Today's conditions brought to you by the Bush Junta - marionettes of their hyperdimensional puppet masters - Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions.... The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen."
If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!
Sunday, April 11, 2004
New Article: Jupiter, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and the Return of the Mongols - Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Picture of the Day
Good Friday 2004
Today is Easter.
We are extremely critical of organised religion on these pages. We think that it is a system of mind control with the goal of keeping its "believers" in a state of credulity and passivity in relation to their own salvation, that is, religions exist to promote the belief that salvation comes from without, not from within through our own efforts.
The Christian Church celebrates today the resurrection of the physical body of a man they say was crucified and died on a cross, after several days of extreme physical torture and humiliation at the hands of the Romans and the Jews, and recently brought to the screen in all its savage brutality by Mel Gibson.
We will not go into the reasons why we think this story of the man named Jesus is an historical fiction. Suffice it to say that most commentators on the historicity of Jesus assume that which needs to be proven: that there indeed lived a man name Jesus who lived a life as recounted in the Gospels.
However, there is no proof whatsoever of Jesus's existence as portrayed in the Gospels: no archaeological proof, no written proof, nothing.
But this does not mean that nothing happened or that there was no man with a message that was deemed revolutionary or dangerous to the status quo of either the Romans or the Jews in Palestine at the time. What seems to be so is that the man and his message were recuperated and transformed into something they were not. A message of the possibility of esoteric birth, struggle, death, and rebirth was transformed into a harrowing tale of the death and rebirth of the physical body, emptying the message of its truly liberating content, and transforming it into the control structure we have seen in place for almost two millennia with its emphasis on the body and material suffering.
We do not think that this esoteric message was unique to the man who came to be known as Jesus. Rather, we think that this is an esoteric tradition that goes back into the mists of time, an ancient science that went underground, breaking to the surface here and there as necessary, only to return to the shadows. There are elements of it in many different traditions, clothed in the costume necessary to make it comprehensible to men and women of all cultures, ethnic backgrounds, languages, and epochs. Boris Mouravieff, the author of Gnosis, a three volume work that set down the Tradition in print as it has been preserved in the Orthodox Church as esoteric Christianity (along with his own unfortunate musings on how it should be applied today), traced the Tradition back to the Scythians.
What, then, was the Good News that appeared in Palestine 2000 years ago?
A system for achieving the Second Birth, for returning to our state before the Fall.
Having confronted one's moral bankruptcy, that is, the dissolution of all of one's ideas, beliefs, hopes and dreams for life in the material world, having seen through the illusory character of material success and sensual pleasures, one looks for a way out. Having assessed one's relationship to the 'A', material, and 'B', esoteric, influences, one must decide to orient one's life to the higher, 'B', influences.
This is the first esoteric test.
The seeker must commit her or himself to the Path. This saying goodbye to the exterior life is known as crossing the first Threshold. Arriving at the first Threshold, the seeker has the embryo of a magnetic centre, and the Tradition insists that once the magnetic centre is in place, even as an embryo, it will attract a man of the 'C' influences who can guide one across the first Threshold and through the next stage, the mounting of the staircase. But keep in mind that this commitment must not be taken lightly. As Mouravieff puts it, "It would be better to withdraw before crossing the first Threshold than, having cut oneself off from the region of bourgeois happiness, to wish to regain it later. The Way is a one-way street. After the Threshold there is only one option: either to progress on the Way or to fall. From now on, any return to the original state will be forbidden. If the magnetic centre is pure and sufficiently firm, a man of influence 'C' appears: the first Threshold will be crossed under his direction." [Gnosis, Vol I, p. 217]
Having crossed the first Threshold, the seeker has acted upon his or her sincere desire to break free of the 'A' influences, but he or she is not yet free. The path is strewn with traps. Thus begins the search for the grail, when the knight will be confronted with challenges that will demand that all of his intelligence, all of his physical prowess, and all of his passion be united towards his or her goal.
This is called ascending the staircase in the Tradition.
Having decided to align himself with the 'B' influences, the seeker is now called upon to put that alignment into action. It is lived as a series of tests of one's commitment to the Path and is accompanied by a complete upheaval in one's life.
How could it be otherwise?
Having committed oneself to inner work and having rejected the exterior life, how could one expect to continue living in the old way?
It is impossible. It is therefore a time of sorting out the essential from the inessential in one's life. Everything about one's life must be reappraised from its relationship to the Way. This sifting and sorting through the elements of one's life is not easy. It is a time of suffering as each choice can feel like a small death. This is the work of fusing the many small 'I's of the Personality with the real 'I' of the higher centres. These 'I's will not go softly, and you may well feel like you are tearing out a part of yourself. It is the struggle to bring the many conflicting and competing parts of the Personality into alignment with one's higher aim.
This is the esoteric meaning of Christ's suffering.
The Passion of the Christ is an allegory for the suffering of the Personality, the impermanent part of each of us, as it gives way to the Spirit. Gibson's film, by focusing on torn flesh, is therefore a dangerous lie, reducing matters of the Spirit to simple matter, matters of the Soul to tatters of meat.
Having climbed the steps of the staircase, the seeker comes to the second Threshold. Crossing the second Threshold, the seeker will achieve the fusion of his Personality with his real 'I.' His higher centres become permanently linked with the lower centres, displacing one's inner world from the conflict of emotion, intellect and body, to the harmony of a system now in synch with one's higher goals. He is reborn. He is dead to the old world ruled by the Law of the Accident and passes through the second Birth.
This is the esoteric meaning of the resurrection.
We are a far cry from the empty tomb and the angel greeting Mary Magdalene, but most people are happy to remain as "believers." They prefer simple stories and Hollywood special effects, as gory as they may be, to the need to put every aspect of one's life into question, to the necessity of facing the issue that if the world is in the state it is in, we each have our responsibility, for as long as we continue to buy into the Lie, we are part of the Lie.
However, there is cause for rejoicing, for before us unwinds the Way out of this hellhole if we are capable of penetrating the physical shell of Biblical allegory to grasp the esoteric essence the Christian Church has so long fought to eradicate.
The report below is on present events in Iraq. Usually I stick closer to home, not because I don't care, but because I feel that my readers will probably have enough from me if I stick strictly to what is occurring here. Yet, the type of thing happening there is so similar to what is and has happened in the OTs [Occupied Territories], that at least this once I think the connection is worth making. If anything will unite the Arab people, particularly the Muslims, this might be it, their leaderships notwithstanding. Time will tell. Meanwhile, a great many innocent people are dying.
[...] As with the news here, so also in Iraq. Only a small part gets related by the media. Ewa is a reliable reporter, and would cite only those she trusts to relay reliable information. Please spread the information below as widely as possible, and act upon it, too.
From: Ewa Jasiewicz
[...] I just spoke to friends in Baghdad - Paola Gaspiroli, Italian, from Occupation watch and Bridges to Baghdad, Journalist Leigh Gordon, England, (NUJ, Tribune, Mail on Sunday) and a Palestinian friend with family in Falluja and friends in the Iraqi Islamic Party. Both he and Leigh have been ferrying out the injured from Falluja to Baghdad for the past three days. Ambulances have been barred from entry into the blood-drenched city.
Here is their news, which they told me over the telephone tonight (Friday)
There has been a massacre in Falluga. Falluga is under siege. 470 people have been killed, and 1700 injured. There has been no ceasefire. They (Americans) told people to leave, said they have 8 hours to leave and people began to leave but they're trapped in the Desert. The Americans have been bombing with B52s (Confirmed also by Leigh in an email three days ago). Bridges to Baghdad are pulling out. We have flights booked out of Amman. Tomorow a team will go to Sadr City to deliver medicines. 50 people have been killed there. ?? (Forgotten name) the 'elastic' shiekh in Sadr City (I've met him, young, brilliant guy, describes himself as 'elastic' because he is so flexible when it comes to his interpretations of Islam and moral conduct definitions etc, he's pretty liberal) he has told me I should leave. He says that even he can't control his people. Foreigners are going to be targeted. 6 new foreigners have been taken hostage. Four of them are Italian security firm employees - they were kidnapped from their car, which was found to be full of weapons, and there were black uniforms.
Baghdad was quiet today except for Abu Ghraib (West Baghdad, where a vast prison is located and is bursting at the seams with 12,000 prisoners) an American convoy was attacked there and 9 soldiers were injured and 27 were kidnapped. That's right 27. None of the newswires are reporting it though. And I heard this from (*name best not to supply without permission). Its really really bad. They (Americans) have been firing on Ambulances, snipers are following the ambulances, they cannot get in.
Falluga, there are people in the Desert, they've left Falluga but they're not being allowed into Baghdad, they're trapped in the Dessert, they're like refugees, its terrible but the people, Iraqi people are giving all they can; they're bringing supplies, everybody is giving all their help and support to Falluga. [...]
My friend who's been in Falluga today and for the past few days:
We've been seeing it with our own eyes. People were told to leave Falluga and now there are thousands trapped in the Desert. There is a 13 km long convoy of people trying to reach Baghdad. The Americans are firing bombs, everything, everything they have on them. They are firing on Families! They are all children, old men and women in the dessert. Other Iraqi people are trying to help them.
In Falluga they (Americans) have been bombing hospitals. Children are being evacuated to Baghdad. There is a child now, a baby, he had 25 members of his family killed, he's in the hospital and someone needs to be with him, why isn't anyone there to stay with him, he just lost 25 from his family!???
The Americans are dropping cluster bombs and new mortars, which jump 3-4 metres. They are bombing from the air. There are people lying dead in the streets. They said there'd be a ceasefire and then they flew in, I saw them, and they began to bomb. They are fighting back and they are fighting well in Falluga. But we are expecting the big attack in 24-48 hours. It will be the main attack. They will be taking the town street by street and searching and attacking. They did this already in a village near-by, I forget the name, but they will be doing this in Falluja. Please get help, get people to protest, get them to go to the Embassies, get them out, get them to do something. There is a massacre. And we need foreigners, the foreigners can do something. We are having a protest, Jo (Jo Wilding www.wildfirejo.org.uk) and the others from her group are coming to the American checkpoint tomorrow. We haven't slept in 3 or 4 days. We need attention. I have photos, film, we've given it to Al jazeera, Al Arabiya but get it out too. Do everything you can. We are going back in tomorrow.
It's kicking off. Come by all means but me and (..) probably won't be around. I mean they're going to crazy. (.) is saying for foreigners to come but its not safe. Sheikh .. from Falluga said he couldn't guarantee my safety. I mean its going to go crazy, I think foreigners will start getting killed soon - I mean people are going to start getting desperate, when they've seen their mother father, house, cat, dog, everything bombed they're going to start to attack. They (Americans) have said this operations only going to last 5 days' it's drawing to an end. They need to free up troops on other fronts breaking out all over the country. They're going to go in for the kill. There's no way of guaranteeing anybody's safety. I think you can be useful but its not like you can just not tell your mum and think you'll be back in a week. We're probably going to get killed tomorrow. Come, but we might not be here.
A battalion of the new Iraqi army refused to go to Fallujah earlier this week to support US Marines battling for control of the city, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
Citing senior US Army officers in Baghdad, the newspaper said the incident is casting new doubt on US plans to transfer security matters to Iraqi forces.
The 620-man 2nd Battalion of the Iraqi Armed Forces refused to fight Monday after members of the unit were shot at in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood in Baghdad while en route to Fallujah, said The Post, quoting US Army Major General Paul Eaton.
The convoy then turned around and returned to the battalion's base in Taji, north of the Iraqi capital.
The paper quotes Eaton as saying members of the battalion insisted that they "did not sign up to fight Iraqis."
Aljazeera TV quotes a resistance leader as saying Falluja's fighters will respect a 12-hour ceasefire.
The two sides have agreed that the ceasefire will come into effect from 0600GMT on Sunday to pave the way for US marines to leave the town.
The US-led occupation army had offered to observe a temporary truce from midday on Saturday to allow mediators and al-Sadr supporters to discuss a possible end to the clashes.
Earlier, Alaa Makki, a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party which was leading mediation efforts for the truce told AFP the fighters in Falluja have given the delegation "a series of conditions for the ceasefire, including a pullout of US forces from Falluja into the surrounding desert."
"They did not give a specific area for the pullout, but logically it would be around five kilometers," he said.
"They also asked for opening the entrances to the city to allow people as well as food and medical supply to enter easily and for people to bury their dead," he said.
The US-led occupation authorities has "asked for a ceasefire, for handing over those who took part in the mutilation and repeated riots."
"The demands of the two parties are logical and should be easy to satisfy," he said.
"We are all very hopeful because we have been given promises from the two sides, the only difficulty would be in the mechanism of the implementation of the ceasefire because it concerns military operations on the ground," he said. [...]
US marines will start pulling out of besieged Fallujah after a six-hour ceasefire with rebels due to come into force at 0600 GMT, under an agreement with the two sides, a mediator told AFP.
"The two sides have promised to commit to the agreement. The first phase involves a six-hour ceasefire between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm today Sunday," a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Hatem al-Husseini, told AFP.
"After that, a second phase will start with the progressive pullout of the marines from Fallujah and the deployment of Iraqi police and Iraqi Civil Defence Corps (ICDC) to take over," he added.
Husseini said he met with top US civil administrator Paul Bremer Saturday at around 10:30 pm (1830 GMT), upon his return from mediation talks in Fallujah, west of Baghdad.
"I cannot disclose the conditions of the negotiations because it would be counter-productive. We will talk about that when we complete this process," he said.
"But we are very, very optimistic," he said, adding: "Minutes ago, I was just on the phone with Fallujah, and they told me that the situation was calm and they said that the night was also relatively calm."
"They said that hospitals in Fallujah did not receive anyone injured last night," he said. [...]
Two US marines were wounded by sniper fire and an armed Iraqi was killed in a subsequent street clash Sunday despite the start of a ceasefire in the city of Fallujah, Marine sources said. [...]
US forces offered Saturday a ceasefire and unprecedented mediation talks to end a drive against Iraqi insurgents here, but a marine was killed and the bloodstained town still echoed with the sounds of battle. [...]
Three Japanese hostages were still held in Iraq despite reports of their expected release, with various groups working to secure their freedom, Japanese officials manning a crisis cell here said.
Kyodo news agency, quoting Japanese government sources, said earlier Sunday that a senior Iraqi official reported the hostages were safe and would be released around noon Japanese time (0300 GMT).
But hours later, Japan's vice-minister for foreign affairs, Ichiro Aisawa, told Japanese journalists in Amman: "They did not free the hostages yet."
He said the Japanese embassy in Iraq was "making contacts" about the status of the two volunteer workers and a photographer seized Thursday, but did not specify with whom. [...]
By Rene Pfister
BERLIN (Reuters) - A search is under way for two German security officials who disappeared and may have been killed while travelling between Amman and Baghdad, officials in Berlin say.
An Iraqi newspaper published pictures of two men it said the German embassy in Baghdad confirmed went missing on Wednesday on a road near the volatile Sunni town of Falluja. Al Raqeeb said the embassy told the paper it feared they had been kidnapped.
But the Interior Ministry in Berlin said on Saturday the two embassy guards may have been killed because there were no signs of a kidnapping. Germany's ARD television said the car of the two guards was found abandoned and badly damaged.
"It can't be ruled out that they have been killed," an Interior Ministry spokesman said, adding the security officials were taking part in a routine exchange of staff at the embassy.
He could not confirm German media reports the two were members of Germany's elite anti-terror GSG-9 security force. [...]
Several members of the Iraqi Governing Council are negotiating with rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to end a Shi'ite Muslim uprising in the center and south of the country, a member of the council said on Saturday. Naseer al-Chaderji declined to give details of the talks but told Reuters a deal would have to include Sadr's renunciation of violence and a commitment by the authorities to improve the lot of his mostly impoverished supporters. "They are in direct contact with Moqtada. We are already seeing calm in Sadr City and we are encouraged by the situation in Najaf as we go into a major religious celebration," he said.
Sadr's militiamen launched an uprising last Sunday and have fought U.S.-led troops in Baghdad's Sadr City slum district and Shi'ite towns in the south, including the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala. There have been fears that Shi'ite pilgrims observing the religious occasion of Arbain could be harmed. Chaderji said that mostly Islamist Shi'ite members of the 25-member council were talking to Sadr, along with tribal leaders and Shi'ite religious establishment elders, but that Sadr had not yet committed to anything.[...]
By LEE KEATH, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents shot down a U.S. Apache attack helicopter in west Baghdad on Sunday, the military said. The fate of its two crewmembers was unknown.
Heavy fighting was taking place in the area for the third straight day.
GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan - The U.S. military pulled back Saturday from an earlier prediction that Osama bin Laden would be captured this year, even while preparing its largest force to date for operations along the Pakistani border where the al-Qaida chief is suspected to be hiding.
Catching bin Laden and other top fugitives remains a priority of the expanding American operation in Afghanistan, a spokesman said, but the growing mission is "not about just one or two people," a spokesman said.
opposition to Iraq war grows with violence, casualties
A year after Baghdad fell to jubilant US forces, American public support for the occupation appears to be waning fast following a week of unparalleled anti-US violence in Iraq.
On the traditionally liberal West Coast, there is growing anger among ordinary citizens over the direction of the war and the policy of US President George W. Bush, as newspaper editorials lash the campaign as a disaster spiralling out of control.
"In the beginning, I was pro-Bush; now I am more pro-(Democratic presidential hopeful John) Kerry," 25-year-old Los Angeles traffic warden Eric Garcia told AFP after four Americans were dismembered by an Iraqi mob last week and dozens of soldiers were killed in a Shiite uprising.
"(Bush) is letting his representatives do whatever they want. The war sucks. If our troops stopped dying and came home, I wouldn't mind the war going on, but I think too much of our taxes are wasted over there." [...]
Comment: So, forget about the severe lack of justification for the invasion of Iraq. Forget about the tens of thousands of Iraqi and American casualties that resulted. Forget about the countless tons of DU dust deposited by American munitions that is now poisoning everyone in Iraq. Americans seem to think that leveling other countries and slaughtering their inhabitants for whatever reason is okay, as long as too many Americans aren't dying and it doesn't cost too much.
Dying for What?
The Viet Nam War Memorial consists of two 250-ft walls of polished black granite inscribed with the names of the more than 58,000 U.S. men and women who were killed or missing in the Vietnam War. That number represents about half of the total of American troops currently in Iraq.
Comment: Death. These young men will have no chance for a resurrection. A member of the QFS sent in the following today, thoughts on resurrection, Easter, and the Second Coming:
People the world over this weekend will be celebrating Easter, considered the most important of religious holidays by many practicing Christians. According to the Christian mythos, this was when Christ was resurrected from the dead after the crucifixion. Whether or not the historical Jesus actually rose from the dead after a crucifixion is not what I wish to discuss here. What I wish to discuss is the symbolism of resurrection itself, the idea, and what I think that symbolism might mean to humanity as a whole.
The idea of resurrection or rebirth, firstly, is not a new one by any means, and most certainly did not originate with the birth of Christianity. It's origin is, in fact, pagan, and various gods and goddesses have been associated with death and rebirth (and often thus, fertility and vegetation) throughout antiquity: Tammuz, Osiris, Baal, Demeter, Ishtar/Astarte, Eos (Greek)/Aurora (Roman), to name a few.
The goddess Ostara or Eastre/Eostre was the ancient Anglo-Saxon equivalent of the Greek Eos. She was a fertility goddess who personified the rising sun and represented rebirth after death. According to Bede, April was "Eostremonath" - the month of Eostre - and the "barbarians" held festivals in honor of this goddess during this month to celebrate the end of winter, a time of death, and the beginning of a new season of life. The festival of Eostre was eventually incorporated into the early Christian church in England by replacing the old symbol for rebirth - the goddess Eostre - with the Christian symbol - the resurrected Christ - and the name of the goddess was retained for this holiday - Easter (Eostre).
So the concept of life after death, cycles of birth, death and rebirth, have been around a very long time. All our ancestors had to do was observe the cycles in nature, in their daily lives - the cycles of our seasons, the cycles of the cosmos, the feminine cycles, the cycles of human civilizations - to realize that life is cyclical. And of course, many of them did, and honored, studied and lived their lives based upon these cycles of nature.
We are at present it seems, coming to the end of such a cycle. The signs of death, destruction and transformation are everywhere - earthquakes, floods, volcanic activity, pestilence, war, meteors falling from the sky - it's all there for those with eyes to see. Mother earth is in the midst of the death throes, the labor pains that will hopefully lead to her rebirth into an ascended form of her former self at the end of this particular cycle.
But here we speak of rebirth or resurrection in physical terms when we speak of our planet. What of ourselves? What of humanity? Certainly, one can speak of the rebirth of humanity in physical terms as well by simply referring to reincarnation, for example. We are born, we die, we are reborn again in another place and time to begin a new cycle.
But what about spiritual rebirth? At this time of the year, when some are celebrating the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and yet others are celebrating the arrival of spring - also a time that celebrates life, rebirth and renewal after a phase of death - should we not be thinking of the rebirth or renewal of our own spirits, our souls, the divine spark within us, which is the only thing that truly gives us any life in the first place?
Because it certainly seems to me as though humanity could use being "reborn". We are on a fast track downhill, as far as I can see, and gravity is pulling us ever closer to a black hole the farther down that hill we travel. And the farther we fall, the harder it is too push ourselves against that force to get back up if we have the good fortune to first realize we are falling.
When you look around you, what do you see? Do you see for the most part people who genuinely care for one another, or do you see mainly people whose prime motivation in life is self-serving, irrespective of any consequences that might befall others? Are they asleep, the "walking dead", or do they see the "bigger picture"? Do you see that the world is burning out of control around you? Do you see the writing on the wall, or do you walk past it because you're too afraid of what it says? Do you see what the Bush regime and others are doing, or do you still believe that your president only has your best interests at heart and would never, ever lie? When you see what the Bush regime is doing in Iraq and elsewhere, do you excuse it and look away, turning back to your meatloaf as though nothing is going on, or are your outraged at the death and destruction?
And you, when you look at yourself, what do you see? What do you pay attention to? What do you care about? Do you see only as far as making the payments on your nice 3 bedroom home, how you might get your next promotion, how you might get a date with that nice waitress in the cafe down the street, or how many fish you're going to catch on vacation this summer? Or do you see further than that? Do you FEEL anything at all? When you look at yourself, what do you see?
When I look around me, I see a world gone mad, and I weep for this world. I see, for the most part, people who are asleep and who wish to remain that way, which is fine. That is their choice. However, I also think there are many out there who are slowly awakening or at least have the capability of doing so, but are lost in all of the confusion. Those who feel. Those who question. Those who wonder. Those who believe that there must be something else to this thing we call "life" apart from the materialism and physicality we are raised to believe is the be all and end all of existence. Those who have been searching for the answers to what this "something" is in one way or another for most, if not all of their lives. Those who have the "divine spark" within them.
And it is upon these that the hope of renewing the soul of humanity rests. It is within these that the potential of resurrecting the human spirit dwells. It is those of us who have this divine spark within us, this questioning, seeking nature, this longing for something pure and life-giving, who can restore creative existence and being.
If we so will it. It is within us. Not "out there". We have the potential, if we will only realize it for what it is. We can give birth to a new humanity. A new way of being. A creative, nurturing, loving state of existence born of truth, objective knowledge, love. We have a chance now. One that is not given very often. We have the choice to move once again into a Golden Age.
If we so will it.
But if we will it, then we must realize that willing it is not enough. "Where there's a will, there's a way", but following that way requires doing. And doing means engaging fully and with all of one's heart and being in the Work. It means waging an uphill battle. It means tremendous suffering, essentially a "crucifixion" of our old selves. As the saying goes, the best things in life never come for free, and for this, a very high price must be paid indeed.
But if we pay that price, if we face the terror - that which we face not only when we see the world around us objectively and face those facts, but also when we finally look into the mirror and see who we are - we then, finally, also have the chance to see what we can become. What we have within us that we lead us to that being. And we can then take that which is within us - that spark of divinity - and hold it gently, protect it, nurture it and fan it into greater intensity until we have finally been "reborn". Until we have finally resurrected our true being and true nature.
And if enough of us do this Work, imagine what a grand celebration of spring - of life, of creation - it would be. Imagine the miracle. Just imagine it. The "resurrection" of humanity. The true Easter. The Phoenix rising.
The "Second Coming".
Stop the press! We here at Signs of the times must issue an apology to George Bush, the US military, and all Americans and others that we have offended by being so critical and downright suspicious of US foreign policy, especially the most recent incursion into Iraq by the brave "allied" troops. It appears that we missed a genuinely heartwarming story that categorically proves that the poor Iraqi people (aka "rag heads") really are so very grateful for the "freedom and democracy" that the brave US troops are bestowing upon them in such a selfless and valiant way.
After reading the above many US citizens may be feeling a burgeoning patriotism welling up within them. Perhaps you are thinking that there may be some truth to the claim by the US and its military that Iraqis are much better off and most are grateful that the US has liberated them? If so, you are certainly not alone. Many discussion boards and news sites ran the story, and continue to do so, proclaiming it as evidence that America truly is the upholder of freedom the world over. For example, a newsgroup commentator posted the picture and article along with the following rousing words:
Fine words indeed. Enough to inspire the latent patriotism in all red blooded Americans. It really is a pity then that the story, as told, is false, or better put, a LIE.
This is one Iraqi that is certainly NOT "grateful" for Uncle Sam's so called "peace and democracy". To make matters worse, the scenes that surrounded the toppling of the bronze statue of Saddam last year which was used to make the new statue of the US soldier, were entirely fake also.
Joy for Mass Media
Most of you have already seen the jubilant crowd of Baghdad's residents taking down the bronze statue of Saddam Hussein in the downtown Baghdad. In reality this "monumental event" turned out be just as illusory as coalition's proclaimed control of the Iraqi capitol.
Every television news network in the world concentrated on the Fardus Square in Baghdad. Located across the Palestine hotel – home to dozens of foreign journalists reporting from Baghdad – until recently the Fardus Square was dominated by a huge bronze statue of Saddam Hussein.
Surrounded by what appeared to be a sizable crowd of Iraqis a US tank recovery vehicle was pulling on the cable tied around the statue until it came down to the delight of the cheering crowd. Television networks showed jubilant Iraqis jumping on the US tank recovery vehicle apparently to thank its driver for taking down the statue. Later we observed a group of Iraqis pulling the statue’s head down the street.
It was difficult not to wonder why the US soldier driving the tracked vehicle that took down the statue appeared to be so relaxed surrounded by a mob of Iraqis. Elsewhere in Iraq US soldiers frequently open fire on civilians approaching checkpoints. But here in Baghdad, where thousands of Iraqi troops are still battling the US forces, a US armored vehicle with a single unarmed soldier in it was surrounded by a crowd of cheering Iraqis and the soldier did not appear to be particularly concerned.
In the end the big picture (literally) revealed the true events that took place on the Fardus Square: the square was surrounded by the US tanks and the “jubilant crowd” turned out to be two dozen of Iraqis, some of which were recognized as Iraqi opposition members delivered to Iraq by Pentagon just days earlier.
Several strategically placed cameras created an impression of a large crowd. Iraqis cheering US troops in Baghdad - just another “Potemkin village” staged by the Pentagon PR teams.
See this link for images and more.
Perhaps yesterday we did not make it clear enough when we said that "leaders" lie all the time to the people, and that they would not be able to do so with such success if it were not for the fact that the people WANT to be lied to, that we are willing participants in the dissemination of the lies. After all, the act of lying is a common human frailty, and most of us do it quite often. For example consider the following questions:
you ever seen anyone do a poor job at work, and seen them lie in order
to create the impression that they are doing a good job?
Haven't you ever wanted your kids to think that you know it all, that you never make mistakes in order to gain their, or your own, approval, even when you know you are imperfect and make mistakes? If so, you have lied.
Have you ever used manipulative language to get your way, without explaining your real agenda? If so you have lied.
Have you ever played up the advantages and downplayed the downside of anything to influence someone's decision about it? If so you have lied.
Did you ever hide anything from your parents for fear of disapproval? If so, you have lied.
How can it be then that most people will accept that lies are a normal fact of life, that we all lie, yet when it comes to our "leaders" most are so unwilling to attribute the same "qualities" to those involved in the "dirty game" of politics, where lying is par for the course?
The answer lies in the fact that, at some level, most people understand that because they have given almost total control of their lives to the "powers that be", they literally hold the power of life or death over them. As a result, even when equipped with the understanding that we ourselves are prone to lying, and faced with clear evidence that we are being lied to by our leaders, most people will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid facing the truth that our leaders have nothing but contempt for human life - and we mean ALL human life. To have to face into this fact, and the fact that WE are as much to blame as those that lie to us, is simply something that most people do not WANT to contemplate. Yet this is exactly what we MUST Do if there is to be any hope of a different future.
Unable to end the insurgency, the US is rapidly losing its few friends
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
If Iraq comes to be seen as President George W Bush's Vietnam, this past week may be the equivalent of the 1968 Tet offensive - the moment when America discovered that, for all its overwhelming military superiority, it is not winning the war.
The US civil and military leaders in Iraq discovered that their authority was a house built on sand. It crumbled with extraordinary speed in the face of poorly armed and ill-organised opposition in Fallujah and southern Iraq. The message was that the opponents of the US in Iraq are not very strong, but that the coalition itself is very weak.
Not only are large parts of Iraq outside its control, the US is weaker in Iraq than it was a year ago, after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. By yesterday its allies within the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) were accusing it of "genocide". On the ground, the US troops recognise that they have no friends among the Iraqi forces supposedly on their side - and even America's closest allies in Iraq are beginning to run for cover.
Yet the disasters of the past week, the worst in political terms since President Bush decided to invade Iraq, are in large measure self-inflicted. The US suddenly found itself fighting a two-front war because it over-reacted to pressure, political and military, from important minority groups in the Sunni and Shia communities.
In Vietnam a US commander once said of a village: "We had to destroy it in order to save it." In Iraq the same might apply to Fallujah. It is true that since the war Fallujah has been the most militant and anti-American city in Iraq, but it is not entirely typical. Sunni by religion and highly tribal, it has a well-earned reputation among Iraqis as being a bastion for bandits. Iraqis in Baghdad, even those sympathetic to the resistance, spoke of people in Fallujah pursuing their own private feud with the US.
Yet the US responded to the killing of the four US contractors in Fallujah by sending in 1,200 Marines to launch a medieval siege, one in which they initially refused to allow ambulances in or out. If the Americans really believed they were being attacked by a tiny minority, Iraqis asked, why were they attacking a city of 300,000 people? The result has been to turn Fallujah into a nationalist and religious symbol for all Iraqis.
For the first time the armed resistance is becoming truly popular in Baghdad. Previously Iraqis often approved of it as the only way to put pressure on the US. But they were also wary of the guerrillas, because of fear of religious fanaticism or connections with Saddam's deeply unpopular regime. But thanks to Fallujah, this has changed: Iraqi nationalism is back in business.
As the first refugees began to reach Baghdad yesterday they received a hero's welcome. At the Khalid bin Whalid mosque in the Dhora district of the city, about 300 people had offered to house families from Fallujah. There were, in fact, more offers of free accommodation than there were refugees needing somewhere to live. "I have two wives in two houses," said one man, "but they can go and stay with their parents, and people from Fallujah can stay there instead." The Baghdad blood bank in the Adhamiyah quarter was also overwhelmed with people giving blood for the wounded.[...]
One of the most famous guerrilla leaders against Saddam, the so-called Prince of the Marshes, Abdul-Karim Mahoud al-Mohammedawi, said he was suspending his membership of the council until "the bleeding stops in Iraq". Another IGC member, Adnan Pachachi, the former Iraqi Foreign Minister, whose language is normally highly diplomatic, denounced the siege, saying: "It is not right to punish all the people of Fallujah, and we consider these operations by the Americans unacceptable and illegal." The political isolation of the Americans in Iraq, apart from their support among the Kurds, is now almost complete.[...]
The President has few options
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington 11 April 2004
Spring in central Texas is the loveliest season, when the fields are carpeted with bluebonnet wild flowers and the blistering heat of summer is still months away. But that will be scant comfort for George W Bush during this Easter holiday at the ranch he calls Prairie Chapel.
In the all-embracing "war against terror", stretching from 11 September 2001 to the plains of Iraq today, this has been his rockiest week. On Thursday, over the President's initial vehement objections, his National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, testified under oath to the special commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, obliged to defend her boss in the one area he had seemed impregnable, as the super-vigilant foe of global terrorism. By common consent she made a pretty good fist of it.
Even so, the White House may not be home free. Despite separate objections by the President, at week's end his aides were preparing to make public the text of the top-secret President's Daily Briefing for 6 August 2001, which contained an assessment of the threat posed by al-Qa'ida. Ms Rice says the document merely assembled existing information, but some suspect it may have contained new warnings of an impending attack. By and large, however, she countered the central charge of her former counter-terrorism deputy, Richard Clarke, that the Bush team was asleep at the wheel in the months before the attacks on New York and Washington.
Alas for the President, the great Condi show, so keenly anticipated by connoisseurs of Washington scandal, was by Thursday a mere side-show to the real drama playing out 5,000 miles away. As she duelled with the commission members, the on-screen "crawls" beneath her face on the cable news channels told the true story of the day - the urban warfare, hostage-taking and general mayhem across Iraq, all part of an unravelling of US policy that could cost Mr Bush the presidency in November.[...]
But if the chaos continues, something will have to give. Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the neo-conservatives maintain that this upsurge of violence was expected, and that the insurgents are a small minority. But the endless pictures of smoke plumes rising over Iraqi cities and gunmen in the streets give the lie to the Pentagon's claims that foreign terrorists and "dead-enders" loyal to the vanished Baathist regime alone were behind the resistance.
As Fallujah, Najaf and Kut turn into battle zones, as Sunnis and Shias start to make common cause and nervous GIs no longer know who is friend and who is foe, the question soon will be unavoidable: what on earth is America doing there?[...]
In Middle-America, folks are beginning to worry
By Tom Carver in Washington 11 April 2004
"I don't want to come back in 30 years and look for my friends' names on a wall." Sixteen-year-old Sarah Wells is visiting Washington for the weekend with her family. She feels a generalised anxiety about what is going on in Iraq, but admits that the fighting "hasn't really hit home" so far because she doesn't know anyone who has been sent there.
"Iraq will never be that many names," says Sarah's father, Jeff Wells, 47, looking back at the Vietnam Memorial, an angled scar of granite in the ground inscribed with the names of the 58,209 Americans who died in Vietnam.
Jeff was called up for duty in Vietnam but never served; the war ended before he had finished training. He is confident that Iraq will not be a repeat of Vietnam. "We're going in with our eyes open this time. We're there to eliminate terrorism." His wife Carrie, also 47, agrees, "I do think the objective is clearer."
Jeff did not vote for George Bush last time but is thinking of doing so now. He has no difficulty with the mission in Iraq. "I don't want another 9/11," he says. But a few minutes later, he is worrying about how America will extricate herself. "Vietnamisation - the idea of handing over control to the Vietnamese - never worked, and I can't see it working in Iraq either."
Kay Drury, 65, from New Jersey, disagrees. "I am a registered Republican but I don't like the Bushes. I'm so mad that he should think we have a right to go into Iraq." Her sister, Lee Moore, 64, from Atlanta nods. "I hope he starts pulling the troops out, but I don't know what happens then. There'll be a vacuum." Among the crowds of visitors there is general agreement that Iraq is not Vietnam redux. "I don't think this country will stand for another Vietnam," says Kay Drury simply.
"Vietnam never had a purpose," adds Brad Glosser, 40, who has brought his family from Pittsburgh to look for his father-in-law's name on the wall. "It was aimless. This is an established mission. The backing of the country this time is much greater. I don't think a President will ever let another Vietnam happen.
" Rick Stanger, 27, from New York, doesn't share Mr Glosser's support for the war, but agrees that it's not like Vietnam. At least not yet. "Our involvement in Vietnam built up gradually over a long time," he said. "That's not the same in Iraq." His 26-year-old wife, Spring, agrees. "If political careers start ending, we will pull out." They both worry about leaving the job unfinished. "America has a history of half-assed foreign relations. We've got to stay," says Rick. "We've got to rebuild all the hospitals and schools we've destroyed," says Spring.
Is Iraq going to be a factor in deciding how they shall vote in November? Not yet. "If it becomes a bigger issue, we will vote on it, but not at the moment." On this Easter weekend, there is a relaxed mood among the families sitting on the grass under the cherry blossom soaking up the spring sunshine. A hut near the Vietnam Memorial sells military memorabilia, including a poster saying "terrorist hunting permits available". Most Americans here seem to have no difficulty accepting the idea that the invasion of Iraq was a justified response to 9/11.[...]
One of the few to express outright opposition to the war is Kenneth Brown, a 58-year-old African-American history professor from Michigan. "Saddam never did anything against America," he said. "Of course he was a bad person, but there are a lot of bad people in China. We don't go after them." Mr Brown is definitely not going to vote for George Bush, but still thinks he will win. "People want their President to be right."
Comment: The phrase "History repeating" comes to mind.
First published: Saturday, April 10, 2004
By FREDERICK LORENZ
In the fall of 1992, Americans sat down to Thanksgiving dinner after watching television images of starving Somalis. A major international effort was launched to provide security and rebuild the country.
But, just one year later, images of slain American soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, the capital, brought an end to the mission. Conditions in Somalia clearly did not pose a threat to vital American interests, and the Clinton administration quickly called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. There were many lessons drawn from Somalia, but an unfortunate one was certainly drawn by al-Qaida and other enemies of the United States: By killing a few Americans, U.S. policy can be reversed and the Americans will go home.
Comment: The author of this article was a senior legal adviser for US forces in Somalia, and he is doing his job in the instance of the Iraq situation by deflecting any kind of comparisons people may make about the two scenarios. In Somalia the Americans were killed because of their unreported slaughter of many Somali citizens and their destruction of some vital aspects of Somali society infrastructure that has left that country in a worse position than when the Americans came in to "provide security and rebuild the country".
The same situation applies in Iraq today, except that the American people are being psychologically prepared to accept many more American bodies being dragged through Iraqi streets, because this time the invasion of Iraq is not "humanitarian"; being a purported "war on terror" to "safeguard the security of Americans" everywhere. Either way, just like in simplistic Hollywood movies, the Americans are as always, "the good guys".
Terrorists know the value of imagery and use it to their advantage. This presents a terrible dilemma for a free society, and a huge responsibility for the media. What is the balance between free access to news, and respect for the sensibilities of viewers and families of victims? Americans are treated to graphic images of violence daily in movies and TV, and at this time, the media shouldn't be criticized for its recent coverage of events in Iraq. Iraq is not Somalia, and it is important to avoid simple comparisons between the killings in Mogadishu and those in Fallujah.
In Somalia, the initial American mission was essentially humanitarian and, again, not vital to American interests. Since 9/11, Americans have recognized that there is a direct connection between events in the Middle East and their own safety and security. The U.S. Marines have only recently taken control of the "Sunni Triangle" region, the most difficult piece of geography in Iraq. It is too early to tell if the new force and the new Marine tactics will be successful. At this point, it is more important to analyze the nature of the threat, and not jump to the conclusion that this is another Somalia.
Were last week's events isolated, in a country that generally supports the U.S. occupation? Was this a terrorist plot? Or was this an indication of a rising tide of Iraqi nationalism that will pose the real long-term danger to rebuilding Iraq? The challenge now is to find the answers and develop a strategy to deal with the threat. The answer in Somalia was straightforward -- to leave. But Iraq presents more difficult choices.
Comment: Yes indeed; "Iraq presents more difficult choices". Somalians can continue to starve because like Rwanda, Somalia has no pressing strategic value to the US. One might even say that Somalia was a "test run" of sorts. If you think the US pulled out of Somalia because they cared about dead Americans, you have bought into the lie. In the battle for control of our minds, the contradictions within the Somalia situation made for embarassing questions, so they pulled out before many could connect the dots.
And of the two options posed by the author in the Iraqi body dragging scenario, the last one: "...an indication of a rising tide of Iraqi nationalism that will pose the real long-term danger" is the closest to the truth. By couching this option within the premise that Iraq "generally supports the US occupation", the average American reader is being steered to think that the resistance and anger in Fallujah was nothing more than yet another ubiquitous "terrorist plot".
threaten to execute American
The insurgents released a video showing Tommy Hamill, a 43-year-old tanker truck driver from Macon, Miss., who is believed to have been abducted during a raid on a fuel convoy Friday.
"If you don't respond within 12 hours he will be treated worse than those who were killed and burned in Fallujah," the captors said on a tape sent to the Arabic news network Al-Jazeera, The Associated Press reported from Baghdad.
The initial deadline passed at 9 p.m. CDT Saturday, but there was no word on his fate.
As combat continued across Iraq Saturday, at least three Americans and scores of Iraqis died. Iraqi Government Council members worked feverishly to arrange cease-fires in both the Sunni-dominated center of the country and the Shiite-dominated south.
In Fallujah, where hundreds of civilians have died, the U.S.-led coalition and the insurgents agreed to a 12-hour cease-fire today so wounded civilians could be treated and others could leave the city.
A voice-over read by an Al-Jazeera announcer quoted Hamill as saying: "I'm in good shape. They were good to me. They gave me antibiotics," the AP reported.
"I have no idea what is going on Fallujah," Hamill is quoted as saying. "I hear there is a siege and people are living in some sort of prison."
"I hope to return home one day, and I want my family to know that these people are taking care of me, and provide me with food, water and a place to sleep," Hamill is quoted as saying.
Al-Jazeera showed pictures of Hamill seated next to a hooded gunman in the back seat of a car. Another showed a calm Hamill standing in front of an Iraqi flag.
Hamill, who was interviewed by the Houston Chronicle on March 24, had signed on to work in Iraq hoping to earn $80,000 or more as a tanker truck driver. But he didn't relish taking risks.
"The money's not good enough to die for, but it's good," he said at the time.
The director of the Iraqi Red Crescent in the Kurdish city of Arbil and his wife have been murdered, a Red Crescent official said Saturday. The bodies of Barzan Omar Ahmad and his wife Sazane Ismail Abdullah, who also worked at the Red Crescent, were discovered late on Friday on a street in the Hay al-Intisar district of the main northern city of Mosul, said Hawar Fares.
Fares said the murders were a "terrorist operation" carried out by gunmen, as bullets were found in the car.[...]
Comment: And of course bullets are always evidence of a "terrorist operation" no?
Vice President Dick Cheney brought a message of solidarity Saturday to a nation torn over its commitment of humanitarian forces in Iraq. The abduction of three Japanese hostages by Iraqi militants cast a long shadow over the start of Cheney's weeklong trip to Asia.
Hundreds of anti-war demonstrators urged their government to withdraw Japanese troops from Iraq to save the lives of the three civilians. The captors had threatened to kill the Japanese unless Tokyo withdrew its troops from Iraq by Sunday — a demand Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has refused.
Later Saturday, the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera reported the kidnappers said they would release the hostages within 24 hours. The kidnappers, identifying themselves as the "Muhahedeen Squadron," said they made the decision after mediation by the Islamic Clerics Committee, an Iraqi Sunni Muslim organization, Al-Jazeera reported.[...]
The kidnappers of three Japanese taken hostage in Iraq said they will release them within 24 hours, the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera said Saturday. The kidnappers, identifying themselves as the "Muhahedeen Squadron," said they made the decision after mediation by the Islamic Clerics Committee, an Iraqi Sunni Muslim organization, Al-Jazeera reported.
In a statement, the kidnappers urged the Japanese public to press their government to withdraw its troops from Iraq, the station said. Footage delivered to Al-Jazeera, as well as Associated Press Television News, on Thursday showed the three Japanese - two aid workers and a journalist -blindfolded and threatened by masked men with guns and knives. The kidnappers threatened in a statement delivered to al-Jazeera with the footage that the hostages would be burned alive if Japan's troops weren't pulled from Iraq within three days.
April 9, 2004
Dear Ms. Rice:
I am writing to communicate four points regarding your testimony yesterday under oath before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
Point #1: You are a liar.
Attorney General Ashcroft sits on the National Security Council. Warned by his FBI security detail, the head of law enforcement for the United States knew to avoid commercial airlines on September 11, 2001.
It was your job as National Security Advisor to make sure that the people who flew on American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, United Airlines Flight 93 and American Airlines Flight 77 had the benefit of the same warnings as those they paid to protect us.
You knew. You kept silent. They died. [...]
Point #2: Your motives are transparent.
The World Trade Center is in the heart of New York City one of the great financial capitals of the world. The Pentagon is in the heart of Washington -- the appropriation and accounting capital for the US federal budget and credit and the US Treasury the largest issuer of securities in the world.
Unlike many other terrorist attacks, these attacks killed people whose family, friends and neighbors understand how these financial systems work.
Victim families, friends and the residents of the communities directly harmed can calculate who made money on 9-11 profiteering. They can trace the flow of money into the 2004 Presidential campaign coffers from the profits your supporters made as a result of 9-11 profiteering. They can calculate how 9-11 profiteering connects to the financing and silence of corporate media. [...]
Point #3: You are going down.
The richest and most powerful people in the world pay for performance. They pay you to make the US governmental apparatus look legitimate while they use it to centralize economic and political power. That means they need liars who are better at lying than you. [...]
Point #4: You are guilty of criminal gross negligence.
If you want to catch a terrorist today, you need look no further than your own mirror.
Wood and Paul Thompson
"It was an interesting day." - President Bush, recalling 9/11 [White House, 1/5/02]
At approximately 8:48 a.m. on the morning of September 11, 2001, the first pictures of the burning World Trade Center were broadcast on live television. The news anchors, reporters, and viewers had little idea what had happened in lower Manhattan, but there were some people who did know. By that time, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the National Military Command Center, the Pentagon, the White House, the Secret Service, and Canada's Strategic Command all knew that three commercial airplanes had been hijacked. They knew that one plane had been flown deliberately into the World Trade Center's North Tower; a second plane was wildly off course and also heading toward Manhattan; and a third plane had abruptly turned around over Ohio and was flying back toward Washington, DC.
So why, at 9:03 a.m. - fifteen minutes after it was clear the United States was under terrorist attack - did President Bush sit down with a classroom of second-graders and begin a 20-minute pre-planned photo op? No one knows the answer to that question. In fact, no one has even asked Bush about it.
Bush's actions on September 11 have been the subject of lively debate, mostly on the internet. Details reported that day and in the week after the attacks - both the media reports and accounts given by Bush himself - have changed radically over the past 18 months. Culling hundreds of reports from newspapers, magazines, and the internet has only made finding the "truth" of what happened and when it happened more confusing. In the changed political climate after 9/11, few have dared raise challenging questions about Bush's actions. A journalist who said Bush was "flying around the country like a scared child, seeking refuge in his mother's bed after having a nightmare" and another who said Bush "skedaddled" were fired. We should have a concise record of where President Bush was throughout the day the US was attacked, but we do not.
What follows is an attempt to give the most complete account of Bush's actions - from Florida to Louisiana to Nebraska to Washington, DC. [...]
Comment: Click here to read the full article, which is packed with hyperlinks to the authors' numerous sources.
JEHL and DAVID E. SANGER
WASHINGTON, April 10 The classified briefing that President Bush received 36 days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks reported that the Al Qaeda terrorist network had maintained an active presence in the United States for years, was suspected of recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York and could be preparing for domestic hijackings.
But the briefing did not point to any specific time or place of attack and did not warn that planes could be used as missiles.
After releasing the "President's Daily Brief" on Saturday evening, White House officials said that none of the information given to the president at his ranch in Texas on Aug. 6, 2001, was later found to be related to the attacks. But the page-and-a-quarter-long document showed that Mr. Bush was given more specific and contemporary information about terrorist threats than the White House had previously acknowledged.
As recently as Thursday, the White House described the brief only as a "historical" account of Al Qaeda activity.
FLASHBACK: May 27, 2002
Sen. Bob Graham (D.-Fla.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told HUMAN EVENTS May 21 that his committee had received all the same terrorism intelligence prior to September 11 as the Bush administration.
"Yes, we had seen all the information," said Graham. "But we didn't see it on a single piece of paper, the way the President did."
Graham added that threats of hijacking in an August 6 memo to President Bush were based on very old intelligence that the committee had seen earlier. "The particular report that was in the President's Daily Briefing that day was about three years old," Graham said. "It was not a contemporary piece of information."
Comment: Graham was plying the same old line: it was historical data. The newly released memo contradicts this assertion. But then, Graham was meeting with the head of Pakistani intelligence on the morning of September 11, the man later found to be carrying $100,000 in cash for the alleged leader of the "terrorists," Mohammad Atta.
Coincidence? We think not.
[...] Condoleezza Rice began her testimony with a statement in which she minimized the possibility that anyone could have known what was happening. All intelligence prior to 9/11 was "not specific as to time, nor place, nor manner of attack," she said. But then 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste pressed her about that PDB memo, still rated as "classified" by the government. Ben-Veniste was legally prohibited from mentioning even the title of the document.
But he wasn't prohibited from asking Rice the title of the PDB. And she obliged: "I believe the title was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'" Ouch. Just moments after she had said intelligence was "not specific" about the place of attack, here's a presidential-level document warning, specifically, that al-Qaida's target wasn't overseas somewhere, but rather the United States itself.
David Colton, Washington lawyer and veteran of the intelligence world, observes of this exchange: "Ben-Veniste hypnotized her." Colton adds, "She fell into the rhythm of a smart lawyer's questions, and so blurted out the single most damning admission of these hearings."
Seeming to realize she had said too much, Rice tried to bury the revelation by piling on words. She insisted that the document, the PDB's title notwithstanding, "did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting." Whereupon Ben-Veniste invited her to seek the declassification of the entire memo. Rice declined.
Rice's semi-admission - she was under oath, but that doesn't guarantee that every witness will tell whole truth - stirred up Bob Kerrey, another commissioner.
Kerrey was bound by the same strict rules of classification as Ben-Veniste, but he's a free-spirited war hero and so didn't care that he was breaking those rules. "In the spirit of further declassification," he announced, "this is what the August 6th memo said to the president: that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking. That's the language of the memo that was briefed to the president on the 6th of August."
Ouch again. "Hijacking" is pretty darn specific - which seems to contradict Rice's assertion that the intelligence was "frustratingly vague" as to the "manner of attack."
By The Associated
The text of a declassified presidential daily intelligence briefing from Aug. 6, 2001 made public on Saturday by the White House. Portions marked "x" were blacked out before release.
Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US
Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."
After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to xxxxxxxxxxx service.
An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an xxxxxxxxxx service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.
The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.
Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.
Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.
Al-Qa'ida members including some who are US citizens have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa'ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.
A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a xxxxxxxxxx service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.
Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.
Special to SF Gate
Don't let them fool you, folks: They knew.
They might have been surprised by the ferocity of the attacks, but the highest-ranking members of the George W. Bush administration knew before Sept. 11 that something terrible was going to happen soon. Bush knew something was going to happen involving airplanes. He just didn't know what or exactly when. His attorney general, John Ashcroft, knew. His national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, knew. They all knew.
[...] Is this my opinion? No, it's published fact.
On July 26, 2001, cbsnews.com reported that John Ashcroft had stopped flying on commercial airlines.
Ashcroft used to fly commercial, just as Janet Reno did. So why, two months before Sept. 11, did he start taking chartered government planes?
CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart asked the Justice Department.
Because of a "threat assessment" by the FBI, he was told. But "neither the FBI nor the Justice Department ... would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it," CBS News reported.
Comment: And don't forget that the mayor of San Francisco was warned not to fly on September 11 by Condi herself.
Sat Apr 10, 2:45 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Six out of 10 Americans say the Bush administration underestimated the threat of terrorism prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and nearly two out of three are at least somewhat concerned Iraq could become another Vietnam, according to a Newsweek Poll released on Saturday.
The poll of 1,005 adults taken on Thursday and Friday also showed a 51 percent disapproval rating for President Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq, where violence has flared up in the last week amid calls by Muslim clerics for an uprising against the U.S.-led occupation.
Reflecting an erosion of confidence in Bush's leadership in the war on terror and his conduct of the Iraq war, Democratic challenger John Kerry was the choice of 50 percent of the respondents to become the next president in November in a one-to-one matchup with Bush.
4/9/2004 12:13:00 PM
SUGAR LAND, Texas., April 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) today questioned controversial statements made yesterday by former President Jimmy Carter about the war on terror.
"I'm just glad President Carter wasn't in charge after Valley Forge, Bull Run, or Pearl Harbor."
"Unfortunately, this is becoming a dangerous pattern," DeLay said. "Democrat leaders continue to undermine our troops and our coalition's ability to win the war and bring peace and stability to the Middle East."
"President Carter should understand that appeasement isn't an option, and the only 'peaceful settlement' to this war will be America's victory."
Carter was quoted this morning as saying, "President Bush's war was ill-advised and unnecessary and based on erroneous statements, and has turned out to be a tragedy," Carter said. "And my prayer has been that brave young American men and women, and others who are there, that their lives will be spared and there will be some peaceful resolution of the war."
Comment: [Psychopath] DeLay sez: Carter Comments Part of Dangerous Pattern [of truth]; Dem Leaders' Rhetoric Undermining Troops, War on Terror [and globalization plans of Bush Reich].
Israeli advisers are helping train US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, including the use of assassination squads against guerrilla leaders, US intelligence and military sources said yesterday.
The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has sent urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the home of US special forces, and according to two sources, Israeli military "consultants" have also visited Iraq.
US forces in Iraq's Sunni triangle have already begun to use tactics that echo Israeli operations in the occupied territories, sealing off centres of resistance with razor wire and razing buildings from where attacks have been launched against US troops.
But the secret war in Iraq is about to get much tougher, in the hope of suppressing the Ba'athist-led insurgency ahead of next November's presidential elections.
US special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria attempting to kill foreign jihadists before they cross the border, and a group focused on the "neutralisation" of guerrilla leaders is being set up, according to sources familiar with the operations.
"This is basically an assassination programme. That is what is being conceptualised here. This is a hunter-killer team," said a former senior US intelligence official, who added that he feared the new tactics and enhanced cooperation with Israel would only inflame a volatile situation in the Middle East.
"It is bonkers, insane. Here we are - we're already being compared to Sharon in the Arab world, and we've just confirmed it by bringing in the Israelis and setting up assassination teams."
"They are being trained by Israelis in Fort Bragg," a well-informed intelligence source in Washington said.
"Some Israelis went to Iraq as well, not to do training, but for providing consultations."
The consultants' visit to Iraq was confirmed by another US source who was in contact with American officials there.
The Pentagon did not return calls seeking comment, but a military planner, Brigadier General Michael Vane, mentioned the cooperation with Israel in a letter to Army magazine in July about the Iraq counter-insurgency campaign.
"We recently travelled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their counterterrorist operations in urban areas," wrote General Vane, deputy chief of staff at the army's training and doctrine command.
An Israeli official said the IDF regularly shared its experience in the West Bank and Gaza with the US armed forces, but said he could not comment about cooperation in Iraq.
"When we do activities, the US military attaches in Tel Aviv are interested. I assume it's the same as the British. That's the way allies work. The special forces come to our people and say, do debrief on an operation we have done," the official said. [...]
"When we turn to anyone for insights, it doesn't mean we blindly accept it," Col Peters said. "But I think what you're seeing is a new realism. The American tendency is to try to win all the hearts and minds. In Iraq, there are just some hearts and minds you can't win. Within the bounds of human rights, if you do make an example of certain villages it gets the attention of the others, and attacks have gone down in the area."
The new counter-insurgency unit made up of elite troops being put together in the Pentagon is called Task Force 121, New Yorker magazine reported in yesterday's edition.
One of the planners behind the offensive is a highly controversial figure, whose role is likely to inflame Muslim opinion: Lieutenant General William "Jerry" Boykin.
In October, there were calls for his resignation after he told a church congregation in Oregon that the US was at war with Satan, who "wants to destroy us as a Christian army".
"He's been promoted a rank above his abilities," he said. "Some generals are pretty good on battlefield but are disastrous nearer the source of power."
Comment: In Victor Ostrovsky's book on the Mossad, "By Way Of Deception", he details the fact that a fundamental aspect of the Mossad's tactics in waging war by deception is the training and equipping of BOTH sides in military conflicts around the world. It seems clear that this is exactly what is happening in Iraq. The Iraqi war is being waged at the behest of Israel. Far from desiring the creation of peace and democracy in Iraq, Israel has a vested interest in escalating the conflict and encouraging it to spill over into neighbouring Arab countries.
Saturday 10 April 2004
A 12-year-old Palestinian girl has been shot dead in the southern Gaza Strip, Aljazeera's correspondent reports.
Iman Talba was killed in the Amal quarter of the city of Khan Yunis on Saturday when Israeli occupation soldiers from the Ganei Tal Jewish settlement opened fire at her three-storey building nearby.
The Israeli army said it was checking the report.
Alaa, told Reuters he saw a bullet fly through the family's kitchen window,
ricochet off a wall and hit her. He added there were no clashes in the
area at the time.
"While she was getting a plate, a bullet suddenly came through the window and she was shot in her head, with her blood spilling onto the floor."
April 11, 2004
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will hand US President George W. Bush a written commitment to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements at talks in the White House this week, a senior official said.
Sharon is hoping to secure Washington's approval for what he has called his "disengagement plan" at their summit on Wednesday, in the hope that Bush's backing will blunt opposition from within his own party and coalition cabinet.
Ahead of Sharon's departure on Monday night, his bureau chief Dov Weisglass and national security advisor Giora Eiland have already left for Washington for final preparatory talks with Bush administration officials.
According to a close aide of Sharon, the prime minister will give Bush a letter in which he will confirm his pledge to evacuate all of the 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip as well as four other settlements in the northern West Bank but without setting out any timetable.
In return Bush would also pledge to defend Israel and support the internationally-backed but currently stalled roadmap peace plan rather than any other blueprints that have been recently floated. [...]
Thousands of Palestinians in impoverished Gaza waited in long lines outside mosques Saturday to contribute what little funds they had to Hamas' fight against Israel, the Islamic militant group said.
Hamas, the largest opposition group, is negotiating with Yasser Arafat 's Palestinian Authority on how to run Gaza after a planned Israeli withdrawal. The group, which opposes the existence of Israel, has killed more than 300 Israelis in attacks since 2000.
Also, an 11-year-old girl was killed in her kitchen in the Gaza town of Khan Younis when she was hit by a stray bullet, witnesses said. The military said soldiers were shooting at militants who had fired a rocket. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon , meanwhile, was campaigning Saturday for the Gaza withdrawal, part of a unilateral plan of "disengagement" from the Palestinians. Sharon also wants to evacuate four West Bank settlements and impose a boundary on the Palestinians in that territory.
A referendum among 200,000 members of Sharon's Likud Party will determine the fate of that plan. The vote will be held by the end of this month — Sharon's preferred date is April 29 — to be followed quickly by votes in the Cabinet and parliament. Some reports said the Cabinet vote could be held May 2, followed by a parliament vote the next day. Sharon's spokesman, Assaf Shariv, did not confirm the dates, but said the prime minister wants to push ahead quickly. "We want to run with this," Shariv said. [...]
The prime minister hopes to win Bush's endorsement of the Gaza plan and some U.S. promises that might make it easier to persuade reluctant Likud members to support it. Two of Sharon's senior aides flew to Washington on Saturday for advance meetings with Bush administration officials. Hamas is trying to strengthen itself ahead of an Israeli withdrawal. On Friday, prayer leaders in 11 Gaza mosques announced that the group needed money to fight Israel.
Hamas fund-raising abroad has been seriously hampered in recent months, with Israel and the United States trying to stop the transfer of funds. In February, Israeli troops raided several banks in the West Bank, seizing nearly $7 million of what Israel said was money funneled to militants, including Hamas, from abroad. Thousands of Palestinians responded to Hamas' call, with no apparent signs of intimidation from Hamas militants. By Friday evening, many were still lined up outside Gaza mosques to give over money and jewelry. "I give them 50 shekels ($11), and I feel so sorry because I can't give them more," said Khalil Hassouna, 45, a father of 12 who earns 850 shekels ($190) a month working as a night watchman. Hamas officials on Saturday refused to say how much money they had collected, but there were reports of individual donations of up to $50,000. The strong turnout was seen as backing for Hamas' violent ideology and a vote of confidence that Hamas leaders would not pocket the money for themselves.[...]
Roots of Hamas Are Being Exposed
Kurtzer said that the growth of the Islamic movement in the Palestinian territories in recent decades—"with the tacit support of Israel"—was "not totally unrelated" to the emergence of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their terrorist attacks against Israel. Kurtzer explained that during the 1980s, when the Islamic movement began to flourish in the West Bank and Gaza, "Israel perceived it to be better to have people turning toward religion rather than toward a nationalistic cause [the Palestinian Liberation Organization—ed.]." It therefore did little to stop the flow of money to mosques and other religious institutions, rather than to schools. [...]
The ambassador's comments are an acknowledgment of what any serious Middle East observers knows: Hamas has always been seen as a tool by which Israel could undermine the nationalist movement led by Palestinian Authority President and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat. Similar statements by Arafat have been dismissed by Israel as "cranky" propaganda. In an interview with the Dec. 11 Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Arafat said, "We are doing everything to stop the violence. But Hamas is a creature of Israel which at the time of Prime Minister [Yitzhak] Shamir [the late 1980s, when Hamas arose], gave them money and more than 700 institutions, among them schools, universities and mosques. Even [former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin ended up admitting it, when I charged him with it, in the presence of [Egpytian President Hosni] Mubarak."
Maariv News Service
London Mayor Kenneth “Red Ken” Livingstone told the Guardian in an interview published yesterday (Thursday) that he would like to see Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon put in the Hague prison where war-crimes defendants are held. Livingstone showed no pro-Arab bias, however: he also said he looks forward to the Saudi royal family "swinging from the lamp-posts."
Livingstone was allowed back into the Labor party this year, having been expelled for running for mayor as an independent in 2000. He is now running for re-election as Labor’s candidate but the interview demonstrated how much the popular mayor was intimidated by the so-called loyalty test he was put to by five senior Labor figures.
While commending Blair the for attempting to gain more attention for the Palestinian issue in Washington, Livingstone said of President George Bush, "I'm not even sure he was aware there were any Palestinians before he was elected, any more than he knew the name of the president of Pakistan." As for the prime minister of Israel, he would like to see Sharon incarcerated in the next cell to the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. [...]
al-Qaida plot to burn U.S. forests
An Arabic-language jihadi website posted a message purporting to be "al-Qaida’s plan of economic attack" on the U.S. that included setting forest fires, according to the Northeast Intelligence Network.
The six-point plan appeared Saturday and called for:
Law enforcement officials suspected several of the California wildfires that killed 18, consumed more than 718,000 acres and destroyed more than 2,400 homes in 10 days were deliberately set – increasing speculation there is a terror connection to the blazes.
Only one man was arrested – Dikran Armouchian, 23, of Pasadena. He pleaded not guilty and has not yet been tried.
Damage estimates exceeded $2 billion. The fires were among the deadliest and costliest disasters in California. [...]
Comment: What a convenient way to explain away an overhead cometary impact and in the process further the war on terror and the clampdown on civil rights that has followed in its wake.
Sunday April 11, 9:52 AM
British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the violent crisis in Iraq was a "historic struggle" that the US-led coalition must win.
"There is a battle we have to fight, a struggle we have to win and it is happening now in Iraq," Blair said in an interview to be published in Sunday's Observer newspaper.
Tony Blair is to rally to George Bush's side this week as the violent uprising in Iraq threatens to unleash a domestic backlash against both leaders. Downing Street sought to play down indications that US military tactics in Iraq are causing dismay among senior ministers. The Prime Minister will instead offer the President unstinting support on his White House visit this Friday, his aides insisted last night.
However, they did not deny that Mr Blair, currently on holiday in Bermuda, is to make clear Britain will resist calls for additional troops to quell the disturbances. As military analysts suggest 100,000 more soldiers may be needed if the trouble spreads, ministers are keen to switch attention to the diplomatic front. Mr Blair and Mr Bush are expected to step up attempts to win international support and a greater UN involvement in Iraq.
The Prime Minister is to meet Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, on Thursday to learn what roles, if any, the organisation is willing to take over from the coalition to enable the proposed handover of power to an Iraqi provisional government on 30 June. The answer will hinge on the findings of Mr Annan's special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, who has been talking with religious, political and human rights leaders in Baghdad since last Sunday.
There is speculation Mr Brahimi will recommend the handover is postponed. MPs from across the political divide yesterday urged Mr Blair to abandon the 30 June deadline. Oliver Letwin, the Shadow Chancellor, called for greater flexibility over the date, while Peter Kilfoyle, a leading Labour rebel, called for the handover to be delayed until a provisional government could be sure of internal support. [...]
The US air force was left red-faced last year when a drone flew uninvited into British skies and had to be granted so-called "purple airspace" usually reserved for Britain's royal family, the London-based Observer newspaper said Sunday.
"We had no idea what this thing was, had to hurriedly identify it and then give it 'purple airspace," said a civil servant quoted by the Sunday newspaper.
"It was major embarrassment that has been hushed up," the source added.
Virtually everyone in Government is desperate for John Kerry to take the White House - everyone except a conflicted Prime Minister
[...] Put bluntly, Blair's relationship with Bush has become a horrible embarrassment and a dire liability which damages the Prime Minister every time it is placed on public display.
Symbolic of that is the miserable saga of the Congressional Medal of Honour. When it was first announced, Number 10 was puffed with pride that Tony Blair had become the first British leader to receive the highest accolade America can bestow on a foreigner since Winston Churchill (posthumously) in 1969. Nearly a year later, the medal still awaits collection. I understand Mr Blair won't be picking it up this week, either. Pictures from Washington of President Bush pinning a medal on the chest of Tony Blair while Iraq convulses with killings and hostage-taking is absolutely not the image that Downing Street wants beamed back home.
and Martin Bright
Sympathisers with extremist Islamic groups will risk jail under controversial plans to make merely associating with a suspected terrorist a crime.
The move is aimed at stopping those now floating on the fringes of terrorist cells from being sucked further in. It reflects serious concern - both within government and among the moderate Muslim community - about how to tackle disaffected young men attracted by the teachings of fundamentalists, or by British mosques identified as recruiting grounds for al-Qaeda activists.
But it will be highly controversial among civil liberties campaigners, since it would allow people who have committed no crime to be dragged before the courts in a 'guilt-by-association' culture.
Suspected Taliban militants have kidnapped a high-ranking local government officer in south-central Afghanistan's Uruzgan province, an official said on Saturday. "Our intelligence chief, Haji Ahmadullah and two of his bodyguards have been kidnapped by Taliban while driving to the provincial capital Tarin Kowt from a mission in neighbouring districts," a security official said.
The official said that the three men were kidnapped on Thursday and are believed to have been taken to remote Shah Wali Kot district, a southern mountainous area believed to be the main hideout for Taliban remnants in Uruzgan.[...]
Abdul Razaq, formerly a high-ranking Taliban official during the 1996-2001 fundamentalist regime, has been blamed for much of the unrest in Uruzgan, 360km southwest of Kabul. The Uruzgan official said government forces had conducted a search operation for the men on Thursday and Friday but were unsuccessful. More than two and half years after the extremist Taliban regime was smashed by a US-led military campaign in late 2001, the remnants of the militia still carry out regular attacks on foreign and pro-government troops. Uruzgan, the birth place of Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, is one of the provinces in southern Afghanistan which has been hard-hit by a wave of insurgency blamed on the remnants of the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies. The south, east and southeast of Afghanistan is currently the focus of the US-led Operation Mountain Storm to kill or capture al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.
Sri Lanka's Tiger rebels Saturday consolidated gains over vast territory taken from renegade rebels, but at least 11,000 civilians fled their homes fearing more fighting, officials said. At least two civilians were reported killed and many more wounded since the main Tamil Tiger group launched a major offensive on Friday to retake areas held by a rebel regional commander just south of here, officials said.
Security forces have said about 20 rebels had perished in the fighting, but the guerrillas have only said nine of their fighters were killed. The main civil administrator in the Batticaloa district, C Punyamoorthy, estimated the number of people who fled their homes in the troubled areas was in excess of 11 000. "About 4 000 have moved to school buildings, but others have gone to safer areas to live with their friends or relatives," Punyamoorthy said. "We are making arrangements to provide them with rations for three days." Top military officials here in this northeastern port district said the main thrust of the Tiger offensive appeared to be over and only sporadic firing was heard overnight. [...]
Comment: Interestingly, in Ostrovsky's book on the Mossad, "By Way of Deception", he claims that the Tamil Tigers were one of the groups that the Mossad trained in "insurgency techniques", while at the same time training the regular Sri Lankan army in "counter insurgency" techniques.
royals in US airport row
Airport staff said the search had to be carried out after the couple failed to give the normal 72 hours notice.
Miami-Dade's mayor has apologised for the "apparent disregard for protocol".
The 36-year-old future king and his TV anchorwoman fiancee had flown into Miami from the Bahamas on Thursday evening, reported The Miami Herald.
Before boarding their Iberia Airlines flight to Madrid, the couple and their entourage had to pass through a security check.
They were taken to an American Airlines lounge, where they were searched by three "top-notch screeners with VIP experience", said Lauren Stover, Transportation and Security Administration spokeswoman.
She said the incident was sparked because the royal party had given only six hours notice instead of the standard 72 hours.
"The prince and his bodyguard felt they should not be subjected to the screening, but if they do not have an escort from the State Department or the Secret Service, it is required," she added. "It is the law."
Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas sent the royal family a letter of apology on the same day, calling the situation "lamentable".
"The facts I have received thus far indicate an apparent disregard for protocol and disrespect of His Highness and his delegation... I have called upon our County Manager to conduct a simple investigation into this matter," he wrote.
A Spanish consular official in Miami said it would be Consul General Javier Vallaure's decision whether a complaint should be filed.
"We don't consider this the proper way to treat our future king," he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "It's a breach of protocol".
Comment: Can we say "petty revenge"?
Officials in Peru say a landslide has killed at least six people in a tourist town below the famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. They said five others were missing and feared dead. President Alejendro Toledo, who was at Machu Picchu when the landslide hit following heavy rains, has been coordinating rescue efforts.
Toledo said in a radio broadcast that at least seven houses were swept away. Hundreds of tourists are reported to be stranded in the town. The citadel is South America's top archaeological site, drawing 300,000 foreign visitors each year. No tourists were reported to be among the dead or injured.
Looking weak and speaking with great effort, Pope John Paul blessed the flame of a tall candle at the start of a long Easter vigil service Saturday night in a packed St. Peter's Basilica and baptized faithful from Europe, Africa and Asia in a solemn, chant-filled ceremony. His right hand trembled as he poured water from a gold-coloured, shell-shaped scooper over the heads of a young man from Italy, a toddler from Togo, two Japanese women in kimonos and three others during baptism.
A leafy suburb of north London may seem an unlikely spot for an international radio station devoted to workers' rights. But it is home to Radio LabourStart, which is using the internet to broadcast reports on the plight of workers around the world.
"This is really a new idea for the trade union movement," said Eric Lee, founder of net station which launched in February. "The trade union movement is like a bunch of dinosaurs. It takes them a long time to adopt new technology," he told the BBC programme, Go Digital.
Many marchers carried effigies mocking leader Tung Chee-hwa Thousands of people have marched in Hong Kong to protest at China tightening its grip in the former British colony. On Tuesday, China passed a law allowing it to veto the process by which Hong Kong elects its leader and legislature.
Protesters called for Hong Kong's Beijing-backed leader, Tung Chee-hwa, to step down. Last July, street protests by 500,000 Hong Kong citizens led China to shelve a controversial anti-subversion law. Hoping to repeat that effect, democracy activists in Hong Kong have been calling upon the public to march to save democracy in the province.
King Gyanendra returned on Sunday to Nepal's capital where police again clashed with opposition supporters, whose two weeks of anti-monarchy demonstrations won a new boost from labour unions.
The king may call in opposition leaders for talks at the palace, where tens of thousands have gathered for days of rallies demanding a return to democracy, a minister said on condition of anonymity.
The king had infuriated the opposition by not cutting short his two-week tour of western Nepal, where state television showed him comforting victims of a Maoist rebellion and being greeted warmly by villagers who view him as a god.
By SIMON WORTHINGTON
RE-OPEN the X-files . . . experts have pinpointed the 40 top spots to be abducted by aliens in Britain.
Researchers studied reported UFO sightings across the country to compile a list of places to experience encounters with extra-terrestrial beings.
Top of the list is Bonnybridge in Lanarkshire scene of more alien sightings than anywhere else in the UK.
Eighteen months after the 2001 census results were first published, the Office for National Statistics is still trying to solve the mystery of vanishing men.
Harder to get a man?
When the statisticians first added up the numbers, they found a big hole in the figures: there were a million fewer people than they had expected from the population estimates.
Most of the missing were young men in their 20s, 30s and 40s. It meant that for the first time in nearly a century, there were more women than men throughout the population.
GUTTERMAN, Associated Press Writer
OSINNIKI, Russia - An explosion rocked a Russian coal mine on Saturday, sealing a shaft with rubble and killing at least 38 workers. Rescuers were trying to free eight others missing underground.
Washington Post Reporter Douglas Farah told the House Africa Subcommittee April 2 that two of the world's most violent terrorist networks -- al Qaeda and Hezbollah -- "have an interest in the regional diamond trade [in West Africa] that extends at least back to the mid-1990s."
The illicit trade in what are called "blood diamonds" -- because they are used to purchase arms that fuel conflicts -- came naturally to West Africa, where instability and weak governments have long attracted criminals and terrorists, Farah told Subcommittee Chairman Ed Royce (Republican of California).
"In short, al Qaeda and Hezbollah have maintained an active presence in West Africa for a significant period of time," Farah told the House panel, which was reviewing terrorist activities on the continent.
(Al Qaeda was held responsible for the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998 that killed more than 220 people as well as the September 11, 2001 attacks on targets in the United States that killed close to 3,000 people. Hezbollah has been charged with numerous terrorist attacks on Israel in which civilians and soldiers were killed.)
Farah said his proof of terrorist groups' connection to the West African diamond trade "comes largely from the testimony of al Qaeda members convicted of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa, my own investigations on the ground into al Qaeda's ties in West Africa -- particularly to Charles Taylor in Liberia and the RUF [Revolutionary United Front] in Sierra Leone -- and investigations by the London-based NGO Global Witness." [The U.S. Government and its law enforcement agencies have investigated similar allegations against alQaeda.These investigations have found evidence a Hezbollah link to the West African diamond tradecould exist. However, the U.S. Government has been unable to substantiate an al-Qaeda link to West African blood diamonds.]
The son of missionaries, Farah grew up in Bolivia and has written for the Washington Post and other publications for 19 years. In November 2001 he reported on al Qaeda's ties to the blood diamond trade in West Africa. According to a biography the subcommittee provided, Farah had to flee the region after intelligence agencies uncovered a plot by Charles Taylor, whom he had linked to al Qaeda, to kill him.
On a leave of absence from the Washington Post, Farah is working as a senior fellow at the National Strategy Information Center. He has also just finished a book, "Blood From Stones: The Secret Financial Network of Terror," due to be released in May. Since he began his investigations, Farah told the lawmakers, "new evidence has emerged," such as "public statements by the prosecutor and chief investigator for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the U.N.-backed body investigating crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone's brutal civil war. Both men -- veteran Department of Defense employees -- have verified the presence not only of the three senior al Qaeda members I [earlier] had identified as running the diamond business, but the presence of at least two other senior terrorists."
Farah said the evidence he has collected shows that al Qaeda's diamond trade was directed by Osama bin Laden starting sometime before 1996 and that the activities were watched over by Liberian President Charles Taylor, whose country was "in essence [a] functioning criminal enterprise. For the right price, Taylor let al Qaeda ... Hezbollah and other criminal elements operate under his protection in Liberia." According to the journalist, "The first known contacts with the Taylor regime came in September 1998, just weeks after the bombings of the two U.S. embassies in East Africa. A group of senior al Qaeda leaders involved in those attacks moved to West Africa, where they intermittently bought diamonds for the next two years."
Al Qaeda's lucrative trade soon expanded, he said, "because Taylor controlled the notoriously brutal rebels of the RUF in neighboring Sierra Leone [and] he was able to grant al Qaeda access to some of the world's richest diamond fields. They [then] set up a monopoly arrangement for the purchase of diamonds through Taylor with the RUF." Incredibly, Farah said, "the available evidence points to al Qaeda purchasing some $30 million to $50 million worth of RUF diamonds during the eight months prior to 9/11."
Hezbollah has operated in West Africa since its inception in the early 1980s, longer than al Qaeda, Farah said, in part because of the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese living in the region, "the vast majority being Shiite Muslims." For that reason, he said, Hezbollah "has a natural constituency and family ties that bind the region to the Lebanese conflict." Basically, Hezbollah uses West Africa as a fund-raising site for its terrorist activities, Farah told the lawmakers. It "collects donations from businesses, runs shakedown operations, operates front companies and is also deeply involved in the 'blood diamond' trade."
In the diamond game, the journalist said, Hezbollah does business in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). "These three countries all provided diamonds as a revenue stream to all factions of the Lebanese civil war," he said.
If the United States is serious about helping Africans deal with terrorism, Farah said, "the first step must be to greatly enhance human intelligence on the ground. Societies in which telephones are rare, Internet communications limited to a small percentage of the population in the capital and business deals depend largely on familial relationships, our high-tech monitoring systems are of little use. People must be on the ground, not just in the capital, but in the hinterland, to be able to map the connections and trace financial patterns that can be used by terrorists."
Comment: This is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, with black Africans being the expendible fodder in this despicable and profitable business of war. It seems that the Western powers want all the illicit booty for themselves, so it would be no surprise if a more overtly military force moves in, in the not too distant future, to lock down that region under the cover of the cruelly de riguer "War on Terror". The article below is a salutory reminder of the price the people of West Africa are paying for this appetite for diamonds.
by Jan Goodwin
Last May, 6-year-old Shashir was playing outside her home near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), when armed militia appeared. The terrified child was carried kicking and screaming into the bush. There, she was pinned down and gang-raped. Sexually savaged and bleeding from multiple wounds, she lay there after the attack, how long no one knows, but she was close to starving when finally found. Her attackers, who'd disappeared back into the bush, wiped out her village as effectively as a biblical plague of locusts.
"This little girl couldn't walk, couldn't talk when she arrived here. Shashir had to be surgically repaired. I don't know if she can be mentally repaired," says Faida Veronique, a 47-year-old cook at Doctors on Call for Service (DOCS), a tented hospital in the eastern city of Goma, who took in the brutalized child.
"Why do they rape a child?" asks Marie-Madeleine Kisoni, a Congolese counselor who works with raped women and children. "We don't understand. There's a spirit of bestiality here now. I've seen 2- and 3-year-olds raped. The rebels want to kill us, but it's more painful to kill the spirit instead."
In the Congo today, age is clearly no protection from rape. A woman named Maria was 70 when the Interahamwe, the Hutu militia that led Rwanda's 1994 genocide and now number between 20,000 and 30,000 of the estimated 140,000 rebels in the DRC, came to her home. "They grabbed me, tied my legs apart like a goat before slaughter, and then raped me, one after the other," she told me. "Then they stuck sticks inside me until I fainted." During the attack Maria's entire family-- five sons, three daughters and her husband--were murdered. "War came. I just saw smoke and fire. Then my life and my health were taken away," she says. The tiny septuagenarian with the sunken eyes was left with a massive fistula where her bladder was torn, causing permanent incontinence. She hid in the bush for three years out of fear that the rebels might return, and out of shame over her constantly soiled clothes. Yet Maria was one of the more fortunate ones. She'd finally made it to a hospital. Two months before we met, she had undergone reconstructive surgery. The outcome is uncertain, however, and she still requires a catheter.
Rape has become a defining characteristic of the five-year war in the DRC, says Anneke Van Woudenberg, the Congo specialist for Human Rights Watch. So, too, has mutilation of the victims. "Last year, I was stunned when a 30-year-old woman in North Kivu had her lips and ears cut off and eyes gouged out after she was raped, so she couldn't identify or testify against her attackers. Now, we are seeing more and more such cases," she says. As the rebels constantly seek new ways to terrorize, their barbarity becomes more frenzied.
I, too, was sickened by what I saw and heard. In three decades of covering war, I had never before come across the cases described to me by Congolese doctors, such as gang-rape victims having their labia pierced and then padlocked. "They usually die of massive infection," I was told.[...]
"The rebels are all around us here. We don't feel secure and we've seen what these guys do to people, especially to women and girls. Our own people have been killed, after they were horribly tortured," a European UN major told me. "The DRC is the size of Western Europe. We're supposed to have 8,500 troops here, but we've only got 5,000! I was in Bosnia, which is a fraction of the size of the Congo, and we had 68,000 NATO troops, and even that wasn't enough." Patrols of MONUC, the UN's peacekeeping force in the DRC, have refused to pick up wounded rape victims and escort them to medical care when they were afraid they would be outnumbered by nearby rebels.
"People denounce the rapes but do nothing to bring the rebels to justice," says Woudenberg. "There isn't the political will, domestically or internationally, to make it happen. I've never seen anything like this, when war has become this horrible, and human life so undervalued."
Trevor Lowe, spokesperson for the UN World Food Program, echoes this view. "The nature of sexual violence in the DRC conflict is grotesque, completely abnormal," he says. "Babies, children, women-- nobody is being spared. For every woman speaking out, there are hundreds who've not yet emerged from the hell. Rape is so stigmatized in the DRC, and people are afraid of reprisals from rebels. It's a complete and utter breakdown of norms. Like Rwanda, only worse." Adds his colleague Christiane Berthiaume, "Never before have we found as many victims of rape in conflict situations as we are discovering in the DRC."
Yet where is the international media coverage? The outrage? The demand for justice? [...]
Conduct a straw poll among Americans who are usually well informed and few know of the vicious campaign of sexual violence against women in the DRC. Many are even unaware that the country is six years into a brutal conflict, in which up to 4.7 million people have died--the highest number of fatalities in any conflict since World War II. Or that six countries--Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia--have been fighting proxy wars in the DRC, and helping to plunder the country's tremendous mineral wealth to fill their coffers.
The indifference, according to Woudenberg, extends to the arms of government that should be most deeply concerned with the DRC's crisis. "In November I tried to raise the issue with the US Mission to the UN in New York, and they told me fairly point-blank that they were aware rape was going on in the Congo, and it was just not high on their priorities," she says. "I had a similar response from the US State Department."
Meanwhile, a UN Security Council panel has cited eighty-five multinational corporations, including some of the largest US companies in their fields, for their involvement in the illegal exploitation of natural resources from the DRC. The commerce in these "blood" minerals, such as coltan, used in cell phones and laptops, cobalt, copper, gold, diamonds and uranium (Congolese uranium was used in the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki), drives the conflict. The brutality of the militias--the sexual slavery, transmission of HIV/AIDS through rape, cannibalism, slaughter and starvation, forced recruitment of child soldiers--has routinely been employed to secure access to mining sites or insure a supply of captive labor.
If that isn't enough to awaken the international community's interest, one would think it would be of concern that "blood" business practices also fund terrorism. Lebanese diamond traders benefiting from illegal concessions in the Congo have been tied to the Islamic extremist groups Amal and Hezbollah. According to a UN report, the Lebanese traders, who operate licensed diamond businesses in Antwerp, purchased diamonds from the DRC worth $150 million in 2001 alone. Such linkage between African rebel groups and global terrorist movements is not new. Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front reportedly sold diamonds to Al Qaeda, thus helping to finance both organizations.
The lobbies of the two luxury hotels in Kinshasa, the DRC's capital, are full of elegant, $5,000-a-day corporate lawyers from New York, London and Geneva, and scruffier diamond dealers from Tel Aviv and Antwerp, as they while away the hours waiting for government ministers and senior representatives of armed groups to smooth their way. These institutional fortune-makers are 1,800 miles away from the nightmares of northeastern Congo. Yet they are not so far removed from the atrocities perpetrated there. Rape is a crime of the war they are fueling with their greed.
Comment: We challenge readers to read the above and not be horrified by the reality of our world and those that control it. Some readers admonish us for being "too negative". To those readers we suggest that if the above account is not enough, then perhaps a week in the DRC might serve as a reality check.
Lounging in his easy chair as coffee roasts over a charcoal heater and knots of underwear soak in a bucket, Yemane Abreah watches his wife pour him a glass of homemade alcoholic juice, serve him some spongy injera bread and ready their son for school.
Mileta Abreah, 45, with curlers in her puff of mocha-coloured hair, is a housewife now. But she used to be a spy for the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, infiltrating Ethiopian lines during the 30-year war for Eritrean independence.
[...]He has attended workshops focusing on the role of Eritrean women run by former fighters, including his sister, Terhas Iyassu, 40, a respected commander and artist during the liberation struggle. After the workshops, he said, he "noticed many things". Fighters like his sister who had suffered, sometimes even more than men, giving birth to children in the fields during the war, were now being forced into circumcision and into marriages they didn't want. [...]
When women first went off to fight Ethiopia, there was a double aim: freedom for Eritrea and liberation for African women, said Fawzia Hashim, an former fighter who as a government minister is one of the most powerful women in the country. For years during the war, men had to be convinced that women could fight.
"Women proved their worth, running up and down mountains, fighting in trenches for months. The male egos broke," she said. "We were the backbone of the liberation movement. The rights we earned weren't a gift.[...]
Mebrate Getanche still carries the memories, and scars, of the mutilation she suffered as a girl when a group of village women held her down and cut off her genitals. Today, the wretchedly poor 22-year-old mother knows that whatever other perils her own child will encounter in this harsh land, the age-old rite of female circumcision will not be one of them.
"My child will be spared this. She will not have the scar that makes childbirth difficult," Getanche says as she stares at the bare, dirt floor of her crumbling mud hut in Ethiopia's Cacha village. Nearby, her two-year-old daughter peeps shyly from behind the tattered curtain that separates the family room from the sleeping area.
She will escape her mother's ordeal, before she turned six, of having her clitoris removed with an old razor blade, or perhaps a piece of glass, without painkillers. Getanche lives in a village of about a thousand people, 400km north of the capital Addis Ababa. Recently Cacha's elders took a decision to ban the circumcision of girls, ending a tradition the people of the village had obeyed for generations. If they hadn't, Getanche would never have been able to protect her child from the age-old ritual.
TIRRELL-WYSOCKI, Associated Press Writer
CONCORD, N.H. - Australia, one of the United States' strongest allies, has added a new weapon to its arsenal — a toaster-sized document reader that tells in seconds whether a passport is a fraud and identifies travelers who might be included on terrorist watch lists.
"What we're trying to do is strengthen border security by making sure that the people who are coming into this country are who they say they are," said Tim Chapman, a manager with Australia's Customs Service.
In a multimillion-dollar contract, Australia has installed 400 iA-thenticate units from Imaging Automation Inc. of Bedford, N.H., at its international airports in hopes of authenticating the documents of every person entering.
The system ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 per unit. It uses multiple light sources to examine hundreds of security features on travel documents. Many of the features, including the composition of ink, are invisible to the naked eye. [...]
plane arrives in Antarctica to evacuate ailing researchers
A US Air Force plane landed in Antarctica to pick up several people from the main US research station who need medical attention.
The US National Science Foundation, which operates research at the main base at McMurdo Sound and at the South Pole, would not disclose the nature of the illnesses or the number of people being bought back to New Zealand. [...]
calls lead to restaurant strip searches
The caller to the Phoenix-area Taco Bell said he was a police officer and informed the manager there was a thief on the premises. Someone's pocketbook was missing, the caller said, ordering that a female customer be detained and strip searched in a back office.
But there was no theft. Investigators believe the caller was an impersonator, possibly from north Florida, who has pulled the same stunt dozens of times nationwide since 1999 with alarming success.
The caller, who sometimes poses as a company official, has persuaded managers at restaurants and other stores to detain and search employees for drugs or money. Targets were Taco Bell, McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Ruby Tuesday, Applebee's, Perkins and others.
The caller's motive is unknown. Because his targets are primarily restaurants, one theory is that he is a disgruntled former fast-food worker. Some investigators believe he may be a sexual deviant who enjoys exercising power over people.
The searches involved both male and female victims. Some businesses have been sued, and some managers have faced criminal charges.
Americans are having to confront the spectre that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which ravaged the British beef industry and crossed over into the human population with devastating consequences, may have invaded their own shores undetected - or under the veil of a government cover-up.
Part One: Illuminating the Occult Origin of Darwinism
by Phillip Collins
As antiquity gave way to modern history, the religious power structure shifted to an autocracy of the knowable, or a 'scientific dictatorship.' Subtly and swiftly, the ruling class seized control of science and used it as an 'epistemological weapon' against the masses. This article will show that the history and background of this 'scientific dictatorship' is a conspiracy, created and micro-managed by the historical tide of Darwinism, which has its foundations in Freemasonry. [...]
In Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley more succinctly defined this epistemological cartel:
This is the ultimate objective of the elite: an oligarchy legitimized by arbitrarily anointed expositors of 'knowledge' or, in Huxley's own words, a 'scientific dictatorship.' [...]
Warren in New York
A man accused of murdering nine of his children told them that he was God and ordered the older ones to kill the younger ones and then commit suicide, a Californian court was told.
Marcus Wesson, 57, is said to have sexually molested his daughters and inflicted "week-long spankings" on them if they broke rules such as not talking to men from outside the family.
Fresno police described finding the children's bodies in a pile in a bedroom when they searched Wesson's house. Eight of them, aged from one to 25, had been shot in the right eye. The ninth had been shot in the left eye.
The eldest child was the mother of another of the dead children. Wesson was the father of both. The nine children had six mothers, of whom two were Wesson's daughters and one his niece.
Comment: Sounds like Bush telling us that God told him to strike Iraq...
A severed head was found on a park bench in northern Honduras on Thursday, the 10th such incident since the government began cracking down on youth gangs last year, police said.
While he was "heartsore" about shooting a motorist who crashed into his car over a year ago, former Mitchell's Plain magistrate Sithembele Tebe said the Cape High Court should consider his car repair costs before sentencing him. "You have to understand, I also suffered financial damage because he hit my car," Tebe told Justice Anton Veldhuizen this week.
Sat Apr 10,
6:40 AM ET
Mikesch, weighing nearly 41 lbs, was brought to the animal shelter on April 1 and was so overweight he could not take more than four steps without becoming exhausted. His elderly owner was at the same time taken to a nursing home. [...]
Thu Apr 8,12:28 AM ET
KUALA LUMPUR, (AFP) - Malaysian ghostbusters were called in to exorcise spirits at a national service training camp after two groups of youths claiming to have seen ghosts became hysterical, according to a news report.
When a swarm of hundreds of earthquakes shook the ground near South Sister on March 23, some Central Oregon residents looked back 24 years to May 18, 1980, when Mount St. Helens erupted.
Were the Central Oregon quakes a foreshadow of volcanic activity like that on St. Helens? Didn't scientists record swarms of earthquakes at Mount St. Helens prior to the eruption?
The answers to those questions are, "possibly" and "yes," according to Willie Scott, scientist in charge of the Cascades Volcanic Observatory in Vancouver, Wash. Indeed, similarities exist between the Washington volcano and South Sister, he said.
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