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 Saturday, November 27, 2004

Singapore's "Straits Times" Newspaper Run by Intelligence Officers

 

" ...I honestly think that intelligence personnel -- whether past or present -- do not belong in the news room.

The paper (The Straits Times) is run by editors with virtually NO background in journalism. For example, my direct editor was Ms Chua Lee Hoong, a woman in her mid 30s. She was an Intelligence Officer.

The associations and practices of several Straits Times personnel are highly questionable. It's a news room culture that is totally alien and inimical to the very idea of honest, fair and open journalism.

I don't believe that The Straits Times, as it is run now, brings honor or prestige to Singapore.

As a journalistic vehicle, it's actually quite a disgrace. "
- Pranay Gupte

Pranay Gupte was asked by Singapore's Straits Times newspaper to "depart involuntarily" from his job as Global-Affairs columnist and Senior Writer with The Straits Times on November 16, 2004.

Read here Profile of Pranay Gupte

Read here "Open Letter to PM Lee Hsien Loong" from Prany Gupte

The following is an excerpt of what he has to say about the corporate culture of Straits Times (Singapore) and its journalists/reporters:

The Straits Times has NO competition in Singapore.

It's owned wholly by a company called Singapore Press Holdings, whose stock is sold publicly but whose affairs are closely monitored by the government of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, son of Singapore's founding father, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The paper is run by editors with virtually NO background in journalism.

For example, my direct editor was Ms Chua Lee Hoong, a woman in her mid 30s. She was an intelligence officer. Read here on Singapore's Internal Security Department

News Compass Note: In a 2001 article in The Australian, Eric Ellist named the following as forming part of the intelligence apparatus involved in Singapore's Straits Times:

  • Cheong Yip Seng , editor-in-chief, has been with the paper since 1963. He's proud of former intelligence operatives in his newsroom.

  • Ms Chua Lee Hoong, the Straits Times' most prominent political columnist who had worked with the secret police for nine years. Chua Lee Hoong is very open about the fact that she is a former Internal Security Department "analyst". "I'm not ashamed about [being ex-ISD]," she said. The Government sent her to Oxford University for a degree in politics, philosophy and economics. Her pro-government columns are perceived by others as insights into official thinking. She took a swipe at former Malaysian PM, Dr Mahathir Mohammad over the water supply dispute by calling him '21st Century Hang Tuah'.

  • Tjong Yik Min, Executive President of Singapore Press Holdings(SPH): From 1986 to 1993, Tjong was Singapore's most senior secret policeman, running the much feared Internal Security Department (ISD). Now Tjong is a media mogul, the Executive President of SPH, Singapore's virtual print media giant, which controls all but one of the country's newspapers. Mention Tjong's name in Singapore and three things usually come up. Paramount is that he ran the ISD during the 1987 blitz. Second, is that he was a classmate of Lee Kuan Yew's son and prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. And third, is that he's of Indonesian-Chinese extraction. The first speaks to the wariness many Singaporeans have of the ISD, which is part CIA, part FBI, and part Secret Service. The ISD is the hammer the Singapore Government has engaged to whack – sometimes literally – real or imagined threats to stability. The second reference speaks to Tjong's perceived influence with Singapore's premier political family.

  • Ms Irene Ho on the foreign desk, and Ms Susan Lim, Jakarta Correspodents, both described as an "analyst" with Singapore's intelligence services.
Other key editors are drawn from Singapore's bureaucracies and state security services.

They all retain connections to the state's intelligence services, which track everyone and everything.

At the newspaper, I was struck by the total absence of conversation or banter in the huge newsroom.

Having spent two decades at the New York Times, including my student days in the United States, and having run my own newspaper subsequently, The Earth Times - not to mention my 18-year tenure as a columnist at Newsweek International, plus 16 years at Forbes as a contributing editor - I was accustomed to the spirited atmosphere of news rooms, not to mention disagreements and disputes.

Like newsrooms everywhere, the newsroom of the Straits Times has its share of jealousies, resentments and fiefdoms.

It is also a poorly run organization.

For example, my editor, Ms Lee, killed a substantial quote that I obtained from Mr. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, chairman and publisher of the New York Times, on the grounds that he was "distracting."

When I wrote an e-mail note to Arthur, whom I've known for a long time, to explain why his generously given quote to me was not used, here's what I received from Mr. Cheong Yip Seng, the editor-in-chief of the Straits Times:

" We do not do this on this paper, namely apologise to a newsmaker whose quote we did not use. if I were the newsmaker, I would think poorly of the paper. if the nyt uses every quote of a noteworthy newsmaker, they will need to double the pages they use daily. ----- Forwarded by Cheong Yip Seng/SPH on 14/11/2004 06:37 PM ----- "

Needless to day, Mr. Cheong missed my point entirely.

Arthur Sulzberger had made a special effort to communicate with me from 13,000 miles away to give me a long personal statement about the New York Times and its directions. I used the quote in a column on the media, but, of course, it was edited out. I felt that in view of my own long tenure at the Times, and my friendship with Arthur, I owed him an explanation, at the very
least.

It was common courtesy on my part, not brown-nosing to Arthur, who doesn't take to kindly to obsequiousness anyway.

Ms Chua, my editor, also killed two other exclusive interviews I'd obtained in recent days, mainly through my access to important people gained over four decades in international journalism.

She said that what was said by Dr. Supachai Panichpakadi, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, and Mr. Peter G. Peterson, Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations - and the author of a recent best-seller - was "boring."

In fact, both were timely interviews.

Dr. Supachai spoke about ending textile quotas which, starting in December, will give developing nations unprecedented access to the markets of industrialized nations.

And Mr. Peterson spoke about the troubling U.S. deficits, and how both Republicans and Democrats have been irresponsible about dealing with the current-account deficit that's expected to balloon past US$600 billion this year.

Ms Chua further recommended that I should turn to a white colleague in the news room for lessons on how to ask questions.

Since I didn't come to the Straits Times to be re-educated in journalism - after a pretty distinguished career of my own - I felt that her advice was inappropriate.

She was, of course, well within her rights to kill any story she wanted, but people like Dr. Supachai and Mr. Peterson aren't usually accessible to inconsequential newspapers such as the Straits Times.

Be that as it may, I thought that the editor (Ms Chua) - who was trained as an intelligence officer, not as a journalist - was way out of line in recommending that, at age 56, I take lessons in journalism from a white man at the paper.

Among the things that I was hired for, incidentally, was mentoring young people at the Straits Times.

When I arrived in Singapore - which was some months ago - I was quite astonished to see how many non-Singaporean Indians in professional positions were serving with coolie-like servility that they would never display back at home. What was going on here?

"You have to play by the rules," one Indian-born colleague said. "You cannot shake the boat too much. In fact, you dare not shake it at all. The money is good here, so I can swallow an insult or two."

The behaviour of Ms Chua, the editor, may be simply the kind of office politics that people holding power engage in every now and then.

But it's also part of a broader attitude that I detect among many Singaporeans in journalism's top echelons here - that no one else's record or accomplishment or opinion counts but theirs. Any divergence of view is immediately regarded as subversive dissent.

This is an important point because if Singaporeans are going to be perceived as filled with
hubris and an unbending my-way-or-highway attitude, it is going to be increasingly difficult for this country to attract the talent it needs to sustain its economic ambitions.

In fact, young Singaporean professionals are emigrating to Australia and Europe in record numbers because they feel stifled here.

But Singapore lives in a unique goldfish bowl, and its own standards of economic excellence require its citizens to be more sensitive and magnanimous when it comes to dealing with outsiders. After all, Singapore has created a pretty well-functioning secular society for itself - even though one might argue that, in the cultural scheme of things, Tamils and Malays play second sitar to the Chinese.

This is such a beautiful place with such beautiful and giving people. It's hard not to be a well-wisher.

But the Straits Times as a model of dynamic, open-minded journalism? It will happen on the day that it starts to snow here on the equator.

But don't expect to practice the journalism of fairness and forthrightness. This simply isn't the place for that.

At least, not as long as nail-pullers are running the news room. I got out before they pulled out my nails.

But it still hurts.

Pranay Gupte's farewell note:

Dear Friends:

As some of you may have heard, The Straits Times and I parted company on November 16.

Some Singaporeans, of course, don't necessarily value the good will, professionalism and experience that veteran outsiders such as me bring.

I came to Singapore wanting to share my extensive life experience with young journalists; I leave with great sadness that I never quite got to do that.

I leave with sadness, too, over how journalism is practiced in Singapore, at least at The Straits Times.

Call me old-fashioned, if you will, but I honestly think that intelligence personnel -- whether past or present -- do not belong in the news room.

The associations and practices of several Straits Times personnel are highly questionable. That's the paper's business, of course, but I scarcely think that such people should be educating longtime and established journalists such as me about professional practices and conduct.

Such lectures are best given by those who truly understand the rules of evidence required for reporting and writing -- and I'm afraid that most Straits Times personnel don't qualify.

Journalistic values are not subject to cultural relativism; they are universal. There's only one way of telling the truth.

At least, that's what I was taught at The New York Times, Forbes and Newsweek International, where I have spent most of my journalistic career. And four decades after starting out in international journalism, I continue to believe that as strongly as ever.

A trusted friend of mine, a well-known American in New York -- and fellow life member of the Council on Foreign Relations -- said to me the other day, after hearing about the Straits Times episode, "Well, what did you expect? What kind of a place did you think Singapore was going to be when you took the job?"

As a longtime admirer of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, I had always been fascinated by Southeast Asian culture, and my earlier visits to Singapore created in me a continuing desire to want to live here and partake of the culture and traditions, at least for a while.

When I arrived here in September 2004 for what I thought would be a long-term assignment, I did not realize how short lived my tenure was going to be. The way I look at it, leaving Singapore will be my loss entirely.

Meanwhile, The Straits Times will continue doing just fine, of course. And why not?

It's the only broadsheet in a one-horse town.

I wish the paper well, even the nail-pullers and bureaucrats whose idea of journalism begins with tolerating no professional disagreements - however minor - and ends with complete, unvarnished propaganda that ill serves Singapore in a world of rapid globalization.

It's a news room culture that is totally alien and inimical to the very idea of honest, fair and open journalism.

It's also a sorry reflection on the secular and progressive society that Mr. Lee Kuan Yew courageously set out to build nearly 40 years ago.

I don't believe that The Straits Times, as it is run now, brings honor or prestige to Singapore. As a journalistic vehicle, it's actually quite a disgrace.

There are a lot of young, talented and ambitious men and women at The Straits Times who, if given the opportunity, will be able to produce a first-rate newspaper; indeed, I was impressed by the enterprise of some of these young people, and I would have loved to have worked more with the, perhaps even offering myself as a mentor.

I know the value of mentorship; I benefited greatly in my younger days through the guidance of great editors such as A. M. Rosenthal, Seymour Topping and Arthur Gelb of the New York Times, and in later years through the guidance of giants such as James W. Michaels of Forbes, and Louis Silverstein, the legendary designer and art director.

Even at The Straits Times, I learned a lot from Chua Huck Cheng, a veteran journalist who taught me how to write editorials more sharply.

So I wish the young staff of The Straits Times the very best in their careers and in life.

I want to end this epistle by emphasizing that I do believe that history will remember Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew kindly, even though he has his detractors in Singapore and at the Straits Times as well; I also believe that he is one of our contemporary era's greatest figures.

I'm not so sure that institutions such as Singapore's main broadsheet newspaper fully serve the society that the Minister Mentor helped create.

I do believe, however, that Mr. Lee's legacy will endure in the most positive and nourishing way because he taught us that the rule of law, strong institutions of governance, and incorruptible public officials are fundamental to the building of modern societies.

---------------------------------------------------

Summary Profile of Pranay Gupte:

Global-Affairs Columnist and Senior Writer, The Straits Times, Singapore, April 2004 to November 2004.
_ Editorial Director, The Daily Star / International Herald Tribune, Beirut, Lebanon, January 2004 to March 2004.
_ Business Editor, The Daily Star / International Herald Tribune, Beirut, Lebanon, September to December 2003.
_ Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Present Tense Magazine on the Web (www.presenttensemagazine.org), January 2003 to August 2003.
_ Asia Correspondent: Bloomberg News, June-July 2003.
_ Editor-in-Chief and Publisher: Present Tense Magazine, May 2003. (Present Tense was a one-issue pilot in print.)
_ Editor-in-Chief and Publisher: The Earth Times, New York, 1991 to 2002.
_ Editorial Adviser: The Calendar & Chronicle, monthly newsletter of the Council on Foreign Relations, 1999 to 2001; helped redesign publication.
_ President and Founder, Earth Times Books, 1999 to 2002.
_ Columnist: Newsweek International, 1986 to 2004.
_ Contributing Editor: Forbes, 1984 to 2000.
_ Contributing Columnist: New York Daily News, 1997 to 2000.
_ Mentor: Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 1996 to present.
_ Founder and Director: International Commentary Service, a not-for-profit media and educational company for television documentaries, 1988 to 1993.
_ Senior Information Adviser to the Secretary-General of the 1992 Earth Summit: 1991-1992.
_ New York Editor: Asian Finance, 1987 to 1991.
_ Information Adviser to the World Commission on Environment and Development: 1985 to 1986.
_ Foreign Correspondent, Africa: The New York Times, 1979 to 1982.
_ Metropolitan Reporter: The New York Times, 1978 to 1979.
_ United Nations Correspondent: The New York Times, 1977.
_ Long Island Correspondent: The New York Times, 1973 to 1977.
_ Assistant to the Executive Editor, A. M. Rosenthal: The New York Times, 1970 to 1973.
_ Summer Clerkships: The New York Times, 1968 and 1969..


Books

_ Currently working on a book on Islam, to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, in 2005.
_ All of Us: Births and A Better Life: Population, Development and Environment in a Globalized World. Selections from the Pages of The Earth Times. New York: Earth Times Books, 1999.
_ Mother India: A Political Biography of Indira Gandhi. New York and London: Charles Scribner's Sons Inc., 1992. Major reviews in US and international publications, including front-page reviews in the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times; first-serial rights to Vanity Fair magazine.
_ The Silent Crisis: Despair, Development and Hope in a World Without Borders. New Delhi and London: Vikas Publishing House, 1990.
_ India: The Challenge of Change. London: Mandarin-Methuen, 1989.
_ Vengeance: India After the Assassination of Indira Gandhi. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1985; first-serial rights to The New York Times Magazine.
_ The Crowded Earth: People and the Politics of Population. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1984; first-serial rights to The New York Times Magazine.


Affiliations

_ Life Member, Council on Foreign Relations, New York, since 1999.
_ Member, American Society of Magazine Editors, since 2001.
_ Member, Magazine Publishers Association, since 2001.
_ Member, Board of Directors, American Forum for Global Education, 1998 to present.
_ Member, Royal Overseas League, London, since 2000.
_ Member, Advisory Board. Indian Institute of Journalism, since 2001.
_ Member, United Nations Correspondents Association, since 1988.
_ Member, Overseas Press Club, New York, since 1994.
_ Member, Singapore Press Club, since 2004.
_ Member, Society of Environmental Journalists, since 1994.
_ Member, South Asian Journalists Association, New York, since 1994.
_ Member, American Asian Journalists Association, since 2003.
_ Member, Authors League and Authors Guild of America, since 1985.
_ Member, American Society of Journalists and Authors, since 1985.
_ Member American P.E.N., since 1985.
_ Member, Sigma Delta Chi (Professional Journalists Organization) since 1984.
_ Member, the Newspaper Guild of New York, 1968 to 1984.



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IRAQ: Bombing Iraqis for Free Elections

  by
Pepe Escobar
Nov 25, 2004

Read here full article by Pepe Ascobar, "The recipe for civil war" in Asia Times

Najaf was bombed in August.
Samarra was bombed in September.
Sadr City was bombed in October.
Fallujah was bombed in November.

Mosul may be bombed in December. And Kirkuk may be bombed in January.

Allawi does not control even a kebab stand in multi-ethnic Mosul. The west bank of the Tigris is under total control of the resistance. The east bank is controlled by both Kurdish political parties and their peshmergas (paramilitaries). And the Turkoman minority controls a few sectors inside the city. There's a mini civil war already going on.

Mosul is already the Iraqi Sarajevo.

This is the calendar in the runup to the Iraqi elections set for January 30 next year.

Then there will be another set of questions. Will the Iraqi elections be stolen?

Will votes "disappear"?

Instead of Florida or Ohio, will there be demands for recounts in Fallujah and Samarra? Like Ukrainians in Kiev, will Sunnis in Baghdad take to the streets contesting the results of their elections?

Will interim premier Iyad Allawi - with a little help from his Washington friends - prevail?

Fallujah plus elections amounts to civil war. This tragic equation may come to life in Iraq in early 2005.

The official American rationale for the Fallujah offensive was to "stabilize" the country before the elections. This strategy may have paved the way to civil war.

Ample evidence suggests that the majority of Sunnis - up to 30% of the population - will boycott the elections and denounce them as illegitimate, while Shi'ites, for the first time in Iraq, will be in power.

Baghdad sources tell Asia Times Online an American assault on Mosul - a city of 1 million - is inevitable.

A key pointer to this mini civil war was the assassination on Monday of Sheikh Faidh Muhammad Amin al-Faidhi, at his home, by three masked gunmen.

Sheikh al-Faidhi, a Sunni, was widely respected by the Shi'ites and the Kurds in Mosul. He was an influential member of the powerful Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), which has forcefully condemned the Fallujah massacre and called for an election boycott.

His brother, Mohammed Bashar al-Faidhi, a spokesman for the AMS in Baghdad, believes he was killed by the Israeli Mossad, along with "some Iraqi elements", meaning Allawi's agents.

This observation, according to our sources in Baghdad, mirrors two widespread convictions among Sunnis: that the American-Allawi logic is "either you vote in our elections or we will kill you"; and that Israel is actively fomenting civil war inside Iraq.

When the assassination of Sheikh al-Faidhi is compounded with the Fallujah offensive and the American invasion of the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad last Friday - the symbolic birthplace of the Iraqi resistance in April 2003 - then one understands why Sunni anger has reached boiling point.

Az-Zaman, a London-based Arabic-language newspaper, recently detailed what's happening in Kirkuk. Haweeja is the main Arab neighborhood in Kirkuk.

More than 100 Haweeja tribal leaders and clerics have declared it off-limits to the Americans, and are taking all matters - from security to rebuilding - in their own hands. They have also vowed to take care of any infiltrating "armed groups".

The problem is these "armed groups" are none other than Kurdish peshmerga, who swarm all over the city.

The Kurds are extremely incensed. No wonder: Kirkuk, apart from being oil rich, is the Kurdish Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, in Fallujah, it's not over yet.

Sources in Baghdad close to the resistance swear the mujahideen still control at least half of the city - the whole southern part plus the alleyways. The Americans, desperate to impose some measure of control, have launched another massive offensive in the south of Baghdad, in the so-called "triangle of death", while at the same time they cannot even control the treacherous highway sector running from Baghdad airport straight to the Green Zone.

Thousands of Fallujah refugee families are living in dire conditions in makeshift shelters around the city. Those not lucky enough to have relatives in Baghdad are camping in places like the University of Baghdad campus. Nobody has received any aid from Allawi's government and its Ministry of Health - no medicine, no doctors, although there has been a rhetorical promise.

Baghdad is filled with refugees telling horror stories of fear under the relentless American bombing, of being sprayed with what they claim was poisonous gas, of snipers killing women and children or anyone trying to cross the Euphrates river, of no water, no electricity and no food.

No Sunni in his right mind believes in the "reconstruction" of Fallujah: they point to the example of Sadr City - bombed in October and still in ruins.

The Iraqi Red Crescent says all their relief teams are still blocked from entering Fallujah, while the Americans say the refugees will have to wait at least two more weeks before they can go back to their city in ruins.

This catalogue of woes, in the minds of Sunni Iraqis, means that Iraq has been turned by the Americans into a failed state, with Allawi's "government" a fiction with no authority whatsoever, except his recourse to American firepower.

Not a single Arab government condemned the Fallujah massacre. This week's international conference in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt in fact normalized the Fallujah massacre and legitimized the election calendar.

Arab League secretary general Amir Mussa called for "a ceasefire in Fallujah and other hot spots". Nobody paid attention. A delegation of the Iraqi opposition - including Muzhar al-Duleimi, the head of the non-government organization League of Defending Iraqis' Rights, and Qassim Abdel Sattar, a member of Fallujah's council - circulated a statement before the conference demanding that the elections be postponed until the country was relatively secure.

Once again, nobody paid attention - except for the Egyptians and the Jordanians.

So far, 47 Sunni, Shi'ite, Turkoman and Christian parties have declared they will boycott the elections. There are 156 registered Iraqi political parties.

The interior ministers of Iraq's neighbors meet in Tehran next week. They meet again in early January in Amman to review the situation prior to the elections. Sharm-el-Sheikh made sure there's no timetable for the end of the occupation - only a vague reference to UN Security Council Resolution 1546, which states that the mandate of the occupying forces runs out "upon completion of the political process" when an elected government hopefully will take power by the end of 2005.

Assuming there will be elections on January 30 - incidentally the first day of the annual hajjthat takes millions of Muslims to Saudi Arabia - this is how the main players stand at the moment.

Iyad Allawi, the US-appointed Iraqi prime minister (without a parliament), leader of the Iraqi National Accord, widely known in Baghdad as "Saddam without a moustache" and now as "the butcher of Fallujah", comes from a wealthy Shi'ite merchant family.

A former Ba'ath Party member and former US Central Intelligence Agency asset, he has inexorably alienated the Sunnis from the political calendar - while contributing to massive popular support for the resistance. Our sources confirm there's graffiti all over the Sunni triangle spelling, in Arabic, "Death to Allawi and his puppet government".

His credibility in Iraq is low. But as he is America's man, he won't go quietly.

Ahmad Chalabi, Allawi's distant cousin, leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), convicted fraudster in Jordan, the Pentagon man and privileged - then disgraced - American source of "intelligence", is trying hard to stage a comeback.

His credibility may be lower than his cousin's, but Chalabi comes from Shi'ite old money and still knows how to oil his connections. He is working to forge an alliance with Shi'ite religious parties and may bribe his way to a key post - maybe even a ministry.

Ghazi al-Yawar, currently the Iraqi president - a ceremonial, ineffective post - still is not affiliated to any party. But he's a very influential Sunni tribal leader in Mosul, also a civil engineer and businessman, educated in the US. He has very good ties with Washington - which explains his post as president. But he was very forceful in condemning the Fallujah massacre - and Sunnis noticed it. He could well become one of the leaders of the moderate Sunni minority in the next government.

Masoud Barzani, a Sunni and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), was a former peshmerga - and for many Sunni Arabs that is unforgivable. He still maintains a peshmerga militia of at least 15,000. Barzani is the Kurdish counter to Jalal Talabani. He was a member of the Iraqi Governing Council - also thanks to his Washington connections - and one of his aides is now a vice president. Talabani, also a Sunni, is the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and a law graduate from Baghdad University.

His party is a splinter from the KDP. He was a huge lobbyist for the invasion and occupation. He was also a member of the governing council, also keeping his own peshmerga militia. Both Barzani and Talabani will have some say depending on what kind of political alliances they will be able to forge. But the fact is Sunni Arabs and Shi'ites alike view the Kurds as coming from another planet.

Muqtada al-Sadr cleverly swayed his lumpen proletariat-based movement from angry opposition to the occupation to political participation. The young Shi'ite cleric may not have the requisite religious credentials, but that doesn't matter when your father was the revered Ayatollah Mohammad Sadiq al-Sadr, assassinated by Saddam Hussein's secret police. The urban, angry, young, unemployed Shi'ites will vote massively for his senior cadres. Muqtada himself will not contest a seat. At the moment he is negotiating his participation in the united Shi'ite party list forcefully pushed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the second-largest Shi'ite political party. The SCIRI, basically exiled in Iran, was a powerful opposition voice against Saddam. Abdul Aziz's brother was the widely-respected Ayatollah Mohammad Baqr al-Hakim, killed in a car bomb in Najaf in August 2003: the ayatollah might have become the leader of a new Iraq. The SCIRI is extremely organized. It had its own militia, the Badr Brigades, which are now a part of the Iraqi security forces - thus targets to the Sunni resistance.

The big problem is that the SCIRI flourished in exile in Iran for too long - which for many Sunni Arabs means their members are Iranian agents. In the next government, the moderate Shi'ite Dawa party will certainly be more powerful than the SCIRI.

The strongest candidate to be the new Iraqi prime minister is undoubtedly Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the head of the Dawa party, which was the key opposition party to Saddam. He is from Karbala and studied medicine in Mosul. Dawa is very strong in southern Iraq and may now be the largest political party in the country. It will be the key party in the Shi'ite united list pushed by Sistani. Al-Jaafari was a member of the Iraqi Governing Council set up by the Americans. Currently a vice president, al-Jaafari is arguably the most popular politician in Iraq at the moment.

Assuming in January al-Jaafari is elected the new prime minister in a Shi'ite government controlled by the Dawa and SCIRI parties, at least three nagging questions will persist.

Will the elections prevent or incite civil war? Which city will the US bomb in February? And will the occupation be over by December 2005?

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 Thursday, November 25, 2004

British-American Tobacco Company Used Tobacco Smuggling to Boost Profits

  From The Times
25 Nov04

British-American Tobacco Company, one of the world's biggest tobacco producers deliberately encouraged cigarette smuggling in developing countries to offset its dwindling profits in Europe, according to research published yesterday in the journal Tobacco Control. Click here to read full text of the research study.

Studies by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found British American Tobacco used smuggling as part of its corporate strategy to expand into lucrative markets in Asia.

Confidential documents from BAT's offices in Guildford, England, show the company used the illicit trade in cigarettes to lure new smokers, undermine health initiatives and help it capture key markets.

The research, published yesterday in the journal Tobacco Control, come in the wake of an official confidential inquiry by the British Government that cleared BAT of allegations it colluded in cigarette smuggling.

More than 8 million documents relating to BAT's affairs had to be made available to researchers for 10 years as part of the settlement of a US health lawsuit.

Public health experts and anti-smoking campaigners say BAT condoned tax evasion and colluded in smuggling billions of cigarettes in a global drive to increase sales.

The allegations do not suggest BAT employees carried out the smuggling, but it is alleged executives controlled the brands, marketing campaigns and timing, and sought to manage volumes and price levels of the smuggling markets.

Researchers said the findings raised serious questions about corporate conduct and how smuggling had become a business strategy rather than the business of rogue traders.

Examples of collusion in smuggling cited by the researchers include repeated reference to "general trade" -- a euphemism for contraband -- that was allegedly shipped to target countries by third parties linked to BAT.

One paper describes how BAT exploited contraband in China, where the Beijing Government maintains a firm grip over foreign investment and trade, to get around import quotas.

Cigarettes were taken into China illegally via Hong Kong, the study found.

A spokeswoman for BAT said suggestions the company was targeting Asia because of declining business due to health campaigns in Europe were untrue.

The British Department of Trade and Industry "concluded its investigation into similar allegations and stated there was no evidence to support claims we have been involved in illegal activity", she said.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ABSTRACT from the Research Study

RESEARCH PAPER TITLE:

Complicity in contraband: British-American Tobacco and cigarette smuggling in Asia

BY

J Collin1, E LeGresley2, R MacKenzie1, S Lawrence1 and K Lee1

1 Centre on Global Change and Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
2 Tobacco Control Consultant, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Objectives:
To examine the complicity of British American Tobacco (BAT) in cigarette smuggling in Asia, and to assess the centrality of illicit trade to regional corporate strategy.

Methods:
Analysis of previously confidential documents from BAT’s Guildford depository. An iterative strategy combined searches based on geography, organisational structure, and key personnel, while corporate euphemisms for contraband were identified by triangulation.

Results:
BAT documents demonstrate the strategic importance of smuggling across global, regional, national, and local levels. Particularly important in Asia, contraband enabled access to closed markets, created pressure for market opening, and was highly profitable.

Documents demonstrate BAT’s detailed oversight of illicit trade, seeking to reconcile the conflicting demands of control and deniability.

Conclusions:
BAT documents demonstrate that smuggling has been driven by corporate objectives, indicate national measures by which the problem can be addressed, and highlight the importance of a coordinated global response via WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.



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  • The US Government Accountability Office said Tuesday it will investigate how the vote was counted in the Nov. 2 election, with an eye toward answering persistent questions about voting irregularities in many states, including Ohio and Florida, which were crucial to President Bush's win. The irregularities include machines failing to record votes or recording them inaccurately, as well as problems with the way officials counted provisional ballots, which were provided to voters whose names didn't appear on voting lists but who contended they were eligible to participate in the election. Congress' investigative agency cautioned, however, that it isn't authorized to take action if irregularities are foundREAD HERE FOR MORE

  • On November 6, 2004, Justice Through Music, www.jtmp.org, posted a $100,000 reward for specific evidence of vote fraud in the presidential election. On November 16, that reward was doubled to $200,000 in light of the rampant voter irregularities reported online and in the media over the past two weeks which has resulted in the recounting of votes in various states. Specifically, the reward will be given to the person or persons who provide concrete evidence of hacking, tampering, implanting improper software codes, miscounting votes, or vote rigging in one or more states that would change the result of the election. JTM is seeking evidence from insiders, whistleblowers and others in the know who have information about vote fraud. There have been over 30,000 documented instances of voting irregularities in the election, which include improperly tested voting machines and people having access to the machines in unsecure areas. READ HERE FOR MORE

  • UKRAINE plunged deeper into crisis yesterday when the election commission declared Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow-backed Prime Minister, the winner of the election on Sunday in defiance of hundreds of thousands of opposition protesters, who are demanding that the results be declared invalid. Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Western opposition leader who accuses the government of rigging the election, said that the declaration put Ukraine “on the brink of civil conflict” and called for a nationwide general strike. He threatened to close the country’s transport system and its factories, schools and universities. READ HERE FOR MORE

  • Iran has asked to be allowed to exclude some research and development work usable in nuclear bomb-making from a freeze on sensitive atomic projects, but EU negotiators rejected the request, diplomats said on Wednesday. READ HERE FOR MORE

  • Dan Rather and CBS News announced Tuesday that he'll leave March 9, 24 years to the day that he succeeded the avuncular Walter Cronkite in CBS' anchor chair. "It's time to move on ... It has been — and remains — an honor to be welcomed into your home each evening," Rather told viewers of his newscast Tuesday night. "I thank you for the trust you've given me."a single controversial story that Rather reported at the height of a brutal presidential contest, one that questioned President Bush's National Guard service during Vietnam, probably sped his departure. READ HERE FOR MORE

  • ALMOST half of all Aids sufferers are now women and the number infected is increasing in every region of the world, according to a UN report published yesterday. The growing toll of women is spelt out in an annual study which showed that nearly five million people have been infected with HIV this year, the highest of any year so far. READ HERE FOR MORE

  • IRAQ: Allegations of widespread abuse by US forces in Fallujah, including the killing of unarmed civilians and the targeting of a hospital in an attack, have been made by people who have escaped from the city.They said, in interviews with The Independent, that as well as deaths from bombs and artillery shells, a large number of people including children were killed by American snipers. US forces refused repeated calls for medical aid for injured civilians, they said.Some of the killings took place in the build-up to the assault on the rebel stronghold, and at least in one case - that of the death of a family of seven, including a three-month baby - the American authorities have admitted responsibility and offered compensation.READ HERE FOR MORE

  • An Israeli army officer who repeatedly shot a 13-year-old Palestinian girl in Gaza dismissed a warning from another soldier that she was a child by saying he would have killed her even if she was three years old. The officer, identified by the army only as Captain R, was charged this week with illegal use of his weapon, conduct unbecoming an officer and other relatively minor infractions after emptying all 10 bullets from his gun's magazine into Iman al-Hams when she walked into a "security area" on the edge of Rafah refugee camp last month. READ HERE FOR MORE

  • The economic policies of President Bush have set the country on a dangerous course that will likely end in crisis, Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman told Reuters in an interview. Krugman, who may be best known for his opinion column in The New York Times, said he was concerned that Bush's electoral victory over Sen. John Kerry earlier this month would only reinforce the administration's unwillingness to listen to dissenting opinions. That, in turn, could spell serious trouble for the U.S. economy, which under Bush's first term was plagued by soaring deficits, waning investor confidence and anemic job creation. "This is a group of people who don't believe that any of the rules really apply," said Krugman. "They are utterly irresponsible." READ HERE FOR MORE

  • CHINA:China is rapidly emerging as a world power. In a decade or two, it might directly challenge the supremacy of the United States, Japan, and Europe. But before this happens, Beijing's leaders are trying to create a zone of friendly and stable countries around China's borders that will give them political support, as well as economic leverage in the future. This has led Beijing to set up trade missions in every Central Asian country, invest in local enterprises, donate money to aid projects, and give a high profile to new organizations, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that group the region's countries, plus China and Russia. China is reaching out to Central Asia to feed its growing appetite for energy resources.READ HERE FOR MORE

  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) has joined the campaign to pressure U.S.-based heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. to stop selling bulldozers to Israel's military because it uses the machines to violate human rights in the occupied territories. Monday's appeal by HRW followed an exchange with Caterpillar Chief Executive Officer James Owens, which began three weeks ago when HRW in a letter called for suspending all sales of D9 bulldozers to Israel. New York-based HRW's appeal Monday coincided with the announcement by a U.S. Jewish peace group that it had filed a shareholder resolution urging Caterpillar to review whether the sale of the D-9 bulldozer violates its own corporate code of conduct. READ HERE FOR MORE

  • SUDAN: Helicopters rescued more than 40 aid workers who fled into the bush to escape fighting in Darfur on Monday as renewed violence flared in the crisis-plagued region of western Sudan. Fighting in Darfur, including the aerial bombardment of a town, overshadowed progress in ending Sudan's other, longer-running civil war in the south. The United Nations announced plans to deploy 7,000 peacekeeping troops to southern Sudan were rebels and the government reached a peace agreement last week to end their 21-year conflict. In Darfur, African Union peacekeepers airlifted 45 people who had spent several hours hiding in the bush outside the town of Tawilla during clashes between rebels and Arab militiamen, U.N. spokesman George Somerwill told The Associated Press. READ HERE FOR MORE

  • The United States closed its consulate in India's financial capital of Bombay, citing information about a terrorist threat, but an Indian official dismissed the possibility of an imminent attack. READ HERE FOR MORE

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    Iraq War: Blinkered View Fed To Americans by US Corporate Media

      by
    Linda Heard
    (Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs.)

    Read here full article by Linda Heard, "When Seeing Is NOT Believing"

    Unless you’ve spent the past week meditating on a mountaintop, you’ve watched the video everyone is talking about.

    It’s the one where a US Marine walks into one of Fallujah’s mosques and cold-bloodedly shoots a wounded, unarmed combatant in the head.

    If the victim had been a dog or a horse, American indignation would have been palpable.

    But because the dead man is prejudged and demonized, he is automatically the bad guy, the wretched face of evil incarnate, while the US corporate media churns out a litany of psychobabble excuses for his trigger-happy killer.

    Texas Democrat Sylvester Reyes blames the embedding of reporters for the public display of America’s dirty laundry. “We should not be providing Al-Jazeera with the kind of propaganda they’ve had the last couple of days,” he told the House Armed Services Committee. “We don’t want to know everything that is happening on the field,” he said in true “hear no evil, see no evil” style.

    The bullyboy of Fox News Bill O’Reilly, far from holding the Marine accountable for his breach of the Geneva Conventions, targets the Qatar-based Arabic network.

    Proud that his “Factor” was the only show, which purposefully refrained from showing photographs and videos of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, he blames Al-Jazeera for re-running the incriminating tape, claiming it foments hatred and endangers US troops.

    O’Reilly, like America’s newly anointed Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, appears to consider those clauses of the Geneva Conventions, which govern the treatment of prisoners as “quaint”.

    Translated, this applies only to non-Americans detained by the US and not the other way around.

    If we cast our minds back to the invasion when five captured US soldiers were shown sipping tea on the now defunct Iraqi television, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld bitterly complained the relaying of pictures showing prisoners of war violated the Geneva Conventions.

    His views were echoed at the time by that dour Lebanese-American fellow Gen. John Abizaid, who went for Al-Jazeera’s jugular at a press conference for re-broadcasting, and more recently singled out the network as portraying the US “as purposely targeting civilians”.

    While few would thus accuse the US, some believe the Pentagon has shown a callous indifference toward what it terms “collateral damage” leaving it to others to tally up its deadly handiwork.

    While civilian deaths and US military abuses are conveniently brushed aside by the Bush administration, and its mouthpiece Fox News, O’Reilly complains the tape showing the murder of Margaret Hassan was deliberately buried by Al-Jazeera.

    The network itself insists it was “too graphic to broadcast”.

    So here we have it.

    According to O’Reilly, videos of the US military threatening naked detainees with attack dogs should not be seen by the sensitive viewing public, but the graphic murder of a female charity worker is par for the course.

    Naturally, religious right-wingers like O’Reilly would love that tape to be broadcast over and over again because it reinforces the perception of the bestial insurgent while bolstering the invaders’ moral high ground.

    In this way, he hopes, sickened and disgusted, we would all leap on to the crusading Bush bandwagon to fight the good fight.

    This is pure speculation on my part but Al-Jazeera’s reluctance may stem from the brewing debate over “who killed Margaret Hassan?”

    British journalist Robert Fisk cleverly highlights the strange circumstances surrounding Margaret’s kidnapping in a recent article. He writes:

    “So, if anyone doubted the murderous nature of the insurgents, what better way to prove their viciousness than to produce evidence of Margaret Hassan’s murder?”
    He concludes with the thought-provoking question:

    "Who gains from Margaret Hassan’s death?Certainly not the insurgency. Mrs. Hassan was married to an Iraqi, had dual British-Iraqi nationality, spoke fluent Arabic and was a convert to Islam.

    She had spent some 30 years caring for the Iraqi people and had been a vehement opponent of the US-led sanctions and invasion.

    So why was she taken in the first place?

    Even Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi’s ruthless band of thugs urged her immediate release.”

    Every crime has a motive. In the case of Mrs. Hassan it is difficult to see what this could be from the point of view of the resistance.

    When compared to previous militant tapes, the videos of Mrs. Hassan pleading for her life were unique. There were no banners, no armed, masked men in the background, no claims of responsibility, and, in a departure from the usual decapitation, Margaret was hooded and shot.

    Muslims rarely kidnap and kill women.

    • In the 1980s, there was a spate of hostage taking in Lebanon but women were generally off limits.

    • When the fanatical Taleban captured the British journalist Yvonne Ridley during the invasion of Afghanistan she was well treated until she was set free at the Pakistani border.

    • We may never know who killed Margaret Hassan but we do know who shot an injured man taking refuge in a place of worship.

    • Both killings are reprehensible. Both killings are an affront to humanity. And both must be investigated and universally condemned.
    A third contentious video showed Al-Zarqawi’s Fallujah headquarters to which embedded journalists were taken on a guided tour.

    So nice of the terrorist to put up an Al-Qaeda sign on the wall just in case his visitors were confused about where they were, and it was even nicer of him to leave behind computers bursting with intelligence goodies so that all his friends and associates can be traced.

    Shades of the Jessica Lynch show, courtesy of Pentagon Productions, or evidence that America’s enemy No. 2 is deficient in gray matter?

    You decide.

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     Wednesday, November 24, 2004

    EXPOSED !! Jihad Unspun Website is CIA's Creation for Misinformation

     

    MUST READ !!!!'
    The following blog was posted on Liberty Forum Website

    Disinformation Busted!
    CIA posing as Al Qaeda muslamaniacs
    at
    jihadunspun.com


    This professionally managed website with eyecatching design and graphics and daily news features, video store and reporters emerged on the net sometime after Sept. 11th 2001.

    What really struck me as odd was all the professional glitz of the website as well as its deliberate attempt to look Arabic (Notice the Koranic translations with curved font!)

    From what I know of pro-jihad websites, they operate on a shoestring budget, provided they happen to find volunteers and donors who are willing to risk being deported and detained. They get kicked off from ISP to ISP and use cheap frontpage templates.
    Real Jihad websites try to imitate the West in web design rather than coming up with colors that seem to resemble the robes of a sand dune shape and Arabic shaped English text.
    One such authentic website was the one run by a well known Saudi dissident, Azzam.com. More about Azzam later.

    Now getting back to Jihadunspun (JUS), the Related links tab first displayed the address of some muslim name in British Columbia Canada.
    So right in our backyard we have a semi Al Qaeda operation which unlike Azzam doesnt even lose its ISP, let alone get shut down.

    Next, take a closer look at the website.....This is a very sophisticated operation and I am sure that even some of its own muslim reporters have no clue what is going on. But again, as the graphic on its homepage portrays Bush on one side and Binladen on the other.
    For an agitated muslim as well as reactionary goyim, the NWO reinforces the assertion it made on Sept.11th by bringing down those towers by "heated jet fuel ":
    The war of civilisations is on : Binladen after grandly bringing down the towers now seeks to further his Jihad on the West.
    Secondly, unlike other genuine Jihad sites, there is not even a whisper of conspiracy regarding Sept 11th on this site.
    In other words,

    1. The goyim must continue hunting "Al Qaeda"
    2 The muslims should resume the "jihad" on the West inaugurated by Binladen.

    OR IN OTHER WORDS, NWO/ JEWISH CABBAL/ ILLUMINATI /SATAN/ CIA AGENDA!
    Notice how the tab "The players" has only Bush Binladen and Co. Whereas the Real players are simply missing.

    There is also another purpose. Suppose Bush is having a real unpopular moment. Jihadunspun could furnish another lab doctored video/audio recording of Binladen urging war on Americans.
    This will serve to distract and at the same time emphasise the need for a war. With its Al Qaeda credentials, few would doubt the source.

    Here is what I found in a Chicago Tribune article

    Quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Some Web watchers, including Katz, believe the U.S. government may be using the
    Internet jihad to spy.
    They speculate that Jihad Unspun, an English-language site that appears to promote terror, may be a CIA creation, designed to find out who visits or orders videos glorifying bin Laden.

    A lengthy notice on Jihad Unspun denies the allegations, saying the site is "a labor of love for Allah."
    Bruce Kennedy, identified on the site as editor in chief, said by e-mail that Jihad Unspun's operators "are not doing any interviews with American press at this time."
    A CIA spokesman denied the site has any connection to the agency.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Labour of love for Allah?
    Doesnt that sound a bit too wannabe muslim?
    Trust me, the muslims I know have Allah an established factor. They dont take in this "pleasing the emperor style which more depicts stereotypes of muslims.Why do I get the same feeling when I bumped into a male posing as 16/f/nyc?

    Another tidbit.....
    A buddy of mine started liking JUS and decided to get involved on its fancy forums.
    Whatever got into him, the first article he posted was about How the CIA backed Saddam.
    Next day, he discovers he is a non-entity! no invalid pw or email notification....it simply says he is not a member ! If you guys have time, try it out. Post some hard stuff on the CIA and tell me here how long you lasted.

    Here is some interesting stuff I found in the contact information under domain name lookup.

    Jihad Unspun
    Bruce Kennedy, #300 - 1497 Marine Drive
    West Vancouver, BC V7T1B8 Canada
    +1 604 913 2241, Fax: +1 604 913 2240
    bkennedy@jihadunspun.net

    Interesting.....who is Bruce Kennedy?
    That would be a name I would like to keep as a handle. Well, as i have said before, some time back there was a muslim name and address in British Columbia (Canada).
    It seems the muslim paypal screwed it up or something so now they got this all white American convert to try explain where all the expertise and $$$ are coming from.

    The website is hosted by two servers, one is a rather unheard of server in NWO backyard Canada

    209.139.224.132
    GT Group Telecom Services Corp. -Pacific
    20 Bay Street, Suite 700
    Toronto ON
    M5J-2N8
    Canada
    +1-416-848-2000
    hostmaster@gt.ca

    Apart from jihadunspun.com, These creatures even have $$$ to keep jihadunspun.net registered in their name on another Canadian server .

    24.83.123.12
    Shaw Communications Inc.
    Suite 800
    630 - 3rd Ave. SW
    CalgaryAB
    T2P-4L4
    Canada
    ipadmin@sjrb.ca
    +1-403-750-7428

    Now do you suppose these Canadian Companies would be interested in hosting pro-Al Qaeda websites?

    In addition, both servers are hosted through YOURGALAXY.COM which seems to be some newfangled business AGAIN in British Columbia Canadafor providing streaming video support for JUS Binladen videos!
    Here is what I found about YOURGALAXY.COM

    E-Tech Computers Inc.
    #3080 - 8888 Odlin Cres.
    Richmond, British Columbia V6X 3Z8
    Canada
    jason@gigasales.com

    Boy thats a lot of $$$.....if JUS is a genuine Jihad Site, then the Saudis must be pouring in money like sand.

    Now here's what happened lately.....
    Genuine Jihad site Azzam.com smelt something wrong in wannabe jihadi site JUS and sounded the alarm by publishing articles titled "JUS is CIA".
    Since Azzam is widely read, it had to be closed, or it would be the end of an expensive well orchestrated operation. For reasons unknown, Azzam.com was instantly shut down and has been offline since then.

    In order to counter the damage done by Azzam.com, JUS published some damage control, which can be best described as the work of some other "Bruce Kennedy" whose experience with Islamic Arabs is Lawrence of Arabia movies and Tintin comics.
    Dont be impressed by the dropping of Koranic verses and Arabic lines.
    You can get Pakistani muslims@ 5$ an hour to do that. I am posting the whole article just in case JUS deletes it from its website noticing clumsiness.

    AND I INVITE ALL OF YOU TO TAKE A GOOD READ AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF WHETHER "BRUCE KENNEDY" WILL PLAY A GOOD ARABIAN FEMME ONLINE OR SHOULD BE REPOSTED BACK TO THE CIA RADIO STATION IN ALASKA
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The following article appeared on Jihad Unspun "Answering Azzam"

    ANSWERING AZZAM.COM

    As I sit at the computer tonight to write this, President George W. Bush is busy traveling around the world adding ally after ally to his unjust war against Islam. On the other hand, we, the Muslim Ummah, can’t seem to organize even enough to support each other, let alone organize to fight the enemy. It is a sharp contrast indeed.

    From the time I reverted to Islam I have had to come to grips with the sorry state of the Muslim nation. Had I known this in advance, it may have made a difference. I am sure many considering Islam are turned off by the behaviour of Muslims who are supposed to be the most pious of peoples.

    The Muslim Ummah needs as many voices as possible, working together in a coordinated effort to lift up the reality of the situation and to strengthen our ranks. These days, this is dangerous business, with attacks from authorities, Jewish vigilante groups and others, who all target sites that simply tell the other side of the story. On top of that, there are the death threats, damage to our privacy, our businesses etc., which is “business as usual” when it comes to publishing information in the West that is contrary to the Bush regime and that is pro-Truth. This we expect and

    It is He who keeps us strong in our commitment.

    Jihad Unspun has had a clear mandate from the beginning, to keep Muslims and non-Muslims primarily in the West informed of the events of this current conflict and to counter the false success of the American-led Coalition that the daily facts tell us is in perception only! The first casualty of war is truth and peace will never be achieved by ignoring the “great divide” and pretending it doesn’t exist.

    JUS has become a major voice for the other side of the war on “terrorism”. As most of our readers know, I started JUS as a Christian after 911 because I came to know that the Muslims were being wrongfully treated and I had the skills, the resources and the conviction to do it. Shortly thereafter, I reverted to Islam and I am required on a daily basis to make sacrifices for this Ummah. One year later, I still sleep in shifts to make sure the news gets out every day and yet it is not even close to being enough that I can do for my Allah.

    JUS today is no longer just my effort but rather the effort of a group of individuals who span the globe and who have come together under a common goal. JUS staff members are located in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. We are journalists, writers, graphic artists, IT professionals, translators, and scholars who are for the most part Muslims, with a few exceptions.

    Our marketing strategy is unique. We are trying to reach Muslims and non-Muslims primarily in the West in a professional and serious way. We publish both mainstream and uncensored news on the basis that given both sides, viewers will then begin to see that what they are learning from mainstream news is not all there is to the story. Our own material is clearly marked and we do not use the word “terrorist” as, until now, there has been no internationally accepted definition of a “terrorist” however we are not at liberty to edit third party articles. This word is commonly used even in Muslim material and therefore we look for the overall value of a given piece, not in criticism of every word its author has chosen to use.

    JUS is a labor of love for Allah, with over 25 active volunteers working in various positions along with a small paid staff. We intend to build it into a large scale publishing house with global reach through our streaming channel, stores and the original productions we have begun to create, if Allah wills.

    In recent weeks, JUS has once again come under attack by Azzam Publications and their affiliate Maktabah Al Ansaar - our very brothers in Islam. Although some may consider it flattering that they have acknowledged us as such a formidable competitor, they are fully aware that the information they are disseminating is false and we believe this damages the Ummah. More important is the fact that it shocks us to see to what degree they have ignored the saying of Allah, Exalted and Elevated, in Surah Al-Hujuraat:

    To date, we have chosen to ignore their efforts to discredit us as Allah, Exalted and Elevated, tells us about the characteristics of the true Muslims in Surah Al-Furqaan (The Criterion)


    Furthermore this does nothing other than help the enemy however we now feel it is our duty to disclose the truth of the matter in an attempt and with the hope of laying the matter to rest and unifying the overall effort for the good of the Ummah we all serve.

    Contrary to Azzam’s latest statement, we have experienced a difficult relationship with both Azzam and Maktabah Al Ansaar from the beginning. We came to them in the spirit of cooperation as the new kid on the block and were met instantly with resentment. Our first encounter was indeed an adverse one and over a news item that we published which they confused as an attack on them. We were horrified, as that is not what the item intended or said (we use American English!). To show our good intentions, we published a full retraction – something that is never done in publishing as this tends too weaken the confidence of readers, but nevertheless we put their needs above ours to make sure they were exonerated and we also ran free ads for them as an added gesture. We did not receive even a thank you on this one and this was just the beginning.

    We then purchased the exclusive web rights to Osama bin Laden’s Unseen tape from Maktabah Al Ansaar for a large sum of money Why? So that no news network would get to play the REAL Binladen video? asks alphaville81 as a special promotion to launch our JUSPLUS streaming channel with. No sooner was our credit card charged but they were actively on message boards discrediting our exclusive!! This experience is only useful now as they have inferred publicly that we are the CIA. Well, considering they know our real names, our locations and our credit card numbers which they have profited by using, we would like a refund. If they are convinced we are the CIA, they surely wouldn’t want to use our money!!

    We still continued in the spirit of cooperation. We approached Maktabah Al Ansaar to joint venture with us on our streaming channel (at no cost to them) and initially they indicated some interest in this initiative. We spent an entire week preparing a proposal they never even bothered to respond to however it didn’t end there. We were then contacted by an employee of Maktabah Al Ansaar telling us that the “boss” had lost his complimentary password to JP and he wanted to have another look at it on the basis of evaluating our proposal. As it was the weekend and tech staff was off, we gave this employee an administrator’s password to the system. A few hours later, the employee contacted us to say and I quote “I lied, I was just bored at work and wanted to watch
    movies”. Bandwidth costs money, particularly streaming, and needless to say we had to bring a tech in on the weekend to change the passwords on our system. We have never heard another word from Maktabah Al Ansaar on this proposal and frankly I was appalled at the readiness of their staff member to state his less than pious intentions.

    Shortly after that, we noticed that Azzam’s Qoqaz URL had been forwarded to Jihad Unspun. Their site had been shut down and now their mirror site was directed to us!! We had offered to help them at one point however no one even contacted us over this and considering they had been shut down by MI5, we would have like to have been at least given a choice to decide whether we wanted to take this on. Shortly thereafter, the Qoqaz URL was also down but not until after we had spent a day writing code to break this forward! In this latest attack by Azzam they claim we have used their “great” image to profile ourselves however this action raises the question whether the reverse was in fact the case.

    It gets worse. Azzam was then sending us news by email. Our site is about the war on “terrorism” and therefore news must meet the criteria. There are lots of good dawa sites out there and we are focused on Jihad. We continued to publish their news items that we felt were appropriate for our portal, but once again, we came under the wrath of Azzam, who expected us to publish all of their news regardless of whether it met our mandate or not!!

    We stopped carrying Azzam's news for two reasons – first it was inconsistent and so we never knew if the site would be available or if we would receive their news daily or when the next complaint would come. That’s when we secured volunteers to start translating from Pakistan and Urdu dailies. Secondly, we soon discovered that the information in Daily Islam, Ausaf etc was almost identical to that of Azzam’s and because these are established sources that publish also in hard copy, we chose to go this way so that we can be assured that daily we can deliver this kind of news. Legally, if the item is translated, the author of the translation can take
    credit for it so assuming that Azzam is translating from these sources, they have the right to issue this as their own accreditation however we believe that viewers should know where an article is sourced from so we creditthe original source and show ourselves only as the translators.

    I was then contacted by Maktabah Al Ansaar and informed that they had an opportunity to purchase the last will of Al-Hawsni tape however the cost was more than they could afford independently and we were asked to partner with them on this project. I was told that each of us (Maktabah and JUS) would be required to put in 3000 pounds which in Canadian dollars is more than $6,000 or almost a year’s college education. I asked if they could give me 24 hours to take this to our Advisory board, which they agreed to. Thank goodness I now have knowledgeable brothers who know about these matters, as when I discussed this matter with my brothers, the advised me that they had already secured the tape from Saudi Arabia and in fact this type of material doesn’t cost anywhere near that kind of money. I went back to Maktabah Al Ansaar within the allotted time frame, declining their offer and also offering to share our tape with them at no cost. Much to my surprise, they advised me that they had already gone ahead and purchased this tape with the help of other brothers! We wonder to this day what would have happened had we agreed to this large fee considering others had already been involved. That was the last we heard from Maktabah Al Ansaar and to date we have only ever purchased only one video from them.

    The alleged Osama bin Laden statement recently published on Azzam's site we do not believe is Osama bin Laden’s. We ignored this piece until we realized that many viewers were sending it in thinking it was authentic. Many things in this alleged address didn’t add up for us but we eventually published it with an Editor’s note, sharing our concerns. We have translated hundreds of pages of OBL and have some expertise in this area. We believe that it is our job to share what information we have so that our viewers have all of the facts. Today, we still do not believe this is authentic OBL for the following reasons:

    It has never appeared on Arab sources that are known for disseminating OBL material - not on Al Jazeera, not on Alneda, Jehad.net or any of the known places for this information. Bin Laden always issues statements through Arab sources, which Azzam is not.

    It was unsigned and undated and until recently, no ac
    creditation whatsoever appeared about the source of this alleged address when it first appeared on Azzam’s site. Azzam now attributes this piece to Yosi Fouda however one thing is for sure, Fouda has ties to Al Jazeera and if this were a legitimate piece, AJ would have run it. Alternately, if it was real – it would be everywhere!!

    The content of this piece is not typical Bin Laden and it is a stretch to think that he would address the American media. He cares not what the American press thinks, which on any given day says a variety of things about him. He cares about Allah and the Ummah. Further, the alleged statement came only a few days following his last major statement, which was the first in a long while and it defies logic that he would risk issuing another address within such a short time frame.

    Even the opening statement of this address negates his previous positions which to date have been absolutely consistent.
    This is strictly our opinion but one that is founded on the same basis that we determine the authenticity of any other piece that we publish. If we have concerns about its authenticity, we flag it with an Editor’s note and we leave the decision to our viewers, who have their own intelligence with which to make a decision.

    Azzam’s latest slight against JUS comes over the alleged casualty shot that is currently published on their site and raises the possibility that our brothers do not know how to verify a valid photograph when they see one. We did not pick this picture up as it is obviously computer-generated, which even the untrained eye can see. We have not addressed this is a major way on the site to avoid embarrassing our brothers but we publish it now here so that in future, everyone will have the knowledge to determine whether a photograph is authentic or not.

    We would all love to have an abundance of visual proof of what we know is the truth about American casualties, which is near impossible considering the current state of lock down in Afghanistan. The alleged casualty has two big problems – there are two different resolutions in one picture which only results in computer-generated art and it lacks perspective (the soldier is laid over the rocks without the proper perspective that would occur in real life). Below you will find the alleged casualty, along with what we believe may be the original shot (from CNN) and another shot we have created using the same source photo and a different background. You be the judge.

    We do not believe that publishing this kind of information helps the Muslims cause. We must put out valid material if we are to be taken seriously.

    As a revert, I come willingly to Islam – I am not a Muslim in name but in faith. I have been blessed with some very knowledgeable brothers who assist me daily to understand Islam’s practical application. I have tried in every possible way to support the efforts of Azzam and Maktabah Al Ansaar however I do not serve either – I serve Allah and Allah expects me to publish at the best level possible, even when it is unpopular.

    The timing of this latest attack is curious indeed – it came only a day after we launched our Video Store. Our tapes come from direct sources in Saudi Arabia and we will continue to purchase from these sources unless Maktabah Al Ansaar becomes competitive in their pricing.

    So there you have it. We are not the CIA and both Azzam and Maktabah Al Ansaar are fully aware of that fact. We do not buy our tapes from them and we do not publish computer-generated casualty shots. We use the best of our intelligence in evaluating news, footage and photos. We are not infallible and can certainly err in our judgment however that does not negate the fact that we do our very best to serve this Ummah.

    Many people wonder why our site hasn’t been down – indeed it has, it is just that we planned for this from the beginning. We have been forced to changed locations three times to date however we are technically knowledgeable and therefore we have only experienced one small down in moving so far. We experience identically the same problems as the others and we expect more of this not less.

    The CIA accusation doesn’t cut water either. Surely the CIA puts out disinformation but logic defies this accusation for several reasons. Firstly, what would they achieve? A list of email addresses and IP addresses of faceless Muslims and non-Muslims with no other information? JUS get approximately 500,000 hits a day and the cost of producing JUS, let alone trying to develop some kind of tangible leads based on IPs and emails, would make this price prohibitive. Secondly, the CIA may be involved in disinformation but never would they put out Casualty Reports and send them to the media as JUS has done – this is the Bush administration's worse nightmare. The CIA are budget and resource restricted – they wouldn’t play around at this level for some possible low level gain nor would they break the cardinal casualty rule.

    Furthermore, Azzam has said in their latest attack that any article contradicting their news is an attack on them which according to them is the first reason that led them to believe “JUS is CIA”!! They make this statement with respect to an article we published that contradicted mainstream reports that Ramzi Bin Al Shaiba was arrested in a raid in Karachi. Not only is this absolutely arrogant, which is clearly unIslamic according to the Ahadeeth by the Prophet (saws) that states

    Really...Thanks for reminding me, brother in faith writes alphaville81Our sources were based on reports from Jehad Online, which our article clearly attributed. Azzam acknowledges that Jehad Online was our source of information so it would be logical that just as we published material that contradicted the “infallible” Azzam’s news item (remember the Prophet’s saying: “Every son of Adam is fallible”), Jehad Online also would taste their wrath. Yet in their statement, Azzam praises Jehad Online (albeit after reminding viewers that both Jehad Online and Alneda came online after 911 inferring that they are not as seasoned as Azzam). So the question remains whether this has anything to do with the fact that Alneda and Jehad Online publishes in Arabic and therefore not considered to be real competitors?

    From the time I have began publishing JUS, there has been no less than three times that I have seen Azzam dis
    credit other media outlets and countless times they continue to publish the fact that they are the only authentic news. Well frankly that is just untrue – there are several sources of authentic, uncensored news such as Daily Islam, Ausaf, Dawn, Kavkaz, Jehad.net, Jehad Online, Alneda and many others, including JUS.

    Many Muslims make sacrifices to work on this portal every day and this latest attack is an attack on their efforts. That disturbs me. We have been nothing other than supportive from the beginning and it is unfortunate that our success is so resented. As a seasoned publisher, there is an old saying which is that “there is nothing better than controversy on a slow news day”. What that means is that controversy creates interest and this attack did not hurt hits on JUS but rather fueled them as people are interested to find out for themselves. We expect this had the same effect for Azzam’s site however we don’t think the expense of the Ummah is the right way to go about creating an audience. The only thing this mud slinging hurts is the Ummah and the Jewish vigilante groups had a heyday with this latest attack by Azzam, as I am sure the authorities did too, as they perceive success in getting the Muslims fighting amongst themselves.

    We do not serve Azzam or Maktabah Al Ansaar – we serve Allah and Allah alone. With or without these brothers, JUS will continue to expand our efforts and fight the righteous Jihad as long as Allah wills it and we have breath in our bodies.

    When one demonizes others, they see themselves as righteous and the abstract “enemy” as evil. This is naive, self-righteous, and unIslamic. When one does this, they have been drawn into simplistic dualism. It is on the basis that we appeal to our brothers to bury their hatchet for the greater good of the Ummah. This behaviour is childish and does not reflect well on them and only takes time away from the important work we both have to do. We make this appeal publicly with full knowledge that our brothers know exactly who were are and the sincerity of our intentions and we leave the outcome to Allah, as He wills it.

    On a final note, prior to releasing this statement, we have contacted Azzam and Maktabah Al Ansaar urging them to retract their statement for the good of the Ummah. We have had no reply.

    I swear by Allah that these are the facts and I ask Allah to encourage our brothers to do the right thing, unifying the efforts of the Ummah. Further, we ask all of our brothers and sisters to forgive us for our shortcomings and our prayer is All praise be to Allah.


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     Tuesday, November 23, 2004

    Ten Myths About American Thanksgiving

      By
    Rick Shenkman
    (Rick Shenkman is editor of History News Network)

    MYTH # 1 : The Pilgrims Held the First Thanksgiving

    To see what the first Thanksgiving was like you have to go to: Texas.

    Texans claim the first Thanksgiving in America actually took place in little San Elizario, a community near El Paso, in 1598 -- twenty-three years before the Pilgrims' festival.

    For several years they have staged a reenactment of the event that culminated in the Thanksgiving celebration: the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan de Onate on the banks of the Rio Grande.

    De Onate is said to have held a big Thanksgiving festival after leading hundreds of settlers on a grueling 350-mile long trek across the Mexican desert.

    Then again, you may want to go to Virginia.

    At the Berkeley Plantation on the James River they claim the first Thanksgiving in America was held there on December 4th, 1619....two years before the Pilgrims' festival....and every year since 1958 they have reenacted the event.

    In their view it's not the Mayflower we should remember, it's the Margaret, the little ship which brought 38 English settlers to the plantation in 1619.

    The story is that the settlers had been ordered by the London company that sponsored them to commemorate the ship's arrival with an annual day of Thanksgiving.

    Hardly anybody outside Virginia has ever heard of this Thanksgiving, but in 1963 President Kennedy officially recognized the plantation's claim.

    MYTH # 2 : Thanksgiving Was About Family

    If by Thanksgiving, you have in mind the Pilgrim festival, forget about it being a family holiday. Put away your Norman Rockwell paintings. Turn off Bing Crosby. Thanksgiving was a multicultural community event.

    If it had been about family, the Pilgrims never would have invited the Indians to join them.

    MYTH # 3 : Thanksgiving Was About Religion

    No it wasn't.

    Paraphrasing the answer provided above, if Thanksgiving had been about religion, the Pilgrims never would have invited the Indians to join them.

    Besides, the Pilgrims would never have tolerated festivities at a true religious event.

    Indeed, what we think of as Thanksgiving was really a harvest festival.

    Actual "Thanksgivings" were religious affairs; everybody spent the day praying. Incidentally, these Pilgrim Thanksgivings occurred at different times of the year, not just in November.

    MYTH # 4 :The Pilgrims Ate Turkey

    What did the Pilgrims eat at their Thanksgiving festival?

    They didn't have corn on the cob, apples, pears, potatoes or even cranberries. No one knows if they had turkey, although they were used to eating turkey.

    The only food we know they had for sure was deer. 11(And they didn't eat with a fork; they didn't have forks back then.)

    So how did we get the idea that you have turkey and cranberry and such on Thanksgiving?

    It was because the Victorians prepared Thanksgiving that way.

    And they're the ones who made Thanksgiving a national holiday, beginning in 1863, when Abe Lincoln issued his presidential Thanksgiving proclamations...two of them: one to celebrate Thanksgiving in August, a second one in November.

    Before Lincoln Americans outside New England did not usually celebrate the holiday. (The Pilgrims, incidentally, didn't become part of the holiday until late in the nineteenth century. Until then, Thanksgiving was simply a day of thanks, not a day to remember the Pilgrims.)

    MYTH # 5 : The Pilgrims Landed on Plymouth Rock

    According to historian George Willison, who devoted his life to the subject, the story about the rock is all malarkey, a public relations stunt pulled off by townsfolk to attract attention.

    What Willison found out is that the Plymouth Rock legend rests entirely on the dubious testimony of Thomas Faunce, a ninety-five year old man, who told the story more than a century after the Mayflower landed.

    Unfortunately, not too many people ever heard how we came by the story of Plymouth Rock.

    Willison's book came out at the end of World War II and Americans had more on their minds than Pilgrims then.

    So we've all just gone merrily along repeating the same old story as if it's true when it's not. And anyway, the Pilgrims didn't land in Plymouth first. They first made landfall at Provincetown.

    Of course, the people of Plymouth stick by hoary tradition.

    Tour guides insist that Plymouth Rock is THE rock.

    MYTH # 6 : Pilgrims Lived in Log Cabins

    No Pilgrim ever lived in a log cabin.

    The log cabin did not appear in America until late in the seventeenth century, when it was introduced by Germans and Swedes.

    The very term "log cabin" cannot be found in print until the 1770s. Log cabins were virtually unknown in England at the time the Pilgrims arrived in America.

    So what kind of dwellings did the Pilgrims inhabit?

    As you can see if you visit Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, the Pilgrims lived in wood clapboard houses made from sawed lumber.

    MYTH # 7 : Pilgrims Dressed in Black

    Not only did they not dress in black, they did NOT wear those funny buckles, weird shoes, or black steeple hats.

    So how did we get the idea of the buckles?

    Plimoth Plantation historian James W. Baker explains that in the nineteenth century, when the popular image of the Pilgrims was formed, buckles served as a kind of emblem of quaintness.

    That's the reason illustrators gave Santa buckles.

    Even the blunderbuss, with which Pilgrims are identified, was a symbol of quaintness. The blunderbuss was mainly used to control crowds. It wasn't a hunting rifle.

    But it looks out of date and fits the Pilgrim stereotype.

    MYTH # 8 : Pilgrims, Puritans -- Same Thing

    Though even presidents get this wrong -- Ronald Reagan once referred to Puritan John Winthrop as a Pilgrim -- Pilgrims and Puritans were two different groups.

    The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and lived in Plymouth.

    The Puritans, arriving a decade later, settled in Boston.

    The Pilgrims welcomed heterogeneousness. Some (so-called "strangers") came to America in search of riches, others (so-called "saints") came for religious reasons.

    The Puritans, in contrast, came over to America strictly in search of religious freedom. Or, to be technically correct, they came over in order to be able to practice their religion freely. They did not welcome dissent.

    That we confuse Pilgrims and Puritans would have horrified both.

    Puritans considered the Pilgrims incurable utopians.

    While both shared the belief that the Church of England had become corrupt, only the Pilgrims believed it was beyond redemption. They therefore chose the path of Separatism.

    Puritans held out the hope the church would reform.

    MYTH # 9 : Puritans Hated Sex

    Actually, they welcomed sex as a God-given responsibility.

    When one member of the First Church of Boston refused to have conjugal relations with his wife two years running, he was expelled.

    Cotton Mather, the celebrated Puritan minister, condemned a married couple who had abstained from sex in order to achieve a higher spirituality.

    They were the victims, he wrote, of a "blind zeal."

    MYTH # 10 : Puritans Hated Fun

    H.L. Mencken defined Puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy!"

    Actually, the Puritans welcomed laughter and dressed in bright colors (or, to be precise, the middle and upper classes dressed in bright colors; members of the lower classes were not permitted to indulge themselves -- they dressed in dark clothes).

    As Carl Degler long ago observed, "The Sabbatarian, antiliquor, and antisex attitudes usually attributed to the Puritans are a nineteenth-century addition to the much more moderate and wholesome view of life's evils held by the early settlers of New England."

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Following article is from "Thanksgiving on the Net" website


    The Story of the Pilgrims and America's First Thanksgiving

    The Pilgrims, who celebrated the first thanksgiving in America, were fleeing religious prosecution in their native England. In 1609 a group of Pilgrims left England for the religious freedom in Holland where they lived and prospered. After a few years their children were speaking Dutch and had become attached to the dutch way of life. This worried the Pilgrims. They considered the Dutch frivolous and their ideas a threat to their children's education and morality.

    So they decided to leave Holland and travel to the New World. Their trip was financed by a group of English investors, the Merchant Adventurers. It was agreed that the Pilgrims would be given passage and supplies in exchange for their working for their backers for 7 years.

    On Sept. 6, 1620 the Pilgrims set sail for the New World on a ship called the Mayflower. They sailed from Plymouth, England and aboard were 44 Pilgrims, who called themselves the "Saints", and 66 others ,whom the Pilgrims called the "Strangers."

    The long trip was cold and damp and took 65 days. Since there was the danger of fire on the wooden ship, the food had to be eaten cold. Many passengers became sick and one person died by the time land was sighted on November 10th.

    The long trip led to many disagreements between the "Saints" and the "Strangers". After land was sighted a meeting was held and an agreement was worked out, called the Mayflower Compact, which guaranteed equality and unified the two groups. They joined together and named themselves the "Pilgrims."

    Although they had first sighted land off Cape Cod they did not settle until they arrived at Plymouth, which had been named by Captain John Smith in 1614. It was there that the Pilgrims decide to settle. Plymouth offered an excellent harbor. A large brook offered a resource for fish. The Pilgrims biggest concern was attack by the local Native American Indians. But the Patuxets were a peaceful group and did not prove to be a threat.

    The first winter was devastating to the Pilgrims. The cold, snow and sleet was exceptionally heavy, interfering with the workers as they tried to construct their settlement. March brought warmer weather and the health of the Pilgrims improved, but many had died during the long winter. Of the 110 Pilgrims and crew who left England, less that 50 survived the first winter.

    On March 16, 1621 , what was to become an important event took place, an Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement. The Pilgrims were frightened until the Indian called out "Welcome" (in English!).

    His name was Samoset and he was an Abnaki Indian. He had learned English from the captains of fishing boats that had sailed off the coast. After staying the night Samoset left the next day. He soon returned with another Indian named Squanto who spoke better English than Samoset. Squanto told the Pilgrims of his voyages across the ocean and his visits to England and Spain. It was in England where he had learned English.

    Squanto's importance to the Pilgrims was enormous and it can be said that they would not have survived without his help. It was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap. He taught them which plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers. He taught them how to plant the Indian corn by heaping the earth into low mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound. The decaying fish fertilized the corn. He also taught them to plant other crops with the corn.

    The harvest in October was very successful and the Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to put away for the winter. There was corn, fruits and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and meat to be cured over smoky fires.

    The Pilgrims had much to celebrate, they had built homes in the wilderness, they had raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. They had beaten the odds and it was time to celebrate.

    The Pilgrim Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native Americans. They invited Squanto and the other Indians to join them in their celebration. Their chief, Massasoit, and 90 braves came to the celebration which lasted for 3 days. They played games, ran races, marched and played drums. The Indians demonstrated their skills with the bow and arrow and the Pilgrims demonstrated their musket skills. Exactly when the festival took place is uncertain, but it is believed the celebration took place in mid-October.

    The following year the Pilgrims harvest was not as bountiful, as they were still unused to growing the corn. During the year they had also shared their stored food with newcomers and the Pilgrims ran short of food.

    The 3rd year brought a spring and summer that was hot and dry with the crops dying in the fields. Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and it was soon thereafter that the rain came. To celebrate - November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. This date is believed to be the real true beginning of the present day Thanksgiving Day.

    The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

    In 1817 New York State had adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The History of Thanksgiving and its Celebrations

    Throughout history mankind has celebrated the bountiful harvest with thanksgiving ceremonies.

    Before the establishment of formal religions many ancient farmers believed that their crops contained spirits which caused the crops to grow and die. Many believed that these spirits would be released when the crops were harvested and they had to be destroyed or they would take revenge on the farmers who harvested them. Some of the harvest festivals celebrated the defeat of these spirits.

    Harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations were held by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Hebrews, the Chinese, and the Egyptians.


    The Greeks

    The ancient Greeks worshipped many gods and goddesses. Their goddess of corn (actually all grains) was Demeter who was honored at the festival of Thesmosphoria held each autumn.

    On the first day of the festival married women (possibility connecting childbearing and the raising of crops) would build leafy shelters and furnish them with couches made with plants. On the second day they fasted. On the third day a feast was held and offerings to the goddess Demeter were made - gifts of seed corn, cakes, fruit, and pigs. It was hoped that Demeter's gratitude would grant them a good harvest.


    The Romans

    The Romans also celebrated a harvest festival called Cerelia, which honored Ceres their goddess of corn (from which the word cereal comes). The festival was held each year on October 4th and offerings of the first fruits of the harvest and pigs were offered to Ceres. Their celebration included music, parades, games and sports and a thanksgiving feast.


    The Chinese

    The ancient Chinese celebrated their harvest festival, Chung Ch'ui, with the full moon that fell on the 15th day of the 8th month. This day was considered the birthday of the moon and special "moon cakes", round and yellow like the moon, would be baked. Each cake was stamped with the picture of a rabbit - as it was a rabbit, not a man, which the Chinese saw on the face of the moon.

    The families ate a thanksgiving meal and feasted on roasted pig, harvested fruits and the "moon cakes". It was believed that during the 3 day festival flowers would fall from the moon and those who saw them would be rewarded with good fortune.

    According to legend Chung Ch'ui also gave thanks for another special occasion. China had been conquered by enemy armies who took control of the Chinese homes and food. The Chinese found themselves homeless and with no food. Many staved. In order to free themselves they decided to attack the invaders.

    The women baked special moon cakes which were distributed to every family. In each cake was a secret message which contained the time for the attack. When the time came the invaders were surprised and easily defeated. Every year moon cakes are eaten in memory of this victory.


    The Hebrews

    Jewish families also celebrate a harvest festival called Sukkoth. Taking place each autumn, Sukkoth has been celebrated for over 3000 years.

    Sukkoth is know by 2 names - Hag ha Succot - the Feast of the Tabernacles and Hag ha Asif - the Feast of Ingathering. Sukkoth begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, 5 days after Yom Kippur the most solemn day of the Jewish year.

    Sukkoth is named for the huts (succots) that Moses and the Israelites lived in as they wandered the desert for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land. These huts were made of branches and were easy to assemble, take apart, and carry as the Israelites wandered through the desert.

    When celebrating Sukkoth, which lasts for 8 days, the Jewish people build small huts of branches which recall the tabernacles of their ancestors. These huts are constructed as temporary shelters, as the branches are not driven into the ground and the roof is covered with foliage which is spaced to let the light in. Inside the huts are hung fruits and vegetables, including apples, grapes, corn, and pomegranates. On the first 2 nights of Sukkoth the families eat their meals in the huts under the evening sky.


    The Egyptians

    The ancient Egyptians celebrated their harvest festival in honor of Min, their god of vegetation and fertility. The festival was held in the springtime, the Egyptian's harvest season.

    The festival of Min featured a parade in which the Pharaoh took part. After the parade a great feast was held. Music, dancing, and sports were also part of the celebration.

    When the Egyptian farmers harvested their corn, they wept and pretended to be grief-stricken. This was to deceive the spirit which they believed lived in the corn. They feared the spirit would become angry when the farmers cut down the corn where it lived.


    The United States

    In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.

    The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

    The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

    In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.


    Canada

    Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Observance of the day began in 1879.




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