August 31st, 2005 - by admin
Doctors for Iraq – 2005-08-31 08:32:48
(August 30, 2005) — Doctors for Iraq has received reports from medical staff in Al Qaim hospital, western Iraq that a field clinic in Al Karablaa village situated on the borders of Al Qaim has been bombed.
Two medical staff have been injured in the attack on the field clinic. Hospital staff and eyewitnesses report of many casualties from the military operation on Al Qaim city. Reports are coming in of at least fifty dead including some women and children.
Doctors For Iraq is trying to check and verify this information, which is proving difficult because the military attack is still ongoing.
Doctors For Iraq is deeply concerned about the medical humanitarian situation in the area. Medical staff in Al Qaim report that the electricity supply to the hospital has been cut. Doctors are unable to move inside the area because of the ongoing military operation. The manager of Al Qaim general hospital has closed the hospital temporarily because of the unsafe conditions in the area. Doctors set up a filed clinic in the village of Al Kararblaa, which has been bombed.
Doctors are finding it difficult to reach the areas under attack. Medical personal have told Doctors for Iraq that they fear many casualties are trapped under debris and rubble in the area. Eyewitness say that a missile struck a house in Al Qaim reducing the house to rubble and at least three families are buried under the rubble of the destroyed house.
This attack is the latest in a number of military operations in the west of Iraq in the last few weeks.Doctors For Iraq is calling for the immediate end to military attacks and targeting of civilians and medical staff.
Doctors for Iraq urges the military to preserve medical neutrality and protect medial units and staff against military attacks. Doctors for Iraq is urging humanitarian medical organisations to organise urgent aid to the area.
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US: Air Strikes Kill Seven Insurgents
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Air strikes have flattened insurgent safe houses used by militants linked to al Qaeda in western Iraq, the US Marines told CNN Tuesday. The air attacks near the Syrian border killed at least seven militants, the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force said. A top operative called Abu Islam was among the dead, the force said.
Police in Baghdad reported that 56 civilians were killed in the strikes. They said police contacts in the region told them 40 civilians died in one house and 16 in another. Two children survived, they added.
A US military spokesman said he had no specifics yet on the strike. Lt. Col. Steve Boylan of the Coalition Press Information Center said: “We target only military targets and take precautions on any type of civilian casualties on all of our operations.”
CNN could not independently verify the report of civilian deaths.
The three air strikes were ordered on Husayba and Karabila, near Qaim, after tips were received, officials told CNN. Four 500-pound bombs were dropped on a house outside Husayba in the first raid at 6:20 a.m. (10:20 p.m. Monday ET), a statement said.
Two more bombs were later dropped on a house the Marines said was occupied by Abu Islam.
In the third attack, two bombs were aimed at a house in Karabila where militants sought refuge after the first strike, the statement said.
The attacks were the latest combat in continued hostilities reported in the border region. On Friday, Marine planes pounded a suspected safe house in Husayba where about 50 insurgents were said to be staying, the day after three U.S. soldiers died in a roadside bombing in the town.
US Pilot Killed
A US pilot was killed and a second was wounded when a US helicopter was hit by small-arms fire in northern Iraq, a military spokesman said. The attack on the UH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter came while it was flying over Tal Afar.
The aircraft went down, but the wounded pilot was able to get the helicopter airborne again and left the immediate area.
The number of US troops killed in the Iraq war stands at 1,878.
Violence continues in Iraq as politicians try to move forward with the constitutional process. In separate incidents Monday, gunmen assassinated the brother of the former governor of Baghdad and an official assigned to the Iraqi Elections Commission.
The killings came a day after Iraq’s constitutional committee approved a final draft of the Iraqi constitution and put it before the National Assembly, despite the rejection of Sunni Arab leaders. It will go to the Iraqi people, who will vote by October 15.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
August 31st, 2005 - by admin
Marcello Mega / The Scotsman – 2005-08-31 01:01:45
(August 28, 2005) — A former Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.
The retired officer — of assistant chief constable rank or higher — has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people.
The police chief, whose identity has not yet been revealed, gave the statement to lawyers representing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, currently serving a life sentence in Greenock Prison.
The evidence will form a crucial part of Megrahi’s attempt to have a retrial ordered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). The claims pose a potentially devastating threat to the reputation of the entire Scottish legal system.
The officer, who was a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland, is supporting earlier claims by a former CIA agent that his bosses “wrote the script” to incriminate Libya.
Last night, George Esson, who was Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway when Megrahi was indicted for mass murder, confirmed he was aware of the development.
But Esson, who retired in 1994, questioned the officer’s motives. He said: “Any police officer who believed they had knowledge of any element of fabrication in any criminal case would have a duty to act on that. Failure to do so would call into question their integrity, and I can’t help but question their motive for raising the matter now.”
An Insider with ‘Crucial Information’
Other important questions remain unanswered, such as how the officer learned of the alleged conspiracy and whether he was directly involved in the inquiry. But sources close to Megrahi’s legal team believe they may have finally discovered the evidence that could demolish the case against him.
An insider told Scotland on Sunday that the retired officer approached them after Megrahi’s appeal — before a bench of five Scottish judges — was dismissed in 2002.
The insider said: “He said he believed he had crucial information. A meeting was set up and he gave a statement that supported the long-standing rumours that the key piece of evidence, a fragment of circuit board from a timing device that implicated Libya, had been planted by US agents.
“Asked why he had not come forward before, he admitted he’d been wary of breaking ranks, afraid of being vilified.
“He also said that at the time he became aware of the matter, no one really believed there would ever be a trial. When it did come about, he believed both accused would be acquitted. When Megrahi was convicted, he told himself he’d be cleared at appeal.”
The source added: “When that also failed, he explained he felt he had to come forward.
“He has confirmed that parts of the case were fabricated and that evidence was planted. At first he requested anonymity, but has backed down and will be identified if and when the case returns to the appeal court.”
The vital evidence that linked the bombing of Pan Am 103 to Megrahi was a tiny fragment of circuit board which investigators found in a wooded area many miles from Lockerbie months after the atrocity.
The Mebo Fragment
The fragment was later identified by the FBI’s Thomas Thurman as being part of a sophisticated timer device used to detonate explosives, and manufactured by the Swiss firm Mebo, which supplied it only to Libya and the East German Stasi.
At one time, Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was such a regular visitor to Mebo that he had his own office in the firm’s headquarters.
The fragment of circuit board therefore enabled Libya — and Megrahi — to be placed at the heart of the investigation.
However, Thurman was later unmasked as a fraud who had given false evidence in American murder trials, and it emerged that he had little in the way of scientific qualifications.
CIA Officer Claims Evidence Was Planted
Then, in 2003, a retired CIA officer gave a statement to Megrahi’s lawyers in which he alleged evidence had been planted.
The decision of a former Scottish police chief to back this claim could add enormous weight to what has previously been dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory. It has long been rumoured the fragment was planted to implicate Libya for political reasons.
The first suspects in the case were the Syrian-led Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), a terror group backed by Iranian cash. But the first Gulf War altered diplomatic relations with Middle East nations, and Libya became the pariah state.
Following the trial, legal observers from around the world, including senior United Nations officials, expressed disquiet about the verdict and the conduct of the proceedings at Camp Zeist, Holland.
Those doubts were first fuelled when internal documents emerged from the offices of the US Defence Intelligence Agency. Dated 1994, more than two years after the Libyans were identified to the world as the bombers, they still described the PFLP-GC as the Lockerbie bombers.
A source close to Megrahi’s defence said: “Britain and the US were telling the world it was Libya, but in their private communications they acknowledged that they knew it was the PFLP-GC.
“The case is starting to unravel largely because when they wrote the script, they never expected to have to act it out. Nobody expected agreement for a trial to be reached, but it was, and in preparing a manufactured case, mistakes were made.”
Dr Jim Swire, who has publicly expressed his belief in Megrahi’s innocence, said it was quite right that all relevant information now be put to the SCCRC.
Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the atrocity, said last night: “I am aware that there have been doubts about how some of the evidence in the case came to be presented in court.
“It is in all our interests that areas of doubt are thoroughly examined.”
A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: “As this case is currently being examined by the SCCRC, it would be inappropriate to comment.”
No one from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland was available to comment.
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August 31st, 2005 - by admin
Sorcha Fall / WhatDoesItAllMean.com – 2005-08-31 00:51:49
Super Storm Threatens US Economy as
American President Declares Martial Law
Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Russian Subscribers
RUSSIA (August 29, 2005) — Reports from the United States are showing that their President has declared States of Emergency‚ in many of their Southern Regions in advance of the approach of an unprecedented Super Storm that Russian Scientists estimate will hit the United States with some wind gusts in excess of 200 miles per hour.
The significance to these State of Emergencies being declared, according to Russian Intelligence Analysts, is that the Americans Presidents declaration of Federal Rule (Martial Law) over these regions came before the Governors of those States most affected had requested assistance from their Federal Government as is extremely rare in that country, “In the United States, the chief executive is typically empowered to declare a State of Emergency.
The President of the United States, a governor of a state, or even a local mayor may declare a State of Emergency within his or her jurisdiction. This is relatively rare at the federal level, but quite common at the state level in response to natural disasters.”
According to Russian Meteorologists about this Super Storm there is no better word to describe it other than Unprecedented‚ due to its massive size and rapidly growing powers of destruction, and as we can read as reported by the Associated Press News Service in their article titled “Katrina bulks up to become a perfect storm” and which says;
“Katrina could turn out to be the perfect hurricane, much to the dismay of south Louisiana residents.
“I don’t remember seeing conditions as favorable as this for a strengthening hurricane for a long time,” National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said Saturday.
He was referring to a unique combination of physical and meteorological conditions that are expected to cause Katrina to spin up to Category 4 or 5 strength, like a top accelerates when you pull its string. The northern Gulf of Mexico is unusually warm, rising past 85 degrees this year. And while that could, in part, be due to less cool freshwater entering the Gulf from the Mississippi River, National Hurricane Center meteorologist Eric Blake said it’s more likely the result of relentless high temperatures in recent weeks along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast.
That warmth extends more than 200 feet deep in one area in advance of Katrina, thanks to a donut-shaped pool of hot water called the loop current, which breaks off from the Gulf Stream and floats around the Gulf each year. The warm water acts like a flame, heating the atmosphere above it. In this case, that atmosphere already has formed into the circular system of thunderstorms that make up a hurricane.
Above the storm circle, an upper-level high-pressure system helps squeeze out the rising hot air, a process called outflow, which increases the wind speeds and keeps the storm healthy.”
Martial Law and Oil Refineries
The main reason for the American President declaring Martial Law in these Regions, according to these reports, lie in their strategic value to the United States, as major destruction in these areas could deal a death blow‚ to the American economy due to its dependence upon oil.
The Louisiana Region alone accounts not only for the greater amount of the United States Oil Economy (pipelines, refineries, Gulf of Mexico oil production) but also contains parts of the Strategic Reserves of the United States, and as we can read as reported by the US Department of Energy:
“Louisiana is a major oil producing state with abundant crude oil reserves, ranking 5th in production and 8th in reserves. Petroleum infrastructure is extensive with a large network of crude oil, product, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) pipelines and storage facilities. Louisiana is also home to two of the four Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) storage facilities: West Hackberry in Cameron Parish and Bayou Choctaw in Iberville Parish, Louisiana.
Other infrastructure include 17 petroleum refineries with a combined crude oil distillation capacity of nearly 2.8 million barrels per calendar day, the second highest in the nation after Texas. Louisiana has numerous ports including the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which is capable of receiving ultra large oil tankers. Natural gas and electricity dominate the home heating market with similar market shares totaling about 47 percent each.”
The destruction of this Region, and its importance to the American Oil Economy, cannot be minimized as these losses represent nearly 20% of their daily capacity, and with no resources available to make up for this massive loss, and as we can read as reported by the US Department of Energy:
“While some refineries have closed, and no new refineries have been built in nearly 30 years, many existing refineries have expanded their capacities.
As a result of capacity creep,” whereby existing refineries create additional refining capacity from the same physical structure, capacity per operating refinery increased by 28% over the 1990 to 1998 period, for example.
Overall, since the mid-1990s, US refinery capacity has increased from 15.0 million bbl/d [barrels per day] in 1994 to 16.9 million bbl/d in September 2004. Also in September 2004, utilization of operating capacity at U.S. refineries was averaging around 90%, down from 97% in July and August.”
Global Weather Break-down
The vast uncertainty created by the breakdown of our worlds weather systems have prompted much speculation among the Western peoples, and as we can see as evidenced by the British Heralds News Service article titled “Bizarre season of heat, hail and floods” and which says, “Floods sweep Romania, hailstones the size of walnuts batter Switzerland, drought-stricken France dreads a plague of locusts, while Spain and Portugal are burning up. A vision of the start of the Apocalypse? No, just Europe’s bizarre weather pattern over the past couple of days.”
But more closely to the truth was this British writer by his use of the word Apocalypse, as if seen in its totality it is what our whole world is facing these days due our planets complete weather system breakdown.
Eerily coincidental with these events are the reports that the sounds of our world literally ripping apart have been heard by scientists, and as we can read as reported by the CNN News Service in their article titled “Quake sounds reveal Earth ‘ripping apart” and which says;
“Scientists are gaining insight about December’s devastating earthquake and tsunami from the actual sounds of the magnitude 9.3 quake in the Indian Ocean. “It’s really quite an eerie sound to hear the Earth ripping apart like that. We hear it on smaller earthquakes quite frequently but something of this scale that goes on for eight minutes is very much unprecedented,” said Maya Tolstoy, a marine geophysicist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.”It really gave me the chills when I first heard it,” she said.”
Tonight as the prayers of the World go towards these American people during this most trying of times, it does not pass our notice that with each cataclysmic strike against them, more of them are beginning to awaken to the truth that “all is connected‚” that no life on this Earth exists apart, or alone, but together we all live and breathe the same air, look towards the same sun and in times such as these share the agonies of our fellow human beings.
• [Note: This report should be read from its website location at
http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index810.htm as this email copy does not
contain the links embedded in the original report.]
Decent Into Hell:
Army Retreats as Martial Law Fails to Halt Chaos and Armed Mobs
Sorcha Faal, as reported to her Russian Subscribers
(August 31, 2005) — Russian Intelligence reports are stating this morning that the grave situation developing in the American City of New Orleans can only be described as a “Decent Into Hell” as to this hour over 50,000 human beings of this once-great American City remain trapped by rising flood waters with no means for their Government to evacuate all of them.
With no resources available for food, water, shelter, or evacuation, the masses of these peoples have become one of the largest unruly mobs in modern history, and with no police or military forces able to contain them they are presently running rampant throughout what remains of this city in what these reports describe as frantic acts for survival.
Numerous gun battles between portions of these Œmobs‚ and police forces yesterday had caused their Military Authorities to completely leave this city and declare a State of Martial Law. FSB reports state that many of these gun battles were the result of drug addicts breaking into a large pharmaceutical establishment because of these drug addicts needing drugs to keep from suffering withdrawals.
These FSB reports further state that this city has broken down into complete “mob rule” with many innocent civilians shot and Œnumerous‚ dead bodies lying in the streets.
To the greater issue however is that the American people are viewing for the first time, in many of their memories, what the limitations of State power really are. Only by the deception of words is any government, of any kind, been able to exercise tyrannical authority over their citizens. To the citizens of New Orleans, and among their poorest, who have been left behind and cut off from their normal daily functions, the fallacy of any government being able to control the masses of its citizens is laid completely bare.
Being kept from these American people also by their Military Rulers have been the uncounted offers of assistance from Nations all around the world, including:
• Venezuela has offered their Medical Airlift Command for the evacuation of peoples trapped in these devastated regions;
• Holland has offered the resources of their Public Works Ministry (and who are the acknowledged World Experts for below sea level water evacuation procedures);
• Russia has offered over 100,000 temporary living structures, along with Military Personal to assist their American counterparts;
• Iran has offered 1 Billion US Dollars in immediate assistance and guaranteed 5,000,000 barrels of oil at $35.00 US Dollars;
• China has offered their Military Rescue Forces (Who are acknowledged as one of the best in the world for rescuing peoples in flood ravaged areas.)
All of these offers, and more, the Military Leaders of the United States have declined, and for the their reason they have stated: “The United States Government and its People Respectfully Decline your offer of assistance and refer you to our previous State Department Bulletin (NCO:13788) in which we had stated that this remains an internal action.”
This morning remains one of the most critical times in the history of these once great people in America. Only through such unprecedented cataclysms such as they are currently experiencing are they able to break through the lies and distortions of their Military Leaders and Propaganda Media Organs to see, even glimpse, the wholesale lies they are told in order to keep them in a pacified state.
But sadly, and as the events of September 11, 2001 clearly show, the mass of these Americans are willing to believe any and all lies they are told, no matter how absurd, as long as they can be left with the illusion that their lives today will continue into their tomorrows.
How sad it is for them to see their world in these terms, but it remains a fact that this is indeed the only way they can cope with a world disintegrating around them.
• [Ed. Note: This report should be read from its website location at
as this email copy does not contain the links embedded in the original report.]
EU and US all rights reserved. Sorcha Faal email@example.com
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
August 31st, 2005 - by admin
Alastair MacDonald / Reuters – 2005-08-31 00:27:49
BAGHDAD (August 29, 2005) — Reuters demanded the immediate release on Monday of an Iraqi cameraman who was still being held by US forces more than 24 hours after being wounded in an incident in which his soundman was killed.
Iraqi police said the news team was shot by US soldiers.
The US military said it was still investigating and refused to say what questions it was putting to cameraman Haider Kadhem. It would not say where in Baghdad he was held nor identify the unit holding him.
“Reuters demands the immediate release of Haider Kadhem,” Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger said.
“We fail to understand what reason there can be for his continued detention more than a day after he was the innocent victim of an incident in which his colleague was killed.”
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Whetstone, a military spokesman, said: “He is being questioned by our investigating officer.”
He said there were “inconsistencies” in Kadhem’s statements and officers were looking into “events that led up to the incident”. No military investigator, however, had contacted Reuters, whose senior staff offered a full account of the assignment on which they dispatched the journalists shortly before they were shot.
Soundman Waleed Khaled was buried on Monday after he was hit several times in the head and chest while driving his car, an ordinary passenger vehicle, on the assignment in western Baghdad. Kadhem was wounded in the back. Whetstone said the wound was “superficial” and he had been treated “on location”.
Kadhem, a 24-year-old cameraman based in the southern city of Samawa, had been in Baghdad only since Friday to train and to reinforce the Reuters news crews in the capital.
He was dispatched to the Hay al-Adil district, where he was shot, after a police source called Reuters to report an incident involving police and gunmen in that area.
Waleed Khaled, 35, was a veteran of reporting the conflict on the streets of Baghdad and had been a popular and jovial presence in the Reuters bureau for two years.
Distraught family, colleagues and friends, numbering some 200, attended his funeral in the west of the city.
The official Iraqi police report said US troops opened fire on the Reuters journalists.
Kadhem told colleagues who were briefly detained with him at the scene: “I heard shooting, looked up and saw an American sniper on the roof of the shopping centre.”
A US statement said: “Task Force Baghdad units responded to a terrorist attack on an Iraqi Police convoy … which killed and wounded several Iraqi Police. One civilian was killed and another was wounded by small-arms fire during the attack.”
Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based media rights group, called the shooting “extremely disturbing” and said the Reuters soundman was the 66th journalist or media assistant killed in Iraq since the invasion of 2003, three more than died in 20 years in Vietnam.
“Our outrage is compounded by the fact that they arrested Kadhem, the only eyewitness, who was himself injured,” it said.
Two Reuters cameramen have been killed by US troops in Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. A third was shot dead by a sniper in Ramadi last November in circumstances for which Reuters is still seeking an explanation from US forces.
Reuters’ cameraman in the city of Ramadi, Ali al-Mashhadani, was arrested by US forces three weeks ago and is being held without charge in Abu Ghraib prison. US military officials have said he will face a judicial hearing shortly but have still given no access to the journalist or said what he is accused of.
A military spokesman said the hearing was “probably” taking place on Monday at a secret location in Baghdad. No access was available for an attorney or any other interested party.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
August 29th, 2005 - by admin
Jason Miller / CivilLibertarian – 2005-08-29 23:55:48
Waking up to Discover Your Soul is Missing…. the Ultimate Nightmare
“You’re spiritually empty, you know. Your life is out of spinning out of control. I see a bleak future if you don’t.”
“What the hell are you talking about? As powerful and successful as I am? I believe in Jesus, I read the Bible, I go to church on Sunday…..”
“Hey, hey, hey! Save the defensive diatribe. You came to me for help, remember? If you really want me to sponsor you, I need for you to be honest, with me and with you. Remember, awareness is the first step and “da-Nile” ain’t just a river in Egypt!”
“I don’t even know why I came here. This is a waste of my valuable time. I have more pressing engagements, and I am leaving!”
“Go ahead. Perhaps you just aren’t ready. But remember, by denying you have a problem and walking out that door, you are proving you have a problem. Denial and the “self will run-riot” are two obvious signs of an addict.”
“All right, all right! It is true. I have problems that I can’t fix on my own.”
“It’s good to hear you admit that. Awareness is the first step. I think you may be ready to join our group.”
“All right, maybe I am. So now what do I do?”
“We’ll join the discussion and you can introduce yourself like the others do. Then you can tell your story. Trust me. You will feel a rush of tremendous relief once you open up to the group and start a real spiritual journey.”
“Who will be there?”
“The world community. Not one of us is above reproach Each of us has suffered from spiritual maladies like you By coming here today, you are taking the crucial first step that many of us did. You will be joining the world community and moving toward spiritual healing. Now let’s sit down. You will be surprised at how readily the group will embrace and support you.”
Mustering the Courage to Take that First Step
(The two seat themselves in the crowded room filled with the pungent odors of cigarette smoke and coffee).
“Is it my turn to talk?”
“Yes, America. Go ahead.”
“My name is America, and I am an addict.”
(In a chorus of replies in varying languages, the group welcomes America)
“I am addicted to power, over-consumption, imperialism, deceit, avarice, hubris, and war. Like a spoiled child with a self-will run amuck, I have tried to force each of you to bend to my will. My life has become unmanageable, I am powerless over my additions. I am prepared to turn my will over to a Power greater than myself and allow that Power to restore me to sanity. The fact that I am speaking to you in English and expecting all of you to understand me shows how deep my arrogance runs. I come before you today with a broken spirit. I have grossly abused my immense power, and for that I am sorry. That is all I wish to say today. Thank you.”
(The other members of the group thank America for speaking)
By the Sweat of my Brow
Nine months pass, and America, supported by its sponsor, works the Twelve Steps with a powerful determination. It is a long and arduous path, but America adheres to its deep conviction to follow a course of spiritual redemption and fulfillment. Surprisingly, many of the numerous nations and people America has harmed over the years respond in a forgiving and supportive manner. Let’s listen in at the Twelve Step meeting in which America gives a detailed accounting of its spiritual awakening.
“My name is America, and I am an addict.”
(America is met by a chorus of welcome from the other nations comprising the Twelve Step group)
“I stand before you with nine months of sobriety and mental clarity under my belt, and I thank my Higher Power for granting me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage the change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I thank those of you who have offered me guidance and support along the way.
“As I embarked on my spiritual transformation, I realized what a cancer I had become to humanity. To remedy this, I have shed my obsession with being number one, and I have embraced a belief in a Power greater than myself. My Higher Power is a composite of Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, and many others. In fact, my Higher Power is amorphous, and those amongst my people who remain atheist embrace science or reason as their Higher Powers.
Regardless of its form, the Higher Power I have chosn to embrace espouses the values of non-violence, thrift, honesty, responsible use of power, equality, compassion, critical thinking, careful scrutiny and evaluation of evidence, preservation of our environment, a distribution of resources that provides for the well-being of virtually all human beings, respect for human rights and dignity, and participation in the global community.
Wow! When I look at the values of my Higher Power, I see how obscenely misguided I was! Before my spiritual transformation, adherence to these principles would have been utterly laughable, as all of you know.
“Having fulfilled Steps One, Two and Three by admitting my powerlessness, finding faith in a Higher Power to restore me to sanity, and turning my will over to the care of my Higher Power, I fulfilled the harrowing task of Step Four; I made my searching and fearless moral inventory. Afterwards, the visage peering back at me in the mirror was more foul than the picture of Dorian Gray. My corruption and moral turpitude had wrought an odious image, and at that point, I knew the meaning of the notion that the “truth hurts”.
“Today I am going to engage in Step Five as I admit to the God of my understanding, myself and to others the exact nature of my wrongs. I need to take a deep breath before I get started, and I need some water.”
(America sighs deeply and, with a trembling hand, takes a long sip of ice-water to help regain composure).
“Here I go. I wrote my transgressions out and numbered them. I am going to read them to you. Please bear with me as my voice cracks and I shed an occasional tear:
(In a tone of uncertainty, America begins reading the carefully prepared self-indictment)
1. I nearly exterminated the indigenous people of North America, as I committed acts of genocide and stole their land. To this day I continue to treat Native Americans in a shameful manner.
2. I imported and enslaved human beings from the continent of Africa, and I built a thriving economy with their blood, sweat, and tears. It is with deep humiliation that I admit the vile depths to which I sank in perpetuating the evil institution of slavery. Black Americans struggle to this day with gross economic inequality, inferior public education, bigotry, lack of access to quality health care, persecution by the criminal justice system, and inadequate representation in the government.
(America pauses briefly for a few more deep breaths and another drink).
“Ok, I am ready to continue,” America says with a growing resolve behind the tremulous voice.
3. Hispanics became my largest minority as immigrants streamed across my borders seeking economic opportunities and shelter from oppressive regimes I had created in Latin America. Without stopping to realize that integrating into a culture and learning a foreign language do not happen overnight, and that many of these new Americans were willing to do the work that many indigenous Americans were unwilling to do, I was indifferent to their needs and met them with bigotry. I even allowed armed vigilantes (who defiled the name of Revolutionary War heroes by calling themselves Minutemen) to patrol my borders to “curb illegal immigration”.
4. I allowed and even openly endorsed an ongoing repression of gay rights. I banned gay marriage in many states and refused to pass hate crime laws to protect gays from savage attacks and murder. I also chose not to protect gays from discrimination in the work place. Simply put, I left 5% of my population unprotected by the rights guaranteed to my citizens under my Constitution.
5. It took me, the bastion of freedom, until 1920 to amend my Constitution to give women the right to vote. To this day I continue to reject an amendment which would guarantee women equal rights. While women enjoy many more rights today than they have throughout my history, they still face many barriers in access to equal education and employment. Women are still grossly under-represented in my government.
6. After a respite of about fifty years during the Twentieth Century, I resumed a laissez faire business environment. Union membership fell to 9% of the work force. Avaricious titans like Wal-Mart abused their employees and paid them sub-standard wages. Energy leviathans like Exxon reaped obscene profits at the expense of the American consumer by keeping oil refinery capacity low, and by pouring large sums of cash into think tanks which created propaganda to further their agendas. The restrictions on the securities and banking industries innovated after the stock market crash in 1929 were removed. I made it more difficult for consumers to sue corporations and businesses. I kept the minimum wage at sub poverty level for years. In short, I favored profit-making and money over human beings. I stand before you in ignominy.
(America again pauses to regain composure, still surprised at the audience’s empathy).
7. My foreign policy was based on pursuit of hegemony and global domination, at any cost. Perhaps more nauseating than the policy itself was the way in which I peddled its virtues to my own people (and to the rest of the world) like an uscrupulous used car salesman. As I committed war crimes, repeatedly violated international law, ignored the UN, killed millions of innocents in many countries on multiple continents, and tortured prisoners of war, I worked vigorously to persuade the world that I was “spreading freedom” and “planting the flag of liberty”.
In Nagasaki and Hiroshima, I killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians in an unnecessary show of force against a nation on the verge of surrender. I have supported corrupt and ruthless dictators (many of whom tortured and killed thousands of their own people) like Saddam Hussein, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, Halie Salassie, General Augusto Pinochet, and both Somozas in Nicaragua (to name but a few).
With an unparalleled zeal, I pursued the Bush Doctrine, which called for me to strike pre-emptively and unilaterally, and to do whatever it took to maintain my military dominance. I invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq (in defiance of the UN) to topple Hussein, a former ally whom I had supported while he was committing acts of genocide against the Kurds in the 1980’s. My pretexts for the invasion were later exposed as lies. My dishonesty, war crimes, and gross miscalculations related to Iraq resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, thereby creating an untold number of new terrorists ready to retaliate by gutting my own citizens like fish. My perverse actions in Iraq also led to the death of two thousand of my own soldiers, who had agreed to lay their lives on the line to defend a nation, not to expand an empire.
8. I created a complicated network of corporations and business entities like Bechtel, Halliburton, the Carlyle Group, and Lockheed Martin, whose bottom-line profits were significantly fattened by the existence of a perpetual state of war. Many of their executives retired to become members of government and vice versa. Huge campaign donations and powerful lobbying efforts ensured the continuation of lucrative government defense contracts to feed this entity called the military industrial complex.
When the “Communists” ceased to be a viable threat in the minds of my citizens (with the collapse of the Soviet Union), I needed a new enemy to justify the continued escalation of military spending. Opportunistically, I seized 9/11 as the advent of a “War on Terror”. By 2005, military spending had reached $600 billion (including expenditures for military-related endeavors by non-military government entities like the DOE). While I represented only 5% of the world’s population, the money I spent on defense equaled 50% of what the entire world spent to defend themselves. It was staggering to realize how distorted this situation really was.
9. I even had a proxy state to help me carry out my war crimes. Ignoring the fact that there was room for co-existence in the Middle East, I threw the full weight of my financial and military support behind Israel, my co-conspirator in engaging in state terrorism. Ignoring the plight of the Palestinians, it was easy to look the other way when the Israeli government committed atrocities against them. In fact, I even endorsed these acts of state terrorism against the Palestinians as justified acts of self defense. However, when the Palestinians retaliated, I cried foul and labeled them as terrorists. My hypocrisy was practically without bounds.
10. As I slopped the corporate hogs dipping their snouts into the trough of the military industrial complex, I used the “War on Terror” I had created to justify siphoning funds from the “socialistic welfare state” to stuff the pockets of my corporate cronies. Along the way, I bankrupted myself by accruing a debt of $8 trillion, which gave me further justification to seriously curtail or end the “handouts” to the “lazy masses”.
The wealth gap widened to a chasm as the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few grew to a level unseen since the “Roaring 20’s”, the precursor to the Great Depression. I raised regressive taxes and lowered progressive taxes. I was addicted to wealth, power and war. I just couldn’t get enough, and I didn’t care who got hurt or died along the way.
11. Through my corporate-dominated media, I deluded my people into believing that I was Gary Cooper in High Noon, and that I could do no wrong as the sheriff who would make the world safe for democracy. I used the media as a means of propaganda to glorify over-consumption, violence, and immediate gratification. I became a debtor nation of people who felt compelled to have more, bigger, better and faster. Right now.
I desensitized my people to the plight of human suffering here and abroad. I promoted religious fanatics like Pat Robertson who were as inflammatory and dangerous as the Islamic mullahs I cursed. I glorified unrealistic ideals of financial success, fame, and physical attractiveness to the point that those who did not “fit the mold” often experienced depression and eating disorders. Fast food, easy bucks, quick weight loss, and instant salvation (for a free ticket to heaven, accept Christ as one’s savior) became “spiritual” staples of my people.
12. I acted with a growing disregard for the state of the environment. I refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty and denied the reality of Global Warming as I produced 25% of the greenhouse gasses. I relaxed clean air and water laws. I allowed my friends in the oil industry to portray Global Warming as a myth and to impede development of energy sources as an alternative to fossil fuels. The concession I finally made to the need to lessen dependence on fossil fuels was to increase the production of nuclear energy, despite its inherent dangers to humanity and the environment.
“Looking over this moral inventory, I now realize the depth of my iniquity, and I feel deeply sorry to those I have harmed along the way. Words cannot express the anguish I feel for the damage I have wrought upon the world.”
(America pauses and sobs fitfully for several minutes. His peers watch and wait with patience and respect, knowing that regardless of America’s crimes in the past, a spiritually enlightened America has the capacity to make the world a much better place. They also recognize that they are not without sin either, and are still on the life-long road to redemption themselves).
(Having regained a semblance of composure, America speaks again)
“I am ready to continue now. Having fulfilled the Fifth Step by admitting the exact nature of my wrongs to you, I am now ready to have the Higher Power of my understanding remove these defects of character, which means I have also accomplished Step Six. As I stand before you, I will take Step Seven and humbly ask Him to remove my shortcomings. Higher Power, I humbly ask you to remove my shortcomings.”
How Will America Repay its Debt to the World?
“As you know, Steps Eight and Nine involve listing those I have harmed and making amends to them. The list of those I have harmed over my 229 year life span would be too long to enumerate here, but I will tell you how I plan to make amends:
“I will start by disbanding the military industrial complex. I need to end the incestuous relationship between my government and its defense contractors. I will stop the obscene over-spending on defense in order to start paying down my atrociously high debt, and to infuse more money into humanitarian efforts within my borders and abroad.
I will bolster my public education system, find ways for all of my people to access health care, work toward ending homelessness, increase funding to assist the disabled and those with emotional disorders, and significantly increase humanitarian aid to other nations, while seeing to it that the money is channeled toward teaching them to fish rather than simply giving them fish for the day. I also pledge to take up the cause of the formation of a sovereign Palestinian state, and to utilize my power in the United Nations to better the world rather than abusing it to further my self interests.
“I will end my colonial occupation of sovereign nations like Iraq and abandon my imperialistic designs spelled out in the Bush Doctrine and Project for the New American Century. I will begin a systematic closing of my military bases around the world. If other nations do not have the right to maintain military bases on my soil, I have no right to maintain bases on their soil. I will scrap my plans for the militarization of space. I will work toward multi-lateral nuclear disarmament across the globe. While my defense spending will diminish dramatically, I still recognize the need for a reasonable military force to defend my people, and will provide one.
(America is forced to pause as listeners drown out America’s discourse with their enthusiastic applause).
I will make reparations to black Americans a reality by channeling significant amounts of money previously spent on defense toward improving education in the inner city schools which have predominantly black enrollment, offering educational assistance and job training to black adults, and finding ways to deliver adequate health care and employment opportunities to black Americans. Descendents of former slaves, black Americans still face many obstacles resulting from years of bondage, abuse, and dehumanization of their race.
I will end the corrupt stranglehold of the Duopoly of the Democratic and Republican Parties and legitimately open the playing fields to candidates from other parties. I will employ Clean Money, Clean Elections reform, which will distribute equal amounts of public money to qualified candidates, and will end the corruption resulting from lobbyists and corporate interests gaining undue influence over elected officials
Fraudulent elections like those in 2000 and 2004 will be banished to the dustbin of history as I implement election laws to prevent the Katherine Harris’s and the Diebolds of my nation from determining presidential election outcomes. These will be important steps toward creating a healthy republic based on my Constitution, an ingenious blueprint for government without equal.
I will finally admit that the War on Drugs has been a sham, used to justify military intervention in countries like Colombia and to stock the prison industrial complex (another of my corrupt, incestuous government/corporate relationships) with slave labor from amongst the poor and minorities. Prohibition failed, and so has the War on Drugs.
I am calling a ceas- fire in this war, and will divert funds from law enforcement and use them to educate children about the inherent dangers of using tobacco, alcohol, and other recreational drugs, and for programs to treat addicts. Draconian laws which send non-violent drug users to prison for possession of small amounts of illegal drugs will be abolished. Harsh laws and consequences for driving under the influence will remain on the books.
I am going to re-strengthen laws to regulate businesses so that I can strike a balance between raw capitalism and socialism. History has taught me that unregulated businesses will seek to maximize profit, regardless of the human cost. Organized labor plays a valuable role in protecting the rights of my working people, and its members will again enjoy many of the legal protections which I have stripped from them over the last thirty years. Alternatively, I have also learned the folly of over-regulating corporations to the point that they are unable to make a reasonable profit. My new paradigm will involve finding a middle ground so that business and humanity can thrive harmoniously.
The passage of the ERA and a constitutional amendment ensuring gay rights will become realities. The Voting Rights Act will become a permanent federal law to ensure that minorities are not denied their fundamental Constitutional right to vote in my elections. I will aggressively work to help the growing Hispanic population integrate into my society without discriminating against them, or demanding that they know English on the day of their arrival. I will disband the Minutemen.
Finally, I will work to become a cooperative member of the world community rather than the belligerent bully I have been. Working through the public education system (teaching my children), I am going to infuse my people with a respect and understanding of other cultures and nations. Unilateral foreign policy decision-making will be history, except in matters of self-defense.
Under my new system of values, the dominance of the white patriarchy will end. I am a homogenous melting pot of immigrants from around the globe. This is one of my strengths, and I will maximize it by opening doors to wider participation by members of varying races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, cultures, and nationalities. Being white, male and Christian will no longer be a prerequisite to rise to the top of hierarchies amongst my people, government and organizations.
In this way, my ties with the world community will strengthen, and much of the global hatred for me will subside. With a renewed spirit of cooperation, I will be able to tenaciously pursue the truly noble causes of peace and social justice. Cindy Sheehan will feel proud of her nation once again.
(America sits down to a round of thunderous applause and humbly thanks the group for its support).
Roll up Your Sleeves and Get Busy
Several days pass, and America’s Twelve Step sponsor again initiates a conversation with the spiritually renewed nation: “So America, you set some lofty goals for yourself. Do you think you can reach them?
“I have prayed and meditated for the will and the power to carry out my amends to those I have harmed. That was my Eleventh Step. It is now up to me to do the work, but the outcome rests in the hands of my Higher Power.”
“I do believe you have reached the Twelfth Step. America, you have truly had a spiritual awakening and are ready to practice these principles in all your affairs. I wish you the best. Remember, humanity is counting on you!”
Jason Miller is a 38 year old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts. He works in the transportation industry, and is a husband and a father to three boys. His affiliations include Amnesty International, the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org or comments on his blog at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.
August 29th, 2005 - by admin
Dave Lindorff / In These Times – 2005-08-29 23:55:17
(August 25, 2005) — Gerard Matthew thought he was lucky. He returned from his Iraq tour a year and a half ago alive and in one piece. But after the New York State National Guardsman got home, he learned that a bunkmate, Sgt. Ray Ramos, and a group of N.Y. Guard members from another unit had accepted an offer by the New York Daily News and reporter Juan Gonzalez to be tested for depleted uranium (DU) contamination, and had tested positive.
Matthew, 31, decided that since he’d spent much of his time in Iraq lugging around DU-damaged equipment, he’d better get tested too. It turned out he was the most contaminated of them all.
Matthew immediately urged his wife to get an ultrasound check of their unborn baby. They discovered the fetus had a condition common to those with radioactive exposure: atypical syndactyly. The right hand had only two digits.
So far Victoria Claudette, now 13 months old, shows no other genetic disorders and is healthy, but Matthew feels guilty for causing her deformity and angry at a government that never warned him about DU’s dangers.
US forces first used DU in the 1991 Gulf War, when some 300 tons of depleted uranium — the waste product of nuclear power plants and weapons facilities — were used in tank shells and shells fired by A-10 jets. A lesser amount was deployed by US and NATO forces during the Balkans conflict.
But in the current wars in Afghanistan and, especially, Iraq, DU has become the weapon of choice, with more than 1,000 tons used in Afghanistan and more than 3,000 tons used in Iraq. And while DU was fired mostly in the desert during the Gulf War, in the current war in Iraq, most of DU munitions are exploding in populated urban areas.
The Pentagon has expanded DU beyond tank and A-10 shells, for use in bunker-busting bombs, which can spew out more than half a ton of DU in one explosion, in anti-personnel bomblets, and even in M-16 and pistol shells. The military loves DU for its unique penetration capability – it cuts through steel or concrete like they’re butter.
The problem is that when DU hits its target, it burns at a high temperature, throwing off clouds of microscopic particles that poison a wide area and remain radioactive for billions of years. If inhaled, these particles can lodge in lungs, other organs or bones, irradiating tissue and causing cancers.
Worse yet, uranium is also a highly toxic heavy metal. Indeed, while there is some debate over the risk posed by the element’s radioactive emissions, there is no debate regarding its chemical toxicity. According to Mt. Sinai pathologist Thomas Fasey, who participated in the New York Guard unit testing, the element has an affinity for bonding with DNA, where even trace amounts can cause cancers and fetal abnormalities.
Dr. Doug Rokke, a health physicist at the University of Illinois who headed up a Pentagon study of depleted uranium weapons in the mid ’90s after concerns were raised during the Gulf War, concluded there was no safe way to use the weapons. Rokke says the Pentagon responded by denouncing him, after earlier commending his work.
No one knows how many US soldiers have been contaminated by DU residue. Despite regulations authorizing tests for any military personnel who suspects exposure, the US military is avoiding doing those tests – or delaying them until they are meaningless.
“When we asked to be tested at Ft. Dix, they wrongly told us we didn’t have to worry unless we had DU fragments in our body,” says Matthew. His buddy, Sgt. Ramos, who exhibits symptoms resembling radiation sickness and heavy metal poisoning, adds that at Walter Reed Medical Center he was grilled for hours about why he wanted to be tested and was then branded a troublemaker by his own unit. Matthew says Walter Reed “lost” his sample.
At the war’s start, the United States refused to allow UN or other environmental inspectors to test DU levels within Iraq. Now the United Nations won’t even go near Iraq because of security concerns.
“It doesn’t seem right that we are poisoning the places we are supposed to be liberating,” Ramos says.
The Pentagon continues to insist, on the basis of no field evidence, that DU is safe. To date, only some 270 returned troops have been tested for DU contamination by the military and Veterans Affairs. But even those tests, mostly urine samples, are useless 30 days after exposure, because by that time most of the DU has left the body or migrated into bones or organs.
Gonzalez and the Daily News paid for costlier tests for nine Guardsmen — tests that could pinpoint uranium inside the body and identify the special isotope signature of man-made DU. Four of the nine tested positive for DU; all had symptoms of uranium poisoning.
Even harder evidence may soon arrive. Connecticut State Representative Pat Dillon (D-New Haven), a Yale-trained epidemiologist, has crafted state-level legislation that Connecticut and Louisiana have unanimously passed, authorizing returned National Guard troops to request and receive specialized DU contamination tests at the Pentagon’s expense. This approach bypasses the Pentagon’s feet-dragging because National Guard troops fall under state, rather than federal, jurisdiction.
“This was not a Democratic or a Republican issue,” Dillon says. “These are our kids and someone needs to protect them.” She says that since passage of her bill, which takes effect this October, military groups and family organizations, state legislators, and even National Guard unit commanders have contacted her for copies of her bill to promote in their states.
Bob Smith, a veteran in Louisiana who got hold of Dillon’s bill and spearheaded a successful effort to pass similar legislation in Louisiana, claims that 14 to 20 other states are considering similar measures.
If enough Guard troops avail themselves of the testing — and start testing positive for contamination — it seems likely that reservists and active duty troops and veterans will demand similar access to rigorous tests, which can cost upwards of $1000 per person.
One way or another, the Pentagon will pay a price. “DU is a war crime. It’s that simple,” Rokke says. “Once you’ve scattered all this stuff around, and then refuse to clean it up, you’ve committed a war crime.”
© 2005 The Ecological Options Network
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code for noncommercial, educational purposes.
August 29th, 2005 - by admin
Martin Bright / The Observer UK – 2005-08-29 23:41:47
(28 August 2005) — The Foreign Office’s top official warned Downing Street that the Iraq war was fuelling Muslim extremism in Britain a year before the 7 July bombings, The Observer can reveal.
Despite repeated denials by Number 10 that the war made Britain a target for terrorists, a letter from Michael Jay, the Foreign Office permanent under-secretary, to the cabinet secretary, Sir Andrew Turnbull — obtained by this newspaper — makes the connection clear.
The letter, dated 18 May 2004, says British foreign policy was a ‘recurring theme’ in the Muslim community, ‘especially in the context of the Middle East peace process and Iraq’.
‘Colleagues have flagged up some of the potential underlying causes of extremism that can affect the Muslim community, such as discrimination, disadvantage and exclusion,’ the letter says. ‘But another recurring theme is the issue of British foreign policy, especially in the context of the Middle East peace process and Iraq.
‘Experience of both ministers and officials … suggests that … British foreign policy and the perception of its negative effect on Muslims globally plays a significant role in creating a feeling of anger and impotence among especially the younger generation of British Muslims.’
The letter continues: ‘This seems to be a key driver behind recruitment by extremist organisations (e.g. recruitment drives by groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir and al Muhajiroon). The FCO has a relevant and crucial role to play in the wider context of engagement with British Muslims on policy issues, and more broadly, in convincing young Muslims that they have a legitimate and credible voice, including on foreign policy issues, through an active participation in the democratic process.’
Al Muhajiroon, formed by Omar Bakri Mohammed, the radical preacher who fled Britain after the 7 July bombings, was a recruiting organisation for young Islamic extremists in Britain.
Attached to the letter is a strategy document, also obtained by The Observer, which reveals further concerns. It says Britain is now viewed as a ‘crusader state’, on a par with America as a potential target. ‘Muslim resentment towards the West is worse than ever,’ the document, ‘Building Bridges with Mainstream Islam’, says.
‘This was previously focused on the US, but the war in Iraq has meant the UK is now seen in similar terms – both are now seen by many Muslims as “Crusader states”.
‘Though we are moving on from a conflict to a reconstruction phase in Iraq, there are no signs of any moderation of this resentment. Our work on engaging with Islam has therefore been knocked back. Mr O’Brien [then a Foreign Office minister] has expressed his concern.’
However, all mention of the Iraq connection to extremism was removed from ‘core scripts’ — briefing papers given to ministers to defend the government’s position on Iraq and terror.
The document begins: ‘We do not see the Muslim community as a threat. Muslims have always made, and continue to make, a valuable contribution to society.’
The lines to be used by ministers include measures designed to address Muslim concerns, such as the introduction of religious hatred legislation and tackling educational underachievement among Muslims. But there is nothing to address the concerns raised by Jay eight months earlier.
The documents reveal deep divisions at the heart of government over home-grown religious extremism and its connections to British intervention in Iraq.
The Prime Minister has consistently said that the bombers were motivated not by a sense of injustice but by a ‘perverted and poisonous misinterpretation of Islam’. Although Iraq was clearly used as a pretext by extremists, he said he believed it was ideology that drove them to kill. To press home the point, Downing Street issued a list of atrocities carried out before intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. The claim was later undermined by the MI5, which said that Iraq was the ‘dominant issue’ for Islamic extremists in Britain.
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, also rowed back from his comments immediately after the bombings that there was no connection with Iraq and the terror threat after it became clear that the public remained unconvinced.
But Jay’s letter shows that the Foreign Office was convinced that foreign policy played a key role in radicalising young Muslims.
The letter outlines a list of 11 ‘work streams’ to discourage extremism. They included delegations to the Islamic world, ministerial briefings for key members of the Muslim community and receptions to mark key Muslim festivals.
It is not known how Turnbull responded to the letter, although it is clear that, by January, there was a significant difference between what was being said within the Foreign Office and what ministers were officially being permitted to say in speeches.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten last night called on the government to come clean about the link between extremism among British Muslims and anger about Iraq: ‘For the government to deny a link between the war in Iraq and dismay among the Muslim community is ridiculous. But to try to cover it up, when senior civil servants have recognised the seriousness of the resentment, is even worse.’
• Read the document here.
August 29th, 2005 - by admin
Doug Thompson / Capitol Hill Blue – 2005-08-29 23:38:25
(August 25, 2005) — While President George W. Bush travels around the country in a last-ditch effort to sell his Iraq war, White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.
“I’m not meeting again with that goddamned bitch,” Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. “She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”
Bush flashes the bird, something aides say he does often and has been doing since his days as governor of Texas.
Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them “motherfucking traitors.” He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore “bullshit protectors” over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to “tell those VFW assholes that I’ll never speak to them again is they can’t keep their members under control.”
White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President’s honesty.
“Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”
Bush, whiles setting up for a photo op for signing the recent CAFTA bill, flipped an extended middle finger to reporters. Aides say the President often “flips the bird” to show his displeasure and tells aides who disagree with him to “go to hell” or to “go fuck yourself.”
His habit of giving people the finger goes back to his days as Texas governor, aides admit, and videos of him doing so before press conferences were widely circulated among TV stations during those days. A recent video showing him shooting the finger to reporters while walking also recently surfaced.
Bush’s behavior, according to prominent Washington psychiatrist, Dr. Justin Frank, author of “Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President,” is all too typical of an alcohol-abusing bully who is ruled by fear.
To see that fear emerge, Dr. Frank says, all one has to do is confront the President. “To actually directly confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would also see the fear,” he says.
Dr. Frank, in his book, speculates that Bush, an alcoholic who brags that he gave up booze without help from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, may be drinking again.
“Two questions that the press seems particularly determined to ignore have hung silently in the air since before Bush took office,” Dr. Frank says. “Is he still drinking? And if not, is he impaired by all the years he did spend drinking? Both questions need to be addressed in any serious assessment of his psychological state.”
Last year, Capitol Hill Blue learned the White House physician prescribed anti-depressant drugs for the President to control what aides called “violent mood swings.” As Dr. Frank also notes: “In writing about Bush’s halting appearance in a press conference just before the start of the Iraq War, Washington Post media critic Tom Shales speculated that ‘the president may have been ever so slightly medicated.'”
Dr. Frank explains Bush’s behavior as all-to-typical of an alcoholic who is still in denial:
“The pattern of blame and denial, which recovering alcoholics work so hard to break, seems to be ingrained in the alcoholic personality; it’s rarely limited to his or her drinking,” he says. “The habit of placing blame and denying responsibility is so prevalent in George W. Bush’s personal history that it is apparently triggered by even the mildest threat.”
© Copyright 2005 Capitol Hill Blue
Posted in accordance with Title 17 USCode, Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
August 29th, 2005 - by admin
Jeremy Smith / The Ecologist – 2005-08-29 00:31:17
ORDER 81: Re-Engineering Iraqi Agriculture
The Ultimate War Crime: Breaking the Agricultural Cycle
Jeremy Smith / The Ecologist, Vol 35, No. 1, 2005
(August 27, 2005) — Coals to Newcastle. Ice to Eskimos. Tea to China. These are the acts of the ultimate salesmen, wily marketers able to sell even to people with no need to buy. To that list can now be added a new phrase – Wheat to Iraq.
Iraq is part of the ‘fertile crescent’ of Mesopotamia. It is here, in around 8,500 to 8,000BC, that mankind first domesticated wheat, here that agriculture was born. In recent years however, the birthplace of farming has been in trouble. Wheat production tumbled from 1,236,000 tons in 1995 to just 384,000 tons in 2000. Why this should have happened very much depends on whom you ask.
A press release from Headquarters United States Command reports that ‘Over the past 10 years, this region has not been able to keep up with Iraq’s wheat demand. During the Saddam Hussein regime, farmers were expected to continuously produce wheat, never leaving their fields fallow. This tactic degraded the soil, leaving few nutrients for the next year’s crop, increasing the chances for crop disease and fungus, and eventually resulting in fewer yields.’ For the US military, the blame clearly lies with the ‘tactics’ of ‘Saddam’s regime’.
However, in 1997 the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) found: ‘Crop yields… remain low due to poor land preparation as a result of lack of machinery, low use of inputs, deteriorating soil quality and irrigation facilities’ and ‘The animal population has declined steeply due to severe shortages of feed and vaccines during the embargo years’. Less interested in selling a war perhaps, the FAO sees Iraqi agriculture suffering due to a lack of necessary machinery and inputs, themselves absent as the result of deprivation ‘during the embargo years’.
Or it could have been simpler still. According to a 2003 USDA report, ‘Current total production of major grains is estimated to be down 50 percent from the 1990/91 level. Three years of drought from 1999-2001 significantly reduced production.’
Whoever you believe, Iraqi wheat production has collapsed in recent years. The next question then, is how to get it back on its feet.
Despite its recent troubles, Iraqi agriculture’s long history means that for the last 10,000 years Iraqi farmers have been naturally selecting wheat varieties that work best with their climate. Each year they have saved seeds from crops that prosper under certain conditions and replanted and cross-pollinated them with others with different strengths the following year, so that the crop continually improves. In 2002, the FAO estimated that 97 per cent of Iraqi farmers used their own saved seed or bought seed from local markets.
That there are now over 200,000 known varieties of wheat in the world is down in no small part to the unrecognised work of farmers like these and their informal systems of knowledge sharing and trade. It would be more than reasonable to assume that somewhere amongst the many fields and grainstores of iraq there are samples of strong, indigenous wheat varieties that could be developed and distributed around the country in order to bolster production once more.
Likewise, long before Abu Ghraib became the world’s most infamous prison, it was known for housing not inmates, but seeds. In the early 1970s samples of the many varieties used by Iraqi farmers were starting to be saved in the country’s national gene bank, situated in the town of Abu Ghraib. Indeed one of Iraq’s most well known indigenous wheat varieties is called ‘Abu Ghraib’.
Unfortunately, this vital heritage and knowledge base is now believed lost, the victim of the current campaign and the many years of conflict that preceded it. But there is another viable source. At the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria there are still samples of several Iraqi varieties. As a revealing report by Focus on the Global South and GRAIN comments: ‘These comprise the agricultural heritage of Iraq belonging to the Iraqi farmers that ought now to be repatriated.’
If Iraq’s new adminstration truly wanted to re-establish Iraqi agriculture for the benefit of the Iraqi people it would seek out the fruits of their knowledge. It could scour the country for successful farms, and if it miraculously found none could bring over the seeds from ICARDA and use those as the basis of a programme designed to give Iraq back the agriculture it once gave the world.
The US, however, has decided that, despite 10,000 years practice, Iraqis don’t know what wheat works best in their own conditions, and would be better off with some new, imported American varieties. Under the guise, therefore, of helping get Iraq back on its feet, the US is setting out to totally reengineer the country’s traditional farming systems into a US-style corporate agribusiness. Or, as the aforementioned press release from Headquarters United States Command puts it: ‘Multi-National Forces are currently planting seeds for the future of agriculture in the Ninevah Province’
First, it is re-educating the farmers. An article in the Land and Livestock Post reveals that thanks to a project undertaken by Texas A&M University’s International Agriculture Office there are now 800 acres of demonstration plots all across Iraq, teaching Iraqi farmers how to grow ‘high-yield seed varieties’ of crops that include barley, chick peas, lentils — and wheat.
The leaders of the $107 million project have a stated goal of doubling the production of 30,000 Iraqi farms within the first year. After one year, farmers will see soaring production levels. Many will be only too willing to abandon their old ways in favour of the new technologies. Out will go traditional methods.
In will come imported American seeds (more than likely GM, as Texas A&M’s Agriculture Program considers itself ‘a recognised world leader in using biotechnology’). And with the new seeds will come new chemicals – pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, all sold to the Iraqis by corporations such as Monsanto, Cargill and Dow.
Another article, this time in The Business Journal of Phoenix, declares: ‘An Arizona agri-research firm is supplying wheat seeds to be used by farmers in Iraq looking to boost their country’s homegrown food supplies.’ That firm is called the World Wide Wheat Company, and in partnership with three universities (including Texas A&M again) it is to ‘provide 1,000 pounds of wheat seeds to be used by Iraqi farmers north of Baghdad.’
According to Seedquest (described as the ‘central information website for the global seed industry’) WWWC is one of the leaders in developing proprietary varieties of cereal seeds – ie varieties that are owned by a particular company. According to the firm’s website, any ‘client’ (or farmer as they were once known) wishing to grow one of their seeds, ‘pays a licensing fee for each variety’.
All of a sudden the donation doesn’t sound so altruistic. WWWC gives the Iraqis some seeds. They get taught how to grow them, shown how much ‘better’ they are than their seeds, and then told that if they want any more, they have to pay.
US to Iraq: “Learn to Eat Pasta”
Another point in one of the articles casts further doubt on American intentions. According to the Business Journal, ‘six kinds of wheat seeds were developed for the Iraqi endeavour. Three will be used for farmers to grow wheat that is made into pasta; three seed strains will be for breadmaking.’
Pasta? According to the 2001 World Food Programme report on Iraq, ‘Dietary habits and preferences included consumption of large quantities and varieties of meat, as well as chicken, pulses, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products.’ No mention of lasagne. Likewise, a quick check of the Middle Eastern cookbook on my kitchen shelves, while not exclusively Iraqi, reveals a grand total of no pasta dishes listed within it.
There can be only two reasons why 50 per cent of the grains being developed are for pasta. One, the US intends to have so many American soldiers and businessmen in Iraq that it is orienting the country’s agriculture around feeding not ‘Starving Iraqis’ but ‘Overfed Americans’. Or, and more likely, because the food was never meant to be eaten inside Iraq at all.
Iraqi farmers are to be taught to grow crops for export. Then they can spend the money they earn (after they have paid for next year’s seeds and chemicals) buying food to feed their family. Under the guise of aid, the US has incorporated them into the global economy.
A Plan to Plunder Iraq’s Agriculture
What the US is now doing in Iraq has a very significant precedent. The Green Revolution of the 1950s and 60s was to be the new dawn for farmers in the developing world. Just as now in Iraq, Western scientists and corporations arrived clutching new ‘wonder crops’, promising peasant farmers that if they planted these new seeds they would soon be rich.
The result was somewhat different. As Vandana Shiva writes in Biopiracy — the Plunder of Nature and Knowledge: ‘The miracle varieties displaced the diversity of traditionally grown crops, and through the erosion of diversity the new seeds became a mechanism for introducing and fostering pests. Indigenous varieties are resistant to local pests and diseases. Even if certain diseases occur, some of the strains may be susceptible, but others will have resistance to survive.’
Worldwide, thousands of traditional varieties developed over millennia were forsaken in favour of a few new hybrids, all owned by even fewer giant multinationals. As a result, Mexico has lost 80 per cent of its corn varieties since 1930. At least 9,000 varieties of wheat grown in China have been lost since 1949. Then in 1970 in the US, genetic uniformity resulted in the loss of almost a billion dollars worth of maize because 80 per cent of the varieties grown were susceptible to a disease known as ‘southern leaf blight’.
Overall, the FAO estimates that about 75 percent of genetic diversity in agricultural crops was lost in the last century. The impact on small farmers worldwide has been devastating. Demanding large sums of capital and high inputs of chemicals, such farming massively favours large scale, industrial farmers.
The many millions of dispossessd people in Asia and elsewhere is in large part a result of this inequity. They can’t afford to farm anymore, are driven off their land, either into their cities’ slums or across the seas to come knocking at the doors of those who once offered them a poisoned chalice of false hope.
What separates the US’s current scheme from those of the Green Revolution is that the earlier ones were, at least in part, the decisions of the elected governments of the countries affected. The Iraqi plan is being imposed on the people of Iraq without them having any say in the matter. Having ousted Saddam, America is now behaving like a despot itself. It has decided what will happen in Iraq and it is doing it, regardless of whether it is what the Iraqi people want.
When former Coalition Provisional Authority administrator Paul Bremer departed Iraq in June 2004 he left behind a legacy of 100 ‘Orders’ for the restructuring of the Iraqi legal system. Of these orders, one is particularly pertinent to the issue of seeds.
A Commercial Take-over of Iraq’s Seeds and Crops
Order 81 covers the issues of ‘Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety’. It amends Iraq’s original law on patents, created in 1970, and is legally binding unless repealed by a future Iraqi government.
The most significant part of Order 81 is a new chapter that it inserts on ‘Plant Variety Protection’ (PVP). This concerns itself not with the protection of biodiversity, but rather with the protection of the commercial interests of large seed corporations.
To qualify for PVP, seeds have to meet the following criteria: they must be ‘new, distinct, uniform and stable’. Under the new regulations imposed by Order 81, therefore, the sort of seeds Iraqi farmers are now being encouraged to grow by corporations such as WWWC will be those registered under PVP.
On the other hand, it is impossible for the seeds developed by the people of Iraq to meet these criteria. Their seeds are not ‘new’ as they are the product of millennia of development. Nor are they ‘distinct’. The free exchange of seeds practiced for centuries ensures that characteristics are spread and shared across local varieties. And they are the opposite of ‘uniform’ and ‘stable’ by the very nature of their biodiversity. They cross-pollinate with other nearby varieties, ensuring they are always changing and always adapting.
Cross-pollination is an important issue for another reason. In recent years several farmers have been taken to court for illegally growing a corporation’s GM seeds. The farmers have argued they were doing so unknowingly, that the seeds must have carried on the wind from a neighbouring farm, for example. They have still been taken to court.
This will now apply in Iraq. Under the new rules, if a farmer’s seed can be shown to have been contaminated with one of the PVP registered seeds, he could be fined. He may have been saving his seed for years, maybe even generations, but if it mixes with a seed owned by a corporation and maybe creates a new hybrid, he may face a day in court.
Remember that 97 per cent of Iraqi farmers save their seeds. Order 81 also puts paid to that. A new line has been added to the law which reads: ‘Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any variety mentioned in items 1 and 2 of paragraph (C) of Article 14 of this Chapter.’
The other varieties referred to are those that show similar characteristics to the PVP varieties. If a corporation develops a variety resistant to a particular Iraqi pest, and somewhere in Iraq a farmer is growing another variety that does the same, it’s now illegal for him/her to save that seed. It sounds mad, but it’s happened before.
A few years back a corporation called SunGene patented a sunflower variety with a very high oleic acid content. It didn’t just patent the genetic structure though, it patented the characteristic. Subsequently SunGene notified other sunflower breeders that should they develop a variety high in oleic acid with would be considered an infringement of the patent.
So the Iraqi farmer may have been wowed with the promise of a bumper yield at the end of this year. But unlike before he can’t save his seed for the next. A 10,000-year old tradition has been replaced at a stroke with a contract for hire.
Iraqi farmers have been made vassals to American corporations. That they were baking bread for 9,500 years before America existed has no weight when it comes to deciding who owns Iraq’s wheat. Yet for every farmer that stops growing his unique strain of saved seed the world loses another variety, one that might have been useful in times of disease or drought.
In short, what America has done is not restructure Iraq’s agriculture, but dismantle it. The people whose forefathers first mastered the domestication of wheat will now have to pay for the privilege of growing it for someone else. And with that the world’s oldest farming heritage will become just another subsidiary link in the vast American supply chain.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), www.globalresearch.ca
© Copyright Jeremy Smith, The Ecologist, Vol 35, No. 1, 2005, 2005
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
August 29th, 2005 - by admin
Reuters & Agence France-Presse – 2005-08-29 00:19:26
More Journalists Killed in Iraq than Vietnam
PARIS (August 28. 2005) — More journalists have been killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003 than during the 20 years of conflict in Vietnam, media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Sunday.
Since US forces and its allies launched their campaign in Iraq on March 20, 2003, 66 journalists and their assistants have been killed, RSF said.
The latest casualty was a Reuters Television soundman who was shot dead in Baghdad on Sunday while a cameraman with him was wounded and then detained by U.S. soldiers.
The death toll in Iraq compares with a total of 63 journalists in Vietnam, but which was over a period of 20 years from 1955 to 1975, the Paris-based organisation that campaigns to protect journalists said on its Web site.
During the fighting in the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995, 49 journalists were killed doing their job, while 57 journalists and 20 media assistants were killed during a civil war in Algeria from 1993 to 1996.
RSF listed Iraq as the world’s most dangerous place for journalists. In addition to those killed, 22 have been kidnapped. All but one was released. Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni was executed by his captors.
The media was targeted from the first days of the fighting, when cameraman Paul Moran, of the Australian TV network ABC, was killed by a car bomb on March 22, 2003, it added.
Two other journalists have been missing since March 2003 and August 2004.
US Sniper Kills Reuters Soundman in Iraq
(August 28, 2005) — US forces in Baghdad shot dead a Reuters television soundman and wounded a cameraman, Iraqi police said. “American soldiers opened fire on the team, killing the soundman and wounding the cameraman before detaining him,” the police said.
The crew had arrived at the scene of an earlier rebel attack on an Iraqi police convoy in al-Adel district, west of Baghdad, which killed two and wounded one, police said. US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said the incident was unfortunate but stopped short of apologising.
“This is unfortunate… but sometimes mistakes are made. We don’t target civilians,” he said when questioned by reporters covering the finalisation of Iraq’s first post-Saddam Hussein constitution. “Military operations unfortunately are not a perfect science… Sometimes mistakes happen, and when they are made we investigate,” he added.
Reuters said 35-year-old Waleed Khaled was shot in the face and took at least four bullets to the chest, while cameraman Haidar Kadhem was wounded in the back.
“I heard shooting, looked up and saw an American sniper on the roof of the shopping centre,” Kadhem told colleagues who arrived at the scene before he was detained by US troops, it said. Two Iraqi colleagues who arrived on the scene minutes after the shooting were also briefly detained, then released, Reuters said. They said that Khaled was still alive when they reached him, and that US troops refused to give him water despite the blazing sun.
“They (US soldiers) treated us like dogs. They made us… including Khaled who was wounded and asking for water, stay in the sun on the road,” Reuters quoted a television crew member Mohammed Idriss as saying.
A Reuters correspondent who arrived at the scene about an hour after the shooting, said Khaled’s body was still in the driver’s seat, the face covered by a cloth. “Entry and exit wounds could be seen on the face indicating shots from the victim’s right. There were several bullet holes in the windscreen and at least four wounds in the chest,” Reuters quoted its correspondent as saying. “His US military and Reuters press cards, clipped to his shirt, were caked in blood. In one, there were two bullet holes,” it said.
To the right of the scene, a US soldier, apparently a sniper, was posted on the roof of a shopping centre, it added.
After a brief inspection of the car in which Reuters team travelled, US troops allowed Reuters staff and the dead man’s family to have it towed away. They handed them a military body bag to remove the corpse, Reuters said. “As Waleed’s tearful relatives inspected the body at the scene, a US soldier said: ‘Don’t bother. It’s not worth it’. A few other soldiers joked among themselves just a few meters (feet) from the body”, it added.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said early August that at least 52 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion to topple Saddam began in March 2003. Another 21 media support staff such as drivers, translators, and security guards have also been killed in the line of duty. Insurgent actions were responsible for the bulk of the deaths, it added.
Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse
Posted in accordance with Title 17, USCode, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
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