKO and its supporters in the United States.
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agents had arrested Samadi at the Canadian border, charging her with failing to disclose her past "terrorist" ties as an MKO "military commander"--including spending seven months in a MKO military-training camp inside Iraq--when she sought political asylum in the United States several years earlier, according to court documents obtained by NEWSWEEK.
Senator Ashcroft saw the case differently. In his May 10, 2000, letter to Reno, the Missouri lawmaker expressed "concern" about the detention, calling Samadi a "highly regarded human-rights activist" and a "powerful voice for democracy." (As part of a later settlement with the INS, Samadi admitted her membership in MKO but denied that she personally participated in any "terrorist activity." While her grant of political asylum was revoked, the INS dropped its deportation proceedings and she was permitted to remain in the United States.)
Alireza Jafarzadeh, the National Council's top Washington lobbyist, said he had "several" meetings with Ashcroft aides about the matter and that he "certainly" viewed the Missouri senator as a supporter of his group. But backers of the MKO acknowledge the real lobbying was done by Iranian-Americans in Missouri who wrote letters and made repeated phone calls on Samadi's behalf. How much Ashcroft got personally involved isn't clear. A Justice Department spokeswoman told NEWSWEEK that Ashcroft's letter to Reno was the result of a "straightforward, constituent-type inquiry," adding that the current attorney general would never "knowingly" back any terrorist group. When he signed the joint statement with Bond that was read at the National Council rally at the United Nations, Ashcroft did not "intend to endorse any organization," the spokeswoman, Barbara Comstock, said. "He was supporting democracy and freedom in Iran," she said. Comstock said Ashcroft currently has "no problem" prosecuting all U.S.-based terror groups, including the MKO.
By Alexei Pankin
[...] I would sum up the lessons of this election as follows: The people demonstrated their confidence in Putin and their rejection of the Yeltsin legacy.
There is a fundamental paradox here that the media totally ignores for some reason. Putin was handpicked to succeed Yeltsin. He was installed in the Kremlin to safeguard Yeltsin's real legacy: a corrupt, oligarchic capitalism that served the few at the expense of the many. Putin's mandate from the voters requires him to renounce this legacy, and that can mean only one thing: The creation of a transparent, socially oriented, investment-friendly economy and the political institutions that go with it.
The president's actions to date could be interpreted in very different ways: as loyal service to his predecessor, as an attempt to preserve the system while replacing the major players, or as gathering his strength for a battle with the Yeltsin-era system.
The fourth State Duma offers the president a wide range of political options. The presence of Rodina, led by the strong and uncorrupted economist Sergei Glazyev, makes it possible for the first time to implement a real alternative to current economic policy based on judicious protectionism and a social orientation. If Putin pursues this alternative he will have the backing of the Communists, whose allure for big business has diminished along with the size of the party faction in the Duma. He would also be supported by business leaders who are interested in real production, and by United Russia deputies from regions not blessed with natural resources. In other words, serious support for reform could gather around Glazyev's banner in the Duma.
Then again, Russian liberalism these days could be summed up by the slogan "steal and let steal." By this definition, there are probably more liberals in United Russia than in SPS. And these deputies would prove just as dangerous to Putin the reformer as they have been loyal foot soldiers of Putin the successor.
Who is Mr. Putin? We'll have to wait and see.
[...] With Hussein permanently removed, a Shiite resistance may begin to form. Radical Iranian officials who have for many years been supporting the Hezbollah in Lebanon may believe that the time has come to promote a Shiite Islamic Republic in Iraq. If arms, fighters and money begin to flow over the poorly guarded Iraq-Iran border to bolster an anti-Western insurgency, the U.S. troops may find themselves in a truly Vietnam-style quagmire.
One can only hope that U.S. generals, spooks and administrators will be better prepared than they were half a year ago, when the Sunni resistance began in earnest. The Americans have had time, while Hussein was hiding, to get a better grasp of the complex situation in Iraq and to hire a sufficient number of loyal collaborators and informers.
It's clear that Hussein was betrayed to his enemies by a well-placed informer. The Russian military and spooks have not been as effective in penetrating enemy lines in Chechnya. After nine years of confrontation they have not managed to capture a single truly prominent Chechen rebel leader, while the United States have apprehended virtually all of Hussein's henchman of prominence in a country that is some 30 times bigger than Chechnya in territory and population.
Either the Russian military and special services are too ineffective compared with their U.S. counterparts, or they are much more corrupt, or both. The capture of Hussein is already annoying the Kremlin and things may turn even uglier: It's possible that Hussein may tell his U.S. debriefers of some embarrassing particulars of his dealings (financial and otherwise) with high-ranking Russian (and French) officials.
In 2003, Chechens were called on three times to vote: for a new constitution that made them an integral part of Russia, for a Moscow-imposed president and to elect deputies to the State Duma. Each time there was a very high turnout and an incredibly high vote for what the Kremlin wanted. Next March, Chechnya will surely overwhelmingly endorse President Vladimir Putin's re-election.
Ballot results seem to indicate that nine out of 10 Chechens fully support the Kremlin. But the ongoing deadly guerrilla war and the failure to capture rebel leaders displays a totally different picture -- of a population solidly supporting and shielding the resistance.
HERZLIYA, Israel (Reuters) - Israeli commandos planned to assassinate Saddam Hussein at a funeral after the 1991 Gulf War, but the operation was aborted after five soldiers were killed in training, security sources say.
Military censors lifted a decade-old ban on reporting the plan on Monday, allowing newspapers to publish details of the aborted mission just days after the ousted Iraqi leader was captured by U.S. forces in Iraq.
The Israeli government never got as far as approving the plan, meant to retaliate for Scud missile attacks on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.
Israeli commandos would have been dropped deep in Iraqi territory several km (miles) from a cemetery where Saddam was expected at the funeral of an uncle who was believed by Israeli military intelligence to be near death.
The soldiers would have fired a specially adapted "smart" missile with a small camera in its nose, allowing them to target Saddam amidst a crowd of officials, family members and bodyguards attending the funeral.
But the operation was abandoned after five soldiers were killed by a missile in a rehearsal of the mission at a training base in southern Israel on November 5, 1992. [...]
December 16, 2003
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is considering the evacuation of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and some isolated settlements in the West Bank.
"All the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip will be evacuated. At the end of the process, isolated settlements in Judea and Samaria will be evacuated," the Maariv daily said Tuesday, using the Israeli term for the West Bank. [...]
"However we look at it, Jews will not live in the Gaza Strip for long," the newspaper quoted Sharon as telling some of his cabinet ministers upon submitting his plan. [...]
Israeli invasion leaves 200
The Israeli occupation army in Gaza has destroyed 22 Palestinian homes in the town of Khan Yunis, leaving about 200 people homeless.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) based in Gaza area says the occupation troops entered the southern strip shortly after midnight on Monday.
"Heavy military vehicles and helicopters covered by intense shelling moved into the Khan Yunis refugee camp. During the operation, Israeli forces totally demolished 18 houses and partially destroyed four others leaving around 200 people homeless," said a spokesperson for the organisation.
Witnesses told Aljazeera.net the inhabitants of the houses destroyed or damaged in the attack fled their homes when they heard the Israeli military vehicles approaching the area.
"I had to gather my children and make them walk out in the middle of the night. The children were scared and crying because of all the noise from the tanks," said Umar Ahmad, a resident of Khan Yunis
ISLAMABAD: Contrary to claims made by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf that a bomb blast at a bridge near Rawalpindi was directed specifically at him, highly placed sources here say that he may have engineered the incident to retain Washington's support as a key ally in the war against terror and to strengthen his hold on power.
The sources on conditions of anonymity further went on to say that it was ironical that no one had as yet claimed responsibility for the blast. It was also inexplicable that the incumbent establishment was continuing to maintain a stoic silence about who may have been behind the so-called assassination bid.
It was their suspicion that Musharraf may have used the 'bid on his life' to convince the United States that he was still their best hope in Pakistan and in the South Asian region for cooperation as far as tackling the menace of global terrorism is concerned.
Domestically too, Musharraf may have wanted to send a message across to the Bush administration that attempts to remove him from power at this juncture, could damage efforts to usher in a democratic, secular system of government, especially in the wake of reports that religious extremism and militant activity were raising their ugly heads again. [...]
Comment: So what's the problem? If the US can fake attacks then why can't everyone else? Heck, why don't we all just start faking attacks. Perhaps we can go down to our local supermarket and fake an attack by the security guard and then sue the supermarket. Now I think about it, my dad has been really annoying me lately, maybe I should attack myself, blame it on him and then get my mother to throw him out of the house...
Cambodia to destroy more than 200 anti-aircraft
Cambodia is to destroy more than 200 Soviet-era surface-to-air missiles to ensure the weapons do not fall into the hands of international terrorists, officials said Tuesday. [...]
Grief overflows, anger flares as Hiroshima bomber
goes on display
Grief stricken Hiroshima survivors on Monday confronted the Enola Gay, the American warplane which unleashed the world's first atomic bomb in 1945, in a visit which jarred raw US emotions over Japan's role in World War II.
Six survivors and around 50 peace activists visited a new museum where the shiny, restored Boeing B-20 Superfortress has just gone on public display, holding pictures of hideously burned victims among tens of thousands killed or injured by the blast. [...]
Comment: Where else would an instrument of such hideous death and destruction be so revered as in the good old US of A?
French press slams Spain, Poland for EU
Newspapers called it "a crisis without precedent" and a "fiasco" and left no doubt as to the acrimony they said had been created by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and his Polish counterpart Leszek Miller.
"For the first time in its history, Europe has broken down, the wind has gone from all its sails," Le Journal du Dimanche said. "Spain and Poland can be put on the stand for having blown up any chance of compromise."
The two countries had put domestic politics ahead of the bid to forge a workable European identity, the paper stated.
It accused them, especially Spain, of seeking to maintain generous voting rights agreed under a treaty from three years ago that would be unworkable once the 15-nation European Union expands to 25 next May.
Poland, one of the incoming members, also tried to hit Germany with World War II guilt to win favourable terms for its businesses, the paper said. [...]
With the plan to create a 25-nation European Union that would move together now "broken down," both papers said a two-speed bloc would likely emerge.
"France and Germany could move ahead and show the example," Le Parisien said.
Le Journal du Dimanche said such a system was already being born, noting that Britain, France and Germany have been strengthening ties, notably with a view to creating a European defence unit drawn from their militaries.
Michael White and Ian Black
Tony Blair last night revealed that Britain has joined forces with France and Germany to demand cuts in the EU's budget that will effectively punish Poland and Spain for blocking agreement on the draft constitution at last weekend's Brussels summit.
Though no mention was made of punishing Warsaw and Madrid for insisting on keeping near-parity of EU voting rights with the "big four," the move to cap EU spending at 1% of the union's gross income will make it harder to fund aid to poorer regions, notably in Poland and Spain, as well as Greece and Portugal.
In a statement to the Commons, where the EU's failure was greeted with a mixture of despair and delight, the prime minister expressed sympathy for both sides in the weekend's voting row, and said Britain could live with either formula.
Mr Blair scornfully fought off Tory Eurosceptic charges that only "Polish courage" had saved Britain from being shackled by the constitution. He also insisted that most of Britain's "red line" negotiating positions on tax, social security and defence had been informally accepted. [...]
In Brussels, Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian prime minister, predicted that the stalemate would encourage a core group of countries to club together on defence, crime-fighting and immigration policy if Poland and Spain did not relent.
www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-15 21:49:35
BEIJING, Dec. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- China's Ministry of Public Security Monday issued a list of the first batch of four identified "Eastern Turkistan" terrorist organizations and 11 alleged members of the o rganizations.
Zhao Yongchen, deputy director of the counter-terrorism bureau of the ministry, called for the support of the international community in fighting the organizations and terrorists.
www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-16 10:24:49
LIMA, Dec. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Carlos Ferrero was sworn in on Monday as Peru's prime minister to replace Beatriz Merino following her resignation in the wake of a week-long, rumor-driven scandal.
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo Monday took the oath for his new and fourth cabinet in an attempt to stabilize his government.
Merino was accused of nepotism by seeking government jobs for her friends. Her lifestyle also came under attack by former prime minister, Jorge Fernandez Maldonado Solari.
www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-16 14:15:33
LIMA, Dec. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- More than 100 people were killed, hundreds injured and many arrested in the year-long political turmoil that led to the resignation of Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who took office on Aug. 6, 2002.
The conflicts in Bolivia started to worsen in mid-February, when riot police rebelled in La Paz, seats of the Government Palace and the Congress.
The police demanded wage hikes, while trade unions in other parts of the country raised similar demands.
Gary Hughes and Liz Minchin
Pharmaceutical companies are pouring millions of dollars into patient advocacy groups and medical organisations to help expand markets for their products.
They are also using sponsorships and educational grants to fund disease-awareness campaigns that urge people to see their doctors.
Many groups have become largely or totally reliant on pharmaceutical industry money, prompting concerns they are open to pressure from companies pushing their products. [...]
How the drug industry is branding itself with bioethics. [...]
Church leaders and members say they lost millions
Gregory Setser came across as a back-slapping, glad-handing good ol' boy who had hit upon a terrific way to make money and wanted to share his blessings with his Christian brethren nationwide.
Sacramento Assemblies of God leader Glen Cole said Setser's affable, born-again persona and connections to renowned evangelists persuaded him to invest millions of dollars in church funds in Setser's purported import-export business, International Products Investment Corp. (IPIC), which promised returns of as much as 50 percent within six months. Last month, federal agents charged Setser, a self-anointed evangelist from San Bernardino County, with masterminding a Ponzi scheme that fleeced at least 29 churches and hundreds of ministers nationwide out of $160 million. [...]
Comment: Knowledge of the psychopath can save your life.
The hunger in poor nations for going online is not without danger. With improved access, comes the threat of ever more internet security violations.
Comment: The main cause of the insecurity on the Internet is Microsoft software. The vast majority of viri and worms that appear and that spread so rampantly affect only Windows-based computers. However, by playing up a generalized danger, the "experts" can begin a clampdown, continue to centralize the Internet, and put in place the means for closing it down when they need to. Or if they don't close it down, they will be able to isolate parts. In a few years, the Internet as we now know it will be a thing of the past.
Smugglers arrested with less than three kilos of cocaine at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport will not be prosecuted under plans by the Dutch Government. [...]
Dutch web hosting company PGW Internet Solutions aided cyber scammer John Zuccarini in directing children looking for Disneyland, Harry Potter or Bob the Builder to explicit porn sites instead. The Register discovered that thousands of Zuccarini’s websites - including adaptac.com, gorgewbush.com and Bobthebiulder.com - were hosted from the Netherlands by PGW and its adult hosting company XXXextreme.nl.
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Politicians, celeb, the girl next door... everybody’s at it — fibbing, that is. In fact, a recent global survey conducted by the Institute of Refractory Findings (IRF) reveals that most people lie to themselves seven times daily and lie to others once or twice a day.
Coming to the specifics, the survey reveals that most people lie in 34 per cent of their total interaction with others and the regular liar deceives people around 30 times per week. While the most common lies include the usual suspects — ‘I never said that’ or ‘I was not there’ or ‘I did not do it’ — the question to ask is: what exactly compels people to lie?
‘‘There are probably as many alleged reasons as there are people. But in simple terms, all these reasons fall into one or more of three groups — fear, greed and hate,’’ analyses psychiatrist Samir Parikh, MD.
¨ 30% of managers lie in their internal reports
¨ 50% of college students lie to their mothers
¨ 70% of people lie to insurance companies
¨ 80% of people lie in their resumes
¨ 100% of dating couples lie to each other in conversation
Comment: We lie to ourselves all the time. We lie to ourselves when we think we make our own choices, that we are able to act, that we are more than miserable little reaction machines. How much of what we say and do is a mechanical reaction to the world around us? How often are we running automatic programs that get triggered without our even being aware?
An Investigation By RFD Columnist, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny
"MedImmune, the manufacturer of FluMist, recently announced that it signed an agreement that makes FluMist, the new intranasal influenza vaccine, readily available to people as they shop at Wal-Mart, the worlds biggest retailer."
As the physician in charge of a bustling Integrative medical clinic, questions about vaccines frequently arise. After reading about the MedImmune-Walmart joint venture, I felt compelled to warn our patients and our internet subscribers of the potentially serious complications that may come from direct and passive exposure to this new vaccine. I also wanted to give a "heads up" to everyone regarding the onslaught of advertising that is about to besiege them.
Hundreds of TV and print advertisements have been designed to persuade everyone into taking the FluMist plunge. The campaign will be the "most intense, direct-to-consumer marketing campaign ever waged for a vaccine," costing an estimated $25 million over the next 2.5 months. In addition, Wyeth, MedImmune’s partner, plans a three-year, $100 million campaign to encourage use of the nasal flu vaccine among physicians.
The television arm of the blitz campaign will focus on the "inconveniences" that your family, friends and co-workers will endure if you don’t get the flu shot and subsequently contract the flu. Print advertisements and magazine articles apparently will use scare tactics–similar to those that were used while promoting the smallpox vaccine–which warned of the high possibility of a "bioterror attack using the flu virus."
Apparently, the goal seems to center around frightening–or inducing enough guilt–that everyone would begin to demand the vaccine as soon as it is available. And at nearly $70 a dose, this will be a financial bonanza for MedImmune and Wyeth, who are expecting the vaccine to become the blockbuster new drug that will push MedImmune’s revenues to more than $1billion/year.
However, there are many reasons for caution. FluMist contains live (attenuated) influenza viruses that replicate in the nasopharynx of the vaccine recipient. The most common side effects include "cough, runny nose/nasal congestion, irritability, headaches, chills, muscle aches and fever > 100° F." These symptoms are nearly identical to those the flu vaccine is designed to prevent.
A cause for significant concern is the vaccine’s most prevalent side effects: "runny nose" and "nasal congestion." It has been documented that the live viruses from the vaccine can be shed (and potentially spread into the community) from recipient children for up to 21 days, and even longer from adults. Viral shedding also puts breastfeeding infants at risk if the mother has been given FluMist.
In addition to shedding via nasal secretions, the virus can be dispersed through sneezing. What is the normal physiological response when an irritant enters the nasal passages? A sneeze…sometimes a big sneeze…sometimes several big sneezes. Therefore, the risk for shedding–and spreading–live viruses throughout a school, church, workplace, or store — especially one which is administering the vaccine.
In the section of the FlumMist package insert labeled "PRECAUTIONS," the manufacturer states the following warning:
"FluMist® recipients should avoid close contact with immunocompromised individuals for at least 21 days."
The warning is specifically directed toward those living in the same household with an immunocompromised person, but the on-going release of live viruses throughout the community may be a significant risk to everyone who has a weak, or weakened, immune system.
The number of immunocompromised people in the United States is enormous:
is estimated that at least 10%, or more than 28 million people have
An even more extensive list of at-risk people includes the untold millions on drugs called corticosteroids. Prednisone®, Medrol®, and a variety of similar medications are given to both adults and children. These drugs are prescribed for dozens of conditions including asthma; allergies; eczema; emphysema; Crohn’s disease; multiple sclerosis; herniated spinal discs; acute muscular pain syndromes; and all types of rheumatoid and autoimmune diseases. As much as 60% of the entire population could be considered to be "chemically immunosuppressed." It is important to realize that FluMist is CONTRAINDICATED for people who are immunocompromised. People who receive FluMist and are living with an immunocompromised person put their loved ones at risk.
Will this make stores that administer the vaccines–like Walmart and the other pharmaceutical chain stores that have announced they will carry FluMist –risky places to shop for large segments of the population? What measures will be taken in these stores to ensure that the virus will not become commingled with food? What hand washing policy is going to be enforced in the stores for all Walmart employees and customers who have received FluMist? These are reasonable questions that deserve answers.
The target market for FluMist is "healthy children and adults, ages 5 to 49 yrs." Some believe that by vaccinating these people, a type of "herd immunity" will occur that will protect the very young and the elderly who are excluded from getting this vaccine. However, it is these very "at-risk" populations who may suffer the most from the flu by being exposed to people who are given FluMist.
According to information presented at the May, 2003 National Influenza Summit, approximately 85% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 50 go unvaccinated, and nearly 66% between the ages of 50 and 64 do not receive the flu vaccine. Have there been "raging epidemics" across the country due to lack of flu vaccinations? It appears that the massive campaign to vaccinate everyone this year appears may be motivated, in part, by economics.
The viruses suspected to be the most likely cause for the flu this season were negligibly different from the strains used in last year’s flu vaccine. Therefore, the influenza vaccine produced for the 2003-2004 season is identical in composition to the one used last year. This marks only the second time that the same strains have been used during two consecutive flu seasons. Consider that antibodies from other viral vaccines–such as MMR, polio and chickenpox vaccines–last at least 3 years, and in some instances, up to 15 years. If the viruses used in the vaccine are the same as last year, why is this year’s vaccine even necessary?
An ever greater concern about FluMist is the contents within the vaccine. Each 0.5ml of the formula contains 10 6.5-7.5 particles of live, attenuated influenza virus. That means that between 10 million and 100 million viral particles will be forcefully injected into the nostrils when administered. The viral strain was developed by serial passage through "specific pathogen-free primary chick kidney cells" and then grown in "specific pathogen-free eggs." That means that the culture media was free of pathogens that were specifically tested for, but not a culture that was necessarily "pathogen-free." The risk that the vaccine may contain contaminant avian retroviruses still remains. In addition, a stabilizing buffer containing potassium phosphate, sucrose (table sugar) and nearly 0.5 mg of monosodium glutamate (MSG) is added to each dose.
One of the most troubling concerns over the injection of this "chemical soup" is the potential for the viruses to enter directly into the brain. At the top of the nasal passages is a paper-thin bone called the cribriform plate. The olfactory nerves pass through this bone and line the nasal passages, carrying messenger molecules to the brain that are identified as "smells" familiar to us. The olfactory tract has long been recognized as a direct pathway to the brain. Intranasal injection of certain viruses has resulted in a serious brain infection called encephalitis, presumably by direct infection of the olfactory neurons that carried the viruses to the brain. Time will tell whether the live viruses in FluMist will become linked to cases of encephalitis.
The pharmaceutical companies do not necessarily always do a reasonable job of considering the "down side" when they are pushing new drugs or new vaccines. FluMist has the potential for causing the worst, most severe flu epidemic seen in years. Parents tell their young children not to put things up their noses because they might cause them harm. It would be wise to consider that advice for adults. With all the risks involved, one should be extremely cautious about what one allows to be sprayed in one’s nose.
Comment: The bottom line is this. Are you willing to trust the US government with your life?
Steve Connor, Science Editor
People at high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in later life possess hidden signs of the senile disorder decades before the onset of the illness, scientists have found.
The findings might eventually form the basis of a diagnostic test for Alzheimer's which could enable doctors to identify and treat people who would otherwise be destined to develop the progressive illness.
Abnormalities in the brain of people aged between 20 and 40, who carried a gene that is known to increase the risk of Alzheimer's, were discovered in a study by Eric Reiman and colleagues at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
The abnormalities do not appear to affect people's mental abilities but they do seem to indicate that something is beginning to happen long before the onset of the traditional symptoms of the disease, such as forgetfulness and mental distraction. The same "functional" abnormalities - low rates of glucose metabolism in specific regions of the brain - are also found in older patients with the disease, the scientists report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Alzheimer's disease affects some 10 per cent of people over the age of 65, and almost half of those aged 85 or over. [...]
A number of studies have suggested that people with active mental lives - those for instance who do crosswords or memory tests - are less prone to developing Alzheimer's. Some scientists have called this the "use it, or lose it" phenomenon.
Comment: "Use it or lose it" indeed. The Signs page is about "using it or losing it". To clarify:
David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent
Drinking alcohol does not just befuddle the brain, it may also cause it to shrink, according to a study.
Researchers found that just a few drinks every week could be enough to cause a decline in grey matter by middle age.
The study showed that moderate drinking did not reduce the risk of strokes, despite past findings to the contrary.
Heavy drinking is known to be linked to the loss of brain cells but the study links brain decline to moderate alcohol consumption as well.
Scientists at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, used magnetic resonance imaging scans to look at the brains of 1,909 volunteers aged 55 years and older.
Brain shrinkage was seen in men and women, the researchers reported in Stroke.
Yee in New York
Richard Hastings, analyst at Bernard Sands, said: "Wal-Mart shoppers are a huge aggregation of American society. The sales reflect that there are a lot of households insufficiently funded for the future," said Mr Hastings. "If you're an observer, you need to be very worried about this." [...]
Dollar Sets Life Lows Vs Euro (Again)
www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-16 19:06:20
NEW DELHI, Dec. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- At least 14 people were killed in south India's Andhra Pradesh as a severe cyclonic storm hit thestate's coastal belt late Monday night, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).
[...] A record 46 cm rainfall was recorded in Nagayalanka while the paddy and other commercial crops in the district were damaged in heavy rains.
Last Updated Mon, 15 Dec 2003 17:03:29
WHITEHORSE - Researchers say we need to know a lot more about Arctic parasites before global climate change allows the pests to spread to new species.
Parasitic animals such as blood flukes, warble flies and intestinal worms can cause disease.
SARS virus part bird and part
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The SARS virus looks like a combination of viruses from birds and mammals, Canadian researchers have said.
The finding suggests that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome arose just as many new strains of influenza do -- when a bird virus recombines with a virus in a mammal to take on a form that can infect humans. [...]
Long assumed to be a relic of the distant past, the Milky Way turns out to be a dynamic, living object
[...] But if the mysteries of time travel could ever be comprehended completely in theory, the prospect of sending any old subatomic particle into the past might be somewhat less daunting. In other words, the most conceivable form of time travel would not be sending actual bodies through time, but information - messages in a virtual bottle, subtle signals in patterns of particles that a sufficiently intelligent recipient might be able to interpret.
The reason such messages have (apparently) not yet arrived may merely be that science hasn't yet produced the technology for deciphering them. No doubt quantum technology will be involved, a field just in its infancy. And maybe more sophisticated mathematics will be needed to sort a back-in-time signal from all of today's electronic noise. It may be possible, of course, that e-mail messages from the future are already arriving, but are being filtered out as spam.
In any case, perhaps the first clue to time-messaging would be a lot of quantum physicists getting rich in the stock market. But perhaps the message from the future is that you should keep mum about such messages. If anybody found out, your advantage would be lost. [...]
Comment: We would also have to contend with hackers in the future. You can read physicist Arkadiusz Jadcyzk work in such areas in Physics and the Mysterious.
Meteors prompt calls to Coast Guard
Concerned residents from Bodega Bay to San Francisco Bay called the U.S. Coast Guard Sunday night, wondering what the bright lights in the sky might have been.
"They were very determined that it was flares, and so we treated it like it was," said Joe Ford, civilian search and rescue coordinator for the Coast Guard station in San Francisco.
Ford dispatched units to investigate after the calls came in a bunch at about 9:45 p.m.
As it turned out, however, no ships at sea were in trouble. The streaks were nothing more than meteors burning up as they entered the earth's atmosphere from the area of the sky where the constellation Gemini appears.
"It's making its annual pass through the earth's path," Ford said of the shower, known as the Geminids.
Typically, the Geminids provide for a pretty spectacular show, with a good number of relatively large, medium-speed meteors streaking across the sky in a graceful, descending arc.
"If you have not seen a mighty Geminid fireball arcing gracefully across an expanse of sky, then you have not seen a meteor," meteor experts David Levy and Stephen Edberg have written.
Some astronomers believe the Geminids to have been spawned not by a comet, as many are, but by an asteroid that crosses the orbit of Earth, according to Space.com. The Geminids typically peak on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14.
But others believe the shooting stars may be comet debris after all because the asteroid, known as 3200 Phaeton, might be the dead nucleus of a burned-out comet that somehow got trapped into an unusually tight orbit, Space.com reported.
While the peak has passed, sky-watchers say it pays off to keep looking for the next week or so, as some of the brightest fireballs of Geminids tend to be stragglers.
Smart soldiers decided to flee the Rings
[...] "I want battles like nothing anyone has ever seen on screen," Jackson said. I want every soldier fighting for himself - you have to come up with something."
Special effects designer Richard Taylor says this led to the writing of a "massive" principal code for the battle to give more than 200,000 digitized soldiers and some 6,000 horses distinctiveness and individuality.
"So to create these individual agents, there was a code that was especially written and developed," Taylor says, adding that it was like being involved in a living work of science fiction.
"It was the fact that you could get a computer to think for itself, that you could get 200,000 agents within the computer to think for themselves.
"So each of these computerized soldiers is assessing the environment around them, drawing on a repertoire of military moves that have been taught them through motion capture - determining how they will combat the enemy, step over the terrain, deal with obstacles in front of them through their own intelligence - and there's 200,000 of them doing that."
Basically, all the necessary information for decision-making was fed into this network of computers without determining for them whether they would win or lose.
But this attempt to ensure that they acted spontaneously almost sabotaged the the battleground sequences.
"For the first two years, the biggest problem we had was soldiers fleeing the field of battle," Taylor said.
"We could not make their computers stupid enough to not run away."
Comment: It seems it is possible to make a computer act intelligently, it is a much harder task to make it act as moronically as a human being.
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