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The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside.
Allan Bloom The Closing of the American Mind

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." - Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural


It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. --Voltaire--

Faith of consciousness is freedom
Faith of feeling is weakness
Faith of body is stupidity.
Love of consciousness evokes the same in response
Love of feeling evokes the opposite
Love of the body depends only on type and polarity.
Hope of consciousness is strength
Hope of feeling is slavery
Hope of body is disease. [Gurdjieff]

Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the "past." People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the "Future." [Cassiopaea, 09-28-02]


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March 5, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, 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!

Thinking Caps We used to have a teacher who always told us, "put on your thinking caps" and ponder this or that math problem, history question, etc. We ask you to put on your thinking caps now, when pondering a quote about which foreign state might have aided the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists.

When we saw the quote by Sen. Bob Graham [Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] that has been unearthed, we came close to vomiting. Really. Because if you put on your thinking caps and ponder what Graham said, you will come to a horrifying conclusion. Let's take a look at that Graham quote, from a news interview:

GWEN IFILL: "Do you think that will ever become public, which countries [involved in the 9/11 attack] you're talking about?"

SEN. BOB GRAHAM: "It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now..."

"Twenty or 30 years from now???" This is were you have to think: he is NOT talking about an Arab country. He can't be! If he was talking about an Arab country, why would the American people need to wait "20 or 30 years" to find out about that country's involvement, in some dusty archive?? In fact, America would use such info about an Arab country to JUSTIFY going to war. It seems clear that he is talking about what we Nationalists have also been talking about : that Israel aided, in some way, the Sept. 11 attacks as a means of getting America to fight the enemies of Israel -- i.e. the Arab world.

If you think that this idea is "far out," simply recall how Israel attacked a U.S. ship [Liberty] in 1967. Or how they have a long history of spying on America. Or, recall the Lavon fiasco, in which Jews blew up American installations in Egypt in the 1950s and tried to make the sabotage look as if Arabs did it. Do a web search if you doubt this.

Also note that this Senator is on an intelligence committee, so would be in a position to know. Further, this also explains why there has not been a Congressional investigation into 9/11, as usually happens quickly when a major disaster strikes [there have only been inquiries into "failures in security within the U.S. government" regarding 9/11].

Folks, we do not wish to sound wacko or paranoid, but this Senator's statements are MORE THAN CURIOUS. We state that, given this unearthed quote, it is entirely possible that Israel, in some way, aided the Sept. 11 attacks. In what way? Who knows? But this new feature should be VIGOROUSLY investigated. Now. Right now. Comment: Some people seem to be putting two and two together, and it really is that easy once you start digging a little and are able to put aside some "sacred cows" for a moment. Obviously the biggest obstacle to truth in general is the media. The masses have come to rely 100% on CNN, the major papers etc. for their daily dose of "what is". There is copious evidence to condemn the mainstream US media as being simply a mouthpiece of the US government and as such should not be given much credence. The ex-director of the CIA William Colby came right out and stated that they "owned" every network anchor of any significance. In the most recent US campaign in Afghanistan Gen. Tommy R. Franks stated publicly that the US military and administration would deliberately lie and were justified in doing so, saying that since the "enemy" would use propaganda then so must the US and that yes, this would include out and out LIES. Well let me tell you folks, the US, with its military media and various secret agencies, has been "at war" pretty much continuously for the last 100 or so years, and throughtout that time the US people and the world at large have been CONTINUOUSLY LIED TO, there is nothing strange about that, what is strange is that some many people still do not believe that this is the case. So many people are not aware that they should not have believed their elected representative, military leader or president. So many people should have read the small print and realised that there has scarcely been one US president or government offical that has publicly uttered a word of truth in the past 100 years. The amazing this is that they make it so easy for us to see that they are lieing, through blatant contradictions, inconsistencies and outlandish claims (see Powell at the UN for a recent example), yet it seems none of us WANT to see the truth. It is in this context that you should consider the events of 9/11 and the "war on terror" and look at just who benefits. The US has for many many years had as its primary goal the assurance of its position as world wide economic (and therefore military) kingpin. Many democratically elected governments have been overthrown and a estimated 6 million people have been killed as a result of the US' megalomaniacal push for power. The Sept 11 attack constitued the laying down of an important piece of the puzzle insofar as it added an importatnt new dimension, i.e. that their "war" has become fully a global war, having been expanded now to include the US people on home soil. The benefits of taking his action are readily seen by those in control, the "master stroke" of levelling the twin towers in such a dramatic way and seen by so many people worldwide has garnered the required public support and emotion to bring their secret war out into the open under the illusion now of a "war on terror". At the present this war is being centered on the middle east and it seems too that Israel is certainly set tp benefit from the projected overthrow of Saddam and the rest of its self-created enemies in the middle east. However, looking just a little deeper and with the aid of some insights from the Cassiopeans we suspect that there are indeed other agendas being played out simultaneously, perhaps the most significant of which may lead to the destruction of ALL semitic peoples now living in Israel and its enviorns.

Bush Sr. Said In 1996 That War With Iraq `Would Turn Entire Arab World Against Us’ Former President George Bush predicted in 1996 that if the United States were to engage in another war with Iraq, one aimed at overthrowing Saddam Hussein, the “entire Arab world would turn against us” and the U.S. would alienate its allies in the international community. “To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us, and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day Arab hero," Bush said in an interview with the BBC marking the five-year anniversary of the Gulf War.

Moreover, Vice President Dick Cheney said at an energy conference six years ago that hundreds of thousands of United States soldiers and Iraqi civilians would die if a war in Iraq were ever fought on the streets of Baghdad. “To have brought the (Gulf) war into the populous Iraqi capital of Baghdad where Hussein is based would have involved a different type of military operation than in the desert, and would have put large numbers of Iraqi civilians and hundreds of thousands of our troops at risk of being killed,” he said.

Cheney, the former chairman and chief executive of oil conglomerate Halliburton Co. and former defense secretary under the first President Bush, was referring to the 1991 Gulf War when the U.S. liberated Kuwait. Cheney also said in 1997 that if the U.S. were to engage in another war with Iraq and try to remove Saddam Hussein from power the international coalition “would come apart,” a situation currently in the making as U.S. relations with France, Germany and Russia are becoming increasingly strained because our allies will not back a U.S. led coalition to attack Iraq.

Despite the dire warnings Bush Sr. and Cheney made six years ago, the current Bush Administration appears to be on course to launch a full-scale war with Iraq, one that appears to be more about finding Saddam Hussein and assassinating the Iraqi President than destroying any weapons of mass destruction that may or may no be hidden somewhere in the country. Comment: this shouldnt surprise us, this is what "they" want, a global war with everyone at each other's throats, the maximum pain suffering and death as possible.

U.S. Plans Heavy Bombing Campaign in Iraq U.S. forces would hit Iraq with 10 times as many bombs in the opening days of an air campaign as in the 1991 Gulf War in an assault meant to "shock and awe" Iraqi defenders, officials said Wednesday. Many more of the bombs would be guided by lasers or satellite signals, too, adding to accuracy, one official said. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, meanwhile, and the commander who would lead the war, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, met with President Bush to discuss war plans for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Both said after the White House meeting that Bush had not yet decided whether to order an invasion. But Franks said the U.S. forces now arrayed against Iraq, said to number at least 230,000 with many more on the way, are prepared for the go-ahead. "Our troops in the field are trained, they're ready, they are capable," Franks said at a Pentagon news conference.

If war comes, U.S.-led airstrikes with thousands of bombs and missiles would be combined with quick ground assaults - a combination aimed at overwhelming Saddam's defenses, preventing him from retaliating with chemical or biological weapons and crushing Iraqi morale. Pentagon officials who discussed the matter Wednesday said part of that plan is to launch an initial wave of airstrikes using 10 times the number of precision-guided weapons fired in the opening days of the 1991 war. Targets would include Saddam's military and political headquarters in Baghdad and elsewhere, air defenses, communications facilities and systems that could be used to launch chemical or biological attacks. Comment: Well gee whiz! Isnt that great! Iraq has a population of about 4 million with half under the age of 15. War in Iraq = countless thousands of dead children to satisfy the power lusts of Bush and Co.

The Flimflam Still think you are not being flimflammed by the Bush administration? Take heed of this: Newsweek has reported that Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect and Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, told the United Nations, the CIA and Britain's MI-6 in 1995 that Iraq destroyed all of its chemical and biological stocks, as well as the missiles to deliver them, in 1991.

Yet the U.N. arms inspectors, the CIA and MI-6 chose to keep that secret. If it's true — and there's no reason to believe it isn't — then it's pretty hard evidence that the Bush administration is lying through its teeth when it keeps insisting that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. It also bolsters the credibility of former chief arms inspector Scott Ritter, who has likewise insisted that Iraq's weapons were destroyed. For that matter, it bolsters the credibility of the Iraqi government, which insists it no longer has any weapons of mass destruction.

You might recall that Kamel defected to Jordan and about six months later made the mistake of returning to Iraq, where he was killed. This coming war with Iraq gets murkier and murkier. Let's see if we can sort it out.

First, we have a chief executive so naive about the world outside of Texas, he probably couldn't find a lot of countries on a map. Second, he has surrounded himself with American Likudniks — supporters of Israel's right-wing government. Even The Washington Post reported recently what I've been saying for months: that Bush's policy is identical to that of Ariel Sharon's, the Israeli prime minister. I've said that Bush has been acting like Sharon's puppet; The Washington Post story quoted a U.S. official as saying Sharon has "played Bush like a violin."

The Israelis have long feared Iraq, Iran and North Korea (because they fear it will sell missiles to Iran). What a coincidence that those three countries are Bush's "axis of evil."

Before Bush's election, Dick Cheney (now vice president), John Bolton (now undersecretary of state for arms control), Douglas Feith (now third-highest-ranking official in the Defense Department), Richard Perle (now chairman of the Defense Policy Board) and James Woolsey (former CIA director) all had one thing in common: They served as advisers to the pro-Israeli Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. This is according to an article that appeared in the magazine The Nation. Bush recently appointed as director of Middle Eastern affairs for the National Security Council Elliott Abrams, a protégé of Perle and a man convicted of lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra affair.

In 1996, according to an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Perle, Feith and David Wurmser, now an assistant to Bolton, wrote a policy proposal for Benjamin Netanyahu, then Israel's prime minister. Included in their advice were tips on how to manipulate the American government (OK, even the Haaretz reporter says the report comes "dangerously close" to dual loyalty) and advice to drop the peace plan, drop the idea of land for peace and concentrate on toppling Saddam Hussein and eventually replacing other Middle Eastern governments in order to create a safe environment for Israel.

There's your explanation for the war. When sons and daughters come home in body bags or maimed, those are the people you can blame. Others in this group — who formed an outfit called the Project for the New American Century in 1997 that also called for toppling Saddam — include, in addition to most of those named above, Donald Rumsfeld; William Kristol, editor of the neoconservative Weekly Standard; Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's No. 2 guy; William Bennett, the best the neocons can do for an intellectual; Richard Armitage, now Colin Powell's deputy; Zalmay Khalilzad, now ambassador to Afghanistan; and others.

If you watch the silly cable-news shows, you will recognize many of these names as part of the parade of "experts" in favor of war with Iraq. The American people are being played for suckers. Their sons and daughters will be cannon fodder in a war that might benefit a foreign country but will greatly damage the interests of our own.

The secret philosophy of war on Iraq The USA has no intention of leaving. After the Iraqi occupation, permanent military bases will be established there. They will be the outposts of the "democratisation" of the Middle East, starting with Syria and Iran and then sweeping the entire Arab and Islamic world. The official reasons why the USA should go to war in Iraq have always featured a certain omission. The uncoordinated accusations by no means explain the severity of the sentence. Let's say that Baghdad destroys five Al-Samud-2 rockets on average a day. From the point of view of the UN inspectors working in the country, this zeal is gratifying, but Washington calls it the "latest trap." Why?

Iraq's links with al-Qaeda remain unproven. Nevertheless, the USA continues to claim that the Iraqi regime, which cannot lift a finger without the UN inspectors or US spy planes knowing about it, presents a lethal terrorist threat, justifying war, the loss of tens of thousands of lives, environmental disaster, a wave of terrorism and chaos in the Arab world. Who in their right mind would believe this? And who would also believe that sensible people in the US administration believe it? The justification for the war against Iraq clearly lacks some kind of a secret, main argument. Serious analysts see this argument in the form of Iraqi oil, defending Israeli interests, the opportunity to test new weapons on the battlefield or America's desire to rejuvenate its flagging economy through military orders.

These are not empty words. However, to concentrate on just these details would be myopic. We would not see the most important aspect, because the main point is so massive that is well beyond the bounds of traditional thinking as practised by the international community. The heart of the matter is the following. If the war against Iraq is launched, then this will mean that the United States will turn into the centre of a global empire, where Washington will decide the fates of governments, divide up the riches of foreign economies and impose democracy in its own, American sense of the word. This is by no means improvisation, as some observers might think. The war will be the embodiment of a concept of US world domination worked out over ten years by the very same ambitious and energetic people who now occupy key posts in George Bush's administration.

It is necessary to backtrack to 1997 to understand everything properly. A group of neo-conservatives then founded the New American century project dedicated to philosophical thinking about the USA's future role in global politics. In September 2000, when George Bush was running for presidency, the New American Century prepared a report called Rebuilding America's Defenses. The document's main idea, to quote the authors, was to "exercise American leadership around the globe." In post Soviet Union era, the sole superpower of the United States sought to take on the role of a new empire stretching from the Khan Horde to Rome. Pax Americana would really mean Power Americana, or a world subjugated to American might.

The Rebuilding America's Defenses report became a kind of geopolitical Bible for George Bush. His administration has done much of what it proposed. For example, the brains behind the report suggested tearing up the 1972 ABM Treaty and throwing it into the rubbish bin, while taking up plans to deploy an anti-missile shield in space. This has been done. The report recommended that military spending be increased from 3% of GDP to 3.8% to facilitate the creation of an infrastructure for the American order. In 2003, the Bush administration has demanded that Congress confirm an allotment of 379 billion dollars to the military's budget. This is the same 3.8% of GDP right down to the dollar. The administration's punctuality in following the recommendations of the New American century is not surprising if we recall the top posts the project's ideologues are now occupying.

Paul Wolfowitz is now Deputy Defense Secretary. John Bolton is Undersecretary of State. Stephen A. Cambone is the Director of Program Analysis and Evaluation, while Eliot Cohen and Devon Cross sit on the Council of Defense Policy under Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Lewis Libby heads Vice-President Dick Cheney's administration. Accordingly, the entire host of the presidential entourage has come from the same corridor of the extremely conservative highly interventionist (in its philosophy) New American Century that envisages the advent of an epoch of America's unanswerable will in international affairs. If we understand this, then the enigma will cease to exist. For example, why is the American administration so thoroughly discussing its plans for a military attack against Iraq, but, apparently, is completely ignoring the no less crucial problem of its withdrawal from the country?

The answer lies in the fact that the USA has no intention of leaving. After the Iraqi occupation, permanent military bases will be established there. They will be the outposts of the "democratisation" of the Middle East, starting with Syria and Iran and then sweeping the entire Arab and Islamic world. "Democratisation" is an extremely important element in the neo-conservative thinking of the ideologues behind the New American Century. If this aspect did not exist, then everyone in Washington from George Bush himself to Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith would not be speaking with such passion. The latter recently told the New Yorker magazine that the "democratisation" of the Arab and Islamic worlds would lead to the threat of terrorism lessening. Feith and his like-minded colleagues are tragically mistaken. The Arab and Islamic world would rebuff any forced introduction of the US model that can hardly co-exist with centuries of tradition. Islamic radicals would come to power and a wave of international terrorism would sweep the globe. The countries bordering on Iraq would constantly be on a war or semi-war footing.

The new American century, if it really does begin, does not promise anything good. And that goes for the United States too.

15 dead in suicide attack on bus A suicide bomber blew himself up on a crowded bus in the northern Israeli city of Haifa today, killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens, officials said. Police said the suicide bomber detonated explosives that were strapped to his body. The bus driver, Marwan Damouni, told Israeli army radio that the bus exploded as he stopped at a station and opened the doors to let passengers off. "I suddenly heard an explosion," said Mr Damouni, who was being treated at Carmel hospital. "I tried to move, to see if there were wounded ... I couldn't hear anything because of the force of the blast." At least 10 people died at the scene and the others died at the hospital, police and rescue officials said. Dozens were seriously injured.

The explosion, the first terrorist attack in Israel since January, ripped the roof off the No 37 bus, strewing wreckage and body parts across the street. It happened at about 2.17pm local time (12.17 GMT), shattering the afternoon calm in a prosperous neighbourhood on Mount Carmel. Moriah Street, where the blast occurred, is the main thoroughfare connecting a hotel promenade that overlooks the large bay and port with the university district just south of the city. Officials said that, at that time, the bus would have been packed with students from the nearby University of Haifa.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which comes as Israel's new hardline government continues its clampdown on Hamas militants in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority considers far-reaching political reforms. Police said the bomb was "medium-sized", laden with metal shrapnel and strapped to the bomber's body. Israeli media earlier reported that the blast was caused by up to 60kg of explosives - an exceptionally powerful bomb compared to those used in past attacks. The explosion's force caused damage and debris to cars as far as 30 metres away.

The US president, George Bush, condemned the attack, saying that terrorists will not prevail in the region. "Once again, the bestial hand of Palestinian terrorism has struck at the heart of Israel," said Mark Sofer, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman. He said that in the past two months, Israeli forces have thwarted almost 100 attempted terrorist attacks. Read more Comment: So here's one thing that both Bush and Sharon have in common, they can both rely on terrorist attacks just when they need them, and this one seems to have served both by highlighting in general the "terrorist threat", and we notice that Bush seizes on the idea by saying above "terrorists will not prevail in the region". As always, no one is interested in the idea that this could be more lies, given that Hamas was established by the Israelis.

Israeli raid kills old man on donkey A 75-year-old man is the latest in a growing number of Palestinian civilians to fall victim to Israel's crackdown in the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank. Relatives said the man was shot while riding a donkey near a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip. His death came a day after an Israeli tank and helicopter raid on a Gaza refugee camp which killed eight people, including a pregnant woman and two youths. Nuha Maqadma, 38, a mother of 10, was crushed when her house collapsed as Israeli troops blew up a nearby building belonging to a political leader of the Hamas resistance movement.

The Israeli Defence Force said it had no information about either death, but that all killings by its troops were fully investigated. The Government said its raids were "surgically" designed to root out terrorists and their infrastructure. Responsibility for innocent deaths therefore lay with the Palestinian Authority for allowing and encouraging attacks on Israeli targets, the Government said. However, the apparent upsurge in civilian casualties is attracting criticism within Israel itself. Hungry in Gaza In Palestine, the failure of the peace process, and Israel's destruction of the economy have had the effect of a terrible natural disaster The world has grown used to the idea that severe hunger manifests itself only in the hollow cheeks and distended stomachs of an African famine. But today in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank an insidious hunger has the Palestinian people in its grip. Hidden in the anaemic blood of children or lost in the statistics of stunted growth, a dreadful, silent malnutrition is stalking the Palestinians.

The populations of Gaza and the West Bank have lived for over two years with checkpoints, closures and curfews that have ravaged their economy. Over half are now unemployed and more than two-thirds are living below the poverty line. The effect of this economic collapse was felt first in the erosion of family savings, followed by increased indebtedness and then the forced sale of household possessions. The Palestinian extended family and community networks have saved the territories from the absolute collapse that might have been found elsewhere in the face of such rapid decline.

Every dollar is shared in the occupied territory. Anyone with an income or a cousin working abroad supports as many as seven other adults. Nevertheless, after 30 months of the intifada, poverty is increasingly being felt in the stomach. In the experts' terminology, the Palestinians are suffering in the main from micro- nutrient deficiencies - what the World Health Organisation calls the "hidden hunger". It may be less dramatic than the protein-energy malnutrition that stalks African emergencies but, on the scale that it is found among the Palestinians, it is just as serious. Micronutrient deficient children fail to grow and develop normally; their cognition is damaged, often severely and irreversibly; and their immune systems are compromised. In both adults and children, mental and physical capacities are impaired. In extreme cases blindness and death result.

The mental and physical development of a generation of Palestinian children hangs in the balance. A study funded by the United States Agency for International Development has found that four out of five children in Gaza and the West Bank have inadequate iron and zinc intake, deficiencies that cause anaemia and weaken the immune system. Over half the children in each territory have inadequate caloric and vitamin A intake.

The stark fact is that almost a quarter of Palestinian children are suffering from acute or chronic malnutrition for purely man-made reasons. No drought has hit Gaza and the West Bank, no crops have failed and the shops are often full of food. But the failure of the peace process and the destruction of the economy by Israel's closure policy have had the effect of a terrible natural disaster. Nursing and pregnant mothers too are suffering. On average they consume 15-20% fewer calories per day than they did before the outbreak of strife in 2000. The consequent anaemia, low folic acid intake and lack of proteins, threaten both their health and the normal development of their children.

The UN's relief agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, is the largest aid organisation in the territories. Before the start of the intifada it was providing food aid to around 11,000 families in the West Bank and Gaza - families that had lost their breadwinner or who were otherwise especially at risk. For the last two years, as part of its emergency programme, the UNRWA food programme has grown to 220,000 families, or almost half the Palestinian population of the territories.

UNRWA has been forced to expand its food aid pro gramme because only 12,000 of the 150,000 Palestinians who once depended on jobs in Israel for their livelihood now receive permits to leave the occupied territories. And even inside the territories themselves, movement is barely possible. The Palestinian cities are encircled by Israeli troops and cut off from each other. This, and the frequent military incursions into the cities, prevents people travelling for work and stops factories and farmers reaching their markets. The narrow Gaza Strip is regularly choked off by checkpoints on the only open north-south road. House demolitions and farmland clearances near settlements have combined with the closures policy to bring near total economic collapse.

The decline in the Palestinian economy has been so rapid that only the efforts of the United Nations, the Red Cross and other aid agencies have prevented the economic collapse becoming a total social collapse. UNRWA alone feeds 1.3 million people and all but a few Palestinians now depend to some extent on foreign aid to survive.

To fund this huge food security effort, and its other emergency activities, UNRWA has turned to the international community with a number of emergency appeals. The latest appeal, to cover emergency operations for the first half of 2003, was launched in December and contains a request for $32m to provide food for Gaza and the West Bank. It is worrying that after two months only $1.5m has so far been received by the Agency. Competing demands in Afghanistan and Africa, combined with concerns about the likely humanitarian impact of a war in Iraq, seem to be holding donors back from making pledges to our emergency fund.

There are as yet no skeletal faces in Gaza for the television cameras to record, no bloated bellies to shock the world to action, but it would be a sad indictment of the world's priorities if funding for this feeding programme were not forthcoming because of the invisible nature of the crisis.

Europe will “reap a whirlwind” if it does not back the US Tony Blair's efforts to win a United Nations resolution authorising war with Iraq suffered a new blow last night as Russia suggested that it might exercise its veto.
As Jack Straw and Peter Mandelson gave warning of the dangers of forcing America down a unilateralist path, Igor Ivanov, the Russian Foreign Minister, appeared to dash expectations that Moscow would abstain rather than use the veto. Mr Straw, the Foreign Secretary, declared that Europe could “reap a whirlwind” if it pushed America into acting alone.

But even as Mr Ivanov spoke, it emerged that Britain and America are looking at ways of amending their “war resolution” to help to win over wavering countries. They are examining drafts that might help enough of the United Nations Security Council’s six undecided countries to back it.

They need five of the six — Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Guinea, Cameroon and Angola — to back a resolution. One option is to introduce a mechanism alongside the resolution giving President Saddam Hussein a deadline to produce chemical and biological weapons, or concrete evidence of their destruction. However, Washington is particularly wary of such a “benchmark” device, which is being proposed by Canada, fearing that Saddam would seek further to divide the Security Council by beginning to meet part of its requirements but failing to fulfil its demands. With France apparently hardening its stance against war, Britain and the United States are desperate to avoid a situation in which more than one of the five permanent members of the Security Council exercise their veto.

But Mr Ivanov, before meeting Mr Straw, told the BBC World Service: “Abstaining is not a position Russia can take. We have to have a clear position and we are for a political solution . . . Russia will not support any decision that would directly or indirectly open the way to war with Iraq.” Pressed on whether Russia would use its veto to block a new resolution, he said: “I do not rule anything out because the right of veto can be used by any permanent member of the Security Council, including Russia. If necessary, Russia can resort to using this right.”

Mr Blair and President Bush are expected to make direct appeals to President Putin to back war, or at least not to oppose it. In a further sign of the importance of Russia’s position, Mr Ivanov stayed on in London last night to meet Mr Blair today. The Prime Minister was in Belfast yesterday for talks on the Northern Ireland peace process. At Westminster Mr Straw told France and Germany they would “reap a whirlwind” if they pushed America into acting alone against Iraq by demanding more time for weapons inspections.

He told MPs that the greatest risk was not of a split within Nato but of a new climate in which the dominant superpower no longer worked with the international community. “To our European colleagues, I say take care,” he said. “Just as America helps to define and influence our politics, what we do in Europe helps to define and influence American politics. We will reap a whirlwind if we push the Americans in a unilateralist position in which they are at the centre of a unipolar world.” Full article here Comment: Erm... you're a bit late Jack, in case you havent noticed the only reason you find yourself in a position where you HAVE to say this is that the US is already at the centre of a "unipolar world", and like the schoolyard wimp you attempt to grovel and curry favour with the bully.

Chirac 'believes veto would not stop US' France has concluded that there would be no point in using its UN security council veto to scupper a new resolution paving the way for war against Iraq, a usually well-informed newspaper will allege today. The satirical and investigative weekly Le Canard enchainé, whose scoops are generally reliable, quotes the French president, Jacques Chirac, as telling "a small private gathering" on February 26 that a French veto would not stop his US counterpart, George Bush, from launching military action. "France is doing everything it can, but the problem is that it is impossible to stop Bush from pursuing his logic of war to the end," the paper quotes Mr Chirac as saying, according to an advance copy. It did not reveal its sources for the information.

The paper also quotes the foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, as privately telling a group of conservative MPs a day earlier that "using the right of veto would be shooting the Americans in the back" - a phrase used until now only by a small number of pro-American rebels in Mr Chirac's centre-right UMP party. Mr Chirac has led international opposition to an early US-led strike against Baghdad, insisting that the UN weapons inspectors must be given more time to complete their work. But many observers believe he realises he has painted himself into a corner and would welcome a way out - such as a strongly critical report on Iraqi cooperation from the inspectors.

The French president has repeatedly said Paris will oppose a second resolution that would in effect give the green light to war, but neither he nor any other French official has said whether France would consider using its veto - a step the US ambassador to Paris said last week would be con sidered "very unfriendly" by Washington. At present Paris is counting on not having to make the veto decision since it believes Washington lacks a majority in the security council. One diplomatic source said yesterday that France currently had 10 or even 11 members of the 15-nation council on its side. A small but increasingly vocal group of MPs from Mr Chirac's UMP party has begun urging him against using the veto, arguing that it could do serious and lasting damage to France's relations with the US and badly undermine the security council if Mr Bush - as appears likely - ignored it. Comment: We should remind ourselves that this is not a case of good guys against the bad guys, the French, like Russians are merely serving their own interests, which are comprised mainly of economic considerations. Thoughts for innocents that will loose their lives are unlikely to come into the equation, given that the blood of Algerian, Ivory Coast and Chechnyan civilans is still fresh on the hands of Chirac and Putin respectively.

Eight anti-war activists arrested in Townsontown Mall Demonstration On Saturday, March 1, at 4:30 p.m., eight anti-war activists were arrested in the Townson Town Center in Towson, Maryland. They were among 18 activists representing the Iraq Pledge of Resistance, Baltimore. The eighteen arrived at the very crowded mall at 3:30 p.m. and began handing out leaflets peacefully. Most of the activists had taped pictures of Iraqi children to their clothing. The leaflets argued that the Bush administration should not attack Iraq. Fifteen minutes into the leafleting the mall security and local police arrived.

The police told the activists not to continue leafleting or risk arrest. The activists continued to leaflet. This continued for about 45 minutes. Finally the police told the activists that they could either leave the mall or be arrested. The eight stayed. At about 4:30 p.m. they were subsequently handcuffed and led away. As they were led away some patrons were heard joining the applause begun by the ten activists who were not arrested.

The eight arrested are Max Obuszewski, Maria Allwine, Levanah Ruthschild, John Dornheim, Marcel Estevez, Donald (Donny) Gann, Mark Giffen and Ann Forno. They were each released on recognizance between 5:45 and 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 2. They have each been charged with trespassing, failure to obey a police order and disorderly conduct. They are going to trial on June 10th, 2003.

This was the second nonviolent civil disobedience put on by the Iraq Pledge of Resistance at the Towsontown mall. On December 23, 2002, a group of about 10 people handed out leaflets until the police forced them to vacate. No one was arrested. The Iraq Pledge of Resistance is a national organization promoting a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis. Members engage in nonviolent civil disobedience and promote the UN Charter and international law generally. Comment: democracy died a long time ago in the US, the only this the above shows is that the government no longer cares about whether anyone knows or not.

Rumsfeld claims more support than in 1991 - We will win council vote, a confident Bush claims - Blair Says Second Iraq Resolution Will Pass Comment: What is it with these bozos? What planet are they on? I hesitate to ask if they know something that the rest of the world dosent, since that could well be the case, however as has been mentioned here before, it seems to be an established strategy to brazenly ignore or contradict known facts, as if by simply stating the opposite to what is, they can make it so. Indeed, given the nature and reach of the mass media perhaps this is exactly what happens, by repeating ad nauseum that "Saddam must disarm" we are all progammed with the idea that Saddam really does possess WMD, even though at the very same time we are being told by the inspectors that there are none. Having said that, perhaps this confusing behaviour is simply a testimony to how far these "world leaders" are removed from the reality of us "down here", they are working from a gameplan of which none of us are aware.

Articles of Impeachment of President George W. Bush Vice President Richard B. Cheney Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Attorney General John David Ashcroft. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors. --Article II, Section 4 of The Constitution of the United States of America Acts which require the impeachment of President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; and Attorney General John David Ashcroft include:

1) Ordering and directing a proclaimed "pre-emptive", or "first strike" war of aggression against Afghanistan causing thousands of deaths indiscriminately, a major proportion non combatants, leaving millions homeless and hungry and installing a government of their choice in Kabul.

2) Authorizing daily intrusions into the airspace of Iraq by U.S. military aircraft in violation of the sovereignty of Iraq and aerial attacks on facilities and persons, on the soil of Iraq, killing hundreds of people indiscriminately, initially falsely claiming self defense though over a period of eleven years not a single U.S. aircraft has been struck or damaged by gunfire from Iraq, but later admitting the targeting of defense installations in Iraq, as war preparations they ordered progressed.

3) Authorizing, ordering and condoning direct attacks on civilians, civilians facilities and locations where civilian casualties are unavoidable.

4) Threatening Iraq with proclaimed "pre-emptive", or "first strike" attack and a war of aggression by overwhelming force and military superiority including specific threats to use nuclear weapons while engaged in a massive military build-up in nations and waters surrounding Iraq.

5) Threatening the independence and sovereignty of Iraq by belligerently proclaiming an intention to change its government by force while preparing to assault Iraq in a war of aggression.

6) Authorizing, ordering and condoning assassinations, summary executions, kidnappings, secret and other illegal detentions of individuals, torture and physical and psychological coercion of prisoners to obtain false statements concerning acts and intentions of governments and individuals and violating within the United States, and by authorizing U.S. forces and agents elsewhere, the rights of individuals under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

7) Authorizing, directing and condoning bribery and coercion of governments and individuals to cause them to act in violation of their duty and the law, including to maintain and tighten enforcement of economic sanctions against Iraq which continue to increase the death rate of infants, children and elderly persons; to attack and kill designated groups, or persons; to permit use of land, facilities, territorial waters, or air space for U.S. attacks on Iraq; to vote, abstain in a vote, or publicly proclaim support for a U.S. or U.N. attack on Iraq; to defect from Iraq, or to falsely accuse it of weapons concealment to break down opposition to a U.S. war of aggression; and to reject ratification of the Treaty creating an International Criminal Court, or reject its jurisdiction over the United States.

8) Making, ordering and condoning false statements and propaganda about the conduct of foreign governments and individuals and acts by U.S. government personnel; manipulating the media and foreign governments with false information; concealing information vital to public discussion and informed judgment concerning acts, intentions and possession, or efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in order to falsely create a climate of fear and destroy opposition to U.S. wars of aggression and first strike attacks by the U.S.

9) Violations and subversions of the Constitution of the United States of America in an attempt to commit with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes in "pre emptive" wars, first strike attacks and threats of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and other nations by assuming powers of an imperial executive who is not accountable to law and usurping powers of the Congress, the Judiciary and the people of the United States to prevent interferences with the unlawful executive exercise of military power and economic coercion against the international community.

10) Violations and subversions of the Charter of the United Nations and international law in an attempt to commit with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes in wars and threats of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and others and usurping powers of the United Nations and the peoples of its nations by bribery, coercion and other corrupt acts and by rejecting, violations and frustrating compliance with treaties in order to destroy any means by which international law and institutions can prevent, affect, or adjudicate the exercise of U.S. military and economic power against the international community.
Comment: Its about time!! Although, I dont think the rules of dictatorship allows for impeachment of the "Furher". We shall see how far this gets.

Terrorists' leader was found hiding in suburb where military elite live The house where the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested is in one of the least likely places to find one of the world's most wanted terrorists. Westridge, a well-to-do suburb of Rawalpindi, is a five-minute drive from the headquarters of the Pakistani army and hundreds of senior officers, including serving and retired generals, live in the area. About 25 Pakistani intelligence and police officers armed with Kalashnikov rifles surrounded the home of Ahmed Abdul Qadoos, 42, a member of Pakistan's fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party, at 3am on Saturday. Mohammed was asleep when the authorities stormed the building and he was arrested in his bedroom. Qadoos and a second Arab were also held. "Police pounded the gate and then they rushed through," said Omar Qadoos, Ahmed's cousin. At first police were not sure who they had caught as they had no recent photographs of Mohammed but his identity was confirmed a few minutes later by American CIA and FBI officials who were waiting outside.

Police then locked up the women of the house in another room and seized a computer, files and computer disks from Mohammed's bedroom, leaving papers and clothes littered across the bed and the floor. Mohammed was a close associate of bin Laden's eldest son Saad and was linked to the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in 1993. He was indicted in the US in 1996 for his alleged role in a plot to blow up 12 American airliners over the Pacific and was also accused of plotting to kill the Pope in the Philippines in 1995.

In Pakistan he is alleged by other al-Qa'eda suspects to have personally slit the throat of the kidnapped American journalist Daniel Pearl last year, as two other Arabs held Mr Pearl down. Mohammed has an engineering degree from an American university, speaks four languages and is said to have a winning way with women. In earlier raids CIA and FBI agents, who have worked closely with Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence agency (ISI) over the past year to catch some 420 al-Qa'eda suspects, have been directly involved.

This time they stood by as the Pakistanis conducted the raid but US intelligence is believed to have provided the Pakistanis with telephone intercepts to help locate Mohammed. Within three hours of their capture Mohammed and the other unidentified Arab were taken out of the country in a CIA plane. Pakistani authorities have said they will put Qadoos on trial for involvement with terrorism. His family said he was mentally "slow" and had no connection with any extremist group.

"My brother has never been involved in any bad things," his sister, Qudsia Khanum, said. "I can't imagine he could be involved with terrorists." Qadoos is married with two children and was living with his parents. His father is a retired microbiologist who had worked for the United Nations, while his mother is a leader of the women's wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's most prominent Islamic party. Yesterday the Jamaat leader, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, condemned all three arrests, saying that the US had taken over Pakistan's sovereignty. Comment: More lies folks, again we see that this arrest comes at a time when the US is under increasing pressure over its phony war, and as usual with lies, the allegations are full of gaping holes! In this case it may not be surprising that Mohammed lived so close to the Pakistani military since it seems the Pakistani secret service (ISI) recruited the alleged "plane hijackers" for the US

March 4, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, 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!

"Let us imagine that there existed a country in the world that wished to have the power to do whatever it wished without having to answer to anyone else. It is a rogue state, the neighborhood bully, the local Mafia don. In response to this rogue state, other countries attempt to work together to find ways to contain the unbridled violence and arrogance of the rogue. They are doing this in part to protect themselves, in part to protect their economic interests, in part for other reasons. But in an international community, they are entitled to do this, to find ways to contain the aggression of the bully. Within the rogue state, any attempt by the world community to control the rogue would be seen as an affront on its sovereignty, on its "freedom" to do as it pleases. It might even begin to label this world organization as "evil", as "less free", as totalitarian, as the real danger. And the world community is a danger to the designs the rogue has on the rest of the world.

Now imagine that the press and media within the rogue state are completely controlled by those in power and that news of what life is like in the rest of the world is only shown if it conforms to the propaganda interests of the controllers. Imagine that the citizens of the rogue state are encouraged to stay home because no one else has it so good, because the rest of the world is jealous of them and therefore it is potentially dangerous to travel abroad. Imagine that the citizens of this rogue state have a very poor understanding of the rest of the world.

They might tend to believe the propaganda that this "world government" was something evil. They would have no direct experience to use as a basis of comparison. At the heart of it all is the deeply ingrained brainwashing of the American people to believe that their country is somehow better than anyone else.
That is one lie that every American will have to confront

Now imagine that this is exactly the situation at present in the US"

Mightiest military force in history leaves all in its wake To put things into perspective, the $48bn (£34bn) increase in the Pentagon's fiscal 2003 budget is close to one and a half times as much as the entire annual defence spending of Britain or France. America's defence spending now exceeds the 15 next-largest military budgets combined. Patriotic, applause-drenched occasions have become routine since 11 September. And what President Bush actually said the other day superficially sounded pretty routine too, as he made the easiest sales pitch imaginable in America – the Pentagon's military budget.

"We will not stop until the threat of global terrorism has been destroyed," he told cheering US servicemen at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, weighing in again against what he terms the "axis of evil", a description Europe denounces as simplistic nonsense. "The message has been made clear to the enemy. It has been made clear to the world. It is being delivered by the finest military ever assembled, the United States military."

But the facts behind the flag-waving are anything but routine. The relative quality of the US fighting man may be a matter of debate. America now accounts for 36 per cent of global defence spending – a share the historian Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, has pointed out, is the largest portion of global defence spending seen by a single country. Not even the Roman Empire could claim so much. To put things into perspective, the $48bn (£34bn) increase in the Pentagon's fiscal 2003 budget is close to one and a half times as much as the entire annual defence spending of Britain or France. America's defence spending now exceeds the 15 next-largest military budgets combined.

And if anything this gap is growing. In recession-bound Europe the pressures are to cut, not expand, defence expenditure. Russia, traditionally the second-biggest spender, is desperate to divert resources into other areas. Many of the other big spenders, such as Taiwan and Saudi Arabia, are virtual client states of America, buying American weapons. Meanwhile the US continues to widen its superiority in electronic warfare, in precision-guided munitions and in the unmanned drones that are becoming weapons platforms in their own right.

The imbalance between America and the rest of its allies is raising dark questions for Nato. At last weekend's Wehrkunde meeting of defence officials in Munich, two questions underlay the complaints about America's perceived unilateralism and aversion to prior consultations with its allies: can the Alliance function without America, and does America need Nato in any case?

Afghanistan illustrated the dilemma perfectly. On paper there was a "coalition"; in practice only Britain, Australia and Canada made any meaningful contribution. Washington drew two lessons from the Kosovo war: that air power can win wars; and that you do not run wars by committee. Mr Kennedy argued that the decline of great powers – Spain, France, Britain and most recently the Soviet Union – was due to military overstretch, and the taking on of commitments that simply could not be sustained or financed. But on both scores, America looks safe.

It maintains scores of bases overseas, and thanks to 12 – soon to be 13 – aircraft carrier groups can project power almost immediately to any corner of the globe. But it is not an imperial power in the old sense, occupying great tracts of territory as did Britain or the Soviet Union. Indeed, as Afghanistan shows, America does not want overseas entanglement. Get in, win the war, then get out and let others provide the permanent peace-keepers, runs the new Bush doctrine. And as Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, pointed out this week, "$379bn (£270bn) is a great deal of money, but it accounts only for 3.3 per cent of GDP." America's 2003 budget is in deficit but only by 1 per cent of GDP – virtuous by European standards.

All this is happening as America continues to pour tens of billions of dollars into vast, baroque weapons programmes – the new stealth F-22 fighter, the Comanche helicopter, and the uprated F/A-18E/F fighter, not to mention missile defence. These weapons are of little relevance for the crushing of the "axis of evil" whose three members, Iran, Iraq and North Korea, have a combined military budget of just $12bn.

Of course Afghanistan was a push-over, a poor, war-ruined country pummelled at will by its opponent in a military mismatch equivalent to Manchester United playing a pick-up village football team. Future foes, perhaps Iraq, will not be so swiftly overcome. China will undoubtedly become a more important military player. But for the foreseeable future the world must live with a Pax Americana, enforced by the mightiest military in history.

Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire As the Bush Administration amasses hundreds of thousands of American troops on Iraq’s borders, pushes the Filipino government for permission to send more than two thousand American troops to fight Islamic guerrillas on an obscure island in the Philippines, and prepares for a nuclear showdown with North Korea, reading Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson is both a revelatory and disturbing experience. In simple terms, Blowback argues that what goes around comes around. And, according to Johnson, that is a frightening prospect.

Blowback is a term invented by the Central Intelligence Agency ((CIA). “It refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people,” says Johnson. “What the daily press reports as the malign acts of ‘terrorists’ or ‘drug lords’ or ‘rogue states’ or ‘illegal arms merchants’ often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations.” The primary objective of these operations, he argues, is to maintain a global American empire held together by military and financial domination of other countries and, more critically, their markets. In short, we want to own the world.

The Bush Administration, by word and deed, has made it abundantly clear that it envisions a world dominated by one power, the United States, that will enforce a “Pax Americana.” The Administration declared its intentions in the National Security Strategy released Sept. 20, 2001. The policy was actually formulated in 1992 in the last year of the Bush I administration by Donald Rumsfield, who is now Secretary of Defense; Paul Wolfowitz, who is now Assistant Secretary of Defense; and Richard Perle, a national security advisor; among others.

This strategy dismisses deterrence or containment, a policy successfully used against the former Soviet Union” as a relic of the Cold War. Instead, it favors “convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities.” Naturally, Washington will determine what those “sovereign responsibilities” are. The Bush Doctrine of American Hegemony At the core of this doctrine is the concept of the pre-emptive strike. As George Bush explained to the nation in his most recent State of the Union address, the United States has the right to attack any country it perceives as being a threat to our security or interests. These countries do not actually have to be an immediate threat; they need only be perceived as one. Read more Comment: Well that sounds like a marvellous policy, I mean who wouldnt want to live under such an administration? It is my guess that a certain "blowback" from "earlier american operations" around Sept 11 2001 will soon blow up in Bushs face.

Geeks bearing gifts Bush offers false promises to Palestine As the Middle East lurches towards war, Palestinians have more to fear than most. Last week George Bush stressed his "personal commitment" to Palestinian statehood. Success in toppling Saddam, he argued, could transform the region, curb terrorism and boost Palestinian reformers. As part of this "new stage", Israel would be expected to work for a final status agreement along the lines of the US-backed peace "road map". Old patterns of conflict would be broken, he said; reconciliation would be the watchword. In short, all will be well. Trust me. Palestinians should beware of geeks bearing gifts. Mr Bush has talked about a Palestinian state before; but talk is all it amounts to so far. He made a similar promise about progress on Palestine when seeking Muslim backing for his Afghan war. That was 18 months ago. One Bush excuse for inaction has followed another since, including continuing Palestinian (as opposed to Israeli) violence, the Palestinians' refusal to jettison Yasser Arafat (to whom Mr Bush refuses to speak), and the long-winded Israeli election process. Thanks to Mr Bush's high tolerance for Israeli objections, a final "road map" is still not agreed. No pacesetting diplomatic mediation is in sight. The myriad problems of a post-war Iraq, meanwhile, are likely to preoccupy the White House well into the presidential election season. Unpardonably, the Bush "vision" blindly ignored Israel's throttling grip on Palestinian areas and its UN obligations to withdraw; worse still, Mr Bush signalled a significant easing of earlier pressure to curb illegal settlement activity. Yet all this is happening just as the US is supposedly in need of the Arab states' goodwill. Little wonder, given their chronic weakness, that Mr Bush exhibits such duplicitous nonchalance; little wonder Palestinians fear they are on their own.

Laughing all the way to the West Bank, Israel's Ariel Sharon plays Mr Bush like an open-mouthed trout on a line. Having gone into coalition with absurdist zealots repelled by the mere thought of Palestine, he set tough new terms for future talks that if maintained will preclude any progress at all while he is in office. In tandem, offensive Israeli military assaults, especially in Gaza, grow more deadly and less inhibited. As the world fixates on Iraq, Palestinians fear their oppression may intensify unnoticed. How to protect them is an urgent moral dilemma worthy of a prime minister's attention. Comment: Looking more deeply at the situation the ones really being sucker punched are the semitic peoples of the middle east. Sharon and the Jews in Israel, when thinking of US policy towards them should think "machievelli".

Iraq: allied bombing kills six civilians Six Iraqi civilians died and 15 were wounded last night in an allied bombing raid on the country's southern no-fly zone, the Iraqi military said today. British and US planes flew into Iraqi airspace from their base in Kuwait at 9.45pm (18.45 GMT) last night and targeted civilian sites in the southern port city of Basra, an Iraqi military spokesman said. He said Iraqi anti-aircraft units fired at the planes. Officials in Washington confirmed that US warplanes patrolling the no-fly zone attacked four military communications facilities and one air defence facility yesterday. US central command in Florida said the attacks came after Iraqi forces fired at US and British planes. The allied aircraft used precision-guided weapons to strike four fibre optic communications centres near Al Kut, about 95 miles southeast of Baghdad, and a military command and control centre near Basra.

"The specific targets were struck because they enhanced Iraq's integrated air defence network. Target damage assessment is ongoing," a US military spokesman told the Reuters news agency. The news came as Britain denied Pentagon reports that allied planes were increasing their strikes on Iraqi targets in a bid to soften up the country for war. Both Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence refuted reports that allied aircraft patrolling the "no-fly zones" above northern and southern Iraq have switched to a more aggressive strategy. Pentagon sources were reported to have disclosed that British and US aircraft were now targeting surface-to-surface missiles, which could threaten allied forces during a ground war.

But Mr Blair's spokesman insisted: "The policy in the no-fly zone continues as it was. They patrol the no-fly zones as they did before. They respond to the threats they encounter." As the allies prepared for a possible attack on Iraq, the first of a number of expected US B52 bombers landed today at RAF Fairford, in Gloucestershire. The long-range bomber, expected to be involved in any conflict with Iraq, is the first of around nine believed to be arriving at the base. The MoD has not confirmed that the aircraft will be stationed there. RAF Fairford is a Nato-designated standby base and is shared with the United States air force (USAF). It is one of only three forward USAF bases outside the US. Comment: Well thats one way to get the ball rolling, now for the other 499,994, and say nothing about the fact that the "No fly zones" aren't really legal anyway

Afghanistan retakes heroin crown Production has surged since the end of the Taliban regime Afghanistan retook its place as the world's leading producer of heroin last year, after US-led forces overthrew the Taliban which had banned cultivation of opium poppies. The finding was made in a key drug report, distributed in Kabul on Sunday by the US State Department, which supports almost identical findings by the United Nations last week. Low-grade heroin is refined in Afghanistan from opium, which is manufactured from the extract of poppies. "The size of the opium harvest in 2002 makes Afghanistan the world's leading opium producer," the report said. The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report said the area of land used to cultivate opium poppies reached 30,750 hectares, compared with 1,685 hectares in 2001. Afghanistan overtook Burma - whose production fell for the sixth straight year, to 630 tonnes - as the leading opium producer. The British government is the leading sponsor of the anti-drugs campaign in Afghanistan.The report said fighting illegal drug trafficking was key to the US war on terrorism.

Production has surged since the end of the Taliban "The US campaign against global terrorism in 2002 highlighted the importance of our international drug control programs," it said. Despite its own figures showing the Taliban had cut Afghanistan's heroin production by about 95%, the report claimed that heroin had "financed the former Taliban regime" The UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) report, released on 26 February, said that Afghanistan produced 3,400 tonnes last year, up from 185 tonnes in 2001.

While the US report praised US-backed Afghan president Hamid Karzai for the measures he has introduced to cut heroin production, the UN report said his two executive orders had no practical impact. The Pentagon and the State Department are reportedly split over how heroin production should be tackled in the country. The Taliban banned production While the Pentagon insists that the military operations in Afghanistan should be limited to fighting terrorists, while the State Department thinks armed forces should tackle opium production. The US report also praised Pakistan for "excellent" co-operation with US anti-drugs efforts. Last week the head of Pakistan's Anti-Narcotics Force, Major General Zafar Abbas, said that heroin production in Afghanistan this year is expected to reach more than 4,000 tonnes. Russian guards patrolling Afghanistan's 1,340-kilometre border with Tajikistan, the main transport route for Afghan drugs to European markets, have seized 1.5 tonnes of heroin already this year. Last year, Russian and Tajik border guards seized 6.7 tonnes of drugs. Comment: Another top class job by the good ol US of A. Check out the success rate on other glorious misadventures here

Pregnant woman crushed to death in Israeli raid A pregnant woman crushed to death when Israeli soldiers dynamited the house next door; a few streets away a smear of the blood on the road where a boy aged 14 was shot dead by tank fire – this was the scene in the Gaza Strip yesterday, when the Israeli army was celebrating what it considered to be a big success.

During a deep incursion into the Bureij refugee camp, the Israeli army detained Mohammed Taha, the first senior leader of the political wing of Hamas, the Palestinian militant organisation responsible for more suicide bombings than any other, to be arrested.Also among those captured by the army was a man it said was the deputy of Mohammed Deif, leader of the armed wing of Hamas and Israel's most wanted man. Although Hamas denied the man was Mr Deif's deputy, there was little doubt that the incursion was a heavy blow to the militant group.

But a more unpalatable truth lurked in the bullet holes that spattered Peace Street, where 14-year-old Tariq Akil was killed, and in the ruins of the house where Nuha al- Magadmeh, nine-months pregnant, was crushed to death 10 days before she was due to give birth. These are what armies like to describe as "collateral damage", the civilians who are "unavoidably" killed in the course of a military operation.Eight Palestinians were killed in the incursion. Local Palestinians said three were unarmed militants – the others were unarmed civilians. They also confirmed Israeli army reports that there had been heavy fighting between Israeli soldiers and armed militants resisting the incursion.

But there were disturbing signs that some of the civilian deaths were not unavoidable – that the Israeli army did not do enough to prevent them.In the half-ruined house where Ms Magadmeh was crushed to death, her son, Naseem, 12, told us the family was sheltering in one room. "Suddenly there was a big explosion and the wall fell on us," he said. "My mother was crying 'Help me, Shukri [her husband], help me.' "We were shouting for help from the neighbours but no one could come. My father tried to move pieces of wall." Israeli soldiers had dynamited a neighbouring house, which belonged to the family of a suicide bomber, Sami Abed al-Salam. He had killed himself when he tried to blow up a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip in December. The Israeli army routinely demolishes the homes of suicide bombers' families, a practice condemned as collective punishment by human rights groups.

The wall between the house that was blown up and Ms Magadmeh's collapsed on her. But that could have been avoided. "We did not go out because the Israeli soldiers ordered everyone to stay inside over a loudspeaker," said the dead woman's husband, who has a fractured neck. It appears the soldiers evacuated only those inside the house that would be demolished and those living on either side – not those whose houses backed on to the demolished building. In the neighbouring Nusseirat refugee camp's Peace Street, where Tariq Akil, 14, was killed, his uncle, Usama Akil, told us he was fleeing because one of his relatives is a wanted militant. The entire family had abandoned their house and run, but the boy was the last to leave. As he ran up the street, a tank opened fire.

Mr Akil and other Palestinian witnesses said there was no fighting and no militants in the street at the time. Mr Akil said the fighting was in the next street. It is never possible to confirm such reports with certainty. But the disturbing evidence was lying a few metres up the road: the twisted metal remains of a tank shell. Beside them great rents were blasted out of the asphalt road, and through a gaping hole in the wall you could see through into Rajab Abu Hamdi's living room. The Israeli army fired a tank shell into a civilian house, running a high risk of civilian casualties. Mr Abu Hamdi had cowered in his living room, he told us. "It's a miracle I'm alive." He said there were no militants in the house at the time.

Mr Abu Hamdi said he believed the Israeli tank fired the shell at Tariq Akil. "There was no one else here. They were firing at anything that was moving," he claimed. "If a chicken had been in the street they would have fired at it." Mohammed al-Rifai said his son Maher, 24, died after he was hit by shrapnel from tank fire when they went to see if they could help the wounded. "He was hit in the chest and in both legs," said the old man, who was injured in the foot." I was two metres from him. They were shooting at us." Mr Rifai said his son was a member of the Palestinian police force but was off duty at the time and was not carrying his gun.

The deaths came a day after a boy aged nine was shot dead during the funeral of two militants killed in the south of the Gaza Strip. Palestinians said he was shot by Israeli soldiers after a group of children started throwing stones at a settlement. The Israeli army said the soldiers had come under fire. Hamas denied Israeli army claims that the main target of yesterday's operation, Mr Taha, was one of the seven founders of Hamas. Although leaders of the group's armed wing have frequently been arrested and assassinated by the Israeli army, Mr Taha is the first senior leader of the political wing to be detained.

US hits roadblock in push to war America admitted yesterday that the war due to begin as early as next week might have to be put back by at least a month because of Turkey's refusal to allow US ground troops to deploy there. The surprise rejection by the parliament in Ankara made the planning "more complicated", Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said. Some military analysts predicted that an attack of the speed and decisiveness President George Bush wants might have to be delayed until late March or even early April.

The United States sounded more determined than ever yesterday to use force to disarm and topple Saddam Hussein. Mr Fleischer again derided Iraq's destruction of six more al-Samoud 2 missiles, and Baghdad's last-ditch moves to account for missing chemical and biological agents. "Iraq is not co-operating ... they continue to fundamentally not disarm," he said. Another carrier group, the Nimitz, left America last night to join five other carriers either in the Gulf region or on the way. The Pentagon issued deployment orders for 70,000 men of the 1st Cavalry division from Fort Hood, Texas, equipped for heavy ground combat. Nearly 250,000 American and British troops are now believed to be in the region.

Though some officials in Washington still cling to the hope that the Ankara parliament, which reconvenes today, will reconsider its decision, Pentagon planners are consid-ering whether to activate a "Plan B" for an invasion. Thus far, the dozen heavy cargo ships carrying equipment for the 4th Infantry Division have not been rerouted from just off the Turkish coast where they have been waiting to unload. But if there is no change of heart in Ankara, the whole plan for a second front bearing down on Baghdad from the north will have to be redrawn.

Under the rejected deal, up to 62,000 men would have been sent to bases in eastern Turkey, poised to launch a massive operation southwards. Now, any such force would be more a holding one than offensive, its size unlikely to exceed 20,000, according to analysts.

Officials maintain this would suffice to cover the immediate objectives of protecting against any Iraqi thrust against the Kurds, to secure the oilfields around Kirkuk and Mosul, and tie down some Republican Guard units who would otherwise be directed south. But the American force would not be enough for a big strike.

American and British warplanes widened their attacks in the northern and southern no-fly zones in Iraq, in what amounted to a preliminary to the campaign proper. Targets had been Iraqi air defence installations that threatened the allied planes. But the attacks are now aimed at surface-to-surface missile batteries said to be in range of Anglo-American troops in Kuwait or of possible positions for American troops in Turkey. An Iraqi military spokesman claimed an Anglo-American strike on Sunday night killed six civilians and wounded 15 in the southern province of Basra.

Although the campaign may be delayed, there is no indication it will be halted. Yesterday the British Government announced it had given the United States permission to base 14 B-52 bombers at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. The first wave of the long-range bombers arrived yesterday in an echo of the first Gulf War in 1991, when 60 missions were flown from the base.

Tony Blair was accused of concealing from the public the fact that a new Gulf War had already begun. Bernard Jenkin, the shadow Defence Secretary, said the "opening shots of the second Gulf War" had been fired. Anti-war Labour MPs claimed that war had begun by stealth. Doug Henderson, a former armed forces minister, said the increased activity in the no-fly zones was a "slide into war". Alice Mahon suggested that war had been started through the "back door". Although Downing Street denied any change of policy, Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, told the Commons: "There is no doubt that our forces have been undertaking more frequent patrols involving a broader range of aircraft in the no-fly zones."


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