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Sinclair Broadcasting Drops Nightline

April 30th, 2004 - by admin

Sinclair Broadcasting / Sen. John McCain – 2004-04-30 12:41:46

http://www.envirosagainstwar.org/edit/index.php?op=edit&itemid=1389

ABC Pre-empts Nightline to Read Names of US Dead:
Sinclair Broadcast Group Bans Nightline Airing as ‘Dishonest’

Sinclair Press Release

The ABC Television Network announced on Tuesday that the Friday, April 30 edition of “Nightline” will consist entirely of Ted Koppel reading aloud the names of US servicemen and women killed in action in Iraq.

Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.

There is no organization that holds the members of our military and those soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in service of our country in higher regard than Sinclair Broadcast Group.

While Sinclair would support an honest effort to honor the memory of these brave soldiers, we do not believe that is what “Nightline” is doing. Rather, Mr. Koppel and “Nightline” are hiding behind this so-called tribute in an effort to highlight only one aspect of the war effort and in doing so to influence public opinion against the military action in Iraq.

Based on published reports, we are aware of the spouse of one soldier who died in Iraq who opposes the reading of her husband’s name to oppose our military action. We suspect she is not alone in this viewpoint. As a result, we have decided to preempt the broadcast of “Nightline’ this Friday on each of our stations which air ABC programming.

We understand that our decision in this matter may be questioned by some. Before you judge our decision, however, we would ask that you first question Mr. Koppel as to why he chose to read the names of 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorist attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001.

In his answer, we believe you will find the real motivation behind his action scheduled for this Friday. Unfortunately, we may never know for sure because Mr. Koppel has refused repeated requests from Sinclair’s News Central news organization to comment on this Friday’s program.


Sen. John McCain’s Letter to the Sinclair Broadcast Group
WASHINGTON, DC (April 29, 2004) — US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) issued the following letter today to Mr. David Smith, President and CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, in response to the preemption of this evening’s Nightline program:

I write to strongly protest your decision to instruct Sinclair’s ABC affiliates to preempt this evening’s Nightline program. I find deeply offensive Sinclair’s objection to Nightline’s intention to broadcast the names and photographs of Americans who gave their lives in service to our country in Iraq.

I supported the President’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and remain a strong supporter of that decision. But every American has a responsibility to understand fully the terrible costs of war and the extraordinary sacrifices it requires of those brave men and women who volunteer to defend the rest of us; lest we ever forget or grow insensitive to how grave a decision it is for our government to order Americans into combat. It is a solemn responsibility of elected officials to accept responsibility for our decision and its consequences, and, with those who disseminate the news, to ensure that Americans are fully informed of those consequences.

There is no valid reason for Sinclair to shirk its responsibility in what I assume is a very misguided attempt to prevent your viewers from completely appreciating the extraordinary sacrifices made on their behalf by Americans serving in Iraq. War is an awful, but sometimes necessary business. Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war’s terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.


Sinclair Responds to Senator McCain
BALTIMORE (April 30, 2004) – The following is a copy of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.’s (Nasdaq: SBGI) letter sent today to Senator McCain regarding the Company’s decision not to air this evening’s episode of “Nightline.”

April 30, 2004
Senator John McCain
Chairman
United States Senate Commerce Committee
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator McCain:

I am writing to respond to your letter to me regarding Sinclair Broadcast Group’s decision not to air this evening’s episode of “Nightline.”

Let me begin by saying that no organization more fully supports our military than Sinclair. In no way was our decision intended to show any disrespect to the brave members of our military, particularly those who have sacrificed their lives in service of our country. To the contrary, our decision was based on a desire to stop the misuse of their sacrifice to support an anti-war position with which most, if not all, of these soldiers would not have agreed.

Senator McCain, together with you, I also support the President’s decision to go to war in Iraq. Moreover, while I don’t disagree that Americans need to understand the costs of war and sacrifices of our military volunteers, I firmly believe that responsible journalism requires that a discussion of these costs must necessarily be accompanied by a description of the benefits of military action and the events that precipitated that action. To those who would accuse Sinclair of censorship, we ask that they consider the daily decisions of network shows like “Nightline” as to what issues to cover and how they are to be presented, decisions that necessarily involve ignoring other issues and points of view that the networks choose not to present to the American public.

Sinclair’s news coverage during the last year has reported on all aspects of the war in Iraq, including the tragic loss of lives of military combatants. In fact, we will be replacing “Nightline” this evening with a balanced report addressing both sides of this controversy. It is worth noting that “Nightline” and its host, Ted Koppel, have ignored repeated requests from Sinclair to comment on their decision regarding the content of tonight’s program.

It is “Nightline’s” failure to present the entire story, however, to which Sinclair objects. “Nightline” is not reporting news; it is doing nothing more than making a political statement. In simply reading the names of our fallen heroes, this program has adopted a strategy employed by numerous anti-war demonstrators who wish to focus attention solely on the cost of war.

In fact, lest there be any doubt about “Nightline’s” motivation, both Mr. Koppel and “Nightline’s” executive producer have acknowledged that tonight’s episode was influenced by the Life Magazine article listing the names of dead soldiers in Vietnam, which article was widely credited with furthering the opposition to the Vietnam war and with creating a backlash of public opinion against the members of the US military who had proudly served in that conflict

In closing, I would like to quote for you the words of Captain Kate Blaise of the US Military. Captain Blaise served in Iraq as a member of the 101st Airborne Division and suffered the loss of her husband Mike who was killed while also serving in Iraq. In commenting on exactly the type of practice which “Nightline” intends to employ, Captain Blaise had this to say:

“I was watching the news, watching this anti-war demonstration and they were reading off names of soldiers who had fallen in Iraq and they read off my husband’s name. That made me very angry because he very strongly believed in what he was doing and they were using his name for a purpose that he would not have approved of.”

I hope that this letter has adequately addressed your concerns and explained why Sinclair has taken this action. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you in greater detail. In addition, if you are available, we would be delighted to provide you with a chance to be part of our program this evening discussing this issue.

Sincerely yours,
David D. Smith

 

There Is No Need to Test Nuclear Weapons

April 30th, 2004 - by admin

Bill Evensonv / Salte Lake Tribune – 2004-04-30 12:22:20

http://www.sltrib.com/2004/Apr/04182004/commenta/158068.asp

When the first President Bush halted nuclear weapons testing in 1992, he surely didn’t anticipate that the moratorium would later be shrouded in a veil of secrecy. Fortunately, US Sen. Bob Bennett is in position to lift the veil.

The simple scientific fact is that there is no need for the United States to test a nuclear weapon now or in the foreseeable future. Here’s why:

The directors of the nation’s three nuclear weapons laboratories give the arsenal an annual checkup. Every year since the moratorium has been in place, they have delivered the same diagnosis: no problems. They haven’t asked for a nuclear test; they haven’t even hinted that tests are needed.

It’s not surprising. When the elder Bush halted testing, a multibillion-dollar Stockpile Stewardship Program was developed to maintain the reliability of the 8,000 nuclear weapons in the arsenal. Part of that program focuses on alerting scientists to any problem that might develop in one of the nuclear weapons — an early warning system. Indeed, scientists now know more about the arsenal than they ever would have under the old testing program.

The Truth Remains Classified
All of this would be part of the public discussion about testing if it weren’t for one thing. The annual report from the lab directors is classified.

It’s only through leaked information that the public can learn that the arsenal doesn’t need testing. We don’t need tests to develop new nuclear weapons. There are more than 1,000 good reasons that back up this point. The United States generated a warehouse of information when it carried out 1,030 nuclear tests over nearly 50 years.

Literally many dozens of different nuclear weapons designs have been tested and are capable of being built. In fact, there is already a tested design for every currently proposed “new” weapons concept.

This is not a controversial point. An advisory panel for the federal agency that oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons concluded that new nuclear weapons do not need to “involve any radical departures from previously considered or even implemented systems.”

Getting that advisory panel information was like pulling teeth. It took a reporter two years and a Freedom of Information Act request to do it.

Why Renewed Nuke Tests would Benefit our Enemies
Testing benefits our nuclear adversaries more than it benefits us. It’s a good bet that if the United States broke the moratorium, others would follow. And while at best we would get marginal gains in our weapons program, China could make major threatening upgrades.

In particular, China would probably integrate multiple warheads on each missile and develop new warheads for advanced solid-fuel rockets.

Chinese officials have said that they will consider a resumption of testing in response to the US nuclear policies outlined in the Nuclear Posture Review that the Defense Department submitted to Congress in December 2001. We might draw our own conclusions on the matter. Unfortunately, the review is classified.

Clearly, something has to be done to open up the process. We shouldn’t have to rely on leaks and Freedom of Information requests.

Laws Needed to Open the Process
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, recently introduced a bill addressing the issue of radiation containment and nuclear testing. It is a nice step on behalf of concerned downwinders, but more has to be done.

Significant decisions should not be made behind closed doors and imposed on us with little warning. Such decisions require public understanding and deliberation. In the case of the Iraq war, the Bush administration engaged the public months ahead of time in an effort to build support. We should expect no less in the case of a nuclear weapons test.

Yet, there is no federal requirement to provide ample public notification of a proposed nuclear test. Worse yet, the entire testing program is veiled in secrecy. This is no way to alleviate public apprehension. In fact, it encourages suspicion.

In a recent hearing in Washington, Bennett pressed a Department of Energy (DOE) official with questions to determine whether a nuclear test is currently in the works. It is not at all reassuring that it took a U.S. senator to get answers that should be publicly available.

Bennett should encourage the Department of Energy to open up the process. At the very least, he should call for public notification of any proposed test with ample time for deliberation.

What’s ample? Eighteen months is reasonable — it takes that long to plan and carry out a nuclear test anyway. If DOE has a strong enough case for testing, then surely they wouldn’t worry about a little public discussion.

Bill Evenson is a professor of physics and associate dean of the School of Science and Health at Utah Valley State College.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

ACTION ALERT – April 30: Montana Army vs. Lynx

April 30th, 2004 - by admin

Rex Palmer – 2004-04-30 12:06:19

http://www.rexpalmer.net/FSL/FSL.htm —

Time is short. The period for public comments on the development described here extends only through April 30th. The fact that “only” 16 acres are involved is deceptive. The consequences for wildlife, including lynx, could be serious.

The Montana Army National Guard has requested that the Helena National Forest permit a biathlon course at Macdonald Pass, next to the Continental Divide, 12 miles west of Helena. The development would include several buildings, several kilometers of trails, a road, a parking lot, and a rifle range. Approximately 16 acres would be cleared. The two points below suggest that anyone who cares about biodiversity in the Rocky Mountain region might take an interest in the environmental consequences of this project.

At this web site– http://www.rexpalmer.net/FSL/FSL.htm —
please find a letter from HNF District Ranger Duane Harp describing the proposal. As the letter indicates, the potential threat to lynx habitat is already acknowledged. What is not acknowledged is the fact that the proposed site is a critical bottleneck in a wildlife migration corridor — one that would be affected not only by the development itself, but also by the noise of a rifle range. Please see the following web site for maps and a photographs of the area:
http://www.columbia.edu/~swd2002/

Two Points:
1) Infringement
The proposal would infringe on the wild corridor that runs from Glacier Park to the Bob Marshall Wilderness to Yellowstone Park. Wildlife biologists are trying to maintain a migration path for animals.

The course is sited at a narrow portion of this corridor, which makes for significant impact. The narrow strip of public land that lays across McDonald Pass is less than two miles wide, with the existing microwave towers, campgrounds, and ski trails already providing some impediment to migration for shy species.

The proposed facility will occupy a currently un-developed hillside that provides some of the most secure habitat in the area.

2) Lynx Habitat
Lynx are a threatened species. The ecosystem up at the proposed course site is classic lynx habitat, with a mix of Engleman spruce, sub-alpine fir,and snowshoe hares.

No lynx have been spotted (they are famously elusive), but the habitat is so prime that biologists have been searching the area. Given the corridor, maybe they could move in. This is not good habitat to reduce.

As the letter and web site referenced above indicate, the proposed biathlon development might also adversely affect nearby residences and existing, low-impact recreational activities. (Throughout my life, I and my family have spent time nearby.) And there is a concern over lead pollution that could be caused by bullet slugs.

I hope that the concerned citizens will lend their voices to the gathering effort to prevent destruction of this valuable natural area.
Again, the period for public comment closes on April 30th. Comments should be directed to:
Larry Cole, Helena Ranger District, 2001 Poplar, Helena, MT 59601,
(406) 449-5490, lcole@fs.fed.us .

Rex Palmer, 35 Old Angell Rd., Cumberland, RI 02864, (401) 334-4875

 

Powell Pushes Qatar to Quash Al-Jazeerah

April 30th, 2004 - by admin

Radio Havana Cuba – 2004-04-30 11:58:06

http://www.radiohc.org

WASHINGTON (April 28, 2004) — US Secretary of State Colin Powell complained bitterly Tuesday about coverage of the Middle East, Iraq and the war on terrorism provided to Arab audiences by the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television network.

Powell, speaking to reporters at the State Department alongside Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, made no secret of the fact that relations between the two nations were being harmed by al-Jazeera, which US officials have long accused of biased news reporting.

Al-Jazeera has consistently defended the network’s reporting, saying that it’s news coverage of Iraq is simply depicting the violent and chaotic reality on the ground.

Asked to elaborate on what Washington was asking Doha to do about al-Jazeera, Powell said he was having “very intense discussions about this subject and those discussions will continue over the next couple of days.” Though he refused to comment further, some news reports asserted that his statements clearly indicate Washington wants al-Jazeera out of the picture.

US military commanders and civilian occupation authorities have also issued strong protests recently against the network’s coverage of hostilities in Iraq, which they say is fanning anti-US sentiment there. On April 12, they slammed al-Jazeera and the Dubai-based al-Arabiya television, accusing both of suggesting that US troops are targeting civilians in Iraq.

The stations have been providing graphic images of the devastation and casualties in the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah during ongoing fierce fighting between US forces and insurgents. In addition, they have aired videotape of foreign hostages taken captive by the insurgents.

Qatar’s leader, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, is the main backer of al-Jazeera and Qatari officials in the past have shrugged off US complaints, citing their desire to promote a free and vibrant press.

Al-Thani founded the station in 1996 with a $150-million, five-year grant and a mandate that it be run by an independent board. The Qatari leader did not comment on the talks about al-Jazeera that Powell said were underway.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

New Reports on US ‘Planting’ WMD’s in Iraq

April 29th, 2004 - by admin

Mehr News Agency (Iran) – 2004-04-29 08:12:38

http://www.mehrnews.com/wfNewsDetails_en.aspx?NewsID=70071&t=Political

BASRA (April 12, 2004) — Fifty days after the first reports that the US forces were unloading weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in southern Iraq, new reports about the movement of these weapons have been disclosed.

Sources in Iraq speculate that occupation forces are using the recent unrest in Iraq to divert attention from their surreptitious shipments of WMD into the country.

An Iraqi source close to the Basra Governor’s Office told the MNA that new information shows that a large part of the WMD, which was secretly brought to southern and western Iraq over the past month, are in containers falsely labeled as containers of the Maeresk shipping company and some consignments bearing the labels of organizations such as the Red Cross or the USAID in order to disguise them as relief shipments.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Iraqi officials including forces loyal to the Iraqi Governing Council stationed in southern Iraq have been forbidden from inspecting or supervising the transportation of these consignments. He went on to say that the occupation forces have ordered Iraqi officials to forward any questions on the issue to the coalition forces.

Even the officials of the international relief organizations have informed the Iraqi officials that they would only accept responsibility for relief shipments which have been registered and managed by their organizations.

The Iraqi source also confirmed the report about suspicious trucks with fake Saudi and Jordanian license plates entering Iraq at night last week, stressing that the Saudi and Jordanian border guards did not attempt to inspect the trucks but simply delivered them to the US and British forces stationed on Iraq’s borders.

However, the source expressed ignorance whether the governments of Saudi Arabia and Jordan were aware of such movements.

A professor of physics at Baghdad University also told the MNA correspondent that a group of his colleagues who are highly specialized in military, chemical and biological fields have been either bribed or threatened during the last weeks to provide written information on what they know about various programs and research centers and the possible storage of WMD equipment.

The professor also said these people have been openly asked to confirm or deny the existence of research or related WMD equipment. A large number of these scientists, who are believed to be under the surveillance of US intelligence operatives, have claimed that if they refuse to comply with this request, they may be killed or arrested on charges of concealing the truth if these weapons are found by the Bush administration in the future.

He said that the Iraqi scientists believe their lives would be in danger if they decline to cooperate with the occupation forces, especially when they recall that senior US officer Michael Peterson once said, “Iraqi scientists are at any case a threat to the US administration, whether they talk or not.”

A source close to the Iraqi Governing Council said, “In the meantime, many suspect containers disguised as fuel supplies have been moved about by some units of the US special forces. The move has been carried out under heavy security measures. Also, there are unofficial reports that the containers held biological and bacteriological toxins in liquid form. It is possible that the news about the discovery of the WMDs would be announced later.”

He also said that such mixtures had been used by the Saddam regime in the 1990s.

The source added that some provocative actions such as the closure of Al-Hawza periodical by US administrator Paul Bremer, the secret meetings between his envoys with some extremist groups who have no relations with the Iraqi Governing Council, the sudden upsurge in violence in central and southern Iraq, a number of activities which have stoked up the wrath of the prominent Shia clerics, and finally, the spate of kidnappings and the baseless charges against the Iranian charge d’affaires in Baghdad are providing the necessary smokescreen for the transportation of the WMD to their intended locations.

He said they are quite aware that the White House in cooperation with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has directly tasked the Defense Department to hide these weapons.

Given the recent scandals to the effect that the US president was privy to the 9/11 plot, they might try to immediately announce the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to overshadow the scandals and prevent a further decline of Bush’s public opinion rating as the election approaches.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

Iraqis Demand Full Sovereignty

April 29th, 2004 - by admin

BBC News Online – 2004-04-29 08:05:17

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3664395.stm

Iraq’s interim Governing Council has called for “nothing less than full sovereignty” after the June 20 transfer of power. But US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said Iraq would have to “give back” some power to the US in the early days. That caused concern among Iraqi leaders and on the United Nations Security Council, which is expected to be asked to support the new government in Iraq.

UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi later told the Council the role of Iraqis was vital. He said the people of Iraq should be as involved as possible in forming the interim government which will administer the country until full elections, due in January next year.

Mr Brahimi favours the winding up of the 25-member Governing Council appointed by the US from veteran politicians to be replaced by technocrats. He also suggested a national conference of more than 1,000 Iraqis from all walks of life be held in July.

That could offer support and advice to the government as it prepared for elections and act as a forum for reconciliation in the post-Saddam Hussein era, he said.

Sensitive time
The BBC’s Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says it is clear that the US will remain the dominant power in Iraq in both military and financial terms for some time to come. But he adds that the US has have to convince ordinary Iraqis that what is being billed as the handover of power will not be a purely symbolic moment.

Mr Powell’s comments – which came a week after US administrator for Iraq Paul Bremer said local Iraqi forces could not maintain security by themselves – were criticised swiftly by Iraqi politicians.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Governing Council, Hameed al-Kafaei, said he believed Mr Powell was talking about co-operation over security. “But sovereignty will have to be full on 30 June. Iraqis will not accept any less than full sovereignty,” he said.

Public Works Minister Nesreen Berwari told the Associated Press news agency that Iraqis would welcome support for security and building democratic institutions from the UN and the US. But she said Iraqis must take control of local and national government and make decisions on “day-to-day life,” including budgets and “how to move the country politically”.

As the members of the Security Council prepared to hear Mr Brahimi’s latest report in New York, the only Arab member of the Council also called for Iraq to have full control after 30 June. Algerian UN Ambassador Abdallah Baali said: “We definitely would like to see the Iraqi sovereignty restored in full and as soon as possible.”

UN ‘leading role’
Separately, the former US Ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, was being questioned by senators deciding whether to approve him as the White House’s new envoy in Iraq.

Mr Negroponte told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he expected the UN to take the lead in post-transition Iraq, in particular as it moves towards rule by an elected government.

If his appointment is confirmed, Mr Negroponte will replace Mr Bremer as the top US civilian in Iraq after 30 June when Mr Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority ceases to exist. But US officials have said their military forces will still have control of some aspects of security and Powell went further on Monday, saying that while Iraqis would have what he called sovereignty, “some of its sovereignty will have to be given back… or limited by them.”

He told Reuters news agency that the coalition did not mean to “seize anything away” from the planned caretaker government but added: “It is with the understanding that they need our help and for us to provide that help we have to be able to operate freely, which in some ways infringes on what some would call full sovereignty.”

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Tuesday that it was important to separate “sovereignty” from “authority.”

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

Radio Interview with Fallujah Eyewitness

April 29th, 2004 - by admin

Pratap Chatterjee / CorpWatch – 2004-04-29 08:00:24

http://play.rbn.com/?url=demnow/demnow/demand/2004/april/audio/dn20040428.ra&proto=rtsp&start=29:55.17

(Fast forward to about 6 min, 30 sec of the 29 min segment.)

Exerpts:

As televised worldwide, this is a very heavy assault with artillery, helicopter gunships, and heavily armed fixed wing aircraft spraying ground with cannon fire, but is not considered a full-scale attack.

Pratap Chatterjee, managing director of CorpWatch.org., just returned from an extended period in Iraq as one of the few independent reporters able to talk to Iraqis. He reports from the outskirts of Falluja on conversations with Iraqis leaving Falluja, often by ambulance for transport to hospitals in Baghdad.

In Baghdad, US forces are entering hospitals and taking the names of hospitalized patients from Falluja and arresting them, so now people are being taken out of hospitals to avoid arrest.

His cameraman in Falluja ,reports that during the “cease-fire” periods, US forces are firing at anyone who steps into the streets. The cameraman witnessed US attacks on a clearly-marked ambulance with sirens going, where Marines shot through the windshield at the driver, and then shot the wheels and engine out.

The military is also shutting down hospitals, in al Karama hospital in Baghdad, Chatterjee talk to a doctor from the main hospital in Najaf, in the south, that the military had shut down.

In every major place the military has attacked, the military has shut down the hospitals. There are make-shift clinics set up, whose patients are mainly women and children. Many people in these areas cannot get medical aid.

In Baghdad, mosques are full of bags of food to support people in both Sunni and Shiite areas under attack in an outpouring of support.

Situation of Hospitals in Baghdad in early April: see
http://wwww.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/0/3241550309cdbc7685256d0200595df0?OpenDocument

Tawnia Queen, International Publications Associate, People’s Health Movement Advocate (U.S. Regional Circle), 1919 Addison St. #304, Berkeley, CA. 94704
phm@hesperian.org

30,000 children will die in the next 24 hours from preventable diseases.
Click www.TheMillionSignatureCampaign.org,
to join a campaign that demands
HEALTH FOR ALL NOW !

 

Whistleblower: Freed but His Life ‘Is at Risk’

April 28th, 2004 - by admin

Reuters/ Straight Times – 2004-04-28 11:06:36

http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/world/story/0,4386,247242,00.html?

ASHKELON (April 21, 2004) Reuters — ‘Die, atomic spy!’ ‘They should have put you up a chimney like the Jews at Auschwitz!’ Hundreds of Israelis went ballistic as Mordechai Vanunu emerged from prison voicing no regrets for exposing the Jewish state’s nuclear secrets.

The heckling mounted against cheers by Vanunu fans who had flocked in from all over the world, reaching a crescendo as the 49-year-old former technician flashed them a V-for-victory sign.

And though the hubbub in Ashkelon died down after Mr Vanunu was whisked away in a car, supporters fear it could foreshadow a very real threat to him as a free man on Israel’s streets. ‘To judge by the mood here and the country in general, I’d say his life is at risk,’ said Mr Issam Mahoul, an Israeli Arab lawmaker.


Israel ‘May Have 300 Nuclear Warheads’
Associated Press

VIENNA (April 21, 2004) — Israel continues to produce atomic weapons and may already have as many as 300 warheads, experts said as Israel on Wednesday released a man imprisoned for 18 years for leaking nuclear secrets.

Mr Friedrich Steinhaeusler, a former employee of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who specialised in nuclear trafficking, said he believes Israel continues to produce nuclear weapons.

Steinhaeusler is now a professor of physics at the University of Salzburg. He said the best estimate of Israel’s weapon cache was 150, but added that the figure had not been verified. With air-, sea- and land-based launching systems, Israel has the Middle East ‘under control’, he said.

Israel neither denies nor confirms that it has nuclear weapons.

At the end of last year, Israel had enough nuclear material to make 100 to 200 weapons, said David Albright, a former Iraq nuclear inspector who runs the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

Even the low-end estimate ‘is huge’ for a country in such a volatile region, Mr Albright said. ‘Israel tends to view any restrictions on its nuclear weapons production very negatively,’ he said.

Noting the uncertainty about Israel’s weapon cache, Mr Avner Cohen, an expert on Israel and nuclear weapons at the Center for International and Security Studies in Maryland, said: ‘There are all kind of estimates, from the upper teens on the lower side to over 300 on the higher side.’

Mr John Simpson, director of the Mountbatten Center of International Studies at Britain’s University of Southampton, estimated the number of weapons Israel holds at no more than 200.

Simpson said his estimate was based on the presumed output of plutonium by a reactor in Dimona, and on the number of tunnels in cliffs from which the weapons could be deployed.

The lack of debate within Israel about the country’s nuclear weapons has created uncertainty about what the purpose of the arsenal is, Mr Simpson added. ‘It is not clear that these issues have been thought through,’ he said.

The release of Mr Mordechai Vanunu on Wednesday, jailed since 1986 for leaking details and pictures of Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons programme, could be the focus point for a debate, said Mr Uzi Even, a former employee of Israel’s nuclear research centre in Dimona and now a professor at the University of Tel Aviv.

IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky declined to comment on Israel, saying his agency has no jurisdiction there. The Vienna agency has said it has no power to look into Israel’s nuclear program because Israel is not party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. IAEA director-general Mohamed El-Baradei has repeatedly called for talks to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.


Bush Says N-armed Iran ‘Intolerable’
Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON — A nuclear-armed Iran will pose an intolerable threat to peace in the Middle East and a mortal danger to Israel, US President George W. Bush said, adding that any such threat would be ‘dealt with’ by the United States and its allies.

In strongly worded remarks before an audience of newspaper editors and publishers on Wednesday, Mr Bush pressed the secretive leadership of the Islamic republic to heed US and European demands not to pursue a nuclear weapons programme.

‘It would be intolerable to peace and stability in the Middle East if they get a nuclear weapon, particularly since their stated objective is the destruction of Israel,’ he said in answer to a question about international cooperation against militant attacks.

‘The development of a nuclear weapon in Iran is intolerable. And a programme is intolerable. Otherwise they will be dealt with, starting through the UN.’

The US accuses Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons programme, but Teheran says its nuclear ambitions are confined to generating electricity. Washington hardliners have been pressing for sanctions by the United Nations against the Islamic state.

French President Jacques Chirac joined in to urge Iran to cooperate ‘in a constructive way’ with European countries and the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Iran last year was severely reprimanded by the IAEA for failing to reveal a full account of its nuclear activities, including its research into second-generation P2 centrifuges that are capable of enriching uranium to weapons grade.

But last December, Teheran bowed to international pressure by signing up to an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, allowing a tougher IAEA probe.

http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/world/story/0,4386,247254,00.html?

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

 

ACTION ALERT: Don’t Destroy Iraq in Order to Liberate It

April 28th, 2004 - by admin

Michael Kieschnick, President, Working Assets – 2004-04-28 10:55:54

http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?itemid=16835

(April 27, 2004) — Heavy fighting has begun again in Fallujah and the Shiite holy city of Najaf. The fighting is likely to be so brutal that we will destroy the cities in order to save them.

And it seems certain that hundreds of American soldiers will die and thousands of Iraqis — both insurgents and civilian bystanders — will die uncounted.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN Special Envoy to Iraq, is hard at work attempting to piece together a coalition government that can take sovereignty from the United States.

He has argued that this is not possible if American troops go on the offensive again. There must be a political solution, and the negotiations now under way must be given sufficient time to succeed.

The attacks on Najaf and Fallujah will serve no one except the most extreme elements, cost lives unnecessarily, and work against the Bush Administration’s stated goal of transferring power to an interim government on June 30th.

” Click here to tell President Bush to stand down the troops and leave Iraq’s holy sites and mosques alone.”

Please forward this newsletter to your friends and help spread the word about this important campaign! Thank you for speaking out on issues that matter. Together we can make a difference.

PLEASE SEND QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS TO: info@actforchange.com.
http://www.actforchange.com

 

US Civilians Stand for Peace in Najaf

April 28th, 2004 - by admin

Mario Galvin / Peace Between People – 2004-04-28 10:55:17

http://www.envirosagainstwar.org/edit/index.php?op=edit&itemid=1378

NAJAF (April 28, 2004) — We are well and safe here, despite fighting on the edge of town the night before last. We are taking precautions for our safety, as there is much talk of an immanent attack on the city, but life seems to be going on. I guess this is “normal” for them. Sad, isn’t it.

It occurs to me that we may be, ironically, in one of the safest places in Iraq… because there are no US forces inside the city. The same was true in Kerbala, I realize.

Places like Baghdad and Fallujah are dangerous precisely because the US is there, and the resistance is attacking them. That makes them nervous and trigger-happy, because they know that they are targets.

Here in Najaf, for example, an American convoy was passing on the edge of town (hard to know the exact limits, as our mobility is limited), and one of the vehicles in the convoy got a flat tire. They pulled over, and a taxi following behind went around to pass them. Soldiers ordered them to stop, but for whatever reason… panic, fear, not understanding the commands… they didn’t. The soldiers opened fire, killing one and wounding the other.

Stories of Callous Brutality
We have heard many stories of callous brutality, ignorance or indifference to local customs, and disproportionate use of force. A reporter yesterday told us “They always use cluster bombs” and told stories (he saw this up in north) of US soldiers firing into a hospital through the doors and windows, killing old people and even nurses in uniform.

There is no time to write more now. We are preparing to confront the US military at their nearest base, which is the campus of a local college, which contains a teaching hospital (with 400 of the 900 beds in Najaf). Here, too, a few days ago, a car pulling up to the hospital (not knowing it had been taken over by the military) was fired on, killing the occupants.

On the way here, leaving Kerbala, we passed another military base and saw a sign that said “Guards will fire without warning.” They really mean it.

We Carry a White Flag: We Want No Surprises
We are counting on our obvious non-Arab appearance, with banners and a white flag, and the presence of media crews, to protect us, and keep their fingers off the trigger.

We have called the hospital, and the CPA office in Baghdad, as well as the local people, so that everyone knows what is going on. We want no surprises, and expect that we will not be shot on sight, as is the case with the local people.

I have to go now, for our final planning meeting. We will post a more comprehensive report and press release later today, I trust, but I wanted to send something, however brief.

Thank you all for your prayers and messages of support and encouragement from around the world. We have not been able to answer all of the messages we have received, but will try. Please be patient. Our spirits are strong; we feel your support, and it strengthens us.

mariogalvan44@hotmail.com

 

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