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January 12, 2004

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Picture of the Day

Storm Chasing
©2004 Pierre-Paul Feyte


In order to understand the current state of the world, we need to understand humanity's natural predator - the psychopath. The psychopaths are in charge, and it appears that many people seem to be emulating them in order to survive. We focus on this topic often on the Signs page, since it has been one of the most misunderstood topics of our times. No surprise, since it is also one of the most relevant. These reaction machines have always affected every single one of us, often in the most direct and personal ways. It is a psychopath's world, we are just living in it.

The UK government is working hard and fast to keep pace with the US. They are just itching to declare UK citizens enemy combatants and send them to jail without a trial. The practice of disappearing, for years a CIA endorsed tactic in South America, may come into fashion sooner rather than later. Particularly when there are so many handy terrorist activities. Al-Qaeda is the best investment the CIA ever made.

Israel talks peace with the Syrians, the US talks war with the Syrians, what is really going on? We suspect the manipulative hand of Mossad may be working behind the scenes, and peace is never on their mind.

Thousands of cases of avian flu are discovered in chickens in Japan. Avian flu is deadly to humans, the "current" form is not contagious however. Thousands of newly-trained soldiers desert the Afghan National Army; US forces seize a weapons cache in Iraq; your deodorant may kill you and the next likely terrorist target is announced.

Snakes in suits and how to spot them

by Giles Whittell

Cold-blooded, remorseless egomaniacs in the boardroom are a hidden threat to your job, your savings and your investments. But our correspondent says the good news is that a new psychological test can flush them out.


Andrew Fastow, formerly of Enron, stands accused by an American court of taking $30 million (£20 million) in kickbacks from the company while its shareholders lost more than $70 billion. Bernie Ebbers, formerly of WorldCom, is said to have arranged for his telecommunications firm to lend him $408 million as it slid towards bankruptcy. John Rigas, founder of the Adelphia cable TV giant, built himself a $13 million private golf course and, it is claimed, "borrowed"more than $3 billion from company accounts for his family while his shareholders saw $60 billion wiped from their investments. And here is a perfectly sober conclusion: if guilty, they are all psychopaths. Not killers. Not rapists. Not necessarily even criminals. Just cold-blooded, remorseless, egomaniacal psychopaths.

It's a tricky word. Being a psychopath is not something that ordinary people aspire to, but neither does it have to involve face-eating cannibalism (Hannibal Lecter probably wasn't a psychopath at all). The central qualification is to show no conscience; to fail to empathise.

Fastow, Rigas and the other stars of the great corporate meltdown showed little sign of conscience before - or since - being accused by the lumbering US court system, and they share other symptoms of psychopathy.

They radiated charisma and authority, but hid much about themselves and their organisations. They revelled in risk, took no account of its potential cost to others or themselves, and rose to power during a time of chaos and upheaval.

When their worlds imploded, the markets staggered in disbelief. Hundreds of thousands of employees and investors lost pensions, savings and money they could ill-afford to have gambled. The bosses expressed scant regret and most of them continue to insist that they have done nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, regulators, FBI agents and forensic psychologists, not to mention the fleeced American middle class, continue to scratch their heads and wonder how these apparent shysters got to where they did.

A diffident-sounding Canadian academic with a trim grey beard has an answer; possibly the answer. He first voiced it publicly to an audience of Canadian police officers in Newfoundland in August. At the end of a talk on organised crime, Dr Robert Hare mentioned his belief that some of the year's worst accounting scandals could have been avoided if all chief executives were screened for psychopathic tendencies. He was quoted everywhere, not so much because of the sensational implication that some of America's best-known companies had been run for most of the 1990s by people with a major mental disorder, as because of who he is.

Hare defined psychopathy for modern scientists with an exhaustive questionnaire, sold only to clinicians, called the Psychopathy Checklist, or PCL-R. It was introduced in 1980 and has become an internationally recognised instrument for identifying psychopaths. It means that when a subject scores 30 (out of a possible 40) in a prison in Dundee, an expert in Detroit will have a good idea of his proclivities. That's the good news. The bad news is that the PCL-R revealed that psychopaths are everywhere. Most are non-violent, but all leave a trail of havoc through their families and work environments, using and abusing colleagues and loved ones, endlessly manipulating others, constantly reinventing themselves. Hare puts the average North American incidence of psychopathy at 1 per cent of the population, but the damage they inflict on society is out of all proportion to their numbers, not least because they gravitate to high-profile professions that offer the promise of control over others, such as law, politics, business management .. and journalism.

By the Hare definition there are 300,000 in Canada alone. There are at least as many in Britain- easily enough for you to know one; indeed, enough for you (3,500 of The Times' 700,000 buyers) to be one.

Despite this, spotting psychopaths is hard, though it may be about to get easier. Next year Hare and a New York-based colleague, Dr Paul Babiak, will publish a book called Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work, that will at least alert the average office worker to the possibility that her amusing but exasperating - and, frankly, narcissistic and untrustworthy - colleague may be clinically psychopathic. Hare and Babiak will also produce a new diagnostic tool based on the PCL-R but designed to help businesses to keep their recruits and senior management psychopath-free.

Enter the B-Scan. It won't be available to everyone, and it won't be free. Slightly jarringly, one is reminded that its authors are businessmen as well as academics. But they insist that it will do a better job of raising warning flags than traditional screening techniques such as CVs (routinely falsified and seldom checked) and interviews and role-playing ("Psychopaths love this stuff," Hare says. "It's like a game to them.").

If you are B-Scanned, it won't be you answering the questions. It will be your colleagues, grading your personal style, interpersonal relations, organisational maturity and antisocial tendencies according to 16 buzz words, none of them uplifting. They include the following:

insincere, arrogant, insensitive, remorseless, shallow, impatient, erratic, unreliable, unfocused, parasitic, dramatic, unethical and bullying.

Yikes. Who isn't most of these things, at least some of the time?

I meet Dr Hare in a London hotel and find him used to such anxieties. "I know, I know," he says. "People read this stuff and suddenly everyone around them is a psychopath. They pick up on three or four of the characteristics and say 'yeah, he's one'. But it's not like that. It's a medical syndrome. You've got to have the whole package."

And when you do, what does it look like? Hare gives an example, and not just any example. He first gave it to Nicole Kidman in a private meeting requested by her to help her prepare for her memorably chilly role in Malice.

"I gave her a scene," he says. "You're walking down the street and there's been an accident. A child has been hit by a car and is lying on the ground. There's a crowd around him. The mother's kneeling down there crying and emoting. You're curious but not appalled. You look at the child momentarily and then you look at the mother. You walk towards her, step in some blood and then study the mother's facial expressions for a minute or two. Then you walk back to your apartment or hotel room, walk into the bathroom and stand in front of the mirror practising those expressions. I said, 'If you did that, people would see that you don't understand emotion, you have no idea at all, you're a colour-blind person trying to explain colour'. They didn't use the scene, but they could have."

In the workplace such a person might resemble "Dave", a real individual studied by Babiak who cut a swath of disruption through a highly profitable American electronics company in the mid-1990s. Dave was good-looking, wellspoken and impressive in the interview that led to his recruitment. He was also a skilled and shameless liar, rude to subordinates, scheming towards his boss and quickly friendly with the firm's top management. Already on his third marriage by his mid-thirties, he was shorttempered, happy to ignore assignments that he felt were beneath him, and quick to change the subject if challenged on a lie or asked to produce some real evidence of work.

When his boss summoned the courage and evidence to make a complaint to the company president, he found that Dave had got there first and secured for himself the status of "high-potential employee".

The boss ended up sidelined. Dave ended up promoted, swaggering and "in love with himself". He scored 19 on the PCL-R, lower than you would expect for a psychopathic murderer but much higher than your average working non-psychopath. He or she would score a 5 at most.

People such as Dave can be spotted early. Babiak recommends checking CVs exhaustively and auditing expenses - psychopaths like to indulge. It all seems obvious, but for the past 10 or 12 years, for most of corporate America, it hasn't been. These have been tumultuous years in the world of business, with dot-coms booming and collapsing, older firms merging or shrinking to catch up, and hierarchies everywhere flattening faster than the boss can say: "Hey, c'mon in, my door is always open." In short, it has been a high old time for psychopaths.

"When you see what has happened with Enron and WorldCom and all these other big corporations, and you ask how the hell could this guy get in that position, well, there are answers," Hare says. "When the structure's not there, when charisma is extremely important and style wins over substance, and one person ends up with three or four hundred million pounds in an offshore bank account, I start to get suspicious.

And when the whole thing breaks and people are losing their pensions and livelihoods, these people give nothing back.

"Many of the high-level executives now being charged knew exactly what they were doing. They had no concern for anybody else, and you have to say they aren't warm, loving guys."

Likewise in politics. "Think what happened in the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. The old rules went by the board. Structure vanished and all the ethnic tension that had been held in check by central government began to emerge. It was the perfect set-up for an opportunist, a thug or a psychopath to enter and take over."

That takeover usually has three stages. First, the psychopath identifies those who can help him and cultivates them with all his considerable charm. Then he pinpoints those who can harm him and outflanks them or stabs them in the back. Finally he makes a sycophantic but ultimately devastating beeline towards the source of power (one thinks of Hitler and Hindenburg, but also of the irrepressible Eve Harrington in All About Eve).

Psychopaths necessarily have victims, and Hare's drive to expose the "subcriminal" ones in our midst is at least partly personal. He speaks of an old college friend, now gravely ill, who lost $500,000 in a mortgage scam to a white-collar crook who got off with a $100,000 fine and a six-month trading ban. Society still labels such people rogues at worst. Hare calls them natural- born predators.

There is a difficulty approaching all this from outside academe: it can seem as if the experts are using jargon to force a thousand shades of grey - for there are surely at least that many degrees of psychopathy -into convenient boxes for personnel managers, employment tribunals and courts.

Babiak certainly counsels caution. Being psychopathic is not a sin, let alone a ground on its own for dismissal. But underpinning the PCL-R is hard science, hard to ignore. Before he published it, Hare performed two now-famous studies which suggest that psychopaths really are different from the rest of us. In the first, subjects were told to watch a timer counting down to zero, at which point they felt a harmless but painful electric shock. Non-psychopaths showed mounting anxiety and fear.

Psychopaths didn't even sweat.

In the second, the two groups had their brain activity and response time measured when asked to react to groups of letters, some forming words, some not. Words such as "rape" and "cancer" triggered mental jolts in nonpsychopaths. In psychopaths they triggered precisely nothing.

That research is decades old now. The man behind it, instead of retiring, tours the world helping to nail the psychopaths among us and trying to make sure that his instruments are not misused. Part of his mission is to stay serious. He won't appear on Oprah, and he won't name names. Instead, when he sees someone in the news he thinks might be a psychopath, he says: "I'd sure as hell like to study this guy." [...]

One Currency, One Government, One Destiny

As reported in the European online magazine, " euobserver," Robert A. Mundell, widely regarded as the `father of the euro, appears to be feeling his oats and seems desirous of spawning additional offspring. Unfortunately for him, the global currency he is calling for already exists - and is itself old enough to be his great-great-granddaddy and beyond.

The only problem: this "old" global currency affords central bankers (or academic planners who would be God) little if any "control" (speak: ability to manipulate monetary aggregates and direct the international flow of capital at their whim). And, unfortunately for us all, anything that denies this control to central bankers/planners is simply anathema, and we aren't supposed to even think about it.

If the proponents of global currencies were "globalists" in the truest sense of the word (wishing for nothing but international peace, growth, and stability) , they would see that a commodity money that is universally accepted, universally desired, always uniform in weight and density, malleable, infinitely divisible, and compact, is the very best tool for ushering in a new period of open international trade, international peace, and mutual benefit between nations - as history has already shown. And that is especially true with the advent of e-metal currencies.

However, these proponents have a different agenda.They want whatever monetary system they spawn to give them the power to direct the progress of civilization itself.

It's called social engineering - to the nth degree.

As long as the masses truly don't mind being "engineered" in this way, I suppose that's okay. But unfortunately, the masses have never been informed of the full extent in which their social environment is being shaped from above - nor were they ever told what the planners want that environment to look like in the end. I also suspect there are "masses" of Americans who will violently object to the inevitable loss of sovereignty - and of their Constitution - that such a global designer-currency would cause. [...]

Mundell is the originator of a concept called "optimum currency areas" - of which the euro is the first viable exponent. He is planning for two more such "optimum" areas (the US/western hemisphere and Asia) which he later wants to morph into one single, world-wide currency system.

Any global currency other than physical gold/silver (and maybe copper) will develop along the lines of the euro: a currency union based on first economic and then progressive political union which eliminates national borders and national sovereignty.

Maybe some would dream of a world without borders, where nations capable of fighting wars against each other will no longer exist. But all one has to do to recognize the notion of "world peace" under a one-world system for the chimera it truly is, is to understand this one fact: Right now, if you ever find the policies, laws, ideology, or rulers of one country oppressive, you can escape to another one that provides more freedom.

Once the world is "unified," there is no more escape!

The power of any central world government will be absolute - and because man remains sinful and corruptible, is bound to turn absolutely tyrannical.

Power corrupts - and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This truism of human nature will not disappear just because we will have created what some would consider an "ideal world."

Any world-currency system short of actual bimetallism or trimetallism requires a breakdown of borders and sovereignty. Such a system would be inherently unstable and would require the constant supervision and "fine-tuning" of a supranational authority - and such an authority simply cannot function among nations with fully intact borders.

Like the stealth-bomber, a global currency of the kind Mundell and his ilk propose is primarily designed - not to be inherently stable in its operation, but to avoid detection of its true aims - until it is ready to drop its payload.

That "payload" is the planned political world union. The result is tyranny - and the total destruction of individual freedom. Your Freedom.

Comment: The idea that ultimately all people on this planet will find themselves languishing under the rule of a single governing entity may at first seem far fetched, but is it really? At present we see the Bush administration pushing for global domination by degrees. If the fanatical policies of the Washington NeoCons prevail, the result in essence will be an overt one world government.

Already the US military has established itself in 121 of the 189 existing countries around the world, their plan, it seems, is to consolidate their power and control as much of the planet's resources and people as possible. Indeed, the argument in the above article that we already live under the control of a single governing elite would seem to borne out by facts on the ground.

A Nation of Cheaters?

Interview with author David Callahan

[...] Q. Why did you write a book on cheating?

A. When the corporate scandals exploded in 2001, I was a finishing a book on a group business leaders who graduated from the Harvard Business School in 1949. These guys shook their ends in disgust at the likes of Enron and WorldCom, and said their generation simply lived by a different set of values than many of today’s leaders. Was that true, I wondered? Around the same time, I noticed a raft of scandals outside the business world: top historians under fire for plagiarism, college sports teams under investigation, Ivy Leaguers busted for cheating on the GRE, the IRS reporting an epidemic of tax evasion. In writing this book, I set out to connect the dots, to dig into changes in our values and the economy, and see what was driving so much cheating.

[...] Q. Why are people cheating so much?

 A. To start with, we live in a winner-take-all society. Winners get paid more these days, so people will do whatever it takes to be a winner. Meanwhile, everyone is under more pressure to perform well starting from a young age, in school, and extending into the workplace so that they are not left behind by the economy. That kind of stress provides a lot of incentive to cut corners. And I look at two other reasons for cheating: government watchdogs haven't been given enough resources to enforce the law, and many Americans are cynical that the rules in our society are fair, so they feel it's justified to cheat. As I see it, all of these reasons are related to the overarching trend in American society toward more free market competition. We’ve become a society divided between a Winning Class that is richer than ever and often cheats because it can get away with it. And an Anxious Class that cheats to move up in the world – or just stay afloat. [...]

G.W. Bush: International Racketeer


By Ted Lang

01/12/04: (ICH) - CBS's "60 Minutes" featured former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill in an exclusive interview with CBS News Correspondent Lesley Stahl, which aired Sunday, January 11th. The interview confirms what those who primarily rely on the Internet for up-to-date, accurate and to-the-point news coverage have known for almost over a year: the Bush administration had planned the illegal, unconstitutional and unnecessary invasion of Iraq completely independent of any retaliatory or preventive military considerations relating to 9-11. In fact, this interview, motivated to launch a new book authored by Ron Suskind, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, not only confirms the heavy evidence concerning the administration's underlying intentions with regard to Iraq, but raises some scary new ones as well. [...]

The article is among many that reveal a document, entitled Rebuilding America's Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century, written by the neoconservative think tank calling itself Project for the New American Century [PNAC]. Although some references have been made in the mainstream media to this "neoconservative" clandestine planning, including some minor references to it ensconced in sarcasm and derision by the likes of FOXNews icons Brit Hume and Fred Barnes, the revelation now by mainstream CBS News adds a completely new dimension. PNAC is now being discovered by mainstream America. [...]

Comment: Is this "revelation" the beginning of the end of Dubya's reign?

Bush on tax cuts: But didn't we already give money to the rich?

[...] Everything came to a head for O'Neill at a November 2002 meeting at the White House of the economic team.

“It's a huge meeting. You got Dick Cheney from the, you know, secure location on the video. The President is there,” says Suskind, who was given a nearly verbatim transcript by someone who attended the meeting.

He says everyone expected Mr. Bush to rubber stamp the plan under discussion: a big new tax cut. But, according to Suskind, the president was perhaps having second thoughts about cutting taxes again, and was uncharacteristically engaged.

“He asks, ‘Haven't we already given money to rich people? This second tax cut's gonna do it again,’” says Suskind.

“He says, ‘Didn’t we already, why are we doing it again?’ Now, his advisers, they say, ‘Well Mr. President, the upper class, they're the entrepreneurs. That's the standard response.’ And the president kind of goes, ‘OK.’ That's their response. And then, he comes back to it again. ‘Well, shouldn't we be giving money to the middle, won't people be able to say, ‘You did it once, and then you did it twice, and what was it good for?’"

But according to the transcript, White House political advisor Karl Rove jumped in.

“Karl Rove is saying to the president, a kind of mantra. ‘Stick to principle. Stick to principle.’ He says it over and over again,” says Suskind. “Don’t waver.”

In the end, the president didn't. And nine days after that meeting in which O'Neill made it clear he could not publicly support another tax cut, the vice president called and asked him to resign. [...]

The Deadly Secrets of the Almanac

Dangerous Books

January 10, 2004

Forever, people in power have been afraid of fiction. Wild imaginings threaten to undermine the view of the world as unchangeable, the easy idea that history is set in its course like footprints in cement. Novels, poetry, plays, and even pornography have been confiscated, burned and banned in both dangerous and safe, settled times. Maybe late 2003, when United States government alerted us to beware of people carrying books of facts, was a turning point.

On Christmas Eve, the FBI Counterterrorism Division announced to all American law enforcement agencies that "terrorist operatives may rely on almanacs to assist with target selection and preoperational planning. [...]

My first reaction on hearing about this was to laugh, but the more I thought about it, the more sinister suspicion of the almanac seems. The ancient almanac (the root word is Arabic, meaning "the calendar") is just one piece of a basic modern condition we enjoy in the United States and elsewhere: abundant --- and in many forms still free ---information. Warning people against almanac carriers seems like warning against dictionary collectors. [...]

If these reports are true, almanacs really could be deadly. So could tourist guides, USGS maps, gazetteers, geological handbooks, and calendars of special events. And year books, and world books, and the Columbia Encyclopedia. If you take the FBI's perspective, every decently-run public library is a major threat to national security. It seemed reasonable to have a look at mine. [...]

I pulled a bunch of books off the reference shelf, almost at random, to see just how much dangerous information was within reach of any old lunatic, me included. The answer is: plenty. [...]

With no answer at hand, I left the reference section and a huge pile of frightening fact books waiting to be reshelved. On the basis of an expedition like this you could conclude that indeed, information is dangerous. But reviewing the facts from West Chicago, or almost anyplace else, you could come to a different conclusion. In order to decide who and what to be afraid of, we need more information, not less. And we need to have it from the widest stream of independent sources, not the tiny toxic trickle we've gotten used to.

Maiden voyage for Queen Mary 2


The ship's official launch was marked by a lavish ceremony

Queen Mary 2, the largest cruise liner ever built, is setting sail on its maiden voyage on Monday.

The 150,00-tonne Cunard liner will leave Southampton for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at 1700 GMT on its first passenger voyage.

Prices start from about £800 per person for the six-night transatlantic crossing, rising to as much as £15,000 per person for the most luxurious suites.

Last week, the Queen officially named the £550 million ship in a lavish ceremony at Southampton. [...]

Comment: In an email update from Gordon Thomas' site, Globe-Intel, Thomas writes:

Queen Mary 2, the largest liner afloat, is now the world’s top terrorist target at sea.

It follows a US air force spy plane discovering scores of acoustic sea mines have disappeared from a high-security naval base in North Korea.

Over Christmas, US intelligence services – with America already on high alert for an Al Qaeda attack – feared the mines were on board Osama bin Laden’s armada of 28 ships now being hunted on the high seas by warships of several countries.

The mines are fitted with devices which allow them to drift just beneath the surface and home on to a massive target like the 150,000 liner.

The US SP-3 spy plane was on a surveillance flight to check North Korea’s nuclear programme.

South of the country’s capital, Pyongang, the aircraft’s multi cameras filmed the naval base at Nampo. They spotted that since the last flight the mines inside an open pen had gone.[...]

There are the natural comparisons to the Titanic, particularly since the Queen Mary is so lavishly appointed. There is a conspiracy theory that has been floating around the internet for sometime that perhaps the sinking of the Titanic was not an accident. Whether the players are correctly identified or not, or even if it is not particularly close to the truth, it makes for interesting reading in light of the present danger.

The destruction of the Queen Mary would be the perfect accessory to the war on terror, with the added benefit that none of the elite would have to sacrifice any of their buildings and such a tragedy would severely increase fear of travel. All kinds of crazy conspiracy theories could be spun, such as North Korea colluding with al-Qeada.

Guantanamo Bay: a global experiment in inhumanity

12/01/04 UK Guardian

The US example now legitimises oppression across the world.

Two years on, it is clear that the British government has betrayed the most fundamental responsibility that any government assumes - the duty to protect the rule of law. This abnegation of the essence of democratic government goes much further than a failure to protect the nine British citizens who are incarcerated in this legal black hole. It is nothing less than a collusion in an international experiment in inhumanity, which is being repeated and expanded around the world.

The secret state of America

12/01/04 UK Independent

George Bush is using the 'war against terrorism' to justify frightening change

I woke up on Thursday morning to the voice of Richard Perle, talking on National Public Radio about how to "win" the "War on Terror". Among a string of alarming proposals was his suggestion that Americans "associated with" "terrorist organisations" should be stripped of their citizenship so as to liberate them from any inconvenient rights they might have to the protection of US law. My quotation marks are, I'm afraid, a sign of the times. One needs to handle the language now with a pair of tongs, gingerly picking up each official phrase as if it were a potential explosive device. Welcome to America under the Patriot Act, where dozens of formerly innocent words are suspect, and none more so than the word "security".

Flashback: Bush administration expands police spying powers

Dec 13 2004

The Bush administration has signed into law an act that grants new powers to US intelligence agencies to spy on the public, and expands the controversial Patriot Act. In a highly unusual move, Bush signed the legislation into law on a Saturday—December 13—the same day US forces captured Saddam Hussein.

Scared new world (UK)

12/01/04 UK Independent

The security forces are being given dramatic new powers to fight terrorism, as predicted by 'The Independent on Sunday'.
The Government is testing biometric ID cards and building a huge database that will reveal our lives at the touch of a button. Cole Moreton looks into the future and finds it's already here. You want to go home, but you can't. The Army has sealed off your street without warning and evacuated everyone in it. Your home is only a few yards away beyond the cordon, but there is no chance of entry: the soldier in the gas mask has orders to shoot anyone who crosses the line. He will not tell you where your family is, or why an armoured vehicle is shunting your car across the road, shattering its windows.

Blair: I do not know if Iraq had WMDs

TONY Blair has admitted that he does not know whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction at the time of the Iraq war, and is no longer confident of finding any.

The Prime Minister has also said he was looking for evidence of "clandestine operations" in Iraq - backing down from his earlier pledge that weapons programmes would be found rather then weapons themselves.

He also left doubt hanging over whether he will lead the Commons debate on the forthcoming Hutton Report or whether one of his ministers will be sent to do battle with Michael Howard, the Conservative leader.

Speaking on BBC1’s Breakfast with Frost programme yesterday, Mr Blair made no attempt to defend the central claim in his Iraq dossier - that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that could be fired within 45 minutes.

When challenged if he now accepts this to be wrong, he said: "You can’t say that at this point in time. What you can say is that we received that intelligence about Saddam’s programmes and about his weapons that we acted on that; it’s the case throughout the whole of the conflict.

"I remember having conversations with the chief of defence staff and other people [who] were saying, ‘Well, we think we might have potential WMD [weapons of mass destruction] finds here or there.’ Now these things didn’t actually come to anything in the end. But ‘I don’t know’ is the answer."

Comment: Only in a world such as ours is a clearly discernable lie not always a lie. It is obvious for all to see that Blair is guilty of one of the most common traits of human nature, the lie, yet he claims that such standard behavior is not the case. In doing so, he merely lies again. It is a source of continuous amazement to the Signs team that such blatant mistruths can be told so consistently, about issues of such global significance, yet almost none of these lies are called out for what they are.

Everyone lies, all the time, to ourselves, to others, big lies, little lies, brazen lies, yet the last thing most people will do is admit that they lie. For this reason, they are well disposed to believing Blair when he lies about lying. The end result, when taken to the extreme, is a farce of global proportions, where truth is lost and all are lost in a world of illusion. It is, unfortunately, in this situation that we find ourselves today.

Blunkett plans jail without trial


SWEEPING new powers to tackle the threat from international terrorism - which could go as far as extending internment without trial to UK citizens - will be demanded by Home Secretary David Blunkett this week.

It is understood Blunkett wants existing powers to detain foreign terror suspects without trial to be extended to all British subjects. The Draconian move could result in Britons who fall under suspicion spending years in jail without charges.

Another controversial proposal is for police to be given the right to detain anyone in the ‘vicinity’ of a suspected bioterrorist attack.

The new powers will be introduced as amendments to the already controversial Civil Contingencies Bill (CCB). [...]

Comment: Conduct a terrorist attack in the midst of a demonstration, and you have a handy way to round up all the demonstrators. There are so many convenient ways to jail the innocent these days. Some consider that progress.

U.K. Police Seize Suspected Bomber

Sunday, January 11, 2004

LONDON — An Islamic terrorist suspect linked to  Al Qaeda has been arrested after apparently preparing himself for a homicide attack in Britain. [...]

Comment: How convenient. A suicide bomber, seized in London, just before Blunkett asks for Draconian powers. Convenient coincidences abound in this war on terror.

Big Brother Britain, 2004

By Maxine Frith, Social Affairs Correspondent
12 January 2004

More than four million surveillance cameras monitor our every move, making Britain the most-watched nation in the world, research has revealed.

The number of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras has quadrupled in the past three years, and there is now one for every 14 people in the UK. The increase is happening at twice the predicted rate, and it is believed that Britain accounts for one-fifth of all CCTV cameras worldwide. Estimates suggest that residents of a city such as London can each expect to be captured on CCTV cameras up to 300 times a day, and much of the filming breaches existing data guidelines. [...]


12.1.2004. 14:52:11

A British military doctor is backing claims that the cocktail of vaccines given to soldiers prior to the 1991 war in Iraq caused Gulf War Syndrome.

Lieutenant Colonel Graham Howe has become the first expert to directly link the inoculations to severe health problems suffered by vaccinated troops.

For 13 years Britain’s Ministry of Defence as vigorously denied that vaccines could be blamed for the diseases. [...]

Comment: More than likely this syndrome is derived from the one, two punch of vaccination and depleted uranium. These soldiers didn't have a chance.

On This Day in 1965

scientists conducted what they called a "controlled excursion." These scientists launched a rocket from Jackass Flats at the Nevada Test Site and burned off part of its radioactive core in a spectacle that scientists said "resembled a Roman candle." This little experiment proceeded to envelop Los Angeles in a radioactive cloud before dissipating over the Pacific Ocean. Just one of the many examples of government agencies using US citizens as guinea pigs in Nazi-like experiments. [Source: Nuclear Rocket Dumped Radiation on Los Angeles Residents in 1965 Test, By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times]

In Blow to U.S. Plans, Top Shiite Demands Direct Elections

New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 11 — The most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq said on Sunday that members of an interim assembly must be chosen through direct elections, putting at risk White House plans to transfer sovereignty to Iraqis by July 1. His statement came despite continuing efforts to change the cleric's mind on the subject.

The cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued an edict in late June that urged Iraqis to press for general elections and that forced American officials to scrap their original plans for writing a constitution. [...]

Comment: Imagine the gall. Demanding the democracy that Bush promised us all. Expect more violence and explosions, since this can't be allowed to happen. It is not part of the Bush Regime's plan.

U.S. Seizes Weapons Cache in Iraq

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer
January 12, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. forces announced Monday the seizure of a large cache of weapons as Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric demanded the next legislature be elected, denying the United States crucial backing for its plan to let regional caucuses select a provisional assembly. [...]

Iraqis Await Pricey New Mobile Phones

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG, Associated Press Writer
January 12, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Mobile phones fill the display cases of Monadhel al-Obedi's shop — from high-end Nokias with cameras to bare-bones Alcatels. Price too high? "No problem," al-Obedi says, offering a smile and a discount.

After months of delays, Baghdad's first mobile network will be up and running in a matter of weeks, say officials from the Iraqi Governing Council and the U.S.-led coalition. And dealers, like al-Obedi, say they've sold hundreds of phones and fielded thousands of inquiries from potential customers.

It has been nine months since the U.S.-led coalition toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, but Iraq still has virtually no phone service. Saddam never allowed cell phones and the land line telephones were rendered useless after U.S. precision-guided bombs pulverized Baghdad's major telecom switches. [...]

3,000 newly-trained soldiers desert Afghan army

KABUL (AFP) Jan 11, 2004

Thousands of Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers have deserted the fledgling service after completing training given by instructors from the United States, France and Britain, defense ministry officials said Sunday. [...]

Protesters back Israeli settlements

Monday 12 January 2004

More than 100,000 Israelis have gathered to urge Premier Ariel Sharon not to remove illegal Jewish settlements, while the president invites his Syrian counterpart to Jerusalem for peace talks.

Though police estimated up to 120,000 people were at the Tel Aviv rally on Sunday, many appeared to be teenagers, too young to vote.

"The uprooting of settlements tears the nation," read one protester's sign. "Sharon, resign - we don't want you any more," read another.

Sharon said last month he would uproot some settlements and impose a boundary on the Palestinians if no peace deal is reached in the next few months.

And last week he told activists from his Likud Party that under any peace deal, some settlements would have to be moved.

Through three decades in government, Sharon helped build and expand many of the settlements. During his news conference, he said he had no regrets.

"Many things have changed since then... altogether it was the right thing to do," he said. [...]

Comment: In the final analysis, the settlements remain illegal according to international law and the Geneva convention, and as such should be removed. In any dispute, if laws safeguarding basic human rights are not first respected, any attempt at further dialogue will be sure to founder.

Bush advisers debating what to do about Syria

By Warren P. Strobel and John Walcott
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Fri, Jan. 09, 2004

WASHINGTON - Senior aides to President Bush are vigorously debating what to do about Syria as evidence mounts that the government in Damascus is stepping up support for the terror group Hezbollah and allowing anti-American insurgents to reach Iraq, according to U.S. officials.

Civilians in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office are pushing for military action against Syria short of an invasion and have drawn up plans for punitive airstrikes and cross-border incursions by U.S. forces, according to three officials.

But Bush's White House advisers, backed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the State Department, are arguing against a new military venture with much of the U.S. military tied down in Iraq and a presidential election year under way.

That view appears to have prevailed, for now.

"We've got all we can handle, and then some, in Iraq, and our military is either stretched to the breaking point or already broken," said one senior administration official.

He and others spoke on condition of anonymity because the debate is ongoing and some of the information involved is classified.

U.S. officials, including those who oppose military action, say that the government of Bashar al Assad continues its sponsorship of anti-Israeli and anti-American terror groups, despite Washington's demands that it cease. [...]

Nor has Assad made good on a promise to Secretary of State Colin Powell last summer to close the Damascus offices of Palestinian terrorist groups, numerous officials said. While electricity and phone lines have been cut, the groups continue to operate using cell phones and generators.

Yet some U.S. and Israeli officials say there are concrete signs that Assad is pondering a course change as a result of sustained American diplomatic and economic pressure. Last month, Bush signed the Syria Accountability Act, which imposes economic, diplomatic and military sanctions on Damascus. Bush can waive the sanctions if he chooses.

Assad's government has embarked on a drive to improve its image and signaled that it wants to resume peace talks with Israel.

"The Syrian rhetoric is different. It could suggest the Syrians are starting to wake up to the kind of deep kimchi they're in," a State Department official said.

[...] Damascus also is resisting returning Iraqi assets that Saddam had moved into Syrian banks, officials said. The amount of such funds appears to be about $1 billion, not $3 billion as first reported, they said.

Comment: Who directs Israel's brutal policies in the Middle East? Below is a report that the Israeli president has invited Syrian president al-Asad to peace negotiations, yet at the same time the US is reportedly developing plans for some form of attack on Syria. We know that Israel and Washington closely collaborate with each other on all Middle East policies, so how can we explain this seeming contradiction? In reality there is no contradiction. A moderate public appearance must be maintained. Israel can project this image, safe in the knowledge that behind the scenes plans are being made to ensure that Israel's real goal of conquest will be achieved.

Israel invites al-Asad for peace talks

Monday 12 January 2004

Israeli President Moshe Katsav has invited his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Asad to come to Jerusalem for "serious negotiations" on a peace accord between the hostile neighbours.

An Israeli minister said on Sunday Israel had had secret contacts with Syria several months ago - well before recent Syrian overtures - but they broke down after word of the meetings leaked out.

But al-Asad has recently urged the United States to help revive the talks.

"I invite President al-Asad to come to Jerusalem to seriously negotiate with Israeli leaders on the conditions of a peace accord," Katsav said on Israeli public radio on Monday.

Katsav's office is largely ceremonial, but it was the strongest sign from Israel of a willingness to talk since al-Assad said last month that he was keen to resume negotiations.

There was no immediate reaction from Syria to Katsav's invitation and it was not clear if the Israeli president had made the overture through formal channels.

Some observers allege both sides are using calls for talks as a tactical gestures to dispel claims they are obstructing peace in the region.

Comment: Notice in the above the comment that secret peace talks between Israel and Syria broke down in 2000 when "word of the meetings leaked out". No mention is made of who was behind the leak but we refer readers to the Signs page of 3 days ago which carried a story about the recent cancellation of talks between Libya and Israel because word of these talks was also leaked. A brief look at the history of Israel is sufficient to convince any reader that Israel's 'raison d'etre' is conflict. Israel was created as a result of forced colonisation, and such a country must be maintained by force, which Israel fully understands. Any peaceful overtures on the part of Israel must therefore be seen as mere propaganda for the benefit of public opinion. The recent leaks of secret meetings with Libya bear all the hallmarks of a Mossad operation. The Israeli government can confidently present the appearance of a peacemaker, knowing that its intelligence services will work behind the scenes to ensure that peace is never achieved, no matter what the cost.

Israeli Said to Have Driven Bomber to Site

January 12, 2004

JERUSALEM - An Israeli Jew has been arrested for allegedly driving a Palestinian suicide bomber to the site of an attack last month, the first time a Jew has been accused of assisting a bomber in the past three years of fighting, the prime minister's office said Monday.

Ofer Shwartzboim, a 39-year-old resident of the West Bank settlement of Oranit, gave the bomber and his accomplice a ride in his taxi to the Geha highway on Dec. 25, the prime minister's office said in a statement.

Shwartzboim apparently didn't know the Palestinian in the back seat of his taxi was a bomber, but it is illegal to assist Palestinians without permits to enter the country. The law is aimed at preventing suicide attacks.

The bomber, from the Palestinian village of Beit Furik, blew up in a bus stop, killing four Israelis. [...]

An Honor Roll of Self-hating Jews

Making the S.H.I.T. List

January 10, 2004

The most vicious anti-semites in America aren't the few surviving retro fruitcakes with swastikas in their closets, but rather those self-righteous Jews who attack and try to silence-without conscience, doubt or scruple-any Jew who attempts to discuss seriously the ethics or morality or decency or utility of any action taken by the State of Israel or the illegal squatters in the Occupied Territories.

The latest in that venomous war against free, open and intelligent discussion is the Self-Hating Israel-Threatening List (it's an acronymn; get it? gee), which includes such enemies of thought as Gloria Steinem, Studs Turkel, Alan Trachtenberg, Woody Allen, Susan Sontag, Stew Albert, Susan Udin, Harvey Weinstein, Ed Asner, George Soros, Art Spiegelman, Uri Avneri, Richard Dreyfuss, Tony Judt, Neve Gordon, Jimmy Breslin (I guess they made him an honorary Jew), Andrew Cockburn, Barry Commoner, Sandy Berger, Phyllis Bennis. Such a list! The opening prose will give you a sense of the quality and character of mind involved in the compilation of the list; the list itself is a roll of honor, and I'm delighted to have been found deserving of inclusion.

Bird flu virus hits Japan


A highly contagious bird flu has killed thousands of chickens in southern Japan, an official said today.

By last night, about 6,000 chickens had died of the disease at a poultry farm in the town of Ato in Yamaguchi, about 500 miles south-west of Tokyo.

Tests found the virus was a strain of the H5 virus, the same category as the H5N1 virus that spread in South Korea last year said. Authorities are still investigating whether it is the deadly H5N1-97 strain which killed six people in Hong Kong in 1997.

Avian flu generally infects only birds, although it has spread to people in a few isolated cases.

Eggs which have been shipped to market from the Yamaguchi farm were recalled, and the farm’s remaining 28,600 birds will be all destroyed and buried within days, the official added. He said chicken from the farm is not for export.

Bird flu was last found in Japan 79 years ago, officials said.

Comment: Avian flu is deadly to humans but requires that a person come in contact with an infected bird to contract the virus. The present form of the virus cannot be passed from human to human. If a mutated strain of avian flu, for example a combination of Spanish flu and avian flu, were to somehow appear, it would probably be highly contagious, resulting in a pandemic of massive proportions. We find it interesting (if not a little alarming) that the US military's recent work on resurrecting the Spanish flu virus from 1918 was conducted using chicken eggs to incubate the virus, and the recent flu vaccines were also produced using chicken's eggs. Over the years the US government and its intelligence agencies have become very adept at "removing" troublesome adversaries while creating the impression that the death was a "natural" occurance. If the government deemed that large numbers of its own citizens fell into the category of "troublesome" is it possible they would investigate ways to remove them by other apparently "natural" means? See our Signs Supplement on the Flu threat for more.

Reward offered in hit-and-run

Chemist was killed in Medical Center

Houston Chronicle

A reward of up to $20,000 was announced Thursday for tips leading to the arrest and charges of a hit-and-run motorist who killed a chemist walking in the Texas Medical Center.

Robert Leslie Burghoff, 45, a postdoctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine's molecular virology and microbiology department, was walking to his car Nov. 20 when he was hit from behind by a white or light-colored cargo van that jumped the sidewalk in the 1600 block of South Braeswood.

Burghoff, a father of three who lived in The Woodlands, had been studying the Norwalk virus plaguing cruise ships.

Broken glass found at the scene was matched to a Ford E-series van, 1997 to 2004 model.

A witness reported seeing a round insignia on the right back portion of the van, below the license plate, and suspected it was a city emblem, but no city-owned van of that description was found to have any damage, police Investigator Ronnie Miller said.

The van might also have a spider crack in its windshield, he said. Witnesses said the van had no side windows, but had two dark tinted windows in the rear.

The driver was described as a short Hispanic man in his 40s or 50s with a slightly rounded, unshaven face. [...]

Comment: As a commentator on pointed out, how did the witnesses know he was short if the driver did not get out of the van? Sounds like another assassination, with all the other microbiologists "coincidently" dying. This reward sounds like a cover story to give the appearance of an investigation.

Chemical in deodorant linked to cancer

By Lyndsay Moss
The Independent
12 January 2004

The debate over whether antiperspirants and deodorants are linked to rising levels of breast cancer has been reignited with the publication of new evidence.

Scientists detected the preservative chemical parabens - used in some underarm products, make-up and foods - in samples of breast cancer tumours. [...]

Comment: Not only does the UK and US governments conduct human experimentation, so do the multi-national corporations.

Earthquake off Russia's far eastern coast

An earthquake measuring up to 5.4 on the Richter scale rocked Pacific waters off Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula early Monday, local emergency officials said, a foreign news agency reported.

The quake's epicenter was located some 23 kilometers (15 miles) under the seabed, some 550 kilometers south of the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. No casualties or damage were reported. [...]

Algeria reports 300 injured after earthquake in Boumerdes

Astronomers See Era Of Rapid Galaxy Formation; New Findings Pose A Challenge For Cold Dark Matter Theory

"The universe is always more complicated than our cosmological theories would have it," says Nigel Sharp, program officer for extra-galactic astronomy and cosmology at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Witness a collection of new and recently announced discoveries that, taken together, suggest a considerably more active and fastmoving epoch of galaxy formation in the early universe than prevailing theories had called for. [...]


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