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January 1, 2004

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Happy New World.

The dawning of the New Year is a moment when we look forward with hope; we make resolutions to improve ourselves, to change those weaknesses that seem to make our lives more difficult than they ought to be, or to change things that our friends tell us makes us disagreeable to be around. When we make these resolutions, we do it in the hope that the problems of the year just ended will dissolve and that the year ahead will be a period of health and prosperity for our families, friends, and ourselves.

Unfortunately, when we look at the state of the world, there is no real hope that such wishes will come to pass.

Let's face it. People have been trying to change the world for thousands upon thousands of years.

Doesn't seem to work, does it?

At least not as far as producing any sort of improvement.

Sure, there are those who will say that with electricity life is easier, with modern medicine we have eradicated many life-threatening diseases, with automation we are able to produce goods for more and more people, with modern agriculture we can feed many more people than was possible with the family farm, and with modern communications we are in instant contact with the world.

The problem is, there are still millions who starve every year, hundreds of thousands who die in hospitals of illnesses contracted in the hospital for some other ailment or from the drugs meant to cure something else, millions of people are out of work and can't afford the "good things" in life, not to mention the billions of people living in poverty in the "undeveloped" world.

So, for those who claim that the world has improved, it probably means "My life and the life of the people I know is better," provided they are living in the Western world.

However in recent years not even this is true for many people. With each year, things get worse: more and more unemployed, a deteriorating sense of security coupled with a rising sense of fear for the future.

The US is now in Iraq and Afghanistan killing thousands of innocent people in order to impose its rules and to ensure safe conduct for oil. This is being done in the name of the pompous, "we know best" illusion of "democracy."

As Gore Vidal said in a recent interview in response to the question, "Is the American administration interested at all in delivering democracy to the Middle East?":

"Are you crazy? We don't have it here, for God's sake. Why would we export it? We talk a lot about it."

We talk about a lot of things.

For thousands of years men and women have expounded philosophies, religious doctrines, moral codes, laws, rules, and regulations to improve the world, and none of them have worked. We are, on this first day of the year 2004, on the verge of a worldwide holocaust. We have the weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, to wipe all life off the face of the planet. As if that were not enough, numerous groups, particularly the Israelis, are working on ethnic specific weapons, that is, biological killers that will strike according to the victim's genetic code.

The most powerful country in the world, the United States, is led by a religious fanatic who believes he gets his orders from God, and those orders appear to be about bringing on the Second Coming of Bush's personal saviour by ushering in the End Times, Armageddon. Worse, there are millions of Americans who believe this, and who are eagerly awaiting this death and destruction because they are convinced that they will be excluded from any suffering and will be "saved."

The two most dangerous countries for the well-being of the entire planet are still holding their titles. The US remains in the hands of a religious cult. Israel remains in the hands of a religious cult.

At the other end of the spectrum, we see thousands of people saying "Yes" to the "Aliens." "Yes, please save us from ourselves."

Globally, human values have been replaced by market values, technological values, military values, and material values, if these terms are not oxymorons. Not that this is new.

While this is going on, Mother Earth appears to be taking things into her own hands. The human body fights an infection through fever; looks like the planet is trying that on us. Global warming led to the hottest year on record in 2003. But it is not only the heat; there have been a series of earthquakes ringing the planet like a bell. What will their effect be on the earth's super-volcanos?

In the skies, the sun fired off several geomagnetic storms our way this fall, and sunspots are way up; so much activity so long after the current solar maximum was due to end is more than odd.

What if all of this is connected?

The rationalists will, of course, discredit this notion. But one look at the daily papers, or the Signs of the Times page, will show you where rationalism has gotten us. The materialistic scientific world is squeezing the soul out of the planet. The mechanical reaction to this is the rise of fundamentalism in all its forms: a mechanical religiosity as divorced from the spirit as is the hard science driven by the market economy. Both operate on dogma and a closed system of rules. Let us call this mechanical nature "anthropoid," to distinguish it from what we believe to be "human."

We live in a world of science and religion created by and for anthropoids, for people who are incapable of having a critical thought, who seek their intellectual nourishment at the breast of Hollywood.

However, there continue to be seekers who, troubled by the terror of the situation, are seeking a way out.

The problem appears to be that people are trying to work on a level that is incapable of producing any real change, the level of the external world, the world of maya, of illusion.

Well, if we can't "change the world," then perhaps we can change ourselves.

This is another popular idea, and the money dealers and idea marketers have flooded the market with a lot of "opportunities" available for those who choose this route. They range in price, from the self-help sections of women's and pop psychology magazines to expensive weekends in exclusive retreats with your guaranteed personal contact with the guru of the month. You can meditate, visualize, listen to tapes or CDs to change your brain waves, immerse yourself in a cocoon of love and light, focus only on the "positive," learn to deal with "stress," chant in the Great Pyramid, cover yourself in crystals, cleanse your house and spirit with herbs, and on and on it goes. Undoubtedly the New Year will bring a slew of new possibilities.

But what if the initial idea is incorrect? What if you do not need to change your essential self?

What if the path to change lies in understanding yourself, seeing yourself as you really are, or, as has been said throughout time: Know Thyself.

What could this mean?

Many of the proposed short cuts suggest ways of "reprogramming" ourselves. However, adding new programmes or filters does not change the underlying structure of the human personality; it simply adds more floors to an already faulty foundation. Rather than constructing on the existing personality, perhaps a better approach is to look carefully at what already exists within us, to see how it operates, how it influences our ability to see the world, and to act upon it.

Rather than reprogramming ourselves, is there a way to deprogramme ourselves? To enter into contact with the part that is Eternal, that is, the only part of us that is not temporary and illusory?

What do we see when we study ourselves?

The first thing we can see is the workings of our own minds: the emotions and thoughts that run through us every minute of the day. What do we see when we begin to study these thoughts? We see that they are continually changing. Our thoughts, our mood, our emotions are not constant. It is as if we are made up of a thousand "selves" competing for attention and control. One of these "I"s can decide to make New Year's resolutions, in complete sincerity, determined to follow them through, but unfortunately, the morning after, another part of ourselves takes over and decides that all these changes are just a little too much work. With equal sincerity, we can find countless justifications to ignore our resolutions of the previous day.

We see we are not constant. How can we be constant with so many competing voices telling us what to do and not do!

We might even go so far as to say that "I" do not exist. There is no "one" home because there are so many at home.

What would life be like if we were able to bring these myriad little competing selves under the control of one, overriding "I"? We might be able to act for the first time in our lives. We could set goals that could be achieved because we could put our whole energy into making them happen.

We are not even aware of this fractured nature of our inner world, that we are incapable of thought and action because we are thought and we are acted upon by many differing voices. We are drifting in the stream of consciousness of our thousand little selves, carried along in the current without a canoe or a paddle.

But how to become truly ourselves, how to fuse these many little "I"s into one, real "I"?

There is a tradition which shows the way, a tradition that may well be the original source of many of the spiritual paths we know today. It is a tradition that appears here as Alchemy and there as Esoteric Christianity. It may well be the teaching of the man we have come to know as Jesus. This teaching begins with the constatation that man is a fractured, multiple self. It outlines the means by which we may fuse together these pieces of ourselves into a whole.

The conflicting selves generate internal tension, internal struggle with the "self." Parts of us pull in one direction, parts pull in another. This creates heat, an internal fire. In normal life, we find ways of extinguishing these flames, we seek inner consolation, self-calming, to paper over the discord, to push it aside so that we will no longer feel the suffering of our lack of internal coherence. We seek solace in our work, in sex, in entertainment. We do everything possible to avoid confronting the problem.

And yet it is this "problem," this heat, that shows the way out.

By confronting these contradictory aspects of ourselves, by refusing their domination or refusing to shove the problem under the rug, we generate an even greater internal heat, we stoke the fire that can eventually lead to the fusion of these little selves. The temporary, illusory "I"s can be burned away, and in their place arises the phoenix of our real "I," that eternal part of ourselves we have ignored and shut out.

The work of the Cassiopaean Experiment has been to unravel the threads of this teaching from the many sources, each of which forms a piece of the puzzle. There are many clues in the work of Gurdjieff. Another important piece has come from the work of Boris Mouravieff. The work of Carlos Castaneda and his tales of Don Juan appear to describe the same process in different terms, and certainly there are clues in the Sufi teachings of Ibn al-'Arabi.

There is one aspect of the teaching of these men that remains hidden or implied. It is rarely, if ever, confronted head-on. Yet it is the piece that puts the rest into focus, that gives context to the work as a whole.

This missing piece is the knowledge of the hyperdimensional nature of reality, a reality referred to in myth and legend, and now accepted as a legitimate hypothesis by many physicists. The Tradition, as it has come down to us through Gurdjieff and Mouravieff, the teachings of "Don Juan" as transmitted by Castaneda, often hint at the question of these realities but direct references are rare. Here at Cassiopaea this hypothesis forms an integral part of our work, it is the link which, in our opinion, holds the potential to reunite science and mysticism, recreating the true religion that is the birthright of humanity.

These other realities, or dimensions as they are called in mathematics, most likely exist in physical and not only mathematical terms. There is a large body of evidence, from Fortean phenomena to fairy tales that would indicate this. Of course, "accepted wisdom" will not admit it, and so these pieces of evidence are buried, and their proponents are denounced as cranks.

This knowledge of hyperdimensional reality gives a context to the model of man given in the esoteric tradition espoused by Gurdjieff and Mouravieff, and this context enables our understanding of the external world as well as our understanding of our inner world.

Externally, we come to understand that there is a force in the world which is working to keep us in ignorance. This is the force of entropy. This force works through each of us to keep us "in our place." But this is not all: the force of entropy is represented in all domains of existence, therefore, if there are higher realms, other realities, this force must be represented there as well. If so, then it follows logically that such forces of entropy might be working in our world as well, doing all in its power to keep us ignorant? Why do we assume that "man" is at the top of the evolutionary cycle? Why could man not be "food for the moon" as Gurdjieff described it? What is the true nature of human evolution? The powers that be have sought to keep humanity 100% body centric, imposing on us the conviction that any possible future must be of a 3 dimensional character. But what if this is not the case?

Internally, the understanding of hyperdimensions helps us to see that the contact with our higher centres may well be a contact with the eternal parts of "ourselves" that exist in these other realms.

The Tradition speaks of man's higher centres, pieces of ourselves with which we have lost touch. These centres are constantly knocking on the door of our awareness, yet we have lost the knowledge, the awareness and therefore the means of hearing this knock.

The loss of this contact is told in the myth of the Fall. These higher centres are parts of ourselves that may well extend into these other realities, these other dimensions or densities. By learning to forge a contact with them, we may be able to obtain the knowledge we need to find our way out, keeping in mind that the world is as it should be. Rather than trying to reshape the world into something it is not, our work is to learn all we can of the lessons this world has to offer. Having learned these lessons, we will no longer fit, we will move on.

By reading the signs of the times, we can come to the inner conviction that we no longer wish to remain in this mad world of the anthropoid. Coming to this conviction is not, however, enough. Once this decision is made, once the fire is lit, the torch that can lead us to a new world, it must be maintained and made to burn ever stronger, with greater and greater heat.

It is the work on the self that stokes the flames, the desire for contact with your eternal and real self.

The heat burns away the dross that obscures this self. What is this self?

It is love.

We open this new year with the words of St. Paul. When you touch this love within yourself, you will know that you have touched the Eternal. It is there that you will find the faith and hope to go on. This is not the love that comes from internal chemistry, the passing flash of the hormones or physical desire. It is the creative force that lies dormant within each of us, both the path home as well as the destination. It is Love: you, and me, and the fabric of our existence.

Our distance left to travel is measured in our distance from this flame within ourselves.

Love is patient, it is full of kindness, Love is not envious; Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up with pride, does nothing dishonest, does not seek its own interest, is not provoked to irritation, does not suspect evil, rejoices not in injustice but rejoices in the truth; it forgives all things, hopes all things and endures all things.

Love will never perish when prophecies come to an end, when tongues cease to be, when knowledge disappears.
(I Corinthians xiii: 4-8)

Britain reveals that during the 1973 oil crisis, the Heath government feared the US would invade the Gulf to secure oil supplies.

Israeli occupation forces kill another Palestinian youth for throwing rocks at the invaders.

Dick Cheney could be indicted for bribery, and Willie Nelson does his patriotic duty.

New Year's Day brings protests for democracy in Hong Kong, 22 deaths in the Philippines, and flying fridges in South Africa.

Picture of the Day:

The Pyrenees, January 1, 2004
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte

Iraq war hits sour note for Willie Nelson

DALLAS, Texas—Country music icon Willie Nelson has written a Christmas song protesting the war in Iraq.

Nelson, 70, said he wrote "Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth" after watching the news on Christmas Day and will play it in Austin, Texas on Saturday at a concert to benefit Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

Nelson said his new song criticized President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq and those who thought it unpatriotic to speak out against the war.

The song opens with the line "How much oil is one human life worth?" and swings into the chorus: "Hell they won't lie to me/ Not on my own damn TV/ But how much is a liar's word worth/ And whatever happened to peace on Earth?"

"I hope that there is some controversy," Nelson said yesterday. "If you write something like this and nobody says anything, then you probably haven't struck a nerve." [...]

Comment: The CBS interview contains this quip:

Asked if the song might anger conservative country music fans, he said, "I sure hope so. I don't care if people say, 'Who the hell does he think he is?' I know who I am."

Most U.S. Iraq Deaths Are Reservists

Will the French Indict Cheney?

The Nation
December 29, 2003

Yet another sordid chapter in the murky annals of Halliburton might well lead to the indictment of Dick Cheney by a French court on charges of bribery, money-laundering and misuse of corporate assets.

At the heart of the matter is a $6 billion gas liquification factory built in Nigeria on behalf of oil mammoth Shell by Halliburton--the company Cheney headed before becoming Vice President--in partnership with a large French petroengineering company, Technip. Nigeria has been rated by the anticorruption watchdog Transparency International as the second-most corrupt country in the world, surpassed only by Bangladesh.

One of France's best-known investigating magistrates, Judge Renaud van Ruymbeke--who came to fame by unearthing major French campaign finance scandals in the 1990s that led to a raft of indictments--has been conducting a probe of the Nigeria deal since October. And, three days before Christmas, the Paris daily Le Figaro front-paged the news that Judge van Ruymbeke had notified the Justice Ministry that Cheney might be among those eventually indicted as a result of his investigation. [...]

The notion that the judge's targeting of Cheney might be in part retaliatory for the Bush Administration's exclusion of France from Iraq reconstruction contracts is unlikely: Van Ruymbeke is notoriously independent, and his previous investigations have been aimed at politicians and parties of both right and left. He's also no stranger to the unsavory world of oil-and-gas politics, having previously investigated bribe-giving by the French petrogiant Elf--indeed, it was in the course of his Elf investigation that van Ruymbeke stumbled upon the Nigerian deal. [...]

The suspected bribe money was mostly ladled out between 1995 and 2000, when Cheney was Halliburton's CEO. The Journal du Dimanche reported on December 21 that "it is probable that some of the 'retrocommissions' found their way back to the United States" and asked, did this money go "to Halliburton's officials? To officials of the Republican Party?" These questions have so far gone unasked by America's media, which have completely ignored the explosive Le Figaro headline revealing the targeting of Cheney. It will be interesting to see if the US press looks seriously into this ticking time-bomb of a scandal before the November elections.

A Review of the Neo-Fascist Book An End to Evil

Karen Kwiatkowski

Why are we occupying Iraq, bombing the living hell out of Afghanistan, pestering Iran and Syria, genuflecting to Sharon, failing to deal with real threats to our nation while piddling away our resources building an empire nobody wants? How are our grandchildren going to pay for the unrestrained stupidity roaring out of the White House? How can we truly employ constitutional restrictions on centralized federal power? How do we stop the scourge of neo-Jacobinism in America?

A new book just released by Random House contains the answers to these questions and more. It is written by some of the most knowledgeable, wise and influential men in Washington today. The authors have taken valuable time from their days of thinking up phrases like "Axis of Evil" (Iran-Syria-Iraq-no-wait-not-Syria-need-a-non-Islamic-country-what-about-North-Korea) and shaping the oh-so-malleable minds of literally hundreds of National Review readers.

David Frum and Richard Perle have saved us all loads of time. We wanted real solutions for American’s foreign and domestic future, and by golly, they have delivered. I announce to you An End to Evil: Strategies for Victory in the War on Terror!

The book jacket says Frum and Perle have provided a few simple steps to make neo-conservatives, or as my friend Ray McGovern calls them, neo-fascists, very, very happy. And what’s not to like about that? To make a neo-fascist happy, we need only:

* Support the overthrow of the terrorist mullahs of Iran.
* End the terrorist regime of Syria.
* Regard Saudi Arabia and France not as friends but as rivals – maybe enemies.
* Withdraw support from the United Nations if it does not reform.
* Tighten immigration and security at home.
* Radically reorganize the CIA and the FBI.
* Squeeze China, and blockade North Korea to press that member of the axis of evil to abandon its nuclear program.
* Abandon the illusion that a Palestinian state will contribute in any important way to U.S. security.

These little Perles of inanity, these fluffy Frumpisms deserve a closer look. They tell us an enormous amount about misguided American empire and the neo-fascist state we are growing for ourselves like a new Audrey in our little shop of horrors. Feed me, Seymour!

Perhaps the subtitle for the book should have been not "Strategies for Victory" but "Little Shop of Horrors."

In case you missed the play and the movie, the story is about a gentle but not very forward-thinking flower-shop attendant named Seymour Krelbourn, and his innocent nurture of a plant that thrives on human blood. Seymour feeds it when it is little, and like the neo-fascist state we are building here at home and the benevolent empire abroad, it feeds on us when it gets bigger.

The difference between the horror in the play and the horror growing in Washington is that the man-eating plant has real personality and is hilariously fun. Our budding 21st century experiment with fascism promises to be far less entertaining.

But back to Frum and Perle’s enlightenment. The duo tells us to kill the enemy abroad ASAP, create new enemies just in case, and preemptively destroy the enemy at home. First, we eliminate (assassinate, invade, occupy directly or through puppetry) selected "terrorist" regimes, mainly in the Middle East and surrounds. No, silly, not Israel under Sharon or Uzbekistan! [...]

Secondly, Frum and Perle advocate creating new enemies around the world. These naturally include the easy-to-hate House of Saud and France, as well as China and the rest of the world as represented by membership in the United Nations. One might assume that UN member countries and Israel, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands will be exempt from eventual enemy status. Or not. [...]

Lastly, in case anyone missed it – world peace and security depends on the prevention of a Palestinian state. Period. In light of the hysterics evident in the promotional materials and the fact that I am already shaking in my boots, my advice is to simply submit to the whole shmiel. Ignore the illogic, suspend your disbelief, do what Perle and Frum say. Resistance is futile! You will adapt to service us. [...]

With predictable pedantry, they deliver not a blueprint for victory, but cheap lies and grotesque self-deception.

[Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon.]

US ready to seize Gulf oil in 1973

by Paul Reynolds
BBC News Online world affairs correspondent

The United States considered using force to seize oilfields in the Middle East during an oil embargo by Arab states in 1973, according to British government documents just made public.

The papers, released under the 30-year-rule, show that the British government took the threat so seriously that it drew up a detailed assessment of what the Americans might do.

It was thought that US airborne troops would seize the oil installations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and might even ask the British to do the same in Abu Dhabi.

The episode shows how the security of oil supplies is always at the forefront of governments' planning.

[...] The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) assessment said that the seizure of the oilfields was "the possibility uppermost in American thinking when they refer to the use of force; it has been reflected, we believe, in their contingency planning."

This phrase indicates some knowledge of American plans.

Other possibilities, such as the replacement of Arab rulers by "more amenable" leaders or a show of force by "gunboat diplomacy", are rejected as unlikely.

Heath feared US plan to invade Gulf

Owen Bowcott
The Guardian
Thursday January 1, 2004

Ted Heath's government feared - at the height of the 1973 oil crisis - that the White House was planning to invade Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to secure fuel supplies, according to Downing Street files released today.

Suspicions about Richard Nixon's administration, the documents show, were reinforced when the prime minister was only belatedly informed of a worldwide nuclear alert declared by the US.

The files released under the 30-year rule, expose a disturbing and acrimonious episode in "the special relationship" between London and Washington. [...]

The 22-page survey, delivered to the prime minister in December, warned that the most likely US military action was the seizure of oil-producing areas. Such a move might be triggered by a resumption of the Arab/Israeli war and protracted oil sanctions.

"The United States might consider it could not tolerate a situation in which the US and its allies were at the mercy of a group of unreasonable countries. We believe the American preference would be for a rapid operation conducted by themselves to seize oilfields. [...]

Israeli soldier arrested over shooting of British activist
Thursday, January 1, 2004. 9:35am (AEDT)

An Israeli soldier has been arrested in connection with a shooting in the Gaza Strip in April that left British peace activist Tom Hurndall brain dead, the Army has said.

The unnamed soldier had initially claimed that he returned fire at a man armed with a pistol, an Army statement said.

"However, following an intensive investigation by the military police of the Southern Command, the soldier admitted to shooting in proximity of an unarmed civilian in order to deter him," it said.

Mr Hurndall was hit in the head and critically wounded by sniper fire in the Rafah refugee camp on April 11 and was subsequently pronounced clinically dead.

He currently lies in a vegetative state at a London hospital. [...]

Israel kills Palestinian boy, expels activist to Gaza as Egypt resumes truce efforts

01-01-2004,08 :29

A 16-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed Jabr Saeed, was killed late Wednesday night after Israeli soldiers fired at him in the village of Usarin, east of the West Bank city of Nablus.

Comment: The victim was shot by the occupation forces because he had been throwing rocks at the occupying soldiers. Rocks vs guns. A fair fight, right? Yet there are Israelis and Jews the world over who consider this normal, who believe the occupiers have the right to fire live ammunition in response to rocks. To what extent do one's mental faculties need to be atrophied to believe such an outrageous idea? To what extent do one's human emotions need to be twisted and warped to see such a young man as an "animal," for this is the way many Israelis and Jews view the Palestinians. Yet who in this conflict are the ones acting like animals? That is, with none of the higher emotions that man can attain? Clearly the rapacious, bloodthirsty expulsion of the Palestinians from their land and the slow, willful strangulation of this entire people is bestial. But the Israeli, the Jew, will justify these actions on the basis of their covenant with Yahweh, their special status as the "Chosen People."

To what extent must one's mental faculties be atrophied to believe that you, and only your kin, are the specially chosen people of the Almighty?

And the Americans believe the same thing. Just wait until these two groups of "Chosen People" have to fight it out to decide which of them is on the top of the heap.

To what extent must one's mental faculties be atrophied to believe that you will be "raptured"? That god himself gives you your marching orders?

Happy New Year.

Israel targets Jerusalem's Palestinians

By Laila El-Haddad in Gaza
Monday 29 December 2003, 19:11 Makka Time, 16:11 GMT

Yasir Abu Mghair lives in the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Safafa. His wife of seven years comes from Yabta village near Hebron.

However, since Yasir is an Israeli resident, he cannot visit Yabta without prior planning and, due to an Israeli law passed last summer, his wife who holds a West Bank identity card cannot stay with him in Jerusalem.

As a result, the Abu Mghair family lives incognito, avoiding checkpoints, hospitals and government institutions.

The law is the latest in a series of measures by the Israeli government, aimed at reducing the number of Palestinians living in Jerusalem.

It bars West Bank or Gaza Palestinians from obtaining residency status or family re-unification permits in Israel or occupied East Jerusalem by marriage to an Israeli citizen or city resident.

To slowly force Palestinian residents out of the city, the Israeli Ministry of Interior is increasingly using Land expropriations, identity card seizure, exorbitant taxes and difficult-to-obtain building, family reunion and residency permits.

This will alter the demographic balance and ultimately predetermine the future status of Jerusalem.

“Our occupation is of a different kind than in the West Bank or Gaza,” said Huda al-Imam, director of the Centre for Jerusalem Studies at al-Quds University.

"It has a clear strategy of annexing the land of East Jerusalem while not annexing the people, but transferring them,” she added.

According to the Israeli Human Rights group B’tselem, the development of East Jerusalem, since its illegal annexation in 1967, has been based on political considerations designed to strengthen the Israeli control over the city, by creating a decisive majority of Jews.

In 1972, the Inter-ministerial Committee to Examine the Rate of Development for Jerusalem, otherwise known as the Gafni Committee, determined that a “demographic balance of Jews and Arabs must be maintained as it was at the end of 1972”.

The ratio was set at 73.5% Jews to 26.5% Palestinians.

To this end, Israel constructed about 39,000 housing units throughout East Jerusalem on land mainly expropriated from Palestinians following the 1967 war, and has encouraged Jews, especially those living abroad, to settle in them.

Israeli harassment

Palestinians, who at 200,000 make up approximately 32% of the city’s total population, are not allowed to build or live on this land and obtaining a building permit for other areas in the city is a costly and lengthy process.

As a result, most are forced to rent or leave the city altogether.

Meanwhile, through the 1950 Israeli Law of Return, Jews from any part of the world are guaranteed a right to Israeli citizenship and as a result a right to live in the city.

The irony of this situation has not escaped American Jerusalemites like Deema, who was denied a residency permit because she lives abroad.

Deema says the Israeli measures to force her out of the city are intolerable.

She recalled her encounter with two young American Jews who recently made Jerusalem their home and intended to move into the Old City.

“The irony is painful. Here are two women, both my age, who have lived their entire lives in New Jersey. They have no family in Jerusalem or Israel.

"Everything about them is American. And yet within a matter of months they were able to settle in the city with financial support and hold new Israeli passports,” Deema said.

Different laws

Palestinians who already possess Jerusalem identity cards are increasingly finding it difficult to maintain their residency status in Jerusalem.

A law passed by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in the late 1990s, declared that any Palestinian who has not lived in the city for seven continuous years loses his residency rights.

The Netanyahu law, whose time limit has since been changed to three years, does not apply to Israeli Jews.

Palestinians expatriates, like Cleveland-based Abu Khalid, are particularly vulnerable to this law. Although he holds a Jerusalem identity card, he was unable to attend his parents’ funerals in Jerusalem a few years ago.

Abu Khalid feared he would be forced to sign a document on his way back to the United States, forgoing his status as a Jerusalem resident and thereby his right to live in the city at any point in the future.

Such tactics are commonly employed by the Israeli Ministry of Interior to enforce the three-year law.

By not returning, he can at the least guarantee his identity card will not be confiscated. On the other hand, Abu Khalid has been unable to visit his family.

It is the sort of decision that many Jerusalem residents who live abroad are forced to make to retain their residency status.

“There is no way I would agree to give up my rights to my home,” said Abu Khalid. "So right now I’m waiting for a solution, before I decide to return.”

Restricted benefits

East Jerusalemites have a political status unique among Palestinians. They are considered neither Israeli nor Palestinian citizens, but rather “permanent residents” of East Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, Israel requires them to pay all the taxes that ''full-fledged'' citizens of the state pay, including the municipality tax, income tax, value-added tax (VAT) and most recently, a TV tax.

However, they do not receive equivalent benefits. The physical infrastructure of East Jerusalem is neglected and public services are poor or non-existent in many suburbs of the city.

“The Jerusalem Municipality has about 40% of its income from Arabs, but spends about 5% on us,” said East Jerusalem resident Hisham al-Bakri.

“Residents of the old city live in a ghetto and from a social and psychological angle it affects them. The families are getting bigger; over 15 people live in something like 10 square metres or so on average.

"In addition, there are a lot of settlements in and around the old city; that provokes people and makes our lives difficult,” added Huda al-Imam.

Heavy price

While the familiar blue Jerusalem ID card is the object of envy for many West Bank and Gaza residents, who rarely get a chance to visit the Old City, it remains a mixed bag for Jerusalemites.

“We are paying for it with gold, more than what it's worth and West Bank residents envy us for it. But since we live in Jerusalem, we must pay the price or leave,” said al-Bakri, who was forced to sell his house and rent instead, in order to keep up with the hefty fees of the city.

“They’ll find any excuse to make you pay extra. And in the end, if you don’t pay they either imprison you or take your hawia [ID card] away.”

At the end of the day, most say their ID card is well worth the price if it means they can remain in the city their ancestors had called home for centuries.

“Of course, I will stay despite all of this. The more pressure they put on us, the more incentive we have to stay put.”

FLASHBACK! Nazi Racial Legislation: The Nuremberg Laws

Firm in the knowledge that the purity of German blood is the basis for the survival of the German people and inspired by the unshakeable determination to safeguard the future of the German nation, the Reichstag has unanimously resolved upon the following law, which is promulgated herewith:

Section 1 Marriages between Jews and citizens of German or some related blood are forbidden. Such marriages contracted despite the law are invalid, even if they take place abroad in order to avoid the law.

Section 2 Sexual relations outside marriage between Jews and citizens of German or related blood are forbidden.

Section 3 Jews will not be permitted to employ female citizens of German or related blood who are under 45 years as housekeepers. [...]

The Reich Citizenship Law, 1935 Article 1 Section 1: A German subject is one who is a member of the protective union of the German Reich and is bound to it by special obligations. . . .

Section 2 1. A Reich citizen is that subject who is of German or related blood only and who through his behavior demonstrates that he is ready and able to serve faithfully the German people and Reich. 2. The right to citizenship of the Reich is acquired by the grant of citizenship papers. 3. A citizen of the Reich is the sole bearer of full political rights as provided by the law.

Security tight for New Year's after botched Israeli air strike in Gaza

07:31 AM EST Jan 01

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli police and soldiers on high alert fanned out across the country Wednesday, setting up roadblocks amid threats of revenge from the Islamic militant group Hamas after a botched Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip and fears of terror attacks timed for New Year's Eve.

[...] On the West Bank of the Jordan River late Wednesday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian who was in a group of youths throwing rocks at Israeli cars on a road west of Nablus, relatives said. The military said the youth was building a stone barrier across the road and tried to flee when soldiers told him to surrender.

Also, the military expelled a Palestinian, 25-year-old Mustafa Abed from a refugee camp next to Nablus, to the Gaza Strip late Wednesday, Palestinians said. Abed was the last of a group of 18 to be sent to Gaza. The military said they were involved in terrorism.

Tension rose after Israeli helicopters fired missiles Tuesday at a car in Gaza City, targeting two Hamas activists. No one was killed but the air strike on Hamas, the first in more than three months, jeopardized an apparent understanding under which Hamas halted bombings inside Israel and Israel stopped targeting its leaders.

Ayoon wa Azan (Reports On Financing Terrorism)

Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2003/12/31

All of a sudden, the financing of terrorism turned into an issue as important as terrorism itself. For months, I have been reading news and reports that started last September, when the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security started examining the case.

Matthew Levitt, who is one of the worst kinds of Sharonist apologists, testified before the subcommittee.

[...] Levitt based himself on his full commitment to Israel, which comes at the expense of any other consideration. He claimed before the subcommittee that every Islamic association existing in the U.S. is a front for terrorist organizations or finances terrorism. He did not stop there, but continued to claim that Saudi Arabia finances radical Islamic groups in the U.S., which in turn finance terrorism. His sources were of the kind of an Italian wiretapping operation on the members of an Al Qaeda cell in Europe, which reported that an important member was calming one of his staff, saying: "Don't worry about the money, because Saudi's money is yours."

Saudi's money, for a small employee working for an important employee in Al Qaeda, who were tapped in Italy and the tap reached an American Israeli? Levitt accepts this nonsense because it suits him. Then he complains that the official spokesman of the State Department Philip Ricker did not approve of Levitt's source. Ricker had praised Saudi Arabia's cooperation in the war on terror and said that the U.S. welcomes the Saudi efforts to control the financing of terrorism and confront it.

[...] The U.S. considers Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad as terrorist organizations, and this is an Israeli stance. I shall only consider these Islamic organizations to be terrorist groups the day they start fighting Americans or threatening American interests. As long as that is not the case, and as long as they focus exclusively on their war against Israel and only inside the land of confrontation, they are national liberation movements. I have already urged members of Hamas and Jihad time and again to stop their suicide attacks, arguing that these harmed their cause. I believe that no matter how just the cause is, it does not justify killing women and children. That is why I still call for stopping these operations immediately and unconditionally. I noticed that Aufhauser admitted in his lecture that Hamas and Hezbollah offer significant social services, especially in Palestine, and that they are even the effective government in some regions they work in, with respect to providing essential services.

U.S. security forces board British plane at Washington airport

07:31 AM EST Jan 01

WASHINGTON (AP) - FBI and U.S. Homeland Security Department officials boarded a British Airways jet shortly after it landed at Washington Dulles International Airport on Wednesday night and detained 247 passengers for about three hours, officials said.

An FBI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the detention of the passengers was not terrorist-related.

Comment: According to another report, "'There were a number of passengers on that British Airways flight that law enforcement officials wanted to speak with,' said an FBI spokeswoman who asked not to be named." As far as we can tell, there is no truth to the rumours that the FBI were there to deliver pizzas.

Military Escorts Air France Flight To LAX

NBC4 December 31, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- An Air France jetliner raised security concerns in Los Angeles for the second consecutive night Wednesday.

Air France Flight 68 was escorted by military fighter planes into LAX Wednesday evening. It is the same flight that has been the focus of several recent security concerns.

The Paris-to-Los Angeles flight was escorted to its landing Tuesday night, as well. The flight was canceled last week due to concerns over terrorism.

Wednesday night's flight landed without incident.

Comment: Given that the entire war on terrorism is bogus, these allegations of possible "terrorists" on Air France flights are merely designed to create an association between France and "terrorism" in the feeble, sheepish minds of the American public. Sadly, it will probably work.

Flashback: Air France Flights Land At LAX

Terrorism Warnings Delayed Air France Flights

NBC4 December 27, 2003

A total of six Air France flights between Los Angeles and Paris were canceled on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the request of American officials. The U.S. had information that terrorists may have had plans to take over the flights.

French investigators questioned seven men pointed out by U.S. intelligence but found no evidence they planned to use a Los Angeles-bound jet to launch terror attacks against the United States. The men were later released.

Flight Sent Back on Terror Fear, U.S. Officials Say

New York Times
January 1, 2004

WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 — The American authorities in the last week directed a United States-bound flight from Mexico to turn around in midair and imposed extraordinary security measures on at least six other incoming flights because of terrorist concerns, federal officials said Wednesday.

Officials were so concerned about possible attacks on at least five foreign flights that landed in the United States, including one on Wednesday night at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, that they moved the planes away from the main terminals and rescreened the passengers. [...]

Phildelphia Airport Security Chief Suspended

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

PHILADELPHIA — The federal security chief at the Philadelphia airport has been suspended while authorities investigate allegations of wrongdoing.

Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, the federal agency that oversees security screeners at airports, would not say why James Golden was suspended.

In a statement Wednesday, Golden disputed a WCAU-TV report that the TSA had decided to fire him for practices that included hiring and promoting his son-in-law and hiring a former exotic dancer to supervise screeners. [...]

US eases Iran sanctions for quake relief

Thursday 01 January 2004, 10:45 Makka Time, 7:45 GMT

US President George Bush has ordered an easing of some sanctions on Iran to speed up the flow of aid for victims of the massive Bam earthquake.

Under a special 90-day measure, non-profit groups and US citizens can donate money directly to non-governmental organisations working in Iran on reconstruction and relief efforts after the quake that killed up to 50,000 people.

The administration also moved to make it easier for relief groups to bring donated equipment such as satellite telephones and computers into the country.

Mexican Congress passes austere budget

By John Authers in Mexico City
Published: December 31 2003 20:50 | Last Updated: December 31 2003 20:50

Mexico's Congress passed a highly austere federal budget for 2004 in the early hours of Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours before the New Year constitutional deadline for making the decision, amid rancorous scenes.

Following the defeat of President Vicente Fox's ambitious proposals to raise taxes, Congress ended up passing a budget that was actually lower than the budget for 2003, and requiring the federal government to make drastic cuts to running costs.

Strong earthquake hits Taiwan on New Year's Day

A strong earthquake shook buildings in the Taiwan capital, Taipei, on Thursday, but no damage was immediately reported. [...]

Iran's Orphanages Overflow After Quake

Wednesday December 31, 2003 10:46 PM

KERMAN, Iran (AP) - Six-year-old Atefeh Razmi plays with a puzzle in the children's care center, waiting for her parents to come pick her up. "They will come see me soon," she says, smiling.

But like the 80 other children at the Kermanian Nursery Center, Atefeh is newly orphaned: Her parents were among the more than 28,000 people killed in southeast Iran's earthquake.

Five days after Friday's 6.6-magnitude quake, Iran's orphanages are rapidly filling as aid workers sort the living from the dead and deliver young survivors to the provincial capital of Kerman, 120 miles northwest of the destroyed ancient city of Bam.

An estimated 1,500 children have been recovered without family so far and are being held at orphanages. [...]

Tens of Thousands in Hong Kong Streets Demand Democracy

By Kim Coghill
January 1, 2004

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people streamed into Hong Kong streets on New Year's Day to demand greater democracy in the biggest march since huge protests in July shocked local leaders and Beijing.

Shouting "We demand more democracy," "Return power to the people" and "One man, one vote," political activists, workers and families filed slowly from a park in the busy Causeway Bay shopping district to government offices in central Hong Kong.

Organizers said 100,000 people had joined the march by 6 p.m. (5 a.m. EST), five times more than expected, while a Reuters photographer estimated the number at 70,000 to 80,000. Police refused to give a figure. [...]

22 dead, hundreds injured in raucous Philippines New Year welcome
01 January 2004 1102 hrs

MANILA : At least 22 people were killed and some 500 others injured as the Philippines ushered in the New Year with raucous celebrations that sparked fires, shootings and accidents.

Government hospitals reported 223 firecracker-related injuries in Manila, and the national total is "approaching 500," AFP quoted a health department official as saying.

Radio stations reported at least four shooting deaths in the capital along with four fires.

But at least some of the deaths were accidental, caused by revellers firing their handguns into the air. [...]

New Year's flying fridges warning

Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 13:16 GMT

South African police will crack down hard on anybody throwing old fridges from high-rise buildings during the New Year's holiday, they say. Police and soldiers are on patrol in Johannesburg's notorious Hillbrow suburb, famous for the practice.

Throwing heavy objects from balconies and firing guns have become something of a bad "New Year's institution," said police Inspector Kriben Naidoo. Revellers have been killed in the past after being hit by stray bullets.

It is not clear why Hillbrow residents have taken to seeing in the New Year by throwing objects such as fridges, microwave ovens, beds, rubbish bins and condoms out of their windows.

Some also aim their New Year fireworks horizontally, so they go from one high-rise apartment into another.

Police wear helmets and bullet-proof vests when on duty on New Year's Eve, reports AFP news agency. [...]

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