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December 20, 2003

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As the World Burns today: The US ambassador to Egypt meets with some journalists from Al-Ahram Weekly who ask some pointed questions. Rather than answering he gets nasty and evasive, but it makes for revealing, if disheartening reading. There really is no hope with these guys in power.

Or with any of the rest of them... even a government like France which the US ambassador qualifies as "not friendly" to the US.

Which doesn't mean there are no French citizens able to see the danger the world confronts in Bush:

The French news weekly L'Express has named George Bush "Man of the Year" with the appropriate title: The Man Who Ruined Our Year. We couldn't agree more.

Rumours are circulating throughout the Arab world that Saddam was actually caught days, if not weeks, prior to the US announcement. Georgie wanted to give himself a Christmas present and used the announcement to give himself a boost in the polls at a time when more and more questions were being asked about his Iraq policy. Chris Floyd points out, to those who say that the Bush Reich had NO policy in Iraq, that, to the contrary, they have been implementing a carefully worked out one: the replacement of a dictator who had stopped listening to them by one who will. And the man in question, Ahmed Chalabi, gets his picture in the paper with the prisoner himself, Saddam. Who owns the newspaper where the picture appeared? Chalabi himself. Guess he has learned a thing or two from Berlusconi. BBC reporters have apparently been prohibited from referring to Saddam as a dictator.

It seems a few more people are declaring that Bush's lies about Iraq are grounds for impeachment. But don't worry, they'll soon be terrified into submission by the new al-Qaeda warning. This time it's a female suicide bomber in New York, or maybe some other city, but the Bush Reich isn't too sure since there isn't any actual intelligence to back up the warnings. This lack of intelligence seems to be a theme of the Bush administration, and in more ways than one... A free anti-Bush documentary makes the rounds in the US.

Next it will be Spanish PM Aznar who will get the souvenir photo. He is in Iraq today to meet with Saddam. Guess the gang are getting together to reminisce about old times.

Sharon's policy speech this week shows he is out to promote civil war between Palestinian factions. The White House, which came out Thursday with a "mixed" response, has decided after reflection that, no, they actually have no criticisms whatsoever of what Sharon said. The World Court is going to hear the case about the apartheid wall Israel is constructing to outdo both the South Africans and the Nazis, not that there is the remotest chance that Israel will listen to the verdict.

Israeli journalist Israel Shamir published a book of essays in October in France. After a campaign launched against the book by members of a monotheistic religion with significant connections in the French media, the book was withdrawn and burned. You can download Shamir's The Galilee Fl owers in pdf.

The flu outbreak in the US claims the lives of 42 children, deadly landslides hit the Philippines, and there's some good news for fans of hot cocoa.

Was Saddam actually captured on December13 ?

Albawaba.com
18-12-2003

Nearly a week after the arrest of Saddam Hussein, some serious questions regarding the ousted leader's capture have started to emerge; questions that may unfortunately remain unanswered. Analysts, journalists and Muslims all over the world are casting heavy doubts on the official U.S. version of Saddam Hussein's seizure.

The world currently has its eyes set on the pictures of bearded and tired-looking Saddam following his arrest. Speculations with regards to Saddam's actual location have also surfaced, and of course, when and where will he stand trial and who will eventually defend him. However, what was not significantly dealt with was the many uncertainties related to the capture of Saddam, especially whether he was actually arrested on the day the Americans said he was?

In the aftermath of Saddam's arrest and the media-hype which followed, many in the Arab world believe that Saddam was not in fact arrested on Saturday, December13 , but at least ten days beforehand, and arguments raised in defense of this notion are surely worth mentioning.

For one, it is not conceivable for the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] to bring someone, of the caliber of Saddam Hussein, straight in front of the media's cameras without having thoroughly interrogated him first. This was probably done over a period of several days, using the torture and sense deprivation techniques and methods that the U.S. is known for. Assuming this, there is no way that Saddam could have been caught on December13 .

Furthermore, U.S. President George W. Bush carefully timed the way he wanted the announcement to be made, so that it would have the maximum and right impact for him personally. Let us not forget how Bush sneaked his way to Baghdad during Thanksgiving, ate turkey with his soldiers as part of a Public Relations campaign he has embarked on, in view of the upcoming U.S. elections. Additionally, capturing Saddam right before Christmas can only do wonders for the U.S. leader's image…

Moreover, when the announcement came through, there were conflicting reports on where Saddam was actually captured. One report mentioned the town of Tikrit although the "spider hole" turned out not to be in Tikrit at all.

For those of you with a sharp eye, you probably noticed that the announcement of Saddam’s capture came only a few days after penalties for Syria had been announced as there was widespread dissatisfaction among Americans that Bush’s policy in Iraq had failed due to the high rate of U.S. soldiers being killed on a daily basis and the failure to find any "weapons of mass destruction", which prompted the U.S. army to invade Iraq in the first place. Such an announcement on Saddam's arrest could only boost the morale of U.S. troops, who have suffered many casualties, especially following the so-called official ending of combat in Iraq.

Furthermore, Bush wanted to divert the world's attention from the mounting U.S. failures in Afghanistan and from the intelligence and operational failure to put his hands on Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Instead, it was easy for Bush to exploit the capture of Saddam and play around with the manner in which it was conducted.

Just days before December13 , US officials were talking about putting Saddam Hussein on trial and were even changing the law to try former Iraqi regime members.

Interesting timing – no?

In addition, only ten days before December13 , Jihad fighters in Iraq had already announced that Saddam Hussein had been captured by the U.S. after intense fighting involving thousands of soldiers, although the Pentagon denied this at the time. In addition, the U.S. media, which pumps information from the administration, has not been accurate in its reports throughout the entire war in Iraq, so why should they be accurate now with regards to Saddam's capture?

Even Saddam’s personal doctor claimed, after watching footage of his capture and treatment, that it is impossible for Hussein to remain compliant unless he had been heavily sedated for several days. His daughter, who currently resides in Jordan, also said her father seemed heavily sedated.

Another eye-raising question is why Saddam had not put up the slightest resistance, even though he was reportedly armed. Perhaps, Saddam was indeed secretly medicated not to resist before the U.S. forces raided his hiding place.

Several speculations claim Saddam Hussein was not actually in hiding but that he was a prisoner. The story says that Hussein was actually caught on November16 , and held in the dark hole in Adwar for at least three weeks, while his captors attempted to get the $25 million that the U.S. promised to anyone who found the ousted leader.

Another story circulating on the streets of Baghdad concerns a photograph of two American soldiers standing beside a date palm tree. The photo was supposedly taken on the day of Saddam's capture. However, according to the story, any Iraqi would know that this picture was a fake, because date palms are usually harvested in the summer time. In any case, un-harvested dates fall off the tree before December, and even if they don't, they are brown and dry, not yellow, as they are in the photograph.

Meanwhile, there are uncertainties about how the Americans could pull off such a fast DNA test to verify that they had the real Saddam in their hands. Under normal conditions, it can take up to a month to get a DNA study done, although if you pay more money, the process can be completed in a period of five days.

Yet, the question also remains why, for instance, did Saddam look so confused shortly after his capture? A former Republican Guard officer in the village of Al-Dour, near where Saddam was captured, claimed that some believe the hole had been struck with nerve gas. Dead birds and other apparently drugged animals were discovered around the hideout shortly after the former Iraqi president's capture.

The U.S. government, known for their habit to "preach" democracy and other such values, should perhaps realize, once and for all, that the world is sick and tired of their biased stands as well as their inaccurate approach in conveying information. Why should Arabs believe the "December13 " version of their story when such conflicting and contradicting information accompanies it? How can one believe anything the U.S. says when the world still awaits to see the location of the Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction"? Maybe it is time for the U.S. to just leave Arabs and Muslims alone, to pull out of Iraqi lands and instead, focus on their own domestic problems at home.

World Court to study apartheid wall

Saturday 20 December 2003, 9:47 Makka Time, 6:47 GMT

The World Court has said it will hold hearings in February on the legal consequences of the building of the controversial apartheid wall by Israel in the West Bank.

[...] An opinion by the court would add to diplomatic pressure on Israel and carries more legal weight than a General Assembly resolution, which is nonbinding.

UN vote

Earlier in December, the UN General Assembly voted for a Palestinian-initiated resolution to ask The Hague-based International Court of Justice - also known as the World Court - whether Israel was legally obliged to tear down the apartheid wall it was constructing in the Palestinian territory.

Comment: As if Israel would all of a sudden start respecting international law. They are above the law, it is clear this is how they view themselves. It is clear this is how the United States views itself, too. And how the US views Israel. This double standard, and the actions that proceed from it, is the basis of the mounting feeling against both of these countries. The international community sees that Israel is never held to account for its barbarism, the US for its invasions and interventions in the affairs of other countries.

In recent years, the definition of "anti-Semitism" is being changed by the partisans of Israel into any critical word whatsoever pronounced against the policies of the Israeli government. Condemn the brutal treatment of the Palestinians, you are denounced as "anti-Semite." The European population, seeing clearly the acts of Israel, declares that it is the greatest threat to peace: more denunciations of "anti-Semitism" from the professionals of Jewish uniqueness.

In October, Israel Shamir, a journalist who lives in Jaffa, published a book of his essays in French in France. Then a funny thing happened. Someone read the book and didn't like it, so he talked to someone, and the book was banned and then burned. Happens all the time, right. You don't like a book, you talk to a neighbor, or you write a letter to the local newspaper, tell them that you don't like it, and it gets burned. There's no need to talk about "power", about who owns what or who knows who. Anyone can get a book banned and burned. It's some sort of democratic right.

Shamir tells the story:

451 °F

By Israel Shamir

(Update on the decision of the French publisher, Balland, to withdraw and burn my book «L’Autre Visage d’Israël » after being threatened by Zionists.)

The story of the short life and untimely demise of my book l’Autre Visage d’Israël – the French translation of The Galilee Flowers (in English in PDF downloadable, for French book write to bordax@free.fr ) is an interesting case of study in Jewish influence in France.

Its main characters are:
- a good man, Franck Spengler of Blanche publishers,
- the owner of Balland, Denis Bourgeois, ex-chairman of Calmann-Levy, and a Jewish Zionist site.

The book was published by Editions Blanche, a subsidiary of Editions Balland on 9 October, 2003 and immediately a French Zionist website, called www.proche-orient.info attacked my book. In a long and tedious diatribe, a Johan Weisz , insisted the book is criminal under ‘hate laws’ for it calls for the alliance of Christendom and Islamic World.

It was not surprising: the Jews arrogated to themselves the supreme right to decide whom the rest should love or hate. As if the two world wars in the last century won’t suffice, now they insist the Christians and the Muslims should fight to the end, for the greater glory of Israel.

My immediate publisher, good Franck Spengler of Blanche publishers, rejected the claims of the Zionist hate-mongers in a witty letter to the owner of Balland, Denis Bourgeois (see below).

But Denis Bourgeois received his job after proving his devotion to the cause on the position of the chairman of Calmann-Levy, a big Jewish publishing company. After hearing His Master’s Voice, Denis Bourgeois ordered the book off the shelves and to the stake . This is the way of Jewish influence: buying publishers, promoting their own devotees and eventually scrapping the freedom of press and the freedom of speech.

The aristocracy of the Ancient Regime of pre-revolutionary France were not sufficiently cynical to invent the ‘hate crime’ statutes, and that was their undoing. If they were to hire Johan Weisz, Voltaire would be sentenced for ‘hate-crime’ and France would now be safely ruled by Louis, say, 25th . The Brits did not know they could accuse George Washington of ‘denigrating and demonising the whole people, innocent English women and men’. But an inner voice tells me George Washington or Maximilian Robespierre would remain nonplussed.

I have no quarrel with the Zionist site: they just do their usual worst. But the French stooges of theirs, the likes of Denis Bourgeois, who prepare the Judeo-American occupation of France, should be outed. They pave the road for the American tanks on their way from Baghdad, to Paris. They fully participate in destruction of Rafah, in massacres of Gaza and Jenin, in preparation of the assault on Damascus and Teheran. It is because of them President Chirac was forced into humiliating ‘condemning’ of the daring Dr Mahathir. They have no arguments, but money and power they misuse to shut up the voices of opposition. France can’t be free and lead the world to freedom until these stooges are exposed and denounced.

You may wish to express your feelings to Denis Bourgeois denis.bourgeois@balland.fr phone +33 (0)1 43 25 74 40 or to the good and noble Franck Spengler blanche@editions-mango.fr.

Comment: The book, The Galilee Flowers, is a heartbreaking series of essays written by Mr. Shamir since the outbreak of the current Intifada following Sharon's provocative visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000. He describes the brutality and petty viciousness of the Israeli occupation forces. We encourage you to download and read this book, as well as the other essays on his site. Mr. Shamir is a former journalist for Haaretz working from Moscow during the collapse of the Soviet system. That is, until he wrote an article calling for the return of the Palestinian refugees and the rebuilding of their ruined villages. He was fired.

Anyone has the power to get a journalist fired, right. You mention to a neighbor you don't like his story and....

Sharon slammed for 'unilateral' threat

Friday 19 December 2003, 14:47 Makka Time, 11:47 GMT

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has earned widespread criticism for his threat to impose a deal on the Palestinians.

Washington has opposed his planned unilateral moves, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have accused him of betrayal and Palestinians reject his "threatening" language.

The United States "would oppose any unilateral steps that block the road towards negotiations under the road map that leads to the two state vision," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan on Friday.

He was reacting to Sharon's proposal to implement his own "disengagement plan" should the Palestinians not meet their commitments under the US-backed road map peace plan in the coming months.

US ''very pleased'' with Sharon policy speech

19-12-2003,22 :16

The White House on Friday modified its appraisal of a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and reacted warmly to his latest prescription for how his country should interact with the Palestinians.

"We were very pleased with the overall speech," said President Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan, according to The AP.

[...] A day earlier, McClellan had given mixed reviews to Sharon's speech, cautioned Israel against acting unilaterally and suggested a meeting, very soon and without conditions, between Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.

Comment: Sharon hasn't changed a thing. His intention is to lock the Palestinians in a large concentration camp and turn up the heat so badly that they will either kill themselves through civil war or leave. He has been pursuing a consistent policy of promoting the tensions between Palestinian groups since the famous Road Map appeared this summer. The militant Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, agreed to a cease-fire this summer. It was only broken after Sharon's goons continued to provoke and attack the Palestinians, including carrying our assassination attempts of certain militant Palestinian leaders.

All the while, he castigated Arafat, prisoner in his own compound, for not controlling the Palestinians, after the Israelis had spent years dismantling the Palestinian infrastructure that would be needed.

The sick joke is that the US press buys the Sharonian lies and makes them front page news, all the while slandering the Palestinians. Gee, we wonder why.

See the above story about the banning and burning of Israel Shamir's book of essays for a clue...

Israel destroys 4000 Palestinian houses in three years: official

www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-19 07:26:12

GAZA, Dec. 18 (Xinhuanet) -- The number of Palestinian houses that were destroyed by the Israeli army in the West Bank and Gaza duringthe past three years has reached 4,000, a high-ranking Palestinian official said on Thursday.

Deifallah El-Akhras, director general of the Housing Ministry said that the financial losses out of the 4,000 completely destroying houses had exceeded 115 million US dollars over the pastthree years.

He told reporters that the houses that were partially damaged during tanks and aircraft shillings as well as opening fire had reached to 50,000 Palestinian houses, with losses of 40 million dollars.

Roads and highways were also destroyed by the Israeli army tanksand bulldozers in addition to streets infrastructure with a cost of102 million dollars, he said, adding that the total financial losses of the Israeli destruction had reached to 330 million dollars.

He warned over what he called "the continuation of this Israeli policy that is threatening human beings as well as all the Palestinian infrastructure."

"Israel has put a programmed plan to undermine the Palestinian infrastructure,”he added.

Israeli army raids Rafah refugee camp, destroys mosque

www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-19 07:03:24

GAZA, Dec. 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Two Israel Army tanks and a bulldozer demolished late on Thursday the walls of a mosque in Yebna refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah near the borderline with Egypt, Palestinian sources said.

The sources said that the tanks fired two rockets against Al-Tawheed Mosque before a military bulldozer started demolishing its walls.

Don’t give Sharon the excuse he needs to make war on peace

History has yet to render a verdict on Ariel Sharon, but the evidence for his having been one of the most destructive and disruptive forces in the Middle East is overwhelming. For this reason, the Israeli prime minister’s words in a closely watched speech on Thursday must be viewed with even greater trepidation than would otherwise be the case. Having been accused recently of being unimaginative in dealing with the Palestinian issue, Sharon has clearly decided to get back on the offensive. Given his record, that cannot be anything but bad news for anyone who wants to see tensions reduced and dialogue resumed.

The contradictions in Sharon’s speech were flagrant: He called for talks with people whom he has spurned and even threatened to kill for three years; he set the stage for the conclusion of those talks when there is not yet a hint of when they might begin; he claimed that the Palestinians could obtain more by negotiating than by waiting for him to implement a program of unilateral separation but has repeatedly vowed to deny his interlocutors their basic rights.

Close encounter with a US diplomat

US Ambassador in Egypt, David Welch, is a diplomat who does not mince his words. But then, neither do Al-Ahram Weekly journalists -- which made for a lively encounter at Al-Ahram's offices on Monday. Below are extracts from a two-hour round table discussion between Welch and a number of Weekly staff members

[...] Nevine Khalil: And what if there is democracy in the region and the people decide to elect governments that are not friendly to the US? What would you do about that?

Welch: You mean like France? This is a good opening. Forgive me because I am not a very good diplomat and I tend to say what's on my mind and I say it straight. It may at times bother you a little bit, but I don't mean any offense. I just believe in honesty. So I am going to be very honest.

Comment: Watch the US ambassador blow hot air! Putting France in the ranks of countries that are not friendly to the US!

The entire interview is worth reading because it shows how incapable the members of the Bush Reich are of listening to others. The discussion over the video of Saddam's medical exam makes this clear. Welch sees nothing wrong with showing this because Saddam was an awful tyrant. When the journalists seek to go deeper into the discussion, speaking of how it was humiliating and had an adverse effect in the Arab world, Welch refuses, saying it is "boring," and wants to move on. This is the attitude of the US towards the rest of the world. He refuses to acknowledge that this could be a legitimate concern of his interviewers. He is incapable of putting himself in their shoes.

And there is this gem of an exchange over US support for Saddam:

Welch: [...] Saddam Hussein is really a very interesting figure in your history, whatever your history is. For a period of time he could commit mass murder on a genocidal scale with absolutely no response but silence.

Abdou: As well as the US.

Welch: Really?

Abdou: Certainly not an adequate response.

Welch: But it wasn't silence. When the history is written about this man's legacy in this part of the world, as unfortunate as it is, I hope that you will be self critical enough to make a contribution.

Abdou: Absolutely.

Nkrumah: But so should you, Mr Ambassador. You should be self critical about your role in arming him all those years, of using him as a weapon to fight Khomeini in Iran, and that is critically important, and everyone here is aware of that. Who drew the borders of Iraq and Kuwait? It was the British. Who armed Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war? It was your government. These are facts that everyone is aware of here. It seems that the only people who are not aware are the Bush administration.

Welch: Again, I find those assertions contestable, collectively and individually, but that's not the point we are at right now. Even if you accepted that theory, we have been sufficiently self critical to reverse ourselves and go on moving, and that's not a bad place to be at.

Comment: So Welch finds the assertions "contestable", but, then, even if they were true, gee, "we have been sufficiently self critical to reverse ourselves". Of course, that ignores the fact that this "reversal" only occurred after Saddam stopping obeying the diktat of the US!

What will Welch have to say about the following?

Rumsfeld Visited Baghdad in 1984 to Reassure Iraqis, Documents Show
Trip Followed Criticism Of Chemical Arms' Use

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 19, 2003; Page A42

Donald H. Rumsfeld went to Baghdad in March 1984 with instructions to deliver a private message about weapons of mass destruction: that the United States' public criticism of Iraq for using chemical weapons would not derail Washington's attempts to forge a better relationship, according to newly declassified documents. [...]

Bremer tells of close call in Iraq

Michelle Faul
Associated Press
Dec. 20, 2003 12:00 AM

BAGHDAD - L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian official in Iraq, said Friday that he was not hurt in a guerrilla attack on his convoy early this month. The military said the assault was carried out with a roadside bomb and small-arms fire. [...]

Medical evacuations from Iraq near 11,000

By Mark Benjamin
United Press International
Published 12/18/2003 3:05 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The total number of wounded soldiers and medical evacuations from the war in Iraq is nearing 11,000, according to new Pentagon data provided in response to a request from United Press International.

The military has made 8,581 medical evacuations from Operation Iraqi Freedom for non-hostile causes in addition to the 2,273 wounded -- a total of 10,854, according to the new data. The Pentagon says that 457 troops have died.

Three Iraqi policemen shot dead by US troops near Kirkuk

20-12-2003,10 :14

U.S. soldiers mistakenly shot and killed three Iraqi police officers and injured two others, thinking they were bandits, an Iraqi police officer said Saturday.

The policemen were manning a checkpoint on a road in the Suleiman Beg area, some 90 kilometers south of Kirkuk city, in northeast Iraq, when American troops opened fire on them around midnight Friday, said Lt. Salam Zangana of the Kirkuk police force. He said two other policemen were wounded.

Spanish PM pays surprise visit to Iraq

20-12-2003

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar paid a surprise visit to his troops in Iraq on Saturday, his office said.

Hard Questions We Need To Ask About Saddam

Patrick Seale Al-Hayat 2003/12/19

Was Saddam Hussein, in President Bush's words, a 'torturer, murderer and disgusting tyrant'?

Yes he was. His rule was cruel beyond imagining, and far beyond what might have been required to keep a restive population down. He was evidently a sadist, as were his sons and many in his immediate circle. Killing, kidnapping, flogging, raping were commonplace in his infamous prisons. Tongues were cut out for loose talk. A mere suspicion of disloyalty was a death sentence. He climbed to power over the corpses of his comrades and remained on top through a reign of terror.

Was this why the United States and Britain waged war against him?

No it was not. His record was well known. But, so long as he served the West's interests, a blind eye was turned to his human rights abuses and other brutalities. For eight blood-drenched years, from 1980 to 1988, he fought the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to contain the threat from the Ayatollah to the political order in the Arab Gulf. For all this time, he was armed, funded and befriended by the Western powers and by the Gulf States. His ambassador was the darling of Washington. His representatives were received with honors - and cheques - in London and Paris. Western companies sold him the components for his unconventional weapons. When he gassed Kurdish villagers at Halabjah, the West looked the other way. [...]

Was the 2003 war against Iraq legitimate?

No, it was not. It was waged on fraudulent premises and in violation of the UN Charter. The allegation that Saddam still possessed weapons of mass destruction was a crude pretext for an act of aggression. The charge that Saddam had links with Osama bin Laden was a lie put about by the Bush administration. The two wars against Iraq - the countless missiles, the cluster bombs, the depleted uranium shells, the wholesale destruction of infrastructure - together with the long years of sanctions between the wars -- killed more Iraqis than Saddam ever did. Two senor UN officials resigned in moral disgust at the wanton punishment the U.S. inflicted on Iraq.

Will the capture of Saddam secure George W Bush's re-election in November 2004?

Undoubtedly, it will help.

[...] But much can happen between now and November 2004. If the resistance continues, and if American casualties continue to mount, Bush's victory will come to seem hollow and his re-election will once more be in doubt.

Will the resistance in Iraq against the American occupation continue, now that Saddam has been removed from the scene?

The answer is probably yes, although much will depend on how the Americans behave. Saddam was not the leader of the resistance. He was profoundly hated by most Iraqis. [...]

Is America safer now that Saddam has been captured?

Nothing could be more doubtful. On the contrary, the indelible image of Saddam, the former head of state, being dragged like an outlaw from his rat-hole, has caused humiliation and anger. Paul Bremer's 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we got him!' may go down well in America but seems crudely arrogant and tactless in an Arab context. [...]

What does the United States want from Iraq?

[...] The question can, therefore, legitimately be posed: Do the United States and Britain genuinely want to see a strong, united and truly independent Iraq take its rightful place in the Arab family? Or do they want - as they have long sought - a weak, submissive, dependent Iraq, even perhaps a federal or decentralized Iraq, presenting no threat to Western oil interests or to Israel? [...]

Bush Buying Time With Saddam’s Paranoia

Walid Choucair Al-Hayat 2003/12/19

[...] There is no need to point out how much Saddam was useful to the Americans, at the expense of his own people, to the point that he was useful to them even when he was on the run, and now he benefits them as a prisoner.

The Bush administration exploited Saddam's being on the run with its promise to the Americans that they would capture him, in order to buy time amidst the growing demands for its withdrawal from Iraq as it had toppled the regime and hadn't found any weapons of mass destruction. Washington exaggerated the possibility of Saddam returning to power, claiming that he was leading the resistance to that end, which he dreamt of, in a bid to manipulate the public opinion and justify its continued control over Iraq. The Bush administration then benefited from the capture of Saddam to increase Bush's popularity, after it had dropped as a result of the growing costs of the attacks its forces in Iraq were enduring. It used the image of Saddam as a cave man to remobilize the public opinion around its 'civilizational mission' in the region, to the end of modernizing it and overcoming its underdevelopment. The American will use this trial and the ongoing debate about it to buy more time, considering the stumbling promises of transferring authority to the Iraqis and the failure to restore stability and rebuild the country, due to the lack of plans for the post-war period. It will try to use the prosecution of Arab leaders and Islamic countries, through this sick dictator, to extort information on this or that ruler… (as if Washington didn't know what relations this or that ruler had with Saddam).

Washington will try to drench us with the paranoia of dictatorship to make us forget that we are rightful, unlike Saddam.

Death Sentence To Whom?

Hazem Saghieh Al-Hayat 2003/12/17

Further, and more important, than Saddam Hussein: the culture and behavior that led Saddam to where he ended, and which could bring about any other Saddam.

Let us contemplate these quick typical shots:

- From his hole? Underground? He raises his hands and shouts in English: "I am Saddam Hussein. I am the President of Iraq and I want to negotiate." This does not suggest that the man was drugged, as some apologists claimed looking for excuses. But it does put across a deep cultural drugging effect that can only be found in Mel Brooks' "History of the World." The man who ruled Iraq and its millions, and launched a war after another, does not know that there are conditions for negotiations, and does not have the faintest idea about balance of power and politics.

However, this schizoid, illiterate man once had millions of Arab voices chanting his name and paying homage to him. This is the disaster!

The schizophrenia goes beyond Saddam.

U.S. Policy Over Iraq Gets a Thrashing

By Caroline McGregor
Staff Writer
Friday, Dec. 19, 2003. Page 2

President Vladimir Putin was at pains Thursday to describe the United States as a key partner in the fight on international terrorism -- before blasting U.S. policy on Iraq.

Unlike U.S. President George W. Bush, who links Iraq whenever possible to the campaign on terror, Putin sharply separated the two in the call-in show, calling them "separate problems and separate conversations."

"There were no international terrorists under Saddam Hussein," he said, repeating Russia's position that the invasion of Iraq was a violation of international law.

"Anything done without the UN Security Council's blessing cannot be recognized as fair or justified," he said.

[...] Georgia: On Abkhazia, the separatist Georgian region that Moscow has long supported in its simmering conflict with Tbilisi, Putin insisted that Russia respects Georgia's elected leaders and its territorial integrity, though internal ethnic rifts there were not Moscow's responsibility to mend. Russia would, however, be willing to act as a guarantor of any settlement reached by the two sides, he said.

Terror: Russia faces the threat of terrorism from those "who think that they have the right to control any area with dense Islamic populations," Putin said, adding that this concerns not only Chechnya. "We cannot allow this, otherwise it will be worse than Yugoslavia. It will be the Islamization of Russia in the worst form."

Immigration: Immigration is an acute problem, Putin said, since the country needs laborers but cannot afford to support those who come illegally. A "civilized" solution would be found, he said, without ruling out the need for a special law on immigration. The stream of Chinese workers to the Far East "should be regulated," he said. "We should know where, how many and what kind of immigrants we need and come up with a mechanism for attracting the necessary laborers."

Baltics: Russians living in the Baltic countries should receive the same protections as minorities elsewhere in Europe, he said, citing the example of Macedonia, where the OSCE ensures that Albanians are adequately represented in local government.

Global Eye -- Best-Laid Plans

By Chris Floyd

One of the constant refrains we hear from the malcontents carping about George W. Bush's triumphant crusade in Iraq is the charge -- the canard -- that the president and his crack team of advisers "had no plan" for the post-war period, that they've stumbled from crisis to crisis, changing policies without rhyme or reason, or have even "plunged off a cliff," as erstwhile war-hawk Newt Gingrich declared last week.

But to anyone not blinded by partisan ideology or irrational Bush-hatred, the evidence clearly shows that Team Bush has always had a very specific plan for remaking Iraq -- and is following it faithfully to this very day.

Of course, it's not always easy to discern the president's steadfast adherence to principle through the defeatist fog of the liberal American media. For instance, this month saw perhaps the most significant progress yet toward the fulfillment of Bush's master plan, yet there was not a word about it anywhere in America's media "Establishment." No, Britain's Financial Times and South Africa's Sunday Times provided the unvarnished truth last week.

We refer, of course, to the $40 million contract awarded by occupation authorities to a private security company called Erinys Iraq. This plucky start-up is one of the great success stories of the occupation, having already bagged big money to ride shotgun for Halliburton and Bechtel as they spread their beneficent tentacles throughout the conquered land. Now little Erinys will guard the Holy Grail of the entire invasion project: Iraq's oil industry.

Erinys is a joint venture between a large South African freebooting firm and a few choice Iraqi investors. How choice? They are intimates of Ahmad Chalabi: leader of the Iraqi National Congress exile group, member of the Bush-appointed Governing Council, convicted swindler, darling of the Pentagon -- and the Bush plan's designated tyrant-to-be, the Iraqi face of a compliant, corporate-run colonial outpost in Mesopotamia.

This has been the plan all along: to install a "strongman" in Iraq who can "hold the country together" and protect the imperial flank while America "projects its dominance" over the oil wealth -- and political life -- of the Middle East and Central Asia. There's no great secret here: Team Bush has been talking about it for years in the corporate-funded "think tanks" they inhabited during the Clinton interregnum. There, they published their dreams about a "new Pearl Harbor" that would "catalyze" the American public into supporting wide-ranging militarization at home and extensive "interventions" abroad. This vision was most clearly articulated in a September 2000 report published by the Cheney-Rumsfeld group, Project for the New American Century.

[...] Now, Chalabi's cronies at Erinys are hiring Chalabi's militiamen for the new "security" contract. In other words, Bush has given Chalabi armed control over Iraq's oil industry. This has drawn strident protests from other members of the Governing Council, who know exactly what it means: Chalabi's gun is pointed at the nation's jugular. But their voice is meaningless; Bush's word alone is law in Babylon.

That's why the occupation seems such a shambles. The stated policies don't really matter; they're just window dressing for the master plan. Thus they can be discarded the moment they're no longer politically expedient. What matters is getting the strongman in place -- Saddam 2.0, a more obedient, more presentable, less quirky upgrade, who will "invite" a lasting American military presence and uphold Bush's arbitrary decrees granting foreign corporations a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy.

Now, is this an evil plan, conceived in ignorance and arrogance, predicated on the war crime of military aggression, an act of terrorism on a scale than bin Laden could only dream of? You bet. But let's be fair: it is a plan. You can't say that Bush hasn't got one.

New Saddam photo in prison released by Iraqi newspaper

19-12-2003,09 :43

A historic picture of captured Saddam Hussein with Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress was released Thursday by an Iraqi newspaper. Saddam is seen in his prison cell, wearing traditional Arab garb, and forced to sit face to face with a one-time Iraqi exile who long opposed him.

[...] The newspaper is owned by Chalabi, a longtime opponent whom a captive Saddam was reportedly eager to meet. He visited the former president in his cell on Sunday, only hours after he was captured over the weekend hiding in a hole.

Comment: Step right up, ladies and gentlemen. You, too, can have your picture taken with the wild man of Iraq. Yes, sirree. Stand right next to him. He won't bite. He's quite harmless. Just move a little closer, there.

Be polite to Mr Saddam

By NIC CECIL
The Sun Newspaper
December 20, 2003

BARMY BBC bosses have banned reporters from calling tyrant Saddam Hussein a former dictator.

Instead, staff must refer to the barbaric mass murderer as "the deposed former President". [...]

Rhetorics of terrorism, homeland security at Richmond
University of Richmond students seek answers

By Kelly Gyenes
CNN
Friday, December 19, 2003 Posted: 12:25 PM EST (1725 GMT)

"What's the most important rhetorical issue confronting us?" University of Richmond professor Kevin Kuswa said he asked himself in designing a seminar offered this fall semester for the first time. The answer: Terrorism and homeland security.

"Everyone has it on their mind in some way or another," Kuswa said. "You can't really go a day or even an hour without some kind of reference to Iraq, terrorism, freedom and patriotism coming up." [...]

Qaeda Leader Says Chasing Americans in 'Homeland'

By Firouz Sedarat
Fri Dec 19, 2:40 PM ET

DUBAI (Reuters) - Arabic television al Jazeera on Friday aired an audio tape purportedly from al Qaeda's second in command Ayman al-Zawahri, saying his group was chasing Americans everywhere, including the United States.

"America has been defeated (by) our fighters despite all its military might, its weaponry ... With God's help we are still chasing Americans and their allies everywhere, including their homeland," said the speaker, believed to be Zawahri who the United States says is Osama bin Laden's deputy.

The warning came as a U.S. intelligence official said U.S. authorities were studying a terror threat to New York City and were "very concerned" by the volume of threats to U.S. interests at home and overseas. [...]

Intel Surge

ABCNEWS.com

Dec. 19 — Authorities are evaluating a surge of information related to possible terrorist threats to a number of cities in the United States, including New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., ABCNEWS has learned.

Threat information is coming from intelligence intercepts, interrogation of recent detainees and other methods, sources say.

Sources say the threat to New York City possibly involves a female suicide bomber, but no specific target has been identified and intelligence sources are still evaluating the credibility of this threat. The New York City Police Department released a statement saying it has "no credible intelligence pointing to a specific or imminent terrorist threat" in the city. [...]

Comment: Ah yes, it's the old, "We have no information about anything, but run for your lives!!" routine.

Anti-Bush Iraq documentary makes circuit

By Steve Gorman
Saturday December 20, 05:52 AM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In the midst of a film industry crackdown on digital movie piracy, filmmaker Robert Greenwald is urging rampant, unauthorised copying of his documentary criticising the Bush administration's reasons for invading Iraq.

The 56-minute film, "Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War," concludes that President George W. Bush and his team distorted intelligence data and misled the American public ahead of the March invasion that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Greenwald has bypassed cinemas and television, and instead has organised "parlour screenings" in thousands of homes across the United States with the help of Internet-based liberal advocacy group, MoveOn.org.

People attending can buy DVD or VHS copies that they in turn are urged to reproduce and pass along for free to others. [...]

Is lying about the reason for a war an impeachable offense?

By John W. Dean

12/20/03: (FindLaw) -- President George W. Bush has got a very serious problem. Before asking Congress for a joint resolution authorizing the use of U.S. military forces in Iraq, he made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason the United States needed to pursue the most radical actions any nation can undertake -- acts of war against another nation.

Now it is clear that many of his statements appear to be false. In the past, Bush's White House has been very good at sweeping ugly issues like this under the carpet, and out of sight. But it is not clear that they will be able to make the question of what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) go away -- unless, perhaps, they start another war.

That seems unlikely. Until the questions surrounding the Iraqi war are answered, Congress and the public may strongly resist more of President Bush's warmaking.

Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness. A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson's distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon's false statements about Watergate forced his resignation. [...]

To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose." [...]

Libya to scrap weapons of mass destruction

Saturday 20 December 2003, 11:10 Makka Time, 8:10 GMT

Qadhafi agreed after nine months of secret dealings with Washington and London

Libya has announced it is to eliminate all its weapons of mass destruction.

The North African country's foreign ministry said in a statement Libya "had decided on its free will to... completely eliminate the internationally banned weapons of mass destruction."

The statement said the agreement was reached after meetings with "experts" from Britain and the United States. No details were immediately available on the nature of these meetings, where they took place and when.

[...] "With today's announcement by its leader, Libya has begun the process of rejoining the community of nations," said Bush.

"And Colonel Qadhafi knows the way forward," he said. "Libya should carry out the commitments announced today. Libya should also fully engage in the war against terror."

Comment: Ya gotta love the segue from "had decided on its free will" to "the agreement was reached after meetings with 'experts' from Britain and the United States." Then Bush chimes in "Colonel Qadhafi knows the way forward." Indeed. The colonel's reprogramming is complete.

North Koreans could lose food aid

Saturday December 20, 10:19 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - Nearly four million North Koreans will be deprived of U.N. food rations by February if foreign donors do not provide more aid to the communist state, the head of the U.N. World Food Programme says. [...]

CDC says flu now epidemic in U.S.

Last Updated Fri, 19 Dec 2003 21:53:43

ATLANTA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has activated emergency operations to deal with the flu, which it now says can be called an epidemic in the United States.

The CDC estimates that 42 children in the U.S. have died from influenza, so far this season.

CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding says teams are out evaluating the efficacy of this year's shot. She says it's still too early to assess how severe the season will be.

"Obviously, this is very sobering and very worrisome to us. We are investigating the nature of the illness in children, and we will be reporting in some detail on the characteristics of the pediatric cases so that we can understand better what's happening in this population and we'll be able to provide better guidance to parents and clinicians about how to handle the situation," she said.

She says based on the number of reported cases, and the child deaths, it is fair to classify the outbreak as an epidemic. "From a practical perspective, given the number of people affected, I think it's fair to refer to it as an epidemic."

Gerberding says the season is following a typical flu pattern, except that it began much earlier than usual.

Earlier this week it was reported that two seven-year-old girls died Dec. 14 in Vancouver. Both are suspected to have died from influenza, although doctors say they can't be 100 per cent certain.

The flu is also blamed for the death of a child in Ontario.

Health officials in Canada are advising parents not to panic, just to take sensible precautions such as extra hand washing. They also strongly advise children with underlying health problems, such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung conditions to get a flu shot.

Influenza has been sweeping through North America this year. Most health officials agree this will be the worst flu season in 30 years.

South Korea confirms new bird flu cases

Saturday December 20, 08:08 AM

SEOUL (Reuters) - An outbreak of a highly contagious strain of bird flu has spread in South Korea, which plans to slaughter hundreds of thousands of ducks and chickens and disinfect farms to contain it.

Agriculture ministry officials reported two new cases of the virus, which can be deadly for humans, from one duck farm on Saturday and said experts were testing for three more suspected cases at another. [...]

Latest SARS infection may have come from leaking garbage

Last Updated Fri, 19 Dec 2003 19:11:28

TAIPEI - Investigators in Taiwan say a leak from a torn garbage bag is likely the cause of the first SARS infection in five months.

The bag was handled by a 44-year-old scientist who seems to have become infected in his military laboratory. The man was researching how Chinese herbal medicines affect the highly contagious virus.

Investigators from Taiwan's University Hospital say the scientist found the ripped bag, assumed it had been leaking for days, and placed it on a trash cart. They say the researcher thought the virus had already lost its effectiveness.

Zimbabwean government shuts down only independent newspaper

Last Updated Fri, 19 Dec 2003 19:40:15

HARARE - Riot police have shut down the printing press of Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper.

The closure defies a court order overturning a government ordered ban on publishing of the paper.

The Daily News had prepared an eight-page edition following the court ruling. But police sealed off entrances to the printing plant and ordered everyone to go home.

The paper published what appears to have been a hurried article on its website under the headline "Daily News Printing Press Shut Down!"

"Harare riot police on Friday afternoon surrounded the Daily News printing press in Southerton, Harare, preventing staff from publising in spite to (sic) the court ruling earlier the same day." There was no other information.

Zimbabwe's Information Minister Jonathan Moyo says the government does not recognize the court's authority on the issue.

The paper has been openly critical of President Robert Mugabe's rule since it was launched in 1999.

MasterCard checks out 'contactless' payments

By Alorie Gilbert
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Last modified: December 19, 2003, 5:49 AM PST

MasterCard International is planning to introduce a new payment technology across the United States next year that could simplify debit and credit card transactions for consumers.

The company's PayPass system is designed to let holders of credit and debit cards tap or wave their cards before a PayPass reader to make a payment, rather than swipe the cards and sign their name.

The company hopes the speedier process, which MasterCard has been testing with a number of Orlando, Fla., retailers over the past year, will replace cash transactions at quick-service businesses such as movie theaters, gas stations and fast-food restaurants. [...]

Comment: The next step: "Why carry around a bulky card when we can put a tiny implant in your hand?"

Some 100 feared dead in Philippine landslides

www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-20 15:34:48

MANILA, Dec. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Nearly 100 people were feared killed in landslides triggered by days of heavy rains in the central Philippines, officials said Saturday.

At least 13 people have been confirmed dead and over 80 others reported missing and feared buried alive in landslides in the towns of Liloan and San Francisco in the island province of Southern Leyte since late Friday, officials of the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.

Four die in crashes as fog, cold blanket northern India

NEW DELHI (AFP) Dec 19, 2003

At least four people died in traffic accidents Friday as dense fog blanketed northern India, crippling road and rail traffic, and the mercury dipped below normal, officials said. [...]

Statesboro man find meteor while picking butter beans

The Associated Press
December 20, 2003

An strange-looking rock that a Statesboro man tossed between two freezers and left there for three years may be a meteoric discovery.

In the summer of 2000, produce grower Harold Cannons bean picker machine lifted the 5 1/2-pound lump out of the ground while he was picking butter beans. He tossed the rock aside and kept working.

Three years later, Cannons wife asked him to clean up a bit, and he found the rock where he had chucked it between the freezers. He chipped off a little of the rock to see what it looked like inside and discovered that it was no ordinary rock. [...]

Test results determining its official classification are pending, but the meteorite has been classified as an L-chondrite, which is the type most commonly found, Kelley said.

The find is exciting because only 22 documented meteorites have been discovered in Georgia, one of which destroyed a Claxton mailbox in 1984, he said. [...]

U.K. Castle Cameras Catch Ghostly Visitor

Fri Dec 19, 1:51 PM ET
By JACK GARLAND, Associated Press Writer

LONDON - Are there ghostly goings-on at Henry VIII's palace, or is that hazy image of a fellow in fancy robes just a bit of Christmas cheer?

Closed-circuit security cameras at Hampton Court Palace, the huge Tudor castle outside London, seem to have snagged an ethereal visitor. Could it be a ghost?

"We're baffled too — it's not a joke, we haven't manufactured it," said Vikki Wood, a Hampton Court spokeswoman, when asked if the photo the palace released was a Christmas hoax. "We genuinely don't know who it is or what it is."

Wood said security guards had seen the figure in closed-circuit television footage after checking it to see who kept leaving open one of the palace's fire doors.

Man freed after judge mishears 'guilty' verdict

Ananova.com
14:56 Friday 19th December 2003

Legal experts in Australia admit they don't know what to do after a judge freed an alleged rapist because he misheard the jury's guilty verdict.

[...] Justice Riley has refused to bring the jury back to clarify the finding.

Ahhhh! Better Than Red Wine Or Green Tea, Cocoa Froths With Cancer-preventing Compounds, Cornell Food Scientists Say

Cornell University
2003-12-19

ITHACA, N.Y. -- There is a new reason to enjoy hot cocoa on a cold winter's night in front of a cozy fire. Consider it a health drink.

Beyond the froth, cocoa teems with antioxidants that prevent cancer, Cornell University food scientists say. Comparing the chemical anti-cancer activity in beverages known to contain antioxidants, they have found that cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times those found in green tea. [...]


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